Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Times, They are A-Changing

I really hope that this is my last post about the autistics.

In the FC discussions, I assumed the role of defense attorney. It is time to say that the defense rests and to send the case to the jury. Josh Waxman put up some interesting arguments to my last post (check them out!). They appear to make sense, so the objective jurist (if there is one) can put it on the "against" pan on the way into the deliberation room. I could respond to some of them but then this debate can just go on forever and not really get anywhere. Personally, I don't really care what the final verdict is - after all, I am working pro bono!

The point I am trying to make is that every person should make his own judgment and we ought to move on to other things.

That said, there is one thing that Josh brought up in his comments which I feel is false and out of line that I do need to object to. He wrote:

"The Gedolim who granted haskamos wrote that one should consult with one's rav before taking action, because rabbis are our leaders, not autistics, and meanwhile these autistics degrade rabbis who disagree with them. They have greatly overstepped their original mandate, and the hamon am is following them in this."

This is a gross distortion of the truth. I do recall (I am not going to hunt for excerpts) that there are a few occasions where they were asked why the Gedolim are silent on some of the issues that they speak out about in terms of impressing tznius (shaitels and makup) or perhaps on the aliya issue and their response went along the lines of that the gedolim of today in general are weak in their influence and/or are afraid to. I have no doubt that this is what Josh is referring to.

Nevertheless, they have at the same time said repeatedly that they are not here to pasken Halacha, that they are not rabbanim, that we should ask all our shailos to rabbonim, etc. They have never locked horns with any specific Gadol and they have never, ever said anything that remotely sounds like: "Listen to us, not to them!"

In fact, the latest entry of their web site is a recommendation to review the last FC from Galia which is chapter 49. I looked it over and right there in the middle she writes (though this may be from an editor as it is in parentheses):

(הערה חשובה: בקשר לכנסים ושעורי תורה, ולכל שאלה, יש לשאול רב
הרבנים הם שליחי ה'!).

(Important note - with regard to assemblies and Torah lectures, and for all [Halachic] queries, one must consult a Rabbi. The Rabbis are the messengers of HKBH!)

I maintain that the autistics have never wavered from this position. Our job is to listen to (the proper) Rabbis. Their job is to let us know that the words of the neviim about acharis hayamim are authentic, that the time of fulfillment is very close, and that we should be prepared for it. This is something the Gedolim are not doing. I am sorry but I do not see them overstepping their mandate (assuming they have one!). Incidentally, I also do not see the "hamon am" following them at all!

While we are conducting closing arguments, I do want to add something about their "predictions". My take is that unless they state a precise prediction as a sign of authenticity as the Torah tells us in Parshas Re'eh, short term predictions are not to be used not to authenticate and not to invalidate. You may notice that I didn't put any "fulfilled" predictions on the "for" side of the scale, nor would I put "unfulfilled" predictions on the "against" side. I totally discount them.

This is because anyone who is brash enough to make predictions always has his alibis in his pocket. Most of the time they are vague and not time-defined. The most common excuse is that the time hasn't come or it was delayed. Sometimes it may be, "it was fulfilled but not the way you understood it". Most of the prophecies in Tanach have not come true yet and we believers still maintain that they are neviei emmes. One of the most common questions that these guys get is - "why haven't most of the things that you have said for years will happen very, very, soon and 'there is no time left' come to pass?" And they continually say that G-d has his timetable and has not revealed it to anybody. While, at the same time, we all dance around gleefully singing, "Yeshuas Hashem k'heref ayin..."

Now, in a previous discussion, I did allude to someone who was identified as a "tzadik nistar" being promoted by another messianic blog. I have no idea who this fellow is supposed to be, what his credentials are, and if he is truly a tzadik (though it is clear he is a nistar). He caused a whole hullaballoo by having the temerity to predict that Rosh Chodesh Sivan, 2009 was the absolute latest deadline for North American Jews to make aliya. I never bought his "deadline" and neither did the autistics who refused to corroborate his prediction. Like many others, I did stand on watch to see if anything substantial did happen on R"Ch Sivan and there was nothing of note. This did not surprise me so I just shrugged it off. Josh maintains that he has established himself to be a lunatic (nistar). I commented that it's a bit too early to reach that conclusion.

What did I mean?

First, let me say this: I have no truck with this fellow so I don't need to stand up for him. Yet, the reason I threw him on to the list of "credible" doomsayers is because we relate in one department - his game is aliya and so is mine. And though it looks like his prediction was baloney because his deadline didn't come through, I think that the detractors are missing the forest on account of the trees.

What I mean is that I personally feel (and thus agree) that the "window of opportunity" for making aliya is not open as wide as it used to be and could be slammed shut at any given moment. I sure hope it doesn't happen but I feel certain about one thing: the prospects for making aliya are becoming more and more difficult as time goes by.

Rosh Chodesh Sivan 2009 may not have been any watershed event but I see clearly that to make aliya today is much more difficult than it was, say, 3 years ago and markedly more than it was 10 years ago when I did it. There are many who two or four or six years ago could have made a comfortable aliya and now it would come with the utmost hardship. People used to laugh at the quaint joke about, "Q. How do you make a small fortune in Israel? - A. Bring a big one". Now, lots of those big fortunes are gone. In the past, this "joke" was (unfortunately) the formula for a North American to make aliya. Not too long ago people told themselves, "If I feel like making Aliya, I will sell my 700k house and buy a nice apartment in Jerusalem or a villa in Beit Shemesh (or half of Efrat) for 3-400k and have a nice cash bundle to supplement my meager Israeli income."

Now the 700k house is worthless because there are no buyers for it. Cash investments are not bringing livable returns. And the job and housing market in Israel is shrinking by the day.

I think that the late 1990s were the most favorable time ever to make aliya. (I came in 1997). Both the American and Israeli economies were flying high. A dollar only bought 3.5 shekels but 3.5 shekels bought you a liter of milk or gasoline or a loaf of bread. Now, a dollar may buy you 3.9 shekels but milk is up to 5 shekels, gasoline to 6 and bread to 7. And do not fool yourself that the food supply is anywhere near where it was. I don't know if anybody noticed that there are no avocados in Eretz Yisroel this year. Why should they, who needs avocados? After all, the great rice crisis is behind us - isn't it? Of course, there was an announcement last week that the next shipment of Kosher meat from South America will come at a 40% increase.

Every day, the situation get's more difficult, but everyone's hitting their snooze buttons because they didn't see anything happen on R"Ch Sivan.

So let's talk about R"Ch Sivan.

Like I said, people who are foolish enough to make predictions usually carry around their alibis in their pockets. Aliya is a process that takes a number of months at best. One needs to apply and be approved and then make the necessary arrangements. The people who are making aliya today are those who began the process a few months back.

So conceivably, if - Chas V'Shalom - some major political crisis were to occur over the next month or so that may impede on the ability to travel and make aliya, it could still transpire that the ones that arrive over the summer are the ones who applied for aliya before R"Ch Sivan and those who applied after R"Ch Sivan don't complete the process (R"L).

So you can laugh at the lunatic who said that Rosh Chodesh Sivan is the last possible date to make aliya and convince yourself that nothing changed and the window of opportunity will never close. But, as for me, even though I will not stand in the corner of this anonymous "tzadik nistar", I am not 100% ready to brand him as a lunatic. Because the way I see things, whether Rosh Chodesh Sivan, Tammuz, Av, Ellul, etc. - they are all deadlines. And anybody who thinks that next month it will be any easier -or even just as easy -to make aliya as the preceding month may be the biggest lunatic of all.

Because the times, they are a changing!


joshwaxman said...

no, unfortunately it is not false.

they claim over and over that they are not paskening halacha, and yet they proceed to do so, and state that one should follow them. then, they have covered themselves with their initial false statement.

i'll give one prominent example, but there are others.

"When leaders, Rosh Yeshivahs, Rosh Kollels feel obligated to gevirim (the wealthy) that support them and must lower their standards of Yiddishkeit because of this, then their Torah can not be Torah. When Am Yisroel is tolerant of one another because each one wants to keep his little aveiros (sins) without criticism, then the Torah can not be Torah."

thus, roshei yeshiva are effectively taking bribes, so one should not listen to their piskei halacha which are not true Torah, but undermined Torah.

it gets better! here is another FC:
"Ask: Gershon (04-May-2007)
You say that every Rav agrees with you that today's wigs are forbidden. That is simply false! in my city, the wife of the heads of kollelim, roshei yeshiva, and poskim who are filled with yiras Shomayim, all wear wigs.
I am beginning to think that this whole website is one big lie! I didn't until I read what was said about wigs. I also don't understand how you could claim that women must all wear thick stockings.
Where in "Shulchan aruch" does it say so? Once again, I ask, what about all the wives of all the very big talmidei chachomim in my city. We're talking about homes filled with yiras shomayim. Something tells me this website is a big hoax!

First of all I never said that all the Rabbonim agree.
I said that no rav can say that the modern wigs, the custom wigs
are ‘Mutar' (allowed), because there is no way they can be Mutar, they look like hair, they are very 'mosech' (attractive) and woman don't look as if they are married.
Beside of course the ‘Avoda-zara' that still is a problem.
It's true there are many rashey yeshivot and Rabbonim that ignore this, however many of the greatest of the great spoke out against wigs even when the wigs where made of straw because they could see the future what would be from this, and therefore it's true many rabbonim and roshei yeshiva agree to this. However I'm personally davening for them all."

Do you see what he is saying? He is cleverly taking it out of the realm of something that *CAN* be paskened. This is so obvious that it does not need any psak! And the roshei yeshiva "ignore" this, and obviously are sinning, such that Daniel is davening for them.

After reading this, do you think that someone who believes that FC is real will consult with a rabbi? Daniel said that it is true that some misguided rabbis say this, but they are misleading the public and they are being davened for! why should i consult my rabbi? if he tells me something other than what Daniel said, Daniel already told me that he is a sinner and ignoring the truth.

Not to mention all the apocalyptic predictions, which are precisely what those Gedolim who wrote the haskamos warned about.

So this is not "false and out of line." You just fell for their trickery. Now contrast what i have written here with what you put in your post. When you wrote "They have never locked horns with any specific Gadol and they have never, ever said anything that remotely sounds like: "Listen to us, not to them!"" is that accurate?

kol tuv,

Yechezkel said...

Part 1 -

I certainly want to commend you for your "bekios" on the FC's.

I will discuss your 2 examples, but first, let us remember that this issue of whether they are paskening Halacha was originally brought up (by you) in the guise of that "they are overstepping
their original mandate".

The second thing is, from my point of view, I have to assess them from the assumption that they are truly quasi-neviim who are here to give mussar and guidance and prepare us for Moshiach.

From this assumed vantage point, I do not understand your first example at all. There is no specific Halachic issue being discussed. It is a criticism of some un-named Roshei Kollel and Roshei Yeshiva(which we all criticize them ourselves) for Chanfaning the Baalei Baatim that support them, overlooking their iniquities, not giving the Baalei batim mussar themselves or not refusing their support and that they are lowering their own standards to please the supporters. This is die-hard mussar in the style of the original neviim (Yeshaya, Yirimiya, Hoshea, Micha, etc.) which is PRECISELY their mandate. Also, though they say that their "Torah" is not Torah, the simple explanation is that HKBH despises Torah learning that depends on support of people who are lax in their observance. But it doesn't mean that when they say this is muttar or assur, that they are not right. They still did not say not to listen to their Halachic psakim. Further, Rabbanim /Poskim that paskin Halacha and Roshei Kollels / Yeshivas are actually two different entities in a related field. This particular criticism was aimed at Roshei Yeshiva, not at poskim.

End of Part 1

Yechezkel said...

Part 2 -

Your second example has to do with the Sheitel issue and I alluded to that in my post that they are indeed very outspoken against today's sheitels. So first, let me say that the sheitel issue is a standalone issue but with regard to overall guidance on Torah and mitzvos and Halacha queries they have always said to consult Rabbanim. So I don't see their stance as being contradictory.

With regard to the sheitel issue in particular, it is a bit of a gray area. The questions for our purposes are these:

1) Is this an "encroachment" into paskening Halacha?
2) Is this outside of their "mandate"?

You obviously hold the answer to both questions is: Yes. I understand your position and I respect it. Yet, I would not automatically answer Yes to either question.

As for the first question, Daniel is not really using Halachic arguments but "shikul hadaas". He
intimates that if they don't look like real hair, would not be so eye-catching, and would clearly identify the wearer as married, they would be okay. They have been preaching that today's sheitels do not do their job. This is quite obvious, by the way. There are sheitels and there are sheitels and the Rabbanim should be a bit more discerning on what is acceptable instead of passively promoting the idea that anything goes. I personally see this more as a statement of mussar than Halacha.

As for question #2, even if this overlaps a bit into the realm of Halacha, assuming they are true messengers from Heaven, their mandate is to inform the masses where they are falling short in Avodas Hashem and what to do to improve it. And if the current sheitel usage is not acceptable in the eyes of Heaven, it is their job to give us this message. Thus, I maintain that an issue such as this, even if it has Halachic repercussions falls well within their mandate - and that was the fundamental issue.

In terms of their "apocalyptic predictions", I discussed this in my post. Basically, they are not predicting anything that is not in the neviim. They are just saying, "It's real. It's very close. Be prepared!" One who believes in Rambam's 12th principle, does not need any haksamos from gedolim on this.

The only "prediction" that is not spelled out in neviim and may effect our actions is that the world financial order will crash further and currencies like the dollar will become worthless. I have seen these predictions from well respected goyish financial analysts that are not autistic so I don't believe they should be ignored (though there is not much anybody can do about it). Incidentally, when the Dow Jones fell from 14,000 to 11,000, I finally liquidated my mutuals and I haven't regretted it.



joshwaxman said...

point #1 was actually juxtaposed to a sheitel statement. and regardless, it seeks to undermine the Torah and positions of rabbonim. They did a similar thing criticizing those rabbonim who said not to go out and protest the gay pride parade, saying (iirc) that such rabbonim would have to atone for this.

point #2, "As for question #2, even if this overlaps a bit into the realm of Halacha, assuming they are true messengers from Heaven", this is true even assuming a navi. According to Rambam, by virtue of butting in to halachic dispute (which modern sheitels undoubtedly is), a navi would render himself a navi sheker.

If you want an attack on a particular rabbi, someone asked them about Rabbi Citruc (is he the chief rabbi of france), who initially was very involved and promoting of FC, but then realized how they have perverted their mandate and now cautions not to listen to them as a problem of tamim tihyeh. To cite:
"Rav Citruc is my neighbor when he stays in Eretz Israel and I spoke with him last night on the subject. He said that these children have knowledge that is beyond us but there is no way to rely on their predictions for the future. He also told me not to get involved with it because it is a waste of time."

when they ask Daniel, he explains why to disregard rabbi citruc's position:
"Q: The following was put on a Torah website where I am talking to people about Dani18.com. Rav C. is my neighbor when he stays in Eretz Israel. I spoke with him last night on the subject. He said that these children have knowledge that is beyond us but there is no way to rely on their predictions for the future. He also told me not to get involved with it because it is a waste of time.
Additionally, Rav C. was very involved in using FC communications with a young girl in France.
A book was written and many people read about it. It seems an odd thing for him to say that it is a waste of time, but I have no way to question Rav C. myself, to ask him about it. What might make him say that it is a waste of time? This is making others not so interested to look at Dani18 and I have no way to respond. Can you ask this question of Daniel? Thank you and Shabbat Shalom.

Daniel answers:
The reason that Rav C. and others became very involved with the FC communications is because it's very exiting to hear from autistics words of wisdom. As far as predictions are concerned, of course you can't depend on our predictions completely because we are only human being and HKB"H decides in the end what will really happen.
But since so many of our predictions have come true, so you can at least take this into consideration and know that it definitely is a possibility.
You ask, 'why did Rav C. say that it's a waste of time to be involve with FC?'. I don't know his reasons, but I do know that because we are waiting so long for Moshiach to arrive, people get tired and nervous, and they decide that what we say is not so important and not so true because the end has not come, yet.
But I want to remind everyone that prophet Yirmiyahu (zs'l) and the rest of the prophets, a'h, all prophesized for 80 years before the destruction of the Beit-Hamikdash.

Binyamin: To continue Daniel's answer from above, I would like to add that Rav C was very enthusiastic, full of fire but the fire must be fed with oxygen. When there is not so much oxygen, the fire extinguishes, and when the fire is extinguished, the excitement is extinguished, so what can be done? This is the time before Moshiach, it's the exact time before Moshiach. We must worry all the time that the fire will not burn very strong, but do not let it extinguish."

Let me close by asking you an important question. Do you believe the Munchhausen Mother was framed by reshaim at Haddassa Hospital, despite the video evidence and the insanity and stupidity of such a position? I'll bli neder explain later why this is relevant.

kol tuv,

joshwaxman said...

here, again, is a criticism of specific rabbonim:

"I can understand the Rebbes and Rabbonim that said, "Don't do anything, just pray." But I didn't see their prayers; did they sit on the floor, tear their clothing wearing sacks and ashes and cry? I am speaking about the Rabbonim of Bnei Brak. Where is X? They didn't sit on the floor and cry and put ashes on their head."


Yechezkel said...

Hello Josh.

I think we are getting a bit bogged down in this.

I already said that I understand your positon and respect it.

As for the whole FC issue, I already turned it over to the jury.

This portion of our debate was triggered by my objection to your point about them "degrading" Rabbanim. My objection stands. I am not familiar with this exchange with Rabbi Citruc and I personally agree that there may well be an issue of Tamim Tihiyeh but I still feel that, though they may be a bit aggressive when it comes to "defending their turf", they are not interested in encroaching on the domain of the Rabbanim.

All told it's a matter of perspective and this can go on forever. If you wish to discuss this further, I would prefer private email correspondence at 1a7b.author@gmail.com.

>>Let me close by asking you an important question. Do you believe the Munchhausen Mother was framed by reshaim at Haddassa Hospital, despite the video evidence and the insanity and stupidity of such a position?

Before I even attempt to respond to this question, please tell me where you live.



joshwaxman said...

New York.


Yechezkel said...

Now let's see. This woman has never been diagnosed with Munchhausen, not before this story broke and not after her evaluation by an independent psychiatrist, yet the papers broke the story that she has Munchhausen apparently based on information from the hospital.

So if she indeed does not have Munchhausen and we are all falsely led to believe that she does, then sure as h*** somebody is framing her.

Now, who could that be?

(Hint: It's not the tzaddikim at Hadassah hospital!)

P.S. Have you seen any videos? I haven't.

joshwaxman said...

so you do believe the nonsense. unfortunate. not surprising, given all the other nonsense you believe in, and your methodology, which involves dismissing science and evidence in favor of what you want to believe. i won't even bother explaining how crazy the conspiracy-theory that would be required for this to work, because you will surely have an answer to convince yourself. baruch hashem i am not chareidi!

munchhausen by proxy is specifically what they have recognized now. how in the world do you diagnose it before you diagnose it?? what do you think Munchhausen by proxy is??

meanwhile, it was a *chareidi* woman who witnessed the mother's disturbing behavior and told the hospital. and the hospital offered to Rabbi Weiss an opportunity to view the video evidence, and he refused.

anyway, my point was not this. my point is that you claim that all that the autistics are saying is mussar. this is not all that they are saying.

rather, Daniel has declared (with information from On High) that the frum chareidi woman is innocent, and that the evil reshaim, the doctors, have framed her.

this might not concern you, because you are delusional as well and believe this to be true. but this is a statement about reality that can well shape how one should react, for supporters.

for example, if this is true and the doctors are reshaim who sought to frame her (and in some crazy offshoots, are also conducting Nazi-like experiments on chareidi kids), then rav sternbuch is wrong, and one SHOULD boycott Hadassa hospital. this is no mere echoing of messages of prophets (which it is not, btw, but rather *applying* *specific* messages of prophets to *specific* situations, which is different). This is not neutral.

kol tuv,

Anonymous said...

please show me studies that prove munchhausen by proxy to be a legitimate diagnosis. to many parents have been persecuted by hospitals who were afraid of lawsuits with this (illigitamite) diagnosis. I am not talking about chareidim or eve jews. see ny times.