Thursday, July 14, 2022

Who is Going Against the Mesorah?

Earlier this week, we heard Rav Gershon Ribner of Lakewood declaring that his hero Rav Elya Ber Wachtfogel hates any rabbi that has a touch of modernity or is involved with Zionist organizations, and will not work with them. And his explanation of that was that Rav Elya Ber is kol kulo mesorah.

A friend of mine made an excellent observation. Having such an attitude and approach is actually not a reflection of fidelity to the Lakewood mesorah. Rather, it's a total corruption of it. Rav Aharon Kotler may well have been an extremist in various ways and an anti-Zionist, but he didn't hate rabbis who took a different approach, and he certainly didn't refuse to work with them. 

There are two striking examples of this. One is Rav Kotler's reverence for Rabbi Dr. Yitzchak Herzog, first Chief Rabbi of Israel. To quote Marvin Schick's first-hand account of a Shabbos that he spent with Rav Aharon in Israel during which they learned that Rav Herzog had passed away:

"Rav Aharon spoke highly of Rav Herzog, adding that he hoped to be one of the maspidim. Rav Yaakov Schiff’s protest that Rav Herzog was a Mizrachist who had not opposed the draft of girls into military service was brushed off by Rav Aharon who noted that Rav Isser Zalman (his father-in-law - NS) had eulogized Rav Kook.... Rav Aharon also noted that Rav Herzog was a Talmid Chachom who had done much to assist Jews during the European Churban... Rav Aharon spoke at the cemetery in Sanhedria where Rav Herzog is buried. His eulogy was warm and contained much praise of Rav Herzog.”  

Then there is Rav Kotler's respect for Rav Soloveitchik. Rav Aharon obviously strongly disagreed with Rav Soloveitchik's approach, which included a lot more than a "touch" of modernity. Nevertheless, not only did not hate him or refuse to work with him, he actively reached out to him to work together on behalf of Chinuch Atzmai, and there was clearly immense mutual respect. Alas, this is not well known to those believing themselves to be continuing in Rav Kotler's path - in the book The Legacy of Maran Rav Aharon Kotler, a photograph of Rav Kotler sitting next to Rav Soloveitchik at a Chinuch Atzmai dinner has been carefully cropped to remove Rav Soloveitchik, even though Rav Soloveitchik was the guest of honor at the behest of Rav Aharon, who asked him to give the keynote address!

This sort of censorship is one of the ways in which the charedi community fools itself into thinking that it is kol kulo mesorah even as it goes against it. A few years ago I wrote a critique of Rabbi Avi Shafran's claim that charedim, unlike Centrist or Modern Orthodox, are practicing the "original" form of Judaism. In my response, I pointed out some of the significant ways in which charedi Judaism has deviated from traditional Judaism. This week, someone posted the following objection to my post:

"This is my first time seeing Slifkin's blog, and realize that I am 4 years late to the party for this post, but I feel I must respond to the absurdity of it. Slifkin, as well as many of the commentors here, seem to imply that Hareidism is a recent invention. While I don't think that anyone will dispute that certain cultural nuances have evolved over the years, as they are wont to do, anyone claiming that Haredi practice of Judaism in novel vis a vis the Modern Orthodox approach, is either plain ignorant or gaslighting. There exist many thousand of seforim that were published over the centuries, down from the rishonim, achronim including codifiers of halacha and responsa. The only segment of Jewry which aspires to follow these codifiers to their truest form are the Chareidim. That's what the many thousand of talimdei chachomim around the world do every day. I myself spend hours everyday on Otzar Hachochma, learning from these seforim directly. No one is "brainwashing" me or "rewriting" history..."

The tremendous irony here is that Otzar Hachochma has a special "Bnei Yeshivos" edition of their database which censors out all the many traditional sefarim which contradict the charedi worldview! And, of course, while the charedi community is punctilious in its observance of many halachos - generally those bein adam l'Makom - there are other very basic aspects and directives of the Torah and Chazal that they simply ignore or revise, whether it's Moshe Rabbeinu on the basic idea of sharing national responsibility, or Chazal's various statements about a man's obligations to his family, his children, and society. Meanwhile, this person continues:

"...Whether or not secular studies should be studied, there have definitely been those that have learned them and those opposed over the centuries, but other than R' Hirsh who by his own admission was an innovator, has there ever been an entire "shita" been made out of it to teach it to the masses as a means unto itself. So I see no reason why Haredim are radically changing tradition by eschewing secular studies in the Yeshivos."

Of course, Chazal had an entire "shita" that everyone should work for a living and raise their children to be economically self-sufficient, which charedim ignore, and many Sefardic rishonim had an entire "shita" that everyone should ideally know various "secular" fields of knowledge, which charedim just don't learn about.

It is extraordinary that so many people who fervently believe themselves and their leaders to be "kol kulo mesorah" have no idea of the extent to which they are corrupting and reforming it. 


If you'd like to subscribe to this blog via email, use the form on the right of the page, or send me an email and I will add you. 

112 comments:

  1. The only example of a "modern" rabbi provided in the quote is Slifkin.

    It is very telling that you conflate yourself, and your hashkafah, with the likes of Rabbi Yitzchak Herzog and Rabbi Soloveitchik, who were not singled out for opprobrium. Modern, when they were alive, had a very different meaning than it does today. All you do is co-opt the word as it was understood decades ago and inaccurately apply it to you and your ilk. Then, you can say, "When you criticize me, you criticize them too! Nyah nyah!!!"

    Notwithstanding all the other ways you have veered from the modern of old, today, abortion is clearly a great litmus test and as good a proxy as any for what passes as modern as today. We know Rabbi Soloveitchik's position on abortion. What was Rabbi Herzog's?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. (A) R. Ribner clearly refers to lots and lots of rabbis - including R. Shmuel Kamenetzky.
      (B) I was singled out for opprobrium precisely for quoting the views of Rav Herzog (who believed that Chazal's science was sometimes mistaken) and Rav Soloveitchik (who believed that Bereishit can be reconciled with evolution).

      Delete
    2. "Modern, when they were alive, had a very different meaning than it does today. "
      Please tell us what "modern" meant in 1959, and it's "very different meaning" today.


      "abortion is clearly a great litmus test"
      No it isn't. I doubt any issue could be. For example, it would be a rather poor litmus test if used to evaluate the ציץ אליעזר. And given R. Ribner's negative evaluation of RYBS, it would also be a poor litmus test evaluating the Rav.

      " and as good a proxy"
      Why do you need a proxy?

      Delete
    3. What do you mean by it today, Ephraim?

      Cohen Y left a useful history of recent anti-abortion efforts prior to and after Roe v. Wade, along with some colorful commentary on what I referred as the resort to "Talmudic Talking Points" by the lot of you. Among the bon mots:

      The centrist bloggers of the moment fan favorite: Tzitz Eliezer

      Nobody considered the Tzitz Eliezer to be a major posek. Even dati leumi considered him mid-level. Go ahead and deny it.

      And even he didn't allow abortion on demand as you guys imply eg Tay Sachs

      Though the previous is really irrelevant because if it wouldn't be him, you would find someone else

      Delete
    4. Shimshon, my man, I'm not sure what/who you mean by "nobody" but, as a doctor myself, I can assure you--based upon firsthand experience--that I and every other frum doctor I have ever encountered (i.e., the folks who actual deal with medical halachah as a matter of day-to-day practice) consider the Tzitz Eliezer to be one of the preeminent poskim of modern times on the topic on medical halachah.

      Delete
    5. I can't comment on things in Eretz Yisrael but as someone who spent over a decade in YU Batei Medrish, I can say that the Tzitz Eliezer was taken quite seriously.

      L'maaseh, at YU, we tended to follow our own poskim, such as Rav Schachter and Rav Willig over the Tzitz Eliezer, but that has nothing to do with gadlus - it simply is talmidim following their own rebbeim.

      Delete
    6. "Nobody considered the Tzitz Eliezer to be a major posek."
      You've lost the plot.

      You said " abortion is clearly a great litmus test and as good a proxy as any for what passes as modern as today." So I brought up REW, as an example of a posek whom the abortion issue can't be used as a litmus test. Your response was irrelevant and merely trolling.

      Delete
    7. "What do you mean by it today, Ephraim?"
      What you meant by "today" when you wrote "Modern, when they were alive, had a very different meaning than it does today. "
      We can't a decent conversation if you're going to ask ME what YOU meant.

      Delete
    8. Only a harryish guy with no shaychus would say such stupidity about the Tzitz Eliezer.

      Delete
    9. Shimshon - There is this misconception that "modern rabbis" in the past had less controversial views, and were more hashkafically charedi/yeshivish than modern rabbis today. Of course we cannot account for all rabbis in the past or rabbis today, but many gedolim from the past were in fact way out of sync with yeshiva hashkafa today, and often more than their students. I'll give a few examples. Charedim may think that R Kook was controversial because of his ZIonism, but if they were to read Orot, they'd realize that he is pushing the edges much more than that. If they studied him, they'd passul him even more! R Soloveitchick expressed much more "modern ideas" than R Hirschel Shachter does today. Hildesheimer Yeshiva would be considered way to the left of RIETS. Academic studying of Germara was fully embraced there. R DZ Hoffman was rosh yeshiva there and his shu't is a mainstay among the poskim. R YY Weinberg (Chevroners add the word "shelanu" - "ours" when his name comes up) most definitely tolerated more "modern" hashkafos than R Soloveitchik did.

      To your point, yes, we do lean on earlier rabbis. This is what we call mesorah. So yes, when you criticize me, you criticize them is a legitimate argument.

      As for your comment about abortion being the litmus test. I wouldn't say so. Many people (including RNS) have shown that Halachic views of abortion do not fit into the boxes of American politics. Practically, in Halachic terms, there are those who are more stringent, and those who are more lenient. And there are also those who will hold lechumra, but will also advise the questioner to ask another rabbi who is more meikil. There are many rabbis who can testify that major poskim who were machmir themselves, also advised to go to R Waldenberg. (this is a sugya in itself, and for R JD Bleich has a piece on this very concept in the intro of on of his books. for some reason, he refuses to acknowledge this in his op eds on abortion) Paskening lekulla on some abortion cases is only a litmus test by those politicizing Halacha.

      Delete
    10. I have a personal involvement in this issue that goes beyond what others have mentioned here. My wife was the subject of such a shaila, due to severe blood clots presenting at about 10 weeks, which is extremely unusual. We were in America, and the doctors there said my wife's life was not in any more danger carrying to term than not. The doctors in Israel, who we only consulted after the birth, on our return, because the clotting issue still needed medical review, basically said the doctors in America were idiots and her life was in greater danger pregnant than not, and should have aborted.

      Technically, the Jewish doctors in Israel were more correct. But that still doesn't make the doctors in America wrong. Had we been in Israel, an abortion would have happened. B"H we were in America, and wife and all my children are here. What constitutes pikuach nefesh is still an often opinion in these matters, even if technically accurate. There is no binary, except in carrying out a decision.

      Delete
  2. Rav' Slifkin respectfully I respect that you delete this thread or edit it as the comment " The only segment of Jewry which aspires to follow these codifiers to their truest form are the Chareidim." Disgusting as it is from a Halachik perspective never mind a mussar perspective is not worthy of being repeated even to show the nonsense of some peoples views... We know what some think about others without republishing their poison. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Leave the comment. דע מה להשיב

      Delete
    2. Do you realize what you are saying? You are asking to censor something so that people won't know what this person actually said. You are doing exactly what Natan is bemoaning.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous II: spot on.

      Anonymous I: what purpose would deleting/editing the thread/comment serve?

      Delete
    4. Anonymous III: exactly!

      Delete
    5. The Tannaim and Amoraim, the "Charedim" of their day, were a small fraction of the Jews then extant. Sure, they had the sympathy and general loyalty of the multitudes. But they were still "perushim" (and I am sure you know the meaning of the word).

      Throughout history, vast numbers of Jews barely kept connected to Am Yisrael, and often only because of compulsion by the goyim.

      How many Jews abandoned Judaism in Spain when the choice of leave or convert was presented to them?

      How about in the aftermath of false messiahs, and the loss of faith they suffered from after seeing their hopes dashed?

      What about the enlightenment and emancipation, when the multitudes could not abandon their heritage fast enough, once the compulsion of the goyim ended? Even Poland, which many people believe was a bastion of tradition before the war, was no such thing. Yes, there were many Jews who maintained their loyalty, but the assimilation rate was alarmingly high, already. The protagonist from The Pianist was more and more typical, not the faithful shtetl Jew.

      Bristle all you want. The use of the word "charedi" is perhaps not wholly accurate, but the sentiment is still true. We today (broadly applied, not just Charedim) are remnants of remants. Just because your great grandfather was frum, doesn't mean his faith was not as flimsy as a reed.

      I didn't grow up Charedi. I also didn't grow up observant in any way. I spent most of my observant life, decades, among Charedim in Israel. Now, I am in a dati leumi yishuv, one that says Hallel with a bracha on Yom Haaztmaut. As somewhat of an outsider, this is my perspective. The Charedim are far more successful in imparting their loyalty to the mesorah to the next generation free of the isms that are held in high esteem here, but which are hashkafically toxic. It doesn't matter what criticisms or complaints you lodge or observations you note (much of which comes from the media, not personal experience). They may even be technically accurate in some manner. But they still miss the forest for the trees.

      Delete
  3. Many years ago -early 1980s i think - I started quite the controversy at Yeshivat Hamivtar, where I taught, when I noted that the Haredim are more problematic than the Reform. The Reform are honest about wanting to re-form Judaism; one is free to agree or disagree, whereas the Haredim pretend to be the old time religion when they actually ignore, and often attack, the most basic ethics and norms of the tradition. I believe I have been proven right: the Haredi world view is now, more than ever, typified by hate, falsehood, a lack of any semblance of concern or respect for anyone not Haredi, and, especially in Israel, a grotesque selfishness. Their pretence that their ever more separatist and radical position has anything to do with normative Jewish values is laughable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a very interesting point, and one which I have considered in the following similar context:

      We frum folks often deride Reform (and/or unaffiliated) Jews for their vestigial attachment to "cultural Judaism" (think bagels & lox, and klezmer music) while ignoring actual Judaism (i.e., commitment to Torah, halachah).

      I would argue that the modern (lowercase "m") Chareidim display the same unseemly attachment to a "cultural Judaism" in preference to legitimate halachic Judaism: they insist upon their own modes of dress, speech, conduct, etc--which often have only the most tenuous basis in halachah--neglect of any which marks one as "not from their beis medrash".

      Whenever I hear them talk about being faithful to "the mesorah" (rather than faithful to, ya know, halachah) I can't help but think that what they are really saying is faithful to their particular brand of cultural Judaism.

      Delete
    2. Re: "mode of dress", I'm reminded of a certain (English) Artscroll halachah sefer which asserts that one must wear a suit jacket when davening.

      The mekor cited for this in the (Hebrew) footnote, however, is S"A, O"Ch 91:6, wherein the Mechaber (incidentally, quoting the Rambam verbatim: M"T, Hilchot Tefilah Uvirkat Kohanim 5:5) writes: "derech hachachamim v'talmideihem shelo yitpal'lu ela k'sheheim atufim".

      I suppose the meaning of "atufim" could be subject interpretation (though it seems fairly clear to me that it refer to "wrapping" oneself in a tallis), but I think it's fair to say that neither the 12th- nor the 16the-century codifier had "suit jackets" in mind...

      Delete
  4. One might say that today's Haredim have gone off the derech eretz.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pure hotza'as shem ra on an entire (vaguely defined) Jewish community. Is your community composed entirely of paragons of moral perfection?

      Delete
  5. I suppose only a cynic (and boy, am I a cynic) would point out that R' Kotler spoke for R' Herzog at the *cemetery* but not at the funeral itself, which was held at Heichal Shlomo, because the R' Velvel Soloveichik had declared an issur on entering that building, and for some reason R' Kotler felt more obligated to the demands of the Brisker Rav (with whom he, bear in mind, had many practical differences, e.g. voting in Israeli elections) than to R' Herzog, who clearly had no such issue.

    Somewhat related to that point about voting, a cynic might also suggest that R' Kotler saw in R' Soloveitchik a good tool to raise money for Chinuch Atzmai among less charedi populations. And of course the Rav was prevented from speaking at R' Kotler's funeral.

    Still, neither of those detracts from the real respect R' Kotler had for both R' Herzog and the Rav, which is the main point.

    It's quite ironic that R' Soloveitchik was edited out of that picture and Irving Bunim- who was as Modern Orthodox as they come, and even had his own sefarim censored for being too "modern"- was left in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That’s a great anecdote too. From Marvin Schick: There was, however, a hitch. The levaya was to be at Heichal Shlomo on King George Street, the seat of the Chief Rabbinate that had opened about a year before. The Brisker Rav had proscribed entering the building because Rabbi Yehuda Leib Maimon, a key Mizrachi leader, had suggested that it become the seat of a new “Sanhedrin” that would examine and, when necessary, restate the halacha in light of the establishment of the State of Israel.

      Rav Schiff argued that it would be inappropriate for Rav Aharon to enter Heichal Shlomo in defiance of the Brisker Rav’s edict, which he would be required to do if he did speak. He then suggested, “Der Brisker Rav is der Rav fun der shtadt. Der Rosh Yeshiva zol fregen der Brisker Rav.” (The Brisker Rav is the rabbinic authority in Jerusalem. The Rosh Yeshiva should ask him whether it is appropriate to speak from Heichal Shlomo.) Rav Aharon did not take kindly to this suggestion. I will omit certain details, except to note that Rav Aharon exclaimed in anger, “Ich ken alain paskanim a shailah.” (I am competent to decide an halachic issue.)

      Yet, at the end of the day, Rav Schiff’s words had an impact and Rav Aharon decided not to speak at Heichal Shlomo.

      Delete
    2. "The Brisker Rav is the rabbinic authority in Jerusalem."

      That's news to me . . .

      Delete
    3. Fascinating.

      Delete
    4. ""The Brisker Rav is the rabbinic authority in Jerusalem."

      That's news to me . . ."

      It's news to the Briskers too.

      Delete
    5. Weaver, RE Schlezinger from London writes how the BR was offered the J'm EC rabbinate, the BR asked him (RES) to have the offer confirmed by his (RES's) grandfather Moreinu Rosenheim, later the Ksav Rabbanus was brought to the BR's house and placed before him but he responded nether in affirmation nor in rejection.... Read RES's published memoirs for the details. Or if you don't have access to them see if Paul Harvey has the rest of the story. ;)

      Alternatively, there's something called Gadol Ha'ir.

      Delete
    6. Interesting anecdote - I'm actually surprised the BR didn't reject the KR out of hand, though it would have been strange to have anti-State of Israel chief rabbi of Jerusalem.

      In any case, no one made the BR the posek of J'lem, especially among those who didn't share his extreme anti-State views, which were too extreme even for the Chazon Ish, to say nothing of figures like Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer, who had a much more tolerant view.

      Delete
    7. Weaver, 1- EC stands for Eida Chareidis. For RAK, that was arguably more relevant than CR. 2- The episode occurred in '59, 5 or 6 years after the passing of CI & REZM. Their followers stayed with them after their passing, but would also consult the BR. Aguda did so regularly & he counseled them, although he refused to join.

      Delete
    8. RES' memoirs are not to be believed for anything. Fabrication is the name of the game.
      When I saw how Benjamin Brown took his works seriously, it told me something about Brown's knowledge of our Charedi world.
      Nobody who knows RES believes any of his stories.

      Delete
    9. @ Anonymous There is no doubt the BR was a prominent figure, but my point is, RAK, nor anyone else outside his camp, was obligated to follow his opinions. There were other gedolim ba'ir.

      Delete
    10. "but my point is, RAK ... was[n't] obligated to follow his opinions." (paraphrasing)

      Certainly. RAK said so to RYS immediately. The question is what was RYS thinking.

      "There is no doubt the BR was a prominent figure, but ... there were other gedolim ba'ir." (paraphrasing)

      I'm not sure who was living then, but in RAK's world--RYS was talking to him--the BR was THE preeminent figure, not only ba'ir but even ba'aretz. RYS is permitted to talk to RAK in RAK's terms.

      This we know even without reading all the superlatives RAK used on the BR in his famed macha'ah for the BR's honor. (MRA vol. IV)

      Delete
    11. "Nobody who knows RES believes any of his stories."

      You'd have to tweak that for it to have a chance of it being true. He follows the Satmar-Brisk perspective, so everyone else, including other Chareidim, will *interpret the *applications of his stories different than he.

      But back to the *stories, I know him a bit, (maybe less than you). His students know him more than a bit. Were the 'everybody' who know him & don't believes any of his stories around (= alive) 60 / 70 years ago when they allegedly occurred and know that they didn't happen? Do they know that he fabricated the episode with his grandfather and the BR being offered the EC rabbinate? Could they?

      Delete
    12. Anon 8:10 - The claim that RES' stories are inaccurate is herd primarily in Brisk and the Chazon Ish's talmidim. Yerushalmi Kano'im will tell you this too. There is clear proof of fabricated stories, where people who couldn't have met had discussions and arguments and meetings took place at times and between impossible people.
      There is a thread on אוצר החכמה about the book קטוביץ עד ה' אייר, where this matter is discussed.

      IDK about the BR being offered the Rabbinate, but his חזקת כשרות is not very high.

      Delete
    13. Anon July 17 5:03 - I don't know if you sent me on a goose chase, (an interesting one, BTW) about מקטוביץ עד ה אייר. I'm talking about RES's thin book הדור והתקופה or something like that, mainly divided into 4 chapters of his personal interactions with RYZD, RZRB, the BR, & the CI. Are we on the same page, I mean, in the same book? ;)

      Delete
    14. Anon 8:17 - much of the debunked stories in מקטוביץ עד ה' אייר are stories that come from the הדור והתקופה.
      His 'personal interactions' often happened with two eyes in the room, and they were probably closed. This is not something that is said in Mizrachi or Aguda circles, this is said in Brisker circles. This is no secret at all in the Charedi world (recently, a great ירידת הדורות has occurred and most yungeleit/bochurim under the age of 35 stopped reading the kinds of literature I read when I was a bochur. That is why when they come across such books, they do not have the background to debunk it. Especially in chutz la'aretz. Ask someone over that age).

      Satmar believes his books, because it gives them the 'backing' they desperately crave. But Satmar and Brisk are nowhere near the same thing.

      Delete
  6. I think maybe people should realize that there is no iron-clad, stationary and absolute mesora. Customs and observance have always changed from generation to generation, within each generation, and as well as within different geographies and streams of jews.
    To the right, to the left; both in response to modernity.
    That's our real mesora, and it's probably quite natural and healthy as long as everyone realizes that all the whole truth is not on their own side exclusively.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Well actually Historical Negationism is a genuine tradition of Orthodox Judaism. Chazal did it to Tanach with Medrashim which became accepted as fact (e.g. the Bracha that we make on 300ft Og's "stone" O.C. 218:1), Rashba did it to Chazal when he said Chazal didn't really mean as fact what they wrote in Midrashim. Maharal did it when he said they did but with some profound additional message. Acharonim did it when they say Kabala has always been around and that Rambam didn't really believe what he wrote in Moreh Nevuchim and Charedim do it when they said there's never been any other opinion... So you see it really IS mesorah!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is (distressingly) true.

      Delete
    2. Are you actually in NZ? On what day do you keep Shabbos? (I think it must be dark by now on a winter Sunday night there, so I'm not machshil you with this question.)

      Delete
  8. "Love Thy Neighbor", is that modern? When we are a unified People, we are at our strongest... the Hareidi community has not helped this situation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Correct! separating yourself and your community from the rest of the Am means you are not part of the klal. Its the Shtetl mindset that has no place in Modern times.

      Delete
    2. ! Some nuance pleaseJuly 15, 2022 at 7:51 PM

      הלכות דעות פרק ו

      א דרך ברייתו של אדם--להיות נמשך בדעותיו ובמעשיו אחר ריעיו וחבריו, ונוהג במנהג אנשי מדינתו. לפיכך צריך אדם להתחבר לצדיקים ולישב אצל החכמים תמיד, כדי שילמוד ממעשיהם; ויתרחק מן הרשעים ההולכים בחושך, כדי שלא ילמוד ממעשיהם. הוא ששלמה אומר, "הולך את חכמים, יחכם; ורועה כסילים, ירוע" (משלי יג,כ). ואומר, "אשרי האיש . . ." (תהילים א,א).

      ב וכן אם היה במדינה שמנהגותיה רעים, ואין אנשיה הולכים בדרך ישרה--ילך למקום שאנשיו צדיקים, ונוהגים בדרך טובים. ואם היו כל המדינות שהוא יודען ושומע שמועתן נוהגים בדרך לא טובה, כמו זמננו זה, או שאינו יכול לילך למדינה שמנהגותיה טובים, מפני הגייסות או מפני החולי--יישב לבדו יחידי, כעניין שנאמר "יישב בדד ויידום" (איכה ג,כח). ואם היו רעים וחטאים, שאין מניחין אותו לישב במדינה אלא אם כן נתערב עימהן ונוהג במנהגן הרע--ייצא למערות ולחווחים ולמדברות ואל ינהיג עצמו בדרך חטאים, כעניין שנאמר "מי ייתנני במדבר . . ." (ירמיהו ט,א).

      Delete
    3. ! Some nuance pleaseJuly 15, 2022 at 7:53 PM

      "Its the Shtetl mindset that has no place in Modern times."

      Correct--it only had a place in Rambam's times ...!

      Delete
  9. The sad thing to me is my anecdotal experience is that many who identify themselves with MO believe that charedim, unlike Centrist or Modern Orthodox, are practicing the "original" form of Judaism (or that they themselves are living a life of compromised religious ideals)
    KT

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Truer word were never spoken.

      The Charedi-lite tendency to lionize and fetishize the worst elements of Chareidism (particularly its rejection of the halachic imperative to teach one's children a trade and work to support one's family) is a real problem:

      Because while the Charedi-lite fathers typically work (while wearing the requisite black hats and suits on shabbos), they are persuaded to send their children (and contribute financially) to "mosdos" that

      A) Offer inadequate secular studies, and
      B) Indoctrinate them to believe that full-time Torah study is the only worthwhile pursuit anyways.

      And then the (working) Charedi-lite fathers are somehow surprised when their sons turn out woefully unprepared for reality and expect their parents to support them.

      I have discussed this phenomenon with friends of mine who daven at the local "black-hat" shul (and send their kids to the affiliated school), and they readily admit that, other than kollel guys, most of the shul is "functionally Modern Orthodox" (as they put it), but they are attracted to the "heimish", yeshivish atmosphere, which they are led to believe is more "authentic". I fear they will be in a for a rude awakening as their children grow up.

      Delete
    2. Once we are lionizing(?) Marvin Schick, we can read how he addressed this.
      http://mschick.blogspot.com/1999/06/despite-hardships-orthodox-schools.html.
      Discuss this too with your friends in shul.

      Delete
  10. I do feel that the underlying essence in the comment is true: I myself do not agree with Chareidim on many issues, and they do rewrite history, but I do think that Chareidim do take their Judaism far more seriously than the Modern Orthodox do. That is why i raise my children in the Chareidi milieu despite disagreeing with them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am curious to know what you think re: my reply to "joel rich" above.

      Delete
    2. Your reply to "joel rich" is basically confirmatory. That many Charedim are only culturally so but actually modern in many ways doesn't detract from the fact that those who do take Judaism the most seriously are still...Charedim. I've seen this too. Where I lived was not so modern either.

      Delete
    3. "Confirmatory" of what?

      The people I'm referring to as "Chareidi-lite" are working people (often ba'alei teshuvah who were "mekarev'd" by the local kollel) who reaped the benefit of secular/higher education in their (pre-frum) youth--which is why my friend considers them "functionally Modern Orthodox"--who have since been led to believe that the yeshivish "derech" exemplified by their kollel rebbeim is the only authentic/legitimate derech in frumkeit.

      So while their own "Chareidism" is largely aspirational, their children, raised in a Chareidi milieu and taught that full-time Torah study is the worthwhile pursuit, will likely not enjoy the same benefits of secular society and and will be far less equipped to support themselves.

      Delete
    4. Just Curious, if the non-Charedim are attracted to be part of the "heimish" (ie Charedi) atmosphere and milieu of a "black hat" shul, that is confirmatory that people who are not Charedi see it as more authentic. The rude awakening is not inevitable except in your mind. Maybe, maybe not. The social rhythm and pace and fabric is more genuine. That they participate but don't really accept it would be the likely source of any rude awakening, were they to occur, but are not inherent shortcomings in the lifestyle itself.

      Delete
    5. The problem is, while ignorant people may "see" it as more authentic, that is patently false (and the "black hat" folks certainly do nothing to disabuse them of that notion, likely b/c they believe it themselves).

      Ignoring the unambiguous halachic imperative to work for a living (and teach one's children to do the same) is no more a part of authentic Judaism than black hats and black suits are.

      So while ignorant people may be attracted to the perceived authenticity of the "performative" aspects of Chareidism (the "levush", the "shprach", etc.), the rude awakening will come when their children (again, indoctrinated by their Chareidi mosdos/mechanchim/rebbeim to believe that full-time Torah study is the only worthwhile pursuit) find themselves ill-equipped to earn a living and come begging to tatty and mommy for hand-outs.

      Delete
    6. Now, you'd probably say, "if folks are attracted to the Chareidi 'heimishkeit' and want to believe it's more authentic, what's the harm?" And I'll answer you that the potential harm is very real, and this not just a theoretical concern:

      I vividly remember being a talmid in my Orthodox day school and being told by our "black-hat" rebbeim (this being the '80s-'90s, before the hyper-fragmentation of American Orthodoxy, the school was stam "big tent" Orthodox but most of the mechanchim were black-hat folks) that everyone should ideally do nothing but learn Torah. I was the only kid to raise my hand and ask "um, if everyone's learning Torah all the time, who's going to pay the bills?"

      Several of my friends, however, were taken in by the Chareidi ideology, "flipped out" (as we said when I young), and now depend on their parents to support them while they learn in kollel (the parents are not wealthy people, incidentally).

      This problem has only been compounded by the "kiruv boom" of the '90s, when large numbers of Jews ignorant of tradition were recruited into the "black-hat" lifestyle/mindset, poured money into institutions that now perpetuate that mindset, but leave the rank-and-file unable afford the lifestyle and without the skills to make a decent honest living.

      Put more succinctly: I guess Chareidism is fine if your parents are rich (and don't mind paying your bills).

      Delete
  11. A Thinking TalmidJuly 14, 2022 at 4:59 PM

    I largely, but not entirely agree with Rabbi Slifkin's critique as expressed in this post.

    I think that Torah Judaism has always been multifaceted and that Chachmei Yisroel have taken different stances on many issues. I would not go as far as to say that Chareidi Judaism is an innovation, although some of its assertions are novel.

    Nonetheless, correct me if I am wrong, but I thought that in a newer edition of The Legacy of Maran Rav Aharon Kotler, an appendix was added which discussed Rav Aharon's relationship with and respect for the Rav, and included the entire picture.

    Additionally, it is worth noting that The Legacy of Maran Rav Aharon Kotler says that Rav Aharon respected and gave a hesped for Rav Herzog.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Your example of cropping the photograph is one of many times that Hareidi censorial intentionally misleads the public. Not showing photos of work is a great way to distort how hareidi women dressed 50 or more years ago almost none covered all their hair, collarbones were visible.. in short, the current standards are new and not based on actual halacha.
    An example of outright lying in the hareidi media was the cover article Mishpaha magazine ran about Jeff Ifrah. They write that he went to the Mesivta in Toronto for high school, when, in fact, he attended theBnei Akiva yeshiva high school, Or Chaim. These lies are meant to make sure no one among their readers think that anyone so learned and full of Hessed could come out of a school that isn't Hareidi

    Hareidism is adistortion of Torah and halacha. Their "learning all day" never includes such nonsense as Tanach or Mishna, never mind a variety of poskim. Just Gemara all day, detached from life and with no historical perspective.
    It is very tragic that hundreds of thousands of people are willing to accept a leadership that keeps them ignorant, socially secluded and financially dependent. The only thing it accomplished is giving their askanim and politicians power that on one should have over others.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Not showing photos of work is a great way to distort how hareidi women dressed 50 or more years ago almost none covered all their hair, collarbones were visible."

      So? Are you proud of this? Covering hair wasn't normative halacha even then? Perhaps Charedim were more ignorant then, but became less so since then.

      "Hareidism is adistortion of Torah and halacha. Their "learning all day" never includes such nonsense as Tanach or Mishna, never mind a variety of poskim. Just Gemara all day, detached from life and with no historical perspective."

      Do you see this personally, or come to this understanding from partaking of the media? Or, perhaps, you conclude this on your own because of personal bias?

      "It is very tragic that hundreds of thousands of people are willing to accept a leadership that keeps them ignorant, socially secluded and financially dependent."

      Maybe they are not as "ignorant, socially secluded, and financially dependent" as you think? They are certainly happier than you and your sour grapes.

      Delete
    2. Mishpacha is a Hared-lite/Chardal publication, not a Charedi one at all.

      Delete
  13. Maybe a side point but the Rav came to R. Aron Kutler's funeral with a prepared hesped. He was rather upset that they didn't allow him to deliver it.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Shimshon, I deleted your very very very long comment about evolution, because (A) it was off-topic, and (B) you were conflating completely irrelevant aspects of evolutionary mechanisms with common ancestry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whatever. Thanks for letting me know. I know it's nothing personal. It was not me, but the quote I excerpted. I conflated nothing. If anyone did, it was the experts quoted in the article I mentioned. But off topic is off topic.

      Delete
  15. I always said that Charedim were half baked Jews. Only focusing on the Bein Adam L'makom aspect and forgetting that there are three parts to being a Jew. Am Yisrael, Torat Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael. For Charedim its only Toras Yisrael that matters. The other two are irrelevant unless we are referring to charedi Am yisrael.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i am pretty sure that on the local as well as the international level that there are numerous charedim and numerous charedi organizations that spend much time, effort as well as money on many projects and endeavors that are very specifically Bein Adam L'Adam, not limited to only charedi Am yisrael. im not sure where you get your "For Charedim its only Toras Yisrael that matters".

      Delete
  16. This post is truly funny. Pr. Slifkin makes RAK out, for nothing more than working a few times with people he disagreed with, to be a paragon of broadmindedness and tolerance. Of course Pr. Slifkin himself doesn't even believe that, but thinks it makes for a useful contrast for his bete noire of the week, REB Wachtofgel. So what has he accomplished? He tries to marginalize a single individual Rabbi, at the price of admitting that R. Aaron Kotler and Lakewood - the single biggest constituency of the American yeshiva culture, and - are high examples of civic discourse.

    OK, Professor. We got it. REB bad, Lakewood good. Noted.

    GP

    ReplyDelete
  17. Every time this blog mentions 'Mesorah' the same misunderstanding is displayed.
    Mesorah is not something that can be written down or codified. It is the conceptual underpinnings of the Hashkafah, the basis on which practical decisions are made, especially wrt leadership issues. When Slifkin finds a statement in a Sefer from 600 years ago, claiming that Sefer is also a part of the Mesorah, he is showing how little he understands of the concept. Skipping generations is the hallmark of those who ignore Mesorah.

    Reb Aaron Kotler was and was not the fanatic that his successors would like to make him out to be. He was a strong believer in his opinions and he was extremely distressed that Reb Chaim's grandson had veered so far from his roots (nobody who has studied Reb Chaim's life can pretend that RYBS was a successor of his, in any way), and he really believed that RYBS' difference of opinion with him was not אלו ואלו, rather completely wrong. Incidentally, he thought the same of the Satmar Rav's position.
    However, he was also a great pragmatist, and he knew how detrimental machlokes would be to the nascent Charedi community in America and Eretz Yisroel. He also knew that pushing RYBS out of the fold would help nobody, and if they could cooperate on matters on which they agreed, the schism would not be as large.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. " It is the conceptual underpinnings of the Hashkafah, the basis on which practical decisions are made, especially wrt leadership issues."
      This is ambiguous. What hashkafah?

      "Skipping generations is the hallmark of those who ignore Mesorah."
      No it isn't. The hallmark of those ignore Mesorah is ignoring Mesorah.

      " that Reb Chaim's grandson had veered so far from his roots"
      Now, you're skipping generations. You've skipped the בית הלוי who unlike his son R' Chaim had Zionist tendencies. You've skipped the נצי"ב whose relationship with Haskalah and Zionism was not entirely negative. The Rav in his shiurim was a quintessential Brisker.
      And let's not forget that R' Chaim was a major בעל חסד, the legacy of which is best inherited by Rav Ahron's sons Yosef and Chaim.

      "nobody who has studied Reb Chaim's life can pretend that RYBS was a successor of his, in any way"
      Have you learned רשימות שיעורים?

      Delete
    2. By skipping Reb Chaim and going straight to the Beis Halevi, you are skipping a generation. That is not a Mesorah, that is picking and choosing. Reb Chaim, by all measures, was an extremely fierce opponent of modernity. He believed the Aguda to be a vehicle of בילדונג and that is why he left them. RYBS was no successor of his in that.
      The 'quintessential Brisker' that you are quoting started after Reb Chaim. If someone understands and appreciates the difference between the Brisker Rav and Reb Chaim in learning, he will see that RYBS was closer to his uncle than his grandfather.
      None of this was what bothered Reb Aaron. Reb Aaron was upset that Reb Chaim's grandson refused to represent the uncompromising wing of Judaism like his grandfather.

      I don't know the sons of Reb Aaron, neither do I know who Reb Aaron was/is. But Reb Chaim's chessed, as it has been described, was not copied by anyone. His house was like a train station, with people coming and going all day. One corner of the house, the shtender where he davened, was Reb Chaim's. The rest was simply hefker. I hardly believe anyone lives like that nowadays. RYBS certainly didn't.

      Delete
    3. Your demand that I describe the Hashkafa is exactly what I explained.
      Everyone has a mindset behind his opinions and lifestyle. That mindset is called a Hashkafa. It cannot be codified, it is an abstract intellectual matter, not a concrete set of instructions.
      That Hashkafa has barely changed wrt Charedim. We keep up, or try to keep up, the Torah as it was practiced for generations, with no allowances for modern day Hashkafos, as set up by the Western world.

      Delete
    4. " RYBS was no successor of his in that."
      "nobody... can pretend that RYBS was a successor of his, in any way"
      You're being inconsistent.

      "The 'quintessential Brisker' that you are quoting started after Reb Chaim."
      R' Chaim wasn't a Brisker?

      If someone understands and appreciates the difference between the Brisker Rav and Reb Chaim in learning, he will see that RYBS was closer to his uncle than his grandfather."

      I'm not interested in your חילוקים between Briskers. Leave me out of your petty distinctions. R' Chaim was Brisk and so were R' Moshe, R Velvel, R' MD, R' Ahron , etc etc. Nuances aside, RYBS was a Brisker and learned by his grandfather and frequently cited him. You wrote "nobody... can pretend that RYBS was a successor of his, in any way". Subtle differences, assuming they exist, does not mean not "in any way".

      "I don't know the sons of Reb Aaron, neither do I know who Reb Aaron was/is. But Reb Chaim's chessed, as it has been described, was not copied by anyone."
      If you don't know the sons of R' Ahron, how do you know R' Chaim's חסד was not copied by anyone? I obviously don't mean a carbon copy, but something between זין איקונין and פני לבנה.

      To summarize: The Rav's roots were not just from one ancestor. He had his parents, four grandparents. There was also R' Chaim Heller. And why not mention two very different uncles- Rav Velvel and Rav Menachem Krakowski (who gave philosophy "lessons" to R' Chaim)? It's silly to have expected the Rav to be exactly like R' Chaim (who was no copy of the בית הלוי) when he had so many other גדולים to emulate as well.

      Delete
    5. Ephraim - you are all over the place. What you call 'petty distinctions' is the entire premise of Brisk. The average Chossid has no clue what the difference between Brisk and Reb Shimon Shkop is. Yet in Brisk they will laugh at the idea of any comparison.

      Your bringing of Reb Chaim Heller into the discussion is precisely my point. Reb Aaron was upset when he realized that RYBS was not the Brisker einikel he thought he would be. That's all. This is not an indictment of either of them, just a reason for Reb Aaron's sometimes sharp expressions.

      Delete

    6. "Ephraim - you are all over the place."
      What place do you want me to be?
      You wrote:
      "that Reb Chaim's grandson had veered so far from his roots"
      I have demonstrated this as false. The Rav's roots were not just Rav Chaim.

      "What you call 'petty distinctions' is the entire premise of Brisk. "
      In other words, "petty distinctions". You comments about Rav Chaim not being Brisk enough is a little obsessive.

      "Reb Aaron was upset when he realized that RYBS was not the Brisker einikel he thought he would be."
      Why should he? He had parents, he had another grandfather. And Rav Chaim was a copy of the בית הלוי?

      You started this with your claims about Mesorah. But you ignore the mesorah the Rav received from his father, his other grandfather, his great-grandfather, his uncle, his mother and his "rebbi" Rav Chaim Heller. To expect the Rav to have been a copy of his grandfather (who was one of the most original & innovative (i.e. non-mesorah) rabbis of generations) is to expect him to ignore all other aspects of his Mesorah.

      "... is precisely my point. Reb Aaron.. "
      Not true. R' Ahron was not your point, you brought him to illustrate your point. Your point was about mesorah. And I've shown you that Rav Chaim was not the only source of mesorah for the Rav.

      Delete
  18. When people say that Charedim are the closest to the Mesorah among Klal Yisroel, especially when MO people say it, they are based on something.

    Yes, Otzar Hachachma has a censored version of its software. But that mostly censored out history books, later academic talmud books and similar. Not Halachic responsa. They show us a picture of life throughout the ages, and there is nothing for the MO to hang their hats on.
    When we read about the early years of the emancipation in real time, we see a picture of pre-emancipation Europe, and how those who remained with their fealty to the Torah intact reacted. Yes, there were those outliers that tried to make their peace with the emancipation, such as Maharitz Chayus, Shir, and others. But the vast majority of those who were considered all over as the spiritual leaders of Klal Yisroel did not think so. The Chasam Sofer's reputation predates the emancipation, and he, and his Talmidim. did not accept this new rush to modernity (Yes, I know the story with the Maharam Shik and the Biur. Read about the rest of the Maharam Shik's life, in his letters and Teshuvos, and you might have a larger picture). The overwhelming majority of religious leaders rejected modernity, outliers notwithstanding.
    Those that continue with this lifestyle today are the Charedim. Yes, not going to work is an innovation, but not a substantive one. The basic idea behind Charedim's lives is that we judge ourselves only by the Torah and its ideals and morals. Those that incorporated modernity into their lives and Judaism judge matters and people based on other criteria too. They also believe in democracy, freedom, equality, and the Western form of manners. Let them show us where and in history we broke down barriers between us and the outside world and followed their morals. We didn't, or hardly did. Only some outliers did, leaving the vast majority of us inside.
    That is why the Charedim are the flag bearers of the Mesorah.

    Now, as the community gets larger, small problems become bigger, and they are magnified when people place them under a magnifying glass. Those problems need repairing, but the idea that an entire thousand year edifice is wrong because of some problems that cropped up is just ridiculous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Much of what you say is correct, but in certain hashkafic questions the consensus of the sages has changed over the years. For example - how do we view Aggadah? There was once a very wide-spread view (k'nirah practically universal among the Geonim and early Rishonim) that it is not binding as Torah M'Sinai. Then the consensus shifted sharply the other way (Maharal or maybe Abarbanel, and on) that it would be terribly mistaken and perhaps kefirah to assert otherwise. What is the mesorah in that case? To me it seems ludicrous to call the Maharal's view The Mesorah (as the average Lakewooder would) when it was clearly *not* handed down, since it skipped so many generations. In that kind of area I would say the Charedim are most definitely *not* the flag bearers of the mesorah (although the MO aren't really either).

      Delete
    2. So many questions one demands answers from makes one a skeptic, not an honest questioner. And the desire to label others as deficient because of a conclusion you make on your own, gives away the motive, hatemonger. You can't really pick apart "the mesorah" that way, as others more expert than me have pointed out.

      An even better question could be asked of the Zohar. When I discovered the the very odd tale of its origin, I was curious, and asked my rav at the time about it, around 15 years ago. He was taken aback by the question, as he didn't really have an answer, but said that if the Zohar were rejected, that would impact something like 85% of halachos (his number, not mine). My question was honest, and I accepted my rav's lack ability to answer to my satisfaction. It did not affect my relationship to my faith to not know. Nor did I desire to aggrandize myself at anyone else's expense.

      As it happens, one group does completely ignore the Zohar, at least vis a vis tefilla, where its impact is quite widespread throughout the siddur, among Sephardim and Ashkenazim. That would be the Yekkes.

      Delete
    3. Dave, I don't completely disagree with you, I would nitpick this point:

      "There was once a very wide-spread view (k'nirah practically universal among the Geonim and early Rishonim) that it is not binding as Torah M'Sinai."

      This is a vague statement. Are all halachos binding as Torah M'Sinai? Every d'Rabanan? Every halacha learned from drashos? Purim? Chanuka? Of course I'm sure you know all the literature on this.

      But with regard to aggados: 1. The Talmud itself takes them very seriously and bring aggados l'halacha in countless places. 2. The Rishonim also took them seriously and learned many, many halachos from them. Not as seriously as actual halachic gemaras, but still. The number of times they say אין משיבין מן האגדות is dwarfed by the number of times they actually bring aggada l'halacha. See מדבר קדמות of the Chida, I believe ערך אין למדין מן המדרש

      Delete
    4. Happy,
      I guess you admitted that it's a nitpick, but in any case it doesn't answer my question whatsoever.
      Regarding the nitpick itself, I deliberately didn't say the consensus was to ignore Aggadah but merely to say that it's not Torah M'Sinai (which of course leaves a giant range for defining its precise rank; this probably depended on the particular Gaon and Rishon in question - e.g., R' Shmuel ben Chofni viewed them *very* differently than the Rambam did). I didn't want to define its rank precisely because that would just muddy the waters of the point I'm trying to make. It *is* clear that the "mesorah" shifted from Rishonim's times to the early Acharonim's times. This seems to be a contradiction in terms. How can the "mesorah" change about an objective fact?

      Keep in mind that this is merely a convenient example. There are numerous more subtle issues regarding which the "mesorah" changed. A good tip off is when an Acharon writes "chas v'shalom!" about something Rishonim said. How can it be chas v'shalom if our knowledge of the mesorah comes from them?!

      Delete
    5. The comparison between 'non-binding' and 'kefira' is totally wrong.
      The Rishonim believed Aggada to be non-halachically-binding. We don't derive Halachos from Aggada, generally. That is true nowadays too.
      However, Aggada is a part of Torah. Torah is not merely Halacha, and not all Halachos are done with the hands. Torah includes אהבת ה and יראת ה. What are the rules and ramifications of these מצות הלבבות? How do we achieve these levels? What about בטחון? What are its limits and methods? These are all to be found in Aggada, and it is ignored at your own peril. אהבת ה and יראת ה are Mitzvos, included in the list of Mitzvos, and they are the background to all Mitzvos. Ignoring Aggada means ignoring these Mitzvos, and the Rishonim/Geonim never said to ignore them.

      Delete
    6. "It *is* clear that the "mesorah" shifted from Rishonim's times to the early Acharonim's times."

      Yes, but it is the same thing with kabbala, chassidus, the Gra, the yehishiva movement, the mussar movement, Bais Yaakov. The idea that we do things different than Gaonin/Rishonim is not limited to aggada, right?

      However, with regards to aggada in particular, I would say if anything, the shift in mesorah was backwards to the times of the Talmud. The Talmud takes Aggada very seriously. What gives a Gaon the right to say we don't really have to accept it? Why is is his word better than Abaye or Rava? Hilchasa k'basra'ah? And this takes me to your next point:

      "A good tip off is when an Acharon writes "chas v'shalom!" about something Rishonim said. How can it be chas v'shalom if our knowledge of the mesorah comes from them?!"

      This is an extremely important point that I believe the whole idea of "chareidism" hinges on. It is not the case that all of our knowledge of mesorah comes from the Rishonim. After all, we have the text of the Gemara and other Chazals. What happens when a Rishon says something that blatantly and inescapably contradicts them in a Torah matter (such that we can't just say he had a different girsa)?

      For example, suppose the Rambam would say מותר להדליק אש בשבת (not a real example, but there are examples that are close enough). Would we accept it? Or would we say, this is absolutely wrong? Whether there is a ט"ס, or the Rambam just made a mistake, or he means something else, צע"ג. We would definitely NOT say there is a "mesorah" from the Rambam to allow lighting fires on Shabbos!

      In general, the biggest characteristic of chareidim is that they aspire to conduct themselves according to what they see in the Gemara. So if a Rishon has a haskafa that *seems* blatantly inconsistent with the hashkafa of Chazal (such as the מלחמת ה' לרלב"ג, an extreme example. The Ibn Ezra and MN, less extreme examples), they will tend to ignore them, usually.

      When it comes to secular studies, it's pretty clear from Chazal themselves that they saw it as mostly negative and bittul Torah, except practical knowledge that was necessary for halacha/medicine/agriculture. I think you will agree it's really hard to read through Chazal and believe they highly valued secular knowledge for its own sake. But you ask, the Rambam loves Greek philosophy and thinks it's the best thing since sliced bread?? Yeah, that's a good point. We wholeheartedly accept Rambam, author of the Mishnah Torah. Rambam the Greco-Arabic philosopher, not so much.

      The whole idea of "chumras" that is, learning through a sugya and concluding that current practice ("mesorah") is incorrect, is based on this idea.

      There is much more to talk about, including important distinctions between yeshivish and chassidim, but enough for one comment.

      Delete
    7. I am shocked that someone can consider themselves Charedi and think that we can bypass the nearly universal views of the Geonim/Rishonim and go to the Gemara. That's the charedism I grew up with - we are avadim to the Rishonim. We only can understand the Gemara as it's explained to us by the Rishonim. It's completely inconceivable to simply ignore several hundred years of mesorah (and very crucial mesorah at that) - ask any Charedi RY and they would probably react violently at the notion. (As R' Aharon Lopiansky said: If you pasken halachah straight from the Gemara, ignoring Rishonim you might get 50% or more right. If you pasken hashkafa straight from the Gemara, ignoring Rishonim, you may well end up an apikores!)
      How about I ignore the Rishonim who say God doesn't have a guf and say they're k'negged the Gemara - like RMT said?

      If the nearly *universal* view of the Rishonim was that we are allowed to light a fire on Shabbos then either a) we're allowed to do so and we'd have to drey the Gemara, or b) we have a major, major crisis in Judaism. I wouldn't easily know how to solve that paradox.

      But in any event, your mesorah is missing hundreds of years? Not much of a mesorah then I guess.

      Delete
    8. Agav, you're wrong that we don't take the Rambam as Greco-Arabic philosopher seriously. The Rama in Toras HaOlah et al. takes him very seriously. And even the Leshem says that with regard to the Ein Sof, the Rambam's descriptions in MN are "kodesh kadashim!"

      Delete
    9. How do you know that your awareness of what has been handed down is complete?

      Even among known works by illustrious authors, large portions can be and are missing. This is to say nothing of works unknown to us.

      From what I have read, we might have in our possession today perhaps 20-25% of the output of Avraham ben HaRamban. Just for one example. Such a famous personage and this is all we've got.

      Questions without answers don't mean the answers don't exist. Just that we are unaware of them. A "shift in views" might have been committed to writing but are now simply unknown and in a manuscript in some library somewhere. Or lost entirely. But it doesn't mean such a shift was done ex nihilo. Answer them yourself, or more accurately, speculate and make conclusions, at your peril.

      Delete
    10. "I am shocked that someone can consider themselves Charedi and think that we can bypass the nearly universal views of the Geonim/Rishonim and go to the Gemara. That's the charedism I grew up with - we are avadim to the Rishonim... ask any Charedi RY and they would probably react violently at the notion. "

      I am not sure if you're being serious here, but let's go with that. Let's go with with the chareidism you grew up with. Is the chareidism you grew up with that we don't have to accept aggados? That like the Ibn Ezra/Ralbag, we can reject Chazal whenever we want? That there is no hashgacha pratis for the average Jew? That the story with Eitz Hadaas never happened? That secular studies are valuable for their own sake? That learning Aristotelian metaphysics/science is a higher level than learning Gemara?

      You can't have it both ways. You can't hang your hat on the chareidism you grew up with, and at the same time claim we are משעובד to these "rational" opinions. You must admit that the chareidism you grew up with utterly rejects them, because they are so contrary to the spirit of Chazal.

      "How about I ignore the Rishonim who say God doesn't have a guf and say they're k'negged the Gemara - like RMT said?"

      I believe most Rishonim actually hold not (completely) like the Rambam on this matter, see the מלאוים לתורה שלמה פרשת יתרו, but that is a different conversation.

      "If the nearly *universal* view of the Rishonim was that we are allowed to light a fire on Shabbos then either a) we're allowed to do so and we'd have to drey the Gemara, or b) we have a major, major crisis in Judaism. I wouldn't easily know how to solve that paradox."

      You are correct, but there is no nearly universal view about aggada. The Ibn Ezra's view, that we can simply dismiss an aggada whenever we feel it's unreasonable, is certainly *not at all* a nearly universal view.

      " The Rama in Toras HaOlah et al. takes him very seriously. And even the Leshem says that with regard to the Ein Sof, the Rambam's descriptions in MN are "kodesh kadashim!"

      I have to see exactly how the Toras Haolah learns him, but for now: Is the Toras Haolah regularly learned in yeshivos? How about the MN? Again, is this the chareidism you grew up with? Is this the same Rama who says ואין לאדם ללמוד כי אם מקרא משנה וגמרא והפוסקים הנמשכים אחריהם ובזה יקנה העולם הזה והעוה"ב אבל לא בלמוד שאר החכמות ומ"מ מותר ללמוד באקראי בשאר חכמות ובלבד שלא יהיו ספרי מינים.

      In general, I'm sure you are aware that some people of the chareidi persuasion try to fit the Rambam's hashkafa with their own (not so successfully, in my very unlearned opinion). R' Elchanan comes to mind. Are you sure the Rama isn't doing this (I am asking seriously, as I never learned through it)?

      I'm sure the Leshem holds that with regard to the Ein Sof, the Rambam's descriptions in MN are "kodesh kadashim". But what does he think about Aristotelian metaphysics being a higher level than learning Torah? What does he think about the Rambam's dismissal of Kabbala? Hmmmmmmmmm???

      Delete
    11. This conversation is unproductive, tedious, and you're ignoring my point, either deliberately or inadvertently. That is coupled with your very lengthy responses that a) include inaccuracies (R Kasher's dubious argument is that everyone AGREED with the Rambam about corporealism) and b) conflations (you keep going to the Ibn Ezra as if his extreme view is in any way related to what I said) and c) just plain tiring with irrelevant asides.

      I've said what I needed to say, v'hamayvin yavin, and for everyone else it's probably better that they don't know.

      Delete
    12. I directly addressed your point, and you didn't answer my questions:

      "Is the chareidism you grew up with that we don't have to accept aggados? That like the Ibn Ezra/Ralbag, we can reject Chazal whenever we want? That there is no hashgacha pratis for the average Jew? That the story with Eitz Hadaas never happened? That secular studies are valuable for their own sake? That learning Aristotelian metaphysics/science is a higher level than learning Gemara?"

      Clearly, you find these questions uncomfortable. If chareidism is to be mekabel everything from the Rishonim no matter what, why would we reject these positions? This is why you are so puzzled as to how an Achron can say about a Rishon "chas v'shalom". Unlike you, I can comfortably answer these questions. If you find conversations tiring, no need to comment in the first place.

      About R Kasher

      https://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=51462&st=&pgnum=322
      https://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=51462&st=&pgnum=314

      Delete
  19. Isaac Mayer Wise reformed judaism
    Sarah Schenirer reformed judaism

    however one them was driven to strengthen strict torah observance and one of was driven to abolish the law of torah observance, but yet we see they were both reformers of judaism.

    -------

    Likewise there may be a different construct of "original" v "authentic" judasim.
    authentic, meaning the practice of judaic observances based on previously and traditionally accepted rules and parameters.

    While "modern" type judaism may be sidelining the traditionally accepted norms and developing observances based on modern ethical standards and ideas vs. the way that "authentic" judaic practices may be hold on to the earlier traditional practices.

    For example Shabbos; what some "modern" communities find certain activities to be within strict observance of shabbos while "authentic" communities may find the same activity a blatant act of violating shabbos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In recent years I've noticed that in my formerly mixed neighborhood many children have begun using scooters, bicycles and similar conveyances on Shabbos.

      When we moved in, nearly 40 years ago, the area was considered largely modern albeit with a significant Yeshivish component. over the subsequent period it's changed to more Yeshivish and Chasiddish, but a core of the original modern group remains.

      When I was growing up I was taught that using mechanical transport on Shabbos was forbidden. My wife learnt the same thing. It really wasn't a controverted issue. The same applied to playing ball.

      Based on your comment, I would expect that the newly permissive cycle users are from the modern segment of the community, with the Charedi sector disapproving.

      In fact, the kids using the bikes are exclusively Charedi - Yeshivish and Chasiddish. I never see a Young Israel child doing it.

      Delete
    2. JT that's very nice about your experience. Here is mine.

      In my former domicile, 100% Charedi, no one used bicycles or any other similar means of conveyance on Shabbos, ever, over decades that I was there. And by no one, I mean no one. Over the decades, I saw one or two televisions in discreet locations.

      In my current domicile, which is officially dati leumi, even teenagers use bikes regularly on Shabbos. There are more than a few residents that are not shomer shabbos, and who park their cars outside the yishuv to be able to drive on Shabbos. There is all sorts of ball playing. There are many televisions, often very large and given place of prominence in the home. And, just last Shabbos, I was shocked to hear some men talk about leaving the set on to catch a game or race or something that was important to them. I don't know if they did, but just that they were willing to consider it and discuss it publicly was jarring beyond belief. I will only mention the manner of dress in passing, which is not really modest, even by lenient standards. This is the real world, and not some idealized and virtually non-existent Modern Orthodox modus vivendi like is thrown about in these comments constantly. There is tremendous ignorance, even by those who grew up observant and supposedly well-versed in halacha, which is most everyone around me.

      There are some very serious people here, but they are a minority.

      Delete
    3. I don't know what anyone was taught, but I have yet to find a credible reason and source for the forbidding of riding a bike in an eiruv on Shabbos.
      I don't and I don't allow my children to. Because there is a minhag to forbid it. But I don't know what the source is.

      Delete
    4. zichron devorim, that could very well be the case. But as it happens, I was strolling on Shabbos (ie yesterday) and happened to see an adult bike rider, equipped for touring with a backpack, make a bee line for the exit of our yishuv, which is obviously outside the eruv. And speaking of eruv, there is precious little awareness that such a thing exists and is necessary here. Sigh. I spent formative years in communities either without one, or where the one present was highly controversial and only modernim held by it.

      Delete
  20. Ramban, Rambam, Ralbag and going back to Philo Judaeus and probably earlier and going forward to modern times there have always been well respected Jews who have studied the science of their day. The Talmud even cites the wisdom of the gentiles and sometimes cites them.How could they do that unless they had some acquaintances with the wisdom of that period ? Reading Rashi it is obvious he too had some knowledge of the wisdom of his day. ACJA

    ReplyDelete
  21. Not just the Sefaradi Rishonim, but almost all of the Sefaradi Aharonim. The Haredi way of live was completely unknown outside of a small subset of Ashkenaz. If it is was "Tora true" it would be followed by segments in all Jewish communities. It was not. Only in the second half of the Twentieth Century did some Sefaradim adopt Haredi innovations in Judaism, sadly discarding their ancient mesora.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Who says the masorah is static? PS may characterize R. Wachtfogel as R. Ribner's "hero", but his own hero is Charles Darwin, who believes men descended from a hairy tailed quadruped, probably arboreal in its habits. And he's worried about evolution in religion??

    Gpix

    ReplyDelete
  23. I’m wary of commenting, as the debate here just goes round in circles and some people can be aggressive. However, there are some points I don’t think anyone has made.

    1) Work is a core component of a person’s life and identity, so saying that mass Torah learning instead of working is a “minor innovation” by an otherwise fully-traditional Haredi community is disingenuous.

    2) The idea that the absence of widespread support for “secular studies” before the Enlightenment shows opposition to them in the mesorah is question-begging. There was no real value-neutral thought before the Enlightenment. Everything was seen as part of an overall theological value system. Saying the Rishonim didn’t support studying secular studies so we shouldn’t is like saying the Rishonim didn’t use electricity, so we shouldn’t. That doesn’t prove we should engage in them, but it’s not a killer argument against them.

    3) This is just my opinion, but I think that Haredim see “adherence to the mesorah” as being about halakhah only, or at least primarily, whereas Modern Orthodox Jews see Jewish values as being an important part of the mesorah, and sometimes giving grounds for halakhic leniency. I think the Chazon Ish argued that there are no Jewish values, only halakhah, whereas many more modern poskim would definitely reject this.

    MO Jews are more likely to justify halakhic leniency (both for individuals and communities) on meta-halakhic values like shalom bayit, kiddush hashem , darkhei shalom, achdut etc. etc. whereas Haredi poskim are reluctant to do that. It’s not that MO rejects the mesorah to abandon halakhah, but it sees meta-halakhic values as being part of that mesorah going back to Tanakh and transgressing a value being as bad as transgressing a halakhah, even when that value is more nebulous and ill-defined than a halakhah.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1) The idea that 'work is a core component of a person's life and identity' is a Western one. It is not a Torah concept, nor is it a natural thing. Western culture promotes that, and those that are not infected with Western culture simply do not live like that.
      That is why, in Charedi neighborhoods, rich and poor live near each other and are not segregated. In non-Jewish cultures, that is virtually impossible. Because although money buys a lot in all societies, it is not the sole definer of status in Charedi communities.
      In the generations of want and privation, when full-time learning was more difficult than nowadays, the dream was still to spend as much time learning as possible. A shoemaker did not dream of winning the lottery and sitting on the beach, he dreamed of sitting all day in the Beis Hamedrash filling his mind with Tosfos.

      2) You are misrepresenting the point. There is no Mesorah for secular studies for Jewish youth. There were some outliers, but in general, the belief system placed knowledge of Torah as the highest level of humanity. This changed with the emancipation, and Charedim upheld the original belief system.
      Remember, the discussion here is the belief that Charedim are a new invention. I answered those points.

      3) MO do not follow 'Jewish values' any more than Charedim, except when they can convert their Western values over to Judaism. Self-sufficiency isn't a value to them because of Torah. It is a Western value to which they found dubious sources in Torah. This is one example.
      Additionally, Torah values are based on and sourced in Halacha. As an example, when the Halacha tells us that there are differences between genders, it is also teaching us a values system. A woman's job is less about those time-bound Mitzvos. The MO refuse to accept that as they allow contemporary feminism to encroach on their Torah values.
      The words מסורת סייג לתורה tells us that Mesorah is supposed to teach us how to follow Halacha. But it is more than just Halacha that Mesorah teaches the Charedim. The values system, including placing Ruchniyus above Gashmiyus, Torah learning above other learning, and Jewish values above non-Jewish ones, are all our Mesorah.

      Delete
    2. "Work is a core component of a person’s life and identity, so saying that mass Torah learning instead of working is a “minor innovation” by an otherwise fully-traditional Haredi community is disingenuous."

      I want to thank you, you really the nail on the head with this comment! This is indeed one of the fundamental differences between secularists and chareidim. To a secularist, yes, work is a core component of his identity, and he is proud to admit it. To a working ben Torah chareidi, work is NOT a core component of his identity! He would be ashamed to say that about himself. His core identity is conducting himself and raising his family in the derech haTorah. If he is a lamdan, his core identity is certainly learning Torah, not his job.

      Unless....his job is directly helping other Jews, such as a doctor largely patronized by yidden. Or somebody employs many Jews, giving them a parnassa. Or other things of that nature.

      Delete
    3. "Self-sufficiency isn't a value to them because of Torah. It is a Western value to which they found dubious sources in Torah." I'm fascinated by your description of completely explicit and unambiguous sources in Chazal as "dubious."

      Delete
    4. I'm fascinated by your description of completely explicit and unambiguous sources in Chazal as "dubious."

      You are stretching things.

      There is no such thing as genuine "self-sufficiency." Do you grow your own wheat? What about raising cows or goats for milk or chickens for eggs? How about slaughter your own animals for meat? Did you build your dwelling? There is a variation of this sentiment explicitly expressed in the Talmud.

      Further, where does the money come that enables your museum to exist and function, and that presumably makes you "self-sufficient?" It wasn't from your own effort, was it? All you possess is a glib tongue that convinced others to give you what they themselves "earned."

      A job is a vessel for Hashem to sustain us and nothing more. If one gets satisfaction and/or a sense of accomplishment from it, that is a benefit, but not a given. If you believe that your hishtadlus gives you parnassa, or that leads to a sense of identification with it, or a belief that you are in any way sustaining yourself, that does not follow, as per our mesorah.

      You can say that's not what you mean by the term. And you probably will. If so, please explain what "self-sufficiency" means then.

      Delete
    5. When he actually quotes Chazal, we will see how explicit they are.
      Of course, it is forbidden for a person to take Tzedaka when he can work for his own living. But when a person is offered money to learn Torah, there is no clear Chazal that forbids it, most Rishonim permit it, the Mesora (at least for Ashkenazim) is certainly to permit it, and those that permit it have choice language about those who would be 'strict' on the cheshbon of learning Torah.
      Either way, self-sufficiency is not a value in this Halacha. The Rambam only forbids it as a chilul hashem for talmidei chachamim. I don't have a source from him for a person who wants to be paid to say Tehillim all day. Perhaps it is permitted according to him.

      Delete
    6. Zichron,

      Nobody around here 'offers money' to those that learn torah.

      They are subject to begging campaigns and guilt tripping.and in Israel the money is dem1and3d by chareidi MKs.

      Delete
    7. ******* - I feel bad for you then. Where I live, people gladly give to Kollelim, feeling that it is a privilege to support others learning. Sometimes, they give because of the charisma of the Rosh Kollel. Or they respect him greatly and want to stay close to him. But 'guilt tripping' is just not done.
      In Israel, it is horse trading. For the pittance that the Kollel Yungeleit receive from the government. But horse trading is the entire country. That's the way the politics always works, and there is no reason not to take whatever is available. If every politician at the table is playing the same game, there is no Mitzvah for the Charedim to be the ones with the civil conscience. None of the leadership of the state has any civil conscience, it is only in articles on blogs like these that the crocodile tears emerge. If the money wasn't going to Kollelim, it would be going to some other guy's pet project that doesn't help the state in any way. Until they figure out a way to run the state like something better than a local Beis Hatavshil gneiva apparatus, let them stop with the self-righteous indignation.

      Delete
    8. " If every politician at the table is playing the same game, there is no Mitzvah for the Charedim to be the ones with the civil conscience.... Until they figure out a way to run the state like something better than a local Beis Hatavshil gneiva apparatus, let them stop with the self-righteous indignation."

      You exaggerate. Why are you bringing up "civil conscience"? As the old joke goes: “One third of the country is going to work, one third is paying taxes, and one third is serving in the reserves… unfortunately it is the same one third.” It's rather twisted to claim that the one third lacks "civil conscience".

      Israel is not a kleptocracy, despite its kleptocrats. Despite corruption, the system is not entirely corrupt.

      Your comment betrays a rotten cynicism. What you're saying is that once you have determined that the State is sufficiently corrupt, it's okay to join the corruption. And not only is it okay to use corrupt means to retrieve what is rightfully coming to you, it's also okay to do so to squeeze funds in excess of that.
      Furthermore, your reasoning is implicitly circular. By using corrupt means, one makes the system more corrupt and therefore provides the legitimization of being corrupt because the system is corrupt.
      " If the money wasn't going to Kollelim, it would be going to some other guy's pet project that doesn't help the state in any way"
      I somehow doubt that the cost of such pet projects would be sufficient to subsidize the Charedi lifestyle.

      Delete
  24. Hmmm I don't think you really did justice to the commenters point. The bottom line is that by and large, the right wings segments of orthodoxy care deeply about Judaism and halacha and will do everything to keep it going. The more modern segment will fall by the wayside over the generation left to their own devices. As a rationalist, I always come back to the fact that if it were not for simple dedicated Jews like the ones we criticize, this whole enterprise is for naught.

    ReplyDelete
  25. So much wild over-generalization and hotzaas shem ra here! I'm still waiting to find out when I (or anyone) signed up to be a "Haredi" or a "MO/DL" or anything at all and how that decision was permanent and irrevocable. What ever happened to individuals who make personal choices about "lifestyle", often based on very complex compromises known to no one but themselves?

    Maybe a discussion of actual positions publicly held by serious Talmidei Chachamim in various "camps" might have some value, but how is this kind of vague talk useful to anyone?

    ReplyDelete
  26. Rav Aharon Kotler, in Mishnas Rabi Aharon (Vol. 3, Hesped on the Brisker Rav) states that the essence of Modern Orthodoxy is the same as the Reform and Conservative. That is, change Judaism into something that more people will be willing to accept.

    ReplyDelete
  27. In regards to your point about Otzar Hachochma, I actually pulled both the full list and "censored" list off Otzar Hachochma and used Adobe to find the differences. There are a good couple thousand and I did not go through all of them, but the vast majority that I saw were published over the last 150 years by Zionistic or Modern Orthodox rabbis (for example, on the first page was a sefer "אבלוציה ויהדות" and a sefer אביי ורבא which was written by יהודה ליב מימון, who was sharply rejected by the Chareidi Gedolim in his day). So it's a little disingenuous to say that Chareidi Jewry is trying to revise the corpus of Jewish literature as we know it for the last 2,000 years, since they have a B'nei Torah edition where they remove the MO innovators. Other than הירץ ויזל, who was close to Medelsohn and considered a fore-runner to the haskalah even by secular historians, and to whom the Vilna Gaon, Noda B'Yehuda and Hafla'ah were very against and considered an אפיקורס, I would be surprised if there are any classic seforim that were removed. People who were considered outliers in their time such as ר' מנשה בן ישראל and the רלב"ג are included in the "censored" edition.

    Now regarding your main point: I live in a New Jersey suburb, work for a living and have Yekkishe ancestry. Yet I feel I have more in common with a Satmar Chasid living in Williamsburg or a Yemenite living in Israel, than I do with the MO community. We all define our Judaism as fidelity to Halacha and yes, I will use the word - mesorah. Trying to keep Torah and Mitzvos as we perceive previous generations have done. Not attempting to adapt them to modern times. I happen to have grown up in a neighborhood in close proximity to a Modern Orthodox one and I have a relative who is MO so I am quite familiar with what goes on there. The vast majority of them have a complete ignorance or even indifference to some of the most basic mitzvos, and at best seek heterim to try to get out of whatever they can (there are of course some notable exceptions such as R' Herschel Shachter, but incidentally, I was told by a talmid of his that he actually considers himself somewhat chareidi). Walk in to a seforim store in Lakewood and you will find aisle after aisle of seforim published over the last 2,000 years. Walk in to any shul and you will find floor to ceiling bookshelves filled with seforim and people coming to learn before work, after work, and even during work. Walk in to a seforim store in a New Jersey Modern Orthodox community however, and you will find a couple of seforim in English and a bunch of Judaica items. The shuls have almost no seforim and are empty besides for tefilos and maybe if your lucky a daf yomi shiur. So I think a lot of people are quite incredulous when they see you trumpeting that the Modern Orthodox are the real thing and Chareidim are the impostors. There have been many shitos and opinions over the centuries, and I am sure one can find shitos that the prevalent Chareidi society do not jive with. But like I said in my original post, to say that Modern Orthodox is the real thing and chareidim are the impostors is either completely ignorant, or disingenuous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never said that Modern Orthodoxy is the real thing.

      Delete
    2. And with regard to your first point, Rav Elyashiv told Rav Aharon Feldman that if someone published an edition of Moreh Nevuchim that was actually readable, he would oppose it just as he opposed my books.

      Delete
    3. "And with regard to your first point, Rav Elyashiv told Rav Aharon Feldman that if someone published an edition of Moreh Nevuchim that was actually readable, he would oppose it just as he opposed my books."
      Is this printed anywhere? Also, R' Elyashiv didn't know that there are plenty of readable editions of Moreh Nevuchim?

      Delete

  28. There is endless more comments to shred, but if someone really cared all that much( With the exception of those who are doing
    lishmah
    eg Shimshon) they wouldn't want to be here

    A sample:
    "Irving Bunim was modern orthodox"? Really? Anachronistic terms of nowadays ?
    Would have given him a chuckle.

    For Those on the Up – which you guys term the Right : which way you are heading is more important than where you're coming from. And he was surely on the way up from whatever modern Orthodox of youth he was. He was always moving
    Probably that's the ultimate proof of the difference between those on the left of centre vs those to the right. To the right they value one (hopefully) based on trajectory :which way they're heading more than where they're coming from.
    Or they used to..at least!
    While your crowd prizes navel-gazing stagnation.

    Sara Schnerir
    Reform Judaism? How so??
    The goose that keeps laying golden eggs? Using that contention ad infinitum
    ?

    Frankfurt had a girls institution since 1853
    Wurzburg, a little later

    Par for the course

    ReplyDelete

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

One Hundred Thousand!

I have to say, I'm pretty darn proud of this accomplishment. The Biblical Museum of Natural History recently hosted its 100,000th visi...