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

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Music Ban

With all due respect, maybe the Gedolim should concentrate their bully pulpits on the rampant institutional poverty of their systems rather than on this.



  • At 11:09 AM, Blogger kishke said…

    I love this line from the article: "There are no genuine halachic grounds to justify draft evasion."

    Right. Some of the greatest gedolim of the century, including the Chazon Ish, forbade conscription for yeshivaleit, but Isi Liebler knows better.

    As for the music, maybe they just don't like shiny-shoe singers, like you.

  • At 11:54 AM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    I agree that perhaps Isi Leibler shouldn't be paskening but you have to admit that the article is otherwise spot on.

    If Aron Razel weren't playing I would also call for a ban.

  • At 12:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "There are no genuine halachic grounds to justify draft evasion."

    I was with him mostly until he said that. Maybe if people wouldn't be so extreme in either direction, we could come to some kind of middle ground. But this just causes the people he is trying to reach to tune him out. Ironically, just like people tune out kanoim.

  • At 1:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Is OOS joining the army or is he also "celebrity draft-dodging"? - just checking.

  • At 1:15 PM, Blogger kishke said…

    It's not spot on, b/c he does not tell the truth about why the yeshivos are against conscription for their students. One of the major reasons for opposition is that part of the Zionist project is and always has been the uprooting of Torah values, to attain their goal of נהיה ככל הגוים בית ישראל. The army has served as an instrument toward this end. It is and always has been aggressively anti-religious. The gedolim were and are rightfully afraid of what will be done to the religosity of bochurim in the army.

    This is quite apart from the otehr major reason, which is that if everyone went to the army, it would ch"v deal a death blow to limud haTorah in Eretz Yisrael, which is at least as important to the defense of the nation as is an army.

    I did not see any of this in his article.

  • At 2:43 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    Anonymous 1:05

    Nice of you to be concerned about OOS. OOS registered with the draft board earlier this summer but was not drafted because he has two children. He worked last year with shut-ins for Yad Sarah and is working at a clinic in Neve this year. Is that acceptable to your standards?

    I'm curious: Do you live in Israel?

    Kiske: If the gedolim wanted to address the issue they could. Nahal Chareidi, for example. The bottom line: what about the institutionalized poverty? What about the thousands of men who simply don't belong in kollel?

  • At 4:09 PM, Blogger kishke said…

    I certainly agree that something should be done, and indeed, Nahal HaCharedi is a step in the right direction, and was implemented only b/c of the support of R' Shteinman, who took tremendous flak for his stance, as he did for supporting the Tal Law, which is another important step in the right direction.

    But no one is well-served when the real and quite valid reasons for the ban on oonscription are ignored or glossed over, as they were in Liebler's article.

    The poverty is an unfortunate consequence of a lifestyle that has many wonderful things to reccomend it. Who says those benefits will remain if the kind of changes you support are implemented? Which is not to say I don't agree with you, only that much hangs in the balance.

    Finally, broad societal change is really easy to recommend, but very difficult to achieve, so maybe you should be less free with your criticism.

  • At 5:33 PM, Blogger PsycleSteve said…

    Can someone please explain to me exactly what the halachic ban against conscription is, why it appplies today, and why a halachically acceptable solution cannot be reached. Also please explain, if possible, why the rebbeim of the hesder yeshivot, along with their thousands of students seem to be totally ignorant of this ban, and flount their ignorance daily while risking their lives to protect those tzaddikim who scrupulously follow the ban.

  • At 6:19 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…


    Perhaps I should not have been so cynical. I despair over a situation that is clearly untenable. I don't have any easy solutions but I know the status quo is a trainwreck waiting to happen.

  • At 7:01 PM, Blogger kishke said…


    I used the term "ban" loosely. I'm talking about the exemption of yeshivaleit from the army. (It's not draft evasion, contrary to Liebler's insinuations.) At the founding of the state, the leading gedolim, led by the Chazon Ish, insisted on the exemption, and Ben Gurion agreed. I discussed their reasons in my earlier comments.

    The frum Zionists (MO, Kookniks, whatever) never joined in this action, b/c their creed encourages participation in the army. Which is why there are hesder yeshivos.

  • At 8:02 PM, Blogger PsycleSteve said…

    Since there seems to be no ouright halachic ban, it seems to fall under the category of one's "shittah". Therefore the comment
    "There are no genuine halachic grounds to justify draft evasion."
    is not exactly "extreme".
    Personally, my numerous lifetime friendships and encounters with graduates of hesder yeshivot have revealed them to be some of the most "together" people I have met on this planet.

  • At 9:13 PM, Blogger kishke said…

    The Chazon Ish and the other greats insisted on the exemption b/c he held it was assur. That's all the halachah I need.

    The "togetherness" of hesder guys is neither here nor there.

  • At 9:24 PM, Blogger PsycleSteve said…

    I am not aware of all the "facts" surrounding this "issur". Any sources? Was it based on circumstances at the time or will this "issur" conveniently be in effect until "tishbi's" time?

    I certainly hope that those who are so machmir on this issue extend the same zeal towards other "issurim". Maybe the army in Israel should hang out at chassidic concerts, immediately conscripting those who fail to heed that "ban".

  • At 10:31 PM, Blogger kishke said…

    or will this "issur" conveniently be in effect until "tishbi's" time?

    "Conveniently" says it all in terms of your bias. The great Chazon Ish, zichrono l'vrachah, did not have a dishonest bone in his body, and you are a mechutzaf for suggesting otherwise.

  • At 11:12 PM, Blogger PsycleSteve said…

    No clue what you're talking about. "Conveniently" has nothing to do with the Chazon Ish, rather it refers to those people who use his psak, which may or may not have been given under a specific set of conditions for a specific time (I politely requested some clarification, but received none)as a permanent, convenient public service exemption. Hard to believe that all the halachot related to war in the Mishne Torah don't apply on a permanent basis to anybody who decides to learn in Yeshiva.

    Since you seem to know my "bias" so well, please convey it to me. After all these years I still haven't been able to formulate one and would appreciate your insight. I've always felt that my bias was searching for the truth, not simply picking the desired outcome and subsequently searching for halachic support - but I may have been mistaken.
    Love Always,

    PS MoC your probably wondering why I've gotten involved in one of these inane endless arguments that you know I hate so much. Simply stuck at work fixing a computer problem (which is taking a while to run). The Tour is over, and I have nothing to say about Barney or Uncle Moishy (even though he played at my son's upsherin - no, not Barney). Considering the response, it won't happen again!

  • At 11:14 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…


    You are always welcome to opine; even on Barney and Uncle Mo. How's the training going? I'm actually doing pretty well under the circumstances.

  • At 11:20 PM, Blogger PsycleSteve said…

    Whoa! Do I smell a new Challenge Rider!!!!

  • At 11:59 PM, Blogger kishke said…

    "Hard to believe that all the halachot related to war in the Mishne Torah ..."

    What's hard to believe about it? Is there a Sanhedrin today? A Kohen Gadol? Etc.

    "Convenient" implies that the issues are not real, but are just an excuse to avoid dangerous service. But they are real, as much today as 60 years ago.

    The bias appears to be against yeshiva bochurim, who you believe unjustly avoid army service.

    And the clarification you requested is in my earlier comments, as I already wrote.

  • At 8:37 AM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    No way Steve.

    My market is going crazy. My normally easy August is going to be much more difficult than usual and September and October are my busiest months. Not happening.

  • At 9:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Your "With all due respect" doesn't look too kosher here. There seems to be a blatant lack of respect.

  • At 10:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Residents of the diaspora have no business discussing anything related to Israeli military service.

  • At 10:37 AM, Blogger kishke said…

    Residents of the diaspora have no business discussing anything related to Israeli military service.

    Why not?

  • At 1:54 PM, Blogger Chaim said…


    Are we all doomed?

  • At 2:41 PM, Blogger PsycleSteve said…


    IMHO yes, we are. The world hates us as much as ever, our internal divisiveness is as bad as ever, our corruption level is sky high, and our enemies will inevitably possess weapons of mass destruction. You do the math...

  • At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oy. Does that response at least come with a cup of hot chocolate? Thats how your supposed to break bad news,no?

  • At 4:20 PM, Blogger PsycleSteve said…

    I get on my bike and pedal my way to oblivion...

  • At 6:14 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    I already agreed that I was too glib. Point taken.

    To me, this isn't even an issue of military service. It is an issue of a system that by design produces poverty and pressure. That is designed that perpetual learning without working is the ideal. That keeps men in kollel even though they have absolutely no business being there and that, consequently, makes it impossible for the truly great talmidei chachamim to learn with yishuv hadaas.

  • At 7:17 PM, Blogger kishke said…

    and that, consequently, makes it impossible for the truly great talmidei chachamim to learn with yishuv hadaas.

    I assume you mean that if only the truly greats were learning, we would support them royally. I'm not so sure you're right. What might happen if everyone worked and few learned is that learning would lose chashivus, and talmidei chachamim would be looked on as useless "bank-kvetchers," much as they were in Europe before the war.

    Poverty ahin, poverty aher, you cannot deny that the present system has raised the chashivus of limud haTorah and bnei Torah to unprecedented heights.

    And what about the Gemaras that speak of the chashivus of limud haTorah mitoch hadchak? Doesn't that imply that to an extent, aniyus is built into the system, and might even be beneficial.

  • At 8:02 PM, Blogger PsycleSteve said…

    In all my years of learning I've never been given the impression that poverty is "beneficial". Those that have advocated this have either been among the Eastern religions or various offshoots of ours. The Essenes near the end of the second beit hamikdash held this among their other views. Jesus was closely tied to this group as they stressed poverty and purity (mikva-baptism). To this day catholic priests and nuns take vows of poverty.

    I've never actually tallied it up (has anybody? I'd been interested) but for every report of a tanah or amorah living in poverty there seems to be one living in luxury and grandeur with great homes, fields, and servants.

  • At 9:33 PM, Blogger kishke said…


    See Nedarim 81a.

  • At 11:32 PM, Blogger kishke said…


    The Gemara in Nedarim that I cited above says that success in Torah comes more readily from the poor.

    But I get the impression from your mention of eastern religions that you're referring to the practice of asceticism. Actually, that too is practice with roots in Jewish tradition. It appears in the Baraisa of R' Pinchos ben Yair (in Avodah Zarah 20b) and is elaborated in Mesillas Yesharim (Shaar Haperishus) as part of a program of self-improvement. Another source is Rashi and Ramban on the pasuk of Kedoshim Tihyu. And even Rebbi, who the Gemara describes as incredibly wealthy, is quoted in Kesubos as saying that in his entire life he did not enjoy even a little finger's worth of earthly pleasures.

  • At 12:08 AM, Blogger PsycleSteve said…

    I see your point but I get a different impression from that gemara. The gemara is trying to teach a moral lesson in not belittling the poor since they too can achieve Torah greatness. The "al tikrah" type of play on words is used to stress the point. I don't think that it specifically is telling us to become poor in order to excel in learning. Isn't a person in poverty considered one of those who are "dead" along with the blind and barren?

    My impression on the Jewish view of asceticism is that it is frowned upon in general, and looked upon as a necessary only under specific conditions for short periods of time (eg nazir).

    With reference to the description of Rebi, one may look at it as he didn't allow materialism to be an important factor in his life, or take it literally that he never received any pleasure from his comfortable bed in his comfortable mansion while having his servants prepare gourmet feasts. Different shittas/hashkofas...

  • At 12:19 AM, Blogger kishke said…

    The gemara is trying to teach a moral lesson in not belittling the poor since they too can achieve Torah greatness. The "al tikrah" type of play on words is used to stress the point. I don't think that it specifically is telling us to become poor in order to excel in learning.

    The pashtus of the Gemara is that the poor are more likely to become great in Torah, b/c they have nothing else to do with their time, and b/c they are humble. That is how the Ran learns.

    I didn't say that the Gemara is recommending one become poor, only that poverty is beneficial to greatness in Torah.

    As for Judaism frowning upon asceticism, kindly check the references I cited - Mesillas Yesharim and Ramban - and you will find otherwise. Not to say that it is for everyone at all times - in Mesillas Yesharim it comes quite late in the progression - but it definitely has its place, and according to Ramban is actually a Torah obligation.

    As for Rebbi, yes, you can interpret it as you wish, but in my opinion, it's best to go first with the pashtus and then with the derash.

  • At 10:14 AM, Blogger PsycleSteve said…

    a)greatness in Torah is the ultimate ideal (something that I think we both could actually agree on)and,
    b)"poverty is beneficial to greatness in torah", then
    c)the logical outcome would be for us to rid ourselves of all wealth in order to become greater in Torah.

    Since Rebi obviously knew that, along with all the other tannaim and amoraim - why didn't they simply jettison all their wealth and become poor (a fairly simple thing to do)? Or at the very least say straight out that that is what one should do instead of "hinting" at it? In fact why doesn't the Torah say that befairush? Why are there suggested limits on giving tzedaka, so that the giver him/herself will not eventually become impoverished and be forced to rely on others (and therefore be in a better position to achieve Torah greatness)?

    To summarize my take on this issue, the Torah in it's greatness has taken it's usual middle path. One extreme is to worship wealth and materialism and vilify and beat down the poor (eg ancient Rome where you were either a noblemen or a slave) - the other extreme being to renounce all wealth and to embrace poverty (eg the catholic priest ideal). The Torah allows us to enjoy wealth and other earthly physical pleasures as they are gifts from Hashem to our physical existence. By the same token one must realize that to better ourselves spiritually is the ultimate goal.

    I have no doubt that poverty can be beneficial to one's growth ie "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" - but that doesn't mean that one should allow oneself to become impoverished. Similarly Avraham's nisyonot made him into the giant that he was be we are told specifically NOT to seek out such things.

    I therefore think that the article Moc broght down which facilitated this discussion is pretty much on target.

    Shabbat Shalom

  • At 11:06 AM, Blogger kishke said…

    Hi Steve,

    A couple of quick points:

    First of all, the Torah does say explicitly that poverty, or at least asceticism, is beneficial for greatness in Torah. It's a Mishnah in Avos: Pas bamelach tochal etc.

    But that's a madreigah; it's obviously not for everyone. My point wasn't that a person should choose poverty; I was responding to MoC, who said (or implied) that without poverty learning will be better; I'm demonstrating that it's not necessarily so.

    The pasuk says "lo yechdal evyon mikerev ha'aretz." In other words, poverty will always be with us. Of course, we must aid the afflicted, and give tzedakah. But all-encompassing societal change to eliminate poverty is beyond us. Which means we should not be castigating the gedolim for their failure to do just that.

    As far as Rebbi beocming poor, he couldn't do that; his position demanded he be rich. Besides, Rebbi had reached a madreigah beyond that of perishus. I don't have so much time to get into it now, but if you look in the Gemara in Kesubos 103a-104a, you'll see that it characterizes Rebbi as having reached the epitome in kedushah. In Mesillas Yesharim you'll see that this is the level one attains after mastering perishus and its related maalos. At the level of kedushah, one need no longer avoid worldly pleasure; to the contrary, all one's pleasure is sanctified. What he eats is as a korban; what he drinks is like nesachim etc. That's why Rebbi didn't have to divest himself of worldly things; he had already mastered that level and was well beyond it. The same might have been true of other Tannaim and Amoraim.

    On top of all that, there's an avodah of serving Hashem through wealth as well; it may well be more difficult than serving Him through poverty. Parnassah is in the hands of Hashem. One makes his hishtadlus and then accepts what Hashem gives him, and serves Him accordngly.

    That's it for now; have a good Shabbos.

  • At 3:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    maybe they should ban hippie concerts at aish koydesh too

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