The Necessity of Choice

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9 Responses

  1. joel rich says:

    Interesting is that in Psalms (as we say in hallel) it says (my translation) “Answer me Hashem (editors note – for another time – what is the request?) because I am your male servant(slave), I am your male servant(slave) the son of your female servant (slave)”. 2 obvious questions -why mention lineage at all and, based on your insight, why the mother and not the father. IIRC thes simpler question is answered that one who is born into slavery is more servile than one not (perhaps this might answer why the mother but not a slam dunk) the deeper question perhaps by the fact that (as articulated by R’ YD Soloveitchik ZT”L) the mother (as an archtype) gives the child the experiential torah as compared to the father’s (as an archtype) intellectual torah.

    I think we are all familiar with well meaning parents who seek to protect their children from all harm/germs etc. At some point this is counterproductive, the child gets no immunities from disease and is afraid to cross the street by himself etc. Of course there is a trade-off, some children may get sick etc. but as a community we accept that probability and allow our teenagers to cross the street by themselves. The interesting question imvho is whether certain communities (MO and charedi in their own ways)will realize that they may have gone to far to protect their children from a possible illness and the cost to their adults is far greater.

    KT

  2. mb says:

    “Interesting is that in Psalms (as we say in hallel) it says (my translation) “Answer me Hashem (editors note – for another time – what is the request?) because I am your male servant(slave), I am your male servant(slave) the son of your female servant (slave)”. 2 obvious questions -why mention lineage at all and, based on your insight, why the mother and not the father. IIRC thes simpler question is answered that one who is born into slavery is more servile than one not ”

    Indeed, perhaps that is why it was OK for Moses to hit the rock when first leaving Egypt and it wasn’t decades later when they had finally known freedom. From Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks.

  3. Chaim Wolfson says:

    “The interesting question imvho is whether certain communities (MO and charedi in their own ways)will realize that they may have gone to far to protect their children from a possible illness and the cost to their adults is far greater.” (Comment by joel rich — November 20, 2007 @ 10:17 am).

    Joel,
    This is an age-old question that all caring parents struggle with. To what extent should we expose our children to potentially harmful influences in order to immunize them from much more devestating sickness further on in life. Personally, I think the answer lies in Jonathan’s wise words. The best form of immunization is the realization that the secular world has nothing to offer that can compare to the beauty of a life of Torah and Mitzvos. The more we educate our children to appreciate the value of Yiddishkeit, the less we have to worry that they will be blinded by the fool’s gold values of the secular world that they will inevitably be exposed to as they get older.

    On a personal note (if that’s permitted under the new Cross Current guidelines), Mazel Tov on the marriage of your son. May you see only “nachas” from him and all your children.

  4. joel rich says:

    Chaim,

    Thank you for your kind wishes, may we all share in many, many smachot.

    Last night at sheva brachot I spoke on the importance of the experiential mesora[tradition] (as described by R’ YD Soloveitchik in his hesped[eulogy] for the Tolner rebbitzin) and to understand the mesiras nefesh (sacrifice) of one’s own family members (no longer with us) for yahadut as well as their personifying midot – even if they could not quote every R’ Chaim. The anonymous, humble player who played his role and walks quietly off the stage is the beloved of HKB”H (again R’YDS). I agree completely with R’JR on the need to breath life into our observance (without making observance itself seem worth less)

    Where we may have to agree to disagree is on the 1st half of my talk which compared Yaakov’s “im Lavan Garti” – 1st explanation in rashi re: the blessings of yitchak were not carried out for me in practice of authority [assumedly yaakov guessed this was what esav was unhappy enough about to bring 400 unsmiling men with him] – versus Avraham – ger vtoshav anochi – that we are both citizens and strangers- we do have common cause with our neighbors to an extent and benefit each other, and then at some point we recognize that while this is true, we still have a unique destiny which we must pursue alone.

    KT

  5. mb says:

    “Personally, I think the answer lies in Jonathan’s wise words. The best form of immunization is the realization that the secular world has nothing to offer that can compare to the beauty of a life of Torah and Mitzvos. The more we educate our children to appreciate the value of Yiddishkeit, the less we have to worry that they will be blinded by the fool’s gold values of the secular world that they will inevitably be exposed to as they get older.”

    Surely this is at the crux of the Cheredi/Modern divide. There are some of us that cannot see God’s creations and wisdom as learned, studied and experienced in what is described dismissively as the secular world as fool’s gold.In fact, the opposite.

  6. dr. william gewirtz says:

    Chaim Wolfson: teaching “the secular world has nothing to offer that can compare to the beauty of a life of Torah and Mitzvos.” is only one derech. The other requires that we live an integrated life bringing honor to God and His/our people by how we behave in the secular world. For some, the secular world is neither sacred nor profane; it is just the stage on which we live and do Mitzvot. For some, the secular world has much to offer both practically and intellectually. One cannot ever deny the risks, but there are also rewards and many feel an obligation to participate.

  7. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “Those described are just the kids mentioned above a few decades down the line. They never thought about the mitzvos in any deep fashion. Then suddenly one day they woke up and asked: Why I am doing these things?”

    On the community level as well, there can be times when outside influences force inner development; IIRC, Rabbi Berel Wein writes how the golus experience during the Middle Ages forced the Jewish people to clarify and flesh out what were basic beliefs. Today, outside influences may have the effect of forcing some in the insular FFB world to move away from FFH, Frum From Habit, to a greater awareness of and appreciation for Yiddishkeit. Thus, we now have new educational intiatives such as Project Chazon or “Twenty Most Asked Questions by Beis Yaakov Girls”, something unheard of before.

    The silver lining of the recent controversies, Kids/Adults at Risk, and openness of the internet, may be that the people may now examine elements of taamie hamitzvos, hashkafa, and emunah more deeply. In the first case, when part of a belief system is challenged(i.e., science/Torah reconciliations), then the whole structure could be in danger of collapse, but on the positive side, it could also be reevaluated in a deeper way. Similarly, being in the position of being forced to choose between respect for gedolim and other aspects of life, causes people to think deeper about a number of issues.

  8. Chaim Wolfson says:

    “Surely this is at the crux of the Cheredi/Modern divide. There are some of us that cannot see God’s creations and wisdom as learned, studied and experienced in what is described dismissively as the secular world as fool’s gold.” (Comment by mb — November 21, 2007 @ 10:01 am).

    Mb, I don’t think my point has anything to do with the “Chareidi/Modern divide”. I think that all caring and committed Jews, Chareidi and Modern Orthodox alike, agree that the hedonism, the permissiveness, the glorification of violence that characterize so much of contemporary society are antithetical to Torah values; indeed, to the values of basic decency. I’m pretty sure that this is what Joel Rich was referring to (Joel, please correct me if I’m wrong). There is an undoubted attractiveness in a lifestyle with no rules or restrictions, where one can eat what and where one wants and indulge in every forbidden pleasure, but the endless series of momentary gratification such a lifestyle provides SHOULD be dismissed as “fool’s gold”, and cannot compare to the true happiness and fulfillment enjoyed by one who lives a Torah-true life, whether the Chareidi or Modern Orthodox version. I believe that if we can teach our children to appreciate a life of Torah and Mitzvos, they are much less likely to follow the “call of the wild”.

    Dr. Gewirtz, I have no desire nor did I ever intend with my comments to debate the merits of Chareidi vs. Modern Orthodox “hashkafa”. By now, I am well aware of your stance regarding engagement with secular society, and I can appreciate your views even if I personally do not subscribe to them. But I think we’re discussing apples and oranges here. By “secular world” I was referring to contemporary secular culture; particularly, the undoubtedly negative aspects of that culture to which I referred above. That part of the secular world is profane in the extreme; it has nothing positive to offer an observant Jew, and carries no rewards for participating in it (except perhaps the opportunity to earn reward in Heaven by withstanding its temptations), as I’m sure you agree.

  9. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “The more we educate our children to appreciate the value of Yiddishkeit, the less we have to worry that they will be blinded by the fool’s gold values of the secular world that they will inevitably be exposed to as they get older.”

    I agree with the importance of an early, strong foundation, and would also add on the topic that people today are realizing that just as important, or more important than building external walls, is internal development. Also, as Rav Hirsch writes(see pg 48 of link), negativity towards what is kosher in the secular world can backfire. As Dr. Fried writes on page 40, each Orthodox group at its level of insularity/exposure to secular society needs to evaluate the effectiveness of what it is doing.

    http://www.hakirah.org/Vol%204%20Fried.pdf

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