I Want To Be A Rebbe II

Ari writes to Hirhurim:

I think this is a bit of a tempest in a teapot. There are some people who think that any mention of their group-identity is inherently offensive. That’s most of what I saw. There was nothing wrong with the music video. Some people thought it was funny, some did not. That’s life. There’s nothing offensive about it. The people who complained about the one usage of a swear word are overreacting and taking things out of context. The swear word was not directed at any person or group, and trying to feign offense because of it is either disingenuous or due to the inability of some people to differentiate between juxtaposition and direction.

Even if you did offend anyone, I hate to say it, but so what? If you eliminated every blog post that might offend *someone* you wouldn’t have a blog. Slifkin’s books clearly offend *some* people, does that mean you shouldn’t publish them? If someone is offended by this blog, they don’t have to read it. There’s no need to dwell on this.


My reaction to Simcha’s posting of the video was surprise NOT opposition. Most of the things that are posted on Musings seem to be at least acceptable for the whole family and their rabbi. When I saw the "swear word" pop up I realied that although it may have not been the most nefarious use of the word, nevertheless, it was out of character for this blog.

Many of you may not remember a similar "tempest" years back when Simcha posted a cartoon that contained a "swear word" in a similarly non- vulgar context. I am pretty sure Gil apologised quickly and took it down solely because of the appearance of the word that most people would be embarrased by if while they were looking at the post their local rabbi walked by and glanced over their shoulder towards their computer screen. That post also could have been described as "good fun" and a chance to laugh a little but I thing there was some CHARATA on the part of Gil.

My prediction is that this will eventually be taken down, probably after the YU appearance.

I think a good litmus test for what appears on Musings is something that you would not be emabrrassed by if your rabbi would see you looking at it.

Do not misconstrue this as being some sort of mussar that dictates that one should not do anything in life that they wouldn’t do in front of their rebbe. (Although that may be a lofty goal there may not be a person on earth that can achieve it). I have always just assumed that Hirhurim was fitting into that standard.


Ari, nobody claims Gil is not allowed to post the video. Its his blog and he can do as he chooses. However, being the type of blog hirhurim has been for the past 4 years or so, this post is so out of character I am actually shocked Gil posted it. If anybody had this voracious need to watch this video, there are many blogs all over the internet that have posted it. Gil probably posted it because of the broader message it was trying to convey. However, I believe this message got lost by the presentation, and therefore unfortunately hirhurim’s reputation may also have been tarnished somewhat. I don’t believe this video to be an innocuous satire at the opulent lifestyle of the "Rebbes", it is a full frontal attack at them personally which as a result made many people cringe uncomfortably. While to some its a "who cares" and "lighten up", to others its utmost horror and revulsion and we should respect that. And two wrongs don’t make a right, when you equated the Slifkin fiasco with this video (even though in my opinion its apples and oranges).

TZVEE WRITES: The publication of this video is the kind of nightmare watershed event that the rebbes feared all along from the viral nature of the internet. this is not an entertainment music video. the artists who made this video spent a great deal of effort to convey a message. satirizing the lifestyle of the rich and famous is not a new theme, and this could be dismissed as a nickelback knockoff. yet i’m thinking that this application of satire and music to rebbeim with nuance and detail is at once masterful and unnerving. i’m just glad that they stopped at the beer, cadillacs and jacuzzis and didn’t hazard that, "The girls come easy and the drugs come cheap" for these rockstars.

ZALMAN WRITES: Interesting to contrast the posting of the video with the path not taken, a considered, well-written post about rebbes. While the video makes a (crude) substantive point, nearly all of the discussion has focused on the propriety of the video. A considered, well-written post probably would have offended some, but would have generated a valuable discussion.


Rebbe= Master, Teacher, Mentor.

What do we learn from this video?
Is there one iota of spirituality?
Does it cast Rebbes in a positive light?
As I recall (I watched it once- I won’t watch it again) it associates Rebbes with fressing, gelt, and beer-not what can be considered the finest of middos.
The hassidim are repeatedly referred as batlanim-loafers.
Yes, it’s not meant to be taken seriously, but I guarantee that anyone who watched this video will retain the image and atmosphere of mockery that is displayed.
I imagine this video will create a hopefully short-lived sensation in the frum world that uses computers. What kind of message does it transmit? Especially to youngsters.
I’m sorry Gil, It may cause an initial laugh, but at what spiritual cost?

YOELB WRITES: There are, R"L, rebbes who are associated with entitlement, privilege, luxury, throwing their weight around, brawls between groups of chassidim in connection with succession quarrels, etc.
Not to mention chassidm and even rebbes associated with even more unsavory things, so that there has to be glatt food in prison for the heimish criminals, and so on.
All of that reflects poorly on chassidim and mitnagdim alike (most non charedi Jews, let alone non-Jews can’t tell one black hat from another, let alone a streimel from a spodick) and by extension, is a black eye to all of us.

BEOWULF WRITES: After watching the video, I decided that I’d be interested in considering such a career path, to potentially become a Rebbe. But then I read in DZ’s comment that "As 99% of Rebbe’s are either directly or very closely related to the previous Rebbe, a commoner does not usually stand a chance to be a Rebbe today." Unfortunately, I am not related to any Rebbe. Someone has suggested to me that if I’m prepared to be flexible, I should consider a slightly different career path, to try to become a Conservative Rabbi. Apparently, that profession is even more lucrative than the Rebbe business, and like the Rebbe business does not require one to be too strong on the Rishonim. Is anyone aware of a similar video for that business, say "I want to be a Conservative Rabbi"?


Gil, I think what many of us are trying to convey is that sure, to some (many?) the video seems like harmless fun, however to many serious Torah minded people (MO, centrist, and yeshivish) hirhurim is supposed to be more then that. It is supposed to be intellectually stimulating Torah forum, and a way to influence the Jewish community through intelligent and rational Torah discussions. The video really is the opposite what I believe hirhurim is all about. Also if you want the blog to be conduit for change in the greater frum community, how disillusioning many of the more chasidic oriented readers is going to help accomplish this. I understand that many if not most of the Jewish blogosphere has posted the video and therefore anybody can see if they wished, however hirhurim (and you) have always been above that. The internet for all its ability to disseminate Torah and break down borders between groups, is also notorious for snarkiness, laitzonois, and disrespecting tradition and leaders. There is a fundamental difference between poking fun at some rosh yeshiva at a purim shpiel then creating a mockery of many Rebbes and Rosh Yeshivas that for better or worse represent Yiddishkeit for a vast number of frum Jews.

I don’t think anybody would have much issue if Gil would post some YouTube video poking fun at YU. The problem is that when your attempt at humor skewers some other sect, that is when some people believe you cross the line. Also while the excesses in the Yeshiva and Chasidishe world in my opinion can be poked fun off, this video goes beyond innocent jokes and attacks Rebbe’s. Some (many?) that are known to be serious T"C and yirat shamayim. Also the juxtaposition of a the original song which is about the Rock Star life style of sex, drugs, and rock and roll with the Rebbes is a bitter pill to swallow for many. Sure it may be fun for the those unaffiliated with that group, however it is a huge slap in the face for serious chasidim and bnai yeshiva who respect them. Again, I don’t believe there is a problem with satire, but there always is a line, and I believe unwittingly Gil crossed it with this video. Again, I repeat my criticism that I believe that the broader message that hirhurim attempts to convey has gotten diluted by posting that video.

MYCROFT WRITES: How about substituting Yeshiva/Day School administrator for Conservative Rabbi-there are quite a few whoearn in excess of what the Vice President of the S earns and a few who earn in excess of what the Prez oftheUS earns.
I suspect thare are a few Orthodox pulpit Rabbis who earn more than the Fed Chairman and/or the Treasury Secretary to paraphrase Babe Ruth-""I guess these Orthodox Rabbis have been more succesful in their prognostications and policies than the Chairmanon of the Fed or Tteas. Sec."

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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