Nothing nice to say about charedim?

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Any attempt at candor about problems within the charedi community seems to open a can of worms. Few indeed — even among Orthodox Jews — are the people who can see how overwhelmingly the good outweighs the bad within the charedi community. The comments to my post about “Charedi hooligans” have been very disheartening and depressing to me, running ten to one against charedim.

I cannot imagine any other group within the Jewish world — not Mizrachi, or MO, or Reform or Conservative or secular Jews or Federation or any other group you can think of — who would be vilified on any website the way charedim are, with no one coming to their defense — and if one person does try to say something nice about charedim, a lot of others turn on him and attack him for daring to defend the indefensible.

If one person attacked and criticized Reform or Modern Orthodoxy on a website, a bunch of other people would quickly pile on to counter-attack and accuse that person of intolerance, bigotry and so on, or at least to say that it’s counterproductive to say mean things about Reform, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, yada yada. But here one person attacks charedim and a bunch of other people pile on to agree with him and say charedim are even worse than he said, and hardly anyone weighs in with a mild protest against the bigotry. In American politics, the one group you can safely attack without being accused of bigotry are white Christians. Here in our Jewish world, the people it’s OK to hate are charedim.

I’d like to see a Modern Orthodox blog on which some MO writer would admit there are problems in the MO community(or a Reform site on which a writer admitted there are some things wrong with the Reform movement), and dozens of people would pile on to criticize him for not condemning his own community even more strongly, and to point out that his community is much worse than he admits, and in fact, has hardly any redeeming features.

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89 Responses

  1. Adam says:

    Very interesting discussion. (I only found “Cross-currents” today!).

    I must admit to being a little amused at the following terms: ‘chareidi’, ‘chareidi-lite’, ‘MO’, ‘RZ’, ‘ultra-orthodox’. Especially at this time of bein hametzarim (or just after) we should be stressing what is common to all streams of Orthodoxy. Belief in torah min hashamyim and the supremacy of torah sheb’al peh which, when it comes down to it is what distinguishes us (NOT divides) from non-Orthodox groups. Having said that, there ARE differences in approach but a discussin often turns just a bit nasty at times.

    If Rav Kotler said what he said, well, I think it is regrettable. It is also a shame that every statement which comes from a Rabbi is regarded as halacha mi sinai. It is my experience that in all the tapes, books and what-not we are constantly reminded how we are NOTHING compared to Chazal.

    As far as the original article goes – I’m afraid that there is widespread bad middos demonstarated by large numbers of “”chareidim””, be it in parking etiquette or simply the way they relate to shop-workers. No doubt, many many other people behave in the same way but what really winds up others is the over-weening self-importance and self-righteousness. I worked in a clinic in Israel and was told that it is to be exclusively chareidi because of “tohar machaneinu”! In the experience of people close to me who work in the frum part of my English city, they are treated with great arrogance which the non-Jewish neighbours (in a pretty working class area) do not share. Oy vei – don’t get me started on how they talk about “shvartzers” (PLEASE forgive me for using that awful term). Several colleagues of mine in the hospital have asked me why “the guys in the black hats” are so brusque – which I find very upsetting.

    I hope this isn’t perceived as an anti-chareidi rant because there is plenty to criticise in the MO (oh no – I’m doing it as well!!) world. Just as with any ideology, the motives of the progenitors might be pure but the practice often falls below the ideal. There is a lack of observance amongst many supposed adherents of modern Orthodox philosophy.

    Please let us not be like Kamtsa and Bar-Kamtsa when BOTH sides (and the rabbis watchng from the sidelines) caused the churban.

  2. dr. william gewirtz says:

    Mr. Reisman – thank you for your comments and clarifications on another thread. I appreciate the history of chat groups and e-mail that are not as naturally an archived forum. Blogging is naturally archived more so even that list-servers like “mail-jewish” and also much more addictive and I might admit enjoyable. because of that, i must sign off before Tisha B’av.

    Wishing everyone a meaningful Tisha B’av and more emphasis on what unites us. It is that aspect of blogging, that thrives on controversy, that does worry me.

  3. Jewish Observer says:

    calling someone “the Rav” may be endearment on their part, but it denotes and exclusionism that I still find demeaning

    it all depends who you are using the phrase with. none of us doesn’t call the teacher “rebbi” even though there are other rebbis in the world. but if you start referring to him as rebbi to those not in his class, THAT is takeh irritating.

  4. Elliot Pasik says:

    Hillel:

    What did Rav Aharon Kotler say, and when did he say it?

    Did Rav Aharon say offshoot of Reform? Same dynamic as Reform?

    In those days, modern orthodoxy was synonymous with Yeshiva University, which was hated by many European rabbis (and still is, let’s not kid ourselves). The idea of Torah learning and secular studies on the same campus, awarding degrees, and wearing caps and gowns to boot, was anathema. Extreme statements directed at YU, and some modern orthodox practices common for that era such as mixed dancing, were not unusual.

    To appreciate the zealous, uncompromising character of Rav Aharon Kotler, I highly recommend, “The Legacy of Maran Rav Aharon Kotler”, by Rabbi Yitzchok Dershowitz (Feldheim 2006), which I read for a few hours this past Shabbos afternoon.

  5. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Dr. Gewirtz:

    Thank you for the quote. As to your comment that “blogging has given rise to something Brisk could not begin to fathom – publishing what people should not have the temerity to call thinking.” It predates blogging and goes back to the chat groups on the internet. It is, in fact, a very real consequence of the entire e-mail phenomenon. It is one of the most cogent arguments I know for the ban on the internet.

  6. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Hillel:

    You write of Rav Aharon and Modern Orthodoxy, “You may not like it, you may not accept it, but he meant it.” Exactly what he meant and how he meant it I don’t know, but some of our posters bring to mind Dr. Joseph Kaminetsky’s book in which he details a story of how a Lakewood yungerman working for Torah uMesorah was complaining how “Dr. Joe” was leading the organization down the path to Mizrachi. This yungerman was making things very difficult for Dr. Joe, who was unabashedly Mizachri and fairly modern to boot, and he basically told Rav Aharon that one of the two of them would have to go. In the end, Rav Aharon eased the Lakewood Yungerman out of Torah uMesorah, and the “modern” Dr. Joe stayed.

    So the question remains what Rav Aharon said, when he said it, and what he meant by it. And by the way, one could also make the same observation about Rav Shimshon Rafoel Hirsch coming from the same dynamic as Reform. Not to mention the historical context that produced the Malbim, the Emek Davar, and the Torah Temimah (problematic I know, but still in our libraries).

    To Yitzchak Adlerstein, calling someone “the Rav” may be endearment on their part, but it denotes and exclusionism that I still find demeaning. And if you want to pick EY Brisk and Lubavitch as examples, I find both can be irritating in the extreme. Or maybe, by pointing out it’s not just an MO macha, you proved my point.

  7. dr. william gewirtz says:

    In response:

    “Dr. Gewirtz,

    I am not suggesting anything to diminish Rav Soloveitchik ZTâ??L, only that you and like-minded people should stop carping about ArtScroll and start to toot your own horn more effectively.

    Comment by Bob Miller â?? July 20, 2007 @ 8:03 am”

    Thank you for your clarification and advice. Relative to the Rav ZT”L, i do not believe it is necessary. I am sure in time much more will be published. History is just harder than hagiography. Artscroll serves its readership and, I assume, is reflective of their beliefs; carping would be time poorly spent and ineffective.

    “To: William Gewirtz

    The source for Reb Aharonâ??s statement likening MO to Reform is his HesPed on Rav Y.Z. Soloveitchik printed in MIshnas Rav Aharon.

    He states very clearly there that MO is the same dynamic as Reform was when it beganâ??accomodation to and compromise with â??modernity.â??

    Comment by HILLEL â?? July 20, 2007 @ 9:48 am”

    Your original statement:

    “Modern Orthodoxy is, in the words of Rav Aharon Kotler, ZTâ??L, an offshoot of Reform, embodying the same dynamicâ??accomodation to â??modernity,â?? at the expense of Halacha.”

    Your two statements are different. “An offshoot” would be factually incorrect as I stated. Taking your current statement as accurate, I will read it later, is an opinion that, history will decide. In the forty-five plus years since the statement was made, modern orthodoxy has, if anything, moved to the center / right. Early returns do not support the validity of the statement; I pray that our future never does.

  8. Jewish Observer says:

    “To Reisman and Pasik:”

    does not sound like a nice way to address people

  9. HILLEL says:

    To Reisman and Pasik:

    Rav Aharon made the statement in a very serious context, in a Hesped on the Brisker Rav, ZT”L. You can look it up in “MIshnas Rav Aharon.”

    Please don’t demean Rav Aharon–a brilliant clear-headed Godol–by implying that he made irresponsible “emotional” statements.

    You may not like it, you may not accept it, but he said it and meant it.

  10. HILLEL says:

    To: William Gewirtz

    The source for Reb Aharon’s statement likening MO to Reform is his HesPed on Rav Y.Z. Soloveitchik printed in MIshnas Rav Aharon.

    He states very clearly there that MO is the same dynamic as Reform was when it began–accomodation to and compromise with “modernity.”

  11. Michoel says:

    “Chareidi” society of 70 years ago demeaned the MO society of that time. But the current MO society is probably much frummer then the charedim were 70 years ago! The vast majority of MO women cover their hair to some degree, but 70 years ago there were wives of Roshei Yeshiva that did not. So yes, I fully agree with those that are demanding context.

  12. Bob Miller says:

    Dr. Gewirtz,

    I am not suggesting anything to diminish Rav Soloveitchik ZT”L, only that you and like-minded people should stop carping about ArtScroll and start to toot your own horn more effectively.

  13. dr. william gewirtz says:

    In response:

    Why wait for others to fairly represent Gedolim you revere? Go buy your own hagiograph and let ‘er rip.

    Comment by Bob Miller — July 19, 2007 @ 8:52 am

    Modern Orthodoxy is, in the words of Rav Aharon Kotler, ZT”L, an offshoot of Reform, embodying the same dynamic—accomodation to “modernity,” at the expense of Halacha.

    I am personally acquainted with one of the most prominent leaders of MO, and I watched his metamorphosis from Yeshiva man to accomodationist sophisticate over a span of years. It wasn’t ideology that drove his transformation; it ws raw ambition—to be accepted by the rich and powerful.

    Comment by HILLEL — July 19, 2007 @ 1:26 pm

    First, Rabbi Alderstein, seriously thank you for explaining the use of the term Rav. You provided perspective. The Brisker, RYBS, R. KOOK and the Rebbe, might all have something unique in common.

    Second, Mr. Miller, as one who had some limited first hand knowledge of the Rav’s grasp of mathematics (it came up twice in three years of shiurim) and having read his more philosophic essays, you are free to argue that knowledge of mathematics and secular philosophy are not relevant to a Gadol, but independent of its importance, in that regard, the Rav ZT’L, was unique. That is not exaggeration, just something that very few generations in our history have witnessed. I would never say, and I do not believe that the Rav was unique either as a Gadol or in his mastery of multiple secular subjects. It is the combination that was unique, independent of how it might be valued. How valuable is clearly subject to debate.

    HILLEL, your second paragraph is irrelevant. Citing an unnamed individual to besmirch a movement should not have passed muster from the moderation panel. In secular settings that would be considered undignified and hardly convincing of anything, except perhaps the biases of the author.

    Your quote of R. Aharon Kotler ZT’L is, without some delimiters, in my opinion, historically inaccurate; I assume either out of context or in a very specific context. As many have requested, source and context would be appreciated.

    Mr. Reisman, the Brisker quote as I have heard it is: Not all that is thought should be expressed, not all that is expressed should be written and not all that is written, should be published. In any case, blogging has given rise to something Brisk could not begin to fathom – publishing what people should not have the temerity to call thinking.

  14. Jewish Observer says:

    “Aharon Kotler referred to modern orthodoxy as an offshoot of Reform.”

    – could have been worse … Reform an offshoot of MO

  15. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “If you are going to dismiss people with such abandon, don’t expect to be able to have an intelligent discussion with them.”

    “The quotation reflects his characteristic zealousness; and I daresay should not be understood literally.”

    I agree with the above respective statements of Lawrence Reisman and Eliot Pasik that one either needs to take such statements in the original historical context in which they were made, or with some grain of salt, and at the very least, one should not use them as talking points in intra-Orthodox conversations. There are also many different ideas included under the term “Modern Orthodox”, and one should ascertain exactly what was being referred to. Personally, I doubt that Rav Aharon Kotler(assuming the quote is correct) was referring to every philosophy held by groups to the left of Agudah(both Hillel and Dr. Gewirtz were very general).

    I thought of this general issue when reading Rabbi Avi Shafran’s recent Jewish Action essay, which did not address directly (for understandable reasons) the issue of sharp statements made by some Gedolim about people or ideas. However, it is a theoretical obstacle that might come up when trying to bridge the divide(at least partially) between Orthodox Jews.

    On the one hand, even if for argument’s sake, one feels that certain statements should not have been made, there are problems involved in publicly directly disagreeing with Gedolim, especially if one is a talmid of theirs and part of that world.

    On the other hand, besides being an obstacle in relationships between followers of both communities, the followers of those critiqued might feel justified in rejecting much more than just the sharp statement in question. While the above was not the intent of the reviewer, I was struck by this paragraph that appeared in a recent Torah Umaddah Journal article:

    ” …[The author] apparently sees this volume as an important resource against this dogmatism, and indeed it is. If [certain non-charedi Gedolim could be accused of heresy for statements they made], then the misuse of the term “heresy” has gotten out of hand… Yahadut can accommodate a good deal of diverse opinion and even sharp debate without anyone being branded a kofer.”

    Whatever the way to get around this issue is, as the above commenter’s wrote, the solution is not to bring these statements back to life in full force in current intra-Orthodox conversation. For example, a respected individual once termed an author who was very critical of charedi policies, a “charedi basher”, and I repeated his opinion. A(charedi) relative of mine knew the author from childhood, and protested that he was a “wonderful person”. When I defended myself by pointing out that I was merely repeating what someone else said, my relative told me that even if the person in question, for the sake of argument, was justified in using the terminology in the circumstance in question, others can not take for themselves the same liberty.

  16. Elliot B. Pasik, Esq. says:

    Hillel –

    I would also like to know more about your claim that Rav Aharon Kotler referred to modern orthodoxy as an offshoot of Reform. Who did Rav Aharon say it to, who else was present, what year, was it a private discussion, a public speech, what was the context, etc. Did he write it? – in a letter, article, book? – I doubt it. Mixed dancing and swimming were common in modern orthodox circles in those days – was that the context? He was an emotional man. Rav Aharon was active in the formation and development of Torah U’Mesorah, to say the least – they opened day schools throughout the country. The historic era is also relevant. Rav Ahron lived from 1892 to 1962. Those were difficult years for a gadol b’dor. He did not have an easy personal life, and he worked 24/6. An out-of-context quotation, with some element of bombast, has to be interpreted carefully.

    I’ve always been inspired by one famous Rav Ahron Kotler quote, written in Dr. David Kranzler’s book, about the American orthodox response to the Holocaust: “I would prostrate myself before the Pope if it would save the fingernail of one Jewish child.” (It is confirmed by several witnesses, including unimpeachable family members.) This quotation seems to fit the personality of Rav Ahron Kotler, with the caveat that I know very little, only various readings, and conversations with people who did know Rav Ahron. The quotation reflects his characteristic zealousness; and I daresay should not be understood literally.

    In this day and age, I would be very cautious in utilizing the quote you attribute to Rav Ahron Kotler.

  17. Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

    Reb Larry –

    No one ever referred to Rav Aharon Kotler, Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky as “the rav,” because that would have singled one out at the expense of others. Only the followers of Rabbi J. B. Soloveitchik have the temerity to do that

    Not really. Briskers (the yeshivish kind, who don’t accept RYBS)commonly use the title “The Rov” for favorite members, depending on which branch they attended. Followers of R Kook referred to him as “The Rav.”

    And to Chabad, there can be only one “The Rebbe.”

    Annoying to the rest of us, but take it for what it is – a term of endearment, not (for at least some of those mentioned) one of exclusion.

  18. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    To Dr. Gewirtz:

    For years, I have heard that the Modern Orthodox are interested in honest depictions of Torah giants, not hagiography. So why make an exception in the case of Rabbi J. B. Soloveitchik?

    For years, I have heard that the Modern Orthodox respect other gedolim and will not denigrate them in any way. Then why is it that they refer to Rabbi J. B. Soloveitchik as “the rav” as if he were the only rav in his time? No one ever referred to Rav Aharon Kotler, Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky as “the rav,” because that would have singled one out at the expense of others. Only the followers of Rabbi J. B. Soloveitchik have the temerity to do that.

    To Hillel:

    If Rav Aharon Kotler really called modern Orthodoxy an offshoot of Reform, I would be very careful where I repeat it, since as (I believe it was)the Brisker Rov (who)once put it, not everything that has been said should be repeated in public. If you are going to dismiss people with such abandon, don’t expect to be able to have an intelligent discussion with them. And by the way, I’m no MO. You can find my articles in the Jewish Observer that will show you otherwise.

  19. HILLEL says:

    To William Gewirtz:

    What you describe is what Agudas Yisroel people practice daily, as lawyers, accountants, and doctors–as well as Kollel people and Roshei Yeshiva.

    Modern Orthodoxy is, in the words of Rav Aharon Kotler, ZT”L, an offshoot of Reform, embodying the same dynamic–accomodation to “modernity,” at the expense of Halacha.

    I am personally acquainted with one of the most prominent leaders of MO, and I watched his metamorphosis from Yeshiva man to accomodationist sophisticate over a span of years. It wasn’t ideology that drove his transformation; it ws raw ambition–to be accepted by the rich and powerful.

  20. Bob Miller says:

    “In any case, even a positive citing that understates the persona of a Gadol, is less than fair. We have to go back perhaps to the Gaon of Vilna, but more likely to Maharal or Rambam, to find an individual with greater knowledge of Torah coupled with almost all areas of chochmah. I don’t expect that Artscroll will write a Hagiography anytime soon!
    Comment by dr. william gewirtz — July 18, 2007 @ 10:18 pm”

    Why wait for others to fairly represent Gedolim you revere? Go buy your own hagiograph and let ‘er rip.

  21. dr. william gewirtz says:

    Comments on the first entry:

    “I suggest that, in their heart-of-hearts, people who have adopted a watered-down version of religion feel very uncomfortable in the presence of those who have remained steadfast and refused to compromise.

    The MO rationalizes his adoption of a “more contemporary” style of Judaism with the argument that it is impossible—in today’s modern world—to live the old values, as they were lived for the last 2000 years.

    The existence of a viable and significant community of Chareidim, puts the lie to this rationalization, and makes the MO extremely uncomfortable. Therefore, he pounces on any sign that the Chareidi lifestyle is defective, in order to legitimize his own.

    Ditto for MO Chritians, LeHavDil.

    Comment by HILLEL — July 13, 2007 @ 9:02 am ”

    This represents exactly what Modern or Centrist Orthodox philosophy disputes – it is not compromise to live within the modern reality, it is preferred. There are risks and some failings are inevitable, but it is our purpose as a people to engage the world around us in almost every age and in almost every circumstance. We have a proud heritage that is further developed in the interaction. It is not BeDeivid but LeChatchila.
    I am not uncomfortable; I just see charedim as taking an easier, less risky and hence less rewarding, alternative path. And using the term “lie to this rationalization” is not very catholic or respectful. It will not get you invited to the debate.

  22. dr. william gewirtz says:

    In response to two comments:

    1)

    Growing up in the RW charedei world; there was (at least)one area about Rav Kook and RYBS being praised and considered worthy of emulating-namely that they never spoke evil or even held a grudge/ill will towards their opponents. It is tragic that those who feel themselvs talmidim of those two don’t follow their example.

    Comment by Zadok — July 16, 2007 @ 10:37 am

    a) Great men do great things; mere mortals behave less well. It is demeaning to both Gedolim to expect the same of their talmidim. b) Besides, they lived in a kinder, gentler time – See R. Berel Wein’s recent article in Jewish Action.

    2)

    This is the entry for R’ Yosef Dov Soloveitchik in the Bibliography of Artscroll’s Stone Chumash

    “Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivas R’ Yizchak Elchanan and rabbi of the Boston Orthodox community. A scion of the Brisk Torah dynasty, he was an original Talmudic scholar, thinker and leader.”

    That leaves me less than convinced that the “Charedi World” (of which Artscroll is usally associated with) by definition vilifies this great man and his legacy.

    Comment by Jacob Haller — July 17, 2007 @ 9:28 am

    Let me be very discreet; Artscroll had its reasons to include the Rav ZT’L teachings and be tempered/guarded in its biographical note. You might note the number of times the insights of the Rav ZT’L are quoted in the chumash. Other charedi obituaries were less motivated. In any case, even a positive citing that understates the persona of a Gadol, is less than fair. We have to go back perhaps to the Gaon of Vilna, but more likely to Maharal or Rambam, to find an individual with greater knowledge of Torah coupled with almost all areas of chochmah. I don’t expect that Artscroll will write a Hagiography anytime soon!

  23. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “Here is a great poem that we should all keep in mind when having such discussion”

    Agreed; I just posted a link to it on my own blog. For the record, some comments above could have benefited from my own editing–so take them for what they are worth :)

  24. Baruch Horowitz says:

    I agree with some points in Rabbi Shafran’s article, although one can analyze and debate other points in the article further. I thought it was very nicely written, and that it was a good idea to bring up in such a forum issues that are on people’s minds(Rabbi Wein makes it clear at the preface to his article that it’s an important topic). I hope there will be more such candid and respectful exchanges in the future.

  25. ben yisachar says:

    The moment the chareidi Leadership acknowledges, in some public way, that they are not Popes; that they have made serious mistakes in the past; that good things can and have come from other Jews, regardless of shevet; that Artscroll is an ideal, not a reality…I think a huge amount of hostility will then go out the window.

    They will be appreciated for all the good they have to offer, and people will feel no need to focus on their problems, unless in a constructive way.

    I honestly think this is the root of the problem.

    menachem

  26. shaulking says:

    Article by Rabbi Shafran, notes the word “Nostalgia” for factual information that he would rather not discuss. Quite condescending and lacking the candidness of Toby Katz.

  27. HILLEL says:

    TO ALL:

    Here is a great poem that we should all keep in mind when having such discussion:

    http://www.eisheschayil.com/private/essays/hat.htm

    MOSHIACH’S HAT
    written for Purim by Rabbi Yitzchak Feigenbaum

    “Twas the night of the Geulah, – And in every single Shtiebel. Sounds of the Torah could be heard coming from every kind of Yeedel…

  28. Jacob Haller says:

    G wrote in # 10
    “Those who are more ready to admit to their own flaws will more quickly attract defenders”

    Regarding this blog your theory doesn’t stand to scrutiny. Jonathan Rosenblum went out on a limb exposing the violence and other unsavory aspects amongst Charedi groups and in reply was a torrent of harsh criticims generally saying he was guilty for not using more bombastic language.

    This is the entry for R’ Yosef Dov Soloveitchik in the Bibliography of Artscroll’s Stone Chumash

    “Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivas R’ Yizchak Elchanan and rabbi of the Boston Orthodox community. A scion of the Brisk Torah dynasty, he was an original Talmudic scholar, thinker and leader.”

    That leaves me less than convinced that the “Charedi World” (of which Artscroll is usally associated with) by definition vilifies this great man and his legacy.

  29. joel rich says:

    If everyone in the Yeshiva World put itself in the shoes of the less asymmetrical side, then it becomes possible to understand where others are coming from
    ===================================

    R’ Baruch,
    And as I urge my comrades, the MO world has to undertand that, at least for now, individual thinking charedim will not be able to say elu v’elu without cognitive dissonance (or being gonev daat). As I alluded to above, it doesn’t make it that much less painful, but it is what it is and demanding that a delegate with limited authority negotiate terms beyond the limits his principal has delegated to him is not usually particularly fruitful for either party.

    KT

  30. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “Growing up in the RW charedei world; there was (at least)one area about Rav Kook and RYBS being praised and considered worthy of emulating-namely that they never spoke evil or even held a grudge/ill will towards their opponents.It is tragic that those who feel themselvs talmidim of those two don’t follow their example”

    My perspective is neither that of a student(or student of student) of RYBS nor that of Rav Kook, although I have utmost respect for them ; my interest is indirect(and perhaps selfish) in that the more tolerant the yeshivah world is towards those outside it, the more tolerant it will be towards openness within it’s own ranks, kal v’chomer. I also like to see and hear cogent, rational, and full arguments on various topics, and if that means differing from, or expanding upon a pro-charedi argument, I feel justified in adding my ideas, for what they are worth, even if they come out on both sides of the issue.

    As far as “held a grudge/ill will towards their opponents”, I didn’t see that in most comments above. Identifying why one feels unhappy with some areas of charedim and/or their ideology is not “a grudge/ill will”, but is a reality in greater, or lesser degrees that one should deal with in the most reasonable manner, other than pretending that it is non-existent, or unjustified. I would draw the line at mockery, over the top language, or not seeing any good; many of the above comments mentioned good points about charedi society, but were not satisfied with the defenses made; I don’t see anything wrong with that.

    There is an issue of asymmetry(mentioned by Joel Rich, comment #7), and I would add, certain past, painful incidents which were never fully healed; once one puts a focus on the general ideas, it is understandable why people will focus on such past issues in the conversation(“chozer v’neor”), although hopefully they will recede into past history one day, instead of having a cumulative effect.

    I don’t have a solution myself, and perhaps there is no complete one. However, it is easy to tell someone else, “don’t bear a grudge”. If everyone in the Yeshiva World put itself in the shoes of the less asymmetrical side, then it becomes possible to understand where others are coming from; in general, I am not convinced that all do this. As I said, I do not have a solution, but I do think that being aware of the mindset of the other side, can partially help those in public positions navigate decisions, as they deals with unbridgeable issues, and public responses which inevitably affect the other side.

    On the topic, I was just reading Rabbi Shafran’s article in the Jewish Action(see Rabbi Wein’s as well); I think it deserves a separate post here(I already have my own comments prepared!).

  31. Steve Brizel says:

    Like it or not, stereotypes and urban myths abound in both the Charedi and MO worlds. I would suggest that anyone seriously interested in ridding themselves of these awful values should simply visit RIETS, Mir, Lakewood or spend a Shabbos in any of the major MO or Charedi communities. It just might be an educational experience for you.

  32. Jewish Observer says:

    “my MO cousins with whom I spend a number of weeks each summer vacationing”

    – mixed (Charedi & MO) swimming?

  33. la costa says:

    Rabbi Frand says that he could get “into trouble ” for mentioning Rav Kook in a derasha, and “that’s what it has come to, and that is why the Bais Hamikdash is not rebuilt”.

    —- here are 2 things we should all be able to agree on:

    1]We are Right. The Other is Wrong.

    2]If that attitude keeps away the Geula, it is worth it, to know that We are Right…

  34. Mark says:

    To all my critics,

    After reading the comments to Mrs. Katz’s last two posts, I have done some serious introspection and have come to the conclusion that you have done me a great favor.
    Without you I would never have realized that all that stuff I’ve learned in Yeshivah about dedication to Torah is nothing more than a transparent attempt to create a generation of idlers, who do nothing more than slosh off government funds and evade army service.

    Without you I would never have picked up on the fact that I’m a racist jerk bent on stereotyping everyone in the most negative fashion and all those Mussar Shmuessen in Yeshivah have had negative effect on me, if at all.

    Without you I never would have imagined the deep inside lies a violent and frustrated side that is only too eager t othrow rocks at anyone less religious than I. I also never would have dreamed that my kids are little terrorists in training because they’ve been raised in a Chareidi environment. They always appear rather well-mannered and we receive lots of compliments about their behavior but now I know that they’re little frauds.

    Without you I’d never have learned that I abhor my MO cousins with whom I spend a number of weeks each summer vacationing. I’ve also learned that the years I spend in Yeshivah not discussing MO theology was only a veiled attempt to demonstrate how utterly insignificant it really is in my eyes and how deeply I abhor it.

    Without you I could never have picked up on the fact that many of my Chareidi friends are not perfect human beings at all. It’s not as if they ever said they were but now, thanks to you all, I’ve learned that deep in their hearts that’s what they believe, and for that they are to be roundly condemned incessantly. Come to think of it, there are indeed, signs that you haven’t even mentioned that point to the fact that they are not perfect human beings. One of them even removed his teffilin before Aleinu the other day!

    Without your help I’d never have thought that the reason they have all those kids is because they lack any creative activities to pursue other than baby-making. I always thought that it was due to altruistic means but now I know the truth. They can forget about hearing Mazal Tov wishes from me again.

    Without your help I’d never have imagined that my unwillingness to attend college and be exposed to an endless river of ideas antithetical to Torah was really nothing more than a deep-seated abhorrence of hard work. Now I know that the years I’ve struggled to earn a living in a less threatening environment, when I could have easily attained my degree and still remained just as Ehrlich and never have to compromise on any Torah values as you all have, were just a waste.

    Thanks to you all, I’ve also learned that it’s pointless to seriously consider the words of people who’ve spent their days engaged in Torah study and character perfection when I could easily find out exactly how to lead my life and navigate it’s challenges by simply logging into a message board and read the accumulated wisdom of people who seem to spend hours daily advising others on how to make their life more meaningful!
    These people who dispense of their wisdom so freely also offer another advantage that the Torah scholars lack – THEY’RE TOTALLY NON-JUDGMENTAL!!!

  35. Baruch Horowitz says:

    BTW, one should note outreach efforts like Lev L’achim, where avreichim volunteer time, and whose very name means caring about non-chardeim. However, one should also listen to complaints about “intolerance” and see if there is anything that one can learn from them.

    Also, as an example of my previous comment of “it should be communicated to the media that there is a stress on appreciating the good in other people even in ideological opponents”, I once heard a lecture from Rabbi Dr. Aron Rakeffet, that Rabbi Moshe Sherer told him that he was grateful to a MO academic, who in the course of research for one of his books, discovered a certain unsettling phenomenon in the Yeshiva world, yet chose not to write about it (the problem is known, but is not relevant for this thread). This would be an example of how someone can find something nice to say about an ideological opponent. If that would happen more often on a public level(in a way which doesn’t blur differences), maybe that would be part of the solution towards reducing criticisms of charedim from some quarters that are a reaction to attacks on their leaders or philosophy.

    Finally, I don’t see as a contradiction Jonathan Rosenblum’s point that “it is incumbent upon the critics to constantly ask themselves if underlying their criticism might not have its source in too little love of Torah and words of Torah”, versus enumerating complaints people have against charedim, for the positive purpose of clarifying an issue and solution. Both aspects can be true(as he writes in ” Torah Extremism and its Opposite”– ‘such criticisms take many forms, some more valid than others’).

  36. HILLEL says:

    Here is a current article from one of Israel’s leading newspapers that coroborates what Mrs. Katz writes:

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3425272,00.html

    Just slap ’em

    Israelis back official who hit religious MK. But what if he had slapped a leftist?

    Uri Elitzur Published: 07.15.07, 01:13 / Israel Opinion

  37. Zadok says:

    Growing up in the RW charedei world; there was (at least)one area about Rav Kook and RYBS being praised and considered worthy of emulating-namely that they never spoke evil or even held a grudge/ill will towards their opponents.It is tragic that those who feel themselvs talmidim of those two don’t follow their example.

  38. ben-aharon says:

    “Rabbi Frand says that he could get ‘into trouble’ for mentioning Rav Kook in a derasha…”
    “Did you ever consider that many in the Centrist Orthodox world believe that they offer the best future for Judaism? Is it possible this hatred you decry is their attempt to defeat that which they view as a disingenuous representation of the past and a failed methodology for the future?”

    Was it really that long ago that one did not have to choose one specfic hashkafa and then negate all the rest? Please tell me when the memo went out because I never got a copy. Somehow in the past we were able to simply say “That’s not for me” without adding “And it’s wrong”. Rav Yitzchok Elchonon Zt”l could learn Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch’s CHOREV and comment that it presented the most impressive explanation of the laws of Shabbos without being concerned that his students in Kovno would leave the yeshiva and head off to the university. What was right for Germany might not be right for Russia and vice versa.
    Who would trouble Rabbi Frand? Other rabbonim who are nameless and faceless antagonists refusing to publicly proclaim their opposition to his Torah, or individuals in our communities who create havoc for their own agendas? If the Street has become so powerful and determinant of our future direction then we can only blame ourselves for not having the courage to expose the nonsense and ignore this culture of rejection of Ayloo V’Ayloo Divrei Elokim Chayim – These and These are the Words of the Living G-D. We all know who repeats offensive critiques they “heard” from some Rav or another. But do we challenge this craziness openly?
    It seems that whenever actions reported about the Chareidi world are discussed in open fora a different set of “rules of engagement” are set in motion. Emotion dominates reason and evidence of assertions are hardly necessary. All segments of the Jewish world could do with considerable improvement. Yet we expect more of the Chareidi world. The patent justification for that is since they purport to follow Torah so assiduously, shouldn’t they BE better than the rest of us? As my kids like to say, “Nice try”. Sadly we are far removed from the time when Menschklichkeit was learned from Torah or even from observance. The mussar movement is over a century old, coming from a time and place when tireless adherence to Torah and Mitzvos was the norm. Even so, there was a recognition that personal conduct and civility required special attention beyond the scope of an ordinary frum upbringing and education. The greivances people decry in the Chareidi world are primarily ones of behavior. This community is not unique in the ability of its members to know one way and act another.
    If we are so diappointed in the Chareidim perhaps it’s because we truly expect them to lead and they do not. In that case, let’s find others to assume the lead.

  39. joel rich says:

    Aha Baruch – so you admit you are really MO :-) (many a truth is said in jest). Truth is if you listen/read R’Dr’ Brill – most of US charedi world is modern (he calls it engaged yeshivish) in that they engage modern society, use its tools etc.
    KT
    Joel Rich