Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Publishing Rennaissance

When Religious Zionist/ Centrist/ Modern Orthodox Jews in North America and the UK complain about the "slide to the right" in Orthodoxy, or about how their children have become charedi and expect to be financially supported for the rest of their lives, it irks me. After all, it's their own fault!

Religious Zionist, Centrist and Modern Orthodoxy (if there's a less clumsy term, please let me know) have failed to make a basic effort to perpetuate themselves. For example, at least until very recently, there has been little effort to encourage students to become educators. As a result, their schools, yeshivot and seminaries have to draw upon the Charedi community for teachers. Is it any wonder that many kids then see Charedim as the role model to emulate and join that community?

In this post, I would like to talk about another manifestation of this problem: publishing.

We are the People of the Book, and books form a major part of our lives. They influence us in all kinds of ways, from the role models that they choose to present, to the sources that they choose to quote, to the hashkafic outlook that they reflect - often very subtly. (For example, consider how the ArtScroll Gemara assures its readers that Talmudic discussions of cosmology are not intended literally - against the view of all the Rishonim.) And yet, for many years, Religious Zionist, Centrist and Modern Orthodoxy ceded this important field almost entirely to the Charedi community.

Sure, there were always non-Charedi publishers. But they were small operations that did not present a comprehensive range of publications, and just published whatever came their way. It's ArtScroll that has been overwhelmingly dominant. Every shul in North America has ArtScroll Siddurim, Chumashim, and Gemaras. Many people like to mock or protest against ArtScroll for their approach, which includes such things as censoring the non-charedi opinions of Torah scholars and altering texts. But I don't think that such criticism is fair. ArtScroll had a comprehensive vision. They went ahead and exerted enormous effort to fill a huge gap, for which they deserve much credit; of course they are going to reflect the approach of their own community.

Where on earth was everyone else? The donor pages of ArtScroll publications are astonishing. Few donors are charedi - they are mostly modern Orthodox (or even non-Orthodox) Jews. Why are these people sponsoring publications which are from a different community and do not reflect their worldview? The answer is that there was no alternative. There was no YU Talmud or OU chumash to compete. Only ArtScroll was serious about publishing a full range of Jewish literature.

Well, finally, things are starting to change. There is the OU Press, which recently published the Mesoras HaRav Chumash. And there is a huge development, which finally marks a publishing renaissance for Religious Zionist, Centrist and Modern Orthodoxy: Koren.

Koren is the only Jewish publisher aside from ArtScroll to have a comprehensive publishing vision. They are putting out siddurim, machzorim, and a Shas. They are working on several Chumashim and a series of works on Tenach. They are putting out a range of stimulating works on Jewish Thought and Law, one of which, Hilkhot Moadim, I plan to review soon. And their works are all distinguished by high intellectual caliber, great accuracy, beautiful design, high standards of publication - and commitment to the values of Religious Zionist, Centrist and Modern Orthodoxy.

You can take a look at Koren's partial list of forthcoming projects at their website. But bear in mind that Jewish publishing - especially in the Amazon and digital age, and especially with books that are produced to a high standard - is an extraordinarily costly business. Please support their works - whether by sponsoring them, buying them yourself, or encouraging your shul/ school/ yeshivah to buy them. (I am also still short of about half the funds for the Torah Encyclopedia of the Animal Kingdom, if you would like to be a part of that project!)

57 comments:

  1. This Thursday night at the OU center in Jerusalem, R' Berel Wein (who is published by Koren) and R' Nosson Sherman are doing a panel discussion on Jewish Publishing.

    Should be interesting, no?

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  2. I think a lot of people have the impression that the Modern Orthodox just don't CARE about Judaism as much as the "black hat" world (a more accurate term, I think, than "chareidi", which is more suited to the Israeli scene), always looking to get by with the bare minimum of halacha.
    I do not think this impression is unfounded. As a quick example, compare the atmosphere (especially among the youth) in your average Young Israel/MO shul on Shabbos to a more "black hat" one.


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  3. I presume you are referring to English language publications. Here in Israel, there new books are continually appearing that bring out the "New TANACH Studies" from the Hergoz College-Yeshivat Har Etzion in Hebrew. They are even bringing their work out in English in the "Torah MiEtzion" series on the Humash.
    The Shalem Center has republished a number of works by Rav Eliezer Berkowitz, whom I view as one of the major thinkers in the non-Haredi world. Zvi Fishman and David Samson have brought out a number of books about Rav Kook's philosophy in English. It pays to keep one' eyes open.

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  4. Weaver, feel free to compare atmospheres. The MO shuls I've seen are a lot more serious than many, many charedi (shteiblach etc.) minyanim.

    I daven at the Kotel almost every Friday night, as part of a very "mixed" minyan. The RZ members are quite serious; the Litvish yeshiva kids chatter away throughout Kabbalat Shabbat and only bother even just opening their siddurim at Barchu.

    Y. Ben-David, "Torah MiEtzion" is published by Koren, as are lots of books co-published with the OU and YU and a number of Israeli institutions.

    I remember when the Sacks Siddur first came out. There was a palpable sense of relief in the MO world- as if people knew full well what Artscroll was and were happy not just that there was a good new siddur, but that there was an alternative, period. You could sense the same with the Talmud. And it's not like MO are "settling" either- they're all very good works.

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  5. re: "there has been little effort to encourage students to become educators"

    I would imagine:

    The charedi world would seem to have an advantage here, since they commonly decline to teach their children any other skills. That results in their being more willing to take teaching positions at lower salaries, and so driving down the general pay level in education. I expect that would keep MO Jews out, since who wants to become an educator when you can live more comfortably as a doctor or lawyer?

    That, in turn is a great service to the people they educate. Education is already very expensive as it is. Imagine if you had to pay competitive salaries for teachers.

    On the other hand, I don't know what teachers actually get paid. I just hear them whine a lot, but so does everyone else.

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  6. First of all, you forgot Ktav Publishing which has, for decades, been promoting Modern Orthodox authors.
    Secondly, there is a good reason the publishing, educating and shechting fields are overwhelmingly Chareidi. Really, when's the last time an honours student at YU saw becoming a shochet as a top career choice as opposed to medicine or law?

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  7. Didn't you work on the Artscroll Talmud project? I recall honorable mention in Hulin. And did't Artscroll publish your Pereq Shirah? I found this amuzing post via google. Top Ten Artscroll

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  8. Yes, I worked on Chullin. They didn't publish my Perek Shirah book; they just cited/ borrowed from it for their book.

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  9. I know you don't let comment threads go off topic, but I have a question that is related to this post albeit only slightly.

    I am looking to buy a / a set of Jewish history books as a present for someone, I want a set that is pretty comprehensive covering Jewish history from pretty much inception until modern times, but easy for a lay person to read and understand.

    Do you, or any of your readers have a good suggestion for me? In particular is Rabbi Wein's set appropriate for someone with a desire to get a better knowledge of Jewish history but little desire to get bogged down in detail?

    I appreciate if you don't want to post this comment.

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  10. You should know betterDecember 19, 2013 at 12:09 PM

    Did it occur to you that perhaps all the modern orthodox donors of
    Artscroll publications, although living a more modern orthodox lifestyle, understand that the path that Artscroll represents is the only derech that has stayed Tora true and will continue to last through the ages, long after others (more self serving and distictly unlearned) are dead and gone? That these people realize who is the truly legitimate promoters of Tora and its values, and want to make sure that we will not all disappear through assimilation?
    And btw, in my experience, most modern orthodox whose children become more religious (let's not get into your labels of Chareidi, etc. - let's just call a spade a spade and say that these kids prefer a life of learning Tora from true Talmidei Chachamim and don't consider things like premarital relationships and bitul zman to be acceptable to a religious Jew) are quite pleased with their choice and some even follow their children's lifestyle changes. Wonder if it's because they too realize what will endure the test of truth and time.....

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  11. the path that Artscroll represents is the only derech that has stayed Tora true and will continue to last through the ages

    It's a little premature to judge, no? After all, it's only been around for a few decades, and right now it's facing existential crisis in Israel.

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  12. part of the problem in chuts la'aretz is that the MO Jews who seriously consider teching, tend to make aliya, leaving the field open for chareidi

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  13. About Jewish History: the best book ever is Paul Johnson's History of the Jews. If that's too big (we do have a lot of history...), R' Wein's books do give you an overview, and some perspective, and are pleasant to read. Gigantic volumes, though, they're more like coffee table books than anything else.

    His tapes are highly recommended

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  14. You should know betterDecember 19, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    As I'm not really understanding your response,I'll assume that you completely missed my point. The PATH that Artscroll REPRESENTS has been around long before a few decades. As a matter of fact, it has been around way before modern orthodoxy, and, looking at the direction modern orthodoxy is going, will be around way after modern orthodoxy has disintergrated into complete assimilation.
    (Just take a look at the statistics, whether they be smaller birthrates or rapidly declining Jewish lifestyles - modern orthodoxy is going to disappear.)

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  15. No, I didn't miss your point. I wasn't talking about Artscroll, I was talking about the PATH that Artscroll REPRESENTS i.e. charedi Orthodoxy.

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  16. Not sure you're right about the educators. I can't think of more than one MO High School in the US that predominantly employs Chareidi educators.

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  17. And where are the MO gadolim books.

    MO in general is very lax about community building and kiruv. Think of all the BT talent that got sucked into the Charedi world.

    Why wasn't YU out packing soloveitchik for the masses.

    Because the MO world suffers from academia envy. The leaders want to publish fancy manuscripts. They leave the people behind.

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  18. > (Just take a look at the statistics, whether they be smaller birthrates or rapidly declining Jewish lifestyles - modern orthodoxy is going to disappear.)

    People have been saying the same thing about the Reform movement for two hundred years.

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  19. Rabbi Slifkin, regarding the encyclopedia, it is a noble and exciting undertaking. Unfortunately I don't have $3,000 to spare for a donation but I would love to help out in a smaller way.

    I imagine there are others who would like to do so as well.

    Have you considered a kickstarter?

    Is there a way for a person to make a smaller (hopefully tax deductible) donation to help fund this worthy project?

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  20. You should know betterDecember 19, 2013 at 4:50 PM

    > (Just take a look at the statistics, whether they be smaller birthrates or rapidly declining Jewish lifestyles - modern orthodoxy is going to disappear.)

    People have been saying the same thing about the Reform movement for two hundred years.

    Yup, and look where they are now. Some of the lucky parents have Jewish grandchildren because their more discerning kids became religious - and they certainly didn't become modern orthodox - you can bet on that.

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  21. Yisrael, MO doesn't have "gedolim" as such. As it happens, there are a number of biographies of MO greats, from Koren, Urim, Ktav, Jason Aronson, and so on.

    "Know better," I'm afraid you've been fed some propaganda. Charedism has been around in its present form since only the 1970's, the 1950's at the earliest. MO is at least a bit older than that. Of course, both have antecedents that go back to the 1800's, and to a certain extent back to Talmudic times, but the movements themselves are very new. The rest of your "facts" are similarly mistaken.

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  22. You're being way too hard on centrist Orthodox Jews. Most are crushed by huge Yeshiva tuition bills and both parents are working long hours at intensive jobs. It's not like they have a lot of free time to plot how to start a centrist Orthodox publishing house. I think they usually don't see such a threat from Artscroll. Most centrist Orthodox Jews own many Artscroll books and really like most of them. There may be a stray comment here or there that bothers them, but that's about it.
    As for encouraging children to become educators, I think most parents are fine if their children want to. But they don't see some big need to constantly push that path on their children.

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  23. "You should know better" is winning this argument because the rest of you have conceded his basic assertion: Chareidism is more "frum" than Modern Orthodoxy. That is, the least observant Chareidi is more observant than the most observant MO out there.
    This is incorrect. Chareidim, as a path, is only a couple of centuries old and modern Chareidism only appeared after the war. Despite historical revisionists' efforts Chareidism is not "the way authentic Judaism has always been. It is simply a novel approach that likes to pretend it is and this needs to be emphasized.

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  24. You should know better...

    Is that a deliberately ironic handle?

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  25. Paul Johnson's book is excellent and thorough, but it is not exactly 'presentable' if you are giving a present. Rabbi Wein's trilogy (mentioned in that Artscroll link above) are 'presentable' but not as thorough and show a more Orthodox viewpoint.

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  26. Isaacson - Kickstarter, for various reasons, is not a good choice here.

    Please see http://zootorah.com/donate for details about donating smaller amounts. All donations are gratefully appreciated!

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  27. While I am a fervent reader and follower of the Rav, I think it is clear to all that for serious lomdim with a background in learning the artscroll gemarot completely outclass the koren. The academic (pictures, philology, etymology)are a nice touch, the footnotes are meant for a much less learned crowd. One does not find bies yishi and R'Y engel in the Koren the way one does in the arscroll. I hope that one day the MO world will produce demand for such a serious gemara but its not there yet.

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  28. The difficulties that the MO's are having in the States is a perfect example of Rav Kook's assertion that Judaism really can't survive in the Galut (Exile). The Religious Zionist camp in Israel, on the other hand, is B"H healthy and growing and it is turning out its own educators and its own publishing houses with its own literature. A healthy Judaism that includes full-time learners in addition to learned people who work in all sorts of professions while building up the surrounding society is only possible in Eretz Israel.
    Yes, the Haredi society in the Galut does SEEM to be healthy, but the moral degeneration American society is undergoing will INEVITABLY drag down even the "frumist" communities, as its diseased values seep into the most seemingly insular communities. A previous example of this was Sefardic Jewry, which in the early Middle Ages was the dominant Jewish community in the world, but in the wake of the decline of the Muslim world coming after the Crusades, this Jewry went into decline along with their host society. Same will happen in the US and Europe.

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  29. I should also mention Judaica Press which makes a great Hebrew-English Nach and carries the Munk series of translations of the great commentators. Then there's Urim Publications which also has a MO selection.

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  30. It could be helpful if the various genuinely Orthodox factions took some time to read and discuss each other's scholarly books respectfully.

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  31. I just spoke to someone from a little known group (cult?) called Bella Torah. They are gentiles for Judaism, practice Judaism somewhat authentically, but are non Jewish and believe in "Yeshuah."

    One guess what they pray from...
    You got it...the Complete Artscroll siddur (Ashkenazi)!

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  32. I'm looking forward to your review of Hilchot Moadim. When do you think you will be posting it?

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  33. ploni, you do realize that there different ways of learning Gemara, and that not everyone approves of "lomdus" as method? Some people- many, many people, in fact- prefer to learn with the tools R' Steinsaltz gives them.

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  34. Mighty Garnel Ironheart -

    I think it's fair to say that the yeshiva world strives to follow the Shulchan Aruch and possesses Torah scholarship to a greater extent than the MO world does.

    This is not to say that the Yeshiva world is not without its problems.

    Even though the Chareidi movement (which I would distinguish from the American "black hat" scene to some extent) represents a distortion in some ways, I think it is far more in line with philosophy that produced all the rishonim and acharonim than the MO world.

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  35. I have to agree with ploni. I was hoping that Koren would provide a serious alternative to the Schottenstein, but it just doesn't. In its footnotes Artscroll "bavorns" many questions that the learner is likely to have and provides answers, or "mareh mekomos," or at least acknowledges the difficulty. Koren most often does none of the above.

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  36. forgotmyname, your story about the gentiles praying from the Artscroll siddur is interesting, but was there a point behind mentioning it?

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  37. Unknown: Some would state that that's an advantage. Give a person the background to actually *understand* the text and then let him go further on his own.

    Koren's Talmud is R' Steinsaltz's, which has been used by millions of people in Israel. It hasn't seemed to have hurt.

    "I think it's fair to say that the yeshiva world strives to follow the Shulchan Aruch and possesses Torah scholarship to a greater extent than the MO world does."

    I don't think it's fair to say that at all. As I look around, I see that most of the real scholarship today seems to reside in more modern institutions in the US and Israel, as does the serious mitzva observance. No, I don't have solid numbers. Do you?


    "Even though the Chareidi movement (which I would distinguish from the American "black hat" scene to some extent) represents a distortion in some ways, I think it is far more in line with philosophy that produced all the rishonim and acharonim than the MO world."

    I think virtually all the rishonim and acharonim would have no idea what the charedi world was all about. They'd be a lot more comfortable with the modern one. This is a matter of simple facts.

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  38. I believe that part of the problem leading to a lack of scholarship in the MO community is related to that tightrope walk of traditional vs. modern/academic sources. When Artscroll puts out a gemara using only traditional sources, a MO person may feel it is lacking, but would have to admit that these commentaries are representative of at least some legitimate sources within traditional Judaism. However, if Koren, for example, wants to present a bold alternative, which has any chance of attracting a relatively broad audience, they can't venture too far into academia/archeology/etc that may be seen as too controversial. This is representative of the movements in general. The modern orthodox world does not necessarily look to Charedi rebbeim as their primary teachers, but they can recognize excellence in Torah knowledge even if it's not one of their own. Alternatively, the Charedi world will at times totally reject a given MO Rav, simply for affiliating himself with that group. I don't mean to generalize that this is always the case with either group, but I think it does influence how far a MO publisher can stray into academia and still expect to turn a profit. Unfortunately, as with most things in life, it all comes down to money.

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  39. The difference between the Steinsaltz and Artscroll Talmuds is simple. When Rav Steinsaltz, shlit"a, started his project he stated, IIRC, that his intent was to make the basic text comprehensible to the average person who wanted to learn. If that person wanted something more in-depth he was expected to take the initiative and find the sources himself.
    Artscroll, on the other hand, provides you with so much you don't have to take any initiative. You just hope they're giving you the right interpretation of the sources they're quoting you, which is a leap of faith.

    More publishers you all missed:
    Eretz Chemdah has seforim in both Hebrew and English on halacha.
    Yeshivat Or Vishua in Haifa has several Hebrew seforim.

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  40. Nachum,

    By that logic, who needs the Koren, give them a Soncino. For someone who is learning daf yomi (as I am) you don't necessarily want to have to go to the Rishonim to see if anyone addresses your question, and if there's a difficulty in the understanding of the p'shat, you want to know whether it's just you (in which case you're probably missing something fundamental, go back and review the gemara carefully), or whether the question is a real one that has been discussed before (in which case you can look at the meforshim that discuss it, or move on, subject to your time constraints). Schottenstein is much more useful than Koren in this regard.

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  41. Question: Was the chassam sofer charedi or modern orthodox? His Yeshiva had no secular studies, his writings have very little reference to any external wisdom. Yet he was the leader of Jews in his area of the world (at least the mitzva-observant world).
    Question 2: Was reb chaim volozhiner charedi? His Yeshiva was also cut off from any modernity, his allegiances, according to his writings, were only to Torah sources and his talmidim are only famous for their talmudic knowledge.
    How do you suggest, with a straight face, that charedism is less than 50 years old?
    kollel is a tiny outcome of the hashkofo that Torah learning is the supreme avoda of a Jew. That hashkofo is unchanged since the churban habayis when we lost the avoda aspect in its original form

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    1. Groinem,
      For one, the yeshiva of Volozhin was modeled on the university. It was an independent school with a full time faculty, as opposed to an adjunct of the town synagogue dependent on the community. Reb Chaim's vision was a response to both Hasidism and Haskalah, while incorporating elements of both (Chassidic Tzaddik---> Torah learning, university structure-----> yeshiva)

      Delete
    2. groinem,
      http://www.aishdas.org/asp/the-curriculum-at-volozhin

      Delete
  42. I think having less tidbits of sources is a plus. Because that encourages you to actually go out and look what Rambam says, what Meiri says, what Ritva says, even what the Pnei Yohoshua and Yam Shel Shelomo say, rather than allow Artscroll to give you a tiny summary and settling there.

    And often Artscroll's summary is NOT always comprehensive and misses important viewpoints. This is a particular concern when the Sepharadi interpretation of a sugya, going back to Rif and Rambam, differs with Rashi, having great implications for a large portion of readers.

    The only thing I wish is that Koren gave the Halakha citations in a clearer format and actively encouraged people to follow them.


    As for Chareidim being more knowledgeable in general, the garb and lifestyle gives the appearance of learning, but I do not think the average Chareidi necessarily understands any more Torah, Gemara, or Halacha than the average Modern Orthodox. After all, if you could go through Yeshivah High School without learning to read Isaiah or understand a sugya, you won't get anything out of 10 more years of Kollel. Particularly when the focus on how to learn is often off.

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  43. Garnel, I didn't forget or miss any of the publishers that you mention. This post is not about non-charedi publishers. It's about publishers with a comprehensive publishing vision.

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  44. How do you suggest, with a straight face, that charedism is less than 50 years old?

    I'd say it's little older than that.

    See http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2012/01/making-of-haredim.html

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  45. Garnel, Eretz Hemda is now publishing their books through...Koren. It's almost scary, but they do such a good job, who cares? :-)

    Unknown: I love Soncino. I get the feeling sometimes that it's a lot easier to understand a Gemara than a translation that throws a million Rishonim at you will have you think.

    "How do you suggest, with a straight face, that charedism is less than 50 years old?"

    -The Chatam Sofer was actually a lot more modern-minded than he's made out to be. Both him and R' Chaim Volozhin were actually huge innovators for their time.

    -I can make that claim because it's true. I never said no one had that point of view before 1950. I even said Tannaim had those views. I said that the *movement* based on those view is no older than a few decades.

    "kollel is a tiny outcome of the hashkofo that Torah learning is the supreme avoda of a Jew. That hashkofo is unchanged since the churban habayis when we lost the avoda aspect in its original form"

    Are you serious? The vast majority of Jews, even Orthodox Jews, never learned much. In Eastern Europe, the yeshivot were relatively tiny compared to what they were today, and maybe one out of twenty young men attended.

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    1. How many Jews are there in the world today? How many are learning Torah full time? Do the math, it is way less than one in twenty.

      Delete
    2. How many are Living And Breathing Torah??? And it would be very few indeed! NUMBERS DONT MATTER ITS QUALITY!!!
      I mean of course unless you hold like stalin that "quantity is a quality on its own"
      But after all we dont hold from stalin.
      When the remnants of lita jewry transplanted to america they failed to transplant ehrlechkite! Instead we have "Frumkiet" and falchkiet.not to say everything was fine and dandy in lita but atleast their was a undercurrent where ehrleichkite thrived.
      Everything is so superficial in jewish institutions and communities in todays day which obviously is heavily influenced from American culture in a way whether jews would like to admit it or not.Irony!

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  46. groinem, that's far less than one in twenty Orthodox Eastern European men in their late teens in the late 19th and early 20th Century. It's much higher in any part of the Orthodox world today. But it doesn't matter: You're positing that it should be 100%, full time, which never happened in history. Never.

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  47. There are 13 million Jews in the world. 1/20 means 5%. Haredim alone make up 7%. In israel dati Jews make up 20% and in the US 13%. It's more like 1/5 today than 1/20. If you ignore reform and conservative Jews it is closer to 50%

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  48. ArtScroll Gemara assures its readers that Talmudic discussions of cosmology are not intended literally - against the view of all the Rishonim. Can you provide a sourse please

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  49. (1) I am attending Daf Yomi (in Hebrew) and I use Steinsaltz and find it VERY useful. I especially appreciate his bringing brief notes on questions the Rishohim ask, his showing the halacha, in addition to his notes on geography, nature, biographies, lingustics, technology. I also like his introductions and summaries of each perek in addition to his introduction to the masechta.

    (2) I don't claim to know many Haredim here in Israel, but the ones I encounter do not seem to have a very high level of "emunah"..i.e. I think they would have a very difficult time explaining to the average non-religious Israel on the street what it really means to be a Jew, what it means to live in Eretz Israel and why they should live according to the Torah. There is a LOT of emphasis on these in the Dati Leumi institutions, and one proof of their success is the "mechinot k'dam tzvaaiot" (religious pre-Army induction seminars) .
    They are designed for boys who do not have a head for intensive yeshiva learning and they give the boys the spiritual strength to withstand the temptations to give up mitvah observance while in the difficult armyu environment and they have been very successful at this. They emphasize a lot of study of "emunah" and they deal with the matters I stated above.

    I know a wonderful sweet fellow who went from being an RZ to Haredi. We attended a lecture on Jewish philosophy. When we left he complained that he doesn't find it interesting. He said "all I want to know is whether the chicken is kosher!". Judaism CAN NOT surivive and be passed on to the next generation in the modern, topsy-turvey world with attitudes like that! But, unfortunately, that is what the Haredi education system is like, and it seems they believe the only way to preserve Judaism is NOT through education, argumentation and confrontation with the outside world, but simply running away from it and using coercion to keep the young "sheltered" from it. This can not work in the modern world.

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  50. > the hashkofo that Torah learning is the supreme avoda of a Jew. That hashkofo is unchanged since the churban habayis when we lost the avoda aspect in its original form

    This is very surprising. Isn't the substitute for Avoda, Tefilla?

    As in Pirkei Avos, "On 3 things the world stands: Torah, Avoda, Gemillus Chassadim"

    Or, "neshalma parim sfaseinu"

    Torah is very important, but it is not Avoda, and does not substitute for Avoda.

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  51. Y. Ben-David said

    "...I think they would have a very difficult time explaining to the average non-religious Israel on the street what it really means to be a Jew, what it means to live in Eretz Israel and why they should live according to the Torah."

    While your observation may be true, I don't think it reflects a lack of understanding or sincerity as much as the inability to communicate it to a secular Jew, due to a lack of familiarity with the secular mindset. This is a natural consequence of living in a more sheltered environment.

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  52. one "n" in "renaissance."

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  53. If it ain't broken don't fix it.any honest mo person will admit that the artscroll shas is a masterpiece of lucidity with value to both an experienced learner or a beginner.any relativly ideological gripes one might have with it hardly justify the expense of funding a competing vastly inferior shas.this would be the equivilant of some idiotic kanoi putting out his own rishonim so as not to use the mhk rishonim.

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