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Friday, April 28, 2006

Now I've Seen It All

This is truly unbelievable. Evidently, the Satmar succession squabble has gotten so heated, that one of the warring factions will do anything to win, including invite Chillul Shabbat in exchange for some positive PR. From a press release issued to reporters by the Aronis, inviting reporters to "attend Shabbos worship services led by Grand Rabbi Aron Teitelbaum" (who was not named in his father's will as the successor for Grand Rabbi - but is contesting that):
Grand Rabbi Aron, the oldest son of Rabbi Moses Teitelbaum obm, arrived in Williamsburg, Wednesday (April 26) and, as the new Grand Rabbi, plans to reside there. Grand Rabbi Aaron's highly skilled qualifications and credentials as a speaker and charismatic person and as a dean and a rabbi who served Satmar in many positions for so many years make him well-qualified to serve as Grand Rabbi.
The best line from the release:
SPECIAL NOTE: Please be respectful of the religious observances and practices.

"Stills" and "Prints" Only. Contact if any question. Thank you.

How taking "stills" and "prints" of Chasidim partaking in Shabbos meals is "respectful of religious observances and practices" is beyond me.

Update: Another point that I find hard to grasp is that the Aronis are clearly reaching out to mainstream, non-Jewish press sources for support in the succession war. This makes no sense for a sect that claims to be so disinterested in the outside world that they sequester themselves in an exclusive village in Monroe. What could they be thinking? That if they hire a non-Orthodox PR flack to pitch Reb Ahron as the next Grand Rabbi to all the major news sources, then that will make it so? That the Aronis tactic of reaching out to the outside world for validation will somehow negate the fact that Reb Moshe's will clearly and unequivocally designated Reb Zalman as his successor? I find this all very ironic.

(Hattip: full text of press release at the Politicker.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This whole saga has been nothing but a huge chillul hashem. This new twist really takes the cake, though. Pictures on shabbos is ridiculous.

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can someone explain to me how getting PR for eating shabbos meals together in a giant tent in Williamsburg into non-Jewish papers will help the Aronis win the succession war???? Why exactly did they hire a PR person?? This is beyond bizarre. Did the Zalmis hire a PR person also??

10:12 AM  
Blogger and so it shall be... said...

Sounds like the Vilna Gaon was right all along. This chassidish insanity will never lead to anything good.

11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chillul Shabbat? It doesn't sound like it to me...

11:27 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Anonymous said...

Chillul Shabbat? It doesn't sound like it to me...

Ok...so how exactly is encouraging the media (a preponderance of whom are Jewish in NY City) to travel to Williamsburg to take pictures not Chillul Shabbos? And since when is taking pictures of a Shabbos meal in keeping with the sactity of Shabbos?

11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Case in point: Did you go to a hotel for Pesach? Did the waiter write down your order for lunch as you told to him? Was that Chillul Shabbos? I'll let you answer first.....

11:40 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Did you go to a hotel for Pesach? Did the waiter write down your order for lunch as you told to him? Was that Chillul Shabbos? I'll let you answer first.....

Uh...no. Not at all. When you go to a hotel with a caterer that has a reliable kashrut certification, part of said caterer's job is to deal with these issues so that there is no Chillul Shabbat. However he does that (usually by hiring non-Jewish waiters, and paying them for work not done during Yom Tov, or by instructing and Jewish waiters not to write in the course of their work), this is not in the least relevant to this case. Here, you have a Hasidic group encouraging people who are either potentially or probably Jewish to travel to their neighborhood and take pictures of the proceedings.

12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes the Zalis hired a PR firm also. They have retained Bob LIff and Georgr Arzt.And as far as the Rebbe clearly naming Zalman in his will, the Aronis have three points.

1)in previous wills the Rebbe named Aaron

2)There is the question of whether the Rebbe had Alzheimer's when he signed the will naming Zalman

3) According to the By-Laws of the Satmar Congregation, the Rebbe is selected by the Board of Directors, elected by the community, and not by the Dayanim. In their view, the majority of Satmars, including Kiryas Joel, Borough Park and Monsey clearly support Aaron.

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only issue here would be Amirah L'Akum. The fact that a jewish person may or may not come as part of the press group is none of their concern.

12:09 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

The only issue here would be Amirah L'Akum.

Well, the issue here would be as I said it is. Encouraging people to be Mechalel Shabbat. Your argument is absurd. Whether there are Jews among the press group is absolutely
Satmar's concern if they are encouraging people who might be Jewish to travel and take photographs on Shabbat. To say it is none of their concern is just crazy talk. A group of Chasidim who are purporting their leader to be worthy of the Grand Rabbi title absolutely has a responsibilty to not encourage Chillul Shabbat over something as idiotic as getting press coverage for their Shabbat meals. Do YOU think having photographers walking about, snapping pictures is in keeping with the sanctity if Shabbat? What's next? Inviting photographers to take photographs during a Shabbat Bar Mitzvah?

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really dont see how the waiter example is even relevant to this, anon. And Om, I agree that this is not an activity that a would-be "Grand Rebbe" should be encouraging.

12:27 PM  
Blogger LkwdGuy said...

Another way of looking at it:

Before any press releases, the media has been hyping a showdown that will take place tonight between the two brothers. This press release is aimed at acheiving two goals:

1)Insuring that the Aronis' spin is included in the story, ie. "oldest son", "new grand rabbi", highly skilled" etc.

2)Prevent a situation where reporters would be taking live footage and potentialy asking people on camera for comments.

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For such a level headed person - as I always assume you to be - you are mixing issues. If you are talking "spirit of the law" I have no issue with your statement. However as far as "letter of the law" goes. You simply wrong. Ask your local Rabbi! Why do they have to assume there are jews amongst the press that and therefore not be able to invite them to view the proceedings?

Answer: They don't have to assume, they can invite, and any chillul shabbos that takes place is not their problem because they are not causing it!

1:12 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

The issue is not whether the issuers of the release are being mechalel shabbos but rather whether they are encouraging others to do so. Clearly they are. And while that may be technically legal as a hilchos shabbos matter, it does not seem to be a wise thing to do.

And this is aside from the whole spirit of shabbos issue.

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Correct, but Mom is asserting that the invitation includes some sort of official wrongdoing/aveirah/chillul shabbos by the Satmarers. It does not.

"it does not seem to be a wise thing to do." We are supposed to be talking with our heads, not our heart!

I said I agree with a Spirit of the law problem, not letter.

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since when do Chasidishe Jews daven and sit around the Shabbos Tisch and ask goyim to snap pictures of them doing so. this is too much. stop defending the indefensible.

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chasidus is all about the spirit of the law and the sanctity of it. inviting the press into our pure shtetl of Williamsburg this week is an avlah

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wrote: Sounds like the Vilna Gaon was right all along. This chassidish insanity will never lead to anything good.

Do you want to tell me that no chilul hashem was donrm in ponovitz or chilul shabbat fro Degel

2:15 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Um, clearly, you have reading comprehension problems. I said "inviting chillul shabbat". Which they are. I'm not sure who you are arguing with here, but it sure as heck ain't me - though it seems you wish it were.

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think everyone here is missing the only point that is relevant to this entire matter, going back a few years. That Grand Rebbe of them all...MONEY.

Its obvious that R' Ahron and R' Zalman have zero interest in keeping the peace or the sanctity of their (singular or divided) Kehilos. Otherwise they would have stopped this public, emabarrising Chillil Hashem years back.

They each sit back and egg it on, so that they hopefully will get the "kovod" they feel they 'deserve' and of course control the approx $1B of Satmar.

THe MONEY is the Torah, all else is simply "drash".

Good Shabbos to all, unless you live in Willy; where I wish you a "Peacful Shabbos"

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I agree with you - nor do I wish to argue with you. I'm just pointing out that they are not actually being Over any Aveirah. If you agree with me on that then that's great. If you disagree, then we need to continue this dialogue, because you are being Motzee Shem Rah (and lord knows they are doing a fine job of that on their own).

2:44 PM  
Blogger David said...

2:44 anonymous:

My understanding is that one is not l'hathilah, supposed to encourage any action to be undertaken on Shabbat which is forbidden to Jews (thus, the text reads "But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God your Lord. Do not do anything that constitutes work. You, your son, your daughter, your slave, your maid, your animal, and the foreigner in your gates.")

So given that any press people are either Jews or by exclusion non-jews (a foreigner in your gates), why would it be okay to encourage them to come and take pictures of any sort?

My synagogue (Kesher Israel, Washington DC) is no stranger to having press arrive, but we've never asked for them. In fact, we (and by "we" I mean our Rabbi) specifically asked all press people not to write, take pictures, or do any other melakha in the shul while they were covering Sen. Lieberman's run for the Vice Presidency.

Where is the justification for a leniency in this matter?

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


My question remains; who said they (Satmar) is obligated to worry if there are any jews in the press? They are speaking to the press as a group. If a jew decides to come, and decides to take a picture (because he wants to) Satmar cannot be blamed (and I'm talking strictly halachah) for it.

That is why I began my discussion with an example of Amirah L'Akum (which someone decided was irrelevant); to give an example of what halachah understands cause and effect to be.

As an aside David...

"by exclusion non-jews (a foreigner in your gates)"

I always understood that group to be Geirim (those that are by birth foreign but who chose to enter out covenant/gate, not those that went away from our gates). Perhaps I am mistaken.

3:28 PM  
Blogger and so it shall be... said...

I find it shocking that the chassidim who spend their entire lives enveloped in a state of psychotic paranoia over what others will think of them (chas v'shalom, you can't ruin the shidduch) act like beasts with absolute impunity as to what the rest of civilization thinks.

Chassidim, and Satmar in particular, have done enormous harm to the Shem Tov of Orthodox Jewry. They are a laughing stock and every bit as devoid of irony as the Arabs.

The only thing I can say in their defense is that when one is raised within an institutionalized culture of looking like you're from another planet, how could anyone Satmar Chassid possibly discern when the behavior transcends the typical day-to-day ridiculous to the completely insane.

4:08 PM  
Blogger David said...

Rabbinic sources split on the term "ger" because clearly they didn't mean that "we were converts in Egypt."

For some of the confusing use of the term "ger," take a look at both Exodus 2:22 where it clearly means "stranger" (i.e. a stranger in a strange land), and also at Exodus 12:49 where you could read it as "convert" pretty easily (given that the prior pasuk was about gentiles getting circumcised and eating the peshal offering - whether that means 'converting' is left for darshanim)

In any case, the verse from the aseret hadibrot includes slaves and animals - you could argue that it might be Jewish slaves, but the same argument can't be made for the animals - there is something intrinsic in the nature of Shabbat: it's Shabbat for the whole world, not just for Jews. (consider that the festivals are different in this regard, because there, it's mikadesh Yisrael v'hazmanim, but for Shabbat the brakha does not include us at all: we didn't partner with God to create Shabbat, as Shabbat was God's final creation).

So anyway, if there were not the inyan of not instructing non-jews to do melakhot on shabbat, we wouldn't have the whole series of laws about whether or not it's okay to ask a non jew to light the synagogue fire (which was necessary for survival, in Polish/Russian winters!), or the various other things - we wouldn't have the whole "hint around it" stuff which we have to do. But even the hinting is not always acceptable: that requires some community need or urgency to do, and press coverage for an event would hardly rise to that standard. Further, if you're just publicising the event, and arguing that "whatever gentiles do, they do" then why would it matter what type of cameras they brought? The inclusion of that sentance gives the taking of still pictures an implicit heter.

The marit ayin aspect of this is pretty appalling, in my opinion.

4:13 PM  
Blogger YMedad said...

Anyone remember 2001 this story about Satmar women and Polish shiksa housecleaners?

Of course they reach out to the non-Jewish world.

6:52 PM  
Blogger David said...

ymedad: please be informed that "shiksa" is not a generic term for non-Jewish woman. It derives from "sheketz" (abomination), and should be considered highly offensive (up there with the N-word).

8:39 AM  
Blogger YMedad said...

David, sorry, I'm over fifty and I learned it when I was a little boy from my grandmother who didn't want me to be friendly with the shiksa next door, which, as far as I can tell, was a generic term from the Yiddish meaning non-Jewish female. Most Jewish men felt nothing at all offensive about shiksas and many felt grateful. Maybe grandmothers and Rabbis used it offensively. Now, shaigetz is another matter all together and when I was a student of Chofetz Chaim in Forest Hills, most Jewish males were afraid of them and once, after getting into a fight with five, my Rav was very angry at me which was offensive to me and I ended up in Betar. I presume it's all a matter of cultural use of language and the year you were born in. But, to be sure, if there are any shiksas out there, I mean no offense, no harm and no disparagement. It is a neutral-value term and one much better sounding than "goyah".

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Satmar should keep one of the sons and ship the other off to Lubavitch...aren't they in need of a rebbe?

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting to see all the satmar-haters and Medads crawl our from under the rocks - to dance on a grave.

But remember, he who laughs last...

Satmar has a HUGe empire which will now grow even faster - having 2-3 new rebbes. New blood. New enthusiasm and competition - Kinas sofrim Tarbeh chochma.

Yes Lubavitch would do well with even one rebbe, but it won't happen. They will let the place disintegrate before they do that.

For someone who followed the satmar ascension last time around [79], I recall that the powers that be were not to excited about appointing the late rebbe's nephew, but then realised that the community will fall apart without a leader [just as Moshe Rabenu understood many yeqrs ago]
Time for Lubs to come to their senses and appoint a normal leader - It may still save them

11:50 AM  

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