Monday, April 30, 2007

Why are we not close with rabbanim?

I don't really know if there's a solution to this one.

First of all, there's the idea which many Bais Yaakovs perpetuate: Judaism is a bunch of restrictions. This leads people to believe that everything's wrong. They start to adopt the "ignorance is bliss" attitude, wrongly assuming that if we "didn't know better, G-d will understand" So if one doesn't ask the rabbi whether it's okay to do something, they can do it. The scary part is, it's really our responsibility to find out what we should and should not be doing.

In addition, Rabbis always seem so busy. Sociologically, women are simply more timid. With the exception of Rosie O'Donnell, and some others. We see that they're always running, they're always on the phone, they're all doing something that must be "more important than me."

Then there's the whole "he's a man" thing. Seriously. For girls who are taught that any man but her father is poisonous, girls grow up seeing Rabbis as some man in the shul that everyone talks to. I won't go into the tiny percentage of "Rabbis" who end up giving women a little more than they bargained for. Don't try the whole "think of him as your father," theory. He doesn't know you since the day you were born. He doesn't live day-to-day life with you. He barely knows you.

That's another thing. He barely knows you. Well, I guess that's BECAUSE of all these factors.

Also, they're generally distant. Perhaps due the whole "man-woman" tension. They don't have to be "one of the guys," or hang out. But they just seem so distant-not approachable. I'm sure that balance could be struck.

Also, it's really a big commitment to find a Rav you want to follow. That means that you have to follow whatever he says, in all areas. For example, Rabbi Abadi has views on Kashrus that aren't widely accepted among Chareidi Rabbis. Not relying on Hechsheirim-sounds good. But once I heard that he doesn't allow women to wear short skirts and short socks, I said I'm not willing to give that up.

We're always taught to have this angelic image of Rabbis, like I discussed in a previous post. Once you see them up-close, understandably, you'll notice human flaws. In this perfectionist society, this leads to big problems. The Rabbis ruin the image you once had of them, and you feel like you lost respect for him. That's not good either.


At 4/30/2007 3:54 PM, Blogger Orthoprax said...

Yes, rabbis are people too. Some are smart, some are not. Some are saints, some are child molesters.

But in any case, I personally don't really get the whole 'follow one guy with whatever he says' deal. Clearly, the ideal isn't to pick and choose how to hold based on what's easiest, but you shouldn't be stuck following poor opinions either.

Have some autonomy, you know.

At 4/30/2007 4:50 PM, Anonymous Xvi said...

Beat me to it...

Im not sure how this myth of "blind obligation to a certain rabbi" started, but its a tad on the rediculous side. the reason people ask questions is to gather information. Not to be commanded what to do. Feel free to go to five different rabbanim with the same question. The onus is then on YOU to make the educated decision for yourself. You have the same go-ahead to disagree with a rabbi as well. The clear inverse though, is that you cant do something you clearly feel/see is wrong just because a man with a beard told you that you could.

They are giving you their interpretation on the word of God. That hardly makes them the mouthpiece.

At 5/01/2007 8:04 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

I dont know, Xvi, I always feel like I was told that you can't pick and choose. Because if you think of it, you could get a "yes" to do almost anything if you "ask the right rabbi"....So I don't know.

At 5/01/2007 9:42 AM, Blogger Notsofrummie said...

I have intellegence and reasoning for a reason. I like to use it. As apeecorous (not even close to spelling it right) as I sound, I'd rather trust my thiking than a rabbi saying whether something is allowed.

At 5/01/2007 4:47 PM, Blogger Orthoprax said...


"always feel like I was told that you can't pick and choose. Because if you think of it, you could get a "yes" to do almost anything if you "ask the right rabbi"....So I don't know."

And if you ask the right doctor, they could tell you that any crazy medication or therapy works. Go find one or two or a few doctors who you trust and follow the advice that makes the most sense to you.

Why is it so wrong to get a second opinion for Halacha?

At 5/01/2007 5:48 PM, Anonymous Xvi said...


Im not saying that we are going to be completely objective on personal matters every time. We are human and we are fallable and we are generally self-centered and self-serving. So yes, its possible to skew some facts in your direction. But thats not to say that you are going to look for ways to weasel out of halachot either. Apply the same personal standards as you would to any other moral dillema, and I have confidence that if you are truly honest with yourself you will make the correct personal judgemenet.

And NotSoFrummie,

Itys hardly epicurian to disagree with a rabbi. It bothers me a little how loose we are with that word. Being an Apikores requires a whole lot more of an effort than merely making some decisions for yourself. Just make sure you are educated on the subject before taking a shot in the dark at making your own p'sak.

At 5/01/2007 7:41 PM, Blogger David said...

The Halakhah says that you can ask a second rabbi a question that you already asked a first. You just have to let him know that you already asked the first guy. The second guy may paskin differently if he can account for the first guy's error.

This applies only to questions of the sort of "Can I do X?" not "Is this object X." Once an object is declared unkosher a second rabbi cannot undo it. This does not apply to actions.

At 5/02/2007 8:47 AM, Blogger jewish philosopher said...

Any girls who want to can always email me.

At 5/02/2007 2:31 PM, Blogger Ephraim Fischel Farfal Frasser said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 5/02/2007 2:31 PM, Blogger Semgirl said...

I was toying with the idea of another post on Shidduchim, but you just gave me an idea...

As for R Abadi, when you get married, Michelle, IYH, soon.You will see that his views on Tahras Mispocha are well worth giving up bobby socks for. nuf said....

At 5/02/2007 2:31 PM, Blogger Ephraim Fischel Farfal Frasser said...

You sound like an extremely bitter and markedly reluctant practitioner of latter day Judiaism. Why don't you go see a therapist instead of spewing your scorn filled anti-theistic propaganda all over the information super highway?

At 5/02/2007 4:46 PM, Anonymous Xvi said...

Ephraim Fischel Farfal Frasser, if that is your breal name...

Furst of all, who are you talking to? Second of all, what the heck is latter day judaism? At least tell us when the first day of refference was, because Judaism seemingly changes every three weeks. So are you supporting Reformism? reconstructionism? breslovism? conservadoxism? jews for jesus? karaitism? which is the one that is being markedly, reluctantly practiced?

And Im with the Rabbi... Any girls who want to can always email me.

Just dont tell the kallah. ok?

At 5/02/2007 7:42 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Xvi-thanks for coming to my defense on an attack made by a clearly attention-hungry individual. I knew I could count on you.

At 5/03/2007 12:21 AM, Blogger Ephraim Fischel Farfal Frasser said...

You see,
there is a brand of people who literally defeat the purpose of religion. The purpose of religion is personal growth and an advancement of world purity/ consecration through personal growth on a mass scale.

However in order to retain a balance through which mankind's choices can affect world positively, there is always an equal 'measure' of good 'energy' and of bad 'energy'. This delicate balance is upheld to provide a perfect test to each individual so that, all things being equal, one may choose good over wrong and thus advance himself and the world along with him.

(Ostensibly although the world may be in a higher state of purity, the test per-se will always maintain a symmetry).

Chazal tell us to view each test we are faced with as though the world is at a point of balance between energies and that your decision will throw the world toward one extreme.

Being that each test is on a personal level, to maintain the balance one would have to remain focused on ones self. Focusing elsewhere could upset the balance. I.E. If one would gain Awareness of g-d his tests would not be as difficult to pass, as there would be little room for doubt. The gaining Awareness of g-d in itself is a test but passing that test would result in desirable consequences.

The opposite of this would be to focus on the negatives of the world AND on those among us who have failed at the tests given to them.

For example; focusing on Rabbis who are chid predators and on people who judge others by the style, color and fashion of their clothes is a cop-out when it comes to religion because you are focusing on outside negatives and not inside positives. Yes there are people who failed, but there are people who have vanquished and are uplifted! And you will be one of them!

A focus on negatives is never an achievement, where will it get you? Depressed at best! "There is some good in this world and it's worth fighting for!"

Any comments/questions are welcome!
Thanks for reading,

At 5/03/2007 7:22 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

Efraim-your vicious attack on me goes against everything in Judaism.

I have written positive posts, which have been unsuccessful. Read other Jewish blogs, and you'll notice than many, unfortunately, focus on the negative.

If you disagree with what I say, that's fine. You don't have to read it. You don't have to attack me either. You can believe what you believe. Post on your blog. Wear it on your shirt. Whatever. But to attack someone on a personal level is completely against Judaism, and everything you seem to preach in your esoteric manner.

At 5/03/2007 11:48 AM, Anonymous big bro said...

With the increasing effect of Artscroll halacha books and the resulting freezing of psak halacha, I fear we are losing the rabbanim of old, who were able to paskin for each person individually - sometimes a good posek can tell someone to rely on a kula where it is the best thing for the individual, even if it would not be "normative" halacha. However, with Artscroll and halacha books providing the last on every topic becoming less fluid and more fixed, rabbonim are less able to tailor their p'sak to the individual, which causes the distance between rav and person. People also can use these books for self-help rather than asking the rav as they might have in the past, and these questions are what creates the relationship. Rabbonim need to see individual people for who they are and that is something that unfortunately is becoming less prevalent.

At 5/03/2007 1:56 PM, Blogger Ephraim Fischel Farfal Frasser said...

I am NOT attacking you, what I am attacking is what seems to be a lifestyle of religious self affliction. And by the way, the need for a blog shouldn't be a justification for negative focus. Life is too short to spend in dislike.

At 5/03/2007 4:45 PM, Anonymous Xvi said...


Ive got a lot of experience reading long and dense passages that deal with topics much more esoteric than those being mentioned, but Im having a fairly hard time finding very much cohesiveness with your harangue a few posts back.

I hate to grade it like an essay, but im going to need a second draft. Please clarify your points, which I failed to catch, and bear in mind: sesquipedality is hardly an indication of substance.

At 5/03/2007 4:48 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

big bro--yes, you also made me think about the fact that given his angelic image we have of rabbanim, we are ashamed to ask them things that might reflect badly on us and our behavior. For example, in high school i asked if it was okay to read a magazine on Shabbos which contained make-up samples. He asked whether I should be reading them in the first place. i didn't ask that.

People don't like being embarrassed. A book won't embarrass you.

At 5/03/2007 6:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michelle - the rabbi was clearly a schmuck. Unfortunately there are too many of those around.

At 5/03/2007 8:27 PM, Blogger Semgirl said...

Michelle, if you are physically ill, and you went to two Doctors who prescribed the wrong drug, would you give up and get sicker, or keep looking..

Without, a good Rov (emphasis on the words good and Rov), you will only get sicker, spiritually ...

At 5/03/2007 10:49 PM, Anonymous Xvi said...

A better analogy, semgirl:

If you were sick and you visited a few hollistic healers, who were employing fairly outdated techniques and medicines, would you give up and get sicker? Or would you consider a physician trained in anatomical fact, who would be better equiped to deal with your issue?

Thats not to say that a little reccomendation here and there, on how to live better, is not waranted... but a Rabbi who opportunistically tries to press his own moral code on you when you ask an important personal question is just not the person I would bring my questions to.

But semgirl is right. The good ones are out there. It just takes some work trying to find them.

At 5/04/2007 3:09 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Semgirl- hate to be anal, but it's "if SOMEONE..." Thanks

At 5/09/2007 8:39 AM, Blogger Notsofrummie said...

"The good ones are out there. It just takes some work trying to find them. "

So you propose its ok to look for a Rabbi that believes in the same kulahs as you. Seeking the most lenient Rabbi is ok? I dont see a difference if you just make a rational decision by yourself or seeking the real 'easy' rabbi.

At 5/10/2007 11:11 PM, Anonymous Xvi said...

Whoah. Whoah. NSF, where did I say that? At no point did I connect a "good" rabbi with a lenient one. That may be the case, but it is just as easily not. I was talking about finding a rabbi you can properly relate to and who can return the favor. The truth is that religion can be a relative thing, when based on personal honesty. If the rabbi will blindly inform you of his strict/lax interpretation of the good book, without stopping to consider with whom he is speaking, than he is not taking his responsibility seriously.

And as far as this quote goes:

"I dont see a difference if you just make a rational decision by yourself or seeking the real 'easy' rabbi."

Im not even sure where to go with that statement.

At 5/25/2007 6:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

don't you think this is a very simplistic way to be looking at things? if a person decides to "chooses a rav" the decision should be based on larger factors in his approach to Judaism, NOT simple halachot that you have personal feelings about.

What I mean by this is that when you choose the right rav, you should understand his reasoning well enough that you know you won't be upset by any of his answers. Of course, I operate in a more Dati Leumi world so becoming close enough to a Rabbi that you can understand the guiding principles that he sees halacha under is entirely possible. That might not be so in your world, but if so that is definitely a failing.


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