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Nov 17, 2023·edited Nov 17, 2023

It's complicated. I had the merit to get a car ride together with a Rov who is part of the Agudah leadership a few years ago (not from the actual Mo'etzes, but the Agudah has a roster of renowned community Rabbonim who are involved in an influential way). This was shortly after the Novominsker Rebbe was nifter and he explained to me that the Agudah was finding itself increasingly less relevant. Whereas up until the 90s and early 2000s there were many shuls and Yidden who affiliated with the Agudah, due to the mass migration to Lakewood, that was quickly dying down. The Lakewood Roshei Yeshiva made it clear to the Agudah many years ago that they do not want Agudah shuls opening up in Lakewood, they felt it would detract from the flavor of the community they were trying to build. (Obviously by now Lakewood is so big that it's a hefkervelt and everyone can do whatever the heck they want, but they probably still do not want to tamper with the status quo).

This was creating a huge issue, where the largest and fastest growing community in the US felt no affinity to the Agudah, whereas places that had previously been bastions of Agudah supporters were slowly thinning out. Therefore, in a bid to pander to a wider base, the Agudah took the bold step of adding a whole bunch of leading Lakewood Rabbonim. If the desired effect was that the Lakewood community should become 'Agudists' en masse, then this gambit did not accomplish its goal. But I believe that it did lead people from the Lakewood community to take statements and positions from the Mo'etzes Gedolei Hatorah more seriously. So in place of an organization that sees itself as THE voice for Chareidi Jewry in the US being completely alienated and estranged from the largest frum community in the US, they did manage to regain some relevance for themselves.

However, as the Agudah is finding out, it's going to be extremely hard to try to appeal to the old-time New York baalebatishe Agudist and the new generation of Lakewood Yeshiva community at the same time.

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Nosson, did you write this letter? How many times have you predicted the end of the chareidi world in the past 15 years? 50? 100? It will never happen! Am Yisrael Chai! People like you who are trying to promote secularism and kefira will descend to Hell, and we will remain.

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This letter actually deals with a serious issue and identifies it properly as opposed to other complaints that are commonly seen here. I always say this blog would be worth more if this was the focus.

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Nov 17, 2023·edited Nov 17, 2023

It's not really an aguda problem. It's a 'community' problem. Most issues deserve different responses for different communities. For someone in Lakewood who is living a very lofty torah life, things that need internet should be treif, hence 24/6. But that is for a very, very specific demographic. For most people it's okay and even a good thing. The rabonim of those people would allow. But Lakewood or the aguda r putting out massive statements about small things that depend wholly on the constituents. Of course internet is not a good thing but most people absolutely need it and we can't put out statements now about 24/6 being an issue for that broader community.

This is not actually an issue because the Lakewood rabonim are talking to their followers, kol hakavod. But in this age, it travels as if it's for all of klal yisroel (and the kanaim make them sound like they really are) and it just ends up looking off.

I can go on but I think my point is clear

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The following anonymous letter has also been circulating:

Dear Agudah Yid,

I write to you as someone who considers himself an “Pro-Israel” even if I missed the rally due to pressing mental health issues! You should be aware that there is not a neat division between "Lakewood" and "Smiling Chilled Baltimore Agudah People Who Wear Black Hats". Rather, there is spectrum. And on the spectrum, people respect each other. Rav Olshin respects Rav Heineman. Rav Shlomo Miller respects Rav Reisman. Nobody respects Shlomo Riskin. So take a chill pill.

Signed,

Chilled Yeshivish Agudah guy

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It seems this letter writer is a bit naive, thinking that the Moetzes always agreed to each other. This is not the first time that members of the moetzes disagreed with each other, so they didn't release any official statement.

Agudah did the right thing. They did not endorse, nor condemn, the rally, and let everyone follow the Rabbanin they'd like

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Its not a crises. Is the kav/gush divide a crisis in Israel? Ppl will go their seperate hashkafic ways and thats it. Its only a crisis for those who see some ideal in an umbrella chareidi position.

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Anything similar happening in Israel?

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This "letter" is a very poorly disguised attempt to promote modern orthodoxy and the OU, under the guise of pretending to come from an Agudah guy. One has to have the brains of a mollusk not to see through this.

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Natan, why was this important letter anonymous? Is intimidation in the Adidas community so overpowering that any constructive criticism must be anonymous? This bodes badly.

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A decent letter overall, but I do take issue with the line that nobody questions the greatness of the "Gedolim" on Fakewood. There are absolutely a number of people who, particularly following their issuance of their abhorrent Kol Koreh, absolutely do - and it's a long time coming for the Erev Rabbanim in question.

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Looks like my comment didn't show so I. will try again

Nosson, did you write this? How many times have you predicted the end of the chareidi world in the past 18 years? 50? 100? It will never happen! Am Yisrael Chai! Kofrim like you who are trying to promote secularism and kefira will descend to Hell, and we will remain!

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It seems this letter writer is a bit naive, thinking that the Moetzes always agreed to each other. This is not the first time that members of the moetzes disagreed with each other, so they didn't release any official statement.

Agudah did the right thing. They did not endorse, nor condemn, the rally, and let everyone follow the Rabbanin they'd like

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"there is no member of the Modern Orthodox world on your Moetzes despite there being many great Talmidei Chachamim among them"

In the 20th century, Rabbi Dr. Leo Jung and Rabbi Dr. Joseph Soloveitchik were members. That was a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.

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The letter (from a Lakewood resident) is not fully in touch with Lakewood (and its surrounding towns). There is a large minority of residents that are more Agudish than Lakewood Yeshivish or are somewhere inbetween. Granted that many people in Lakewood are not much affiliated with Agudah, but not everyone is so far from that world view presented in the article. I suppose the writer lives in one of the areas of his type, as there are plenty of neighborhoods...but he is not presenting an accurate view of all residents, including surrounding towns, and their world views.

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As an early millennial, I think this message resonates with the older generation more than my own, at least from the narrow perspective of a Brooklyn-Lakewood yeshiva graduate. After my post-graduate degree, it's hard to relate to my younger self anymore. But the Moetzos/Agudah actions do not deviate from my "deepest convictions"; on the contrary! Rather DESPITE my reservations, even disgust, with their position, I still instinctively, viscerally defend their position when challenged. I'm not sure why. It seems my foundational Jewish identity was carved in Gadol bedrock; any challenge is reflexively parried. Millennial/postmellennial yeshiva graduates of my type are probably far from the majority of the Agudah following demographic. Many of similar background surely differ from my experience. Perhaps there are many others like me, uncomfortably but deeply wedged into my right wing base. I'm curious if anyone else can relate. Convictions is the wrong word, though; most strong convictions of my youth have dried up, unreplaced. But deep I am within the Moetzos mindset, for better or for worse. This one was hard to take though...

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