Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Quoting the Rimanover

Fellow bloggers Atboth and the Bray of Fundie both want this link posted:

The short and brutal version of that post is: If what you do isn't right, it affects everything you do. The detraction is greater than the mere act itself.

The long form is here.

As was to be expected, there's an entire list of baffling locutions. I'm getting used to people not using the queens English on the internet.

Here's what I think those words mean:

Agra D'Pirka = A book; maybe the name means 'fragments from chapters'. I don't know. I think the title is in Aramaic.
Avodah = Service. Faithful behaviour.
Bais Yaakov = House of Jacob; a girls school.
Bren = Fire. A burning. What Ada and Van felt in a book by Nabokov. Here it is connected to Bais Yakov girls, and totally clean.
Debritziner Rov = The rabbi from Debrecen.
Dinover = Biala or Munkatch Rabbinic dynasty - the internet search gave confusing answers.
Havdala = What keeps people like me from ever even thinking of becoming Jews.
Hechsher Tzedek = A kosher marking of goodness - the meat is slaughtered accoring to Jewish law, the workers are treated according to high ethical standards, and this is reliable certified.
Kashrus = Kosherness of food. No pork, no shrimp, no lobster, and a whole bunch of rules about how meat can be slaughtered and other things.
Khalav stam = Plain milk.
Khazal = The wise ancients, the sages of the past, excluding Confucius, Mencius, Lao Tze, and Sun tze.
Middos = Personal habits and character traits.
Mitzvos = Commandments; how one is supposed to act, and things one is obliged to do.
Ohr HaChaim HaQadosh = Rabbi Chaim Ben-Attar of Morocco, 1696-1743.
Orthoprax = Of correct behavior, not necessarily of correct beliefs.
OTD = Off The Derech (no longer on a straight and narrow Jewish path).
Ponzi scheme = Per Wikipedia: A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to separate investors from their own money or money paid by subsequent investors, rather than from any actual profit earned.
Qedusha = Sanctity
Rimanov = From Wikipedia: "Rimanov is a town of 3,585 inhabitants (02.06.2009) in Poland's Subcarpathian Voivodeship. It is a capital of a separate commune within the powiat of Krosno."
Rimanover = From Wikipedia: "Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Rimanov (1745–1815) was a Hasidic Rebbe and author. Born in Neustadt, he was introduced to Hasidut at the age of 11 when he met Dovber of Mezeritch. He was taught by Elimelech of Lizhensk and Shmelke of Nikolsburg, and was the teacher of Naftali of Ropshitz and Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov.
As one of the three principal disciples of Elimelech of Lizhensk, he was an important Hasidic leader in Poland. He is known for his asceticism and mystical support for Napoleon, whose wars he identified with the battles of Gog and Magog."
Shidduch = Marriage
Tolaim = Insect infestation.
Tumah = Impurity, pollution.
Yeshiva = Literally, a squat. Figuratively and usually, a Jewish school.
Yiras Shomayim = Fear of Heaven.

What posts like this really illustrate is a rich life within some very narrow confines.
Sometimes I wonder of how much practical application such specialized knowledge and vocabulary is - I will probably have no cause to quote 'der Rimanover', and my relatives would look askance if I even mentioned him ('who ... is that kwailo, and WHY do you know him?!?') - but on the other hand, I'm starting to figure out how the Orthodox subculture works.
Which is quite as interesting a subject as any.

Several people have commented on that post, some to greater point than others.

I particularly like the sharpness of Midianite Manna, who in response to one such wrote:
"Here in hippie-town, in my liberal Jewish shul, I occasionally forget that there are venomous attitudes out there being propped up by willful misinterpretations of halacha. Or maybe that's unfair. Maybe the people spouting this nonsense are simply unthinking sheep who really never questioned what their bigoted rabbis told them.

Thank you, Mr. Bigot, for renewing my commitment to fostering strong, healthy, intelligent, and compassionate leadership among Jewish girls. "

You go, woman person!



  1. The Dinover: Rebbe Tzvi Elimelech Spira (1783-1841), rabbi of Munkatch (Hungary) and Dinov (Poland) - both places are now part of the Ukraine. He was a student of rav Yakov Yitzchok of Lublin and rav Elimelech of Lizhensk.

    He is also called the B'nei Yissoschor ("The Sons of Issachar"), as that is the title of his most famous book.

    The Munkatcher and Dinover Chassidic dynasties are his descendants via his son rav Elazar Spira, whose son rav Shlomo Spira became rabbi of Munkatch. Rav Shlomo's son was rav Tzvi Hirsh Spira, whose son rav Chaim Elazar was succeeded by his son-in-law rav Boruch Yehoshua Yerachmiel Rabbinowitz (husband of Frima, rav Chaim Elazar's daughter). Rav Boruch survived the war, but turned away from chassidus. He died in 1999 in Petch Tikva in Israel.

    His son rav Moshe Leib Rabbinovitch is the current Munkatcher, his son rav Yitzchok Yakov Rabbinovitch is the present Dinover - both live in Brooklyn.

  2. You did an amazing job of penetrating the vernacular of my own subculture. By way of admirationa and reward allow me to fill in some gaps
    Agra D'Pirka = A book authored by a great Khasidic master better known by his eponymous work the Bnei Yissaskhar or by the town where he held court, the Holy Dinover. The title is, in fact, in Aramaic and means "The reward for study".

    Bren = More like raging flame than a mere fire. Unfamiliar with Nabokov I can't comment about what Ada and Van felt but it sounds about right. It means religious ardor, zeal , alacrity and passion. When Maimonides described the love of G-d he finds no better model than human romantic infatuation/ crush/love-sickness. Many Jewish liturgical poets took the same route. It is the basic leitmotif of the book in the Biblical canon "The Song of Songs" by King Solomon.

    Dinover = explained above.

    Havdala = What keeps people like me from ever even thinking of becoming Jews. Well put. Halevai (ask BOTH) it should keep people like me from becoming Buddhists, Hindus, Moslems, Mormons, Scientologists, Agnostics and Atheists.

    Khalav stam = Milk presumed to be bovine but that lacks supervision by Jews from the time of the milking. Kosher for some Ortho Jews but not for many others who hew to a higher standard.
    Khazal = The wise ancients, the sages of the past, excluding all non-Jewish ones. Nvere forget Havdala.

    Middos = Personal character traits. habits are the product of middos they are not Middos themselves. Also means weights and measures with the implicit meaning that nothing in our psycho-spiritual makeup is intrinsically good or evil. it all depends on proportions i.e. how they are weighed, measured and applied.

    Orthoprax = A new scourge in Orthodox jewry of crypto-agnostics and atheists.

    Shidduch = Arranged Marriage

    Yeshiva = Literally, to sit. Figuratively and usually, a Jewish Boys school where Talmud and it's commentaries is the primary and , at times, only subject of study.

  3. I must however add that I very much resent your quotation from Midianaite manna. We've had our tiffs in the past and even on the post that you linked. But your quote of her comes from another blog, that of my arch-enemy DovBear. Your insertion here makes it appear that she was directing her criticism towards me. This was not the case. Please be more accurate in the future.

  4. Technically, a shidduch is a match, not the marriage itself...

    That's one deep rabbit hole you went down into :)


  5. To be fair, my comment wasn't in response to Bray's post, but to a comment on this post:
    over at DovBear. Although many of Bray's commenters are likely to espouse similar views to the irksome ones there.

  6. Bray, thank you SO much for commenting!

    Regarding 'bren' (flame, fire, ardor): I've read the Song of Songs - delightful, but really it can also be seen as, um, well, 'lust poetry'... Yes, I know that it is supposed to be metaphoric and instructive, but that's also what they said about the Book of Songs (Shi King 詩經), that being the classic collection of ancient verse codified by Confucius. There's stuff in there that you would have to be a dry stick insect NOT to read as lascivity.

    Regarding Nabokov, his most second most innocent book: PALE FIRE is a hoot.

    Regarding white people becoming Buddhists: Heaven forbid! Don't need anymore saintly white hippies into chanting and "the wisdom of the Orient".

  7. Tzipporah,

    Sorry! I really didn't know that. I don't often read Dov, because of the combination of prolixity and abstrusity in both the posts and the comments. People get worked up over minutiae there.

  8. E-kvetcher,
    The internet is a marvelous thing! And yes, it's filled with rabbit holes.

    Atboth and I have this little thing going where we cross-link, cross-post, and push each other's noses into elsewhere reading material. I have, courtesy of his taunting, read more about tobacco (boring!) and Judaism (interesting, tho' odd) in the last six months than most of my friends in their entire lives.

    By the way, keep up the music monday thing! There have been some great choices.

  9. Atboth,

    Thanks for the first explaination. Interesting, those 'ancestor' culticisms.

    Please note that I do not feel obligated to read anymore about tobacco.

    Hee hee hee.

  10. Bray,

    A Facebook correspondent (R. Maroof) clarified that the Agra D'Pirka is a collection of talks ("sichot") on topics in Jewish thought, and that the title comes from Berakhot 6B - "the merit of the lecture is in the running to attend it".
    I then found this site:

    The passage delves into observance - running to the synagogue, silence at a house of mourning, standing at prayer, and listening at the appropriate times, or, differently put, behaviours and habitus appropriate to the occasion and reflecting a suitable mindset.

  11. There must be a better Talmud translation on the internet - all those thees and thous make it read like bad Shakespeare.

  12. >Atboth and I have this little thing going where we cross-link, cross-post, and push each other's noses into elsewhere reading material.

    Aw heck, if you are going to dive deep into various and sundry bits of obscurity, you should "push your nose" into the early history of the Christian Church. Why not, for example, read about Monothelitism, Maximus the Confessor, and the Type of Constans.


  13. Tobacco?

    Steffy, why would I want you to read anything about tobacco?. You are underage – that means by definition that I can not, may not, should not tempt you. Nor should I even dare mention Balkan Sobranie, lest I be accused of leading you astray.
    There’s time enough for you to learn about the charms of fine nicotinea when you get older – in about four years.
    If we’re still talking to each other then, guess what I will give you on your eighteenth birthday.

  14. E-kvetcher,

    That's just mean! Have you seen the goobus vocabulary?!?!

    Arianism, Athanasian, Chalcedonian, Christian Primitivism, Cyrilline Non-Chalcedonian, Deuterocanonical, Ecthesis, Iconoclasm, Jacobitism, Monoenergism., Monophysite, Monophysitism, Monothelite, Monothelitism, Monothelitism, Nestorianism,, Non-Chalcedonians, Nontrinitarianism, Patristic theology, Trinitarianism ......

    The early Christians may have believed that a multiplicity of syllables contributed to sanctity - or at least a veneer of depth.
    It probably all sounds much more impressive than it actually is.

    QUOTE: "The term Monophysitism covered two specific versions of this form of Christology. The first, Eutychianism, held that the human and divine natures of Christ were fused into one new single (mono) nature. As described by Eutyches, his human nature was "dissolved like a drop of honey in the sea", and therefore his nature was really divine. The second is referred to as Miaphysitism, which contends that, after the union, Christ is in one theanthropic (human-divine) nature, which is generated from the union of two natures, the two being united without separation, without confusion, and without alteration. It is this version of Monophysitism to which the Oriental Orthodox churches currently adhere." END QUOTE.

    All of a sudden, Zen koans make a lot more sense.

    "One hegumenic energy" versus "one theandric energy"

    I've got a headache. No wonder Christians have angst.

    So, pursuant thereto, I ended up here:

    You are an amalgamation of those pesky anti-Popes Clement VII and Benedict XIII

    I call Papal infallibility! I call Papal infallibility! I call Papal infallibility!

  15. Steffy,

    In some ways the intricacy of the doctrinal distinctions of the early Church is not dissimilar from the hardcore Talmudic discussions in Rabbinic Judaism. Both have accepted a premise which requires convoluted mental gymnastics to make sense. In the Christian case, the dual nature of Christ, in the Rabbinic case, the infallibility of the transmitted Oral Law.


  16. E-kvetcher,

    Yes, that is true. But there are important differences. Judaism accepts practice as normative, despite an inner skepticism. Christianity considers you damned if you are a skeptic, even if, in the balance, you are a very good person.

    Judaism also allows for differing understandings - seventy faces hath the Pentateuch. Custom may also differ, hence different (and mostly equal, more or less) sects within the broad divisions. Christianity, on the other hand, insists on ONE understanding only. And if your practices ALSO differ, that simply proves how much you deserve to burn.

    In any case, a group that isn't interested in converting, and doesn't particularly obsess over the habits of those who aren't part of an inherited cult, is much more socially attractive than any form of missionary religion.

    Some of us "little brown people" are less than charmed by the assumption that we lack both salvation and the intelligence to understand the deep truths of the one true faith. Christianity seems very caucasiocentric.

  17. Steffy,

    I think you are being over charitable to one and uncharitable to the other.

    I think that it is difficult to say "Judaism says" or "Christianity says" without overgeneralizing. For Judaism, you definitely need to distinguish between the Orthodox movements and the non-Orthodox, especially when saying "practice is normative". For a vast majority of Jews, this is not the case. For the right wing Orthodox, let me assure you that inner skepticism is just as unacceptable. And even though the concept of damnation and hell is not as elaborated on in Judaism as it is in Christianity, you can certainly be assured of losing your portion of Olam ha-Ba and being consigned to the flames of Geihinnom.

    Conversely, there are plenty of "inner skeptics" that frequent churches and are easily accepted within the fold, especially in our country.

    As far as the "little brown people" remark, you will find that the biggest areas of growth for Christianity is Africa and South America, so frankly I am not sure where this is coming from. This is not the reality of today's Christianity.

    I guess my point is that there is a gamut of beliefs and practices on both sides. You've selectively are comparing the Christianity of Torquemada and the evangelicals with some kind of idealized Judaism that in my experience doesn't exist in real life.