The Last Thing We Need is a Degenerated and Compromised Orthodoxy: A Response to R. Yitz Greenberg

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168 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    Some people are happy to be called Orthodox even if they’re not.  I guess we should take this as a compliment.  After all these years in exile, we attract positive attention in the oddest ways. Still, this mislabeling can be a source of confusion or even a consumer fraud for the the gullible.   Co-opting or recasting terminology is a common political tactic that is sad to see in our Jewish world.

    • Arthur says:

      Today, Orthodox is the best brand by a lot of measurements.  As anyone in branding knows, a brand ceases to be valuable if it is not protected.  (I do not cynically conceive of Orthodoxy as a brand; unfortunately, others do.)  However, we’re living in an era where it is common to co-opt and change the meaning of words to fit social and political agendas.  “Mutilation” applied to milah, “violence” applied to civil verbal disagreement, “privilege” applied to achievements, “phobic” applied to perfectly healthy persons who disagree with or criticizes something.  So “orthodox” is not exempt.  Indeed, this is not new: the term was often abused for commercial gain in the era before centralized orthodox rabbinic organizations came to fore in America.

  2. R.B. says:

    Yitz Greenberg’s argument about the compromises that kept the non-frum as members of Orthodox congregations decades ago is a bunch of malarky. Those congregations that had removed the mechitzos or had both separate and mixed seating were on the cusp of leaving Orthodoxy in any event. I believe (please correct me if I am not stating things correctly) that R’ Soloveitchik permitted musmachim of YU to become Rabbonim of these “on the fence” congregations to see whether within a couple of years (I understand it to be 3 years) that congregation would put up a mechitzah or not. If within that time the shul would not indicate its clear identification with Orthodoxy, the musmach was supposed to abandon those pulpits. Therefore, to look at these “on the precipice” congregations as some kind of model just indicates how he ignores facts to write this screed.

    Also, its interesting that while Greenberg cites the famous YI dances, he fails to mention its very hoary rule that each YI congregation had to adhere to the YI Charter to intentionally exclude the Conservative movement from having any influence on the YI movement. They imposed a requirements that officers must be Shomrei Shabbos. How non-pluralistic!

    Finally, if anybody has read R’ Emanuel Feldman’s Tales out of Shul and how he built Orthodoxy in Atlanta, not be accepting when his small and dwindling congregation removed his mechitzoh before Rosh Hashanah, and making sure that it adhered to standards of shul configuration al pi halochoh, you can see that Greenberg’s assumptions that continued compromises would have kepts multitudes of Jews within Orthodoxy as a fool’s dream. I agree with R’ Gordimer’s comments about those who were not frum and I would add that it is more likely that these people attended Orthodox shuls out of nostalgia, but there is no guarantee that their children and grandchildren, who would be raised through the tumultuous 1960’s and the rise of 2nd wave feminism that they would have continued to attend Orthodox congregations.

    • Arthur says:

      Yet, I hope people would also agree that it would have been more desirable to retain the non-frum attendees at orthodox shuls rather than lose them totally if that were feasible without making halachic compromises.  These weren’t just people who wandered in off the street after all, they were part of the community and builders of shuls and day schools, even if they may have driven to them on Shabbos.

      I was stuck by a giant banner on a chuch (l’havdil) recently.  It said “Sinners Welcome!”  Come on in, get some religion, start mending your ways.  We mostly expel our sinners.   The contrast is food for thought.

      • R.B. says:

        Oh, I definitely agree with that. Welcome them without watering down standards. Greenberg seems to equate lower standards = Orthodoxy is more attractive.

        • joel rich says:

          It would be interesting to compare how the R’ Greenberg, the Lubavitch shaliach and Community kollel models deal with these issues in attracting and retaining those whose standards don’t currently meet any definition of orthodox.

          kt

          • R.B. says:

            Yes, it would. However, at least the Lubavitch and CK models try to involve the unaffiliated and see if they will make a choice to grow b’ruchnius or not. The YG model would allow the marginal to stagnate, simply to keep the threadbare connection to Orthodoxy – it doesn’t require choices or try to influence. That also fits into YG’s decades long advocacy for pluralism, because what kiruv does it is imposes a view that being frum/Orthodox is superior and preferred to the lifestyle the marginally affiliated lead.

             

          • lacosta says:

            it’s not a completely fair comparison.  while it is true that chabad makes no spiritual demands [though there will be no foreign philosophy or ism’s there-it’s the Rebbe 168 hr/wk], they aren’t going to threw anyone out. many drive to Temple fri nite, then to chabad saturday morning. the pricing scheme is really good— mostly no upfront membership costs . and you can’t upset your funding source.   the kollel’s work is thru education, which is either mashpia or not.  i don’t know where their funding comes from , how stable.

            but no one is going to demand a feminist or theologiclaly liberal approach in chabad or kollel: no women’s gmara shiur, no partnership minyan etc

    • dr.bill says:

      the synagogues to which Rabbi Greenberg was referring were most often the traditional synagogues that had many HTC alumni as Rabbinic leaders, given the horaat shaah by Rav C.D. Regensburg ztl, to counter the conservative movement, in the midwest.  Some shuttered and some eventually became orthodox.  In retrospect, a brilliant horaat shaah by an under-appreciated Gadol.  One such shul, Bnai David in the Detroit area, had the largest NCSY chapter in the country, IIRC with the late Rabbi Donin as Rabbi.  Another was led by a Rabbi with chassidic background who combined a gartel and microphone on shabbos. To use your language, relating it to the Rav ztl’s heter for RIETS musmachim to serve in fully conservative congregations in an attempt to convert them to orthodoxy is just malarkey.   I do not agree with all of Rabbi Greenberg’s details as well; this largely midwest phenomena still awaits a good comprehensive history.  I know of many successes that resulted, but there probably were other outcomes as well

      • R.B. says:

        Thank you for the clarification.

      • Reb Yid says:

        Have done related research in this area–totally agree that a proper history of this mostly Midwestern phenomenon has yet to be written.

        The HTC rabbis who led these shuls were often skillful, brilliant and quirky.  They led a very diverse crew.

        Frequently what resulted was a “downstairs minyan” started by younger congregants who insisted on a mechitzah.  Over a period of decades the downstairs minyan would eventually become the main minyan upstairs, but it is to the credit of the pulpit rabbis that both minyanim existed concurrently with a single kiddush for the entire congregation.

        • dr.bill says:

          while i witnessed that in a number of places, an orthodox minyan in the basement, in the few shuls with which i am familar the orthodox minyan came 20-40 years after the shul went “traditional.”  and in the shuls i am familiar with, the orthodox minyan eventually emerged from the basement and took over the shul.  like most brilliant horaaot shaah, times change.

          • Reb Yid says:

            More recently there are now Chovevei rabbis who have entered the scene and rejuvenated the community.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            In Teaneck , a longstanding C shul headed by a RIETS musmach  ZL from the 1950s is now fully Orthodox. ( The son of that RIETS musmach, is one of the most prominent younger RY in RIETS , a superb speaker, and a prolific writer on a wide variety of Halachic issues), In Queens, a mechitzah minyan was started with a separate entrance in the basement of a C congregation , and IIRC, under RHS’s supervision, there were no conflicts whatsoever, and that shul is now fully Orthodox.

          • mycroft says:

            “a longstanding C shul headed by a RIETS musmach  ZL from the 1950s is now fully Orthodox The son of that RIETS musmach, is one of the most prominent younger RY in RIETS ”

            Misleading.The Rabbi who was the Rabbi with son a leading RY  identified for decades as a JTS  Rabbi-later became a lead of the more traditional wing of Conservative Judaism.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Dr Bill-RAS was well known for his vociferous and fearless opposition to “traditional synagogues” . Take a close look at why RAS left Skokie and founded Yeshivas Brisk in Chicago and you will understand the demise of the so-called “traditional” synagogue. The two issues are closely related and any musmach of Skokie from the late 1960s -early 1970s can tell you about RAS’s views.  The traditional shuls that had NCSY chapters had “mechizta minyanim”. Many of these shuls became Orthodox and thrived.

        RB-both Chabad and comunity kollelim work on each person and see what attracts a person to Yiddishkeit  with a wide variety of programs. CKs combine the initial attraction with a strong exposure to Shabbos meals and learning on a wide variety of issues. Take a look at Dallas which sent more than 100 people to the last Siyum HaShas-all because of the work of the local kollel.

        • dr.bill says:

          RAS ztl clashed with the board of HTC on more than this issue.  my recollection that the straw that broke the camel’s back was RAS reaction to a sale to a non-jewish group.  in any case, a horaat shaah is just that; RAS had every right to maintain that the need for accommodating traditional shuls was no longer needed.   he probably felt it was never justified, history not withstanding.

          HTC at the time was home to Dr. Eliezer Berkovits ztl, who despite a haskamah from his rebbe, RYYW ztl on his most controversial sefer, is the intellectual progenitor of what is now labelled as OO.  I am sure Rabbi Gordimer would have a full time job reading and reacting to his many seforim.

          The zeitgeist and not RAS led to the slow transformation of (some/many) traditional synagogues.

          and the shul with the largest reported NCSY did NOT have a separate orthodox minyan; it had three sections – yours, mine and ours, IIRC.   There are some current orthodox rabbis who grew up in that shul.

          • Reb Yid says:

            HTC at the time was home to Dr. Eliezer Berkovits ztl, who despite a haskamah from his rebbe, RYYW ztl on his most controversial sefer, is the intellectual progenitor of what is now labelled as OO.  I am sure Rabbi Gordimer would have a full time job reading and reacting to his many seforim.

             

            This.  HTC has not produced anyone of his renowned caliber since.  My 7th grade sons are currently reading selections from his NOT IN HEAVEN as part of their Gemara collection (as part of an anthology assembled by an Orthodox high school, by the way).

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Let’s start and ask ourselves why HTC probably hired RAS-to help HTC compete for students and talmidim with YU and RIETS. IIRC, RDL also gave shiurim in HTC for a while even while as a RY in RIETS or prior thereto. Talmidim of RAS and HTC grads of that era can further verify how and why RAS was sought out by HTC and the circumstances surrounding his being rescued from what became a very untenable place for RAS.

            IIRC , RAS was granted the power to sign smicha as a RY but refused to sign smicha for any would be musmach who would be a rav of a “traditional” shul, which , as you pointed out, was a uniquely Midwestern deviation from halacha-shuls with no mechitza ( and/or a microphone) and Birnbaum siddurim, which RAS fought vociferously and fearlessly. Yes, there were huge disagreements on a wide variety of issues between RAS and R E Berkovitz ZL , whose book on the Shoah is superb, but whose halachic writings are decidedly far more controversial. IIRC, RYBS had to rescue RAs from what was a untenable situation for RAS.

            FWIW, I have heard from a person of great integrity and a RIETS and BRGS grad who is now in the Olam HaEmes, that R D Belkin ZL offered the SE a joint appointment in RIETS as a RY and as a professor in BRGS, which the SE declined. Can you imagine both RYBS and the SE saying shiurim and giving lectures , etc  in the same Beis Medrash on the same campus?

        • mycroft says:

          “Misleading.The Rabbi who was the Rabbi with son a leading RY  identified for decades as a JTS  Rabbi-later became a lead of the more traditional wing of Conservative Judaism”

          I should add the father had a very good reputation in traditional areas-In the UWS 3 decades ago a Gateshead musmach told me that he would give that Rabbi an aliyah with Rav if he showed up to his schul. His area of medical ethics was read by many. But it is misleading not to mention his JTS ordination.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            IIRC, the rav ZL in question had smicha from RIETS. It was not uncommon in the 1940s and 1950s for musmachim from RIETS and other yeshivos to have JTS degrees if they viewed themselves as within the orbit of CJ for their employment. It is also fair to note that there were many graduates of many RW yeshivos who also presided over mixed seating and CJ affiliated congregations whose children are decidedly far more committed to halacha today.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        In my wife’s hometown, there was a rav who was a Holocaust survivor, and son of a famous rav whose sons all went to Charedi yeshivos in NY but whose shul had a parking lot open, mixed seating and a mic. The rav’s most memorable drashos were about the Shoah.  The small YI was the “frum” shul in town. I think it is fair to say that there were far more committed Bnei and Bnos Torah ,and even a few Talmidei Chachamim who emerged from the YI than from the other shul that I described.

        • mycroft says:

          ” the rav ZL in question had smicha from RIETS.”I don’t really care about his prior education and knowledge-he  went to JTS and was a leader of the Conservative movements traditional wing. He is the olam haemet. I see no reason to bring him up in our discussion but he was a leading Conservative Rabbi-very knowledgeable and one who was very well respected but chose to be identified with the Conservative movement during that movements heyday.

          “It was not uncommon in the 1940s and 1950s for musmachim from RIETS and other yeshivos to have JTS degrees if they viewed themselves as within the orbit of CJ for their employment.”

          They went for one of two reasons either for ideology or money. If ideology they disagreed with basic Yahadus much more than OO-the CJ movement had already permitted driving on Shabbos nothing OO has done yet has come close to that. . If they chose it for money one must remember that many if not most RIETS musmachim did not choose money over Yahadus. It was well known to Rabbis in the 40s to 60s they could earn more by switching to the higher paying movement. The standard RCA Rabbi of that period who did not choose the additional money of being a Conservative Rabbi are the same ones often treated with contempt by many followers of later leaders of RIETS.

           

          “It is also fair to note that there were many graduates of many RW yeshivos who also presided over mixed seating and CJ affiliated congregations.”

          Absolutely it was followers of the Rav who would not take higher paid mixed pew positions-he was the one who made the red line against that-not those of RW yeshivos.

  3. Shmuel Landesman says:

    Rabbi Gordimer:

    Thank you for doing our community this service with your article.

  4. joel rich says:

    To fully comment on both R’ Greenberg”s and R’ Gordimer’s pieces would be a yeoman’s job . As far as MO and Chareidi history goes I’d refer reader’s to Dr. A Ferziger’s

    “Beyond Sectarianism- The Realignment of American Orthodox Judaism”

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    On a specific point,while I agree with much of R’ Gordimer’s rebuttal, the issue of current YU rabbeim on TUM vs that of the Rav is not fully addressed.  I don’t think anyone knowledgeable would claim that the Rav was not 100% invested in Torah but I don’t thnk anyone who has studied his works, listened to his public lectures etc. would think that most current RY share his regard for the study of “secular” wisdom.  One does not havr to buy into YCT/PORAT to think that the lights of valuing mada as anything more then a “nebech you have to make a living” are blinking out in the minds of many in the YU world.

    • mycroft says:

      R Greenberg who for half a century now has clearly openly been one who has openly split from standard Orthodoxy serves-it has been obvious since his exchange with RAL 50 years ago in the Yeshiva College student newspaper.

      “the issue of current YU rabbeim on TUM vs that of the Rav is not fully addressed”

      It can’t be- most of the current leaders of RIETS IMO fit into those who the Rav described essentially as those who would listen to him  in a shiur at all hours of the day but believed in their hearts the Rav was an apikorus.

      For a cogent statement of RIETS RY and the Rav see Dr Tovah Lichtenstein:
      In the United States, I believe that the influence of my father, the Rov, is on the decline, and part of the community which he taught and directed, is moving in other directions. There are those who are turning
      away from participation in the general culture as part of our tradition, and find their home exclusively in the four cubits of Torah, shying away from general culture….
      The toil and effort which the Rov invested in raising a generation of Torah scholars has borne fruit and his students’ grandchildren, men and women, are involved in Torah study. And yet, there are former students,
      notable among them a number of faculty members or former faculty members at RIETS, who have not only turned their backs on the complex worldview the Rov espoused but are anxious to claim that the Rov himself turned his back on this view. –bold added by mycroft -It has even been claimed that “Whatever he (the Rov) did aside from learning Torah came to him coincidentally.”It is, indeed, preposterous to think that his major philosophical essays,which interweave general philosophy and science, are “coincidental.”

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Mycroft wrote in part:

        “It can’t be- most of the current leaders of RIETS IMO fit into those who the Rav described essentially as those who would listen to him  in a shiur at all hours of the day but believed in their hearts the Rav was an apikorus’

        Proof please besides your alluding to one comment of RYBS ?  Just because you repeat the same statement in a wide variety of contexts by no means establishes the same as anything more than your own POV.

        • dr. bill says:

          there are dozens of such individuals.  the one mycroft quotes often, is the Rav’s ztl daughter.  the revisionism began within days of the Rav’s petirah as Prof. Kaplan wrote shortly thereafter.  BTW, Prof. Kaplan’s book, editing a student’s notes of the Rav’s shiurim on the Moreh, just came out. Amazon delivered it before shabbos and  i skimmed it over shabbos.  it makes those who think of the Rav’s involvement with secular studies as incidental look a tad silly.  as the Rav himself is once reported to have joked, I have enough time for secular studies during just the time other RY spend wasting time criticizing him.

          • mycroft says:

            “there are dozens of such individuals.”

            Agreed

            “the one mycroft quotes often, is the Rav’s ztl daughter.”

            I quote Dr Lichtenstein because I am citing a published work-I do not make it a habit of quoting people by name who stated something orally to me -they may have  personal reasons to not publish such statements and I respect that. There are others who I have heard similar statements from.

            ”  the revisionism began within days of the Rav’s petirah as Prof. Kaplan wrote shortly thereafter”

            Agreed-one can argue the revisionism started even earlier once the Rav ceased to be an active leader-but certainly it started by the end of shloshim.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Dr Bill-Please name some of the “dozens of such individuals.”  Anonymity should not be a basis for anyone’s contentions.

            RYBS himself stated:
            “… As far as Chumash is concerned , Tanach, there was no Reb Chaim. That is why our knowledge of Chumash, of Tanach, is very limited. We know the etxt. We twist the text of the Chumash for homiletical purposes. We never try to conceptualize the Chumash, to read between the lines, and simply see the world through the eyes of the Tanach. I am trying lately to gain an insight into the words of the Chumash the way Chazal have understood [it], simply to see the image which our tradition has projected.

            And one of the best-the best -mfaresh for that is the Ramban.The Ramban is very sensitive to every word in Chumash. His spiritual perceptions are so fine that they may actually be exploited for the organization or construction of a modern philosophy of religion.In my opinion, the Ramban contributed much more to the philosophy of religion, to Jewish world formula, Hashkafas olam than the Moreh than the Moreh Nvuchim. The Rambam was over-educated and over-trained. You see, when you are over-educated and over-trained, [then]willy-nilly you have to employ cliches  and you have to engage in a certain jargon which each generation develops. Each philosophical school , each tkufah , each period , developed a certain jargon. And the jargon shuts out the sight of spiritual perceptions of the Ribbono Shel Olam basically. The trouble was that the Rambam was a scholar trained in philosophy. The Ramban used more intuition than logic, even though he was a great logician. He was very original because thee was no Aristotle, or Plato , or Socrates to deprive him of his originality and universality. That’s why I would reccomend [to]everyone to study Ramban the way you study a Ktzos or Nsivos.Let me just try now to develop a Ramban of Lech Lcha. Because why should we so delve into the personality of Noach-for Noach is the father of humanity, let the goyim do it-I would rather give our attention to Avraham, who is our father…”

            ( Thinking Aloud, The Rav on the Parsha, Sefer Breishis, Pages 3-4[The Rav on the Parsha-verbatim. shiur given to Rabbinic Alumni 1968]

          • Alex says:

            R’ Lichtenstein was asked in an interview:

            “How do you think RIETS has evolved over the years?”

            Part of his answer was:

            “Now, in certain respects, some things which I value have been lost in the process. Not totally lost, but reduced… I would hope that something of that spirit which animated some of us here, back in the 60s and 70s, would be reinvigorated, and that the Torah U’madda ideology and reality would be felt more powerfully than it is felt today.”

          • Steve Brizel says:

            One quoted member of RYBS’s family does not equal “dozens”.

          • dr. bill says:

            Referring to RAL ztl as “one quoted member” places you beyond the pale, on his yartzeit no less.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            The only  family member who has been consistently quoted here is Dr Lichtenstein . RAL ZL was quoted out of context with respect to his views of RIETS. I should note that in the greater context of this discussion, RAL ZL was quite critical of RYB in the mid 1960s as well as in the YU Judaica book published in 2005 and voiced his own critique of the shortcomings of MO in his own books. How mentioning the same somehow renders one beyond the pale simply mystifies me. Again, Dr Lichtentstein’s views are that of “dozens:, and  it borders on intellectual dishonesty to consistently mention the same without acknowledging that some of RYBS’s own grandchildren do not walk around citing and/or giving Chaburos on Lonely Man of Faith as opposed to Chidushei R Chaim al Rambam .

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Anonymous X O= O.

    • simon fleischer says:

      Who denied marriage and children were goals? I certainly didn’t. I simply said they need not be the only goals. Could you possibly suggest that a woman who doesn’t marry or can’t have children doesn’t fulfill their purpose as a human being? Do you really think all feminists deny that marriage and children are perfectly legitimate goals for a woman? Do you think that we feminists are so stupid and short sighted that we cannot see the importance of family, to society in general, but also to the transmission of our own traditions? You seem so invested in your single way of thinking about things, this black and white approach, that it gets in the way of hearing what others are saying. There are many instances of feminism. Some reflect the extreme point of view you are critiquing. Others don’t. You do our community a great disservice by painting them all with one brush. You close yourself off from the possibility of learning from someone with a somewhat different point of view. Yes, we have lines and limits. But those lines and limits need not make us tone deaf and color blind. You continue to insist all feminists are what you insist they are. History belies your claim.

      • Reb Yid says:

        There are radical feminists who quite clearly want to do away with the institution of marriage, but as you note there are quite a number of streams within feminism that do not.

        What all feminists share, however (and what Friedan was criticizing) was the disdain for the 1950s style American suburban household a la Leave It To Beaver with the commuting husband to the inner city, leaving the bored suburban wife to play the role of unpaid laborer, shlepping kids around to car pools and performing volunteer work.  This was (and is) insulting for many women and men (even as a minority of women and men are fine with this arrangement).  There is room for far more growth for females here (even within the context of being a wife and a mother)–that was what the critique was all about.

        • Steve Brizel says:

          I stand by my original comment-to the extent that feminists hated the conventional family structure and still do, feminism is an ideology that cannot be reconciled with the goal of a Bayis Neeman BYisrael.

        • Steve Brizel says:

          Reb Yid wrote in part:

          “shlepping kids around to car pools and performing volunteer work.”

          In the overwhelming majority of many frum communities, the above activities are elements of what we call being a Baal Chesed. Feminists like to think in disdainful intellectual superiority  that the same are  “insulting for many women and men” but such activities are the bread and butter of family life.

          • Reb Yid says:

            Call it what you want, but it is unpaid labor.  Women do not simply exist for the pleasure of men and their families.  While I can respect the fact that there are women in [sic] frum communities who do mind and even enjoy this role, you should respect that there are other women (including other Jewish women and even frum Jewish women) who might find this overly restrictive and full of gender typing.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            There are many aspects of running a family between a husband and wife that never are “compensated” for -by anyone-It is all part of chesed and the relationship between a husband and wife.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Simon Fleischer wrote in part:

        “I simply said they need not be the only goals. Could you possibly suggest that a woman who doesn’t marry or can’t have children doesn’t fulfill their purpose as a human being? Do you really think all feminists deny that marriage and children are perfectly legitimate goals for a woman? Do you think that we feminists are so stupid and short sighted that we cannot see the importance of family, to society in general, but also to the transmission of our own traditions?”

        WADR, your point is inherently contradictory. The question is one of priorities and what is the proper trajectory for a Jewish woman in balancing marriage child bearing, child rearing and career, and the overall important goal of transmitting a living tradition to the next generation-not whether a person is fulfilled as a a human being. As long as feminists elevate career and one’s individual purpose as a human being at the expense of marriage, and raising children , feminism is a philosophy that still views the conventional family as a “comfortable concentration camp.”

        • simon fleischer says:

          Simply stating a point is inherently contradictory doesn’t make it so. Where is the contradiction? Because your post doesn’t actually identify one. Your complete inability to imagine a point of view other than your own is remarkable. Remarkable. I guess I should stop replying to you– it seems rather pointless. Some part of me imagines, fruitlessly, that you will acknowledge the possibility that someone who thinks and feels differently from you yet has a valid perspective. You cherry pick a single phrase in the history of feminism to prove your point, as if there is no other voice in that vast school of thought. This is as illogical as citing a single line in the vast corpus of Orthodoxy and drawing objective sweeping conclusions about the entire community and history of Orthodoxy. It feels like arguing with Donald Trump. State your point over and over, and confidence makes it true. All feminists view family as a concentration camp? That’s really the whole truth? Assuming there are people in your world who give this point of view credence, I have to assume you don’t realize the damage you do by saying such things. How impious it is to speak in such terms! Remarkable!

  5. Arthur says:

    R’ Greenberg also shouldn’t get a pass for making a strawman argument by misrepresenting R’ Willig as having “question[ed] whether teaching women advanced Talmud – a YU program started by Rabbi Soloveitchik — was possibly a mistake . . . .”  R’ Willig was speaking about teaching gemorah to high school girls, not women, not advanced Talmud, and not in a YU program.  More importantly, he questioned only whether gemorah should be taught to all girls (i.e., without taking into account maturity and context), not whether it could or should be taught to any girls.

    • mycroft says:

      “R’ Willig as having “question[ed] whether teaching women advanced Talmud – a YU program started by Rabbi Soloveitchik — was possibly a mistake . . . .”  R’ Willig was speaking about teaching gemorah to high school girls, not women, not advanced Talmud, and not in a YU program.”

      The Rav believed in teaching Talmud to girls as much as boys-certainly if one taught HS boys Talmud one should teach girls the identical Talmud. Decades ago when the Rav was very much in control of Maimonides my brothers wife and my wife’s sisters husband were chavrutot in Maimonides. R Willig may not be in favor of teaching Talmud to HS girls but the Rav was.

      ”  More importantly, he questioned only whether gemorah should be taught to all girls (i.e., without taking into account maturity and context), not whether it could or should be taught to any girls.”

      Should gemorah be  taught to all boys- of course not-but the same intellectual qualifications etc should apply both to boys and girls for learning Talmud.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Look at it this way. Other Gdolei Torah have been viewed critically in retrospect for their positions. For example, did RAYHK have an overly optimistic view of secular Zionism? Did REW have too harsh a view of Zionism and especially RZ? How relevant was the MN of the Rambam for Jews confronted by Gerush Sfrarad?

        Like it or not-given the seemingly non-negotiable demands of radical egaliatarian feminists whose demands have led to the purported legitimization of  the radical GLBT agenda and deny all differences between the genders, would RYBS ( and many sectors within MO)  have been so in favor of women learning Talmud if he knew that such programs could legitimately be viewed as breeding grounds for feminists, as opposed to Bnos Torah comfortable with their roles as the future wives, and mothers of the Torah world and that feminism was driven by an ideological goal and emphasis on destroying the conventional family which one of the key ideologues of feminism described as a “comfortable concentration camp”? IOW, did MO make a strategic error in huge proportions in attempting to “kasher” feminism by promoting the study of Talmud ,as opposed to confronting and rejecting feminism as a POV rooted in a patently anti Torah philosophy?That question deserves further inquiry, not by someone who is Charedi, but from within the MO world itself. That IMO is the view articulated by RHS and R M Willig.

        Contrary to your post, all men are obligated to learn TSBP and Gemara, on some level-there is no such obligation for women. The question is not whether boys should learn Gemara-rather as the Mishnah and Maharal point out-when does one begin the study of Gemara.

        • simon fleischer says:

          This notion that feminism is a static stable movement with a single overarching vision (that espoused by it’s most radical elements) is simply untrue. It is a straw man argument. This notion that as a movement feminism has only done harm to a pure Judaism that was humming along quite nicely (not to mention a society that was humming along quite nicely) is equally untrue. This notion that “radical egalitarian feminists,” as a phrase, can be used almost interchangeably with “feminists,” is untrue. This notion that the only appropriate role for a young woman in Judaism is wife and mother is untrue. Arguments become more clear when you tilt the facts in favor of extremes. But they also become less true. Some nuance is needed in the way we speak about what feminism as a movement has offered our world, and what it hasn’t offered. Some nuance is needed when we speak about what feminism as a movement still has to offer. History doesn’t move backwards; clearly some of the changes around women’s issues in the last 100 years have been for the better. These changes have been promoted and inspired by feminists. To deny this fact is to deny reality. That being the case, the sweeping manner in which you address feminism as a destructive force is lacking in both ethical and historical perspective.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            I stand by my assessment of the ideological basis and trends underlying radical egalitarian feminism. Emes Yesh lo Raglayim. Sheker ain lo Raglayim. The denial of the role of mother and wife as an ultimate goal  proves my case in point.

          • Robert Lebovits says:

            Are you suggesting Sarah Schenirer was a feminist?

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Simon Fleischer-the issue is not whether you are married and have daughters, but rather the core ideology that is the basis of all feminist theory-which is the destruction of the family consisting of a father, mother and children. To the extent that you write that “the only appropriate role for a young woman in Judaism is wife and mother is untrue” , it is evident that you have accepted that argument without thinking about it. Look at it this way-Mariage and children are one of the main means of transmitting a Mesorah of Torah and Midos Tovos to the next generation. Denying that marriage is a goal that we as a society should be aiming for is in essence elevating goals above and beyond marriage in one’s values. That IMO is an illustration of the pernicious influence of feminism, which cannot be reconciled with any notion of the importance of the family in one’s life. 

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Sarah Schenier , who some run behind for intellectual cover, when suggesting innovations in Orthodox life, started her school after getting the approval of the Gdolei HaDor-namely the CC, R Chaim Ozer ZL and the Gerrer Rebbe ZL. It would be a huge mistake to suggest that Sarah Schneier ZL or Nechama Leibowitz ZL were feminists in any way, shape or form,

          • Steve Brizel says:

            There is more than coincidence that the ideological basis of feminism and the imposition of the radical feminist egalitarian agenda has led to the breakdown of the normal family composed of a father, mother and children, and the legitimization of the previously considered abnormal behaviors now known as LGBT behavior, as well as the many physical and pyschological maladies associated with the so-called “sexual revolution.”  One need only be a mentsch if you are a husband and your wife works to realize and anticipate that getting a house ready for Shabbos and YT is a an all hands on deck assignment, and that Shalom Bayis is an ongoing obligation of a mutual nature.  That in of itself owes nothing to the radical feminist agenda that viewed and still views the conventional family as a “comfortable concentration camp”. That agenda should have been rejected as well beyond the pale of the hashkafic boundaries of MO.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Look at the historical record=Gloria Steinem. Bella Abzug and Betty Friedan were radical egalitarian feminists and three of the most prominent founders of the feminist movement  by no means fans of the conventional family. Friedan wrote in The Feminist Manifesto that the conventional family was a “comfortable concentration camp.” Their POV and Friedan’s hateful statement have never been repudiated by any of their disciples in thought , deed and action, whose disciples have led to the legitimization of what had been psychological disorders and mental illnesses. The question remains-should MO have attempted to “kasher” a POV that was so at odds with the importance of the family structure in living and transmitting Torah observance and values to the next generation.

          • Arthur says:

            Brizel: Friedan wrote in The Feminist Manifesto that the conventional family was . . .

             

          • Arthur says:

            second part of my comment disappeared.  Was supposed to say that (AFAIK) Friedan never wrote anything called The Feminst Manifesto.

        • mycroft says:

          “IOW, did MO make a strategic error in huge proportions in attempting to “kasher” feminism by promoting the study of Talmud ,as opposed to confronting and rejecting feminism as a POV rooted in a patently anti Torah philosophy?That question deserves further inquiry, not by someone who is Charedi, but from within the MO world itself. That IMO is the view articulated by RHS and R M Willig.”

          Frankly, your statement would be another example if it represents the viewpoints of RHS that he is certainly not MO and and another one of his differences with the Rav

          “, all men are obligated to learn TSBP and Gemara, on some level-there is no such obligation for women. The question is not whether boys should learn Gemara-rather as the Mishnah and Maharal point out-when does one begin the study of Gemara.”

          The mitzvah is Talmud Torah not to sit in a class and not follow anything-to the extent that learning Gemara is not appropriate for the relevant child it should not be taught. Thus, for example one who can’t read Hebrew well enough to daven in a schul  and keep up with davening should essentially be taught just how to daven and practical halachos in English. The raising of the bar to assume all should learn Gemarrah has told those who can’t you aren’t welcome. Dvar Hashem has to be taught to each according to his knowledge and abilities. Sadly, that would leave a high percentage outside of the TBSP and Gemarrah-but that is better than having children  become adults with no connection to Yiddishkeit.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            One should first be exposed to Talmud in a shiur, review what was taught and comprehend the shiur. Making a leining on a blatt Gemara just with pshat in the Gemara is a separate skill, as is learning with a chavrusa. The Mitzvah of Talmud Torah begins with Chumash, Mishnah and reaches its apex in learning Gemara on its highest level-however, that does not excuse anyone from at least trying to learn whether in a shiur, chaburah or with a chavrusa on a level most conducive to the individual. Knowing how to daven and what you call Halacha LMaaseh in English are also important but it is equally important to see how Halacha is derived by Rishonim and Acharonim and the SA and contemporary Poskim as well.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Anyone who buys an ArtScroll or Koren Shas can follow the average Daf Yomi level shiur. The key is weaning yourself off ArtScroll and Koren and learning on your own with a chavrusa-without using any crutches. It can be done if one has the desire to become textually literate and the commensurate willpower. We know of many Gdolim who were not viewed as child prodigies or even future Talmiei Chachamim who by sheer effort became great Talmidei Chachamim.

          • simon fleischer says:

            Clearly not all feminists are radical egalitarian feminists. There are so many men and women who identify as feminists who don’t deny the role of wife and mother. That seems almost self-evident. Need I name these proud folks? Well, I am one of them. To simply assert that your approach is emet and the alternative sheker– this is not an argument. Am I the only one who sees this on this thread?

          • Reb Yid says:

            Simon, of course you are correct.  Many of the fiercest critics on this list are probably feminists to one degree or another without even realizing (or admitting) it.  At minimum, they and their families have benefited from the positives of the movement.

            And as many have pointed out on this blog site, one cannot possibly talk about “Orthodox Jews” in one broad stroke.  Heaven forbid anyone write an article condemning “ultra-Orthodox Jews”–this site is full of those who set matter straight in a hurry.  So too with feminists and feminisms–many different types.

          • mycroft says:

            “Anyone who buys an ArtScroll or Koren Shas can follow the average Daf Yomi level shiur.”

            “Anyone” I wish that were so.

            “Knowing how to daven and what you call Halacha LMaaseh in English are also important”

            No it  is an essential base to live in 21st century America as a religious Jew

            “but it is equally important to see how Halacha is derived by Rishonim and Acharonim and the SA and contemporary Poskim as well.”

            An advanced level which IMO the vast majority of CC readers and commentators should do-BUT sadly many don’t have the ability to do so. Don’t limit Yiddishkeit for the elites.

            “We know of many Gdolim who were not viewed as child prodigies or even future Talmiei Chachamim who by sheer effort became great Talmidei Chachamim.”

            I would be shocked to find one gadol who was not above average in high school ability. Even some who you quote who were great masmidim were above average intellects.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Everyone should be exposed to Gemara on some level because the Bris Chadash ( to use the words of the Ramban in Ki Sisa)  between HaShem Yisborach and Klal Yisrael that was entered into after the Maaseh HaEgel upon the receipt by Moshe Rabbeinu of the Luchos Shniyos  was predicated solely on TSBP. That is clearly the diference IMO between the bracha that you recite before an aliyah and the bracha that you recite after an aliyah.The bracha before the aliyah is a bracha thanking HaShem for giving us His Torah-the bracha after the aliyah, which is also a form of Talmud Torah B’rabim is a bracha for giving us the Toras Emes which is vital in our times and our midst-which is what TSBP is in its pristine form-not a book with vowels, but a TSBP organized by Rabbeinu HaKadosh , Ravina and Rav Ashi for our convenience so as to preserve its transmission in some way without negating the overarching importance of a rebbe-talmid and chavrusa relationships. Relegating yourself to just knowing Dinei Tefilah and what you call Halacha LMaaseh but which sounds like an English language equivalent of KSA is just not a substitute for being exposed to Gemara on any level. Why should one be ignorant of the dynamic nature of  Talmud and TSBP  if one has a level secular education?

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Did not RYBS himself reject the feminist critique of halacha as slander? There is no proof that RYBS expected all of his talmidim to have Phds or to be “MO”, which you don’t define.

          • mycroft says:

            Abzug is an example of who some claim is a radical feminist who leads to breakup of family. Of interest Abzug was married to Martin Abzug, from 1944 until his death in 1986. The couple had two children, Eve and Liz. She of course did not use her maiden name, married until husbands death with two children.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Mycroft wrote in part:
        “Anyone who buys an ArtScroll or Koren Shas can follow the average Daf Yomi level shiur.”
        “Anyone” I wish that were so.
        “Knowing how to daven and what you call Halacha LMaaseh in English are also important”
        No it  is an essential base to live in 21st century America as a religious Jew
        “but it is equally important to see how Halacha is derived by Rishonim and Acharonim and the SA and contemporary Poskim as well.”
        An advanced level which IMO the vast majority of CC readers and commentators should do-BUT sadly many don’t have the ability to do so. Don’t limit Yiddishkeit for the elites.
        “We know of many Gdolim who were not viewed as child prodigies or even future Talmiei Chachamim who by sheer effort became great Talmidei Chachamim.”
        I would be shocked to find one gadol who was not above average in high school ability. Even some who you quote who were great masmidim were above average intellect
        Mycroft-please accept the following observations in response:
        1) anyone can buy or access an ArtScroll or Koren Shas-all it takes is willpower and the desire to use it, as opposed to collecting dust in your bookshelf.
        2) I agreed-that understanding the Siddur and Machzor were of great importance .
        3) There are so many sefarim in modern Hebrew, classical rabbinical Lashon HaKodesh and English on every conceivable aspect of Halacha LMaaseh-all it takes is effort to purchase, download and learn.
        4) Talmud Torah in Lashon HaKodesh, whether of Gemara or Halacha is the best means of ensuring that you become textually familiar with the real sources. I always use the best analogy-Kli Sheni Aino Mvashel-any average graduate of K-12 MO yeshiva education should have a working ability to learn Chumash and Mfarshim in the original texts, an ability to comprehend a Gemara shiur and to learn such texts as MB and Shemiras Shabbos KHilchasa.
        5) Neither the Netziv nor the Maharam Shick were projected to become great Talmidei Chachamim. Today, you can at least call yourself a Yodea Sefer by following Daf Yomi via ArtScroll and/or Koren. You don’t even have to be of above average intelligence. We also know that many of today’s outstanding Talmidei Chachamim started out in mixed gender schools, etc were active normal teenagers and simply applied themselves with great effort to become Talmidei Chachamim. You aren’t born a Talmid Chacham even if you are a Ben Acher Ben of a great Acharon or rebbishe einekel-it requires a great deal of work and concentration.

        • mycroft says:

          “There is no proof that RYBS expected all of his talmidim to have Phds”

          Of course not, but it is also clear that he encouraged some of his best talmidim to earn  Phds. In a recent YU Torah lecture R Rakeffet while referring to the many who the Rav encouraged to get a Phd was asked why a leading talmid chacham who studied in the Ravs shiur did not go for a Phd and he gave his explanation of why the Rav would feel that person was not  Phd material. Certainly, a Phd was secondary to Torah for all-but still something he encouraged for those the Rav felt had the ability.

          “or to be “MO”, which you don’t define.”

          The Rav was tolerant and could teach Torah to all-including women.

  6. Steve Brizel says:

    R Gordimer has again performed a major public service in setting forth why the latest article by RYG must be examined with a critical eye both as to the events purportedly depicted therein, his hashkafa and whether the same passes the simple litmus test of whether any reader familiar with the same would conclude that it offers an affirmative response to the question that I view as the acid test-namely “why be Jewish”. After all, if R”L , there is no covenantal relationship why should anyone be a Shomer Torah Umitzvos? R Gordimer’s citation to the historical evidence as to why the mechitzah and ecumenical interfaith theological dialogue were the lines drawn in the sand by RYBS as well as the critical distinction between Klapei Pnim and Klapei Chutz are curiously ignored by RYG.
    Let no one doubt it-this is RYG’s full playbook in all of its detail which raises pluralism to an important value at the expense of Kiruv, Chizuk and an increased adherence to Torah Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim, which neglects to tell the reader that none less than RAL ZL sharply rejected his POV in the Commentator in the mid 1960s and thereafter in the YU Judaica book.
    I also thought that the critique of Artscroll , which has enabled Jews to daven al pi halacha and to access sources they either never studied or last looked at decades ago, represents a certain kind of MO snobbery-unless you reject Mesorah in matters of Hashkafa, Tefilah and Talmud Torah, merely being literate in the sources is irrelevant. 
     RYG ‘s article and approach are IMO seriously flawed in another more fundamental manner- Rashi cites on Medrash in his commentary on the commentary on the plague of darkness that 80% of the Jewish People did not leave Egypt. The Torah in Parshas Reeh also assures us that we will never be a numerically vast people, but rather a qualitatively important people by virtue of our adherence to the Torah. RYG’s approach is rooted in a quantitative approach that suggests that we must water down fundamentals of Halacha and Hashkafa to preserve the Jewish People. Kiruv and Chizuk, regardless of who is engaged in this process, is predicated on this principle, but RYG essentially states that any Mitzvah of Teshuvah to a life of Shemiras HaMitzvos must be jettisoned in favor of  “ I’m OK, you are Ok, and hashkafic and halachic differences are irrelevant.”Yet, RYG ignores the fact that there are numerous communities which have huge populations of BTs and Gerim.
    RYG never was a talmid in any form of RYBS and ignores the fact that RMW, with the backing of RHS and such Gdolim as ROY ZL and Yivdaldeinu Lchaim R ZN Goldberg and R Asher Weiss,slaved over and developed the RCA Prenup which is now used throughout the MO world, that long ago rejected RYG as beyond the pale. The RCA PNA is the biggest and most substantial rebuke to Blu Greenberg’s infamous comment about “where there is a halachic will, there is a halachic way”, but RYG predictably ignores that as inconvenient to his presentation. Like it or not, RHS and RM Willig have emerged as the Poskim whose Lomdus, Yashrus and Tzidkus on all levels make them the go to persons on isssues of Halacha and Hashkafa in the overwhelming majority of the committed MO world. They did not appoint themselves as Gdolim-they were chosen by the community who viewed them as the persons with the Lomdus, Yashrus and Tzidkus requisite for the job.
    The simple question-could RYG’s vision of MO ever inspire anyone to become a Shomer Shabbos, textually literate in basic Jewish sources and  transmit a Mesorah in Hashkafa and Midos Tovos to the next generation and  pack Met Life Stadium in the same way as the last Siyum HaShas? Obviously not. Then again, RYG’s vision would not attract more than 100 residents of Dallas to the Siyum HaHas which was the result of the inspiring efforts of the community kollel in Dallas.
     
    RYG is extraordinarily off the mark in his assessment of all of the subjects in this article and his yearning for the MO lite of the past which was and is a mile wide and an inch deep. One more point-perhaps RYG should take a tour of BMG and see who gives to BMG-anyone who does will see the names of many prominent MO families.

  7. Ben Bradley says:

    If we’re talking about the use of the term orthodox, it’s worth noting that the term as discussed here is almost exclusive to the USA. Maybe Canada, not sure. But elsewhere it’s popular use is different. In the UK the common use is mostly just to refer to people who belong to a Orthodox shul, and the vast majority of those historically have not been shomer shabbos at all, although changing demographics are impacting on this.  In Israel the term is barely used as sociological groupings here make it an irrelevant term. I don’t think it’s much used or relevant in the French or Spanish speaking worlds, or in the Russian speaking, although I stand to be corrected in this.

    The term’s historical origins in Germany as a derogatory term employed by early Reformers also carried very different nuances to the current use.

    Just making the point not to get to caught up too much in what amount to details of nomenclature largely localised to a particular place and time. It can be distracting from more important issues.

    • mb says:

      “The term’s historical origins in Germany as a derogatory term employed by early Reformers also carried very different nuances to the current use.”

      Revisionist nonsense.

      The term was first used before Reform existed.

      And first seen in writing around 1806 in France. There was a debate amongst Jews as to whether or not  accept Napoleons proposal re the Great Sanhedrin.  One of the “pros” called one of the “antis” that in the debate. Neither of them  was Reform, which was born in Hamburg 1810. Actually the term Reform was a much later addition around 1845 in Berlin.

      • Ben Bradley says:

        So you’re saying the term Orthodox was first used by someone wishing to make doctrinal/halachic concessions in the face of pressure from Napoleon, as a derogatory term for a more traditionalist opponent, a few years before Reform officially got going in Germany. Ok, so allow me review my statement:

        ‘The term’s historical origins in France as a derogatory term employed by proto- reformers also carried very different nuances to the current use.’

        Am I still revisionist?

        • mb says:

          I didn’t say it was first used in the instance I quoted. I said it was the first recorded in print.

          It was surely extant before that.

          Maybe Orthodox is a derisive term.

          Zechariah ben Avkulos was considered Orthodox by Chazal and look where that got us!

          • Ben Bradley says:

            Who’s being revisionist now? Can you quote me where Chazal call Z b A Orthodox please?

            Which was rather my point. The term has a particular historical origin in the crisis of how to respond to modernity in the wake of Mendelsohn with modernisers and traditionalists on opposing sides. To read that back into Chazal is entirely anachronistic. Chazal had different terms for people they perceived as being outside the fold – parush min haTorah, kofer, min, epikoros and others. They did not have a term for themselves and their followers as a distinct group, only different labels for those with lifestyles or beliefs (eg Acher) opposed to Torah. The later terms used to apply to ‘Rabbinical Jews’ eg prushim were used by those observing at least partially from the outside eg Josephus, never by Chazal themselves.

            Perhaps the term Orthodox has had its day.

  8. mycroft says:

    “Let’s start and ask ourselves why HTC probably hired RAS”

    Rabbi Simon Kramer the then president of HTC thought it would be big coup to hire RAS.

    RAS demanded certain powers that Rabbi Kramer agreed to give him. The problem was that the powers included diminution of other faculties rights. It is my understanding that the powers granted were not in power of Rabbi Kramer to give. Thus, from day one there were disputes about authority. Sadly when that happens machlokes occurs-so instead of an institution that was on the verge of expanding to include a 4 year college and limited grad schools in the early 1970s the school went into a downward spiral.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Regardless of Bella Abzug’s family-which despite your gloss was not that of a Bayis Neeman BYisrael-Abzug’s promotion of feminism and the values associated with feminism at the expense of the traditional family are a matter of public record-as are those of Friedan and Steinem.

  9. L. Oberstein says:

    I guess my comments  no longer rate.

    • dr. bill says:

      they do; just put them in the right place.  check the next entry for your comment.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Dr Bill-RYBS was equally proud of all of his grandchildren-whether they served in the IDF or were Charedi. Noone on this list is even remotely qualified to say otherwise.  Viewing grandchildren of RYBS who became Charedi as somehow off the derech takes the cake for intellectual intolerance.

        • dr. bill says:

          i wonder what i said that set you off into another illogical non sequitur.  i know nothing about how the Rav ztl related to his individual grandchildren; his remarks about IDF service are nonetheless well-known.  it might help, if you figured out how to put your absurdities in the right place.  BTW i am not surprised you see one who serves in the IDF as not being a charedi.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Your negative views on TOMO, and R Moshe Twersky ZL HaShem Yimkam Damo, as well as your not so subtle putdown of anyone associated there and by implication anyone who does not serve in the IDF  are well documented here. That is illustrative of a lack of tolerance for anyone who does not share your POV. Wake up and smell the coffee-there are grandchildren of RYBS who are great Talmidei Chachamim and who have chosen either to serve or not to serve in the IDF.

            My comments about R Moshe Twersky ZL HaShem Yimkam Damo  are based on the hespedim that were said by R Genack, R Reichman and R Kahn as well as R Mayer Twersky who testified to the unusual hasmadah baTorah of R Moshe  Twersky ZL HaShem Yimkam Damo and the well documented  chavrusa that existed between RYBS and R Moshe Twersky ZL HaShem Yimkam Damo. That fact cannot be nullified by wishful thinking to the contrary about “how the Rav ztl related to his individual grandchildren.”

          • dr. bill says:

            Here you go again; whenever confronted by the illogic of your position, you bring up other straw-men never mentioned.  First, until his tragic death, I did not even know R. Twersky HYD even existed, much less ever comment on him specifically.  Second, I do not consider charging TOMO or rabbi Meiselman with revisionism is anything but defending the memory of the Rav ztl.   IIRC, YU deleted TOMO from its program in Israel, despite its rabbis and their genealogy.  Third, I have often complemented R. Shurkin, despite his silly description of the Rav of the Rav of Boston, omitting any mention of RIETS/YU.  Fourth, I remember a phrase I heard 50 years ago from RAL ztl, “don’t confuse tolerance for a lack of principle.”  My principles often make me intolerant of what I see as very, very wrong, regardless of who might disagree.  Fifth, Rebbi Meir learned with Acher; don’t assume that made them tolerant, let alone respectful, of each other’s views.  One never knows what happens over lifetimes.  Sixth, since you seem to avoid it, I guess you are not familiar with Rav’s views on IDF service as expressed once orally.

        • mycroft says:

          “Dr Bill-RYBS was equally proud of all of his grandchildren-whether they served in the IDF or were Charedi. Noone on this list is even remotely qualified to say otherwise.”

          “RYBS was equally proud of all of his grandchildren”

          On what basis do you know how the Rav felt about each individual grandchild.

          • mycroft says:

            “are based on the hespedim”

            Acharei Mos Kedoshim Emor. Hespedim are not an accurate source of objective historical info about anyone.

             

          • Steve Brizel says:

            I have no reason to doubt the Midas HaEmes of any of the Talmidei Chachamim whose words about R Moshe Twersky ZL HaShem Yimkam Damo I either read or heard in various articles or hespedim. Noone has said anything to the contrary. In the Torah world, hespedim are an especially accurate source of information about Talmidei Chachamim, notwithstanding your invocation of certain Parshiyos in Sefer Vayikra.

          • mycroft says:

            “are based on the hespedim”

             

            Acharei Mos Kedoshim Emor. Hespedim are not an accurate source of objective historical info about anyone.

             

             

            I have no reason to doubt the Midas HaEmes of any of the Talmidei Chachamim whose words about R Moshe Twersky ZL HaShem Yimkam Damo I either read or heard in various articles or hespedim.” Noone has said anything to the contrary. In the Torah world, hespedim are an especially accurate source of information about Talmidei Chachamim,”

            Hespedim are not in general accurate scholarly evaluations of the niftar. Most people/gdolim included believe it is not the place for a dispassionate analysis of the niftar.

            BTW-I was in Israel at the time of the murder and attended the levaya and was menachem avel.

             

            notwithstanding your invocation of certain Parshiyos in Sefer Vayikr

  10. Steve Brizel says:

    Alex wrote:

    “Now, in certain respects, some things which I value have been lost in the process. Not totally lost, but reduced… I would hope that something of that spirit which animated some of us here, back in the 60s and 70s, would be reinvigorated, and that the Torah U’madda ideology and reality would be felt more powerfully than it is felt today.”

    I would suggest that a far more complete statement by RAL can be found in the YU Judaica Book where RAL ZL applauded the many positive changes in the RIETS Beis Medrash since his days in the 1950s.

  11. mavin says:

    The bottom line is that this yitz greenberg apikorus should be put into cherem.  It is hard to believe that someone who admits to such blatant views of Torah could have the gall to call himself ‘orthodox’ – well, maybe an orthodox apikorus!

    It’s one thing to believe and do as you please (that is between him and G-D) but to be a ‘machte’, added to his being a choteh, is purely sinful.

    • dr. bill says:

      that he should be put in cherem is unclear; that you are halakhically incapable of judging is clear.

  12. Yehoshua Greenberg says:

    MYCROFT

     

    “the issue of current YU rabbeim on TUM vs that of the Rav is not fully addressed”

     

     

    It can’t be- most of the current leaders of RIETS IMO fit into those who the Rav described essentially as those who would listen to him  in a shiur at all hours of the day but believed in their hearts the Rav was an apikorus.
    The claim that ‘most of the current leaders of RIETS fit into those who the Rav described essentially as those who would listen to him… but believed in their hearts the Rav was an apikorus’ is completely and totally, utterly ridiculous. It is fair to say that the current leaders of RIETS include Rabbis Schachter, Willig, Rosensweig, Twersky, and Reichman. I have listened to thousands of hours of shiurim from Rav Schachter and hundreds of hours from Rav Willig and Rav Reichman. Never has there been a hint of anything like that against the Rav, God forbid. They quote the Rav’s hashkafic comments consistently. They don’t emphasize the Rav’s involvement in secular studies, but where relevant they discuss gaining from secular studies. Rav Schachter gave a q&a around 10 years ago at Gush Etzion where he discussed what there is to gain from secular studies. To think, let alone write, that Rav Schachter and/or Rav Willig, and/or Rav Reichman view the Rav as an apikorus is utterly ridiculous. It goes without saying the same applies to Rabbis Rosensweig and Twersky.
    This doesn’t mean they agree with everything in hashkafa the Rav said or held. But for that matter, neither did Rav Lichtenstein zt”l. Rav Lichtenstein’s attitude towards celebrating Thanksgiving was pareve, at best, and it is well known the Rav celebrated Thanksgiving to the point of changing the time of shiur. Rav Lichtenstein publicly addressed this difference with the Rav.
    The Rav’s comment was made in the 70’s. There were several leading talmidim of that era who had a more chareidi/yeshivish hashkafa, and they later moved on to open those types of yeshivas.
    Mycrofts’s claim that the comment of the Rav applies to ‘most of the current leaders of RIETS’ is utterly ridiculous in connection with the present RY of RIETS.
    Regarding the comments of Dr. Lichtenstein, it is well known that the strongest comments which she quotes were made by one or two RIETS faculty who are no longer there. None of the present faculty members, who were the Rav’s talmidim and knew the Rav, talk in anything close to the language that Dr. Lichtenstein quotes.
    Mycroft repeatedly refers to Dr. Lichtenstein’s comments and gives the impression that the extreme comments she quotes somehow fit with the present faculty. That is just not true.
    It is true that the most of the present RY do not focus on general culture as much. There has been a general trend to focus less on the humanities and more on computers, accounting, finance, and the like. That trend applies to YU as well.
    The core of the Rav’s hashkafa, which focused on limud Torah, ameilus baTorah, the mesorah, etc.. is certainly taught by the present RY.

     

    • dr. bill says:

      revisionists always claim they are not.  i have no problem arguing that times have changed, needs are different, the Rav ztl was mistaken, etc.  but to claim strict adherence to his derech by those who are not is sad, on both the right and the left.  it is not worth arguing; quoting his daughter or SIL ztl is clearly inadequate in the opinion of those who know better.

      and BTW when the Rav talked about being seen as an apikores, he was obviously exaggerating, as he would do on occasion when making a point.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Dr Bill wrote in part:

        “and BTW when the Rav talked about being seen as an apikores, he was obviously exaggerating, as he would do on occasion when making a point”

        Then, the use of the comment by RYBS as a wedge point against the purported POV of the RY of RIETS has no purpose other than to be trotted out by some who think that RYBS was first and foremost devotee of synthesis or TuM, when, in fact, no such documentation exists in any of  RYBS’s published writings or tapes for such a proposition

        • dr. bill says:

          except for those who visited the second floor of his house, or read/attended his graduate school lectures on Jewish philosophy, or have even an inkling of what the Halakhic Mind or Ethical Man might be about, or observed the education of his children and his older grandchildren, or talked with him about graduate studies, etc. etc.

          and do really think he was being serious that he thought his students thought he was an apikores?  he never talked about many things that are obvious to anyone at all familiar with his attitude; in retrospect, I guess he should have realized that there would quickly come a generation that really did not know (all of) Yosef!  Thankfully, RAL ztl will be harder to distort.

          • mycroft says:

            ”  he never talked about many things that are obvious to anyone at all familiar with his attitude;”

            I would change ” never talked”

            to apparently never talked to some of his best students from shiur who did not deal with him in other contexts. The Rav for decades paskened for the RCA and was effectively in charge of the non Chassidic Boston community. There is a record but for some reason it appears that RIETS is in general not interested in what he did.

            “in retrospect, I guess he should have realized that there would quickly come a generation that really did not know (all of) Yosef!”

            he should have realized that his students who exaggerating might think of him as an apikores would certainly before shloshim distort his hashkafa. Probably to bring him to agree with the general yeshivish world.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Which older grandchildren? R Moshe Twersky ZL, HaShem Yimkam Damo and Yivadleinu Lchaim R Mayer Lichtenstein who RYBS spent many of his Shabbosim in Boston learning with or R Yitzchak Lichtenstein?

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Dr. Bill wrote in relevant part:”except for those who visited the second floor of his house, or read/attended his graduate school lectures on Jewish philosophy, or have even an inkling of what the Halakhic Mind or Ethical Man might be about”Obviously, the discussion is that of Ikar and Tafel when discussing RYBS’s legacy, but to claim that the above trumps the shiurim and drashos requires analysis as to the intended audience and the purpose of the hashkafic writings in comparison to the audience intended to the purpose of the shiurim and drashos .Yet, all had a common goal-demonstrating the profundity and depth of Torah in the 20th Century.

          • dr. bill says:

            Steve Brizel, AFAIK, Rav Moshe Twersky HYD went to harvard as did his brother.  one of his cousins told me that his children were incredulous when told about their father attending college; no doubt revisionism.  RAL ztl’s children grew up in Israel.  Unlike others who you are fond of quoting who published the Rav’s oral remarks, try finding out the Rav ztl’s attitude about his grandchildren serving in the IDF heard by more authoritative and respectful sources.

          • mycroft says:

            ,” AFAIK, Rav Moshe Twersky HYD went to harvard as did his brother.”

            As of course Zipporah Rosenblatt -their sister went to Harvard.

            Both The Rav’s sons-in-laws-received a Phd  from Harvard. Rabbi I Twersky also went their as an undergraduate.

            It is very difficult to find close Boston relatives of the Rav without a Harvard connection.

      • mycroft says:

        “revisionists always claim they are not.  i have no problem arguing that times have changed, needs are different, the Rav ztl was mistaken, etc.  but to claim strict adherence to his derech by those who are not is sad, on both the right and the left.”

        AGREED!!!

        “and BTW when the Rav talked about being seen as an apikores, he was obviously exaggerating, as he would do on occasion when making a point.”

        Note my post which by time submitted after yours but I did not see yours when I wrote the following:

        “Who do you believe were the students who would go in the middle of the night to hear the Ravs torah but according to the Rav believed in their hearts that he was an apikorus. BTW-IMO the use of term apikorus is hyperbole by the Rav-I don’t believe that the talmidime who reject the Ravs hashkafa literally believe that he was an apikous-but they clearly do not accept his hashkafa as Dr Lichtenstein wrote.”

    • mycroft says:

      Yehoshua Greenberg wrote:

      “Mycrofts’s claim that the comment of the Rav applies to ‘most of the current leaders of RIETS’ is utterly ridiculous in connection with the present RY of RIETS.
      Regarding the comments of Dr. Lichtenstein, it is well known that the strongest comments which she quotes were made by one or two RIETS faculty who are no longer there”

      Dr. Lichtenstein’s statement refers to” a number of faculty members or former faculty members at RIETS, who have not only turned their backs on the complex worldview the Rov” includes specifically faculty members or former faculty members-includes present faculty members.

      The quote “The claim that ‘most of the current leaders of RIETS fit into those who the Rav described essentially as those who would listen to him… but believed in their hearts the Rav was an apikorus’ is completely and totally, utterly ridiculous.”

      Who do you believe were the students who would go in the middle of the night to hear the Ravs torah but according to the Rav believed in their hearts that he was an apikorus. BTW-IMO the use of term apikorus is hyperbole by the Rav-I don’t believe that the talmidime who reject the Ravs hashkafa literally believe that he was an apikous-but they clearly do not accept his hashkafa as Dr Lichtenstein wrote. For what its worth I certainly believe that the Ravs hashkafa is in general much closer to the current RIETS RY than it is to RYG or even the vast majority of OO. That should not mean to say that I believe the Ravs hashkafa is closer to those current RY than the average musmachs hashkafa from the 40s to the 60s.

      “Regarding the comments of Dr. Lichtenstein, it is well known that the strongest comments which she quotes were made by one or two RIETS faculty who are no longer there”

      Probably agree-it was 1968!! when I first heard a comment by Dr. Lichtenstein as an aside referring to one of those who I believe you were referring to

      . “None of the present faculty members, who were the Rav’s talmidim and knew the Rav,”-not sure I agree- I  heard a current RY say at a  shloshim for the Rav refer to the “fact” that everyone knows the Rav was not a baki in Shabbos-that was a comment spoken at a packed shloshim probably 600-700 in attendance-so one could have heard non respectful comments from even current RY. In fairness at other times the same person has spoken respectful and other times not so much about the Rav.

       

      “she quotes somehow fit with the present faculty. That is just not true.
      It is true that the most of the present RY do not focus on general culture as much. There has been a general trend to focus less on the humanities and more on computers, accounting, finance, and the like. That trend applies to YU as well.”

      Disagree IMO the current faculty believe in general believes in  torah uparnassah which fits in with computers, accounting etc not learning secular studies for its own sake. Of course the Rav would hold that Torah is primary over secular studies.

      “The core of the Rav’s hashkafa, which focused on limud Torah, ameilus baTorah, the mesorah, etc.. is certainly taught by the present RY”

      Agreed-but I am emphasizing the Ravs differences with other RY and gdolim-obviously that core is central to all of us whether MO . those from BMG etc. To the extent that we all share that as central is not what makes the Rav unique-to pretend that he was identical with Rav Moshe, Rav Hutner, Rav Kotler is just not true. That all share what you emphasize is trivially true. It is the differences which are under discussion.

       

       

       

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Perhaps, in 2016, celebrating what you term the differences is akin to Brelaver Chasidim going to Uman and searching for R Nachman of Breslav ZL, an exercise that could be be better devoted to learning the legacy that RYBS left behind and has been set forth in the many sefarim , tapes, and books devoted to the same.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Take a look at R Rakkaftet Vol. 2, P.198-where RYBS explores why Nezikin had to be supplemented by learning such Masectos as Shabbos , Chulin , Nidah and Mikvos in contrast to his study of Aliu Metzios, Shanyim Ochzin and Mreubah as a young boy. That probably was what the speaker in question was referring to,

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Mycroft wrote in part:

        “To the extent that we all share that as central is not what makes the Rav unique-to pretend that he was identical with Rav Moshe, Rav Hutner, Rav Kotler is just not true”

        They were all Gdolei Yisrael -who had strong personal relationships with each other despite disagreements on issues of Hashkafa. That was and is the bottom line.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Excellent comment!

  13. Steve Brizel says:

    I stand corrected. The comment of Betty Friedan that I have mentioned in this discussion  is in The Feminist Mystique.

  14. Steve Brizel says:

    Mycroft wrote in part:

    “I quote Dr Lichtenstein because I am citing a published work-I do not make it a habit of quoting people by name who stated something orally to me -they may have  personal reasons to not publish such statements and I respect that. There are others who I have heard similar statements from.”

    Such a “midas chasidus” lends your POV IMO problematic-Opinions that lack the weight of a name in any context aren’t worth an awful lot.

    • mycroft says:

      I have commented for about a decade. Writers have credibility depending on the reader. Those who trust me will believe me-those who don’t won’t. BTW-the same would apply to all people, Steve , me, RYG, RHS, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Dr Bill, RYBS etc

  15. Source says:

    ” including his stance on the indispensable and central role of Midrash when learning Biblical narratives” source?

  16. Steve Brizel says:

    Mycroft wrote and agreed with Dr Bill’s suggestion as follows:

    ”  he never talked about many things that are obvious to anyone at all familiar with his attitude;”

    I would change ” never talked”

    to apparently never talked to some of his best students from shiur who did not deal with him in other contexts. The Rav for decades paskened for the RCA and was effectively in charge of the non Chassidic Boston community. There is a record but for some reason it appears that RIETS is in general not interested in what he did.”

    That is no chiddush,.RYBS issued varying Piskei Halacha based on who was asking him questions and the level of observance of the person posing the query,whether in Boston or YU. Comparing the two would make for a nice graduate school article or book. Yet, RYBS was hardly the only Talmid Chacham and Gadol who answered halachic quereis in such a matter.

    • mycroft says:

      Or were the comments in shiur always intended as psak-or shiur chakiras. I agree with the idea that comparing as much data that we have about the Rav is essential-his Torah and ideas were not limited to the less than 400  hours of shiur he gave every year at YU

      • Steve Brizel says:

        That’s exactly why a comparison between the Piskei Halacha that he gave the relatively unletttered and not so observant Yidden of Boston should be contrasted and compared with what was transmitted to his Talmidim , where RYBS as RY was involved in the transmission of TSBP in the full sense of the word, as opposed to merely answering bread and butter halachic inquiries. Dismissing what happened in the shiur as either “chakiras”, or not being Psak ignores the many halachic inquiries and Piskei Halacha that RYBS rendered at YU. Ask anyone who was a talmid in the shiur who asked RYBS any query of a halacha lmaaseh nature-they will tell you that it was a psak-not a theretical answer to a theoretical question-and in many instances, the answer was almost the opposite of an identical question posed by a Baal HaBayis in Boston who neither was on the same level of observance nor learning as the talmid in NY.

        • mycroft says:

          “where RYBS as RY was involved in the transmission of TSBP in the full sense of the word, as opposed to merely answering bread and butter halachic inquiries. ”

          In general I am not referring to  the Rav’s answer to baal battim-I am referring to theRav as an active posek for decades for Rabbonim-these in general were not bread and butter halachik questions. People forget that in the Ravs heyday in Boston the schuls that he would visit and speak twice a year or so had Rabbonim who in general were the people who would ask the Rav questions. Maimonides minyan was relatively small-gabbaim HS students-of course Levi was obvious choice.

          “Dismissing what happened in the shiur as either “chakiras”, or not being Psak”

          I got the idea from a query concerning something written about the Ravs position on something[-BTW not a political one-written by at least a good talmid of the Rav-] by someone who knew the Rav from a YU perspective. This person who was related to the Rav stated I don’t know what chakiras he stated in shiur but-now paraphrasing to avoid quoting  that would  limit who could have said the quote-that was not his practice. That has been major in my mind ever since I heard it about a decade and a half ago.

          That is the reason I do not attack anyone as making up material on the Rav when quoting a shiur or learning conversation with the Rav because the Rav could easily give a chakira different than his halacha lemaaseh beliefs. One should always attempt to understand the Ravs statements and consider them in light of halacha lemaaseh practice.

          ignores the many halachic inquiries and Piskei Halacha that RYBS rendered at YU. “Ask anyone who was a talmid in the shiur who asked RYBS any query of a halacha lmaaseh nature-they will tell you that it was a psak-not a theretical answer to a theoretical question-and in many instances, the answer was almost the opposite of an identical question posed by a Baal HaBayis in Boston who neither was on the same level of observance nor learning as the talmid in NY.”

          The issue is really the different message given to Rabbonim in practice and the messages recorded in shiurim and elsewhere by great talmeidei chachamim by many RIETs  faculty.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            We disagree-RYBS was speaking to two wholly different audiences in two very diffferent venues who he addressed in completely different manners. I think that your objection  is that some of the RY in RIETs don’t have PhDs, have beards and their wives cover their hair.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Mycroft wrote:
            “The issue is really the different message given to Rabbonim in practice and the messages recorded in shiurim and elsewhere by great talmeidei chachamim by many RIETs  faculty”

            That requires a simple explanation-different people based on their levels of education and observance warrant different answers to the same question. People who are barely observant and not very knowledgeable should not be given the same answers as Bnei Torah who are far more observant and knowledgeable. Many of RMF’s teshuvos reflect the difference between “Shomrei Torah UMitzvos” and “Bnei Torah”.

          • mycroft says:

            “We disagree-RYBS was speaking to two wholly different audiences in two very diffferent venues who he addressed in completely different manners.”

            Assuming arguendo you are correct that would mean that it is precisely what the Rav answered for the general Jewish population is relevant for the general population not what he told certain RY.

            “I think that your objection  is that some of the RY in RIETs don’t have PhDs, have beards and their wives cover their hair.”

            Most of the shiurim I listen to on YU Torah are from non Phds. As far as wives cover hair-what does that mean-BTW two people who I have quoted repeatedly on the revisionism of RIETS under current RY-either they are a woman who covered their hair or their wife covers their hair.

            Beards-do you require a full beard to be considered a beard or does the Ravs facial covering satisfy your beard criteria.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        There you go again-the answer is obvious-different answers for different people with different levels of observance and learning. You don’t need a PhD to figure that out.

        • mycroft says:

          No it is halacha lemaaseh for general Jewish population-versus chakirot in learning. The Rav himself practiced lemaaseh sometimes different than chakiras quoted in his name even by great talmeidei chachamim.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            One  more time-different people who ask the same halachic queries but who have vastly different levels in education and observance deserve vastly different answers. take a look at how RYBS described the Boston of the 1930s and 1940s-it was hardly a knowledgeable or observant community.

          • mycroft says:

            “take a look at how RYBS described the Boston of the 1930s and 1940s-it was hardly a knowledgeable or observant community.”

            Take a look at Boston-which served essentially everyplace  except for Sharon in Metro Boston. in the 1980s or the UWS in the 1980s -how many people used the mikvah during a month.  Sadly outside of a few areas Steve-which I believe include the areas where we both live- Mikvah usage is very limited.

            The Boston area is much more typical of Jewish populations than are Washington Heights, Passaic, Boro  Park, Williamsburg, Kew Gardens, Monsey, Lakewood ,  5 Towns etc.

  17. Steve Brizel says:

    Those interested in seeling which Masectos RYBS learned with his father R Moshe ZL: can look in R Rakkafet’s book, Vol.1 which sets forth a long list-but not Masecta Shabbos. 

    • mycroft says:

      Certainly there was a big contrast in what the Rav left from his time growing up to Boston-BTW was there really such a big contrast between Berlin and Boston. What I have objected to is the exaggeration by some such as the statement that there were only 6 shomer Shabbos Jews in Boston when the Rav came there. To paraphrase the Cames camp song MaimonidesDay Camp from roughly  6 decades ago Emes attah hu rishon

  18. Steve Brizel says:

    It is important and bears stressing that RYBS operated as the rav of non Chadisish Boston , which I think would be more properly defined as the Brooklline-Maimonides community and was dealing with Baale Batim who he himself described neither as overly learned nor meticulously observant. In NY, as RY of RIETS, the talmidim were of a far higher level in terms of learning and observance.

    It is also factually incorrect to state that the RY of RIETS do not have respect for RYBS’s talmidim who are rabbanim. I have seen this respect in action and it is a classical example of how to fulfil Mipneii Saivah Takum.

    • mycroft says:

      “RYBS operated as the rav of non Chadisish Boston , which I think would be more properly defined as the Brooklline-Maimonides community”

      much more than Brookline and Maimonides

      “and was dealing with Baale Batim who he himself described neither as overly learned nor meticulously observant.”

      IMO they were similar to baal batim around the US including NY-if anything marginally more educated than average. Remember the Rav was far from staying within the ivory towers of academe.

      • Reb Yid says:

        IMO they were similar to baal batim around the US including NY-if anything marginally more educated than average.

        Certainly my impression after having lived in a good number of US cities, including NY and Boston.

        Education is a highly valued commodity in general in the Boston area.  In addition, the number of Jewish day schools that exist in the metro area relative to the overall Jewish population is quite impressive–most other US Jewish communities fall short of Boston in this regard.

        • mycroft says:

          It is certainly worth exploring why the myth of the Rav ruling like he did in Boston is due to “special circumstances of Boston”. Who invited the Rav to come to Boston? The “Chevra Shas”.

          I once heard a false statement put out on a YU Torah shiur that there were only 6 shomer Shabbos people in Boston when the Rav came there-and 3 were his future brothers-in-laws. Famous families that reach more than 3 -were the Twersky family-future muchatinim of the Rav, the Horowitz-Bostoner Rebbe-, the Krinsky’s of Lubavitch fame. I could name far more and this is more than 80 years after the fact.

          This is probably just part of the attempt at revisionism of the Rav. To say the Rav never meant what he advocated it was a horaas shaah for rare circumstances. The playbook for that in many respects has followed the revisionism of SRH. I would be curious as to other explanations for the attempt to change history of Boston.

           

          • mycroft says:

            “How many of those Baale Batim enrolled their children in Maimonides, which you yourself describe as a small community? How many other such schools existed and exist at the present, including a BY and a Kollel as well ?”

            Read Farber’s book on Maimonides-within a few years of Maimonides founding in late 30s there were other schools founded. I have not visited the Boston area in over a decade.

            I am much more familiar with the Boston Jewish community during the 20th century than during the 19th or 21st centuries. The Ravs leadership time spanned about 50 years from the early 30s to the early 80s. If one wants to reject the Rav or limit him to the Boston area-be honest about it-don’t state nonsense well there were 6 shomer shabbos families in Boston when the Rav came. Read the Ravs letters where he was in favor of Talmud education for women/teenage girls. The Rav was quite different than his grandfather, if the current RY want to distance themselves from the Ravs hashkafa I have no problem but state that they are doing that.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Take a look at R Rakkafet’s book, Vol.2, Pp 13-16,32,80-85,238, and Dr Alvin Schiff’s “Personal Glimpses into the Persona of the Rav in “Mentor of Generations” at pp 16-21 which describes the Boston community in detail, which Dr Schiff stated that “except for those who filled the synagogues each Shabbat and yom Tov, and the members of the Chevra Shas study groups, most of the Jewish families, particularly the young adults and youth were not observant.” Dr Schiff mentions that Boston had a well developed Talmud Torah system , but very few students continued on a Hebrew High School program, why he viewed the educational necessity of an all day Jewish environment for Jewish general studies led to the founding of  Maimonides, and its coed nature, which in Dr Schiff’s view RYBS did not view as a halachic matter, but rather “an educational matter depending on the nature of the Jewish community that the school served”,  as well as the public shiurim on many Shabbosim. Dr Schiff stated that RYBS felt that it “was extremely important for Jewish women in America to have sound training in Judaic studies because, as mothers, they would as much or more influence that the fathers on the Jewish behavior of their progeny.”

          • Steve Brizel says:

            I think that what Mycroft has been alluding to with respect to the unique role of RYBS in building a Torah community in Boston can also be found in “The Rov: A Memoir”, by Nathan Epstein at Pp 29-37 of “Mentor of Generations”, and Jeffrey R Woolf’s evocative memoir of the Motzaei Shabbos “Thought” shiur and Sunday morning Chevra Shas shiur at Pp. 315-318 of the same volume.

        • Steve Brizel says:

          How many of those Baale Batim enrolled their children in Maimonides, which you yourself describe as a small community? How many other such schools existed and exist at the present, including a BY and a Kollel as well ?How many had a K-smicha level Torah education?

          • mycroft says:

            There were many products of Boston talmud Torahs who went on to 15 hour a weeks Hebrew High School and many went on to Hebrew College while attending secular universities. An example of such a product is Rav Moshe Twersky’s HYD father RD Isadore (Yitzchak) Twersky ZT”L. There were others.

        • Steve Brizel says:

          a secular education has always been a “highly valued commodity in general in the Boston area” unless you feel more confident in a world run by the Boston phone book than the Harvard faculty, to paraphrase Wm F. Buckley.

          • Mycroft says:

            The vast majority of Boston Jews were not involved in harvard-BU Northeastern enrolled far more local Jews. It is a myth that the Boston Jewish community was Harvard.

      • dr. bill says:

        i recall what Dr. Grach wrote about his father’s descriptions of the jews he encountered when he came to Boston; you are obviously correct.  I think you could fit chassidic Boston in the 40s/50s into a few old phone booths.

        • mycroft says:

          What one had when the Rav came to Boston were a lot of Jews who associated with Orthodoxy belonging to schuls but also working on Shabbos. To a great extent that disappeared after the Jewish migration/expulsion from Roxbury/Dorchester. There were far more Jews attending synagogues in those locations in the 40s/early50s than can be found in all Metro Boston today-including Sharon, Newton, Brookline etc. It is similar to NY area Victor Geller documents how there are much fewer synagogues in NYarea every decade since 1940s until he wrote around 2000. There was much more kosher meat sold in 1940 than there is today. It is a very complex story the changes and reasons for it

          • Steve Brizel says:

            “Jews attending synagogues”, which is a nice sociological rubric, should never be confused with a definition of a Shomer Torah UMitzvos. There are far more fully committed Jews today than in the 1940s thanks to the easy availability of Kosher food ,  the realization that Shabbos observance is a legally protected civil right and legitimate expression of ethnicity and commitment to Torah study and observance defines a Torah committed individual and the realization that a K-grave emphasis on education as defined by the Torah reinforced by summer camps and informal education and the family,and not the public schools and values therein, and being part of a community are what defines Jewish continuity. IOW, Torah Avodah and Gmilous Chesed are the eternally correct means of defining Jewish continuity.

            Showing up on Shabbos morning and going to work has ceased to be a definition of a committment to Torah and mitzvos for decades-and not just in Boston.Regardless of who invited RYBS to move to Boston, RYBS described the then extant Boston Jewish community as hardly being a community where the majority were Shomrei Torah UMitzvos. IIRC, RYBS mentioned the huge contrast between what he left in Europe and encountered in Boston and even wondered whether he had made the right decision, until RYBs realized that if he had stayed in Europe, he might not ever made it to the US R”L.  The bottom line remains that whatever community was the raw material for what RYBS built in Boston, it was a vastly different community in terms of committment and educational level than his talmidim in RIETS in his shiur. Take a look at RYBS’s comparison and contrast of R Chaim Heller ZL and the Baalei Batim of Manhattan’s UWS, and RYBS’s own reaction to Baale Tzedaka that didn’t have a Rambam in the house.

          • mycroft says:

            “. There are far more fully committed Jews today than in the 1940s thanks to the easy availability of Kosher food”

            There is less Kosher meat eaten today in the US than 1940-more other Kosher Products due to technological changes-much easier for products today to be kosher

  19. SDK says:

    To claim that mid-century, modern, American Jews were “lax in their Orthodoxy” is ahistorical.  COMPARED TO the modern Orthodox Jews today, who generally benefit from 12 years of Jewish day school education and secular American universities with fully kosher dining halls, their standards may seem lax.  But in their day, their standards WERE the standards of American Orthodoxy.

    Community standards are created by the community.  The community at that time did not necessarily daaven every day, did sometimes drive to shul and may have eaten dairy in non-kosher restaurants. That was American Orthodoxy, just like the rabbis of the Talmud who ate chicken with milk, the cohanim of the Second Temple who held by Shammai, the medieval Jews who spent much of their time worrying about demons, and the Jews who almost stopped laying tefillin.  You cannot get around your history by claiming that the Jews who preceded you were heretics.  They fully enacted the standards of their day while you are in turn a product of your times.

    Had you grown up in the 1920s or 1940s, you do not know what kind of a Jew you would be or what restaurants you would eat in.  To judge your grandparents and their communities so harshly is almost breathtakingly rude.

    This is not an argument about right vs. wrong. lax vs. strict, or observance vs. non-observance.  It is an argument about the best path forward for modern Orthodoxy in a different historical era.

    In the time since the Rav, many things, such as daavening fully before going to your professional job with flexible hours, buying strictly kosher food, observing shabbat, and being visibly Jewish have become infinitely easier.  And this is largely because the previous generations of American Jews made enough money in America by being lax on such issues to allow their children and grandchildren to be machmir.  You stand on their shoulders financially.  It is that wealth — achieved by means that today are considered communal violations — that allows you to have such high standards.

    Other things in the American secular world, such as women’s rights, women’s dress, gay marriage, and religious pluralism have made life harder for modern Orthodox Jews.  Being “modern” in the 1930s or the 1940s did not require compromise in Jewish law on such issues.

    The Rav was successful at closing many gaps between modernity in his day and Torah in his day.  He also identified gaps that he felt should not be closed.  Modern Orthodoxy is defined by the desire to draw those columns on your piece of paper at all — more than by which items go where.

    Both your position at R. Greenberg’s position are properly identified as children of the Rav because you are both part of the Rav’s project — to close the right gaps between Torah and modernity and to leave other gaps untouched.  You simply differ in your understanding of which gaps should be closed.

    You are very quick to exclude people from your community, quick to say who is a heretic, and quick to judgment on the right path forward for all frum Jews.

    May you receive the same consideration from your grandchildren that you have offered to your elders here.

     

    • Mycroft says:

      Regarding that one considers someone his Rebbe Muvhak is a meaningless claim. At times Rabbi David Hartman certainly considered himself a Talmud of the Rav. Rabbi Steve Riskin certainly does. Thus, that R Moshe TWERSKY considered himself as having the Rav as his Rebbe Muvhak is not dispositive as to his hashkafa agreeing with the Rav

  20. Steve Brizel says:

    Dr Bill wrote in relevant part:

    “AFAIK, Rav Moshe Twersky HYD went to harvard” but you fail to mention that R Moshe Twersky ZL HYD turned down an opportunity to do graduate work at Harvard and instead devoted every  second of his life to Limud HaTorah and being a Mlamed Torah LAmo Yisrael. 

    • dr. bill says:

      Read on.  I also said I did not know of his existence until AFTER he was killed.  I only told you what I heard from a cousin about his conversation with his children that was later related to me.  Sorry i did not provide you more biographic detail, but i try to talk about what i know.

    • mycroft says:

      We are discussing the Rav. It is no secret that the Rav,his children and sons-in-law had a much more favorable approach to secular education than Rav Moshe Twersky HYD.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Mycroft-The discussion at hand was the Gadlus BaTorah of R Moshe Twersky ZL HaShem Yimkam Damo as a Talmid Chacham. I stand by what I heard from R Genack, R Reichman and R Kahn, all of whom are eminent talmidim muvhakim of RYBS, in their recollections of how RTBS described R Moshe Twersky ZL and his Hasmadah BaTorah, and how R Moshe Twersky ZL viewed RYBS as his rebbe muvhak , and  tore  kriyah upon the Petirah of RYBS.

        Dr Bill-I would also be at a loss if I mentioned that R Y Lichtenstein , one of RAL ZL’s sons is the author of a Haggadah based on some of RYBS’s Torah that is called Siach HaGrid . IIRC, R Y Lichtenstein also may have been the co-editor of a sefer consisting of R Chaim Brisker’s notes on BK, BM and BB, that was a precursor and/or basis for Chiddushei R Chaim HaLevi ,as well. The inauguration of R Y Lichtenstein as a rav in Monsey was noted in the Yated with full mention of the fact that he was the son of RAL ZL together with a picture of RAL ZL and RYL, as well as a grandson of RYBS, the RY of RIETS. It is hard to believe that someone who never fails to mention his familiarity with the full library of RYBS ( as if that was some sort of state secret or private e-mail server to conduct federal business) was as unfamiliar with all of RYBS’s grandchildren, as you have steadfastly maintained in your posts on this thread.

        • dr. bill says:

          I am  not even familiar with two of RAL ztl’s children; don’t even know their names, sorry.  I also never claimed familiarity with all of the Rav ztl’s library; i did hear a description of what was on the second floor.  I was trained to reason and write precisely; do me the courtesy of at least trying to read that way.

          • Steve Brizel says:

             Dr Bill wrote in relevant part:

            “I also never claimed familiarity with all of the Rav ztl’s library; i did hear a description of what was on the second floor.  I was trained to reason and write precisely; do me the courtesy of at least trying to read that way.”

            If you have no first hand knowledge as to that portion of the library of RYBS, then you should have said so up front, rather than relying on a description of the same from a third party. Why continually invoke that “fact” of which you apparently lack either  a reasonable and precise nature of the contents thereof?

        • mycroft says:

          There is no doubt that R Moshe Twersky had great hasmadah batorah. There is also no doubt that he was a mensch-for example invited to a wedding with Rabanus Hechsher he wouldn’t eat-BUT despite replying chupah only stayed for the entire meal to be mesameach chasan vchalah.

          Thar R Moshe Twersky had different hashkafot than his grandfather is as obvious that his grandfather had different hashkafot from his grandfather R Hayyim Brisker.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Regardless of hashkafic issues, R Moshe Twersky ZL HaShem Yimkam Damo viewed RYBS as his rebbe muvhak.

  21. Steve Brizel says:

    Dr Bill wrote in part:

    “First, until his tragic death, I did not even know R. Twersky HYD even existed, much less ever comment on him specifically.  Second, I do not consider charging TOMO or rabbi Meiselman with revisionism is anything but defending the memory of the Rav ztl.   IIRC, YU deleted TOMO from its program in Israel, despite its rabbis and their genealogy.  Third, I have often complemented R. Shurkin, despite his silly description of the Rav of the Rav of Boston, omitting any mention of RIETS/YU.  Fourth, I remember a phrase I heard 50 years ago from RAL ztl, “don’t confuse tolerance for a lack of principle.”  My principles often make me intolerant of what I see as very, very wrong, regardless of who might disagree.  Fifth, Rebbi Meir learned with Acher; don’t assume that made them tolerant, let alone respectful, of each other’s views”

    Look at your comments-they are consistently antagonist to anyone who does not share your POV of RYBS, especially of they are Charedi and family members. I think that YU made a mistake in acting in a PC way about TOMO, and that R Shurkin’s sefarim, regardless of the shaar blatt, which I emended, are superb In all of your comments about RYBS, one has to conduct a major search for anything positive about TOMO, where R Moshe Twersky HaShem Yimkam Damo was a R9sh Kollel. Perhaps, instead of hiding behind comments of RAL ZL, who was very critical of RYG,  you ought to look at those who you consider to be role models and ask them to do teshuvah for their misleading POVs, which was what R Meir did as long as Acher was alive.

    • dr. bill says:

      thank you for elevating my remarks to the top of the comments list.  i doubt you know who my role models are; most now live through their legacy of writings and family.  btw you omitted number six; wonder why.  RAL ztl was critical of viewpoints much more often than individuals.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        IMO, who and what you emphasize in your threads, as in the case of everyone who posts here , speaks volumes. As far as RAL ZL is concerned, see the YU Judaica book for his correspondence with RYG and his strong critique and rebuke of RYG and his POV.

        FWIW, R Mordechai Feurstein, in “Mentor of Generations” at Pages 250-257, in the course of describing RYBS’s “spirituality, piety and yiras shamayim”,  describes an incident in which a certain rav , who was in Berlin for medical treatment and was hosted by RYBS asked RYBS ” you are so immersed in Torah learning, how do you have time for the university” to which RYBS responded “when you put time into learning, I, too, put time into learning, And during the time you devote to discussing my going to university, I am busy attending classes”, as well as RYBS’s refusal to engage either in revenge or in the holding of grudges against his detractors-Midos that we could all do well to emulate.

        • mycroft says:

          The Rav was very careful in his dealings with non Orthodox clergy. He treated them as mistaken rather than evil. He had warm dealings with some of then-see Helfgots books for some examples.

           

  22. Steve Brizel says:

    Mycroft wrote in part:

    “Take a look at Boston-which served essentially everyplace  except for Sharon in Metro Boston. in the 1980s or the UWS in the 1980s -how many people used the mikvah during a month.  Sadly outside of a few areas Steve-which I believe include the areas where we both live- Mikvah usage is very limited.
    The Boston area is much more typical of Jewish populations than are Washington Heights, Passaic, Boro  Park, Williamsburg, Kew Gardens, Monsey, Lakewood ,  5 Towns etc.”

    Mikvah usage in general is limited to strongly committed Torah observant Jews, regardless of their communities . The question is definition -whether Orthodox is defined by showing up in shul or one’s being a Shomer Torah Umitzvos. The numbers of kids in schools, restaurants, stores, etc  in the communities that you viewed as atypical do not lie.

    • Mycroft says:

      Using your definition which may be accurate would sadly mean that the amount of  orthodox members of OU synagogues is a fraction of what they claim are Orthodox-outside of a few communities count the mik ah observance in US outside of Yeshivish communities

      • Steve Brizel says:

        I think that if you would spend some time in Teaneck, W Hempstead, the Greenspring section of Baltimore and the MO communities in Chicago, Miami , Atlanta and LA, the adherence to Mikvah by MO couples who were married in the 1970s to the date is far greater than in the past.

        • Mycroft says:

          We would need a census- which would be very easy. Find out the revenues of the mik ah divided by the charge.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            You are not including one factor in the census-Many families who because of age or because a wife is BShaah Tovah support the local mikvah as part of their Tzedaka. Again, school enrollments especially in terms of number of students per grade, restaurants, stores for the purchase of kosher food, etc, and the number of shuls in a neighorhood are criteria for the measuring of the vitality of an Orthodox community

          • mycroft says:

            You are the one who maintains that mikvah usage is essential for Orthodoxy. I agree that it is a very important mitzvah and one who rejects a mitzvah in principle certainly is not a believer in Orthodoxy. However, the Organized Orthodox community likes to claim more Orthodox Jews-thus would certainly claim by schul affiliation and school affiliation is a much larger number than mikvah participation.

            One can use my method to figure out mikvah use. A mikvah should differentiate per 990s the figures on different lines.

  23. langer says:

    for those who have witnessed r. greenberg in public, considering him orthodox is fiction indeed.

  24. Steve Brizel says:

    Mycroft wrote in part:

    “There were many products of Boston talmud Torahs who went on to 15 hour a weeks Hebrew High School and many went on to Hebrew College while attending secular universities. An example of such a product is Rav Moshe Twersky’s HYD father RD Isadore (Yitzchak) Twersky ZT”L. There were others.”

    Dr Schiff and others who grew up in Boston , who were quoted in the books that I cited and quoted from, state unequivocably that most products of Boston Talmud Torahs neither attended a Hebrew High school nor Hebrew College. R D Y Twersky ZL was clearly an exception to the rule.

    • Mycroft says:

      Dr TWERSKY is far from an exception. I can name many. Did most not continue with advanced Talmud Torah-no but BTW in that time period many day school grads did not continue to  Day Scool HS. In days  when public schools big issue was up the down staircase less physical need. To avoid public HS

      • Steve Brizel says:

        You agree with Dr Schiff who  states that most graduates, aside from R D Twersky ZL and the “many” that you allude to, did not go on to Hebrew HS or Hebrew College. Exceptions to the rule, no matter how prominent, do  not disprove the rule.

        • mycroft says:

          I do agree-but compare day school recods after keeping constant different parent bodies. Of course that study has’t happened.

          It is very likely that my mother A”H was Orthodoox only because she grew up in a period in her city wo a

          day school-thus she could be accepted as one who did go to Talmud Torahs-her parents could not have afforded day school tuition during the depression. Fortunately, for me she like many shomer Shabbos Talmud Torah students were accepted.

  25. Steve Brizel says:

    Mycroft wrote :

    :Regarding that one considers someone his Rebbe Muvhak is a meaningless claim. At times Rabbi David Hartman certainly considered himself a Talmud of the Rav. Rabbi Steve Riskin certainly does. Thus, that R Moshe TWERSKY considered himself as having the Rav as his Rebbe Muvhak is not dispositive as to his hashkafa agreeing with the Rav”

    Really? The Baalei Tosfos in BK clearly state that a Rebbe Muvhak is a rebbe who one learned “rov chachmaso UToraso” from. Don’t ever put R DH and R Riskin , who both once claimed to be talmidim of RYBS, but who both walked away decades ago, in the same boat as R Moshe Twersky ZL Hashem Yimkam Damo who R Genack how closely R Moshe mirrored him and how close he felt to him, stating, “Moshe is me.”

     

    • Mycroft says:

      Steve as I have written many times before a he sped is not a place for accurate historical truths. Clearly it is not appropriate to write a critical biography of anyone less than two years after dying al kid dish Hashem. But it should b clear that the reader can tell I disagree with your analysis you disagree with mine so TEKU

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