Wiki-Orthodoxy and the Undervaluing of Torah
Blogs were a bold step forward for many in the Orthodox world, an experiment in transparency that held great promise. For the first time, there was an open, collaborative forum (the principle behind Wikipedia) in which issues could be explored, and concerns shared in a serious, respectful manner – at least on a small number of blogs.
Looking at some of reader comments to recent postings, I wonder if the experiment worked. I very much hope that readers will still prove me wrong, but I detect an undervaluing of Torah in some of what has appeared on these pages.
When we started up Cross-Currents, we sought the advice of major figures within the Torah community regarding what to publish and what not to publish. Basically, we were told that publishing critical remarks was fine, as long as the substantive part of the criticism would be effectively answered within the blog. Usually, this has worked well. As long as comments did not use attack language or directly assault key principles of faith, we allowed them, and sat back and watched as other readers did a good job at least presenting another point of view. Many of our readers never look at the comments; those who do would see an Orthodoxy that is not afraid to ask hard questions about itself, and open to the challenge of providing answers.
In some recent postings, commentors have outdone themselves in exposing some of the fault lines within the haredi world. They have pointed to all sorts of problems associated with a society that offers few employment options, relies on handouts, etc. Reasonable readers can either agree or disagree. I, for one, will admit to sharing some of the apprehensions voiced. What disturbs me is that few people rose in defense of those who were criticized. Some, it is true, wrote that the haredi community will simply not bend its principles, and everyone else should stop tilting at windmills. This may be true, but it is hardly a cogent defense. Something more is called for – a defense that even the critics ought to be offering.
One of my rabbeim often spoke of what is reputed to be one of the most famous shmuessen (mussar discourses) of the Alter of Slabodka, whose 80th yahrzeit was marked recently. Chazal tell us that Yaakov had to suffer the abduction of Dinah because, in preparing for his encounter with his murderous brother Esav, he hid her in a box so that Esav would not notice her and seize her for himself. In doing so, he denied his brother an opportunity to have been positively influenced by a more spiritually elevated spouse.
Is this reasonable? Would the Torah expect any father to act differently? Was Yaakov supposed to sacrifice the well-being of his daughter by marrying her off to a world-class evildoer in the hope of turning him around? The Alter proposed a solution. (I record it with some trepidation. A different rebbi of mine detests the vort, and doesn’t believe that the Alter could have said it. He thinks it unfairly accuses Yaakov of behavior that we have no right to accuse him of. So as they say in the NFL, there is a flag down on the play.) The Alter taught that indeed Yaakov was not expected to act any differently. Rather, he was faulted for not feeling the pain as he hammered shut the box in which he had sequestered Dinah. With each blow of the hammer, he should have winced and said, “Oy, that I have to conduct myself this way to my own brother!” For failing to feel the pain, he was punished.
Sometimes, we have to act in a given way, but still feel pain for what we are doing.
There may be problems – huge problems – in the haredi community in Israel. But we cannot afford to be oblivious to the pain of what would be involved in changing the status quo.
After two millennia, we returned to the Land. Like Yaakov, one of the first steps we took was to establish a place for Torah. And how successful that step was! From the ashes of the Holocaust, we created a Torah revolution in the length and breadth of the Land, creating an entire subculture around the central pillar of the primacy of Torah. Tens of thousands of people live lives in which Torah study is put on its proper pedestal. The gem of Torah is restored to its luster. An explosion in Torah publication produces many mediocre works – but also works that will be appreciated for generations. America is a poor also-ran compared with the productivity of Israeli Torah. Thousands of families live with a deep, penetrating, unstinting faith in Hashem and His Torah. We send our children to Israel to breath in the atmosphere they created, beyond the natural kedushah (holiness) of the Land itself. We visit ourselves, to remind ourselves of how many non-Torah values have been foisted upon us by our tarrying in exile too long.
True, it took what the Chazon Ish himself conceded was an artificial emphasis on Torah to the exclusion of all else (even gainful employment) to bring about this revolution, and the artificiality was not designed to last forever. But can any of us blame Torah leaders who are unwilling to burst the bubble, to pull the plug? The problems facing the haredi lifestyle are prodigious, but who wants to take responsibility of ending the dream?
Accommodating “reality” means killing the golden goose. To be sure, it is a high-maintenance goose. But it is still laying golden eggs.
How many of us can remember the last day of summer vacations gone by, when those last hours meant so much, when closing the door on the vacation condo was so difficult, because it meant the inexorable return to a dreary reality we did not want to return to? It is hard to close doors to spiritual reverie as well.
“Enlightened” critics may be on target with their criticism, but they should not be deaf to the beauty of the music coming from Israel, even if they do not like much of the behavior of some of the musicians. If we criticize, we must take pains to insure that we do not undervalue, under-appreciate, the power and beauty of the Torah of Israel.
Berachos 17A speaks disparagingly of the non-Jews of Masa Mechasya, where the semi-annual Kallah (month long Torah study) was held. How could they listen to the sweet voices of thousands studying Torah, and not convert to Judaism?
How can we listen to the sounds of sixty years of learning and not be transfixed by its power and beauty? If we criticize, it cannot be byfailing to appreciate its accomplishment.
I respectfully disagree with this piece for two reasons:
1) Firstly, and primarily, the charedim do not appear to be aware on any level of the need to change the status quo. If the problem was that they just find it difficult emotionally to instruct their sons to leave yeshiva and find work, given the great success of the Israeli yeshiva world, that would be one thing. I would agree wholeheartedly to your point. But no such movement or thought process can be detected. The charedim are still insistent on the need to continue this pattern of sending all ten children from every family into a Torah-only life, and see no problem with this at all.
2) Not all of the goose’s eggs are golden. I, too, am overjoyed and inspired by the rebirth of Torah scholarship here in Israel, but it has cost a terribly high price – the continued alienation of secular Israeli Jews. What exactly do we expect them to think of us when we demand tax-payers’ money for our institutions while not participating in the economy or the military? Can we blame them for looking at us as scheming, “parasitical,” self-absorbed citizens? While it is true that critics of charedim may not feel the pain of “killing the egg” and ending the Torah-only system, the charedim themselves have shown no pain over the disgrace which this system has brought upon Torah Judaism.
“They have pointed to all sorts of problems associated with a society that offers few employment options, relies on handouts, etc … What disturbs me is that few people rose in defense of those who were criticized”
– these crititicsim are largely in response to the propgandish attitude of this blog whose unanbashed agenda is to promote the virtues of charedism. If the authorship would be less disingenuous and more willing to be objective, the readership would feel less compelled to set the records straight. Yahadus is beautiful enough in its own right without it having to be spun, positioned and made perfect. This exercise in marketing is an insult to our religion and to its adherents.
who wants to take responsibility of ending the dream?
That is why we have Gedolim. If Rav Ruderman could allow college and still be a godol, why can’t someone in Israel allow working for a living and still be a godol?
What disturbs me is that few people rose in defense of those who were criticized.
i await meetinbg rabbi Adlerstein when he comes to Shomrei in Baltimore. I think that some of the regular bloggers defend anything right wing and are rude and intemperate in their remarks. However, they might feel the same about me. Tat’s the freedom of expression we value in the USA.
One point is that many if not most heimishe yidden do not use the internet and cerainly don’t spend time reading and responding on blogs.So, the defenders of the faith are fewer.
One oint that needs to be reinforced, there is more than one way to be a good Jew,even an ultra-orthodox good Jew. The Litvishe tradition is much more accomadating than the Hungarian traddition. Meah Shearim is only one extreme version of orthodoxy and by no means normative. Those who defend should still not make the mistake that they are somehow “better Jews” or “closer to Hashem’ than other sincere observant people who may be Yeshivish or Dati Leumi. They are not.Also, in this time of the ingathering of the exiles, we have a clash of many cultures and the most uncompromising and extreme is by no means the best option and there is no need for some of your bloggers to feel obligated to defend them at all costs.They are not better Jews, just different Jews.
You write, “There may be problems – huge problems – in the haredi community in Israel. But we cannot afford to be oblivious to the pain of what would be involved in changing the status quo.”
I don’t think anyone is oblivious to that pain, however, many belive the pain in not changing the status quo from an “artificial emphasis on Torah to the exclusion of all else” is far greater.
And while many can identify with your analogy to the waning days of summer vacation, how would you characterize the responsibility (or for that matter the mental health) of someone who is so pained by the end of summer, he refuses to go home?
It is important to note that most of those concerned about the problems inherent in the current system do appreciate its accomplishments. We are all, for the most part, shomrei torah u’mitzvos and beneficiaries of the growth in Torah in Israel, America and elsewhere over the past decades.
This is an important article, although I sense a great sadness in it, as if Rabbi Adlerstein sees a paradise slipping away in slow motion. But we’ve been in worse shape before, and have always found the leadership and program to move ahead with HaShem’s help, and always will.
We ought to look more closely at the criticism Rabbi Adlerstein described, since it really comes from various directions.
These are two of the types of serious critics who have commented here:
1. Critics who fully appreciate the beauty of today’s Torah life in Israel but see a lack of adequate olam-hazeh arrangements to perpetuate it, and are frustrated because they see decision-makers as ignoring the problem or even aggravating it.
2. Critics who have their own differing religious or political views of a Jew’s purpose in Israel and the world, and are distressed that a very large Orthodox group in Israel continues to reject their views categorically, today! In modern times!
I highly recommend that anyone who is concerned about these issues read an article in defense of the Charedi way of life by a former Belzer Chasid who is now attending Hebrew University that appeared in Azure Magazine. It is a welcome antidote to much of the gloom and doom that is written by the so-called “experts” on this community as to its future, both sociologically and economically.
“Looking at some of reader comments to recent postings, I wonder if the experiment worked. I very much hope that readers will still prove me wrong, but I detect an undervaluing of Torah in some of what has appeared on these pages.”
Based on the responses posted by 8:52 am to your article, you have all the reason to believe that the experiment did indeed work. The authors of the posts display knowledge, sincerity, and true concern about the issues you raised. I identify most closely with David’s 2nd comment (February 27, 2007 @ 5:02 am) which I find it true and most disturbing. Furthermore, it appears to me that David’s criticism holds true for several groups in the US as well.
Shouldn’t the goal be the continued laying of golden eggs? And if that is the goal, do all and any attempts to reintroduce some mundance facts of life (eg. the need to work to earn money to feed the family and, therefore, the need to have the skills to work) to the Haredi world have to mean the killing of the goose? This need not be an all or nothing argument – do all Haredim have to work? Why not have communally-funded kollels and yeshivas that allow the best and brightest to contineu learning full time (and act as places of sharing that knowledge and passion for Torah with Jews who have not had the privilege of a Torah upbringing as well as with those who want to supplement their learning)? What about part-time work? For those with the ability, there are opportunities for working part time that would allow those with the inclination to continue learning for many hours every week. There are organisations that have the expertise and inclination to help train haredim in various work skills – sometimes the work can be done from home via computer, sometimes the computer doesn’t even need to be connected to the Internet. The Haredi community’s caution is understandable but, if not tempered by realism, it is this very caution that could result in an impoverished, malnourished goose laying fewer and fewer golden eggs. The wider Jewish community needs the Haredim – even if many of its members don’t realise it. For the sake of klal Yisrael the Haredi community must not only survive but flourish. By working towards meeting their own relatively humble material needs Haredim will not only help to protect their children from dire poverty but will also open the door to a spiritual and sociological development that could inspire and lift countless Jews to a greater respect and love for Torah.
“How can we listen to the sounds of sixty years of learning and not be transfixed by its power and beauty? If we criticize, it cannot be byfailing to appreciate its accomplishment”
– you are making the assumption that those who critice do not appreciate the greatness of what is there. that may be fair about some. but there are those in the choir to whim ythis blog preaches, who are sold on that and accept it as a given, but are not willing to get caught un in this blog’s tone of self congratulation which gets in the way of true growth. we have done more than enough reveling in our own success. let’s face up to the challenges it has brought.
I completely agree with Calev and Dovid. The Charedim are an indispensable component of Israeli society. But their current stance means that they can only ever be one component – someone has to make a living after all. That causes 2 problems. Firstly, the rest of Israel resents making such a large contribution to Charedi life. Secondly, Charedim are perceived as caring only for themselves. Their tzedaka and middot are acknowledged, but people don’t see it as extending to the non-Charedi community – with a few obvious exceptions such as Zaka.
The answers seem relatively clear. There simply has to be some engagement with some of the wider world. It can be on Charedi terms – Charedi organisations earning money in appropriate ways, and Charedi examples being displayed to the entire community in terms of communal welfare. But there must be something and soon – otherwise I fear that the outside world is going to decide that those who want to go it alone should go it alone. And at that stage the edifice comes crashing down and instead of controlled change there will be anarchy.
Good leaders see what is going to happen – and lead. With respect to the author, the article suggests that because it’s difficult to lead there is an excuse for not leading. But surely the contrary is right?
I will try to find the citations, but the article cited by Steve Brizel has been criticized(I am not in a position to say whether fairly or unfairly) for not being entirely accurate.
I agree with Rabbi Adlerstein(I double checked the spelling :-)) that there is much to admire in the Chareidi community: committment to Torah study, gemilut chassadim(charity and taking care of the less fortunate), great care in the observance of mitzvot among others. And obviously, the Chareidi model has worked in the narrow sense that it has fulfilled the objectives listed above. However, Rabbi Adlerstein seems to set up an either/or proposition. We can either have these merits, but they come with some baggage, in the form of massive poverty, discouraging men from having jobs, limiting the education of women, intolerence of other points of view, among others. I think that one can have the benefits of dedication to Torah study, gemillut chassadim, and meticulous observation of mitzvot, and still have a job, avoid poverty, and avoid the other downsides of Israeli Chareidi society.
I will be the first to admit that some segments of the Modern Orthodox society are lacking in dedication to Torah study and meticulous observation of commandments. However, these drawbacks are not part and parcel of Modern Orthodox society. No MO rabbi stands on the bima and commands the congregants not to observe mitzvot or learn Torah. Quite to the contrary. On the other hand, there does not seem to be any recognition or concern on the part of the Israeli Chareidi leadership of the problems or any movement towards a solution. To the contrary, recent restrictions on women’s education are certain to exacerbate the problem.
In other words, part of the problem is that they do not see that there is a problem. Or, if they see that there is a problem, there doesn’t seem to be any impetus to fix it.
On a related more contested issue, all the learning being done in the Chareidi community seems to result in part in more chumra’s, a more closed minded approach to previously accepted hashkafa(philosophy), and a general narrowness of approach that is not neccessarily a direct continuation of the traditional Judaism of previous generations. So, one has to ask the question, is all this learning, in the context of the Israeli Chareidi society, a good think for the continuation of Judaism? Taken to an extreme, if all orthodoxy copied the Israeli Chareidi model, would it be a desired outcome? I know what my answer would be.
Your piece is heartfelt and insightful. Some times a bit of a lack of reverence for Gedolim can be detected in the critical comments as well. But then I think that I am not judging these commentors favorably, as we all must, and in fact the commentors did not intend to be irreverent.
“If the problem was that they just find it difficult emotionally to instruct their sons to leave yeshiva and find work…”
Do you think that the requirement to go to the army (and all the societal influences that entails) restricts many from leaving the yeshiva system to seek gainful employment?
“…Torah scholarship here in Israel, but it has cost a terribly high price – the continued alienation of secular Israeli Jews. What exactly do we expect them to think of us when we demand tax-payers’ money for our institutions…”
Unfortunately, those who criticize the chareidi lifestyle will do it no matter what. We can’t be so naïve as to believe that if the chareidi lifestyle would exist without the contributions of Israeli secular society it wouldn’t be just as vehemently attacked. Although we can’t afford to alienate any Jew, we can’t either alter our beliefs in response to what they think about us.
Dear Rabbi Alderstein,
We must place the Israeli Charedi issue in the contect of the forces that exist in the larger body politic.
Utopian Messianism affects many areas and sectors of Israeli society. Whole communities act as if their private Moshiachim have alredy come. Idealogically driven, they totally disregard any conflicting signals and they start to believe their own propganda. This phenomonon is the Jerusalem Syndromw writ large. It makes many good people arrogantly deaf and blind to the consequences of their actions
We are very familiar with Utopian Messianism that infected the Israeli Peace and Settler Movements. For rhe settlers, the son of David came in 1967 when Israel liberated the Judah, Samaria, and Gaza. The fact that no country recognized Israel’s control of those lands, that there was strong opposition in Israel, that the Arab in those lands did not want the Israelis there, that very few Israelis were conviced to move there without massive housing subsidies, and that massive reources had to be spent to protect them with dire consequencs for Israel and the IDF were completely below their radar screens.
For the peaceniks, Moshiach came in the form of Yassir Arafat in the 1990s. No amount of suicide bombings, hatred taught in Paletsinian schools, illeagl arms shipments, etc could disuade these individuals from their beleif that peace had broken out with the coming of the New Middle East.
Similarily, the Charedim believed the Moshiach for Torah study had come in the 1980’s. That they had embarked on a adventure that in two generations would lead to the destuction of Zevulun among them was of no consequence. That their reliance on a political stalemate in the country between secular left and secular right to fund their burgening needs was a very risky policy was pooh-poohed. Why would secular Israel which was rapidly bcoming divorced from anything Jewish continue to agree to fund Israeli yeshivas? Not to worry. Hashem had already sent his Moshiach. I have never heard of any Charedi leader who thanked the Israeli tax payer and general public for supporting Torah scholarship. Why not?
I do sense in the comments a over-emphasis on “Charaidi bashing”, and do skip them frequently. I would like to point out, that as everyone has all the solutions for what has evolved as “Charaidi society” , no one is speaking from a society in my view that is idealisitic.
As a matter of fact, I abhor the idea that we want to create American style balie battim in israel, like we have over here. The MO rabbi may not preach to the congregants not to learn torah or observe mitzvos, but the obvious reality is that there is a lack of passion/commitment to yidishkeit here in America, which is why we all send our children to EY in the first place after high school.
The bottom line is that Torah only evolved as emergency crisis mode for clal yisroel, and has evolved into what it is today, with it’s many positives, and it’s negatives. Changes are happening, but these things do happen slowly. What do you want, a rosh hayeshiva in Israel to start encourgaing the top talmidim to go to college and become attorny’s and doctors.
Once the doors are opened, there is a huge void in who would stay committed to learning, parnsash/careers would compete for our top talmidim. I recall a friend of mine who was in the IDF in pilot training course. All the other soliders in his unit were the top of the class of israeli society, and all had big plans for after the army. they also conceded that if the draft were not mandaroty, they probably would not enlist and go straight to college. I think they same pyschology is at work here.
Communities can’t just—openly or implicitly—call one or two types of person (such as, for men, the top-level full-time scholar or the wealthy businessman-philanthropist) a success and every other person a failure. Everyone has to have a place and respect and tools for growth.
—There may be problems – huge problems – in the haredi community in Israel. But we cannot afford to be oblivious to the pain of what would be involved in changing the status quo.—
“Status quo” is a relative term and therefore so is changing it. Jewish history is a series of cultural and sociological cycles. The implication that adhering to the Chareidi status quo in 2007 is somehow more theologically honest, IMHO seems to be ignoring the realities of eras gone by. Be it Pumpedisa or Yerushalayim in the times of their respective Talmuds (sic.), the golden ages of Lithuanian Jewry, or Baltimore circa. 1960’s and 70’s there were other realities (and good ones) that would not parallel the elitist Torah-only Chareidi philosophy proposed today.
I stipulate that different times call for different stretegies. In the Orthodox world today, the numbers are different (larger, in a sense), the geography is different, and the challenges are different. In some sectors, there is affluence that provides greater opportunities for Torah study. Other sectors are stretched to the limit and are holding onto their self-generated metaphysical imperative for dear life. Because of the latter, there will need to be a “historical correction” to the status quo. This correction will increase the numbers of people working and decrease the numbers of those who are not cut out for the Torah-only lifestyle. Hopefully, as the numbers on the Kollel rosters become more reasonable and realistic, the overall quality of Torah studied will rise. As this transition occurs, the number of forums for grandstanding “it’s our way or the highway” may not be as plentiful as they appear to be today.
So, it will be painful to escape from the box. But, I would have preferred that the boxes not have been built so fast and with such hislahavus to begin with.
1) I strongly believe that if the chareidim were seriously interested in finding some kind of solution to the army problem, such as charedi-friendly units or some kind of “national service” program for charedi men, an arrangement could be made. Instead, the charedim insist on yeshiva and nothing else.
2) The secular diehards of today are much, much different than those of say 50-60 years ago. They are not interested in destroying Torah, they are not romantic Marxists dreamimg of a world bereft of religion and willing to fight to create such a world. They want their DVD’s, trips to the Far East, comfortable homes, fancy cars, etc. Obviously this is not the proper outlook, but what it means is that their hatred for the charedim is NOT a hatred of religion per se, but a hatred of the charedim’s political agenda and the means by which they pursue that agenda. Will all the chilonim suddenly become frum once the charedim are drafted and join the workforce? No, but I am quite sure that once the barriers are broken and the chilonim see who the charedim really are – nice, friendly, intelligent, and sincerely devout people – the resentment will begin to fade and a greater respect for Torah could be engendered.
“With each blow of the hammer, he should have winced and said, “Oy, that I have to conduct myself this way to my own brother!” For failing to feel the pain, he was punished.”
Doesn’t anyone feel for the poor girl inside that “coffin” in whose ears the bangs must echo painfully?
Menachem Petrushka: Utopian Messianism affects many areas and sectors of Israeli society. Whole communities act as if their private Moshiachim have alredy come. Idealogically driven, they totally disregard any conflicting signals and they start to believe their own propganda. This phenomonon is the Jerusalem Syndromw writ large. It makes many good people arrogantly deaf and blind to the consequences of their actions
Ori: This is a great insight, thank you! I think you’re right – Israelis often act like they expect miracles.
Why? Maybe because earlier generations seemed like they were able to accomplish them. The whole rise of the state of Israel, from almost nothing in 1881 to winning a war against most of the Arab world and building a western style state less than seventy years later, appears like a miracle.
However, that miracle was accomplished with a lot of blood and sweat, and by taking patient baby steps when necessary. The equivalent for the peace process would have been to grant autonomy to one Palestinian town at a time, while fighting terrorism as ruthlessly as possible – nobody on the left wanted to do that. The equivalent for the settlers would have been to patrol their own settlements and defend themselves with their own time and money, instead of relying on the IDF – and only settle where they WOULD be able to defend themselves.
Cross-Currents can be perceived as “bash, bash, bash Israeli charedim, bash them all the time” (sung to the tune of “row row row your boat). That “bash” attitude spills over to the American versions of Charedism such as Lakewood etc (although usually only from the posters).
This is of course an over simplification (R’ Menken focuses his bashing on heterodox movements) but the undercurrent of Israeli Charedi bashing (from most of the posters)/criticism (from the authors) is very strong.
Posters such as “HILLEL,” “ed” and “hp” try to offer a defense with some consistency, while Steve Brizel and Baruch Horowitz excel at a rational even-handed “everyone’s a winner” discourse. But most of the commentary is critical.
This is expected, for as LOberstein pointed out, most people who belong to the community critisize either don’t use the Internet or don’t care to respond to arguments that are “pasul” in the eyes. That cannot be remedied. But what can be remedied and what exacerbates this imbalance on Cross-Currents is the complete and utter absence of any contributing author who comes from the “right wing” of the Yeshivish world. If one looks at the authors of Cross-Currents they all come from the non-right wing (I’m intentionally not using the term “left-wing” as the authors would no doubt find it a perjorative) segment of the Yeshivish/Charedi/non-MO community represented by Ner Israel (R’ Shafran, R’ Feldman, Gedalia Litke), Chofetz Chaim (R’ Adlerstein), YU (R’ Gottlieb). Two authors who did not attend the above institutions (R’ Menken and R’ Rosenblum) are baalei teshuvah with Ivy Leagu degrees. The women contributors obviously also didn’t learn in Brisk or Lakewood. This is further apparent by the fact that all of the contributors have secular degrees and none of them live in Lakewood/Monsey/Williamburg/BoroPark or their Israeli counterparts of Bnei Brak/Geula/Kiryat Sefer. Instead we get LA/Baltimore/Har Nof/Atlanta/Florida not exactly the hard core of Haredi Yiddishkait.
Lastly, none of the posters teaches Torah full time on a yeshiva level or studies it full time in kollel (this is a conjecture on my part, please correct me if I’m wrong).
So essentially, people who are commenting on the Haredi American/Israeli community are commenting from the outside of it or in the best case from the fringes of it. They’re not insiders,neither based on their life’s story (R’ Rosenblum pointed it out in one of his columns that as a baal teshuva he will always feel as an outsider to a certain degree) nor based on what they do for a living or even where they live.
So when R’ Adlerstein offers a complaint that nobody’s representing the other side, it’s not surprising. How can the authors here present a full fledged justification of a society that they’re outsiders to? How can they give us an authentic taste or feel of what’s good about being an Israeli Charedi without sounding like they’re engaging in apologetics they half-believe in.
And the biggest problem is that it presents a skewed picture of what the charedi world thinks to those who are unfamiliar with it.
Until Cross-Currents acquires one or two real “Yeshivish” writers, it will contintue to present an inaccurate view of non-MO thinking and will continue to provide at best half hearted apologia for charedi lifestyle in Israel and in the US.
It’s due to this that R’ Reinman’s absence from Cross-Currents is lamentable. He was a bona fide representative of the Yeshiva world, learning in Kollel in Lakewood and with no secular degree. Cross-Currents needs to get someone like him to represent the other side.
While Aryeh’s assumption (Feb 27, 6:57 pm)—that a member of a group knows the most about its thinking—is generally true, it’s also true that sympathetic outsiders can sometimes see important things from their vantage point that insiders don’t notice.
I think the problem is the unsympathetic outsiders, whose comments predictably pounce on any Chareidi action or belief to put it in the worst possible light. However, most people can see this bias and make allowances for it.
If the management of Cross-Currents believes there is too much negativity in a comments section, they can balance things out by addition and subtraction. That is, addition by inviting comments from Rabbi Reinman and the like, who may be too busy to hand in full-blown articles, and subtraction by keeping out more of the really clueless diatribes.
“Oh would some power the giftie gie us, to see ourselves as others see us.” – Robert Burns
“I must be cruel only to be kind” – William Shakespeare
It’s only unfortunate that “bashing” and “triumphalism” have become the coin of the realm. Constructive criticism is the most beneficial input one can get. One who puts ideas out in the marketplace must be ready to defend them or admit room for improvement. An interesting study recently showed we do not do our children any favors by constantly telling them they are great when they do something that isn’t (duh!). Celebrating the positive and working on the “not so positive” works for individuals and for movements.
“Enlightened” critics may be on target with their criticism, but they should not be deaf to the beauty of the music coming from Israel, even if they do not like much of the behavior of some of the musicians. If we criticize, we must take pains to insure that we do not undervalue, under-appreciate, the power and beauty of the Torah of Israel.
I agree although interestingly I’ve heard tell that there are those who won’t study the works of certain Rabbis because of their hashkafa even though their torah is pure.
Let’s pray we all are soon learning in the same beit medrash.
How can you write that G Litke is from he “non right wing world” when he still has plenty of kids to marry off?
Dear Rabbi Adlerstein,
#1 I love all Jews. It doesn’t make a difference to me how frum a Jew is, I am in awe of each and everyone of the Chosen People. During the Lebanon War which I believe most every posaik will call a Melchemet Mitzvah a Torah defined Necessary War due to self defense, how many Yeshivas were open during bain hazminim with learning by all those deffered by the IDF because of Toraso Aumnasu, learning Torah was their profession. The defense of the Yeshiva defferments is that Torah study brings peace to the world. A boy learning full time without batala is worth for the defense of the Yidden in Eretz Yisroel as much if not more than a front line soldier. Most Yeshivas at that time were empty. It was intersession, bain hazmanim. Did the Gadolim and Roshei Yeshiva issue a Kol Koreh, an emergency proclamation calling EVERY YESHIVA BOCHUR WHO WAS DEFFERED BACK TO THE FRONT LINE IN THE BAIS HAMEDRESH?
I don’t recall. Chabad has Mitzvah Tanks, the Litvish have people shtaiging in learning. Were many Yeshiva bochrim defered by Tzhal away without leave, asleep at the switch as fiery rockets rained down on Haifa and the Galil during an Ayes tzara lYakov, a time of trouble to Jacob?
Consistent with Gary’s comments, IDF deferments for Chareidi yeshiva bochurim is obviously a charged issue that has caused much resentment against the Chareidi community. The issue is really a microcosm of the whole landscape of the observant community in Israel. It has a long a storied history which began with solid motivations in the early days of the State. However, over the years, it has become a political football, rearing its head in many almost every election and budget negotiation.
We are all aware that the arguments in favor of exemptions boil down to two: (1) the environment of the IDF not being conducive to those who are Shomrei Torah U’Mitzvos; and (2) (which is perhaps at the crux of Rabbi Adlerstein’s post) is the primacy of Torah study as a shmira for those living in Eretz Yisrael (hopefully including the IDF itself and Chilonim). Times have changed and people have become more sophisticated. To perpetuate both of these arguments as a package just doesn’t hold water anymore. Whether it is the Dati Leumi community’s relative success with Yeshivot Hesder, Nachal Chareidi (albeit with its limited buy-in), and more visibly, the abuse of the deferment system by thousands of Chareidi bochurim. Whether it’s smoking on street corners, hanging out at pizza shops, rioting, and other such behaviors, the aforementioned arguments have become a tough sell. Try selling that to the Daati Leumi mother (who is not exactly thrilled with what the government has been doing lately) who sends her sons to the battle front in Lebanon. After all, one of them may have just spent the previous Shabbos knocking out 7 Blatt of Daf Yomi in anticipation of the upcoming mission.
IMHO, continual grandstanding about the primacy of full-time Torah study for all, while ignoring those realities which are inconsistent with that, is counterproductive to upholding reverence to the Torah and its lifestyle. There is certainly a time and a place for many (in the Chareidi AND Dati Leumi community) to request exemptions and make up the future Torah fabric of Klal Yisrael. But, how about a Kol Koreh for some serious re-thinking and cheshbon hanefesh within the Chareidi community to flesh all of this out? As a result, I guarantee that the value of Torah in the eyes of all will increase.
From Rabbi Adlerstein,
“After two millennia, we returned to the Land. Like Yaakov, one of the first steps we took was to establish a place for Torah. And how successful that step was! From the ashes of the Holocaust, we created a Torah revolution in the length and breadth of the Land, creating an entire subculture around the central pillar of the primacy of Torah. Tens of thousands of people live lives in which Torah study is put on its proper pedestal. The gem of Torah is restored to its luster.”
How incredibly productive it would be if there were even a modicum of Hakaras HaTov from the Chareidi community toward those Zionists whose mesiras nefesh (l’sha and not so l’shma) made and continue to make this possible.
It cuts both ways. Do the chilonim give a moment’s thought that the productivity and existence of the State is anything but for the work of their own hands. As long as they won’t recognize the protection and even economic success that our (Chareidi, Daatei Leumi, etc.) learning and mitzvos – and ultimately Hashem’s kindness – provide, it is anathema to show any appreciation for their efforts. Must we also say, “It is their might that has wrought this wonderful nation”?
Regarding “Comment by Menachem Lipkin — February 28, 2007 @ 11:45 am”:
Some of the Zionists mentioned would roll over in their graves if they ever found out that their efforts later enhanced Torah life in Israel. I assume that the hakaras hatov would not be owed to this kind of Zionist.
>Did the Gadolim and Roshei Yeshiva issue a Kol Koreh, an emergency proclamation calling EVERY YESHIVA BOCHUR WHO WAS DEFFERED BACK TO THE FRONT LINE IN THE BAIS HAMEDRESH?
Yes, actually. R. Elyashiv and R. Steinman did indeed call for cancellation of ben ha-zemanim. I know this, because I know some boys whose yeshivos did just that.
Lack of hakaras tov on our part towards fellow Jews who do not share our haskafah has been a reoccurring theme in several threads. Jewish Observer and Mr. Menachem Likpin have repeatedly raised this issue. If we fall short in this area bein adam l’chavero, we can rest assured that we fall short in being makir tov bein adam lamakom.
Aharon Hakohen: Do the chilonim give a moment’s thought that the productivity and existence of the State is anything but for the work of their own hands. As long as they won’t recognize the protection and even economic success that our (Chareidi, Daatei Leumi, etc.) learning and mitzvos – and ultimately Hashem’s kindness – provide, it is anathema to show any appreciation for their efforts.
Ori: You’re assuming that chilonim are observant Jews who decided they didn’t feel like hassling with mitzvot anymore. If that were the case, they would have had the same hashkafa and believed that Ribbono Shel Olam protects the state because of learning and mitzvot. For such a people to be lacking in Hakara haTov would indeed be a bad fault.
The truth of the matter, however, is that most chilonim either do not believe in G-d, or do not believe that the Torah is G-d’s commandments. They do not believe that doing mitzvot does any good. It would be nonsensical for them to be grateful for something they do not believe helps – it would be like expecting my 4.5 month old daughters to be grateful for a diaper change when they have absolutely no idea of the connection between changing diapers and not getting diaper rash.
Is the reverse also true? Do you believe that the military is useless, and your life would be unhindered if the IDF were to disappear? Wouldn’t an Arab government restrict access to the Kotel again? Would it allow Jews from anywhere in the world to move to Israel?
There is no risk that Hakarat Hatov will make chilonim believe the state is the work of their own hands, because they already believe it. If anything, it will make them more receptive to kiruv.
BTW, is Hakarat Hatov a good idea, or a Mitzvah? If it is a Mitzvah, does it only apply to people who are themselves fulfilling it? Most interpersonal mitzvot apply even to people who violate them. We are not allowed to murder a murderer (we may kill him if he is rodef, or if we execute him on behalf of a beit din – but that’s different). I think we are also not allowed to use gossip about people who are themselves gossips. Doesn’t the same apply here?
Israel with no Charedim, let’s reflect:
a) Every girl must go to mandatory Yehareg V’Al Yaavor, army, or, maybe, Sherut Leumi. (Of course if there were no Charedim, there would have been, tragically, nary a recognition that it indeed was Yehareg V’Al Yaavor!)
b) Nowhere to send kids for a year to grow without the distractions of America. (Does anyone in his right mind think that the Hesder Yeshivos would have even been born without a model of full time Yeshiva learning borrowed from Ponevezh? Full-time immersion in Torah study for any period of time at all, outside of a few Mercaz HaRav Chevra, was way down the list of priorities of those subject to “Hu Dati, Aval Hu Beseder” inferiority complexes in dealing with Chiloni society in the first couple of decades of the existence of the State.)
c) Every single major party in the Knesset would have MKs indicted for crimes. As it stands, AFAIK, only Agudah is free of this blemish.
d) No party in Israel at all would feel itself even remotely bound to opinions of the Gedolei Torah. The whole concept would be non-existent. (The Mafdal, if we are to be honest, does not feel itself bound to opinions of Gedolei Torah). The Chazon Ish has a few choice words for those who think that the Gedolei Torah have nothing to say about public policy setting.
e) There would be absolutely no model for religious people who feel frustrated by heinous acts, such as the callous treatment of the Gush Katif evacuatees, to criticize actions of the Medinah without feeling like they are traitors. The Bolshevik Zionist leaders, along with the Bolshevik Mafdal, would have effectively shut down criticism from religious quarters. The Charedim saved freedom of expression, the essence of democrary, from being trampled in the name of Mamlachtiut.
f) Kashrus would be in complete shambles. Anyone familiar with the regular Rabbanut standards of Kashrus in many cities in Israel knows what I am talking about. Shomer Nafsho Yirchak.
g) The central Rabbinic authority would be, willy nilly, the Chief Rabbinate, subject to the whims of political hacks as to who would be that final arbiter of Halachic decision, be he worthy or not.
h) Kiruv would be in diapers, at best. Anti-missionary activities – non-existent. Pritzus’dig advertisement – Ain Kol V’Ain Kashev. Stealing kids from Yemen and shaving their payos and showing them pornography and feeding them tarfus – similar things might still be going on.
So what is the redeeming factor to the State when people say they do not wish to celebrate its creation? [Saving lives? More people have died there since the State’s creation than everywhere else combined. Lower intermarriage rates? Look out, Ilan Shachar of HaAretz has a thing or two to say about how we look down on, how hopelessly clannish we are, toward Russian non-Jewish immigrants. And if there is ever peace with the Arab neighbors…] Look what a tremendous Torah center has flourished! More Lomdei Torah than any time since Chizkiyah HaMelech! Where is the hakaras HaTov! Well, if I were to agree with those of the perspective that it is a negative development – would they then be satisified that indeed there is nothing for me to celebrate?
And if the Charedim were to agree with all of those commenting that, in retrospect, this idea of Torah-only Charedism was a negative, would you then be silent when Charedim refuse to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut on the grounds of it being “the greatest Torah center since Chizkiyahu, with so many Lomdim”? [Saving lives might not cut it when more Jews have died there than anywhere else combined, and intermarriage continues to gain a foothold as a legitimate option]
Please reflect on an Israel with no place to send kids for a year with no US distractions (Hesder and American programs are indisputably an outgrowth of Ponevezh and the like), all girls in Yehareg V’Al Yaavor situations, every single major party with MKs indicted for crimes (only Agudah, AFAIK, is free of this blemish), no concept of paying any attention to the Gedolei Torah on matters of public policy (and the Chazon Ish had a few choice words about those who deny them this arena), Kashrus in shambles, no religious model of disagreement with the State, (If you are honest, you will admit that the Charedim saved freedom of expression as a value which overrides Bolshevik Mamlachtiut), Kiruv Yeshivos in diapers at best, perhaps camps where peyos still get shorn, nobody to protest Pritzus advertisement in Yerushalayim (can you imagine Yerushalayim looking like Las Vegas??? That’s what it would be without the Charedim!), etc.,etc.
How about some recognition that without the Charedim, Israel would be another European country, with the Kedushah of a Rav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld a relic of a long ago era, before Mamlachtiut supplanted Yahadut as the primary identity of a Jew.
From Aharon Hakohen:
“Do the chilonim give a moment’s thought that the productivity and existence of the State is anything but for the work of their own hands.”
This is a red herring which davka does not “cut both ways”. We have received incalculable concrete benefit from the work of their hands. This is indisputable. However, as Jews who are not as spiritually enlightened as we are it’s not within their frame of reference to think as you suggest.
The *some* Chilonim can’t see the intangible benefit provided by b’nei (b’not) Torah doesn’t in any way lessen our obligation to give thanks for what have tangibly received from them.
“As long as they won’t recognize the protection and even economic success that our (Chareidi, Daatei Leumi, etc.) learning and mitzvos – and ultimately Hashem’s kindness – provide, it is anathema to show any appreciation for their efforts.”
Such tit for tat mentality can only ensure further disunity, distrust, and animosity. The guidance of Torah should allow us to take the “high road”.
My father, shlitah, learned in Slabodkeh for many years with his chavrusah, Rav Leizer Platzinsky. He told me that the Alter did indeed say that explanation of the story of Dinah. (Although the Alter was no longer in Slabodkeh when he learned there, his Torah still resonated in the Yeshiva) I’m not sure whether this is my father’s addition or the Alter also said this, but he also applied this idea to the rejection of Timnah, which ultimately resulted in the birth of Amaleik (Sanhedrin 99b). In fact, my father characterized this vort as emblematic of the Alter’s hashkafa.
Barzilai’s confirmation of the Alter of Slobodka’s statement is welcome.
I think that no one would doubt that the Alter was an outstanding Gadol whose insights and statements continue to resonate in our current reality.
Let us all think carefully about what he said: namely that Yaakov Avinu did not feel the pain that he caused Eisav. Now, no matter how horrible our Jewish brethren might be, they are nowhere near as ghastly as Eisav was (or, alternatively, as Amalek does).
What I hear the Alter saying is that we all need to consider the pain of others, and in light of it strive to reduce it as we build our own lives and institutions. What this means is that Rabbi Adlerstein is absolutely right that non-Charedim (whether Dati Leumim or Chilonim) should respect what Charedim have achieved, and sympathize with the pain that significant changes would cause.
Similarly, Charedim should respect what non-Charedim (whether Dati Leumim or Chilonim) have achieved, and sympathize with the pain that they feel at being called on to shoulder both the economic and military burdens of Israeli society.
What we all need is a competition in being Mekadesh Shem Shammayyim through reducing the pain of those who are not “us”, and being seen by them as doing so.
Rabbi Chaim Frazer
Barzilai writes: “I’m not sure whether this is my father’s addition or the Alter also said this, he also applied this idea to the rejection of Timnah, which ultimately resulted in the birth of Amaleik”
Rabbi Chaim Shmulevitz zt’l writes in Sichos Musar that Amalek’s heresy, brazenness and hatred resulted from Avrohom Avinu rejecting Timna’s request that he accept her as a proselyte.
From Bob Miller:
“Some of the Zionists mentioned would roll over in their graves if they ever found out that their efforts later enhanced Torah life in Israel. I assume that the hakaras hatov would not be owed to this kind of Zionist.”
Or maybe, given our understanding of what happens to us after death, they are dancing in their graves knowing the *truth* and our Hakat Hatov all that much more appreciated.
“What disturbs me is that few people rose in defense of those who were criticized.”
The fact is, many of the most eloquent defenders of Chareidi Judaism (Bari, Jak Black, and others with whom I have been in contact) simply cannot stand the J-Bloggosphere any longer. It takes a truly thick hide to wade through the daily doses of hatred, vitriol, and heresy, hoping agaist hope to find the occasional pearl of real wisdom.
And this is, of course, beside the fact that Chareidim are outnumbered, even proportionally; it is usually the majority, the most shrill, or the ones with the most time on their hands that tend to “control” the discussions, rather than the voices of rationality and truth.
Comment by Hershel Brand — March 1, 2007 @ 6:20 am makes some good points. If not for my ego, I’d probably forego this stuff, too, seeing as that every true article or comment by somebody seems to trigger a zillion opposing comments, many being emotional tirades without substance.
Some commenters are so fixated on some Topic A (such as the badness of the group they don’t belong to) that every discussion thread ends up veering off onto Topic A. The Cross-Currents management is not as tolerant of apikorsus or chareidi-baiting as some, but these sneak through with appalling regularity.
Blogs often choose hot-button topics to get a good response, but often the only result is to get people more riled.
Baruch Horowitz has often suggested (as I understand it) some type of off-line forum to establish a really productive conversation among Orthodox bloggers (or ex-bloggers!) and decision-makers, and I hope this idea gets some traction.
Only if you allow them to control the discussions. Don’t mistake quantity for quality. IMHO if you zip through the posts lacking content, you may find some people with whom you can actually have a rational discussion.
Cross-Currents is a blog operating within the charedi system, or at least not contradicting it. As a blog, it cannot function as some type of online version of the Pravda, suppressing all criticism to paint a rosy, surrealistic, version of reality. On the other hand, a thread which the net result is to argue for an instant, complete overhaul of the Charedi system would not earn the approval of any charedi rabbinic leaders. Either more positive commentors can be added on negative threads as Bob says(comment #22), or moderators can redirect negative threads; this can be done by posting comments challenging critics to revise the presentation of their critiques to include more nuance.
Regarding the Israeli Charedi economic situation, one can argue that both reality and Hashem’s plan might very well necessitate that the community evolves into a more “balanced” point on the Torah Only vs. TIDE spectrum, while simultaneously acknowledging the role that toras eretz yisrael has played in preserving the Jewish people, and while also acknowledging the pain involved in changing, as in the quotation from the Alter of Slabodka(parenthetically, I don’t see any hashkafic problem with the vort, as long as it is presented in the spirit of “Hakadosh Baruch Hu medakdek im chasidav k’chut hasarah”, similar to the criticism of “kach onim es hameukos” concerning Yaakov’s dilaouge with Rachel, or even RSRH’s nuanced analysis of some incidents in Bereishis; ironically, it was in fact Slabodka, that was known for emphasizing the greatness of the Avos, and perhaps this had an influence on Rav Aharon Kotler who wrote about this topic).
Critics and questioners can take as their model Rav Shimon Schwab’s “These and Those” or the Seridei Aish and others, who did not ignore reality concerning these types of issues, but at the same time, certainly valued greatness in Torah(the quote about R. YY Weinberg on the OU website is that “[a student] had never seen an individual of comparable stature who admitted the validity of a question or criticism or acknowledged the insightful comments of students with such regularity”). Or one can take as an example, the statement made at the recent Agudah convention that “we have no complaint against anyone asking questions about our convictions, or even disagreeing — agreeably —with stances we have seen fit to take”.
I also feel similar to Rabbi Frazer’s(comment #37) point regarding the need for reciprocity of acknowledging another’s pain. Fair is fair—if non-Charedim need to see things from Charedim’s perspective as this post points out, then the reverse is true as well; there is danger in the attitude of “bittul”(the latter point has been made at two Agudah conventions). This includes, in my opinion, being respectful concerning Israeli secular memorial and independence days even if one doesn’t recognize them, being sensitive when referring to or writing about a more modern group’s Torah leaders, seeing something good in another group whose philosophy one generally rejects, and putting one’s self in the shoes of those whose legitimate needs are sometimes sacrificed for the greater good of Klal Yisrael, when a particular item or behavior is proscribed in a uniform manner. Hopefully, the pain of all groups will be transformed in the spirit of the Megilah– m’yagoen l’simcha u‘meveil l’yom tov.
I think that alot of the criticism here (from those who are part of the chareidi community) is actually dealing with an unspoken question – “Mi hu chareidi?” What is the attitude of the general chareidi public on each issue, and how well do we fit in as a part of the community? Are the people who aggresively promote mehadrin lines more or less representative than those who do not like them? At what point will we say that someone who does not agree with the system cannot claim to be a member of this community? None of these questions are asked explicitly, but I think that they underlie alot of the comments.
A more interesting issue is a distinction between two types of criticisms. We can point out behavior that is objectively a problem (e.g. trying to live way beyond one’s income), and behavior that we do not agree with, but those who do it think it is fine (e.g. encouraging everyone to stay in kollel as long as they possibly can). It seems that people are much more agressive when making the second type of criticism (“How can they possibly think they are right?!”) then when they are dealing with the first (a less personal “the system can’t last”). It would be more appropriate to do the opposite. We can respect that they have their own opinion, however problematic it is, but we do not have to sympathize with any denial of reality. I think that comments of the second type are generally less useful, especially if they are just presenting the alternate opinion without trying to discuss the issues or to understand why the chareidim think differently. Such comments, with all do respect to the opinions they express, do not contribute to a discussion of the issues of the chareidi community. The more useful comments are those that explain why something is wrong, or at least point to an objective problem. Even better are comments that help us understand why there are problems, and suggest ways that things can be changed.
This post is difficult to respond to. It somehow challenges us to explain why we are so critical, which just leads to more criticism. I will still allow myself to suggest why I think people have a hard time defending the chareidi line. I think that the chareidi community [like most other communities] has not managed to develop a consistent hashkafa, that can be defended to those who do not believe in it. I can talk all day about how Torah is everything, and everyone who accepts that attitude will love it, but anyone else will just not understand what I want. Perhaps the chariedi attitudes are too axiomatic, so there is a chasm between those who do and do not accept the basic axioms. [The only alternative I know of that I belive does not have this failing is RSRH’s writings on TIDE ]
I’ve noticed that people who only talk to yes men (and I’m not saying this is the charedi community – it happens in many command and control type business organizations) start believing that they are right because noone challenges them. Unfortunately when their ideas meet the marketplace (e.g. Edsel,communism…) they realize that maybe listening to “outsiders” would’ve been a good idea.
Additional point- there are vast numbers of Charedim who do not use the internet. The opinions of many, many Charedim will never be seen on cross-currents.
Of those who are not Charedi, my guess is that the majority does have internet access. My suspicion (which cannot be proven, and thus will need to remain suspicion only) is that a good number of the lovely bloggers are indeed not Charedi.
This might explain the skewed balance of cross-currents.
Over Shabbos, I found in the Ohr Hatzafun the Alter’s point regarding Dinah(in the one volume edition, it’s page 205, first chelek). As I noted above, he understands it as a flaw according to Yaakov’s high level(Barzilia’s point, comment # 36, regarding Aamaleik is mentioned as well). I am wondering if Rabbi Adlerstein’s rebbe is aware of how the vort is related in Ohr Hatzafun, but nevertheless disputes its veracity.
I link below to Jonathan Rosenblum’s article in the Jewish Action(“Israel’s New Economic Reality”; Summer 2004), which I think should be read in full by anyone discussing this topic. He makes the point that an appreciation for the Torah in Eretz Yisrael mandates that it be preserved and supported as a national resource. At the same time, neither is he blind to realities of today’s world:
“ No one educational model can possibly satisfy the needs of all the children in a large community, and the attempt to force one model upon all can only result in many being lost altogether to the religious world. Not every boy, for instance, is suited, by temperament or ability, for long-term kollel learning. And the effect of not providing respectable alternatives is felt in the small percentage of those who drop out, and the larger number who remain, without enthusiasm, in yeshivot.The challenge the Chareidi community confronts today is how to preserve the ideal of Torah learning as its paramount value while adjusting to changing circumstances, both internally and externally.
That will not be a simple task…Any efforts to assist in helping the Torah communities of Eretz Yisrael become more economically self-sufficient must be accompanied by great efforts to ensure the preservation of the great yeshivot and kollelim of outstanding
Regarding the applicability of Torah im Derech Eretz to Israel, I noticed that Rav Shimon Schwab writes that only the local Torah leaders in Eretz Yisrael may rule on the applicability of TIDE in that country(1966 Hamayan, translated in Spring 1997 Tradition article by S.Z Leiman). Another important point is that of Rav Dessler(MM Vol. III), that Gedolim were aware that a pure Litvshe Torah-Only model, whose purpose is to produce gedolim, often carries with it the very heavy price of negatively affecting average students, although obviously one tries to minimize such casualties(“lo nachshov she-lo yodu me-rosh, ki be-derech zeh chas ve-shalom yekulkelu kamah”).
Some further points to consider are A) any necessary change in the Israeli model would be evolutionary, and that rapid change will be rejected, as pointed out in Jonathan Rosenblum’s article; B) the army issue, unique to Israel; C) ensuring that any Israeli TIDE yeshivah or program will not “poison” Bnei Brak, in the same way that the existence of Torah Vodaath and Ner Yisrael don’t negatively impact on Lakewood(they actually mutually benefit each other); this latter concern is pointed out in the above essay from Rav Dessler.
Less directly related issues are A) the fact that many attempts to provide balance in Israel, are seen in light of the polarized, entrenched positions previously taken up in response to the Kulterkamf of Israeli society, going back to the Old Yishuv , and even previously, in response to the European Haskalah, and B) what effect militant secularists have on preventing necessary change(e.g., attempts to draft yeshivah bachurim, and the effect of the organization which sends charedim material containing questions of faith, with the goal to secularize them).
Can someone please provide the source (Rabbi Adlerstein’s comment) that the Chazon Ish himself conceded that the Torah-onlt communities in Eretz Yisrael was “an artificial emphasis on Limud HaTorah to the exclusion of all else.”
A long time ago, I came to the conclusion that we, all of us, feel too much of an obligtion to justify the way of life of the particular group we belong to, and too little of an obligation to think about what the Torah really wants. It is important to remember that the Torah is not a Shitah, nor can it be identified with a Shita. The Torah is the way a person comes to Avodas Hasem and to Yiras Shomaim. In the individual case, we are obligated to consult with our Teachers to help us see the way. However, it cannot be the case that we deny others, and other teachers, the right to come up with different answers.
It is clear that we have all lost our way by buying into particular Shitot Hachayim which don’t really work for many of us, but which we feel obligated to endoirse, whether because we feel that they are the least of all evils, or becuse we think that a person who occupies a certain level on the “public frumkeit” scale has to occupy a certain idealogical pigeon hole as well.
The real soluition is that a Jew who believes in our mesorah has a moral obligation to learn as much as possible so he can come to as many conclusions as he can about what a Torah way of life should look like, while at the same time respecting different points of view. If one wants to be honest with himself this was always the way of Gedolei Yisroel.
Regarding the secular community, there is no point in arguing with them, because they simply are not programmed to understand what we are talking about. However, it cannot be that we have to be right just because they are wrong.
If we believe that there is a place in Jewish life for blogs whicgh discuss issues that bother us, I think it imperative that we beguided by these rules, although I am sure any number of you would be happy to disagree with me
“It is clear that we have all lost our way by buying into particular Shitot Hachayim which don’t really work for many of us, but which we feel obligated to endoirse, whether because we feel that they are the least of all evils…”
Some feel that their derech(path) only has only strengths; this, I think, is often the public posture taken(although privately some will be more open to discussing these topics frankly). Whether that is correct or not , this strategy has the benefit of “ein simcha k’hatoras hasefiekos”(there is no joy like the resolution of doubt).
Others see both strengths and weaknesses in their particular path in Yiddishkiet, but see the weaknesses as a trade-off for a lifestyle and hashkafa that they feel is overall correct, and they are therefore willing to live with any weaknesses. Still others may hold that the weaknesses are not actually weaknesses, but they at least can perceive why others may see weaknesses in their chosen path. The fact that one thinks in these terms, should make one able to understand why another person made a different choice in derech hachayim.
Regarding comment by S.>Did the Gadolim and Roshei Yeshiva issue a Kol Koreh, an emergency proclamation calling EVERY YESHIVA BOCHUR WHO WAS DEFFERED BACK TO THE FRONT LINE IN THE BAIS HAMEDRESH?
Yes, actually. R. Elyashiv and R. Steinman did indeed call for cancellation of ben ha-zemanim. I know this, because I know some boys whose yeshivos did just that.
Comment by S.
Assuming this is true S, Please provide documentation of the above eg. date text and where reported in the media.
Question What Pecentage of army deferred Yeshiva Bochrim listened to this Kol Koreh. 1% 5% 10% 50% or upwards of 90%. In todays wired world of instantaneous communications an event like this should have been covered if an overwhelming majority of army deffered yeshiva bochrim returned during bain hazmanim to the front lines of the bais hamedrish.
Please provide documentation of both the possible Kol Koreh and the alleged en masse return of vacationing yeshiva bochrim to their battle stations in the bataei medresh during the Melchemet Mitzvah Lebanon Summer 2006.
With respect to Dr. E who I know generally agrees with my premise interestingly writes and I quote “We are all aware that the arguments in favor of exemptions boil down to two: (1) the environment of the IDF not being conducive to those who are Shomrei Torah U’Mitzvos”
This argument is correct if one perceives the army as some large social club for secular Jews. However in reality it is the worldly embodiment of G-d’s will of Hini lo yanom vlo yeshan Shomer Yisrael. Here the Watchman of Israel(G-d) will not slumber or sleep. G-d’s messenger, the security guard of the Jewish people in Israel is the IDF. Of course its success is dependent on G-d’s will. For peace in Israel we pray the amidah’s last brocha three times a day, Hameveraych es amo Yisrael Bshalom. He blesses his people Israel with peace. In talking about
” the environment of the IDF not being conducive to those who are Shomrei Torah U’Mitzvos” I take issue with that premise. Reality in my view is the opposite because a person involved in a Milchemet Mitzvah (Torah mandated war)is allowed many temporary exemptions from halacha like eating nonkosher food and having sex with a Yifas Torah a non Jewish captive of war. A Torah commandment is to fight a Milchemet Mitzva. Therefore those who are sitting around and not learning the proper quota but using the learning exemption during a Torah mandated Milchemet Mitzvah are being mvatel a Mitzvahs Asay(shirking from a Torah commandment) . Its kind of like a Jew dressed in frum clothes not laying tefillin or not saying Shema at the proper time or not learning Torah. Food for thought
“Please provide documentation of both the possible Kol Koreh and the alleged en masse return of vacationing yeshiva bochrim to their battle stations in the bataei medresh during the Melchemet Mitzvah Lebanon Summer 2006.
Comment by Gary Shulman — March 9, 2007 @ 3:15 am”
I sense some skepticism here. Surely, Gary Shulman will now offer documentation of his own actions during the same period.
“Gary Shulman will now offer documentation of his own actions during the same period”
I was on CC during the period in question, so I can provide the following:
Mr Gary Shulman is not getting special treatment, a defferment from the IDF for learning Torah because Mr. GS is not an Israeli citizen. I davened both at a minyan and silently as I watched CNN and FOX NEWS report on Achaynu kol bais Yisrael hansunim btzara obshevya. Oh by the way I had a fight (verbal) with a gvir in shul who did not think it was proper to make a mshebairach for the Israeli soldiers.
Thank you S,Bob Miller Baruch Horowitz and Johnathan Rosenblum for answering my questions.
August 2, 2006
Gedolei Yisrael on Bein Hazmanim
Filed by Jonathan Rosenblum @ 6:27 am
A Call to Bnei Hayeshivos from Rav Y. S. Elyashiv, Rav A. L. Steinman and Rav M. Y. Lefkowitz
Ain bais Medresh Blei Chidush, There is no House of Torah Study without learning something new. Tizku Lmitzvot, Merit doing mitzvot
Gary, you almost made me want to sign up and go have a good time with the girls in the army. Unfortuantely, your argument is wrong.
The law of a Yifas Toar is only during the fighting, its not a general exemption given for joinging the army. Any other heterim are also undoubtedly according to the need – the army cannot serve non-kosher just because its cheaper or easier. I am also not sure that there is a mitzva to join when the army has enough manpower. (Keep in mind that we no longer have general conscription, and I would imagine that in a professional army there is no demand for every able-bodied man to join.) If you thought it was a milchemes mitzva, you would sign up regardless of your citizenship, and you would serve beyond the standard three years.
The IDF clearly does not need any more manpower, so the issue comes down to a question of social fairness – why should the chareidim not fight. On this point it is entirely legitimate for them to say that as long as the army will not accomodate them where it can, they do not have to serve. Their social responsibility does not mean that the secular army can dictate the conditions under which they serve.
That being said, I think that the chareidim would be better off to arrange units that allowed them to serve without presenting any needless religious challenges.
Gary Shulman: “… gvir in shul who did not think it was proper to make a mshebairach for the Israeli soldiers.”
GS, what was the fellow’s argument? How about mshebairach for the soldiers held prisoners by Hitzballah and Hamas? No go? How about J. Pollard? CC requested us some time ago to notify them of interesting topics or articles we came across. I called their attention to two articles on Pollard, one in the Jerusalem Post, the other in Jewish Observer. I wonder whether CC felt J. Pollard and his fate are not newsworthy, or that it is not “American” to show sympathy for him.