Thursday, July 18, 2013

Of dead rebbes and living "Gedolim"

Question:  Why are Lubavitch and Breslov so popular with baalei teshuvah?
Answer: Their rebbes are dead.

In case you're thinking that I have a sick sense of humor, here's my logic.  Both Nachman of Breslov and Menachem Mendel Schneerson live on in their writings and in the stories told about them by their Hasidim.  And, needless to say, these stories tend to skew very positive.  After all, who is going to say that their late, great Grand Rebbe is a schmuck?  And, since they are deceased, none of their actions can belie their reputations.  Unlike say, Satmar or Bobov, where the movement has split along which of Reb Yoelish's or Rabbi Halberstam's descendants is actually the true Rebbe, and which is the wannabe (isn't this what split the Church into Catholic and Eastern Orthodox factions?), or Skver, where the Rebbe may or may not have sent his houseboy to burn a guy's house down (this actually happened), all we have to go off of are memories.  And acharei mos kedoshim, these memories tend to emphasize what a nice guy these rebbes were.
Lest you think I am needlessly picking on Hasidim, I have to say that the Litvish are no better.  In fact they are often worse.  Far, far worse.  Fail to toe the party line, whether you are Dov Lipman or Avi Weiss, and you find yourself on the receiving end of wrath bordering on excommunication.  The roshei yeshiva are quick to cast out the "other," even if this "other" includes their own colleagues.  At least the Hasidim, who have central leadership, tend to leave other Jews alone.

Monday, July 8, 2013

What did I sign up for--To tell or not to tell

OK, just so we're clear, I DID NOT leave Builder because of homeschooling.  What he did to me was far worse.  In fact, it was criminal.  (Builder, if you or any of your allies are reading this--and since you brought up my blog in court, I know you are--I did not leave over homeschooling, religion, advice from my allies or anything else.)
This puts me in a quandary.  What do I do with Builder?
The truth is, I could possibly prosecute him for his actions.  But what would I gain?  And more importantly, what would I lose?
I have seen what happens in this community.  Just look at the Weberman case.  The entire community held public rallies to support him.  Meanwhile, his victim was publicly shamed.  Her family was shunned.  Her siblings were kicked out of school.  Her husband and father both had their businesses affected.  She was harassed, intimidated, photographed in court.  Her name appeared on posters all over Williamsburg.  Or look at poor Aron Rottenberg.  For the simple crime of changing the venue in which he davened, his house was almost bombed.
All of this could happen to me.  (Except for the bombing part--I think Builder wants his house back eventually, with or without me in it.)
With my daughters starting school in the fall, I have to be very careful.  I can't afford to let myself become a pariah to such an extent that it affects them.  Unless I get permission to relocate (and that's not easy), I'm stuck here.  And, yes, while it would be empowering to report Builder for his actions, and it might ensure that he could never do anything like this to anyone else, I have to worry about the backlash.
And that's disturbing. 
As I've said before, this community could give the Mafia lessons on omerta.  Mesirah, or ratting out your fellow Jew to the secular authorities, is an evil on par with murder, idolatry, or leaving the house bareheaded.  This is despite the fact that the United States government is not the Grand Inquisitor, the SS, or the Cossacks.  Meanwhile, the perpetrator, is treated like a victim, and funds are raised for pidyon shevuyim (redeeming a captive).  Um, whatever happened to dina malchutah dina?  Or establishing courts, which is not only a mitzvah but a Noahide law?    Or that wonderful line in Pirkei Avos about praying for the welfare of the government, because without it, a man would swallow his fellow alive?  Judaism is more than the minutae of Shabbos.  It's more than using an electron microscope to check for bugs in the lettuce.  It's about loving justice.  It's about not doing what is hateful to your fellow man.  It's about being a light unto the nations.  Unfortunately, every single crime we perpetuate against our fellow man is a choking layer of grime over our light.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day?

Well, once again I was in court.  Once again, it was a lot of nothing.  Builder is now obligated to pay support.  (Thank you, Judge DV).  My lawyer is too expensive, so I'm going for court-appointed counsel.  And AriSparkles, who has been BFF, babysitter, and bodyguard all rolled into one, is now enjoined from seeing the Things until she passes a security clearance.    (Shouldn't take too long.)  Also, we have to be seen by a "forensic evaluator," which I am preparing for like ACS is coming. 
Some lessons here:
  1. Be VERY CAREFUL what goes onto social media.  I think my FB was hacked, and I know my blog was read, since it was referenced in court.  Because my comments are usually oblique, the worst thing they could say about me is that I like my sister-in-law.
  2. "Zealous representation" clearly means different things to different people.
  3. Sometimes the judge is your best ally.
  4. If Builder can play games and split hairs, so can I.
  5. This thing requires seriously dirty pool.
Happy Fourth of July, everyone!