Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Top 5 Dangerous Reforms in Orthodox Judaism

There is a popular myth that Orthodox (and specifically charedi) Judaism represents a basically unaltered approach to Torah and Judaism that has been in existence since Sinai. In fact, it has undergone all kinds of transformations. Some of these are beneficial responses to a changing world; others are relatively harmless. But there are some innovations which might have been driven by good intentions, but have catastrophic consequences.

There is a long list of such harmful innovations, such as the evolution of expensive "requirements" for getting married, the removal of pictures and names of women, and the replacement of various spiritual and material work by segulos. Some of these reforms pose a serious threat to society as a whole. Here, in ascending order, is my view of the most dangerous reforms that have arisen:

5) The notion that material endeavor has no real significance

In traditional Judaism, while God always had the ability to control things and intervene, our material endeavor had genuine significance. But recently, the idea evolved that there is no cause-and-effect in the physical world, that everything is solely dictated by spiritual merit. Accordingly, this meant that people perceive such things as work and army duty as a charade that has no real significance and is merely a "price" that must be paid for maintaining an illusion. Aside from the logical and empirical problems with this approach, it inevitably has the effect of people not taking worldly effort seriously. (For more on this, see my post The Soldiers Are Really Doing Stuff)

4) The creation of "Daas Torah"

While rabbinic counsel was always part of Judaism, traditionally it was valued insofar as it reflected wisdom - the Sages observed that a Torah scholar could lack wisdom and be "worse than a rotten carcass." Furthermore, rabbinic counsel was valued in accordance with it reflecting knowledge - both of the world, and of systems of thought. The modern concept of Daas Torah inverts that, and proclaims that knowledge of Torah (even just Talmud) automatically produces wisdom. It further states that the ultimate guidance (which is considered tdaco be binding) comes from those who are the most isolated from general knowledge of the world. (For more on this, see my monograph The Making of Haredim)

3) The redefinition of Torah Lishma

For Chazal and the Rishonim, "Torah Lishma" was the opposite of Torah Shelo Lishma. It meant that rather than learning for the sake of glory, one was learning for the right reasons - primarily, knowing how to be a good Jew. But when R. Chaim of Volozhin wanted to counter the chassidic notion that Judaism is exclusively about spiritual closeness to God, he reframed the concept of Torah Lishma to mean learning Torah as an end unto itself. Rav Chaim may well be rolling in his grave at where this led. With the rise of the welfare state, this led to an ever-growing community who believe that they are being good Jews and contributing to society by learning in kollel and living off the rest of society, even while they are causing tremendous damage to Israel's economy. (For more on this, see my book Rationalism vs. Mysticism)

2) The idea that the reward for mitzvot can be transferred to anyone

In classical Judaism, the merit for mitzvot is accrued to those who perform them (and to their ancestors who made them into such people); there was simply no mechanism by which someone could choose to transfer it to somebody else. But in the 19th century, the idea evolved that you can choose to transfer the merit for mitzvot to whomever you want. This innocent-sounding idea made a dangerous combination with the previous innovation about Torah Lishma. It enabled those who do not contribute to the economy to convince people to give them money, on the grounds that they are allegedly providing a service for they or their loved ones by learning Torah or doing mitzvot on their behalf. (For more on this, see the chapter "What Can One Do For Someone Who Has Passed Away?" in my book Rationalism vs. Mysticism)

And finally, the most dangerous by far of all the reforms in Orthodox Judaism:

1) The devaluing of self-sufficiency

Classical Judaism maintained (as does every other culture in the world) that self-sufficiency is important. Chazal stated that it is better to engage in a lowly trade than rely on communal support. They extolled the value of work. They said that it is obligatory for parents to raise their children with the ability to provide for themselves. Modern charedi society, on the other hand, has thrown that out of the window. It is considered perfectly acceptable and even an ideal to be supported by others, and to raise one's children without the education or ability to earn a living. While that was manageable when the charedi community was small, it now creates ever-increasing harm to the State of Israel and is actually an existential threat.


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142 comments:

  1. Natan, why do you avoid discussing evidence to your claims on evolution as Jonathan Ostroff says? And why did you reject meeting with Rabbi Sternbuch? https://youtu.be/Ou4SOrKFkPM

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    1. What on earth is the point in a non-biologist arguing with another non-biologist about scientific evidence when in any case his position is determined by his religious beliefs?

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    2. He should meet with R Sternbuch? Let the Gedolei Harabanim Hachareidim who held like him (or rather, who he held like) meet R Sternbuch. That's appropriate. And he can meet his opposing peers.

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  2. The problem is, although you raise some good points, secularist Judaism goes way too far in the opposite direction. The devaluation of Torah, mitzvos, and rabbinical authority, and the concurrent overvaluation of wealth, power, and secular knowledge has resulted in the situation we have today, with about 80% of Jews being mechallel Shabbos and not keeping the Torah at all. Sure, you have a wealthy and powerful country you are proud of, with a mighty army. So did Menashe. As I said before, what good is all this wealth and might when atheism, chillul Shabbos, homosexuality, arayos, and abortion all run rampant in your secularist circles?

    So yes, wealth and physical strength are all good things even according the Torah. Yet the Torah tells us not to overvalue them. לא בגבורת הסוס יחפץ ולא בשוקי האיש ירצה. And the tochacha as well as our tragic history tells us where an overemphasis on wealth and power leads us.

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    1. But why do you see a dichotomy? Can't Judaism remain holy and ALSO not be self-destructive? Do you mean that the only way to keep away the outside world and its corrupting influence is to create falsehoods?

      Clearly (at least according to RNS, as I am no expert), this was not a problem from the times of Chazal until the 1800s.

      Ah, you will say, but the Enlightenment and other movements served to pry open the boundaries, enabling more mixing, and therefore Judaism, in order to remain holy, had to wall itself off.

      But that is self-defeating. Come up with a better model, a better solution. One can believe in Divine Providence and also that it is good to teach one's children a trade. One can have sexual purity while also allowing that rabbanim do not know everything. I fail to see why the one necessitates the othher.

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    2. Yosef R, there is a dichotomy, there always has been since the Torah was given. Between the holy and profane, between the temptations of the outside world and the life of holiness. How we negotiate this dichotomy is a fine balance. The way most Jews dealt with it during the Enlightenment led to the tragic situation we have today. I will not say the other Jews did a great job either. And I will not say the chareidim are doing a great job either, but they are doing much, much better than the secularists ר"ל.

      Personally, I prefer the American model where we believe in Divine Providence, but also teach children a trade. A trade doesn't have to mean learning about evolution, about how the Mabul never happened, about feminism, about homosexuals, about how the Torah is a myth. A trade is a trade. We also don't teach that rabbanim know everything, despite the propaganda you hear from those who hate rabbanim more than Akiva when he was an am ha'aretz.

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    3. When did any charedi publication ever say that any Gadol was wrong about anything?

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    4. "Do you mean that the only way to keep away the outside world and its corrupting influence is to create falsehoods?"

      This certainty true! Fundamentalism is what works, empiricism is what's true. There is enough overlap to validate judaism.

      But as you say, this is quite the dichotomy @happy is making.

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    5. When did "Rationalist Judaism" ever say the early Zionists were wrong about anything? We have our Gedolim and you have yours. Our are great Talmidei Chachamim, Yorei Shamayim, and yours are atheists and mechallelei Shabbos, yet you will never say they were wrong about anything. However, I am a "chareidi" (in your terms) and am more than willing to say things a Gadol was wrong about. So do most "chareidim" I know.

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    6. Here's a chareidi l'mehadrin blog that routinely writes that Gedolim, Achronim, Rishonim, and even Chazal got things wrong. https://rationalbelief.org.il/ He just goes about it in a respectful way. And the blog writer even put out a sefer where he mentions all this, and it was enthusiastically bought by the chareidi world, and was never put in cherem. You get very far with just a bit of respect.

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    7. "We also don't teach that rabbanim know everything..."

      As formal doctrine, no. Is it believed? Of course it is.

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    8. "How we negotiate this dichotomy is a fine balance"

      That doesn't make sense. Do you know what "dichotomy" means?

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    9. "When did "Rationalist Judaism" ever say the early Zionists were wrong about anything? "

      You don't read much, do you? Do you actually think there were never any debates, disputes or animosity? Or is rebuke the sole property of Peleg, Satmar and Iyun?

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    10. Ephraim, again I ask, when did "Rationalist Judaism" ever say the early Zionists were wrong about anything? You never answered the question. You just wrote about debates, disputes and animosity, which is unfortunately quite common among chareidi Gedolim as well. I have amply demonstrated that secularists such as Rabbi Slifkin similarly never criticize their own "Gedolim".

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    11. @BM, we already went through this. You are wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Read the website I linked from a Israeli chareidi l'mehadrin author. It is not even believed by the Israeli chareidim, kal v'chomer American "chareidim".

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    12. I appreciate your response, happy, in that you prefer teaching a trade over not doing so. But in doing so you break the dichotomy.

      And I would venture to say that a chareidi blogger is Not As Chareidi as the rest of the Chareidi velt. But as always, I admit that I Do Not Know.

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    13. Yosef R, there is a dichotomy, and yet we must balance our hishtadlus for both olam hazeh and olam haba, even though one tends to have a negative effect on the other. What's so hard to understand about that? This is basic Jewish hashkafa that emerges from practically all our sources. The fact that you eagerly believe lies and lashon hara that certain individuals spread about chareidim is your own problem. I have learned in "chareidi" yeshivos, and am as "chareidi" as anybody I know, including people still in kollel. No true Scotsman applies.

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    14. Dati Leumi ideology puts Judaism st the service of Zionism and the state. This is the real problem. Everything else is secondary.

      Falsehood, deception and obfuscation are used by all religions and ideologies and has its source in the human nature. Sometimes it's necessary, but it's gone very far.

      Normal charedim understand that learning a trade, getting a secular education, serving in the army will lead people off the derech. It's just the way it is and is true today as always. Nobody was yet able to straddle the two successfully as a community. These are all defensive evolutionary mechanisms and should be very simple to understand for all the darwinists on this blog. Selection, adaptation, evolution - it's all here.

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    15. Yakov, I want to push back against your claim that learning a trade will lead people off the derech. Most frum yidden in America learn a trade. There is no reason why it has to lead one off the derech if one goes about it properly. Yes, any sort of engagement in the outside world has risks. It's a difficult balance, but with the proper choices, it's achievable.

      About the army I agree. Under no circumstances will chareidi parents allow their kids to be put in a situation where all of their waking moments for years are controlled by secularists. As I say below, the secularists have a bad enough influence even without that.

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    16. It seems that charedim imported the Catholic papal infallibility dogma. Reform indeed.

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    17. @happy
      There is more openness outside of Israel, but the problem of attrition due to the exposure to the secular world is still there. Unlike in Israel, the gentile society has no dog in the fight and has no agenda of assimilating the Orthodox Jews and that makes things easier. All religions find it hard to deal with modernity. It's a fact regardless of what we may think the reasons for it are.

      I live in the modern world, but brought up my kids in traditional charedi institutions. It's where you have more yiddishkeit, so to speak, the connection to Torah is stronger and the worship of Zionism and secularism is absent. It's a more rational and safer approach then to put them into a government religious school or a modern orthodox institution. This is a very old story that has proven itself out in every generation.

      It's better to be an 17th century person living in the 21st century then a chiloni or at least that's what I think.

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    18. As a Not Israeli, I am probably more willing to "forgive" a desire to avoid the army. I see the injustice of it - other families can sacrifice their sons but not you? - but I feel that there just is not a good fit, technically, probably, for most yeshiva kids. But then there should be some other Sheirut Leumi type of program to demonstrate the contribution to the country. And an expression of appreciation to the army that defends them and the country that houses and feeds them - often with direct stipends. This begins with tefillah lishlom hamedinah and the mi shebeirach for chayalei tzahal but also extends to having a positive attitude in general toward these entities.

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    19. Yosef R, chareidim contribute way more to the country than the typical secularist, just by virtue of following the Torah. It's a two-way street. You can't be a population that's basically opposed to the Torah, that's mechallel Shabbos, that embraces atheism and homosexuality, and then demand that people who follow the Torah have a positive attitude towards you.

      You fail to recognize that the chareidim are still fighting the battle against the maskilim. The maskilim think they already won 70 years ago, and are annoyed that the chareidim don't recognize that. This is the source of their demand for tefilah l'shalom hamedina, and "a positive attitude".

      You want a tefillah lishlom hamedinah and a mi shebeirach for chayalei tzahal? How about starting with a requirement that anybody who joins the IDF keeps Shabbos, at least for the length of their service. You want a chareidim to have a positive attitude towards the state? How about about a serious government initiative to start making the people of the country follow the Torah. I can't say it would work for sure, but it would go a long way.

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    20. That's a terrible idea.

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  3. Regarding numbers 3 & 1, Rambam agrees as follows:
    “One who makes up his mind to involve himself with Torah and not to work, and to support himself from charity, has profaned God’s Name and brought the Torah into contempt, extinguished the light of religion, brought evil upon himself, and has taken away his life from the World-to-Come...” (Hilchos Talmud Torah 3:10)

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    1. That's rather simplistic. Read all the commentaries. Leeway is definitely given to support Torah scholars. Some commentaries don't outright disagree but rather claim that the Rambam would admit that some circumstances would allow some sort of support. Whether such commentaries would permit the support of a mass non-ending non-elite kollel system imposed on non-willing tax payers is another question.


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    2. It isn't really a question. It is specifically what the Rambam decries. Chazal also specifically state that you must teach your son a trade or it is as if you taught him to steal.

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    3. Not saying people should not learn a trade (I think they should) however chazals reasoning is that if not they will eventually go out and steal because they will need to in order to survive which today not sure that is the same as there are legal government programs to help those people so they wont necessarily come to that.

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    4. Learning in kollel is not simply ''making up one's mind to support oneself to charity''. There is a whole system ready to provide for people specifically learning in kollel, and that money wouldn't be given to them otherwise. So it's like a trade.
      Is it good for society or not, that's a different question, but at least this is not the piece of Rambam you should be quoting.

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    5. This seems to be a dog whistle
      Whenever someone mentions that Rambam, it is safe to assume that we are talking about an Am Ha'aretz.
      Anyone who knows what Halacha is and how it is decided, knows that a Rambam is nowhere near the end of the subject. Understanding Halacha means the ability to balance more than one opinion at the same time, and the ability to figure out how the Halacha should be decided.
      Most Rishonim argued with the Rambam, and they show that precedent is against him. See the Tashbatz for a lengthy discussion. The Beis Yosef spends many words disagreeing with the Rambam in more than one of his Seforim. The Rema decides the Halacha against the Rambam.

      The idea that the Rambam is the final decision maker is one of the אמונות טפלות of those who refuse to invest time and effort into learning.

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  4. what about blind faith in Rebbes (mendel vishnitz, Ger real estate) to the point that they demand you follow them even when the say left is right and right is left

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  5. "Reports of my [imminent] death have been greatly exaggerated." :^D

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  6. i really think that Natan is struggling with a severe case of OCD (obsessive Charedi Disorder). I am not charedi but if a Blog written by a charedi guy would constantly point out the problems in the Dati world, we all would rightly say concentrate on your own problems and stopattacking the Datim, we have enough problens that you should concentrate on and help our society improve and leave the charedim to the odd post

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    1. The difference is as follows: The problems in the Dati community do not affect charedim, but the problems in the charedi community affect the non-charedi religious community and even the entire country.

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    2. Nonsense. The chareidim are a small minority of the population, the secularists make up the vast majority. Anything the secularists do affects the chareidim way more than the chareidim affect them. And the harms the secularists perpetrate against the chareidim as well as themselves are incalculable.

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    3. The chareidim are definitely not a small percentage of the population and their percentage rises each year due to a much higher birthrate

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    4. Ross, both can be, and are, true. Perhaps, to you, any number of charedim is too many, and thus not a small percentage.

      The percentage of charedi men who get draft exemptions is very high. But in absolute numbers, the number of non-charedi exemptions drawfs those of the charedim, because there are so many more of them the percentage is not really relevant.

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    5. The Charedim as a population in Israel are entirely dependent on the general public for pretty much every material need. It requires an unreasonable amount of chutzpah to whine about "harms" perpetrated upon them.

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    6. "It requires an unreasonable amount of chutzpah to whine about "harms" perpetrated upon them."

      For example, the latest whine is about the "hike" of bus fares. Apparently, for some reason, up till now bus fares in some charedi areas were half the price- as low as two shekel in some places, instead of six elsewhere. It looks like these charedi only discounts are to be removed. But Kikar reports the return to fair and equal prices as a "decree".

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    7. "It requires an unreasonable amount of chutzpah to whine about "harms" perpetrated upon them."

      The secularists have a terrible influence on everybody including the chareidim, which is why the chareidim have to take such steps to isolate themselves. Indeed, counter-secularism is the defining characteristic of "chareidi". Of course, secularists, who tend to have a more atheistic perspective, don't believe in spiritual harms at all. To them, there is no problem with rampant atheism, chillul Shabbos, homosexuality, arayos. But to the chareidim, and anybody who is a believer, these are tremendous harms.

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    8. Some people can't do math. 12.6% is, actually, a small percentage of the population.

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    9. Lol what? If secularists have so much influence on you that's your problem, not anyone else's. The secular community, on the other hand, can't just isolate themselves from the fact that 9/10 Haredi families receive more from the government (which you so revile) than they give. What a dumb comparison.

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    10. The secularists are immensely harmful to everybody, both themselves as well as chareidim. To pretend that they don't have a terrible influence on everybody is just being willfully blind. Of course, coming from a secular, atheistic perspective, you're not concerned about those influences at all and even embrace them.

      Regarding the complaint that poor people take more from the government than they give, that's a totally self-inflicted problem, the natural result of the welfare state that was founded and perpetuated by secularists. The secularists could absolutely isolate themselves from it if they wish. They form the vast majority of the government, and could dismantle their own welfare state tomorrow. Nobody is stopping them. Certainly not the small chareidi minority.

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    11. Anonymous,

      Ever heard of “kol yisrael areivim zeh bazeh”?

      Why should R’ Slifkin “concentrate on [his] own problems” when the problems he addresses affect k’lal (and medinat) yisrael as a whole?

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    12. What kind of ridiculous reason is that to live on welfare? Because the government technically allows it?
      And in general it's low class to call your opponents atheists (besides the fact it does nothing for your argument).

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    13. Isaac, I didn't call you an atheist, just that you're coming from an atheistic perspective.

      What kind of ridiculous complaint is it that poor people live on welfare, when you intentionally designed your system to do exactly that?? It's not just that the government "technically" allows it, the entire system is very much set up on the "socialist" side of social democracy.

      So stop complaining about your self inflicted problems. You have all the power, you can change it tomorrow if you want. Yes, even on Shabbat. Don't worry about the charedim, they will do just fine as they do elsewhere.

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    14. True point, if there ever was one. The fundamental problems of the Dati community are: high attrition rate caused by confusing and inadequate Torah learning, adoration of the secular achievements and idolizing the Zionist movement. Of the ones that nominally remain dati there is a high percentage of חילונים אם כיפות and people with confusing and erratic commitment and observance. I don't belong to that society and it's problems are not mine, but if I did, this is what I would be addressing not a group that is foreign to my lifestyle and the way of thinking. התקוששו וקושו.

      As a charedi aligned person, I do find these posts interesting. Neither society engages in retrospection and this blog presents us as we are seen by many from the outside. Mostly true criticism without seeing the total perspective. If I were Dati, I wouldn't care for this. Not my world, not my problem, no need to drill down so deeply. Let the evolution do its thing.

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  7. I am not sure that the last one in your great list of bad reforms is an existential threat. How is it an existential threat?

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  8. hello! In my personal opinion, this article would be much more accurate if the title were something like "Top 5 Dangerous Reforms in some groups of Orthodox Jews".
    It is a bit dangerous, biased and unfair to classify such a large and diverse group of people under one heading.

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    1. The article is about “dangerous reforms in some groups of Orthodox Jews” (viz. chareidi Orthodox Jews, particularly Israeli chareidi Orthodox Jews).

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  9. Ashreichem Yisroel!
    We are living in a world where Western Governments have stopped believing in God, homosexuality is rampant,
    teachers are scared of being physically attacked by their students, teenage girls walk the streets with mini skirts that show it all, common decency is a relic from the past, 88% of American male adults have admitted they view porn online, Parents are scared to say No to their children, youth to youth murder in the on the rise etc etc
    And how are things faring in Klal Yisroel?
    Take it from its biggest critic: We learning too much Torah and ascribe to Daas Torah! Thats our aveiros
    Ashreichem Yisroel!

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    1. Ech, moral relativism.

      The issue is not "if we all die now, who is holier?" The issue is "can the current situation within the Jewish community - particularly in the Jewish State - continue indefinitely?" The answer to the actual question - to people studying the demographics and the economics - is No. And here are some societal reasons why. Don't get bogged down by "yeah, but" statements.

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    2. @Yosef R, if the current situation in the "Jewish" State can't continue indefinitely- it won't. "If something cannot go on forever, it will stop." You should be much more concerned with the fact that most Jews in the state of Israel are mechalellei Shabbos. This should concern you much more than economic matters, which will sort themselves out. In fact they already are, with the government cutting various subsidies that benefit chareidim. Happy now?

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    3. @happy, What have you done to persuade the hilonim to embrace Shabbat observance? Other than pine for government enforcement. Btw, how do you feel about public stonings of mechalelei Shabbat?

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    4. I personally donate to kiruv organizations. But it's not enough for it to happen at the individual level, it needs to happen at the leadership level. There needs be government enforcement of religion. And especially those secularists who complain about chareidi isolationism from society ought to take a hard look at their own society's isolation from the Torah.

      As for stoning, it would be a rare occurence if ever. But your question is a good example of secularism run amok. They think nothing of killing thousands of babies a year for no reason at all, but recoil in horror when reading about capital punishment in the Torah.

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    5. Public stoning is a mitzvah, but in Iran they don't do it now, instead they hang the criminals in private due to the negative public perception. The situation can be tactfully handled, if necessary.

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  10. Rabbi Slifkin - regarding #3, would you please elaborate and/or substantiate your claim that Torah l’Shma meaning for the sake of Torah is a “reform.” I thought Nefesh HaChaim’s diyuk from the Rosh was compelling. Presumably, something that is based on the Rosh cannot be a reform. Of course, other Rishonim may have disagreed with the Rosh but unless you can demonstrate that there was a clear consensus against the Rosh and Rav Chaim of Volozhin went against that consensus, how can this be called reform?

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    1. In case R' Slifkin does not respond to this: you may feel that since the Rosh said it, it is not a "reform" in Jewish philosophy. Nevertheless, it was a reform in Jewish PRACTICE. Until the Yeshiva movement picked up, Torah Lishma was never a be-all and end-all for more than just the town rabbi or the baalei treisin. We all know the practices that some of the Amoraim and Rishonim had in order to support themselves (doctors, vintners, possible blacksmiths).

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    2. I don't believe that this is what the Rosh is actually saying. See my book for discussion.

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    3. Yosef R - I think you may be confusing issues. Torah L'shmah meaning Torah for Torah's sake is a motivation for studying Torah. This is not related to finances. Someone can spend most of their waking hours working but still spend their available time learning Torah and their intention while learning is for the Torah's sake.

      Rabbi Slifkin, I'll try to look it up, but given that you are posting and publicly arguing that Rav Chaim Volozhin misunderstood the Rosh, would you be willing to elaborate on your support for this assertion?

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    4. Yosef R - the idea that Amora'im and Rishonim had these jobs is subject to a Machlokes. Some Rishonim say that the Rambam was wrong with his claim that Tanna'im and Amora'im had side jobs, and the claim that Rashi was a vintner is backed by nothing at all, as is well known.

      Torah Lishmah meant that the learning has value of its own accord. Remember the story of the Four Captives, where someone was appointed Rav because he knew a Halacha in Kodshim, a Halacha that was not relevant to anyone at the time.
      Historically learning was always considered a valuable occupation, not just to be able to become a Rav or teacher or to pasken Halachos. Only History revisionists can claim otherwise.

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    5. It is clear that many talmidei chachamim worked. Hillel clearly was not supported by tzedakah, at least not at first. How much time Hillel worked vs learned is an open question - certainly the concept of a 9-5 job didn't exist and he may have spent most of his time learning (like how the Rambam says to work for like 3 hours) but not necessarily. Some Rishonim clearly worked, but again, how much of it was out of necessisity, and how much of it was b'shitah, and how much time were they working, all good questions.

      I do not think Rabbi Slifkin is trying to relitigate the fundamental question if we should poskin like the Rambam or not. The majority of Rishonim were against the Rambam, (although he had some supporters such as ironically the Yad Ramah). The Shach and nosei keilim are clear.

      Rabbi Slifkin will also likely respond that there is strong evidence against R' Ibn Daud's Four Captives so lets not go there.

      I believe though our fundamental point still stands - if the Rosh said Torah L'shmah means for its own sake, then it becomes much more difficult to claim this is a reform. Additionally, someone who works most of the day could still learn Torah for its own sake.

      Your point though about Kodshim is very good. Rabbi Slifkin, why did the Rambam master Kodshim and write on it?

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    6. And the Four Captives story has been called apocryphal as well.

      But still, there was no organized yeshiva movement that had large numbers of boys in kollel at any one time. Maybe Rashi occupied himself with learning and writing full time. And Ramban. And Rabbeinu Tam. But not 500 hundred boys sitting in a room near Rabbeinu Tam.

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    7. I acknowledged the point about Four Captives.

      Your point about Kollel is certainly true. What does that have to do with the meaning of Torah L'shmah?

      Rabbi Slifkin, using very strident words, claimed that it is a dangerous reform to say that Torah L'shmah means Torah for Torah's sake. That is a very particular claim and given that he is arguing against some big people, who claim to be basing themselves of off the Rosh, it behooves Rabbi Slifkin to demonstrate his point, or not write in such a bombastic manner.

      Again, I am not saying Rabbi Slifkin is necessarily wrong. I am saying that he made bold claims, but rather than act like a scholar and back up his claims, he writes as a populist, trying to whip up a crowd. Sending me to his book isn't good enough. If one wants to write with this tone and attack others, one needs to back up one's claims.

      Delete
  11. The fact is that Chareidim believe strongly in points 1-5, and these "basic belief" items are historic novelties. This fact is a powerful refutation of the Kuzari principle which declares that a mass revelation must be genuine. Now, take "Daas Torah" as an example. What's genuine about "Daas Torah" that all Chareidim are totally sold on, may I ask? Who made this stuff up out of thin air? How did this beliefs turn into mainstream chareidi thinking? What does this tell you about the Kuzari principle?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb addresses this problem extensively, although I never understood his explanation.

      Delete
    2. Huh? I'm not defending/detracting from the kuzari argument, but these points are irrelevant to the KP. DG specifically limits it to national experiential traditions, no commonly held false beliefs (everyone agrees those exist.)

      Delete
    3. This comment beautifully demonstrates how people ignorant of Judaism get confused about the strengths of various beliefs. To them, there's no difference between Yetzias Mitzrayim, the Rabba bar bar Chana stories, and a chassidishe maaseh. And I understand where they're coming from. For somebody who looks at Judaism from an outside, secular perspective, it's easy to get confused about the various Jewish beliefs.

      Delete
    4. I want to add- not that I believe the Kuzari "proof" as formulated by Rabbi Gottleib and other such people. I don't think it's possible to formulate a "proof" of the mesorah that would be acceptable to secular scientists/intellectuals. Partially for the reasons I mentioned. And attempting to do so will just tend to make a laughingstock of the whole thing, as demonstrated in Rabbi Gottleib's case.

      Delete
    5. Heh. Happy, your statement reads amusingly enough as an indictment of certain perspectives: to some people WITHIN Judaism, there is no difference in veracity or authority in a story or a statement coming from a Pasuk, a Gemara, or a Chssidishe maaseh. What the rabbanim say is Torah MiSinai and don't you forget it!

      Delete
    6. Yosef R, you must be referring to secularists, who don't distinguish between what the rabbanim say, what laypeople say, what they themselves make up, and Torah miSinai. I think even the most extreme chassidim don't believe every single chassidishe maaseh is Torah miSinai. The proof is in the pudding. The most extreme chassidim don't consider litvaks heretical, and will even collaborate with them on religious matters, despite the fact that litvaks don't believe and even mock chassidishe maasim. But they will consider heretical people who believe the Torah is a sacred myth.

      Delete
    7. No, Happy, we have certainly seen reactions from yeshivish people who are following latter-day rabbanim as stridently as if Moshe Rabbeinu had said things. Those more intellectually honest might argue, for sure, on behalf of a shittah they support, but will acknowledge that Rishonim trump Acharonim, something written in Shas is not like something written a century ago, and a pasuk is most important.

      Delete
    8. Yosef, we have seen lots of unreasonable things from unreasonable people. Certainly, there are unreasonable yeshivish people. But there are a whole lot more unreasonable secularists. The host of this blog being one of them. Personally, although I am uncomfortable with the unreasonable yeshivish people, I recognize that they are by far the lesser of two evils.

      Delete
  12. So many of the sociological changes in the ultra-Orthodox way of life are, unwittingly, absorptions of practise of contemporary fundamentalist Christianity. The fundamentalist concept of piety has been translated into Jewish life, with detrimental effect.

    The same is true for Christian concepts, which exercise pressure on what some Jews think of as correctness. Some of the ideas in this article are the progeny of a Christian innovation directly intended to undermine Jewish ethics. See "TAKE THEREFORE NO THOUGHT for the morrow…." With this clear instruction, Jesus concluded a radical teaching (Matthew 6:24-34) denigrating life in this world, something which Chazal opposed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We notice in politics a lot of overlap in party voting by more "frum" strains of Jews and Christians... to the recent embarrassment during the pandemic of the previously-thought-to-be-rational Jews (who usually go to the Best Doctor, a la Jackie Mason) suddenly behaving like Christians from rural areas who don't trust them big city doctors.

      Delete
  13. #2 is not a widespread belief amongst the haredi faithful. Rabbi Nissan Kaplan (son-in-law of Rabbi Avraham Gurewicz of Gateshead), along with many others, have been outspoken against it. It definitely does not rank in any list of worst populist haredi neo-philosophies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm very happy to hear that, but is there anything from anyone actually in writing?

      Delete
  14. Surely the reason why a number of leaders have spoken out against it is precisely because it has become widespread. There are voices within the Charedi world against all the distortions which have become widespread. Just not enough to stem the changes so far.

    ReplyDelete
  15. In parallel, the Top 5 Dangerous Reforms from the RZ world:

    1. Idealization of "The (complete) Land of Israel" to the exclusion of caring for "The People of Israel"
    2. Idealization of militaristic, strong, 'wish we were King David' attitudes
    3. Increased hatred of Arabs and desire to have an Arab-Free 'Land of Israel'
    4. Exclusion of moderate rabbis, leaders and dialogue from RZ public space. Inability to criticize racist extremist rabbis and their followers.
    5. Belief that rabbis shoudl be politicians and that religious goals should be achieved through legislation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These issues are debated in the RZ world. There are fine RZ rabbis whose left-of-center positions on one or more of these issues have not caused them to be ousted from the RZ world. The same can't be said about moderation in the Charedi world.
      (Which is why the attacks against R' Melamed are so disturbing.)

      Delete
    2. Not a fan: I certainly do not claim to be an expert on modern Israeli politics, but I thought that davka some of the points you made are NOT what RZ folks hold - particularly #5 - who has been pushing religious goals through the legislation? That sounds remarkably medieval...

      (Though I will acknowledge that outside of politics I have noticed among many some behavior in the general direction of #1, which annoys me, particularly in schools...)

      Delete
    3. YosefR
      Have you seen how the Smotrich/Ben-Gvir/Avi Maoz party is gaining traction? They are a growing power as the next generation of RZ voters have been educated in far-right yeshivot. They want a gay-free, arab-free, halachic state. Iran for the Jews, if you like. (I don't.)
      They are the best example that #5 is a real problem.

      Ephraim,
      They may be debated but nothing gets done about it and the problem is getting worse. (It apparently takes the UK Board of Deputies to show Israeli Religious Zionists the difference between right and wrong.)

      Delete
    4. Not a fan: so what you are saying is that #5 is a chareidi agenda being pushed by religious Zionists? I don't follow (either the actual politics or your argument).

      Delete
  16. I imagine you're starting about 1800. If we were to start in 1750, well...

    ReplyDelete
  17. You forgot severe asceticism. The idea that suffering automatically increases yirat shamayim. This contributes to a rejection of the modern world. Since part of the goal of the enlightenment was a focus on relieving human suffering.

    -On your point #1. If Israel instituted a wide spread non-needs based UBI, the Charedi rabbinate would oppose it. This should be odd, because according to the "theory" the only reason people don't learn full time is the pressure to make a living. So UBI should relieve this. But, I think it would have the opposite effect. Many people would leave Kollel, because, even living out the present poverty, the lifestyle itself is neither satisfying nor fulfilling.

    ReplyDelete
  18. All these 'dangerous reforms' are the rsult of the evolutionary selection process where a society chooses the path of the optimal, albeit not ideal, survival. It worked till now, when it stopes working a new approach will develop. No other approach was able to preserve the the Jewish people as a Torah observant nation.

    ReplyDelete
  19. "And finally, the most dangerous by far of all the reforms in Orthodox Judaism:

    1) The devaluing of self-sufficiency"

    A deliberate decision of the founders of the State of Israel to have a socialist economy where nobody is remotely self-sufficient. The author of this blog is definitely not self-sufficient by any stretch of the imagination. In the US, which is much less socialist (and is an anomaly among modern countries in this respect), "chareidim" are much more self sufficient than in Israel.

    You must decide what you stand for. If you are Modern Orthodox, and support modern ideas, you cannot claim to highly value self-sufficiency, which has been supplanted by modern social-democratic welfare states.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'Nobody' is an overstatement, but it's tough. At the end of the day in any society we are all dependent on each other. See Kropotkin's 'Mutual Aid as a Factor in Evolution.'

      Delete
    2. The modern welfare state with it's high taxes and heavy regulations makes it unprofitable to work hard. If we couldn't launder our income, working would make too much sense for us. But people help each other to survive and do well.

      Delete
    3. "A deliberate decision.."

      Wrong. Maybe a mistaken decision, but it wasn't deliberate. Socialists, for the most part believe that their system provides self-sufficiency.

      "In the US, which is much less socialist (and is an anomaly among modern countries in this respect), "chareidim" are much more self sufficient than in Israel."
      In Israel, American Charedim are not considered real Charedim. Are you saying that if Israel were to drop or reduce social spending, then the Charedim would have no choice but to go out to work and become more self-sufficient?

      Delete
    4. "Socialists, for the most part believe that their system provides self-sufficiency".

      Not true. Maybe they believe it provides national self-sufficiency, certainly not individual self-sufficiency.

      "Are you saying that if Israel were to drop or reduce social spending, then the Charedim would have no choice but to go out to work and become more self-sufficient?"

      Of course, what else?? But any large-scale reforms that increase "self-sufficiency" would have wide-ranging effects on the economy and affect a lot more people than just chareidim!

      Delete
  20. I see Rabbi Slifkin ranks self-sufficiency and contribution to the economy very high on his list of values. 4 out of 5 dangerous reforms have to do with discouraging earning a living.

    So I'm curious, what exactly does Rabbi Slifkin do to promote the Israeli economy? Is he self-sufficient or are his main sources of support come from on contributions from wealthy donors and family members (wife and father-in-law)--just like all kollel families?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a silly thing to say (although coming from someone who obsessively blogged against R. Slifkin for years, perhaps unsurprising). R. Slifkin runs a museum, which benefits society immensely. Like all cultural institutions, which charge a greatly reduced entry fee for schools, it is subsidized by people who recognize its value for the community, and who choose to support it. This is in complete contrast to people in kollel, who do nothing for society, but who demand support.

      Delete
    2. A museum "benefits society immensely" the same way a video game store benefits society immensely. It's 99% entertainment. Sure, there's some educational value, many video games have even more educational value. The Torah is חיינו ואורך ימינו, it's our covenant with Hashem, it's what brings us to Olam Haba, it's what makes us Jews. Needless to say, there's no comparison with an entertainment institution.

      But this is besides the point. Even if we would pretend that a museum, is l'havdil as important as Torah study, even if it helps us in understanding the Torah, it still has NOTHING to do with self-sufficiency. You could run the most important cultural institution in the world, but if your income comes from donations and not entrance fees, you are no more self-sufficient than any other charity case.

      Delete
    3. I'm glad to see that Unknown 1)believes museums and other cultural institutions do more for society than kollel and 2)undoubtedly supports kollel in America, where the vast majority of those in kollel (certainly in community kollelim) do not demand support from society.

      Delete
    4. Well, traditionally the best parnosah in Eretz Yisroel has been having a mossad as a way of doing well, by doing good. Its true today as ever before for non-profits religious and secular. Many can write their own checks. It's true for politicians and government institutions. They vote for themselves nice compensation. A museum is more useful then the histadrut today and is an umnus kala venekian. Good choice.

      Delete
    5. To "Unknown",
      I guess you are right. It is silly to expose Rabbi Slifkin for the fraud and the hypocrite he is. My bad. I should know better than to point out that all cultures have non-economic intangibles they value and invest money and resources in supporting.

      Delete
    6. Kornreich,

      The difference between 'hero' and 'villain' is not the chosen means and methods, nor is it the passion devoted to the cause. Rather the difference is in choice of cause.

      Rabbi Slifkin has devoted his energies to enlightening the public about Torah and Nature by running a non-profit organization. An non-profit has to run on a financially sound basis, regardless of the source of income. So far, he seems to be doing it. Personally, I would bet, he earns a salary and pays taxes.

      A yeshiva, however, is run to teach Torah, which in it's Charedi evolution, now actively prevents students from participating from acting in a financially sound manner.

      So we make a moral judgement call. Which is hero or villain? I think Rabbi Slifkin is a hero, not a villain.

      Delete
    7. "I should know better than to point out that all cultures have non-economic intangibles they value and invest money and resources in supporting."
      I'm not sure what you mean by "intangible", but a museum has a very clear benefit to society. How does kollel benefit society?

      Delete
    8. DK,
      It's a silly comparison. RNS is not advocating that all or even most male members of the community be employed by museums which are to be funded partially by donors, but mostly by taxpayers.

      And by the way, calling people "fraud" & "hypocrite" is not a nice thing to do.

      Delete
    9. Whether Rabbi Slifkin is a hero or a villain is besides the point. Obviously, chareidim think he's a villain and secularists think he's a hero. None of that makes him in any way self-sufficient. Any institution that relies on donations is not self-sufficient, any more than a guy in kollel being supported by his father-in-law.

      So instead of trying to obscure your agenda behind transparently false claptrap about "self-sufficiency", just say the real reason you don't like kollel.

      Delete
    10. To Ephraim:
      I don't think chareidi leaders are advocating that most male members of the entire State of Israel be supported in kollel. Despite the hysterical "ticking time bomb" doomsday talk you read on this blog, Chareidi males are not going to be the majority of Israel--ever.
      And my point is that Rabbi Slifkin-- and all the tens of thousands of people with careers in academia-- are doing the exact same thing as kollel families--relying on the majority of the population to support them for their cultural contribution to society. Be it through taxes, donations, or wealthy fathers'-in-law.
      My taxes go to the government to fund a great deal of educational institutions and cultural projects that I wish didn't exist. But that's just too bad, isn't it? Well, mass kollel is just one of those things you wish weren't funded by your taxes.
      The comparison is flawless.

      I wonder if you criticize Rabbi Slifkin every time he calls out Yanki Kanievsky and the heads of various tzedaka orgs. for beings frauds. Please don't be a hypocrite yourself.
      Of course it isn't nice. But sometimes the truth hurts.

      Delete
    11. There are a tiny number of people in academia - and they don't bring up their children to also be in academia, and unable to get any other proper job if academia doesn't work out!
      (Also, kollel is not an "educational institution or cultural project." It doesn't educate anyone beyond its own members.

      Delete
    12. Kornreich,

      Academia is a short-term stop on the way to more earning (and tax-paying) potential.
      Kollel is a one-way trip to poverty and relying on handouts from the government.

      Again - choice of cause. Hero or villain.

      Delete
    13. Kollel has a very clear benefit to a Torah observant society, by educating society about the Torah. We need more Torah education, not less. A museum, on the other hand, has less of a benefit, if any, to a Torah observant society.

      Obviously, kollel doesn't have such a clear benefit to a non-Torah observant society. So, yeah, if you already privilege the secular point of view, you can ask "What benefit does kollel provide to society?" But from a Torah observant point of view, the question is absurd.

      Delete
    14. You seem very confused about what kollel actually is. They do not educate society about the Torah. They are about learning, not teaching.

      Delete
    15. "and all the tens of thousands of people with careers in academia-- are doing the exact same thing as kollel families"

      Don't make up number, provide evidence. Isn't in the case, that those in academia actually teach in addition to their scholarly endeavors? So answer this: How many people in academia engage in scholarship alone? How many men are in kollel? Until you provide the figures, any comparison is spurious.

      Delete
    16. @Unknown, "[Kollels] are about learning, not teaching."

      How about modeling? That's a form of teaching.

      A prominent Torah educator was asked if a father should learn with his child or by himself. He answered that the child must see his father learning on his own. That's modeling. That Torah is life, not schooling.

      (I'm mentioning this only because of the point. Obviously there are a lot of variables in various situations. Another way to model is to work but also attend a Shiur or have a Chavrusa. But the specific model in question is only through Kollel.)

      Delete
    17. So-called "Unknown", kollel is about educating all of Torah observant society. Starting from the kollel members themselves to their families, children, friends, acquaintances, pupils should they become teachers, congregants should they become rabbis, litigants should they become dayanim, secularists should they go into kiruv. And those who don't get such positions help teach those that do. As well as generally raising the Torah literacy of the entire (Torah observant) society.

      The fact that your precious secularist society sees no value in Torah education is irrelevant, you can lead a horse to water but you can't force him to drink.

      Delete
    18. Ephraim:
      I don't see how teaching helps your position. Someone who only has a PhD in let's say, Ming Dynasty literature is spending all his time researching and publishing his insights about Ming dynasty literature in obscure academic journals.
      About him you agree that the parallel to kollel is apt? Is it because he is producing nothing of value to society at large? So why does a professor of Ming Dynasty literature who teaches the same arcane, obscure subject in a classroom produce anything different?

      And even if you somehow think teaching arcane academic subjects does make a difference to society, I can also testify that the parallel exists in kollel.
      The longer one stays in kollel, the more likely it will be that he will seek supplemental income as a tutor or part-time rebbe--which is teaching. And many start a business on ther side and actually provide goods or services! (Or go into safrus or kashrus, or work for one the big seforim publishers like Artscroll or Machon Yerushalayim).

      From what I see every day, very few kollel men above 35 are only in full-time learning and doing nothing else on the side to supplement their income.

      So the comparison is still totally apt.

      Delete
    19. Happy, kollel is about learning, shteiging in Nashim and Nezikin. It's not about training for the rabbinate or to be a dayan or a teacher. There are kollelim that do that, but that is not what most Kollelim are about. Haven't you yourself ever learned in a proper kollel?

      Delete
    20. So-called "Unknown", if you don't understand how shteiging in Nashim and Nezikin is necessary to prepare somebody for dayanus (or teaching), then your deficiency in Torah knowledge is too great for me to rectify. Your incredibly ignorant comment is a testament to why kollel learning is so important. As I said before, we need MORE Torah education, not more am ha'aratzus. Thanks for making my case for me!

      That said, if you wish to rectify this yawning deficiency in your Torah knowledge, there are plenty of options in Israel. There are plenty of learning programs available for baalei batim, even for, uh, famous rationalists who enjoy posting under various names. And these learning programs are unsurprisingly directed by people who spent long periods in kollel.

      Delete
    21. "So the comparison is still totally apt."

      How many people in academia engage in scholarship alone? How many men are in kollel? Until you provide the figures, any comparison is spurious.

      Delete
    22. Happy, you are conflating different things. The fact that Dayanim benefit from learning Nashim and Nezikin does not mean that Kollelim are training schools for Dayanim. What percentage of guys in kollel end up being dayanim?? Not even 1%.
      And regular positions in teaching or running education programs do NOT require years of learning Nashim and Nezikin. The reason why people in such position tend to have such years in kollel is not because it is required, but because people who have spent many years in kollel aren't qualified to do any other kind of work.

      Delete
    23. Rabbi Kornreich keeps ignoring the point that the world of academia does not teach that everyone, or even most people, or even a significant minority, should be in academia. The children of academics are not raised to become academics. But the world of kollel DOES teach that people should aim (and most end up this way) to be in kollel.

      Delete
    24. To "Unknown"
      That's a distinction without a difference as far as contributing to the economy is concerned. There will always be many tens of thousands in academia for the foreseeable future, as well as in kollel, and I am merely pointing out that both are relying on support from the public to do so.

      To Ephraim:
      I already explained why the numbers of those engaging in scholarship alone is irrelevant. Teaching arcane subjects to students is just as unproductive economically as pure scholarship. Even Rabbi Slifkin's kind of job of managing a museum does not contribute meaningfully to the economy. You never responded to this.
      (And many who are in kollel are not engaged in scholarship alone. So even according to you, it is still apples to apples.)

      Delete
    25. That was sneaky. You switched from "contribute to society" to "contribute to the economy." But if you want to use that terminology, in can be pointed out that museums sell a product - an educational service.

      The bottom line is that society is not harmed by a few academics or a few museums; it is enhanced by them. Just as it would be enhanced by a few kollels. But if academics and museum directors were raising numerous children to all be academics and museum directors, and to lack the desire or skills or education to do anything else, society would have a serious problem.

      Delete
    26. "Unknown", first you show your gross ignorance by saying that Nashim and Nezikin have nothing to do with dayanus. Then you try to save face by talking about "training schools" for dayanim. Oy vey. Then you say that in order to teach, there is no need to learn. Oy vey vey. Please, stop embarrassing yourself by talking about anything Torah related. Or go back to yeshiva. Or both.

      Delete
    27. On the "tens of thousands of academics":

      In a country of 330 million people, having a ten or fifty or ninety thousand people in academia might be OK - a drop in the bucket - on the order of 0.01%. In a country of 8.7 million Jews, having thousands in kollel is one or even 2 orders of magnitude higher, more like 0.1% or even 0.5. Please, others check my math or my numbers.

      And the other issues, mentioned by others in this thread:
      People in US academia have to publish or they're out. Those who sit and "study" with nothing produced get fired.

      People in academia might want their kids to be educated and have high degrees, but they do not insist (and in fact often prefer otherwise) that their kids follow in their footsteps. Academia is also not an exponentially growing field - it is as large as funding can support, and then there are no grants anymore and the next grad student has to go into industry.

      And to tie the two subthreads (academia and learning Nezikin without tachlis) back together:
      One thing that long-term academics do is teach. They may not be very good at it, but if they are spending their time studying the intricacies of the Ming Dynasty, then they better share their expertise with the next generation, even if it is "just" the Intro to Chinese History course. How many long term kollel members eventually do become teachers/ rabbanim/ dayanim/ sofrim/ mashgichim/etc.? If almost all do so, then wonderful. But we know they all do not do so.

      Delete
    28. Yes, people in academia publish things that almost nobody ever reads. This is the extent of their "contribution" to society. The entire thing is just a make-work program for the most part. That much is obvious.

      Many, many people in kollel become teachers/ rabbanim/ dayanim/ sofrim/ mashgichim/etc. And the ones who don't teach the ones who do, as well as teaching their children, families, and acquaintances, raising the level of Torah literacy in society. Which is extremely important.

      While I agree that there are probably too many kollel learners in Israel, too many kollel learners is better than too many secularists. And goodness knows that Israel has WAY too many of those! I have a good plan that probably nobody will ever agree to: For every five secular people who become chareidi, one chareidi will leave kollel and enter the workforce. This will continue until we have achieved equilibrium.

      Delete
    29. Kollel is also not exponentially growing, it too is limited by available funding, and we are starting to see in Israel those limits being approached. The complaints about kollel are a distraction from the main issue, which is that the secularists can't stand the fact that chareidim, who are the real Jews, don't recognize their secularist movement, their secular "Jewish" state, and their secular cultural achievements. It is the same issue that has been ongoing since the Haskala on the one hand and since the founding of the State of Israel on the other.

      Delete
    30. Kornreich,

      You are so funny. Your propaganda attempts to create the impression that Kollel men earn a proper living, or pay proper taxes or are in any way financially responsible made me laugh out loud. This sentence in particular was a good one "From what I see every day, very few kollel men above 35 are only in full-time learning and doing nothing else on the side to supplement their income."
      In other words, most kollel men are not earning a full salary, some are earning some money under the table, but not declaring it and not paying a full, regularly employed man's taxes.
      Or, in even other words, most kollel men take more from money from society than they give to it.
      What a kiddush Hashem that is.
      You really should be a professional spin doctor...

      But basically you confirmed my point that a tax-paying Museum Director is a 'hero' who educates the public, creates jobs and contributes to the economy. (Yes, donations are a legitimate source of income for a non-profit organization. They are a legitimate source of income for a yeshiva too. It's just that the end result of existing haredi kollelim is - as you confirmed - unskilled, non-earning tax dodgers. And thus, 'villainous'.

      All the best,

      Delete
    31. The end result of kollel is increased Torah literacy for the entire Torah observant population. Serious kollel members = true heroes. The end result of a museum is... mostly entertainment, maybe some educational value, maybe some vaguely defined "experiential" quality. Museum directors = not villains, but not the most useful members of society either. Maybe as useful as football players. And the jobs they "create" are similarly useless.

      But in any case, what do heroes and villains have to do with self-sufficiency? Even if the individual being discussed was a hero, he would not be self-sufficient. You can be the greatest hero in the world, but if you survive on donations, the term "self-sufficient" cannot be used to describe you. "Self-sufficiency" has to mean something, and it certainly does NOT mean "whoever I happen to think is a good person".

      Delete
    32. "And the jobs they "create" are similarly useless."

      And yet, much of the museum's clientele are Charedi.

      Delete
    33. "I already explained why the numbers of those engaging in scholarship alone is irrelevant."
      No, you haven't.
      You say the numbers are irrelevant, yet you write "tens of thousands of people with careers in academia".

      Delete
    34. "Kollel is also not exponentially growing"
      Innumeracy. The population in general is increasing exponentially. Even if the kollel proportion of the population remained stable at 1948 levels, it would be increasing exponentially.

      Then there are real statistics:
      " in 2018, there were 133,933 yeshiva and kollel students – up from 97,000 in 2014 – that is, an increase of 37%. Between 1999-2012, this number grew at an annual rate of 4%—coinciding with the rate of growth of the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel. However, in the past four years, the rate of growth in the number of students was much higher—30% - from 66,000 in 2014 to 86,000 in 2018."

      Delete
    35. happy

      lets be honest: how much jewish literacy do we really need?
      for 95% of the jewish population, a Jewish high-school plus a couple of years in yeshiva is more than adequate to live a halachic lifestyle
      the kollel-men who spend 10 years learning post high-school are not 'literate' they are waaayyyy over the sensible level for an educated halachic man.
      it would be better that they got on with living and helping produce a better society rather than focusing on increasingly obscure דיוקים

      And, i think the distinction you make between taking donations is to miss the point. The point (as ive made about 5 times so far on this thread) is - what is the outcome? educated and inspired financially responsible people or a generation of financially irresponsible people?

      Delete
    36. @Ephraim, helloooo, there was just an election, and the secularists are no longer interested in paying for kollel. So your statistics from 2014 to 2018 are irrelevant. Remember, this is a self inflicted problem on the part of the secularists. They could dismantle the welfare state tomorrow if they want, instead of incessantly complaining about something they have complete control over.

      @not a fan. To be honest, we need a heck of a lot more Jewish literacy than we have now. And the secularists on this blog just prove it time after time, over and over again. Kollel learners build Jewish society up, secularists destroy it, no matter how wealthy and "productive" they are. Wealth, power, and "productivity" are very small parts of what Hashem wants from us, if at all.

      Your point about the "outcome" makes no sense. The outcome of a museum is entertainment, very little education, and it certainly doesn't inspire people to be financially responsible.

      It is possible that chareidim aren't financially responsible enough, but that is infinitely better than the complete abandonment that secularists display towards the Torah, with their rampant chillul Shabbos, atheism, arayos, homosexuality, abortion, and every other transgression. And even those secularists who are ostensibly observant look approvingly upon those who abandon the Torah and identify strongly with them, thereby encouraging their lives of sin.

      Delete
    37. This is too funny. First, everyone who wasn't charedi is a "secularist", and now, everyone who isn't in kollel is a "secularist"!

      Delete
    38. Rabbi Slifkin, please don't put words in my mouth. I didn't say anyone who isn't in kollel is a secularist. If I said that, I would be painting myself as a secularist! Rather, I said that anybody who doesn't appreciate the immense positive value of kollel probably has secularist leanings. But I may have gone a little too far, after all, even many yeshiva bochurim don't appreciate the immense positive value of kollel! Torah education is an acquired taste.

      Delete
    39. "@Ephraim, helloooo, there was just an election, and the secularists are no longer interested in paying for kollel. So your statistics from 2014 to 2018 are irrelevant."

      The 2020 numbers also shows an increase in 4%.

      Well, hello to you too. They are relevant to your comment that "Kollel is also not exponentially growing".

      Now, it is true that less gov't funding should restrain kollel growth. And that means more Charedim working for a living, just like Charedim have always done for a hundred+ years.

      And by the way. It was the secularist Begin who removed the quotas which allowed the kollels to grow at the rate they did.


      Delete
    40. Ok, and the election was in 2021. Innumeracy indeed. The point is, they have hit a peak, and will start going down. And if they don't, whose fault is that? Who are the ones who have all the power, who have all the money? I am glad you acknowledge the truism that less funding restrains institutional growth. I hope you will be happy when chareidim work more. Although based on the secularist attitude towards American "chareidim", I highly doubt it.

      Delete
    41. "Ok, and the election was in 2021."
      Who said otherwise?
      "Innumeracy indeed."
      Getting a date wrong is not innumeracy. (And again, I never mentioned the date of the election.)

      "The point is, they have hit a peak, and will start going down."
      More innumeracy. If they hit a peak, then necessarily they've already started going down. Unless they have magically stagnated at zero change- which is highly improbable. In any case, beyond speculation, you haven't shown that kollel numbers are no longer rising exponentially.

      "the secularist attitude"
      What secularist attitude?


      " American "chareidim" "
      Why the quotation marks?

      Delete
    42. Ephraim, thinking 2021 comes before 2020 is innumeracy. It's not my job to show you that kollel attendance cannot increase exponentially forever, if you can't understand that, then perhaps you should get a better secular education. You can start by googling "logistic growth". But I will entertain your outlandish fantasy for one moment: Suppose you were right, and kollel attendance could magically increase forever and ever. Then what's the problem? What's the complaint? With magic, we can do anything!

      The entire complaint is based on a completely bogus fear that kollel is some sort of economic catastrophe for the secularists that they have no control over. The fear is completely bogus because secularists have total control over it, especially since last election (but even before that). You talk about "speculation", yet sit quivering in fear over an utterly unrealistic thing that will never come to pass!

      Delete
    43. "What secularist attitude?"

      I'm not sure if you are serious, but secularists are just as rabidly opposed to "chareidim" anywhere, whether they are in Bnei Brak or Boro Park, whether they are in Modiin or Monsey. Just look at the series of posts from that מכשפה doctor a few months ago. As I said above, kollel is just a distraction from the main issue, which is that the secularists can't stand that the chareidim/"chareidim" are so primitive and haven't submitted to secular culture and values nor recognized their secular "achievements". "Chareidim" is in quotes because chareidim is not the proper term for American Rabbinic Jews, it carries particular Israeli political connotations.

      Delete
    44. " thinking 2021 comes before 2020"
      Who thought that? You're makings things up.

      "It's not my job to show you that kollel attendance cannot increase exponentially forever"
      I didn't say forever. You're making things up. What you claimed was that kollel was not increasing exponentially and you didn't back it up. You made it up.

      "You can start by googling "logistic growth"
      No I can't. Because "logistic growth" is not a mathematical term. You made up that term.
      "The fear is completely bogus because secularists have total control over it, especially since last election (but even before that)."
      Before the election, kollel attendance was not growing exponentially? Do "secularists" have total control when non-secularists hold seats crucial to the coalition?

      " You talk about "speculation",
      because you're speculating.
      "yet sit quivering in fear"
      You're making this up.

      Delete
    45. Uh, if you would google "logistic growth", you would see that I didn't make up that term. Perhaps your supplementary education could include a class in "learning how to use Google".

      "Do "secularists" have total control when non-secularists hold seats crucial to the coalition?"

      If secularists really thought chareidim were such a great existential threat (as Rabbi Slifkin is fond of saying), they would get their ducks in a row instead of incessantly complaining without doing anything. Stop making excuses. If you don't have a coalition, make one. Now. Remember, (if we are to take your complaints seriously) the future of your entire wonderful secular "Jewish" state is at stake! Massive death and misery will result if you don't do this! Ball is in your court.

      Delete
    46. "Uh, if you would google "logistic growth", you would see that I didn't make up that term."

      Sorry, my mistake. Now go back and substantiate everything else you wrote.

      Delete
    47. "Now go back and substantiate everything else you wrote"

      If you are truly arguing in good faith, then I'm confident you know what my point is, even if I used imprecise language in some places.

      In any case, I looked at some the articles about the "hareidi existential threat to the State of Israel", and it's obvious that I'm right. This has very little to do with kollel support or RNS's cynical use of "self-sufficiency". For example

      https://jewishstandard.timesofisrael.com/haredim-the-real-existential-threat-to-israel/

      They consider it an "existential threat" that many chareidim don't know "Hatikva", that the science textbook that chareidim use includes phrases such as “When God saves a man’s body from something bad, the bones on which the body stands must thank Him.”, that chareidim are in charge of determining the "Jewishness" of potential immigrants.

      In summary, it's obvious that "existential threat" really just means a threat to the secular form of the Jewish State. It's a threat that Israel will become a chareidi theocracy (they compare it to Iran). And about that "existential threat" I am happy, and hope it will continue to grow! !כן ירבו

      Delete
  21. R’ Slifkin,

    I’m afraid it is far too charitable of you to suggest that “every other culture in the world” maintains that “self-sufficiency is important”.

    Say instead: every other successful or sustainable culture (I can think of several cultures whose aversion to hard, honest work and self-sufficiency has rendered them disgraceful failures).

    ReplyDelete
  22. It is surprising to me that nobody has called out the specious quote from Reb Chaim Volozhiner.
    Reb Chaim Volozhiner writes his opinion to negate another one, one that he believed was wrong.
    If we disagree with Reb Chaim Volozhiner, we accept the other opinion that he is discounting. What is that? The others believed that the purpose of learning Torah is a mystical method of drawing close to Hashem. With every word we learn, we are ‘conversing with Hashem’ and that is the purpose of our lives. Davening is another form of the same thing. We are not requesting things from Hashem, we are drawing closer to Him and we are practicing bitul to him. Learning is the same thing.
    Then came Reb Chaim Volozhiner and told us that this is not true. The Torah is its own purpose, we cleave to Torah and understand it, because it is of supreme importance on its own. Not as a means to get close to Hashem.
    Neither of these are acceptable to the modern academic, who cannot accept any other purpose of learning besides the immediate and practical. Reb Chaim Volozhiner is not addressing them, and modern ephemeral academic sensibilities are totally untraditional.

    ReplyDelete

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