Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Making of Post-Haredim

(A shorter version of this article appears in The Jerusalem Post - and, much to my surprise, at Vos Iz Neias!)

Seven years ago, three of my books were placed in herem by three dozen leading rabbis from the haredi rabbinic establishment in Israel and the US. This was due to my adopting a Maimonidean approach to resolving conflicts between Torah and science—that the account of creation is not to be interpreted literally as referring to a six-day creation, and that the Sages of Talmud were mistaken in some of their statements regarding the natural world. While I sympathized with the concerns of these rabbinic leaders about the effects of such an approach upon those in their community with simple faith, I could not accept that this approach was heretical. It became clear to me that with my line of work, I could not continue to lead my life in the haredi community.

But I was not (at the time) ready to define myself as Modern Orthodox or Religious Zionist. And so when people asked me what I was, I replied with what I thought was an original response: if people who are disillusioned with Zionism are called “post-Zionists,” and people who are disillusioned with Judaism are called “post-religious,” then someone who is disillusioned with Haredism is “post-haredi.”

To my surprise, I eventually discovered that I had not come up with an original idea. The label “post-haredi” (in Hebrew, haredi le’she-avar, abbreviated as hardla”sh) is used by many people. Yet this group is little known or understood.

Post-haredim are not to be confused with the Orthoprax Jews described in a recent Jerusalem Post Magazine article (Sam Sokol, “Haredi Against Their Will,” 10/14/2011). Whereas Orthoprax Jews lack belief in the fundamentals of Judaism, post-haredim do not (necessarily) suffer from any such lack of belief. Instead, they are regular Orthodox Jews who no longer subscribe to Haredi ideology. Some post-haredim remain in the haredi community, either due to inertia or due to their valuing their social ties and community. Others secede from it, changing their manner of dress and moving into a different social and cultural framework. There is not a clear line between the more moderate haredim (such as many Anglo-haredim) and post-haredim; in Betar and Bet Shemesh, the revolutionary Tov political party rejects the haredi system of rabbinic authority, and is supported by a spectrum of people ranging from moderate haredi to post-haredi.

What is it that causes post-haredim to reject the haredi ideology? The answer to this question is best understood by analyzing how the haredi approach to Judaism developed. Contrary to what some may believe, neither Moses nor Maimonides were haredi. Haredi Judaism developed from Orthodox Judaism, which itself differed in small but significant ways from the traditional Judaism that preceded it.

Orthodox Judaism, as the term is used in the academic study of Jewish history (as opposed to the colloquial sense of “observant”), arose in the nineteenth century as a response to the challenges of the Enlightenment and emancipation, and particularly in response to the assault upon traditional Judaism by the Reform movement. In the face of systematic and sweeping deviation from traditional beliefs and practices, traditionalists found it necessary to separate themselves into a distinct sub-community within the Jewish People and to develop a more conservative approach to Judaism in general.

Originally, there were roughly three streams of Orthodoxy in Europe. There was the relatively liberal neo-Orthodoxy of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch and Rabbi Dr. Ezriel Hildesheimer, which advocated adopting the best from the modern world while maintain fidelity to Jewish law. There was the extreme ultra-Orthodoxy of the northeast Hungarians, led by Rabbi Hillel Lichtenstein and Rabbi Akiva Yosef Schlesinger, which was formed not only in response to Reform, but more so in response to the more liberal forms of Orthodoxy, and rejected all secular knowledge and any accommodation to modernity. In between these extremes was the Orthodoxy of Rabbi Moses Sofer (“Hatam Sofer”) and Rabbi Moses Schick.

But over time, the extreme form of ultra-Orthodoxy began to overwhelm the other approaches. In the face of the novel phenomenon of Jews organizing themselves politically (such as with the Zionist movement) and the new personal autonomy of the modern period, Orthodox Jews created Agudath Israel and, in order to bring the Hassidic groups on board, dramatically recast the traditional model of rabbinic authority into the modern manifestation known as “Daat Torah.” The process whereby Orthodoxy became ever more withdrawn from the modern world was further assisted after the destruction of European Jewry in the Holocaust, and the subsequent re-creation of Jewish communities in Israel and the US, when the structure of the Orthodox community changed. Instead of the public synagogue being the locus of religious life, and the community rabbi being the main rabbinic authority, it was the ivory tower of the yeshivah which took center stage, and the heads of the yeshivot who gradually took the reins of rabbinic authority. Furthermore, with the increasing laxity and encroachment of modernity, the conservatism of Orthodoxy was accelerated to an unprecedented degree. As contemporary culture became ever more antithetical to religious values and invaded the home, haredi Judaism responded by building ever higher walls in an attempt to keep it out.

The resultant problems are well-known to all observers of haredi society. The system of mass open-ended kollel, originally created to recover the losses of the Holocaust, has long exceeded its original goals and is ultimately unsustainable. The increasingly extreme conservatism of haredi society results in intellectual and social mores that are often excessive in their restrictions. When rabbinic authority is invested in yeshivah deans who are isolated from wider society, and often “handled” by various assistants, abuses of rabbinic power are inevitable. And a siege mentality developed in which any criticism of haredi society, even coming from the inside, was to be fought or silenced.

As a result, many people in haredi society—including both those born into that society as well as those who joined it in youthful idealism—have grown dissatisfied with it. For some, such as myself, it is dissatisfaction with the narrow boundaries of Haredi thought, which stands in sharp contrast to significant classical schools of thought within Judaism. For others, it is dissatisfaction with various aspects of Haredi society, such as its implementation of rabbinic authority, its relative indifference to wider national issues of the economy and national security, or its heavy social pressures regarding even non-halachic lifestyle aspects.

Ironically, the post-haredi movement is occurring at a time when the haredi world itself is undergoing a process of reversal from its previous excesses. Many more haredim are entering the workforce, and there is even a haredi division in the army. The internet is radically changing the dynamics of discourse and free speech in the haredi world. New weekly magazines such as Mishpachah feature positive profiles of non-haredi figures and delicately air various criticisms of haredi policies, despite the shrill protests of “establishment” publications such as Yated Ne’eman.

But for post-haredim, it’s too little, too late.


Rabbi Natan Slifkin is the author of a variety of works on the relationship between Judaism, zoology and the natural sciences. His website is www.zootorah.com and he also maintains a popular blog, www.rationalistjudaism.com.

74 comments:

  1. Etana (Lipkin) HechtNovember 3, 2011 at 7:03 AM

    Excellent article!

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  2. I think you hit the nail on the head with this one, Rav Natan. From my own personal experience, I can testify that the modern hareidi world which I was attracted to sixteen years ago does not exist anymore, or has been extremely marginalized. Five beautiful children later, I bear no grudge and have no regrets. However, one feels that things are going nowhere. We post-hareidi have to be creative in finding ways to spread our wings and fly within the birdcage of hareidi society or outside of it.

    What do we learn from the hawk? Once you get a hold of the prey, keep squeezing and never let go. Kol HaKavod, Rav Natan, keep squeezing!

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  3. Excellent article. I wish there were more Rabbis of your caliber willing to speak out as intelligently as you have here. I was never "haredi" just a Torah Jew/BT.

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  4. All shots in the ten-ring!

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  5. My biggest problem with Charedi Judaism is it's a system built on sheker and intellectual dishonesty.

    When Charedi Judaism rejects Modern Orthodoxy, it is rejecting the "Modern" part and by the Modern part is anything the modern world has to say about science, history, philosophy, etc.
    If the leaders of the community were willing to address the issues honestly and then disagree with the conclusions of the modern world that would be fine, but that's not what happens. The views of the wider world are rejected outright from the outset. That's a society built on sheker.

    I have no problem with the Charedi layman not addressing modern issues, but somebody in the community has to address them honestly and this just doesn't seem to happen.

    Charedi = fearer of truth

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  6. "But for post-haredim, it’s too little, too late."

    I don't think so. I think that the movement within the Haredi community is just getting stronger and picking up wind. Just give a look at such bold initiatives as http://y-or.co.il in Israel or http://shabbosblettel.wordpress.com in the U.S.

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  7. Some of my friends and I have been using the term post-Haredi for about 9 years now. Your explanation of the label is pretty accurate, yet you have sort of left Haredi society, as opposed to my friends and I are still extremely Haredi in many ways. Most of us are still in Kollel, and actually believe in kollel, albeit with some criticism. Are two biggest issues with Charedim are 1. We do not believe it is assur to work. 2. We do not believe that "Moshe received the Torah from Sinai and gave it to Rav Schach who gave it to Rav Elyashiv." We are frustrated with lack of intellectual honesty in Charedi society. We were in Yeshiva in Israel when RN Kamentzky's book was banned, and when your books were banned. In fact we heard a rumor the night before that your books were going to be banned, and I went out and bought them all thinking it would be too expensive to buy a week later.
    At the same time, my friends and I, are not willing to mevatter on halacha. Nor are we very Zionistic which would fit us into the Chardal world.
    Truth is, I feel most comfortable among Sefardim in Har Nof. Every sugya is allowed to be discussed openly.

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  8. Dear Rabbi Silfkin,

    I bought a couple of your books some years ago, because they were of interest to me. At the time I was unaware of the controversy you created among some Charedim.

    In any case, there does not seem to be any proof that in early Judaism the creation passages were only literally believed. Moreover Rabbinic Judaism as a matter of philosophy goes out of their way to function in drash or metaphors as often as they can, often over the literal word.

    Therefore it seems to me at least, that putting you in herem of sorts is totally out of place in any Rabbinic system. Your POV is not even close to being a Zakain Mamrei type or anything else foreign to Jewish thought.

    Thoughts?

    Shalom,

    Rabbi Simon

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  9. See www.zootorah.com/controversy, "In Defense Of My Opponents," for an explanation of where they are coming from.

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  10. Very interesting observations - It's interesting that one can be post-charedi in certain communities in chutz la'aretz without having to make a big deal about it. In such communities (such as where I live), the restrictions on dress, access to electronic media or even fealty to the 'gedolim' are far less pronounced, and one can get along pretty well openly disobeying any of these charedi tenets without causing too much of a furore, as long as one doesn't make too much noise in doing so, and is willing to don a hat on shabbos even if they wear jeans during the week (to give one of the sillier examples). Israeli charedi, or very yeshivish/chassidish communities in chutz la'aretz are much more rigid, and unless you're prepared to explicitly toe the line, you may be in trouble.

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  11. Hey, so far the comments on VIN News are much better than expected. While these might not all be avreichim from Lakewood kollelim, it looks like there are many people out there with a black hat who are ready to listen.

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  12. Your claim that Agudah is to the right of the Chasam Sofer is a highly questionable generalization.

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  13. Rabbi Simon,

    is Rashba enough of an early authority? See responsa of Rashba vol. 1:417 p. 205 (ed. Mechon Yerushalayim)

    ומלעיגים על דברי חכמים
    כאחד מן העממים
    וחקקי און בספריהם חוקקים
    וממלאין בתיהן כלים רקים
    לאמר כי מבראשית ברא עד מתן תורה הכל משל

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  14. I know these are details and don't touch the real points of the article, but let me ask:

    1. What happened to RSRHs doctorate (as contrasted to RA Hildesheimer)?

    2. What happened to RAY Schlezingers s'micha?

    3. Wouldn't Hirsch be neo-Othodox and Hildesheimer Modern Orthodox (as per the comment of R'DTz Hoffmann)?

    4. Didn't Rs Lichtenstein and Schlezinger claim to represent the true shitta of their teacher, the Chasam Sofer? No matter what was the reality, I believe they should not be mentioned before him as an opposing stream...

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  15. 1. What happened to RSRHs doctorate?

    He didn't have it.

    2. What happened to RAY Schlezingers s'micha?

    Ditto.

    3. Wouldn't Hirsch be neo-Othodox and Hildesheimer Modern Orthodox (as per the comment of R'DTz Hoffmann)?

    Possibly.

    4. Didn't Rs Lichtenstein and Schlezinger claim to represent the true shitta of their teacher, the Chasam Sofer?

    Of course. Just like Orthodox, Conservative and Reform all claim to represent the true shitta of Rambam.

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  16. Check out this somewhat similar article by Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz:

    http://www.rabbihorowitz.com/PYes/ArticleDetails.cfm?Book_ID=1150&ThisGroup_ID=255&Type=Article

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  17. Yiddel said...
    "http://shabbosblettel.wordpress.com in the U.S."

    Wow! Thanks for the link.

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  18. Osher: FYI here are a couple of articles by Hirschian R' Shelomoh Danziger responding to R' Elias's approach:

    http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/rsrh/RS%20Hirsch%20R'Elias%20vs%20R%20Danziger%20JAction.pdf

    http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/rsrh/Danziger.pdf

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  19. But the Shabbos Blettel is Orthoprax, I would say, not just post-Haredi. A worthy read, one way or the other.

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  20. Osher, very interesting point re the hashkafic rigidity to the point of absurdity. An unintended consequence of my exposure to this is that in my youth the existence of the wide variety of Jewish thought and expression in our past was obscured from me. At the same time, the idea that our past masters were incomparably great was inculcated very well. So when I began noticing the diversity, it just wasn't easy for me to dismiss, say, a Rishon, simply because he said something different from my rabbeim.

    I had a Twilight Zone like experience with a relative of mine, whom I love discussing all manner of things with, because he buys this stuff 100%, but is also very astute. So it's great to cross swords a little. Two separate incidents happened. The first was when we were discussing the Sifsei Chachamim, and he asked me something like "He says some pretty wild stuff. He's not really acceptable, right?" It was like, obviously not. One of the most famous commentators on Rashi who almost became a standard addition to our Chumashim, no, he's not "acceptable," because he says "wild" stuff.

    The second was that he and I were in a seforim store and he picked up an English translation of the Chida's Maagal Tov (which I'm a huge fan of, and cite all the time). He said something like "Rabbi So-and-so said it was terrible that it was translated." I asked him why, and he didn't know since he hadn't read it, but I did. It is brimming with stuff that doesn't comport with contemporary yeshivish hashkafah. The Chida displays curiosity, visits museums and libraries, hobnobs with non-Jews, admires gardens, etc. He also writes what can only be described as much lashon hara (same as Yaavetz in Megillas Sefer, and pretty much anyone who ever writes anything personal). To be sure he also comes off as very, very frum. But there's no way to read it and not see a difference in the Chida and the contemporary hashkafah. So, Rabbi So-and-so was of the opinion that it shouldn't be available in English (as if 5 million Jews don't read Hebrew?).

    Re that stuff, curiosity and all, I'm not saying that stuff doesn't exist in the Chareidi world. Adderabba. But it isn't officially an ideal. No one will ever talk about the famous tiyulim of Rav Elyashiv, or the time Reb Chaim Pinchas Sheinberg went to the Louvre. Chareidim are people, and they are curious, and they go on vacations, and outings and all that good stuff. But this is not seen as appropriate for gadlus. Maybe this is why so many people love R. Avigdor Miller's approach (apples!).

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  21. "1. What happened to RSRHs doctorate?

    He didn't have it.

    2. What happened to RAY Schlezingers s'micha?

    Ditto."

    RSRH: Right, for some reason my mind immediately recalled an old picture but I forgot the description was inaccurate:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1b/SamsonHirsch1.jpg

    RAYS: His biographies say he received smicha (Moreinu HaRav, a real s'micha for non-pulpit rabbanim in Hungary) from Ksav Sofer in 1837. Is this not accurate?

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  22. Hmmm... I specifically recall reading somewhere that he did NOT have any form of semicha, but I'll look into it.

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  23. Ah. I got it from Michael Silber, who writes that AYS refused to serve in the rabbinate, and therefore does not call him "rabbi." But I guess this does not preclude his having received semicha.

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  24. I feel that the semicha issue is a red herring, in both directions. The man may have been wild, but he was clearly a talmid chochom, and every bit as entitled to be called "Rabbi" as anyone who passed a test on YD.

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  25. Very true. I will amend it accordingly.

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  26. kirly, why would you call shabbosblettel orthprax? I wouldn't go so far. They do seem to struggle with faith issues, but I don't think you will find there outright kefira.

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  27. I think that a large percentage of post-haredim will end up being a part of a more liberal wing of harediism.

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  28. Shimon S & Rabbi Slifkin:

    Could you point me towards that comment of R' D.Tz. Hoffmann about RShR"H as "neo" and R' Hildesheimer as "modern"? Whatever it is, it sounds interesting!

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  29. Great Post!
    It is interesting that we Jews always want to create labels differentiating ourselves from others with different ideological and/or halachic stances. I struggle with this, as one the one hand I fear that it only further creates fractures in Am Yisrael. But on the other hand, I feel it is important especially when Jews need to separate from unhealthy ideologies and practices that have too influenced our brethren.
    In regards to the term "Orthoprax", I was not aware until reading your previous post about it that it was a term designating people who observe but don't believe. I have defined myself as orthoprax, but I never meant it to mean that I don't believe in G-d and His Torah. I mainly used it to mean that I can't go along with the increasingly rightward shift of orthodoxy in an ideological sense, nor do I believe that halachic stringency equals authenticity. But, I will be more cautious when using this term in the future if people equate it with observing but not believing in the Torah.

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  30. I'm post charedi if you define it as after-charedi. But why not just don a knitted kippa and leave all that stress behind. Outside of charedi, it's a whole big beautiful world out here.

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  31. Eventually, I did. (But it's a black knitted kippa, though.)

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  32. What is the philosophical and/or intellectual difference between a black knitted kipa and a colored one?

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  33. I think that an important point is that the haredim here in Israel are more extreme and further to the 'right' than those in chu'l. Haredim in US, UK etc live and work amongst non-Jews and have to be careful how they behave, both due to society's 'norms' and the importance of Kiddush Hashem.
    Here in Israel there is more freedom and political power, to act as they wish - rioting and protesting, burning and spitting publicly in a way that they can't abroad.
    Most chutznik Haredim find this behaviour repellant and distance themselves from such extremism.
    Also, look at the rise of the local school Magen Avot, as a solution for Anglo Haredim who may have fit into the 'Beis Ya'acov' mold in chu'l but are not really comfortable with the BY philosophy here....

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  34. I don't know how much of a solution Magen Avot provides. The son of a friend of mine took a toy dinosaur to school, and the teacher said that it will make his neshamah dirty!

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  35. I would love to hear about Rav Elyashiv's "famous tiyulim."

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  36. A black-knitted kippa is, by rule, the official apolitical yarmulke.

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  37. "The son of a friend of mine took a toy dinosaur to school, and the teacher said that it will make his neshamah dirty!"
    When I was perhaps six years old, in what was then considered a Modern Orthodox Day School, I ask my teacher, "Well what about dinosaurs"?
    The response was that world was a trial attempt by HaShem. It totally destroyed my belief that HaShem was perfect.

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  38. Can we revive the label "Orthodox"? Not "ultra-Orthodox," not "Modern Orthodox." Just plain old "Orthodox."

    That's what I call myself.

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  39. I don't know anything about the "Magen Avot" school, but attempts to create a "modern Haredi" approach in Israel are generally doomed to failure, such as the attempts to make Haredi yeshiva high schools that also give the bagrut (matriculation) exams. The reason is that once they leave high-school age, they either have to go to the Army (or a religious program that combines army service with learning-e.g. Hesder, but that is National religious) or enter mainline Haredi yeshivot where they encounter the usual, mainline indoctrination which undermines what they learned in their earlier, more "liberal" educational framework.

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  40. S wrote: "The Chida displays curiosity, visits museums and libraries, hobnobs with non-Jews, admires gardens, etc.... To be sure he also comes off as very, very frum. But there's no way to read it and not see a difference in the Chida and the contemporary hashkafah"

    S, you need to get out a little ;) Amongst the non Hungarian Chasidisher Rebbes, such conduct was very common.

    So mnay of these complaints again "Hareidi hashkofa" actually only apply to Hungarian/ RW Litvaks.

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  41. A black, knitted kippa is a cop out. You can't be "apolitical". One has to to identify with a synagogue, one has to choose an ideological path in education, and a child growing up this way ultimately confront question of "army-yes or no" and "secular education-yes or no". Committments must be made one way or another.
    The old Poalei Agudat Israel movement attempted to be pro-Zionist and pro-secular education while affirming loyalty to the Agudat-Israel haredi Rabbinic leadership. This led to much tension in the movement and it eventually folded up. The "Torani" National Religious camp took up the slack, but they identify clearly as "National Religious" and accept their Rabbinic leadership.

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  42. I'm going all the way. I just prefer a black kippa!

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  43. You seem to have gotten a lot of coverage in the Jewish press, both paper and electronic with this column. It's good to see these ideas get a wider audience than your tens of regular readers

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  44. Actually, according to Blogger Stats, I have many hundreds of regular readers. But the JPost article certainly got a much wider coverage.

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  45. A black-knitted kippa is, by rule, the official apolitical yarmulke.
    =================
    In aretz. In the US iiuc a srugie is a srugie.
    KT
    Joel Rich

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  46. A black-knitted kippa is, by rule, the official apolitical yarmulke.
    =================
    In aretz. In the US iiuc a srugie is a srugie.

    »»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»

    I've actually had the opposite experience -- in the US i've seen black srugies worn by everyone from "Moderate" Ḥareidim through RW and LW Modern Orthodox to Conservative/Hadar.

    In Israel, though, it seems that no matter what material your kippa is made out of, if it's black it means "ḥareidi" -- my Russian Ḥiloni pen pal from high school said that about my black suede yarmulka when we met up again around 2003-2004, and last year i had Dati Le’umi shliḥim tell me that about my current black srugi.

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  47. Non-haredim wearing black kippot is a great way to confuse and subdue political stupidity masquerading as religious superiority.

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  48. regarding a kippah,
    I wear whatever I get from various bar mitzvahs and weddings. The best "apolitcal" kippah I believe is to wear all types on different days and different times.

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  49. R'Steg,
    we must travel in different circles :-)
    KT
    Joel Rich(who remembers a time when wearing a kippah in the workplace (even a black srugie) was considered like wearing a dashiki-oy am I dating myself)

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  50. There's tons of apolotical yids out there. Hungarians are the best example. It's always been my view that Hungarians - the largest group by far of europeishe jews - are a neat mix of MO and Heimish. There are plenty of Hungarians who wear black-knit underneath their black [charcoal-grey] hats. Lots of Hungarians went to YU who pronounce the cholam "oy" and speak or at least understand a pretty decent yiddish (even though hungs spoke hungarian at home, and not yiddish.)

    Hungarians, man. They're the best. Synthesis writ large. And Mehudar, too. British and American Jewry simply dont "get" them. Lithuanians and Yekkes "get" them, just dont like them. The Poilishe, meanwhile, and as usual, are simply clueless. :-)

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  51. Yeedle (not Yiddel--

    Some of the issues of the Shabbos Blettel have obviously been written by people who do not accept all Orthodox dogma. For example, there was an early discussion of the ethics of suicide. That would make them Orthoprax. (I never said that they are atheists.)
    Another reason I would say that they are Orthoprax is because one of the writers told me in person to read it and that it was a collection of writings by some Orthoprax chevra. It was his term.
    And I'll let you in on a little secret. I don't consider "Orthoprax" to be pejorative. In fact, I may be one such person myself.

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  52. "S, you need to get out a little ;) Amongst the non Hungarian Chasidisher Rebbes, such conduct was very common."

    I do not need to get out more. I know that! I'm contrasting that with the Chareidi approach, including among the yeshivishe, today.

    Today this kind of stuff is not seen as appropriate for the gedolim, not something to aspire to, not something which is normal.

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  53. As a convert from the USA, I found this article fascinating. I was not introduced to the Torah by any person, rather by my own searchings, followed by personal revelations of sorts. As I learn more about the state of contemporary jewish culture, I am very glad that Hashem led me here this way. No Rav was my guru who told me what to do all the time. My teacher, I believe, was Hashem, through the Tanach, the Mishnah, the gemara, and so on, which He taught me how to read, with great effort, after I opened my heart to the relationship between me and Him. If I didn't have a personal relationship with God, imperfect as it may be, I wouldn't be observant at all (even as a gentile).

    Maybe many of our contemporary problems could be solved if we all forgot about being part of a group, and started over from the beginning: "I am YKVK your ELOKIM who lifted you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage." Aren't we spiritually enslaved when judaism is just a religion, and what color kippah you wear matters?

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  54. N. Kabak, the idea that we, using our own minds, can delimit what the Deity can or can not be seems to me to be presumptuous. What we can or must accept is what the torah and prophets have revealed about Him. Even there, the language can not always be understood in its literal sense.

    In any case, a philosophical notion of perfection is a purely human construct, which the Deity need not follow. For example, it doesn't diminish the power attributed to the Deity to state that He can't do the logically impossible (In fact, such suggested conundrums are nonsensical). Furthermore, it doesn't detract from the idea of divine knowledge that there appear to be some things that are, in principle, unknowable in advance. Examples are various contingencies such as will an animate creature move in a predicted exact path? Then, there is the aspect of free will that people have. Should that not limit divine foreknowledge?

    All of this is to suggest that GOD did not need to know exactly how the world would evolve once He established the laws and mechanisms for such evolution. In that sense only can one speak of a divine experimentation. In fact, the idea that the Deity knew exactly what would happen to the smallest detail, would make creation merely a replay.

    The point, however, is that your teacher was wrong to introduce such an idea to a child, even if he had a good source. After all, R' Avahu in Bereishit Rabbah refers to GOD as the "builder of worlds and their destroyer as if to say, 'this pleases Me, and that doesn't'".

    What your teacher should have said was that these creatures were necessary for their times and conditions. When they had evolved to their full potential it was time to initiate new conditions and new creatures. So, the world dominated by carnivorous dinosaurs was changed to one dominated by mammals and then by man.

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  55. Why is it that the color and fabric of one's ritual headgear defines who they are politically? It's not like kipot were even considered normal Jewish dress until relatively recently. To me, this is the most absurd and laughable thing about today's Orthodox world.

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  56. Why should the colors and shapes on a rectangular piece of fabric that you hang outside your house define you nationally and/ or politically?

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  57. "Why should the colors and shapes on a rectangular piece of fabric that you hang outside your house define you nationally and/ or politically?"

    I don't believe that kippot are akin to national flags. However, they are a item of clothing, and work the same way clothing does.

    If you wear a hawaian shirt, or baggy jeans, or lots of gold necklaces, or $1500 suits, or $100 suits, or a cross and bars bandana, or a leather jacket etc etc.. puts you into a category of people, politically and socially.

    Why would a kippah be any different?

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  58. @N Kabak: Hashem IS perfect. your TEACHER was wrong.

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  59. The JP article has enough material to fill many posts and inspire many debates. I’ll offer just the following:

    1- [this is ktantaniyot] “or its heavy social pressures regarding even non-halachic lifestyle aspects.”
    The expression ‘non-halachic’ often means anti-halachic or halachicly deficient and unacceptable. If you have a different term to capture your idea, that would help.

    2- Israeli haredism is more rigid than its chu’l counterparts, [if the chu’l counterparts should even be called “haredi”]. Israeli haredism has the choice of Kollel or army. Since they view the army negatively Kollel gets pedestaled even if that will create poverty. In chu’l they promote Kollel plenty, but when poverty sets in, and even before, they encourage work. Klei Kodesh is great but for others secular work is fine. In Israel you’re black or you’re white. Chu’l haredim who are in Kollel also aren’t avoiding army duty and letting others get killed for them, so they don’t bear that [correct or incorrect] accusation as do the Israeli Kollel people. IMHO you should indicate this somewhere in the very name of the group you are describing. I also suspect that the people who you interviewed are all post-Israeli-haredi; none are currently in chu’l. I suspect further that they come from chu’l where tolerance is more abundant and are therefore particularly unable to acclimate to the way things are done in Israel.

    3- Instead of saying ‘post-haredi’ we can say ‘pre-haredi’. The previous generation wasn’t ready for all this rigidity, but it gained momentum slowly, first as a nice alternative until it evolved into the only option. People who don’t want it are reverting to what used to be: pre-haredism. Mechapeset once wrote that the cherem is reform Judaism and its opponents are the traditionalists. In their insistence to export their views to places where other Torah authority pre-exists, this is certainly so. If you don’t like the word pre-haredi you can say ‘traditional’ instead.

    The three early streams of Orthodoxy, R Hirsch’es, Maharam Schick’s and R Lichtenstein’s were supplanted in the USA 60 years ago by, respectively, but very roughly, the German, Lithuanian and Hungarian communities. While the German was in its heyday, its ideas were accepted to at least to some extent within at least the Lithuanian. When the German declined in prominence there were [and are] people for whom the German/Hirschian path, [or at least parts of it], was most appropriate and they stuck to it without any fuss and were able to remain within the Lithuanian. The Lithuanian didn’t demand allegiance in every area. This changed with the cherem. The Lithuanian mega-shifted and broke with the past. *They* are ‘post’, not those who remained where they had been and where R Hirsch had been.


    Having said all that, WADR I see things more like ‘Kollel Nick’ and less like some of the other fine people here.

    KT

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  60. Right on. I call myself a modern orthodox. I am a Torah observant Jew (orthodox) living in a modern world

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  61. I was absolutely blown away by your article. I can't begin to tell you on how many fronts it resonated with me. Your explanation of how the nexus of power has moved to the yeshiva instead of the community explains so many issues to me, a baalas tsuvah now for over 25 years. In my opinion, perhaps not yours, the gedolim are in general associated with an institution and, whether consciously or unconsciously, feel a need to perpetuate their institutions. I wonder if that doesn't account for the perpetuation of the post beis madrash "custom" of going to israel for two years for most young men. When this system possibly leads to the age gap in the shidduch world, the rabbinic call upon the bachurim to marry girls their own age; something that is generally lo derech ha teva. They don't seem to want to consider changing the system in any way that might encourage hareidi baalei batik. As for myself, i think my initial disillusionment with the hareidi world has been the clear unwillingness of the hareidi world to hear complaints of abuse if that might possibly impugn the image of the hareidi world and certainly any haredi institution. Personally, i have soured on any institution.. Our world needs more of the genuine article...emunah and bitachon....and certainly more unity.

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  62. I am overwhelmed by how much what you say resonates with me. Your explanation of the evolution of the yeshiva world today explains so many issues to me. In my opinion, perhaps not yours, the transfer of power to the yeshivas has also entrenched a system that works to perpetuate the existence of the yeshivas. By that i mean that it has become standard for any "good" boy to go to israel for two years and preferably to have as a goal learning for "as long as possible". If the nexus of power rested with community rabbis perhaps there could be more recognition of how this is twisting the other half of the hareidi world, the women. Women are indirectly forced to get well paying "careers" to support this lifestyle, yet all the while having to decry any identification as a feminist. All this seems rather self seeing. It also, in my opinion, has been a cause of the shidduch crisis and the age gap. The rabbis "solution" is to marry s/o closer in age to oneself. This is not the solution in my opinion. Again, their attitudes seem more aimed at ensuring the perpetuation of their institutions. Do they realize how n'giah b'dvar they appear to me? For myself, my initial disillusionment has come from the stubborn resistance the right wing, in israel and the abroad has shown to reporting abuse amongst their own. Preservation of their image and their institution have become all important. In my book, as a baalas tsuvah who has kept the faith despite disillusionment is simple emunah and bitachon. Institutions have become corrupt, both secular and religious, and it is time for MOshiach, bimhaira b'yaimeinu.

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  63. This is lovely, great fun, in the spirit of the brand new "in", revolutionary style of "occupy" everything, but I have many questions for this "movement". I will pass over the abstract ones because I am sure not to get anywhere with them, except to be buried under empty rhetoric and arguments. Can you give me please three shining examples of "Godolim" of the Post Haredi world? Yes,, I know, you don't like "gedolim" deciding things for you etc. I mean "gedolim" in the sense of those who have perfected the system, examples for whom we strive, the mighty pillars of our "Post" community. Are we anarchic, leaderless, entirely without guidance? Please don't respond with a few thirty-forty year olds who have hardly tasted any "real" life, have not married off any children, possess no more expertise than what any intelligent interested person can easily obtain. Please cite the names of at least three individuals (in the post world) who can compare with the likes of Rabbis Elyashiv, Kanievsky, or Yosef, for sheer expertise. The fact that you know people whom you believe show more "seichal" than the above cited is irrelevant, what sort of Jewish movement has no Bibical and Talmudic scholar exhibiting (what they believe is) a pristine example of their movement? Just three names please people!

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  64. oh, or anyone like Rabbis Soloveitchik, Shachter, etc. The modern have their rabbis, the ultra have theirs the Chassidishe have theirs... who are yours?!

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  65. Why does it need to be Gedolim of the post-charedi world? The Dati-Leumi and Centrist Orthodox world have enough. Post-charedi is not a community - it describes people who left one community and will hopefully end up in another.

    Incidentally, there are severe problems with each of the three Charedi "Gedolim" that you mention.

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  66. Your "problems" with the Gedolim mentioned have nothing to do with the fact that Haredim (on the whole, please don't cite anecdotal evidence i.e. a "prominent" Haredi rabbi told me etc. etc.) consider them to be shining examples of their community. If the Post Haredi world cannot point to even THREE (and i suspect from your answer not even one) outstanding individuals who exemplify their ideology, are experts in it and general Jewish lore, and are all around lovely, kind, good people, then they it is by all measures an abominable failure. This is not a "gedolim mentality". I wish to judge your movement best by its paradigms, not by its individual, self-guided perhaps radical examples.

    And what precisely do you mean when you take the gedolim of the Dati Leumi as your own? Do they embrace your view or do you embrace theirs? We are not talking here of petty minutiae; we are discussing a entire weltanschauung; why are you Post Haredi and not Dati Leumi, and why are they Dati Leumi and not Post Haredi? These labels are obviously important as you clearly express in no less than 1,153 words!
    Your answer is poor, evasive and dishonest at best. I asked a simple question and got nothing substantive in reply.

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  67. Did you not read what I wrote? Post-charedim are not a community, and hence they do not have any institutions or products.

    I certainly (now) identify as Dati-Leumi. And the Rabbonim of the Dati-Leumi/ Centrist world do not identify as post-charedi for the simple reason that, unlike me, they were fortunate enough never to have been charedi in the first place!

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  68. I certainly (now) identify as Dati-Leumi.

    ...

    is this a personal choice taken for convenience (every one needs a place) or a corollary
    of rationalism ?

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  69. I am a Conservative female so I know from the start that anything I say will have no bearing or importance to Haredi men. Nevertheless this is an open forum so I will take the trouble to say that I cannot respect a movement that subjugates its women by forcing them to sit in the back of the bus or removing their images from posters that appeal to people to donate organs. The wholesale removing of women from the public domain, especially in Jerusalem, is extremely insulting and troubling and puts Haredi Judaism in the same sphere as the harshest, most repressive Muslim cultures such as that of Saudi Arabia. There is a severe, horrifying psychological illness within a community that fears women in such a way, and the saddest part to me is that the women go along with it.

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  70. Hi, This article was commented on in the hebrew Yated neeman tuesday Dec 6 in the letters section.

    The writer vows to organise a group dedicated to fight against the spread of "post-harediism", and encourages abstaining from reading "mishpacha" magazine or similar publications, that don't follow the gdolim.

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  71. Lida--
    "...puts Haredi Judaism in the same sphere as the harshest, most repressive Muslim cultures such as that of Saudi Arabia."

    You might disagree with their attempt to avoid the animalistic thoughts that images of women cause in men. But I'm aware of no evidence, statistical or anecdotal, that there are more Hareidi men than Conservative men (or secular men) who physically/ emotionally abuse women. Are you? (I've only know a few Conservative men, and many Hareidi and secular men.)

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  72. Tachlis--

    I've given the issues you bring up much thought. I prefer "Hirschian", or "TIDEan" to "Post Chareidi"; but I face the same questions.

    Granted a private audience, with unlimited time to explain our situation, and with no chance of the advice given ever being broadcast to the public, the Gedolim you named would probably provide excellent guidance. But what we hear and read from the Chareidi media in their names appears to be either distortions, or meant for the insulated Chareidi community, not for those of us who choose to/ have to lead Torah-directed modern-oriented lives.

    We therefore rely on very learned local Talmidei Chachamim with excellent character who intimately understand our situation. Are they as famous or as learned or as chashuv as these Gedolim? No. Maybe not even close. But that misses the point. They are OUR lifeline.

    Could I give you three names of such wonderful Talmidei Chachamim? I could give you hundreds. But they wouldn't mean anything to you. Rest assured, though, that they mean EVERYTHING to us.

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  73. Much of what passes for recent Jewish
    history bears closer scrutiny. The fantasy of every Jewish male Lita learning Yomom V'laila is an example. The overwhelming majority of men worked and learned when they could. Like the Chofetz Chaim, they worked in partnership with their wives. His working was intended as a lesson. Work was not to be distained, work elevated Torah.

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  74. In general I appreciate where you are coming from, R. Natan, but you mentioned R. Akiva Schlesinger as simply a member of the Hungarian Hareidi movement. That is an oversimplification which doesn't do him justice. R. Schlesinger wrote a book way before Herzl proposing a Jewish state with a constitution based on Torah and halacha. He later made aliya, first to Yerushalayim but later was among the founders of Petach Tikva. He was not well understood by the people of the Old Yishuv and perhaps might be davka a prototype post-hareidi. Also see a pamphlet by R. Binyamin Zev Kahane and R. Meir Kahane hy"d edited by Lenny Goldberg called Confronting the Holocaust, pp. 34-35, about various Jewish groups remaking the Jews of Eastern Europe in their own image.

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