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Vizhnitzer Rebbe bans contact lenses

The article reads like satire, but unfortunately it is not…

Rabbi, how do you like my glasses?
Vizhnitz Hasidism decides spectacles must meet modesty rules too. Yeshiva students urged to give up on metal glasses andcontact lenses.
Ari Galahar Ynet

Leaders of the Vizhnitz Hasidism have issued new instructions in regards to the purchase of eyeglasses, as part of their attempt to combat modernization.

In a special sermon to the young yeshiva students of the Hasidic dynasty, considered one of the biggest in the haredi sector, Rabbi Israel Hager, the successor of the Vizhnitz Hasidism’s founder, discussed the dangers inherent in modernizations on the secular street and urged the students not to wear metal glasses and contact lenses.

The rabbi made the remarks as part of the Shovevim period – an acronym for the Jewish weekly Torah portions of “Shemot”, “Va’era”, “Bo”, B’Shallach”, “Yitro” and “Mishpatim”. During this period, it is customary to be more careful not to violate any of the sex-related transgressions commanded in the Torah and study the laws relating to such transgressions.

Rabbi Hager said in his sermon that the students must “beware of the dangers hiding on the street.” He added that, “a student who wishes to delve into Torah studies and observe mitzvot must detach himself from all nonsense and not let them infiltrate.”

The rabbi called on students wearing modern metal glasses to remove them and move to anti-modern plastic glasses. Rabbi Hager also spoke out against yeshiva students wearing contact lenses.

According to a Hasidism source, metrosexual men and students of the modern Lithuanian yeshivot were the only ones wearing contact lenses.

“This is the reason why the rabbi called on the students not to wear them. We are well aware of the statement made by the former Vizhnitz rebbe, who said we must wear the exact opposite of what is worn in Paris.”

A Vizhnitz source explained that the essence of the Hasidim was to stay away from the nonsense and modernism of the world. “We are interested in keeping our distance from anything linked to party goers, recreational activities and clubs, and be on the other end in a way in which we won’t even know that world exists,” the source explained. “This is why our segregation is even applied to the type of eyeglasses.”

Hat Tip Failed Messiah

{ 69 comments… add one }
  • talking stam March 3, 2011, 9:18 AM

    i saw this article on vosizneias, and i was thinking it sounds like satire. funny that you thought the same thing. how do you satirize such news? besides for reprinting, of course.

  • Yoreh K'chetz (aka Phil) March 3, 2011, 9:26 AM

    Reminds me of a story on one of the rebbeim. He was in a doctors office with another one of the gedolim. When they left, the gadol asked him how he avoided looking at the untznius women, he took off his glasses and showed him that the lenses were opaque.

    BTW, I visited TTI last week, saw the now “famous” dude in your pic.

    • Avrumy March 3, 2011, 9:48 AM

      Why would they be in a doctor’s office? Medicine is “modern” and should be avoided at all costs.
      Unless the government is paying…

      • Upstart March 3, 2011, 10:14 PM

        like

  • Dena March 3, 2011, 10:31 AM

    beware of the evil contact lenses lurking in the streets?

  • Ben March 3, 2011, 10:38 AM

    Ad to the right?

    Eyesave.

  • abandoning eden March 3, 2011, 10:44 AM

    I think all glasses should be banned…why do you need clear vision, so you can look at untzniusdick things like the internet and people who aren’t the same gender as you?

    I think the next step should be those blinders that they put on horses.

  • Sergeant J March 3, 2011, 10:55 AM

    makes the satire stories seem even more realistic….

  • A. Nuran March 3, 2011, 11:11 AM

    I didn’t realize this came in the handy “Rabbi brain-pan” size

  • some jewish guy in Montreal March 3, 2011, 11:25 AM

    no owonder people are going OTD in droves…

  • HockShmockGeshmock March 3, 2011, 11:41 AM

    I can’t believe this is serious, I really thought it was Heshy poking fun. They’re a little behind the times though- metal frames aren’t in style anymore; they should ban plastic frames. And then, when our trend-setter, Justin Bieber, decides one day to put on metal glasses, they should Assur metal ones and permit plastic frames. Also, if this speech took place during ‘Shovevim’, why has it taken so long to get out to the public Lashon Hora forums??? It’s already 5 weeks later!! (Not blaming you, Heshy, but the hock ‘news’ sites.)

  • Noemi March 3, 2011, 11:54 AM

    but wait, aren’t plastic glasses more modern than metal because metal glasses came first?

    • AztecQueen2000 March 4, 2011, 8:52 AM

      No kidding! Plastic hasn’t even been around for a century yet!

  • Anonymous March 3, 2011, 12:13 PM

    Blue shirt and metal glasses, what next,boel a zonah

  • scribbling citychick March 3, 2011, 1:06 PM

    ya they’re totally behind the times, metal glasses are way out. Geek frames are where it’s at baby!

  • Telz Angel March 3, 2011, 1:29 PM

    Italian wool suit from 14th avenue — not a problem. White on white cotton shirt – of course, only BTs wear oxfords. Shiny cufflinks, wide silk tie, shtatzy shoes (but not the flat tassle kind that sfardis wear) — but nerdy glasses. That’s tznius?

    It’s the same mentality that makes hot chanies wear skirts and sheitles, and still look like sluts.

    • John March 3, 2011, 2:40 PM

      ARe you high or do you know zilch about orthodox jews in general and vishnitz in particular?
      Chasidim dont wear ties cufflinks nor shtady shoes. Visznitz goes so far as to turn the bow on their hats around so that it isnt on the same side as goyim.
      Arent these chasisim terrible? They are so judgemental and narrow-minded

      • Telz Angel March 3, 2011, 6:30 PM

        I don’t know anything about Orthodoxy, sorry.
        And I believe that the only Chassidim in the world are Chabbadniks. And the only true Christians are Morman. Go figure, I must have my hat on backwards.

        • John March 3, 2011, 7:29 PM

          Well something is backwards.
          No need to apologize, just work on becoming more informed before you criticize nonsensically

  • Yankel March 3, 2011, 1:56 PM

    I definitely understand the idea and philosophy here. The only question is how effective it will be (in a large scale sense) in the real world and streets of 2011.

    • Mahla March 3, 2011, 2:22 PM

      If they had only banned the contact lenses, it would have been better. The metal-vs.-plastic frame thing just doesn’t make sense, simply because changing fashions could quickly make that part of the ban silly, then un-silly, then silly again, etc.

    • Avrumy March 4, 2011, 6:18 AM

      And we poke fun at the Taliban for living in caves? These folks would do the same, it seems, if the governemnt checks would still find them.

      • Yankel March 7, 2011, 5:32 AM

        We poke fun at them, but we don’t say there’s anything wrong with their way of life.

        Why should we? It’s not like they’re being observant with things we should be, and are instead being lazy and making excuses about.
        We’re only bothered by the behavior of others and feel the need to degrade it when it makes us feel guilty and inadequate.

  • yitz March 3, 2011, 3:37 PM

    this is nuts…. and btw nowadays, there is a loophole-they can wear wooden glasses!!!!!!

    • Avrumy March 4, 2011, 6:51 AM

      They should wear wooden shoes to match. Or would that be too stylish?

  • Moty March 3, 2011, 4:18 PM

    My old chavrusa in the picture is a total shaygutz, he wears colored shirts and uses the internet as well. Also, TTI in the hizzouse, yo fo’ shnitzle!

  • Ilana March 3, 2011, 5:02 PM

    This is ridiculous! Plenty of people use contact lenses for health reasons.

    • Yankel March 7, 2011, 5:35 AM

      I think he was referring to those who wear them purely for looks.

  • Chana March 3, 2011, 7:26 PM

    I can understand why people should not wear outlandish or overly patterned and colorful glasses frames. but contacts?! what is to goyish or untznious about them? if anything, contacts should be preferred over glasses because most of the time, no one can tell you are wearing them!

    • Mahla March 4, 2011, 6:39 AM

      Yes, but therein lies the problem — no one can tell you are wearing them. That’s why wearing contacts, instead of glasses, is frequently done for reasons of vanity.

      • Chana March 6, 2011, 2:07 AM

        so if a person prefers contacts over glasses because they are more comfortable and can see better with contacts, would he need to ask a shailah in order to wear them? or is this another chumra that only applies in lakewood?

        • Anonymous March 6, 2011, 5:49 AM

          Lakewood? what on earth are you talking about? Hes talking to his chasidim most of whom live in bnei brak (Thats in Israel)

          • Anonymous March 6, 2011, 5:50 AM

            Theres also a bunch on haifa and monsey but zero to none in lakewood, nice try

  • Michaltastik March 3, 2011, 7:47 PM

    We are interested in keeping our distance from anything linked to party goers, recreational activities and clubs, and be on the other end in a way in which we wont even know that world exists,

    Talk about going overboard. Hey, party goers drink alcohol, I don’t see the Jews going dry though.

    • Yankel March 7, 2011, 5:37 AM

      They also eat lunch. I don’t see Jews starving either.

      • Aliza T. March 10, 2011, 8:22 PM

        Yet…

  • ari March 3, 2011, 8:36 PM

    the guy in the pic used to be my chavrusah

  • CCMSM March 3, 2011, 9:42 PM

    just ban glasses altogether. The people who wrote the gemara probably didn’t have any glasses and they managed. Anyways, vision is overrated, maybe they should ban vision altogether. Think about it: no more pritzus, no more TV or internet, you get to learn “torah shel ba’al peh” really ba’al peh, and best of all you would qualify for disability and get paid by the goverment. I think the vizhnitz mohels need to start poking the eyes out after they do the snip-snip thing. girls can keep their vision, no pritzus concerns and after all someone has to earn money and take care of the kids.

    • mike March 4, 2011, 9:17 AM

      Haha i hope they dont get any ideas this might be the next step!

  • A. Nuran March 3, 2011, 10:03 PM

    I didn’t realize bat guano crazy came in the handy rabbinical brain pan size containers.

  • Yechiel March 4, 2011, 6:13 AM

    The simple notion is that a male should not overindulge/obsess in appearance. Contacts or any other than simple spectacles fall in to the aforementioned criteria.
    If you choose to play dumb so be it. But I think you all get the point, but your way of life/beliefs do not coincide with such phenomena. To many of you being attractive is of utter importance…
    Others have other priorities; why can’t you just live and let live?

    • Mahla March 4, 2011, 8:43 AM

      It’s funny how few people complain about the Old Order Amish, who have numerous crazy bans (for example, in at least one group, on buttons), and yet people DO complain about how religious Jews want to live. I don’t specifically mean here (it would obviously be kind of crazy for people on Frum Satire to be regularly critiquing the Old Order Amish) — I just mean in general.

      Yechiel, I think maybe one reason that less-religious Jews are so angry about things like this is they have the sense that people who wish to impose this ban would NOT similarly adopt a “live and let live” attitude towards the actions of other Jews if they were in charge. Whereas other types of Christian groups do not feel that the Amish would secretly like to impose their lifestyle on ALL Christians.

      • G*3 March 4, 2011, 11:05 AM

        > I think maybe one reason that less-religious Jews are so angry about things like this is they have the sense that people who wish to impose this ban would NOT similarly adopt a live and let live attitude

        Yes. You can see that in the speech itself from the way that the Yeshivish community is disparaged as modern. They think that theirs is the only legitimate path.

        Mahla, I wouldnt call non-Chassidim less-religious. Dressing like a 19th century Polish aristocrat does not make one more religious. And good arguments can be made that chassidus was the original reform movement.

        • Mahla March 4, 2011, 6:06 PM

          I always do hear the “Polish court dress” criticism. I wonder what the Chassidich objection to that would be, but since they are not allowed to be on the Internet, I don’t think I will ever hear it from the horse’s mouth.

      • conservative scifi March 6, 2011, 2:07 PM

        Mahla,

        The ultra-orthodox don’t live and let live. I have an Israeli friend who regularly fumes because of the monopoly held by the orthodox rabbinate in Israel over marriage. If two secular Jews in Israel want to marry, they must satisfy the ultra-orthodox standards. Woe to them if they can’t prove their Jewish identity back for three generations, then they might as well rent the chapel in Cyprus. His complaint is why should Israeli Jews have to go to Cyprus to get married.

        Maybe if the ultra-orthodox gave up power over non-orthodox Jews, and stopped taking their money, the secular would be a little less critical.

        I don’t see any Amish telling me what to do or taking my tax dollars to live.

        • A. Nuran March 7, 2011, 10:47 PM

          What’s mine is mine.
          What’s yours is negotiable.
          Negotiation means you give it to me.

    • G*3 March 4, 2011, 11:02 AM

      Yecheil, had he simply said that Vishnitz Chassidim should not concern themselves with being stylish, I dont think anyone outside of Vishnitz would have paid attention. Instead he chose to make the incredibly ahistorical statement that wire frames are modern despite wire frames pre-dating plastic by over four hundred years and to lump the yeshivish litvish community with metrosexuals, a term that Im sure he didnt mean as a compliment.

    • A. Nuran March 4, 2011, 1:07 PM

      Honi soit qui mal y pense

      The simple response is “Who is obsessing?” It’s not the guy who goes down to Lenscrafters and gets metal-framed glasses or the girl who wears pantyhose and a denim skirt. It’s the pervs who spend hours late at night touching themselves while they ban those horrible things that lead to SIN. These hard men protect you from that sinful ankle, the daring shudder masculine blue shirt, those provocative aviator frames, the hothothot blouse that reveals the sensuous curve of a collarbone and the lascivious scaly skin of a womanly elb… *SPLORT*

  • Avrumy March 4, 2011, 6:46 AM

    “Leaders of the Vizhnitz Hasidism have issued new instructions … as part of their attempt to combat modernization.”
    They want nothing modern in their lives? Give up cel phones for starters.

  • Bridge and Tunnel March 4, 2011, 6:54 AM

    I think you’ll probably disagree with me. But, that’s holiness on an incredibly high level. I’m not saying it’s something I’m going to do. I believe that dressing to impress is important in today’s business world. However, for a Jew that wishes to devote their life to Torah (and we need Jews on both ends, learners and workers, like Ephraim and Zevulin), this seems to be the way to go. I agree that in order to be totally immersed in a Torah lifestyle, it should not concern a person what the designers tell them to wear. A person who chooses to devote their life to only Torah has to realize that they too have a yetzer hara, which tries to get them to desire other things that are not holy pursuits, but perhaps self indulgent. Therefore, for such a Jew, it’s important to wear the exact opposite, in order that they not get swept away with worldly pursuits. It’s not that it’s a bad thing to wear designer clothing and/or glasses/contacts, it’s just that the ideal, in the eyes of the holy rebbi, is for a Jew to desire nothing other than to be close to The Holy One.

    • talking stam March 4, 2011, 10:07 AM

      you’re right, i do disagree with you. the “ideal” in the eyes of the “holy rebbi” is far from being close to The Holy One. If that were his ideal, he would not be wasting his time on such absurdities. Devoting your life to Torah has nothing to do with this. This is devoting your life to conformity, or rather to making sure all your “chasidim” conform to every word YOU say, no matter how far they are from the words of Torah. (As an added note, the fact that this Rebbe is trying to fight the yetzer hora of glasses means he is consciously ignoring other, much more real, yetzer horas, which actually would bring you closer to Hashem.)

      • Bridge and Tunnel March 4, 2011, 2:16 PM

        I have tried to touch upon all these points which you’ve brought up in my original email. Well here it is again. the ideal in his speech is clearly to be close to Hashem, and only close to Hashem. That is exactly why he is speaking about glasses, which is not even an avaira at all. But just staying away from avaira’s does not make a person as holy as they can be. Clinging to nothing but Hashem, and only doing things according to his will is. It is not against Hashem’s will for a Jew to wear nice things. However, it is not either His will for a Jew to devote his/her time in the pursuit of their physical desires. The ideal is for a Jew to desire nothing but closeness to Hashem (which is accomplished through learning Torah and doing mitzvos, and having everything done for the sake of Heaven).

        Are there bigger problems in the world? Sure! However, not every person is on the same level. Living in a chassidish community typically means that you stay away from avairos. But the chassidish communities take it a step further. They try and do every single thing, solely because it’s Hashem’s will, and not becasue it’s to simply satisfy their own desires. It’s possible that a person is so devout that they don’t realize that the glasses their wearing are the latest fashion. But, the rebbis fear is that if such a person comes to realize that they are dressed in the latest styles, then the yetzer hara may sway them to increase their pursuit of other physical pleasures (contrary to only doing Hashem’s will). And for those chassidim that dress a certain way bc its the latest fashion, should also cease to do so, so they are not giving into their temptations.

        This speech was not directed to you or me. It was directed to people who live a lifestyle that we don’t. The rebbi is not following the latest fashion, but its become pervasive that people (Chassidim) are conforming to the styles of the goyim. And as a leader, he must do what he can to ensure that his people don’t fall from the level which it’s his job to keep them on.

        To underline the main point. The yetzer hara is the source of all temptation in the world. That’s not to say that satisfying our desires are necessarily avairos. Some desires are even mitzvos. However, the point is, a person that is doing something for the sake of satisfying their own desires is, at that moment, not acting for the sake of heaven. Acting for the sake of heaven (i.e doing the will of Hashem), at every waking moment, is the ideal for Jews. That’s all the rebbi was trying to say.

    • G*3 March 4, 2011, 11:08 AM

      Being truly unconcerened about modern fashoin would be to ignore it, not to keep track of it so that you can do the exact opposite.

  • WACKY MAC & CHOCOLATE PIZZA March 5, 2011, 9:04 PM

    In the future, could you post a link to these articles?

  • anonymous March 5, 2011, 11:26 PM

    Oh, well you know, old man glasses are all the rage these days so this rav is kinda screwed…

  • Anonymous March 6, 2011, 12:54 AM

    It’s a shame that this Rabbi Hager can’t keep his dangerous delusions to himself.

  • A. Nuran March 6, 2011, 1:44 PM

    It makes a lot of sense when you stop for a second.
    There are thousands of guys with smicha and not enough jobs for them. In order to get one you need to stand out. How do you do that? Hard work just makes you invisible and tired. You need to get noticed, and you need to excite people. The easiest way is to ban something. You seem tough and pious. You let people sneer at anyone who doesn’t go along with it. Even kefirs like Frum Satire readers will hear about you.

    …. wait for it….

    3) Profit!

    • John March 6, 2011, 5:03 PM

      shrewd analysis, except for the fact hat the people doing the banning, dont need to stand out. They are the Rebbis and Roshei yeshivas who ALREADY stand out for whatever reason (yiras shamayaim (real or perceived), limud hatorah, having the right yichus, marrying into the right family, or some combination of the above). The Vishnitzer Rebbi already excites his followers, Same goes for the Roshei yeshiva who signed the ban on VIN None of them need to “stand out” they are already Roshei yeshiva and arent just among the thousands of guys with smicha who need jobs. They have jobs (and perhaps the best job security) . Thus your point makes absolutely no sense when you think about it for more than two seconds.

    • John March 7, 2011, 8:20 AM

      shrewd an alysis, except for the fact hat the people doing the banning, dont need to stand out. They are the Rebbis and Roshei yeshivas who ALREADY stand out for whatever reason (yiras shamayaim (real or perceived), limud hatorah, having the right yichus, marrying into the right family, or some combination of the above). The Vishnitzer Rebbi already excites his followers, Same goes for the Roshei yeshiva who signed the ban on VIN None of them need to “stand out” they are already Roshei yeshiva and arent just among the thousands of guys with smicha who need jobs. They have jobs (and perhaps the best job security) . Thus your point makes absolutely no sense when you think about it for more than two seconds.

  • Yankel March 7, 2011, 5:25 AM

    What a bunch of retards.

    Here’s a people with a culture, with a way of life, with a mentality, with certain values and priorities, none of which any of you have even the slightest clue about, and to top it all off – they are located primarily in Bnei Brak, which itself is notorious for being ‘different’ than the other insular communities, and you pick a statement which their leader makes (and you twist it, he never said the word “Ban”. He spoke of the meaning of an entire concept, gave one example, and urged his followers to adopt its practice. Not a “Ban” which you all love saying so much), and then you all sit around ridiculing his statement.

    For any of you to give opinions about how to run Vizhnitz, is like a jungle savage giving his opinion about nuclear engineering.

    All else aside, let us assume for the moment that you do in fact understand something about insular chassidish society and how these people think. There’s still a very basic point that all of you are missing.

    The main reason why all of you think the whole glasses thing is so ‘ridiculous’ has nothing to do with glasses or plastic or metal or contact lenses. All those things just make up your straw-man argument.

    The real issue here is modernization, which here means – adapting to non-Jewish culture and values. Accepting their way of life into yours. Allowing yourselves to be influenced by them. None of you really have a problem with any of that. Heck, half of you probably dont even care enough about Judaism to be shomer Shabbos. Id be shocked if there were 5% of you who dont have TVs, and arent spending hours staring at goyim act out their lives, speak their thoughts, and display their morals (or lack thereof).
    To sum it up, you dont think theres anything wrong with Jews being like the goyim. What they think and care about is good and fine. Theres no loss or harm we Jews have any reason to be concerned about due to non-Jewish influences.

    Compare this warped mentality to the classic traditional Vishnitz way of thinking, which is that even a drop of adapting to the nations can cause unimaginable ruin. This is true to the extent that if the non-Jews adopt a certain practice they will specifically go and do the exact opposite. In fact, if any of you ever observe a Vizhnitzer guys hat (I dont doubt any of you have enough knowledge to so much as tell a chassidish guy from an Amish guy, but if you could theoretically pick out a vizhnitzer guy), youll see the ribbon is uncharacteristically on the right side. This was because the non-Jewish style back in Europe was to wear it on the left, and there were no Jewish hat manufacturers in Ukraine, so theyd buy one like everyone else, and wear it backwards to make a statement.

    Vizhnitz more than the other chassidusen, has historically been extremely careful in this aspect. Theres actually a funny anecdote about the emphasis they place on even the details of ones garb.

    A Vizhnitzer boy was traveling on the train. Concerned about possible anti-Semitism, he decided to disguise the fact that he was Jewish. Sometime along the way, another passenger approaches him and asks him in Yiddish Ven is der shkiyah (When is sundown), so he answers him 6:38, but tell me. How in the world did you know I was Jewish? Cant you see my jacket is buttoned left over right? I look like a complete goy!

    So the root of why Rabbi Hager and many of you see things differently, is not just about Dont wear metal glasses which youre all trying to make it sound like, but rather Even a tiny amount of Goyish influence is harmful to true Torah life.

    I suggest you keep to the issue at hand, and while youre at it, keep your opinions to things youre more familiar with, like American Idol.

  • Yoreh K'chetz (aka Phil) March 7, 2011, 11:57 AM

    Yankel,

    I think your view of Vishnitz is exaggerated. Following the anti modernization concept, Vishnitzers wouldn’t be using toilet paper. After all, it’s a relatively modern invention, shulchan aruch talks about using rocks instead. Not to mention all the potential issues with Shabbos, such as flushing, coloring, etc.

    Perhaps they should also revert to the good old donkey carts. Minivans and SUV’s are definitely a modern goyish invention, not to mention those sinful GPS systems that have kol Isha and tell you where you can find the closest burger king.

  • Bubba Metzia March 9, 2011, 6:52 PM

    Maybe he just wanted to be ironic, because hipsters wear plastic frames and the plastic frames are more modern than the metal ones.

  • chaim June 28, 2011, 3:18 PM

    you being serious?
    this has to be a joke
    if this is true.. im seriously done with chasidus for life

  • Mordechai February 3, 2012, 10:04 PM

    So, the Viznitz rebbe is banning wire glasses, because they are more modern than the NEW plastic glasses? Oy, does he have his shtreimel upside down?

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