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An interesting shabbos in Dallas

I got back to Dallas on Tuesday night, but like most people I waited until last minute to make shabbos plans. I was debating what to do, and decided to call the “cool” chabad Rabbi who deals with the younger crowd here in Dallas, he either didn’t understand the true purpose of my call, which was to mooch a meal at his house – mostly because he is one smart and cool fellow whom I wouldn’t mind schmoozing, or he chose to ignore my lonely plea for some sort of human interaction. I have noticed that the chabad folks in Dallas are not like the ones I am used to, I am used to fighting off their invitations to come over any time and in Dallas that has simply not been the case, in fact I haven’t actually received any true invites at all, even though I daven at chabad for weekday mincha and maariv almost every day of the week.

So I debated going back to Ohr Hatorah, the kiruv shul I spoke about when I first moved here, but I wanted to do something different. Even when visiting someone in a new community my goal is usually to daven in and see as much of the frum community as possible. I called up this one guy my age I had met and he said he was eating at this guy Josh’s house, however he didn’t think to mention that maybe I could eat there, I guess I am more about reading hints, being a perceptive fellow and all, I kind of got this little bout of loneliness because I had no idea who this Josh was and where exactly he lived anyway, I called my trusty roommate and he hooked it up, turned out that this Josh and me had a lot of friends in common who kept telling me to get in touch with this dude in the first place.

So I had my place for shabbos set up and the worst part about it was that I would have to sleep at my house because this dude lives up by me, its come to my understanding that most “normal” people would much rather stay in their own house and eat out then go away for shabbos, but I am the opposite, I am alone in my house all week – using the Jewish Blogesphere as a socializing point and would rather be with a family for shabbos. Luckily the meals all took up loads of time so I wasn’t sitting all by myself reading in a 5 bedroom house for hours until I went to bed.

I davened at chabad of north Dallas which is a beautiful building, and the chairs are those conference style chairs that they have in hotels whenever some corporate event that calls for business casual dress takes place, armrests in shul always score brownie points with me. Another score for the north Dallas chabad is their ability to make a real lively after lecha dodi Carlebach style circle dance. Most shuls that try and do this by pulling unwilling congregants into the circle do not succeed, they simply fail at trying to pose as lively Carlebach types, I can spot them a mile away, trying to pass off the frummy side to side wedding shuffle with sweaty hands placed on your back as a hopping Carlebach circle. Despite the dismal attendance at shul last night, everyone was into it and dancing, there were none of those party poopers, you know the type, they either pretend to be learning or they just refuse the casual advances of bearded fellows trying to pull them into the circle. I am guilty of this during weddings if there is any sort of food on the table, I am that one guy during the first dance eating soup.

After davening the entire Dallas singles community got together for a meal, there were 18 of us in total, not bad I though, two of the people present recently got married so I guess there were really only 16 of us. Still, I almost felt as if I were on the upper west side, except there was none of the shallow snobbery or conversation consisting solely of Jewish geography questions. It also wasn’t an academic meal like last weeks meal in Baltimore although I wished it would be. In Baltimore last week, I ate at an Academic meal as I would term it, a bunch of brainy, interesting and super left wing folks enjoying a vegetarian shabbos meal – those are my favorite kinds of meals actually, but Dallas isn’t very academic like the east, its more real you may say, not to say that academia isn’t real, but its more graduate college and get a job rather then reading Celan, smoking pot and wearing tweed jackets, oh never mind.

When I walked into the meal there was this kid who was unmistakably Brooklyn, he was spewing forth Brooklyn with his glasses short haircut and one of those really round black velvet yarmulkes that adds an inch to your height, when he answered that he lives in Galveston I was taken aback, I totally did not expect such an answer, don’t worry he is originally from Flatbush and after spending some time with his and his amazing personality I came to the conclusion that he was the only REAL hocker I have ever met. This kid works for homeland security, has a government vehicle, hotel room and gets to travel all around the world – when he gets back to Flatbush those guys buying out life insurance policies from old folks will have nothing on this kid, plus he was laughing his ass off at my humor which I am not sure many of the other people at the meal would have done.

I should give honorable mention to the host who is definitely one of the best hosts I have ever seen, this dude was serving people drinks the whole time, I think everyone besides me was getting wasted. I should probably do a little rant right about now concerning my lack of wanting to get drunk, I was recently discussing this with someone who told me that I am the first talented artist type he has met who doesn’t have a vice, my vice is wanderlust, but no I am not into drugs or alcohol and that works to my disadvantage I have discovered. You see alcohol is the activity of choice for most people my age – and since I do not drink – yes I like beer and white Russians (which aren’t kosher anymore) but I don’t really enjoy bars or clubs much, unless there is music or great people watching I tend to enjoy the more personal coffee shop or taking a walk. This in turn leads me to seem “anti social” which I am not, but it has forced me willingly to be more of a loner. People do wonder how someone as talkative and extroverted as me can be a loner and I cannot answer that but I can tell you that very few people go to concerts or movies alone and I am always impressed when I meet them.

The challah was phenomenal, there was this cinnamon challah which was dense and not fluffy at all – just the way I like it and there was this whole wheat challah which was undercooked and was heavy enough to kill someone if you pummeled them with pieces, and I enjoyed it immensely. Deli roll and rice with sun dried tomatoes were the two highlights of my meal, everything was good and I also thought of the following chidush: you can always tell a singles meal or chabad group meal by the fact that there is no white meat chicken – am I the only one under 30 who enjoys white meat chicken? Or is it simply cost prohibitive for large meals.

After the meal I wandered back over to chabad for this shalom zachor that someone had told me to stop by. I walked in to find a rabbi and 4 or 5 people sitting around some wasabi peas and half drank bottle of grey goose, it was classic, except it wasn’t one of those “lets sing vesamachta” ten times over and over again while banging our fists on the table and ignoring fallen bottles of seltzer and scattered nuts.

The Rabbi announced to my chagrin that I was some sort of world famous comedian/blogger and suddenly these 4 guys wanted me to rant, it was kind of embarrassing because as much as I like attention (what you think I don’t?) I don’t like when its forced, I kind of like keeping a low profile until I can find someone I really get along with – which is quite harder then you think – I find that with me its either you love me or hate me – some people are indifferent the classic “yeh he’s a nice guy” but most people will probably say something along the lines of “dude he is hilarious” or “that guy is such a shmuck” and I notice that with people my own age especially – I myself dont find many people that interesting – I like all people – but many of them bore me even though I can talk to them and be “somewhat entertained.

The rabbi who was there is a really interesting guy to talk to although we did have a philosophical disagreement about the purpose and choice of community – that will be a post later in the week. I did meet some very cool and interesting people at this shindig, mostly because I have a special affinity for self made business people who are doers, I myself hate the 9-5 corporate world, I cannot do it, and I am sitting all of these people from random industries who made it in their own way, and they were laughing at my jokes, it was a good time.

I couldn’t sleep Friday night, it was too warm in my house, probably because it was 80 degrees outside and the heat was set to 68, I opened up the windows and still it was a rough and sleepless night. I woke up late, on purpose, because lets face it me and shul don’t do well together- thanks to chabad starting later then regular people I made it on time for laining, I relished in this weeks parshah even though I read the wrong one – I find that unless you are a devoted shul attendee you really never know what parsha it is that week. I also started feeling the dread of having to deal with every parsha after the first few in sefer shemos, I absolutely hate everything later in the torah and always flip back to bereshis or learn prophets during laining.

Luckily for my shul attention deficit disorder, chabad has chairs outside a great parking lot to walk around and cool people to talk to, although their bulletin board kind of sucks. I wandered around and thought of what to write about, this is what occupies my mind, writing and how I am going to make enough money to eventually afford fresh basil instead of the dried kind, (I grow it in the summer months). I noticed a man wearing a Yechi yarmulke, I wanted to ask him if he believed that the Rebbe was moshiach, I didn’t but I really wanted to because he didn’t appear as if he realized what he was wearing.

One of my curses in life is that I am blunt, opinionated (rarely right) and I tend to offend people. In casual passing while talking to this other girl (who is probably the one of the few people at the meal who agreed with any of my remarks) I said that I felt Niveh – the girls BT school was a brainwashing institution, another girl who recently returned from a 10 month stint (not married to an ohr someyach guy) obviously disagreed, but she was pissed, you can tell I struck a soft spot. Of course one blow is never enough and I launched into a tirade backed by this one other girl who was an FFB who attended Niveh, about how Aish was of the militant kiruv breed convincing individuals to throw away all of their secular music, deny they ever did anything not kosher and become marketing experts for Aish on who they should send to Israel based on the most promising professions to bring them the most donations. I tried to back track and just offend everyone by acknowledging that all kiruv institutions have some sort of cult like agenda, which usually involves the Baal Teshuva fast track “from pork eater to violent shuckeling proselytizer in 3 months” or paying you to learn gemara during lunch so you can get a free trip to Israel where they espouse why chabad or insert other kiruv organization is doing evil. I wasn’t really trying to offend, I could have done that way easier, but she was pissed and I tried to bust out one of those “you know I’m full of it” but I didn’t mean to offend you – which she didn’t buy and it created one of those awkward situations that made me want to dump the crock pot down the front of her shirt – except it was one of those shirts that didn’t allow any sort of access through the front.

It was a fun shabbos, and although everyone besides for the girl that was brainwashed by niveh to get offended when people bash their school (ever hear the Beach Boys song- be true to your school?) I had a good time, I should mention that people in Texas bash the usage of chrain, which meant my fish went without its red succulence, but the guacamole was quite good.

Click on these other similar posts:

My first shabbos in Dallas

Shabbos in Monsey

Guide to saying good shabbos

Shabbos with my relatives in Monsey

{ 51 comments… add one }
  • TRS December 27, 2008, 10:06 PM


  • veebee December 27, 2008, 11:33 PM

    Have you ever spent a shabbat in Silver Spring?

  • april December 27, 2008, 11:48 PM

    Go easy on the commas, buddy.

  • shevers December 27, 2008, 11:57 PM

    You’re in it for the upcoming Kollel/Chabad fight?

  • TRS December 27, 2008, 11:58 PM

    Oh baby, am I ready!

  • Frum Satire December 28, 2008, 12:02 AM

    Haha – I am trying to stay away from politics for now because its too much – its all cheery here until you realize that no one talks to each other.

  • shevers December 28, 2008, 12:04 AM

    TRS, you are very predictable. Hate to break it to you. 😉

  • shevers December 28, 2008, 12:04 AM

    Eww that wink looked sleazy.

  • TRS December 28, 2008, 12:05 AM

    Hesh: What do you mean no one talks to each other?

    Shevers: Someone has to do it.

  • JMB December 28, 2008, 1:51 AM

    Hey Hesh – are you going to write a post about your Shabbos in Baltimore? I live here, and would love to hear your take on the city.

  • Phil December 28, 2008, 12:46 PM


    Part of what I hated about living in Dallas was the anymosity between the kollel and Chabad. Instead of joining forces for the same cause, they’re fighting “outreach turfs wars”. Even the Chabad guys have their own turf war, then their was Ohr hatorah vs Sharei which might or might not still be going on.

    As much as I managed to stay out of it because I wasn’t directly affected, I heard about it any time I went to any of these places or met up with any of their congregants. Then people wonder why Mashiach isn’t here yet (according to the non yechi world).

    Re: the Baltimore thing, even the poorest of Jews throughout history saved up a few pennies to have meat for Shabbos, what kind of “fruitcakes” have a vegetarian Shabbos?

  • Frum Satire December 28, 2008, 8:04 PM

    JMB I have written about a Baltimore a slew of times. And Phil they were hippie left winger types – my type of folks.

    I love it – outreach turf wars

  • TRS December 28, 2008, 8:05 PM

    If I don’t get involved in this, do I win a prize?

  • Gila December 29, 2008, 10:25 AM

    “Re: the Baltimore thing, even the poorest of Jews throughout history saved up a few pennies to have meat for Shabbos, what kind of ‘fruitcakes’ have a vegetarian Shabbos?”

    Hmm, let’s think. Maybe…vegetarians?

    (I’m a vegetarian who lives in Baltimore, so this hit close to home. Yes, yes, I know, “ein simcha bli basar v’yayin,” but R’ Schneur Zalman of Liadi explains that the point is to get oneg from food and drink. He says that Rambam only mentions meat and wine because they are common sources of oneg for most people, but nevertheless, everyone should follow this subjectively and eat whatever food and drink they happen to enjoy.)

  • Gila December 29, 2008, 10:29 AM

    Forgot to add this:

    Also, in any case there is no halachic obligation of simcha on Shabbos as there is on Yom Tov, so a meatless Shabbos is far less “problematic” than a meatless Yom Tov. However, as seen by the above source, even then vegetarians need not worry.

  • Phil December 29, 2008, 10:38 AM

    I have no problem with anyone abstaining from meat, chicken, fish or eggs if they find the taste repulsive or if their bodies can’t handle it.

    What I do have a problem with are peta type people who feel that they are more “humane” than others and deprive themselves from eating other creatures, then preach to other to do the same. This is against halacha, as God specifically commanded us regarding the laws of shechita, korbanot, etc.

    What did vegetarians do when they had to offer Korban Pesach? Do you think they offered salad?

    Besides, what makes salad any less alive than a turkey, both grow and need oxygen to survive?

  • Texgator December 29, 2008, 10:44 AM

    The Shaare Tefila and Ohr turf war has pretty much settled down at this point, from what I understand. I’m sure there is some leftover resentment amongst some, but I believe most just accept it as the new reality and have moved on.

    The outreach turf war, however, continues unabated. As one who has a strong relationship with both sides, I can tell you that with surety. It’s too bad…if all the energy that goes into countering each others’ efforts was combined for pure Kiruv, Dallas would have thousands of frum families….not dozens.

  • TRS December 29, 2008, 10:49 AM

    Friction leads to heat. Without heat everything is cold. Without competition no one has any incentive to get better.

    Of course, the Friedriker Rebbe did say that Lubavitch is not interested in politics, and that we’re not interested in fighting people. The main thing is to bring people back to their father in heaven. The more people doing this the better.

  • Texgator December 29, 2008, 11:01 AM

    There is plenty of “friction” and “competition” in the guise of the secular world and other faiths. As Jews we don’t need to create more internally.

  • TRS December 29, 2008, 11:21 AM

    Have you ever been to a community which is dominated by Chabad or any other “Kiruv” org? It’s usually dead as a doorknob. You need a little excitement to keep things moving.

  • Texgator December 29, 2008, 11:29 AM

    So I suppose you’ve been in such a community, seen a Kiruv “competitor” come to town and completely change the scene? I’m guessing any city that isn’t big enough to attract two competent Kiruv organizations is “dead” because of lack of numbers and lack of the proper infrastructure to support more than just a few BTs.

  • TRS December 29, 2008, 11:31 AM

    I have definitely seen this. In my own community Lubavitch had gotten lazy and stopped working hard; once a Kollel and Aish moved into town we revved up the old engine and began doing our job again.
    Why are you allowed to open competition to a Yeshiva in a town?

  • Texgator December 29, 2008, 11:31 AM

    In addition, when I think of the Shluchim in the far flung reaches of the Jewish world who are the only Orthodox presence for hundreds of miles….I can’t imagine they are any less motivated or energinzed. Quite the opposite. I think of the Holzbergs, and I don’t think they had any Kiruv comeptition in Mumbai, and I don’t know anyone who would question their commitment, passion and determination.

  • Texgator December 29, 2008, 11:33 AM

    Is it possible that your personal experience with a “lazy Lubavitch” community was simply an anamoly?

  • Texgator December 29, 2008, 11:33 AM

    Why would you be forbidden to open a competiting Yeshiva?

  • Phil December 29, 2008, 11:35 AM


    We can all do without the “excitement” of baseless hate between Jews, especially when they are the rabbis in charge of the community. How do you think all their congregants and BT’s feel when they see the guys that are supposed to be the epitome of what’s right acting like babies?

    You want intelectual excitement, sit down with a gemara, you’ll quickly see what arguments for the right reasons are supposed to look like.

    You want emotional excitment, go live in Sderot.

  • Texgator December 29, 2008, 11:39 AM

    If you are telling me that the only way to stay motivated in Kiruv is to have a competitor, then maybe you shouldn’t be in the Kiruv business.

  • TRS December 29, 2008, 11:41 AM

    Texgator: you ever been by a shliach who has been out there for thirty years? There’s a thing called complacency, and it happens to the best of us.
    The reason you would theoretically not be allowed to open a yeshiva is because you’re taking parnass from another Jew! This is a serious halachic issue. The reason you’re allowed to is because kinas sofrim is a very good thing.
    Phil: I’m not getting what you’re saying.

  • Phil December 29, 2008, 11:43 AM


    I can totally relate to your situation. I was one of 3 frum Jews living in Plano in the late 90s, back when Rabbi Block was the only show in town and running the shul from his garage. We were very close, as he is an Ex Canadian and attended the same yeshiva I did. The other was a BT yechi guy who became one of my drinking buddies. He has since moved to Crown Heights.

    My brother in law down in Dallas was a Sharei member at the time back nefore Ohr Torah existed. He was just getting married to my sister in law, they wedding was co – officiated by Rabbi’s Block, Dubrawski and Fried. You can imagine the fireworkds arounf the Shabbos table as all were embroiled in some sort of issue or another.

    To his credit, the only one the didn’t get involved in this much to my knowledge is Rabbi Rodin from Ohev Shalom. He was there before all these guys, he’s survived them all and flourished to open his yeshiva, truly something I never would have thought possible 10 years ago.

  • Phil December 29, 2008, 11:50 AM


    The gemara clearly states that that opening more yeshivas is good because of the “competition” it creates for Torah.

    The mishna states that increasing yeshivas increases wisdom.

    Any turf wars fought in the name of kiruv a sadly all about money. When there are limited donors and the rabbis are relying on their donation to feed their kids and pay their mortgages, each BT (especially a rich one) becomes a “customer” in addition to being a BT. When one rabbi steps on another’s toes and “steals” this “customer” or some of the money he represents, you get what has been going on ever since those rabbis landed in Dallas 15-20 years ago.

  • s(b.) December 29, 2008, 11:04 PM

    shevers, you’re not sleazy. you’re maternal and well-intentioned, and two points for busting TRS for being predictable. 😆

  • s(b.) December 29, 2008, 11:09 PM

    TRS wrote: The more people doing this the better.
    The local music promoter who has this attitude’s shows and venue are flourishing. ((menschlichkeit))

  • shevers December 29, 2008, 11:47 PM

    Oish, not sure how I should take being called maternal and well-intentioned.

    Also, only two points? This is a disgrace!

  • s(b.) December 30, 2008, 4:27 AM

    what do I know, anyway? 😆

  • Gila December 30, 2008, 4:34 AM

    Phil, you’ve raised several questions here and (with apologies for diverting the thread of discussion with this long post) I’ll attempt to answer them by quoting Dr. Richard Schwartz, who seems to be the foremost authority in the Jewish vegetarian world. (I highly recommend his book Judaism and Vegetarianism.) The following quotes are taken from Dr. Schwartz’s responses to a list of myths that Jews tend to believe about vegetarianism.

    You wrote: “What I do have a problem with are peta type people…”
    Dr. Schwartz says: “Jews should consider switching to vegetarianism not because of the views of animal rights groups, whether they are hostile to Judaism or not, but because it is the diet most consistent with Jewish teachings. It is the Torah, not animal rights groups, which is the basis for observing how far current animal treatment has strayed from fundamental Jewish values. As Samson Raphael Hirsh stated: ‘Here you are faced with God’s teaching, which obliges you not only to refrain from inflicting unnecessary pain on any animal, but to help and, when you can, to lessen the pain whenever you see an animal suffering, even through no fault of yours.’ ”

    You wrote: “…who feel that they are more ‘humane’ than others and deprive themselves from eating other creatures, then preach to other [sic] to do the same.”
    Dr. Schwartz says: “Can eating meat be pleasurable to a sensitive person when he or she knows that, as a result, their health is endangered, grain is wasted, the environment is damaged, and animals are being cruelly treated? One can indulge in pleasure without doing harm to living creatures. There are many other cases in Judaism where actions that people may consider pleasurable are forbidden or discouraged- such as the use of tobacco, drinking liquor to excess, having sexual relations out of wedlock, and hunting.”

    You wrote: “This is against halacha, as God specifically commanded us regarding the laws of shechita…”
    Dr. Schwartz says: “This ignores the cruel treatment of animals on ‘factory farms’ in the many months prior to slaughter. Can we ignore the force-feeding of huge amounts of grain to ducks and geese to produce foie gras, the removal of calves from their mothers shortly after birth to raise them for veal, the killing of over 250 million male chicks immediately after birth at egg-laying hatcheries in the U.S. annually, the placing of hens in cages so small that they can’t raise even one wing, and the many other horrors of modern factory farming?”

    You wrote: “What did vegetarians do when they had to offer Korban Pesach?”
    Dr. Schwartz says: “The great Jewish philosopher Maimonides believed that God permitted sacrifices as a concession to the common mode of worship in Biblical times. It was felt that had Moses not instituted the sacrifices, his mission would have failed and Judaism might have disappeared. The Jewish philosopher Abarbanel reinforced Maimonides’ position by citing a midrash (Rabbinic teaching) that indicates God tolerated the sacrifices because the Israelites had become accustomed to sacrifices in Egypt, but that He commanded they be offered in one central sanctuary in order to wean the Jews from idolatrous practices.”

    Your last question is the easiest to answer: “Besides, what makes salad any less alive than a turkey?”
    I’ll direct you straight to Bereshit for that one. Notice in the creation narrative that only animals and humans are described by the epithet “nefesh chayah”, not plants. This underlines the basic difference between animals and plants. Animals have nervous systems and can feel pain and suffering. Plants have no such capacity.

  • Gila December 30, 2008, 8:04 AM

    Why wasn’t my comment posted?

  • Frum Satire December 30, 2008, 11:33 AM

    Sometimes comments go to spam for unknown reasons its up now

  • Phil December 30, 2008, 12:31 PM


    I never heard of Dr. Schwartz and after reading his quotes I definitely don’t accept him as a halachic authority.

    I remind you that eating the korbanot, especially korban Pesach was part of the ritual.

    Torah gave us superioty over animals and specifically commanded us regarding how to kill them in the most humane way. When it comes to fish, they don’t even fall into that category. Furthermore, people are allowed to hunt animals even for the skin or fur.

    We have no moral or halachic obligation to refrain from eating or even killing animals that we are going to use. Some Rabbis in the talmud wouldn’t live in a particular town unless they were sure to have fish for Shabbos. Others such a R. Chiya hunted deer to make parchment
    for scrolls. Our tfillin, mezuzos and Torahs are made from animals.

    I suppose in yours or Dr Schwartzes world, we should be using birch bark instead of parchment or tofu (kitniyot) for korban pesach .

    Before telling others what they should or shouldn’t do base on his view, I suggest “Dr. Schwartz” becomes “Rabbi Schwartz”, maybe he’ll have more credibility or realize the error of his “holier than thou / bleeding heart liberal” views.

  • Gila December 30, 2008, 2:01 PM

    “I remind you that eating the korbanot, especially korban Pesach was part of the ritual.”

    Certainly it was; I don’t dispute you on that. However, if you read my above post in full you ought to have noticed that Dr. Schwartz brought support from both Rambam and Abarbanel as to why the sacrifices were instituted. It is not his own opinion that he made up, so I don’t see why you object to his lack of smicha. Furthermore, although korban Pesach was part of the ritual, it is very likely that it will not be in the future. R’ Kook wrote that when Mashiach comes, we will sacrifice vegetation rather than animals. (I guess you were right about the salad, then!) He based this view on the passage from Yeshayahu suggesting that humans and animals will all be vegetarian once Mashiach comes.

    *So, logically, it seems that every Jew who becomes a vegetarian is bringing us closer to the days of Mashiach!

    Maybe you don’t accept Dr. Schwartz as a halachic authority, but I should hope you’ll accept R’ Kook as one! He also noted that when Hashem created the world, nobody ate meat. This was the ideal; humans were later permitted to eat animal flesh only out of concern that, if deprived of meat, they would turn to cannibalism. “It is inconceivable that the Creator who had planned a world of harmony and a perfect way for man to live should, many thousands of years later, find that this plan was wrong,” R’ Kook wrote.

    I’ll give you another source. This is from Solomon Efraim Lunschitz, the author of the Kli Yakar:

    “What was the necessity for the entire procedure of ritual slaughter? For the sake of self-discipline. It is far more appropriate for man not to eat meat; only if he has a strong desire for meat does the Torah permit it, and even this only after the trouble and inconvenience necessary to satisfy his desire. Perhaps because of the bother and annoyance of the whole procedure, he will be restrained from such a strong and uncontrollable desire for meat.”

    I don’t know why you hold such a negative view of Dr. Schwartz specifically “after reading his quotes.” What was it, other than his title, that lowered his credibility in your eyes? In the meantime, I’ll give you another quote from him to answer your question about tefillin, mezuzot and Sifrei Torah.

    “The number of animals slaughtered for these purposes is minute compared to the billions of animals killed annually for food. The fact that there would still be some animals slaughtered to meet Jewish ritual needs shouldn’t stop us from doing all we can to end the horrible abuses of factory farming. Also, most problems related to animal-centered diets- poor human health, waste of food and other resources, and ecological threats- would not occur if animals were slaughtered only to meet Jewish ritual needs. Our emphasis should be on doing a minimum amount of harm to other people, the environment, and animals. In addition, for hiddur (enhancement of) mitzvah, it would be better if ritual objects were made from animals who at least led cruelty-free lives. Also, tefillin can be made from the leather of animals that were raised without cruelty and died a natural death.”

    If you read Dr. Schwartz’s book, you will see that his writing does not in any way reflect a “holier than thou” attitude. You seem to be under the impression that vegetarians who do not eat meat on principle are all stuck-up people who try to preach to and impose their views upon others. Perhaps you once encountered some PETA representatives; if so, I am sorry. They give the rest of us a bad name.

    Heshy, I used HTML coding in my previous post for italics and in this post for bolding. Could that be why it didn’t go up before? If so, please let me know and I’ll stop using the coding.

  • Phil December 30, 2008, 2:35 PM


    I have nothing personal against Dr. Schwartz, but I feel he should stick to whatever field he got his docorate in (obviously not halacha). He seems to be more aggravated at the conditions the animals a farmed in, rather than the actual consumption of animals.

    As to Rav Kook’s statement about the times of mashiach, no one knows for sure, but it does seem from scripture and parts of davening that we will be back to korbanot and I very highly doubt they will be made up of salad ingredients.

    As for the Kli Yakar about slaughter, how would he apply that answer to fish, which doesn’t need ritual slaughter?

    What about kapparot? Yes I know some people use money, the siddur specifically reads “zeh hatarnegol” not “Zeh Hakesef”, implying that the ideal is a chicken, Futhermore, it’s a mitzvah tp should watch it being slaughtered and cover the blood.

    In regards to p.e.t.a. (people eating tasty animals?) , they are to worst of hypocrites I ever encountered. From their “fish have feelings” to there trying to destroy our yearly Canadian seal hunt, to there biased coverage of the now closed Agri processors plant, I’m fed up with their incessant crying for animal rights.

    What about the millions of farmers, butchers, hunters, trappers, furriers and fishermen that rely on people eating animals for their livings? What about grocers, food distibutors and supermarkets? What about all the people that enjoy eating animals? What gives these few freaks moral superiority?

    They should ship these peta people off to Somalia for a few years, then we’ll see how they truly feel about not eating animals. Or better yet, maybe send them to the Arctic and see how well they manage to grow there own food and clothing up there.

  • Gila December 30, 2008, 3:35 PM


    True, Dr. Schwartz’s main issue with eating meat is the cruel treatment of animals raised for slaughter. You can see from his quote about using animals who died of natural causes for tefillin that it is not the use of dead animals per se that troubles him, but the conditions leading up to that use. If, hypothetically, slaughterhouses underwent major reform, it’s possible that a great deal of vegetarians would return to eating meat. But, unless and until that happens, we will continue to protest. If I’ve read your comment correctly, you seem to be rejecting this viewpoint out of hand. Is it not in direct correlation with the Torah injunction of tsa’ar baalei chayim?

    For a detailed answer to your question about fish, see this website: http://www.jewishveg.com/faq27.html

    Re kapparot, that’s minhag, not halacha. It is albeit a minhag that is so widely accepted as to be commonly (and mistakenly) misconstrued as halacha, but it is nevertheless a minhag. Another practice that falls into this category is men wearing kippot.

    Yes, I’m with you on PETA (though I don’t think I would have made the point quite as emphatically as you did). No need to preach to the choir.

    Here’s what Dr. Schwartz says about butchers etc. making a living:

    “There could be a shift from the production of animal products to that of nutritious vegetarian dishes. In England during World War II, when there was a shortage of meat, butchers relied mainly on the sale of fruits and vegetables. Today, new businesses could sell tofu, miso, falafel, soy burgers, and vegetarian cholent. Besides, the shift toward vegetarianism will be gradual, providing time for a transition to other jobs. The same kind of question can be asked about other moral issues. What would happen to arms merchants if we had universal peace? What would happen to some doctors and nurses if people took better care of themselves, stopped smoking, improved their diets, and so on? Immoral or inefficient practices should not be supported because some people earn a living in the process.”

    And, in response to your question about “all the people that enjoy eating animals”:

    “If one is solely motivated by what will bring pleasure, perhaps no answer to this question would be acceptable. But Judaism wishes us to be motivated by far more: doing mitzvot, performing good deeds and acts of charity, sanctifying ourselves in the realm of the permissible, helping to feed the hungry, pursuing justice and peace, etc. Even if one is primarily motivated by considerations of pleasure and convenience, the negative health effects of animal-centered diets should be taken into account. One cannot enjoy life when one is not in good health.”

    By the way, do you have some kind of personal vendetta against salad? You seem to mention it a lot. (In doing so, you also convey a belief that vegetarians eat like rabbits. We don’t. I never ate salad for the first five years after going veg. I now live in E”Y where the produce is fresher than I have ever tasted and the salads are amazing, but I hardly ate salad at all when I was in the US.)

  • Phil December 31, 2008, 12:19 PM


    The rant about peta included the fact that they are the ones targeting butchers, furriers, etc. The link about fish that you sent to me seems very similar to what peta has to say about fishing.

    Bottom line is that as a religious Jew following the mainstream minhagim, meat and fish are, and always have been part of our diet, especially when it came to holidays. Avraham served the angels lamb, Yaakov served Yitzchak lamb after Yitzchak requested Eisav get him some venison. Furthermore, the talmud in many places as well as Tanya and Shulchan Aruch mention eating meat on Shabbat and Yom Tov as a source of joy.

    I have nothing against salad, fruits, nuts or vegetables. In fact, I probably eat more nuts than many people as my family own a nut roasting plant.

    All of the above are part of a healthy diet, no matter what anyone will say. Eating steak every once in a while is beneficial, so is fish, chicken, eggs and milk. Anyone that tells you otherwise is simply lying to you to further their cause. Why else do vegetarians need to eat all types of supplements and vitamins, if not to replace what they can’t get from animal sources?

    I’m not trying to convert you, no do I particularily care if you choose no to consume animals. I feel sorry for your Shabbat guests and/or family if they are also being deprived because of your views.

    One more thing: A growing number of produce is genetically modified today, many fruits and vegetables have their genes spliced with those of animals. Although this hasn’t caused any halachic issues to date, you are probably awar that unless you stick to organic only, you are very likely ingesting animal genes.

  • Gila December 31, 2008, 2:31 PM

    Phil, I wouldn’t know what PETA has to say about fishing, butchers, etc. I don’t keep up with what they do. I do, however, believe in their stated cause, which is bettering and extending the lives of animals in this world. This doesn’t mean that I think their motivations are pure, nor that they’re going about this cause in the right way. What it does mean is that ideologically, I probably have a lot in common with the average PETA member in the sense that neither of us would eat fish or meat, wear fur, or go to the zoo.

    Of course the patriarchs ate meat. They lived in an omnivorous society. Even thirty years ago, it was not socially acceptable to be vegetarian. I’m not old enough to remember, but my mom has told me that vegetarians were looked at as weird. So what do you expect from a couple of thousand years ago?

    I addressed the issue of meat and simcha in my very first post. If you’re still not convinced, check Pesachim 109a and Bava Batra 60b for R’ Yehudah ben Beteira’s and R’ Yishmael’s respective opinions on the matter.

    Vegetarians do not “need to eat all types of supplements and vitamins”. I’ve been a vegetarian for about eight years without taking any. I did try a multivitamin for a while- notice that’s only one pill, not “all types”- but it made no difference whatsoever in my health, so I stopped taking it. I’m sorry if you think that countless doctors and researchers are lying just to further a cause, but believe it or not, Richard Schwartz is not the only respectable advocate of vegetarianism. I happen to be a fan of his since he’s the only well-known spokesman for vegetarianism who also happens to be an Orthodox Jew, but there are plenty of non-Jewish and non-observant health professionals who concur with his findings. Unless you’re prepared to declare an all-out conspiracy, you’re going to have a tough time finding support for the contention that steak is healthy.

    Here’s just one source of the many I could provide you. This is from the website of the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine (www.pcrm.org):

    “Some people still worry about whether a vegetarian diet can provide all essential nutrients. However, it is very easy to have a well-balanced diet with vegetarian foods, since these foods provide plenty of protein. Careful combining of foods is not necessary. Any normal variety of plant foods provides plenty of protein for the body’s needs. Although there is somewhat less protein in a vegetarian diet than a meat-eater’s diet, this is actually an advantage. Excess protein has been linked to kidney stones, osteoporosis, and possibly heart disease and some cancers. A diet focused on beans, whole grains, and vegetables contains adequate amounts of protein without the ‘overdose’ most meat-eaters get. Calcium is easy to find in a vegetarian diet. Many dark green leafy vegetables and beans are loaded with calcium, and some orange juices, non-dairy ‘milks’, and cereals are calcium-fortified. Iron is plentiful in whole grains, beans, and fruits.”

    I’m away from home and not cooking for myself at the moment, so Shabbat guests are nonexistent, and my family is free to cook what they want. However, my mother (who’s not a vegetarian) has told me that she hasn’t cooked any meat since I’ve been gone, and she likes it that way- it gives her a heavy feeling and it’s just a pain to deal with switching dishes. I do object to your use of the word “also”. I don’t feel deprived, nor have I ever in the past eight years. Sure, I remember the taste of meat, and I liked it, but it’s not worth it to me with all of the considerations that led to me making this decision in the first place. Far from feeling deprived, I actually feel freer than I ever was before because I’m no longer a slave to my desire for flesh. When I come back home in June, I will be cooking again for my family and Shabbat guests. People like you who would feel deprived don’t have to eat at my Shabbat table- we make sure that anyone we invite knows that we cook vegetarian meals. And if my mom decides that she does miss the meat, she can cook it herself. So can my brother. So I really don’t see why you are feeling sorry for any of them.

    It’s fairly easy to pick out genetically modified produce at the grocery store. The stickers on produce are stamped with a PLU, price lookup code. Usually, the code will be four digits long. However, if the product is genetically modified, it will have a fifth digit- an initial number 8. And, if the product is organic, it will also have a fifth digit- an initial number 9. The latter is not usually necessary because organic produce tends to be marketed as such, but the former is good to know in order to spot GM produce masquerading as ordinary produce. In any case, genetically modified produce is not always modified with animal genes. (Granted, there are a few notable examples out there, like the cold tolerance gene found in many species of fish.) Many times, it’s sufficient to take genes from other plants or even bacteria. However, I do try to stick to organic where possible. My mother is not wild about the extra expense, so I can’t buy everything organic (bet she hasn’t bought much organic stuff since I’ve been gone!) but when I’m living on my own and have decent cooking facilities, I plan to run a completely organic household.

  • Phil December 31, 2008, 5:59 PM

    Humans were created as omnivores, that’s good enough for me. I find no need to restrict my diet further than halacha already does. I take pride in my steaks, enjoy my meat on Shabbat, wear leather shoes, felt hat made from rabbit fur, etc.

    You obviously feel very differently than I do about things. Will you enforce your strict code and views on your husband and kids too?
    What if he’s a chassid, will you ask him to wear a cotton or hemp shtreimel?

  • Gila January 2, 2009, 6:03 AM

    “Humans were created as omnivores”- No we weren’t! I already pointed out that Adam and Chava were initially vegetarian. If you mean biologically speaking, I would contend that since Hashem’s initial plan for the world did not involve the consumption of animal flesh by humans or animals, all creatures were biologically suited for vegetarian diets and later evolved to develop the sharp incisors we use to eat meat.

    Yes, clearly I do feel differently than you do about “things”, as you put it, or else we wouldn’t be having this discussion! I don’t know what you mean by a “code”, and I don’t think that my views and lifestyle are in any way “strict”, but no, I don’t plan to “enforce” them on my future husband. My ideological beliefs are my own, so of course I wouldn’t expect him to take them on when we get married. Life would be a lot simpler if I married a vegetarian, of course, but I’m not going to let that stand in the way if I happen to fall in love with a meat-eater. However, I will expect him to understand that raw animal meat has a visceral and emotional effect on me. Therefore, he is free to eat as much meat as he wants, but he will have to shop for and cook it himself. As for children, I plan to raise them vegetarian until they are old enough to make mature decisions. I do see some parents feeding chicken to their toddlers, but that won’t be me. It’s very clear from medical research that vegetarian diets, if balanced properly, are far superior to omnivorous diets. So I will feed my children vegetarian food for the sake of their own health, not because I seek to raise little copies of myself. I don’t think you would label it “enforcing a strict code” if I told you I wasn’t going to let my children have gum or taffy, so why should this be any different?

    I think it highly unlikely that I will marry a chassid. My religious lifestyle is much too liberal for that. However, if it happens, he will be free to wear whatever he wants. I would never dream of standing in the way of my husband’s personal freedoms.

  • Phil January 2, 2009, 10:11 AM


    Good luck finding someone with the same beliefs.

    As a father of 6, I don’t think it’s too healthy to try to ban all junk food on top of enforcing a vegetarian diet on your future kids. As kids, they will be social outcasts when it comes to their friends B day parties and other similar social events, at school, shul etc. They will very likely resent what will be imposed on them when their friends are enjoying pizza, hot dogs, ice cream, candy and cake. I truly belive the emotional damage done to kids by being an outcast is far worse than the “harm” caused to a few chickens. Remember that kids are cruel and not as understanding / tolerant as adults. Any excuse you give them by forcing your kids to be different than anyone else in their setting is very likely to backfire.

    That being said, my kids very rarely eat any junk during the week, unless they are at a party. Shabbat is the one day they get candy and soda, makes it kind of “special” to them.

  • Gila January 5, 2009, 9:42 AM

    Phil, I think you misunderstood me. I am in no way planning on banning all junk food for my children and am in total agreement with you that that would be excessively restrictive. I simply brought the junk food as an example to show you that parents can reasonably enforce certain diets on their children. Like you, I don’t intend to allow my children to have candy and soda whenever they feel like it, but as an occasional treat it is okay. However, they will not eat any meat or fish whatsoever, at least during early childhood. I know plenty of men who are vegetarian, so if it comes to that, I don’t think it will be too difficult to find a guy who is vegetarian and also wants to raise vegetarian children. But, as I said, I’m perfectly open to marrying a meat-eater. This may be one of those issues on which one of us will have to compromise. If so, we’ll talk it over and come to a decision together. Believe it or not, I’m willing to make sacrifices for the sake of shalom bayit. As long as my husband doesn’t try to convert me, the issue of what to feed the children can be open. These are just my thoughts on what I would ideally like to do, but realistically, it could change depending on whom I marry.

    Re social problems, I don’t think that’s anything to worry about. I grew up attending a Modern Orthodox Jewish day school which is also a community school, meaning that only about 20% of the students are Shomer Shabbos and Shomer kashrut. In elementary school, I attended a good number of birthday parties of friends who did not keep kosher, so I couldn’t eat the cake, pizza and whatever else they served. When I got to middle school, I started attending Bar and Bat Mitzvahs that were not kosher. The invitations actually had a little box to check off if you needed a kosher meal. Sure, it was slightly uncomfortable to be picking at what was basically a kosher TV dinner while many of my friends ate fancy, gourmet nonkosher meals, but I wasn’t bullied or alienated because of it, and I didn’t feel left out, either. I don’t doubt that the cruelty you speak of exists, but I would imagine that it is practiced mainly by kids who would be cruel nonetheless. If my kids encounter this type of kid, I imagine that he or she will find a way to torture them regardless of whether or not they are vegetarian. Hopefully, it’s not something I’ll have to deal with, but I don’t think my kids’ diets will really make a difference in the matter.

  • Phil January 5, 2009, 10:04 AM

    Maybe more vegeterians exist than I figured, I personally don’t know any. The one guy I do know that keeps to a very strict of herbal supplements and carrot juice is still unmarried and he’s over 40. I don’t know if it has anything to do with his diet, but my hunch is that it doesn’t help. He is a great guy that works in the health care field, maybe him being so finicky about health is hurting him…

  • Gila January 6, 2009, 4:59 AM

    Herbal supplements and carrot juice? Goodness…I think your hunch is correct. I don’t think I would want to date someone who didn’t eat actual food.

    We probably travel in very different social circles, and that would explain why you don’t know any vegetarians. I do know many, since once you have that commonality it is easier to build a friendship. Granted, women are more likely to be vegetarian than men, so I know more female vegetarians, but I can still think of at least five male vegetarians whom I know. (And that’s just off the top of my head- I’m sure I know a few more who just aren’t coming to me right now.) Anyway, they’re out there. I can see why, if you had this idea that we were a rare breed, you would think it difficult for me to find a husband, but I’m not concerned.

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