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November 28, 2014 / 6 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt’

A Message From One of their Own

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt. He impressed me in person the way he impresses me in his writing. Rabbi Rosenblatt is a Charedi Jew who spent many years studying in Lakewood at Beth Medrash Gavoha (BMG). He knows what it’s all about. And he supports the Lakewood ideal of learning Torah L’Shma – for its own sake. Something we should all support, no matter what our Hashkafos are.

He went through the system and no doubt had absorbed the attitudes espoused in those circles about the outside world. Which amount to insulating yourself from external influences as much as possible. Those influences are deemed mostly negative and to be avoided. The addendum to that is that non Jews have views that are anathema to Judaism and are therefore to be avoided as well – as bad influences on us.

But R’ Yaakov’s experiences once he left the cocoon of the Lakewood environment provided him with an entirely different perspective on what non Jews are really like. This is a theme I have touched upon many times. And it is a theme R’ Yaakov has written about before – as he did once again in a recent Jewish Press article. And once again – he is critical of the kind of insularity he sees in his alma mater. His life experiences counter the impression he received as a student in Lakewood and literally ten of thousands – perhaps even hundreds of thousand students get there. The vast majority of whom will likely never leave that cocoon – or if they do enter another one like it.

R’ Yaakov rightly notes a subtle, seemingly innocuous change in the Lakewood of today that did not exist when he was a student there as little as 13 years ago – as a symbol of this mentality. Buildings that were built since his years there have mostly Hebrew with very little English. Older buildings had substantially more English.

Apparently the old guard felt it was important for those outside the confines of its insular world to know what Lakewood is all about. Today, they apparently don’t care. True – R’Yaakov points out – that Lakewood is mostly populated by its Yeshivaleit who can read the Hebrew. But they are not the only ones there. Why, he asks, does Lakewood want to hide what they do from the non Jews?

It is in my view a symptom of their desire to be so insular that they go out of their way to even address the outside world. The message is: We don’t really care about you and your values. And you don’t care about us and our values. Just leave us alone and we‘ll leave you alone.

R’ Yaakov’s point is that once one is outside the Daled Amos of the Yeshiva world one finds that non Jews do care about our values. And we ought not ignore that. As I have said many times – as recently as last Friday, we have an obligation to be a light unto the nations. That means trying to influence our surrounding culture and not simply withdraw from it for insularity purposes. Here is how he puts it:

A connection to God through learning Torah is the pathway afforded to Jews. But is a connection to God something only Jews should experience? If we have a Godly connection and see other people struggling in that regard, should we not share it?

The culture is indeed guided in large part by an entertainment medium that is increasingly distancing itself form the moral precepts of the Torah. A Torah that used to be a part of an America that valued its moral teachings in what is popularly referred to as the Judeo-Christian ethic. That ethic is slowly disappearing – giving way to a more liberal humanistic ethic.

We who value and honor Torah the most by adhering to its Halachic and should not be withdrawing from the world. We should be engaging with it and trying to influence our non Jewish citizens as much as possible to continue valuing ethics and morality that the Torah teaches us to be the right way for all of mankind to live. A morality that is generally contained in the Shiva Mitzvos Bnei Noach. Allowing this country to ‘define deviancy down’ (as the great Patrick Moynihan once said) without any attempt by us to influence it  is done at our own peril.

Sarah Silverman to Play Woman of Questionable Morals in Western

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Controversial Jewish comedienne Sarah Silverman has entered negotiations for a new Seth MacFarlane production of a comedy-western titled “A Million Ways to Die in the West,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Silverman would play a Bible-thumping lady of the night, who tries to keep her  job and her fiancée (played by Giovanni Ribisi).

The Inquisitr, where I found this item, was sure to mention Sarah’s give and take with our own Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt last fall, as well as her father’s unabashed talkback entry.

“Sarah Silverman and religion have proven a potent cocktail in recent history, so it’s no surprise that she would take a part like this,” argues The Inquisitr.

Makes perfect sense to me.

The new movie shoot is starting this spring. MacFarlane’s last movie, Ted, about a foul mouthed Teddy bear, grossed more than $545 million at the box office.

Happy Bible thumping.

Installing My Internet Filter

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Tonight I installed an Internet filter. I have always disliked filters as they slow down my computer and have been an annoyance. But the asifa at Citi Field focused my attention and an extra safeguard is worth infinitely more than the discomfort it engenders.

I live on the Internet and crave a fast connection to it. Every second I wait for a click-through slows my thought process and reaction time, and puts me at a disadvantage in a business climate where quick responses and rapid absorption of information are points of entry.

I’m in the meat business. I begin my workday on the Internet, scanning the latest news. Going around the world in ten minutes leaves me feeling refreshed, energized and ready to take on another day.

Then I check cattle prices and news related to the meat packing industry. It takes about another ten minutes to know all I need to know from news reports that relate to our industry.

It is amazing how quickly times have changed. Had I ordered a dozen newspapers delivered to my door, I couldn’t have read one newspaper in the same amount of time.

I work with a basic product, meat. The animal hasn’t changed since Hashem created it. But even our commodity business is changing at a rapid pace. There are new packaging options, changing consumer trends, new USDA regulations, and improved and creative marketing techniques. Like many small businesses, we are a company of three people doing the work of six. And like most small businesses, we consider ourselves fortunate to be remaining afloat in today’s difficult business climate.

Having cut my teeth in the non-profit world and now spending much of my time in the for-profit arena, one of the greatest distinctions I find is that the for-profit world is the world of utter reality. There are no platitudes or committees and you don’t lead by consensus. If you have a good product at a good price delivered in a timely fashion you have the business. It is about reality and performance, not intention. And you are judged daily by your clients.

The spiritual challenges of the Internet are immense. I spend much of my day in conversation with Midwest truck drivers and New York butchers, who are not prone to talk around an issue. Let’s talk reality: There is a base desire among males which is akin to a recovered alcoholic’s hankering for cheap, sweet wine. With the Internet unchecked, the tap is a click away. The potential for addiction and relapse is great.

Yet while I appreciate the severity of the problem, I am concerned about the way our community is responding to it. The longer I live the more convinced I am that the solution to moral weakness lies within self, not in external regulation. The solution to male weakness is to keep man fulfilled; and a good place to start is his primal desire to protect and provide for his wife and children.

When a man purchases a home with a yard and a tall fence, with money he earned by providing a unique skill to others in return for fair payment for his expertise, he is fortified as a man. When that same man is inspired with a mission of Kiddush Shem Shamayim, to be an ambassador of decency and Godliness to the world, he is fortified as a Jew.

Manly duty on the outside and religious fervor on the inside – yegi’as shneihem meshkachas avon.

When the goal is Kiddush Hashem and the mission is to change the world, the allure of Internet smut is weak. It is no more attractive than a shady business deal to a seasoned and respected businessman. He wouldn’t do it under any circumstances, even if the potential profit were dangled before him.

The self-control comes from manliness, pride and dignity.

Secular society weakens the male. A man’s natural leadership ability is a threat to the politically correct insistence on the sameness of the sexes. Our frum community may, inadvertently, be weakening the male as well. I remember writing an article for a yeshiva newsletter about a Halacha Chabura. Just before publication I was told by the editor to add a line that said, “Of course, no decisions can be made without consultation with a Rav.” The rosh chabura commented to me: “If someone spends months studying a subject l’halacha, should he not be able to live as he learns?” Why the weakness?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/installing-my-internet-filter/2012/06/13/

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