Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Terror Of Freedom Of Speech

(Skip ahead six paragraphs to get to a response to Rabbi Beckerman about yeshivah students and army.)

It's almost impossible to overstate the effect that the Internet has had on the parameters of discourse in the frum community. This first became apparent to many people during the controversy over my books, when myself, Rabbi Gil Student and several others were able to publicly present a defense of the rationalist approach to Torah and science, and many people were able to voice their distress and fury with the ban. This put the other side in a panic. They were used to controlling the public discourse, via the Yated, the Jewish Observer, and so on, which never allowed criticism to appear. They were not used to people being able to talk back and get their side of things across to the public. They can't figure out how to operate in a world where everyone can make their views available to a public, which enables people to (hopefully) make intelligent choices as to which side is presenting correct conclusions.

A similar phenomenon, albeit on a smaller scale, is playing out with Cross-Currents, the website that presents charedi apologetics. A few weeks ago, they published an article by Rabbi Yair Hoffman that sought to justify why charedim don't serve in the army. They would not permit me to respond properly in the comments, so I simply posted my response on this blog, which was read by over four thousand people. As a result, Rabbi Hoffman dedicated an entire article on Cross-Currents to responding to me. Again, I responded on my blog, and this time Rabbi Yaakov Menken, who runs Cross-Currents, wrote an article in response. He refused to post crucial comments of mine, and so I simply wrote another response here, in which I also pointed out the bizarreness of Rabbi Menken refusing some very direct critiques with the claim that they were "not germane."

At this point, it was beginning to look ridiculous that Cross-Currents was refusing to post so many critical comments. Jonathan Rosenblum published an article which blamed secular Zionists for Hitler's final solution, and comments pointing out the fallacy of this accusation were summarily rejected. As one person remarked to me, comments with no content other than a high-five to the Cross-Currents authors seemed to get through very nicely, but those of high-content, but critical of the column authors, are rejected. So Rabbi Menken wrote an entire post about "The Benefits of Ham-Handed Moderation," which basically said that people should trust them that they are letting through suitable critical comments. Of course, many people perceived this as trusting the foxes to guard the hen-house. David Ohsie promptly published a post here demonstrating the fallacy of Rosenblum's claim about Hitler, and it was widely applauded.

Meanwhile, I was still posting material explaining why charedim should share the burden of military service, and my readership had more than doubled. So Cross-Currents gave it another go, with an apologetic by Rabbi Doron Beckerman. Again, it was flooded with critical comments, virtually none of which were let through for several days, until I posted them all on my blog, and pointed out how Cross-Currents was once again refusing to allow cross-currents (ba-da-dum!). Soon after that, the critical comments all suddenly appeared on Rabbi Beckerman's post - with the exception of mine!

And now, Cross-Currents has published a rejoinder by Rabbi Beckerman to my comments that were never able to appear on Cross-Currents in the first place! This is the third Cross-Currents article in the last few weeks specifically aimed at rebutting me, by the third such person to do so! I'm not even bothering to submit comments there any more - I suspect that my blog has many more readers than Cross-Currents anyway. The discussion is better off taking place here, where the forum is more open.

Still, all these polemics are a considerable drain on my time and energy. I'm grateful to David Ohsie for his assistance, and I would certainly appreciate it if other people could step up to the plate and write full-length responses. It seems strange that the public polemicist for Religious Zionist ideology should be me, seeing as I've been a Religious Zionist for less than ten years. Meanwhile, here goes with a response to Rabbi Beckerman.

Response to Rabbi Beckerman regarding Yeshivah Students and the IDF

Rabbi Beckerman claimed in his original article that "there was always a portion of Klal Yisrael that was dedicated to full-time Torah study and that did not serve in the army." Naturally, I assumed that he was making the common mistake about the Tribe of Levi, but he says that he was instead referring to the talmidei chachamim that the Gemara says should not be drafted. However, I have already quoted Rav Hershel Schachter, who points out that these Gemaras specifically mention talmidei chachamim, and does not refer to stam yeshivah students. Furthermore, while it is indeed true that Torah scholars have always existed in Klal Yisrael, never was there a clerical class with the belief that the overwhelming majority of their children, simply by virtue of having not explicitly renounced membership of that class, were exempt from all other obligations.

Rabbi Beckerman then engages in an astonishing piece of circular reasoning:
It is clear that the essential basis of the exemption granted to the Levites was not that they taught Torah, for if this were the case, the very next halachah in Rambam would have stated “Not only the Tribe of Levi, but any Torah teacher…” It does not. The common denominator between Levi and the personage in the following halachah is their spiritual idealism, casting off worldly pursuits and engaging in service of Hashem. This is the hallmark of the Toraso Umnuso members of the nation...

Yet this only makes sense if one is assuming that Rambam is comparing those dedicated to spiritual pursuits with Levites vis-a-vis a military exemption. But, as Radvaz has already pointed out, Rambam is not making a full comparison of such people with the Levites - Radvaz notes that while the Levites were supported by the rest of Klal Yisrael, Rambam held that Torah scholars should not be supported by the rest of Klal Yisrael. Likewise, there is no exemption for Torah scholars from the army, and the Tribe of Levi themselves are exempt for the reason that Rambam makes clear - because they are involved in teaching the rest of the nation.

We then switch to a different Gemara, which states that "Rabbis do not need protection." I pointed out that the Ramoh restricts this to Rabbis of certain caliber. Rabbi Beckerman, who pointed to Rav Moshe Feinstein's application of this to yeshivah students, claims that it is "out of bounds" to reject Rav Moshe's reading of the sources in favor of the simple reading of the Ramoh. Yet there is a wonderful sefer in which the little-known author argues that Rav Moshe's interpretation of the Shulchan Aruch and classic poskim in many areas of hilchos eruvin is utterly untenable - and it is adorned with the haskamos of leading poskim. Furthermore, I'm not even claiming that Rav Moshe is arguing with the Ramoh - David Ohsie has convincingly argued that Rav Moshe is not presenting a blanket license for avoiding the army.

Rabbi Beckerman claims that my straightforward reading of Ramoh - that the Gemara's exemption applies only to a scholar of caliber - is a misreading, based on the Ramoh's source in the Terumos HaDeshen. But the Terumas HaDeshen is describing self-selecting elite students who trudge from city to city (and are apparently thereby exempt from taxes) while simultaneously being fluent in most of the Talmud and Geonim. It is astonishing that Rabbi Beckerman confuses this with the entire community of charedi 18-year-olds in yeshivah. The Terumas HaDeshen is much closer to Yesh Atid's model of 1800 select students that would receive an exemption. Likewise, R. Palaggi's essay is irrelevant; the whole point is that he is discussing someone who is displaying a unique commitment to learning, not simply someone who does what everyone else does. If that was the case, who should pay the taxes?

Furthermore, all this discussion regarding the Gemara's statement that "Rabbis do not need protection" and who it applies to is irrelevant. This Gemara, and the sources cited by R. Palaggi, are referring specifically to exemptions from certain taxes, not to fighting in a milchemes mitzvah.

Next comes a primary objection to the charedi claim that yeshivah students are doing their defense via Torah study - the fact that charedi yeshivos fled the South during Cast Lead. Yet it's not as though the entire population of the South fled; most people stayed and continued to lead their lives. The hesder yeshivot stayed, and were able to learn, as well as being mechazek the communities. Rabbi Beckerman claims that even when they fled, their Torah would protect the place from which they fled. I don't know why he is so sure of this; most of the traditional sources about Torah scholars providing a protective merit limit it specifically to the place where the Torah scholar actually is. Indeed, when one of the yeshivos temporarily relocated to Bet Shemesh, they were welcomed by a Rav who thanked them for bringing an "Iron Dome" to Bet Shemesh. Rabbi Beckerman claims that "Hashem surely knows that their intent is pure." Actually, I think Hashem knows that their intent was rather selfish. Fleeing the South is a blow to the morale of people who did not have the ability to leave. Rambam (Hilchos Melachim 7:15) harshly condemns soldiers that demonstrate anxiety and weaken the morale of others. Again, contrast the actions of the Hesder students, who stayed to learn and to provide moral support for the residents, even at personal risk. Now there's a sign of pure intent.

Rabbi Beckerman then defends his claim that "Charedi learning centers say Tehillim and daven in times of crisis specifically for IDF soldiers" by pointing to a kollel that said Tehillim for Gilad Shalit. First of all, there were far less charedim saying Tehillim for Gilad Schalit than there were who said Tehillim for the yeshivah students imprisoned in Japan. Second, Gilad Schalit was an extreme case. What about when the IDF launched its operation in Jenin? What about the countless acts of mesirus nefesh that soldiers do all the time?

I would like to conclude with three general observations on this topic.

First: All this talk about "Torah protecting" is a smokescreen and has nothing to do with why Charedim don't serve in the army. The reason is that they want to live their life in a certain way, the IDF would interfere with that, and they feel no obligation to share in the burden of the rest of the nation, because they don't feel themselves to be part of the rest of the nation.

Second: Even if you could come up with a halachic justification for charedim being allowed to not serve, this would not change the fact that it is immensely unfair to expect only non-charedim to bear the difficult burden of military service along with its risks. As Moshe Rabbeinu said, "Shall your brothers go to war while you remain here?" It doesn't appear that he would have been satisfied with a reply that they would sit and learn.

Third: 32% of first graders in Israel are in charedi schools and are thus planning not to serve in the IDF. That would mean that in 12 years, a full third of the country would not be serving in the army (or participating in the professional workforce), and according to current rates of expansion, this proportion would increase. What on earth do charedi apologists propose? Should the army maintain a viable size by non-charedim increasing the number of years that they serve in the army? How many years extra do they have to serve in order to make up for all the charedim who don't serve? Five? Ten? Twenty? And what happens when even that is not sufficient? At what point do charedi apologists acknowledge that it is not only utterly unfair, but also utterly unsafe, to claim that yeshivah students should not serve in the army and that their "Torah protects"? And at this point, will they consider themselves apikorsim for going against the Gemaras that speak of the sin of drafting Torah scholars?

69 comments:

  1. Moshe Dick writes:
    Burning the midnight oil here in the US sometimes has its benefits: I have the privilege to read Rabbi Slifkin's postings as soon as they they come off, hot from the press (or the computer). Again,yasher koach for speaking truth to power and may your website grow and gather more readers all the time !
    I will leave my own comments for another time but can you tell us hwo one actually sends you an esaay on one of these subjects or other subjects of great current interest? (as you write)
    Is there a special email address or website entry? I woudl like ot know.

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  2. Just my usual email address, zoorabbi@zootorah.com

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  3. You wrote, "It seems strange that the public polemicist for Religious Zionist ideology should be me, seeing as I've been a Religious Zionist for less than ten years." As you note, it does take a great amount of time and energy to write these responses. Moreover, I believe that much of the RZ community - especially the Israeli community - has stopped responding, specifically for the reasons that you cite later in your piece. The Chareidim don't see themselves as part of larger Israeli society. They speak to themselves, so why bother responding. On the other hand, the English-speaking Chareidi community wants to have it both ways. They want to claim total fealty to Israeli gedolim, while they naturally internally recoil at the selfishness and seeming lack of logic which dictates current Chareidi behavior and attitude. So they write themselves into circles - something you're intimately familiar with.
    This, of course, makes you the perfect representative of RZ ideology to a Chareidi and English speaking community.

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  4. I agree with you that the reason charedim has nothing to do with "Torah protects." They simply want to do what they want to do and couldn't care less about anybody else.

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  5. There's nothing like free enterprise, especially with respect to ideas. This debate proves it. Of course, as you and others have noted, it only works with people that are really interested in hearing and considering other ideas. I'm not sure that's a really large percentage of people, and I do not only mean in the Charedi community.

    As to you becomming a "public polemicist for Religious Zionist ideology," I really hope that instead, you will continue to be a public polemicist for rationalism, common sense, and straight thinking, rather than for Religious Zionist or any other ideology. While the Religious Zionist world is much more open to diverse viewpoints than the Charedi world, and particularly the Israeli Charedi world, I believe that it has its own intellectual confinements and orthodoxies (with a small "o"), just like any other ideology-based community.

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  6. I think your first point answers your third: Deep down, in places they won't admit (or, at least, the Anglos among them won't admit), charedim feel this whole "Zionism" thing was a big mistake, and we'd all be better off under the Ottomans. So why should they care if there aren't enough soldiers?

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  7. Baruch Gitlin-
    While in principle I agree with your assertion that institutionalized "Religious Zionism" has its own ideology and rules and certain conformist tendencies like all other ideological group, and you are correct that, in general, they are much more open to diverse opinions, it must be kept in mind that it is very difficult for the average person to try to remain "above it all". One has to make decisions about what community and synagogue one wishes to associate with, and more importantly, one has to pick a school to have one's children educated in. Thus, they will automatically be exposed to a certain way of thinking that may not accord 100% with the thinking of the parents.
    A few decades ago, it was common for the DL yeshiva high schools to have Haredi teachers who often encouraged the students to abandon their parents DL philosophy and go to study in Haredi yeshivot. I know another case where the father was a DL talmid hacham who decided to send his sons to Haredi yeshivot ketanon (High school age) because he believed at the time that "that is where the Torah is located" and he said he would teach his sons Zionism at home. Unfortunately he failed and they are now anti-Zionist Haredim. Thus, most people have to make a decision with which group to associate. I know people who sent their kids through the Dati Leumi-Torani (Noam-Tzvia-Yeshiva Benei Akiva) system and the parents are pretty pleased with the result. Almost all the kids remained reliigous on a "Torani" level and they are generally more open-minded than the average.
    Thus, I believe that Raf Slifkin made the right move in identifying with the DL world. It seems to be the best platform for turning out Benei-Adam (Mensches).

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  8. Nahum-
    I am not sure that in a practical day-to-day way the Haredim really think we would all be better off without a state no matter what they might say. After all, even Neturei Karta has never gone to the Arabs who controlled parts of Eretz Israel (King Hussein before 1967 and the Palestinian Authority today) and said they would welcome living under Arab rule as Jews living in the Holy Land, loyal to their Arab rulers, without the yoke of being under Zionist oppression. One of NK's leaders was appointed as Arafat's "advisors for Jewish affairs" (how much do NK people really know about most Jews anyway?-he was in reality what Philip Roth called a "display Jew") and even received a salary for this, yet he didn't live in Ramallah, he lived in Zionist-occupied Jerusalem.

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  9. I understand why you continue to debate the issues on halachic terms, but I think it's largely useless. As demonstrated clearly on Cross-Currents and elsewhere, the discussions regarding Chareidim in Israel can't be discussed using Beis Midrash logic. They will always have an answer for any argument you can make.

    I've always felt that whenever a posek (or anyone else for that matter) makes a decision that involves several logical steps, then before announcing his decision, he needs to take a step back and ask himself whether the result is not so blatantly unreasonable or absurd that he needs to re-examine the decision and the process used in arriving at it.

    For example, many of us are familiar with the 3-step algebraic proof that 1=2. Only after examining the absurd result do we look closer at the equations and realize that one of the steps including division by a variable which was equal to zero.

    This needs to be applied to any halachic decision that has implications outside the Beis Midrash. In classic Shutim, it is. There are even examples of it in the Gemara. But the current debate about serving in the army and work-force, at least from the Charedid side, is completely absent of it.

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  10. I would like to defend Cross-Currents for not publishing all comments.
    Since all Charedi Gedoley Torah are against the draft for yeshiva students, but one zoologist, who has questioned many times in his blog why Charedi rabbis have monoply over the jewish people in all areas (this zoologist has even questioned whether R' Moshe Fienstien was more knowledgeable than him in halacha) and he is now speaking out in favour of the draft, to your fellow charedi it has strong undertones of Korach all over again.
    Finally while I admire the bravery of the soldiers for putting their lives on the front line, one perhaps can ask the following question:
    According to Israeli Government statistics 30,000 Jews have been killed in Israel since 1948 (and over 100,000 injured). All that with an army.
    How many Jews have been killed in the Diaspora where there is no army since 1948?
    Furthermore, leaving the holocaust aside, in our 2 millennia of galus without an army, is 30,000 dead, 100,000 maimed the average amount we endured for a 50 year period? Or is it above average....?

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  11. Avi, it's not as though R. Slifkin is the only person to believe that yeshivah students should, by and large, serve in the army. This position is held by rabbanim throughout Israel and the US. Rav Schachter described the charedi draft-dodge as scandalous.

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  12. my comment still not let through in cross-currents...

    Q: Why don’t Charedim go to the army?
    A: Do you mean Charedim, or those studying full-time in Yeshiva or Kollel?
    Q: The community as a whole. I don't care about the various back-and-forth calculations as much as a sub-section of jews separating themselves from the shared ol of the nation.

    A: Because there was always a portion of Klal Yisrael that was dedicated to full-time Torah study and that did not serve in the army.

    Q: Is there hashkafic basis for this kind of separation? I understand the importance of people learning full time, but A. it is possible to learn full time after having done some sort of army service B. the main issue at hand is that of cutting yourself off from the rest of the nation. for example, staying and learning in bombarded areas to offer support (like the sderot hesder yeshiva) vs getting up and leaving, abandoning the rest of your people.

    instead: callousness, self-absorption are projected.

    A: Yes. While it is a matter of debate among the Poskim, the preponderance of Poskim maintain that those studying Torah are exempt. Sources include: (etc)

    Q: It seems like these teshuvos primarily address whether one is allowed to take advantage of an exemption if said exemption is offered-- not that one should break the law to not be drafted if the legal exemption is taking away.

    Q: Do Charedim believe that there is no need for an army?

    A: No. They believe that Torah study is a crucial component in the overall defense structure of the country.

    Q. This answer is a dodge of the actual question. The question is phrased vaguely, but I will break it down into to parts:
    1. 30% of first grade children are charedi. iy"H the proportion will grow. There seems to be a lack of long-range thinking that belies a claim that Charedim believe there is a need for the army.
    2. given a need for an army, and a need for Torah study,
    -why do Charedim get to decide who does which? given that one involves a risk of life and tremendous emotional strain and one doesn't.
    -why do Charedim get to decide how much? the government supports Torah study, just not Torah study on the level of a community-wide exemption.
    -If it is a crucial component, shouldn't there are least be an accountability system in place?
    -Also, what are the parameters of the type of torah study that is crucial to the defense structure? this answer seems to suggest that any and all Torah study is created equal, but surely true Torah study is that which leads to refinement of middos? What is the value of the sort of Torah study that leads to posters advertising competitions for who can make the most hateful cartoon about "chardakim" (the example cartoon portrayed was of a fanged, horned, kippa'd soldier chasing a crying charedi child)?

    Q: Why do those studying Torah run away when missiles fall?

    A: Let’s get some clarity here. There are two issues which are often conflated: (blablabla. cut for length limit.)

    Q: This answer astounds me. The blindness to the intent of the question is impressive.

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  13. In answer to one of your questions

    http://lifeinisrael.blogspot.com/2014/04/sharing-burden-will-cause-upheaval-in.html

    he says when the haredim will be the majority in 20 years they'll tell the secular what to do, he says when there wont be enough secular to support them, then America will as it does today...


    I agree with r' lion, at this point the debate, while worth restating, is one where the positions are well cast and not subject to logical counters. hopefully there are still some undecided to be won.

    KT

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  14. @Avi:
    "Since all Charedi Gedoley Torah are against the draft for yeshiva students, but one zoologist" - and hundreds of Rabbis who are Zionist and are therefore ignored by Charedim
    "...this zoologist has even questioned whether R' Moshe Fienstien was more knowledgeable than him in halacha" - I never read that, but since European Charedim have turned their Gedolim into, lehavdil, Popes, it is forbidden to suspect they are fallible
    "...it has strong undertones of Korach all over again." - because if you don't compare your bar-plugta to Korach, Amalek or the Nazis (R Metzger of "Lustig"), the argument isn't strong enough
    30,000 Jews have been killed in Israel since 1948 (and over 100,000 injured). All that with an army.
    "How many Jews have been killed in the Diaspora where there is no army since 1948?" - How many times have people's houses burned down during the years they have been paying house insurance? So even without the insurance our houses are protected!
    "leaving the holocaust aside" and the crusades, the inquisition, Chmelnitzki, the pogroms, because for some reason they don't count as reasons to control our own security...

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  15. Avi,the idea of comparing numbers and dates is ridiculous.

    But, just to humour you, please research a cossack named Khmenytsky who managed to killed between 100,000 to (possibly inflated) 500,000 jews over about 9 years.

    or the pogrom in spain on december 30th 1066 when the arabs murdered 5000 jews. Can we extrapolate, 5000 a day*50 years? I think, think it is over 30,000.

    Have you never heard about pogroms? In both christain and islamic countries?

    But it was still probably much better to live in those times without a jewish army, for example, only a few thousand jews were actually burned alive during the inquisition; nothing compared to the 30,000 killed because of zionism.

    And yes, we accept your premise to exclude the holocaust from our calculations. Because who cares about that.

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  16. I think your blog needs to be available in Hebrew and Yiddish as well as English.

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  17. Hi Y. Ben-David:

    I agree with you that most people need to identify with one group or another, and I don't think there's anything wrong with this.

    What I meant to say is that intellectually, a person should try to avoid getting swept up into group-think. Associating with a group is fine - and in the religious Israeli world, probably unavoidable - but it doesn't, or shouldn't, require a person to hold opinions just because all of his friends hold those opinions, without being willing to challenge those opinions or at least open his mind to other points of view.

    (On the other hand, you can go too far with this and turn into an annoying, contrarian, kvetch. At that point, its time to turn the conversation to football, or join another group and bug them instead.)

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  18. Dovid, of course you are right that there were some periods in our galus that more than 30,000 were killed in a period of 50 years.
    My point was the facts on the ground do not show that Israel with an army is so much safer than Israel without an army....
    And dare I say it because a Jewish army the way the Torah describes it sent home those that spoke with with teffilin on, where as in our army the female soldiers are nicknamed "materesses"
    And there is major discussion in acharonim if Milchemet Mitzva was only patur those like chasanim and buying new house but those with aveiros would not even go to Milchemet mitzvah
    see mishne lmelech and lechem mishna on that rambam that speaks about above

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  19. The arguments for chareidim joining the army certainly appeal to common-sense much more than the arguments against. Ideas such as equal sharing and protecting lives are apprehended far more easily than those of strengthening Torah and preserving the fidelity of our several-millennia-long national mission. Which is why the latter will never stand a chance on a shoot-from-the-hip forum like the blogosphere.

    However, for a Torah Jew, i.e. a Jew whose values derive from the Torah (whether he is chareidi or mizrachi, learning full-time or working and koveiah ittim),the dictates of common sense should not be the bottom line. The Torah's perspective on many issues (most of which are not controversial within Orthodox Judaism), though ultimately comprehensible, often bucks common sense.

    It is for this reason that b'nei torah of all stripes have always turned to the outstanding talmidei chachamim of their generation to determine what the Torah's perspective is vis-vis the more complex questions.

    I ask those who ridicule the chareidi stance to consider: What was the stance of MOST great poskim in our generation regarding the draft of yeshiva students? With which stream of Orthodoxy did Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav S.Z. Auerbach, and Rav Elyahshiv associate? And whose piskei halacha do you (and your rabbi) rely upon in the areas of Shabbos, taharas hamishpacha, end-of-life issues, etc.?

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  20. Y. Ben-David: Of course, in practical terms, charedim know full well what a blessing Israel is. They might even admit it if you forced them to sit still for a moment and talk it out. But on a philosophical level- again, perhaps admitted to themselves, perhaps not- they're not *happy* that's the case. And, of course, they have answers (e.g., they'd be just as well off in any western country, or even under the Turks). It doesn't have to make sense, of course.

    In response to Avi: First, the numbers begin in 1860, and total- of Jews killed my Arab violence- is a few thousand less than 30,000. Regardless, I have to love how he calmly says "since 1948" and "leaving the Holocaust aside". Really? Really?!? Maybe you can leave it aside, but Auschwitz' capacity was 30,000 Jews a *day*. (Theoretically- it practically took them about five days to kill that many.) Even if no Jew had been killed in the previous 2,000 years (and, of course, many thousands had), that sort of cancels it all out, doesn't it?

    And, of course, having a Jewish state is much more than preventing deaths. A religious Jew should know that.

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  21. Don't look at yourself as being a rz defender - just a defender of decency and derekh eretz

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  22. In response to Avi:

    Lets say, for purposes of argument, that Zionism was a big mistake, and we'd have been better off not to have our own state. Remember,for purposes of argument!!!

    The fact still remains that the state of Israel exists, it is surrounded by enemies, and it needs an army. You can't eliminate the need for self-defense by wishing away Zionism or the state of Israel. You can say we have a tiger by the tail - you can win all your arguments against Hertz, Ben-Gurion, Zionism, Bar Rafaeli, and whatever, but it's not going to make that tiger any less dangerous.

    Does saying "I told you so" justify an exemption from the army? I really don't see that. The haredim live here, they benefit from the army whether they want to admit it or not, and there is no reason to continue allowing them the blanket exemption from army service that they demand.

    Or does everyone get to claim an exemption by arguing that they didn't support some policy that they hold responsible for a war? Can leftists claim exemption because if we would only make peace, there'd be no need for an army? Can rightists claim an exemption because if we would only crack down on the Arabs and show them who's boss, they would give up, and there would be no need for an army?

    If this is the "Jewish" approach to civics, perhaps that's the best reason to argue that the Jews aren't ready for their own state!

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  23. An article I saw in a haredi newspaper said that the "Chardal" (=Charedi dati leumi) is some sort of strange "kilayim". I have heard this sentiment expressed more than once--does anyone here have any idea why being ultraorthodox in halachah, is somehow irreconcilable with being also a religious Zionist?

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  24. The arguments for chareidim joining the army certainly appeal to common-sense much more than the arguments against. Ideas such as equal sharing and protecting lives are apprehended far more easily than those of strengthening Torah and preserving the fidelity of our several-millennia-long national mission.

    Charedi apologists often like to use such impressive-sounding terminology. But when you start to think about it, what does mass kollel have to do with preserving the fidelity of our several-millennia-long national mission? It's not as though Jews have been doing mass kollel for several millenia (or even for several centuries).

    What was the stance of MOST great poskim in our generation regarding the draft of yeshiva students?

    By that argument, you'd have us all believing on spontaneous generation and rejecting a belief that there was an age of dinosaurs.

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  25. "The reason is that they want to live their life in a certain way, the IDF would interfere with that, and they feel no obligation to share in the burden of the rest of the nation, because they don't feel themselves to be part of the rest of the nation. "

    sadly this can be said about charediem in all countries. This may the reason we sadly see many financial, tax, voter issues, zoning scandals here in the usa

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  26. A scientific education teaches me about spontaneous generation and dinosaurs,but nothing about the Halacha regarding military service.
    Most gedolay hador were qualified to pasken about military service even if they were ignorant in palaeontology.

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  27. Avi, You think that israel without an army is safer than israel with an army? I have no idea how to react to such an absurd statement. Do you not study any history?
    Just for more recent events I would recommend you reading about the 1920 jerusalem and the 1929 hevron pogroms where jews were murdered, raped, mutilated, robbed and driven out.
    This is not something that suddenly happened for the first time because of zionism; jews have suffered through all of the above and more, throughout the christain and islamic world, including discriminations, forced conversions because there was never any physical force to defend them.
    If you are referring to facts on the ground today then you must be joking if you think the army is not needed in israel.

    The army sent home those who spoke with tefillin on? What are you talking about? Which army? Which time period? Nach is full of stories of warring and irreligious kings, rebellions, murder... you can't honestly believe that the jewish armies were full of holy people with long beards! In fact, in those times tefillin had nothing to do with prayer and people wore them all day(if at all); are you implying that soldiers were sworn to silence?

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  28. A scientific education teaches me about spontaneous generation and dinosaurs, but nothing about the Halacha regarding military service.
    Most gedolay hador were qualified to pasken about military service even if they were ignorant in palaeontology.


    They also considered themselves qualified to pasken that there is spontaneous generation and there were no dinosaurs.

    My point is that there are areas of halachah which relate to overall worldview and values. If religious Zionist rabbonim were more numerous than charedi rabbonim, would charedim decide to follow them? Of course not, and there would be no reason for them to.

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  29. Avi, et al

    Arguments that Charedim do not need to serve in the army are pure and simple megale panim batorah.

    As both I and R'Slifkin have been ordained and learned in Charedi society..

    Now its true that whist me must be respectful of the Torah of those greater than ourelves it does not mean we accept their non halachic views or that we are pre-emted from following an earlier and therefore greater view which disagrees with them.
    PERIOD.

    This does not make us Korach or Amalek but makes us G-d fearing people who seriously question where this "NEW" religion claiming to be the true face of Torah came from.

    It is clear to anyone with an iota of intelligence (hence my grandmothers words on her death bed despite coming from outstanding rabbinic heritage) you don't know how lucky we are to have a state.

    There was never a period in Jewish history when there was such a time of peace and queit for yidden,..

    All since the State was created, and for those of you who are unsure I can assure you that the rising anti-Semitism everywhere is in no small way the result of two things our own lack of achdus hence my fear as to who is the AMalek in the room and our perceived weakness as a people...
    unless of course you don't believe in the Tenach or specifically Megilat Ester which we just read so perhaps your tiny brain can still recall - many became jewish as they were scared of us...

    Bnei Banav shel Haman Lomdim Torah Bbnei Berak - Hamevin Yovin.

    Sitting and learning with no intention to keep and no hashpa on middos is a serious problem.
    I see the boys around me day in and day out and many should not be learning at all. poshut azoy!
    (and in reality many are not, coming to seder later if at all..they are wheeling dealing to an extent that Soros would be proud another anti Zionist like much of the Chredi world)

    Finally those that do learn are great and respect to them, but there is no reason not to learn and also do the army - whatsoever.

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  30. Here's a nice piece on the subject by Rav Eisenman from Passaic http://ahavasisrael.org/torah/the_short_vort/3890/

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  31. R' David,
    You say "Now its true that whist me must be respectful of the Torah of those greater than ourelves it does not mean we accept their non halachic views or that we are pre-emted from following an earlier and therefore greater view which disagrees with them.
    PERIOD."

    They say ""its true that me must be respectful of the Torah of those greater than ourelves it means we accept their non halachic views and that we are pre-emted from following an earlier and therefore greater view which disagrees with them.
    PERIOD."


    What can one say after that except the diplomatic "we had a frank discussion of the issues"
    KT
    Joel Rich

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  32. Avi, being well-versed in charedi tropes and myths, drags out the disgusting term "mattresses." For people with such supposedly holy minds, they sure are obssesed with one thing.

    (Shai Meyerson, in using the long-outdated term "Mizrachi," shows himself captive to the same tropes.)

    "And dare I say it because a Jewish army the way the Torah describes it sent home those that spoke with with teffilin on,"

    Where in the Torah does it say that? It mentions marriage, house, vineyard, scared. Gideon did some things about avoda zara. (That's Navi, not Torah, by the way.) The Torah says nothing about having to be a tzadik. A tzadik wouldn't have to be told about yifat toar. (To spell it out: That involves regulations regarding raping a non-Jewish woman on the battlefield.)

    "And there is major discussion in acharonim if Milchemet Mitzva was only patur those like chasanim and buying new house but those with aveiros would not even go to Milchemet mitzvah
    see mishne lmelech and lechem mishna on that rambam that speaks about above"

    You can discuss all you want. Halacha l'maaseh, there are no such piturim. In fact, I think you've got things a bit backwards: *Even* a chatan (and kallah!) are obligated in milchemet mitzvah.

    If I can be super-rationalist here, every single work of Chazal, Rishonim, and Acharonim (until 1948) were written at a time when a Jewish army was completely hypothetical. Do with that what you want.

    "What was the stance of MOST great poskim in our generation regarding the draft of yeshiva students?"

    Define "most great poskim." Maybe the great poskim are not the one you think they are.

    "With which stream of Orthodoxy did Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav S.Z. Auerbach, and Rav Elyahshiv associate?"

    Why would I ask a non-Zionist posek for p'sak about the Zionist state? (Indeed, R' Moshe once said this in response to the question of saying Hallel on Yom Haatzmaut: Basically, he wouldn't do it, but if you're a Zionist, of course you should. Wild, huh?)

    "And whose piskei halacha do you (and your rabbi) rely upon in the areas of Shabbos, taharas hamishpacha, end-of-life issues, etc.?"

    Mostly Zionist poskim, who, believe it or not, have lots to say about these issues. Especially the last one.

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  33. r' Baruch,
    My truncated response to R' Eisenman-

    Sure

    In order to preserve the impression that we all have free will, notwithstanding all the sources you quoted, we have to pretend that we, and they, have free will even though we know that everything is preordained and that this (ours and theirs) hishtadlut is just going through the motions.

    Or

    Contrary to popular belief there are orthodox sources (e.g. Rambam) who don't believe that hashgacha pratit extends to the degree you indicate (there are other sources in the gemara that your teachers may have not mentioned) and thus we have to bderech hateva act this way to change the result. BTW those people were really not angry and misbehaved, they just pretend to be to make an impression much like the Rambam suggests a parent only feign anger at a child to get a result.


    Or
    Actually we engage in a bit of hyperbole about a lot of philosophical stuff including the singular value of learning and self-improvement and also are not in full control of what people who allegedly follow our lead will do. Thus there's the practical impact of us saying just to sit and learn when we know many won't and can't and it will be obvious that we are not in the total control our system preaches.


    KT

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  34. Rabbi Slifkin,surely competence to pasken on a given subjects depends on the posek's knowledge of that subject, based on the information that was known from Torah and secular sources.
    Before it was universally accepted that there is no such thing as spontaneous generation the poskim had to rely on Talmud and other traditional texts,and I can't see that this is an unreasonable contention.

    Please tell me what are the areas of Halacha that relate to worldview and values ?
    Of course science has a bearing on Halacha,but values, are there any real values besides the values we were given at Har Sinai ?

    Had the Zionist gedolim all been immense giants of the stature of Rav Kook זצ״ל and had they outnumbered the other gedolim , Chareidism would have been a Zionist movement I guess.

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  35. Before it was universally accepted that there is no such thing as spontaneous generation the poskim had to rely on Talmud and other traditional texts, and I can't see that this is an unreasonable contention.

    Sure. But even today the charedi Gedolim insist that there is such a thing as spontaneous generation!

    Please tell me what are the areas of Halacha that relate to worldview and values?

    There are many. Anything relating to Zionism and secular studies. Also brain-death.

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  36. Matthew,

    Are you saying that Zionism would be acceptable to you if the Gedolim are for it but not if their against.?

    Meaning, are you incapable of any thought on your own, bearing in mind for example that we may be discussing something non halachic... e.g. are Mizrachi Amalek, as some charedim believe this?

    As Rav Elyoshiv and Rav Steinman both learned in Mercaz Harav, if you think yes, are they tainted and thus .....out of the techum too, if not why not?

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  37. David said: "As Rav Elyoshiv and Rav Steinman both learned in Mercaz Harav." Care to document that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rav elyashiv never learned in any yeshiva : self taught, one might say. Or rather home schooled. Not even in any of his grandfathers's yeshivot. (One might see this influenced his opinions / psakim.)

      As for rav shteinman, wasnt he educated in lita?

      MiMedinat HaYam

      Delete
  38. Moshe Dick writes:
    Having read all the comments on Rabbi Slifkin's post, I was struck by the underlying assumptions by people like Avi and Matthew. To them, the only shining lights are the (chareidi) "Gedolim" and anything they say-even if highly doubtful in reality - is "torah misinai".
    Take the Holocaust- the sheer "chutzpah" of Avi to ignore this cataclysmic event is breath- taking. Now, in truth, I think that it is not intentional because he has been indoctrinated by his "Rebbe-im" to avoid thinking about the Holocaust altogether or, as in Satmar mythology, that it was all the fault of the Zionists.The reason is simple. Chareidim don't have any good answer for this catastrophe as it runs counter to all their beliefs. How can those atheistic Zionists escape while the cream of chareidi Jewry perished? How can those assimilated german jews escape yet Polish jewry, mostly religious,is totally destroyed?So, they ignore it and act as it did not exist. Is it any wonder then, that there has been very little organized in our prayers about the Holocaust? And, please spare us the myth of "not adding prayers" (as was intimated by some). There are "kinos" for the jews who were killed during the Crusades in infinitely smaller,there is even a "taanis' for the Jews killed by Chmelnicky (yup, check it out) but the Holocaust-nada.
    And so, because they are utterly without an answer and perplexed as it clashes with their world view (the mantra "rabbonon" are protected by the Torah!)they ignore it. The vast majority of yeshiva bochurim have virtually no knowledge of the Holocaust.
    And now, of course, comes the state of israel- the only sane response to the Holocaust and to two thousand years of exile and they do not have no answer to that (happy) event either! A state founded by atheists and kofrim? impossible! but yes, it is possible and it is flourishing, with little input by the chareidi world. Their whole worldview is skewed and ,truly, bankrupt. So, their only answer is to invent a new concept "daas Torah", which is basically the infallibility of the chareidi Gedolim (note that the other gedolim like Rav Kook ,R'Joshe ber Soloveichik do not merit the same recognition) and this is the only way of keeping the flock in line- and so, the total war against even a modicum of rationality in the Kollel system because it would empty the kollelim and give people the capability of independent thinking. And there you have it, modern chareidism in israel. (The US has not been fully brainwashed yet).
    So, spare a thought for the poor souls like Avi and Matthew, they know not what they are doing.
    The one ray of hope is what you see on this website. Many ex-chareidim (like Rabbi Slifkin and others, including myself)have finally used our brains and realized how wrong and how far from reality the chareidi world view is. Mnay others will follow.

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  39. regarding the comment that forced conscription will prevent people from begoming gedolim, i did a google search on steipler + russian army. there are plenty of official stories of his service there - nevertheless, he was an undisputed gadol.
    from official gadol stories - it seems that in general, one becomes a gadol despite ... - rather than becoming a gadol because of ...
    Binyamin

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  40. Censorship has a long history, let us not forget. The Orthodox Jewish "church" is simply doing what the Catholic Christian church did for so many centuries. And it's not at all just a religious issue, or better, not only a theological issue. Secular religions are just as zealous in their censorship. While they cynically speak of tolerance, dissenting voices on liberal touchstones like feminism, environment, reverse-racism, etc, are suppressed (in media, academia, corporations) just as vigorously as the legacy religions. It's the very meaning of orthodoxies.

    It is still far, far too early to write the history of how the internet changed things. It took centuries before men realized just how profound an impact the printing press had. It wont take that long for us to fathom the impact of the internet (because everything moves faster these days, Isaiah 60:22) but it is still too early.

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  41. Avi, also don't forget that you can't directly compare population numbers in the modern period to premodern.

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  42. David
    I have to obey the dictates of the Gedolim.
    This does not mean I can not think for myself.
    Some may think that having learnt in Mercaz Harav is bound to be spiritually tainting.I think for myself and do not believe that it is.
    I don't believe that Mizrachists are Amalek.The validity of
    Hashkafo is defined by halochoh.

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  43. Rabbi Slifkin
    Are you saying that the gedolim have not grappled with the issues of Zionism,secular studies or brain death? Not all the Gedolim have dealt with all three and some may not have paskened on any of them.
    A gadol hador does not have to solve or deal with every issue.
    The whole paragraph which you quote from Rabbi Melamed seems to me ,to be an attempt to denigrate and undermine the authority of the Gedolim,by redefining what a Godol has to do.

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  44. Of course the Charedi Gedolim have grappled with them. But they have done so from a completely different set of values and epistemology.

    Look, why do you think that charedi and non-charedi rabbonim uniformly end up on the opposite side with regard to certain issues, such as brain death? It's because these are issues that strongly relate to worldview and/or epistemology.

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  45. "Look, why do you think that charedi and non-charedi rabbonim uniformly end up on the opposite side with regard to certain issues, such as brain death"
    This is just simply not true. The vast majority of rabbonim, whether charedi or not, are in basic agreement regarding the brain death debate. You make it seem as if charedi gedolim operate using a completely different value system than other poskim, this is a tremendous exaggeration.Differences between MO and Charedi poskim generally relate to disgreements about degrees but not completely different worldviews.

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  46. My strong impression is that virtually all charedi rabbonim do not accept brain death as death, while virtually all non-charedi rabbonim do accept brain death as death. (Although this may not be a good example of the point that I was trying to make, for reasons that are too complex to go into here.)

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  47. I think a good illustration of today's Torah scholars' devotion to Torah is the fact that yeshivas bein hazemanims need to be created to encourage them to learn. Pay me money and I'll learn bein hazemanim. Otherwise I'll find something better to do. Is that devotion to learning?

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  48. With regard to concerns that there will be a lack of Chareidi leaders (a.k.a. gedolim) with mandatory service - note the following:

    There was a proposal on the table to permanently exempt 1,800 top students each year. If a generation is 20 years, that's 36,000 per generation. If for every 1,000 that study, only one emerges for leadership (i.e. hora'ah), that's 36 "gedolim" per generation. A perfect plan to insure every chareidi generation has their lamed vav. :-)

    The chareidim should have embraced it, and thanked Israel for the gift of 1,800 exemptions.

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    Replies
    1. Variation on your theory. http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2008/10/r-dessler-produce-gedolim-even-if-most.html?m=1

      MiMedinat HaYam

      Delete
  49. Sure. But even today the charedi Gedolim insist that there is such a thing as spontaneous generation!

    R' Slifkin, considering that the haskomos and endorsements to your books were given for the most part by prominent Chareidi Rabbonim and Roshei Yeshiva, you really should not make generalized inclusive statements about "the Chareidi Gedolim" and their beliefs.

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  50. Avraham1 said...
    I think a good illustration of today's Torah scholars' devotion to Torah is the fact that yeshivas bein hazemanims need to be created to encourage them to learn. Pay me money and I'll learn bein hazemanim. Otherwise I'll find something better to do. Is that devotion to learning?


    Comments like this really bug me. Does any group (I'm not talking about daf yomi shiurim) that is not Chareidi even have a concept of learning during bein hazmanim? You take something which is inherently a good thing - encouraging people learn during bein hazmanim and depict in the worst possible light. Why?

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  51. MOshe Dick writes:
    Matthew is doubling down on his mistaken opinions. First, he asserts that he "must" obey the "dictates" (!) of the gedolim. Well that was the view of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust and look where it took them-to Auschwitz. It just proves my point about the suppression of any opinion contrary to so-called "daas torah" and the newfound infallibility of the chareidi gedolim. That view I reject totally.
    He then goes to say that a godol does not have to deal with every issue.Sorry, Matthew, this is what makes a godol- because you do deal qith every issue!
    And, lastly, he seems to think that the chareidi gedolim did no deal with Zionism or secualr studies. A cursory look in some of the Poskim and others wil lshow that htis is totally false. Check the (famous) Birkas Shmuel on secular studies. Check the piskei halocho on Yom ha-atzamaut and Hallel and you will find plenty of early Poskim who acknowledged both ! (R"Meshulam Rath was a major possek and because he did advise to say Hallel ,he was ostracized by the extremists).
    The saddexzt aprt of today's situation is the fact that the extremists are ruling the roost-even Rav Shteineman is now afraid of them.

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  52. There's an issue that's been weighing on me and I need to get it off my chest. Commenters on this blog seem to think that Chareidim don't go to the army because they are selfish and self centered, don't care what anyone else thinks, etc. The implication, of course, is that DLs go to the army because they are selfless and altruistic. Obviously, there may be individuals in any camp who are selfish and others who are selfless but this is not the reason as a general rule that Chareidim don't go to the army and DL do go to the army.

    Before I give the reason I want to prove my point. Chareidi society holds as an overriding value, doing for others. The overwhelming majority of chessed organizations in Israel were founded and are run by Chareidim. The percentage of volunteers who work in them who are Chareidi is far greater than the percentage of Chareidim in the Jewish population of Israel. Obviously, these people have been inculcated that this is a good thing to do. Now, I've read people on this blog poo poo this as being individuals but those individuals were produced by a society which encourages this sort of selflessness. Otherwise, they'd be doing something else.

    The real reason that Chareidim don't do army and DL do involves religious outlook not selfishness and selflessness. Again, I'm not talking about individuals. Obviously, there are selfish people in all camps and selfless people in all camps. And people are complex and motivated by many different things. But as a rule, what I say is true. Chareidi Rabonim hold that today's situation is not a milchemes mitzvah and learning Torah is the zechus that is needed for klal Yisrael to exist and it outweighs other considerations. DL Rabbonim hold that there's a milchemes mitzvah and everyone is required to be in the army.

    Debating these views is legitimate but the ad hominem attacks on Chareidi society as selfish is nonsense and unhelpful to the debate.

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  53. Rabbi Slifkin

    Worldview and epistemology are two bad reasons for leaving the Chareidi camp.
    The pronouncements of the Charedi Gedolim are based on the principles of accepting the Torah as is it has been expounded by the sages throughout the generations and in line with the rules of אחרי רבים and לא תסור.
    Not all is rosy in Charedi society,and there is so much to be praised in the dati leumi camp.
    You were maltreated by the "chareidim" and your pain must have been horrible so it is understandable that you felt you had to change your allegiances.
    But at what price ?
    Had you persevered from within the Chareidi world you would eventually have been exonerated and the Chareidim would have benefitted no end from your victory.

    On the other hand the religious Zionists don't really need you,although they probably rejoice in having another educated sincere talmid chochom who will be another voice in the conflict with the Charedim.
    Yes,there have been Torah giants who supported Zionism ,but they were a very small minority compared to the number of anti-Zionist Gedolim (even taking into account that some rabbis of recent might have been given the accolade of being Gedolim without much justification )
    Whichever camp you are in I will still love you,and I hope that I have not caused any offence by my comments.

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  54. "This is the third Cross-Currents article in the last few weeks specifically aimed at rebutting me, by the third such person to do so! I'm not even bothering to submit comments there any more - I suspect that my blog has many more readers than Cross-Currents anyway. The discussion is better off taking place here, where the forum is more open."

    As someone who drops in on this blog every so often, I would caution against victory statements like the one in this post.

    You previously wrote about R Amsalem's 'sephardi spring'. He's now trying to run to the Likud. Meanwhile Shas is out of the coaltion but holding 10 seats. Not to mention the numbers that showed up at Chacham Ovadiah's levaya

    You wrote excitedly about an alternative siyum hashas. What happened with that? And what happened with the Gedolim. sponsored one?

    And of course there was your slew of posts about RBS elections...

    Finally since you're so excited about the openness engendered by the 'net, maybe you can post a link to FKM's blog
    http://slifkinchallenge.blogspot.com/ that's devoted to yours. He reads all your post and you're the number 1 blog he follows. (I often arrive here via link from his blog)

    P.S. I look forward to the continuation of this de-facto debate format. Maybe we can even get a guest post by R Dovid Kornreich on CC!

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  55. Dear Rav Slifkin,

    Once again you have succinctly and cogently demonstrated the mendacious nature of Charedi scholarship.

    What troubles me is that if their scholarship is so patently and obviously misleading, and their understanding and interpretaion of this halacha is so self serving and driven by desired outcome rather than the actual textual reference, how can we trust Rabbonim (in general) to be honest, dispassionate and objective interpreters of halacha? How can I trust a Rav for a psak, when it seems that their interpretation of the literature is so easily prejudiced by their own biases.

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  56. considering that the haskomos and endorsements to your books .... you really should not make generalized inclusive statements about "the Chareidi Gedolim" and their beliefs.

    Moshe David Tokayer

    Moshe,

    Considering that since then these same Rabbonim have retracted their Haskamot, and the Eidat Charedit have decreed that to not believe these statement of the Talmud to be literal,is heresy, I would say that Rav Slifkin's interpretation is the stated default position.

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  57. "The pronouncements of the Charedi Gedolim are based on the principles of accepting the Torah as is it has been expounded by the sages throughout the generations and in line with the rules of אחרי רבים and לא תסור."

    I'm sorry, but it's naive to believe that positions regarding contemporary issues such as Zionism reflect some kind of pure mesorah going back to Sinai. They relate instead to complex societal factors. And I don't know what you mean by referencing Lo Sasur - that applies to the Beis Din HaGadol in Yerushalayim, which hasn't been around for quite a while.

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  58. You were maltreated by the "chareidim" and your pain must have been horrible so it is understandable that you felt you had to change your allegiances.

    That wasn't the case at all. I left the charedi world as a personal choice, so that I could continue to write about Torah and science. My conclusion that the Charedi world was fundamentally problematic came much later, resulting from their attitude to work and the state.

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  59. The overwhelming majority of chessed organizations in Israel were founded and are run by Chareidim.

    You missed out the crucial suffix: for Charedim. (Yad Sarah serves the entire country, but it's founder was not particularly charedi, and most of its staff are not charedi.) Of course charedim are very giving within their own communities, but this does not show that their care extends beyond that.

    Chareidi Rabonim hold that today's situation is not a milchemes mitzvah and learning Torah is the zechus that is needed for klal Yisrael to exist and it outweighs other considerations.

    That is not the reason.

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  60. You missed out the crucial suffix: for Charedim. (Yad Sarah serves the entire country, but it's founder was not particularly charedi, and most of its staff are not charedi.) Of course charedim are very giving within their own communities, but this does not show that their care extends beyond that.

    R' Slifkin, I knew that this is what people think but it is patently untrue and is not born out by the facts. We can debate the "charidiut" of the founder of Yad Sarah and how many chareidim volunteer and work there. But Yad Sarah is one organization among a plethora of organizations founded and run by Chareidim that service everyone. Here are some examples:

    Chasdei Yoel, is founded and run but Satmar Chassidim and provides free food and other amenities (Shabbos candles, etc.) at hospitals in Israel for visitors.

    Ezer Mitzion founded and run by Chanania Cholk, a chareidi. It services everyone and runs the largest Jewish bone marrow registry in the world.

    Ichud Hatzoloh.

    Zaka founded and run by Yehuda Meshi Zahav, a Yerushalmi chareidi.

    These are a few of the organizations that come to mind. So to say that the Chareidim care only about their own community is total nonsense. Of course, they care about their community but all communities care about their own communities. But the Chareidi chessed projects and organizations are exemplary and a clear proof (if any is really needed), that the entire society is built on selflessness and giving.

    Therefore, the issues of the draft vis a vis the chareidim has nothing to do with selfishness and frankly, it's an insult to assume it does. Furthermore, it undermines the debate because your off the mark with this. If you address the real issues, then maybe there's a chance at gaining some understanding and possible, just possibly a resolution.

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  61. Moshe David Tokayer-
    The biggest hesed organization of all in Israel was set up largely by non-religious people, and most of the people serving in it are non-religious.
    It is the Israel Defense Forces. The fact that some of the people in are not very nice or ethical people, including some at the very top, does not change things. A conscript soldier who gives up three years of his life to do difficult and sometimes dangerous things for very little compensation in order to protect you and me is on as high a level as hesed that I can think of.

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  62. Y. Ben-David,

    I'm not debating or trying to prove who provides the most chessed. You missed my point. My point is that to say that Chareidi society is selfish and that's the reason they don't serve in the army is untrue.

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  63. Rabbi Slifkin,
    I do apologise for having believed incorrect information about the reason for your change of camps.
    I must be more wary in future ,of trusting "mikva schmuess".
    I am amazed that a member of the Chareidi world can't write about Torah and science.It just shows how little I know about israeli society politics.Really I'm shocked.

    As regards "lo sosur" ,במחילה I feel that I must point out, that a significant number of prominent Rishonim pasken that it applies to the halachic authorities of all times,and this is accepted by many Acharonim.
    As an Acharon you are allowed perhaps to reject this opinion,nevertheless אחרי רבים is a rule for all generations.

    I think that your charge of naïveté is unfair.
    The principles by which gedolay hador pasken on issues that did not exist in olden times,are Torah based,whether from written or oral Torah.
    There are no Torah ethics or philosophies or moral principles that exist independently from Torah Misinai.

    The halacha that it is forbidden to denigrate someone because of a difference of opinion ,is also supported by general moral considerations,but more importantly it is a Torah based law.
    Your detractors have a lot to answer for,including chilul Hashem.

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  64. My point is that to say that Chareidi society is selfish and that's the reason they don't serve in the army is untrue.

    I'm not sure that your distinction is fair - people can be self-focused in one area and generous in another. More importantly, whatever the motivation, the Chareidi avoidance of army service is innately a selfish act.

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  65. Yossi, the pronouncements of leading Hareidi figures are not, ipso facto, reflective on the halachic decisions rendered by an individual rav or posek. The crux of the matter of reliance is the judgment that you make on the knowledge, character, and reliability of that rav and posek. While a non-hashkafic ruling by your local Orthodox rav may be binding on his congregants, it does not prevent you from seeking rulings from those whom you most trust.

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