Friday, November 18, 2005

Those Who Must Not Be Named

As everybody is no doubt well aware the chareidi community and the constitution of the United States of the Americas share a common value. A value that is the envy of many a people who until this day live in whole or quasi dictatorships. The value I speak of is, that all people should be free to express any idea and free to say anything they so wish. In the common parlance this is known as ‘freedom of expression’. President Bush goes on and on about it; admittedly Rav Eliashev a little less often.

Of course if one does opens ones mouth, or one does express a ‘wrong’ opinion one might find ones children getting kicked out of the school they attend. One might find oneself being asked to leave the shul/shteibel that one frequents. These are I suppose minor inconveniences.

OK story time. Two Jews go fishing together. A secular Jew and a chareidi. The chareidi catches nothing. The secular Jew catches more than enough to share among the members of his bridge club. When the chareidi Jew asks his colleague what is the secret of his success the secular Jew answers “ah well my fish are allowed to open their mouths”.

I find it very revealing that of the many blogs I read, which orthodox Jews own, the vast majority are written under pseudonym. How many of them reveal their real names? Almost none. Even a blog like DovBear who tries pretty hard to ride along a straight and narrow path finds it necessary to hide behind a cuddly (or is it grizzly?) pseudonym.

So lets ask some questions. Who is Frummer? Who was Mis-nagid? Who indeed is DovBear? Who is he that calls himself The Sheigetz? Who are all these people whose names must not be spoken? Why do all these people feel they must masquerade behind facades of many a kind? It is noteworthy that the only one who is upfront is Shlomo Leib Aranovitz, and he has completely left the community as those who read his blog will well know. Is this the price one has to pay for coming out?

I am not a ‘yachner’ (chatterbox) and its not that I really need to know who these people are in the flesh. I am noting the phenomenon. I am noting a pattern of non-disclosure, a pattern of deliberate attempts to put trackers off the scent.

Only a couple of weeks back he who sometimes is and at other times isn’t, The Godol Hador, went through several days of intense panic when he thought he was about to be ‘outed’. His normal rational, cool approach turned into something that was a lot less cool and a lot less rational. Behaviour well suited for one being persued. Why?

Let me put my sociological hat on and begin to analyse it. Yes it fits so here goes:

Why is this necessary? One could understand if some were doing it; but all of them are at it. Why? We have a pattern here. It must be saying something about the community they live in? Words like Stalinist and dictatorial spring to mind? Is that right. Hmm, I think I need to do some more research on this. Let me go back to those blogs and reread them critically; are there signs of fear, dissent? Wait, this might be a good subject for my doctoral dissertation. Yes it is a fantastic subject. But now I do need to meet these people. I am going to need to interview them clandestinely. So The Sheigetz when are you available? DovBear can I come over? I will be in a white car with tinted windows at the bottom of your street. Just get in.


Blogger Tamara said...

You ask some really great questions. What I wonder is how much longer, in this age of internet and cell phone technology, chareidi religious leaders will be able to exercise control in their communities.

8:58 AM  
Blogger Shlomo said...

To quote a great tzadekess (Janis Joplin), "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose."

Those other guys risk the possibility of losing everything, or at least a great deal within their communities. They are the brave ones for taking that risk. When I was still among the 'living', it is doubtful I would have had the beytzim to speak out.

For me, 'freedom' is easy. I have already lost everything.

10:46 AM  
Blogger Frummer????? said...


I don't see you giving your real name either! ;)

Why the need to ask us about our fears, don't you have them too?

We all know that our communities are very intolerant of any dissenting views, regardless of how valid the point being made. If I was to put my name onto my blog, my kids would be thrown out of their schools and I would be ostracised, or at worst, I would have some vile "defenders of the faith" cause me trouble. There is no such thing as free speech in our circles.

As Chassidim move more and more to the right and become even more radical - with the full support of our Rabbonim, the ever increasing numbers of people who find themselves disagreeing with this shift, find themselves without a Daas Torah to call their own. We all know that if you do not have a Daas Torah on your side of the fence, you are nothing, you are bad and wrong and your views are heretical.

That is why we remain anonymous.

(And as we slide down this slippery slope, we, in the words of the Scottish fellow from Dad’s Army, “we are doomed”. I am sometimes shocked to hear certain people agreeing with points I make on my blog, people I would have expected to tow the party line. All these people are essentially leaderless)


Why do you think they are banning them right left and center?

4:14 AM  
Blogger Shlomo said...

Giving your real name is not what's important here. Speaking frankly and honestly is.

Some of my chaverim had the nasty habit of dismissing a svara, hechsher, or psak din simply because Rov A offered it and he belonged to Chasidim X as opposed to Chasidim Y.

Lets say we get to know everything about you before you start blogging, the good, the bad, your yichus, where you learned, and who dislikes you. Chances are that your idea will be dimissed out of hand simply because YOU said it, and the possibility exists that your words will not receive the honor or scrutiny they deserve.

I'm all for anonymity!

"A Chosid by another name shukkles just as much."

Kol Tuv

6:57 AM  
Blogger Mis-nagid said...

Was? I'm not quite dead yet!

6:00 PM  
Blogger Zeh Sefer Toldot Adam said...

SL Aronovitz seems to be right on the mark. How many online discussions got bogged down in the issue of who said a certain remark, rather than in the inherent value of the content of the remark.
Isn't it just a peshita that our community cannot stand dissent and seeks to silence it before it challenges the authority of the rabbis? Isn't that how all authoritarian power structures behave? Isn't that why Lakewood has just banned the internet?

1:38 PM  
Blogger TheGirl said...

Can you see me, in the screwed up town called Stamford Hill finding a Shidduch if I wrote under my real name? Some how I dont think so.

9:58 AM  
Blogger happywithhislot said...

I dont post my name because I dont want my wife to know how much time im wasting on this stuff.

Secondly, im expressing opinions that i may want to take back one day. Once its out, there is no turning back.

Finally, i dont think its a jewish think to want to be anonymous on the internet.
Its plain common sense.
Why would i want murderes, lunatics etc, track me down (im talking about the lurking predators.)

10:27 AM  
Blogger happywithhislot said...

had a question on another topic.
You made it into NYTIMES today, and i remember your comment to Heretics final blog post.
You even have a post here about it.

So what is going on with him.

Thinking that you sekptics all stick together, did you really not know that he was starting up conartistic?

5:36 PM  
Blogger happywithhislot said...

Now i know why im anonymous.
I take back my previous comment.
Ive seen evidence elsewhere you were surprised by streimel.

7:09 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"masquerade behind facades "

The point is the people masquerade, but the IDEAS don't.

That's what this is about, ideas, not identities. Who cares what Godol Hador ate for lunch or where his kids go to school?

If you can't undertand the idea that losing anonymity has a chilling effect on the free exchange of ideas, you're living in a dream world.

Tell, Mr. Forthcoming, when's the last time you spanked the monkey?

9:01 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

By the way, thanks for being honest shlomo leib.

9:02 PM  
Blogger happywithhislot said...

hey BTA
Ive been honest as well!

8:59 AM  
Blogger Ben Sorer Moreh said...

We have lots of reasons for being anonymous. Some of us might get beaten or banished just because we 'blog. Others just need to be discreet, so that our companies' HR departments don't breath down our necks or because we're revealing embarrassing details about members of our families.

3:33 PM  

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