The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Smart Money

The Five Towns Jewish Star has an editorial about the visit by a Chassidic Rebbe from Yerushalayim to the Five Towns that is scheduled for this week. This Rebbe is the head of a virulently anti-Zionist sect and many of its members were involved in the "parking lot riots" in Yerushalayim this summer.

The gist of the editorial is a question: Why are we welcoming and financially supporting a Rebbe (especially one whose views are inconsistent with the feelings of much of the neighborhood) when people can't pay their tuition or mortgages right here in the Five Towns.

Without even considering the issue of the Rebbe's views (which is not to say it isn't a legitimate question), and consistent with what I've been saying for months, I also question the wisdom of supporting mosdos from outside the neighborhood when our own institutions are suffering mightily.

(Please no comments about the Rebbe or his philosophy; it's not my point and I don't want to go there.)



  • At 11:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What constitutes your own neighborhood. If you live in Lawrence, should you limit your contributions to charities based in Lawrence. Can you extend your definition of neighborhood to the entire Five Towns. What about Long Beach and Far Rockaway. Should it be extended to Nassau County. What about the entire New york metropolitan area. My point is it becomes a slippery slope when you seek to limit charity to your own neighborhood.

    By the way, do you feel the same way about Lawrence residents contributing charity towards KBY, Shaalvim, Gush and other Israeli yeshivas where Torah study and army service are integrated. They certainly don't qualify as neighborhood charities.

  • At 2:22 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…


    It is not difficult to define what your community is. In my case, it's the Five Towns/Far Rockaway commuity. It's the schools, Hatzalah, Madraigos, Kulanu, the schools, my shul, etc.
    Expanding from there are the New York community charities like Ohel and Chai Lifeline which serve the greater Metro area.

    There is no slippery slope. Just seichel.

    And the answer to your second question is also easy. If KBY or Gush come to my neighborhood, I am not inclined to support them in the current economic environment (even though I may feel they are very worthy places). I have no direct shaichas to them. On the other hand, if Shaalvim or Michlalah come, I will support them because I have hakaras hatov because that's where my kids went to Yeshiva/Seminary.

  • At 2:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Baltimore actually has a grass-roots effort to keep most of the money in town which is supported by the local rabbonim.

  • At 2:48 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    The problem in the FT is that g'virim bring the Rebbes in and the Rabbanim are afraid to confront them.

  • At 4:08 PM, Blogger and so it shall be... said…

    "There is no slippery slope. Just seichel."

    Ha. Ha.

    This comment wins the "Rinse and Repeat" Award for patently obvious concepts that you'd think requires no explanation .... but does.

  • At 4:13 PM, Blogger ThePeoplesChamp said…

    Still Wondering, I agree

    "There is no slippery slope. Just seichel"

    Should be the Mantra of MoC. Classic line and 100% true.

    MoC- I agree 100% with you. What's your opinion on when your Rav sponsors or brings in outside people or asks for outside support (I mean this seriously, not as a wise guy).
    It is a slippery slope because some might claim (and rightfully so) that outside Mosdos or Places are vital to Jewish Heritage and Longevity (i.e. Chevron and Kever Rochel Funds, some might even say Chabad or other likewise org).

  • At 4:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hakaros Hatov or not, you've made an exception to your neighborhood charity limitation by agreeing that you'd give to certain Israeli institutions.

    Also, Five Towns/Far Rockaway is your definition of the community. Others may believe it needs to be more limited or somewhat extended.

  • At 5:28 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    Anonymous. Pleae re-read my response.

    You have imposed on me a "neighborhood limitation policy" and are trying to impose a narrow definition of "neighborhood"." I have no such policy and no such definition. Therefore, there is no such thing as an "exception" to my non-existent policy.

    My "policy" is to use my brains in allocating tzedakah (particularly in difficult economic times).

    Thus, I'm guided by certain principles. I try to give most of my tzeddakah to community organizations, starting with those that I have a particular connection to (my school, my shul, etc.) and branching out to the local mosdos that are essential (Hatzalah, Madraigos, Cahal, Kulanu, etc) as well as the Metro organizations that I believe are essential.

    I have no problem allocating a small portion of my tzedakah money to Israeli mosdos but, naturally, I support those with which I have a connection or a strong feeling (I am more likely to support Shaalvim, where both my boys went, and less likely to support a shaliach for a kollel in Bnei Brak that I never heard of, or, for that matter, a visiting Admor from Yerushalayim).

    What is so difficult to understand about that?


    I am not a fan of bringing outsiders into the shul for two reasons: First, you don't pinch hit for Babe Ruth and two, for the reasons stated above.

  • At 6:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think that the question of welcoming a Rebbe and financially contributing to a Rebbe’s Mosdos, must be addressed separately. There is an obligation of Hachnossos Orchim, and it applies whether you agree with the Haskafa of the guest or not. Obviously it is easier to fulfill the mitzvah if it is someone you know, admire, and agree with their Hashkafa. That’s not the way it works, however. The slippery slope that one should be weary of is “I don’t agree with this group’s view on ___(fill in the cause) so I don’t have to show any respect, common decency or mentschlichkeit. There should be a basic minimum level of respect and decency shown to anyone that visits our neighborhood. We always have the ability to show that we can put aside hashkafic differences. Unfortunately, it is easier to pick an issue and say “I DON’T have to be respectful, polite or even courteous because I disagree with the THEM!”
    The better path is to show that even though people dress and act differently and have different hashkafa and way of life, we can still be welcoming, Besever Panim Yafos. I find it ironic that in these weeks where we read parshios of Avraham Avinu, people choose to act in a way that is completely contrary to the middos that Avraham teaches us. If you don’t want to financially support the Mosdos of The Toldos Aron, Don’t! The Rebbe’s visit should not be a basis for ridicule, mockery and derision. Rather an opportunity to display the welcoming nature of the 5T’s.
    I am dismayed at the comments made by a prominent Rabbi of the 5T’s Community that criticized the Rebbe’s visit. It is with much respect for the position that this Rabbi holds that I remind everyone of the adage, if you have nothing good to say, Say Nothing! The Rebbe is not coming to Woodmere and I can understand why he would not want to visit Woodmere after hearing this Rabbis ‘welcoming’ comments about the visit. The quote from the Community Rabbi is “We shouldn’t be hosting rebbes at this particular moment in time.” Why Not? This Rabbi should be issuing a statement that recognizes the value of welcoming other Jews, (even ones that we may differ in hashkafa), in a manner that is consistent with the Torah principles that the community holds dear.
    The question of supporting our local institutions, Shuls, Schools, Mikvehs, Tomche Shabbos, Bikur Cholim, and others obviously comes first. However, I will defer to the local Rabbi to elaborate further on that issue. Nonetheless, I cannot help but question whether the local Rabbi has reminded his community that perhaps it is wiser at this time when “We have a lot of people who are out of work and can’t put food on the table.” not to make such lavish and extravagant weddings, bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs (dare I mention the other necessities of the latest model cars, home repair ( rebuilding), and winter vacations to name a few) and make a contribution in honor of the occasion to a local institution that is in financial need or benefit from the contribution?

  • At 7:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Anon 6:43 - I'm not sure this is about hachnasat orchim; the Rebbe is not coming to the 5T because he needs a place to sleep. Surely a gesture of hachnasat orchim would be extended readily if he did. He is coming to raise money.

  • At 7:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Can't bame a guy tor tryin!

  • At 9:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "I also question the wisdom of supporting mosdos from outside the neighborhood when our own institutions are suffering mightily"


    A classic lesson in hypocrisy 101.

  • At 9:17 AM, Blogger and so it shall be... said…

    Anonymous -- It's kind of ironic that you fixate on the need to accept others, regardless of their differences in dress and hashgafa. Your ire is misplaced, as the greater body of evidence for those lacking this middah points in the opposite direction.

    Zeroing in on your dismay about respecting differences in Hashgafa is specious, as it suggests that the general disgust with those who fuel rowdy protests that characteristically devolve into violence, vandalism, and random mayhem; hunting for and physically attacking women for violating arbitrary definitions of tzniyus, among other intimidation tactics, is an intolerance for a different hashgafa.

    Suggesting that any of these activities can be defined as an alternative Hashgafa, worthy of others' respect and acceptance, and not labeling vile behavior for what it is, indicates a serious deficiency either in your vocabulary, or comprehension of the basic principles of human decency, menthlichkeit, Yiras Shamayim, and Kavod HaTorah.

  • At 11:27 AM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    Anon 6:43

    I agree with Anon 7:19 that the issue is not really one of hachnasas orchim. The Rebbe is coming to raise money, he's not looking for a roof over his head or a good meal.

    In terms of the community Rabbi, that particular Rabbi probably knows more than anyone just how bad the local situation is in the community and, without question, raises and distributes more money than anyone. He has standing to offer an opinion.

    Anon 9:06

    I suggest you take some remedial reading comprehension lessons. If you don't yet understand the difference between an Admor from Yerushalayim to whom you have absolutely no connection and the Yeshivah where your two sons thrived for a total of four years, you probably never will.

    Why is it so hard to understand why, in these difficult economic times, I would be inclined to withhold funds from the former and give to the latter?

  • At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What don't you understand about the hypocrisy of taking a position that community charities come first and then justifying, for whatever reason, providing money to Shalavim when the Five Towns Hatzolah can't meet their bills?

  • At 12:15 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    Anon 11:52

    You have set up a straw man and are starting to annoy me.

    I have never said, nor do I believe, that you have to give ALL your money to local charities. Indeed, in previous posts and in the articles I've written for the FTJS on charitable giving, I've made it clear that, especially in these difficult times, one should allocate tzedakah in a thoughtful way with a preference for local charities. There is no hypocrisy in giving the overwhelming portion of your tzedakah money to local institutions and a much more modest amount to institutions outside the community with which you have a connection.

    I suspect that you do understand this (it really is quite simple) but are a just being a pest and trying to bust my chops because I refuse to give to the Toldos.

  • At 1:52 PM, Blogger and so it shall be... said…

    "... just being a pest"

    And they say you aren't charitable.

  • At 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Relax man, your proposal finds little support in the community, so pontificate as long as you want.

    Does "still wonderin" also get under everyone elses skin?

  • At 11:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My fav is when I get a call/visit from a yeshiva asking for money (local or not) who would not even give my children a second look for acceptance in their school (based on appearance). So you'll take my money just not my kids!

    As far as diffferent Rabaaim visiting the shul..remember you are a visitor.. you don't walk in (or better yet have your posse walk in) and think that the waters should part just because you are here. In my book you have to earn respect! If you are speaking to the Kehillah, find out what the normal speaking time is and don't go over. Trust me, what you have to say is NOT that interesting. Mo said it best...."you don't pinch hit for Babe Ruth."

  • At 11:18 AM, Blogger and so it shall be... said…

    I'm under stillwonderin's skin every single day.

    It's fairly pleasant, actually.

  • At 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So what was the outcome from the visit?

    Any idea how successful it was or wasn't?

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