Sunday, December 25, 2011


Reflecting the Light, or Not

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths


This past week there was big and somewhat sad news in the Jewish religious social world.  A major new generation Jewish religious pop singer cut off his beard and payos (Jewish side locks), declaring he’s “no longer a (Jewish religious style) singer, he’s just a singer”.

And there was big social news in Israel, in Beit Shemesh, as a wacked group of crazed zealots who dresses as ultra-orthodox Jews (and represents themselves as such) returned to their battle against a neighborhood Jewish religious-but-not ultra-orthodox school by attacking 7 year old school girls right in front of TV reporters.

We Jews have a problem, or rather a responsibility.  We’re told by G-d to be a nation of priests, a holy nation.  We are literally the representatives of G-d and His Torah in this world.  That is not, G-d forbid, to brag in some way, exactly the opposite!  We carry an awesome responsibility.

We are the agents of G-d who brought a model of civilization and morals to the world.  “Human rights” is originally a Jewish concept, one that DID NOT EXIST prior to the Jewish people (though the latest generation has taken it too far, out of balance – but that’s another discussion).

We are the chosen people, chosen to be held up as the example of how to be.  If we’re not being our best, then we’re not only disgracing G-d and His Torah publically, we’re literally turning back civilization, good morals and G-d’s plan.

Every parent with young children knows when (G-d help us) he’s lost his temper or done something inappropriate in front of one of the children he’ll get the surprise of his life as the child repeats it back minutes or hours later.  A curse word or kicking of a chair, where’d that come from?  Oh, me.

The Jewish singer who cut his beard and payos insists he’s still religious.  I can’t judge what’s in his heart, that’s between him and Hashem.  But he represented himself as an ultra-orthodox man who could reach across boundaries and touch Jews less religious, marginally religious or not religious.  He gave them pride in being Jewish as he mixed ultra-orthodox Jewish concepts and appearance with a form of music they could relate to.

He put himself out there in the role, a shining example reaching a new generation.  And now he’s effectively said “whoops, sorry, doesn’t work”.  While he may be as Torah observant as he was the day before (and there is no requirement to have a long uncut beard or long payos, both are extra-stringencies, so he’s not violating any Torah law by removing them), that’s not the way it will be interpreted.  He’s violated the role he placed himself into, which was a contemporary modern model of the holy role of a representative of G-d and His Torah in a very very public way.

He’s been a wandering soul who hasn’t stuck too long in any path he’s been in.  But now he has young children (with long payos) so hopefully he’ll learn that such swings affect others when you’re a parent….and when you’ve leveraged your image into a “star”.

Similarly our local zealots don’t realize that to the outside world they are the representatives of G-d and His Torah.  When they are chasing little girls because they disagree with the length or color of their clothing which are fully within religious boundaries but not within the zealots personal restrictions – actions which absolutely are not permitted under any definition of Judaism, Torah, chassidism, charedism that I understand or recognize – they are representing their actions as Torah!  There is no excuse for what they are doing, it’s criminal and should be dealt with as such.

And worse, they’ve represented G-d and His Torah via their personal problems.  Hashem Yishmor.


  1. I have mixed feelings about this as a bal teshuva. I came to yiddishkeit out of an intellectual and spiritual belief in the torah and chazal. Once you start studying the torah with honesty, you can't help but see that it is emmes, but it is very hard to navigate the intricacies of frum social and theological life. How do you decide which little niche, chassidic, litvish, MO, fits you--they all have strengths and weaknesses in terms of culture. Even if you find a community and a personal avodah that's "just your temperature" it may not be where your kids end up. You just have to do the best you can and be a mensch, and things will hopefully turn out ok. I wish Mattisyahu and his family nachas and success on his spiritual, artistic and human journey on this Channukah.

  2. Anonymous, sometimes you just have to tell people, "Pardon my dust while I am renovating myself." ...and be the best jew you can be and you don't have to meanly challenge everyone that comes your way or be rude for example when you stnd up for yourself, just do what gets you closer to Hashem and d o it with happiness and an understanding that you owe no human being a rationalization or reason. If they look at you with disdain or whatever just underatand you are growing and you are an individual and not meant to be a carbon copy of anyone else. Hashem created everyone with their own uniqueness....

  3. I wish all my blessings of the most high El Shadai this chanuchaha to Mattasyahu .unlike any other jew of the last decade he sanctified Hashems name in front of literally 10s of millions ! ASs for the chasidim God only knows there issues !

  4. listen the chasidim have a point hitler butshered 6 million and we have hangups we are afraid of Hashems wrath I dont blame them . Turning 7 yeard old girls into objests of lust is unfair though . I hope mashiach comes soon to straiten out Mattiyahus mess for He glorified the King in front of millions and straightens out the mess yes the mamash disaster of the frum from birth world .Baal tshuvas like Mattiyahu are sick of there lies . In the meantime it would also be nice this xmas as jc being the gilgul of esau if Hashem could remove the letter vav from his name and give it too yaakov .

  5. I don't like the part about 'distancing' from Matisyahu as well as the Haredi thugs in Beit Shemesh. We are all on this boat together. If there are issues within the community, it's better to deal with them then say, not mine.

    Matisyahu proved that And now he’s effectively said “whoops, sorry, doesn’t work”. It does not work for most religious people to be living up the high-life of being a celebrity being given red carpet treatment and appearing in videos with scantily clad women. Definitely, doesn’t work.

    As for Beit Shemesh, it looks like we are on the way to creating Meah Shearim II, and the media are being complicit instead of attempting to protect democracy, they are inciting the flames.

  6. Did solomon appear with skantely clad women he did have 1000 wives who were the most beautiful women in the worlds all 9's and 10's in the miss universe pageant . It says solomons heart was turned by women unlike his father David .

  7. So maybe Mattityahu decided that the Torah of Moshe is simply enough and the takanot of the rabbi's are completely false. Kol hakavod as another see's the falisy in our path that has strayed. Only until Jews wake up and return to the Torah like Mattityahu has apparently done, will we enter the geulah.

  8. Maybe the zealots are to blame for Mattityahu change of hashkafa.

    May the Charadim Rabbanim and their handlers are also to blame for Mattityahu change of hashkafa.

    I think most readers and contributers here would agree that what the zealots are doing by Orot is completely wrong.

    It is also wrong that the Charadim Rabbanim don't actively protest the zealots corrupt torah life style. I know there has been a handful who have in the past mention that is was wrong, but that is not enough. They need to speak louder, they need to make tapes, video and actively condemn and protest the zealots. They need to send 10,000 men to the zealots own community and protest against them so it is loud and clear for the entire Jewish community to hear. They need to stop worrying making arguments against other charadim and show the other Jews and the world that the zealots have crosses a line and gone to far.

    In this case you are either for or against and if you don’t speak up you are against the Orot girls and for the zelots. It is as if all the Charadim Rabbanim have called that girl names and spit on her.

    I don't think anyone is perfect and we should work on following real Mitzvot and not make up new chumrot that have no torah bases or past customs, especially when they effect other people who may not want to follow those made up chumrot. The Charadim Rabbanim need to fight against crazy made up chumrot that have no Torah source and put a stop to it.

    - dovid from modiin

  9. I also suggest reading;
    The blog from Rav Harry Maryles - Human Pieces of Garbage and their Enabler
    The ynet article - MKs urge Rabbinate to denounce zealots.

    - dovid from modiin

  10. One chassidic rapper (an African-American convert) went to Israel, witnessed "what charedim are like in Israel" and then decided he wasn't chassidic anymore. It's true that the negative actions of the zealots create such a big chillul hashem that it makes Jews throughout the world ashamed, and less likely to become or stay observant.


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