Friday, May 27, 2005

How Frumteens Causes Family Problems

Here's a post on Frumteens which gives a taste of the frightening problems that Frumteens can cause:

I also disagree with the moderator in a lot of ways hashkafa-wise. But as a read what he says, it makes more and more sense, and instead of thinking "That's what those frumies think", I now think "That's how I should be thinking". I still don't completely agree with a lot of what he says, mainly because I come from a modern orthodox family, I am starting to see his way as right and my family's way as wrong.

It's great to try to inspire teenagers to a greater level of observance and to more noble hashkafos. But the emphasis on Frumteens is on how other hashkafos are wrong. That's not something to do with teens. It's a recipe for disasters with their families and their teaches.
Turning teens against their families and teachers is a very, very bad way to do kiruv.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Is FrumTeensWatchWatch the FrumTeensMod?

As soon as FrumTeensWatchWatch appeared - that's the blog that describes yours truly as an anti-Semitic rasha - many people suspected that it was the FrumTeens moderator. Who else would be so motivated, and who else classifies everyone in the three categories of good Jews, Zionists, and Lubavitchers? It's either the FrumTeens Mod or a really, really dedicated talmid.

This suspicion was further solidifed by the astonishing fluency that FTWW displayed with all the Frumteens posts. If he isn't the Mod, he's an extraordinary boki.

Even more telling was when he wrote that "if you take a look at those unpublished posts you will find an equal proportion of those who agree, disagree, and are neutral to the Hashkofos of the moderator." Now, it's theoretically possible for anyone to access all posts, but this kind of analysis could only really come from the Mod.

But here was the clincher. When we wrote a few days ago the phrase "FrumteensWatchWatch (a.k.a. Frumteens)," FTWW went wild! He instantly put up a post denying it, and then added to his blog title, "Disclaimer: FrumteensWatch is not associated in any way with Neither the Moderators of Frumteens, nor any of its staff are responsible for any content of FrumteensWatchWatch. The opinions expressed here are solely those of this blogger only."

Methinks thou dost protest too much.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Further Deception from Frumteens

In disputes about Frumteens on other forums, many have protested Frumteens’ extreme Satmar ideology. Others have defended Frumteens by saying that everyone has a right to their own ideology and Frumteens happens to be extreme Satmar.

One simple response to be made to this is that just as Frumteens has a right to an extreme Satmar ideology, others have a right to attack this ideology based on their own ideology.

A stronger objection is that Frumteens gives the impression of being a mainstream Orthodox institution, like Aish HaTorah or Project Genesis. The moderator indicates that he is presenting “plain generic Judaism the way it was practiced for centuries.” The subtitle of the website is “Anything you want to know about Judaism but have nobody to ask.” If its subtitle was “Anything you want to know about extreme Satmar perspectives on Judaism but have nobody to ask” it wouldn’t stir up so much opposition. The problem is that it is deceiving innocent teenagers into thinking that extreme Satmar ideology represents mainstream Orthodoxy.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

FrumTeensMod - Rabbi or not?

Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, writing about the Moderator of FrumTeems ("M") in Jewish Action Magazine, reported that "M is not a rabbi or mental health professional. His day job is completely unrelated. He regards his role at Frumteens as a teacher, not as a savior for lost souls." Rabbi Adlerstein also writes that M does not live on the East Coast.

Meanwhile the Frumteens moderator himself states on the site that he is a rabbi. It's also in the metadata on the website:

<*title> - Torah for Teenagers<*/title*><*META NAME="Description" CONTENT=" is a Torah discussion board for teens run by Orthodox Jewish Rabbis to teach Hashkafah, to outlook of Judaism on life and living."*><*META NAME="Keywords" CONTENT="Torah, Ask the Rabbi, Jewish Teens, Jewish Teenagers, Hashkafa, Hashkafah, Shabbos, frum"*>

So either the Moderator lied to Jewish Action Magazine or is lying on his site.
As far as I know (and I am willing to be corrected, but my sources are quite reliable), the primary work on Frumteens is done by a single rabbi (not a team of rabbis, as the metadata indicates). The interview in Jewish Action was with a minor partner; Rabbi Adlerstein was apparently unaware of the East Coast rabbi who is primarily responsible for Frumteens.

(Hat tip: Sultan Knish)

Friday, May 20, 2005

Does Anti-Frumteens mean Anti-Semitic?

FrumteensWatchWatch (a.k.a. Frumteens) considers me to be an “anti-Semitic” “rasha” (his words) for my strong criticism of Frumteens. Of course, my opinions are shared by many fine people in the Orthodox community (and even in the yeshivish community), including choshuve rabbonim and mechanchim. Even Rabbi Adlerstein, who wrote an article in Jewish Action praising the work that Frumteens seeks to accomplish with teen issues, has referred to its approach in hashkofic matters as “odious” and “repugnant.” The Frumteens moderator and his supporters must ask themselves, why is it that people who admire and respect Aish HaTorah, Ohr Someyach, Gateways, Partners in Torah, Torah U’Mesorah, etc., etc., have such negative opinions of Frumteens.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Rabbi Adlerstein's Clarification

Rabbi Adlerstein writes the following on Cross-Currents, in reference to his review of FrumTeens in Jewish Action (emphasis added):

I find Frumteens hashkafic pronouncements odious and repugnant. When I interviewed the mysterious Moderator, I told him that I would have to point out in print that our readers myself included reject his views. I made good on that promise.

The mistake which people made (for which I have to take some responsibility) is seeing the article as some sort of endorsement of the Frumteens site, or of Mr. Frumteens. I thought I had made it abundantly clear that the site was valuable in giving parents a glimpse into the world of troubled teens. I continue to believe that many parents are in denial about what is happening in our community, and that hearing first person accounts might give some of them a jump-start into getting more involved. I have no reason to doubt that Frumteens provides a rare window into a little-understood world.

The review did not recommend Frumteens as a place that kids should go. (It really couldnt. The readership of Jewish Action is overwhelmingly Modern Orthodox; Frumteens is geared almost exclusively to the right.) It did explain how the site attempts to help kids, and by the accounts that several of the people in the Jewish Action heard, Frumteens does do much good. I dont see why that should be taken away from it, even if other parts of the same site spew the most contemptible venom.

Click here to read his entire article, and the interesting comments that follow.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

FrumTeens: Ramban is Apikorsus!

Here's where the FrumTeens Moderator clarifies his definition of apikorsus, which elsewhere on his website is extraordinarily sweeping, but here is merely very sweeping:

Any pshat you say that you honestly and objectively, without any outside influences or negiyos, derived lishmah from the torah, is, at worst a mistake.
But an idea that you had preconceived, or that you decided based not on torah bu on science or psychology or sme other outside influence, or your own negiyus, or whatever, if that idea is contrary ot the torah, and you try to fit in your outside-the-torah pshat into the torah, you are in essence twisting the otrahs words, NOT deriving things form them; you are trying to make the torah agree with you, NOT you agreeing to the Torah. And so if yuor pshat is correct, youre OK. But if its against the torah, youre not a toeah but a megaleh panim batorah shelo kehalachah. And that is apikorsus.

Well, there goes the Ramban - see his Peirush on Vayikra Perek 12 Possuk 2, where he says that according to Greek philosophy, Chazal's explanation of a possuk is not correct (he notes that the Greek view is also supported by Onkelos, but it's clear that this is only being brought for supplementary support). Ramban might also have been caught out on apikorsus for what he says on Breishis 9 possuk 12, but the Greeks happened to be correct on that one. Lucky break for Ramban there!

Of course, we must ask, what does "contrary to the torah" and "against the torah" mean? According to who? Frumteens doesn't say. Based on his other posts, the answer is probably either the Satmar Rav or the FrumTeens moderator.