Secular Talmud II

 

Guest post by R. Alan Haber

Rabbi Alan Haber is one of the founders and Directors of Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim (MMY). He has been involved in women’s education full-time for over twenty years.

Dr. Ruth Calderon’s inaugural address to the Knesset last week has gone viral on YouTube. Nine days after being posted, it has already received close to 180,000 views.[1] The speech is entirely in Hebrew, and there are no subtitles on the video. I therefore deduce that the great majority of the 180,000 people who watched it were Israelis.

It’s worth asking what it was about this speech that Israelis found so remarkable. When I ponder that, I come to very different conclusions than those expressed in Gil’s post earlier this week. I am not going to argue with Gil’s impressive analysis of the Talmudic sources regarding a talmid she-eino hagun and learning she-lo li-shmah. I believe that his interpretation of those sources is absolutely correct. But applying them to this case shows a misunderstanding of contemporary Israeli society.

From afar, today’s Israel may seem overwhelmingly secular and (as Gil put it) shallow. Even the secular Zionists who built the state, although they were militantly anti-religious, were at least dedicated to their ideology and to building a country. But today’s society, by contrast, is often portrayed as increasingly post-Zionist, self-absorbed, materialistic and empty of values. Particularly, watching the Israeli media (the part of Israel most visible to those outside the country), one can be forgiven for believing that most Israelis care much more about what is currently going on in the “Big Brother” reality TV show than they do about Torah or the Jewish people.[2]

However, if you scratch the surface just a little bit, you see a very different story. Leaving aside the fact that the percentage of Israelis who are religious or at least closely affiliated with religion is much, much higher than anywhere else in the Jewish world (has anyone noticed that as many as one out of every three members of the new Knesset is religious??), even the so-called “secular” population is a lot less secular than meets the eye.

If one judges only by actual halachic observance, then indeed a significant percentage of Israelis are secular (or, to use the Israeli term, chilonim). But although the media doesn’t show it, many of these “secular” people are actually very connected to their Jewishness and even to Torah – much more so than the average American Jew, for example. Secular Israelis study Tanach and Jewish history, recognize all Jewish holidays, hike the length and breadth of Eretz Yisrael, and view their country as the State of the Jewish People. More to the point, many of them are thirsting to be even more connected and are constantly looking for opportunities to be learn more. In fact, a number of months ago, I wrote a blog post documenting an amazing but little-known example of this phenomenon, the “Selichot Tours” that attract thousands of secular Israelis to Jerusalem every night during Elul and Aseret Ymei Teshuva. Dr. Calderon herself is one of the primary leaders of this renewal movement. She founded the first “Secular Bet Midrash” in Jerusalem, and a few years later, founded an institute for Jewish studies in Tel Aviv (which today has branches in other cities as well), and made reference to this in her speech as well.

As a religious person who studies Torah daily, and refers to it every evening with the phrase Ki Hem Chayyenu v’Orech Yamenu, I share Gil’s hesitation (and perhaps even suspicion) about those who study Torah but are not willing (at least not yet) to follow all of its dictates. Yet at the same time, we must recognize that Dr. Calderon and the movement she leads do not (as some may think) study Talmud and Jewish texts for purely intellectual or cultural reasons. For Dr. Calderon, the study of Talmud is not equivalent to English literature, Chinese history or any other field of study at the university. She approaches it not as a detached academic, but rather as a passionate Jew who wants to (in her own words) “reclaim that which is ours”.

In an interview six years ago, she said “I do not wish to be a spectator on the world of religion – I want to participate in it.” And in last week’s Knesset speech she described the Torah as “a gift that every one of us received, and we have all been granted the opportunity to meditate upon it as we create the realities of our lives.” And she ended her speech with a tefillah to Hashem asking Him to bless her efforts in the Knesset on behalf of the Jewish people.

Indeed, she and other like her violate halacha on a daily basis, and do not believe it to be binding on them. Is this situation ideal? Far from it. Does such a movement perhaps even pose a danger to Torah? Perhaps. But in the big picture, this is a truly blessed phenomenon. As the Midrash (Eicha Rabba, Petichta) says, “Halevay Oti Azavu v’Torati Shamaru” – “If only they would (even) abandon Me (i.e., cease to observe the commandments) as long as they preserve My Torah.” Why is this so? The Midrash goes on to explain that it is because ultimately, we believe in the power of the Torah itself. Those who study it out of genuine love will eventually be enlightened by it and come to accept it.

So I suppose, like Gil, I also see the dilemma. But if it is a choice between an Israeli society that studies Torah out of a genuine for these texts to be a guiding force (even if not yet the entire authoritative basis) of their lives, or the type of Jewishly ignorant assimilated Jew typical in the Diaspora, there is no question in my mind which is better.


[1] By contrast, the speech given by Yair Lapid, the head of Calderon’s Yesh Atid party who led the campaign that brought 19 new MKs into the Knesset, was also posted on YouTube and got less than 15,000 views.
[2] Truth be told, even many religious Israelis share this conception of their secular counterparts. Dr. Calderon made this point herself in the speech when she acknowledged that many in her secular community often believe that haredim are wasting their time studying archaic texts and aren’t contributing anything to the Jewish People. She then pointed out that those very haredim often “feel that they are carrying the entire burden of Jewish culture and tradition on their shoulders while we are going to the beach and enjoying life”. She enjoined both sides to recognize the value of what the other is doing, and to learn from one another. Statements like this showing respect for Yeshiva studies, coming from a secular politician, should certainly be welcome.

 

Share this Post

 

Related Posts

About the author

 
The opinions and facts here are presented solely by the author. Torah Musings assumes no responsibility for them. Please address religious questions to your rabbi.
 

84 Responses

  1. IH says:

    At Limmud NY on Monday, Tova Birnbaum, representing BINA, spoke of their mission as: Limmud, Asiya and Kehila. While it started off being only intellectual, it increasingly is exploring a spiritual aspect as well – primarily centered on celebrating Chagim.

    After I got home, I found this Jerusalem Post article on the latter aspect: http://www.jpost.com/LandedPages/PrintArticle.aspx?id=240892. Perhaps that will be of help those who didn’t attend to contextualize the issues.

  2. Jonathan Ziring says:

    Agree with you completely, Rabbi Haber. I gave a brief shiur on the topic and Rabbi Baruch Weintraub pointed out the following article by R. Neriah Gutel who suggests that the whole category of Talmud She’eino Hagun is time contingent, and what is proper depends on the generation. http://www.orot.ac.il/publications/educational-articles/DocLib/%D7%94%D7%99%D7%9C%D7%9B%D7%AA%20%D7%94%D7%92%D7%99%D7%A0%D7%95%D7%AA%20%D7%94%D7%AA%D7%9C%D7%9E%D7%99%D7%93.pdf Also, the position of the Shulchan Aruch HaRav is especially important, as it the position of the Aruch HaShulchan. He cites both, I believe. The Aruch HaShulchan responds to Gil’s point – and applies a distinction vis a vis shelo lishma that Gil did not – the distinction between likanter and not. While Gil may be correct that they are not learning laasot in the classic sense, it seems definitely not to be likanter.

  3. DH says:

    Thank you for posting this thoughtful response, Gil.

  4. Yitzchak says:

    I think the definition of secular talmud needs to be further defined. I do not find it easy to distinguish between Lomdus and secular talmud. I understand that if you ask a Yeshiva student whether learning talmud is heilig he will say yes. But I do not believe that most bochurim really believe their learning lomdushe pshatim or areas of Torah like tumah and taharah will change their worldview or outlook on life or behaviour – which in my definition would be secular talmud, or maybe even less. I assume most academics that learn talmud do so with the intention of understanding talmud as a worldview of a believing Jew, as a real system of law that a frum Jew will abide by, even if they themselves do not believe in it.

  5. Rafi says:

    In case anyone missed this, here is some further kiddush ha-Shem from Dr. Calderon.

  6. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Thank you for setting the record straight. Orthodox Jewish Americans, who are so used to narrowly defining “orthodoxy”, have a very tough time wrapping their heads around the breadth and depth of religious life here. This is exhibited quite clearly the uninformed closing line of Rabbi Student’s piece on this issue: “In the end, I can’t object to a secular yeshiva because Israeli society is so shallow that even a little religion, even if subversive, is a blessing.”

  7. Shlomo says:

    But I do not believe that most bochurim really believe their learning lomdushe pshatim or areas of Torah like tumah and taharah will change their worldview or outlook on life or behaviour – which in my definition would be secular talmud, or maybe even less.

    You are asking too much. Learning the laws of tzedakah or business ethics should indeed affect your worldview and character. Compare that to, say, parah adumah, which according to Chazal does not not have an intelligible explanation. If you can’t understand parah adumah, why would you expect learning it to improve your character? And yet learning it is still valuable, either because you hope to practice it someday and need to know how, or simply because “It is Torah and I need to learn it”. The same justifications would apply to contemporary yeshiva bachurim. Their religious outlook may be incomplete, but what they call “Torah lishmah” does in fact have a solid positive value in Jewish tradition, regardless of the fact that it’s not the *only* thing that matters.

  8. Shlomo says:

    Not to mention the fact that from what I have seen of yeshiva bachurim (and I am mostly speaking of dati leumi, and to a lesser extent of American YU-types), in most cases they make a great effort to work on their middot, on average much more than the society surrounding them. Whatever the exact chain of causation here, it suggests that their study should not be described as “secular”.

  9. Perry Zamek says:

    Rabbi Haber,
    I too was concerned about Rabbi Student’s response to Dr. Calderon’s speech – you have suggested an alternative approach that is closer to my own feelings. The advent of “secular” yeshivot, studying Talmud (and other Jewish sources) because *they are “ours”* is, in my view, a welcome development. Too often, I get the feeling that the Orthodox world looks down on the “chiloni” world for its lack of learning, yet at the same time views any learning they do as not being of significant value. R. Student questions, for example, the fact that the secular learning focuses on the stories, or the aggadata, rather than the halacha, in the Talmud. I would argue that, on the contrary, we should be concerned about the Orthodox yeshiva world, that tends to ignore aggadata, or skim over it in favor of halachic portions of the Talmud, believing that there is nothing that can be learned from it in terms of midot. “Afilu sichat chulin shel chachamim tzricha limud.”

  10. Mark says:

    Oy, what I would pay to read the same people’s comments if a Knesset member from Agudah would have gotten up to speak with a dusty old tome in his hands… and cited a Gemara about, say, מאי אהנו לן רבנן, לדידהו קרו

    Oh, them with their archaic quotes that nobody cares about… blah, blah.

    We’re not textual, we’re mimetic. blah, blah, blah.

    go to the army instead of wasting your time with such hateful divisiveness blah.

  11. Hirhurim says:

    Perry Zamek: R. Student questions, for example, the fact that the secular learning focuses on the stories, or the aggadata, rather than the halacha, in the Talmud

    Where???

  12. Hoffa Araujo says:

    Mark – right on target with your comments above.

    Yiyasher kocachem!

  13. ses says:

    thanks for posting this, gil

  14. anonymous says:

    Oh come on…all these Israelis watched the tape because they enjoysed seeing a woman and a secular woman at that preach using the charedim’s own currency. They enjoyed watching how she handled the show- off from Shas. There is a hysteical anti charedi bubble that is growing daily all over the Jewish world. It’s payback time for all the condescenscion and bullying that has emanated from the religious sector all these years. How else can you explain the latest poll where an untested politician Yair Lapid is supposed to get thirty seats and become the largest party in the Knesset if the country were forced to hold another election? How else do you explain the chutzpah of a RZ like Bennet defying his own rabbis and insisting on drafting all the charedim. The anti charedi sentiment is apparent on the internet to a point where there is no longer any discussions…Satmar, the Agudah, chasidim all branded as unacceptable, immoral, backward not by secular Jews but by those who shomer mitvot. Gil Student gets buried for saying something that would have commonplace ten years ago.It’s like many speculative bubbles… it’s one sided, lacks balance and will not arrive at a new equilibrium point easily.

  15. IH says:

    anonymous — or, perhaps the bubble is the one the Charedi velt has created over the past 20 years — one sided, lacks balance and will not arrive at a new equilibrium point easily.

  16. IH says:

    When my father was growing up, the Sadigura rebbe’s shul was just off Sderot Rothschild right alongside, and integrated into, Tel-Aviv society. My parents were married jointly by the Sadigura and Rav Goren. Hayu yamim. With time we’ll return to that type of Achdut, but there will be a bumpy road to get there. Shabbat Shalom u’Mevorach.

  17. Hoffa Araujo says:

    anonymous – that’s because all of the talk of drafting chareidim is not about “equality”, since the IDF is not making any moves to accomodate chareidim into their ranks, but to destroy cheredim culture and bring it to its knees. This is like using the IDF to force acculturation.

    So Lapid is striking a “blow” for non-chareidim and its nothing to do with fairness. I write this as somebody who would have no problem with chareidim who are not learning and are “batteling” to go in the IDF and become productive members of society.

  18. Hirhurim says:

    Hoffa: I actually agree somewhat. I’m in favor of all Charedim being drafted into the IDF but not if the IDF won’t make accommodations. The first time Charedim are forced to listen to a woman soldier sing, there will be mass civil disobedience within the IDF ranks.

  19. Steve Brizel says:

    IH-thanks for the fascinating link to BINA.

  20. Steve Brizel says:

    Anonymous-I would tend to agree with your comments, but as one who thinks that not every Charedi yungerman should be learning full time, and not every RZ young person should serve in the IDF , the issue cries out for nuance and rethinking of old positions by all -Charedi, DL and secular-simply because the ideologically tinged POVs don’t address the issues of today-which are far more complex than whether every Charedi male serves in the IDF.Issues such as manpower, and whether Charedim can be welcomed into the workplace , etc while retaining their identity, are part of this equation.

  21. Hoffa Araujo says:

    Reb Gil – the problem, and I discussed it with RY, who lives in EY and who served in the IDF, is that those who are pushing for a draft without conditions are not prepared to make those changes.

    Yonason Rosenblum, who for many here is a Chareidi hack/apologist, has a nice nuanced opinion piece on it in this week’s Mishpacha Mag.

  22. Nachum says:

    “RZ like Bennet defying his own rabbis and insisting on drafting all the charedim”

    1. They are not Bennett’s “own rabbis.” They don’t much like him.

    2. Since he’s not a charedi, he doesn’t believe in da’at torah. He (and any modern Orthodox Jew) is under no obligation to listen to any rabbanim, whether his “own” or not, on non-halachic matters.

    All this talk of “accommodating” charedim in the army is a smokescreen. They don’t want to serve because they don’t approve of the state, period. That and, of course, it’s much safer and easier not to.

    Anonymous, Steve, Gil, Hoffa (and Jonathan Rosenblum)- it’s very easy to talk about how this is all “hysterical” and anti-charedi, and to speak about “accommodations” and how “it’s not for everyone” if, you know, you aren’t responsible for national defense, or one’s own kids aren’t serving.

  23. Chardal says:

    Accommodations that are not reasonable or which hinder the ability of the army to operate are not legitimate. The fact that Chareidi Halacha can not operate within a modern army is simply evidence of their own spiritual poverty. It is no one’s problem but their own. The kol OSHA issue is ridiculous. As if Chareidi people are never in a public situation where a woman is singing. I have been to baseball games where chareidim were in attendance and he anthem was sung by a woman. Somehow, they survived without running from the stadium with fingers in ears. It’s all much ado about nothing – scraping the bottom of the apologetics barrel. It comes down to one thing, they are cowards who think their blood is redder than everyone else’s – this is demonstrated again and again. Shame on them and shame on all MO people who like to serve as their fig leaf.

  24. avi says:

    ” How else can you explain the latest poll where an untested politician Yair Lapid is supposed to get thirty seats and become the largest party in the Knesset if the country were forced to hold another election? ”

    I’m guessing you don’t live in Israel.
    Yair Lapid has been tested, and has passed his first test, much better than Bibi has been able to pass his Xth test. Lapid has stuck to the principles of his party, unlike Bibi who asked Livni to join a Likud which has nothing in common with Hatnua.

  25. don says:

    Unfortuntely she suggested via facebook changing the words of “Hatikva” to make it acceptable to Palestinian Israelis.

  26. IH says:

    If you’re going to throw mud, at least be accurate:

    “I was quite saddened when the Arab Knesset members left before singing the national anthem,” Calderon wrote, referring to an incident at last week’s swearing-in ceremony for new MKs. “Does anyone know of efforts to fix the words in order to include all Israeli citizens?”

    http://www.timesofisrael.com/yesh-atid-mk-and-shas-head-trade-barbs-over-anthem/

  27. Anonymous says:

    For further context of what may have motivated MK Yishai, see:
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4348488,00.html

    “The alliance between Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid is tightening and two are now working on a joint proposal on equal share of the burden.

    This could further complicate Benjamin Netanyahu ‘s attempts to form a coalition and may force him to choose between Bennett and Lapid and the haredi factions.”

  28. IH says:

    10:15pm was IH

  29. Shades of Gray says:

    “I have been to baseball games where chareidim were in attendance and he anthem was sung by a woman. Somehow, they survived without running from the stadium with fingers in ears”

    Those are not the same Charedim being discussed in Israel.

  30. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    Chareidi Leumi (aka Chardal) at Cross-currents

    February 26, 2006 at 11:51 pm

    “the Israeli army as it is constructed today is a MAJOR obsticle to a religious soldier. Only the strongest can remain unaffected. There are a few exceptions like Nachal Chareidi which so far is a good environment (you can get thrown in jail for lashon hara!) but overall it is not a condusive environment.

    The religious community should demand MASSIVE reforms before it sends its children to such an environment. (and this is besides the fact that the army puts Jewish lives needlessly at risk to protect “innocent” Arab civilians.”

    Ahem.

  31. Chardal says:

    Orr Aliya vs. Post Aliya. You move here and you quickly realize that the Chareidi apologetics are dishonest and irrelevant. In other words, I was wrong then, and have done teshuva for my error.

  32. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    Naftali Bennett himself admitted that the army makes the youth throw their kippot away and Rav Melamed offers a 20% number. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I can tell you: You weren’t wrong then; you are wrong now.

    Post aliyah you have been able to retreat into your own little world and hand-wave the pernicious influence of the IDF which all but the most visceral haters concede.

  33. avi says:

    Haredim throw away their kippahs, because they realize they have been taught a bunch of lies. Other chilonim put on a kippah. The majority leave the same as they entered.

  34. Chardal says:

    The chareim currently have a 30% fallout rate. Without the army. In any case it is all irrelevant. Sharing the national burden is the only ethical move. If your chinuch is so weak that the kids can’t take a little army, then change your chinuch. In the modern world, people can choose to leave, that does not make a community pattur from their basic responsibilities. Yes, you can not be the same as you were before, and that is as it should be, and the chareidim who don’t see that are living in an immoral and twisted delusion. No worries though, once we succeed in cutting off the money for which you prostitute any real Torah values, your community will quickly noalize and return to being constructive members of society who can contribute something to the real living Torah. Until then, being quiet is probably better then drawing more attention to the chillul Hashem which is the Israeli Chareidi community.

  35. Chardal says:

    And the chareidim should really not call anyone else a hater (even though its very true for avineri) they are the biggest source of sinaat hinam in the country!

  36. anonymous says:

    There are 3 issues in this kulturkampf. Equality of draft burden, preventing charedim from being a permanent underclass and minimal standards of secular education in all schools. The latter two goals can be accomplished by different combinations of financial carrots and sticks. Come at this with moral guns blazing, you will do the most sadistic, most destructive move first…draft all the charedim, who cares how many become confused. A universal draft requires coercion and will result in endless civil unrest. If you care about charedim, if their very existence is a source of inspiration, you would approach the problem in a pragmatic, political way of how can we achieve the maximum benefit to the country with a minimum of disruption. Drafting 2000, exempting the rest, and lowering the benefits available without army service would get charedim to leave yeshivas and enter the work force voluntarily as their families grow without having the street theater of dragging rabbis off to jail with their twelve children wailing away for all the world to see. .

  37. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    Well, here’s hoping that in the IDF they feed your fascist kids treif and show them porn 24/7, nothing a decent chinuch to denial of Torah Sheb’al Peh can’t handle. But, fascism maintains that’s the right of the governing body. If the price is to live outside of Eretz Yisrael and leave it under the rule of heretics, so be it. Just tell your RZ compatriots to shut up already about telling frum people to move to EY and have an effect on the Erev Rav govt.

    You’re so proud of your youth who refuse to learn Torah, they’d rather impress their girlfriends with machoness in the IDF. Dodgers!!

    רצון ה’ שיהא כל ישראל הראויים לעמל תורה יהיו בני תורה, והמשתמט מזה אע”ג שיש לו טעמים המביאים אותו לכך, בכל זאת אינו עושה רצונו של מקום מיקרי (הרחב דבר, תרומה כה:כ)

  38. Chardal says:

    Thank you for showing all the people on this thread exactly what we are dealing with. Mr. Eckstein’s rhetoric is soft compared to what most chareidim here in Israel say and think about everyone else. To them, the secular Jews and the RZ are all porn loving hedonists who want the shmad of Torah. Never mind the core Jewish values of hakarat haTov to those who risk their lives for them. For those who work like crazy only to have to pay extra taxes to fund their immoral welfare addicted lifestyle. Yes, mr eckstein, go to chul, try to fund your lifestyle without massive welfare fraud and more Hillul Hashem.

    You people contributed one thing to our understanding of Torah, you showed the wisdom of hazal when they said: רבן גמליאל בנו של רבי יהודה הנשיא אומר, יפה תלמוד תורה עם דרך ארץ ט, שיגיעת שניהם משכחת עון.

    וכל תורה שאין עמה מלאכה, סופה בטלה וגוררת עון

    You can quote the netziv all you want, your form of Torah will disappear as soon as the money is cut off. Then, you and your ilk will be left in your proper place as a sad footnote in jewish history, and for the Jews who care about the welfare of the entire nation יהיה אורה ושמחה וששון ויקר.

  39. Chardal says:

    רבי צדוק אומר: אל תעשם (את דברי התורה) עטרה להתגדל בהם, ולא קרדום לחפור בהם, וכך היה הלל אומר: ודישתמש בתגא חלף (מי שישתמש בכתר של תורה – ימות ויחלוף מן העולם), הא למדת, כל הנהנה מדברי תורה – נוטל חייו מן העולם

    כבר רציתי לא לדבר בזה הציווי, לפי שהוא מבואר (=ברור)… דע, כי זה כבר אמר: אל תעשה התורה קרדום לחפור בה, כלומר: אל תחשבה כלי לפרנסה, וביאר ואמר שכל מי שיהנה בזה העולם בכבוד תורה שהוא כורת נפשו מחיי העולם הבא. והעלימו בני אדם עיניהם מזו הלשון הגלויה, והשליכוה אחרי גוום, ונתלו בפשטי מאמרים שלא הבינום… ועשו את המינויים התורניים לחוק מוכסים (כלומר: הפכו את בעלי המינוי התורני לזכאים ליטול מס מן הציבור), והביאו בני אדם לסבור שטות גמורה, שזה צריך ומחויב, לעזור לחכמים ולתלמידים… וכל זה טעות, אין בתורה מה שיאמת אותו…”.

    הרמב”ם כותב ברוח זו דברים קשים במשנה תורה:‏[4] “כל המשים על לבו שיעסוק בתורה ולא יעשה מלאכה ויתפרנס מן הצדקה, הרי זה חילל את השם וביזה את התורה וכיבה מאור הדת וגרם רעה לעצמו ונטל חייו מן העולם הבא. לפי שאסור ליהנות בדברי תורה בעולם הזה. אמרו חכמים: כל הנהנה מדברי תורה נטל חייו מן העולם. ועוד ציוו ואמרו: לא תעשם עטרה להתגדל בהם ולא קורדום לחפור בהם. ועוד ציוו ואמרו: אהוב את המלאכה ושנא את הרבנות. וכל תורה שאין עימה מלאכה סופה בטלה, וסוף אדם זה שיהא מלסטם את הבריות…”

    רס”ג מתייחס לשאלה זו בספרו האמונות והדעות:‏[5] “…מי שאמר כי אין ראוי לאדם להתעסק בעולם הזה בדבר חוץ מן בקשת החכמה… ומצאתי כל מה שאמרו אמת, אבל מקום הטעות בו, הוא מה שאמרו שלא יתעסקו בדבר זולתה; ואם לא יתעסקו עמה במזון ובמחסה ובמסתור תבטל, כי אין עמידה זולתם; ואם ישליך את עצמו בצרכיו אלה על אנשים אחרים, היה נבזה ואין סומכין עליו ולא מקבלים דבריו, וכמ”ש (קהלת ט’ ט”ז) וחכמת המסכן בזויה, ודבריו אינם נשמעים…” הוא אינו דן בשאלת האיסור שבדבר, אלא הוא קובע שאדם שעוסק רק בתורה אינו יכול להשפיע על זולתו, כיון שאדם הנזקק לאחרים – בזוי בעיניהם

    Of course, you deny the wisdom of the geonim and rishonim and actually think that you can belong to a community of shnorrers and still bring kavod to the Torah. Your whole community is an historical abberation. Your elders have no wisdom or foresight. You bring dishonor to our heritage and to our Torah. We will all be better off when your community is forced to contribute to the welfare of the nation instead of prostituting our national interests for more shnorrers to be mevatel Torah all day.

  40. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    You will certainly peel off of Orthodoxy first. Bennett has already given up on the religious part of Religious Zionism because he was afraid of Bibi freezing him out of the government. And historical positivism is already off – you’ve joined the dead.

    I didn’t say RZ are porn consuming hedonists, I said that your fascist philosophy leads to the conclusion that if a treif-and-porn IDF belongs in Eretz Yisrael, then all religious Jews don’t. You prostitute the Torah on that altar of Zionism in the name of nothing at all. And forced changes coming from heretics will only make us fight back harder. A smaller band than the Charedim of today managed to defeat the Hellenists, and we will defeat you as well.

  41. IH says:

    You will certainly peel off of Orthodoxy first . . . prostitute the Torah on that altar of . . . managed to defeat the Hellenists, and we will defeat you as well

    Ah, I was waiting for that trope. Funny how it resembles the argumentation from Gil & co. about the role of women in Orthodoxy(which I have compared to the initial antipathy of Orthodoxy to religious Zionism).

  42. Shades of Gray says:

    “Learning the laws of tzedakah or business ethics should indeed affect your worldview and character. Compare that to, say, parah adumah, which according to Chazal does not not have an intelligible explanation. If you can’t understand parah adumah, why would you expect learning it to improve your character?”

    R. Yisroel Salanter speaks of both aspects, ie, related and unrelated; he says regarding the latter that learning aboout an ox goring a cow can positively affect the area of lashon hara.

  43. Nachum says:

    “Bennett has already given up on the religious part of Religious Zionism because he was afraid of Bibi freezing him out of the government.”

    This is ridiculous. He davka is *not* worried about being frozen out.

    By the way, here’s another beautiful example of Orwell’s point that
    “fascism” means “something I don’t like.” You have no idea what it means, right?

  44. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    I wonder if Chardal and Binyamin Eckstein ignored the post against getting drunk on Purim. Their rhetoric is really over the top. Overall, though, I am sympathetic to Chardal, though not again to his rhetoric. It seems to me that if the Haredi leaders were really concerned with the allegedly inimical atmposphere in the IDF, they would make that their major plank. But this is not what they say in their public statements. When I was in Israel last summer I heard UTJ spokesmen on the radio. From what they said one would get the impression that any type of drft of Yeshiva students would be tantamount to closing down all the Yeshivot. Of course, were they to make the religiously inimical atmosphere of the IDF their major plank, it would be a tacit admission of their willingness to compromise and to serve if the atmosphere were not inimical. There is no indication that the Haredim are read for that.

  45. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    If there is truly concern for being supported by others, first shut down all RZ Kollels.

    Bennett admitted that he allied with Lapid because otherwise he would have been shut out. Yes, I know what fascism is.

    And Dr. Kaplan, it isn’t a major plank because it isn’t the first hurdle that has to be overcome; the first hurdle is that those who truly wish to learn and grow in Torah are given that opportunity, just as in Mercaz Harav, Har Hamor, Beit El, etc.

  46. Anonymous says:

    It is interesting that Mr Eckstein’s quote from the Netziv is from manuscript additions, while in the actual text of the Harchev Davar, the Netziv says something telling about the difference in attitude between the situation of the nation in the desert, and in Israel. He quotes the passage in Yoma where the nation in the desert was as a bride, whose only job is to “look pretty” as it were, and not engage in any work. So Israel was not required to do any real work, just bask in the freely-given love God showered upon it. However, upon entry to Israel, that all changed – and the nation is like a married woman who must also do work (מזונותיה תחת מעשי ידיה).

    It seems to me that this Netziv actually supports Chardal’s position better than Binyomin’s. In Israel, we cannot simply rely on God’s grace to protect us and sustain us. We must fight, work, develop and finance without relying on miracles. Only in the 40 desert years could we rely on miraculous sustenance.

    This reaches the crux of the debate. The Religious Zionist world (which, Binyomin, despite all your “porn and traif” rhetoric, also contains large segments that seriously learn Torah and are scrupulous about mitzvot) holds that this was the mistake of the spies who wanted to remain in the desert – avoiding the need to become part of the “real” world – wars, economy, banking, etc. This was the sin, moreso than the Golden Calf, which signified that the nation was not ready yet to enter the Promised Land (see Rav Druckman on Parashat Shelach for the typical RZ explanation of this).

    Now, we live in a situation where the haredi world (and Binyomin) bills itself as the sole bearer and protector of Torah Judaism and love for learning. However, the RZ world (and Chardal) declares that the RZ model is the true Torah model for normal, outside-the-desert-life. The haredi model is not appropriate for building a functioning society in the Land of Israel; those who cling to it will wither and become footnotes to the main text of Am Yisrael’s history.

    Calling those who build, work and fight while still learning and protecting Torah – those who bear the standard of ספרא וסייפא – calling them “porn-and-traif macho-men showing off for their girlfriends” shows how far-off Binyomin’s view is from reality. Calling the RZ world and Chardal’s kids “hellenists” totally misses the validity of the RZ argument because it ignores the very point of the Netziv’s explanation of the sugya in Yoma.

    Now that Purim is over, I hope that Binyomin’s future responses take into account the above points and tone down in their venom.

  47. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    The Netziv says nothing of the sort. The whole thrust of the Netziv pertains to which merit serves to provide sustanence in Eretz Yisrael.

    He is contrasting the Torah (=Midbar, see there for why the Avodah in the Mishkan does not serve that purpose) vs. the Avodah in the Beis Hamikdash. And he says openly that the contrast of Midbar vs. EY is inaccurate, because the Keruvim in the Mishkan were in the BHMK as well, so what they symbolize – עושין רצונו של מקום applies in Eretz Yisrael as well.

    דגם לדורות, בזמן שישראל עושין רצונו של מקום ועוסקים בתורה עליהם כתיב איש אל אחיו, ובזמן שניזונים בשכר עבודה כתיב ופניהם לבית

    In other words, relying on the merit of the korbanos to provide sustenance is אין עושין רצונו של מקום – we are enjoined to rather rely on the merit of Torah study in Eretz Yisrael.

    As the Netziv concludes:

    שאע”ג שהיו עוסקים בעבודה, מכל מקום, אחר שלא היו עמלים בתורה כמו בהיותם במדבר, לא מיקרי עושים רצונו של מקופ

    The Netziv is explicitly advocating an adoption of a Midbar model as a lechatchilah in Eretz Yisrael, and anything less than that is אין עושים רצונו של מקום.

    It doesn’t mean everyone must do so, but it means that everyone who can do so must, and people who cannot should realize that, while they are certainly within a proper halachic framework, they are not fulfilling what Hashem considers ideal.

    And, again, I never said the RZ are treif-and-porn. I said that Chardal’s philosophy leads to the conclusion that if there were a treif-and-porn IDF, all religious people would be morally bound to leave Eretz Yisrael.

  48. Anonymous says:

    You are right – the Netziv is saying what you say, not what I said. However, it does not take away from the point I am making about RZ philosophy and your misunderstanding of the RZ relationship to Torah.

    RZ is not based on the viewpoint of the Netziv, but of RSG, Rambam and the others who advocate the stance evidenced by R Druckman’s explanation of the spies.

    Your taking them to be hellenists is wrong and misses the point. That is the point I was making (a point weakened admittedly by a quick skimming of the Netziv).

    As to which of the viewpoints is realistic today, I think it is clear from the haredim’s very actions what they really believe. They assure themselves publicly that rockets will not fall on Bnei Brak because of the protection afforded by the Torah learning of that city. On the other hand, where their yeshivot are situated more practically in the line of fire (such as in Sderot, Ashkelon, Ashdod), they claim that one may not rely on miracles and must relocate to the center of Israel until the rocket fire abates. It is this hypocritical position that reveals the fact that the haredim themselves know that it is not the merit of their Torah learning that protects them, but the military. They do not rely on miracles except when the “miracle” also seems to protect Holon, Givat Shmuel, and Herzeliya Pituach (ie, the “miracle” of being out of range). In short, it is lip service to a concept they are not willing to truly rely on.

  49. Chardal says:

    >You will certainly peel off of Orthodoxy first. Bennett has already given up on the religious part of Religious Zionism because he was afraid of Bibi freezing him out of the government. And historical positivism is already off – you’ve joined the dead.

    Oh please. I am not there to check Bennet’s tzitzis. He is advocating positions which are ethically correct and that is what matters. Historical positivism has always been a part of RZ. Merkaz had R’ Krochmal on its original sylabus. Mossad HaRav Kook published books by graduates of the Breslau Seminary. Shadal and R’ Zecharya Frankl are part of the RZ bookshelf (except on the more right wing of the community). Historical positivism is not a bad word for us. Zionism was all about returning the Jewish to history. Hareidism has always been about keeping the Jews in an eternal state of exile. To you, the deep works of giants like the above-mentioned are beyond the pale, and you probably can not even appreciate the theological needs they were responding to (the Hareidi world is widely and wildly ignorant of philosophy and traditional Jewish theology). Until you are able to appreciate it, stop using it as a pejorative. Minds much greater than your own and much greater than those of your “gedolim” developed historical positivism and it is a system that has much more respect for truth than hareidism.

    >I didn’t say RZ are porn consuming hedonists, I said that your fascist philosophy leads to the conclusion that if a treif-and-porn IDF belongs in Eretz Yisrael, then all religious Jews don’t.

    What are you talking about? We are not talking about a hedonist training center but the IDF. A place where people train to be soldiers who defend the land of Israel. I understand that to you, having Gelatin in the kitchen is the same as bingeing on porn, but most sane minds can tell the difference. BTW, if you want to see hundreds of Hareidim bingeing on porn, don’t go to the army, go to any Israeli library with internet access that is close to a Hareidi enclave. You will see how a lifetime of sexual repression does wonder for the “purity” of your community.

    >You prostitute the Torah on that altar of Zionism in the name of nothing at all.

    Please. The Torah is the source of our values. Zionism is an essential component of those values. For chareidim the Torah is an Avodah Zara which canceled all other values, it is no longer something that has value to the extent that it makes people into better people but rather fealty to the chareidi version of Torah becomes the only yardstick by which you are capable of evaluating people. So someone who is a complete thief will continue to get respect as long as their continue donating to yeshivas. etc. etc. etc.

    >And forced changes coming from heretics will only make us fight back harder.

    You don’t know how to fight. The main goal is to cut off the money – that will normalize your community and it will no longer feel the need to fight against normal ethical behavior.

    >A smaller band than the Charedim of today managed to defeat the Hellenists, and we will defeat you as well.

    מה הקשר? Israel is not Hellenism. You are not the Maccabees. And further, you lack the historical sensibility needed to evaluate our past. Until you show talent in areas other than forced talmudic pilpulim, stop preaching to communities who benefit the general welfare of the country.

  50. Chardal says:

    Further, stop quoting sources, they are irrelevant as you yourself prove by readily ignoring any source that does not back up your preconceived vision of an ideal Jewish society. The Rambam and R’ Saadia are trampled underfoot by your entire community daily. You use Torah to worship your sociological model while showing disdain for anyone who tries to study Torah on their own terms. The days of such hypocrisy being tolerated are over.

  51. lamedzayin says:

    Didn’t that smaller band who defeated the Hellenists do so via guerrilla warfare? I know there will be revisionism that turns Yehuda Hamaccabi into a rosh yeshiva but at the very least you need to admit that he was “also” a warrior. How can one possibly use the chashmonaim as a paradigm for today’s chareidi community, which totally abhors the idea of physically defense?

  52. avi says:

    Odd comment by artscroll
    Shabbat 139a “when there are no more arrogant people there will be no more “heretics”(1)

    (1) Arrogant people are those who wear long side locks of hair and wear distinguished clothing. (rashi)

    It plays itself out in Israeli society all too well. I’m curious how the footnote got passed the censors :P

  53. ZPinchas says:

    I am shocked and saddened by the vitriol on display here. What has become of the sanctity of word, written or spoken? May G-d have mercy upon us all.

  54. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    Shut down funding to RZ Kollelim, and we’ll talk. Until then, the hypocrite is you.

    You should be burying your face in shame over Bennett joining with Lapid – who, never mind being mesader kiddushin in gay marriages, never mind supporting a complete Hellenization of the State (that is exactly what he wants) openly advocates eradicating the word “Yehudi” from Hatikvah! Not religious and not zionism, nothing!! – over a stupid issue that will solve nothing, just open up another front of war, and lose merits for the physical war with the Arabs that is virtually sure to come some time in the next Knesset session. It is pure Charedi hatred and/or political prostitution. There is no other explanation.

  55. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    They assure themselves publicly that rockets will not fall on Bnei Brak because of the protection afforded by the Torah learning of that city. On the other hand, where their yeshivot are situated more practically in the line of fire (such as in Sderot, Ashkelon, Ashdod), they claim that one may not rely on miracles and must relocate to the center of Israel until the rocket fire abates. It is this hypocritical position that reveals the fact that the haredim themselves know that it is not the merit of their Torah learning that protects them, but the military.

    This is a parroting of (one of) Natan Slifkin’s infantile argument(s) in a scandalously wrongheaded article in the JPost. When you are not fighting, do you say Tehillim for the soldiers? Do you believe it helps? If yes – would you relocate if your shul was getting bombed? Why? If you don’t think it helps, why are you doing it?

  56. joel rich says:

    . It is pure Charedi hatred and/or political prostitution. There is no other explanation.
    ==================================
    I think you mean there is no other explanation that you will accept.
    KT

  57. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    Let’s hear it, then.

  58. Tal Benschar says:

    How can one possibly use the chashmonaim as a paradigm for today’s chareidi community, which totally abhors the idea of physically defense?

    No worse than using Yeshoua bin Nun’s army lead by a God-fearing Jew and the gadol ha dor as the paradigm for subordinating oneself (and rhetorically complaining about others who refuse to do so) to an Army controlled by minim and kofrim, who expressly state that one of their purposes, besides national defense, is forcibly acculturating inductees to a secular philosophy.

  59. Shlomo says:

    IH, I don’t know if you have given up on this thread yet (I wouldn’t blame you), but if not I have an assignment for you.

    Compare and contrast Bina/Secular Yeshiva/etc. with the Reconstructionist movement in the US. To what extent and in what ways do they parallel one another? Your answer should not exceed 3 pages double-spaced.

  60. lamedzayin says:

    No worse than using Yeshoua bin Nun’s army lead by a God-fearing Jew and the gadol ha dor as the paradigm for subordinating oneself (and rhetorically complaining about others who refuse to do so) to an Army controlled by minim and kofrim, who expressly state that one of their purposes, besides national defense, is forcibly acculturating inductees to a secular philosophy.

    Yes, the comparison to Yehoshua is equally fluffy.

    On the other hand, has anyone seriously suggested that a Talmud Chacham was pattur from a defensive war when the king was an oved avoda zara (aka most of the melachim).

  61. Chardal says:

    >Shut down funding to RZ Kollelim, and we’ll talk. Until then, the hypocrite is you

    If there are any that serve as a loophole from service, then I agree. Cut off funding.

    >You should be burying your face in shame over Bennett joining with Lapid

    For all his many faults, he is head and shoulders a better partner than the chareidim. At least with him there is common ground. With the chareidim there is nothing but their disdane for us and our money being taken by them.

    When you are not fighting, do you say Tehillim for the soldiers?

    No, I don’t believe in using scripture as a magical rite.

    >Do you believe it helps

    No

    ? If yes – would you relocate if your shul was getting bombed?

    No, we were within rocket range a few months back and stayed up in spite of the air raid sirens, unlike the Chareidi cowards who fled to bnei brak.

    Why? If you don’t think it helps, why are you doing it?

    It doesn’t help. At best it increases morale. The exact opposite of what happens when chareidim who “protect” us with their Torah flee when the first rocket falls. The header yeshiva relocated to the rocket zone to boost morale, lehavdil from the Chareidi cowards.

    >No worse than using Yeshoua bin Nun’s army lead by a God-fearing Jew and the gadol ha dor as the paradigm for subordinating oneself (and rhetorically complaining about others who refuse to do so) to an Army controlled by minim and kofrim, who expressly state that one of their purposes, besides national defense, is forcibly acculturating inductees to a secular philosophy.

    More dumb excuses. Secular philosophy is all around us. It is part of every western society. The good parts and the bad parts. The army is not that different. Just educate your children to want to choose Torah or else you will loose them. You are loosing plenty now with your own educational system – no army involved. Heck, Rav dessler said that your attrition rate is expected and an appropriate price to pay for producing “gedolim”. Of course, you haven’t produced any of those either, but at least you get to keep the dropout rate. Other than that, you can continue using your sinaat chinam as a smokescreen for your cowardice and lack of civic responsibility but no one is buying it. Heck, most chareidim probably don’t buy it. The ones I have worked with ( in mixed environments, didn’t see the army as a bigger challenge than the rest of the big wide world.

  62. Tal Benschar says:

    Yes, the comparison to Yehoshua is equally fluffy.

    On the other hand, has anyone seriously suggested that a Talmud Chacham was pattur from a defensive war when the king was an oved avoda zara (aka most of the melachim).

    Don’t mean to disagree with your (partial) agreement with me, but your example misses the point. An army lead by an idolatrous king fighting a defensive war in the time of Bayis Rishon presumably was engaged in just that — fighting a defensive war. War is over, everyone goes home.

    Here you have a constant commitment, in both times of war and peace. You have a government that openly announces that the IDF has a dual purpose — war, and education, or to use an old phrase (IH would call it “quaint”) re-education.

    Your argument would gain a great deal more credibility if you advocated that the IDF should give up its re-education mission and focus solely on the defense needs of the country. Somehow, that part seems to have gone missing in the latest rhetoric, including by MK Dov Lipman in his speech.

    (Of course, focusing solely on the defense needs of the country might call for complete rethinking of the whole enterprise. Quite a few have called for replacing the current system with a volunteer/professional army, which the US has had for decades. I am not such an expert to say they are right, but it is odd that no one has taken that proposal seriously — which could be combined with generous benefits for those who do serve. What I do know is that many have told me that there is surplus of “jobnikim” in the IDF that it does not know what to do with, and drafting thousands of Charedim will simply add to their ranks.)

  63. Tal Benschar says:

    Secular philosophy is all around us. It is part of every western society. The good parts and the bad parts. The army is not that different.

    This is about the stupidest thing I have seen in a while. In the Army, you are under the control of someone else, subject to military discipline (that means jail) if you don’t listen, and at the mercy of your commanding officers. In society in general (at least a free society) you are not.

    In civilian life, I can chose not to attend a lecture, or listen to a woman sing, or not to eat a certain food. In the Army I can be ordered to do any of those and be thrown in the brink for refusing.

  64. IH says:

    Shlomo – It’s an interesting question. The primary difference, it seems to me, is that Reconstructionism is an indigenous American response to “living in two civilizations” whereas Bina/Secular Yeshiva/etc is an indigenous Israeli response to living in The Jewish State. This is no small thing – the nascent Secular Yeshiva movement is not an import of foreign ideas, but sui generis.

    That said, my sense is the Reconstructionist movement is in flux so any comparison would also need to be careful to define which Reconstructionism is being referenced. As a 2nd generation Reconstructionist Rabbi has told me: “Kaplan and my Dad’s generation were attempting to Americanize Jews. We are attempting to Judaize Americans.”

    So, perhaps in that way there is a similarity – the Secular Yeshiva movement is, arguably, attempting to Judaize Israelis.

  65. Anonymous says:

    >would you relocate if your shul was getting bombed? Why?

    I don’t have to answer this in the hypothetical; I live in the south and did not leave during the war.

    However, the question itself shows a serious lack of appreciation for כל ישראל ערבים זה בזה. While the RZ yeshivot relocated to the south to demonstrate that “you are not alone”, they fulfilled this meta-principle of Torah, while the haredi schools, which claimed to actually be able to physically protect cities with their Torah learning, ran away in cries of סכנת נפשות. According to their logic of the power of their learning, this is a transgression of לא תעמד על דם רעך.

    The Rambam says that the way Avoda Zara destroyed the Jews was that it made them unable to accurately see reality and train for wars properly. The way Torah protects is by giving us “straight vision” – the ability to see the world how it really is and the wisdom to harness nature to achieve our goals – not magically, but naturally.

    Look, we all know that the haredim don’t actually believe that their Torah learning protects physically from danger or war – that much is clear from actions which speak far louder than words. Haredi society needs to take the next logical step and admit it, and therefore contribute to the defense of the country physically, and its material sustenance. (This is all beside the fact that in מלחמת מצווה there is no פטור for anyone.)

    By the way, I have been told in the past by Haredi rabbis that “of course we fight when necessary. During the Six Day War, the yeshiva boys went out and filled sand bags to help with the war effort!” It is as if the haredi rabbi did not understand that because they were not trained – because they had not invested the time and effort necessary – to be soldiers, when the war actually came, they could only participate in civil defense activities usually left to women and children. In the modern world, to be ready to join in when a war happens, you need to be ready. You can’t just say, “now there is a war, now I will join.”

    The same thing goes for the haredi outlook on work. They say, learn until you need to work, and then work. But don’t they realize that the world we live in today requires training and investment before you need to work, so that when you need to work, you are capable of doing something meaningful, useful, and lucrative? It is attitudes of disdain such as these towards the enterprise of modern man that make the haredim anachronistic. In their hands the Torah, one of whose main strengths is its ability to adapt to change, is turned into a frozen artifact of time and creates a society of people who are living about two centuries back.

  66. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    I’m done with Chardal. The weaknesses and contradictions in his views are readily apparent. (I note as well the implicit concession that this campaign in motivated by anti-Charedi sentiment expressed in classic anti-Semitic terms.)

    Anonymous, the Charedi families did not leave the south either. The Yeshivos boys, for whom the admistration have a responsibility toward the parents, relocated. Whether or not the boys were actually present in the south or learning for the people in the south makes no difference at all in terms of its efficacy. Armies also abandon positions, and nobody thinks they don’t protect.

    The Charedim absolutely do believe their learning provides protection (not instead of the army, in tandem with it). There are many places where the Netziv spells it out; I’ll choose one, from his שאר ישראל essay (the context is success in battle):

    דכמו שיש הרבה מיני כלי זין והראש והמובחר שבהם הוא החרב, כך יש הרבה זכויות שגורמות להצליח את ישראל, כמו שאמרו על דורו של אחאב, שלא היה בהם דילטורין, ואמרו הקובע מקום לתפילתו אויביו נופלים תחתיו, ועוד יש הרבה, אבל כלי זיין המיוחד לישראל הוא עסק התורה שנמשל לחרב שנאמר חגור חרבך על ירך

    There is much more there, I would very strongly recommend that you read it. Especially the parts where he stresses that failing in החזקת תורה is a major cause of defeat in war…

    On Yeshiva boys going to the army, Rav Neriyah, Rav Arieli, Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Waldenberg etc., have written that Yeshiva boys are absolved from the IDF. The Yeshivot Gevohot such as Mercaz Harav. Har Hamor, Beit El, etc. keep their boys out of the army until a very late age when they can no longer fight, although they could have. So your claim is as much against them.

    Charedi society is undergoing gradual change. The springing up of Kiryat Ono and other such places proves this. But people are not satisfied, they want to impose quicker change. The entire effort will most certainly fail. The Charedim will retreat yet further into their barricades, will go to jail if necessary, and battle what has been cast as a gezeiras shmad, with all that entails. The Charedi public has not yet lost a battle over their core issues (such as sherut leumi), and will not lose this one either. Machoness notwithstanding, the RZ lost brutally in Gush Katif as a direct result of the govt. trying to cut off funds to Yeshivos, אם ראית עיירות נעקרות…

    and will continue to lose if they choose the path of destroying the Olam HaTorah. It will not be forgiven and without Charedi support there is no majority for the settlement enterprise. Now Chardal might bluster again, but he underestimates Charedi resolve on this issue. We are determined, we are ready to do what it takes, and we will defeat you.

  67. Anonymous says:

    “You” will defeat “us”? Binyomin, you really seem to believe that you are separate from RZ. This is unbelievably short-sighted of you, and you really haven’t gotten any closer to an understanding of כל ישראל ערבים זה בזה.

    I hope one day you will admit that there is also Torah on the RZ side. The RZ yeshivot push Torah and army, spiritual and physical activity. There is one community in this discussion that fulfills all the aspects of Jewish nationhood, not just the elitist part.

    >Machoness notwithstanding, the RZ lost brutally in Gush Katif as a direct result of the govt. trying to cut off funds to Yeshivos

    Actually, it was the haredi Shas party that provided the votes necessary for the disengagement to occur. You can’t be the cause of the disengagement and then point to that event as evidence of the “other side’s” lack of Torah. I am surprised that you would say such a thing.

    >and will continue to lose if they choose the path of destroying the Olam HaTorah.

    It is a shame that you call the haredi world exclusively the olam hatorah. As I said earlier, ספרא וסייפא exist in the RZ beit midrash, and both are part of Torah.

  68. Anonymous says:

    Correction: Shas did not vote for disengagement when the actual vote was brought to the Knesset – but it did support the government until that point, which allowed the government to proceed until it no longer needed Shas’s support.

  69. Anonymous says:

    Correction: It was Yahadut Hatorah that did not vote against the Disengagement.

  70. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    I am fully aware and I fully agree that there is Torah by the RZ, and that many are as, or more, committed to full halachic observance.

    There, the day came sooner than you think. Now, will you concede that the Charedim are not all one unit of parasitic fakers? The first person on this thread to cast this as “us vs. them” was not I.

    The cynics will say we don’t mean it, we’re all money-grubbing parasitical liars who think our blood is redder than anyone else’s, a claim put forth here with no challenge from anyone. “You have nothing but disdane [sic] for us and take all our money,” is despicable rhetoric worthy of the vilest anti-Semites in history. Der Sturmer comparisons are, for once, quite apt. But no one says a word.

    No, we mean it. Understand that when it comes to shutting down Yeshivos, invoking כל ישראל ערבים is strange. What comes to mind is:

    תלמוד בבלי מסכת ברכות דף סא עמוד ב

    רצונכם שתעלו ליבשה, ונדור אני ואתם כשם שדרו אבותי עם אבותיכם? אמרו לו: אתה הוא שאומרים עליך פקח שבחיות? לא פקח אתה, אלא טפש אתה! ומה במקום חיותנו אנו מתיראין, במקום מיתתנו על אחת כמה וכמה! אף אנחנו, עכשיו שאנו יושבים ועוסקים בתורה, שכתוב בה +דברים ל’+ כי הוא חייך וארך ימיך – כך, אם אנו הולכים ומבטלים ממנה – על אחת כמה וכמה

    Cutting us off from Torah is cutting us from life itself, and if we are sent to jail for it, well,

    אשריך רבי עקיבא שנתפסת על דברי תורה

  71. Nachum says:

    Great. So the State of Israel, the single largest supporter of Torah learning (and “Torah learning”) in, well, the history of the world, and the lone protector of the lives of millions of Jews from physical harm (and a half-million charedim from starvation) is now akin to the Romans. Talk about living in hateful fantasy worlds.

  72. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    They have been, and we are grateful. There were many hospitable countries that turned against the Jews, and Israel is fully capable of becoming inhospitable and outright hostile to the Charedim. We are, to many in Israel, what the Jews were to Europe. The weakest element and most convenient scapegoat, and one need look no further than the current Purimfest circus of a country that is under imminent threat of nuclear annihilation focus all its efforts and coalition negotiations on a fake “shared burden” that is nothing of the sort.

  73. Nachum says:

    I’m so sorry to hear how badly the State of Israel treats you.

  74. IH says:

    Given Shlomo’s question amidst the rancor, perhaps an opportunity for some early 20th century American Jewish history that may not be that well known:

    The outstanding difference between the Conservative movement and the other Jewish denominations in America developed over the question of Zionism. Although, no longer the case the original classic Reform position emphasized universalism to the point of anti-Zionism. A negative attitude toward establishing a Jewish state also prevailed for several decades in the Orthodox wing. On the other hand, Conservatism, with its emphasis on catholic Israel and Jewish peoplehood, has been the most comfortable home for Jewish nationalism and Zionism in America. Indeed, after Solomon Schechter gave strong support to the kind of redemption Zionism held out for Jews, it came to be seen as a kind of secular equivalent of Conservatism. […]

    At the turn of the century in America, there existed an Orthodox branch of Judaism, barely coping with the secular environment and already alienating the children of eastern European newcomers; a Reform branch, unable to regenerate itself and clearly unacceptable to the immigrants and their children; and most problematic of all, a distinct trend toward secularization and even antireligion in all sections of American Jewry. The American Jewish religious world needed a new modality that would accept the drive toward secularism at the same time that it held onto cherished traditional Jewish symbols.

    Several Orthodox groups attempted to fill the vacuum by establishing aesthetic, decorous religious services with large doses of English and by building modern synagogues with modernized schools and elaborate cultural and recreational programs. One of the greatest efforts in this area was Herbert S. Goldstein’s Institutional Synagogue, established in Harlem in 1917. An American Orthodox rabbi ordained at JTS in 1914, Goldstein, like his contemporary, Mordecai Kaplan, the founder and leader of the Jewish Reconstructionist movement, tried to make the synagogue the center of Jewish life. Goldstein’s goal, anticipating the Jewish center movement that flourished during the 1920s and 1930s, was to integrate the sanctuary, social halls and recreational facilities of the synagogue within an Orthodox Jewish atmosphere attractive to an American constituency ready for change.

    Even some elements in the Union of Orthodox Rabbis came to accept the idea that a Judaism resistant to change was doomed to extinction in America. Under the lead of rabbis like Philip H. Klein and Moses Z. Margoilies, RIETS was gradually transformed from an Old World style yeshiva into an American Orthodox rabbinical seminary. Under pressure from the students themselves, the institution was reorganized in order to provide a more modern course of study. But, crucial to the change was the new perception by some in the old Orthodox camp that the future of their children could be left neither to the secularists nor to the Conservative teachers of the JTS faculty.

    Rabbi Bernard Revel was appointed in 1915 to lead the reorganized RIETS – the nucleus of what would later become Yeshiva University. Revel’s goal was to produce Orthodox rabbis knowledgeable about America and able to preach effectively in English. To instruct his students in Talmud, the bedrock of the curriculum, Revel brought in teachers from the Union of Orthodox Rabbis. But, to reach the ways of America, he chose Orthodox Union leaders like Henry P. Mendes, Herbert S. Goldstein and Bernard Drachman. By the 1920s, RIETS graduates were on the road to areas of second settlement and suburbia, taking their updated Orthodox messages to second-generation Jews.

    From The Jewish People in America: A Time for Building by Gerald Sorin (Johns Hopkins, 1992) p. 189

    Everyone participating here is a product of these (continuing) changes in Orthodoxy, grappling with 20th and now 21st century realities, irrespective of whether they admit it to themselves or not.

  75. chardal says:

    >Here you have a constant commitment, in both times of war and peace.

    Um … this is a necessity of modern warfare. You think we can wait to start organizing and training when the enemy actually attacks?!? This is the milchemet mitzva.

    >You have a government that openly announces that the IDF has a dual purpose — war, and education, or to use an old phrase (IH would call it “quaint”) re-education.

    It serves an important social purpose of getting people from different backgrounds to feel and think as members of one nation. Something the chareidim can sure use much more of.

    > What I do know is that many have told me that there is surplus of “jobnikim” in the IDF that it does not know what to do with

    Jobnikim are also important for the army to function. Besides, the manpower argument is the most idiotic one ever, so every other segment of the Jewish world should risk their lives while cowardly chareidim stay at home?!?!?

    >This is about the stupidest thing I have seen in a while. In the Army, you are under the control of someone else, subject to military discipline (that means jail) if you don’t listen, and at the mercy of your commanding officers. In society in general (at least a free society) you are not.

    Please, there is no escaping general western culture. It is all around you, even in the most isolated parts of mea shearim. the dropout rate in the army is no worse than any other activity frum jews do between 18 and 21 years of age. college in america. heck, the cahreidi system has a 30% dropout rate – and this according to chareidi educators themselves. its a red herring, otherwise the chareidim would set up conditions for enlisment. They don’t. They just want to continue their cowardly welfare culture.

    >The Yeshivot Gevohot such as Mercaz Harav. Har Hamor, Beit El, etc. keep their boys out of the army until a very late age when they can no longer fight, although they could have. So your claim is as much against them.

    Almost all enlist. and many still enlist in combat units. In any case, they are a tiny elite part of the larger RZ world. They are not an entire community dedicated to avoiding work and national service like the chareidim are.

    >We are determined, we are ready to do what it takes, and we will defeat you.

    Yes, the approach that brought us to a world where 90% of Jews are estranged from Torah will “win”. One more such victory and we are truly all done for. You will not do a thing. Once the money is cut off, you will normalize and start contributing. Until then, you will continue feeling self-righteous.

    >They have been, and we are grateful.

    Yes, you are grateful like Jews were greatful to Franz Yosef… wait, Jews actually composed a prayer for him, and he actually WAS an antisemite. stop lying, you miserable fanatic meragel.

  76. Shalom Spira says:

    Ye’yasher kochakhem R. Haber and respondents, all of whom have raised excellent points.

    Just one suggestion vis-a-vis R’ Chardal’s intriguing insight(final paragraph at 2:29 p.m. today) that those who refuse to serve in the IDF risk repeating the transgression of the meraglim. See Tosafot to Kiddushin 42a, s.v. yetomim, who posit that the conquest of the land by Yehoshua was unique in that it was “al pi ha-Dibbur”, i.e. by direct prophetic command of Mosheh Rabbeinu. Thus, as I understand Tosafot’s comment, the meraglim were culpable for denying the prophecy of Mosheh Rabbeinu. By contradistinction, I am confident that we can say (based on R. Haber’s post) that there is no Israeli today who (Heaven forfend) actually denies the prophecy of Mosheh Rabbeinu, such that we can rest assured that no Jew is actually duplicating the transgression of the meraglim. Ashreinu she-zakhinu le-kakh! At the same time, this does not detract from the cogency of the argument that IDF service represents a great mitzvah for other reasons (e.g. ezrat Yisrael mi-yad tzar, etc.) I am proud that my synagogue recites the prayer for IDF every Shabbat.

  77. Nachum says:

    Now, now, chardal, let’s be fair. Franz Joseph was not an antisemite. My late grandmother, born a subject of his, attributed this to a Jewish girlfriend in his youth. :-)

  78. lawrence kaplan says:

    Chardal and Binyamin Eckstein: I know that each of you thinks he is Mordecai and other is Haman, but still… Purim is over!

  79. Chardal says:

    I was wrong on one, thing. There are a few members of the chareidi community who are doing a cheshbon nefesh:

    http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/yoris-news-clips/12-good-reasons-why-secular-israelis-reject-haredim/2013/02/16/0/?print

    Rabbi Dovid Bloch says many of the things I have been saying as an insider. How anyone can argue that this situation can continue is beyond me.

  80. IH says:

    Apropos: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=444429402293149#!/photo.php?v=444429402293149

    אלעזר שטרן Elazar stern‎’s video: ‎שאלתי לשר הדתות 26.2.12‎

  81. […] A more muted form of criticism, coupled with recognizing the benefits of such a development […]

  82. Charlie Hall says:

    Is anyone else who hasn’t joined in here appalled by Binyomin Eckstein’s use of the F word?

  83. Nachum says:

    Did you miss my comment?

 
 

Submit a Response

 

You must be logged in to submit a response.