Hi, I was just your typical 19 year old Seminary girl in South Jersey (if you don't know where I mean, you are probably on the wrong blog). We all have nisoynos, challenges, and experiences, both positive and negative. Here is where I have decided to share some of them.

Location: Lakewood, New Jersey, United States

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Current Thoughts

A recent article in a local magazine called the The Voice of Lakewood, really irked me. It was a very cutesy article, that basically starts off by mentioning these 2 rather odd missionary ladies that march up and down Clifton Ave in bright red costumes and take turns screaming about the gospel Lhavdil. The article then goes on to say how different we are, in that we avoid sticking out and drawing attention to ourselves., and launches into still another diatribe about Tznius.
While, I realize that the schools, Seminaries, and homes need to shove Tznius down your throat ad-nauseum and ad-infinitum. Whenever there is a lady’s shiur in town, if you can call it that, or a gathering for the “Nashim Tzidonius” aka “The herd of docile cows”, it seems that is all that is addressed. That is irritating in and of itself, but I feel that this article crossed a line. Instead of taking this as an opportunity to point out the basic differences between Yiddishkeit and Lhavdil other things to us mere girls; the article chose instead to go into detail about not wearing red garments or attracting attention to ourselves.

It starts off by informing us that missionaries are lurking around looking to prey on innocent, vulnerable, ignorant people, but instead of arming us with the valuable info we so desperately need to deal with this threat and confront it head on, the author, instead uses it as a springboard for still another excuse to talk about hemlines and colors.

I know that many of you are thinking, that these miss. Ladies are just mishagoyim (lunatics). First of all, I highly doubt that they will successfully convert any frum Jews in Lakewood, however, even if it results in a having a momentary thought of confusion in your head that is a very serious sin. If I am not mistaken, even more severe then wearing a denim skirt. The 13 Cardinal Principles of Faith, as set down by the Rambam and others applies to men and women, equally. In fact, if you don’t know them clearly, it is tantamount to apikorous, R”L.. Secondly, 95% of American Jews are completely ignorant of their faith, and you are bound to run into one of them one day, at work, on a train, a doctor’s waiting room, the mall or what have you and you need to know how to speak intelligently about this..

Recently, I was in Brick library, near Lakewood, where I encountered two very attractive, charming young ladies .From the distance they looked exactly like Frum girls. Once, I was face to face with them, I realized that they were Christian missionaries. I thought that I knew Tanach, pretty well, cause like I learned tonz of it in High School and Sem.But these women really gave me a run for my money and made my head spin.I was left at a loss for words.
I realized from this incident, that while everyone is telling me what color stockings to wear, how to walk, how to talk, how to sit, what type of hemline and neckilne to shop for; no one is providing me with the crucial info I need to be able to defend my faith in this age when we are bombarded from all sides constantly.. It is very imperative that I have this vital knowledge for myself, as well as to disseminate to my friends, fellow students at college, people that I meet that I meet from all walks of life, and eventually, B’ezras Hashem, bkorov (with G-d’s help very soon) my own children..

To my dear teachers, I know that you think that Lakewood is a wonderfully, insulated, sealed bubble. Well, like HELLO !!, its really not.

In other news, as the new school year begins, it seems that 80 girls were not accepted into the local elementary and High Schools. While having lunch with my father at a local eatery last week, I witnessed a heated debate . . Many of the ‘tzadikim’ (SIC) in our fair town , don’t want their daughters in class together with girls who come from homes with a TV, secular magazines, OU-D products, mothers who wear short sleeves, or perish the thought, Hashem Yraheim, fathers who don’t wear white shirts. It would be hilarious, if it wasn’t so tragic. What is really ironic, is that I have witnessed firsthand, some high school-aged daughters of these very outraged fathers, in local libraries viewing websites and chatrooms, that most decent , Non-Jewish parents would not want their children in, as well as, hanging out in some rather inappropriate places. If these parents, would instead sincerely, be concerned about all the “yiddishe kinderlach” in our ‘wonderful’ community , they would have the Siyata D’Shomaya (heavenly assistance), that their children would not be doing the aforementioned things. These are not only my thoughts, my father heard this firsthand from his Rebbeim.

B”H, Reb Elyashiv and Reb Steinman, may they continue to be well and strong and guide us with their wisdom, came out with a ruling that no schools are to open until all the girls have a place to go to.

Let us hope, that this matter is resolved quickly, and all the misguided souls are granted the Daas or intelligence that they so desperately need..


Blogger AnySara said...

Well said, SG. Too much emphasis is often place on defining ourselves as "more frum than X". It's total BS - in these times, klal yisroel needs to band together even more to be a "light unto the nations"- not worry so much about what fabric one wears or the color of it.

9/11/2005 12:15 PM  
Blogger Y.Y. said...

semgirl stop complaining and start dressing naked on the street of lakewood who is holding you back???
if thats what you want to dress like the shiksas go ahead dont eat yourself daily
i do what i want in BP and noone is telling me what to do

9/11/2005 12:26 PM  
Blogger ClooJew said...

Bravo, Semgirl!

What a terrific, well written post!(And your grammar and spelling are much improved.)

I think you should plaster this up all over Lakewood as a Kol Koreih.

The position of Rav Elyahiv shlit"a and Rav Shteinman shlit"a is yet another example of what sets the Gedolim apart from all the ketanim running around.

9/11/2005 12:48 PM  
Blogger ClooJew said...

and y.y., Y do you have to be such a noodnick??

9/11/2005 12:48 PM  
Blogger Y.Y. said...

cloo jew
im telling her to do what her heart pleases how is that noodnik????

9/11/2005 12:57 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

While I agree with your assessment that instilling fundamental knowledge of Jewish beliefs should take precedence over ingraining narrow behavioral patterns, I don't think you can criticize the author of that article for taking a wrong turn on his focus. An article is like a blog- the writer can choose a springboard to write about whatever he or she wants.

That being said, as far as the main crux of your argument, you state, "I highly doubt that they will successfully convert any frum Jews in Lakewood". Based on everything I've read here, it sounds like there are quite a number of dissafected frum people in your community that would be quite susceptible to missionaries. You do a great job in your post pointing out that this threat needs to be taken seriously. Perhaps you need to look into expanding organized anti-missionary efforts to your community. After Hatzola, Chaverim, and other groups fill up their quotas, they'll be other Avreichim looking to get involved in protecting the community.

Whether in ultra-frum communities or the unaffiliated it is difficult to have our education revolve solely around anti-missionary work. There are so many facets to a Jewish education, that you can't have every school excel in every area. Are our school's a failure because we don't leave as experts in Tanach and all of Shas, masters of Sevara and basic exogesis, steeped in philosophy and Hashkafa, while at the same time pious in our accomplishment of Mussar and Middos improvement? Every Jew values some slightly different aspect of our heritage; we can't focus only on one, so our schools try and give us a basis in all. Could they do better? Possibly. But can we ask them to drop everything and just teach us to fight missionaries? That would leave us with a nice fortified wall, but with quite an empty city within. I think that a basic awareness of the missionary threat and their tactics would be more than enough for any Jew who knows what treasure he already possesses.

9/11/2005 2:14 PM  
Blogger Elisheva said...

Great post! It was well worth the wait.

I totally agree with you on the first point. I actually had a similar reaction to the same article. I was like this lady is so crazy to take something like missionaries and like think the difference between us and them is that like our girls don't wear red. Shows in what a bubble so many of our elders (and sadly some youngsters too) are living.

About the school issue, while I basically agree that the problem with schools is major and it's about time someone took it seriously, I don't think you can lump a father who (gasp!) doesn't wear a white shirt with a family that allows full acess to TV, movies, internet, etc.

Though I am writing this on a web log, I admit I don't know if I'd want my daughters to have unfettered acess to the web, which I know of families who allow it. Besides the issue is so not whether it's right or wrong. The issue is that if hundreds of families are trying to live one way, why shouldn't the one family be a mentch and tolerate that and agree not to come in and spite them all. I don't think this can be compared to familes with different tznius levels, socks or tights, white or blue shirts, etc.

So like my thoughts are mixed on this one. Shalom.

9/11/2005 2:58 PM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

a white or blue shirt has nothing to do with tznius (and according to elders i've asked) had nothing to do with it untill very very recently. (but i've quite frankly had enough about compaining about the way tznius is now for the moment)

about the missionary things if you read hebrew well, and can find a copy of kisvei ha'ramban look up the dispute in barcelona. it is also published in english under the same title, and is an excelent example of how to use knowlage of torah to twist missionaries heads in to pretzles.
(it also makes excelent spare time reading, as it is relatively light and fun to read)

that said i think you're complaint about the people not going to school is beautifull. we are told that the kinderlach should not be prevented from going to school even to build the bais ha'mikdash (and i had a rosh yeshiva who would hold school even if there would only be 4 students that day. he loved that passage.)

9/11/2005 6:30 PM  
Blogger asher said...

Have you ever thought of reading the NY Times in order to get your news? My God...anyone who thinks orthodox people are insular and self absorbed has only to read this post.

Second..good thing you went to yeshiva and seminary and couldn't best two shiksas on why jeezer is the messiah. Says alot for 12 years of education. I've had great debates with J4Js and christian missionaries all my life...have you ever heard of Aryeh Kaplan's book on how to debate a missionary...or is that on the no no list of what you are able to look at?

I used to be frum's really come to this?

9/11/2005 7:30 PM  
Blogger ClooJew said...

"Sounds like there are quite a number of dissafected frum people in your community that would be quite susceptible to missionaries.--Josh"

I, lulei demistafina, don't think so. Dissafected frum people become secular not Christian fundamentalists. We all know people who went off the derech. Does anyone know somebody who grew up frum and then converted to Christianity?

I personally think that debating missionaries, J4J, the ba'hai, et al, is a spectacular waste of time. The Ramban only did it because he had to. And then the threat was real. But even in the past, most people who converted of their own volition did so for purposes of social mobility, not because they believed in it.

Anyway, this post is really not about warding off missionaries. It's about the focus of the schools. Yeshiva and Bais Yaakov students SHOULD have the answers to these challenges and certainly should at least be familiar with the psukim being quoted.

To turn everything into a tznius-a-thon is unfortunate.

9/11/2005 8:20 PM  
Blogger Elster said...

2 points: I agree that, especially in Lakewood, the stress on wmen dressing modestly over all else is way over the top. For whatever reason, it seems as theough the community as a whole would be content with tznius women who don't know anythig else - or are at least very limited otherwise. I think that's kinda sucky.

2. The other issue that jumps out about Lakewood is the dichotomy between those who have tv's/internet/jobs and those who don't. The fact of the matter is that yes, too much tv/internet is definately bad but still - to not allow a child to play with a child because their parent have a tv or a computer is absurd.

Anyway - good post.

9/11/2005 8:31 PM  
Blogger ClooJew said...

"To not allow a child to play with a child because their parents have a tv or a computer is absurd.

Not really. Playing, lulei demistafina, the devil's advocate role (because I'm not sure how much I believe this argument myself), one could certainly hold that exposing your child to other children who have television only invites it into your child's world, albeit second-handedly. However, sometimes that's worse.

I went to elementary school with the son of a prominent Rosh Yeshiva. He had payos and no television. When he came to my house, all he wanted to do was watch TV--particularly "I Love Lucy" (we were nine!).

He is no longer a frum Jew. Ad hoc ergo propter hoc?

Fact is, if you don't want your children exposed to television, you don't want them going to school with kids whose parents think it's okay to be exposed to it. It would be an admission of "eilu ve'eilu"--that TV is not SO bad, just that some families don't happen to have them. That's not the same message as telling your kid that TV is 100% Glatt Treif.

You may not agree with the premise, but the conclusion is sound.

9/11/2005 9:32 PM  
Blogger Elster said...

Let me re-phrase a poorly thought out argument: Condemning half of your community because they have tv's/internet/women who work or wear short sleeves/ read popular fiction/ might listen to the beatles - is absurd.

9/11/2005 9:41 PM  
Blogger ClooJew said...

They're not condemning it. They're simply keeping their children away from it

...or so they think.

9/11/2005 9:53 PM  
Blogger The real me said...

Just wondering what R Elyashivs views on tznius are.

If there is really nothing wrong with TV and internet. If they were to open a school exclusively for children who don't have TV's at home would we then see a rant here about how off track your community has gone, or would you respect that?

Where I live we have a boys school and a girls school, both exclusively for kids who come from homes without TVs and internet, and whose parent all dress tzniusly.

There is no outrage at it, people respect others who want to try to keep a 100% glat frum houshold.

9/11/2005 10:13 PM  
Blogger ThinkingJew said...

Agree with CJ and TRM about it being OK to have schools on your standards. It's a free country, and others are free to have schools the way they like 'em.

The rest of the Lakewood school story is a load of bunk! It has ZREO/NADA/EFES to do with what types of girls. It's about lack of space and too few schools. I know of real ultra yeshivish families that were left out. Obviously more families left out will be less yeshivish because when schools are pressed for space they will obviously choose what is closer to their kind, but simply for lack of more space.

The Rabbis of Lakewood knew of this problem a full half year ago, WHEN AN ENTIRE HIGH SCHOOL CLOSED DOWN, and they did.... NOTHING!!!

Now they are blaming the schools who truly have no room, for their own failings in providing adequate schooling to their community. The Rabbis have done and are doing nothing to start more schools, just laying the blame at existing schools as a scapegoat. Shame on them!

9/12/2005 1:50 AM  
Blogger thekvetcher said...


9/12/2005 8:44 AM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

i personaly dont think it's ok to tell kids that tv is one hundered percent "glat treif" because quite honestly it isn't and there you are setting up a fence for nothing.

however TV is a bad influence, and it is irresponsible to alow kids to use it to excess or to watch not tzniusdik shows. perents in all honesty have to teach their kids to be accountable thats all.

9/12/2005 8:52 AM  
Blogger Elster said...


The counter argument is that once the door is opened a crack, it's ahrd to say "ok, enough. You can watch A but not B."

So I understand people not wanting TV's. But I don't understand ostracizing those who do.

9/12/2005 12:57 PM  
Blogger JewishBiFemme said...

sem great post! its a scary world out there!

halfnutcase lol I grew up with no tv I have never even watched Tv lol look at me way to open minded Id prefer to be close minded like some of my frum friends makes life easier! Its interesting how you complain or think lakewood is so ultra frum I cant even wear long skirts its very untzaniuzdik in my world lol!!!!!!!!!! so many different versions my head hurts lol! sorry for rambling! good job semgirl.

9/12/2005 1:19 PM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

bifemme: i really didn't have a clue what that rant said at all -.-;; and i've hardly watched tv in my life. probably because i only watched it when there is something i want to watch, but there is nothing on these days that i really am interested in so i haven't watched regular TV in like 8 or more years. if you don't watch TV to kill time (CHAS V'SHALOM!) then you really haven't got a problem.

9/12/2005 4:39 PM  
Blogger turquoiseblue said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/12/2005 11:03 PM  
Blogger Tova said...

Everyone I know who grew up w/o a tv went to someone's house w/ a tv and was glued to the screen while the kids who lived there went to play.

Some people I know who grew up w/ TVs don't have them now, and their kids do the same.

I grew up w/ a tv, have a tv, and my kids watch PBS shows or the videos that I bought. Sure, they're still little, but when we turn off the tape and the TV plays, we turn it off because it's "not for kids." Finished. Parents should set limits, not schools.

And all the "frummer than you" schools in Brooklyn have "no TV" rules...but most of the kids attending these schools watch TV anyway. So they're being taught to lie/be two-faced/do one thing at home but not at school. Sickening.

And the stress on tznius is also drives me crazy.

9/12/2005 11:05 PM  
Blogger Pragmatician said...

If missionaries were to approach me I'd try to stay away from hem, but if this wouldn't be an option I know I wouldn't start a debate with them, ‘cause I’m realistic enough to k,now I'll be out-knowledged.
While you may have learned some Tanach, 3 years in Yeshiavh Ketana and I didn't get further than Yehoshua.

9/13/2005 11:16 AM  
Blogger YM said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/13/2005 3:31 PM  
Blogger YM said...

Why would someone want to watch TV? Usually because they are bored and/or tired and find TV entertaining. Why would someone avoid TV? Because the realize for themselves that the values and ideas and images expressed and transmitted through the TV and the time spent watching TV pulls them away from Hashem and they want to be as close to Hashem as possible.

A person who doesn't feel that TV pulls them away from Hashem or who feels so distant from Hashem that they don't think that avoiding TV will make a difference, will only resent it if other people try to force their TV abstention (probably sic) practices onto them. Same thing with Tzinus dress, etc.

I bless all of us that we should want to be close to Hashem and that we should keep searching for the emes, in the world and in our hearts.

9/13/2005 3:38 PM  
Blogger Tova said...

I'm not necessarily saying that TV's great; I'm saying that schools shouldn't tell parents what to do. Trust us to know what's appropriate for our kids.

9/13/2005 10:11 PM  
Blogger ClooJew said...

"Schools shouldn't tell parents what to do. Trust us to know what's appropriate for our kids."--Tova

The schools are not, lulei demistafina, telling parents what to do; they are simply deciding the makeup of their own student bodies. The parents who want TVs are free to start schools that are TV-friendly.

Having said that, I will say this: Schools are there to educate the kids, not to follow the whims and dictates of the parents. I come from a long line of educators, and I can tell you that while the school system isn't perfect, the parent body is far worse.

People who don't want the schools to educate their kids the way the SCHOOL sees fit, can find another school or, heaven forfend, homeschool.

9/14/2005 12:58 AM  
Blogger yosefab said...

I sent my comments via e mail to your e mail address

9/14/2005 10:48 AM  
Blogger yosefab said...

I e mailed ny comments to your e mail address

9/14/2005 10:49 AM  
Blogger Semgirl said...

Thanks Yosefab.

When things quiet down in email, I will respond to the rest of the comments..

Thank you..

9/14/2005 2:29 PM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

but a school or system that has a kind of "monopoly" on a certain area would have an obligation not to just make bullying and blanketing statements no?

9/14/2005 2:42 PM  
Blogger Tova said...

ClooJew said: People who don't want the schools to educate their kids the way the SCHOOL sees fit, can find another school or, heaven forfend, homeschool.

There is no school in Flatbush that I know of that's doing a good job for the "middle of the road frum" these days. There's a variety of people in Flatbush, but every school has gotta be frummer than the next, and no one is starting a school for normal frum people who aren't right wing or don't want to move to Teaneck or Long Island. Why?! I thought I was sending my daughter to a "middle of the road" school, but it's turning right, too.

And do you seriously think homeschooling is the answer? I'm might actually do a better job w/ my kid, and I wouldn't have to fight the blatant racism and supremacist attitudes and chumradika rules prevalent in yeshivishe schools. But my kid would have no friends, because who would let their kids play with mine; "she doesn't even go to school!!"

9/14/2005 6:51 PM  
Blogger ClooJew said...

Tova, No one told you to live in Flatbush.

If your child's education is that important to you--and it should be--move. Chinuch for your kids should not be the main factor in choosing a community, it should be the only factor.

First, there's Monsey, which has at least two elementary school yeshivos with a broad (for Orthodoxy) spectrum of kids. Neither one forbids TV, thought they both discourage it.

Second, if Monsey is too frum, there's Bergenfield and the creme de la creme of elementary school yeshivos--Y.N.J.

If there were enough parents who felt like you do, the schools would be there. And if they're not, it's up to the parents to build them. It's so strange that people blame "the system" when there's no Jewish Board of Education setting curricula for the schools from on high.

9/14/2005 10:09 PM  
Blogger brianna said...

Excellent post.

Look I don't know why you insist on remaining in such a messed up place. Would you want to raise your kids amongst such idiocy? What ties you to Lakewood? You're an adult.

9/14/2005 11:24 PM  
Blogger daat y said...

you are presenting an entire new .appropriate attitude.As you stated elsewhere 'don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.Criticize where appropriate.In other areas however even Gedolim can be wrong.

9/14/2005 11:42 PM  
Blogger Tova said...

ClooJew said: If there were enough parents who felt like you do, the schools would be there. And if they're not, it's up to the parents to build them. It's so strange that people blame "the system" when there's no Jewish Board of Education setting curricula for the schools from on high.

I don't want to leave Flatbush; our families are here. I grew up here and don't want to leave. You say people should build the schools; instead, they're complaining to each other and doing nothing about it, just teaching kids the "do this when you're not in school" thing I despise.
And there is a BJE, and the Torah UMesorah maybe, that decides the "frummer than you" rules.

9/15/2005 2:22 PM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...


why not find all the perents who have to do the two-faced thing and ask them to figure out a middle of the road school? mabye there are enough to fund one. we do find in perkei avos does teach that if there isn't anyone reputible than you should strive to be that way. (the if there are no men then strive to be a man comment)

9/15/2005 2:38 PM  
Blogger Elster said...


Reread your ast comment. You are stating alot of opinion as fact and oversimplifying a very complicated issue. Not like you

9/15/2005 2:56 PM  
Blogger ClooJew said...

Tova--the hypocricy you describe ("do this when you're not in school") is most pronounced, lulei demistafina, in the communities where people won't leave despite the chinuch issues.

Darn shame, that.

As for your contention that "there is a BJE," please direct me to their offices--I'd love to pay a visit. But trust me, it ain't Torah Umesorah.

Elster, where have I stated "opinion as fact"? Okay, so maybe YNJ isn't the BEST school out there. But it's pretty close.

9/15/2005 8:18 PM  
Blogger Limey2001 said...

cloo, you are as always right on the money..."They're not condemning it. They're simply keeping their children away from it

...or so they think"
Been there done that

Best line i ever heard "you'd be surprised how many people are still frum just to get their kids into school"
which in my opinion is still good even if it's hypocritical

9/16/2005 10:15 AM  
Blogger ClooJew said...


Unfortunately, for most, lulei demsitafina, that attitude won't work. Children don't respect hypocricy. I see many of these kids growing up into the same empty shells their parents are.

Perhaps, they will do away with the shell also and then be available for kiruv!

9/16/2005 12:50 PM  
Blogger Limey2001 said...

Semgirl, here's a dvar torah to say at the table this week ;<}
For Hashem, your G-d, walks in the midst of your camp…so your camp shall be holy, so that He will not see a shameful thing among you. (23:15)

It is related that during the first Kenessiah Gedolah, which took place in Vienna in 1923, the assemblage included most of the gedolei Torah, prominent Torah leaders, of that generation. The Chafetz Chaim, zl, also attended and served as the unofficial head of the assembly. Prior to the Kenessiah, the Chafetz Chaim asked Agudath Israel's rabbinic leadership to meet with him in his hotel room. He said the following: "Rabbosai, my friends, there are gathered here rabbanim from all lands to seek counsel and initiate programs for the physical and spiritual improvement of our brethren. We must acknowledge and never forget the pasuk in Devarim 23:15 in which the Torah clearly states that Hashem walks in our midst to save and sustain us only as long as He does not note any moral deficiencies among us. If, however, there is ervas davar, moral degeneration, within our midst, we are driving Hashem away." The Chafetz Chaim continued, "What good are meetings and conventions with their broad declarations if we are deficient in the area of tznius, moral modesty? Hashem will leave our midst, and we will be the cause! If we will make tznius a priority, we will maintain Hashem's Presence among us and guarantee our success in all areas."

At that Kenessiah, the men had assembled on the main floor of a large auditorium. The women's section was in an area of the second floor, above the men. There was, however, no partition between them. In other words, those standing on the first floor, albeit separated from the women, were still able to see them from afar. This troubled the Gerrer Chassidim who refused to allow their Rebbe to enter the auditorium unless curtains were put up to separate the women from the men.

There were those who contended that since there was a separation in place and the women were on a higher plateau than the men, it was sufficient, so that a curtain was an unnecessary inconvenience. Understandably, each of the two sides was quite adamant in its position. Yet, calm and intelligence reigned, and the decision was made to abide by the sage advice that the saintly Chafetz Chaim would render. The Chafetz Chaim listened to the arguments and said, "Halachically, the separation is fine. Since there are those who seek to be stringent in a matter regarding moral purity, however, we should make every effort to acquiesce to their demands. After all, this is what determines Hashem's Presence in our midst. Why would we want to drive Him away? In fact, we should certainly implement every hiddur, meticulous adherence to halachah, that we are able. We need Hashem's help, and this will catalyze it!"

This story was related by the founder and Rosh Hayeshivah of Mir in America, Horav Avraham Kalmanowitz, zl. His son, Horav Shraga Moshe, zl, supplemented the story saying, "The Chafetz Chaim taught us a novel idea. Until now, a person might postulate that Hashem is either in our midst, or He is not. The Chafetz Chaim taught us that there are distinct levels to Hashem's relationship with us. When one increases his level of hiddur of the mitzvah of v'lo yeraeh, "so that He will not see," he will increase Hashem's closeness to us accordingly. If, on the other hand, he diminishes his level of adherence in areas of moral purity, he is distancing Hashem from us.

9/18/2005 9:56 AM  
Blogger Limey2001 said...

9/18/2005 10:09 AM  
Blogger Ben Sorer Moreh said...


I've been very moved and concerned by your last few posts and have even wanted to write a post of my own inspired by them. I'm overwhelmed by work and family stuff right now, so I'll just offer a short comment, (lulai demimoore).

You're picking up on a lot of emphasis in your community and your life on suppressing the physical and the sexual, especially among females. IMHO, perhaps this is because you are at a stage where you are "finding yourself" in this area, which is (or should be) a normal part of human development. People should be able to feel good about themselves, even celebrate it. That a group of mostly men have made suppression of these feelings their number one priority leaves me to wonder what hidden issues they're struggling with. This "tznius" thing seems to have turned into a very untzniusdike fetish.

You make me think of people like "Elky and Frimcha" on the one hand and "Shtreimel" and "Hasidic Rebel" on the other. The former decided that they want a different life, but did it too soon in life, without a full education, too young to work or make legal decisions. The latter locked themselves in with home and family and can't easily change. You, on the other hand are at a perfect time. Girls your age are typically away at college or preparing for a life on their own in some other way. They're experimenting with lifestyle, dress, philosophy, etc. You, on the other hand are trying to express yourself a little, but back off at the last minute. You gou out with men who appeal to you but turn them away because you're afraid of what your dad will say. SG, this is your moment, you will never get another one quite like this one. What do *you* want from life? How do *you* want to dress? How sexual do *you* want to be? Do *you* want to marry now? Do *you* want to date? Whom do *you* want to date or marry?

Personal story: When I graduated HS, I went on to local college. My father told me that he expected me to go to "bet midrash" by day. I signed up for one, knowing that they wouldn't let me go to college for a year, when they found out I was going, they suggested that I find another. I went to the next place and they insisted that I go to college only two nights a week and stay at a night seder the other two. I had no real interest and wasted days there and also didn't get much studying done. It wrecked my grades in college and took down my self-confidence for a long time. Eventually, I started playing hookey from yeshivah and was asked to leave. I then signed on to a place that studied from 9-1, though my parents tried to pretend that I was going 9-5. Lost interest in that too and eventually became a full-time college student, paying my own way. Bottom line, had I not been so nice and said from the start "I've had enough of yeshivah, I want to live my way", it would have saved everyone a lot of grief.

So give it some serious thought. You're an adult now with adult opportunities. You can get a job or take out a student loan. This may be the last time in your life that you can make decisions without the obligations of husband and kids. Make the best of it.

Shanah tovah

9/18/2005 4:46 PM  
Blogger ClooJew said...


Sounds to me, lulei demistafina, that you're missing the point.

You draw a straight line from two girls who couldn't change their lifestyle because of age to two men who couldn't do it because of wife and kids.

But you are assuming that girls like Semgirl are looking to "experiment" and make changes in violation of halachah.

That's not the case here, nor is it, lulei demistafina, for the bulk of yeshiva guys and girls. They simply want to understand what the rules are and where they come from. They want to understand them better, because they believe in those rules and want to live their lives according to those rules.

I'm certainly not talking about everyone (loc cit. Bleemy). But I believe Semgirl will correct me if I'm wrong about her.

(demimoore! you're a riot!)

9/18/2005 7:50 PM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

i think cloojew is right here, and in addition, sometimes people don't want to scrap the system, or yes they want to expirament alittle but only with in the confines of halacha. our current black and white rules concerning teenage boys and girls are, in my thoughts, one of the biggest reasons for the number of boys becoming frei today. not to say they should allow them to do anything they want, be we should allow our teens to figure out how they "fit" with halacha, and where the standards need to be set for them.

sorry, long rant


9/18/2005 8:14 PM  
Blogger ClooJew said...

Right on.

I just got back from the gym and set next to two guys in the locker room--one a chasid and the other a frei Israeli with tatoos. When the chasid had left (wishing us both a gut voch), the Israeli turned to me and said, "You know, I grew up just like him." He was a product of Kiryat Sanz.

It's unfortunate that the middle ground, lulei demistafina, is so shaky.

9/18/2005 8:28 PM  
Blogger Elisheva said...

Limey, tznius is very nice and important. I don't think that men focusing all day on tznius for girls is very tzniusdik. If the men would focus on general ruchnios, like maybe then everyone would be more kadosh and more tznius. But if the men like all day talk about ladies clothing and fashions this is so untznius and brings down kedusha, so like maybe that's why things aren't so good on the tznius front.

I totally agree with CJ and HNC that Ben is off track. Most of the youger crowd today is rejecting the rigidness and hysteria of some of our teachings, not the whole thing. We (or at least I) so appreciate Torah living and stuff, just want to know how it is supposed to be done for real, not to make somone else feel good. If it wasn't for you Ben, okay, but lots of others are just looking for a stable middle.


9/18/2005 9:18 PM  
Blogger Tova said...

Everyone's too scared to find an "official" middle ground, apparently, so we're stuck going along with the frummer than you garbage or going to the "modern" school and wrecking the shidduchim for younger siblings.

And I totally agree that the unexplained rigidity in rules that are outside halachah are what push kids outside of frumkeit. Or outside halachah, because they think if they break a school rule they might as well break others, since they're punished with expulsion either way.

Btw, I'm not trying to push the boundaries of halachah, I'm trying to stay in them...but not follow chumras and bans that make no sense.

9/18/2005 10:40 PM  
Blogger Ben Sorer Moreh said...

HNC, CJ & Elisheva, SG *is* experimenting. There's a world of behavior and thought that SG is struggling with which has nothing to do with violating halachah (and some that probably does). The specific example I cited is her rejection of a guy she liked based on what (she thought) her father would say. Where in halachah does it say that an adult woman must marry the guy that (she thinks) her father wants her to? Re-read my post. Lulai defacto, all I was saying is that she has the right and obligation to think for herself, not for her father and certainly not for me.

Of course, the "middle ground" is shaky, because people like you have been conditioned to group everything but "the right" together as a universe of depravity and corruption, the more to suppress any independent tendencies in people.

BTW, lulai degeneres, "bleemie" is not a real person. It's a fictitious 'blog intended to parody real people who are struggling with (or have struggled with) real issues, to paint them as boorish hedons and porno fiends. To "pooh-pooh" the real concerns of people like SG, and you Elisheva.

9/18/2005 10:56 PM  
Blogger Semgirl said...

That maybe true about the actual Bleemy blog. However, there is a real girl behind the blog. She emails me daily and we are very close. She is totally different than her blog.

9/19/2005 12:14 AM  
Blogger Elster said...

Note: You were quoted at

Scroll down to the third post. Sorry if you've seen this already.

9/19/2005 4:56 PM  
Blogger ClooJew said...

Ben, for a nineteen-year-old to be concerned with what her father--who is older and hopefully wiser--thinks, does not negate "independent" thinking.

I also don't believe, lulei demistafina, that people are as scared as Tova thinks they are. There's nothing wrong with taking community and family mores into consideration when making decisions. I do agree, however, that one must draw the line at damaging her own neshama--e.g., by going to an "inferior" school--in order to protect the "reputation" of younger siblings.

I can tell you for a fact that I have attended certain yeshivos, which while making me a better Jew, also destroyed some very promising shidduch opportunities. Oh well.

In terms of being overly machmir--there is that problem of Chava and the snake. He convinced her to eat the fruit because touching the tree didn't harm her like she thought it would. There can be, lulei demistafina, slippery slopes. But not all chumros are.

The key to a real syag is whether it protects you from the hole or just creates a larger hole to fall into (bsheim Rav Shimon Schwab, zt"l)

9/19/2005 5:37 PM  
Blogger Ha-historion said...


9/19/2005 6:45 PM  
Blogger Ha-historion said...

Rav Elyashiv guides us with his wisdom bla bla bla

I have no respect for a man who sold out 10,000 jews of gush katif just for bribes from that fat pig sharon for his yeshivas.

p.s. I live in Lakewood.

9/19/2005 6:47 PM  
Blogger Semgirl said...

CJ :

Thanks I didn't and probably wouldn't if you didn't point it out..


Could you please refrain from talking against Gedolim on my blog during Elul..

9/19/2005 8:35 PM  
Blogger Ha-historion said...

"Gedolim" is relative. But i shall respect your wishes.

9/19/2005 11:51 PM  
Blogger Limey2001 said...

Elisheva,lulei demistafina it's the women educators which take tznius to the level you and SG refer. About men thinking about all day? perish the thought, men don't think.... let alone all day.
Rigidity and hysteria comes from the urgency to repair the levee breach (to borrow from current events).. knee jerk reaction.
What a shame
Steven like it or not HrH"g R' Eliyashiv is the godol hador and posek hador and talking about a godol like that is uncalled for and disgusting and it's people like you that bring about the "breaches" in society i guess you are proof Moshiach is coming.. (see talmud Sota 49a...)

9/20/2005 11:17 AM  
Blogger Frummer????? said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/20/2005 12:42 PM  
Blogger Semgirl said...

limey..with all due respect, you obvioulsy don't know my father and his companions .. A day does not go by without him criticizing what I am wearing, how I walk, how I talk.. etc...

9/20/2005 12:46 PM  
Blogger Frummer????? said...

We now have the same problem in Stamford Hill!

Here's what I made of it!

9/20/2005 12:46 PM  
Blogger Ha-historion said...

Limey, He's your gadol hador and hes your posek hador. No chabadnik, (most) sefardi or (most) dati leumi or even most chasidim or that matter consider him that. And besides I thought Judaism is about worshipping God, not learned old men.

9/20/2005 12:57 PM  
Blogger Semgirl said...

Ok … catch up day..

Elisheva: Maybe I wasn’t clear. The point that I was making was that TV is clearly not the same as short sleeves and blue shirts, but if you aren’t concerned about all the girls, INCLUDING the TVs, you wont have Siata D’Shomaya for your own children..

CJ: You are totally on target once again..

Real Me: Sounds like you live in a small Collel town with all model Yungerleit. What happens when your community grows beyond and some families are only 99% Glatt. Do you tell them to send their children to PS.

TB: All the power to you. I hope it works out for you.

HNC: “Find all the parents doing the two-face thing” Easier said than done.

Tova: I agree with you totally.. Call a girl “bummy” for wearing a denim skirt, and listening to American music on the radio. And she will become BUMMY with a N-Jewish BF in a N-Jewish place..

Ben: To be fair, it wasn’t a Shidduch-date for marriage . Do I agree with my father, seldomly. But he still has the right to be concerned about this..

9/20/2005 2:05 PM  
Blogger Semgirl said...

No one is talking about worshipping old learned men, just speaking with respect.

9/20/2005 2:10 PM  
Blogger Ha-historion said...

Its difficult to respect someone who seemingly sells for political revenge.

Lets be honest here, its either R elyashiv or his advisors who are egging him on . Why did he join sharon's gov. while knowing full well that sharon had a majority to further his sinister plans?

It looks like pure political revenge against the religious zionist party for snubbing aguda and joining up with shinui ( a plague on all of the above).

in Hebrw we say. Gam hem yecholim lesachek politikaim ketanim.

9/20/2005 2:35 PM  
Blogger ThinkingJew said...

Steven, your last comment is full of "seemingly" and "looks like."

I have learned one thing: Anyone who thinks that from reading newspaper reports and hearing fifth-hand stories he knows the whole story of political intrigue, is very, very small-minded indeed.

You obviously have an agenda, but more than that, all you do is sputter, no substance, no proofs. So in that case, wise men would keep quiet.

9/20/2005 2:48 PM  
Blogger Ha-historion said...


I dont believe in conspiracy theories.

It is clear to me as day that people who are very close to R elyashiv absolutely despise the religious zionists (efrati who tries to atone for his past sin of being a mizrachinik) To me its a simple equation. That having been said ,it is possible that the Rabbi was misled by said advisers.

9/20/2005 2:55 PM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

steven, i think sem girl kindly wants you to stop spreading lashon hara, and or motzei shaim ra. (aka stop putting people down!)

i know its easier said than done, and its really sad. to bad we cant just do that

9/20/2005 5:48 PM  
Blogger Ha-historion said...

I'd love to sit around a fire with a guitar and sing kumbaya with EVERYONE. But the sad facts are there are certain people in certain circles who are responsible for a great amount of heartache and suffering caused to thousands of Jews over the last months.

9/20/2005 6:21 PM  
Blogger Semgirl said...

Exactly, and the greatest amount of sorrow and heartache comes as a result of Loshon Hora, especially if it is about Torah Scholars..

9/20/2005 6:32 PM  
Blogger The real me said...

I happen to live in a nice size part of brooklyn, there are main stream schools, then there are the 100% glat schools.

The 290 Million NIS to r' elyashivs party is not fiction. Being that we are in Elul I will refrain from saying more.

9/21/2005 3:38 PM  
Blogger Semgirl said...

"there are main stream schools, then there are the 100% glat schools. "

Thats my point..there are schools to accomodate ppl who think they are 100% Glatt and there are Schools for the rest of us.. In Lakewood there aren't.

9/21/2005 5:00 PM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

that's really sad. there should be a school where every one can go. as long as they all teach you to get along with each other.

(ahavas yisroel)

9/21/2005 8:21 PM  
Blogger Limey2001 said...

SG: Lakewood does have a serious problem where there is no "middle ground" school, it only really became a middle ground place recently. Now that bezalel has been marginalized even the modern orthodox have nowhere to go and sadly end up in PS or solomon schecter, or travel to shalom.
But, SG, even if there was a school would your father send you there? I think not. Too worried about your shidduch etc.
ps. i know your father and his companions ... been there done that... I live here too ;-}

9/22/2005 10:08 AM  
Blogger Semgirl said...

Fortunately, I am way past School age.. But I am still concerned about the children being pushed out.

I met a lady the other day, whose husband is one of the biggest baalei Tzodoka I know.

Their son is currently attending PS in Freehold, because no one would take him..

9/22/2005 10:26 AM  
Blogger ClooJew said...


That is, lulei demistafina, very sad.

Why is PS better than Shalom Torah Centers?

9/22/2005 1:30 PM  
Blogger turquoiseblue said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/22/2005 1:50 PM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

it happened to me, and it does happen often, i know certain chassidic rebbeim had to actualy order the roshei yeshivos of their schools to accept people even if they didn't have enough, and to find money to compensate for what they don't pay.

9/22/2005 2:38 PM  
Blogger Semgirl said...

No, actually I was very serious, TB. And its not a money issue, as they are quite wealthy. They are simply from the old school MO crowd. So, there is no longer a place for them . She doesn't always cover her hair and wears short sleeves, so none of the schools accepted him.

Actually, I thought of Shalom T Schools, as I was writing my last comment. I don't know, I only had a 5 minute conv. with her.

9/22/2005 4:32 PM  
Blogger Elster said...


The five town issue raises a different problem altogether: How can the jewish community as a whole be just ignoring an issue which threatens tens of thousands of jewish families - the outrageously high price of yeshiva tuition. It's unfathamable how in many areas (New York, Long Island, New Jersey) it can cost $15,000 to send a kid to school. $15,000!!! Per kid!!!! If you have 4 do the math.

I also have a theory why this problem is so universally ignored. To me, it's very simple. The people who make things happen, who drive the causes, who shoulder the burdens, are the wealthy and powerful. The wealthy and powerful can have kids who go off the derech or do drugs - thus we hear much talk of KIDS IN CRISIS. A rich man could have a daughter who isnt getting married. Thus, there is much talk of the SHUDDUCH CRISIS.

BUT, a rich man's daughter will always be able to go to school. Thus, no crisis.

9/22/2005 4:43 PM  
Blogger Elisheva said...

Elster, that is an amazing and scary thought.

9/22/2005 6:43 PM  
Blogger Elster said...

I'm an amazing and scary guy

9/22/2005 9:13 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

Sorry to play the outsider, but I'm confused. Is the crisis that there isn't enough room in schools, so otherwise eligible students are turned away by full enrollment? Or is the problem that Machmirdike schools are being overly zealous of who does and does not meet the criteria for admission, thereby leaving out absolutely frum people who just happen to know who Kanye West is?

The solutions are absolutely different.

9/22/2005 9:49 PM  
Blogger ClooJew said...


That actually is, lulei demistafina, a terrific point.

9/23/2005 12:39 AM  
Blogger Elster said...

I have my (rare) moments.

9/23/2005 9:23 AM  
Blogger Limey2001 said...

Josh: In lakewood they are BOTH huge problems

9/23/2005 3:29 PM  
Blogger Jew Speak said...

SemG, take a look at Why The
Jews Don't Believe In Jesus
and you will be able to answer them =)

9/24/2005 4:26 PM  
Blogger Semgirl said...

Thank You very speak.. JS

9/24/2005 10:18 PM  
Blogger ThinkingJew said...

Josh, everyone is mixing this up. You are perceptive to get this. There is absolutely over-full enrollment in Lakewood. And the askanim are doing ZERO to solve this besides the easy way out of keeping on pressuring the schools way beyond their capabilities.

Obviously since some just have to be sent away for lack of space, it will end up that the ones accepted are closer to the existing crowd. That's how it works. It cannot be compared to if there would be room. No one can know what would be then. And as of yet, not one askan has yet tried. They just keep blaming the existing schools.

9/24/2005 11:15 PM  
Blogger Mata Hari said...

wow! kudos to you for getting 90 now 91) comments on your post.
i don't think it's wise to engage in debates with missionaries. this is what they do - this is what they're trained for - so they'll be armed with specious arguments and a lot of quotes that are hard to counter unless you're extremely, extremely learned.
re mixing kids from diff types of homes in classes - i understand why people want to shelter their children, but i'm considered that we're becoming more and more narrow minded, judgmental and insular. the "middle of the road" of years past seemed to be more sane and workable. but i guess everyone thinks that where they are is "normal".

9/24/2005 11:35 PM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

they also now seem to think that they are the only acceptable norm...

9/25/2005 10:09 AM  
Blogger Josh said...

Thanks ThinkingJew. Am I the only one who is going to ask the tough question- In a community built around learning in Kollel, is anyone surprised that there isn't enough money to just create or expand the schools?

New schools are a lot more expensive than squeezing more kids in old schools. With most of the population relying on learning stipends for sustenance, with possibly just some part time work to round out their diet, the problem won't be so simple to solve. And also explains why for many, the alternative is public school, which is free, rather than busing to other communities. Jewish schools are burdensomely expensive, even to professional folk. I would think the Rabbonim would have to start sending out their Meshulachim to raise funds for new schools, or at least release some of their Avreichim to get jobs. You can't villify the scruples of a family who wants to be able to afford an education for their children.

Two side-points, as far as schools excluding those that don't meet rigid, unhalachic rules, that is their prerogative. If the Rabbonim in charge feel that it adds to the Chinuch they provide, then that is their opinion. Hopefully, they are taking into account the future of those they exclude. But those that don't meet the narrow rules have choices - the ability to adopt the strictures, or found new schools. I would think that the Rabbonim that ban them from their own schools might actually encourage them, if for no other reason than to keep those kids away from their own.

And TJ, I'm not familiar with the term "Askan." I assume it's somebody who's Osek B'Tzarchei Tzibur. Why do you keep referring to the Askanim that don't do anything? Why aren't you an Askan?

9/25/2005 5:27 PM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

isn't a person who follows "un-halachic" chumros considered an "am ha'aretz"? forget where that is from but it's certainly powerfull words on behalf of chazal about this kind of thing.

(just remembered, it's in artscrolls midrash says, i think in lech lecha but i'm not sure)

9/25/2005 8:08 PM  
Blogger ClooJew said...


Lakewood is, lulei demistafina, no longer a simple kollel town. It is full of baalei batim, some of whom are extremely wealthy (some of whose wealth came from buying up real estate in and around Lakewood), so I'm not sure that wealth is the problem.

Is that accurate, semgirl?

9/25/2005 9:10 PM  
Blogger Semgirl said...

CJ.. When I saw Josh's comment an hour or so ago, I was thinking that very thought..

My real life rudely intruded, so you beat me to it..

You are absolutely right..

9/25/2005 10:42 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

That is a scary thought then, if there is enough finances theoretically for a new school, and yet one still seems beyond the horizon. Are people afraid that if they start a new school, their kids won't get good Shidduchim? In addition to money, starting a new school takes great leadership. Are they so short on this in Lakewood?

9/26/2005 6:55 AM  
Blogger Limey2001 said...

SG: Its gonna get alot worse now.... Tuesday night there is gonna be a speech by Rabbis Solomon, Kotler And Wachsman(monsey)...."ISH BAAL YEHDAR"(no-one dare miss) All gloves off against the internet. Schools are going to be forced to adopt some sort of policy to outlaw "ALL" home internet and is someone "needs" it for work at home, some sort of central database, JNET or the like.... I'm looking forward to a good blog piece on it...

9/26/2005 10:33 AM  
Blogger Semgirl said...

Limey and anyone else on that topic:

The joke is that at least if you have it in your house, like your father could just put on special softrware, to at least see every email, IM, chat, or BLOG (sic) you have wrote..

Whereas, all the girls (and boys) are in the libraries in the aternoon using the internet with total hefkerus.. And me and most of my friends have laptops with cell-modems. So, like either say OSUR..OSUR completely and force the good and semi-good ones to rebel or come to terms with living a Yiddishe life in the 21st century..

9/26/2005 10:57 AM  
Blogger Elster said...

Luckily, it's simple to be a good jew. Just assur everything and avoid all who disagree with you. That's the Chicago way. (Film reference, I'm not blasting Chicago).

9/26/2005 12:15 PM  
Blogger ClooJew said...

While they face, lulei demistafina, an uphill battle, I think we need to show a bit more reverence for these Rabbonim.

No one can deny the dangers of the internet. Just read this blog and you see how many men hit on semgirl and elisheva. These girls seem to be able to handle themselves, but we all know that there are others who can't or don't.

The internet is the perfect venue for young Jews, who would otherwise feel too awkward to approach the opposite sex, to start relationships that can lead them to sin or other troubles.

Granted, a ban in the home won't stop what goes on in the libraries, but it's a start and sends a strong message to parents to be careful.

9/26/2005 1:24 PM  
Blogger Mata Hari said...

I think it would be a good idea for some of the parents to get on the internet and do some surfing, visit some blogs, just to get a sense of what it's all about. So many people over a certain age who haven't been exposed to computers are clueless about what they're used for. I've mentioned the word blog to many people who all ask me what it is.

9/26/2005 1:56 PM  
Blogger Limey2001 said...

CJ: a'nna demistifina, i have the utmost respect for our Rabonim and did not mean to disparge them in any way.
Lakewood is definitely not the kollel town it once was (20 years ago if you saw a man in the street past 10am you wished him Mazal tov)
They are starting new schools every year but not for the MO or "less frum" crowd.
Buildings and land required for a school are scarce which makes the task of opening a school Daunting to say the least.
Money is not the issue and Le'aniyas Dayti not why the schools closed either.
SG: lulei d, They are trying to keep it away from the school aged kids not post sem s(yet)
ps. the library is next (the mashgiach has it on his itinerary)

9/26/2005 4:31 PM  
Blogger Elster said...


My comments were not aimed at the Rabbonim, but the "follower sect" who believe that propoer yiddishkiet can only be practiced by layering machmirim on top of each other.

Also, lulei demistafinah, rabbonim are sometimes not immune to being swayed by people without looking issues for themselves. They are busy people and sometimes rely (to the bad) on the advice of others.

I'm not saying that is what is going on here, but some of the literature that comes out of Lakewood (SG and Elisheva have alluded to this) is pretty close minded stuff). And it usually has the haskama of these rabbonim.


9/26/2005 4:36 PM  
Blogger Elisheva said...

Okay, wow! SG, congrats on the great discussion and over 100 comments.

The school prob is def not money. I don't understand why others don't like open new schools.

I will admit the internet has pretty bad stuff. Thanks CJ for your vote of confidence for me and SG, but there is alot I don't show on my blog. While I don't think banning it will work or is necessarily advisable, I think it would be much smarter like to just educate parents and everyone about what is and isn't out there, and like how to keep on top of where your kids are surfing and stuff.


9/26/2005 6:40 PM  
Blogger ClooJew said...

At the risk of sounding, lulei demsitafina, like the right-wing nut of the group, what exactly do you hope to accomplish by "educating" the parents?

The fact is that the internet is a dangerous place. Even if parents were made aware of all its benefits--which I'm sure most of them are already--it doesn't mean they will be able to stop their kids from going to unwanted sites and starting unwanted "friendships."

Monitoring them is an exceptionally difficult task.

9/26/2005 9:05 PM  
Blogger Tova said...

Educating parents about internet and kids is much more useful than another stupid blanket ban. Each ban weakens the one before it, because there were what, 10 bans in 6 months this year?

9/26/2005 10:45 PM  
Blogger turquoiseblue said...

So you live in a town that will make you "take an oath" not to have internet access in the shape/form you currently have it, and while you agree 100% with the potential dangers of the internet - and definitely do not expose the kids to it - yet you do not want to change to Jnet etc as the Rabbonim demand.

(right or wrong... now this here really should be a whole other blog topic - SG? - but the truth is - the internet is potentially dangerous for adults in many ways -just as much as for kids... and I will be the first one to admit it... but putting that aside right now...)

What would YOU do?

9/26/2005 11:33 PM  
Blogger Mata Hari said...

cloo - re educating the parents - i think the benefit is that then it's demystified...the parents and kids share a frame of reference. if they can discuss it rationally and the parent can say i prefer you stay away from such and such..., at least they're sharing a vocabulary and they know what they're talking about. i can't think of a really good analogy (my brain is foggy from lack of sleep after a late wedding last night), but it's somewhat like the parents who read the Harry Potter books along with their younger kids so they understand what all the fuss is about and can "get it" when they mention dumbledore or muggles. as you say, they can't be monitored 24x7 and if they want to get access they will find a way, but i think that if the parents discuss it with them (and know what they're talking about), the kids may think twice.

9/27/2005 7:28 AM  
Blogger ClooJew said...


If the town follows its rabbanim and you don't want to be that strict, you have to find yourself another town or risk being an outcast, lulei demistafina.

I don't know why people would move to Lakewood and then complain about the religiosity (fair or otherwise) of the place. It's like moving to Florida and then complaining about the weather.

From Casablanca
Captain Renault: What in heaven's name brought you to Casablanca?
Rick: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Captain Renault: The waters? What waters? We're in the desert.
Rick: I was misinformed.

Unless one was misinformed about the strictures of life in Lakewood, I don't understand the complaints (except from the kids--who were born there).

Mata, Your argument (which I hear, and agree with for the most part) harks back to the old inoculation vs. avoidance argument. In other words, you can't blame your kid for drowning if you never taught him to swim.

Sometimes, however the waters are so treacherous that teaching them to swim is not enough. You have to fence it off completely. I'm not sure that the internet qualifies, but I certainly understand those who do.

9/27/2005 1:42 PM  
Blogger Mata Hari said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/27/2005 2:12 PM  
Blogger Mata Hari said...

CJ - that's fine, if it works - but from what i've seen/read here, it seems that there is no way to fence it off. I think that being an ostrich is the worst thing a parent can do. Witness Semgirl's father telling her to wash off her makeup before her date (no offense to SG or her father who I'm sure is a lovely man) - but we're talking about a severe disconnect.

9/27/2005 2:14 PM  
Blogger ClooJew said...

The disconnect is a huge problem, because it means that instead of a child accepting guidance from a parent, his or her reaction is more likely to be dismissive--"They just don't get me."

The most important goal of parenting is to be your child's hero.

9/27/2005 3:01 PM  
Blogger turquoiseblue said...

(SG - forgive me for hijacking your blog... but)

You got me wrong, CJ.

I agree wholeheartedly with the Gedolim that the internet is dangerous - AND my kids do not, and will not have access to the internet from my house... (even later on - when they are "adults"...unsupervised for sure not iyh) I have a laptop - use it for work and otherwise - so I have control over it.

I just might not agree with THEIR solution... (ie: saying it is completely assur - which I think they already see is not working, or signing up for Jnet etc... right now, for me, it doesn't work.)

My point was as follows: IF your hashkafa IS in sync with theirs - you just don't agree with their solution - and this does NOT affect the outcome - or so I humbly think/hope... And, at the end of the day - no one knows IF you do have the RIGHT access (as they will it) or not, do you go around feeling guilty that you are not DOING exactly as THEY say, or know that you know that you're doing your best to protect your kids... no need to follow the specifics of the "order" like it's halacha...

These are the thoughts I'm dealing with right now...


9/27/2005 3:35 PM  
Blogger Elster said...

Here's the problem Turq:

By refusing your kids access to your laptop, aren't you afraid they will just go next door to Cloo's house, or to the library, and get it there?

The point is that by creating too many fences, by walling off every avenue of outlet, you are creating a situation where your child (the general yours, not your yours) will have almost no choice but to go against your wishes.

Now I'm not necessarily advocating internet use for lakewood children, i'm merely playing devil's advocate.

Cloo: Even Lakewood has changed in the last X years. My cousins live there., She works. I think it is more "discrimminatory" now then it may have been 10 years ago.

9/27/2005 5:42 PM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

why are they even trying to make fences they can't even try to enforce? if you make a fence that is so far out that people can easily either already be inside of it, or get inside, then what have you accomplished?

and more than that, how do they expect kids that are determined to break rules to follow them anyway? you have 2 (or three) groups, you have the kids with clean noses, you have the ones that get their noses dirty if you're hipocritical, and you have the ones who are going to shove their nose in the dirt no matter what you do. so, what is really the point in trying to make a ban ment for the last catagory, but in the end you're just making them break you're rules more creatively and hurting the rest? what have we really accomplished?

just my (worthless) two cents

9/27/2005 8:34 PM  
Blogger turquoiseblue said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/27/2005 10:05 PM  
Blogger turquoiseblue said...

HNC - excellent point.

9/27/2005 10:14 PM  
Blogger Semgirl said...

HNC.. you are saying the same thing as me.. There are rebellious girls,that rebel for the sake of rebeling, mid of the road ones, that need to be pushed a drop, and very good ones.. With increasing Takanos that border on the imposible you force the good ones to rebel too..

9/27/2005 10:56 PM  
Blogger fsgsf said...

Great post!


NJ from NJ

9/28/2005 10:23 AM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

sg, i noticed the comment about the thoughts of idolatry being a sin "even more severe than wearing a denimn skirt"

just to let you know, wearing a long denimn skirt is exceptionaly tznius, even more so than the provocative clothing most "tznius" girls wear these days. (that is if it is loose) there really is little better for masking lines that shouldn't be seen, plus if i'm not mistaken its comfy

therefore, wearing a "bummy" denimn skirt is a mitzah

just my two cents on that (as well as a total non-sequietor)

9/28/2005 2:48 PM  
Blogger ClooJew said...

"why are they even trying to make fences they can't even try to enforce? if you make a fence that is so far out that people can easily either already be inside of it, or get inside, then what have you accomplished?"--HNC

Far from worthless, your point is the crux of all takonos--will they be followed?

If not, lulei demistafina, better not to make them.

I was told by a client who is a Satmar chasid that when the Satmar Rebbe, zt"l, first came to America, he wanted to ban radios (This was in the fifties. Imagine what he would think of radio today!), but he realized that it would be asking too much and people would own them any way. So he allowed them.

If people become comfortable ignoring their gedolim, we're all in a heap of trouble.

9/28/2005 3:53 PM  
Blogger Elster said...

But isn't it possible for leaders to push too far? Banned radio's in the '50's. Now, apparantly, they have officially banned internet access for ANY non-business purpose in Lakewood (Source: Punishment for going agaist the takanah: Your entire family banned from the schools.

Is the internet bad? probably. Does the punishment fit the "crime"? I thought only hakodosh baruch hu had the power to visit the sins of our father onto the next generation. What do I know, I'm from Queens.

9/28/2005 4:31 PM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

cj, elster, turqoise,

its semgirl's point, not mine.

sg: sorry for taking your point away and having them credit me, i should have said something.

9/28/2005 8:19 PM  
Blogger ClooJew said...

"What do I know, I'm from Queens."--Elster

LOL. Elster, reminds me of the girl who said she would not date guys from out-of-town. Her father was upset because by "out-of-town" she meant Queens!

Schools have a right, lulei demistafina, to mandate policy. If parents don't like it they should build their own schools or not move into such communities. Nobody living in Lakewood should be surprised by this latest move.

Now if the rabbonim in Teaneck issued such a ban...

9/28/2005 9:40 PM  
Blogger Elster said...


I humbly diagree. In my own opinion, of course, lulei demistafinah, of course, I argue that schools have the right to mandate policy/rules within thweir four corners. They cannot, however, legislate what goes on in the privacy of peoples homes.

If you want to argue that Gedolim have that power, then, perhaps I would (to some extent at least) agree with you. But I don't belive that schools have that right.

If, heaven forbid, a classmate watches television, then by all means, don't let your kid have a playdate at their house. But the mere fact that a kid comes to school and says "I watched Lost last night" will not in any way tarnish little malka/mordechai. It's ludicrous to feel otherwise. Or, are we so insecure about our abilities to lead our children down the "correct" derech that we are willing to stamp out everything in our way?

Look at Semgirl or Elisheva for example. The probably did not grow up with tv's, etc in their housen (an assumption - apologies to your ladies if I am incorrect - i'm just using it as an example anyway). Yet, they are asking "questions" or "feeling their oats" anyway. You can argue, how much MORE so would they have had they grown up with tv etc. OR yu can argue that it was the overly rigid nature of their childhoods that are causing them to ask.

Based upon my interpretations of their writings, I would say the latter.\

Now, I'm not advocating bringing HBO to every household in Lakewood. All I am saying is we need to step back and look at what we are doing. For every girl who grows up to be a "perfect lakewook girl" there is a Semgirl or Elisheva who is asking questions. Or even a Bleemy who is rebelling as hard as she can.

So in (a very circulary, ranty-like) conclusion, Schools legislate schools, not the families of those who attend.

9/29/2005 11:45 AM  
Blogger Elster said...


Semgirl/Elisheva: I don't mean to talk about you guys like you aren't there nor am I implying that you are doing anything "wrong". I respect both of you for managing to speak out WITHIN the true halachik framework. Kudos to you both.

9/29/2005 11:49 AM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

or what about others. who don't watch tv anyway because they decide it's a waste of time to do so, even though they had a tv in their house as a children and could have watched as much as they wanted? i'm like that, and i know others who are, they're very inline with the rules

9/29/2005 2:35 PM  
Blogger Elster said...

HNC: Which rules are we talking about?

9/29/2005 2:50 PM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

halacha. these kids just arent interested in tv, and that only reinforces semgirls point. those who are going to do it anyway you cant stop with a blanket ban, and those you can dont need it anyway, you'll just be depriving them of the little bit of good it can do in the world


9/29/2005 3:38 PM  
Blogger Elster said...


Don't lose sight of the forest from the trees. Watching television ios not necessarily halachically assur. There are rabbonim on both sides of this fence.

Be careful not toi reduce this argument to "tv is bad". That's not what this is about at all. This is about school/communal bans PERHAPS going too far, not the boob tube

9/29/2005 4:06 PM  
Blogger Elisheva said...

Um, I can't speak for SemGirl, but as for myself, no we don't have a TV at home. And yes I do ask many questions. I think it's my nature. I think some girls like just follow nicely without asking, and good for them, but some, like me, just can't.

But my conclusion is like different. I think the ones who grew up with unfettered acess to TV (and I will admit I only know personally a very few), truly do have less questions, but there is a certain innocence lost, which while it may be considered naive, I admire in a certain way. Like I think they ask less questions because they are much more cynical and don't really believe any answers anyway. I hope i am explaining myself.


9/29/2005 4:13 PM  
Blogger Elster said...


You are, though perhaps you overrate the power of television. Maybe not, I don't know. High school made me cynical. in my high school being cynical was what we all did. It was weird. A schoool full of like 500 sullen boys.

And again, this isn't only about tv. its about all forms of media/"outside, real world (if you will) contact".

9/29/2005 5:06 PM  
Blogger ClooJew said...


You and I are pretty much on the same page vis-a-vis the underlying issues of the dangers of having or not having a tv.

However, lulei demistafina, your claim that the schools can't dictate what's going on in the homes misses the point. The schools aren't doing that. They're dictating who does and who does not come to THEIR school. The attitude is: Do what you want at home, but you can't come here because it will follow you and we don't want it in here.

These are all private institutions; it's their perogative to take in and keep out whomever they like. Just like it's my perogative not to live in a community where the schools are all like that.

As for your comment that "For every girl who grows up to be a 'perfect lakewood girl' there is a Semgirl or Elisheva who is asking questions," I consider Sem and Shev to be THE perfect Lakewood girls. They're the ones who appreciate their education because, lulei demistafina, they are digesting it, not simply swallowing it whole.

9/29/2005 8:25 PM  
Blogger Semgirl said...

Thank you CJ, thats a very nice thing to say..

9/29/2005 9:05 PM  
Blogger Elster said...


You will note that my "perfect" was in quotes. It was a jab at those who think that the so called perfect children are the ones who are swallowing the Kool Aid without thought.

Certainly, I thought that was clear from the way I wrote it. So SG and Elish, please take no offense. On the contrary, I was complimenting you in the higest regard. I don't believe in conformity. I applaude you, as I mentioned in the post originally, for both questioninng AND staying within halacha.

As for your other point: Perhaps we must agree to disagree. But ESPCIALLY in places like Lakewood, are there even viable alternatives for people who, chaleela v'chas, have televisions in their home? Or internet access? Should they simply be told, get the hell out of Dodge? Can it really be that simple??

9/29/2005 10:07 PM  
Blogger groinem said...

The answer to Missionaries is to know that a Goy is a disgusting thing and we do not speak to them or relate to them as human beings. This may seem radical, but this is what worked for thousands of years to save Yiden from dangerous influences. The old Yidish joke is that when the Mishna says Da Ma shetoshiv le'Apikorus, the Mishna does not say what to say to him. The reason is because a Tana does not use such language!!
The Klausenburger Rebbe was once on a train in Europe and a Zionist tried to convert the Jewish passengers to Zionism. The Rebbe answered every point with "Ich Hob Dir in Der Erd" (untranslatable, sorry) The other people asked him why does he not answer as it says in the Mishna Da Ma shetoshiv le'Apikorus. His answer was "this is what you must answer."

1/24/2006 2:18 PM  
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