Friday, March 28, 2014

Torah for the Nation

Recently there was an appalling report about the principal of Lustig girl's school in Ramat Gan, who told his students that Religious Zionism is nationalism and is therefore idolatry. Twenty years ago, when I was a loyal charedi yeshiva bochur on track to become Jonathan Rosenblum's successor, my Rosh Yeshivah succinctly explained why religious Zionism was wrong: "The Zionists want to create a new type of Jew, but we believe that the old type of Jew was good enough." In my monographs on The Novelty of Orthodoxy and The Making of Haredim, I discussed several ways in which charedi Judaism is actually very, very different from traditional Judaism. In this post, I would like to explain why Religious Zionism is a crucial application of traditional Judaism to modern realities and reflects the original purpose of the Torah.

For various reasons, largely relating to the history of Jews in Europe (where the State was the enemy) and the reaction to modernity and secular Zionism, charedi Judaism has evolved into a way of life where the focus is very much on the individual. This has disconcerting results, aside from the major concerns relating to the economy and the military. I remember being in a car with a charedi yeshivah rebbe when we passed by a new recycling bin, and he dismissed it as "Zionist nonsense"; and I once raised a concern about pollution with another charedi yeshivah rebbe, who was mystified at my concern, and said "What do I care?"

During the many years that I spent in charedi yeshivos, I was given a very strong message that the very best thing to do in life is to be isolated and insulated in yeshivah, learning Torah, as an end unto itself. If someone is called away from yeshivah on a mission of communal importance, he has tragically "lost his license to learn." Someone once claimed to me that "a charedi avreich sitting in kollel is obviously acting much more closely in accordance with Hashem's will than a typical religious Zionist who is not as meticulous in his observation of halachah." I disagreed, and I felt that he was missing the wood for the trees.

Many people feel that being a good Jew is about ticking off a checklist of mitzvos (with Torah having the biggest checkbox). But they are mistaken. It's possible to be a naval b'rshus haTorah - somebody who is technically fulfilling all the requirements, but utterly going against the spirit of the law. There are certain values and actions that are fundamental to Judaism. Some of them are encoded in halachah. Others are the values that underpin many mitzvos, such as being a person who is a "giver" rather than a "taker." Still others were historically such a basic part of being part of society that there was no need to codify them - but modern society has enabled people to avoid them and eventually not even realize their fundamental importance. Historically, in order to survive, you had to work, which meant that you were contributing to the economy. Today, thanks to affluent benefactors and the welfare state, an entire culture has sprouted that encourages kollel, which drains from the economy rather than contributing to it, as being the preferred choice for most of its rapidly growing population.

Let's go back to the Chasam Sofer, who says that the mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel includes developing its economy in all kinds of ways, and that one must even stop learning Torah in order to do this. What were his grounds for saying this? He points to v'asefta es deganecha, but it's hard to see that as being a clear directive for Israel to have all kinds of industry. Instead, it would appear that he is simply presenting a basic understanding of what nationhood is about. The Torah - you know, that thing we read every week and that charedim talk about all the time - is all about creating a nation in the Land of Israel, with agriculture/industry and a justice system and an army and all the other ingredients that make up nationhood, all run in the most ethical way.

If you live on a desert island, you only need to think about yourself. If you are part of a community, you need to think about the community. If you are part of a nation, you need to think about the nation. A nation needs an economy, with people in all kinds of different professions, as well as an army and other such institutions. On an individual level, people need to balance their own needs, desires and personal growth, with the needs of the nation. On a communal level, leaders need to think about how their communities are contributing to the needs of the nation. 

Charedim have developed a mystical approach to Judaism whereby learning Gemara is the greatest thing that a person can do. They feel that secular education and the army is a serious threat to their way of life. And indeed it is. But there are bigger issues to consider, like the fundamental values of Judaism, the collapse of a exponentially growing community that is underemployed, and the needs of the entire country. 32% of first-graders in Israel are on an educational track that disdains secular education, professional employment, and military service, and the proportion is set to increase! How on earth do they think that the country can survive?

Charedi Judaism in Israel is simply utterly failing to address its responsibilities to itself and to the nation. Rabbi Wein said it well in a recent column:
Dealing with the State of Israel is an even more vexing issue for much of Orthodoxy. The creation of the Jewish state, mainly by secular and nonobservant Jews, and by political and military means was not part of the traditional Jewish view of how the Land of Israel would again fall under Jewish rule.
Since it occurred in the “wrong” way and was being led by the “wrong” people it again shook the mindset of much of Orthodoxy...  the whole attitude of much of the Orthodox world is one of denial of the present fact that the state exists, prospers and is the largest supporter of Torah and Jewish traditional religious lifestyle in the world.
It is again too painful to admit that our past mindset regarding the State of Israel is no longer relevant. As long as large sections of Orthodoxy continue to live in an imaginary past and deny the realities of the present, such issues as army or national service, core curriculums of essential general knowledge for all religious schools, entering the workforce and decreasing the debilitating poverty and dysfunction of so many families, will never be able to be addressed properly.
And with regard to leaders of Torah Judaism needing to focus not on the Gemara-growth of people in their narrow communities, but on issues of importance to the entire nation, Rav Eliezer Melamed explains why the so-called Gedolim of the charedi world are not true leaders:
Gadlut beTorah (Torah greatness, eminence) necessitates an all-embracing, fully accountable handling of serious issues facing the generation, including: the attitude towards Am Yisrael in all its diversity and various levels – both religious, and non-religious; the attitude towards mitzvoth of yishuv haaretz (settling the Land) and the on-going war which has surrounded it for over a century; the attitude towards science and work, and the contemporary social and economic questions.
The term "Torah Jew" is often bandied around, but with a tragically mistaken definition. It is used to mean "someone who places learning Torah as the ultimate goal." But it ought to be used for those who live Torah - those who are creating the nation as described in the Torah. Far from being "idolatry," it's the very essence of what Torah is about.

See too this post: Rosenblum Nails The Problem With Charedi Society

103 comments:

  1. See Michtav MeEliyahu volume 1 pp.32-33 - the roots of all attributes and all actions are the powers of giving and taking (נתינה ונטילה). He says that an individual is either one or the other, as there's no middle ground. Giving is a G-dly attribute, while taking is the source of all bad things. And he points out that there are different types of taking, all of which are associated with this negative reality: taking by illegal means, and taking legally yet selfishly. This includes people who love receiving gifts and charity. Given Rav Dessler's Gateshead and Ponevezh connections, it's too bad that this doesn't seem to get much of a hearing.

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    1. The MiKhtav m'Eliahu also writes (vol3, pp 355-357 of the hebrew ver) that you may lie to students for the greater good...

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  2. After I moved to Israel, it took me a while to realize that when Haredim refer to "bayit shel Torah," they mean a home where the husband learns full time. Homes where the husband works, no matter how observant they are, thus cannot, by "definition," be homes of Torah.

    The problem with this blog and similar ones is that they are in English for English speakers. I don't think that people who haven't lived can really comprehend how utterly different the Israeli mindset is.


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  3. Well said!
    One minor correction: Machon Lev's women's counterpart is called Machon Tal, and both are part of the Lev Academic Center. (In contrast, Lustig is the Lev Academic Center's charedi program for women in Ramat Gan.)

    Shabbat Shalom!

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  4. Here is a good video which argues that the charedi insular approach is harmful to their own spiritual welfare:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-FR_u2xzbU

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  5. Thank you! This delineates the situation and the problem so well. If the best we can hope for personally is to move forward positively, we do have to be able to discern what we do *not* want to be. We need to keep running forward, but there are just some things we don't need to step in along the way.

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  6. "...charedi Judaism has evolved into a way of life where the focus is very much on the individual." This also goes a long to explaining why, many people in your neighborhood had no problem voting for Abutbol. Some Anglo Abutbol supporters literally said that since everything is fine for them why should they care what's going on in other parts of Bet Shemesh. This idea also came through strongly in the piece Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld wrote on Cross Currents as he only "saw" Bet Shemesh as "Bnei Torah". And, of course this how the Chareidi parties have behaved when they had power in the Knesset. It bodes very ill for the future of our society.

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  7. Unfortunately, many in the Chareidi community do not realize that we are not in Europe anymore. When we were persecuted and oppressed, it made sense to turn our focus inwards. Today, both in Israel and in other countries, we have the ability to return to our true mission of demonstrating to the world how the Torah is a "Toras Chayim." I strongly recommend that anyone to whom this issue is important that they read Rabbi Jonathan Sacks' book, Future Tense, where he writes about this issue at length.

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  8. http://cardozoacademy.org/current-thought-to-ponder-by-rabbi-lopes-cardozo/spinozas-sub-specie-aeternitatis-yeshiva-students-and-the-army-ttp-385/

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  9. This is not a new problem -- see Rashi to the last verse of Megillat Esther. :(

    וְאֵין כָּל חָדָשׁ תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ

    We need to work to save the Jewish people in spite of the leaders. Then and now. :(

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  10. The contemporary focus on Limud Torah is so sweeping that it seems to exclude all other facets of Avodas Hashem and even Avodas Hashem itself. The new definition of Torah Lishmah seems to be study for no purpose other than study. Historically it meant study without impure motives but always study with the intent of serving God. The approach today is to study for no purpose at all for if we are not studying to serve God then we are doing nothing. It is not unfair to call it narcissistic. We seem really to study for ourselves. As the gentile world has pushed God out of nearly every facet of life (except perhaps funerals), we are finding a way to do the same. The Satan has found his way into the very core of Jewish life.

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  11. The article by Yoav Sorek a couple of weeks ago in Makor Rishon outlined this radical change in the perception of Torah and Judaish which has occurred in recent years. Before that there was "Humanist Judaism" which he describes pretty much what Rav Slifkin calls "Rationalist Judaism". The purpose of Torah is to lift up Am Israel, and, from that, the rest of humanity to a high spiritual level which will bring the Geulah to all mankind. This done by having a well-run society which cares for ALL people. The job of Am Israel to to observe the Torah which is beneficial both for the individual and for the "klal", the whole nation. True spirituality is achieved by seeing the hand of G-d in the world, through the revelation of history and philosophy and a scientific understanding of our cosmos and coming to understand how the Torah underpins all of this.
    Sorek then contrasts this with what he calls "esoteric Judaism" which is what Rav Slifkin described here.
    The world is an illusion which exists only to test our faith and to bring us to tefillah. Studying Torah is a spiritual exercise of value in itself. Non-Jews and non-Haredi Jews are incapable of having any spiritual value and contact with them must be minimized as much as possible. It is prohibited for any "True" Jew to have an organizational affiliation with any non-Haredi organization REGARDLESS of how halachically it is run. Thus, IDF service is strongly discouraged no matter how "frum" the army is even if the individual involved is no studying Torah most of the time, because it is under the auspices of non-Haredi Jews (this is the legacy of R. Shimshon Raphael Hirsch's "austritt"-separation policy) and thus illegitate and even dangerous.

    Obviously, this is a "pure" view of this esoteric philosophy, many Haredim compromise on it and do participate in the outside world at least to some extent, some do serve in the IDF, some are involved in outside organizations, some take in interest in outside philosophies and studies, but those who do seem to have certain guilt feelings about not being pure.

    The irony of all this is that the Talmud they study is full of real-life examples of things, yet it is viewed as undesirable or a waste of time to actually do the things discussed there!

    A couple of observations: It is the welfare state that has made this lifestyle possible . The welfare state is under pressure in Europe and will be in the US as well, although Obama is trying to keep it going. That is why the great Torah leaders up until the preveious generation were still in the world of "humanist Judaism" (e.g. Rav Moshe Feinstein, the Gerrer Rebbe who came to Eretz Israel, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and many others). They saw the Holocaust, the felt antisemitism on their person and they saw poverty, so they took a much more holistic view of Am Israel than current leaders do.

    Secondly, this esoteric Judaism is in accord with the current "post-modernist" philosophy that also looks for alternative realities, which says the "truth" is whatever you want it to be and no one can tell anyone else what to do. This is why hard-core Leftists like Peres and Ami Ayalon can support the Haredi reluctance to serve in the IDF. Since there is much evidence that post-modernist philosophy is leading to a disastrous dead-end, people will be taking a hard look at these things in future years, although we haven't gotten to this stage yet.
    Finally, no society or ideology that denies reality, post-modernism not withstanding, can survive very long and when they collapse, there is a lot of collateral damage. That is our role as "humanist Jew", to put out a safety net and show that when the inevitable disillusionment sets in with the "estoeric Jews" that the Torah is still relevant and should not be thrown in the junk heap..

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  12. > charedi Judaism has evolved into a way of life where the focus is very much on the individual

    I have to disagree with this statement. The focus for them is their community. Individuals are only valuable in as much as they live their lives in sync with the community's values, good and bad.
    A Chareidi who individually decides to protest a pedophile rebbe, for example, or a financial criminal in the community very quickly learns that his individuals is a great sin.

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  13. "The contemporary focus on Limud Torah is so sweeping that it seems to exclude all other facets of Avodas Hashem and even Avodas Hashem itself. "

    וכמו שאמרו, אם רואה אדם שיסורים באים עליו יפשפש במעשיו. פשפש ולא מצא יתלה בביטול תורה (ברכות ה). והדקדוש מפורסם באם יש בו ביטול תורה איך קאמר פשפש ולא מצא? אלא, יתלה בביטול תורה, הכוונה, שלא רצה לעסוק במצות ה׳, ובצרכי הציבור מפני שהתירא מביטול תורה, וזה עוון פלילי, כי כל התורה לא באה אלא ללמד לבני אדם להועיל ולהיטב לאחרים ולא להתיראות ולחוש לעצמו בלבד
    הרבי מקאצק (ר' אברהם פרייס, אמרי אברהם, פרשת חיי שרה, דרשה ב, אות יא)

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  14. I think you have your Lustigs mixed up. This one is a beis yacov type high school, and has nothing to do with the post high school institution that belongs to machon lev, AFAIK.

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  15. MK Tzipi Hotovely's comments today about giving birth demonstrate the mindset of a Dati-Leumi person -

    "I devoted the hours I was in hospital during labor - during which [traditionally] many prayers are said - to say a prayer for our country."

    "There is no joy in the world like building a home and bringing a child into this world... we feel that we can give now to the people of Israel from a complete place."

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/179011#.UzV6yFfYqt8

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  16. I just read Rav Carodozo's brilliant idea to have Haredi soldiers in uniform whose job would be to study Torah FULL-TIME in Batei Midrash on army basis or even in "hot" areas

    As I pointed out in my previous comments, there are many Haredim who are not completely consistent in their adherence to Esoteric/Separatist Judaism and might be willing to join the IDF under these circumstances.

    Another idea is that the Haredim would be recognized as a community like the Arabs, i.e. people who can not serve the state out of reasons of concience and would be exempt from military service and would be able to work, and in return, they would give up control of the state Chief Rabbinate and local municipal rabbinates, take no part in debates about the public role of religion in the public realm (i.e. the "religion and state" debate) and would give up any special budget allocations that are above and beyond what all other citizens are entitled to. I wonder how that would go over?

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  17. Rav Tzair - I just found the following letter in the JPost:


    Sir, – The Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT) – Lev Academic Center wishes to completely distance itself from the remarks made by Rabbi Binyamin Metzger, head of the Lustig Seminary High School, who, according to the online edition of The Jerusalem Post (March 25), was recently shown on television “comparing religious Zionism to Nazism in the wake of a public outcry against the suspension of a student who had voiced support for performing national service.”

    Although Campus Lustig, JCT’s affiliate in Ramat Gan, shares the same building and the “Lustig” name, the two institutions are separate entities, ours being an academic institution where haredi and religious-Zionist women study side by side.

    A very high percentage of our students participate in national service and we are very proud of them.

    ROSALIND ELBAUM
    Jerusalem
    The writer is JCT – Lev Academic Center director of external affairs

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  18. Your first paragraph confuses two issues. looking askance at concepts like "pollution" and "recycling" is not a charedi-zionist issue. It is more closely akin to a conservative-liberal issue, although this too is not exact. (There are plenty of conservative environmentalists and liberal polluters.)

    By the way, this line - "when I was a loygal yeshivah bochur on track to become Jonathan Rosenblum's successor" - smacks of arrogance.

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  19. That was Rosenblum's line about me at the time.

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    1. Zippy the PunheadMarch 28, 2014 at 6:22 PM

      In that case, it's Rosenblum's comment that smacks of arrogance.

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  20. Rabbi slifkin, the gimara in brachos 35b says,that the optimal way of judaism would be when "work will get done by others to allow for full time learning". This is precisely what's going in Israel, "bzman sheosim ritzono shel makom,milachton nasis al yiday achairim", ie. yeshiva guys get supported by the rest of the country. By contrast= "ain osim ritzono sel makom", (chilonim) mileches achairim (chariedim) nasis al yodom" (chilonim).

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  21. Oy vey, your comment is off in so many ways. First of all, what you are citing is the view of only RSBY, and Abaye observes that this does not work for most people - he says that people are better off following R. Yishmael, who says that people should work for a living. Second, the "acherim" of the Gemara does not refer to other Jews. Third, it is tragic that your comment simply ignores countless other maamarei Chazal.

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  22. In other words, your basis for the importance of "give and take" is based on "hilchos derech eretz" at best. (since you have no other source). so that would apply to non jews as well as w see in chazal. The dispute in the gimara is not a MORAL dispute, rather a practical debate.

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  23. "First of all, what you are citing is the view of only RSBY, and Abaye observes that this does not work for most people"

    Even if that is only one opinion in the Gemara, it still points to the idea that full time learning isn't a new invention. It was considered and maybe even practiced by some even back then

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  24. "...Thus, IDF service is strongly discouraged no matter how "frum" the army is even if the individual involved is no studying Torah most of the time, because it is under the auspices of non-Haredi Jews (this is the legacy of R. Shimshon Raphael Hirsch's "austritt"-separation policy) and thus illegitate and even dangerous...."

    It's been a while since I read R' Hirsch's writings on austritt, so I could be mistaken. But my strong impression is that R' Hirsch only had a problem with joining institutions whose "mission statements" included anti-Torah beliefs, such as the Reform-led kehillos in Germany (some of whom, for example, filled in mikvaos and outlawed Torah study).

    I don't think the Israeli Army is in the same category. It's simply dedicated to defense. Its lapses in halacha are not part of it's mission statement; they're simply an outgrowth of Israeli society's estrangement from Torah observance.

    I don't think R' Hirsch would have had a problem with someone joining sections of the Israeli Army that are conducive for Torah observance.

    Andy

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  25. I have an uncle, a musmach of Torah VeDaas and Telz, who I remember once lamented the fact that there are very few Chareidi professionals.

    A friend's son (Israeli child with English parents) had the opportunity to go to England to medical school. He was learning at the time in a Chareidi Yeshiva (I don't recall which one.) When he approached his Rabbeim they were appalled. His father was adamant so they suggested that they ask a Rav. The father agreed and they went to Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein.

    His reply was, "This is a wonderful thing! We need "frum" doctors!" The only caveat was that he suggested that the boy first get married before going to medical school in England which he did.

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  26. Thank you, Y. Ben-David, for the astute observation regarding the spread of post-modernist philosophy into the charedi world.

    As a scientist I struggle with the "reality is whatever you think that it is" attitude that has become far more common in the general population and not just those with a reputation for religious extremism. We see that everywhere from people who refuse to vaccinate their kids because of unfounded fears about autism, to political leaders saying that creationism should be taught in science classes so that students can "be exposed to different ideas" -- a quote in support by no less a figure than Yale and Harvard educated former US President George W. Bush on this topic!

    The natural analog would be to allow Reform rabbis to teach in orthodox yeshivot their view on Torah She Bal Peh, or to bring in a holocaust denier to a Jewish school to teach his ideas regarding 20th century history.

    And the damage from this denial of reality can be huge. One of the major reasons for the massive plague of HIV disease in South Africa is that a renegade scientist managed to convince that country's health minister that HIV that HIV is harmless, something that completely contradicts all scientific evidence. But, hey, it is an opinion and therefore it is legitimate, right? As a result, HIV has killed far more South Africans than did the Apartheid regime. :(

    We of all people should be grounded in reality. Years ago I read an account by a Unitarian minister of a conversation he heard between a particular Christian minister of a mystical bent, and a rabbi: "Tell me," said the rabbi, "how do you deal with the problem of evil?"...."It's all *maya*," replied the mystic, referring to a Sanskrit and Pali term for a type of illusion. "Try telling that to my holocaust survivors," replied the rabbi.

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    1. Sorry, anyone who would possibly listen to "Dubya" on the subject of objective reality is dreaming. Unfortunately, in a system by which knowledge is bought at so much the quarter or semester hour, often learning gets lost....aside from the fact that full private pay legacy students can attend places like Harvard with little to no issue regarding their SATs and ACT scores. The loss of reference to objective reality, the willingness to believe in the "Big Lie", and the moral relativism so extant in much of the world today is just sad. That being stated, with respect to the Haredi who spend time learning Torah, and in Prayer....I have never thought that Ha-Shem would disallow the prayer that is providing good Nursing Care for the injured, the prayer that is a well prepared, nutritious and Kosher meal, bringing the sacred into the everyday life we all live as long as we breath, the prayer that is the grace of taking care of a Child who needs you, or the pure grace that is a well kept Home, Office and Life...knowing that with every dancing step of life, in the Fields, in a Garden, or toiling at pushing paper in an office....but doing such with purpose, willingness, grace and thanks for being able, alive and blessed by being Jewish, which provides high notes every week on Shabbat that are a blessing of community and the peace of being alive. Thinking that the everyday activities of being the Citizen of a Community, or a Nation-State is not a Prayer is to miss so much of what we have been given....my sorrow for the young Scholars I remember from when I was a girl who had never ridden a horse, or danced barefoot on a beach, or just hiked a hill to see what was on the other side....we all enjoy and are blessed by Ha-Shem, many in different ways, I suppose, but to not participate in Life in the best of ways, with a good heart, and a recognition of the grace we have been given in Life with the value of everyday "stuff" that we must do to foster the People....well, that is just a sadness as well....we need all of us, and all of us must do what we are given to do, whether it is to study all the time, and forget about everyday in the sweep of reading Torah? Or to be truly present in all we do, and have Torah permeate our approach to Life in each and every day things...which maybe means you have to serve in the Army, or maybe grow crops, or become an MD, or maybe even be a Nurse...

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  27. R' Slifkin, I agree with your argument. There is a sense, however, in which nationalism is akin to idolatry, but it actually supports your argument.

    There is nothing wrong with a minimalist kind of nationalism -- having some pride in, identification with, and loyalty to one's country.

    The problem is that nationalism, as that term is often used, means an attitude of blaming others for the nation's problems, idealizing authoritarian leaders, aggrandizing the nation while defaming everyone else, suppressing dissent within the nation (as criticism is seen as opposing unity or threatening the nation's inflated view of itself), and promoting an artificial conformity and historical revisionism that stifles individual freedom and self-expression. This kind of nationalism has been prevalent in world history over the last hundred years or so, from the fascist regimes of the mid-20th century to such modern examples as Putin's Russia and Sadaam Hussein's Iraq.

    If modern Israeli nationalism were like this (which I do not think it is, except perhaps among some isolated extremist elements within the dati leumi camp), then this would be a big problem. Our nationalism should be better than that, focused on a realistic assessment of our problems, empowering individuals to think for themselves and become innovative leaders, and loving and helping other nations as well as fixing our own problems and developing our society. The writings of R' Kook, I think, support such an open-minded and idealistic nationalism (rooted in Torah, of course, with a broad universalistic and humanitarian interpretation).

    Yet my definition of negative nationalism above applies very well to the Israeli charedi camp. If anyone is putting into practice the idolatrous aspects of modern nationalism, it is the charedim, not the secular Zionists or national Religious.

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    1. baal teshuva with a secular educationMarch 30, 2014 at 4:55 AM

      Yishai, the negative talking points about nationalism are some of the same things they taught in american public high school since postmodernism demonizes nationalism and the powers that be want to do away with it. Nationalism of course is blamed for the world wars and the extreme right wing parties today are called nationalists and equated to fascism. Obviously there are good and bad points about nationalism and those who support Jewish Torah Nationalism embrace the positive qualities and not bigotry or the negative side of what nationalism *could lead to in some cases. Are not the positive qualities of nationalism stressed in the Torah?
      In today's world the people who hate nationalism hate any form of individual identity, while in the Jewish world the haredi world hates nationalism because it was made a boogeyman enemy of the yeshivish philosophy.

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  28. Regarding the welfare state, the trend throughout much of the world is to tie welfare benefits to work, requiring recipients to work at least part time or to at least look for work. These are known as "welfare to work" policies (US) or "active labour market" policies (EU). One has to be careful with such things, because they are often designed or implemented in a clumsy and unfair manner, increasing poverty and the suffering of the poor in many cases (for example, welfare mothers in the US are often forced into dead-end jobs because extended job training or college is not allowed for in some state versions of welfare to work). However, if such measures were taken in Israel, and designed and implemented in a reasonable way, they would be a powerful force for increasing charedi labor force participation.

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  29. I teach English literature in a Jewish school and decided to look through some of Isaac Beshevis Singer's stories for children. What i came across was fascinating. So many of the stories from the shtetls of Europe, especially in Russia, revolve around young Jewish boys who are " stolen from their homes" by the army and forced to renounce their faith and lifestyle. How sad that such an archaic schema is wrenched in the hearts of the haredi people and resurfacing against their own nation whose army is there to protect them!

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  30. I wonder when and if Hareidi leaders will take to heart the Rambam's stricture in his Mishne Torah about the peril of self-isolation? He argues that those who separate themselves from the public and do not celebrate or mourn with them have no share in the world to come despite their torah learning and mitzvot. How long will the message that those who differ from their dress and life-style are no longer part of Israel resonate with their flock and be used to justify their self-isolation? Previously, the yeshiva pathway was a one-way street. If you stayed during military age you were not legally employable thereafter. This is no longer true. You can leave yeshiva and find a job to support your family. I suspect that many yeshiva guys will take that option. This will not only benefit them and their families, it will contribute to the well-being of the country and fulfill the cited view of Rav Moshe Sofer.

    While the non-violent Hareidi members who believe in the propaganda fed to them are not suitable subjects of attack, their leaders are. While many or most Hareidim can be considered victims, many of their leaders are perpetuators of a self-serving fraud. The near daily pronouncements from such leaders are a continuing source of embarassment and anger.

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  31. Moshe Dick writes:
    Some emtries ago(possibly the beth Shemesh election), Rabbi Slifkin admitted that he was very depressed and concerned about the future of theJewish people. Personally, I have always been an optimist and a realist. However, reading today's entry about the comparison of religious Zionism to heresy and Nazism, I think that one should indeed be concerned. Additionally, I just finished reading another column in cross-currents about the (non) drafting of people learning Torah that includes a slew of bogus arguments and it is time to be worried.
    As long as religious Zionists feel inferior to the chareidim, this will continue. It is time to to expose chareidim for their ungrateful and narcissistic views. It is time to free the Chief Rabbinate from the clutches of the extreme chareidim and, certainly, it is time to end the open ended subsidies to chareidim.
    Klal Yisroel will be better for it.

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  32. > 32% of first-graders in Israel are on an educational track that disdains secular education, professional employment, and military service, and the proportion is set to increase! How on earth do they think that the country can survive?

    1. The impression I’ve been getting is that Chareidim really don’t care about Israel’s survival as a country, and
    2. Der Eibishter helfen. Chareid society believes, in a way you and I no longer do, that hishtadlus is just a game, for appearances sake, and everything is really handed out personally by Hashem. They look forward to the day when all Jews will sitting and learning (except women, of course – they don’t really count) and all worldly needs will be seen to by goyim. [That this is a minority view n the gemara has nothing to do with anything. That is what we’re taught to look forward to as the glorious yemai hamoshiach.]

    The problem isn’t formulating a logical argument to show Chareidim that their way of life is untenable. The problem is we can’t even agree on how the world works, and that’s what any arguments have to rest on.

    Yisrael said...
    > As the gentile world has pushed God out of nearly every facet of life

    I don’t know where you live, but in the U.S. Christianity is alive and well. You should check out Evangelical blogs/websites sometime. It’s fascinating how similar the lifestyle is to frumkiet, and especially to Chareidism. And my understanding is that Islam is getting more fundamentalist, not more secular.

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  33. Michael said: "...charedi Judaism has evolved into a way of life where the focus is very much on the individual." This also goes a long to explaining why, many people in your neighborhood had no problem voting for Abutbol. Some Anglo Abutbol supporters literally said that since everything is fine for them why should they care what's going on in other parts of Bet Shemesh.

    >>>>

    Abutbol promised to work for the benefit of all sectors of the Bet Shemesh, charedi, dati leumi and chiloni, and claims that he did so during his first term and plans to do so in his second term. I am not very familiar with Bet Shemesh but when I spent some time there recently (for my son's wedding B'H) I was impressed with a beautiful, clean city that seems to have many amenities, parks, shopping centers and so on, and seems to be growing and flourishing, B'H. If there are areas that are slum areas, lacking in amenities or public services, I did not see them.

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  34. Df , it seems like every time you attempt to embarrass or rebuke Rabbi Slifkin, you end up embarrassing yourself.

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  35. "Even if that is only one opinion in the Gemara, it still points to the idea that full time learning isn't a new invention. It was considered and maybe even practiced by some even back then."

    But not full-time learning which demanded the support of others!

    Maybe it's time to remind ourselves of Rambam's words, quoted as the primary view by Rema:

    "One who makes up his mind to involve himself with Torah and not to work, and to support himself from charity, has profaned God’s Name and brought the Torah into contempt, extinguished the light of religion, brought evil upon himself, and has taken away his life from the World-to-Come..." (Hilchos Talmud Torah 3:10)

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  36. G*3-
    I think it is fair to say that although we may not agree that "G-d is being pushed out" in the US, all the religions in the US are under EXTREME pressure to conform to new politcally correct things like approval of homosexuality and moral relativism. Look at the new Pope Francis who is trying to look good with the post-modernists and liberals. All the mainline churches in addition to the Mormons are trying to be more 'inclusive' of homosexuals, single mothers and the such The churches that hold by traditional values in these matters are in decline and are losing a lot of their youth, including the born-again Christians. Just as there are new "social justice" Jewish congregations that on the one hand, encourage observance of Kashrut and Shabbat on some (not necessarily halachic) level, they at the same time are largely anti-Zionist and "non-judgemental" (i.e. the religion makes no real demands on you and accepts everyone 'as they are') and politically far-Left, there are also now Christian evangelicals who are the same, and are strongly anti-Israel. One exmaple is a popular Evangelical Lutheran woman preacher who wears tank-tops, is covered with tatoos and who liberally sprinkles her sermons with profanity. Her appearances are packed, not just with the down-and-out, but with the mainline Middle Class.
    It is important to note that in the US, the number of people who define themselves as "atheists" has IIRCdoubled to 20 percent in the last decade and church attendance in declining rapdily. Jewish assimilation skyrocketing as the recent PEW report has shown.
    The basic American religion today says that G-d is there to make you feel good about yourself, he wants you to accept yourself as you are, He forgives your and will not make any demands of you. The opposite of what Dennis Prager defines as traditional religious belief---to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.

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  37. Andy-
    I am not an expert in Rav Hirsch's "austritt-separation" philosophy, but what you say about the IDF not being an illegitimate non-Haredi instution that Haredim may be permitted to join may be true, but if you have read many of the comments here and at Cross-currents, you will see there are a lot of people who maintaint that the goal of the IDF, and of the secular government in general is to subvert the Haredi youth.

    I once heard a lecture by Dr Yehudah Levy who was maybe the last of the real Hirschian Torah-Im-Derech Eretz people, at least here in Israel. I pointed out to him that many German Orthodox rabbis opposed it and that I believe it caused a lot of harm. An elderly gentleman in the audience who as a Holocaust survivor piped up that he had lived in a town in Germany with two Orthodox synagogues, one separatist and one "gemeinde" (general community) and the leaders of each were two talmidei hachamim who didn't speak to each other because of this already archaic division. How much damage did this do to that community?!
    Thus, I believe a lot of Haredim (but not all) would refuse to serve no matter how much the IDF would bend over backwards to accomodate them. Ideology can become a real sickness if not combined with good midot and Ahavat Israel.

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  38. Lauren Grunsfeld-
    I am astounded that you would spout yet another of the preposterous historical distortions we have been treated to recently by comparing the despicable cantonist program of Czarist Russia to IDF service. Is kidnapping young children and forcing them into the Czarist army for 20 years, far longer than non-Jews were forced to serve where they were only given trafe food and made to listen to lectures by Christians to get them to convert, to be compared to service in the IDF, usually of only a few months during for most Haredim who are married by the time they are inducted. Really? You think it is the same?
    As I have stated before, those of you who are dissemenating falsehoods are ultimately helping to destroyt the Haredi community you claim to be helping. No ideology that opposes the reality that people see around them can survive for long. Recent history has repeatedly shown that. I suggest you do a little more research on these matters before you make any more comments like the one you made here.

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    Replies
    1. Y ben David, I'm afraid you may have misunderstood Ms Grunfeld's comment. I thought she was saying that by characterizing the current sytem as similar to the tzar's, they are making a mistake.

      Delete
    2. Thank you student v for clarifying. Was I not clear enough?

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  39. Rebbetzen Katz:
    If you should happen to visit Beit Shemesh again I would be happy to show you the neglected parts of Beit Shemesh and point out l'maaseh the reasons why communal -minded residents were not best pleased with Abutbul even before the scandal of the election campaign. I had insufficient opportunity to learn from your father z'l but from what I understand of his views I think he'd agree with me. Please feel free to contact me via the Beit Shemesh phone book.
    Kind regards

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  40. Rebbetzn Katz, your claim about Abutbul working for everyone is simply irrelevant to the point that Michael said. He wasn't talking about Abutbul; he was talking about statements made by certain people as to why they were voting for Abutbul. In this vein, I would add that the Dati-Leumi rabbanim said that one should vote Eli Cohen because he will be best for all populations, whereas the Chareidi rabbanim said that one should vote Abutbul because he will be best for the charedim and will help transform Beit Shemesh into a charedi city.

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  41. To Y. Ben David re Czarist Russia

    If you will read Lauren Grunsfeld's comment again, you will see that she agrees with you.

    It is indeed sad and even hurtful that those memes are being brought out in regards to the Israel Defense Force.

    As for the rest ... the analogy that some Charedim use is "The secular society is sick. If you see someone sick, you don't join them, you stay away from them. Don't ask us to join you and become infected with your illnesses." (Dati-Leumi are just chilonim 20 years behind)

    Look, there is some reality to what they say. There are aspects of the wider society that are damaging and anathema to Jewish values. There are large swaths of the population that identifies itself as Dati Leumi that is only barely Shomer Shabbat. There is a large percentage of graduates of Dati Leumi high schools that can't wait to take their kippa of, in the army or even before. There's the concept of Dati Blai, and of course DatLash.

    So can we honestly say in every way, "do what we do", "be like us"?

    I firmly believe in the ideal of Torah that is alive and active in every human endeavor. But is it easy to live in two worlds, both of which are challenging and demanding? No it is not.

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  42. Rabbi Slifkin, When the rambam says that it's a chilul hashem to accept charity for the sake of learning, he is referring to charity that comes from religious jews, not from kofrim. The shulchan aruch in yd:158 says we do not concern ourselves (putting it mildly) with the life of a kofer, or someone that doesn't believe in the thirteen principles of faith. The secular army by and large fit into that category. Therefore, we certainly are not concerned about their money, or their "burden".

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  43. Lauren Grunfel, Kira and Student V-
    I obviously misunderstood your posting and I apologize. I guess the inflamed emotions all of this is raising in many of us is preventing us from thinking clearly and I jumped the gun on my response.

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  44. Wow, it seems that you are really switching sides here and suddenly adopting a more mystical 'Klal Yisrael' approach, something championed by the Maharal and Ramchal.

    The Charedim are much more pragmatic, choosing to do what is best for their communal interests.

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  45. How would you respond to the argument that the Torah is what the rabbis say it is? By rabbis, I mean those scholars who carry with them the unbroken tradition of Torah, its interpretation, and its implementation, from their teachers and their teachers' teachers, back to the original revalation at Sinai. Now I realize even if one accepts this view, one can then argue about which rabbis really possess the authentic tradition, or the more authentic tradition, but for the sake of argument, I'd like to propose this answer to the idea that charedi Judaism is somehow unfaithful to the principles of traditional Judaism.

    I'm not a scholar, and I have neither the ability nor the time to cite sources or make a scholarly argument for the point I am making. I'll simply put forward, in a general way, the idea that whatever "the rabbis" say is, by definition, Torah. Just as in secular law, or at least American secular law, the law isn't the literal word of what's written in the law books, or even the Constitution - it is what the courts say it is at any given time and in any given context.

    If we do not see it this way, then where can we really find a definitive statement of what the Torah means in any particular context? Do we find it in the Rishonim? The Gemora? The Mishna? Why shouldn't we go right to the Chumash itself? But then, we find a Torah that punishes rape by having the rapist marry the victim, that includes mutiliation as a punishment, and that commands the Jewish nation to commit genocide.

    I certainly won't argue that the values you propose seem much more positive and attractive than many of the values that the haredi world today seems to be promoting, at least in the public discourse of its spokesmen. I'm just wondering whether there's an adequate answer to the argument I propose above.

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  46. also see igros moshe yd:4:36 ois 4 regarding a contradiction in the rambam in this matter, and the way he resolves it. Baruch gitlin- well said.

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  47. Baruch Gitlin-
    I am sure you are aware that there are major rabbinical scholars who agree with Rav Slifkin's views dnd the holistic views of Religious Zionism and who are quite critical of the Haredi approach-one such is Rav Eliezer Melamed who has been quoted here.
    If we accept your point and say that what their Rabbinical leaders say which justify the "esoteric" approach, or the "individualist" approach and say that everything outside the Beit Midrash is nonsense and a waste of time and building a Jewish state in Eretz Israel has no value, we still are left with the problem of how this individualist, esoteric community is going to fit in with the larger society, in other words, the right of a society to demand civic responsibility and good citizenship from all the citizenry. If the United States which is now being held up as the ideal society for Haredim to live in because it "leaves them alone" were to reinstitute mandatory military conscription (they have had it in the past) simply saying "we want to be left alone" wouldn't wash. How would they deal with that? Remember, even concientious objectors have to serve, I recently read that 250 concientious objectors served as part of the bomb disposal squad in London during the German bombing. That was a VERY dangerous job and some were killed. So the problem of citizenship really exists in all countries the Haredim live in. There were recent problems with this in Quebec, for example. So we then go back to the problem of Haredi dialogue with the

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  48. rt said...
    Rabbi Slifkin, When the rambam says that it's a chilul hashem to accept charity for the sake of learning, he is referring to charity that comes from religious jews, not from kofrim.


    Utter baloney. (Also, I'm not sure of the relevance of your claim to the kollel system, which is largely funded by religious Jews.)

    also see igros moshe yd:4:36 ois 4 regarding a contradiction in the rambam in this matter, and the way he resolves it.

    Aside from the fact that R. Moshe's resolution is very difficult, the end result of the way that he explains Rambam still would not apply to the kollel system.

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  49. Rabbi Slifkin, The first post of mine was an argument regarding the current events in Israel. As I have demonstrated-if we are not concerned about their lives, then their assets or burden, certainly mean nothing to us. As far as reb moshes's teshuva, he says very clearly that if one's level of learning will be affected as a result of going to work,then he is permitted to be compensated for his learning.

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  50. Baruch gitlin--
    there is an unbroken tradition of non-charedi torah being passed down. my family is ffb on both sides stretching back as far as can be traced, staying frum through all the upheavals the jewish world has gone through.
    i asked a charedi about the problem of my becoming more charedi, given that it would involve throwing off the yoke of my family mesorah. i meant it as a genuine question, since at the time i was sincerely considering the charedi path and this issue bothered me.
    the response? "they left the true mesorah so it doesn't count".

    i nearly slapped him.

    the charedim maintain the idea of only their path being torah true by rewriting history so they are the only "carriers of unbroken mesorah". it's a load of nonsense. my grandfather learned from Rav Pinchas Hirschprung zt"l and other tremendous rabbanim. The previous generation was quite different from today's.

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  51. If we accept your point and say...

    Y. Ben-David - I wasn't trying to make a point, only to raise a question. I am aware of the many rabbinacal views that oppose the haredi point of view. Further, as a practical matter, I find the haredi attitude towards the state in general and army service in particular to be indefensible. Even if they could convince me that the Torah, in the voice of the haredi rabbis that oppose the draft, justifies their attitude, I do not believe this view in any way obligates the civil society around them to accept that view, either here, in the United State, or anywhere else.

    That being said, I think the question of what constitutes the "authentic" Torah view is a fair question, and an important one. To me, and I think to many, this questions presents some very troubling issues. It may be that if a person confronts this question honestly, he or she may be lead in a direction that will eventually force a choice between views that seem unethical, immoral, and/or at odds with basic and proven science, on one hand, and a conclusion that there is no authentic Torah tradition, on the other. I think a lot of intellectual energy gets expended on both sides of the divide in trying to avoid this choice, but I think it may be more honest to confront it.

    It may be an adequate answer to cite rabbis that do not insist on believing that black is white in matters of science, or who do not believe it is OK for an entire community of Jews to avoid army service when their brothers are forced to serve. But I'm not completely convinced of this, and in any case, I think the question is worth raising, at least theoretically.

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  52. the charedim maintain the idea of only their path being torah true by rewriting history so they are the only "carriers of unbroken mesorah". it's a load of nonsense. my grandfather learned from Rav Pinchas Hirschprung zt"l and other tremendous rabbanim. The previous generation was quite different from today's.

    adi - this may well be. I'm just an ignorant Jew raised Reform with no particular mesora except that Jews should be honest, should try to be pleasant to others and good neighbors, and should try to be good citizens.

    It may well be true that haredim have been trying to rewrite history, as you say. But that would seem to turn many of their top rabbis into perpetrators, or at least accomplices, to a pattern of deception and lying. Since many of the people from whom I learned Torah hold these people in greet esteem, I find this a difficult conclusion to accept. I'm not saying it isn't true - just difficult to accept, and with significant consequences for my own belief that there is any valid mesora.

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  53. rt said... "Rabbi Slifkin, When the rambam says that it's a chilul hashem to accept charity for the sake of learning, he is referring to charity that comes from religious jews, not from kofrim. The shulchan aruch in yd:158 says we do not concern ourselves (putting it mildly) with the life of a kofer, or someone that doesn't believe in the thirteen principles of faith. The secular army by and large fit into that category. Therefore, we certainly are not concerned about their money, or their 'burden'."

    You clearly do not accept the view of the Gedolim about the general Israeli public.
    Two words ... tinok shenishbah

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  54. Baruch, I'm afraid that the answer to your question is that there is no 'certifiably authentic' rabbinic tradition going back to Sinai. This was a matter debated in Mishnaic and Talmudic times between different schools and individuals. Certainly the situation hasn't improved since then. No one can cite credible evidence that their tradition and practice is the 'authentic Judaism'. At best we have some generally accepted torah teachings and practices of the observant world. It's really a matter of adopting those teachings and practices that are most consistent with a well-considered system of values and least objectionable from a rational standpoint.

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  55. Tom voletz, It seems the famous quote of reb chaim "nebach an apikoros, is oich an apikoros" eludes you.

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  56. Baruch Gitlin-
    It seems my background is different than yours and I am not troubled by the questions you are raising. I became observant while I was a university student in the wake of the Yom Kippur War. In my case, it was mostly a "do-it-yourself" project. I was awed by the rise of the state of Israel and the Kibbutz Galuyot (ingathering of the exiles). I read a lot about the struggle of the ETZEL and the LEHI and about Israel's struggle for survival and was inspired by it. I searched out religious Jews to study from. There was a group of students from the Hafetz Haim Yeshiva in New York. They emphasizes mussar and STRONGLY opposed religious extremism and were very positive about Israel...they had a branch yeshiva there. After I finished by univserity studies, I went to Israel for the first time and studied in a non-partisan Yeshiva whose teachers came from Haredi backgroudns, but they did not push any particular line. It was in Israel I first encountered anti-Zionist religious Jews (outside the Yeshivah) and was (and, for that matter, am still) puzzled by their negative attitude. Thus, I never had reason to question what the Rabbanim taught me since it did not negate what I had decided on my own before I ever came to yeshiva.

    Regarding the "mesorah" question, I can only point to the fact that there is a community obligation to regularly read from the 6 Books of Moshe in the Torah, plus the TANACH. They are FILLEd with love of Am Israel and Eretz Israel and a loving approach to bringing those far away from Torah back. Thus, I cant' fathom where Tom Voletz gets his blanket condemnation of the large majority of world Jewry, in direct contradiction to what people like the Hazon Ish said. If we are told to read the Torah, it MUST have a message that the average, non-scholarly Jew can understand.

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  57. http://cardozoacademy.org/current-thought-to-ponder-by-rabbi-lopes-cardozo/spinozas-sub-specie-aeternitatis-yeshiva-students-and-the-army-ttp-385/

    Thanks Dale for this. This is essentially what I was suggesting in a series of comments on a previous post. Let's recognize Torah learning as something valuable for the Jewish people living in Israel and incorporate it into national service. It certainly is no less valuable that army musicians, journalists, cooks and economists.

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  58. Torah teaching is much MORE valuable to others than army musicians, journalists, cooks and economists.
    Torah learning is much LESS valuable.

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  59. Well, let me argue about the cooks, at least. Im ein kemach ein Torah.

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  60. I have always liked the Lubavitcher Rebbe's explanation of the spies' sin. He said they were holy (as the Chumash says) and believed in Hashem. What they were afraid of was living a "normal" life that would require working, etc.

    They preferred remaining in the desert where they could study Torah all day and receive spiritual food from heaven. What could be better? And yet, Hashem said, "That's not what I want."

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  61. "Torah learning is much LESS valuable."
    WOW - I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU JUST SAID THAT!

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  62. Until now the kfira was implicit, but now it became explicit with your last post.In addition you fail to explain basic questions that are addressed here. You have been asked on numerous occasions to explain why the words of rishonim are final say halachically speaking as opposed to achronim, or gimara vs. rishonim. I personally have challenged you many times with many chazal that prove Torah is inherently greater than other Mitzvos in mystical and non mystical ways. But you have failed to respond to any of it. It's very simple to go a rampage about any given topic and when confronted with evidence to just conveniently ignore it. Additionally,you claim that the chredi orthodox community is self centered. So why is it that any famous large tzidaka organization is funded and was started by the chareidim, like hatzoloh, bikur cholim, bonie olam etc..... name me one famous chesed organization that organization that was funded by the modern orthodox.

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  63. rt, It seems that the p'sak of the Chazon Ish is unknown to you.
    Hilchos Shechitah 2:28, "The children [of kofrim] have the din of an anus and tinok shenishbah ... we are commanded to support him and even to be mechaleil Shabbos to rescue him ... It is a mitzvah to love reshaim [in our times, because one is not a rasha unless he refused to accept tochachah, and we do not know how to give tochachah]."

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    Replies
    1. I think there may be some others in this thread who have the din of an anus too, but not in the way CI meant.

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  64. Dear Y. Ben-David,
    You wrote: "Thus, I cant' fathom where Tom Voletz gets his blanket condemnation of the large majority of world Jewry, in direct contradiction to what people like the Hazon Ish said."

    You confused me (Tom Voletz) with "rt" to whom I was responding.

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  65. I just want to acknowledge how severely rt got owned.
    He wrote
    "Rabbi Slifkin, When the rambam says that it's a chilul hashem to accept charity for the sake of learning, he is referring to charity that comes from religious jews, not from kofrim."

    Then when R'Slifkin pointed out that even if that was true it would be irrelevant since the kollel system is mostly supported by religious jews, he seems to claim that he was only referring to the situation in Israel, where they get money from the government.
    Well firstly, they still get lots of money from religious jews, so why doesn't that portion contribute to a chillel hashem?
    Also, if there was a religious government in power, then would the charadim have to stop learning? They would need to identify some wealthy kofrim to replace the government's money.
    Secondly rt, since you seem to be think the supposed attitude of the rambam is valid, how do you reconcile that with cases where the kollel is supported entirely by money from religious jews?

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  66. Tom Voletz-
    You are getting my second apology
    in this thread. I am really fouling up lately. I must make an effort to read the posts much more carefully.

    RT-
    Your comment that "how many hesed organizations have the MO's set up?" is similar to the claim often heard "most hozrim b'teshuva (newly religious) become Haredim". These claims are based on the fact that Haredim are not connected to the non-Haredi religious community. There are a LOT of Dati Leumi hozrim b'tshevua, it's just they don't stand out. They merge into the general community, and more importantly, they MARRY into the general community. We all know that Haredi hozrim b'tshevuah do not marry into the established Haredi community to the same extent as the non-Haredi religious so they are forced to remain a visible and separate group.
    Regarding the tzedaka organizations....yes, there are Dati Leumi hesed organizations, but, again, Haredim are not going to hear about them. Rabbi Steven Pruzanski (sp?) wrote about this recently saying the plethora of hesed organizations in the Haredi community are an indication of widespread distress there due to low incomes, among other reasons. Outside of the Haredi community the economic situation is much better so there is less need for them.

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  67. People often point to Yad Sarah as a charedi chessed organization. But the truth is that its founder, Lupolianski, is not really charedi. He's from Haifa, where he went to Yavne, and he served in the army.

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  68. Natan Slifkin wrote: Torah teaching is much MORE valuable to others than army musicians, journalists, cooks and economists.
    Torah learning is much LESS valuable.


    Obviously, many (non-chareidim) will disagree with this statement. Even if leshitascha, learning does not help anyone except the learner, you need to learn in order to teach. All the great teachers with whom I am familiar had to withdraw from life for a while in order to prepare for teaching. This is what Rabbi Cardozo writes about Gateshead and Yeshivos in general and it jibes with my experience and I dare say, probably with yours as well.

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  69. Recently there was an appalling report about the principal of Lustig girl's school in Ramat Gan, who told his students that Religious Zionism is nationalism and is therefore idolatry.
    was it appalling of him to support rabbi wasserman's view on religious zionism ?

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  70. Even if leshitascha, learning does not help anyone except the learner, you need to learn in order to teach.

    To be sure. But that does not mean that your learning is helping others, except in a very indirect way. Furthermore, most learners do not end up teaching, and even those who do, rarely end up teaching what they learned during yeshivah.

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  71. RT says:

    " When the rambam says that it's a chilul hashem to accept charity for the sake of learning, he is referring to charity that comes from religious jews, not from kofrim. The shulchan aruch in yd:158 says we do not concern ourselves (putting it mildly) with the life of a kofer, or someone that doesn't believe in the thirteen principles of faith. The secular army by and large fit into that category. Therefore, we certainly are not concerned about their money, or their "burden"."

    RT also says:

    "Additionally,you claim that the chredi orthodox community is self centered . . ."

    The cognitive dissonance is strong in this one.

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  72. Firstly, i think it becomes us as (religious jews) far as possible to talk respectfully here as elsewhere..
    That said RT i think you are wrong in your rabid criticism of R' NS as the Torah says clearly that it can either be Sam Hachaim or Sam Hamoves...
    Learning is clearly very valuable as a contributor to the comments here i believe R' Mike Jacobs said to me just read the final perek of Pirkei Avos..
    Well i didnt get a chance to answer you but if you read this consider how much of mishna and shas deals with Talmud Torah vis a vis this perek whilst all the rest (obviously there are exceptions that are often quoted here) discuss the actual mitzvos, keeping them and their laws.

    I was recently called Amalek by someone who evidently thought he was more "Jewish" than i was -

    And that is the saddest thing in this entire debate whe have gone from Hillel and Shamai to Korach and Moshe. I am truly worried for klall Yiroel when we are so divided - A little bit of love and acceptance goes a long way, and i would respectfully suggest that it is "on" or the responsibility of the Leaders or Gedolim to completely change their attitude or message to the masess.

    Finally if your Torah learning didnt do anything for your middos i am not sure its worth anything at all! And i am not saying i am perfect at all, but the Geivah in some sectors is well out of control.

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  73. ps the only argument that i have ever really heard that made me really question my Hashkofas was the Gedolim are all charedi educated..

    As secrets out i want to maximise myself in this short life, so de facto i want to enjoy the best torah education...

    However i recently heard that both R' Sheinberg and R' Elyoshiv learned in Mercaz Harav does anyone know if this is true?

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  74. Tom voletz, First as I commented earlier, Reb chaim Brisker disagrees. Second, That chazon ish happens to be very difficult, because the rambam holds that even a gentile who doesn't believe in the giving of the 7laws by direction of god, gets killed! So how can a jew who lives in the land of Israel, who's grandparent be jewish be considered more of a "tinok shenishba" than a gentile?! Third, if you wanna accept the opinion of the chazon ish blindly, then do the same when it comes to the draft! Don't pick and choose.

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    1. Huh?
      " how can ...be considered more of a tinok shenishba than a gentile?"

      Uh because tinok shenishba doesn't refer to gentiles it's a category that refers to Jews who were captured and raised by gentiles?

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  75. Sam, regarding kollel, check out the igros moshe that I posted.

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  76. RT - Whats your impression of the Chazon Ish's opinion of the draft because the Chazon Ish was the Halachic authority that my Rosh Yeshiva (R Goldwicht Ztsl) got approval from to set up my Alma Mata Kerem B Yavneh and Hesder!

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  77. RT its entirely possible that when the Rambam wrote as there was no logical or scientific reason not to believe in G-d and that He created the world to choose not to believe and keep the 7 commandments was so punishable - but today when most of science and education (as well as the behavior of some)makes keeping and believing a real act of faith - so that your Kal Vechomer is nonesense.

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  78. David, Chazal say that most gentiles are idol worshippers. Yet the rambam holds that a gentile must believe, that the seven commandments came from g-d, and certainly must believe in g-d's existence. So we see from the rambam, that even a gentile who is in most cases strongly influenced by their society must adhere to the laws to avoid capital punishment. All the more so a jew living in Israel. Another proof is "dor hamabul. The entire generation was held accountable.10 generations of them. Why couldn't the second or third generation of moral decay claim to their defense, "tinoks henishba!? The answer is,that when it comes to the basic 7 laws there is no excuse for "tinok shenisba".

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  79. fisrtly Rav Steinberg holds that Chilonim are Tinokim Shenishba (even if Rav Chaim doesnt.
    More to the point,i dont get your point. I was pointing out that throughout history the Torah prospective is clear - Idol worship is clearly a joke and thus if one choose it over the obvious truth of Torah then the chooser is culpable.
    To what end i do not know as i have never seen a source pointing out to an actual killing of a gentile for failure to keep the Noachide laws (but i may have forgotten if so) -
    However today this does not apply as education and science all push the view that there was a process of evolution (heard of it its not the Traditional Torah approach) and this means that the obvious necessity to accept Hashem may be less ....prevalent.
    Either way i personally think that the ability to be kind and consider them a tinok shenishba is a more "Torahdik" perspective if not necessarily a more halachically binding one - not that i am taking sides on the halachic dispute between the two Gedolim above mentioned just what follows from my understanding of Torah Haskofas....

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  80. David, In addition, don't forget the entire "dor enosh" bowed to the sun and the moon (Rambam) and therefore they were destroyed. So we see even if idolatry becomes extremely popular, you are still liable for it.

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  81. RT, you said that The secular army by and large fit into that category. Therefore, we certainly are not concerned about their money, or their "burden."

    You can understand why non-charedim would resent that, right?

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  82. RT-
    There is a gemara (I am afraid I don't recall which masechta, but it was in the Daf Yomi in the new cycle) which says explicitly that HAZAL did not consider the Romans idol worshipers presumably since they were more or less civilized compared to other nations in the area (if you consider gladiatorial games "civilized").
    Nobody today considers the average non-religous Jew a "kofer" in a halachic sense.

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  83. Rabbi Slifkin, The answer to your question is: The burden can be carried by the chilonim alone, without the help of any other orthodox jew charedi or non charedi alike. Dati liumi have a choice (at least until now) to go to yeshiva

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  84. rt said...
    Tom voletz, First as I commented earlier, Reb chaim Brisker disagrees. Second, That chazon ish happens to be very difficult, because the rambam holds that even a gentile who doesn't believe in the giving of the 7laws by direction of god, gets killed! So how can a jew who lives in the land of Israel, who's grandparent be jewish be considered more of a "tinok shenishba" than a gentile?! Third, if you wanna accept the opinion of the chazon ish blindly, then do the same when it comes to the draft! Don't pick and choose.


    All your points are ridiculous.

    1. How do you know that R' Chaim Brisker disagrees with the Chazon Ish? Even if it's true that R' Chaim said that nebach an apikores is also an apikores, that could mean he's an apikores for shechitah, berachos, etc. etc. That has nothing to do with the Chazon Ish's psak that we are to treat kofrim and reshaim with love.

    2. You have a kushya on the the Chazon Ish. And therefore ...? You don't accept the p'sak?!

    3. It's not just the Chazon Ish. It's also the Chafetz Chaim quoting the Maharam MiLublin, as well as just above every major poseik (Chareidi and Dati) of the last few generations. You are the one who is picking and choosing. Because of an alleged statement by R' Chaim Brisker, you prefer to ignore the mainstream halachah.

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  85. Tom, Number one, the quote is a very famous quote from reb Chaim. The chazon ish is a chidush. So by a din "d'orayso" we are stringent. When it comes to a dirabonon, we are lenient. The issue at hand-sharing the burden or "give and take", is at best a hilchos derech eretz, which the poskim treat even more leniently than a dirabonon. So regarding our discussion you can surely rely on Reb chaim. More importantly, (in some aspects) as I stated before, there are 2 paths of choice we can take 1.charedi Judaism 2. rational Judaism. If we choose 1, then in that case we adhere to everything that mainstream gidolim have to say which include the chazon ish, brisker rav shach, stiepler even rav kook, tzizt eliezer etc....., and this is regardless of whether or not chilonim are considered kofrim. If however,you are coming from the point of view of rational Judaism, what matters is what the rishonim say(FOR SOME REASON),not the achronim, as the theme of this forum indicates.

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  86. if he writes that than i understand R'BM much better.

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  87. RT you talk a lot of hot air show me an Achron who writes without sourcing his opinion in the Rishonim and i think you will have found reform.

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  88. RT, I give up. You are a prime example of someone who will twist anything to support your agenda. No doubt you could think of 150 ways to be metaher a sheretz.

    The Chazon Ish's psak is the mainstream psak. Period. I don't know of any major posek (Chareidi or Dati) who disagrees with it. So you don't have to be Chareidi to follow it. The Chazon Ish uses it for a d' Oraisa - being mechalel shabbos to save the children of a kofer.
    I have already made these points. But you refuse to listen.

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  89. RT:

    rt said...
    Rabbi Slifkin, The answer to your question is: The burden can be carried by the chilonim alone, without the help of any other orthodox jew charedi or non charedi alike. Dati liumi have a choice (at least until now) to go to yeshiva


    If that is your attitude, I'm not sure how you can expect to turn to those same people and say "fund us!" At least not successfully.

    After all, I can't think of a single instance where "I don't care about any of your problems or burdens, but you must solve all of mine" was a winning argument.

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  90. Tom, mainstream- means nothing to rational Judaism. You can quote the entire last past 500 years of sages to Rabbi Slifkin, and it'll fall on deaf ears. The main thing is shitas harambam, and that I explained.

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  91. Student V: The rational behind the concept of tinok shenishba is, that since this individual had no Jewish upbringing and was raised primarily by non jews, therefore with regards to taking responsibilities for your actions, he has the status of a non Jew. So for example, if he is doesn't wear tefilin, he will not get punished. Yet, if this "tinok" goes ahead and steals, rapes, or murders etc,... will he be held accountable? Or do we say No, since he was influenced by non Jews- he didn'n know better. Certainly, the answer is, Yes! He will be held accountable. Why is that? Well, if a true gentile, born and bred is responsible for theft, it follows to reason that a Jew that was merely influenced to act like gentile is expected to behave with at least the moral equivalence of one. So basically, the "heter" of "tinok shenishaba" only allows us to view his status as a regular gentile (at best). Getting back to our discussion, the Rambam holds that a gentile who doesn't believe that the 7 Noahaide laws came from god through Moses, cannot fundamentally be considered as an "observant gentile". It goes into the category of kfira. So by these standards, certainly a Jew cannot get away with saying that he was raised by secular parents, and thus not have the status of a kofer.

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  92. What is all this back and forth with RT? I have only three words for him - menuval bereshut Hatorah. To say that we should have no concern for the lives of secular Israelis? We should have no concern for the lives of the Israeli soldiers who protect Chareidim, DL, and chiloni? Where is the basic value of hakarat hatov? Where is the ahavat yisrael? Why are we enagaging in this pilpul discussion with something so vile as RT? His words are muktzah machmat meeus and done. Arguement with him is not worth the requisite electrons.

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