Good Questions To Ask Ourselves

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54 Responses

  1. chardal says:

    Very interesting article about R’ Dovid Bloch was published this week in beSheva. An online version can be found a the http://www.inn.co.il/Besheva site

  2. Ellen says:

    Maybe it starts even before putting oneself in the other’s shoes – it starts with not making “promises” which are clear threats, and not calling others by ex-communicative names.

  3. SA says:

    “We’ve opted to allow our public officials and pundits to curse out all the secular all the time.”

    Unfortunately, and we all know this, such remarks against the secular, in public and/or internationally broadcast forums, have come from much higher up than merely chareidi “public officials and pundits.”

    It has been very hard over the years for us to be able to explain this to our children.

  4. dr. bill says:

    as in the old joke, a version of mom’s on the roof. however, two things said are noteworthy.

    first, he ascribes the reason to separate to “educational reasons to withdraw.” while “educational” is better than “halakhic” it is not as accurate as “religious.” in any event, does a confined religious environment, produce gedolim?

    second, implying that the preservation of Torah is a more important value than the preservation of life or yosher, etc. is an assumption, and a questionable one.

    as the CS said, things take time, or in his idiom – “chadash assur min hatorah.” while an improvement, it is time to pick up the pace.

    i am sure that if the likes of RZNG and RAW were told to negotiate with RAL and RYA, we would have a practical halakhic solution. ask why that does not happen.

  5. Baruch Friedman says:

    I happen to think the substance of R’Bloch is worth considering. But as to R’ Adlerstein’s touting of this call coming from within the Haredi world. This is established by the fact that a. he studied in Ponevezh, b. he is a rosh kollel, c. he is head of the Haredi wing of the army. Yet a quick internet search (just check his Herew Wikepedia page) reveals that a. the institutions with which R. BLoch is affiliated are tichoni, not haredi. b. R. Bloch is a long-time critic of the Haredi lifestyle. c. He is a disciple of R. Gedaliah Nadel, who was himself an iconoclast who eschewed much of what Haredi society stands for. The fact that R’ Bloch founded and heads the Netzach program is, if anything, an immediate giveaway that he is not a card carrying member of Haredi society. So, again, without trying at all to discredit the substance of what he says, this is no Haredi call for inrospection.

  6. Crazy Kanoiy says:

    Mostly true and very sad. However many Hareidi newspapers do report positivley on chessed done by secular Israelis. When Israel sent a tent hospital to Haiti many Hareidi newspapers took pride in it. Furthermore many Hareidi novels glorify the Mossad and Shin Bet so I am not sure that it is all as simple as it seems.

  7. Mr. Cohen says:

    In the last year of his life, Rabbi Avigdor Miller ZTL
    said in front of 100 (approximately) people and tape recorders
    that we should pray for the IDF.
    I personally witnessed this; I was there.

  8. Raymond says:

    If I am not mistaken, no less an authority than the Rambam himself, advocating getting the truth from wherever one may find it. So the point of the list of questions above is not the purity of the person who asked the above challenging questions, but rather to consider the possibility that these challenges have merit. And indeed, it is so abundantly clear that they do. How is it admirable for somebody to become a Torah scholar on the backs of taxpayer money? I seem to recall that the great Torah sages of our Talmud, all engaged in self-sustaining professions, regardless of the status of their particular jobs. And let us not forget that Rashi sold wine, the Rambam and Ramban were both doctors, the Abarbanel was the Secretary of the Treasury of Spain, and the Ramchal was a lens grinder in Holland, of all things. Furthermore, the extreme intolerance and narrow-mindedness shown by too many so-called religious Jews, is not exactly encouraging to those Jews who might have considered such a lifestyle. Forcing women to sit in the back of the bus because one just cannot manage to control one’s passions like an adult should, only brings shame to G-d’s Chosen People. Are we not supposed to be at the forefront of a civilized and dignified people?

  9. shmuel says:

    Another thing that is touched on by R’ Bloch but not made explicit enough is that the ‘burden’ of military service includes not just long marches and getting yelled at by a drill sergeant, but also the risk (and G-d forbid the loss) of one’s life, while those refusing to serve in favor of Torah study or anything else aren’t subject to any such risk. An explicit recognition of this by the charedi community and an attempt to incorporate it into attempts to justify draft exemptions would result in some valuable introspection as well as possibly a more persuasive case for the continuation of some or all of the exemptions.

  10. Eli says:

    “In the last year of his life, Rabbi Avigdor Miller ZTL
    said in front of 100 (approximately) people and tape recorders
    that we should pray for the IDF.
    I personally witnessed this; I was there.”

    Rav Miller was also against Kollel for all, and believed the husband should be the breadwinner (and therefore king of the home). He obviously is not for the Israeli Charaidi system.

  11. Bob Miller says:

    It can be jarring when one side of a dispute wants communication, instruction and obligation to flow from it to the other side, but not to it from the other side. We detect an unfair kind of asymmetry. After all, both sides are made up of people with the usual human wants and needs. Where does one group get off trying to dictate in a high and mighty way to another?

    But…what if the other side’s sincerely held belief system was objectively and fundamentally antithetical to Torah, but one’s own, while imperfectly applied in practice, was basically aligned with Torah? Should one shove this truth aside?

  12. GS says:

    I often daven at a Chariedi place that adds a tefilla for tzahal on shabbos. For the regular mispalelim who hear it weekly it is not a chiddush, but for first time visitors it turns theirs heads. There is MUCH room for improvement in this area.

  13. DF says:

    Well, its rather tepid. And some of the questions make it appear as though the problems were only of appearances and marketing, rather than of actual substance. But still and all, it’s a positive sign. And yes, as you wrote, a kind of mirror-image type of list can be made for secular Jews. (“We claim to be tolerant, so why aren’t we tolerant of those with a different religious outlook?”) But not quite sure how this technique could be flipped on to DL Jews, not 12 questions worth, at least.

    • Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

      I haven’t put them together yet, but some of the potential questions stand out: We in the DL camp claim to appreciate Torah study as much as anyone else. If so, why do we never make even begrudging acknowledgment of level of excellence of Torah scholarship in parts of the haredi world? Why are we loathe to admit that even if universal exemption for yeshiva students must end in our opinion, we think it would be disastrous not to leave intact an exemption for a Torah elite? While we believe that the present situation is untenable, why are we not in mourning over the impending loss of some of the glory of the greatest Torah revolution in Jewish history?

  14. lacosta says:

    i don’t know if baruch friedman is saying that 1] the questions are valid but the source has no haredi cred or 2] the haredi community need not be asking itself these questions , as no legitimate haredi leader would acknowledge any of it to be true….

  15. Baruch Friedman says:

    Lacosta: The first (I don’t quite understand the second…).

  16. SA says:

    @Rabbi Adlerstein — I”m not sure your potential questions for the DL camp are valid. There isn’t a single DL yeshiva or posek that doesn’t make use of the wealth of scholarship — certainly with regard to halacha — that has emerged from the haredi world (after all, the DL yeshiva world as we know it is only a few decades old). Many of the proposals on the table for the Haredi draft, including the one proposed by the disbanded Plesner Committee last year, do indeed allow exemptions for exceptional scholars. The question is, who would decide who qualifies for what would be a limited number of such exemptions?

    And finally, why do you think we must mourn some impending loss? Why not take the approach that for the 70 years after the Holocaust, a focus on rebuilding a Torah foundation was so desperately needed that the Torah world had to make Torah-only the ideal, while at this point, perhaps, this regimen can be relaxed and the Torah world can begin to return to a more balanced approach in which both learning AND doing is the ideal? Incidentally, this last question of yours ignores the fact that this great Torah revolution has also taken place in the United States and other countries, where the issue of military service had nothing to do with it.

    My two cents: Perhaps Hakadosh Baruch Hu is now arranging the circumstances to force us into this more balanced approach. In Israel, this is being done via the emerging political constellation, while in the United States and elsewhere, the pressure is being applied by economic forces. It could be that these are the birth pangs of a process aimed at channeling us toward ultimately being able to run a modern Jewish state as we approach the era of Moshiach.

    [YA – There is much truth to all of the above, but it does not address my point. Let’s say, for the purpose of argument, that tomorrow morning everyone wakes up with the utter conviction that things must change. Everyone agrees that the Chazon Ish’s mandate for special focus on the revitalization of Torah has expired, and that we must all move back to a more traditional balance. How ought we feel about that? What I see is haredim going into mourning over the loss of what in some regards (yes, not in all) was a golden age. From my friends in the DL community, what I have detected so far is something between indifference and gloating. I don’t hear groans over the loss of all that Torah intensity, all the focus that created the “wealth of scholarship” that the more serious bnei Torah in the DL community draw from themselves. That is worrisome to me. It suggests that there are people who certainly value Torah, but do not place it on the same pedestal that others do – including Ameican RWMO-LWH types. My hope is that those in the DL camp who do share the same appreciation of Torah – for themselves, their children, and for its mystical value of bonding the Shechinah to our world – are too busy learning to take part in blogs.

    In other words, sometimes HKBH arranges circumstances such that we must do things that are not our first Torah choices. We must do them, but that does not mean we should be happy when HKBH sends us a task that will take us away from the beis medrash for a week. As a community, many of us realize that the situation must change – both in Israel and here in the US. We ought not be dancing on the tabletops to celebrate, however.]

  17. Nachum says:

    “We in the DL camp claim to appreciate Torah study as much as anyone else. If so, why do we never make even begrudging acknowledgment of level of excellence of Torah scholarship in parts of the haredi world?”

    Because yatza secharo b’hefsedo?

    “Why are we loathe to admit that even if universal exemption for yeshiva students must end in our opinion, we think it would be disastrous not to leave intact an exemption for a Torah elite?”

    Because we don’t believe it would be disastrous? Point to a bunch of gedolim produced by the current system that would not have existed without it. I can point to many gedolim who didn’t need it.

    “While we believe that the present situation is untenable, why are we not in mourning over the impending loss of some of the glory of the greatest Torah revolution in Jewish history?”

    What glory? See above. I see more people learning than ever- what’s the result?

  18. Eli says:

    “If so, why do we never make even begrudging acknowledgment of level of excellence of Torah scholarship in parts of the haredi world? Why are we loathe to admit that even if universal exemption for yeshiva students must end in our opinion, we think it would be disastrous not to leave intact an exemption for a Torah elite?”

    Because becomeing a Gadol and/or Amailus B’Torah does not require being part of the “haredi world”, nor does it require not being in the army (V’Harayah, the Steipler, who was in the RUSSIAN army, not one that followed the Torah and took off time for sedarim). The reason for a continued exemption is that it is justified, similar to gifted students in other disciplines, (certainly if they do help the state such as Limud HaTorah, but) even if they do not help the state (such as music or sport). The state has an inherent interest to allow those who are gifted to use their gifts.

  19. dr. bill says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein, you ask 2 questions:

    1) …why do we never make even begrudging acknowledgment of level of excellence of Torah scholarship in parts of the haredi world?

    2) While we believe that the present situation is untenable, why are we not in mourning over the impending loss of some of the glory of the greatest Torah revolution in Jewish history?

    Your first question amazes me. In my circles, we do acknowledge great scholars broadly. If anything, you can ask why chareidim rarely acknowledge RAL or even RAW or RZNG?

    Your second question should acknowledge the generous quota of exemptions that are part of various plans. I hope that a fair mechanism to insure exemptions are awarded fairly is established.

  20. dovid2 says:

    ” Moreover, not a single Mashgiach or Rosh Yeshiva ever talks about it [
    show gratitude to the soldiers who risked their lives and were killed or injured for our sake, too.] in a Mussar Schmooze …..”

    This is patently false. R’ Yecheskel Levenstein, R’ Chaim Shmulewitz, Rav Shach, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, R’ Israel Zev Gustman repeatedly urged the yeshiva world to daven for the Israeli soldiers. Two commentators above added R’ Avigdor Miller to this illustruous list.

  21. lacosta says:

    to baruch friedman—- the non haredi cred of the questions writer are symptomatic of the problem… we have to hope that the Gdolim would agree that many/most/all of the list are valid problems , but that for Kavod Hatora , i guess, we are not allowed to talk openly of such issues —it’s almost or maybe IS a hillul hahsem to admit that the olam hatorah has issues , and those issues are a byproduct of the dictates that the olam hatora has been directed to follow… but if kavod hatora mandates a suppresion of delineating pathologies , something doesnt make sense….

  22. lacosta says:

    Bob Miller asks—-

    But…what if the other side’s sincerely held belief system was objectively and fundamentally antithetical to Torah, but one’s own, while imperfectly applied in practice, was basically aligned with Torah? Should one shove this truth aside?

    —-and therein lays the whole gestalt of the haredi/DL-MO divide . the former , who sees the latter groups as fundamentally flawed in doxy and praxy , can therefor be disparaged [ in fact they would argue halacha mandates havdala between right/wrong good/evil; hence the profound level of reaction by true haredim against zionism and its abizraot]. in regards to itself , it can argue that since the doxy of haredism is the One True Derech, any flaws can be minimized , and external criticism must be seen definitionally as Sinat Hashem vTorato…..

    the MO/DL communities are , to a fault non-judgemental , especially internally, not being mvatel, not drawing borders [ eg is there no limit to how LW LWMO can go and no one reacts?] . but because they know that the Right sees them as wrong , they always are looking over their shoulder….

  23. L. Oberstein says:

    It may require a “sequester” to change the status quo. This topic has been argued for too long, it is time for a sea change and the time is now. Does Netanyahu have the guts to do what he knows is right , to find a path to integration. It is obvious to anyone that the underlying issue is fear, the chareidim legitimately fear the disintigration of their whole way of life if their children are exposed to the outside world. They look upon American chareidim,who have college degrees and identify as bnai torah as on a much lower level than them. The American system needs greater exposure in Israel so that it is not an all or nothing situation. Cutting the subsidies, making entering the work force and job training easier and readily available and enacting laws to prevent anti chareidi discrimination in the work force will gradually change things. I remember when George Wallace said”Segregation forever” and today Alabama honors Rosa Parks. Maybe imposing integration will free the segregationists from their prison of fear.

  24. David F. says:

    Interesting to note that when this article was posted, virtually the only comments were from those who not only agreed with them, but added some of their own. None of the usual Charedi apologists [a group of which I’m usually a member] said a word in defense of the Charedi. Are these questions painful to contemplate? Darn right. Do I have some responses to some of the questions? Absolutely. Yet, I didn’t dare post them. Instead, I decided to spend good time thinking about them and allowing the ones that have real merit to sink in.
    Rabbi Adlerstein then posted a few almost benign questions for the DL crowd. None of them were critical of the DL approach. Rather, they wondered whether the DL community couldn’t be a bit more charitable and sympathetic toward the Charedi world. I assume he has other questions on the DL approach. I know that I do.
    Wonder of wonders – instantly six comments appear defending the DL approach. So much for open-mindedness and acceptance of criticism.

  25. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Thanks for posting this. I think that some of the items that R. Block has chosen to “accept” or be “acceptable” are part of the problem. Also, while every community could benefit from corrective soul searching, I don’t think you’ll find it so easy to “flip” this around to other communities. As your 3 examples show:

    “We in the DL camp claim to appreciate Torah study as much as anyone else.If so, why do we never make even begrudging acknowledgment of level of excellence of Torah scholarship in parts of the haredi world?”

    This is simply not true. Many DL’s will study for some time in “Chareidi” Yeshivas for that reason. Also, many DL Rabbanim show demonstrable respect toward the Chareidi gedolim and their Torah knowledge. (Something which is rarely reciprocated.)

    “Why are we loathe to admit that even if universal exemption for yeshiva students must end in our opinion, we think it would be disastrous not to leave intact an exemption for a Torah elite?

    This is just false. Every plan proposed, even from Labor, contains just such an exemption. Actually, it’s the Chareidi leadership who largely reject such an idea by derogatorily referring to it as a forced “quota system”.

    “While we believe that the present situation is untenable, why are we not in mourning over the impending loss of some of the glory of the greatest Torah revolution in Jewish history?”

    That’s one way to look at it, but, IMHO, a negative way. Why would/should one mourn over success? Does one mourn when they graduate medical school? When they finish Shas?

    If anything, the “glory” of this revolution is being marred by diminishing returns resulting from not knowing how to properly capitalize on this success. A company that has reached maturity and become highly successful cannot afford to be run in the same way as when it was in a “growth” mode. The very idea that the leadership is “mourning” this success is really at the core of the problem. If the system collapses and all the gains of the last 60 years are lost due to this lack of vision, that WILL be something to mourn.

    There ARE plenty of problems in the DL world. Such as,
    – a loss of mission to a messianic obsession with the “land”.
    – an insecurity that’s resulting in growing Chareidization

  26. Menachem Lipkin says:

    David F., the fact that people took issue with R. Adlerstein’s suggestions does not prove that the “DL crowd” is less open minded. (Just FYI DL and MO are NOT the same.) First of all, while people here haven’t critiqued Rabbi Bloch’s article, they have in other places it was published. Also, maybe, as I showed, R. Adlersteins’ questions aren’t all that “benign” or valid. And, finally the very fact that R. Adlerstein posed these questions is, in and of itself, a “response”. Like I said, there’s plenty of room to “criticize” both MO and DL, but at the outset to be worthy of contemplation, the criticism has to be factually valid.

  27. SA says:

    To David F: Well, actually, I was addressing Rabbi Adlerstein’s questions specifically, not the DL approach in general, since I perceived some inaccuracies in them (for example, the issue of exemptions for serious talmidei chachamim.) He later clarified that his questions were partially based on some kind of “gloating, dancing-on-tables” attitude that he perceives among his acquaintances. That was saddening, actually, because I don’t perceive too much gloating or table-dancing in my circles here in Israel, just an acknowledgement that the time has come for change — and that, unfortunately, that change is going to have to be forced by outsiders.

    May I also suggest that you be somewhat careful about deciding what the “DL approach” is, since there are so many DL approaches. It wasn’t until my oldest son took a “Torato Umnato” deferral for four years to study in a Zionist yeshiva gedola before doing his stint in the army did I even realize how many such yeshivas there are in Israel and how many guys must be learning there. (For some reason, the IDF doesn’t seem to have stats on how many boys getting TU deferrals are actually dati-leumi and not Haredi. In theory that should be easy to compile based on the yeshiva the boy is registered in, but the military reporter for the paper I worked for tried to get such stats and failed.)

    Meanwhile, I would be fascinated to hear your responses to Rabbi Bloch’s questions, as I’m sure others would be. Why don’t you dare?

  28. Eli says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein, as many have already noted, to say that those in the DL/MO world don’t recognise (the vast amounts of) charedi scholarship is a little unfair. I attended a DL yeshiva and charedi scholarship was often quoted. However, you could ask more searching questions such as:
    1. Why, in parts the MO/DL world, is there what I call ‘selective halachic observance'(e.g. you will find that in many parts on the DL/MO world married women do not cover their hair)?
    2. Why, in general, is the chashivus HaTorah in DL/MO yeshivas not as great as it is in charedi ones? In a DL yeshiva you will probably (I say probably because I haven’t visited them all) hear many shmoozes about the importance of living in EY, but fewer about chashivus HaTorah than you would probably hear in the average charedi yeshiva?

  29. attended kollel but have some questions says:

    In addition to all the questions listed above regarding it’s relationship with the outside world, there is another question I have for the kollel system.

    If you have bought into the system, you likely learned in kollel for as many years as you could. You went on to survive financially for as many years as possible in chinuch and continue to eek it out in some other sort of job after that, perhaps chinuch related. Now your kids are supposed to do the same thing. The catch is you don’t have any cash to make that happen, unlike your parents who were able to help because they weren’t part of the kollel/chinuch.

    Your children are probably aware of this, and yet somehow, are supposed to get married and lean on their parents to pay off debts for x amount of years to support them in kollel.

    I know of more than one such situation when after the 5 years of support were up, which came at great cost in many ways, the children guilted the parents (and in-laws) into continuing the support for more years.

    How can a daughter do this to her parents? How can she respect her husband for doing this to her parents.

    I think that while we have built up the world of Torah in some ways, we have also created a terrible cultural dynamic, where the most basic concept found in the Aseres HaDibros, has been turned on its head. Now the children, well into their adulthood, demand the parents take care of them. I thought it was supposed to work the other way around. And I thought this relationship was supposed to be the model by which we grow in our relationship with Hashem. If we have turned the child/parent relationship upside down, what does that indicate about our relationship with Hashem?
    SOmething is very wrong with this picture.

  30. lacosta says:

    let’s add more critique of DL/MO communities.

    1] when one uses the term ‘olam hatora’ , someone haredi is what will come to mind. res ipse loquitor.

    2] the percent of populace SERIOUS about their avodas hashem has to be higher in haredi communities. . in fact many comunities could be classified
    as lechatchila bedieved as their modus operandi

    3] as a trebbie once called it ‘tora pepsi cola’ —saying tora vavoda etc implies something other than talmud tora kneged kulam

    4] the fact that > 90 % of what MO/DL learn inside is arguably product of hareid lifestyle speaks for itself … as does the fact that most klai kodesh [ mohel, shochet, teacher, etc] is not MO in origin [maybe DL is different]

    5] MO/DL have not proven that they will last — the center rarely holds, and maybe they will assimilate rightward and leftward —to either haredism or hilonism , with no trace left in the center

    6] haredim would rather be frum than poor. career choice is a secondary minor inconvenience. they don’t look to a career for ”fulfillment”

    there, that’s a start ….

  31. L says:

    Menachem Lipkin, you wrote:

    “There ARE plenty of problems in the DL world. Such as,
    – a loss of mission to a messianic obsession with the “land”.
    – an insecurity that’s resulting in growing Chareidization”

    The first one is a problem. The second one is not a problem-it’s an indicator of a problem. Would you be critical of Chareidim who would get upset if their children decided to affiliate with the DL community? Then is it reasonable to disdain the notion of DL youth choosing a Chareidi path? The problem then is not that DL individuals opt to live a more Chareidi lifestyle, it’s that something in the DL model is not satisfying or fulfilling them.

  32. Dovid Shlomo says:

    Dovid2:

    You noted that some great gedolim of the past did express gratitude to and concern for Israeli soldiers.

    This is true.

    However, Rabbi Bloch spoke in the present tense: ” Moreover, not a single Mashgiach or Rosh Yeshiva ever talks about it [
    show gratitude to the soldiers who risked their lives and were killed or injured for our sake, too.] in a Mussar Schmooze …..”

    Rabbi Bloch’s observation conforms 100% with my experience over the past several decades, both in haredi kollelim and haredi shuls.

    Even when there is a military action, the best that can be said is that we should daven for “the matzav” — never, ever for “the soldiers.”

    The passing of RSZA was perhaps the greatest tragedy and the most significant turning point in haredi culture of the past 25 years. As long as he was alive to set an example, this type of thinking woould not have taken hold as it has today.

  33. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Lacosta, sadly, you seem to have missed what is so compelling about Rabbi Bloch’s list. He’s not out to critique or bash Chareidi ideology, in fact he consistently validates it. What he does is to try to get Chaeirim to understand both how they can appear to non-Chareidim and how some of their positions visa vis non-Chareidim can be seen as inconsistent, hypocritical and/or offensive.

    Like you, anyone can do a hatchet job on someone else’s ideology (do you really want someone to reciprocate your “list”??) from the (questionable) frame of reference that their own is the “right”, “only”, or “historical correct” way to go.

  34. Shaya Karlinsky says:

    Dovid2:
    It is interesting and very revealing that every one of the Roshei Yeshivas and Mashgichim you mentioned are no longer alive. Having had a small connection with three of the five, I can say safely that a) they did talk publicly about the imperative for hakarat hatov to soldiers and b) I am not aware of any Roshei Yeshiva or Mashgichim of stature in the Yeshiva world today saying anything of the kind. Certainly b’derech hateva, and possibly even as midah k’neged midah, I suspect this is one of the reasons for the great antipathy shown by both the secular and the DL world to the charedi world today.

  35. chardal says:

    Wow lacosta, way to take the chareidi value system and critisize RZ for not evaluating themselves according to its strictures.

    >1] when one uses the term ‘olam hatora’ , someone haredi is what will come to mind. res ipse loquitor.

    This is a modern term invented by chareidim for chareidim. Why should anyone other than chareidim come to mind? This sociological model is unprecedented in Jewish history, so why is the burden of proof on the RZ to “appologize” that we don’t structure our communities in the same way?

    >2] the percent of populace SERIOUS about their avodas hashem has to be higher in haredi communities. . in fact many comunities could be classified
    as lechatchila bedieved as their modus operandi

    So you are bochen klayot vaLev now? I am sure there are plenty of people who are serious about their avodas Hashem in all communities – that is sincere that what they are doing is leShem Shamayim and is the correct model for the Jewish world. I am also sure that there are people in all camps that are not so serious. Since this is empirically impossible to gauge, it is a ridiculous argument for any RZ to make about themselves. According to our system of values, we are doing quite fine.

    >3] as a trebbie once called it ‘tora pepsi cola’ —saying tora vavoda etc implies something other than talmud tora kneged kulam

    Do you want to start listing all of the [blank] keNeged kulam in the gemara/midrashim? There are many others. And I would like to add that in the debate regarding which is better talmud or maaseh, the decision in favor or talmud is based on the fact that talmud leads to maaseh. A talmud that only exists as a self-referencing value is not something that was under discussion. That of course means that since torah is not a value but rather a meta-value – a source for values and a method by which to weight them against each other. I fail to see how one can critize tora vaAvoda. All it means is that we must react to the chareidi attempt of creating a Torah world that is isolated from the normative stream of life needs a counter weight that recognizes the fact that some things you can only understand by leaving the beit midrash. It is an attempt to restore balance

    >4] the fact that > 90 % of what MO/DL learn inside is arguably product of hareid lifestyle speaks for itself

    ??? Considering that DL don’t consider anything before the Chatam Sofer to be chareidi, I can not see how this is true. We of course learn Torah from all camps, but most of the learning comes from texts that precede era when then term chareidi was relevant.

    > as does the fact that most klai kodesh [ mohel, shochet, teacher, etc] is not MO in origin

    All my kids’ teachers are RZ. We have about 3 mohelim in our yeshuv. WI don’t know who shechts the meat at our market, but I know 2 shochtim who live in our yeshuv, both with a kipa seruga. Our sofrei stam are also RZ, and there are entire networks of batei din leMamonot etc. In other words, our community here in Israel is in no way dependant on the chareidi community, neither in Torah nor religious services.

    >5] MO/DL have not proven that they will last — the center rarely holds, and maybe they will assimilate rightward and leftward —to either haredism or hilonism , with no trace left in the center

    Neither have chareidim. Who knows what will be in 100 years. I doubt it will look like any of the current groups. That is the way of history. In the here and now, everyone has an obligation to fight for they think is right.

    >6] haredim would rather be frum than poor. career choice is a secondary minor inconvenience. they don’t look to a career for ”fulfillment”

    This is nothing that a RZ person would be proud of. Never mind the fact that in a modern state, poverty is not an individual choice but a hardship on the middle class which has to – in the final analysis – pay for people who choose to be poor. Poverty is not something to be proud of in the RZ derech. In our world, people are proud of the ability to contibute to klal Yisrael in any way possible – including economic. We also think that people should have a melacha and enjoy it – make a kiddush Hashem in any and all areas of life. Again, you are criticising from a chareidi perspective, this makes no sense for a RZ to say about themselves.

    If you want to see the cheshbon nefesh of the RZ, open up any RZ periodical. We are hardly a triumphalist community and readily criticize ourselves when we feel there is room for criticism. What you wrote are just chareidi critiques of RZ and would make no sense for RZ to say about themselves.

  36. Dr. E says:

    Dovid2

    There is one thing that all of the Torah personalities have in common. They are no longer in this world. As they say, “hadra kushta l’duchta”, inasmuch as the contemporary state of affairs has not yielded anyone “willing to go out on (such) a limb”.

    As for the attitude of the DL community, let me give an analogy. School bus breaks down and the driver is waiting on the side of the road for someone to stop and help the bus that is filled with kids. Cars of VIP’s in limos go by and ignore the driver and the kids. The profundity of the conversation taking place in the car, at that point, is wholly irrelevant to the driver in his situation. He and the kids are trying to get to school and need a helping hand. I presume that is one of the reasons for any disenfranchisement (and lack of recognition/respect) of the DL community towards the Chareidi Torah community. The DL community literally has skin in the game giving of themselves and their kids. They are driving the second-hand cars and not the limos.

    That being said, everyone knows that the Hesder Yeshiva world for the most part is learning the same traditional Rambams, Reb Chaims’, Kitzos’, and Nesivos Shaloms as the Chareidi world. Perhaps they just identify more with those giants in the Chareidi world who are in the Next World, than those who are now in this one.

  37. DF says:

    “Moral equivalency” is a phrase we use derisively when assessing media reports on the Middle East. We dont like that the media, rather than recognizing terrorism for what it is, acts as though both Israel and its antagonists are equally guilty. Mutatis lehavdil, isnt that exactly what’s going on here?

    I’ve not yet seen a question here that undermines the Dati Leumi way of life. Nearly all the questions begin from Charedi premises, and then ask why we dont find that premise among the DL, as though it was a problem. For example, someone asks why “chashivus Hatorah” – by which he can only mean the concept of Gedolim veneration – isnt found among the DL. That’s like someone proving the inferiority of Charedim by noting the absence of kipah srugah. Other observations, such as “haredim would rather be frum than poor” [which everyone prefers, so I guess the writer means, “than rich”] presume the impossibility of both being frum and living a full life outside of frumkeit. Such questions are hardly “kashas” on the DL. They come from perspectives the DL simply dont share. R. Bloch’s questions on the Charedim, by marked contrast, begin from their OWN perspectives.

    I myself, for the record, am not in the dati-leumi community. And I do have certain reservations about that community, mainly social, that I’ve not seen discussedhere. But in good faith, I cannot see any moral equivalency between them and the Charedi world. Both groups have positive attributes within them. Both can produce sources to demonstrate their superior theological underpinnings. And both groups have produced, proportionate to their numbers, good and learned Jews on the one hand, and totally non observant Jews on the other. But one has done it by being self-sufficient, risking their lives for the country, and contributing to every facet of its thriving economy. The other has done it by living on welfare and food stamps, taking the charity from their brethren abroad, and alienating everyone else around them. How can anyone honestly make a moral equivalency here?

  38. Charlie Hall says:

    “selective halachic observance”

    We all can do better in observance. Just to give one example, my rabbi is a prison chaplain and he has numerous people from frum backgrounds in his “kehillah”.

    “90 % of what MO/DL learn inside is arguably product of hareid lifestyle ”

    Chazal, Rashi, Tosafot, and Rambam didn’t have charedi lifestyles. Most had to work, and many had extensive secular knowledge.

    “MO/DL have not proven that they will last”

    Well it has been over a century since Rabbi Y.Y. Reines opened the first yeshiva with secular studies, and also founded the Mizrachi movement. The MO shuls in my nbhd are packed every Shabat. And I davened tonight at an MO synagogue that is over 300 years old.

    “the center rarely holds”

    Yeats famously saw the collapse of the Center in messianic terms.

  39. Menachem Lipkin says:

    L said, “Would you be critical of Chareidim who would get upset if their children decided to affiliate with the DL community? Then is it reasonable to disdain the notion of DL youth choosing a Chareidi path? The problem then is not that DL individuals opt to live a more Chareidi lifestyle, it’s that something in the DL model is not satisfying or fulfilling them.”

    You’re making a lot of assumptions. First of all, I kind of just threw those two things out as “examples” since, as I said to lacosta, I don’t think this is really the place for such a discussion.

    But just to address you misconception. My comment was in regard to a DL move to the “right” in general, not “children” choosing a different, yet valid, path. Thus it’s not clear how you can say I disdain something I didn’t even say.

  40. YS says:

    I’d like to share a personal anecdote, which may or may not contribute to the discussion here.

    In the mid-to-late 1980’s, when I was in my first year at a Hesder Yeshiva, I was sitting on a bus in Yerushalayim, next to an English-speaking Charedi

    person, whose face was familiar to me but who I didn’t know personally at the time. I now believe that he was a fairly well-know Rosh Yeshiva. My memory

    might be playing tricks on me so I won’t name him.

    This pleasant person asked me what I was ‘up to’ in life and when I told him that I was in a Hesder Yeshiva and was going to be entering the IDF that summer,

    he became quite emotional. He movingly expressed his deep Hakoras HaTov to me and to all those like me, for protecting him and his family. I was very moved

    by his words.

    As time passed, my military service and perhaps my general maturation caused me to view this person’s words more cynically, even though they were clearly

    heart-felt. I realized that his emotions and kind words did not come close to compensating me for the rocks thrown at me in the Gaza Strip or the sleepless

    night I spent on the Lebanese border.

    However, at least my co-passenger felt and was able to express Hakoras HaTov to me for what what he recognized as my contribution to his family’s safety. I

    get the impression that now, over 25 years later, it’s very hard to find people in the Charedi world who feel as strongly as he did. Instead, the discourse

    coming from the direction of the Charedi world is that there’s very little reason to thank the soldiers

    for their service because the Charedi Yeshiva-bochrim are doing as much to protect their families as the soldiers who risk their lives.

    I certainly believe that most of the blame for this change in attitude lies with the people who circle the wagons whenever they’re requested to consider

    contributing to the country in ways other than learning and not with the rest of the country, which has gone out of its way to try come up with creative and

    flexible solutions to the problem.

  41. joel rich says:

    For the sake of posterity and those who learn from everything they read, iiuc the correct spelling is :
    Res ipsa loquitur (“the thing itself speaks”) )

    One thing I’ve noticed is that it is often used in the same manner as “clearly” is used in students’ math proofs (i.e. when one is missing a step in the proof)
    KT

  42. Yitzy Blaustein says:

    “90 % of what MO/DL learn inside is arguably product of hareid lifestyle ”

    “Chazal, Rashi, Tosafot, and Rambam didn’t have charedi lifestyles. Most had to work, and many had extensive secular knowledge.”

    When I was in yeshiva (a Haredi Yeshiva) I remember a student once telling me that if the Rambam had been alive today he would have been a Rosh Yeshiva in Ponovezh.

    Well, I imagine that had the Rambam applied for the job the hiring committee at Ponovezh would have taken a close look at what the Rambam wrote about taking money for learning and his extensive engagement with philosophy.

    I doubt he would have been offered the job.

  43. Bob Miller says:

    Today’s spectrum of Orthodox lifestyles (from “left” to “right”) is rather different than what existed pre-world-wars, so Charlie Hall has a good point about anachronistic labeling.

  44. dr. bill says:

    sometimes people take too narrow a perspective. even if MO/DL will not survive, an implausible hypothesis, the hashkafa/environment they create what may well be home to the children of today’s chareidim as their (self-imposed) ghetto crumbles. history has shown, that change will always result in some Jews, often vast numbers, abandoning their faith. only those who adapt, applying Torah principles to the new reality, have any chance of long term survival. and by its nature adaptation involves risk; not all efforts are beneficial/successful. but our job is to try honestly.

    our leaders have dealt with greater changes than modernity. often it took hundreds of years, with many a false start, for a path to established. we may be approaching a midpoint. as my late father ZL used to say: a nahr vaiyst min nisht kein halbe arbeit.

  45. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    These are important questions which need to be abosrbed. There is a good response to some (Rabbi Malinowitz’ “Suckerpunched” article, written regarding the muted response of Charedi leaders to the spitting incident, comes to mind), and to others there is not.

    Yet, there is are “fundamental” question that might trump them all:

    – Why are the Charedi Leumi just a step behind the non-Zionist Charedim as objects of antipathy (not only by Chilonim – within their own ranks they are objects of deep scorn; witness MKs Shai Peiron and Uri Orbach arguing over which of them can’t stand them more)?

    – Why are settlers equally despised, sometimes even more despised, than the Charedim?

    – Why is there a glass (actually steel) ceiling on religious Zionists rising the ranks of the IDF, in that there has never (!) been a RZ full general?

    – Why was Menachem Elon ob”m, despite his impeccable qualifications, not able to be President of Israel or of the Supreme Court?

    Expanding the thesis:

    – Why is it that when a deeply religious person becomes a national figure in the US, it is major news? Why is “fundamentalist” a dirty word in politics? In which country are religious fundamentalists any more than tolerated by mainstream society, other than fundamentalist countries?

    Do Jewish fundamentalists deny that they would be required by halachah to effect rather drastic change in Israel if they were to be in charge? That personal freedoms would be curtailed? (I’m not addressing left-wingers and academics now, that isn’t the discussion – whether or not halachah requires it. The question is what do fundamentalists think.) And that, therefore, secular society feels mortally threatened by ANY fundamentalism and the left-wing bastions, self-appointed watchdogs of the secular society (read: media and law) will do anything in their power to constrain them and keep them as fringe elements, with hatred as a potent weapon?

    Why are the Charedim disliked by those to their left? – partially because they think, if only we weren’t perceived as THAT fundamentalist, we would be loved. Why do the non-Charedi Leumi disdain the Charedi Leumi? – because they think, if only weren’t perceived as THAT fundamentalist, we would be loved.

    That’s the real question: Even if all these issues were addressed, the Charedim, and Charedi Leumi to a lesser degree, and any religious person to a lesser degree yet, would not stop being fundamentalists, who are to be feared, cast as “the other,” and outcasts.

  46. ChanaRachel says:

    Binyomin Eckstein-

    Please get your facts straight reagrding RZ full generals. General Yair Naveh is a religious zionist and is currently a full general and has been Deputy Chief of the General Staff since 2010.

  47. L. Oberstein says:

    I see that the discussion often comes down to chareidi attitudes towrds dati leumi. I think we have reached a critical junction in the road. If the new coalition keeps its promises, which is of course not something I would take to the bank yet, this will be a turning point in Chareidi life. More and more will be enticed, I do not think forced, into courses and programs,either with army or national service or without either. As moure enter the job force, they will impact on their neighbors and relatives who will see that it is possible to be a part of Israeli society without losing their identity . If more people see it as a possibility and the social ostracism is lesened, it will lead to a tidal wave.
    Israeli chareidim will begin slowly to look like their brethere in the US who work and learn and contribute to tzedakah and are active in all facets of society.
    I think I understand the fears, but the situation will now change for the better. It won’t destroy Yiddishkeit, it will actually impact on the rest of Israel for the better. As far as the many people who are in the dati leumi camp , maybe Bennet will lead you out of the wilderness of fixation on hilltops and make you part of normal Israeli society and you will return to the original Mizrachi, normal frumkeit without Messianism .

  48. dovid2 says:

    Dr. E writes: “There is one thing that all of the Torah personalities have in common. They are no longer in this world. As they say, “hadra kushta l’duchta”, inasmuch as the contemporary state of affairs has not yielded anyone “willing to go out on (such) a limb”.

    One way or another, you will find objections. I am charedi, daven and say tehilim for the Israeli soldiers. There are others like me. To that you will object that we ain’t no Torah personalities. Rabbi Steinman was instrumental in setting up the Nahal Chareidi battalion. You’ll argue that’s not enough.

    With regards to the caliber of learning, the litvische yeshivot have been towering over the other yeshivot in an absolute and conclusive way for centuries. These yeshivos were moser nefesh to uphold the quality of their learning.The Yeshiva of Volozhin chose to close down rather than submit to the dictates of the Yair Lapids of the their day. There is no secret that anyone in the frum velt, with a good head, who wants to learn, whether he is Chasidish, Sefardi, Yekke, will head to Brisk, Ponevezh, Slobodka, or Mir. For the record, can you tell us how many non-DL talmidim learn in the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva, the pre-eminent yeshiva of the DL community? I’m not say this to trash anyone. I am neither a litvak, nor an alumnus of these yeshivot. But recognize gadlut where you can find it. Don’t tell the others also learn the same gemarot, Rambams, and Kethos. They just couldn’t hold the candle to the b’nei yeshiva of any of the above mentioned litvishe Torah centres.

  49. Yitzy Blaustein says:

    Dovid2 wrote:

    “The Yeshiva of Volozhin chose to close down rather than submit to the dictates of the Yair Lapids of the their day.”

    This is a common myth. The real reason for the closure of Volozhin was the Netziv’s effort to install his son as Rosh Yeshivah. Read Shaul Stampfer’s *Lithuanian Yeshivas of the Nineteenth Century.*

  50. Baruch Gitlin says:

    When did this discussion get sidetracked into yet another “who learns better than who” or “who’s more true to the Torah” discussion between charedi and dati leumi?

    I have long felt that one of the most positive characterists of the charedi world – or at least the small corner of it that I once inhabited – is the emphasis on constant self-critique and striving for improvement – for want of a better term, lets call it mussar. What this article presents is what I feel is a long-needed mussar effort on the communal level. As an outsider, I’ll try to leave it there – God knows, we all have lots of room for improvement on both an individual and a communal level. I do hope, though – for the sake of the charedi community itself, and the broader Israeli public, neither of which can really separate from each other as much as they might want to – that there will be more people like the author of these 12 questions and those that have posted them – that will take the current political situation in Israel as an opportunity to look inward rather than lashing outward, in the best tradition of the mussar movement.

  51. DF says:

    Dovid2 also wrote the following: “Don’t tell the others also learn the same gemarot, Rambams, and Kethos. They just couldn’t hold the candle to the b’nei yeshiva of any of the above mentioned litvishe Torah centres.”

    That too, is, if not a myth, but a common mistake in charedi circles. They define “learning” to mean the type of learning done in the yeshivish world, and then assert that the learning in charedi circles is superior to non charedi circles. With all due respect to him, I’ve seen R. Adlerstein make the same mistake on this blog. The reality is that they’re mistaking quantity for quality, but even beyond that, it’s a question of how you define real learning. I daven in a standard yeshivish shul, and every week I hear divrei Torah from visting roshei yeshivas that are all but gibberish. Unfounded assertions abound, the same themes over and over, antectodes used as proofs, etc. I gain virtually nothing from this. But there is also a Harvard-educated, YU rabi in town to whom people flock, and whenever I hear him I come away with a new insight. By the same token, I gain more from a one hour lecture from Dr. Sid Leiman than I gain from most rosh yeshivas I’ve heard.

    The point is not to compare individuals. It’s just that what is considered learning in charedi circles doesnt cut it in the more modern world, and yes, absolutely, vice versa is also true. So it is simply not true to defend the charedi way of life on the basis of their superior learning. There are more of them in yeshiva, and they have a diffrent way of learning – but it is not better.

    [YA – This is an important enough challenge to deserve a fuller response, which now has been posted.]

  52. Charlie Hall says:

    “Why is it that when a deeply religious person becomes a national figure in the US, it is major news?”

    The most powerful Orthodox Jew in America — until Jack Lew’s recent appointment as Secretary of the Treasury — was Sheldon Silver, Speaker of the New York State Assembly for the past 19 years. I can only recall one time when his observance became a big story, when he refused to participate in budget negotiations on Pesach.

    And I haven’t seen a lot of media coverage of Lew’s observance, either. Rather, there has been much more about his illegible signature that will now appear on our currency, and about how he is one of the toughest budget negotiators in memory.

    “In which country are religious fundamentalists any more than tolerated by mainstream society, other than fundamentalist countries?”

    Northern Ireland. Not a good country to use as a model. The largest political party there was founded by Rev. Ian Paisley, who can accurately be described as an anti-Catholic bigot.

    “setting up the Nahal Chareidi battalion. You’ll argue that’s not enough.”

    Hopefully there will be many more such battalions. While charedi soldiers will need to rely on the halachic rulings of the IDF rabbinate (there are indeed many kulot for army service), the IDF should try to meet them more than halfway regarding lifestyle. I hope that the Charedi equivalent of the pre-army prep schools and the hesder yeshivot will develop as well; they have greatly reduced the fraction of DL soldiers who come out of the army non-religious. (And the IDF should listen to its own rabbis in other areas as well.)

    “one of the most positive characterists of the charedi world – or at least the small corner of it that I once inhabited – is the emphasis on constant self-critique and striving for improvement – for want of a better term, lets call it mussar”

    I agree. I don’t know about the DL world in Israel but we in the MO world in America could learn from this.

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