Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Kollels and Spaceships

Is the State of Israel a vile, anti-Torah entity? Apparently there was a letter in Mishpacha magazine, two weeks ago, to that effect. I didn't see it myself, but there was a letter responding to it in this week's magazine. The author of the rebuttal wrote at great length about how the State of Israel, regardless of the theology of Zionism and its flaws, has been an enormously positive force for Torah Judaism. I don't have it with me, but as I recall, he wrote about how there are mezuzos on all public buildings, and kosher food at various public institutions. He also wrote at great length about how the State of Israel makes an enormous financial contribution to Torah study, and how as a result, there are more people learning Torah today than at any time in history.

Now all of this is true, and so from a charedi perspective, it is important to have tremendous gratitude to the State of Israel. However, since there are many non-charedim who read Mishpacha (due to the tragic lack of alternatives), I think it's important to clarify two points.

First is that the massive financial support by the state for yeshivos and kollels is not necessarily a good thing. It exists due to the oversized political clout of the charedi political parties, who are happy to sign off on governmental policies regarding the country as long as they receive money for yeshivos. And it fosters a society of dependents who have renounced Chazal's values of independency and raising one's children to be independent. Which will have catastrophic results further down the line.

But I've written about that elsewhere, and it's not the main point that I want to make here. The important point that I'd like to stress is that from a religious perspective, it is a mistake to think that the State of Israel can only be justified from a religious perspective in terms of its support for overtly religious matters.

Chasam Sofer writes about how the economic development of the Land of Israel is part of the mitzvah of yishuv ha'aretz. But there's more than just that. Bein adam lechavero is no less important from a religious perspective than Bein adam leMakom. The fact that the State of Israel provides a home for any Jew around the world is also valuable from a religious perspective. The fact that it provides and maintains an economy in which millions of Jews live their lives is also valuable from a religious perspective. The fact that the State of Israel engages in efforts to help Jews all around the world is also valuable from a religious perspective.

It's generally only the Dati-Leumi community which seems to realize this, but it should be a universal religious perspective. The national material well-being of the Jewish People is also something of religious importance. 

And there's more than that. Even something as seemingly theologically irrelevant as the launch of the Beresheet Moon Lander is significant from a religious perspective. I can't put it any better than Justin Amler did in a spectacular Facebook post, which was then published at the Times of Israel. Here it is, in its entirety:
To Soar Among the Heavens 

I just watched something that is out of the world — something that has left me with a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat. Something that has stirred my soul and filled my heart with wonder and love and joy and pride.

I’ve just watched a rocket launch into space from Cape Canaveral. But this was no ordinary rocket. Aboard this rocket is the first privately built lunar spacecraft that will head to the moon. But not only is this the first privately built lunar spacecraft. It is also the first Israeli spacecraft.

It is called “Beresheet,” which is Hebrew and means “in the beginning.” It is also the first word in the Torah — the Jewish people’s oldest and most precious possession. And aboard this ship of dreams will be our Torah, Israeli songs, drawings by Israeli children, the Israeli national anthem, and our prayers.

I look at this magnificent feat of engineering and I cannot help but gaze upon it with the eyes of a small child, filled with wonder.

Sometimes people say the era of miracles has ended, but then I look at this little country and I look at my people and I look at what they have achieved and still do and I know and am convinced more than ever that the era of miracles has not ended — but indeed continues unabated.

There are so many countries that are against Israel and every day brings more resolutions passed against it, passed by corrupt organizations and even more corrupt people. All around the world, anti-Semitism has been normalized leaving Jews in many parts of the world in actual physical danger. And what many Jews face today is not dissimilar to the darkest days of Europe in the 1930s and 1940s.

It leaves many of us feeling emotionally vulnerable, for a little over 70 years ago, we were a broken people whose ashes were spread in unidentified piles of soot, consumed by the hatred of those around us. We were a people who had no place to call home. We had no one to defend us. We stood alone in the world, shattered and shocked, hurt and bruised, broken and traumatized. Empty.

But not defeated, for we were still alive. Maybe barely. Maybe weakly. But alive. For air still filled our lungs and our flame had not yet been extinguished. And from those ashes of despair, we rose again, as we always have and as we always must.

So slowly, we reclaimed our ancient homeland. And slowly, we began to return. And slowly, our battered bodies began to repair themselves. And slowly, we reclaimed our dignity. And slowly, we reclaimed our honor.

Our enemies still came at us. Still threatened to wipe us out. But we grew stronger and we continued to survive. And not just survive — thrive!

And from this poor destitute people, the heart of Israel beat again. And the nation of Israel rose once more. A poor country struggling on life support fought on — against overwhelming odds, defying the laws of history itself.

For defeat is not part of our story. And those words, words from thousands of years ago, were still ringing in our ears. The words of God that said to a shepherd who stood alone in the world, I will make of you a great nation.

So today, while our enemies launch rockets to kill, we launch rockets to explore. While they look for ways to destroy the world, we look for ways to visit new worlds. While they look for ways to make life miserable for all, we look for ways to make life better for everyone.

So I look at this rocket hurtling into space, aboard it a ship of dreams. A ship built not of steel, but of hope. A ship built not of aluminium, but of aspirations. A living ship whose heart beats strongly, echoing around the world. A ship with a soul — a soul thousands of years old.

And with a pride that cannot be measured, I look to the sky above, to the stars, to the worlds beyond ours. I look at where we have been, how far we have come, and how far we will go. I look at how our people once grounded into dust have risen to soar among the heavens themselves.

In the beginning of time, there was darkness and then there was light. Tonight, there will be one more light above us, one more star adorned with the flag of Israel, shining and glistening in the beautiful heavens, the same heavens which Abraham once looked upon with hope and wonder. And the same heavens, we will be looking upon tonight.
A fabulous piece of writing! But at the same time, we should remember that it's not only in terms of extraordinary achievements that Israel is to be celebrated. The very fact of it existing and functioning as a country is of tremendous religious value.

63 comments:

  1. השמים שמים לה' והארץ נתן לבני אדם. I don't know what contemporary poskim have said about the matter, but putting astronauts into space may be a serious halachic or hashakafic problem, at least for Jews. It looks like 2 out of 14 Jewish astronauts have died in accidents (I don't know the comparable rate for non-Jews) which, perhaps, is Hashem's way of letting us know we don't belong there. I wouldn't be so quick to take it for granted that Israel sending Jews into space is a good thing.

    Shmooli

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. R' Kasher wrote about this in 1969. Settled.

      Delete
    2. Rav Shimon Schwab was very opposed. Settled.

      Shmooli

      Delete
    3. Please elaborate on R' Schwab's view. I should warn you that this request is not completely in good faith. I have a pretty positive view of R' Schwab and I would like to know if I am mistaken, as your comment indicates. To me, you are making a serious indictment requiring elaboration.

      Delete
  2. The State has been terrible for Torah Judaism. It drove nearly a million Sephardic Jews from observance. Just start with that. It has made the rest half crazy, arrogant. In case we have forgotten, arrogance is a sin. Derech eretz disappeared. Now the State threatens to destroy Torah Judaism entirely with the draft. A person has to be very shallow to think that the State has been good for Torah Judaism. Oh, yes they built a few buildings. Wonderful. How easily the eye is fooled. They also have destroyed buildings by the way, like in Beit Shemesh this week, razing shuls and mikvehs. The State of Israel, the one whose declaration of independence and national anthem don't mention God, is anti-Torah, anti-God, a catastrophe for the Jewish people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yankel, I'm surprised you have time for nonsense blog comments. Aren't you busy writing another empty book about wagons?

      Delete
    2. Raffi/Shlomo, I still say it's not him. Reread the Empty book, and see how Israel writes differently. And what Israel said about Rambam in the Sharansky post, YS would never say, as i mentioned there, and that reduces my sympathies for him. YS isn't unique in his opinions. Many others out there have very similar attitudes. Israel would be one of them.

      Delete
    3. I have very little confidence in what you might expect Yankel to say or do. Other than the Satmar Rav, I really don't know whom he respects. The crazed ranting and proselytizing is very reminiscent of Yankel. I prefer to minimize the number of loons out there.

      Delete
  3. Indeed a most wonderful piece.

    When Gd told Avraham, your children will be like the dust, in the light of the Holocaust I now understand it. When He said your children will be like the stars of heaven, I now understand that, too.

    Thank you, Gd, for the land and State of Israel.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Maybe I just don't look up enough but I am not so inspired by the recent launch. And perhaps there is a Jewish angle to it. If one of our tasks is bringing Godliness and goodness into the world, how do this accomplish those goals?
    So an Israeli piece of tech will sit on the moon. And then what? How will the data it sends back, as interesting as it might be, improve living conditions on the planet? How will it change the moral decline of Western civilization?
    More: how much did developing this module cost? How many homeless people could have been given food and shelter for that money? Why are we worrying about a large rock in space when we haven't dealt with so much suffering down here?
    In short, it's a great achievement. The Israelis have managed to be just like the Americans, Russians and Chinese. So?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So basically, like the old Yiddishe joke, you ask, "Is it good for the Jews?"
      Of course, in this kind of situation, people in every culture ask that kind of question. "Why waste money to send people to the moon when we have [insert social problem of choice] here?"
      My reaction to this, similar to my reaction to students in class who whine "Why do we need to know this?" is perhaps today there is no direct benefit, but who knows what tomorrow will bring. Maybe having a moon base will be useful in war, in communications, in further exploration, in mining space objects. Maybe one day we will settle the moon, and Israel will have some real estate to use or to sell. Or maybe - like making a nuclear bomb - it's to indicate to the surrounding nations that Israel is a Power To Be Reckoned with. Or maybe it's just a prestige thing, but it's another positive tick in the checkboxes of history.
      A country does not sustain itself by food alone. Morale and self-pride are useful and important things for a country to engender in its citizens.

      Delete
    2. Besides, Space Is Coming. Whether it be with NASA, Elon Musk, Virgin Galactic, Jeff Bezos, or whoever, humans are trying to break free from gravity. Like the Age of Exploration of Columbus' time, it will start like a little pointless trickle and then grow into something nobody could have predicted. Do we want to be left out?

      Delete
  5. R' David Ganz who wrote the Biblical History book "Seder Olam" worked briefly with Kepler at the observatory in renaissance Prague.

    R' Levi Ben Gerson has a major crater named for him on the lunar surface.

    I am sure they would be enormous proud to see the modern Israeli state taking an active part among the space faring nations.

    Indeed for the money we spend in space we could feed and house every person on this planet in decent conditions. Their is next to ZERO will to do that and Garnel Ironheart ought to understand that the selfish far far far exceed the giving on this planet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As a student of the Maharal, I'd think he would not be proud of a society of 4.5 million Sabbath violators. Rather, it would sicken him regardless of its cute little moon launch.

      Delete
    2. There is no evidence that the percentage of non-Frum is significantly different than during the Maharal's lifetime. Instead of being sickened, he might be heartened to know that 4.5 million Jews even exist.

      Is there a particular reason you are so sickeningly negative with respect to the state of Israel? Did it touch you in a bad way? Did it call you a poopy head?

      Delete
    3. The percentage of Jews who are Shabbos observant in Israel is greater than the percentage of Shabbos-observant Jews in the United States. I think it's something like 20% in Israel, as opposed to only 10% in the U.S.
      There is a greater recognition of Shabbat in Israel as well, since in much of the country, stores are required to be closed, and there is no public transportation. I don't think the situation would be better if there weren't a state of Israel (G-d Forbid).

      Delete
    4. Yehdua, Judaism is not a numbers game. God is interested in the best not the mediocre. The Chumash tells the story of great people, not average people. And anyone can become great. why do we have stories of whole communities that were wiped out because of what seem to us small religious deficiencies like talking in shul? Hashem wants holiness. Eretz Yisroel is not a kiruv school. It's the Holy Land. You are not allowed to sin in the Holy Land even if it gets you a few more Shabbos observers. And note, while a higher percentage is Shabbos observant, they have all sorts of other problems, like bad middos, angry personalities, really scary selfishness, and about half of them worship the army.

      Delete
    5. There are way more non-frum today than in the Maharal's time but that isn't the point. The point is that today there are 4.5 non-frum in the Holy Land and that certainly wasn't the case in the Maharal's time. Sin is not tolerated in EY. The land will spit you out. If you don't know that, then you don't grasp that it is a Holy Land. EY is not just another place, like Ireland, the Jewish Ireland. It's not the locale where we'll have our own thing going. It's different from any other place on earth. It's holy. And sin is not tolerated. And so the State of Israel is the gravest threat to the Jews there because it is polluting the land beyond belief. That should answer your question. The Zionists have trained everyone that the biggest problem facing the Jews is the Arabs. Actually, the biggest problem is our own sin. The Arabs are just a byproduct of that. And so Zionism secularizes everything including the essential principles of Judaism.

      Delete
    6. Over 20% of Jews in Israel are fully observant. Another 20% or so describe themselves as "traditional religious," which pretty much means observant. Another 20% or so are "traditional," which means they observe Shabbat to a great degree. The remainder are "secular" and even many of them observe to a degree.

      So "4.5 million" is made up.

      Delete
    7. The Ibn Ezra also has a crater on the moon named for him. (Abenezra.)

      Delete
    8. @Israel

      You claim that "Judaism is not a numbers game" but you continuously quote this "4.5 million" statistic that is based on nothing. You also casually go from 4.5 million "Shabbos violators" to 4.5 million "non-frum", which is very problematic.

      "why do we have stories of whole communities that were wiped out because of what seem to us small religious deficiencies like talking in shul?"
      -What in the world are you talking about??????

      No one is saying the state is the ideal. The beit hamikdash will not fall from the sky, and once you realize that then you'll see that the state is a stepping stone towards the ideal matzav of the land of Israel.
      You keep saying that the land is "holy" and that God wants "holiness". I believe it was the Meshech Chochmah who said in relation to the land of Israel that first it will "yitgadal"before it can be "vayitkadash". Try to have an optimistic eye and who knows, maybe you'll come out smarter as well.

      Delete
    9. "God is interested in the best not the mediocre."

      God is interested in people who try their best considering the circumstances they're given. The best don't look down on others either. Avraham Avinu was not sickened by Sdom and Amora, he davened for them.

      Delete
    10. It's always fascinating to hear liberal-speak from Zionists as they can't decide if they want to be fascists or leftists.

      God is interested in the best and anyone can become the best. That's the way to think of it, rather than everyone is wonderful. That produces excellence. Tell me what happens in the next world. Are we all equal? Or do the tzadickim get a far better experience? You are trying to impose a philosophy of mediocrity on the Torah.

      Delete
    11. The state is not a stepping stone towards anything good. It has ruined Judaism. Not only did it drive 1 million people off the derech but it took millions of others and convinced them that "supporting" the state, whatever the means in reality, is good enough. You don't need Shabbos, you just need to be a Zionist. Even the modern orthodox suffer from this. Take a look at the mission statements of MO schools. They pretty much all say 'our values are Torah, the land of Israel, and the state of Israel." God is not in the picture. The state has taken half of the Jewish people and turned them into Israelis, which means hyper aggressive, angry, impatient, no derech eretz, and increasingly fascistic. And did I mention humorless. Even the Charedim have been damaged by it by the militarism that now affects the Charedi mindset, by not allowing Charedi men to work (yes, it's the fault of Zionism), by making a god of Arab hatred and the Holocaust and antisemitism. Zionism has caused us all to forget about Hashem and to spend our days obsessing about these side topics. Zionist is the ultimate con, the final lie of history.

      Delete
    12. Not a numbers game means we don't dilute the religion to attract people. It doesn't mean that we don't count the losses. This isn't an exercise in judging people. We are debating whether a philosophy works or not. The millions of non-frum Shabbos violation in Israel matter. But we don't pollute the religion to get them back.

      Delete
    13. "God is interested in people who try their best considering the circumstances" People who try their best are not mediocre. I'm not talking about genius as the goal. I'm talking about trying. But people who try don't stay mediocre. Hashem helps them.

      Delete
    14. As the final arbiter of who is trying their best and who is and isn't a tzaddik, I had best not argue with you. I do know now that rising above mediocrity has nothing to do with anavah, ahavas Yisrael, ahavas habrios or dan l'caf zechus. Appreciate the lesson!

      Delete
    15. @Israel

      The "next world" is something that no one can define with certainty, and certainly not you.The term "tzaddikim" is subjective, and I suspect that your understanding of a "tzaddik" is far different, and likely distorted, from the rest of klal Yisrael.
      While you accuse others of imposing "mediocrity" on the Torah, it is the far-right that does the opposite but to the extreme, where every flaw of anyone in Tanach is seen as a mayseh l'shem shamayim but that missed the mark by a hair. What this does is turn every role model in Tanach into an angel, and the Torah wasn't given to angels. In place of learning from the mistakes of the characters in Tanach, the far-right perverts the reality of the Torah and creates individuals who we can not relate to. No, God does want "the best", He wants us to keep his mitzvos, which includes bein adam l'makom and bein adam l'chavero. Where does it insinuate He wants "the best", and what is "the best" in your myopic distorted view?

      I don't know where "the state" has purposely given off the impression "You don't need Shabbos, you just need to be a Zionist", and I don't see where the MO schools have done so as well. You are created a false reality, which is likely a result of your insular background that knows nothing of the world outside itself.

      Everything that is wrong with Judaism, in your eyes, is the fault of Zionism. Someone who cannot stand up and express their own faults and how the blame lies on themselves speaks volumes.

      Delete
  6. Natan, I have come to appreciate your willingness to post all comments even those comments which clearly are in direct conflict with your veiws, ideologies and common sense. After reading (based on your recommendation) Natan Sharansky's Autobiography as well as his book "The Case For Democracy" I know understand this willingness of yours. You are a true talmid of Sharansky!
    2 questions for you:
    Why do you moderate the allowing of comments at all, since it would seem 99% of comments are altogether let on your blog.
    More importantly, I truly wonder are you not concerned lest you be providing a platform for your opponents to espouse veiws that are contrary to yours? (I was personally shocked that in the previous post you provided me with full rein to espouse, perhaps even a platform to attack the position of modern Orthodoxy)!!!!! Why?! I thank you for the generosity and am very much appreciative, but why would you consent to such a thing?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is breathtaking to witness the unadultered shock and wonder through which people from even mildly repressive societies and world-views behold free speech and an honest search for truth when they finally realize it is not fake and no trick.

      Modern_Orthodox - it is called transparency, liberty and freedom, and it is the breeding ground for good ideas and healthy discussion. It is how humanity can sift through the products of its intellect, discard that which does not stand up to scrutiny, and adopt that which does. Welcome.

      Delete
    2. It would be enlightening if perhaps Natan could answer for himself as to why he allows individuals to troll his blog. As for enlightenment/freedom, a maskil once met R' Yisrael Salanter and exclaimed in wonderment "such enlightenment I have never seen". "There is no free person other than one who is envolved in Torah". In other words, being "free in the physical sense but a slave to one's Desires in the spiritual sense is equated to bondage". The freedom you speak about is illusionary....

      Delete
    3. Also, good arguments help one solidify one's own thoughts. This falls under "Umitalmidai yoser mikulam," as our students raise objections, forcing us to hone our opinions and teachings.

      Many MO people (including me) grow up not realizing that Modern Orthodoxy is actually a sheetah and not a watered down compromise. Learning about ideas [mostly] from Maran HaRav Soloveitchik and from others like Rav Slifkin brings about a better understanding of our world. And knowing the questions against the position helps us understand the answers even better.

      Delete
    4. Baal sheetah is the most flawed service of God, since the reason and motivation for serving God is based upon human convictions and biases rather than serving God out of love or fear - the correct path.. .

      Delete
    5. yosef r,

      this is too broad of a topic to be hashed out on this blog, but it bears mentioning none the less. MO as a shita is essentially charedi in it's ideological orientation, differing only in tactics and emphasis. on the other hand, MO as practiced is indeed a watered down compromise, as it does not make any attempt to live up to it's own stated ideals. this was a point repeatedly made by R' aharon lichtenstein, both in his public pronouncements and in his writings.

      Delete
    6. The Sanhedrin began its deliberations from the youngest member precisely so that such freedom of expression would occur. It is not illusory, it is the basis of intellectual inquiry. The very ability of religious enclaves such as haredim to exist within modern society is thanks to this philosophy - and your original comment notes that you have come to recognize that on this blog.

      Delete
    7. "troll his blog" That's a little cynical. People get caught up in debates. I suppose they continue in them for all kinds of reasons if none other than once you click notify me you get emails where people reply to your comments. If you don't want to hear from people who disagree with you then don't reply to them. I stop by this blog from time to time. There can be good content here even though my perspective on life is very different from Natan's in many areas. I don't come "to troll" whatever that new fangled term really means. I think it means, I can't handle anyone who has an opinion different from mine, so I call them ugly names like troll rather than engage in debate.

      Delete
    8. "Modern Orthodoxy is actually a sheetah and not a watered down compromise"

      MO can be a shitah and not a dilution but it tends to be a dilution. The early MO were often real Torah u'maddah. But mostly today it seems to me MO is just secular values with a yarmulke on top. Just rife with materialism and its children feminism and nationalism.

      Delete
    9. Anonymous and Israel, about MO's history and essence, I don't disagree with you that in practice it often does develop that way (and yes, whole essays and books, maybe, have been written about this so this ain't the forum for much delving), but it was eye-opening to me to learn that MO even HAD ideals and a shitah behind it.

      So yes, b'shitah, there are those who feel that this is the ideal way to live in this world. Is it a higher risk for overdilution and wandering off of the derech? For many, yes, but we cannot ignore the benefits of having "the best of both worlds" and risks of being too insular. (-and by the best of both worlds I do not mean popular culture but rather certain, ah, bein adam lachaveiro aspects, and of course the ability to help each other by learning a profession. Risks of being too insular I forward the reader to the many previous posts on this blog.)

      And I don't understand M_O's comment about Baal Sheetah being flawed. Doesn't having a sheetah mean that this is how one understands truth? If you approach MO indeed not as a compromise but as a continuation of how Israelite society was supposed to be ("v'asafta d'gancha tiroshcha v'yitzharecha") then yes, this is truth based on love of G-d. Those who refuse to do so, preferring to only do "v'dibarta bam" are limiting their observance based on human convictions and biases.

      Delete
    10. @ Modern_Orthodox

      By saying that MO is a "sheetah" it means that it's an actual derech in avodas Hashem, and it just so happens that it includes a more thought-out and intellectual approach to serving God, wheres Jews of other sects tend to be robotic zombies that don't use their minds.
      Indeed MO has its "flaws" (you said it was "the most flawed"?) but so do the other parts of orthodoxy. Everyone can argue which one has more problems or which ones are more serious. The point is that both avenues of Judaism have major issues, and instead of focusing our attention on our own problems many of us dedicate all our energy in disparaging the other side.


      @Israel

      Kudos for saying that "MO can be a shitah".
      From my end, I see it too: Ultra Orthodoxy "can be a shitah and not a" mindless mass of ignorant Jews who have no derech eretz or education, "but it tends to be". "But mostly today it seems to me" that Ultra Orthodoxy/Chareidi Judaism "is just" filled with misguided and perverted values that they espouse as being true to Torah, "with a yarmulke and black hat on top" with tzitzis and peyos flapping in the wind. "Just rife with" neglect of their families, poor education, dirty homes, sick and rude children, feminine abuse, and xenophia.

      No, I actually don't feel that way, but those are the descriptions of Ultra Orthodoxy that people will see when they over-generalize, while at the same time failing to see their own faults.

      Delete
    11. Seems to me that Torah u'madah is a shitah. It can be a valid derech I think. R' Soloveitchik is an example. R' Wurtzberger. R' Lichtenstein. R' Carmy, R' Lamm. And regular people that I have known too. But it's not an easy route. To spend so much time immersed in gentile thought one has to work very hard not to be overtaken by it. And all of those people were to some extent, but still they accomplished a lot. Problem is the average person crumbles under Torah u'maddah. Can't handle it. Won't put in the work. As for ultra-Orthodoxy, it is b'deved. It emerged mostly in Israel as a result of Zionism. The militancy of ultra-orthodoxy comes from the influence of the militarism of Zionism. You can blame the Zionists for ultra-Orthodoxy.

      Delete
    12. You are quoting modern day Rabbis as your examples of "Torah u'madah" Jews; What exactly is your definition of "Torah u'mada" because my understanding of it applies to Rabbis from centuries ago, not something made up in the last few decades.

      "it's not an easy route"
      I thought God wants the best (in your own words)? And being the best is never easy.
      But even according to me, who doesn't believe that God "wants the best", "not an easy route" is simply a cop-out and just an indication that following another derech because "it's easier" demonstrates that the weakness of that derech you are settling on.

      "To spend so much time immersed in gentile thought"
      Like what are we discussing here? Sciences? Math? Medicine? History?
      When it comes to philosophy, that's an entirely different discussion and, while I don't have broyges with those who do it, I myself do not promote learning secular philosophy, and that's a personal choice. But when it comes to all the other fields I mentioned (again, which I'm assuming you would include into "Torah u'mada"), what exactly are you concerned that one will be "overtaken by"?

      "As for ultra-Orthodoxy, it is b'deved...You can blame the Zionists for ultra-Orthodoxy."
      Okay then... We are clearly on different pages for many reasons here. What are you defining as "ultra-orthodoxy" and how on earth can you blame "the zionists" for it??
      Again, you love to blame others for everything, and I guess that's not gonna change. But putting aside the ridiculousness of that comment, whatever points I made earlier apply to the chareidi kollel lifestyle as well (which is why I included "chareidi Judaism" in my previous statement; please read) so your response is, again, a cop-out.

      Whatever definition you have for "ultra-orthodoxy", you call it "bedi'eved". It's almost as if you truly believe that the derech you follow is the only way to go and anything outside of it is, in one way or another, not the ideal. Try looking into your own derech and all the faults that go along with it (judging from your comments, there are many) and it will do you some good.

      Delete
    13. It's hard to know who was TUM from centuries ago because references to studying nature alone don't prove it. Referencing a secular thinker or two doesn't do it. The Chovovos HaLevavos says he utilized wisdom from gentile philosophers. But the book in general doesn't seem TUM. I didn't say TUM is the best route, just not an easy one. I for one don't think learning from the gentiles has to be limited to science. Why would there be this artificial division line? Why can't you learn from Shakespeare? Problem is, you get alot of bad with the good. I don't blame everyone for everything I blame Zionism for everything :) Zionistic militarism infected the frum world and created contemporary Charedism. Made people dictatorial and conformist and hateful, which is the military.

      Delete
    14. You never responded with how you define "torah u'mada"

      "I didn't say TUM is the best route".
      you didn't get my point. I said that, in your words, "God wants the best". So , not following a certain derech because "it's not an easy one" is not someone "trying their best", which you said is God's focus

      Your point of view about zionism is disturbing. Are you charedi btw?

      Delete
  7. Replies
    1. He knows how painful it is to be censored, how boring it all gets to live in an echo chamber. Sadly, many frum Jews and nearly all Jews in the state of Israel want to live in an echo chamber, they want all dissent silenced. Because anybody with an opinion different than mine must be wrong. I know all! That's the usual posture. And the Zionists are worse than the Charedim on this. That's where the Charedim get it from. Remember the words of Rabbi Soloveitchik: "Now there is an official public opinion which is molded not by religious, but by secular, Jews. People used to accuse us Orthodox Jews that we are intolerant. We are very tolerant, in comparison to Zionists. Let somebody try to say anything not in agreement with Begin -- אחת דתו להמית. You can say a lot not in agreement with Moshe Rabbeinu, but you must not deny Begin's theories. I am not joking. I can't yield to that. I am not a politician." (Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, The Rav Thinking Aloud, pp. 239-40)

      Delete
    2. Daily repost's from "The Empty Wagon" How about posting from "A Question of Redemption; can the Modern State of Israel be the beginning of Redemption"
      Would be interesting to see if you can refute anything from that highly sourced book. Every conclusion that Yakov Shapiro makes in his book is handily refuted in "A Question of Redemption"

      Delete
    3. Give us an example. I have found that every one of those this is a redemption arguments is very shallow.

      Delete
    4. You would, Yankel.

      Delete
  8. How does this emotional piece address religious significance? I see lots of Kochi v'otzem yadi and maybe some sociology/anthropology, but no religion. Twain also wrote beautiful things about our people. As others have said (for their stated reasons and some of my own).... I just don't get it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, the craft is named after the Act of Creation and carries a Tanach. That's a good start.

      (Bibi requested the Tanach, but they'd already loaded it.)

      Delete
  9. Let's not forget that the moon represents Yisrael [while the sun represents the Umos HaOlam], and so trying to reach it is only natural.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let's not forget that when religious people write dumb stuff like that, humankind turns away from God.

      Delete
    2. Let's not forget that when people miss a joke on the internet, everyone has to read long-winded responses and explanations and possibly unending comment threads.

      Yes, I made a lighthearted comment incorporating midrashic ideas. I thought the readers of this blog were aware enough of such things (such as the comparison of the fifteen generations before David/Shlomo to the waxing moon in the beginning of the month and the 15 generations after to the waning moon, closing with hester panim in darkness at the time of Tzidkiyahu and Churban HaBayis. Or the Gemara which says that a solar eclipse is a bad sign for the nations of the world but a lunar eclipse is a bad sign for "the enemies of Yisrael") and have a sense of humor to enjoy the connection, but perhaps I was wrong.

      Knowing the natural and scientific meaning behind things does not rob them of their religious/philosophical significance - should we no longer make a bracha on seeing a rainbow? Do we deny the idea that the presence of a rainbow is actually a negative thing since it implies that Hashem considered bringing another Flood simply bc we know how it works and how it technically can show up all the time?

      In any event, Fozzie, if you would read any of the others of my posts on this page you would know I am not trying to over religious-ize everything. I have no quarrel with you, based on what I have read of your previous posts over the years. I just thought this was a cute reference.

      Delete
  10. Historical note:
    The Apollo 11 (verify the number) astronauts, during their live prime time broadcast with the still famous picture of Earth, read from the beginning of sefer breishit (obviously, a Christian translation) in the beginning, etc

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was Apollo 8.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_8_Genesis_reading

      " Bill Anders, Jim Lovell, and Frank Borman recited Genesis chapter 1, verses 1 through 10 verbatim, using the King James Version text. Anders read verses 1–4, Lovell read verses 5–8, and Borman read verses 9–10, concluding the transmission."

      Delete
    2. It was Apollo 8, the first manned mission to reach the moon. Another, I think Apollo 10, which was the next (Apollo 9 stayed in Earth orbit), read pesukim from the Neviim and Tehillim about the moon.

      R' Kasher mentions this in his book on the subject, and declares what a bracha it was that the Russians didn't get there first and declare that it was due to atheism.

      Delete
    3. Correction -- Apollo 8. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_8_Genesis_reading

      Delete
  11. Two of your commenters, Israel and Garnel Ironheart, represent two fascinating polar opposite viewpoints here. Both of them see no significance to the spacecraft. One, because not everyone is Shomer Shabbos, and the other, because there are still homeless people. Polar opposite reasons, but agreed in that in their view it's enough to make the achievement - and the whole state of Israel, too, it would appear - meaningless.

    Many of us in the broad middle might find these extreme positions incredibly small minded, a total failure to grasp the bigger picture. But its a useful reminder that these points of view exist, always have, and always will. Worth bearing in mind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I once had back issues of the magazine "Physics Today", dating from July 1969, at the time the Apollo 11 launch. The article talked about the criticism that Americans had that the money for the Apollo mission was better spent on things down here! (The question arose again with the Challenger and Columbia tragedies, seeing how much more can be accomplished with unmanned missions.)
      There will always be this criticism, in every country: Why should there be so much money spent on experiments at CERN, Fermilab, or SLAC, if there are homeless people or people who don't have enough for basic health care?

      Delete
    2. Yes. I had the same thought watching the recent "First Man" movie about Neal Armstrong, which also had clips of some people making the same claims. No matter what the project or initiative, there will always be some people who say the money or time would be better spent elsewhere.

      Delete
  12. "There are so many countries that are against Israel and every day brings more resolutions passed against it, passed by corrupt organizations" Now there's another topic entirely. Who is against Israel? What a childish statement. Magical thinking. They are just against Israel. Ahhhh, Ahhhh. Maybe they are critical of Israeli policy. Imagine that. What does it even mean to say they are against Israel. What does against mean? Israel does some terrible things.

    ReplyDelete

Comments for this blog are moderated. Please see this post about the comments policy for details. ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL NOT BE POSTED - please use either your real name or a pseudonym.

Which Threat Is Scarier?

My two youngest children, ages 10 and 6, had a scary day at school in which everyone was talking about the missiles falling in various par...