A Response: The Erosion of Kedusha in Our Midst

To put it very straight forward: I am alarmed by the stark contrast between the Lakewood community of yesteryear and the one we see today.

Last week, TLS published a letter calling for a higher standard of living on our communities, yet the comments were quite shocking. The fact that so many found no issue with it shows exactly who the letter was intended for.

It seems the influx of new residents over the past few years has brought a jarring shift in our collective values. The very same community that once rallied around the principles of kedusha now seems to be surrendering in part to a culture of apathy and disregard.

Articles that once (not too many years ago) sparked meaningful conversations and calls for growth are now met with a resounding “live and let live” attitude, as if the pursuit of kedusha is no longer a shared value.

This shift is not only saddening but also alarming. The erosion of sensitivity to matters of kedusha is a telling sign of a community in danger of losing its spiritual moorings. We are forsaking the very foundations that made our community a beacon of light and inspiration to so many.

We cannot afford to be complacent in the face of this trend. We must reclaim our commitment to kedusha and the values that define us as a community. We owe it to ourselves, our children, and the very future of our community to rediscover the beauty of living a life sanctified by Torah and mitzvos. The future of our community depends on it.

Signed,

A Lakewood Balabus.

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50 COMMENTS

  1. Once again a vague letter with no details or examples leaving us to imagine what the issues are. We have no way to determine if you’re referring to legitimate issues or a Chumrah on top of a Chumrah on top of Chumrah.
    I have no idea of you’re talking about yarmulke size & sheitel length, or eating French Fries from McDonald’s & vacationing at a busy beach.

    • Agreed. Reminds me of the Pashkevilin put up one Purim in Meah Shearim that ranted and raved about what a terrrble thing it is, and how all the rabbonim are against it, and it is a chillul Hashem norah, and how e/o has to be moser nefesh to stop it… without ever specifying what the issue was…

    • which basically means, sorry to be this blunt, YOU are a part of the problem.

      Now, i know that many will be horrified that i can say such a thing, and they will vigorously demand of me “DO NOT JUDGE”.

      To which I respond, that “no judging” is an entirely non-jewish value, adopted by those whom “Libam Nokfam”, while the Jewish value regarding judgement is to certainly JUDGE, each person on their merits, whether they are a Tzadik, a Beinoni, an unknown, or a rasha.

      The point is, its time to stop this no-standard nonsense.

      Standards are a real thing.

      and its basic decency to respect other peoples standards

      • “It’s basic decency to respect other peoples standards”
        As long as they align with yours? If the more modern meet the standards for their Rabbanim & community you’ll be ok with that, right?
        Because there have been numerous letters on TLS demanding those not as strict with their Halachic rulings adhere to the rules of the more religious.

      • Baloney.
        Only H can judge a person. (אל תדין את חבירך….) We need to evaluate actions according to daas torah to know who to learn from and trust.
        But judge the person? Nope. Only H who knows the nisayon, the matzpunei lev.

  2. One can make a strong argument that 99% of frum fathers, husband’s baalei batim who are not in the koslei bmg, ride the subway, have devoted secretaries, goyim workers, shows and deals. Are exemplary in these inyonim considering the power of arayos, the level of society at large and that even loyal bnos yisroel have a minimal ratzon. There is always room for improvement, yet ask any rav who is in the trenches…stories are rare and almost always with other isues
    Bnei yeshiva are more sensitive and are shtered by even small challenges . Do your homework speak to erliche balei batim

    • your comment is insane.
      what you say is so far from being reality, its laughable.
      Yes, Those who are sheltered are, rightfully, even more sensitive.
      But if you say that those of us who have this exposure are doing better because of it, your just simply not seeing the truth.
      Have YOU spoken to any rav “in the trenches”?

      • I am Inthe trenches for years I triaged calls for a major heimish helpline, my point was that as a general rule nothing substantial is going on despite the temptations
        The torah has a high bar and demands shemira not just bmaseh but even dibur and machshava
        Bottom line even the colonies who woman are jogging in leggings and a cap, or offices that are more cozy than they shud be ..it doesn’t go further..I can’t say my name but I promise u I know what I’m talking about

  3. Your right.

    But Lakewood isn’t Lakewood rather all on central Jersey is called Lakewood.

    Bashing Lakewood based on some community of wannabe’s in Toms River misses the point.

    Where you live counts and you can find communities of kedusha with Lakewood affiliated communities.

  4. Thank you very much. Very well written. Very well intended. Very timely. Very appropriate. Very much appreciated. Hashem should help.

  5. When Brooklyn realized that Lakewood was cheaper and had land/ grass , that’s when Lakewood fell… PERIOD. That’s when the restaurants the clothing stores and all the Gashmius came… end of discussion.

    • “Online is not the place where growth oriented people tend to congregate.”
      Interesting. That might explain why I keep shrinking in size. No sense purchasing new clothes to fit me if I don’t get cut the internet activities out of my daily diet. Vitamins, fish oils and stretching exercises don’t help me. It’s crazy, I keep elevating the height of my chair, because I can’t see my computer screen unless I raise up the chair.
      Funny thing is I asked my 7 foot tall next door neighbor if he uses the internet, and he didn’t even know what the internet is! On the flip side, the fellow who lives across the street from me – who was once a 6 foot 11 inch point guard on his college basketball team – joined the work force many years ago and became an internet specialist. He works online most of the day. Now, he’s 5 feet 2 inches tall even when he wears his platform shoes. Go figure.

    • thats what the letter writer is saying that even here in the “world of the lakewood scoop” there was a certain feeling of a higher standard.

  6. MY question is… Where did these people grow up? What schools did they go to? Where do their hashkafos come from? Didn’t most of these people go to yeshivos and bais yaakov schools in the tri state area? Where did we go wrong?

    • Where we went wrong is in our chinuch system where one out of eight are failing due to ADHD and learning disabilities in elementary school and mesivtas where the rebbeim are burning out the talmidim from the ones who did make it that far……
      Anyone who will not get their geshmak from learning will look to other places…..

    • Read Faige’s response above.. they didn’t grow up in Lakewood. That’s the issue. They brought their high fancy and Gashmadika ways with them. It’s a completely different lifestyle. All keeping up with the Jone’s. One has to out do the other. It’s a shame

  7. Being Dan L’Kaf Zchus is still a thing. What do we really know about people just by seeing a glimpse into their lifestyle. Lakewood is still, in spite of all the issues, a makom torah and a source of chesed on a grand scale. Ive been here my whole life. Much has changed. New challenges have arose. but whats really important has continued to get better. Bsuros tovos.

    • two points
      1. while we may not the challenges that people face, and they may truly be doing well in context,
      they may STILL be a challenge to kedusha.
      It has nothing to do with how far a person came.
      It has to do with what are accepted standards, and the erosion of such.
      2. your argument that “whats really important” has gotten better is nonsensical.
      Kedusha is at the core of “whats really important”, in fact, its dubbed “yesod”.

      It would seem that your “it will be ok” approach to this topic stems from a deep lack of cohesive integrity…

  8. PCS , can you please help people out. A lot of people need jobs.
    GEE Whiz!
    there is so much beautiful going on in Lakewood I could fill thousands of phone books and this person chose to point out the negative? Shame on you. Please go get a job!

  9. Its a sad and painful tragedy what happened to the torah community of Lakewood. Where originally Harav Aharon Kotler ZTL started it for people to devote their life to Torah and ruchnius.

    Look at Lakewood today, a town filled with gashmius from the most expensive restaurants to the fanciest clothing stores etc….

    Today if YOU want to devote yourself to Torah sadly Lakewood is not the place to raise a Torah and ruchnius family. Move to Detroit or Denver or Boston where they have beautiful Torah communities and a beautiful chinuch system with separate schools and still have restaurants but the kedusha is more frum and away from gashmius and running after the Jones…..

    A original born Lakewood resident that watched Lakewood become Brooklyn NJ. Very sad……

  10. Ur right.
    It’s not R’ Ahron’s Lakewood.
    It’s 1000 times bigger and better.
    We over 60 Mesivtahs is town.
    SIXTY
    Over 200 Shuls.
    Over 16,000 families !!
    It’s beautiful !!
    I don’t get what ur complaining about.
    Not even a little bit.
    And we also have Hiskabtzi, so,there’s also that.

    • My freind you are right, and SO SO wrong
      Its precisely when there is victory on one front that the yetzer employs another.

      Its precisely BECAUSE we were zocheh to such an increase of learning, through the mesiras nefesh of the ones who laid that foundation (R’ Aharon, whos efforts you fail to recognize as the catalyst for what you consider “better”) taht the yetzer devised a sneaker and more insidious way to attack.

      Not by there being a dearth of goodness, but by putting in a way for it all to erode r”L.

      If one doesnt watch for contaminants in his water, he can have all the water in the world, but it will only serve as a conduit for wider contamination.

    • Maybe they’re trying to oppose the issues pertaining to people wearing the most expensive clothes and how it affects our attitudes on Yiddishkeit.

      Some people make their attitudes on Yiddishkeit based on socioeconomic status and not spirituality AKA רוחניות.

  11. What does the author mean by kedusha.
    There is now much more Torah and Kedusha in the Lakewood area than ever.
    I remember Lakewood in the 1980’s: Bachurim whom were strong learners/masmidim were happy and had plenty of friends. Bachurim whom were weak learners were outcasts. There was only one yeshiva for them Rabbi Y. Shain / Adelphia those Bachurim felt accepted there and went on to successful lives.
    However most parents would only send their weak learners to a genius Mesivta of which those Bachurim all went off of the derech. I estimate 30 to 35% of Bachurim whom grew up in the old Lakewood are not frum today.
    And the wives of Rabonim used to complain that there was nothing here thus they used to go into Boro Park twice a week.
    Today there are yeshiva’s here for every type of child and Bachur. All children and Bachurim feel accepted and are happy. Besides everything being available here. Besides Torah, tremdous tzedaka’s and chesed comes from here. It’s kedusha like never before.

    • By Kedusha, the author means vigilance in maintaining boundaries and safeguards to prevent illicit occurences with forbidden relationships. See Rashi in beginning of Parshas Kedoshim, and see the submitted letter and response comments the author references which he is responding to that is linked in body of post. (Many commentators here are also focusing on the Ramban in the beginning of Kedoshim, and feel a degree of that element of Kedusha sensitivity has also been eroded.)

    • He’s referring to issues of tznius. Which by definition should probably not be discussed on an online co-ed forum that is open to who-knows-who.

    • your comment is non sensical

      while the notion that there had been parents who destroyed their children by putting them in places that werent condicive for their nature is true,
      the attribution you throw out about the 30% or so going off the derech because of that is a joke, and comes from someone who believes “Mai Ahani Rabbanan”.

      Secondly, it has nothing to do with the point here, that degradation in standards of kedusha has a far reaching impact irrespective of how much NUMBERS of yeshivos and learners are there.

      • Yes . Your right
        1. This letter never mentioned that it’s about Tzinius, it just said Kedusha which is usually Torah and frumkeit.
        2. I shouldn’t have said that 30 to 35% became not frum; more accurately written 30 to 35% became less frum or less Yeshivisch, very few became totally not frum, 95% of those are still frum but Modern.
        My apologies

  12. all children and bachurim feel accepted and are happy? really? even the 100 girls who haven’t been accepted into high schools?

  13. It’s always the ‘bad apples’ that get noticed first even if the rest of the ‘barrel’ has pristine – condition ones…. It is also easier to be disappointed in others that are more modern or unaffiliated. Try talking to these neighbors, invite them for a shabbos or offer to have them come over for a cup of coffee and you may just change your view of them. Hatzlocha.

  14. R’ Motty.

    There might be much more Torah than ever in Lakewood but unfortunately the same could not be said about the Kedusha. The restaurants, Peritzus & Gashmiyus are not becoming of this beautiful Ihr Hatorah & obviously lowers the Kedusha.

    I am not sure where you are getting your estimate of 30 to 35% of Bochurim growing up in the old Lakewood not being Frum. I was born in the Seventies & grew up in Lakewood. Everyone within my age bracket is Frum.

  15. For those who feel Lakewood must be pristine exactly as Rav Aharon established it?
    Are you ready to ban Shtreimels as he did?
    Are you ready to sell your house and move back to an apartment as he opposed youngerleit owning homes ?

  16. He didn’t ban Streimels. Those who wear streimels didn’t do so in BMG out of kovod to minhag hamokom that he established. Don’t be motzi shem rah on Rav Ahron.

  17. Not addressing by first names is a lakewood thing, out of town even in the frummest community’s they address by first names and you’ll look at you like your nuts to suggest other wise people in neighboring towns largely come from out of town communities

  18. Every time this issue comes up it’s the same thing. I dont understand why people keep sending in these letters.
    Let’s get something clear. There’s an obvious tznius and kedusha yerida in Lakewood. Yerida means that we used to be on a higher level of tznius and now we are on a lower level. It’s unfortunate because those that are doing these things don’t have rabbonim or Rebbitzens who can really speak to them and aren’t generally interested in growing, so let’s daven for them and move on.
    In a more practical note, we can elevate the KESUSHA in Lakewood. Us. Ourselves.
    I heard a shout from Rabbi Kushner from the Lakewood Beis Din on him his yichud where he shared with the oilam that of the DOZENS of divorce cases the beis din gets every month, 90 percent could have been avoided if both parties strictly adhered to hilchos yichud. This is something we can all take upon ourselves to work on and improve the kesusha in our town.

    • Sheker and sheer, not 10% had anything to do with yichud, most were either a real mismatch be it bruchnius or personality, and today there is minimal glue so it’s return to sender dad this is Not what I ordered

  19. The vaccine banner ad from the NJ “Health” Dept. on the side now is shekker (falsehood). There is no way to comment on it, so I’m putting it here.
    Just bear in mind that there is zero legal liability to any pharmaceutical manufacturer or doctor for any vaccine adverse reaction – including death.
    And in general, there is no proof that any vaccine was ever necessary, safe or effective, and there is mountains of proof to the opposite.
    See the books Dissolving Illusions and Turtles all the Way Down. (The latter written anonymously due to the flack that the authors of the former got.)

  20. I just heard a great story, b’hasgacha while going through this post. Hepsedim on R’ Docvid Trenk (@ 31:49) R’ Yehciel Spero mentions a story about Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky that he was asked if it is appropriate for the male menahel of a girl’s school to comment to a talmida on skirt length. He replied in a wise and witty way: “Speak to her heart, not to her knees!”
    (And he said more such similar stories, personifying Rav Trenk, and how yeshivos have incorporated his love and calmness, and generally not giving up on anyone into their system.)

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