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May 14, 2010

Mikveh Situation Summary and Thoughts on Our Lives in General Here in Bet Shemesh

A Guest Post by Catriel Lev

Shalom to All,

I am a very caring and honest private citizen living in Ramat Bet Shemesh Alef, who is concerned for the welfare of our community, and who has been involved in several initiatives to prevent friction between communities in our city and to help the law-abiding citizens have their needs met. Of course, I realize that no one has to accept that statement just because I make it, but it is true nonetheless, and can be verified by many people in the neighborhood who know me. Of course, many others who are working for the welfare of our community have done more than I have, and I claim no special place above anyone else working sincerely for the welfare of the community.

It is as a very caring and honest private citizen concerned for the welfare of our community that I present this to you. I do not have any official position, and certainly no political office; I simply stand upon my integrity, and demand integrity from all of the leaders of communities in our city (as well as from all people everywhere).

Though I detest the "labeling" which often occurs in our community, and I simply define myself as a Torah-observant Jew, I feel it proper to make it clear that I am considered a member of the Dati-Leumi community. Though I don't feel comfortable with people assuming that I will always have the views that are assumed to be the views of that community, I certainly feel comfortable with the religious practices of that community, since I feel that they provide the most religious way to observe Judaism, since they include observance of ALL of the Mitzvot including those involved in thanking Hashem for his miracles performed for us in recent generations which lead to the religious observance of a Chag DeRabbanan (as they did in the case of Channukah etc.), which, according to all that I have learned from my Rabbeim, is Hashem's will. I can certainly understand people who do not feel comfortable with the idea that the Halachah requires us to observe such a Chag commemorating such great miracles, and how they reach their conclusions; but I expect them to understand that my acceptance, according to all that I have learned from my Rabbeim, that the Halachah requires such an observance, leads me to imbue great spirituality into my life, and makes me as "Frum" as I could possibly be.

It is interesting to note that according to the definitions of Chareidi, based upon the Pasuk (verse) in Yeshayahu (Isaiah) which mentions the word "HaChareidim", presented recently in an article by a Chareidi Rabbi of a local synagogue in a local Chareidi magazine's English section, I am Chareidi! In any case, as I mentioned, I prefer to define myself simply as a Torah-observant Jew.

The major topic of this "article" or "report" is the Mikveh situation and the recent Mikveh controversy in RBS-Alef. Now, at least, we have heard that a new agreement has been worked out, which sounds well suited to the needs of the public; and let us all hope that this can be the beginning of a long period of peace and tranquility with regard to Mikvaot in Bet Shemesh. I wish to relate to the Mikveh situation more in the vein of using this recent controversy as a means to help us understand how to reduce friction in our neighborhood in other situations, even if they do not involve Mikvaot.

The Mikveh topic is a very serious topic, and has the potential for great Chillul HaShem, just as it has the potential for great Kiddush HaShem; so I approach it with the awareness that we must deal with it a very responsible manner. I have invested great effort in working to realize the potential for Kiddush HaShem and avoid Chillul HaShem. It is with this as my "guiding light" that I approach the public with my "composition" which will attempt to bring out important points from the recent Mikveh controversy and relate them to how we can improve our lives in general here in Bet Shemesh (and I believe that the lessons learned also apply to life all over Israel).

I have also invested great efforts in clarifying this situation (along with many other situations in our fair city over the years), and in finding out the actual facts (Emet LaAmito), while being Dan et Kulam LeKaf Zechut (judging everyone favorably), though without altering the facts to do so. This means that I have truly exerted myself to "understand where everyone is coming from," though without excusing any reprehensible behavior that has become apparent through my efforts to find the truth.

I, therefore, request that everybody, no matter what their previous views, and no matter what their "religious affiliation", read ALL of what I am presenting with a clear head and an open mind. It also really needs to be read in its entirety for the complete picture which I am trying to portray to become clear. I believe that this "report" has much to contribute to the harmonious coexistence of the communities which compose a beautiful mosaic in our fair city of Bet Shemesh.

I have amassed quite a bit of information about the Mikveh issue, as well as other issues concerning the communities in our fair city, including much that I have gathered through my personal investigations, as well as much that has been passed on to me by absolutely reliable sources (whose identities I cannot divulge). These absolutely reliable sources have proven their integrity over and over again in the many years in which I have been involved in these matters, such that I can be absolutely certain that the information I have is correct. Since those of you reading this cannot be certain of who those absolutely reliable sources are, I can understand that some people may be somewhat skeptical of some things which I report; the reassurance that I can give publicly is that those of you who know me know that I would not believe any information to be true without very careful consideration of the matter in order to be absolutely certain that I have received the truth (and not just what someone may think to be the truth), and that I do not accept rumors and the like.

I have a deep concern for presenting Mitzvot to the people in a most pleasant way so as to encourage them to perform the Mitzvot, and this has also motivated me to publicize this "report"; and I am also working on acquainting the English-speaking public in Bet Shemesh with many issues for which much of the material is only available in Hebrew.

I must also emphasize that, though I have great respect for the many people working on Mikveh quality and other important topics in our city; this is MY report on these issues, and therefore, it should be clear to all that I take full responsibility for what I report here, and that no one other than myself is responsible for what I present here to the public.

Unfortunately, one of the problems in dealing with the Mikveh issue, as well as many other issues, is that it has clearly been demonstrated that several leaders have not displayed integrity on this and other issues confronting our community, and this grieves me greatly. I do NOT mention this lightly, and I am not venting anger at these people by saying this (since I actually only feel disappointment in the behavior of these people, and how much it interferes with dealing with these issues in a constructive manner, rather than anger); and, of course, I hope that those leaders will mend their ways and perform complete Teshuvah, but that is beyond my control. As has been mentioned from time to time, it is not proper to name the names of evildoers in discussions on blogs; so I will not mention such names. In any case, it is not for me to discredit them; their own lack of integrity will discredit them and, at least to a certain extent, has already done so.

There is quite a bit of necessary background material for the understanding of the recent Mikveh controversy, and I will attempt to provide it (or at least enough of it for people to see the "big picture") in the following paragraphs.

There are many communities both in RBS and in Bet Shemesh in general. Though they should be able to coexist peacefully with mutual respect, this does not always occurs; and it fails to occur frequently enough that Bet Shemesh has acquired a reputation as a "trouble spot" where "religious violence and intimidation" occur.

It is quite clear to me that the vast majority of us, no matter what our "religious affiliation" do not support religious violence and intimidation, and are very upset that our city has acquired such a reputation. This being so, it behooves us all to do the best we can to change this reputation; especially since I hope that we all know (I certainly do) that Bet Shemesh is a WONDERFUL place to live. It has so much to offer in so many ways that it is simply a place to settle down in and to enjoy!

However, as most of us realize, there is a group of extremists, whose statements show that they consider themselves the flagship of Chareidi society, and who are extreme far beyond normative Chareidi society, and who number, in RBS-Alef, something in the vicinity of 20 families. Apparently because of their non-normative outlook, their actions generally are such as indicate that this group is not concerned with making Mitzvot appealing to as many Jews as possible, but is almost exclusively focused upon how to keep all outside influences (including many very spiritual religious people, both Chareidi and non-Chareidi) away from their communities, to avoid what they appear to consider "pollution" of their "uniquely pure" community of "the only Jews still practicing pure Judaism as it should be practiced" in this area.

It behooves us all to be VERY CAREFUL to recognize that this group, though they may do things that we do not approve of, are also Hashem's creatures, and that we should do our best to allow them to exercise their lawful right to practice Judaism however they see fit, even though many of us see their non-normative outlook as an indication that they are a kind of "Reform Jew" (as stated, by, among others, a big Talmid Chacham whom I have met, and who wears a BLACK Kippah, though most of us would probably not consider him a Chareidi Jew), since they are portraying Halachah as something that it absolutely is not, no matter whether they claim to be from the Chareidi community or some other community.

I want to emphasize VERY STRONGLY both points in the above paragraph: We must all accept these people as having a right to practice as they wish for they are also Hashem's creatures; but, many of the most religious of us in Bet Shemesh consider them to be a kind of "Reform Jew". It shouldn't matter how they define themselves; each of us should be strong enough in his/her Judaism to know what is normative Judaism and what isn't. However, no matter how any of us feel about other Jews in Bet Shemesh, we all have a responsibility to respect each other and to recognize each other as Hashem's creatures.

No other community in our fair city actually wants to prevent the extremists from exercising their lawful right to practice Judaism however they see fit; and this is something that I have checked out carefully and found to be true. Though there may be some individuals who are bigots, and hate Dati-Leumi people just because they are Dati-Leumi, or hate Chareidi people just because they are Chareidi, or hate Chiloni people just because they are Chiloni; there is NO community whose position is that we should hate other Jews because of their "religious affiliation"; and there is no community whose position is that Chareidim of any kind should be influenced to change their religious practices. This clarity of message should be transmitted to leaders of extremist groups, like the people mentioned above who consider themselves the flagship of Chareidi society, because that fear, which they seem to exhibit in almost everything they do, is not founded in fact; and if this group can come to realize that, it should remove one major cause of friction in our city.

I hope that community leaders, especially in the Chareidi community, since there is more chance that the message will be accepted by the extremists from Chareidi leaders, will transmit this message very clearly to the extremists, and this could greatly help ease the friction in our community. I think that this is a very important point, and I reiterate that community leaders, especially in the Chareidi community, should continually reassure the extremists and their leaders that no other community in our fair city actually wants to prevent the extremists from exercising their lawful right to practice Judaism however they see fit.

Because of their focus, the extremist leaders often make statements and perform actions which indicate that they feel that they must control much (or all) of what takes place in the neighborhood to keep it from "polluting" their "uniquely pure" Jews. However, it turns out that even in their closed communities a number of community members do NOT want to observe all of the strictures that the extremist leaders desire that their communities observe. The extremist leaders must be brought to realize that this is solely their concern; and that if they feel that all members of their communities must observe all of the strictures that the extremist leaders desire that they observe, those leaders must show their own people how these strictures make their lives more spiritual, rather than trying to control what happens around them including things that relate to other people not from their communities.

As I have often done in the past, I make a plea here to all leaders to be decent, honest human beings, not using the "my side is right anyway" excuse to lie and cheat in order to "beat the other side". I also reiterate my plea to Chareidi leaders who do not want other people imposed upon by a smothering atmosphere produced by a few extremists to take a clear stand, and especially to convey to the extremists that they are the ones whose actions actually may be called "Chareidi-bashing" when they cause grief to non-Chareidim and claim to be speaking in the name of the entire Chareidi community. There are Chareidi leaders who speak out with courage on these issues. Rav Yakov Horowitz of Monsey, NY, comes to mind almost immediately, and his article "They Do Not Represent Us", which is found on the internet at: http://www.rabbihorowitz.com/PYes/ArticleDetails.cfm?Book_ID=904&ThisGroup_ID=262&Type=Article is a masterpiece in this regard.

I understand why some Chareidi leaders feel that they cannot speak out publicly on these issues, but I urge them to privately, at least, convey to the extremists and their leaders their disgust at the Chillul Hashem they are causing (however you wish to phrase it to get the attention of the extremists), and not to let them off the hook with the excuse that "they are just being very much more Machmir than everyone else, even if it is misguided".

As far as Mikvaot go, it has already been expressed a few times on blogs and Email lists that it is very perturbing that in almost the entire Jewish world, all women, no matter what their "religious affiliation", can use the same Mikveh, with respect for all customs, without the need for "separate Mikvehs for separate communities"; but that it does not appear to be possible to do this in the beautiful community of RBS-Alef! As far as respecting all customs, I mean that each woman should be able to use the Mikveh according to her custom with no interference from anyone else, and with the Balanit (Mikveh lady) being there only to render any assistance which the woman using the Mikveh requests (as well as offering any suggestions she wishes to suggest because she feels that they might improve the woman's Mikveh experience, while making it clear that the woman is absolutely not required to do what the Mikveh lady suggests), and with the woman using the Mikveh contacting her Rav, WHOEVER he is, if she feels the need for Rabbinical consultation, and always being allowed to dip in the Mikveh once she has completed the preparations which she knows she needs according to her custom. It should make no difference which community the Mikveh is part of, it should be respecting all customs.

Unfortunately, this has clearly not always occurred in Mikvaot in RBS-Alef! That there has been improper behavior in this respect is a clearly proven fact (including pictures), even if there are questions as to why that improper behavior was performed. Irrespective of the political issues and the political agreements which were supposedly obtained by the use of illegitimate coercion, the investigation of that improper behavior at a Mikveh, in order to ensure that it NEVER occurs again, should be the first priority of every observant Jew in our neighborhood, and especially of Rabbis who are supposed to run Mikvaot!

As a public service in this regard I must emphasize that anyone who knows women who experienced mistreatment at the Mikveh (even if they were only "threatened" that they will not be allowed in the Mikveh pool unless they perform an injurious process or behave in contradiction to the Psak that they have received), should please encourage them to file a formal complaint. It is understandable that women, who have gone through an experience as traumatic as some of these experiences have been, might not want to dredge up the unpleasant memories by going through the formal complaint process; but the many oral complaints received so far do not result in any action being taken to correct the situation, so it is for the public good that women are being requested to file formal complaints if they have endured mistreatment of any kind at the Mikveh (and this is true of any Mikveh anywhere in Israel). Only formal complaints can help correct the situation, and, judging by the number of oral complaints received ever since this scandalous behavior was made public (and even before it was made public), the number of formal complaints so far, is clearly only the tip of the iceberg. The more women who formally file their sincere complaints about unjustifiable behavior toward them, the more chance there is of ensuring that nothing like this will be allowed to occur in the future.

Complaints may be filed with Rav David Spector of the local Rabbinate. His phone numbers are: 052-385-9105, and 999-4987; and he meets with people at his home on Reuven Street in the Scheinfeld neighborhood at certain hours by appointment. He also has an office at the Rabbinate building downtown on Abba Naamat Street, and appointments with him at his office at the Rabbinate building can be made through the Rabbinate phone numbers: 991-1361, 991-2867. Rav Spector's Email address is: spektor@neto.net.il (This information is also available in the Shemeshphone on page 25e of the blue pages in English). There is also a way to file a complaint with the national office of the Religious Affairs Ministry, but I do not have the details, and I assume that filing a complaint with Rav Spector is easier for people in Bet Shemesh. I also assume that a complaint filed with Rav Spector gets handled more quickly since he is "on the spot" and knows the situation.

It should be clear to us all that if any person responsible for a Mikveh has allowed such misbehavior or mistreatment of women to occur "on his/her watch" at a Mikveh (even if he did not encourage it, but only allowed it and/or tried to cover up the fact of its occurrence), that person should be disbarred from having responsibility for any Mikveh, since that person has proven his total lack of fitness for such a position. Though Teshuvah is always possible, there is probably NO way that women could ever feel safe in using a Mikveh run by such a person.

In the case of Mikvaot, the outlook exhibited by the extremists very likely means that they will view every Mikveh in RBS-Alef which is not under their control as potentially luring their "uniquely pure" Jews into practicing something less than "pure Judaism". Quite a few Chareidi women, including some from the extremists' camp, have used the non-Chareidi side of the Mikveh on Dolev from time-to-time (some have quietly explained to non-Chareidi women that they use the non-Chareidi side only when they think that they can escape being noticed while doing so), and the extremist leaders have also exhibited behavior indicating that they want to control everything about Mikvaot (more on that below), which would give "their" women no options other than to use Mikveh services provided according to the most extreme Chumrahs. Once again, I remind leaders, especially Chareidi leaders, to try to relieve these fears which the extremist leaders have expressed time and again.

The extremists originally expressed a desire to build a private Mikveh on Nachal Luz and were allotted land for this by the previous Mayor. However, though that Mikveh was supposed to be completed by the summer of 2010, it has never even been started. The economic troubles in the world clearly prevented much funding for building that Mikveh, and thus contributed to that Mikveh not being built. However, now the extremists have requested that the land which was originally allocated for the Mikveh on Luz be used instead for a Chareidi school.

Since a Chareidi Mayor was elected in Bet Shemesh a year and a half ago, the extremists pushed to coerce the leaders in charge of Mikvaot in our city to consent to an agreement which would transfer control of half of the public Mikvaot in RBS-Alef to the extremists (though those Mikvaot would still be officially under the auspices of the existing Mikveh leadership structure, including Rav Spector, only the extremist Rabbis would have any say in what goes on within them). There are indications that the way the consent for such an agreement was obtained provides a strong claim against the validity of such an agreement.

It must be noted that Rav Spector has always been willing to work even with extremist elements to ensure that all sides feel comfortable with Mikvaot, as is the case with a public Mikveh in RBS-Bet; but in RBS-Alef the extremists want to exclude Rav Spector altogether, which would prevent most non-extremist women from feeling comfortable in the Mikveh in most cases.

The aforementioned agreement was never ratified by the local Religious Council (called "Moatzah Datit" in Hebrew), and the previous head of the Religious Council says that he did not bring the agreement to ratification because he could see that the situation which would be created by such an agreement would be unfeasible. This most likely means that he saw that the extremists were doing, and have continued to do, things that prevent the majority of women from feeling comfortable in a Mikveh, such as not allowing women to follow the Psak of their own Rabbis, including preventing Sefardi women from dipping in the Mikveh on Friday Ben HaShemashot as is their custom, and even having a sign posted at the Mikveh stating that no woman, regardless of ethnic community [Eidah], could dip Ben HaShemashot. Now we have heard that a new agreement has been worked out, which sounds better suited to the needs of the public; and let us all hope that this can be the beginning of a long period of peace and tranquility with regard to Mikvaot in Bet Shemesh.

As far as the Mikvaot in RBS-Alef go, recently the Mikveh on Nachal Lachish was scheduled to undergo renovations, so that the only public Mikveh in use in RBS-Alef has been the one on Nachal Dolev; therefore, that one was "split up" creating a "Chareidi side" controlled by the extremists and a "non-Chareidi side" which remained under Rav Spector's control, and quite a few women were mistreated by Balaniot (Mikveh ladies) on the "Chareidi side" of the Mikveh as has been mentioned above.

The extremist Rabbis began by claiming that none of the mistreatment and improper behavior occurred, and have given the impression of being adamant in that disbelief despite the many clear-cut cases of mistreatment that have been passed on to the women gathering information about this (some of which were reported to Chareidi Rabbis as well), and despite the sign not allowing the practice of the Sefardi custom (which is certainly improper behavior) which was indeed in place at the Mikveh until it was taken down a while ago. I know that one Chareidi Rabbi, despite being given very clear information that a Rav in the neighborhood had received a report of specific mistreatment, without investigating that report simply stated that he did not believe that any mistreatment had occurred, indicating an attitude of "Don't confuse me with the facts, I have already set my opinion". The repeated accusations of "Charedi-bashing" used against people who simply wanted to stop the mistreatment, also do not indicate a sincere desire to correct misconduct; they seem to indicate that certain leaders feel that avoiding the report of any misconduct by any part of the Chareidi community is more important than honesty and integrity in dealing with abuses of power and mistreatment. I believe that it is clear to all decent people that we must hope that the mistreatment of women at the Mikveh will never recur, and that the extremists' lack of respect for Psak Halachah (other than their own) will cease.

As far as Mikveh use, the vast majority (at least two-thirds) of women using the Mikveh use the "non-Chareidi side", and, as mentioned above, some of the women who use the "Chareidi side" state that they would use the "non-Chareidi side" if they thought that they would not be seen doing so. This makes it clear that the argument that "since at least half of the neighborhood is Chareidi" [which may also not be true numerically] then "at least half of the neighborhood Mikvaot should be run by Chareidi rabbis" does not hold water (to use an appropriate metaphor). First of all, even if half of the neighborhood truly is Chareidi, not all Chareidi women want all of the extreme Chumrahs demanded by the group of Rabbis demanding control of Mikvaot. Additionally, the group of Rabbis demanding control of Mikvaot are not normative Chareidi Rabbis, but extremists whose views generally fall far outside of the norms for Chareidi society.

The extremists have also performed some actions which indicate that they want control of all Mikvaot in the neighborhood, such as entering and inspecting a Mikveh over which they were not supposed to have any control. Their request that the land which was originally allocated for the Mikveh on Luz be used instead for a Chareidi school seems to indicate this too.

For the entire period that this situation was developing, the Rabbis of the Action Committee for Integrity in Providing for Religious Services were refused admittance to the Mayor to discuss the situation with him, though he did meet with extremist Rabbis, claiming that he wants to meet only with a single representative of each side. After many weeks, he finally agreed to meet with the Rabbis of the Action Committee for Integrity in Providing for Religious Services, and met with them on Tuesday, 4/5/10, though he was disrespectful to them and not sympathetic to their concerns.

At present, members of the Action Committee for Integrity in Providing for Religious Services continue to work to ensure that all women can feel comfortable in the Mikvaot in RBS-Alef and that no woman is coerced into things which are against her custom or Psak, or is coerced into having something done to her body which she does not approve of, or is refused the use of the Mikveh because of these things.

It certainly appears to me that we should be working to ensure that the atmosphere in our Mikvaot does not drive away women who come to dip in them, since, aside from the evil in the mistreatment of women, some of the women may be women who are not formally religious and may simply cease Mikveh use based upon bad experiences at a Mikveh. My Rosh Kollel from years ago, Rav Moshe Ben-Abu used to emphasize to us that he always tried to ensure that women who help others with the preparation for their dipping in the Mikveh (whether formally Balaniot or not) would not in any way force Chumrahs upon those who came to dip, and would always allow women to dip according to the most lenient views; since anyone who wishes to perform Chumrahs can always do so (and can even ask the Mikveh staff to help them in this), but someone who has come to the Mikveh but is not very committed to that Mitzvah may be driven away from practicing the Mitzvah by being required to perform actions that are beyond the minimal requirements. So you get the "best of both worlds" by never coercing a woman to go beyond the very minimal requirements (according to the most lenient views).


In my opinion, some of the major lessons to be learned from the Mikveh controversy and the general atmosphere in RBS are:

1. Let us put our true concerns out in the open. If the different sides to an argument will state explicitly what bothers them and what they want, we should be able to work out a respectful compromise in accordance with the legal requirements of the issue being discussed. It is only by stating the true concerns explicitly that the true issues are discussed. There have been many situations in our city where I have seen clear indications that the true issues were not being discussed because one of the sides had thrown up a "smokescreen" of "religious" claims which served to divert the discussion into a path that served someone's purposes but that was not in the public interest.

If the extremists are indeed very concerned about the purity of their camp, as many of their statements and actions indicate, they should be much more active in educating people in their camp to stay away from things which the rest of us (Chareidi as well as non-Chareidi) do not find to be temptations. They certainly should not be trying to impose upon the entire neighborhood practices which many of us find to be Reform Judaism type practices; no one should be directed to practices that are Reform in nature (unless they wish to be Reform Jews, who, of course, were also made in the Tselem Elokim and must be respected as human beings, but about whom I will not diverge to comment here, since the topic here is vastly different), and everyone should be able to achieve full spiritual fulfillment.

The true concern of many non-Chareidi and Chareidi people in our neighborhood has been expressed several times: that the extremists are creating an atmosphere which stifles spiritual growth, and certainly invalidates anyone else's approach to Halachah other then their own. Some of the statements used by extremist leaders during the Mikveh controversy clearly indicate an attitude of invalidating everyone else's approach to Halachah, even though their approach is looked upon as being Reform in the eyes of many other Kosher Jews. So if this is the case, can those other Jews now claim that they have to control how the extremists practice Judaism in order not to have any Judaism around which is not "up to the highest standards" and which may pollute the environment for those other Jews?

Let us all relate to our neighborhood (and our city) as a place where we TRULY want everyone to be comfortable. If we all put our concerns out "on the table" without subterfuge, I see no reason why we cannot achieve an atmosphere in our neighborhood that is pleasant for each of us. This will require each of us to be honest with himself about what is truly necessary for a pleasant atmosphere, and also to be honest about respecting everyone else's legal right to fulfill Halachah as he sees fit (even if I see his practices as Reform or Avodah Zarah or any of the other expressions which I have seen and heard here in Bet Shemesh over the years); but I believe that, with true good will this is possible, and I hope that I am not naïve in my hopes of achieving true good will from all sides.

2. Let us truly respect one another. If the different sides will be willing to understand that, though each of them may consider his Derech in Halachah to be the very best way (and perhaps the absolutely required way), each other side also has the right to practice as it sees fit, then they should be able to muster the minimal mutual respect necessary to work out the respectful compromises necessary in this neighborhood.

3. Let us make public integrity and basic honesty the norm and demand it from all of our leaders. No one really benefits if one side "wins" an argument or a political battle by perverting the truth. The "cheated" side just smolders in anger waiting for a chance to "get even", and in any case the lies come out in the end, and simply discredit the duplicitous leader even more. Moreover, the true problems then "come back to haunt us" later because they were covered up by lies! No leader is expected to be perfect, but lying to cover up one's failings should not be accepted from any leader, or any person at all for that matter. We should remember that one of David HaMelech's great virtues was that he apologized and performed Teshuvah for his sins and did not hide them.

4. Let us not produce excuses for violating the law or practicing violence or intimidation of any kind. If one side uses such excuses to excuse their "hotheads", the other side will also do so; and a vicious cycle of spiraling violence and threats could result. Every community should behave in a truly responsible manner, clearly condemning the "hotheads" from their community who act in a reprehensible manner (as does Rav Yakov Horowitz in the article I mentioned above), and doing its best to prevent the "hotheads" from actually acting based upon any destructive plans they come up with. "Pashkevilim" of all types should be written without the poisonous language that has infested most "Pashkevilim" for decades. Even though I never saw the "Pashkevilim" which were publicized against some Chareidim, I was told by a Dati-Leumi Rav that the language quoted in the name of those "Pashkevilim" was disgraceful; so I certainly condemn the use of "Pashkevilim" in this manner, even thought they seem clearly to have been used by "my side".

5. Let us truly believe that, even if we don't even like each other too much (though I hope that that will NOT be the case), we can live side by side without causing each other grief. We have a wonderful neighborhood, and a great city; let's not ruin it through spiteful fights against "Apikorsim" and the like.

As such, I close with a Pasuk (verse) which exemplifies the important balance in Middot, such that truth is not sacrificed for "peace", nor peace sacrificed for "truth": "VeHaEmet VeHaShalom Ehavu" (Zechariah 8:19), which translates as, "And the truth and the peace shall you love;".



Bivrachah,

Catriel Lev

Mobile Phone: 050-205-7867

Email: clev@actcom.com

51 comments:

  1. This is ridiculously long. There is no way I am reading it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Another Anonymous:

    I tried. I agree it is way too long.

    Thank G-d we decided against RBS. Your area seems doomed by te extremists, who have no intention whatsoever of achieving coexistence, let alone ahavat yisrael.

    Where I live, in Ma'aleh Adumim, the mikvaot are warm and welcoming places and the balaniot are PROUD to serve a public that includes many women who don't "look" dati.

    Doesn't look like that's gonna happen anytime soon in RBS. If you want a coexistant community, don't let the haredim get the upper hand. It's probably too late for RBS.

    ReplyDelete
  3. and a third anonymous to the second anonymous: and what is coexistant about Maaleh Adumim? I am sure it is a wonderful community, but what do you know about coexistance? It is a dati leumi comunity and doesnt have chareidim or chareidi neighborhoods. At most it has a few token "chareidim", generaly baalei teshuva who wear black hats but arent chareidi in any other way. So what do you know about coexistence?

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  4. While this letter has some important points the numbers are waay off. The number of familes who want a machmir charedi mikva are waaaay more than 20. The whole mishkanos yaakov comunity wants it like that. you are talking about hundreds of families. I dont think that all the people who want a rabanut style mikva should have to deal with "chumros" they dont want but the reality is a huge amount of people do want that option. RBS A is getting more charedi all the time. we have to deal with it

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  5. The Mikva belongs to the Rabbanut/community. Extremists com and demnad it. And now we have to compromise in order to prevent chilul hashem?

    hello? anybody home?

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  6. you can argue the legal aspect of it, but it is done in many communities, even in othe rparts of Bet Shemesh, and that cannot be denied. There is precedent (I have no idea if it would hold up in court,, but if it is something the Rabbanut commonly does, you cannot say that they can do it all over except not here).

    You say extremists, but it is not the extremists involved in this situation. Or I should say not only the extremists. more The moderate elements are involved as well.

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  7. couldn't be bothered reading the whole tome, but from a quick skim read I understand that Catriel is calling Rav Davidovitz, Rav Malinowitz and Rav Kornfeld (who are three of the four rabbanim involved in the charedi side of the mikva) extremists and 'reform', with only 20 followers shows complete ignorance of the charedi community in RBS [and shows just how little research Catriel actually did].

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  8. and a third anonymous to the second anonymous: and what is coexistant about Maaleh Adumim? I am sure it is a wonderful community, but what do you know about coexistance? It is a dati leumi comunity and doesnt have chareidim or chareidi neighborhoods."

    That's exactly my point, Anonymous 3. Coexistance is quite possible between dati leumi anc chiloni, but unlikely at best between the charedi and anyone else, even other charedi factions.

    As soon as the charedim become a significant mass, the hostile takeover begins in earnest.

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  9. Please re-post your main points if you wish to communicate your message effectively.
    Additionally, if in fact a rabbi lied to people about women being mistreated or about there being a sign forbidding women to tovel according to their minhag, shouldn't that be publicized?
    The community is small enough that someone should do a poll and find out who is who, in terms of numbers of dati leumi. One simple way to get a good estimate is to call up all the main schools and ganim and get the enrolment numbers (though you would miss young families who use babysitting and informal playgroups).

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  10. If you go by the number of chidlren, the DL community is doomed to lose this battle, as the chareidim have more school aged chidlren.

    OTOH, the fewer kids means the fewer pregnancies, and that means the more times you need the mikvah

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  11. Catriel - No other community in our fair city actually wants to prevent the extremists from exercising their lawful right to practice Judaism however they see fit; and this is something that I have checked out carefully and found to be true.

    But this isn't really true. Certainly not from their perspective. They want to teach their children a certain derech, more than teach them, they want to indoctrinate them with it. And your very existence in their neighborhoods runs contrary to those teachings. Examples abound, women walking around less covered than their standards demand, men and women shopping in stores at the same time, young men going to work each day (rather than going to kollel), etc. When their kids see this behavior, and especially when they see this behavior being performed openly by frum Jews, it severely undermines what they are attempting to teach their children.

    Mark

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  12. If you want more people to get the main points of this article, you need to place a summary at the top of it. Many of us cannot plow through it.

    Sorry.

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  13. Catriel - you are preaching to the choir with this post. The vast majority of those who are likely to read your post are those in that gray area of the RBS spectrum known as the "American Chareidi/Chreidi Light/Chareidi Le'umi/Torani" community, who believe in a live-and-let-live approach. The problem is that the ones on the other side just don't believe in such an approach - to them, it's "my way or the highway".

    An additional aspect that needs to be taken into account is that there are at least two large Anglo Shuls in the neighborhood, where the Tzibur is agrees with the live-and-let-live approach, but whose leaders, one of whom is an egocentric individual on a power trip, takes a much harder line. These communities should learn Pirkei Avos a bit better - it says "Asei Lecha Rav" - YOU should choose your Rav; you should not blindly follow some individual with a long beard who tries to sound impressive when he speaks.

    another RBS resident (for now)

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  14. False Information?May 16, 2010 1:04 AM

    Catriel - you state that "several leaders have not displayed integrity on this and other issues confronting our community, and this grieves me greatly".

    I have heard that it was Rav Malinowitz who fed you false information, which you published in good faith, in one of your previous postings on Life In Israel.

    Is this true?

    If so, has Rav Malinowitz written a correction and an apology to you, to Rafi, and to us the public, who were all deceived?

    You mention "several leaders". Are there indeed others?

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  15. Sur MaRah V'asay TovMay 16, 2010 1:44 AM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  16. The composition indeed is rather long, though that is a result of its encompassing much material and of the fact that it developed as an accumulation of material about the Mikveh issue and what we could learn from it.

    As people continuously asked me about what I knew about the issue and what my thoughts were about the problems, I ended up amassing a sort of "blog" of information and thoughts on the topic(s).

    Unfortunately, I did not have time to produce a summary before posting my composition; I agree that a summary would be helpful, and I will see when I can fit that into my schedule.

    In closing, I wish to mention that we are in the week of Chag Shavuot, the holiday of the giving of the Torah, about which the word "VaYichan" ("and he camped", rather than the grammatically correct "and they camped") which describes Am Yisrael at the giving of the Torah is interpreted as telling us that Am Yisrael had true unity. Let us hope that we can approach that ideal as we approach the holiday of Shavuot!

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  17. Catriel
    As my only knowledge of who and what you are came from your previous posts on this issue, I was always under the impression that you were a unbiased individual that was trying to understand the approach of all sides.
    Your true colors have now come out. While you give over very clearly a DL hashkafas hachaim (call it whatever you will) you completely miss the boat on the chareidi perspective.
    The rabbonim that lead the chareidi community in RBSA happen to be very much from the mainstream chareidi community. This is evident from the respect and support that they receive from the leaders of the mainstream chareidi community. You completely misread their position (I come from their camp and know how they think) and misrepresent the number of supporters and followers that they have in RBS (believe it or not, they had a huge part in making Abutbol mayor - something that 20 families are incapable of).
    By placing them in the wrong position you give yourself the right to determine that your opinions are correct and anybody else has a misconstrued vision of Judaism.
    While perhaps (yes, perhaps) your information on the alleged abuse has been confirmed and proven to you, you make several mistakes in my opinion.
    The combining of abuse by mikva ladies and abuse of not allowing ladies to toivel befor tzais is completely unfair and wrong.
    Not allowing people to toivel before tzais, while being a controversial step and perhaps unfair, cannot be referred to as abuse. There is nothing abusive about it. It is an inconvenience at most.
    In general your historic info is biased telling one side of the story of the last eleven years.
    your statistical info is something that has absolutely no evidence nor can any be proven. There is no way to measure how many people want to use the "other side" but don't, as there is no way to measure how many people want to use the chareidi side and don't (perhaps because of time constraints and the wait is longer)
    There is no way to prove how many people use either side of the mikva as no stats were ever kept. It is based on assuptions that can and can't be correct.
    There are many women that use the chareidi side and were tremendously happy, in fact perhaps tell us what percentage of mikva users actually registered complaints even after the huge campaign to register as many hyped up complaints as possible. (Even if the compaints are all true and acurate- the percentage will not suggest that more than a small percentage are disturbed by the chareidi running of the mikva)
    Perhaps the easiest way to bring calm to the neighborhood would be for you and the ones you represent to calm down and get over the mikavaos being split half half.

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  18. Mr. Anonymous - everything you write is fine until the last paragraph.

    Perhaps the easiest way to bring calm to the neighborhood would be for you and the ones you represent to calm down and get over the mikavaos being split half half.

    when the mikvas were split half half, nobody made a big deal about anything. Only when there was a (perceived?) attempt to take over the whole mikva did people get upset, concerned that they would now be subject to the type of inspection going on on the haredi side.

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  19. Rav Soloveichik Speaks Out Against the Pashkevil
    http://tzedek-tzedek.blogspot.com/2010/05/rabbi-soloveichik-speaks-out-against.html

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  20. Rafi,
    Allow me if I may to correct your math (and/or your understanding of my comment)
    There are two mikvaos buildings in ramat beit shemesh A.
    Splitting half half would mean one building going to the rabbanut and one going to the chareidi rabbanim.
    Half of dolev is one quarter. (Assumng that both buildings have the same amount of everything). The chareidi rabbonim wanted the whole dolev which would equal half and instead the "compromise" was to give them the whole lachish - half.
    It seems that it was the DL rabbanoim that were trying to keep three quarters to themselves (lachish + half of Dolev)
    Of course some of my info might be off so feel free to correct me

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  21. I thought you meant half of each mikva. not half of the sum total.

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  22. The messages from the DL side were confusing. First Lachish was closed and Dolev was half/half - no problem.

    Then Dolev was supposed to become 100% under Charedi supervision while Lachich was still closed - not ok timing.

    Then the DL politicians suggested that the Charedi side wanted control of both mikvaos in this process - only alleged but it really brought the DL community out in protest.

    From the DL perspective they preferred Dolev over Lachish because of the location relative to each community, and also because getting the older and run-down mikvah (old Lachish) sends a negative message about the position of the DL community in the political arena.

    It looks like a great agreement, but (a) it felt like the DL politicians used every bit of ammunition to stir up their community even if inaccurate, and (b) the calling of some Charedi Rabbanim "extremists" is not helpful.

    My take on what Catriel means by "extremists" - not Rav Malinowitz. Maybe not even Rav Davidovitch, who is the local BIG niddah posek but not into the politics. There is a Charedi element into the politics here, the ones who send their idle congregants to break up boys choir events etc.

    Whether they are "only" 20 is irrelevant because ultimately they are the catalyst for a real need of the Charedim here - while Rav Malinowitz's does not spurn the Moetza Datit supervised mikvaos, Rav Davidovitch likely advised his congregants to shlep to Bet.

    If the DL side can't extract and work with the validity in an "extremist" request, and instead fights with alternative extremist tactics (like making "abuse" - however real and inappropriate - the focus of the issue) - NONE OF US WILL EVER GET ANYWHERE.

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  23. I meant "even if inaccurate OR IRRELEVANT" (i.e. the problems with the over-zealous Charedi balanit, or the bein hashmashos tevila)

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  24. I have an interesting question.
    What makes somebody an extremist?
    Is it his halachic views or political views or can it be both?
    Perhaps if someone's halchic views is more right wing than the DL but is based on traditional psakim without compromising or kulas, then one may be perceived as an extremist by some camps, although he might be pretty main stream to other camps.
    Besides which, if a Rav paskens through his own thorough understanding of the sugyas, and his psakim are more stringent than the Rabbanut's psakim, would that make him an extremist?
    It was known that Rav Fisher Zt"l was very maikel in certain areas of hilchos nidda while Reb Meir Bransdorfer Zt"l was very machmir in those areas. They were both accepted as chashuve poskim in their community with some people following one and some following the other. In a halachic discussion, there is room for different approaches.
    Has anybody actually clarified the halachic issues involved at the core of the mikva debate or is it easier to lump everything into political sides?
    Perhaps when looking from a halachic perspective, the chareidi rabbanim are "normal" and rav Spector is "extremely maykil". I have been wondering for years what halachic argument has been behind the controversial bedika issue, but no one seems to know or really care

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  25. Mr. Anonymous - what is the "controversial bedika issue"? The way the mikva ladies treated some women being extremely stringent on hwo they dealt with possible chatzitzas, ignoring their preference to follow their rabbinic psak and only listening to specific rabbonim, and not allowing sefardi women to tovel on Friday nights bein hashmashos (as is the halacha for sfardi women)?

    That really raises the question of what is the job of the balanit - is she supposed to do anything more than make sure the womans hair goes under the water and assist as per the womans requests if she needs ti, and know when a shailoh must be asked?
    If a woman feels she has stisified all she needs to clean and check and according to her rav her questionable chatzitzas are not problems, does the mikva lady have a right to stop her from immersing, just because the mikva lady follows a different rav?

    Besides the physical construction of the mikva and how often ro how the physical mikva gets inspected by rabbonim, I see absolutely no place for being machmir in the mikva. Each woman follows her rav and all the mikva lady has to do is make sure the hair goes under and that any problems are asked properly to the womans rav. Where are there more machmir bedikas that can be imposed on any women - DL or haredi?

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  26. Proud Member of BTYAMay 16, 2010 1:14 PM

    Sur MaRah V'asay Tov:
    If you so strongly stand behnd the despicible words you have to say for a Talmid Chacham, why are you afraid to use your real name?

    Rafi: How can you alow such words to be lefton your blog?

    Catriel: Your wors bothered me too, but by the time I read your post and then got through the comments, the only thing I remembered was this "Motzi Shem Rah's" words and Rafi's allowance of them. You should be embarressed to have them associated with your thoughts and beliefs

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  27. Regarding the building and filling of the mikve, the whole machlokes among contemporary poskim is regarding a chumra of trying to satisfy as many opinions as possible. None of which makes a mikve invalid.
    Regarding leaks, it is standard procedure to check for an invisible leak (which some poskim hold doesn't invalidate) once a year on tisha be'av when nobody is using the mikve.
    So, IF there is a machlokes btw these rabbonim about building or maintaining a mikve, it is all on how to implement a particular chumra.
    The only rumor I heard is that the charedi rabbonim didn't like how the mikve was filled one time. Pretty vague.

    Regarding machlokes on chafifa, there are some pretty serious disputes amongst contemporary and recent poskim. The one rumor I heard is that R. Spektor allowed dipping with a certain type of stitches. The way the rumor was expressed is stitches that have to be removed by a doctor.
    Not so clear what is being referred to here, and it isn't unlikely that the story changed. Badei Hashulchan (and others) that disolvable stitches are OK. He also says that in many circumstances stitches on a wound that hasn't healed yet are OK.
    Others disagree.
    Being meikel here is not beyond the mainstream. A woman who has a rav, is going to ask her rav ahead of time. Otherwise if she chooses she can get Rav Spektor's opinion and he has the right to offer it.

    Nobody says you have to scrub of dry skin until you bleed.

    And by the way all of these chatziza questions are an a derabbanan issue.

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  28. The way the mikva ladies treated some women being extremely stringent on hwo they dealt with possible chatzitzas, ignoring their preference to follow their rabbinic psak and only listening to specific rabbonim

    Yes that is what i was referring to. what is the halachic issue that one side sees as a chatzitza and one doesn't. perhaps there was a misunderstanding or perhaps she didn't explain to her ruv the proper metziyus.
    i am not trying to deny that it happened but rather trying to ask what was the machlokes. i am sure that it wasn't "your ruv says it;s fine so it can't be" there must have been a halachic reason for the mikva ladies insistence. therefore i feel that until we understand what the halachic ruling is, we can't just say that it was blinded chumra, perhaps it was ikar hadin and that is where the machlokes was.
    if a women comes in and claims that a rav mattired what is considered a chatzitzah to all opinions, then either there was a misunderstanding or the situation changed since the shaaylo was asked. under that situation, it would be justifiable for the mikva ladies stubborness.
    very often when it comes to halacha, one who is more familiar with any particular part of halacha, would ask the shaylo differently then someone less familiar. in this case the mikva lady is more familiar with hilchos chatzitza than even the most dilligent kallah student, by virtue of her taking additional courses to familiarize herself with these halachos.
    TO summarize, without knowing what issue was at hand, it is hard to just rub it off as being a crazy chumra without knowing the details. once details are given than we may analyze the particular psak and decide whether that psak was called for. until that point, it is just that we decie that the chareidim are unnecesarily machmir and that dati leumi are always paskening with accuracy - without kulo od chumro

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  29. The way the rumor was expressed is stitches that have to be removed by a doctor.
    Not so clear what is being referred to here, and it isn't unlikely that the story changed. Badei Hashulchan (and others) that disolvable stitches are OK.

    not quite sure what you are saying. you start off talking about stitches that are removed by a doctor and then bring a proof from disolvable stitches, and say that to be maykil is normal. perhaps that itself was the reason for the misunderstanding.

    "Nobody says you have to scrub of dry skin until you bleed."
    is that what happened? what did the mikva lady claim? that you have to bleed? if that is the case then perhaps you have a point. or perhaps the mikva lady misjudged how thin it was and didn't intend for it to bleed. mistakes happen.
    there is a certain amount of dey skin that most people hold is a problem from what i remember.


    "And by the way all of these chatziza questions are an a derabbanan issue."
    and therefore? if it is inconvenient then it is not important?
    there are guidlines even in drabbonons that the shulchan and poskim lay forth.

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  30. Proud - you are right and I have removed it. I sometimes miss messages when they come in batches and I have been away from the computer for a while... I apologize for the offense and ask the commenters again to please keep the debate respectful

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  31. Mr. Anonymous - so there is a significant number of women this happened to, whether 5, 15, 25, 50 or 150 doesnt really matter, where a shayloh came up that could only be analyzed by Rabbi Perlstein or Rabbi Davidovitz before allowing these women in to the mikva because their own rav might have been too meykil?

    Maybe if that happened so often, the rabbonim should not have allowed the situation to continue but should have spoken to that rav that was too meykil with whatever psak you are referring to rather than forcing the women to continue undergoing delays they did not understand.

    I am sure any bleeding caused by mikva ladies, and I have said this in the past, was either a misunderstanding on their part or a mistake and not intentional. No mikva lady is looking to cause anyone to bleed. But it still happened repeatedly because thy thought they need a certain level of zealousness in getting rid of that possible chatzitza..

    the truth is I have never heard of such a claim anywhere in the world. The mikva lady does not stop women who have cleaned themselves from immersing, and they do not force them to only ask certain rabbonim and not their own rabbonim. This whole claim is strange that all these women had situations that could only be dealt with by certain rabbonim and not their own.

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  32. An earlier commenter asked what makes someone an extremest. To my mind, that line is crossed the minute you start insisting that everyone has to behave according to your beliefs. You can do whatever you want- but allow me to do the same.

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  33. Mr. Anonymous,

    No, I am not trying to bring proof for non dissolving from dissolving. When a rumor like this is passed around it is very easy for details to get confused. It is possible that what really happened is that there was a psak about stitches that a doctor does NOT have to remove (i.e. dissolving stitches.) which there is a machlokes about, but many great poskim matir.
    Then I mentioned the case of non-dissolving stitches, because perhaps he really did matir that in a case where the wound is not healed, which is mentioned as a cause to be matir in the badei hashulchan. The point was not to assume that someone is making bad psak because of some rumor that is going around.

    The reason for pointing out that these chatzitsos are at worst derabbanan (miut hamakpid), is because it is more justifiable to follow a lenient opinion in case of machlokes. C"v to ignore derabbanan's, but sefeka derabanan lekula. And in case of machlokes all things being equal we follow the mekeil bederabbanan.

    Regarding dead skin, if one is removing it themselves it is very easy to know stop before it bleeds, because you can feel it. It is very unwise to have someone else do it for you.
    Please, cite a source that dry skin needs to be removed.
    Hangnails yes, but dry skin on elbows, etc. I never heard of anyone being makpid to remove skin from their body! To put lotion on to soften but to remove. How could it then be a chatziza.

    The mikve lady though is very important (unless a woman shaves her head), because if a hair is not submerged in the water then even medioraisa it is not a good tevila. If none is available there are ways around it (ask your rav or look in the shulchan aruch).

    So, I don't know if this fight was over mikva ladies, or psak in chatzitza, or just control, but it is very sad that the mikvaos have to be split.

    If the charedi rabbonim, really have a claim about psak it should be presented with details and explanations to R Spektor, the other rabbonim (DL) in the neighborhood, the rav hair, and the rabbanut harashit. That way if there really is an issue then it can be dealt with.

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  34. "Sur MaRah V'asay Tov:
    If you so strongly stand behnd the despicible words you have to say for a Talmid Chacham, why are you afraid to use your real name?"

    If you are such a proud member of BTYA..why are you afraid to use your name?

    I have to be afraid that some of the over zealous members of your shul might come after me or that you Rav will put me in cherem (as he has done to others).

    But what are YOU afraid of?

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  35. Rafi
    That which you have never heard of this anywhere in the world is not much of a proof to any side.
    First of all, had I not followed your blog, I would have not known what is going on here, and therefore there is no way to know what really goes on anywhere else. There exists local politics in just avout every frum community in the world. Is the mikva involved? Perhaps. But not hearing about it doesn't mean anything.
    Furthermore, Most mikvaos in the world are run by one ruv or group of rabbanim - the one that built it. Therefore what they say goes. I am sure that there are mikvaos in the brooklyn area in which the people in the know don't rely on etc. People just stay away from those mikvaos and that's it.
    It is standard in most mikvaos for the mikva lady to have a specific ruv that she asks the shaylos to. In a case where the mikva lady has a doubt, despite the toyveler's claim that she asked her own ruv, it would seem to me that she would have a responsibility to call the ruv of the mikva and make sure that she is doing the right thing by allowing the lady to toivel. What that ruv would determine in the situation would might be to allow her to rely on the ladies ruv or perhaps not. But standard procedure would probably be for the mikva lady to clarify in that situation.


    Rachel,
    The description would be a two way street, by demanding that the mikva ladies can only be chosen by Rav Spector and the chareidim have no say, that would in turn make Rav Spector an extremist.
    No one demanded anything of the women going to the left side. If someone chose to go to the right side then they are choosing to subject themselves to the rules. You can't have your cake and eat it too.
    As far as I understood, the issue of taking over the entire mikva on dolev was only at which time lachish would be reopened, thereby leaving an option for people to live any level of yiddishkeit they want.
    Therefore, if you are inferring that trying to have control of the entire mikva makes one extremist, then according to your deffinition you are wrong.

    Anon,
    There was a point in time where there was an arrangement for joint choosing of the mikva ladies and for some reason, rav spector was the one to pull back and not give any veto power to the chareidi rabbanim. This goes back many many years, before any of the current complaints existed. Therefore in my opinion, it is rav spector who refuses to accomodate the chareidi rabbanim's needs and not vice versa. I am sure that even today, If rav spector would be willing to compromise and bring mikva ladies that satisfies everyone, the rabbanim would be able to cooperate.
    This control argument that is being made time and again is just assumption without going into the real facts that are $oving the rabbanim

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  36. Far too long, could have be said with less words.

    It kills me that the fundamentalist mindset of the Xians and Muslims it taking hold of the Charedi community in Israel.

    If people would educate themselves on Halacha rather than minhag and chumrot the world would be a much more pleasant place.

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  37. Mr. Anonymous,

    Don't you think that R. Spektor has a very good reason not to allow them veto power over mikve ladies. And I think that recent allegations of over-zealous mikve ladies only strengthens that position. A reasonable agreement is that the moetza runs the show (they do pay for it you know) and tries to accomodate the population within reason. The charedim can inspect the mikve in addition to the moetza (and pay for upgrades if they want) and have a mikve lady of their own, paid for by them or the women who use them, available in the mikve for women who request.

    Charedi veto power is not a reasonable request.

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  38. mr. anon, you are indeed incorrect. The intent was to do it imminently- not to wait until lachish was finished. And we both know that once both had gone to one side or the other it would not have changed hands again.

    I had no problem with the 1/2 split of each- in fact, it is the position I favored. It was only once I found out that I would no longer be allowed to go as I learned that I took up the fight. I wholly support that there is more than one way to view things- and so long as you allow me to practice my way, I see no reason you should not have the same freedom.

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  39. Rachel-

    What was your source that the switch was to take effect before Lachish was ready?

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  40. My husband heard it directly from our Rav who was directly involved

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  41. Rachel-
    Thank you for responding.
    Who is your Rav?

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  42. Rachel-
    Thank you for responding.
    Who is your Rav?
    I would like to speak with him.

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  43. funny how an anonymous talkbacker is demanding the name of the source of something somone else wrote.
    but in truth, anyone who was in any way involved in the mikva issue (other than posting blog talkbacks) knows that the entire issue started when the chareidi rabanim demanded control over BOTH sides of BOTH mikvaot. only once that was not given to them did the fight continue with which mikva etc.
    if you still want a rav that will back that up, rav vargon wrote that in his announcement (see rafi's blog) and any other rav in the DL community know all the facts (as well as you can ask anyone working in the moatzah hadatit or the mayors office.

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  44. I am sorry. Those who legitimately need to know who our Rav is already know. I have no interest in opening any more of myself to an anonymous stranger- tell me who you are and what you need my information for and I will reconsider.

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  45. Rafi, you had no right to share with anonymous information I said specifically I did not want to share with an unnamed source. Telling me after the fact by email that you have done so is the height of chutzpah. I will be reconsidering the information I let you have access to- as will my husband.

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  46. I apologize again. I told him because the rabbis name and involvement are not a secret nor private. I didnt tell him anything about you. And I told you immediately afterwords (though I should have asked first).

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  47. yes you should have. I will be letting everyone who posts to your blog know about your lack of caring for the privacy of posters to your blog.

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  48. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  49. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  50. Rachel-

    This is anonymous.
    I don't write well so I apologize in advance.
    I didn't mean to be questioning your story.
    I understand that this whole episode hasn't been pleasant for you.(to say the least)
    We've met before.
    I was asking you because I was hoping your Rav was someone I know.
    I am interested in getting to the bottom
    of the dispute.

    You're the first to say someone knew for sure and not just 'heard' or 'rumors'.

    I don't know Rav Vargon.

    I know your Rav very well.

    Your name won't be mentioned.

    I'll just ask him if
    he knows if the chareidim wanted both mikvaos and how he knows.

    I've known Rafi for 10+ years and I give him permission to tell you who I am privately.

    I wasn't the other anonymous.
    My first post was at
    May 16, 2010 10:58 PM

    ReplyDelete
  51. thank you anonymous for what you have written. I appreciate your honesty.

    ReplyDelete

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