web analytics
July 7, 2015 / 20 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post


The Wrong Stuff – Focusing on Minutiae

A Jewish wedding.

A Jewish wedding.
Photo Credit: Lara Savage/Flash 90

The longer I live the further to the right Orthodoxy seems to be going. It seems to never end. One might ask, what is wrong with becoming even more religious? After all isn’t that what God wants? Isn’t becoming more religious the whole idea behind the Torah?

Well, the answer to that is not so simple. It depends what you mean by more religious. Rav Ahron Soloveichik used to say in Yiddish, “Frum iz a Galach – Erlich iz a Yid.” Loosely translated this means anyone can be religious and perform the religious rituals of their faith.  What matters most to a Jew is not how extreme his piety is but how sincere he is in doing what is required of him in all matters between God and between man.

Unfortunately that lesson seems to have gotten lost in our day. It seems like now more than ever Frumkeit – religiosity – has replaced sincerity as the primary focus of the right. In fact there is a new phenomenon identified as a form of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) called scrupulosity. There are some Jews with obsessive compulsive tendencies that express them in ritual behavior. For example in overly long prayer sessions or in the constant ritual washing of the  hands.

Although not a common condition, there is no doubt in my  mind that an over-emphasis on Frumkeit is a contributor to this phenomenon.

The real problem however is that the right’s obsession with Frumkeit is spilling over into the rest of the religious world. So that the rest of Orthodoxy is unduly affected by it. Furthermore since the right is the fastest growing segment of Orthodoxy, a move to the right becomes almost standard practice for everyone. Or at least causes more moderate Orthodox Jews to move to the right themselves.

One of the biggest changes reflecting this phenomenon in post Holocaust America is how seating at wedding dinners are arranged. It used to be common practice for men and women to sit together. Some might say just because it was common practice doesn’t make it right. …that America’s rabbinic leadership had no real influence in those early days just after the Holocaust. That the Gedolim of that era would never attend a wedding where the seating was mixed… or if they did, they would just attend the ceremony and leave so as not to have to sit together with women at the same table. But eyewitness testimony will prove that view to be incorrect. From a Shiur by Rabbi Aharon Rakeffet (excepted in a past post):

I can never forget in my time, in Y.U. circles I never heard of separate seating, until I left America. It wasn’t shayach, not just [in] Y.U. [circles], [but also] in the Litvishe circles. Rav Aharon Kotler, Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Yaakov Kamenitzky, the Rav, how many weddings [did they attend] with absolute mixed seating. There was separate dancing, but mixed seating. It was normal. It was par for the course. For their own children, (I was at the weddings), there was mixed seating. There was no question about it. Each one’s kavod was with his rebbitzen. [They were proud to say], “This is my rebbitzen.” These were their joy.

I think that says it all with respect to the value of separate seating. There are those who would counter that were these great rabbinic figures alive today, they would never sit with their wives at a mixed table. That may be true, but it has nothing to do with Yiddishkeit. It has only to do with the new ‘standard’ set by Frumkeit. The fact is that there is no such thing as a mixed seating wedding in the Yeshiva world anymore. It is becoming harder and harder to find a wedding where the seating is mixed. That’s even becoming true the among some on the right wing of Modern Orthodox World!

But Frumkeit doesn’t stop there. I have just been informed about a Beis Yaakov elementary school that will no longer allow fathers to attend their daughters’ graduation. This after many years of allowing it with absolutely no objection by their Vaad HaChinuch – a rabbinic committee comprised of prominent right wing Poskim. All of a sudden it is no longer Tznius for a father to attend a ceremony where 8th grade girls will be receiving diplomas. This new edict came at the hands of parents who pointed to other schools who had this ‘standard’ and felt that any real  Beis Yaakov should have the highest standards of Tznius. (…as if this new ‘standard’ actually supported that contention!)

A new Shul has been built recently with separate  men’s and women’s entrances. As if entering the Shul with your wife or daughter is all of a sudden considered a violation of sexual mores. Not to be outdone, another Shul in the neighborhood has adopted this custom for themselves. In the past there was never a problem entering the Shul with your wife or daughter. Now, men and woman have to split up – with the two entrances on opposite’s sides of the building!

And recently there was a gathering in Lakewood to get women to cut their long wigs.

Why do I care about what the Charedi world is doing? As I said they are the dominant culture in Orthodoxy now and their increase in numbers outpace any other branch of Orthodoxy. But even more than that, extremes when incorporated wholesale into communities eventually become the norm. Just look at mixed seating at weddings. That used to be the norm. Now it is considered to be a less than Tznius event. Some Charedi leaders will not even attend such a wedding!

I understand that in some communities these extremes of Tznius are the norm… and probably have been the norm for many decades or perhaps longer. Meah Shearim and Bnei Brak come to mind. But what is the norm for them was not the norm for everyone else in Orthodoxy. Until it was… and is!

Can anyone have imagined having two separate entrances to a Shul just a few short yeas ago? Or not allowing a father to attend his daughter’s 8th grade graduation?

There are serious issues affecting Klal Yisroel today that need out attention. So many Frum Jews are in prison for financial improprieties or worse that one can easily find a Minyan for Davening in some places. Sex abuse and children going OTD are problems that are far greater than anyone ever imagined. And the right is worried that a father might attend his daughter’s elementary graduation?!

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah . / Harry Maryles

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 hmaryles@yahoo.com.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

3 Responses to “The Wrong Stuff – Focusing on Minutiae”

  1. Warren Lewis says:

    Laudably stated.

  2. Well explained, time to get real

Comments are closed.

Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
Current Top Story
Yeshiva boys learn Torah together at Beit Midrash Derech Chaim.  Due to their participation in a pre-army intelligence program, the IDF requires their identities to remain secret.
Exclusive: First IDF Cyber-Defense Program Opens at Yeshiva
Latest Blogs Stories
Arab Men Boarding a "Jewish" Bus

No exaggeration, I estimate 3/4 of the passengers on my bus were Arabs; this is not unique

Arabs attacking the Light Rail outside Shuafat

Note the rocks’ size in the hands of these Arabs as they prepare to attack the Light Rail

U.S. President Barack Obama

Obama is not anti Israel. He’s just misguided, perhaps blinded by his desire to force a peace treaty

Theodor Herzl, founder of modern Zionism, and his famous quote

Herzl told the Zionist delegates,”If you will it, it is no dream.”

Breakthrough adapts insulin to be taken as a pill instead of shot. Can it be applied to other meds?

Ramadan is SUPPOSEDLY a month of introspection & repentance; yet attacks on “Infidels” skyrocket

Israel wins the wars but LOSES the battles!

Moving to Israel seems crazy but this week’s my first “aliyaversary,” my Aliyah anniversary! WOW!

Israel & world Jewry are under attack and in grave danger but UN’s focus is denouncing Israel

What is human chess? How easy is it to predict the actions of others?

It’s time to stand up against the bias & no longer accept the constant UN prejudice against Israel.

Malachi Moshe Rosenfeld, injured in a terror attack in Samaria, has died (HYD)

Allah is NOT merciful: Stabbing, beheading, shooting innocents is barbaric & cowardly acts of terror

How could the Jerusalem Post think the attack could have been other than a terrorist act?

Going to Mt of Olives cemetery was like visiting Jurassic Park in a jeep with dinosaurs rampaging

Hanan Porat z”l, teary-eyed said ” We returned to the Gush(Etzion)we shall return to the Gush(Katif)

More Articles from Harry Maryles
U.S. President Barack Obama

Obama is not anti Israel. He’s just misguided, perhaps blinded by his desire to force a peace treaty

YeshivatMaharatLogo_square

{Originally posted to the author’s website, Emes Ve-Emunah} The inevitable finally happened. Rabbi Avi Weiss has dispensed with his prior refusal to call his female ordainees ‘rabbis’.  I challenged him to stop dancing around that title with made up titles  (like Raba and Maharat) and he finally rose to the challenge. His motivation in not […]

Existence requires meaning. Believing all random and without meaning is a horrible fate for mankind

People see a healthy parochial school system vs an anemic public school system and draw conclusions

Anyone not fighting this extremism is at best misguided; at worst tacitly approving/aiding extremism

When a young man gets a job he’s broken from the mainstream Chareidi world, complicating his dating

World Jewry, regardless of haskafa, united in solidarity with the parents of the 3 teenagers: Achdus

HaModia’s list of the new government’s ministers omitted the women ministers’ first names: WHY?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/the-wrong-stuff-focusing-on-minutiae/2014/06/08/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: