These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Week 18: True Piety

Posted on January 8, 2012 by Derek Kwait

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After getting over Hevron, the subject on everyone’s minds and lips all last week was the craziness in Beit Shemesh. I was going to write this blog post with a lot of complaints about how more people aren’t speaking out against this behavior, but since I could have attended the protest and did not, perhaps I don’t have the right to get on others for not speaking out, maybe I’m just as bad. There are few things worse than being a hypocrite, after all.

But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise that I didn’t go, since I now realize I had it all wrong before. My epiphany came Sunday morning when I stood at Pardes and read about the protests the night before in the holy Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea Shearim where the residents dressed themselves and their children up as Holocaust victims to draw attention to and take a bold stand against the increasing senseless animosity displayed against them, their holy brothers in Beit Shemesh, and their Authentically Torah-True® way of life by the hands the evil Zionist majority of Israel Eretz Yisroel. One quote in particular, by American yeshiva student Salomon Hoberman, hit me like a lightening bolt through the brain, changing my life forever: ‘“It’s like how it started with the Nazis – very slowly,” [he said] defending the use of the yellow stars. “They’re separating us from the Jewish people because we’re following the way of the Torah. They hate us because we’re going the Jewish way.

And there’s only one Jewish way.”’

Reading this line as I did while standing in the halls of Pardes, made its truth, its emes, even more obvious. I realized right then and there that the only reason I—with my Western miseducation and the false anti-Torah values it emphasizes—used to think that tact, respect, and decency were part of Judaism is because what I was learning was not Judaism, but something else. In that moment it further became clear how I was wasting my time at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Shondes learning different opinions and calling all of them Judaism even when they so obviously contradict each other when I could instead just cut through all the touchy-feely nonsense and study Authentic Torah at a real yeshiva from real Jews like the type Reb Hoberman learns from and get the correct Torah-True® answer on every issue every time. I’m ashamed of myself now for having spent so much time practicing and learning a false religion, but what else besides touchy-feely nonsense should I have expected from a yeshiva that allows and even (G-d have mercy on us) hires w—-n (you know what I mean. As a “healthy” man like the one in the video linked to above, I don’t even want to write that word! An arrow in your eye, Satan!) No wonder the real Jews make sure they are kept far out of sight—by force if necessary—while studying holy true words of Torah, which of course we, as the last remaining guardians of the true Torah, do all day every day. Thinking Torah has anything to do with personality and feelings, G-d forgive me, what was I thinking?!

I’m embarrassed to report, however, that I didn’t at that moment pack all my bags and run from a place of idolatry to a place of Torah as the Sages command to us do. No, in my weakness, I stayed the rest of the week, but, as Jews say, gam zu l’tova, though something seems “bad” on the outside, this too, is ultimately for the good, since it made me see just how heretical and how anti-Torah Pardes really is. Take the so-called siyum I attended in the “Social Justice” class Tuesday afternoon. It was an outrage! Even worse than their false assumption that Torah and social justice even have anything to do with each other, was their chutzpadik assumption that social justice gives you license to hate the Torah—they went around and spoke about how they think they know better than the Torah and the Sages when it comes to such issues as minority rights, workers’ rights, w—-n’s roles in Judaism, Jewish obligations to the poor, homosexuals the toeva community, and environmental issues. They did this by reviewing texts showing the multiplicity of views in the Jewish Tradition about these issues and spoke of the importance of maintaining an honest dialogue with all the texts, those you are proud of and those you are not, to carry the Jewish tradition of wrestling with these issues into the future. They then blessed each other that they may continue to be Jewishly empowered to treat all people as being made in the Divine Image to continue to live as agents of G-dly change in the world.

I know, I wanted to barf (on them) too. I don’t mean to say there aren’t any pressing social issues facing the Yidden, of course there are lots of them—the un-male gender getting too much education, the un-male gender dressing immodestly, public busses not being gender-segregated, and anti-Semitic persecution by the Zionist regime, and of course these fakers utterly ignored them to waste their time instead on gays and goys! I wanted to scream “Judaism isn’t complicated, stop wasting your time on sinners and gentiles and just do things the one correct Authentic Torah-True® way! If a text seems to contradict that, it’s obviously just because you don’t understand the Tradition properly and you need to find a rebbe who will be willing to reeducate you.” I pity them.

But wait, it gets worse. Wednesday night, Dr. James Kugel came to Pardes to give the first of four lectures in a series called “Has Modern Biblical Scholarship Killed the Bible?” The answer is that maybe for him it has, since as far as I could tell, killing Judaism was his main goal. May your ears be spared the blasphemous lies he spun for the feeble-faithed wannabe Jews about supposed “Biblical authors” that aren’t God, and how, he claims, Jewish texts has always been shaped by the time, place and popular beliefs of the people who created him. Worse, he said it all while wearing a black kippa, apparently in an attempt to make the audience think he was an Authentically Torah-True® Jew like us and so represented real Judaism. The audience must have bought into it—after all, how can you judge someone if not by their appearance?— since while he was spewing his Torah-hating nonsense, they all just sat there and listened, then, afterwards, they respectfully asked questions. No one spat on him, beat him up, burned his house down, or took some other bold action for the sake of our holy Torah like a real G-d fearing Yid would have done. But I comfort myself with the knowledge that they are not real Jews and none of them will have any share in the World to Come. Yes, Rabbi Tarfon says in the Torah, “I doubt if there is anyone in this generation who is fit to rebuke others,” but he couldn’t have imagined Jews so holy as Reb Hoberman and his rebbes.

The whole thing just makes me sick. Thank God, I finally merited to go to the holy neighborhood of Mea Shearim for the first time Thursday.


I probably made history Thursday as the first person ever to wear a Point Park University hoodie in Mea Shearim. I went to volunteer with Ezrat Avot, a wonderful Israeli meals-on-wheels organization located in the neighborhood after my usual volunteer project was canceled and none of the normal volunteers were able to make it. My first image of the neighborhood was of a group of Chasidic men walking through Kikar Shabbat where the Holocaust protest was five days earlier wearing brown burlap sacks over their kaputas for reasons I hope I never find out. Once we got to Ezrat Avot, my fellow pinch-volunteer and I were greeted by an extremely nice and cheerful woman and a small group of friendly American yeshiva students who were just finishing making a sugar-free carrot kugel. After the yeshiva boys left, the woman and another man helped us and another volunteer fill around 60 bags of food for Israel’s elderly. It was a great experience and I would go back in a heartbeat. While I don’t know about the man, neither the yeshiva students nor the woman actually lived in Mea Shearim.

Quote of the Week: “If we walk out on [Judaism] now, it means those values win.” – Mira

Hebrew Word of the Week: אפיקורוס (“apikorus”) – Heretic (lit. a Hebraization of “Epicurius,” or one who sees the world only on the external level.)