Thursday, February 18, 2010

I'm disgusted

This post has nothing to do with nusach, shul, singing avinu avinu, using silly Boradway melodies for kedusha or gonging. I'm writing this post not as the NF but as a simple Jew who has had enough of hearing how our religious "leaders" have once again been exposed as at best, morally deficient and at worst, frauds and charlatans.

Many of you may read blogs such as failed messiah, unorthodox jew and daas torah which document on a seemingly daily basis the expose of another misuse of power on the part of someone with the title "rabbi". No particular migzar (group) seems to be immune --- The Spinka Rebbe is in Jail for money laundering, there is last summer's raid on the Syrian community,  "Mekubalim" are exposed as frauds now and again after promising to exorcise dibbuks or make sure your wish comes true --- of course if the check you have written is large enough....of course we have the Leib Tropper affair. There is the Washington Post story raising serious questions about the sofer claiming to sell "Holocaust" Torahs.  Earlier this week you may have read about the "prominent NY chazzan" stealing tzedakka money from his mother in law (the Holocaust survivor). (I'm intentionally leaving out the links here ---- you can google any one of these items and get a plethora of hits.)  (Please note that many of the stories above are alleged and some reflect situations where inidividuals plead guilty.)

However one recent news item has trully shaken my faith and trust in our religious leadership:
The Mordechai Elon affair. For years the Dati L'eumi community has looked to Rav Elon as one of our religious and educational leaders. I am generally not one to judge another person's behavior. When the story first broke, I immeadetly assumed that there had been some misunderstanding --- years ago Rav Aviner --- another leader was accused of sexual impropriety but his name was eventually cleared. But when Rav Aharon Lichtenstein goes on the reconrd stating exactly what had happened (and that he has recieved threatening messages), it's hard to be dan lkaf zechut. I have no idea is Rav Elon did anything wrong. But it is enough that there are claims against him and that Rav Lichtenstein (among others) is condemning him to shake my faith and trust in our leadership.
---  And if we cannot trust the Mordechai Elons of our community, what rabbanim can we trust?

Currently, my belief in the "Aseh l'cha Rav" system is 99% dead. All I see are rabbanim who mis-use psak or their leadership positions to gain power and control or wealth. With that in mind, I don't know who can be trusted anymore. How can I tell which rav is a liar?, which one is a theif?, which one is having an affair? and which one knows less halacha than me but bought his semicha online? If it weren't a practical impossibility, I would stop using hechsherim --- How is it that a rav that will lie and steal and shtup little boys is suddenly reliable to tell me that the chicken I'm buying at the supermarket is ok?

Praying for better times with more trustworthy leadership,

A simple Jew

Monday, February 8, 2010

Jerusalem- II

Many readers will recall that last Spring, the NF and family spent shabbat in J-m at the bed and breakfast belonging to his in-laws. With the NF's in-laws visiting in Israel for a few weeks, the NF  and family were summoned to again spend Shabbat in downtown Jerusalem. Happy Happy Joy Joy. The one saving grace of being in Merkaz Ha-ir for Shabbat  is being able to go to the great synagogue and hearing some fine choir action....or so I thought. People watching can also be quite fun --- especially when Jesus shows up for Kabbalat Shabbat.

So the NF, the greater NF family (inlcuding Mrs. NF and the 4 little NFs) along with Dr and Mrs In-Laws made our way in the rain to the great synagogue for Kabbalat Shabbat. Since the NF was there last, Chaim Adler has replaced Naftali Hershtik as the Chazzan Rashi. ---- A summary of events:
1. Boring. was the same old Kabbalat Shabbat the NF would hear in his own shul only instead of Alvin from Alvin and the Chipmunks leading, we had a world class Chazzan.
2. there was hardly any interaction between Chazzan and Choir
3. Instead of an  interesting Lecha Dodi, the chazzan picked one of the melodies taught to kids in pre-school. The choir didn't sing along.
4. The Chazzan then went into a serious, heavy and elongated cantorial piece for Bameh Madlikin (of all things)---- he got very emotional when repeating ורבי יוסי פוטר בכולן חוץ מן הפתילה מפני שהוא עושה פחם over and over again. I know we are facing issues with fossil fuels but there is no reason to cry over the פתילה.
4.  In the middle of a Hashkivenu, little NF (#2) whispered to me that he wanted to make a deposit in the country's manure reserves and that pretty much ended davening for me.

All in, the choir was disappaointing and didn't mesh well with the chazzan.
In other news, Ari J sent this interesting link on a tone deaf Sephardi Chazzan at S&P in NY.

Shavua Tov,

The NF