Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rabbinical Lunatics

Enter Rabbi Avigdor Miller, an influential rabbi who passed away in Brooklyn in 2001.

From his Wikipedia article:

Avigdor Miller
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rabbi Avigdor Miller (1908-2001) was a Haredi rabbi, author and lecturer in the United States. He served simultaneously as a communal rabbi and as the mashgiach ruchani ("spiritual advisor/supervisor") of Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin and as a teacher in Bais Yaakov for many years.
Contents
1 Biography
1.1 Yeshiva University
1.2 Slabodka yeshiva
1.3 Chelsea, Massachusetts
1.4 Mesivta Chaim Berlin
1.5 Yeshiva Gedola Bais Yisroel
1.6 Character and personality
1.7 Quotes
1.8 Awareness of creation's good
1.9 Anti-Zionism
2 Death
2.1 Funeral
3 Bibliography
4 Footnotes
5 References


Biography
Rabbi Miller was born to a non-rabbinical family in 1908 in Baltimore.

Yeshiva University
At age 17, Miller went to New York and attended and graduated from Yeshiva College and RIETS, attaining a B.A. and rabbinical ordination, respectively.
He was elected the student body president at the time, and was also the baal korei.
Rabbi Moshe Bick, known as the Mezubizher Rav, who arrived in the United States in 1927, was one of Rabbi Miller's early study partners.
At that time in YU he joined a chabura together with five other young men (who all later became notable Hareidi rabbis) to study Mussar from the book Mesillas Yesharim under Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Herman, a pioneer in Orthodox Judaism in America in the early 20th century. Rabbi Herman encouraged Miller to travel to Europe to learn Torah in the prestigious yeshivas there. Miller met Rabbi Isaac Sher, the son-in-law of Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, who was in New York to collect funds for the Slabodka yeshiva. Although it was during the Depression and he did not raise much money, he later declared this trip to America his most successful, since he was able to recruit and bring such a bright student to Slabodka.

Slabodka yeshiva
In 1932, at the age of 24, Rabbi Miller arrived in Europe to study at the famous Slabodka yeshiva in Lithuania. There, he studied under Rabbi Sher. While he was in yeshiva, Rabbi Shulman of Slabodka, son-in-law of Rabbi Sher, introduced Rabbi Miller to Ettel Lessin, daughter of Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Lessin of Slabodka. The two married in 1935.
In all the prefaces for all his books and on many of his tapes he says that everything that is un-sourced should be considered the teachings of Rabbi Isaac Sher, who was his primary rabbi.

Chelsea, Massachusetts
In 1938, due to the rise of Nazism and the tensions leading up to World War II, Rabbi Miller sought to return to the United States with his wife and two children. Fortunately, the American consul in Kovno at the time was a Baltimore acquaintance of Rabbi Miller's, a public high-school classmate, who speedily arranged passage for Rabbi Miller's wife and children who had not been born in the United States.
Upon his return, Rabbi Miller became the rabbi of a synagogue in Chelsea, Massachusetts. Initially, the community was taken aback by Rabbi Miller's audacious and intense volume of Torah presentations, attempting to restrain his unconventional approach. However, within a few years the community had radically changed their minds, and indeed besought Rabbi Miller to stay longer.

Mesivta Chaim Berlin
In 1944, Rabbi Yitzchok Hutner, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin, persuaded Rabbi Miller to become its mashgiach ruchani, in which position he served until 1964. In 1945, Rabbi Miller also assumed the pulpit of the Young Israel of Rugby in Brooklyn, New York City. In 1975, with neighborhood demographics changing, Rabbi Miller established the Bais Yisroel of Rugby Torah Center on Ocean Parkway in Flatbush, which served as his main vehicle of Torah dissemination until his passing.

Yeshiva Gedola Bais Yisroel
In 1986, Rabbi Shmuel Miller, Rabbi Avigdor's son, opened Yeshiva Gedola Bais Yisroel in Flatbush, where his father served as mashgiach and rosh yeshiva. Rabbi Miller was also a revered and honored lecturer at many yeshivas and Bais Yaakov schools throughout the years, cherished by his students.

Character and personality
Rabbi Miller was a master orator, having superb command of the English language. His personal magnetism drew students, young and old, from all Jewish backgrounds.
Rabbi Miller also trained himself to demand very little physically. For more than sixty years, he slept on a board.

[END WIKIPEDIA] The rest of the article can be seen here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avigdor_Miller.

Now, this dude slept on a board for over 60 years. Let me ask you, is this normal behavior? Is this something mainstream Judaism should condone or condemn as stupidity in the name of God?

This is one reason why people who are passively orthodox or not orthodox should run from the regular black-hat orthodox. While one may say, oh so its just a different lifestyle, he ain't bothering you, this kind of idiocy gets purported as true authentic Judaism while we are such horrible apikorsousiem for sleeping on normal beds. THERE'S NO RULE THAT SAYS YOU NEED TO SLEEP ON A BOARD TO BE CLOSE TO GOD. THIS IS STUPIDITY IN THE NAME OF GOD!

As an important step in returning sanity to orthdoxy, there has to be a consensus inside the orthodox community that this sleeping on a board for over 60 years nonsense is not a legitamate way of being Jewish, nor are other forms of insane ascetecism.

19 comments:

Garnel Ironheart said...

Your criticisms are getting weaker with each post. I mean, is this the best you can do? You find a rabbi who minimized his physical requirements and insult them. So he slept on a board. So what? To anyone's knowledge he never said this was a halachic requirement or asked anyone to do something similar. No one has ever said that there is an obligation to sleep on a board so your conclusion:
THERE'S NO RULE THAT SAYS YOU NEED TO SLEEP ON A BOARD TO BE CLOSE TO GOD. THIS IS STUPIDITY IN THE NAME OF GOD!
is completely untenable. If Rav Miller wanted to sleep on a board because he felt it improved it as a person, who are we to criticize? We all have our own personal eccentricities and, in opposition to your statement:

While one may say, oh so its just a different lifestyle, he ain't bothering you,

is absolutely true in this case. Rav Miller slept on a board for personal reasons and I don't know any other religious Jew who does. Find something more substantial to criticize.

SJ said...

Sleeping on a board for over 60 years is not Judaism. Its masochism.

>> I don't know any other religious Jew who does.

Miller sure was admired for it.

Garnel Ironheart said...

So he was admired. So what? One can admire asceticism without wishing that lifestyle for oneself. I admire doctors who stay up until 2 am reading the latest journals and reviewing their texts so they know everything about everything. Me, I'm in bed by 11 pm.

There is much to legitimately criticize in the frum world that can be good sources for debate. You should avoid stupid ones like this.

SJ said...

>> So he was admired. So what? One can admire asceticism without wishing that lifestyle for oneself.

in other words ...


So he was admired. So what? One can admire masochism without wishing that lifestyle for oneself.

>> I admire doctors who stay up until 2 am reading the latest journals and reviewing their texts so they know everything about everything. Me, I'm in bed by 11 pm.

You can't compare wanting to be a good doctor to this.

>> There is much to legitimately criticize in the frum world that can be good sources for debate. You should avoid stupid ones like this

I am getting warmed up.

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

yo!! yo man! don't go be making fun of Avigdor Miller. Read the f---ing 'messilat yesharim' (path of the just) for G-ds sake! Check out the 'tanya's 'igeret hatshuva' maybe while you're at it. There are different opinions as to what is ideal, but it is defenetely a mainstream idea that we have to minimize our pleasure intake in this world; that's what makes us holy. Again, not like those guys in the 'Da vincci code' hilm, who scraped off his skin to be holy, but some things leave you feeling like 'whoah, life is transient man! I gotta' make the most of it!'...you know what I'm saying?

yo, by the way; what is your problem with girls who are 'shomer nigia'? Do you not approve of any sexual boundries?

di lomo

SJ said...

>> don't go be making fun of Avigdor Miller.

Retarded things done in the name of Judaism will be posted about.

>> but it is defenetely a mainstream idea that we have to minimize our pleasure intake in this world; that's what makes us holy.

That is nuts. there is nothing wrong with having pleasure as long as you are not bothering anyone. Why don't you stop eating food because food is pleasurable and eat nothing but vitamins you stupid looser who corrupts Judaism? Be consistent!


>> Again, not like those guys in the 'Da vincci code' hilm, who scraped off his skin to be holy, but some things leave you feeling like 'whoah, life is transient man! I gotta' make the most of it!'...you know what I'm saying?

Thanks for letting my readers know that in Orthodox Judaism, one is not supposed to have any fun, asshole.


>> what is your problem with girls who are 'shomer nigia'? Do you not approve of any sexual boundries?

I do not approve of unreasonable sexual boundaries, and Shomer Negia is unreasonable. Shomer Negeah is saying that even is a girl has a high five with a guy, she is punishable by God, because when you make a religious rule against something, you are saying that God is going to punish you for breaking it.

With that in mind, it is clear that Shomer Negiah is retarded to the core.

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

Hello there again,

Um, perhaps I misspoke. I will approach it a bit differently; all I was attempting to state was that there are many different approaches to theology within Judaism that, based on the Biblical /Talmudic sources are considered valid in 'normative Judaism'.

Both books like 'Messilat Yesharim' (second half) and parts of the 'Tanya' among many other books that were written in medieval Europe (perhaps from there was their influence, as we see such topics much less discussed by Sefaradic medieval scholars) disseminate the idea that minimizing on completely unnecessary pleasures is something that makes a person ethically better. This idea is true in the physical world as well as the spiritual; eating more than what is needed is detrimental to ones health. Overindulging in sleep and sexuality and many other things can have negative consequences.

Again, to reiterate, we're not talking about inflicting harm on oneself, that is definitely a pagan ideal. We are discussing attempting to refrain from needless excess only. This idea is reflected in the physical world in other ways as well; there are people who climb the most remote and un-climbable parts of the Alps. When asked as to why, many of them actually say that it helps them to better appreciate the life in which they already live. "If for two weeks you're in a place where you can only dream about having a beer" said one German Alpine-climber "when you come home you will really appreciate it".

Avigdor Miller was a proponent not of pain inflicting, but of a full appreciation of life. To him it was horrid that people are existing in good health and have countless blessings, yet have what to complain about. Believe it or not, (this was a bit extreme) he actually suggested going to places where ones head would be submerged in water for an extended period, to fully appreciate that breath of air, so not to breathe constantly and never appreciate it.

Now, I'm not suggesting that Avigdor Miller didn't say some pretty wacky stuff, but whatever he did say that might be perceived as negative had it's base ij logic, and the prevailing culture he was in. But for the record, by far most of he teachings were objectively true and insightful.

I am also not suggesting that there is not a lot of evil prevalent among ultra-orthodox Jews. I will admit though, that every group and every ideology has some truth and logic.

And in regards to the proper level of sex-segregation; I wanted to mention that there is an indication in the Talmud that the only touching that is prohibited is a "loving touch", a sexually oriented touch, and not a casual one.

But in advocacy of sexual restraint in general, I will only say that the negative outcomes of free-sex are obvious to all.

A good day to you.

SJ said...

>> all I was attempting to state was that there are many different approaches to theology within Judaism that, based on the Biblical /Talmudic sources are considered valid in 'normative Judaism'.

That is what separates me from all the other people who although they may not be as extreme as Miller in pratice, they still view what Miller did as a legitamate expression of Judaism- and I do not.

>> And in regards to the proper level of sex-segregation; I wanted to mention that there is an indication in the Talmud that the only touching that is prohibited is a "loving touch", a sexually oriented touch, and not a casual one.

The way shomer negiah is practiced is that there is no physical contact at all. You may want to say what you wrote on my blog about the parameters of shomer negiah to the rest of the orthodox .... but then for disagreeing with them they may view you as unlearned at best and heretical at worst.

The Babysitter said...

SJ: "there is nothing wrong with having pleasure as long as you are not bothering anyone. Why don't you stop eating food because food is pleasurable and eat nothing but vitamins"

look what I commented to you on off the derech. Funny how I mentioned food without even reading what you wrote here. See I gave you your answer. Hashem wants us to enjoy food, He made so many different types, different colors, all for us to enjoy. The people who think Judiasm is about being unhappy and leading dull miserable lives, have a mixed up view of it. There may be less importance put on the pleasure, but if its not wrong, then there is no realize not to enjoy from this world, it's here for us to Enjoy. We make Brachos thanking Hashem for all the amazing stuff He created for us to enjoy.

"Shomer Negia is unreasonable."

It sounds reasonable to me. It's interesting when I was younger, 14, or 15 I had discussions with non Jews about these things, and they seemed to understand it so well. They admired the concept of Shomer Negiah.

What is it that you find unreasonable? It's not making you into a nun and saying you can't do it at all, there's just a time and place for everything. Like I said, your allowed the pleasure, it becomes holy by the way you channel it, by doing it the right time and place, with the right person.

Again the reason why Jews keep shomer negiah isn't because of the fear of being punished, with any halacha, its not because of the fear of punishment. Jews don't go to a church and admit all their sins to a person in a confessional. It is just between the person and Hashem. A person gets forgiven by Hashem for what they have done if they do Teshuvah. A person shouldn't live a life of fear.

"That is what separates me from all the other people who although they may not be as extreme as Miller in practice, they still view what Miller did as a legitimate expression of Judaism- and I do not."

I haven't read any of his books myself, but my older brother had gone through a phase where he would read his books, and I couldn't stand them, I dunno if its because of the way my brother read it or the content. But I can understand what your saying. But I knew it wasn't my type of thing. But yet, I still look up to R' Miller. I know he is greater than me. The reason why I didn't like what he said is because those were areas I found hard and I didn't want to face the fact that I may be doing stuff wrong. So I just say I think his ways are extreme. But yet I admire him or others that are extreme. I say I'm not on their level, so I'm not doing what they do. But yet I look up to them, that they are able to do it.

Like lets say someone who's in the Olympics, that exercise so much more, I may not need it since I'm not training in the Olympics, but yet I admire them for all the work outs they do. Not everyone is capable of being on a certain level, each finds their place in life, but their goal is to go higher and be better.

"The way shomer negiah is practiced is that there is no physical contact at all."

What's so bad if there's no physical contact? If its not a loving touch, then what do you gain by it? Why do you care if its allowed or not? It's not like you have to drive yourself crazy to keep it. If your by the store and you get change and the cashiers hand touches yours its ok. People may be extreme about it, but people are extreme about everything. They just want to be "better" in doing what they are told to do. Their view is a good one, but again not for everyone. They aren't killing anyone by not touching them.

SJ said...

>> [Shomer Negia] sounds reasonable to me. It's interesting when I was younger, 14, or 15 I had discussions with non Jews about these things, and they seemed to understand it so well. They admired the concept of Shomer Negiah.

I'll bet they'll agree that a guy not being able to hug & kiss his girlfriend is unreasonable.

>> Again the reason why Jews keep shomer negiah isn't because of the fear of being punished, with any halacha, its not because of the fear of punishment.

Orthodox women really should start studying talmud because it calls for halacha breakers to be thrown into hellfires 60 times hotter than the hottest fire in the universe (Berakhot 57b).

It should be noted that Bellatrix, one of the hottest stars that can be seen with the naked eye, is about 30,000 degrees kelvin.

Basically what orthodox judaism is saying is that, if you dare have a hive five with your girlfriend, invest in sunscreen.







>> But yet, I still look up to R' Miller. I know he is greater than me.

You can't possibly expect to be taken seriously unless you say that sleeping on a board is not a legitamate expression of Judaism.

>> What's so bad if there's no physical contact? If its not a loving touch, then what do you gain by it?

I see boyfriend and girlfriend hugging and kissing as normal behavior.

The Babysitter said...

SJ: "I'll bet they'll agree that a guy not being able to hug & kiss his girlfriend is unreasonable."

Who cares what other people think? Now I'm starting to understand you. You care so much about what American people think is reasonable. You don't understand Judiasm, don't think its special. So you view anything Jews do as crazy, like shaking the lulav, or lighting the menorah. Without meaning behind these things, then your right they are outdated rituals. It's only for the Jews who know what they are doing, and believe in it, that it means something, and isn't just crazy actions.

Well you have such fear systems with the police and IRS. Are you afraid of them? If you do the right thing then there is no reason to fear them.

There may be a gehenim, perhaps it has fire that will be burning hot. But I don't really think about it to much, perhaps I should start worrying about all the things I'm doing wrong and how I might burn, but that would just depress me, and I see no reason to think about it. I just continue doing the best I can and that's it. Yom Kippur I'll daven for forgiveness and regret all the bad I have done.

It's not the fact that he slept on the board. That action is meaningless, its what's behind the action that counts. His thoughts of why he did it. He must have thought holy thoughts when he did that. That this world wasn't important to him, that he just cares about Olam Haba, so he's willing to go through pain and suffering in this world, knowing his reward will be higher in the next.

Ok, you want to hug your boyfriend/girlfriend, then that's up to you. I'm not going to say what's normal. Normal is relative, for me I think its better not to. Why arouse feelings and complicate things? Why not just have one special someone? If you have a boyfriend/girlfriend and you feel they are important and you want to spend the rest of your life with them, then why not marry them first? and if it's just casual then why mess things up with a touch? Why not save that for someone special? Otherwise how is a spouse different from any other person?

SJ said...

>> SJ: "I'll bet they'll agree that a guy not being able to hug & kiss his girlfriend is unreasonable."

>> Who cares what other people think?


You are such a hypocrite Babysitter. You bring in the opinions of gentile american kids as if they matter when it supports your opinion, but i'm not allowed to bring in the opinions of others when it supports my opinion?


>> Now I'm starting to understand you. You care so much about what American people think is reasonable. You don't understand Judiasm, don't think its special. So you view anything Jews do as crazy.

1) Its not that I care what other Americans think, is that I am American and I'm in favor of a way of life in which personal freedom is primary.

2) I understand Judaism.

3) I think most things orthodox jews do are crazy.


>> perhaps I should start worrying about all the things I'm doing wrong and how I might burn,

don't you think that bein thrown in temperatures of unspeakable measurements is a tiny bit harsh for anything you may have done? I'm assuming you aren't a criminal here.


>> It's not the fact that he slept on the board. That action is meaningless, its what's behind the action that counts. His thoughts of why he did it. He must have thought holy thoughts when he did that. That this world wasn't important to him, that he just cares about Olam Haba, so he's willing to go through pain and suffering in this world, knowing his reward will be higher in the next.

1) Trying to legitimize sleeping on a board is NOT going to get you taken seriously.

2) There's no commandment for sleeping on a board so that makes the self inflicted pain that Miller did to himself sleeping on a board, self flagellation, and last I checked, that was a sin in orthodox judaism.



>> Ok, you want to hug your boyfriend/girlfriend, then that's up to you. I'm not going to say what's normal. Normal is relative, for me I think its better not to.

That makes you not normal.



>> Why arouse feelings and complicate things? Why not just have one special someone? If you have a boyfriend/girlfriend and you feel they are important and you want to spend the rest of your life with them, then why not marry them first? and if it's just casual then why mess things up with a touch? Why not save that for someone special? Otherwise how is a spouse different from any other person?

I'm not going to argue the merits of dating on this blog. This is a dissent from religion blog not a sociology blog and being against dating is beyond the pale enough as to be able to not take it seriously.

The Babysitter said...

SJ: ok, you're right I was a hypocrite, sorry.

Ok, I'm just too tired right now, I have no energy, I'll get back to all this later.

The Babysitter said...

SJ: I was wrong to be a hypocrite in that way. But just to add on, something I find funny. Today in class this catholic guy comes up in front of class to summarize sefer Vayikra. He said he will take a secular approach to it. He talked about the Karbanos, and Kashrus, and his secular approach was to explain the reasons behind each thing according to what he thought. So he said that it says not to have shellfish without scales, then he said he understands the reason for this is because they spoil, and basically health reasons. I was surprised he would try to "explain" each one. What was funny was the choices of stuff he spoke about. He spoke about stuff relating to blood, and then the topics of se*. Such typical guy subjects. It was funny how he talked about everything.

Anyways, About caring what people think, this is my take on it. You can disagree. I say that I care what people think, if I care about the person. I care what my relatives, teachers, friends think if I value their opinion, if I care about them. I don't care what strangers think, if I have no connection to them, and I will never encounter them, and I don't value their opinion.

So hopefully you won't need to sent into such fires. Although the whole topic is questionable. The whole point of "the fires" is to purify you, so that you can get the reward you truly deserve. So long as you haven't done "horrible" things, whatever they may be, then it won't be so bad, so you don't have to tremble in fear. or maybe you should, I have no clue.

"1) Trying to legitimize sleeping on a board is NOT going to get you taken seriously."

I told you I'm not legitimizing it. Only the thought that goes on behind the action. Same with doing other actions. If a mother talks non sense to her baby, as an outsider it may seem like she's crazy. But the thought behind it, is that she loves her baby and wants to talk "baby language" as if to relate to her baby.

"That makes you not normal."
Ok, you can look at it that way, since we have different views of what's normal. But I don't look at you as not normal. Just different.

SJ said...

>> The whole point of "the fires" is to purify you, so that you can get the reward you truly deserve.

1) I'm pretty sure the talmud is referring to fires, and not "fires," as if it means something other than fires.

2) Over 30,000 degrees kelvin for a video game on Shabbat makes sense?

>> I told you I'm not legitimizing it. Only the thought that goes on behind the action.

OK let's play a game called, Cut the Bull Shit. You were legitimizing it. If you wanted to disassociate yourself from Miller's actions, you would have said something along the lines of "sleeping on a board is not legitamate judaism." Nothing short of that is going to get you taken seriously, at least not by me.

The Babysitter said...

SJ: Well there are other views, not all say that it will be fire. I never heard about what temperature it will be.

Who am I to say what makes sense or not? I have no clue. But why concern yourself so much about the punishments?

Ok, sorry I don't take seriously what people with Bad Language say. Although I will try to listen, I just have a natural bias towards those that use bad language.

It is possible to disagree with stuff on a personal level, but still value it.

Ex. I do not like money, I don't want to marry a rich person, I think there are more important things. But yet I understand money's value and importance.

The Babysitter said...

SJ: technical question: are you always posting a double comment? or do you change things in your comment? for some reason I keep getting 2 e-mails of comments that seem identical.

SJ said...

>> Who am I to say what makes sense or not? I have no clue.

Then frankly there isn't much to discuss.

Find a clue.

As for your technical question, sometimes I may repost something to correct a typo.