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Bans are like Terror Alerts – no one really cares

I remember the days right after 9-11, I was honestly excited that the world was going to come to an end or be forever changed, unfortunately the only thing that proceeded 9-11 was high gun sales and even higher gas prices. We did get some new things of course, most memorable, The Patriot Act and the official terror alert thing which seemed to be stuck at orange or red.

I remember when we would have Fox News or CNN on at work and how excited we got when they raised the terror alert level, we all wanted to world to come to an end, or least drastically change and a terror alert being raised from orange to a reddish orange must mean something was up. Eventually the years passed and no one noticed that there was still this terror alert thing. Once in a while at the airport I would notice the familiar monotone robotic female voice say that the Homeland Security Terror Alert was at orange, it never seemed to go up or down and after a while I wondered if anyone cared.

In the 4 1/2 years that I have been writing this blog I have picked up on the many things that the Rabbis (when I say The Rabbis, I refer to whichever group of rabbis was convinced by others to ban something) have decided to ban, things like vacationing in Miami Beach, going to the Lipa concert at Madison Square Garden and buying wigs from that store on Coney Island Avenue across from Chaim Berlin.

Through the years, I have come to realize that no one cares if something was banned, in fact bans probably undermine the power that the rabbis had in the first place – if they would have stuck to real paskening and real decision making maybe people would have listened, but when you start telling people that you cannot attend a concert or wear a certian wig brand, it seems to be getting a bit personal.

Rabbinical Bans, like terror alerts, seem to have become something that is made fun of – but rarely listened to. Seems like the only thing that Bans do, are to provide me with material and give other folks more excuses why to tell loshon horah about the rabbis who ban things.

Although, one could make the argument that bans are good for business. If this blog were banned in a similar fashion to the way Vos Iz Neias was banned, I would be famous and cool, it would also create some good traffic for me. So How do I get my site banned? Cherem would kind of suck, but having a website banned is cool!

{ 42 comments… add one }
  • S.H. January 5, 2011, 7:22 AM

    People take terror alerts a lot more seriously than the bans. I can trace my completely losing respect for the bans to the Slifkin ban followed by the forcing of Rabbi Y. Reinman to ban his own book (One People, Two Worlds). By the time they got around to banning concerts, wigs, Miami and Shabbos elevators, it was in one ear and out the other.

  • A. Nuran January 5, 2011, 7:35 AM

    Terror alerts and bans are pretty much the same thing. They aren’t about what they are supposed to be about. They are about keeping people agitated, nervous about their vulnerability and willing to obey slavishly and without thought.

    • Mahla January 5, 2011, 7:44 AM


      • Avrumy January 5, 2011, 10:14 AM

        I would like to comment on this, but my rabbi has forbidden me to do so…

        • Heshy Fried January 5, 2011, 11:04 PM

          I’m not nervous – Bush’s patriot act makes me feel so safe

  • Telz Angel January 5, 2011, 8:01 AM

    Heshy, if it makes you feel better — I ban your blog. Ban Ban Ban. Assur Assur Assur. Shanda Shanda Shanda.

    Let’s see if this helps.
    Telz Angel

    • Yochanan January 5, 2011, 8:13 AM

      I hope you’re doing the finger wag.

      • Shrink January 5, 2011, 11:45 AM

        Is the finger wag the frum version of the black womans head bop from side to side, “no you tdi dint”

    • A. Nuran January 5, 2011, 12:02 PM

      I won’t believe you’re serious about the ban until you slap badly-printed Yiddish broadsheets of your ban all over Five Towns and Brooklyn.

    • Mahla January 5, 2011, 7:50 PM


      • ghottistyx January 6, 2011, 3:38 PM

        Let’s see if we can get a fatwa on this site. If I’m not mistaken, Ayatollah Khomeini never read Satanic Verses before putting the fatwa on Rushdie. Sounds an awful lot like the Slifkin ban, except no one wants Slifkin dead (yet).

        • Mahla January 6, 2011, 5:32 PM


          Perhaps Frum Satire will be the first site in the history of the Internet to be put under both fatwa and cherem. ;^D

  • thinkingbochur January 5, 2011, 8:48 AM

    First of all notice how the terror alert always went up before an election or when Bush’s ratings went down. Second of all, the ban of the book , making of a gadol, really did something, I mean I challenge you to find the first edition of the book. I recently got a copy but that was after some work, and a really smart dad .

    • DRosenbach January 5, 2011, 10:23 AM

      That’s because it was a solitary ban many years ago. Now that there’s nearly a ban-of-the-month club, bans are much less meaningful.

      • thinkingbochur January 5, 2011, 11:16 AM

        I think it worked because it is something they could get rid of and did. I mean they can’t burn copys of vos iz neis. In other words the ban vworked not because of followers following the ban but due to the banners activly following and adhering to the ban.

        • DRosenbach January 5, 2011, 10:37 PM

          But the same is not true for Slifkin, deflecting your rationale.

    • A. Nuran January 5, 2011, 12:06 PM

      Good catch, that. In fact, Tom Ridge and a number of other officials were very candid about that point once they were out of office. It was not about making people safe. It was about making the proles afraid at the right times so they’d do what they were told.

      • thinkingbochur January 5, 2011, 1:29 PM

        Tom Ridge wrote about in his book, but then due to pressure from the Bush administration, he denied it ,and explained that that is not what he meant. Michael Moores movie Bowling for Columbine, and his movie Farenheit 911 bring out the fact that the goverment wants Americans to be scared

  • He January 5, 2011, 9:35 AM

    We should spice things up by color coding bans

    • Esther January 5, 2011, 10:40 AM


  • Izzy January 5, 2011, 9:55 AM

    I think Chabad should ban bad single-malt scotch which I would qualify as any scotch that hasn’t been aged at least 15 years. I also think they should ban grape juice unless it’s for kids.

    • Yoreh K'chetz (aka Phil) January 5, 2011, 10:56 AM


      Believe it or not, Smirnoff (without a hechsher) has been banned in Montreal, I’ve been to weddings and functions where the Vaads mashgiach actually confiscated the bottles.

      OU/NCSY banned kiddush clubs a few years ago, though they still seem to be thriving. They also suggested banning wine for Arba kosos claiming grape juice is 100% acceptable, don’t think that one flew either, especially after they came up with the ridiculous idea that it was in order to prevent drug abuse following the kid who died of a heroin overdose (wtf?).

      VIN still has a ton of ads as well.

      Effectively, the rabbis that keep signing these bans lose credibility and respect every time they do, you’d thing they would foresee it with all their lomdus.

      • Mike January 5, 2011, 11:33 AM

        “youd thing they would foresee it with all their lomdus …”

        Possibly the most perplexing thing to me about these bans. I know these Rabbis are smarter than this, so what gives? It must be that they are so removed from much of the rest of Jewish society that they are not aware of the ramifications of these bans, in terms of the impact on their credibility. I know that askanim, and chareidi zeolots will simply view this process as a way of causing “apikorsim” to self-identify themselves, and segregate from the true and the faithfuly, because hey, what do they care that a bunch of internet using apikorsim laugh at the bans?

        But seriously, it is not a happy thing for the leaders of any community–but especially if they are considered moral/spiritual leaders–to have their credibility eroded in the eyes of the public, regardless of whose at fault. And shouldn’t the emphasis be on reaching out the klal, rather then setting the bar ever higher, and losing more and more adherents each time?

        • Yoreh K'chetz (aka Phil) January 5, 2011, 12:26 PM


          It leaves something to be said about the caliber of modern day “gedolim”. It’s easy for a follower or even one to label himself as a “gadol” or add a shlita to his name (I’ve seen it done).

          A true gadol will always consider ramifications of his actions vis a vis the general reaction and adherence to it by most frum Jews, especially when it comes to banning things. R. Yosef Caro refused to ban kitniyot for exactly that reason.

          I actually laughed out loud when I first read the VIN ban, equating it with satan. Reminded me of those preachers/politicians that tried to ban Ozzy Osborne and other groups when I was a teen.

      • Anonymous January 5, 2011, 6:16 PM

        I know I’m writing this comment a bit late but i would like to mention that The Montreal Torah centre is probably the most underrated Shuls in north America as far as hot channies are concerned and definitely goes unnoticed

        • Yoreh K'chetz (aka Phil) January 5, 2011, 6:48 PM

          MTC is mainly BT’s, not sure they qualify…

          • Anonymous January 5, 2011, 7:16 PM

            they have the look and act of any hot channie that was born frum, they definitely should qualify

            • Yoreh K'chetz (aka Phil) January 6, 2011, 5:54 AM


              I’m not so sure. I think the term “Hot Chani” is usually used for younger women married to “hockers”. The MTC crowd is a bit older, mostly BT’s.

              JAP is probably more accurate of a description for most Hampstead women.

              Reb Hesh (shlita 😉 ), you seem to have invented both hot chani and hocker, how do you pasken?

              • Guest January 6, 2011, 12:24 PM

                I much prefer “orthofox” … it rolls of the tongue better.

                Just saying …

    • A. Nuran January 5, 2011, 12:08 PM

      I’ve seen a number of whiskeys that were very drinkable after less than ten years. Seriously. They did some interesting tricks with the barrels, temperature, oxygen bubbling, aging sticks and took particular care with the mash.

      It can be done. You just have to have a lot of Science and a little Art.

  • Izzy January 5, 2011, 10:45 AM

    Speaking of Rabbis banning things…thought I’d add this recent tidbit:

    “On January 4th, the order by Rabbi Avraham Yosef prohibits women from driving, especially in Israeli cities predominantly inhabited by ultraorthodox Jews, Ahram Online news website reported.

    Yosef is the chief rabbi in the city of Holon and is the son of Rabbi Afodia Yosef — Shas’ spiritual leader.

    The Jewish figure justified the decree by saying that driving for women does not reflect modesty or chastity, especially in cities mostly inhabited by religious people.

    Yosef is reportedly not the first Jewish rabbi to issue such an order.

    Rabbi Shmuel Halevi issued a similar prohibition forbidding women from driving, arguing seductive appearance of women distracted men drivers and thus resulted in a large number of traffic accidents.

    Member of Knesset and head of the house’s committee on the status of women Tzipi Hotovely criticized the order, saying it negatively affects the assimilation of Israeli women and described driving as a daily routine a woman must perform. Hotovely said that taking into consideration religious Jewish families have a large number of children, driving becomes a necessity. ”

    This would never fly in LA!

    • Bubba Metzia January 5, 2011, 3:45 PM

      That’s strange since his father is known for being lenient within the Haredi world. I’ve heard that there’s recently been some tension between him and his father. Could this possibly be related to that?

  • Dinky Londoner January 5, 2011, 2:25 PM

    Your pic reminds me of this (sadly discontinued) blog:


    We definitely need a Jewish version.

    • Mahla January 6, 2011, 8:38 AM

      LOL, the Religious Policeman site is one of my favorites, Dinky Londoner. :^D I wish he was still writing. He says he is writing a book.

  • Bubba Metzia January 5, 2011, 3:58 PM

    With all the bans these days you’re bound to start seeing more inter-Haredi bans. Banning things like wearing sheitels, visiting the grave of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov on Rosh HaShana, celebrating Nittel Nacht, listening to Hasidic music, and so on. I wonder what they’ll ban next. Maybe wearing streimels?

    • A. Nuran January 6, 2011, 8:50 AM

      There’s a long tradition of inter-Haredi bans that came out of feuds. I dimly remember one where one sect’s shochets polished their knives. Another one didn’t. Each one declared that meat slaughtered with the other sort’s knives was traif.

      And I think that the Gerrer Rabbi banned spodiks made of real fur out of concern for the financial hardship it caused for poor Jewish families.

  • yitz January 6, 2011, 8:30 AM

    too true!! btw Lord Saks- Chief rabbi of england- had his book banned. It was called The Makings Of a GADOL. An owner of a judaica store told me on the day of the ban, he didnt even have to remove it from the shelves. 100’S of people came running to buy it…. JEWS!!!!

    • Guest January 6, 2011, 9:41 AM

      The book was the Dignity of Difference, I believe, and it was the first edition of the book (the later was printed with modest corrections). I’ll take Sach’s warmth, and universalist approaches over the banners any day of the week.

      Making of a Gadol was written by someone in the Kaminetsky family. I hear it isn’t really that scandalous, but simply portrays some gedolim from previous generations as not being “perfect.”

      • yitz January 6, 2011, 8:22 PM

        although i am not sure, my point remains the same. when something is banned, it becomes the hottest seller…. and thats how the LIPA concert got sold out!

  • OfftheDwannaB January 6, 2011, 8:46 AM

    Ha! Heshy, I thought I was the only wacko looking forward to to some terrorism craziness. I kept those thoughts inside though. Good to know there are others like me.

  • Synapse January 6, 2011, 12:40 PM

    Nothing helps make a sale like getting a ban. A bookstore owner told me that once the ban hit, Slifkins books were in high demand. Why? Because people already knew, if it was banned, it must be worth reading.

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