I generally do not respond to patronizing comments on my blog. The following comment by Ben Dov (…don’t know if that is his real name or an alias) was flagged for moderation – and I debated deleting it for that reason. However the questions he raises are common ones and deserve answers. Although I have dealt with these questions in the past in one fashion or another, I will deal with them here in a stand alone post. Here is his comment in its entirety:
You are reverting to the role of social critic of haredim. I think this is a waste of your time, for reasons I have pointed out before. You are proud to invoke Rav SZ Auerbach as someone who did not wear blurring glasses. Well, it is also true that Rav Shlomo Zalman did not spend hours picking at the flaws of those outside his own community i.e. dati leumi. People are flawed and one could fill a book- maybe an encyclopedia- of haredi flaws. But you seem proportionately less interested in problems close to you.
Here is a list for starters. Anyone who disagrees with the list could compose a different one:
1. Why do so many MO Jews not even know the words to bracha of Asher Yatzar?
2. Why was the MO siyum hashas a trickle compared to the Agudah siyum?
3. What is the MO alternative to the Asifa- why has MO Rabbinic leadership done so little about internet issues?
4. How many MO parents want their children to be Rabbis and Jewish educators?
5. Why do many MO Jews have only a hazy commitment to Torah practices and doctrines?
6. Why are many MO youth sent to college and/or co-ed dormitories without adequate guidance and supervision?
7. What is a bigger nachas to an MO parent- that their son finished Shas or attained economic/professional prestige?
8. Who are more often the heroes of MO youth- media celebrities or gedolai Torah (of any stripe).
9. While preparing for parnasa is totally respectable, how many MO Jews believe God and bitachon have anything to do with their success as opposed to university admissions offices and other secular factors?
Rabbi Harry, if you share my concerns, why not write about it? If you don’t, what are your concerns about MO? What do MO Rabbanim and principals think are the crucial battles facing their communities?
Are all these issues so uninteresting to you?
Here is my response.
Ben Dov, the problem with people like you is that when flaws are pointed out, instead of trying to deal with them you say the equivalent of, “Oh yeah? Well what about you guys?” “You guys are 10 times worse!”
I don’t “pick” on Charedim because I hate them, God forbid. I “pick” on them because they are the ones making news. A large part of my blog is about commenting on the sociological issues of our time. Like the “Black Hat” phenomenon. That said I do not go around with a microscope looking for issues to blast Charedim with. I simply follow the media reports (both secular and Jewish) that everyone else reads. This was the case with the “Black Hat” post.
When I think there is a problem with something reported in the media, I am going to say something about it. That is equally true when Charedim act badly or make decisions that reflect poorly on Judaism. When that becomes public knowledge via a media report, you better believe I am going to say something about it.
The reason I do that is twofold. One is to make sure that our own people (meaning Jews of all stripes) realize that this is nothing to be proud of or emulate. And the other reason is to make public the fact that there is at least one Orthodox Rabbi who sees such behavior as wrong to one degree or another – sometimes even a Chilul HaShem depending on what the particular issue is.
Now I will turn to your questions.
1) Why do Modern Orthodox (MO) Jews not know the words to Asher Yatzar? How do you know we don’t? Have you tested all of us? How about Charedim? Do all Charedim know the words to Asher Yatzar? That is a ridiculous question. Is that your measure of Judaism? To know the words of Asher Yatzar?
About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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