Thursday, July 19, 2007


by: Schvach Yid

It’s a game I’ve encountered among a community of rabbi’s in my adopted Bible Belt town. It goes something like this: The rabbi who either recruits a new ‘member’ or who is present to greet the new ‘member’ at the door when he/she ambles in, ‘owns’ that persons monitary contributions. The contributor has little or anything to say about the matter.

And so a new guy came to schul who turned out to be a macher with his own business. Suffice it to say he had cash folks. Bingo, he grew a beard and ‘got’ to put on the religious garb that marked him as the real McCoy. The congregants basically knew his up- to-the-moment tzidakah status by his relationship to the rabbi who ‘owned’ his tzidakah, and by this congregant’s mood.

Another congregant had a similar experience. A big time macher (for real!) in his chosen profession, he was very useful, thanks to his professional savvy and attainments, in providing financial services to the schul (rabbi owned and run). He too was catapulted to real McCoy status. He was permitted to don the garb, married frum, and was ‘in’. He was no youngster, and up until just recently to that moment had lived a somewhat socially risqué life, according to his account. He crashed and burned, moved across the country, dumped the threads and frum wife, shaved off the beard, remarried a woman with an overtly un-Jewish sounding name, and changed his name - emes.

My personal experience with tzidakah arm twisting is similar, except I never took the veil, and have never been useful to any rabbi – or to anyone else – either professionally or financially.

So what’s up? Rabbi Without a Cause ( has a posting today titled ‘Rabbinic Government: Good Intentions, Bad Idea’. What can I say – I agree, but not as a chochom (I’m anything but), but as one who would fall under rabbinic jurisdiction should Rabbinic law ever become the ‘Law of the Land’ (dena d’malchutah dena). RWAC posits his usual erudite and academically well informed reasons for his opposition to rabbinic government over a secular society. My reasons are neither well informed nor reasoned. Mine are based exclusively on my personal experiences with the attempts of rabbis to function competently in the realm of authority and leadership. They’re good in and for schul. I have never encountered better ba’alei tzibur than the rabbis I’ve encountered. They are excellent teachers of Torah, both scriptural and Rabbinical (of course), and some for personal counseling (yechidus) What they don’t seem to do well is govern – they don’t appear to be well tuned to the secular world. I’m talking frum rabbis jadies and jents, not the secular rabbis of the Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist movements.

I’m pro-haredi for Israel. Israel’s government and society seem to have lost sight of the meaning of living Jewishly, but the frum crowd can’t govern. They just don’t know how. And here in America? America isn’t a Jewish country; we have no State religion, so there is no issue here. Replacement of Federal and State law here in America, applied exclusively to members of the Jewish community, would be disastrous. Judaism works when it’s voluntary. Coercion always leads to disaster.


Lirun said...

that is quite peculiar.. how ca nanyone but the nizkak own the tzdaka

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