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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Agudah Siyum’

The ‘Nine Questions’

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

http://haemtza.blogspot.co.il/2012/08/the-nine-questions.html

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?

The Wrong Stuff of the Right

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

http://haemtza.blogspot.co.il/2012/08/the-wrong-stuff-of-right.html

I recently saw a picture of the first Agudah convention taken almost 100 years ago. What struck me was what the attendees looked like as compared to those who attended the Interent Asifa a few moths ago.

The look at the Asifa was literally a sea of black hats along with the pro forma accompanying white shirts and black pants and jacket. That is the “look” of our day! (The recent Agudah Siyum that had a variety of “looks” is an exception since it was attended by many non Charedim which was in fact encouraged by the Siyum organizers.)

But archival picture which boasted attendance by some of the greatest Gedolim of that era including the Chafetz Chaim had people in all manner of dress: light suits, dark suits, vests… some had hats, some caps, some just plain Kipot. Many clean shaven, few with peyos… All were there and all were the equivalent of the Charedi world we have today. This was the Agudah of Yesteryear.

What has happened in our day is a sad commentary about the value placed on irrelevant externals like the black hat. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in an article in The Jewish Press by Penina Scheiner.

Mrs. Scheiner describes what it was like for her to move from an environment that valued those externals as she did into one that couldn’t care less about them. She does not say where she moved but from the context it sounds like a small community where religious Jews did not buy into any of these things.

She at first seemed horrified that her children picked up the town values (or more precisely the lack of her external home town values). For one thing her sons did want to not wear black hats. Nor did they want to wear the pro forma Kipa of the right – the velvelt one. They preferred to wear what their classmates were wearing – the suede Kipa.

Mrs. Scheiner couldn’t believe that the “values” she grew up with were being destroyed! She felt that they only moved to this town so they could influence the community. Instead her own children were being influenced by them!

She goes on to describe other symbols of the Charedi lifestyle that her children discarded – at first to her great dismay. But she has long ago come to terms with it and now quite properly understands how irelavant those things are. They are nothing more artificial artifacts of outward appearance whose sole purpose is to divide rather than to unite.

It is of course easy for those of us outside the camp of Charedism to understand that. But in the world of the Charedim, they see these things as definitive to Judaism. As incredulous as that sounds, here’s the money quote from the article that illustrates that:

Then it was time for shidduchim. Everything seemed to be going well until I mentioned to the shadchan that my son did not wear a black hat. She inhaled deeply. “Oh,” she said. “Then he does not have yiras Shamayim.”

…He also answered “no” to a different well-meaning shadchan who advised him to wear a black hat – just on the first date. ‘But everyone does it for the first date,” she said. “It will make a good impression.” My son refused. “How about just putting a black hat in the back window of your car?”

As if that weren’t bad enough she tells the story of an earlier time when she was still worried about her son losing the external values she grew up with. She was at the time thrilled that this would now be corrected by the Charedi Yeshiva her son was accepted to. Here’s how that went:

Our son noticed some un-yeshivish behavior at this school and told me about it. I was concerned, and also a little naïve. I called the administration, expecting the matter to be resolved quietly. Instead, our son was taken from the dorm that very night in full view of the other boys and asked what he had seen. When my son returned from the interrogation, the boys believed him to be an informer and ostracized him. They vandalized his belongings and threatened him. One Erev Shabbos, my son called to wish us a quick good Shabbos. “I’m not sure if I will survive over Shabbos,“ he whispered and hung up the phone. What an anxious Shabbos that was! My fourteen-year-old could not understand why the boys were acting menacingly to him and was very unhappy.

This – along with other examples is what the world of the right has become. This is the house they have built!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/the-wrong-stuff-of-the-right/2012/08/14/

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