127 Comments

Firstly , thank you for finally putting out that not all Chareidim fall under 1 umbrella. Secondly I think you could maybe learn from this disagreement how to respectfully disagree with other Rabbonim instead of being downright condescending. It would do a great deal for your reputation amongst those you speak against.

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Quotes from this post:

"The response of the American charedi Gedolei Torah to the March for Israel rally... created a lot of upset."

"Rav Aharon Feldman’s infamous letter "

"it makes rabbis and the Judaism that they represent look ridiculous."

"Subsequently, R. Whitman released another recording, very long and repetitive, in which he tries to save himself from the backlash that occurred after his first talk"

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From Page 11 of R Eiseman's article: "However, by Wednesday, people started (most were not even present at the Event) to quote to me that so and so said not to go, and the "WhatsApp" recordings were alive and viral with claims and counterclaims condemning and condoning the Event- and suddenly, the end of that sentence crept into my mind. "Halo L'Mishma Ozen Da'Ava Nafsheinu"- "The words my ears now hear cause my soul to be distressed and pained." The "hok", the tumult, the accusations, and counter-accusations had begun in earnest. With all the post-event tumult, I felt that nothing was gained and much was lost. I took ill on Wednesday and crept alone with my thoughts into my bed. Yet, respite from the "fallout" was not to be. The Frum world seemed more consumed with the latest developments on the tumult on Yeshiva World News than with the hostages' plight. What was a day of connecting with fellow Jews had become a tumult of "my Rebbe said this, and your Rebbe said that."

Suddenly, the hostages no longer mattered.

The murdered Jews no longer mattered.

All that mattered was the "hok," the tumult, the gossip.

And that made me sick, lonely, and frightened."

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There are other rabbi's that were pro rally. There is a Rav of a very large Shul in Flatbush who told his kehila to go and went himself. On the bus on the way there the news from the Moetzes Gedolim his first step was to announce to the bus that he disagreed. If anyone feels uncomfortable it is on his (the rav's) head. Next, he called Rav Brudney and got him to issue a partial retraction. (If you already left it's ok) Unfortunately, this Rav got push-back and requested his name not be made public because he does not want to deal with the fallout. Which is a shame. Very likely there are others as well.

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Back when I was a senior at MTA (YU's boys' high school), our rebbe (who had additional responsibilities as a dean of one of YU's graduate schools) would be out once a week and a semikha student named David Hirsch would substitute. (R' Hirsch is now a YU rosh yeshiva himself.) So one day we were learning- I recall it was hilkhot aveilut- and R' Hirsch casually said, "Rav Soloveitchik holds..." etc.

A week later, R' Hirsch said, in relation to something related, "Rav Chaim says..." etc.

"But rebbe!" we called out. "Last week you said the Rav said X, and it's the opposite view if you think about it!"

"Nu, so the Rav argues with R' Chaim."

"But he's his own *grandfather*!"

"Well, R' Chaim is an Acharon and the Rav is an Acharon."

That blew me away at the time. Growing up, we were of course taught the whole "An Amora doesn't argue on a Tanna, a Gaon doesn't argue on an Amora, etc." formula. (Of course, that's not really true itself, but leave that aside.) But we had a hard time thinking that we weren't living in our own era. The Torah Umesorah chart on the wall of Acharonim ended with the Chafetz Chaim, and we thought we were in something new. (This is hardly limited to Judaism- for example, technologically we're still technically in the Iron Age but no one thinks we are, and I can think of other examples.)

But no: We're still in the era of Acharonim. (Indeed, if the past is anything to go by, the era will probably have been over for centuries before we recognize that fact.) A modern posek has a "right" to argue with, say, the Vilna Gaon. He will, if he's any good, do so only very carefully and respectfully and only if he's sure of himself, but he has the *right*.

Now, obviously, we're not all Rav Soloveitchiks that we can casually argue a halakhic point with R' Chaim. (Although R' Schachter often talks of the obligation of people who are convinced they correct to argue even with such gedolim. Then again, he may be speaking from *his* perspective.) But you know what? Lots of non-gedolim out there have a good practical knowledge of the Jewish people, of Israel, of Zionism, and so on far above the level of the "gedolim." And I'll take their word first.

When Chabad publishes books breathlessly describing how Israeli politicians consulted with the Rebbe on military and political matters, I'm not encouraged. (I also don't really believe they're true, but let's say they are.) I don't *want* that happening. When people speak in awe about how R' Soloveitchik demanded an official inquiry into Sabra and Shatilla, ditto. Not his call, no, and not his place.

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Nov 23, 2023·edited Nov 23, 2023

Reading these last few posts of yours -- I come away with the idea that charedim are simply an embattled group, mainly in Israel. Like almost any embattled group, they bristle at criticism. They rebuff anyone condemning for being insincere, or self serving.

I am an American, and this reminds me a bit of groups here that feel embattled. Black Americans, and lately, Jewish Americans.

Because I am a free speech maximalist, I enjoy your take on the topics you cover. I think it a powerful and trenchant critique - your take on charedi narratives -- which simply put, are designed to serve the group. I've never been much of a group think type or a conformist - so I generally don't want to see critics squelched, period.

Living in NYC, I find it amazing how important it has become to quash criticisms of Israel, and even of Jews.

Let it be known: I am very Zionistic! I believe Palestinians should be sent packing, for better futures in a dozen other countries. Like all refugees before them. I think Gaza and the WB should be cleared of Palestinians! Like 100 million refugees after WWII, they should be resettled, never to return.

But, I have zero problem with people finding Israel the villain, or Jews the villain. Touching a hair on a Jew's head is a police matter - but almost all speech is constitutionally protected.

Don't let the squirts that squirm when you criticize them influence you. You have a right to see things as you see them. So do they. Let free speech open doors to better conversations. They almost always follow the wild howling and bellowing that immediately follow tragic dates like 10/7.

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you are still worried what the players in the team you weren't allowed to join are thinking.

leave them alone and concentrate on learning.

what these people think or do is their problem not yours

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Knock knock:

Who's there?

Natan.

Natan who?

Natan Slifkin! haha

get it? Because hes a joke, but he's not funny

(Official troll account. Mushroom calzone)

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Thank you reb beryl for expressing my thoughts.

For the public: many, many people feel this way and while obviously it is in no way as reason to change communities - we're still the best there is - but hopefully more insiders will wake up and figure out how to fix these glaring issues

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Whilst I very much appreciate Rabbi Whitman and his Torah, I think it is important to point that to the best of my knowledge he is not a Maggid Shiur in the Mir. He gives the Shiur in his apartment and I do not believe his Shiur was ever officially registered in the Mir (or at least since I heard about it). I was in his Shiur for a brief period and during that period the Rosh Yeshivah specifically tried to force the Shiur away from the Mir (not allowing seats in the Beis HaMedrash etc); famously he gives Shiur from his smartphone - something which obviously isn't accepted in the Mir and for many years now he has been sending emails and speaking out vigorously against the Charedi community.

Just to re-iterate I have much respect for Rabbi Whitman and he is undoubtedly a major Talmid Chacham, however I just wanted to clarify that this is not a case of an insider speaking out, but rather something already on the outside speaking out.

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If I see another post about this, I'm goin' bananas!

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The second, longer recording of Rabbi Whitman is extremely important (especially towards the end in which he differentiates between Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz And Rav Berl Soloveichick in their disagreement) in understanding Chareidi controversies, and what the real Mesores Yeshivos is. Thanks for sharing.

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If no one has mentioned it yet. Rav R.Y. Eisenman does not even seem to be Charedi. His essay was very erudite and I began to wonder about his background. His main Smicha is from YU and Rav Lichtenstein at Har Etzion. Certainly not Charedi institutions. I have vistited Ahavas Yisrael a few times. It has Charedi members; but it also has a very large contingent of centrist Orthodox members. And I'd also be willing to bet it has a few families that are Open-Orthodox. It's very much a big tent schul.

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Nov 23, 2023·edited Nov 23, 2023

Reading comments, about how criticism works in Orthodox Judaism - what is permissible criticism, what is forbidden - I am reminded of a Mormon I know. I did some business with him, not knowing him at all. We got to talking. He was a gay, very well off lawyer. He was young. He had a boyfriend at his law firm - they were thinking about marriage and children. He told me that it mattered to him to live near a major Mormon church, but then said he was no longer a Mormon. I asked why live near the biggest Mormon church in town? He said that all of his friends were still very active in the church. He had been raised Mormon in Utah, and many were in NYC now. I asked him if it was an issue that he was gay? He said it was not. Why? Because he LEFT the church. He did not try to criticize or change the church. His friendships would have been imperiled if he had done that. By leaving, he was "playing by" some unspoken set of rules. He could keep his friends, and they could keep him as a friend.

I don't think OJ plays by the precise same rules. I get the sense leaving is frowned upon, and may lead to social distancing. But, I can't help but see: all systems have as their prime directive the idea of survival. Every rule is built to sustain the system. Every one who abides the rules does so, perhaps unwittingly, because the system must continue.

Rules are what the Enlightenment called in to question. Freud came from another angle and called in to question our motives and drives. Jews were important to the advent of modernity. - they were unafraid to "lift the lid," in all areas. But, this kind of Jew - who thought outside the box - could destabilize and cause the system to crash.

The young Church of Mormon gets this. I think all mass movements and religions get this. I remember a character in Bonfire of the Vanities -- a Wasp - saying something about the way to keep Wasp culture in NYC? "Insulate, insulate, insulate..." It's a common theme.

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Nov 23, 2023·edited Nov 23, 2023

As a Mancunian, you might be interested to know that R Whitman is the step-son of Reb Lipa Rabinowitz z"l.

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My sentences r short and I write in parallel with learning.

All therapy is a complete waste of time.

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