An Apology and a Rebuttal to MK Rabbi Dov Lipman

I erred. Big time.

Two years ago, the confrontation between parents and students in the national religious Orot girls school in Ramat Beit Shemesh and a small subgroup of the “Yerushalmi” community living nearby received saturation coverage in the Israeli media. Grabbing the most attention was a wrenching 13-minute video shown by Channel 2 anchor Yair Lapid, which focused on the trauma suffered by a young student in the school, as a result of being spit and screamed at by those protesting the school.

The confrontation at Orot brought Rabbi Dov Lipman, a relatively recent American immigrant, to public attention for the first time, and helped launch Yair Lapid’s political career. Lapid announced his entry into politics shortly after the video aired. Though Lapid referred to those menacing the girls as “chareidi extremists,” he intoned ominously at the end of his introduction, “Is this what we can expect in the rest of the country?”

As if to bring the point home, the video concluded with an interview with a self-diagnosed “healthy man” (who by his appearance and dress appeared not to be from the “Yerushalmi” community, but a relatively recent ba’al teshuva), who was asked what would be the end of the turmoil. His answer, sure to send shivers down the spine of all secular viewers: “The state will finally be chareidi – a chareidi state, whether you want it or not.”

Throughout the dispute, I was highly critical of those I labeled the “crazies.” In one column I offered them as an example of ideological dementia: “How could a grown man shout the most vile names at seven-year-old girls or chase them down the street if a demented ideology had not rendered him oblivious to what he was doing?”

But there was another clip from that period that appeared to me to involve an effort to provoke the “Yerushalmi” subgroup – admittedly not hard to do. That clip shows Dov Lipman together with a woman walking a small dog. As they approach a group of “Yerushalmis,” Lipman thrusts his hands in the air several times, to the accompaniment of the men shouting “Lipman, Lipman.” Many of the men turned their backs or put their round hats over their faces to avoid looking at a woman whose long skirt and t-shirt were not according to the standards of Meah Shearim.

I surmised that the men, who were milling around doing nothing, were in front of a shul at which they had just davened, in a neighborhood close to their homes. I was wrong. Apparently, Rabbi Lipman and Mrs. Wolfson were on their way to accompany the Orot school girls.

I had no business to make any assumptions, and certainly not to publish them, without clarifying the situation. For a Torah Jew, “We regret the error” is insufficient.

I apologize to Rabbi Lipman and Mrs. Wolfson for wrongly characterizing their actions as provocative, and for not having done adequate research.

THAT HALACHIC AND JOURNALISTIC failure was a double patch in panim [smack in the face], resulting not only in a loss of credibility but serving to distract attention from the very real issues that divide me and Rabbi Lipman, who is now an MK in Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party. The first rule of debate is to stick to your strongest points, and never allow your opponent to distract attention by focusing on weaker arguments or ones carried beyond the available evidence.

My oped in last week’s American Yated Ne’eman had absolutely nothing to do with the events in Ramat Beit Shemesh, and they should have been omitted. In that piece, I questioned the decision of the Rabbinical Council of America to invite MK Lipman to be its keynote speaker at its annual convention.

I argued that it was odd for the largest organization of Orthodox rabbis in America – one currently involved in an effort to draw the lines of Orthodoxy – to invite someone who ran for the Knesset on a platform favoring homosexual marriage (though not favoring it himself), and who has advocated positions on geirus [conversion] widely divergent from the RCA’s own standards for geirus, and whose position on the Women of the Wall is outside the Orthodox mainstream.

But most importantly, I argued that the approach of Yesh Atid has dramatically set back internally generated changes in the Israeli chareidi community. That result was fully predictable; indeed I and every other thoughtful observer did predict it. Rabbi Lipman responded to my piece at the Times of Israel, not only rightly taking me to task for my incorrect extrapolation from the film clip, but also attempting to answer my four points. (After I wrote the piece in Yated Ne’eman, but before it was published, the RCA generously extended me an invitation to speak the day after Rabbi Lipman at its convention.)

NOW LET US RETURN to above issues. Rabbi Lipman does not deny he was elected to the Knesset on list of a party committed to legalizing homosexual marriage. According to the Midrash, the Dor Hamabul [Generation of the Flood] was destroyed for instituting formal marriage contracts for such marriages.

Party affiliation means a great deal more in Israel’s proportional representation system than in America. In Israel, one is elected to the Knesset as a member of a party list, not as an individual, and subject to party discipline on Knesset votes. I wonder whether Dov Lipman consulted any Torah authority on whether affiliation with the Yesh Atid list is permitted.

HE ALSO ADMITS that he advocates accepting geirim without kabolos mitzvos on the basis of a few symbolic mitzvos, like lighting Shabbos candles or fasting on Yom Kippur, but only in the case of zera Yisrael – e.g., those with a Jewish father or grandfather. That position, he writes, is based on halachic precedent, including Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef. I am not aware of any written psak like that of Rav Ovadiah’s (though the Sephardi approach to kabalat ol mitzvoth may be more lenient in certain instances). Certainly Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, one of Rav Ovadiah’s chief disciples, has never advocated such a position during his ten years as Chief Rabbi. Zera Yisrael is relevant in halacha with respect to whether the normal strictures against drawing a gentile close to Torah, apply to someone with a Jewish parent or grandparent; Rav Elyashiv held that they do not.

Most relevant for our discussion, however, is that the RCA itself insists on kabolos ol mitzvos, and does not recognize a dual standard system of geiros. That was the position of Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik, the long-time head of the RCA’s Halacha Commission, who considered it axiomatic that there can be no geirus without kabolos ol mitzvos (See his “Kol Dodi Dofeik.”)

WITH RESPECT TO WOMEN OF THE WALL, Rabbi Lipman opines that the issue is not worth the fuss. For one thing, in the past, men and women stood near one another in private supplication (such private tefillos are still the most common form of prayer at the Kosel today), so the Kosel doesn’t have the din of a Beis Knesses. Therefore women wearing tallis and tefillin is no problem. As I pointed out in my original article, the lack of a mechitzah in old photographs was by order of the British Mandatory authorities, not because of the custom of the place.

Anyhow, Lipman writes, “small groups have been going once a month for Rosh Chodesh davening for more than twenty years, and it only became an issue when the chareidi leadership decided to make it illegal and have them arrested.” That doesn’t happen to be the story that Women of the Wall themselves tell. From the first international feminist conference, which gave rise to Women of the Wall, there has been confrontation and clash, according to the 2002 anthology Women of the Wall, edited by two of the groups founders.

Already in 1997, Hillel Halkin (who is not Orthodox), writing in the Forward, pointed out that nothing in Reform or Conservative “halacha” requires women to pray in tallis and tefillin. (He might have added that the Reform movement specifically denies any special kedushah attached to the Kosel or any desire for a return of the Temple or the sacrifices.) Therefore, asked Halkin, “Were they to come to the Wall without prayer shawls as a simple gesture of respect for the traditions of the place, against what sacred principles of their faith would they be sinning? Are there no other places to practice Jewish feminism in the world, in Israel, or even in Jerusalem that they must do it at the one site where it infuriates large numbers of other Jews?”

Contrary to Rabbi Lipman, I believe there is something important at stake: the Kosel’s power as the most enduring symbol of Jewish continuity. If it becomes a veritable Hyde Park Speaker’s Corner of whatever is new in rites performed by Jews – a goal specifically proclaimed by some of the founders – that power is lost.

True, some women may really want to daven at the Kosel in tallis and tefillin, but, as Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik long ago warned, the emphasis on the subjective religious experience is essentially pagan.

WoW is heavily funded by the New Israel Fund, which has its tentacles all over the Yesh Atid agenda. The NIF’s 2011 IRS filing lists the following objectives – foster diverse expressions of Jewish identity and practice, promote legislation that mitigates control of the Rabbinate, advocate for equal allocation of resources to non-orthodox Jewish services and education, and strengthen liberal elements within orthodoxy to achieve those objects.” Somehow I doubt that the RCA identifies with too many of those goals.

IN MY MIND, the primary issue raised in my first piece was the way Yesh Atid has reinforced the most retrograde elements in the chareidi community and slowed the process of chareidi economic and military integration. Married chareidi men have already become more reluctant to enter the IDF programs training programs tailored to their special needs.

Yesh Atid has aided and abetted these elements by allowing them to portray the battle as one over preservation of the chareidi life and Torah learning. When Yair Lapid promises, “Israel will end up breaking the chareidi ghetto walls” or gloats, “This is a historic opportunity not to fight with the chareidim, but to bring them into our worldview … to change the culture of the country and redirect the ship,” chareidim hear a call to Kulturkampf from an earlier era. When Education Minister Rabbi Shai Piron says, “Parasites won’t receive any sort of hechsher,” chareidim hear a hatred for them qua chareidim, and brace themselves to resist the onslaught.

When funding to chareidi schools, but not national religious schools, is cut 25%, even before consideration of the core curriculum, or stipends for foreign students in chareidi yeshiva gedolos are slashed, but not stipends for foreign students in national religious yeshivos, chareidim feel themselves under siege. Similarly, when crucial social benefits – such as subsidized pre-school and kindergarten education – are contingent on both parents working (and no one learning in kollel), chareidim sense a frontal attack on the viability of kollel learning.

Perhaps nothing did more to convince the chareidi world that Yesh Atid has declared war, than the insistence — over the fierce objections of Defense Minister and former Chief of Staff “Boogie” Ya’alon — on criminalization of non-service. Lipman lamely argues that this step was necessitated by expert legal advice that the legislation prepared by the Yesh Atid-controlled Peri Committee would be infirm on equal protection grounds without it. But the law is subject to a much more glaring equal protection challenge anyway because it does not impose equal burdens on Arab citizens.

One does not threaten to bring down the government, as Lapid did, over a legal advisor’s opinion – certainly not at a time of high national danger. Criminalization was a bone thrown to Yesh Atid’s anti-chareidi constituents – a way for Lapid to show that he is sticking it to the chareidim. True, as Lipman suggests, it’s a bluff, not scheduled to go into effect until 2017, long after the current government is history. But it allows Lapid to run as the slayer of the chareidim. That instinct for chareidi-baiting provides little basis for fostering trust.

SADLY, RABBI LIPMAN has done little himself to provide secular Israelis in his party or beyond with a greater appreciation of the joy, the intellectual stimulation, or the cosmic power of Torah learning.

In his Times of Israel response, he quotes his post on Facebook during the Pesach bein hazemanim: “I want to share a thought I had this morning as I jogged through the streets of Beit Shemesh. I saw three street cleaners working – all over age 70. Why aren’t yeshiva students, who are on their month long vacation during Nissan, volunteering to provide these older men with some vacation or to at least make their jobs a bit easier? Just a thought.”

To whom was this brilliant insight directed? To all the chareidi yeshiva bochurim who have “friended” him on Facebook? Or was it directed to the secular community to feed their stereotypes of selfish bochurim concerned only with their own learning and contributing nothing to society? Had Lipman really been concerned about the street sweepers he would have started knocking on his neighbors’ doors, not posting on Facebook.

Do Israeli chareidim really need such instruction in chesed [kindness]? Almost every major volunteer organization in the country – Yad Sarah, Ezer M’Tzion, Ezra L’Marpeh, and countless organizations providing for cancer victims and their families – were founded by products of chareidi yeshivos and serve the entire population. Yad Sarah alone saves the Israeli government 1.4 billion shekels in hospitalization costs a year.

Is the following description of the learning in chareidi yeshivos meant l’hagdil Torah u’l’ha’adiro: “They’ll open up a Talmud and they’ll read a line in the Talmud. And then they’ll read Rashi and then they will read the Tosfot, and then they will read the Rishonim and then the Aharonim on it, and they’ll spend a day analyzing that line of the Talmud and all the commentaries, and that’s it.”

Nor apparently, does Lipman see Talmud learning as offering much refinement of middos: “Maybe, all of a sudden in the middle of the page, you’ll have a statement that relates to what you are learning about being a nice, good person. But that’s not the focus of it.”

I’m not sure how much time Lipman has spent in the great Israeli yeshivos, but he’d like the secular public to know that there is little to show for the miraculous growth in lomdei Torah: “[I]f we saw tens of thousands of the most brilliant scholars who mastered every possible classic text and were writing great works of new thought and ideas, I’d still make my case, but it’d be harder for me. But we don’t see that. You don’t see the results.”

Lipman told the Times of Israel: “I want to be the one to write the test of the 18-year-old . . . to decide which 18-year-olds can study Torah day and night. I want to write that test. It’ll be less than 400 . . . so skilled and so steeped in learning and [who] so love learning.”

What is the point of all this pandering to the secular public other than to assure them that there is no dedication, no mesirus nefesh, no intense intellectual effort, no shviros hamiddos in the tents of Torah?

In an important letter, the Chazon Ish famously observed that the division of the Torah into two separate parts – one having to do with issur ve’heter and the other to do with guidance in other areas of life – with the determination of the chachmei hador binding only in the first section, is the ancient system of German Reform that led to the near total assimilation of German Jewry.

Here is Rabbi Lipman in response to a question as to whether he sought rabbinical guidance before agreeing to run on the Yesh Atid list: “Halacha is: Is this pot kosher or not kosher. If you don’t know the halacha yourself, you ask the rabbi for that.” Anything else, it seems, is beyond the realm of Torah scholars; their decades long immersion in Torah offers them no more insight than the next guy.

But, in the end, Rabbi Lipman is not the issue, apart from his efforts to kasher Yesh Atid for American Orthodoxy, and hopefully we can now proceed to the real discussion.

You may also like...

51 Responses

  1. AY Lawrence says:

    R’ Rosenblum, I was aghast when I read your piece last week, but truly, kol hakavod in showing what a ‘mensch’ should be. You and R’ Lipman may disagree strongly, but in the end integrity and respect must be maintained, while the issues themselves are really what is at issue here.


  2. Eli in USA says:

    First: Thank you for being big. Although as you agree the points are not relevant, so why continue on them?

    The real discussion is what will the state look like in 20 years (if CV Moshiach is not here by then). Being in denial (as many are including Pinny Lipshutz in his recent Yated editorial and the protesters in Manhattan) will not solve the obvious problems. There are solutions, some of which the (more moderate, such as Rav Shteinman and Rav Chaim K.) Charaidim may agree to. But first, in order to have a say they must come to the table. Rabbi Dov L. is part of that table, and to a certain extent sitting on both sides of it.

    As I quoted in the comments to R’ Yitzchok Adlerstein’s recent post, the (more moderate, such as Rav Shteinman and Rav Chaim K.) Gedolim believe this (ending of learning for everyone paid by the government) may be the Ratzon Hashem. The current system has many positives, but also many negatives.

    That being said: Re: WoW. Rabbi Lipman (and many American “Yeshivish”) probably disagree only regarding tactics. If no-one makes a fuss, they will go away (as an issue) sooner than if you make a big deal. And truthfully, should we really care if 20-30 women show up in the morning after Z’man to “daven” in Tallaisim, any more than if 20-30 reform Jews show up with their prayer books?

  3. Crazy kanoiy says:


  4. Jacob Alperin-Sheriff says:

    “Anything else, it seems, is beyond the realm of Torah scholars; their decades long immersion in Torah offers them no more insight than the next guy.”

    This isn’t entirely true. The lack of any interaction with the real world that is a defining feature of Haredi Judaism as a result of “Torah without kemach or derech eretz” reforms instituted in the last 100 years or so has made Torah scholars LESS insightful on issues such as, for instance, child molestation and technology than the “next guy,” and kal v’chomer the experts.

  5. Marty Bluke says:

    The apology should really be printed in Yated Neeman as many if not most of the people who read Yated don’t read Cross Currents.

  6. Yossie Abramson says:

    Just to point out one thing, you are complaining that the new draft law doesn’t impose criminal sanctions on the Arabs. Are you saying that the Israeli government should treat charedim like Arabs? And as for the government subsidizing foreign students, why should any government sponsor foreign students, let alone students who want the government dismantled, constantly ridiculing anyone not part of their group, not having anything to do with the other group other than going to collect your check from them, etc.?

  7. yosef a. berg says:

    Finaly,finaly,someone wrote a coherent rebuttel to the whole rabbi limpan phenominom.Rabbi rosenblum is succsesful here because he doesn’t try and defend the indefensible chariedi position or make ad hominem personel attacks but rather uses rabbi lipmans own words against him .if this had been done months ago a lot of credibility could of been saved and harm averted.

  8. Whoa Nelly says:

    Very well written R Yohnason. I seem to recall reading a blog posting by a well known “blogger” where he wrote a screed about a Rov and book that was written by someone with a similar name. He assumed it was the same person and carried on and on.

    When it was pointed out to him that it was not the same person, he said (I’m paraphrasing) Oops, I made a mistake but “IT COULD HAVE BEEN”. You have not gone this route. Cemmendible.

  9. Nachum says:

    “the lack of a mechitzah in old photographs was by order of the British Mandatory authorities”

    Those photos were taken in the Ottoman era. The Jews of the Old City had shuls to go to, and the Kotel wasn’t one of them.

  10. Ellen says:

    Reading this, I cannot understand how Rabbi Lipman can claim to be Charedi – I would expect someone putting themselves forward as their public example to be only too adept at singing their praises and opening others’ eyes to their positive place within Israeli society. And it’s true that Yesh Atid isn’t exactly an environment ripe for such enlightenment.

    But the main Charedi beef against Rabbi Lipman – that he’s actually more anti- the established Charedi way of doing things – is again irrelevant to the issue.

    The issue raised is the RCA and its policies vis-a-vis conversion standards in the State of Israel. (1) The RCA is not Charedi. (2) I don’t know if they actually stick their nose into the Rabbinic decisions in Israel.

    We have way too many armchair “rabbis” and decision-makers in this country. It really should be left up to the Rabbis who have jurisdiction, and no – not just the Charedi ones.

  11. Moishe Potemkin says:

    If one is sincerely wondering why Rabbi Lipman has done certain things, one could always ask him.

  12. Menachem Lipkin says:

    From JR’s “apology” section:

    “I had no business to make any assumptions, and certainly not to publish them, without clarifying the situation. For a Torah Jew, “We regret the error” is insufficient.”

    From JR’s “rebutel” section:

    “SADLY, RABBI LIPMAN has done little himself to provide secular Israelis in his party or beyond with a greater appreciation of the joy, the intellectual stimulation, or the cosmic power of Torah learning.”

    From an assistant in Dov Lipman’s office:

    1) E-mail Dov received from someone chiloni

    “True Story: I met on Friday afternoon with two successful young Israeli entrepreneurs — both secular IDC graduates and IDF special forces veterans. The issue of them having a meeting on Saturday (as they were leaving NYC Sunday morning) came up — and one said that he would not meet on Shabbat. He explained that he usually would have done so, as religion to him was personified by the haredi who did not share his values and with whom he did not identify at all. Then, he explained, Yesh Atid came along, with the Rabbi Dov Lipman — and showed him that he could embrace Judaism…that it was now owned and controlled by those with whom he disagreed so profoundly.”

    2) Yesh Atid started the weekly Bet Midrash for MK’s – the first in the history of the Knesset. Every Tuesday at 3:00p.m. religious and secular MK’s study a section of Torah together and Dov is a regular contributor.

    3) After a speech in a Jerusalem bar a girl raised her hand and said to Dov – “I just want you to know that you make me want to be more Jewish.”

    4) Dov speaks a few times a week to secular students visiting the Knesset and each time he emphasizes the value of Torah study and he emphasizes the message of secular people respecting religious and vice versa.

    5) After speaking in a bar in Tel Aviv, the young college students said that they never met someone chareidi who respected them and Dov explained that most chareidim would not force their ways on them. The outgrowth of that event was a Knesset taskforce for dialogue between chareidim and chilonim which Dov chairs.

    Now we can all hold our breath for the next “apology”…

  13. Hoffa Fingerbergstein says:

    Moishe. That is a good point. However, for myself and others, the fact that he decided to join Yesh Atid and was elected as an MK for that party itself is a decision that sends out so many (bad) signals. Why couldn’t he have joined another party? Or tried to accomplish his goals in some other fashion, like continuing with the organization he started. Its like a member of Greenpeace joining the Tea Party and then declaring “don’t worry, the Tea Party only wants the best for the environment” and claim that one is still a card carrying member of Greenpeace and shares its ideals.

    I think what I am writing now is a very relevant point here. By joining Yesh Atid, he effectively put himself in a position where he has no traction or influence over the Chareidi community. He can talk all day long about he is Chareidi and musmach of Ner Israel, but the fact remains that he is part of a party that is shunned and rejected by the chareidim. So when he addresses them, they are not listening. Meanwhile, he has seemed to become the darling of the MO/DL world, futher putting space between himself and the community he says he belongs to and wants to reform.

  14. Moshe T says:

    Jonathan, you paint a picture of an evolving Chareidi world that is internally dealing with all the issues that Dov Lipman is harping on, and if Yesh Atid would only leave them alone, all would be well. I think this is disingenuous and factually false. A few examples 1). For many years, Chareidim have attacked any internal efforts at opening Yeshivos with Limudei Chol (i.e. American-style yeshiovos). I was personally involved in the opening of the Mesivta of Beit Shemesh, and the pressure and intimidation that was brought to bear was shameful (B’H the school opened and is iyH graduating its first 12th grade class next year). The many Rabbonim who privately supported it were afraid to speak publicly for fear of antagonizing the more right-wing forces who seem to control the levers of power. This was 4 years ago – was this Dov Lipman’s and Yair Lapid’s fault? 2) There has never been a Chareidi effort to create options for “good” boys who want to do Army or sherut service in a positive atmosphere, i.e. a shtark Chareidi hesder. Why weren’t such programs developed during all the years before Yesh Atid came on the scene? 3) Why hasn’t the Chareidi establishment dealt with the reality that not *every* boy is going to learn forever, but instead keeps repeating the same old mantras about the lomdei torah, as if we don’t have eyes in our head and see the masses of chareidi boys and men who obviously are not full-time learners. Were Lipman and Lapid responsible for this cognitive dissonance for the past 20 years? I could give many other examples, but in fact, everyone knows that the Chareidi establishment is incapable of dealing with these issues internally, and that nothing will change unless maintaining the staus quo becomes economically impossible. And despite all your points, the fact is that many American frum Jews (and certainly balebatim who identify with the RCA) don’t agree with Chareidi ideology on these points.

  15. Shua Cohen says:

    Eli in USA wrote: “There are solutions, some of which the Charaidim may agree to. But first, in order to have a say they must come to the table. Rabbi Dov L. is part of that table, and to a certain extent sitting on both sides of it.”

    I think that these words should not be glossed over, but that very serious thought must be given to their import. Not only has Rabbi Lipman “come to the table,” he crossed an ocean and cast his lot with Klal Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael in order to do so. In that decision alone he towers above the carping, arm-chair critics in America who continue to spurn the mitzvah gedolah of Yishuv Ha’Aretz in order to remain firmly ensconsed in their beloved Chutz l’Aretz.

    Clearly, out of love for our people and for our land, Rabbi Lipman and his family have chosen to live out the remainder of their lives in the Eretz HaKodesh AND to become actively involved in trying to make things better there. I find it to be the height of hypocricy and a monumental display of hubris for anybody in America to rake Rabbi Lipman over the coals, regardless of how seriously they may disagree with the derech he has chosen to accomplish what he can for the betterment of our country and our people. Shame on all of his chutz l’Aretz loving critics.

    As a ba’al teshuva of some thirty years now, I am so distressed …so ashamed…at what is emanating from the “Chareidi” community (from the highest levels of leadership down to the hamon am spilling forth their holier-than-thou venom in the blogosphere) that I am hard pressed to justify my continued identification with that community on any moral/ethical… halachic/hashkafic…basis. The chareidi community doesn’t need to fear the chilonim “destroying the Torah world” in Eretz Yisrael. They are doing a fine job imploding on their own, RACHMANA LITZLAN!

  16. YEA says:

    Regarding the statement that “Nor apparently, does Lipman see Talmud learning as offering much refinement of middos,” because “’Maybe, all of a sudden in the middle of the page, you’ll have a statement that relates to what you are learning about being a nice, good person. But that’s not the focus of it,’”

    Please correct me if I am mistaken, but wasn’t that the basic idea of the mussar movement and why it was necessary?

  17. cvmay says:

    Glad that Reb Yonason has revisited his last article against Dov Lipman. Most of the info regarding Bet Shemesh was completely inaccurate and factually lacking. I have visited the Orot School and it is not in the CENTER of a Yerushalami Kehilla, and the teachers”, parents’ and girls dress in an American Beis Yakov style.

    Writers have a tendency to embarrass their readers with “oft repeated factual nonsense” when it comes to reporting. A statement is spoken, written or heard and quickly it becomes a truism without ever being checked, researched or cleared by the original speaker. This is how “Facts on the Ground” are built fictiously. There is a major difference between a Journalist (Investigative writer) and a Columnist (writer for various papers who advocates a specific line of thinking no matter what). Reb Noah zt”l established “Honest Reporting” for that reason..

    Torah can & will live and flourish even when the truth is exposed.

  18. Dovid Lefkowitz says:

    Why not ask him about his positions? Here’s his contact info: 02- 6408809. Email:[email protected]

  19. Shaya Karlinsky says:

    I think it is important to examine how Jonathan Rosenblum, who “had no business to make any assumptions, and certainly not to publish them, without clarifying the situation” did exactly that. How often does incorrect (to use a mild term) information make its way into the Charedi press, becoming “fact” throughout the Charedi world (sometimes even influencing the decisions of the leaders)? Was it simply impetuous naivety that led him to surmise “that the men, who were milling around doing nothing, were in front of a shul at which they had just davened, in a neighborhood close to their homes”? Or is there a culture that promotes this kind of sloppiness. Do we too often simply delegitimize the PERSON, which then allows for all kinds of lashon hora, motzi sheim rah, and outright disinformation?

    While for a Torah Jew, “We regret the error is insufficient,” apologizing to the victims for the localized mistake that is still being circulated as fact around the Charedi blogsphere is also insufficient. Especially when the apology is half hearted — “APPARENTLY (???) Rabbi Lipman and Mrs. Wolfson were on their way to accompany the Orot school girls.” And then it is followed by continued personal attacks with the obvious agenda of delegitimizing the PERSON.

    Rabbi Rosenblum himself wrote a while back that the power accumulated by people in the Charedi world, whether through their control of institutions or in the national political sphere, has allowed them to avoid develop and present cogent arguments to support their positions. No need for persuasion when you have power. Now that they have lost political power — even if it is temporary — it would be a good time to take stock of how our case is presented in a way that speaks to the public at large. Certainly the Yated readers will cheer what Rabbi Rosenblum wrote, which usually happens when you “preach to the converted.” Many might not even care that there were factual inaccuracies in the article. But the damage done, both to the Charedi cause, as well as to the fiber of Charedi culture should not be underestimated. We are suffering many unfair and illegitimate attacks. But we need to be open enough to examine what we may have done to bring these things upon ourselves, and what changes need to be made.

  20. Eric Leibman says:

    Two points that occur to me at the moment: One, for good, bad or indifferent, these matters will be settled by the people living in Israel. We don’t live there or vote there or pay taxes there, so the main parties affected by this controversy have no reason to listen to, or be concerned about, anything we say. So in that sense, our discussion here is irrelevant at best and a flash point for some very harsh nastiness between readers at worst. Second, for those who favor Charedi participation in the work force and the army, a gradual approach is best, not the hammer and fist approach of MK Lipman. The outgoing governor of the Bank of Israel advocated a gradual reduction in benefits and a gradual introduction of programs designed to help charedim get jobs. It took a long time to get to our present predicament, and, to make it work well, it will take a long time to get our of it. Life has few quick solutions (I am not sure I have ever seen any at all, myself).

  21. L. Oberstein says:

    I have met and find much to praise in both of these antagonists. It is sad that we religious Jews , like the rest of our people, are so contentious. Whay can’t we all get along?Seriously, why does there have to be this tone of “bitul” .The very religious are convinced that the rest of the country hates them and that their words are a smokescreen for their real agenda. It isn’t only Jonathan, they all say this. lapid says he wants to help them but they now just walk out when he speaks. Previously they heckled him so much he couldn’ say one sentance without interuption. Then the “chareidim” wonder why they are so disdained. They can’t figure out why their message is not convincing.
    The “reine emes” the whole truth is that we need Torah learning to preserve the existence of the Jewish People, demographics show this factually. The secular state will some day in the forseable future have such a large proportion of very orthodox that this group will have to take a major share in running the country, the economy,etc. It is critical that the chareidim become a positive asset to the economy and not an outside group feeling no allegiance to someone else’s state. As the father of a chayal in Tzahal it hurts me very much that they won’t pray for my son’s safety. Why does their politics prevent them from saying a prayer for the chayalim? Then they wonder why they are disliked by parents whose child risks his life every day for these same people. If both sides had leaders who were able to communicate and meet like menchen and work it out, we would all be better off. It is time to call for an armistice and a cease fire. We Jews are our own worst enemies, tragically.

  22. Shimshon says:

    Further to the street cleaners. What chutzpah. No doubt these are paid workers, who also receive benefits like vacation. Maybe they actually take pride in their work. Maybe they DON’T want to be treated as chesed cases!

    You do a disservice by giving any credence to what is really yet another excuse to bash the Charedim.,

  23. Bob Miller says:

    Can we hope for straight reportage of situations in Israel and elsewhere, where the truth is never bent because of some agenda or association? It’s increasingly difficult to detect how much of the “information” thrown at us is spin-free.

  24. Eliyahu says:

    Moshe T. The first example that you provide actually proves Jonathan Rosenblum’s point. Some charedi parents and educators decided that there is a need for a charedi yeshiva high school with limudei chol in Beit Shemesh. They decided to open Mesivta of Beit Shemesh. They were opposed by some parts of the community and their rabbonim in public and privately supported by other parts of the community and rabbonim (many rabbonim according to you). In the end, the school opened and is about to graduate its first class and there aren’t any posters on the streets against it anymore. So changes have happened and the need for a local yeshiva tichonit has been met. All of this, as you pointed out, without any input from Yesh Atid.

  25. Moishe Potemkin says:

    Moishe. That is a good point. However, for myself and others, the fact that he decided to join Yesh Atid and was elected as an MK for that party itself is a decision that sends out so many (bad) signals. Why couldn’t he have joined another party? Or tried to accomplish his goals in some other fashion, like continuing with the organization he started.

    I don’t know. Maybe he has good reasons. Maybe he made a mistake. My point was mostly about the fact that Jonathan acknowledged the error of his surmising certain things, and then quickly reverted to making uncharitable assumptions about Rabbi Lipman’s motives. It’s not nice, and it’s also not effective.

  26. cvmay says:

    Attention Hoffa,
    “So when he addresses them, they are not listening” – Changes in the Charedi world is not determined by who or what is said by MKs, politicians or even prominent laymen. You know well, that it makes no difference what party Lipman is connected to…..ears and eyes are shut closed.

  27. Dr. E says:

    Reb Jonathan:

    (1) As you point out, in the end, Dov Lipman is NOT the issue. But, then again, neither is Yesh Atid nor Yair Lapid for that matter. It’s about the perpetuation of an unsustainable system which is incapable of funding itself and is reliant on gevirim in America and the Israeli Government. When you peel away all of the rhetoric, that is what it comes down to.

    (2) What it also comes down to is not “sharing the burden” but “sharing the RESPONSIBILITY”. As with any household, someone needs to get the kids to school, maintain a home that is safe from burglary and fire, pay the bills, and take out the garbage. Everyone needs to chip in to ensure those chores get done.

    (3) While there are of course venerable chessed organizations within the Chareidi community, most are run by women. In addition, the formation of some of the separate Chareidi organizations instead of being involved in (often redundant) National Service demonstrates the lack of a willingness to be team players. The message being expressed is that “Of course 2 + 2 = 4, but if someone outside of our community came up with that good idea, we will fight tooth and nail that it equals 5”.

    (4) Reb Jonathan, please don’t shoot the messenger(s). After all, Hakadosh Baruch Hu built Economics into His creation. Wew live in an era when we have many Rabbonim who are expert attributors. So, maybe I can join the fray and claim that He is just trying to send the Chareidi community a message.

    (5) Often, your pieces on CC end with “republished from Mishpacha Magazine”. I assume that in the case of this apology, it was merely an editorial oversight.

  28. yosef a. berg says:

    Moshe T,your points seem to me to be 100% accurate,but they don’t translate into rabbi lipman/yair lapid being tzadikim.This is not a black or white issue where one side is right and the other wrong,both sides are capable of being wrong.As I said before R rosenblum ilustrates the faults of |rabbi lipman totally irespective to the disasterous chariedi matzav.In response to Menachem |ipkin,your post highlights the travesty of the chariedi politicians never lifting their fingers to use their mk positions as a golden kiruv oppurtunity,but it does not negate all the accurate points raised by r rosenblum.

  29. lacosta says:

    the rambam talks about true teshuva. it involves the opportunity to do the same action in the same place ….

    ie true teshuva [maybe inconceivable in this case] would be the retraction appearing in the Yated….

    [YA – And do you have any indication that Yated would publish it? Why are so many commenters (we don’t publish the redundant comments) assuming that not publishing in Yated was his choice or doing? A good indication of Yated’s willingness is what appears on, which as everyone knows, is operated by Yated. It hosts Jonathan’s original piece questioning the propriety of the RCA keynoting Dov Lipman, but does not have the follow-up apology. ]

  30. Hoffa Fingerbergstein says:

    Dovid – so we cannot rely upon and take at face value what he writes himself and appears in public? There always has to be some “interpretation” of what he says, and that is only to be determined by calilng him? No, if he says or writes something, we should be able to take him at face value and shouldn’t need constant interpretation and checking on exactly what he means.

  31. Crazy Kanoiy says:

    Moshe T. – You make some excellent points however the answer to these problems is not the Yesh Atid method.

    Jonathan Rosenblum has been a voice of reason and moderation on the Chareidi side for years. Many other Chareidim would also fit the “moderate orthodox” mold. They understand the need for Chareidim to assume responsibility on both a civic and economic level. The work is slow and painful but change in the Chareidi world is evolutionary and not revolutionary.

    Dov Lipman and Yesh Atid have broadened their campaign beyond the scope of civic responsibility. They are actively and passionately advocating for Gay Marriage, Civil Marriage, Feminist extremism, and the most minimal standards of Geirus. To the casual Chareidi observer this appears (and perhaps rightly so) as an attack on the religious status quo of the last 65 years and is not perceived as an attempt to help Chareidim earn an honorable wage. The negative comments attributed to Dov Lipman (street cleaner comment) and other Yesh Atid MK’s (parasites etc)only cement such a perception. This emboldens the reactionary forces in the Chareidi world and allows them to paint all moderates as “reshaim” or worse. This is what pains Jonathan Rosenblum and this is what should pain all that care about the future of Chareidi Judaism in Israel.

  32. Crazy Kanoiy says:

    Dovid Lefkowitz – Please see my post above and BTW I did ask him (via email) and he told me that he would take my concerns into consideration.

  33. cvmay says:

    Most individuals, Rabbanim included can not always be taken at face value and Why you may wonder? Words, phrases and sentences are taken out of context continuously. There are many Rabbanim that will not publish seferim due to the “chashash (chance)” of being misunderstood.

    Is everyone noticing the MASSIVE PR coming from Israel and Charedi centers, to ‘educate & inform’ American Charedi brothers on the evil, harsh decrees and consequences of its implementation? I’ve been wondering why…..
    There is an element of surprise (from Charedi leadership here & in Israel) that the American ‘yeshivish/Charedi’ kehilla is not convinced or swallowing tooth and nail the HEADLINES (shmad, destruction of Torah world, evil, avodah zara). In order for the Charedi world of Eretz Yisroel to grow and sustain itself (in the present model), the dire need of ‘open pockets’ is essential. There will not be masses of Israeli Charedim leaving the country and setting up home ‘Chutz L’Eretz’. Therefore CASH, $$$$$ and donations are the answer.

    While the Mosdos in America are hurting and months behind in salaries…where should askanim/gevirim put the bucks? This is the system that Rav Steinman, I believe is alluding to when he says ‘Changes will happen’.

  34. yankel says:

    Historical context of Israel as a socalist state is nescessary to understand where all these subsidies that are being cut, came to be in the first place. As is being reviewed now by the US supreme court, everse affimative action ofter equals discrimination. In this case, cutting subsidies based on religious values is blatantly anti chareidi. The Arabs face no conscription or welfare cuts, the kibbutzim are being gifted billions of dollars worth of state land that they inhabit and the chareidim have their child allowances cut. All while having Dov Lipman fan the flames and stereotypes of sonei torah.

  35. Baruch Gitlin says:

    I’d like to comment on just two small points made in this post.

    In discussing Yesh Atid’s effort to impose criminalization for evasion of army service by haredim, I think it is important to emphasize that for non-haredi Jewish Israelis, evasion of service without a valid exemption is, and I believe always has been, a criminal act punishable by jail. Possibly, Yesh Atid did raise this criminalization clause to score political points – which, if true, is something I strongly feel they should not have done, as it probably violates their campaign platform, the coalition agreement, and their understandings with Beit Yehudi, is a poor tactical move, and will be poor policy if passed. It is unfair to hold Dov Lipman accountable for this action for the very reason that it goes against the platform of Yesh Atid, and I strongly expect that he will work within the party to change this position. That is how party politics work – party members are never going to agree with every action or position their party takes. But people should be clear on this point – criminalization for evasion of army service is not a special punishment against haredim, it is subjecting haredim to the same law as others. Non-criminalization, which is where I am betting the law will end up, would be a special privilege for haredim only.

    As for the Arabs, although Jonathan Rosenblum only mentions this issue in passing, I think it is important to point out that this is a complete red herring. The Arabs are not drafted en masse because their basic loyalty to the state is in question, something I would hope is not true of the haredim. Further, I take note of the loud and long complaints the haredi parties have made about being excluded from the current Israeli coalition. What they choose not to mention is that no Arab party has EVER even been invited to sit in an Israeli coaltion. The haredi parties want to be included in governing the state, but are not willing for their children to be included in risking their lives to defend the state. That is one of several things that separate them from the Arabs, and that is one of the main reasons most of the public is no longer willing to be patient about the yeshiva student exemption.

  36. Noam Stadlan says:

    Rav Adlerstein makes a good point- is there any indication that Yated would publish this piece? There is only one way to find out- have Mr. Rosenblum ask them to do so. Can one assume that the Yated is dedicated to truth and would not want such misinformation to stand? Or is there going to be an admission that truth is not the primary goal of the Yated(and therefore everything published there is suspect) ? Mr. Rosenblum accuses the Wow of saying different things to different constituencies. I am not sure of the accuracy of this accusation, but it does appear that he a similar problem.

  37. Eli says:

    Rabbi Karlinsky, you are unfortunately correct – the charedi world does, all to often, delegitimise the person. Take for example Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s recent attack on Rabbi David Stav. It is his right to disagree with Rabbi Stav and to voice his criticisms in a respectful manner. However, it is not his right to label Stav ‘a wicked man who is not fit for anything’. Such strong rhetoric should only be reserved for mass murderers. Outbursts like that only harm the already heavily tarnished charedi public image. I imagine it is also frustrating for you, as a rosh yeshiva of a yeshiva that tries to show ‘beginners’the amazing beauty of Torah, to be undermined by those who unfortunately give the Torah world a terrible public image. How do you explain such outbursts to your talmidim?

  38. NK says:

    R Lipman states:
    “FACT: I have only discussed minimal standards for conversions of people from “zera yisrael” – those who have moved to Israel from Russia under the Law of Return, who have a Jewish father or grandfather. This idea is endorsed by numerous major poskim over the generations, and Rav Ovadiah Yosef has written similar decisions as well.”

    This is in fact NOT correct. By discussing ‘zera yisrael’ R Lipman is referring to the discussion in r. chaim amsalem’s sefer (by the name Zera Yisrael). Unfortunately R Lipman has failed to read this sefer correctly – maybe he only read the conclusions and not the chapters themselves…

    Even according to this extreme ultra-liberal sefer (see the recently printed sefer KeGer Kezrach by R Mordechai Alter or the earlier sefer Mishnas Hager by R Klein for a more traditional approach to geirus) the only opinion which clearly holds that standards may lechatchila be watered down for geirus of ‘zera yisrael’ is Rav Meir Mazuz (and even he says that the Rabbanut Reishit should be the ones to decide and that his opinion is not halachah lemaaseh). Rav Ovadiah is quoted in several places in the sefer as saying that we should be welcoming and try and even encourage geirus of those whose fathers are Jewish (which certainly does not include all Russians in Israel) but Rav Ovadiah goes out of his way to say that this is NOT at the expense of their kabalus hamitzvos. Indeed Rav Ovadiah is clear in all of his piskei teshuva (as well as at his appearance in the 80s in front of a Knesset Committee that there has to be kabalus hamitzvos in the usual fashion).

    R Lipman is simply not telling the truth when he makes these claims and is basing himself on the mistaken approach of former MK amsalem who does not have a leg to stand on (as I said Rav Meir Mazuz is a daas yachid, he is not a posek, he is a Rosh Yeshiva who specifically says that he is not paskening the question).

    R Rosenblum – it is a pity that you did not take the time to research this matter properly either. It seems that the Charedi Hasbarah in Israel has failed to recognise the new fight and challenge faced by yesh atid.

    I recently heard a radio debate between R Lipman and one of the older Charedi MKs. I also had the misfortune of seeing R Lipman in a debate with another Charedi MK on the Knesset Channel. On each occasion, R Lipman ‘won by a knock-out’. The simple reason being that R Lipman is using his research budget (and anecdotal evidence he generates) to come prepared to each debate (and each newspaper article). The Charedi MKs and commentators have become lazy – they have never had to explain themselves against ‘one of their own’, they don’t do basic research and they ‘shoot from the hip’. There is really no excuse for this.

  39. lacosta says:

    in discussing the assertion of r JR that ”the Chazon Ish famously observed that the division of the Torah into two separate parts – one having to do with issur ve’heter and the other to do with guidance in other areas of life – with the determination of the chachmei hador binding only in the first section ”

    we are looking for the actual quote that r JR is referring to in this assertion . [see avodah v31 issue 118 ]

  40. Menachem Lipkin says:

    “And do you have any indication that Yated would publish it?”

    I see no reason to assume they wouldn’t. In the end, this piece has a minor “apology” on a technicality, but mainly picks up where JR’s last Yated piece left off, completely in line with the Yated’s agenda. Regardless, JR could simply have started this piece off by saying, “I first attempted to have this published in the Yated…” Also, since JR has access to this comment area, he could simply clear it up for us.

    And while this is wonderful blog, it is just a blog. JR has relationships with other significant publications, such as Mishpacha and the Jerusalem Post, who could have alternatively published it.

  41. Yehuda Berman says:

    Much of what I have to say has been said by others but I would like to refer to Yonasan Rosenbloom’s take on middos in the chareidi world. There is no question that the chareidi world is full of good middos – but there are also plenty of chareidim, especially young guys, who wouldn’t know a good midda if it it them in the face. Many years ago, when my wife and I were first married, we lived in Beer-Sheva. When my pregnant wife would get on a bus, some man (not necessarily wearing head-covering) would immediately get up to give her a seat. We moved to Bayit VeGan in Jerusalem when my wife was in her eighth month of pregnancy with our second child. When she would get on a bus full of yeshiva students, she would have to stand all the way unless a young girl offered her a seat. The boys studiously avoided looking at her. Years later, when I was taking a course at Bar-Ilan University, the bus from Bnai Brak to Jerusalem came by every 45 minutes. One day the regular bus passed by empty without stopping (tha’s another story). The next bus, full, came 45 minutes later, and all the people who had been waiting up to an hour and a half tried to squeeze in. One old lady (late 70’s/early 80’s?) managed to squeeze in but stood crushed against the entrance/exit door. From my standing position I asked a young chareidi(16/17?) sitting near the front to give the old lady his seat. Not only did he refuse but the chareidim around him justified him, saying the old lady should have waited for the next bus. I didn’t personally see so I won’t mention the numerous physical attacks on rabbonim and others from young men who have been incited by rival rabbis (R’ Menachem Porush years ago and Rabbi David Stav recently, to name a few).

  42. Dr.Uriel Levi says:

    I must admit, that I was quite moved by Jonathan Rosenblum’s apology but even more by his rebuttal. I had come to the shaky conclusion, based on recent events and Reb Johnathan’s apparent hatchet job on Rabbi Lipman , that the vociferous response by the Chareidi leadership was strictly an economic, political& cultural one. The loss of power, money& influence can often upset even the most pious of people and its totally understandable that some will fight in an uncivil – even anti Torah – manner. However,after reviewing Rabbi Lipman’s meteoric rise to the Knesset from the events in Bait Shemesh 2 years prior, I concluded that basic Torah Hashkafah & fundamental Torah values – may be the real issue. This isn’t to say that real problems in the Chareidi world don’t exist, but there are other issues at play here. We can’t divorce a politician from ideology. Menachem Begin, for example, was loved because he was a man of truth , and the fundamental issues he believed in, were embraced by nearly all across the political & religious spectrum. Some politicians are not drawn to politics based on ideology but rather political opportunism. One may recall that R Lipman initially set up tent with Rabbi Amsalem’s party but he saw more of a political opportunity by joining Yesh Atid & Yair Lapid. This is despite the fact that he was more naturally inclined to join a Torah based party rather than a clearly secular party. The fact that R. Lipman’s Hashkafah – especially when it comes to viewing Halacha independent from our ethical & moral values – coined so beautifully by that quote from the Chazon Ish – confirms my suspicion that his politics is not based on a truth that is inseparable from the politician.

  43. Baruch Gitlin says:

    In thinking (too much) about these issues, I came across the following quote from George Washington. It seems to me that there is a lot of wisdom in this quote, and that we could all stand to study it and learn from it:

    … One of the expedients of Party to acquire influence, within particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions & aims of other Districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies & heart burnings which spring from these misrepresentations. They tend to render Alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal Affection.

  44. Why says:

    >NOW LET US RETURN to above issues. Rabbi Lipman does not deny he was elected to the Knesset on list of a party committed to legalizing homosexual marriage. According to
    >the Midrash, the Dor Hamabul [Generation of the Flood] was destroyed for instituting formal marriage contracts for such marriages.

    >I argued that it was odd for the largest organization of Orthodox rabbis in America – one currently involved in an effort to draw the lines of Orthodoxy – to invite
    >someone who ran for the Knesset on a platform favoring homosexual marriage (though not favoring it himself),

    What about Agudath Israel? It has had Rabbi Yaakov Benamou speak at its annual conferences AFTER he publicly condemned Yeshiva University for discriminating against homosexual and lesbian students?

    Why are you inconsistent with your criticism?

  45. Reb Yid says:

    While we’re on the subject of apologies, Rabbi Adlerstein should also issue an apology for a recent post titled, “The Tolling of The Forward’s Bell of Hatred”, in which an anti-Orthodox column was posted by one of its contributors.

    Since then, the Forward’s editor issued a column of her own with a very different take, and today’s Forward had a very large, front and center, strongly worded column by Hillel Halkin about the WoW, titled “Childish Provocateurs” (what he calls the WoW).

    One can and should disagree with individual columns in any publication (including the Forward), but it is a different matter to start labeling entire entities–be they “Orthodox”, “Haredim”, or “The Forward” in one undifferentiated swoop.

    [YA – No apology is in order or offered. The piece was way over the top, and was approved by an editorial staff. That was a failure. The subsequent publishing of other pieces doesn’t compensate for that failure any more than Paula Deen will be able to redeem herself by a donation to the NAACP]

  46. SA says:

    Dr. Uriel Levy: “One may recall that R Lipman initially set up tent with Rabbi Amsalem’s party but he saw more of a political opportunity by joining Yesh Atid & Yair Lapid.”

    Just to correct this: Rabbi Lipman was originally involved with Rabbi Amsalem’s party because Rabbi Amsalem was at first willing to provide a political “home” under which Lipman could organize English speakers. The English-speaking division of Am Shalem had its own activists, its own Facebook page, and its own events (both in Israel and the US). There was even an “Anglo” event in the Knesset that attracted hundreds of people, which Rabbi Amsalem addressed.

    A couple of weeks after that Knesset event, Rabbi Amsalem apparently decided to focus solely on Sephardi-oriented issues, and basically dumped Lipman’s whole “Anglo” initiative. Only after that did Lipman start getting involved with Yesh Atid.

  47. Miriam says:

    “…the New Israel Fund, which has its tentacles all over the Yesh Atid agenda.”

    Is this accurate – that NIF is a heavy contributor to Yesh Atid??

  48. Noam Stadlan says:

    I think the time for guessing should be over. As far as I can tell, this ‘apology’ was not published in Yated. Did the author request that Yated publish it? If not, why?
    It is a simple question. The answer will speak volumes either about the author or the paper. The lack of an answer will also be telling.

  49. Shaul says:

    The apology was printed in abridged form as a postscript to his column in last weeks Yated.

  50. haim says:

    “The apology was printed in abridged form as a postscript to his column in last weeks Yated.”

    —where is the link? can’t find it anywhere. or was it only in the hard copy edition?

  51. Shaul says:

    Hard copy. Rosenblums column is never on the Yated website. His apology is right here for all online readers. What more do you want?

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This