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Those killer website comments
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Interior Ministry gets tough on int’l Orthodox conversions
Army Geirus – Psak of Rav Amar with comments by Rav Ovadiah Yosef
70 rabbis protest arrest warrant against Rabbi Dov Lior
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Liberal Denominations Face Crisis as Rabbis Rebel, Numbers Shrink
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Hebrew charter proposed for Harlem-Upper West Side
Hebrew immersion at Bergen County charter school
A rabbi gets a helping hand
The Old New Jews
Proposal for an international Sanhedrin (to be called the Elders of Zion?)
Haredi ads: Internet causes cancer
Knesset convenes for first-ever Jewish Identity Day
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SALT Wednesday
R. Avi Shafran on Jewish peoplehood
Draft Strategic Plan for the New USCJ (PDF)
Rabbis debate moment of death
Rabbis backtracking on support for N.J. charter school
Rabbi Dov Lior agrees to be investigated at his home
Online Courses, Still Lacking That Third Dimension
Ohio atheists attend church for social reasons
SALT Tuesday
Close encounters of the fabricated kind
Lakewood, N.J.’s fastest-growing town, is defined by its diversity
Rabbis oppose Jewish “Taliban Women”
US Conservatives respond to dwindling numbers
Jews Restore Synagogues as Syria Burnishes Image
SALT Monday
Last week’s news & links
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About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

157 comments

  1. Rabbis oppose Jewish “Taliban Women”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Kach Mkublani mbeit avi abba (I know R’ Gil misses me saying this :-)) – don’t complain about the genie once you let him out of the bottle.
    KT

  2. Interesting comments to the article about Lakewood. I wonder how much we should be bothered by the negative ones. The fact that the complaints are generally similar probably indicates that they have at least a ‘shemetz’ of truth to them. I suppose the bigger issue is that those who are most complained about are probably the least likely to care.
    It seems to be attracting increasing notice amongst the general populace that there are elements of our community who seem to view living off welfare as a lechatchila, or at least an unavoidable bedi’eved. It is extremely upsetting that the leadership of those elements are doing little to institute policies that would help solve this problem, and seem to spend a lot of effort repeating the same tired mantras which got them into this mess in the first place.

  3. Michael Rogovin

    RE the charter school. There are may be issues of public policy related to the funding of the school given the very heated opposition by the orthodox community in Teaneck to raising school taxes (the charter school will increase costs in Teaneck and Englewood districts; if it attracts private school students that could result in a transfer of funds from a less affluent minority community to a relatively more affluent community Jewish community unless the district’s budgets are increased to compensate. However, that is not what is motivating orthodox opposition.

    There is a mandatory groupthink among orthodox rabbis that ONLY day school/yeshiva education is acceptable and no alternatives can be publicly endorsed. This despite the fact that day schools are not for everyone, that day schools reject and expel students that they do not want, that do not fit in, or that have special needs that day schools do not have the resources to address. These children most often end up in public schools that offer no Hebrew, no Jewish or Israeli culture/history and few Jewish peers. It is ironic that the same Jewish leaders who now have misgivings (or those who always opposed the charter school) offer no alternative for these children. Teach each child according to his or her ability and needs, we are taught. It is a shame that our leaders did not pay attention to this lesson and offer a variety of options for the many types of students that are out there.

    It is also ironic that what may threaten these rabbis the most is that the charter is apt to do a much better job at teaching Hebrew language – something that most area yeshivas are notoriously poor at doing for the majority of their students. Despite lip service to ivrit b’ivrit, few (if any) offer true Hebrew immersion that would allow a student to pick up a Hebrew book, watch an Israeli film or engage in a conversation with an Israeli with true ease and comprehension.

  4. Rabbi Shafran’s essay was worth it just for the quip, “a few tractates short of a Talmud.” 😉

    (Actually has deep implications, that.)

  5. MICHAEL ROGOVIN:

    “the charter school will increase costs in Teaneck and Englewood districts”

    No way. A combination of mandated open enrollement and entrenched Orthodox establishment opposition means that only a small minority of the students will transfer from day schools. The cost of educating these few students will be offset by the savings from all the students that transfer from public school (it is cheaper to educate a kid in charter school than public school). And even if not completely offset, any tax hike will be tiny when spread out over the entire tax bases of two towns. (Remember, this is a tiny school.)

  6. Anyway, I thought it’s silly for the rabbis to backtrack over something that’s now a non-issue. The school is going to happen now no matter how many retractions R. Genack and R. Goldin issue. And what’s the point, it’s a small school to begin with and there will be so much competition with non-Jews, Israelis and Conservative/traditional Jews to get in that they really don’t have to worry about any type of destablizing affect on the area day schools.

    So instead of wasting their efforts opposing something that isn’t going away, how about acting positively, i.e., setting up a quality MO talmud torah in their resepective shuls. They still do have a responsibility to any day school defectors and imagine the kiruv opportunity they have vis-a-vis the secular Israelis and traditional but unaffiliated Jews (who are notably absent in Bergen County shuls). Unfortunately I predict they won’t step up to the plate (or they’ll do so haphazardly, or in a worst case scenario they’ll oppose talmud torah efforts), leaving a vacuum for you-know-who to step in. It’ll be one more loss for MO in the marketpace of religion as the relevancy of MO outside its core shrinks yet even further.

  7. Rabbi Shafran’s article might have been enhanced if he had elaborated on what it means “to serve the Creator”. Hey, why doesn’t he put a ‘dash’ in Creator?

  8. oy, Rabbi Shafran. When Murray’s article came out I saw that line quoted a few places in the chareidi press. However Murray’s real hypothesis was (if I remember correctly) that with universal torah education, the less intelligent dropped out of Judaism when they weren’t able to keep up. That is an extremely relevant issue to, and critique of, today’s chareidi world, but I bet Rabbi Shafran doesn’t thank Dr. Murray for that.

    And also if I remember correctly, Murray says that you don’t see this phenomenon in Sefardim, just Ashkenazim. I wonder if R’ Shafrin would dare raise that in public discussion.

  9. JS, both points are probably correct, but Murray rejects both as the definitive answer as he goes further and further back in history, eventually arriving at 1300 BCE, i.e., Moshe. That’s why he turns to the God- whoops, “G-d”- explanation.

    As R’ Jonathan Sacks points out, evidence reported offhand (and thus hard to doubt) in Tanach indicates a universal literacy among the youth as early as the time of the Shoftim. (It’s in the story of Gideon.) That would be incredible in much of the world (especially the Middle East) even today; how much more so back then.

  10. I support R’ Lior on pure free speech grounds. Thought ought not to be a crime, nor incitement in absence of any evidence of resultant crime.

    They should go that route. Hiding behind “Torah” makes it messy.

  11. J-When one reads between the lines of the Yated, it is obvious that Lakewood, while home to BMG, is also the center of a major Charedi community where many people work and commute to many points well beyond the boundaries of Lakewood. The notion that everyone living in Lakewood is learning 247 forever is really a MO urban myth.

    Michael Rogovin-have you ever heard of a school named Sinai which has been helping the special needs population of Bergen County for years? Teaching Ivrit BIvrit has always struck me as simply a pedagogically questionnable and purely ideological statement in the same way as teaching Limudei Kodesh in Yiddish.

    Nachum_ I share your views re the First Amendment, but one of the many differences between the US and Israel is the disturbing willingness of LW oriented prosecutors and judges to stretch hamradah or incitement beyond all logical boundaries. Like it or not, one can find discussions that R Lior gave his Haskamah to in many seforim that were printed long before the sefer in question. Do we ban seforim simply because they discuss that which is not PC in tone?

  12. >As R’ Jonathan Sacks points out, evidence reported offhand (and thus hard to doubt) in Tanach indicates a universal literacy among the youth as early as the time of the Shoftim. (It’s in the story of Gideon.)

    Unfortunately, much as I love Rabbi Sacks, that’s an example of a really, really bold statement supported by a very, very slender reed. It’s a good derash though. Very modern Orthodox.

  13. MiMedinat HaYam

    steve b:

    language immersion is the only real way to learn. it takes time (compared to memorizing vocabulary, etc), but it works.

    its how i speak hebrew fluently, and how i am very good with french (thank you madame kra, french prof at yu.)

    “tal-am” is a very good method (only used in k-4), but rarely used (though i underrstand a teacher who knows tal am is worth (slightly) more in the marketplace. but teachers are paid lousy anyway, so whats the difference?)

  14. Gil,
    A bit of self-congratulation there?

  15. “Despite lip service to ivrit b’ivrit, few (if any) offer true Hebrew immersion that would allow a student to pick up a Hebrew book, watch an Israeli film or engage in a conversation with an Israeli with true ease and comprehension.”
    It would be a nice topping on ice cream if day school children could do that but that is not the goal-the goal should be educated to live a Jewish life. The goals of the writer have been met by many non Israeli Jews-the PLO executive committee, Israeli Arabs etc.
    BTW-I was once a counsellor in Massad-and a for a certain percentage of my life I attended ivrit bivrit schools.

  16. “However Murray’s real hypothesis was (if I remember correctly) that with universal torah education, the less intelligent dropped out of Judaism when they weren’t able to keep up. That is an extremely relevant issue to, and critique of, today’s chareidi world, but I bet Rabbi Shafran doesn’t thank Dr. Murray for that.”

    That is not only a problem for Chareidi Judaism it is an even bigger problem for MO-MO has no use for the non superior. If one is not wanted one does not stay.

  17. “As R’ Jonathan Sacks points out, evidence reported offhand (and thus hard to doubt) in Tanach indicates a universal literacy among the youth as early as the time of the Shoftim”

    WO printing press there just weren’t that many books-perople just couldn’t afford to hire a scribe to write the copies.

  18. Who needs to own a book to be able to read? Abraham Lincoln wrote with a burnt stick on a shovel.

    Steve, I’m not sure why you think I’m disagreeing with you. And you know why Ivrit b’Ivrit is taught, and it’s a good reason.

  19. “Nachum on February 9, 2011 at 12:49 am
    Who needs to own a book to be able to read? Abraham Lincoln wrote with a burnt stick on a shovel”
    Most reading problems are the ability to read at a decent rate-to read 10 words a minute is not reading-one can’t daven in a schul at that rate-thus reading 10 words a minute in modern times is almost Jewishly funtiionally illiterate.

  20. We’re not talking today. People didn’t “daven in shul” back then.

  21. “mycroft on February 9, 2011 at 4:54 am
    “Nachum on February 9, 2011 at 12:49 am
    Who needs to own a book to be able to read? Abraham Lincoln wrote with a burnt stick on a shovel”
    Most reading problems are the ability to read at a decent rate-to read 10 words a minute is not reading-one can’t daven in a schul at that rate-thus reading 10 words a minute in modern times is almost Jewishly funtiionally illiterate.

    Nachum on February 9, 2011 at 5:13 am
    We’re not talking today. People didn’t “daven in shul” back then”

    Of course, they didn’t daven in schuls-schuls first appeared in the century before churban bayit sheini.
    Nachum-tell me what they read back then-krias hatorah-what else? Torah shebeal peh?
    What did the am haaretz read? They were of course the vast majority of the population.

  22. MYCROFT:

    “tell me what they read back then”

    apocrypha, pseudopigrapha, commercial documents?

  23. As R’ Jonathan Sacks points out, evidence reported offhand (and thus hard to doubt) in Tanach indicates a universal literacy among the youth as early as the time of the Shoftim. (It’s in the story of Gideon.)

    Where?

  24. Rabbi Sacks points to Judges 8:14 – “And he caught a young man of the men of Succoth, and inquired of him; and he wrote down for him the princes of Succoth, and the elders thereof, seventy and seven men.” – as evidence that literacy was so widespread that Gideon could take for granted that a random youth could write.

  25. What’s your objection, Fred?

  26. Ehr, maybe he caught a literate youth? Maybe “and he inquired of him” means that he didn’t take it for granted? Maybe the boy belonged to a social class or some other kind of circle that was literate? Maybe Gideon’s own men could not write, and that’s why he had to ask the boy to write rather then dictate?

    It’s a very, very thin edge to draw such a sweeping conclusion.

  27. I agree with S #2 that this is only one among many possible interpretations.

  28. Michael Rogovin

    Abba: The charter school is small and I agree with most of your points. The costs to the district will go up because the charter school needs to pay for administration and operations of an additional school plus tuition for transfers from public schools. It is also not at all clear that charter schools, which in addition to added costs noted above, many have smaller teacher/student ratios and higher salaries in fact provide a lower cost per student. Also, if many of the transfers out of private school are children with special needs that are not currently served in the district, the cost per pupil may also be higher. However, all this is something that can and no doubt will be measured.

    Steve: Yes, I have heard of Sinai (as well as other programs). What of it. Sinai serves a certain population (1) NYC students who are paid for by the NYC school district (2) NJ students whose parents can afford the $45,000 per year tuition (with little or no financial aid) and (3) only those students whose needs can be met by the school. Indeed I know of children who could not function in yeshiva but were too high functioning for Sinai. Public School was the only answer, but it meant limited Jewish education. So I say: if our Rabbis won’t provide for all our children, shame on them for opposing what might be an improvement on the only other option available: public school. And by the way, even the charter is not the answer for many, since dual-language/dual-curriculum does not work well for some orthodox children and regular public school or charter school classrooms are a good alternative. I’m with Abba – let these Rabbis and (my friend) Yossi Prager who speak out against any alternative to yeshiva take their energy and devote it to building support programs for religious education of kids in public schools, especially those with learning differences.

  29. Got it. Maybe I’m just too much of a romantic…

  30. As is Rabbi Sacks. 😉

  31. Steve,

    Do not underestimate the value of knowing hebrew as a live language to growth in Torah. My father in law always comments on how far ahead in learning his Israeli Dati-Leumi grandchildren are of his american charedi grandchildren. The reason, he notes, is that one set is fluent in Hebrew and the other barely knows it.
    Hebrew is a worth while investment. Thats why my wife learned Ivris b’Ivris at the Beis Yaakov of Monsey.
    Steve- learn to think outside of your cardboard box

  32. Moshe Shoshan- Just curious-do your FIL’s Charedi grandchilden learn in Yiddish or Hebrew? Do your children speak, write and read in Biblical or Mishnaic Hebrew or Aramaic, or in Modern Hebrew? Do your children learn in Lashon HaKodesh or in Ivrit? I would hesitate about comparing the Charedi and DL systems, as to which system produces talmidim/talmidos with more Torah knowledge. I think that a case can be made that the Charedi and DL systems have somewhat different goals and methods in Chinuch.

    I am not convinced that either Charedim who speak English or Hebrew as their everyday language should learn in Yiddish. For the same reason, I don’t think that anyone who speaks English should be forced to learn in Hebrew. I see compulsory learning in either Yiddish or Hebrew for both cases is a sociological/politically based means of enforcing a hashkafa, as opposed to enabling a student to develope textual literacy by becoming able to read, comprehend the text and explain it in their native language.

  33. Moshe Shoshan wrote in part:

    “Steve- learn to think outside of your cardboard box’

    I have been so for years-that’s why I admire the best elements of the Charedi and MO/RZ worlds and reject their excesses-in the same manner as both none other than both RAL and R E Feldman.

  34. MiMedinat HaYam

    i have seen (heard, actally) many ba’alei koreh’s whom i can tell dont understand a word they are reading from the torah. (or if they do understand, they are trained to ignore what they are reading, since its only hebrew. ditto a good number of rabbonim, even when teaching a simple gemara shiur)

  35. Steve- knowing Hebrew is essential to being an educated Jew. I spent less tha 2 years in day school. If my father(ad me’ah v’esrim) had not spoken Hebrew to me growing up(and with a few tutors along the way), I never would have been able to learn seriously when the time came. It is something of incaculable value. Aside from making it a lot easier to layn, say haftorahs cold, etc. Jews need to be fluent in Hebrew, otherwise you are dependent on translations for all the seforim. I can’t believe you seriously hold the position you advocate. I do agree that Hebrew can be taught better in school, but ivrit b’ivrit is the best way to accomplish Hebrew literacy.

  36. I am happy to agree with Dr. Stadlan. The gaping hole in my sons’ education is their lack of fluency in Hebrew. And it affects everything else they study in Torah.

  37. Michael Rogovin

    Hebrew literacy is not a requirement of being an observant, intelligent Jew (by literacy I mean both modern spoken/written and biblical/talmudic). But it helps immeasurably. From being able to pick up sefarim, especially those that are not readily available in good translation (including all the notes on a daf of gemara, the host of articles written only in Hebrew, and even sefarim that are available in other languages, but are edited by the publisher to conform with a point of view (e.g. only translating more machmir elements and leaving more makel opinions untranslated or omitted entirely). One can certainly get by without good Hebrew, but one can be a far better educated Jew with it. And our day schools do not do so well.

  38. Michael Rogovin

    Today Yavneh announced that it is looking into how to improve Hebrew literacy. I suspect that this is due, in part, to the Charter school. If so, then it shows that competition is good, in that it pushes complacent schools to work harder to provide value. Like many yeshivot, Yavneh states that it teaches limudei kodesh ivrit b’ivrit. But I can tell you that this is nonsense, at least if by ivrit b’ivrit one means Hebrew immersion. Advanced tracked students do learn Ivrit that way and Hebrew is certainly used in other classes extensively, but English is also used extensively. I say this knowing that Yavneh does a fairly good job with its most motivated students.

  39. Dr Stadlan, R Gil and Michael Ropovin-I think that you missed my point. I think that students should be able to learn any Torah subject and be textually literate. I have always had major reservations against Seforim and English Halachic works that opt for the most Machmir or Meikil approach, as opposed to the most precise and Mdakdek approach. If one is textually literate, and has a rebbe, one can develope a sense of which Seforim are worth spending on, and which others aren’t.

    Neither learning in Yiddish for the Hebrew speaking youth nor in Ivrit for the English speaking youth seem to me to be proper pedagogical means. I don’t think that being able to speak Modern Hebrew or Yiddish aids in understanding Pshat in the text of a Rishon, Acharon or the text and/or footnotes in any Sefer.

  40. lawrence kaplan

    Gil: You pick your schools and you take your choice. How about some private tutoring?

    Actually, you also agreeed with Dr. Stadlan that the RCA has not responded to his series of questions as they ought to have done.

    Rebbetzin David, Rav Hutner’s daughter, taught in Esther Schonfeld only Ivris be-Ivris.

  41. Steve,
    Steve, you seem to have an exagerated view of the difference between modern, mishaic and biblical hebrew. Of course there are differences, and these lead to translations of the bible into modern hebrew. However, one can also translate Shakespeare and Chaucer into modern English. (The later is less work once one regularizes the spelling, which is a problem Hebrew doesn’t have). Would you say that being immersed in modern English is not the best way to be able to gain fluency in Shakespeare and Chaucer. I assure that my ability to read Chaucer in the original is entirely derived from my fluency in English, along with familiarity with the peculiarities of middle english. Similarly, fluency in modern hebrew will allow you to read torah and mishna, one you learn the the various “idiosyncracies”, which are not that hard to master.

  42. >Neither learning in Yiddish for the Hebrew speaking youth nor in Ivrit for the English speaking youth seem to me to be proper pedagogical means. I don’t think that being able to speak Modern Hebrew or Yiddish aids in understanding Pshat in the text of a Rishon, Acharon or the text and/or footnotes in any Sefer.

    How do you propose that Jewish children be taught the Hebrew language, so that they can understand seforim? – putting aside the issue of whether it’s poshut just a good idea for Jews to know how to speak today’s Yiddish, the language which half the world’s Jews can speak.

  43. I think you mean “Hebrew,” Fred. 🙂

    I’m not sure why Steve is so dismissive of “hashkafa.” The main “hashkafic” point I can see is that knowing Hebrew will help a LOT when the kid makes aliyah.

    Yes, I said “when.” We don’t say that giving the kid a firm grounding in halakha will help “if” he decides to keep kosher, do we?

  44. Steve if you think speaking modern Hebrew doesn’t help a reader understand Rishonim, well I’m not even sure how to make sense of what that would mean. By the way, do you speak modern Hebrew? Take it from someone who does, and learned to do so at the same time they learned Rishonim, you’re completely, comprehensively, absolutely, totally, unequivocally, incontrovertibly %100 wrong.

    Presumably, by your logic, all those people saying “learn Greek and Latin it will help you with all sorts of difficult English words” are making stuff up right? Because the same principles, only ten times more applicable, are at work.

  45. Nachum: you’re only hurting your (our) case by using this opportunity. Now Steve thinks the ONLY reason that any of us think one should learn Hebrew is because were LW types (and consequently Zionists) that think our (LW, Zionist) hashkafa is the only correct one, and indeed allows us to produce better talmidei chachamim – as opposed to, say, the fact that if you’re reading a book it helps to know the language it’s written in.

  46. Steve,
    Why dont you ask RAL, whom you claim to emulate, what he thinks about Ivrit b’Ivrit?

    It really, really bothers me when you bandy about RAL’s name when it is clear that you have very little understanding of his positions short of having read a few essays.

  47. Jon: That is certainly true. You’ve got to talk to people in a language they understand. Still, as Fred pointed out, the fact that half the world’s Jews speak Hebrew isn’t a point you can glide over.

  48. I don’t speak Hebrew well which I find problematic for two reasons: (a) I have difficulty in easily conversing with Israelis, understanding Israeli signs, newspapers etc. Since Israel is the land of the Jewish People, this is not a good thing. Jews sould feel comfortable in their country (I use that phrase loosely) and able to negotiate dat-to-day life. (b) I have difficulty easily reading books, commentaries etc. in their original Hebrew and therefore have to rely on translations. Being able to read the originals easily would be a great help.

    As for Ivrit B’Ivrit. My elementary school taught limudei kodesh in Ivris b’Ivris. During the first term of the sixth grade, my Hebrew was at its highest because I had been speaking and listening to Hebrew 3-4 hours a day for 5 1/2 years. I felt comfortable in the language (although my accent and grammar were mediocre to say the least). Then we began learning gemarah which the school deicded was too difficult to learn in Hebrew. So that was taught in English, and the other limudei kodesh studies followed suit. My Hebrew has been going downhill ever since.

  49. Plus, the Gemara isn’t written in Hebrew. 🙂

  50. On the “Liberal Denominations” link, it is interesting to see that the Conservative movement is making a play to claim the Independent minyanim (which Gil believes are already Conservative as per https://www.torahmusings.com/2010/12/women-and-minyan/). This is even more explicitly summarized in http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/new_york/united_synagogue_turns_inward.

    Will Modern Orthodoxy make a play as well? Or is the MO Establishment too afraid of strengthening its left-wing?

  51. IH,
    I don’t think that USCJ is referring to Darkhei Noam and the like, but rather those like Hadar which are Conservaticve in form but still resist affiliating with CJ.

  52. I am far from convinced Hadar is “Conservative in form”. That is just a convenient label for the Orthodox establishment to stick its head in the sand.

    But, even Darkhei Noam seems to considered “Conservative in form” by Gil (as I understand his comments across a few threads).

    Incidentally, while too late for last week’s “Orthodoxy and the Oral Law” thread, I finally found the time to read http://seforim.blogspot.com/2010/10/marc-b-shapiro-new-writings-from-r-kook.html now that Part 2 has been posted; which adds some kinks into trying to hone in on the doctrinal difference between Conservative and Orthodox doctrine.

  53. IH – how are you not sticking your head in the sand by claiming it isn’t? They don’t have a mehitza. That’s definitely not Orthodox. Conservative Judaism is trying to draw their lines so as to include Hadar. Hadar’s faculty all studied at JTS (yes, they often also have Orthodox semicha, we know). (On the rare occasion where they actually do so) they describe their views as some sort of synthesis between modern egalitarian values and Halakha – exactly as the Conservative movement represented itself when it started. So how exactly are they NOT Conservative?

  54. Jon — Sorry, but I am missing your point. The Conservative movement did not become Egalitarian until the mid-to-late 1980s. Women weren’t allowed into their Rabbinical School until 1984. And JTS has separate seating until RSL was no longer around.

    The Mechitza issue was a culture war between the elite and the masses in both Conservative and Orthodox until the late 1980s. There was even an RCA decision to grandfather certain Orthodox congregations with mixed seating.

    So, egalitarianism could hardly have been the doctrinal issue between Conservative and Orthodox at the time when the “we can’t be seen to legitimize them” mesora began.

  55. Moshe Shoshan,MDJ and Nachum-I don’t think that being able to read and comprehend Haaretz, Israeli street signs, modern Hebrew literature , or Israeli cinema in the original adds one iota to being able to read and comprehend Tanach, Talmud or Rishonim for a native English speaker. For the same reason, a Charedi who speaks Hebrew as a matter of course in the street, should not be forced to learn in Yiddish. Being able to read, comprehend and explain the text where one lives is the sin qua non of Jewish textual literacy-as opposed to having to go through multiple ideologically motivated goalposts of what language one translates the text from the original text to either Yiddish or Modern Hebrew and then to one’s native language. Neither the exalted status of Yiddish as Mameh Lashon or Modern Hebrew as the language of Israel Zionism should compel schoolchildren to have to endure an additional level of difficulty in gaining textual literacy.

    For the MO and Charedi population who, for whatever reasons, are not yet making aliyah, requiring either Ivrit BIvrit or Yiddish as a language of instruction is a means of imposing an ideologically motivated goalpost on the already difficult task of being able to read, translate and explain the texts from Lashon HaKodesh to one’s native language.

  56. >Moshe Shoshan,MDJ and Nachum-I don’t think that being able to read and comprehend Haaretz, Israeli street signs, modern Hebrew literature , or Israeli cinema in the original adds one iota to being able to read and comprehend Tanach, Talmud or Rishonim for a native English speaker.

    How should a native English speaker learn to read and comprehend Tanach, Talmud or Rishonim without formal instruction or immersion in the language(s)?

    I can tell you it straight: osmosis does NOT work for many, many, many students, probably most. The anemic formal instruction in whatever form of Hebrew or Aramaic it is the yeshivos and Bais Yaakovs think they’re instructing in is similarly ineffective for many, if not most. Go ahead, ask your random yeshiva graduate to translate 5 pesukim of Onkelos, without seeing the Hebrew. Better, ask them to translate 5 pesukim of Chumash – the Hebrew.

    Many, if not most, graduates learn to “fumpfer” through texts to a certain degree. If they’re already in the sugya they can kind of figure out what something means, using contextual clues, their stock of phrases that they kind of – but not exactly – know the meaning of. This is not literacy.

    So since you are so against Ivrit be-ivrit immersion (mind you, I am not sure if it works myself) how do you think Jewish boys and girls are supposed to learn the languages they need to read seforim? – and, again, this is apart from the question of whether or not non-Israeli Jews ought to know how to read signs in Israel, which for the life of me I can’t begin to think why the answer should be lechatchila no, they should not.

  57. Steve,
    Do you speak Hebrew with any degree of fluency?

  58. I don’t think that being able to read and comprehend Haaretz, Israeli street signs, modern Hebrew literature , or Israeli cinema in the original adds one iota to being able to read and comprehend Tanach, Talmud or Rishonim for a native English speaker.

    WADR, you could not be more wrong. The roots in Modern Hebrew and Ancient Hebrew line up 80% of the time. Even if the syntax differs slightly, it does not in a way that really matters. I’ll ask again: do you speak any Hebrew at all? Because right now it seems you’re talking from a point of such complete ignorance that it doesn’t make sense for you to have an opinion.

  59. IH – then drop “egalitarian” (even though I don’t agree with your reasons for doing so – but for the sake of argument). Synthesizing modern values with Halakha – not Orthodox, a fairly accurate description of what the Conservative movement is trying to do – check Chancellor Eisen’s speech about it. How about you actually make an argument why they should NOT be described Conservative, seeing as everything about them that distinguishes them as a shul is not Orthodox and fits in with Conservative Judaism.

  60. I think I comprehend the root of the disagreement. Steve, you feel that Ivrit b’Ivrit is not an aid to learning the language, but an impediment to learning Torah (or any subject, since it isn’t the student’s native language) since it is just additional pressure on a student.

    We feel that Ivrit b’Ivrit is (or might be) a sound tool for learning the language through immersion, which in turn means that a student will understand the Torah in the original.

    You feel that the Satmar Rebbe was right and that Ivrit isn’t Lashon Hakodesh. We feel that Ivrit is a lot more like Lashon Hakodesh than English is.

    As an aside, in academic Jewish studies, among the academics without a yeshiva education (who therefore lack grounding in Jewish texts from an early age), the Israelis are far superior. Why? Because they know Hebrew well and therefore they understand the primary sources. When you go to [redacted academic libraries] and see that many so-called scholars of the future are using translations, this becomes clear.

    Why wouldn’t this translate in other respects? Why wouldn’t your average bochur or talmida (wink, wink) not do better in the long run if they also knew Hebrew?

  61. Jon – Hadar, like other post-denominational independents, is neither Orthodox nor Conservative. That is the point I was highlighting in the linked article.

    I gather from your comments that you see a red-line for Orthodoxy in the role of women. That is fair. There is a spectrum of Jews who consider themselves halachic in all other ways that spans from Hadar (egalitarian) to Darkhei Noam (partnership) to R. Avi Weiss (the most that can be enabled while still being in the RCA).

    But, none of these is Conservative except to those who use it as an epithet like Liberal is used politically these days.

  62. The Gentle Synergy of Believers by R. Adlerstein is excellent. It is an important rejoinder to those who hold up “Confrontation” a barrier to all efforts to connect with people of other faiths.

  63. In regard to “Synthesizing modern values with Halakha” I’d be interested in thoughts as to whether Rav Kook was also Conservative as per:
    http://seforim.blogspot.com/2010/10/marc-b-shapiro-new-writings-from-r-kook.html

    A snippet:

    “R. Kook tells Seidel that even if the Torah’s descriptions (“the commonly accepted description”) are not accurate, there must be an important and sacred purpose for these matters to have been presented in this way, rather than being described in an exact fashion. In order to show that this is a proper approach, R. Kook brings two amazing parallels. The first one is the law of yefat toar. In my earlier post dealing with developing morality, available here, I quoted R. Kook’s other recently published comments about yefat toar. Here is making a different point. He refers to the Talmud in Kiddushin 21b which states that this entire law is a concession to human passions, but it is not proper. The proper thing would be for a Jewish soldier never to do this, but since in the real world this sort of thing will happen, the Torah provides a context for it to be done in a more civilized manner.[10] The parallel R. Kook sees is that just like the morality described in the law of yefat toar is not perfect, but rather a concession to human weakness, so too descriptions of various things in the Torah need not be “perfect”, that is, historically accurate. There are times when for its own purposes the Torah needs to describe matters in ways that will accomplish certain goals, even if the descriptions are not “true,” i.e., historically true.”

  64. The conversation and discussion about ivrit b’ivrit is ridiculous. Both sides are correct. Let me explain. (disclaimer I did not have ivrit b’ivrit in elementary school, but did for parts of high school).

    Hebrew grammer (dikduk) definitely assists one in properly understanding tanach, mishna, gemara, rishonim and acharonim. Understanding the basics of tense, shorashim and even binyanim. However, none of these are learned by having ivrit b’ivrit. That is learned by having a language class (which I did have in elementary school).

    Ivrit b’ivrit is just spoken modern hebrew, which can overcome a basic hurdle in understanding Torah texts (basic familiarity with the language) but does not fundamentally help one understand the grammar. The language can be picked up from learning than ivrit b”ivrit. The “teich” method taught in more chareidi schools evidences that. Those schools spend a lot more time on the texts as opposed to concepts and the results (in my very unscientific study) that they can “read” texts (particularly gemara and rishonim) with much less resort to a dictionary.

    See the Hebre schottenstein edition for evodebce

  65. IH, the ideological purists thought and think that Rav Kook’s hashkafot were corrupt. If this is a challenge for those who don’t, point taken.

  66. Moshe Shoshan and Jon-I had a Talmud Torah education for four years in elementary school where I learned Alef Bet, and Nusach HaTefilah . When I went to JSS, I learned how to read, translate and comprehend Chumash with the classical Mfarshim, Mishnah as well as how to make a leining on a blatt Gemara and to read, translate and comprehend from the original text into English the Rishonim as well as develope textual literacy in Sifei Halacha. This was well before ArtScroll was on the scene and we were strongly discouraged from using any “Klei Sheni” in English as an aide or crutch. Our study of Hebrew was designed to have us gain literacy in how the Binyanim worked, etc, as opposed to being able to engage in social chitchat or read either contemporary Isareli newspapers, magazines or watch Israeli movies I can read Modern Hebrew and engage in simple conversations. Baruch HaShem, I gained those skills as well as a strong desire to keep on learning, which I tend to doubt that I would have had if I had gone through 12 years of either the MO or Charedi school systems in the US.

    WADR, I think that insisting on learning Limudei Kodesh either in Ivrit BIvrit or in Yiddish for someone whose native spoken language is either English or Hebrew is an ideologically imposed obstacle and an example of moving the goalposts back which can thwart such a person’s quest for textual literacy.

  67. S-One need not accept the SR’s POV on Modern Hebrew and Zionism to recognize that Biblical Hebrew, Mishnaic Hebrew and Modern Hebrew are quite different. Again, I think that it is educationally unsound for anyone to have to translate a classical Jewish text into anything other than their native language.

  68. >Those schools spend a lot more time on the texts as opposed to concepts and the results (in my very unscientific study) that they can “read” texts (particularly gemara and rishonim) with much less resort to a dictionary.

    It’s an illusion. A sizable number don’t really learn how to do this. Maybe the numbers are better, I don’t know. But believe me, it’s bad. If we can generalize I think we are better off saying that it doesn’t work, rather than that it does work.

    You’re right about language instruction being more useful for reading texts than learning how to converse in the language. Of course not everyone can endure language instruction, and not everywhere is this offered. Immersion may be a useful alternative; then again, maybe this is just the flipside of the idea that immersion in texts will result in literacy.

  69. R’ Moshe Shoshan,
    Thank you for the important review of R. Adlerstein’s article. I always enjoy R. Adlerstein’s Torah writings. I must, however, humbly submit that this particular article of his is problematic in the opinion of RJDB, for the reason explained by RJDB at http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/735669/Rabbi_Dr._J._David_Bleich/Parameters_and_Limits_of_Communal_Unity_from_the_Perspective_of_Jewish_Law

  70. No one is “insisting” on ivrit b’ivrit. We are responding to your whole sale rejection of this educational approach and your hostile attitude towards Modern Hebrew. All I am saying is that IbI has advantages which you are willing to acknowledge. It has downsides as well.

    I would note that the idea that speaking Hebrew is a value in and of itself was not invented by Ben-Yehudah. Two earlier figures who embraced this notion were R. Moshe ibn Ezra and Rabbi Yehudah Hanassi.

  71. Moshe Shoshan- Speaking and being able to communicate either in writing or orally in Modern Hebrew is vitally important as a means of everyday communication between Israelis, regardless of their hashkafos. That being a given, I wonder whether either Rabbeinu HaKadosh and or R M Ibn Ezra would approve of some of the uses that Modern Hebrew is used for today in contemporary Israeli media and culture.

    I think that Ivrit BIvrit works for a highly motivated minority of English speakers who may be making Aliyah . I merely question the use of learning Torah in any langauge ,other than one’s native language, for the overwhelming majority of students. IIRC, the CI viewed learning in Ivrit as far better for Charedim who used Ivrit as their every day language as opposed to Yiddish. I see no reason why the same logic does not apply to those American Jews who, for whatever reason, won’t be making aliyah. Imposing a twin burden of not just being able to read, translate and comprehend from Hebrew and Aramaic to both one’s native language and then either to Modern Hebrew or Yidish strikes me as imposing an unnecessary ideological and hashkafic barrier to becoming textually literate.

  72. I thought that R Adlerstein’s article illustrated what happens when representatives of different faith communities who neither are threatened by their respective beliefs realize that there are in fact issues that don’t impact on theology on which they can work in common for a greater society. IIRC, that was exactly RYBS’s point in Confrontation.

  73. R’ Steve Brizel,
    You are correct, and thank you for being melamed zekhut on R. Adlerstein (who is certainly a tzaddik gammur). However, the problem is – as RJDB explains – “respect” towards members of a foreign religion is halakhically problematic, because “respect” implies (chas vichalilah) acceptance of the avodah zarah.

  74. ““What is unambiguously a trend is lower amounts of money being given by churches to denominational offices, and that is causing financial turmoil at the denominational level,” Chaves said. “Protestant churches are asking themselves… ‘What do we get from the denomination?”

    What does an Orthodox schul gain by belonging to one of the two major organizations?

  75. To that effect, I would recommend that the Simon Wiesenthal Centre (an excellent institution whose valuable work is treasured by all Jews) rename its “Department of Interfaith Affairs” (where R. Adlerstein works) the “Department of Providing Noahide Code Guidance to the Nations of the World in Accordance with the Revelation of the Creator to Moses”, just to be clear on the point.

  76. Steve, you seem to be missing a fundamental point: The texts in question are *written* in Hebrew. Therefore, one way or another, the student is going to *have* to learn Hebrew. Teaching Chumash in English is already adding one of the “levels” you so decry.

  77. Mycroft wrote in part:

    “What does an Orthodox schul gain by belonging to one of the two major organizations”

    How about representation as a spokesman for Orthodox issues, and programming for Chizuk/Kiruv and info re development re Kashrus?

  78. MiMedinat HaYam

    steve:

    actually, those example are what few (O, but C and R too. cant speak for protestants) synagogues are looking for today. unless the shul has some machers who want to be on national orgs. there are other orgs that do those things you list.

    insurance and other affinity beni’s — so what? synagogue services (their supposed raison d’etre) — few synagogues take advantage of them, and they’re mostly perfunctory advice, only if you fit into their cookie cutter mold. youth group advice and national affilliation — lets bring back bnai akiva.

    2. “There was even an RCA decision to grandfather certain Orthodox congregations with mixed seating.”

    to be fair, that was the OU, not the RCA.

    3. the debate over ivrit b’ivrit (or ivris b’ivris) ignores the fact that all languages are learned only by immersion. i gave the example of french, but ALL languages. i guess the point of the debate here is the need for hebrew language knowledge at all.

    4. artscroll is a tremendous crutch used today. it would definitely have been banned, if not for its principals being well connected to the powers that be. (actually, one may say they are the powers that be.)

    4. israeli road signs are in english and arabic, too. pretty much universally. actually, israel is unique in that there are many people who have lived there for years, and to this day, still do not speak the language. (not children, but adults.)

  79. Thanks, MiMedinat HaYam, for correcting my mistake.

    Does the OU provide transparent membership figures akin to the graph of UCSJ statistics at the top of the linked article (i.e. families in OU congregations by region 2001 vs. 2010)?

  80. On Ivrit, an interesting metric might be the ability of yeshiva-educated graduates now in their 20s or 30s, who could inscribe, with nuance, a gift sefer in classical Rabbinic Hebrew as was normal not too many generations ago.

    BTW, Halkin’s book on Yehuda Halevi is really eye-opening in understanding how pivotal Ivrit was to that great flowering of Jewish culture in Spain.

  81. Steve,
    Let me ask a simple, non-rhetorical, question. Do you believe that fluency in Hebrew, which, in the 21st century means, of necessity, modern Hebrew, is helpful to being an educated Jew who is able to learn torah independently? Please do not use the words Ivrit b’Ivrit in your response, as my question does not address that at all.

  82. Lawrence Kaplan

    Rabbi Spira: Thank you for calling our attention to RJDB’s article. I am surprised, however, that RJDB seems to be unaware that the so-called “popular” interpretion of “anvanuto” as humility was, in fact, put forward by Rav Tzvi Hirsch Hayyot in his hagahot on the Shas, and, IIRC, was endorsed by RMF. Thus both according to the Maharitz Hayyot and RMF the gemara is critcizing R. Zecharya b. Avkulos.

  83. Steve Brizel on February 10, 2011 at 6:28 pm
    Mycroft wrote in part:

    ““What does an Orthodox schul gain by belonging to one of the two major organizations”

    How about representation as a spokesman for Orthodox issues, and programming for Chizuk/Kiruv and info re development re Kashrus?”

    I specifically asked what does the Orthodox schul gain by belonging-there certainly is activity that the OU does that is worthwhile-it just does not benefit the individual Orthodox schul.

  84. There’s a great article about the seforim sale in the nytimes!
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/11/nyregion/11booksale.html?ref=nyregion

  85. “Does the OU provide transparent membership figures akin to the graph of UCSJ statistics at the top of the linked article (i.e. families in OU congregations by region 2001 vs. 2010)?”

    It’s not really the same in Orthodoxy- what “makes” one Conservative or Reform, mostly, is synagogue affiliation. (Self-identification is widespread, but tricky.) I daresay most Orthodox Jews aren’t members of shuls, but daven in one far more often than the average non-Orthodox Jew.

  86. Nachum, I agree that “Orthodoxy” is not the same as Conservative or Reform in that there is no one representative organization.

    Nonetheless, the OU does make an effort at synagogue membership (see the URLs posted by Gil) and the comparative metric is a reasonable metric to assess the relative health of Orthodoxy.

    An educated guess is that it also shows a net loss over the past decade; but, I would be delighted to be surprised!

  87. “I daresay most Orthodox Jews aren’t members of shuls,”

    Really? In North America? In Israel maybe-but North America highly doubt it.

  88. GIL:

    “The gaping hole in my sons’ education is their lack of fluency in Hebrew. And it affects everything else they study in Torah.”

    iirc you have a post from 1-2 years ago in which you were critical of ivrit be-ivrit education.
    1) have you changed your mind or do recommend another way for young students to aquire a knowledge of hebrew?
    2) have you ever addressed this concern with your son’s teachers/principals?

  89. You think the average shteibel goer pays dues, and the shteibel keeps track of members? I doubt there’s a single Charedi who’s a formal “member” of a shul. And that applies to lots of MO, I’m sure. (Especially younger single ones.)

    IH: You may be right, but considering that the majority of Orthodox shuls aren’t part of any organization, it wouldn’t prove much.

  90. MYCROFT:

    “Really? In North America? In Israel maybe-but North America highly doubt it.”

    some people would argue that brooklyn is not part of north america, but that’s not for us to debate here. i will merely note that in the denser parts of jewish settlement in brooklyn, shul membership among the orthodox is rare.

  91. ask anyone STEVE BRIZEL:

    i have little to add to the debate above about the importance of hebrew language education in general and ivrit be-ivrit in specific as a pedagogical took in fostering literacy in traditional texts. but i wanted to note the following:

    1) i don’t understand your repeated objections to a an “ideological” focus on hebrew. you are trying to make hebrew education sound dirty by referring to it as an ideological issue? yes, many of our schools include the fostering of zionism in their mission (i assume most of the commenters can agree that this hashkafah/ideology belongs in our schools?) and part of fostering this zionist hashkafah involves the use of hebrew language. now if you don’t like zionism or if you think it doesn’t have a place in our schools, that’s fine and then say so. but if you do like zionism and you think it belongs in our schools, then i fail to understand why you reject the use of hebrew as a medium of instruction/conversation in our schools.
    2) i’m surprised that you don’t give more credence to the midrash that benei yisral were redeemed from egypt because they didn’t change their clothes, names and language. similarly, while i don’t expect you to take a fichetean approach to language and nationhood because of fichte, we do have our own indiginious tradition of language defining nationhood a la ורוממתנו מכל הלשונות

  92. “ask anyone STEVE BRIZEL”

    sorry, the “ask anyone” was supposed to go at the end of the comment to mycroft

  93. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/11/world/europe/11organ.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=kidney&st=cse

    “Others contend that Dr. Sonmez has played a major part in the globalization of trade in human kidneys, particularly for matching paid donors with patients from Israel, where for religious reasons there is a shortage of kidney donors and where health insurance plans pay for transplants abroad. ”

    But thats a meta issue for a kahal which imho seems not to be a large part of the calculus anymore.
    KT

  94. Abba’s Rantings: iirc you have a post from 1-2 years ago in which you were critical of ivrit be-ivrit education.

    I don’t think I did. But you can learn Hebrew without doing it Ivrit be-Ivrit. When I was a kid, we had massive tests on Hebrew vocabulary. My daughter did also, in her Beis Yaakov, so now that she’s in high school she can read meforshim pretty well. My sons never had tests like that so their vocabulary is lacking.

    Nachum: I doubt there’s a single Charedi who’s a formal “member” of a shul.

    You are exaggerating. And I’ve gone to plenty of Charedi shuls in Flatbush and seen membership lists on walls after campaigns. When I lived near Landau’s, the minyan factory in Flatbush, I paid annual dues (“bought a seat”). They spent a lot of time around Rosh Hashanah trying to get people to pay membership and many did.

  95. GIL:

    see http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2009/09/illiteracy-epidemic-follow-up.html#

    “You are exaggerating”

    of course it’s an exaggeration to say that there’s not a single charedi shul member, but i think you exaggerate in the other direction. come on, how typical do you think you are in having paid dues at landau’s? most people my age do not pay dues. and i have first-hand knowledge from a few shuls that this problem cuts across all age demographics.

  96. >You are exaggerating.

    Absolutely, including shtiblach. Membership is a great way to raise money, not only from the dues, but it also anchors people there, and they contribute in other ways. The idea that 50,000 Chareidim are just floating around to different shuls without any loyalties or allegiance to one is a gross exaggeration.

    Landau’s is not a typical shul anyway. It is certainly true that there is less a sense of a need for membership today than there was in our parent’s generation, and some people ascribe this to selfishness on the part of young people. Other’s might say that it’s an easy way to shave a little bit off the high cost of being an Orthodox Jew. But by the same token, I have seen what Gil’s seen too. Very organized member rolls in many, many shuls which we would define as yeshivish. And a lot of guys in their late 30s who are members also never bothered to sign up when they were 24 and newlywed. It’s a form of domestication.

  97. MiMedinat HaYam

    many ppl are members of several shuls / shtiebels / etc. plus northeast shul membership, florida shul membership, etc. plus weekday morning shul, weekday mincha maariv shul, shabbat shul, rosh hashana shul. plus landau’s, etc. and shul i like, but cant go there often enough. above descriptions prob not found in C and R membership. and the shtiebel corresponding (somewhat) to my father’s yeshiva in europe, which still sends me mailings. and chabad houses claims no membership.

    plus, shtibels, brooklyn etc, have no formal memberships, but if asked (or if posted on the walls) will count all donors as members.

    when i lived out of ny area a few years ago, the local O shul had an extensive membership application, which was probably designed to ascertain jewishness, an issue out of town (?in ny not?). presunably the C and R had similar screening processes, for whatever criteria they want (plus being nosy); though many ppl were members of O and C/R synagogues, too.

    2. ivrit b’ivrit corresponds to language immersion, not to emphasis on dikduk, etc. in my opinion.

  98. With respect to the ivrit/ivris discussion, I do not think it is important as to which havara is the primarily used version of Hebrew. The really crucial point is whether or not our children are being taught proper dikduk. I had a rebbe in yeshiva who told us that he came from a small town with limited day school education. When he arrived in Baltimore for yeshiva high school at NI, he was confronted with classmates from New York and Baltimore who had learned over 100 blat gemara by the time the reached high school. He had learned maybe a dozen. Within two weeks, he was ahead of all the “experienced” boys. He credits the fact that in his small town, the little day school taught Hebrew grammar and dikduk, so he was able to open a sefer on his own and attain some level of understanding just by reading the words properly. His classmates, on the other hand, had been spoonfed (force-fed?) the gemara their whole lives and could not intuit anything on their own.

    By the time I left yeshiva high school, I was able to write copious notes on the gemara and mefarshim in readable and fairly precise Hebrew (not Ha’aretz Hebrew mind you)and was quite proud of that. We received secular credits for Hebrew language and we actually had proper classes. I remember my teacher, a burly MO former IDF tank driver (he was so imposing I’m not sure if he drove the tank or the other way around!) who was brilliant and most effective.

    Nowadays, I’m not sure what they are teaching. My son goes to the same Yeshiva. There are no classes in safa or dikduk, but the yeshiva still awards them their secular credits. I doubt these kids can write a coherent Hebrew sentence.

    Ivrit/Ivris does not make one more or less frum. I can see that immersion in Israel allows kids to learn more and at faster pace. But we still live in English speaking society and our children will always to some extent translate everything back to English, regardless of how immersed they are.

  99. DAVE:

    “I do not think it is important as to which havara is the primarily used version of Hebrew.”

    i don’t think anyone here cares (that much) which havara is used. the question is simply whether or not to use ivrit/ivris to begin with.

  100. I thank Mori ViRebbi R. Kaplan for bringing the IM’s understanding of R. Zechariah ben Avkulus to my attention. Yes; interestingly, it is the very same responsum that R. Slifkin sagaciously cited in commenting on R. Broyde’s article yesterday.
    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=917&st=&pgnum=182

  101. With respect to Rabbi Ginzburg’s take on outrageous comments posted on the internet by Orthodox people, as much as we all believe in free speech etc, it should not be an argument in defending comments which are boorish and lacking in basic humanity. There is little in his article to quibble about and I can respect the Rabbi for his point of view and appreciate a shtikkle mussar.

    However, I would respectfully comment (here – not on Matzav which I doubt would post it) that part of the problem of lack of basic civility that has permeated the Orthodox community lies at the feet of the Rabbis, Roshei Yeshiva and other assorted “gedoilim” and askanim in our community. There sometimes appears to be a scent of being above the law if you are Orthodox. Kol Korei’s are published excoriating individuals for organizing ostensibly pareve “events”. Child molesters, particularly those in our chinuch system, are protected and unpublicized for fear of hurting the yeshiva or impeding shidduchim. Traffic laws (double parking, speeding, talking on cellphone while driving) are routinely ignored. Underhanded business practices are overlooked when choosing honorees for fundraisers, turning shameful activity into back-slapping admiration for “hondlers”. Not to mention infidelity gone mad.

    Can the Rabbis fix all of this? I suspect that would be pie in the sky. But achzorius seeping into our communities is not really surprising seeing as how our leadership allows so much lack of yiras shomayim to permeate our Orthodox world with nary a peep, especially if being perpetrated by “gvirim” who you don’t wish to get on their bad side.

    Sorry for the laundry list rant. Ikvisa d’mechicha?

  102. Thank you, Joel Rich, for the link to today’s NYT article on the Turkish Organ Transplant Surgeon:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/11/world/europe/11organ.html?pagewanted=all

    This is the most recent story illustrating a point I made 3 weeks ago: The primary issue is that we have an existence proof that the consequences of halachicaly prohibiting organ donations leads to immoral and illegal activity.

    “According to organ trade expert Nancy Scheper-Hughes of Organ Watch (in 2001), Israel had become a “pariah” in the organ transplant world. The lack of donations due to Jewish custom heightened the disparity between the supply and demand of organs. This led to the popularity of “transplant tourism” in which patients in need of organs travel to medical centres abroad to receive organs.[11] Prior to the 2008 law prohibiting it, some Israeli organ brokers advertised on the radio and in newspapers. Kidneys, which are the most traded organ, may fetch up to $150,000 for brokers who usually pay the donors far less.[10]” (Wikipedia)

    This is what happens in a society that is 75% Jewish and the dominant belief (e.g. the family of Avi Cohen) is that donating organs at BSD is assur. Of course, this is also the likely explanation for the selective quotation on p. 68 of the contentious Va’ad Halacha paper).

  103. S (and GIL):

    i guess i’ve just witenessed the opposite phenomenon that you guys see. and i don’t think its a yeshivish vs MO issue either. it’s a saturation and utility issue. people i know don’t feel the need to join a shul because why should they pay for place to daven (perhaps not even daily because there are so many shuls)? the shul offers them nothing else. the shiurim they may (or may not) go to are in different places. the local tzedakas they may (or may not) contrbute to are run by different shuls. the chesed organizations they may (or may not) contrubute to are likewise connected with different shuls or independent. and in most cases (due to eruv issues, shul architecture and social expectations) local shuls offer the women even less and programming for kids is also often non-existent or minimal (perhaps an avos u-banim night). in the suburbs, however, no one thinks twice about joining a shul, even though the price can be literally 15 times what it costs in brooklyn. because there the shul is the center of community activity, not just the home of a minyan. and it’s a place for the whole family, not just the adult men. (of course in the suburbs there is a stronger social expectation to join a shul because there are fewer, perhaps just one or two, and everyone knows who does and doesn’t join)

  104. RMF’s understanding of R. Zechariah ben Avkulus is also embraced by R. Daniel Sperber at on pp. 25-26 of http://www.edah.org/backend/JournalArticle/sperber_5_2_final.pdf
    However, R. Sperber does appear to concede in footnote 47 that his interpretation of R. Zechariah ben Avkulus is not the sole legitimate possibility.

  105. RMF’s understanding of R. Zechariah ben Avkulus is also embraced by R. Aryeh Frimer and R. Dov Frimer in their article, addendum, part 3, section (h).
    http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/english/tfila/frimmer2.htm#start
    However, that was published before R. Sperber’s article, and so footnote 47 of R. Sperber’s article opens an avenue of rescue for RJDB’s approach to R. Zechariah ben Avkulus. Yi’yasher kocho shel R. Sperber (and the Frimer brothers, as well).

  106. Also, in defense of RJDB, he subsequently elaborates on his approach to R. Zechariah ben Avkulus in Contemporary Halakhic Problems IV, pp. 6-13, and pp. 56-64 of Benetivot Hahalakhah I. [In the latter source, though, RJDB acknowledges that he is at variance with the Divrei Eliyahu to Parashat Mishpatim, s.v. “lo tihiyeh acharei rabim”.]

  107. Nachum wrote:

    “Steve, you seem to be missing a fundamental point: The texts in question are *written* in Hebrew. Therefore, one way or another, the student is going to *have* to learn Hebrew. Teaching Chumash in English is already adding one of the “levels” you so decry”

    That wasn’t my point at all. I would suggest that any pedagogical movement which imposes more than the ability to read the text in its original language, comprehend the same and translate and explain in his or her own native language is an example of moving the goalpost back solely for ideological reasons. Of course, a student must be able to read the text in its original Hebrew or Aramaic content. However, imposing two layers of translation strikes me as educationally unsound.

  108. Actually, RJDB’s approach to R. Zechariah ben Avkulus appears to be contradicted by RJDB’s own essay regarding returning from missions on mercy on the Sabbath (Contemporary Halakhic Problems IV, pp. 123-144). RJDB concludes that the Halakhah is like RSZA and not like RMF (-another great confrontation between those Torah luminaries), to the effect that it is forbidden for a healthcare worker to drive home on Shabbat. At the same time, if a moreh hora’ah is asked by a healthcare worker whether he may drive home on Shabbat, and the moreh hora’ah knows that if he tells the worker the truth, then the worker will refuse to save lives in the future (with the statistical imminence that matches the criteria for a choleh lifnaneinu in Chazon Ish, Oholot 22:32), then the moreh hora’ah (on an ad hoc basis) may permit the worker to drive home on Shabbat.

    So I asked RJDB in the summer of 2006 how he can allow falsifying the Halakhah on an ad hoc basis in order to save a life, when according to RJDB the gemara is praising R. Zechariah ben Avkulus for championing the truth and purity of the Halakhah. RJDB answered me that the case of returning home on Shabbat is special, because according to the opinion of RMF (rejected as it may be), it is permitted.

  109. Re article that apparently it is easier to get Israeli citizenship with a Reform, Conservative conversions than with an Orthodox conversion-does that mean that those who were converted by RCA Rabbonim 10-50 years ago etc should now go get a Conservative conversion so that they can make aliyah? A giyur mesafek-see what happens when the RCA did not stand by the conversions that were done before their shamless lack of backbone in standing up for conversionsthat followed their procedures and those of the then CR.

  110. re R Lior, I would take the shivim zekainim more seriously if they were more concerned with the civil rights aspects of the case rather than the ‘disgrace to the Torah’. Seems like it just depends whose ox is being gored.

  111. Mycroft wrote:

    “I specifically asked what does the Orthodox schul gain by belonging-there certainly is activity that the OU does that is worthwhile-it just does not benefit the individual Orthodox schul”

    I think and have always thought that a shul exists to help its members grow in Torah, Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim. Viewing the shul as some sort of amorphous entity independent from the needs of its rav and Baalei Batim strikes me as problematic.

  112. This is in response to an observation by Abba’s Rantings and what MDJ wrote:

    “me ask a simple, non-rhetorical, question. Do you believe that fluency in Hebrew, which, in the 21st century means, of necessity, modern Hebrew, is helpful to being an educated Jew who is able to learn torah independently? Please do not use the words Ivrit b’Ivrit in your response, as my question does not address that at all”

    I have been reciting Hallel on YH and Yom Yerushalayim for years. The issue is not that of a Zionist or non-Zionist means of education. The real issue is whether knowing Modern Hebrew can aid the average American English speaking student to learn Torah independently. I see that as incapable of being distinguished from a pedagocical level from the refusal of both the CI and R S F Mendelovitz to mandate that Charedi youth whose lingua franca was either Hebrew or English translate any text to any language other than the native language.

  113. As far as Shul memberships goes, in my years living in Brooklyn, I primarily attended three shuls, 1 – chassidishe shtibel which required yearly membership dues and they came after me for them [rightly so] 2 – my litvish Shabbos shul which asked $400 of us and everyone pays them 3- a Landaus type of shul which twice a years askes everyone for app. $50 and they receive it from hundreds.

  114. Dave:
    “”However, I would respectfully comment (here – not on Matzav which I doubt would post it) that part of the problem of lack of basic civility that has permeated the Orthodox community lies at the feet of the Rabbis, Roshei Yeshiva and other assorted “gedoilim” and askanim in our community. There sometimes appears to be a scent of being above the law if you are Orthodox. Kol Korei’s are published excoriating individuals for organizing ostensibly pareve “events”. Child molesters, particularly those in our chinuch system, are protected and”

    To claim that this lies at the feet of Rabbis and RY is ridiculous. I’ve lived in Brooklyn a good part of my life and I can hardly ever remember a kol korei about anything. IT was hardly a regular feature of life until recent times when the Israeli Yerushalmi system started to infiltrate and now there are some Kol Koreis – most of which ignored – that get far more attention from the media than they deserve.
    People speaking badly about one another is as old as the universe itself and to lay the blame for nasty internet comments at the feet of rabbis and rabbonim just don’t cut the mustard.

  115. >The real issue is whether knowing Modern Hebrew can aid the average American English speaking student to learn Torah independently.

    Finally! Many of us disagree with you, because Modern Hebrew is closely related to and in certain respects continuous from the Hebrew used in rabbinic writings. It is also the only real option for spoken Hebrew; you can’t do Ivris b’Ivris using leshon chachamim, so that’s why Modern Hebrew is used.

    Therefore it’s like immersion in French in order to study the French classics for half or most of the day. No, the students don’t think in French, but since they need to know French *anyway* in order to study French lit., teaching them French via immersion is not an impediment, but an aid.

  116. >To claim that this lies at the feet of Rabbis and RY is ridiculous.

    The author of the piece in question is himself guilty of disseminating some nasty discourse, including pieces which have been published online. Maybe the problem is that no one thinks they themselves are guilty, as the author of the piece certainly does not.

  117. “Steve Brizel on February 11, 2011 at 1:28 pm
    Mycroft wrote:

    “I specifically asked what does the Orthodox schul gain by belonging-there certainly is activity that the OU does that is worthwhile-it just does not benefit the individual Orthodox schul”

    I think and have always thought that a shul exists to help its members grow in Torah, Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim. Viewing the shul as some sort of amorphous entity independent from the needs of its rav and Baalei Batim strikes me as problematic.”

    A “shul exists to help its members grow in Torah, Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim”-agreed-but as a valid charity it should not spend money on other organizations. BTW-most years I have paid individual membership for the OU-it serves a valid communal purpose but its interests are not the same as a schuls.

    “from the needs of its rav ”
    a schul does not exist to supply the needs of its Rav-the reverse is true. That does not mean that the schul under present circumstances does not owe the Rav for services rendered- which can include deferred compensation. The principle is that a schul should not be a place for a Rav to set up his chuldren, grandchildren etc as a family business.

  118. “The author of the piece in question is himself guilty of disseminating some nasty discourse, including pieces which have been published online”

    Agreed-BTW he is not shy about attacking other neighborhood Rabbonim if they don’t follow his hashkafa see eg his attacs on those who did not treat Rubashkin as a saint-or his attacks on a local YI that had Sara Hurwitz as a scholar in residence etc. It depends on whose ox is being gored.

  119. Among other things, tzitzit are not “prayer fringes.”

  120. Mycroft wrote:

    “The principle is that a schul should not be a place for a Rav to set up his chuldren, grandchildren etc as a family business”

    What is a son of a rav is the most qualified person to replace his father? See ShuT Avnei Nezer which has a long essay on this issue.
    I think that a shul can and should affiliate with an organization that helps it fulfill the spiritual needs of its membership. That strikes me as Tzedakah in the wider sense of that term,

  121. Once again, Steve: If you’re reading a text in Hebrew, Ivrit b’Ivrit is *not* “two layers of translation.” It’s one. (Let’s leave aside the issue of the oft-ignored fact that Aramaic and Hebrew are two different languages.)

  122. “What is a son of a rav is the most qualified person to replace his father? ”

    Very unlikely to be the most qualified person. Even assuming arguendo he isthe most qualified -it would appear to be nepotism and thus should rarely be the case. I am not talking about the Chassidic world where the expectation is that members expect the child to replace the son.

    “I think that a shul can and should affiliate with an organization that helps it fulfill the spiritual needs of its membership”
    I am not aware of any organization that fulfillsthe spiritual needs of schuls members.

  123. >The real issue is whether knowing Modern Hebrew can aid the average American English speaking student to learn Torah independently.

    Of course it can!

    What is the question? Don’t believe me? Come and see my 4th grade daughter (here in Israel) go toe-to-toe in mishna with the average american yeshiva boy of the same age. She will be done with the Mishna+Kehati before her american counterpart can finish reading the Mishna. Now, you could say that many commentaries are available in English – but does anyone really believe that such translations are a real replacement for Hebrew Fluency?

  124. “chardal on February 13, 2011 at 4:44 am
    >The real issue is whether knowing Modern Hebrew can aid the average American English speaking student to learn Torah independently.

    Of course it can!

    What is the question? Don’t believe me? Come and see my 4th grade daughter (here in Israel) go toe-to-toe in mishna with the average american yeshiva boy of the same age”

    Of course, the above statements are all correct-but the issue is what is the purpose of North American Orthodox education-if the purpose is to have kids bee frum Jews at the end of the education process then one should not teach ivrit bivrit to all. There is no doubt that many extreme difficulty following a subject in a language that is not their native tongue. Of course, ivrit bivrit would help those who can master it-but sadly that is far from an overwhelming majority of the population. Of course, one should equally question teaching Gemarrah in 5th grade-gavra/chevza analysis in 7th or 8th grade etc-they are equally disastorus for a high percentage of the school age population.
    The learning simultaneously of Hebrew and English can have negative effects to a decent percentage of the school age population-a study by the Boston Hebrew College showed that those who learnt Hebrew simultaneously in the US had a higher rate of dyslexia-a similar study in reverse by U of Haifa I believe showed that Israelis of Anglo background had much more difficulty learning Hebrew. In the US right/left confusion is more frequent in day school children than that of the general population.

  125. I think the Ivrit B’Ivrit question is not really the crux of the issue. The main point that many are making (including me) is that knowing Modern Hebrew is important for many reasons including learning Torah and, for the Zionists among us, being comfortable in Israel. For those who agree with this point, the secondary issue is how do we accomplish that. Is Ivrit B’Ivrit the best way or is there some other way; e.g., serious language classes, ulpanim, Rosetta Stone (I keep hearing their ads on WINS) or other techniques? That is a separate question that I would be interested in hearing some educators opine on.

  126. Chardal,

    I think your statement proves Steve’s point. I would venture that Steve readily admits thats native Hebrew speakers can understand the language in mishnayos more easily. However:

    1) Americans learning ivrit b’ivrit are not native speakers and
    2) more importantly, simple translation is not the objective of learning torah. I highly doubt a fourth grader has a greater conceptual understanding of mishnayos than a 7th grader. Steve’s point is that to for native English speakers to understand the depth of Torah ivrit b’ivrit only acts as a hinderance.

    p.s. I do not mean to minimize the importance of translation, but that is not the objective or goal. It is necessary, but definitely not sufficient for Torah study as Steve means it.

  127. “The main point that many are making (including me) is that knowing Modern Hebrew is important for many reasons including learning Torah and, for the Zionists among us, being comfortable in Israel. ”

    The Zionists among us are living in Israel. As Alan Dershowitz has pointed out there is no exact restrictions in the US-between Newark and JFK there are hiw many nonstop flights a week to Israel-never mind all the other possibilities that one can get via ITA.
    For better or worse aliyah has not really taken off from North America. NBN has just laid off about 15% of their staff.
    When one makesaliyah one can take an ulpan to study Israeli Hebrew-one does not need to know the Hebrew words for soccer penalty kicks to be a good Jew in chutz laaretz.

  128. “The Zionists among us are living in Israel. ”

    Mycroft, I would have thought you’re too smart to be so pedantic.

  129. Mycroft, once again, it’s the same language. If they don’t understand Hebrew in one context (Ivrit b’Ivrit), they won’t (really) understand Hebrew in another (translating passages).

  130. “Joseph Kaplan on February 13, 2011 at 5:02 pm
    “The Zionists among us are living in Israel. ”

    Mycroft, I would have thought you’re too smart to be so pedantic”

    I don’t live in Israel-decisions about Israel must be made by Israelis. I neither pay taxes in Israel or have contributed anything to Israel-certainly have not served in Israeli army. I have visited Israel many times but that does not make me a Zionist.If I were a true Zionist I would be willing to live in Dimona or Tiberias-.
    I have sympathy for Israel and am interested in it-nut that doesn’t make me a Zionist-living there does. IYH I willl be there before not too long but I despite having met with NBN,JA and AACI-probably more than many US “Zionists” have-I still live in NA thus not a Zionist. Is it a big tragedy that US Jews essentially haven’t made aliyah since 48 or 67 yes on a cosmic Jewsih scale probably a tragedy similar to the times of EZra-but that beleif does not make me a Zionist when I could be there if I chose to in a matter of days.

  131. “Nachum on February 13, 2011 at 5:10 pm
    Mycroft, once again, it’s the same language.”

    I agree-Moshe rabbeinu would understand modern Hebrew.

    “If they don’t understand Hebrew in one context (Ivrit b’Ivrit), they won’t (really) understand Hebrew in another (translating passages).”
    Agreed-in general.I don’t wish to limit membership in Jewish people to the roughly ahlf or so who could master Ivrit bivrit whose native language is English. BTW-my same criticisms would be placed on any school that mandates ability to learn gemarrah to attend their school. Probably even fewer can properly learn gemarran than learn ivrit bivrit.

  132. “I don’t live in Israel-decisions about Israel must be made by Israelis. I neither pay taxes in Israel or have contributed anything to Israel-certainly have not served in Israeli army.”

    I agree.

    “I have visited Israel many times but that does not make me a Zionist.If I were a true Zionist I would be willing to live in Dimona or Tiberias-.
    I have sympathy for Israel and am interested in it-nut that doesn’t make me a Zionist-living there does.”

    I disagree; your definition of Zionist is much too narrow. When I was young, my shul had a little league team. I played center field and somehow was able to finagle the number 7 to wear on my uniform. I was a baseball player. There happened to be another center fielder in NY at that time who also wore number 7. He was also a baseball player. No one, not even me, thought we were the same type of baseball player. I don’t ever mix up my type of Zionism with that of those who live in Israel. But that doesn’t mean I’m not a Zionist, just that I’m a little league one compared to those who win triple crowns.

  133. “I don’t ever mix up my type of Zionism with that of those who live in Israel. But that doesn’t mean I’m not a Zionist, just that I’m a little league one compared to those who win triple crowns”

    Is someone who likes Orthodoxy maybe even belongs to the OU but refuses to be SHomer Shabbos etc Orthodox?

  134. “Is someone who likes Orthodoxy maybe even belongs to the OU but refuses to be SHomer Shabbos etc Orthodox?”

    Wasn’t that the case for decades?

  135. MiMedinat HaYam

    except for shuls that are (practically) owned by the rav (most often found in chassidishe circles, but found even in some MO contexts), the purpose of a shul is not to serve the rav (and / or his family).

    2. the vast majority of rabbonim who got their job by succeeding their father should probably have found a “shteller” elsewhere, at least for a few years, before taking over their father’s (or other relative’s) shteller. actually, this would prob apply by some chassidishe circles too, even over the past few hundred years. but of course, there is the problem of letting go.

    3. historically, anyone who is jewish, is orthodox, unless he went over the wall to C or R, as O predated C or R. unaffiliated are O, too. this should be our argument.

  136. MiMedinat HaYam

    regarding hebrew illiteracy in yeshivot (connected to the ivrit b’ivrit debate here), i point to http://www.lookstein.org/resources/literacy/adventures.pdf.

    this might make an interesting post on this topic alone, r gil.

    though the article focuses on ibc, i would extend it to riets, to a degree, and to (almost) ALL yeshiva students in america today. and an indictment of the yeshiva high school (elementary schools, too) movement.

  137. I recall with some pain a RIETS student (or perhaps even graduate), assistant rabbi in a very prominent shul, who got maftir on the occasion of a family simcha and had to fight his way through the Hebrew of the Haftorah. He was hardly unique among those with at least twelve years of Jewish education, although most simply never layn.

    YU’s Kollel Yom Rishon is attended perhaps exclusively by day school (and even YU) graduates. When R’ Goldvicht- whose Hebrew, at least when speaking to American audiences (and even Israeli) is very easy to follow- speaks to them, he does so in English. I once asked the coordinator why this is so; he answered that most people simply wouldn’t be able to follow. Experience tells me this is true.

  138. MiMedinat HaYam

    nachum — i’m surprised at rav goldvicht — his shiur is specifically given in hebrew for reasons i am advocating.

    as for KYR, i see mostly YU grads. definitely the type of crowd that may very well attend a regular gemara shiur in local shul. which tells you the quality of such shiurim. charedi shiurim, too. but of course, they rely on the aetscroll.

  139. Joseph Kaplan and Mycroft-how would either of you understand RYBS’s famous hesped for R Velvel ZL, who RYBS decribed as the greatest Ohev EY that he ever met, despite his decidedly and well known feelings and views towards Zionism, etc?

  140. MeMedinat HaYam-how about a study in the ability to read, translate any text, and explain it in one’s native language? WADR to the authors of the study, I think that the ability to learn Torah is dependent on the reader’s ability to decipher the text, not whether it can be translated into Modern Hebrew.

  141. MiMedinat HaYam

    steve:

    there is no real diff betweenb modern vs biblical vs mishnaic / rabbinic hebrew.

    as opposed to old english / shakespearean english, old french / various germanic languages.

    prob cause there was a commoon texts of torah, gmarah, etc.

    2. anyway, you cant really understand gmara by knowing concepts. lamguage is important. (thouigh i would like to “translate” some gmara into powerpoint slides, to correspond to blackboard charts often drawn by rebbeim.)

  142. from that link that MiMedinat HaYam gave: “We found that a substantial minority of our students did not know how to read nequdot, and did not know the difference between bet and vet or pe and fe.”

    hmm.

  143. “Joseph Kaplan on February 14, 2011 at 9:05 am
    “Is someone who likes Orthodoxy maybe even belongs to the OU but refuses to be SHomer Shabbos etc Orthodox?”

    Wasn’t that the case for decades?”

    No-He was never Orthodox-paying money does not make one a believer.

  144. “. the vast majority of rabbonim who got their job by succeeding their father should probably have found a “shteller” elsewhere, at least for a few years, before taking over their father’s (or other relative’s) shteller”

    Agreed-but the sad fact is that probably most could not get a job nearly as good-.

    . “historically, anyone who is jewish, is orthodox, unless he went over the wall to C or R, as O predated C or R. unaffiliated are O, too. this should be our argument”
    Believe it or not that was the OUs ludicrous argument about 50 years ago-they would maintain that they represent a few million Jews-anyone who didn’t reject Orthodoxy by affiliating with another group is Orthodox. The OU acts to my knowledge much more responsibly now-I hope and assume.

    “I recall with some pain a RIETS student (or perhaps even graduate), assistant rabbi in a very prominent shul, who got maftir on the occasion of a family simcha and had to fight his way through the Hebrew of the Haftorah. He was hardly unique among those with at least twelve years of Jewish education,”

    He sadly was hardly unique among those who have attended 12 years of Jewish education-prbably most RIETS musmachim can read an Haftarah.
    I have asked many principals and HS mechanchim over the past couple of decades the following question-what per cent of your students can’t read vocalized Hebrew fluently-I have received a constant answer no matter what the school-MO/MO ivrit bivrit, pseudo chareidi of about 25%-35%.

    “When R’ Goldvicht- whose Hebrew, at least when speaking to American audiences (and even Israeli) is very easy to follow- speaks to them, he does so in English”
    He also speaks in Hebrew to general American audiences for a few years I attended his weekly Parshah /Haskafa shiurim.

  145. “Steve Brizel on February 14, 2011 at 3:45 pm
    Joseph Kaplan and Mycroft-how would either of you understand RYBS’s famous hesped for R Velvel ZL, who RYBS decribed as the greatest Ohev EY that he ever met, despite his decidedly and well known feelings and views towards Zionism, etc?”
    I don’t see the conflict-one can love EY as a land and hate Jewish soveregnty-standard chareidi beliefs.

  146. Steve: Eretz Yisrael is different from Midinat Yisrael. That’s how I would understand it but maybe teh Rav meant something else.

    Mycroft: I think your definition of Orthodox, certainly how it was understood in, say, the 30s-50s, is as unnecessarily narrow as your definition of Zionism.

  147. MiMedinat HaYam

    to mycroft:

    1. cant get a job nearly as good. actually (at least in the non charedi world) some would have done better for themselves.

    2. 25 – 35% — emphasis on this independent of charedi / MO / pseudo one-or-the-other. and what bothers me is that not only no one cares, but some even here say its not a pblm.

    3. rav golvicht — hebrew in parsha / hashkafa shiurim, which are non text based, and the audience has a background in the underlying material. but why he caves in to cjf as far as KYR is concerned?

    4. ohavei yisrael — rav amram blau, rav yoel the divrei yoel

  148. “Mycroft: I think your definition of Orthodox, certainly how it was understood in, say, the 30s-50s, is as unnecessarily narrow as your definition of Zionism.”
    tHERE ARE GOOD INSTITUTIONAL REASONS WHY ORGANIZATIONS LIKE TO MAGNIFY THE NUMBERS THAT THEY HAVE. BTW-I SUBMIT THE INSTITUTIONAL DEFINITIONS HAVEN’T CHANGED AS LONG AS THERE IS MONEY INVOLVED WE’LL COUNT THEM. What has changed is that fewer people chose to identify as Orthodox-either because they see nothing gained by belonging-or as Orthodoxy has become less tolerant people are leaving yahadus altogether and don’t feel welcome at Orthodox schuls. THOUGHT EXPERIMENT-WHAT DOES AN ORTHODOX JEW HAVE TO DO TO BE CONSIDERED ORTHODOX?
    keep kosher?
    keep shabbos?
    ask shailot of rabbonim and be willing to follow their answers?
    belong to an Orthodox schul?
    attend services at an Orthodox schul?
    if married and of appropriate age does the wife go to mikveh?

  149. “MiMedinat HaYam on February 14, 2011 at 7:20 pm
    to mycroft:

    1. cant get a job nearly as good. actually (at least in the non charedi world) some would have done better for themselves.”

    “some” is undoubtedly true-but many are not in the same league as their fathers.

    “2. 25 – 35% — emphasis on this independent of charedi / MO / pseudo one-or-the-other. and what bothers me is that not only no one cares,”
    agreed-and since a very high percentage will be lost to Yiddishkeit-unless they inherit a lot of money nobody will be interested in them and they won’t be able to really go to thegreat gathering place of modern NA Yiddishkeitthe schul. They won’t feel at home there- “but some even here say its not a pblm.”
    very sad-but no one cares those kidswill not be writing chidushei Torah or winning Intel contests etc.

    “3. rav golvicht — hebrew in parsha / hashkafa shiurim, which are non text based,”
    I remeber him giving out texts for his shiurim-
    and the audience has a background in the underlying material.-I’m not sure all had a background in each individual source

    “but why he caves in to cjf as far as KYR is concerned?”
    CJF lectures I guess are in English-he’ll speak whatthey ask him to speak in.

    “4. ohavei yisrael — rav amram blau, rav yoel the divrei yoel”
    no reason to doubt that they are or are RHS, RMAngel, Gil or anyone else I assume people are Ohavei Yisrael.

  150. Steve, you clearly didn’t click on the link. The study is all about translating Hebrew into English.

    MeMedinat: I agree on the quality of the audience. The subject matter of some of the shiurim bears that out. That’s why it’s shocking. And I agree it’s probably true of charedi audiences as well.

    I do wonder what types of people attend R’ Golvicht’s weekly Hebrew shiurim now.

    By the way, Shakespearean English *is* Modern English. Modern English speakers wouldn’t even be able to read Old English out loud, much less understand it, and Middle English looks weird and needs extensive footnotes just to define words.

    Sadly, anti-Zionism can, indeed, get extreme enough to spill over into being anti-Eretz Yisrael and Am Yisrael.

  151. “famous hesped”
    Not referring to the context of your comment-but in gneral a hesped isthelast place one would look for historical truth about anything. Thus some have insisted in a zavaah no hespedim with comments like on the way to olam haemet I don’t want sheker said in front of me.

  152. Mycroft, You see everything in terms of dollars and cents and think everbody else thinks and acts that way also. I think that says more about you than about the people whose motives you denigrate.

  153. MiMedinat HaYam

    “cant get a job nearly as good. actually (at least in the non charedi world) some would have done better for themselves.”

    ‘some’ is undoubtedly true-but many are not in the same league as their fathers.”

    i should qualify the above. applies to non rabbis too. many friends of mine (maybe me too) shouldnt have gone into the family business.

    but success in family business is quantifiable. money.

    success in torah business is less quantifiable. it may make money (or it may not) but does it make torah?

  154. “Joseph Kaplan on February 15, 2011 at 9:12 am
    Mycroft, You see everything in terms of dollars and cents and think everbody else thinks and acts that way also.”
    Honest economic models are pretty good at relecting reality-certainly Gary Becker -has written extensively on this point. For those who believe I am prejudiced against Chicago Nobel Prize winners your wrong I recognize those of integrity-Gary Becker.

    ” I think that says more about you than about the people whose motives you denigrate.”
    What Peter says about Paul argument-I would say when someone talks morality check for their economic interest-see when people advocate positions against their economic interest.

    “MiMedinat HaYam on February 15, 2011 at 5:09 pm
    “cant get a job nearly as good. actually (at least in the non charedi world) some would have done better for themselves.”

    ‘some’ is undoubtedly true-but many are not in the same league as their fathers.”

    i should qualify the above. applies to non rabbis too. many friends of mine (maybe me too) shouldnt have gone into the family business.”
    If a family business not asking for charity who cares-but when supporting oneself from charity it is a different matter.

    “but success in family business is quantifiable. money.”
    Agreed-subject to the constraints of obeying laws etc.

    “success in torah business is less quantifiable. it may make money (or it may not) but does it make torah?”
    That is the question-and treating Torah as a business is couterproductive to Torah.

  155. MiMedinat HaYam

    “If a family business not asking for charity who cares-but when supporting oneself from charity it is a different matter.”

    i dont see a shul and / or yeshiva as a charity (legally, it may organized as one, but practically speaking (and many charities) are private businesses of a sort. the principal is not supporting himself from charity, unless the giver is a fool (many may be fools, esp in the charedi world), but he (she) is supporting himself from his fundraising (or other business) skills.

    2. “That is the question-and treating Torah as a business is couterproductive to Torah.”

    but it is a business. may be counterproductive, or may be not altruistic, but thats how it is. not necessarily for the bad, if properly handled.

    3. i look at many jewish (and non jewish) 501(c)3’s tax returns, and i look at them as a businesses, with a tax advantage of not subject to income tax, and beni of tax deductabilty of donations. otherwise, it is a business. i dont begrudge the principal his high salary (if a valid %age of income / donations) provided he fulfills his business aim. if that means give charity to the needy, fine. if it means provide a convenient shul for davening, fine. if it means provide yeshiva education, fine. if it means mislead on your corporate aims, not fine.

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