Feb 12, 2008

askanim driving a Rav in RBS crazy to the point of resigning

Bet Shemesh insists on staying interesting and active. Here is the latest...

Rav Mordechai Goldstein is the Rav of the "Mishkenos Yaakov" neighborhood in RBS. I met him once and he seemed personable, and I am told he is a tremendous talmid chochom. He was brought in from Telshe Stone to be Rav of the Mishkenos Yaakov part of RBS.

Rav Goldstein has been one of the Rabbonim leading the fight for the appearance of the neighborhood. He spearheaded the battle in the Merkaz Mischari and he appointed (or maybe they were appointed with his approval) the committees who approach the businesses about tznius and hang signs, trying to get the Meuhedet Medical Clinic to operate as a mehadrin clinic (separate hours for men and women), fighting the building of the Ma'ar, involvement in children being accepted, or not, in schools, etc.

Rav Goldstein has been very vocal in the running of the area. So much so, that I have heard from a couple of people from Telshe Stone, and some from RBS who used to live in Telshe Stone, that they have a hard time believing this is the same man who used to live in Telshe Stone. They say that in Telshe Stone he was a "normal" Rav/Avreich. He was the voice of reason. he was a quiet guy not getting involved int he politics and extremism. They cannot believe that this, based on things he has said and issues he has pushed, is the same guy that used to be so "normal".

Rav Goldstein has had enough. It seems he cannot believe what he has gotten involved in either. He has threatened to resign his position as Rav of Mishkenos and move back to Telshe Stone. He does not want to be involved in all the politics that has been pushed on him.

Rav Goldstein called a meeting last week of the gabboim of the Litvishe shuls in his area. He told them that he has had enough and he does not want to be involved in that anymore. He moved to Bet Shemesh to be Rav and to have time to learn and he is not able to learn at all because all this other stuff is being pushed on him all the time. If they do not stop with all the peripheral issues and leave him in peace, he has threatened to resign and move back to Telshe Stone.

They met again this week. the set up a number of committees, each one would deal with different issues (of those listed above and others), freeing up Rav Goldstein from having to deal with them. In the case where a committee would have trouble forming an agreed upon opinion, they would go to the Rav for a decision on the issue.

Of the people I spoke to about this, some say this will be better because now there are normal people being involved in the issues, rather than just the extremists. Others think it will be worse because even though Rav Goldstein was running it, he was still not as bad as some of the extremists and they doubt whether the normal people on the committees will be able to withstand the extremists on the committees.

So the benefits remain to be seen and I do not know if Rav Goldstein removing himself from these issues will make the situation better or worse, but the future will definitely be interesting..

Oh yeah, as an aside, for the skeptics among you, this is another example where clearly the askanim are pushing the Rabbonim to do what they want. He has admitted so himself and has finally had enough of it.


  1. rafi - you kofer you - it can't be - you must have misunderstood r' goldsteins complaints! askanim running the show - what? you think it's like the treife america where lobbyists control the policies set? how dare you! that would mean you are insinuating it isn't about tznius or halacha, but control and power -how dare you? it has to be all lshem shamayim!

    oy rafi.....

  2. Rafi,

    Excellent and important post. I know Rav Goldstein from issues other than local politics and find him to be a reasonable and compassionate man. He is in fact a great talmid chochum and easy to speak with.

    Your point of askanim running the show is so pointed that it hurts. I want to bring a timely topic as a case in point.

    Complaints have been heard for a long time about the false rumors regarding Lema'an Achai. You have posts going back to last March that deal with this issue. It seems that it finally came to a head with Rabbi Solevechik's drasha.

    Now my point.

    The Rabbonim of this community know the amazing work of Lema'an Achai and its staff and volunteers. They are aware of the countless people whom they help.

    But did ONE and I mean one Rav in this community come out in public praise of Lema'an Achai and Rabbi Solevechik?

    The silence of the Rabbonim leads one to think that someone is forcing their silence.

    Is it a coincidence that Rabbis Kornfeld, Malinowitz and Davidowitz are involved in a school with Rav Eidensohn and also refused to speak about the Lema'an Achai issue?

    Why is that certain shuls don't sport Lema'an Achai advertising (but do have posters and pirsumim from tons of other tzedakos)?

    One word from certain Rabbonim would have laid this Lema'an Achai/Kupa issue to rest long ago.

    Who is silencing the voice of our Rabbinic leaders?

    Thank you Rafi for once again being a voice for the questions we all wish answered.

  3. to Rafi (seems funny writing that, but that is how you identified yourself) - the issue with Lmaan Achai was not really a publicly debated issue.
    I asked Lmaan Achai what recent even caused the recent eruption of the issues that prompted Rav Soloveitchik to speak out. I was told there was nothing specific that happened now. It was just a lot of buildup of a lot of (even little) issues over a long period of time. it finally came to a head, Rav Soloveitchik had enough and decided to speak out.

    Aside from the debate on this blog, and one or two emails sent to the local email list, it was not an issue in the public forum. And no disrespect to all those who participated in the discussion on this blog, but my blog is far from being a place that makes the news. IOW, just because I wrote about it, and a debate raged int he comments section, does not mean that most of the neighborhood who did not see my postings and the ongoing debates, had any knowledge of what was going on beneath their radar.
    It was not an issue they were aware of.

    I will not speak for any of the Rabbonim, nor for any of the specific ones you mentioned, but Rav malinowitz has publicly supported Lmaan Achai many times. Signs get hung up in beis Tefilla for both Kupa and Lmaan Achai. Before holidays, plates are on the bima for both organizations. So your statement is a little unfair.

  4. The worst part of the Kishon politics is that they are talking about making a committee to decide who gets into schools. That's right -- the mechanchim aren't making the decisions but two people. One of them is the infamous Eli Tomback, who spends his days harrasing store owners and telling women to dress differently in the shopping center. The other is a great guy, an American, but he is a push over and will not have the guts to stand up to Tomback.

  5. "Rav Goldstein has been one of the Rabbonim leading the fight for the appearance of the neighborhood. He spearheaded the battle in the Merkaz Mischari and he appointed (or maybe they were appointed with his approval) the committees who approach the businesses about tznius and hang signs,..."

    Are we really supposed to feel sorry for this guy? I know a couple of people who own or have owned businesses in the Mercaz. The "approach" used was one of threat and extortion.

    RBS A is a mixed community. This yet another case of fanatic Chareidim "peeing" on their turf and making life stink for those around them.

    If this Rabbi, who you claim is a so "normal", has "spearheaded" this nonsense, then G-d help us all!

  6. Here's another example, that just blew me away today.

    As you drive into Jerusalem from the main highway there's building up toward the left that has a huge ad down the side. For a while it was an El Al ad, then Bezeq, and now an ad for one of the banks showing a group of working-class people. Nothing really offensive.

    Well apparently, someone took offense. Somehow, some nut-case managed to splash paint over two of the women in the ad and affix one of those lovely lime-green Tznius posters. Mind you this is about 10 stories above the street.

    I guess it would be really nasty of me to say that's a shame he didn't fall...

  7. oy moshe. if only you had your information correct...

    i will point out 2 things which show how little you know about a) what happened in mishkenos the past few weeks (and months and years) and b) schools in this country.

    in reverse order - mechanchim very rarely decide who is in which school. it is a hotly debated political and "frum" issue, with each school having a vaad hakabbalah often made up of parents of kids in the schools. you dont need a mechanech to decide if a kid is fit to get into NURSERY or FIRST grade. its a vaad, which has very little to do with chinuch. rather it has to do with which families fit the billing of the school.
    i bet your school has one too. ask around

    now onto this weeks agenda, the 2 guys mentioned are not in charge of accepting people. rather, when a school doesnt accept a student, these 2 will be coming on behalf of the rov to try to assist getting this kid into school.

    this is just one issue where the rov has appointed shlichim to deal with the politics. they all revert back to him for decisions, these chevra just carry out his wishes and act as middle men to free him to do rabbinic duties like learn and pasken.

    makes sense to me... keep the rabbi inthe beis medrash and the politicians in the street.

    but seriously, get your facts straight

  8. Anoynmous--

    I know very well what goes on in the neighborhood. Tomback is one of the most hated people there. For one thing, he has terrorized anyone who dare criticize him by having their kids kicked out of school.

    It is a very bad idea to give him this position.

  9. dont know where you get your facts from. i dont think that too many people got kicked out of any schools - especially bc of tombeck - if ANY at all.

  10. Rafi,

    Long time reader first time poster here. I have to challenge you on the Lema'an Achai issue on which you responded to "to rafi".

    1) The debate of LA vs Kupa has gone way beyond this forum. It has been in the streets,homes and shuls for a while. Giving people want to know where their tzedaka goes.

    2)As a member of Beis Tfilla I get the feeling that our Rav leans heavily toward Kupa. While you are correct that LA signs were put up in the shul and he has mentioned it in the past I do feel that he is leaning more towards Kupa these days. Perhaps it's because Ari Stern is his "right hand" or his connection to the new cheder with Eidensohn, I don't know for sure.

    If you have any question just compare the letter now hanging in the shul from him for Lema'an Achai to the letter he wrote for Kupa. The difference speaks volumes.
    And yes, he did have to write a letter for Lema'an Achai because it is an organization that helps hundreds of RBS people and our kehilla wouldn't sit well with him not writing. But just read the letters.

    I am bothered by the major difference in tones. Rabbonim who consider themselves a Rav for the whole kehilla should be more careful with their words for community wide issues.

  11. average Jew - Beis Tefillah has almost always been a home more to the Kupa than Lmaan Achai, even if Lmaan achai was more palatable to the membership. They used to never hang Lmaan Achai signs in beis Tefilla. I always assumed it was because it was considered home turf for Kupa because of Ari Stern. A few years ago that changed and Lmaan Achai was given equal footing in beis Tefilla.

    Sure, equal is never exactly equal. But LMaan Achai hangs signs there, Rav Malinowitz has spoken on their behalf, etc. Is it exactly equal? I do not know, but it still is Kupa turf (because of Ari?), even if the membership prefers LA (which I always felt is the case).

    The strife between LA and Kupa has been on the street for a long time. But that does not mean the most recent outburst has become widely known. The question was why nobody spoke out on behalf of Rav Soloveitchik and I think the reason is that people are not aware of the recent outburst, unless they have been reading here or were present in Ohr Shalom when Rav Soloveitchik gave his drasha...

    About the hanging signs, I have no idea. I will take a look next time I am in Beis Tefilla. I rarely read the board of signs, but I will look for it this week..

  12. if Rabbi Malinoitz's support for Kuppa is more blatant then for LA then maybe he knows something we don't or he feels that it is a better organization. what would be wrong with that?
    the rabbanim usually KNOW more of what is going on than the people who THINK they know everything. (because they heard from this guy or that guy with a few assumptions thrown in in the middle)
    the same way Rav Malinowitz is trusted to make a decision between mutar and asur so is he entitled to decide that he favors one kupa more than the other

  13. anon - I do not think it is ore blatant. I think it is fairly even. The shul tres very hard, as far as I can tell, to be even and fair between Lmaan Achai and Kupa. Whenever one is mentioned, they make sure to mention the other equally. Even when Rav Malinowitz spoke reminding everyone about going to the Melave Malka last week, he was careful to word what he said in a way that he mentioned, not by name because he was talking about the kupa, that there are other wonderful organizations also (I do not remember the exact wording he used, but it was clear he was saying we have a number of very good organizations to support and kupa is having a melave malka).

    If there is a favoring of the Kupa, which I do not think there is, but the average Jew (commenter above) does, it is more subconscious, I think.

  14. anon-

    You are quite incorrect. Lema'an Achai is a wonderful organization that helps hundreds of RBS residents.
    If any Rav (or any person for that matter) causes some not to support he will hurt the organization thus hurting those who get assistance.

    A Rav must be very careful when dealing with community organizations. I'm not commenting on Rav Malinowitz because I don't know him. All Rabbonim should be careful what they say in public. In private let him say what he wishes.

    From your words we can deduce which organization you feel is better. That's fine for you...just don't ever give that opinion from a pulpit. You wouldn't want to be credited for needy people not receiving proper help.

    Do you really think that we're all so different in the Eyes of the Ribono Shel Olam?

    Both the people of Lema'an Achai and Kupa (and all other organizations) deserve our support for they are "oskim B'Tzarchei Tzibbur B'emunah".

  15. don't let the door hit you on your way out.


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