MOChassid

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

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

On Being Normal

It seems to me that the main avodah of an Orthodox Jewish parent is to raise normal children. This is easier said than done.

If you are a halachic MO, it is very challenging to walk the fine line of modernity while still raising a G-d-fearing child. The influences of popular culture are so base and unrefined these days that trying to straddle that line becomes increasingly more difficult.

On the other hand, the Chareidi world has largely lost its way. With their race to Chumrahland, they are missing the forest for the trees. There is little spirituality; just rote observance. With their emphasis on learning full-time over work (whether one has the kishronos or not), they are creating an unsustainable paradigm that will one day soon blow up.

So what's the answer?

There are no easy answers. There are certainly no easy communal answers. AInstead, a parent has to worry about his or her own children. A parent has to guide his or her child through the minefield of this way of life, maintaining an environment of reasonableness and normality. One must make careful choices about where to send children to school and camp, and how to behave at home, at work and at shul.

And, at the end of the day, one must daven for siyata d'Shmayah.

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46 Comments:

  • At 12:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We need to really understand each child, because there are so many possible school/career/community paths and one size does not fit all. But parents can only belong to one local community at a time! Unless we are willing to have community members look at us funny, our options for our boys and girls are limited by the range of choices our community will tolerate. In fact, if the needs of any or all of a family's kids are too out of synch with the community's ways, the family may have to move. Another consideration is that a community that is ideal in all other respects may be unaffordable for a particular family.

     
  • At 1:21 PM, Blogger rescue37 said…

    The camp issue doesn't look to me to be a frumkeit/chumrah issue. It is the same as guys who go through a phase of how long they can wear shorts in the winter or similar types of dress and "fashion" phases most adolences go through. It is also near to impossible to raise normal children in the NYC metro area. There is to much narishkeit from all sides (frum and goyish)

     
  • At 1:30 PM, Blogger A Simple Jew said…

    What is your definition of normal? Is it a person who can function with ease in both religious and secular worlds?

     
  • At 2:27 PM, Anonymous J said…

    Assuming you've got the normal thing right (which I think you do), just wondering what your thoughts are on a situation that psychologically for a specific child to be normal he or she may not be able to stay as involved in the Jewish community to the same extent you and your community are.

    Would you encourage that? Or encourage the child to stay in the community no matter the psychological cost.

     
  • At 2:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I just love it - a halachic MO. I guess moc is suggesting there are non-halachic MO.

     
  • At 2:41 PM, Blogger kishke said…

    On the other hand, the Chareidi world has largely lost its way. With their race to Chumrahland, they are missing the forest for the trees. There is little spirituality; just rote observance.

    You paint with an awfully wide brush. I'm sure you know some charedim, but let's face it, you're not exactly in a charedi center, and thus not in a position to judge for yourself. Almost everyone I know is charedi, and I have news for you, they are not missing the forest for the trees. Your argument is the old, worn-out argument for chassidus that was made in the time of the Gra. It's an open question as to whether it applied then, but it certainly doesn't apply now, at least not to the broad swaths of the population as you imagine.

     
  • At 2:56 PM, Blogger kishke said…

    I should mention that this is also the argument made by non-religious Jews against the Orthodox in general and the charedim in particular. It's a load of hooey.

     
  • At 3:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    MoC,

    I am getting sick of seeing the term "halachik MO" - what on earth does that mean? Is it really different than a yeshivish guy who lives in Monsey/Brooklyn, learns as much as possible, is scrupulous in halacha (including in business), is makpid on ben adam l'chavero and teaches his kids all of the above? The only difference is that you may ask your sheilos to R' Willig or R' Schachter and he may ask it to R __ (fill in the blank) Usually with the same answer. yes - culturally there are some differences - I am not naive. But this whole halchik MO line cracks me up because it is a total fiction - you may be halchik MO but where do your kids go to school? Eotehr to an MO school or a more yeshivish school - tehre is no "halachik MO" school/camp.

    My husband is a rav in an MO shul in a very mixed town (MO, yeshivish, chasidish) - halachik MO in and of itself does not exist. Those kids either go to schools way more to the left or way more to the right.

     
  • At 3:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Moc is an equal opportunity offender as he's offended both the modern orthodox and charedim.

     
  • At 3:46 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    Kishke

    Upon re-reading my post, I should have been more clear. I agree that large segments of the chareidi community do 'get it'. I think it is their leadership that is, with a number of exceptions, lost. The lack of real leadership is the cause of most of the problems.

     
  • At 3:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Don't you get it Anon 3:38? He recognizes he's not at the level of charedim, but he needs to be on a higher level than someone. Hence, the fictional halachic mo.

     
  • At 3:51 PM, Anonymous Anon1 said…

    Or is he splitting the difference?

     
  • At 4:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    While you're at it, you might as well add that a major disconnect between the leadership and masses also exists in the mo world.

     
  • At 4:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yes, I (anon 3:38) get it - but I am sick of hearing the line as it does not translate into reality as a community (may be true for individuals). Getting harder and harder to talk about something that doesn't really exist. AND in many people's mind it is a reality and they truly believe that it exists, i.e. - that having a TV in one's home is "halachik".

     
  • At 4:57 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    How would you describe a woman who, for example, covers her hair completely, dresses very tznius, davens three times a day, is scrupulous in business and bein adam l'chaveiro, never utters a word of lashon harah but sends her kids to HALB and YU?

    Of course it's very similar to a 'modern' yeshivish but modern yeshivish face the same issues of maintaining normality. what's your point?.

     
  • At 5:09 PM, Blogger Shira Salamone said…

    "I just love it - a halachic MO. I guess moc is suggesting there are non-halachic MO." This reminds me of a discussion I had with the (black-hat) rabbi of my Conservative) synagogue that I blogged about ages ago. When I told him that I thought the definition of an Orthodox Jew was one who was Shomer Mitzvot (a person who observes all the commandments) in accordance with the Orthodox interpretation of halachah (Jewish religious law), he looked at me as if I had two heads. Good grief, if that's *not* the definition of an Orthodox Jew, what is?

    "Unless we are willing to have community members look at us funny, our options for our boys and girls are limited by the range of choices our community will tolerate." I can think of one or two J-bloggers who are clearly living in communities that don't match their hashkafah (religious perspective). If that's tough on the parents, imagine how tough it is on the kids? What's it like to be one of two or three Modern Orthodox girls in a Bais Yaakov (chareidi ["fervently" Orthodox]) school, with (Orthodox) parents both of whom are college graduates who--gasp!--work for a living? What's it like to have your iPod confiscated because your school is opposed to secular music and can't tell what you're listening to when you're using earbuds, and to know that you could be expelled from yeshiva if you take a girl out for a Coke, when your (Orthodox) parents met at a rock concert?

     
  • At 5:24 PM, Blogger kishke said…

    I guess moc is suggesting there are non-halachic MO.

    Of course there are non-halachic MO. They're the ones who eat kosher and keep Shabbos, but are kissing each other's wives outside shul, and whose wives and daughters dress like for the beach.

     
  • At 5:36 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    Let me try to clarify

    When it comes to trying to maintain a semblance of normality, I agree that the same challenges that apply to halachic MOs apply to many mainstream Yeshivish types. To wit, avoiding as much as possible the dysfunctional popular culture while continuing to function in the secular world and not falling (or having your children fall) into the Chumrah trap (and having work looked at as a b'dieved).

     
  • At 5:47 PM, Blogger rescue37 said…

    It seems to me that halchik mo and the new Israeli subset of CHARDAL are the same. From my understanding chardal came aout because the Rav Kook yeshiva graduates felt that they had different practices then the regular Dati crowd and wanted to show themselves has being different with a stronger adherence to halacha.

     
  • At 5:56 PM, Blogger kishke said…

    I think the R' Kookniks are way frummer than the "halachic MO." They are basically yeshivishe Zionists.

     
  • At 9:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    MoC,

    Anon 3:39 here - Interesting question about what to call the frum woman who sends to HALB. In the shidduch scene it was always "frum YU" and from what I still know it is still the term. It's a big problem - there are not enough people like that to really make up their own school.

    What I find interesting is that most likely the children of that woman will likely (not 100% but very likely) send to a more right wing schools and camps to avoid all of the issues in a more MO place (of course then substituting it with a new set of problems). I see it with myself and the majrity o fmy friends who grew up MO and stradle between frum YU (or MO halachik) and yeshivish.

     
  • At 12:26 AM, Blogger Ezzie said…

    Well, I got what you were trying to say, and Amen. Good post, MoC.

     
  • At 8:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just read this weeks article in the Jewish Star (5 Towns local paper)by Chananya Weissman, it says it all. Nuff said!

     
  • At 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "How would you describe a woman who, for example, covers her hair completely, dresses very tznius, davens three times a day, is scrupulous in business and bein adam l'chaveiro, never utters a word of lashon harah but sends her kids to HALB and YU?"


    Answer - Modern Orthodox

    How would you describe a woman who doesn't cover her hair, wears jeans, doesn't daven three times a day(z'man grama) is srupulous in business and bein adam lchaveiro, never utters a word of lashon hara but sends her kids to HAFTR, YU or Barnard?

    Answer - Modern Orthodox

    Both women are ardent Zionists who stay at the Inbal not the Plaza when visiting Israel, belong to Amit or Emunah, attend a Young Israel, send their kids to Camp Moshava, Lavi or Morasha, have television sets in their home, attend R rated movies, socialize almost exclusively with other women who went to the same moder orthodox high schools as them and who both cover and don't cover their hair, don't like the secular education provided in rightwing yeshivas, visit the internet and permit their children to as well, go to the beach, oppose the shidduch scene, send their post high school kids to learn at KBY, Reishit or Gush, trust the kashrus of the OU, eat non-yashon products, allow their daughters to play little league baseball etc.....

    Stop creating this false divide.

     
  • At 9:45 AM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    anon 9:17

    Simply not true

     
  • At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That's a very poor response. What isn't true?

     
  • At 10:22 AM, Anonymous sam said…

    'trust the kashrus of the OU, eat non-yashon products, '

    Huh?

     
  • At 10:52 AM, Anonymous Jerry said…

    With deference to MoC, Anon 9:17 is right on the ball.

    Do we create separate categories for an UO kid from Brooklyn who spends his entire day learning in Yeshiva and a kid from Lakewood who is in the same Yeshiva, but spends the day smoking outside?

    What if that kid goes to strip clubs at night (not unknown or even so uncommon)?

    Neither of them would ever dream of going to college or supporting an institution as treif as Zionism.

    They can both be considered UO, one is simply better at it.

    In anon's case, do you really think there are serious hashkafic differences between these women? No- one is imply better at living according to her haskafa, and one needs to work on it (not at all insinuating that not covering your hair, wearing jeans or davening 3 times a day are by any stretch set in stone as what the halakha requires- but that's a separate issue).

    If this woman subscribed to a different school of thought, (picture YCT, or something of the type) and for that reason, with a basis in that hashkafa, her observance is more lax, then we can define them differently.

    They think the same. One is just frummer.

    That's why a comparison between the UO world and the MO world in terms of who is frummer is simply meaningless. I guarantee that RAL is far and away frummer than most people in the UO world, even if he went to college (PhD) and doesn't have a beard.

    And aside from individuals within the worlds, there is a difference between different rites of observance. The UO world chooses to focus on certain aspects of the religion (i.e. tzniyus, learning torah) while the MO world [as a whole- individuals will definitely have exceptions as above] seems to do better when it comes to tzedaka, dina d'malchuta dina, and general bein adam l'chaveiro issues (i.e. not throwing rocks at other people).

    Whatever you think about these focuses, that's probably the group you associate with. Then once you're there, you try to do the best you can to be the best Jew you can.

    At least I do.

     
  • At 11:24 AM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    anon 9:17 and jerry

    I am not the one who started with labels. Labelling people is not my point at all. My point is very simple. If you are a serious G-d fearing Jew, and you want your children to be serious, G-d fearing Jews, you have your work cut out for you. I happen to consider myself somewhere along the MO spectrum. But as others have pointed out, it doesn't matter what you call yourself, it's what you want for your family. It is very hard to exist in this world with the influences from popular culture on one side and the smallness of much of the observant world's leadership on the other. Talking about labels is off the point and I shouldn't even have gone there.

     
  • At 1:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    While I understood and basically agreed with the main focus of your post, your utilization of the term "halachic mo" irked me. Your stubborn yet weak defense of the term continues to irk me. The similarities in practice are far greater than the limited number of differnces.

    Your creation of this elite category of mo Jew crumbles when you examine the "big" picture. It's merely a juvenile attempt at satiating your unfulfilled religious ego.

    Quite sad.

     
  • At 2:39 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    anon 1:19

    I'm sorry if I'm irking you. I frequently irk people of all types.

    The point I was making really has nothing to do with what category you fall into (or whether the category even exixts). If you think about it, Chareidim who are simply trying to be yirei Hashem without shtick probably have it harder than MOs. Much of their lives is dictated by the Chareidi establishment which has run amuck. There are real consequences to their failure to tow the chumrah line.

    As far as my unfulfilled religious ego? Who are you, Sigmund Freud? I don't even know what that means.

     
  • At 3:38 PM, Blogger Anonymous said…

    Go to http://alleywaystotorah.blogspot.com/search?q=Why+I+Am+Not+Charedi

    and scroll down for some interesting posts on "Labeling"

     
  • At 3:51 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    anon 3:38

    Thanks. What he said.

    It happens that my daughter, OOD, is a big fan of the holy Reb Alley.

     
  • At 6:06 PM, Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said…

    is "non-halakhic MO" another way of saying "MO-lite"?

     
  • At 9:01 PM, Blogger Ezzie said…

    Gotta love R' Ally. :) (He's my cousin.)

    I love that you can spend a Shabbos there, non-stop laughing, yet still be learning a ton without even realizing it. Plus, waking up in the Old City to his 4&5 year olds rattling off Toldos while they play with their cars... priceless.

     
  • At 9:01 AM, Anonymous sam said…

    My guess is that Halakhic MO is a more correct and updated term for 'YU Machmir' which implies that the halakhos that the RW MO are careful about are chumros when they are in fact halakhos and not chumros.
    If you want examples, I would say, mixed swimming which is an Issur Torah (Vlo Sasuru), and touching the opposite sex Bderekh Chibah, which is also assur, either min Hatorah or midrabbanan. I love that term 'I'm not Shomer Negiah' which makes it sound like it's on the same level as eating gebrochts on Pesach, when it's more like saying 'I'm frum, but not Shomer Shabbos'. Yeah, that makes sense.

    In general, among some people there seems to be a serious level of am haaratzus regarding the severity of intentionally disregarding Rabbinical prohibitions that are brought down in the Shulchan Arukh as accepted halakhah. Besides the fact that disregarding any Rabbinic prohibition intentionally is automatically a Torah level prohibition (V'lo sasur min hadavar aser yagid lecho), it seems from the gemara that on some level it is actually worse.

    PS, I am what you would call an MO, so don't bring in the alleged wrongdoings of other groups. I am not interested as that is irrelevant to this discussion.

     
  • At 11:30 AM, Blogger Shira Salamone said…

    Concerning the terms “halachic Modern Orthodox” and “MO lite,” is philosophical vs. cultural Modern Orthodox what you mean?

     
  • At 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "In general, among some people there seems to be a serious level of am haaratzus regarding the severity of intentionally disregarding Rabbinical prohibitions that are brought down in the Shulchan Arukh as accepted halakhah."

    What is this guy talking about.

     
  • At 12:46 PM, Anonymous sam said…

    'What is this guy talking about. '

    Read the post.
    I'll add to my list single women going to the mikveh in order to have sex.

     
  • At 2:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sorry to burst your bubble Sam, but all of the halachic mo who I know are mixed swimmers. Also, the laxity of shomer negiah exists to the same extent in both the modern and charedi worlds.

     
  • At 2:14 PM, Blogger kishke said…

    Also, the laxity of shomer negiah exists to the same extent in both the modern and charedi worlds.

    Utter hogwash.

     
  • At 3:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Believe what you wish kishke, but the very same problems(excessive alcohol consumption, gambling and infidelity for example)exist in BOTH communities, to the same degree. The only difference concerning shomer negiah is the laxity in the charedi community is more discreet.

     
  • At 3:10 PM, Anonymous Jerry said…

    > "In general, among some people there seems to be a serious level of am haaratzus regarding the severity of intentionally disregarding Rabbinical prohibitions that are brought down in the Shulchan Arukh as accepted halakhah. Besides the fact that disregarding any Rabbinic prohibition intentionally is automatically a Torah level prohibition (V'lo sasur min hadavar aser yagid lecho), it seems from the gemara that on some level it is actually worse."


    There is definitely a serious level of am haaratzus going on...

     
  • At 4:28 PM, Anonymous sam said…

    'The only difference concerning shomer negiah is the laxity in the charedi community is more discreet. '

    If it's so discreet, I wonder how you are so privy to it.

    But besides that you are totally missing my point. A person can do it, but it does not mean he is distorting the torah by doing it. He is just giving in to his yetzer harah. As opposed to someone who says there is nothing wrong with it. That is a distortion of the Torah.

    Jerry,
    care to elaborate?

     
  • At 10:06 AM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    You are all off topic.

     
  • At 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "If it's so discreet, I wonder how you are so privy to it."

    Do you live in or near Flatbush? Check out some of the pizza parlors or eateries on a Motzei Shabbos, after 2am.

     

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