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August 30, 2012

The Lies Of Rabbi Yisroel Belsky

Rabbi Yisroel BelskyThe rosh yeshiva of Torah Vodaas lies about metzitzah b'peh (MBP), the direct oral-to-bleeding-penis-sucking done by (primarily) haredi mohels immediately after circumcising the penises of little boys.

Rabbi Yisroel Belsky

First, Belsky's lies and outright, unmitigated gall:

In an interview in this week’s Ami Magazine, Rav Yisrael Belsky, rosh yeshivah of Torah Vodaas had sharp words for the opponents of metzitzah b’peh, including Dr. Tom Frieden, formerly health commissioner of New York City and now head of the Centers for Disease Control.

““Where do these people come in and tell mohalim what to do? They don’t have any understanding of this field. I spoke to Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and went through the statistics. The statistics don’t show that there is any problem. But he doesn’t understand this.

“I asked Frieden if it’s true that 80 percent of mohalim have antibodies for herpes and 80 percent of them do metzitzah b’peh. He said yes. I said, ‘According to your statistics, there should be at least 500 cases of herpes. How come there isn’t even one [aside from a previously documented case]? It shows that your statistics are flawed!’ The theories are not developed. They don’t prove anything. So Frieden changed the topic and started talking about something else. He had no response.”

For the rest of the interview, including Rav Belsky’s view on Mayor Bloomberg’s role in the actions against metzitzah b’peh and his suggestions for community involvement, as well as interviews with Romi Cohn, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Rabbi Moshe Duvid Niederman, and many others, pick up this week’s Ami Magazine.

Yisroel Belsky spent months in intensive care in a Brooklyn hospital, hovering near death. His life was saved by doctors who relied on the same science Belsky now dismisses.

That hospitalization only ended a a couple months ago, and one could question Belsky's mental competence. After all, elderly people who become seriously ill often lose a significant amount of mental function.

Of those that do, about half recover what was lost, but it often takes several months of incremental gain.

But the truth is that Belsky doesn't need to have dementia-like symptoms to behave this way. Much of his career during the past decade or two has been filled with bad behavior, from allegedly ordering the kidnapping and beating of a man who refused to give his wife a get (something halakhicly correct when Jewish religious courts, known as  beit dins, had legal bailiff powers granted by the state, but not now when they don't), allegedly obstructing justice in at least one child sexual abuse investigation and inciting violence against the victim and his family, and a slew of other behaviors that also should have long ago landed him in prison or driven him from public Jewish life.

Belsky is a thug.

To be fair, I think he believes he's doing the right thing, that he's standing up for God and for the Torah, and that he's doing what others know to be right but lack the courage, the principles, or the position to do.

But he's still wrong, and he's still a thug.

Now his thuggery has shifted to MBP.

Frieden understands the numbers. He understands them far, far better than Belsky ever will. He also has decades of training and experience in public health Belsky completely lacks.

Babies have been maimed by MBP. Babies have died from MBP. Those are facts – facts whose proof far exceed the standard of proof required by halakha.

And while we don't yet have a way to measure this, it appears likely that many more babies have less serious brain injuries from MBP that cause mild to moderate learning disabilities.

The Mishna, which is the primary source for the circumcision procedure, calls for "metzitzah" – suction. It does not say "metzitzah b'peh" – oral suction, which means that other forms of suction can be used.

The Mishna also classifies metzitzah as a health measure and equates it with and lists it with putting cumin powder on the wound – another health measure the Mishna requires.

However, mohels do not use cumin powder today and haven't in a very, very long time.


Because there are better, safer, more effective ways to treat the wound.

You haven't seen demonstrations over this and haredi rabbis like Belsky haven't pontificated on it.


Because "we" – the "authentic" Jewish community and, more particularly, mohels – stopped using cumin powder on our own, with the consent of rabbis and without any outside pressure.

But metzitzah b'peh was first stopped 200 years ago when a wave of infant deaths and illness was linked to it. The Hatam Sofer, one the greatest rabbis of his age and the "founder" of haredi Judaism, allowed the use of a glass tube. The mohels placed the tube over the baby's penis and sucked the glass, similarly to sucking through a straw.

The Hatam Sofer ruling relied in part on the facts, noted above, that the Mishna requires metzitzah – not metzitzah b'peh – and it does so only for health reasons, just like it required cumin powder to be placed on the circumcision wound.

However, later on members of the early Reform Movement and members of the Haskalah, Jewish Enlightenment, wanted to ban metzitzah b'peh outright because it was unhygienic and unseemly.

Haredi rabbis fought against that potential ban, going as far as claiming that the Hatam Sofer's well-known permit to use a glass tube was, in fact, a forgery.

But it isn't.

Many of the rabbis who made the claim clearly knew the claim they were making was false. They knew the Hatam Sofer had permitted use of a glass tube.

But they lied to "protect" the mitzvah of circumcision, which they believed was under attack by the reformers and the doctors, and the haredi rabbis did this even though they knew babies would die as a result.

And that is what Yisroel Belsky is doing now. He's lying to "protect" the mitzvah of circumcision, which has been expanded by haredi rabbis to include metzitzah b'peh against historical and halakhic evidence to the contrary. They oppose using a sterile glass tube for metzitzah because Dr. Thomas Frieden, Mayor Bloomberg, the Centers for Disease Control, the NYC Department of Health and Hygiene, the New York State Department of Health,Rabbi Moshe Dovid Tendler,  and the other critics of metzitzah b'peh are not haredim, and because these rabbis, including Belsky, are still fighting anachronistic battles from the early 19th Century today.

And sure as grass is green and snow is cold, as sure the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, babies will be sickened, maimed and even killed because of it.

And the saddest thing may very well be that many haredim will view the illnesses, disabilities and deaths of these innocent children as holy sacrifices made to God, sad but necessary prices to pay to "protect" the mitzvah of circumcision.

But in reality they are offering sacrifices for a mitzvah, metzitzah b'peh, that God did not command, sacrifices that He surely does not desire.


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This is what happens when they are bereft of all shame,no god and no humanity

Like all other Haredim I can think of, they all suck.

Torah VoDaas should rename its yeshiva to Torah V'meshugas.


I would lick up every word you said, except that I now know that if it was up to you, you would ban all brit milah.

Which proves that what the rabbis said may be true: (from YWN)

This is the first time when the rightness Government of the United States who has always given us the possibility of observing our religion that they are intervening, in the Jewish religion, to establish conditions in the observation of Torah and Mitzvos.

It should be known, that this is only the beginning of their decrees, for their plan and desire is to undo the foundations of Bris Mila in its entirety, may the merciful one save us.

I don't think you really care about MBP or the children who may be maimed. You only care about eradicating brit milah.

And so, Belsky has an agenda, and you have an agenda. He may lie for his agenda, and you may lie for your agenda. So who is correct?

I don't know.

But so far, one thing that the rabbis said IS true. That those against MBP are really against all brit milah.

when u call it penis sucking it just ruins your credibility. They are not sucking the penis, you jerk. If you were an honest person you would just say oral suction or orally suctioning the blood from the circumcision wound, on the baby's penis. But, you are a sensationalist sleazebag blogger with one agenda, to bash Orthodox Jews and anyone else who doesn't agree with your religious or political views.

"After all, elderly people who become seriously ill often lose a significant amount of mental function."

Even a 50% reduction in mental function, he has the twice the mental function that you possess. Seek mental help, you need it badly.

Let the battle begin.

It has NOTHING to do with metzitzah b'peh killing and maiming babies becuase it doesn't.
If Meisu Echav Machmas Milah then it is forbidden to make a bris on the child becuase pikoech nefesh comes before everything.So to say that metzitzah b'peh KILLS children is not true otherwise NO ONE in the frum community would continue it.
The city health department REFUSES to release information to the moholim and rabbonim involved in this fight.They filed a a request under the the freedom information act about the last case and still waiting for a reply.

This is simply an all out war against bris milah in general by the today's yesvasks and spoiled rotten self hating Jew king Bloomberg got on the ban wagon.

BTW Der Yid and Der Blatt has this week a kol koreh from dozens of noted rabbonim about this how we need to fight this battle.
This is the USA and freedom of religion is part of this great country.

I always listen to the rabbis. They, of course, know so much more due to their direct line to God than would some lowly city or state health commissioner or CDC chairman.

Thank God the rabbis are here to save us from science and knowledge.

/yes this is sarcasm

Thanks Shmarya
I remember you once had a nice conversation with Rabbi. B. Maybe you can engage him in conversation about this as well...

I remember you once had a nice conversation with Rabbi. B. Maybe you can engage him in conversation about this as well...

Posted by: man | August 30, 2012 at 02:52 PM

Highly unlikely.

It has NOTHING to do with metzitzah b'peh killing and maiming babies becuase it doesn't.

Yes, of course. All the scientific evidence that proves you wrong doesn't exist, and all the doctors and scientists who cite that evidence are liars.

Satmar 'logic' 101.

If per your logic the talmidim of the Chasam Sofer lied then the doctors and scientists are even biggerliars.
Any, any observant Jew has far more interest in the well being of a young child far more then anyone fighting bris milah in general.

Recently I've heard frum people mentioning that B"H the baby's bris was not MBP.

Some frum people understand the dangers.

Joseph-If you cannot tolerate reality or truth you shouldnt come here showing how intolerant you are with someone who has a different oppinion then you.

If we are to believe that there is a "Grand Desinger" and there is; and if we are to believe that he is "perfect," then who are "rabbis" to "re-design" HIS PERFECT CREATION: The male child.

Are the Rabbis by their actions stating, "God is wrong in his design?" They most certainly are!!! The HUBRIS of "Rabbis" knows no bounds: they are mocking God.

Lubavitchers are Christians | August 30, 2012 at 02:46 PM

I mosty agree.

Deremes-Are you for real no dares stop mtz,bp because no one dares to come out and say its dangerous,everyone is afraid of their own shaddow, thats how fear controls the hassidim fear is their ultimate weapon they would shun the person the second he says blue is blue that is the whole essence of the hassidishe wolrd a cult thatis using fear to get their way

put Rabbi B in your search bar-
you wrote this in one of your posts:
15.My impression of Rabbi Belsky is that he is a kind, learned, honorable man.

God is not amused-This is how the rabbis delude themselfs and everyone else ,they act like gods backed up by their gullible followers and then make beleive that they are god saying anything they feel like any childish nonsense,they replace an unseen god by acting like one.

put Rabbi B in your search bar-
you wrote this in one of your posts:
15.My impression of Rabbi Belsky is that he is a kind, learned, honorable man.

Posted by: man | August 30, 2012 at 03:21 PM

That was 8 years ago and I no longer believe it to be true.

Still another voice of "reason" is heard from. His motto should be: "Don't confuse me with the facts. My mind is made up". Incidentally, where is it written that men should not get haircuts from time to time? Most of these guys look like they have issues about going to the barber even once every month or so.

that sucks!

So because you spend endless hours on a computer in a basement,trying to scrape up any garbage you can about orthodoxy,now you think you will teach rabbi Belsky a mishnah?!
I think you're off the deep end Shmarya.
I have nothing to do with Rabbi Belsky,but he sure knows a hell of alot more than you when it comes to torah study!!

going off the D--With all that said you forgot he the rebbe is not a doctor,you just made a super shoite of youreself.

janci-be productive and don't live out your golden years bashing the hassidishe world each minute of the day.You retired,fine.Go visit the sick do some volunteer work in the goisha community.And btw di tipish Rabbi Belsky is not hasidish.

I am convinced that there is a sinister agenda here. So I am going to get into the gutter with these pedophiles. I bet if this vile "ritual" was done by the Rabbi completely naked: I bet you would observe a chubby. I am not being faceteous either.
Because frankly there is NO real purpose to this, IF these old buzzards aka Rabbis acutally believed that God is perfect.

You can't say He is perfect but, creates imperfections.

(The imperfections in humans are done by none other than humans theselves that they perpetuate, by teaching it to their children. Just thought I would throw that in before people went off on a tangent on that concept.)

But so far, one thing that the rabbis said IS true. That those against MBP are really against all brit milah.

Posted by: Lubavitchers are Christians | August 30, 2012 at 02:46 PM

Lies again. What a surprise coming from you. Many of those in healthcare, including myself, are pro-circumcision and anti-MBP.

‘According to your statistics, there should be at least 500 cases of herpes. How come there isn’t even one [aside from a previously documented case]? It shows that your statistics are flawed!’

This is what passes for intelligent thinking? Herpes is, B"H, not always present and not always contagious. If a person goes 10 years between outbreaks then for 10 years he is no danger to anyone. But herpes gives no warning when it's about to reappear and is also contagious for several days before the cold sore appears so a mohel could still be a danger to the infant in the absence of a visible lesion.
This means that we should be thanking God that not more children weren't infected, not denying that it's a problem.
To this day the halacha says that when you bentch you have to remove the bread knife from the table first because in the times of Chazal someone stabbed himself with it because of the grief he felt over the destruction of the Temple. One guy who was probably unhinged and today we all remove the knife. Yet an increasing number of babies are infected by a completely preventable circumstance and we're forbidden to change it?

So because you spend endless hours on a computer in a basement,trying to scrape up any garbage you can about orthodoxy,now you think you will teach rabbi Belsky a mishnah?!
I think you're off the deep end Shmarya.
I have nothing to do with Rabbi Belsky,but he sure knows a hell of alot more than you when it comes to torah study!!

Posted by: going off the D | August 30, 2012 at 03:28 PM

Let him prove it.

He start by explaining why the Hatam Sofer was wrong.

Are you pro-circumcision by a mohel who is not a doctor and it can also be done in shull or in house not in a doctors office?

Deremes-I am getting to like you haha but i like bashing the hassidim they are comical to me:) so what he is not hassidish but he is under their influence and dont forget i am older then you, derech eretz kudmu letoire.

There is medical evidence that male infant circumcision has substantial beneficial health outcomes. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently rewrote their position from neutral to pro-circumcision.

The is no medical evidence that metzizah, in any form is beneficial. There is evidence, and logical support for the danger of doing it b'peh. There are very clear cultural and halachic reasons for brit milah. There are only modern assertions that mitzizah b'peh is an integral part of the mitzvah.

Based on these things, I am completely in favor of brit milah, neutral on circumcision of male infants of religions that do not have a requirement, and completely opposed to the dangerous, extra-halachic practice of metzizah b'peh.

I also note that there is not a single person in the world today who has the right to the title "Rabbi" as סמיכה hasn't been a possibility since about 360 CE. There is no one to decree anything in the name of Torah, the can only speak in the name of their cabal. I am not a member of this life-denying, inhumane sect and never will be.

Yet, I have no desire to end brit milah and no hidden agenda to end Judaism or destroy the Torah. In fact, if I did, I would simply remain silent since so far as I can see, these people are much better at doing that than I could ever be.


First, shalom aleichem. It's good to see you, I hope you and your family are well, and parnasa is good for you.

Second, though you didn't ask me the question, I will answer it:

I am completely in favor of a traditional mohel performing the brit milah in a shul, or a house. They do not need to be medical doctors but they do need to be competent in the performance of the mitzvah, disease-free, and must not perform metzizah b'peh.

Yaakov-- I am surprised that you dont mention the pain the baby has,in my oppinion that is the reason the nonjews are against it you never ever mention that yaakov,i would go further then you i would make them anesthesize the part so it would be pain free for the newborn it is the humane way.

Yaakov- Forgot to mention we go against our own rules when we inflict pain on a living think,it is called tzae bal hayim,it is the whole essence of jewdism.


Having witnessed many circumcisions in shul, including my own sons', I do not believe that the pain is problematic when the mohel is skilled.

On the other hand, I don't have a problem with the idea of anesthetic, so it could be used if it is a practical improvement. I don't think that there is an over-riding mitzvah to "cause no pain", though it is clear that causing unneccesary suffering is anti-Jewish.

As far as tza'ar ba'alei chayim goes, that's concerned with cruelty to animals. It is possible to make a logical argument that it should apply to any person that cannot understand the pain as well. So an infant, or a mentally incompetent person would be covered if that's the case.

Gideon Levine-Chayim is to all living things not necessarily to animals only, i am sure the pain is very very intense its not only at the brit its also afterwards the urination that touches the sensitive cut part until it heals which can be weeks,as i wrote before the nonjews are against it for exactly this reason cruelty and bodily harm lets not forget we are a minority in this world we cant ignore others oppinions because we feel we are chosen that bought the hate on us for millinium.


I was only making a distinction. The halachic concept of tza'ar ba'alei chayim is tied to a responsibility for creatures not at the same level as ourselves. So we have to be specially careful not to abuse our privileged position by abusing them.

For human beings—competent adults and older children—there are other reasons not to abuse or injure. And, there is a qualitative difference as well. For example, we can injure a person who speaks our language with words, but not one who doesn't, or an infant, or an animal, both of which cannot speak any language.

Another problem is that animals cannot communicate their suffering in any articulate form. In extremis, they can cry out, but in lesser cases they may not be able to let us know, so we have a special obligation to be careful.

So, practically we do have an obligation to avoid cruelty to people as well as animals, I don't think that tza'ar ba'alei chayim offers good purchase to take that stand. You could say that it is a kal v'chomer argument you are making, but the distinction of understanding, I believe, makes that invalid. If there is any kal v'chomer to be made, it is the reverse, that if you are not supposed to be cruel to humans, then you certainly shouldn't be cruel to animals who cannot understand nor defend themselves.

Are you pro-circumcision by a mohel who is not a doctor and it can also be done in shull or in house not in a doctors office?

Posted by: Deremes | August 30, 2012 at 03:42 PM

Absolutely! Models are experts at circumcision. I've seen many if them use superb sterile technique. Aside from MBP, I would trust most Mohels more than most pediatricians, so far as avoiding complications.

Sodry, Mohels not models, iPad typo :-/


No need to be sodry. We undedstand about the iPar.


Was your post about lying a prelude to this one? Do you contend that Belsky knows the dangers of MBP but still tells parents that it's safe? Consequently, parents and their sons suffered because of it?

"... So Frieden changed the topic and started talking about something else. He had no response.”

This demonstrates the utter futility of arguing with fundamentalists. You won't change their minds, and when you walk away in disgust, they thinks it's because you haven't got a response and they tell themselves they've bested you.

Belsky is a hypocrite for defending MBP. He comes from Litvish tradition. All of the litvaks gave up MBP for health reasons a hundred years ago. Until recent decades that was their consensus position. One older person in Vilna witnessed MBP only once in his life and it was from a visiting mohel from outside Lita. So the health risk was well known even without our current medical science.

Belsky is being used as a shil but will end up corrupting the Litvish halachic view.

Shmarya, stop with the penis sucking rhetoric. It is inflamatory and counter productive.

Yaakov, I am constantly impressed with your ability to write clearly and your ability to think, and am finding your posts to be quite enjoyable to read.
Thank you.
Maybe you should get your own website like Shmarya's...?

Yaakov-- I am surprised that you dont mention the pain the baby has,in my oppinion that is the reason the nonjews are against it you never ever mention that yaakov,i would go further then you i would make them anesthesize the part so it would be pain free for the newborn it is the humane way.

Posted by: jancsibacsi | August 30, 2012 at 04:38 PM


Thank you for this post. I am not Jewish and my objection to circumcision is exactly the fact that it is excruciatingly painful for the infant. We now have the technology to make this pain-free. We should do so. This applies to both religious circumcision AND the ordinary circumcisions performed in secular hospitals for hygienic reasons.

If proper pain relief were given, I think objection to this procedure would disappear.

Uh oh, yerachmiel lopin became a Haredim troll. He's bashing shmarya's penis sucking obsession. Yerachmiel, you're no different than the agudah and all the Haredim rabbi psychopaths defending their penis sucking rituals, you penis sucker.


Thank you for the kind words. I could never do what Shmarya does both because he is tireless in finding material, and because I have a different profession. I do have a rather quiet blog which is linked to my name in the comment and I did start to write a blog on Jewish thought but abandoned it as quixotic and am unlikely to return to it.

For now I will be content to occasionly comment here, but I am happy that you find my writing enjoyable and appreciate you saying so.

The one Gadol of the ages who was college - educated writes clearly that Metzitzah is an inherent part of the bris milah, and that it must be done bepeh. See Teshuvas Binyan Tzion who had a college degree.

groinem--Anyone who holds that point of view is mentally deranged just like you,megalomaniac that you are,there is no reasoning with meshuganes like you,as they say you are shtark meshuge.


You are amazingly polite to someone like me, Yaakov, considering the number of anti-Judaism posts I have made recently.

Most refuse to respond to my provocative and probably offensive posts, and I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it has yet to make an appearance, much less drop.

When I question everything you might stand for including your long-held self-identity, and get no response, what can I do but take it as an indication of the severity and depth of your indoctrinated ideology?

Perhaps I'd get more of a response from a North Korean, but I hear most of them don't even have a computer...

But there I am being semi-rude again, or at least provocative.

I am a troll, but an honest and well-meaning one. I do not go for the "lulz", fortunately.

If Shmarya wants to ban me for this, it would at least be the first response I've ever had from any "Jew" whatsoever on these issues.

The closest I've gotten to a response here was the argument I had with you over the illusion of self-awareness we had.

Isn't refusing to talk things over one of the reasons there is no peace in the Middle East?

Is it something they teach you in shul or what?

Who is strong enough in their faith or position to argue with me?

No one but you so far, amongst the nominal Jewish population on the internet.

But I do occasionally run into very well educated and polite people like you, so I guess it could be worse.

The only other person I have encountered is a Jewish atheist, who frustratingly agreed with me and I with him on almost everything. Very frustrating indeed.

It may sound rather threatening to readers, but I am not in a position to make actual threats:

Any group with a group-identity that is based upon unsupportable and delusional forms, that also refuses to engage in dialogue or self-examination, will likely, at some future point, find they have abdicated any defense of the harmful activities of the group by default and might well prompt a response that does not take into account their delusional and biased points of view.
Now I just wrote that to see how it would sound.
It almost sounds like something a fascist might write to invoke fear for some nefarious purpose.

But I am just trying to point out that the constant refusal to work together with other people not in your group has the real potential to not only cause harm, but the potential to provoke activities to curb or otherwise impact your group and/or group identity.

Yaakov, in terms of living the Torah, you will find that relying, as you must, upon individual interpretation of how to live as a "proper" Jew (no true scotsman fallacy), you give up any claim to any authority at all and show that there truly is no guiding force "inspiring" your rabbis and that the whole thing is a scam that is either known or unknown by the adherents within your group.

Damn, I hate how I just keep rambling on like this...and I wish there were a more polite way to say these things...

Maybe you enjoy reading my stuff? Nah.

You're a polite fellow and I'm only sometimes polite. You win the polite award, no question. If you would prefer we dialogue over on your blog, just say the word.
I'm sure Shmarya might like to have his thread return to on-topic posts...


Though I have an attachment to Judaism, I am certainly a heterodox rather than orthodox Jew. I am shomer shabbat, and concern myself with the performance of mitzvot but very few people who consider themselves "orthodox" would find me acceptable.

I criticize rabbinic authority regularly, I engage in philosophical investigation, and I believe in the right—in fact, the obligation—of anyone claiming to lead a Jewish life to take control of their relationship with Torah.

I am scientifically literate, intellectually honest, and have no problem at all with anything that can be demonstrated empirically true. I don't think that science is deceptive, or that the pronouncements of the Rabbis—past or present—can override the physical world.

I have learned to see beauty in our tradition, wheat mixed with chaff, and lately, covered in mud, but still there. Selfish though it may be, my goal is to rescue that wheat for myself, even if I can get no help from my co-religionists. I don't see a dilemma of swallowing the narrishkeit whole or abandoning it wholesale. In fact, I see people becoming disillusioned with one mythology and making the ironic leap of embracing another. I am not interested in someone else's thinking on what I should be, I want to think for myself.

I learn from everyone I encounter, good and bad. I learn ethics, logic, and more subtle and unnameable complexities. I learn from the fools and the wise, and everyone in between. But in the end I take responsibility for myself, and I have discovered that there is no singular "Truth" to be had in this complex, chaotic world. But, critically, I have also learned that this is the wrong thing to pursue, and that emet to use a word I can create a definition for, comprises something so complex and dynamic as to be inaccesible if it isn't in motion.

Emet is a process. If we think of it as a noun and not a verb, we have become epistemic taxidermists, moving the "skin" of a now-dead thing onto a form that we have constructed. Life is a dance with the world, sometime you lead, sometimes you follow; you move forward and back, and find yourself in different parts of the room without knowing just how you got there.

So, I dance with the world, and the people in it. Especially the people. You say I am polite, but I can't take credit for that. I am polite because I have no choice. It would be, in my Weltanschauung, an aveirah to be impolite. I sometimes slip, and say or do things that I feel I shouldn't, and then I am compelled to apologize, not out of piety, but out of visceral discomfort.

On your invocation of "no true Scotsman", I am not vulnerable to that fallacy because I have no a priori definition of who is a Jew, or precisely what a Jew does. I look at the time, place, and actions and see if they are consonant with my understanding of Torah.

I would never say, "a true Jew would never do X". I would say, "if you claim to be guided by Torah then your actions should be in line with it". If that person thinks they are, in fact, doing what the Torah demands, we are at an impasse. In fact, I have often inverted the fallacy, and said "if that is what it means to be a Jew, then do not count me among your number".

I say this rhetorically since I realize that practically speaking, I cannot remove myself from their number, and I share their fate. This, and the glimmer of a spark of Torah that hasn't yet been extinguished, is the only thing that keeps me even tenuously attached to "the orthodox community", and that attachment is tenuous indeed.

Yaakov, if I might impose on you, I'm curious to know something. How do you reconcile you intellectual integrity and openness with the Torah? Since Chumash and Torah sheh B'al Peh do teach, in fact demand, intolerance as well as violence in a variety of life circumstances; on the surface it seems that it would cause you to experience an emotional or cognitive dissonance.

Since Chumash and Torah sheh B'al Peh do teach, in fact demand, intolerance as well as violence in a variety of life circumstances
Posted by: SkepticalYid | August 31, 2012 at 06:55 AM

Can you please expand on that? Specifics?

Posted by: Lubavitchers are Christians | August 31, 2012 at 07:07 AM

I prefer not to be extremely specific as this blog is perused by people from all religious backgrounds.

I would suggest you consider the actions incumbent upon a Jew when passing a Gentile cemetery or large gathering of Gentiles. Additionally , research Rambam on sexual relations between a Jewish man and Gentile woman.


I am interested in the principles of Torah, and the practices only insofar as those principles are embodied in them. I recognize the evolutionary process that shapes human society and believe that the things you are talking about were the best that Jews could manage in that time and place.

I also believe that it is required, if one is going to be "true to Torah" (this is my opinion, since you asked, and has no force whatever in the "Yiddishe velt") that one must participate in that evolutionary process, and change practice where it is at odds with principle.

This requires judgment and risk. It requires taking personal responsibility for an ethical life, and the three key relationships that Torah addresses: with oneself, with other people, and with God.

So far as the last of these goes, this is the most personal to me. My conception of God is not one that fits with orthodoxy. It is a matter of internal experience, not external. The very word, "God" is misleading in my use because people who most "care" about such things would find my definition unacceptable, but it is mine—not theirs. I only use the word for lack of anything better.

So, where the "traditional" teaching of practice is at odds with our improved understanding of ethics, I can, without hesitation, discard those practices. Where they still function as a means to the end they should provide, I can maintain them. And some have value in self-discipline or cultural connectivity; or are neutral. This can be maintained, but I don't demand them of anyone.

That was very interesting, thanks Yaakov! So please indulge me a bit further. If you are, in a manner of speaking, "reconstructing" Torah and Mesorah based on your own dialectic; why not choose a Buddhist sect or Ba'hai or Jainism (by way of example) as the foundation of your ethical structure?

What kind of description on metziza bpeh? .you should atleast try to hide your haterd for the Torah .


Because I am a Jew. I could choose some other foundation, but that would be uprooting myself for what I perceive as no gain. I have studied many other traditions, and am happy to take from them what I find sympathetic, but, I am organically a Jew, and any other orthodox system you can name would require just as much "reconstruction" as the one I "come by honestly". I was raised in a Jewish milieu, and have a "jewish soul" to speak poetically.

As far as your elliptical reference to Reconstructionism is concerned, I do have some sympathy for the ideas of Mordecai Kaplan. I think he, like many philosophers, was very insightful and his description of the situation is enlightening in many ways, but, as is also common, I find his prescription for a solution as misguided. I have the luxury of distance from his time, and the advantage of hindsight concerning what his movement became.

I have nothing against Reconstructionist congregations, per se, but I also don't find a home there. Hence, my own attempts, which I personally call "Pragmatic Judaism". My own idea doesn't require me to preserve anything in particular about the appearance of Judaism.

I don't measure myself against the appearance of the orthodox in the way that seems universal to the other movements within Judaism. I neither find a need to distance myself from orthodoxy nor to embrace it, I don't need its approval, nor its censure to feel I am doing the right thing. But I am still a Jew, and I will discover what that means by the process of being one.


You are not alone in your thoughts and practice of Judaism. Personal exploration of one's relationship to Hashem, oneself, fellow Jews, and the outside world are important and formerly encouraged and the norm outside the chasidic community.

Religious Judaism today discourages questioning of any kind of Torah, its teachers, and Rabbis, even among the non-chasidic. (I believe that the author of chovavos lvovos, Duties of the Heart, states that in his introduction.)

Jews outside the ghetto lived active lives in the JEWISH community (not communities)and the gentile community. They gained respect from all communities.

My great-uncle, a European ordained Rabbi, told us that a Rabbi is just a man. Today a Rabbi is considered higher than the average man. I was also taught that the difference between rabbis and monks is that rabbis live in this world and priests live in seclusion. Today walls surround the frum Jewish community (Lakewood, Williamsburg)that discourage outside influence. There, textbooks and news are censored. Isn't that the same as living in a monastery? The same as the Church censoring and approving of books?

Like you I deplore mind control. Religious Judaism today has become a cult. We and many others seek a place to belong.


(I believe that the author of chovavos lvovos, Duties of the Heart, states in his introduction the OPPOSITE.)

Bas Melech:

Thank you for your encouragement. I think that you are correct, in former times (though not for very long), such personal responsibility was a feature of a serious Jew.

Between the Enlightenment and the Holocaust there was a time when Jews were making progress in integrating being Jewish with science and modern thought. After the war, the backlash against movements which were the beginning of what I would consider Jewish Light, such as Torah im Derech Eretz and the work of people at Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums, and the like.

These were Jews taking the first steps of integrating the Enlightenment Philosophy into Judaism and it lead to a promising manifestation of Torah which was cut down by the Nazis, and then, by the Rabbis who fled to the United States.

This work was in a primitive state to be sure, but today even the written evidence of the actual positions of people like Rabbi S.R. Hirsch are being called "forgeries" so that he can be put on display but his innovation forgotten.

The current orthodoxy is necessarily regressive. Progress is actually called evil, and the rule is that we can only get worse as we move "farther from Sinai". I reject this. I believe in human progress. I believe that's the point of the process we call "being a Jew".

So, I will do what I can for myself, my family, and anyone who wants to listen to me. I know that I have no home in orthodoxy, and because the other movements are self-defined according to orthodoxy, I have no place there either. From where I stand, they are all one thing. They all do good and bad, they all have strengths and weaknesses, and they all suffer from a sort of solipsism that seems impossible to escape.

to me this is the real issue a turf war on the rabbi’s part

Because "we" – the "authentic" Jewish community and, more particularly, mohels – stopped using cumin powder on our own, with the consent of rabbis and without any outside pressure.


So to say that metzitzah b'peh KILLS children is not true otherwise NO ONE in the frum community would continue it.

your prove is that since they do it, must be it doesn’t harm. I guess smoking does not harm since people smoke

in addition, if they believes that MP must be done, then all the evidence that it does harm will be dismissed and then claim it does not harm or it cannot do harm if it was required by halacha

Deremes, why do parents refuse to name the mohel in cases when the baby died or suffered brain damage or fisher does not take a test to see if he has herpies? You and they should jump at the opportunity to prove the world wrong?


HaShem should give youand your family strength and guidance to do what is right.

Many of us older folk remember the good old days in America before all the chumrahs. Ahavah motivated our observance instead of fear.


HaShem should give youand your family strength and guidance to do what is right.

Many of us older folk remember the good old days in America before all the chumrahs. Ahavah motivated our observance instead of fear.

Posted by: Bas Melech | August 31, 2012 at 11:34 AM

the good old days I thought you where referring the Jewish gangsters


Your characterization of MBP as turf war is good.

Soon yeshivas will ask potential students if the had MBP.

The shidduch resumes will state that bochur had MBP.

If MBP bochurim and chossons will need a bris dom.

Posted by: Bas Melech | August 31, 2012 at 11:45 AM

maybe it should have been handled differently and quietly not showing up the frum leaders and maybe the results would have been different

jancsi bacsi
I presume you enjoy your ignorance.. Did you see the Teshuva? Did you understand it? You give a psychological diagnosis without the information necessary.

groinem-No one is as ignorant as someone who doesnt want to accept reality and that is that no mbp under any circumsatnce,primitive animals lick their young we are not animals nd especially licking a cut piece of flesh with anothers mouth, the shame that this is done is beyond words and on top of it makebeleive that it is a neccessary procedure liying to onself is one thing but to lie shamelessly to the whole world is mind boggling.


Thank you for that interesting response.
I couldn't help but notice that you sidestepped most of my points. Well done.

As to the no true Scotsman fallacy, you do not appear to have actually refuted the necessity of engaging in that fallacy, but rather have merely shuffled things around so that you can pretend you are not engaging in that fallacy.
A lot of fancy footwork there, I must say.

You cannot define being a Jew without engaging in the fallacy. It is like this with every religion.

Since you have no true religion and no true ethnicity or "racial purity", then any attempt to define being a Jew will always require use of the fallacy.

As to the rest of my posts, I do understand that I am in the unenviable position of appearing like a child who wants you all to stand still while I throw paint at you, but if you cannot dodge the paint and it sticks, I can then feel a small childish victory - because this is just a blog and any moral or semantic victories here are limited in scope just like in any blog.

But I like you anyway. You clearly have more of an ethical side to you than some people, so I can't really disapprove of that.
No, my issues are as I have stated them, and the dialogue, once again, is mute or, in your case, sidestepped.

That's okay, Rabbi, I am not going to insist you play my game. Go in peace.

Your all a bunch of sick A holes.



I categorically reject your assertion that I am engaging in any fallacy, or that that I have side-stepped anything at all.

You do seem to want to get something from me that isn't there. I feel as though you are looking at me but talking to someone else. Your comments aren't congruent with my thinking, nor with my statements.

You seem to have an orthodoxy about religion, and I am not allowed to deviate from it. I simply must be a secret idiot with supernatural rhetorical skills because your Weltanschauung doesn't allow me to have a valid point.

You are rather self-deprecating in a way that sounds insincere, but you don't accuse yourself of the thing that is most stark from my point of view, which is a solipsistic tendency. It is ironic, considering how you rail against the religious while acting very much like them.

As you have said, there's really no point in continuing, at least for me. So far I don't actually seem necessary to your half of this "conversation".

Yaakov, you are brilliant!

Bas Melech:

Thank you. You are clearly a compassionate and thinking person.


I am always eager to get a compliment but without know what I did to deserve it, I can't take any real joy in it.

What brilliant thing did I do?



I've figured out that you enjoy disliking me, so your disgust brightens my day since it means I've done something nice for you.



Please do make a bit of an effort for my friend dh and try harder. Your put-downs are positively nebbish-like.

As to your claims of avoiding all fallacies, I wish it were so, but your ideology is based on a fallacy as well as anything you might base upon that fallacy.

I said I like you and I do.

Perhaps the problem here is that you have swallowed whole a tiny nut of nonsense upon which you base your faith.
I merely thought to address this, since you say you prefer intellectual honesty.

For instance, you have written arguments against humans having the illusion of self-awareness, thinking, perhaps, that one cannot experience an illusion with another illusion.
That is clever-sounding, but if placed alongside your arguments about living the Torah, it is more indicative that you seek to place the human "experience" beyond all scientific scrutiny, thereby putting your religion's claim to the supernatural beyond all dispute.

In short, you are, in effect, denying that our brains work in a deterministic and purely physical way so that your "living the Torah" will be more than a fool's mystical bunch of claptrap...which is what it actually is.

But, like I will continue to say, you are a good writer, an honorable and polite sort of fellow, so my efforts to draw you into arguing about it are done in a kindly way.
I seek to perfect your understanding of the universe, Yaakov.
I want someone as smart and ethical as you to take that extra step and realize that your religion is, indeed, a fallacy all on its own and that anything based on a fallacy will, on average, be in error on some very important points that might be crucial at some future point that your knowledge and decision-making be as accurate and rational as possible.

I am sorry to have confounded you with my admittedly clumsy way of arguing, but I am only trying to point it out to one of the few people I have met online who is likely to understand the epistemology I am using.

Let me reiterate where I am coming from (I can hear people groaning as they read this): You appear to believe that human mental activity has the ability to interact with something "supernatural" and do not seem at all inclined to allow any challenges to this untenable hypothesis.

As to solipsism, I was going to point out that that seems to be one of your shortcomings. How interesting we would see this in each other!

I would enjoy seeing better put-downs, too. There is something about a good put-down that I enjoy...

Yaakov: I just finished reading your post (04:14 AM) and I really want to thank you for putting into words what has been building up inside of me these last few years. I am going to save your post in a separate text file and refer to it as often as needed and use it to explain to others my philosophy.

Thank you again!


Your assertion that I my position is necessarily fallacious is nothing but assertion. I explained why no true Scotsman does not apply, but it appears you don't actually know what that fallacy comprises. I am not going to explain it, however. If you care to do even a little investigation you will find that my defense against your accusation is a positive one and addresses the basis of the fallacy directly.

As far as adopting a Cartesian mind-body dualism, I do not. You appear to have learned philosophy by reading atheism advocacy literature. What I have described has nothing to do with that position. You also don't seem to be informed about dynamic systems, so don't understand the idea of emergent phenomena. This would explain your facile argument against my actual position.

It's OK for you to not like me, I have grown to not like you very much. You are boorish, disingenuous, and make vapid arguments by employing straw men and ignoring my actual positions. This last could be sincere confusion, I don't know. I do know that I will leave the last word to you and ignore future posts addressed to me.

Be well, I have no ill will, I just don't have any reason to talk to you.


I am glad you got something from the post. I don't know if you read my essay introducing my idea of "Pragmatic Juadaism" but you might find that useful too. I started that blog but abandoned it. I probably won't be writing more there, but what is there now (three things) might have some value for you.

Be sure that you turn it into your own Torah.


Thank you, Yaakov, for showing me your inability to face the truth or even discuss it.

You are not intellectually honest or even honest in defense of your position, so your claims to the contrary are just a bluff.

That makes you a liar, as well as a few other things, but I don't see the need to do a full inventory of your shortcomings in responding to me.

Your words are here for any dimwits to marvel over, and for everyone else to shake their heads at, for you have shown your hand and lost your bluff.

I do not need to point out more of your mistakes to have shown you to be a liar and a fool already.

I'm glad you say you will ignore this, you wanna-be rabbi-schmuck, since you are a liar....That means you will at least read it, for you are nothing more than an animal who can't help himself...and who can't even admit it. What a clod of dirt.

Uh oh, DbD, he packed up his toys and ran home screaming "I know you are but what am I, nanner nanner nanner ".

I asked you a question a few posts ago but, like this one, it may have been too late on the thread for you to see. I was having a knee jerk reaction to an anti semite being in the room. I don't read long posts often because although I'm here frequently I don't have the opportunity for long posts and generally I'm on a mobile device so I don't post in length. I don't read Yackov so maybe you covered this previously. And yes, he does cherish the last word which is why he'll always check back to make certain he is the last one on the hill. I think from what I can recall that he is the world's worst writer ever.

About what you said regarding human mental activity believing in the supernatural, pish posh and all that. I remember many years ago being shocked that brilliant people believed in (and I still have difficulty with that phrase) this thing, God. Is 'believing in ' mental? Or can it be physical? Where does 'feeling ' live? In the mind, in the physical, both or neither?

Actually all u bozo's, there r 7 cases of herpes and 4 r girls. I don't know about u but Brit Mila is not done on girls. Of the 3 left, I believe that 1 boy and 1 girl r siblings. For the remainder 2 boys, out of the tens of thousands of Brit milot that they do, if u no anything whatsoever about statistics, that is not a statistic. While I'm sure that you'd agree that even 1 baby getting it is bad, there's no evidence tying metzitzos Bepeh with herpes. Besides the point, every mohel takes precautions against this happening. It was good for the drs b4 but now there r idiots like u that stir up the crowd.
P.s. I am a statistics professor and have talked to r. Belsky many times after he got better, he is smarter and more knowledgeable than most professors that I have met. Chances r he once.ruled against u in bet din and u wanna cry.

Posted by: Jay | November 23, 2012 at 04:52 AM

"Statistics professor"?


You're a liar and everything you wrote is completely false.


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