Monday, January 16, 2017

A Judaism To Be Proud Of

Today, somebody came to meet with me to discuss everything wrong in Orthodox Jewish society (or rather, a particular sector of it). Of course, everything that he said was true, which was rather dispiriting. Tonight, however, my spirits were lifted.

Many people associate Beit Shemesh and especially the neighborhood of Ramat Beit Shemesh with extremist zealots, and with broader charedi efforts to disenfranchise non-charedim and to make the Anglo-charedi community more Israeli. While all of that is unfortunately true, it is also true that before the charedi political takeover of Beit Shemesh, the dati-leumi population was the majority, and they managed to establish many communities, shuls, youth movements and schools before they lost political power. Thus, Beit Shemesh and Ramat Beit Shemesh have several large school campuses of dati-leumi schools (as well as the outstanding Yeshivat Lev HaTorah campus/neighborhood).

Since one of my sons is going to high school next year, we have to choose a school for him. And we are spoiled for choice. There are several dati-leumi yeshivah high schools here, all with a very high standard of both limmudei kodesh and secular studies, and with teachers who actually reflect the hashkafah of the schools (unlike much of what one sees abroad). I checked out the first of these this evening, in an open house that they held.

It was beautiful. On the cover of the flyer that was handed out, it printed a quote from Rav Kook, here in my rather poor translation: "The purpose of education is to prepare a person for his perfect form, to do good and justice, and thus to grow up... and to be of greatest satisfaction to himself and to society." The rebbeim of the school demonstrated clear passion both for Torah and for inspiring the students. There are Tanach-themed excursions. The secular studies include physics, computers, engineering, theater arts, geography, biotechnology, and Arabic, and students can even begin courses for their bachelor's degree. A staggering 80% of the students proceed to hesder yeshivot, where they will learn Torah to an even more advanced level and serve their nation in the IDF.

"This is amazing!" I commented to one of the parents there.

"Oh," she said, "All the schools are like this. They're all fantastic."

I've already been amazed by the elementary schools that my children attend, including such highlights as the extremely moving Yom HaZikaron/ Yom Ha-Atzmaut ceremonies, and my first-grader learning about prehistoric man in archeology class. For all my frustrations with the direction that the city has taken - and since opening the museum, these have only increased - the communities that were built up beforehand are strong and highly impressive. Ashrecha Yisrael!


  1. The challenge with Daati Leumi is that they use the same haskofic metaphysically speculative formula as haredim, but use a different value for the variable.

    Formula: Do X to cause metaphysical action that will cause Moshiach to comee."

    If Hareidi, X = learn Torah.

    If Daati Leumi, X = build settlements on hilltops in West Bank.

    Both Hareidi and Daati Leumi are powered by Hasidic mystical (irrational) speculation.

    Be careful R. Natan. You gave up cherry Kool-aid. Please, don't start drinking grape!

    1. Especially since grape Kool-aid isn't kosher!

    2. Haredi in JerusalemJanuary 17, 2017 at 9:22 PM

      Uh, excuse me, but Haredim learn Torah because it's a Mitzvah and we are commanded to do so, not for the reason you mention.

    3. Certainly true. However there's a lot more variety among dati leumi than charedim. You'll find some quite different views on settlements in Gush, Merkaz HaRav and Maale Adumim for example...

      Whereas in the charedi world only one opinion is acceptable.

  2. Nice to read something positive these days!

  3. From what I saw, after school Daati Leumi live primarily secular lifestyle and their main interests are secular. They are shomer Shabbat of course, but they are hardly those who would be able to keep carrying the Torah through generations.

    1. Depends who you hang around. I know some born and bred DL's who are major talmidei hachamim who are "carrying the Torah", as you put it.
      It is true that the DL world does not put the same emphasis on externals as do the Haredim. In the DL world there are many different paths to personal and social advancement which are respected by the community. In the Haredi world it is much more restricted, with the Lita'i (yeshiva) world pushing Torah scholarship to the exclusion of everything else (I am not sure of what the mainline Hasidic world does). Thus, there are far more options for a DL fellow who is not cut out to be a kollelnik. I presume these are the ones you refer to as "not carrying the Torah". But what about the Lita'i young man who is also not cut out for the kollel world? If he is not studying Torah full-time and is not a talmid hacham is he "carrying the Torah" any more than the DL fellow in the same situation?

    2. as opposed to... those who I see every day who have gone through the charedi school system and have utterly corrupted the Torah so it's not worth passing on through the generations. They are very makpid on kashrut and tzniyut but fail utterly on ben adam vechavero. they are racist and have tendencies to steal public benefits they don't deserve and cheat on their taxes they also avoid army service. hardly the sort of thing God would approve of.

      why don't you stop spewing such vile bile about people who differ from you? You dont like it when it do it. so don't do it to others.

      and if you can't do that, then I say loudly and clearly
      better dati-lite than dati-sick

    3. There is a large range of dati leumi. If you've ever been to a place like Eli you'd see a very different type of dati. They've got their own problems, but you definitely can't accuse them of being uncommitted to judaism

    4. What's wrong with being religious and having a "secular lifestyle"? What is a "secular lifestyle" anyway, especially in a Jewish State?

    5. @Y.Ben-David
      I am not talking about being in a kollel, but about separating time for Torah study as a minimum.

      Start with practicing what you preach.

      I am not saying they are uncommitted to Judaism, but after yeshiva most of them are not continuing learning and [with exceptions of course] are not those who can carry the Torah knowledge לדור ודור.

      Secular lifestyle IMV is when the life is centered around university, work, parties, entertainment, travel, etc even if a person shomer shabbat.

    6. @lazar. I'm afraid you have very little knowledge of what you speak. The baal habatim living in Eli are in general learning far more than I do a day, and very possibly more than you do as well. Perhaps you ought to get out more.

  4. RNS - I believe you owe an apology to R Tropper et al.
    If they hadn't got you in trouble with your books, just imagine the choice of Yeshivos you would be deliberating over where to send your son!!

    1. He is deliberating over where to send his son. Which yeshivah? (Your implication that DL yeshivot are not yeshivot is completely unacceptable.

    2. I think that you missed Baal Ha Boss's sarcasm. And the DL Yeshivot are not Yeshivos :).

  5. r. slifkin, can you please quote in hebrew the citation of the r. kook?


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