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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Passaic Is Better Than Israel

Shalom Yishai,

I just got back from a beautiful Chasuna and had an interesting conversation with two fellow Jews I hold very highly from. They are both seriously committed BT's who learn a lot and both spent more than a year of full time learning in various BT yeshivas.

Anyhow, I am always trying to get people excited about making aliya even if I myself have no concrete plans (I have to justify myself here somehow). How would you respond to their main reason as to why Passaic is better than Israel:

As I think you are aware Passaic is unique on the American scene in that it his composed of seriously committed BT Torah Jews who happen to also have jobs and earn an honest living. They claim that such a phenomenon (or hashkoffa if you will) does not exist at the community level in Israel. In Israel, one is either Charadi and can't work but has Torah, or one is Dati Leumi and works but is not so "yeshivish" in the American sense or at least sincerely committed to the Torah.

As I personally have not spent any significant time there, I can only rely on what I hear from others. I must admit I hear this excuse a lot. A BT who is seriously committed and works is better off in a place like Passaic or maybe Baltimore or Atlanta. The cultural differences in Israel are just too much to contend with... Israel is too black and white.


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  • At 1:14 PM , Anonymous Hillel said...

    "Too much" is a subjective term that can either be halakhically/historically/personally justified, or not. Lichora, halakhically it cannot - as the Talmud specifically ordains, "One should forever live in the Land in Israel even amidst idolworshippers as opposed to abroad among Torah scholars."

    Historically: We are bidden to see ourselves as part of the Jewish People not just in the here and now - as in, "I live in a kehilla that is a perfect combination of x and y" - but rather as part of a historic process beginning with Avraham; Moshe and Bnei Yisrael in the desert and being promised the Land; Yehoshua, David, Shlomo, the Neviim who were Divinely told to tell us that we will return, the Exile, and today. Given that perspective, it appears hard to justify remaining in US merely because it is religiously comfortable.

  • At 1:28 PM , Blogger Pinchas said...

    Dear Yisroel,

    Ask these fellow Jews, for starters, to please visit Ramat Beit Shemesh (Aleph). That's just one of the many communities that fit what they described - examples of others include many areas of Yerushalayim like Har Nof, Bayit Vagan, and more recently Kiryat Yovel, also Yishuvim like Chashmonaim and moshavim such as Moshav Matisyahu all fit the bill as well.)

    So stop making excuses. See you and them soon in Eretz Yisrael!

    Kol Tuv,

  • At 1:36 PM , Blogger Malkah said...

    Dear Yisroel,
    Warning: This is going to be a Tough Love comment.

    I have spent a little time in Passaic, and it is very nice, with lots of great Jewish accoutrements.

    However, I would argue your definition of Passaic as a "seriously committed BT" community, based on some of the things you've said.

    First of all, I'm not suggesting that the Jews of Passaic wouldn't take a bullet for a Torah scroll or approach their mitzvahs with meager enthusiasm. But I feel uncomfortable labelling anyone as seriously committed who isn't... well, seriously committed to all Torah values. Open to any page in the Torah, and you're liable to read Hashem waxing poetic about the Land of Israel, suggesting to the Jewish people that if they're really, REALLY good, they'll get the best thing Hashem has to offer: The Land of Israel. So what we're talking about is Jews who are seriously committed to Shabbat, to kashrut, to taharat hamishpacha, etc. But you have Jews who aren't so committed to observing the laws of Shemittah, milchemet mitzvah, avoiding dibat HaAretz or loshon hara about the 'difficult culture' in the Holy Land, not to mention flouting Hashem's desire for the Jewish people uniting in His land.

    Which brings me to topic number 2 - the "difficult culture" in Israel. American Jews who suggest that they can't move to Israel because the cultural differences are too stark are effectively saying that they have more in common and feel more at home with the goyim of their given area than they do with their Jewish brethren in Israel - a shameful statement, indeed. Doesn't sound so "committed". Doesn't sound so Jewish.

    And you know what? It doesn't sound so American, either. What ever happened to Manifest Destiny, people? Where's that lauded American ingenuity and sticktoitiveness? Democracy?

    And by the way, what if it IS really hard here? What if there ARE struggles over hashkafah living in Israel? Shloimie from Flatbush is too good for the problems of Israel? Faiga Rivka's life goals are more important than Hashem's? I mean really! The chutzpah is almost unbearable.

    Sounds like the most serious committment some people have is to themselves. Judaism has an entirety to it. And if you don't dedicate yourself to the whole thing with all its complexity and stickiness, the only one you're seriously committed to is yourself.

  • At 1:37 PM , Blogger Pinchas said...

    Or one more thing!

    or one is Dati Leumi and works but is not so "yeshivish" in the American sense or at least sincerely committed to the Torah

    This is so, so, SO offensive! And blatant sinas chinum. So also make sure they visit Beit El so they can see how uncommitted to Torah the Dati Leumi really are...sheesh!

    {Note: After deliberation all non-constructive comments about the ignorance levels citizens of the state of New Jersey have been omitted.}

  • At 2:15 PM , Anonymous Aryeh said...

    My experience is that community works quite differently in Israel. There are, in each sector of the populace, more drastically defined paradigms. For example the Chareidi who sits and learns in Kollel and would never even consider going into the Army, despite the downside of the "ptur" tremendously limiting his job options. There's also a phenomenon I call the "party line." It's an overly simplified distillation of the particular religious "stream's" haskafa, together with an outrageously strong denial, by people "in the street," of there existing exceptions to that party line.

    It adds up to that many Americans suffer intense emotional and psychological stress and pain from trying to fit into the existing iconoclastic personal life choices here. And don't fit in, at least not as well as they might already fit in to the society and community they've found and effectively "grown up" into (in the case of BT's, or Tinokot SheNisba'u, during their "second childhood" years becoming religious) in America.

    Even Darwin agrees that man is a social animal. Being a valued part of society, contributing and giving more than just money, being an upstanding part of, being pretty much like everyone else in one's circle, are things I certainly want. I can understand that someone with those might accomplish a much happier family life and satisfying learning routine, and even value those so much as to choose to maintain them over the clear and present risk of struggle, suffering and pain of being a square peg in Israel unable to found a board with anything but round and triangular holes.

    As a person who identifies with the Chareidi yeshiva system, I was taught to focus more on trying to do the right thing, myself, than on getting others to do it. Happy to help another, but personally I find it a full time job trying to live my own life.

  • At 3:20 AM , Blogger Bennie said...

    In vol VIII of Igrot Moshe Rav Moshe Fienstein ZT'L observed that the only time in history all Jewry were expected to be in Kolell /yeshiva were the 40 years in the desert.
    Also in Ramat Beit Shemesh and Har Nof aren't there anglo charedim who learn hard and work hard especially those who either begin their jobs at 4pm holy time /9am EST or whose profession allows them to come to the US a few weeks out of the year and that pays for living in the land the rest of time?

  • At 10:37 PM , Anonymous josh said...

    I wanna say ditto to Malkah. Incredible how it can be summed up in only two ideas.

    I want to add a few minor ideas though. How can anyone pay $20 000 a year for per kid for day school? I mean, baruch hashem, the Jews of America are blessed (supposedly) with much parnasa so they might afford it, so on one hand, it is a sign of the great importance of Jewish education that a parent is willing to pay the price of a car for a years schooling, but a) many (most?) can't afford it and b) it's absurd! People are taking loans out so they can afford schooling for their kids.

    As for the non-yeshivish dati-leumi, yeah, there's plenty of that. You feel like your living in America. They have tv's and cable, go to movies, go the the mall often, etc... So? Find out where those places are and don't go there, and I promise you that you'll find many other city enclaves of serious 'torani' groups of families that make volunteering an ideal and care more about building communities than simply getting good jobs and living it up. If the city is not your thing, there are many yishuvim around the country that might fit your bill as well.

    But, if you manage to live in Pasaic and keep the frum lifestyle without ANY of the goyish culture influence you, then kol hakavod. It is really, really hard. But think about your kids a bit, are you sacrificing their future because of your comfort?

  • At 8:27 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    shalom yisroel,
    i've happened to live in passaic these last 12 years & was sent this link by a cousin who recently made aliya & lives in modiin, israel. i found your statements humorous & the feedback slightly sharp. it is a chaval to ever say that someplace is ever a better place than eretz yisroel. that said, everyone in chutz laretz & israel needs to get off their high horses & for a second, look at things with the eyes of the beholder. hard to do but necessary. torah committed jews everywhere understand what i'm about to say but seem to lose sight of it in the zealousness of their veiws. here it is: every person's life is divided by The One Above in stages. in each stage there is a tikun or tachlis that takes presidence above all else. the key, and this is very hard for most people, is being truly honest with oneself in what is required to achieve that goal for that stage. there are times when it is not appropriate to make aliya, sorry to say, & times when it is paramout. my father a'h used to say when i was a kid "better to be a ditch digger in israel than the wealthiest doctor in america". yet he never accomplished aliya. he was a tzadik & a tremendous talmid chacham and in his mind his appropriate place was here in the different communities in america that he lived his life in. i spoke to him many times about the choices he made in his life. suffice it to say his decisions were quite appropriate. from the time he was in yeshiva torah vodath in the 1940's to the time he was niftar, there wasn't a night that went by that he didn't say tikkun chatzos. his love of both the people & land of eretz yisroel took up a great part of his thoughts through out his life. passaic is a wonderful community. sadly it has its own religious politics. but paramout above all else is the sense of caring, torah learning, achdus & torah priorities that it exudes. the people in israel could learn much from it. i am not saying that in israel this doesn't exist. but i am saying that through out all the places i have been in israel and i have been all over (i come every year to say w/ a minyan kaddish & tefiloth at my father's kever on his yartzeit) the sense of achdus is sadly lacking. people have to cordone themselves off from others with different veiwpoints in order to get along. and sometimes that doesn't accomplish the goal either. a person needs to weigh the tachlis that he must achieve. if a person can accomplish his goals, even with more aggravation, in israel then his place is there. he needs to learn to respect everyone & love everyone...chareidi,chiloni,dati. walk to your own tune. or as my friends tell me of myself. be religiously complex (whatever that means). my father was a 1940's yeshiva man. their motto was intergrate yourself into society so you could be a true light onto the nations while remaining an integral torah jew. he was just that & so much more. as the years went by the yeshiva world turned. my father remained who he was. as a result he was seen as not yeshivish enough by the yeshiva world & too yeshivish by the general orthodox. he lived in america, loved everone, did his own thing & belonged no where; but was respected by everyone who met & knew him. i learned much from him & still do from my memories of him. yisroel, all i can say to you is that when someone says something like that, it means they don't have a healthy self ego. they need to work on that first, find a rebbi muvhauk (mine was my father)& then they should move to israel & walk to their own tune of torah judaism & not be concerned about what everyone around them thinks. by the way, i just purchased land in Even Shmuel, israel. it's a 50 year old moshav with 100 non-english speaking people as of yet (nefesh b'nefesh is working on it). i don't speak a word of conversational modern hebrew. they say its dati torani (whatever that means). i love everyone & will G-d willing become a resident there. i'll walk to my own tune of torah judaism as my father once did before me. G-d willing i & my family will be a light onto our people. and as i've done in passaic, new jersey, america for the last 12 years i'll show one person at a time how easy it is to be different but in the end all the same, a torah jew trying to come closer to my brothers & The Almighty Blessed Be He (wish me luck!). hatzlacha in all your endeavors.
    yossie gove

  • At 12:09 PM , Blogger Pinchas said...


    Thank you for the comment. Would you also tell Rav Zev Leff, shlita to "get off his high horse?" (And what about Harav Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, ZT"L or the Chazon Ish, ZT"L?)

    Rav Leff often laments the lack of interest in Aliyah from the Torah communities of the west and I posted his views on this issue here:

    Nothing more on this matter than what appears in that essay needs to be said.

  • At 5:53 PM , Blogger Yishai said...

    "A BT who is seriously committed and works is better off in a place like Passaic or maybe Baltimore or Atlanta."

    If these Jews were really committed to Torah they would CRY, CRY, CRY, at the fact that they are still stuck in the Galut. Is Moses a good enough example of a Jew who cried because he could not come to the Land of Israel? A Jew serves Hashem and not himself or his own comfort. A Jew is supposed to give comfort to Hashem and follow His Torah as closely as he can. If our grandparents would see how we reject Israel, they too would cry. Our Matriarch Rachel is crying, waiting for us to return.

    Say this with me: J-E-R-U-S-A-L-E-M

    How can anybody argue seriously that you can be a better Jew in Passaic? Just step out of yourself and ask a simple question - is there anyplace better to be a Jew then Jerusalem?

    There is a tremendous force out there trying to stop the Jewish people from coming home. Esau has now embraced the most cunning trick to keep us from coming home: love, comfort, and philo-Semitism.

    The Torah tells us: When Jacob met Esau after their long separation, Esau kissed Jacob. But our rabbis tell us that Esau bit him. The Sefat Emmet asks: How can it be that Torah says kissed, but our rabbis say bit - even the rabbis cannot change the actual text? The answer, says the Sefat Emmet, is that in actuality, Esau's kiss is his most dangerous bite. Indeed, America is now trying to keep us from going home by sucking us in with comfort for the Orthodox and intermarriage for secular. America's kiss is the most dangerous bite.

    Becoming a Baal-Teshuva is great, huge, a miracle. To have to stay in the Galut is sometimes understandable. But, to make it out that Passaic has a Torah advantage over Israel is sacrilegious, shortsighted, and so remarkably wrong. This is not the hallmark of the classic Baal-Teshuva who yearns to serve Hashem as wholly as he can. Baal-Teshuvas and converts traditionally make Aliyah precisely because they sense that the true calling of Judaism is in Israel. It is indicative of the Dark Side's efforts that good Jews would be led to believe that Passaic is better then Jerusalem.

  • At 5:17 PM , Anonymous Dan said...

    In the article Pinchas posted by Rabbi Leff, he addressed the issues of "Parnasah" and personal security. It seems to me that America will not long remain the goldener medina that it has been due to

    1) Outsourcing of white-collar jobs. Princeton Economics Prof. Alan Blinder found that about 25-30 million jobs could be offshored.
    2) 30 million illegal aliens bankrupting most states and taking away unskilled jobs: they are being given gov't handouts, hospitals are obligated to treat them, bankrupting the health-care system.
    3) NAFTA and its successors have caused all remaining manufacturing to flee to China. The U.S. prints more dollars to pay for the cheap goods they buy at "Great Wall of China Mart."
    4) Fall of dollar due to #3 above, Iraq War, bad loans given by banks (thanks to Alan Greenspan for lowering the interest rate to about zero.).

    When people start to suffer, they will look at the mismanagement of the Federal Reserve (Greenspan, Bernanke), the costly Iraq War (Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, Abrams) and guess whom they will blame.

    Doesn't it make sense to come to Israel now, when it is still comfortable in America and you can plan your Aliyah, than to wait for the situation to deteriorate, and have to flee.

  • At 2:01 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    As one who has spent over two-thirds of his llfe in Passaic, NJ as well as with the ba'al teshuvah community throughout the USA and Israel, let me assure you that the mere juxtaposition of Passaic and Israel is a deep spiritual sickness of Jews - frum and not-yet frum.

    That sickness can only be spoken about with people who are ready to analyze the malady openly and honestly.

    Anytime your ready, Yishai, I am ready to dialogue with you and anyone else on the matter.

    Rabbi Chaim Wasserman
    Emeritus, Young Israel of Passaic
    Now of Yerushalayim.

  • At 9:44 PM , Anonymous YM said...

    I live in Passaic. In reading these comments, I have to say that most of them reflect a Zionist hashkafa that sees living in the State of Israel, today, as a Mitzvoth, just like keeping Kosher or not driving on Shabbat. However, my Rabbi and most of the Rabbi's in Passaic don't see it that way. My wife and I were meeting with a Rav to discuss buying a house in Passaic. He didn't say to us "What do you mean? Why aren't you making aliyah?". Another Rav I am close to would discourage Aliyah if the person wasn't going to learn full-time and says that the Beis Medrash IS Eretz Yisroel. He has also said that even Israel is part of Galut at this moment. The Jewish Observer magazine had a big article about making Aliyah and their take was that unless you are prepared to tow the line of the Israeli Gedolim and conform to their hashkafa, it is not a good idea.

    Now, I would really love to live in Israel and really, I agree with 95% of the comments above. The real point I am trying to make is that if you want to convince people to move to Israel, you have to convince the Rabbi's here in the USA that this is really a Mitzvoth that we have to do. Outside of the Zionist world, this is not the hashkafa, so really we are back to arguing about hashkafa, yes?

    Hi Rabbi Wasserman!

  • At 2:11 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I'm asking for information...I recently saw a movie made in the '80's with a popular actor of the time, Robby Benton. It was interesting to me because I didn't realize the Orthodox Jews of America, at the time of the fighting for forming the State of Israel,didn't believe nor support the war of 1948. Orthodox Jews of America believed the Messiah would do this for them. It seems this basic belief is still alive in the Hassidic community in America. That they believe aliyah is not necessary for the the overcoming of enemies and victory of Jews in Israel. I guess they still believe the Messiah will do it all. Please, comment. judith

  • At 5:40 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Well, I made aliyah. However, I now live in the beautiful community of Passaic, NJ.

    Why Passaic? Because this is where Hashem wants me. If He wanted me in Israel, I would be in Israel. Plain and simple. Passaic does have it's politics, but doesn't everywhere? Passaic is a beautiful place to live. I believe that as long as you are growing as a Jew, and working on your middos, it doesn’t matter where you live. You can find the same sfarim in our sfarim store that you can find in Israel. Torah isn’t about where you live; it’s about how you live it!

    I remember when I lived in Israel and I had that attitude that EVERY Jew belonged in Israel. How could you not! Now? I want them all in Passaic. There seems to be a holier than thou attitude towards people who have “made” it in Israel. The new people anyway. The older ones are the genuine ones. The ones who didn’t get money to make aliyah. The ones who did it all on their own. Now, it just seems like it’s the thing to do.

    Oh and by the way Yishai, Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg give us a bracha when we went to tell him we were moving back to the states. Lastly, someone who works for Nefesh B’Nefesh told us we “have” to go back, Israel was not for us. He also said, there is no mitzvah living in Israel if you are miserable. Yes, we did make aliyah with NBN.

    B”H I am now happier than I could have ever been there. My kids are growing tremendously. Oh and by the way, it doesn’t cost $20,000 per child to go to school here.

    I wish everyone who goes there a lot of hatzlacha. I hope you all have a better experience than I did. B”H I am so happy to be in Passaic, however, Israel will always be our home.

  • At 3:23 PM , Blogger Yishai said...

    The following is a direct translation from a book entitled 'Lech Lecha and The Secret Of the Oath' by the famous kabbalist, Rabbi Mordechai Attia, zt"l


    It is written in the book 'Kedushat HaAretz', "the rule is a person who merits to live in Eretz Yisrael is surrounded by holiness on all sides - above and below, within and without. Below, he stands on holy soil. Above, the gates of heaven are open facing Eretz Yisrael, as it says "and this is the gate of the heavens." (Genesis 28:17) From without, he is surrounded by the air which the Divine Presence exists. From within, one is given a new soul from the world of Yetzirah, and his heart is open to accept upon himself the Kingdom of Heaven, as it says in Torat Cohanim (Parshat Behar) on the verse "and I have given you the Land of Canaan, to be a G-d unto you", from here the Sages taught: "any Jew who sits in the Land of Israel and accepts upon himself the Kingdom of Heaven, is promised to merit the Afterlife." My son, my son, what can I tell you and what can I say more? It is a holy land, it is a holy land."

    Also, it is written there, "anyone who comes to live in the Holy Land, even if it seems to him that he will serve G-d better outside the land of Israel than inside the land [in the Galut], should say unto himself, "behold, there is G-d in this place..." (Genesis 28:16) and when he does not sense that there is holiness in the Land, it has eluded itself from him, as it says "and I did not know." (Genesis 28:16) Instead, one should sit with confidence and should be joyous that he merited to live on the Land.

  • At 5:00 PM , Blogger Yishai said...

    There are those who talk disparagingly about Chabad and they say: The whole Moshiach business is more Christianity than Judaism. Judaism does not go around revering a dead rabbi and talking about him coming back as Moshiach they say. Indeed, this is an important argument but it is quite minor in comparison with the earth-shattering change of Am Yisrael returning to Eretz Yisrael. Why do I bring up the Moshaich vs. Christianity business? Because here are some Christian sounding sentences that were posted on this blog:

    "I believe that as long as you are growing as a Jew, and working on your middos, it doesn’t matter where you live. You can find the same sfarim in our sfarim store that you can find in Israel. Torah isn’t about where you live; it’s about how you live it!"

    Wow, I guess all you need is love in your heart, be a good person, follow a few selected commandments and you're done.

    Here is a Talmud Bavli (yet again) Ketuvot 110:

    "A person should live in Eretz Yisrael, even in a city that is mostly non-Jews. He should not live in Chutz la'Aretz, even in a city that is mostly Jews."

    This is because anyone who lives in Eretz Yisrael is like one who has a G-d, but anyone who lives in Chutz la'Aretz is like one who does not, like it says "To give to you the Land of Canaan, to be to you G-d."

    Both Rashi and Rambam bring this down as well.

    This point is not being stressed to be haughty about my living in Israel - rather, it is a sincere call to all Jews to return and to join this era of Jewish history.

    The Passaicites believe that just because Passaic is growing in Yiddishkite that American Jewry is still thriving. It is not. The overall trend of Exile Jewry is one of decline. Passaic is an island, but the continent is sinking. On the other hand, Israel is clearly becomeing the center of Jewry, and of course, the center of Torah. Passaic is nowhere near the center of Torah that Jerusalem is. This is far from being a religious Zionist perspective. Jerusalem and Israel are the center of Torah for most Orthodox streams. Even Satmar is buying in.

    "Why Passaic? Because this is where Hashem wants me. If He wanted me in Israel, I would be in Israel. Plain and simple."

    People say: if G-d wanted me to fly he would have given me wings. The truth is, however, that G-d did intend man to fly and that's why he gave us a BRAIN and free will to use it. Maybe Hashem wants you in Passaic, but He certainly wants the rest of the Jewish people in Israel. That is why the Golah is dying out and Israel is growing. In twenty years, the words that you are reading will be proven without a shadow of a doubt.

    Also, it is true that we are all in the Galut. We have no Beit Hamikdash. But we are not all in the Golah. There is a huge difference between living Galut in Passaic and living Galut in Jerusalem. In Israel, the Galut is being attacked and beaten, in Passaic the Galut is being perpetuated.

    I pray that American Jews will no longer have to live with guilt when they read the Torah. The Torah is so clear about Hashem's passion for the Land. What a privilege it is for American Jews to have the merit to CHOOSE Israel, I hope they use it soon.

    One more point regarding: "Oh and by the way Yishai, Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg give us a bracha when we went to tell him we were moving back to the states."

    Read those words carefully. You got a bracha from a rav to succeed after you TOLD HIM what you were going to do. Did you ask him what you SHOULD do? Sure he gave you a bracha - he's a rav, and he wants your best! I give you a bracha, too, to succeed and grow and thrive. But ask me what I think you should do, as a Jew? Then I will tell you - join the G-d team and serve Him on His Land, with His people, and follow the words of His Torah.

    Though these things may sound harsh, I don't mean them with any ill will or anger. I appreciate all the people who are commenting, and I am only trying to convey my fervent passion for this issue.

  • At 7:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I wish these comments would make it clear to the discerning reader that there is something fundamentally wrong with the orthodox religion itself. The Bablyonian Talmud was trying to answer the question: what are we without the land of Israel? The problem being the Rabbis answered the question all too well. The Orthodox Judaism (that is really not orthodox at all rather it's the first established Reform Judaism) can more than keep a follower busy for 10 lifetimes without having time to consider the importance of the land of Israel that the written Torah seems to be so obsessed with. Of course it would take more than a comment section to prove such a conjecture but is it really a coincidence that after two thousand years of rabbinical rule only when a select few tore themselves from the shackles of the Rabbis was the state of Israel born. It's no coincidence that the state of Israel is still ruled by those unfettered by the manufactured weightiness of the "Orthodox" religion. It is no coincidence the nonchalance reaction by the religious American Jews from the miraculous birth and victories of the state of Israel.

    Unless the additions and subtractions that the Rabbis are guilty of perpetrating against the written Torah are pointed out and openly scrutinized then the orthodox in America will continue their slumber in the midsts of a quiet holocaust.

    It is no lie when an American Jew says that he can be just as Jewish in Passaic. Since being Jewish is such a loose/false interpretation of the tenets of the Torah, the Passiacian is congruent with Judaism but incongruent with the Torah and God.

    Unless we look into what a real Shmitah year looks like, what it means to forgive interest free loans, what it means to come to Jerusalem three times a year, to be a Jewish warrior and start forgetting about this silliness of fixed prayer, ritual filled shabbat and separating our milchis towels with our fleshis towels... trying to convince the orthodox minded there is something beyond their orthodoxy is a fruitless cause.

    In short, banning David HaLevi for daring to whisper such sentiments of doubting the "Orthodox" religion was completely counterproductive to the aims of Kumah: to bring the Jews home.

  • At 5:44 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I got to say. if you have to live in galut. Passaic is a very nice place to live.

  • At 5:55 PM , Anonymous YM said...

    I read the post by Rav Leff and it seems that he suggests that whether one is obligated to make Aliyah is something that one is obligated to seek a psak from their Rav. This is what everyone should do. To Anonymous 719pm, I don't think there is much that I can say to someone who doesn't believe in the Oral Law. I guess you can seek psak from your Karite rav.

  • At 7:12 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Anonymous 719pm finds it interesting that you half nothing to say except name calling. I'm not a Karaite.

  • At 4:59 PM , Anonymous YM said...


    The Oral Law is not a set of books, it is a mesorah, a tradition that is handed down from generation to generation. Since your interpretation of it is not based on a mesorah, it is not the Oral Law. Since you don't believe in the Oral Law (& believing that it has been misinterpreted is the same as not believing in it)and you seem to believe in the written law to some extent, you are really a Karaite, even if you don't follow Karaite tradition, either.

  • At 5:01 PM , Anonymous YM said...

    Or in other words, if you don't have a teacher, you can type a lot of words and still not be saying anything worth saying.

  • At 5:07 PM , Anonymous YM said...

    There are three levels that one can make an important life decision. One is based on emotion. The second is based on intellect and the third is based on Avodas Hashem. For most baalei teshuva in their 30's in Passaic, the emotional decision would be to move to Israel. The intellectual decision, for most, would be to not to move. The Avodas Hashem decision depends on personal factors and requires consultation with a Rav (as does the intellectual decision). Hashem should make us zoche to all be on the madreiga where the intellectual decision and the Avodas Hashem decision would both be driven by Avodas Hashem!

  • At 7:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


    the oral tradition is in effect a series of books. you say that they are the unadulterated recordings of the official interpretations of the mitzvot written in the Torah. I say they are the versions that the Pharisees came up with. The Sudducees also have their version. There are Pharisaic interpretations that seem reasonable. There are Sadducean/Karaite interpretations that seem reasonable. There are both Pharasaic/Rabbinical and Sadducean/Karaite which are just plain wrong. Sitting in the dark in Shabbat is wrong, it's not a mitzvah to sit in the dark on Shabbat. But so is charging interest on a loan to a Jew. Completely wrong and I don't care what loophole you think your Rabbis found. The Rabbis found no loophole but an excuse in order for them or their patrons to make more money!!! I wouldn't even call it a misinterpretation, it's just out right perversion going completely contrary to the laws written down by Moses. I'm no more a Karaite than I am a Pharisee. Both camps have good and bad interpretations.

    You want a world where the Rabbis do all the thinking for you. That's why you feel justified sticking your fat arse in New Jersey or what not because some befuddled Rabbi gave you a heksher.

    The Rabbis aren't going to save you when you have to answer to God why you didn't book your one-way flight with EL Al.

  • At 11:20 PM , Anonymous YM said...

    Karaite. K-a-r-a-i-t-e - you want a world where you decide everything for yourself and make it up as you go. K-a-r-a-i-t-e

  • At 10:17 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Is that all you got? Name calling? You don't need to make it up. The Rabbis did a good enough job for you. If the Rabbis say that fire is cold you will believe them and say you got a freezer burn. Well God put a brain on your head and he won't excuse you for not using it. I don't ignore Rabbinic interpretations but I also don't accept it as if it were the word of God. They quite clearly took God out of the argument and are proud of this fact.

    Call me a Karaite if you want to but you are just showing your ignorance by doing so.

  • At 10:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


    Your comment that my remarks sound X-ian is quite repulsive.

    1. Although the Gemara is filled with comments praising living in Eretz Yisrael and chastising living in chutz l'aretz, it is a machlokes Rishonim of whether or not living in Eretz Yisrael is a mitzvah chiuvis b'zmaan hazeh. You have no right to say I am picking and choosing mitzvos if my rabbanim have a halachic basis that it is not a mitzvah.
    2. The Ribono Shel Olam gives us all challenges. We have to fulfill the mitzvos to the best of our ability. Still there are some life decisions that while we may plan and hope for one thing, Hashem directs you differently. This is not at all a comparable statement to your "if G-d wants me to fly" comment. If we tried to live in Eretz Yisroel and were unsuccessful, then we are doing our part.
    3. Please do not assume to be privileged to know what transpired between a Gadol B'Yisroel and a young kollel couple four years ago in Eretz Yisroel. I don't remember seeing you there the numerous times we went to discuss with Rav Scheinberg the topic of moving back to America. We asked him what we should do. He asked us to explain the matzav that would exist in both places, then he told us to go back to America. We did not want to. He told us it would be best for us. We agreed and "told him we were going back" then he gave us a Bracha. We followed da'as Torah in our decision to return.

    My main point in my post was as follows, and perhaps it did not come out clearly, so I will be brief. Each person has an individual matzav that must be dealt with on an individual basis using da'as Torah and sechel ha'yashar. No one has the right to purport that there is a blanket answer for everyone and then rebuke anyone who doesn't follow your point of view. And for sure no one has the right to say a Yid is a kofer B'davar echad if they do not live in Israel, since it is not a mitzvah according to all poskim.

    I hear where you are coming from. Nobody would ever debate how wonderful Israel is. And the kedusha it holds. However, you are hurting people by your comments. Myself included. I have made the attempt of living in Israel. Even made aliyah with Nefesh B’Nefesh. My husband and I tried to make it work. I’m not going to go into my whole grueling story of what happened and what we did. At the end of the day, it wasn’t meant to be, and a Gadol told us to come back to the states.

    There are many wonderful Jews who live in Eretz Yisroel. Just like there are many wonderful Jews who live here in Passaic. To make a blanket statement and to be so bold as you are is quite disheartening. Perhaps if you spoke from your heart, and tried to help people see why YOU as an individual do it on a personal level, then people would be more willing to listen to what you have to say. From my perspective, it seems as if you are just looking for a fight here. As if you are enjoying the tug of war. Not everyone wants to make the big move, be it right or wrong, none of us are anyone to judge people in such decisions. Yes, we should have the desire to want to live in Yisroel, for some it’s just not the time. Whatever reason someone has, that shouldn’t matter.

    A Jew shouldn’t be looked upon from another Jew as a less “observant” Jew because they choose to live in anywhere besides Israel. Just because someone is becoming newly observant is never frowned upon because they are not doing EVERYTHING right away. Everyone does whatever they can at the level they feel capable of. If that means that it is difficult for someone to “let go” of his or her material things, then so be it. One mans material things is another mans necessities.

    You do not have to try so hard to convince people that Israel is the holiest place on earth, and that is the best place a Jew should be. We know this. However, perhaps try and keep in mind that it’s not for everyone. It certainly wasn’t for me. You are trying to convince people that it’s better there than it is here in our little town of 1600 families that make up Passaic. You can stop trying. We get your point.

    Perhaps you can take a step back and realize that your words are really hurting people. I know this was not your intent, but when you say…

    ”Our Matriarch Rachel is crying, waiting for us to return.

    Say this with me: J-E-R-U-S-A-L-E-M”

    You are stabbing me in the back. You think I wanted to leave? If you knew what I went through, perhaps you would be a bit more sympathetic with your words and a bit less harsh with your comments back to people. Tough love isn’t going to work here. People do not respond in a positive way when you make them feel bad. You have made all those difficult feelings come back to me from when I had to leave.

    Your passion can be an inspiration to many people. I hope you can find a way to use it in a positive way instead of turning people away.

    I wish you hatzlacha on whatever mission it is you are trying to accomplish.

    Shalom from a very happy homemaker in Passaic.

  • At 1:16 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Dear happy homemaker in Passaic,

    You've got me super curious. What is your horrific story that kept you from a place that 6 million other Jews call home? I'm sorry if that came out harsh so forget the harsh tone rather, really, tell us what happened. Keep it anonymous. I'd really like to hear the story.

  • At 4:42 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Anonymous says...

    You've got me super curious. What is your horrific story that kept you from a place that 6 million other Jews call home? I'm sorry if that came out harsh so forget the harsh tone rather, really, tell us what happened. Keep it anonymous. I'd really like to hear the story.

    It's unbelievable how people thrive off other peoples pain. Why do you have to know? Who's business is it of yours?

  • At 9:28 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Now you are being offensive. Why am I thriving off of other people's pain. I'm trying to understand my people. You said if Yishai knew your story he would be more compassionate. I want to know what story you could have that would justify foregoing Moshe's greatest desire before he died.

    You are making a point that it is a personal decision. It's not a bad point but so far I can't imagine an excuse good enough not to live in Israel. Call it lack of imagination. When I add things up I see over 5 million Jews that can live good lives here but you were unable to be amongst those 5 million. So far I don't think this is about the personal at all, I think every Jew can live in Israel. I think it's national. And I think you don't want to tell your story because you will prove me right. Besides the pain is over, now you're a happy housewife. What's the big deal? Fess up. What was so horrible that made you leave?

  • At 8:20 PM , Anonymous YM said...

    Anon 928: If happy homemaker's reason was good enough for Rav Scheinberg, why do you need to know what it was?

  • At 1:58 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Because Anon 928 even if you think he's a Karaite is still your family member. And Karaite Anon 928 doesn't say that Rav Scheinberg was wrong.
    Anon 928 wants to learn how he might be right. Or is there no hope for a Karaite like me. What is it with you Reform Jews? How's that for name calling?


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