Monday, August 17, 2015

Perceptions Of Their Perceptions, Cont.

In yesterday's post, "How Charedim and Non-Charedim Perceive Each Others' Perception Of Them," I observed that some charedim do not imagine that some non-charedim actually believe themselves to be following the better path in serving God. Today I would like to elaborate on that with another anecdote.

A newly-charedi person once asked me who I think is living closer to God's will, a typical dati-leumi person or a typical charedi guy in kollel? He was utterly amazed when I told him, "the former." He couldn't understand how I could think that way!

I tried to explain that in our view, serving in the army, contributing towards the nation/economy, and raising your children to be likewise productive citizens, are really, really important, from Hashem's perspective as well as our own, and that these are fundamental activities that are much more critical than various other minor halachos. (I would further add that from a non-charedi perspective, practices such as only eating food with a certain hechsher can even be seen as actually wrong; cf. the Tzlach's responsa about not dividing the nation by having different kashrus standards.)

One person emailed me to express his resentment over yesterday's post, which he considered "a waste." Ironically, this was a person who has changed from being dati-leumi to being charedi. But that was my whole point. As one of the commentators said:
"It is very important for parents to emphasize that aspects of their non-charedi lifestyle are not compromises, or done because it is easier (even if it is), but that this is what they believe the Torah demands of them. A lot of the pull of the charedi world is the feeling that they do everything according to the Torah, whereas others do not."
If we are going to help and influence others to live their lives in a certain way, it's not just enough to explain how each individual aspect is correct from a Torah perspective. We have to also emphasize that the approach as a whole is the Torah-True Way. That term has been adopted by some as a Registered Trademark - we need to reclaim it.

As one minor example, consider how when listing the three broad classes of Jews in Israel, most people will say "secular, national-religious, charedi" or "charedi, national-religious, secular." This implicitly encourages the idea that charedim are further along the religious spectrum than the national religious. But if you are national-religious, then you should not be believing that this is the case! If you are national-religious, then you should be expressing that as the pinnacle of religious life.

145 comments:

  1. I thought talmud Torah is the greatest of all mitzvos and preferred over them unless they can be performed by no one else.

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    1. Avraham, Until the yeshivish read of Nefesh haChaim (mussarists read it differently), learning Torah lishmah (for its own sake) is to do or to teach. The gemara is quite clear about it -- both talmuds. This bit about learning being the be all and end all mitzvah is actually newer than both Reform and Chassidus.The conclusion you're drawing is not even in the Nefesh haChaim itself.

      I recommend the seeing Meshekh Chokhmah on Devarim 28:61, he discusses the dinim you're trying to based in these terms. To translate in part:

      “Rav said to Rav Shemu’el bar Shilah: Prepare for me a touching eulogy, for I will be there.” (Shabbos 153a)

      It was explained in the beginning that a person exists in his intellectual soul, like all the lofty people and like the heavenly causes. Before he was created, a person was also a seikhel nivdal [separated intellect; i.e. a pure intellect with no body, like angels; metaphysical] which grasped its Creator. As it says in Niddah pg. 30. [The soul] had personal existence and descended into the lower world in order to do mitzvos maasios [mitzvos that are actions] which require material substance. Like Moshe’s answer to the angels [when they asked that Hashem leave the Torah with them rather than give it to us at Sinai], “Do theft etc… have meaning for you?” Therefore they said, “One who learns but not in order to do, would have been pleasanter that his umbilical cord would have prolapsed in front of his face [and he never came into the world.” (Yerushalmi ch. “Hayah Qorei” [I found it elsewhere — Shabbos 1:2, vilna 7b -micha]) Because then [before birth] too he was a seikhel nivdal who grasped his Creator, may He be blessed. (Qorban Aharon, introduction) Similarly if he teaches others then his learning has a purpose, which is to preserve the species on a spiritual level. Therefore also, the one who learns but not for the sake of teaching they thus said, “it would have been pleasanter for him not to have been created.”

      Even his creation on the physical level, we find in the Torah that it is for the intent of his preserving the species on a spiritual level. As Hashem (blessed be He) said [of His selection of Abraham], “For I know him, that he will teach his children after him…” (Bereishis 18:19) Similarly, it says in “Yeish Nochalin” [Bava Basra 116a, quoting Yirmiyahu 22:10] “‘Weep for the one who goes…’ Rav Yehudah said that Rav said: the one who goes with no male children. Rav Yehoshua ben Levi said: it is one who goes without a student.” Both preserve the species and to the same effect.

      As it says in chapter “Cheileq” [Sanhedrin 99b, on Iyov 5:7] “Man was born to toil” that is the toil of learning in order to teach, learning in order to do. For it is only for this that he was born, as we explained.

      With this what I wrote in my novellae on [tractate] Kesuvos can be understood that which we find in the Yerushalmi Berakhos [1:2, vilna 8a]: Does not Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai agree that we would stop [learning Torah] to make a sukkah or to set up a lulav? [Does not Rashbi agree that one must study in order to do, and not to study not in order to do, for someone who studies not in order to do is better off not having been born?] In [tractate] Sukkah [25a], Rashi [“sheluchei mitzvah“] explains that those who are going someplace to learn Torah are exempt from sukkah and lulav. I explained there that the gemara is speaking of [travelling to] serve a talmid chakham. (see there)

      According to this, the reasoning is astounding: If it were about learning Torah, isn’t that something he could do before being born? Thus it is only to do. Therefore for the preparation for a mitzvah, such as the building of a sukkah, we also interrupt words of Torah. But to teach, even the preparation for [teaching], is dearer than fulfilling a mitzvah. For the mitzvah of teaching Torah is greater because one can only do the mitzvah via someone else.

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    2. Rabbi Slifkin and Micha -

      Just because the ultimate goal of learning Torah is to do and to teach, does not detract from the importance of learning Torah. The Rambam, whom this blog is essentially based on, clearly talks about learning Torah as the greatest Mitzvah.

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    3. MK- +1 here is the huge whole in their arguement. See Rambam about learning Gemarah Kol Hayom after you have mastered Torah Sh'bcsav.

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    4. Dear Rabbi Slifkin, I admire your intellectual honesty, however on the kneged kulam essay you have erred for the below reasons:
      1) the gemara in sota 21 (1) says that studying torah protects one from doing aveiros where mitves don't, and the gemoro there says that a aveiroh extinguishes a mitzvah but it doesn't do that to learning Torah.
      2)The Jerushalmi in peah 1 says that even one word of Torah is more than all the Mitzvos put together.
      3)The Rambam in hilchos Talmud torah 3 (3) paskens that אין לך מצוה בכל המצות כולן שהיא
      שקולה כנגד תלמוד תורה אלא תלמוד תורה כנגד כל המצות כולן
      4) The Rambam in hilchos Talmud Torah 3 (5) says:תחלת דינו של אדם אינו נידון אלא על התלמוד ואחר כך על שאר מעשיו. לפיכך אמרו חכמים לעולם יעסוק אדם בתורה בין לשמה בין שלא לשמה שמתוך שלא לשמה בא לשמה:
      5) The rambam in 3 (13) says:וכל בית שאין נשמעים בו דברי תורה בלילה אש אוכלתו שנאמר כל חשך טמון לצפוניו תאכלהו אש לא נופח. כי דבר ה' בזה זה שלא השגיח על דברי תורה כל עיקר. וכן כל שאפשר לו לעסוק בתורה ואינו עוסק או שקרא ושנה ופירש להבלי עולם והניח תלמודו וזנחו הרי זה בכלל בוזה דבר ה'
      6)Based on the above it is clear that The rambam you brought in your essay is just a reason why it is more than the other mitzvos, however it "really" is more.

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    5. 1- The gemara in Sotah, as well as the definition of Torah lishmah found in both the Shas and the Y-mi, end up saying that the value of Torah is how it helps us do mitzvos. Not that it's more valuable in-and-of-itself, but that some Torah now has the value of all the mitzvos done later.

      The gemara there is saying that a sin can remove the influence of a mitzvah, but not of Torah learning. See the next bit, about which will prevent further sin. It's a statement about psychology, not inherent value, and is in line with Torah lishmah.

      2- The Yerushalmi (Peiah 1:1, vilna 4a) has a machloqes whether the whole world is not as great as one devar Torah, or whether even all the mitzvos don't measure up to one devar Torah. Which is what I presume you're quoting, at least half of. But then it continues with R' Mana summing up all the previous statements by bringing pesuqim that speak of 4 central mitzvos, presenting them as a set: talmud Torah, kibud av va'eim, gemilus chassadim, and shalom bein adam lachaveiro.

      3-5) I would leave the Rambam out of the discussion, since the proverbial "no one" buys into Moreh 3:54 and his prioritization of knowledge over morality. It's not just that he considers learning more valuable than mitzvos, he considers knowledge of theology or metaphysics (depending on the translation; I don't speak Judeo-Arabi) more important than being good. (More precisely: that being good is both handmaiden and effect of the true human perfection, which is philosophical knowledge about G-d / how He runs the world.)


      The first question asked in the afterlife is integrity in business. Learning is number two, and only that you had set shiurim, no implication that it should dominate your day. (Shabbos 31a)


      I am not claiming Torah is unimportant. I just think the yeshiva movement presents keneged kulam in a way that's uniquely theirs. R' Wolbe wrote a seifer on the 7 mitzvos that are keneged kulam. Learning is not unique.

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    6. Thank you Micha for your reply:
      1) the gemara in sote ,avera extinguishes a mitzvah is not a psychological issue as you understand it but it is about reward in
      the world to come, see rashi there on numerous occasions, and so is the mishneh in pea.
      2)The Jerusalmi in pea is clearly saying that one word of learning is more than all other mitzves, the rav mana at the end you quoted is just saying that you can learn the whole mishneh from a possuk ,however the fact that one word of torah is more than all mitzves remains.
      3-5) I find it funny that you which to keep the rambam out, when the main proof of rabbi slifkin
      in his essay is the rambam on the mishneh in peah, with regards to the rambam in moreh this is indeed controversial ,however this a separate discussion which I think should be kept aside as it doesn't effect the way we understand kneged Kulam.
      The gemara you quoted at the end about the first question in the world to come is whether one was honest is business ,this is about a AVERA of gezel which is indeed worse as we say on yom kipper leman nechdal me oishek yodeinu, however when it comes to mitzves Talmud torah kneged Kulam "REALLY".

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    7. Micha -

      It's not simply a theological issue of the Rambam prioritizing knowledge over morality. The Rambam isn't the only one who says that there are actual Halachic implications to Talmud Torah being the greatest Mitzvah, i.e. it takes precedence over most other Mitzvot.

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    8. 1- Um, Rashi says it's about influence on further decisions. In other words, if someone does a mitzvah and then sins, their mitzvah will have no (negligable?) influence on future decisions. (R' Dessler would say their bechirah point moved on since.) Whereas if they learn Torah and then sin, the influence on their future actions persists.

      I guarantee you neither the gemara nor Rashi were calling Hashem a Vatran.

      2- The "fact" is under dispute in the gemara, and not in R' Mana's masqana, which -- like the mishnah -- places Torah in the context of a list, not on its own pedestal.

      3- I repeatedly wrote comments on this blog to show that what RNS calls "rationalism" has little to do with the Rambam. I gave up. I am not bound to agree with him just because both of us disagree with you.

      BTW, bitul Torah can be forgiven on Yom Kippur, causing a chilul hasheim by jumping line at the bus terminal to get there is not forgiven without teshuvah, Yom Kippur, yisurim (r"l) and death.

      And what about the Meshekh Chokhmah's source? We do interrupt learning for other mitzvos, even for the hekhsher mitzvah; it's only teaching others that overrides mitzvos. Torah as a bein adam lachaveiro is worth more than all the other mitzvos?

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    9. But MK... It's simply not true! If you have to choose between esrog and Torah, pick up the 4 species! If you have to choose between *building* a Sukkah and Torah -- not even the actual mitzvah -- build the Sukkah.

      The only time the gemara says learning comes first is when you're preparing a shiur. That's the Meshekh Chokhmah's whole point!

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    10. Micha -

      How then do you explain the words of the Rambam in Chapter 1, Halacha 3 of Hilchot Talmud Torah?

      "Similarly, in every place, one finds that study takes precedence over deed, for study brings about deed. However, deed does not bring about study."

      Isn't learning a more direct way of bringing about deed than teaching? In addition, teaching without someone learning is meaningless and will not bring about deed, whereas learning in and of itself is meaningful and will bring about deed.

      BTW, I agree with the general point of this post, just not with the belittling of the Mitzvah of learning Torah.

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    11. Dear Rabbi Micha,
      I think we will have to agree to disagree:
      1)see rashi in soteh :" ד'ה עבירה מכבה "שכר מצוה" וד'ה ואין עבירה מכבה "שכר
      2)The Jerushalmi is explaining that what the mishna says kneged kulam, is even one word of torah is more than all the mitzves put together, rav mana comes afterwards and says that the whole mishna is included in a pasuk I don't see why you understand that rav mana is arguing on the previous gemara..
      3) I am glad to hear that we at least agree that in rabbi slifkins essay on knegged kulam, he misunderstood the rambam on the mishna in peah, and the Rambam clearly holds that torah is Knegged Kulam.
      With regards to Chilul Hashem you will be glad to hear I agree ,as clearly said by chazal,
      I am only talking about Mitzvehs where there is overwhelming evidence in chazal that it outways all Mitzvahs .
      The reason why we build a Sukkah and all other Mitzvahs on the expense of learning in a case where no one else can do it, is because that is what Hashem wanted, this is clearly proven by Chazal who say, that Mordechai Hatzadik was lowered from his level when he was mevatel torah for saving Klal Yisrael.
      With regards to the Meshech Chachma to sum up in short he is asking a contradiction between Jerushalmi and Bavli whether one has to do a Mitzvah on the expense of learning, and he answers that it depends if he learns as a intellectual subject with no intend to do the mitzvohs, where he could of done that before he came to this world ,or with no intend to teach (it seems from the meshech chochma that even that is more than all mitzvohs, however since he didn't need to come to this world for that ,the mitzvah comes first).
      He goes on to say that learning gemoro is always called al menas laasos. and therefore that will always outweigh a Mitzvah (when someone else can do it).
      There is clear evidence that this is what the Meshech chochma held because in his sefer ohr Sameach on the Rambam Hilchos Talmud Torah he quotes the Jerushalmi in Peah that all Mitzvohs put together aren't worth as much as a word of Torah (he also clearly learned that this is what the Maskana in the Jerushalmi is ,unlike your understanding).

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    12. Dear Rabbi Micha,
      I think we will have to agree to disagree:
      1)see rashi in soteh :" ד'ה עבירה מכבה "שכר מצוה" וד'ה ואין עבירה מכבה "שכר
      2)The Jerushalmi is explaining that what the mishna says kneged kulam, is even one word of torah is more than all the mitzves put together, rav mana comes afterwards and says that the whole mishna is included in a pasuk I don't see why you understand that rav mana is arguing on the previous gemara..
      3) I am glad to hear that we at least agree that in rabbi slifkins essay on knegged kulam, he misunderstood the rambam on the mishna in peah, and the Rambam clearly holds that torah is Knegged Kulam.
      With regards to Chilul Hashem you will be glad to hear I agree ,as clearly said by chazal,
      I am only talking about Mitzvehs where there is overwhelming evidence in chazal that it outways all Mitzvahs .
      The reason why we build a Sukkah and all other Mitzvahs on the expense of learning in a case where no one else can do it, is because that is what Hashem wanted, this is clearly proven by Chazal who say, that Mordechai Hatzadik was lowered from his level when he was mevatel torah for saving Klal Yisrael.
      With regards to the Meshech Chachma to sum up in short he is asking a contradiction between Jerushalmi and Bavli whether one has to do a Mitzvah on the expense of learning, and he answers that it depends if he learns as a intellectual subject with no intend to do the mitzvohs, where he could of done that before he came to this world ,or with no intend to teach (it seems from the meshech chochma that even that is more than all mitzvohs, however since he didn't need to come to this world for that ,the mitzvah comes first).
      He goes on to say that learning gemoro is always called al menas laasos. and therefore that will always outweigh a Mitzvah (when someone else can do it).
      There is clear evidence that this is what the Meshech chochma held because in his sefer ohr Sameach on the Rambam Hilchos Talmud Torah he quotes the Jerushalmi in Peah that all Mitzvohs put together aren't worth as much as a word of Torah (he also clearly learned that this is what the Maskana in the Jerushalmi is ,unlike your understanding).

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    13. The Meshech Chikhmah is working with the classical definition of Torah lishmah, "al menas la'asos". I am arguing against what the yeshiva movement understands to be R' Chaim Volozhiner's definition of Torah lishmah, which is learning as an end in itself. (And the Mussar movement understands Nefesh haChaim part IV differently, which is how both of them see themselves as continuations of the Gra and RCV's thought.)

      I have no problem with the idea of saying learning is important because it has derived value -- not only a mitzvah, but enables other mitzvos. BUT, that still means the point of life is those other mitzvos, and not learning in particular.

      Note the gemara does not say you only stop to put up the sukkah if no one else can.

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    14. MK: My response to "Talmid" answers your question too.

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    15. Rabbi Micha,
      I am afraid I strongly disagree with your understanding of the Meshech Chochma,
      See Meshech Chochma Devarim 8 (10) :" ללמוד התורה "לשמה ולשם יוצרה
      and see Devarim first piece on Vezos Haberocho the piece starting: Verazal.
      It is clear from there that he learns Lishma meaning for the sake of Hashem and no other reason, you seem to mix the issue of al menas laasot and Lishma.

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    16. I think you have this whole conversation backward. Both shasin define Tirah lishmahh. This idea that lishmahh means for its own sake, rather than for the sake for which Torah itself was made, or that it is learning for G-d's sake, is a chidush at odds with Chazal. My definition of Torah lishmahh is not my own chiddush. Posing that any acharon defined it differently than Chazal did is dachuq and demands a high burden of proof.

      On 8:10, you omit the word "lishmah ve-" in your treatment. "Leqayeim Torah lishmah" is not "lilmod Torah lesheim Yotzrahh". Torah lishmahh is tied to qiyum, which is contrasted to lilmod Torah as an end in itself, which is lesheim Yotzerahh.

      I found the quote on vezos haBerakhah, it's not the first piece, it's 33:4 "Torah tzivah lanu Moshe" that has the paragraph "VeRazal..." The MC doesn't define Torah lishmahh there, but he does say it's a way to make it through the world besimchah, and as an alternative to being driven by hana'as tiv'o. Not knowledge, but matarah in how he relates to olam hazeh.

      But that's just chasing hints, lishmahh is not defined in either quote.

      Unlike ours, where we the OC says that Torah lishmahh is the kind of learning one could not have done with the mal'akh, one that justifies being born. Which fits what he said in the quote you cited in VeZos haBerakhah seamlessly.

      I should note that while the yeshiva movement takes Nefesh haChaim 4:3 as defining Torah lishmah as learning for the pure sake of knowing, this understanding makes the other 3/4 of Nefesh haChaim pointless. The mussarists found their roots in NhC and obviously understood this chapter differently.

      And given the huge burden of proof I am demanding from someone who disagrees with both definitions given outright in the gemara, I'll side with the mussarists.

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    17. Rabbi Micha,
      Let me explain myself: I started my first reply against RNS essay on Knegged Kulam where I proved from Bavli Jerushalmi and Rambam that it means "Really" Knegged Kulam, I think we both agreed to this eventually?
      You then went on to discuss your understanding of the Meshech Chochma ,in Torah Lishmah, I assumed you were referring to the Machlokes between Tosafot in Pesachim 50 b "vecaan" who says that Lishmah and al Menat Laasot is the same and Tosafot in Sotah 22 b "leolam" who says that Lishmah means "retzon Yotzro", (and also see Rashi there "Porush Meahava" and Rambam Hilchot Teshuva 10:5 :כל העוסק בתורה כדי לקבל שכר או כדי שלא תגיע עליו פורענות הרי זה עוסק שלא לשמה. וכל העוסק בה לא ליראה ולא לקבל שכר אלא מפני אהבת אדון כל הארץ שצוה בה הרי זה עוסק בה לשמה). I said that in my opinion the mesech Chochma 28 61 doesn't speak about Lishmah, but merely talks about al menat lelamed and al menat laasot (as a side note the MC there says clearly that Gemara is always considered al Menat Laasot), Now the MC in Devarim 8 (10) says Lishma "uleshem Yotzro" meaning (in my opinion) the Lishmo tosafot discussed in Sota Leshem Yotzro and not the Tosafot in Pesachim, I understand this is not foolproof however it is a Machlokes Rishonim so I don't see any major difference in what the MC Held. (on a separate note see Nefesh Hachaim Perakim end of perek 2 that Talmud Torah Knegged Kulam even "Shelo Lishma" against a Mitvah Lishma).

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  2. I have largely enjoyed your posts over the last few years, especially the one's which have raised thorny provocative halachic discussion, such as the k'zayis issue, and the analyses of the political situation in Israel in general and specifically in Beit Shemesh. However I feel that with this and yesterday's articles you particularly overstepped the boundaries of thought-provoking to just downright negative and pernicious. The pragmatic benefits you purport were your intention in publishing these articles could have been achieved just as well without being as condescending of our Charedi brethren as you are in these articles. Speaking of the reasons why we believe what we believe in is a wonderful thing, but it doesn't have to come at the cost of denigrating others. As the Kotzker is supposed to have said, "Chilukei dayos, avade, uber pirud levavos kein mul nisht - Of course we will have differences of opinion, but God forbid for us to harbor enmity one to another." Your treatment here is just as biased and suffers from the same stereotyping the you accuse your Charedi opponents of. The Charedi world is not as monolithic as you would have it, just as the Dati and Chiloni worlds are not. In an attempt to fill myself with Ahavas Yisrael in preparation for the Yamim Noraim, and with a heavy heart at the thought of missing the articles you publish that I do enjoy, I will no longer be following your blog.

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    1. If you're blind to the fact that the haredi community as a whole (of course there may be some exceptions) looks down on non-haredim as less religious, you're living in a bubble. I can't tell you how many times and in different places I've listened to haredi rabbis and community members say just such a thing. I want to emphasize - COUNTLESS TIMES. It's crucial that this perception change so that we can achieve the achdus that G-d expects of us. That Rabbi Slifkin shines a light on this unfortunate reality doesn't mean he's denigrating haredim - he's pointing out an objectively verifiable fact. In my opinion, for you to denigrate his posts on this subject perpetuates the problem and makes you quite culpable going into the Yamim Noraim. Best of luck on Judgment Day, you're going to need it.

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    2. @julianfamily: I don't think it is worth boycotting this blog because of a few posts--generally Rabbi Slifkin is balanced in his criticism. (I can name blogs that are truly rabidly anti-charedi.)

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    3. @julianfamily You misunderstood R. Slifkin's post. He didn't say that the haredi way is not Torah-true. He said that the dati le'umi way is ALSO Torah-true.

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  3. Completely agree. Many charedim are willing to recognize the Modern Orthodox way of life as long as everyone recognizes that the "ultimate" is charedi Judaism. Try defending secular study and working for a living as the ultimate and you will get a shocked response.

    It is the same principle they apply to RSRH. They all love him because he was "for them" and they "needed" him. If you explain to them that RSRH actually meant what he said, they will argue with you at length because... well, it's simply not possible (even though all he did was walk in the footsteps of many of the gaonim, Spanish rabbanim, etc. etc.).

    I agree with you, Rabbi Slifkin, that we have to defend our way of life as the ultimate and not be in the least defensive.

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  4. > when listing the three broad classes of Jews in Israel, most people will say "secular, national-religious, charedi" or "charedi, national-religious, secular." This implicitly encourages the idea that charedim are further along the religious spectrum than the national religious.

    That probably is how most people see it, but it can also be interpreted as DL is the bridge, sharing more with each chilonim and chareidim than they share with each other.

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  5. In a sense this is a version of a very old debate going to the issue of whether the purpose and goal of the Torah is for people to separate themselves from the world and be kovesh their yetzer or to fully engage the world in the best way possible.

    Versions of this debate and many, many related ideas flow all the way from Tanach, through the Gemara, various Rishonim and the different streams of more recent approaches to avodat hashem such as chassidus, Hirsch and so on.

    Those that argue that the Torah's intent is for Jews to be fully engaged don't see it as a second-best, bedi-eved approach but as the actual purpose of creation and the Torah.

    I also have to agree with previous posters that I fully appreciate the points being made, and they are essential and worth pointing out, but care should be taken to make them in a wholesome and constructive way, not in a manner that might appear as denigrating to portions of klal yisrael.

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  6. Some thoughts on this all over here: http://dafaleph.com/home/2015/8/17/chareidi-or-more-modern-that-is-the-question-that-r-slifkin-overlooked

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  7. I observed that some charedim do not imagine that some non-charedim actually believe themselves to be following the better path in serving God.

    I am personally imagine very well that Reform believe they better follow God (I don't know what God they follow, but it's a different question). Then why not anyone else including seculars?

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    1. You're right, a committed Reform Jew does see himself as following God in the best possible way - as opposed to the crazy Orthodox people with their outdated religious strictures that no longer serve the purpose of living the best possible and most Godly life. Secular people aren't relevant, as they are indifferent to religion.

      The point of the post is that Chaeidim, in general, don't recognize that MO - or Reform - Jews are doing what they see as the best way to serve God. They instead see what they do as *obviously* the best way, so that the only reason for others to do differently is that they nebech can't reach such a madreiga, or, less charitably, they can't control their teivos. The average Chareidi has no idea what Reform theology holds, and dismisses the entire movement as a bunch of people who want to pretend to be Jewish but don't have the moral fiber to be Chareidim. Their opinion of MO is not much different.

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    2. Part of Daas Torah has become a denial of eilu va'eilu; there is only one approach and that is that of "the gedolim" -- ie my camp's gedolim. The approach of another's gadol is therefore inferior, and thus the rav in question can't really be a gadol. This is also what motivates the rewriting of history; the Netziv couldn't have a different approach to Judaism than did R' Chaim Brisker or than today's Mo'etzes does, since today's Mo'etzes *defines* the one right path for them. So, they have to choose between embracing plurality, writing off the Netziv, or rewriting who he was.

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  8. I would have to agree. Ascribing to a certain set of beliefs should in no way or form mean denigrating another's that you don't agree with. If anything, I find it just perpetuates misunderstanding and sinat chinam as opposed to bringing down barriers and undoing this kind of hateful thinking. Having made Aliyah, i've noticed (especially in the dati lemui yeshivot i've learnt in over the last few years) that this is the exact difference between Israeli society - where mockery and hatred for anyone religiously different to you is commonplace - and chutz laaretz, where communities are far more unified, and differences respected.

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  9. What about the sins that the Haredi lifestyle causes directly? Like theft. Most Israelis pay higher taxes because of the low Haredi participation rate in the economy. (I would also mention transgressing "lo ta'amod al dam re'echa" but I made Aliyah at age 47 and so didn't serve in the army.)

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    1. It's involuntary tzedaka which certainly comes close.

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  10. When a large group of super Orthodox Jews demonize an entire population of fellow religious Jews, do so for decades and sometimes publicly equate them with heretical groups, well, they have to be confronted and their poor behavior, their sinas Chinam, has to be eradicated. Tough to do, since they're so correct in their own minds, leaving no room for any other opinion or approach to an observant Jewish life. And when they consistently find themselves the object of media attention for less than stellar ethics and morals, for seemingly never ending financial fraud, money-laundering, tax evasion, government scams, and Ponzi schemes, when their religious teachings preach a clear message of racism and hatred of the other---and just about everyone is the other-- and when their numbers swell in prisons coast to coast, when they innovate but claim history is on their side, when they rewrite history itself, when they change the immutable, when they discriminate against the daughters of fellow religious Jews just because of their skin color or nationality, when they throw their weight around and cynically take over institutions not their own, like the Chief Rabbinate, when they act as slumlords and dont provide heat and instead attempt to drive tenants out, when they abuse MOFAIS (Medicaid, WIC, Food Stamps and Section 8 Housing), when they buy AC units by the hundreds at the beginning of the summer only to return them at the end of summer, since Walmart is just a big gemach, when their own children are sexually molested by rabbis but never believed, when the criminal acts are covered up by other rabbis, when victims' parents are threatened with physical harm, expulsion of their children, excommunication and sometimes driven out for going to the proper authorities to bring criminal charges against the rapists, when they erase the faces of women in their media and attempt to erase them from the public square, when they forbid women to vote, then cynically realize that would double their voting bloc, so they then turn on a dime and conveniently allow it, when they claim "kol kvoda bas melech pnima"/"the great glory of the Jewish daughter is inside, not out in the world, but then make an about face and force their daughters into that very world to support their husbands, all the while forbidding them to attain most advanced-degree subjects and professions, when a community refuses to work, or serve in the Jewish army in a
    Jewish country---miraculously created but denied or ignored by that community-- which is constantly under threat and attack, when that same group exhibits no respect for secular authority and its laws and riots at the drop of a hat, when it scams, cheats, lords over, feels the need to take over and run everything because of their superior lifestyle, WHEN A GROUP OF JEWS BEHAVE LIKE THAT, BY THE THOUSANDS, FOR DECADES, WE HAVE TO CALL THEM OUT, like the prophets of old, or we are not learning anything from Jewish history. Not for nothing did Isaiah call our religious leaders back in the day "leaders of Sodom" and "captains of Gomorrah." When you victimize the victim, you are exhibiting the traits of Sodom and Gomorrah. it's high time we have a no-holds-barred discussion of this immoral behavior presented as the ultimate in Jewish practice, and expose it for the fraud it really is. Sorry we will lose you, julianfamily. Leave the important stuff to the grownups.

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    1. 2nd the applause. Great post.

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    2. WADR, their own leaders have to call them out. There is no value to tokhachah (rebuke, moral instruction) that won't be listened to, and in fact it's prohibited to try.

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    3. @zfriend thank you for channeling Failed Messiah http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/

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    4. Charedim actually have a disproportionately low prison rates. We mustn't generalize and condemn all Charedim even though we may criticize their derech. Your post paints a falsely dim picture.

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  11. When I was in YU, I recall having several conversation with Rabbi Carmy on this issue. At one point, he basically told me that what is really important is focusing on your relationship with Hashem, and the duties that you have. From that point on, he basically stopped answering my questions on Hareidim.

    WIth that, what is the message that you are trying to articulate in these two blog postings?

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  12. There is a gigantic gulf between two major camps of Orthodox/religious Jews and it is the elephant in the room that is not really addressed in discussions about the values of the different camps. (Yoav Sorek discusses this to some extent in his book [Hebrew] "Ha Brit HaYisraelit").
    One says the world and everything that happens in it is basically an illusion and everything that happens in it is merely a test of our emunah. Extreme examples are the comment someone make after the 9/11 attacks who had worked in the World Trade Center but managed to escape..."the lesson is that we should give more tzedakah" (not that there is anything wrong with this but there was also a need to fight a war against Muslim terrorism). A modern version of this is that Israel doesn't need an army, what we all need to do to protect it is to get all of us to learn another blatt gemara instead of joing the IDF. Or even more extreme is the view that we don't need Israel at all. Ultimately, the only reality is olam haba and we must all be fixated on that all the time.
    The other side says what goes on in THIS WORLD is important, we operate on the laws that apply here, we try to make the world better and that creating a better society is the goal of the Torah and this itself opens the portal to olam haba. Yoram Hazony's book on the Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture elucidates this point of view very well.
    The first is certainly easier, it removes a lot of responsibility from the shoulders of the individual Jew and it is not surprising that this is quite popular today, as opposed to 100 years ago where antisemitism and poverty plagued much of the Jewish world and many Jews despaired of the religious world that frequently didn't provide any answers to their distress or hope for a better future.
    Today, the modern welfare state and the prevailing post-Modernist philosophy in the surrounding society extols "exotic" religions and lifestyles and which proclaims that reality is whatever you want it to be has given individual Jews a cushion from true reality and thus attracts many to the first school of thought.
    In any event, I find advocates of two philosophies don't really share a common philosophical language and end up talking past one another.

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  13. "I tried to explain that in our view,...contributing towards the nation/economy,...are really, really important,"

    The idea that when professionals contribute to Israel's economy they are fulfilling a Mitzvah is really the opinion of the Chasam Soffer, as has been pointed out previously on this blog. But, would the majority of poskim redefine the Mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael in such a way?

    "from Hashem's perspective as well as our own"

    Shouldn't our perspective be guided by that of God's?

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    1. Surely that's the whole point? Who knows what His perspective or desires are?

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    2. Doesn't Yahadus teach that Hashem wants us to follow His Perspective as we can derive it from His Torah? In a meta-sense, that's His real Perspective.

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    3. shiv'im panim l'torah...............

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  14. It is hilarious how this Rabbi or that group claims to be telling us what G-D wants from us or intends how we should behave or believe, as if he/they have a telephone connection with G-D. Reminds one of the debate as to how many angels fit on the head of a pin.

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  15. There was a time - as little as 50 years ago - when non-religious Jews would freely acknowledge that more orthodox Jews were better Jews than themselves. It was common to hear older reform Jews, completely irreligious, say that it you want something done properly Jewish, go to a rabbi with a beard. You don't hear that anymore. Why?

    Not so much because of orthodox scandals (which, outside of the fantasy Internet world, hasn't really made too much of an impact on anything.)
    Not so much because of education, or Jews becoming aware that charedim have also evolved over the centuries, and that there have always been observant and non-observant Jews.
    But simply because of apathy, indifference, and overall ignorance. Irreligious Jews today, the many exceptions aside, are so far removed from Judaism, that they don't care enough to think about it, and they don't even *know* anymore what's inauthentic and what isn't. ?אם אין דעת הבדלה מנין

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    1. In Israel, it was common decades ago for militant non-religious Jews to proudly say the while they would eat on Yom Kippur they would be careful to speak grammatically correct Hebrew while ridiculing religious Jews who didn't or who prided themselves on their comprehensive knowledge of TANACH and thus claim they were "better Jews". As DF points out, today there is basically nothing more than indifference by the non-religious to these questions and they are willing to leave "Judaism" to the Orthodox/religious. This does not mean they don't want the Orthodox around, they often are glad to have someone be religious for them, but they don't feel they have to prove that they are "just as Jewish".

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    2. @DF - "There was a time - as little as 50 years ago - when non-religious Jews would freely acknowledge that more orthodox Jews were better Jews than themselves."

      I was around back then and it depends. Some or perhaps most people raised Orthodox and who left it may have believed like you say. But other "Non Orthodox" denominations for the most part did not think like that to the best of my recollection.

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    3. @DF I suggest you read up on the evolution of "Judaism" from ancient Israel to modern times. It has changed enormously in the past 3000 years or so and is still changing. For example Rambam was greatly influenced by Greek philosophy and all but turns Moshe into a sort of super Plato/Aristotle.

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    4. it's hard for me to read any of your comments, your vulgar moniker/handle gets in the way. I sincerely suggest you use something less distasteful.

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    5. @DF Ok - Do you mean change Alter Cocker to Old and Cranky ? Rather than call my title vulgar and distasteful maybe you should open your mind a bit and become more accepting of people with different views. We can learn from everybody.

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    6. I'm not sure if that's true; but if it is, than that is a giant failure of Orthodoxy if it couldn't take advantage of that.

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  16. For the record, there are more than three groups in Israel. Perhaps the largest group, or second largest very close behind chilonim, are masoratim (not to be confused with the Conservative movement, which calls itself something similar in Hebrew). These can be defined in any number of ways, but the simple fact is that they are not, strictly speaking, "dati" (although they can be very religious), but are certainly not chiloni as well. Without considering this group, one misses out on a major part of the religious dynamic in Israel.

    In fact, both chilonim and masoratim are now further subdivided in current polling- the latter into "religious masorati" and plain "masorati," and the former into "anti-religious chiloni" and plain "chiloni". In fact, "anti-religious chiloni" accounts for a very, very small number of Israeli Jews, and the dividing line between plain "chiloni" and "masorati" can be very, very blurred at time, just as the line between masoratim and datiim (and even datiim and charedim) can be.

    Two friends of ours are a mixed couple- she's religious, he's very proudly secular. My wife once made an offhand comment that no one in Israel- certainly no one in Jerusalem- is really secular. The secular half of the couple took offense at this, but you just have to talk to him for a bit to realize that he's really part of that great spectrum.

    Anyway, not directly related to this post, but I had to point it out.

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    1. There are also a lot of chilonim who keep many mitzvos - kosher, partial Shabbos, davening, etc.

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    2. Yes, that's why I said the line is blurred.

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  17. Y. Ben David:

    There is a gigantic gulf between two major camps of Orthodox/religious Jews and it is the elephant in the room that is not really addressed in discussions about the values of the different camps. (Yoav Sorek discusses this to some extent in his book [Hebrew] "Ha Brit HaYisraelit").
    One says the world and everything that happens in it is basically an illusion and everything that happens in it is merely a test of our emunah.
    [...]
    The other side says what goes on in THIS WORLD is important, we operate on the laws that apply here, we try to make the world better and that creating a better society is the goal of the Torah and this itself opens the portal to olam haba. Yoram Hazony's book on the Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture elucidates this point of view very well.


    This distinction is not so clear cut. Where do you put the RZ like Rav Avraham Shapira who risk a civil war by telling soldiers to disobey orders because they believe God has commanded that no land can be given up? WADR, that seems to me to be a dangerous lack of concern about how this world operates.

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    1. While it is true that the RZ world now has a part of it going in the direction of the first group I described, i.e. the passive line that the world is basically just an illusion in which they add two mitzvot beyond those the Haredi observe which is serving in the IDF and building settlements...many of those who supported "seruv pekudah" (refusal to participate in the destruction of Gush Katif) did so for clearly "this world" political reasons. I know a young woman soldier who was not religious who went to jail because she refused to participate in it.

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    2. Or an extremely practical one. How about that?

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    3. Y. Ben-David: Then I think we agree on this. I don't fault any individual who follows their conscience, especially at a price, to avoid what they perceive to be "doing evil". That is different from encouraging mass refusal of orders based on a "Mitzvah" never to give up land.

      Nachum: As I mentioned, Rav Shapira didn't object based on practicality, which is exactly Y. Ben-David's distinction. Nevertheless, I'll say that there was little to no practical benefit to keeping settlements in the midst of enemy territory. If you want to say that continued military occupation may have been better practically, you might have an argument, but trying to protect Gaza settlements against missiles and then tunnels is not practical in any way. IMO,

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    4. The Gaza settlements weren't at risk from tunnels and missiles, a risk which became real only after they were abandoned. A logical thinker would wonder if there was a cause and effect, and whether perhaps civilian as well as military occupation can help in defense.

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  18. I think a lot of that perception has to do with what happens when a person's heart isn't really in it.

    If a Charedi is just going through the motions, at least his motions look religious: he's still wearing the full black garb, still going to his learning seder, still keeping the mehadrin hechsherim.

    When a DL guy isn't "holding", well, he already dresses pretty much like a chiloni, his davening is rushed, nobody notices if he's learning after work, and he's eating pretty much anything. Women will push the envelope of what exactly is considered acceptable practice in dress, women's minyanim, singing & dancing in public etc. And since the DL leadership doesn't make a big deal about these things it seems like tacit acceptance.

    So yes, it does seem to the untrained eye that Charedim are "frummer" than Da"lim, because the external trappings look more religious. And the shita that going to work is davka the ratzon Hashem is unfortunately not being supported by a concomitant and visible commitment to learning sedarim, or taking davening seriously (like not finishing amida in 3 minutes flat). Obviously this is a gross generalization, and there are obviously individuals who differ from the rule, but if you look at the mean davening times for DL shuls versus the times for Charedi shuls, there's a gulf of difference.

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    1. It's really, really easy to take your time in tefilla when you don't have somewhere to be afterwards. Three minutes for amida actually seems like more than enough for me. You try going to a 6:00 minyan when you have to be in an office in another city by 8:30. It's kind of snide to take advantage of a system that allows you a life of leisure (yes, I know, learning is hard, blah blah) and then blame those who don't.

      And that's just one of your gross misstatements. Here's another: A DL guy will eat "pretty much everything" because most things in Israel have a hechsher. Not up to your standards? Well, those are your standards. There's nothing wrong with his frumkeit.

      "Dressing like a chiloni"? What's wrong with dressing like everyone else? He wears a kippa and tzitzit. You think that's not enough? Well, those are your standards. There's nothing wrong with dressing like everyone else.

      Define "DL leadership," by the way.

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    2. I think it is also a result of the fact that there are many members of MO communities who are really not completely committed to standard Orthodox practice - so the "average" level of shmiras hamitzvos in the community as a whole goes down.

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    3. @Nachum, I think you misunderstood me, plus you attributed things to me that I didn't say. Let me try restate myself more clearly.

      I don't have any problem with people who eat Rabbanut, or who daven quickly. All kosher Yidden and I love them all. I do not wear the black and white uniform either, and I consciously choose to dress in a way that does not put up barriers between me and others (though I do try to be makpid on looking dignified even if I'm wearing a multicolored checked shirt).

      The point I'm trying to make is that it's a lot more difficult for a working man to keep a G-d consciousness in his life, because he is so absorbed in the secular world from day to day. I 100% agree with Rav Slifkin that the person who successfully harmonizes the spiritual and the physical is a giant among men. But the risk is also greater when you take this path, because it's so easy to become ensnared by the physical until the spiritual is basically lip service. The examples I bring of rushed davening, low commitment to kvias ittim latorah, lax dress codes etc. are not necessarily signs of someone whose heart isn't in it, but there's a high correlation. If that were just on an individual level, that would be one thing, but from what I've seen across the general non-Charedi spectrum (to lump MO and DL together), there's again a very strong correlation that their communities seem to hold these practices as the norm. I don't have a problem with the existence of speed minyanim; as you point out, some people need these as a matter of practicality. But I would have expected that somewhere out there would be a non-Charedi minyan that finishes shacharis in somewhat more than 25-30 minutes. I don't know of any. I find myself shocked at the kind of clothes that are acceptable for people to come to shul in. Of course, I'm happy that they are coming to shul, but it strikes me as pretty disrespectful when people turn up to an audience with the King of Kings in slops, shorts and a torn T-shirt.

      On the other hand, I go to a mostly Charedi shul where most of the members are working men. They also have to commute to work, spend time with their families, etc. but they can find time to spend an extra 2 minutes on an amida that isn't just about discharging an obligation, and they make time for night seder even when they're wiped out from a hard day of actual productive endeavor.

      I actually consider myself a religious Zionist, in the most literal sense of the words, and I aspire to that harmony between the physical and the spiritual. I would naturally gravitate to a DL community, but I rather associate with a more Charedi community. The DL really could take the moral high ground, as Rav Slifkin says, but in order to do so, it has to demonstrate that it is committed both in word and deed to high spiritual standards as well as to mitzvos bein adam l'chavero.

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    4. DLZ, that's true in all communities. However, it is easier to go unnoticed in a community that has a uniform and jargon as part of the price of membership. Someone with a black fedora, suit, and white shirt who happens to have "went to the other shul" regardless of which shul you went to <grin>, is not suspected as rapidly of being merely "O-lite".

      Playing the game of listing which mitzvos the O-lite Jew is more likely to drop based on which community he is trying to conform to is silly, and basically speaks more to stereotypes than anything else. For that stereotypical DL guy who eats non-mehadrin and doesn't care about the historical reliability of a given city's rabbinate, there is the chareidi who doesn't report the majority of his income, who avoided the draft by signing up with a yeshiva that he did not actually attend fulltime, etc...

      Every derekh has its weaknesses, and the weak will end up living to them.

      But they all have their strengths as well, and provide opportunities for different target audiences to best reach their spiritual potential. Otherwise, we would all be forced to join the one working derekh, and there wouldn't have been a bas qol declaring that they're all Divrei Elokim Chaim.

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    5. Oh, and Nachum, it's not "really, really easy to take your time in tefilla when you don't have somewhere to be afterwards." It is easier, which is really all you needed to say to make your point.

      But the person standing there, even if he has nowhere else to go, still has to have the patience for it. Tefillah has to matter enough, whether as prayer or as a price of social membership, to hold that many man-hours of attention. In particular, for someone taught that Torah is learning and 612 other mitzvos, learning to relate to a text that says nothing you didn't see yesterday (and much of it you saw just a few hours ago) is difficult.

      If any of you figured out a way out that hole, kindly share suggestions.

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    6. Plain Vanilla Jew - your perceptions are colored by your prejudices. While you express shock at the clothes mizrachi people come to shul in, a more objective person would think the opposite. Or is dressing in the same discolored white shirt, often hanging out, shiny pants that haven't been pressed in months, mismatched old-suit-jacket-cum-blazer worn regardless of pants color, and long out of style hat perched on the back of the head, brim up, any better than crocks and new York rangers jerseys?

      I appreciate your measured response above, in the spirit of Mishlei 15:1 and Koheles 9:17. My point is that despite your efforts, you too are prey to stereotypes and prejudices that you may not even be aware of. We all are. Me too.

      (As for various minyanim speed, you just have to be exposed to more minyanim. In my city, the fastest minyan in town isn't the 6.40 am MO one. It's the 6:00 am yeshivah/chassidish one. They are like greased lightning. Entire Chazaras Ha-shatz, post kedusha, cant be much longer than 90 seconds.)

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    7. Plain Vanilla-
      It is interesting that I found that Shabbat is more meaningful to me as a working person than it was when I was in yeshiva.

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    8. Y. Ben-David: There's a chassid in the documentary "A Life Apart" who makes that same point. Without six days of work, Shabbat loses some meaning.

      Micha: Yes, you are right. More than time is needed, but time is a good thing to have.

      Plain Vanilla: Just one observation: I find it interesting that you use language of the MO/DL Jew who "loses it" because he has no time, as the same language is used to *justify* the charedi Jews who drop out- risk losing 999 for the 1 gadol who might emerge, etc. (Oddly, he doesn't seem to have.)

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    9. @DF: I'm the first to admit that everyone has prejudices (and therefore there's no such thing as a "more objective person", but that's a tangential discussion). If anything, my political views regarding Zionism and the ideal balance in life between working and learning should have inclined me to see Religious Zionism (this time capitalized) as the ideal way of life. Indeed, I have plenty of critique for the Charedi world that is unnecessary to share here. But when I take a step back and assess who has got the stronger sense of being ovdei Hashem as an overall score, I have to admit that the Charedim come out on top.

      I wish that Religious Zionism in general took itself more seriously. There's a gulf of difference between balanced Judaism and watered down Judaism. Religious Zionism should be pursuing the former with vigor, passion and enthusiasm; only then can it take the moral high ground. The prevalent standards of this community are not exactly aligned with this. I do not see the connection between working for a living and supporting the Medina - and allowing your children almost unfettered access to the Internet, piping the shmutz of TV and movies into the heart of your living room, pushing the boundaries of tznius, treating tefilla as a tax to be paid in the quickest time possible, etc. I don't deny that there are plenty of exceptions to the rule, but playing the game of probability, I send my children to Charedi schools, because I prefer the odds they offer on instilling them with a deep ahavas Hashem and yiras Shamayim. Yes, im ein kemach, ein Torah, but don't forget the second half: im ein Torah, ein kemach.

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    10. @Nachum, I didn't understand your comment: "I find it interesting that you use language of the MO/DL Jew who "loses it" because he has no time, as the same language is used to *justify* the charedi Jews who drop out- risk losing 999 for the 1 gadol who might emerge, etc. (Oddly, he doesn't seem to have.)"

      Where did I say anyone "loses it" because he doesn't have time, and what exactly is the analogous argument on the Charedi side?

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    11. Mr. Plain, I agree with almost everything you write, and sociologically am in a very similar place. Maybe we should start a shul of 2!

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    12. @PVJ: My Modern Orthodox shul has two weekday Shacharit minyanim. One at 6:45 that does go very fast as you described and one at 8:00am that is largely attended by retirees and takes 45 minutes to an hour depending on whether there's leining that day.

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    13. Some thoughts the topic of morning minyan in the MO/DL world:

      Rambam, in Hilchot Tefillah, Chapter 2, Halacha 2 writes:

      In each Shemoneh Esreh, every day, a person should recite these nineteen blessings in the proper order. When does the above apply? When his concentration is not disturbed and he is able to read fluently. However, if he is distracted and bothered, or unable to pray fluently, he should recite the first three [blessings], one blessing that summarizes all the intermediate ones, and the last three [blessings], and [thereby] fulfill his obligation.

      Rambam seems to have understood that someone who is under duress to get to work on time wouldn't be able to focus on the amida, as we see is the case in many synagogues where the majority go to work, and provided for an abridged amida. Further, if you look at his seder tefillah, you can see how what's part of a modern siddur's weekday Shacharit service is much, much longer. In many shuls today, beyond what's part of the seder of Shacharit in the siddur, we add a few paragraphs of tehillim at the end.

      Over time, our tefillot, (Ironically, Shacharit more so than others) have suffered from "feature creep". I think there are many in the MO/DL that would be interested in seeing DL/MO shul that offers a slower pace, but reduced content Shacharit minyan on weekdays - prioritizing quality over quantity. However, it would require an MO/DL rabbi that was willing to make this call, and not be intimidated by criticism from right wing circles that they are uprooting tradition.

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    14. Even in charedi communities, the tefillah can be rushed--it depends on urgency, not philosophical outlook. I once asked a Rav of mine about saying the kaddishim at the end of Shacharis, since I encountered some shuls where they put a strict limit on them: if no one has a yahrzeit, they would allow 1 קדיש יתום (otherwise, you might be saying three: one after שיר של יום, one after לדוד ה' אורי, and one after עלינו). My Rav quipped, "People don't care so much about when the minyan begins; they are interested in when it finishes." In all communities, it's not uncommon to have minyanim that adjust the starting times on Monday, Thursday and Rosh Chodesh in order to always finish the same time.

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    15. Vanilla: I was referencing the well-known point from R' Dessler that it's OK if the charedi system causes the 999 out of 1,000 people who are not suited for it to drop out, because we're trying (fruitlessly, as it turns out) to find that one gadol.

      Your argument is that because of the lack of time or whatever, MO/DL may drop out. I was pointing out that dropping out- in much larger numbers- seems to be OK for charedim.

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  19. I agree with Rav Carmy.
    Who cares what he thinks of me? or of what I think of him? This is not a popularity contest, our avodas hashem is based on getting closer to hashem and refining our midos. All else is hogwash!!!

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  20. Regarding the gulf I see between the two worlds present with the Orthodox/relgious community and the lack of communication between them, I saw a piece by Rav Adlerstein over at Cross-Currents decrying the increased tendency to erase women from the public realm in the Haredi world. He quotes an anonymous Hasid from Ramat Beit Shemesh who agrees those who are erasing women from photographs are "going too far" and he asks "what does the halacha say? If it is permitted for a man to see a photograph with a woman in it why are they eradicating them". While it is true the two worlds within the Orthodox/religious community accept normative halacha, this Haredi fellow doesn't seem to perceive the answer which is staring him in the face....the fact that he has to be anonymous shows he is not willing to rock the boat and confront the "extremists" directly with his halachic question. After all, if he says anything he will be blackballed , his children thrown out of school and no one FROM HIS COMMUNITY will agree to marry them. This shows that, deep down, he thinks they are right and he values their opinion more than he really cares about 'the halacha'. Further, where does the halacha says he has to wear his black-coated uniform? Halacha says you can wear a kippah serugah. Halachal also says one does not have to eat all the mehadrin food he insists on. So why is it he goes beyond halachic norms? Because his religious leaders say he should, for whatever reasons. In the end that is more important than "the basic halacha". If he religious leaders are now saying women should be erased from photographs, he should accept that as well along with all the other strictures he doesn't have a problem with.
    We see here all the time complains by Haredim who are afraid to identify themselves about the increasing strictures the Haredi community is imposing. I frankly don't have much sympathy for them because if they still want to be accepted, they are just going to have to accept what the leadership decides for them. The history of the last century shows that the extremists usually end up winning out in the Haredi community. There is no real hope for a "moderate" Harediism to succeed because even if a Haredi decides to be more moderate and to to try to teach his children to think like him he still has to send his children to Haredi schools and there is no doubt they will receive an opposite message from at least some of the teachers and their fellow students. They will then be forced into having to decide between "moderate" Abba and Eema or the Rabbinic leaders who teach the opposite. This is simply pushing the conflict on to the next generation.

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    1. How does the communal pressure prove he believes it? I'd think the opposite was true.

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  21. It is interesting that your post referred to Dati leumi Jews, but many of the comments talked about Modern Orthodoxy.

    I think that one of the problems with Modern Orthodoxy in America is that in many cases it does define itself as "less-religious" than Charedi Judaism; in America, the differences between MO and Charedi Judaism is that the former often are less careful in Mitzva Obersvance. As far as I understand, it is common in the US to have Charedi teachers or Rabbis in MO schools or shuls.

    In Israel, the difference between Dati Leumi and Charedi is not based on which miztvot the Dati Leumi ignore, it is what mitzvot the Chredim ignore (Serving in the army, supporting a family, etc). The schools that I send my children to reflect my values: careful mitzva observance, including mitzvot that are not convenient like army service, or supporting agricultural institutions during Shmitta.

    They would never take a Rabbi who compromises his commitment to Halacha by avoiding the army, or encouraging his children to learn in kollel full time.

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  22. A Rav of mine once said that his father allowed him to choose any derech in Yiddishkeit that appealed to him. He chose the Litvish community, because he felt that, if Torah is what has maintained Judaism over this long golus, he should be with the community that puts the strongest emphasis on learning Torah. In my own observations, there is a certain prestige associated with the Litvish yeshivos and kollelim. Despite the fact that I'm part of a Chabad community, the majority of Rabbonim and משפיעים with whom I am familiar have spent at least some time learning in Litvish institutions: Mir, Telz, Kollel Chazon Ish, even Ponovezh. I think that it's praiseworthy that they have developed such institutions. I don't think it would have happened if they didn't have such an interpretation of "Torah for Torah's sake".

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    1. "if Torah is what has maintained Judaism over this long golus"

      If.

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    2. I need to point out that the original Mir and Telzh were philosophically Mussar, not Yeshivish. With a distinctly different interpretation of "Torah for Torah's sake".

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    3. @Nachum--What do you suggest has kept the Jews Jewish over the ages? I grew up using the Philip Birnbaum siddur (Artscroll was just getting started at that time). He writes in the introduction of his translation of the siddur, that perhaps the siddur has been more influential than even the Chumash in keeping people observant--since even the simplest person would still pray, even though he might not know pshat of the Chumash.

      I've heard it said in the name of Spinoza, or Kant (I'm sure someone on this blog can correct me), that anti-Semitism has helped preserve Judaism, because without it, Jews would have assimilated long ago.

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    4. Yehudah, I found this in Alan Dershowitz's "The Vanishing American Jew":

      Many Jewish leaders, both religious and secular, have argued that Jews need enemies--that without anti-Semitism, Judaism cannot survive. Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism and a secular Jew, believed that "our enemies have made us one ... It is only pressure that forces us back to the parent stem." In a prediction that reflects an approach to the survival of Judaism strikingly similar to that of the founder of the Lubavitch Hasidim, Herzl warned that if our "Christian hosts were to leave us in peace ... for two generations," the Jewish people would "merge entirely into surrounding races." Albert Einstein agreed: "It may be thanks to anti-Semitism that we are able to preserve our existence as a race; that at any rate is my belief." Jean-Paul Sartre, a non-Jew, went even further, arguing that the "sole tie that binds [the Jewish people together] is the hostility and disdain of the societies which surround them." He believed that "it is the anti-Semite who makes the Jew."

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    5. @Micha--thank you for the reference from Alan Dershowitz. Rabbi Slifkin has had several posts about the irrationality of anti-Semitism (here's one: http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2012/11/drawing-strength-from-blood-libels.html), but I think this is the first time I have seen this quote about how it has "helped" preserve Judaism.

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  23. I think that one of the problems with Modern Orthodoxy in America is that in many cases it does define itself as "less-religious" than Charedi Judaism; in America, the differences between MO and Charedi Judaism is that the former often are less careful in Mitzva Obersvance. As far as I understand, it is common in the US to have Charedi teachers or Rabbis in MO schools or shuls.

    I think that you are making a good distinction, but I would say (without a ton of evidence) that both DL in Israel and MO in US incorporate a larger range of Mitzvah observance levels that you will find in the Charedi groups (at least outwardly). And historically the MO in the US were associated with "laxer" observance. One can argue that this is a feature and not a bug, since it allows a larger number of people to stay in the Orthodox camp. Maybe analogous to Sephardim.

    However, the hiring of Charedi teachers and Rabbis in MO is probably more related to economics than anything else. It is very hard to have an MO lifestyle with a teachers salary and to the degree that the MO send their kids for advanced degrees, they are less likely to become teachers. In Israel, the state supported education and other circumstances alleviate this to some degree.

    Also agree that there is probably a righter right wing of DL in Israel than MO in US. You won't find large MO group that have the right-wing dress rules of the DL like no Shaytls.

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    1. Wigs? If wigs (in a widespread sense) are recent innovation, you don't need a rule against them.

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    2. You mean that since they are a recent innovation, there was no specific prohibition, and therefore they must be permitted? I don't think that everyone agrees.

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    3. No, I meant that since they're recent, not everybody adopted them, so the fact that many DL don't wear them isn't a sign that there is an actual ban.

      There is certainly a social stigma against them, but I think that's at least partially because charedim wear them. I remember the outcry when Tzipi Hotovely began wearing one after she got married. :-)

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    4. No, I meant that since they're recent, not everybody adopted them, so the fact that many DL don't wear them isn't a sign that there is an actual ban.

      Thank you that makes more sense.

      There is certainly a social stigma against them, but I think that's at least partially because charedim wear them. I remember the outcry when Tzipi Hotovely began wearing one after she got married. :-)

      I believe that the RZ poskim don't allow it.

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    5. I don't know if it's a unified RZ approach. I have no idea who Hotovely follows.

      That said, the "outcry" tended to be good-natured. I disapprove much more whenever a picture comes out of her shaking some diplomat's hand (she is acting foreign minister, after all) and there are all these ignorant comments about negiah.

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    1. You seem to be saying that you don't agree with the RZ because you are either anti-Zionist or azionist. Not sure what confusion you've identified.

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    1. The Jews are a NATION and the Torah is our CONSTITUTION. This is the way Am Israel was fashioned. On the one hand, everyone is bound by the laws of that constitution, whether they like it or not, or whether they are even aware of it or not. On the other hand. all members of that nation are bound together even if they disagree about those laws. Non-religious Jews are an inseparable part of this nation. Religious Jews can not go around pretending that they don't exist and act as if they don't care about them....and I mean that doing hesed for them while praiseworthy, is not enough in and of itself. This is the big difference between Israel and the US. In Israel the whole nation is involved in national decisions and thus non-religious Jews have input on policies taken regarding all members of that nation INCLUDING THE HAREDIM. In the US, many Haredim pretend that there are no non-religious Jews and act as if they don't exist and some will claim that for this reason it is better to live in the US rather than in Eretz Israel. The only problem is that this is NOT how the Torah views the Jewish nation. Whereas we look forward to the time when ALL Jews will observe the Torah we have to accept that currently whereas all Jews in Israel observe at least part of the Torah (e.g. performing the mitzvah of living in Eretz Israel, serving in its defense forces, paying taxes some of which goes to support religious services and Torah study, giving religious Jews autonomy in education, personal status, etc) and so we can not simply ignore their views. Religious Zionism recognizes this situation. The Haredi world has great difficulties with this outlook but is slowly coming around to accomodating this reality and so even the Haredim can not use their view of the Torah as the final arbiter regarding national policy.

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    2. Well, of course. And non-charedim have no problem saying that there are things that are good that can be taken from the outside world.

      In any event, nationalism is very much a part of Judaism. Just because it was "discovered" in Europe in the 19th Century doesn't mean it's not much older.

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    4. Avi from TIDE-
      I thought I made this clear but if it is not, what I mean is that the Torah's halachic system gives us the tools to accomodate the current situation in which non-Orthodox Jews are the majority. Examples are the Heter Mechira for Shmitta, the Heter Iska for the issur of ribit (interest on loans), mechirat hametz and, going back to the time of HAZAL, the Prozbul of Hillel HaZaken. I would include the new attempt to create an independent Rabbinical body that will taken a more open approach towards the giur of children of non-Jewish mothers (it would be preferable had the Chief Rabbinate gone this way, but they refuse, so the only choice is to support this new initiative....otherwise the pressure will keep building to abolish the Chief Rabbinate entirely).

      Thus, I believe my answer to your question is that indeed the Torah is the source, but it must be open to more flexible responses which we all know are indeed present and Talmidei Hachamim who really understand the situation in Israeli society can show us to to implement these flexible tools.

      As I stated, the Haredim also have learned to accomodate the non-religious majority reality as well. For instance, there are now demonstrations against opening business establishments in Jerusalem on Shabbat. In Tel Aviv far more businesses are open on Shabbat, but we don't see religious demonstrations against that. Why not? Isn't it just as bad in the cosmic spiritual sense for there to be hillul shabbat in Tel Aviv as in Jerusalem, but the demonstrators ignore it, so they have had to learn to accomodate the realisty no less than the DL's have.

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    5. Well, let's put it this way: Halakhically, Yeravam ben Nevat was a legitimate leader. He was also one of the biggest sinners of all time. Netanyahu is practically the Satmar Rebbe compared to him. (OK, Yiftach HaGiladi at least.)

      Now, what would account for Yeravam's status?

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    6. So when you, as a (presumably) RZ/ DL, make decisions about moral/ religious issues that involve the government in Israel, taking into account the situation as it is, do you:

      a. look ONLY to our Torah constitution for instruction; or,

      b. look to our Torah constitution for the most part, along with a bit of secular nationalist State allegiance, for instruction?

      I.e., does secular nationalist State allegiance factor in at all? Or not at all?


      Again, false choice. When you look to know when Shabbos starts on a cloudy day do you look only to the Torah for instruction or do you consult the "secular" nautical tables?

      Instead of speaking in at such a level of generality to be meaningless, could you give an example? For example, could you apply to your analysis to the Heter Mechirah dispute? In what way does the RZ position involve "secular nationalist State allegiance" and how does this allegiance go up against your view of the Torah?

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    8. Why don't you read the last line in the Rambam's introduction to Hilkhot Chanukah?

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    10. This is no false choice. I asked a simple question, which requires a "yes" or a "no" answer.

      Have you stopped beating your wife?

      After factoring in ALL relevant data, e.g. the fact that most Jews are non-observant; consulting "secular" nautical tables; for the post Shlomo HaMelech period, the fact that the Yeravam ben Nevat government was legitimized by the Navi and then became evil; etc. (by etc. I mean ALL such relevant data):

      This is not intelligible.

      Do you:

      a. look ONLY to our Torah constitution FOR INSTRUCTION; or,

      b. look to our Torah constitution for the most part, along with a bit of secular nationalist State values, FOR INSTRUCTION?


      Now you are repeating yourself with CAPS and adding the equally vague "FOR INSTRUCTION".

      I.e., do secular nationalist State VALUES affect your decisions or behavior at all? Or not at all?

      Lets see. The "SECULAR Zionist entity" prohibits murder and I don't murder. Does that make the answer yes or no?

      It's troubling to me that you sounded defensive, and could not bring yourselves to simply write, "No, secular nationalist State allegiance (or any other secular value) does not factor in AT ALL. Period." I'm hoping it was because my comment above was unclear.

      Whether or not you claim to be troubled by something in blog post comment is not correlated with any element of Judaism that I know about. But it would help if you could apply your analysis to the Heter Mechira dispute. I suspect that you have no actual system or analysis, so you can't.

      To me, this is as simple as asking whether you believe in two gods, or One; no need for an example. But again, I'm hoping your confusion was due to me being unclear, so I'll give you one.

      So now the RZ are polytheists?

      Is your Independence Day celebration:

      a. FUNDAMENTALLY, COMPLETELY different than it is to the non-observant? I.e. are you 100% giving thanks to G-d for a State that protects Jews and allows them to fulfill the commandment of living in Israel? Or,

      b. is there some secular nationalist State allegiance/ values mixed in, e.g. pride in the fact that we Jews finally have our State, and we can lift our heads up like all the other nations; and pride in a world-renowned powerful army, built up by our national talent for creativity and technology?


      More CAPS piled upon vagueness. What constitutes "FUNDAMENTALLY, COMPLETELY different"? Can you celebrate on the same day? Also, please prove why it needs to be different in they way that you say.

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  26. I find this whole debate about which "brand" is more religious than the other to be missing the point. Is the whole point of mitzvahs just to do them, are they an end in themselves? Rather, I think that they are a means to an end -- being close to Hashem, having a closer connection, having an awareness of His presence.

    Some people find that adding on layer after layer of stringencies does that, some people find struggling over a difficult Gemora does that, others find that trying to understand the nature of Hashem brings them closer and more aware, and for others, a more free-wheeling, emotional approach does it. Why can't we simply say to each other: "Well, that style doesn't do it for me, but if that is what moves you, knock yourself out and do your way the best way you know how." If a certain stringency is meaningful or important to me, then I should do it that way. If I am OK with a less stringent version, then that is what I should do. I don't think Hashem demands so many stringencies; they are a choice we make to suit ourselves.

    Stringencies are, in some ways, like bringing flowers to your wife. You never really have to do it as long you are basically holding up your end of the bargain we call a marriage. You bring flowers because you feel moved to go beyond the basics because of love and you want to show that she really is very important to you; it brings you closer to her. I don't think anyone can presume to tell anyone else how to love their spouse -- the two of you forge that relationship over time -- and I don't think anyone can tell you how to have a relationship with Hashem. But just like wise men can offer you some advice on how to have a strong marriage, wise men can suggest how to have a strong connection to Hashem. In the end, while it is a good idea to listen to wisdom, what you do and how you do it, is your decision.

    I don't think in terms of more or less (given that a person does the minimum shomer Shabbos, shomer mitzvot, but I find those criteria don't work in some cases), I think that there are simply more than one way to be a faithful Jew. If one way is actually better than another is only a judgement that Hashem is allowed to make. I think it is presumptuous for us to make that sort of judgement.

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  27. Not confused at all.

    Yet: Is this a religious brand of Zionism? Is this a religious group that has some allegiance to the secular State as such? Hard to know what the reality is. This is professed or rhetorical confusion at least.

    I believe that the Torah is the final arbiter of all moral and religious questions, as I'm betting you do as well.

    This statement is so general as to be useless to determine anything. But if you mean that morality can only be derived directly from Pesukim or some kind of Mesorah from Sinai, then this patently false for many reasons. The well known Gemara on Sanhedrin 74a that prohibits murder to save one's life is based simply on "Sevara". And of course, the "rationalists" maintain that studying, say, mathematics and logic is essential to understanding God. The Rama defended himself by saying that he only studied scientific topics on Shabbos, Yom Tov and Chol Hamoed when the masses go out on trips. The Gra is quoted as saying that one lacking in secular studies will lack in Torah knowledge 100-fold. Besides the fact that halacha is practiced in the real world so that ignorance of the world is ignorance of halacha.

    So to make sense of your statement you must have intended to include both common sense morality and math, which I think is totally fine, but perhaps was not your intention.

    There is a perception (maybe a false one) that RZ/ DL includes some elements of secular nationalism/ secular Zionism/ an allegiance to the secular State as such---whichever way you want to explain it.

    Again, I don't know what the word "secular" adds to your statement other than as a pejorative. I think that it's clear the RZ includes elements of nationalism Zionism (that what the Z stands for!) and allegiance to the state. To the degree that you define everything valuable as "Torah", then the fact that they value it means that it is not secular. And I assume that pretty much everyone has allegiance to the state besides the extreme elements of the Neturei Karta who will go and visit with the Iranians.

    If this perception is a true one, you can see why someone who believes that the Torah is the final arbiter of all moral and religious questions might have difficulty assimilating RZ/ DL doctrines and culture.

    Not really. Your logic seems to be the following:

    I value only that which I call Torah.
    They value that which I don't call Torah.
    Therefore they are wrong.

    A fancy way of saying that you are not RZ without really explaining anything.

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  28. One fact occurred to me today regarding this discussion: R' Aviner has explicitly said that charedim represent a more authentic form of Judaism than DL. So there does seem to be a serious strain of (seriously confused, in my opinion) even leaders who have this inferiority complex.

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    1. If R. Aviner said such a thing, his knowledge of history, and hence his judgment, cannot but be called into question. (I know Charedi rabbis say riddiculius things on a daily basis, but that community doesn't really have standards. I would think the religious Zionist community wouldn't tolerate someone paskening halacha who says something so silly.)

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    2. Yes, it was in one of his SMS teshuvot.

      Mind you, he thinks charedim are very wrong, almost sinful, on many issues, such as military service. But deep down, this seems to be what he believes- I think his exact words were something like, "They have been living the same way for 3,000 years" or something like that.

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  29. Avi from TIDE-
    It is interesting that you identify with "Torah Im Derech Eretz" because, after I read Prof Marc Shapiro's book on Rav Yehiel Yaakov Weinberg, I came to understand that TIDE in Germany meant a lot more than simply "secular studies" for parnasa or out of an individual's particular interest, it also meant adopting German nationalism and German culture. Thus, not only did one study Torah, but one also would study Schiller and Goethe in depth as well. Dr Yitzhak Breuer who later grew disillusioned with German Neo-Orthodoxy and moved towards Zionism (which he called Torah Im Derech Eretz ISRAEL) as a youngster refused to sing German patriotic songs in his yeshiva. So I now think it is justified to ask YOU what the "pure Torah" values you are espousing really are, in light of TIDE's values.

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  31. Avi from BM of TIDE:

    All you've so far said is nonsense with CAPS. I request again that you analyze the Heter Mechira dispute using your "CAPS"-based analysis. If you can't then your model isn't worth dealing with.

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  32. Avi from TIDE-
    You said
    ---------------------------------------------
    'll just add here that I don't think any Torah-true Jew should have any allegiance to secular values or a secular State AS SUCH
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    As a professing follower of TIDE, does this mean that the Austritt/Separatist Orthodox Jews of Germany who invented TIDE were not following a "secular state" and its values when they sang German patriotic songs in their yeshivot and took time away from Torah in order to intensively study the works of Schiller and Goethe?

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    2. Ideally, these activities were performed as a fulfillment of, or in support of, Torah ideals

      This is weasel wording. Ideally, all of our activities are done with only pure intentions, while in practice, they are not, cannot be, and Jewish practices are based on this premise. This applies to everyone from all camps.

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  35. You can insult my writing if you want to---even add in immature, irrelevant comments about my use of CAPS for emphasis. It's a shame; having read some of your writings, I thought you were respectful of people, and that you were above this, even when you read writings that you found confusing or disagreed with. Guess I was wrong.

    My apologies. I try to be respectful to people, but not to really bad arguments. To be frank, your "argument" seems to be the following: "I don't know how these RZ can so obviously go up against the Torah" with a spice of condescension (maybe I just misunderstand them because they obviously can believe that could they)? And then you fail to actually analyze any dispute between the RZ and the Anti-Zionists like the Heter Mechira.

    The heter mechira is not relevant; both sides are based on Torah sources.

    In other words, your model of RZ = non-Torah is a failure because it doesn't match reality. Now take something else RZ and make your argument rather than simply making condescending statements towards others.

    There are Torah ideals. And there are non-Torah ideals.

    There are two ways to interpret this. Either it is an empty statement (there are "A's" and the there "Non-A's".) Or else you are asserting something about reality and what Torah ideals and non-Torah ideals are about. If so, what is your assertion?

    There is a perception, quite possibly a false perception, that RZ/ DL use mostly Torah ideals, but also a small percentage of non-Torah ideals, as part of their decision-making process.

    Again, you combine condescension and an empty argument. What decision, what ideal, and what evidence do you have that it is wrong?

    As an example, I gave the Independence Day celebration: “is there some secular nationalist State allegiance/ values mixed in, e.g. pride in the fact that we Jews finally have our State, and we can lift our heads up like all the other nations; and pride in a world-renowned powerful army, built up by our national talent for creativity and technology?”.

    Yes, I believe in the "secular nationalist State value" that murder is bad. What does that prove?

    To my reading of TaNach/ Shas etc., these are not Torah ideals. They count as “Kochi ViOtsem Yodi”, and “let us be like all the nations”. Meaning, even though we have all felt them at some time or another, they should not be celebrated, certainly not as part of an institutionalized holiday.

    Why should others base their decisions on your reading of TaNach and how would they even access that information if they wanted to? If you have an argument, then make it.

    Maybe you think that these feelings are perfectly acceptable according to Torah ideals. But for some of us, these feelings are hard to reconcile with Torah ideals. And that is why we have a hard time assimilating RZ/ DL doctrine and culture.

    As I said above, your argument is "I disagree with some feelings that I vaguely imagine that RZ has". Each group has trouble accepting the other''s world view, but what does that prove?

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    1. I disagree with 2. See http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2014/07/the-soldiers-are-really-doing-stuff.html

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    2. I really don't understand where these anti-Zionists got their ideology...it certainly isn't from a simple, pshat reading of the TANACH and Talmud. Somehow it isn't "frum' to have an army and security forces and to fight real-world wars, if necessary, just as Avraham Avinu, Moshe Rabbenu, Yehoshua, Devorah, Shaul HaMelech, David HaMelech, the Hashonaim (who are praised by the RAMBAM for doing so) and a host of others did, but it is super "frum' to show hakarat tov to an antisemite like Kaiser Wilhelm and to lay down one's life for him so that he can brag about having a lot of African colonies and the biggest navy in the world. That is frum, not fighting to protect Jews and Eretz Israel. Truly perverse!

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    3. There is so much non sequitur here that needs to be unpacked. I'll just do a few:

      "We perceive that some secular nationalist values are apparently celebrated by a significant number of RZ/ DL on Independence Day."

      1) The fact that something is a "secular nationalist value" doesn't prove that it is bad. The prohibition on murder is a "secular nationalist value". Please be more precise.

      2) If you disagreed with some of the values celebrated, that would not at all invalidate the celebration. Your approaches leads to the notion that the study in the Bais Midrash is bad because "haughtiness" and "pride in one's own intellect" is apparently celebrated by a significant number of those in the Bais Midrash. More generally, all celebrations involve some amount of "pride in self". The Talmud deals with the fact that very few can truly act "Lishmah". The answer is that we do what is right with our imperfect motivations and that will lead to greater purity of motivation.

      By your reasoning, I assume that you never attend a function in anyone's honor, since obviously this is an expression of “Kochi VeOtsem Yadi”.

      Also, you must not support this Hatzalah organization. Their tagline is "The next life we save could be yours" and the story is how their work saved a boy from choking. Maybe we can be melamed zchus on them that they it is OK to distort the Torah to raise money?

      3) This analysis is just silly and this is not the reason that the azionists and anti-zionists don't participate in Independence day celebrations. It is because, for a variety of reasons, they don't really think that the State is such a great thing to begin with. For many, we are better in the shtetl under a foreign government with mild oppression, while for others the settlement of the land by irreligious Jews is a tragedy. Others can't bring themselves to celebrate something that appeared to come about with the help of the irreligious. That is why they don't have their own separate celebrations with the "proper intentions" on any day of the year (if they have a halachic objection to establishing a new day).

      4) "pride in the fact that we Jews finally have our State, and that we can lift our heads up like all the other nations". According to one opinion in the Talmud, the difference between "now" and the Messianic days is precisely the restoration of Jewish sovereignty in Israel. So yes, the Torah says that this is a good thing. (And if you say, well that shouldn't be pride, but rather a pure submission to God, then the Bais Midrash is Pasul as stated above in point #2).

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    5. I also like your respectful tone, and the fact that you didn't attribute to me all kinds of extrapolations of my comments that I never intended; you simply addressed my honest questions directly.

      Avi, you cut me to the quick. But I'm forced to point out that what you call "extrapolations of my comments" is commonly referred to as examining the implications of your assertions. The fact that you don't accept these so-called "extrapolations" indicates a fatal weakness in your approach. Instead, you keep repeating the same argument in the same condescending manner, while demanding from others a respectful tone that you don't use yourself.

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    6. I also like your respectful tone, and the fact that you didn't attribute to me all kinds of extrapolations of my comments that I never intended; you simply addressed my honest questions directly.

      Avi, you cut me to the quick. But I'm forced to point out that what you call "extrapolations of my comments" is commonly referred to as examining the implications of your assertions. The fact that you don't accept these so-called "extrapolations" indicates a fatal weakness in your approach. Instead, you keep repeating the same argument in the same condescending manner, while demanding from others a respectful tone that you don't use yourself.

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    8. David, I apologize (again)---I should not have said anything that would cut you. Please again accept my apology.

      Don't sweat it. I wasn't serious.

      I'm as enthusiastic/ vehement in my core beliefs as you are in yours. Reading my comments again, I can see now why that might come off as condescension. I will try from now on to tone it down.

      1) Enthusiam/vehemence is often inversely proportional to rational conviction. IOW, to do the degree that we are honest about our convictions, we realize that the other guy's position might be right.

      2) That is not where the condescension lies. It lies in the form of argument: "A simple observation: some have the perception you that you are a fool. Is there any truth to this perception?". You assert the obvious truth of your pseudo-theory and then ask if it is possible that others have the temerity to disagree with your obviously correct position. That is condescension on steroids.

      There are no "implications to these assertions" because I was almost not asserting anything.

      Again: have you stopped beating your wife? I'm merely asking a yes/no question. What implication could there be?

      Aside from that, your "there is a perception" implies that what you describe underlies the azionist/anti-zionist position of a larger group that you imply that you are part of. I then subjected this to analysis and questioning which you ignore because all you seem to have are insults disguised as questions, with no discernible coherent position.

      If you have something to say about the azionism/anti-zionism see if you can use it actually analyze any real disputes between these groups.

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    11. The correct analogy was not "when did you stop beating your wife", but "some of us have the impression that you beat your wife, is this true"?

      We can agree on this. Your questions are on the same level as someone saying "some of us have the impression that you beat your wife, is this true". I'm not surprised if you think that you think that such a statement is reasonable, at least if it was not asked to you.

      In the meantime, you avoid all the false implications of your statements and all of the questions directed towards your position.

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    14. "Your questions are on the same level as someone saying "some of us have the impression that you beat your wife, is this true"."

      Yet another extrapolation.


      Yet you wrote:

      The correct analogy was not "when did you stop beating your wife", but "some of us have the impression that you beat your wife, is this true"?

      Quoting your own words is defined as 'extrapolation'. The mind boggles.


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    15. I intended my comments to be challenging, and to provoke a response, as is usual for this blog. Had I known that anyone would consider them to be defamatory, I never would have commented at all. To show that I mean this, I clicked “delete” on all of the relevant comments.

      I hope that this will be enough for you to let go of any hard feelings. Kesivah VaChasimah Tovah, I wish you all the best.

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    16. I intended my comments to be challenging, and to provoke a response, as is usual for this blog.

      You got some challenging responses.

      Had I known that anyone would consider them to be defamatory, I never would have commented at all.

      No one said they were defamatory, I (and this is just my opinion) thought that they were condescending and also that they weren't very good.

      There are no hard feelings.

      Just to answer some other things that you mentioned. No, I don't object to criticism of RZ. I have taken issue with the RZ approach identified with Rav Avraham Shapira which risks civil war in requiring soldiers to refuse orders to evacuate settlements. And I live in the US, so what kind of Zionist could I really be?

      Perhaps you could restate your criticism in one of the following ways:

      1) My non-RZ group creates their own independence day celebration [fill in some method] because we feel that the typical RZ method includes [fill in some aspects] which I don't agree with [fill in some reasons].

      OR

      2) I don't celebrate Indepdence day because [fill in disagreements].

      OR

      3) I think that most azionists or anti-zionists really would endorse many RZ practices except for [fill in this]. My evidence for this is [fill in evidence].

      Since you never really stated a position, it is hard to know which if any of the 3 you are arguing for, let alone what your argument is.

      Here is a sample: I strongly disagree with Rav Shapira's approach because it pursues and ideal with no correlation with reality. This is analogous the the Charedi torah only pursuit regardless of the consequences. The result is that in pursuing the principles, the objective is lost. Even if I agreed with RZ groups focus on the land, I would disagree with tactics, because the tactics don't actually get us any more land, but risk Jewish lives for an unattainable goal.

      Here's how not to say the same kind of thing:

      I agree with almost everything Rav Shapira's approach except for the small issue that it seems to be based on Zionism (which is obviously absurd). But perhaps I that is a misconception. Perhaps a Rav Shapira supporter can tell me whether or not the their philosophy includes the obvious defect (and who could argue that point?) of endorsing Zionism.

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  37. Avi from TIDE-
    Now you really have me confused. Celebrating Yom Ha'atzmaut and thanking G-d for our victories (we even do simulated "korbanot shelamim" when we due mangalim/bar-be-ques) is viewed by you as "compromising Torah and mixing it with secular nationalism", but singing German patriotic songs like "Deutchland Uber Alles" in a yeshiva is simply showing "hakarat hatov" to a group of goyim who didn't appreciate all our love for them. Do I have that right?
    How would you classify the "mesirut nefesh" of thousands of Orthodox German Jews who threw their lives away in the First World War so that the Kaiser could get over his inferiority complex about having fewer colonies in Africa and fewer battleships than the British? (Yes, I know they justified it to themselves by saying that they were going liberate the Jews of Eastern Europe from Czarist oppression, but we all know that didn't work out, after all the German army already showed its suspicion of the German Jews by ordering the "Jew Count" in the army in 1916 and by prohibiting Jews from the territory of their Austro/Hungarian ally into German territory).

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    1. Now you really have me confused.

      He doesn't have an actual argument, IMO.

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    3. Although this is not the place to discuss this, I will point out that Orthodox German Jews, just like the Reform got swept up into German nationalism/chauvinism and were largely anti-Zionist as a result. It is true that the Dreyfus Affair occurred in "liberal" France and not in Germany, and no one could have foreseen the Holocaust in 1914, but there were people who saw the situation in Germany was not good. I am currently reading Pulzer's book on the political history of the Jews in Germany and he points out neither the Kaiser nor the most of the mainline political parties would come out against the virulent antisemitism of Stoecker (sp?), Treitschke and others. I also am planning to read Prof Mordechai Breuer's book on the Orthodox Jews of Imperial Germany and he has a whole chapter on the German nationalism of the Orthodox Jews. I do recall that Rav Soloveitchik, who attended the Hildesheim Rabbinical Seminary while in Berlin had one of the Rabbis there say "I have more in common with at German goy than I do with a non-religious Polish Jew". I did see a quote from Breuer's book mentioning a Yom Kippur sermon of an Orthodox rabbi who said "We Orthodox Jews are better GERMANS than the Reform because we obey our (Jewish) laws".. The highest compliment!
      Many Jews, including the Orthodox/religious seem to be constantly looking for the big turning point in history when the non-Jews are finally going to come around to loving us and most Jews thought that had happened in Germany in 1869 when legal emancipation came (IIRC) and then with the establishment of the Weimar Republic which guaranteed full legal equality....but look how quickly it all turned to dust. The Holocaust did not occur in a vacuum as some people like Amos Elon believed (he thought it was some sort of historical accident) but someone really rooted in Jewish history, Jewish thought and Torah could see the good times in Germany couldn't last.
      Regarding Germany before World War I, you could read Barbara Tuchman's "The Guns of August" where she lays out the extreme militarism in Germany and its warmongering.

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