Nothing nice to say about charedim?

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89 Responses

  1. HILLEL says:

    GOOD OBSERVATION, BUT WHAT IS THE REASON?

    I suggest that, in their heart-of-hearts, people who have adopted a watered-down version of religion feel very uncomfortable in the presence of those who have remained steadfast and refused to compromise.

    The MO rationalizes his adoption of a “more contemporary” style of Judaism with the argument that it is impossible–in today’s modern world–to live the old values, as they were lived for the last 2000 years.

    The existence of a viable and significant community of Chareidim, puts the lie to this rationalization, and makes the MO extremely uncomfortable. Therefore, he pounces on any sign that the Chareidi lifestyle is defective, in order to legitimize his own.

    Ditto for MO Chritians, LeHavDil.

  2. JZ says:

    Well-said Toby.

    The most vilified country in the world is Israel, and everyone else if given a pass. The most vilified segment of Israeli society are those who are moser nefesh for Torah. Everyone else is given a pass.

    You can argue about double-standards until you’re blue in the face, and point out that the actions of one do not represent the actions of the majority, but that will make no dent in the deep-seated antipathy.

  3. JR says:

    >>> cannot imagine any other group within the Jewish world—not Mizrachi, or MO, or Reform or Conservative or secular Jews or Federation or any other group you can think of—who would be vilified on any website the way charedim are…

    Reality check: If you start a Charedi only website, ALL the above groups would be constantly villified, and in much worse fashion, than the Charedim are here. Oh, and it’s not villification if it’s true.
    Villification is saying that “the reform caused the holocaust.”

  4. Ori Pomerantz says:

    I apologize if I come across as bigoted against Israeli Charedim. I try not to be, but it’s hard not to have prejudices.

    I grew up Chiloni in Israel. My perceptions of Religious Zionists were shaped by those that I worked with, in the military and afterwards in my technical job. My perceptions of Israeli Arabs were shaped by those that I met in Tel Aviv university.

    Either Charedim are a lot more insular, or I just didn’t have the luck to work or study with any. Either way, it’s a lot easier to have prejudices when you don’t meet people.

  5. Bob Miller says:

    I can’t see how to avoid the imbalance Toby Katz described above.

    Few “real” Chareidim probably read blogs. You can’t expect them to read accusations against them and leap to their own defense in a medium they avoid on principle.

    This blog is a worthwhile attempt by some more worldly Chareidim to get a hearing among Jews who have heard only the other side of the story. Sometimes, the more wordly Chareidim find that some of their more insular brothers and sisters do things they don’t agree with. Articles result that incite the many opinionated anti-Chareidi readers to put in their own two cents.

    The more I see of blogs, even well-meaning ones like this, the more I question what good they can do on balance.

  6. Gershon Josephs says:

    When you say the good outweighs the bad, that depends on your perspective. Surely we can understand that from a secular POV, Chareidi society looks awful – they don’t join the army, they are a huge welfare burden, the chareidi political parties are just in it for the money, they constantly vilify all other groups, they try and enforce their way of life on everyone else, etc etc. So, when there’s some bad behavior in the Chareidi world, everyone makes a big deal out of it. The reason this doesn’t happen to MOs is because MOs don’t generally go around being so intolerant of everyone else.

  7. joel rich says:

    Dear Rn’ Katz,

    I don’t have a blog and do consider myself MO (just as within the charedi world such self-assessment only gives a very broad placement in a fairly wide spectrum). I can’t speak to the issue as to the treatment of any group on the web being worse than any other, but I can empathize with someone who fervently believes in their cause, is aware of some of its shortcomings, but feels those on the outside focus too much on these shortcomings and miss the overall rightness of the cause.

    I’m fairly certain you feel that way about charedism, I think you know I feel that way about MOism (note to self-need new name).

    IMHO much of the problem is the adverserial nature of debate rather than the machloket lshem shamayim approach

    Intellectual honesty requires that I point out what seems to me to be an asymmetry that causes a great deal of the problem, at least among serious types. MO philosophy (as I understand it and try to live it – which doesn’t make this definition correct) is that Torah Umadda (or whatever flavor you like) is lchatchilla (preferred approach) but other approaches are acceptable as long as within the mesora(tradion) spectrum. My understanding (and I’m happy to be corrected) is that mainline charedi philosophy (as articulated by the gdolim in eretz yisrael) is that Torah Umadda is not acceptable period. Such an asymmetry can make for hard feelings that are hard to overcome (e.g. saying it’s not personal it’s just your philosophy is beyond the pale is not likely to be overly stress reducing)

    Insiders know the movements’ problems all to well, but if one says that you’re beyond the pale, it’s in essence saying you have no redeeming features (even if your mother likes you :-))

    KT

  8. rejewvenator says:

    Im lo ani li, mi li? Chareidim don’t generally surf the web, making it difficult for them to defend themselves on a blog. In fairness too, there’s no other Jewish group that is regularly engaging in physical violence and vandalism directed against other Jews (and when the army in Israel did it, there were plenty of voices raised in horrified opposition).

  9. Dag says:

    How many Charedeim are on blogs TO respond. Might just be a skewed sample. Try picking up the Yated and see THEIR view of Reform or MO.

  10. G says:

    Those who are more ready to admit to their own flaws will more quickly attract defenders. By the same token, those who defend/justify their every act no matter what will always be the subject of increased criticism.

    You want to be given the benefit of the doubt? Start by doing the same with others and by admitting to some of your own.

  11. Moishe Potemkin says:

    I suspect that my comments will only serve to reinforce your perception, but so be it.

    In part, you’re right, because what Western types appear to hate most are those that try to control or limit other people’s behaviour. That’s not necessarily a halachic line, of course, but it is a pretty widespread attitude.

    On the other hand, I think that your dismay at the observed reaction also partly stems from the fact that you see criticism of other Jewish groups (away from which most contributors to this blog certainly do not shy) as legitimate, while criticism of charedim is, in your words, simply “bigotry” that ignores how “overwhelmingly the good outweighs the bad within the charedi community.” I have yet to see a posting on this blog that recognizes anything positive from either the Modern Orthodox or Reform worlds, despite the serious underlying theological disagreements.

  12. Miriam Shear says:

    Mrs. Katz, it should be obvious why the Chareidim are a lightening rod for such passionate discourse – they bring it onto themselves. When a person – or in this case, a group – “wears it on their sleeve” that they are holy; G-d fearing; and proclaim to live by the Torah – then go and conduct themselves in ways that are ANTITHETICAL to such a lofty value system they purport, any half way intelligent person is going to see the dichotomy. Nothing rankles the human psyche with more disgust and vile disdain than being treated in an arrogant and condescending way by those who claim to “walk with G-d” but do not follow His ways. “The path of Torah is pleasant” – this is what people expect from frum people – not violence; not threats; not blatant disrespect; and not invalidation of other viewpoints that may not be EXACTLY like their own. Mrs. Katz, you are right – we don’t see such vehement dialogue in other forums as you mention, i.e, reform, conservative, MO. The reason is that such groups do not make a point of publicly exalting themselves in the name of G-d. This is the sum total of the difference.

    Like you, I also consider myself a person as “Chareidi-lite”. (I like that term- thank you!) But I find myself constantly discredited and invalidated by some of the “policies”, chumras and viewpoints espoused in our community. And there is this tendency of intolerance: If you’re not exactly like me, then you’re just not “frum” enough – as I said in the previous post, the word “Modern” is the new dirty paintbrush.

    Quite frankly, I find many – certainly not all – in the Chareidi community sharing more and more in common with their Conservative movement brethren. Why? Because the dynamic is the same – a perversion and mutilation and distortion of Jewish law. While the Chareidim may twist it in a different direction, it is still a mutilation nevertheless that many times falls outside the purview of Halacha and Torah hashkafa and machshava.

    Lightening does not strike without a receptor.

  13. Steve Brizel says:

    WADR, I think that MO’s future and issues has been discussed and debated in rather strong terms almost to the point of as nauseum in the printed media and blogs such as Hirhurim, R Harry Maryles and others.

  14. YoelB says:

    Funny, I reread the comments and didn’t see 10:1 “against haredim.” Toby Katz dismisses the assault on Miriam Shear as the actions of a “mentally ill man” and makes no response when Ms. Shear describes what actually happened to her. A description of how, 60 years ago, charedim prepared stones before Shabbat. (That way, those throwing them on Shabbat would only be mechallel Hashem, and not chas v’shalom mechallel Shabbat.) That statement, like Miriam Shear’s “many rebbes in the chareidi yeshivas ENCOURAGED and ALLOWED their talmidim to get up from their learning to go riot in the streets” wasn’t disputed, as Garnel Ironheart points out in comment 36 to “Charedi Hooligans” while also pointing out that the stereotypes of violent charedim are wrong.
    I didn’t see piling on. I saw frustration with the repeated minimization and rationalization of vandalism and deadly violence.
    Ms. Katz says that the decent people in the haredi community are maybe even afraid of the stone throwers. OK, now maybe I’ll pile on: I remember the story that when a person would buy a sefer in person instead of via mail order, the Chafetz Chaim used to reimburse the the corrupt, antisemitic Czar’s postal service for the cost of mailing the sefer since in his own business plan, the mailing costs were part of the price. And today, decent haredim keep electing foul mouthed crooks to the Knesset to defraud the Israeli taxpayer.
    (Oh, everybody does it so we have to? I’d be very interested to hear what the Chafetz Chaim would have to say about THAT.)
    Yes, there are many decent, even eidel haredim. So what’s going on? Are we seeing a Stockholm syndrome here? If so, who will rescue the haredi hostages? And from whom will they be rescued?

  15. Chaim G. says:

    WADR Mrs. Katz what got my dander up in the last thread was not the “crime of hooliganism” per se but what was IMO your counterintuitive explanation of the phenomenon.

    As far as the Charedim (they of Black second-skins) being the WASPs or DWEMs (they of alabaster first skins) of the blogosphere you make a fair point. I’d like to explain why I believe that this is so but first a presentation of “credentials”.

    I have hardly ever commented on this blog. I am a much vilified “lurker” and “troll” over at DovBear for being one of the few pro-Charedi voices to speak there with regularity. I would like to think that as a member of the neo-Charedi camp myself I have a healthy dose of love-induced blindness for the mumin=flaws of the ones I love. But intimacy and closeness has been known to produce , by turns, an exaggerated perception of flaws as well as an unconsciousness of them.

    Do not expect someone from the neo Charedi-camp to bash Mizrachi, conservative, reform and reconsctructionist et al. Been there done that. That’s A) beating a dead horse and B) a vestige from an era when Torah-true Jewry was waging an existential battle and was not robust and vigorous as it is today. Trying to constructively criticize Reform Judaism which has laid waste to our people is like trying to teach Emily Post etiquette to rapists and murderers at San Quentin.

    Conversely the knee-jerk reaction of many Charedim to resist any criticism and to equate rightness of hashkafa with personal righteousness rankles. Why have blogs altogether if they are to be nothing more than cyber versions of the auto-pilot defensiveness, apologetics and fluff pieces of the Yated and the Observer? One can argue that it is not for laymen to give mussar, that doing so usurps the societal position of mashgichim, mashpi’im and Rabbonim and that, without thorough b’kius in the laws of lashon Harah is not a task for laymen. But once we bloggers have made the leap of self-importance to believe that “we are entitled to an opinion” then expect the kind of thread that your post provoked yesterday.

    What is so personally disappointing about Orthodox/ Charedi Jewry today is not that we are overly criticized but that we seem to have lost the human capacity for honest self-assessment and self-criticism. We confuse admission of personal or even societal shortcoming with a concession that our cause is not noble, that are values are invalids and/or that our hashqafa is untrue. We sometimes seem to forget that it is far more important that we be on G-d’s side than that He be on ours.

    When books that would show the honest human development. of gedolei Yisroel are banned while other biographies /hagiographies of gedolim showing them to have all been “kedoshim mirechem.”= holy in utero ARE widely disseminated it fosters and ambience that to confess the slightest imperfection is to abandon all hopes of attaining spiritual greatness.

    IMO the opposite is true, A true chared l’dvar HaShem (root of the term Charedi) spends a lifetime growing i.e. a lifetime fretting over old sins, suspicious of the quality of his/her mitzvos and ever vigilant for the ulterior motives that might infect their current and future behavior. It is a far remove from azeitgeist that seems to imply that “Charedi means never having to say you’re sorry” with all the entitlement, arrogance and invulnerability to constructive criticism that goes with it.

    The stone throwers are a small lunatic fringe. They are not representative of the vast majority of fina, fruma, ehrlicher yidden who are leading lives of sweetness, chesed, and self-sacrifice. I think that the beautiful and balanced comment of R’ Heshy Bulman quoting R’ Eliyahu Kitov made that abundantly clear. But they are mechalelei shem shomayim b’farhesyia and have set the cause of kiruv rechokim back a century and, as such, deserve universal condemnation. Moreover as much as hip-hop gangsters are the miscreants of the black urban ghettoes they are OUR mechalelei shem shomayim b’farhesyia
    and did not materialize ex-nihilo from a vacuum. The hooligans are NOT a phenomenon found in other stripes of world Jewry. They have their problems to deal with (first and foremost being a wrongheaded, wrong-hearted, non- and anti-Torah worldview) and we have ours. Instead of looking for outside causes to pass the buck to they ought to be, not only roundly and universally condemned, but the internal irritation sent to K’lal Yisroel’s oyster to envelop a pearl of T’shuva around.

    In his day Yirmiyahu, the prophet of doom , had to wage rhetorical and ideological battle with false prophets who essentially said “everything is going to be all right because everything IS all right.” In our day we can hasten the geulah by raising the level of Avodas HaShem among all of K’lal yisrael. But charity begins at home.

  16. Michoel says:

    Mrs. Katz,
    The blogosphere is populated by a lot of cynical people who have nothing better to do with their time. Charedim are, thankfully, very under-represented. Don’t be overly disheartened. The best are often the most vilified. That is the way Hashem made the world.

  17. Charles B. Hall, PhD says:

    I’ve said it elsewhere and I’ll say it again:

    I have personally experienced none of the offensive behavior that I see attributed to charedim in the press and internet. I am modern Orthodox but have had two very important teachers in my spiritual journey who were charedi (one Chasidic, one Yeshivish). The Chasidic rebbe told me that I should follow Yeshiva University minhagim rather than his own. I have hosted charedim and they have hosted me. When I have visited charedi communities I have always been counted for a minyan and have been treated with the utmost respect. And they accept that my rabbis’ halachic rulings are legitimate even though their own rabbis may disagree with them. (It actually can create some great torah conversations when we discuss the different approaches!)

    The offensive acts reported in the media are a major embarassment to me as a religious Jew. We should expect to be held to a higher standard than the rest of the world and that standard is not being met there. But I absolutely do not attribute those offenses to charedim in general.

    I wonder how much of the problem is caused by the fact that MO Jews just don’t interact much with charedim and vice versa. My understanding is that in Israel there is even less contact because the divide between DL and charedi is so distinct there. A few years ago I heard Prof. David Luchins give a seminar on 17 Tammuz, after which he was asked what we can do to improve relations between religious and non-religious Jews. Prof. Luchins suggested that we could start by improving relations among religious Jews.

    And another thing we might consider abandoning is the too common idea that I first heard from Prof. Lawrence Schiffman: That everyone in my right is nuts, and everyone on my left is treif! There are many paths to Torah and we should respect them all. We can disagree with each other with respect. Is there any better a time to remember this than erev Shabat Mevarchim Av?

    Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts here. May all be for the sake of heaven.

  18. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “Any attempt at candor about problems within the charedi community seems to open a can of worms”

    It depends on the participants. If you have mature people who make an effort to be fair and hear another point of view, you can have a conversation which will generate more light than heat. In the past year, I initiated two conversations on my blog about why Orthodox groups criticize each other, and the level of dialogue required little moderation and editing on my part. In some situations in the real world, though, it might be better not to bring up differences that may not be able to be bridged; talking and dialogue can, at times, actually make things worse.

    “The comments to my post about “Charedi hooligans” have been very disheartening and depressing to me, running ten to one against charedim”

    It may be because charedim are underrepresented on blogs; blogs officially do not exist in the charedi media. Of course there is a difference between what’s official and what’s reality in life; in the charedi world in particular, I think the official vs. reality gap definitely exists on different issues(as someone mentioned on my blog, officially, college may be discouraged or criticized, yet professional are honored at institutional dinners).

  19. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “I’d like to see a Modern Orthodox blog on which some MO writer would admit there are problems in the MO community… and dozens of people would pile on to criticize him for not condemning his own community even more strongly, and to point out that his community is much worse than he admits, and in fact, has hardly any redeeming features.”

    Those who say or imply there are no redeeming qualities are wrong, and I think are an unreasonable minority. Even l’shitasem(according to their opinion), they should remember the parable in the Chovos Halevaos about the white teeth of the lion’s carcass. As far as not condemning one’s own strongly enough, once you open up a discussion on such issues with candor(which doesn’t take place in the charedi media), there will be people who will trace a problem back to an ideology, and even question how leadership is handling issues; there is, of course, a way that such conversations need to take place. Even though reasonable people realize that extreme Meah Shearim/Ramat Beit Shemesh zealotry is not directly connected to any identifiable charedi group or ideology, even that of Satmar or the Edah Hacharedis, people may be reacting to the general fact that the charedi world does not publicly have open discussions on the strengths and weaknesses of it’s ideology, such as that which took place in R. Shimon Schwab’s “These and Those”.

    As far as comparisons with Modern Orthodoxy, while a blog such as this one is a step forward for the charedi world(and I detect promising signs elsewhere as well), I would think that Modern Orthodoxy has a better track record for openness on a public level towards acknowledging weakness in it’s ideology, and dealing with complaints of handling of public policy issues. Acknowledging a weakness in an ideology or policy does not mean that the net, bottom-line, result is not a strength, but doing so risks inviting criticism. This is not to say that some MO spokespeople have not made intemperate public and private comments about charedim or their ideology; there are reasonable people, as well as indiscretions on both sides. I think that Chardeim have to learn to be more open towards candidly discussing weaknesses in their ideology, certainly on less fundamental levels, and MO need to examine why there is the need to almost be obsessed with criticizing charedim and their philosophy, and whether such criticisms need to be tempered by a focus on the latter’s strong points.

  20. Baruch Horowitz says:

    There could be a number of reasons for some bloggers/MO’s obsession with Charedim, for example: (1) The realization that charedi world is vibrant and productive and will have a strong impact on the future of Jewry; (2) a perceived lack of respect for MO leaders and philosophy based on the way certain issues were handled in the past ; (3) a concern that “Sliding to the Right” will affect MO; if one gives an inch, there might eventually be tzniyus patrols in Teaneck (!) ; (3) the feeling that Charedim, being generally insulated from intellectual challenges encountered by Modern Orthodoxy, oversimplify issues and history(e.g., some of R. JJ Schacter’s critiques on censorship and hagiography ), and in turn, do not appreciate the intellectual struggle that MO have to remain frum, on the most basic level, in an non-insulated intellectual atmosphere(thus, negative reactions to the sensationalizing of the latest and most effective segulah, which take place in parts of the charedi world ).

  21. Noam says:

    The Chareidim that I interact with routinely in my town are uniformly tremendous people. They are committed to learning, gemillut chassadim, are amazingly selfless and give up quite a bit in order to lead the life they lead. They are truly b’nai Torah, and one example of how to lead a life dedicated to Torah and mitzvot. I can’t find anything bad I could say about them, even if I wanted to.

    I have also never heard them say or defend any of the following things: calling a Rosh yeshiva an apikoris, saying a major rav was lax in halacha, accusing a rav of misleading the public, calling for Reform rabbis to be executed by the Sanhedrin when it is reconstituted, throwing rocks or those who throw rocks, putting attacks against orthodox groups in articles where that is not the topic of discussion, or many of the snide, condescending or humorously insulting types of statements that find their way onto this blog.

    The sad reality is that the perception of Chareidim(and from my point of view this blog does nothing but support this perception) is that they believe that their view of Yiddishkiet is superior to any other, and to the EXCLUSION of any other. The concept of elu v’elu doesn’t seem to exist. Therefore, when faced with a group that is claiming moral and halachic superiority, and denigrating or delegitimizing any others, it is quite natural to find try to find faults, and emphasize those faults. This is why scandals among religious leaders are more newsworthy than other scandals. When one puts oneself up on a pedestal, there is further to fall.

    Of course there is much to admire in Chareidi society. However, when Chareidi mouthpieces are publicly insulting leaders of Modern Orthodoxy, there is not much inclination to sing the praises of what Chareidi society has to offer.

    Obviously there are going to be halachic differences of opinion. However, they can be couched in polite terms, or in confrontational terms. One can show respect for those one disagrees with, or disrespect.

    Of course, this is all only my opinion, and I am sure that for each example that I gave, there is a very good reason why it was written, and why it isn’t really an insult, or was halachically valid, and on and on. However, the sum total of what is said(or written), the word choice, tone and context all have meaning, and that is the meaning that I see.

  22. S. says:

    You’re right. The trouble is–and I am aware that I will be condemned, perhaps rightfully so, for just blaming the Chareidim further–official Chareidi rhetoric, whether in the Jewish Observer or the Yated or the reported statements of some leaders is and has long been way over the top about all other kinds of Jews.

    I’m not sure who “started it,” or if it matters, but just the other day I saw on a blog someone approvingly cite a comment by the Brisker Rov that Zionists are choshed for shfichas damim. This is acceptable how? This is the tiniest tip of the iceberg. And the thing is, according to the Chareidi viewpoint one may not voice any disapproval of such a comment! What about Eytan Kobre’s constant posts here about how intellectually dishonest and wrong and absurd the Conservatives are? Or R. Shafran’s choice to often polemicize against Conservative Judaism, as opposed to refusing to partly define Orthodoxy by what it’s not?

    Unfortunately as well all realize, the arrows fly in both directions.

    That said, you’re still right. But so am I.

  23. Dr. E says:

    Mrs. Katz

    Isn’t that how Chillul Hashem is typically manifested? By definition, it is a scenario in which observers see the actions of a single or small group of individuals and generalize to others associated with the person or group, and ultimately the Torah itself. (and I might add that that the “observer” need not be the Gentile or secular communities because Chillul Hashem can be where there is an Orthodox observer as well). So, when you are implying that the “hooligans” are giving Chareidim a bad name, it is not only a psychologically reality but a theological one as well.

    It’s very easy for members who identify with a certain community to marginalize individuals for behaviors that are either seemingly inconsistent or otherwise reflect poorly on the group. That somehow absolves them of responsibility. But, aren’t we responsible for one another, with those who identify similarly having a greater advantage to effect change? Take for example the reaction to the Neturei Karta nut-job in Austria. Instead of merely marginalzing the person with soundbites, they backed it up with action. Now, his kids have no school, his wife no friends. This type of response puts others who would entertain making a Chillul Hashem on notice and may deter copycats.

    In some previous comments on the issue, some reactions (perhaps in passing) have validity and are worth repeating.

    (1) Many people who engage in this type of “hooligan” behavior obviously have time on their hands. Some of them are kids who should be in some structured (camp) program for the summer. As for the adults, well we don’t have to go there again. But let’s just say that they are obviously in a very accommodating employment situation.

    (2) As for the need to engage in physical activity and male physiology, I think that is part of the issue. I would suggest to open some gyms, Glatt-Kosher Mehadrin ones with Gedolim pictures and haskamos all over the walls if that’s whats necessary to have them join. Instead of occasionally suggesting that it’s not a good idea to have published pictures of men and boys setting fires to cars, let the leadership provide alternative resources and outlets.

    (3) I think at some point, the hooligans got the message that extreme behavior is necessary l’shem Shamayim or to make a Kiddush Hashem. Where did they get that from, if not at home, in one’s community, or in one’s educational experience?

    Much of this comes down to the lack of role models. Role models come in the form of mentors, parents, or other members of the community with which one identifies. Role models should of course be positive, but also realistic. In any community, Chareidi or not, it’s unrealistic to have a community where everyone is ostensibly being raised for the exact same result. Because no one size fits all. If the goal is to be mekadesh Shem Shamayim, then there are various individual paths that one can take. For some it may be through chessed. For some it may be through (gasp!) a viable vocation. The lack of outlets to express one’s individuality in the service of Hashem is no doubt a contributor to frustration and behaving in maladaptive ways that are just the opposite.

    In addition, the role models, whether the Chareidi leadership wants that responsibility or not, need to demonstrate how to disagree with others. Whether the machloket is in Halacha, Hashkafa, or some other social issue, why do the attacks have to get physical and nasty? The reason why the Yetzer Hara for machloket is so strong is because everyone is convinced that their dispute (and point of view) is l’shem Shemayim. If that were indeed the case, then why is there such a prevalence ofor machloket to perpetrate Chillul Hashem?

    So, if anyone is intellectually honest, it’s not an issue of one’s neighborhood tzniyus standards being violated. Because, if it’s not that, the same individuals will find some other reason to get them going—be it trying to get more government funding, to express displeasure at a parade, or to protest a “heretical” book. I would suggest that instead of whining that these individuals are unrepresentative and are giving Chareidim a bad name, that some of the above root causes are explored and considered.

    The MO certainly have their share of issues as well. But, generally, this is not one of them.

  24. Garnel Ironheart says:

    As with any community, there are both good and bad features to the Chareidi community. It’s easy to list the negative and the last posting did that quite well. Let me shock a few people who think they know me and list a few positive ones:
    1) They truly make Judaism and Jewish behaviour the most important part of their life. From the way they dress to the way they speak to the way they act, the common question is: Is this what Hashem wants me to do?
    2) They act with tremendous chesed. Rav Avi Shafran has written about how one can find dozens of gemachs in any chareidi community to cover needs for poor families, something no other Jewish community can do as well.
    3) They are more concerned with their children’s spiritual and educational growth than almost anyone else. Why otherwise the obsession with controlling the education and influence of the outside world? They want to make sure nothing takes their children off the path they’ve chosen for them.

    having said all that, what explains the virulence with which chareidim are attacked in forums like this?

    I might suggest some answers:
    1) People know that, at least in some areas, the Chareidi community represents a level of excellent in Torah learning and living. If you are non-Orthodox they are the most visible threat to your claim that what you ar practising is really Judaism. If you’re Modern Orthodox, they remind you that you could always be “more frum”. It doesn’t matter if the person in question has ever had an encounter with a Chareidi that involved the Chareidi being patronizing like that. People perceive this simply from the community’s existence and resent it. This resentment breeds bitterness and, in some cases, irrational hate.
    2) Due to their insular nature, Chareidi communities often lose touch with other Jewish groups around them and wind up interacting in ways that seem fine to them but not so much to the other groups. An example of this might be Yom Hashoah in Israel. This day is generally not observed by the Chareidi world. Fine. I happen to agree with that position. What bothers people are those Chareidim who don’t come to a complete stop on the street when the siren goes off at 11 am but continue walking to show “Aha! I don’t observe this holiday you’ve invented”. Rightly or wrongly, the non-religious world perceives this as a rude provocation. And they respond in kind.

    During the times I’ve spent in Israel, I’ve learned one thing. Spend time with the Chilonim and they’ll list you all the things that are wrong with the Chareidim. Spend time with the Chareidim and they’ll do the same for the Chilonim. The sad part is: both sides are correct, but respond to the other side with defensiveness and rejection of the criticism. If both communities were to look at the list of criticisms and say “Hey, we’ll work on this in the name of friendship” both would learn to respect the other.

  25. cvmay says:

    In appreciation for your words of mussar, rereading the comments to the prior post, I did not find portrayed a majority of negative expressions towards the Torah frum (Charedei) community, except regarding the sole issue of acting out with “rock throwing”. Since in the eyes of the masses, Torah Observing Jews are a mirror reflection of hashem’s torah, the judgement and expectation of behavior is put under a microscope or on a pedestal for observation. Therefore any aberration, small or large, by a minute sector or many is magnified and grossly depicted. This is our role, as a light to the nations, who else if not ourselves should be the prosecutor?
    BTW I have read MO blogs where there is honest dialogue regarding deficiencies and weakness in that sector.

  26. Lumpy Rutherford says:

    In American politics, the one group you can safely attack without being accused of bigotry are white Christians.

    Christian oppression is overrated

    Here in our Jewish world, the people it’s OK to hate are charedim.

    It’s only my opinion, but I think that stems from chareidishe refusal to accept other frum people as their ideological equals. For example, MO and Centrist Orthodox Jews and their rabbis recognize and revere Chareidi Gedolim. However, one never sees this respect going the other way. In today’s climate, I don’t think one will ever see a “Gadol” without a beard or wearing a knitted kippah.

  27. Elliot B. Pasik, Esq. says:

    I can empathize with Mrs. Katz’s feelings about these issues. The yeshiva and Chassidic worlds have achieved greatly in the post-Holocaust decades. These accomplishments, however, have lately been clouded by events that are so strange and hurtful, people like myself either feel the need to say something, or better, do something. Its painful, but I don’t see much choice.

    Hello, Mrs. Katz, I was a talmid of your father’s at Ohr Somayach in the 70s. He was an excellent rebbe, to say the least, and I recall spending a pleasant hour or so in your parent’s home one Purim afternoon. Good Shabbos.

  28. Elliot B. Pasik, Esq. says:

    One commentator writes, “There are many paths to Torah and we should respect them all.”

    This sentence sounds too close to moral relativism, and I don’t accept it. “Alu v’alu…” has its limitations. We accept Hillel and Shammai as the words of Torah. Do we accept the type of religious extremism and intolerance that gives us rocks, spitting, vandalism, and all the other bad news stories to which we’ve grown accustomed? No, never. Its not a question of left and right, its a question of right and wrong.

  29. Garnel Ironheart says:

    Perhaps the main problem is the insularity that has been mentioned so often in the discussion.

    I recall reading a flyer from YU 20 years ago in which two of the rabbinical students, needing the answer to a difficult question, went to Williamsburg because “the” expert on the subject was a Satmar chasid there.

    They described how they found him and explained their question. According to their story, he sat down, opened the gemara and started to explain to them: “This is the gemara, this on the side is Rashi, he’s a commentator on the gemara…”

    But the story has a good ending. The boys, seeing which way things were going, began reading the gemara and Rashi and after a few minutes the Satmar realized that they had really learned their subject and that he could proceed to discuss the question with them on the appropriate level.

    In the end, they felt both sides had gained from the interaction.

    What’s needed nowadays is less group identification and more integration. The Modern Orthodox world could only benefit from closer learning and interactions with the Chareidi world (I say this as a person whose 2 principle rebbes are Chareidim) and the Chareidi world could benefit from being exposed to different points of view that woudl enhance their own understanding of Torah. More joint efforts like the one I described would probably bring down some of the barriers.

  30. Toby Katz says:

    To Elliot Pasik: Thank you for writing. Yesterday was my father’s yahrzeit, 26 Tammuz, and needless to say he has been much in my thoughts.

    To others, I hope to answer some of these points after Shabbos b’n.

  31. Dag says:

    Did you ever consider that many in the Centrist Orthodox world believe that they offer the best future for Judaism? Is it possible this hatred you decry is their attempt to defeat that which they view as a disingenuous representation of the past and a failed methodology for the future? I don’t know many Centrist Orthodox Jews who would claim that Ultra Orthodoxy is a false manifestation of Jewish tradition. They may claim that the Ultra Orthodox lose the forest for the trees, or that they have created an untenable system, but I haven’t met many that would say Ultra Orthodoxy is not legitimate. Can you make the same claim about the Ultra Orthodox community and Centrist Orthodoxy?

    Hillel, did you ever think that there are people who believe that Centrist Orthodoxy is not Ultra Orthodoxy light, or some attempt to escape Ultra Orthodox restrictions, but rather the more accurate representation of Orthodox Jewish Traditions and the correct model as to how Orthodox Jews SHOULD conduct themselves?

  32. shaulking says:

    To assume that there is a homogeneous Chareidi world is a MISNOMER. Any bashing or vilifying is directed to a particular person or group at a specific time. The “particular person” or “group” may not even own membership in the category called the CHAREIDI OLAM”.
    Mrs. Katz, a definition of Chareidi (since its a comparably new word)is needed, to proceed intelligently with this discussion.

  33. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “Such an asymmetry can make for hard feelings that are hard to overcome (e.g. saying it’s not personal it’s just your philosophy is beyond the pale is not likely to be overly stress reducing)”

    Agreed. One can try to work around the feelings engendered by the asymmetry, but one can never eleminate it. Asymmetry might be inherent in being involved with modernity, as integration might not work well to produce the results of the charedi world on the mass level; this would exist even between a theoretical Hirschian community and a “Toarh-Only” community, as the latter’s philosophy is simpler for the multitudes. This is an issue which goes back to the days of Rishonim.

    As I think you’ve written elsewhere, notwithstanding the need for sensitivity, people may prefer a tactful, “we reject your philosophy”, rather than artificially papering over the difference in the name of sensitivity. In many situations(not on blogs), the only solution when people come together, would be not to talk about that which divides, as some of the issues of tension(intemperate remarks) are not every day events(although they are remembered long afterwards). An exception in real life would be a theoretical group discussion moderated by someone who is able to keep discussion of differences from engendering heat.

  34. Tal Benschar says:

    As I grow older, I realize the wisdom of King Solomon that there is nothing new under the sun.

    Toby, see Isaiah 66:5. Illustrates your point perfectly. The end of the possuk is the nechamah.

    As to some of the posters here who cannot seem to help themselves in repeatedly bashing an entire group of God fearing Jews, might I suggest Mishlei 26:11. Especially the Malbim’s peirush there.

    Gut Shabbos.

  35. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “Like you, I also consider myself a person as “Chareidi-lite”. (I like that term- thank you!) ”

    On a “lighter” note, “lite” is a term that apparently has been invented on the Areivim e-mail group. I was told by the inventor of the term, that charedi/mo “lite” means someone from either group who doesn’t take their Yiddishkeit seriously but identifies with a group, but that I am welcome to use it to mean whatever I wish it to mean, such as in the sense that it was used by Mrs. Katz.

  36. Menachem Lipkin says:

    I think that almost everything that Toby said is either factually or logically flawed. Most of the commenters seem to have pointed out these flaws.

    I would just add one more point which I think wasn’t covered. Toby herself wrote an article self-critical of Chareidi behavior. In being disappointed at the reaction was she implying that her position was just some straw man set up to get people to run to support this behavior or Chareidim in general?

    I’ll assume not and that she genuinely wanted to deal with the issue. So why get all bent out of shape when people address the problem and don’t run to patronizingly gush about all the good in the Chareidi world? It’s like going to a lecture to hear about say, abuse in the frum community. The last think everyone needs is for some yutz to stand up and blabber about how most frum people aren’t abusers.

    In Talmudic terms the default position is that Torah Jews are good, caring well behaved people. We don’t need to talk about that, it’s a given. The chidush here is that some of them are not acting that way and the goal is to analyze why and/or what can be done about it.

  37. Larry Lennhoff says:

    I’d like to see a Modern Orthodox blog on which some MO writer would admit there are problems in the MO community(or a Reform site on which a writer admitted there are some things wrong with the Reform movement), and dozens of people would pile on to criticize him for not condemning his own community even more strongly, and to point out that his community is much worse than he admits, and in fact, has hardly any redeeming features.

    Perhaps this is because you don’t join such lists? The Tor-Ch list from JTS features the sort of over-enthusiastic self-destructive piling on you describ above. It is especially true regarding the failure of the C movement to nurture an observant laity, observant even by halacha as understood by the C movement. I don’t regard this a feature of the list, but rather a bug.

  38. ben-aharon says:

    Reading all of the comments about the Chareidi community reminds me of the story about the 3 blind men & the elephant. Everyone seems to be “touching” a different segment of that group. And perhaps it’s because it is not in fact monolithic. The Israeli Chareidim are not like non-Israeli chareidim; nor are the non-NY/NJ Chareidim quite like their NY/NJ counterparts. Some differentiations might help the discourse.
    To be fair at the outset, we should acknowledge the high dgree of stereotyping being done within these comments. There is virtually no accurate data to base any claims of family dysfunction or even hooliganism as a genuine problem in this group. Testimonials are not data. We can all share anecdotes – both good & bad – to support our biases. I had a flaming ruubish bin rolled into my car while my wife & I were driving in Yerushalayim & yet when I got out of my car to scream at the children who had done it (& not one of them was over 12), they all sheepishly turned away quite embarassed. What does that say? I have no idea; it’s just something that happened.
    The hallmark of Israeli Chareidim is Preshut – Separateness. It’s disingenuous to expect people who want to be apart to be ambassadors of Kiruv. Going into those areas of Yerushalayim or B’nei-Brak that are fundamentally Chareidi is to enter their world, culturally as well as physically. Do people here really believe they wish to take over our lives & have us live like them? The notion that they are essentially leeching off the rest of the Jewish community is beyond offensive. It is so narrow a perception of the complex interactions we all have with one another that it can only be willful ignorance. Forget for a moment the fact that the major chesed organizations in Israel are open to everyone though run by Chareidim. Whomever has spent a Shabbos in Yerushalayim & experienced the serenity & beauty of the Shabbos Malka throughout the Chareidi neighborhoods owes a huge spiritual debt of gratitude to those who make such an experience a reality.
    The American Chareidim are far more worldly though not necessarily more tolerant. Personally, I think that’s all about in-town vs. out-of-town, but that’s another matter. In America, extremism is in vogue everywhere – certainly in the frum world. Is that Chareidi or just right wing? MO & Conservative/Reform “leaders” can be as judgemental and harsh toward other groups as any “frummie”. It is not simply that “everything to the right of me is fanaticism & everything to the left of me is treif.” It seems we are more willing these days to be judgemental & rejecting.
    Has the Chareidi community become our Rorschach Inkblot Test for ascertaining our insecurities and fears about the future of the Jewish People? We see what we want to see and ignore the rest. It would be a blessing if while looking at the Chareidim we took a moment to see ourselves as well.

  39. szn says:

    1—- MO journals were engaged in self criticism and/or issue analysis [eg youth at risk, off-the-derech, Lannerism], long before any haredi organization would agree to publically admit that any problems exist.

    2—- is this not part of the problem–that haredi halachic norm assurs admitting many issues are out there until after the Street forces the issue? if there were not ‘moshav leitzim’ blogs publicizing some of the issues [ much of their work is not leshem shamayim], would there be ANY admission that eg there has been/is sexual abuse by People with Power ? i mean rabbis have been arrested but there is only furor about motzi shem ra etc

    3– take the Slifkin affair. its total expose could only happen in an internet world, where Cherem over there doesnt lead neccesarily to silence over here.

    4– see rabbi wein’s article in Mishpacha on history. if he gets to write the Truth, he too will be in trouble…

    while doubtless many of the critics have no good intentions, many others
    would love to see a positive changes in the haredi world. but, honestly, that may be impossible or even undesirable….

  40. Judah says:

    cannot imagine any other group within the Jewish world—not Mizrachi, or MO, or Reform or Conservative or secular Jews or Federation or any other group you can think of—who would be vilified on any website the way charedim are…

    You’re wrong, Chabad-Lubavitch gets the first prize there, by far.

  41. Ben Bayit says:

    My blog regularly criticizes everyone. I grew up in the charedi world and have been educated in MO as well as National Religious institutions. In comments across the JBlogsphere I reguraly point out hypocrisy in the MO world and explain when there are areas I believe that the MO and NR world can – and should – learn from the charedi world.

    However, in many respects the Charedi world is insular and basically irrelevant to most Jews. The learning only culture has created a society whose Torah is irrelevant outside of Bnei Brak and Lakewood – and doing it on the public dole only creates more antagonism towards Torah.

  42. One Christian's perspective says:

    Don’t you think all oppression stems from someone stepping into a role that HaShem designated for Himself – judging ?

  43. David says:

    This thread has pretty much been exhausted, but nevertheless, in case anyone’s interested:

    1) The point that so few charedim use the internet is so blatantly obvious that it boggles the mind that Mrs. Katz would raise the question of why there arent charedim bashing MO’s on their blogs. A better question would be this: Go to Lakewood and ask them how they feel about Jews in Teaneck, and then go to Teaneck and ask them how they feel about Jews in Lakewood. Which response would be more condemning and vitriolic? If you ask me, they’d probably be about the same. Ditto if you ask in Bnei Brak how they feel about the Jews, say, in Efrat, and vice-versa. Charedim have plenty of nasty things to say about MO, but because they’re more insular they have fewer forums to do so.

    2) Along the same lines – Most MO rabbis indeed “shrai chai ve’kayam” about the problems in their communities, from tznius to dishonesty to talking in shul to generally lax observance to tv to ostentatiousness and everything in between. What bothers many in the MO world is that the charedi leadership (at least in Israel) does not come out vocally against the chillul Hashem conduct by their constituency. If they do, then this should be publicized better.

    3) The more spiritually conscientious in the MO world feel a greater sense of kinship with the charedi velt than they do with the Ortho-lite world. Naturally, they are more troubled by the problems in the charedi world than they are with the laxity in many MO communities, with which they don’t really identify anyway. I think much of the so-called “charedi bashing” on blogs is done by these kinds of MO Jews (e.g. Rabbi Maryles) – Jews who feel closer to the charedim than to the ortho-lite and are threefore very troubled by much of what goes on.

  44. gedaliah says:

    toby, read the jpost article about how the charedis are ruining bet shemesh. it has your answer.

  45. Moshe S. says:

    Here’s a take on anti-Charedism that I heard from one famous kiruv pro. He pointed out that nobody hates Chabad (he himself was FAR from being a Chabadnik.) Why? Because (putting aside their hashkafic problems) they project love for everyone.

  46. Aryeh says:

    As other posters pointed out a slant towards the left (or anyway, away from the right) is to be expected in the blogosphere which represents a rather biased sample of Jewish opinion. It would be an interesting experiment for Cross Currents to conduct an online poll of its readership to see where they would put themselves in terms of the various Jewish groups that we divide ourselves into.

  47. Baruch Horowitz says:

    Just to expand upon my previous comments, Ori mentioned(comment # 4), “”Either way, it’s a lot easier to have prejudices when you don’t meet people”.

    I agree, and perhaps in a different way, I can say from personal experience, that when one interacts with people on individual basis, as I have done, then one sees a different image than what comes across in the media. For example, I am acquainted with different types of chasidim, and they come across as normal people, with regular needs, once one gets to know them.

    Nevertheless, I feel that charedim should listen to criticism from outsiders, even if those remarks should have been expressed better, instead of saying “they hate us anyway”, and “it’s just a minority”, “look at our strong points”, or “MO has it’s own faults”. I was unsatisfied with what came across as defensive reactions to Jonathan Rosenblum and Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz’s essays published in past years in Mishpocha and Jewish Observer, respectively(even though in part, those reactions were to give a full picture, which is certainly fair); the defensive, non-open, reactions of some people bothers me. While I believe that there was an editorial in the Jewish Observer criticizing the Jerusalem “riots”, I think that if the Jewish Observer and Agudah Conventions could host an open discussion such as this one, it would be much better off for the charedi image.

    I think it would be better for charedi community if we would give the impression that we are willing to listen to criticism. Instead of chardie hasbara being limited to showing the good done by outreach and identifying media biases, there should be some mechanism or taskforce which could be arranged by laypeople working with rabbonim to show that charedi world takes feedback seriously, in order to build on articles like Jonathan Rosenblum, which based on the responses I’ve seen printed, appear to be gingerly written for presentation in the charedi media, for concern of defensive criticism or “airing dirty laundry in public”.

  48. Baruch Horowitz says:

    When I mentioned “weakness in ideology”, I didn’t mean that there is any nexus between any charedi ideology and throwing stones. However, I believe that Rabbi Norman Lamm has once said to RIETS musmachim , “beware of intolerance, and beware of tolerance for the intolerant”. The question is, what is the equivalent “tolerance” in the charedi world, where rabbonim have traditionally spoke out, and where charedim have their own strong set of principles?

    R. Eliyahu Meir Klugman’s article in the Jewish Observer(Summer 2006) quoted the famous Netziv in the preface to Bersheis about the need to be “tolerant”, but balanced that with the need(in theory), to “…do battle with forces, and sometimes people, who seek to falsify the d’var Hashem”. He said that where to draw the line by is by “[monitoring] the true impetus for one’s actions… and [seeking] and [accepting] the guidance of those gedolie Torah who have spent a lifetime purifying their actions and motivations…”, as well as the study of mussar(Torah ethics and character refinement).

    Also, while one should add nuances to fill in generalizations, the strength of the Eretz Yisrael community might be Torah and insularity, but American Torah communities’ strength is tolerance and egalitarianism. As Rabbi Yair Spolter writes in the Jewish Observer(12/04), ” …By contrast, American society is built on egalitarian principles, which means respecting everyone for who they are, and downplaying differences and disagreements for the sake of unity and the common good. Americans are, in general, more unassuming and non-confrontational”.

    Rabbi Yissochar Frand, in a speech, has in turn mentioned an Agudah convention speech by a Moetzes Gedolie Hatorah member that “our world…has become all to eager to denigrate and villify circles of shomrie Torah Umitzvos with whom we have serious ideological differences”. Rabbi Frand says that he could get “into trouble ” for mentioning Rav Kook in a derasha, and “that’s what it has come to, and that is why the Bais Hamikdash is not rebuilt”.

    The bottom line is, that while one can’t draw any nexus between any Torah “intolerances”, such as sharp statements of gedolim l’sheim shomayim(for constructive purposes) etc., and the idiots who throw stones(including last summer, one or two non-Meah Shearim teenagers caught on Getty Images), in my opinion, a strong charedi response would be acknowledge the “risk-factors”, and create some type of mechanism to build on efforts like Jonathan Rosenblum’s articles, to show that educational efforts are made at the highest level(such as that of the Noverminsker Rebbe, who personally dispersed a crowd in Boro Park after Gideon Bush was shot), to tell children that any “intolerance” inherent in sharp statements from Gedolim, or the Edah Hacharedis “cursing” the police at the gay parade, are to be offset by appropriate Torah hashkafos such as the sources mentioned above.

    Also, it should be communicated to the media that there is a stress on appreciating the good in other people, even in ideological opponents(granted, there is the concern that such could be confused with legitimizing an ideology). If one want’s the Chovos Halevavos’ principle(while teeth of a donkey) to be applied to one’s own, one also needs to constantly make sure that one does it to others as well.

  49. Jon Baker says:

    >I’d like to see a Modern Orthodox blog on which some MO writer would admit there are problems in the MO community(or a Reform site on which a writer admitted there are some things wrong with the Reform movement), and dozens of people would pile on to criticize him for not condemning his own community even more strongly, and to point out that his community is much worse than he admits, and in fact, has hardly any redeeming features.

    These blogs do exist, and are among the most widely-read and widely-commented Jewish blogs, and are written by two men who you know well through Avodah/Areivim.

    Pkach eineich vetir’i – open your eyes and see.

  50. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “These blogs do exist, and are among the most widely-read and widely-commented Jewish blogs, and are written by two men who you know well through Avodah/Areivim.”

    Mishmar? 🙂

  51. joel rich says:

    Aha Baruch – so you admit you are really MO 🙂 (many a truth is said in jest). Truth is if you listen/read R’Dr’ Brill – most of US charedi world is modern (he calls it engaged yeshivish) in that they engage modern society, use its tools etc.
    KT
    Joel Rich

  52. ben-aharon says:

    “Rabbi Frand says that he could get ‘into trouble’ for mentioning Rav Kook in a derasha…”
    “Did you ever consider that many in the Centrist Orthodox world believe that they offer the best future for Judaism? Is it possible this hatred you decry is their attempt to defeat that which they view as a disingenuous representation of the past and a failed methodology for the future?”

    Was it really that long ago that one did not have to choose one specfic hashkafa and then negate all the rest? Please tell me when the memo went out because I never got a copy. Somehow in the past we were able to simply say “That’s not for me” without adding “And it’s wrong”. Rav Yitzchok Elchonon Zt”l could learn Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch’s CHOREV and comment that it presented the most impressive explanation of the laws of Shabbos without being concerned that his students in Kovno would leave the yeshiva and head off to the university. What was right for Germany might not be right for Russia and vice versa.
    Who would trouble Rabbi Frand? Other rabbonim who are nameless and faceless antagonists refusing to publicly proclaim their opposition to his Torah, or individuals in our communities who create havoc for their own agendas? If the Street has become so powerful and determinant of our future direction then we can only blame ourselves for not having the courage to expose the nonsense and ignore this culture of rejection of Ayloo V’Ayloo Divrei Elokim Chayim – These and These are the Words of the Living G-D. We all know who repeats offensive critiques they “heard” from some Rav or another. But do we challenge this craziness openly?
    It seems that whenever actions reported about the Chareidi world are discussed in open fora a different set of “rules of engagement” are set in motion. Emotion dominates reason and evidence of assertions are hardly necessary. All segments of the Jewish world could do with considerable improvement. Yet we expect more of the Chareidi world. The patent justification for that is since they purport to follow Torah so assiduously, shouldn’t they BE better than the rest of us? As my kids like to say, “Nice try”. Sadly we are far removed from the time when Menschklichkeit was learned from Torah or even from observance. The mussar movement is over a century old, coming from a time and place when tireless adherence to Torah and Mitzvos was the norm. Even so, there was a recognition that personal conduct and civility required special attention beyond the scope of an ordinary frum upbringing and education. The greivances people decry in the Chareidi world are primarily ones of behavior. This community is not unique in the ability of its members to know one way and act another.
    If we are so diappointed in the Chareidim perhaps it’s because we truly expect them to lead and they do not. In that case, let’s find others to assume the lead.

  53. Zadok says:

    Growing up in the RW charedei world; there was (at least)one area about Rav Kook and RYBS being praised and considered worthy of emulating-namely that they never spoke evil or even held a grudge/ill will towards their opponents.It is tragic that those who feel themselvs talmidim of those two don’t follow their example.

  54. HILLEL says:

    Here is a current article from one of Israel’s leading newspapers that coroborates what Mrs. Katz writes:

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3425272,00.html

    Just slap ’em

    Israelis back official who hit religious MK. But what if he had slapped a leftist?

    Uri Elitzur Published: 07.15.07, 01:13 / Israel Opinion

  55. Baruch Horowitz says:

    BTW, one should note outreach efforts like Lev L’achim, where avreichim volunteer time, and whose very name means caring about non-chardeim. However, one should also listen to complaints about “intolerance” and see if there is anything that one can learn from them.

    Also, as an example of my previous comment of “it should be communicated to the media that there is a stress on appreciating the good in other people even in ideological opponents”, I once heard a lecture from Rabbi Dr. Aron Rakeffet, that Rabbi Moshe Sherer told him that he was grateful to a MO academic, who in the course of research for one of his books, discovered a certain unsettling phenomenon in the Yeshiva world, yet chose not to write about it (the problem is known, but is not relevant for this thread). This would be an example of how someone can find something nice to say about an ideological opponent. If that would happen more often on a public level(in a way which doesn’t blur differences), maybe that would be part of the solution towards reducing criticisms of charedim from some quarters that are a reaction to attacks on their leaders or philosophy.

    Finally, I don’t see as a contradiction Jonathan Rosenblum’s point that “it is incumbent upon the critics to constantly ask themselves if underlying their criticism might not have its source in too little love of Torah and words of Torah”, versus enumerating complaints people have against charedim, for the positive purpose of clarifying an issue and solution. Both aspects can be true(as he writes in ” Torah Extremism and its Opposite”– ‘such criticisms take many forms, some more valid than others’).

  56. Mark says:

    To all my critics,

    After reading the comments to Mrs. Katz’s last two posts, I have done some serious introspection and have come to the conclusion that you have done me a great favor.
    Without you I would never have realized that all that stuff I’ve learned in Yeshivah about dedication to Torah is nothing more than a transparent attempt to create a generation of idlers, who do nothing more than slosh off government funds and evade army service.

    Without you I would never have picked up on the fact that I’m a racist jerk bent on stereotyping everyone in the most negative fashion and all those Mussar Shmuessen in Yeshivah have had negative effect on me, if at all.

    Without you I never would have imagined the deep inside lies a violent and frustrated side that is only too eager t othrow rocks at anyone less religious than I. I also never would have dreamed that my kids are little terrorists in training because they’ve been raised in a Chareidi environment. They always appear rather well-mannered and we receive lots of compliments about their behavior but now I know that they’re little frauds.

    Without you I’d never have learned that I abhor my MO cousins with whom I spend a number of weeks each summer vacationing. I’ve also learned that the years I spend in Yeshivah not discussing MO theology was only a veiled attempt to demonstrate how utterly insignificant it really is in my eyes and how deeply I abhor it.

    Without you I could never have picked up on the fact that many of my Chareidi friends are not perfect human beings at all. It’s not as if they ever said they were but now, thanks to you all, I’ve learned that deep in their hearts that’s what they believe, and for that they are to be roundly condemned incessantly. Come to think of it, there are indeed, signs that you haven’t even mentioned that point to the fact that they are not perfect human beings. One of them even removed his teffilin before Aleinu the other day!

    Without your help I’d never have thought that the reason they have all those kids is because they lack any creative activities to pursue other than baby-making. I always thought that it was due to altruistic means but now I know the truth. They can forget about hearing Mazal Tov wishes from me again.

    Without your help I’d never have imagined that my unwillingness to attend college and be exposed to an endless river of ideas antithetical to Torah was really nothing more than a deep-seated abhorrence of hard work. Now I know that the years I’ve struggled to earn a living in a less threatening environment, when I could have easily attained my degree and still remained just as Ehrlich and never have to compromise on any Torah values as you all have, were just a waste.

    Thanks to you all, I’ve also learned that it’s pointless to seriously consider the words of people who’ve spent their days engaged in Torah study and character perfection when I could easily find out exactly how to lead my life and navigate it’s challenges by simply logging into a message board and read the accumulated wisdom of people who seem to spend hours daily advising others on how to make their life more meaningful!
    These people who dispense of their wisdom so freely also offer another advantage that the Torah scholars lack – THEY’RE TOTALLY NON-JUDGMENTAL!!!

  57. la costa says:

    Rabbi Frand says that he could get “into trouble ” for mentioning Rav Kook in a derasha, and “that’s what it has come to, and that is why the Bais Hamikdash is not rebuilt”.

    —- here are 2 things we should all be able to agree on:

    1]We are Right. The Other is Wrong.

    2]If that attitude keeps away the Geula, it is worth it, to know that We are Right…

  58. Jewish Observer says:

    “my MO cousins with whom I spend a number of weeks each summer vacationing”

    – mixed (Charedi & MO) swimming?

  59. Steve Brizel says:

    Like it or not, stereotypes and urban myths abound in both the Charedi and MO worlds. I would suggest that anyone seriously interested in ridding themselves of these awful values should simply visit RIETS, Mir, Lakewood or spend a Shabbos in any of the major MO or Charedi communities. It just might be an educational experience for you.

  60. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “Growing up in the RW charedei world; there was (at least)one area about Rav Kook and RYBS being praised and considered worthy of emulating-namely that they never spoke evil or even held a grudge/ill will towards their opponents.It is tragic that those who feel themselvs talmidim of those two don’t follow their example”

    My perspective is neither that of a student(or student of student) of RYBS nor that of Rav Kook, although I have utmost respect for them ; my interest is indirect(and perhaps selfish) in that the more tolerant the yeshivah world is towards those outside it, the more tolerant it will be towards openness within it’s own ranks, kal v’chomer. I also like to see and hear cogent, rational, and full arguments on various topics, and if that means differing from, or expanding upon a pro-charedi argument, I feel justified in adding my ideas, for what they are worth, even if they come out on both sides of the issue.

    As far as “held a grudge/ill will towards their opponents”, I didn’t see that in most comments above. Identifying why one feels unhappy with some areas of charedim and/or their ideology is not “a grudge/ill will”, but is a reality in greater, or lesser degrees that one should deal with in the most reasonable manner, other than pretending that it is non-existent, or unjustified. I would draw the line at mockery, over the top language, or not seeing any good; many of the above comments mentioned good points about charedi society, but were not satisfied with the defenses made; I don’t see anything wrong with that.

    There is an issue of asymmetry(mentioned by Joel Rich, comment #7), and I would add, certain past, painful incidents which were never fully healed; once one puts a focus on the general ideas, it is understandable why people will focus on such past issues in the conversation(“chozer v’neor”), although hopefully they will recede into past history one day, instead of having a cumulative effect.

    I don’t have a solution myself, and perhaps there is no complete one. However, it is easy to tell someone else, “don’t bear a grudge”. If everyone in the Yeshiva World put itself in the shoes of the less asymmetrical side, then it becomes possible to understand where others are coming from; in general, I am not convinced that all do this. As I said, I do not have a solution, but I do think that being aware of the mindset of the other side, can partially help those in public positions navigate decisions, as they deals with unbridgeable issues, and public responses which inevitably affect the other side.

    On the topic, I was just reading Rabbi Shafran’s article in the Jewish Action(see Rabbi Wein’s as well); I think it deserves a separate post here(I already have my own comments prepared!).

  61. joel rich says:

    If everyone in the Yeshiva World put itself in the shoes of the less asymmetrical side, then it becomes possible to understand where others are coming from
    ===================================

    R’ Baruch,
    And as I urge my comrades, the MO world has to undertand that, at least for now, individual thinking charedim will not be able to say elu v’elu without cognitive dissonance (or being gonev daat). As I alluded to above, it doesn’t make it that much less painful, but it is what it is and demanding that a delegate with limited authority negotiate terms beyond the limits his principal has delegated to him is not usually particularly fruitful for either party.

    KT

  62. Jacob Haller says:

    G wrote in # 10
    “Those who are more ready to admit to their own flaws will more quickly attract defenders”

    Regarding this blog your theory doesn’t stand to scrutiny. Jonathan Rosenblum went out on a limb exposing the violence and other unsavory aspects amongst Charedi groups and in reply was a torrent of harsh criticims generally saying he was guilty for not using more bombastic language.

    This is the entry for R’ Yosef Dov Soloveitchik in the Bibliography of Artscroll’s Stone Chumash

    “Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivas R’ Yizchak Elchanan and rabbi of the Boston Orthodox community. A scion of the Brisk Torah dynasty, he was an original Talmudic scholar, thinker and leader.”

    That leaves me less than convinced that the “Charedi World” (of which Artscroll is usally associated with) by definition vilifies this great man and his legacy.

  63. HILLEL says:

    TO ALL:

    Here is a great poem that we should all keep in mind when having such discussion:

    http://www.eisheschayil.com/private/essays/hat.htm

    MOSHIACH’S HAT
    written for Purim by Rabbi Yitzchak Feigenbaum

    “Twas the night of the Geulah, – And in every single Shtiebel. Sounds of the Torah could be heard coming from every kind of Yeedel…

  64. shaulking says:

    Article by Rabbi Shafran, notes the word “Nostalgia” for factual information that he would rather not discuss. Quite condescending and lacking the candidness of Toby Katz.

  65. ben yisachar says:

    The moment the chareidi Leadership acknowledges, in some public way, that they are not Popes; that they have made serious mistakes in the past; that good things can and have come from other Jews, regardless of shevet; that Artscroll is an ideal, not a reality…I think a huge amount of hostility will then go out the window.

    They will be appreciated for all the good they have to offer, and people will feel no need to focus on their problems, unless in a constructive way.

    I honestly think this is the root of the problem.

    menachem

  66. Baruch Horowitz says:

    I agree with some points in Rabbi Shafran’s article, although one can analyze and debate other points in the article further. I thought it was very nicely written, and that it was a good idea to bring up in such a forum issues that are on people’s minds(Rabbi Wein makes it clear at the preface to his article that it’s an important topic). I hope there will be more such candid and respectful exchanges in the future.

  67. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “Here is a great poem that we should all keep in mind when having such discussion”

    Agreed; I just posted a link to it on my own blog. For the record, some comments above could have benefited from my own editing–so take them for what they are worth 🙂

  68. dr. william gewirtz says:

    In response to two comments:

    1)

    Growing up in the RW charedei world; there was (at least)one area about Rav Kook and RYBS being praised and considered worthy of emulating-namely that they never spoke evil or even held a grudge/ill will towards their opponents. It is tragic that those who feel themselvs talmidim of those two don’t follow their example.

    Comment by Zadok — July 16, 2007 @ 10:37 am

    a) Great men do great things; mere mortals behave less well. It is demeaning to both Gedolim to expect the same of their talmidim. b) Besides, they lived in a kinder, gentler time – See R. Berel Wein’s recent article in Jewish Action.

    2)

    This is the entry for R’ Yosef Dov Soloveitchik in the Bibliography of Artscroll’s Stone Chumash

    “Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivas R’ Yizchak Elchanan and rabbi of the Boston Orthodox community. A scion of the Brisk Torah dynasty, he was an original Talmudic scholar, thinker and leader.”

    That leaves me less than convinced that the “Charedi World” (of which Artscroll is usally associated with) by definition vilifies this great man and his legacy.

    Comment by Jacob Haller — July 17, 2007 @ 9:28 am

    Let me be very discreet; Artscroll had its reasons to include the Rav ZT’L teachings and be tempered/guarded in its biographical note. You might note the number of times the insights of the Rav ZT’L are quoted in the chumash. Other charedi obituaries were less motivated. In any case, even a positive citing that understates the persona of a Gadol, is less than fair. We have to go back perhaps to the Gaon of Vilna, but more likely to Maharal or Rambam, to find an individual with greater knowledge of Torah coupled with almost all areas of chochmah. I don’t expect that Artscroll will write a Hagiography anytime soon!

  69. dr. william gewirtz says:

    Comments on the first entry:

    “I suggest that, in their heart-of-hearts, people who have adopted a watered-down version of religion feel very uncomfortable in the presence of those who have remained steadfast and refused to compromise.

    The MO rationalizes his adoption of a “more contemporary” style of Judaism with the argument that it is impossible—in today’s modern world—to live the old values, as they were lived for the last 2000 years.

    The existence of a viable and significant community of Chareidim, puts the lie to this rationalization, and makes the MO extremely uncomfortable. Therefore, he pounces on any sign that the Chareidi lifestyle is defective, in order to legitimize his own.

    Ditto for MO Chritians, LeHavDil.

    Comment by HILLEL — July 13, 2007 @ 9:02 am ”

    This represents exactly what Modern or Centrist Orthodox philosophy disputes – it is not compromise to live within the modern reality, it is preferred. There are risks and some failings are inevitable, but it is our purpose as a people to engage the world around us in almost every age and in almost every circumstance. We have a proud heritage that is further developed in the interaction. It is not BeDeivid but LeChatchila.
    I am not uncomfortable; I just see charedim as taking an easier, less risky and hence less rewarding, alternative path. And using the term “lie to this rationalization” is not very catholic or respectful. It will not get you invited to the debate.

  70. Bob Miller says:

    “In any case, even a positive citing that understates the persona of a Gadol, is less than fair. We have to go back perhaps to the Gaon of Vilna, but more likely to Maharal or Rambam, to find an individual with greater knowledge of Torah coupled with almost all areas of chochmah. I don’t expect that Artscroll will write a Hagiography anytime soon!
    Comment by dr. william gewirtz — July 18, 2007 @ 10:18 pm”

    Why wait for others to fairly represent Gedolim you revere? Go buy your own hagiograph and let ‘er rip.

  71. HILLEL says:

    To William Gewirtz:

    What you describe is what Agudas Yisroel people practice daily, as lawyers, accountants, and doctors–as well as Kollel people and Roshei Yeshiva.

    Modern Orthodoxy is, in the words of Rav Aharon Kotler, ZT”L, an offshoot of Reform, embodying the same dynamic–accomodation to “modernity,” at the expense of Halacha.

    I am personally acquainted with one of the most prominent leaders of MO, and I watched his metamorphosis from Yeshiva man to accomodationist sophisticate over a span of years. It wasn’t ideology that drove his transformation; it ws raw ambition–to be accepted by the rich and powerful.

  72. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    To Dr. Gewirtz:

    For years, I have heard that the Modern Orthodox are interested in honest depictions of Torah giants, not hagiography. So why make an exception in the case of Rabbi J. B. Soloveitchik?

    For years, I have heard that the Modern Orthodox respect other gedolim and will not denigrate them in any way. Then why is it that they refer to Rabbi J. B. Soloveitchik as “the rav” as if he were the only rav in his time? No one ever referred to Rav Aharon Kotler, Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky as “the rav,” because that would have singled one out at the expense of others. Only the followers of Rabbi J. B. Soloveitchik have the temerity to do that.

    To Hillel:

    If Rav Aharon Kotler really called modern Orthodoxy an offshoot of Reform, I would be very careful where I repeat it, since as (I believe it was)the Brisker Rov (who)once put it, not everything that has been said should be repeated in public. If you are going to dismiss people with such abandon, don’t expect to be able to have an intelligent discussion with them. And by the way, I’m no MO. You can find my articles in the Jewish Observer that will show you otherwise.

  73. Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

    Reb Larry –

    No one ever referred to Rav Aharon Kotler, Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky as “the rav,” because that would have singled one out at the expense of others. Only the followers of Rabbi J. B. Soloveitchik have the temerity to do that

    Not really. Briskers (the yeshivish kind, who don’t accept RYBS)commonly use the title “The Rov” for favorite members, depending on which branch they attended. Followers of R Kook referred to him as “The Rav.”

    And to Chabad, there can be only one “The Rebbe.”

    Annoying to the rest of us, but take it for what it is – a term of endearment, not (for at least some of those mentioned) one of exclusion.

  74. Elliot B. Pasik, Esq. says:

    Hillel –

    I would also like to know more about your claim that Rav Aharon Kotler referred to modern orthodoxy as an offshoot of Reform. Who did Rav Aharon say it to, who else was present, what year, was it a private discussion, a public speech, what was the context, etc. Did he write it? – in a letter, article, book? – I doubt it. Mixed dancing and swimming were common in modern orthodox circles in those days – was that the context? He was an emotional man. Rav Aharon was active in the formation and development of Torah U’Mesorah, to say the least – they opened day schools throughout the country. The historic era is also relevant. Rav Ahron lived from 1892 to 1962. Those were difficult years for a gadol b’dor. He did not have an easy personal life, and he worked 24/6. An out-of-context quotation, with some element of bombast, has to be interpreted carefully.

    I’ve always been inspired by one famous Rav Ahron Kotler quote, written in Dr. David Kranzler’s book, about the American orthodox response to the Holocaust: “I would prostrate myself before the Pope if it would save the fingernail of one Jewish child.” (It is confirmed by several witnesses, including unimpeachable family members.) This quotation seems to fit the personality of Rav Ahron Kotler, with the caveat that I know very little, only various readings, and conversations with people who did know Rav Ahron. The quotation reflects his characteristic zealousness; and I daresay should not be understood literally.

    In this day and age, I would be very cautious in utilizing the quote you attribute to Rav Ahron Kotler.

  75. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “If you are going to dismiss people with such abandon, don’t expect to be able to have an intelligent discussion with them.”

    “The quotation reflects his characteristic zealousness; and I daresay should not be understood literally.”

    I agree with the above respective statements of Lawrence Reisman and Eliot Pasik that one either needs to take such statements in the original historical context in which they were made, or with some grain of salt, and at the very least, one should not use them as talking points in intra-Orthodox conversations. There are also many different ideas included under the term “Modern Orthodox”, and one should ascertain exactly what was being referred to. Personally, I doubt that Rav Aharon Kotler(assuming the quote is correct) was referring to every philosophy held by groups to the left of Agudah(both Hillel and Dr. Gewirtz were very general).

    I thought of this general issue when reading Rabbi Avi Shafran’s recent Jewish Action essay, which did not address directly (for understandable reasons) the issue of sharp statements made by some Gedolim about people or ideas. However, it is a theoretical obstacle that might come up when trying to bridge the divide(at least partially) between Orthodox Jews.

    On the one hand, even if for argument’s sake, one feels that certain statements should not have been made, there are problems involved in publicly directly disagreeing with Gedolim, especially if one is a talmid of theirs and part of that world.

    On the other hand, besides being an obstacle in relationships between followers of both communities, the followers of those critiqued might feel justified in rejecting much more than just the sharp statement in question. While the above was not the intent of the reviewer, I was struck by this paragraph that appeared in a recent Torah Umaddah Journal article:

    ” …[The author] apparently sees this volume as an important resource against this dogmatism, and indeed it is. If [certain non-charedi Gedolim could be accused of heresy for statements they made], then the misuse of the term “heresy” has gotten out of hand… Yahadut can accommodate a good deal of diverse opinion and even sharp debate without anyone being branded a kofer.”

    Whatever the way to get around this issue is, as the above commenter’s wrote, the solution is not to bring these statements back to life in full force in current intra-Orthodox conversation. For example, a respected individual once termed an author who was very critical of charedi policies, a “charedi basher”, and I repeated his opinion. A(charedi) relative of mine knew the author from childhood, and protested that he was a “wonderful person”. When I defended myself by pointing out that I was merely repeating what someone else said, my relative told me that even if the person in question, for the sake of argument, was justified in using the terminology in the circumstance in question, others can not take for themselves the same liberty.

  76. Jewish Observer says:

    “Aharon Kotler referred to modern orthodoxy as an offshoot of Reform.”

    – could have been worse … Reform an offshoot of MO

  77. dr. william gewirtz says:

    In response:

    Why wait for others to fairly represent Gedolim you revere? Go buy your own hagiograph and let ‘er rip.

    Comment by Bob Miller — July 19, 2007 @ 8:52 am

    Modern Orthodoxy is, in the words of Rav Aharon Kotler, ZT”L, an offshoot of Reform, embodying the same dynamic—accomodation to “modernity,” at the expense of Halacha.

    I am personally acquainted with one of the most prominent leaders of MO, and I watched his metamorphosis from Yeshiva man to accomodationist sophisticate over a span of years. It wasn’t ideology that drove his transformation; it ws raw ambition—to be accepted by the rich and powerful.

    Comment by HILLEL — July 19, 2007 @ 1:26 pm

    First, Rabbi Alderstein, seriously thank you for explaining the use of the term Rav. You provided perspective. The Brisker, RYBS, R. KOOK and the Rebbe, might all have something unique in common.

    Second, Mr. Miller, as one who had some limited first hand knowledge of the Rav’s grasp of mathematics (it came up twice in three years of shiurim) and having read his more philosophic essays, you are free to argue that knowledge of mathematics and secular philosophy are not relevant to a Gadol, but independent of its importance, in that regard, the Rav ZT’L, was unique. That is not exaggeration, just something that very few generations in our history have witnessed. I would never say, and I do not believe that the Rav was unique either as a Gadol or in his mastery of multiple secular subjects. It is the combination that was unique, independent of how it might be valued. How valuable is clearly subject to debate.

    HILLEL, your second paragraph is irrelevant. Citing an unnamed individual to besmirch a movement should not have passed muster from the moderation panel. In secular settings that would be considered undignified and hardly convincing of anything, except perhaps the biases of the author.

    Your quote of R. Aharon Kotler ZT’L is, without some delimiters, in my opinion, historically inaccurate; I assume either out of context or in a very specific context. As many have requested, source and context would be appreciated.

    Mr. Reisman, the Brisker quote as I have heard it is: Not all that is thought should be expressed, not all that is expressed should be written and not all that is written, should be published. In any case, blogging has given rise to something Brisk could not begin to fathom – publishing what people should not have the temerity to call thinking.

  78. Bob Miller says:

    Dr. Gewirtz,

    I am not suggesting anything to diminish Rav Soloveitchik ZT”L, only that you and like-minded people should stop carping about ArtScroll and start to toot your own horn more effectively.

  79. Michoel says:

    “Chareidi” society of 70 years ago demeaned the MO society of that time. But the current MO society is probably much frummer then the charedim were 70 years ago! The vast majority of MO women cover their hair to some degree, but 70 years ago there were wives of Roshei Yeshiva that did not. So yes, I fully agree with those that are demanding context.

  80. HILLEL says:

    To: William Gewirtz

    The source for Reb Aharon’s statement likening MO to Reform is his HesPed on Rav Y.Z. Soloveitchik printed in MIshnas Rav Aharon.

    He states very clearly there that MO is the same dynamic as Reform was when it began–accomodation to and compromise with “modernity.”

  81. HILLEL says:

    To Reisman and Pasik:

    Rav Aharon made the statement in a very serious context, in a Hesped on the Brisker Rav, ZT”L. You can look it up in “MIshnas Rav Aharon.”

    Please don’t demean Rav Aharon–a brilliant clear-headed Godol–by implying that he made irresponsible “emotional” statements.

    You may not like it, you may not accept it, but he said it and meant it.

  82. Jewish Observer says:

    “To Reisman and Pasik:”

    does not sound like a nice way to address people

  83. dr. william gewirtz says:

    In response:

    “Dr. Gewirtz,

    I am not suggesting anything to diminish Rav Soloveitchik ZTâ??L, only that you and like-minded people should stop carping about ArtScroll and start to toot your own horn more effectively.

    Comment by Bob Miller â?? July 20, 2007 @ 8:03 am”

    Thank you for your clarification and advice. Relative to the Rav ZT”L, i do not believe it is necessary. I am sure in time much more will be published. History is just harder than hagiography. Artscroll serves its readership and, I assume, is reflective of their beliefs; carping would be time poorly spent and ineffective.

    “To: William Gewirtz

    The source for Reb Aharonâ??s statement likening MO to Reform is his HesPed on Rav Y.Z. Soloveitchik printed in MIshnas Rav Aharon.

    He states very clearly there that MO is the same dynamic as Reform was when it beganâ??accomodation to and compromise with â??modernity.â??

    Comment by HILLEL â?? July 20, 2007 @ 9:48 am”

    Your original statement:

    “Modern Orthodoxy is, in the words of Rav Aharon Kotler, ZTâ??L, an offshoot of Reform, embodying the same dynamicâ??accomodation to â??modernity,â?? at the expense of Halacha.”

    Your two statements are different. “An offshoot” would be factually incorrect as I stated. Taking your current statement as accurate, I will read it later, is an opinion that, history will decide. In the forty-five plus years since the statement was made, modern orthodoxy has, if anything, moved to the center / right. Early returns do not support the validity of the statement; I pray that our future never does.

  84. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Hillel:

    You write of Rav Aharon and Modern Orthodoxy, “You may not like it, you may not accept it, but he meant it.” Exactly what he meant and how he meant it I don’t know, but some of our posters bring to mind Dr. Joseph Kaminetsky’s book in which he details a story of how a Lakewood yungerman working for Torah uMesorah was complaining how “Dr. Joe” was leading the organization down the path to Mizrachi. This yungerman was making things very difficult for Dr. Joe, who was unabashedly Mizachri and fairly modern to boot, and he basically told Rav Aharon that one of the two of them would have to go. In the end, Rav Aharon eased the Lakewood Yungerman out of Torah uMesorah, and the “modern” Dr. Joe stayed.

    So the question remains what Rav Aharon said, when he said it, and what he meant by it. And by the way, one could also make the same observation about Rav Shimshon Rafoel Hirsch coming from the same dynamic as Reform. Not to mention the historical context that produced the Malbim, the Emek Davar, and the Torah Temimah (problematic I know, but still in our libraries).

    To Yitzchak Adlerstein, calling someone “the Rav” may be endearment on their part, but it denotes and exclusionism that I still find demeaning. And if you want to pick EY Brisk and Lubavitch as examples, I find both can be irritating in the extreme. Or maybe, by pointing out it’s not just an MO macha, you proved my point.

  85. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Dr. Gewirtz:

    Thank you for the quote. As to your comment that “blogging has given rise to something Brisk could not begin to fathom – publishing what people should not have the temerity to call thinking.” It predates blogging and goes back to the chat groups on the internet. It is, in fact, a very real consequence of the entire e-mail phenomenon. It is one of the most cogent arguments I know for the ban on the internet.

  86. Elliot Pasik says:

    Hillel:

    What did Rav Aharon Kotler say, and when did he say it?

    Did Rav Aharon say offshoot of Reform? Same dynamic as Reform?

    In those days, modern orthodoxy was synonymous with Yeshiva University, which was hated by many European rabbis (and still is, let’s not kid ourselves). The idea of Torah learning and secular studies on the same campus, awarding degrees, and wearing caps and gowns to boot, was anathema. Extreme statements directed at YU, and some modern orthodox practices common for that era such as mixed dancing, were not unusual.

    To appreciate the zealous, uncompromising character of Rav Aharon Kotler, I highly recommend, “The Legacy of Maran Rav Aharon Kotler”, by Rabbi Yitzchok Dershowitz (Feldheim 2006), which I read for a few hours this past Shabbos afternoon.

  87. Jewish Observer says:

    calling someone “the Rav” may be endearment on their part, but it denotes and exclusionism that I still find demeaning

    it all depends who you are using the phrase with. none of us doesn’t call the teacher “rebbi” even though there are other rebbis in the world. but if you start referring to him as rebbi to those not in his class, THAT is takeh irritating.

  88. dr. william gewirtz says:

    Mr. Reisman – thank you for your comments and clarifications on another thread. I appreciate the history of chat groups and e-mail that are not as naturally an archived forum. Blogging is naturally archived more so even that list-servers like “mail-jewish” and also much more addictive and I might admit enjoyable. because of that, i must sign off before Tisha B’av.

    Wishing everyone a meaningful Tisha B’av and more emphasis on what unites us. It is that aspect of blogging, that thrives on controversy, that does worry me.

  89. Adam says:

    Very interesting discussion. (I only found “Cross-currents” today!).

    I must admit to being a little amused at the following terms: ‘chareidi’, ‘chareidi-lite’, ‘MO’, ‘RZ’, ‘ultra-orthodox’. Especially at this time of bein hametzarim (or just after) we should be stressing what is common to all streams of Orthodoxy. Belief in torah min hashamyim and the supremacy of torah sheb’al peh which, when it comes down to it is what distinguishes us (NOT divides) from non-Orthodox groups. Having said that, there ARE differences in approach but a discussin often turns just a bit nasty at times.

    If Rav Kotler said what he said, well, I think it is regrettable. It is also a shame that every statement which comes from a Rabbi is regarded as halacha mi sinai. It is my experience that in all the tapes, books and what-not we are constantly reminded how we are NOTHING compared to Chazal.

    As far as the original article goes – I’m afraid that there is widespread bad middos demonstarated by large numbers of “”chareidim””, be it in parking etiquette or simply the way they relate to shop-workers. No doubt, many many other people behave in the same way but what really winds up others is the over-weening self-importance and self-righteousness. I worked in a clinic in Israel and was told that it is to be exclusively chareidi because of “tohar machaneinu”! In the experience of people close to me who work in the frum part of my English city, they are treated with great arrogance which the non-Jewish neighbours (in a pretty working class area) do not share. Oy vei – don’t get me started on how they talk about “shvartzers” (PLEASE forgive me for using that awful term). Several colleagues of mine in the hospital have asked me why “the guys in the black hats” are so brusque – which I find very upsetting.

    I hope this isn’t perceived as an anti-chareidi rant because there is plenty to criticise in the MO (oh no – I’m doing it as well!!) world. Just as with any ideology, the motives of the progenitors might be pure but the practice often falls below the ideal. There is a lack of observance amongst many supposed adherents of modern Orthodox philosophy.

    Please let us not be like Kamtsa and Bar-Kamtsa when BOTH sides (and the rabbis watchng from the sidelines) caused the churban.

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