At Least Some Of Us Can All Get Along

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46 Responses

  1. Ben Waxman says:

    How refreshing that is, given the contemptible rhetoric we keep hearing from Israel

    WADR, it isn’t only Israel that is serving as source of rhetoric. These same words are being used in very respected publications coming from the US.

    המבין יבין

  2. Baffled says:

    I think I can figure out that a “black” kollel is one that appeals to the strictly Yeshivish crowd. What is a “white” kollel? Is that more dati (ie wearing white kippot)? Something else?

  3. yy says:

    > “If we can start with simply regenerating a vocabulary of respect and civility, perhaps the Divine enlightenment will come.”

    with you on that, R’ Yitzchak. May we start with our Four Sons this Seder…

  4. Mike S. says:

    I have, for many years, contributed to any number of kollelim in Israel who send representatives to my doorstep, some of whom have been coming for more than two decades. Even the one who, despite hearing his fellow collector inquire about my daughter in the Israeli Army, explained how he was saving boys from the “tzionim ha-arrurim.” Lately I have been asking them all if the Rosh Kollel has said anything to his students repudiating the hateful rhetoric coming from some in the Chareidi community. Not one has been able to look me in the eye and say he has. I have not been asking them if they agreed with the draft law, or if they publicly opposed the harsh rhetoric, only if they tried to teach their students not to use it. For the first time in more than 30 years I sent representatives away empty handed. I am happy to support Torah learning, even of those who will never be gedolim; but I think it cannot be true that an institution teaching its students to use such hateful speech is really teaching Torah, no matter how much rabbinic text the students master.

  5. Rafael Guber says:

    Rabbi, I love it when your emes meter goes into high gear. It takes courage to recognize that one can retain the highest level of respect for Gedolei Yesroel without abdicating the responsibility which comes with the cleared eyed understanding of Atah Chonane Le Adam Daas. We put alot of energy into being vigilant against “Chukos Hagoyim.” That should also include zehirus against ascribing a “Doctrine of infallibility” to those we can otherwise show enormous respect.

    At the end of the day, the middle is the hardest place of all. It takes courage to be willing to say that so much of the last two centuries of Jewish life as it is currently portrayed is fantasy. We do this not to denigrate, but to protect the Emunah we expect and need which relates to out more ancient past.

    Chag Kasher V Sameach. Rafi Guber

  6. c-l,c says:

    You are question begging with your anti divisiveness polemics.
    Can you look past economics and the draft for once, to the bigger ,graver picture ?
    Does the other governmental fiats and and edicts presuppose a greater more horrible agenda ,however you desire to ignore?

    What do we have in common?

    Ours is closer to the palestinians than to the ethiopians
    Spilled blood?
    Two of my relatives died fighting for the Second Reich

  7. Yoel says:

    Wonderful analysis of how our community ought to look. I attended numerous institutions in Israel, both Dati Leumi and Hareidi, but I felt most comfortable when studying Rabbanut at Harry Fischel, where graduates of both worlds learned in harmony and prepared to be leaders of Klal Yisrael. I would add that I’m convinced Moshiach will come when the true gedolim of both communities sit in harmony and lead us with a modus vivendi that we could all live with.

  8. jbs says:

    Very nice article. Speaking with civility is the key to dialogue. To increase civility, we need to have hakaras hatov and dan l’kav zchus at all times on all sides. It is sad that we don’t have it often enough from the secular public, but it is tragic that we don’t see it from the Torah-observant community that should know better.

  9. ChanaRachel says:

    Thank you for this.

    As the mother of past and present combat soldiers (Tzanchanim x2, Kfir, Givati [s-i-l], some of them in hesder), I was pretty dismayed by the posts that appeared below yours.
    Your piece helps restore my faith in Chareidi-humankind.

    Chag kasher v’sameach,


  10. Raymond says:

    It is pretty difficult to have any respect for those Chareidim who hide behind religion to refuse to defend the lives of their fellow Jews by refusing the serve in the Israeli Amy, who make their wives both raise many children and work full-time, who collect welfare checks from the government, and then claim superiority to their less formally religious fellow Jews. At the other extreme, it is difficult to understand why the Open Orthodoxy movement feels the need to test the limits of thousands of years of Torah tradition as if the spirit of the late 1960’s never left them. It seems to me that if a more rational, down-to-Earth, and moderate approach is taken when trying to live a Torah life, that such extremes can be avoided in most cases.

  11. Moshe Dick says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein! I commend you on this great report from your visit to Toronto. The one problem is that this may work here in the United States, where tempers are generally cooler but I have doubts that, right now, in Israel, this path can be pursued. It doesn’t mean we should not try (everywhere!) but the heated rethoric in Israel will have to be cooled before any substantial advance can be made. And it has to come from a person of authority in the chareidi camp- is there anyone with that courage?

  12. Shua Cohen says:

    “…I was pretty dismayed by the posts that appeared below yours.” (Chana Rachel)

    “…they have driven untold numbers of people…to cut important umbilical cords to institutions and people who previously nurtured them.” (Yitzchok Adlerstein)

    Chana Rachel: the juxtaposition of your words with those of Rabbi Adlerstein are a sad commentary that, even here on Cross-Currents, there are regular contributors who are ideologues; individuals sincere in their hewing to and spouting the official chareidi line, but who, in doing so, are evidently blind to their own contributions to presenting the Torah-observant community as a most unpleasant place to be. Or perhaps they are not so blind…but in their self-righteousness just don’t care about the damage they are causing to Klal Yisrael and to the esteem that the Torah deserves among our people.

  13. dr. bill says:

    the tzedaka of adopt- a – kollel is radically different than feeding a starving family. Actively fostering poverty by adopting a kollel, Heaven Forbid. I have and continue to help the poor, but NOT the institutions – no secular education and kollel – that cause it.

  14. Surie Ackerman says:

    What has been so harmful is that the “foul words” that have “stained the image of Torah” and so on, have not only come from hyperventilating journalists and politicians. They have unfortunately also come from others whom you do not mention, while those of comparable stature do not protest.

    Since there is seemingly nothing that can be done about that, I see little chance of reducing the harmful rhetoric and its collateral damage in the near future.

  15. Eli B. says:

    “Rabbi Adlerstein! I commend you on this great report from your visit to Toronto. The one problem is that this may work here in the United States, where tempers are generally cooler but I have doubts that, right now, in Israel, this path can be pursued. It doesn’t mean we should not try (everywhere!) but the heated rethoric in Israel will have to be cooled before any substantial advance can be made. And it has to come from a person of authority in the chareidi camp- is there anyone with that courage?”

    No. There is no “Gadol” (as opposed to politicians) who has said publicly that it is Da’as Torah that people should B’derech Klal go to the army if they are not learning. Even Rav Shteinman has said it is better to leave the country than join the army (and even he was villified for “supporting” Nachal Charaidi for dropouts, Americans, Sephardim, OTD and Chardal). If anyone would PUBLICLY suggest a compromise, they would be dropped as Da’as Torah (which is possibly why no one has said anything), as a “Yochanan Kohen Gadol.”
    It’s too bad, as a public offer of compromise would not only lower the fire from under the draft law, but also allow Bennett & Netanyahu to move away from Lapid.

  16. Baruch says:

    Um, maybe a good place to start is to avoid publishing on this blog ludicrous accusations about anti-Sephardi racism by the Israeli government…

  17. yehonatan alibert says:

    Very courageous post. If I’m not mistaken, the Rambam zatza”l said that we have to follow the emes from whoever or from wherever it comes. I think you just applied this path through your article.
    Only one point, you reproach of the” fool words of hyperventilating politicians and journalists which are stauning the Torah. Will all respect for them, i will remark that the rethoric of some religious leaders achieved the same result.
    Torah is derech naim. As someone who was not born in the world of Torah, I’m so taken aback by the degre of hate that emanes from people that we expect to symbolize peace and love. Because of this, i cannot.consider myself part of any jewish denomination. I think I’m not the only one.
    Kol haKavod again for a refreshing post.
    Thank you, chag kosher vesameach

  18. Daniel Goldman says:

    Thank you for these words. BAYT sounds like a great community and one many of us should be emulating at both a community and national level.
    I wonder if there are any practical insights for the Cross-Currents sight. Perhaps to allow a broader writer base in an effort to create a dialogue with a wider set of views on the important matters of the day.
    On of the critical issues in Israel is on the one hand there is a “free” media often accused of bias towards the Haredi community, and a Haredi media (both official and independent) with no scope for a free debate on different views.
    It would be great to see a more honest and open exchange of views without it descending into name calling.
    כל טוב!

    [YA – I am constantly on the prowl for new writers with different POV, especially women – as long as they are comfortable with our mission statement. We’re limiting candidacy, however, to people who are experienced enough as published writers that they enjoy some name recognition. Often, those people have their own blogs, and are not willing to join a group blog. Suggestions will be appreciated.]

  19. c-l,c says:

    THESE are the times that try men’s souls….
    I once felt all that kind of anger, which a man ought to feel, against the mean principles that are held by the Tories: a noted one, who kept a tavern at Amboy, was standing at his door, with as pretty a child in his hand, about eight or nine years old, as I ever saw, and after speaking his mind as freely as he thought was prudent, finished with this unfatherly expression, “Well! give me peace in my day.” Not a man lives on the continent but fully believes that a separation must some time or other finally take place, and a generous parent should have said, “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace;” and this single reflection, well applied, is sufficient to awaken every man to duty
    The American Crisis by Thomas Paine

  20. Anonymous says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein it is YOU that should stop with your hatefullness stop with stirring the pot stop biting the hand that feeds you. In Shomayim they know the truth you wont get away with pandering to the left.

  21. Bob Miller says:

    We should be blessed not to be subjected anymore to the inverted “Alphonse and Gaston” routine in which a group says it’s willing to be civil only “after you”. The way to get respect is to give it.

  22. shaul shapira says:

    “How can we expect a way out of the current morass, when we read language of the kind we do? Divided as we are into two or more camps, the words of leadership and guidance we seek simply can’t come together.”

    I would suggest to DL types to maximize real time interaction with actual living Charedim. Even better, try visiting Rav Shteinman or R Chaim Kanievsky R Auerbach. You’re likely to come away with- at the very least-, an appreciation of their humanity- something that by definition can’t be conveyed through public statements and pashkevillim.

    I would also suggest reading the works of Professor Avi Ravitzky. Particularly some chapters in חירות על הלוחות. He’s not a Chareidi and not in any imminent danger of becoming one. But he provides a sober treatment of Charedim that doesn’t evince either sycophancy or si’naah.

    I have some advice for Charedim too. But they aren’t likely to be reading this blog.

  23. David Ohsie says:

    Thank you for this post.

    If I can be permitted to add a bit of analysis: separation of church and state, such as exists in the US has advantages. There are no disagreements more likely to rise to the level of hatred, violence and censorship than disagreements over political power or a share of the public purse. This may part of the reason why there is more harmony between parallel groups in North America than in Israel. The other element, of course, is the willingness to be as civil as this post is.

  24. Shmuel says:

    Dear Anonymous,

    Be careful.

    Kol HaPosel Pasul, ubmumo Pasul.

  25. reder says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with the basic premise of your post. I spent a good number of years in one of the large chareidi communities on the east coast. I have now been “out of town” for a good number of years. My new community has kollelim, yeshivos – the whole range of chinuch. However, in many ways I miss some if what can only be offered in in vastly larger communities on the east coast. One major advantage, however, in a community such as mine, and I think this applies to Toronto as well, is the cohesive community encompassing all segments if the Jewish community. What you witnessed at the BAYT is an example of this. One thing which I must take issue with, however, is your praise of gemara groups for women as a sign of cooperation between communities.As your are well aware, teaching gemara is not akin to whether or not one says a refills for the medina or who comes to your shul as a speaker.This is a concrete issue of halacha. We must work harder to have schedule between communities, but this should not have to come at the expense of lowering our standards of halacha.

    [YA – Maybe I am not so aware. Although I am personally on the traditionalist side of the issue, I would be loath to accuse people I disagree with on this as “lowering our standards of halacha.” Not when they can point to seforim and people whom they have every right to follow. We’re not talking Open Orthodoxy here. I can take sharp exception, but I can’t deny that there is ample halachic thinking behind extending women’s learning to gemara for the proper women. Or
    that Rav Soloveitchik zt”l allowed it. Or that groups of women who have quietly and without
    egalitarian fanfare have completed Daf Yomi bederech tzanua. Or that the Estie Rosenberg (daughter of
    R Ahron Lichtenstein shlit”a) runs a program of gemara learning for young women that is hard to
    criticize. Again, I have strong personal reservations about much of this. But a good way to NOT
    allow for respect between groups is to deny their legitimate Torah basis, even when one differs.]

  26. Baruch says:

    Anonymous – “hatefulness”? Where do you see any hate in Rabbi Adlerstein’s post? If you care to disagree, you are given the opportunity to express your opinion and have it published here. (By the way, I am pleasantly surprised and impressed by what appears to be a liberal acceptance policy of replies to this post.) Nothing in the content or tenor of what RYA is anywhere near “hateful.”

  27. Akiva Cohen says:

    Baruch Hashem.

    What has been missing in this discussion is any real sense of Ahavat Yisrael or Areivus. Without that, all of the halachic and political arguments in the world will never have any impact

  28. L. Oberstein says:

    It is important that those who do not approve of calling the Israeli governement reshaim of publishing ads saying that they “rise up against us to annihilate us” referring to the current Israeli governement know that they do not represent the mainstream of the yeshiva supporting community. Instead of garnering support for their cause, they are driving people away.

    The BAYT is a wonderful community shul. My son is part of the Kollel that meets in the BAYT and it is an example of Jews of various hashkofos living and learning together in peace.

  29. Steve Brizel says:

    Great article! It is refreshing to see that such shuls like BAYT and is rav are thriving in a spirit of true achdus, and mutual appreciation among its members.

  30. reder says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein. I do realize that there are valid rabbinic opinions who permit gemara study for women. My intention was in no way to denigrate them or the validity of their opinion. What I was trying to convey is that the issue of whether or not its acceptable for women to study gemara is a question of halacha, not hashkafa. I feel that while it’s crucial that all stripes of yiddishkeit be able to feel that they are all part of one community, and are wholly accepted for their hashkafos, if, for the rav of a shul, there is a halachic issue with something that some of his kehilla wants,he shouldn’t feel compelled to change his standards for the sake of achdus. Both sides should understand that there can be valid disagreements between segments of our communities, and this shouldn’t be taken as a statement if disunity.

    [YA – Point well taken. It might still be the case that in dealing with what in effect is several kehilos operating under one roof, a good rov might have to find a way to permit one group to act according to one shitah, while another might be encouraged to act differently – without having to passul the first.]

  31. Crazy Kanoiy says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein you confuse me. You seem to approve of Rabbi Korobkin’s Gemara Shiur for ladies yet you also laud Rabbi Twersky for his magisterial approach to ladys donning tefilin. What Rabbi Twersky writes regarding ladies wearing tefilin is no less relevant to ladies learning gemara. Here is the quote:

    ” In modern times women did not begin donning tefillin to emulate Michal bas Shaul, be devout Maimonideans or invoke shem Hashem upon themselves. Women donned tefillin because men do so. Within the secular modern mindset adopted by Reform and Conservative wherein equality = uniformity women who don tefillin thereby attain a measure of equality with men [4]. And thus the defining issue is axiological: can the secular value of egalitarianism be grafted onto Halachah?”

    [YA – Indeed I completely laud R Twersky’s piece, and remain a staunch opponent of Open Orthodoxy. I believe that much of the clamor for women’s gemara belongs to the same misguided search for gender sameness. However, I have met too many women whose desire to learn gemara does not seem to come from that at all. While I remain skeptical – and certainly oppose making gemara part of the general curriculum for women – I cannot ignore what seems to be true: there are women for whom some study of gemara, quietly and without fanfare, may be appropriate. Whatever my own hesitancy, there is no reason why I should be mevatel the opinions of greater people than myself who are matir for individuals. ]

  32. YS says:

    Rav Adlerstein –

    It’s great to hear that you’re constantly on the prowl for new writers. This makes me wonder whether you realize that, as crazy as this might seem to you, you represent a lone voice on the on the extreme left of the regular contributors at CC. This has become particularly obvious recently, as you’ve been the only regular writer to appear to be bothered by the rhetoric coming out of the Yeshiva-world insofar as the draft is concerned and the only one who doesn’t feel the need to justify every single position taken by the defenders of the Charedi community in Israel.

  33. lacosta says:

    the saddest thing i read was the comment—

    I would add that I’m convinced Moshiach will come when the true gedolim of both communities sit in harmony and lead us with a modus vivendi that we could all live with.

    —-because that in vivo implies mashiach will not come, at least not in our grandchildren’s lifetime …

  34. David Z says:

    reder–how is whether to say a t’fila for the m’dina or who to invite (at least at the extremes) not an issue of halakha? I can actually get along well with people who think you should not recite a t’fila for the m’dina as a matter of halakha (and these are still people who practically support Israel because of the massacre that would occur if the m’dina were to disappear suddenly). That said, I can also argue that allowing women to voluntarily attend a shiour that is on-going (that is, not teaching them specifically or recruiting them, and certainly not teaching kids) is an issue of hashkafa. I’m not sure that any of the big poskim in history would say they can’t attend an on-going shiur. Maybe I’m wrong–do you have a source?

    Anonymous and Baruch–I actually think in this case, R’ Ad;erstein’s policy is alittle too liberal. That post has no place in the comments section. That said, what exactly is the hand that feeds R’ Adlerstein? You think he makes money from this blog? I have a bridge to sell you…

  35. Bob Miller says:


    Conversely, Moshiach could come to create the desired harmony and modus vivendi, among us and among people in general.

  36. reder says:

    David Z you make a good point. Every hashkafa issue is or should be based on a halachic precedent. The way I see it however, there is a clear distinction to be made between something that has a clear basis in halacha based on the shulchan aruch or rambam or something comparable and the tefilla for the medina which certainly isn’t assur based on that type of precedent. Hallel on Yom haatzmaut lies somewhere in between these 2 examples.

  37. lacosta says:

    when the newly appointed head of Shas’ Rabbinical leadership sees the DL world as amalek, it only reinforces my pessimism–

  38. Joseph says:

    Crazy Kanoiy – Remember that R. Twersky’s grandfather was a pioneer in teaching Gemara to women

  39. Shlomo says:

    The difference between study of Gemara for individual women and offering open-invitation Gemara *classes* to women was exactly the dividing line between the Hashkafah of R’ Yaakov Weinberg of NIRC and R’ Yosef Dov Soloveitchik of YU. Rav Weinberg read Rambam Hilchos Talmud Torah 1:13 with a fine-tooth comb and brilliantly explained the parameters that emerge from it. In a nutshell, the Rambam indicates displeasure coupled with halachic flexibility (“lo yelameid osah lechatchilah”) for general teaching of Torah Shebichsav to women. Specific sociological conditions can mandate making use of that flexibility and turning it into a lechatchilah. Torah Sheb’al Peh, however, is generally tiflus and broad-scale teaching thereof is a destruction of Torah. This applies, however, only to “Rov Nashim.”

  40. Raymond says:

    Some people here are using words like Leftist and Conservative in ways very different from how I use such terms. The man considered to be the father of political conservatism in America, namely President John Adams, famously remarked how “Facts are stubborn things.” Centuries later, another famous conservative, namely British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, remarked how “Facts are conservative.” In that light, the conservative position regarding, say, the issue of Chareidim serving in the military, is that such a thing is absolutely necessary, as we need all the manpower we can get to fight off the hundreds of millions of neighboring terrorist followers of Allah who want us dead. The Leftist position is the one divorced from everyday reality, that says that learning Torah is in and of itself some kind of military defense.

    As for the subtler, more gentler issue of women learning gemara, it is a psychologically astute and therefore realistic position to take, that it all depends on the motivation of the given woman. If she is doing it to be a modern day feminist who defiantly rebels against us Evil Men, then it is a practice that should be discouraged. But if a woman is genuinely interested in quietly learning that form of Torah for its own sake, then there should be no problem with that.

  41. Dave says:

    Just to clarify, Rabbi Korobkin does not give a gemara shiur for women. There is a beginners’ gemara shiur in the shul given by another Rabbi who is a shul member and is open to both men and women. The shul has all kinds of shiurim and classes that appeal to a wide variety of people, because that is what the shul is made up of – a wide variety of people.

  42. Micah Segelman says:

    Anonymous – you’re not really adding to the discussion other than reinforcing negative stereotypes. If you have a worthwhile point to make, please make it.

    YS – I’m not sure Rabbi Adlerstein is the only regular writer “to appear to be bothered by the rhetoric coming out of the Yeshiva-world insofar as the draft is concerned.” It’s hard for me to imagine, based on past essays they’re written, that Rabbi Shafran, Rabbi Rosenblum, or Dr Schick, to name a few, are ok with inflammatory rhetoric.

  43. Steve Brizel says:

    R Adlerstein wrote in part:

    “I believe that much of the clamor for women’s gemara belongs to the same misguided search for gender sameness. However, I have met too many women whose desire to learn gemara does not seem to come from that at all. While I remain skeptical – and certainly oppose making gemara part of the general curriculum for women – I cannot ignore what seems to be true: there are women for whom some study of gemara, quietly and without fanfare, may be appropriate. Whatever my own hesitancy, there is no reason why I should be mevatel the opinions of greater people than myself who are matir for individuals.”

    I think that R Adlerstein properly raised the litmus/acid test of motivation and whether a woman who learns Talmud and can fairly be described neither properly attired nor as Mdakdek BMiztvos is accomplishing anything , or is possibly or definitely engaged in what can be called an enormous waste of her time, Yehara, or worse. The facts are that we have seen precious little analysis of the impact of such programs on those enrolled, as opposed to the cottage industry of academics that engage in self defined analysis of BTs, and the so-called “slide to the right.”

  44. YS says:

    Micah – I have no doubt that you’re right about Dr. Shick’s feelings on the matter of the draft. However, the draft is not something he’s addressed, to the best of my knowledge, on Cross Currents. I’m sceptical about Rabbi Shafran and as for Rabbi Rosenblum, while I have no doubt that he disagrees with the rhetoric (as evidenced in his lecture in LA, which was hastily withdrawn from the internet), when it comes to his columns at Cross Currents and Mishpacha, his opposition has generally been from a tactical and PR point of view.

  45. cvmay says:

    “Getting along” is an attitude which results in a certain behavior.

    There are many, for diverse reasons, that are not willing to buy into that attitude since they are isolationists or bearers of childhood stereotypes or just unable to change years of behavior. Chinuch of the “other” should be part of Torah education. Until then,, ‘Shalom uvRacha”.

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