The previous post discussed Jonathan Rosenblum's call for charedim to think about the need for secular studies and professional employment. In the comments to Rosenblum's article on Cross-Currents, Rabbi Barak Saffer raises an interesting point:
Who is this article being addressed to? Anglo-Israeli Chareidim? It seems that most Anglo-Israeli Chareidim have these same questions but those that choose to stay within institutionalized chareidi society realize that being part of Chareidi society in Israel means relying on the Gedolim. There is no doubt that HaGaon Rav Shteinman is smart enough to have thought of the issues raised by President Rivlin and Jonathan Rosenblum... What you should be doing if you really want to accomplish something is go and meet with Rav Shteinman and ask him these questions. If you get a meeting then maybe you would be able to publish his plan for the future of Chareidi society... Bottom line, what is your goal in writing such articles, over and over again. Who are you addressing?
Rabbi Saffer is, of course, entirely correct, within the framework of modern chareidi society. The modern chareidi concept of Daas Torah and the Gedolim is that they are certainly wise enough to understand all the issues facing us. If they decide that the economic collapse of the charedi world, and its increasing effect on the entire country, is a problem to be solved via secular education and professional employment, then they will say so; if not, then obviously they do not feel it should be addressed in this way. From the perspective of contemporary charedi values - which one would reasonably assume is the framework within which Jonathan Rosenblum and Mishpacha are operating - it is simply inconceivable that there should be a catastrophic situation of which the Gedolim are entirely unaware and are not fixing (and are even making worse!).
However, Rosenblum already preempted this objection a few weeks ago. He subtly pointed out that the notion of the Gedolim as being phenomenally wise leaders who are "doubtless smart enough to have thought of the issues" is neatly contradicted by factual history. There was a woman - a woman! - who perceived the most important issue facing Am Yisrael, and it was something that the Gedolim had not realized. To quote Rosenblum:
Sarah Schenirer. From here
"Today, the Bais Yaakov system is so embedded at the heart of the Torah community that it is hard for the current generation to begin to appreciate the revolutionary nature of Sarah Schenirer's movement... Yet Rabbi Chaskel Sarna, the late Rosh Yeshiva of Chevron Yeshiva, once said to an audience of gedolei Torah and roshei yeshiva that the person who had done more for Am Yisrael than anyone else is the preceding hundred years was none of their ancestors, and had never even learned a single blatt Gemara. Everyone present laughed until he revealed the name of the person about whom he was speaking: Sarah Schenirer. At which point, all agreed. True, she convinced the Chofetz Chaim and the Imrei Emes of Gerrer to join her revolution, but she was the one who saw the need that had escaped others: For the young women of her native Cracow, Yiddishkeit had become an empty shell that they were eager to abandon. Had matters been left to head in the same direction there would soon have been no Jewish women left eager, or even willing, to marry a Torah scholar. A radical change in women's learning was needed to preserve Torah itself.
I wonder how many people realize that Sarah Schenirer is lethal to the contemporary view of Daas Torah and Gedolim?