Another Cult Exposed? Megeirot

Update: More on Megeirot
Takana forum finds against Megeirot.

Megirot” (lit. drawers) is one of many recent attempts to help religious women attain a higher spiritual level in their lives. The Hebrew newspaper Makor Rishon has an exposé in today’s paper about the method and its founder. Women who have been active for many years and have taught using Megirot’s methods are calling it a cult. The method has many followers in the religious Zionist community in Israel.

According to the article by Yifat Erlich, Megirot was founded by Sylvia Dahari. A widowed mother of six originally from Gush Katif (the Jewish settlement of Gaza), she wished to share the “secrets” that helped her cope during the period after her husband was murdered in a terrorist attack. She attracted women with her dynamic personality and her ability to transform mundane daily tasks, especially housekeeping, into a quest for reaching a high level of holiness. The women brought the contents of their drawers to the lessons, where Sylvie (or the teachers trained by her) analyzed the objects and drew conclusions about the woman’s inner life.

At a lesson attended by the reporter in preparation for the article, Sylvie told of a woman who came to her saying that she wanted a divorce after two years of marriage. They “did a drawer,” which contained tapes of children’s songs. Sylvie asked why the woman was saving the tapes, and the woman said they were for her children. Sylvie pointed out that tapes would be worthless by the time the children grew up, and the woman was really saving them for herself because she still felt like a child. The woman agreed with Sylvie, and said that she wanted a divorce because she was afraid of growing up and becoming a mother.

The women interviewed in the article, who had been trained by Sylvie to teach the method, continue to be grateful for many things that they learned. However, they were seriously disturbed by Sylvie’s focus on sexual matters, including the close emotional relationships she developed with several husbands of her students. She interfered with the students’ private lives and mocked students after class. She deliberately came hours late to class, despite knowing that students traveled long distances.

Here are examples from the article:

  • Sylvie told of her son, whose daughter jumped on him and interrupted his learning. “Do everything so that she will listen to you in the end,” instructed Sylvie to her son. “I am breaking your hands,” he told the girl, and when she jumped on him again, he turned her hand until a “tick” was heard. “That’s it, finished,” explained Sylvie to the students. “It won’t happen again. Fear of punishment is necessary.” [Why do these cults always involve child abuse?]
  • Two years ago Sylvie began courting L., a married father of seven, who ran a ranch for teens at risk. The two would closet themselves in a room for hours and be seen around the country all hours of the day and night. “Every man has a physical wife and a spiritual wife. I am L.’s spiritual wife,” she explained to the students. [Why do these cults always involve sexual impropriety?]
  • She told L.’s [“physical”] wife, Y., “It’s from Hashem, for your own good. I am building his personality and saving him from spiritual death, and you are interfering in the process.” Y. was apparently convinced, and sadly told one of the women: “You think this isn’t hard for me? Sylvie is working with me on this.”
  • Sylvie gave a class for single women, and concluded that the reason they remained unmarried was their inability to speak openly with men. She recruited L. [see above] and a 17-year-old boy from his ranch, so the women could practice intimate phone conversations with them. When the women suggested that Sylvie herself marry, she replied, “Marry? For what? Why do I need a husband on my head? What is bad about my life? To serve him? So he will limit me? I don’t have enough to do?”
  • Sylvie tells women to carefully guard her husband’s honor: to stand up when he gets home, cook what he likes, and get into bed five minutes earlier than he. But if the men disagree with Sylvie about something, it’s a different matter entirely.
  • [We have sex, we have child abuse, so what’s left? Money, of course.] Tens of thousands of shekalim went into Sylvie’s pocket in the guise of sacred money, with a promise that the donors will merit blessings and be protected from harm. During the course of opening drawers, objects deemed unnecessary or impediments to growth remained with Sylvie. These included electrical appliances, a diamond ring, clothes and more. Women paid to attend lessons, but no receipts were ever given by Sylvie. (Some other teachers do give receipts.)

When haredi women began flocking to meetings in Bnei Brak, the Badatz of the Edah Haredit (one haredi community’s religious court) banned it. But it took longer for the religious Zionist rabbis to get the picture. Rabi Eliahu of Safed at one time recommended the Megirot method to women, but no longer. He believes a religious court should be convened to discuss the matter.

And some people seem to think that our community is too cynical. But it’s clear to me that we’re not suspicious enough.

The article has more, but it’s Friday afternoon and I’ve covered the main points.

Shabbat shalom.

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Comments

  1. My Chardei wife has been involved in megeriot for 4 years. It has absolutely changed her life and mine. She couldn’t take care of our household of 8. I was washing dishes. I was doing alot of the cooking and I almost couldn’t take anymore the non stop arguments between me and my wife. It was gehinnom. when I saw my wife changing, little by little, each month it was amazing. She became a Yiddeshe mother. No more anger. Her strength came back, and she does EVERYTHING in the house. She is a real kiddush hashem and speaks very nicely to the children, and me her husband. ….what a cult.!!!
    I saw her each day doing megirot. what did she do? she went through the shelves and drawers in the house “that she had made”, and was able to find many many things that she didn’t need. When you ask yourself a real question…why am i holding on to things I no longer use etc, you just may get to know yourself. The idea is to free ourselves from all of our negative thoughts, and limitations. And, each time she did this, she did it with a prayer. “Anah Hashem…..please help me with this middah or that middah.” Everyday she was saying over and over again ..Ana Hasem, (what a cult). It doesn’t surprise me that in our velt today, saying “anah Hashem is a cult”.
    Of course in the time of the Bal Shem Tov, the vilna goan and many others called him an epikores. In fact many Litveshe Rabbanim were very very against the Chassidic Admorim and put those in cherem who belonged to these “cults” as well.
    So, when I saw one day an article in the hamodia-English, filled with Motzei Shem Rah, with the name of this Rav and that Rav, that a new cult has been discovered..called megirot, I was very very disappointed. Why? I knew that these Rabbanim did not know anything about megirot and certainly didn’t go to a class, but they have their askanim who look around for problems and come back and report on things they see as problems. The rabbanim completely rely upon these askanim and that is it.
    Now, I have been learning in known Yeshivot for many years, and am considered a respectful Chareidi family. I am sorry, but I have seen for years with “my own ears and eyes,” (a prerequisite of shmirot Haloshon), and I know that saying “Anah Hashem”, (something that I myself should be saying more often,) and clearing out drawers, is in NO WAY whatsoever a cult or avoda zorah. I was ver dis heartened to see how low in this

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    Edited By Siteowner

  2. CONTINUATION OF ABOVE…. I was ver dis heartened to see how low in this long golus we have sunk, to use such big names of Rabbanim and to say in their names “CULT”, avodah zorah”, and if they allowed their names to be used this way, then I am even more dis heartened.
    I myself have spoken to Sylvia for many many hours on the phone, and I never heard once a word of Kefirah, or avodah zorah etc. ANd I did keep my ears open to be sure. She is a Yirei Shemayim, and as is her derech, she will never respond to any criticism since she knows it is all from Hashem and for her to grow.
    I went to Harav Moshe Halbershtam, zt”l, with my wife, and he himself said, “What, clearing out your drawers is avodah zorah”?? He did not forbid my wife to do it, we in fact we asked why they came out with their P’sak, (i.e the aidah Hacharadit) against it. The answer… “WE don’t want our Chareidishe women mixing with the mizrachi type” This was the answer from Harav Shternbuch who I know personally.(So, if this is the reason, then say so,,, but to call it and everyone involved in it cult members and ovdei avoda zorah?)
    It should be known that the Chasidishe admorim did not assur it, Belz, and one very well know Tdadik type admore (I will not mention his name on the internet) Has 2 of his daughters still doing it, (with a Chareidi counselor).
    I can tell you, that my wife has spent hundreds of hours on the phone with Sylvia over the years, and she was never charged one shekel!!!!! I myself have spoken to her on the phone, and she never asked for money. The one’s who pay are the one’s who are able to. She does not care about money. I am saying because I know first hand.
    I know of another chareidishe women from Meah Shearim, (I met her personally), and she begged Rav Halbershtam to allow her to continue with this “CULT”, and he did. (can you imagine a rav in the aida allowing a frum women to continue going to cult meetings.?
    Isn’t it disheartning that all of us poor nebech, chareidim with yeshiva and bais yaakov backgrounds, all of that Torah education…we can’t know what a cult is..avodah zora, etc.
    And all of those lies about sex, taking things out of context to do the final asassination.
    If I had lived 250 years ago, I would have chosen to be in cherem and follow the Baal Shem tovs cult, and of cours

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  3. CONTINUATION OF ABOVE.
    If I had lived 250 years ago, I would have chosen to be in cherem and follow the Baal Shem tovs cult, and of cours Rabbi Nachman’s. I also would have followed the Ramchal’s cult as well, (as they were all called in those days). Well, now I have a real wife, she cooks she cleans, she davens, she honors me and respects me, and she honors herself as well. This is another cult that I will stay in.
    Let it be known, not ever shiur is for everyone, not every shul is for everyone, and not every neighborhood is for everyone….but the Emmes must be spoken!
    I swear that all of the above I know personally, and not hearsay. All is true and factual.
    yehuda | 06.12.08 – 7:33 pm | #

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  1. […] program, 360, broadcast a report about what they called the “Taliban women.” Yifat Erlich (of Megeirot fame—she’s graduated from Makor Rishon newspaper to TV) went undercover to infiltrate the group […]

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