Passover 2012: A Personal Encounter with the Rasha

Immediately before we begin the Yom Kippur Eve Kol Nidrei prayer, a short paragraph is recited by the chazzan that ends with the following:

anu matirin l’hispallel im ha’arvanim” — “we sanction prayer with the transgressors”

Rather than being a call for automatic forgiveness of all sins, it is possible that this prayer is meant to engender a stark recognition among all in attendance — that we each have what to work on, and perhaps it is only with this communal permission that our own personal sins do not hold us back from joining.  There are many other explanations, but suffice it to say that we do not position a bouncer at the synagogue door asking for credentials; all who sincerely seek to reconcile with the Almighty are welcome.

The Passover Seder, almost an exact half year from Yom Kippur, presents a somewhat different approach.  We open the maggid discussional with an invitation in Aramaic — historically the language of the common man — for all to join:

kol dichfin yeisei v’yeichul, kol ditzrich yeisei v’yifsach” — “whoever is hungry let him eat, whoever is in need let him [make] Passover”

The fact that this proclamation is made in duplicate is often glossed over because the next stanza is also in doublet form and since the entire Ha lachma anya takes on such a poetic form, one senses that there can be no questions on the formatting.  But, perhaps, it’s because we’re speaking not just of those who are hungry for food.

As a young dentist, I find myself involved with many other dentists through dental school and educational programs and I meet many other Jewish dentists who are either less observant or nearly unaffiliated, and over the last 2 years of so, I’ve used this as as opportunity to invite some of these colleagues for “Friday night Shabbat dinners.” About 2 months ago, my wife and I had four couples over for Friday night but there’s a guy in the group whom I specifically did not invite because I know that he went to a yeshiva day school and then a Modern Orthodox yeshiva high school but has since gone off the derech, and I felt that he would detract from the evening.  We are friendly enough with one another that he approached me after finding out that I had invited a bunch of his colleagues and seemingly left him out, but I hesitated to respond in any meaningful manner and he sort of just walked away assuming that he had not been invited because it was for couples only.

Two weeks ago, I decided to once again have the group over for a meal — this time for the second days of Passover.  And once again, this guy heard about it and sought me out to find out why he hadn’t been invited, although this time, he was a lot more direct.  He seemed upset but insisted that he was not, and explained that this was his tight group of friends and petitioned to be able to join so that he, too, could enjoy the company and fun of a Jewish Holiday meal at my house.

Having laid it all out there, I could not see a way of leaving it alone without opening up a full blown discussion on the matter, so I just told him like I saw it: “If you’re not religious anymore,” I asked, “why would you want to have a Shabbos meal at my house where I’m trying to do kiruv?  Yarmulkes are passed out, we sing Shalom Aleichem and no one talks while the grape juice is poured out and passed around.  Every single person is encouraged to and readily agrees to say the blessing for hand washing and a discussion inevitably begins about why I’m hiding the challah bread under a shiny, embroidered cloth and the secret’s revealed that my wife is wearing a wig!  We have a great time, comments abound about the yumminess of my matzah balls and my wife’s salt & pepper noodle kugel and those who are able join in for the bentching, even if they only able to hum through the more challenging sections that aren’t as popular and singy-songy.  So why,” I continued, “would you possibly want to come for this?  You had this and you discarded it — you were here and left, and if you’re not interested in coming back, what’s the reason you’re so interested in coming?  But more than that — I’d really rather you not be there, because I see you as an obstacle.  It’ll be like a joke, because in the car ride home, someone’ll probably ask you if that’s the way you used to do it when you cared.”

He thought for a second, and then told me I was thinking way too deeply about it — it’s all just for a good time.  He then told me that his two roommates — both previous attendees at my dinner parties — lit Chanukah candles with him and under his direction this past year without ever having done so their entire lives.  “That’s really odd, don’t you think?” I asked him, “You go off the derech and now you’re doing kiruv?”

We concluded gently and warmly, with me firm about wanting this to be a kiruv experience and his presence providing a large potential for undermining that and he disagreeing but understanding where I was coming from.  To him, this has all become a cultural thing.  “I love being Jewish,” was one of the last things he said.

I see how this guy has just fallen off the wagon of interest, “looking for answers but never getting any,” as he put it, but at least he’s not belligerent.  But to him, this is all about culture now.  To me, it’s about introducing these people to the world of observant Judaism — something this guy stands against.

When the haggadah speaks of the questions of the 4 sons and the answers we’re supposed to give, something interested comes up — there’s really only 3 answers.  Four responses, but one of those is not an answer…and the question that doesn’t get an answer is that of the rasha (the wicked son).  When the proverbial 4 sons are at your seder and the rasha asks his question, the response is strange:

“Therefore, be sharp with him.  Say, “It is because of this service that God acted for me when I came out of Egypt.”  Li v’lo lo — for me, but not for him.  Had he been there, he would not have been redeemed.”

Who are we talking to when we say this?  As R’ Aharon Kahn said on my mp3 player yesterday, we generally only refer to the person we’re speaking to in 3rd person when he’s the gadol hador (Torah leader of the generation), and the rasha ain’t no gadol hador!  Really, we are not answering the rasha, for he does not merit an answer, explains R’ Kahn.  We ignore him and instead respond to the proverbial 4th son at the seder (the one who knows not how to ask) who has been exposed to such despicable ranting from the rasha — the 4th son doesn’t know what to say and if we let him hear such things from the rasha unchecked, we might lose him, too, concludes R’ Kahn.

This is not the first time I’ve listened to this mp3 file, but I definitely didn’t have my mind consciously focused on this idea when I decided not to invite the OTD guy to my Shabbos dinner parties.  And he’s not outwardly hateful and aggressive like the rasha from the haggadah, but he might still fit the bill.  He excludes himself from the community, although in his own mind he hasn’t — because, after all, he loves being Jewish…but in what sense is that meaningful according to the Torah if he’s divested himself of all obligation?

So I won’t judge him — if he’s a rasha or not, that’s really between him and God.  I’m give him unconditional love, but that doesn’t mean I should let him be there when I’m trying to make spiritual inroads with his unaffiliated or thoroughly unobservant colleagues.  He is who he is and because of that, he’s the most difficult person to ever try to bring close — because he knows all the tricks, and what’s worse, he knows that he knows all the tricks and he knows that I know it, too.  I don’t know how to help him because he’s already made the plunge — he’s given up hope of finding an answer while maintaining the practice of Judaism.  He no longer does the Judaism and he no longer wears a yarmulke, showing that he’s not afraid to let everyone know.

But he wants to wear one in my house and I just can’t see myself letting him do that.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • kishmir

    Classical OJ cowardice, afraid to be near anyone who might question the illogical.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      It’s not the illogical — it’s the indefensible. And I don’t think there’s anything other than not being able to answer all the questions, in which case you classify Judaism itself as cowardly.

      To mix those who don’t know how to ask with those who ask exceptional questions creates a poor environment to answer either one’s questions — and since I can’t answer his questions, he’ll need someone else.

      But that’s not really the point here, I think. He’s not intending to come and launch bombshell questions at the dinner table — he’s just in it for the fun, and I don’t think that’ll make for a good Shabbos table atmosphere.

      • http://http//abandoningeden.blogspot.com abandoning eden

        yeah god forbid you have someone there who actually enjoys judaism and has fun at a shabbas table. Having fun on shabbas is an aveirah.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          There’s that cynicism again. Maybe you’re the rasha we’re looking for — nonobservant and belligerent.

          • http://abandoningeden.blogspot.com abandoning eden

            hey, I learned that cynicism from my jewish mother. cynicism is an inherently jewish trait.

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              Quit defending your contemptuousness. You can disagree, argue salient points and even take occasional take intellectual jabs without losing civility — something you’ve lost a long time ago here.

              • http://abandoningeden.blogspot.com abandoning eden

                Well you are attacking my way of arguing vs. addressing my actual arguments, so there’s no point in talking to you any further.

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                  You don’t have an argument — you’re just saying that I’m wrong and lacing the inadequacy of your position with sarcasm and profanity.

                  Re-read what you wrote and tell me I’m wrong on that point.

                  • http://abandoningeden.blogspot.com abandoning eden

                    it was laced with sarcasm (Which is not the same thing as cynicism btw and again way to focus on the way I argue vs. the message), but the point was that you see something inherently wrong with someone who is *just* celebrating shabbas for “Fun.” Well what’s wrong with fun? When I was a kid my grandfather would yell at the old men who were trying to get the kids to quiet down at shul and not have fun, because he argued that kids SHOULD think religion is fun, because otherwise why would anyone want to be religious?

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                      This guy is like 27 — he’s not to be fooled into keeping Shabbos for the fun of it.

                      And I’m well aware of the difference between sarcasm and cynicism and I frequently visit Merriam-Webster.com to confirm this type of stuff while writing. You complain when I target your manner of arguing, so I won’t bother to cite your examples of both sarcasm and cynicism.

                      Your argument is flimsy — you may disagree with my position, but yours has yet to be presented cogently and directly. You think he should be allowed to come — I disagree. I state my position, you counter with anecdotes and feelings. I may have only feelings to oppose yours, but there is no evidence in this argument. Yet you get so worked up that you leave civility behind and throw all sorts of everything at me other than what amounts to a sound position befitting your level of frustration, let alone incivility.

                      Religion is fun, but that’s not why we keep it. Kids can’t comprehend the profundity of Judaism, so we get them excited with curiosity about dipped vegetables and hiding under the tallis during the priestly blessings and drowning out the name of Haman. But that’s not really what it’s all about, and by the time one is 27, one should know that. And if he chooses not to, or decides that this is not for him, he becomes an impediment for others, either potential or realized.

                      You can’t dispute my feelings, really. You can make a case for an alternative view, and that may influence me to change my feelings, but I can see him at the Shabbos table with the others and it being awkward or strange, even if just for a few moments at a time at different points of the meal.

                      Perhaps he’s upset. Perhaps he feels left out because, as it turns out, his roommates and their girlfriends whom he spends lots of time with will all be at my house while he’s left out in the cold. But my goal is to have unaffiliated Jews over to give them a Jewish experience over and above what they get at their grandfather’s graveside service and he’s hardly unaffiliated — he’s post-affiliated.

                      Can he return? Will he return? Should he return? I certainly don’t know, but none of that is material here.

      • http://www.facebook.com/ylovemusic Y-Love

        I had to comment here after seeing the tumult this article is causing on Facebook.

        DRosenbach:

        This article is, to me, sad and lamentable. You admit “[h]e’s not intending to come and launch bombshell questions at the dinner table”, it would follow logically that, were you to tell him to, for instance, not speak about issues with Judaism or to keep the conversations with your newly-observant (being very generous here) guests to a minimum. I had to do a similar thing once on a speaking gig — where the guests told me to “give my life story” but “not to speak about racism”.

        Most likely, your guest would have complied. After all, by your own admission, he just wanted to have some fun with some old friends.

        But this is not good enough for your “good Shabbos table atmosphere”. You want an internal emunah to be there inside him, driving him to lap up Yiddishkeit as voraciously as a spiritual seeker. And sans this, he’s not worthy to be a guest at your table.

        May I suggest you simply stop doing this charade you’re calling kiruv. Undoubtedly, some of your guests have now read this article and realize how exclusive your Shabbos table truly is. OTD Jews? Personae non grata. I would assume — as likely they would — that intermarried and avowedly secular (atheist, humanist &c) Jews fall into this category. And now, as a result, over 40% of American Jewry are not welcome at your “good Shabbos table.”

        A far cry from kol dichsifin.

        No one is saying your position is inconsistent, flimsy, or not well thought-out, on the contrary — you’ve brilliantly explained and defended precisely why you are actively excluding the same people you claim to want to “bring in.”

        Every “good Shabbos table” like yours creates another OTD Jew who is not welcome at it.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          1) Against the claims of some posters here, I do not intend to sugar-coat things, and to ask someone to refrain from anything at my table seems more awkward than allowing him to come.

          2) I think your post is suffering from a terrible case of not understanding the situation upon which you’re commenting. This guy is apparently roommates with some of the invitees, so how you think it’s feasible to warn him against speaking to them about Shabbos or Judaism when we’re going to be at a Shabbos meal is beyond me. This is not about compliance — this is about growth, and this guy is anti-growth.

          3) I don’t know what you mean by racism at a speaking gig.

          4) None of my guests have read this because they don’t read FrumSatire — they are nearly completely unaffiliated and concern for an apparent shidduch crisis or Heshy’s Segulah Top 10 is so low on their scale that it’s statistically equivalent to 0.

          While your tone is upbeat and positive, it doesn’t seem as though you’ve really captured my point. I didn’t say he’s never invited to my house, just that he’s not invited with them. I would also not allow Sam Harris to come for a Shabbos meal with them, even though he’s never been religious.

          And like most everything else in the haggadah, kol dichfin is meant to be poetic, not to be taken literally. Do we really invite all the poor to our Yom Tov meal? Do we really ask anyone to come, other than our friends, family and perhaps the guy we picked out from shul? No one subscribes to this as a literal rule for seder night, and the invitation was not for seder night anyway.

          And like my post (well) below explains, OTDness is not created by being unwelcome to a dinner table — it’s created by a lack of knowledge or a lack of faith — you’re merely playing to the crown with that one.

          • shanamaidel

            Lack of Faith,
            I’m pretty sure in my case it’s not lack of knowledge(in fact, I would say that Orthodox Judaism in the US currently has very little knowledge of the history of Judaism in the US, and that’s just a starting problem). I would say its a disappointment in the construction of God. It’s a rather flimsy thing when you think about it

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              I don’t think the history of Judaism in the US is all that important when considering the basis for the religion.

              And if I’m reading you right, perhaps you might be very interested by R’ David Aaron’s Seeing God. (He might look a bit unconventional, but the book is great!)

              • shanamaidel

                I think Orthodox Judaism responds poorly to a postmodern lifestyle and philosophical perspective.

                Plus, I’m a super hard person to convince since I’ve seen how the sausage of day to day religion is made – and I’ve lost two friends to it (suicide).

  • http://http//abandoningeden.blogspot.com abandoning eden

    I think specifically excluding your so called “friend” from your group activities, even when he clearly wants to participate, makes you the rasha. No wonder he’s OTD, if that’s how orthrodox jews treat him. And shame on you for being so cowardly.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      What exactly does he want to participate in?

      He’s discarded Judaism as a religion and intends to embrace it as a culture, but that’s not the message I intend to send.

      • http://http//abandoningeden.blogspot.com abandoning eden

        well the message you ARE sending is that orthodox judiasm is full of assholes. Good job there. You just successfully anti-kiruved me and everyone else who reads this post, I’m sure that was your intention.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          I disagree and it’s too bad that you feel this way.

          • http://http//abandoningeden.blogspot.com abandoning eden

            Well too bad I would never be invited to your shabbas table because I’m OTD. Asshole.

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              We don’t use profanity at my Shabbos table, so maybe you should stay home.

              And you’re far too angry of a person for me to have over even when this guy is here.

              • http://abandoningeden.blogspot.com abandoning eden

                funny, I’ve never been described as an “Angry person” before. It’s only things like this that makes me angry. I’m not just “angry” in general, I’m angry when I see people do things that are wrong, and I think this is wrong.

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                  Nothing makes you angry — you choose that all by yourself, even though one may lose one’s cool from time to time. Cynicism, however, is one step below that — and you’ve failed to control that urge all by yourself.

                  And I never said that what I did was right — my point here was not to provide instructions for Shabbos kiruv parties but to relate a story that happened. Even with your opposing opinions, I haven’t really seen your argument — you’ve just slammed my actions and belittled my intentions without providing any real re-direction that I could take even if I were so inclined.

                  But I still think that what I’ve done is in line with what can be expected to be the most positive results. It’s like I’m trying to have a singles Shabbaton and some divorced guy wants to come even though he’s not interested in getting married and thinks quite ill of the whole institution of marriage — but his friends will be here and he wants to join in for a good time.

                  • http://abandoningeden.blogspot.com abandoning eden

                    I think this is more akin to saying a divorced guy who wants to get married isn’t invited to your single events because you only want the never married singles.

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                      That’s the analogy you’re drawing because it suits your position.

                      But even if we take your analogy, you can’t fault me for doing that either unless you’re biased in favor of a particular divorcee or divorcees in general. It’s my singles event and I can decide who’s invited and who’s not and discriminating based on previous marital status is one method of selecting invitees.

                    • http://abandoningeden.blogspot.com abandoning eden

                      True, you can do whatever you want. I just think you are a jerk for doing so, and I think the way you went about doing it is vile, and I’m free to say so too. And I think anyone who hosted a singles events and specifically excluded divorcees would be a jerk too.

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                      According to your standards of jerkiness, it doesn’t seem to amount to an excess of poor character traits to be labeled a jerk…and perhaps we might very well leave it at that.

                    • http://abandoningeden.blogspot.com abandoning eden

                      funny you say it’s “my standards” and yet if you haven’t noticed, almost every single reply to your thread universally thinks you are being a jerk. Maybe instead of being so self righteous and defensive you might try, just for a moment, considering the possibility that you are in the wrong and are coming off as a huge jerk to everyone else, OTD and frum alike? Or is that completely impossible for you to even consider?

                      Since i already know the answer to that question, I’m going to conclude my banging of my head against this wall and will not be responding further, you are clearly incapable of even understanding why what you did is wrong or why anyone might have a problem with it.

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                      1) They are your standards, indeed — the first descent into incivility within our conversation was by you.

                      2) The confusing nature of this blog thread makes it quite difficult to summarize the positions taken by each individual. Multiple anonymous users may exist, but are all listed by the same ‘anonymous’ title. Furthermore, it’s not just about counting up replies to see whose side they take.

                      It’s thoroughly misleading to presume that everyone’s opinion is of equal value. Before you take me out of context, which you’ll probably do because that’s how best to make your point, those who reject the authority of Judaism necessarily see nothing wrong with rejecting Judaism, and on the off chance they do but do so anyway, it can’t be all that bad. So to rebuff my explanations which are based on what can be described as something related to religious sensitivity is of no large consequence — if you’ve already rejected the religion, there is no real damage done when proceeding to reject anything based on the religion. Your opinion is of thus no greater concern than that of a gentile who lacks an appreciation for Torah, and perhaps it’s even worse, because you feel that you can make anti-Jewish statements or harbor anti-Jewish sentiments because you are speaking from internal experience rather than external observation. Your comments thus lack statistical power, as it were, when being summed to form a list of opposing opinions, and that is why I take what you write with very little seriousness — because you are writing from a place of great emotion rather than from logic and rationalism, and I cite your frequent bursts of profanity, cynicism and downright incivility as indicators that my presumptions are correct.

    • anon

      it’s called sinas chinam.

      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

        Sinas chinum (baseless hatred) is the new kefirah (heresy) — everyone’s guilty of it, and like sexual or racial misconduct, it’s easy to claim and difficult to refute.

        So how about some substance to your accusation. Truly, it’s no more sinas chinum than it is bal yeraeh u’bal yimatzei (seeing or finding chametz on Passover), but that doesn’t really matter, does it? As long as you assert it, it’s true, despite any lack of substance to your claim.

  • cyberdov

    I completely fail to understand your feelings on this. Why is it that kiruv is OK for the never-frum, but not for the once-frum? It’s not like your ‘friend’ is mocking the tradition – he actually WANTS to participate. So what if this doesn’t fit your neat little kiruv categories? I really don’t get it.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      Kiruv is for all, close and far. But different methods are applicable for different types of people. It’s like having a singles event — should the people who choose not to wear skirts that cover their knees not be able to get married? And what about those guys who want to remain in kollel for 15 more years while their wives work?

      I don’t agree with either path — but each group should meet with their kind. So too, doing kiruv for the have-beens is very different than for the never-haves and each can be engaged better in different ways.

      And what does he want to participate in? Not the same thing the others want to participate in. For them, this is something bringing them closer to Judaism…whatever that is, for they don’t really know. For him, it’s just hanging out with friends.

    • Puzzled

      The point is that he wants a bunch of people around his table who don’t know the inside truth, so he can impress them with profound explanations (oooooh, really, you’re concerned about the feelings of the challah? I just know Williamsburg is full of people who care about other people too!) without a dissenting voice. It’s called indoctrination.

      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

        That’s pretty cynical.

  • cyberdov

    And by the way – it seems to me that kiruv without genuine friendship (or at least brotherhood) will eventually be seen for the self-satisfying venture that it really is.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      I agree.

      How does that fit in with what we’re discussing?

    • Jesse

      “self-satisfying venture that it really is.” Brilliant summation. Love it!

  • tesyaa

    This is why people who are OTD or orthoprax keep it secret, because they know they’ll be excluded from community and social functions. If you believe the religion stands on its own merits, you should be comfortable standing up to challenges. I join the other commenters who disagree with your approach here.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      The religion does not stand on its own merits and everybody knows that. Faith is required at some point and those who don’t feel they can or wish to have that faith need leave or pretend.

      Feel free to disagree — that’s what this is all about. I’m not the authority on kiruv here or anywhere else — I just thought this would be interesting to discuss and it seems that I was right.

      This guy wants to come for fun but fun for the sake of fun is not my goal here.

      • oy

        I think the classical Jewish belief is that Judaism does and should stand on its own merits. That faith thing sounds like Christain nonsense.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          Classic Judaism existed when the concept of atheism was foreign to most. When defending itself, it really only needed to make itself the most superior and most easily defend-able religion — but that’s no longer the case.

          Even when it’s revealed that Christianity and Islam collapse on their faulty misinterpretations of scripture, Judaism is not a safe bet when matched up against secularism, but because this concept is so new, it’s not found in our classical texts.

          • Off the OJ

            That’s absolutely wrong. The Kuzari and the Rambam specifically refer to Greek ideas that essentially amount to secularism.

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              The Kuzari principle is in valid and wanting for actual substance — check it out.

              And Maimonides’ views suffers from the notion that there is a true knowledge of God by all, but it’s just that they desire to sin, which is inconsistent with reality as we know it in 2012.

              • oy

                So you believe that there may be no God and you want to do kiruv? It is bizarre that you enter philosophical issues with such surety, when your statements show an irrational mind. I don’t believe anyone says the Kuzari argument lacks substance. Any philosopher or theologian who debates it will respond with a theory to disprove, but I don’t think they would be so infantile to say it is wanting for substance. As to Maimonidies view, you may disagree, however you have no logical basis that it is incosistent with reality as we know it. You seem to suffer from the common delusion that our personal ideals and thoughts are more advanced than any of the ancient thinkers.

                • Dave

                  No, the Kuzari argument is basically irrevocably flawed.

                  Look at what it requires:

                  1. The presumption that generation-to-generation transmission is unfailingly accurate. Try a game of telephone and get back to me on that.

                  2. The presumption that it is impossible to inject new (even radically different) content into a generational discourse. Consider what a BT who was raised with the notion that Torah m’Sinai was ludicrous, and what they should tell their offspring. Then consider the number of times in Jewish history that there has been a communal falling away from faith followed by a resurgence driven by a small group of true believers. Then get back to me.

                  3. The presumption that generationally transmitted beliefs trump issues of archaeological record.

                  The Kuzari argument will only convince someone who wants to be convinced.

                  • oy

                    1. It may not be unfailingly accurate, Hence various legends around historic events such as the Revolutionary war, the Trojan Wars, the Josephus accounts. However, no one debates their happeenings. A game of telephone is an immature analogy to the Sinai story. In addition the basic document seems basically unchanged.

                    2 Interesting that you are ready to acknowledge the historical facts about Jews falling away from their faith. Those histories which you are ready to accept, for some reason, occured after the Sinai story to individuals and communities who believed in the Sinai story.

                    3. I am not an archaeologist, so I am unaware of the find that proved the Israelis were never in the Sinai. I will presume that their proof is based on digging up every square inch of the Sinai.
                    By the way, there are many who seem to have “evidence” that the Holocaust never happened. Personally, I will believe my grandfather over you. I just hope my grandchildren don’t use your brilliant arguments against the Holocaust. In a few hundred years they can be similarly applied.

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                      The Kuzari argument is debated here but they do a good job of making too many jokes and taking too many sarcastic jabs that even people looking for truth might be turned off. Why don’t you email R’ Becher, because my comments are based somewhat on his responses to me (somewhat because he’s not the only rabbi I speak with).

                      It’s very difficult to have evidence that the Holocaust didn’t happen, but we may very well one day have no evidence that it did happen, or there may be just as much published material against the Jewish claims as for it — but that’s all largely immaterial. You are now trying to convince us to agree with you because it’ll be so sad if we don’t, which amounts to no real reason past “let’s not get bubby upset that we’re trashing her faith.”

                      People who give up Judaism don’t care about the bubby argument, or if they do, it becomes the reason they keep the Torah, which isn’t very good. It’s like a roommate I had in YU who went to Brooklyn for Shabbos and his wife would cover her hair because people who knew their parents would otherwise tell on them, not because they actually believed in what they were doing.

                      And do address your very important point above — that I “believe that there may be no God and [you] want to do kiruv” — that’s a very good question. My response to you is as follows: having been involved in kiruv in the manner I have been for the past 3 years, I’ve come to appreciate the OTD’s position, such that if they don’t actually believe there is nothing one can say to convince them, for all rests on belief. For those people, I do not try to do kiruv because I get stuck — and when I went to R’ Becher and R’ Schachter with the same question they were not able to answer me either. But they still do the Judaism, as do the rebbeim and spiritual advisers with whom I have more intimate relationships.

                      I still maintain the authoritative and binding nature of the Torah and, as such, perform kiruv because it’s part of the requirements of a Torah-subscribed Jew. Most people are not too keen — and I’ll admit here that FrumSatire readership is not a representative cohort of most people because I find the intelligence of the postership (and perhaps the entire readership) to be well above average — and if you tell them that it relies on faith, they’re willing to buy that. Then I stay on the more conservative topics of discussion, like ritual, philosophy and the like.

                      But you’re right — doing kiruv is very difficult because you hear all sorts of things and you don’t really know what to do with them. So I took them to my higher ups, and I was very surprised when they didn’t know what to do with them either. Many pretend they know what to do with them, but from my research and probing, I find it not to be the case.

                    • oy

                      I did not reply directly to your post for lack of room.Ok thanks for your response. I was not applying the bubby argument. My point was that his attacks on the Kuzari argument could be similarly be applied to the Holocaust. I don’t think an untrue Holocaust story could be made up and be accepted, you and he does. I don’t think the basics of much history can be. This in itself is ultimately a probablilty game, with my past experiences deeming it improbable. You disagree, but you and he cannot claim that the Kuzari argument has no merit or substance.
                      As to the rest of your point, I appreciate your sentiment. I was confused if you meant Rabbi Schachter said that Judaism should rest on faith and not logic or he was unsure about how to go about doing kiruv with an intellectual atheist. Thank you for your response and I apologize if you perceived any of my responses as un becoming.

                    • Dave

                      There is more archaeological evidence for Homer’s account of the Trojan War than there is for the Exodus from Egypt. Does this mean that you believe the Greek Gods built the Walls of Troy (all except for that bit at the back)? Somehow, I suspect the answer is “no”.

                      Contrarily, the claims that the Kuzari depends upon (specifically the massive numbers) would have left a record. A record we simply do NOT see.

                      To answer your later argument; we have an enormous amount of evidence about the Holocaust. Not just because it happened recently, but because it happened in an era with film, photographs, mass travel, mass communications, or, for that matter, the printing press. If, two thousand years from now, those records are all lost, then yes, you would be unable to prove whether or not it happened. And, I submit, if those records were lost for thousands of years, whatever the claims were millenia later, they would not end up being accurate.

                      Your final point really sums it up; you have an emotional reason to believe your Grandfather. Now, since neither of my Grandfathers (nor my father) were Orthodox, nor did they believe that the Oral Law was handed down at Sinai. You would like me to believe *your* Grandfather over mine.

                      And the irony is, if I were to do so, by allowing you to inject *your* family tradition into my family, you would inherently invalidate the entire Kuzari premise. You would have demonstrated that all you need are persuasive and evangelical believers to inject a narrative into a generational tradition where it did not exist previously.

                    • oy

                      Your first point is irrelevant. We are discussing the Kuzari’s evidence fo the Sinai story. The greek god issue has no relevance other than it being a religious concept. Your analogy seems to show a distaste for religion rather than interest in logic.

                      Your second statement makes a few presumptions of which have no basis by themselves. That there must be a record and that there is no record is something that requires more than your personal opinion.
                      As to the Holocaust, I do believe if all photographic evidence was lost the passed down recounting of it by the Jewish nation would be enough. I would believe that it was improbable that the story of the Holocaust which claimed millions experienced was made up. You disagree, you wouldn’t believe in the Holocaust, fine. (A side point is that your argument for the dearth of evidence are used by Holocaust deniers today.)
                      As to your last point, your father or grandfather may not have been observant but if you go back a few generations, they probably all were. Your father also does not have a counter tradition, just the lack of tradition. Your final argument is not an argument against the formulation of the narrative but its continuation. In essence it is foolish for you to prove that the continuation is man made, that is obvious. Your burden is to prove the formulation as such.

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                      R’ Rietti has a very persuasive lecture he gives in which he parallels the actions we perform as part of Judaism’s living memorial to the exodus from Egypt and a contrived living memorial to the Holocaust of European Jewry, contrived in the sense that he asks the audience to suppose we are 200 years in the future and trying to keep the memory alive, whereas today, there are still survivors alive. But when you remove overlook the enthusiasm and comedy with which he so effectively delivers his presentation, you are left with nothing more than the argument itself, which is not very impressive to the minds of even the most average 21st century thinkers.

                      Dave has hit nearly every point I was going to make, but I’d like to just touch upon one thing that R’ Rietti emphasizes and which I think underscores the answer to one of the points you questioned.

                      The Holocaust happened within the lifetime of people who are still alive, and yet there are people, texts and even governments that make the claim that it didn’t happen or at least didn’t happen in the manner in which it is claimed, and they say that the magnitude of the claims are grossly exaggerated.

                      Imagine, if you will, 200 years in the future, and even the things Dave cites as evidence will be admissible but perhaps with some reservation. I don’t know how many tons of paperwork R’ Rietti quotes as being in the Pentagon from the writings of the Nazis themselves — maybe it was 4 tons or 20, but it doesn’t really matter. And there are even videos that the Nazi Germans made themselves.

                      But didn’t Steven Spielberg make a film about the Holocaust that appears to be very realistic, down to the naked ladies and Liam Neeson’s authentic German accent? With the advent of technology that have yet to be developed, can’t you imagine something that will change the way the world looks at evidence? The national board exam to become a diplomat of the American Academy of Periodontology used to require a candidate to submit some well-documented cases, upon which the examiners based one’s oral examination. Within the past 5-8 years, they changed the requirements so that they test you on cases that they’ve prepared — why? Because with the advent of digital photography, the risk of doctored photographs is too great. And what about Spielberg’s Forrest Gump, which is video footage of things that appear very real but that never actually happened? Tom Hanks shakes President Kennedy’s hand and Gary Sinise has had both legs amputated, but would you know that neither really happened if we didn’t let you in on the historical information and the premise of the film? So, yes, eventually the Holocaust may be forgotten because there are enough influential people out there who have an agenda, which can be contrasted to the facts surrounding, say, Lincoln’s assassination, which is not a very controversial/politically charged event in history and which, for the most part, has been preserved with little distortion over many decades.

                      Add that to the very specific nature of the evidence for the exodus from Egypt — I mean, you cannot possible think that anyone other than at least a student of archeology is really qualified to evaluate archeological claims. I have ignorant patients coming into the office all the time to tell me that they don’t want the metal fillings that cause cancer and autism, and from where do you think they derive their scholarly opinions? From Fraidy in the park. So who’s to say that the reported proofs from archeology are substantiated and justifiable? R’ Rietti quotes the work of William Foxwell Albright extensively, but makes no mention of the dubious nature of his research methods, which you can find by googling him or even reading his Wikipedia article (linked). That’s because rabbis tend to eschew scientific data when it goes against anything the Torah says, but rush to embrace it whole heartedly when it finds in favor of Judaism. It’s funny how that happens, but it’s even funnier when the evidence is overturned, for the rabbis are hardly in step with the data — they just use it to their advantage — so even when it’s rejected and replaced with new data, the rabbis are still feeding people the old data because it makes the Torah appear more substantiated. Really, though, for the true thinker, a rabbi using science to back up his claim should be peered at with scrunched up eyes and pursed lips, for it’s quite often the case that the data is funny.

              • Off the OJ

                I wasn’t referring to the Kuzari principle. I was referring to the book itself where the author critiques not only Islam and Christianity but also the lack of usefulness of philosophy, by which he refers to Greek thought in general.

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                  We can’t very well respond to you when you not only fail to properly cite your sources but also give over over only a vague gist of what you’re referring to — for we haven’t seen it.

  • tesyaa

    I meant to say, “this is why MANY people who are OTD or orthoprax keep it secret”.

  • Anonymous

    Is this satire :)?

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      Nope — it’s reality.

      • oy

        was that satire? Please let me have some hope for the human race.

      • http://hatthief.blogspot.com Meir

        Wow dude, this is almost as popular as Yitta Halberstam’s article on plastic surgery.

  • Phil

    Why don’t you invite this person to your house without any other guests. Then maybe a conversation will occur, (maybe over time) that may bring him up the latter to being more religious. Don’t forget the fifth son who refused to come to the seder. This person wants to come to your house. If he is not interested, at all, in becoming more religious he will turn down your invitation and you will know the only reason he wanted to come is because the other people were invited.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      Who said he hasn’t already been here or has not been invited for the following week?

      That’s not the issue here. My point was just to recount what happened this week, as I thought it would be interesting to the readers of this blog.

  • Moshe

    You attempt to offer a kiruv atmosphere, yet your belief in what you preach isn’t sufficient enough to allow an ex-tribe member the chance to enter your domain, let alone question your core tenants. If you’re so convinced that you have the truth, why wouldn’t you attempt to mikarev this lost soul. Are you trying to show your less religious friends that Judaism is all about being happy and one can never doubt or question the religion? Or are you just a giant dick?

    Shame on you.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      1) “I believe that what I preach is insufficient to withstand an ex-tribe member”

      That may be so, but it’s irrelevant, for that’s not the reason he’s being invited at a later date when the company consists of like-minded individuals.

      2) I may or may not attempt to be mekarev him. Just talking to him is an attempt to be mekarev him, but whether I take a more concerted effort remains to be seen — he might be resistant, he might have questions that surpass my level of expertise or something else might come up. But you have missed the point.

      3) Your argument should rest squarely on merit, not teeter on inflammatory rhetoric and profanity.

      In conclusion, your strawman arguments are not welcome here — oh, and shame on you.

  • Anon

    If you can’t do kiruv with someone OTD in the room, maybe you shouldn’t be doing kiruv. Obviously you can’t answer the hard questions.

    You know what they say about “ha’malbin pnei chavero b’rabim”. Who is the rasha now?

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      That’s a silly thing to say and you know it.

      Kiruv is incumbent upon all of us, just like dentistry is the thing that dentists do. If a clinical case exceeds the limits of a particular dentist’s knowledge or skill, it doesn’t mean that he needs to give up the field — he should refer that case out.

      So too, kiruv is something we must all do. If a particular case is too difficult, it doesn’t mean that all attempts must be given up. It means that such a case should be referred to someone else.

      And how is this leading to embarrassment in any shape or form?

      • http://abandoningeden.blogspot.com abandoning eden

        your analogy fails, because dentists can not practice dentistry independently at all until they have achieved a minimum level of competency, as indicated by a degree.

      • Anon

        By inviting his friends yet not inviting him, by dismissing him when he mentioned it, and finally, by refusing an invitation when he specifically came to ask for one. (For Passover, where kol dekhpin, no less!) Maybe he “said” he wasn’t upset, but it was clear even to you that he was distressed about this. Even if you aren’t religious, it should seem obvious that inviting a group of friends to an event and leaving one person out isn’t a paragon of menschlichkeit.

        You could have approached him when extending the invitation originally. You could have been honest and respectful to him, while making your intentions about the dinner clear. Of course, then the ball would be in his court to be honest and respectful with you, and not ruin your dinner with your friends. In my experience, people respond to honesty and respect with likewise.

        Maybe you have been excelling at ben adam l’makom recently, but ben adam l’chavero, could definitely use some improvement.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          Well, I explained very clearly to him that this is a kiruv event and that if he finds Judaism unappealing, his attitude will run counter to what I’m trying to do accomplish.

          And I was honest with him this time — I told him that he’s not invited because this is for people who might be interested in expanding their religious horizons, not for those who have been there, done that and find it objectionable to their tastes and desires.

          Maybe…but I don’t see this as constituting a violation of any sort.

          • tesyaa

            Well, I explained very clearly to him that this is a kiruv event

            BUT did you explain to the other guests that this is a “kiruv event”? Have you been upfront that you are trying to interest them in becoming more observant?

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              Alright — I mispoke when typing to you. It’s a pre-kiruv event.

              And there’s no reason to assume that full disclosure is either necessary or extends to that magnitude.

              • tesyaa

                Completely disagree.

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                  And I disagree with your disagreement, which brings us no closer to a resolution than I had with Abandoning Eden above.

                  Funny how all this heated debate surrounds such subtle aspects of personal taste, yet comes across as so full of substance when reading through the criticism.

                  • Dave

                    Frankly, he ought to explain to your mutual friends that he would love to be there, but you specifically refuse to invite him because you are trying to convince them to be Orthodox, and don’t want him there because he used to be Orthodox.

                    Especially since it is entirely true.

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                      I suppose he could do that and it wouldn’t be a falsehood. In all likelihood, though, they will never become Orthodox, in which case I would not have tried to convince them to be Orthodox. Kiruv is a step-by-step process and because the aim is not really only fulfilled by complete arrival at orthodoxy, that would only be my plan if I get there. It’s sort of like kol hamarbe harei ze meshubach.

                      However, it’s deeper than that. He’s not invited because he’s against Judaism. He’s chosen to drop the religion, and so he obviously has a negative view of it. If I were inviting them all to a charity event and he’s been a substantial donor in the past but now decides to withhold all of his pledges due to some psychological/emotional/finding-oneself sort of phenomenon, I’m not very well going to invite him. So for him to say that’s it’s just because he’s not Orthodox is misleading — although you did state “no longer Orthodox.” That’s the key point to focus on, but, of course, it can be spun either way depending on one’s inclinations.

          • Anon

            You explained it to him after the fact, and you were “honest with him *this time*”.

            This isn’t honesty and respect, and it’s disingenuous of you to attempt to portray it as such.

            Why didn’t you tell him about it the first time? When you invited the rest of your friends? You could have explained the nature of the gathering in advance. The fact that you chose not to, because you, as you freely admit “he knows all the tricks, and what’s worse, he knows that he knows all the tricks and he knows that I know it” seems to me like you think kiruv is “tricks”. Really?

            And he attempts to show his respect by offering to wear a kippa in your house, but you “can’t see yourself letting him”? How does that even fit in with your general kiruv agenda? You mean to prohibit him from doing a mitzva because it doesn’t fit in with your agenda or your view of him?

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              He doesn’t own these people and I am unaware as to these people’s living arrangements. Last time, I approached four people who I know are Jewish and asked them if they and their significant others would like to come for Friday night dinner. It was only after the fact that he came to me.

              And I still don’t know who rooms with whom and who’s friends with whom and what level of friendship they share.

              And I was speaking colloquially when I said ‘tricks,’ as in tricks of the trade. Had I said this about dentistry, would you have questioned my ethical stance on tricking patients into accepting treatment plans because I said that I am familiar with all of the tricks of the trade. Let’s not be ridiculous.

              And this is not about respect — it’s about the mood and the attitude of the event. He’s irreligious by choice and they are not. And the fact that he’s been religious makes it that much more difficult to engage his irreligiosity with kiruv methods, which is why I think he should be targeted for kiruv at a different time in a different way, perhaps.

              And let’s not ask me why I’m targeting him like a sniper and he’s a runaway convict.

              • tesyaa

                How do you know the others aren’t irreligious by choice? Maybe they don’t know much about Orthodox Judaism, but maybe they know enough to know it’s not for them.

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                  People vote with their feet.

                  • Anon

                    They are voting with their feet for a home cooked meal at a friend’s house, where they can learn more about the interesting culture of their friend. They can choose to be irreligious yet still accept an invitation to a Shabbat dinner. Do you think that only a rasha would think a Shabbat dinner is fun, and all these other friends are coming because they want to become Orthodox? And maybe in the end they won’t even want to be Orthodox, after all, and decide that being Conservative rachmana l’tzlan is more suitable to their lifestyle. Then you’ve actually done an aveira!

                    • tesyaa

                      Ha, I can’t believe you actually think people come for a Shabbos meal because they are interested in becoming religious, subconsciously or consciously. I bet they were all nice and polite when you told them about sheitels, too, but however nice they were, they definitely thought it was weird that a woman without hair loss or a medical condition, who is not in show business, was wearing a wig.

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                      If you’d please elaborate on how that’s an aveira.

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                      And what if this did not concern religion, which you find to be so emotionally charged. What if this were about me becoming friends with nice, pretty girls so that I could date them and marry them, but I didn’t meet them initially with a sign around my neck warning, “Beware: Single and Ready to Mingle — Wanna be Mine?”

                      Would you demand with nearly as much vigor that I make my goals evident at first blush? And does it matter if that’s the girls intent when she first meets me? Am I a deviant prowler that needs to be reported to the authorities, or is all fair in love and war.

                      Religion is one of those things that makes people very loud — both for and against. I knew it before, this confirms it as best as anything can, but I think your responses are too much.

                  • anon

                    or their stomachs

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                      The thread seems to have skipped around a bit and I don’t know what this is supposed to mean. :)

  • Moshe

    You also forgot that at least the rashah is allowed to sit at the seder and enjoy the cultural aspect of Judaism. So not only are you a giant twat, but your attempt to use haggadic sources to reason your exclusion completely fail.

    Good job, sir.

    • http://http//abandoningeden.blogspot.com abandoning eden

      good point, and he is also a giant hypocrite and violating the very principal he talks about in this article, “whoever is hungry let him eat, whoever is in need let him [make] Passover.” There’s a reason that’s the first part of the haggadah and note it says “WHOEVER IS HUNGRY” “WHOWEVER IS IN NEED” and not “whoever YOU want there” or “Whoever can be successfully kiruved”

      I think this actively excluding of someone from the seder after he ASKED to come violates the very basis of pesach seders. Not that I believe in them, but supposedly he does. Pretty ironic how in his quest to spread judaism, he’s violating it’s principals.

      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

        It’s not for the seder but for the second days of yom tov.

        And, again, I disagree with your opinion. He wants to be there because his friends are coming and not because he’s interested in Judaism, despite what he’s said. Had he been interested in Judaism, he would not have left.

        • http://http//abandoningeden.blogspot.com abandoning eden

          or maybe he’s just tired of the rigidity of ortho jews? You realize there are many other ways of being jewish besides being orthodox, right? “Traditional” jews (what you would call cultural jews) have more of a mesorah than orthodox jews do.

          • tesyaa

            AE, I think our comments crossed paths…

          • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

            I don’t imagine that he’s against the rigidity of Orthodox Jews as much as he’s interested in doing whatever it is he wants to do without the restrictions of Judaism holding him back.

            He complained to me that he’s never been happy and now that he’s left, he’s very happy. Is that a theological thing or because he’s fulfilled his lifelong desires? I don’t know, but it didn’t seem too philosophical to me. But perhaps he’s not explained himself as thoroughly as he could have.

            And no — I do not recognize any other form of Judaism than orthodoxy (with a lower case “o”).

            • http://http//abandoningeden.blogspot.com abandoning eden

              well clearly you do, you recognize what you think of as “genetic judaism” because these people you are all kiruving are not orthodox and yet you still think they are jewish.

              • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                You are twisting the matter.

                There is a religious definition of Judaism by existence and then there are those who are Jewish who comply and those who do not. Within those who comply, there are nearly infinite levels because there are nearly infinite things to do or not do.

                He is among those who are Jewish yet do not comply. When he refrains from turning the light on during Shabbos, it is not because it is Shabbos, and when he refrains from going to Red Lobster, it’s not because crustaceans are not kosher. He has completely removed himself from the group that observes but has failed to remove himself from the group that needs to observe, for Judaism maintains that there is no removal from the group.

                To summarize, he will do whatever it is that he chooses, but the great calculator in heaven that is measuring his merits against his demerits will continue to compute his destiny.

                And while there is still a requirement for me to bring him closer, I do not feel that I can do so adequately in the presence of his roommates or for his roommates in his presence.

            • G*3

              > I don’t imagine that he’s against the rigidity of Orthodox Jews as much as he’s interested in doing whatever it is he wants to do without the restrictions of Judaism holding him back.

              That’s disappointing coming from you. I wouldn’t have expected you to buy into the stereotype that people only go OTD so that they can throw off the ol hatorah and give in to their teivas.

              • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                He said he wasn’t happy and that now he’s very happy. I suppose you can interpret that how you’d like.

                But it doesn’t really matter, does it? He’s against Judaism and I’d like to show them a good time while being for Judaism. Maybe it’ll go nowhere, but that doesn’t defeat the goal.

                And that sterotype is not a stereotype — it’s reality.

                Everybody has a desire to sin — even my rebbe. But if there are rules and if those rules are authoritative and binding, one abides by the rules. There are slip-ups because we’re human, but complete rejection indicates something more than that. If the rules are not authoritative and binding, there’s no reason to follow them.

                So I don’t really get what you mean when you say that OTD doesn’t mean what you say it doesn’t mean.

                • G*3

                  Yes, everyone has a desire to “sin.” And yes, if the rules aren’t authoritative, then we don’t have to listen to them. BUT that doesn’t mean that the ONLY reason to go OTD is so that you don’t have to follow the rules. Most people who go OTD probably are relieved not to have to follow the rules. But lots of people go OTD because they don’t believe in OJ anymore.

                  The reasons that anyone radically changes their lifestyle are complex. That’s as true of going OTD as any other major change. The canard that people only go OTD because their hedonistic cretins who are looking for excuses to indulge every taiva is something the frum world tells itself so that it doesn’t have to worry that there might be real problems with OJ.

                  What’s so strange is that you freely admit that ultimately OJ is based on faith, yet you still malign those who leave Orthodoxy.

                  I can’t find the post now, but years ago Baal Habos had a post about how he followed halacha meticulously for years after he stopped believing in OJ, because he was influenced by the stereotype ad had to prove to himself that he wasn’t disbelieving just so that he could stop following halacha.

                  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                    1) Your conclusion was my premise — people leave orthodoxy because they no longer believe. It’s never the sinning itself, but necessarily the laxity in compliance with the rules that prohibit the sinning. If the rules really mattered, the sinning wouldn’t be worth it except for a once-in-a-while sort of deal that goes along with being human.

                    2) And so I don’t support that canard, for my focus is the authority of the rules in the mind of the OTD, not the taste of the sin.

                    3) When I malign those who leave, I’m speaking on behalf of Judaism. After much research, I can totally identify with those who go OTD, but that doesn’t make it acceptable in the eyes of Judaism.

            • shanamaidel

              So what about orthodox Reform? I have friends in that category.

              And to be truly meta – kiruv wouldn’t be an issue if you didn’t really recognize the other branches. They just don’t exist as Jewish people, so why bother?

              • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                I’ve never heard of that, so I googled it, but the only hits in the top ten that actually found those two words adjacent to each other in the source text referred to Christianity.

                But if it’s something you thought up, such as a strict adherence to the values of Reform Judaism, I’d have to say that nothing like that can truly exist because there is no unified Reform Judaism. It’s primary tenet is that adherents be free to do what they want and how they want to do it, and so speaking of anything cohesive in Reform Judaism is sort of silly. Because there are no boundaries, there are necessarily no out of bounds.

                But barring the influx of technical non-Jews from Reform conversion and patrilineal descent, Reform Jews are just as Jewish as the rest of us. How to confront the aforementioned — that’s a good question that perhaps I’ll forward to R’ Becher.

                • shanamaidel

                  There is also no unified Orthodox Judaism. There is no unified body that states Orthodox policy, Orthodox Halacha

                  Technically speaking, Reform Jews actually would be stricter in adhering than Orthodox Jews
                  because of the following:
                  1) There is only one Reform Body that puts together reform halacha, policy, and jewish thought (CCAR). Technically speaking, it is totally possible to be Jewish under Orthodox Auspices and not Reform as a result. (and I know of cases where this does happen, with interesting results)
                  2)Despite the Rambam and the ikkarim, the idea of id’ing people with them happened later, mostly post the Haskala. You’d have a hard time explaining some of the documents that appear in places like the Cario Geniza if that wasn’t the case.
                  3) You’re using a sociological definition of Orthodox and Reform, which may or may not hold true to any individual lay person who self identifies as Orthodox or Reform. Even if a given person does conform to those views, that doesn’t mean from a sociological point of view the Orthodox definition of being jewish is correct.
                  (and the fact that people want to impose it on the actual body of self-identitifying jews makes it difficult to actually do anthropological and sociological data gathering because it creates biases)

                  Also, technically speaking – Orthodox means “the true belief” and will always be a poor descriptor because Judaism never functioned well as a system driven by belief.

        • tesyaa

          Had he been interested in Judaism, he would not have left.

          That’s RIDICULOUS! There is more than one way to express one’s Jewish interests. You might have meant to say “had he been interested in my specific brand of Orthodox Judaism, he would not have left”.

          • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

            No, that’s what I meant.

            He’s left. He’s not interested. He wants to have a good time without anything holding him back. That’s what he meant when he said that he’s so much happier now that he’s left — because he can do as he pleases, not because he’s been trying to figure out why he should have to put tefillin on if there’s not really a God in heaven and now that’s he’s come to see there is no God, he doesn’t have to struggle with putting on the tefillin anymore.

            • tesyaa

              You are looking at his life in a very simplistic way. Even if that’s what he’s told you, it’s likely that there are other reasons he is non religious anymore than merely a desire to escape restrictions.

              • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                That’s what it sounded to me like it was based on — we had a nice 15 minute talk about it and that’s all he said.

        • oy

          Your whole premise of the article was the rasha in the haggaddah. When your premise is obliterated, it is disingenuous to weasel your way out now and say “It’s not for the seder but for the second days of yom tov.” I share some of your experiences, I happen to be a frum guy (arguably borderline yeshivish) in medical school, yet I found this article extremely distasteful and petty.

          • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

            It was partly tongue-in-cheek and partly inyanei d’yoma (in context with the holiday season). Had this happened in Elul (the month preceding Rosh Hashana), I would have written about him in reference to the sinners invited to prayer before the Kol Nidrei.

            You may have found it many which ways, although that doesn’t really matter. If you read the inflammatory posts up until now and then decided to post, your neutrality has been compromised and your distastefulness is hardly unbiased.

            There was no weaseling — it happened as it did and I’ve recounted it as accurately as I can remember it. Your excessive focus on which part of the Passover holiday I reference vs. which part the kiruv get-together in is what’s petty, if you ask me — but perhaps you’re not asking me.

            • oy

              I see, if I read the other posts my neutrality is compromised and I am biased. Since you are using that in your response, I believe that you believe that is a perjorative . You seem to be insinuating that thus I should not respond and that my response has no merit. Since you responded, and presuming that you are not a hypocrite, you must assume that your response has merit. You must thus assume that you, the author, is unbiased. Simple logic. HA
              As an aside I did not ask you, but I take your name-calling as a compliment. I am complimented that you had to resort to that response. Chag Sameach.

  • anony.

    The fact that the writer actually believes that it wouldn’t be kiruv for this “rasha” to attend these Shabbat dinners is so ridiculous? Do you really think that kiruv is ONLY for people who were never frum? Kiruv is for anyone… and you can bring someone closer to Judaism whether they are off the derech or just never had any connection to Judaism. This article really is pathetic… why would you tried to exclude someone just because they are off the derech?

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      As I’ve said above and below, I didn’t think that having him around would promote a positive outlook towards Judaism.

      • Anon

        Oh! And he’d give away the secret that your wife is wearing a sheitel. Can’t have that! You need an audience to be awed by the fact that she covers her hair with something that *looks just like real hair*! What a great mitzva.

        • tesyaa

          I have to say that the idea of the crowd giggling appreciatively over the wife’s sheitel is weird.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          As I said, I revealed that myself.

          And it is a great mitzvah — you’re just a cynic. Maybe you shouldn’t be around either when I host a Friday night dinner.

          • http://abandoningeden.blogspot.com abandoning eden

            No dissenting opinions in the Rosenbach house! You can either agree with everything he says, or get the hell out! That’s true torah judaism right there!

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              The people who are coming have dissenting opinions so I’ll take everything you said as cynicism.

              And no, someone who comes with the intent of making a mockery of Judaism is not invited, if that’s what you mean to want confirmation of.

              • tesyaa

                The people coming who have dissenting opinions are conveniently dismissed as tinokot shenishbu, I’ll bet, so their dissenting opinions don’t really count.

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                  And what is the person classified who does not appreciate Judaism because he wants to be free to do as he pleases classified as?

                  He might very well be classified as a tinok shenishba as well. Havnig been raised without an appropriate level of appreciation for the restrictions called for by Judaism, why would one comply with said restrictions?

                  That’s why I’m not judging him. Perhaps he’s completely absolved by heaven for acting this way — he’s just not someone who will contribute positively to a kiruv environment for those who have had little to no exposure to Judaism.

                  • tesyaa

                    He might very well be classified as a tinok shenishba as well. Havnig been raised without an appropriate level of appreciation for the restrictions called for by Judaism, why would one comply with said restrictions?

                    So, are 99% of the people with whom you differ on religious matters tinokot shenishbu? They obviously weren’t raised with the proper appreciation of tradition, etc. to see things your way.

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                      I can’t say for sure. Maimonides rejects this idea of being excused from obligation due to ignorance, but normative Judaism obviously don’t embrace his views on this matter.

                      I think you bring up a great point, which is one of the reasons we’re instructed not to judge other people if we can’t know their thoughts — and since we can’t do that, we can’t judge each other, sort of like how I have to wait until I wear their shoes…

                  • anon

                    “that’s why I’m not judging him.”
                    But you ARE.

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                      Judging can be used in many ways.

                      Most formally, it refers to weighing information and arriving at an opinion. In that sense, I’ve judged him. He’s cast Torah Judaism from his life and has arrived at a self-described “happy place.” For better or worse, Judaism calls that apostasy, which I compared to wickedness. Perhaps my parallel is wanting for more specificity, but for the purposes of this blog post, I think it suffices.

                      You may disagree with Judaism or with me, but that’s really immaterial. What I did mean, however, when I said that I’m not judging him is that I’m not passing sentence on him. I don’t know what happened to bring him here, I don’t know any of the circumstances and I’m not blaming him. The 38 year old single might have had a rough time, but if he’s not invited to the singles event because the cut-off is 35, those are the breaks. And same thing here — my intent is to have individuals who are at the same point in their lives and he’s the odd man out.

                      It does seem, though, that you and quite a few others here have judged me to a far greater degree.

            • Puzzled

              Not true – you can disagree, so long as you are ignorant and won’t get in the way. Oh, and yes, it is true Torah Judaism.

              • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                The threads are too fractured for me to really decipher the target of your cynicism, but it doesn’t seem like I’ll be too interested anyway.

          • Anon

            No cynics or ugly tichel wearing ladies at the Rosenbach Shabbat dinner! we don’t want to scare away our non-religious friends. Instead we’ll show how easy it is to get around those annoying laws like covering our hair- just cover it with a $5000 human hair wig. Because the more expensive the wig, the bigger the mitzva, right?

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              See…you know that’s not true yet you submit it anyway.

              You, sir, are a clown.

          • Anon

            The problem is the fact that you feel like you have to “reveal” that your wife is wearing a sheitel. That just seems weird. Maybe it’s not weird for you. I suppose you aren’t ffb or your circle is very different from mine, because we don’t talk about our wives headcoverings, or other items of clothing, at the dinner table, or really, at all.

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              If people don’t know and they find out during the conversation, that’s called revelation.

            • http://abandoningeden.blogspot.com abandoning eden

              I too had the thought that this guy sounds like he is a BT, not FFB. Are we right? Just curious…

              • Anon

                He went to MDS, MTA and YU so no- worse! He’s MODERN orthodox.

                • http://abandoningeden.blogspot.com abandoning eden

                  I grew up modern orthodox and I think his views reflect a world view that’s not the one I grew up with. I was repeatedly told things like that mitzvos bein adam lechavera are more important than mitzvot ben adam lemakom (although yes there plenty of lashon harah going around of course) , and this kind of thing would not have held water in my house.

                  Although my parents eventually stopped talking to me for a few years when I married my goyishe husband (but now they talk to me again), for years and years (like 7+ years) I was welcome at their shabbas table even when I was openly OTD and arguing with them all throughout shabbas dinner about how their beliefs were wrong, even when I was making those arguments in front of other shabbas guests. In fact when I tried to stop going to shabbas my parents tried to bribe me to come back, despite actively disagreeing with them and arguing with their ideas. Arguing was always encouraged. The judaism I knew growing up was always one of debate and arguments and yes, cynicism. Not of trying to trick people to be more religious by actively excluding people who may not paint the rosiest picture of judaism.

                  • tesyaa

                    I think I made the point in another comment, but I’m sure the guests have more sophistication than they’re being given credit for.

                  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                    One cannot compare the anecdotes of your parents’ reaction to your OTDness with that of me to someone who I barely know. I’d think you should have come to the same conclusion.

                    Are you suggesting that I should be bribing this guy to come under any circumstances rather than being selective as to which company is present when he’s here?

                    • http://abandoningeden.blogspot.com abandoning eden

                      no, and you know I’m not.

                      What I’m suggesting is that what you are doing is not the judaism I grew up with, and that I think you are cruel and wrong and cowardly for purposefully excluding someone who you are afraid might disagree with you, when arguing is a strong tradition among jews (see also: the talmud).

                      I am angry because I have been similarly excluded from community events because of WRONG assumptions that are made about OTDers, which you are perpetuating in this post. Also your entire attitude of superiority over your guests is somewhat sickening, but I suppose that’s to be expected from someone who engages in kiruv.

                      I’m even more angry for this man who you admit seemed visibly distressed although he verbally told you he was ok with it- seems to me like you really hurt this guy’s feelings and he was lying when he said he was ok. Why would he ask you to come if he didn’t feel bad about being excluded?

                      I don’t like people who would do something like what you freely admit to have done and seem to be almost bragging about how you hurt this person’s feelings. It’s attitudes like this which is WHY I left the jewish community. I have no problem with the jewish religion, I don’t personally believe it’s correct, but I have nothing against it, and that wouldn’t be enough to drive me out of the jewish community. Stuff like this is what drove me out.

                      **Responded to at the bottom**

                • http://www.hatthief.blogspot.com Meir

                  Also this article has gone over almost as well as Yitta Halberstam’s article.

                  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                    I had to stop reading her article online before I got to page two because it was too boring, and so I can’t comment.

  • rob

    To help the friend perform more mitzvot that he would otherwise do on his own is only a good thing, and a part of kiruv, no. Could the warmth of your shabbos table possibly have a positive effect on his frumkeit? Methinks you are a bit narrow-minded, and needing growth in ahavas Yisroel.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      I’m not sure. I think that mixing two very different types of people will make it less productive.

      • Anon

        Very different types of people? Come on, they are all Jewish dentists. How different can they be?

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          Vastly.

          One can be Jewish and not even know it, and that’s very different from being, say, R’ Moshe Feinstein. Most people fall somewhere in the middle, but that’s a large range.

          • Dave

            So, basically, you don’t want him there because he will interfere with your plans to try to seduce the other guests?

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              If your slant is such that you choose your words wisely as you did, there is nothing I can say to respond to you in a way that will find favor in your eyes.

              Kiruv requires an open mind. If this guy is bitter, upset or even just calmly apathetic, his presence makes a clear and open evaluation of Judaism improbable. But you knew that already.

              • Dave

                So, a “clear and open evaluation of Judaism” is only possible (or in your words, probable) if you can exclude anyone who both disagrees with you and is knowledgeable?

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                  When that person disagrees with the tenets of Judaism — that there is a God, that He is the God of Moses, that He’s provided legislation and a procedure to evaluation and tinker with it, that He cares what we think, what we say, what we do, what we eat and what we wear, that He is accounting for our actions in order to repay us for our merits and demerits — he is not going to promote a healthy atmosphere for kiruv.

                  And when one is knowledgeable about the many limitations and restrictions regarding the generalities that are to be first mentions, and one is antagonistic towards the religion, he will be a barrier to the flow of information towards to target of the kiruv, just like many of the people who have commented here would be obstacles to kiruv. A parallel can be drawn to an 8th grader being allowed to sit in on a 3rd grade science class — almost anything the teacher will say will have some sort of subtle inaccuracy and an 8th grader who may not be able to contain his enthusiasm will be a distraction. So too, this guy no longer sees Judaism as meaningful and should be excluded when one is trying to pass on the meaningfulness of Judaism to others.

              • Puzzled

                What is a clear and open evaluation? I’m guessing lots of oohing and aahhhing, an appreciation for the covering of the challah – while embarrassing our coworkers – a nonsense vort on the parsha… Why not add in some discussion about those who disagree, about domestic violence in the frum community, the treatment of women, the fights over kashrut certification…

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                  Heshy should really have a cynicism filter installed.

                  What do domestic violence and fights over kashrus have to do with Judaism?

                  • Puzzled

                    What they have to do with is kiruvniks presenting a false, deliberately misleading picture of Orthodox life to people who don’t know any better.

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                      But those things have nothing to do with Judaism — in case you missed it, that was my question.

          • shanamaidel

            I hope you realize
            a) Not universal. I have an orthodox! friend whose non-conversion (he’s a converso and was able to document it) was not recognized by the state of Israel.
            b) the Reform movement would require those people to convert. In that sense they are way more frum than Orthodoxy.

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              I’m not understanding what you’re saying. And Reform cannot be more religious than Orthodoxy because the former doesn’t recognize any truths of Judaism — whatever you want goes, which itself is antithetical to Judaism, which maintains certain truths about the history of the universe.

              • Dave

                Does the strawman make a pleasing thumpy sound when you hit it?

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                  Are you able to make a point or just reference concepts in attempts at comedy?

              • shanamaidel

                Actually, they can be.

                Furthermore, I would definitely challenge you on the idea that “the orthodox set of truths” is truer than “the reform set of truths” about Judaism. They come from very different starting points, descriptive of different elements of Jewish behavior. Furthermore, you’ll end up falling into that trap of postmodernism and post structuralism, where context matters, and even if something is true, it doesn’t make untrue other beliefs.

                Also, last note, please don’t speak for reform Judaism, let it speak for itself. Quote someone like Rabbi Yoffie or CCAR documents.

            • http://ha-mayvinyavin.blogspot.com/2012/02/you-dont-have-tv-and-none-of-your.html Alter Cocker

              shana, which post are you referencing?

  • http://ha-mayvinyavin.blogspot.com/2012/02/you-dont-have-tv-and-none-of-your.html Alter Cocker

    How does this guy being OTD make him a rasha?

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      I don’t know — what’s a rasha?

      • http://ha-mayvinyavin.blogspot.com/2012/02/you-dont-have-tv-and-none-of-your.html Alter Cocker

        it’s generally defined as a wicked person.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          But wicked in what sense? Is someone who refuses to give their wife a religious divorce considered wicked because he’s in tremendous violation of extending lovingkindness to one’s (soon-to-be-ex) spouse, but someone who openly violates the Sabbath in a capacity of knowing and intent is not?

          We can’t know for sure who is and who is not, but I put him closer to the category of a rasha than to that of the rest of the invitees, who are too uninformed to know what they don’t know.

          • tesyaa

            I also think you are implicitly being condescending to your guests (whom you probably regard as “children taken captive”). I think your guests are sophisticated enough to understand that not all Orthodox Jews remain Orthodox, just as they understand that some who are not raised Orthodox become Orthodox.

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              So there’s no need to remove bad examples when everyone’s an adult and it’s quite obvious that life is full of good examples and bad examples?

              This guy is Judaism’s bad example.

              • tesyaa

                Again, you think of people as objects (or “examples”), not people.

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                  And again, you’re being supercilious.

          • http://ha-mayvinyavin.blogspot.com/2012/02/you-dont-have-tv-and-none-of-your.html Alter Cocker

            “But wicked in what sense? Is someone who refuses to give their wife a religious divorce considered wicked because he’s in tremendous violation of extending lovingkindness to one’s (soon-to-be-ex) spouse, but someone who openly violates the Sabbath in a capacity of knowing and intent is not?”

            Yes.

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              I think you’re placing way too much emphasis on the parallel I’ve drawn and (perhaps deliberately, I don’t know) missing the point.

              • http://ha-mayvinyavin.blogspot.com/2012/02/you-dont-have-tv-and-none-of-your.html Alter Cocker

                I’m not deliberately missing any point. I’m just telling you that it’s wrong to group him like that simply because he perhaps doesn’t believe the same things you do.

                You claim not to be judging him but look at the title of your own blog post!

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                  The title of the article is meant to grab your attention, but in reading my post, you can sense that I overreach with the title for both intrigue and holiday-related reasons.

                  Didn’t you consider that I might have read my title before writing my post? I mean, it’s like your trying to prove your entire point by the cute Passover reference that’s clearly explained to be a step away from my actual position on this guy’s heavenly lot in life.

                  • Alter Cocker

                    I figured you knew what you were writing, so I responded to the title. The facts are the facts.

                    So I shouldn’t take what you write seriously because you’re just trying to get people’s attention? You’re responsible for your words.

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                      I wouldn’t say that — but take it in stride.

                      Article titles need to be flashy. No one can really know what’s in my articles before reading them, but somehow, this post is up to 180+ posts (let alone hits) while my regular divrei Torah usually have only 15 posts after 1 day up on the blog — I’d say the title has done its job.

  • tesyaa

    I guess if you are clearly “marketing” your dinner invitations as kiruv, it MIGHT make sense to exclude the OTD guy, if he doesn’t want to be “mekareved”. But do the 4 couples all know they’re invited as a pet project? Or do they think you just enjoy having them over for themselves?

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      I don’t exactly know what you mean by a “pet project.”

      And when doing kiruv, it’s not necessarily so that the people it’s aimed at are to be ambushed at every pass. If they experience something they’ve never seen before, they might want more. If I make them stay the night because when they’re here I tell them that driving home is forbidden, they won’t come.

      But this guy is not interested in Judaism — he just thinks he is. Maybe that will change, but for now, he’s against.

      • tesyaa

        Of course, if you only show them the fun stuff, “they might want more. ” Truth in advertising, please!

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          So you’re saying that R’ Becher misleads his audience by not first advising them that yeshiva tuition for 3 kids may exceed 35% of their salary?

          I don’t think so.

          And, what, exactly, is not fun in Judaism? If Judaism is true and accepted, the things it demands fall into line and are accepted as well.

      • tesyaa

        Would you have these couples over for a totally non-religious event, like a Memorial Day barbecue with your family, at which religion wasn’t mentioned except in passing? Would you have them over merely because you enjoy their company and want to have fun with them? If not, then these couples are a “pet project”.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          I don’t think they would be inclined to come for a Memorial Day BBQ, but it wouldn’t be out of the question.

          But the implicit purpose to to give them an opportunity to have a Shabbos meal — something they either never or rarely do.

  • zach

    I’ve often witnessed how kiruv folks often cannot fathom how someone might enjoy certain Jewish rituals but can’t abide by the belief system. (It’s often accompanied by an attempt to demonstrate logical inconsistencies on those who feel attachment to Judaism without being halachically observant. They ) Try and get over your difficulty understanding this and invite him over. If he truly “undermines” your efforts don’t invite him back.

    But your statement “So I won’t judge him — if he’s a rasha or not, that’s really between him and God” is belied by the title of your post “A Personal Encounter with the Rasha”. And here you come off looking like a jerk.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      That’s good point — but I’ll maintain that I speculate that he’s a rasha having gone off the derech for purposes of relaxing his necessary compliance with the restrictions that he’s been so happy to breach. So while I speculate to you that he’s a rasha, I don’t actually treat him like one. So when we’re all sitting around and he speaks up, I don’t confront the others, referring to him in 3rd person.

      I have a similar policy for having gentiles over — gentiles are purposefully not invited when the group of Jews come, although I’ll from time to time have some gentiles over for Friday night dinner, such as a girl in my class and her boyfriend who wanted to experience a Shabbos meal.

      And I may come off as a jerk, but rest assured that I’m not one.

      • anon

        “’ll maintain that I speculate that he’s a rasha having gone off the derech for purposes of relaxing his necessary compliance with the restrictions that he’s been so happy to breach. So while I speculate to you that he’s a rasha, I don’t actually treat him like one”

        But you are not judging him….

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          You can read my response above, which details a response to a very similar comment. Search for “happy place” because I use that term there.

          I think you’ll find that it responds to your point sufficiently.

      • http://www.hatthief.blogspot.com Meir

        You don’t get to decide whether you’re a jerk. Like beauty, jerkhood is in the eye of the beholder.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          But almost no one here knows me or even enough about the situation to be eligible to classify me one way or the other.

  • tesyaa

    The religion does not stand on its own merits and everybody knows that.

    Your guests do not know that upfront, unless you inform them.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      Some leading rabbis don’t know it either.

      And if things proceed positively, I’ll make sure to fill the guests in at the right time.

      • tesyaa

        And if things proceed positively, I’ll make sure to fill the guests in at the right time.

        The old bait and switch. I can’t believe you’re actually fessing up.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          Filling them into my initial objective — that’s what you call bait and switch?

          You’re way too emotionally charged about this, for this is how everything is done. Upon realizing that the guy in a movie planned to “run into” a girl he wanted to date so that he could become her boyfriend, do you shout at the TV that it’s the old bait and switch? Objectives are usually not revealed to be the same at the end as they were in the beginning, yet you slam me for the normative approach in human affairs, and I find that disingenuous.

          • Dave

            Depends, if the boy invites the girl to a party making sure that all the other men invited are either part of a couple (where both halves are present), or gay, or both, such that he is the only single straight man there, yeah, that’s kinda creepy.

            Sort of like making sure you exclude anyone who might interfere with your evangelism.

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              That’s exactly what I’m doing — remove obstacles to the evangelism. I thought I was pretty clear about that in the original post some 230 comments ago, but perhaps the original purpose has gotten befuddled.

              This guy is, for all intents and purposes, a rasha. He excludes himself from Judaism, which is exactly how we describe the rasha at the seder. But kiruv overlooks this to some extent — it is less strict than the haggadah. Certainly, the strict tone of the haggadah is not meant for the guests I am inviting, who similarly don’t keep the Torah but don’t know any better — yet you don’t seem to take issue with the haggadah.

              Judaism’s stance is clear — if you remove yourself from the obligation, you are a denier of all. Unlike R’ Slifkin and myself, you are an actual kofer and not just a colloquial one.

              But then there’s kiruv, and telling this guy to his face in a stern and reprimanding manner that he’s a rasha and is cutting himself off from whatever Judaism has to offer — both in this life and the next — is not helpful because that probably won’t scare him. If he’s gone to yeshiva high school, he already knows this and hitting him over the head with it will either make him angry or laugh, neither of which gets me any closer to helping appreciate Judaism more, and because he likely won’t respond in a favorable manner, giving him mussar is no longer a requirement. In a sense, kiruv for someone like this might also be out of the question, but that all depends upon him, really.

          • Puzzled

            Sounds pretty creepy, actually. But that’s ok, you might not understand secular dating rituals. Maybe I should invite you out to the club and makarev you. But I won’t allow anyone who left the PUA scene to be around.

  • Anonymous

    Jewish lotto. If that non-observant Jew loves Judaism because of my kugal, I win!!!!!! yay!!!
    Dude get out of the spiritual scoreboard mentality they drill into you in Yeshiva.
    This is why so many people can’t stand frum Jews (I’m frum).

    Also, this is not effective kiruv at all. You ask any kiruv professional what really hooks the marks in, it is the GENUINE warmth and caring for the other person.

    Work on loving every Jew unconditionally first.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      I take it that you’ve missed the point of my post entirely.

      I was just relating that I’m selective as to who I have over together — not that I reject this non-invited guest as a person. I don’t think it promotes a positive atmosphere for those who are irreligious to have another person present who’s less religious then they are but who used to be as religious as they might become. You may disagree — and you can mix your guests accordingly — but this speaks nothing of the effectiveness of either the kiruv aimed at the other guests or at this particular non-invited guest.

  • Reb Noach

    DRosenbach- it seems that there is something amiss in your approach as well as your thought process, at least as evidenced by the near unanimous outpouring of derision that your post has elicited. Having read through these comments I think they are all trying to say the same thing. Which is that frum people tend to view other Jews in very rigid and categorical ways. They see the world as there are the frum (people who are like me), the not frum (people who reject being frum) and those who know nothing. In reality, at least in my experience, nobody fits squarely in to any one of those categories. Your OTD friend hasn’t sat down and researched deep halachik and philosophical issues and then chose to join up with the other (non-frum) team. It’s not like he’s now gone over to the dark side, never to return. Rather, I suspect, being frum as you define it, was not working for him on some level. That does not mean that he does not ever want to observe certain rituals, that he will never observe any Jewish practices or that if he were exposed to Jewish practices he would lash out like a caged beast. I suspect that if he was interested in going to a yom tov meal at your frum house, he would have enjoyed being there. Perhaps what you are saying is that you have a need to be the teacher and these other folks are your ignorant students and if the OTD guy was there you would have to cede some of your teacher role to him. Please stop thinking of OTD folks in such a rigid way. Sure, there are OTD folks who do the “I never want to step foot in” a religious practice thing, but those are pretty easy to spot (dead give away: they wouldn’t want you to invite them to your house on yom tov). For the rest, don’t think of them as having joined the “rasha” team, just think of them as free agents who are exploring or maybe just put the whole religious thing on hold for a while to just chill.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      You should have been the first post.

      And you may be right — but it’s not just him lashing out, for I don’t think he’s do that. It’s that he undermines the message. Everyone’s on their own level, as you’ve noted, and so direction is a much better indicator. He’s on his way down, and while they may very well be neutral and not going anywhere up anytime soon, it is my sense that organizing an event to promote increased understanding and observance calls for avoiding things that are in direct opposition to this message, and he’s an obstacle to that end, even if he doesn’t say a thing.

      And you can disagree — that’s what this is all about. But at least you were open and presented your position. I’m open and I’ve presented my position, and they conflict. I’ll think about it more and perhaps there’ll be a follow-up post at a later date recounting future occurrences in the course of events.

      Thanks for your comment.

      • Reb Noach

        “Undermines the message.” If you really feel that way, please re-read my post. Are you living in China or the Soviet Union in the 1950′s? This guy is a person, not a message.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          He’s not the message, the message is the message. And this guy, with his nonchalant disregard for Judaism’s core ideals, values and yes, can I say the word message, is diametrically opposed to these ideals and values — so why include him? Just because he wants to have fun next Thursday night?

  • almost-BT

    As someone who considered becoming a full-fleged BT (in no small part due to kiruv efforts and Shabbat dinners), and is still wavering somewhere on the thresholds of observance, it takes a lot more than tasty kugel, perceived family harmony, and zemirot to “take the leap”. Especially when the chumras, prejudices, and sinas chinam one can observe in the frum world, become more apparent. It seems like there was a relatively small window of time when I was truly awed by what I saw. Then, the questions started to pile on again.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      That’s a great post.

      And I don’t know what to say in response to that other than, “yeah, I hear.”

      And so, even if you’re not belligerent or hateful, I think it might be detrimental to others at a kiruv event if you were sitting there next to them. Do you disagree?

      • almost-BT

        I don’t necessarily disagree with your motivation, I understand that there are always nuances that come up when selecting a group of guests (and that applies to any event, not just Shabbat), and plenty of situations where mixing certain people together could be awkward or counterproductive.

        This post seems more like a teaching point, though, than simply a recounting of the events, since you tie the whole incident to “the 4 sons”. That’s where I get less comfortable. Your attitude toward your OTD friend has a chip-on-the-shoulder feel to it, because he, despite a similar background, is now unabashedly having fun after casting off obligations. As long as your friend did not plan to openly wisecrack, making the whole rasha analogy, even with the non-judgmental qualifier, comes across to me as a bit harsh.

        I can’t claim to understand how an ex-FFB person may feel or why they’d want to ever join a Shabbat table again (although the character of Hodaya in “Srugim” is one such example). Many Jews in the world that I come from (i.e. the non-orthodox 85 %) do derive spiritual meaning out of partial observance, whether due to ignorance, convenience, or simply a belief that even what little they do has some merit. Whether such spirituality is illegitimate, is not something I’d like to debate – just wanted to contribute a perspective from the “other side”.

      • Puzzled

        Ahem. So the point is to hook them in, and then leave them like this guy, stuck between two worlds, and no longer invited? Cool.

  • http://offthed.blogspot.com OTD

    I think it’s quite clear that you’re jealous of his freedom and think by excluding him from your parties you’re somehow punishing him for having a better life than you. It is pathetic that you can’t see past kiruv for the “friends” you do invite, and that you refuse to invite this seemingly awesome dude because he might screw up the kiruv, or more importantly, REMIND YOU of the life you could have lived. I have rarely seen a worse example of judgmentalism and outright cruelty in the frum world, especially in the Modern Orthodox world. You really should be ashamed of yourself. Your so-called “friend” is fortunate to not attend meals with you, and I hope your more “tinok shenishba” friends also have the zchus to be disinvited from your house of hate in the near future.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      That’s a really wacky way of interpreting all of this. I like how you turn everything around — it kind of reminds of of Ender’s Shadow.

  • tesyaa

    I actually understand why you don’t want to invite this friend with the “friends” you are trying to make frum. But you really seem to treat people as mitzvah objects, not human beings with feelings and intelligence. I can’t imagine you would maintain contact with an invitee if, for example, you found one had a non-Jewish mother.

    Even the commenter who says you should work on loving every Jew unconditionally is off; you should work on appreciating people (Jewish and non-Jewish) for themselves, not for what they might become.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      I think you have no idea what you’re talking about. You don’t know me, you put these friends in quotes and you and probably everyone else has completely misunderstood the situation.

      One previous invitee has a non-Jewish father and a non-Jewish girlfriend, explaining that has mom can’t complain because she did the same thing. But I am a new friend and can’t make any comments or probe deeper than that… so I don’t.

      Perhaps that’s why you and the others are so upset — because you’ve been envisioning something that is not.

  • tesyaa

    You also haven’t clarified if the other invitees are aware that they are part of a “kiruv event” or if they think they are merely invited to a Sabbath dinner at the house of a friend who keeps traditional rituals.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      They are one and the same. My objectives, both implicit and explicit, will change and increase in intent as the Shabbos dinners compound. For now, it’s just ‘come over and let’s have Shabbos.’ It might never get past that, though, because the academic year is almost up.

    • tesyaa

      You’ve answered like a dozen other questions, but you’re not getting to this one.

      • tesyaa

        Thanks for your response, but you weren’t clear if you were upfront with your guests that they are kiruv targets.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          “Hey Mark* (name changed to protect the real identity), I was wondering if you’d like to come over for a Shabbat dinner…have you ever done that before? You can bring your girlfriend and so-and-so is also coming and also this person and that…how does that sound?”

          That approximates what I say to invite these people. I think it’s silly to even suggest that all kiruv targets be forewarned, but in case you’re machbid, let me get this out now — my purpose here on FrumSatire is kiruv as well.

          • Dave

            Well, at least on the last part, you’re not doing so well.

            In fact, I’m going to dedicate all of the treif this Pesach to you and your efforts…

            • http://abandoningeden.blogspot.com abandoning eden

              great idea, I’m going to have one of my bacon covered matza balls in his z’chus.

          • otd bec

            “my purpose here on FrumSatire is kiruv as well.”

            epic fail.

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              cute

  • kishmir

    TAhe only thing I wwould add to my comment, which was first in the comment string is that you are a dishonest coward.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      I disagree with both parts of your accusations and would very much enjoy an elaboration of both terms used, focusing primarily on definition and relationship to me as well as analogies to everyday life.

      After failing to do so adequately, I think all will find that the aspersions you seem to cast with such ease are much more a function of you being an anonymous poster than anything having to do with me.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

    **Reply to Anon above**

    no, and you know I’m not.

    I thought that was part of your argument — contrasting me being selective as to who I invite vs. your parents who thought to bribe you to come.

    What I’m suggesting is that what you are doing is not the judaism I grew up with, and that I think you are cruel and wrong and cowardly for purposefully excluding someone who you are afraid might disagree with you, when arguing is a strong tradition among jews (see also: the talmud).

    It’s not an issue with hesitation towards disagreement. It’s a hesitation towards his adversarial position towards Judaism while others, who do not necessarily share said opposition, might take a fresh look at things. Should he sit next to them at the table and make derisive comments, that’s very hurtful to my goal of giving them a more positive outlook towards Shabbos than they might have now. Arguing is not to be a free-for-all — it’s best and most productive in an ordered sequence, and it’s difficult to maintain order when everyone is coming from a different perspective and one cannot speak in generalities because another picks on specifics. When the time for specifics come, if it does come, it’ll be more one-on-one and issues of conflict between rationalism and faith can be dealt with. His absence is not planned so that I can say ridiculous things without anyone being wise enough to catch on.

    I am angry because I have been similarly excluded from community events because of WRONG assumptions that are made about OTDers, which you are perpetuating in this post. Also your entire attitude of superiority over your guests is somewhat sickening, but I suppose that’s to be expected from someone who engages in kiruv.

    You are now sterotyping me while decrying my apparent sterotyping of you. I can’t speak as to your situation because I don’t know you, and it really doesn’t matter for this conversation — that can be discussed elsewhere or not. And what sort of superiority do you suppose I have? If me knowing what’s going on when we wash our hands and say a blessing after we wash but before we dry makes me superior because I know more, than I suppose I’m superior. If I am religious and they are not and Judaism’s goal is for all Jews to be observant and I’m closer to that end than they are, then yes, I suppose you can consider that superior. But I don’t really know what you’re trying to get at other than being argumentative for the sake of blowing off steam because someone wronged you way back when.

    I’m even more angry for this man who you admit seemed visibly distressed although he verbally told you he was ok with it- seems to me like you really hurt this guy’s feelings and he was lying when he said he was ok. Why would he ask you to come if he didn’t feel bad about being excluded?

    He was not visibly distressed. He asked me why I didn’t invite him, I told him why, he told me that it was cool, and I told him that I didn’t believe him because had it been cool, he wouldn’t have approached me. Then I explained why I didn’t invite him and that was that. Perhaps I’m overthinking this, as he stated, but those were my thoughts at the time of inviting them and not him. If I’m having a bowling party and he’s not invited, he’s upset because bowling is (let’s say) fun, and he wants to have fun. This, however, is not about fun — it’s about having a religious experience. All the repeat invitees enjoyed themselves enough to accept the second invitation and that’s that. It will be they who make the first move, not me, to advance this towards more standard kiruv-type activities. But I still maintain that this OTD guy’s presence can very well compromise the mood of the evening — one of curiosity and intrigue and interest and questions.

    I don’t like people who would do something like what you freely admit to have done and seem to be almost bragging about how you hurt this person’s feelings. It’s attitudes like this which is WHY I left the jewish community. I have no problem with the jewish religion, I don’t personally believe it’s correct, but I have nothing against it, and that wouldn’t be enough to drive me out of the jewish community. Stuff like this is what drove me out.

    Your as free to like me as I am to dislike you. But since you dont’ know me, I’d advise against that — just like I’m not actually intending to dislike you. Altogether, this amounts to nothing more than a disagreement over taste and attitude. Like in the examples above, I can make a singles event and you insist on Girl X coming and I nix her because she’s exceedingly fat and all of the guys are very tall and thin. Will she feel bad? Maybe. But if she comes, the guys might be upset and not come to any more events. Or Guy Y might be 38 years old and all the girls are between 25-28 and they’ll be upset if Mr. 38 comes. Will he resent it? He might, but that’s the way the world works. We can’t please everyone and if I feel his presence will compromise the (future) objective of the night, I can’t really see the urgency or adamancy of your position.

    And this is not what drove you out — you just said you don’t accept the validity of the religion’s claims.

    • http://abandoningeden.blogspot.com abandoning eden

      I think what is driving me crazy is all these assumptions you keep taking for granted that just do not jive with my experience.

      Why do you assume he has an adversarial position towards judaism? Nothing you have said has indicated this is so. I know many OTDers, and it’s very untrue that they all have adversarial to judaism. Many drop observance but don’t really question the religion, and feel guilty all the time but just can’t keep up with all the rules, or can’t be bothered to go to the effort it takes.. Many don’t like the particular brand of judaism they grew up in . Many have intellectual reasons for disagreeing with it but don’t hate the religion. Many even stay partially religious even though they no longer believe in it because they like the religion than much! Why is it such an all or nothing proposition with you? If he’s not fully observant anymore he has to be “adversarial” to judaism?

      Why do you assume he would make derisive comments at the event? is he in the habit of making derisive comments? I’ve been to many religious events since going OTD and I would always dress according to their tsnius rules and not argue about religion, because I’m not a douche, and I don’t know a single OTD person who would go to the house of someone they weren’t related to and start making derisive comments about their religion. I think it’s insulting that you assume he would do this because he is OTD.

      you say he was not visibly distressed but in your original post you said “He seemed upset but insisted that he was not” which seems like “visibly distressed” as in distressed in terms of body language. I don’t know a single dude who would admit to another dude that he was upset about somethign he did and not just try to say it was all ok. That’s not really done in polite society. Which I’m betting your friend has, which leads me to believe you are seriously misjudging him on the derisive comments thing as well.
      Like even your fake example has wrong assumptions in it. Why would you assume that just because someone is tall and thin they would not be attracted to a fat woman? There are many men attracted to heavier women, it’s not like everyone wants to match up with someone the exact same size as them, who are you to prejudge who will be attracted to whom? Heck I have an uncle who is over 6 feet tall and skinny who is married to a woman who is probably 5 feet tall at the most who is very fat and has been the whole time I’ve known her (and was at her wedding as well, i’ve seen the pictures) and they seem to love each other very much and have been married over 35 years.

      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

        I will respond in reverse order.

        1) My example of the singles event was from personal experience. I know of a singles event at which guys and girls were selected very carefully so as to prevent anyone perceived as being a loser, fat or ugly. Whether that’s politically correct or nice is besides the point — what’s fact is that singles event planners have a difficult time getting singles to agree to come. Guys want to know which girls are coming, girls want to know about the guys and, frankly, when too many names come up that are of people who the single knows already or knows of as meeting one of the aforementioned “exclusion criteria” on their lists, they no longer want to attend. But it doesn’t really matter if it happened or not — the point is that it can happen. I have a friend who’s a kohen who doesn’t want to go to events with divorced girls. But what if there’s someone who’s not a kohen. If you can turn a guy or girl down for a date because he or she is divorced, why can’t you decide not to attend a singles event if there are divorcees or widows there? You can ask to make sure there are no blonde girls if that’s not your cup of tea. Ergo, the event planners who needs to deal not only with one person’s eccentricities but those of 30+ individuals (thirty or more, not 30 years old and above, just to be clear) can also be super selective. You may disagree, but that’s life. Call it profiling — it’s apparently necessary. Sure, these “rules” are broken all the time. You meet some cute guy and hit it off over Shabbos while visiting a friend and then you happen to see him somewhere else and you’re just so into him…all of a sudden, it doesn’t really matter when you find out that he made a big mistake in his life once before, married the wrong girl and is now divorced. My wife is more than 2 years older than me, yet most guys wont consider a girl once they hear that. Why? It doesn’t matter for our purposes here. What matters was that my fake example wasn’t fake and has no wrong assumptions because it was meant to be a model. Perhaps not your model, but definitely a model.

        2) I feel like we’re in a court room and we’re all trying to figure out if the witness remembers exactly if and, assuming it to be true, how distressed a certain person was some far off time ago.

        I can’t remember exactly what this guy’s facial expressions were at the time. I just know that if he came over to talk to me about it, that it must have bothered him enough to do so. But I explained my position firmly yet with a smile. He’s a nice enough guy, but if he’s not shomrei Torah u’mitzvos, I don’t think he’s good company during a Friday night dinner aimed at increasing people’s awareness of Torah Judaism. Perhaps it’s because of what Rabbi Noach wrote above — he’s more than likely be seen as an authority at the table, and not that I would have to compete per se, but he would detract from the mood, the tone. These were just my feelings at the time, and again, perhaps I made too much of it. You can’t really measure of compute tone and mood, and so there’s no way to really counter my feelings. Unlike most posts, where I’ll admit I do intend to take an authoritative stance on the premises I establish and the proposals I try to squash and the positions I attempt to advance — and yet each is really free to end the day by feeling as they will, uncoerced — that was not the case here. This chain of events happened and, although I don’t regret how I handled the situation, I did think it was something that could be fleshed out and brought to light with open debate and fresh ideas. To be honest, and it’s quite striking to me that I’ve been called dishonest as many times as I have here today, this should have been your first post for the day. We should have skipped over all of the previous aggressiveness — but alas, we are here now.

        I don’t know what he’ll do and I don’t know what he’ll say. But I do know that he doesn’t keep the mitzvos anymore — that much I’ve heard from another colleague. So what? Neither does anyone else! Yes, but they never have and maybe never will. He has, and that introduces such a stark difference in the group that I felt it much smoother to not have him around. In fact, I didn’t even know that they are apparently ‘an item,’ if you will, of 4 roommates, and I still don’t really know who lives with whom and who’s friends with one another. I just make sure with one person that all invitees (prior to invitations being given) are cohesive enough to have an enjoyable evening. I never asked for suggestions and none were ever provided.

        And so this is really all in retrospect just something I was thinking about and thought we could all take a look at and discuss. Did I do the wrong thing? Did I make a wrong decision? I don’t think so. I think the atmosphere will be much more relaxed with all of the guests on the same page. Does this other guy need help? Does he want my help? Does he want to hang out with me? Time will tell — he seemed to think about my position and, although he disagreed with me, he was much more cordial that most anybody here was. Funny how you’re all fighting his fight, as though he’s not able to curse me himself. Or perhaps it’s because I know him personally and he knows how it all went down, while all of you are hanging out there in cyberspace behind a shroud of anonymity and have no qualms about throwing everything you’ve got at me whether it’s deserved or not.

        3) Making comments — alright, I’ll give that to you. Perhaps he’d make no comments. But I think he’d respond to comments. And even if he wouldn’t, again, I felt it could be an issue of tone, of mood. Everyone on the same page.

        4) And adversarial does not have to be taken as strongly as it can be applied — an adversary is an opponent, and enemy perhaps, but it can also be taken lightly, as one who opposes. This guy opposes Judaism. He used to learn gemarah and Rashi and Tosfos and now he’s chosen to violate Shabbos and eat at McDonalds. That makes him an opponent. Is it necessarily for or against? Alright, he’s a very sweet tempered OTDer, but he’s still chosen to take that step to leave the fold completely. Can he hop right back? Perhaps. Is it likely? I can’t say I know him that well. Where’s he going and what will be his future? I don’t think anyone knows that. But I just don’t think he’s the right guy to have at the table when I’m trying to explain to people what Judaism’s about — whether by word or by action — and he’s sitting there having tossed it all to the side.

  • almost-BT

    I don’t necessarily disagree with your motivation. I understand that there’s always nuances that come up when selecting a group of guests (and that applies to any event, not just Shabbat), and there are plenty of situations where mixing certain people together could be awkward or counterproductive.

    This post seems more like a teaching point, though, than simply a recounting of the events, since you tie the whole incident to “the 4 sons”. That’s where I get less comfortable. Your attitude toward your OTD friend has a chip-on-the-shoulder feel to it, because he, despite a similar background, is now unabashedly having fun after casting off obligations. As long as your friend wasn’t planning to openly wisecrack, making the whole rasha analogy, even with the non-judgmental qualifier, comes across to me as a bit harsh.

    I can’t claim to understand how an ex-FFB person may feel or why they’d want to ever join a Shabbat table again (although the character of Hodaya in “Srugim” is one such example). Many Jews in the world that I come from (i.e. the non-orthodox 85 %) do derive spiritual meaning out of partial observance, whether due to ignorance, convenience, or simply a belief that even what little they do has some merit. Whether such spirituality is illegitimate, is not something I’d like to debate – just wanted to contribute a perspective from “the other side”.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      Alright — I’ll take that one in the spirit in which you’ve typed it.

      The tie-in was obvious — it’s Passover tomorrow night and we speak about the four sons and the rasha’s the guy at the table who opposes Judaism and this guy opposes Judaism and he’s now a public Shabbos violator, as well as a kashrus violator and apparently an everything else violator as well. He’s happy now because he’s free, and those were his words. Perhaps, though, I came across as too instructional. This was meant more as a recounting of events for discussion purposes than my regular dvar Torah, but perhaps that wasn’t clear. I can’t read my posts like you do because I write them, and when I read them, it’s just me editing my own posts — I can’t see them through your eyes no matter how much I try. So perhaps it’s been filtered through that lens and I should have done a better job of compartmentalizing this into a new category of DRosenbach posts.

      There’s a fine line when dealing with people who are not religious — there’s what’s alright in society and then there’s what’s right in religion. What this guy has done is completely against the rules of Judaism. Not only has he broken the rules, he’s effectively stated that the rules no longer apply to him. But how can I say that in front of his friends, his roommates it turns out? I can’t. If someone were to ask, “so you do this and he does this and I do this…wow, what’s up with that?” I’d be faced with a question about pluralism that I couldn’t answer in front of this guy because that would be too much embarrassment. He is what he is and it’ll turn out as it does, but I can’t have him at the table and risk having this conversation occurring.

      So I thank you for your civil post, I find your insight valuable and hope that you continue to visit FrumSatire to read my posts. Many Jews apparently derive spiritual meaning out of what I try to bring to the table every week, even if they don’t comply with observance 100% — but that was never what this was about. It was about keeping things balanced.

      • almost-BT

        Thanks. I’m a longtime FrumSatire reader, and this post is the first I decided to comment on. So you must be doing something right by generating this discussion, even though many don’t agree with you… As long as it’s “for the sake of heaven” ;)

        • Alter Cocker

          why is it a good thing to create a post that gets a lot of comments? In this case, it generated a lot of comments because of how wrongheaded the author’s approach is.

          • almost-BT

            It gets people thinking and evaluating their own positions. The author of the post then gets to see another perspective. As long as the discussion doesn’t get too nasty, a win-win.

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              Thanx for your positive comment.

              Apparently, there’s someone going around tallying up the comments regardless of merit of argument or value of point, so this ought to help me out.

  • sol

    What a hatefull son-of-a-gun. Part of teaching love and religion is to teach tolerance and understanding. And if he’s wrong, you should able to show them why he’s wrong without having to shut him out.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      I’d like to see you do that and the posters here criticize you for embarrassing someone in public.

      We’re all supposed to be friends, so how could I do that?

  • Micah T.

    So, another side of DRosenbach. Let me begin by saying that I agree with you regarding the OTD colleague, and your decision not to invite him. While I think that there are many ways of being Jewish (perhaps you won’t agree) The important thing is not where you are on the ladder, but whether you are going up or going down. You have to, however, be somewhere on the ladder. Your OTD colleague has, unfortunately, left the ladder. This has consequences.

    Thank you for consistently being an articulate, civil proponent of Orthodoxy. I think you are much more qualified than most to do kiruv. I also think your Jewish colleagues are lucky to have you as their guide.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      Thanks for your words of encouragement — have a good Yom Tov and a great Shabbos.

  • Walter

    Darchei Noam – oh great……. Passover is here, now I will have to deal with the black hatters……………… maybe one person can say hi to me in shul.

  • Leah

    I wonder what the other couples would think if the rasha recounted the author’s explanation of why he wasn’t there.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      Maybe it’ll be like the Disney books that tell the Cindarella and Snow White stories from the perspective of the evil stepmother and evil witch who, surprisingly, comes out as quite the victims in these versions.

      • Leah

        Or maybe, because I don’t think anyone imagines you as an evil witch– people don’t usually bother arguing with others if they aren’t confident in their general likelihood to do good– they’d just see the flipside of the inclusivity and warmth of your gatherings, and be a little disenchanted.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          Or maybe they’ll not understand the profundity and subtleties of the situation. Better yet, I’ll ask one of them and perhaps include it in a future post.

    • T

      That would counteract the Kirov, me thinks.

  • http://coinlaundryblog.blogspot.com/ Cohen Laundry

    If your non-Orthodox colleagues don’t take the bait, and indicate that they cannot be mekareved, does that mean that will be excluded from these gatherings too? Or will they be invited with your OTD friend to a different event for “lost causes”?

    I wrote a post on kiruv recently from a secular perspective, in case you’re interested in how some audience members may perceive your actions.
    http://coinlaundryblog.blogspot.ca/2012/03/question-about-kiruv.html

    The universally appalled reactions to your post serve as a far more positive reflection of frumkeit than your post. Whether or not you know it, you owe your OTD colleague a colossal apology.

    • tesyaa

      CL, so glad you showed up on this thread! Was going to leave a comment on your blog with the link, but I was too busy commenting, uh, working.

      • http://coinlaundryblog.blogspot.com/ Cohen Laundry

        Thanks tesyaa . . .I’d been following – mouth ajar – from the beginning . . .just baby in hand, it’s sometimes hard to type!

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      Universal in what sort of way? From the perspective of the classical FrumSatire reader? Who is the classical FrumSatire reader…I can’t really tell.

      I know that at least one of them is a female who’s married to a gentile, but other than that, I know very little. Is that who I upset by my actions? A person who has similarly cast Judaism to the side? I might as well ask the very OTD guy who I did not invite, but I already know what he had to say about this, and 10 more of the same type of person serves to provide no greater insight as to the potential errancy of my actions.

      • http://coinlaundryblog.blogspot.com/ Cohen Laundry

        >I know that at least one of them is a female who’s married to a gentile

        Oh . . as long as the people you are offending are not JUST LIKE YOU . .that’s A- okay!!!

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          Well if everyone who’s reading is part of a cohort that sees everything I say as reflecting mental illness because of my religious inclination, their opinions are hardly relevant here. And if everyone who reads has married a gentile, they can hardly be objective when I state that marrying a gentile is a terrible religious crime and serves to basically cut them off from the larger Jewish community at large and they complain that they don’t feel cut off at all because their mother attempts to bribe them to attend Shabbos meals. So, yes, it most definitely matters who is arguing with me. The guy himself argues with me and I rejected his proposal, so how is this any different? If the majority of people here who disagree are either OTD, never affiliated or not Jewish, how is that meaningful, really?

          If I’d say that I’m having a singles event for older kohanim and divorced women are not invited, you’d all find that completely objectionable because the ban is based strictly on religious rules and these people probably won’t hold these rules in any high regard. Should I hesitate then too when their complaints pile up?

          • tesyaa

            Maybe you’re posting in the wrong place. I know you said you’re here for kiruv, but maybe your methods are ineffective?

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              Maybe — only time will tell.

          • Alter Cocker

            this is pretty hilarious. now you’re trying to paint frumsatire commentators with a broad brush. In case you somehow haven’t realized, we have all kinds here. The frum, the not so frum, the not frum at all. We have Lubavitchers, modern orthodox, and many other kinds.

            we have baalei teshuvah, OTDers, and FFBs

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              I don’t think it’s hilarious at all, and moreover, I think it’s both provocative and goofy for you to suggest that no one can paint anything with a broad brush. That’s what generalization is and that’s life — things are generalized and stereotyped.

              I would disagree with you as to who actually comes here, but I’d rather not publicize my views on this — not because I can’t defend my position but because I choose not to in order to keep tensions unraised. But I will email you if you’d like and we can have this conversation off the record — just let me know.

              • Alter Cocker

                guess you haven’t read enough comments here. I have, and I can tell that the commentators here cover a broad spectrum. Sure there are people like the one you mentioned, but there are also people who are religious.

                I will email you if you let me know where.

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                  Respond at the bottom and include your email in your posting information and I’ll contact you from there.

          • http://abandoningeden.blogspot.com abandoning eden

            again with the ad hominem attacks. If you can defend your views, defend them, but if you have to argue that you can’t argue against people like me or that my arguments can be dismissed because of the choices I’ve made in the past, then you’re just making an ad hominum argument, you’re not defending your viewpoint. And that leads others to believe that you don’t have a good argument for your actions, because if you did, why bother with the personal attacks?

            In case you don’t realize what an ad hominum argument is, it’s when you attack a person’s character rather than address what they say. See also: half the comments you’ve made here.

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              I’ve defended my perspective not less than 10 times already, while you have done nothing but say, “You’re wrong, I’m right, you’re a bleeping $*&@# and my opinion has greater weight than yours.”

              Of course you can have an opinion — but your opinion is that of someone who presumes that Judaism is false. Seeing how this has to do with Judaism, your opinion can very well carry little to no weight, for what exactly are you basing your opinion on? It’s certainly not rabbinical authority and it’s certainly not religious sensitivities. You might have tremendous insight, but I haven’t been able to see any of that in your first 20 or so comments until the highlighted green box above, for everything previous to that was apparently part of you (ineffective) smack-down intimidation policy towards those who don’t follow your views.

  • tesyaa

    What if this were about me becoming friends with nice, pretty girls so that I could date them and marry them, but I didn’t meet them initially with a sign around my neck warning, “Beware: Single and Ready to Mingle — Wanna be Mine?”

    Except that everyone knows that guys are after pretty girls, but not every nonobservant Jew knows that some frum Jews are into kiruv. It’s simply not that obvious or well known.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      It’s not as thought I’m trying to get them to pay for my daughter’s yeshiva tuition. You’re making way too much out of this, please.

  • Samuel

    Darchei Noam of Oceanside? Oh yes a wonderful Shul indeed. A Shul that thinks it does kiruv but bashes reforms and conservatives. Funny, they are not an orthodox shul. they have mixed kiddushes, you don’t see this in Monsey. They should look at themselves! If you don’t have an MD or Black Hat, you are not wanted in that shul. You will only get Gelilah the rest of your lives! BHWAHAHHAHAH

  • bratschegirl

    I’m sure it’s because I’m not frum, but I really don’t get your position and your actions here. The Haggadah says “Let ALL who are hungry come and eat.” Not all who are religious, not all who are religious enough for me, but ALL. He’s obviously hungry for community. You’re pointedly excluding him in a way that many mutual colleagues are going to notice. I though that sort of public shaming of someone was frowned upon. What would be so dastardly about his wearing a kippah as a sign of respect for you and your house, and minhag, even if not for G-d? If you really think he’s going to mouth off and disrespect you and your faith and your hospitality, then I guess I can see leaving him out, but if it’s only your disapproval of how he’s going to be feeling inside, regardless of how he behaves, then I don’t. From here it looks as though your primary concern is that your frumness not be tarnished by too-close association with him, and if so that’s pretty darn unworthy, in my humble opinion.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      While perhaps the spirit of the idea applies at all times, the haggadah is for the Passover seder and this was not an invitation to the seder.

      I’ve excluded him by no means as an exclusive ban on OTDers. Again, I don’t know who’s friends with whom and I certainly don’t know who rooms with whom and I can fit 8 people at the table with my 4 family members and that’s the end of that. It’s not like we all eat lunch together every day and I ask them all over for Friday night dinner and Mark* is somehow never invited.

      The potential for an upset in the balance among the parties makes me want to exclude him. He’s not on the same page, and as I’ve responded to what feels to my tired fingers as countless comments above, I think that constitutes enough grounds for splitting him from the group.

  • bratschegirl

    One further clarification. It is your absolute right to invite and not invite whomever you please to your home and your table. What I, and I suspect many of the other commenters as well, have reacted to is your framing your decision as the only posssible religiously justifiable path to take. On that I think you’re wrong.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      Perhaps I did that — you’re right.

      It is not the only way — just what I thought was the most appropriate for my Shabbos table.

  • oy

    I hope this author realizes that the rasha was invited to the seder. The Hagadah only mentions a harsh response to a mocking question.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      I think it’s comical how you harp on the rasha of the seder.

      Did you see his invitation? Maybe he stole in when they went into the kitchen to wash for urchatz?

      The entire thing is proverbial — there are no sons. And would you have me not talk to him the entire time, always responding to the other guests in 3rd person when referring to him, as they do in the haggadah? Of course not…so quit asking me why I refuse to invite him if the rasha was invited because it’s really silly indeed.

      • oy

        Oh, yes, I agree it is comical to harp on the rasha of the seder. However, since your whole essay was based upon you comical rasha argument I took the advice of the hagadah. I responded to you on your level. I am glad you finally came to the realization that your piece should be viewed as comedy at best.

        • ontd

          Nice slam, oy.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          I think you’re being a clown before and now again.

          • oy

            And my daddy is stronger than yours. Either admit your mistake, shut up or respond with a cogent response. Using an ad hominem attack is just an infantile defense mechanism.

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              You being a clown is my indicator that your comment doesn’t merit a response, but you insist and I have some time now.

              You insist that anyone I refer to as a rasha be treated exactly how the rasha is treated in the haggadah — do you not?

              “The rasha was invited to the seder”
              “If you refer to the haggadah, you should take the advice of the haggadah”
              [paraphrased]

              The haggadah is hardly authoritative in how we are to react and respond to a rasha. We are given little information and it’s meant to be, once again, a proverbial example of how there are different types of Jews. But as you know, with time, there are now many more types of Jews. Perhaps there’s 10 categories these days instead of 4, and then there’s all the people who appear phenotypically as one but actually manifest genotypically as another, if you will. With all of these permutations, perhaps that makes more than 35 types. So what in the world you pretend to mean by calling me out for not allowing this newly unobservant Jew to mingle at my kiruv Shabbos table with those who have never been observant is beyond me.

              What your position amounts to is nothing more than a personal opinion. I have mine, you apparently have yours and using accusatory and defamatory attacks against my position when you can just as easily take a calm approach and simply disagree and allow us to talk about it shows just how infantile and defensive you must be — for your position is necessarily meritless beyond it being your opinion. So is mine, but that’s what we’re discussing here. For you to pretend that I’m wrong and you’re right and there’s no other way about it is a mistake.

              So perhaps my writing style together with my usual fare posted here made it appear as though this was my intention — to proclaim my method of kiruv as the only permissible and suggested method. I didn’t mean that, I regret making it seem that way if that’s what I did and I think I’ve already said that above or below — it’s difficult to find stuff here any longer.

              • oy

                I find it amusing that you call me infantile because I called you infantile. I would also advise you or any reader to review this conversation and observe who responded first with the adhominem attacks. Now there is no need for me to repond to your genotype hogwash. I am in medical school and if you think you will deter me with irrelevant “big words”, you are wrong.
                I never took issue with your decision to nnot invite this individual. It was the tone of the article that bothers me. I don’t know if you meant it, but in your piece you sound quite arrogant. I believe the tone of the essay is what bothers most people.
                However, as to your main point YOU brought the concept of the rasha here. You applied this idea to your “friend”. I am mystified how you can be so nonself aware that you attempt to weasel your way out and attack me for regurgitating your ideas.

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                  He very well might be a rasha, but I don’t treat him as one — to summarize.

                  And if I’ve been uncivil to you, it was my mistake, for I must have gotten you mixed up in the bunch.

                  • oy

                    Man, take a good, long, hard look in the mirror.

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                      What’s that supposed to mean?

  • Anonymous

    I find the author’s struggle with every poster here quite amusing. I don’t think he expected this response to what he probably thought was a well thought out, sophisticated argument. Stick to drilling teeth, buddy.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      Wow…are you really the last poster? Whew…my hands are tired.

      And I’m going to be a periodontist, so I’ll be cutting gums, not drilling teeth — and that’s my well thought out sophisticated response to you. :)

  • batsheva

    It’s almost Pesach, and I don’t have the time now to read through all the other comments, so forgive me if this has been addressed already, but I really think you’re making a mistake here. I was always taught that it’s better to do one mitzvah than none. I am a mikveh lady, and I have clientele who don’t keep kosher or Shabbat, but they keep taharat mishpachah. Would it be better if they kept all the mitzvot? Of course, but one is better than none, and I try to make the experience of mikveh as pleasant for them as possible, in the hopes that it might lead to their desire to fulfill other mitzvot.

    Here you have a guy who isn’t doing any mitzvot, and he is ASKING you for the opportunity to do some–kiddush, bentsching, etc. Yes, he’s asking for the wrong reasons, but he’s still asking. By denying him, you’re not only denying HIM, you’re denying yourself the opportunity to help someone to do a mitzvah.

    The derech is pretty wide. It’s impossible to be smack in the middle of it and leap right off. You walk off a step at a time until you get to the edge and then you’re off. But just as you can walk off a step at a time, you can walk BACK on a step at a time too.

    I started out in a fairly observant family. Then I went WAY off the derech. Over many years, and partly as a result of the friendship of some very wonderful religious people, I am now quite frum. I know from personal experience that OTD isn’t always forever. Here you had a chance to take this fellow’s hand and possibly lead his first baby steps back toward the derech. Instead, you turned away. I don’t think that was the right choice. Or the righteous one.

    • bratschegirl

      What she said.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      Your comments are insightful and bring some personal experience to the table.

      In the end, it amounts to nothing more than a small disagreement. Perhaps he’ll come another time.

  • http://yeshivaforum.wordpress.com OfftheDwannaB

    First off, awesome fights going on.

    Second, I understand your reason for not inviting the guy, because you do have a goal in mind. The one thing I don’t get is why making people frum is considered a mitzvah. Ok, you like it. It works great for you, and you want to spread that joy. I get that 100% But a Mitzvah? Who said you’re responsible for another person being frum?

    And on a personal level, it just feels wrong. When I get invited to a Chabad rabbi’s house, I know why I’m being invited. I’m prime beef in his eyes. That doesn’t feel good at all. I don’t want to be a project to someone else. I want them to accept me as I am. Because they want to hang around me. The conditional acceptance makes everything they do turn to ash.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      R’ Becher told me that kiruv is a biblical requirement for all Jews.

      My wife was reading this yesterday and the first thing she said was, “Wow…it’s funny how all these people think they know who you are.” Well, you actually know who I am, and perhaps that’s why your response is so tempered. Or, perhaps it’s the other way around — your response is so average and it’s everyone else who’s gone wacky because they can hide behind a computer screen of anonymity.

      Personal levels notwithstanding, halacha often makes us to X when we otherwise would find such activity questionable or unwarranted. Put the personality back in there, and I’ll admit that this is just my opinion.

      • http://yeshivaforum.wordpress.com OfftheDwannaB

        I dont know what the “normal” response should be, but for me ,it’s definitely because I know you. I usually read in all the worst things into these kiruv kinds of things associating the author with other manipulative kiruv-types I’ve known. I probably wouldn’t say it out loud here, but I’d think it.
        My comment was, since I know you’re a nice, erliche guy, how you could be ok with starting kiruv relationships. If your rebbe says its a mitzvah to engage in questionable missionary tactics, it makes sense.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          It should be taken for granted that almost anything that requires appreciation for the religion will not be appreciated by those who do not yet appreciate the religion. While that may sound cyclical, it’s only because I’ve used the same terms over rather than substituting the terms people would normally use to hide the cyclical nature of it all.

          If Judaism claims that Judaism is true, and we’re taking it for granted that that’s true (and for the purposes of this blog, I do) and if Judaism also says that kiruv is a necessary component of Jewish life, which it does, then there will be certain leniencies put into play when speaking to those not yet appreciative of the religion. To put that into other words, kiruv does not focus on the overbearing nature of Judaism because it will not be appreciated by one who’s unfamiliar with it. For those who, for whatever reason, accept the authoritative and binding nature of the laws, the less pleasant facts are taken in stride.

  • tesyaa

    bravo

  • anon

    I don’t know why you are afraid of a scene. There is no reason to suggest this person would not be respectful, even if in his personal life he abstains from doing certain mitzvos. Because every person, whether consciously or unconsciously does mitzvos, and yes, gets credit for them. A murderer who keeps kosher, no matter how unpleasant this realization is, still gets “credit” for the mitzva of keeping kosher. The fact that this OTD person helped his Jewish friends light a menorah – he gets some brownie points in shamayim.
    I think the biggest problem (besides the sinas chinam) that I have with your post is that you keep saying you are not judging him. I would have had less problems with you admitting that your fear of a scene and not being able to handle an ensuing discussion in front of non-observant people is YOUR character weakness, not his. If you have a problem with this guy being OTD, fine. But it’s disingenuous to lay the “blame” on HIM – it’s really YOUR problem that you can’t/won’t/don’t want to deal with it.
    It saddens me that people become OTD because although I am very very disillusioned with the “frum” world, my disaffection is with the weakness of the “system” and the people who rule it, not Toras Emes or HaShem.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      This has nothing to do with being respectful in the colloquial sense. He has cast off the yoke of Judaism, which necessarily makes him an opponent of Torah Judaism and its ideals and requirements. That makes him very different from the rest of the people who will be here for the Yom Tov dinner.

      He can come another time — I haven’t pushed him into a volcano or out of an airplane without a parachute.

      There is no sinas chinum (search above) and I’m not judging him (search for that as well). This has nothing to do with what you suppose might happen but with what I suppose might happen, and again, you can search for all of that above.

      And what about the weakness of the people who rule the comment pool on FrumSatire — or are they upstanding members of the non-judgmental public?

  • Daniel Rosenberg

    Funny how you refer to your kiruv techniques as “tricks” which the OTD person already knows so he won’t be fooled by them. Is that all kiruv is to you? Tricking people to be frum? What happens after they realize the trick and are now stuck in a lifestyle they don’t really appreciate?

    It is this kind of approach that leads to people resenting Orthodoxy. If you truly believed your position to be correct why the need to be sneaky about it and trick people into believing it. Maybe you should be honest and upfront about what you are doing instead of deceptive. Or maybe a religion that requires deception to gain new members shouldn’t be around at all.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      Search for “tricks” above — this issue has been addressed at length somewhere above.

      • tesyaa

        I think you’re backpedaling. The thing that bothers me maybe most of all is that you say the religion can’t stand on its own merits. Of course, I agree with that, but the truly frum people I know do not agree. I think if you are a frum Jew, you absolutely have to believe it stands on its merits. Your whole life is based on a belief system that you concede has no merit? And you give OTD people grief for saying the same thing? Very strange.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          1) Religion is not science. It’s not even a pseudoscience. If it could be proven, it would be rationally mandatory for all to accept the burdens imposed. Call it contrived, call it convenient or call it the necessary balance between hashgacha pratis and free will — the truth is that rabbis are two-faced, and I don’t mean that in a defamatory manner, even if it appears that way. For example, rabbis will sometimes make public declarations that Jewish families must grow and expand and reproduce ad infinitum, and might even refer to the actual Holocaust or a proverbial holocaust as a basis for this position, in private, they will more often tell the husband and wife team that they should be responsible with child begetting and take some precautions in case the finances are not available to take care of the responsibilities a large families brings.

          So too, rabbis don’t begin their lectures on, say, chatzi shiur assur min haTorah (a Talmudic-style discussion on the nature of prohibited consumables for which a given volume carries a penalty and in which a particular situation involves less than said requisite volume) by saying, “Before I begin, let me say that all of this is only true if one assumes that God is real and that He is the God of Moses. Should anyone doubt or deny that, it’s entirely likely that one mustn’t be as strict as my outline to follow indicates one must be.” Yet privately, I’d like to hear what your rabbi says. I surround myself with rabbis who don’t lie to me or carry on while missing the point of my question, and when I ask them to defend their position, they falter on principles of substance and fall onto faith. Which is fine for those who can’t think or refuse to think, but if you want to be a thinking person and you’re troubled by a perceived lack of possible reconciliation between Judaism and the realities of the Universe without having to rely on faith, you will be disappointed. Please let me know if you hear otherwise.

          The truly frum people, as you call them, are probably delusional, child-minded, irrational or some combination of two of the above or perhaps all three combined into one. Heresy is not prohibited because it’s false — it’s prohibited because it’s dangerous, as there’s really no way out. You’ve gotta end on faith, which means the entire philosophical chandelier, however beautifully constructed and passed down over many generations remains dangling just an inch short of being fastened firmly into the ceiling.

          And I’ve never given OTD people grief. Here, I’ve lambasted them for judging me when they accuse me of judging others, making snide comments when accusing me of being an elitist, pretending to have something more substantial than their personal opinion when bashing mine in favor of theirs and calling me a coward when they themselves only say what they say in the way they say it because they are conveniently hidden in cyberspace.

          OTD is OTD — I’d just rather not mix OTD with NOD (never on the derech). You may disagree, but the majority of all that’s been written here seems to have little to do with the issue at hand and more to do with taking jabs at me for ancillary things they think I’ve thought or said.

          • oy

            What you are saying is pure apikorsis. To say Judaism relies on faith and can not be proven is Cnristain nonsense.

            • tesyaa

              oy is 100% correct

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              In that case, please draft your Jewish manifesto and I’m sure Heshy will allow you to publish it on the blog — and there’s no sarcasm there.

              • oy

                I readily admit my lack of a philosophical background to write a “manifesto”. I am studying medicine, not theology or religion unlike you I am sure, mr. dentist. I, therefore, try not to present an essay in an area with far greater experts than I. My only tool here is logic (and some emotion).However, there are many who do have this expertise and if you are interested speak to them. Outside the Christain faith I doubt that there is any philosophical bent that says there are ideas or histories that must be taken for fact but are improvable (I am not referring to basic principles). The fact that the great Rishonim put forth arguments to prove God and Judaism should be evidence enough that Judaism requires evidence. However, I don’t think I can prove something to an individual who believes that his beliefs trumos and do not require logic.

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                  I don’t think you can prove something to anyone if it suffers from needing faith. And whether you’re for or against religion, you should study it.

                  • oy

                    Again I believe it is based on logic. I do study it but not to the extent that I can present a piece on it. I am sure you remember your first year in dental school. I’m in first year med school and I’m only here because of spring break. I have little time for indepth study. Thank you for your response. Ultimately I agree with the basics of the Kuzari principle. You apparently don’t. I don’t think our argument will change anyone’s minds. However, I would appreciate it if you could forward your correspondence with Rabbi Becher or other thinkers. My email is [redacted]. Thanks

                    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                      Let’s continue this offsite.

                    • oy

                      Thank, I’m unsure how to reach you, my email was redacted. Thanks

                      ****
                      I redacted it to protect you from crazy spam — I’ve already emailed you. ~DRosenbach

  • Alter Cocker

    about quadruple the comments of the female masturbation thing heshy did and still going strong. whoda thunk it?

    • Alter Cocker

      Also RE: rasha above (it won’t let me reply to the post in question:

      yes, it generated a lot of hits and comments. That’s your goal? Doing that is the common technique of “Internet trolls” who simply want attention, not necessarily to contribute anything worthwhile.

      If you post something absurd and wrong (like calling someone a ‘rasha’ for no good reason), you will get a lot of blowback. If that’s all you want to achieve, it’s not terribly difficult to accomplish.

      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

        I referred to him as a rasha because he’s probably a rasha. If you twist my arm or ask me to bet on it, I might soften my approach, as I did above in response to a post or two, but let’s look at what the haggadah says about the rasha (New Maxwell House edition):

        What does the wicked child ask? What does this service mean for you?” By the word you, it is clear the questioning child is not self inclusive, and so has withdrawn from the community; it is therefore proper to respond forcefully, “This is done, because of what the Eternal did for me, when I went out of Egypt,” for me and not for the youngster, for had this child been there, there would not have been redemption for this one.

        What is this person’s collection of sins for which we describe him as a wicked person? Not, as someone above suggested, that he is harsh to the widows and orphans or holds his hand back from charity and other means of lovingkindness between man and his fellow man. It is because he excludes himself from obligation. He asks, “What are these rules and requirements that you have?” and we throw back at him the emphasis on the you.

        This uninvited guest does just that — he is no longer interested in doing the Judaism, and that makes him a rasha. He may not agree and if you’re also a rasha by this category, whether because you’ve married a gentile, given up shabbos or everything altogether, you might also not agree, but that is immaterial here.

        So I take a step back and decide, like R’ Becher would, not to answer forcefully unless someone is trying to by sarcastic and cynical. But that doesn’t mean he’s not a rasha — it just means that, in 2012, we’ve toned down a bit. We don’t go after these people, because there’s no gain to be gained by attacking them, so we refrain from doing so.

        So let me tell you what’s absurd — that we have nearly 240 comments about whether I’m a jerk or not.

  • Nate

    I agree with the writer, for once. Let it be known that for all those who have the audacity to invite their goyishe friends and relatives, God forbid, that they are sinning beyond belief. We do not allow goyim at our table, ever. We do not want them in our house, our neighborhood, or even our thoughts.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      Funny how it doesn’t matter which side you’re on, Nate — we still want you to go away.

  • G*3

    Before I read through the 206! Comments…

    > We ignore him and instead respond to the proverbial 4th son at the seder (the one who knows not how to ask) who has been exposed to such despicable ranting from the rasha… hateful and aggressive like the rasha from the haggadah

    I know this isn’t really the point of your post, but the rasha really doesn’t say anything despicable, nor is he aggressive. All he does is ask why everyone is doing all these strange things. Really, the only difference between the chacham’s question and the rasha’s question is that the chacham asks why Hashem commanded us to do these strange things, while the rasha leaves out the bit about God. It is the response, to bash in his teeth, that is hateful and aggressive.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      Judaism feels that it must protect itself from heretics, and when one of its own excludes himself from the fold, that is very hurtful to the movement. It speaks to the lack of authority and binding nature of the religion, and so Judaism takes a very hard stance against it. If the one who doesn’t know how to ask thinks that it’s a valid option to say, “why do I need to ask if all of this is a bunch of hooey!” because the rasha speaks the way he does, that’s a catastrophe for Judaism.

  • G*3

    Your decision not to invite your OTD friend makes sense in a detached, clinical, goal-oriented kind of way. But human relationships are not typically based on cold calculation. We tend to react very negatively to people who engage in relationships just to get something out of it. (And yes of course we all expect to get things out of relationships. But there’s a huge difference between becoming friends with someone because you enjoy his company and becoming friends with him to further an agenda.)

    I don’t know what your relationships with your colleges is like, but in the post and the comments you consistently come across as calculating and agenda-driven. And that’s why you got such a negative reaction. If you were friends with these people first, and then decided to introduce them to OJ because you think it would benefit them, that would be wonderful. Instead, it seems the relationship is based on your kiruv agenda. Kiruv is thought f as a wonderful thing in the frum world, but to everyone else, kiruv is no different than any other sort of evangelicism. Think of how the frum world sees Christian missionaries.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      You don’t know me and you don’t know these people and you can’t possibly understand our relationship from the sideways manner in which they’ve all played a part in my tale? That said, I can’t imagine how you can truly suppose to be able to peer into their minds.

      Would they find it odd that their friend was not invited because he’s a no-longer-Orthodox? Perhaps. But they’d also find it odd that we eat less than an olive’s bulk of karpas so as to avoid the need for an after blessing thereby cutting the initial blessing off from the eventual maror because they have no sensitivity for blessings, being that they don’t ever make blessings in anything less than a perfunctory manner. They’d also find all of the meticulous things observant Jews do strange, as though there’s a whole world of things they don’t know about. But there is a whole world of things they don’t know about — they’re just not interested in knowing about it, but perhaps I can pique their interest.

      I come across that way because the nature of my post was to reflect upon a facet of that calculation. Perhaps you’ve explained well why it is that so many people have misjudged the situation.

      There is a distinction between missionaries and Jews — kiruv is for already-Jews and missionizing is for soon-to-be Christians. But your point is well taken — for those who do not value Judaism, furthering Judaism is of no great concern, which forms the basis of the outcry against Oorah for having their Kars-4-Kids campaign without mentioning that cars donated for kids will be used to evangelize the kids, not feed them when they’re hungry or clothe them when they’re naked.

      • G*3

        > That said, I can’t imagine how you can truly suppose to be able to peer into their minds.

        Huh? I admitted I don’t know anything about your relationships, and I don’t try to guess what your friends might be thinking. I’m just commenting on the way you come across in the post and the comments.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          Well, I can’t very well specify exactly how I’m supposed to come across in the post — the reader has to do that, but if you think it came out badly, then perhaps that’s something I can work on for the future.

      • G*3

        > There is a distinction between missionaries and Jews — kiruv is for already-Jews and missionizing is for soon-to-be Christians.

        It’s not a meaningful distinction. You say that missionizing is for “soon-to-be Christians.” Well, kiruv groups refer to non-OJs as “not-yet-frum.” That the people kiruv orgs target are ethnically/traditionally Jewish doesn’t make it better.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          From the perspective of the evangelee the distinction may not be perceptible but it certainly is from the perspective of the evangelist. I didn’t write the rules.

  • Anonymous

    Guys let’s hit 300.

    • Alter Cocker

      that’s assumed. 400 is within reach

  • Anonymous

    Before Dr. Rosenbach does anymore backpedaling and sugar coating, I would like to repost the essay title “Passover 2012: A Personal Encounter with the Rasha”.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      Search for “Maxwell House” — that post answers your post.

  • Off the OJ

    I’m OTD and I would not stop you from doing kiruv. Your house, your rules. And I think any OTD person who is not a sociopath would just try to have a nice meal and allow you to explain what everything means at a Shabbat dinner.

    You don’t sound like you’re a jerk but you do sound neurotic, not just from the initial post where you make a lot of weird assumptions but also that you felt you had to defend yourself from the slew of comments.

    You also sound somewhat superficial, someone who has an agenda. This post didn’t make me angry. It made me sad because one of my fears as an OTD is that my religious friends respect me less because of my lack of faith. I think a lot of OTD people like this blog because Heshy and a lot of other religious people on here genuinely accept people for who they are. You may say that is inauthentic and you can definitely cite sources to back it up but I will say, just objectively, you will probably have better kiruv retention if you are genuine. A lot of people have left the community because they felt lied to and tricked. What if one of the families you invited for shabbat becomes religious and lashes out later because they didn’t realize all the negative aspects or the counter-theological arguments to Judaism. At least if you are genuine, people will know what they are getting into and should they choose to take the religion on, they probably won’t leave.

    So there, an OTD person just gave you advice on how to do better kiruv.

    • batsheva

      Excellent points, Off the OJ, and I agree with all of them. And FWIW, as a frum person myself, I would not respect you one drop less for your lack of faith. And I don’t believe HaShem would either.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      I also appreciate your comments. My only question to you is this: I’d like you to please elaborate on ‘respect.’

      Judaism, despite one’s personal feelings on the matter, is exceedingly elitist. And I’m not talking about the talmudic passages and midrashim that either state explicitly or implicitly that Jews are the only being with true souls or that gentiles are compares to animals. I mean that Judaism maintains that it has the truth and that no one else does. We are everything — asher bachar banu mikol ha’amim, that we were “chosen from among all the nations” and given the Torah, which reflects truth among the falsehoods.

      When a Jewish person does not have Torah, they do not have the truth, says Judaism. As if that’s not bad enough, if a Jewish person had Torah but threw it away, they have rejected the truth, says Judaism. So to spit on gentiles…I don’t think that falls in line with Jewish values. To spit on people who have left the fold, I think that that also does not fall in line with Jewish values. So we’re to be cordial, but what does Judaism, which maintains that we have it and you don’t, or worse, had it and tossed it to the side, recommend as an attitude towards those who fit into these categories? Respect, in the sense of political correctness and religious pluralism? Absolutely not — Judaism does not accept that as a proper attitude. But respect is very vague and wide-ranging — what did you mean by that?

      • Off the OJ

        “I think a lot of OTD people like this blog because Heshy and a lot of other religious people on here genuinely accept people for who they are. You may say that is inauthentic and you can definitely cite sources to back it up but I will say, just objectively, you will probably have better kiruv retention if you are genuine.”

        Yeah I mentioned this “respect” issue in my previous comment. I agree with you actually. There’s really no way getting around the fact that it is somewhat or maybe overtly heretical to be totally cool that someone is not frum. This is part of the reason I became OTD. I realized, how can I be expected to believe that all these non-frum people are wrong for refusing to believe in an irrational idea? Some people are fine just finding personal fulfillment in religion but Judaism requires much more than personal fulfillment. To some degree, it does require believing others are wrong for not accepting the Torah as truth.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          And thus we have the psycho-emotional paradox of orthodoxy.

  • Catholic Mom

    You can’t argue people into accepting a religion. You can’t guilt them into it. You can’t trick them into it. You can’t lay down a path and lead them down it step by step with a carrot (or drive them down it step by step with a stick.) All you can do is manifest to them the love of God. Because God is the only one who can change anyone’s heart.

    I know what you were thinking when you didn’t invite him — he is coming as someone who comes to be entertained. The Christmas/Easter Christian (“I just love the pageantry and the music and costumes and the incense. I feel just the same way about the opera too.”) The Rosh haShanah/Passover Jew (“I just love the tradition and the ritual and the food and the sense of community. I feel just the same way about our town’s Fourth of July pot-luck supper and fireworks.)

    But consider this: http://www.athensreview.com/local/x223905209/Atheist-flabbergasted-at-Christians-assistance

    The only truly irresistible force in the universe is love.

    Hag Sameach everybody.

  • Critic

    Dr.Rosenbach
    There’s not much that one can add to the many comments to your post.
    One of the questions raised at many sedorim is why does the Rasha follow after the Chacham rather than being banished to the end of the table for his rebellious spirit?There are number of possible answers brought up by commentators on the Haggadah.One answer that I thought was most appropriate to your original premise and this entire discussion is the answer of the Arizal.Namely that the Wicked son is placed next to the Wise Son because only the Wise Son is capable of revealing the inherent good in his errant brother.
    The Arizal’s answer encapsulates,in my humble opinion,the very reason why your so called rasha should definitely been allowed to attend your Seder.Vehamaivin yovin.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      The invitation was never for the seder — it’s for the second days, but that’s not really the point here.

      There are many conflicting axioms in Jewish philosophy and your post touches upon one of these conflicts. We have oy l’rasha oy l’shcheino — woe to the wicked and his neighbor — for we worry about the effect the wicked will have on those around him, but we also have tov l’tzaddik v’tov l’shcheino — good is to the righteous and to his neighbor — for we expect the goodness of the former to rub off on the latter. Jewish philosphy, however, is silent on the specific relationship between the rasha and the tzaddik and whose character traits will overcome those of the other.

      And to comment directly on the Arizal’s explanation, I find it very Kli Yakar-ish, in that the Arizal said this not because it’s true but because he had to find an explanation for something that was seen as strange after the fact — in this sense, it’s like a backronym. Sure, the Arizal could have switched the rasha to the end and we’d have two variant texts of the haggadah, but if that even become popular, we’d have so many versions that it would become quite difficult for anyone to follow along with anyone else — this guy would delete these three stanzas of dayeinu, that guy would add another son at the table and someone else would do something else that we won’t be able to anticipate, and so I reject his approach as contrived and mystical. It might find favor in your eyes, but I’m not a fan of the Kli Yakar for this reason.

  • David A

    DRosenbach, you and your ilk are one of the primary reasons people go off the derech. Maybe you should get off your high horse and accept fellow Jews for who they are. Try treating them with respect even when they don’t agree with you. But, oh, I forgot, you’re too blinded by your Kiruv missionizing to recognize that.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      Your cliché laden post suffers because no one can figure out exactly what you’re trying to say and I am being quite sincere here, so please don’t take this as sarcasm. Below I’ve outlined my position on your comment and I’m actually looking forward to your timely response so we can get somewhere, unlike most of the other posters here who’ve come to bash.

      1) Why am I and my ilk, both of which you are (I’d say) completely unfamiliar with, the primary reason why people go off the derech? Is it because we promote the Torah and people who go off the derech are against Torah-promotion? Is it because the haggadah refers to those who exclude themselves from the covenant of binding commandments as a rasha and you and they can thus both be classified as rashas and don’t want to be bound? Please explain.

      2) High horse — don’t know what that means. Perhaps you meant that orthodoxy is elitist. You’d be right, and there’s no high horse to get off of because orthodoxy is a high horse. You might disagree with orthodoxy’s presumptuousness in principle (i.e. you don’t like it), but you can’t disagree with its presumptuousness in fact (i.e. you don’t think it exists).

      3) Accept fellow Jews for who they are — again, I can’t really understand what you mean when you speak in such generalities. Tell them that it’s fine to continue what they’re doing? But that’s not the case. Tell them that they can do whatever they want? That’s also not the case.

      4) And then there’s the respect thing again — what do you mean by that? Don’t spit on them, don’t bump into them in the hall and pretend nothing happened? I wouldn’t do that. Respect their decisions? Alright, that’s a little bit more difficult. As a fellow human inhabitant of earth and the NYC metro area, I respect him. I won’t steal his stuff and I won’t sabotage his project in the science fair, but I don’t think that’s what you meant. If he’s giving a lecture, I will not interrupt him any more or less than I would anyone else just because he’s not religious. That may be a novel idea in Brooklyn, where I hear that irreligious Jews are not respected to that degree, but I don’t think you meant that either. I can’t know what you meant because you’ve been so terse, but I suppose you mean something along the lines of, “let him be free to perceive the universe as he’s like to do so.” In that sense, I will not impose upon him a curfew or have him beaten because there’s no real judicial authority among Judaism anymore, but those things might have been done many years ago for the person who went off the derech. Today, we’re very kind to those who go off the derech, trying to bring them back rather than excommunicating them outright. I haven’t excommunicated him, but I have chosen to separate him from those never on the derech, but I don’t think you’re too interested in that either, which tells me something about your perception of Judaism and the unlikelihood of us seeing eye to eye on matters such as these.

      5) Blinded by kiruv missionizing — that’s a good one. What exactly did you mean by that? That what I’m doing is well within the range of appropriate behavior for one who engages in kiruv, and it’s just that you don’t necessarily see the benefit of kiruv? Perhaps that’s it — that if this thing — Judaism — has no value in your eyes, in what sense is it meaningful to sacrifice anything for it? Let the kohen marry the divorcee, let the light be turned off on Shabbos because I’m tired and I can’t otherwise get to sleep, and so-on-and-so-forth.

      But I can’t know you from just 25 words you’ve written here. Maybe you’re upset at my tone or maybe you’re just jumping on the bash DRosenbach bandwagon — I can’t tell and I won’t presume to know you or your ilk, even though you have done so towards me.

      To conclude, these are not easy issues to tackle and not easy problems to solve. I made a choice, you and others might disagree, but I’d like something a lot more concrete than “you’re a jerk!” or “you’re a [expletive referring to female genitalia]!” or “how could you be so insensitive?” or “man, you are the cause of all evil and off the derechness.”

      The cause of OTDness is because the person does not appreciate Judaism. Maybe that’s not his or her fault, but that’s the reason, not me. I don’t want to pay taxes, but there’s value in paying taxes. Not only does it fund the federal, state and municipality governments so they can provide things like police, fire and garbage coverage but if I don’t pay them, I’ll be fined for way more than I was initially going to have to pay. But if I don’t recognize the government’s authority over me and I am able to sufficiently hide from the penalties, would I pay taxes? Of course not! It’s the same thing with Judaism. Sure, I’d like to be free to do as I please — eat what I want when I want, do what I want when I want with whom and in any which way, go here and go there and not worry about X, Y and Z. Who wouldn’t want such a thing? But If Judaism is true, then there are rules governing all of these actions and more. If someone doesn’t appreciate the values of Judaism, they won’t recognize the binding nature of the governing rules and they will proceed off the derech.

      • David A

        Not sure if you will see this response, but figured I would post it anyways.

        What you fail to address is why you would do something so mean spirited. Your previous posts quote numerous rabbinic sources but fails to recognize one of the most important ideas expressed directly in the Torah – Ve’ahavta le’reecha kamocha. You may respond, “The rasha is not my neighbor, in fact, I should knock his teeth out.” To this I answer, you are not a shofet or member of the sanhedrin that allows you to judge. You do not have the insight, knowledge, or ability to do this.

        A person’s decision to not be part of orthodoxy does not automatically mean that they do not consider themselves Jewish or proud of their heritage. This classmate clearly still feels Jewish and finds value in aspects of our rituals. Why would you exclude such a person because they disagreed with you? It simply does not make sense.

        It is absolutely your right to associate freely with people you like or believe you can mekarev. However, the sentiment of exclusion and superiority expressed in your post that the orthodox world has adopted over the last number of decades makes me glad I am no longer part of it.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          The goal was not to be mean spirited, it just came about as a result of what I did indirectly. It’s much the same as how one might make a singles event for 25-35 and your sister-in-law’s brother calls you up to come and he is 36 and you tell him that he can’t come because he’s out of the age range — is that mean spiritied? It is what it is — you’re doing X, he doesn’t fit into that bracket and so he can come next time when you do 30-40 or 35-45.

          When doing kiruv, the point is not, in the sense of Conservative, Reform or any other denomination of Judaism, to accept the tradition of Judaism, but to do so in the sense of orthodoxy. In orxthodoxy, tradition is synonymous with mesorah, which translates very directly into fulfillment of the commandments and living an altogether Torah-oriented life, versus what it might mean in other so-called forms of Judaism, in which being traditional means including some aspects of Judaism in one’s life — having a circumcision party (but not necessarily making sure that the circumcision is performed in accordance with halacha) having a beautiful chuppah using a tallis that great-great-grandfather Solomon was wearing when he was taken by the Nazis and making it a symbol of endurance (when, ironically, nothing has endured except the most superficial facade because the groom intends to wear a tallis in the synagogue on Shabbos but doesn’t even own a pair of tefillin), and so on and so forth.

          This guy doesn’t need me to give him a periodical infusion of Judaism — he didn’t need a periodical infusion because he had the continuous flow hooked up, but he severed it and now he wants to do the Judaism when it’s fun and suits his otherwise empty weekend devoid of significant outings and activities. That attitude is antithetical to Judaism.

          And while I will give you that orthodoxy is exclusive and expresses superiority — be it loudly or quietly — I don’t think that has changed at all over the past few decades. I can’t say the same for Orthodoxy (capital “O”) but that’s largely political and hardly religious.

          • David A

            The answer to your first paragraph is, “yes.” The simple fact that you take the most extreme case (relative and age 36) and still reject someone is very telling of your character. I guess you will only learn to exercise common sense and human decency when a rav you deem to be gadol enough (that’s sarcasm) comes out and explicity states, “Be nice to people, no matter who they are and what they believe.” It’s a sad state of affairs that one needs a spiritual leader to draw that conclusion and is indicative of the problems orthodoxy faces particularly in Israel.

            The bottom line, in my opinion, is that you are trying to shroud your bad manners and inflexible attitudes about life in general with the cloak of what you perceive as authentic Judaism. Also, please don’t invoke the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust to make your cheap and misguided points. As a grandson of survivors, I find it in poor taste and insulting.

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              You pretend as though nice is absolute when it is far from that and your emotional ties to those who died in the Holocaust are irrelevant, so let’s leave that out and just because my analogies are brought to counter your position makes them neither cheap nor misguided.

              • David A

                The sanctimonious fool responds! Should I take the fact that you have failed to directly respond to any of my accusations as proof that you have been defeated?

                Being kind to other decent human beings (Jew and Gentile) is universal. I’m pretty sure most of your venerated rebbeim would agree that even those who are no longer orthodox may still be decent.

                I will emphasize again, your use of the Holocaust as imagery is inappropriate a) because it does not make logical sense within the context of the discussion and b) given your indefensible position. Would you not consider all those who perished that were irreligious by choice, reshaim? Perhaps you recall that the murderous wrath of the Nazis fell upon observant and secular alike. While you purport to be a believer in authentic and traditional Judaism, nothing could be further from reality.

                I’m very glad I have not had the misfortune of meeting you in person and hope you are not passing your lovely traits on to offspring. Please spare the world of your seed… And I mean that in all sincerity.

                • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                  1) You’re the one with the lame criticism.

                  2) Being kind is not universal and it’s not absolute, and you know that but are twisting it to support your argument. If, as in my singles event argument, the age limit was announced prior to the event and each and every girl made sure to ask that the limits were being adhered to, it would be quite out of line for me to invite my sister-in-law’s brother even if he’s only a bit out of the age range. Those are the cut off and it’s no longer an issue of being nice to the brother, but of being nice to him vs. being nice to others. Your two-dimensional view of life is apparent from your lack appreciation for this point, casting a shadow over the rest of your alleged insight and prowess in debate.

                  My use of the Holocaust, like anything else, is completely appropriate whenever it fits. Your false accusations of inauthenticity fall on informed and therefore deaf ears and your poorly constructed and misleading suppositions upon which you base your arguments leads them to crumble. The Nazis killed people because they wanted to and if you’s have asked them, it had nothing to level of observance. Therefore, it had nothing to do with observance. If we two were driving in a car and one of us were killed in a car accident, it speaks more as to which direction the tractor trailer that plowed into us was coming from than which of us is more observant or which of us maintains a greater level of evidence or authority in this argument. So too, the people died because other people killed them, which doesn’t necessarily speak to a direct and active decision on God’s part.

                  3) And the doubling of your last sentiment, that I not pass on traits to my offspring and that I ought not contribute seed, is misleading because it supposes that my arguments are genetically defined, which they are not. They are rather acquired traits which do not pass on to one’s offspring unless they are learned, in which case you needn’t have repeated yourself — but your verbosity precedes yourself, especially when you’re inflammatory nature seeks to send out sparks of wrath.

                  It is my sincere hope that your seed rejects your manner of thinking and acquires the skill of not allowing emotions to take hold of their ability to see the holes in their reasoning. Also, I hope you have someone else work on their reading comprehension because it doesn’t seem like you’ve read anything I’ve written if you still seem to think that none of your questions have been responded to — or perhaps you just can’t comprehend.

                  Altogether, you seem very upset for no good reason. You’ve outlined no position other than that of, “you can’t insult my grandparents by using them in an analogy without my permission,” and you’ve provided nothing for us to consider other than a quite talmudic approach to referring to my children in double terms, leaving us to wonder what is included by one term that was not by the other. Let’s have a clear and concise statement of your purpose here, rather than filly threats and suppositions (and warnings about what I can and cannot analogize).

  • Conservative SciFi

    I couldn’t read every post, but wow! Most of the posters who are angry with Dr. Rosenbach have quite obvious and heavy chips on their shoulders. I’m not (and never was) orthodox though I attended a Day school through 12th grade. I have been the subject(as per Rosenbach)/victim (as per other posters) of Kiruv by Chabad and others.

    He chooses who he wants to invite to dinner. So what? We’ve had bat and bar mitzvot of our children. We don’t invite everyone we know, but rather select those people who we hope are interested in either us or our child. Just as Rosenbach felt this particular OTD guy would not have the type of interest he was looking for, I don’t usually invite most of my nonJewish coworkers, peripheral friends or associates who’ve never met my kid because they don’t share an interest in my child’s achievement.

    When we have people to shabbat dinner (admittedly not for kiruv purposes), I select them for compatibility with each other and myself. If I felt someone wouldn’t fit in, I wouldn’t invite them, even if they came up to me and asked.

    If this guy wants to spend a shabbat dinner with his friends, he can cook (or buy) the food and invite them himself.

    For all those who criticize Rosenbach, please tell me that you invite everyone to everything, or at least invite that creepy guy down the hall who is alone.

    • Micah T

      Well said.

    • Dave

      I can guarantee you that I have *never* turned down a friend or co-worker who needed a place for a holiday meal; and that is the circumstance that is being described here.

      • Peter

        I never understood this person as needing a place for a holiday meal. How are you reading that into this situation?

        • Dave

          From the original post: “And once again, this guy heard about it and sought me out to find out why he hadn’t been invited, although this time, he was a lot more direct. He seemed upset but insisted that he was not, and explained that this was his tight group of friends and petitioned to be able to join so that he, too, could enjoy the company and fun of a Jewish Holiday meal at my house.”

          • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

            If we were going bowling, I would have written the same thing while exchanging “bowling alley” for “Jewish Holiday meal,” but surely you’ve turned down a friend who’s needed a bowling alley to go to, right? :)

            This guy wants to have fun so he asks Billy* if they can go for drinks, but Billy retorts, “no can do, buddy boy — we’re going to a Passover meal” He then goes to Kenny* and ask if they can catch a movie, but Kenny says, “sorry, we’re going with Billy to some Passover meal.” I suppose that’s how it went down.

            • Dave

              I had not expected an ostensibly observant Jew to consider a Seder on par with bowling.

              (Well, maybe Candelpin, but that’s hard to find outside of New England.)

  • Shlumey

    THE YOUNG ISRAEL OF OCEANSIDE ROCKS!!!!! We now have over 30+ young couples and our target is a Billion Young Couples!!!!! You can live a life that you have never lived like before….. this is a Dream Place. You can be a member of any Committee you want. Are Committees important? Then join YI! … A place where “you can be seen”

    • Alter Cocker

      what on earth?

    • Anonymous

      ?

      • Alter Cocker

        apparently that Young Israel hires spammers to spew on related blogs.

  • Anonymous

    300

  • Shnook

    The flippant manner by which the good doctor dismisses commentaries of the Arizal and the Kli Yakar is really all one needs to know. At least his would-be guest is open about his distaste for our heritage. The author’s closeted distaste brings me to echoing a previous commenter: shame on you.

    The author illustrates with crystal clarity the fundamental difference between the philosophy of Chabad outreach and that of non-Chabad “Kiruv.” In the world of Chabad outreach, the concept of “kiruv” is foreign. Implicit in the “Kiruv movement” is the notion that “I am close and you are far, so I will benevolently reach out and draw you close,” hence the term “kiruv rechokim.” In Chabad, philosophically, at least, every Jew is viewed as “close” regardless of level of observance. Sefer HaTanya, which forms the basis for all things Chabad, is based on the verse “ki- karov eilecha hadavar meod, beficha u’vilvavcha la’asoso – for this matter is very close to you, in your mouth and in you heart, that you should do it.” Thus, the goal of Chabad outreach is to hand deliver and illuminate, as it were, what rightfully belongs to the other. In other words, if I have something of pricelelss value that belongs to you as much as it belongs to me, it is my duty to bring it to you. Furthermore, Chabad outreach is predicated on “spreading the wellsprings [of Toras HaChassidus] outward. That is, the mission of every Jew is to bring the Torah on all levels to every Jew, no matter how far from it he is physically or spiritually. No Jew has the right to evaluate another’s worthiness with regard to the rights to the heritage that is an equal inheritance to all.

    Please reconsider your duty to this Jew.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      1) You needn’t have waited for me to dismiss the Arizal and the Kli Yakar.

      2) Chabad kiruv delivers not Judaism but Chabad — that’s the difference. All that you mention is just semantics, and you admit to this yourself when you state that the “mission of every Jew is to bring Torah on all levels to every Hew, no matter how far from it he is physically or spiritually.” How can anyone be far is you just said that no one is far because “every Jew is viewed as close regardless of level of observance”?

      And in respect to the modern Chabad perspective, as with the likes of Aish, Gateways and everyone else, is very starkly different from the traditional approach. Someone who’s left the fold used to be barred from the community, while now they are embraced and the consequences of their sins are not listed for them, let alone paid out in flogging — that was an advancement of Judaism from a religion with corporeal punishment to what it is now. But that doesn’t mean that all are welcome. I’d like to see Chabad actively seek Sam Harris — they would not, because he is a threat to their program. See Shmuly Boteach’s poorly developed platform here, although he no longer represents Chabad.

      • Critic

        Wow.What arrogance. You’ve revealed it all in your above diatribe.First it was your alleged Rasha then came the Arizal, the Kli Yakor and for the grand finally, Chabad.You really have a chip on your shoulder.Any sympathy or empathy I had for and with you was erased by the sheer effrontery of your above slanderous accusations which in reality does not deserve any kind of logical response.The true picture of who is the real Rasha here has been revealed and I’m far from being a Chabadnic or a hassid.You refer to yourself as being a young dentist.Stick with that job and do Yidishkeit a favor . Keep away from kiruv.The type of animosity you reveal is definitely not synonymous with one who claims to be involved with kiruv.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          Rather than reply with an emotional outcry to my approach, perhaps you would attempt a response on the issues.

          Otherwise, it’s quite revealing that you and your flamboyant interpretations are the ones doing the effronting.

          • Critic

            Your verbosity has been exceeded by the size of your ego.The Klei Yokor,The Arizal or Chabad do not need to be defended by the likes of me.They have withstood the critique of moral pygmies such as yourself on their own for hundreds of years and will continue to do so.You remind me of the old advertisement for Energizer batteries that go on and on ad ein lidovor sof. The inhabitants of this blog site have voted with their feet against your convoluted logic in every conceivable form and way so there’s really nothing that can be said that hasn’t been said already except for one last point.It’s my heartfelt hope that you are not the typical product of Rabbi Bechers style of kiruv .

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              While I did take a shot at Chabad, I was merely pointing out the flaws of the various positions held by the aforementioned commentators. If you can explain and understand their irrational and mystical explanations in terms of the universe at large, that’s fine — do so, accept it and enjoy your mysticism. You and those similar to you who have no trouble with mystical Judaism are not my target audience.

              But for those for whom silly stories from a bygone era are at the very best unpalatable or, perhaps even worse, stuff that makes them question why they belong to a religion that touts multi-century-old un-dead and other similar absurdities that come from a time when absurd was accepted as not only normative but completely within the realm of possibility, I offer my words of comfort and solace.

              • Critic

                My G-D.This man really believes that he’s come out with some new version of The Emancipation Proclamation.

                • Critic

                  The truth of the matter is that in reality you really are not the trailblazer in trying to negate the mystic aspect of Judaism.Ths Haskalah movement as well as it’s theological offspring,the Reform movement and arguably to a lesser degree the Conservative movement have attempted to do so.Good old Moish Mendelsohn, often referred to as the father of Haskala, did not express such extreme derogatory and reprehensible remarks about some of the greatest Torah luminaries as you do and yet what portion of his offspring remained in the fold of Jewry.
                  In our own time we have the Reconstructionist movement which proclaimed its manifesto of religion without superstition which is synonymous with religion without mysticism and ultimately the lack of belief in the Diety.
                  I have no quibble with your right to believe what you choose to believe and I’m not going to get into a vikuach with you about the veracity of your very slippery slope hashkofa. I’m sure that there are others that can do a much better job at that then I can.
                  My point of contention with you is that you try to pass yourself of as a Torah observant Jew when in reality your’e nothing more the some variant of Reconsructionisim and/or Haskalah .Your’e a wolf in sheep’s clothing and Hashem yishmor those who fall prey to your your sort of kiruv Please spare us your insulting, sanctimonious,self promoting platitudes such as your offer of words of comfort and solace.Your’e a disgrace to MO or any other form of Orthodoxy you claim allegiance to.

                  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

                    1) The slippery slope is itself a slippery slope — an informal fallacy — and ought not be applied while attempting to maintain intellectual integrity.

                    2) R’ Ishmael rejected mysticism as do many others through the ages while maintaining their grip on orthodoxy. R’ Schachter states explicitly that Judaism is about reality.

                    3) I don’t think you can even begin to pretend to know me — although you’ve now stated that you appreciate my essence. So how about you back away now when you can still redeem yourself as a product of anger and snap judgement.

                    4) I heartily disagree with your conclusions. Perhaps you’re the disgrace — how do you like that?

                    Rabbis say lots of things and they make lots of mistakes — just like military generals, meteorologists, game show contestants and physicians. Sometimes, though, there’s a hesitancy to call them out for those mistakes because the one who hesitates erroneously believes that any mistakes ascribed to said rabbis necessarily calls Judaism into question. But that’s not the case.

                    So when rabbis say ridiculous things, it’s not ok to side with them just because they’re rabbis. When the rabbis who say ridiculous things died long before it was accepted that said ridiculous things are ridiculous, we cut them some slack, just like we cut most anybody from the 18th century and before some slack. So you like mysticism — that’s fine. I don’t. Perhaps some other people do as well…well, I don’t really see the mysticism/masturbation link, so I wonder what someone who likes mysticism is doing on FrumSatire, seeing how mystics don’t question even the most ludicrous assertions of the midrash, I wonder why they have any problems at all with Judaism that they find solace or even humor in the things Heshy features here on his blog. But if you’re in that category, that’s really fine, too. I just didn’t know you existed.

                    But many observant Jews do exist who’ve failed to be debriefed — and that’s because they’ve reached a point in their life where they’re cognizant of the need to be debriefed. Most people never get it, they don’t see it and they therefore don’t miss it. But for those who do — which probably doesn’t include you — this may be an outlet for them to plug into. Don’t pretend that you’re a thorough follower of the Arizal and you stringently apply his methods of derivation and interpretation throughout. If you do, that’s fine, but you probably don’t belong here then, either. And don’t pretend that Rashi makes sense when he claims that Yakov didn’t die, and that Tosfos makes sense when he makes the claims he does, as outlined in my Vayechi post. Let’s all just stop pretending…now.

                    So if you’re not interested in making evaluations with clarity, you shouldn’t be reading this. You can go back to living in intellectual blindness, following the midrashic literature even when it makes no sense to you because you think that’s what Judaism demands. That’s really fine with me — but I don’t think you’re here because you’re fine with that.

                    And then there’s R’ Shlomo Ephraim Luntschitz, the author of the commentary known as the Kli Yakar. Not only was he very mystical but he also died in 1619. What could he possibly have known about the universe in 1602 when he published the Kli Yakar? I don’t know because I can’t imagine how backwards they were living in relation to how we live now and what we know now. So it’s not to his discredit that he was very mystical. But he’s just not my cup of tea. If he’s yours, that fine — you can go drink it, but I don’t like tea.

                    I find it strange when the things R’ Luntschitz says appear to have nothing to do with what he’s really ascribing them to, and everything to do with what he wants to bring out of the words of the text. Which is fine — it’s all very philosophical and at times exquisitely mystical and if that’s what you like, by all means, keep with it. But I don’t like it. He sounds like a shul rabbis who wants to say X and looks for a point in the Torah to plant in so that he can reap it 5 seconds later.

      • Anonymous

        There has not been a change in Judaism’s approach, just a proportional shift from mumars lhachis to mumars letayavon. To claim otherwise is flawed thinking.

      • Shnook

        I debated the value of responding to this reply and decided that 1) it’s unlikely that I’ll change your mind, and 2) the overwhelming outcry by the readers against your philosophy is heartening to me in that it demonstrates that those of your ilk are in the minority within Orthodox Judaism.

        Being a Brooklyn-born-bit chomper made it nearly impossible for me to resist the urge to post something, if only to make it clear that my silence is does not constitute my admission.

        1) Your dismissal of Rashi makes your dismissal of the Arizal and Kli Yakar less credible, not more.

        2) After all you admonitions of others against responding with emotion you resort to hyperbole? Who is the arbiter of what constitutes Judaism, Chabad, and their purported difference?

        3) I did not think a difference between distance from Torah and Judaism in terms of knowledge and distance in terms of heritage and ownership was too nuanced for someone of your superior cognitive capacities. There are and always have been those who have more or less advanced Torah knowledge. However, all Jews are close to it in terms of ownership and heritage.

        4) That someone with the Modern Orthodox bona fides you clearly have would decry modern approaches in favor of “traditional” ones is truly surprising. There is much debate about the Chabad philosophy and approach, but it is indisputable that Chabad’s open door policy is unparalleled in the world of Jewish outreach.

        5) Your straw-man argument about Sam Harris is quite lame. I’m sure if Mr. Harris were to enter a Chabad House during an in-progress Seder and stood up on a chair preaching his anti-religious sentiment he would be asked to leave. But so would someone who would behave in any other inappropriate manner. If, however, he asked for a Haggada to follow along, I’m sure it would be extended. He’d probably get some matza and wine as well. I’m not sure where he lives at this time, but I’ll bet you dollars to macaroons there is a vibrant Chabad in his neck of the woods bring the light of Torah to the masses.

        6) Rabbi Shmuley – mon d’char shmay?

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          1) Explain Rashi and Rashi will be accepted. His mysticism is from a time when mysticism was the norm — Medieval times were within the age of belief, which no longer exists. We know things to be true that Rashi was unfamiliar with and we know things to be false that Rashi was similarly unfamiliar with. While his halachic, grammatical and historical comments are acceptable, his mystical journeys following the fantastical model of Akivan philosophy are aggadic and midrashic and we are unbound to accept these as absolute and credible.

          2) No one — that’s why they continue to do what they do and others continue to do what they do. If you’re not interested in my opinion, do not ask for it. It’s no different than anything else, if you like strawberry, don’t complain that I mock its existence and choose mint.

          3) Again, your comments speak of such subtlety as to be nearly insignificant. Those who are completely unaffiliated or nearly so are interested not in the Torah and not in any supposed heritage that the Torah speaks of — they are one and the same, as far as they are concerned. As as for someone who’s cast off the yoke of Torah obligation, he is also disinterested in what the Torah says of his ties, for it’s a single entity and one cannot with intellectual honesty accept the authority of Leviticus 5:7 and not that of Leviticus 7:5 (verses chosen at random — do not look them up and complain, please.).

          4) Unparalleled speaks neither of its validity nor of its reproducibility. They have the most outreach, and so they have the most conversion (economically, not religiously, where conversion is synonymous with turn-over to the other side). I don’t get your point.

          5) Why is that inappropriate? In the haggadah, we speak of the unbelieving rasha who excludes himself from the community by applying the obligations to others but not himself. Does not this uninvitee do the same? He has jettisoned his faith, regardless of how he now relates to those still observant, and he is thus a glaring example of what Judaism has contempt for, even if we don’t actively have contempt for him while sitting in the chair at the table to which he is invited. OTDness is contemptuous in Judaism. Whether we feel compassionate, sadness or some other emotional connection to the one who’s OTD, the path he or she has chosen is one of definitiveness. That doesn’t mean he or she can’t return or won’t return, but the statement is still strong and repugnant, whether you like it or not.

          6) Well, R’ Shmuley was in this video with Sam Harris and I thought you’d find Harris’ argument cogent while R’ Boteach’s was quite inadequate. He used to represent Chabad and I believe that he still considers himself somewhat Lubavitch, although I’m not sure about that. He hasn’t responded to my emails since I was perhaps too probing in my question about his comments on the Dr. Phil show, so I doubt he’ll answer me now either.

      • Alter Cocker

        what does the dvar torah you linked to have to do with the kli yakar and the arizal?

    • Anonymous

      It seems to be a common thread of those brought up in a modern orthodox environment. They lack mesorah and understanding of the greatness of the previous gedolim. Since modern orthodoxy is a recent brand that broke off from mainstream orthodoxy they lack this important foundation. Hence, they have no issue with dismissing and mocking the writings of the Ari zal or the Kli Yakir, chalila.

      • Shnook

        If you’d followed the link the author posted in his reply to my original comment you’d see he is in fact correct. I need not have waited for him to dismiss the Arizal and Kli Yakar, he has already dismissed Rashi, and he is proud of this! Amoraim could not argue with Tanaim, Rishonim with Amoraim, etc. But the author has no compunction about nonchalantly dismissing the foremost commentary on the Torah. Arrogance is an understatement.

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          It is a fallacy to state that Amoraim could not argue with Tanaim. There is a famous line in the Talmud that Rav tanna hu u’palig — “Rav (the Amora) is really a Tanna and may argue [with the Tanaim].”

          The problem here is that R’ Yochanan disagrees with Rav on this point, and whenever there is a talmudic dispute between Rav and R’ Yochanan, we side with R’ Yochanan — how, then, can Rav maintain his ability to disagree with Tanaim?

          The answer is that Amoraim can argue with Tanaim — they just chose not to. Similarly, R’ Moshe wrote responsa that conflicted with the statements of the likes of the Vilna Gaon, and even though he maintained that the Vilna Gaon was a greater scholar than he was, R’ Moshe still found it appropriate and necessary to dispute both his findings and those of others, where applicable.

          And so while I do not hold myself equal to R’ Moshe, I do rest on the shoulders of others who disagree with the Kli Yakar, the Arizal and Rashi.

          But if you can explain Rashi, that would be great, since it seems you’re so bent on defending him.

          • Shnook

            I believe the case of your example of Rav is distinct because he was a first generation Amora born before the passing of the last of the Tanaim. I may be wrong, but that certainly distinguishes him from Amoraim of later generations whose arguments against Tanaim were not accepted unless they found a Braisa or the like in which a Tanaic opinion was found that concurred with that of the Amora.

            Rav Moshe, although by his own admission not on the level of the Vina Gaon, may be considered to be a later generation Acharon. I have no problem with you accepting the views of those who oppose the above mentioned sages; I take issue with the arrogant tone of your dismissiveness. Since by your own admission you need to work on your humility, I’ll leave it at that.

            If Rashi need anyone to defend him, I would be the last person he’d choose (yes, even after you :)). The Rebbe of Lubavitch addressed the Gemara in Taanis and Rashi’s commentary on it here: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/93597/jewish/Of-Eternal-Life.htm. Interestingly, in footnote 45 he is left with a “tzarich iyun” on a side point of Rashi’s comment, but he apparently accepts this as either a shortcoming in his understanding of the depth of Rashi’s insight, or as he suggests, a matter of discussion for another forum.

            I’ll leave you with this. I read shoshana’s comment below and your response to it. I’m not sure if, despite her critique of you, you were nicer to her than to others in this thread because she is a gioress or because you truly appreciated her comments. But I will say that your candid story about your father-in-law’s comment is much appreciated. No one can accuse him of being a Chasid or a sympathizer of Chabad, so if he gives you musar about your demeanor it’s probably coming from a place of truth, not from a place of confrontation.

            • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

              I’d have to say that of all the people you mention, the Lubavitcher Rebbe is most suspect when he says things that goes against the accepted scientific consensus only because he died in 1994, well into what can be considered the most recent era of scientific discovery, while the Vilna Gaon, for instance, died in 1797, more than 100 years before the discovery of the first virus in 1898. Something the Vilna Gaon said that seems utterly bizarre can be written off as due to his lack of knowledge of the universe, while something as equally bizarre stated by the Lubavitcher Rebbe must be written off either due to his ignorance or his lack of understanding of contemporary science and perhaps aided by a tenacious devotion to what he saw as things necessary to deny in order to comply with the Torah. I don’t think we need to repeat an analysis of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s opinions, but suffice it to say that they are very strange indeed. And because Chabad is so unified in theology and philosophy, they are much more a singular unit when it comes to praise and criticism as, say, YU — like how silly it was somewhere above when people made an attempt to pinpoint my hashkafa based on my having attended YU.

              But as to Shoshana’s comment and my response — I think it’s emblematic of how discourse should occur here, rather than anything purposefully downplayed for the benefit of a convert. She made some some points: I am human, I do have flaws and I make mistakes. I don’t think is one of them, she might disagree and that’s that. It’s when people post inappropriately that I feel the need to strike back, as do most people, with wit and sharpness.

  • shoshana

    Well, well, well… Where do I start?

    Let me state first, dear Author, that I respect your right to choose whom you invite to your house and when. It’s your home, your party and your decision. I also admire your eloquence and perspicacity, your search for truth and intellectual sharpness that are the signs of a well-developed mind.

    One part of your story is puzzling though. It is a little strange to me that you overlooked a simple fact that if your never observant quests belong to “his tight group of friends” then for sure they will talk about the dinner and then without your presence any of your kiruv efforts could be obliterated in the matter of minutes. Not necessarily because “the rasha” will say something against Judaism or you, but because the real reason of his exclusion will be crystal clear. That, in my humble opinion is a worse message than the message he would have brought with himself to your dinner. Message we can state in a simple words as follows: “Judaism is beautiful and fun, but lest your stray we don’t want you anymore”. This is antithetical to Judaism though. Why then the place occupied by Baal Tshuva is more important than that of the tzaddik?

    But I don’t really want to argue about it because verbosity of your comments that highly exceeds your original post provided me already with all your arguments. And I guess you will just repeat them over and over.

    What I want to address in my comment specifically is that not necessarily opposition you get here is a result of people being OTD, or not frum enough or not knowing/understanding you. It’s a very natural reaction to the way of arguing. The biggest danger of a well-developed intellect is that it can easily fool its owner that his fear, anger or other emotions can be rationally justified and logically explained. And in case someone doesn’t accept this explanation it means that he is lacking or knowledge or understanding. This can prevent person to proverbially look in the mirror, because even if he will look in it he will see only his intellect flares that defend him from seeing the real image. That being said, I think that more your comments than original post enraged the people and the reason it got so many comments is that you engaged in commenting with great fervor.

    Of course nobody knows you here in person, but your words expose your way of thinking and create some image in minds of your readers. The accuracy of the image you project here is your responsibility, so maybe instead of rejecting all derogatory comments you can use them to improve your self presentation. You come across as a know-it-all, as person who can’t learn from anybody but rabbis with the great names. Humility doesn’t seem to be your strength.

    I will let myself be even more straightforward at the risk that feeling offended you will just dismiss my comment as a ravings of a lunatic. But what you wrote about Judaism in general, as some commentators suggested before, reveals that you are a person who mightily struggles with faith himself. There is no scientific evidence for Judaism tenets, but there is no scientific evidence for secularism tenets as well. In fact there is no philosophical system that has scientific explanation. The scientific explanation is based always on some philosophical principles.

    Now, I am a convert and I was attracted to Judaism on the basis of intellectual fascination. No amount of nice Shabbat dinners would do in my case. What attracted me to Judaism are profound insights about human nature that surpass achievements of modern psychology. I’m nowhere close to explore them all and appreciate the vast richness of Truth embedded in them, but I’m still in awe despite the flaws of frum people I met. Hashem didn’t makes us perfect, He doesn’t expect instant perfection from the day we were born, He is a Loving Father that will never forget about his child even if the child goes astray. That’s why I don’t feel urge to always be right and explain away anything that could cast doubt on my character.

    • Anonymous

      The only thing more beautiful than your sentiment is that I’m poster #300.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      That was a great post.

      I will explain my robust dismissal of the abundant criticism above as a product of the discussions I’ve had with a few close friends, both lay and rabbinical, who’ve expressed nothing but magnificent surprise at the response this post has generated. Neither I nor they, as they tell me, would have ever suspected the magnitude of negative feedback and the degree of harshness of the commenters.

      When comments first began coming in, I’ll admit I was a bit taken aback. Perhaps I did miss something; perhaps I did make an objective error. And so I did what anyone should do in such a situation — consult my superiors. Even though the commenters made it clear that they all thought of themselves as my superior, I chose not to consult them but my lay and rabbinical friends, colleagues and mentors who possess introspective powers far more penetrative than I, and even when their powers are equal to mine in certain categories, they still possess something that I can never achieve — they are not me. As you’ve so amicably pointed out, one is often at a loss when attempting to evaluate oneself, and so I turn to these people. And when each and every one of them backed me up, I was emboldened…perhaps too much, though.

      In retrospect, I sense that this all came about because of a tone, as you and others have stated, that I wrote in and a lack of recognizance for who I am, which you and others have also pointed out. One can never tell if those I’ve consulted really back me up — for we cannot read their minds — but I really do perceive their sincerity in responding to my inquiries. As such, I was propelled — and I say that not to lay blame on others — to defend my position without surrendering even a single nanometer.

      And regarding your comment about my lack of humility — I do need to work on that, notwithstanding my stance on this issue, which I still maintain. Upon seeing me with a Mesilas Yesharim once, my father-in-law told me, “I think you can skip the chapter on alacrity, but you might want to read the chapter on humility twice.”

      And about the invited guests — they are so far removed from Judaism that none of this will enter their minds for some years to come, if it ever does. So perhaps I’ve misrepresented their position on the ladder, so to speak, or their progress as of yet.

      I look forward to reading your responses on future posts. Have a great Yom Tov!

      • oy

        I would advise you to show this to an unbiased indivdual you respect, who does not know you. Or to a man you respect, who has had the courage in the past to tell you off when he believed you to be wrong (I am not ignoring the possibilities that this may have occurred and that this sentence was horribly formulated (or that the somewhat self referencing statement is unclear as to what part of itself it was referencing adinfinitum)). It is quite possible your “friends” do not have the courage to say what an anonymous blogger who will not suffer repercussions can say. Based on your argumentative responses to many comments, I know many of your aquaintances may not wish to risk your response. (I do not mean it in a pejorative sense, I also happen be argumentative (not a proof that it is not pejorative, just a proof that I don’t consider it as such(presuming that I have a healthy ego)), but this is the reality as I perceive it) If you were intelligent, you would take both your friends’ and the anonymous posters’ opinion with a chunk of salt. Of course the irony is that I’m an anonymous poster. Well we’ll just have to live with that. Chag Sameach and may you not suffer from excess matzah remnants in your large intestine or trying to figure out what I said in my somewhat disjointed fashion (I am at a “fabrengen”, don’t ask).

        • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

          Did you receive my email?

          • Anonymous

            yes just checked it now

  • Scared for Life

    Kiruv is so important. I went to a shteeble and cannot believe you about the horror stories how this shul treated my family. This was not a Chabad shul, but a typical black hat Orthodox Shul. Going there for almost ten years the shul did not involve me with any activity in the shul. For a ten year period, I could not even hold a Torah for Simchat Torah. I still feel the pain and sadness to this very day. The Rabbi mocked my father in a speech on Shabbat where the entire congregation laughed. I have so much anger for them. They are foolish, because my anger causes the evil eye to be against them. When I left the shul not one person could have cared a less. I will never want to bring my son Orthodox.

    • Anonymous

      If your story is true, why would you stay there for ten years?

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      That’s quite unfortunate — but it has nothing to do with my post nor the very many comments for or against my position here. With little detail and what could very easily amount to an inordinate emphasis on all the unfavorable things that you perceive as having been done to you, your story is regrettable but I can’t really dissect it.

  • UltraConservative

    Hey, Chag sameach everyone.

    I one for one would like to support your decision. It’s your seder, and you have an important mission in mind.
    I just seder with my mikarev Rabbi, who kirev me to become BT.
    Nobody else was invited from the people who come to his services or kiruv events, because he knew they would likely detract from his seder (for different reasons than yours).
    I don’t think that this person who went OTD can reasonably expect to enjoy the benefits of Judaism and reject it simultaneously. That’s called eating your cake and having it too.

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:DRosenbach DRosenbach

      Thanks

  • Orthodox

    The son who does not know how to ask does not know how to ask because his previous attempts were met with disdain. Our role is to open him up and make him comfortable to ask.

    This thought comes from a lecture by Rabbi Frank, the Manahel of the Bobov Yeshiva in Toronto. But it is not something you would have heard or understood because it was delivered in Yiddish at a Belzer Shteebel in Monsey. If you do manage to convert a few of your cohorts to your version of lightweight BT superobservence it will only be a matter of time until they wind up in Passaic, Lakewood or Monsey with their skirt rulers and internet campaigns to be followed 15 years later by their lamentations for their confused and angry OTD kids.

    • Phil

      What are you talking about. Did you read the posts or are you writing your own new idea?

      • Orthodox

        My post is directed at DRosenbach who feels that he is in a position to judge his OTD coworker, causing pain and embarrasment to a fellow Jew. If DRosenbach really wished to fulfill the charge of the Hagadah, following Rabbi Frank’s suggestion, he should invite and open up the Seder to the son who does not know how to ask questions.

        More likely is that DRosenbach does not know how to give answers. Soon enough, he will fall back into the relative obscurity of tilting at Wikipedia. Believe me, I know Rabbi Rietti, DRosenbach, you are no Rabbi Rietti, and he is just fine without your support.

  • tommy

    When do you have time to work as a dentist if you are wasting so much time posting on this website?

  • Alter Cocker

    Heshy came back, knocked this off the front page, and foiled our quest for 400. Too bad.

    • Alter Cocker

      also not nearly among the most read posts, maybe a thousand more views needed.

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      thanks for the tasty spam