A Positive Force
It occurred to me that before proceeding further with my critique of Mishpachah's Kolmus supplement, I should clarify some things about Mishpachah in general. Make no mistake about it: in the general battles over the issues of concern to readers of this website, Mishpachah is very much one of the good guys. That's not to say that I agree with what they write (in fact, they once printed something about me that was so appallingly bad, it was actually funny). But in terms of engineering a revolution in the charedi world, Mishpachah has enormous positive effect.
Beneath the black hat, Mishpachah is part of a revolution in charedi society. They print articles from Jonathan Rosenblum about how the Gedolim are manipulated by kanna'im to do harmful things, and about how the desire to have young men supported in kollel has led to money being the most important factor in shidduchim. They feature interviews with all kinds of people who would never be profiled in Yated or HaModia (although I'm not expecting them to feature me ever again!) The Hebrew edition of Mishpachah recently discussed, very positively, all the new programs to help charedim enter the workforce. Furious condemnations from the Gedolim followed, after which Mishpachah offered a profuse apology. But a wise friend of mine reckoned that they knew in advance that they would have to do this, but felt that it was worthwhile in order to get the information out there.
Is Mishpachah having an effect? I think so. Just look at how many horrified letters appear all the time! (My personal favorite is from a reader who was appalled at the description of Ramchal as a playwright; the reader insisted that Ramchal was a mekubal who used theater to spread kabbalistic teachings.) The hardcore charedim are furious with Mishpachah, but it's too successful for them to do anything about it; Mishpachah already put the Jewish Observer out of business.
(At this point, I have to share a funny story. When the ban on my books came out, I spoke to Rabbi Nisson Wolpin, editor of the Jewish Observer, with whom I was very friendly. He said, "As soon as I saw you on the cover of Mishpachah this summer, I knew that "they" would come after you!")
Some people are so frustrated with problems in the Orthodox community that they can only think of addressing these problems with a sledgehammer, which inevitably means that their campaign is entirely ineffective. But the path of Mishpachah - staying within the charedi framework, while gently and apologetically getting a new message across - is likely to be far more effective. I wish them great success!