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Brooklyn, NY - Exclusive Interview With Super Star Mordechai Ben David [MBD]

Published on: March 5, 2008 12:04 AM
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Pinned Topic Mar. 4 2008 4:00 PM

Brooklyn, NY - In the wake of the recent Lipa Shmelzer imbroglio, people are looking for public statements—and VIN News is pleased and honored to have had a conversation with the king of Jewish music, R’ Mordechai Werydger, shlita, a.k.a. Mordechai Ben David.
MBD was not willing to talk at first, but then broadly shared his own experiences and insights regarding canceling concerts.
R’ Mordechai served as the Holy Ribnitzer Rebbe’s Zt"l gabbai for appox. 5years.  But during those years—when concerts still had mixed seating audiences — he asked his Rebbe many times: “Es pas nisht…”, feeling strange serving as a Rebbe’s gabbai on the one hand and singing at such concerts at the other.  Nevertheless, R’ Mordechai reports, the Rebbe never told him to stop but rather always encouraged him to continue with his success.
About 20 years ago, after a draining 10-concert/10-city world tour, MBD felt he didn’t have the energy to continue doing concerts, and thus decided to stop performing.  But he kept receiving calls.  Upon a visit to Israel he mentioned it to the the Lelover Rebbe, Rabbi Moshe Mordche Biderman Zt’L with whom he had a close relationship, of his decision. to which the Rebbe responded, “Who gave you permission to stop? Did you ask anyone?  When you get a matana from Hashem, you can’t just stop.  Continue singing and have great Hatzlocho. “
Ten years ago, before a major concert in Israel for the Zichron Menachem organization, two askanim tried to stop it, even meeting with the Amshinover Rebbe trying to get him to convince MBD not to appear.  Nevertheless, the Rebbe told MBD not to stop, and even gave him chizuk to do the concert.
But the most intriguing point is that MBD himself claims that He and Shyea Mendlowirz have introduced the concept of separate seating concerts which didn’t exist before.  Although some major concerts regularly highlighted by MBD agreed to switch to separate seating as a result, they later reverted to mixed seating with the star’s departure from their stage.


Bottom line: On the issue of “Lipagate,” R’ Mordechai was hesitant to speak, but did say that “it’s very sad that a few irresponsible people who call themselves askanim are the ones who go around sedlling lies to the rabbonim about what’s going on at concerts when it’s not any different than a regular yiddishe simcha with separate seating, and it’s a disgrace what they’re trying to do to Klal Yisroel,” “what a shame that they’re busy with this rather than addressing the real issues that are troubling Klal Yisroel” opines MBD.

More of today's headlines

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Read Comments (46)  —  Post Yours »


 Mar 10, 2008 at 10:06 PM Anonymous Says:

MBD has more chasidim worldwide than any of the big rabonim today.


 Mar 09, 2008 at 07:08 PM Moshe Chaim Says:

The Yated: We respect MBD because he deserves respect. He does not steal from the poor, he gives to the poor.


 Mar 06, 2008 at 05:57 AM The Yated Says:

I love MBD, in fact i have cried from time to time from the way he sing his "hartzegeh" nigunim.

However, shame on all you people who respect him more than the rabbonim.


 Mar 06, 2008 at 12:00 AM maven Says:

Thank you Mordechai for bringing up the point that "activists" and "askanim" are behind this and so many other things. This trend is terrible and is Israeli imported.Did anyone notice that in the original ban lipa's name was not mentioned by the rabbanim but was stuck in after the signiatures and signed by 'Vaad Mishmeres Hakodesh'?How shamefull!!Whoever this is does not say his name, hiding behind an obscure "Vaad"and mentioning lipa by name!Not only disgusting but cowardly!Anyway ,our society is not supposed to be like the secular one in which the press just mentions names freely. Lipa Is a human being. even if they think he did something wrong they cannot mention his name with impunity without asking a posek who is fluent in Hilchos Loshon Hora.The same goes for all these mouthpieces on the radio who sound so pious yot drop names(i.e.Lipa, MBD, Shea Mendlowitz etc.) and drip venom. Just because you have a complaint dosen't mean you can get on air and talk Loshon Hora and scorn behind the veneer of "Erlichkiet" and "yiddishkeit"!In my Opinion The Fact that this "Vaad" stuck in Lipa's name shows us who was behind this whole thing;"Unterveltniks"who don't tell us who they are but find it befitting to publicize Lipa's name. Mordechai-very well said.


 Mar 05, 2008 at 06:33 PM Anonymous Says:

I have loved MBD s music since I was 9 years old, and Hineni is a song that cannot and will not ever be able to be duplicated, nor can MBD's amazing voice be copied..it could be that the way HE presented himself in concert was what the Rabbonim approved, not the concert itself...
But even if this is true, the way this whole story was mishandled, and the loss of money, is a tragedy which we will all have to live with, concert-goers or not...to explain this to our kids, or to ourselves, is very difficult.
Todays Rabbis are NOT the Rabbis/Rebbes of yesterday, and should not, in my opinion, be making ANY takonos at all, if they do not hear both sides and first try to work things out...and that is what was done here.
The chilul Hashem and loss of respect for Rabbis is the TRUE churban here.


 Mar 05, 2008 at 04:33 PM Anonymous Says:


The shul I attend there is NO mingling ........................... I don't know where U come from.


 Mar 05, 2008 at 03:21 PM Anonymous Says:

Anon 2:51

I think you should stop going to shop anywhere, unless their is a Mechitza. lock your self in your house.

you might as well stop going to shul to hear Shofer on Rosh Hashanah because there is mingling when U get out of shul with no mechitzah.

you sound like a sincere guy, but you need to open your mind a little.


 Mar 05, 2008 at 02:51 PM Anonymous Says:

Dear Reb Mordechai Shlita,

I am a big fan of MOST of your music (NOT OF THE SONGS WHERE IT ROCKS AND ROLLS THEM LIKE THE GOYIM DO) but you will have to admit that what the Rebbeh told you many years ago (to continue concerts) does not apply today, the fact is, that the mingling that takes place out side of the hall is 100% attached to Geluy Arayos.

The Gemorah tells us that in the times of the Bais Hamikdosh on Yom Tov when the yiden gathered with Kedusha and Taharah, the Rabbanim made a Tikun Gadol and kept separation between the men and women on two seperate floors.

Now that we have fallen a great deal and we are NOT as close to Hashem as we should be, we can understand why the Rabonim have come out to ban MSG and London ETC.. Sorry for being blunt, as Jews we have to speak the truth, we all have to admit that it has come to a point that public gatherings are not helping us bring MOSHIACH, its much to Hefker.

I personally called up and asked if there will be separation right out side of the hall, the person answered
so who are we trying to fool? What a Kiddush Hashem that once and for all the Rabonim came and spoke out to ALL of us.

May Hashem give you a Shefa of Parnosa in a kosher way, (you have personally helped me in the past) I love your kosher songs!!! and love you as a good Yid.

Thanks - MBD for everything.


 Mar 05, 2008 at 11:18 AM Anonymous Says:

to anon March 4, 2008 8:02 PM

thats when its daas torah, not of askonim with an evil agenda


 Mar 05, 2008 at 10:08 AM yudi Says:

anon 5:16: as upset you are with the gedolim, we are still not allowed to say who are greater tzaddikkim. Then Heiliger ribnitzer ZY"A was heilig, but I am sure he would tell you not to publicly denigrate our gedolim to say soemthing nice about him


 Mar 05, 2008 at 09:06 AM Anonymous Says:



 Mar 05, 2008 at 07:54 AM Anonymous Says:

To atr said.. and all
Yes, he is a super star, and will stay a super star after his 120!
I am still listening to all his albums, older and latest, and I still cant replace them with any others
I use to listen to all kind of (goiyshe) singers, and no one has his gefeal
Thank you MBD and thank you VIN


 Mar 05, 2008 at 04:31 AM Anonymous Says:

Sheya Mendlowitz BIG mistake was not having 10% profits go to BMG. If BMG was going to get 10% of profits LIPA GATE would not be LIPA GATE and the concert would have went on.

Shame on the "Rabonim". We have major issue in klal yisroel like Poor people, insurance problems, jobs....

Time to wake up and smell the coffee.


 Mar 05, 2008 at 03:05 AM Anonymous Says:

it's possible that MBD is correct but once the chachamim say something we must listen and there is no reason to start putting questions about the chachamim in other people's minds


 Mar 05, 2008 at 12:14 AM Let My People Go Says:

Anon March 4, 2008 8:37 PM:

Thanx for the inspirational story.......

Yes it All comes to the same Conclusion the Real Ge'Dolim with A further broader look ..on K’lal Yisrael had a total diff. approach (and look) to these things…… They were in “touch” with the ‘K’lal’ ,therefore, knowing - what , where, when…etc.

As of the Satmar Rav …some Rav (NOT an “askan” but a distinguished Rav’!!) approached him ones about the Issue of possessing a RADIO ..that the negative influence of it etc. that it has to be “ASSERED” Satmar R’ answered: I agree about the negativity of its influence But- No WAY! Am I going to ASSER it …its something that the Klal wont be able to or wont listen so better off not touching the Subject …for it will weaken the Authority n the influence of the Rabinate ..by ppl not being in acceptance n even if yes by being reluctant to it…

This is DAAS Torah!! Having the ability to feel out the “RUACH” where the wind is blowing …the ‘Level of the D’or’, what is really Important to win the WAR not the Battle !! (v’doik)

Yes! we have reached the Level Of Ukvasa D’meshiachah …P’nei H’Dor K’Pnei H’Kalev as explained by Rav Yisrael Salanter z’l … that the Ra’Bonim will be Led by the Bal H‘batim .. Askonim etc.(and especially hot heads ... of the likes of AF of N.Yis...who yells on the streets… Shabbos : Me'chaloleho Mos Yimas”)

Vein lanu Al Mi L’isho’ein Ala Al A’Vinu Sh’Bashmayim!!!


 Mar 04, 2008 at 11:14 PM Anonymous Says:

These 33 Rabbonim that signed on the KK are not LEADERS!


 Mar 04, 2008 at 10:41 PM Anonymous Says:

Before I request my refund from the Big event, I'd like to know how many others have left their ticket money for Simchat Tzion. I'm not a leader. I'm a follower. So, if enough people leave their Ticket donations with ST, I'll leave my $500 also.


 Mar 04, 2008 at 10:36 PM Anonymous Says:

MBD a CLASS ACT as usual.


 Mar 04, 2008 at 10:01 PM ATR Says:

Super Star??? At best he is a former star, although I do agree with his comments and with his first hand reports and expierences with real rabonim like the Rivnitz'er the Lelov'er and the Amshinov'er rebbes z"l


 Mar 04, 2008 at 09:30 PM Anonymous Says:

These "Askanim" should definately get a DAY JOB....and the Rabanim should try to rectify the real problems in the frum world. If they need ideas, how about telling the single boys that arent the top learners they can attend night college (kosher of course such as Touro which is sep. men and women) and maybe we can resolve some of the Shiduchim issues


 Mar 04, 2008 at 08:54 PM Anonymous Says:

Thank you vosizneias for this interview.


 Mar 04, 2008 at 08:37 PM Anonymous Says:





 Mar 04, 2008 at 08:25 PM Anonymous Says:

Not to mention the Lubavitcher Rebbe who gave him Brochos and encouraged him, as can be seen on videos of him getting a brocha From the Lubavitcher Rebbe ZY"A on the eve's of HASC concerts.


 Mar 04, 2008 at 08:06 PM Anonymous Says:

MBD, can you PLEASE make another CD with Sheya. when you worked together it was your most proffessional work. thanks for speaking out.


 Mar 04, 2008 at 08:02 PM Anonymous Says:

Is said...
anon 6:54pm, you make no sense. if you only respect das torah when you agree with it, you are simply respecting youself. respecting das torah would be accepting it even if you don't understand!

March 4, 2008 7:50 PM

Read the post first and try to understand. Causing a big hefsed and then telling people to take the loss but consider it tzedaka is taking money from real tzedaka. People not claiming money for useless tickets will not pay the food or rent of a poor person collapsing from problems. It will not help the shiduch of a girl that is too poor to set up a home and therefor undesireable.
I don't see this solution as Das Torah.


 Mar 04, 2008 at 08:02 PM Anonymous Says:

sheya i wish you the greatest hatzlocha in all your future endeavors and hope to attend EVERY SINGLE concert that you will make. i have followed your career for the past 25-30 years and think that we all have YOU to thank for alot of the great music we have. BTW if i am correct i think that alot of the current jewish performers have you to thank as well for getting them started and always helping and advising them along the way. i hope you get back into the jewish music scene in a BIG way!!!!!!!!!!!!


 Mar 04, 2008 at 07:50 PM Is Says:

anon 6:54pm, you make no sense. if you only respect das torah when you agree with it, you are simply respecting youself. respecting das torah would be accepting it even if you don't understand!


 Mar 04, 2008 at 07:48 PM Anonymous Says:

MBD u r a good man baruch Hashem. the fact that u cleaned up your act years ago was a good thing and is probably why you are still in the industry. you have always respected the rabbanim and have asked them to guide you through out your fabulous career.we all hope you stay around for many many years, I'yh. one more thing, now that you mentioned it, i remember that in fact it WAS SHEYA M and you that started the separate seating shows and we the klal owe you BOTH a tremendous amount of hakoras hatov for doing that and enabling frum people to go to shows without any concerns. in my books YOU ARE STILL THE KING in the industry.


 Mar 04, 2008 at 07:28 PM Anonymous Says:

"It was just there opinion that the concert was not the greatest thing. They never claimed to be the sanhedrin, saying this is the din and anyone who doesnt follow is outside the rule of law."

Which planet were you on. The KK explicitly said it is assur and that it is forbidden to hire any entertainer who participates in this concert.


 Mar 04, 2008 at 06:54 PM Anonymous Says:

The Rabonim already said who will pay for the concert. They said people should consider the money spent on tickets as Maaser or tzedaka. That means less will be given to true tzedaka. The aniyim of this world will ultimately be paying by getting less tzedaka.
I will of course respect Daas Torah when and if I ever see it's presence.


 Mar 04, 2008 at 06:48 PM Anonymous Says:

The issue was with Lipa. People felt, possibly correctly that he was a letz and mocked all things sacred.
If it was lshem shamyim the askonim would have gone to lipa and shea and said look we have a kk with 33 signators. Have lipa change his shtick or replace him with mbd and we won't publish it.
I think shea would have agreed.
Instead it was sinas chinam and they did it without contacting anyone.
Its not the ban that people are upset with its the lack of derch eretz.
I think it was nice of mbd to come out and basically support sanity.
I think the good that came out of this is the end of this kk tactic.

This hits a way bigger nerve than the skifind ban. That's intellectual stuff which nobody cares about. Lipa is the street. Stuff people listen to everyday.
Most people personally know lipa or shea or know people that know them. They are good guys and mean no harm and they shouldn't haver been treated like evil criminals coming to defile Klal Yisroel.


 Mar 04, 2008 at 06:40 PM Anonymous Says:

yidden yidden listen hear

there isnt going to be a big event this year.

yidden yidden listen right

all we want to do argue fight.

your neighbor says that he is frummer than you,

if you go to WaMu your not a good jew.

oh unzer yidden machlokes is for you oyoyoyoyoy


 Mar 04, 2008 at 06:04 PM Tina Says:

The KK never said that even if you always listen to the ribnitser or whoever that you shouldnt go to the concert. I think they just gave there opinion to sort of damper the event but they never thought it will be canceled. Since when does anyone listen to these KK?

It was just there opinion that the concert was not the greatest thing. They never claimed to be the sanhedrin, saying this is the din and anyone who doesnt follow is outside the rule of law.

This blew up only because Reb Lipa actually backed out. As I said I think some of them feel there needs to be a ban and a concert at the same time.

That being said - it always easier to follow a rav who is no longer alive then a rav who os still alive.


 Mar 04, 2008 at 05:33 PM Anonymous Says:

anon 4:57 PM

These 33 "rabbonim" owe Shea more than an apology.

Pay up the money, NOW!

But it will never happen. There is no accountability. Has anyone heard anything constructive from any of these 33 "rabbonim" since the concert was banned? Nope.

Just R' Goldwasser putting more salt into the wound by recommending that concert goers forgo their refunds and instead consider it as tzedekah.

And while it is commendable that MBD speaks up, it's too little, too late. Similar to the Likud and Netanyahu leaving the Gov't because of Sharon's Gush Katif Disengagement after it had already become a fait accompli and a done deal. Looks good on the resume but means nothing.

MBD, you carry tremendous clout in this music business...why did you not have the courage to speak up immediately? Yiddelech Shrie!!!!
Is it just a song? Perhaps the Concert could have been saved!

Where will the $700,000 come from?

Are these 33 "rabbonim" going to remain silent and just walk away?

What a Chillul Hashem.


 Mar 04, 2008 at 05:18 PM Anonymous Says:

MBD well said, however........

The problem is not so much mixed seating (which is a problem when it is there), as the "performers". THe problem is, the street influence that is so obviously evident in Lipa's performances. This is and can be extremely dangerous, and I wholeheartedly agree with the Rabonim for KK'ing it. Shloime Gertner is a lovely kid (and so is Lipa), and I am sure the Rabonim wouldn't have assered it if it were just Shloimie, or if Lipa would not be acting the way he is. I have been to MBD concerts, and I foundthem to be a ruchniusdige experience. That is, because it was done right. The rabonim are not so naiive as to just go around assering left and right, unless there is a good reason, and there was one big reason here.


 Mar 04, 2008 at 05:16 PM Anonymous Says:

The story with the Ribnitzer rabbi is true, I can attest to that. the story was, that the rabbi told MBD "what's the big deal with such concerts, don't the people who attend go with their own wife's".

for those who knew the ribnitzer rabbi, he was mekrav a lot of bali teshuva, and people who where not religious at all, all the 33 rabbonim combined do not come close to the holiness of the ribnitzer rabbi.


 Mar 04, 2008 at 05:15 PM Anonymous Says:

this is Monday Morning quarterbacking
you should have spoken up BEFORE they called it off
everyone left Lipa out to dry
now that it is off
everyone comes to his rescue
HELLO it's to late


 Mar 04, 2008 at 05:10 PM Anonymous Says:

Interesting interview, since MBD himself backed out, at the last minute, on 2 concerts in Israel that he was scheduled to perform with the Miami Boys Choir after the same letter was signed by the Rabbanim in Israel this past summer. I wonder why that never came up in the interview.


 Mar 04, 2008 at 04:59 PM Anonymous Says:

MBD i could have not said it better. right on!!!!


 Mar 04, 2008 at 04:57 PM Anonymous Says:

R' Mordechai, I tip my hat to you. What you said in your bottom line is what most people believe. ( at least the people in my neighborhood). I have been to 4 seperate shules in Flatbush where I heard people discussing what has happened, and all spoke very negatively about the KK that the Rabbonim came out with! The rabbonim are starting to lose the respect of the oilem, and that should never happen! I believe they owe Lipa and Shia a huge apology! And Shia should make another concert backed by all!! Hatzlochoh.


 Mar 04, 2008 at 04:49 PM Anonymous Says:

Great soothing words from MBD


 Mar 04, 2008 at 04:42 PM Cheski Says:

whoever is responsible should pay sheya for the costs.

Sheyas a wonderful person and didnt deserve this.

I only wish the rabonnim would say " hey, I think we made a mistake".

I believe that they feel it was premature on their part.


 Mar 04, 2008 at 04:33 PM Anonymous Says:

Now that's a kiddush hashem!


 Mar 04, 2008 at 04:33 PM Anonymous Says:

mbd, thanks for your opinion.


 Mar 04, 2008 at 04:22 PM Anonymous Says:

well said- so, what happens now?


 Mar 04, 2008 at 04:21 PM Anonymous Says:

Mordchai we love you, finally you speaking out.


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