Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Nu, So What Did You Think Of My Alps?"

As I mentioned, I'm currently in the Italian Alps for a few days, giving some lectures, and today, I went horseback riding. It is bitterly cold, and I have a bitter cold, but I did not want to miss the opportunity. Now, riding a horse is not one of my skills (I’ve spent more time riding elephants), and the horse that I was given was a huge and feisty stallion who seemed as though he was auditioning for Tolkien’s Riders of Rohan; I was the only person in my group who was given a switch in order to impose discipline if necessary. However, he didn’t throw me off and he was obedient, at least for most of time. We made our way through the tiny, narrow streets of a rustic village, then up the hills through snow-encrusted countryside, with the gigantic white Alps looming around us. It was incredible.

The experience reminded me of something that I wrote about fifteen years ago, back when I was Nosson Slifkin. At the time, I was grappling with two stories which appeared contradictory. The first concerned the late Manchester Rosh Yeshivah, Rabbi Yehudah Zev Segal (whose daughter was my elementary school teacher, so I guess that makes me an indirect talmid of his!). The story is told that Rav Segal was once traveling in Manhattan, and his companions suggested that they take a detour in order to see the famous Empire State Building.

“Only,” he replied, “if you can assure me that when I get up to Heaven, God will ask me if I saw the Empire State Building.”

The second story concerns Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, who once went out of his way to see the Alps. When asked why, Rav Hirsch replied, “Because, when I get up to Heaven, I want to have an answer when God says to me, ‘Nu, Shimshon, what did you think of My Alps?’ ”

Fifteen years ago, these stories presented a contradiction that bothered me. In classical yeshivah fashion, I reasoned that the contradiction could be resolved. The Empire State Building is a man-made creation, and thus there is no reason to admire it. The Alps, on the other hand, are God’s own handiwork. Thus, there is no difference between Rav Segal and Rav Hirsch.

Fifteen years later, I’m not dismissing the possibility that this resolution is valid, but I am more open to acknowledging the likelihood that the stories reflect a fundamental difference between these two great Torah scholars. I can think of two ways in which to explain the nature of this difference.

One possibility is that these stories reflect two different approaches within Judaism. Rav Segal was of a particular ultra-Orthodox ideology in which Torah—the pursuit of God’s wisdom and commands—is of paramount interest, to the point where it is virtually of exclusive interest. Neglecting the pursuit of Torah and mitzvos, even for a short time, merely to appreciate a wondrous sight, would be inexcusable. Rav Hirsch, on the other hand, was of the Torah im derech eretz school of thought, in which a Jew’s life is enriched by appreciating the wonders of the world—be they God’s creations, or the creations of man, with his ingenious application of his God-given brain.

Another possibility (perhaps related to the previous one) is that these stories reflect the different origins of Rav Segal and Rav Hirsch. There’s a hilarious satirical news story about a person in New York for whom all therapy had failed to cure his chronic miserable attitude, and he was about to undergo a lobotomy, when at the last moment the surgeon realized that there was nothing clinically wrong with the person; he was, in fact, from Manchester. I spent the first seventeen years of my life there, so I can see why it might have caused Rav Segal to have little interest in sightseeing. A miserable, grey, industrial and very provincial town, Manchester tends to produce cynical people who have little interest in the wider world. Rav Hirsch, on the other hand, was from a very different culture.

So, there are three possible explanations for the differing attitudes of Rav Segal and Rav Hirsch. I’ll have to contemplate the matter further before deciding what my attitude should be with regard to man-made wonders. But meanwhile, I’m glad that I braved the cold and my cold to ride through the mountains. When God asks me what I thought of His alps, I’m going to tell Him that they are terrific.

Horses are pretty awesome, too.

68 comments:

  1. Nu, So What Did You Think Of My Lord of The Rings? My La Boheme? My 5th Symphony in C Minor? My Mona Lisa? My Madame Bovary? My ... Lipa Concert?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm sure that both Rav Segal and Rav Hirsch would agree that you make a bracha on seeing Alps and no bracha on seeing the ESB (unless you are an architecture nerd - shehecheyanu).

    Is there really a stira?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think that Rav Hirsch would have been interested to see the Empire State Building.

    ReplyDelete
  4. We say a bracha Chonen Hadaas, which I always think of when I see a wonder of the world like the Empire State Building. Hashem gave the architects and engineers the wisdom to build them, didn't he?

    (Even more so the George Washington Bridge, which is breathtaking but unfortuately pedestrian to those of us who see it on a very regular basis. And read Robert Caro's biography of Robert Moses to find out just what miracles of engineering went into building the Cross Bronx Expressway).

    ReplyDelete
  5. And Baruch Shechalak Mechachmaso Lebasar Vedam.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "back when I was Nosson Slifkin"
    :)

    There's also the R' Shimon Schwab story; he was walking with one of the European gedolim (IIRC R' Chaim Ozer) and there was an exchange about scenery. I don't remember exactly what RSS said, but I believe the response was, "... ober a Yid mit a bord iz noch shenner" ("a Jew with a beard is even more beautiful")

    "My LOTR?!" maybe "What did you think of my Tolkien?" Complex answer required...

    ReplyDelete
  7. The Mishnah in Avos says that if you're travelling along and learning, and you see a tree or a ploughed field and stop learning to say "Wow, what a great tree" or "Wow, what a great ploughed field" you've done very badly.
    Why a ploughed field as opposed to just a field? Why a ploughed field as opposed to a nice mountain?
    The tree is natural, a product of God's handiwork. The ploughed field is a testament to the hard work of man to develop the natural world God gave us. Admiration of both the natural and the man-made must come second to Torah. Perhaps that's why the Manchester Rav had no interest in the ESB.
    But maybe Rav Shimshon Rafael Hirsch was riding through the Alps on the same horse as you and couldn't concentrate on his learning so he had time to look?

    ReplyDelete
  8. "And Baruch Shechalak Mechachmaso Lebasar Vedam."

    You say that on the ESB??

    Not to mention that some (most?) architectonic wonders were build in connection with avodah zarah.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I wish I knew how to ride a horse. My mother tells me that my father was quite adept at riding horses.

    My personal take is that seeing a great man-made structure is an extension of seeing G-d-made structures since isn't it G-d who created man, his wisdom, and the potential to create such structures?

    ReplyDelete
  10. R.NS: "And Baruch Shechalak Mechachmaso Lebasar Vedam."

    This may be the first time we agree! I hope I won't spoil that with some הכרת הטוב for Manchester, in the spirit of הרלב"ג:

    [שמות ב] התועלת השני הוא בדעות. והוא להודיע עוצם השגחת השם יתעלה במושגחים ממנו. שהוא סבב שתמצאהו בת פרעה ותחמול עליו להצילו, והיה זה סבה אל שגדל בבית פרעה והתחכם שם עם חכמי מצרים. והיה זה כלי לו אל שהשיג חכמת הנמצאות והיה נביא. וזה כי דעות חכמי מצרים, ואם היו משובשות, הנה העירוהו למצא האמת. [...]

    The הכרת הטוב: Manchester has given us many Nobel Laureates, including 2 physicists in 2010, as well as many other precious חכמי אומות העולם.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I know one of Rav Hirsch's great-granddaughters who insists that Rav Hirsch's name is not Shimshon. She says it's Samson or Shamshon, but not Shimshon. Just thought I'd let you know.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hogan,

    You say: "I think that Rav Hirsch would have been interested to see the Empire State Building."

    Why?

    --Hagyan (or 'הגיין'), who is authenticated by his Google profile.

    ReplyDelete
  13. A fourth option: Perhaps RSRH enjoyed sights like the Alps, and used his vort to justify going out of his way to see them, and perhaps Rabbi Yehudah Zev Segal wasn’t in the mood to take a detour that day, and used his vort to justify not going to see the Empire State Building.

    They don’t contradict each other because each is really a justification for a personal preference that may have been thought up on the spur of the moment rather than a well thought out articulation of a Torah principle.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I figured it out. I have the answer as to why this whole approach, along with those of you who subscribe to it is in fact kefirah.

    It's all about your ego. You can't comprehend or deal with the possibility that there are things in life that can't be explained in terms you can understand, or that there are people who can be on a much greater level than yourselves, be it intellectually or spiritually. It really gets under your skin to be told do as I say, not as I do, or do as I say because I say so. Like a father and his children. To do otherwise is a sign of gross disrespect, but that's ok, because it has to make sense to you.
    You see, in the Haredi or yshivish world, we are raised to act according to what our parents and God says just becasue they say it, whether we are 2 years old or 102 years old. For you, when you are old enough to ask why, it means that if you don't get a satisfactory answer, you can then decide, on your own, to do or not do it. That is not bechira, that is kefira. That is where you got mixed up.
    In the Haredi world, we are in fact children who know nothing compared to what our parents and the man and the man with the white beard in shul knows, so we follow their direction, without question because regardless of what we think we have mastered in our puny little heads, they do know better.
    The entire idea of a chok is to teach us just that. We don't need reasons. If they are given to us, fine. Enjoy the story and the reason. If not do it anyway. The reasons are just nice-to-knows, not must-knows. Just like the ben soreh umoreh, where the Gemara says there will never be such a case, but it is in the Torah simply for the process of learning, and thats all. We don't need any other reason.
    For some, like you collectively, that diploma on the wall actually signifies something other than a ticket to a better job. It means you now have the right to use your brain in ways not intended. Just because you can think it means you should think it. Just because you can say it means you should say it. This is not Torah, it is ego. You justify it by saying it is l'shem shamayim, but it isn't at all. You spend more time scoffing at what our Sages have said than at figuring it out and making yourselves fit into their reality in favor of making them fit into yours. Thats not how it works, folks.
    You don't get to challenge the story of creation because you have a PhD in biology. You don't get to challenge the flood story because you have a PhD in geology. In fact, you don't get to challenge it at all. It's not up for debate, and never has been. Naaseh v'nishma means we listen, learn, absorb, follow and do, like nice little programmed androids. For you, that's demeaning. For us, it is a bracha. You have to think about whether making abracha makes sense before making it. We never even consider that it might not make sense, because the Torah says it, therefore of course it makes sense.
    I could go on, but you get the idea. And now so do I. The whys and wherefores are not important to us at all, only the whats and hows. So, while you are all out there debating whether the Avos put on tefilin and kept kosher, we are already doing it. I think that puts us on a much greater level, in all aspects. Because in the end, Hashem isn't going to ask if you understood his Torah, only if you bothered learning it and keeping it.

    ReplyDelete
  15. tesyaa,

    I live in the Bronx and often marvel at the Engineering miracle of the Cross Bronx Expressway as well as at the socioeconomic and environmental disaster that it created. Everyone should read Caro's book on Moses to learn what happens when one person can have essentially unlimited power

    ReplyDelete
  16. One of the major characters in the musical "Hair" is a guy from Flushing, Queens, who decides that it would be more interesting to be from Manchester, England!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Six years ago I took my wife to the top of the Empire State Building and offered her an engagement ring. She accepted and we are still married :).

    ReplyDelete
  18. Garnel,
    Open a Hirsch Siddur and see Rav Hirsch's commentary to that Mishna.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I was going to bring up that Mishna, but Garnel beat me to it!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Rabbi Slifkin - Great post! A little different than your usual writing and I enjoyed it very much.

    Garnel – That mishnah in Pirkei Avos always bothered me, especially because I love nature and nature has a wonderful emotional effect on me. Stopping to appreciate nature enhances my life, and even enhances my learning (like when I was up in the beautiful mountains in the summertime).

    G*3 – What are you talking about? They were m’Gedolei ha’Acharonim zt”l and if they said it then it was Daas Torah! Gedolim do not have “random thoughts” outside the realm of Torah! These stories teach us how to live because the Gedolim are perfect examples of how to live and their actions teach us what Hashem wants us to do. (Yes, I’m just kidding…)

    ReplyDelete
  21. I take exception to your disparaging remarks about Manchester. I was born in Manchester and have lived all my life here, yet I have been very fortunate to have seen many of Hashem's great wonders of the world. Nevertheless, when I return from these travels, I always say "It's nice to be home" - in Manchester.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Rav Mordechai Breuer, when teaching the pasuk "Vat'chash'vehu m`at me'Elokim," told the story of Rav Hirsch, and continued that in the spirit of the mizmor, one could continue with the question, "did you see my New York?"

    ReplyDelete
  23. We get alot more snow nowadays R'Natan, makes Manchester a little brighter!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Why complicate things? Two people had two different personalities and interests. My son once asked me if I allow him to be interested in beetles (he was six at the time, and I think a combination of seeking a large bug along with a nascent yet emerging sense of independence motivated the question). I told him it's not for me to decide what fascinates him, that's his department. And that's been our understanding since, even to my slight chagrin. He has no interest in Chazzanut or classical music, both of which I am passionate about, and would love share with him. C'est la vie. He's a great kid in almost every other way. The point is that many chareidim see the need to ape EVERY aspect of those great and venerable sages referred to as "Gedolim" If the Gadol eats breakfast at 7:42 a.m., so shall we. If the Gadol ties his necktie in a half windsor knot, so shall we and on and on and on. It's a silly practice. G-d made individuals to be individuals. It means nothing that R. Segal had no interest in seeing a tall building and couched it in Hashkafic terms. Likewise, it means nothing that R. S.R. Hirsch wanted to see the Alps and couched it in similar terms. The only significance of both stories is the message that is common between them: that everything one chooses to do, should be done in service of the Divine, or at least made to appear as such (mitoch shelo lishamh bah lishmah). People are allowed, nay are expected to stylize their lives, and should do so to His glory.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I have a third plausible theory. That the story of Rav Hirsch is pretty well known story and Rav Segal was just being ironically witty. Welcome back.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Naaseh v'nishma means we listen, le
    arn, absorb, follow and do, like nice little programmed androids.

    To me it means we will listen and we understand. I remember a discussion in a charedi baal tshuva circle with two talmidei chachomim present, what to do if your rebbe tells you to jump out the window. Guess what? The initial reaction was of course you jump like nice little programmed androids! Then they had a sofek that lechoira the rebbe is telling you to do a dvar aveira, so how can we do it? Some concluded that they have to do it af al pi ken because of emunas chachomim, others needed to be 'meayen'. I concluded that I was in the wrong company and threw the rebbe out the window. Lol.

    Poshuter, you change your name every time I out you.

    ReplyDelete
  27. The Wizard, you very perceptively described the fundamental difference between Chareidi hashkafah and non-Chareidi hashkafah.

    Even assuming you are correct that only Chareidi hashkafah is lechatchila AND there is no bedeiavad, what does this do for most Jewish people who for various reasons cannot do what the Chareidi hashkafah requires? Is this a form of Protestant predestination, where only an elect have a change to be saved, all others predestined to perish?

    (Incidentally one deah says there never was a ben sorer, another says he saw a ben sorer's grave. So like most people, you were only gores the half of the story which supported your hashkafah.)

    ReplyDelete
  28. S
    IIRC he actually sat on it - I have always wondered about that one (and the companion piece on the ir hanidachat) - shouldn't his testimony have ended the debate (just as one exception to a proposed theorom is enough to kill it)?
    KT
    Joel Rich


    BTW a windsor knot would be chukat hagoyim?(actually I think the whole tie thing would be)

    ReplyDelete
  29. G*# makes a good point, that it was probably just an off the cuff remark, not reflective of any grand philosophy. In shas we find many statements that were said "dechayeh madche", ie, just to get an annoying guy off one's back. This happens to many people on a daily basis.

    Agav, Charlie Hall's comment, that the Cross Bronx XPway caused so-called environmental damage, is a picture perfect example of liberal "thinking", and demonstrates quite nicely why America is in decline.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Wizard, learn Horiyos and you will see that it is on fact forbidden to follow a teaching that know to be incorrect, even if the whole Sanhedrin tells you to do so. Your intellect (if any) is odif.

    Also, Manchester is the epitome is grimness.

    ReplyDelete
  31. "Naaseh v'nishma means we listen, learn, absorb, follow and do, like nice little programmed androids."

    Who does the programming? This seems to be a very cogent argument for blaming G-d for one's heresy and misdeeds.

    ReplyDelete
  32. shouldn't his testimony have ended the debate (just as one exception to a proposed theorom is enough to kill it)?

    No, he didn't mean literally. What he meant was that it's not drush ve kabel sachar but rather a halacha like other halachos.

    ReplyDelete
  33. G*# makes a good point, that it was probably just an off the cuff remark, not reflective of any grand philosophy.

    ReplyDelete
  34. G*# makes a good point, that it was probably just an off the cuff remark, not reflective of any grand philosophy.

    Bad point - 'sichas chulin of talmidei chachomim tzricha talmud'. If those comments were not said in earnest they would be kalus rosh and leizonus. True talmidei chachomim don't speak lightly of Olam Habo or Yom Hadin.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Charlie Hall, please tell us what environmental and socioeconomic damage was caused.


    Tnx

    ReplyDelete
  36. Joel Rich

    >IIRC he actually sat on it - I have always wondered about that one (and the companion piece on the ir hanidachat) - shouldn't his testimony have ended the debate (just as one exception to a proposed theorom is enough to kill it)?

    Apart from the fact that the Torah says two or three witnesses establish a thing, not one, he was not testifying that he saw a ben sorer u-moreh case, only the grave (likewise 'ir ha-nidachas). Presumably there was a grave which people said was a ben sorer's grave. But how can he have know if it really was? We all know that there are many false graves. Most importantly, it could not have been an authentic grave if historically there never was a ben sorer. Maybe we can never know for sure eiether way, but surely this testimony alone should not have ended the debate.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I don't know why people are bothering to respond to this "Wizard" guy, it's pointless. It's also obvious that it's "Poshiter Yid" with a new moniker.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Carol,

    "Bad point - 'sichas chulin of talmidei chachomim tzricha talmud'. If those comments were not said in earnest they would be kalus rosh and leizonus. True talmidei chachomim don't speak lightly of Olam Habo or Yom Hadin."

    Thanks; פשוט.

    Maybe like ...
    "ברוך ... שחלק/שנתן מחכמתו ליראיו" ?
    Or how Rambam mentions עונש in ספר המצוות on "את-ה' אלוקיך תירא"? Seems related to me but I'm not sure yet.

    I wonder also if carefully observing whether people "don't speak lightly of Olam Habo or Yom Hadin" is how to identify תלמידי חכמים?

    ReplyDelete
  39. Carol/S
    Yes you can spin the story (as did commentators who were disturbed either by the fact that R' Yonasan was perhaps a kohain, or how could he get hanaah from a grave...) but the language of the gemara is pretty clear (see Sanhedrin 71a - ani ritiv vyashavti al kivro - I saw HIM and sat on his grave)
    KT
    Joel Rich

    ReplyDelete
  40. Charlie Hall - recent opinion now credits Robert Moses with more than just the negative consequences of his projects. It's fascinating to consider multiple viewpoints. I'm conflicted when I see the works of Moses, myself:

    http://www.metropolismag.com/story/20070313/rethinking-robert-moses

    ReplyDelete
  41. "Likewise, it means nothing that R. S.R. Hirsch wanted to see the Alps and couched it in similar terms."

    I don't know; I find it hard to "hear" him speaking those words quite like that. The versions below make me think so even more. But then again, I probably shouldn't be so medakdek about varying accounts on blogs...

    http://temunot.wordpress.com/2007/04/25/have-you-seen-my-alps/
    http://blog.beliefnet.com/kingdomofpriests/2009/06/did-you-see-my-alps.html
    http://rabbimichaelgreen.com/blog/2010/07/18/breathing-lungs-created-in-the-lab/

    ReplyDelete
  42. According to Mordechai Breuer, RSRH interprets the mishnah in Avos to mean that if you see the admiration of nature as something separate from your Torah learning, you are mischayev b'nafsho! It's not the deed but the mindset that's horrible. (Breuer writes this in his essay, "Torah im Derech Eretz.")

    That's why I have always felt bad for yeshivish people who work. Nebech, they feel terrible that the whole day they must do something so mundane as working. When they get home and can learn, they're in heaven. An ideal MO person, however, is happy working since he sees his work as part of his avodas Hashem.

    I can't imagine what it must be like to spend eight hours every day of one's life thinking one is essentially wasting one's time or serving some secondary, non-ideal function in G-d's world.

    ReplyDelete
  43. A possible, albeit stretched, resolution for Ben Sorer discussion:
    They were making a new psak on ben sorer, such that it became nearly impossible for it to occur. The question is asked: If it will never happen, why is it in the Torah (ie. how can you completely annul something in the Torah)? The response: To learn it and be mekabel schar (iow it can still serve an intellectual purpose).

    The testimony regarding the grave of a ben sorer would then be talking about a ben sorer who had been killed according to the previous definition of the halacha. It is probable that it was definitely a ben sorer as otherwise he wouldn't have disrespected the grave by sitting on it.

    ReplyDelete
  44. I know one of Rav Hirsch's great-granddaughters who insists that Rav Hirsch's name is not Shimshon. She says it's Samson or Shamshon, but not Shimshon. Just thought I'd let you know.

    Well, it seems that she is confused herself as to which one it is. I think that it was pronounced as Shamshon, I heard this pronunciation many times, but written Shimshon. It's a distortion similar to Yankev for Yakov. Just thought I'd let you know.

    ReplyDelete
  45. "... ober a Yid mit a bord iz noch shenner" ("a Jew with a beard is even more beautiful")

    Oh, I've heard this remark often. It's bizarre, because it automatically assumes that a yid mit a burd has special status or spiritual level. It makes me uncomfortable. But what does this mean when compared to nature? Seems like apples and oranges to me.

    ReplyDelete
  46. I wonder also if carefully observing whether people "don't speak lightly of Olam Habo or Yom Hadin" is how to identify תלמידי חכמים?

    Yes, true talmidei chachomim as it says if there is no reverence (for the Almighty) there is no wisdom. But someone other than talmid chochom can also poses it.

    ReplyDelete
  47. According to Mordechai Breuer, RSRH interprets the mishnah in Avos to mean that if you see the admiration of nature as something separate from your Torah learning, you are mischayev b'nafsho! It's not the deed but the mindset that's horrible. (Breuer writes this in his essay, "Torah im Derech Eretz.")

    This is a very good thought but I hope you agree that it's not the intend of the Mishna?

    ReplyDelete
  48. I think Rabbi Yaakov comes to proclaim the supremacy of Torah. He is talking about hamafsik mimishnoso davka. He is not denying the outside world. This is the pshat imo.

    ReplyDelete
  49. See:
    http://www.vbm-torah.org/archive/salt-devarim/47-8reeh.htm

    The paragraph that includes the phrase:

    "...(a) peculiar comment in the Talmud Yerushalmi (end of Kiddushin): “A person will in the future [have to] make an accounting for everything that his eye beheld but he did not eat.” "

    is quite interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Wizard: How did you decide whom you were going to mindlessly follow? How did you decide what subjects are beyond your comprehension?

    There are plenty of other problems with your comment, mainly that it does not represent Judaism as practiced and understood by virtually all of the Rishonim, but let's start with that question.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Joel Rich said:
    see Sanhedrin 71a - ani ritiv vyashavti al kivro - I saw HIM and sat on his grave.

    Maverick said:
    A possible, albeit stretched, resolution for Ben Sorer discussion:
    They were making a new psak on ben
    sorer, such that it became nearly impossible for it to occur.

    I will have to put on my academic sheitl for this one. Sanhedrin moved out of lishkas hagozis 40 years before the Churban. Rabbi Yonasan was a talmid of Rabbi Akiva so he could not have seen HIM and set on his grave because there was no dinei nefoshos at that time. They were not makink a new psak because it was already impossible for it to occur. This was also the reason why the Jews could not execute Jesus.

    ReplyDelete
  52. shouldn't his testimony have ended the debate (just as one exception to a proposed theorem is enough to kill it)?

    Actually, a very important question that I would like to explain. I have to put on my yeshivah sheitl for this one. The answer is no. Mathematical logic is not Talmudic logic. Seldom can it be used to arrive at
    Correct conclusions. One has to feel the pulse of the Gemorah what is commonly known as the Svorah. The creative, artistic types have an easier time at it than the scientific types. To me this is the beauty of the Gemorah - the Svorah. Just my opinion fwiw.



    Shabbat Shalom to everyone.

    RS, the last few posts were excellent!

    ReplyDelete
  53. You should write some more humorous travel material, a la Bill Bryson ...
    However, being from the same area of Manchester myself (R' Natan and I were childhood friends) I must say that I also felt that way about the aforementioned "sunny" city until I brought a girl I was engaged to at the time to visit my parents. She looked around (actually we were just passing the Hazeldean Hotel) and said, Manchester is such a pretty place! And you know what, I looked around with new eyes and said, I've never noticed it before, but you're right! Especially Broughton Park (which is where we and Rav Segal grew up). There are some very quaint and pretty houses, nestling amongst abundant greenery. Arresting avenues of old Oaks leading to stately 19th century English buildings. And that's not to mention the English hills which surround Manchester (in which we spent a good amount of our childhood, collecting various creatures and getting rained upon copiously).
    I don't think I grew up as one of those "cynical people who have little interest in the wider world" to whom you refer. It's true that most peoples smiles have been eroded by years of constant drizzle, however I would not ascribe Rav Segals approach to the rain. The chareidi worldview runs deeper and longer than that in my opinion.
    It's all about how you look at it.

    Here are some photos from a hike in the hills around Blackburn (about half an hour North of Manchester) that my Dad and brother took earlier this week
    http://picasaweb.google.com/gordonpro/AbbeyVillageLancashire?authkey=Gv1sRgCLWX_OyvuZXr5QE&feat=email#
    Not bad, eh?

    ReplyDelete
  54. One bein hazemanim (Yeshivah was in session in the Catskills) some fellows took off some days to do some sightseeing, canoeing, rappelling, whatever. They came back to the Yeshivah, and were hanging around, telling of their exploits.

    The Rosh Yeshivah walked in.

    They sheepishly explained where they had been,adding that Rav SRH had said that he wants to have an answer to HaShem's question "Have you seen My Alps?"

    The Rosh Yeshivah responded "I don't know if He will ask you if you saw His Alps or not; but one thing I do know for sure--He certainly will ask you if you saw His Masseches Eiruvin!

    ReplyDelete
  55. I will have to put on my academic sheitl for this one.
    ========================
    but even an academic (not that i accept academic study c"v :-)) would have to explain why such specific language was used.
    KT
    Joel Rich

    ReplyDelete
  56. Max: It wasn't or isn't a conscious decision. It's a mesorah, just like Torah. Father to son, father to son. Makes it easier that way, too. Tatty says so and so is a gadol, ergo he's a gadol. I heard an audio yesterday of HaRav Gifter, zt"l. He said on the tape that HaRav Shach, zt"l was the Gadol HaDor. That's enough to convince me and the rest of Ortho Jews that he was.
    As far as what's beyond comprehension, that's obvious to the indivual, and to the Gedolim as well. When the Gemara says not to learn Kabbala until age 40, that means age 40, not when you decide it's time. And since age 40 at that time a person knew all of shas baal peh, today it should probably be age 80 or not at all. Even your precious Rambam says not to learn about the Mekava except with 1 Talmid Chacham. Yet everyone thinks they can just go ahead and do what they please, because they have reached such glorious heights in the secular world. A PhD in astrophysics in no way qualifies you to learn Kabbala.

    ReplyDelete
  57. but even an academic (not that i accept academic study c"v :-)) would have to explain why such specific language was used.


    This is where feeling the pulse of the Gemorah comes in. Rabbi Yonathan objected to the concept of 'drosh vekabel sachar', and to drive across the point expressed himself in an exaggerated manner common to his period. Trying to explain 'specific language' brings you to being megale ponim shelo kihalocha.


    Since you were trying to apply mathematical logic to Talmudic text I am surprised by the c'v. Academic approach is useful for obtaining proper historical, cultural and linguistic understanding of a Talmudic text. If Chovos HaLevovos can use the words of 'amgushi' (a priest of idolatry in the context) to teach us emunah why cannot we learn from the academia? Kabel emes miomra, imo. This is the approach of the rationalist school of thought.

    ReplyDelete
  58. "When the Gemara says not to learn Kabbala until age 40, that means age 40, not when you decide it's time."


    Eh Vizard:

    Where did you conjure up this quote? Where is Shas does it say this? Or did you hokus pokus it?

    ReplyDelete
  59. Father to son, father to son. Makes it easier that way, too. Tatty says so and so is a gadol, ergo he's a gadol.

    Lech lecha ... Mibeis avicho. There is a nice machshova in Likutei Halochos of R. Nosson talmid of R. Nachman. He says that since Torah is eternal this commandment applies to each and every one of us. Every person is brought up with incorrect beliefs due to his environment and parental upbringing. The Torah commands us to abandon our preconceived notions and follow the path of G-d similar to Avraham Avinu.
    Ayen shom. Poshuter, ayeca?

    ReplyDelete
  60. I dont know the exact daf. Exact sources are not as important to me as they are to you. We Haredim do not need chapter & verse. Someone said that someone said that the Gemara said is plenty good enough.

    Mibais avicha only works if you say my father or anyone's father worshipped idols like Avraham's did. But if my father and your father was a ben Torah, then you are not allowed to deviate from his teachings, as it violates kibud av.

    I'm sure the heilige R. Slifkin can tell you where it says about 40 years old. Even translating any kabbala sefer into English is a shande, if not a crime altogether. Just beczuse you can walk into the library and read any secular book, does not mean you can do the same with any Torah sefer. There are restrictions. Only a fool would think that if he reads the Artscroll version of Yechezkel that he can understand the Maaseh HaMerkava. Same with reading an English Zohar. Pretentious, chutzpahdik, and criminal.

    ReplyDelete
  61. "We Haredim do not need chapter & verse. Someone said that someone said that the Gemara said is plenty good enough."

    You'll have to be a bit less over the top if you want to be convincing.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Same with reading an English Zohar. Pretentious, chutzpahdik, and criminal.

    Criminal? No. Criminal is when someone does a crime. Rubashkin, for example, committed a crime when he lied on his collateral declarations to the bank for 10 years straight as was proved in court. Rubashkin also committed a crime when he perjured himself on the stand in court. The yeshivish world seems to get mixed up quite a lot about what is and what is not a crime.

    Someone said that someone said that the Gemara said is plenty good enough.

    Mr. Wizard did you know that the Gemara said that wizardry is avodah zara? Not only that, but the Gemara also says that that one is not allowed to get even a mashehu of hana'ah from avoda zara. But you are using an avoda zara as your screen name! Shame on you! You're probably an apikores and don't believe in our mesora and that is why you did that. Unless you want someone to put out a kol koreh banning you, you should klap al-cheit and change your screen name fast! (Or should I say change your screen name AGAIN?!)

    ReplyDelete
  63. talmid has this to say.
    As someone from Manchester and knowing the ROSH very well and Mrs Kupets your elementary teacher, I can only say I dont believe the story. If you read of the Chida travels in London he went to visit the tower. The ROSH was brought up in Manchester and went to a non-frum co-ed Jewish school. He was not the over frum person he is made out to be with no secular knowledge at all. He often went to the alps as well. I think one does a disservice to his great memory writing questionable stories about him.

    ReplyDelete
  64. Then there is the third Alps story.

    Rav Kook was stuck in Europe when WW I broke out. His first safe haven was in Switzerland. The Nazir, attempting to cheer him up, took him for a trip in the mountains. When asked if the beauty of the mountains didn't move him, Rav Kook sadly responded "the mountains of Eretz Yisrael speak to me more..."

    ReplyDelete
  65. Ahmedinjad refrains from wearing ties. He says it is Hukot HaGoyim

    ReplyDelete
  66. Bartley Kulp said...
    I have a third plausible theory. That the story of Rav Hirsch is pretty well known story and Rav Segal was just being ironically witty.


    Agreed. But this could actually be a minor variation of the 2nd explanation: Rav Segal was negating Rav Hirsch's opinion by quoting him in a mildly sarcastic way.

    ReplyDelete
  67. this system will also be duplicated to post Halloween masks or even fancy dress masks.When Mask my partner and i say mask That means so numerous things, considering that the You will find other kind connected with masks for some other occasions.

    ReplyDelete

Comments for this blog are moderated. Please see this post about the comments policy for details. ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL NOT BE POSTED - please use either your real name or a pseudonym.