MOChassid

The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @ aol.com

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Broken

I saw an ad soliciting matanos l'evyonim in one of the Jewish newspapers that we get.

Your Matanos L'Evyonim Sweetens (sic) The Bitter Lives of Over 10,000 Children In Every City And Town of Eretz Israel
My reaction to this ad was one of sadness and chalishas hada'as. How have we come to this point? How could the "Gedolei HaDor" (who have supposedly appointed this particular charity as the one of choice) have allowed this to happen? They have created a society of voluntary poverty that relies on the goodwill and chesed of their coreligionists. They have created the 10,000 bitter lives.

I know this is nothing new. But it struck me like cold water when I read the ad and processed what it really meant. Is this what the Torah had in mind?

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31 Comments:

  • At 7:08 AM, Blogger bluke said…

    It is even more distressing when you read things like this How much does it cost to get engaged in Charedi Israel? where people in the Charedi world are supposed to spend a fortune ($1000+ watches) on engagement gifts when they can't even make ends meet.

     
  • At 9:26 AM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    Bluke

    Nice stuff on your blog.

     
  • At 10:28 AM, Blogger kishke said…

    That's one way to look at it. Another way is that they have created a society in which limud haTorah is the paramount value, and in which people are willing to sacrifice for lives that revolve entirely and purely around Torah.

    Yes, those who devote themselves to this life are foregoing luxury and often accepting poverty as their portion. That is their right, and to my mind, they are to be praised, not vilified. Giving them tzedkah, in addition to the mitzvah of tzedakah, is an opportunity for us to gain some small chelek in their sacrifice. It's not something to complain about.

    I agree that the system could use some fixing and tweaking, so that those who are not truly devoted to Torah can have other options. But had the gedolim not set up this system 40 years ago, there would be no Torah in klal Yisrael today, chas v'sholom.

     
  • At 11:14 AM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    kishke

    A system that sentences its adherents to a life of bitterness (their words, not mine), is a system that is broken. A system that is designed to rely on the charity of others so that batei midrashot can be filled with men who are not qualified to be there is a system that is broken.

    Devoting one's life to Torah is a great ideal. Taking care of your family while being koveiah itim is an even greater ideal.

     
  • At 11:47 AM, Blogger Still Wonderin' said…

    "That's one way to look at it. Another way is that they have created a society in which limud haTorah is the paramount value, and in which people are willing to sacrifice for lives that revolve entirely and purely around Torah."

    Bull. Shit.

     
  • At 12:03 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    Can we please watch our language? Thank you.

     
  • At 12:23 PM, Blogger kishke said…

    MOC:

    As I said, I agree that the system needs fixing; I think the Nachal Hachareidi is a step in the right direction, and there is plenty more that can be done. But it is a fact that one who chooses to devote himself entirely to Torah will generally not have much parnassah and will often have to come on to others to survive. Think of it as giving maaser to the Leviim (which is actually the Rambam's comparison). The Leviim lived within a system in which they were sustained by the donations of others. Allowing klal Yisrael a portion in supporting the true ovdei Hashem is a good thing not a bad thing. Your argument is that there are many who are not really with the program but are forced to be part of it b/c of societal pressures. In that, I agree with you, and I think the Israeli model should be changed to one that moves closer to the American model, in which there is no shame in taking a job to support your family.

    SW: I return the sentiment.

     
  • At 3:30 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    kishke

    The leviim were 1/12 of the population. If only 1/12 of the chareidi community would be in kollel (for more than a few years), the system would work.

    The system is just as broken in many communities in America were you can't get a shidduch if you work.

     
  • At 4:02 PM, Blogger Still Wonderin' said…

    "Can we please watch our language? Thank you."

    "SW: I return the sentiment."


    Sometimes,the unvarnished truth just needs to be said.

     
  • At 4:54 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    SW

    The truth can be said in many ways.

     
  • At 8:35 PM, Blogger kishke said…

    SW: Unvarnished it is; the truth it isn't.

    MOC: As I said, I happen to agree that long-term kollel should be downsized. But who says the 1/12, if indeed that is the correct ratio, should be limited to the chareidi population. All Jews should support the true mevakshei Hashem.

    Also, the Rambam's point is that anyone who is "nadvah rucho" to join Shevet Levi in pure avodas Hashem may do so, and can rely on Hashem for his parnassa. He places no limit on the numbers.

     
  • At 8:38 PM, Blogger kishke said…

    "The system is just as broken in many communities in America were you can't get a shidduch if you work."

    It is very far from being "just as broken," and I'm writing from Lakewood, which of course is the center of American kollel life. There are many, many young men here who spent a couple of years in kollel, and are now working. It is really very common and generally not looked down upon, except by a few misguided fanatics.

     
  • At 9:03 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    I am not suggesting 1/12 is the right ratio. I don't suggest that I know what the right number is. All I know is that the right number isn't what it is today. I concede that it isn't as bad in the US but there are still many things that are out of control. The absolute ban on the internet, for example, is a fantasy-land reaction to reality. Within a few short years, having access to the internet will be like having access to a phone. We can deny that or deal with it.

     
  • At 9:25 PM, Blogger kishke said…

    "The absolute ban on the internet, for example, is a fantasy-land reaction to reality."

    With you on that all the way. But it's not really pertinent to the issue of kollel.

     
  • At 10:21 PM, Blogger Still Wonderin' said…

    But had the gedolim not set up this system 40 years ago, there would be no Torah in klal Yisrael today, chas v'sholom."

    SW: Unvarnished it is; the truth it isn't.


    Sure. Convince yourself. If it makes you and your mindless leaders feel improtant. Talk about untruth ...

    There was a vibrant, flourishing American Jewish community 40 years ago. It was comprised of upstanding, honest, hard-working, respectable, and eminently religiously observant Orthodox Jews. Jews that worked a lot harder to stay religious than the shtetl peasants who were yet to appear.

    Yet, somehow, a nation of refugees arrived in America after WWII to let American Jewry know that without them, they would amount to nothing.

    Take your chauvenistic claptrap and tell it to someone who agrees with you that American Jewry began in 1946.

    American Jewry was doing just fine without the brilliant idea of promoting dependancy and fantasy as religious precepts.

     
  • At 11:45 PM, Blogger kishke said…

    Don't lecture me about how vibrant American Judaism was pre-war; my family is here for well over a hundred years, and I know the truth of things.

    My grandmother was raised in an "out-of-town" community with a huge Jewish population numbering in the tens of thousands. She told me that there was barely a minyan of shomrei Shabbos in the city.

    The "vibrant" Judaism you're blathering on about was in the process of losing almost all their youth to assimilation. The millions of Jews who had immigrated in the early 1900s mostly failed to pass on their values to their children. Had it not been for such movements as Young Israel and Agudah, which were inspired by the gedolim you mock, there would have been nothing left.

    The pre-WWII Orthodox American communities no longer exist. The elders passed on and their descendants assimilated. At best they became Reform or Conservative; they certainly did not remain Orthodox. They may be hard-working, but they are not frum. This is fact, and no amount of your angry posturing can change it.

    The influx of frum Jews post-war and the yeshivos and chadorim they brought with them were the direct cause of the success of Orthodoxy and Torah in America.

     
  • At 8:01 AM, Blogger Still Wonderin' said…

    I'm glad to hear that you are the product of frum people who lived in the US since the turn of the century.

    As a matter of fact, I am, too. I'm a fifth generation American, the product of a family that founded two shul, both still in existence, and was intrumental in the establishment of a yeshiva, also still in existence.

    The Young Israel movement, RIETS, Torah Vodaath, Chaim Berlin, Orthodox Union, Agudas Ha-Rabonim, and a host of other pre-war institutions were vibrant and effective; hardly dying entities in need of santimonious critics and revisionists.

    The Rabbonim who founded these organizations were from Europe -- who wasn't? -- but these were native American creations that, consistent with my point, existed and flourished before the kollel set arrived. For goodness sake, YU was started by European rabbis; Rav Soloveitchik was hired by the Agudas-Harabonim

    Furthermore, the stock of Orthodox Jews in pre-war United States were hearty and wholly committed to the continuance and solidification of American Orthodoxy. They didn't need to be bullied and manipulated into observance. It was germane to their being.

    They had forged a unique Americanized Judaism that melded the civic reponsibilities of education, activism, observance, and self-sufficiency; not necessarily in that order.

    Such Jews were found, if not in quantity then certainly of quality, from one shore of the US to the other.

    The lionization of a generation of Jews eager to tamp down these accomplishments with their halcyon recollections of Euorope is a calculated fiction and offensive to descendant Orthodox Jews of pre-war America, of which there exist quite a few.

     
  • At 10:11 AM, Blogger kishke said…

    This is not going to work. You want to ignore the millions of immigrant Jews who went from observance to non-observance to assimilation in two or three generations. Sorry, you can't pretend this didn't happen. It did. And notwithstanding the fine institutions that existed pre-war (many of which gave allegiance to the European ideal), it continued happening until the post-war influx. Only then did American Orthodoxy - slowly, slowly - begin to hold its own against the alien currents it faced, and even then, it was another 25 years before it could be deemed healthy. Again, these are facts. Only by denying them can you deny the salutary effect of the post-war Jews on American Orthodoxy.

     
  • At 10:16 AM, Blogger kishke said…

    Let me add that I too am unhappy about much of the kanoish fanaticism that passes for frumkeit today among many. I too yearn for a remembered time when yidden were not so fixated on outward appearance, and when the Americanism in a frum American Jew was recognizable as such, and when yeshivaleit were less frightened of every outside influence, and when people were more accepting and kinder and less judgemental. But I will not let the negative aspects of our experience blind me to the huge positive things we have gained.

     
  • At 10:24 AM, Blogger Still Wonderin' said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

     
  • At 10:28 AM, Blogger Still Wonderin' said…

    Who in the world is denying facts? There was a reason all the organizations I referred to in my earlier post were organized. They shared a concrete concern about rampant assimilation.

    Why else would organizations like Torah Umesorah have been established (which it was in 1944, by a visionary American educator of European origin)?

    But this is not my point. I resent, object, and laugh at your assertion that American Orthodoxy would have evaporated if not for the corruption- and dependancy-condoning populations that established themselves in Lakewood and Brooklyn after the war.

    It simply is not true and propogating these myths only serves to conveniently dismiss and disregard the tremendous sacrifices and advances of pre-war American Jewry -- that which made ALL of the arrogant posturing of post-war kollel proponents a possibility to begin with.

    Without the infrastructure pre-war American Jews created, there would be no American Orthodoxy today. Just pockets of dependant isolationists cowering in fear of the next Holocaust.

     
  • At 10:34 AM, Blogger Still Wonderin' said…

    But I will not let the negative aspects of our experience blind me to the huge positive things we have gained.

    If these gains were simply a means to reach the insideous, damaging, and decadent ends that you just described, then what was the point? The whole concept of American frumkeit has been tainted by the so-called Chareidi elite.

    I'd even go as far as to say that if not for them, American Orthodoxy would be far more vibrant and Orthodox.

    Those who champion a lifestyle of dependancy, social manipulation, and skin-deep frumkeit thoroughly taint the achievements of the American pre-war pioneers who fought tooth and nail to create a Jewish America that stood for religious sincerity, freedom, and intellectual honesty.

     
  • At 1:02 PM, Blogger kishke said…

    "I resent, object, and laugh at your assertion that American Orthodoxy would have evaporated"

    I don't resent your stance, but I find it equally laughable. It's not a question of "would have"; it was already happening and had been for years.

    As for the downside I pointed out, these people are not the core of American Orthodoxy; they are the fringe people. They have more power than they once did, but as people become more aware of what is happening, their power is sure to decrease.

    And besides, these views are not an outgrowth of normative yeshivishe Orthodoxy, they are an import of Israel haredism, and of chasidism.

     
  • At 2:10 PM, Blogger Still Wonderin' said…

    As for the downside I pointed out, these people are not the core of American Orthodoxy; they are the fringe people. They have more power than they once did, but as people become more aware of what is happening, their power is sure to decrease.

    This is no less specious than muslims who claim that the radicals are a fringe element. It's simply not true and furthermore serves to mask the real danger of their ideology. Not to compare arabs to Jews, god forbid, but the sociological precedent is clear that radicals beget more radicals. It will not diminish if left unchallenged.

    And besides, these views are not an outgrowth of normative yeshivishe Orthodoxy, they are an import of Israel haredism, and of chasidism.

    They may not be an outgrowth, but your so-called 'normative' yeshivishe Orthodoxy, due to it's inherent lack of substance and intellectual honesty, has long ago been enveloped and redefined by this radical Israeli import of Israeli haredism and chassidism.

    It's easier to take than to give. And this mentality has transformed frumkeit and limud hatorah into a rabbinically ordained Ponzi Scheme that will soon swallow all of Orthodoxy alive.

     
  • At 6:34 PM, Blogger kishke said…

    It appears to me that you're not saying anything you haven't said already, and I've pretty much made my points as well. So although I disagree with you strongly, I'm going to call it quits now.

     
  • At 8:22 PM, Blogger Still Wonderin' said…

    "It appears to me that you're not saying anything you haven't said already, and I've pretty much made my points as well. So although I disagree with you strongly, I'm going to call it quits now."

    Thank you for proving my point: the basis of the kollel club rests on the erroneous insistence that some Jews are simply better than others because and only because that's how their leadership has chosen to interpret recent, otherwise verifiable history.

     
  • At 11:50 PM, Blogger kishke said…

    I don't know how you read that into my comment, but if it makes you happy, it's fine with me.

     
  • At 1:03 AM, Blogger Jack's Shack said…

    The system is going to collapse.

     
  • At 8:51 AM, Blogger Still Wonderin' said…

    "I don't know how you read that into my comment, but if it makes you happy, it's fine with me."

    Actually, I didn't have to read anything in. You said it yourself:

    agree that the system could use some fixing and tweaking, so that those who are not truly devoted to Torah can have other options. But had the gedolim not set up this system 40 years ago, there would be no Torah in klal Yisrael today, chas v'sholom.

    That is their right, and to my mind, they are to be praised, not vilified. Giving them tzedkah, in addition to the mitzvah of tzedakah, is an opportunity for us to gain some small chelek in their sacrifice. It's not something to complain about.

     
  • At 11:10 AM, Blogger kishke said…

    That has nothing to do with this:

    "that some Jews are simply better than others because and only because that's how their leadership has chosen to interpret recent, otherwise verifiable history."

    Except in your overwrought imagination.

     
  • At 12:12 PM, Blogger Still Wonderin' said…

    I know you are, but what am I?

     

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