Monday, March 31, 2008

Cross-Currents Digs Lipa!

Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein posts "The Mistake of One-Stop Torah Shopping" at Cross-Currents. Overall, it's a good essay which makes some important points about the trend of local rabbinic leadership abdicating responsibilities to Israeli Gedolim and its a worthwhile read.

However, Rabbi Adlerstein can't seem to get past his original take that the Lipa ban was/is inconsequential. In this essay, he throws in a dig at critics of the ban's language.

He writes:
Sometime after the petirah of R. Moshe zt”l and R. Yaakov zt”l, a group of people essentially came to the conclusion that there was no one left in America worth addressing questions to, whether of the halachic or daas Torah type. They determined that the mantle of leadership for America had shifted to Bnei Brak and Yerushalayim. This was hardly a unanimous decision, but the group could claim both strong leadership and large numbers of followers. Those to whom the questions were addressed would often demur, arguing that the questions should properly be brought to talmidei chachamim closer to the source of the question. The questioners, however, were persistent, and argued that the local talmidei chachamim themselves wanted nothing more than the counsel of the luminaries in Israel. Gradually, it became the standard practice in much of the Torah world.

The result is that responses and standards that are entirely appropriate to the special conditions of Israeli Torah life are quickly flown across the Atlantic to waiting consumer markets here. Many people thought they “caught” the kanoim who pushed the Lipa concert ban in a crude error. The letter signed by American roshei yeshiva was originally written about Israeli concerts, and still contained the reference to them, rather than to American concerts. I don’t think it was an error or oversight at all. The full expectation of many people by now is that if something is true in Israel, then it is true here as well. Why should there be a difference?
Once again, Rabbi Adlerstein seems to be missing the point.

The reason the language of the ban, erroneously referring to Eretz Yisroel instead of America, is of note is because it clearly demonstrates -- using the language of the ban itself-- that said text was not read carefully prior to publication. In other words, the mistaken language shows that the banners rushed to print/publicize something damaging to others without even carefully reading what they'd signed. This in and of itself demonstrates a huge problem with the process.

Rabbi Adlerstein suggests that the ban signers would in fact agree with "Da'as Torah" in E'Y that all concerts are prohibited. As such, he suggests, that the language might not have been a mistake. The problem with this notion is that its simply not true.

In an earlier post on the subject, Rabbi Adlerstein "read between the lines" and attempted to explain Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky's comments to the Jewish Star. Obviously, he's read the Jewish Star interview.

Here's what Rabbi Kamenetzky told the Jewish Star about the text:
“It is very general, you’re right, but I don’t think it will refer to all concerts. You have to have an outlet for kids.”
At least one of the ban signers, one who Rabbi Adlerstein clearly respects, is not opposed to all concerts and explicitly said so in an interview Rabbi Adlerstein has quoted from in the past. (Allegedly, there are other signers who feel this way as well. Wouldn't it be nice if they said so publicly?)

In light of this, why is Rabbi Adlerstein suggesting that the language accurately represents the beliefs of the signers? It doesn't and he ought to be aware of this.

Additionally, even if one were to grant Rabbi Adlerstein's premise that all the ban signers accepted Israeli Da'as Torah on concerts, the problem of imprecise language being used in a public pronouncement should still be troubling. As any Ben Torah ought to know, the precision of language is important to the halachik process, even if one can't be "medayek" in Acharonim to the same level as with Tannaim, Amoraim, and Rishonim.

Anyhow, while we're talkin' 'bout Cross-Currents...

Rabbi Avi Shafran is one of Cross-Currents' writers. He wrote a piece purporting to explain the ban for Hamodia, "The Really Big Event". Why didn't he post it on Cross-Currents? It would seem relevant to Cross-Currents' goal. He's published other articles that have appeared elsewhere on Cross-Currents. Why not this one?

Here's part of Cross-Currents "About Us" self-description.
Cross-Currents is a journal of thought and reflections, from an array of Orthodox Jewish writers. We post about issues of the day and issues of our days, representing our individual perspectives.

By hearing about Orthodoxy from the Orthodox, it is our hope that you will — if not a member of our community — develop a more balanced and nuanced perspective than that which you find in the general and Jewish media.

In recent years, weblogs have provided a forceful alternative to mainstream media outlets, even discrediting stories that appeared on the major news networks. In 2004, having seen the effectiveness of these political weblogs, Rabbi Yaakov Menken of Project Genesis suggested to Rabbi Adlerstein the development of an online Jewish journal using the same technology — and the new was born.

Stories about Orthodox Jews and Judaism which misrepresent us are frequent fare in both the Jewish and secular press, and many of our essays discuss these as well. We also offer an alternative view of the modern twists on the timeless Torah, or instruction, that is Judaism, so often glowingly chronicled in the other outlets you may read.

This, then, is our take on the news, a different perspective than the one you are used to seeing. We’ll be self-critical, yes, but analytical and fair as well. Some will tell you that we’re engaging in “apologetics,” but we are unafraid to help those with a more honest and impartial viewpoint to understand how we actually see things, versus what the media might tell you.
Seems like Rabbi Shafran's essay fits the Cross-Currents frame, as the Lipa ban is one of the most blogged about communal issues of late. Of course, posting the essay would allow for it to be easily linked to and commented on. And, then Cross-Currents moderators would have to choose between allowing critical comments to go up (most of the comments on their earlier posts were critical) or choosing to censor the comments, with the resultant loss of integrity apparent to those regular readers who submitted comments.

Incidentally, I critiqued Rabbi Shafran's essay, in part, here.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

From the mailbag...

Here's some non-Lipa email...

Zal forwards a link to this article about an Australian woman who pleaded guilty fatally stabbing her boyfriend because he objected to her listening to Bruce Springsteen.

PT forwards a link to a profile of Naomi Less and "Jewish Chicks Rock" over at Present Tense. Here's a taste;
For starters, Less plans to develop a unique blend of Torah values and punky girl-power pop that will equip Jewish teens with the tools they need to build their own identities and hone their individual voices to express what is hitting them right now. This new music will be well-produced pop music—“like Pink meets Avril Lavigne”—but the messages will be “very now, powerful, and Jewish-values laden,” Less says. Case in point: the first song Less has written for the endeavor, an upbeat stomper titled “Responsibility,” details the inner struggle of an uncomfortable adolescent watching from the sidelines as two bullies pick on another girl.

Yet while her own music is a crucial component of Jewish Chicks Rock, Less outlines an even more intriguing second phase: a traveling tour with a killer backup band and a few different Jewish rocker chick frontwomen. “They will share how they got to where they are, what their struggles were, what they’re proud of, whatever they’re good at that embodies the `them’ that they are right now: scars, skeletons and all.” Less explains. “I’m not proud of everything I’ve done, but it made me who I am.” Eventually, she hopes, “there will be little pockets of girls around that will want to begin this in their own communities, that will want to express themselves creatively and through their Jewish identities.”
Ezra Glinter writes:
I just wrote an article for the Forward about Pro Musica Hebraica, a Washington D.C. organization that may be of interest to you. You can check it out online here:
"Post Columnist Starts Jewish Music Project "

Lipa - The Gift That Keeps On Giving!

The Jewish Press has another "Letter To The Editor" about the Lipa ban. This time, it's another regular JP correspondent, Rabbi Moshe Shochet, defending the rabbonim. Actually, to be more accurate, he's not so much defending the rabbonim as denying the right to question them. The Wolf From Da Hood fisks this one too.

(We'd previously encountered Rabbi Shochet here.)

From the Jewish Weak Purim spoof, here's "33 Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis Ban Purim." The lede:
Fresh from their success in canceling a chasidic music concert that would have benefited orphans in Israel, 33 fervently ultra-Orthodox rabbis have decided to cancel the holiday of Purim because it could lead to “spiritual joy, brotherly love – and worse,” they said in a statement today.
A. writes:
See Daas Torah for Danny Eidenson's quote of the Chazon Ish, re saying negative things about influential rabbis who need to be "outed".
Menachem writes:
To me, #21 on your list is worst than most of the others combined! Keep up the great work
Psachya forwards a link to "Ban Banning" and writes:
The article I just sent you was the last article that Rabbi Eli Teitelbaum published in Country Yossi Magazine before his untimely passing. I think it's worth sharing. The frum community - and, more specifically, the frum musical community - has lost a beyond-great advocate. He will be sorely missed.
Shalom writes:
I am saddened to hear of the loss of Rabbi Teitelbaum; he was my 4th grade rebbe, and one of the very few people I can remember-- be they faculty or students-- from the 5+ years that I had to attend that school, whom I have (some) fond memories of.

It wasn't just his wonderful stories, or his electronic wizardry. I remember vividly one class where he was teaching hilchos Shofar, when he demonstrated graphically that there was no set limit to the number of blasts in a teruah by pulling out a shofar and blowing a teruah that just went on and on and on (I lost count after 49 blasts); the whole class was rolling by the time he finally ran out of gas. Wasn't he a clarinetist once?

On another topic, and you can edit this for length if you want: I was recently listening to the first Mark 3 album, "The New Jewish Sound", with an ear toward dubbing it to CD so I can listen in the car. [1] This was one of my favourite albums back when I was a kid, playing it on my parents' Voice of Music stereo hi-fi set (ceramic cartridge, three tubes). Even on modern equipment it sounds perhaps a bit primitive by today's standards, but remember this was cut 42 years ago, and it was literally the first of its type: modern JM, as we know it, started here. [2]

I was wondering, though, who exactly played on this record. The only musicians credited are Sy Kushner (accordion), who is or was until recently still in the business; Jordan Penkower (alto), now a professor in Israel; and Benjamin Hulkower (drums), who's now a well-known psychologist in California. There are, however, five other instruments audible on the record: trombone, clarinet, trumpet (or other horn in that approximate range), bass, and electric guitar. None of these are credited. (There is a note that says "Special thanks to Mike Chernick and Jackie Gross", but no indication of what they did, or even if they were musicians in the first place.) I'd guess that there weren't any overdubs, given that all eleven tracks were cut in one day (6/13/66), so they were probably all separate musicians.

Do you, or any of your readers, have any idea of who these sidemen were?

footnotes: [1] Not successful. Of the three copies I was able to lay my hands on, only one was stereo, and all three were worn to some extent. I do have noise reduction software, but it made things worse, given that a trombone's waveform looks like noise to a noise-filter plugin. It would be nice to see this remastered, if anyone can find the master.

[2] Yah, there were folk-type albums like Shlomo Carlebach's first two, chassidish stuff like Nichoach (and the first two Pirchei albums, which were in the same style and probably had the same personnel, if I'm not mistaken), Modzitz, maybe Chazan Dovid Werdyger's Gerer stuff, and maybe a couple of Rudy Tepel wedding albums, but the pop-style, wedding-band-style albums that are so ubiquitous today weren't around yet, at least I'm not familiar with any older ones that have survived. Even the Rabbis' Sons were still a year away from making their first LP, and Neginah's first release wasn't until '71.
Meanwhile, this Purim, Lipa apparently dressed up as the lead singer for Yidcore.

Hey L-o-R, it was Purim, give the guy a break. He's had a rough few weeks. When, if not on Purim, is Gospel traditional Jewish music appropriate?

Besides, we've already clarified that calling a performance something else like "rally" instead of "concert" makes it permissible. So, let's see... humorous outfit, women sitting in the same room as the men with no mechitza... hmm... I've got it... just call it a Mitzvah Tants. Yeah, that's it, it was a Mitzvah Tants. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, Lipa's main approved income source is as a badchan. Just another day at the office...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Concerted Effort

Hirhurim asks "Jerusalem United: Why No Ban?" R' Gil wants to know why the Jerusalem United event wasn't banned. He asks:
Is calling it a rally a way around the ban?"
One commentor claims to know that that is the case. If he's right it's just sad. Semantical Judaism, not just a slogan; its a way of life!

Meanwhile, Life-of-Rubin posts about Yerachmiel Begun's Chol Hamoed concert announcement.

He asks:
Why is a mixed seating event with the Miami Boys Choir, Avraham Fried, Baruch Levine and Michoel Prusansky any less wrong, any less evil then a SEPARATE seating Lipa/Gertner concert. Because one is in MSG and the other Brooklyn College??
This is playing out exactly as expected. It amplifies the wrong done through the "Big Event" ban. News Flash: This isn't going to go away. The Chareidi leadership should address the topic honestly.

3/25/08 Link Dump

Jewess posts a detailed recap of the recent Rose On Fire festival in NYC, a women-only musical event.

Lenny Solomon writes "The Sheya Mendlowitz Story." No mention of the "Big Event" ban.

Breslov World posts "Return of the Troubador", an interview with Hezy Levy. Hezy introduced himself here a while back.

YNW posts about " an event that with no doubt was the greatest display of Kiddush Hashem in Los Angeles history.' A bit full of ourselves, are we?

How come we don't have programs like this here? I don't know the Roma musicians, but on the Yiddish side, that's a great band! I've only had the pleasure of playing with 5/8ths of the band.

The Center for Traditional Music and Dance remembers the late Rudy Tepel and Marty Levitt, two klezmer/hassidic style clarinetists who died recently.

L-o-R posts a "leaked" an as yet unreleased "Lipa" song.

Finally, here's a very odd JM press release.


It's now been over one month since the Lipa concert ban was announced, yet (aside from the meaningless "Hamodia" non-response), no explanations have been forthcoming. This is not surprising, but it is disappointing. It does prove that those who counsel waiting for clarification are either naive or disingenuous.

It also demonstrates that the Chareidi leadership is very out-of-touch with their constituents. I'm still getting a lot of hits from people looking for information about this issue. The leadership's actions have bred a cynicism towards their leadership that will have significant ramifications.

This past week, The Jewish Week published a letter about the concert ban wriiten by Michael Feldstein. His point?
The fact that this person was afraid to identify himself publicly is part of a larger underlying problem: There is a culture of fear that has enveloped the Orthodox community, making it difficult for rabbis and laypeople to speak out against rabbinical leaders for fear of what it might do to their own standing in the community. In effect, these great sages who issue proclamations about banning concerts, books, and other material have hijacked our religion — and they can get away with it because they know that they won’t be questioned about their actions publicly.

Orthodox Judaism does not preach blind acceptance. Until we gain the courage to think independently and come to our own conclusions — with the help, guidance and wisdom of our rabbinic leaders — change will be impossible. And until we are able to sign our names to our beliefs rather than hide behind the cloak of anonymity, these problems unfortunately will continue.
Worth reading!

The Jewish Press published Six "Letters To The Editor" on the topic.

Here are some of the questions raised in these letters:
should Lipa not be given an opportunity to defend himself, as is taught in our Torah? Furthermore, the Shulchan Aruch teaches that it is forbidden to ruin another person’s livelihood.

What about due process, which is also a basic Torah entitlement? Is a person’s reputation to be destroyed by rumor and innuendo?

How long will it take before we as a community insist on accountable leadership?

As for the rabbanim, I ask you: Did you read the kol korei before you signed it? If you didn’t read it, how could you have signed? If you did read it, are you aware that it referred to the performers as coming “miktzeh hamachaneh,” from the fringes of the camp? Whereas artists at such concerts generally come from the heart of the yeshivish and chassidic communities, why does this not constitute motzi shem ra, the spreading of malicious gossip?

Further, the kol korei charges that “in the past, great stumbling blocks have emerged from these performances and many bodies have fallen, slain.” I challenge the rabbanim to produce a list of these casualties. This charge is laughable.
One of the letters is written by a classical composer and one by a female vocalist who gave up her career when she became observant. These letters are well worth reading.

Only one of the six letters supported the ban. That letter was written by Dr. Yaakov Stern who regularly pens missives to the JP derogating those with another point of view. Reading a bunch of his letters reveals a sad world view. Also a lack of basic derech eretz. Wolfish Musings fisks Stern's letter.

Rabbi Eli Teitlebaum, an outspoken critic of the concert ban, and of the people behind it, has died.
Reb Titelbaum was well known to be outspoken on many Jewish issues, and was never shy to state his mind, he recently made headlines on the BIG EVENT concert, in which he criticized the activists who gathered the signatures, by calling them the Taliban's of our generation, and he was very upset the way it was handled.
Rabbi Teitlebaum wrote one of the essays that appeared in HaModia's non-response (linked above) which they published a week after they'd published the ban.

For ease of reference reference, my previous posts on the subject are listed here in chronological order.

"It's A Beautiful Day For A Ban!"
"Anatomy of a Ban"
"Kol Koreh Bamidbar, Ban New Derech Hashem"
"Ban, Baby, Ban!"
"The Silence of the Bans"
"The Times They Are A-Bannin'"
"Of Bans and Men"
"The Lipa Ban -- A Response to Rabbi Adlerstein"
"Lipa in Wonderland - 20 (or so) Ban Questions"
"You've Got (Lipa) Mail"
"A Unified Chareidi Non-Response to the Lipa Ban"
"Think People Are Talkin' Bout Dis?"
"Michenichnas Adar Marbin B'Lipa" - a pre-Purim humor post
"Do These People Deserve Answers?"
"You've Got More (Lipa) Mail - Critical Edition"
"Lipa Letters and Links"
"Zal's Continued Response"

Here's a somewhat related post I wrote two years ago: "Lipa Schmeltzer and Rabbi Nosson Slifkin."

As always, I am happy to give space to opposing views. My invitation to the Chareidi leadership to present their point of view here stands.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Purim Media

The Klezmer Shack links to the Austin Klezmorim's definitive hipster take on tonight's story, the "Big Megillah." Awesome!

HyperSemitic's Adam Soclof emails about, which we'd linked earlier.
" We're getting very positive feedback from educators, who are using it in their classrooms. Please feel free to post to your blog, and to use our as a "Chag Sameach" greeting for family and friends"
Michoel Pruzansky has released a Purim video of one of his songs.

Here's a Yiddish Alef-Beis song from Kobi Arieli's show on Purim a while ago. Not politically correct, but strangely compelling.

Here's a short clip of the classic Bobover Purim song "Pirim Luni" which was composed by the Bobover Rebbe, Harav Ben Zion Halberstam, grandfather of the current Bobover Rebbe.

Here's a longer video clip of the Purim Seuda at Bobov last year.
Check out Layhidim at 2:56 or so. Here's a short snippet of just that melody.

Here's another "Trink Seuda" video. The lyrics for the A and B of Tzomo have been reversed. V'nahafoch hu?

Finally, a Purim skit from Efrat: "Husband Gemach!"

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Purim News Headlines - 2008

In the spirit of the season, we are pleased to bring you news headlines the J-media will not be bringing you. Besides, Rabbi Zev Brenner needs some more material for his Purim show. (Hi, Zev!)

Here are the ledes:

Blog in Dm Tagline Changed To "Blogging Jewish Music From Lipa to Lipa"

Rabbis Ban Reading Bans; Cite Negative Impact of Bans on Emunas Chachomim

Lipa Schmeltzer To Replace Abe Karpen Opposite Natalie Portman in New Film "New York, I Love You"

Neshoma Orchestra Releases New Album: "Smorg-Walking"
(Follow-up volume to be called "Smorg Walking: The Next Course")

New Michoel Pruzansky album "Heter Iska" A Smash Hit!

MBD Releases "Just One Shabbos" Remix To Raise Funds For Spinka Rebbe's Legal Defense Fund

Hirhurim Blog Welcomes New Co-Blogger Noah Feldman

Abe Foxman Apologizes To Armenian Community and Resigns

NY Jewish Week Publishes Positive Profile Of Rav Hershel Schachter

Rabbi Aaron Schechter Boycotts Eli Gerstner. Cites Provocative Wigs On Actors in "YBC Live" Video

Members of Agudath Israel of America's "Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah" Apologize for Rash (of) Bans

Yeshivas Chaim Berlin Bans Styrofoam Cups: Similarity To Indecent "Sheitel Heads" Cited As Cause

New Children's Entertainer "Feter Lipa" A Smash Hit: Over 300 Concerts Booked For 2008.

Rabbis Sign Ban Deodorant Endorsement Deal; Kao Brands CEO Says Anti-Concert Leaders "A Perfect Match For Our Product!"

Rabbis Ban Beis Yaakov H.S. Productions; "Nazi Dancers" Union Protests

Elliot Spitzer Hired As New Torah Temimah Administrator; Margolis Praised For Raising Standards

Sheya Mendlowitz Releases New Album "Lipa in Overtime!"

Rolling Stones Concert at MSG Banned; Mick Jagger Outraged At Last Minute Ban By Chareidi Rabbis

New Matisyahu Project: "Shteeble Hip Hop: Karliner Nigunim From Da Hood"

Novominsker Rebbe Joins Facebook

Jewish Observer Runs Cover Story On "Gedolim At Risk - Newest Community Crisis"

Brooklyn Entrepreneur Becomes Overnight Millionaire With Kosher Burqa Store On Coney Island Avenue.
(Rabbis Pesach Eliyahu Falk and Aharon Schechter rumored to be silent partners)

Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Welcomes HaRav Don Segal Shlita As New Mashgiach Ruchani

Finally, an historic discovery. Blog in Dm's intrepid historical researchers have found that as a sideline to his political career, former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill moonlighted as a simcha band leader. Apparently, the extra $$$ was too good to resist.

In this photo, Sir Churchill can be seen cuing the well-known Carlebach melody for L'shana Haba in Bb.

Previous years' Purim headlines can be found here, here, and here.

3/18/08 Link Dump

Chaptzem Blog! has a poster for the "Bigger Better Event."

The Rebbetzin's Husband posts "The BPS (Bansmanship Policies and Standards) Commission."

Vos Iz Neias posts "After Pressure Hasidic Jew Backs Out from Acting in Movie."

Here's why he backed out:
"I have my kids in religious schools and the rabbi called me over yesterday and said in order for me to keep my kids in the school I have to do what they tell me and back out," Karpen said.
"This is when I woke up and saw that I made a big mistake. My kids mean everything to me and my community where I live means everything to me," said Karpen, who comes from a prominent Williamsburg, Brooklyn, family.
Hmm, why does this pressure tactic sound so familiar?

Vos Iz Neias also posted a "Kol Koreh Proclamation Clarification." Taken with the ban brouhaha and Rav Chaim Kanievsky's ad in Hamodia asserting that his signature should be assumed to be false unless confirmed, it is evidence that "sacred signatures" are a currency in steep decline.

Wolfish Musings comments on a letter to the Yated.

Here's the letter:
Dear Editor,

I would like to raise an issue that has been bothering me for a few years.

I am a one-man-band in a large Jewish community. Having a wife and children, this is a good way to support myself by doing something that I enjoy. When I was a bochur, I began accepting jobs. Sometimes, when I would quote a price, it was not uncommon to hear comments that my price is too high, since I am only a bochur.

Let me explain the expenses of a one-man-band.

First of all, a good keyboard used by the wedding pros (which is not uncommon to be used by a bochur) costs a few thousand dollars. Secondly, a decent sound system, which includes speakers, a mixer and cables, runs in the thousands. This is in addition to the thousands of hours devoted to programming and practicing.

The next time you hire a one-man band, even if he's "just a bochur," realize that he still has many expenses.


It's Happy Purim!

Look! It's a A Sheepish Aderaba!

Teruah posts a Yidcore music video: "They Tried to Kill Us, They Failed, Let's Eat!"

Mazl Tov to klez bassist/tuba player Mark Rubin on his "Induction into the Austin Music Hall of Fame."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Zal's Continued Response

Zal responds again. I think his emails are of value because they are illustrative. As before, my comments are italicized.
Golus…we’ve got to get out of this place…and mindset

|Mr. Arbitrator

With all due respect, and I DO mean this, I don’t know who you are. I don’t know which chain of rabbis you’ve contacted, and frankly, don’t want to know if, as you’ve stated, unflattering information will be reflected upon them.

I want to be perfectly clear. The unflattering information does not reflect on the rabbonim I've consulted. It reflects on the signers of the ban. It is what the people around them (and they themselves) are telling the rabbonim asking for clarification.

But, others have not been let down in the same way, and our lists of rabbis to call for various eitzah and hadracha are quite extensive. My Rav has his cell phone number clearly posted in shul, Rav Dovid Cohen, Shlita, has regular phone hours, even during his VERY busy day. Others as welI….

Rav Dovid Cohen didn't sign the ban.

Many years ago before I began working at Atlantic, I went to my Rav, a man I have known since the mid 60s, (my favorite Rebbe, I might add), to ask aitzah to see if I could indeed take the job considering the type of people I might be mixed with and the type of work I’d be involved with, listening to secular music day in and day out.

He said; let me get back to you in a day or two. He did, after asking aitzah of a Godol, Rav Bick, zt’l, I believe, and the answer my Rav gave me was, “NOW you can take it”, implying that had I come 20 years earlier, when I was considerably more “susceptible” to what I will here call those “secular” influences, I WOULD NOT have been given the green light for the job. Asey L’cha Rav, it says in Pirkei Avos.

How many people here have one?

You probably don't mean to sound patronizing, but this is very condescending.

It helps a great deal to have one.

I would add, in a different vein, that Rav Shmuel, for example, do you think his future actions will be adjusted due to this situation? After all, he gave straight-forward answers.

I do think Rav Kamenetzky will likely adjust his future actions with regard to signing bans. I respect the fact that he acknowledged the obvious breakdowns in the process.

Will others also so adjust their decision making process? I say YES. You’re NO NO NO misses my point. It can and MUST work.

Thus far, they haven't acknowledged error. Why would they change their process (or lack thereof) if there's nothing wrong with it? That's why it's important for them to either acknowledge that they made mistakes, or else justify what they did. They've done neither.

Would you have beynonim (or less) making these decisions? Are THEY knowledgeable enough to “hit the spot” and “do the trick”? Do they have the spiritual sensitivities required? I will say to that, “NO NO NO”.

This is a straw man. No one is asserting that "beynonim" should make the decision instead.

The solution is for those making the decisions to obtain the facts before deciding on issues. They sent Rabbonim to India to investigate Hindu practices with regard to Indian hair wigs. They couldn't make a local phone call in this case before signing?

By all means, let the gedolim decide. But only after they've done the research and obtained the facts. They have to ask questions before ruling.

I see, then, that what I said was seen with the glasses you are presently wearing. I mention sensitivity and I find rage. I don’t really say (or at least mean) much different from what your sentiments are (as far as the need for things to be fixed), but how to do this, and how publicly done this should be are our differences.

We obviously have very different perspectives on this. Some think Kavod HaTorah is preserved by quietly ignoring travesties. Others, va'ani besocham, believe that the chiyuv for Kavod HaTorah atzmah requires that people speak up.

Much of this has been justabout nobody’s business except the ones actually involved and affected (of course, all of those bored people who can’t go to the concert will say they have been affected royally-and that’s a whole ‘nother story).

If this were the only ban, or takana, made without first doing basic research and/or contacting the people affected, I would agree. However, that is not the case. This has happened over and over again. The major issue here is not the concert. It's about a system wherein people engaged in a permitted activity, whether it be wedding musicians, authors, or concert promoters, are financially sandbagged by new rules that weren't in effect at the time the enterprise was undertaken.

In some cases, people have essentially been informed that their career is no longer viable. For someone who spent many years developing a skill as a means to support their family, this is a financial death sentence.

When leaders commit abuses, everyone is affected. Rav Kamenetzky says the process was abused.

What I see here is the potential (for) counter-askanim at work, with their own agendas, and as you say ,many are not shomrei Torah U’Mitzvos, or are but in varying degrees.

I have no idea where I'm supposed to have said that, but it's a straw man too. Emes should be accepted regardless of where it comes.

That can be bad, too.
A final comment. Zal has now made more of an effort than the rabbonim involved (with the exception of Rav Kamentzky). He deserves to be commended for engaging on the issue.

Women Should Not Be Seen, But Not Heard

Since we've been discussing oversight of Tzedakah, Chillul Hashem, asking Rabbonim for clarification, and so on...

I've written before about the out-of-control Tzedakahs, that seem to be run with no real oversight or transparency. These charities often take huge financial risks that are simply not justifiable, pursue policies at odds with their mandates, and serve as the personal fiefdoms of their directors.

Here's a post about Oorah, a kiruv organization, which I wrote a month ago. Instead of publishing it, I followed the process some have advocated of asking Rabbonim first. In this case, I approached one of Oorah's "Rabbinic advisors" about the concerns raised by a Channel 11 News' investigative report.

I'd become aware of the underlying issue a few years ago, but didn't write about it at the time. I suppose I was hoping that they'd respond to the "wake-up call" of being investigated and make changes. The Channel 11 report made clear that not only did they not make changes in the intervening years, but that they are not open to hearing questions about their practices.

It was the first this Rav had heard of these matters, despite the fact that this issue has been live since at least 2005. He promised me he'd follow up, and did, with some other Rabbonim. At this point, his conclusion is that Oorah will not change their methodology because they feel its legal.

I hope they will reconsider.

Here's my post. Judge for yourselves. The main point is not whether Oorah is allowed to do this, although there are some unanswered questions about that. It's about whether they should do this. It's about Chillul Hashem and public perception. Shouldn't these be factors too? Where's the oversight?

Anyhow, here's the post...


While we're on the subject of those seductive wig-wearing women, here's an ad that charity and wanna-be JM record label Oorah ran in Hamodia on January 30th.

This is just offensive. Paid for with your tzedakah dollars.

(BTW, there's a typo in the Hebrew.)

Presence posted about this in "Oorah Says 'No' to Women." and Musings commented in "Losing My Religion."

In what seems to be a growing trend among the see no evil women crowd, Oorah seems to be only selectively concerned about appearances.

Recently, WPIX TV's News at 10's Fact Finders segment did a piece on Oorah's Kars 4 Kids fundraising arm which you can find here. Click on the "Fact Finders: Charity Standoff" clip which you'll find by scrolling down the available video selections. (Hat tip, E.)

A number of blogs posted about this.

VOS IZ NEIAS posted “Lakewood, NJ - Oorah Organization Scrutinized By TV Channel 11 News“

Chaptzem posted "Oorah's Kars-for-Kids Is Investigated Again."

Dov Bear posted "Oorah's Humiliation."

Emes Ve-Emunah posted "Oorah and Cars-For-Kids."

Gruntig posted "Oorah Vs. Channel 11 Gets Ugly."

The Yeshiva World posted "Open Letter To Channel 11 After Oorah Smear-Campaign Goes Bad."

For those who can't see the video (or are looking after it's been removed), the video is of an investigative news report on Kars 4 Kids, which solicits donations of used cars to benefit for JOY for Our Youth, Inc. According to the Kars 4 Kids website,"J.O.Y. is an international 501(c)(3) charity organization providing for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of distressed and at-risk youth."

The report characterizes as deceptive the way Oorah is using Kars 4 Kids to raise funds for religious purposes, while omitting any mention that the funds go to religious programming from their solicitations and radio ads.

The report points out JOY for Our Youth's website which makes no mention of the fact that the funds are being raised for Jewish outreach. This seems designed to mislead. If not, there would be no reason for J.O.Y.'s existence, as it seems to have only one beneficiary, Oorah. Why create a paper charity that exists solely to fund another charity?

J.O.Y. has posted its 2006 Form 990 on its website. It "granted" Oorah $7,592,384 out of the approximately $9,000,000 it grossed that year. It doesn't appear to have granted funds to any other organization. On the 990, J.O.Y. describes its primary purpose as "ministering to the spiritual and emotional needs of Jewish children and students." That's accurate, because they apparently give all of the funds raised, less 'expenses', to Oorah. It's also a description they eschew on the J.O.Y. website any place other than on the 990 where it is not likely to be noticed by most visitors to the site.

This is not the first time questions have been raised about these practices.

Quick Googling finds these links. I'm sure there are more.

Here's a Bergen Record story published on January 20th, 2008.

Here's a 1/21/08 NY Post story on charities deceptively raising funds for religious purposes.

Here's a Kane County Chronicle article that appeared in November.

Tzvee comments.

Here's a post on this at Don't Tell the

Oorah responded to VIN's posting of the Kane County Chronicle article. The response does not address the main criticism.

Here's a MO Better Business Bureau article from June 5th, 2007, "Want To Donate Your Used Car?", that characterizes Kars 4 Kids as deceptive.

In 2005, Failed Messiah posted about a Saint Louis Post Dispatch report on Oorah/Kars 4 Kids' deceptive advertising.

Here's a discussion on the subject from 2005.

Here's a Yahoo Answers page on "Donating junk car to charity?"

In short, this setup has, at the very least, provoked criticism, and negative press at least since 2005, yet Oorah has done nothing to end the clearly deceptive practice.

These are not the only things Oorah has been criticized for. Marvin Schick writes about Oorah:
No one should be proud of the abysmal record of Oorah, the organization that is adept at public relations and fundraising as it promotes the claim that the money it raises goes to assist Jewish public school families that agree to send their children to a yeshiva or day school. Only a small percentage of its income goes toward this purpose. Furthermore, Staten Island is Oorah’s center of activity. Our schools have approximately one-hundred Oorah students this year and this is at least one-quarter and probably considerably more of all the students that Oorah claims to have placed, yet we will not receive anything this year from the organization. This will add enormously to the financial burden on our Staten Island schools.

Oorah’s wrongdoing is the saddest episode in my more than fifty-five years of devotion to Torah chinuch. I hope that one day I will write at greater length about the moral stain attached to this organization. For now, my prayer and hope is that there will be sufficient concern about the Jewish children whose Jewish future is greatly at risk.
This 2007 post reflects a change of opinion from 2003. In 2003, Schick wrote:
Of the students at the Staten Island schools, notably JFS, 122 are placements through Oorah, a fine kiruv organization that encourages marginally religious parents to send their children to a Jewish school, rather than public school. Oorah subsidizes part of the tuition – about $1,500 per student – which obviously is far below what it costs to provide an effective dual religious and secular educational program.
Is there a reason Oorah stopped helping pay these kids tuition?

If wrong, Schick’s assertion is an easy one for Oorah to disprove. They can do so by providing proof they have given money to Staten Island schools this year. Their public silence speaks volumes.

Back to the video...

In the video, Channel 11 investigative reporter Mary Murphy looks at this fundraising setup critically, gives a run down of the deceptive practice, and pays an unannounced visit to the Kars 4 Kids/JOY for Our Youth/Oorah office in Lakewood, NJ.

Although Murphy's criticism is fair, her visit on Feb. 8th was not, because she'd been informed that Oorah's lawyer, Mark Kurzman, was out of the country until the 10th, and he had scheduled a tentative off-the-record meeting with her on then. Murphy deliberately made an unannounced visit to the charity while he was away. She should have heard him out first. Afterwards, if she still had questions, which is likely, a visit would have been appropriate.

In any event, the purpose for the visit seems to have been to illustrate the fact that Oorah/Kars is hiding something, something it successfully accomplished. Of particular note is the behavior of Oorah employees after an employee, Arlene, refused to answer any questions, criticized Murphy for the unannounced visit, and closed the door. Arlene’s behavior, although impolitic, was understandable. What happened afterwards was not.

While the news crew was leaving, a Kars 4 Kids car raced to the exit to block it and an Oorah employee stood directly in front of the van to prevent it from leaving.

Here are some screenshots:

In this one, you can see the Kars 4 Kids car blocking the exit. The video shows it racing to the exit to block them from leaving. You can also see a man standing directly in front of the car to prevent them from going.

Here are some more shots of the fellow blocking the car.

Here are some pics of Oorah employees videoing the reporter after they've blocked her in.

To me, this videoing looks like it was meant to intimidate.

Nice, ain't it? A real Kiddush Hashem! According to Murphy, the police told her she could press charges for illegal restraint, but she chose not to.

This behavior alone raises serious doubts about Oorah and the judgement of some of the folks there.

Regardless of the reporter's behavior, Oorah ought to be prepared to answer these kinds of legitimate questions, and not just through their lawyer. It's not like this issue hasn't come up before. That Murphy was being sanctimonious, and that she stopped by uninvited, while understandably annoying, is irrelevant.

There are two legitimate questions here. One essentially is: "why does JOY exist at all?" The second is why there's no clear disclosure of -- but rather misdirection about-- Kars 4 Kids and JOY's religious orientation on their respective sites. The issue isn't even that Oorah only provides services to Jewish people, although that's probably a concern too, It's about Oorah’s "Kiruv" (proselytizing) activities

The folks at Oorah need to address these concerns openly and honestly. Thus far their responses --both to VOS IZ NEIS and in a letter read in the video report seem evasive. They need to address the fact that the JOY to Our Youth website and the Kars 4 Kids ads don't mention religious outreach. You really have to hunt around the JOY website to find the only mention of religious outreach on the bottom of the Form 990. It ought to be in clear on the "About Us" page, especially since in their response they assert the following.
What is the reality behind JOY, Oorah and Kars4Kids? Oorah and JOY (Joy for Our Youth) are two separate and distinct organizations with separate boards of directors. Although they share a common purpose, the two organizations have each developed very different approaches to fundraising. JOY had endeavored to raise funds from a broad public base through arranging a successful car donation program. Oorah’s fundraising efforts have not been so broadly targeted.

However, since JOY’s underlying purpose is to provide material and spiritual support for Jewish children and their families, and Oorah has been conducting such programs with great success and efficiency, JOY donates its proceeds to Oorah to implement its purposes.
JOY's "About Us" page makes no mention of this goal, though. The Kars 4 Kids "About Us" page doesn't mention this shared goal either. Shouldn't it be featured prominently? That's where virtually all the money is directed!

To contrast, here's the Salvation Army's "About Us" page.

Note the clear description:
What is The Salvation Army?

The Salvation Army is an integral part of the Christian Church, although distinctive in government and practice. The Army’s doctrine follows the mainstream of Christian belief and its articles of faith emphasise God’s saving purposes. Its objects are ‘the advancement of the Christian religion… of education, the relief of poverty, and other charitable objects beneficial to society or the community of mankind as a whole.’
As evidenced by the fact that it has come up a few times, this story isn't going to go away, and Oorah really needs to make changes before it gets worse. They're collecting cars all over the country. This means potential Attorney General investigations in every state.

Two options that come immediately to mind are:

1) Eliminate JOY for Our Youth entirely and make clear in all ads/websites etc. that Kars 4 Kids is raising funds for religious outreach.

2) Divide JOY for Our Youth's grant money giving a reasonable percentage of the funds raised to other non-sectarian groups.

Personally, I'd prefer to see the first option. It's open, honest, and less likely to be abused.

I don't know that this constitutes fraud. I'd imagine Oorah's lawyers have parsed that out. However, it certainly is misleading and unethical and that's a Chillul Hashem.

I can only imagine how offended non-Jewish Kars 4 Kids donors would feel if they would know their donation helped pay for ads in Hamodia like the one above.

Here's a thought experiment. Imagine you donated your car to what you thought was a non-sectarian group helping underprivileged youth. Then, after donating your used car, you discovered that the group did help provide support for needy kids, but they did it as part of an attempt at outreach to bring them closer to their religious beliefs. What if it turned out to be Scientology or the Nation of Islam? I in no way intend to compare Oorah's Jewish outreach with those groups, but they serve well to illustrate how we would view raising funds for outreach in this manner as deceptive, were the shoe on the other foot.

A final thought. Although Oorah’s behavior is troubling, ultimately it represents the actions of a few individuals. The sheer number of people attempting to justify this on the various blog comment threads is more disturbing and reflects a serious ethical deficiency in the community.

I hope the community leadership addresses this issue.

For my part, I’ve spoken with one of Oorah’s “rabbinic advisors” about this matter. He was surprised to learn about all of this. I encourage all to speak to the rabbonim they know who endorse Oorah. You can find the list of endorsers here.

Finally, it seems that Oorah does belatedly respond to criticism. Here's their revised ad about an alternative catalog without any pictures of women which appeared on February 20th.

They've changed the offensive email address and corrected the hebrew typo at the top.

Here's hoping they make changes to the Kars4Kids program too.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

3/12/08 Link Dump - (Lipa Free Edition)

גלות ײד is criticizing the Forward's Yiddish. She's right, natch. That said, they're covering boutique audio gear in the Forward! Shkoyach!

The Jerusalem Post covers Lou Soloff's Israel trip in "Blood, Sweat and Jazz."

Also in the J-Post, Ben Jacobson reviews discs by Pharaoh's Daughter and Sababa.

The Jew Spot blogs Matisyahu's Q & A at the recent Jewlicious fest. According to the Jerusalem Post...
Matisyahu talked about moshiah, hinting that messianism within Lubavitch - the belief that the late rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, is God's promised Messiah - was one of the things that pushed him away from the group.
I don't see that in this transcript, though.

The Forward has an article about Jewish Bluegrass titled "O, Landsman, Where Art Thou?"

The Curious Jew reviews "The Mishna Project."

Mordechai Shinefield writes about "Women Who Rock" for American Jewish Life Magazine

Don't hire these folks to photo your simcha.

Handel Ehrlekh - A Wigged-Out Photo Blog received some more links while we were out "Lipa-ing."

Here they are:

Gå till »Gehenna»
"Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect 200 Shekels"
Monopoly op z'n Jiddisj
"Yiddish Monopoly?"
Boardwalk, Park Place, and Gehennom
" Just down the street..."

Lipa Letters and Links

Today's Hamodia included the following letter from Rabbi Avi Shafran entitled "Correction."
In my recent article published in Hamodia, "The Really Big Event," (Wednesday, March 5) among the errors in a New York Times article I cited was "granting semicha to a radio talk show personality." That turned out to be an error of my own. The personality referred to is Zev Brenner who, although he doesn't use his title on his program, informed me that he is in fact an ordained rabbi, having received semicha from Kollel Eshel Avrohom. My apologies to him and to the readers.
Anything I'd add would be superfluous.

Zal Schreiber writes: [My comments in italics]
Oh L-rd, please don't let me be misunderstood

Firstly, I would like to state that I had no intention of offending you nor did I imply any possibility of a cause and effect reaction concerning your Free Lipa post, chas v'sholem, to the tragedies that occurred. What I wanted to bring to light was that the Sattan waits for his opportune moments to perpetrate his dastardly deeds and machlokes is one of his favorites. The issue at hand here, while I will concede is of great concern, and then with the new postings continuing the saga, is small potatoes compared to what I did suggest we really all hope for; Hatzlacha, Parnassah, Gezunt and Nachas. But all those desires were shattered for our people in one fell swoop. Galus is a fragile place

OK. So we've seen laymen from across the board, many respectfully, requesting that something be done to change the status quo, and people in these parts have lost some respect...of the Gedolim?? I respectfully ask those who are religiously aligned/inclined to have their rebbeim be the ones who approach their religious mentors, and onward, all the way down the line...up to the top, to also respectfully inquire as to the (possible, or alleged) errors that occurred and how to avoid similar mishaps in the future, and how to heal any (possible) welts and wounds that this situation may have caused.

No, no, no! A thousand times, no! This is exactly what's broken here. Playing telephone does not work. (It so happens that I did this here, playing the "game" to get the "official" Daas Torah explanation. As I wrote previously, there isn't one. What the "telephone hierarchy" does confirm is not flattering to the leadership.) The gatekeepers are part of the problem here.

I will point out that the publication of a teshuvah (responsa) explaining the Halachik reasoning used, rather than a ban, would have avoided some of the issues. There's no reason why people should have to guess possible reasonings and then play games to get answers. The ban signers ought to publicize their explanations.

They're also the ones who have to engage the healing process. That is, if they want to preserve the relationship.

So, yes, we have to be careful. And we must know, that when it comes to the frum community at large, resources are spread thin. Too much to do with too little. B'seeatah D'ishmaya we get done what we need to...and I hate to add...maybe. Hashem knows, but we are human.

Being human means making mistakes. Being a true leader means acknowledging mistakes when made.

Maybe, after all of this, good will come. Liaison amongst community members keeping the Rabbeim up to date, informed and knowledgeable so no mistakes take place. Are the Rebbeim informed on all the issues they need to be in the know about? If not, we, or someone reliable and responsible, needs to tell them. But, when it comes to personal interests, how do we know we are getting objective reports, not shaded by greed, other or personal agendas?

Liaisons? Anyone who signs onto a ban like this has an obligation to do their own personal investigation. Lipa says all of the Rabbonim he's spoken to have asked mechila for not contacting him prior to the ban's issuance. It should have been SOP to call him before signing anything. The liaison system clearly does not work.

How about a return to the days when you could reach a gadol like Rav Moshe ZT"L on the phone if you had a question?

I have firsthand knowledge of several cases where Rabbonim who did basic investigations before signing Kol Korehs or issuing psakim were convinced not to do so, while their colleagues who didn't investigate and signed perpetuated avlos. Sometimes, a Rav has to learn from what he's not told.

I don't know if there are easy answers, but now that everyone knows there can be problems, maybe we can all help with working out a solution.

Unfortunately, although it's evident, not everyone has agreed that there is a problem.

PS. Additionally, while you say that Lipa's and Sheya's acceptance (in the end) are irrelevant to the ultimate issue at hand, well, then freeing him was irrelevant as well, yes?

It seems pointless to explain the humor. Either you get it or not.

PPS. One major mindset that I think was missed about my posting was that I have an implied “perhaps” throughout my writings. Beware lest…be careful not to get out of hand…watch out when Gedolim are criticized….perhaps we need to be more careful about loshon hurrah….did I actually accuse or did I ponder? I think people are presently super sensitive, and that’s not good either.

Whether it's accusatory or simply pondering, the effects of this kind of thinking out loud are not good, as I've shown. If you think there's a problem, study the inyan, and get some clarification.

I saw someone bringing reference the writings of the Chofetz Chaim in criticism of activities that caused great tzahr to individuals. I believe the same should/could be said about treading on the Kavod of the Rabbonim. There are ways and means, but they are not everybody’s and there must be sensitivity…all around.

And, finally, my caveat that we can not say everything that we want, or read everything that we want…does not mean that one who adheres to this is blind and like the ostrich.
For if that were true, there would be no useful words of support from the Chofetz Chaim to back up ANYONE.
David writes:
Yes, I agree with you. I am no fan of concerts or the like, but many of us felt that due process was not given, and that is the problem. I wrote to Hamodia a few times, sayings they had no permission to put an add without first checking it out.

Look into Chafetz Chaim, k'llal yud, seef 31 at the end. Also, to know what a Gadol is, look at Darash Moshe from Reb Moshe Zatzal, in the beginning of TeTzava.

Keep up the good work
Some more links here...

Wolfish Musings posted "One Final Note On The Lipa Concert"

The former Godol Hador posted "Dude, you're getting a ChareiDi hELL"

Holy Hryrax wrote "Learning from History"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

You've Got More (Lipa) Mail - Critical Edition

From the inbox...

Heshy Rosenwasser writes:
And for all those who deal in community affairs faithfully, the Holy One, Blessed Is He, will pay their salary …

The term askan, literally means “businessman” and is colloquially taken to mean someone of means who is involved in Jewish community affairs. This usage is undoubtedly derived from the above verse. Usually these askanim operate behind the scenes, away from the public eye, because of personal modesty; they work tirelessly for charitable concerns without any thought of personal gain or honor. This is in keeping with the high value placed on matan baseiser, giving charity anonymously so as not to embarrass either the donor or beneficiary. As such, askanim receive no salary for their good works, and so we pray that G-d will pay their salaries, be they physical compensation or spiritual elevation.

But what we have seen here is a dark, cynical use of these honorable values to advance hidden agendas that ruin lives and livelihoods. Taking advantage of the usual back channels, out of the public eye, certain askanim approach prominent rabbis and present a distorted case. The rabbis know and trust these particular askanim, having dealt with them in matters of community and charity for many years. And so they think nothing of adding their signature to the askan’s document without checking the veracity of the claims therein, and voila! Now the hidden agenda can be brought out into public view, bearing a rabbinical stamp of approval.

In abusing the honorable values of giving anonymously, these askanim have been dealing in community affairs in bad faith. And as such, may the Holy One, Blessed Is He, pay their salaries in kind, measure for measure.He also writes:
In the Response to Rabbi Adlerstein, this really gets me:

Also, is this the way we ought to do things? Issue public rulings and then "walk them back" later? What about Emes?
I am not saying that this was behind the ban. As I said, despite all the comments that we have printed and those we have not, I do not know what was really behind this. Perhaps in a few weeks we will find out.
Perhaps in a few weeks we will find out??? That's a satisfactory way of imposing anything on the tzibur?
My comment:
Rabbi Adlerstein's words are in direct contradiction to Pirkei Avos, which is (among other things) a manual for rabbis and community leaders. In perek 2 mishnah 4, Hillel says: Do not say something that is not readily understood in the belief that it will ultimately be understood.

Earlier, in perek 1 mishnah 11, Hillel's teacher Avtalyon said: Scholars, be careful with your words. For you may be exiled to a place inhabited by evil elements [who will distort your words to suit their negative purposes]. The disciples who come after you will then drink of these evil waters and be destroyed, and the Name of Heaven will be desecrated.

I have nothing further to add in this post to the words of our Chachomim, who in light of what's developing now, can also be considered Neviim after a fashion.
Psachya comments on our Purim Lipa post:
How's this for an album title: LIPA FAITH!
I think I'm gonna call it "Vechol Yisroel Yishmeu." Ironic, no?

Finally, here's a critical email from Zal Schreiber:
I've followed peripherally the discussions here concerning the recent concert cancellation with the connected mishmash and the ensuing resolve and reform of Mr. Shmeltzer. In this context, it is interesting to note the latest blog posters asking to free him. A question I would ask is if he really feels enslaved or has he risen to the occasion and has actually conceded that things needed to be changed and is at peace with his decision(s), himself, and the gedolim.

I don't claim to know this but may I suggest that perhaps others should not continually vent concerning these matters, considering the possibility of being oveir several mitzvos lo sa'asey Mideoraaisa. Hey, I'm no goody-goody, but it should be apparent that openly assailing Dahs Torah has its risks. This is especially pertinent when (and maybe even if) those concerned have agreed to follow the p'sak halacah.

OK. This assumes that we are all on the same wavelength ¥iddishkei-wise. (That) we all want and/or are Yeeras Shamayim and Shomrei Toraah U"Mitzvos. But what is the real makeup of the readers here? Anyone wish to run a survey? Are we all Shomrei Negiya? I assume we all eat Kosher, right? Do we stay away from mixed gatherings because it is a possible breeding grounds for illicit thoughts and activities? Do our families all keep Thahras Hamishpacha, wear shaitels, even, in the first place? Do we cover our bodies sufficiently in a tziniusdikka way, or are we out to kill even if every part of our body (well, almost) is halachikly covered?

When we read some of the things written, and we are ehrlicha Yidden. we may get to feel, yeah, I can agree with that, and then lose ourselves to loshen hurrah, rechilus and motzee shaim rah because we've read others vent and now it's like a hetter for anyone to say anything???!

Afterall, much of what happened here is really not our business, ESPECIALLY if Misters Mendlowitz and Shmeltzer have agreed with Daas Torah. As I said, I did not read ALL or MOST of what has been written in these parts because of the concerns that I have raised. If Misters M and S are OK with things (no, I'm not saying it was easy for any of the above individuals, but that is not my point), perhaps we should finally put this baby to rest once and for all. Especially concerning other issues I have brought up here.
Ginuhg shoine.

But this is not the reason I came to post today. It is ironic that the day this last blog hit that tragedy struck our people in a big way, in Israel and in New Jersey. It is a reminder that we are still in Golus, as my Rebbe has said, if anything goes wrong it is because we arer (still) in Golus. And we haven't learned a lesson that maclokes is a key factor in us still being here in the sad shape that we are in. We have affluence, seforim stores are now places similar to museums with the most beautiful chachkas, while the seforim section gets smaller and smaller. Concerts? Who heard of them in frum circles of the past as people were just happy to get by...intact. Gezunt, parnassah, nachas, hatzlacha...those are our real riches to strive for. But, again, this is not why I am writing is not my focus.

The Moslems are spending millions of dollars, probably yearly, in a media blitz campaign, to "educate" the world. Saudia Arabia has been THE benefactor to the majority of mosques being built in this country, and possibly world-wide, pushing with this its point of view and midset. They are out to manipulate public thinking through this campaign of propaganda. Moslem students at the major (and otherwise) college campuses, here and abroad, are taught (or indoctrinated) what and how to convince the non-Moslem student and specifically faculty into believing - that Israel is a monster, does not care about human rights, and most frightfully, that Jews have no claim whatsoever to the Holy Land, and that all the lands, specifically Israel, are rightfully the inheritance of the Moslem/ Palestinian people(s).

That’s right.

So, these Moslem students attack Jews on campus (sometimes physically) with their ideas and the Jewish kids don’t know how to react, or even answer them (IF they’re given the chance). They come off sounding like fools compared to those kids who have been trained to the Nth degree how to pull the rug out from under their feet. (It sort of reminds me of the J4J Missionary tactics).

What to do.
LEARN what to say and what NOT to say. But, you must actively seek the knowledge to refute these people. Seek and you shall find.

Foe example. One incident I am aware of was when a Moslem man came over to a Jewish boy, looked him squarely in the eyes and said (something like), “YOU are not of Semitic origin. You have BLUE EYES and fair (white) skin!!!”. (all “purebred” Moslems will have brown eyes and skin tone). "And you therefore have no claim to the land you call Israel." When I heard this, I thought of an answer. “Sir, are you not aware of your ancestors Abraham and his wife Sarah?...pause….And how the king there grabbed you ancestor’s wife…..Why would the king want to abduct such an old woman for his harem, a woman over 80 years old? …pause….IT IS BECAUSE SHE HAD BLUYE EYES AND FAIR, WHITE SKIN. And WE are the seed of Abraham and Sarah. And this is the land G-d gave to them and their seed.

OK. That’s my own shoot from the hip answer.

The Temple Mount and the mosque sitting upon it…unfortunately still….
The Moslems say that the mosque is their third holiest site. OK. I’ve seen national magazines bring this up over and over again. BUT, have they said that the Western Wall is THE Holiest Jewish site? Is there some balance given? No.

Did you know, that not long ago, maybe even up until somewhere in the 20th Century, that the site was dormant, and empty of worshipers? There are pictures from the end of the 19th Century that show a barren and desolate mosque with NO-ONE there? Since when is it the 3rd holiest Moslem site? Since it’s been convenient politically to be so considered? Right…now that we’ve gotten that straight.

Do your own research. You need to know what to answer these people, and moreso, the people they have swayed over to their side.

Yiddishkeit demands a lot from those who adhere. But there are great consequences if we don’t heed to do what we should…and great rewards for the others.

Mishenichnas Adar, Marbim B’Simcha. So it should be for all Klal Yisroel.
Where to begin?

Let's start with the assumptions about this blog's readership.

Blog in Dm's readership includes Jews and non-Jews from around the globe who are passionate about Jewish music. The spectrum of Jewish observance among the readership ranges from black-hat Orthodox rabbis to militantly secular Jews to Jewish and non-Jewish klezmer and simcha band musicians and more. All are welcome here.

The post that apparently triggered this email was my Purim humor post, "Michenichnas Adar Marbin B'Lipa."

Zal asks whether Lipa feels enslaved. It's really an irrelevant question, since the criticisms I've been levying have to do with the abuse of process (mainly), and not the result. (Although, for the record, I disagree with the ban.) Whether or not Lipa or Sheya Mendlowitz have agreed with Da'as Tora, and Lipa's acceptance of the ban are irrelevant to these points.

In public appearances, Lipa has strongly implied that he was threatened and Sheya has said it as well. I'm not going to go through all the audio and published interviews to link the sources, but they are there. I will say that what's been published/broadcast is bad enough, but what happened in this case behind the scenes is far uglier than what I've commented on!

Incidentally, it is Adar and Purim is coming. There's going to be Lipa humor galore in the community, whether it manifests itself in Yeshivah guys dressing as Lipa, the circulation of fake "Kol Korehs", bands at yeshiva celebrations playing Lipa medleys, "Big Event" themed mishloach manos, and so on. I imagine there'll also be wig store ban humor. Be prepared.

Zal claims not to know, but still asserts, that venting concerning these matters involves the possibility of violating several mitzvos lo sa'asey mideoraisa and that openly assailing Da'as Torah has its risks. I respectfully suggest that one should know before making such suggestions. One of the underlying issues propping up those who engage in these kinds of "askanus" is the successful tactic of hiding behind "doubts" about violations of Lashon Hara, Dan Lekaf Zechus, etc. I believe that respectful questioning and criticism is always permissible.

He also writes that he hasn't read much of what's been written because of these concerns. If you're not willing to hear what people say, it's a bit intellectually dishonest to criticize them for what they've said.

I have been very clear that I and others are respectfully asking fair questions. The success of the methodology used to impose this ban is a direct result of people not raising these questions openly in the past. Similar questions were raised with regard to the Slifkin ban, but they mainly came from outside the community as opposed to now. These issues ought to have been addressed then. "Eizehu chacham? Haroeh es hanolad."

Zal's point about Lashon Hara is valid. People shouldn't feel that just because public questions are needed, that's it's open season for gossip, or pejorative talk about any and all. That said, I've made the conscious decision in my coverage of this issue to link to blogs I otherwise wouldn't to illustrate the spread of the damage the askanim/kannoim and ban signers have caused. It needed to be done. The responsible leadership --or perhaps potential future leadership --in the Chareidi community needs to be aware of all that's at stake.

I did find Zal's insinuation about the irony that my humorous post went up shortly before the terror attack at Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav to be offensive. One could just as easily assert that the violence in Israel has increased as a direct result of the perversion of Torah and Halacha evidenced in the wig store ban and the Lipa ban, since it has been escalting in tandem with the escalation in bans.

Both assertions are absurd and offensive. We are enjoined to take "mussar" from bad events that happen, and apply it towards improving ourselves. However, no one can know the reason for tragedy. It's ironic that all to often the response to tragedy by the Chareidi is to point at the "bad behavior" of someone else as the cause; whether it's a criticism by men of "lack of tznius" by the women in a very modest community, or something else. Keshot be'atzmecha...

Although Zal is wrong with regard to his perception of the readership of this blog, I do feel that I should write a few lines about why this matters personally to me.

First, though, here's why I'm an unlikely candidate to have chosen this issue to get on the soapbox about.

1) The ban has no financial impact on me. I do not make my living playing, producing, or promoting these kinds of concerts. (I used to play a lot of the smaller ones, but those performances are no longer a significant part of my income.)

2) I have no interest in attending these concerts. I probably wouldn't go to most of them even if offered free tickets. In general, I dislike big shows, preferring to hear music in more intimate settings, and I abhor the kinds of inconsiderate crowds these shows tend to draw.

3) I have played a few concerts/gigs with Lipa over the years. None too recently. I have written about my impressions of Lipa in the past. Here, for example. We have no personal relationship. I think he's tremendously talented, especially his Yiddish song-writing, but don't like the musical direction he's chosen on his last few albums with regard to the musical arrangements.

4) Sheya Mendlowitz represents many of the things I most dislike about contemporary Jewish music in the Chareidi community. I've publicly taken him to task on his marketing ethics, (see here, for instance), I dislike much of the music and performers he's promoted of late, etc.

All of this is irrelevant. What was done to Sheya and Lipa (and the many other vendors) hurt by this is unconscionable.

I have strong roots in the Chassidic and Chareidi communities. It hurts to see the damage these acts (and the people whose midset they represent) have inflicted within and without.

We are taught that we are supposed to emulate Hashem, "V'halachta bedrachav" (or as the YU intellectuals might call it, imatatio dei.) "Mah hu rachum... It follows logically that one ought to be able to see a reflection of Godliness in the behavior of religious Jews. When devoutly religious Jews --indeed the religious leadership of a community-- engage in behavior that is not only not Godly, but is the opposite, it is a huge Chillul Hashem.

And although faith ought not be tied to the behavior of man, but rather on a relationship with Hashem, nevertheless. witnessing these kinds of acts raises questions not only about the people who acted improperly, but of the entire endeavor. For, if this behavior can even be possible after leading a life immersed in Torah study and pursuit of mitzvos, what is one to think of the effects of said pursuits? Al achas kama v'kama when said actions are not only done --by leaders of the community, no less -- but are allowed to stand and even lauded.

Remember, we're not talking about one individual, but many Rabbonim, including many prominent Litvishe Roshei Yeshivah. Anyone can make mistakes. To err is human. But for a group of Rabbonim to err, ignore the acknowledged errors, and forget the lesson of the Par He'elam Davar, is sad.

As R' M.S. commented yesterday at Cross-Currents:
V’az mah?
Was there any follow up? Why was there no clarification for the olam? G-d knows there is no shortage of frum papers out there waiting for something to talk about. Why would the roshei yeshiva not clarify their position, and more importantly, the process? This is the part that drives me crazy. Here we are, waiting to understand, hoping to follow, but there is no explanation.

It is very disheartening.
Disheartening is a good description of the inevitable outcome of the leadership leaving this wound to heal on its own. It might, as many wounds do. But it might not, and even if it does, it will leave a scar.

Finally, PT writes:
I don’t know if there’s a Pulitzer or Blogitzer for J-blogs, but you deserve to win it for this series. I just hope you don’t get blacklisted yourself.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Still More Lipa...

In positive news on the Chareidi front, Rabbi Yitchak Adlerstein posts Marvin Schick's essay at Cross-Currents and writes:
For decades, Rabbi Marvin Schick has been the bulldog of Gedolei Torah in the English-language world. More than anyone else I can think of, Rabbi Schick’s columns presented the leadership of Torah luminaries in the most glowing terms, refusing to give an inch in the struggle by some to chip away at the role of Gedolei Torah as the proper address for leadership and direction. Last week, he penned what follows.

It ought to be painful to read. If Rabbi Schick can be moved to such an extraordinary statement, than we can be sure that the concert ban represents a watershed event for the right-of-center Orthodox community, and that the negative consequences of it are huge. At the same time, we ought to feel the pain of a dedicated community worker whose personal spiritual world has suddenly spun out of orbit and headed into free-fall, Many readers of Cross-Currents will find in this article a mirror of their own anguish.

I present it here in its entirety. I have been on the road for the past half week, and spoken to all sorts of people – students, rabbonim, thoughtful laypeople across the continuum of the yeshiva- and yeshiva-friendly communities. I shared many of the thoughts I wrote in previous columns, especially the halachic need for limud zechus, much of which was received favorably. It seems clear, however, that whatever I could muster as partial explanation for the behavior of revered individuals (and I hope that more capable people came up with better), the ban itself – this one, and the trend in general – has left some gaping wounds were they did not exist before.
Hirhurim posted this essay last week. That Cross-Currents has now posted it is a positive step.

Prima Impressionis writes "Good Point."

The Forward's "Bintel Blog" posted Rabbis Against Concerts.

Liz' Lamentations writes Banning Mania?"

Larry Gordon writes The Dynamics of Leadership

Dov Bear is trying to decide if he should allow a guest post about Lipa here. I vote yes, and urge Chaim to use the opportunity wisely.

Tzig criticizes Yeshivah World for their interview of Rabbi Yehudah Levin, something they likely only did because of his radio show rantings supporting the ban.

Harry Maryles wrote The War Against Moderation."

Special Ed posted "Anyone else bored tonight?"

Gruntig posts "Exclusive Footage of The Big Event."

For ease of reference reference, my previous posts on the subject are listed here in chronological order.

"It's A Beautiful Day For A Ban!"
"Anatomy of a Ban"
"Kol Koreh Bamidbar, Ban New Derech Hashem"
"Ban, Baby, Ban!"
"The Silence of the Bans"
"The Times They Are A-Bannin'"
"Of Bans and Men"
"The Lipa Ban -- A Response to Rabbi Adlerstein"
"Lipa in Wonderland - 20 (or so) Ban Questions"
"You've Got (Lipa) Mail"
"A Unified Chareidi Non-Response to the Lipa Ban"
"Think People Are Talkin' Bout Dis?"
"Michenichnas Adar Marbin B'Lipa" - a pre-Purim humor post
and Do These People Deserve Answers?"

Here's a somewhat related post I wrote two years ago: "Lipa Schmeltzer and Rabbi Nosson Slifkin."

As always, I am happy to give space to opposing views. I invite the Chareidi leadership to present their point of view here. Care to guest post?

I have received *one* email criticism on this topic and I will post it and my response soon.

Do These People Deserve Answers?

This is a long post. It contains many questions and comments about the handling of the Lipa ban. I didn't write most of it, though.

My original concept for the post was to select comments from all of the blog posts on the Lipa ban to highlight. It became obvious, after looking at just one thread, that the end result would be much too long, and would involve much repetition.

So, I've limited this to select comments that were posted to more right-wing Chareidi blogs and websites. Specifically, Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz's site,, Cross-Currents (here and here), and Beyond BT.

All of these posts, as well as many others, can be found in the respective threads at those sites as indicated. I've made a few minor edits, like correcting spelling and breaking up paragraphs, etc. for clarity.

A certain amount of repetition is needed to make the point, but I think these are informative. They are illustrative of questions and perceptions people have about this matter. Given that they were all posted to these sites, the site owners should be aware of them.

The owners of these sites represent that they express a chareidi perspective on topical issues. Perhaps they would address these specific questions and comments, since the leadership --with one notable exception (Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky)-- appears to have lost their collective voices.

And, a question for the Chareidi leadership: Do these questioners deserve answers?

From Rabbi Horowitz's site...

Shmuel asked:
What about the orphans?

While much attention has been paid to "Lipa" and the apparent lack of 'due diligence', little if any attention has been paid to:

a) The hundreds of thousands of dollars lost by Mr. Mendlowitz,

b) The potential hundreds of thousands of dollars lost by the tzedakah for orphans' weddings,

c) The future money lost to the organization with which the ba'al machlokes who apparently instigated all this is affiliated.

It is accepted in our society to smear someone--just put on the mantle of "Torah" and "tzenius" and whatever else is needed--without even giving that person a chance to respond. That's okay, it seems, and even better if done quickly and publicly, so as to humiliate the person.

(Don't worry, we can 'ask mechilla' on Erev Yom Kippur, or better yet decide we did a big mitzvah by harming these individuals)...

But how will we answer the orphans' cries when the support they were counting on does not materialize? How will we explain this narishkeit to them? How will we respond to their tears?

Hashem, we know, responds to the tears of orphans, and woe to the person who causes orphans to shed such tears.
Anonymous in Baltimore wrote:
We need answers if we are to explain it to our kids-You provide none.

Rabbi Horowitz, you are one of the heroes of Torah today. You are frank and unafraid to discuss 'taboo' topics.' I generally love your insights.

But in this article, you basically say that the Rabbonim made a mistake here because we pressure them too much in general. Then you say we should somehow explain this to our kids. Our kids, and we, have legitimate questions on the Lipa episode. You imply the questions yourself but provide no answers. Were you not better off not writing the article?

Knowing you as I do, and reading the comments here, I assume you will write a follow-up piece, which will clarify further. I look forward to it.
Dazed and Confused wrote:
I am no wiser than when I started reading this!

With great respect to Rabbi Horowitz,

I love your columns and find them insightful and helpful. But this one really didn't help me. I understand that you say its our fault our leaders make mistakes because we ask too much of them. That being the case are you saying that we can't trust them because they have lost their ability to make proper decisions because we have overburdened them? Are you saying we should continue to love them even though we can't trust them?

What is the answer to the question that is driving us all crazy, that you seemed you were going to answer in the beginning of this article, but didn't really answer?
Anonymous wrote:
On a very well written analysis of the issue, I still have the following questions.

Will anyone take a lead in approaching the Gedolim and educating them on what it is doing to the average persons Emunah to see an individual performer be treated worse than child abusers in that he is singled out to be banned?

How can they cause financial losses to individuals after the fact, Lipa has performed countless times, and there are many concerts, why not make a pesak on a going forward basis?

How can we hear answers that Rabbis will raise money for the losses, this is not a Tzedakah situation to make up the losses to anyone other than the Tzedakah it would have helped? Any money raised would be money not going to worthy Tzedakahs.

With so many issues these days, why go after this one? What do we want our children to do? How do we explain this to them? These types of bans them move away not closer.
Shlomo wrote:
I'm not implying that the concert was "kosher" or that the ban was "treif", but I will say this: with the greatest respect for rabbonim, I strongly suggest that they take a "reality test" and check out the reaction of the general public. I think they will be surprised to learn how unpopular this ban was, and how they are being ridiculed.

Don't believe me? Just check out any website, blog spot, printed article, any shul conversation or "mikva news" and see for yourself. The rabonim have clearly been found guilty in the court of public opinion.

Again, I'm not in any way saying that they are wrong. The banning of the concert may very well have been the right thing to do. (I personally was offered free tickets, and didn't even have a "hav'a a'mina" to go) however, they must be aware of the massive gap that has opened up between them and the masses. They can hide their heads in the sand and pretend everything's fine, but sane people understand that the problem exists and in order to fix things up some sort of reconciliation is in order.

Kudos to Rav Kamenetzky for coming clean. If only the rest would follow....
Zeidy asked:
What do I tell my einiklech ?

My grandchildren have challanged me with the following two fallouts of the cancelled concert. Number one: "Zeidy we have a Chofetz Chaim project in our school. We learn, sing songs and have plays teaching us the wrongs of loshon hora, evil and hurtful speech against another person. Yet in this kol koreh it was alleged that the concert organizers, singers, players were involved in a horrible plan to mislead thousands of people away from the Torah. And everyone knows, and I mean everyone, that Sheya Mendlowitz sat with his rav many times and worked out every detail that it should be according to halacha. Which means that the ban, the kol koreh was loshon horah, rechilus, motzi shem rah, also mazik a persons livelihood and injuring him to the core, and taking his life away! So why do I have to be so careful with Chofetz Chaim's teachings and never tell anything bad about anybody when our rabbanim seem not to be so careful? (This girl, our einikle is 14 yrs old)

The second question is, "Zeidy, You always say that when we have a doubt we must ask a rav and you and Bubby always do. I overheard a number of times you called a rav and talked over sh'ei'los with him. And you said I should do the same. But what's the use. If I follow one rav, some other rav, or a group will put my name in the paper and say I am a sinner, a shik'seh and a misleader of my friends because I told them what my rav had "pas'kened" adjudicated the Jewish law. Sheya Mendelowitz said on radio and to the papers that he had asked a rav in detail about the halacha for this concert. Now the rabbanim grab him and say he is sh'ai'getz, a bum who is misleading thousand of people away from the Torah. So why should I ask a rav my sh'eilos? Tomorrow I could be called a shik'sa???!!!" (This granddaughter is 17)

These are the questions of my grandchildren and I don't know what to answer them. Do you?
Yoel B. wrote:
Imagine this: A surgeon R"L cuts off the wrong leg in an effort to save a patient's life. The hospital spokesman says "well, it was an emergency, the doctor was in a hurry" or "the surgeon was told the wrong information" or "he didn't look into things personally, he relied on the doctor at another hospital" or "he didn't fully understand the X-ray." And then a month later, it happens again at the same hospital; the same lame excuses. We would lose trust in the surgeon, and in the hospital. We would begin to think that there was no sense of personal or professional pride, no sense of professional responsibility. The thing is, that if such a thing happened in a hospital, not only that hospital but others would review procedures and safeguards, if not out of professionalism at least out of fear of a lawsuit.

Yet, we have heard "the rav wasn't given the full story" or "the askonim..." or "the kanoim..." time and again. What is wrong?
At least Rav Shmuel Kaminetzky himself stood up and said in the Jewish Star interview mentioned above, "Usually we meet together. This time, with time pressing, we did not get together. And maybe it was not the right thing.”

Worse, in the case of this particular ban, one of the signatories is a rosh yeshiva who for many years ran interference for a rebbe who is an indicted serial child molester. This doesn't look good at all.
Anonymous asked:
Dear Rabbi Horowitz, I would love to dan lekaf zechus. But I am looking for one. Can you help me?
Ahavas Yisroel wrote:
Dear Rabbi Horowitz. Firstly I must commend you on your editorial. Though I didn't see any satisfactory explanations or rationalizations in your article, I am impressed that you opened such a forum that may run against the wishes of your employers (Agudah).

Your point that this is a major turning point for Klal Yisroel is valid. I am a returned Adult at Risk, who had a crisis in faith primarily because I saw a lot of dysfunctional Rabbonim, and everything I learned came crashing down. Today I realize that my observance is not dependant on any one else other than my self. That is not to say that I am shocked at the aforementioned saga.

Let me present a few thoughts; ***The greatest aveirah in my humble opinion is Chillul Hashem. As we all know even Ne'ilah is not michaper for it. There is no other aveirah that cannot be forgiven. There is no doubt, and I'm not pointing fingers, but shaim shomayim was mechallel here. I tremble to see when the mainstream media has a field day with our Gedolim.

***The signers of the ban were from all facets of the chareidi spectrum. I am shocked that certain Rabbonim, very well known for their being open minded and having their finger on the pulse of today's society, signed this amazing proclamation.

***The fact that over 30 Rabbonim as well as the askonim let the ban go through without reading it properly gives me cause to wonder if they are really responsible. The ban said " Kahn Ubiartzos Habris" clearly indicating that that this nusach was plagiarized from the Israeli version.

***The claim that the funds will be repaid leaves me open-mouthed. We all know that everyone is pretty much maxed out with their charity donations. In these uncertain economic times with so many of our brethren unemployed it shocks me that there will be a further demand on individuals to give money to replace losses here. I'm sure the askan who is himself involved in a tzedakah can't foot this immense financial obligation. I also can't see myself giving anything further to his organization (as I've done frequently), as his value system clearly doesn't resonate with me.

***There have been claims of signer's names being forged. I assert that until those signatories publicly deny that they signed the public Kol Koreh, we must assume it was them who signed.

***Throughout our golus changes have been made to our structure, with the leadership of the leaders of that generation, to adapt Frumkeit to the changing times. Though there are many examples, Sarah Schenirer's heter for a Bais Yaakov, and permission to integrate secular studies in our Yeshivos spring to mind. Nowadays, we are having a massive defection from our way of life due primarily to the culture that we live in. This is a universally accepted fact. It amazes me that in light of this, where the concert can be seen as a plus to circumvent outside cultural pressures, the Rabbonim may have INADVERTENTLY caused a greater kilkul in Klal Yisroel.

***WE are in Golus for one simple reason, SINAS CHINAM. We are obligated to correct this sin in order for us to merit the redemption. I find it hard to see why this is not exacerbating the problem. Achav was merited a miraculous victory over his enemies even though his whole nation were idol worshipers. The reason given was because there was achdus among the nation. Does this not show us what values Hashem wants us to prioritize? ***It seems to me that being burnt out is not an excuse for Rabbonim to err. In all other leadership systems, leaders are deposed if their leadership capabilities falter. The maxim of "If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen" comes to mind.
I look forward to getting this issue behind us and for us to unite behind worthy leadership in order for us to merit Moshiach Tzidkeinu!
Talmid of Gedolim wrote:
Many commentors have attempted to shift the blame for this fiasco away from the "Gedolim" and onto "Askonim". One of the "askonim" is a very respected Rov and apparently considered as having Daas Torah and being a Gadol in his own right as the original Kol Koreh implies.

Many commentors are trying to defend the honor of our Rabbonim by saying things like they were misled, they did not have all the facts, etc. Other commentors are taking the blind faith approach that we must trust and obey our Gedolim and that the gedolim know what they are doing here.

Other commentors have tried to explain away the decision to ban the concert by conjecturing that the ban was directed against:

A. Jewish music with non Jewish tunes

B. A particular style of music

C. Concerts in general

D. Lipa in Particular due to the nature of his act both at concerts and at simchas which are alleged to contain elements of Letzanus which is not directed at Avoda zara and would therefore be Assur as Letzanus because they crossed the line from Badchanus to Letzanusa

E. Reigning in the Jewish music industry because it has strayed from the style of the 60s and 70s, which for some reason might be considered more kosher even though 60s and 70s Jewish music was also heavily influenced by non jewish music styles of those times.

F.The concept of a "big event" in Madison Square Garden

G.All or some of the above and perhaps other reasons as well

I myself am a talmid of Gedolim and Gedolei Poskim some of whom are no longer alive. One of my rebbeim was considered the Poseik Hador. That rebbi was not averse to saying "I made a mistake" or "I don’t understand" or "there is a Bilbul here" My personal feeling on this matter is that my rebbeim would not have appended their signature to such a kol koreh or approved of it.

The general lack of clarity surrounding this matter, the quotes attributed to Rav Shmuel Kaminetzky, and the apparent injustice perpetrated against Lipa and Shiya, lead me to believe and conclude that there is a mistake here and a big one at that. If indeed there was a mistake made by the signatories then there is an obligation to admit as such - It takes real Gadlus to admit publicly you made a mistake. If there was no mistake then there is an obligation to clarify the matter so that it is "as clear as the sun in mid-day" as my rebbi used to say.

Rabbi Blau and Rabbi Willig came out with public statements in the aftermath of an infamous case of abuse. In that statement they took responsibility for their mistakes in allowing an individual to continue in a position where he could accumulate more victims. This was even true in regards to the previous rulings of a Beis Din they had sat on that had adjudicated the matter.

I disagree with you, Rabbi Horowitz, on the notion that we are blaming too many of our problems on our Gedolim and not taking enough personal responsibility for our decisions. You are correct that we all need to take more personal responsibility. However this also includes Gedolei Torah that are in leadership positions. They have tremendous power as evidenced by the results of the kol koreh. With power and leadership comes responsibilty. Many of the problems in our community would probably be easier to address if they were dealt with as forcefully and with the same alacrity as the the issue of the concert.
Yoel B. comments again:
Thank you Talmid of Gedolim

I will push my point from before. I admit, I am from a secular background and have certain expectations of people in positions of responsibility that comes from exposure to Jewish and non-Jewish professionals of sterling character, in my case mostly medical professionals.

B'gashmius, we rightfully expect certain standards of accountability and professionalism in our doctors, engineers, and the many other professionals who in one way or another hold our lives in their hands.

We are told that the matters we bring to a rav are, b'ruchnius, of life and death magnitude. Yet one decision after another that is signed by big talmidei chachamin then has to be justified by "it wasn't the rav/rebbe, it was 'handlers' or 'askanim' or 'kanoim'" or whatever.

If I heard such things from a physician I would think that even if the excuses were true he wasn't a mentsch. I wouldn't go to such a doctor.

It is extraordinarily distressing but it looks as though the religious world has lower expectations of conduct from its great rabbis than I do of a physician.

I can tell you that if I had been exposed to the "handlers / askanim / kanoim" explanations when I was first becoming observant it might well have been the last straw. By the way, teenagers are pretty sensitive to hypocrisy. How do you think the "handlers/askanim/kanoim" rhetoric sounds to them?

BTW, the more I think about this article the more upset I get. I'm revising my rating downward from my first comment.
Jasmine wrote:
I still feel this article is overall counterproductive

I read your article AND I just finished listening to your show last night on Zev Brenner. Your bottom line message is that we can respectfully question the gedolim who signed on the ban. What we have heard about this ban raises serious questions and we don't have answers. Yet, when we agree with our kids that their (and our) questions are valid, and that we should chill out and not bash the gedolim right now, that's fine.

But at some point, we need answers, even if the answer is 'we made a mistake' (as you imply). If answers don't come, we are in big trouble. Can you work toward providing answers here and not just a forum to vent questions? Please run a follow-up with some answers.
Anonymous challenges a commentor, Reuven:

What world do you live in? Do you not see the earnest trouble and pain that has been caused by this situation? Somehow, any questioning of an action taken by Gedolim amounts to just wanting to attack them? Give me a break. Have you stopped to think for a minute about that? Or is that a problem as well...
Flatbush Yid wrote:
Missing the point

Rabbi Horowitz, Thank you for the excellent article. The article has generated this wonderful forum, an exchange of opinions that I can choose to agree or disagree with.

I think many people are missing the point. How is it that a small group of so-called askanim has the influence to sway so many Rabbanim with half truths and less then factual information. I understand that Harav Shmuel Kaminetzky was somech on what these askanim told him. By his own admission he admitted that Rabbanim that supposedly signed the Kol Koreh did not communicate with each other directly. The greatness of Harav Shmuel Kamintzky is his willingness to admit that perhaps the Kol Koreh went out hastily.

I believe this episode has left many Baalei Baatim in the Frum, politically correct, Brooklyn bred, card-carrying Agudah members shaken. It pains me to say that there are other goyish influences in the frum community besides concerts and music. We now have our own Taliban, who dictate to Rabbanim and to the community what they think is Torahdik, what they think is frum what they think a frum Jew is supposed to look like. I shudder to think that the time will come when they will issue Kol Koreh that puts in Cherem any man who shaves, or any young man that attends college, publicizing the names of those who eat cholov stam. We need an Emesdike Kol Koreh that calls upon all of us to be mekayeim the mitzvah of Ahavas Yisroel and to observe al FIVE chelukim of the Shulchan Aruch.
Tani asked:
While, I always appreciate your calm and non-visceral presentation, your essay does not answer the questions that you raised. I will take your advice in trying to respond as an adult instead of a child. I also strive to act as an adult in thinking and understanding, as opposed to a child -- who even in the face of physical abuse or worse tends not to question.

Let’s not consider the content of this current ban. The process unnerves and disturbs me. Time and again, most famously The Making of a Godol, the Slifkin ban, the One People Two Worlds issue, and the Jerusalem Avraham Fried concert, we, the believing people, have heard strong condemnations without solid explanation. Each time, the story is remarkably similar. Let’s work backwards: A strongly phrased kol koreh is published against a book or person or event, with an impressive list of gedolim signed on the bottom. Then we ask, what happened? Who is the principal signer? What is the issue at hand?

These questions remain time and again without solid answers. I want to trust the gedolim, I want to trust my leaders. But when they repeatedly raise issues in a way that I fail to understand, I start to question. I have had contact with some of the rabbanim who sign these and I have tremendous respect for them. These posters and signs and sayings lead me to non-understanding. Who is truly authoring them?

Worse yet, I want to behave in accordance with the Torah as expressed by the chachomim. But if these announcements continue appearing without traceability and accountablity, how can I know that if I try to teach Torah and take an untried angle at solving current Jewish issues, how can I know I will not receive this sudden and unexplained fate? Many of the people affected by these bans were not given an opportunity to meet with the gedolim. They were not given explanation. They were just condemned. Who will be next?

The real question is starts these petitions? And who writes them? Who informs the gedolim of the issues? And do they know what we know about these problems?

I agree it is time to start acting like adults.

These are the issued that we must responsible raise with ourselves. Should we raise them with our children? We cannot jade them against leadership, but when our leadership is unclear and inexplicable we must sensitively teach our children to question abuse.
Yoni asked:
Rabbi Horowitz,

How do you think we can effect a practical change in this behavior on the part of our leaders? How can we ask them (politely) and have them listen to our pleas for sensibility?

How can we make a change, practically speaking?

Can we?

How can we tell them that we've had enough of the banning, and want a return to the reason shown by Rav Moshe, and others? I don't want to join those who are making you uncomfortable, but I do want to know how we can change the trends that are going on, no matter whose fault they are.
Anonymous asked:
What about those who stand to lose parnassah?

Rabbi Horowitz,
My husband works as a technician in a Jewish music-related field. He works with erhlich, fine people, in a business that is constantly helping Jewish causes. Who will pay our bills if G-d forbid concerts are cancelled and his work is reduced??? I am upset personally.

Canceling concerts will cost Jewish businesses & the community (I don't think people understand the ripple effect this causes--I definitely wouldn't have had I not been in this position, and we're at least 4 degrees of separation from the concert) thousands of dollars. Those are real people being affected--not just that they have to cut out an extra stock purchase--but they're going to have to scrounge for rent.

We're the little people trying to live quietly. My husband is controversy-averse. When he first heard about this, he just wanted to distance himself. Then he found out from work that further bans and a continuance in this direction might jeopardize his job... which we need to make rent. Who's to look out for us?

It's not just the people getting paid thousands for a show who lost money. It's also the people who get paid per hour; who would really not like to be added to the ranks of those who need tzedakah. I would just like if you could add that somewhere to the vision being used to help guide our community.
At Cross-Currents...

YM wrote:
I find the notion that the a gadol is not responsible for his signature on a Kol Koreh to be very disturbing. Very disturbing.
Michoel Halberstaam wrote:
Rather than comment on the very disturbing issues raised by this affair, I recommend that you read the Gemara in Sanhedrin Daf 101b through 102a, in which the history of the first Kol Koreh is described in detail. The author of that Kol Koreh was Yerovom ben Nevat who managed to get Zaddikim and Neviim to sign on a document urging Jews to follow Yerovom into Avoda Zorah. The Gemara says that this kol koreh continued to work its evils for years and brought horrible results to Klal Yisroel.

The genius of the Kol Koreh is that it works by pressuring people to sign in spite of their better judgment, and then gives everybody something to hide behind when the flaws in that judgment are exposed. From the day of Yerovom to this day, these dynamics still operate. My vote is to abolish the institution of Kol Koreh. The need is far more urgent than the abolition of blogs.
Ori asked:
Is charedi society supposed to be led by talmidei chachamim, or by the zealots? I don’t want to come across as rude, but it seems that if their names are used for something they don’t agree with they need to protest publicly. Otherwise they are acquiescing with forgery, at the very least. Leaders who do not do that are abdicating their responsibility.

King Achashverosh gave his ring and his authority to Haman and then to Mordechai, and didn’t check exactly what they were doing. That is not a model of good kingship.
Elitzur asked:
It doesn’t affect you that the leaders of one part of American Orthodox Jewry willingly bow to the wills of others thousands of miles away (causing $1million of loss) without even investigating the situation or talking to those involved?
Daniel Shain wrote
Our Gedolim need to take a stand on these issues. If they were misled into signing the concert ban, they should come out publicly and say so. It’s not enough to tell us to “speak to the Gedolim personally out of earshot of the zealots” to find out what the Gedolim really think, as Rabbi Adlerstein suggests.

Not all of us have such easy access to the Gedolim. If our Gedolim are to be true leaders of Klal yisrael, they need to make their opinions known publicly, honestly and truthfully, and not only in secret conversations with their personal friends and intimate contacts. They need to stop being afraid of or controlled by the “zealots”.

I agree with YM (comment 3) that it is very disturbing that a gadol would sign something and not take responsibility for it. WADR, what kind of leadership is that? If the Gedolim believe that concerts are assur, why not write and publicize a psak or teshuva?
dman asked:
You wrote:
If you want to know what those important talmidei chachamim really believe – and I myself would feel compelled to bend to the wishes of several of the purported signatories (or virtual signatories in this case) – you had better speak to them personally, and out of earshot of the zealots.

My question: How are those of us who are not privileged to have direct contact with gedolim supposed to find out what they think?
LOberstein asked:
There is a confusion of issues here. What bothers me is that there was no “due process”, just a ban. Kovod Hatorah is predicated on your rebbe being a malach. I saw gedolim up close and none of them spoke in the harsh tones or were so dismissive of those who had a different point of view as the author of the kol koreh against concerts in Israel that was repeated in the Hamodia. The author wasn’t just against Lipa, the kol koreh’s wording was to ostracize all performers, not let them lead the prayers, to make them suffer for their behavior. Is this the way a malach talks ?

I love Rav Shmuel Kaminetzky, He is the sweetest man I know. How did this kind and gentle man get mixed up with hate speech? Did he or the other rabbis read the kol koreh, did they have any editing authority, or were their names just added on?
Sephardi Lady asked:
Rabbi Adlerstein,
It really pains me to hear you say that such a ban has “no impact on [your] life.” Like you, this genre of Jewish Music isn’t my cup of tea. Non-Jewish classical music is far more likely to be playing on our home sound system than Jewish Music, although today my oldest insisted on cantorial music, which he happily accompanied at the top of his lungs.

Just the greater cynicism that has been brought to the surface should be concerning enough for any communal leader, Rebbe, etc. The financial losses alone are saddening. The fact that hourly workers (both Jewish and non-Jewish) had no job for that day (a job that perhaps counted on) should bring tears to the surface.

While I have never spoken with you personally, I know you are a sensitive and caring person as students of yours that I am acquainted with speak highly of you. Therefore, I am saddened that you feel so removed from this event.

And who knows which tzedakah or whose source of parnasah will be derailed without warning next.
Dr E. commented:
Rabbi Adlerstein-

Of course, the disappearance of mega-concerts will not be what drives kids off the derech. What will drive them and what has driven them (and adults) off–i.e., increased cynicism towards leadership–is the way that matters have been handled in recent years. As J. Rosenblum has written about on CC before, bans are not chinuch. Not chinuch for kids and even moreso not chinuch for adults.

It’s time to get out of the Kol Koreh business (I would suggest a collective moratorium for 4 years, and then we can re-assess if we were better off now that 4 years ago). That style of leadership/communication just doesn’t work in this case and it hasn’t worked with controversial books, etc. This recent cherem/ban is merely a microcosm of what appears to be a desperate attempt to stay relevant, in response to the increasing religious extremism in Eretz Yisroel.

As for your encouragement to uncover subtle inference and read between the lines, why should it take pilpul to spin what someone said favorably (and even you admit that you are making an educated guess)? And that is the inevitable reaction to Kol Koreh. Instead of the signators signing on the bottom of a boilerplate text handed to them by Askanim, I would rather see a real, old-fashioned teshuva with Gemaras, historical reality, and Poskim weighed and articulated–even if it came out to the same maskana.

In Lipa-gate, there are surely no winners. But, what I can say, that the biggest loser is Kavod HaTorah–and some should have seen that coming. “Eizehu chacham? Ha’roeh es ha-nolad.”
Miriam Shear asked:
R. Alderstein - This was an excellent article and I thank you for setting some of the “history” straight on a few issues. Truly, one of your better-written articles (Maybe you should do all of them while traveling and in dire need of sleep!)

But there are still some unaddressed issues. They are big ones.

1) Was the banning of this concert really worth the price paid in makloket, loss of kavod l’rabbonim, loshan hara, bitul Torah, etc?

2) There is a lot of money involved here - reportedly approximately $700,000. That’s the annual budget for some small yeshivas or kollels. Let me ask you: Why would any Jewish person want to stick their financial necks out in today’s climate of a kol-koreh-ban-per-week to do such a high-profile mitzvah, knowing that they risk their reputations, investments, and livelihood? The hardships that will be endured by the organizers/promoters of this concert will resonate for a long time.

3) I would like to direct attention to Yoma 23 a,b. There an incident is recounted where, during a race, one kohane stabs a fellow kohane in the heart with a knife. The father of the dying kohane yells out “The knife is not tamei, he’s still alive!” The father’s concern of the moment is that a knife remain tahor - not his son bleeding to death in his arms. This incident is recorded to relay to us the value system and insensitivity of that generation to the rabid bloodletting.

I see a parallel between this gemara and my first 2 points. With a few phone calls and a swish of a pen, today’s gedolim can destroy a person, their reputations, careers, investments - for a greater goal? That is what is highly questionable. That’s why this has touched a major nerve. That is why, as Rav Shmuel Kaminetzky rightly suspects as implied from his comments, that this may have been the proverbial straw that breaks and discards any remaining respect or adherence to kol korehs. Schmeltzer and company is the kapara.
Yonason Goldson wrote:
I’m certainly in no position to judge the decisions of our gedolim. What I find profoundly disturbing, however, is the effect that these kinds of stories have on many sincere Torah Jews. A number of years ago, I discovered that many acquaintances in the modern Orthodox community roll their eyes whenever they hear the expression “daas Torah.” Whether right or wrong, they claim to have heard the term invoked by their neighbors in the Chareidi community to defend every kind of questionable behavior. To their minds, “daas Torah” is nothing more than a catch phrase for “this is how we justify anything we want to do.”

Since then, this kind of cynicism toward rabbinic authority has spread to many who consider themselves members of the yeshivishe world. Is it not possible, even likely, that bans of this sort that raise so much confusion among committed b’nei Torah will gradually and inevitably lead to the erosion of emunas chachomim on a massive scale? Is it possible that our gedolim can be unaware of this? Is the law of unintended consequences not a factor that must be taken into account? I wish I had even the beginning of an answer.
Moshe S. wrote:
Ignore the work of the kanaim. Pick a responsible Torah authority of the highest caliber, and learn to get his opinion, quietly and discretely.

Yet those who you would consider to be “responsible Torah authorities of the highest caliber” themselves do NOT ignore the work of the kannaim, but instead allow the kannaim to use their signatures for their work. Surely the inconsistency here is obvious.
Dr. Nachum Klafter wrote:
You are correct in your analysis of what occurred with this latest ban. I certainly agree that a kol korei against musical entertainment is not comparable to a ban which appears to forbid the shitos of rov ge’onim and rishonim, and many acharonim, (and, perhaps, common sense and the input of our senses).

Yet, I feel you are ignoring the following: The Mo’etzes and many of its members have allowed their signatures to be abused too many times and then have failed to openly clarify afterwards. What results is that the kannoyim are convinced that all of the members of the Mo’etzes are on their side on every one of their pet projects, and then people like you and me read between the lines, or make phone calls to our inside informants. Rather than leading, manhigim are pressured and then duck for cover. Thus, we see Gedolei Torah who are pressured into bans, who sign haskamos without reading the books, who sign bans without having read books, who retract their haskamos, who qualify their bans, who give verbal clarifications rather than written clarifications which are repeated in a manner that they appear to be contradicting themselves depending on their audience because they don’t write or publish anything themselves, gedolim in Eretz Yisrael who receive individuals from all over the globe and after hearing only side make pronouncements that can be interpreted as a pesak but can also be interpreted as not a pesak, etc., etc. While many of these individuals are honorable and admirable in their 1:1 conduct, their ability to lead kelal yiroel is being hampered by this.

To say it more simply: For the sake of kevod ha-Torah, leaders are avoiding answering questions directly and giving consistent, clear guidance on issues. The result is not an increase in kevod ha-Torah.

In my arrogance, I will suggest the following stock responses that every public leader should have at his fingertips

“I wish you success, but I do not have time to read your book carefully and I do not sign haskamos unless I am thoroghly familiar a book’s contents.” I.e., no haskama, no michtav beracha.

“I am sorry for your pain but I am prohibited from judging a case unless I hear both sides, and your situation requires a proper din Torah.”

“I understand that you are disturbed by this phenomenon, but we cannot control the world. Furthermore, I am not going to issue a ban unless I know all of the facts involved including testimony from the principal parties. Plus if these individuals are yorei shamayim, we presume that they have asked their own local rabbonim. If they are not yorei shamayim, then a ban is useless. Take these individuals to a proper Din Torah and I will participate if that is feasible, or I will recommend qualified dayanim.”

“Judaism does not endorse beliefs in a deceased leader as a possible candidate for the Moshiach. The individuals who hold such beliefs may be wonderful people, but this is not an acceptable belief.”

“Obviously we all know that Chazal did not have flawless medicine or science, but since I am not a scientist I cannot intelligently comment on which current scientific theories are fads and which scientific theories are emes. Stop making a tzimmes out this issue. Don’t you see that we all go to modern doctors and fly in airplanes? Obviously we all believe in modern science!”

“Be-avonoseinu ha-rabbim, we live in a generation where most Jews have no exposure to Torah. The great majority of them are tinnukim she-nishbu. Every Jewish man who wears a kippah or woman who wears tzanu’ah clothing must see him or herself as an ambassador for HaShem and his Torah, we must try to teach our children to conduct themselves in accordance with this thought.”

“I’m not a mathematician, so I can’t comment on the statistics involved in the Torah Codes, but what I can say with confidence is that the idea that statisticians will prove Torah Min Ha-Shamayim is just wacky and silly.”

“Stop asking us to issue new standards for tzeniyus which we have never heard of and which a normal human being with a normal imagination would never conceive of.”

You get the idea.

Not everyone is cut out for being harassed all day and all night by crusaders and opportunists. But is really it impossible to say “no” to kannoyim, or to say “no” to book authors asking for an endorsement, or to say “no” to a hot-headed bar plugta who feels disenfranchised about some issue, or to suggest proper dinnei Torah which follow standard procedures for conflict resolution? For that matter, why is it so hard to implement standard procedures for dinnei Torah in most battei dinim? (I applaud the RCA and the Beis Din of America.)

The relevant secular terms are “professionalism” and “boundaries”. I really think that a small dose of these could go a long way.
Rabbi Chaim Frazer wrote:
A reader wrote: It doesn’t affect you that the leaders of one part of American Orthodox Jewry willingly bow to the wills of others thousands of miles away (causing $1million of loss) without even investigating the situation or talking to those involved?

Rabbi Adlerstein replied: How do you know what they investigated and what they offered? Do we have no obligation at all to be dan lekaf zechus? If we can’t do it for the facts we believe we know, can’t we at least do it in the areas where we clearly don’t know? In the worst-case scenario, I will admit that such action would indeed cause me great consternation – but only in the case of my personal rabbeim and mentors. I am not so heavily invested in the leaders of other parts of the community, may HKBH give them all long prosperous lives.

My comments: I too believe that we should be dan l’khaf zechut. Since we all know that the Torah has mercy on the money of our fellow Jews, I wait anxiously for news that those who caused $700,000 or more in damage to their fellow Jews have reimbursed them. A touch of chumra would be reassuring here.

Looking for front and back copies of the cancelled check,

Rabbi Chaim Frazer
Over at Beyond BT...

Bob Miller wrote:
Much of the issue is not about outcome but about process. We are all familiar on some level with the Shaila/Teshuva process by which Jews get direction from Poskim, and with the idea of referring certain knotty issues up to Gedolim. We are also familiar on some level with the Beis Din processes for adjudication, arbitration, or mediation. However, as the above article indicates, the mechanics of the Kol Koreh process as practiced in Orthodox communities are more of a mystery, probably not only to BT’s. This opens up all sorts of possibilities for mischief by those who want to discredit Talmidei Chachamim in general. Perhaps the Kol Koreh process now needs better definition and control, and the publicized decisions need to be backed up by formal explanatory documents, analogous to detailed teshuvos.
David Lynn wrote:
To me, there are issues other than the ban itself and rabbinic authority that are at issue.

My criticism here is aimed not at the Rabbonim but at those individuals who brought the “issue” to the Rabbonim.

One larger issue is the manner in which the ban was issued. Apparently, no one called Lipa or Sheya Mendolowitz about the ban and Lipa found out about it in the newspaper. I have heard numerous interviews with both Lipa and Sheya Mendolowitz. I have to say that they both have been very respectful of the Rabbonim. I have heard Lipa say that he had spoken (at the time) with aprox 10 of the Rabbonim that had signed the kol koreh. Each one, he said, had asked him for mechila for the fact that no one contacted him in advance. How is it that the reputation and parnasa of a fellow Jew was taken so lightly?

Additionally, in one of the interviews, Lipa confirmed that his name did not appear on the kol koreh at the time the Rabbonim signed, it was added afterwards. If this is true, it appears to me that the individuals that brought the “issue” to the Rabbonim to start with are, themselves, showing and creating a lack of respect for Rabbinic Authority.

Finally, the fact that the kol koreh used the exact language as the one previously issued in EY (even where that language doesn’t make sense), indicates, on the part of those who brought the “issue” to the Rabbonim, a lack of appreciation for the sensitivity of the personal issues involved and a hasty approach to an issue that is not so simple.
Len Kofman asked:
David raises a lot of the points that I agree with and am thinking but there is one further question that keeps bothering. The handling of the entire affair was flawed (e.g. bad wording, not contacting people, doing it at the last moment). If the Rabbonim’s judgment was poor in the handling of it why should I believe their judgment was better in the deciding of the issue?

I do not mean this question to disrespect the Gedolim but this is an honest question that I struggle with .
Avigdor M'Bawlmawr wrote:
Can great rabbinic leaders be manipulated? If the Kol Koreh originated with Gedolei Yisrael, and not “kanoim” -those seekers of machlokes who think they are lishmah-, then Lipa and others would’ve been informed in advance, would they not? Those sensitive to the nuances of halacha, especially bein adam l’chavero, might have charted a different path. However, the Taliban among us lack perspective and are willing to tell rabbonim what they “need” to hear. This is not a new phenomenon.

Numerous questions about this situation have been raised elsewhere. Jonathan Rosenblum has a piece posted on, “Bans are not Chinuch,” which is worthwhile reading.
IMHO, this ban, as previous with previous ones, can only lead to a reduction of rabbinical authority, as David Linn writes.
Charlie Hall commented:
How to react to the ban?

In my case, I ignore it.

I have a rav with whom I had previously discussed the appropriateness of entertainment. He had discussed these issues with his rav, one of the leading rabbis of my lifetime, and he told me exactly what that gedol said regarding this issue.

There are many things I find difficult here. Do so many frum Jews not have a rav that a ban needs to be pronounced publicly? Is it proper derech eretz (or even proper halachic procedure) to publicize a halachic decision that involves particular individuals without discussing it with them?

Is the fact that a frum Jew is now in danger of defaulting on hundreds of thousands of dollars of financial commitments, itself an issur d’oraita, of no halachic concern?

How do contemporary halachic authorities have the authority to reverse a practice which had been viewed by many if not most halachic authorities as mutar l’chatchila?

Doesn’t this violate yeridot hadorot? It would be very helpful if someone could explain these issues adequately.
Bozoer Rebbe wrote:
I have to wonder how well informed the signatories to this Kol Koreh were on the subject. Have they listened to the music in question? Have they been to similar concerts or seen videos of them?

We already know that neither the artists nor the promoter of the show were questioned prior to the ban. Exactly how much due diligence do the gedolim do before taking a decision that can bankrupt someone?

I’m supposed to defer to Da’as Torah, but I’m sorry, but argument from authority never works for me, particularly when the authority in question seems to be willfully ignoring things that go on in the real world. Knowledge of Torah is not enough. To properly judge a matter one must know enough about it to be able to understand how Torah applies, as was seen in the responsa (and reversal thereof) concerning internet commerce on Shabbat.
Bob Miller also wrote:
A published ban becomes especially disconcerting (no pun intended!) when people “in the know” in the target group, even some Rabbonim, say or imply that it wasn’t meant literally and that we have to read between the lines. Likewise, when some signatories are later said to disavow all or part of its content. The rank and file should get the straight scoop, not a puzzle. The document should be 100% as intended by all signatories, direct, well-supported and unambiguous. If the direction has to be so hedged, gradated and nuanced as to make a clear publication impossible, don’t print it.
Again, do these people deserve answers?