2023 Tu B'Av Then and Now
Chananya Weissman

August 22, 2023


Yaravam ben Nevat had a serious problem. He had spearheaded a secession from the kingdom of the house of David and ruled over ten tribes in Israel. However, the heart and soul of Jewish life, the Beis Hamikdash, was in Jerusalem, which he did not control. Yaravam feared that if the people continued to make thrice-annual pilgrimages to the Beis Hamikdash, they would see him and his kingdom as second-rate, return their loyalty to the house of David, and execute him.

He needed alternative places of religious worship that would supplant the Beis Hamikdash.

And he needed the rabbis to endorse it.

Chazal describe what happened in Sanhedrin 101B:

What does it mean 'And he took counsel' (Melachim 12:28)? Rabbi Yehuda said, he placed a wicked person next to a righteous person. He said to them, 'Will you sign your approval on all that I will do?' They said to him, 'Yes.' He said to them, 'I wish to be the king.' They said to him, 'Yes.' He said to them, 'Will you do all that I say?' They said to him, 'Yes.' [He said to them,] 'Even to serve idolatry?' The righteous one said to him 'God forbid!' The wicked one said to the righteous one, 'Do you really think a man like Yaravam would serve idolatry? He is only testing us, for he wants to know if we will accept his orders.'

The righteous rabbis were cajoled by these moles working on behalf of Yaravam to sign a letter ruling that the Jews should mindlessly follow whatever he said, to the point of serving idolatry. This really happened, and the results are known to all of us.

There was a prophet at the time by the name of Achiya HaShiloni. Achiya was no ordinary prophet. A prophet by definition is an extraordinary person, the likes of which we haven't had among us for thousands of years, but Achiya was extraordinary even among prophets. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai said about Achiya that the two of them together could draw the Jews close from the times of Avraham until Mashiach (Yerushalmi Brachos 65A , Bereishis Rabba 35:2). This is explained in various ways, but the mere fact that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai singled out Achiya tells us all we need to know.

That makes the next words in the Gemara even more astounding:

And even Achiya HaShiloni erred and signed.

This had such far-reaching effects that many generations later Yehu saw the signature of Achiya and strayed after idolatry as well.

This is not just an interesting and tragic story. It's a lesson. It's a warning.

It's a lesson we failed to learn and a warning we failed to heed.

A few days ago there was a conference by Rofim International with important information about the Covid poison shots and the overall Amalek agenda. In her introductory remarks, Brucha Weisberger – a hero in our time – said something astonishing and frightening (beginning at 10:37 here).

“About a year and a half ago, the government was putting tremendous pressure, they were having people go to rabbis and tell them that...the only people that were hospitalized were people that were unvaccinated – this was false – and the rabbis were about to come out and sign a proclamation that according to Jewish law, to save your life, you need to get vaccinated.

“With information that John [O'Looney] and Dr. Mike [Yeadon] provided the rabbis' eyes were opened and they didn't sign that, so not only [did they save] the Jewish community of London, but the ripple effect would have been that rabbis in other communities would also then have signed on, so they saved the entire British Jewry...the religious Jewish community they very much saved.”

Beneath the well-deserved praise and gratitude toward these brave righteous gentiles lie terrible fault lines in our community:

1. Many prominent rabbis in the UK were about to sign a proclamation no less dangerous and contrary to the Torah than the letter granting carte blanche to Yaravam, all because some friendly “experts” working for the least trustworthy of people and entities – yet supposedly so concerned with the health and well-being of Orthodox Jews – cajoled them.

2. Many other rabbis would have mindlessly piggybacked on this initial sham ruling to sign similar rulings, without any actual knowledge of what they were commanding from a position of authority.

3. Ignorant of how psak halacha actually works and ever-neurotic about what people think of them, the vast majority of religious Jews would have mindlessly followed these sham rulings based on false pretenses to jeopardize their physical and spiritual well-being.

All of this is in complete contravention of how Jewish law and society are supposed to operate.

At first glance we are supposed to be relieved that these rabbis received proper information in time and heeded it. However, this near-miss reveals a deep structural problem in our society.

The vast majority of rabbis in positions of authority and influence are either corrupt Erev Rav or well-intended but incompetent, lazy, and downright reckless. There is little functional difference.

The good-hearted but weak-hearted people among us will recoil at the harsh truth staring them in the face, and reflexively attempt to deny it, or explain it away. They may become angry at me for stating the unpleasant truth in a blunt way, but it needs to be said. There is no other way of looking at this, and no way of rationalizing the above that makes any of it okay.

There are many people today who wish to believe that their rabbi, or a nebulous group of rabbis known as “the Gedolim”, are incapable of error. They wish to believe that these rabbis transcend any possibility of being corrupted or misled, to the point that even questioning them is a crime on the level of heresy.

You know what's heresy? That's heresy!

Much of the Orthodox world has been overtaken by this in one form or another. The Chassidic world revolves around a Rebbe in a manner that, if not cultish, resembles cultish behavior so strongly that it is hard to tell the difference.

Stories in Chabad publications almost invariably drive home the lesson that the Rebbe is a miracle worker who sees and knows everything. “A good chasid doesn't ask questions!” we are often admonished.

But a good Jew does ask questions. Lots of them. If the answer isn't satisfying, or doesn't make sense, or seems to conflict with the Torah, he keeps pushing. And if the Rebbe has a problem with someone asking questions, he finds another Rebbe.

That's the way it always was, until sometime in relatively recent history, when honorable rabbis were replaced by Erev Rav and charlatans, it stopped being this way.

Chabad is far from the only culprit. Other sects warn us that we have to attach ourselves to a tzaddik, who does all of the heavy lifting and most of the thinking for us. We are to be totally devoted to this individual – and totally helpless without him. Of course, we are supposed to blindly follow whatever instructions he gives us, never question, and certainly never doubt, no matter what.

This is the basis of all Chassidus. The difference is only in the details.

The so called “Yeshiva world” or “Charedi world” is no better. Their rabbis do not have ruach hakodesh like Chassidic rabbis, but they have “Da'as Torah”, which is just as good. They know the entire Torah backwards and forwards and have a direct line to Hashem, who always puts the right words in their mouth. We are supposed to have complete emuna in these people, which, as with Chassidic rabbis, includes blindly and obediently following whatever they say without question or doubt.

We are also supposed to believe that even if, theoretically, a Charedi Gadol was somehow misled into giving an incorrect ruling, those who faithfully follow his words will see no harm. Even when the Charedi Gadol is wrong he is right, and thus we must not even trouble ourselves to examine whether he is right or wrong (assuming we are even capable of critically examining his words, which of course we are not).

This is completely against the Torah. It is heresy to the point of idolatry.

The so-called “Modern Orthodox” or “Dati Leumi” world is no better. Their rabbis have neither ruach hakodesh nor Da'as Torah, but they have advanced degrees and write scholarly articles with lots of footnotes from secular academic sources. More importantly, they are guided by scientific “experts”, who do possess a sort of Da'as Torah, in that they must never be questioned. Even if they are occasionally wrong, we are incapable of critically examining their words, and must blindly trust them like the intellectually superior critical thinkers we enlightened modern people are supposed to be, unlike those primitive non-thinking Charedim.

Pick your Glatt Kosher idolatry.

It wasn't like this even a couple of generations ago. Not nearly to this degree. It was understood that psak halacha required direct and thorough knowledge of the matter to be ruled upon, and that a halachic ruling would contain full details of the sources and thought process behind the ruling. A halachic ruling that was predicated on false pretenses, bad information, or faulty analysis would be easily identified and challenged. The rabbi was expected to address any questions and modify his ruling if appropriate.

Nowadays it is hard to find a proper psak halacha on any topic. Instead we have rhetoric, melodramatic proclamations, and orders. In place of proper Torah sources and detailed analysis, we have a pasuk from the Torah or a concept like pikuach nefesh presented as the entire basis for an extreme, sweeping ruling, with neither nuance nor context.

Everyone has to take a shot! Throw the children out of school! Do whatever your doctor says!

This is not Judaism. This is heresy and idolatry. It is what happens when the government, the media, the medical world, the rabbinate, the yeshivos, and the organizations are overrun with Erev Rav, and everyone else just piggybacks on them.

The Rambam writes in the laws of Sanhedrin 10:1 as follows:

If one of the judges in a capital case was among those ruling in favor or against, not because he said what seemed correct according to his own mind, but he turned after the words of his fellow, he has violated a negative commandment. About this it says (Shemos 23:2) “Do not answer after the majority to turn”. From our tradition we learned that one should not say at the time of voting, “It is enough for me to be like so-and-so.” Rather, say that which is before you.

A prominent Rosh Yeshiva from Brooklyn appeared on a propaganda video in which he promoted the Covid narrative; get tested, wear masks, etc. I have a recording of him admitting that he did the video because he was asked to, and he accepted what other rabbis had ruled on the matter. In other words, this rabbi had no idea what he was talking about, but he went on video giving people instructions with life-and-death implications.

I do not have permission at the present time to share this recording, but the specific identity of this pathetic excuse for a rabbi is less important than how widespread this sort of thing has become. There are numerous rabbis who did exactly the same thing, or, worse, actually did know what they were talking about but misled the community anyway, because they really work for someone else.

Yeravam ben Nevat engaged in a relatively primitive scheme, yet he managed to mislead the “leading rabbis” of his time – including one of our greatest prophets – to sign something they never should have signed. Wicked people tricked righteous people, and one piggybacked on the other, until the nation was serving golden calves.

What's different today? We don't have prophets, the rare rabbi who isn't an Erev Rav no longer performs due diligence before issuing a ruling, and the schemes to mislead us have become far more sophisticated.

We are very fortunate that righteous gentiles like John O'Looney and Dr. Yeadon got through to some rabbis before they ordered the community to take poison shots, and many people would have mindlessly obeyed.

However, the mere fact that it reached that point demonstrates how far we have drifted from the very fundamentals of Torah-true Judaism and how halacha is supposed to be determined. The Orthodox Jews in the UK dodged a bullet, but our enemies have many more in their arsenal.

We need to get our heads on straight.



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