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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘discussion’

YCT, Heterodoxy, and Agudah

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Agudath Israel has come out with a new statement about Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT). They are ‘deeply troubled’ that YCT is hosting a group of 4 non-Orthodox rabbis at the installation of their new president, Rabbi Asher Lopatin. They will be involved in a roundtable discussion entitled “Training New Rabbis for a New Generation”.

I have mixed emotions about this. But I am in fact pleased that Agudah has responded to it – even if in a negative way. This shows that they must recognize YCT as an Orthodox institution. Which it is, in my view. I don’t for example believe they would be criticizing the Conservative Movement if they invited Reform rabbis to a roundtable of their own.

My feelings about this issue are mixed for the following reasons.

On the one hand – there is the rather well known decision by the Gedolei HaDor of the previous generation to forbid any interaction with non Orthodox movements. The fear was that by doing so, it would tacitly imply recognizing their legitimacy. Orthodoxy rejects heterodox movements and considers them illegitimate.

It is also rather well known that Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik made a distinction between interacting with them on any theological matters – which he also forbade; and interacting with them on non theological matters that impacted on the welfare of all of Jewry – which he permitted.

I agree with Rav Soloveitchik’s perspective. The question is whether this round table falls into the category of theological discussion or not. I’m not sure – but if I had to peg it, I would lean toward putting such a roundtable on the theological side of the argument and thus forbid it.

That said, I wonder if that would be true if matters of actual theology were expressly left out of the discussion. And the round table was limited to a discussion of practical non-theological rabbinics. Like psychological counseling or how to go about giving advice to congregants. The truth is that heterodox rabbis probably have a lot to offer in the realm of practical non theological rabbinics. As would say a mental health professional or even a priest or minister for that matter.

On the other hand, since this is a Yeshiva hosting heterodox rabbis I would be hard pressed to say that there would be no theological aspect to it. It is a virtual impossibility to completely leave out theology in such a discussion. Which is why I would be opposed to it.

There is, however, another thing to consider. What is extant today was not extant when the Gedolei HaDor forbade such interactions. Times have changed in ways which make me wonder if we should re-examine our positions. Let me hasten to add that I do not advocate the policies of Open Orthodoxy that YCT represents. They have rejected the prohibition of interacting with non-Orthodox rabbis and now freely advocate full engagement with them at all levels – including theological ones.

But I think it is fair to evaluate the reasons they have done it. Times have indeed changed. When the prohibition was made, it was a time that Reform and Conservative movements were on the ascendancy. They were a real threat to Orthodox Judaism. Orthodoxy in America was in relative infancy then. To wit – Rav Aharon Kotler who was the driving force behind the prohibition headed a Yeshiva of about 300 students when he died. Today there are over 6000 students there and they are growing exponentially. There are also now many smaller Yeshivos like Lakewood that are now thriving. They did not exist at that time.

There is no question that the small group of Orthodox Jews at the time were seen by most non Orthodox observers as a dying relic of an ancient past. While Heterodox movements were flourishing and growing by leaps and bounds. It is very understandable that the Gedolei HaDor did not want to give any semblance of recognition to them. Their ‘David’ was fighting a very large Goliath.

But today – the tables have turned. We are the ones growing. They are either shrinking (Conservative) or redefining Jewishness to include non Halachic Jews (Reform).

It is therefore a fact that heterodoxy is no longer the threat to Orthodoxy it once was – if at all. It is now apathy and indifference that is the enemy. Jews are leaving Judaism in droves. They do not see any denomination as relevant to their lives. They see themselves as secular human beings in the brotherhood of man – without the slightest connection to Judaism. One might even say that Conservative and even Reform Judaism today is at least trying to get them to retain their Jewish identity if nothing else.

In the light of all this, perhaps this is a Hora’as Shah – time to act and change the paradigm. Maybe YCT is not so terribly wrong headed in partnering up with these movements. I do not see legitimizing them as a danger anymore. The danger is in the growing numbers of unaffiliated Jews who have no problem with intermarriage and tend to buy into the ‘Apartheid’ narrative about Israel found in the secular liberal/leftist environment in which they live.

This is not to say that I agree with YCT. I don’t. I am not qualified to make judgments about Hora’as Shah. I am just thinking out loud. For example one might argue that giving them legitimacy in any setting, no less a Yeshiva, is forbidden in principal – having nothing to do with whether doing so is some sort of existential danger to Orthodoxy. I can just as easily see this argument as I can YCT’s argument.

Perhaps the fact that there is another aspect to this now that did not exist before is why Agudah has not thrown YCT out of Orthodoxy – as publications like the Yated have advocated. They must realize that they are Orthodox in that they follow Halacha… and that their intentions with respect to heterodoxy are good – even if badly mistaken for the reasons stated. And for that, I applaud them.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah .

The Impressions of an Expert on Pedophilia

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Guest Post by Anonymous, Ph.D.

The following short post was written by a psychologist who is a Ph.D. and widely respected in his field. He originally wrote it as a comment to the previous post. But because of my respect for this man and my belief in his expertise I am offering it as a guest post. The poster has chosen to remain anonymous, and I am going honor his wishes. The following are his unedited words:

I am impressed with many of the comments here, and I welcome this discussion.

Firstly, I am a psychologist. Secondly, I have watched the positions of the APA for years. While this Rind et al. paper is not an official position of APA, it represents a sizable percentage of the field of psychology.

If we retrospect on many of the position changes that occurred in APA over the past several decades, we find a liberal bend that is unmistakable. There is validity to the premise that the revisions of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders) involved greater attention to empirical research, but there is likewise a major intrusion of “political correctness” that has affected these positions (and the field as a whole).

The revision of the DSM that omitted homosexuality was not based on research, nor was much else. It was “political” pressure. It essentially stated that, “If I don’t want such-and-such to be considered pathological, then leave it out of the manual”. Fortunately, subsequent revisions included less of this liberal thinking and more of the scientific research.

Now, let’s address a new concept that should be part of this discussion. It’s called “hardiness.” It is true that not every victim of CSA (child sexual abuse) will manifest symptoms. Some will have suppressed them enough to function normally, others will first display symptoms later, even years later (which is a strong challenge to the notion of statutes of limitations). But many will suffer no ill effects.

There is major trouble with the research on this, as most studies focus on known victims who manifest symptoms, while hardy victims are not under scrutiny. Let’s give an example. The recent jewelry heist of $136 million is undoubtedly significant. If someone had stolen a Bic pen from the sign in board at that display, it would be meaningless, although it was a theft. The child who overcomes the experience of CSA is hardy. But the crime occurred, the damage was attempted, and there is a pedophile that deserves all the imaginable consequences of removal from society.

All in all, I am unimpressed with the Rind paper. It trivializes the condition of the perpetrator just because some (even many) children are strong enough to maintain their emotional health despite what was inflicted upon them.

As for the “illness of pedophilia”, I’m not convinced of the accuracy of many of the labels in the DSM (worthy of discussion in a forum more targeted to the subject). There are obsessive features to pedophilia, there may be a hard wired attraction, there could be an addiction, and, yes, a tinge or more of sociopathy. We may be mislabeling this, and counting the angels who dance on the head of a pin.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah .

A Lot More Offshore Gas Discovered in Israel

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

DowJones Newswire reports that Delek Drilling Partnership and Avner Oil Exploration announced Sunday that the Karish prospective offshore gas field may hold as much as 2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

A survey said the field may contain as much as 3.5 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Delek and Avner own 26.47% of the field, and Noble Energy owns 47.1% and it is located near their Leviathan gas field.

Gas discoveries was just recently a topic of discussion on The Yishai Fleisher Show on JewishPress.com radio.

Source: FoxNews

Daniel Pipes: Superficiality Reigns Before the Election

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

It happens every four years, as U.S. presidential elections roll around: I feel like a stranger.

That’s because news reports blare out what’s not of interest: trivial statistics (171,000 jobs added in October; jobless rate up 0.1 percent to 7.9 percent), biographical irrelevancies (claims that Romney outsourced jobs to other countries when at Bain Capital), and forgettable gaffes (Obama saying that “Voting is the best revenge”).

This limited discussion misses two main points: First, the quite contrary philosophies of Democrats and Republicans. Where’s the discussion of equality vs. liberty, the federal government vs. federalism, much less about topics like education, immigration and Islamism? What are the candidates’ criteria for appointing federal judges, their ways to solve the debt crisis, or their guidelines for the use of force abroad? What about the scandalous administration reaction to the events in Benghazi on Sep. 11, 2012? It almost seems that the candidates tacitly agreed to ignore the most important and interesting issues.

Second, the debate ignores that the candidates are not isolated individuals but heads of large teams. Who are the candidates for secretary of state, defense, and treasury, and for attorney general? Who are likely heads of the National Security Council and the Council of Economic Advisers? What are the implications of each team taking office?

Let’s hope that voters can see their way through this miasma of superficiality. (November 3, 2012).

Originally published at National Review Online and DanielPipes.org on November 3, 2012.

Modern Orthodox Dropouts

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

There has been a lot of discussion about young people abandoning Mitzvah observance (going OTD) over the past few years. A lot of that discussion took place here.

Indeed it has been declared a crisis by some. The focus of this issue in the religious media has been primarily in the Charedi world. Many theories have emerged as to why children go OTD. Among them: being sexually abused and the negative reactions to it by family and community, dysfunctional family situations, faulty educational environments, teachers unprepared to deal with questions of faith, or being overly sheltered from the world so that rebellion occurs when they are exposed to it unprepared.

I’m sure I missed a few reasons, but suffice it to say there are many reasons or combination of reasons to explain the phenomenon in the Charedi world. This problem is non discriminatory and touches even the best of households. Much ink has been spilled on horror stories of good and decent parents who have one child who has completely crashed and has become – not only OTD, but even a societal outcast (e.g. use of hard drugs and generally dropping out of society).

What has not been discussed much is the phenomenon of Modern Orthodox children going OTD. As though it wasn’t a problem for them. Of course that isn’t true. MO kids go OTD too. But I was amazed to find out the rate. According to an excellent blog post by Rabbi Steven Pruzansky there is an unpublished study claiming that 50% of Modern Orthodox high school graduates go OTD within two years of their graduation!

That is a shocking statistic. It almost justifies claims I often hear by the right that whatever problems they have with OTD, it is a drop in the bucket compared to our problems with it. My answer to them is that their drop is a very large drop which has been declared a crisis by many of their own leaders. But their point is well taken if that 50% statistic is anywhere near true.

But let us examine what is really going on with a statistic like this. Just as is the case by Charedim, there are many reasons why someone may abandon his religious observance. Some of them probably overlap. But there are definitely reasons that are unique to Modern Orthodoxy. One very plausible explanation is that many of the children attending MO schools are not from religious homes. When a child doesn’t see and live at home what he is taught in school, there is little chance of him remaining observant – if he ever was. But I don’t think anyone believes that is the entire reason.

Rabbi Pruzansky proposes another reason which I think is completely valid – although I don’t think it is the only reason by far.

He says that one has to look at the home first. What kind of role models does a child see in his or her parents?

I have long ago contended that the many MO Jews are what I call MO-Lite. This means that they are socially religious. They live in MO Neighborhoods and go to MO Shuls. But they are not really all that into their Judaism in any serious way. They observe Shabbos and Kashrus because that is how they were basically raised. But their observance is more social that idealistic – and outside of those two main Mitzvos – picking and choosing what they do and do not observe.

MO-Lites pay as much (if not more) attention to their lifestyle choices than they do religious choices. So when the two conflict – the lifestyle choice may win. Not that they will purposely violate Halacha, but they don’t look at their Judaism as the primary part of their lives. As Rabbi Pruzansky points out:

Children who see their parents prioritize shul – not once or twice a week, but every day – see shul as a value. Children who see their parents attend shul once a week and primarily socialize and converse while there see shul as a place to meet their friends. When older, they can just bypass the middleman and just go straight to their friends.

Similarly, children who see parents learning Torah during their leisure time perceive learning as a value. Children whose Shabbat is different than the other days of the week – the Shabbat table is different, the conversation is laden with talk of Torah, ideas, values, and zemirot instead of idle chitchat, sports, and gossip – experience a different Shabbat. It’s just a different day. When Shabbat is not observed as a different day, it stops being a different day.

Party of Trolls: How Race Dominates U.S. Politics

Friday, August 31st, 2012

With the next four years at stake, the only topic of conversation is the Race Card. The left plays the Race Card and then accuses the right of playing the Race Card. There are dogwhistles in the air that only white middle-aged pundits can hear and arguments over whose diverse lineup truly represents the philosophy of the future and whose is just shameless tokenism.

The media madhouse insists that a half-black man who went from the Illinois State Senate to the White House in 5 years is proof that we are a racist country and that Southern Europeans whose ancestors moved to this continent are an oppressed racial minority. Arguing with this insanity is a sure way to get called a racist. Ignoring this insanity means being charged with privilege. Privilege being the ungodly power to ignore someone else’s assertion that privilege through victimization should begin and end every single discussion on every topic, up to and including the moon landing.

The Democratic Party and its media affiliates have become a party of trolls who only know how to hijack every discussion with an obsessive insistence that every issue can be boiled down to race and that the difference between the two parties is that one of them is racist and the other has good taste in fonts.

It’s hard to know what the Democratic Party stands for anymore. All we know is that it is against racism. Never before has an entire election been run around a single negative issue that has absolutely nothing to do with the actual challenges facing the country. Instead we have the national spectacle of members of minority groups being pitted against each other by two parties to prove which of them is less racist.

There is no precedent for a country facing two major crises, an economic depression and a war at the same time, holding an election that is somehow about race. If we’re going to make the 2012 election about race, then we might as well also make it about childhood obesity, green energy and all the other idiocies of a failed administration that can’t tie its shoes without a bailout.

For the last three years, the left has responded to every criticism of their candidate, their party and their incompetence by bleating about racism, as if having a black candidate and a large share of the black vote makes them honorary minorities. And as if their bleating had anything to do with real issues like the unsustainable national debt and an economy that still can’t get back on its feet.

The left imagines that it is somehow better than the lunatics of the Westboro Baptist Church who randomly show up at funerals screaming about homosexuality. It’s not. Not when its members show up randomly brandishing nooses or dressing up as body parts and screaming about racism or sexism. There’s no hint of responsible leadership in tactics like that. It’s the behavior of a debating club loser who has memorized only one winning point and will shout it no matter what the issue is.

Everyone wants to prove that their ideology, whether it’s showing up in the country with 50 cents and becoming successful by building a business or showing up in the country with 50 cents and becoming successful by getting a Ford Foundation grant to community organize the hell out of a local group, is universal and can apply to everyone regardless of skin color, gender, religion or fashion sense. And once we’ve done that, it still falls to us to deal with problems that depend on math, not race.

The real issue at stake here is whether the working class will end up being squeezed out by the government class. It’s an issue that affects the rich, poor and middle class alike, and the Republicans are coming dangerously close to articulating it in between applause breaks. The Democrats would like to avoid this line of conservation as much as possible, because once the debate is fully underway, Americans will start assessing their individual economic stakes in the fight, instead of assuming that their economic interest is joined at the hip to their racial identity, gender or choice of bed partners.

35 Hours

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

http://haemtza.blogspot.co.il/2012/08/35-hours.html

“Camp directors waited about 35 hours before calling a criminal lawyer, who advised them to alert authorities.”

This line from a story in the New York Post about an alleged sex abuse case is why we ought to be reporting  suspicions of sex abuse directly to the police. The accused, 31 year old Yoel Oberlander is a delivery person for Golden Taste – a Kosher food company. He was delivering milk to Camp Shalva, an Orthdodox Jewish summer camp in Monsey. He snuck into one of the bunks at night under the cover of darkness when the boys were asleep.

Although according to the article there are no allegations of any sex abuse… this fellow’s hands are not clean. He is a convicted pedophile who in 2002 sexually abused an 11 year old girl.

The camp’s directors twiddled their thumbs for 35 hours and then called a criminal lawyer who advised them to make the report. 35 hours is a long time. As the advocacy group Survivors for Justice (who reported the incident to the police after they received reports of it and the fact that boys were told not to call their parents) said:

An immediate report would have protected kids in other camps where this driver was making deliveries that day and the next. We hope the children were not pressured into changing their stories.

Has this community not learned anything?  This community still feels that they can handle things. At the expense of the victims and their families.

And how in heaven’s name does a pedophile who is convicted and registered sex offender get a job delivering milk late at night to a summer-camp full of children? Don’t they do background checks?

I had a discussion recently with an individual who works very closely with victims of abuse and their families – a man who has been ‘around the block’ on this issue and knows the score. I happen to know that he is highly respected by the right wing and he knows that world well.  He is grieved by the way sex abuse is being treated there. He doesn’t seem to think there is going to be any change unless… (verbatim quote):

1) there are high-level arrests and convictions of their roshei kehilla and (certain) rebbes for the unbelievable terror campaigns they are conducting against the poor victims and their families.

2) there are huge lawsuits against their mosdos that result in yeshiva building sold at auction to satisfy tens-of-millions in damages.

3) both of the above.

Perhaps that is what it will take!

From Joy of Kosher To Eretz Yisrael

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Celebrity chef Jamie Geller joins Yishai and Malkah. Geller, who was dubbed the “Kosher Rachel Ray” by the Miami Herald, is the founder of Joy of Kosher, one of the largest kosher food information sources worldwide.  They talk about Geller’s experience in becoming religious and also how important her impending Aliyah is both personally and for her family.  The segment wraps up with a discussion of the Geller family’s upcoming Aliyah.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/tv/radio/from-joy-of-kosher-to-eretz-yisrael/2012/08/01/

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