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Ami Magazine, April 6, 2011 - The Impostors Among Us

Ami Magazine, April 6, 2011 - The Impostors Among Us

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48
 
AMi MAgAzine
// April 6, 2011
 
// 2 nissAn, 5771
 
Rejecting the minimum
Aharon Gutberg’s apartment is simple—the typical apartment o a kollel amily, with worncarpet leading up to it rom the rst foor and a Spartan selection o urniture. The breakrontin the dining room eatures the glint o a ew silver items, but most o what lines the Gutbergs’
shelves is
seorim
, crammed into bookcases around the main rooms o the apartment. Thegeneral air o the house is one o sel-control and limited spending. The amily’s unds are
invested in the intangible but substantial resource o Torah learning rather than in the passingthings o this world. Even though Aharon has a job as a
posek
in his community, it is obviousthat the money he brings in rom his job has not enriched his amily.Normally, spiritual satisaction and the light that a Torah-based liestyle brings more than
makes up or any nancial deprivation in the lie o a kollel amily. The husband nds hislie’s calling in the
bais midrash
; his wie has satisaction in knowing that she is helping her
husband learn and making her home a place o Torah, where she can raise her children to beupstanding and devout Jews.Sadly, the Gutbergs’ can’t have that spiritual satisaction because Aharon is a raud. Whilehe outwardly pretends to be a G-d earing, observant individual, he is nothing o the kind. Heis an
apikorus
, plain and simple.The Rambam, in his commentary on the Mishnah (Sanhedrin, chap. 10), amously compiles
By Rafael Borges
The ImpostorsAmong UsThe ImpostorsAmong Us
Internet’s Other Dange
2 nissAn, 5771
 
// April 6, 2011 //
AMi MAgAzine
49
 
“On this point theCharedim have itright; my skepti-cism was largelyfueled by theInternet.”
what he reers to as the
Shloshah-Asar Ikkarim
, the Thirteen Articles o 
Faith, gleaned rom
pesukim
in the Torah. He reers to these thirteenprinciples o aith as “the undamental truths o our religion and itsvery oundations.” There are
Rishonim
who took issue with the Ram-bam’s compilation. All agree, however, that there are certain tenetswhich one must be aware o and accept in order to be considered a
practicing Jew, and that their acceptance denes the minimum require-
ment necessary or one to relate to the Almighty and His Torah as amember o the Jewish nation. Aharon Gutberg has rejected even the
bare-bones minimum.
While there have always been some who have strayed—whether
in practice or belie—rom Judaism, modern technology has unortu-nately given rise to a hidden breed o 
apikorsim
—veiled, non-believ-ing inltrators in our communities, schools, and even amilies. Those
who throw o the yoke o Torah and mitzvahs have generally beeneasy to recognize; not so people like Aharon. Outwardly, they actdevout, yet internally they are non-believers. They have severed all
connection to G-d, yet they behave and dress like you and me.
In Melachim (18:21) we read: “And Eliyahu came to the peopleand said, ‘How long will you go wavering between two dierentopinions? I Hashem is G-d, ollow him; but i Baal, then ollow
him.’ And the people did not answer him a word.” People who have
rejected Judaism pose many more dangers to society than out-and-out dissenters, not the least o which is the act that the ormer are
undetectable.Much has been written about the phenomena o so-called “adults
at risk”—Orthodox Jews who have strayed because they’ve lost avibrant appreciation o the beauty and truth o the mitzvahs o the
Torah. Dealing with this distressing phenomena is the primary goal o various programs that have been started in recent years.
“Adults at risk” is really a broad category. Rabbi Shai Markowitz,who runs the Six Constant Mitzvos program, told me that he sees
pretty much every Jew as an adult at risk, because we all need added
emunah
and vibrancy in our Judaism. But what we are reerring here
to those who have gone way beyond that—adults who are duplici-
tous, heretical inltrators within the ranks o our communities.
Heresy is an old phenomena, discussed by
seorim
and
sorim
 throughout the ages. Some o the yeshivas in Europe suered rom
nests o 
apikorsim
.
But the old-time
apikorus
has been updated or the twenty-rstcentury. New technology makes it much easier or those harboringand espousing heretical views to remain covert. And yeshivas and
kollelim are no more immune rom these th-columnists than theywere in Europe.The story is told that when the Telzer rosh yeshiva, Rabbi EliyahuMeir Bloch,
zt”l
, once ound a comic book in the dorm in the TelsheYeshiva in Cleveland, he began crying. The person who was accom-
panying him downplayed the severity o the nd, saying, “It’s just a
comic book.”Rabbi Bloch replied, “In Europe, the
bochurim
who ‘went o’ were
interested in intellectual subjects. They ollowed communism or
Zionism, and we could deal with them by reintroducing them to the
intellectual world o Torah. But i they are interested in the oolish-
ness o comic books, they are very ar away rom intellectual mattero any kind.”To some extent, Rabbi Bloch’s outlook on the
bochur
with the comic
book applies to the challenges Judaism aces in America today. Ide-ology and philosophy aren’t the obvious dangers today; the variouslures o physicality and the lowest common denominator o Ameri-
can culture are the clear dangers acing us. The phenomena o kids atrisk and adults at risk stem largely rom these non-intellectual actors.
But there still are intellectual threats posed by
apikorsus
, and theInternet has become a breeding ground or an ominous rebellion
“On this point theCharedim have itright; my skepti-cism was largelyfueled by theInternet.”
50
 
AMi MAgAzine
// April 6, 2011
 
// 2 nissAn, 5771

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