Monday, September 7, 2009

I got Spammed by Rabbi Raphael Bearmant of Authentic Judaism

Last week, Wolfish Musings posted on an unnamed Haredi blogger who sent him an email advertising his blog. Wolf refused to say who the blogger was. My guess was that it was Authentic Judaism. I ran into this blog recently as well. My reaction was “wow this guy makes Jewish Philosopher sound almost Modern Orthodox.” I think it is useful to notice the Rabbi Avigdor Miller playbook at work. We have a crude argument from design leading to the conclusion that Judaism must be the true religion followed by blanket condemnations of anyone who does to follow “authentic Judaism” and ad hominem attacks. I particularly found his swipe at Dr. Leiman amusing as I know him personally. It is comforting to know that I have never treated any Haredi godol as flippantly as he does a man who actually should be one of the people speaking for Orthodox Judaism.

To my surprise, I have just received the same email:


Dear Colleague,

I sincerely thought that the following new blog would be of interest to you:

Authentic Judaism

Please expect to be presented with some new ideas. I hope you are strong enough to rise above the mediocre thinking based on a materialistic world outlook and consider adopting an Authentic Jewish one.

Please forward the url of this blog to anyone you think could benefit from it.

We are proud to see that after much effort, this blog is number one on Google: Authentic Judaism Search on Google as well as Yahoo: Authentic Judaism Search on Yahoo

Sincerely,
Rabbi Raphael Bearmant
(973) 910-0623

PS This is not spam or junk mail. This is a sincere endeavor to get this important information to as many people as possible. Don't worry, as long as our technology holds up, we will not be contacting you again.

I must be coming up in the blogging world if random lunatics are emailing me and asking for my help in promoting them. I do love that end part about this email not being spam. He calls me colleague, without bothering to stick my name at the top, so this is clearly a form letter. Then he tells us that that he is relying on technology to send out these emails and make sure he does not repeat himself. That sounds like spam to me. We can conclude from this that, not only is Rabbi Bearmant a loudmouth Haredi clown, and a blog hit whore, he is a liar as well. As you can see, Rabbi Bearmant was nice enough to give out his phone number. The area code indicates that he lives in Northern New Jersey. Since he so freely gave his number to me even though I did nothing to ask for it, I see no problem in giving it out to anyone else who wants it. His email address is therabbi@authenticjudaism.org if you wish to spam him back along with ringing his phone off the hook at all hours of the night.

I understand Wolf’s wish to not grant this person any publicity. That being said, with all due respect to Wolf, I am posting this piece. I do have my own self interest to think of. If Rabbi Bearmant and his blog are going to be such hot keywords I want to get in on the act. I may not be enough of a whore to send out mass mailings to random bloggers begging them to check out my blog, but I do like getting hits and comments. Also I believe that publicizing lunatics like Rabbi Bearmant serves a constructive purpose. The existence of someone like him is a challenge to more “moderate” and “intellectual” Haredi bloggers like Freelance Kiruv Maniac, Daas Torah and Not Brisk by placing the burden of showing how they are not like him and that their positions do not inevitably lead to him. As someone who is trying to move Orthodox Judaism in a more liberal direction, I believe that it is important to raise the stacks and make it as damaging as possible to hold Haredi positions. Contrary to what Not Brisk might think, Rabbi Avigdor Miller was not all happiness and smiles. Authentic Judaism is an excellent demonstration of how there is nothing innocent about holding Haredi positions. Either you come out in the open to accept evolution and turn away from gedolim worship or you become complicit in fostering Rabbi Bearmant’s hateful ideology.

22 comments:

The Leader, Garnel Ironheart said...

I didn't a letter.

Bummer.

Izgad said...

Garnel I am sure you will be zocheh to be bentched with a letter before Yom Tov. :p

You are far better known than I am. If I have managed to find my way into his rolodex you certainly have.

I see that you took down Baruch’s piece. If there is going to be some agreement among us Modern Orthodox bloggers to give Authentic Judaism the silent treatment than I am willing to go along with it. For now since other people are going to mouth off on this man I might as well have my fun.

Baruch said...

Izgad,
I didn't see that Garnel ever even put my piece up! :(

But thank you for being the one to express this position in the J-blogosphere.

I agree with you; R' Bearmant seems to feel his worldview's part of the mainstream haredi marketplace of ideas and we would do well to remember that.

Not Brisk said...

Interesting. The 'moderates' are associated with him, but the non-Haredim are not guilty by association.

Somehow anti-evolution = hate or is associated with hate....

Maybe disseminating hate increases happiness... that would be the logical conclusion from witnessing someone like R' Miller, no?

BlogWatch said...

Izgad, you can't lump the level-headed Daas Torah blog together with the likes of FKM and NotBrisk.

rtw said...

gonna agree with BlogWatch on that one.

Izgad said...

Not Brisk
I am not attempting to make anyone guilty simply by association. I do think it says something about who we choose to criticize. I have had many happy hours as a teenager listening to Rabbi Miller tapes and yelling at them.

Blogwatch and rtw
I had a less than pleasant encounter once with Daas Torah (http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2009/06/rav-sternbuch-theory-of-evolution.html)

Daas Torah said
Your obnoxious way of expressing yourself does not add anything positive to the discussion. I only allowed this through as an example of those who insist that Science and truth are identical and that Religion has no right to assert any contrary views except perhaps in gaps in our scientific knowledge.

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

Also I believe that publicizing lunatics like Rabbi Bearmant serves a constructive purpose. The existence of someone like him is a challenge to more “moderate” and “intellectual” Haredi bloggers like Freelance Kiruv Maniac, Daas Torah and Not Brisk by placing the burden of showing how they are not like him and that their positions do not inevitably lead to him.

Cute, Izgad, real cute.

Any one who reads our blogs without an axe to grind can see the difference for themselves.
I accept no burden whatsoever.


I agree with you; R' Bearmant seems to feel his worldview's part of the mainstream haredi marketplace of ideas and we would do well to remember that.
September 7, 2009 7:19 PM


Why?
Why is his own self-perception in any way important? Does anyone who associates himself with Albert Einstein automatically become a physicist (or even become perceived as one by the public??

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

i'm feeling left out... does that mean that i'm beyond hope of salvation, or just haven't been active enough to merit spam? :-)

According to WhitePages.com , the number is a landline somewhere in Erskine Lakes, NJ.

The Leader, Garnel Ironheart said...

I think the two main differences between Bearmant and FKM & NotBrisk are

1) The latter allow comments and respond to them. This shows a willingness for discussion that the former clearly lacks.

2) The latter don't use personal attacks and insulting terms even when expressing strong disagreement demonstrating an intellectual maturity the former lacks.

Therefore we should, in the spirit of Elul, view the latter as more typical representatives of the Chareidi world and the former as an idiot with a serious Ritalin deficiency.

Izgad said...

FKM

I am with Garnel on this issue. I thought it was clear from this post and in our conversations that I do view you as being in a separate category and a step above the lunatics. I may disagree with you, but I believe it is possible and worthwhile to engage in an intellectual discourse with. People like Authentic Judaism on the other hand should simply be thoroughly mocked and then ignored.

As to using Authentic Judaism as a weapon against you, again I do not operate with the equation of Authentic Judaism = FKM. I do, though, think it is a worthwhile to put the challenge to you why you have focused your attention almost exclusively at the likes of Rabbi Slifkin and ignored those on your other flank. A Haredi discourse that is all about what is wrong with the Modern Orthodox world is going to play into the hands of the crazies. So when we turn around and see that the crazies have come out from under the rocks it is just slightly disingenuous of you to Pontius Pilate your hands say that these people have nothing to do with you. I do not see this as refutation knock out blow; it is a minor thing. My style of arguing does not seek the refutation knock out; I prefer to throw the light jabs and at the end of the day try to show that my position is less problematic.

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

Thank you for clarifying.
Let me respond:
I do, though, think it is a worthwhile to put the challenge to you why you have focused your attention almost exclusively at the likes of Rabbi Slifkin and ignored those on your other flank.

This is a great question. I have a few answers:
1) He used to be one of us and he defected to the other side. That marks him for special criticism.
2a) His influence is primarily internet-based and starting a blog is the most efficient way to mount a serious counter-balance to misinformation and the side-effects of the ban.
2b) Other flank groups do not influence the Net nearly as much and it is much harder to counter their influence with something so ridiculously easy as keeping a blog.
3) I have long ago widened my critique to the Orthodox academic approach to Judaism and do not see it as an FKM vs. Slifkin issue anymore.


A Haredi discourse that is all about what is wrong with the Modern Orthodox world is going to play into the hands of the crazies. So when we turn around and see that the crazies have come out from under the rocks it is just slightly disingenuous of you to Pontius Pilate your hands say that these people have nothing to do with you.

I don't even have to say that "he has nothing to do with me". That's why I said I'm not admitting to any burden. The differences are totally self-evident.
You can't call that disingenuous.

Not Brisk said...

"I don't even have to say that "he has nothing to do with me". That's why I said I'm not admitting to any burden. The differences are totally self-evident.
You can't call that disingenuous."

V'Gam ani mitzarefh l'chol hanal.

I would like to add, regarding FKM?Slfikin, that we (or, I) witnessed him sliding... that made it more painful for some of us.

Anyways, if you are looking for R' Miller material that is addressed to a superior audience than the Thursday night tapes. Look at Lev Avigdor (from his manuscripts) and the printed shmuezen he gave to a chaburah of yunergleit in Beis HaTalmud (blue seforim- forgot the name). There is no discussion of Holocaust, evolution, MO, Zionism, other relgiouns (which, btw, makes many of his detractors the most nervous- even more than the part of 'thinking about Hashem)just poor unadulteraterd mussor.

R' Miller lived out his ideals, he did not preach from the proverbial mountain top. That makes it unique and special.

Ey, I thought it was Haredim who don't take the good from the bad/wheat-chaff.

Izgad said...

FKM
“2b) Other flank groups do not influence the Net nearly as much and it is much harder to counter their influence with something so ridiculously easy as keeping a blog.
3) I have long ago widened my critique to the Orthodox academic approach to Judaism and do not see it as an FKM vs. Slifkin issue anymore.”

Characters such as Authentic Judaism and Jewish Philosopher are part of the internet. So they should certainly be attacked through the web. When I said Slifkin I meant Slifkin writ large. You are focused on attacking Modern Orthodox/Academic Jews and have ignored radical Haredim. The only thing, as far as I can tell, that you have done to counter such people is to say you have nothing to do with them. And that is only when people like me push you. One is justified in viewing your opposition to our radical Haredim with some skepticism. Again not to say that you are really one of them but that you are not serious in actively opposing them and that your opposition is simply an apologetic fig leaf. I would love to see how you would go after Authentic Judaism and Jewish Philosopher while not sounding Modern Orthodox.

Not Brisk
“Anyways, if you are looking for R' Miller material that is addressed to a superior audience than the Thursday night tapes. Look at Lev Avigdor (from his manuscripts) and the printed shmuezen he gave to a chaburah of yunergleit in Beis HaTalmud (blue seforim- forgot the name). There is no discussion of Holocaust, evolution, MO, Zionism, other religions.”
I do not question Rabbi Miller’s intelligence and I have no problem acknowledging that he has written things that are better than his tapes and his books Rejoice Oh Youth and Awake My Glory. That being said these things are the Rabbi Miller that I know and apparently this is the Rabbi Miller that Authentic Judaism and Jewish Philosopher know. Nothing that Rabbi Miller said could change this. You may be able to get yourself off the hook by saying that you have no connection to these people, but you cannot get Rabbi Miller of the hook. If I read you correctly you know this and are not about to defend Rabbi Miller on issues of the Holocaust, evolution, MO, Zionism and other religions.

As to the issue of responsibility, you do not have to support something in order to be responsible in allowing it to happen. For example if I were a Haredi debating me one of the arguments that I would try to make is that I am responsible for the excesses of Modern Orthodoxy and even for those who go off the derech, because my theology creates a situation where such people could exist. To respond to this I need to do better than give the pat answer that I do not support such people. I need to show that I have taken hard action against these things. Part of my response to this argument is to show that whatever my faults I have done more to keep Modern Orthodoxy in line than you have done to keep Haredim in line.

Not Brisk said...

"You may be able to get yourself off the hook by saying that you have no connection to these people, but you cannot get Rabbi Miller of the hook. If I read you correctly you know this and are not about to defend Rabbi Miller on issues of the Holocaust, evolution, MO, Zionism and other religions."

Almost, I meant to say that even you who obviously can't swallow his world opinions, can still take the "good".

Some of R' Miller's views are mainstream Haredi positions, and others aren't.

Baruch said...

Izgad:
Thanks.

Izgad said...

Not Brisk
Your comments about Rabbi Miller demonstrate that you fail to understand the issue at stake and indicate that my little jab has hit a gap in your armor. You are suggesting that I bifurcate between the populist Rabbi Miller and the scholarly Rabbi Miller. From my perspective (and you have done nothing to challenge this) the populist Rabbi was the equivalent of Authentic Judaism and Jewish Philosopher and their source. Do not get me wrong, I have no problem with having a disagreement with someone and taking what I like about them and discarding what I do not. There are two different types of opposition; there is the opposition where the opponent is still viewed as legitimate and then there is the opposition where the opponent is cast aside as something satanic without any legitimacy. For example I accept that different people are going to have different views on the State of Israel. You may disagree with me about the army or about settlements but we can agree that we are all good Jews here. I will still give you an aliya and agree to eat in your home. That being said, a Neturei Karta person, who believes that Israel should be destroyed, would not be legitimate. This person could study sixteen hours a day and be the nicest person you have ever met. All of that would mean nothing against the fact that this person has plotted with and aided those who wish to murder Jews. It is a moral stance for me precisely to not bifurcate between a Neturei Karta person’s actions as a member of the Neturei Karta and his actions when off duty. (Similarly I would not say that someone is in the Klan but he is nice to his mother so he is not so bad.) Anyone who simply says that they do not personally agree with the Neturei Karta but still wish to accept them as another Jewish opinion is taking a repulsive stance and is morally culpable in the actions of the Neturei Karta. (The Haredi community has been pretty good at expelling the Neturei Karta.) Several times in his writing, Rabbi Miller took Neturei Karta stances, blaming Zionism for the Holocaust and for the suffering of Jews in Arab countries. In fact the Neturei Karta has made use of Rabbi Miller. Because of this Rabbi Miller is about as kosher as a bacon sandwich; not just some things that he said but everything. It is not good enough that the Haredi world accepts some things of his and ignores others.
To bring this back to Authentic Judaism and Jewish Philosopher, the lines are not just to support or not to support. There are those, like me, who oppose them full on, there are those who support them and then there are those in the middle who might oppose them, but do it with a wink and nod. You and FKM are in that later category. By taking that stance you are making a moral decision different from mine. As such I have the grounds to come after you.

For more on this issue see my Tisha Bav post http://izgad.blogspot.com/2009/07/my-tisha-bav-speech-to-chofetz-chaim.html.

Not Brisk said...

My gosh.

He wasn't Neturey Kartah. He didn't advocate handing over Israel to the PLO.

They even use R' Gifter to advocate their cause.

He doesn't blame Zionism for the Holocaust, but rather on the direction that Yidishkeit was taking; the chilul Shabbos, etc. As much as the Zionists were responsible for that they take responsibilty for the destruction...

You don't need R' Miller to tell you the Jews in the Arab country suffered after they made the State.

This is my last response.

The Bray of Fundie said...

Izgad-

As a dweller of a red tent blog I am so off the radar that you didn't invite me to distance myself from Bearmant.

Still, uninvited, I have done so.

check it out here

http://innate-differences.blogspot.com/2009/09/inauthenticity.html

and I do invite YOU to comment early and often.

BTW one of my commenters claims that he is a High-School kid spoofing the Rav Miller z"l school of thought.

Raviv said...

Bearmant is not even a rabbi. He's an agent provocateur.

thanbo said...

Who he appears to be, according to whois, is Joshua Scult. Is he the son of noted Reconstructionist scholar Mel Scult? He lives at [address redacted]. I know a psychiatrist whose office is in that building - perhaps "Rabbi Bearmant" should pay his neighbor a visit?

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

Your response did not address my point:
2b) Other flank groups do not influence the Net nearly as much and it is much harder to counter their influence

I agree that these individuals OPERATE primarily on the Net., But their INFLUENCE VIA the Net. is really negligible.
Slifkin/Academic M.O. have great influence via the net. That's the point in my countering them on a blog in their territory.

You said:
I would love to see how you would go after Authentic Judaism and Jewish Philosopher while not sounding Modern Orthodox.

I have to admit that this would be an interesting challenge.
But as I said, I see no necessity in doing this on a blog other than to satisfy your curiosity. (Which may in fact be valuable...)