A Letter to Joe from Washington, DC Regarding the Problems There
From Rabbi Dovid E. Eidensohn/845-578-1917
Your letter expressed what many in Washington feel now, pain and anguish over various developments in the Washington rabbinate. I want to say something encouraging right off. I was born in Washington 72 years ago. I went to Yeshiva Ora Torah Dibrisk that had three teachers and four students. I heard that in those days there were four Succahs in the whole city. Grown men would accost a young boy who wore a yarmulke and tell him that times have changed because people came from apes. I argued back and fought for years, but we existed on faith, because the world was against us.
Today, things are much different, baruch HaShem. But the Satan never sleeps. He is always looking to make mischief. And today is no exception. And the recent conquests of the Satan require us to search our hearts and gain the strength to proceed. What is the first step?
The first step is what is taught in the book of Jeremiah chapter 8 at great length. HaShem sees our wickedness and punishes us. And when we refuse to consider going back to HaShem, we suffer more and more. And the prophet calls out in passage 11 of chapter 8: “Who is the wise man who understands…why the land was lost?…And HaShem says, ‘Because they deserted My Torah that I gave them…’” When we understand that we must stop sinning. Then, and only then, is there hope.
But how do we stop sinning? And what are our sins?
Washington is flooded with Open Orthodoxy, that is taking over synagogues and Torah schools. The senior rabbis of Open Orthodoxy openly deny the sanctity of the Torah, say that what the Torah says is not true. They deny the importance of giving a GET, and openly dance with women and kiss them after performing the marriage ceremony. And what is our response to this? The OU has written some acceptance of Open Orthodoxy. One person fought them and then stopped. Why are the rabbis in Washington not openly battling this hideous organization? Why are they silent when Open Orthodoxy openly campaigns for forced Gittin that produce mamzerim, by allowing a woman to go to court and force her husband to give her a GET?
Then we have in Washington the Modern Orthodox. What is Modern Orthodox? Modern Orthodox means you are Orthodox but you are modern. A modern Orthodox person probably goes to college. He may watch movies. Somebody I know once got a job in a prominent Modern Orthodox program. She found out that men openly touched her. When she expressed shock, she was asked, “Are you shomare negiah?” They assumed that if she worked there she was not shomare negiah, as if this is some kind of extremism. Then you have modern Orthodox men and women who are busy furthering their career with another few years of college and another degree or so and find their biology is not waiting. For some of these people the answer is to go to the Mikva and not get married. And so some modern Orthodox rabbis have announced that such people may have the halacha of married people without the ceremony, if they live together as practical husband and wife, not derech zenuse. If such a woman who is considered married ends up marrying somebody else, and lives with him, her children are mamzerim. And now that a modern rabbi is caught with a camera people are shocked.
What does HaShem want from us? “Why has the land been destroyed?” Because we are too busy to care. A few people may care. And if they do, they have to go back to the Torah without the prefixes, without the Open without the Modern.
I studied in Yeshiva Or Torah Dibrisk when there were only four students. And in a few years, the Yeshiva succeeded. Let us repeat this success by finding a few people, a tiny number in Washington, who want the Orthodoxy as HaShem wants it to be. A bit of light can light up a darkened community. And if the community at large will continue as if nothing has happened, the few who refuse this path will merit HaShem’s blessings, as the Malin brothers who founded Yeshiva Or Torah Dibrisk did. When the Yeshiva began to succeed, the community and they realized that what was needed was American Rosh Yeshivas. A week before the Six Days War they turned over the Yeshiva to American rebbes and went to Israel. Now they have one of the largest Yeshivas in the world encompassing very young tykes to various kollelim.
Washington can succeed again. We only need a few people who believe in the Torah without change. The rest of it will disappear.