web analytics
September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Something Is Terribly Wrong


As our community has grown stronger and more self-confident and amassed numerous impressive achievements, we have embraced ever-more restrictive approaches that were not part of our mindset a generation ago when we were far weaker but were led by Torah giants of transcendent stature.

There is now a culture of exclusion and prohibition in the yeshiva world, a dynamic that feeds on itself and therefore accelerates. Recently, there was the extraordinary ban on a concert scheduled in a Madison Square Garden auditorium. The prohibition was effective and the concert was cancelled. Painful scars remain.

Certainly if the event was deemed inappropriate in any way, a prohibition was in order – although its sponsorship by a respected Israeli charity and the fact that it had already been scheduled and planned at great cost should have been factors taken into account. What is striking about this episode – even frightening – is the violence of the language utilized in the ban, the impression being that in addition to prohibiting that which may have been inappropriate, the intent was to destroy.

The language utilized in this issur, or prohibition, that was signed by many prominent yeshiva deans and rabbis ought to be contrasted with the prohibition declared a half century ago by eleven great Torah leaders, the foremost being Rav Aharon Kotler, zt”l, against participation in the Synagogue Council of America and other rabbinical and congregational bodies together with Reform and Conservative clergy.

This was probably the seminal event in the contemporary development of American Orthodoxy. And yet, for all of the enormous significance of that prohibition, the statement announcing it did not come close in vehemence to the language employed in the prohibition of a relatively minor event and a particular singer who, apart from being a truly religious Jew, has done much chesed through his personal visits to critically ill children in our community.

Our leadership needs to reflect on this episode and also what it means to lead. They should pay attention to a recent article by Jonathan Rosenblum, a much-respected writer who lives in Israel. The article’s title is “Bans are not Chinuch” and it echoes what I wrote several years ago under the heading “Lead Us by Teaching, Not by Prohibitions.”

I have often underscored that in the more than twenty years of his leadership of the Torah community in this country, the Great Rosh Yeshiva of Lakewood rarely issued or joined in prohibitions, the Synagogue Council of America issue being the great exception. Rosenblum quotes Rav Yitzchak Hutner, zt”l, the eminent rosh yeshiva of Chaim Berlin, as saying, “One does not educate with issurim.”

There is, I think, a collateral issue arising from the process that results in certain prohibitions. When the subject is of a general or Klal Yisrael scope, Torah leaders invariably take the initiative and carefully ponder what to say and how to proceed.

When what is being banned is far more limited, however, there is a good chance the initiative comes from an individual who solicits support for his position, going from one rosh yeshiva or rav to another conveying the claim that something wrong is being done and needs to be prohibited. This often occurs over the phone and often without the reflection and consultation that should accompany prospective bans. The assumption is that the person who wants something prohibited is trustworthy. The process strikes me as a form of rechilus – carrying tales – or outright lashon hora. Is this appropriate?

I am pessimistic that the forces within our community that impel the flow of harsh statements and prohibitions will be tempered any time soon or that the attitudes that foster exclusionary and too often cruel policies regarding yeshiva admission and retention will be altered. We are increasingly trapped in a culture of prohibition and exclusion and this means we are increasingly at war against our own. Only when our roshei yeshiva who are our leaders and certainly merit our respect speak out against harsh policies – and come to understand that refusing to sign prohibitory statements may be a greater manifestation of authority and leadership – will the darkness be lifted.

It is not possible to know how many we are losing because of our harshness, how many we are losing because we are too ready to demonize and cast out. Parents, schools and Torah leaders are contributory factors when they fail to sufficiently appreciate that there are good children who cannot study for long hours or who are not ideal in their behavior, children who need to feel they are loved and respected for who they are and who are not cast out, either literally or through painful words. Because this truth is not sufficiently appreciated, our words and actions contribute to a limited extent to the number of dropouts from Yiddishkeit.

About the Author: Dr. Marvin Schick is president of the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School. He has been actively engaged in Jewish communal life for more than sixty years.


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.

No Responses to “Something Is Terribly Wrong”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
A scene from the opera "Death of Klinghoffer." Protests at Lincoln Center start Sept. 22, at 4:30.
Klinghoffer: Pretending Art Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry
Latest Indepth Stories
Donny-Fuchs-medium

Originally scheduled to be held elsewhere, the hotel canceled, pressured by local missionary groups

syria_stratfo

It’s likely that some of the rebel factions, including US clients, have indeed made pacts with ISIS

Phyllis Chesler

Imam Tafsirli of the Harlem Islamic center: “You cannot be a Muslim without believing in Jesus”

Gas Pump

If simple fuel choice were implemented, the power of petroleum and those who sell it would cease.

Value of IS: It enables people to see the place to which all other Islamist fascism is headed.

“When Frank does something he does it well and you don’t have to worry about dotting the i’s or crossing the t’s.”

President Obama: “ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents”

he time of the Uman pilgrimage is upon us, and we dare not ignore the opportunity to highlight the danger.

Healing requires that the victim be validated for being harmed and the guilty assume responsibility.

During the war, not once was Hashem’s name mentioned to the nation by Israel’s PM or gov’t officials

How many illegal Arab structures are there in the city? Why are they not being destroyed?

We did not win the war in Gaza because we are still captive to the concept of the 2 state solution.

Trapped in a false notion of power, America will lose the battle in the same way Israel now loses.

It’s a cliché, but nonetheless true that 9/11 changed my life. There is evil in the world. Our grandparents were right.

More Articles from Marvin Schick
Front-Page-090514

Although I was not a Zionist, like most others I knew in Agudath Israel in which I was active, I was zionistic.

Front-Page-040414

We now are in the season of advocacy of preschool, referring specifically to the education of children who are four years old.

Two months ago, the Pew Research Center issued a comprehensive study of American Jews and ever since the American Jewish community has been debating the findings. I have contributed my share to this debate, which concerns matters of critical importance.

As the Torah teaches, poverty will never be eradicated, nor will our obligation to assist those in need.

As we commemorate the fiftieth yahrzeit this Friday, the second day of Kislev, of Rav Aaron Kotler – the greatest Jew, in the opinion of even many of his fellow Torah luminaries, ever to set foot on North American soil – we are obligated to reflect on his achievements and the lessons he taught.

A major sociological characteristic and consequence of modernity is the tendency for people to join together in associations that express a common goal or interest or a shared experience. The United States has been a nation of joiners from day one and perhaps even before independence was declared. Alexis de Tocqueville described this tendency in Democracy in America, the epic prophetic work published a century and three-quarters ago.

There is constant talk of a tuition crisis, of the growing number of yeshiva and day school parents – and potential parents – who say that full tuition or anything close to it is beyond their financial reach.

Where children are emotionally and socially when they are not in school is a matter of growing concern for educators, especially in Jewish schools and other religious institutions.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/something-is-terribly-wrong/2008/04/02/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: