18 Aug Speak Your Vues
SPEAK YOUR VUES WITH THE VUES MASTER
Please note that the author of Speak Your Vues is in no way affiliated with the publisher of this paper. The author of this column is an independent third party contributor. The views and opinions expressed by this author may not reflect the views and opinions of the publishers. If one has any issues with any of the views, please write a letter to the Vues Master.
BLINDED BY HATE
Dear Vues Master: Compromise is defined as “settling a dispute by concessions.” Our nation was founded on compromise. It was called the Compromise of 1787 which pit small and large states against each other in regards to what the legislature would be. Big states wanted what we call the House of Representatives and the small states wanted the Senate. The compromise was having a bicameral legislature. Obstruction is defined as a party “deliberately making something difficult.” In negotiation with 2 sides, there are always disagreements, but unfortunately, at times there is also obstruction. The Democrats have for the past 3 years obstructed anything Trump-related. Looking at the recent COVID Relief Bill negotiations, the Democrats refused to agree unless Republicans agreed to extensions of the $600 of unemployment benefits. Republicans didn’t want it, but they agreed to $400, Democrats said no. The Democrats agreed to lower their HEROES ACT from 3 Trillion to 2 Trillion dollars, but why would anyone vote for such a “COVID Relief Bill” if 1/3 of what’s in the HEROES ACT is unrelated to COVID?! The Republicans introduced a police reform bill, the Democrats had problems with it. Republicans gave them 20 amendments that the Democrats could add to the bill, nevertheless, it wasn’t enough for the obstructionists. According to the Heritage Foundations, 72.5% of Trump’s appointments to the US Courts of Appeals were obstructed by 25% of Senators or less, under Obama only 10.7% of his appointments in 8 years were obstructed by the same number. In Obama’s first term 131 judges were approved with 70 senators or more, under Trump’s first term, only 74 have been approved in the same manner. Both of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominees were approved with over 60 votes, under Trump the most his nominees got were 54 votes. It’s time for Democrats to stop being blinded from hate!!
Sincerely, D S G
Vues Master’s Note: Do you blame the Democrats? They have no other way of winning the election unless they sabotage our economy and our Health! Our Founding Fathers would find much wrong in the way our country is currently being led and in the entire election process.
Dear Vues Master: In the past few years a new phenomenon has arisen in our Orthodox communities. This new method of collecting tzedaka involves millions of dollars. Many large Torah institutions and tzedaka groups have profited greatly since its inception. It has even enabled some small institutions to thrive or even just to survive, This new phenomenon is called a “Chinese Auction.” I simply call it a new form of gambling. Before you get upset at my criticism, look deep into your heart and try to admit that what I am saying is not at all farfetched, or ridiculous. I remember many years ago, way before the days of Chinese Auctions when yeshivahs and other Torah institutions sponsored “Bingos…” That also brought in much needed funds, and often parents who couldn’t afford to pay full tuition were asked to work in the Bingo hall. What was wrong with Bingo? You simply bought a few cards, and hoped your number would be called. What was wrong with Vingo? The yeshivas one by one finally admitted after many years, that Bingo was gambling. One by one the yeshivas stopped the Bingos. Today it is almost unheard of that a yeshiva will accept money from “Bingo” profits. It is finally looked down upon as something assir. But the yetzer hora doesn’t give up easily. And that is what this is all about – the yetzer hora. The thought of winning some great prize – arouses the worst part of us. I’ve attended a number of Chinese Auctions. I looked around at the crowd and said to myself, “What is going on here?” Baruch Hashem, I’ve never been to a casino, but I’ve been told what the faces of the gamblers look like while they are gambling. Well readers, don’t kid yourselves – that’s what you look like at a Chinese Auction. I asked my Rav about what he felt about Chinese Auctions. His answer to me was that if people would give tzedaka nowadays the way they should, there would be no need for Chinese Auctions. I asked another posek about Chinese Auctions. He said that Halachicly gambling applies only when there are “odds” For example, if you know that there will be only 500 raffles sold for a particular prize, so that your ticket will have a 1 in 500 chance of winning, that is clearly gambling. OK everybody, now you can breathe a little easier. At least you know you haven’t done an issur MideOraysa. But that does not mean the green light got Chinese Auctions. Many Chinese Auctions have included new “shtick” to bring in more money. For example, “split the pot”, or even worse, I went to a Chinese Auction, where the M.C. was announcing that anyone with a 20 dollar bill with a number 2,3 or 4 written on the bottom is entitled to double tickets if they give in that 20 dollar bill. Then he continued with 50 and 100 dollar bills. This was after the people had given their initial “donation”. The M.C. did great business. Later, the M.C. privately admitted to me (since I knew him personally) “What a bunch of silly people! I kept on changing the numbers so that everyone would be a winner. What’s the difference if I give out “double” or “triple” tickets, as long as the yeshiva makes more money?!” You should have seen the excitement of these people handing in their 20 dollar bills. They looked like they hit the jackpot! Readers, please tell me with a clear conscience that this is not gambling. Who are we kidding? Do you want to fool yourself into believing that these people had a sudden urge to give more tzedaka, and this was just the way they gave it? How did these Cinese Auctions start? The first Chinese Auction I went to years ago, was for women only. The money went to a certain tzedaka group. The women themselves had donated or gathered the “chachkas” for the Chinese Auction. For 18 dollars you could get about 20 tickets to put into the cups. There was even a “gold table”. There you could buy tickets for about 3-5 dollars, with the biggest prize a 50 dollar gift certificate to a popular store. Suddenly, these modest Chinese Auctions grew and grew and grew. Now, a single raffle ticket can cost as much as 75 dollars. Men are encouraged to go – they are supposedly even bigger “spenders” than the women. Recently I asked a lady – who bragged to me how she had gone to “every Chinese Auction” in the past year – why she goes? “It’s exciting!” she told me. “I like winning. Besides, its tzedaka.” In reality, the thrill of winning exceeds the thrill of giving. Is this the way to teach our children the mitzvah of giving tzedaka? I doubt that this is what Chazal meant when they said if you give tzedaka you will be repaid twofold. Unfortunately we resort to gimmicks for people to part with their money, even to support worthy organizations. But there comes a point when we need to reflect and ponder if the means justify the ends. Can we ever stop making Chinese Auctions? Some answer that there is much too much money involved here for the auctions to ever stop. True, there is a lot of money involved and initially it will be hard to stop them. But since when does money dictate to us what Yiddishkeit is?
Vues Master’s Note: Should schools stop selling raffle tickets for two tickets to Israel and other alluring prizes? Isn’t that gambling, too? Should shuls stop having appeals for themselves and other organizations during Yom Kippur davening? Is it right that people “show off” how much tzedaka they give right in the middle of important tefilos? Isn’t that a form of gaiva? We can do lots of good with Chinese auctions and other innovative ways to raise tzedaka. Of course, you can find bad in anything if you’re looking for it.
Dear Vues Master: What a major Kiddush Hashem! I’m referring, of course, to the artscroll bumper stickers honoring Rabbi Trenk. His legacy lives on, as a man who spent his life bringing kavod to Hashem’s name.
Vues Master’s Note: May we all live up to his legacy!
Dear Vues Master: Crazy Cuomo has been playing the blame game for months now. Blames the nursing homes and then the Trump administration for the thousands he mass-murdered with his insane policies. Blames the utility companies for the disastrous response to the super storm. Enough pointing fingers. The blame lies solely with the top, Governor Cuomo.
Vues Master’s Note: What? Blame Cuomo? No Way! Well the guy keeps on getting re-elected so the oilam must be a goilem!
Dear Vues Master: Rabbi Steinsaltz, who passed away August 7 in Jerusalem at the age of 83, was a rabbi in the most authentic meaning of the word: he was an educator. And the world was Rabbi Steinsaltz’s student body. He spent decades teaching, writing, publishing, lecturing, mentoring, and organizing, and all of this work was focused on bringing Jews closer to Judaism and Jewish sources. But, I think what Rabbi Steinsaltz really was at his essence was a dreamer. Rabbi Steinsaltz dreamed of a world where Jews cared more about each other, where ancient Jewish wisdom was accessible to all Jews, and where Jerusalem regained its centrality in Jewish spiritual life for all Jews. He was uniquely dedicated to creating a future where Jews, wherever they were and whatever their background, may develop a stronger attachment to Jews, Judaism, and the Jewish State. In 2007, Rabbi Steinsaltz wrote in Time Magazine, “The only way to ensure the state (of Israel) is, strangely enough, spiritual — by deciding that Israel is a Jewish State that has to find its strength in reconnecting to its past, to a feeling of a mission. Army and economy may help but the state can exist only when it is built on a dream.” While this may not have made Rabbi Steinsaltz a seemingly conventional “Zionist” it does not matter. His life-long commitment to making Jewish unity marked him as a “Zionist.” And his dreaming was clearly a Zionist trait as well. From Herzl’s dream of a modern Jewish State, to Eliezer Ben- Yehuda’s single-minded devotion to bringing about the revival of spoken Hebrew, to the dream of Jewish self-defense brought into reality by Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Yosef Trumpeldor, to Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook enunciating the theological imperative for a modern Zionist state, Israel exists because of dreamers who gave all they had to make sure that their dreams did not remain in the realm of dreams. No one can question that Rabbi Steinsaltz was a mere dreamer: his prodigious writing alone proves that. But, Rabbi Steinsaltz did much more than just write; he led. The Jewish people may not have his leadership now, but we do have the words he left us to help us move forward. Rabbi Steinsaltz wrote the following in 1995: “We speak about continuity and about passing on our Judaism to the next generation. What is this Judaism? In many cases, it is an empty word that doesn’t contain anything at all.” It is our duty and obligation to make sure that our Judaism has meaning. Rabbi Steinsaltz helped to open the path for Jews in our time to more easily understand what our Judaism is and what it can be. One way we can fulfill this duty and obligation is to better comprehend the gift we have in a unified Jerusalem. Rabbi Steinsaltz wrote in 2011: “Everyone who lives in Jerusalem – especially those like me who were born here – is in love with the city, really in love. For us, it is not just a place, not just a house; it is a home.” Jerusalem is a home for all Jews. Let us do our part to make sure it remains so and we should also strive to love her as much as its residents do even if we do not live there. Rabbi Steinsaltz was the recipient of the Israel Prize in 1988 and was awarded the President’s Medal in 2012. Wiith these two distinctions, he earned Israel’s highest civilian honors. There’s no doubt in my mind, however, that Rabbi Steinsaltz would rather we forget the prizes that he was awarded and instead, we study his work and translate his teachings into everyday action to move ourselves closer to the greatest attachment to G-d, fellow Jews, Judaism, Jerusalem, and Israel that we can muster.
Vues Master’s Note: I couldn’t agree more.
Dear Vues Master: A lot of conservative-Republicans tell me that Democrats pander to minority groups, and not because they genuinely care about these people, but because they need their votes. By 2042-2044, more than 50% of the United States will be non-white, and if they can get their votes, the logic goes, they will always win the Presidency and both houses of Congress. I would absolutely love it if this happened, because then we could pass a lot of new and important social programs, but I believe that it is morally wrong for some of my fellow Democrats to pander to and bow to minority groups as a strategy.
Sincerely, S. B. E
Vues Master’s Note: There is always pandering in politics and it’s important to vote for who will best represent your views.
Dear Vues Master: Can We Push Aside The 5th Commandment? I have a story to tell, and it’s an important one – the question once arose, “Can we simply push aside the 5th commandment?” This might seem like an odd question, but the question arose during an odd experience under strange circumstances. The Rosh Yeshiva is always known as the more influential leader – even greater than the Yeshiva. With that said, my son was studying Torah at a well known Yeshiva. At this school, I was under the impression that he’d study Torah and learn how to connect with a mesora that was laid forth by his parents. However, when I learned that Rosh Yeshiva was teaching his own mesora, I found myself disheartened. As an Orthodox Jew, the power of the Rosh Yeshiva is not unknown to me. He’s a considerable influence outside of school as well. In the community, he’s a leader and a policy maker, and he’s often called to act in such capacity. But to make children rebel against their parents? That was unheard of, and it was something that I wasn’t willing to take lightly. I began to take note of just how closed off this Yeshiva community was from others. There was absolutely no accountability, and as a result, I was treated with contempt. Not to mention, any speak of seeing a gadol together was solemnly rejected. The community believed that survival as a distinct entity necessitates more than just education. In other words, they believed in indoctrination. However, that left parents – like me – scrambling to understand just what our children were being taught and indoctrinated into. I found myself increasingly perplexed by what was unfolding before me, but I looked to the past to gain clarity. Rabbi Salanter was concerned that without ethical behavior and spiritual warmth, study of the Talmud would become motivated by vanity, and that adherence to the laws would turn into an unfeeling, mechanical process. At that moment, I realized that the Rosh Yeshiva was precisely what Rabbi Salanter envisioned happening one day. My son has not eaten at my home in over two years, and yet, the Rosh Yeshiva will not permit me and my son to see a mediator. Moreover, the Rosh Yeshiva will not visit a mediator with me either. As a parent, I will fight for my child. I will fight to ensure that my child doesn’t fall victim to such strict indoctrination, and I will not sit idly by while the Rosh Yeshiva calls me “bizarre,” “strange,” and, “someone with poor judgement.” Every parent has a right to inquire about the welfare of their child – even when they’re older. And every parent deserves a satisfactory answer. That’s what I’m here to do.
-Will not forsake my son
Vues Master’s Note: Every coin has two sides. Every argument has three sides. My side, Your side, and the truth! I see your letter as being one of the three sides and only one side of the coin. I am sure your son and/or the Rosh Yeshiva might have a different tale and describe the situation differently. In any case, you are clearly in a lot of pain. Perhaps you should consult with your own Rav and see if you can mediate the situation with his help. You and your son must have chosen this specific yeshiva for a reason and it is important to keep that in mind.
PETIRA OF REBBITZEN BERMBAUM
Dear Vues Master: I was deeply pained to hear the sad news of the petira of Rebbitzen Bermbaum. We go back so many years. My father-in- law Rav Yechezkiel Leitner a”h was in Shanghai together with the Rosh Hayeshivah Rav Shmuel Berenbaum z”tl, and when my husband was sitting shiva for his father the esteemed Rosh Hayeshivah came to our house to be menacheim avel. To this day we cherish the chair he sat on. Rebbitzen Bermbaum had tremendous pleasure with the fact that I taught people of all ages how to read Hebrew. She used to tell me “You are saving spiritual lives.” Whenever I would visit her, be it in Chaim Solomon nursing home or at her home, she would have me tell her stories and amusing anecdotes of my teaching experience. She would shep such nachas from my teaching kriyah . I once said to her “I’m jealous of you the way you can sit and read and say tehillim all day.” Wistfully she said, “But I never taught anyone how to read Hebrew so that they can Daven and say tehillim.” What an amazing thing to say to me! She made me feel so good. I unexpectedly met her daughter this past Shabbos. I asked “How is your mother doing?” Little did we both know her mother had passed away that very morning. What a tremendous loss. I would love to have a future granddaughter am’”h to be named for this illustrious woman, but this wish will not be granted for my deceased mother a”h carries the same name although spelled somewhat differently. Therefore, if and when the name is given, I would consider it to be one name for two special women. I feel both humbleness and pride to have known such a great woman. May the time come speedily in our days when we will know of no more sorrow. Amein.
Thank you, Devorah Leitner
Vues Master’s Note: Thank you for sharing your memories of Rebbitzen Bermbaum a’h. May her neshama have an aliyah.