What’s Wrong With Us?

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14 Responses

  1. Nathan says:

    How to Neutralize the Chillul HaShem of the Past Two Years

    The Orthodox Union (OU), Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) and Agudath Israel, must make this public announcement, covered by both newspapers and television news:

    From now on, any Jew caught stealing, robbing, cheating or defrauding or creating headlines that make Jews look bad, will be BANNED from all synagogues affiliated with the OU, RCA, NCYI and Agudah.

    That person will NOT be allowed to enter those synagogues, and if he enters them, then he will NOT be permitted to receive aliyot or any kind of honors or even recite kaddish. He will be forced to leave the synagogue immediately.

    Also, his monetary donations will NOT be accepted by any of those synagogues, and he will be banned from advertising in the synagogue newsletter.

    When he dies, his name may NOT appear on a memorial plaque or be announced in the synagogue newsletter. He may NOT be eulogized.

    If a synagogue officer or Rabbi does creates headline news that brings shame to the Jewish people, then he must be removed from his position immediately, even if there nobody to replace him. If he is a Rabbi, then his ordination [semichah] should be cancelled, and referred to as MISTER instead of Rabbi.

    Synagogues in all 50 USA states should place advertisements in newspapers proclaiming that Ponzi King Bernard Madoff and all people similar to him are NOT welcome in their synagogues. Bernard Madoff will never leave prison alive, but this is an important symbol. Our children and our Gentile neighbors must know unambiguously that we Jews DO NOT agree with or tolerate crooks or criminals. If the OU, RCA, NCYI and Agudah do not do this, then it should be done by individual synagogues.

    Synagogues should not be the only Jewish institutions to publicly speak out against Jewish crooks: The Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) and JCRCs and Hillels and kiruv organizations and YU should also speak out against the Jewish crooks.

    When Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetsky was Rosh Yeshivah [Principal] of Torah Vodaath, he immediately expelled a high school student who cheated on a test of secular knowledge. So why can’t our synagogues make public announcements banning all crooks, and our Jewish organizations make public announcements expelling all criminals?

    When Yitzchak Rabin was killed, his killer was publicly condemned by every important Jewish organization and leader, so why not Bernard Madoff and those people like him?

    Even if only ONE SHUL would make a very public international announcement that:
    “crooks and criminals and con men are totally banned from our synagogue,”
    then that might be enough to partially reduce the Chillul HaShem of the past two years.
    And if two shuls did this, then that would be even better.

    This effort would be worthwhile even if no two synagogues would agree exactly on who to ban. The important part is that our children and Gentile neighbors see us disassociate from crooks and criminals, which would help to neutralize recent Chillul HaShem by showing that Bernard Madoff and other Jewish crooks are merely diseases on the body of the Jewish people, not the body itself.

    QUESTION 1: The only way to counter Chillul HaShem is with Kiddush HaShem?

    ANSWER 1: When Jews let everyone know that they are disassociating from criminals and banning crooks, *** THAT IS *** Kiddush HaShem!

    QUESTION 2: Where will Jewish criminals pray if they are banned from synagogues?

    ANSWER 2: Most Jewish criminals do not pray often, especially in synagogues.

    Also, praying in a synagogue is DeRabban, and therefore is a lower priority than stopping Chillul HaShem, which violates Biblical Law and is the worst sin possible.

  2. Bob Miller says:

    The quoted sermon said,

    “But remember, God is watching us from a distance. Perhaps even more important, our children are watching us up close . “Es past nit.””

    Part of the solution is to realize that He is not distant at all. When we contemplate taking one path or another, He is right there. He knows everything, so clearly He is not distracted by somebody else or some other issue.

    Those of us who think they are religious but also think they can win through outrageously dishonest or bullying tactics in business or in politics or in community life should think again. And if they persist, our own community institutions should hold them accountable and not be bought off.

  3. Garnel Ironheart says:

    Jews have never done well with money. Look through history and you see one constant factor – when we are poor and struggling, our hearts go out to God. When we’re rich, we quickly forget about Him.

  4. Shlomo says:

    Garnel, that is not universally true. We were more loyal to God in Yehoshua’s generation, having inherited a plentiful land, then we were in Moshe’s generation, despite all the miracles. Prosperity can be a moral challenge, but so can poverty.

  5. Nathan says:

    In response to Garnel Ironheart, message number 3:

    It has often been said:

    Ashkenazic Jews who become wealthy become less religious.
    Sephardic Jews who become wealthy become more religious.

  6. mb says:

    “5.In response to Garnel Ironheart, message number 3:

    It has often been said:

    Ashkenazic Jews who become wealthy become less religious.
    Sephardic Jews who become wealthy become more religious.

    Comment by Nathan — October 22, 2009 @ 1:22 pm”

    I don’t think that is true at all.
    Many of the Sephardic, Spanish and Portuguese Jews readmitted to England in the mid 17th century, became very wealthy. Within a few generations most of those families had disappeared from Judaism. Their German brothers and sisters who came shortly after stayed much more loyal.

  7. L. Oberstein says:

    Not many rabbis actually write out sermons and then post them on a web site . First of all they would have to prepare, secondly , they can’t re-cycle the same stuff next time. Rabbi Wohlberg is a good example of how to move a congregation closer to tradition and to build a future for modern orthodoxy. His sermons are intersting and people come to shul to hear them.
    Now to the body of the sermon, a zuch in veiy, as my mother would have said. When it comes to greed, who is exempt. When you hear how much money people lost, you wonder why our mosdos are in financial trouble. If these jewish wealthy people would only give maaser, we could give every Jewish child a day school education. The whole thing is a shame.

  8. dr. bill says:

    very well said. i would add one point, told to me by non-orthodox business leader who was CEO of a major cable company. “I don’t want chalk dust on my pants cuffs.” He meant that the legitimate circle (think college wrestling) has a circle around it, marked by chalk. While it is legal to be on the chalk circle, it is not advisable.

    my own view is that those who cross the boundary, and our totally outside the circle, like many of the miscreants who made the news is something that is deplorable but not the only or even major issue. without naming names, it should be obvious that major jewish kehilot and organizations need stay away from the chalk. when people witness such behavior condoned, the ability to rationalize a slightly wider circle of chalk is inevitable. sadly, our circle has gotten rather large and it takes this to bring it to the fore.

    these events make the largest chillul hashem but i do not believe they are the major negative influence.

    we need to stay well within the circle – and some major organizations / kehillot / mosdot often are not. i think their negative influence is much more damaging to the general community.

  9. tzippi says:

    Re the discussion of comments 3 -6: Deuteronomy, 32:15 (“Vayishman Yeshurun vayivat”) is an unfortunate fact of human nature. It’s not an inevitability, but it’s something we have to be on guard for. While we live in a unique time in history – widespread literacy, advances in so many areas such as health and what we take as lifestyle basics, for starters – this and other dicta are still universal truths.

  10. Jewish Observer says:

    “a zuch in veiy”

    – translation please?

  11. L. Oberstein says:

    a zuch in veiy”

    – translation please
    Basicly it is the same meaning as “Oy Vei”.
    The Yiddish language is rich in meaning, nuance and has a lot of Jewishness in it. If you speak Yiddish you get my meaning, if not, I can’t explain it. Yiddish took a hard German and turned it into a soft Yiddish. The fancy Jews looked down on it. I learned a little when I was very young at my zaidy’s knee. To me, the loss of Yiddish is an irreplacable loss of our cultural heritage, but that’s the way the cooky crumbles.Yddish is one of the victims of the Holocaust.

  12. Barzilai says:

    “a zuch in veiy” is an idiom that means “opening the Pandora’s box.” It literally means “a groan and a woe.” It is more often said “An och uhn a vei,” or “an och un ahz vei.” The ‘ahz’ is just an emphasis of the article “ah.”

  13. Jon Baker says:

    And here I thought the three words (contracted) would be Shanda Fardi Goyim.

  14. Sarah Shapiro says:

    Re. Comment #4:

    Many years ago in a shiur, I heard a different view. The well-known spirituality of many South African Jews was compared to that of the Jews in the Midbar, insofar as their material needs had been met. This, said the speaker (whose identity I don’t recall) gave rise to a certain kind of emptiness, a vacuum that had to be filled. In the absence of physical hunger and the necessity of work, their eyes turned upward, and spiritual hunger increased.

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