Larry Derfner Agrees with Jonathan Rosenblum

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15 Responses

  1. tzvee says:

    I’m shocked by the casual way the comparison is made. A few years before the State of Israel six million Jews were murdered by anti-Semites. Since 1948 in spite of the intense anti-Semitism remaining in the world after the defeat of the Nazis, in the Arab world, in the Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe, including all of the deaths due to wars and terrorism, I believe the total is 22,000.

    Why are you so hell-bent on proving one lifestyle better than another? The value of the State is military, political, ideological, diplomatic, material and spiritual. The value of Orthodoxy is intellectual, ritual and spiritual. It’s easier to measure the value that the State brings to Jews. It’s harder to measure the intangible aspects of Orthodoxy.

    The need to keep proving Orthodoxy better is certainly a turn-off – imagine if your neighbor kept telling you how his life was better than yours.

  2. Rabbi Zvi says:

    Don’t discount Mr Derfner so quickly, it sounds as if he is in the midst of some serious soul searching. Publicly airing his private musings will have an impact on himself and his immediate family, let alone other readers.

    Mr. Derfner has sown a seed.

  3. Lumpy Rutherford says:

    he need to keep proving Orthodoxy better is certainly a turn-off – imagine if your neighbor kept telling you how his life was better than yours.

    Secular Israelis do the same thing — at least in my experience. Your mileage may vary.

  4. Steve Brizel says:

    If Mr. Derfner was so certain about his own lifestyle and beliefs, he would not have penned an essay that compares the same with the faith -based life of his brother in law and sister in law. OTOH, none less than Rashi and Ramban maintained during the Crusades that even a completely Torah observant life in the Galus is basically the Jewish equivalent of spring training compared to the richness of a Torah based life in EY.

  5. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Rabbi Zvi, I think you’re on to something. Take a look at his column in today’s Jerusalem Post ( about Chareidim in the army. It’s a very sensitive treatment of a very hot topic.

  6. Toby Katz says:

    Since he described his sister-in-law and brother-in-law in Toronto with obvious respect and affection, it is clear that he did NOT mean “ultra-Orthodox” as a pejorative. You are taking offense where none was meant.

    Had he left off the prefix, “Orthodox” by itself would not quite have described where on the Orthodox spectrum his in-laws are. We don’t have a word in English, and he evidently felt that the Hebrew word “charedi” would not serve. If you don’t like the term he used, I wonder if you could come up with a better one?

  7. Eliezer Barzilai says:

    I agree that “Ultra-Orthodox” implies extremism, and I have never liked the expression. I suggest Old-style Orthodox or Arch Orthodox.

    I like Old-style Orthodox, since many of the distinctions are matters of style. Unless the G. Heileman Brewing Company has a copyright on the term “Old-Style.”

  8. YM says:

    Agree with Toby -whether or not we like it, it is either “Modern” or “Ultra”

  9. Menachem Lipkin says:

    “I like Old-style Orthodox”

    It’s not accurate. Today’s ultra-orthodoxy has little in common with orthdoxy of yore.

    Then again ultra is not necessarily accurate either since one can be MO and be just as “orhtodox” as an ultra.

    “Arch” has a negative spin, as in arch-enemey.

    Personally I think Yeshivaish is the best.

    Happy Yom Yerushalayim to all.

  10. Ahron says:

    Actually I thought that the “ultra” R. Menken was referring to was in Larry Derfner’s sentence

    Their behavior is marked by a modesty, generosity and ultra-conservatism

    The “ultra” there is indeed silly as I imagine his in-laws sociocultural attitudes are none-too-alien to an average religious Jew or even religious Christian: presumably limited socializing of the sexes prior to dating, the centrality of and an emphasis on the love and energy of family life, a committment to moral values in relationships, and a dubiousness about the present moral state of secular society. Other details will follow from his relatives’ particular ideologies and personalities and society etc. etc. Such a life framework can only be described as “ultra-” anything by someone who has little real interaction with it.

    One wonders if Mr. Derfner could agree with Jonathan Rosenblum’s conclusion

    Those whose identity is purely Israeli have been infected with a death wish

    From Mr. Derfner’s previous writings I would think it would be impossible for him to admit this. Yet from his latest column it seems he’s just a breath away from reaching the same conclusion himself.

  11. HILLEL says:

    As we get closer and closer to Moshiach, we see an awakening in sensitive Jewish souls. As the idols of materialism and Zionism collapse all around them, they begin to search for real meaning.

    Novelist Yehoshua is a social parasite. He gets a free ride within the Jewish nation without contributing anything beyond entertainment.

    A nation is defined by Borders, Language, and Culture.—”Shelo Shinu es SheMom, LeShonum, Malbushum.” Just living in a particular place without being a part of what that place and that nation represent makes you a tourist, not a member of that nation.

    The Jewish people are defined by their mission, as servants emissaries of G-D—”A light unto the nations.” Novelist Yehoshua and his sophisticated friends are AWOL.

    We have survived for 3000 years without the benefit of novelist Yehosua’s sagacity, and we will continue to survive, with G-D’s help—BeSiyata DiSh’maya.

  12. Eliezer Barzilai says:

    Menachem Lipkin commented about the suggested “Old-Style Orthodox”, that “It’s not accurate. Today’s ultra-orthodoxy has little in common with orthodoxy of yore.”

    It’s hard to hold in one’s mind both the criticism that “ultra orthodoxy” is a hidebound and anachronistic mimicry of the orthodoxy of pre-war Europe and the criticism that “today’s ultra-orthodoxy has little in common with orthodoxy of yore.”

    And “little in common”? This is merely a rehashing of the feckless and sterile attitude that post-war “reconstruction” was the product of the naive ideology of the orphans of a ruptured society. In fact, the great “villains” of the “yeshivish mentality” so often pointed to, the true architects of “ultra-orthodoxy,” were rabbinical and yeshiva leaders in Europe before the war.

  13. Moishe (Mark) Lewack says:

    As a Ba’al T’Shuvah, I can say that while I wish more Yiddishkeit would become Orthodox, to say that Orthodoxy is “better” is wrong. Our traditions and laws are beautiful and what Hashem expects of us to uphold those traditions and laws. The Orthodox movement is the only one that fully embraces those traditions and laws.

    Living in Goles, it is easier to peel off the layers of our Judaism, so that we don’t seem so different than our neighbors. Here, in America, we’ve encountered less Anti-Semitism than anywhere Jews have lived before, with the exception of Eretz Yisroel.

    It is rather saddening, that in Eretz Yisroel, where it is easier to be Jewish, many Jews have eschewed tradition as well. I respect diversity of opinion and practice, but the more Jews stray from normative
    Judaism, the longer it will take for Moshiach to come.

    As for Modern Orthodoxy vs. Old-Style Orthodoxy vs. Yeshivish vs. Chassidish, all are just labels to
    me. All are movements within the spectra of Orthodoxy and traditional Judaism. All are are to me,
    a blessing to Hashem. Those who belong to more modern movements of Judaism, are not bad Jews
    (if they are indeed, halachically Jewish), but they have eschewed tradition in favor of sophistication
    and assimilation.

    Take care, Moishe Lewack

  14. Jewish Observer says:

    “Ultra-Orthodox” implies extremism”

    – So does “Charedi”, a term that which ultra orthodox have been proudly using for generations. The old guard davka wants to be labeled as “quakers” as distinguished from the modern.

    Those of us who are offended by “Ultra-Orthodox” may, because of western upbringing, be uncomfortable with being ultra anything. We don’t want to think of ourselves as extreme, We are exactly right; those to the left are the modern ones. Fact is, real charedim DO want to be so labeled.

    Is this opinion extreme? It was meant to be!

  15. Yaakov Menken says:

    JO, it is rumored that the Chazon Ish objected when someone called his an “extremist” form of Judaism. “Judaism,” he said, “is extreme.”

    But the term “ultra” has very negative implications. Think of Muslim “extremists” and you understand the point immediately. That’s what “ultra” brings to mind. Jewish religious “extremists” are people like the Chazon Ish, not people who blow up themselves or others, so we would not, ordinarily, use the term “extremists” to describe Torah giants.

    The term “charedi” is much more acceptable than “ultra,” and is the term that Larry should have used. Even in America, Quakers are pacifists…

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