Saturday, December 8, 2007

Parents Sitting Shiva for Newest Chumra

Parents Sitting Shiva for Newest Chumra

By Rabbi Lamech Somayach Meshumad Meshubach
Masgiach Ruchini
Yeshiva Aishes Eish HaTorah
Special to

In a move that has shocked the members of congregations around Brooklyn and the world, parents of boys in religious schools are finding new reasons to sit shiva that some find petty. Shiva, means seven and refers to the traditional seven day period of mourning for the dead in the past was restricted for people who weren actually deceased. In recent years its use has been expanded to include limited circumstances like when a child leaves the faith or, cuts off his side locks, called peyos, because some liken this to spiritual death. However, the same Rabbis who instituted the new form of shiva say the community has gone too far, and sits shiva for ideas that are too trivial.

Moshe Willinsky, an accountant and resident of Williamsburg said he felt it appropriate to perform kria and sit shiva when his son failed eighth grade algebra since he saw this meant his son would not be following in his footsteps into the accountant trade.

“I didn’t want this for little Yiddle. If he isn't an accountant he may have no choice but to become a begger or a schlepper in kollel. But mainly I just wanted all the attention of people visiting my home,” Willinsky said.

Ever since it became apparent he wasn’t able to pay for the new Torah day school and community mikveh, visits to the Wilinsky homes have been almost none. And the Willinsky family is representative of a whole new class of Hassidim who are happy to sacrifice their firstborn son to regain attention from their neighbors.

The winner of a straw-poll vote for the best explanation was from Yankel Villiams, owner of Speedvay repair service who is also currently sitting shiva for his son, Zalman.

“It seems there are so many Hassidim around today and so few ways to stand out, I just wanted the fellows at the minyan to come pay attention to me for a few mornings. If that is the only thing I can do to set myself apart, then so be it. I plan on eventual excommunication for all 12 of my children,” Villiams said.

Opinions amongst the members of the Gedolim were mixed, but mostly favorable.

“As usual, the Hassidim are happy with anything that increases divisiveness and keeps the followers too busy to question their leadership. I suppose this chumra, this ridiculous stringency is no worse than the microscopic bugs in the water.”Said Moshe Dovid Tendler, a professor emeritus at Yeshiva University, the most non-hassidic yeshiva in New York.

His opinion was mirrored by Rebbeim from the Hassidic dynasties on the other side of the fence.

“We have a work problem for our children because the number of followers is limited we can’t set up all our children with a stable retinue of subservient donors. The BT movement brought new people in, but this is a good way to mix up the existing followers to put our children in the business of being rabbeim,” Said Rabbi Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag, as conjured via séance by the current Dzirka Rebbe.

But other people were not so blithe about dismissing things off the bat.

“This is a sad day, when people who are already will do almost anything for attention are willing to do this as well,” Said Pastor Jimm Folsell. “It is one thing to wear a heavy wool coat and hat in the summer heat, but child sacrifice was only intended for the Temple when it stood in the time of Jesus.”

“Just look at the book of Gedalia, he offered his daughter up to a sacrifice of thanks. There was a price, but he was able to get out of it and came out ahead in the long run. Don’t you wish you were mentioned in the bible, or at least a Jewish newspaper?” Said sales agent Aryeh Frankel. “Won’t your friends all envy you when they see your shiva on the top of the fold? You won’t have to answer your own phone, and the rabbi will come to your house to cover the mirrors!”