How Do We Handle This?

In the past, we’ve had some discussions here about former-BT bloggers and we’ve often discussed how to deal with “skeptics”. Now, the issue has taken an unexpected turn, we are being addressed by a stand-alone-blog, Unmasking Beyond Teshuva, aimed directly at us.

We have considered writing a polite email to the bloggers. Or maybe we should just ignore it?

What are your thoughts on how to best handle this?

81 comments on “How Do We Handle This?

  1. And can we lay off the lawyer jokes? It looks like there are rabbis here poking fun at lawyers, one of the oldest of Jewish professions (next to rabbis, of course). My husband says this out of work lawyer is raising a team of negotiators at the moment, but the jokes are just not so positive.

  2. I’d take off your link to their site, why give them any more traffic? And just ignore the negativity, move on to things that will actually further your mission rather than dwell on stuff that holds you back like this negativity. On the flip side, aren’t you so proud your site has garnered a spin-off? Imitation is the highest form of flattery, right? Just laugh, remove their link from your site, and move on. they’ll get less hits, maybe give up once they’re good an bored, or just keep recirculating the same 3 guys’ comments amongst themselves. who cares? Purim Sameach!

  3. Ignore. You published a piece by me about being a Bat Noach BT, which was very generous and kind of you. So thank you and keep up the good work. I think it shows that this site is open to many different types of people. If it were for EVERY type of person, wouldn’t it be too broad? It’s OK, to have an audience that doesn’t include every single person on the planet. What does?

  4. Bob – just remeber – a dull knife is responsible for more accidenatl injuries than a sharp one:)

  5. Guys, I checked out the link. They are funny, really funny and good writers too.Frankly, I think you are getting dull and maybe you should take the hint. Get chillaxed. Lighten up. Its Adar

  6. and believe it or not, I second David Linn’s welcome. Your placing your “relationship with HaShem” above all includes you in my “Ultra-camp” at any time.

    Now what was that about the fringe benefits of that relationship?

  7. Adam:

    Keep up the efforts, brother!

    Try some tzitzis…it’s the perfect mitzva for us BT’s who many FFB’sc consider “on the fringe”… :)

  8. I had to share here what I posted over there:


    You know, I’m a modern-minded (if politically conservative) person who considers himself a BT. By definition, that is, that I “returned” to Torah later in life. That’s where the definition stops.
    I don’t wear a full beard (too many Cherokee genes), I don’t wear a kippah or tzitzis, I don’t eat strictly kosher outside my home. No one in my family is a practicing Jew by any definition. My dad’s an atheist, my 2 sons are, like their mother, raised Roman Catholic, but they’ve been attending a Lutheran church for a couple years. My girlfriend and her son are Catholic.

    I love television and go to the movies. Sometimes (most of the time) I have to drive on Shabbat.

    But I love my… what do we call it, “relationship?” with HaShem. I love studying Torah. I love listening to Kabbalah classes on my iPod(R). I awake saying the Modeh Ani. I lay tefillin and daven daily. I wash for bread and say blessings and Birkat HaMazon.

    So where do I fit in? Talk about stranger in a strange land!

    So I stumble upon Beyond BT, a site apparently maintained and moderated by a bunch of Monseyites, Kew Gardeners and Chabadniks who wear all black, whose wives wear wigs, who are all raising little yidlings, but I still feel welcome there.
    I read each day’s post. Sometimes I comment.

    Never once in (what’s it been, 2 years?) have I ever, ever felt shunned or left out because I don’t wear a black Borsalino and tzitzis on the outside.

    It is completely beyond me, completely, how you frustrated, approval-seeking Promethean upstarts can feel the slightest bit left excluded from BBT. Completely.

    Grow up. This stupid website will not last long. BBT will be around for awhile.


  9. It’s erev Shabbos so no time to read the comments, but it looks like I’ve got a lot of Shabbos reading to do in addition to the other stuff (I printed the comments out). No doubt someone else already wrote what I’m writing but I’m putting my 2 cents in, nevertheless. The “Unmasking” blog sounds like the kids who weren’t allowed to play so they’re taking away their ball. They should either be invited to play (which I noticed they already were) or just ignored. Let people who look into both blogs judge for themselves. Good Shabbos everyone.

  10. Klal Yisrael does not nominate candidates for Mashiach. It’s not in our job description. We’re supposed to remove the factors that block the Mashiach’s arrival.

  11. I know of noone outside of the messianist circles ( whether those who actively state and support such opinions or those who have the same beliefs and avoid discussion of the same) who do not believe that the Rebbe ZTL “was of messianic caliber and stature.” Of course, as many Litvishe Gdolim and R D D Berger has set forth in copious detail, the overwhelming view of Chazal and Rishonim is that a great but deceased spiritual leader, regardless of his spiritual acomplishments for the Jewish people, cannot be considered as having either “messianic caliber and stature.” It is an inherently contradictory proposition that simply IMO is incapable of being sustained despite all of the hashkafic “rope a dope” advanced by its advocates and apologists. As far as hashkafic clarity is concerned, one can argue that Chabad is indeed rent over messianism between a small minority that opposes messianism, vocal supporters and quiet supporters of messianism. OTOH, there may be LW MO and RW MO, but noone would ever begin to confuse those hashkafic or halachic perspectives unless he or she had not read the works produced by the halachic leaders of each segment.

  12. “…peace love & understanding”

    Takes me back to a great old album by Brinsley Schwarz, the unsung heroes of modern music.

  13. Maybe we can merge this thread with the other discussion about not going out of one’s way to be insensitive to the hashkafot of other BT’s.

  14. As I walk through
    This wicked world
    Searchin for light in the darkness of insanity.

    I ask myself
    Is all hope lost?
    Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?

    And each time I feel like this inside,
    Theres one thing I wanna know:
    Whats so funny bout peace love & understanding? ohhhh
    Whats so funny bout peace love & understanding?

    And as I walked on
    Through troubled times
    My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes
    So where are the strong
    And who are the trusted?
    And where is the harmony?
    Sweet harmony.

    cause each time I feel it slippin away, just makes me wanna cry.
    Whats so funny bout peace love & understanding? ohhhh
    Whats so funny bout peace love & understanding?

    So where are the strong?
    And who are the trusted?
    And where is the harmony?
    Sweet harmony.

    cause each time I feel it slippin away, just makes me wanna cry.
    Whats so funny bout peace love & understanding? ohhhh
    Whats so funny bout peace love & understanding? ohhhh
    Whats so funny bout peace love & understanding?

  15. “One cannot be both dead and “of messianic caliber and stature.”

    notice I said “WAS”

    “If that logic is correct, then one can understand why the NYPD has a police presence at the Ohel, presumably to guard against assassination attempts! ”

    yeah – by disgruntled readers of the ever popular “Hetterim” blog

    “Rest assured, Chachmah, Binah and Daas long existed in the Halachic vocabulary and in Nussach HaTefilah centuries before the birth of the Baal HaTanya and the SA HaRav.”

    actually you’re correct – it certainly was not yesh ma-ayin – I should have said before they were organized into a cogent school of thought and publicized as such

    BTW are you soemhow intimating that I’m a yechi kinda guy, say it ain’t so. But I’ll tell you one thing, I’d rather be part of a movement where 99% of the followers understood what their leader said and stood for (and the other 1% is sadly in error, understandably yet regrettably) than one where a leader produces 2000 or so subleaders with 2000 different versions of what the leader actually said and another 2000 versions of what it actully meant. Now you might begin to understand Akiva’s comments that a strong, resiliant RW Torah life has passed TumTumTide by.

    This does not mean to C’V denigrate RYBS who obviously was a gaon of the first order. However check out the gem sanhedrin 6b where the gem explains why Rav wasn’t given semicha despite his halachic and subject matter expertise (or for that reason why the halacha is virtually never like R’ Meir despite him probably being the “sharpest tool in the shed”.
    food for thought

  16. R Shmuel-One cannot be both dead and “of messianic caliber and stature.” If that logic is correct, then one can understand why the NYPD has a police presence at the Ohel, presumably to guard against assassination attempts! Rest assured, Chachmah, Binah and Daas long existed in the Halachic vocabulary and in Nussach HaTefilah centuries before the birth of the Baal HaTanya and the SA HaRav.

  17. “IMO simply means In my opinion- You read something in there that was not there”

    when I saw the “H” missing I was confused – my mistake – I must be suffering post SOY seforim sale depression

    “Obviously, by the same logic, there are many who would not equate Chachmah Binah and Daas ,which are terms used in everyone’s Shemoneh Esreh, with messianists who believe that a great rav, although deceased, is of messianic caliber and stature.”
    (BTW we also snuck it in the haggada – “afilu kulanu chachamim”. . .
    Firstly, most don’t (including most chabadniks)
    the actual usage comes from Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, author of the “Shulchan Aruch Harav” beloved (and quoted extensively) by the mishne brura and virtually every other posek of consequence in the past 150 years

    I think the problem is more that a small minority don’t think he’s dead – certainly he was as you tersely write “of messianic caliber and stature”

    Jacob you’re correct – that IS why we have Adar II (and pesach sheni )- there’s always a second chance!

  18. Steve Brizel wrote,

    “I could care less what its administrators think of my hashkafa.”

    Steve,I thought their point that you are a bit too friendly with RWUO kiruv institutions who hate MO was a valid concern, though they are wrong to place you outside of RWMO circles.

  19. Steve, (#49)

    I think Shmuel was only exercising some Purim Shtick. Maybe by Adar II you’ll be in the spirit!

    Shmuel, please confirm that my going out on a limb here was predicated correctly. And to answer your question regarding “ethical hacks” as a network security analyst we sometimes play the role of a nefarious hacker attempting to break into a system. This is done to test the firewall security.

    Should we check to see how the “unmasked” guys are disguising their data?

    Would that be ethical? Maybe Ron knows but I wouldn’t ask that guy from NY Times who writes about ethics (sic) since it might give him an idea for an article and make that other nemesis blog famous.

  20. Isn’t it obviously a Sign to rename BBT as ULTRA-BBT?

    (just had to get my Purim bit in too!)

    In all seriousness, when someone begins knocking our “beyond” credentials with claims of entrechment into Orthodox BT-ism, it might just be an opportunity for reassessing how beyond we really are. The basic idea of associating BT’s with “growth oriented” Torah is really quite powerful. Obviously there must be an impression being given that the growth is much easier said than lived.

  21. Ron, will you represent me if Jaded sues me?

    Well, I guess it’s back to bee and womynbug costumes, then.

  22. I really wouldn’t worry about it. Think of it as beyondbt hitting the big time. They are the nasty version of a SNL poking fun. I just don’t understand how anyone could not like David or Mark. If anything, they have moderated this blog not to be extreme. Someone here should start the blog……how about that?

  23. R Shmuel-IMO simply means In my opinion- You read something in there that was not there.Obviously, by the same logic, there are many who would not equate Chachmah Binah and Daas ,which are terms used in everyone’s Shemoneh Esreh, with messianists who believe that a great rav, although deceased, is of messianic caliber and stature.

  24. “sniveling saps of semi-literacy” hey let’s have a football game – the sniveling saps of semi-literacy vs the nattering nabobs of negativity – who do you think will win?

  25. Ignore it completely. Giving more attention to those who exhibit “attention seeking behavior” just encourages them more. When bullies see that their antics don’t bother their intended victim, they lose interest.

    -Dixie Yid

  26. “The best (and IMO only) answer

    hey steve – does IMO stand for “In Modern Orthodoxy”

    just curious

  27. I would suggest completely ignoring that blog and not engaging in a blog based dispute or any other kind of disagreement. I could care less what its administrators think of my hashkafa. The best (and IMO only) answer to such a blog is to show affirmatively and proudly that Torah observance and learning are profound, relevant and timeless.

  28. Stung by Ron’s silly sneering, I went back in to look at his masterpiece. Except for the parts in legalese, it wasn’t actually that hard to follow.

    I had this question, Ron:

    Let’s say this scenario happened today except that the good guys, instead of going through the courts to authorize their hack (or, shall I say, remedial electronic counter-enhackment) ahead of time, just went and did it successfully. Not through a paid consultant or juvenile delinquent, but with their own bare hands. If the bad guys hired the Anti-Ron to do some legal action, could the good guys fight it off?

  29. Thank you R’ Shmuel. I stopped drinking more than one after I got married in order to maintain the patina I have written about so often here — even on Purim.

    As to you sniveling saps of semi-literacy, I will ask Ms. Topaz to explain the article to you!

  30. Counter their counter-blog. Call it “Remasking Beyond Teshuva”.

    Hmmm. The Mask thing is sounding more and more Purimdik.

  31. Oh, I just had a good laugh.
    I can’t believe you’d take them seriously. Keep on doing what you’re doing, it’s a great chesed to many.

    All the best,
    Rachel J.

  32. Ron – you’re invited to come here for Purim and sample some of my exquisite single malt collection – we’ll drink until we don’t know the difference between “flaunt” and “flout” – nice piece!

  33. Jacob “ethical hacks”? are those “yisurim shel ahava”? or just lawyers with vestiges of scruples:)

  34. Actually from her last comment, David, it sounds like JT might be more this blog’s financial speed, general-counsel-wise, anyway.

    “Tortious interference with prospective economic advantage”!?

  35. Even if we’re all right wing, sadistic, poverty stricken drum-beating savages, I would still expect that some, even those without linguistic background, would recognize the writing style of BBBT comments as originating from a single individual. Still part of Klal Yisrael- may he/she find relief and serenity soon.

  36. >> I’m sure we could expand the tent of BT commenters if Mark and David paid by the hour or word.

    Sure, now that you suspect that Ron’s on the payroll, everybody wants to be on the payroll. Where have we gone wrong?

  37. I agree with Mark, we should expand this material tent and offer beyondbeyond a chance to have their own door/comment rules/ awning/shingle and slogan too. I think Bob Miller/ Dovid / Michoel/ Ora/ “Reuven”/Toby Katz and Ron Coleman should consider being frequent guest contributors ;-)
    I could help with the door design if you want.

    I also accuse Chaya H of pretending ? to know the creators of beyondbeyondbt and suggesting that they are modern orthodox secularists with lefty and leitzy oriented tendencies.
    You obviously have no clue what modern orthodox is all about and I suggest you consult with Menachem Lipkin, Steve Brizel, Gil, DK /Dr Norman Lamm and Noah Feldman for a well balanced knowledgable definition ,before attempting to equate the two words “modern orthodox” (or “MO’ as you had originally typed) , with the clearly petty squabbling of distinctly disgruntled individuals who apparently have a pretty good sense of humor and are in need of more posts for their two post blog.

    As for the that beyondbeyond blog, I believe they are devout non-wing non denominational born again Hypsistarians (not to be confused with hipsters) and Goethe statue at Bryant Park Merry Go Round worshippers with hyper leanings. I also believe they should have a better slogan or something.

    I would also sue Chaya H for attempting to use a seemingly silly “merry” religious holiday as a legal crutch and tungsten crowbar to thwart and swat away any legal and legitimate attempts to be sued for likelihood of confusion/ BBT brand dilution/bbt copyright and trademark infringement/person hood infringement and disguise distortion.In addition to using rancid circuitous religious reasoning’s to distract from obvious and blatant attempts to wash away any ideas one might have for establishing claims like tortious interference with prospective economic advantage (though its unclear if there is any malice involved)and unfair competition using minors in costumes.
    This is especially clear, when admitting that she has personally chosen on her own volition to intentionally dress her children up as popular caring blog moderators and in the process unabashedly creating derogatory and negative associations using words such as “villain” in addition to creating an insecure environment for insects and insect racist imagery when referring to the bees and bugs costumes she has changed her mind about.
    “lady bug” will never sound the same again.
    And suggesting her personal vendetta disguises are somehow better religious costumes than innocent and sincere ladybugs and bees.
    As if they were not good enough costumes for a religious holiday, it is all about the “men” in judaism isnt it, even the costumes ;-)

  38. I’m sure we could expand the tent of BT commenters if Mark and David paid by the hour or word.

  39. I… I’m speechless!

    Ron – you’re speechless? now I know -shtreimel or not- moshiach is definitely here:)

  40. are you speechless or is it your legal counsel to remain silent? At least you used words I was able to understand :)

  41. As a network security analyst, sometimes we perform “ethical hacks” to test the security parameters of computer hosts.

    Want me to take ’em down?

    Mi’sheh Nichnas Adar….!

  42. When I first saw this I was a little disturbed, but then I thought it is a little funny, particularly the collapsed bridge graphic.

    But now I’m thinking that perhaps we need to be even more inclusive. Can’t we expand the Tent of Torah a little more to include these guys?

  43. I accuse Mark and David of creating this blog themselves. It’s a conspiracy to make MOs and secularists (if there is a difference) look like leitzanim.

    I was going to dress my infant twins as a bee and a ladybug for Purim, but now I’m thinking Mark and David with villain mustaches.

  44. Do the words “Vayidom Aharon” mean anything? – sometimes it just pays to be quiet.

    That being said, the Baal Shem Tov said that evil we see in others is really showing us that very trait in ourselves so perhaps a bit of “cheshbon hanefesh” (introspection – taking stock) is in order – are we too judgmental and not accepting of others? Do we feel “our” way (e.g. TumTum, MO, LW RW) is the only way? or are there “shivim panim” – 70 facets to the Torah? Is it truly a question of “eilu v’eilu” or are some opinions beyond the pale? All part of the cheshbon hanefesh.

    I stopped posting here for a long time after what I felt was essentially an ad hominem attack on me by people essentially clueless as to what I do and more critically why I do it.
    Ironically, here’s a comment I received from a Jewish food conference (decidedly non-frum!) where I spoke about my work with the Native Americans:

    “Rabbi Simenowitz spoke so well at his tisch that he really inspired me to rededicate myself to my Judaism. He gave one particular example of speaking at a conference with Native Americans and he couldn’t understand why he was invited. Then the people at the conference started to say that they were the people of the caribou and when the caribou disappear- we disappear. Then the people of the salmon say when the salmon disappear – we disappear. Then Rabbi Simenowitz said we are the people of the book- and when the book disappears- we disappear. I thought that was one of the most beautiful things I heard all weekend.”

    I don’t write this to blow my own horn, but I was entitled at the time to the benefit of the doubt. Instead, I got the “a case could certainly be made that it’s promoting avoda zara” Hey maybe that’s true. But I’m sure that even in the RYBS machzor it says “hoss, k’tagor v’kach s’nagor m’komo” – “let the accuser be silenced and let the advocate take its place” – this is not only a description of what we hope takes place in the celestial courtroom –this is a “how to” manual for our own lives. Do we see the world through the “ayin tov” or the other eye? When the saintly Berditchever saw a Jew in tefilin greasing the axles of his wagon, instead of woodenly opining “a case could be made that he’s violating the kedushas hat’filin” – the sanctity of the tefilin, he exclaimed “how wonderful it was that a Jew would wear tefilin even while performing an otherwise mundane act” – same act – different eyes.

    and BTW “Ron Coleman” really is an attorney! I actually had a legal “shaila” for him and he gave me a wonderful and helpful bit of advice. Ron I hope one day when you need some pointers on avodas zara, you’ll allow me to reciprocate:)

    Here’s to an “ayin tov”

  45. Sorry about the additional click I gave them, but you’ve got to admit, it’s awfully funny! Don’t respond, just laugh.

    And even if it wasn’t intended as an Adar posting, it’s only one among many who undoubtedly have a different perspective then this blog. That’s the thing with the web – no matter what view you’re trying to find support for, you can find someone who’s already got a site supporting it.

    Just consider them the of the Orthodox world.

  46. By paying attention to them you give them their traffic. I doubt anyone would even find them without you pointing them out.

    Further, they’ve got all of 2 posts? The success of a blog is measured both by it’s traffic and it’s ongoing audience over time. You’ve got both.

    There will always be those that want to spew venom, spit on others success, be jealous, and/or just disagree with how someone who is doing something does it. No difference from those who whisper in the back of the shul about how the event isn’t organized right, wrong food, bad music, but never actually make anything happen themselves.

    Ignore it. Completely.

  47. If their counter-blog is a send-up or hoax, big deal!
    And if it’s not, big deal!

    This stuff is part of today’s blog environment and should be no concern of ours, especially if (assuming it’s real) it occupies these people to the point that they get less involved over here.

  48. It’s kind of flattering, really. Everyone knows that a shul is only considered a success once some of its disgruntled members form a breakaway.

    Good Purim, one and all.

  49. There will always be those who get off on negativity and bringing others down.

    Ignore the losers, keep doing what you’re doing and stay positive.

    They probably are Democrats anyway:-)

  50. It’s Adar, this has to be a Purim Shpiel. That broken bridge banner is a riot.

    Either way we should treat it that way and comment accordingly.

  51. Ignore them. This blog is great, but if they don’t like it noone is forcing them to go on to beyond BT. This is why we are still in galus, yidden are always looking to fight and critisize otheres. sad

  52. This (BBBT) is an Adar funny-blog, right? Oh, it’s not? Well, this highly educated BT thinks you should ignore their pouty antics, disguised as a blog…

  53. Ignore them.
    The comments posted there are ludicrous ad-hominem attacks.

    The recent threads here about “Ultra” Orthodoxy have shown that the blog is open to various points of view, when expressed maturely and to the point.

    The process of teshuva – and every Jew’s relationship to Hashem, Torah, and community – involves emotion, sometimes conflicting emotion. Extreme emotional responses, extremely stated, will always be an issue here – as they are on any blog.

  54. Baruch, Neil,

    Boy, what kind of hours do you keep?


    From what I read there I don’t think they take themselves seriously. It’s not an attack, just an immature prank. Just in time for Purim.

    I recommend that you should ignore it. Elie Rachanik is right-on! Keep up the good work!

  55. Sadly, I just checked the link you provided. This will only add more hits to their site. Cyber-bullies are no fun.

    I suggest just not worring about it. I can barely find time to post comments on this blog, let alone read some anti-BeyondBT blog.

    Don’t let this new blog get you down and any email contact you have with the writer(s) of the above referenced blog will only add fuel to their fire.

    It’s a sad day when someone decided to pick on BeyondBT with a blog, instead of emailing you directly.

  56. “What are your thoughts on how to best handle this?”

    Don’t be afraid of it; to the extent that any of it is correct, you should learn from it, but to the extent it’s bitterness, it’s their problem(that is indeed a separate discussion, how someone should constructively deal with negative feelings to someone with more right-wing standards then they have, if from their perspective they feel they have valid complaints; I deal with it on a certain level sometimes).

    I’m not a regular partcipant, but on two threads I would point to what struck me as how more people might be included.

    On “Why People Leave Torah Observance”, I agree with MG(comment #13), that it’s possible to have a relevant contribution even from “JA”, if he respects that fact that you are not debating here certain fundamentals, and instead focuses more on indirect areas where discussion can take place more easily, as MG pointed out.

    On “Books in the Dumptster” I saw a problem that one group of commenters wanted to focus on direct growth, that is, using the incident to reorganize one’s library, etc; others focused on the boy’s going through a normal process of development. Neither method is inherently “more frum”, and, in fact, the latter more indirect way, can appeal to those who might be scared off by what’s to them “putting on a gartel”, if they are not at that level. As was mentioned, maybe some language could have been edited in one of the graphic or less positive comments, but if you see past any excesses, even such comments could have value.

    It’s obvious that you are trying to make as many people as possible with different perspectives and levels of observance feel comfortable, so I wish you well and hatzlacha on that.

  57. Keep doing what you are doing. Do not pay attention to them. You provide inspiration for countless indivuals, with siata dishmaya you should continue with your excellent work!

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