Monday, August 22, 2022

The Times, They Are A-Changin'

While Judaism has been around for thousands of years, it has changed in various ways over history. Concepts and beliefs changed. Certain things that were permitted became forbidden, certain things that were forbidden became permitted. Sometimes the changes happened gradually and organically. On other occasions, they were created consciously, within a decision-making framework such as that of Eis la'asos l'Hashem, as per the needs of the changing times.

In the comments to the previous post, someone expressed an idea that is commonly heard: Only the great figures of antiquity such as Chazal had the more to enact change in accordance with the changing circumstances of history. We do not have such power.

The problem with this is as follows. The world doesn't stop changing just because we don't have Chazal. It keeps on changing, in ever more radical ways. If you posit that we can no longer make the kind of adjustments that Chazal could and would have done, then what you are saying is that Torah and Judaism are crippled and incapable of meeting the requirements of living in the modern world. 

Sometimes this approach of helplessness is put forward not just vis-a-vis the Sages of antiquity but even regarding those of the previous generation. After the destruction of European Jewry, leaders such as the Chazon Ish and Rav Aharon Kotler enacted a revolutionary approach of pushing people to stay in long-term Torah study, to make up for all that was lost. Nowadays, we have more than made up for it, with more people learning Torah than any time before in history. And thus some approached the Torah leaders of our generation and suggested that it was time to revoke the temporary change. In at least one case, the response was that "we don't have the power to do so."

I can understand the fear that people have of enacting change, especially in light of the freedoms of the modern world and the way in which some movements went too far in changing Judaism. But by refusing to make any changes, they are not only making a break from tradition; they are saying that Judaism cannot rise to the challenges of the era.

That's a pretty terrible and devastating thing to say.

151 comments:

  1. Changes take place anyway. Women are working and driving, Rabeinu Tam time was ousted in numerous communities due to its apparent negation of the metzius.

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  2. Unfortunately, you appear to be slowly edging toward conservative judaism.

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    1. Why unfortunately? Conservative Judaism has the right motivation. They just get the details wrong, presumably because they are stuck with a clientele that wants to delegate observance to their Rabbis, so they err on the side of leniecy. As opposed to the clentele of the Orthodox Rabbis, who are serious about observance but who delegate thinking to their Rabbis.

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    2. Just look through most any piskei halacha, from the Chofetz Chaim forward, and you see the poskim adapting halacha for today's world. There's no kefira in adaptation.

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    3. ….And simultaneously proving right all the rabbis who said long ago that Slifkin would eventually come to kefirah. You’ve got to admit that they did see this coming.

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    4. "rabbis who said long ago that Slifkin would eventually come to kefirah."

      That's a lie. They said other things.

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  3. At the same time, sometimes the challenges of the era have to be met with a simple, very firm, "no." Not every change is good or needs to be accomodated.

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  4. The 'not the power to do so' line is true, because even if they did try to enact such a change they wouldn't be listened to.

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  5. Dr Slifkin I highly recommend the book by Dr. Micha Goodman, חזרה בלי תשובה , where he contrasts and compares the positions of the chatam sofer “חדש אסור מן התורה ״ “ to that of Rabbi Chaim David Halevi, who held more of an evolutionary aspect of Halacha. Interestingly, Halevi maintained that the key to survival of Judaism and halacha over time davka lies in its ability to be flexible. Not surprisingly one of the main reasons behind the differences in positions is that one is Ashkenazi and the other Sefardic, and that the former had to forcibly put up walls against the Enlightenment while the latter did not, and thus could be more accepting to different streams of Jews over time, without threat.

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  6. Maybe it is literally true - they have set up the system in such a way that no one person is able to change it. No Rabbi, no Gadol, no one - can overcome the radical zealots the system has produced

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  7. yes, true, there are many types of people who work tirelessly towards changing judaism two of them that come to mind right away are sarah schenirer in the 1800's and another is moses mendelssohn in the 1700's.

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    1. And the big difference between them was....

      Are you ready? (Drumroll)

      Sara Schneirer's reform was to increase Torah observance amongst women, whereas Mendelsohn's reform was to conform Judaism to secular society!

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    2. Is that really what Mendelssohn did? How do you define “conform”, which doesn’t really make sense here. FYI - MM did not advocate any breach of halakhah (with the possible exception of the question of delayed burial!). He enjoyed the admiration of many rabbis of his generation and after. In later years his legacy was regarded with suspicion; but he was really a brilliant defender of Judaism.

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    3. Mendelssohn was not reform.

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    4. His chief legacy is as grandfather of the reform, whether he wanted it or not. He negatively impacted the majority of the Jewish people for centuries. (He also marvelously defended Judaism before the antisemites of his time. But this pales beside his other impact.) He remains a model of what not to do. With our hindsight, we are more to blame than him if we continue his program.

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  8. As an example of change in metzius requiring a change in halacha, I submit the following:
    Most of the readers will be familiar with the gemara in Shabbos that describe the situation where a wall collapses and buries a person on Shabbos. The psak of the gemara is that we are allowed to dig far enough to determine if the person is breathing. If he is, we can proceed to dig him out. If not, we may not continue on Shabbos. My question is, is there any posek, rabbi or hatzala organization anywhere that would follow the psak of the gemara? Surely the response would be that we dig him out, lay him flat and start recue breathing and chest compressions.

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    1. Perhaps the answer is that by today's standards, that IS "as far as necessary in order to determine whether he is breathing." Then, if CPR fails, we leave him there (with a shomer) until after Shabbos. Does that completely lose one half of the halacha (ie the possibility of not digging him out will never be implemented)? Maybe. Or maybe there are extremely obvious situations like we see a giant gash in the neck or chest (a gash only visible after digging)? Is this a redefinition or an adaptation?

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  9. Yet another demonstration that the religion of the Haredim is polytheistic and therefore not Judaism. They have deified their predecessors.

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    1. Can you distinguish between "deified" and "greatly respected but perhaps to a too-high degree"?

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    2. No. Remove the "perhaps" and they are identical.

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  10. Yet another demonstration that the religion of the haredim is polytheistic and therefore not Judaism. They have deified their predecessors.

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  11. yes, it's true, there are many types of people who work tiresly towards changing judaism two of them that come to mind right away are sarah schenirer in the 1800's and another is moses mendelssohn in the 1700's.

    even hashem himself changed his nations religious requirements from the time of adam onwards adapting with different times and circumstances.

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    1. "changed his nations religious requirements"

      Such as?

      Adam was part of the nation?

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    2. hashem had specific requirements assigned to adam, which are not the same that hashem required to adams children and so on. hashem himself changed his nations (or call if something other than nation, if you so will, a better word usage for you to understand in a better way.) religious requirements from the time of adam onwards adapting with different times and circumstances.

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    3. See Nefesh Hachaim end of Shaar 1.

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  12. The way things work from a religio-sociological perspective is that stringencies, or behavior which is perceived as more devout, are always easier to put in place than leniencies (eg R Moshe allowing ivf from a non jew) slowly accrete, like a snowball rolling downhill, with later generations on the hook for it all, even if it was only supposed to be a temporary thing (eg Rabeinu Gershoms cherem against polygamy). Look at Rambam for example, trying his hardest to demythologize judaism, a noble and fearless attempt no doubt, with the backlash ultimately institutionalizing mysticism even more. It is human nature and extremely difficult to go against “tradition”.

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    1. Yes, and a corollary to this is that stringency, especially public displays of stringency, are equated with piety and moral superiority.

      This is baked into the practice of Judaism, even if our sources caution against it, and has all sorts of negative consequences. One of these is that truly pious and moral behaviour is dismissed if not accompanied by public displays of stringency. Another is that public displays of stringency are used as cover for abusive and immoral behaviour.

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    2. "even if it was only supposed to be a temporary thing (eg Rabeinu Gershoms cherem against polygamy)."

      RMF sat down with R Bluth & another Dayan and decided that it should be extended; and did extend it. An argument from his authority.

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    3. Nahum
      the chavos yair (teshuva 126) mentions a similar idea in his argument against family minhagim being binding (vs local minhagim which are).
      You would always have to add your local minhagim to your family minhagim , they would become family minhagim then over generations everything would be asur!

      YidPoshut

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    4. " Look at Rambam for example, trying his hardest to demythologize judaism, a noble and fearless attempt no doubt, with the backlash ultimately institutionalizing mysticism even more. "

      I guess that was an ironic case of "we were allowed to say it, but he wasn't"

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    5. "RMF sat down with R Bluth & another Dayan and decided that it should be extended; and did extend it. An argument from his authority."

      Aw man! I thought the Cherem was supposed to expire! I was so looking forward to reading other people's mail...

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  13. Ah, but the difference is, our changes are to strengthen the Torah, whereas your changes are to undo it! Especially when the changes are coming from people who have completely sold out to secular culture, the type of people who call a connection with Hashem "fluffy spirituality".

    To what can this be compared? If the government decided that since people are speeding too much and getting into accidents, let's raise the speed limit so that people feel they're not breaking the law. And not only that, but the primary backer of the law was a multiple DUI convict who killed multiple people. Times are a-changin'.

    Here's another good example of the wonderful rationalists "enacting change in accordance with the changing circumstances of history:

    http://rationalistmedicalhalacha.blogspot.com/2021/04/does-torah-actually-prohibit-all.html

    Times are a-changin'. Enjoy!

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    1. Changing things that are permitted into things that are prohibitted is not "strengthening the Torah". Rather those attitudes are characteristic of fear and ignorance. Fear that Judaism as an idea (theology or religion) does not measure up intellectually. Ignorance, it is easier to prohibit rather than to find justification to permit.

      Ultimately, the "stringent" has a negative impact on observance.

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    2. "...our changes are to strengthen the Torah." Giving you the benefit of the doubt, I believe that you believe that your statement is true but it is not. You are not strengthening Torah. What you are doing is inventing your own religion. Chumras and stringencies yield a self-congratulatory attitude, "Look how frum I am!" it may make you feel good but in der Veldt and im Himmel, that's all it does. It will not get you the presidential suite in the Hilton Garden (of Eden) Inn. You'll probably end up with the room next to the ice machine for eternity.

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    3. How do your changes strengthen Torah if you wind up worshiping more than one god (the Real One + one or more Gedolim)?

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    4. "Changing things that are permitted into things that are prohibitted is not "strengthening the Torah"."

      Uh, yeah it is. That's exactly what Chazal did thousands of times. Besides, most of our "changes" along these lines are just forbidding what was already forbidden, either by the letter of the law or the spirit thereof, through the increased knowledge of Torah. I know you guys hate that. Like R' Akiva who said מי יתן לי תלמיד חכם ואנשכנו כחמור.

      " Rather those attitudes are characteristic of fear and ignorance."

      Yiras Shamayim, which is something apparently secularists have never heard of, is actually a good thing. About ignorance, don't make me laugh. Ignorance of the Torah practically defines you guys. And you are proud of it!

      Chumras and stringencies yield a self-congratulatory attitude, "Look how frum I am!"

      Secularism yields a self congratulatory attitude-"Look how smart I am! I read Darwin! Look how modern and progressive I am! I'm a feminist! I'm an LGBTQ activist! Let's march alongside the gay pride parade!"

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    5. @Avi, when you study the Sugya of Molech in Sanhedrin, you'll find that obedience, or call it blind obedience, is distinct from deification.

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  14. For deletion, but:

    "Only the great figures of antiquity such as Chazal had the _more_ to enact change ..."

    I presume you meant a different word. I can't make sense of it.

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  15. Isn't there a middle ground? Acknowledging your point -- that we are, in fact, without Chazal, because they're all dead, and that Judaism can't stay completely frozen forever and still last -- still leaves open the question WHO is authorized to change Judaism. As a refugee from what was conservative Judaism, which is now well down the road to something that will not be self-sustaining, I have observed the consequences of saying that anyone and everyone is authorized to change the rules. Instead perhaps it makes sense to say that, for starters, the only people who are authorized to change the rules are people who (a) know them, very well and deeply and (b) are committed to them.

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  16. "Only the great figures of antiquity such as Chazal had the *more* ...."

    Can you spell-check that and erase this comment? Thank you.

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  17. 'In at least one case, the response was that "we don't have the power to do so." '
    That response itself is open to a few interpretations either, we can't oppose CI & RAK or, we can't oppose the masses or, we can oppose but we don't have the power to make the change without it going overboard.
    RYK would say, that when a Gadol gives a reason, there is likely more/another reasons/reason that remain unspoken.

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  18. "then what you are saying is that Torah and Judaism are crippled and incapable of meeting the requirements of living in the modern world."

    This sentiment has been expressed in numerous forms by yourself an various commenters looking to soften Chareidi intransigence. But the 'reports of my death are greatly exaggerated'. Chareidism is limping along fine, it can be argued, and better than how MO is. In the previous post there is indication that among the MO Znus & Chillul Shabbos are a non issue. Then among UO (Chareidim) living off the state is a non-issue. After deciding which is worse, a person can decide which way is more crippled. The concern about how Torah can meet the alleged needs of modernity should at least be matched by the concern how modernity can meet the needs of the Torah.

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    1. Znus is also a non issue among charedim - as long as it's with little boys.

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    2. To think that abuse is only an issue in the Chareidi world is self-delusional.

      https://nypost.com/2022/07/23/how-abusive-rabbis-prey-on-their-own-congregants/

      https://www.timesofisrael.com/eye-on-statute-of-limitations-alleged-victim-of-us-youth-group-leader-speaks-up/

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    3. Fair enough Avi. Now that you've provided that information, may we also weigh the UO & MO Znuses against each other? My enterprising friend stayed smack in middle of the MO community during vacation, assuming that his Rabbeim exaggerated their criticism of it and wanting to find out on his own. When his vacation was over, he decided that didn't know half of the problem. This is about Pnuyim/yos from ~35 years ago. If you have more information, please share it.

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    4. *he decided that THEY didn't know half of the problem.

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  19. In the same comment that you are quoting me from (which you did not yet publish!), you would have seen that I acknowledge that traditional Judaism is full of changes. But not changes of undoing that of the Torah and Chazal. And changes were never implemented with the conscious intention to remold Judaism to conform with secular society. It is those that broke with tradition that attempt to do so. If you want to change Judaism, go ahead. But don't claim that we are making a break with tradition.

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  20. I don't think that in reality the rabbinic leadership feels they can't make change, rather their concern comes from:
    "Come mothers and fathers
    Throughout the land
    And don't criticize
    What you can't understand
    Your sons and your daughters
    Are beyond your command."
    and thus any change must be perceived as coming from within the top down system rather than from outside pressure. (Simple example - how long did it take for prenups to be accepted across the spectrum?)
    kt

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    1. Still not accepted across the spectrum.

      Dafdude

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    2. aguda US has its own version - that's enough for me :-)
      KT

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  21. "אך מקום איתנו לשאול, כיוון שברור ביותר, שכל חוק או תקנה אינם יכולים להחזיק מעמד זמן רב מפאת השינוי בתנאי החיים, וחוק שהיה טוב לשעתו, אינו מתאים אחרי דור או יותר, וטעון תיקון או שינוי וכדומה, כיצד תורתנו הקדושה נתנה לנו חוקים ומשפטים צדיקים וישרים, מלפני אלפי שנים ואנו ממשיכים לנהוג לפיהם עד היום, ואף נמשיך עד סוף כל הדורות. כיצד קרה שאותם חוקים היו טובים לשעתם וטובים עד עצם היום הזה. אומנם ודאי שהקדוש ברוך הוא נותן התורה, הוא צופה ומביט עד סוף כל הדורות, ונתן לנו תורה שתתאים עד סוף כל הדורות, אבל ודאי שחובתנו להבין 'כיצד'. ומכאן, שדבר זה היה אפשרי רק משום שניתנה הרשות לחכמי ישראל לדורותיהם לחדש חידושי הלכה על פי שינויי הזמנים והמקרים, ורק בזכות זה נתאפשר קיומה של תורה בישראל, ויכולים היו 'ללכת' בדרך התורה והמצווה. וטועה מאוד כל החושב שההלכה היא קפואה ואין לסטות ממנה ימין ושמאל, אלא אדרבא אין גמישות כגמישותה של ההלכה, שכן יכול מורה הוראה בישראל, לפסוק באותה שאלה עצמה, ן לשני שואלים, ולהטרף לאתר ולהכשיר לאחר, כידוע למורי הוראה באיסור והיתר, והדברים ארוכים. ורק בזכות גמישותה של ההלכה, יכול היה עם ישראל בכוח חידושים רבים ומועילים שחידשו חכמי ישראל לדורותיהם, 'ללכת' בדרך התורה והמצווה אלפי שנים.״
    — חיים דוד הלוי, "אלו ואלו דברי אלוקים חיים (דרכי פסיקה בהלכה)", עשה לך רב, חלק חמישי (תל אביב תשמ"ג), עמ' ש־שא.

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    1. ואין גבול ?!

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    2. Of course there's a limit to the statement "אין גמישות כגמישותה של ההלכה" which is why he links the authority for establishing changes to "חכמי ישראל לדורותיהם". But this is fundamentally different than "חדש אסור מן התורה" applied to every and all aspects of halacha, for everyone, forever.
      BTW he seems like he was a fascinating figure. Readers might want to visit: https://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%97%D7%99%D7%99%D7%9D_%D7%93%D7%95%D7%93_%D7%94%D7%9C%D7%95%D7%99.

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  22. Rav Slifkin,

    Much as I’ve agreed with your and like minded persons efforts to contain the irrational Judaism juggernaut, it seems to me that chareidi irrationalist demographics doom your struggle.
    As a long-time kofer, it’s disheartening to watch “rational” Judaism wither and fade, leaving a doctrinaire, chumra obsessed society in its wake.
    In my view, those in the rationalist camp. are confronted by the immense technological and informational changes developed during the last 50 years. It’s very difficult to remain rationalist when your hashkafa is only modestly less irrationalist than chareidi Yiddishkeit. “Reasonable” Judaism rather than Rationalist would be a better way of synopsizing your Hashkafa.

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    1. "Much as I’ve agreed with your and like minded persons efforts to contain the irrational Judaism juggernaut, it seems to me that chareidi irrationalist demographics doom your struggle.
      As a long-time kofer, it’s disheartening to watch “rational” Judaism wither and fade, leaving a doctrinaire, chumra obsessed society in its wake..."

      Uriah's Wife, I think this is the one and only time I will ever agree with you!

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    2. That is, with the fact and that you're a kofer. Not with the sentiment. Obviously.

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  23. And unadulterated Judaism seems to be faring just fine in the modern era. Thus the explosive growth rate and success of chareidi society. It may experience growing pains, such as a learning curve on how to deal with mental health and abuse, and how one can earn an honest living and remain true to his Torah and Judaism (especially in Israel), but flourishing nonetheless. It is those that think that they must adapt the Torah to fit with modern society who appear to be floundering. The Torah was designed to be consumed undiluted. Not too effective when corrupted.

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    1. Depends how you define "flourishing'.

      How many 'gedolim' can you name below the age of 80?

      Orthodox Shuls have more difficulty now filling rabbinical positions then they did fifty years ago. Why do you think that is?

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    2. Flourishing? Only in numbers and chitzonious. In quality, most just walk the walk and talk the talk (and wear the wear) Seen the adverts in Ami, Mispacha etc recently? Chareidi my foot.

      Not to mention a significant portion of its growth depends on defrauding goverments in one form or another, whether it be paying teachers in cash but just enough legit to claim benefits, housing in other people's names, tax relieved charity donations where a significant amount comes out the other end etc etc. Need I go on?

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    3. "How many 'gedolim' can you name below the age of 80?"

      Since you're in charge of the definition of 'gedolim', none.

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    4. Ha! This one is funny. You obviously know as much about Charedi society as you do about Hilchos Tznius or the cause of Churban Bayis Shaini for that matter. There is a whole caboodle of American-born (and Israeli-born) Gedolim and manhigim now. Maybe your image of the European-born Yiddish-accented Gedolim are gone for the most part, but they have been replaced by the next generation (including the big bad scary boogie monster R' Elya Ber Wachtfogel Shlita).

      As far as shuls filling rabbinical positions, I know that now when shuls have a position open, they are inundated with applicants for the job. If 50 years ago it was worse I can't imagine how it must have been.

      Charedi society is much larger and more diverse than it ever was. We tend to characterize the Charedi vs MODOX divide as those seeking conform Judaism with secular society vs those who are not. There are many people to the right of that divide who are materialistic, and the Mishpacha and Ami magazines definitely cater to that end of the spectrum.

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    5. I have to agree with mekharker. Walk into bmg and you'll find dozens ( conservative number because not every guy with semicha and the brains is also good with people vechulu) of guys willing and capable of filling rabinate positions.
      I think(just spitballing. Please tell me if im wrong or right) the problem is in more liberal/modox community's who want a rabbi who also follows their liberal hashkafa or is well versed in secular culture. In which case YU only?

      YidPoshut

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    6. I didn't say anthing about applicants for the job. Sure, hundreds of kollel people submit applications for each job. Obviously. They are desperate for a 'shteller'. Practically 100% are unsuitable for anything other than small yeshivish minyonim consisting of of other kollel people. Any broader kehilla with, take a deep breath, working people,struggle to find good leadership.

      That is not the same as filling the position without difficulty.

      When I refer to 'gedolim' I meant those acknowledged worldwide poskim who are mechadesh, not just 'repeaters'. Like RCK, RSZA, rav elyashiv etc, by large segments of orthodoxy. Not mainly by the US yeshivish community who obviously fete their leaders.

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    7. And I forgot the chareidi obsession with money. Walk into any yeshivah/coffee room of a shul and 90% of what you will hear is gossip other people's money, business, property purchases, buildings etc etc. Because in a society when they can't talk politics, sport, science etc due to lack of knowledge, what else can the gossipers gossip about? That doesn't apply to those that can talk torah of course, but practically speaking that is a relatively small minority. In other societies one can excel in all sorts of talents, sport, music, knowledge etc. In chareidi society its either torah or money. Those that have neither are second rate citizens.

      I learnt in the kollel system for 20 years. I no exactly what goes on. And the biggest difference between work and kollel is that in work you need to get it right. In kollel, don't get a shach clear. Don't worry, lets move on, we have spent enough time on that tosfos (hischil b'shach v'siyum b'tosfos, I know, but you get my point). Part of the beauty of torah (in a way) is that you can never gey anything wrong. There is always something to support a position, sometimes with a bit of kvetching, but hey, that's fine. 'He doesn't not say it' is classic yeshivish. Try interpreting legislation that way at work. And when all else fails just say 'the minhag ha'olam is not like/like [X]. That will always defeat your chavrusoh if you can't simply shout him down.

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    8. I learnt for 20 years in the kollel system. You can't pull the wool over my eyes like you can to the typical chareidi ba'al habbos. I know exactly what goes on.

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    9. responding to Twirler's initial comment in this thread:
      Rumors of [Jewish community]'s death appear to be greatly exaggerated, no matter which community one is referring to, huh?

      I'm not sure what "floundering" means. Then again, I'm not sure what "those that think that they must adapt the Torah to fit with modern society" means either. We have been predicting the demise of Reform Judaism forever, and they still persist.

      But if you mean Modern Orthodoxy, then I ask if you have ever been to Teaneck. Or the Five Towns. Or anywhere in Manhattan. Or Cleveland. Or Chicago. Or the larger Philadelphia area. Or to new yishuvim that are opening and growing in Israel (like Kfar Yona) as well as older places that are still expanding, (like Modiin). There is always an ebb and flow to communities (there are still Jews in the Bronx, but not like the old days!)

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    10. In what way does Reform Judaism still exist? A large percentage of it's adherence are not even Jewish anymore! And what about it resembles Judaism?

      About the other point, you seem to be the new kid on the block, but it is based on the my comment on the previous post about retention level

      http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2022/08/can-my-daughter-sing.html?showComment=1660788854665#c6343752287746408680

      And it seems that birth rate (at least in Israel, the famous Pew study of Jewry in the US was not large enough to allow separate reporting of results for subgroups of Orthodox Jews, such as Modern Orthodox vs. Hasidic, Yeshivish or others) is somewhere between 3-4 kids, depending on how right wing you are.

      https://www.miskar.co.il/he/articles/%D7%93%D7%AA%D7%99%D7%99%D7%9D-%D7%9C%D7%90%D7%95%D7%9E%D7%99%D7%99%D7%9D

      So assuming 60% retention level we are talking about 1.8%-2.4% reproduction level, just straddling replacement.

      Delete
    11. Not sure what you mean by new kid, given that I've been posting here for years, and I've never seen your moniker until last week. You have been posting a lot to compensate though, I'll give you that...

      I don't have statistics at my fingertips, nor can I comment at all hours of the day, due to the whole "day job" and "raising a family" things.

      Agreed about birth rates. But I was pointing to after the fact evidence. In advance predictions of community demise based on birth rates are just as valid and predictions of community demise based on financial implosion. So which will die first? Chareidim due to lack of money or MO due to lack of children? I was pointing out how second and third generation MO communities are thriving.

      And you can disdain Reform all you like (obviously, you and I are much more similar to each other than to a member of Reform), but their temples have not closed, their youth organizations have not shut down, and their representation in society still extensively exists. Have more individuals become "unaffiliated"? I would guess so, but we are still not at the point where RJ has become a historical curiosity of someone's ancestry; rather, it is still a current force and presence.

      Delete
  24. How could the Sages change the Hebrew script of the Torah
    At least according to one opinion?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The precise shape of the letters doesn't really matter so much as some kabbalists believe, according to normative halakha.
      That's why no geographic segment of jews 'cancels' the other scripts (the sefardis are not comfortable with yemenite scrolls for other reasons). Furthermore, studying the old Sifrei Torah we still have shows that all those different 'Ashuri' scripts really evolved from one, but they all are more sophisticated today, and therefore more mehudar.
      The evolving of early 'Ashuri' from 'Ivri' can be explained exactly the same way, as it really is derived from it, even if it might not be evident to the eye.

      Delete
    2. There is a dispute in the talmud ( sanhedrin 21b and 22a) if there was one switch (ivri to ashuri) or two (ashuri to ivri to ashuri) or no switch. I think this is what yaacub is referring to.
      I dont think "evolving " works according to the baraisa that it came with the jews from ashur (by galus bavel) .

      Does anyone know of a source which addresses yaacubs question?

      Sans source: 1. Navi commanded (im assuming there is no halacha l'moshe m'sinai as to the shapes just that they be "valid" maybe "accepted" shapes. Which leads to->). 2. Maybe there is no reason not to use any lettering system that's equivalent to hebrew(number of letters , sounds)?

      YidPoshut

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    3. Yes, and I was explaining the first opinion, that was the question.
      The exact phrasing is: שעלה עמהם מאשור, which only means that's where it evolved.
      Cultural evolution is always accelerated by contact with different cultures, and in any case all semitic languages basically shared the same alphabet.

      Ezra wasn't a prophet.

      To explain the second opinion, see המקרא והמסורה by רב ראובן מרגליות, chapter 9.

      Delete
  25. I'm not sure your premise is accurate. You see it as a bad thing that Judaism would be stagnant without people to make changes, but isn't that how it was intended to be? Tanach can't be edited, so that's stagnant. Or would these unnamed rabbis have the power to change that too? Sure, we need some changes to respond to a new world, but as someone else already pointed out, who has enough clout to make people listen? And how far would those changes go? The fact that Judaism isn't or can't be changed to reflect the entirety of the modern world is just a flaw that we have to live with. I don't buy into yeridat hadorot in general, but you have to admit that the generation of rabbis who edited the talmud had a better feel of the pulse of the people at the time. They made large scale changes, in effect created a new religion, so what do you suggest? That today's rabbis should have the authority to make similar changes? Small scale changes are implicit in any rabbinic authority, and as you've noted countless times, these changes have occured for millennia. So I'm not exactly sure what you're pushing for.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I think that's part of the idea of Torah Sheb'al peh - that while Tanach is immutable (a nicer word than stagnant), Torah overall can adapt. R' Mosheh Lichtenstein described the Gemara as being Torah plus real life (with the result obviously still Torah!).

      Delete
  26. Someone wrote an in-depth and detailed response to this post... 52 years ago!

    https://agudathisrael.org/wp-content/uploads/1970/06/JO1970-V6-N08.pdf

    See specifically pg. 6 'The Halachic Process - a Philosophical Exercise'

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the link! Good stuff.

      YidPoshut

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    2. Thanks Yid! I tried reaching out to you with that email address that you provided me in the last post but it bounced. If you want to reach out to me, my contact info is on my profile page.

      Delete
  27. So why has modern Orthodoxy failed to build a mass movement given that it is explicitly intended to meet the challenges of the time? I have two ideas:

    -

    Modern Orthodoxy has not been a social movement with the potential to last multiple generations precisely because its social demands to fit in are so exorbitant. Husband need to get a good education, a good job, a large house, multiple holidays each year, drive a nice ca. Wives must be thin, do yoga, study for a PhD in psychology who works even though she doesn't financially need to. Chosen are required to be academically high performing. The rules of the club are clear even if they are written in the shul car park rather than the shul constitution.

    Charedim by contrast have embraced poverty - can you see why this makes them popular with the poor?

    Humanist Orthodoxy must be zealous, fundamentalist, and unyielding in its humanism . We must demand members work for free for 10 hours a week and donate a significant amount of their wages to charity, and live modest lifestyles themselves.

    Counterintuitively enough this is a more sustainable ask then asking the 100% to be the top 5%

    -

    The other aspect of MO failure is astonishingly obvious. If we really wanted our children to live in a world where our values and ideals are competitive with those of of others, we would have more children. Modern Orthodoxy is contracepting itself out of the future. Relying on the inevitability of Charedim evolving to join the mass sterilisation of the West is wishful thinking.
    If you want a vote on the future you have to have more children (and therefore less foreign holidays).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe also because the chareidi movement lies more toward claiming that all the truth is theirs, and all must follow it, it is connected to a infinite almighty source and if you stray even a little bit you end up in hell. Very definitive and exclusionary.
      That can be pretty convincing to a large percentage of people.

      Delete
    2. Hat, I'm not being facetious - how do you define yourself? I've seen so many different confusing ideologies espoused by you that you really seem to be a self-made man. Anti-Zionist, not Chareidi yet critical of MO. A rarity in our generation.

      Delete
  28. We can change with a sanhedrin. Unfortunately we lack one. When we get one again we will be able to do so.

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    Replies
    1. So we don't need a Sanhedrin to create the Kollel phenomenon, but we do need one to cancel it?

      Delete
    2. The kollel phenomenon grew slowly. According to your take on things, it was a good thing in the beginning but now it's out of hand. It was a 'small time operation' founded by various rabbis in various places , w/o a Sanhedrin. Now that it is a colossus, that quantity of authority wouldn't be enough.

      Regarding the re-institution of the Sanhedrin before Yemos Hamoshiach, been there done that. It was attempted in the fifties and shot down by the GRYZ & RAK. My understanding is that it might have brought about the Halachic dictatorship of one faction over the whole Israel.

      Delete
  29. The idea that we don't change is a myth. Every new type of organization is a change. Every specialized type of yeshiva is a change. American girls going to EY for seminary is a change. BY itself was a huge change. Dirshu is a change. In general, Jewish education has gotten to a much higher level. There is a lot more awareness of Hilchos Shabbos now than in our grandfather's time. There is a lot more awareness of halacha in general. Much to the chagrin of the author of "Rupture and Reconstruction".

    But it is silly to compare our changes, or the changes of חז"ל, to the changes of the secularists. They are the complete opposite. Our changes are to uphold the Torah. The secularist changes are to destroy the Torah. It is really that simple. As anybody can see by just looking at the type of changes the secularists are constantly proposing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wanting to cancel the innovation of mass kollel is a "secularist" desire?

      Delete
    2. No, wanting the other 2,000 secularist things you want is a secularist desire. Your disparagement of Torah study is just a symptom of a much, much bigger problem.

      Delete
    3. "There is a lot more awareness of halacha in general. Much to the chagrin of the author of "Rupture and Reconstruction"."
      You don't understand R&R; you should read it again.

      Delete
    4. "You don't understand R&R; you should read it again."

      It is the author of R&R who doesn't understand, unfortunately.

      Delete
    5. It's been a while since I read Rupture and Reconstruction, but my recollection is that the author's central argument concerns the role of book-learning vs. community tradition in Jewish practice. Correct me if I am wrong.

      Delete
    6. "You don't understand R&R; you should read it again."

      "It is the author of R&R who doesn't understand, unfortunately."

      You've lost the plot. Whether the author understands or not, is irrelevant to the question of whether you understand him. So your response is a non sequitur.
      His discussion of fish bones and olives clearly indicate that halachic awareness is not the issue per se.

      Read R&R again and then cite here where he's bothered by halachic awareness.

      Delete
    7. "His discussion of fish bones and olives clearly indicate that halachic awareness is not the issue per se.
      "Read R&R again and then cite here where he's bothered by halachic awareness."
      Oh, please. Yes, he is not bothered by halachic awareness per se, he is just bothered by the application of that awareness. He would prefer we just learn Shas/Tur/SA, but never apply any of it to our own lives, instead relying on the "mimetic tradition" of the עמי הארץ. What he fails to realize is that "changes" in halacha are an inevitable result of increased Torah education.

      Other than that, the essay is full of endless banal observations of changing Jewish culture, but for some reason, this cringy yawn-fest became the new Bible of Modern Orthodoxy, most of whom know very little of anything else.

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    8. "Oh, please."
      Pleading won't help. You still haven't cited where he expresses his "chagrin" over increased halachic awareness. In fact he clearly eliminates halachic awareness as the phenomenon of concern: "Though the men who raised this issue, the GRA and the Noda Beyehuda, were some of the most famous Talmudists of the modern era, whose works are, to this day, staples of rabbinic study, nevertheless, their words fell on deaf ears and were without any impact, even in the most scholarly and religiously meticulous circles"
      So again, you don't understand the essay, and you should read it again. If you do understand, please cite where he says what you claim he says without begging ("Oh, please") or divination.

      "Other than that"
      Don't change the topic.

      "banal observations... yawn-fest"
      And yet it's so widely cited and discussed. Hundreds of articles /citations. Anniversary reviews and even a retrospective volume on the work. Can you name another essay on Orthodoxy in the past thirty (or forty) years that has elicited that much discussion?
      Even you thought it worthwhile to cite. Hardly a yawn-fest or mere banal observations.

      Delete
    9. No, you should read it again. He is clearly bothered by the impact of halachic awareness. He would prefer we just learn Shas/Tur/SA, but never apply any of it to our own lives, instead relying on the "mimetic tradition" of the עמי הארץ. His line "nevertheless, their words fell on deaf ears and were without any impact, even in the most scholarly and religiously meticulous circles" is totally made up. Obviously as people get more familiar with the halacha they will start practicing some of it, much to his chagrin.

      "And yet it's so widely cited and discussed."

      Yeah, I know the secularists and Modern Orthodox are totally obsessed with it. As I said, it is their new Bible, as they know very little of anything else. They think this drek is somehow an affirmation of their own secularist Judaism over the UO. I find it very funny. It is worthwhile to cite inasmuch as it provides an insight into the type of things MO is obsessed with and upset about.

      Delete
    10. "He is clearly bothered by the impact of halachic awareness."
      So cite where he says it.

      "His line "nevertheless, their words fell on deaf ears and were without any impact, even in the most scholarly and religiously meticulous circles" is totally made up. "

      You've lost the plot again. It's irrelevant whether the statement is true or not; the fact that he makes it indicates that the changes he's referring to are not increased halachic awareness per se. As far as the statement's veracity, show us that 19th century poskim and halachic works show a concerns for these issues. They don't, hence "deaf ears".

      "As I said, it is their new Bible, as they know very little of anything else. "
      You're being very silly.

      "this drek"
      You should stick to words you see in texts, and stop using words you inherited mimetically.

      Delete
    11. "So cite where he says it."

      The entire essay is bemoaning people living their lives according to texts rather than the "mimetic tradition" of the עמי הארץ.

      " As far as the statement's veracity, show us that 19th century poskim and halachic works show a concerns for these issues. They don't, hence "deaf ears"."

      It's a silly question. He decided that no "scholarly circles" ever were חושש for the צל"ח. How in the world would he know? Scholarly circles, forever, were חושש for various things based on their learning. There was a lot less halachic literature in the 19th century than there is now. The Mishna Brura is חושש in the case of דאורייתא. But even now, many scholarly circles are not חושש even for that.

      The footnote: "The scholarly elite lived their lives, no less than did the common folk, according to the mimetic tradition. They may well have tried to observe more scrupulously certain aspects of that tradition and to fine-tune some of its details, but the fabric of Jewish life was the same for scholar and layman alike." How silly. He really thinks that the scholars didn't change practices based on their learning? Every teshuva and halacha sefer is filled with that. Some assign more power to minhag, some less. Unless this is what he means by the line "They may well have tried to observe more scrupulously certain aspects of that tradition and to fine-tune some of its details", in which case he has totally admitted he is wrong.

      "You should stick to words you see in texts, and stop using words you inherited mimetically."

      You don't know the texts I read 😅

      Delete
  30. "The problem with this is as follows. The world doesn't stop changing just because we don't have Chazal. It keeps on changing, in ever more radical ways. If you posit that we can no longer make the kind of adjustments that Chazal could and would have done, then what you are saying is that Torah and Judaism are crippled and incapable of meeting the requirements of living in the modern world."

    I tend to doubt that. At any rate, your daughter's disappointment at not being able to sing in front of men is hardly an example of any such supposed crippling. Driving to shul on shaboss in the fifties was a surely a much more pressing need than your daughter's ability to entertain males. Ditto for agunos, people with homosexual urges, breadwinners who faced losing their jobs for not working on shabboss in the early 1900s etc etc etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never connected the posts that way. I did not say that women singing should be permitted as a concession to changing times.

      Delete
  31. You claim we are breaking with tradition. I will pose the same challenge to you that I posed to Jeffrey in the last post. Perhaps you can enlighten us since you are presumably more educated them him:

    Please show us precedent in halacha or Orthodox Jewish history of a movement bent on modifying the Torah to conform to current secular society. The only precedent that I am aware of is the Reform, which the MODOX are an outgrowth of (in which case you may be right that it’s 100% within YOUR Mesorah).

    And if you have to go all the way back to Hillel Hazakein and R' Yochanon Ben Zakai like Jeffrey did, there is a major problem. The takanos that they passed were NOT to conform with current secular values, and were to save strengthen Judaism, not to undo it! But even more importantly, no one has assumed such an authority for the last 2,000 years. All the millions of Jews who have lived since then always assumed that the last ones who had the ability to pass decrees which were transformative in nature to Judaism were Chazal. And the only takkana which they passed which can possibly (mis)construed as undoing the Torah is Pruzbul. I am sorry, I know you think highly of yourselves, but you do not have the authority of Hillel Hazakein to start undoing Judaism. I agree that Judaism is always changing. The Rosh did not own a Mishna Berura and the Rambam did not own a Noda B’yehuda, but it is all within the parameters of the Torah and Chazal. The first ones in history who came with an agenda of changing the Torah outside the parameters of Chazal were the Reform, and now their successors the MODOX.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Uh, I'm talking about changing Torah BACK TO the parameters of Chazal, and away from recent innovations!

      Delete
    2. Uh, well that's not what you said! You said that to say that only Chazal can make changes is a 'pretty terrible and devastating thing to say' because 'the world doesn't stop changing just because we don't have Chazal. It keeps on changing, in ever more radical ways. If you posit that we can no longer make the kind of adjustments that Chazal could and would have done, then what you are saying is that Torah and Judaism are crippled and incapable of meeting the requirements of living in the modern world.'

      Delete
    3. Uh again, Moshehhhhh Lichtenstein whom you quoted in his 'fascinating' and 'unprejudiced' article, did say that 'given the cultural changes that have taken place regarding the status of women and their place in society', he sees fit to be permit kol isha, even though Chazal were pretty clear that it is a problem and he is the first person in 2,000 years to do so!!

      Delete
    4. And my third and final Uh (unless I think of another one before I go to sleep!): Why in the world do you want to undo 'recent innovations'?! Since the advent of technology and extremist militant woke values, the world is probably at it's most inhospitable time towards religion since creation! If previous generations implemented these safeguards, we can use them all much more the more so! Case in point, if not for the innovation of Kollel, we would probably be as ignorant and apathetic towards Judaism as you guys!

      Delete
    5. I once belonged to a web discussion group, now sadly defunct, which banned the beginning of posts with the word "Uh" as being horribly rude. I had never realized it before then, but it really woke me up. I don't do it myself, and when others do...well, we already know about you from your content, but that's confirmation right there. Modern Orthodoxy is an outgrowth of Reform? You oughta be ashamed of yourself.

      Delete
    6. Got it! Sorry, I forgot that I am supposed supposed to take sarcasm from Slifkin and not respond in kind. Those are the rules of the blog aren't they? A nasty blog against Chareidim, but when Chareidim come and defend themselves they are accused of being nasty!

      In terms of MODOX being an outgrowth of the Reform, well it depends what MODOX is. But if it is, as implied in this post (yet contradicted in the next post), a movement to push Judaism outside the parameters of Chazal, it is 100% an outgrowth of the Reform.

      Uh... kapish?

      Delete
    7. Nachum, about my last response, I retract (I had just seen Slifkin's most recent post and was very befuddled as to what his stance was when I rattled it off, so that perhaps threw me off). Even if one were to argue that MODOX is not attempting to take Judaism outside the parameters of Chazal (see my dialogue with Jefferey in last post where I give examples that this is not the case), the very fact that they are trying to conform Judaism to modern secular society is something that only the Reform have done. It cannot be traced to Hirsch (ever saw how obstinate Yekkehs are about mesora and halacha??) or Hlidsheimer or anyone else for that matter.

      Delete
  32. Another problem is that many of the stringencies not only defy logic, but make the participants question the logic behind them. A good example is modern LED lighting. When electric lights were first widely available, they were unreliable and would often burst into flame when switched on. Clearly this violated the serious prohibition of starting a fire on Shabbat. But this isn’t a problem anymore. LED lighting cannot burst into flames and have no output of heat energy. So if I equip every light source in my home with LED lighting, I’m still supposed to maintain the restriction of turning lights on and off. The rabbis who made the decision to prohibit light bulbs did not understand the nature of electricity. We all do now and it’s nonsense to maintain the prohibition.

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    Replies
    1. You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Most prohibit electric devices based on binyan or makkeh bepatish, which have nothing to do with fire. Before accusing people far more knowledgeable than yourself of ignorance, at least know the basics of what you speak of!

      Delete
    2. Actually, it seems perfectly in line with chazal's mindset, if inconsistent with modern attitudes of inability to change halacha (but I guess one would invoke eis laasos lahashem here), look into the history of how the issur of muktza was instituted (see for example the beginning and end of Rambam hilchos Shabbos perek 24), if people were using electricity on Shabbos, I would think it's reasonable to suppose that one's Shabbos could come to look not very different from the rest of the week (there have been other arguments made for why electricity is forbidden, see for example what Rav Asher Weiss says on the topic, but I think it's far from true to say that there is no logic to forbidding electricity on Shabbos even with more knowledge of how it works)

      Delete
    3. Electricity was never banned because of "fire." That's a common trope among those who would attack Orthodoxy, but it's simply not true. Many, many electric and electronic (not the same thing) devices don't involve any sort of fire whatsoever, and are still assur.

      Delete
    4. Transistor radios, to some extent flourescent bulbs (without a started) air conditioning and fans predated LEDs by decades. None have a heat source. These have all been dealt with by the poskim. There is the Chazon Ish's boneh that is the issue.

      PS the issue is not 'bursting into flames". The issue is the red hot filament.

      Delete
    5. It's not because of fire, but because of the prohibition of electricity - ironically, another good example of change to uphold the Torah.

      Delete
    6. " Most prohibit electric devices based on binyan"
      "There is the Chazon Ish's boneh that is the issue."

      I thought that the Chazon Ish's understanding isn't widely accepted.

      Delete
    7. Light bulbs are simply downright fire, since their filament works as a heat inducing device.
      LEDs are, in my opinion, a Toldah Deoraïsa or Derabbanan to lighting a fire, because they serve the same purpose (maybe Derabbanan because fire has other purposes, but we don't need Chazal to actually specify the issur now, as it is already included in their takkanah of toldoth derabbanan). See Rambam in פ"ה on פרק כלל גדול

      Delete
  33. @Jeffery,

    If you see this, I wrote you a nice long response to your last response on the old post. I originally didn't realize Slifkin published it, but it seems that once the comments get past 200, you have to press LOAD MORE at the bottom of the page to see more comments. Feel free to post your response on this thread so we can all see it.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Mekharker:

      You had specifically said in your penultimate post there (to me - 8/21/22 8:43am) that "it is really no use in engaging with" me.... In response I wrote "So this will be my final response to your drivel"

      Maybe now that you're begging me to respond, I'll take a look at some of things you've written since, and see if there's anything worthwhile responding to. I won't hold my breath.

      Delete
    2. Mekharker:

      I just looked at your "nice" long response. and realized it wasn't so "nice after all. In fact, you start by saying had you known more about me (the specifics in your description of me do not actually describe me at all and are clearly mere insults devoid of any truth or fact), then "[you] would not have engaged with [me] to begin with."

      so you were not surprised that I did not respond to you. You preferred it that way. However, like I said: now, since you're begging.... let's see if I there's anything worthwhile, or just more insults.

      Delete
    3. "Nice" as in nice and lengthy, not as in friendly!

      Delete
    4. Mekharker:

      I will humor you since you begged:

      "you cannot judge a community by the actions of a handful of teens. Their actions are NOT indicative of an entire society. The numbers that I was throwing at you are the majority of your teens." No. the point is you cannot judge a society by their teens, period. Teens are at developmentally at a stage where they have much less control and consider consequences much less than they will when they become adults. which is why I originally said "oh no, teenagers act like ... teenagers (shocker!!)" It had nothing to do with saying their actions of texting on shabbat or whatever was "okay", just a realization that teens often act in ways they shouldn't. You seem to accept it in your community, but deny it in others.

      "In terms of my disagreement with YidPoshut, first of all, you are a complete outsider and don’t know why think you are qualified to determine which one of us are right, especially as I am coming with firsthand knowledge, and he with secondhand knowledge." Actually, yidposhut said he first hand made phone calls to "rabbanim and askanim" (who would be in a position to know and would have no reason to embellish or lie) (statement against interest).

      You on the other hand said "I never saw or heard of ANYONE using them on Shabbos" which if honest merely establishes what you heard or saw, not what actually happens. I never heard or saw you, but your silly arguments make it clear to me that you exist. and that's only if you can be trusted; You have "skin in the game" you're trying to convince people the the "MODOX" are so bad, so it's in your interest to paint a picture that holds out your own teens differently; moreover, the way you conduct yourself - insult after insult, leads me question your integrity and honesty.

      to be cont.

      Delete
    5. Mekharker:

      (cont)

      "Now to your main point. If you are blaming this elusive mesora of adapting Judaism to fit with current secular society on Hillel Hazaken and R’ Yochanon ben Zakai, I feel vindicated. First of all, the takanos that they passed were NOT to conform with current secular values, and were to save strengthen Judaism, not to undo it! But even more importantly, no one has assumed such an authority for the last 2,000 years. The last ones who had the ability to pass decrees which were transformative in nature to Judaism were Chazal."
      Wrong on almost all counts. Hillel, RYBZ, and MANY MANY other great Jews throughout history HAVE been modifying JUDAISM as the world changes (more recently - BSH'T, any posek of the last 250 years since the start of the industrial revolution). It has not ceased. Yes, I agree it has been to strengthen Judaism and Not to undo it, but again you're just describing what Modern Orthodoxy is doing as well. Modern Orthodoxy is utilizing this true Mesora to Strengthen Judaism. As I keep saying it is the fear (charada) of change in the Chareidi camp that is stifling and choking that stream of Judaism to death. Again - you're not impostors, you're just scared, and I feel sad for you.

      And then, your final comment: you describe your community as: "a stream that is growing by leaps and bounds" it's reminiscent of something you wrote above in a comment on this blog post (8/22/22 6:17pm) "the explosive growth rate and success of chareidi society;" for some reason, you seem to think that women popping out babies somehow means that the Chareidi society is doing something right?!! I don't understand that at all. I've been saying all along that Chareidism is easier - It's Modern Orthodoxy that takes courage. having babies and marching to the beat of your own drum might increase numbers, but it doesn't make it right. sorry.

      One other point: you wrote to me on 8/21/22 8:44am "to bring ra’ayos from G-d making changes to implicate that we can change the Torah, I trust you are intelligent enough to appreciate is flat out ridiculous." First off, I never said change Torah. Secondly: it seems as if you don't want to learn from the lessons that G-d placed on the face of the Torah?? they're just a whole bunch of stories to you? I happen to think your contempt of and refusal to learn from what G-D handed down to us is tragically comical when at the same time you assert that you are the only one (in this conversation) in possession of the Mesora.

      Best wishes. when you can shake your fear, come and join the Courageous.

      Delete
    6. Jeffrey, I left you a response on the newest post (Slifkin is churning them out these days! Must be a quiet day at the museum!)

      Delete
  34. R' Slifkin, I am generally an admirer of yours, but I feel you are damaging the frum rationalist cause with your recent posts.

    Your opening paragraph could be lifted word for word into a defense of Conservative or Reform Judaism. Sure, Judaism "changes". As a practical matter this observation is fairly useless. The question is how Judaism changes, in what ways, and in response to which circumstances. What is your theory of what constitutes a legitimate "change" and what is the process for achieving one?

    The notion that the question of change in Judaism is related to your previous post is problematic in another way, by assuming that a woman wishing to sing in front of men is a new circumstance. Disliking a Halachic practice because it is out of sync with our secular sensibilities is not new, not by a long shot. I am reminded of Benjamin's sentiment in the first of R' Hirsch's Nineteen Letters, written almost two hundred years ago: "Why, it is quite impossible to keep these laws, intended for an entirely different age." New indeed.

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    1. I never connected the posts that way. I did not say that women singing should be permitted as a concession to changing times.

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    2. But that's how Moshehhhhh Lichtenstein, whom you quoted, begins his essay!

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    3. Twirler, I thought the first time you typed a few extra h's at the end of R' Lichtenstein's first name was a typo. Now that you have done it again, you have revealed yourself to be disrespectful. Do you mock people for atypical name spellings all the time? Especially when the person is a gadol baTorah (I'll say lower case gimmel) and extremely humble and thoughtful to others? Chutzpah.

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    4. It'd be interesting to know if deliberately misspelling someone's name in a mocking way falls into the category of derogatory nicknames, which Hazal came down pretty forcefully against.

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    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    6. @מכרכר
      This is Moshe A again,
      Rav Lichtenstein is really doing the same thing as seridei aish was doing, it's really probably at least partially a response to soldiers who leave in a huff when female soldiers sing and they have in common that they were responding to needs of the society in that way since he sees value in the army from a Torah perspective. Rav Ovadia Yosef said that the question of whether kol isha is dioraysa or dirabanan is dependent on whether safek dioraysa lechumra is dioraysa or dirabanan because there's a safek whether one will have hirhur which he understood like tosfos and rabenu yona to be dioraysa. So he clearly held that the underlying issue was the hirhur that comes from it (which, again, would make it similar to the arguments made regarding hair constituting erva not applying anymore or allowing one to walk behind a woman, both innovative psakim in recent generations against gmaras, you just don't like that he focused on a different perspective. Agav, there are those who have made a cogent argument that when the gmara says shok on a woman is erva, it actually refers to the calf and not the thigh (like chazon ish and not mishna brura) and there are those who explain why we still hold like mishna brura to only require covering the knee is because it's now so common to have the calf uncovered that it no longer causes hirhur. Many frum women do not do like chazon ish's chumra and do not fully cover their calves, thus we have basis to say that nowadays both shok and se'ar no longer cause hirhur, kol is the other thing mentioned in the same place in brachos.) The seridei aish had numerous controversial views, some of which became more famous than others and some became recognized legitimate halachic opinions to be relied upon. Many halachic figures historically had interesting, controversial views in various areas and for some reason it's okay as long as socially they were for whatever reason respected by the charedi community at large, how people think that they can be mevaze talmidei chochomim for having different sensitivities than themselves in certain areas sometimes leading to controversial views when at the same time they fully accept the Rambam's rules of what a jew must believe and have learned much Torah and quote Torah sources to support their approach (which one can obviously respectfully read differently) is beyond me and frankly despicable, one of the worst things that has become somewhat stereotypical charedi/ yeshivish behavior. Someone writes one thing that differs from your perspective on how to deal with modern phenomena and you can basically treat him as a heretic! I guess it started with certain rabbis/rebbes labeling people as heretics based on the fact that they interpret modern events differently from themselves but really according to netziv in his hakdama to chumash, this goes back to bayis sheni and the reason for the churban! People have complimented מכרכר for being different for his "point based arguments" instead of ad hominem, pejorative based attacks, I would say that his attacks on Rav Lichtenstein a צדיק לשמים טוב לבריות תלמיד חכם outweighs any "good aspects" of his comments (a point based argument would be something along the lines of explaining why you don't think his pshat was actually what rashba meant or pointing out that numerous rishonim indeed do say that kol isha refers to singing, like shulchan aruch himself, not your shameful shaming of talmidei chochomim due to their having slightly different sensitivities than yours)

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    7. The מ"ב and other others (including R. Lichtenstein) learn that it is אביזרייהו of לא תקרבו לגלות ערוותן

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    8. It seems like from the Mordechai that I quoted on the latest post that even if they were used to it is a problem

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    9. I hear you, what's getting at me is that I've never come across a Teshuva that's stated goal is to be matir due to new secular norms. Especially, as I'm trying to point out, that it's not as if he's trying to say that we should therefore paskin like a דעה יחידאה or a different psak than is customary. Those are most of the 'controversial' psakim that I'm used to. He's trying to create a shita out of thin air. But I will IYH be more respectful.

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    10. I personally know his brother RYAL and he is a very Choshuve TC.

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  35. It has long been noted that Sephardim are better at matching halacha with reality than Ashkenazim due to historical and cultural reasons.
    (E.g., pretending that glass absorbs ta'am, inventing "the three weeks", etc., etc.)

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    1. Absolutely correct. They viewed a malleability of halacha as necessary for Jewish survival, and the opposite as devastating to Jewish survival.

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    2. And in tandem, they have been generally better than ashkenazim in accepting the full spectrum of individuals of klal yisrael; those who are a little less traditional and those more. Asheknazim have more of a tendancy to throw out the less traditional from their camp with labels of kofrim, apikorsim etc. (read many of the many disturbing comments at this site), and because of this, those ashkenazim who have some rebellious curiosity are encouraged to go all the way. Sefardim have a much more nuanced and accepting approach, with a wide traditionalist base. Go into an ordinary sefardic shul for mincha on a given weekday, or shabbat morning, and see the full spectrum. Much more of a 'klal yisrael mentality' , which is certainly an ideal for any reasonably thinking Jew.

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    3. Orientalism and cherrypicking examples is not going to get you far. The grass is always greener in the neighbor's garden.
      How about these?
      -waiting six hours between meat and milk
      -considering all toys are muktseh
      -no bread exception for bishul akum
      etc...

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    4. I’m not saying we should all become sfardi but there is what to learn from their approach, and some truth indeed lies with them. And they are certainly not without learned ‘gedolim’ who seem to have a bit more self confidence to give innovative psak that is not automatically toward stringency.

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    5. @Smash, it's the other way around. Ashkenazim had/have more heretics and missionaries for heresy, which boomeranged/s into zealotry--the heretics the cause and the zealots the effect. While the Sefardim even when they sank out of religion retained whatever amount of faith, and their religious could be more tolerant.

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  36. Friendly SpelllcheckerAugust 23, 2022 at 8:18 AM

    "Only the great figures of antiquity such as Chazal had the more to enact change" -- I think "more" is a typo.

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  37. Mecharcar- There are many positive elements in "secular" society. Many emanating from the Judeo-Christian heritage.As per R. S.R. Hirsch,R.J.B.Soloveitchik, and others. You have fabricated this "secular society" monolithic enemy of traditonal Judaism.

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  38. Mecarcare, August 23,22 at 4:31 A.M..It's Rabbi Moshe Lichtenstein in civil society!

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    1. This is a holdover of crazy McCracker from last comment thread:

      http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2022/08/can-my-daughter-sing.html?showComment=1660583378151#c7367346470348788174

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  39. Menachem Kellner wrote a book on this topic called "Maimonides on the "Decline of the Generations" and the Nature of Rabbinic Authority" (SUNY Series in Jewish Philosophy) (Suny Series, Jewish Philosophy) - it is worth reading and talks about this topic

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  40. This reminds me of your own post about techieles here:
    http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2014/01/why-people-dont-wear-techeles.html?m=1
    In that one you show how you aren't willing to change until it catches on. Wondering if that is the approach lechumra of wearing techieles, should that approach apply lekulah of women singing.

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  41. 'they are saying that Judaism cannot rise to the challenges of the era.

    That's a pretty terrible and devastating thing to say.'

    This has been true throught our history. I accept it. It's not likely to change.

    at August 22, 2022

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