Monthly Archives: August 2010

New article on the Hazon Ish by Yakir Englander

Yakir Englander says that he “grew up in the closed world of an ultra-orthodox Hassidic court, removed his head covering, but still defines himself as a secular Vishnitzer Chassid.” He is finishing a PHD at Hebrew Unviersity.

Englander just published an article on the Hazon Ish which differs with the extensive PHD thesis of Binyamin Brown on the Hazon Ish. I assume that everyone has read benny Brown by now. The new article views the Hazon Ish as driven by his anthropology in which people are sinful and depraved. Body, will, and imagination are all corrupted; even the intellect is not free of the effects of the evil inclination.

Humans do not have any naturally good state or inner goodness. Mussar wanted the person to cultivate their inner emotions and volition. In Englander’s presentation of the Hazon Ish, that would be like talking to an anorexic about her body. The goal of the anorexic is to beat up on the body, then paradoxically an anorexic spends all of her day on her body. The cure is a therapy that changes thinking or social dynamic. So too if the goal of baal mussar is to destroy their evil inclination, then spending all one’s day talking and thinking about it wont work. One has to entirely break one’s body and volition by submitting to Torah.

The Hazon Ish was against anything personal or existential because there is not any inwardness of value.

One arranges one’s life so as to avoid impurity to one’s soul. Englamder explains this concern with impurity using the categories of Mary Douglas in which impurity is based on fear of things outside one’s boundaries Most of society follows the evil inclination and lives a shallow life. One overcomes it by submission to halakhah.

Englander disagrees with Benny Brown over the role of mussr to the Hazon Ish. Brown considered hazn ish’s difference with mussar as an in-house debate. Englander thinks that the Hazon Ish held that the baalei musssar were naively running headlong into a bear hug with the yetzer hara

Engelard shows how mussar reasoning is rejected by the Hazon Ish and that the latter also lacks any ethic outside of halakhah. Musar definitions of theft like “stealing sleep of another” do not exist for him. And his view of learning does not give the credence to the intellect that Lithuanian learning does.

Mussar and Lumdut are both about cultivation of the self. The anthropology of the hazon Ish is to bypass the self entirely.
All the voluntary acts of piety in the Talmud and rishonim are not needed because they reflect the volunteerism and offering of the heart of piety The value is in the effort and the subjective. He also rejects them because of devolution of the generations- we don’t have pure volition any more.

I am not sure that every line is exact but his documentation is extensive. Some of the later mussar masters already had similar positions. But the article is definitely worth reading for its ideas and also for the extensive bibliography of the unpublished dissertations and articles on Mitnagdut of the last decade.

The question that I have now is how does the Centrist Orthodox idea of submission differ? On one hand it is the same submission and rejection of autonomy, values outside the halakhah, and distrust of the intellect. Yet, in Centrism one gets to live a life of the body, personal choice, emotions, and imagination so long as one does not apply it to Torah. Whereas the Hazon Ish expects one to reject the evil inclination every day of one’s life, Centrism identifies the evil inclination with the secular world, liberal Judaism, and individuality. As long as one buys into the Centrist version of halakhah, accepts the system a whole, and enters a Centrist enclave then one is free to spend one’s life on one’s body and imagination, one’s desires and inner life are good as long as they don’t effect Torah. Any thoughts?

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Shimon Apisdorf on the Meaning of Rosh Hashanah

I came across this quote from The Rosh Hashsnah Survival Kit when I was goggleing for something else. i had never looked at the book before Does it sound like 1980’s new age to anyone else? This view of love is more Maryanne WIlliamson or 12 step than Midrash. Human Potential and life choices seem to be generic new age. Any thoughts? In midrash, judgment is tempered by love, or God takes out his anger and judgment on an intimate object, or God teaches us to recite the 13 attributes of mercy or God accepts bribes from us in His love for us. Lots of variants, but always two parts judgment and then mercy-love.

If Rosh Hashanah could be summed up in one word, that word would be; love, potential, and life.
Let’s take a look at each of these words and reflect on their meaning in the context of Rosh Hashanah. Follow me:

Love
On Rosh Hashanah, when we say that God “sits in judgment” what we are saying is that God loves us: He cares about each and every one of us, He cares about who we are, how we live, and whether or not we are actualizing the potential He gave us. That the creator of the universe actually cares about “little ‘ol me” is a remarkably empowering and life-giving idea. The reality that we confront on Rosh Hashanah is one that highlights the intrinsic value and preciousness of every life in the eyes of God.

Potential

Every Rosh Hashanah represents a vote of confidence from God in our individual, personal potential. Every Rosh Hashanah also presents us with a fresh opportunity to unlock more and more of that great God-given gift.

Life

Throughout the Rosh Hashanah prayers, we ask God to “Remember us for life” and “Inscribe us in the Book of Life.” When we greet one another we say “May you have a good year, and may you be written and sealed for a year of good life and peace.”

Our prayers for life are meant to be understood at face value—we want to live—but they also have a deeper meaning. Consider this: I once met a Holocaust survivor who said, “I would choose to go through all those years in Auschwitz again rather than spend one day of my life as a Nazi.” That is an incredible statement, and what it means, I believe, is this: one can be alive, strong, and healthy yet be “dead” at the same time.
On Rosh Hashanah, we not only ask for life, we strive to be people who embrace the kinds of values, ideals, and choices that will fill our days with life: With meaning, with goodness, with spirituality—with life!

Author of Rosh Hashanah Yom Kippur Survival Kit and Beyond Survival: A Journey to the Heart of Rosh Hashanah, its Prayers.

The Small god of Modern Evangelicalism

I have always though that most Centrist Orthodox Jews have a kitchen deity that comes to answer there needs to times of trouble. If the average American’s God is a cosmic therapeutic deism those more religious have a God who listens to prayers, gives remission from cancer, helps raise money for the building fund and is an all purpose household deity. What their God is not is the Mighty God of the Bible. Here is an evangelical making the same point.

The Small god of Modern Evangelicalism
from internetmonk.com by Chaplain Mike
Today’s post is by guest blogger Daniel Jepsen.

Yes, the non-capitilzation of the third word in the title is deliberate. I don’t think the god I am talked about deserves to be capitalized. For I am not talking about the God of the scriptures, but the god that is worshipped in much of modern American evangelicalism.
This god is good, but small and not very powerful. This god is not able to use the foolish, weak and lowly things of this world to shame and nullify the wise, strong, and powerful

This god and his message must be made appealing to the world, much like Mary Poppins made the medicine more palatable by a spoon full of sugar. The sweeteners of coolness, relevance and freshness coat the message of this god, while those doing the coating tell us it doesn’t change the fundamental recipe. Perhaps not, but the very fact that the sweeteners are added betray a lack of faith in the inherent power of the message, and the power of the god who gives it.

It is not that the followers of this small god don’t believe the message; they just don’t believe it has much power without their help. It’s not that they want to distort this message. It’s just that the don’t reflect on how its distortion flows naturally from the help they give it.
This is why we see increasingly that not only do many of the leaders have a small god, but so do the people in their churches. These are people who view god as some sort of personal life-enhancement, not the author and judge of their life. They obey his commands selectively, and feel free to ignore or re-interpret those that might cause too much change, or that conflict too fiercely with the spirit of the age. They view his church not as something they are deeply privileged to be a part of, but something they consume like any other form of entertainment, and that had better keep the goods coming.

The parishioners do their job on Sunday: they attend. They are happy that their kids enjoy the music, and that the sermon is not too long. The church is full, and seems to have energy, which further boosts their self-esteem for having chosen to be a part of such an excellent church. The message focuses on how God can improve their marriage, and they leave glad that God wants to help them. As one wife would say later in the week, “I just love God! He does so much for me.”
Is it even possible that the children of this church will ever view god as something more than a cosmic vending machine?
This is the morass into which we have sunk.

Rabbi Aviner against Christendom

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner (b 1943), the head of Yeshvat Ateret Kohanim in the Muslim Quarter and rabbi of Beit EL aleph is known for having some of the most inflammatory rhetoric against Christianity. English wiki Extensive Hebrew Wiki

Rabbi Aviner retains all the medieval contemptuous rhetoric as contemporary reality and sees Judaism as still at war with Christendom for who is the “true Israel.” People in the establishment have contacted him to stop his rhetoric but to no avail. Aviner also makes up stories and conspiracy theories in which he reports on alleged meetings where the Church is plotting to regain Israel. These stories are then reported as true in the Israeli newspapers which support him. And depending on his need, he blinds himself Vatican II and the Fundamental Accord (the 1992 document in which the Church recognized the state of Israel) and speaks as if the rebuffs to Herzl’s proposals in 1904 were still operative.

One known Orthodox academic wrote him a letter asking him: Does Harav not know the changes in Church policy? Does he not know the events as recorded in the newspapers? Rabbi Aviner responded by FAX with a three word answer. “ zeh tahbulah sifruti” translated as “it is a literary strategy” or “it is a literary technique.” This message implies that he knows the truth but it does not serve his needs.
Normally, these diatribes are only available in his Hebrew publications, and he leaves them untranslated on his website. However yesterday he included this talk on one of his English emails and posted it to the web in English.

Rav Aviner on
On Accepting Contributions from Christian Groups
[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Ki Tetzei 5770 – translated by R. Blumberg]

The Evangelical Protestant missionary institutions try to infiltrate anywhere they can by whatever means possible. Now they have found the golden pathway – financial support.

Financial support is their present method of slowly infiltrating us. It doesn’t happen all at once. Not everyone who accepts their money immediately becomes a Christian. Yet their influence involves a seepage process that can spread over years. Those people are very patient and gradually they make inroads.

When a simple Jew hears the word “Christianity,” he is filled with abhorrence. He immediately thinks of the blood of millions of Jews tortured to death by the Christians. He recalls the Inquisition. He remembers everything. Therefore, he will never want to listen to them.

They use data to infiltrate every community. For example, in order to penetrate the Charedim they dress up like Charedim and keep tabs on their poor. If someone falls ill or passes away, they come to visit, help out, provide money, offer an encouraging word – without a single word about Christianity, obviously. They come again and again until a connection is formed. They talk from the heart. When they see that the time is ripe, they say, seemingly as a side comment, “Certainly Christianity is something bad, but Jesus the Christian was all-in-all agood person.” In the first stage, that one sentence is enough. Later on comes another sentence, and then another sentence, via the slow-seepage approach.

In one place, a missionary dressed as a Lubavitcher gave some Chabad women a series of lectures on Tanach in a style that was totally Chabad. The series went on for two years without one word about Christianity, until one day he mentioned that “That Man” wasn’t so bad.

Don’t mistakenly say, “They’re Christians, not missionaries.” Every Evangelist Protestant is a missionary, even if he hides it. Also, we haven’t learned Greek, so we don’t realize that the word “evangelist” means “missionary.” At all the pro-Israel Christian marches and demonstrations, the Christian Lovers of Israel walk hand-in-hand with the missionaries. It turns out that because of the money that you receive, Jews become Christians!

There’s a settlement in Judea and Samaria that received a million dollars from them. Now, in that settlement there’s a Christian worship service in their Town Council building! A prayer service of Christian missionaries and Jews for J. – right there in the Town Council building! Nowhere is it written that the one was in exchange for the other, but that is precisely the result. Let’s not be naive.

How fortunate you are, through G-d’s grace, to have been born in Eretz Yisrael, such that you don’t know what Christians are, how they operate and how sophisticated they are. You should bone up on your history.

By the way, there are two other types of Christians. First, there are liberal Protestants. They are against the State of Israel, because we, allegedly, committed an injustice against the Arabs. Second, there are Catholics, who presently are not engaged in missionary work. Yet, they, too are against the State of Israel, because they think that they are the true Israel, and it was they who were supposed to have established the State. Right now we are talking about the Fundamentalist Protestants who love the State of Israel and who are associated with the missionaries. The common denominator is that we suffer fusillades from all of them, and not just today but throughout history.
Full Version here

Here is some of the material found in his parashah sheets that was left untranslated.

The Christian Enemy Shlomo Aviner in be AHavah ubeEmunah Av 11 5769, #727
We’ve got a long bloody score to settle with Christianity. It was Christianity that split the most Jewish blood throughout history – whether though pious Christians, less pious Christians or others infused with Christian culture. The Holocaust was the work of Germans who never denied their Christianity.
At the end of the Holocaust, the Pope turned to all the Christian rulers in the world to do all they could to prevent the establishment of the State of Israel because the whole fate of Christianity depended on this and not just his own position.
Their plans fell through but they recovered quickly. The reasoned “true, a state has risen up but it will certainly fall apart, and we will help it to do so by creating instability.
Rambam writes that the Torah consists entirely of a war against paganism (Guide to the Perplexed III:29). Christianity by contrast is pagan on the inside, Jewish on the outside.

The above stories about missionaries giving Chabad derashot as a ruse is probably fictitious, but the story below of Polish Bishops wanted to start a new papacy in 2000 is entirely fantasy.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Visit to Israel
May 12, 2009 [Talk given in the yeshiva during lunch]

But with Hashem’s kindness, we returned to Eretz Yisrael. In fact, before the establishment of the State of Israel, the Pope (Pius VII) sent a letter to all of the Christians in the world – Catholics and non-Catholics – urging them to prevent the establishment of the State of Israel because it would be the destruction of Christianity and a slap in the face to the fundamental theological principle of Christians that they are the Nation of Israel. Nonetheless, the State of Israel was established and was victorious. But they said that the State of Israel does not exist.

During the last visit of the Pope (John Paul II) in 5760, he already acknowledged the State of Israel, and many Catholic communities, such as in Poland, threatened him, that if he were to take another step in the direction of the State of Israel, they would disassociate from him and make a separate Pope.
Full Text Here

Becoming a Nun from Harvard

The fourth great awakening of the last 25 years led many to religion, but a religion that let you have your full secular suburban life at the same time. Evangelicals and Centrist Orthodox Judaism was in. Catholics did not become clergy and modern Orthodox Jews did not read the sections of the Miktav Mieliyahu against the bourgeois life. (Except for the more philosophic sections on free will).

But this year’s valedictorian at Harvard has decided to become a nun and advocates the religious vocation. Will she lead others in all faiths in the same path? Will there be a new American sense of vocation unlike the suburban models?And what effect will her exemplar play for Ivy educated Jews? I spoke at the Harvard Hillel a few years ago and there was a joint Catholic Newman society dinner with the Orthodox minyan. They shared common religious values. One of the Catholics had even listened to my revelation class online. Will she be the new Thomas Merton, or at least William F Bukelley, to influence people?

She has a nice snappy interview where she defends her decision. She notes the role her HS English teacher played as an example of synthesis and mentions that it was good that she learned the anti-religious arguments as part of her HS curriculum. (There is still the ongoing debate about the need to include Biblical criticism and arguments against religion in a Yeshiva day school curriculum, but she sees the inclusion as positive.) Is she an alternative to the Centrist Orthodox condemnation of Harvard and the ivys? This dread created alarmist warning against Harvard a few years ago which helped foster the culture of what one critic of the document called “fearful Orthodoxy.”

God and Woman at Harvard
A 2010 summa cum laude heads to a convent.

Don’t tell Mary Anne Marks the Catholic Church is an oppressive, misogynistic disaster. She knows better. And she’s got a Harvard degree, too.
Miss Marks, a native of Queens, N.Y., graduated from Harvard University this past semester with an undergraduate degree in classics and English, delivering her commencement address in Latin. This fall, she begins a new life, discerning her future consecrated to Christ as a Catholic religious sister with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, in Ann Arbor, Mich.

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: You are a Harvard graduate. Aren’t you surrendering all the possibilities that entails by entering a convent?

MARY ANNE MARKS: Yes, if one doesn’t see becoming a well-educated, intellectually alive nun as one of the possibilities.

LOPEZ: Your call was not a sudden one. You explained to a Harvard publication that you’ve “always thought about being a nun.” You grew up in Queens at the turn of the 21st century. How would you ever think of such a thing?

MARKS: Religious life is an institution thriving in our time and in our nation; go figure.

LOPEZ: Is the countercultural nature of your call important? Especially now, in this culture, in your generation?

MARKS: Absolutely. Religious are called to witness by their life and garb to supernatural realities: God’s existence, His immeasurable love for each person, and the fact that our duty and happiness lie in returning His love. This witness becomes increasingly important as a culture’s materialism and corresponding distaste for the supernatural increase.

LOPEZ: Was there anything at Dominican Academy that especially helped your spiritual growth and discernment?

MARKS: My English teacher, Mrs. Gunset, and her daily example of faith, joy, and charity inspired and encouraged me.

It is a tragic irony that Dominican Academy also helped my spiritual growth by laying before me in religion classes from the lips of my own teachers many classic arguments for relativism and Biblical fallibility. When I encountered these same ideas in college, I was prepared, because I had worked through counterarguments with my parents at home in high school.

LOPEZ: What are some of the most notable or revealing things that adults — maybe especially faculty — have said to you once they became aware of your vocational plans?

MARKS: Two of my professors told me they had siblings who had entered religious life. Another, a kind but thoroughly unsentimental professor who had been very encouraging of my intention to apply to graduate school, ended our discussion of my change of plans by opening her arms and declaring quietly, “I am going to give you a hug, because this is a big decision, and I admire you for it.” When I remarked to yet another professor on the many positive responses from faculty, he replied that he wasn’t surprised that academics could appreciate the appeal of a life of contemplation and of single-minded pursuit of a spiritual goal.

LOPEZ: Are you happy?

MARKS: Yes.

LOPEZ: For all those, younger and older than you, who are in pursuit of happiness or have given up on it: What is it and how do you hold onto it?
MARKS: Happiness is the sense of peace and joy that stems from knowledge of and union with the One Who created us and Who loves us infinitely. We will attain it fully in heaven, but we can achieve it to a significant extent beforehand by battling our desire to remain independent of God, ignoring the voices that label religion boring and unnecessary, and better acquainting ourselves with Truth through study and prayer.

— Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online.

Full Version Here

Richard Kearney, Anatheism: Returning to God after God.

The current issue of Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory has a nice online review summary of the new book by Richard Kearney, Anatheism: Returning to God after God.
Kearney is a specialist in the post-secular return to religion in Continental philosophy. He is someone whom I always read and never actually quote since his best function is to let you know what people are thinking and what is said at conferences. He is good at spotting trends, seeing convergences and somehow places the ideas of Yale, Chicago, the Sorbonne, and Oxford under one roof. He lets one see how Levinas, Ricoeur, Kristeva, and Caputo are received in the literature. His prior works include The God Who May Be and Strangers, Gods, and Monsters.

In this new book, Kearney discusses how people return to religion after modernity with a neologism of Anatheism. His model for this return is hospitality- a theme of Levinas, Derrida, and especially Ricoeur. One can get terminology from Kearney to explain much of the modern turn to Zohar mediation, or Rav Nachman.

The seven page summary review by the reviewer John Burkley is especially lucid and detailed. Below are some excerpts.

Richard Kearney, Anatheism: Returning to God after God. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010. $29.50

Anatheism is a fresh attempt to reconceive the possibility of the sacred for the 21st century, seeking a way, as the subtitle suggests, of “returning to God after God.”

So what is anatheism? Kearney describes it variously as a movement, a paradigm, an invitation, a wager, a drama; a position between, before, and beyond the division of theism and atheism; “another word for another way of seeking and sounding the things we consider sacred but can never fully fathom or prove” (p.3).
Yet it bids adieu to the God of metaphysics and traditional religion whose surname has long been “Almighty” taking seriously the critical and iconoclastic force of atheism.

Thus, anatheism works back from the experience of God-loss toward a genuine renewal of the sacred to recover forward a second, more mature faith. While insisting that anatheism is “nothing particularly new” (p.7), it seems to be of particular moment in this age where the gods have withdrawn. “Ana” – seeking ‘after’ (toward) God ‘after’ (subsequent to) the death of God.
Anatheism–seeking a rebirth of faith after the loss of faith.

The thematic core of Anatheism: Returning to God after God is the encounter with the Stranger and the event of hospitality/hostility. In this basket Kearney’s places all his eggs. While official theologies and the popular religious imagination typically emphasize stories of creation, salvation, miracles, power, or final judgment as inaugural solicitations of faith, Kearney takes up the neglected figure of the Stranger.

Abraham’s visitation by three desert strangers… an uninvited Stranger appears; in each case there is a moment of disorientation, perplexity, fear, perhaps trauma is not too strong a word; in each case the addressee must decide for or against the Stranger; in each case the host’s
welcoming of the Stranger opens from the Stranger a gesture for the promise of life, That, clumsily expressed, is the central dynamic of Anatheism, which “begins and ends with the epiphany of the divine in the face of the stranger (p. 149).

Mediation of these oppositions proceeds by way of five aspects of the anatheistic wager. One might call them interpretive attitudes or hermeneutical predispositions -imagination, humor, commitment, discernment, and hospitality–each crisply defined.

In each case, however, a reversal occurs… In the utter absence of a powerful and saving God a realization can occur that for God to be ‘we’ have to host ‘Him’, save ‘Him; if God is estranged and a stranger to this world ‘His’ coming depends our welcome.

Glossing on Ricoeur, Kearney writes, “The word of existence –which affirms the goodness of being in spite of its multiple estrangements….must be regrasped and reinstated.” The ambition of anatheism is “to disclose a site where the freedom of our will is rooted in a listening to a ‘word’ of which one is neither source nor master” (p.75).

The second half of the book (Interlude and Postlude) details the third moment of Anatheism: sacramental transformations in the everyday, mostly in secular scenes, specifically, at the levels of lived experience (Merleau- Ponty, Kristiva), literary imagination (Joyce, Proust, Woolf), and ethical-political praxis (Day, Vanier, Gandhi). Kearney puts on display a tapestry of anatheist or proto-anatheistic instances of mediation, acts of transformation, epiphanies where the secular and sacred mutually beckon and inform each other. Readers will find their own favorite and more illuminating examples.

The sacred for Kearney is “in the world but not of the world” (p.152). Hence the preference for the figure of the Stranger over a disembodied, otherworldly traditional Omni-God, and over the rather abstract and well worn master concept of postmodernism –‘the Other’.

He draws liberally on Ricoeur’s model of translation or “linguistic hospitality” defined as “the act of inhabiting the word of the Other paralleled by the act of receiving of the Other into one’s own home, one’s own dwelling.”2 Translation admits of no reduction of one language to another or to a third master language, but preserves the strangeness of the other while opening the host language to unthought possibilities.

Full review here

Any thoughts about applying anatheism to the post-secualrism all around us?
Any post-secular religious experience that you can think of that produces disorientation and perplexity?
Most important, how will the image of Abraham greeting the the visitor change religion as it replaces the sacrifice of Isaac imagery used by modernists?

Rav Yitzchak Abadi in Teaneck

For those who do not know:
Rabbi Abadi, renowned Posek, was sent at age 19 by the Chazon Ish to study in Lakewood, NJ, under the famed Rabbi Aaron Kotler. A few years after the passing of Rabbi Kotler, Rabbi Abadi became the Posek in Lakewood. And now his sons run a website Kashrut.org to answer questions- mainly of kashrut.

This past week he held four question and answer sessions in a Sephardi shtibl -Teaneck Sephardic Center/Lev Haim here in town. The turnout was surprisingly low. Mainly the Syrians of the minyan and a few old time Lakewood people. Either it was because of the poor publicity- I only found out an hour before Shababt. Or that it was not sponsored by one of the main shuls in town, or people really preferred to hear the second-tier Hesder Ram who was in town or it had no wider community support.

It was entirely q and a format but Rav Abadi managed to work-in or mention most of the pesak from the new second volume of his shut. People did not seem to know who he was. There was a clear discontent with his answers in both directions- whether lenient or strict. He told the women that they must pray 3x a day and one had a sense that they were going to go back to their own rabbis to have it reset as once a day. One Israeli of likely Moroccan descent who did not like any of this pesak – proclaimed out loud that he picks and chooses based on what he hears and finds. When Rav Abadie said that he does not allow any warming of a dry item on Shabbat even to return it to a warming tray (contra Rav Yosef), there was a clear turning away indicating that people where not going to listen.

In a conversation with a physician, Rav Abadi said that if the Talmud says that we can distinguish between blood and blood then it must be medically possible. The doctor was asking that between Rav Moshe and Rav Walenberg who both assume that there is no difference in blood and was cut off by the Rav who said of course we should be able to test.

Rav Abadi advocated his short version of Birkat Hamazon with a story under his breath about how Deal, NJ never used to say berakhot and how he got them to say it through his short version.

I was taken by his heavy Ashkenazi accent and then turned around when his citations of Mehaber were in Israeli Sefardi pronunciation.

I sat next to someone who had studied in Lakewood over twenty years ago and had remembered Rav Abadi as a caring and approachable soul. I also heard about how this former bachur went from his yeshiva life , to putting away his hat, and was now wearing a yellow sports shirt for Shabbat aft.

As a side point, someone asked about one of the less reliable hasgahahs on Manhattan restaurants. Rav Abadi obviously knew the person and deflected the question and refused to answer it. But it was interesting that in the period of deflecting hesitation over other 6 people called out that it was a Conservative rabbi so it was unreliable. Actually the rabbi in question went to all the right Ultra-Orthodox schools in Brooklyn, lived a Yeshivish life in Brooklyn, and is still Yeshivish. But it is interesting that anything that is outside the bounds of [Teaneck] Orthodox practice is called Conservative. The name serves as a demarcation of outside the lines “we wont even consider the hasgahah.” A form of assur or harem. It has nothing to do with the Conservative movement itself. The word functions like the word Gnostic in early Church writings or Papist in the mouth of Protestants.

No one in the room seemed to know of the website.