Real Ahavas Yisroel


rabbi-lipschutzBy Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz 

My column last week in the Yated about the Yerushalmi demonstrations elicited varied responses. It was painful to realize how many people think so little of our chareidi brethren that they believe whatever they read which denigrates religious people. It is painful to be attacked for writing a sensible article laying out the facts and defending people for trying to exercise commonly held freedoms of expression and assembly.

The entire Israeli media was engaged in a conspiracy once again to paint the religious community as a bunch of backward infidels who are an embarrassment to their religion. It is no wonder that the anti-religious groups readily gobble it up, but it hurt to note that their reports were oft-repeated by religious people and believed by almost everyone.

Since that article was published, another spate of demonstrations broke out over the arrest of a loving Yerushalmi mother for allegedly starving her child. Without any examination or proof, the health system, police and media diagnosed her as being mentally ill and suffering from an ailment which forced her to starve her sick child. In the fifth month of pregnancy, she was dragged away, chained hand and foot, sent to the jail in Ramle, which is reserved for the most dangerous of criminals. She was held under inhumane conditions, sleeping on a concrete bed in a cell she shared with an Arab woman accused of murder.

Is that the way a civilized country treats anyone? A separate article in this week’s paper highlights the inconsistencies with the case and presents the other side of the story as documented by people in Yerushalayim who, for quite some time, have been involved with the medical issues facing this family. There are witnesses who can testify that the child lay in the hospital for months with a standing order not to feed him anything other than what he received from his feeding tubes. It was only after the mother was dragged off that they began force-feeding the child in a bid for him to gain weight.

Of all the people, the mayor of Yerushalayim, elected because the religious community could not organize around a candidate, found the perfect way to respond to the riots. He called off all garbage collection and municipal services to the areas which the shababnikim damaged. So, not only do the parents suffer by having such children, not only does the community suffer by having fires burning under their noses, but the benevolent mayor decrees that there will be no more garbage pickup. Thankfully, his tactic was overturned by the courts.

Mayor Nir Barkat also targeted Americans as scapegoats, blaming them for the violence, with no evidence. Of course, the people inclined to mock yeshivos and yeshiva bochurim cheered him on, without bothering to ascertain how many bochurim, if any, were involved in anti-social behavior they could not have learned at home or school.

Typical of the reaction to all this was an article posted by Rabbi Asher Lopatin on a secular Jewish media site, as well as a religious one. The Chicago rabbi, who stood with those who castigated the Rubashkins and their Agriprocessors Corporation which supplied much of the United States with affordable kosher meat, is now advising the members of Yerushalayim’s yishuv on how to handle their affairs.

Back then, he said that “there seems to be a pattern of Jews, and especially Orthodox Jews, not knowing how to relate to gentiles. We have a history of really trying to survive as Jews and having to protect ourselves constantly, but now we are in a different reality. If you want to stay in the Brooklyn ghetto, maybe that’s okay. But if you want to go out into the rest of world and get involved in real business, you can’t just have the same paradigm we had in Europe or the Middle East.”

When he stood beside liberal union groups seeking to unionize a Chicago hotel owned by religious people, he said, “I remember the ads defending Agriprocessors – talking about how it’s this modern, clean factory. People were just deluding themselves. That’s the impression I have here, as well.”

Anyone who visited Agri had to be impressed by the high level of cleanliness evidenced in the USDA inspected plant. That was never in doubt. Yet this rabbi was able say anything with impunity, for he was talking about a plant owned and operated by old-style religious Jews. Who would go after him for playing up the centuries-old canard that religious Jews are dirty and slimy? He can freely posture for the media and the liberals who write him up in glowing terms.

Though he is Orthodox, he does seem to have an agenda against the black-hatted Jews. It is to be expected that the secular media would play him up. What hurts even more is when the Orthodox media quotes him and publishes his missives, such as his recent one against Yerushalmi Yidden.

He writes, “Rather than rioting against what seems to be saving of a child’s life – piku’ach nefesh – didn’t you question for a moment what is going on? What are the names of chareidi organizations that protect children – and spouses – from abuse? The chareidi community in America has such organizations which serve the entire Jewish community – have you set up yours? I haven’t seen them involved or consulted. No, instead of blaming Hadassah hospital, the doctors and the media of a conspiracy, maybe you should begin a process of coming clean and accepting that domestic abuse occurs in all types of communities – from the most religious to the most secular, Jewish and non-Jewish. And that sometimes the police and the authorities have to be brought in to protect children and spouses. That would be the appropriate response, one that would be a kiddush Hashem, which would win the respect of Jews and non-Jews for Torah and for Judaism.”

Rabbi Lopatin continues:

“My brothers and sisters in the chareidi community: G-d’s name is not sanctified by you showing how much political muscle you have to close parking lots, to maintain the ‘status quo,’ or to show that you can do whatever you like to your kids without the authorities intervening: that’s not the way to sanctify G-d’s name, or even your name. The way to kiddush Hashem is for all of us to place G-d and G-d’s kindness above our own agendas, and to show that we are willing to sacrifice even your own serenity on Shabbat, our own control over our families, in order to protect the weak and make G-d’s name something beautiful and desirable, not something which people cannot run away from fast enough.”

Without bothering to find out what the facts are, much as was the case in his campaign against Rubashkin, Lopatin bought the media story, lock stock and barrel. And why not? After all, it is those same backward, insular people who have no concept of law, order and hygiene.

He didn’t speak to anyone who was at the so-called riot, because if he had, he would have found out that thousands of religious Jews congregating to protest the treatment of one of their own does not constitute a riot. He didn’t speak to any spokesmen for the Toldos Aharon chassidim. Had he, he would have heard their categorical denouncement of any violence. He would have found out that the protests were peaceful. He would have discovered that troublemakers, known as shababnikim, were responsible for the burning of trash bins and creating other mayhem after the masses of protesters had gone home.

Shame on him and shame on those like him who accept as fact whatever they read in condemnation of religious Jews, and anyone else for that matter. Shame on him and those like him who post such drivel and contribute to the increasing hatred of religious people and our causes. Shame on people who seek to divide the Jewish people, rather than bring us together. Shame on people who are ready to denigrate and dispense self-righteous advice to Jews who hew to an ancient and hallowed way of life.

Walk down Rechov Meah Shearim and observe the Reb Arelach, as the Toldos Aharon chasidim are affectionately referred to, as they go about their daily lives. They are the most unpretentious and humble of people. All they ask for is to be left alone so they can serve Hashem. They don’t seek material pleasure and always seem to be so happy. Their children are picturesque epitomes of simple beauty and chein. They obey all laws and exhibit no anti-social behavior. To accuse them of being rioting baby killers is nothing short of a modern-day blood libel and lynching.

I invite Lopatin and the rabbi who wrote in The Jerusalem Post to join me for a visit to Meah Shearim. Let’s go visit the stores and places of business of the Reb Aralach – yes they do work – and see how they conduct themselves. Let’s visit their homes and see how they live. Let’s follow them to the Beis Medrash and observe them davening and learning. We’ll go to the rebbe and you can ask him all your questions. We’ll visit Ben Zion Oiring and watch a one-man chesed operation in action. We’ll talk to Uri Zohar and hear what he has to say. We will pay a visit to Rav Dovid Soloveitchik and you can ask him why he publicly referred to the sorry story as a blood libel. We can just stand at Kikar Shabbos and watch how these loving lovely people go about their daily affairs. If, G-d forbid there should be a need for another hafganah we can attend and watch how Yerushalmi yidden peacefully express their pain and how they are treated by the police. And we can stay till the bitter end and watch how the rif-raf comes and destroys the place. And then we can review together what we have seen and determine whether a re-evaluation is in order.

As we enter the month of Av, it would behoove us to seek to bring Jews together and create a kiddush Hashem wherever and whenever possible. Though the response to my column last week on the Shabbos demonstrations hasn’t been what we expected, neither has the outpouring of support we have been receiving for the Yated’s campaigns on behalf of two chassidishe Yidden, Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin of Postville, Iowa, and Ben Tzion Oiring of Yerushalayim ihr hakodesh. Good Jews were touched when reading about their financial situations and wrote out checks for people they don’t know. That is real ahavas Yisroel of the type that is mekareiv the geulah. Ahavas Yisroel doesn’t mean writing articles in the Jewish Journal, Jerusalem Post, or on various websites and blogs slamming frum yidden. Ahavas Yisroel means to give a Torah Jew the benefit of the doubt and to examine the story before rushing to judgment and engaging in the castigation of good people who are under attack.

May we merit welcoming Eliyahu Hanovi in enough time to declare Tisha B’Av a Yom Tov.

Rabbi Lipschutz is Editor and Publisher of the American Yated Neeman.

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  1. Dear Rabbi Lipschutz

    I pity you and all Charedi appologists

    There is something wrong in the state of Charedim. Period.

    You are always a week behind. Every week or so a new Chillul Hashem swamps the old ones.

    This week’s is a doozy.

  2. Rabbi Lopatin is explaining the mindset of an out-of-town community. While Chicago has a much ?larger Jewish community than Postville, it is still much smaller than Monsey. Therefore, the Jewish ?community must go out of its way to show that we are a moral, ethical, and non-violent group. The ?small out-of-town communities don’t have the clout to allow criminal activity to be swept under the ?rug. Hence, the need to act like a mentch, B’Darchei Noam is paramount. Criminal activity is frowned ?upon and condemned in the strongest terms possible. In out-of-town communities every Jew is ?valuable, black hat Jews and no kippah Jews are treated the same. ?

    The vast majority of out-of-town communities has benefitted from the Rubashkin cheap kosher ?pricing, and is sympathetic to his plight. That is on a personal level, but finds it hard to justify on a ?professional level. We live surrounded by non-Jews, do business with non-Jews, and must have the ?trust of the non-Jews. Therefore, the CONSTANT stream of horror stories, and woeful tales of pidyon ?shevuyim is devastating us.?

    I think the author should have given the benefit of the doubt to understand the out-of-town mindset. ?Not everyone in Chicago is in kollel or Telshe. Perhaps Rabbi Lopatin was just saying what the regular ?folk are hearing from their business partners. ?

  3. The israeli government should fine usefull activites for these Shibabnicks so they dont turn hafganahs into their night activity like its free fall.

  4. defending people for trying to exercise commonly held freedoms of expression and assembly.
    He called off all garbage collection and municipal services to the areas which the shababnikim damaged. So, not only do the parents suffer by having such children, not only does the community suffer by having fires burning under their noses,

    The entire world has to condemn destroy8ng property. You contradict yourself in the above two paragraphs. Freedom of expression is not the right to harm public property and throw rocks.

    Who is in charge in Meah Shearim, these kids?
    Where are the grownups.

  5. Kol hakavod, R’ Lipschutz.

    Now to all those “truth-seekers” who’re gonna start screaming that R’ Lipschutz is lying, denying, whitewashing, covering up:

    We can’t force you to believe us. We’re helpless against the onslaught of secular Israel and its anti-frum media, just as Israel is helpless against the world and its liberal mass media.

    If I’ll tell you I know Yenti personally and can vouch that she’d give her life for her kids, you’ll tell me I’m just as corrupted as she is – just like the world accuses anyone who stands up for Israel.

    If I’ll tell you we have a letter from Harav Weiss attesting to her innocence, you’ll tell me Harav Weiss is controlled by his handlers. Reminds me somehow of the Zionist lobby.

    If I’ll tell you the only way, unfortunately, to have those villains go back on their false accusation was to have 1,000 Jews take to the streets and burn down the welfare office, you’ll decry the violence. Does Gaza ring a bell?

    If Orthodox Jews can side with our worst enemies against their fellow frum Jews, we richly deserve the treatment the world has given us.

    If Orthodox Jews can apply the laws of slander, lashon hara and sinas chinam to the scum of our people yet ignore those laws when the slander, lashon hara and sinas chinam are directed against Jews who are frummer than they are, I can understand why the bleeding-heart liberals take on the cause of the wife-beating, homo-killing Palestinians against “violent” Israel.

    What one chareidi says about another, Orthodox Jews say about all chareidim.

    What one Orthodox Jew says about another, secular Jews say about all Orthodox Jews.

    What one Jew says about another, the world says about all Jews.

    ?????? ???????? ??? ????.

  6. The validity of Rabbi Lipschutz’s fundamental point is quite obvious, but given the American penchant to “take sides” or root for one team, we have reduced ourselves to an almost athletic portrayal of Torah Yahadus, with puches and counterpuches, and which side hits the ball out of the park. I don’t know if Rabbi Lipschutz’s article, in and of itself, is a home run, but it is a grievous error to single out specific people from the “other team” like Rabbi Lopian, while not mentioning the scathing, sarcastic piece that was posted by Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz. I guess Rabbi Lipschutz felt it would not be nice to criticize someone from your own team. In addition, while Rabbi Lipschutz seems to be a talented writer and thinker, it doesn’t change the fact that we should get more real-time hadracha from the Gedolei Yisroel on issues such as this; and if they are providing the Hadracha, we need a better way to communicate it to the Oilam.

  7. Rav Chaim, after reading your comment I called Rabbi Lipschutz and asked him that very question. He assured me that he does not consider himself as being on the same team as Yanky Horowitz. He said he didn’t want to dignify yanky by mentioning his name.

  8. I am appalled by the whitewashing of the behavior of the “mobs” who burned, broke, and destroyed property in “order to be heard”.

    What a Chilul Hashem – What a Whitewashing !!

    Only in an alternative universe does this letter make sense.

  9. what a pity that Rabbi Lipschitz fails to address some of the real issues – I for one am tired of the apologetics of Yated and the askanim l’mineihem. How Rabbi Lipschitz do you justify pashkevilim in Meah Shearim comparing Jewish doctors to Mengele! If they are the work of a small finge element, why do the rabbanim and erev rabbanim not at least walk down the streets and remove them and decry them publicly? Whenever Rav Yosef Chaim Zonenfeld saw a poster about Rav Kook, he would rip it off the walls – where are his talmidim in the Eidah?
    I am tired of hearing that unfortunate inabilities to agree led to the election of Nir Barkat when we know the truth. How long will Yerushalayim remain without a rav because of the ugly infighting among the m’kurovim? Why will the obviously qualified candidate not be allowed to present his candidacy because he is too honest to make the necessary deals. The chareidi establishment and its apologists have lost all credibility and your repeated attempts to whitewash the stains of corruption are misguided and ultimately damaging.
    When will you and your chevra realize that we have had enough?

  10. “The chareidi establishment and its apologists have lost all credibility and your repeated attempts to whitewash the stains of corruption are misguided and ultimately damaging.
    When will you and your chevra realize that we have had enough?”

    I agree with R. Dovid Landesman.

    On the one hand, especially during the Nine Days, I would like to focus on something positive. I grew up in the Charedi community, and I think that the Yated has many positive aspects, even I disagree with certain key editorial positions and policies.

    On the other hand, I must say that it is people like R. Landesman who are not afraid to criticize their own, who make me think that the Frum community is strong. It is a sign of a confident and strong community, when people can speak out against things which need to be corrected. Of course, such criticism has to be done in a way which is a positive to’eles.

  11. Rabbi lipshutz actually did attack Rabbi Horowitz and rightfully so as the rabbi who wrote in the Jerusalem Post.I would have preffered for rav lipschutz to write rabbi horowitz’s name and the article he wrote.

  12. #14 Yankel
    There have been a few other frum rabbis who wrote in the Jerusalem Post, will Pinny be attacking each one for the next few wks?

  13. So, Pinny, you are “defending people for trying to exercise commonly held freedoms of expression and assembly.”
    Burning garbage cans? Stoning soldiers? Pushing and fighting with soldiers? Not wise. Israeli soldiers are not the Harvard debate team. There are witnesses to all this, Pinny. And footage. We’ve seen it. Have you? You mention sacred American concepts, which are foreign to charedim. They don’t know how to assemble against the Nazionists without fighting them.

    And you blame all the burning on outsiders? Not according to eye-witnesses who live there. Do you live there? Are YOU 100% sure of what you write?

    Sad. In your bizarro world, charedim can do no wrong, even when all they seem to do is wrong. VERY wrong.
    I echo the writers above: stop your whitewashing. Stop you’re half-truths. We’re in the 9 Days: a little honesty and introspection is needed. It’s painful, but necessary: we are as imperfect as they come, and charedim hurt their image when they assemble and stone those who stand on guard at the borders to keep killers away, when they riot, when they burn garbage dumps. Be honest. You can do it. PUT THE BLAME WHERE IT BELONGS. When charedim learn to demonstrate with the peacefulness and dignity of American blacks in the 60’s, they’ll get the result they seek. Till then, they get our scorn and contempt.

  14. “I am appalled by the whitewashing of the behavior of the “mobs” who burned, broke, and destroyed property in “order to be heard”.
    What a Chilul Hashem – What a Whitewashing !!
    Only in an alternative universe does this letter make sense.”—Rivki

    “The chareidi establishment and its apologists have lost all credibility and your repeated attempts to whitewash the stains of corruption are misguided and ultimately damaging.
    When will you and your chevra realize that we have had enough?”–Dovid Landesman

    The above are so correct, spot on, to the point,and well-written, they really must be seconded, and be the final word here.

    Charedim, you have much to correct. A little less obsessing about tznius and krias shma b’zmana and cholov yisroel and laundry during the 9 days and yoshon and hashkafiz and more on basic mentchlichkeit, honesty, integrity, non-violence, respect, tolerance, love of fellow Jew–even if he is a Zionist—will get us out of this galus. YOU HAVE MUCH TO CORRECT. YOU’RE ON THE WORLD’S STAGE. PEOPLE ARE WATCHING YOUR EVERY RIOT AND ARREST. WASH YOU. MAKE YOU CLEAN. Sound familiar? It’s Chazon Yeshaya. Start. Please. We’re begging you. You, too, Rabbi Lipshitz. You start, too, by telling the truth from here on in.

  15. Whatever Rabbi Lipschutz writes, I read attentively. He is usually both knowledgeable and thoughtful. But in this case I believe that R. Lipschutz over-reached and I am very dismayed by this. I’m afraid I must agree with R. Landesman’s critique (at comment no. 12) and I would hope that R. Lipschutz is willing and able to read what R. Landesman wrote.

    If any one is interested I highly recommend Rabbi Avi Shafran’s essay “How to Promote Baseless Hatred,” which was published today on (as well as other online sites). It’s the article — from a chareidi point of view — that R. Lipschutz SHOULD have written. I am saddened that he did not.

  16. Dear Rav Lipschutz,

    With a spirit of achdus and cheshbon hanefesh,I would like to take you up on your invitation to join you for a visit to Meah She’arim. I have been there many times, as I’m sure most of us reading this blog have, and have been there for a tisch at Toldos Ahron – I believe – but it would be different going with you in a spirit of love and appreciation for acheinu beis Yisrael, who are so committed to Torah and Yiddishkeit – as all of us recognize. I would like to organize an Achdus trip to Israel with Modern Orthodox rabbis, Centrist Orthodox rabbis and Yeshiveshe velt rabbonim all going together for the outstanding itinerary you propose for Meah She’arim, and then to continue into the Old City to visit Yeshivat Ateret Kohanim, then to walk on to Yeshivat Hakotel, Eish Hatorha, Yeshivat Porat Yosef, and to end up in Talpiot Mizrach to visit Beit Morasha and in Bakkah to visit the Pardes Institute, led by Rav Daniel Landes, the great grandson of Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank, zt”l. I would like to invite also Rabbanei Tzohar – perhaps Rav Cherlow and Rav Yehoshua Shapira, as well as leading rabbanim in the Chareidi world in Eretz Yisrael. Together we will show how the greatest Kiddush HaShem is the Achdus of Klal Yisrael and its Torah leadership.

    Kol tuv and a gut Shabbos,

    Asher Lopatin
    Chicago, IL

  17. i’d like to ask the briilaint dr landesman who the obvious candidate for the rabbinate of yeruhsalyim is that he is referring to? i can’t figure it out. i am a dope.

  18. R’ Lipschutz focuses on the good while everyone else focuses on the bad. Both may be fully or partially true, but we hear more than enough of the negative; it’s time to hear a little about the positive if only to balance our view, albeit woefully inadequately.

    The real question is: What does halacha demand from YOU? What about sinas chinam? Judging favorably? Speaking, listening to, and believing lashon hara? Why are these severe sins ignored when they’re directed against charedim?

    Now that Yenti was pronounced 100% normal, aren’t you ashamed of youself for believing the secular media? Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for judging Yenti’s family, neighbors, fellow Toldos Ahron and chareidim unfavorably?

    What would you do if your wife, sister, or daughter was accused as a crazy murderess and subjected to the sadistic torture Yenti went through? How would you behave? Would you klop al chet publicly for losing your temper? Well, to every chareidi Yenti is a sister, a daughter, and we’ll do anything to free her. Who can think about such niceties as the control of wild boys after the hafganah when our sister is suffering so and her Chaimkeh is in danger of being overfed by Hadassah so they can prove that she was the one who starved him, not they?

    The comments here have proven to me what I have long suspected: That MO or left-leaning Jews feel closer to secular Jews, and even to non-Jews, than to Jews who are frummer than they are. Your ahavas Yisrael for the worst of our Jewish enemies is legendary. Where is your ahavas Yisrael for your fellow frum Jews?

  19. Rabbi Lopatin;
    Who are all those people that your going to take Rabbi Lipschutz to visit?
    If you were going to answer the article, why not answer it???

  20. Is rioting, beating people up, spitting on them acceptable behavior? That is what I have seen on video and through reliable eyewitnesses. The Rabbis should be condemning this behavior, not excusing it. Read Kamtza and Bar Kamtza and see that the churban happenned because, at the party, the Rabbis were in a world of their own and did not condemn the hateful behavior.

  21. Quite frankly Rabbi Lipschutz, either you are purposely trying to whitewash lawless behavior on the part of the harediem (setting fire to garbage, rioting and almost getting into altercations with police, throwing rocks at people, assaulting women in busses, etc.), or you are in denial.

  22. This talk about people being on the same team… sours my stomach. We’re all on the same team.

    I think there’s this in town/out of town mindset dichotomy, and we have to bridge this.

  23. I think the Rebono shel Oilom is showing us this week here in ny & nj this massive chillul hashem with the arrests of so many of us to show us don’t talk about the zadikim of Meah Shaarim


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