May 16, 2011

Rabbinic Dental Care

I sometimes find it particularly humorous how in the haredi community everything is the rabbis. No matter what you want to do, publicly at least, it must have approval from the rabbis. A business you open must have rabbinic blessing in order to succeed, or at least have the chance of it, a newspaper must have rabbinic support, and on and on. Name the public service in the haredi community and you will find the rabbinic support propping it up.

Free Dental Clinic
One particular case that just brought this to mind is a free dental clinic that recently opened in a neighborhood of Bet Shemesh.

This is not the only one. Lemaan Achai operates one in Ramat Bet Shemesh. There used to be one in Bet Shemesh proper. Some have recently opened up in other cities like Kiryat Sefer and others. This particular neighborhood, where the new clinic was just opened, suffers from serious poverty and the free dental clinic is a big boon to such a neighborhood. Even the best of neighborhoods have people who are needy, or those who are down on their luck, even if only temporarily, and a free dental clinic would help such people no matter where it was. In a particularly poor neighborhood it is all that much more helpful.

You wonder why a free dental clinic would need rabbinic approval. They are a bunch of dentists offering an expensive service for free to those who cannot afford it. but it does require rabbinic approval, for whatever reason. Because everything does.

The funny part of this is that in the local haredi newspaper there was a write-up about the ceremony that marked the grand opening of the free dental clinic. Reading the article, if you knew nothing about the free dental clinic, you might come to the conclusion that the rabbonim were going to be running the clinic, providing the free dental care to the patients. The article described the ceremony, detailing which rabbis appeared, which rabbis spoke, and which rabbis support the opening of the clinic.

There was not a word of the dentists who were donating their time and energy. Not a word of the sponsors of the clinic. Not a word about the people who put all their efforts into actually opening the clinic.

I find that a bit humorous.


  1. Hmmm....sounds like some rabbanim are experts at pulling teeth...

  2. Not humorous, just sad that the frum Jewish world has such mixed up values where endorsements by celeb rabbis are more important than the real content.

  3. I must say that I find this very sad. If the Rabbonim are worth anything - they should be learning and teaching Torah as opposed to opening dental clinics all day. When Rabbonim become PR experts for themselves (as opposed to PR experts for Torah), Judaism is what suffers.

  4. Hakarat Hatov?May 16, 2011 8:44 PM

    Actually Rafi - the new free dental clinic was supplied in its entirety by Lema'an Achai to the organization in Cheftzibah. (Moving their facility from the shuk to the new host organization).

    I don't know if it was the new host organization, or the rabbis, or the Chadash newspaper, which censored any hakarat hatov to Lema'an Achai from the articles.

  5. i think that the reason is because since people don't have the ability to look into things on their own, they rely on their leaders to know if things are legitimate or not,therefore a Rabbinical endorsement makes the people feel that the whole thing is legit and not some crooks out to get them.
    of course if you are of the camp that the rabbonim are always being tricked and don't know what is going on, then it doesn't add too much for you. (unless you can say that if the Rabbonim were tricked then I certainly would be tricked anyways so there still would be no point in doing my own research so even then there might be a point)
    but if you feel, as most of the bnay torah do, that the rabbonim are smarter than the average Joe and they are looking out for my benefit than i can faster rely on their endorsement than relying on a sweet looking dentist that I have no idea who he is.

  6. Hakarat - interesting. I did nto know LA was behind the new clinic. Now I must ask - isn't all LA money meant to stay in RBS? how could LA donate the expensive equipment to a clinic in a different neighborhood?
    or did they raise the money as a separate collection outside of rbs?

  7. anonymous - I hear your point, but no mention at all of the people who worked to establish the clinic and will be donating their time?

    and they are not fundraising from the community or from other communities for this, so if they open a free dental clinic, a poor person wont go there to get treated unless they have 15 different rabbis approving it? of course he will.

  8. Based on the track record of Rabbonim and their lack of expertise in understanding complex economic transactions (ie all of the MLM scams that hit the charedi population about 10 years ago, the 'areivim' scam which is not financially stable) I strongly recommend not relying on Rabbonim to make your decisions except in religious matters.

    Brushing your teeth is not a religious matter (barring shabbos).

  9. Rafi,

    Excellent question about LA and the clinic.

    The equipment donated came from the Bet Shemesh Dental clinic which Lema'an Achai ran with funds from a specific donor for that purpose, not from general LA funds.

  10. The english Chadash ended its blurb said "-all provided by the best dentists in town." (just above the next item on Victory day.


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