Weekly Thought: You’re Right; Let’s Live with the Times

Weighing in on the debate over Tznius that was sparked by a letter to the parents of Crown Heights girls’ school Bnos Menachem, Rabbi Avrohom Brashevitzky, Shliach to Doral, FL, shares his thoughts on this controversy, while tying it into this week’s Parsha – Behaalosecha.

With all the recent back and forth about the Tznius issue in our midst, I was reminded of a famous Chassidishe story. A Chosid once called a Misnaged who considered himself to be a big Rav and Talmid Chacham – A Shvantz. He was promptly summoned to a Din Torah, where he was ordered by the judges to apologize for disgracing the “Kovod HaTorah”. The Chosid insisted that for the sake of “Kovod HaTorah this must be done in public, in the presence of the entire community. The Chosid got up on the Bimah, in front of a packed Shul and described in full detail what transpired. At the very end of his speech and after being sure to mention that the Rav was a Shvantz, he “apologized”.

You understand where I’m going with this – whereas up till now it was a private matter between him and this Rabbi; now the entire town was talking about the fact that he was (or wasn’t) a Shvantz! A private school director sought to influence (dictate) a few hundred families and ended up stirring up a discussion which has garnished over 500 comments and still counting! The people who are most complaining about the merits of the message and the messenger did the most to broadcast the message and open the discussion! Those who were most offended by the message which was intended to a finite number of people, created the (necessary) storm which helped blow it into awareness of all of Anash the world over!

Great job! Well done! I’m not here to “take sides”, although it is clear that we’ve got a problem; and a big one at that. I’m just trying to introduce some perspective, some food for thought. For starters I’m very encouraged by that fact that everyone seems to have jumped into the discussion, whether for or against – it demonstrates how much everybody does really care about this issue. As The Rebbe Rashab once explained that if in speaking to a Yid about Yiddishkite one finds that the Yid “Heibt un Brikken” (lit. he starts to kick) – he gets annoyed, angry – one should take it as a good sign. If it steers up some emotion, it’s a sign that he still cares about Yiddishkite – it means something to him. Otherwise he would be totally apathetic. The same here, even those arguing against the issue are obviously concerned (or at least bothered) about the issue.

Amazingly and B’hashgacha Pratis there’s a lesson in this week’s Parsha relating to this entire matter. In the story of Pesach Sheini, The Torah takes the time to give us some detail as to how it came about. As The Rebbe always taught, these must have an eternal and practical message for all of us. The Torah relates how several people approached Moshe and stated “we are Tamei why should we be left out”. Notice they didn’t come to Moshe to declare that reality has changed, circumstances are different, thus He needs to change the rules. They came to Moshe with the clear understanding that they had a problem, they needed assistance. They first declared “WE are the ones who have a problem”. They didn’t pursue the option of attacking Moshe for “making up these ridiculous rules” that barred them from participating with everyone else. Rather they accepted that they are the ones in need of some special accommodation, not everyone else!

We ALL need to accept and not sweep under the rug, the fact that we do have a problem in our community. We need to admit it out loud and deal with it, instead of attacking the messenger. Perhaps he isn’t the choicest for the situation. Perhaps someone could have advised him to have some Rebbetzins sign off on it (which would have left certain individuals with the difficult task of figuring out the “right reasons” for disagreeing with the message!). WE NEED TO ADMIT (at least to ourselves) THAT WE DO HAVE A PROBLEM!

How to deal with it, is already a whole other issue. Of course, every place is different and as Chassidim of The Rebbe we must remember to always portray and behave with full Ahavas Yisroel. Also we must be practical and realistic how we go about finding those solutions. For example, I live in Miami where we have a wonderful school for the Chinuch of our children. The fact is however that there are all kinds of Chabad (and non-Chabad) families who attend the school. If you observed the carpool you will feel like you are standing on a typical street in Yerushalayim: all kinds of attire and head coverings (and not). Long beards, short beards and no beards. Shaytels (very long! And short) and regular head coverings to Sphardich head coverings to no hair coverings. This is a Chabad school for everyone. The faculty follows a strict dress code; the parents are encouraged to bring their precious Neshamas to get a good Chinuch.

Crown Heights is very different. There are several options for one’s children. You don’t like the school – you don’t send your child there. Period! If the rules in one school are too strict – don’t go there. No one is forcing you to “tolerate” their strictness. These are private schools, serving a specific segment of the population and they have full right, and in fact an obligation, to cater directly to their clientele. Imagine someone decided to complain about the segregation in our Shuls and try to change it. If one doesn’t want to tolerate these rules, they have (R”L) other options… Imagine buying an airline ticket and demanding consideration from the airline for your own choices, such as not using the seat belt or to remain standing in the aisles for entire duration of the flight. If you CHOOSE to fly – you have to follow the rules! No one is forcing anyone to travel; certainly not with a particular airline.

Another major problem I have with many of the comments and the author of one of the OpEds: the pulling of “The Rebe Card”. If you want to bring The Rebbe into this first become familiar with the facts, namely the well documented directives from The Rebbe regarding the matter of Tzinus AND specifically in (our) schools. A very important Chabad girls school in Israel was clearly directed by The Rebbe to follow the style and approach of the Beis Yaakov Schools in matters of Tznius! Perhaps it’s time to publish an anthology of The Rebbe’s directives, both public and private so those who are really interested in knowing the true facts can have better access to the information.

Speaking of Miami and Beis Yaakov I wish to conclude with the following. In Miami we get to experience an amazing assortment of Jews who come to vacation. It’s literally a clashing potpourri of dress, customs and style. An image which stands out to me is seeing young couples – the man in a black Yarlmulka, tee-shirt and shorts; the woman in full Tznius attire, Shaytle and all. To me this just proves that the proper Chinuch does go a long way. It’s obvious that these young men were never taught the importance and detail of Tznius for men. However, it is clear and evident that girls (in Beis Yaakov) have been taught. And that Chinuch stays with them throughout life. Whereas the couple considers themselves Frum (as evident from her dress code), the man who doesn’t know better dresses in a manner which is not consistent with his real way of life.

Before this boomerangs into my face with the argument that “you are only seeing the ones who stayed with the program – how about those who left the fold (due to pressure of the discipline or what have you)” PLEASE hold your fire! You are CORRECT! This may not work for all the people all the time. However, THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO GO TO A SCHOOL WHERE THESES RULES ARE REGARDED AND RESPECTED – DESERVE TO HAVE THE RIGHT TO DO SO WITHOUT INTERFERENCE!

Until such time that all Jews will agree, on all matters – enjoy the debate without hurting or insulting anyone; have fun but not at someone else’s expens AND MOST CERTAINLY NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF THE REBBE’S HONOR!


  • 1. great article wrote:

    wonder what someone will find to disagree with – it totally makes sense.

  • 2. a proud Bnos Menachem Parent wrote:

    Thank you, thank you , thank you, A hundred times thank you!!! you wrote what a lot of us parents have been feeling, saying, and trying to defend ourselves.

  • 3. a proud Bnos Menachem Parent wrote:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! A million times thank you. You worte {so nicely} What most of us bnos menachem parents have been saying, feeling and thinking.

  • 4. Amazing! wrote:

    Very well said!!
    It takes The Rebbe’s Shliach to say it the way it is!

  • 5. The kangeroo wrote:

    Sholomo Hamelech stated like a dog regurgitates his vomit so does a fool restate his foolishness. People are parrallel talking at each other without giving consideration to the others feeling or logic.It a waste time and emotions to continue this matter.It’s net results is hurting the sensetive an the innocent as some commentatetors a very insulting.

  • 6. Ch mom wrote:

    Although I agree with most of what you said I disagree with the idea that we can put our kids into whatever school of our choosing. Unless you are wealthy and can pay full tuition plus- in crown heights all the schools have their criteria why they can’t accept yiddishe neshamas. Many organizations push children to go to non chabad schools. I personally love your approach – accept all kids – with love – but make sure all teachers should follow the highest levels of yiddishkeit and tznius.

    • 7. MZ wrote:

      You missed the point. Miami is not a Lubavitch community. There are Jews of all types there, and the school is a kiruv type school. BM is in a frum Lubavitch community. It caters to those who want to uphold the Torah and Mitzvos.
      To those mothers who got accepted and now feel they are not ready to maintain true Torah standards anymore, who were lured by their evil inclination to reveal just a little erva, maybe it’s time to be honest with yourself.
      You are not able to keep up with the rules. Maybe you should step down. Send your girls to BR, and let one of the many frum tznius girls on the waiting list take your daughter’s place.
      Then you and your daughter can ignore RG’s rules and everyone will be happy.
      Except for your true friends who will continue to pray for you to wake up and dress like a frum Jew should.

    • 8. ahavas yisroel wrote:

      There are many girls that want to be more tznius than their parents. They shouldn’t be made to feel 2nd rate just because they didn’t have ‘perfect’ parents. Yes there should be standards for the students and teachers…but don’t punish girls for not having the right parents.

  • 9. Well said!!! wrote:

    Especially regarding the Rebbe card pple love throwing in

  • 11. Thank you Rabbi wrote:

    Thank you for a peaceful message that is leben mit der tzeit. You are correct

  • 12. A CH Parent wrote:

    The problem is when you have ppl with unhealthy issues and turn them into tznius laws all in the name of religion.

    It’s inappropriate for a male to guard the school door to make sure the girls’ skirt are the proper length. It’s inappropriate for a male to watch women staff measuring a little girl’s skirt. It’s inappropriate for a male to speak one on one with a female student without a desk in between them.

    It seems to me that a certain male has his own serious misplaced issues and is transferring them to the parent body. The more parents that I speak to that send their daughters to this school, the more I am dumbfounded as to how they don’t speak up! These stories I hear border on perversion albeit cloaked in the “message of tznius”

    On another note, yes parents can enroll their children in whichever school they feel is best for their children’s growth. Can a professional educator please tell me what kind of advice it is to remove a child from a school that they are settled in? To remove them from their friends and the school structure they are accustomed to? HOW DOES THIS MAKE ANY SENSE??

    Keep in mind that the “new rules” for the female parents (governed by a Male) are for all students’ parents, not just for incoming families.

  • 14. Baalei tshuva are excluded by these rules wrote:

    Baalei tshuva are excluded by these rules. Its fine to make rules for students at the school but wrong to stop a child from going to the school based on how her parents act. Wrong to punish the child for the sin of the parents. This school is not acting correctly as no school should bar students based on parents conduct. This also bars gerim

    • 15. Meir wrote:

      And you know for a fact that if a baalas teshuvah or giyores applies to the school, that no exception will be made…

      …how? Are you a navi?

    • 16. Exceptions to every rule wrote:

      I am a baal teshuva, i graduated from bnos menachem, my mother doesn’t cover her hair or wear pants. Let’s not get out of hand here. Bnos Menachem is a wonderful school and if a girl comes there on her own asking for a chasidishe education she will not be turned away because of her parents.

    • 17. Mendel Kohen wrote:

      BT are excluded by these rules asked:
      “There are children who are proper but the parents arent but they have to suffer for parents sins when they did tshuva?”

      Welcome to the real world.

      A child suffers and Torah deems him/her a mamzer (bastard) due to the sins of his/her parents!

      That is how the real world works!

  • 18. Publish a book wrote:

    “Perhaps it’s time to publish an anthology of The Rebbe’s directives, both public and private so those who are really interested in knowing the true facts can have better access to the information.”

    – there is such a book

  • 19. nutty wrote:

    miami LEC was a kiruv school. Today its main stream lubavitchers sending children. They are able to balance parents with all meshugasim with or without letters. Crown heights is more modern today then 20-25 years ago. Move to florida, but don’t blame the Rebbes Shcunah.”

  • 20. Let's learn from Satmar wrote:

    Husbands, take those offensive sheitels, Jean skirts and nail polish and meet by Wingate tomorrow midnight :

    Orhodox Jews in Brooklyn Burn Banned Wigs
    MAY 17, 2004
    An emotional upheaval within Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community spilled into the streets yesterday when hundreds of people gathered at a Williamsburg intersection, piled women’s wigs on the pavement and burned them in a series of small bonfires.

    The demonstration, involving members of the Satmar community and other Orthodox Jews, came days after word spread that rabbinical authorities in Jerusalem had ruled that the wigs, which were made of human hair from India, were no longer acceptable because they might have been used in Hindu ceremonies seen as idolatrous in Orthodox teaching.

    ”They just found out that the wigs were beyond shoulder length….

  • 22. kudos to the writer wrote:

    I must say that the menahel that signed his name is a hero. He is doing his job for what he was appointed for. As he is trusted to run his position of the Rebbes school and keep it up to those standards and the Rebbe shouldn’t be ashamed with us and furthermore be proud of us. Those that are speaking out against are only barking because this long overdue charpu and busha has relly hit them. As proud bnos yisroel and children of the Rebbe we should be proud of this wake up call and relly work on bringing Moshiach Now

  • 23. The kangeroo wrote:

    #22 You are all full of self praise!You are quilty of doing the work Kamtza and bar Kamtza.No real Meshiach will even come near such people.

  • 24. DeClasse' Intellectual wrote:

    When will you ever learn?

    Just ask the Raven!!!!!!
    How many times has a mall matter that involved a limited section has explouded to get everyone involved–including those who should not be–
    Just sk the Raven

    Now to start the parade to the baracades!!!!!Number #20, are you sure what you quoteth; i. e. because some of the Hindu mystic teachings on healing and
    self improvement have some very intersting connections with ( can you guess) Ever since the destructions of the Bais HaMikdosh, there has been a strong cross fertilization of ideas and mystical thought.Once Ghegis Khan secured the silk and spice route the interconnection of ideas and thought from all increased in its mixture.
    So, is there an answer to this issue–just ask the Raven

  • 25. DrumIntellect wrote:

    This letter should not have been written because it just reiterates points made in previous comments.
    The idea that there is choice in Crown Heights for someone who wants their child to get a “quality” Lubavitch education is incorrect. This is especially true for a child already in the school. (Also, good luck finding a new, good school to accept your child between now and September. Do you think BR or any other school won’t ask “why are you switching schools”?)
    There are many problems with this letter, but I’ll only point out two more.

    The comparison between a private school and an airline following federal laws is weak and harms your overall argument.

    This paragraph:
    “Before this boomerangs into my face with the argument that “you are only seeing the ones who stayed with the program – how about those who left the fold (due to pressure of the discipline or what have you)” PLEASE hold your fire! You are CORRECT! This may not work for all the people all the time. However, THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO GO TO A SCHOOL WHERE THESES RULES ARE REGARDED AND RESPECTED – DESERVE TO HAVE THE RIGHT TO DO SO WITHOUT INTERFERENCE!”
    makes you look terrible, because in middle of a measured, logical dissertation, you suddenly start yelling. You cannot yell yourself to victory.
    You should consider taking this down or editing it to make better, reasoned arguments.

  • 26. Where is Rabbi Nochum Kaplan wrote:

    All girls schools under the Rebbes name should have the same tznius rules………

  • 27. Ch mom wrote:

    Still seeing a lot of long wigs on Kingston. The stores are still selling denim. Guess we’re doomed.

  • 28. chusid wrote:

    Cabad should be the front-runners in showing an example to the world how a bas yisroel should dress. It is a shame that a school in crown heights under the leadership of the Rebbe should have an issue of writing a letter of this matter. Lets wake up and do what is right and follow the leaders who are dealing with the consequences of the shameful dresses that are being worn in our own neighborhood. The hanhula has a responsibility of educating their students for the rest of their life how they should dress and parents who wish to bring up their children should be proud that they are sending their kids to such a school


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