Jun 3, 2009

Askanim as role models

Askanim in the haredi community, and in other communities as well but with less influence, try to influence the way we live our lives - whether individually to a certain extent (think kosher cell phones, where you can shop, internet access, etc.) or whether on a communal level (think signs about tzniyus, trying to make stores or buses "mehadrin", community events regulated by them, etc.).

There is a famous criticism of professors in the secular world that they often do not live what they preach. I have heard, and am sure many others have as well, stories in shmuezim, about the ethics professor who does not live according to the ethical standards he teaches and admits so publicly saying what he teaches has nothing to do with how he lives.

That form of hypocricy is one I have always heard to be rejected by us. The morals and ethics we teach are morals and ethics we have to live by and we demand of oruselves and of our leaders who teach them.

Those askanim who try to direct our communities - take a look at what happened in Bnei Brak last night, as reported by Yisrael HaYom (article below). The police raided a gambling joint. In the heart of Bnei brak. Arrests were made. Nobody is named in the article, but it says they are known askanim, aides and people in the municipality of Bnei brak, and others well connected.

So we have askanim acting holier than thou telling us the need for kosher cell phones, kosher buses, kosher whatever, and then (not specifically the same people, but the same genre of people) they are caught gambling. Actually it is not so bad. The gambling joint ran in a mehadrin format - no women were allowed!


  1. ey, gambling is just geneiva- that has been muttar for at least that past 61 years!!

  2. 1 - People dont look up to Askanim. They are not the leaders of the community. They are activists, busy bodies who do what needs to get done - in THEIR way.

    2 - The difference is that if you would ask those askanim about the gambling, or any other failing, they would call it that - a failing. A personal failing. At least thats what they would if they were honest with themselves. OTOH, the professors do not view themselves as failures for their actions, rather they feel that there is no need to "be" what they preach

  3. anon #2 - I dont understand. you think it is reasonable for them to tell us how to live, and get the gedolim to sign off on their wishes, yet they have their own failings (doesn't everybody?), yet at the proportions of running secret gambling joints? You dont see anythign wrong with them telling us how important mehadrin buses are, how kopsher this and kosher that are so important, while they clandestinely run gambling joints?

  4. "Askanim as role models"

    You mean teaching us how to play craps? :)

  5. This is in some ways similar to politicians who lobby against a particular vice (gambling, prostitution, porn, you name it), and are later found to be partaking in said activity.

    I don't see this as hypocritical - in fact the opposite - If someone has a gambling (or any other) addiction that he is having trouble breaking, and the addiction is destroying his personal life, he should be the first person to promote legislation against gambling - knowing first hand how destructive gambling (or porn, prostitution, smoking, drugs, alcohol, etc) can be.

    The problem with this story is that I don't remember stories about Askanim campaigning against gambling, they seem more obsessed with other issues.

    Please Save us from a community that regards Askanim as a role model

  6. "role models" was really the wrong term to use. What I really meant was they tell us how to live, because they believe we cannot control ourselves to act properly, yet they in private...
    I just could not find the right term for it...

  7. OK, i'll ask, what's so wrong with gambling?

    (I am assuming it was for small stakes rather than huge amounts)

  8. chitown - let's see. first of all, it is illegal. second, it is even so assur according to torah law and in contravention of a Jewish lifestyle that it invalidates a gambler from being a witness (whether they were doing that type of gambling or not i have no idea).
    Third, it is well known and documented all around the world that gambling leads to other forms of depraved behavior.
    Fourth, just look at whenever a law was proposed to legalize gambling and build casinos - did the religious parties, or specifically haredi parties, support or oppose it? They opposed it for all the above reasons.
    Do you think gambling is not as bad as having a cellphone that uses sms and internet? Is it not worse than having internet in your house? is it not worse than sitting with your wife on a bus? is it not worse than whether your wife wears a sheitel or a tichel?

    for all those things, they try to control the community and make us follow their dictates because those are such destructive behaviors. I think most people would agree that gambling is worse than any of those.

  9. As an MO/Dati Leumi, I plead ignorance. All of a sudden, I see the term "askanim" bandied about, and I have no idea who Askanim refers to.

    Can someone please explain exactly what/who "Askanim" means?

  10. Tamar, just read the 1st paragraph of this blog entry.

    In short, Askanim are community control freaks and busy-bodies, working hard to discover and implement new chumras on everyone who potentially can fall within their self-defined jurisdication.

    I think that defines it to a tee.

  11. So it's a self-appointed position? Anyone can be an "Askan" if he/she chooses to interfere with others' lives?

  12. You can even print your own Askan business cards! :)

    There are Askan who represent or claim to represent this or that Rav or organization. Often they can be Rabbanim themselves who want their name popularized by - well - becoming Askanim.


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