Responses to Charedi Spring, Continued
“There is just so much good coming from that community”
I’m wondering if you can list some- especially of the type that comes from them as Charedim (i.e., if the State does the same thing, it doesn’t count). Oh, and I wouldn’t count tzedakah etc. that responds to self-imposed problems.
I actually really want to know. Sometimes you wonder why the community needs to exist at all.
Dear Reb Nachum,
I do hope that the question is largely rhetorical – that you figured you could evoke a response this way. Although we often/usually disagree, I’ve always seen your comments as coming from the mind of a true charedi, i.e. someone who is chared le-devar Hashem, who urgently wishes to respond to the the Will of the Almighty.
If I am not incorrect, then you know full well about the contributions of the charedi community. Rav Saadya Gaon famously observed, “This nation is a nation only by way of its Torah.” Experientially, that has meant not only commitment to its values and precepts, but excellence in its study. We remain true to its call only when there are people learning and teaching Torah on the highest levels.
Baruch Hashem, Torah institutions thrive in all parts of the Orthodox world. But where do you go when you are really stuck on a sugya, or when you need an area of halacha explored from the ground up, where there are no preexisting teshuvos to cite?
To people who have real experience in Torah study, I don’t believe there is much of a question. There is great Torah in many parts of the Orthodox world, but the best and deepest is still the province of Israeli charedim.
I’ve visited yeshivos across the spectrum; I read the halacha journals all across the continuum. Techumin often has wonderful contributions; do you see them matching or coming close to Dibros Moshe or Minchas Yitzchok of a generation ago? You are not going to find anything close to the incisiveness of R. Shach on the Rambam, the Steipler on the daf; and today – yibadel le-Chaim, the precision in all four chelkei Shulchan Aruch of R Elyashiv and R Vozner.
There is a reason why the best of YU wind up spending some time at Mir Yerushalayim, and the chief halachic voices wind up consulting with R Elyashiv on the world-class issues.
If you’ve spent time in quality learning, and enjoyed the footnotes in the Mosad Rav Kook Ritva, you’ve noticed a vast difference in the quality of the footnotes. Have you taken notes on where the authors of the best quality volumes come from?
The quality of learning (yes, I know there is lots of mediocrity as well, but those volumes don’t survive the lifetimes of their authors) serves as both resource and lodestar to everyone else.
Charedim would be indispensible were it only for the quality of the Torah coming from their camp.
I reject your rejection of finding merit in their tzedaka projects. Yes, some of them address the self-imposed poverty of their own group. But charedim have also taken leadership positions in tzedaka and chesed organizations that help everyone in Klal Yisrael, without discrimination.
Can you imagine a Jewish world without the global assistance available through Chabad? I fully reject the anti-Zionism of Satmar, but would shudder to think of how different the hospital experience of hundreds of Jews every week in NY would be without the army of Satmar volunteers fanning across all the hospitals of the Big Apple.
Principled opposition to major themes of a group should not mean that we have to become blind to their laudable accomplishments. Isn’t that the very essence of what we find abhorrent in the inability of too many in the mainstream charedi world in Israel – its inability to relate to all the positive in the Dati Leumi world that she should recognize as precious in the eyes of Hashem? Should others be guilty of the same mistake in looking at the charedim?