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The Greatest Threat to Yiddishkeit?
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
Publication: Mishpacha Magazine

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4/14/08

Dear Readers:

This letter, written in response to a column written by my dear chaver, Reb Yonoson Rosenblum, will appear in the Pesach issue of Mishpacha Family Magazine. The full text of Reb Yonoson's essay can be found below. I welcome your comments.

Yakov

To The Editor:

My dear chaver and colleague Reb Yonoson Rosenblum (#204; Five-Star Pesach) describes how he “practically jumped out of his seat,” listening to Rabbi Wachsman “thunder” that there is “no ruchniyus amid gashmiyus.” Well, I practically jumped out of my seat when I read Reb Yonoson’s quote of a Rav who claimed that Pesach programs are “the greatest threat to Yiddishkeit today.”

I do not know which Rav he was referring to, but I will gladly forward my home phone calls and those of Project YES to that Rav for a month. After listening to the terrible and very real challenges that we face individually and communally for thirty days and sleepless nights, I dare say that he may reconsider his thoughts as to what “the greatest threat to Yiddishkeit” is.

For each of the past eight years, I have accepted invitations to join a total of four different Pesach hotel programs as a scholar-in-residence. Throughout that time, I never saw any of the exaggerated claims made by that Rav – guards at tea rooms, waiters almost trampled, and on and on. And to imply that there is “no ruchniyus” in a comfortable setting where mothers and grandmothers who toil all year long raising their children and volunteering for chesed activities can peacefully sit at the table and enjoy the Seder and their families is untrue and condescending.

I most certainly have the greatest respect for those who choose to remain at home and refuse to participate in these programs, especially those who have the means to do so – and do not. But I do not respect individuals who criticize broad swaths of people they have never met and make statements about programs they have never seen. The vast majority of Torah Jews are open to tochacha; when delivered with sensitivity and respect. Our great rebbi, Horav Avraham Pam z’tl inspired, guided – and criticized – three generations of talmidim with ne’imus, not thunder.

From my vantage point, the sarcasm, misplaced kanaus, and intellectual dishonesty represented by the Rav noted in Reb Yonoson’s column, diminishes kavod haTorah and presents a threat in and of itself.

Yakov Horowitz

Monsey NY

Five Star Pesach

by Jonathan Rosenblum
Mishpacha
April 11, 2008

I will never forget an address by Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman at an Agudath Israel of America convention on the topic "Living a Life of Ruchnios amidst Gashmius." I had never before heard Rabbi Wachsman, and I practically jumped out of my seat when he thundered: This topic represents a fundamental mistake. There is no ruchnius amidst gashmiusTo the extent that a person is living in the world of gashmius he is removed from ruchnius.

I was reminded of those words recently on a recent trip to Los Angeles, where I had a rare opportunity to speak with a rav whose wisdom has always impressed me. In the course of our conversation, he asked me, "What would you say is the greatest threat to Yiddishkeit today?" I leaned forward eagerly, confident that he would mention one of my favorite subjects. But I must admit that his answer would not have been on my top ten-list.

"Pesach in hotels," turned out to be the winning answer. And my friend's central criticism was similar to that of Rabbi Wachsman: the Pesach hotel industry takes what should be one of the ultimate spiritual experiences of every Jew's life and encases it in a thick wrapper of materialism. Read the advertisements, he told me: "No gebrochts" right next to "24 hour tea bar;" "Daily daf hayomi" next to "Karate, go-carts, and jeeping for the kids."

"Olympic-size pool," "state-of-the-art-gym" (to work off all the extra pounds from the non-stop eating), "five-star accommodations" and famous singers are de rigueur for the full Pesach experience. And many throw in exotic locations – Hawaii, Cancun, the Bahamas, and an eighteen-hole golf course. What exercised my friend the most was the way that well-known community leaders are impressed into service in the advertisements, as if to put an imprimatur of ruchnius on the festivities.

My friend was raised in a particularly biting style of mussar, and he was just warming to his subject. He described the wailing when the dessert table runs out and the rush forward when the hapless waiter comes with refills and is almost trampled underfoot. Hotels have to put security guards around the 24-hour-tea rooms, lest some poor soul from the hotel down the road, where the dining room closes at 10:00 p.m., cannot make it to breakfast without a late snack.

"The chilul Hashem alone," he said, would be reason enough to close the Pesach extravaganzas. What does the staff at these hotels come to think of frum Jews? That they care only about eating and their holidays are nothing but eat fests? What impression does it make to see a group of pot-bellied men trying to eat their money's worth of food?

He related to me the story of one local frum boy who had accompanied his father to sell their chametz . They found the rav's house turned completely upside down for Pesach cleaning. On the way out, the boy asked his father why the rav's house was in such turmoil. He had never in his life seen, much less participated, in cleaning for Pesach.

That boy, my friend lamented, cannot possibly connect to the idea that Pesach cleaning parallels an inner process of removing the se'or she'b'isa – the physicality and inner materialism that holds us back in our performance of Hashem's commandments. His experience of Pesach has nothing to do with destroying the chametz either within or without.

When we gather in our homes around the festively decorated Pesach table, with the special dishes taken down just one week a year, and contemplate the freshly scrubbed homes over which we have labored so diligently, we link ourselves to all the generations of our ancestors. We may no longer exchange our old dirt floor for a new one every year at Pesach time, as they did in Europe. But if those ancestors could return to observe our preparations for Pesach, they would recognize their descendants and feel comfortable joining us for Seder. It more doubtful they would recognize us gathered around a hotel buffet table – even if we were wearing a shtreimel and bekeshe .

EVEN MY FRIEND recognizes that there are many perfectly legitimate reasons that families might go to hotels for Pesach. Not every set of grandparents can find floor sleeping space in their home for 50 or so descendants. Some older couples are simply not up to the physical exertion of Pesach cleaning, and the same may be true of young mothers just before or after childbirth. Other families may want to spend the holiday in Eretz Yisrael.

For such cases, there should be reasonably priced alternatives. (In Eretz Yisrael, many yeshivos turn their dormitories into Pesach hostels.) But it is not these families that are fueling a hundred million dollar industry, or who have transformed Pesach into a kosher version of spring break for many.

The issue of deluxe Pesach extravaganzas is, in truth, just one more aspect of an ongoing tension in modern Orthodox life. Rabbi Yehoshua Geldzhaler once described to me the pre-war Antwerp Jewry of his youth. During the Three Weeks, he said, you would not see an older Jew smile or engage in any frivolity. The Churban was present for them.

Jews who can really feel the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash are much rarer today. On the other hand, Rabbi Geldzhaler remembers, most of the younger generation in his day was in headlong flight from Yiddishkeit. Today, however, we have made it so much easier to be frum. Our kids can enjoy most of the pleasures of their secular counterparts, and no longer feel the need to rebel to such an extent. Religious observance may not be as internalized as formerly, but at least most of our youth remains within the fold.

We ask our rabbonim and roshei yeshiva to elevate our understanding of Pesach to the point that a week-long orgy of eating and fun-activities is self-understood to be a contradiction to the freedom from materialism that the Chag celebrates.



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1. From the Rabbi's Point-of-View     4/14/08 - 3:41 PM
Anonymous

I always have looked at the hotel Passovers with a critical eye without even ever experiencing one firsthand; therefore I welcomed Rabbi Rosenblum's article last week. However I thank Rabbi Horowitz's response which gave me a second angle to the entire issue. This just illustrates the important principle in Avos, namely that one can't judge without being in those shoes first.


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2. The whole picture     4/14/08 - 3:49 PM
Benzion Twerski

Threats to our existence as Am Yisroel – If I chose to think along the same lines as that Rav, I could produce a lengthy list of others. How about the kosher versions of every form of candy and nosh that is found anywhere in the world? How about the lavish sweet tables at conventions and dinners of our most respected and esteemed community organizations? How about the frequent vacations taken by many of the more affluent? How about the preoccupation with brand name clothing that is so common among the ultra-right wing – chassidish, yeshivish, and litvish communities? What about the fancy cars all around our frummest neighborhoods? Shall we dare to mention the simchas that are overdone with glitter and glamour? This reverie could continue for quite a while, and many of us could easily relate to many of these, even if not to all.

The concept that ruchniyus and gashmiyus being exclusive of each other is actually repeated often, but it is difficult to find it in Torah. There is a clear dominance to ruchniyus that is intended. The mishna in Pirkei Avos that states “Pas bamelach tocheil”, is not a requirement. A talmid chochom may also eat more luscious food. It is clearly a dictate that one should be satisfied with the minimum. Chassidus focuses more intently on the elevation of the gashmiyus through its use for the purposes of avodas Hashem. This concept may receive less emphasis among other works of mussar and hashkofoh, but it is not foreign at all.

The real issue here is the way in which all this is conducted. The location of the problem, whatever problem exists, is not at the hotels, but in our own homes and yeshivos. It is not the redirection of our reverence for gashmiyus over Pesach, but what we do all year around that teaches our children just how much we may value our creature comforts more than our spiritual growth. As Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” This focus on Pesach hotels reminds me of the three blind men and elephant. There is something there, but the picture is too narrow to recognize the real issues.


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3. As seen from the kitchen     4/14/08 - 3:58 PM
MS - Brooklyn,NY

With everyone jumping out of there seats while reading essays and listening to lectures, perhaps seat belts should be mandatory on all new chairs and sofas sold in this country.

With that said, I respectfully disagree with both Rabbi Rosenblum and Rabbi Horowitz. The situations described by Rabbi Rosenbloom do in fact exist at SOME programs and people DO IN FACT act the way he describes. On the other hand, to paint with such a broad brush is not correct either. I used to work for a large kashrus organization that certifies many hotels catering to many different "types" as a mashgiach.

I witnessed the pushing and shoving described by Rabbi Rosenbloom, adults acting like children when notified that their was no more rib steak (this is after having 2 other main dishes already!), people yelling at the caterer when the tea room opened (hashem yaazor!) FIVE minutes later than the posted time (because the mashgiach - me - was a little late. I witnessed people barge into the kitchen demanding to speak with someone about their meal which was taking too long to reach the table. Yes, it happens and a lot more often than we would like to admit. Perhaps more in some crowds than in others.

An 8 day orgy of food and drink, is putting it nicely. Is it the greatest challenge facing yiddishkeit today? Perhaps not. I suppose that all depends on which non jews we offend in our quest to reach the head of the line at the buffet table.


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4.     4/14/08 - 4:28 PM
Eliezer - Toronto

Rabbi Horowitz,

Your point about the tone of the Rav's criticism is well taken. I certainly agree with your insistence on ne'imus rather than sarcasm and kana'us.

However, from reading the advertisements of Pesach programs, one cannot help but get the impression that many of them are venues of conspicuous consumption. I would not say the Pesach program is the problem per se, but rather that it reflects, to a certain degree, an unhealthy focus on gashmius. (As Rabbi Twerski pointed out, there are unfortunately many examples of this phenomenon.)

Based on the many outstanding articles of yours I have read, Rabbi Horowitz, I believe that you yourself are of the opinion that a focus on externals, to the exclusion of true ruchniyus, and the resulting skewed chinuch, is a factor in the many children going off the derech.

Again, I agree that the way it was expressed is insulting, overly general and inappropriate. However, would you not agree that the seemingly excessive level of gashmiyus at many Pesach programs is a reflection of the deeper problems plaguing our community?

As per Rabbi Twerski's post, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."


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5. MS and Eliezer     4/14/08 - 4:51 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey NY

You are both correct that there are very legitimate criticisms of pesach programs; the ‘gashmiyus factor’ you mentioned and others including the appropriateness of such conspicuous consumption when our rebbeim are not paid a living wage.

I actually took our 12-year-old daughter to Monsey Tomchei Shabbos last night. I did so with all my kids over the years, but I thought she especially could use the exposure to the realities of life, especially since she comes to the hotel with us for Yom Tov. (The others do too, but we stayed at home for the first 20 years of our married life)

What motivated me to write the letter was the fact that so much what passes for tochacha these days resembles the mindset of that Rav, sarcastic, wild exaggerations, et al.

What happens, then, is that people are offended, push back, and don’t absorb the important messages that get lost when these techniques are used.

It is also the black-or-white, with-us-or-against-us mentality that is hurting us so badly. People who think like that have little nuance and see little gray.

I think this ‘gashmiyus’ issue is a valid one and ought to be discussed. But it is not just Pesach programs. It is cars, vacations, ……

And, think about what failure all these speeches bashing Pesach programs for the past decades have been. More and more open up each year. Could it be partially because we keep getting these black and white speeches, instead of serious discussions????


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6. you are both right     4/14/08 - 6:07 PM
David A Willig - East Meadow NY - daw0416412@cs.com

As a pulpit Rabbi, I make Pesach in my house and invite some of my Baalabatim to my seder. But My parents went away for many years to a hotel. That way we could all be together comfortably, as an extended family, rather than try to squueze the sleeping arrangements. We had some cousins who would drive to our home for the sedariom but joined us at the hotel when we went. What bothers me is in my generation, the pesach hotel was for the successful. Now I see people who beg for scholarships for schar limud who feel that the pesach hotel is more important than he tuition they have to pay. We also were aware of the balance between going away, convenience and friendship, and what is lost by not being in your own home, making your own seder, spending time with your own children. I am not saying that those who go away cannot compensate and make a deliberate effort to make up for what they are losing by not being at home. They can and some do. But the growth of the industry, with many prominent Rabbis and Roshei Yeshivas lending their names to various programs, make it seems that going away is a 'mitzvah min hamuvchar" In my day, the Rabbis and Roshei Yeshiva would tell people that it is better to stay home. Now many are going away themselves and others are hoping for an invitation for next year. I am a very easy going guy, and I very rarely tell others what to do, but to my mind there seems to be a contradiction between on the one hand supporting the ban on ther Lipa concert and on the other going to a Pesach hotel. The one thing that I do know is there is no hotel that has seperate seating in the lobby. I think that young men and women can greatly benefit from meeting in an informal fashion. But then, when you yell and scream about the Lipa concert and the need to ask and accept the advice of the gedolim, which gedolim were consulted as to the suitability of these five star hotels for those who wish to assume the role of manhegei yisrael


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7. Most Pesach programs are not kosher     4/14/08 - 7:18 PM
tb

I had the misfortune over the years to spend three different Shabbosim of Chol Hamoed at three different Pesach hotels. A member of our family goes regularly and occasionally pays for some of us to go. Each time, I would leave feeling sad about the way the children and adults behaved. It was pretty awful and we will Bli Neder not be doing that again. The fact that so much money is wasted is one problem. The fact that it is a display of the lack of Mentchlechkeit that is a rampant problem in frum families is just a problem because there is so much of it in one place. It is overwhelming. Screaming children running wild, gum wrappers all over the floor, loud and rude adults, pushing, rudeness to the staff many of whom are not Jewish...and on and on. Breaking things, disregard for the rules of the pool, the Jacuuzi, towels left strewn everywhere, slamming doors, pushing past elderly guests... To condemn the choice completely is wrong like all other broad strokes of the "banning brush," but, Rabbi Horowitz, most Pesach hotel programs--including the one you will be joining--are simply way too costly to approve of when we have literally tons of food being packaged each Pesach by Tomchei Shabbos volunteers. It is not our Derech to spend this much and it is not fitting for us. No one should pretend to himself/herself that this kind of money should be thrown about this way. Same with the ridiculously expensive clothes, shoes, Shaitels, houses... The Mentchlechkeit problem will not be solved by banning the hotels. It will be solved by encouraging respectful, polite behavior in all situations and by bringing back the concept of Ohr LaGoyim that my teacher, Rabbi Blumenkrantz Zatzal, so beautifully expressed and lived.


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8. a dvar torah     4/14/08 - 7:27 PM
tb

I'm going to add that in addition to those Shabbosim, I have visited my relatives for a day of Chol Hamoed every single Pesach for years and years --different hotels--and I was always disappointed by the rudeness and lack of Derech Eretz. Always. I wasn't alone. It is absolutely tragic. And, when you actually add up the cost of spending Pesach at these luxury hotels, it is staggering and painful to even contemplate. I understand that there are times that a family may need to take a break, but there are less expensive alternatives. The whole Etzem of the 5-star Pesach is just Hashkafically inappropriate. Why do we say in Dayeinu that it would have been enough to merely take us to Har Sinai and not give us the Torah? Merely being in a place of Kedusha will rub off on you. My teacher compared it to standing in a spice factory. What rubs off on you for 10 days at a 5-star hotel event? What rubs off on your children? Also, will your children be in a microcosm of your family's Hashkafos like they would at home or in a small-scale hotel with limited distractions or will they be immersed in the Hashkofos of others?


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9. Greatest Threat to Yiddishkeit     4/14/08 - 8:55 PM
Baruch Horowitz - Brooklyn, NY - borhowitz@yahoo.com

This reminds me of the mechanech quoted in the Yated Roundtable forum who said that Ipods are what's stopping Moshiach; the extended concept, in general, may have truth to it and it catches people's attention, but it's still presented in an exaggerated fashion.

One can say in a less exaggerated form that that materialism and "mitzvos anashim melumadah" is a serious threat to Yiddishkeit, and therefore, all types of recreation and leisure--whether concerts or hotels-- need to be done b'derech hatorah, but just like any problem with concerts are more of a symptom than a cause, so too, with gashmiyus at hotels, or anywhere else.

Perhaps blogs and the internet represent a bigger threat to Yiddishkeit, but as far as many people , I would focus on more fundamental issues such as feelings of alienation from community(perhaps as a historical analogy, Haskalah also had social issues with their community such as the unfair Cantonist quota system, besides individual intellectual issues).

Rabbi Horowitz said on the Zev Brenner Show that "anyone can see that there is a crisis of confidence of sorts...and that " our community has not healed completely from[various bans]".

Almost no one, at least to my knowledge, addresses the aforementioned publicly, and it's considered too "sensitive" to address publicly(although it's understandable, perhaps because there are no easy solutions). Yet they are issues for some people, and as Marvin Schick finished his essay about the "Charedi Gehinnom"/alienation by saying, " I am crying inside as I write these lines..."

The crisis of confidence and alienation, and other social issues would seem to be a more fundamental than addressing symptoms. The symptoms need to be addressed, as above, but they should be put in perspective. Perhaps if there would be less alienation, there would be less need for schmuzen on Pesach and ruchaniyus(although rabbonim will always need to address topics like zman cheriseinu and kedushah of Yom Tov).

I will finish by saying that Jonathan Rosenblum is one of my favorite writers, and I thank him for sparking debate about an interesting question. Chag kosher v'someach to everyone!


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10. Hotel lover     4/14/08 - 8:58 PM
Anonymous

I am neither a fancy or rich person, but we have been going to pesach hotels for several years now, and have had wonderful times. This is our ONE vacation a year, and we spend it together, giving the children so much attention, they love it. Mommy is not busy cleaning and cooking, she is sitting with her children and bonding. We have met so many nice people at Pesach hotels. Last year we went to gateways, we were so busy going to the shiurim that we didn't want to take ANY naps, and my kids also attended these shiurim. We came away with such a ruchnius feeling, it was beautiful. I have been to other hotels and have had similar, beautiful experiences, Boruch Hashem. Thank you to all the wonderful Rabbonim that provide us with much needed inspiration at these programs! By the way, the pesach hotel industry provides jobs for many many people. it is needed for those who for whatever reason can't make pesach. And every year, a shidduch is made resulting from meeting at these pesach hotels! Obviously there are some places that are not as "spiritual", but if it would be so terrible then Rabbonim like Rov Goldwasser, Rabbi Frand, Rabbi Krohn and Rabbi Horowitz would not go. Maybe next year these Rabbonim who year after year yell about the pesach hotels will hold their tongues. Last time I looked it doesn't say in the Torah you can't go to a Pesach hotel, and I lose respect for people who say it's so terrible. Thank you Rabbi Horowitz for writing that letter! Chag kosher v'samach, may we all be in the biggest of "Hotels" (the bais hamikdash) in Yerushalayim next year, amen!!!


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11. upside down, inside out     4/14/08 - 9:05 PM
therapydoc - Chicago - therapydoc@gmail.com

As one who prefers the upside down look in the weeks before the chag (I don't have to straighten up! I'm cleaning for Pesach!) I really appreciate this article.


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12. Anything can be abused     4/14/08 - 9:11 PM
David A Willig - East Meadow NY - daw0416412@cs.com

I grew up in a YI shul. When there was a kiddush, the lines were long and agressive, with much pushing and shoving. I remember, 40 years later, hearing loud screaming because someone cut in the line. And these were not poor people and there was always leftovers from the kiddush because NO ONE could finish all that food. So what does it mean? Should we ban all kiddushes? Some people are not going to be mentchen no matter where they are. Kedoshim tihiyu, yesh noveil bershus hatorah. You can fulfill all the mitzvot and still be a bum.


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13. Anything can be abused     4/14/08 - 9:11 PM
David A Willig - East Meadow NY - daw0416412@cs.com

I grew up in a YI shul. When there was a kiddush, the lines were long and agressive, with much pushing and shoving. I remember, 40 years later, hearing loud screaming because someone cut in the line. And these were not poor people and there was always leftovers from the kiddush because NO ONE could finish all that food. So what does it mean? Should we ban all kiddushes? Some people are not going to be mentchen no matter where they are. Kedoshim tihiyu, yesh noveil bershus hatorah. You can fulfill all the mitzvot and still be a bum.


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14. How can this generation even begin to appreciate the simpler things?     4/14/08 - 9:40 PM
tb

" may we all be in the biggest of "Hotels" (the bais hamikdash) in Yerushalayim next year, amen!!!"

I just don't understand how we are supposed to set our children on a path of Shvil Hazahav if we do not practice it. I understand that people need a break and that sometimes a visit to a hotel--or for some who get more stressed or have difficult life circumstances a yearly visit to a hotel is helpful. I just don't understand how we lost our way as a Klal to the degree that our Rabanim are supporting luxury hotel stays to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars per family? This is not Shvil Hazahav. Rudeness or no rudeness (separate issue). We have many Yeshiva kids who get sent off to EY for a year or two at a cost of over 10,000 dollars, then set up in nice "American style, i.e. more luxurious" apartments in EY as newlyweds, then set up in rentals in Lakewood with brand new kitchens, then set up with "starter homes" the size our parents worked hard to settle down in and raise their children in for life, then pay for their Pesach vacations with their parents, and so on and so on. It is part of a diseased, materialistic culture that a generation ago was non-existent. This is new stuff and it isn't progress. Anything that smells of it should be steered clear of by our leadership. No, it should not be banned. I think banning goes with bullying/hurting others or not allowing someone who hasn't given a get to his wife to get an Aliyah. So, banning Pesach hotels, that would be a no, but partaking or approving of 5-star events, I'm not sure that sits well with me.


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15.     4/14/08 - 11:03 PM
Anonymous

The idea that Ruchniyus and Gashmiyus do not mix well can be found in the Chovos Halevavos, who compares them to fire and water that cannot coexist; so too one cannot love both gashmiyus and ruchniyus ant the same time. (However it goes without saying that certain amounts of gashmiyus are richniyus, and one needs to make individual reckoning as to what that means to him.

The hotel issue may not be the biggest one facing Klal Yisroel Today, However it may be a reflection of the biggest issue facing us today. Maybe the problem is that we have lost perpective on life on what really matters and are now left struggling trying to make a mix of two value systems that were never a shidduch in the first place... (of course many hotels are fine...)

Although Rabbi Horowitz (who doesnt need my Haskama) is in my opinion 100% right; article such as this have no purpose other than making some people feel self righteous and others angry and hurt.


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16. yasher koach     4/14/08 - 11:39 PM
Anonymous

Yasher Koach to you Rabbi Horowitz. As usual, you write with great compassion and understanding. Wishing everyone a Pesach kasher v'someach. Aviva


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17. Ruchaniyus and Gashmiyus     4/14/08 - 11:45 PM
Baruch Horowitz - Brooklyn, NY - borhowitz@yahoo.com

"The idea that Ruchniyus and Gashmiyus do not mix well can be found in the Chovos Halevavos, who compares them to fire and water that cannot coexist; so too one cannot love both gashmiyus and ruchniyus ant the same time"

I remember a number of years ago, a European Rav tell over --or rather, show-- a derasha he heard in Novardok, where he studied in his youth. Speaking abour ruchaniyus and gashmiyus(or perhaps it was Olam Hazeh and Olam Haba), he pulled a table cloth, and said that to the extent one pulls in one direction, it doesn't go in the other direction--(on a side note, despite his austere Novardok education, this Rav was a easy going person, had a zest for life, and this was said at shalosh seudos, involving, of course, some gashmiyus).

But I would say this message over differently to different people, depending upon where they are holding. As far as hotels, specifically, I wonder if it's similar to how some feel about concerts; ie, is there a way to make improvement without presenting it as a number one problem? Even if concerts/hotels are sympotms of larger problems of superficiality in Yiddishkeit(no different than rushing for kugel at a Kiddush in Shul), maybe a gentler approach in seeking improvement would be more effective.


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18. Not the greatest threat, but a symptom     4/15/08 - 3:38 AM
Yoni Ross - Modiin, Israel - yonitami@yahoo.com

If what Rabbi Rosenblum describes is true, it can hardly be blamed on the "hotel atmosphere". People who act the way he describes have other issues, which may be brought out for some reason in a hotel-like environment. Perhaps the unnamed rabbi is partially correct - the actions which take place in some hotels may be symptomatic of underlying problems which pose a threat to yiddishkeit. However, taking away the hotels will not solve them.

"If someone is nice to you, but not nice to the waiter, they are not a nice person." -Dave Barry (Yesh Chochmah Bagoyim)


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19. Vacation?     4/15/08 - 8:28 AM
Benzion Twerski

On Yom Tov, we reference the concepts of “sason” and “somcha” often in the tefilos and Kiddush. On Shabbos, the reference that occupies the same place is of “menucha” and “kedusha”. Yom Tov is not here to be a day of rest, and to consider it a vacation time is a detraction from the mission of Yom Tov. I will respectfully ask for any Torah source that should make me think differently. If someone needs to go away for Pesach, it does not need to be guided by the “vacation” goal. It should be the ruchniyus that is expected to dominate every Yom Tov in at atmosphere conducive to this. Wherever that can be done, fine. Every Yom Tov has an aspect of “lochem” that mandates the inclusion of worldly pleasures to enhance simchas Yom Tov. To allow this to rule is submitting to something very antithetical to Yom Tov.

Personally, I look forward to Yom Tov, but as a major task to accomplish much. If I get in an afternoon nap a few times, that is an added advantage. It’s not about rest or any enjoyment that is devoid of ruchniyus. I would have a difficult time doing that away from home, and I look up to those that can successfully accomplish this. I find that a vacation after Yom Tov is almost a necessity (one that I have never managed to achieve).


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20. Howdy! Save the Jews!     4/15/08 - 9:26 AM
Mordy

Hotels are the greatest threat? Ipods preventing Mashiach (see comment 9)? Yee-haw! Maybe you boys are on to something! Let's all sell our houses, burn our wigs, dump our iPods and move back to the Polish and Russian villages. And of course, bring buses. So we can stone 'em! 'Cause kids need an outlet, ya know? (And don't forget to bring the Child Molesting Rebbi's, the Lashon HaRah, and Sinas Chinam.)


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21. Generalizations and Exaggerations     4/15/08 - 9:37 AM
MS - RBS

As a person who follows Rabbi Horowitz' columns diligently, I think the point that he is making here is not to agree or disagree with the Hotel concept.

His problem with the Rov who was quoted in JR's article was the fact that he made unilateral statements, which are dangerous! especially in our times when there are so many newcomers to Klal Yisroel and people who take these articles very seriously and come to conclusions which are not usually the desired goal of the article.

Halevai that people reading JR'S article and who have a problem with their behavior and potentail chilul Hashem issues described, would take note and do something about it; but usually this is not the way to get to them and therefore it is better not to blow the issue up to such proportions and cause many negative feelings as can be read in the comments above.

I would say that our job is to fix ourselves and our families up and make sure that we are taking the good out of these Pesach vacations. The more people who decide not to push or complain about the food etc.. and will show more patience at the tea rooms, the less of a problem this is going to be. Even if you don't get that steak - use it as an opportunity to work on your middos and accept!

Let us choose venues with great speakers like Rabbi Horowitz!!!, Gateways, Rabbi Goldwasser etc.. and use the break to gain some ruchnius on Pesach.

Let us not focus on the "other" people but rather on improving and enjoying ourselves in a positive fashion and giving our wives the well deserved break and special time with her family on Yomtov.

[BTW, I live in Israel and have never been to an Hotel for yomtov. We make Pesach at home and are having 13 stay-over guests - so my suggestions above are totally objective]

May be all be zocheh to eat from the Zevachim and Pesachim in Yerushalayim bimhero beyomeinu.


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22. not to "mish"     4/15/08 - 9:39 AM
Anonymous

What happened to the custom of not "mishing" (i.e. eating other people's food) on Pesach?

We have hotels with catered meals, take-out stores, and products galore. So "not mishing" is a custom of yesteryear and doesn't apply anymore? Wasn't "not mishing" your family's custom Rabbi Horowitz? Do you do what someone told me she did, when they went to a hotel for Pesach because her husband was hired to work there - they ate their own food! Unbelievable, but true.


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23. re ruchnius vs. gashmius     4/15/08 - 9:43 AM
Anonymous

Quoted in the Ha'Yom Yom which was compiled by the Lubavitcher Rebbe:

The Alter Rebbe's response to a young genius, famed for his intellectual gifts, at his first yechidus in 1795: Spiritual and physical are antithetical in their very essence. A superior quality (a maala) in the physical is a deficiency (chisaron) in the spiritual.

In material matters, one who is "satisfied with his lot" is an individual of the highest quality. A person possessing this trait will, through avoda, attain the highest levels. In spiritual matters, however, to be satisfied with one's lot is the worst deficiency, and leads, G-d forbid, to descent and falling.


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24.     4/15/08 - 9:44 AM
Eliezer - Toronto

Mordy,

Please keep your sarcastic comments to yourself.

I really enjoy the positive and thoughtful tone of the people who have contributed to these posts.

Thanks to Rabbi Horowitz and everyone else.


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25. re the Lipa concert (response #6)     4/15/08 - 9:54 AM
Anonymous

There are concerts scheduled for Chol Ha'Moed. Apparently, concerts have not been banned. Only Lipa himself was banned and that was despite the fact that his concerts (unlike HASC's) were completely separate seating (no family seating option), because the ban had nothing to do with mingling.

So the comparison to mingling at hotels is not relevant.

But your point about respect for rabbis is a good one. It's hard to make a case for staying home for Pesach when prominent rabbis are advertised as part of the Pesach programs! Yes, this is another reason for people to look askance at rabbis.

People don't care that you've spent 20 years making Pesach at home, Rabbi Horowitz. The fact is, you are being paid to grace a Pesach program with your presence. So we get mixed messages: 1) celebrating at home is the best way to do it 2) it's fine to go to a hotel for Pesach


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26.     4/15/08 - 10:02 AM
anonymousfornow

18, you do realize that people will be asking their local mocher seforim for the sefer, Yesh Chochma baGoyim.

20, the members of Yated's Chinuch Roundtable were all decrying the misguided rebbi who made the Ipod comment; rest assured that none of the members shared that view.

14, I'm with you. I believe in what Dennis Prager called the need for excitement detoxification, and honestly live that way myself. It may take a bit more than a cardboard box and 2 pieces of chalk to keep my kids happy, but not much. BUT, and this BUT is really important, while you have outlined many important ways to cut down and back, I know from my own personal experience that we have to leave some wiggle room. We've sent our daughters to Israeli seminaries because of the dearth of American options. (Something to really work on. Seminaries that may have fit the bill are not geared [yet?] for dorming students!) We have seen great peiros. But we have not set our kids up cushily. We have offered only the most minimal, short term help, and looking at my girls, not all of them may end up as kollel wives, and that's ok. I can't comment on boys as we're not there yet. B"H we've managed to keep them in town but we will soon be entering that brave new world. Point is, I cut myself slack as far as the gains from Israeli sem, because I know that as a whole I keep it real, so I've got to cut other slack as far as the gains from Pesach in hotels.


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27. re week-long orgies     4/15/08 - 10:21 AM
Anonymous

What do people who stay at home do - do they starve or eat plenty of food? Ask the ladies of the house how much time they spend in the kitchen over Pesach (or before, in preparing food for Pesach) cooking and cleaning up. At home, on Yom Tov, people go from meal to bed to meal to bed to meal to bed with forays out to shul. It's as spiritual as you make it.

What I didn't like about Rosenblum's article was the lack of focus. Various issues mixed together:

1) rude people

2) chilul Hashem

3) indulgence

4) losing out by not making Pesach at home, i.e. cleaning, cooking (should children not go to parents' then?)

5) somehow losing the link of generations by not making Pesach at home as though a Pesach seder in a person's private dining room is different than a Pesach seder in a hotel

6) cheap Pesach getaways being okay (despite one's losing out on making Pesach themselves etc.) but luxurious ones being decried.

7) Making Pesach in Eretz Yisrael being okay (no explanation given about why, and how this is not extravagant with the cost of airline tickets etc. and what about losing out on making Pesach at home?)

8) if the problem is "a week-long orgy of eating and fun-activities", how does he recommend that people spend Pesach at home - without much food and minimal or no fun activities on Chol Ha'Moed? Just attending shiurim?

And I thought that designating Pesach at hotels as the biggest threat to Yiddishkeit was inane. What about the other 51 weeks of the year? The BIGGEST threat is the week (8 days) of Pesach?!


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28.     4/15/08 - 10:54 AM
Eliezer - Toronto

Rabbi Horowitz,

I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the issue of "crisis of confidence and alienation" which #9 brought up.

Would you consider addressing it in the future?

Yasher koach for your efforts!


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29. What happened to Mesorah?     4/15/08 - 4:45 PM
Anonymous

I am not here to bash hotels in general; like most things, they have a place. A number of years ago my wife had cancer, was undergoing chemotherapy around Pesach, yet insisted on making Pesach anyway. While this may seem extremist ( I eat at other people's houses on Pesach), going to a hotel for someone else in this situation would have been helpful, and for some people, necessary, it proved a point to me. If you want to internalize the Yom Tov, it has to be an involved effort. The weeks beforehand, when I had to balance cleaning (as my wife obviously could do it)with night seder (right!) and a job, made me feel like a shmatta. But it taught me the importance of actually working for Yom Tov. Only the physical labor can internalize the actual removal of Chometz. (cf. Chinuch Mitzvas T'fillin regarding the physical actions being necessary to internalize the spiritual message). When a family spends months cleaning ( I have a three bedroom house and we start cleaning Tu B'shvat), it does wonders for the family bonding. (Especially if it includes yelling from overstressed parents- but with a good dose of humor) In our society, where everything is done by cleaning help, (except b'dekis chometz, although that may be coming soon, by frum b'dekis chometz services), by the time the seder comes, there is no preparation for the internalization. If the only preparation for Pesach is learning a few S'forim, and the whole Pesach is spent learning only, do you take it with you as well? If there was preparation beforehand, when the whole Pesach is spent learning, and the seder is something which is performedby a family bonded by cleaning, cooking, learning Hilchos Pesach/Hagada together, then there is the tranmission of Mesorah which will last beyond Shevuos. It is a sign of a healthy family dynamics! For those who have the option, there is nothing which can compete, in the long term, with a seder a home. While hotels fill a need, to sacrifice an at home Pesach experience is something which require plenty of thought.


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30.     4/15/08 - 4:47 PM
Anonymous

To #28 Where can I get my Eiruv Tavshilin catered?


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31. "healthy family dynamics"     4/15/08 - 7:16 PM
tb

"If there was preparation beforehand, when the whole Pesach is spent learning, and the seder is something which is performedby a family bonded by cleaning, cooking, learning Hilchos Pesach/Hagada together, then there is the tranmission of Mesorah which will last beyond Shevuos. It is a sign of a healthy family dynamics! For those who have the option, there is nothing which can compete, in the long term, with a seder a home. While hotels fill a need, to sacrifice an at home Pesach experience is something which require plenty of thought."

Anonymous, you stated this so articulately. Healthy family dynamics, what a thought. Many people are completely overlooking what you have written. The world is losing out and they are justifying it by listing the great Shiurim they will attend at the hotels. It is a different kind of spiritual lifting up. And, for the kids, these Shiurim are just more time spent with the babysitting staff at the hotel. Thank you so much, anonymous, for your comment.


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32.     4/15/08 - 9:36 PM
Waterpro

My opinion on children at risk will point right back at Teachers, Moros, Rebbes, and Gedolim who are completely out of touch with this generation. The heavy handedness in yeshivos by principles who teach by banning instead of showing the beauty of a Mitzvah or Middah is turning them away. They are forcing things down a child's throat and make Yiddishkeit restrictive and vindictive. Hashkafah needs to come from the home. Torah learning needs to be taught without the schools bias as to what is right when there is no basis in Halacha for it. The bar is always being raised and the concept of a true community school is disappearing. We have yeshivos for Metzuyanim or at risk and few in between. There is always a special new school that opens for a particular problem but does their best to turn mainstream after a few years and again the "at risk" kids have nowhere to go to.There is no glory in being a Rosh Yeshiva in a specialty yeshiva. Schools where children are publicly shamed and berated for not participating in a no TV contest will destroy and turn a child off to Yiddishkeit. Unfortunately Yiddishkeit is being hijacked and radicalized under our noses. These children are seeing right through it but are throwing the baby out with the bath water.


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33. I know some extremely holy people who go to hotels over Pesach     4/16/08 - 8:54 AM
Moshe - Ramat Beit Shemesh

I know one couple who are extremely dedicated, holy, yirei shamayim people who go to a hotel over Pesach. These are people who tirelessly work for Klal Yisrael, doing Chesed, teaching Torah, raising Bnei Torah who learn and are teach Torah, etc. These are also people who live a modest life-style, are not into gashmius, etc. And for years they made Seder at their home (I was even at one of the sederim). But now, as they still work tirelessly for Klal Yisrael, they go to a hotel over Pesach for exactly the reasons that Rabbi Horowitz mentioned - to enjoy Pesach rather than sleep through it.

Of course, it all depends on one's motivations - but one need be very careful with their words and accusations - as Chazal have mentioned numerous times.


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34. How sad once again     4/16/08 - 10:33 AM
Sherree

I just feel that we are in a sad state of affairs once again, looking to find fault in what others do, when it truly doesn't effect us in any way. As with the total misjudgment of the Big Event. As I prefer to say it "different strokes for different folks".

Why do we have to look for fault in other people? Why is it our business to go judge the concept of hotels when there are perfectly legitimate Rabbonim who supervise, partake and oversee these programs? There is nothing "not kosher" about them. And if people choose to spend Pesach at hotel for whatever reason they choose to do that, that is their choice. If people prefer to stay at home, Kol Hakovod to them. Either way, it does not take away from the Yom Tov or the simcha for either group. Because one group prefers doing things as they always did, as their parents and grandparents did, does not make the way the others do it wrong in any way.

What is the discussion really about? Who are we to judge what others do? If a family chooses to avail themselves of a relaxing Yom Tov rather than exhaust themselves with Yom Tov work, why not? If families use Pesach Programs and Hotels to bring many facets of their families together from "arbah kanfos Ha'aretz", then it certainly serves a great function, housing 20 even 30 family members under one roof.

If Pesach is the only time of the year, when families have "family time" and therefore they choose that time of year to "see the world" and have pesach at different locations, who are we to comment on that? It might not seem appropriate for some, because that is not what our parents or grandparents did. But then again who is to say that if they had such an opportunity at that time (which was unheard of) that they themselves would not have availed themselves of such a thing? We can't answer that because we can't go back in time. But just because our parents didn't do it, or our grandparents didn't that doesn't mean it is not acceptable.

Our parents didn't use half or even a quarter of the Pesach Nor did they have the convenience of all the Kashrus organizations that we do. products that we let into our homes today either. Our grandparents never sat on a plane, nor did they even have a concept of a computer, cell phone or fax machine. Would you then say that you can't use any of these things because they wouldn't have, it isn't "heimish". Please, let's get off our high horses and our pedestals, and let's get real. We don't understand half the things that our parents and grandparents did, we just do it because it was handed down for generations.

How many of you know why your parents didn't use garlic on Pesach? We all use garlic powder today don't we? But we didn't have it in our homes when we grew up. That's because in Europe the garlic grew next to the wheat, so they didn't take it into the homes for pesach in case some wheat flew into the garlic bulbs when the picking was done.

I remember as a kid, there was one isle, maybe in the grocery store for Pesach aside from the refrigerator. Now we have whole Pesach stores, complete with Pesach crumbs, cereal, cheese blintzes, cake mixes, whatever your heart desires; all this for one week's worth of eating. So no matter what you choose to say about other people, you still do not do exactly what your parents and grandparents did, so please do not be so harsh and judgmental.

It is a sad state of affairs when we blind ourselves, and I am referring here to the original commentor of this discussion, to the real true ills and issues of this generation and look for things to hang blame on. Let us put our focus and our energies on the issues that really and truly need our attention, and let's leave the choice of how people spend their Yomim Tovim up to them and their own Rabbonim.

And more importantly lets work on keeping children in the "fold" with unconditional love, kindness, respect, listening, understanding and generosity of spirit. I guess I just described the true Torah values. If we concentrate on that, we won't be chasing them to look for answers, understanding and compassion in inapropriate circumstances.


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35. Re: Rabbis at hotels on Pesach     4/16/08 - 10:38 AM
Anonymous

Because Rabbi X goes to a hotel on Pesach does not mean it is correct for you. His children may all be grown, or have experienced Pesach at home for a number of years (although the more the better), etc. For an individual to decide Pesach in a hotel is correct for him because the Rabbi does it is hiding behind his Rabbi, and should think for himself.


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36. Choices     4/16/08 - 10:44 AM
Sherree

BTW, I have gone both routes and I have to say as the Mashgiach, Chef, Cook, Shopper, Supervisor, Organizer, Planner, Housekeeper, Babysitter, etc., while I spent Pesach trying to enjoy being at home but mostly couldn't get out of the kitchen, I dreamt of being at the hotel.

While at the hotel, not being able to hear myself think, hear the younger members of the family ask the 4 kashas, wait for the "waiters" to bring the lettuce, etc., beg for more grape juice, or wine...search for whole matzos, missing kids from the table, stand on line waiting to wash, roam around the lobby looking for a comfortable couch, watch a ton of people "eat" in my face, wear heels when I prefer wearing slippers, etc. I wished I were home in the comforts of my own quiet and peaceful surroundings.

I also enjoyed many aspects of being home when I was at home, and many aspects of being at the hotel while being at the hotel. As I said previously, different strokes for different folks or sometimes you just do what necessity dictates at the time.


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37. v'higadta l'vincha     4/16/08 - 10:57 AM
Anonymous

But it taught me the importance of actually working for Yom Tov. Only the physical labor can internalize the actual removal of Chometz

Do you have any Torah sources for this, specifically that physical labor before Pesach trumps learning "a few sefarim"? It seems astonishing to me. Forget about hotels for a moment, are you saying that if children join their parents for Pesach and so the children did no Pesach cleaning, that this too is missing the boat? Are you recommending that nobody go away for Pesach, not even to relatives?

The Jews in Egypt did no Pesach cleaning. The mitzva is not to have chometz in the house. How this is accomplished is halachically immaterial. I think our Torah sources tell us that the key is in the v'higadta l'vincha, recounting the story to our children, not in cleaning together! People can spend weeks, months cleaning and their entire focus is on cleaning. They know nothing about the significance of Pesach, what cheirus is about.

The idea of "mee sh'torach b'erev Shabbos, yochal b'Shabbos" - one who works erev Shabbos will have what to eat on Shabbos, is said about Shabbos.

The Amoraim did various jobs to prepare for Shabbos. No mention is made of what labors they performed for Pesach.


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38. traveling to family     4/16/08 - 12:15 PM
anonymousfornow

Even people who leave their homes to visit family do some token cleaning. And along the lines of 37, hopefully they help their hosts out, to get that measure of "erev Shabbos tircha."


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39. Re: Cleaning for Pesach vs Spring Cleaning     4/16/08 - 1:43 PM
Sherree

Any Rav worth his title will tell you that what we do today commonly known as Pesach cleaning is essentially "Spring Cleaning". We do what our mothers did and their mothers before them. Rabbonim for decades have tried to tell women that there is no chometz on chandeliers and most probably not on windows either. They have told us that when we take our dishes out of the dishwasher and place them back into the china cabinet, they are clean. They have asked how chometz could have possibly gotten into the linen closet or onto the top shelf of the coat closet and yet we do all this under the guise of preparing for Pesach.

So I agree with you, that the inyan of Pesach is to pass the story and the history from generation to generation and not experience the slavery personally.


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40. I strongly disagree     4/16/08 - 2:00 PM
AK - Boro Park

Rabbi Horowitz, I mus say that I strongly disagree with your position on this, and I very strongly agree with Yonosan Rosenblum. I think your comment that that Rav should filed some of your phone calls dealing with the real issues, is missing the point. No one is saying that the direct cause and issues with today's youth is Pesach hotels. The point is that all the seforim speak about how Pesach is the time of year that parents have the unbeleivable ability to imbue theri children with Yiras Shomayim.

When that is missing (and don't tell me that a hotel environment in conducive to giving over Yiras Shomayim)then all the other direct issues and causes have room to snare our youth.


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41. from comment #2     4/16/08 - 3:40 PM
Anonymous

The concept that ruchniyus and gashmiyus being exclusive of each other is actually repeated often, but it is difficult to find it in Torah.

from Chovos Ha'Levavos (Duties of the Heart) in the intro. to Shaar Avodas Hashem: "Desires for worldly pleasures are unable to dwell in the heart together with a love of G-d."

Tosfos in Kesubos (104a) quotes the Medrash. It says before a person prays that Torah goes into his system, he should pray that delicacies don't go into his system

This focus on Pesach hotels reminds me of the three blind men and elephant.

actually six blind men (rope, fan, tree, snake, pillar, wall) ;)


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42. Why would you say that?     4/16/08 - 11:33 PM
Sherree

"When that is missing (and don't tell me that a hotel environment in conducive to giving over Yiras Shomayim)then all the other direct issues and causes have room to snare our youth"

I am very surprised and dissappointed at this comment. After all, the choice our children make in regard to whether or not they will go to shiurim, or they will sit at the table with family or go in search of friends, is still their choice whether they are at home or not. And if you and your children have a set of rules you have agreed upon, things don't necessarily change when you are away from home. A Pesach program which includes a children's program is usually extremely well run and organized. Older children will make the same choices they can make no matter where they are. If they choose to sit with a sefer, they can do it at any hotel that has a full library of seforim, or in most cases they will bring their own seforim along.

There are different types of programs running various levels of hashkofos. It is up to the parents to choose the ones that are most appropriate and accomodating to their own home life.

I will tell you something. At a hotel, when we see 3 or more generations coming together for Pesach, and seeing the great-grandparents sitting with the children, telling them stories, or sometimes seeing a learning session going on, is beyond being conducive to giving over Yiras Shamayim. It is a downright Kidush Hashem. Being able to spend a Yom Tov with siblings, aunts,uncles, nieces, nephews is also a kidush Hashem. It is also an outstanding reminder to those "outsiders" who are looking through the windowpanes at us, who see the kovod we give our elders, who see the expanse of our families, and who see the rebirth and regrowth of a nation that one madman tried to inhilate not too many years ago.


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43. Pesach Hotels provide important services.     4/17/08 - 7:32 AM
HL

I have never been to a hotel for Pesach,but I know single people go there so they will not feel alone on Yom Tov or will not feel like a schnorer at someone's table.Seniors or ill people definitely need the services of a hotel if their children live in Israel and they cannot travel to them.I think one of the negatives of the existance of so many hotels is that some people are starting to feel inadequate that they cannot affort to take their family to a hotel for Pesach.The costs of being frum are getting ridiculous, and we need to focus on speeches encouraging people to live below their means and give to the poor.Instead of bragging that you're going to a hotel state a reason why you have the need to go.It makes those who cannot afford to go feel better.(Thank G-d I don't have that particular problem). I'm a single running my own hotel and I thank G-d he gave me the Koach to do the job so I better get going.Chag Samayach!


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44. HL     4/17/08 - 9:19 AM
Sherree

You bring up an important point. But I look at it from a different perspective and one that is actually something that we tend to lose focus on. That is not to be "mekanah" (jealous) of other people. We have twisted things around so much here, and we once again as with the famous "takonos" placed the onus and the focus in the wrong direction.

The real problem is each individual has to be responsible and accountable for themselves. Each individual needs to work on their own midos and hashkafos. Hashem determines who is rich and who is poor, but that could be changed if one works harder on themselves and their histadlus, or takes on different mitzvos depending on their own variables and situations. In other words, they are not going to better their lot in life by being mekaneh what others have or what others do.

It is not the obligation of other people not to do what they can afford to do, because people who can't afford to make nice weddings, or have 8 piece bands, or go to hotels for Pesach will be jealous or chalash to do the same. It is up to each individual Jew to live within their means and to be "misameach b'chelko". A person does not have to explain why they are doing what they are doing because someone else will be jealous.

A wealthy person does not have to explain why they are spending an exhorbitant amount of money on a simcha because to them it does not qualify as exhorbitant, and at the same time that they spend that much on themselves they are also spending what a poor person would consider an exhorbitant amount on tzedaka as well. So it is not up to anyone to go looking or judging what another person chooses to do, or how they choose to spend their money. It is up to each individual to work on themselves, to live within their means, to make their own family and house rules, to raise their own families within their own guidelines and hashkafos and to be m'sameach b'chelko without butting in and judging their neighbors, friends, or strangers.


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45.     4/17/08 - 9:53 AM
yoni

sometimes I think that maybe just being in brooklyn is a threat to peoples yiddishkeit.

Especialy for smarter kids, and even more so when they don't fit the mold.

I've met quite a few, boys and girls both, who probably would still be frum if they never had to deal with NYC. Probably not only frum but happy.

So many crazy things there are passed off as normal.

:(

and sometimes I wonder if there isn't a direct corrolaton between being smart and not being able to be frum in brooklyn or other "in town" places.

(not all of them mind you, but many.)

I know that when I'm in New York or other more "in town" enviornments I resent being frum much more than being way out in the boonies (but with a shul and a smll communitiy.)

there is more acceptance out of town.


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46. Yoni     4/17/08 - 12:52 PM
Sherree

There should be more acceptance all over, because Jews have to learn to mind their own business and stop judging other people and comparing them according to their own standards. Hashem is the ultimate judge and everyone has to reach their own potential, even their own level of hashkofos and yiddishkeit madreigah by madreigah. The only way they will even aspire to do so, is by admiring another person's midos, hashkofos, beliefs, and convictions because of the way they present them, live by them, and represent yiddishkeit as a beautiful and compassionate, generous, kind and simchadik way of life. Once a person starts to berate, compare, judge, criticize, put down, etc., another Jew it only serves the purpose of forcing them to defend their own position, and return the favor by judging them for being hypocritical, rude, judgmental, annoying, nosy, interfering, high and mighty, etc.

My motto is "there is no room for negativity when dealing with children" We can stretch that to include "there is no room for negativity when dealing with fellow Jews".

Sherree


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47. Sherree     4/17/08 - 1:59 PM
Eliezer - Toronto

Sherree,

Regarding your point

It is not the obligation of other people not to do what they can afford to do, because people who can't afford to make nice weddings, or have 8 piece bands, or go to hotels for Pesach will be jealous or chalash to do the same. It is up to each individual Jew to live within their means and to be "misameach b'chelko".

I think you make a very good point about how crucial it is to work on being happy with your "cheilek". At the same time, I don't believe that is going to completely solve the problem our community is facing. What we have is a situation where many people, it seems, are living beyond their means in order to conform to the social pressures of our community.

Yes, in an ideal world everyone would be satisfied with what they have and live within their means (I try to). Realistically, however, most people find it extremely difficult to live below the standard that has become the social norm. This is what I am concerned about. Clearly, Pesach hotels fill a need for many people. However, how do we prevent a luxury Pesach hotel or a lavish wedding from becoming (or have they already become) a social norm?

Someone mentioned in a previous comment that people beg for a reduction in tuition while they spend tens of thousands of dollars going to a luxury Pesach hotel.

I am very concerned about the strain this is placing on our community, both on individual people who are struggling to keep up, and on the Mosdos HaTorah, who are losing untold amounts of precious money to these luxuries.


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48. Tachas Asher Loh Avadeta es HaShem BeSimcha     4/17/08 - 2:23 PM
MB - New York

Does any 1 item make any Yid throw in the towel, and reject Yiddishkeit in today’s world?

Or is it a series of events that, when strung together from a person’s point of view, are knit into a fabric of something so thick, they cannot comprehend, and therefore, reject?

I’d like to suggest the idea of being ovaid HaShem be’Simcha.

Bear with this microcosmic example.

Take a family; one sibling is well off, one sibling is struggling.

Suppose they get together. If the richer sibling has any love and compassion for their poor sibling, would they get dressed in their finest clothing? Finest car? Brag about their latest vacation? No, of course not. If they would, I should think that some sensitivity was sorely lacking in the wealthier one. If anything, the richer one would downplay their successes.

I once heard a wise proposition 2 decades ago:If you were given an extraordinary amount of money (in those days it was a MILLION dollars ?) , and you could spend it on ANYTHING, however, you could only enjoy it within your home, to the eyes of no one excluding your immediate family, what would you spend it on?

Cadillacs? No, they will be seen by others. Vacation to the North Pole? Fine, but you can’t tell anyone you went. Fancy clothes? Great, but only to waltz around the living room. Expensive jewelry? Great, but only within your Daled Amos. A new shaitel? Shtraimel? Hat? Hair accessory? You get the picture.

How easily will this million be spent?

What are the motives behind: Getting dressed up to go out to a restaurant, Changing 3 times a day for different meals in a hotel on Shabbos/Yom tov, Driving around in flashy cars, Wearing the latest/greatest fashions from Paris?

If it’s for yourself, or you need it for a certain business image, kol hakavod. But if a tiny shemetz of it is to oys-shtecken de oigen (make someone’s eyes pop out), or bring you kovod from others, then there is a feeling of ‘I’m better than you’

The 15th of Av is one of the 2 happiest days of the year. One of the events that occurred is that girls married into the Shevet of Binyamin. If I remember correctly, mention was made that the rich girls lent their poorer friends their clothing, so everyone looked their best. Is this the simcha that is mentioned in Devorim, of being ovaid HaShem with complete simcha, which by extension is demonstrated by their selfless actions?


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49. disagree with R' Horowitz & Sherree     4/18/08 - 1:41 AM
staying at home

I am a mother. I have been working myself to the bone. My husband and I are weary with exhaustion. Only 2 days left to the seder. The lists and shopping are done and now just work, work, work.

Would you recommend that I go to a Pesach hotel? Of course, why shouldn't I "enjoy" my yom Tov? Well, that would be the worst thing. I have had a chance to turn the last two months of my life into Avodas Hashem. Every sore muscle, drop of sweat and minute of lost sleep are counting to my Olam Haba. I don't have to have lofty spiritual thoughts to connect to Hashem. Neither me or my husband has to concentrate to be koneh our Yom Tov. Our efforts are enough that we are connected. We are told L'fum Tzarah Agra. Why would I give up this opportunity for a few days of rest?

As for the time with my children, If I were in a hotel, I would be shmoozing with friends, my kids would be screaming and pulling at my skirt. i would want to go to a shiur and leave them with a babysitter. They would be at the children's program instead of with me. I would keep them up either too late at night or leave them in their room alone.

Instead, my 2 year old runs to get me a potato to peel and we discuss shapes. He sits munching on an apple as I explain how to check eggs. My five year old and I check the romaine, prepare salt water and discuss why Totty goes to shul while Mommy watches the baby. this is their holiday now too since they put in the work aside from the coloring and pasting they did in school. They see how we drop everything we are doing, literally, to run do a chesed. We laugh and sing and cry and spend time together working together. They see that challenges are things to make us stronger not to run away from. The key to keeping this time sane has been to turn off my cell and regular phones. It's amazing how much calmer the family is when it's just us. As for Mothers & Bubbies being Shmatas, they don't need to be if Fathers & Zaidies would pitch in. When everyone views the Yom Tov as team play and not as "when can I get my nap" it is the most beautiful time of the year.

As for not being together with my whole extended family, I am not sure if that is such an issue. Leil HaSeder is our chance to transmit our mesora to our children. I don't need to transmit that mesora to my nieces, or great-grandparents or third cousins. Just to my kids. If being together helps with that, great. if not I would rather be at my or my parents' seder where we focus on our kids.

Pesach is a stressful time. I am lucky to have a part-time job so I could do a lot of work with the kids. But attitude and preparation make the difference. It's not about "why should I be the one to do it" but rather "I'm so lucky that I can be the one . . . "


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50. to Staying at Home     4/18/08 - 8:14 AM
Sherree

Like I said "different strokes for different folks". Kol Hakovod to you for doing what is right for you and your family, however that doesn't make going away to a hotel for others wrong.

There is no where that states that working your fingers and back to the bone in prepartion for the Yom Tov is avodas Hashem, and there is no place that says that you will get Olam Habah for this. In addition, don't assume that families that go away for Pesach don't clean and prepare their homes for Pesach anyway. I personally don't know anyone who goes away for Pesach that does not go through the Pesach frenzie of cleaning and preparing their home.

In addition, there is plenty of Mommy and me time preparing for Shabbos on a weekly basis and other Yomim Tovim that other families do the very same things you describe with potatoes and the like. So I will ask again, not to judge those you don't know and don't understand. Many of the ones you look down upon have already paid their dues so to speak and have already raised their families doing exactly what you are doing now, and have moved on to other choices. Those choices may include taking their own daughters and daughters-in-law out of the kitchen. Maybe because they know that their sons and sons-in-law do not have the time to help prepare for the holiday. One of the professions that doesn't allow for this is the accounting profession which coincides each year with Pesach. TAX Season interferes with Pesach cleaning and Pesach anything each and every year. As do other projects and deadlines. So for those 2 income families or those families where wives are working to support husbands and can't find the koach to do both, they are not home to do the things that you do with your kids.

So please be careful how you choose to criticize and condemn your fellow Jews, the Olam Habah you seek will not be as sweet or forthcoming when you overlook these other important midos necessary to achieve it.


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51. to Staying at Home     4/18/08 - 8:18 AM
Sherree

Like I said "different strokes for different folks". Kol Hakovod to you for doing what is right for you and your family, however that doesn't make going away to a hotel for others wrong.

There is no where that states that working your fingers and back to the bone in prepartion for the Yom Tov is avodas Hashem, and there is no place that says that you will get Olam Habah for this. In addition, don't assume that families that go away for Pesach don't clean and prepare their homes for Pesach anyway. I personally don't know anyone who goes away for Pesach that does not go through the Pesach frenzie of cleaning and preparing their home.

In addition, there is plenty of Mommy and me time preparing for Shabbos on a weekly basis and other Yomim Tovim that other families do the very same things you describe with potatoes and the like. So I will ask again, not to judge those you don't know and don't understand. Many of the ones you look down upon have already paid their dues so to speak and have already raised their families doing exactly what you are doing now, and have moved on to other choices. Those choices may include taking their own daughters and daughters-in-law out of the kitchen. Maybe because they know that their sons and sons-in-law do not have the time to help prepare for the holiday. One of the professions that doesn't allow for this is the accounting profession which coincides each year with Pesach. TAX Season interferes with Pesach cleaning and Pesach anything each and every year. As do other projects and deadlines. So for those 2 income families or those families where wives are working to support husbands and can't find the koach to do both, they are not home to do the things that you do with your kids.

So please be careful how you choose to criticize and condemn your fellow Jews, the Olam Habah you seek will not be as sweet or forthcoming when you overlook these other important midos necessary to achieve it.


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52. Eliezer     4/18/08 - 8:49 AM
Sherree

I believe that the problem with the social pressure is that those who choose to give into it, choose to because they would rather do that than work on themselves to be mesameach b'chelko and not be mekaneh other people. There are luxury hotel programs, like The Chevra, and there are regular programs that don't reach their madreigah in any way shape of form. The Pruzansky family at the Friar Tuck each year runs a very Heimish and reasonable program as does Mendy Vim for many, many years. There are many others who will negotiate with you. This year there are programs that are not booked up and their are bargains to be had. So not all programs are "luxury" programs.

In addition, sometimes going away for Pesach is a necessity and not a luxury and it really is not up to the tuition committee to judge that so harshly. If there where social workers on the tuitions committees who could actually look at the dynamics of a family when reviewing their financial needs, and not just look at the numbers, then maybe we can actually work together for the benefit of the families and not just make snap judgments.

Yes there are families that make poor choices and don't choose wisely when it comes to spending money. Those families should be offered some financial planning and assistance, not a rejection and dismissal. They obviously need help, and if they were offered some help, they might be able to afford the tuition or better yet, some of the families more basic needs.

But what it really boils down to, is working with one's own RAV and working on themselves. No matter how great the pressure is, just as we try to teach our children in regard to peer pressure, saying that the social pressures or society pressures forces us to do more than we can afford to do is a cop out.

I live in a very afluent neighborhood. I moved into my home 13 years ago and remodeled it 11 years ago. I still have temporary shades on my windows, we never got around to doing the second paint job and we never finished decorating and furnishing. Other things came up and we chose to address those things first. I wear what is comfortable and I don't slather make-up on because I don't like it. My neighbors, friends and family didn't understand why I was taking at-risk kids into my home, at first, and didn't appreciate them smoking outside my home and walking up and down the block at all hours of the day and night.

I chose to do what I felt was right for me, we chose to do what we felt was right for us. We are not keeping up with anyone but ourselves. And although we would love to put in a gorgeous built in seforim room like our friends have, we will not pay $50,000 for it. We waited all this time to do it, but we will still not go beyond our means.

The choice is in our own hands, what we do and how we do it. We turn to Hashem for guidance and for assistance. We don't have to build a house to please others or to keep up with them. I don't have to go to a Pesach program because it is the most luxurious or the "in" place to go. If I go to a hotel for Pesach I don't have to sit with friends, I can still sit with my children or parents and enjoy their company.

I think it is time that Rabbonim went back to basics and taught adults to work on themselves as they teach children. They are afraid to do this because they do not want to lose the financial support that they receive from them.

So the question is this. Whose responsibility is it to bring society back in check. To a system of checks and balances? I agree that people should be "anov" modest in their ways and not necessarily flaunt their wealth in other peoples faces. But on the other hand, they earned what they have and they also share their wealth with people less fortunate than they are. Do those in our society who struggle to keep up with them, also keep up with them in the areas of chessed and tzedakah that they do? These are the issues that need to be publicly addressed.

In other words: When you can afford to give $1,000,000 a year away in tzedaka donations then you can afford to spend $100,000 on a wedding. If you do not have the means to spend that much on tzedaka you are not in the league of making that kind of wedding. Before you "see the world and travel to exotic locations, see to it that your tuition is paid in full and you don't owe the butcher".

I once heard a story from a "furrier". She said that there were many women from BP who bought from her and wanted a payment plan. She needed the business so she extended a period of credit. After a while, when the bill wasn't paid and she walked in the street, she cried. She saw these women, wearing her coats around the neighborhood and they weren't paid for. What made them think that she was a bank and could afford to finance their wardrobe?

It wasn't necessary for these women to buy something they hadn't earned or saved up the money to purchase and this is something that Rabbonim need to address. We are a society that lives on credit and borrowed time. We want what we want now, and it is not only relative to keeping up with the rich frum people. We want easy luxurious lives and we want to be pampered and spoiled. We forgot how to work for what we want to achieve.

So the choice is ours and we can't blame society for it. Hashem gave each one of us bechirah. What do we choose to do with it?


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53.     4/18/08 - 11:16 AM
staying at home

I am not writing to criticize or condemn. just to present the other side for people who are reading this and making a choice themselves. While there are circumstances that necessitate a hotel stay, it should not always be the first option

First, I believe it is axiomatic to our Judaism that we will be rewarded to the degree of our efforts. Saying otherwise, denies the basic concept of schar v'onesh, namely that Hashem rewards us for the efforts we put in. He rewards us for every drop of effort with increasing level of reward. There is a story in the gemara of a man and his wife who were saved from bandits, the man was partially hurt while the women was saved entirely - the reason - although he supported the poor with money, she supported the poor with her hard work and home cooked food. This degree of physical involvement in a mitzva cannot be bought.

Second, for those in two income homes, there is a lot of cleaning help and catering help that can be had for much less than the cost of a hotel. You can hire a chef, give him menus and have him prepare all the meals. Or do as we did in hard years, buy takeout. I hired cleaning help for each day of Yom Tov to do the dishes so I am not a shmata. There are ways to do it and not to compromise on the nuclear family that can get lost in the shuffle in the chaos of frum hotel life.

third, while I prepare Shabbos every week with my kids, there is a difference between the exciting efforts for Pesach that promote dialogue and that for a regular Shabbos. There is an inherent drama and newness about covering counters. Moreover, there are only six yomim tovim a year, each whose preparations prompt a different sort of conversation with your children. Rosh Hashana, lead to conversations about a new year and new beginnings, Yom Kippur - about the ability to be good or bad, Succos - about making mitzvos beautiful and being happy. Purim having friends. And Pesach . . . is one long conversation about how special it is to be Jewish.

In an era where the value of our Judaism is stale to our kids, I think this is the one holiday we should fight to make if possible. Again, if you can't fine but there is a downside. And there are ways to make Pesach at home without overloading the stress or physical burden for less money than a hotel.


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54. The big "BUT"     4/22/08 - 12:22 AM
Sherree

Each time someone writes "I don't wish to criticize" we know we are going to hear the big "but" next. Please understand this, YOU ARE criticizing and YOU ARE judging. YOU ARE saying that YOUR WAY is the better WAY, and that because YOU don't agree with the hotel concept those who are choosing to go that route, are doing less than YOU, cheating their children out of the proper chinuch for Yom Tov, cheating their children out of the appropriate excitement in preparation for Yom Tov, etc.

YOU don't know that! YOU really don't. YOU are concentrating on the money issue, the haves and have nots, or the who can afford and what THEY sould consider doing instead of making this choice. That is criticizing and judging and TELLING them or showing them other ways to do things YOUR way.

YOU have no right to foister your opinions on others nor to judge that your way is better for their children than theirs. Your way is wonderful for YOU and for YOUR children and you are making wonderful memories for them. As far as avodos Hashem, chessed and work is concerned, YOU also don't know what kind of work, chessed or avodos Hashem anyone else does except for you or your friends and family who choose to share this information with you. YOU have no clue what people who make other choices than YOU do, do in these areas, if they do more or less than you do. You are just assuming that if they choose to go to a hotel for Yom Tov they are taking the easy way or lazy way out and that is wrong! It is not up to YOU to assume that, or to criticize that. It is up to YOU to make Yom Tov, any Yom Tov or even Shabbos the way YOU choose to do so, and the way YOU choose to share it with your children. That is the RIGHT way for YOU. That doesn't mean it is the only right way or that someone else's way is wrong.

This is my point. This whole discussion is really not about the Pesach program of hotels. It is about our inability to stop judging, comparing, competing, criticizing and putting others and their ways down. It is about our own inability to work on our own midos and stop worrying about our neighbors'. It is about our own inability to look at our own faults and the real issues that are going on in our own daled amos and doing a good Pesach cleaning within. It is about Ahavas Yisroel and stopping to speak and spread loshon horah by demeaning others' choices and making one's own the higher ground and worthy of Hashem's schar.

Hashem is the only judge, and Hashem decides who is doing their share of avodah, tzedaka, gemilus chessed, etc. It is up to Hashem to determine who is worthy of schar and how much. But what Hashem really wants from us, is to "play nice in the sandbox". He wants us to practice Ahavas Yisroel. He wants us to get along and stop judging each other and seeking fault in others, looking to blame others and not taking charge of ourselves, our own responsibility and accountability.


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55. Sherree     4/22/08 - 10:07 AM
tb

I haven't read all the comments yet, but, Sherree, someone has to speak up for the beauty of connecting and reconnecting with your family and with the Chagim. This is so politically incorrect and that is why it hurts to read it. You decry the judgment calls, but I feel I can speak for some of the others when I say that some of us are tired of remaining silent and watching the takeover of our Yiddishkeit and our families by styles and trends that are completely obliterating the beauty of our Mesorah and by Mesorah I mean the Mesorah of the importance of the home, the family, the low-tech, modest, plainer things in life and in Frumkeit. The beauty of connectedness that the home offers. The negatives of materialism in our frum community. The effects on our children. It is actually high time that more people spoke up about this and that more Rabanim addressed it.


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56. Isn't it a bit over the top?     4/22/08 - 10:14 AM
tb

Again, everything in moderation. There is a place for having the option to go away should circumstances necessitate or should the occasional help be a boost for a family or mother, but to just give in to the trend and say it is ok for thousands and thousands of dollars to be spent year after year in bigger and more lavish venues where more and more families are spending less and less time together at home is just kind of gross. It just is. And those of us that see it should be allowed to voice our concerns about it and plead for a little reevaluation, even of our esteemed Rabanim who attend these events. I haven't even gotten into the whole Pesach/Mishing issue which is a time-worn Mesorah for many families that they are just throwing by the wayside. Many, many of us were raised not to eat out on Pesach, even at the homes of friends. That was centuries in the making. Many still stick to this Mesorah. Why is Mesorah of families so disposable? When did families start taking all their cues from the ocmmunity norm or style? When did the alter Bubbies and Zaidies become unimportant?


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57. Judging     4/22/08 - 10:55 AM
Orthonomics

Staying at home is offering a different perspective in this free marketplace of ideas and I thank her for presenting a diferent view, one that is perhaps desperately needed.

Mr. Rosenblum I believe made a mistake in writing his article. He focused the attention away from the general culture of materialism in the frum community, and instead focused the attention of a sliver of Pesach vacationers as if all of our problems with materialism would cease should these families stop making a mass Exodus away to Cancun for Pesach.

The idea that we shouldn't "judge" the rampant materialism and present a simpler option is just ludicrous in my opinion. Baruch Hashem there are people out there presenting a simpler option in the marketplace of free ideas and it is a credit to Rabbi Horowitz to provide that marketplace.

The "don't judge" (i.e. don't discuss and debate issues) attitude should be reserved for daytime television. The issues presented by the immersion in a materialistic culture largely of our own making raises numerous issues that most certainly should be discussed.


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58. to 53 - staying at home.     4/22/08 - 11:00 AM
Tayere Baal Habos

>First, I believe it is axiomatic to our Judaism that we will be rewarded to the degree of our efforts. Saying otherwise, denies the basic concept of schar v'onesh, namely that Hashem rewards us for the efforts we put in. He rewards us for every drop of effort with increasing level of reward.

It is axiomatic? What are you, Artscroll?

If you're so concerned about making your life more difficult than necessary to receive Schar, I suggest that you get rid of your pre-fab Sukkah while you're at it. You should also not avail yourself of cleaning help on Yom Tov nor at any other time. After all, I'm sure your bubbes and zaides, did not have cleaning help nor pre-fab sukkahs.


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59. Rabbi Rosenblum was not being as literal as you make it sound     4/22/08 - 1:36 PM
Daniel

He was quoting someone and using that as a basis for his broader which as someone who has attended hotels for Pesach in the past [never again] is hard to argue. furthermore, I know people who were at the same hotel as Rabbi Horowitz [and attended his lectures] and they thought the article described their experience quite well.

Rabbi Horowitz is not an impartial observer since he benefits from a cushy arrangement with certain hotels. To pick on this one sentence from Rabbi Rosenblum is not fair or honest IMHO.

One may point out that the problem does not exist in equal measure in every hotel, but the overall theme certainly does hold true. Rabbi Horowitz is the one who usually rails against excessive materialism and assorted other maladies in the frum community and I find it strange that he would so strongly argue against the existence of this one. "Hashochad YeAver Einei Chachomim..."


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60. TB     4/22/08 - 11:04 PM
Sherree

My point is that in our effort to "maintain" a semblance of tradition and normalcy in the frum home, we are judging others without realing knowing or understanding anyone else's variables.

I am not one to run to Cancun or Mexico for Pesach, it is not the way I was raised nor how I raised my own children. But that doesn't make it wrong, it just makes it different. As I said before, I have had Pesach both ways, and B"H this year, 2 of my own children made Pesach and we went there and shared the meals between them. I have spent Pesach at my siblings or in-laws homes, and I have run my own Pesach hotel in my own home. Each time, each experience was beautiful, special and memorable for its own reasons.

Assuming that people who go away, don't clean and prepare their homes is ridiculous, some may not do such a thorough job, but most do. I know I did. To think that children don't get to experience the excitement of the chag is also a ridiculous statement. They are prepared in school and in the home in regard to the Yom Tov. Maybe in a different way than the harried, rushed and anxious way that one does when they are working to beat the clock, but they do so none-the-less.

There are many families in the hotel, that have private sedorim, in every available room and every corner of the property, so that they can enjoy their own private family time and seder the way they choose to.

I am not endorsing hotel life, but I am not judging or condemning those who choose to go. It is a choice that we all have. If you want to discuss being less materialistic and more ruchnius, if you want to discuss bringing Torah values back to their roots in the home, then we are talking about something else altogether.

To me the biggest threat to Yiddishkeit is the refusal to respect children, listen to them and understand them. Children are no longer permitted to haved a childhood. They are in school programs before they are out of diapers. They spend more waking hours in the care of others than in the care of their own mothers.

Yeshivas have raised the bar on religious studies, and even on academics. Whatever is normal to a child as in playtime, etc. is being denied them each year at a younger age and it is labeled "bitul zman torah". Well children are not supposed to be learning all day, they are supposed to play, they are children. Yeshivas are of the mind that "idle hands", etc. But our kids are on overdrive, they have no downtime to relax, breathe, nor even absorb what they have learnt through the day.

Parents are afraid to advocate for their children, and children need advocates. Parents have allowed Yeshivas to take control not only over their children but of their own homes and decisions. And we are talking about today's generation of parents who are for the most part well learned, Yeshiva born and bred parents. We are not talking about young adults who do not know the score or who are not trained religiously on how to raise their children in a Torah true environment. Parents are manipulated and intimidated into conformity as much as kids are, and they just hand over control to the Yeshiva world.

I believe that today's parents should be more connected to their own Rabbonim whether it be their own Roshei Yeshivas or better yet the Rav of their own Kehillah. And as a parent body of a community, make well informed decisions regarding the needs of their children using the benefit of experience not only of the Yeshivas themselves but the community physicians, therapits and Rabbonim. Parents have to organize more kosher activities through their own shuls or community groups and not leave everything in the hands of the Yeshiva. Parents have to make decisions regarding their own child's need according to what the parents believe the child needs, since the parents know the child the best and will be responsible for the child each year of their growth and development.

Advice is great and the advice given by Yeshiva personel should always be respected and taken into consideration. Yeshivas and parents should work in partnership for the success of children, but decisions should be made on the basis of what the parents decide the child needs and not because a Yeshiva threatens to throw a child out.

If you will permit me an example of advocating for a child:

A child was picked on by her teachers and principal all through elementary school. To attest to the fact, the older sister who was in the High School and looks similar was yelled at and admonished when she was in the building. They didn't even bother to look that she was wearing a high school uniform, they just thought it was her sister and started yelling at her.

The child chose not to attend their High School and went to a different local school. The elementary school sent info over which was less than admirable and the administration of High School continued on that vein. The child was so miserable she cried every night promising that she would not return in the morning. I begged her to hang in and we would get her into another school for 10th grade. The Administration insisted that she see a psychologist. I took her myself to the top rated therapist in the neighborhood. The diagnosis was that she was absolutely normal and the two female administrators (principals) of the school should have their heads examined.

When it was time for the this HS to send a report to the new school she was applying to, you can figure out the result. She was politely denied acceptance. I sent the "new school" a three page email denouncing loshon horah and the fact that they would listen to it on any student when they themselves are abhored when students speak or listen to it. I said that loshon horah is a killer and it destroys neshomos, that they should get to know the child on their own and make their own determination of who and what the child was like.

The point being that when loshon horah is spoken about a child, the child's reaction is "I am being accused and punished for things I didn't do. I might as well do the crime if I am paying the time.

One of the Rabbonim attached to the school showed up on her doorstep the following morning and asked her to join him for breakfast. The girl enjoyed 3 years in High School without incident and matured to be an amazing Bas Yisroel.

Other cases of course involve "labeling and tagging" kids with learning disabilities or behavioral problems, some of which the kids learned from their own role models.

IMHO, The biggest threat to Yiddishkeit today is that we don't understand the uniqueness and beauty in each and every child Hashem has blessed us with. We must tune into them on an idividual basis. We must listen to understand and must nurture their basic needs. We must take care not to destroy their self-esteem and self-confidence. We must work with them with true love, warmth and generosity of spirit as a Jew is supposed to treat a fellow Jew. We have to be the role models they can follow. We must teach by example and we must understand that kids are sensitive, impressionable human beings. They need time and space to grow and learn. And there is a lot to be learned in down time and play time as well. Hashem gifts each child with different talents and interests and those should be encouraged and developed and not crushed and stomped on. Every talent that Hashem gives a child can be used in Avodos Hashem, it just has to be nurtured that way.

So IMHO, the biggest threat to yiddishkeit is our own stubborness or apathy whichever the case may be which is chasing our children away. And whether we go to a hotel for Pesach or stay home is not the deciding factor in what is happening to our kids. There are way too many children who come from traditional homes who are company on the streets to those who come from very afluent homes. So maybe we should concentrate more on what makes kids want to be a part of our tradition and culture and maybe we can then understaqnd why they don't want to be.


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61. Response to Sheree     4/23/08 - 12:07 AM
Orthonomics

You are passionate about your views as an advocate about children, yet I don't understand how you fail to see a connection between the fact that "[children] are in school programs before they are out of diapers. They spend more waking hours in the care of others than in the care of their own mothers," words you typed that I agree with and maintaining a life that forces parents to spend few waking hours with their children, especially young children.

I agree with you that it is problematic that children are pushed out so young. But if everthing under the sun is a necessity, than the choice to choose a different life that could give back the childhood you are advocating is stripped away because one must keep up.


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62. Orthonomics     4/23/08 - 9:23 AM
Sherree

It has nothing to do with keeping up, and if people are running to hotel programs to "keep up" with others then it is a very sad factor. I highly doubt that is the case because it is a very expensive proposition, one that is very unlikely. And that is why I say be careful about judging others. That is also why I say we should be careful what we say about others because we are just peeking into their situations without truly knowing what is going on within. We are just guessing.

I have been to hotel programs for various Yomim Tovim and am exhausted running from shiur to shiur. I have to bow out just to get some sleep. Those who choose to make use of the day camp program are thrilled that their kids are enjoying themselves and those children who do not chcoose to go are with their parents or grandparents. The organized chol hamoed field trips are great for the older kids, who would be going on trips with their schools or shuls anyway. Some go, some don't. Others still do family things, hang around the hotel and go swimming, go on family outings, etc.

It just bothers me, that people choose to judge others so harshly without truly knowing what is going on with them, or with the programs. There are reasons why people choose to go away for Pesach, many of whom spent many years making Pesach at home just as described by some who feel that their way is the ONLY right way, which is so unfair and so untrue. And those that choose to go away do not owe anyone an explaination or an apology, they are not doing anything wrong or on a lesser madreigah than anyone else. They will not receive any less schar for being mekayem the Yom Tov and it is wrong to claim otherwise.

Personally I do feel that any which way a family retains traditions with their children, and spends more quality as well as quantity time with them is the best thing for their relationship with their kids. Who is to say, that those families that choose to go away for Pesach don't do so in order to fullfill just that same mission. They get away from home so that they can spend as much quality as well as quantity time together with their family, maybe all of them under one roof. Or all of them without distraction of being in the kitchen the whole Yom Tov instead of at the meal or playing games with them.

The concept of "I" do it right, and "I" know better, and "they" are wrong, and "their" kids are going to suffer for this, reeks of control and condemnation. No one is taking away from anyone the beauty and love they choose to put into their family and the traditions they choose to preserve for their yomim tovim. But let us be generous enough to love our own traditions and keep them dear to us without judging and condeming anyone else for not doing the same.


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63. Chinuch     4/23/08 - 11:24 AM
AK- ey

Hi, For sure a hotel environment is more challenging to one's Yiddishkeit - the word 'malon' and mitlonein - complain are similar , we become very much cheftza's , me important attitude , how is the service I am receiving , I have got to eat what I have paid for and more, also the holiday attitude relaxes one's abservances etc. As I said these are challenges , not problems , the problem is the person , his values and chinuch , how he behaves in a holiday environment. So the greatest threat imho is a mechaneich who sees the problem in the cheftza and not in the gavra , the person.

here is a piece from Rav Lichtenstein which I thought is relevant

The second lesson is that answers to the generation's questions must be prepared in advance. "And it will be that when (or if) your son asks you tomorrow..." - the Torah is telling us that it is not enough to respond to current questions; thought must be devoted to questions the future will bring, and our responses must be made ready. The disintegration that has occurred in the Jewish world since the end of the eighteenth century is due in part to a lack of preparation for the future, a lack of foresight. This phenomenon, it must be admitted, was inevitable, owing to a lack of familiarity with the outside world and with developments that were occurring in Western culture at the time. To this day religious society still suffers from a lack of foresight, and we see how political and ideological developments are greeted with complete surprise even though they could have been predicted and prepared for in advance


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64. I can't let this go     4/23/08 - 12:04 PM
Orthonomics

Sherree, 1. When I say people view everything under the sun as necessary, I was not referring to Pesach hotels. G-d forbid anyone view these as more than a luxury. I was referring to "the basics." When people are told day camp or sleepaway camp is a must, pre-school for 2 and 3 year olds is a must, engagement gifts that cost more than my first and still functioning car (may it live to 120) are a must, weddings that are lavish by outside standards are a must, it is no wonder children are (in your words) "school programs before they are out of diapers." When everything is necessary, there is no room to cut back for the sake of a simpler life because a simpler ife simply is not a viable option. I do NOT participate in these discussions to judge. I do hope to present a different option because I can tell you, based on conversations with family, that a simpler life just isn't being presented as a viable option, period.

2. You point out how wonderful day camps for children are at the hotels. This year I saw a number of hotels advertising "baby clubs." Call me judgemental if you please, but I do not think that there is anything great about sticking babies (and even pre-schoolers) in a caregiver situtation for which there is and will be no long-term ongoing relationship, nor time to warm up to the arrangement. In fact, for many babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers, the prospect of a "camp" can be downright terrifying. I believe it is no other than Dr. Terry Brazleton (Harvard Med Prof) that writes about the necessity of long term relationships with caregivers in his book about titled "The Irreducible Needs of Children." I will hold back commentary on elementary school kids in day camps during Pesach. But, the idea of dropping off babies (and even pre-schoolers who usually need to warm up in small increments) in an 8 day caregiver situation in an unfamiliar environment with a stranger necessitates some comment.

3. You talk about quantity time at hotels. I don't doubt it exists. But, the temptation to drop the kids off and be free also exists.


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65.     4/23/08 - 5:49 PM
yoni

talking about lavish weddings etc, why don't we go back to the way the gemorah advocated (brochos perek 9) that the community should both arange and pay for a couples wedding? (they describe having a senior figure do this as "derech eretz".)

so that they don't have to deal with it?

and besides, nothing in judaism is easier than a cheap wedding.

and maybe it would stop sending people in to debt.


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66. Orthonomics - choosing a simpler life     4/23/08 - 10:14 PM
Sherree

Ortho, people who wish to choose a simpler life have the right to do so. People who wish to go beyond has bechira as well. Chalk it up to progress or human nature, but people will continue to choose to better their lifestyles and try to make a better life for their children than they themselves had.

If someone chooses to prioritize their lives and not put importance in gashmius items and prefer to concentrate more on ruchnius then Kol Hakovod to them. They have achieved a greater madreigah that we all need to work on. But that is just the point, we all need to work on ourselves and our own midos and within our own daled amos. And that begins with our leaders and role models.

Why is it that the "haves" are the ones our Roshei Yeshivas fawn over? Why is it that the children of the wealthy and well to do parents, get away with "murder" so to speak and their kids are not kicked out of school for the same minor and sometimes major infractions that children from modest means are? Why do our role models teach us that "money and means" count for so much, that we must strive to be on that madreigah by their very own actions, while their words belie their actions.

Why are the wealthy whether they are mitzvah observant or not, the ones being honored at the dinners of all the Yeshivot and major organizations? Who are setting these standards for the olam to follow? Who exactly is advocating the "simple" lifestyle? Which yeshiva does not have the most modern amenities built with granite, marble and brass? Which Rosh Yeshiva is not honored with a home built according to the stature of kovod he deems he deserves? What are the Roshei Yeshivas getting paid in camparison to their Rebbeim? What are our role models telling us?

Are our Kolel couples even living a simple life? How many custom sheitels does a typical Lakewood Kallah have? How much does a Ralph sheitel cost these days? How many times a year does the average family take a trip to E"Y? OH, if they own an apartment there that is? What if they don't?

What chance does a girl have of getting a shiduch if her parents don't shell out over $20,000 for seminary in E"Y? Is that considered living a simple life? What if they have twin girls? That is $40,000 for just one year, and maybe another $20,000 the following year.

Our lives have spiraled out of control and it has nothing to do with hotels or babysitters. Ortho, there are so many things we can look at. The point is that everyone is responsible and accountable for their own choices. If you want to have a simple life and you don't want to feed into the craziness of what our society has become it is your right to make that choice for yourself and your family. I have that right and I make that choice for myself.

Why do mothers have to work so hard these days? Why are kids at the age of 2 and younger already in daycare and programs? Why is tuition so high that two parents sometimes have to work? Why are there so many women supporting their husbands so that there are no parents at home raising children? Why are children not allowed to have childhoods?

Why do so many people let others control their lives and their choices and not make better choices for themselves?


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67. Mixing Issues     4/24/08 - 11:46 AM
Anonymous

Sheeree, I'm finding it impossible to have a conversation because there is a mixing of issues. If you want to fit in, doing certain things (e.g. keeping the kids home during the summer instead of camp) will put you on the perifery of the community. As such, many people don't feel empowered to make a choice to live a simpler lifestyle, one that might get them back in the home with their children for more time, because they will be "different." I don't mind being "different," but it does take some backbone and you end up answering quite a of questions, and it hurts when the questions come from family.

Rabbi Horowitz responded to a letter written by Rabbi Rosenblum that quoted a Rabbi railing against Pesach hotels. Pesach is a most perfect time to discuss a simpler lifestyle when we are eating the poor man's bread and we are about to start learning Pirkei Avot again. But, I think we need less verbal mussar and better examples of simplicity.

We need less Rabbonim putting on weddings in the fancy hotels and more arranging their own leibedik affairs in Rec Centers. When we got married, I called 2 trusted Va'adim and neither would consider kashering a kitchen somewhere less expensive. You had to use their certified hotels/halls/caterers. We just don't have enough options. Our choices are all too often limited to "above and beyond" unless you are willing to break rank.

Yes, we all need to work on ourselves, but we also need help and that help has to come from a respected place. When a mara d'atra of a community puts on a very expensive wedding in the fanciest hotel in town, and continues the party by having a live band at the sheva berachot, imagine what message is sent: that this is the mehudar way! As a parent, how do you tell your children it is better to live more simply when those they look up to are living quite lavishly?

Of course we should all continue to keep our eyes and ears inside our own dalad amot. But, it isn't easy when they look out and if there is family pressure, it gets even harder.


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68. Sorry, Above was Me     4/24/08 - 11:50 AM
Orthonomics

Forgot to put in a 'name.'


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69. Orthonomics - choosing a simpler life     4/24/08 - 1:00 PM
Sherree

I agree with you, but now we are talking about the same problem, that the issue and the problem starts from the top down and has nothing really to do with Pesach hotels and the masses. It really has to do with what "OUR role models" are displaying as examples for the masses to follow. You can't really do it one way and expect others to follow a different path.

If you want the K'lal to really concentrate more on Ruchnius and not Gashmius then as their Role Models you have to be the ones to lead by example, just as you said.

But we, the "little people" have to find our own inner strength, to make the right choices for ourselves, and do the right thing that we know in our heart of hearts is right for us, even though others will not judge us favorably. That is part of being an adult and a Jew and following the Torah even though other nations will look upon us and not understand why we do what we do. Why we would choose to limit ourselves in our choices. If others are spending thousands of dollars on summer camp for a 2 year old, but we choose to keep our 2 year old home with us, it is no one's business but ours. If everyone on the block is sending their 7 year old to sleep away camp, but you can't afford it and yours is going to a local day camp, then it is not your neighbor's business unless they plan on paying your child's tuition for you.

If you choose not to introduce your children to candy and snacks but give your children fruits and vegetables instead, it is your choice and no one has the right to judge you on that decision. It is your choice to nurse your baby or bottle feed and that decision is made from the time your baby takes their first breath and that too is no one else's decision but your own, and no one has the right to judge you for your own personal choice.

We make choices every day, and each of us choose the length of our children's clothing, the color of their socks, a 4 part kippah or a 6 part, which shoes we buy them, which stroller we purchase etc. Each choice could be more in comformity with others or more of an individual choice. It can be very difficult to maintain one's own unique or individual strength and opinion. This is absolutely true. But Ortho, who do we really have to blame but ourselves if we don't hang on to it, develop it, teach it to our kids, embrace it both for the things that we hold most dear such as our traditions and those choices that are just plain based on the principle of being allowed to make our own choices. Some people are more traditional and some are more progressive. Some are more emotional and sentimental and some are not. Some people hang on to old memories and some prefer to make new ones.

What is most important to remember is who we are as Jews, and what Hashem wants from us. What are our obligations to Hashem and what are our obligations to each other. Are we doing the best we can do? Are we the best we can be? Are we fullfilling our obligations? How can we improve on ourselves to strengthen our relationship with Hashem and with the people we hold most dear? Before we worry about what others are doing, we should worry more about what we are doing and correct our own midos and what we and our families would benefit from changes we could and what changes we would need to make in our own daled amos.

Maybe when we each improve our own midos, and correct what is wrong in our own daled amos, we will serve as a shining example for our own neighbors and friends or even strangers to follow. Maybe they will see the beauty in our simple life and traditions, and we will not have to flaunt it in front of them, nor will we have to tell them nor show them why "our" way is the better way. It won't be necessary because the happiness in which we live, the beauty that we enjoy the ease and calm of the simple life free of pressure of keeping up with others, the pleasure of being "mesameach b'chelko", the confidence and pride one feels in making their own decisions based on their own variables and family needs, is very empowering.


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70. Re: post #69     4/28/08 - 12:52 PM
MB - New York

Sherree,

Assuming you are a strong individual who stands up for their convictions and isn’t afraid to swim upstream when necessary, and you can even attempt to indoctrinate your children with individualistic ideals, I agree with your previous post.

However, I think that it is VERY rare in the younger set(teens-twenties); when the molding of the next generation is hardening. Girls/ boys, exiting high schools, are spoonfed doctrines of what is expected of them, and herdlike, follow their classmates/school /community/family/ culture/ to live a life whose generic recipe may fit some, but not always theirs. The result is a new generation of robots who have no bren of their own and do things by rote or by pressure (what will the neighbors say?)

Walk on streets of specific neighborhoods, and see many stepford- men and ladies – gosh – do they ALL have the same taste in their clothing? Who teaches them to walk THAT way? But this insecurity prevails and no one wants to be different --- for after all, it will affect so many things --- social stature, shidduch prospects, children’s shidduch prospects..etc.

I can’t fault them for wanting to conform; but let’s face it, those who don’t are more often than not…if they are wealthy--- they are eccentric, if they are not – they are weird.

If I’m understanding you correctly, in your utopian world, people swim in their own current. But given that there are many weak swimmers, or those who just like to float w/ the current, what do you suggest?


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71. MB     4/28/08 - 7:46 PM
Sherree

I suggest you find yourself or your children a good coach and let them find their true passions and learn how they each need to be respected. When you start to focus on who you are within your own daled amos, what your values are, what values you were raised with and what is important to you, it is easier to swim upstream. Because what you learn is that you really are not alone, there are many, many people learning to make appropriate choices for themselves whether or not it conforms to the "in" crowd. And really isn't that what growing up is all about? Learning how to make your own appropriate choices?

I agree with you, that our society has spiraled completely out of control, it is stripping our children of their individual flavors, talents, uniqueness, charms, etc. They are turning into robots who have no concept or ability of thought processes, and cannot choose for themselves what is appropriate for their own individual tastes, lifestyles and values. That is why when they do try, they go way overboard. Just because one person is daring enough to raise her hemline or take a handful of hair out to blend with her sheitel, how does that become the "in" thing to do?

How did white become the only color for kids and black the only color for young women? Why is size 2 the only acceptable size whether it is a healthy or realistic size to be or not? Is this not robotic behavior? Who said it is normal to spend $800 on a Bug-a-boo stroller, when others are $300. Why must everyone have this really ugly piece of baby gear?

I agree with you, but that doesn't mean we have to buy into it. I am not the only one who is strong enough to stand on my own and call my own shots. And no it is not easy, I get criticized a lot for having my own opinion. But I feel that the only one I really have to answer to is Hashem, as long as I am not doing anything to hurt anyone else, and the choices I make are mine to make. I follow the guidelines the Torah set for me and the values my parents raised me with. I appreciate the great teachers and Rebbeim I had in school and the influence they had on me. The strength of charachter I have today was built upon the life experiences I have had many good, some not, but all taught me something, whether it was information that I had not known before, or it was how to stand up for myself, my family, or others that I was helping.

I can't "tell" you how to do it. You have to want to do it and look for your own inner convictions. Its not a matter of being stubborn or being a non-conformist, or just liking to argue with everyone. I guess it is a matter of getting to know yourself, respecting and honoring yourself, and trusting yourself first and foremost before trusting others. You can learn that best from working with a good coach.


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72. Sheree - in response:     4/29/08 - 10:34 AM
MB - New York

Agreed – if a person has self esteem, they will not feel threatened or insecure when they do what they think is best.

However, when educators enforce these doctrines, it is a very difficult for a malleable student to reject one part, but accept other parts of the education they are supposedly teaching.

True examples:

Overheard in shoe store by mother of 11 year old boy: (paraphrased) no color, no stripes on sneakers, the principal said it must totally be black

Teacher of high school girls to class: ‘Any mother who nowadays does NOT cover her hair is a Perutza’

Director of a Mosad: “In this place, this (kippa seruga) is not acceptable”.

So, if red nike sneakers are bad (but dad wears them whenever he plays basketball), and a mother not covering her hair is REAL bad, and a kipa seruga is also unacceptable (but Zaidy & Uncle wear one) then the choices are: mom, dad, & zaidy …

a) are not that frum as my school. Do I really need to be frummer than them? Is it so important that I DON’T cheat on this upcoming test? Do I really need to know this peirush? Does this halacha really apply? b) Are great people. This school’s rules are ridiculous. I don’t believe anything the Rebbe/Morah tells me in their hashkofo because they are totally off, because my parents are Tzaddikim. c) Are just as frum as the rest of my school. Whenever they come for pta, they know to wear the ‘right’ clothes, like the other parents. I’ll just nod my head, yeah, yeah, and do whatever I please. It’s just for appearances anyway.

You’re asking an enormous strength from a kid. In my (decades ago) experience, kids in the class who challenged a hashkofo were dealt with as rebels. And the rest of us all (inwardly) groaned because these challenges would ellicit the teacher to go into flaming speeches about the preposterousness( not sure if that’s a word) of the mere suggestion. And, she’d take it out on the rest of us in terms of homework, classwork, etc. In other words, our (group) feeling was, ‘Why are you making waves!?’. I’m sure this was felt by the questioning kid.

To be dan le’kaf zechus, I do not know if the principal of the all-black-sneaker school told the boys they can wear any color they want to gym, but during school hours it must all be black, so it appears like shoes; I do not know if the teacher who meant to teach about covering hair prefaced her speech with anything; I do not know if the kippa seruga wearer was explained that there is a difference of opinion between 1 and 2 coverings on the head, but in the mind of a youngster, when the world is black or white, how many of the tri state elementary & high schools explain these rules, and teach the children that grey, too, exists?

And the rules that have pervaded the community without explanation or understanding have one seeing many people within the ‘dictates’ of the prescribed law, but breaking out all over from the spirit of the law. Example: laws of tzniyus may dictate hem/sleeve lengths, but there is no measurement for wearing clothes 2 sizes too small; jeans may be outlawed for boys, but wearing the prescribed ‘yeshiva wear look’ but acting in a way antithetical to a student of yeshiva has no measure. For both genders, certain ways of walking and boisterous talking in the street in both body language and behavior is inappropriate, and untzniyusdik.

Realistically, not everyone can have a coach, and asking kids to be so strong is a tall order. I think your suggestions are great, but I do think that it is best suited for an ‘older’ crowd, who is removed from the peer pressure aspect somewhat.


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73. Sherree, lets refocus on the issue at hand     4/29/08 - 3:08 PM
staying at home

So, yom Tov is over - it was beautiful and I and my children gained immeasurably. I hope your Pesach was nice too.

The question under discussion was the benefits and problems of Pesach hotels.

The discussion has evolved into a rant against "them." If I can't present rational arguments for staying at home for pesach, then you should not be able to condemn other people's choices in weddings, clothing, schools or anything else. Doing so is hypocritical and disengenuous.


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74. different crowds     4/29/08 - 5:23 PM
yitzchok - monsey

Rabbi, why are you disagreeing with an ultra orthodox rabbi. we in the m.o. world have different veiws. i daven with you at rabbi tendler shlitas shul, and have seen you as a scholar in residence at m.o. hotels, as well as cruises. as a representative of OUR communitee, please don't stoop o lw as to engage the ultras. thanks


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75. In Response     4/29/08 - 8:23 PM
Sherree

Staying at Home - you have every right to speak up for staying at home and enjoying it. Waving the red flag of "this is the right way to do it" and implying that those who don't follow your way are doing their familiy a disservice elicited my response. As I said, different strokes for different folks.

MB- I am not disagreeing with you, and this topic was directed to adults not kids. So I was answering to adults, not kids. As far as kids are concerned it is up to adults to advocate for them and to teach them appropriately.

You are absolutely right, and that is the reasons kids have the problems they do, and why we have this website to discuss these issues. So what does it really boil down to? Where do the problems begin and how do we avoid them or set them right?

Well you have clearly stated some examples of issues, and we have already discussed here that we should choose the Yeshivas we send our children to according to the same Hashkofos we believe in and teach our children at home. Having chosen those Yeshivas we are obligated to follow their rules so we must choose wisely.

However, that does not mean that "WE" as parents cannot open lines of communication with the Yeshivas and voice our opinions instead of allowing carte blanche. Most schools do have or should have a student handbook so the kids and parents know what is expected of them, and everyone is on the same page. By the same token, the school should produce a "staff handbook", so the teachers and Rebbeim understand what is expected of them and everyone is on the same page.

You mentioned what the teacher told the girls, and the remark about the kipah serugah. These are opinions of the individual teachers and not necessarily what the Yeshiva wants to present or how they wish to present it. A mechanech's personal views and opinions are not always appropriate to be shared in the classroom. And a parent's personal opinions would take precedence over that mechanech. Parents also have the responsibilty to bring this to the attention of the Rosh or principal and ask them how they plan to deal with it?

Why do we assume that we have to let everything slide by and just swallow it, instead of advocating for our children? Why not sit down with the Rosh and ask how does he expect the children to respect their grandparents, aunts and uncles or next door neighbors when mechanchims say things like this? Aren't there other ways of being mechanech children and have them reach for higher madreigahs without putting other people down, without negating the sincerity, emunah and bitachon of other yiddin?

As parents we explain to children that people make different choices and we each have to strive to be the best we can be and the best yiddin we can be. We do what we do in our home and our children follow our house rules, other children follow the rules in their homes. So if we choose to eat Cholov Yisroel and they don't, that is their choice but we still don't do it. If "HE" chooses to wear a kippah serugah, that is his choice but we don't do that. "SHE" may not cover her hair, but we do....etc.

We choose to be mehudar mitzvos to the highest madreigah we can achieve, but that does not mean we have to judge or look down upon others, because WE are not HASHEM and WE don't know the level or the amount of mitzvos to what madreigah they do. We only know what we can see on the surface with our bare eyes. We need to concentrate on ourselves and our midos, we don't gain points by knocking others, we only gain points by doing the mitzvos we need to do.

So asking the Rosh what the point is of allowing the mechanchim to knock other Jews and not even taking into account what kind of turmoil they are creating within the child, or the child's family, would be a good start for advocating for the child.

MB, we the parents are responsible for what happens to our kids if we allow it to happen. If we don't stand up for them, if we don't try to right the wrongs, if we don't partner with the school system and just hand over the reigns of their education and religious training. In many, many instances we are just as learned and as frum as their mechanchem, and much older to boot. why have we become so fearful to stand up for ourselves and our kids?

This is just so sad. I understand that you think I am unusual, and that the "normal" parent can't do what I suggest. But what is the alternative? If not doing what I and others have advocated and suggested has lead to this, then what hope do our grandchildren and great-grandchildren have for a normal, happy and healthy childhood? How many more rules and "mitzvos lo t'aaseh" can they come up with for them?


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76.     4/29/08 - 11:46 PM
Tzvi

Yaakov Horowitz, You just dont get the point .Rabbi rosenblum is not talking about the families you claim to be dealing with that have a justifyable reason to go to a hotel for Pesach he is writing about people such as yourself what Legitimate reason do you have to go away?to give your wife a break? to be the Scholar in residence? or perhaps you get some free publicity out of it.


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77. Tzvi - here we go again     4/30/08 - 12:30 AM
Sherree

What LEGITIMATE right do YOU have to ask that question? Who are YOU to decide whose reasons are legitimate or not, or who has a right to "choose" where to go or how to celebrate their Yom Tov?

And this is the point of such a proclamation by such a well known and well respected person. It causes "sinas chinam", it causes lashon horah and it causes richilus as people start to discuss who is doing what, and why they are doing what they are doing, and so on and so forth instead of minding their own business and working on themselves instead of trying to "fix" and correct other people.

When individuals are on the level of Hashem and can confidently claim perfection, then and only then, can they attempt to judge others in this fashion.

Tzvi, whoever you are SHAME ON YOU! Or as my kids would say "nunya!!!". Its none of your business. And as for me, I am really tired and burnt out from this whole discussion. As Yiddin, we need to be responsible and accountable for ourselves and our own actions first and foremost. We need to concentrate on imporving our own midos and behaviors and building our own relationship with Hashem "ben adom l'makom" and with our families and friends "ben adom l'chaveiro". That is where we have to concentrate our energies and not by looking to find fault in others.

When someone like yourself has the chutzpah to ask the Rabbi, what kind of legitimate reason he has for going away to a hotel, and honestly doesn't realize that he is being a mechutzaf and a yenta, I have to realize that there is just no point trying to explain this any further. You say that Rabbi H doesn't get it? Well, do you? Is it really your business? Is it anyone's but the Rabbi and his family? That's my point.


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78.     4/30/08 - 11:17 AM
Tzvi

Sherree, That is exactly my point Who is Rabbi horowitz to go publicly and besmearch rabbi Wachsman to Quote from above; "From my vantage point, the sarcasm, misplaced kanaus, and intellectual dishonesty represented by the Rav noted in Reb Yonoson’s column, diminishes kavod haTorah and presents a threat in and of itself." Perhaps Rabbi Horowitz is a nogea Bbdavar and even if he has a right to disagree at least let him show some respect to a distinguished rav of a Schul and an accomplished Talmid Chochom.The wording used in the article diminishes Kavod Hatorah and Kavod Shamayim.


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79.     4/30/08 - 12:25 PM
Anonymous

Sherree - you said "Tzvi, whoever you are SHAME ON YOU! Or as my kids would say "nunya!!!". Its none of your business. And as for me, I am really tired and burnt out from this whole discussion. As Yiddin, we need to be responsible and accountable for ourselves and our own actions first and foremost."

But then you went on to attack weddings, school choice etc. Please explain how this is not hypocritical.


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80. Any volunteers?     4/30/08 - 3:54 PM
MB - New York

While I agree this post is entertaining, it has its share (indeed, I am one of those who have contributed to its) tagential topics.

There are many valid points herein, and it would require a volunteer/ editor/ with an objective mind to summarize the issues raised and how, if at all, it relates to pesach hotels harming yiddishkeit.

Prevalent in some of the postings is a plea not to judge others, not to arouse jealous feelings, as well as the defenders and accusers on each side of the spectrum.

While it is very entertaining, unless we attempt a solution, this is nothing more than a soapbox, and is valueless, other than allowing emotions to vent.

Is there any volunteer who can read though all the lines and summarize the points and attempt to suggest a viable solution? It would allow us to refocus, rethink, and perhaps, resolve.

Isn't that the ultimate goal, here?


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81. curious     4/30/08 - 8:49 PM
tb

Just wondering, since you brought it up, MB. What concrete initiatives if any have been started because of the interchanges on this site? I'm sure there have been some positive emotional takeaways for some people at some times, but what about a concrete initiative? I don't mean to be rude or sound like I am challenging. I am just curious to hear.


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82. To Tzvi #76     4/30/08 - 10:57 PM
HL

I think you were totally disrespectful and out of line in questioning Rabbi Horowitz's reasons for going to a hotel. I don't want to know. It's more information than I need to know and quite frankly I'm a big yente.Anyway, when was the last time you did all the work necessary to make Pesach for more than ten people.I suspect the answer is never. A few years ago a number of gentlemen came over to me to congradulate me on one of my accomplishments and I responded almost automatically,"Making Pesach is much more difficult than the project I had just completed."

Yes the Rabbi's wife more than deserves a break and I'm glad she didn't have to make Pesach like I did. But, I thank G-d that I had the energy and the money to make Pesach at home for more than ten people Ble Ayin Harah.Do me a favor and stop bad mouthing a great man and maybe next year G-d will give us all the opportunity to celebrate all of our holidays with Mashiach.


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83. response to TB     5/1/08 - 10:05 AM
MB - New York

Although readers come away with new ideas, I do not have any proof that any action is done for this particular blog(Pesach hotels).

What the blog does accomplish is bring awareness and validity to suspicions of state of affairs that would normally be dubiously received. Last summer were postings about children in the country with nowhere to go on Motzoai Shabbosim in the Catskills. I don't know WHO contacted community leaders, but SOMEONE orchestrated alternative entertainment, with endorsement of several Rabbinic leaders. Was it because so many posts attesting to the state of affairs could no longer be ignored? or because he/she was informed from other sources? I do not know.

This site's anonymous blog grants free voice without fear of reprisal; however, little is accomplished when people dread affixing their signature to a cause.

Noted askanim champion certain causes, and although they may be 'sans' a rabbinic or professional title, their constant business with communal affairs has earned them a seat of respect and/or recognition as being an authority on the subject matter at hand.

If I understand your post, you are saying that even with wonderful ideas, without majority or unanimous backing of recognized leaders, issues raised are ignored or deteriorated.

It brings to mind the unbelievable efforts of Reb Michoel Weissmandl during WWII in his great plans to say Yidden. Although he did have supporters, he did not have all..


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84. Correction of Lashon Hara based on a misquote     5/1/08 - 11:11 AM
SM - NJ

Tzvi, I must point out that the Rav that Rabbi Horowitz is referring to when he states "From my vantage point, the sarcasm, misplaced kanaus, and intellectual dishonesty represented by the Rav noted in Reb Yonoson’s column, diminishes kavod haTorah and presents a threat in and of itself" is not Rabbi Wachsman. It is an ananymous Rav who is quoted in R' Rosenblums original article and about whom R' Horowitz explicitly writes "I do not know which Rav he was referring to". R' Horowitz is not guilty of the loshin hara that you ascribed to him.


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85.     5/1/08 - 12:34 PM
Tzvi

To SM-NJ

YOu are right about the misquote,however he did attack rabbi wachsman directly by using the word "thunder" in refrence to his speech.Our great rebbi, Horav Avraham Pam z’tl inspired, guided – and criticized – three generations of talmidim with ne’imus, not thunder. and for that he is to publicly ask mechila to rabbi wachsman who is a noted rav and Talmid Chacham.

HL 4/30/08 - 10:57 PM

Im sorry but you cant have it both ways evreything that dosent seem to go your way could be attacked and bashed as soon as it is pointed at you you go on the offensive in the lowest way.It reflects the posts as well as the comments here.There are 2 sides and opinions to evreything as well as a mesorah handed down for generations that we wont veer from if you have issues with it dont go and critisize minhagei yisrael to justify your weaknesses.. Enough Charedi and Rabbonim bashing Enough of the undermining of Gedolei yisrael Enough pandering to the Modern Orthodox (Vehameivin Yavin)


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86.     5/1/08 - 12:38 PM
Tzvi

85. 5/1/08 - 12:34 PM Tzvi

To SM-NJ YOu are right about the misquote,however he did attack rabbi wachsman directly by using the word "thunder" in refrence to his speech.Our great rebbi, Horav Avraham Pam z’tl inspired, guided – and criticized – three generations of talmidim with ne’imus, not thunder. and for that he is to publicly ask mechila to rabbi wachsman who is a noted rav and Talmid Chacham.

HL 4/30/08 - 10:57 PM

Im sorry but you cant have it both ways evreything that dosent seem to go your way could be attacked and bashed as soon as it is pointed at you you go on the offensive in the lowest way.It reflects the posts as well as the comments here.There are 2 sides and opinions to evreything as well as a mesorah handed down for generations that we wont veer from if you have issues with it dont go and critisize minhagei yisrael to justify your weaknesses.. Enough Charedi and Rabbonim bashing. Enough of the undermining of Gedolei yisrael. Enough pandering to the Modern Orthodox (Vehameivin Yavin)


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87. R' Weiss     5/1/08 - 1:21 PM
Anonymous

if it would be so terrible then Rabbonim like Rov Goldwasser, Rabbi Frand, Rabbi Krohn and Rabbi Horowitz would not go

What Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss does is stay home for the first days, and then go to a hotel for Chol Ha'Moed and the rest of Yom Tov.


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88. Rabbanim     5/1/08 - 9:58 PM
anonymous

Any Rav that wants to can go to a hotel I have no problem with that and if they are going Im sure its for good reason I dont understand why there is a need to defend it.But they will all tell you that its only a B'dieved not L'chatchila .On the flip side look how many Rabbanim spoke out against going to hotels for pesach.


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89.     5/2/08 - 1:36 PM
A REBBI IN DARCHEI NOAM, MONSEY

RABBI HOROWITZ, DON'T YOU SEE THE PROBLEM WITH YOUR BLOG!!! IT IS SPEWING FORTH LOSHON HORAH OND HATRED ON CHASHUVIM INCLUDING YOURSELF!!!!! I FEEL THAT YOUR REPRESENTING THE KLAL THROUGH AGUDAH REQUIRES YOU TO CLOSE THIS FORUM DOWN. YOU THROUGH THIS FORUM THAT YOU RUN ARE A BAAL LASHON HORAH WITHOUT EVEN SPEAKING A WORD. I WONDER WHAT THE VAAD ROSHEI YESHIVA WILL THINK WHEN PRESENTED WITH THIS PRINT OUT!!!!!!!!!


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90. Fine line.     5/3/08 - 9:40 PM
Tayere Baal Habos

To 91. In other words, because one individual steps over a fine line, close down all lines of communication. Leave no forum for which to intelligently discuss the issues at hand. Sanitize all discussion and make believe all the rabbonim agree on every issue.


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91. to the Rebbi From Darchei Noam.     5/4/08 - 1:17 AM
Anonymous

91. The Mitzvah of Hocheach Tocheach requires you to first give mussar in private. Have you tried that. Have you mentioned that you will bring the print out to Roshei Yeshiva before doing so?

Before you start citing lavim from this week's parsha, you might want to learn the surrounding pesukim yourself.


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92. re 93     5/4/08 - 10:19 AM
anonymousfornow

And btzeded tishpot amisecha teaches us to give the benefit of the doubt: perhaps he did go in private.


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93.     5/4/08 - 12:52 PM
Anonymous

94 Rabbi horowitz is no longer in Darchei he couldnt go to him in the school.


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94. 95. why couldn't he give him a call or send an email?     5/4/08 - 8:28 PM
Anonymous

If you are too embarrased to mussar a person to their face then you should not do it anonymously in public!


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95. 95     5/5/08 - 12:46 PM
Eliezer - Toronto

95, you said "Rabbi Horowitz is no longer in Darchei."

What does that mean?


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96.     5/11/08 - 11:17 AM
Anonymous

rabbi h, do you consider yourself m.o.?


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97. Ignoring the focul argument of YR     5/16/08 - 8:32 AM
Anonymous


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98. Rosenblumem     5/16/08 - 8:32 AM
Anonymous


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99. Does Rabbi Horowitz go to a hotel for Pesach?     5/16/08 - 8:39 AM
Anonymous

Rabbi Horowitz focused on some of the points that was made by YR, but he competely ignored the main point of the article; the lack of spirituality the pesach-hotel- phenomina represents. Rabbi Horowitz did not convince me that he fully appreciates the problem that YR was adressing. (Maybe that fact that he goes to hotels affected his opinion)

Doesn't Rabbi Horowitz realize that the main attraction of Yiddishkeit to the next generation is by showing "a gesmak" in spirituality, not merely enjoyment in the cultural/ gastronaimcal elements of Judaism?


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100. Misplaced Kanous?     6/13/08 - 7:30 PM
Ben Levi - Lakewood - esther@geretz.com

It seems to me that a great part of the criticism that Rabbi Horowitz directs at Yonosan Rosenblum and the Rabbonim that he quotes is based upon the assumption that the Rabbonim have never seen the programs that exist at these hotels while Rabbi Horowitz himself has by serving as scholar in residence at several Pesach programs. I would like to respectfully note that there is an inherent conflict of interest in one who has admitedly benefited from Pesach hotels and hence is in a small way a part of the industry in defending it's existence. That said I would also like to respectfully take issue with the substance of Rabbi Horowitz's letter on two occasions I attended hotels for pesach and on another occcasion i visited a rather large Pesach program that is ran by a reletive. As such I feel that i am in a position to comment on the subject. From my expierience the article by Reb Yonoson Rosenblum was a coragious attempt to speak out about one of the most dangerous situations in our community. Pesach is the foundation of chinuch Habonim the seder is designed around children and numerous halochos of chinuch are learnt from the seder. And yet what has become with the chinuch of pesach? The vast majority of those who attend these hotels conduct the seder alonf with dozens of other families in a large ballroom and we are to believe that the children benefit from this? And what of the chinuch that is part of pesach preperations? I once heard from one of the Gedolei Talmidim of Reb Aaron who is now one of the most respected Roshei Yeshivos in America. that if one wishes to know the difference in the chinuch of the last generation and the present he need look no further then Pesach in the last generation before Pesach children saw thier Father getting thier kittel ready for the seder nowadays children see thier parents getting out thier golf clubs. And what about the tens of thousands of doolars it costs for families to attend these hotels. Is not one of the most pressing problems today that parents have no time to spend with thier children due to the high cost of living would the cost of living not go down if they did not have to come up with the money for these hotels? And finally I wold like to note that Reb Aaron as well as Rav Shach most certainly "thundered" from the pulpit and I respect any rav or rosh yeshiva who has the courage to speak out about something he feels is hashkafically incorrect. Respectfully, Ben Levi


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101. In a Jewish view     9/14/08 - 3:11 AM
Anonymous

I apologize if this sounds to harsh - I greatly admire those who are in & dedicated to chinuch, you included. But give it an honest thought; Has the American Jewish community not indulged themselves too much in the American dream?

Yes, materialism is the greatest threat to Judaism.

Rabbi Rosenblum (as well as many other Gedolim) speak of Jewish ethics.

American bread Rabbis are apparently to blinded by American materialism to think rationally.


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102. why modern orthodox     10/24/08 - 5:51 AM
cindy - miami

I don't know why the modern orthodox are credited or discredited in inventing the Pesach hotel experience. In fact, I am shocked by the chosheve Rabbinical names I see displayed in the ads and the Scholars in Residence are definitely not modern orthodox. Surely they realize they are giving the hashgacha to these hotels in terms of food kashruth and other things. I think it is the Yeshiva world that needs to take a better look at itself.

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