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Rabbi Asher Lopatin Takes the Reins at a Trailblazing Orthodox Seminary
Do Synagogue Movements Know What They Really Sell?
Women Have Always Been of the Wall: The Movement Is Actually Reviving Old Tradition
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Yair Lapid Spars with Ultra-Orthodox
Decline of the Rabbi-Intellectual
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In Cape Town, colonial Jewish history and botanic wonders await
A New Creation Story
Expert: Women Abuse as Often as Men
St Albans woman in breakthrough United Synagogue election
A Last Look Inside Meseritz Synagogue Before Its Conversion to Condos
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Dutch rabbi upset over royal event scheduled for Yom Kippur
Masorti rabbis perform first conversions in
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Southern Jews a Dying Breed as Small-Town Communities Dwindle Fast
Word of the day / Kumzits
Keep calm and vote for women
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Talking about the Wall without talking to the wall
Try pretending you don’t actually know it all
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‘Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah’ Singer Allan Sherman Gets Last Laugh in New Biography
I’m a Lag B’Omer Scrooge
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Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of Torah Musings.

 
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178 Responses

  1. emma says:

    re: women abuse as often as men.

    the basic point (from the video – wouldn’t know this from the article) that in most cases of adomestic vilence “they’re both doing it,” that if they are going to stay together they therefore both need treatment/help stopping, and that women who attack their partners are putting themselves at “risk” – seems sound. Why this has to be spun as some sort of sensationalist “men are the forgotten victims” is beyond me, especially since that’s not what he is saying. (rather, he is saying that since women hit too, which often leads to them getting hit worse in return, stopping violence requires addressing both sides.)

    the precurser article is also interesting, I thought : http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/167546

    But I found this a shocker:

    “Prof. Ben-David … advocates a different kind of treatment center that will advocate the reconciliation of the family in all instances of abuse. “You need two to tango and you need two for violence. Why are we only treating one person? The perpetrator is sent to anger management and then the children grow without a father or are sent to a boarding school. But I don’t see that a solution. There used to be love in that family. They got married for a reason,” she said.”

    Shocking.

    Also why does it seem that arutz sheva has taken on “men’s rights” as a cause? If you click on the key words at the bottom you will see that more than half of the reporting on these issues is from the men’s rights angle. I don’t see them reporting on conferences that deal with domestic violence that _don’t_ focus on men, for example. Is there some sort of guilt by association with feminism? What gives?

  2. IH says:

    Emma — Nu. Even here on Hirhurim there is a pattern of “guilt by association with feminism” and the manipulation of facts to attack that bête noire.

  3. joel rich says:

    “But my dream is to have Hebrew Union College, the Jewish Theological Seminary, Hadar, and Chovevei on one campus, to move in together. We’d each daven in our own ways, but it could transform the Upper West Side.”
    ======================
    Interesting dream
    KT

  4. IH says:

    R’ Joel — Interestingly enough, I attended a panel discussion last night at the UWS JCC about http://www.amazon.com/Jewish-Megatrends-Charting-Course-American/dp/1580236677 in which R. David Ellenson pointed out the large degree in overlap of resources among the Rabbinical Seminaries in the US. An interesting factoid, btw, is the HUC receives $10 million in annual funding from URJ, the congregational arm of the Reform movement (i.e. from the dues paid to Reform synagogues by their members).

  5. IH says:

    Unfortunately, R. Lopatin was not at the event last night, but he does have a chapter in the book and its first paragraph is:

    Let me be candid with anyone starting to read this chapter: I am Orthodox – modern Orthodox, progressive Orthodox, open Orthodox, but when it comes down to it, I’m Orthodox. That makes my experience as a synagogue rabbi for seventeen years and my understanding of the needs of the community different from those of a rabbi of any other denomination. A lot of the changes that Sidney Schwarz talks about in his lead essay do not apply to the Orthodox community. On the other hand, Orthodoxy is, in fact, in a state of transition, but the issues we are facing are different from the issues facing the other denominations of American Jewish life.

  6. joel rich says:

    R’IH,
    Can you say a bit more about what you mean by overlap of resources?
    KT

  7. IH says:

    R’ Joel — It was only a few seconds — and as an aside to a different point — but focused on “capital”. He did not elaborate further.

  8. IH says:

    Too fast. He did mention that this past year all the non-Orthodox schools in the US, including the independent ones, ordained a total of 82 Rabbis. So, the overlap in capital expense is material.

    According to their website, YCT had 8 in 2012. I can’t easily find the number of RIETS musmachim in 2012, but it won’t tip the balance by that much.

    If someone calculated the cost per ordained Rabbi, funded by the Jewish community as whole, it’s not hard to think there would be what are called “synergies” in the corporate world.

    And funding is a major issue for all Jewish institutions…

  9. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    IH — many RIETS musmachim are learning “lishma”, and get the actual smicha for other reasons, but not for the actual “shteller”. as opposed to JTS, HIR, etc, where its grads are only in it for the job (not a bad reason, but …)

    RIETS actually published such a survey of its musmachim a few years ago (small sample size, other issues with the survey, but anecdotally, most of us here can verify the general thrust.

    in other words, funding and synergies are difficult to quantify.

    (BTW, RIETS has like 30something musmachim per year.)

  10. Nachum says:

    RIETS ordains about 40-50 rabbis a year. Charedi places don’t tend to have formal semicha programs- only two or three do- but between them, all the informal and private semikhot, and RIETS (and YCT), you almost certainly have well over 82.

    I remember RIETS’ survey, and how it surprised me. I thought it would be about 80% non-rabbinate, but it turned out that about 80% were either in the rabbinate, teaching, or in Jewish organizational life. That’s pretty high. I imagine there are non-Orthodox ordainees who don’t use it either. YCT is of course 100%. I wouldn’t be surprised if the charedi rate was 50%, but it may be much less.

  11. IH says:

    MMhY — first, don’t assume the motives/designs of those in other institutions. You would be surprised. E.g. I know several who went mid-life after successful first careers.

    Second, would RIETS be able to survive financially without YU’s secular professional schools? There are tradeoffs and compromised principles everywhere.

    I don’t think either R. Lopatin or R. Ellenson were advocating any tactical moves; rather, they are both pointing out inefficiencies that cause the Jewish community to spend more than may be needed and this missed opportunity of teaching more Torah.

    In fact, the conclusion of the quotation from R. Lopatin in the Tablet piece, is:

    “I’m not talking about closing down campuses, because I want more Torah, not less,” he went on. “I want to hear different opinions. Disagreement is OK—I don’t care if we come to a consensus, but put it all out there and continue the conversation.”

  12. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    IH — i was careful not to get into the debate. just said that diff ppl have diff motives for all forms of O smicha. and non O ppl have basically (rabbinic) career reasons for their smicha. nothing wrong with that, either way. and i stayed out of the YCT issue.

    for the record, the leaders of HIR and JTS (ellenson and sorsch, i believe) spoke / gave blessings at pres joel’s investiture.

    YC tolerate bnei torah — though some bible classes leave much to be desired in terms of quality (in post student days retrospect), and they were taught by RIETS rebbeim and / or hashkafically qualified ppl in my day; insinuating that bnei torah are not tolerated is an affront to the YU model.

  13. emma says:

    “insinuating that bnei torah are not tolerated is an affront to the YU model.”

    more specifically, insinuating that any true “ben torah” would opt out of the bible class is an affront to the YU model.

    also, don’t you mean HUC, not HIR?

  14. IH says:

    MMhY — just to clarify, I wasn’t talking about YCT either.

  15. Gil Student says:

    He is specifically referring to the Intro to Bible requirement, which includes exposure to heretical ideas which some Bnei Torah might not want. I agree with Judah. There should be a Tanach-only option without the biblical criticism.

  16. IH says:

    It’s called Touro/Lander, no?

  17. Gil Student says:

    That’s precisely his point. YU is going to lose (is already losing) that demographic.

  18. Nachum says:

    “for the record, the leaders of HIR and JTS (ellenson and sorsch, i believe) spoke / gave blessings at pres joel’s investiture.”

    No, they didn’t. I was there. The only person who spoke from another institution was the president of George Washington University. They may have marched in the procession with the heads or representatives of a whole bunch of other schools, but I don’t remember even that.

    *Some* Intro to Bible sections are taught by people who mention, in passing and in refutation, Biblical criticism. It’s easy to avoid them- him, to be precise- if you’re that fearful. Regardless, that’s not what they said. The first article called to shut down the department altogether, and the second perversely implies that “Bnei Torah” shouldn’t learn Tanach.

  19. Gil Student says:

    Nachum: No, he refers to and objects to “academic Bible”.

    In my personal experience, it was impossible to avoid exposure to biblical criticism and other provocative challenges to tradition.

  20. emma says:

    Gil: “some Bnei Torah” might object.
    title: “benei torah,” unqualified, ie all benei torah, are not tolerated.
    big difference.

    FTR I agree that YU seems to be painting itself into a corner where the pool of potential students for whom YU is a better fit than other options is dwindling. Though I think the biggest driver there is the high costs.

  21. Gil Student says:

    emma: I agree. The title was poorly chosen.

  22. ruvie says:

    Gil – can we ascertain that “academic” bible is really being taught in the intro course. Can we compare the syllabus to other intro courses at major universities? I thought biblical criticism is taught in later courses only.

    “Other provocative challenges to tradition” – do you mean rishonim on the bible (or archeology) or other secular courses like in the sciences?

  23. Gil Student says:

    ruvie: Be my guest, ascertain.

    By provocative challenges, I mean implying that the Jewish tradition is false. Sowing doubts into young minds.

    You may be OK with what is taught but many (most?) in the Orthodox community is not.

  24. Steve Brizel says:

    I agree with Judah Diament’s article and R Gil’s comment-There should be an alternative track to academic Bible that will help YU compete for Bnei Torah who would otherwise choose Lander/Touro. I think that it would behoove all of us to remember that academic Bible at YU existed as a means to show YU is “different” than other yeshivos. The question remains-in a generation where many entering college freshmen are woefully unable to make a leining on primary Rishonim such as Ramban, Ibn Ezra, Seforno, and such Acharonim as HaEmek Davar and Meshech Chachmah, the issue of becoming textually literate should assume just as if not more importance than knowing what an academic Bible scholar’s views with respect to Kabalas HaTorah, etc.

  25. “Masorti rabbis perform first conversions in Lisbon”

    so now portugal has jews who are really christians as well as christians who are really jews?

  26. intersting juxtaposition of articles on decline of the intellectual rabbi and “academic” bible at YU

    regarding the decline of the intellectual rabbinate, i’ve wondered to what extent the flourishing of academic judaica has proved to be a MO brain drain. what would the jewish world look today if those names we recognize as prominent MO academics had instead (or also) pursued the rabbinate?

  27. Steve Brizel says:

    Abba wrote in part:

    “what would the jewish world look today if those names we recognize as prominent MO academics had instead (or also) pursued the rabbinate?”

    “What if” questions are akin to positing that if a person had wheels, he or she would neither need a car or a bicylce. Many people choose academia because they are more or most comfortable in that world, as opposed to the rabbinate which imposes more duties and enormous chesed driven and rooted responsibilities on a rav towards all of his members, regardless of age, level of education, committment or gender.

  28. STEVE:

    “in a generation where many entering college freshmen are woefully unable to make a leining on primary Rishonim such as Ramban, Ibn Ezra, Seforno, and such Acharonim as HaEmek Davar and Meshech Chachmah . . .”

    you make it seem as if this is a novel development. as if in previous generations all 18-year-old could “make a leining”

    “the issue of becoming textually literate should assume just as if not more importance than knowing what an academic Bible scholar’s views with respect to Kabalas HaTorah, etc.”

    i don’t disagree, but the 2 goals are not mutually exclusive

    “I think that it would behoove all of us to remember that academic Bible at YU existed as a means to show YU is “different” than other yeshivos.”

    YU *isn’t* different than other yeshivos? it had better be different! it isn’t just another yeshiva, it is the flagship of MO. now we can quibble over the extent to which SCAB (so-called academic bible) is core to a MO torah education, but if YU feels that it is core, then so it should be and YU should not reduce itself to groveling to would-be defectors. and not because i’m opposed in principle to an alternative tract because i think SCAB is that important , but i am opposed in principle to YU giving in on matters of how it define itself as MO (again, without quibbling over what makes it MO). also, i don’t think there are too many prospective students who really choose lander over YU because of SCAB (although there may be some who use it as an excuse to mask other reasons). they choose lander because of $ (big difference!) and more general hashkafic differences. i mean for crying out loud, how many times does it have to be pointed out here that no one is forced to take the section with that controversial professor. (for example, does anyone think r. wieder is trying to lead his students OTD?) students know how to pick the right sections that have “mesorah” for old tests, but they can’t choose a kosher SCAB section?

  29. “YU *isn’t* different than other yeshivos? it had better be different!”

    and just to add, i don’t think YU needs to apologize for being different than other yeshivos. as if all the yeshivos in the yeshiva velt are themselves identical copies of some idealized yeshiva? ner israel isn’t telz isn’t lakewood isn’t tora vodaas isn’t beis yosef isn’t tomchei temimim isn’t ben porat yosef etc. so why should YU feel the need to conform all of them or any of them?

  30. STEVE:

    ““What if” questions are akin to positing that if a person had wheels. . .”

    grow an imagination

    “Many people choose academia because they are more or most comfortable in that world”

    obviously, but the point is that until relatively recently that choice didn’t even exist. there really was no such thing as jewish academia. how many chaired positions do you think there were just 50-60 years ago? baron at columbia, wolfson at harvard, anyone else? you can’t deny (well perhaps you could) that at one time an intellectually inclined frum student had only career one path available that would let him engage in jewish intellectual endeavors. now there are 2 paths. so today, some of our most talented and brightest youngsters go into academia rather than the rabbinate. (this is not a dig against those who choose the rabbinate, it’s just what i observe to be a fact.) now here is where the what if comes in.

    “as opposed to the rabbinate which imposes more duties and enormous chesed driven and rooted responsibilities on a rav towards all of his members, regardless of age, level of education, committment or gender.”

    you clearly have no idea of the duties of an academic. yes, there are some superstarscholars who mostly do what they please, but from what i have seen, in large part academics have just as many responsibilities and are just as busy as a pulpit rabbi, even if in a different manner.

  31. ftr, my comment about jewish academia being a brain drain with reference to MO, but i think it applies to the jewish world and jewish leadership in general.

  32. STEVE:

    “I think that it would behoove all of us to remember that academic Bible at YU existed as a means to show YU is “different” than other yeshivos.

    are you saying that it was instituted davka for this purpose? source?

  33. IH says:

    That’s precisely his point. YU is going to lose (is already losing) that demographic. [to Touro/Lander]

    YU is certainly aware of the tradeoff without these two articles and has made its decision, presumably based on the academic standards it believes are required. In the end, this is a standard argument about “required courses” in universities. It’s kinda funny switch though as to the protesting demographic.

  34. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    “and has made its decision”

    the decision is that yu’s competition is UMd, not touro.

    therefore, he can raise tuition as much as he wants. (even if he gives more scholarships, parents dont perceive it as such.)

    abba — is that unnamed prof Rabbi W? i thought it was Dr K. W is a proper RY; you cant challenge him on these issues. but of course, some do, and i dont really think we want that demographic.

  35. joel rich says:

    http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/04/building_the_future_nj_college.html
    Take a look down the list for BMG. I’d love to see the grant application and the analysis by government officials as to how this met the goals articulated in the description:
    Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-Union) proposed the public referendum for the November election that was signed by the governor.

    “Last November, New Jersey voters made the right decision to invest $750 million in improvements for colleges and universities around this state,” Kean said in a statement last night. “Today, the public’s investment is honored by the approval of dozens of projects all over the state that will make colleges more competitive and attractive. These colleges are now charged to offer the most innovative tools for the success of their students, who will ultimately be leaders in New Jersey’s workforce.

    KT

  36. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    joel — what do you want? its now a legitimate pricvate college.

  37. Gil Student says:

    Decisions can be revisited. I’m not aware of any other college that requires academic Bible. I suspect this is more inertia than conscious decision.

  38. joel rich says:

    Usually grant applications have to articulate how the request comports with the grant guidelines. Just curious how this was done given the number of requests I assume a compelling case was made.
    KT

  39. Steve Brizel says:

    Abba-Academic Bible at YU has always struck me as an exercise in Haskalah rammed down the student body. Literacy in the classical Mfarshim seems to me to be a far more worthwhile and important objective.The alternative is being dependent on the Charedi Catechism spearheaded by ArtScroll. Being textually literate in such sources is far more important for the average YU graduate ( and any Ben Torah) than being aware of academic Bible scholarship’s challenge-which as Yehudah Diament points out-hardly poses a threat to anyone.As far as MO Judaic studies professors in the rabbinate, for many, academia is a far better fit than the demands of the pulpit.

  40. Steve Brizel says:

    Abba-I have stated this previously, but my view of YU is as follows. For most of the average YU class, it is their last exposure on an organized level to Talmud Torah, even and especially after a year or two in Israel, while confronting the difficult and conflicting reality of deciding on a major, pre professional plans, etc. To the extent that the RY succeed in implanting the importance of Kvias Itim BaTorah to the average non Smicha or Kollel heading YU grad, the RY play a huge role in implanting and encouraging the same, despite all of the outside influences militating against the same.

  41. Steve Brizel says:

    Abba responded to my comment as follows:

    “the issue of becoming textually literate should assume just as if not more importance than knowing what an academic Bible scholar’s views with respect to Kabalas HaTorah, etc.”

    i don’t disagree, but the 2 goals are not mutually exclusive

    The issue is one of importance and priorities. I would argue that being textually literate in the classical texts and their commentaries should be the goal of every graduate of YU. The threat posed by academic Bible, as indicated by Judah Diament, borders on the infinitestimal.

  42. Gil Student says:

    For the record, as should be clear from this blog, I am personally a big fan of academic Bible. But I believe in different strokes for different folks.

  43. STEVE:

    “I would argue that being textually literate in the classical texts and their commentaries should be the goal of every graduate of YU.”

    i agree. but the reason that this isn’t the case has little to nothing to do with a one semester requirement of so-called academic bible.

    ” my view of YU is as follows”

    i’m not sure why that was directed to me

    “As far as MO Judaic studies professors in the rabbinate, for many, academia is a far better fit than the demands of the pulpit.”

    yes. and many would have also made fine if not great pulpit rabbis.

    “being aware of academic Bible scholarship’s challenge-which as Yehudah Diament points out-hardly poses a threat to anyone”

    i think diament is being a bit disingenuous wrt to the threat assessment. he says that in all his years working no one has ever accosted him with a challenge to his faith using arguments from
    academic bible. i don’t doubt this is true, and i think rings true for most others as well. but the threat doesn’t come from hostile co-workers, but rather from more benign sources, such as a typical history channel bible era documentary, a new york times book review, encyclopedia judaica, a chaim potok novel (or the hertz chumash itself), *any* non-artscroll type survey of ancient jewish history, accidental website visits, etc. i think the average MO will be presented with academic bible issues from these types of sources to a much greater degree than he would admit.

    but in any case, this whole issue silly. fwiu, higher bib crit (and the responses), which is what i assume is really the concern in this whole discussion, is only a tiny, tiny, tiny percentage of the curriculum. (for comparative purposes, about as much time as is given to evolution in introductory biology course.) and no one is forced to take the section with a controversial teacher. this is why i can’t believe that the bible requirement is the real reason he doesn’t want to send his kids to YU. otherwise, why not just make sure his kids register for one of the kosher sections?

  44. emma says:

    does stern have a bible requirement?

  45. Nachum says:

    Steve, with all due respect, did you take Intro to Bible? Allow me:

    I took it, and had Prof. Elman. (I was pretty much assigned, being a first-year freshman in IBC.) That’s who we’re talking about here; he’s the *only* person to even mention Biblical criticism, and that was to criticize it. The whole discussion was maybe ten minutes of one class for a full-semester course. I feel richer for having had him. (In addition to a private Navi melamed who basically let on that it was OK not to believe that the second half of Yishayahu was written by the same person who wrote the first half.) But if one’s belief system is so delicate, here’s the solution: Take someone else, and for the rest of your Bible courses, take “safe” text-based courses. I took both text and non-text courses, and the non-text ones were about as “safe” as you can imagine.

    Hey, I’d be happy if YU’s Bible classes were more maskilish (a word Steve seems to think is dirty). But they’re not- they mostly reserve that for Revel.

  46. Gil Student says:

    he’s the *only* person to even mention Biblical criticism, and that was to criticize it

    That’s not true. The Intro to Bible I took was a sustained attack on “yeshivish” ideas.

  47. IH says:

    So? Why should an institution with a stated hashkafa not work to instill that hashkafa in its students?

  48. Shlomo says:

    So? Why should an institution with a stated hashkafa not work to instill that hashkafa in its students?

    Would you say the same thing if it was a “right-wing” hashkafa, or would you be talking about the threat to intellectual freedom and the marketplace of ideas?

  49. IH says:

    Shlomo — yes. It would be absurd, for example, for someone to complain about anti-Zionist hashkafa at a Satmar institution because some students may be offended. Institutions stands for things — if you opposed to that thing, you should not enroll at that institution.

  50. ruvie says:

    Gil – “The Intro to Bible I took was a sustained attack on “yeshivish” ideas.’

    can you explain what “yeshivish ideas” are and are not.

    the course is intro to bible not academic bible. its a yc class for credit like any other university not a shiur or parashat hashvua class. should the students not know what bible criticism is? lower as well as higher? its not taught as gospel – its watered down – scab as abba’s rantings’ described it – and a minimall amount of time spent on it.

  51. Aaron Ross says:

    Forget about an academic Bible requirement – how about just a Bible requirement? How many people entering Yeshiva College have a decent grasp of any significant portion of Tanach?

    And, WADR to my good friend Judah Diament, can someone be a “ben Torah” and still want to learn academic bible (at least within the context of YU)? I know a good number of people who I would consider bnei Torah who also know their academic Bible. Are they not bnei Torah? And who sets that definition?

  52. Gil Student says:

    IH: So? Why should an institution with a stated hashkafa not work to instill that hashkafa in its students?

    That is a decent argument. It is also an argument for people who don’t espouse that hashkafah to study elsewhere, which IMHO would be disastrous for YU.

    ruvie: can you explain what “yeshivish ideas” are and are not

    For example, that the Torah text we have is the same text that Moshe received.

  53. IH says:

    It is also an argument for people who don’t espouse that hashkafah to study elsewhere

    Some will, some won’t; as has always been the case.

  54. joel rich says:

    if someone opened a torah uparnassah institution not under chareidi leadership and charged 3/4 of what YU did, what percentage of its student body would YU lose?
    KT

  55. GIL:

    “For example, that the Torah text we have is the same text that Moshe received.”

    one could argue that this isn’t the yeshivish view, but rather the popular view (or some might prefer, the amaratzus view). i say this not to make fun of the velt, but to point out that it is held by many MO too

    “It is also an argument for people who don’t espouse that hashkafah to study elsewhere”

    obviously if someone has real issues with overall YU hashkafa then they will go elsewhere. but i’m still scratching my head wondering how someone who otherwise has no stated issues with YU wouldn’t send a child because of the bible requirement. what’s the hashkafic issue at stake? just make sure your kid is registered in a kosher section.

    IH:

    “Why should an institution with a stated hashkafa not work to instill that hashkafa in its students?”

    i’m surprised you would say this about an institution of higher learning.

  56. Gil Student says:

    ruvie: just make sure your kid is registered in a kosher section

    What kosher section? You mean the section that doesn’t cover lower biblical criticism in Intro to Bible? I don’t think it exists.

  57. ruvie says:

    I would agree with abba that its more a popular view – torah text- than a yeshivish view. there really is nothing heretical in that course (but we have been here before on resnick’s article).

    are there many “yeshivish” students at yu anyway? these days wearing a black hat doesn’t make you yeshivish. btw, the admissions office has been pushing to eliminate this requirement for years.

  58. Nachum says:

    Oh, so now *lower* criticism is problematic? You spin a cocoon that tight, you’re setting your kids up for a crash.

  59. Gil Student says:

    What do you mean *now*?

    Are you honestly not aware that many (most?) Orthodox Jews recoil at the idea that there are post-Mosaic interpolations in the Torah? You might be OK with that, even think it is conclusively proven, but that’s not the issue.

  60. ruvie says:

    Gil – 3:31 pm was not my quote.
    its interesting to note the author of the article wants the school to be tolerant to “benei torah” who “find” an intro to bible course “religiously objectionable” regardless if it is. you just have to feel if it is.

    since we are discussing academic bible – or mbs- read the interview with james kugel in the yu beacon: very thoughtful questions by the interviewers:

    http://thebeaconmag.com/2013/04/features/interview-with-james-kugel/

    also i see LSS is having an event with both Kugel and R’ Leibtag on may 6th:

    Modern Biblical Scholarship and Traditional Belief
    Prestentations and Q&A with Professor James Kugel and Rabbi Menachem Leibtag

    http://www.lss.org/calendar.php?pg=Calendar&Type=Detail&evntId=879&Date=2013-05-06

  61. Steve Brizel says:

    One of the major roles of a Jew after Matan Torah is to teach his or her children the basic core elements and fundamental texts of Judaism. Relying solely on the educational system in place is at best a bdieved, and sends a very powerful negative message of what are a parent’s main priorities in life. It is far important to impart these aspects than to engage in the teaching of academic Bible which is a far reduced threat to the average Torah observant Jew than textual literacy in the core texts and their commentaries.

  62. Steve Brizel says:

    Nachum-I never took Intro to Bible because I decided that I would rather stay in JSS with its outstanding rebbes,(even though I was accepted into YP during my junior year) and especially their non-apologetical approach to Chumash which was built on textual literacy of the major Mfarshim. If I could have learned in YP that year without taking academic Bible, I would have really had a much more difficult choice to make, but IIRC, such a choice was unavailable to me.

    As far as hashkafic labels such as TuM are considered, see my comment in the thread on R Rothstein’s article.

  63. Steve Brizel says:

    IH wrote in part:

    “It is also an argument for people who don’t espouse that hashkafah to study elsewhere

    Some will, some won’t; as has always been the case.”

    I am sure that thee are many YU and SCW parents who send their children to either Touro, Lander, or yeshivos to the “right” of RIETS , YC and SCW for the above hashkafic related reasons and many others that are utterly unrelated to the cost factor.

  64. Gil Student says:

    ruvie: its interesting to note the author of the article wants the school to be tolerant to “benei torah” who “find” an intro to bible course “religiously objectionable” regardless if it is. you just have to feel if it is.

    It’s not a matter of “feeling”. There are plenty of traditional sources that back them up but who wants to go through that debate again? If a rosh yeshiva isn’t sufficient to decide that something is religiously objectionable, then who is?

  65. IH says:

    If there is substance to this debate, I would expect Kol Hamevaser to interview the Dean of Yeshiva College to: a) understand YU’s position; and, b) contextualize the issue(s). Have I missed that article?

  66. Gil Student says:

    IH: My information is that there will be big discussion of this issue within the next few weeks.

  67. IH says:

    Great. Then presumably we’ll be able to have an informed discussion instead of one based on hearsay derived from polemics.

  68. Steve Brizel says:

    IH-whatever the position of YU is, I think that the YU, SCW and RIETS alumni who post here can tell you, regardless of their hashkafic views, that one should never confuse anything published by the PR Department or a public statement by any YU official as being anywhere close to the facts on the ground. Slogans like synthesis, TuM, Centrism, etc are nice advertising mantras and food for thought at think tanks and similar confabs, but any proponent or adherent to the same IMO should either ask themselves or be ready to answer the following queries-does the hashkafa supplement or supplant your committment to Torah, Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim? Does it create the questionnable notion that a secular text deserves the same reverence as a Cheftzah Shel Torah?

  69. ruvie says:

    from a former YU administrator:

    “It is an unsolvable problem. The place is attempting to be several different somewhat mutually exclusive things. That is why the same issues keep emerging.”

  70. Steve Brizel says:

    Ruvie wrote:

    “since we are discussing academic bible – or mbs- read the interview with james kugel in the yu beacon: very thoughtful questions by the interviewers:

    http://thebeaconmag.com/2013/04/features/interview-with-james-kugel/

    I thought that the Beacon had ceased being affiliated with YU or being funded by YU.

  71. joel rich says:

    from a former YU student:

    “It is an unsolvable problem. HKB”H is requiring several different somewhat mutually exclusive things. That is why the same issues keep emerging.”

    KT

  72. mycroft says:

    “that one should never confuse anything published by the PR Department or a public statement by any YU official as being anywhere close to the facts on the ground.”

    The same statement IMO applies to most organizations and politicians.

  73. Nachum says:

    Gil, I’m afraid you’ve misused the term “lower criticism.” Suggesting post-Mosaic interpolations of the kind suggested by Ibn Ezra (and attacked, ironically, by the granddaddy of Steve’s dreaded “maskilim,” Mendelssohn himself) is a (mild, compared to Wellhausen) form of *higher* criticism. Lower criticism is trying to find the most accurate text, something you see in the back of every sefer of Tanach ever printed. Now, even that might be a threat to certain people’s emuna, and has gotten people attacked as apikorsim by the pashkevil-pasters of Meah Shearim, but it’s a big part of our mesorah. Even R’ Reisman throws in references to Ben Naftali in his classes.

    Steve, call me cynical, but I have a hard time believing that as a college junior you were that aware and/or extreme that a few standard classes in Tanach (you would have been exempt from Intro) kept you from transferring to YP. And, if I may be so bold, your post is offensive: I remained happily ensconced in IBC for four years taking heretical course offerings above and beyond what was required, and of a nature that would turn a Lander student white. Yeah, I know, IBC is for nebachs who can’t hack a “real” shiur, as you’ve said in the past. But I suppose that I should wear the lack of an officially-approved “Ben Torah” badge with pride, considering how the phrase “Torah world” has been corrupted, Hashem have mercy on us.

    “My information is that there will be big discussion of this issue within the next few weeks.”

    I can’t decide whether this is funny (on multiple levels), sad, or frightening. I suppose I’ll just have to see. YU, of course, takes the same attitude toward these things many universities do, the correct attitude, in my view, to take to college kids who think they know it all: “They’ll be gone in a couple of years and we’ll be on to a new mishegas.”

  74. Gil Student says:

    Nachum: You are correct. Both are objectionable to those with a more traditional bent. I do not believe that you will find conjectural emendations in the back of any Chumashim.

    And what Ibn Ezra’s view is, is debated.

  75. Nachum says:

    “Both are objectionable to those with a more traditional bent.”

    Good. (Obviously, of course, “traditional” by their own definition, as I can think of a whole bunch of statements of Chazal, Rishonim, Acharonim, and contemporary scholars who wouldn’t fit that bill.) And at what point does YU keep accommodating those “traditional” folks? What happens when they start saying that they can’t take humanities or sciences? When they demand four years of professional studies and a ditching of liberal arts? Does YU get to say, “No, sorry, we’re YU, we’re a Modern Orthodox- yes, traditional- university, and we teach certain things.”

    I’m sure there are lots of “traditional” types who wouldn’t want to take biology, or English, or music.

    “I do not believe that you will find conjectural emendations in the back of any Chumashim.”

    Once again, you fail to grasp what “lower criticism” is. It has nothing to do with emendations. Lower criticism is what every single masorete did. And in the backs of Chumashim and Tanachs, you will see lists of masoretic notes engaging in exactly that. Just because no one reads or understands them doesn’t make them treif.

    “And what Ibn Ezra’s view is, is debated.”

    I know this. I also know it’s debated only by people who refuse to see the evidence in front of their eyes.

    And what Ibn Ezra’s view is, is debated.

  76. Gil Student says:

    Key word is “conjectural,” which makes a huge difference. And you will find very, very little variants of any kind in the backs of Chumashim unless you are looking at vocalization.

    I know this. I also know it’s debated only by people who refuse to see the evidence in front of their eyes.

    Spoken like a true believer.

  77. Shalom Rosenfeld says:

    Interesting how the Dutch prayer for the monarch retains
    יפיל שונאיו לפניו
    as found in older versions of the prayer, but omits
    ידבר עמים תחת רגליו.

    Also how “רחמנות” is replaced with “a spirit of justice.” (We don’t want your pity, we just want a fair shake …)

  78. ruvie says:

    other comments from former YU classmates and what not –

    “This is kind of bizarre; what is this xxxxx talking about, that he was required to study Ibn Ezra? That was too much apikorsus for him? He should object to being required to study Talmud too because an academic form of that exists too.”

    “that students will encounter challenging ideas in the NY Times, or on the History Channel, or in Barnes & Noble, I was told that they will never read, watch, or visit those, so it’s not a problem. Good, no?”

    “not sure why Intro to Bible is required of all students, but we don’t even teach Talmud. Too many problems….”

    “By the standards of many current and former YU students, Moshe Bernstein is over the line edgy. May be hard for you to believe but is the way it is.”

    Nacum – nebechs unite? never was in IBC only EMC ;) where 1st yr students went to the dean to complain that Introduction to the talmud by herman strack was required reading (because written by a non jew).

  79. joel rich says:

    “We don’t want to settle” for less on either front, Carolyn says.
    =============================================
    We all would like more taste less filling, that’s what life is about, that’s what defines our true priorities (not saying what this couple should do)
    KT

  80. joel rich says:

    In my day the complaint was about the introduction to art class (I was very frum and didn’t attend any classes in any subject due to my concern for being exposed to apikorsut, or was I protesting vietnam, or YU taking Bundy money – it’s all a blur for some strange reason)
    KT

  81. Shalom Rosenfeld says:

    ME: “Isn’t there some sort of architecture class available to fulfill the art requirement?”

    FRIEND: “If YU had one, I’d bet the buildings wouldn’t be wearing any clothing.”

  82. Gil Student says:

    ruvie: This is kind of bizarre; what is this xxxxx talking about, that he was required to study Ibn Ezra? That was too much apikorsus for him? He should object to being required to study Talmud too because an academic form of that exists too

    Someone who lacks the ability to communicate like a mensch doesn’t deserve a response.

  83. ruvie says:

    Gil – actually he did not use such a derogatory word but i decided to edited anyway – “loonie” is quaint but not unmenschlichkit (in my book). besides it was a personal one to me and not the public. nevertheless, the comment stands on its own.

    If YU changes anything it will because of recruitment quotas not being met…nothing else, imho. but to take the more advanced classes in jewish studies – intro the bible will still be mandatory. the complaints seem to emanate from reits grads who usually minor (at least) in judaic studies – so its moot (for them) if there is no requirement in general.

  84. ruvie says:

    Nachum – is there a listing of all the shiurim (english and hebrew) in yerushalayim on shavuot night somewhere? thanks in advance.

  85. Gil Student says:

    ruvie: The objection is not to teaching the Ibn Ezra specifically, but to teaching it in the context of showing that the text we have is not the text Moshe gave. As we know, there are disagreements among the rishonim about what constitutes apikorsus. I am not sure why your correspondent feels the need to force the view he follows on others. Is he anti-Rambam?

    And for the record, I have no problem with reading all sorts of apikorsus but I understand why many do.

  86. Nachum says:

    Ruvie: I’ll keep an eye out. Of course, various locations in my neighborhood are up all night- Bet Avi Chai is popular, the Great Synagogue usually has a Jewish Law themed one (both of those in Hebrew), the OU Center has all night in English (see Torah Tidbit this week), but I haven’t seen a consolidated list. I suppose someone will make one and will look for it.

  87. ruvie says:

    Gil – I am confused. How does one teach intro to bible without discussing its transmission? and if you discuss the issue in an accredited university course how do you stifle views that appear more correct than others and traditional ones to boot (based on evidence and not philosophy)? because someone is ignorant or may not understand beyond the “little midrash says”?

    As you know, there is no such thing as THE masoretic text. there are many as attested by the meiri and many others(variants and attestation appear in the talmuds, midrashim, as well as asserted by abraham ben rambam too). Its impossible to speak of the torah found in our hands today as the same as one given to moshe,
    Rambam’s view is neither a majority of traditional opinion nor has any evidence supporting its assertion (or whether he believes it himself and is contradicted in his other writings- much evidence as discussed by many scholars). it belongs in a philosophy course not an intro to bible that students claim should not discuss the majority of tradition view on transmission because it might offend an “untraditional” view.

  88. Gil Student says:

    ruvie: Your condescending tone is precisely the problem. The answer is simple: don’t make the college accredited introductory course mandatory. What other school mandates it?

  89. ruvie says:

    Gil – moi? i find their logic offensive when they cite “religiously objectionable”, shouldn’t be force down their throats, “have a right to their opinion and should not be forced to do that which they find objectionable.” nu, the world was created in 6 days and is less than 6,000 yrs old should never be countered in a mandatory class too?

    why should there be any mandatory college accredited courses in judaic studies at all? is a fair question on its own – not just intro to bible.

    I think this horse has been beaten enough.

  90. Gil Student says:

    ruvie: moi?

    Yes. Your dismissal of Maimonideans as people who read “The Little Midrash Says”. That is the problem.

    nu, the world was created in 6 days and is less than 6,000 yrs old should never be countered in a mandatory class too?

    In my day, it wasn’t.

    Regardless, if YU wants to send the message that you have to study biblical criticism (even if by rishonim) then that is the school’s prerogative. I believe it is a mistake.

  91. Machshavos says:

    From an academic angle, I don’t see why the course need be mandatory.

    From a “da ma shetashiv” angle, I’m not so sure.

  92. ruvie says:

    Gil – chas v’shalom that i would dismiss Maimonideans. Maybe anti ani maamins with no exposure other than the knowledge of a child of “little midrash says”. that is to say none of talmud and midrashim – where text and variants are discussed not just in the rishonim. If they take the rambam literally on the exact same masoretic text as moshe after knowing the issues involved as well as the talmuds and midrashim, nu so be it and no issue – faith is faith(eventhough that is no what we are discussing). its the attitude of not willing to learn the issue (views) that should be disturbing to everyone with no exception.

    again, why is any yc accredited courses in judaic studies mandatory is a fair question.

    “In my day, it wasn’t.”
    seriously? not in any mandatory science class (science- physics,biology.- major)? isn’t that disturbing to those with “traditional” values? isn’t that “forcing objectionable views down one’s throat”?

  93. Gil Student says:

    ruvie: Again, it’s a matter of tone. If the professor would teach the Talmud and midrashim from the perspective of R. Chaim Heller’s studies, then there would be no problem. That isn’t how it is done. And if it was done that way, you’d be screaming bloody murder.

    I took physics for majors and the age of the universe never came up.

  94. ruvie says:

    Gil – perhaps you are right, i can only go by the 2 recent articles that focused on what was taught and not how. they may not realize how correct you are but object to who was teaching (a professor vs. a rabbi in some cases) as well.

  95. Shades of Gray says:

    There was an exchange between a posting on the Curious Jew blog(first quote), and a commenter, in response to Eliot Resnick’s article:

    “I do not think Yeshiva College should shut down their Bible department. But I think that it is fair to contend that either Intro to Bible should not be mandatory, or different forms of Intro to Bible should be taught. Some of them can be very academic and focus on textual analysis. Others can be more midrashic and involve simply learning an overview of the text with commentaries. People can choose the one that they feel is most suitable for them; after all, we must raise each individual according to his way.”

    Commenter:

    “This problem is already addressed: the students who would find an Intro to Bible course as described above generally go to the sections taught by ‘frummer’ teachers (I use that term loosely as I do not believe it’s actually true; merely that the contents of their course are not as ‘shocking’ to the average yeshiva bochur as some of the other teachers’). The students who specifically want to study the touchier issues tend to flock to other teachers. These things aren’t secret–all the teachers have a certain reputation which is passed around, and most students know that “this class is good for your neshoma” and that “this class will make you into a kofer”, for better or for worse.”

  96. Nachum says:

    I can’t believe people are asking why YU would require certain courses. Come on: No other university requires Talmud. Maybe YU should drop that too?

    It’s best to remember that the Rambam wrote neither the Ani Maamins nor Yigdal. He wrote the introduction to Helek- and in Arabic, it doesn’t say what you think it does.

    I took biology for non-majors, and the Jewish view of evolution and the age of the universe was discussed extensively. Would you rather that evolution not be taught in biology? After all, it’s not “traditional” and may “trouble” some people.

  97. Shlomo says:

    I took physics for majors and the age of the universe never came up.

    I took modern physics for majors in an Ivy League university. On the last day of class, the professor (apparently non-Jewish) put up a slide with the first few verses of Genesis, and compared them to the stages of the Big Bang we had learned about. His conclusion was something like “If you wanted to explain the Big Bang to some shepherd living thousands of years ago, this is exactly how you would do it.”

  98. Gil Student says:

    Nachum: No one is saying that YU shouldn’t require Bible. The question is whether it should require Intro to Bible that discusses touchy theological issues.

    He wrote the introduction to Helek- and in Arabic, it doesn’t say what you think it does

    You think you’re a better translator than Rav Kafach???

    Would you rather that evolution not be taught in biology?

    First, you can’t compare evolution to the Torah’s text. But even if you could, that is not a required course!

  99. IH says:

    His conclusion was something like “If you wanted to explain the Big Bang to some shepherd living thousands of years ago, this is exactly how you would do it.”

    Nu, so why should it be controversial to discuss it in 21st century terms to an Orthodox 18+ year old today? Or do they also teach Sheep Shearing 101?

  100. Gil Student says:

    You know they say the same thing about keeping kosher, right? And many also say that about believing in God.

  101. IH says:

    And at 22 or 23 years old when that same Orthodox kid gets a job and starts to interacts with non-Jews completely unprepared?

  102. Gil Student says:

    I’ve been working in the corporate world for nearly twenty years and have never needed to know about the Bible’s transmission. Has your experience been different?

  103. IH says:

    I was discussing Shlomo’s evolution example. On the YU discussion thread I am (BN) withholding further comment until we get the YC Dean’s side of the story — my position remains:

    Gil Student on May 1, 2013 at 11:38 am
    IH: So? Why should an institution with a stated hashkafa not work to instill that hashkafa in its students?

    That is a decent argument. It is also an argument for people who don’t espouse that hashkafah to study elsewhere, which IMHO would be disastrous for YU.

    IH on May 1, 2013 at 12:09 pm
    It is also an argument for people who don’t espouse that hashkafah to study elsewhere

    Some will, some won’t; as has always been the case.

  104. Gil Student says:

    Then regarding evolution, they will do what yeshivish and young earth creationist people do: they’ll disagree.

  105. ruvie says:

    israeli politics never ceases to amaze: will see what bennett does – follow or lead but hopefully show respect.

    http://www.jpost.com/Jewish-World/Jewish-News/Rabbis-oppose-imposing-curriculum-in-haredi-schools-311934

  106. Nachum says:

    Gil, you can’t just throw the name “R’ Kafach” at me and think you’ve won the argument. Do you know what I’m referring to? It’s quite simple: The word translated into Hebrew as “word” (as in, “every word of the Torah…”) and sometimes, without any foundation, translated as “letter” in some “frum” sources, may mean something else in Arabic, like “subject.” R’ Shelat discusses this. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter: Clearly the Rambam is presenting a more “frum” point of view than even many of his contemporaries.

    “The question is whether it should require Intro to Bible that discusses touchy theological issues.”

    And, as you seem very reluctant to admit, it does no such thing. It requires Intro to Bible (and considering that many educated Jews can’t even list the books of Tanach, let alone know if, say, the Maccabim were the first or second Bayit), and different professors, all of them Orthodox Jews, choose to teach that course in different ways. My English composition professor spent a whole semester on Emerson; when I heard he was devoting the whole second semester to Hamlet, I banged down doors to get in despite of a whole bunch of Sy Syms Students who had closed the class out for their one semester requirement. It’s what you do in college.

    Science is a required course. If someone is so timid that they need to avoid anything not approved of by the Moetzes, they can take chemistry, but then may well wonder why they are in university at all.

    I wish the Tekuma rabbis would go away. They’re holding up all possibilities of reform in the Chief Rabbinate because of their personal distaste for one man.

  107. ruvie says:

    for those interested to what is really taught in intro to bible (or what is shove down their throats) see rabbi wieder intro to bible on yu torah – i believe all his lectures are available (as well as rabbi allen schwartz for intro to bible and intro to tanach)

    http://www.yutorah.com/lectures/lecture.cfm/704721/Rabbi_Jeremy_Wieder/Intro_to_Bible_Lecture_#

  108. Gil Student says:

    Nachum: Gil, you can’t just throw the name “R’ Kafach” at me and think you’ve won the argument

    And likewise, you can’t just throw the word “Ani Maamin” and think you’ve won the argument. As you point out yourself, I am indeed quoting the Rambam correctly for this point so what is your problem???

    And, as you seem very reluctant to admit, it does no such thing. It requires Intro to Bible…

    The point is simple: make it easy for someone uninterested in these issues of transmission — someone who shares the hashkafos of most of the rashei yeshiva — to get a YU degree. You’re saying it already is easy. And a whole bunch of us who went through the system are saying you’re wrong. Who should I believe, you or my lying eyes?

  109. Gil

    “someone who shares the hashkafos of most of the rashei yeshiva”

    I’m not sure what the point is here of referencing the authority of the RYs. If they had their way Yu would probably look very different, intro to bible aside.

  110. Gil Student says:

    That point is precisely Judah Diament’s. Do we want students who share the hashkafos of the YU rashei yeshiva to feel under attack in YU? That was how I felt when I was a student.

  111. IH says:

    Ah, so now we’re getting closer to the crux issue. Assuming the entire YU enterprise (e.g. its professional schools) are there to support RIETS as the flagship Rabbinical Seminary for Modern Orthodoxy, should RIETS be led by Rashei Yeshiva who do not really represent the hashkafa of Torah U Madda?

  112. emma says:

    “Do we want students who share the hashkafos of the YU rashei yeshiva to feel under attack in YU? That was how I felt when I was a student.”

    Not having any horse in the YU game, my impression is that every ideological camp at YU feels under attack… Which is not good, but suggests that the solution may lie not in eliminating the perceived sources of attack for any particular group but in some other cultural change at the institution…

  113. Gil:

    i referred above to r wieder and ruviw linked to his classes. How exactly does he attack students in his classes with different hashkafos? I don’t doubt that that some feel uncomfortable because they are presented with information that doesn’t correlate with their (mis)understandings, but how are they “under attack”?

  114. Does r. Schwartz attack his students? Does prof Leiman (I know not in yc, but in revel and bc)? At a certain point this whole charge becomes an insult to these people.

    As far as an alternative to intro, my friend’s wife still talks 20 years later about the apikorus teacher (r Avi Weiss) she had in stern. Why because he understood the peshat that dovid hamelech sinned. Nothing to do with transmission or other areas of scab. So maybe peshat oriented classes should also be banned.

  115. Agree with IH.

    I’m curious What % of RY send their own kids through the YU system?

  116. Gil:

    Prof leiman states “The trouble with Jewish education is that we never move beyond the elementary level. We repeat the same thing year after year and never deepen our understanding of Torah . . . I’d like to close with favorite passage from sifre musar, which sums up what jewish education is all about
    Bahya ibn pakida (hovos levavos): a person must make a reckoning with his soul for everthing that pertains to knowledge of god and god’s torah and the histories and tradition of the jewish people. And the meaning of the prayers and hymns we recite. These are all things we learn in youth when mind begins to grow and first initiated into studies.for the fofr of subtle ideas in the eyes of someone of weal understading is very different than in the eyes of an intelligent person. The stronger your understanding, the stronger becomes your certainty of things. Therefore don’t be content with what you learned in your youth at the beginning of your studies. But reconsider with what you were taught with regard to torah, neviim now that your mind is stronger, your understanding is sharper. As if you had never read a letter of them you never learned. Same with tefilos. Try to understand their language and purpose, so when you approach the lord with those words you will understand the words you tongue is uttering and the meaning your heart wishes to convey. Don’t allow the habits of your youth to continue. You have to deal the same way with jewish history and all jewish traditions. You may not be satisfied with you achieve when you began your studies, rather demand of yoursself to restudy, relearn, as if you are novice. Reconsider everything you are taught until you discover new meaning in the torah, prophets, sages. Such things you could have never have understood from the teachers who taught you when you first began your studies.” (From his lag baomer lecture, Any transcription errors my own)

    I don’t think anyone would accuse him of being a lwmo with an agenda to attack students in his classes.

  117. Gil Student says:

    We are discussing a required Intro to Bible course. I don’t know how every professor teaches it. I know that I was closed out of every professor and had to take one who did make me feel under attack. Others agree, such as Elliot Resnick and Judah Diament. I have heard similar from current students, as well.

    The simple solution is not to require the course. There are more complicated solutions.

    The question is whether YU wants non-adherents of Torah U-Madda to attend the school. My guess is that most students fall into that category, both on the left and right.

  118. Gil Student says:

    Does Prof. Leiman teach Intro to Bible?

    Deepening your understanding does not have to involve issues of transmission. Spend the time on parshanut!

  119. GIL:

    i don’t know what he does today, but he used to teach the intro to bible in revel and in brooklyn college (he also taught there a much more abbreviated version as a component in his section of the college’s required multiculturalism course. thousands have taken that class with him.)

  120. aside from steve’s claims of a maskilic conspiracy, can anyone knowledgably comment on the origins of the class at YU?

  121. GIL:

    i think it would fascinating if you could arrange for some type of a forum here with some of the intro instructors disucssing their own attitudes to the class. short of that, perhaps you can procur a guest post from any of the names mentioned here

  122. Gil Student says:

    E-mail me and I’ll explain why I won’t do that

  123. Steve Brizel says:

    I never used the term “maskilic conspiracy”-I merely posited that teaching academic Bible was a sop to the view of the maskilim which for the vast majority of YC and SCW students will have zero bearing on their lives-I stand with R Gil-anyone who works in the secular world has to deal with such issues as leaving early for Shabbos and YT, Kashrus and Nivul Peh in the workplace as a givem. Issues such as transmission of the Torah have never been raised in my career as a practicing attorney.

  124. Gil Student says:

    And to be clear, I enjoy academic Bible. But it isn’t for everyone. I’d say it isn’t for most frum people.

  125. Steve Brizel says:

    IH wrote:

    “Ah, so now we’re getting closer to the crux issue. Assuming the entire YU enterprise (e.g. its professional schools) are there to support RIETS as the flagship Rabbinical Seminary for Modern Orthodoxy, should RIETS be led by Rashei Yeshiva who do not really represent the hashkafa of Torah U Madda?”

    We have discussed this issue-Jewish education is a buyers’ market and parents, including RY, have the right to send their children to any institution that they view in the best interests of their children. Vieing TuM as anything more than a nice advertising slogan or food for thought at a self congratulatory think tank, as opposed to some kind of compulsory ideology, is IMO a sign of a lack of the diversity within YU and RIETS.

  126. STEVE

    “I never used the term “maskilic conspiracy””

    i didn’t say that you used that term. but you did say, “Academic Bible at YU has always struck me as an exercise in Haskalah rammed down the student body. in the absence of knowledgable input re. the origin of the class that i asked for above, i don’t know how better to describe your statement here than as a “maskilic conspiracy.”

    “Issues such as transmission of the Torah have never been raised in my career”

    as i stated above, diament was being disingenuos with this claim that he never encountered academic bible-related hostility in the workplace. this point (with which, btw, i’m sure is true) is irrelevant, because any semi-conscious, non-hermit will probably be repeatedly confronted with academic bible from a host of benign sources.

    “parents, including RY, have the right to send their children to any institution that they view in the best interests of their children”

    of course they have that right. no one denies they have such a right. and there indeed good reasons why a parent may not choose to send a child the school he or she teaches in. but there is a problem (or at the very least it is telling) when the majority of a school’s teaching staff don’t send their kids to the school in which they work (particularly considering the great financial burden that they often undertake forgoing the tuition benefits they would otherwise enjoy).

    “to some kind of compulsory ideology, is IMO a sign of a lack of the diversity within YU and RIETS”

    every yeshiva has a hashkafa, ideology, mission, whatever you want to call it. but in any case, i’m glad to see you arguing here for more divesity in YU/RIETS. i’m sure you’ll be the first to advocate that YU/RIETS/RCA/OU/YI/etc. should actively recruit from chovevei to increase diversity.

  127. whoops, i left out a closing quotation mark in this sentence that may not make sense:

    “Academic Bible at YU has always struck me as an exercise in Haskalah rammed down the student body.” in the absence of knowledgable input re. the origin of the class that i asked for above, i don’t know how better to describe your statement here than as a “maskilic conspiracy.”

  128. hagtbg says:

    I’m conflicted. YU is guided by TUM but few students when I attended were. I doubt that’s changed.

    Is this a winner-take-all situation? Either the course is required over the bona fide religious scruples of some. Or that department eventually falls apart and a department of one.

    Heresy opens the topic but its not the main point. I get exemopting someone from objectionable coursework in a purportedly religious setting.

    But, doing so really means removing the class from the 8/10 of the student body who do not view it as heretical but also, simply, don’t care all that much to put time into this. Lives are busy.

    Remove the requirement and you may well end up removing the demand which means – in an economically frugal setting such as YU today – ultimately dismissing most of the Bible Professors.

    That may not be a bad outcome if they are not meeting a demand (though it would be hard on the professors). But if a somewhat pro-Orthodox Bible department is not taught at YU, where else in American will it be taught?

    At the same time, a liberal arts education – which TUM would also somewhat advance but Torah U’Paranasa would not – demands a well-rounded person. And that implies a certain basic level of mind-broadening coursework that is mandatory. Does YU want to have a huge Judaic component that really will have 90% of the graduates have a narrower view of what Torah Judaism is? I can see that being a problem to some people as well.

    Of course, well-rounded in what? We are not in school forever. Is this necessary to be well-rounded?

  129. ruvie says:

    Gil – ” Do we want students who share the hashkafos of the YU rashei yeshiva….”
    “someone uninterested in these issues of transmission…”

    Well, what are the hashkafot of the RY – are they monolithic? YU has its requirements. the protest is only that some find it religiously objectionable. yet, we are dealing with talmud, midrashim, rishonim and a smidgen of achronim (per r’ weider intro) for 90% – the other 10% in the culture of ancient near east.

    whatever the hashkafot of the ry i assume that are knowledgable or have read/learned most if not all this material. or are you claiming otherwise? if so, shouldn’t every student be exposed to different thoughts of chazal?
    who is really interested in transmission when they walk into yu? and what of jewish history – i can’t imagine that not fraught with haskafot issues (like the persian period etc)…but one isn’t required to take ancient history.
    YU requirements:
    “All students must complete a course of study in academic Jewish studies which
    encompasses Hebrew language, Bible and Jewish History”
    http://yu.edu/uploadedFiles/Academics/Registrar/Catalogs/Undergraduate/b1%20Yeshiva%20College-12_14men.pdf

  130. Gil Student says:

    ruvie: I’m not sure if you are being facetious or you truly think there is only one way to read those midrashim and gemaras. There is a conservative way to read them also that does not involve denying Toras Moshe.

    If Bible professors had historically taught this class with sensitivity, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. But after decades of condescension — the kind you are expressing, as well — they are getting some push back. Point to R. Wieder as someone who teaches it sensitively is a red herring.

  131. ruvie says:

    Gil – not trying to be facetious nor condescending. my assumption is that the ry have been exposed to this material. i really don’t know their haskafot but even they would agree that this is within bounds of chazal – i recall a conversation with hillel davis that this course has been vetted for apikorsus (when yu had their first yom iyum in tanakh).
    even so, i would asume that the students should at least know what is out there or aware of the generalities in a survey course – which is what intro to bible is.
    on the sensitivity issue – we are in college not elementary school. imagine the student in jewish philosophy or ancient history – were do we stop?

    recently a friend (former editor of the commentator) saw a former teacher who taught intro as well as history. an article published under his reign on what he taught – according to the former professor- derailed his career at yu (he taught like in an actual university with real course readings); the administration inform him its not the place for him. its not a one way street.

  132. ruvie says:

    I can”t see how YU can eliminate intro to bible without eliminating the bible requirement. how can someone go thru YU without any bible courses? unless YC becomes a non religious institution divorce from its talmud/yeshiva morning classes.

  133. Gil Student says:

    ruvie: They can say it isn’t apikorsus because they read the texts differently, as have many commentators throughout the generations. I again point to R. Chaim Heller’s many studies on Targumim, midrashim and Gemara that read these texts differently than is commonly taught by Bible professors.

    I don’t see any reason why you cannot teach Tanach without an overview of transmission. Make Tanach a requirement but not the intro course. Or teach it with more sensitivity to the different views.

  134. ruvie says:

    Gil – “Or teach it with more sensitivity to the different views.”

    not trying to be condescending but it sounds similar to the arguments of ID. it seems more of a philosophy issue. [not to familiar with r’ dr’ heller – but i assume the knowledge in the field has advanced since his day- but of course that has nothing to do with how to read chazal].

    nobody has mention what outside knowledge supports. i think that is part of the issue. going to yu is to be expose to this – always has. this issue is more than 30 yrs old and is probably taught with more sensitivity than ever (per a bible professor currently teaching there). the real problem is the poor education pre-yu for some students including their year in israel.

  135. Steve Brizel says:

    Abba-look at the YCT flyer-there is no shortage of prominent YU faculty who are teaching at the YCT conference on Jewish thought. OTOH, the notion that YU should recruit from YCT assumes the caliber of the faculty is close to that of the faculty of RIETS. I stand by my view of the origins of the Bible requirement, which I think R Rakkafet wrote about in his books on R Eevel ZL and R Eliezer Silver ZL.

    Abba also wrote in response to my comment as follows:
    ““to some kind of compulsory ideology, is IMO a sign of a lack of the diversity within YU and RIETS”

    every yeshiva has a hashkafa, ideology, mission, whatever you want to call it. but in any case, i’m glad to see you arguing here for more divesity in YU/RIETS

    That is the beauty of RIETs-it is not monolithic-there is a great range and choice for talmidim to move from RY to RY and shiur to shiur as opposed to other yeshivos. The mission is to ensure that Talmidim recognize that one can be kovea itim LaTorah and even strive to become a Ben Torah and Talmid Chacham even while taking a college curriculum. Again-Synthesis, TuM. Centrism are nice advertsising and fund raising mantras and food for thought at self congratulatory conferences-such slogans do not have any relation to the facts on the ground.

  136. Steve Brizel says:

    Ruvie-I hate to break it to you, but one of our principal obligations after Matan Torah is to impart a Mesorah of Torah, Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim to our families. Being textually literate in the classical works serves a far more important function in that respect than either being reliant on the Charedi catechism, watered down Klei Sheni in English or modern Hebrew or in being familiar with academic Bible.

  137. Gil Student says:

    Then I guess I’m the frum equivalent of an ID advocate. So be it.

  138. Steve Brizel says:

    Throughout this discussion, and others, the assumption is that one has two alternatives-either “The Midrash Says” or Academic Bible-I would maintain that the above represents a very simplistic POV. I would argue that the real tragedy is that far too many people use either of the two alternatives as a substitute for their lack of literacy in the classical Mfarshim on Chumash and Tanach.

  139. IH says:

    YU needs to decide what it wants to be when it grows up; and how it will support itself, both financially and intellectually.

    The BIB 1015 polemics are a proxy war for an identity crisis that has long plagued the institution.

  140. Steve Brizel says:

    IH-Perhaps the reality is that YU is neither Mir nor Harvard, and has long recognized that fact and challenged its students to get the most of their experience as students both in Limudei Kodesh and Limudei Chol.

  141. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    “Jewish education is a buyers’ market and parents, including RY, have the right to send their children to any institution that they view in the best interests of their children. ”

    that is true in analyzing an individual RY or two. not true in the collective sense.

    though what %age of yu grads send their children to YU is a similarly valid question. (bonus question — what %age of torah musings commenters / lurkers send their children to YU?)

  142. joel rich says:

    R’MMHY,
    I went 3 for3 (6 for 6 if you include D-I-L’s) – pretty ironic given my compicated feelings :-)
    KT

  143. Steve Brizel says:

    Nachum wrote in part:

    “Steve, call me cynical, but I have a hard time believing that as a college junior you were that aware and/or extreme that a few standard classes in Tanach (you would have been exempt from Intro) kept you from transferring to YP. And, if I may be so bold, your post is offensive: I remained happily ensconced in IBC for four years taking heretical course offerings above and beyond what was required, and of a nature that would turn a Lander student white. Yeah, I know, IBC is for nebachs who can’t hack a “real” shiur, as you’ve said in the past.”

    Nachum-Kach Hayah HaMaaseh. I decided to stay in JSS rather than switch into YP for my last year. I can only say that since the Bible courses in IBC ( which was then called EMC, and which many translated into a far less complimentary meaning than the meaning given by those who the school was named after ) were as you described and the student body consisted of many students who were nowhere as committed to TuM as you, I never considered applying to IBC.

  144. Gil Student says:

    YU needs to decide what it wants to be when it grows up

    I agree except that I believe it should be a big tent, which requires walking a fine line. That it what it has tried to do for decades, with mixed results.

    They may need to finetune and recalibrate every once in a while, but the path it has broadly taken in the past will continue to work in the future.

  145. STBO says:

    I find it so curious to see vehement argument against the idea of letting students have the *option* of taking a controversial class. What investment do certain people have in making the contentious Intro Bible course mandatory?

    Judah Diament makes a cogent case that YU and its student body earns a net loss from the present mandate.

    The condescension here to the tune of ‘grow up’ and ‘get over it’ seems to mirror alot of the pushback that alot of frum students have received when raising their issues with the class.

    Certainly the DH has entered (or maybe passed?) the “early evening” stage of its influence and popularity. Unless you’re going into teaching at a university’s Department of Near Eastern Texts and Cultures the topic per se is almost irrelevant to the “issues” most people face in daily life.

    All of the above seems like all the better reason to endorse Diament’s suggestion.

  146. IH says:

    STBO — hagtbg on May 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm answers your curiosity.

  147. IH says:

    An irony is that it is the (politically) left-leaning that have been the most vocal protestors against required courses and core curricula in Universities.

  148. Steve Brizel says:

    MiMedinat Hayam wrote in response:

    “Jewish education is a buyers’ market and parents, including RY, have the right to send their children to any institution that they view in the best interests of their children. ”

    that is true in analyzing an individual RY or two. not true in the collective sense

    I reject the idea that RY are supposed to be viewed in a collective sense as purely intellectual and cultural cheerleaders, as oppposed to being people with their own priorities as to what they view as important in their lives.

  149. ruvie says:

    STBO – “.. irrelevant to the “issues” most people face in daily life.”
    so too are other mandatory classes. didn’t know a liberal arts education has to be relevant to people’s daily life. again, we are not talking about DH. also, if you don’t take this class then you can’t take other bible classes – therefore one can never take bible courses at YU -there is that bible requirement.

    hagtbg make some cogent points at 1:40. then again Gil suggests removing the “transmission” issue that appears to be part (or all?) of the contention -maybe a solution.

  150. STBO says:

    YU needs to decide what it wants to be when it grows up; and how it will support itself, both financially and intellectually.

    That’ll be my LOL of the day. Declaiming that the most influential and successful higher institution of Jewish academic and Torah learning in North America is in need of “growing up” is silly churlishness.

    YU’s success continues despite detractors on left and right. In a sense the school has moved beyond simple “success” into the deeper role of cultural institution. IMO leftists are especially irritated that they’re unable to establish a school that attracts more than a small fraction of YU’s student population.

    Do you or they have sage advice to offer YU on the topic of “growing” into adulthood? Call up the administration, maybe they’ll find time to pencil you in between thousands of talmidim.

  151. mycroft says:

    ““Jewish education is a buyers’ market and parents, including RY, have the right to send their children to any institution that they view in the best interests of their children. ”

    that is true in analyzing an individual RY or two. not true in the collective sense

    I reject the idea that RY are supposed to be viewed in a collective sense as purely intellectual and cultural cheerleaders, as oppposed to being people with their own priorities as to what they view as important in their lives”

    Without getting into the issue of what any individual does-there are many tradeoffs that one must face in life-one that RY, Rebbes, Rabbis etc have is the perceived tradeoff that exists in a school that they consider better for the children when that action will be counter to succeeding in what the individual believes will be best to have their students follow in a good derech. Having a Rebbe send their children to a school different than the hashkafa that the school represents gives a clear message to the students that the Rebbe doesn’t accept the message of the school but is merely employed at the school to receive a salary. Two results may happen-one that students will follow the Rebbes hashkafa as the one legitimate hashkafa or students will feel a plague on both hashkafot-the Rebbes because it doesn’t accept their parents hashkafa and their parents hashkafa as being a non legitimate hashkafa.
    There is a tradeoff that has to be recognized-and the individual decision should not be a simple one.

  152. STBO says:

    @Ruvie,

    It’s just plain silly for a Jewish college to make a semi-/quasi-/para-/sorta-/maybe- heretical course the sine qua non prerequisite for *all* other classes on the general subject. Frankly it also looks like self-defeating arrogance.

    I don’t share hagtbg view that the YU Bible Department would “fall apart” in the absence of the mandate. If it really would, that’d be a good argument for dropping the mandate immediately and allowing the department to go through some necessary self-cleansing.

    I support “mind broadening coursework”, but not universally *mandating* a *specific* class that’s in direct friction with many students religious views and contrary to the very reasons that many of them go to the school in the first place. “But if a somewhat pro-Orthodox Bible department is not taught at YU, where else in American will it be taught?” Yes, a question to answer.

    @IH — Re: core courses, the left is against required courses instituted by parties other than itself. All sorts of chic junk has since been mandated by schools under leftist administration.

  153. ruvie says:

    STBO- its been that way for over 40 years (maybe 60 plus) as a requirement. again, there is no heresy – not part of sort of either. students come in with a preconceived notion and find out there are many legitimate views in our tradition (it would seem that evidence supports one more than others).

    there wil be no cleansing even if you dropped the mandated course unless you are suggesting that there should be no bible requirement at all. most departments (if not all) make it mandatory to take an intro course before taking more advanced courses.

    the course is pro-orthodox and probably would not pass muster – or be taught much differently- as an academic intro to bible course at a standard university.
    shabbat shalom

  154. Gil Student says:

    there wil be no cleansing even if you dropped the mandated course unless you are suggesting that there should be no bible requirement at all

    I disagree. Bible is fine without the intro.

    the course is pro-orthodox and probably would not pass muster – or be taught much differently- as an academic intro to bible course at a standard university

    Our standards can be higher than too-frum-for-secular-college.

  155. IH says:

    Sometimes looking at an issue from a completely different direction can be educational.

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4375728,00.html

    “US mom: Anne Frank diary ‘pornographic’

    Woman files formal complaint with Northville school district in Michigan, claiming book containing Jewish girl’s thoughts and experiences during Holocaust is inappropriate for seventh graders”

  156. Nachum says:

    IH: When the “unexpurgated” diary came out a while back, I remembered reading some pretty racy stuff in my “standard” copy and wondering what more there could be. I guess I now know, and although I’m in favor of the truth above all, I can’t decide if I’m any richer for knowing it. I guess a good solution would be to simply keep assigning the original version, maybe with a note that if you want more, there’s a more complete edition.

    Some notes on Friday’s stories:

    1. I continue to question the “wisdom” of “inside baseball” Jewish stories being posted on non-Jewish websites like the Huffington Post. I have no doubt that many of the readers of that site are Jewish, but many are quite opposed to religion of any sort, if the comments are representative, and any article, no matter how serious, clearly does not have the intended impact. Did the author really have to drag dirty laundry out, as if that blessing is not already used by feminists to beat us over the head? What was accomplished by this piece apart from some self-righteous breast beating and publicity?

    2. I can’t help but shake the feeling that the cheese piece is leaving out some important opinions. Am I wrong? Didn’t the Rav eat “non-kosher” cheese?

    3. Are the London Charedim completely oblivious to what their new initiative looks like to anyone who’s been paying attention to the news out of that community in the last few months, or is this a sick joke?

  157. Steve Brizel says:

    Mycroft wrote:

    “Without getting into the issue of what any individual does-there are many tradeoffs that one must face in life-one that RY, Rebbes, Rabbis etc have is the perceived tradeoff that exists in a school that they consider better for the children when that action will be counter to succeeding in what the individual believes will be best to have their students follow in a good derech. Having a Rebbe send their children to a school different than the hashkafa that the school represents gives a clear message to the students that the Rebbe doesn’t accept the message of the school but is merely employed at the school to receive a salary”

    I disagree. Rabbanim RY, etc, have as much as right as any parent to enroll their children in the schools that they view as best for their kids’ educational and spiritual growth.

  158. IH says:

    Of course they have “as much as right as any parent to enroll their children in the schools that they view as best for their kids’ educational and spiritual growth.”

    But, that is not responsive to “Having a Rebbe send their children to a school different than the hashkafa that the school represents gives a clear message to the students that the Rebbe doesn’t accept the message of the school but is merely employed at the school to receive a salary”.

  159. ruvie says:

    A former yu grad writes on the intro to bible issue:

    “all the jewish studies requirments should be done as part of the morning religious studies: bible, hebrew and jewish history should be taught as part of religious studies in the morning. they should be pass fail and folded into 1 grade for religious studies. this would allow the clarity of teaching everyhting from a clear religious perspective and have the added value of conveying that you cannot be a fully educated religious jew without knowing certain basics about thses issues. it would have the added benefit of decpmressing the YC experience by removing many credits of bible, hebrew and history which make it impossible for kids to take any electives.
    if kids want to take academic bible, or jewish history, they should do this in the afternoon as past of YC and should take intro to bibile and jewish history as anyone would take an intro class to advanced economics or sociology.
    this would solve many problems but will not happen for a variety of reasons.”

    Its interesting that at yu tanakh-Torah shebechtiv- cannot or is not taught from a religious meaning perspective. Btw, in the undergrad area I do not think real academics is taught but advanced literary analysis- I am told it can’t.

  160. Steve Brizel says:

    I think that the following linked column is worthy of discussion.
    http://www.yuobserver.org/2013/04/accepting-our-own-the-bias-against-black-hatters/

  161. Steve Brizel says:

    IH wrote:

    “But, that is not responsive to “Having a Rebbe send their children to a school different than the hashkafa that the school represents gives a clear message to the students that the Rebbe doesn’t accept the message of the school but is merely employed at the school to receive a salary”

    It absolutely is-a rebbe or RY, is of course like any other parent, who is concerned about which schools are proper. Yet, Talmidei Chachamim are expected to make choices about such issues that serve as a role model for us-and to challenge us in our hashkafic smugness on a variety of issues.

  162. mycroft says:

    “Mycroft wrote:

    “Without getting into the issue of what any individual does-there are many tradeoffs that one must face in life-one that RY, Rebbes, Rabbis etc have is the perceived tradeoff that exists in a school that they consider better for the children when that action will be counter to succeeding in what the individual believes will be best to have their students follow in a good derech. Having a Rebbe send their children to a school different than the hashkafa that the school represents gives a clear message to the students that the Rebbe doesn’t accept the message of the school but is merely employed at the school to receive a salary”

    I disagree. Rabbanim RY, etc, have as much as right as any parent to enroll their children in the schools that they view as best for their kids’ educational and spiritual growth”

    So you have no problem with a Rebbe, RY sending a child to a public school, a secular camp, because their facilities are best for their educational growth. Is there a chance in the world that BMG would accept a RY of theirs sending a child to Ramaz, Heschel?
    No – would you accept a posek who sent their kids to Heschel, Ramaz, Camp Ramah?
    Why should people who have different hashkafas tolerate Rabbeim, RY who don’t accept their hashkafot? None of us would. But since it is a more chareidi approach than the school , parents have then it is the RY as parents right to have a different hashkafa.

  163. Nachum says:

    Ruvie: That’s exactly the course I took as an IBC student. I took all my Jewish requirements in the morning; I also took a bunch of Jewish electives (lead to an AA degree) in IBC, and took some Jewish electives in YC that interested me.

    Of course, one problem is that a YP shiur takes up the whole morning, so “morning” may have to be creatively defined here.

  164. 1) i watched planet of the apes late last night with my son (and am paying for that today). i haven’t seen it since i was a kid and now i see that it is a social commentary/critique on, among other things, religious fundamentalism (in general and specifically scriptualism). which only confirms my earlier stated view that the main (and frequent) questioning of our faith (in general and with regard to tanach) comes not from hostile co-workers, but rather much more pervasive and benign sources that diament et al don’t acknowledge.

    2) tanach dept. shouldn’t fall apart if the intro is removed/revamped as someone mentioned. it should still be there as an elective (or will diament et al object to this as well?) and in any case it would/should be substituted with some other required course. still plenty of parnasa to go around.

    3) someone mentioned that the anti-scab voice represent a push-back movement. i’d argue that the vocal defenders of scab represent a push-back movement against the turn-to-the-right. which brings me to #4

    4) perhaps exposure to scab is important at least to demonstrate to those on YU’s right to be more tolerant of what is acceptable within orthodox thought. you can call me an apikores, you can call my scab professor an apikores, but are you willing to call the minchas shai, the shaagas aryeh, etc. an apikores?

    5) at some point in one’s life, to a lesser or greater extent the marketplace of ideas comes into play. why not let it be during the college years. where are the RYs during all this? why don’t they address the issues their students are confronted with in a schmooze from the more “traditional” view? either they have the answers or they don’t.

  165. STEVE:

    a) i’d be willing to agree that YCT hasn’t produced RY-quality material. but i’m glad to see that this is your objection to them serving as YU RYs. not the fact that they come from YCT. so perhaps with time, as YCT grads gain more experience and age, and as YCT itself attracts even better students or prepares its students better to be RY, there will be YCT grads that have what it takes to be a RY. and so at that point you won’t object to a YCT grad serving as RY. (and even before that, so, you wouldn’t obect to YCT grads serving in non-RY positions at YU?)

    b) for the umpteenth time, no one is denying that school staff have the right to send their kids the school of the choice. but when most choose to do so, it says something about the lack of alignment between the staff’s hashkafah and the school’s (official) hashkafah.

  166. Steve Brizel says:

    Mycroft wrote:

    “So you have no problem with a Rebbe, RY sending a child to a public school, a secular camp, because their facilities are best for their educational growth. Is there a chance in the world that BMG would accept a RY of theirs sending a child to Ramaz, Heschel?
    No – would you accept a posek who sent their kids to Heschel, Ramaz, Camp Ramah?
    Why should people who have different hashkafas tolerate Rabbeim, RY who don’t accept their hashkafot? None of us would. But since it is a more chareidi approach than the school , parents have then it is the RY as parents right to have a different hashkafa

    This is not a fair question or analogy-my point is that any parent has the right to choose a school environment where a child would thrive educationally and religiously-where a child might get even more, not less in exposure to Torah study.

  167. Gil Student says:

    I actually have friends (rabbis) who have sent children to public school and Schechter based on the child’s specific needs. Nothing wrong with that.

  168. Shlomo says:

    3. Are the London Charedim completely oblivious to what their new initiative looks like to anyone who’s been paying attention to the news out of that community in the last few months, or is this a sick joke?

    Why do you limit your question to London and the last few months?

  169. Gil Student says:

    I’m not sure that’s a fair criticism. One bad apple doesn’t mean tzenius should be ignored. You can criticize this plan for other reasons.

  170. mycroft says:

    “Gil Student on May 5, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    I actually have friends (rabbis) who have sent children to public school and Schechter based on the child’s specific needs. Nothing wrong with that.”

    Would you say the same thing if they sent their advanced ability children to Schechter or public school? If a RY sent all 9 normal children to public school or Schechter?

    “This is not a fair question or analogy-my point is that any parent has the right to choose a school environment where a child would thrive educationally and religiously-where a child might get even more, not less in exposure to Torah study.”

    But would you reject the right of a RY has the right to choose a school environment where a child would thrive educationally-where a child might get even more, not less in exposure to secular studies bible criticism, Documentary Hypothesis etc

    ” but when most choose to do so, it says something about the lack of alignment between the staff’s hashkafah and the school’s (official) hashkafah.”
    which can easily cause a conflict between what the parents want the child to believe as expressed by the hashkafa and what the Rabeeim believe.

  171. Mycroft:

    Exactly. I’m not sure why Steve is so defensive about the right of the staff (it’s not just rebbeim btw) to have educational choice. That’s not what this critique is about. And it doesn’t mean that they aren’t great, dedicated, motivated, etc. but there is a hashkafah chasm that can definately carry through into (and out of) the classroom.

  172. Gil Student says:

    Mycroft: Would you say the same thing if they sent their advanced ability children to Schechter or public school? If a RY sent all 9 normal children to public school or Schechter?

    I’m not sure what made you think I am talking about kids with lesser abilities. Regardless, people have all sorts of reasons to send their kids to many different places. I remember one rebbe with many boys who sent each son to a different high school. No one thought twice about it.

    I also note that this discussion assumes that YU roshei yeshiva do not send their children to YU, which is certainly a strange assumption considering how many rosh yeshiva’s sons I personally encountered in YU.

    Abba: but there is a hashkafah chasm that can definately carry through into (and out of) the classroom

    That is, indeed, true. But it has decreased over the decades.

  173. Shades of Gray says:

    “I’m not sure that’s a fair criticism. One bad apple doesn’t mean tzenius should be ignored. You can criticize this plan for other reasons.”

    I would like to hear from an insider to the Chasidic world such as Rabbi AJ Twerski to get a fair opinion on this.

    On the one hand, people outside of these communities have argued that the tzniyus measures can backfire, at least for some people. Dr. Nachum Klafter wrote(” Psychotherapy with Patients of Opposite Sex”):

    ” I have spoken to therapists who work in the Hassidic communities of Monsey, Williamsburg, and Boro Park, and I have been surprised to hear these therapists express the same distinct impression about the consequences of the extreme measures which have been implemented in their communities to enforce gender separation: These severe standards for tzniyut and gender separation have lowered the threshold for sexual stimulation, which has led to an increase in sexual problems. These therapists assert that, compared to the same communities twenty years ago when standards for modesty were less severe, there is now an increased frequency of [various sexual problems]… and forbidden sexual behaviors including adultery and homosexuality. This is not a scientific epidemiological survey, but I nevertheless believe that the anecdotal judgment of these therapists is significant and compelling.”

    On the other hand, there is a value of tolerance which applies from a secular liberal and certainly from a Torah perspective of “elu v’elu”(R. Yehuda Warbug used this approach in an article about gender- separate buses in Tradition Magazine). In adition, one must know a communuity well before assuming anything, which is why opinions of psychologists who are Chasidish are important.

    I am guessing like many things, “severe standards” of tzniyus are good for some and bad for others(the latter group which Dr. Klfater is referring to). The question is what the ratio is, to confirm that the “schar” outweighs any “hefsed”. One needs inside knowledge of the community to determine this fairly and accurately.

  174. mycroft says:

    “I also note that this discussion assumes that YU roshei yeshiva do not send their children to YU, which is certainly a strange assumption considering how many rosh yeshiva’s sons I personally encountered in YU.”

    I certainly did not intend my comments to specifically refer to YU RY-I intended it to be general comments see “Without getting into the issue of what any individual does-there are many tradeoffs that one must face in life-one that RY, Rebbes, Rabbis etc ”
    Only 1 out of 3 could arguably refer to YU RY-even then I used a generic term. I believe it has been about a decade since I’ve been at YUs Washington Heights Campus and before then twice in about a quarter of a century before that a few years of once a year or so.
    I am talking about the generic issue wo personalities.
    There is certainly an issue of schools having faculty who don’t believe in the hashkafa of the school-there may be exceptions but I have no doubt that in general Rebbes etc in MO schools who send their kids to Chareidi schools do not believe in the hashkafa of the school-certainly many of the students believe such to be the case.

    “Abba: but there is a hashkafah chasm that can definately carry through into (and out of) the classroom

    That is, indeed, true. But it has decreased over the decades”

    Probably depends in which neighborhood you’re living in.

  175. Nachum says:

    Shlomo: I limited myself specifically because that organization, in that city, has been involved in a major related scandal.

    Gil: Do you honestly think that tzniut, as they define it (female skin showing, nothing else) is really an issue in that community? Yeah, it can be ignored.

  176. lawrence kaplan says:

    Gil: I’m with Nachum here. The issue is not the “one bad apple,” but the fact that the same organization that is launching this tzenius campaign was involved in a long standing cover up on behalf of this “bad apple.”

  177. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    my comment about RY sending / not sending their children to YU means that there are various factors in choosing a particular school, or not. however, we are past the stage of one YU RY son saying “my father didnt teach gemara, only machshava” (whatever machshava meant, anyway.)

    (almost) all RIETS RY today are of the YU type, i hope.

    one or two chldren may not attend YU, for whatever reason (i have a friend in steve b’s neighborhood who sends one son to Chofetz chaim, the other to MTA.) i asked him, and he told me thats his decision / evaluation.

    its like in the old days, a rav would give hashgacha to a food item, but he would never dare eat it. today that never (?rarely?) exists.

 
 

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