Tuesday, January 25, 2022

At the Watershed between Charedi and Post-Charedi

There is a fascinating article in the online modern-charedi Tzarich Iyun magazine by Rabbi Yehuda Greenwald of Neve Shlomo congregation in Haifa. It's about the failure of leadership in charedi society regarding Covid, Meron, and the Walder horror. Rabbi Greenwald spells out many of the ways in which charedi society failed prominently and miserably in each of these three cases. He also recognizes the cause of these failures - the isolationism, the distrust of science and professionalism and government, the haphazard nature by which charedi society governs itself, the vagueness of leadership, the focus on the needs of the smaller community rather than the larger one. Yet, as a committed member of the charedi community, Rabbi Greenwald writes that the solution lies with... the Gedolim.

"The proper leadership of the Jewish People is, indeed, “The heads of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, every man of Israel” (Devarim 29:15)... Even today, we certainly believe that it is good that the Gedolim lead our community with a strong hand... We need to demand answers, to find those suited to answer them (Gedolim of our generation) and ensure they speak a loud and forceful voice of Torah and reason."

Alas, Rabbi Greenwald is so very close to the watershed moment, but has not yet reached the other side.

The problems that Rabbi Greenwald correctly recognized in charedi society will never be solved by the charedi Gedolim. Because, from the charedi perspective, they are not problems of rabbinic leadership - they are features of it. More precisely, they are inherent aspects of the fundamental nature of that society.

As I explained in my monograph The Making Of Charedim, charedi society is all about isolationism. Distrust of science and professionalism and government is inevitable and even valuable for reinforcing cultural identity. And the related issue of anti-rationalism means that rabbinic authority is vested in precisely those who are least suited to wield it - the Talmudists who are isolated from science and society but who, precisely for this reason, are believed to possess authentic, supernatural Daas Torah.

One can only hope that Rabbi Greenwald and the many others like him will soon take the next step, as emotionally difficult as it may be. Once out of the charedi mindset, one can fully recognize the importance of being part of the nation of Israel. One can acknowledge that rabbinic leadership is not to be found in ivory-tower Talmudists, but rather with those described by Rav Eliezer Melamed as true Gedolim:

"They definitely are important talmidei chachamim (Torah scholars) whose fear of sin precedes their wisdom, educate many disciples, and it is a mitzvah to respect them. But they are not Gedolei haTorah. Gadlut beTorah necessitates an all-embracing, fully accountable handling of serious issues facing the generation, including: the attitude towards Am Yisrael in all its diversity and various levels – both religious, and non-religious; the attitude towards mitzvot of yishuv haaretz (settling the Land) and the on-going war which has surrounded it for over a century; the attitude towards science and work, and the contemporary social and economic questions."

Let's hope that the tragic trio of Covid, Meron and Walder will bring people to cross the watershed.


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90 comments:

  1. The issue is, your "solution", your "watershed", is to be become secularist. And whatever the problems of Chareidi society, the secularists have infinitely worse problems. Atheism, chillul Shabbos, homosexuality, arayos, sexual abuse, and abortion all run rampant in secularist circles.

    So yes, Chareidim are isolationist- for good reason. Yes, they are somewhat distrustful of science- as they should be when science says their Torah is a "sacred myth". Do they have problems? Of course, we should work to fix them.

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    1. Because the only choice is between chareidi and "secularist"?

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    2. Uh, yes, that's like the whole point of this post. The author makes it very clear, take it up with him.

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    3. Or accept that those "problems" are features (vs. bugs) that must be accepted as the price for the system (I won't repost colonel jessup's speech but it sums up this approach) ISTM this could be a more honest approach if I'm correct in my interpretation
      KT

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    4. homosexuality, arayos, sexual abuse all exist in haredi society . maybe some of the others you listed. just because one is blind doesn't mean there is nothing to see...

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    5. Joel Rich - maybe. But that is very steep price to pay, and it requires conscious acknowledgement.

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    6. Lechatchila, ok. And guess what? Unemployed people, people who don't serve in the army, and people who don't follow safety/health regulations all exist in secularist society. But we're comparing societies, not individuals. In secularist society, non-marital union, homosexuality, and even infidelity are accepted and embraced! They have no boundaries!

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    7. Rabbi Dr. Natan Slifkin-agreed but it's not my call not being part of that sector
      kt

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    8. Happy, you concoct the most hyperbolic dichotomies.

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    9. BM, it's not me, it's this post. Read it. And it's you. Almost every one of your comments expresses how you view this as an extremely hyperbolic chareidi/post-chareidi dichotomy.

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    10. The solution is not to be a "secularist" to the contrary one would argue that this failed leadership isn't truly religious at all. Thats dichotomy #1

      Dichotomy #2: There is no secular "community" in the sense that there is a charedi community, these aren't fair categories.

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    11. happygolucky --

      The utter ridiculousness of your patently false dichotomy is offensive. I am shomer mitzvot, an active part of my local frum community, and endeavor to be kovea itim l'torah amidst my busy work and family life. I certainly do not practice "atheism, chillul Shabbos, homosexuality, arayos, sexual abuse, and abortion". However, I also do not wear a black hat, shun participation in the outside world, nor believe in the supernatural infallibility of any group of Torah scholars. By your logic (which seems to be "either chareidi or 'secularist'"), does that make me a secularist?

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    12. " homosexuality, arayos, sexual abuse "

      Just days ago we lost a prominent charedi rabbi who spent decades covering up these things and suffered no consequences for doing that. He is receiving the usual hagiographic praises.

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    13. Will someone please define "dichotomy" for HGL? (Hint: chareidi/post-chareidi is not a dichotomy)

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    14. BM, your definition of what constitutes a "community" is completely arbitrary. There is great diversity among the various chareidi/"chareidi" communities that you carelessly lump together. You just see a sea of black hats and decide they are all one community. Typical shallow secularist thinking. I can more legitimately call a secularist community the group of people who identify with secular culture. Which post-chareidi is.

      Just Curious, spare me your tears about being offended. You are posting on a blog designed to offend a large group of people in the most inflammatory way. And you lap it all up like a thirsty dog.

      As to my dichotomy, it's really the blog author's dichotomy. Is a working yeshivish man who doesn't believe Gedolim are infallible really "chareidi"? Does a chassid who works with many nom-jews really "shun participation in the outside world"? Who's the one who sees everything as black and white? Not me, but you and your ilk!

      Now, to determine if you are a secularist, here is a helpful question: Do you identify more with the Yerushalmi learning in Meah Shearim, or with the educated secular scientist working in a lab?

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    15. Ephraim, you are joking as usual, I presume. If so, haha.

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    16. Lol. Isolationist until they need the secularists money. And anti-science until they need their modern technology and healthcare.

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    17. In case I wasn't clear enough, chareidim are not absolutely against science. Only secularists think in such absolutist, reductive, black-and-white terms. You either believe in evolution and that the Torah is a myth, or you are against science, and shouldn't use a flush toilet. This way of thinking is a product of the absolutist, fundamentalist secularist education.

      But Chareidim/non-secularists are not like that. They are suspicious of some science, but not all of it, and are certainly happy to reap the practical benefits in most cases.

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    18. "Do you identify more with the Yerushalmi learning in Meah Shearim, or with the educated secular scientist working in a lab?"

      What if they're the same person?

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    19. "Only secularists think in such absolutist, reductive, black-and-white terms. "

      "Only" is "such" an "absolutist, reductive, black-and-white term"

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    20. You can't be distrustful of science and get on an airplane. That's just nonsense.

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    21. What a silly, irrational thing to say. It's like saying, "you can't be distrustful of capitalism but buy stuff from a store" or "you can't be distrustful of government but drive on public roads". Only secularists think that science is this monolith that you either must accept all of it or none of it. You are a perfect example of the product of an absolutist, fundamentalist secularist education that sees everything in black-and-white terms. We non-secularists are more sophisticated.

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    22. Not the same thing at all. By getting on an airplane you are implicitly saying you trust science. Saying at the same time you don't doesn't mean anything, it's just nonsense. A bit like your odd examples. You can certainly buy stuff from a store and be a socialist. Do you even understand what you write?

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    23. @happygoluckypersonage - a misnomer if ever I saw one - any way, anyone who is familiar with the epistemology of science would point out that skepticism is a feature of the scientific process. Scientist don't have fundamentalist beliefs (except perhaps that reality is measurable).

      Epistemologically the scientist would say to you I know something to be true because I can measure it. On the basis of observation I can then develop hypothesis about reality which is testable (i.e. can set up an experiment to disprove the hypothesis).

      In this context, a discussion about belief in science is oxymorinic.

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    24. @Yossi- this discussion has nothing to do with scientists.

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    25. Again Isaac, you say the silliest things. Getting on an airplane does not mean you trust all of science, any more than driving on a public road means you are completely trusting of government. It just means you trust certain parts of science in certain contexts. That's it. It's only hard for you to understand this concept because of your absolutist, fundamentalist secularist education that treats science like a monolith.

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    26. No, it just means you don't understand anything about science. A problem that a secularist education could certainly help rectify. But I'm glad we've at least come from "distrustful of science" to "trust certain parts of science in certain contexts." A slightly more honest, if equally ignorant, statement.

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    27. Isaac, clearly you believe "understanding science" means thinking all science is the same. And that one must accept either all or none of it. Which is a far more childish understanding of science and the world than anything on Barney or Sesame Street. It may surprise you to hear that some of us have progressed beyond that.

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    28. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    29. @Isaac - No the conversation has too do with belief systems. One does not believe in science, or "trust" in science. Science, by its definition, deals in what is measurable and testable.

      That you or Happygoluckypersonage may not 'understand' the science does not make the facts any less tangible or empirical. Science is objective and testable.

      This is the contrast to religion, which is entirely a subjective - belief and faith based epistemology. Description of how things are - in religion are as they are by doctrine, not evidence.

      Thus when Happygoluckypersonage writes:
      "But Chareidim/non-secularists are not like that. They are suspicious of some science, but not all of it, and are certainly happy to reap the practical benefits in most cases."

      Personage is really speaking drivel - shows a fundamental misunderstanding of scientific epistemology.

      What our Happygolucky interlocutor could best argue is that Chareidim reject the hyopthesis or conclusion drawn from the facts. But as soon as Happy selectively cherry picks the evidence to make the data fit a preconceived (and religious) world view, then in fact HappyPersonage has rejected science outright.

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    30. Yossi, your statement is both wrong and irrelevantl.

      For the vast majority of people, science is absolutely taken on belief, on trust. And this even goes for scientifists out of their field. The vast majority of people are not conducting scientific studies about airplane safety before boarding one. Or even reading such studies. The vast majority of people are not conducting vaccine studies before deciding to vaccinate. It's all belief, it's all trust.

      Therefore,it makes a lot of sense to talk about typical people trusting science in some respects and rejecting it in others. Now, for the actual scientifist conducting the research, your point may be correct, it's not a matter of trust. But completely irrelevant to this discussion.

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    31. So switch "science" with "scientists". My point is that they say they believe in one thing but their actions (which are much more important) say another.

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    1. "I don't see how any rational person would trust government..."

      But it's not about gov't. It's about medical experts. They also advise people to wear masks, social distance, quarantine and get vaccinated.
      Since it's not really about gov't, nothing you wrote makes sense.

      "the irrationality of sick people getting in line together for a test "
      If they are masked, distanced and outdoors, what's the problem?

      "or the pressure on people who have recovered from Covid [and are more immune than the vaccinated are] to get vaccinated."
      Are the people who recovered & not vaccinated more immune than those recovered & vaccinated?

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    2. Ephraim, I found 2 typos in my post and the only way to fix it was by deleting and reposting(your reply wasn't yet visible at the time). You will find it further down the feed. I appreciate your response and I will answer each in order. First, I said government because that was one of the 3 bodies that RNS mentioned in this post. I was attacking the notion that we should trust government. It may be intelligent to trust our medical experts but that is the decision of each individual to make, it is not for government to make for us. Second, my point is that when people used to be sick, they stayed home and rested and when they felt better they went out. As to your third point, if someone is immune why push him to vaccinate? I will add that there is a higher risk of adverse effects from the vaccination on people who already recovered.

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    3. @Ephraim

      Yes, most medical experts recommended masks, distancing, and quarantine- but that clearly comes with a cost. If there were no cost to these measures, we would do them forever to prevent people from ever getting sick. The question is how much of a risk are we willing to take and how important is preventing illness as opposed to other values. Medical experts can provide medical advice, but they can't determine how to best balance public health with other concerns.
      It should be on the individual to make that choice for themselves.

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    4. "Are the people who recovered & not vaccinated more immune than those recovered & vaccinated?"

      An interesting question Ephraim, and maybe one we cannot answer. However a Google search using the terms "immunity to Covid 19 after infection" found this paper:

      https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2782139
      (JAMA = Journal of the American Medical Association)

      Study Suggests Lasting Immunity After COVID-19, With a Big Boost From Vaccination

      "After an infection with SARS-CoV-2, most people—even those with mild infections—appear to have some protection against the virus for at least a year, a recent follow-up study of recovered patients published in Nature suggests. What’s more, this and other research demonstrates that vaccinating these individuals substantially enhances their immune response and confers strong resistance against variants of concern, including the B.1.617.2 (delta) variant."

      Without claiming to have completed an exhaustive survey of the literature, this article is claiming the answer to your question is yes.

      Daniel and Ephraim, you may also be interested in this opinion or position paper in The Lancet: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(21)00676-9/fulltext

      Protective immunity after recovery from SARS-CoV-2 infection

      The authors write: "... the risk of repeat SARS-CoV-2 infection decreased by 80·5–100% among those who had had COVID-19 previously "
      The authors (and keep in mind this is an opinion piece) conclude:
      "Given the evidence of immunity from previous SARS-CoV-2 infection, however, policy makers should consider recovery from previous SARS-CoV-2 infection equal to immunity from vaccination for purposes related to entry to public events, businesses, and the workplace, or travel requirements."

      Note - the two articles I mention are not contradicting each other, they are addressing two separate and distinct questions.

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    5. "have recovered from Covid [and are more immune than the vaccinated are] to get vaccinated."

      False information. Unfortunately the evidence is that having recovered from COVID does not provide protection against the omicron variant. The vaccines do, and are likely to provide at least some protection from future variants as they were designed to provide broad protection.

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    6. As an update to my last post - I have know looked at the CDC-website (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/science-briefs/vaccine-induced-immunity.html)

      The executive summary states:
      "Substantial immunologic evidence and a growing body of epidemiologic evidence indicate that vaccination after infection significantly enhances protection and further reduces risk of reinfection, which lays the foundation for CDC recommendations."

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    7. @Chayim,

      Your logic is wrong, and it is certainly wrong in the context of Judaism, where individual liberty is subordinate to public norms (for example, in a truely halachic society, shabbat observance would not be a personal choice. Alternatively, the obligation of Brit Millah falls on the elders of the community if the father fails to fulfil the obligation).

      If there are known public health benefits to wearing a mask, vaccination, social distancing, and these benefits are subverted by individual abstention, that is when an individual opts out there are public health implications, then the calculus is one of public benefit (risk and harm) and not individual choice.

      If individual choice trumped public benefit, than anyone individual would then hold the rest of the community to ransom. As a wise man once said, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

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    8. Chayim,
      The last line in your comment may make sense to libertarians, but is irrelevant to Charedim. The cell phone kerfuffle was precisely about insistence on Charedi communal autonomy to quash individual choice. Don't bring up individualism here.

      Everything else you wrote is irrelevant. The subject is not Covid policy in general, it's about Charedi covid policy. The Charedim who completely ignored all rules did not do so out of deliberation and "balance [of] public health with other concerns". There was no balance. Even the fringe "Barrington" doctors called for protecting those at risk. Where did we see that in the Charedi world?

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    9. CharlieHall are you serious that the vaccine is working for omnicron?! Take a look at Israel where most people are triple vaccinated and still the daily infection rate is in the tens of thousands...

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    10. @Anonymous;

      Your question is premised on a flawed understanding of what the vaccine can do - leading to unrealistic and misaligned measures of success. The vaccine could never and will never stop viral transmission and infection. The questions are

      * How frequently do people with vaccination show serious signs of illness (compared with the unvaccinated population)?
      * How frequently do vaccinated individuals with infection require hospitalization?
      * How frequently do people with vaccination infected with SARS-CoVid die from infection?
      (i.e. degree of morbidity and mortality).

      Vaccines sensitise our immune system to the virus by training the adaptive immune system to recognise infection. Simple logic then tells you that the vaccine suppresses illness by evoking a larger and more rapid immune response to infection, thus suppressing the infection faster than if the person exposed was naive.

      It is true that the omnicron variant of SARS has had sufficient antigen drift to reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine - but antigen drift is a normal part of the virus evolution. This is the reason we need annual flu vaccines- as the flu virus also undergoes antigen drift.

      Data suggests, however, that the vaccines are still approximately 80% effective. I also think that I read that evidence suggests that boosters will be required every six months - which is frequent, but again, not unexpected.

      What will eventually happen is that the vaccine manufacturers will be releasing new versions of the vaccine that are targeted to address the antigen shift.

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    11. "CharlieHall are you serious that the vaccine is working for omnicron?! Take a look at Israel where most people are triple vaccinated and still the daily infection rate is in the tens of thousands..."

      1) Why should a 63% vaccination rate prevent the other 37% from getting infected?
      2) The vaccine was supposed to prevent serious illness. It offers less significant protection against infection.
      3) Indeed, it's clear that the vaccine is less effective against Omicron.

      The Health Ministry's latest data is mixed. If you look at rates of serious illness:
      1) The whole population, absolute numbers: 97 vaccinated, 69 unvaccinated, 25 under-vaccinated
      2) But when you break it down by age:
      Over 60: 89 vax, 52 no vax, 22 under-vax
      <= 60: 8 vax, 3 under vax, 17 no vax
      Now the fully vax rates for >60 is about 90%. If the vaccine had no effect, you'd expect to see the same rates of serious illness among both groups- that is you'd expect 90% of the seriously ill to be fully vaccinated. But you're only seeing 55%. So while we're not seeing the fantastic results back in early 2021, the vaccine is still effective.
      (Obviously, the above is a bit over simplified. But it's more accurate than blanket claims against the vaccine's effectiveness.)

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    12. "What will eventually happen is that the vaccine manufacturers will be releasing new versions of the vaccine that are targeted to address the antigen shift."

      Unless, there's enough endemic virus to ensure non-severe reinfection while the immune system still "remembers" the virus. It's still an open question whether boosters will be needed for the long term for the general population.

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    13. @Ephraim,

      No, consider the fact that their are annual flu vaccinations. Each year the vaccine manufactures issue vaccines that are 'updated' to combat the latest changes in the influenza virus. The innovation out of the CoVID pandemic is that we will likely have an annual (or seemingly biannual) vaccine for CoVID virus as well.

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    14. @Chayim

      Before medical experts started abusing their power to recommend the usurpation of individual liberties worldwide for highly dubious health benefits, they actually had the ability to weigh these policies against basic human considerations, such as the health of economies, the social wellness of communities, the liberties of people, etc. For example, DA Henderson, the epidemiologist who led the international effort that eradicated smallpox, wrote a 2006 paper on the question of lockdowns for pandemics, and concluded that they would be ineffective and/or destructive to society for exactly these basic considerations.

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    15. @Yossi

      People contracted GBS from the mass swine flu vaccination campaign in the 1970's. The supposed pandemic ended up being a false alarm, and it was concluded only decades later that the GBS-vaccine relationship was causal. According to your logic, it was a moral and Halachic obligation for person A to receive the vaccine that gave him/her GBS, because that was what the scientists were saying to do at the time, for the sake of public safety. Just one of many public health examples revealing the fallacy of your argument.

      Furthermore, this is not merely an issue that revolves around a single person's individual choice. It is an issue that revolves around tyranny and the state of individual liberties throughout entire countries. See Canada and Australia for some examples of what happens when individual liberties are sacrificed for what the medical establishment claims is necessary for the public good.

      Delete
  3. the charedi community are really bad, bad, destructive people.

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  4. Could you please please identify some of the gedolim Rav Eliezer Melamed is describing.

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    1. R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, plus a number of figures in the DL community (including R Melamed himself - I said it, not him).

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    2. So let us hear what RSZA did for Yishuv Ha'aretz? What did he do for Klal Yisroel outside of Psak Halacha?
      Some people love to rewrite the persona of RSZA in their own image. He has become a blank canvas for everyone to paint what they want.

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    3. "hear what RSZA did for Yishuv Ha'aretz? What did he do for Klal Yisroel outside of Psak Halacha?"

      I am still able to be left speechless at times.

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    4. C'mon, RSZA was niftar 27 years ago. Can we please limit this to people who are more or less alive?

      RNS, I would like to hear your answer here.

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    5. I think Psak Halacha is way more important than anything else. But the idea that RSZA fits the bill that you guys claim to be looking for is just ludicrous.
      He was the model of a Charedi hero, he was nothing that the MO are looking for

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  5. “The heads of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, every man of Israel” (Devarim 29:15)

    It's kind of bizarre that he davka chose that pasuk, considering that it is speaking of people taking mussar, not people leading. I mean, he could have picked others to better make his point.

    But more significantly, we have "heads of tribes, elders, and officers." They're calling the President, the Prime Minister, the Knesset, the courts, and the police.

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    1. Unknown, and others, may I ask a more fundamental question?

      Who (or how is it) decides who the "head of tribes, elders and officers" are?

      I think that you are making a valid and important observation, leaders by consent are only leaders when we give them that consent - this is in contrast to leaders by might or leaders by right. Where does consent come from for so called "Gedolim"?

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  6. Awareness comes in increments. There is a seismic shift occurring. Although I do not believe in Covid denial,discussion of the covid epidemic has in the US been politicised and corrupted. That discussion is taking place in the world at large.With all the scandals raging, it seems that a lot of self described gedolim might not be so great at all. A fraction of the Jewish world is observant. The factionalism and name calling is mind boggling. So many spirital earthquakes in the Jewish world. We could use peace talks between Jews

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  7. Yochanan b. Zakai was undoubtedly the manhig of his generation; but he was the KATAN out of HILLEL Hazaken’s 80 students (Sukkah 28a). The problem of Charedi leadership that R. Greenwald identifies will be solved when Charedim realize that the best manhig is NOT necessarily the biggest talmid chacham of the generation.

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  8. Beautiful article by Rabbi Greenwald! Thanks for sharing, I feel that you have misrepresented what he is saying. He is bemoaning that we DON'T have Gedolim, but wish we did. Specifically that the REAL Gedolim haven't spoken up on these issues, though he wishes they did.
    I'd go back and read the article again. It is somewhat long and tedious.

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  9. To put it slightly differently, the biggest problem with articles like the one in Tzarich Iyun is that Chareidim don't realize that the very same societal dysfunction which has led to some of the problems discussed in the article, problems which are acknowledged by its author, essentially serve as the causes/justification for the basic existence of the Chareidi world as a separate society in Israel. The very same attitudes towards modernity, science and especially Da’as Tora which brought us the bizarre reactions to the Chaim Walder affair or the handling of Covid, are also the causes of the Chareidi attitudes toward participation in the economic and military burdens of the State of Israel (including the overemphasis on learning). For example, if people were able to think on their own a little (as opposed to being convinced that the Gedolim justify what they do), they would realize that they need to support their families and that they can’t let others do all the dying for them.

    Point being – You can’t really solve these specific problems in the Chareidi world while maintaining Chareidi society. Remove those causes and there’s no more Chareidi society and Chareidim would no longer be the hyper-special people they think they are.

    And this is exactly what Rabbi Greenwald and other thoughtful Chareidim can’t bring themselves to admit.

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  10. If you don't have Gedolim in ivory towers telling everyone that it's ok to keep a distance from the inferior non-Chareidi society and that it's ok to not pay taxes and to not serve in the army etc. - then you don't have Chareidi society

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  11. RG writes "Where good principles conflict with other good principles, I hope for Daas Torah to clarify our hierarchy of values, make necessary distinctions, and set communal boundaries."

    This is (unintentionally?) subversive. It's anti-Daas Torah to merely "hope for Daas Torah to clarify...". Correct Daas Torah doctrine holds that "Daas Torah clarifies our values..". Daas Torah, is by definition, that which "clarifies our hierarchy of values, make necessary distinctions, and set communal boundaries." Daas Torah is declarative- it's an unalienable attribute of the Gedolim. It's most certainly not an imperative, that can be merely "hope[d] for". Heck, if it's a matter of hope, we can all hope that Ben Gurion, Bennet or any other non-Gadol will " clarify our hierarchy of values, make necessary distinctions, and set communal boundaries."

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    1. As was said in a different context "The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house."

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  12. The Charedim are very much like Q cultists and redcap trumpers. They must not, cannot allow any doubt to creep in on anything. If the Gedolim are wrong that is a reason to support them even more. If science shows they are incorrect it must be rejected more vehemently. It's always been a foundational principle of the subculture.

    The problem is more fundamental than that. You identified it yourself years ago. Even if the Ancient Sages are absolutely dead wrong about something, the information they worked from incorrect, their understanding of the physical workings of the world demonstrably wrong, their logic specious, their conclusions false-to-fact we must still treat it as if it were revealed by the Almighty because they are authorities. We are required to reject truth out of obedience to men. And that is an irreconcilable contradiction in revealed religion. Any revealed religion. The way it is dealt with - the only way it can be and preserve that principle - is increasingly shrill and violent rejection of reality.

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    1. You really don't have an personal understanding or insight into charedi society, do you. I presume you have no social connections within it.

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  13. Rabbi Melamed said this to answer why he wasn’t necessarily following the chareidi Gedolei haTorah’s rulings. But his answer implies that he believes in the concept of full authority and infaillibility for real (according to him) Gedolei haTorah.
    I find it hard to believe that rabbi Melamed thinks the chareidi Gedolei haTorah DO NOT have any opinion about the matters he mentions. More probably he feels that their opinion is not ‘’an all-embracing, fully accountable handling of serious issues facing the generation’’. Which sounds like a fancy way of saying that his own opinion is the only one valid.
    So to summarize, rabbi Melamed thinks there is a concept of Daas Torah which obligates lesser people to obey the Gedolim, but he believes you can’t be a Gadol if you do not have Religious Zionist views on certains subjects.

    Not long ago, you (rabbi Slifkin) put this declaration along with the one of Rabbi Lichtenstein, who questions the very concept of Daas Torah as infaillibility of people. (especially if they lack what he calls da’at). I think the two positions are contradictory.
    And, regarding the matter-at-hand, I believe it’s a mistake to think that rabbi Melamed’s position (as stated here at least) is any better than rabbi Greenwald’s.
    And your argument has nothing to do with ‘being part of the nation of Israel. The same criticism can be made of chareidi’s isolationism in the diaspora.

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    1. "Rabbi Lichtenstein, who questions the very concept of Daas Torah"

      Indeed we Modern Orthodox do not believe in Daas Torah. Why? Becuase Rav Soloveitchik z'tz'l told us not to believe in it.

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    2. IIUC R' Lichtenstein questioned the strong form of daas torah but was very much in favor of the weaker claim (always seek wisdom from the wise - but they don't decide for you)
      KT

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    3. Really? Can you quote Rav Soloveitchik on the subject?
      Chapter and verse?

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    4. @Charlie Hall
      I'm not sure of what you're trying to say. Is it just a joke, or are you under the impression that my sentence was meant as criticism of rabbi Lichtenstein's approach, or did you mean yet something else entirely?

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    5. @joel rich
      Did I write otherwise?

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    6. @Charlie Hall
      Oh. I just got your irony.

      Delete
    7. @Jew Well
      no-just clarifying
      kt

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    8. Sigh. I guess I'm not going to get an answer.

      Delete
  14. What gives the lie to your analysis of the charedi world is that until the last few decades the leadership has not been in the hands of ivory tower talmudists. R SZ Auerbach was not isolated, he frequently consulted with doctors and was fully famililar with the wider world even thought he didn't personally step into it. R Elyashiv was a Dayan on the Rabanut, meaning he dealt daily with very real world problems of all kinds. R Moshe Feinstein was had a number of scientists and doctors he frequently consulted with including family members.
    Going back further the Chazon Ish acquired some scientific knowldge in his early year according to reliable reports, and was familiar with much of the society around him due to his detailed interactions with questioners.
    So the claim that ivory tower leadership by isolated scholars is an inherent feature of charedi society is patently false.
    The open question is why that has come to be regarded as a sine qua non of charedi society , not least by the massed ranks of charedim themselves, in the last few decades.
    What is needed is to go a few steps back while at the same time taking a few steps forward.

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    Replies
    1. "So the claim that ivory tower leadership by isolated scholars is an inherent feature of charedi society is patently false.
      The open question is why that has come to be regarded as a sine qua non of charedi society , not least by the massed ranks of charedim themselves, in the last few decades."

      All that is true.
      But don't forget in parallel there have been other changes. There was a time when Charedim served in the army, worked, and even were Zionists or at least quasi-Zionists. MK Gafni's statement that he doesn't represent people who work for a living would have been unacceptable 40 years ago.

      Also note that the four gedolim you mention were poskim. Neither RGE, nor RCK are poskim in the conventional sense of the term.

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  15. It's very simple mates - if you want your kids to have a better chance of being frum living a charedi lifestyle and giving your kids a chareidi education is your best chance. With all the problems of that society. You don't have to sign up for everything that they do or believe. This are just the realities if life as I see them.

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    Replies
    1. I don't think that you appreciate that from a non-charedi perspective, the charedi way of life is *by definition* less frum.

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    2. Your non-chareidi definition of "frum" is meaningless. By your definition, a mechallel Shabbos atheist who contributes a lot to the economy is more "frum" than somebody learning in kollel. As you told me a while back. So yeah, Yakov is definitely right when we use the normal definition of "frum" rather than the idiosyncratic one that you invented five minutes ago.

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    3. RNS, I agree with your point here, but Yakovs point is also true the charedim can confidently propegate Orthodox Judaism without fear of assimilation the DL rates just don't compare.

      I myself send to BY and ballebatish charedi schools because I know they have that cultural safety net and are more likely to propegate Judaism throughout the generations. I just bite my lip on the stupid stuff.

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    4. "I just bite my lip on the stupid stuff." This sounds like an acceptance of deeply ignorant & destructive beliefs masked as 'protection'. In that sense Haredism is truly bound by a from of mental slavery and technical fulfilment.

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    5. @Meir Moses I disagree. By "biting my lip" i am weighing the pros and cons of committing to a societal track. I'm not "accepting" those beliefs (I obviously don't hold them if I'm biting my lip). Rather, I'm accepting practically that the right wing track in america (I live in the five towns not Lakewood or bnei brak) provides the best possible outcome. When red lines are crossed i make it very clear to my family that we dont believe this etc. In fact, most people i know in said track live the same way.

      For the first time ever, i completely agree with @happygolucky. We can't be frum if we think that our kids don't adhere to orthodox judaism. From an intellectual perspective their is great value in cultural tracks and even fundamentalism.

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    6. BM, I am glad that you agree with me on this issue, which IMO is the single most important issue in these discussions. With your children attending such good schools, perhaps we will even make a shidduch together one day!

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    7. @happy, relax. I'm ALSO saying that even if we practically commit to a track we musn't take it on wholesale and swallow everything, just enough so our kids don't think we live a contradictory life and get confused.

      Ultimately, I'm saying we need to spot value and take it where it may lie and not be too idealistic and throw the baby out with the bathwater. I find it odd that RNS doesn't speak of the obvious issues with DL chinuch.

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    8. Dear RNS, all we have to do is look at the kids and grandkids. There's no comparison. Now there are movements, sects and heresies in Judaism like in any religion and what is frum for some isn't frum for others. But hthe bottom line is whose kids learn more Torah and don't go less off the derech. My first alligeance is to the Torah and nothing else, so for me there is no choice but charedim. I'm easy going and chilled out and simply ignore the meshugasen, which you will find in any society.

      When I listen to the Mamlachti Dati rabbies like Rav Sherki, Rav Aviner, Rav London their Torah is Torah in the service of Zionism. Definitely not for me. Coming from a secular background I don't share their adoration of the secularism. Rav Kook's 'Maamar Hador' is a complete fantasy on which they base their hashkafa, or at least that's what I think.

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  16. In all three crises the problematic responses of the Haredi community (leadership) were not based on Halakhic grounds. The issues are cultural. Halakha requires following safety regulations and listening to doctors to prevent loss of human lives. It is a culture of silence that allows predators to continue to abuse children and vulnerable women. If being Haredi is measured by adherence to Halakha as decided by the community's poskin then changes in the culture is possible. If any modification of the culture is viewed as become secular then there is little hope. Proper leadership will make that determination.

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  17. As a secular person (who tends to believe in G-d) I think the basis for religiousness appears to be "I win because I can't be reasoned with, so there..!" I think there is plenty of wisdom in Judaism. Not so much with this attitude, though. Give me free speech, freedom of thought. And, I will choose, for myself, because I know it is right: borders, boundaries, standards, decency, fairness, hope, correctness, principles, discipline, guilt, a conscience.

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  18. "Some people are so frustrated with problems in the Orthodox community that they can only think of addressing these problems with a sledgehammer, which inevitably means that their campaign is entirely ineffective."

    -Natan Slifkin, November 11, 2010
    http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2010/11/positive-force.html

    That was then. This is now.

    "from the charedi perspective, they are not problems of rabbinic leadership - they are features of it. More precisely, they are inherent aspects of the fundamental nature of that society.

    ... Distrust of science and professionalism and government is inevitable and even valuable for reinforcing cultural identity. And the related issue of anti-rationalism means that rabbinic authority is vested in precisely those who are least suited to wield it - the Talmudists who are isolated from science and society but who, precisely for this reason, are believed to possess authentic, supernatural Daas Torah.

    One can only hope that Rabbi Greenwald and the many others like him will soon take the next step, as emotionally difficult as it may be. Once out of the charedi mindset, one can fully recognize the importance of being part of the nation of Israel."



    I guess you've grown frustrated that charedi society keeps defying your endless announcements its demise.

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  19. @BigMouth:"@Meir Moses I disagree. By "biting my lip" i am weighing the pros and cons of committing to a societal track.... Rather, I'm accepting practically that the right wing track in america (I live in the five towns not Lakewood or bnei brak) provides the best possible outcome."

    I'm very familiar with the wider mentality there - and 'right-wing' is the perfect description in every sense of the word. As a person who for 50 years has been exposed to orthodox & secular ideas, that's just a (narrow) path I can no longer (personally) believe in - to me it's ultimately an insular path that may preserve a stream of Judaism in some shape or form - and it's continuity is tied to a political and social vision that will likely ultimately come with a high-price to US Jews. It's very saddening to see.

    ReplyDelete

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