Flipping Out – A Review

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14 Responses

  1. Chaim Wolfson says:

    Steve, let me be the first to congratulate you on your excellent and informative (to me) post. I am amazed that a single year in Israel (actually ten months, even less if you factor in Pesach vacation in the States) can produce such a change. How would you explain it?

    Your reference to Feldman reminds me of the (true) story of the Rosh Yeshiva’s son who, when he visited his father after his marriage, brought along his own food to eat. When the Rosh Yeshiva was asked if it bothered him that his own son refused to eat in his house, he repled, “Far better that he won’t eat in my house than that I can’t eat in his house”.

    One question, though: As I understand the Modern Orthodox ideal, shouldn’t even Michaelangelo not be “competing with the Rambam”, but complementing him?

  2. dr. william gewirtz says:

    Chaim Wolfson: What RAL meant is compete for time. He made a similar point 10 days ago, with Shakespeare replacing Michaelangelo. Those present as he addressed this and other inter-generational (and time allocation) issues, could not have missed how his answers to hard Sheailot from the group were often enhanced by a colorful example from an array of different secular authors. It made the answer both memorable and clear. His ability to express his answers so articulatley was visibly complemented by his general erudition. OTOH, his review, in an article years ago, of many of the hespedim for RMF ztl and RAK ztl, gave his views of many whose education limits their ability to describe an individual accurately. Cleary RAL is unique; his talmidim’s limmudei kodesh are always enhanced by his clarity of expression and recognize its source. Alas, few can emulate, but half as good would be more than sufficient for most.

  3. joel rich says:

    Chaim,

    My understanding-“Complementing” in knowledge/appreciation of HKB”H’s creation, competing in time allocation.

    Question-in CO understanding – would it make any difference if it were Michaelangelo or Michael Jordan or Michael Jackson?

    KT

  4. Mark says:

    Steve,

    “It remains to be seen whether the evaluation is primarily financial , academic, or ideological, especially since some of the institutions that recently left or were dropped from the program may have supplied too few students and engaged in decidedly anti YU sloganeering, etc .”

    Thanks for an informative review. This sentence makes me wonder however. Assuming that they’re dissatisfied with the ideology of some of the Yeshivos, is that reason enough to drop them from the program? Doesn’t the MO world predicate their acceptance of attending college where one will certainly hear and be exposed to far worse than anything they’ll hear in a right-wing yeshivah, on the assumption that students can separate the good from the bad? Is there some other dynamic at work here that I’m unaware of?

  5. DF says:

    Though everyone hates labels, here is a place where one ought to distinguish modern orthodox teens from centrist or right wing orthodox. From what I have seen, children from MO schools like Ramaz, Frisch, etc., gain tremendously from a year or two in Israel. They enter in varying states, but from what I have seen, the majority come out changed men, and changed for the better. ( I don’t know enough to comment about the girls.)

    Boys coming out of more right wing yeshivas, on the other hand – I’m thinking Torah Vidass, Chaim Berlin, NIRC, Philly, Long Beach, or others of that nature – may not gain as much by going to Israel so soon after High School. Many of these boys are already learning fairly well in 12th grade, and would probably do better by continuing in the same location for another few years. (Whether attending colege at the same time or not is another issue.) For many of these teens, going to Isreal at the age of 17 gives them more “freedom” than is healthy at that age, and they lose the rhythm they had already developed. For such boys, while a year in Israel is still beneficial, perhaps it should be pushed off for a couple of years of maturing.

    I don’t intend to insult any group here, and of course I recognize there is always numeroous exceptions to any rule. But this is what I have observed, and I think it an important distinction to make.

  6. mordechai says:

    You quote Rav Lichtenstein, shlita:

    “Clearly, there is a need to exert an effort that the ambition to become a talmid chacham becomes a primary aspect of youthful dreams, and that provision be made for for their optimal realization.”

    But does that not pre-suppose that the parents already accept that ambition as an ideal and just seek a way to implement it?

    And does not the inter-generational conflict start because the new generation has found this an ideal (through the Year in Israel programs) that their parents do not see as an ideal?

  7. Ori says:

    Mark: Doesn’t the MO world predicate their acceptance of attending college where one will certainly hear and be exposed to far worse than anything they’ll hear in a right-wing yeshivah, on the assumption that students can separate the good from the bad? Is there some other dynamic at work here that I’m unaware of?

    Ori: For somebody with an Orthodox education, it would probably be easier to reject ideas that stand in sharp contrast to the Torah, such as espoused by modern colleges, than ideas that are a mistaken interpretation of it. If I understand what I read here correctly, the modern Orthodox and right-wing Orthodox both think the others’ ideas are mistaken interpretations of the Torah.

  8. Chaim Wolfson says:

    Dr. Gewirtz and Joel, thank you for the clarification. It makes sense.

    Joel, in answer to your question: Yes, it would make a very big difference. Micheal Jackson is out of bounds (pardon the metaphor); Micheal Jordan is tolerated [Larry Bird, of course, would be embraced]; in theory, Michaelangelo is perfectly fine(though I imagine going into the Sistine chapel would be a problem), but in the type of yeshiva I attended, anything “competing” with Torah learning in terms of time allocation (with the exception of the standard “limudei chol” course of study in High School) would be frowned upon.

  9. ES says:

    DF writes: Boys coming out of more right wing yeshivas…may not gain as much by going to Israel so soon after High School. Many of these boys are already learning fairly well in 12th grade, and would probably do better by continuing in the same location for another few years.

    From what I’ve seen, going later is the standard in those circles – the boys often go to Israel for their third post-hs year. And they typically go to a different set of yeshivos, that accomodate a wider range of ages to learn in their institutions.

  10. Gershon says:

    From my limited sample space that I’ve had contact with, I would say that about 30-40% of those who have “flipped out” already showed tendencies of doing so even before leaving for their year in Israel (and were predicted to end up doing so, and their parents sent them anyway). The hard part is predicting who the other 60-70% will be.

  11. Bob Miller says:

    Are we dealing here with an inherent superiority of learning in Eretz Yisrael, or with correctible deficiencies in American Jewish communities and their educational systems, or both?

  12. joshweinb says:

    If the book is as you described, couldn’t they have come up with a less demeaning name than “flipping out”?

  13. Mark says:

    Ori,

    Good point – you might be right. I still find it somewhat difficult to see why they’re so afraid of the prospects.

    Gershon,
    “From my limited sample space that I’ve had contact with, I would say that about 30-40% of those who have “flipped out” already showed tendencies of doing so even before leaving for their year in Israel”

    What’s even more interesting is that from my own limited experience, a large number of those who “flipped out” were from families where excessive pressure was placed on them not to “dare flip out”. Funny how that works sometimes.

    Joshweinb,

    That term is the one used by parents most likely to be affected by the book.

  14. LOberstein says:

    I flipped out in 1966 at Kerem B’Yavne. The experience of a full time yeshiva, learning Mesilas Yeshorim for the first time, being in Israel all combined to nudge me to go to another yeshiva than the one I was on “leave of absence” from. I didn’t get college credit for KBY but it was also 100% free, a fair exchange. That year was one of the best of my life.
    The world is more complicated nowadays but all admit that there is a crisis in many orthodox schools in the US. If there is a way to motivate the students to prioritize yiddishkeit over shtus, I am all for it. Some narishkeit comes along with changes in hashkafa, hopefully it is only a temporary phenomenon. Let’s not confuse teenagers’ desire for autonomy with rebellion.
    I can’t understand a parent who is less worried about a child going off the derech at a secular university to one learning for a few years without college in any yeshiva. How fragile is the parent’s ego that he is afraid of a child who is more stringent but not worried about a son who may or may not eat kosher or keep shabbos. That is often the choice.

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