[Followed by Hasmo Legends XIII: The Background]
Someone has told me about the Hasmo blog. I haven’t seen it for myself and, considering what it is supposed to be like, I don’t think I want to, either.
After all, as far as I can ascertain, the fellows who are obsessed with this hatred of Hasmo have more or less wasted the last 20 or 30 years doing nothing much for themselves and even less for the world. The owner of the blog, who calls himself Mike Something-or-other, as far as is known, lives alone, unmarried, in a flat in Tel Aviv, together with his four dogs. Most of these people who say that Hasmo did nothing for them spiritually, etc., etc., moan, groan, moan, groan, are now grown men but are unfortunately the drinking companions of ingrates and malcontents and suchlike others who are pretty much the dregs of society.
This site is a shame on all of us normal people who have a great deal to be thankful for to Hasmo. If Mike and Co. won’t close it down themselves, or at least remove the offensive comments about teachers and Rebbes and start to be more positive and grateful, then the rest of us should not give it any support by contributing any comments to this site. It is a disgrace to all of us ex-Hasmos! Let’s silent this scab! After all, most of us ex-Hasmos know full well that wherever we go in the world, Hasmo is known and its ex-pupils are looked up to – and with good reason! But these malcontents want to spoil all that. For why? Of course we all know that there were/are areas that could have been better. OK, so what? Does that cancel all the good that is Hasmo?
Let’s have a bit more pride in our school and gratefulness to those teachers and Rebbes that have given us so much opportunity and advantage. Malcontents and failures should not be allowed to define what is a true Hasmo product nor besmirch our name and reputation! Hasmos of the world – unite!
As a Limmudei Kodesh Rebbe at Hasmonean for well over thirty years and also a teacher (I also taught bookbinding and for a time I taught also woodwork and even calligraphy) I am saddened to hear about this website about the Hasmonean. It is so unfair.
But you know, it’s rather sad to see grown men (some of them must be about fifty years old by now, if not older) who are so absorbed with themselves and so vindictive that they have to try to besmirch, denigrate and ridicule people, sometimes using language and expressions which are shamefully foul and dirty and not at all fitting for Jewish people to use, just because – more than thirty years ago! — these people were their teachers and, according to their childish perspective, they treated them unfairly. These overgrown babies think that they can now take their revenge against their teachers (but like the cowards that they are, of course hiding behind the cloak of anonymity) for what they perceive to be “unfair treatment” – referring to things which happened twenty or even over thirty years ago!
A number of points to remember:
1. After all is said and done, people become teachers because they are idealistic. They are generally more intelligent than your average person and could probably do quite well out there in the world of money and material gain. But no. They have chosen to dedicate their lives to helping youngsters make their way in the world, to give them the equipment they will need to do well. Nobody, but nobody, has ever decided to become a teacher so as to make life for children a misery. All teachers start out with the best intentions. Sadly, the treatment that they receive from their pupils can sometimes make them regret deeply their chosen vocation, but if they have become embittered it is because the children, who can be clever, manipulative, nasty, cruel and quite vicious, have made them so.
2. The self-pitying, vindictive, spiteful, foul-mouthed, overgrown babies who contribute their spiteful remarks about their teachers were in all probability pretty rotten kids who quite deliberately intended to play-up and ruin, both, the best efforts of their teachers and also the learning opportunities of their classmates. If their teachers were nasty to them, they probably brought it upon themselves by trying to make their teachers’ lives a misery.
3. And even if they were completely innocent, so alright! The teacher made a mistake! Because the real culprit was clever, the teacher mistakenly picked on you and punished you! And you, of course, protested your innocence but would not snitch on the real offender. So the teacher made a mistake! Is that a valid reason for insulting him so foully thirty years later, publicly and mercilessly?
4. These 50-year-old overgrown babies, some of whom have managed to make their way in the world and, by the sound of it, have managed to feather their nests quite nicely, thank-you-very-much, should consider that these teachers whom they vilify so pitilessly are in fact the ones who gave them the wherewithal to make their fortunes, and they should show a modicum of gratefulness.
5. They might also consider that their memories of things that happened so long ago might be more than a little distorted by time and bias and imagination (and possibly drink). Nevertheless, they are willing to vilify people and spread their own malevolence to others, just so that they can glorify themselves in the hurt and insult of another. Maybe this is what it takes to be popular in the crowd of mean and nasty people that make up this social circle. As I recall, there used to be a place with people like that not far from where the Dead Sea is today.
6. As I used to say to my young pupils many years ago, “Your being disrespectful to your teachers says more about you than it says about your teachers!” (I also used to point out that when children behave nicely they fulfil the Mitzvah of honouring their parents because people say how well they have brought up their children but that they do their parents a dishonour by being disrespectful because their parents are ultimately responsible for how their children behave and interact with others.) And that is said to pupils who are, after all, children. So, I ask you, what does this ungratefulness to a school that provided a pretty good education, and vindictiveness towards teachers, say about a supposedly mature 50-year-old?
7. If this is their attitude towards their teachers even now, as grown men, twenty or even thirty years later, one shudders to think how they have allowed their nastiness to fester and grow in their minds and how they have infected their own children to feel and relate to their teachers. And the viciousness doesn’t stop there, either, because now their children have probably got the same jaundiced view of teachers. (And of Rebbes, of course, and of authority generally, no?) It is very much the same as the cruel damage done to children and grandchildren and even beyond, when parents divorce (or split up) amidst rancour and bitterness. If you have to, divorce. But do it respectfully and if at all possible, amicably, for the sake of the children. Just because you two misled each other or made a bad choice of partner, is that a reason for ruining your children’s and grandchildren’s view of marriage and family life and spoiling their own married lives? Or that they will not marry at all? How selfish! So, just because this person has had a bad experience with one or two teachers (probably brought on by himself, as said) is that a reason to blight the school experience of his children?
8. Let these people realize that it’s high time they grew up. They should stop wallowing in self-pity, looking for scapegoats to blame for having such a rotten character. They should remember that they are big boys now and how they choose to develop their character is up to them. They can’t go on forever blaming others for their own failures (but of course patting themselves on the back if some things pan out alright). Whether to be gracious or nasty, thankful or ungrateful, forgiving or vengeful, respectful or insolent, kind or cruel, scoffing or admiring, all these are their own making. As I have said: What they choose to be says much more about them than it does about the ones that they denigrate.
9. Any decent person understands that it is unfair that a thug should beat someone from behind a bush, without giving him any chance of self-defence. Yet these people hide behind the cloak of anonymity to attack their victims, who can never defend themselves, who can only hope and pray fervently that their close families and friends do not get to read these vicious lies and childish rantings of warped memories and biased imaginations. The person who runs this website should close it down immediately. There is no excuse for it. He should remember that there is no such thing as innocent fun at someone else’s expense. It’s a shame and disgrace to him, not something to laugh about. I insist that there are enough good people who went to the Hasmonean who know that such a website offends against all the noble and good teachings of the Torah and Chazal who could exert pressure to have this maverick close down this site as it is at present. It’s a great pity that this website could be such a Kiddush HaShem, showing that Jewish people are truly grateful, Makkir Tovah, and repay good with good. Instead, it’s made a laughing stock of a venerable institution and a fair number of good, hard-working, dedicated, well-intentioned people, Jewish and non-Jewish, and shown a nasty side to Jewish people. In short, is this website something to be proud about or does it make you wince with embarrassment? (After the initial guffaw of laughter, of course.) To what purpose, please? To what benefit?
10. And I haven’t even mentioned yet the Torah, the Halochoh and the Mussar aspect of this shameful website. But I don’t suppose the person responsible for this enterprise is interested in what the Torah’s attitude is towards his obsession to defame his teachers and his school. He can’t be particularly religious, anyhow. Oh, I don’t mean that he doesn’t keep Shabbos or wear Tefillin. He probably does. Which just makes him a pious hypocrite. And not only is he a hypocrite but he’s a cowardly hypocrite, too, who hides behind the anonymity of a website. I say that he’s not a genuinely religious person. He knows that in the Torah it says, “You shall love your friend like yourself,” and he wouldn’t want these things said about him, even as “a bit of a laugh.”
Well, I’ve gone on for long enough. Perhaps I shouldn’t have come down so heavily but I know that some of the comments about some of the people are most unkind and really have hurt the feelings of the people concerned, Jew and non-Jew alike. Every human being has feelings, and if he hasn’t, then he’s not human. Which makes one wonder about the person who runs this site, does it not?
Please feel free to make known what I have said in this email. But please, all of it, not selections from it. I say that the site as it is now should be closed down, with sincere apologies to all those who have been hurt or harmed by it. Start again.
And, in future, be thankful and grateful for what the Hasmonean gave you all. It’s a mighty good school and all its pupils should all be grateful for all that it has given them, the rough with the smooth.
Osher Y. Baddiel, Stamford Hill, 17 August 2009.
[Photographs by "Benjamin", picasaweb.google.com]
Hasmo Legends XIII: The Background
To satisfy the steady flow of enquiries . . .
In the early hours of Monday morning, on checking for rogue comments to melchett mike from sly ex-Hasmos trying to catch me off my guard (i.e., asleep!), I was mildly amused to discover a comment – to Hasmo Legends I: An Introduction to an Institution – consisting of the first few paragraphs of the above post (though shorn of their more incendiary elements) from an “Osher Baddiel”. It was prefaced:
This was received from Osher Baddiel and he seems to have a point.
The Israeli e-mail address began “RAVI59” and an IP search located the e-mail’s source as Hod HaSharon, a fairly mixed – but predominantly non-religious – city south of Raanana and Kfar Saba, and most definitely not a place that one would associate in any way with a certain Hasmo Legend of said name.
So, I deleted the comment and the one response thereto, from the ever on-the-ball Dan Gins:
There’s simply no way that the last comment emanated from Reb Osher Yitzchok, someone for whom I, for one, have substantial respect and affection. He is a man of sufficient culture and substance, to use the word “gratitude”, not some kindergarten pidgin dialect substitute such as “gratefulness”.
Before nodding off, I sent “RAVI59” a curt e-mail, reminding him that Hasmo Legend ‘rules’ prohibit anonymous comments. On waking up some hours later, and fearing that I had perhaps been a little too brusque, I sent him a further, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, e-mail:
Pursuant to my earlier message, I would also be happy for you to post your own views – which I take it these are – even if they are not those of Mr. Baddiel . . . but, again, with an authentic name. If Mr. Baddiel wishes to post in his own name, I would love to have him on melchett mike . . . as would, no doubt, hundreds of other readers.
Shortly thereafter, I received the following response from Ravi Shahar (whose name, which now appeared in full, I vaguely recalled from his previous comments to melchett mike):
Rabbi Baddiel sent me the message and told me to post on the blog, they were HIS words not mine. He said I could do so in his name. They were not my views, but his. He does not wish to associate with melchett mike because he claims that the views posted are evil gossip, slander etc. He does have a point. Many but not all, are slander and badmouthing.
I asked Ravi for Mr. (that’s how I remember him) Baddiel’s telephone number, so that I could “call him to verify”. By early Monday evening, I had received that number and the ‘green light’:
He is willing to talk to you by phone.
I was rather apprehensive, however, about making the call. Mr. Baddiel didn’t teach me for all that long, but I clearly recall him as a rather daunting figure and – even though 24 years have passed since I left Hasmonean – found it strangely difficult to get that picture out of my mind. But, after failing to persuade (in true Hasmo style) Dan Gins to make the call instead – the soft lad “bottled” it! – I gingerly dialled the number provided at 9:20 that same evening. A woman I presumed to be Mrs. Baddiel picked up the telephone.
“Is Rabbi Baddiel there, please?” [I thought I'd go with "Rabbi" this time . . . just to be on the safe side!]
“He’s at mincha.”
I had a 20 minute stay of execution.
The 45 minute telephone conversation that followed, however, was extremely interesting, oddly uplifting spiritually (not a word that you will hear me use often in reference to my personal experience), and somehow took me back a quarter of a century to the classroom in which I always picture Osher Baddiel . . . the one on the other side of the narrow staircase (leading up to the Staff Room) next to the Computer Room (that of the brilliantly original name).
Mr. Baddiel confirmed his authorship of the comment posted to melchett mike by Ravi Shahar (who lives in Jerusalem, and not Hod HaSharon, after all). As for the details of the remainder of the conversation, I leave those for another time. I took detailed notes, and Mr. Baddiel agreed that I could use them to provide an accurate account of the conversation, though not to ridicule (and, of course, I will respect that).
The above post – received from Mr. Baddiel, by e-mail, yesterday (Tuesday) morning – took me, however, by complete surprise. It was almost six times the length of the comment which I had deleted, and far more outspoken. In a further telephone conversation, Mr. Baddiel – who couldn’t explain the discrepancy (perhaps his former sheliach, Ravi, can) – informed me that he had written it the previous morning and then sent it to Ravi for posting to melchett mike.
As is fairly obvious from a reading of the post, Mr. Baddiel, somewhat surprisingly, didn’t amend it to reflect the very cordial nature of our Monday evening conversation, one in which we each expressed our very contrasting opinions about melchett mike . . . but during, and after, which he understood (I hope) that I am not – as I suspect he might have imagined – The Dybbuk of Melchett.
melchett mike, Tel Aviv, 19 August 2009.
Next on Hasmo Legends, Part XIV: Conversations with Osher [followed by Osher: The Postscript (featuring melchett mike's Osher Poll)]