Monday, 31 December 2012

End the Year and her Dross – Bring on the Year and her Gloss

If anyone has a better rhyming translation for
תכלה שנה וקללותיה – תחל שנה וברכותיה
fee free to add it to the comments.
In the meantime I leave you to meditate upon two marvellous poems, one for the dross and the other for the gloss, both by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919)
The Year
What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That’s not been said a thousand times?
The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.
We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.
We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.
We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.
We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that’s the burden of the year.
New Year (As the old year sinks down in Time's ocean...)
As the old year sinks down in Time's ocean,
Stand ready to launch with the new,
And waste no regrets, no emotion,
As the masts and the spars pass from view.
Weep not if some treasures go under,
And sink in the rotten ship's hold,
That blithe bonny barque sailing yonder
May bring you more wealth than the old.
For the world is for ever improving,
All the past is not worth one to-day,
And whatever deserves our true loving,
Is stronger than death or decay.
Old love, was it wasted devotion?
Old friends, were they weak or untrue?
Well, let them sink there in mid ocean,
And gaily sail on to the new.
Throw overboard toil misdirected,
Throw overboard ill-advised hope,
With aims which, your soul has detected,
Have self as their centre and scope.
Throw overboard useless regretting
For deeds which you cannot undo,
And learn the great art of forgetting
Old things which embitter the new.
Sing who will of dead years departed,
I shroud them and bid them adieu,
And the song that I sing, happy-hearted,
Is a song of the glorious new.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

The Definite Article

Those of us relying on the heimishe press for our cerebral fodder will have been feeling rather starved of late. In different times, a meeting of 30 rabbonim would be preceded by fliers from charity organisations exhorting us to send in our names, as it appears on the card, so that the details may be keyed in in their hallowed presence. Yet London was honoured by just such a meeting of Torah Olympians but not a word about it in our informative press either before or after.

The meeting was followed by a letter from 5 rabbonim proclaiming the view of the Torah but still the Torah organs wouldn’t touch the story. The engagement of the grandson of the Kvetcher to the great-niece of the Greptser will make it in full Technicolor but the 5 must rely on the accursed world wide web for their fair share of notoriety.

Aha, you may think, since the newspapers are headquartered in Stamford Hill in order to comply with the posuk, Ki m'Hackney teitzei Torah udvar Hashem m'N16, they have adopted the local Daas Torah which was hijacked and taken hostage and released only on payment of a ransom in the shape of a letter of misunderstanding. But even here there are the 20 odd who did speak up that irrespective of the allegations and accusations the accused may remain in his position and continue to perform his duties. So why is it that after this unequivocal pronouncement of Daas Torah, The Voice of Anglo-Jewish Orthodoxy appears to have undergone a laryngectomy and The Newspaper of Torah Jewry ignores both Torah and Jewry?

But the famine for the Word of God is about to come to an end and in the most unlikely of places will the faithful be nourished. Here, in this hotbed of dissent, anarchy and heresy, are you about to hear the true Voice of Torah.

The article below was written by non other than an in-house features writer on one of our Torah-true organs. I withhold the writer’s name not so much out of concern for her or his livelihood, though for that reason too, but more for the sake of the circulation of the particular publication.

If word were to get out that its writers are actively engaging their brains and writing about matters that actually concern their readers it could threaten the very future of our publishing industry. Just think what happened to the News of the World, lehavdil elef havdoles, when they were caught acting unethically and illegally and you would not want that visited on the papers that give us everything that is Neither Here Nor There but won’t give you as much as the price of milk lest they offend some vested interest.

So, ladies and gentleman, after this short intro please forget everything you have ever read on this site and fasten your seatbelts for a whole new experience. We will blast you into the Oilom Hatorah as denied to you by Ami, Binoh, Hamodia, the Jewish Tribune, Mishpacha and any and all other Torah-true publications.
They provide the yawn – here you get the brawn.

By “A Features Writer on a Chareidi News Publication”
I have heard it said many times that this saga cannot get any worse, yet the statement has been proven wrong too many times. Nobody even dares say it any longer but the sad fact remains that there are many people trying to make sense of this and failing. They are left flailing like loose sails in the wind, desperately clutching at their connection to yiddishkeit hoping to stop it from being blown away in the turbulence.

My optimism was dashed once when a letter in which the UOHC supposedly capitulated "mipnei darkei sholom" turned out to be a brilliantly crafted hoax. It was again dashed last Friday when what was supposed to be the final chapter was buried alive by a blameless, poorly-informed octogenarian threatening a nuclear strike at the heart of our imaginary Union. I now fear that the only real ending might be a cliff-hanger, leaving our kehilla doomed to remain forever an undignified non-entity.

Whichever way one looks at it and whether one belongs to the camp of the Antis, or even to those forlorn few Pro's still clutching at their last remaining straws, nobody can honestly say that our connection to our talmudei chachomim - our leaders, has not taken a severe, if not mortal, battering. Our society, more than any other, relies so heavily on emunas chachomim that it is difficult to know how we can ever recover from this.

Living in Stamford Hill, I look to those Rabonim who signed the "we demand a beis din" letter and I am overcome by an overwhelming feeling of despair. That most of them have supposedly by now withdrawn their signatures, is of no consolation. Why did they sign it in the first place? What were they thinking? How can I continue to ask them my shailos and turn to them for inspiration? Whatever faith I ever had in them is long gone.

I then turn to those who led the anti campaign. In all fairness, it is said that they tried their utmost to stop this matter from becoming the mess it turned into. I am also certain they could never have predicted this most implausible outcome. But, there are still so many unanswered questions besides. Their seemingly unexplained actions to date and their continued inaction has left too many doubts floating around for me to look to them as shining beacons of our faith.

And then we have those who sat on the fence, one very publicly so, and with the tacit silence of the remaining Golders Green Rabbis implying their agreement. I am sure there were excellent reasons for this high wire act. However, the slightest shove will send a tightrope walker flying and I need to know that my mentor has both feet planted firmly on the ground.

Getting closer to the top, we have the senior Rabonim of the UOHC. While one was performing his high wire special, another very humbly allowed himself to be lowered to the third tier of Stamford Hill Rabonim. The other senior Dayonim were left to murmur, mutter and gnash in private since the inaction of their head forced them to make their position known only by silence. Stamford Hillers, the weight of our shtriemels preventing our brains from working at full capacity (for most of us at least), were excused from understanding the inference.

And finally, we have our Av Beis Din himself. The Pros hate him for throwing them to the dogs while the Antis despair at his ineptitude and his inability to take a stance and act upon it. The fact that he managed to infuriate and exasperate both sides in this sordid business raises significant questions about his leadership abilities. Astoundingly however, thanks to the way our kehilla is run, the only pink slip he will ever see is the one in his Rebetzin’s wardrobe. Meanwhile, his helplessly confused kehilla is left despairing why it is taking so long for Halpern to be handed his.

Our union has withstood the sands of time, but in not standing up to this scandal is destroying itself from within. We watch helplessly from the sidelines as our kehilla is torn apart by the actions of a few and the inactions of many and we are left traumatised by our impotence.

But though our so called communal body might be irreparably damaged, hopefully, we will be able to find the strength to pick up the shattered pieces of our emunas chachomim and put them back together again. If we are to survive this, we have no other option.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

A Lone Piper

Erev Shabbos Parshas Vayechi 5773 [28 December 2012]
“The rabbis sat by and did not object implying that they were content”
I am pained that there is a group of charlatans which is powerful in communal affairs and is protecting a man whom rabbis have announced [to the public] to distance themselves from. They thereby weaken amongst us all the severity of the prohibition against licentious conduct.
Gershon Hager

Friday, 28 December 2012

Open Letter to Chaim Halpern

[I cannot vouch for the veracity of this letter which was sent in anonymously but I think it deserves publicity for the raw emotion it displays. It also serves as a useful reminder that amidst all the politicking and buffoonery there are some real people out there who are going through hell through no fault of their own.]
Dear Chaim
You know who I am. I write an open letter to you begging you to do the right thing here.
Let’s start from the beginning. You tried helping us out at our time of need, you were a great help for many years, answering all our questions from the day we got married, you were there for us at any stage we ever needed you. YOU then dropped yourself into this BIG time, you built up such a trust with us that we saw no wrong in anything you did, those late night calls to my wife, the times you told me send your wife in I will "explain" those shallos that didn’t need explaining - but you were trying to help!!!!...then came the time where you over stepped the mark, you crossed that line that was unacceptable by any standards.... You know exactly what you did, have you any idea what hell we went through as a couple for what you did? Have you any idea on the "dinai nefoshos" you put us through? Still to this day, you don’t think every time I see you in the street I want to come over and punch you in the face? But NO, you are the GREAT (R) Chaim Halpern that could do no wrong... how wrong were you and you know it. SO how dare you use the card now that your wife is ill from this ill has MY wife been all these years from the torment you put US through????
Do you know how sickened I was by the Siyum Hashas, by the Internet Asifa to see you stand there and scream about everyone else’s terrible Averious they commit or you reading the Hadren, I will not accuse you of being a fake, you need help but you are not fit to lead or guide anyone.
So what do I ask from you, you have nothing more to lose anymore, leave town before it’s too late, the town is falling apart, everywhere you go the discussions are about the bad you have done. Let’s remember that there was a lot of good you had done over the years, but the bad and the evil has really caught up with you and it’s time for you to go!
If there could be one comfort for the Victims, it is please go… I beg you like you begged me not to publicise what you had done. I beg you to leave and let us try and move on.
To the members who are still there… […] to name a few, you are supposed to be the askonim of the town, […] you can forget about people supporting YOUR schools that you work tirelessly for so long that you continue to support and protect CH.
And Finally, to all the Rabonim out there who I cried my heart out to and your response was you will never win over CH, so leave it and forget about it, I hope you can sleep well at night, I hope you can hold your heads up high and think about what you did to us as a family.
1 of the Many Victims to this sorry story

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Porky snorts while Padwa caught short

יום ג’ פ’ ויחי תשע”ג לפ”ק
הנני בזה לאשר שהמכתב שכתב הר”ר חיים שנעק הי”ו במוצאי עשרה בטבת ש”ז, היתה בציווי מרן הגאב”ד שליט”א
החותם בפקודתו
יהודה ווייס
הנ”ל נכון א.פ
Tuesday Vayechi 5773
I hereby confirm that the letter written by Reb Chaim Schneck on Motze Asoro B’Teves of this year was under instruction of the Ga’avad Shlita
Signed under orders
Yehuda Weiss
The above is accurate. E.P. [Ephraim Padwa]
יב טבת תשע”ג
הנני לאשר שהמכתב הראשון שנחתם ע”י האברך החשוב ר’ חיים שנעק הי”ו היה בהוראה שלמעלה ואין להמשפחה ח”ו שום תרעומת עליו בזה ובבא. וד’ יברך את עמו בשלום.
משה היילפרין
12 Teves 5773
I confirm that the first letter signed by the esteemed Chaim Schneck was under orders from above and the family has God forbid no complaints against him neither in this world nor in the world to come.
May God bless His people with peace.
Moshe Halpern

Monday, 24 December 2012

Midnight Mess

ב”ה י”ב טבת תשע”ג
המכתב החתום ע”י ר”ח שנעק יצא מחמת אי הבנה וביהמ”ד דברי חיים עוד מצורף להתאחדות קהילות החרדים
וע”ז דו”ש משה חיים אפרים פדווא
12 Teves 5773
The letter signed by Chaim Schneck was released as a result of a misunderstanding and the Beish Hamedrash Divrei Chaim remains affiliated to the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations.
Greetings of Peace
Moshe Chaim Efraim Padwa

This is a comment by ‘What a Shoita!!’ which deserves promotion:
Hi, my name is Efraim Padwa, or is it? I'm not sure, I can't make up my mind. Do I have a mind? Let me ask the Halperns what my name is and what i should think. Or should I? I'm just so confused. Who is that fat man blocking my way? Is he friend or foe? He is shouting at me! But he looks like a friend! Do I know him? How can I know him if I don't even know myself?? Sign a letter? About what? Will you calm down if I sign it? Ok, so I'll sign. Can I go now? Thank you Mr Policeman - Merry Kratzmech. Wow, look a Hatzoola ambulance. Wonder what all the fuss is about. No time to find out, must get home to what the Queen's kratzmech message on TV with my 3D specs. She has it so easy, that Queen - somebody writes it all down for her and makes all the decisions about what she should say, and what she shouldn't say, and she just reads it. Halevai oif mir gezugt! Anyway, I'm off now, until next time I need to make a fool of myself. Soon, probably. Good night.

Cold Turkey for Christmas

DC out

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Kapitl for the Day

TELL me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream! —
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real ! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal ;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Sunday, 16 December 2012

שברי חיים

שברי חיים
Point by point rebuttal of 10 reasons given by the Stamford Hill rabbis for rejecting ‘Gilui Da’ath’ against Chaim Halpern. Sorry but won’t have chance to translate this.

Gesher Tzar Me’od

Can someone enlighten us where rabbis pick up their writing style. If I were a member of Bridge Lane Beis Hamedrash I would take exception being spoken to like to a kindergarten rather than mature adults. (Mind you, it’s not in all kindergartens they talk like that either, but that’s for another day.)
Did it occur to the esteemed Rabbi and his Secretary to ‘request’ his congregants not to attend? Or to ‘urge’, even ‘strongly urge’, them not to take part? Or ask them to ‘consider seriously the implications’ of showing up?
It seems that our black and white world makes not allowance for such subtleties.  It’s either a chov kodoish or forbidden, with no bridge in the middle.

The Chaims they are a changin

Leyton Orient rabbis, marked
Spot the difference
The above is the call in support of the of Leyton Orient internet rally. It is signed by almost all London Rabbonim affiliated to the UOHC. Ringed are those who signed the recent letter in support of Chaim Halpern.
What a sign of the times!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Exit at Rear

Halpern Padwa
At least we can now be assured of the impartiality of the forthcoming Beth Din.

Wrestling Day Quiz with bonus Chaim Carol

1. The 6th Rabbi did not sign the Gilui Da’ath because:
a. his wife forbade him
b. his great-great-great-great grandfather forbade him
c. both
d. he lost his pen in the peak of his Sabbath hat?

2. When Rav Padwa was taken hostage by family Halpern he:
a. called the police
b. called Hatzole
c. both
d. mumbled for his hammer?

3. Keddasia flesh was transported with pig carcasses because:
a. only the JC reported it
b. pigs aren’t women and so needn’t be segregated.
c. both
d. prohibitions don’t apply to Porky?

4. Rabbi Robers wrote a letter saying:
a. Chaim Halpern is unfit to be a rov becasue a beis din ruled he’s a perv
b. Chaim Halpern is fit to be a rov until a beis din rules he’s a perv
c. both
d. he’s still deciding whether to write the letter?

5. Divrei Chaim remains an integral part of UOHC becasue:
a. the letter expelling them was not meant to be released
b. the letter expelling them was retracted
c. both
d. the retraction was retracted which was then itself retracted?

6. Chaim Halpern is unfit to be a Rov becasue:
a. he arm wrestled women
b. he used a damp towel and didn’t do the full monty
c. both
d. his veiber shul is overflowing with eager candidates?

7. Velvel stopped commenting after he:
a. was outed as Reb Gavriel Knopfler
b. had his tires slashed by Zaidy
c. was served with a writ by Angel Gabriel
d. was locked up in the tower by Henry VIII?

8. Rav Padwa attended Reb Chune’s melave malke to:
a. propose a toast to the birthday boy
b. see off Chaim
c. both
d. do a class phto for all those heading for the exit?

9. The beis din to determine Chaim Halpern’s guilt will convene after:
a. Rav Tuvia Weiss asks Rav Padwa to set it up
b. Rav Padwa asks Rav Tuvia Weiss to set it up
c. both
d. enough money is raised to pay off the dayonim?
10. The main lesson of the ‘painful saga’ is that:
a. sins committed by rabbis don’t count
b. crimes committed against women don’t count
c. the lay leaders of the UOHC send email robin rounds and read the JC
d. the rabbinical leaders of the UOHC don’t read even their own handwriting
e. all of the above
f. lessons are for Oxford grads, not heimishe yeeeeedn?

Chaim’s Carol
On the 6th Day of Christmas my true Rav gave to me:
30 rabbis meeting
25 rabbis dithering
20 rabbis dissenting
10 maidens dancing
5 rabbis signing
4 shuls a-leaving
3 letters retracting
2 arms a-wrestling
No rov resigning
And a towel with a heter of Amshee

Friday, 14 December 2012

Bridge over Troubled Waters


Hall of Shame

RCH מכתב מרבני עירנו למתפללי ביהמ''ד דברי חיים ג''ג
The 5th Candle of Chanukah 5773, London
To the Esteemed Members and Participants of Shiurim of the Beis Medresh "Divrei Chaim"
In light of the "Gilui Da'as" [proclamation] that was publicised on 22 Kislev against your Rabbi the Gaon and Tzadik shlita, after he had resigned from those positions that gave rise to the complaints. Yet [the rabbis who signed the proclamation] were still not satisfied and publicised their decision for all to see. They decided all of this without a hearing in front of a formal Beth Din and a proper Din Torah in accordance with Shulchan Oruch, Choshen Mishpat. [This was required] in order to comply with the Biblical prescription "Hear the causes between your brothers" without which one cannot oust a rabbi's presumption of innocence.
Prior to publicising their Gilui Da'ath, [Rav Padwa] ordered the formation of a Beth Din composed of distinguished out-of-town Rabbonim to rule on the matter as is set out in haloche and in order to issue a true and just ruling in accordance with the Torah. As Chazal say, "When there is no justice below there is no justice Above." [The signatories to the proclamation] also received the request of the Rabbi of Jerusalem [Rav Tuvia Weiss] where he enforced [Rav Padwa's] request. They were pleaded with to delay publicising [the proclamation] in order to quell the strife and bloodshed, but they nevertheless went ahead an published.
We therefore reveal our opinion which is the view of the Torah that without a ruling from a Beth Din in accordance with the Torah the Gaon and Tzadik Rabbi Chaim Halpern shlita the Rav of the community “Divrei Chaim” shall remain in his position, shall stand in his duties to guide amongst Israel in accordance with the rule of the Torah with no obstacles and shall disseminate Torah and fear [of God] and Chasidus as in the past.
And those who encourage and increase this unfathomable persecution and bloodshed should bear in mind the saying of Chazal, "Know before Whom you are destined to give account", "And God favours the persecuted."
And we hereby sign in London
Eliezer Dovid Friedman
Belz (Bethune)
Ze'ev Halevi Feldman
('69') and member of UOHC Rabbinate
Yosef Binyomin Halevi Wosner
Satmar ('26')
Ezriel Shechter
Rabbi and Dayan, London
Ya'akov Meir Rosenbaum
Rosh Yeshiva of Ger
and President of Agudath Yisroel, Europe
Aryeh Weiss
Vizhnitz (Bnei Brak, Stamford Hill) and Dayan UOHC
Dovid Hager
Vizhnitz (Monsey) and Dayan UOHC
Ben-Tzion Blum
Bobov (Egerton) and Dayan UOHC
Moshe Sofer
Son of Erlauer Rov
Tzvi Nechemiah Halevi Schneck
Dayan Satmar (86) and Dayan UOHC
Shmaya Lew
Dayan Satmar (26) and Dayan UOHC
Avrohom Yosef Rubinfeld
Charedim and Dayan UOHC
Yechazkel Shraga Friezel
Skver and Dayan UOHC
Moshe Uri Schlesinger
Rabbi at Yeshivas Horomoh
Mordechai Tzvi Pesach
Dayan Ger and Dayan UOHC
Moshe Pollack
Dayan Satmar ('86') and Dayan UOHC
Eliezer Mordechai Stolzberg
Dayan Satmar ('86') and Dayan UOHC
Eliezer Yom-Tov Lipa Halevi Brown
Dayan Neitra and Dayan UOHC
Meir Markovitch
Dayan and Rosh Hakolel Divrei Shlomo
Ya'akov Dovid Domb
Rosh Hakolel Tiferes Shlomo
As an addition to the esteemed aforesigned, I hereby endorse the above and I count [CH] as an acquaintance since I often visit that area. The above Gaon and Tzadik is one of the only Rabbonim to enjoy this amount of Heavenly assistance with so many including even commoners whom he supports in all matters with the power of his Torah. To our consternation the result of this confusion (libel?) is a frightening profanation of God's Name. It also weakens the power of the Torah not only in our own community but in all Jewish communities worldwide.
Uri Ashkenazi the son of Rabbi Meshulam of Blessed Memory from Stanislow
After establishing the facts how the Rabbis reached their decision and after great deliberation of all angles to their decision we wish to express the view of the Torah in the matter of the Painful Saga. This saga is stabbing the raw flesh of the UOHC and those who fear and tremble for the saying of Chazal, when there is justice below there is justice Above and when there is no justice below…
[Each of the following paragraphs begins "According to the law of the Torah…]
  1. Rabbis of one town may not sit in judgement on a rabbi of the same town.
  2. An adversary [of the defendant] should not sit in on his judgement.
  3. ...and where there was a single adversary in the make up of the Beth Din, according to the majority of authorities it invalidates the entire Beth Din.
  4. [The Beth Din] should not come to a decision before hearing both sides.
  5. There is an obligation to hear both sides. (Appears repeat of 4.)
  6. Evidence must be given by the witness himself and not hearsay or a recording etc. In an instance like this Beth Din ought to make their own assessments and consider professional and medical examinations.
  7. Evidence may be taken only in front of the defendant and otherwise it is not admissible.
  8. The defendant must be given time to defend and present his arguments.
  9. The Head of a Beth Din who offended should not be dismissed and there are various options on how to punish him.
  10. The defendant has the choice of venue.
Thanks to those who assisted with this translation.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

The Father, the Son and the Holy Shiur

Reb Chune, chumesh rashi2Reb Chune, chumesh rashi1
Letter from Reb Chune posted in his shul
I demand and request from all who frequent our Beish Medresh to participate in the shiur of Chumesh Rashi this Thursday night that is delivered by my son Harav (titles) Chaim shlita who with his wisdom and fear of God endows his listeners with great satisfaction bringing them closer to the Torah of God
Written and signed with a special blessing to all who attend his shiurim.
I too hope to take part in this shiur.

The case for the Defence

A letter in defence of Chaim Halpern from his brother-in-law, Rabbi Shimon Lemberger, the Makava Rebbe from Kiryat Ata in Israel. Essentially it is a character reference listing the great work Halpern has accomplished over the years and complains over the lack of due process in condemning him.
The letter compares the campaign against Halpern to the battle against the Greeks all those years ago and takes some pot shots against the rabbis who have spoken out against him. It particular it singles out Dayan Lichtenstein, without naming him, for giving an interview to the Goyish Chronicle (the transliteration is slightly ambiguous and it could also be said to read ‘Jewish’). It also accuses the communities headed by the rabbis who have condemned him of holding functions which are against the Shulchan Aruch and yet no one protests at that.
Rabbi Lemberger suggests penitence for those who have insulted Halpern, or have heard him being insulted without objecting, including a half-day fast in the coming weeks of Shovevim. It also laments the harm caused to our youth by being exposed to the substance of the allegations.
The letter finishes with a request that it be translated into English. I will try and oblige at least for the more cogent bits if I get a chance.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Monday, 10 December 2012

Rome has whimpered…

הנני בזה להודיע כי דברתי עם מרן הגאון מוהר”ר טובי’ ווייס שליט”א רב גאב”ד ירושלים עיה”ק ת”ו ואמר לי שהוא ימנה ב”ד לבירור דברים בהפרשה הכאובה, וכבר עוסקים בזה להרכיב הב”ד
וד’ יפרוס סוכת שלומו על עמו ונזכה לראות בקרוב בישועתן של ישראל בבלצ"ג ברחמים רבים
[מקום החותם]
I hereby announce that I have spoken to Rabbi Tuvia Weiss the Rav and head of the Beis Din in Jerusalem and he told me that he will appoint a beis din to investigate the matters in the painful saga, and there are indeed those who are engaged in forming the beis din.
May God spread His shield of peace on His people and may we soon merit to see the salvation of Israel when the Saviour shall arrive in Zion with great mercy.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Comical Eli

If this was a competition in literary styles there is no question that the Halpern camp would have come up trumps. Indeed I would have been their staunchest cheerleader. The opposition has shown itself to be proficient neither in Hebrew nor in English and doesn’t even know on which side of the page "Bs"d" belongs. On the other hand, Chaim Halpern manages joined up writing fairly well while his father's letter is nothing short of a masterpiece.
Although in delusion it belongs up there in the panoply of Comical Ali's victorious speeches as the tanks were closing in on Baghdad and Colonel Gaddafi's ranting interview on the eve of defeat, in style it is a work of art. It blends its arguments and persuasive tone with the best of biblical metaphor, rabbinical imprecations and chasidic lore to create a magisterial composition. It is truly an epistolary classic of its kind.
So as not to deprive our Hebraically-challenged brethren I have translated the letter so that they too can benefit from the Great Man's important message. I tried to retain its flavour and tone as much as, if not more than, its message but inevitably there will be something lost in translation. The emphasis in the penultimate paragraph is from the original.
The Eve of the Holy Shabbos Parshas Vayeishev 5773 here the Holy City of Jerusalem may it be rebuilt speedily in our days.
The sidra of "And his brothers envied him; but his father guarded the matter" [Genesis 37:11].
I have heard tidings and my belly trembled that there have arisen several Rabbonim to issue a proclamation concerning my beloved son, the treasure of my heart, the Rabbi, the Gaon, the Righteous, Rabbi Chaim Aaron Tzvi shlit'a, the Rav of the Beis Hamidrash "Divrei Chaim". [The proclamation] is constructed on weak foundations, exaggerations, lies and an absolute misunderstanding of his sacred work to rebuild broken homes and broken souls, and not even a single one of [the Rabbonim] has any contact and experience in these matters. They have accepted the words of a few [accusers] without any investigation in accordance with our Holy Torah and with experienced professionals. They then threatened and smeared my son the Gaon and Righteous referred to above on every street corner assisted by the accursed tool of the internet that all the Gedolim and righteous of our times have prohibited.
My son the Gaon and Righteous referred to above has since the beginning of this saga clarified that he has never transgressed a clause of the Shulchan Aruch and that he agrees to an adjudication in front of a Beis Din acceptable to both parties including examination by professionals. However, as is known to all involved in this painful affair, the other side have evaded cooperation with various excuses and lies. [My son] has also clarified that due to the above rumours he has for the last few months ceased his holy work referred to above.
Several weeks ago [the Rabbonim] threatened my son the Gaon and Righteous referred to above and forced him to appear in front of them and they made it a condition that he may have no assistance or representation. They presented him with all their complaints and my son the Gaon and Righteous shlit’a replied on every point. They had however made their minds up prior to his arrival and forced him to sign that he will give up his public roles besides his Beis Hamedresh and shiurim.
After a week they assembled tens of holy vessels [rabbis] and spoke about my son in the worst possible manner which shall tingle the ear of every hearer, and so have many innocents been persuaded.
The above Rabbonim admit that they have not gathered evidence in accordance with the Holy Torah and nor, with distinction, according to the laws and customs of the land. This however is their opinion and, as is common knowledge, many of them are soul enemies of my son the Gaon and Righteous referred to above and of the Union of Chareidi Congregations.
I am confident that my holy ancestors, colossuses of the land, lo they are the [authors of] Chacham Tzvi, Boruch Ta'am, The Magid of Zlotchow, Rabbi Meir of Premizlan and the Tzadikim of the House of Ropshitz and Tzanz will come to his assistance. All who have taken part in the above treachery will not be saved from the judgement of Gehenom while those who assist my son and those who pray at his Beis Hamedrash and their households, may they live - who, with my son the Gaon and Righteous referred to above, are going through difficult and bitter times - and those who listen to his wares at his esteemed shiurim that are full of the Holy Torah, fear of Heaven and Chasidus, and anyone who lends a hand to support him will be blessed with sons, life and ample sustenance and nachas from all their offspring, and the merits of my holy ancestors will shield them to be blessed with all of the best.
Signing in pain and hurt, distant in location but close in heart

Friday, 7 December 2012

The Empire Strikes Back


Homer on Homa

A stirring epic to the Battle of Bridge Lane when a small brigade of fedora headed irregulars headed by the provident leadership of General Ehrentreu overcame the well-entrenched positions of the Blackcoats and Redcaps commanded by Lieutenant Padwa. After placing guns on the strategic position of Simon’s Castle perched on Mount Defiance, in late evening of 6 December 2012 Homa’s Fort fell to the liberating army and the enemy was routed. Thus ended the rule of the slave owning confederacy of the south.
By our resident Bard “A Broken Bochur”
After days of repelling waves of relentless denials and obfuscations directed by the Kedassia cabal in beleaguered Fort GG, the exhilarating scene of a band of resolute GG Rabbonim galloping over the crest of the hill is a sight of beauty. Hurrah, the cavalry has arrived and the spectacle of the venerable Dayan Ehrentreu, sitting erect on his steed, his sharpened lance aiming directly at Padwa's midriff, should serve to scatter off the Kedassia villainy and deception once and for all.
Despite the machinations of Eisner and co and their bid to mitigate and absolve the sexual misconduct of a narcissistic predator feeding on the naïveté and frailties of the vulnerable, the power of the Truth was overwhelming and their stratagems and protestations were swept away in a seething sea of outrage and integrity. Their ship of lies has been irreparably damaged and now confined to their last lifeboat of hope, HMS "Independent" Beis Din, they are being buffeted and assailed by the tempestuous communal anger and are in every danger of capsizing.
Perhaps Bigoted Yitzchok (shouldn’t that be Buffoon? ed.) will now be able to withdraw his head from his posterior and draw attention to something of actual communal note, abuse and Kedassia's inability to remedy it. Perhaps he will stop whining about the scurrilous JC when he recognises that he supports a much more dishonest and dangerous organization. Maybe instead of harping on about the Board of Deputies, he will spare a few words about Kedassia's lack of transparency and rampant cronyism, their arrant failures to protect the community and efforts to foist their unprincipled stance on others. It is time for this phony frumkeit propagated by pathetic, self-serving individuals to be finally recognised for what it is.
I urge Kedassia to similarly and unequivocally condemn Halpern's conduct and perhaps direct some of their funds earmarked for Neturei Karta and their next internet Asifa, to instead establishing a trust for the victims that were shamelessly exploited.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

To boldly go…

Public announcement signed by leading North West London rabbis that “the Rov concerned is not fit and proper to act in any Rabbinic capacity” and calls for the “merging of all the Shuls in North West London into one united body”.

This is nothing less than going nuclear.
Halpern Kol Koire

kol koire, kedassia side by side

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The Bunglers of Zion

[Several people have complained that they cannot understand this post, so let me explain.
This last Sunday I received a comment in 3 parts with a name to the comment. The commenter introduced himself as a professor in psychology (sic) in New York. He alleged that an enemy of Chaim Halpern has engaged in a tactic known as ‘pre-fiction-opinion’ and that ‘in excess of $20,000’ has been paid to a psychology professional to ‘design and conclude the tactic against the present victim.’ He claimed to ‘know’ this from Velvel’s comments.
I thought the claim was utterly preposterous but nevertheless published it to allow the readers to decide. I then went on to read Parts II and III of the comment where the writer makes allegations that a specific psychologist in Cincinnati, Ohio ‘has published a named opinion against RCH’ and a lot more besides.
After reading these further parts I could see they were written by a loon at best and so removed Part I. Shortly after, the same named commenter wrote to complain that I had removed his post. I forwarded the posts to some friends just for a laugh.
On Tuesday someone forwarded me an email signed with the initials of the same commenter. In it he complained of my removal of Part I of the post and as further ‘proof’ of his theory that 1 hour later Velvel and I stopped ‘their campaign.’ (For the record, Velvel had sent me his valedictory lament on Sunday morning and I put it up briefly when some people saw it. I was writing my post of that day ‘Cast Adrift’ and decided to reserve the comment for the new post where it remains.)
In the meantime others carried out investigations with the purported accuser and the purported accused, both of whom are real people in NY and Cincinnati respectively. They both immediately denied any involvement.
It may all have ended there had not the UOHC Rosh Hakohol, Dovid Frand, stepped in. He had also received some or all of the above comments and emails. He forwarded them by email to a visible list of 8 people consisting of all the tuvei ho’ir, or Honorary Officers, of the UOHC (for the list, see the heading on the UOHC wall calendar,) plus a couple of others.
This too would not have been worthy of comment except that Frand saw fit to add to the forwarded email the following:
The e-mail below was received from a professional in NY.
It looks serious
Please read it and forward it to as many relevant parties as you can
Maybe even to whoever can get it into the JC
And now read on…]
By A Reader
(spiced up by yours truly)
A strange email hit my inbox early yesterday afternoon from an acquaintance who seemed to be spamming his entire address book. The email had already been sent to half of London in descending order of chashivus and originated from none other than our esteemed Rosh Hakohol. It contained the following instruction that was clearly adhered to with the usual zeal:
“Please read it and forward it to as many relevant parties as you can”
Our choshuver Rosh had emailed his entire kitchen cabinet including no doubt its two sinks, dishwashers and Pesach corner. It had to go through 6 layers before it filtered down to little old me but at least I’m now able to identify where I stand in the communal hierarchy.
The salient point of the email is that a UOHC employee received an email from someone purporting to be a Yeshiva University (YU) Professor of Psychology and Education. The email claimed that the entire Chaim Halpern saga has all the classic hallmarks of a setup and was orchestrated by a person “presumed to be Reb Berel”. He went on to claim that some hapless professor in Cincinnati, Ohio (some tomene city with its own eiruv r”l) had charged $20,000 to falsify witness statements in order to dupe the NW rabbonim.
In his tremendous excitement the Rosh suggested to the greatest and goodest (excuse my Kedassia English) of our Kehillo:
“Maybe even [send it] to whoever can get it into the JC”.
The JC! He must have been jumping in his chair and punching the air to invoke the name of that treifene tzeitung. Did the fact that this email was infested with appalling English not bother him or can he not spot a howler so long that it comes with a hechsher? For goodness sake, he could have checked his own kosher dictionary.
What about the fact that this YU professor was using a gmail account? Or that the rabbi and academic claimed not only to know who had apparently falsified the statements but even the amount of bung in the brown paper bag! And how did he claim know all of this you may ask? Well, he explained, he had followed the whole story on this very blog and was able to deduce all these facts from the comments section.
Any alarm bells ringing? Well, apparently not in our Dear Leader’s insect-free head. Of course the most basic fact checking would have proved all this to be a fantasy, though one can be melamed zechus that such checks just aren’t available on a filtered internet.
A simple email to the actual address (which surprise, surprise ends in @YU.EDU) elicited the following response:
“Thank you for writing and informing me of the use of my name and with a pseudo email address, one that I have never had or used.  I am going to contact gmail to see whether I can force discontinuance of its use.
Again, Thank You,
So let’s get this straight. An email from a Gmail account is sent to a low level UOHC guy making wild, libellous claims against R’ Berel Knopfler and some random person in the USA. But instead of the most basic checks or, heaven forbid, using a tiny amount of common sense, no less a person than the Rosh Hakohol bichvodo uveatzmo wants it to go straight out to the public and into the newspapers.
And he no less is the man at the tiller who apparently bolstered by this sensational scoop hit his eureka moment of which the letter below is the result. Until now we’ve been appalled at their lack of action in what is fast becoming for them an existential crisis, but after seeing this, doing nothing is probably their safest option.
Moirai vraboisai: I was wrong. We’re not cast adrift, we’re shipwrecked.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Monday, 3 December 2012

Cast adrift

And so it appears that we have reached the endgame. Weeks of plotting and intrigue have left us a stage looking like the aftermath of a Greek tragedy. Halpern slain in one corner, Padwa struck down in another, his signet ring carrying the Kedassia seal beside him splattered in blood with another Halpern swinging his sword indiscriminately in the last throes of death. As for the other players, they are like dancers at a masked ball fading into the night, though unfortunately no assassin amongst them.
Enough, probably too much, has been said about the accused and the nature of the allegations and it is time to move on. Let's ignore for a moment every one of the allegations of which the vast majority of us haven't heard first person. Let us also ignore every statement we haven't been given the opportunity to read, every meeting we didn’t attend and the many quotes from rabbonim we haven't spoken to. We shall instead concentrate on the few incontrovertible facts in this sorry saga.
This much we can be certain about. That Chaim Halpern resigned "in his own interest" from all public positions bar his own beis hamedresh; that the letter in his own hand refers to complaints relating to marriage counselling but which it fails to deny; that no one has stood up to defend him publicly and on record; and that rumours of the most heinous nature are circulating about him.
Even if every single allegation is discounted, every halachic trick conjured up to disqualify such evidence that there is and the spin his camp is putting out is accepted in its entirety, the above facts alone are unprecedented in the annals of our community or of any chareidi community anywhere. They demand a response from responsible leaders and this has not been forthcoming, which gives us one more incontrovertible fact. That these people are neither leaders nor responsible. As I quoted in my last post, it is not the rodent but its hideout that is at fault. And the size of this rodent is matched only by the size of its hideout: the rabbonim who continue to shield him.
We have never had much confidence in our rabbonim who have created a dunghill from the matters swept out of sight and it can’t be said anyone is really surprised, since not much was expected from them in the first place. Like Avrohom, Padwa could plead with Rav Ehrentreu to rescue his own Sodom but to speak up for the victims has proved too much of an effort. The humanity in his father's Cheishev Ho'eifoid, vol. 3 seems to have passed to another brother while he grabbed for himself just the throne.
But those who orchestrated these happenings do not fair much better either and for reasons of their own are also keeping their counsel. Last week a letter emerged signed by an anonymous group where guidance is sought on the issue from Reb Chaim Kanievsky. Putting aside the ungrammatical Hebrew and clumsy drafting and without meaning to be rude, or, rather, with every intention of being very rude, the questions posed in that letter fit into the category of, 'Teacher, may I go to the loo'. Except that this is not addressed to a primary school teacher but to the chareidi equivalent of the Lord Chief Justice.
If they are convinced in the truth of the allegations do they not possess a modicum of common sense and decency to provide the victims with the justice they deserve and the general public with the protection they require without being told so by Rav Kanievsky? And if the allegations are in doubt how on earth will an octogenarian thousands of miles away make them any wiser? They might as well have addressed their enquiry to Rav Elyashiv at his graveside and any reply would have been just as authoritative.
And so a bewildered community wanders about from blog to tweet perplexed at the turn of events and desperately seeking an explanation, knowing that an answer is too much to ask for. If we had a free press they would be yelling in headlines reminiscent of the days following the death of Diana, "SPEAK TO US, RABBONIM." "Show us you care." "The people have spoken, now you must." The multitude of comments show that there are still many who cling to the hope that given time and space the rabbis will prove their worth but I hate to say, their optimism is not only misplaced but their faith in this lot is nothing short of madness.
Turn to your rabbis to sell your chometz and for the odd query over a Shabbos hotplate but for little else. Just read the comments and hear the voices of a public begging for guidance but their rov has jetted off to the USA so that his senior rabbi can fiddle while Rome burns. Except that we are not Rome, chas vesholem, we are Jerusalem. Rome is them lot who bothered listening to the victims and spoke to their representatives and at least made an effort but it is we who apparently are the purest embodiment of Judaism.
To say they are not fit for purpose would be stating the obvious. If they came with a warranty we would be queuing for our money back. Running a chol hamoied merry go round would be too much for them and how on earth can an entire community be entrusted in their hands?
If this saga has shown us anything, it is the abject failure of leadership which itself is no more than a reflection of the lack of leadership in the entire chareidi world. We have all come to learn the hard way that da'as torah is clueless, loi soguru mipnei ish makes them recoil in fear, chielo d'oiraiso equals cowardice and apathy and emunas chachomim just beggars belief. They aren't spineless; their entire being consists of jelly.
Now is not a time to defer to our leaders but to raise question for ourselves. How have we come to be landed in a situation where universal crimes such as murder, rape and theft don't count if committed by bearded or bewigged members while idiocies of worms and skirt lengths occupy our finest brains? When did we reach a situation that to commit the perfect crime one needs only seek out a chareidi neighbourhood to carry it out? How has it come to pass that the only allegations we will deal with are when one side of the equation fails to sport a beard or doesn’t clad himself in a dustbin liner for a me'il.
Whatever is currently being alleged has been alleged over the years but most of us had not heard about it. It is only thanks to the medium they are desperate to ban that we can discuss it freely. But the chilul hashem is caused by us bloggers and commenters, not the po-faced rabbonim and supine communal leaders. Why do we write here anonymously? Because every one of us is frightened of the pack of hounds in full cry that might be unleashed by those same rabbonim who do nothing in the face of these most atrocious allegations. Kedassia issued only last week another of their imbecilious notices over chodosh and yoshon in products including Marriage’s flour but have nothing to say when their marriage counsellor allegedly comes close to deflowering virgins.
Our system is morally and spiritually bankrupt and would be so financially too if it didn't kowtow to those sustaining it with their rotten millions. They too had better realise that the days when they could treat us as their vassals if not their tenants are coming to an end. It may have worked to stop the Stamford Hill eiruv and other shenanigans but those days are as numbered as their grandchildren’s housing benefit cheques.
This is the world we have created, this is the world we sustain and this is the world which will continue until we see it for what it is. If we won’t it will be left to our emboldened youth who are already doing so in droves.
Welcome to the Torah world but not for much longer.