Thursday, August 4, 2016

Who Is Traditional?

Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer is a man on a mission: the delegitimization of anyone that he deems insufficiently Orthodox (on the left of the spectrum - he doesn't seem to care about much more significant deviations from Torah on the right of the spectrum). Superficially, he appears to devote himself solely to the excesses of Open Orthodoxy. However, when one reads his writings more carefully, it is clear that his worldview is essentially charedi, and he is actually working to delegitimize anyone outside of the charedi community, in effect if not in intent.

In the past, I have critiqued his defense of charedi publications not printing pictures of women, his fallacious claim about following Gedolei Hador being a defining feature of Orthodoxy, and his repeating the popular misconception that the traditional meaning of Torah lishmah meant study for the sake of study. But in the latest installment of his regular column, "Who Is Out Of Orthodoxy" "In And Out Of Orthodoxy," a passing comment of his reveals a much more egregious distortion.

Rabbi Gordimer refers to Lakewood as "the primary population base of Traditional (yeshivish/chareidi) Orthodoxy in America." He defines "traditional" as "yeshivish/charedi"! In other words, if you're not yeshivish/chareidi, you're not traditional!

"Traditional" Yemenite Jews
This is fundamentally mistaken. Let's ignore the fact that it is more accurate to describe Orthodoxy in general as traditionalist rather than traditional (as I discussed in my essay "The Novelty of Orthodoxy," the attempt to remain loyal to tradition in the face of the massive changes of the eighteenth century forced the creation of a new type of Judaism). Yeshivish/charedi Orthodoxy is certainly not "traditional" vis-a-vis non-yeshivish/chareidi Orthodoxy. The defining features of yeshivish/chareidi Orthodoxy - the dominant position of the yeshivah in the Jewish community, the authority of roshei yeshivah, the primacy of "book tradition" versus "living tradition," the phenomenon of mass kollel, and the enormous amplification of all the novelties of Orthodoxy itself - are not traditional in the least! (For extensive discussion, see my monograph "The Making Of Haredim.")

In another passing comment that reveals his true colors, Rabbi Gordimer describes Lakewood yeshivah as "the epicenter of Orthodoxy." That's as absurd as describing YU as the epicenter of Orthodoxy. You could describe YU as the epicenter of modern/centrist Orthodoxy, and you could describe Lakewood as the epicenter of North American litvishe charedi Orthodoxy, but to describe Lakewood as "the epicenter of Orthodoxy" reveals a severely distorted perspective.

I'm told that there are people in the Midwest who don't consider New York as being part of America. And, of course, there are people in New York who don't consider the Midwest as being part of America. There's a common tendency to overrate one's own preferred community. The way to avoid this mistake, in our case, is to open one's mind a little and study some Jewish history.

112 comments:

  1. Isn't Rabbi Gordimer from YU?

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    1. He attacks YU every now and then.

      Without exaggeration, there is a "yeshivish" contingent at YU who has convinced themselves that YU is some completely different, krum institution from the one they attend.

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    2. He is a breuer's yekke who happens to have gone to YU (wants a normal salary vs being poorly paid in the yrshivish tradition.)

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    3. He's a Breuer's Yekke BECAUSE he went to YU. He didn't grow up in Breuer's or indeed Washington Heights. He moved for YU and then the job and started going there.

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  2. in pure numbers, although i don't like his mccarthyism, isnt he right to say that of the average US orthodox type that is the biggest institution? are there more modox jews than american "charedi" jews?

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    1. The largest city in the world is not the epicenter of the world.

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    2. According to Wikipedia (always questionable, but still) the cities with the highest per capita Jewish population are Kiryas Yoel, followed by Beachwood, Ohio (a city/suburb near Cleveland.) Perhaps these are the epicenters of Jewish life in America.

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  3. Reb Nosson -

    With all due respect, I object to the caricature of R. Gordimer. I happen to know him somewhat, and find him to be a very intelligent and thoughtful man. He is an attorney, kashrus professional, and head of a family, among other things. Writing is not his f/t occupation. So if perhaps something in his writings is not totally clear to you, it may be that he just has no time to parse and review every single word one hundred times. You don't have to agree with him, but he has a right to an opinion, do you not agree?

    If you would meet him in person I think you would realize that the caricature here is just that.

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    1. "You don't have to agree with him, but he has a right to an opinion, do you not agree?"

      He has the right to an opinion, but I don't have to agree with him, do you not agree?

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    2. I'm sure Rabbi Gordimer differs from the impression one draws from an uncharitable review of his writings.

      After all, Open and Modern Orthodox leaders differ enormously from the impression Rabbi Gordimer draws from his uncharitable review of their writings.

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    1. Eh, are people from those places moving to Lakewood?

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  5. You can find things you don't like about the Yeshiva world (and I think right wing YU also terms themselves yeshivish), but certainly they are more traditional than those who consider both their lifestyle and worldview a blend of Jewish and Western.
    The reason MO don't learn long term etc. is more to do with the modern western society they live in than Chazal.

    What's more worrying, is your bias to to make Judaism as Western as possible, (even though you do have some valid points, you're wrong on the big picture).

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    1. > certainly they are more traditional than those who consider both their lifestyle and worldview a blend of Jewish and Western.

      "Certainly?" In most times and places, Jews lived as part of the society and culture they found themselves in. In most times and places, Jews worked, not as a b'dieved for those nebachs who couldn't hack it in kollel, but because of course everyone worked. In most times and places, Jews practiced as their parents and community did, not as they imagined people practiced in Central Europe in 19th century.

      > The reason MO don't learn long term etc. is more to do with the modern western society they live in than Chazal.

      True, but it's also true that the reason long-term full-time learning is an ideal in the Yeshivish world has more to do with the realities of the modern western society they live in than Chazal.

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    2. certainly they are more traditional than those who consider both their lifestyle and worldview a blend of Jewish and Western

      It is quite traditional to blend together Torah and learning from other cultures which were considered to reflect the truth. Unless you think that the bulk of the Rishonim were not traditional :).

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    3. ******************August 4, 2016 at 8:02 PM

      Can you provide some examples, please, of Rishonim blending "Torah and Learning" from other cultures into their 'worldview'?

      Other than the oft quoted Rambam and one or two other Rishonim, strictly in the narrow sphere of philosophy, all who were roundly criticized (thus showing it was certainly not considered traditional at the time).

      I am not talking about when they needed science to assist them in torah. Poskim today, including chareidi ones, regularly consult with doctors and that is accepted. I am talking culture (sport, arts etc).

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    4. It wasn't just "the Rambam and one or two others." It was the entire community of Sefarad. The criticisms came from people in different communities (who were in turn criticized by those in Rambam's circles).

      Another example would be Italian Jewry.

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    5. And Ashkenazic jewry but they just don't realize it.

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    6. > Can you provide some examples, please, of Rishonim blending "Torah and Learning" from other cultures into their 'worldview'?

      There is a gemara that more or less quotes from Plato's Symposium (written about 700 years earlier) in describing the creation of humans as giant round androgynous two-sided creatures that were then separated, half of the creature becoming a man and the other half a woman. Either this is an intentional blending of Greek philosophy with Torah, or the amoraim were ignoramuses who took seriously what was essentially a joke in Plato's writing. Pick whichever you think is least bad.

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    7. It's a misconception that RW at YU are actually yeshivish. (Some are, but a tiny minority.) At least, they're not at all part of the yeshivish culture.

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    8. ******************August 5, 2016 at 1:03 AM

      G3,

      The fact that you even entertain the thought that the amoraim were ignoramuses means that I cannot debate with you. Even Rabbi Slifkin doesn't go that far.

      Maybe Plato took it from an earlier Jewish source which was then transmitted also to the amoraim. It is torah shebal pe you know. Anyway the gemoro doesn't say a word about 'giant'. And I am not opining on whether that gemoro is metophorical or real or some combination. Either way, I see no evidence that it is a blending of Greek philosophy, just because Plato said the same thing.

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    9. To asterisks guy - chazal took not just a few, but COUNTLESS examples of Greek legends, and incorporated them into Judaism. The story with the Sodom beds was current 1000 years earlier in the Procustean beds. The story with the Nazir seeing his reflection is the (Roman) story of Narcissus as told by Ovid. The story of Yosef Mokir Shabbos is the story of Prolycrates as told by Herodotus. These are just a few examples, there are tons more.

      I don't blame you for not knowing this. It's not the yeshivah's fault, it's all of society. We are not taught the classics anymore, for various reasons of dumbing down the schools and political correctness. So you have to learn them yourself. Once you do, you begin to realize that chazal were preceded by hundreds and hundreds of years in many things they said or believed in.

      This is not a chiddush, its aleph bays.

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    10. Can you provide some examples, please, of Rishonim blending "Torah and Learning" from other cultures into their 'worldview'?

      The four (or five) elements, matter and form, the spheres, humors, etc. They assume that these are correct and incorporate them in their interpretations of pesukim and other Torah matters.

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    11. > The fact that you even entertain the thought that the amoraim were ignoramuses means that I cannot debate with you.

      Why? I understand that you would profoundly disagree with the idea that they were ignoramuses (and I didn't say they were), but why can't you even debate with someone who disagrees with you?

      > Maybe Plato took it from an earlier Jewish source which was then transmitted also to the amoraim.

      On the other hand, if you're going to engage in fantasies to justify your beliefs, then I don't see the point in talking with you. Sure, maybe Plato got it from a Jewish source. Except that in context, it's a joke. And that once we're making things up to justify our beliefs, I could just as well claim that everything in the gemara has non-Jewish origins. Sure, that's an unsubstantiated claim with no evidence whatsoever to make anyone think that happened and is kind of ridiculous, but as long as we're just making stuff up…

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    12. DF, David, don't you know, all stories and knowledge originated in Jewish sources, and the goyim copied it all from us!

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    13. ******************August 7, 2016 at 1:21 AM

      David,

      "They assume that these are correct and incorporate them in their interpretations of pesukim and other Torah matters."

      Who and where? Several examples please from a variety of authors. And not philosophy, that has been well covered in this blog.

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    14. DF, David, don't you know, all stories and knowledge originated in Jewish sources, and the goyim copied it all from us!

      The counter to that is that to mention things that are not longer regarded as valid (like 4 elements). Since they are false, who could they have originated in Jewish sources?

      The counter-counter to that is really the Yesodos are not the 4 elements: how could you make the Rambam into some kind of primitive alchemist, you Apikores. R Meiselman takes this tack in his book; he describes a bunch of Rishonim and their view of Maaseh Breishis and how they differ from the modern view without mentioning (or deflecting) that they were based on Greek (natural) philosophy.

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    15. "They assume that these are correct and incorporate them in their interpretations of pesukim and other Torah matters."

      Who and where? Several examples please from a variety of authors. And not philosophy, that has been well covered in this blog.


      **********,

      I'm not particularly learned so I'll just give one simple example. If you study the Rishonim, you'll find plenty:

      Rambam: The four elements indicated, according to our explanation, in the term ereẓ "earth," in the first verse, are mentioned first after the heavens: for there are named ereẓ (earth), ruaḥ (air), mayim (water), and hoshek (fire). By ḥoshek the element fire is meant, nothing else; comp. "And thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire" (Deut. iv. 36); and, "When ye heard the voice out of the midst of the ḥoshek" (darkness). ... The element fire is called ḥoshek because it is not luminous, it is only transparent; for if it were luminous we should see at night the whole atmosphere in flames.

      Now calling Choshech fire seems a little forced, but since Rambam "knew" that the four elements were in there, this was plausible to him. For us, there is no reason to accept this interpretation.

      Is this just the Rambam who was fooled by the appeal of the accursed philosophers? No, the Ramban says the same thing on Breishis 1:5: "And the explanation is that in this form is the form of the four elements, which are fire, water, dirt and air; and the word, "the earth," includes these four. And fire is called, 'darkness,' as elemental fire is dark; and if it were red, it would redden the night for us."

      And the beginning of Derashos Haran:

      And though some of them hold that the intent of eth hashamayim ve'eth ha'aretz is that there were two distinct substances, that of heaven and that of earth, they are all in agreement that the second verse includes the four elements which give rise to all that is found beneath the lunar orb, namely: fire (intimated in the word "darkness"), air (intimated in the expression "the spirit of G-d"), and water and earth (subsumed in the word "deep").

      As I mentioned before, this comes all the way down through Derech Hashem which is still talking about the four elements.

      Another common theme are the form and matter, hyle, spheres and so on.

      The more knowledgeable people on the site can give many more, or just open up the Rishonim who know of Greek "science" on Bereishis and just read.

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    16. G*3 -
      "True, but it's also true that the reason long-term full-time learning is an ideal in the Yeshivish world has more to do with the realities of the modern western society they live in than Chazal."
      No, it was originally idealized in the Gemara, and was brought to the forefront of Jewish thought by R. Chaim of Volozhin. The realities of modern society have only rendered it practical.

      David - I don't think that the Rishonim's citations of greek physics is equatable to the integration of non-Jewish culture in MO society. Maintaining a traditional lifestyle in no way mandates ignorance of accepted scientific knowledge. There is still a large gulf between the eschewment of all science that is labeled non-Jewish by the Chareidi world, and the willful embrace of a Western and Jewish cultural synthesis. A traditional outlook would be somewhere in between: a scientific education, with a wary attitude toward cultural norms.

      R Stefansky

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    17. David - I don't think that the Rishonim's citations of greek physics is equatable to the integration of non-Jewish culture in MO society. Maintaining a traditional lifestyle in no way mandates ignorance of accepted scientific knowledge. There is still a large gulf between the eschewment of all science that is labeled non-Jewish by the Chareidi world, and the willful embrace of a Western and Jewish cultural synthesis. A traditional outlook would be somewhere in between: a scientific education, with a wary attitude toward cultural norms.

      I that "equatable" is a bit fuzzy. My point is that there is a tradition among the Chachmei Yisrael to take add elements to the tradition base on knowledge not gleaned from the tradition if they thought that such things were correct, and not to reject any idea because it came from the "Goyim". I think that the Rishonim placed as much importance in their interpretation of Maaseh Breishis as we moderns put into morality. Moreover, among some Gaonim and Rishonim, there was even the notion that the Torah is a very important aid to leading a good life, but that a sufficiently astute and moral person bereft of Torah could also achieve perfection with much greater difficulty and probability of failure.

      I also wouldn't call it a "Western and Jewish cultural synthesis". I would call it using our brains to do best we can, wherever the ideas originate from. The result could be some synthesis, but that doesn't have to be the goal.

      To take a concrete example, if you take the intellectual forms of Judaism to heart, where knowledge is a key to a rightly led Jewish life because of the nature of the man and his soul as intellectual being, and you add in the modern discovery that women are roughly as or more intelligent than men on average, then I think that this kind of statement becomes very unsurprising:

      "As to your question with regard to a curriculum in a coeducational school, I expressed my opinion to you long ago that it would be a very regrettable oversight on our part if we were to arrange separate Hebrew courses for girls. Not only is the teaching of Torah she-be-al peh to girls permissible but it is nowadays an absolute imperative. This policy of discrimination between the sexes as to subject matter and method of instruction which is still advocated by certain groups within our Orthodox community has contributed greatly to the deterioration and downfall of traditional Judaism. Boys and girls alike should be introduced to the inner halls of Torah she-be-al peh."

      I think that one of the difference between the Chareidi and Modern view is that learning in the Chareidi world is valued as a form of worship or the fulfillment of a command, not as an intellectual pursuit per se. So of course, those commanded to learn should do it and those not so commanded should not. Anything else is just practicality and concession.

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    18. "My point is that there is a tradition among the Chachmei Yisrael to take add elements to the tradition base on knowledge not gleaned from the tradition if they thought that such things were correct, and not to reject any idea because it came from the "Goyim"."
      True. Very few Rishonim - if any - dismissed "goyishe science" off hand. Firstly, though, as I commented below, it is more important to discern how they would respond today, not how they in fact behaved 800 years ago. (Practically, Rava acted different than Rambam, who acted different than Rashi, who... R. Yosef Karo, who... the Vilna Gaon, who... Shadal, who... R. David Zvi Hoffman, who acted different than R. Yoel Bin-Nun. It is salient to determine if transported to a different reality like whom would they act.) Behavior always changes, since phenomenological reality is always evolving; it is the elemental ideal we must consider. Arguably, the challenges to TMS - at least in its standard Maimonidean-based form - are stronger today than ever, and perhaps some Rishonim would also enact such a barrier.
      Secondly, while extreme chareidism MAY be an innovation, it is impossible to deny that many Rishonim did reject scientific conclusions that seemed to contradict the Torah or Chazal. In this way, the modern/rationalist acceptance of scientific conclusions in matters of science over peshuto shel mikra and Chazal is no more traditional than Chareidi fundamentalism. The same goes for the citation of RYBS. I highly doubt that Ramban and Rashba, who rejected accepted science in face of scientific conclusions based on Torah, would agree, when it is clear in Gemara that men and women do not share educational responsibility. Even less "traditional" Rishonim such as Rambam, Ibn Ezra, Meiri, would have to come to terms with the clear disparity expressed in the Gemara, not only as a mode of contemporary thought, but in drashot as well.
      In short, both are "traditional". You may take the path of RSG, R. Bachya, R. Abraham ibn Daud, Rambam, Meiri, Ralbag, etc., and you may take the path of Ra'avad, R. Meir Halevi, R. Tam, Ramban, Rashba, R. Isaac b. Sheshet, etc.

      R Stefansky

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    19. Firstly, though, as I commented below, it is more important to discern how they would respond today, not how they in fact behaved 800 years ago. (Practically, Rava acted different than Rambam, who acted different than Rashi, who... R. Yosef Karo, who... the Vilna Gaon, who... Shadal, who... R. David Zvi Hoffman, who acted different than R. Yoel Bin-Nun. It is salient to determine if transported to a different reality like whom would they act.)

      This can't be the right approach because it is an impossible task to execute. For all we know the Rambam could have been a Conservative Rabbi or maybe a physician or maybe he would be sitting in B'nei Brak. It's impossible to know. As pointed out previously in this blog, Rav Moshe claims that it is certain that Rashba, in Olam HaEmes, has retracted his emphatic claim that a Treifah cannot live more than 12 months, because with modern communication, he would have access evidence which he didn't have in his time.

      Arguably, the challenges to TMS - at least in its standard Maimonidean-based form - are stronger today than ever, and perhaps some Rishonim would also enact such a barrier.

      Again, this cuts both ways. Perhaps the former "obscurantists" perceived that the conclusions of Medieval "science" were quite uncertain, but would concede to modern empirical science. I'm not claiming it to be so, but there is simply no way to know and it doesn't seem all the important to find out.

      In this way, the modern/rationalist acceptance of scientific conclusions in matters of science over peshuto shel mikra and Chazal is no more traditional than Chareidi fundamentalism.

      I would only say (and I think that you agree) that it is also no less traditional.

      I highly doubt that Ramban and Rashba, who rejected accepted science in face of scientific conclusions based on Torah, would agree, when it is clear in Gemara that men and women do not share educational responsibility. Even less "traditional" Rishonim such as Rambam, Ibn Ezra, Meiri, would have to come to terms with the clear disparity expressed in the Gemara, not only as a mode of contemporary thought, but in drashot as well.

      As mentioned above, I make no prediction. All I was pointing out that if you take seriously various elements of traditional Judaism, then the completely natural result can seem quite "radical" (not that RYBS was in any way really radical).

      In short, both are "traditional". You may take the path of RSG, R. Bachya, R. Abraham ibn Daud, Rambam, Meiri, Ralbag, etc., and you may take the path of Ra'avad, R. Meir Halevi, R. Tam, Ramban, Rashba, R. Isaac b. Sheshet, etc.

      I agree, although I'm not sure that all of those (like Ramban) should be thrown completely into the second group. The lines aren't so clear. But your point is correct.

      I'll point out one more thing on the education of women. Ironically, it the more conservative "Artscroll" position that engages in selective reinterpretation of the Gemara in this case. Nashim Daatan Kalos has a pretty clear meaning that gets obscured in service of apologetics. If you take the words at face value, then the answer is simple: Nishtanu HaTivim!

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  6. While I sympathize in general with your comments, I want to point out that Lakewood today is much bigger and more diverse than it was 20 years ago. It is no longer a Yeshiva-only community. It is growing in leaps and bounds in fairly diverse (relatively speaking) directions. Flatbush has basically moved to Lakewood.

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    1. and the rest of Flatbush has moved to The 5 Towns...(essentially making Flatbush itself ...Russian!)

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    2. But in that case, it would just be a generic Jewish community, like Monsey or Brooklyn. The thing that would make davka Lakewood the epicenter is the yeshiva.

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    3. Flatbush is mostly Russian and Syrian...and many of the Syrians are moving to Deal and the Upper East Side. It's a different community than it was 25 years ago.

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    4. Any Religious Zionist congregations in Lakewood?

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    5. @Charlie Hall: Any true RZ congregations in America? :)

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    6. "It is growing in leaps and bounds in fairly diverse (relatively speaking) directions. Flatbush has basically moved to Lakewood."

      Does that mean that Lakewood is more diverse, or (Ashkenaz) Flatbush is less diverse. The code of dress and school attendance of the young congregants in Young Israel of Midwood and Young Israel of Boro Park is very different from the Young Israels in the rest of the country.

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  7. One of his primary teachers was Yehuda Parnes who left YU after writing an article saying the study of Greek philosophy (an accepted practice at YU) was forbidden. So, while his smichah is from YU, he is not YU in outlook.

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  8. He is. Yet another data point that YU has moved very far to the right. With the exception is a couple of roshei Yeshiva, most others are nearly indistinguishable from their charedi counterparts in places like Lakewood.

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    1. I guess that explains why almost every one of them has at least one university degree. Some have PhDs.

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  9. At the end of the day what sort of Jew would your typical semi learned Jew from Vilna recognise more as similar to himself?

    Your MO baseball playing, Shakespere reading, movie going, turning up to shul in jeans and a T shirt person or a typical Lakewood yeshiva or kollel person?

    That is all he meant. You have a habit of reading too much philosophy into everything everybody writes.

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    1. Why is a Jew from 19th century Vilna the measure of "traditional?" Why not a Jew from 19th century America, or Germany, or Britain? Or a 12th century Jew from Spain? A 16th century Jew from Venice? An 18th century Jew from the Ottoman Empire?

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    2. Would a Jew from 15th century Rome recognize a sthreiml wearing chosid speaking with a strange Hebrew accent?

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    3. I like the way you mix Shakespeare (what's wrong with him?), movies, baseball (what's wrong with baseball?), and jeans and t-shirts. You really have no clue what "Modern Orthodox" means, do you? And you don't seem to want to learn.

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    4. That's easy. Your typical 19th century Vilna Jew would recognize the typical MO Jew as his own lifestyle, and the kollelnik as the ideal lived out in his time only by a few. Modern Charedi has turned that into the norm.

      When R. Chaim of Volizhin passed away, his yeshiva, essentially the first modern yeshivah, had a student body of between 50 and 100, not a large number at all if the surrounding communities were looking for a place to send all their young men to learn.

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    5. ******************August 5, 2016 at 12:58 AM

      Garnel,

      Very funny.

      Underneath the clothes, very much so. They would soon find a common vocabulary. Both would look askance at the embracing of modern western culture as some sort of religious duty and enhancement of torah under the torah u'madda banner. I suspect both your 15th century Roman Jew and your shtreimel wearing chosid would not educate their children in co-ed schools (or schools at all, they didn't really exist), would not let their children watch movies or sport(or whatever the equivalent was) or indeed treat the non-Jews without a great deal of suspicion. I suspect both their wives covered their hair properly (at least outside in the market) and there was proper separation between men and woman when praying (if woman went to shul. Both would have similar views about woman's role in Judaism (which probably would not be politically correct today in any stream of Judaism.) I suspect both would have spoken at home not in formal Latin or Italian or Polish but a yiddish equivalent (ladino?) maybe, but I am not too sure of that.

      Yes, there may have been differences in whether woman's elbows needed to be covered or how low the neck line could be. Both would be very careful that woman's legs were covered totally (although the non Jews were not that tzniyusdic in certain periods, it is striking that in all western cultures and fashions until very recently legs were very well concealed (check the old paintings). Anyway I digress too much.

      Of course, if you are referring to a chosid who is not particularly learned (and there are plenty) the above is probably not correct. But the difference is then not because of the Streimel. And yes, I know some chasidim are just wearing the garb for traditions sake and it doesn't mean much to them, they live no different from a non chasidish Jew.


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    6. How many jews do you think in lita were semi learned?(you said vilna but i am extrapolatong it to lita) Jews today have a much more well rounded education. Barely everybody just got past a cheider education! (That's not even bringing in all the jews that went to gymnasium. Or the fact that beis yacovs are a modern innovation).you should read up a little more on litvish history.
      Second i dont think they would recognize people in the "yeshivish" camp to easily! First of all litvaks wore a different kind of yarmulke. They wore different styles of hats tucked in their shirts didnt have their yarmulkas halfway hanging out the back of their hats. Wore all different colored clothes and hats mind you! Thats without evening mentioning the differences with how women dressed!!
      And Yeshivish people play baseball and basketball etc... yeshivish people don't waste their time with "jewish klezmer 1910's jazz music"?
      Better to turn up wearing non fitting clothes disheveled creased and stained.with tzizis flying in every direction with a worn out hat? Litvaks generally prided themselves on looking appropriate at the right times.
      The truth is a significant portion of litvaks were massacred in europe. Todays day you have alot of people playing litvak. In reality they are just Yeshivish. I fear that derech has fallen by the wayside!
      In lita jews generally tucked in their tzitis like this not to tear out the eyes of the goyim. In america jews live a different life. Jews will never be able to recreate that world. It is a whole other universe!

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    7. ******************August 5, 2016 at 11:32 AM

      Plenty of yeshivish Jews are careful to dress smart or respectfully. Some are not. Big deal. As far as I know only Lubavitchers have a point of un-tuccked shirts and bashed up hats. I don' know why. You seem to be confused.

      jewish klezmer 1910's jazz music was not produced by those with much religion in their lives.

      If that is all the differences you can find, so be it, but its nothing to do with tradition!

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    8. asterisks guy - what yuu are saying is...pure amaratzus. On many levels. You are painting a cartoon stereotype caricature of MO that betrays total ignorance of their world, and really means you shouldn't be commenting about it. At the same time, you seem to think the totality of Jewish history can be reduced to a tiny slice of one part of one period of one area (Eastern Europe.) I mean, this is silly.

      The reality, as it always is, is that Judaism evolves, as it always does, and there will be some common ground among all Jews of all periods, and some not.

      On the specific issue of women's role I agree with you, only because 1) no one, Jew or Goy, ever held otherwise until around 50 years ago. Hence, this is not something useful for defining a segment of Jewry. And 2) there are many in the MO world who have the same views as their yeshivish brethren on this subject. Women's issues is not the primary line of demarcation for MO, as it is for the tiny "open-orthodox" proponents.

      Delete
    9. basically all "jewish music" is klezmer mixed with some 1910's jazz. oh the irony!!!!!!!!!!!! We all know they sang klezmer in the beis hamikdosh right!???????

      Delete
  10. For the record, yes, Rabbi Gordimer is a YU musmach and lives in Washington Heights (the neighbourhood in which YU is located).

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  11. Remember that Modern Chareidism (tm) has to function with a fundamental contradiction - it's an innovation in Jewish practice that believes that all innovation is forbidden.
    Therefore historical revision and tossing things down the memory hole are essential to its functioning. Otherwise Lucy would have some 'splaining to do.

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    Replies
    1. When did this innovation take place?

      My great grandmother (long in olam habo) was very happy when I, as a child was being brought up in a very similar fashion in London to how she remembered her great grand parents. So that is already several generations of good orthodoxy.

      So while charedim have certainly innovated it is incredibly gradual over many generations. At what point does a person whose hair is falling out become bald?

      Compare that with MO type where the change took place over only a couple of generations. That is far more innovative methinks.

      The great great grandparents of those MO living in the shtetl would think their offspring are living far more involved in non Jewish culture than they would ever be happy with.

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    2. > The great great grandparents of those MO living in the shtetl

      Most of my great-great-grandparents lived in places like Frankfort and Berlin. My wife's great-great-grandparents on her father's side lived in Detroit. Why this obsession with the shtetle?

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    3. I used the shtetl as an example. The same goes for anywhere.

      See my response to Pini Dunner. Exposure to modern western culture as a some sort of mitzvah like MO claim to do was not traditional anywhere.

      At the most there was some limited recreational exposure to the arts and culture in some circles in Germanic countries. And some exposure to science and philosophy when it was needed to assist torah. But there was never a philosophy of exposure. Don't forget, for most of Golus in Europe Jews were treated as the Messiah's killer and forced to be seperate. Muslim countries had their ups and downs. Full integration is a very modern tradition.

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    4. I think I can safely say that:

      a) You were not being brought up in any manner similar to how your great-great-great-great grandparents.

      b) Your great-grandmother was not recalling things quite correctly.

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    5. Nachum:
      Why would you say that? Many people who grew up in the shtetl had very, very isolated and simple lives. My great-grandmother was a rarity in her shtetl because she could speak and read in three languages (Yiddish, Hebrew and Polish) and read Polish novels. Her mother would give them to her secretly, so that her father and the rest of the village wouldn't find out and ruin her reputation. (Then again this was in Galicia, or Judaism's Ozarks.)

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    6. > I used the shtetl as an example. The same goes for anywhere.

      Life in places like Warsaw or Lodz or Vilna was very different than it was in the shtetlach, never mind places like Paris or Berlin or London or New York. In our great-great-grandparent's generation, Yiddish theatre was on the rise and integration of Jews into mainstream culture was becoming normal. It hadn't quite gotten there all the way, but I don't think things like the Dreyfus Affair should be nostalgic reminders of the good old days.

      > At the most there was some limited recreational exposure to the arts and culture in some circles in Germanic countries.

      Among those who were the most similar to today's Chareidim. The general Jewish population were integrating into the mainstream culture. Three out four of my grandparents grew up frum in Germany, and they and their siblings went to public school, the movies, listened to popular music, etc. My grandmother told me once about seeing an early TV at the Berlin world's fair.

      But you probably wouldn't consider them "traditional," so what you're left with is a tautology. Chareidim today are most similar to the traditional Jews of the 19th and early 20th century, and the Jews of the 19th and early 20th century who were traditional are those who were most like the Chareidim are today.

      > Don't forget, for most of Golus in Europe Jews were treated as the Messiah's killer and forced to be seperate.

      Depends where and when, and that got much worse during the Crusades, but yes. Again, I don't think institutional persecution is something to be held up as a nostalgic reminder of the good old days.

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    7. ******************August 5, 2016 at 12:44 AM

      In torah u'mitzvos, yes I am.

      In treating western culture as 'kabdeihu vechashdehu" - honour it yet suspect it, yes I am.

      Not embracing Western culture as some sort of lechatichalo. It's a bdi eved at best. Look, she saw what the Germans, the most cultured of Europeans, opera and classics lovers, did to her family. The Jews of the past got involved in Western culture for what they needed for parnossoh and to support the learning of torah. Nothing more and nothing less. There was never a tradition in Judaism to embrace western culture (or indeed middle eastern culture) for its own sake and for the additions it can supposedly make to our religious practice. If there was, we would see substantial references to it in old seforim.

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    8. ******'s critics are skirting the real issue. I love German Orthodoxy and think it more accurately reflects Hashem's will. That said, the point in contention is if Lakewood Jews are a new breed (as some academics like to claim) or a more-or-less natural progression of "traditional Ashkenazic Jewry." The debate is sociological, not theological.

      That being the case, if we are going to be honest, we have to admit that German Orthodoxy itself was considered an aberration in the 19th and 20th centuries by most traditional Ashkenazic Jews -- i.e., Eastern European Jewry. And Eastern European Jewry represented the bulk of Ashkenazic Jewry.

      (The numbers aren't even close. German Jewry numbered half a million. German Orthodoxy was less than 100,000. Compare that to the number of Ashkenazic Jews in Eastern Europe.)

      So ******* is correct that, for better or for worse, Eastern European Jews represent "traditional" Ashkenazic Jewry and he is further correct that these people would feel ten times more comfortable in a black-hat shtieble than they would in a typical American Modern Orthodox shul.

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    9. ******************August 5, 2016 at 11:23 AM

      G3,

      You are confusing "life" with religious practice and belief. Of course life in the Shtetl was different from Warsaw. That is nothing to do with the point I am making.

      "The general Jewish population were integrating into the mainstream culture. Three out four of my grandparents grew up frum in Germany, and they and their siblings went to public school, the movies, listened to popular music, etc. My grandmother told me once about seeing an early TV at the Berlin world's fair. "

      Yes of course, we know that. But did their parents do that sort of thing? Was is approved off by the Jewish leadership of the time? It was it the beginning of the slippery slope? Did their parents approve or did they do as kids, being a bit naughty? My son will also snatch a peep (or more than one) at his friend's smartphone, unfortunately. Or watch an occasional football match on a relative's TV. Because I don't believe in banns. Doesn't mean it becomes our tradition.

      There is no tautology. You have to pass over the two or three generations that unfortunately became a little too involved in culture and we reflect on the lessons the Germans taught them. Once you go back a little further, you do see a clear skepticism of western culture, in the writings of the poskim. And you don't see counter writings in other poskim, which means it was pretty unanimous. Of course there may have been exceptions. But exceptions do not make tradition.

      Even kollel. The author of this blog asserts it is counter to tradition. But once you define the tradition as being knowing as much torah as possible, then kollel makes sense. Nowadays, for whatever reason, there is enough funds in the community and within families that many people can afford to learn a lot more than before. And don't start on not working. Most of the charedim or yeshivish Jews I know actually do work.



      Delete
    10. This is a silly discussion. You simply cant compare life at the times of the shtetl to nowadays. We are no longer in our own little world. Especially in Eretz Yisrael when the whole country needs to work, live, and fight together and yet we unfortunately have a mass of Jews (charedim) who would prefer the shtetl life than being back in Eretz Yisrael after being in exile for 2000 years. Times have changed (we are living in the most awesome period of jewish history), but charedim want to live in the past.

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    11. All 4 of my grandparents, all brought up in the frummest of homes and ranging from across Europe have remarked on the number of their grandchildren in kollel as an aberration. They simply could not even understand what was going on - "but when are they going to start working?". They even find those spending three years in Yeshivah as somewhat strange - even though all their sons did it. And their houses are full of books on history, philosophy, geography, science etc. I am not saying that they are representative of everyone but I can't see why the mo crowd is any less traditional.

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    12. Yehudah, you have a point, but I'm not sure that the most popular tradition = the most traditional. I would think that they are separate, equally valid traditions. So what we have is what I said to ****** above, Chareidim today are most similar to the traditional Jews of the 19th and early 20th century who were most like the Chareidim are today.

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    13. ******************August 7, 2016 at 12:41 PM

      G3,

      Who are the Jews who are happy to pray in jeans and T-shirts, whose spouses don't cover their hair properly outside in the street, who send their kids to co-ed schools, watch movies, TV and sport actually similar too then?

      What tradition are they actually following?

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    14. > did their parents do that sort of thing?

      Yes, and I wouldn't be here today if they didn't. My great-grandfather used to go hang out with his non-Jewish war buddies after work, and it was a couple of them who were policemen who warned him about how bad things were going to get for Jews and pushed him to take his family out of Germany.

      > Was is approved off by the Jewish leadership of the time?

      Are you admitting that Chassidus is not "traditional?"

      > Did their parents approve or did they do as kids, being a bit naughty?

      Do you think they went to public schools on the sly?

      > we reflect on the lessons the Germans taught them.

      I hope you're not saying what I think you're saying.

      > Once you go back a little further, you do see a clear skepticism of western culture

      You mean that Jews were skeptical of a culture that persecuted them? Shocking. And isn't it interesting that as the persecution lessened, so did the skepticism.

      > Who are the Jews who are happy to pray in jeans and T-shirts, whose spouses don't cover their hair properly outside in the street, who send their kids to co-ed schools, watch movies, TV and sport actually similar too then?

      They're similar to the majority of Jews of the past who dressed like those around them and went to plays and the opera, and the majority of women in Europe who didn't cover their hair outside of a shul. Hair covering is something that has come and gone over the centuries. It's very popular right now, but just a hundred years ago there were many respected rebbitzens who didn't cover their hair "in the street." It was fashionable in medieval Europe for women to cover their hair, and Jewish women did too, but many of the coverings were open nets that today would not be considered covering their hair "properly."

      There was a time when I thought it was ridiculous that kids got pictures showing the Bnei Yisroel crossing the Yam Suf in shtreimels. Then I learned that there is a long tradition of depicting the Bnei Yisroel in then-contemporary dress. Medieval German haggados show the Jews crossing the Yam Suf dressed as medieval German Jews, in medieval German fashions plus Jew-hat. Haggados from renaissance Italy depict them in Italian renaissance clothing. And so on.

      Delete
  12. As is made perfectly clear by the ketubah signed by every married Orthodox Jew, there is nothing traditional about a Jewish man being supported by his wife.AS for the sources of "yeshivesh": I think it developed in reaction to the loss of political autonomy by Jewish communities following the Emancipation. Rabbis and other communal leaders with real power were replaced by the model of the rosh yeshiva whose foremost concern was the small religious elite constituted by his students.

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  13. What is "traditional" about cutting yourself off from the world around you and any knowledge it has to offer unless there is a money making angle? Chazal didn't do it. We're they untraditional? The Rambam didn't do it. Was he Modern Orthodox? Rav Hirsch didn't do it. Was he countertraditional? Trying to justify the current trend within the strictly orthodox world to reject any education that is not Torah or parnassa related is much like defending flat-earthers their right of freedom of expression. Everyone has the right to believe and do whatever they want as long as they don't insist that everyone else accepts their narrative to the exclusion of any other. In any event, I don't even accept that the label "charedi" excludes people, like me, who grew up charedi and went to charedi educational institutions, but are engaged in society and educated in sciences and social studies. Just because extremists within the charedi world try to narrow that definition ever more does not mean I must become a victim of their exclusive arrogance. Why pander to extremes? I don't pander to open orthodoxy either. While it is true that many within the charedi world reject modernity, that is their choice, either self imposed or societally imposed, but not their duty. Rabbi Gardiner may be a very wonderful man, and Lakewood may be a very wonderful place, but that does not excuse forcing inappropriate definitions on any individual, or group, or place, to suit an idealized and ultimately subjective viewpoint.

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    Replies
    1. ******************August 4, 2016 at 7:55 PM

      It is traditional if you understood why they do it. They believe that if "the world around you" was like it is today, Chazal would not have been so open to the knowledge of the outside world. Chazal did not expose themselves to literature, movies, sport etc (or whatever the equivalent was in those days). The exposed themselves only to those areas which they felt benefited parnossoh, torah and practice. Which is exactly what they claim to do.

      Which tradition exactly do the MO claim to follow? Never got to the bottom of it. You can never get anything other than long winded philosophical essays from them, if anything at all. I have asked time and time again for a group of Jewish people that, in history, exposed themselves to culture, the arts, co-ed schools, sport etc the way the MO do. Never received an answer. Some science and philosophy yes, but it stops there.

      By the way, the Lakewood people don't claim to follow the tradition of Rav Hirsch. They claim to follow the tradition of pre-war Lita, Poland etc.

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    2. You might want to do some reading about the Jews of Medieval Spain and Renaissance Italy. To name one notable example, R. Shemuel ha-Nagid (993-after 1056) was not only a leading talmid chacham but also the Vizier of Granada, an army general, and the author of many poems about wine, war, and other secular subjects.

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    3. ******************August 5, 2016 at 12:38 AM

      Rabbis Louis Jacobs and Jonathan Sacks are also considered leading talmud chachamim (by some). Yes, I suppose they can learn a daf gemoro better than an average ba'al habos. But when was the last time R Shemuel Hanagid was quoted by contemporary poskim (of any stream, chareidi, RZ, MO, centrist) to support/argue with an opinion, or when was the last he was quoted in a gemoro shiur (given by a magid shiur of any stripe)?

      You need to support your view with the likes of Ritvo, Rashi, Rabbeinu Tam etc. Those that have had their works publicized amongst the Jewish people (of any stripe).

      At the end of the day, there is no tradition in chazal or amongsts the rishonim or acharonum of waxing lyrical about English poetry the way Rabbi Lichtenstein does.

      http://etzion.org.il/vbm/english/archive/chag69/ral-tu-bishvat.htm

      It's not called 'modern' orthodoxy for nothing.

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    4. ******** and Yehudah (in the above comment) are both saying the same thing, which is: you both just feel OK discounting great rabbis who say things that don't agree with you,right? The Rambam, R. Hirsch, R. Sacks etc.. German Orthodoxy was an abberation, but modern Haredi Judaism isn't. right?

      It's not much of an argument.

      ******** you have to take into account cultural awareness. early poskim were clearly influenced by and absorbed foreign culture, but they weren't so aware of it (nor did they live in a religious atmosphere where they had to be fearful of it.)

      But just for my favorite example: where does the word Sanhedrin come from? Try calling a haredi av beis din "Judge" today, and see how far that gets you.

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    5. What a farce lakewood does not follow in the derech of pre war lita. It follows a reimagined version of it maybe! Just as a little example.How many people in lakewood wear a litvish yarmulke? Nuu? what about eat non-glatt meat? Eat gebrokts on pesach? How many people tuck in their tzitzis? How many wifes in lake walk around with uncovered hair? Seriously read up on lita it may open your mind to the fact that lakewood doesnt mirror pre war lita in the slightest. Many of the minhagim have been superceded by following the ideal that was written in sefarim over the recent years. People don't realize their was more to litvish halacha and minhagim then were written in the most popular sefarim. The mishnah brurah which today is held in such high regard generally wasnt even the sefer of choice for most litvaks the aruch hashulchan was. If i am not mistaken even Rav Moshe said the Aruch Hashulchan is more authoritative. It covers more topics and was finished after the mishnah brurah.

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    6. Well taking a look at the Rambam, Rid, Seforno would be a good start. Shadal happens to have been quoted by Rav Hershel Shechter in a Gemoroh Shiur. He makes Rav Shmuel Hanagid look like a bit of a Charedi.

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    7. Well, one thing I can guarantee you is that he didn't call himself the "Ritvo."

      The English thing (picked up lately by American charedim desperate to prove how un-Zionist they are) of writing a kamataz as an "o" is irksome to me because it's so inaccurate, but normally I'd let it slide. But when you're carrying on about "tradition," it helps to point out that the Ritva was a Sepharadi and didn't talk like you.

      In any event, it hardly needs to be pointed out that the Talmidei Chachamim aren't exactly representative of the hamon am.

      Regardless, you should get an education. Lots of Rishonim and Acharonim were perfectly capable of "waxing lyrical" about secular poetry- and even writing it themselves- of a sort that would make you blush. It's well-known that R' Ovadiah Yosef was a big fan of a famous Egyptian female singer. Obviously not English poetry, as, um, most of them didn't live in English-speaking countries.

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    8. Odd to dismiss Shmuel HaNagid. Shmuel HaNagid authored a lexicon included in every standard edition of the Vilna Shas, in Masechet Brachot. FLip to the back and you'll see it right there. He also authored poems about wine and sex, both hetero- and homosexual. See also Ibn Gabirol (author of so many of the beautiful piyutim we recite during davening, as well as more poems about wine and sex). See also Yehuda HaLevi. Or Ibn Ezra, both Moshe and Abraham. All wrote comparable poetry. They're all pretty widely read in a variety of Torah fields. Pretty canonical. Pretty broadly published. Strange to dismiss any of them.

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    9. Some History,

      Again you are focusing on the externals. The Lakewood people know full well they dressed differently in Lita. The "tradition" point is all about values, ideals and beliefs. Tucking in tzitzis and the sort of cappul is not what I or R Gordimer is referring to. As far as the chumros you mention, neither of us have any idea how common they were in Lita, before Lita started to slip in its religious observance. Why just Lita anyway. It is well known that from the emancipation, religious levels in Europe started to slip. So the yeshivish of Lakewood believe that they are restoring the position to what it was before the slippage started to make inroads.

      Unknown,

      "They're all pretty widely read in a variety of Torah fields. Pretty canonical. Pretty broadly published. Strange to dismiss any of them." - can you send me some links? According to Wikipedai, Ibn Gabriol's secular poems express disillusionment with social mores and worldliness, no mention of wine and sex, unless expressing disillusionment which I have no problem with) please provide evidence. Secular poems just means not used in our siddur.

      Delete
    10. To asterisks guy - as above, you are evincing amaharatzus. R. Yehuda Ha-Levi wrote love poems, I have some in my house. The Ramchal wrote dramas and romances. Are they traditional enough for you?

      I'm not going to waste my time educating you. But its encouraging that you're being exposed somewhat to other viewpoints merely by being here, props to you for that. There's whole world out there, צא ולמד.

      Delete
    11. If you are actually interested, purchase Peter Cole's The Dream of the Poem.

      Here is a link: https://www.amazon.com/Dream-Poem-Christian-950-1492-Translation/dp/0691121958

      Wikipedia is not your best source for this. These guys all wrote poems in the Arabic styles, which included poems of war, drinking poems, sexual imagery-- they'd be fired from any Orthodox shul around today. And they're all pretty darned traditional. We like to pick out aspects of our history that dovetail with our expectations.

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    12. See Norman Roth, the love of boys in medieval Jewish literature

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    13. Here are some of the poems:
      http://www.medievalhebrewpoetry.org/poets/

      This from r. yehuda halevi:
      THE FAIR MAIDEN

      The night when the fair maiden revealed the likeness of her form to me,
      The warmth of her cheeks, the veil of her hair,
      Golden like a topaz, covering
      A brow of smoothest crystal—
      She was like the sun making red in her rising
      The clouds of dawn with the flame of her light.

      or this

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    14. re *************** at 5:26:

      "and the sort of cappul" --- wow! genuine London Anglo-Yiddish! Have not heard that word for many decades. For non-UK readers: "cappul" = kippah or yarmulke. Next Mr. *********** will accuse someone of being a "lobbes".

      Regarding the rest -- read some serious Jewish history.

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    15. A lobbes hahahaha. Haven't heard that in years! It's an anglo-only phrase?

      Delete
  14. In another passing comment that reveals his true colors, Rabbi Gordimer describes Lakewood yeshivah as "the epicenter of Orthodoxy."

    I would say that he's pretty clearly referring to the number of Orthodox people moving to a small town like Lakewood and not characterizing the importance.

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    Replies
    1. Then why Lakewood and not, say, Monsey, which is also massive and rapidly expanding? People generally refer specifically to Lakewood when they want to refer to the yeshiva community, and also will often (mistakenly) assume that everyone moving into the community is associated with the yeshiva.

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    2. Because the episode he referred to was in Lakewood. He was speaking of all rural communities that start to grow too much. Follow the links and see for yourself.

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    3. That's the thing with this blog. RNS likes to make people sounds dumb. Everything changes when you read their actual writings

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    4. That's the thing with this blog. RNS likes to make people sounds dumb. Everything changes when you read their actual writings

      Evidence? That sounds like an unfounded generalization.

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    5. I don't do enough chazzarah on this blog to remember too far back, but as of late I would be referring to this post, as well as the way RNS presented R' Menken with the whole pi "debate". When I read it here first, I couldn't believe how crazy R' Menken sounded. When I actually took the time to read what RM wrote, it sounded like RM did in fact have some valid arguments.

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    6. We won't be able to settle this then, because R Menken's arguments about pi were absurd.

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    7. Fair enough, though I didn't think that to be the case. I don't mean this sarcastically, but I think it's respectable that you defend RNS against attacks like mine. It was a very unspecific dart I threw out there and deserved to be challenged.

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    8. David Ohsie- Monsey is having the same growing pains (something I know as a resident).

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    9. Yes, and he mentions Monsey (emphasis added):

      'I wrote elsewhere recently: “A book must be written about the unprecedented phenomenon of American Orthodoxy substantially retreating from urban centers and relocating in large measure to suburban and rural areas. The relative abandonment of principal institutional infrastructures (such as many of the major New York City yeshivos, in favor of the dozens of small new yeshivos in Monsey, Lakewood and elsewhere), the resultant decentralization of leadership and the potential forfeiture of public influence that this current trend portends absolutely must be documented and considered. It is a seismic shift of historical import.” No, I am not advocating that all Jews live in large cities, but the accelerating, extensive Orthodox population shifts out of major cities, often to communities quite far away from these cities, may have significant unintended consequences.)'

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  15. Or perhaps Lakewood is the "epicenter of Orthodoxy" in the sense that most of the Orthodox world has been pulled into its ideological orbit (though some portions of it may be orbiting at a great distance).

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  16. Berel Dov Lerner: "As is made perfectly clear by the ketubah signed by every married Orthodox Jew, there is nothing traditional about a Jewish man being supported by his wife"

    I am very much a believer in men working. However, your argument is a pet peeve of mine. Rabbenu Tam had a different understanding of the kesubah http://www.torahmusings.com/2012/12/support-your-wife/

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    1. Yes but he had a different take on a lot of things, no?

      Delete
    2. and I was pleasantly surprised to see R. David Lau say this: אברך לא יכול ללמוד תורה על חשבון משפחתו

      http://www.inn.co.il/News/News.aspx/305878

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    3. What about on the cheshbon of the taxpayer?

      Delete
  17. That said, I've seen too many arguments that "RW people aren't traditional" (fine so far) "but MO are."
    This makes no sense.
    Either
    1) the RW world is an innovation, in which case certainly MO is too, because both are innovations as a result of different broadly based schools of thought interacting with the changing times in different ways, which means that the modern MO and RW are by necessity different from anything the world's ever seen before in any era (and also that both movements will probably be unrecognizable in 100 years- remember, it hasn't even been 100 years since the Treaty of Versailles).
    Or:
    2) The broader traditions on which both today's MO and RW movements are based have been in existence and exemplified by different people in each generation since the beginning of Jewish history. There have always been the ones who have tried to withdraw and the ones who have tried to mingle and bring in the outside. There have also always been those in the middle, or those doing whatever they were doing (in both directions) based on life circumstance. So yes, in different areas and different conditions, both MO and RW are "traditional," in that each has a tradition of not only rabbis supporting similar ideas (not specific ones, like the importance of kollel or a college education) but also communities living that way.

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    1. Hold on. That's sounds very pc and groovy but I don't think it's true. A. RW is a response to modernity. You can't have broader earlier traditions regarding something that hasn't happened yet.
      B. MO is arguably just the continuation of Judaism as open as it always was (to a certain degree)but with a new name that more fits it's circumstances.
      So no. Not well said.

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    2. Every generation had their own 'modernity' to deal with.

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    3. Nope. Modernity was a specific phenomenon. Each generation had different phenomenon to face.

      Delete
    4. Certain aspects of the RW mentality are responses to modernity, just like certain aspects of MO mentality are direct influences of modern moral values and cultural norms. No generation can fully extract itself from its given reality to inhabit an intellectual vacuum.
      Yes, perhaps this specific isolationism is unique. Perhaps not. Ever heard of a ghetto? Either way, the issue is not the particular manifestation of the ideal, which, of course must evolve with every generation, but the ideal itself. The fact that there are unique elements to Chareidi lifestyle is immaterial, since aversion to modernity may have always been part of the Jewish philosophy but never needed so sharply until recently. It is more important to evaluate if contemporary Judaism maintains the same value system than if it looks the same externally. Claiming that "Modernity was a specific phenomenon. Each generation had different phenomenon to face." is besides the point. More important to ask, would previous generations have responded equally?
      So, Searcher, well said.

      R Stefansky

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    5. I defy you to provide convincing evidence thataversion to modernity has 'always' been a part of Jewish philosophy. How can it have been when modernity is a 'modern' phenomenon???

      The ghetto was about religious oppression or political oppression. Self enforced isolation as part of an ideology of outright rejection of all the outside world has to offer is also a modern phenomenon. I think you'll find if you pay only minimal attention to the facts that there has been no time in which previous generations responded with anything like the haredi response.

      I agree with you about how no generation can fully extract itself (cripes even the bet hamikdash was built in the contemporary style of ancient world temples) but the question is why on earth would haredim think that trying to do so is in any way a Jewish response?

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    6. Sometimes I think that part of haredi 'scholarship' is just muddying the waters so some form of continuum with an imagined past can be considered a viable 'historical' narrative when in fact nothing could be further from the truth.

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  18. I have never been to Lakewood. I guess I am not connected to the Tradition. ;)

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  19. I'm assuming you all read Rabbi Gordimer's response in cross currents/ matzav.com. He defends himself quite nicely from this articles baseless attacks. I think Slifkin ought to apologize.

    ReplyDelete

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