Monday, September 13, 2021

From Bais Yaakov to MD, Conclusion

From Bais Yaakov to MD: 

A Post-Charedi Bais Yaakov Graduate Speaks Out 

Guest post by Dr. Efrat Bruck

Part Four (read part one here, part two here, and part three here)


7. The Daas Torah-Hashgachah-Bashert Triad that conveniently keeps people in. 

Daas Torah, as understood by charedi society, is central to its viability and function. It means that those who have studied Torah, especially to the exclusion of other secular subjects, have if not direct ruach hakodesh, the optimal ability to answer questions both halachic and non-halachic. I’m using hashgachah loosely here to refer to the general concept of things happening with the intention of pushing our life in a particular direction and bashert as referring to large events, like the person you mar
ry, the job you land etc… If you put these three concepts together, as interpreted by charedi ideology, you end up with an extremely convenient way to keep people in the charedi fold. 

I went to a Seminary that even by charedi standards would be considered very right-wing. I was miserable and while I wasn’t clinically depressed, I came very close to it. Instead of acknowledging that I was in an ill-suited environment due to circumstances that were beyond my control, and instead of focusing on how when year was over, I would be able to choose a more appropriate environment for my well-being, I found myself doing what I was taught by all my high school teachers. I decided that it was bashert for me to have gone to that seminary, and it must have been so that I can “grow”. I doubled down on my learning, tznius, and emunah, pushing myself further into what was actually causing my misery.

In my early 20’s I dated a young man who attended a charedi Yeshivah, but had hashkafos that were not quite “proper”. He had a rationalist bent and told me scandalous things, for example, that the Chazon Ish’s medical knowledge was not from his Torah-learning, but from his having read many medical textbooks in his youth. He also admitted to having watched a PG-13 movie the other day. When family members found out, they tried aggressively to push me away from this shidduch. They told me to go ask Daas Torah, which I did. The Rav’s position was very clear. This young man was poisonous. “Do you know what happened in Spain in 1492?” he said to me. “All those Jews who tried to ‘understand’ everything rationally converted to Christianity. It was those with ‘simple emunah’ who chose to leave.” Then he went on to tell me what I speak about in #1, that men who watch movies make terrible husbands because they have a warped view of women and “you can never satisfy them in the bedroom”.

What can a 21-year old girl say to that? Our prefrontal cortex is not fully developed until we are 25, so today I give myself some grace for my decision, but of course I dropped the shidduch immediately. I was consoled by something we had learned back in Seminary. It’s all bashert. Which Rav’s doorstep you land on. How he understands your question. What his answer is. It was all meant to be and for my best. That was the answer we repeatedly got when we asked: “How can two people come to a Rav with the same exact question and get two different answers?”

This story repeated itself again when I was 23. Similar type of shidduch, I went to ask a Rav #2, and because the boy’s hashkafos were somewhat out-of-bounds with charedi ideology, the Rav decided that the boy wouldn’t be a good father - “modern boys like him don’t prioritize their families” – (see #1 again) and “he won’t say divrei Torah at the Shabbos table.” The 3rd time this happened (I had just turned 25!) I went back to Rav #2. The Rav listened and said, “The only way this shidduch would work is if this young man doesn’t follow his [non-charedi] Rosh Yeshivah and learns to be normal and fit in with the frum velt.” 

It was like a bolt of lightning lit the neurons in my brain on fire all at once. It finally clicked. He, the Rav, was normal, frum, and real. Everyone outside of those boundaries was not a normal frum Jew. The egocentricity of it all stared me in the face, and I realized that this was no longer an isolated incident, but a deeply ingrained pattern. I also started to connect the Daas-Torah-hashgachah-bashert dots; you have a problem that challenges charedi boundaries, you go to Daas Torah who will make sure you stay safely in those boundaries, and then it was all bashert. I politely ended the conversation. I was done with Daas Torah making decisions for me. I married that boy a few months later.

The truth is, my doubts about Daas-Torah were sown 2 years prior when I spent a summer in Israel. I volunteered to help stay with the wife of a Gadol a few times a week, as both she and the Gadol were advancing in their age and needed 24/7 assistance. I was there during the hours that people came to ask the Gadol questions. He was hard of hearing and the entire process was very taxing for him. The gabbai would speak loudly right into his ear and sometimes, even then, he wasn’t able to process what was being said. One day, a women came in, and was trying to ask if she can read “secular books” to help her son who was diagnosed with ADHD and struggling in school. The gabbai tried to explain the question, but it was obvious that the only part the Gadol was able to grasp was the “secular books”. He waved his hands assertively and said, “secular books aren’t good”. And that was that. The woman walked out and I can recall the pained, desperate look on her face to this moment. I wanted to run after her and say, “Go ask someone else, the Rav doesn’t hear well!” I was angry at the Gabbai for not taking responsibility for the situation and I’m also angry at myself for not telling the woman anything. 

It was also during that summer that I went to speak to a Gadol about my disappointment at not being allowed to learn Gemara. He told me, “This is how Hashem made the world and there’s no reason to question it.” My respect for his Torah scholarship, leadership, and other accomplishments were not necessarily diminished. But a special, divinely-inspired answer - that was not. 

Somehow, I had experiences that made me question the Daas-Torah-hashgachah-bashert triad. But it is an extremely effective way to keep people contained within charedi society, even when there are significant elements of the lifestyle that are bothering them. 

My story is not unique. I have heard many examples of people who were impacted by Daas Torah swaying them on major life decisions that were not tied to any halachic questions. Whether or not the current charedi version of Daas Torah was instituted intentionally or not is debatable, but it has become an integral pillar of charedi society and remains vital to its function. How else do you systematically keep people contained in a structure that relies on insularity and a set of ideas that is challenged when they poke their heads out of the bubble? There must be checkpoints to guard people’s exits. What I describe here is an example of how Daas Torah personally affects people’s lives on a micro level, but there are also hugely significant effects on a societal, or macro, level that warrant a dedicated discussion of their own.

About the Author:
Efrat Bruck, MD, graduated from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and is now an anesthesiology resident at the Mount Sinai Hospital. Before medical school, she taught Judaic studies, Hebrew, and Biology to 1000 now-alumni of Be’er Hagolah Institutes, in Brooklyn, NY. Dr. Bruck has worked as a content specialist for Khan Academy and created over 30 MCAT preparation videos on topics in molecular biology, DNA, and genetics that have also recently been translated into foreign languages.  Her videos have been published on the AAMC (American Association of Medical Colleges) website, Khan Academy, and YouTube, accruing millions of views on the latter. Dr. Bruck has published research in Nature, the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, and Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Dr. Bruck founded and leads the JOWMA PreMed Society that aims to advance Jewish women, from all backgrounds, in medicine. Dr. Bruck is a fierce advocate for premed students from insular and underrepresented backgrounds and strives to provide them with the resources and tools necessary to compete. ( She was among two out of 200 graduating MDs, PhDs, and MD/PhDs at Sinai’s recent commencement to be awarded the Patricia Levinson Award for the Advancement and Inclusion of Women in Medicine. Dr. Bruck, along with her colleagues at JOWMA, is also currently in the process of constructing a cultural competency curriculum that will help healthcare professionals in New York City hospitals provide culturally sensitive medical care to Jewish populations across the entire spectrum of Orthodoxy.   
Dr. Bruck’s experiences in education, acceptance to nearly 10 US MD programs, and service on the admissions committee of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have led her to have a highly successful track record helping premeds navigate the medical school application process. She is the founder and CEO of MDInspire, a medical school admissions consultancy that provides professional consulting for fees that are reasonable and a fraction of the standard costs. Dr. Bruck specializes in helping people weave their stories seamlessly through their application, building stellar personal statements and activities sections, interview preparation, and coaching students on how to study smarter, not harder. For more information, please visit:
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not reflect the opinions or positions of JOWMA.


  1. The poor girl mixes many correct and wrong things together.
    Assume one step further. A Jewish girl is dated with Christian Jewish boy, goes to ask a rabbi opinion, and the rabbi says her: “The only way this shidduch would work is if this young man doesn’t follow his priest and learns to be normal and fit in with the Tora observance behaviour.” Any objections? If we, observant Jews, consider Christianity erring in its core, why are we prohibited from considering other streams within Judaism as erring and not Jewish enough? Even if not in the same level of errance.
    Moreover, consider the opposite case. A Dati-Leumi girl is dating with Haredi boy, and a[nother] rabbi says her: “The only way this shidduch would work is if this young man gets a secular education and learns to be normal.” Is it a reason to abandon the Dati-Leumi society? Is it a reason to abandon the commandments? Gentlemen, your thoughts please.

    1. 1. It's against halacha to marry a non-Jew. It's not against halacha to marry any sort of Jew. (Leaving aside kehuna issues and so on.) Believe it or not, in Israel there are even many marriages between religious and non-religious people, and the shidduchim work and the kids turn out nice and religious. The current Prime Minister is one such example. (In practical terms, the non-religious spouse usually ends up very if not completely observant. Obviously at the very least both spouses have to follow taharat hamishpacha for it to work, but a huge number of non-dati Israelis do anyway.)

      2. Dati Leumi and Modern Orthodox people tend not to break off matches because other people tell them to.

      3. A charedi dating a non-charedi is already veering from charedism in a significant way. (Or the non-charedi is veering from their world.) So again, it's not an issue.

      4. Raising practical concerns, e.g., "How is he going to make a living?", is not at all the same thing as saying, "He's not normal, so don't marry him."

      Incidentally, no one here is abandoning their society (lots of charedim end up working, serving in the army, and so on) and certainly no one is abandoning the commandments. I know some people find this hard to grasp, but there are completely observant non-charedim out there.

    2. I don't know that either her comments or your point demonstrates any confusion of correct and incorrect things.

      Essentially, you're both saying the same thing. That when you ask advice, you ought to go to someone who sees the world the way you do, but is merely more experienced and therefore in a position to provide sage advice. When you seek advice, you're basically trying to live your own life the way you want to, but you are admitting that you don't know what to do because you cannot figure out what would be best for you, either out of ignorance (you haven't yet been in this circumstance to know how to navigate it) or lack of clarity (you are blinded by something that your mentor would not be, whether it be lust or ambition or cowardice or fear, etc).

      What Efrat is expressing here, as I see it, was that she didn't realize at first that she was asking the wrong person for advice. Sure, from the rabbis' perspectives, these boys were seen as members of an out-group, but from her perspective (which she perhaps hadn't yet sufficiently developed in her mind), they were not. In fact, it was the rabbi who was a member of an out-group, and she just didn't realize it yet. After living these life situations, and maturing under these experiences, she was able to better decide who she was and what she wanted. And whatever it was that she wanted, it did not include how this rabbi saw the world.

    3. Also, brodsky is conflating.
      The case of intermarriage is not the same as variable religiosity. Saying that he is not "normal" is not applicable to someone not Jewish -he may BE perfectly normal.

    4. The poor brodsky mixes "Jews not practicing exactly the way I do" with Christianity.

  2. Everything in this screed, to the extent that it reflects a tiny amount of truth, is ridiculously and grotesquely blown out of proportion. Just like when the doctor said that frum women are seething and simmering with rage at the thought of not learning gemara or becoming rabbis. It makes Julia Haart look like a paragon of honesty.

    Those of us who actually live in the so-called "chareidi" society know this. The entire essay sounds like a cartoonish comedy show, and bears very little resemblance to our lived experience. It would be like me saying "Modern Orthodoxy is based on the goyishness-ta'avah-cochi v'otzem yadi triad. Their entire ideology is centered on these three things. One time, I asked my Modern Orthodox Rabbi Doctor if it's a good idea to send my son to yeshiva. He said, 'It sounds like the yeshiva isn't goyishe enough. They don't teach enough about atheist philosophies, so I can't recommend it. Instead, there are some good secular private schools in town, you can give your son after-school Torah lessons to satisfy his intellectual curiosity, if he so desires"

    The whole idea of the "Daas Torah-Hashgachah-Bashert Triad" to "keep people in" sounds like an unhinged conspiracy theory. "I also started to connect the Daas-Torah-hashgachah-bashert dots". Connecting the dots is a common characteristic of conspiracy theorists. You can connect the dots between the Rothchilds, Bilderbergs, British Royal Family, Federal Reserve, etc.. You can find all sorts of connections if you're imaginative enough. Doesn't mean they're real.

    1. I see it not as a conspiracy theory, but as an evolved status quo. Nobody set out to figure out what the best way is to keep people in line, but the fear of the outside coupled with boosting the pride on the inside [I feel] potentially led to this sort of situation.

      Also, straw man alert!! She never said that frum women are seething with rage at not becoming rabbis. She said that there are those who would benefit from the opportunity to learn Gemara and are frustrated at the limitations.

    2. 1. "It makes Julia Haart look like a paragon of honesty." If you ever want to be taken seriously don't make statements like this.

      2. "Those of us who actually live in the so-called "chareidi" society know this."

      I could tell you as someone with past exposure to Chareidi society and that her description of it is dead-on accurate.

      3. "The whole idea of the "Daas Torah-Hashgachah-Bashert Triad" to "keep people in" sounds like an unhinged conspiracy theory."

      A conspiracy requires forethought an malicious intent. This is a furthering of a movement devoid of critical thinking, an expectation of the public following unqualified authority figures and a world view that does not account for consequences. In fact, I remember discussing with fellow yeshiva students how many gedolim advised their constituents not to leave Europe and were massacred by the Nazis. The conclusion amongst them was that this must be Hashem's ultimate plan and therefore the best possible outcome.

    3. "I could tell you as someone with past exposure to Chareidi society and that her description of it is dead-on accurate."

      Ha ha, next you'll be telling me that "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" is an accurate documentary of Medieval Europe. Guess what, I currently live in the so-called "chareidi" society and recognize her silly parody for what it is.

      "The conclusion amongst them was that this must be Hashem's ultimate plan and therefore the best possible outcome."

      That's a common view, but has nothing to do with your loony conspiracy theory about the "Daas Torah-Hashgachah-Bashert Triad" .

    4. Happy is the Kent Hovind of charedi culture apologetics. Ammaaarite???

    5. "One time, I asked my Modern Orthodox Rabbi Doctor if it's a good idea to send my son to yeshiva."

      Sure you did.

  3. "The poor girl". She's a doctor with numerous achievements. Can you be any more condescending?

    1. That she's a doctor with numerous achievements - we're happy and proud for her.

      As to her having ideas swirling around in her head containing so much confusion, cluelessness and naivete as expressed in her posts, such as

      -just not getting what RB & RL said,
      -bungling the Kamenetsky story (along with the grandson),
      -thinking that her anecdotes with a handful or so Jewish medical students qualifies as a "study", and being oblivious to the fact that those from Chareidi homes were already on the way down/out, as opposed to the moderns,
      -projecting her resentment / anger, believing it to exist by every average Chareidi woman (take a cake for that one),
      -conflating Chazal's inaccuracy in science with it in morals,
      -conflating her feminism with Lakewood Kollel "feminism",
      -distributing "light unto the nations" kool-aid without any apparent research about a subject that has engaged some of our best writers,
      -etc. etc.

      -and doing all this in public, (we wonder if there's more with this quality she hasn't shared) - for this we are sad for her.

    2. I don't know what you mean by "conflating Chazal's inaccuracy in science with its morals". Because in an important comment here,
      Dr. Bruck also slammed Chazal's allegedly misogynic views of women.
      She then claimed Rabbi Slifkin's approach to Chazal actually saved her faith because it helped her appreciate that they were only reflecting the attitudes of their times.

      I am still waiting for a response to the challenge I posed to this claim here:
      Which was:
      How can this approach save your Judaism when Chazal's attitudes define what Judaism is? Does this mean Rabbi Slifkin's approach enables Dr. Bruck to simply ignore whatever Chazal say whenever they offend her sensibilities?

      And is Biblical Judaism any less discriminatory against women? Surely not. So can she also dismiss anything G-d wrote in the Torah whenever it offends her sensibilities by using Rabbi Slifkin's approach-- namely, that G-d was writing His Torah to address the scientific, cultural and moral assumptions of the Ancient Israelites which were inferior to ours?

      Dr. Bruck promised me a response here:

      But so far she has not been forthcoming. I'm still waiting.

    3. Dovid Kornreich,

      Before I address what you are saying, please understand that all of these posts were written a number of months ago and right now I work 70-80 hours on any given week. It's not that I am not "forthcoming" and have nothing to say in response. I just don't have the time. Truth is, I should have never promised you a response; that was my fault.

      Getting you what you are asking:
      I need you to refine your question. Are you saying that how can I accept the Torah if I reject the Torah's view of women? There are plenty of things chazal say that no Torah authority, charedi or not, would say is ok today. The Ramban says a man can hit his wife to correct her wrong behavior and he also says a women should be a "tznua" and not leave her house unless absolutely necessary (1-2x a month? I don't remember exactly, maybe someone here can help me with that.) Do you agree that this is how things should be? Teaching women formally in school was a huge defection from mesorah too. Do you want to shut down all institutions teaching girls and women? I'm not entirely sure what you are asking.

      As an aside, as someone involved in teaching and kiruv, I'm curious to hear what you do when you find yourself challenged by something you learn/teach/experience. What are the steps you take to figure things out? What are the tools you have to help you make sense of seeming contradictions?

    4. First of all, thank you for clarifying that you are generally too busy to respond and that you certainly have what to say. I hope I didn't imply you were evading the questions. I was just trying to prod a response from you sooner rather than later.

      It is hard to give examples of what I imagine you would reject since you only talked in very vague terms of "error in describing women based on their characteristics/traits resulting from their enforced place in society rather than innate qualities".
      It seems to be you take offense at the overall view of Chazal rather than any specific statement or halacha in Shas.

      The fact that Rabbinic thinkers and poskim have grappled with specific halachos (like not teaching Torah to women) and worked around them is not something you can use as a defense. No rav declared Chazal were "anti-women" by today's standards and we therefore have to make Judaism less "anti-women". All the justifications come from values that are intrinsic in the Torah--like raising women's education to a level that retains their commitment to Judaism.
      The overall reverence of Chazal and deference to their wisdom about women is never compromised. Rabbi Slifkin's approach does the opposite.

      What I am asking is very simple. You claimed Rabbi Slifkin's approach to Torah and Chazal saved your Judaism. You said the approach was that Chazal's statements about women were the result of the misogynic attitudes of the surrounding culture.

      I had two problems with this.
      1) If these misogynic attitudes towards women are now integrated into Orthodox Judaism because Chazal define Orthodox Judaism, how does it help to know that it came from foreign influences?
      2) Even without Chazal, the written Torah is obviously discriminatory against women. How can you divorce these elements of the Torah from the rest and call yourself Orthodox?

      As an aside, I found it ironic that you rail against the chareidi system for barring women like you from learning gemara and then when you ignored them and learned gemara, you were so turned-off by what you learned that you were as risk of throwing away yiddishkeit altogether until someone told you Chazal were deeply flawed. Somehow that saved your yiddishkeit.

      To be continued...

    5. To address your aside:
      The way I deal with challenges to what I learn/teach/experience is usually to first take a deep breath and relax. If I feel myself getting emotionally agitated about a challenge, it is a sign that I am not in the right frame of mind to respond to it. I give myself space and allow the question to settle in my mind for a while and realize that I am not the first person to come across this problem. There was most probably some great rabbi somewhere who grappled with it and somehow stayed frum--whether he found a satisfying solution or not.
      I remind myself that this kind of thing has happened to me many times before and that 90% of the time, I find some kind of resolution that satisfied me, and 80% of the time, satisfied my students.
      With the confidence of this successful track record, I do some research to find a source that directly addresses the challenge.
      This usually doesn't work.
      I give myself more time.
      Often the resolution comes from unexpected places--a parsha sheet handed out in shul, a shiur I'm listening to online, a random sefer I never looked at before in some random beis midrash I am visiting.
      I often see signs that Hashem is guiding me to find the right approach to the question since my goal is to increase kavod shomayim.

      But the guiding principle of what qualifies as an acceptable resolution is what Rav Moshe Meiselman wrote in his book "Jewish Woman in Jewish Law (Ktav, 1978). Part I page 1:
      "...Judaism is not just a series of legal dicta, but a comprehensive, self-justifying and self-defining value system. Hence, for an honest understanding of any of the legal data of Judaism, the law must be viewed from within the structure of Jewish values.
      "We must therefore be careful to avoid the twin temptations of apologetics and disinterested scholarship. The apologist tries to show the consistency of Judaism with another value structure, generally that of his audience--"you are liberal, Judaism is more so; you are conservative, Judaism is more so; you like ecology, Judaism likes it better". The apologist's characteristic approach--"Anything you can do Judaism can do better"--never works because it is essentially dishonest. Judaism fits into its own value structure and into no other..."

      The first question to tackle when addressing challenges is figuring out which value system is posing the challenge to Judaism. Is it a clash with some western value? or is it an internal clash within Judaism' own value system?
      The former is easy for me to overcome but harder for my students. The second is hard for me as well but since it is internal, it will usually be easier for me to find a classic source which directly addresses it.

      There you have it, Dr. Buck. I am eagerly awaiting direct responses to my simple questions.

    6. I see I slipped on my keyboard and misspelled your name again, Dr. Bruck.
      Apologies. No offense intended.

    7. Dovid Kornreich,

      Instead of us arguing back and forth fruitlessly about every point of disagreement, I asked you this question so that we get straight to the heart of the matter and see the differences in how we think about things. As your quote from Rabbi Meiselman demonstrates, you seek answers from within in particular framework, namely, the one you've received from your Rebbeim. Thus, if something seems off or wrong, you will seek an answer from within *that* framework and you will discredit anything that contradicts the principles of that framework. There is nothing wrong with this approach per se, but it's not my approach. This is why we will disagree a lot. The meme that comes to mind is one where you see a power strip that is plugged into itself.
      Why is this not my approach? Because with this approach, I have no reason to believe in any of the Torah to begin with. There must be a rational starting point for it all. I believe this is what "Derech Eretz Kadma L'Torah" refers to. Before understanding Torah, one must have a basic, rational understanding of the world. And that approach does not become obsolete once one studies Torah; it carries on.
      For example, if chazal said the sky was purple (in a way that was clearly not metaphorical), someone with your approach would say: if chazal say it, it's true. So maybe the sky was purple back then. Or maybe people called blue purple back then. Maybe on a metaphysical level it is really purple and not blue etc... I wouldn't do that. I would believe the sky is blue and that chazal said it's purple and I would try to understand why chazal called a blue sky purple. Before you call me a kofer, think about this a little.

    8. Actually, if Chazal said the sky is purple, it would be us who would try to understand why they called the sky purple. Maybe the answer would be that people called blue purple...or maybe not. Maybe we would have no answer, like about many other Chazals.

      But the "rationalist" approach would be to say that Chazal were simply mistaken, and that they didn't even bother checking, since the empirical approach to science hadn't been invented yet and "people did not care so much for empirical observation back then" and "observation and experimentation were simply not done".

      See for example, the comment linked below, and the response from Rabbi Slifkin and "Joseph". Also, see the comment from "Alex".

    9. Dr. Bruck,
      If you noticed, I did not limit this discussion to Chazal. Let's take your hypothetical scenario and apply it to the written Torah.
      If the written Torah would say, for instance, the sky is a solid dome (in a way that was clearly not metaphorical), would you dismiss all the approaches someone like me would take to reconcile it with the reality we see? Would you simply say no, the sky is not a solid dome-- yet the Torah said it was a solid dome and we will "try to understand why" the Torah would say it is a solid dome?
      (Let's stop skirting the issue and be open about what we believe. "Trying to understand why" is polite code for saying it is factually wrong and let's now look into the primitive ancients beliefs of the time to find sources of influence, no?)

      You said:
      "There must be a rational starting point for it all. I believe this is what "Derech Eretz Kadma L'Torah" refers to. Before understanding Torah, one must have a basic, rational understanding of the world."

      I'm not sure if one can have a rational understanding of the world without Torah.
      I refer you to the Rambam in Moreh Book II chapter 17. The Rambam fully admits that by just observing the universe in its current state, you cannot prove that it was created. We believe with absolute certainty in creation nonetheless solely on the basis of prophecy and tradition.
      But note: the Rambam does not just declare that the belief in creation ex-nihilo comes from prophesy. He goes on to say that even the manner of its development and the order of its development is similarly known from the Torah.

      What I am trying to say is that there comes a point where a rational, religious person has to decide if there is such a thing as divine prophecy and divine wisdom which has been communicated from an omniscient God to human beings.
      Let's say you decided yes, there is such a thing-- there can be divinely revealed religion.
      The next question we need to answer is whether we are currently in possession of an accurate version of those prophesies and divine wisdom. Were the receivers of this divine communication able to transmit it throughout the centuries faithfully without corrupting it?

      As I understand it--and tell me if you disagree-- Orthodox Judaism describes itself as a revealed religion-- where we are in fact currently in possession of a faithful version of those prophesies and divine wisdom. It is currently in the form of Torah she'bichtav and Torah she'baal peh as determined by Chazal. This means we have already gained a true understanding about the world from divine prophecy and the divine wisdom embedded in the Torah. This is the foundation. Questions and challenges need to be addressed from this perspective.

      But from what I am hearing from you is that you you don't share this perspective. You firmly believe Chazal's negative view of women reveals that they lack a true understanding of women. You aren't even willing to hear any defense of Chazal because you believe it will be fruitless back-and forth between opposing approaches.
      This apparently leaves you to conclude Chazal were not in possession of divine wisdom through the Torah, correct?
      And according to Rabbi Slifkin's approach, not even Torah she'bichtav is free of factual errors (and moral errors as well since it deeply discriminates against women), so even the written Torah isn't a reflection of divine wisdom which can tell us truths about the world. Not historical truth and not moral truth.

      So what do you have left, Dr. Bruck? A religion that sorely lacks divine wisdom in significant areas of everyday life?
      What's the point of keeping it then? Is it because you feel there are still enough areas where Judaism does possess divine wisdom--and that's enough to keep you hooked?
      I'm not trying to mock you. I want to understand. Am I being too simplistic?
      I honestly want to know your motivations.

    10. There's no difference between Dr. Bruck and R. Kornreich. R. Kornreich also rejects/ does revisionist reinterpretation of Chazals and even Pesukim that he is uncomfortable with, based on his own understanding of science and morality (as did the Rishonim, and even Chazal themselves). Perhaps the only difference is that Dr. Bruck is more honest about what she is doing. whereas R. Kornreich pretends (to himself?) that he is being loyal to traditional understandings.

    11. See too Rav Aharon Lichtenstein's chapter in Leaves of Faith, "Is there a moral ethic independent of Torah?" in which he brings numerous proofs that there clearly IS.

    12. DB: No difference? That's a howler.
      If you are really interested in understanding the vast chasm that separates rejection from revisionist interpretation, please read this comment:

      And what would Rav Aharon Lichtenstein tell us to do when there is a clash between the Torah's ethic and the moral ethic independent of the Torah? That is the relevant question here. Dr. Bruck seems to advocate rejecting the Torah's ethic when it clashes with her rationalistic view. I somehow doubt Rav Lichtenstein would concur. Does he discuss such clashes in his book?

    13. Dr. Bruck:
      Since it's been about week since my response, I'll assume you are again too busy to respond.
      I've had some time to think some more and perhaps your motivation for still observing such a deeply flawed religion is as follows:

      You believe in God and that He wrote the Torah. You acknowledge that there are some serious errors with it, but perhaps you believe it is logically impossible--even for an omnipotent God--to construct a truly perfect religion that would be relevant and applicable to all Jews living in all times and all places. God was forced to choose which era of Jewish history would benefit the most from His divine system--either "pre-modern" or afterwards. He apparently chose pre-modern times since once the modern era arrived, and science and morality in the west had advanced so much, Jews were forced to realize how flawed it was.
      (I guess according to this view, the first Jews to realize this were the members of the Reform and Haskala movements, and it was just a matter of time before the more educated among the Orthodox-- like Rabbi Slifkin and yourself-- would come around.)
      So why keep it?
      I posit you (and Rabbi Slifkin) believe--for completely rational reasons--that the God of the Torah is real; He authored the Torah and He wants Jews to keep it. And in light of the fact that He also created people with eternal souls which can experience eternal reward or suffering, you feel its best to obey whatever this flawed Torah commands since the consequences of keeping it or not keeping have does not depend on everything in it being true.

      Is this somewhat accurate? Am I totally off base?
      Please e-mail me ( so we can continue this conversation.

  4. It is incorrect to say that Daas Torah means "those who have studied Torah, have ... the optimal ability to answer questions". Besides Torah knowledge, Rabbonim have personal experience. A Rav who knows the history of hundreds or thousands shiduchim, can pretty much predict long-term outcome of a particular shiduch. He already saw many successful marriages and unsuccessful ones, including those where one or both spouses went off the derech. Of course, his advice would not guarantee 100% success, but would provide best bet for young people who want to live Torah life.

    1. "Besides Torah knowledge, Rabbonim have personal experience..."

      Correct. And guess what? Many MO people go to their rabbis with practical questions as well! So this "daas Torah" idea of sometimes seeking practical advice from rabbis has nothing to do with "chareidism".

    2. Everything you're saying is totally dishonest if you have ever been exposed to Charedi society. MO people going to Rabbanim in matters outside of Halakha has nothing in common with the Daas Torah model within Chareidi society both in scope or degree.

    3. "Everything you're saying is totally dishonest if you have ever been exposed to Charedi society."

      I live in that society, buddy. There is no Daas Torah "Model". That's just a loony conspiracy theory of a tiny sub-group of people who are fixated on chareidim, who rant on and on about the "cronies on the Moetzes", the "Agudists", and "endless chumras". Daas Torah is simply seeking advice from Rabbis about halachic and sometimes extra-halachic matters in accordance with their experience and reputation. Which the MO do as well.

    4. @Happy, how can you stake out such a position? It is very evident to those in that world (myself included) that Das Torah has a much larger scope than "seeking advice." The idea that Robonim, by virtue of studying Torah, have vast insight - well beyond Torah knowledge and general wisdom, is commonplace. Das Torah is used to as an end to all "Why" and "How" questions depending on who's invoking it simply because they are wiser and more knowledgeable than those in their respective extertise.

    5. As a Torah idea, sure. Practically speaking, nobody goes to their Rabbis for advice on how to fix their car. The gedolim would be lucky if people faithfully followed their piskei halacha. The idea that chareidi society is somehow set up along a "Daas Torah Model", a vast "Daas Torah-Hashgachah-Bashert Triad" to keep Gedolim in the reins of power, is exactly what I said. A loony conspiracy theory.

    6. "I live in that society, buddy. There is no Daas Torah "Model"."

      Like I said, if you do, then you are being dishonest.

    7. @happy. I think you that you are wildly overgeneralizingfromyour own personal views. People don’t go to RCK for his experience. They go davka because he is a holy ascetic who has separated himself (or been separated) from the practical world. He is asked for his advice on covid and gives one word answers without any understanding. The videos are out there.

    8. If you live in the US and don't know about the Gates-Koch-Lizard People plot to implant everybody with microchips and harvest their DNA, then you're either being dishonest or haven't been paying attention.

    9. Also the advice she got here was terrible.

    10. A Rav who knows the history of hundreds or thousands of marriages:

      Rav Bick z"l was telling the Satmar Rebbe z"l that we should start a program of marriage counseling among our Satmar youth.
      SR: No need.
      Rav Bick: You SR do the chuppah veKiddushin. I write the gitten. I know what's going on.

    11. David, the opposite. It is you who is wildly overgeneralizing from a handful of videos about one issue and one gadol. To everything about the entire "chareidi" society.

    12. @ MiMedinat HaYam

      Source? The version I heard is different. SR wanted to limit the number of dates before getting engaged. R Bick resisted because the SR does the chuppah veKiddushin while I write the gitten. So same idea but significantly, w/o therapy.

    13. And the RCK covid videos are a particularly bad example of "Da'as Torah". Unless you consider every halachic question "Da'as Torah". He was asked if chadorim and shuls should be shut down, potentially forever. A halachic, not science question. Some MO rabbis were asked the same thing! I guess they also believe in "Da'as Torah"! Just that you presumably liked their answers better.

    14. @happy, we can all sniff out weak ad-hoc apologetics. Most of the ex-charedim on the forum are confirming this experience. I for one am as well.

      It's is obvious an well established that people seek out daas for advice that is well beyond their scope. Rabbi Reuven Shmeltzer who orchestrated that bam on slifkins book was my 11th grade rebbe at the time. This attitude we are calling out was central this argument. Calling big time bluff.

    15. Anon 5:46PM

      Rav Menashe Klein wrote that if it weren't for the Rambam that a groom should see the kallah at least once before the wedding, he'd get rid of the beshow (Satmar method of dating, they see each other over sponge cake for five minutes, with the parents and shadchan supervising, that's it; I'm surprised he cited the Rambam, it's an explicit Gemara)

    16. BM, it is very strange. You claim to be ex-"chareidi", yet you couldn't come up with a single example of rabbis engaging in the grand conspiracy, or of "chareidim" complying with the bizzare rules you made up. Instead, your only example is Rabbi Schmelzer trying to ban somebody's books (something very common even in secular culture). Or something handwavy about Rabbi Dessler writing something about Da'as Torah. No real-life examples. And as somebody currently living in "chareidi" society, I know why. Because it is incredibly uncommon! Vast majority of chareidim don't go to rabbis to ask them questions outside their area of expertise! And the rabbis don't demand that they do so!

      Instead, all the examples you and other people keep bringing up are either 1. straight up halachic questions (should we shut down shuls and schools, should we allow secular reading material, is this view kefira) or 2. practical questions that may very well be within the rabbis' scope of expertise, such as shidduchim.

      This is the "evidence" ex-chareidim and non-chareidim are using to prove the existence of a vast Gadol conspiracy to control society. Which is bizzare, because these people call themselves "rational" and would never think of being anti-vax, yet with this topic, they go completely off the rails. And that's the thing with conspiracy theories. It may sound very logical to you, because, you know, you have convinced yourself, and all the dots your mind. But to an outside observer, it just sounds crazy!

    17. From my experience, I would say there are two types of chareidim.
      One type is very sheltered--was raised on the gadol biography genre from infancy-- and believe every great talmid chochom also possesses some kind of ruach hakodesh so that they don't need any (or need to consult any) relevant secular expertise before they issue a ruling, n do they need to take time to explore the nuances of the matter before giving advice on very personal matters.
      This is the stereotype which Big Mouth and most "ex-chareidim" like Rabbi Slifkin are referring to and seems to be the group Dr. Bruck used to belong to. They certainly exist and are certainly preyed upon and taken advantage of by cynical gedolim handlers, the politically savvy people in UTJ, and by tzedaka orgs who offer blessings by the tzaddik in return for compliance/donations.

      But then there are other chareidim, who perhaps disproportionately grew up modern or in a more open, secular environment and became more frum. Although they don't totally fit in with the chareidi culture dominated by the first group, they feel this community best matches their higher halachic standards and spiritual aspirations. They quietly shake their heads at all the non-sense and stupidity that gets mislabeled for frumkeit. They also subscribe to Daas Torah, but its not based on ruach hakodesh. They make sure to forge a personal connection with a great talmid chochom who can take the time to understand their personal situation and consult the relevant experts before giving their opinion or psak.

      It is this group which proves Dr. Bruck's thesis completely false. This group is not insular and their commitment does not rely on a set of ideas that gets challenged when they poke their head out of the bubble.
      I don't blame Dr. Bruck for not being aware of this second group, but I do blame Rabbi Slifkin for bashing all chareidim with the same broad brush even though he is very well aware of the existence of the second type.
      This was the type he himself belonged to before being banned!

      However, Happy is still right because even for the first type, Daas Torah/hashgacha/bashert is in no way orchestrated from the top down. Stories of great chachamim possessing ruach hakodseh were already recorded in the gemara, and each generation since have had their own stories. It has always been a part Jewish culture to seek blessings and advice on personal matters from great rabbis --again, starting from the gemara.
      So these ideas aren't some form of psychological manipulation concocted by the members of the moetzes at some conference designed to keep people "contained in its structure" or "checkpoints to guard people's exits".

    18. @Dovid Kornreich, I happen to agree with you! Notice how you openly acknowledge the first type while Happy calls it a myth!

      I happen to think type 2 is much more healthy and but somewhat paradoxical because the gedolim themselves are type 1. Its hard to rationally commit to something fundamentally irrational.

    19. If DK says type 1 exists, I will trust him. Maybe they are common in EY where he lives. However, I disagree with him that type 2 are people who grew up modern and became more frum. All the yeshivish families I know are type 2 (ie they don't go to rabbis to ask non-halachic, non-haskafic non-rabbi-expertise questions, such as "what is the best brand of solar panels?")

      But notice that Dr. Bruck isn't making such distinctions either! Instead, she's lumping all "chareidim" into the craziest category she can think of! And on top of that, she comes up with an amazing secret conspiracy of the Gedolim! Perhaps she should pivot from the medical field to writing fiction, which seems to be her skill. I bet she can give Dan Brown a run for his money!

    20. There is a lot to say about gedolim and type 2 chareidim in general. In brief, There is no paradox because they don't pledge unconditional allegiance to whatever any godol says--especially when some agenda-driven askan/kanoi was pushing the godol to make the statement. Manipulation of gedolim is a big elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about openly.
      Type 2 chareidim will first go to their local rov or rosh yeshiva who knows their personal situation and ask: does this public announcement put up on a pashkevil in Meah She'arim really apply to me and my family in Har Nof (or my family in Monsey)?
      For these chareidim, gedolim are more of an ideal to strive for and an inspiration than an actual personal authority. (This changes obviously when there is a wide consensus of gedolim who come out on an issue.)
      When an individual gadol takes an extreme public stance, usually the local rov/rosh yeshivah will sit down and meet with the gadol in person and discuss how to advise his community. For type 1 chareidim (unfortunately), the pashkevil on the billboard is enough of an authority for him and his family. For type 2, it first needs to trickle down to the local level.

      But alas, nuances like this about type 2 chareidim are willfully ignored by Rabbi Slifkin. He'd much rather be disingenuous in order to score political points against his former community.

    21. And I would also deny your premise, Big Mouth, by pointing out that many gedolim are actually type 2 chareidim!
      Every American gadol who went to high school and learned secular subjects there is by definition type 2 chareidi. This includes most of the Litvish members of the moetzes in America and a significant number of gedolim in Israel like Rav Pinchas Scheinberg, Rav Scheiner, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, etc. Also I would rate Rav Wolbe, Rav Moshe Shapiro and Rav Yaakov Hillel as type 2 gedolim.
      I don't know the background of Rav Moshe Hillel Hirsch, but I suspect he isn't a typical type 1 chareidi gadol.

    22. Half defeated, Kornreich so kindly throws type A Jews with their gedolim under the bus as he regroups to defend himself and his type.

  5. "There are eight million stories in the big city." Ever heard that line? It means everyone has a story. They are all meaningless, because the life experience of X is at odds with the experience of Y. Nearly all of them are also uninteresting to others. I've not spent my time on this, but I am curious to know if there is any particular reason no less than three separate posts were given to this individual to tell her tale. I can only presume family relationship or the writer is in possession of certain damning photos.

    Related note - an "about the author" blurb should be no more than two simple sentences. Multiple long paragraphs of curriculum vitae lends a certain "look at me!" flavor to the writer, and colors the actual article itself.

    1. the lengthy about the author is important here because in our circles we have a nice minhag of tearing to shreds the qualifications, merits and motives of everyone that has an opinion that differs from the "approved" opinions, as your gracious comment so demonstrates

    2. just one point. daas torah can be at least called daas torah in the litvishe velt where the Gedolim have at least real Torah knowledge (we can argue if they have life experience or are out of touch or if their minders manipulate them) but in the chasidish velt chasidim are thought by the rebbes to ask every important decision from them, those rebbes did not attain their position through knowledge in Torah, they are there because they were born to the right father at the right time.

    3. Sorry, based on headline above should say four separate posts, not three, were given to this.

    4. While I appreciate and agree with much of what Dr Bruck writes, I have to say that a similar thought struck me - the "about the author" section is way too long.

    5. Real Torah knowledge:
      Or rather, yichus.

  6. wow. I'm chasidish i could not have said it better. in the chasidus i "belong" to its explicitly expressed. "there's no correct or wrong answer as long as you ask the grand rebbe. if you don't ask and rely on your opinion and make decisions on your own then its wrong no matter what you decided"

    i never thought of combining D'aas Torah in a trinity of Hashgacha pratis and Bashert but it now all fits very nicely together.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. This trinity all have one thing in common -- they are irrational. Thankfully, you have come to this blog, which embraces rationality.
      BTW, Rambam rejects all three of those. He rejects "Bashert" in a letter to a student, and Hashgachah pratis for most people in Moreh HaNevochim. Daas Torah in its present incarnation is obviously absurd.

  7. Not critiquing, just my observations.
    I find something a little puzzling.
    Those early shidduchim were in her "Chareidi Frum" phase.
    Yet at least the 3 shiduchim she mentions, she was being "redt" boys more modern than her?
    Why, unless it was obvious to the shadchanim that that's where real interest was?

    1. I noticed that also. Perhaps those were only two boys out of the thirty-seven shidduch dates she actually had. If those were the only boys she was set up with, then yeah, I agree that's an interesting observation about her shadchan's perception...

      OR it means that ALL OF THE BOYS in that community at that time were secretly leaning more modern and weren't having their intellectual / academic needs met. I'd like to see THAT story play out. (I doubt that it is true, of course.)

  8. Dr. Bruck,
    Just want to say that your well thought our words give me so much Chizuk in my own life because I also was part of the Chareidi society for a while and when I wanted to go to college and pursue a career in medicine, they looked at me like a "Shegetz". This was not the only experience I've had that turned me away from the Chareidi World but I'm not here to blog, just to comment. There are many things that bother me about the chareidi world and seeing it layed out here in your posts so clearly let's me know that I am not alone in this thinking. Your blogs are not for naught! I am telling you they are powerful to me and many of my friends.

    As for all the negative feedback in the comments, you guys are so pathetic to go to a website to read blogs only to hate on the author. It just shows how true and Convincing Dr. Bruck's points are that you feel a need to hate on her and her ideas. So I welcome your criticism. In my mind, it only confirms that everything Dr. Bruck says is actually resonating with the public and forcing the haters to play the silly game of "It's a Lie." Really? It's a lie? Than why are so many people subscribed to this content and why are you even bothering to read it yourself???LOL

    1. Man, you's in pain. Man, malishis or not they war, yer Gemara teachers shafted ye or failed ye. Man, you's a mindin yer own bizniss n takin care oyaself but de Bruck, she say she got sirtin unmet wimen needs n all de wimenfolk got em too tee hee hee. Man, you ain't never hurt no fly in yer life but de Bruck, she off wit de gloves dis whole tam.

  9. At a time when the mainstream media is attacking Torah Judaism by idolizing apostates like Julia Haart as the paragon of a "normal" Jew, would it not behoove Dr. Bruk to show herself as an example of a woman who has become successful in the greater society without shedding her yiras Shamayim and dedication to mitzvah observance, instead of airing all of her grievances about the Chareidi community?
    Just asking.

    1. ChaimOchs I don't know where you live that Haart is considered a normal Jew. Also what does she have to do with anything?

      Dr Bruck does serve as a good role model for women who keep mitsvot and studied in a competitive field. The problem is that for you a good role model for women shouldn't voice her concerns and talk about what disturbs her in the religious world.

      So... Who do you think is entitled to talk about those? Just asking.

    2. What makes you say that she's "shed her yiras shamayim'?

    3. It seems to me that she hasn't shed any of "her yiras Shamayim and dedication to mitzvah observance". Not sure where you saw that. I've corresponded with her directly and I've not seen any hints of that at all.

    4. Did any of you read what I wrote? It is only seven lines long. How were you able to construe from those the exact opposite of what I wrote?

  10. I am curious to know what the author chose to do in response to her realizations about this system. Did she pursue different shadchanim beyond the standard ones in her community, who work with different types of Jews? Did the author seek out different rabbanim who have different hashkafot than those described here?

    Does the author wish to remain embedded in the system which she does not buy into? Or branching out? How did her approach to practicing Judaism and her approach to dating change in response to all this?

  11. Notwithstanding the disclaimer at the end, it pains me to say that I now view with suspicion anything JOWMA has to say. The hashkafah expressed here is so in-your-face "I'm the only one who figured out the chareidi conspiracy to keep people in" that it is really hard to filter established medical consensus from personal agenda.

    I'm always wary of any person or group who sounds too sure of him/her/itself. Chazal knew well when they said "Always train yourself to say "I don't know"." For example, the covid vaccine isn't a Gates/5G et al plot. But neither is it perfectly safe. I have 2 relatives who have suffered severe reactions. I would venture to say most of this readership know people firsthand who have as well. But we also know 1000 who have not. Know the risk, and then follow your trusted expert's guidance.

    1. You said "I have 2 relatives who have suffered severe reactions".
      What were the severe reactions and were they temporary or permanent.

    2. One is a cousin who is a well-regarded nurse in a large frum community, who every few weeks (read- "fertility related") since having received the shot suffers from hemorrhaging and heart palpitations.
      This is ongoing.
      My sister suffered for two months from extreme pain in her hands which began almost immediately after her second shot. What's interesting is that several other people in her neighborhood had the same reaction- which none of them became aware of until much later. Fortunately, the pains did stop. Several weeks ago my sister came down with a moderate breakthrough infection; she had a strong flu-like illness for about 4 days. She was thankful she had been vaccinated, she said, because she feared that had she not been, she may have become far more ill.

    3. Anonymous 9:56AM

      Do people have similar reactions to flu or other vaccines? Similar proportions?
      Indicates either unsanitary production, or an actual reaction to this vaccine. With potential for future hazards, could be six months, six years, or sixteen years. But no one wants to investigate.

      Shabbat Shalom


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