Beyond BT

Spiritual Growth for Jews

Is Tolerance a Dirty Word?

Posted on | June 20, 2006 | By Rabbi Alter Klein | 102 Comments

The subject of tolerance is a tricky one. What does it mean? The standard dictionary definition is as follows: “The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others”.

We need to ask ourselves if we are “tolerant” enough of other types of Orthodoxy. I am not going to deal with other types of Judaism in this essay. That is a topic by itself. The problem with the standard definition of tolerance is how can I respect something that is against Halacha. There are 70 faces to Torah. Not everyone needs to wear a black hat, knitted kippa, etc… As long as they are keeping halacha, then they have a legitimate orthodox expression of Judaism.

With that said, what happens when a group keeps halacha in their eyes, but not in the eyes of others? That opens up a can of worms. I think the standard has to be that as long as someone is following an accepted halachic opinion then that is valid. That doesn’t mean I have to accept their view, but I must consider them “dati”. What is considered an accepted halachic opinion is a whole discussion by itself.

However what often happens is that a group will do things that are “prohibited”, they won’t ask a shaila if it is permitted and then their whole movement gets a bad rap. The movement’s leaders needs to ask themselves whether or not they have instilled in their members enough “fear of heaven”/ spirituality to ask questions and to make Torah a part of their life 365 days a year and not just on shabbos and holidays. If they feel they have and that there are always going to be people who won’t ask and don’t care then the movement’s leaders are innocent.

Am Yisrael needs direction and encouragement and we need it from our leaders. However we also need to be willing to accept it and to let it have an impact on our lives. Do we need to be more tolerant of other forms of Orthodox Judaism? Yes, if tolerant means accepting other halachically valid forms of Orthodoxy. No if it means accepting orthodox groups that don’t follow halacha. In fact then that group wouldn’t be considered Orthodox in the first place.

Comments

102 Responses to “Is Tolerance a Dirty Word?”

  1. Bob Miller
    June 20th, 2006 @ 8:29 am

    To some, tolerance includes taking any group’s claims to Orthodoxy at face value. If we balk at that, as we should, our next problem is deciding which Halachic authority’s opinion to follow in our relations with another Orthodox group.

    The Orthodox world is now very decentralized, so we tend to follow our own faction’s halachic leadership. But even our faction’s leaders may be split, differing on the facts, strategy, tactics, etc. In any case, these leaders are put in the uncomfortable position of judging the “halachic validity” of other, nominally Orthodox groups that don’t answer to them.

    Now, let’s say a group we suspect of not being really Orthodox has many active members in our own city or neighborhood. Do our local leaders/poskim shy away from condemning them in public or in private to avoid unpleasantness and repercussions? Are they bold enough to tell us not to accept the kashrut of members of a questionable group?

    The whole thing can become a very difficult judgment call. This is why, on a practical level, we probably end up tolerating more than we should.

  2. anonymous
    June 20th, 2006 @ 9:47 am

    I’d just like to throw out a few buzzwords:

    Eruvin, Orthoprax, womens prayer groups, Neturei Karta, Balkanized kashrus supervisory agencies, Yehuda V’Shomron, Yechi Adoneinu, succesion battles, na nach nachman.

    Who has to tolerate whom?

    Also “As long as they are keeping halacha, then they have a legitimate orthodox expression of Judaism.”

    What if they are keeping halacha but deny one or more of Maimonides 13 principles of faith? (As has been the case with many right-wing conservative laity and Rabbis over the years)

  3. LC
    June 20th, 2006 @ 9:48 am

    Now, let’s say a group we suspect of not being really Orthodox has many active members in our own city or neighborhood. Do our local leaders/poskim shy away from condemning them in public or in private to avoid unpleasantness and repercussions? Are they bold enough to tell us not to accept the kashrut of members of a questionable group?

    Um, to the best of my understanding, your question as phrased is problematic. If these people are only *suspected* of not following halacha, and there are no clear facts, I do not believe that our leaders are ALLOWED, per the halachot of lashon hara, to condemn publicly – or even offer any type of public statement. Of course they can privately, nicely, etc. approach these individuals – kal Yisroel areivim zeh lazeh: we are all responsible for one another, and a leader of the community would be an ideal source of such mussar, if properly delivered.

    All of which is not to say that you or I should eat where we are uncomfortable with the kashrus, etc. But ‘I’m sorry, we don’t eat that.’ is not a condemnation, nor a show of “intolerance”. My son is allergic to strawberries. I do not let him eat them. But that doesn’t mean I am “intolerant” of strawberries, or those who eat them – or their decision to do so. Intolerance is generally about attitude.

  4. Bob Miller
    June 20th, 2006 @ 9:59 am

    To clarify:

    WE suspect them
    RABBIS decide if the suspicions are true
    WHICH rabbis?
    WHAT then happens?

  5. anonymous
    June 20th, 2006 @ 10:15 am

    LC
    Bad moshol IMO. The father himself eats strawberries, the non- eating of strawberries is caused by a biological/chemical/imbalance in the son. Moreover strawberry consumption or abstention is morally neutral. Whereas refusing to trust another persons hasgacha/ home kashrus standards is voting with our mouths (both in the output and the intake aspects) that, in our opinions, YOU are not keeping kosher i.e. are non or sub –halachic. Where I come from… thems fightin’ words.

  6. Steve Brizel
    June 20th, 2006 @ 11:15 am

    WADR, “tolerance” is a wonderful ideal, but unfortunately ends when different and valid hashkafic and halachic POVs present diametrically opposite arguments and conclusions. Let me pose some possible objections to this post:

    1)IMO, orthopraxy, regardless of the color of one’s head gear, is not and should not be
    considered as equivalent to or a substitute for Orthodoxy and its cardinal beliefs-which many Jews died Al Kiddush HaShem for in far less hospitable environments. If were to take the poster’s argument to its logical conclusions, then orthopraxy, as opposed to Orthodoxy based upon a Mesorah of what each Hashkafic group based upon its Gdolim view as Emes, would govern our lives.

    2) Like it or not, we have seen distortions and suppressions of authors original texts and intent in their published writings . We have also seen the presentation of halachic and hashkafic arguments in what purports to eb an authentic elucidation of our most critical “text” re TSBP when one can argue that the presentation of only that view is wrong, biased and indifferent to the views of many Gdolim and the historic realities on the ground.

    3)We also see a POV on hashkafa and history that absolutely precludes any discussion of many important hashkafic issues such as the range and style of Parshanut, how Gdolim emerged as Gdolim., Torah and science and what we should learn from various historical epocs. Any alternative discussion, no matter how well intended, is viewed as out of order and implicating Daas Torah, when one could argue that a non-judgmental discussion of these issues , as opposed to avoidance of the same under the rubric of “tolerance” would lead to a strengthening of our faith

    IMO, the bottom line in all of these issues is whether we want to live by a mythological and hagiorgrapghical understanding or an attempt to derive even painful lessons from the past. This issue has divided two Gdolim in no less than the same family- R S Schwalb and R M Schwalb Zicronam Livracha.

    4) The issue of “tolerance” also comes to the surface in the area of Parshanut. One can see evidence of this as far back in the Ramban and his comments in his Commentary on the Torah various comments by Ibn Ezra , Rambam and Rashi.One can maintain with little difficulty that Rashbam , Radak, Ralbag and the Akedas Yitzchak also offer pshat and commentary that are rooted in pshat and a rational understanding of the text, I think that it is fair to say that the later commentaries except for some latter day commentators as RSR Hirsch, R D T Hoffman and R M Simcha ( Meshech Chachmah) veered away from at least a focus on pshat and understanding the vakues within the text based upon Chazal and concentrated on developing Drush, Chasidus and Mussar. The view of Mfarshim view the actions of the Avos, Imahos and even Moshe Rabbeinu are the subject all are the foodstuff by which differing legitimate views emerge, all of which demand to be tolerated and understood, as opposed to being declared as either disfavored , irrelevant or dangerous. Let me cite a few cases. We all know that different ages are cited by Chazal as to when Avraham Avinu recognized HaShem-with such greatly diverse views as 3 and 30, 40, etc. One can argue as R Lichtenstein has maintained, that these views are not in conflict but represent different ways by which Avraham recognized HaShem-either emotionally or intellectually. At the end of Parshas Chayei Sarah, Rivkah meets Yitzchak and sees him davening. The Netziv comments that Rivkah was so overpowered by the gap between Yitzchak and herself that it impaired their ability to communicate openly and raise their family. OTOH, it is well known that the Netziv’s commentary was viewed with disfavor in certain Litvish circles because of his usage of what can only be described as a pscyhcological based analysis. In fact, R A Kotler ZTL wrote a famous pamphlet decrying any such study on the lives of the Avos, notwithstanding such commentaries as the Netziv. Parshanut, as opposed to history or biography or even how one understands a passage of Talmud with non halahic but hashkafic imlications, IMO , should be viewed as allowing for more width and breadth -as long as the view expressed has a source in Chazal , Rishonim and Acharonim. The alternative is the imposition of a canon of accepted means of interpretation where none existed in Jewish history ecxcept for those views such as Spinoza or Shabbetai Tzvi-whose views were beyond the pale of Orthodox belief.

  7. Gershon Seif
    June 20th, 2006 @ 11:31 am

    I’d like to ask another question. Let’s say we’ve determined tht we should be intolerant. What exactly does that mean? For instance, if a Rosh Yeshiva feels he must write a scathing article in the Jewish Observer about the wrongs of a group he has determined in need of rebuke, or speak about it publicly at a public gathereing, does that mean the rest of us are supposed to mimic that behavior? Are we supposed to make that the subject of our shabbos table? Are we as individuals expected to mock another group?

    Perhaps that article or speech, already made the point. And perhaps only quietly and carefully, and with great apprehension, are we to direct our household members to understand the issues (if we ourselves do understand the issues!) but not make it into a big and noisey deal.

    When I first read this post I was wondering why is this being posted here. What does this have to do with baalei teshuvah? But on second thought, it does belong here. Baalei teshuvah need to know that there is a thing called Truth. Navigating through the various forms of observance, finding Truth can be confusing. There has to be a benchmark to determine that. That benchmark is halacha. On the other hand, once you find your nitch or specific group(s) within the Orthodox world, make sure you don’t have an attitude towards the other groups. I think that’s the point here. This is hard for many BTs to comprehend because BTs chose their path and rejected all other paths. BTs need to temper that. Everyone’s different. Some people like purple and others like orange. Some like black and white, others gray. If you decided orange is the where it’s at, that doesn’t mean purple doesn’t work for someone else.

    I would like to believe that there is more common ground between leaders of all the various groups within Orthodoxy than disagreement.

  8. Chaim Grossferstant
    June 20th, 2006 @ 12:07 pm

    Saw this recently on another blogsite: Believe it’s pertinent to the thread:

    A relativist says that anything goes, but pluralism that accepts anything and everything as co-legitimate is not pluralism.

    As Isaiah Berlin, the most famous pluralist of all time put it “I am not a relativist; I do not say “I like my coffee with milk and you like it without; I am in favor of kindness and you prefer concentration camps”—each of us with his own values, which cannot be overcome or integrated.”

  9. Bob Miller
    June 20th, 2006 @ 12:10 pm

    Steve Brizel.

    You referred to “those views such as Spinoza or Shabbetai Tzvi-whose views were beyond the pale of Orthodox belief.”

    In the aftermath of Shabbetai Tzvi, many of his followers were justly ostracized by Jewish communities, but many others were falsely accused of following him and were unjustly ostracized. Some false accusations were sincerely meant and others were not.

    FAST FORWARD TO 5766>>>>>

    Today, do we need halachic arbiters to decide if we should treat anyone as non-Orthodox? What qualifications would the arbiters need to have, and do such people exist? What type of due process rules would be needed to prevent abuses?

  10. YM
    June 20th, 2006 @ 12:29 pm

    I had a debate with a Rav a few months back, who said that as far as he was concerned, only Orthodox groups that follow mesorah are legitimate. I disagreeed, although I think that halachic observance and holding by the 13 Ikkarim of the Rambam are both necessary to be called Orthodox.

  11. Neil Harris
    June 20th, 2006 @ 12:29 pm

    Rabbi Seif (comment #7), well stated.
    The issue of tolerance is one that is dear to most of us. As Rabbi Seif metioned, “BTs chose their path and rejected all other paths.”
    Often in the frum world, we are quick to condemn others who won’t hold by our views, yet at the same time, demand that other’s accept our minhaggim and hashkafah.
    My wife always says, “if you want respect, you’ve got to give respect.”

    In 100 years if one was to write a history of Orthodoxy, what would be listed as “contributions of the BT movement to frum society?” Maybe this should be a whole other discussion, but I think about it quite often.

    I would like to hope that since we, BTs, come from various backgrounds and have learned to navigate through relationships with family, friends, and co-workers, we have learned tolerance. A BT surely wants others to be tolerant of their lifestyle choices. It is only fair that BTs should set the example of tolerance within Orthodox.

    For an interest read on the historic and halachic status on non-Orthodox, I suggest the chapters dealing with this exact subject from Rabbi Yom Tov Schwart’s book, EYES TO SEE.

  12. Anonymous
    June 20th, 2006 @ 12:35 pm

    I think we are conflating several different issues. It might help to distinguish them.

    1) Parameters of legitimate machloket: where is the line between “I don’t hold like them” and “they are beyond the pale?” There is a thing called Truth, there is a thing called Falsehood, but there are also things called Uncertainty and Debate. Especially as baalei teshuvah this can be difficult.

    2) Centralized versus decentralized determination of #1. Is it the role of a private individual to decide what is unacceptable? The community’s rav? His rosh yeshiva? Some national-level umbrella organization?

    3) Discussion of hilchot Lashon Hara. If one rabbi suspects that another rabbi’s followers are doing something wrong, when is it forbidden/permitted/required to say something? To do something?

    4) Public relations: After one has concluded that a certain group or a certain ideological position is beyond the pale, what’s the most effective way to protect members of our own communities, to be mekarev members of the other community, and to avoid making a chillul Hashem in front of “neutral parties?”

    I’ve probably missed a few topics. But it helps to keep them straight.

  13. Learning
    June 20th, 2006 @ 12:36 pm

    Saw this recently on another blogsite: Believe it’s pertinent to the thread:

    A relativist says that anything goes, but pluralism that accepts anything and everything as co-legitimate is not pluralism.

    As Isaiah Berlin, the most famous pluralist of all time put it “I am not a relativist; I do not say “I like my coffee with milk and you like it without; I am in favor of kindness and you prefer concentration camps”—each of us with his own values, which cannot be overcome or integrated.”

    ~

    He saw it on dovbear, and the rest of the post, together with the discussion there really fleshes out the point.
    http://www.dovbear.blogspot.com

    Administrator’s Note: If you could provide the exact link it would be helpful.

  14. David Schallheim
    June 20th, 2006 @ 12:45 pm

    I would like to second Gershon’s point:

    “On the other hand, once you find your nitch or specific group(s) within the Orthodox world, make sure you don’t have an attitude towards the other groups.”

    I recognize that I went through an “intolerent” stage in my early development. Possibly, any environment that fosters a strong ideology is going to generate intolerence of other ideals as a by-product.

    BT’s often don’t have the tools to guage the legitimacy of other Halachic groups of Judaism. Here, as in so many other areas of life, one has to follow the dictum: “Aseh lecha Rav,” find a Rebbe!

  15. SephardiLady
    June 20th, 2006 @ 1:03 pm

    Unfortunately, even within the small Orthodox world, there are practices and beliefs that need to be rejected.

    But, outside of the few situations that I can think of, I think that the social intolerance that we see is extremely detrimental towards building a cooperative community that serves the needs of all its population.

    For example, there are long established practices regarding chalav stam, and yet a friend of mine was told by a neighborhood girl, “oh, you don’t keep kosher” because she accepts an OUD. G-d knows what the reaction would have been if she were to have eaten a heksher that is less generally regarded than an OU.

    Like Gershon, I’d like to think that the Orthodox community has more in common than is dividing us. And, I’d like to think that there is more room under the umbrella than it seems that there is in certain communities.

  16. Harry Maryles
    June 20th, 2006 @ 1:49 pm

    As others have stated, Orthopraxy is not the measure by which to judge a person’s level of observance. There are practitioners of Halacha… of even Chumros… who are atheists in their personal beliefs. Does it really matter how many Mitzvos one observes if he is an atheist… and practicing Halacha for social reasons?

    I think what is important to consider is what the commitment of an individual to follwing Halacha is based upon. If it is based on Emunah and open is seriously committed to following Halacha based on that Emunah… that makes him or her an observant Jew. To that extent, one should always at least try to follow Halacha even if at times unsuccessfully (we all sin… that’s what Teshuva is about) As long as we acknowledge it as a personal failure. Once we have that kind of commitment, then it shouldn’t matter what our Hashkafos are. As long as one is committed to following Halacha as his Poskim understand it, that should be enough for anyone.

    And here’s is where intolerance comes in to play. It is when those of one Hashkafa reject people with different Hashkafos from their own as illegitimate… even when they have Emunah and try to follow Mitzvos as interpreted by their Poskim. This is clearly intolerant and wrong. And it is no excuse to say that too many members of “that other Hashkafa” are really not Shomer Mitzvos…have no real Emunah and are only Orthoprax. That amounts to guilt by association. Would they say that about their own Hashkafa just because there are Orthoprax in their midst? Of course not and they shouldn’t. Nor should they ignore those who are Orthoprax in their own midst accepting them as Torah Jews either. If they reject the Orhtoprax of one grup they should accept their on. What applies to one Hashkafic group should apply to another.

    To consider people who violate Halacha because they have no real commitment to it as non-obervant is fine… as long as it is across the entire spectrum of Orthodoxy. But to single out one group… is to be grossly intolerant.

  17. Ora
    June 20th, 2006 @ 2:04 pm

    Hmmm…the whole issue seems to come down to the question of who will be deciding Halacha in order to know who’s following it.

    Personally, I think that tolerance is what makes the world go round…especially here in Israel, if we didn’t accept anyone who was breaking halacha according to our particular Rabeim, the religious community would fragment. After all, according to the dati leumi Rabeim, it is a mitzva to defend Eretz Israel (ie go to the army), which would make most of the haredi community one of the “groups that don’t follow halacha.” And of course, all non-Israeli Jews would be accused of ignoring “yishuv haaretz.” The list could go on and on, and in the end we’d all be on it.

    In the end, we just can’t follow every single posek, and if we can’t respect those whose poskim interpret halacha differently from our own, we’ll be stuck in constant, intolerable infighting. In the end, I think that valid interpretations seperate themselves from the non-valid ones naturally. You can also look at the rest of community life (aside from the issues in question) for a clearer picture. So, for example, when I look at haredi life it’s clear that it’s a community with a lot of chesed, tzniut, yirat shamayim, etc, and so I believe that their decision not to go to the army has some valid basis in halacha. Communities which are truly breaking halacha usually have a lot of problematic aspects, not just the one issue.

  18. Steve Brizel
    June 20th, 2006 @ 2:16 pm

    Bob Miller-There is no doubt that Shabbtei Tzvi and his immediate circle were one of the main causes of the well known dispute between R Yaakov Emden and R Yonasan Eibsehutz that rocked all of the Rabbinic giants of that generation. Yet, I know of no Gadol who ever accepted Sabbateanism as a nornal hashkafah.

    OTOH, I have heard RHS and many other Gdolim state that R Chaim Brisker said on numerous occasions that a Yid who was observant but ignorant or denied the Ikarei Emunah was an apikores. Thus, the distinction between Orthodox and Orthoprax is not new in origin.

  19. tffb
    June 20th, 2006 @ 2:17 pm

    “OTOH, it is well known that the Netziv’s commentary was viewed with disfavor in certain Litvish circles”

    What litvish circles are these?
    The netziv’s pirush is a charedi favorite afaict.

  20. Bob Miller
    June 20th, 2006 @ 2:28 pm

    Steve,

    My Shabbetai-Tzvi-related point was that decisions to exclude need to be done by the right people using the right means. Can you answer my questions above? (Post 9)

  21. Steve Brizel
    June 20th, 2006 @ 3:59 pm

    RHS once told me many years ago that he had heard that the Chafetz Chaim didn’t like the psychological analyis such as the instance that I mentioned. In fact, this is mentioned in Making of a Gadol as well. R A Kotler ZTL’s pamhphelt IMO seems like a pretty explicit on how the Netziv understood the relationship between Yitzchak and rivkah.

  22. Steve Brizel
    June 20th, 2006 @ 5:15 pm

    Bob Miller-”decisions to exclude” is a very vague term as is “right people using the right means.” Remember the recent discussions re messianism here and others elsewhere? I can see certain O organizations refusing to allow non mechitzah shuls as members or services or rabbinical organizations asking members to leave whose public statements and psak cannot be reconciled with the SA. However, we have to remember that the media loves to look for intra-O disputes, scapegoats and would be martyrs.

  23. Bob Miller
    June 20th, 2006 @ 5:39 pm

    Steve,
    regarding your statement, “However, we have to remember that the media loves to look for intra-O disputes, scapegoats and would be martyrs.”

    Does this mean that any instructions from Orthodox leaders to treat any not-really- Orthodox group as such have to be delivered in private?

  24. Baruch Horowitz
    June 20th, 2006 @ 8:00 pm

    I was wondering about the following scenario which has been on my mind lately:

    Suppose a segment of the mitzvah observant population was raised that certain hashkafos were acceptable. Then, for whatever reason, such views are eschewed for the community as a whole.

    However, assuming some individuals receive guidance from their own mentors to continue to hold by these views, based on their individual needs. Would the community policy tend to recognize the individuality of these people to hold their Hashkafic outlook ?

    I tend to think that the community would adapt to include the individuality of such people, and be sensitive to their needs, since they are, after all, sincere in their observance.

  25. Bob Miller
    June 21st, 2006 @ 9:46 am

    Baruch,

    You have three players here, the mentor, the individual he advises, and the community (assuming that it is unified). In your scenario, should the mentor get involved and go to bat for this individual vis-a-vis the community, or are you assuming that the community has rejected the mentor himself as well as the approach he is now recommending to the individual?

  26. Baruch Horowitz
    June 21st, 2006 @ 10:58 am

    The mentor should get involved and go to bat for this individual vis-a-vis the community, as you say. When things are done b’achdus, creative ideas can be raised, and out of the box solutions can be found. Do not Chazal say “ein lecha adam s’hein lo shaah”; certainly this would include the mentors in question.

  27. Baruch Horowitz
    June 21st, 2006 @ 11:04 am

    By the way, Bob, if you e-mail me at borhowitz at yahoo dot com, I will direct you to a forum where I raised this issue clearly and less obliquely.

  28. Yaakov Grant
    June 21st, 2006 @ 11:18 am

    Had to throw in the Moshiach’s Hat poem to this post which some may not have heard before. Begins like this:

    Moshiach’s Hat
    By Rabbi Yitzchok 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.

    This one in English Some in Hebrew, some in Yiddish. Some saying Pshat And some saying a Chiddish. And up in Shamayim The Aibishter decreed: “The time has come for My Children to be freed.

    The rest of it can be read on LazerBeams:

    http://lazerbrody.typepad.com/lazer_beams/2005/12/aliza_sent_me_t.html

  29. Mordechai Y. Scher
    June 21st, 2006 @ 12:34 pm

    Moshiach’s Hat – wait, shouldn’t it be Mashiah’s Hat? :-) is brilliant. It’s actually been around quite a long time. Should be required in every school. I had to memorize Langston Hughes when I was a kid…this would be much more beneficial. Thanks for posting the link.

  30. DK
    June 21st, 2006 @ 3:21 pm

    What if a group rejects latter, added on stringencies regarded by others as halacha? Isn’t that who you are seeking to deligitimize, Rabbi Klein? The dreaded Modern Orthodox?

    And isn’t the struggle and frustration between Haredim (especially BT charedim) and MO Jews parallel to that of other religious groups? Shouldn’t BT’s specifically be concerned with acting all too similar to Newly Very Religious born again Christians and Islamicists who denounce the “lax” practices of traditionally moderate but committed religious Muslims and Christians who avoid radicalism and cultural disengagement from society at large?

    Is it really the Jewish way to condemn less severe interpretations of Judaism as insincere, or would it be more menschlach and fitting to our quiescent faith to say, “I am personally going on a path of intense discipline seeking maximum compliance with Modern Haredi halachic interpretation and cultural disengagement, but I don’t judge or negate the validity of other Jews with a traditional mesorah that doesn’t seek stringency or modern maximum halachic compliance or demand an enclave lifestyle.”

  31. Steve Brizel
    June 21st, 2006 @ 4:00 pm

    Bob-Some within our community use their group’s conventions as opportunities to “preach to the converted” and to develope policies towards other O groups. OTOH, even at national meetings, a decision to take no action is as much a decision as a decision to issue a public statement denouncing an inappropriate statement or action. Sometimes, rabbinical leaders also make statements either in addresses, articles or web-published remarks. Of couse, the bottom line is whether the target is worth spending the energy on or not.

  32. Chaim Grossferstant
    June 21st, 2006 @ 5:19 pm

    DK you wrote:”Very Religious born again Christians and Islamicists who denounce the “lax” practices of traditionally moderate but committed religious Muslims and Christians who AVOID RADICALISM AND CULTURAL DISENGAGEMNT from society at large?” (Emphasis mine)

    IMO here’re the differences: Western Christianity is primarily responsible for creating the cultural institutions and milieu that collectively we refer to as modernity and post-modernity. Islam and Judaism are not. It is far more normative for a Christian to be culturally engaged since the culture he is engaging with is an outgrowth, even if it was a reformation of/rebellion against, traditional Christianity.

    Also in sharp contrast with Christianity AND Islam which have a millennia long traditions of spreading the faith and proselytizing Judaism has a strong isolationist streak. Verses such as “And I will separate you from the Nations to be mine” and “There laws differ from that of all the nations” resonate strongly within the collective Jewish Consciousness. It is relatively much easier to engage with a culture when your collective cultural subconscious dictates that you ARE the dominant/universal culture. For a Charedi Jew the issue becomes not a mere question of how to confront/integrate modernity but whether or not doing so compromises the separatist essence of Judaism. Presumably both moderate and Islamofascist Moslems share a belief in Islam as the eventual one-worlds religion being achieved through human efforts (military/political/missionary Jihad). They can quibble over stringencies but not over shared goals. But, based on the decidedly un-proselytizing disengaged-from-the-dominant-culture tradition within Judaism, a Charedi Jew suspects more moderate Jews of selling-out for the sake of material/social short term gains not of merely being more lenient.

  33. DK
    June 21st, 2006 @ 5:23 pm

    Chaim Grossferstant,

    What you are saying would make more sense if Haredi Jews behaved differently in Israel. In fact, they are even more isolationist there, where according to you, they should be less so, since

    “the culture he is engaging with is an outgrowth, even if it was a reformation of/rebellion against, traditional [Judaism].

  34. Chaim Grossferstant
    June 21st, 2006 @ 5:37 pm

    Cogent point taken. I’ve got to think it over. Guess that’s what happens when I try to play armchair sociologist/anthropologist.

  35. David Linn
    June 21st, 2006 @ 6:43 pm

    While I’m not sure that Chaim’s premise is correct, I also don’t know that DK’s point disproves it. The reason is because I’m not sure that modern Israeli society is either an outgrowth of or rebellion against traditional Jewish culture.

    It often appears to me that parts of modern israeli culture (especially that of the youth) has few, if any, uniquely “Israeli” aspects. To a large extent, it seems to mimic western culture. This may explain, in part,the cultural disassociation and isolationism DK mentioned.

  36. DK
    June 21st, 2006 @ 9:17 pm

    Rabbi Linn,

    You wrote,

    “The reason is because I’m not sure that modern Israeli society is either an outgrowth of or rebellion against traditional Jewish culture.

    It often appears to me that parts of modern israeli culture (especially that of the youth) has few, if any, uniquely “Israeli” aspects.”

    Well, maybe not specifically “Israeli,” but definitely Jewish. There is a tremendous influence of Jewish culture on Israeli culture, though there are indeed other influences as well. But you would be hardpressed to find a religious or secular nation on earth as culturally or religiously Jewish as Israel.

    True, the early Labor Zionists included within it this hardcore ideology of being “Israeli” instead of being Jewish. But they have decidedly lost that kulterkampf. Rather, they were accomodated. But even most secularists (never mind the MO’s)identify as Jews as well as Israelis (if they are actually Jewish). Even the secular Sharon said he identified “first” as a Jew.

    But let’s go with your perception (as a possibility)of Israeli culture, that,

    “To a large extent, it seems to mimic western culture.”

    Can we agree that many in fundamentalist Muslim circles say the same thing? Do you think they approve of “Western influences?” We know they dispise them. And maybe some of us understand that. But in my mind, that hardly makes their citizens non-Muslim or non-Arab, or their culture primarily Western. Even in relative hotbeds of secularism, like in Jordan or Syria.

  37. David Linn
    June 21st, 2006 @ 10:18 pm

    DK,

    Thanks for the smicha, but I’m not a Rabbi. Just a plain David like yourself. :)

    I think you are reading far too deeply into my comment. I am neither agreeing nor disagreeing with such a view of Israeli culture. Nor have I proffered an opinion on any segment of society isolating itself from the larger culture.

    All I was pointing out was that your early “cogent” point on Chaim G’s thesis for isolationism doesn’t necessarily disprove his thesis.

    No need to jump to comparisons to fundamentalist muslims.

  38. Alter Klein
    June 22nd, 2006 @ 3:25 am

    Dear DK,
    I in no way meant to deligitimize Modern Orthodoxy or any other orthodox movement. I clearly stated that if an orthodox group is following halacha then we must accept them as orthodox. There is a big difference between a group not accepting stringincies and a group doing outright prohibitions. Any group/individual that is doing outright prohibitions, should not be considered orthodox.
    I repeat, I am not talking about where one posek says it is permitted and another one says no. I am talking about where a group or individual is doing something and no competent(I am not talking about what color his kippa is) halachic authority permits it.
    I did mean to say to all groups that they need to encourage their members to have more fear of heaven and be “frum” 24/7. Serving Hashem isn’t about just being Jewish on Saturdays.
    Kol tuv,

  39. Yaakov Grant
    June 22nd, 2006 @ 5:26 am

    Here’s another possible angle to approach the issue of tolerance:

    Could it be that we need to have 2 faces: an inner and an outer one? It sounds two-faced but arent we all to some extent? Even in our own ‘groups’/ kehillos is the hashkofo and understood halocho identical amongst all its members?

    So what’s my outer face? Trying to be nice to every Jew, do a chessed for them, dont try and convince them of my derech on one leg. But rebuke? When I bring up TV, radio, newspapers or Yom Haatzmaut, 99 times out of 100 I’ll come out the loser.

    When do I show my inner face? At home or maybe in my ‘group’/ kehilla? This doesnt mean unbottling loads of slander and lies about other groups chas v’shalom, but just reinforcing hashkofo and halocho of my mesorah as I beleive HKBH wants me to live in the year 5766. As for trying to take sides in machlokes between gedolim, which is a massive nisayon and one many a good Jew has stumbled in, which should not let this into our inner lives, because we wont understand it on our level. If we think do its because we’ve missed the point.

    So having an outer and inner face may mean being ‘PC’ at times (which clearly isnt emess) But for the sake of shalom, this has to be a stepping stone in a world of many shades, on our career towards clearer emess and stronger emuna. And we need to keep growing beacuse if not, we can end up mixing our inner and outer face, leading to machlokes or weakening in emuna.

  40. Steve Brizel
    June 22nd, 2006 @ 1:06 pm

    Yaakov Grant-WADR, your last point struck me as contradictory.Isn’t being nice and doing chesed essentially part of Vhavta Leracha Kamocha, especially as formulated by Rambam?

    For those of us with a Mesorah, once you follow a Gadol or Gdolim who are Baalei Mesorah , then the existence of contrary opinions among other Gdolim and their followers on any issue, no matter the subject matter, is really quite irrelevant. IMO, the notion that “we won’t understand it on our level” means that we should effectively abandon our study of this aspect of Torah and try to determine Toras Emes. This attitude allows way too much in the presentation of opinions and ideas that ignore both sides of a dispute on these issues-as is the case way too often in our communities.

  41. DK
    June 22nd, 2006 @ 2:18 pm

    Rabbi Klein,

    you wrote,

    “I repeat, I am not talking about where one posek says it is permitted and another one says no.”

    Well, I guess there is the question of who you would include in an “accepted halachic opinion,” (but you acknowledge that is a critical question) but I still don’t quite understand why you want to penalize a group who might not seek to cast out indiviuals of their community who don’t live up to the standards of the group as a whole. Not Orthodox synagogue seeks to enforce an enclave mentality. Why should they? Why not just welcome people to daven and let them work on their ruchnius at their own pace?

  42. Steve Brizel
    June 22nd, 2006 @ 3:36 pm

    DK-ever hear of the Lincoln Square beginners’ minyan and the programs run by RE Buchwald for NJOP? AFAIK, that might answer your last question.

  43. Alter Klein
    June 22nd, 2006 @ 4:28 pm

    Dear DK,
    I don’t recall writing about wanting to penalize a movement if they don’t kick out non halachic people. I did say that maybe the movements leadership takes part of the blame if their membership doesn’t keep halacha however I also qualified that by saying that if the leaders did try to instill certain values into their group then they are innocent.
    I agree that we aren’t the judge and jury and that we should let people work on their own ruchnius however the movements must set the standards and those standards need to be clear and “kosher”. People need to have goals to look up to.
    Kol tuv

  44. Jacob Haller
    June 22nd, 2006 @ 4:31 pm

    DK’s comment

    “Is it really the Jewish way to condemn less severe interpretations of Judaism as insincere, or would it be more menschlach and fitting to our quiescent faith to say, “I am personally going on a path of intense discipline seeking maximum compliance with Modern Haredi halachic interpretation and cultural disengagement, but I don’t judge or negate the validity of other Jews with a traditional mesorah that doesn’t seek stringency or modern maximum halachic compliance or demand an enclave lifestyle.”

    Personally I would like to think I am embarking on just that. However, considering what I perceive to be your somewhat low threshold of patience with “BT Charedim” I feel that it behooves me to add that it took me literally YEARS before I was able to ascertain such an ideal equillibrium.

    Perhaps your tendency to rip into BT Charedi-ism is less than fair and “cogent” and despite some possible less-than-pleasant experiences you may have encountered there are some black-clad strawmen out there too?

    You’re likely well versed in the nuances and subtleties that for some are in fact a wide and unbridgable gulf between let’s say Torah U’Mada, Torah im Derekh Eretz and the “yeshivish” hashkafos.

    However, it’s quite the tall order to expect the BT’s to navigate through this labrythine maze of parallel philosophies while you’re checking your stopwatch.

    I’ll try to be brief with one example. Rav Aharon Lichtenstein’s treatise “Torah U’Mada” includes a very welcome disclaimer: “Torah U’Mada may not be everyone’s cup of tea”.

    I was glad to read that. While I have towering respect for Rav Aharon it doesn’t suit my needs to delve into Milton and Kierkegaard to appreciate the Torah. Maybe some would benefit and they have an authority like Rav Soloveitchik to support, but for me it would be at best a distraction.

    Furthermore on a slighty different but nonetheless relevant topic, is there such thing as “Torah U’Mada” community that a prospective BT could visit and spend Shabbos for learning about the rhythms of the Torah lifestyle and eventually settle into? I’m not sure such a situation exits unless one was primed to spend years at YU or if they are just starting out happen to find a place like Chappel’s. (BTW, despite Tziyoni beginnings I gradually settled into the “black hat” approach and chose to move to Flatbush for the community experience).

    The Rosh Yeshiva of my very Tziyoni BT yeshiva once lamented how in Israel there’s a serious dearth of BT B’tei Medrash while “by the Chareidim there’s a lot”.

    To me this indicated there are just more opportunities for a prospective BT to walk into. If they feel they’ve found a home, they’re of course likely to follow (for lack of a better term) the party line since for them it’s a modus operandi, a source for being grounded in something which everyone endeavors.

    OK, went beyond the attempt of brevity. Hope this added something. Kol Tuv.

  45. Jacob Haller
    June 22nd, 2006 @ 4:34 pm

    Wait, gotta clarify a point in the last paragraph.

    “To me this indicated there are just more opportunities for a prospective BT to walk into.”

    There are more “Charedi” or “yeshivish” opportunities for a prospective BT to walk into.

  46. Steve Brizel
    June 22nd, 2006 @ 4:59 pm

    Back in the 50s through the late 70s, YU’s JSS program was one of the premier non Charedi BT yeshivos. Full disclosure_I am a graduate of that program and I consider much of my desire to learn Torah and respect for Talmidei Chachamim to have been developed in JSS.

    After a long period of benign neglect,YU is rebuilding the program. I would reccomend it highly for any BT interested in both a non Charedi approach and a good college education.

  47. Jacob Haller
    June 22nd, 2006 @ 5:15 pm

    “I would reccomend it highly for any BT interested in both a non Charedi approach and a good college education.”

    Certainly. But then there are those like myself who came to the realization of the criticality of learning only AFTER college.

  48. David Schallheim
    June 23rd, 2006 @ 5:00 am

    >>Full disclosure_I am a graduate of that program and I consider much of my desire to learn Torah and respect for Talmidei Chachamim to have been developed in JSS.

    Steve, did you learn with Rav Moshe Chait? He was my Rosh Kollel for six years, and often mentioned stories about JSS.

  49. Steve Brizel
    June 23rd, 2006 @ 9:58 am

    David-Nope. When I was in JSS, R M Besdin ZTL was its director. Take a look at my articles in the Commentator’s YUdaica section archive and a recently published book entitled “75 Years of Yeshiva College” for more info re JSS.

  50. Rabbi Yonason Goldson
    June 25th, 2006 @ 12:29 pm

    I’m coming into this late, but I recall hearing from Rav Akiva Tatz that certain words in English have no equivalent in Lashon HaKodesh — among them are romance, adventure and, yes, tolerance. If the words do not exist in Biblical Hebrew then neither do the concepts.

    On the other hand, we have a mitzvah V’ahavto L’reacho comocha — Love your fellow as yourself. And who is your fellow? The p’shat, I believe, is the Torah committed Jew. (Although in our times when so many Jews are classified as tinuk sh’nishba — not culpable for their actions by way of ignorance of the authenticity of Torah — perhaps ahava extends to all Jews other than those very few knowledgable apikorsim and those who are ba’alei machlokes.) Consequently, although I don’t “tolerate” that which I believe is wrong, I should accept that the absolute definition of “right” may be broad enough to include some who don’t do exactly as I do.

    If so, the issue seems to be what defines a Torah committed Jew? As Rabbi Klein stated orignially, that would seem a matter of adherance to halacha. The danger, then, comes from applying the definition of halachic observance so narrowly that it only applies to Jews who follow MY poskim.

    To my understanding, this is the very definition of the sinas chinom responsible for the second chorban. I was delighted when a guest at my son’s bar mitzvah siyum was overheard commenting on the haskofic diversity of the people in attendance. Why is it so difficult to accept that others may have legitimate expressions of Torah Judaism that are different from mine?

  51. Baruch Horowitz
    June 25th, 2006 @ 10:01 pm

    As a Torah Jew, I can not subscribe to the doctrine of pluralism in its standard meaning, since that would entail granting recognition or legitimacy to heterodox philosophy. In “Confessions of a Jewish Fundamentalist”, Rabbi Avi Shafran writes that Orthodox Jews, as believers in absolute truth, could indeed be considered “fundamentalists” in one sense of the word. http://jewishmediaresources.com/article/447/

    However, I can be tolerant in the sense that I can be understanding and empathetic of others’ positions. When attempting to show why the experience of Torah learning is qualitatively different than that of other religions’ experiences, someone accused me of “being too wrapped up in my own world”. This is not true, because I have no problem understanding the complexities of people of other religions, that in turn lead them to make their choices, despite that I still argue for the superiority of my own.

    In a different context, Rabbi Rosenblum has written that “One of the keys to successful shtadlanus is developing the ability to see an issue from the point of the view of the other side. Effective persuasion requires imaginatively inhabiting the mindset of the person one hopes to convince.” This is the key to any negotiation, and I strongly agree with it. http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2006/05/18/shtadlanus-a-matter-of-perspective/#comments

    In the Torah World, this applies as well. I have met people who can see things from others’ perspective. However, I also know some—even friends of mine—who sometimes can not say “I understand the way that you think or feel”. Dr. Yehuda Levi brought this issue up when he wrote in a recent Jewish Observer article of a conversation which he had with an editor of Hamodia, who bemoaned the fact that his own little nephew looks upon him as a less than valid Jew.

    On the positive side, I will say that I know, for example, of one summer camp which consists of bnei torah from many different segments—yeshivish, chassidish and American, and they all learn to live together. I hope that in the coming years, we will see improvement in such tolerance.

  52. Jaded Topaz
    June 26th, 2006 @ 12:17 am

    Why is the issue of Tolerance even a question .OK , given – if your in the process of making a “Which Sect/group/path Am I Choosing” decision you got your research work cut out for you including but not limited to understanding why different sects do things differently , but why is everyone always trying to win Ms/Mr Supercilious awards for their local paths they’ve chosen .If everyone would rechannel the energy used for judging other sects and rating them on focus validity/ adherence to halacha and general presentation/dress and just focus on their own personal agenda /being and spiritual growth on the judging level , G-d would be way happier and acceptance of others would be the default setting as it wont be a set focus anymore .

    Listening and understanding why others do something is awesome and should be done on a daily basis- the obvious trick is to maintain your own standards .How you set your own standards is another sidetrack issue but putting down or judging the way others do stuff and emphasizing that your way is more proper and correct is childish and immature.Sometimes people may mix what some consider wrong (shades of grey reasoning) and right that still doesnt allow for judging or acting supercilious.People process things differently and learn differently.Some thrive in the ultra chareidi enviroments and grow when being stifled.and some thrive in the regular bible or loose leaf bible environments.Whatever floats your spiritual boat and keeps the soul from goin adrift.Everyone is heading in the same direction . And hopefully we all have the similar global life objective goals.

    It doesnt really matter which lighthouses you choose to light your way as long as they are not blinding /misleading or false.You can have the proper focus and pray to g-d whether your wearing a black hat /pink fur hat or no hat. and the pink fur hat shul goer should love the black hat shul goer and the no hat shul goer and the no shul praying already prayed goer A.K.A love thy neighbor ………(just dont covet your neighbors wife)(no connection) …………

  53. Yaakov Astor
    June 26th, 2006 @ 1:35 pm

    JT,

    Now you made me self-conscious of my pink fur hat with the lighthouse on top of it. How will I ever wear it to shul again?

  54. DK
    June 26th, 2006 @ 2:38 pm

    Baruch Horowitz,

    You wrote,

    “In “Confessions of a Jewish Fundamentalist”, Rabbi Avi Shafran writes that Orthodox Jews, as believers in absolute truth, could indeed be considered “fundamentalists” in one sense of the word.”

    That would not be a definition accepted by most sociologists, as it would include traditional Jews (i.e., MO’s and LW black hatters) who are not completely or not at all a part of modern Fundamentalist movements.

    It is important, therefore, to note that for a definition to be accurate tagging a Jewish group or individual with the term “fundamentalist,” it must not be a definition that also includes Modern Orthodox Jews, but rather, excludes Modern Orthodox Jews.

    Believing in “absolute truths” is therefore not an acceptable definition, as it is too broad, and could include even people we don’t asociate with being “religious,” never mind Orthodox. For instance, many people might hold as an absolute truth that one shouldn’t torture small children for fun. This hardly makes them “fundamentalists.”

  55. Bob Miller
    June 26th, 2006 @ 4:00 pm

    Why assume, as JT seems to do, that members of various Jewish groups assert the rightness of their approaches strictly out of ego or vanity? Or that criticism of others is their first priority? I have no problem believing that some people and groups really do have a better grip on Torah Judaism than others. To most, this fact does not make all the “others” outcasts.

  56. Ora
    June 26th, 2006 @ 6:18 pm

    DK– So what’s your definition of “fundamentalist?” And why do you see it as obvious that the modern orthodox could never be fundamentalists? I’m sure that many people actually would define them as such.

  57. Jaded Topaz
    June 26th, 2006 @ 8:32 pm

    Ora – Fundamentalists are individuals that take religion very literally and to such extremes they contradict the basis of their very faith. I’m not sure why you would want to include Modern Orthodox in that category.Unless there are other definitions or connotations for Fundamentalists that i’m not aware of .

    Bob Miller : my point was not that the “criticism of others seems to be their main priority” though it does seem to be your main priority whenever you chance upon a comment of mine.Will you be my main linear critic when I write the great american blog-book ? Nor was my point that “different groups assert the rightness of their approaches out of ego or vanity”.My point was there should be no assertion at all period of rightness or wrongnesses of approaches .Its up to each individual to learn from everyone – there should be no forced issues and the ability to ascertain who has a “better grip” on Judaism should be more of a voluntary excercise ………..or on a as needed basis as opposed to constant reminders and advertisments and mass marketing sort of in your face kind of campaigns.

    Yaakov Astor , LOL!!!! Just focus on lighting the way for others and the pink fur will blend into the scenery it may even give the lighthouse lights the pink lightbulb effect which is very effective in the kiruv industry when working in the red light district – thats the kiruv technique where one goes into the basement of society for lost souls attracted to glitter and sparkle.Its sort of a new blackcherry smirnoff twist on false advertising where the false advertising of pink lights in the lighthouse actually leads to real truths like the light of hashem and torah………….

  58. DK
    June 26th, 2006 @ 9:08 pm

    Ora,

    Read this essay by Samuel Heilman for a brief explanation of the difference between traditional and Fundmaentalism within Orthodox Judaism.

    http://www.jcpa.org/cjc/cjc-heilman-s05.htm

  59. Yaakov Astor
    June 26th, 2006 @ 11:20 pm

    I love when people like Prof Heilman create definitions and then paint a bulls-eye around it.

    I don’t have time to dissect the article, but his real definition of fundamentalism, his working definition, is summarized in the last sentence of the first paragraph:

    “Fundamentalism is therefore often engaged in an intense battle against forces in the contemporary world that, in its view, seek to undermine or to defile the world as it sees it.”

    In other words, it’s the battle against a world view one feels threatened by that is fundamentalist.

    However, the fact is that there’s good and bad in the contemporary world outlook and people who consider themselves contemporary, no less than there is good and bad in the traditional outlook and people who consider themselves traditional.

    But Heilman has long sided with the former so he only attacks the latter. His antipathy toward Jews to the right of him is well known.
    To me, a fundamentalist includes someone who wages an often single-minded, intense attack against someone else — even if the attacker is “contemporary” while the atteackee is “trandtional.”

    Of course there are extremists in the Torah world. No one denies that. But there are extremists of the contemporary approach too — including academicians — and, IMO, it is no better or worse than the traditional approach; just different, with pluses and minuses.

    Are “contemporary-minded” fundamentalists any less fundamentalists because they wage their intense battle against forces in the traditional world that, in their view, seek to undermine or to defile the world as they see it?

    Heilman has a bone to pick. Fine. Everyone knows that (or should know that). The Jewish Observer raked him over the coals a few years back. Fine. He has a chip on his shoulder.

    The sad thing for someone like me, however, is that I can and do sometimese agree with some of his findings. But he’s long ago drawn the line, and his viewpoint, which invariably includes attacks against Jews to the right of him is almost as predictable, one-dimenstional, single-minded and fundamentalistic in it own way as those he regularly seeks to excoriate.

  60. Baruch Horowitz
    June 26th, 2006 @ 11:29 pm

    DK,

    1) Don’t be too sure that Jews who call themselves Modern Orthodox do not qualify as having some “fundamentalist” characteristics:

    From Wikepedia:

    “Fundamentalists believe their cause to have grave and even cosmic importance. They see themselves as protecting not only a distinctive doctrine, but also a vital principle…”

    “For religious fundamentalists, sacred scripture is considered the authentic and literal word of God. Since Scripture is considered the word of God, fundamentalists believe that no person has the right to change it or disagree with it. As a result, people are obliged to obey the word of God. ”

    2) I am not a sociologist, but I think that you will agree that sociology is not an exact science, with a lot depending upon the views of the sociologists in question. Marvin Schick and Samuel Heilman’s personal views will affect whether they consider charedim fundamentalists or not. Society’s conventions change, and with them do the views of sociologists. I, for one, am not afraid to ignore the definition “accepted by most sociologists”.

    Note, that the Associated Press’ AP Stylebook recommends that the term fundamentalist should not be used for any group that does not apply the term to itself(agreed, this would include Hamas terrorists).

    3) Rabbi Avi Shafran, in a response to Professor Heilman’s essay has written:

    “If acceptance of the Torah as G-d’s unparalleled revelation to mankind represents some aberrant, cancerous “fundamentalism,” then Jewish luminaries from Rabbi Akiva to Maimonides to the Vilna Gaon to the Chafetz Chaim to Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein to Rabbi Joseph Dov Soloveitchik – not to mention every religious Jew throughout the ages and every Orthodox Jew today, must be consigned no less to the “fundamentalist” camp……”

    “But if one believes that the Torah is divine, and that it enjoins Jews to study and observe its laws, that it guides them to better their interhuman relationships, that it requires them to forgo some of what the larger world might deem acceptable, that it asks Jews to remain apart from the nations even as it demands they be a light unto them, then, no, that conviction threatens no one.”

    4) Look at it this way:

    Boston Globe’s ombudsman outrageously writes:

    “To tag Hamas, for example, as a terrorist organization is to ignore its far more complex role in the Middle East drama… One person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter; it’s not for journalists to judge… The wisdom of this approach is, understandably, the subject of renewed debate in the wake of the recent, horrible bus bombing in Jerusalem that killed 21 people… But I cast my lot with those who believe the current approach …. is a necessary accommodation in a complicated world.”

    As a “quiescent” fundamentalist, I would say that the world media will need to give a Divine accounting(“din v’chesbon”) for indirectly abetting terrorism, by using the above standard to describe Hamas.

    But the point is, that if the media can follow this absurd convention for the sewers of society(i.e., Hamas murders), why can’t scholars follow the same convention of sensitivity regarding the use of fundamentalism for their own co-religionists?

    5) As I see it, it all boils down to sensitivity. While the doctrine of Modern Orthodoxy would be less described by sociologists as fundamentalism than charedi-Orthodoxy , those to the “right” of Modern Orthodoxy can surely come up with several uncomplimentary terms which would stereotype, polarize, and paint Modern Orthodox philosophy, in its relationship between Judaism and secular culture, with a broad brush. However, I do not wish to stoop to that level. I think that stereotyping is unfair, no matter which side does it.

    I honestly try to picture myself in the mindset of a Modern Orthodox writer(see my comment # 51), but even so, in an age where popular opinion associates fundamentalists with Hamas murders, I can not picture myself branding my Chardie brethren as “fundamentalits” — “quiescent”, or otherwise.

  61. Ora
    June 27th, 2006 @ 5:41 am

    DK–Like you, Heilman never really gives a concrete definition of “fundamentalism”–he prefers flinging it insultingly at pretty much everyone but himself. However, from reading his comments about Gush Emunim and Chabad, it appears that they are “fundamentalist” because they believe in Mashiach/Geula, believe that they can actively try to perfect the world to bring geula closer, and believe that they are following Hashem’s will as expressed in “holy writ.” How do Modern Orthodox not fit that definition? Everyone Orthodox believes in Mashiach. Everyone Orthodox believes that we know G-d’s will for us, namely, that we do mitzvot. Also, everyone who prays “Aleinu” (and many other traditional prayers) is praying for the time when our truth will be recognized as the only truth–another key element of Heilman’s fundamentalism. Heilman chooses not to attack modern orthodoxy because that’s apparently the group he identifies with; but his definition could still apply to them as well as it did to the entire rest of the religious Jewish world.

    Try to look at this from an outside perspective:
    Modern Orthodox: Believe that they know the Truth (Torah), believe in things like pure/impure and treif/kosher, believe that as Jews, they must date/marry only within their own group, that gay relationships are forbidden by G-d, believe that some day all peoples will recognize and worship their G-d, believe that doing irrational commandments will somehow bring spiritual (and someday physical) redemption. Wear jeans and usually go to university.
    Haredim: Exactly the same, except wear black pants and only sometimes go to university (AHHH FUNDAMENTALISTS SAVE ME!!!111!!).

    From a secular, liberal perspective both groups are old-fashioned, out of touch with modern liberal values, and close-minded. Of course, I don’t agree with this perspective, but hopefully it will help clarify my earlier point: if haredim, hassidim, and pretty much all Israeli orthodox are to be considered “fundamentalists/extremists,” Modern Orthodox Americans can only point fingers for so long before the same accusations will be hurled at them (for that matter, as I said, there are already many Jews and non-Jews who accuse all Orthodox of being fundamentalist/extremist/dogmatic/what have you).

    Aside from the logical flaws, Heilman also just makes up several of his base assumptions from thin air. Gush Emunim believes primarily in the settlements, and all other mitzvot are pushed aside? News to me (btw, the Isreali government loves to blame “fanatics” for the settlements, but the truth is that the settlements were primarily built and supported by the governments (both labor and likud). Now they want to distance themselves, fine, but don’t buy into their motzei shem ra about the settlers so fast). Haredim believe that the Modern Orthodox are “the incarnation of folly, duplicity, and hypocrisy?” Again, news to me.

    Seriously, this guy is one of the ones who make all of the “social sciences” look bad. No surveys, no historical facts or trends, no concrete definitions. Just lots of hysterical finger-pointing, with his own definitions of others’ identity and baseless assumptions providing his thesis. So my question/challenge remains, DK: what is YOUR definition of fundamentalist? And how on earth are you going to find one that includes everyone but yourself? Still waiting.

  62. DK
    June 27th, 2006 @ 3:06 pm

    Baruch Horowitz and Ora,

    Both of you are trying to obscure the significant differences between religious and Charedi here where it suits you, in terms of the definition of Fundamentalism, in order to preserve a Manichean world of secular vs. religious. I don’t care what liberal lay people might think. In fact, most non-Orhtodox Jews I have met in New York clearly understand there is a difference between Modern Orthodox Jews and Haredim just as they understand there is common ground.

    The idea that Rav J.B Soloveitchik could be considered a “fundamentalist” is sheer nonsense. He is held with great suspicion in the Haredi world because he was exactly NOT that.

    Now I am not interested in defining activist fundanmntalism because that is much easier. I think most of us would be able to agree about defining characteristics of activist fundamentalim no matter what the NY Times or some academic apologist says — so here are some definitions I might suggest for quiescent fundamentalist:

    1) Viewing science as hostile to your religion

    2) Viewing secular knowledge and education generally as dangerous.

    3) Falsely choosing to view exceptional cases in the “secular world” as emblematic of the secular world in its entirety

    4) Dressing in a manner specifically inappropriate to your climate, such as black hats (or fur hats) in the summer.

    5) Promoting a lifesyle that incurs poverty among many of its members.

    6) Selective retireval, and deemphasis of previously universally held notions by the religious group as a whole in reaction to a secular movement, such as the study of the laws of grammar and the Hebrew language generally.

    7) Greater and brand spanking new laws of stringency, such as declaring unflitered water no longer kosher. No, this particular new concern is not being followed by the rank and file of the Modern Orthodox.

    8) Banning forms of communication because they are “dangerous.”

    Want more?

  63. suomynona
    June 27th, 2006 @ 3:49 pm

    DK, those aren’t definitions, they are examples of things you don’t agree with. I know that many a skater kid will wear his wool hat in the summer, does that make him a fundi?

  64. Bob Miller
    June 27th, 2006 @ 4:01 pm

    DK,

    Why do you care how this or that group is labeled by itself or by others? They will do what they see as right regardless.

    What possible good effect will your repeated stabs at categorization have?

    As for your item 4), You might look really sharp in a shtreimel!

  65. Baruch Horowitz
    June 27th, 2006 @ 4:27 pm

    DK,

    I would like to respond to your points. However to save time for both of us, I want to respond to all of your points at once. Therefore, if you indeed have additional major examples of what you perceive as fundamentalisim–quiescent, or active for that matter, please list them indeed! :)

  66. Ora
    June 27th, 2006 @ 7:02 pm

    DK–That’s still not a definition; it’s just a set of identifying marks (in your opinion, that is). It doesn’t tell me what makes someone a fundamentalist, only how to recognize him (or her) as such. Anyone can write a list like that, and make it describe whichever groups they wish it to describe, but that doesn’t mean that there’s any underlying logic. Why do you feel that davka those actions characterize fundamentalists?

    Also, the list itself: None of those statements apply to Gush Emunim (who were considered “fundamentalists” by the article you linked). Some could easily apply to the secular world; the young women I’ve seen waiting outside of NYC clubs in winter were definitely dressed inappropriately for their climate, and stereotyping entire groups based on “exceptional cases” is pretty much a universal human failing. Certainly not all of the statements apply to the haredim who I know (which is of course not all haredim, but still a sizable sample): most have higher degrees in some secular subject, and have books/magazines on science in their homes so are presumably not “threatened.”

    In short, I haven’t met anyone who fits all of your statements, and I’ve met people from all walks of life (including MO) who meet one or two, so I don’t think your list is useful in tracking down fundamentalists. Or is there a some way of scoring (eg. two statements apply, you’re still cool, five, you’re definitely a fundy, etc.)?

    Also, unfiltered water isn’t kosher??? I’ve never met anyone who holds by that, and I know some people who were very careful with kashrut–is this a regional thing?

    Finally, I realize that there are differences between modern orthodox and haredi. However, I stand by my statement that many, many people would consider BOTH groups fundamentalists, because both are based on values and laws which are radically different from those of secular Western society. And they could even make lists to tell you why.

  67. DK
    June 27th, 2006 @ 7:45 pm

    suomynona, you said,

    “DK, those aren’t definitions, they are examples of things you don’t agree with. I know that many a skater kid will wear his wool hat in the summer, does that make him a fundi?”

    Well, Suomynona,

    There is motive needed as well. If a skater kid is not wearing the hat to belong to a Very Religious community by wearing a garment not mandatory according to classic theological teaching, then he is not a fundamentalist.

    That doesn’t mean that if a Satmar man is wearing a fur hat in 99 degree weather in Miami, he is NOT acting like a fundamentalist. The skater does not change this.

    So too, if a religious cult arises out of thin air and begins sacrificing goats, they are not a fundamentalist group because they are not an ancient religion becoming increasingly strict or militant.

    So too when some shprintze goes to the club in a little bitty dress in the middle of winter, she is not a religious fundamentalist. Motive is important, as well as history and change.

    Okay, guys?

    Ora,

    You are absolutely missing the point. There is a difference between traditional Judaism and Fundamentalist Judaism.

    If you want a general discription of quiescent Jewish fundamentalism, it would be those Jewish religious groups which seek an enclave existence.

    You also said,

    “Also, unfiltered water isn’t kosher??? I’ve never met anyone who holds by that, and I know some people who were very careful with kashrut–is this a regional thing?”

    You bet it isn’t! Water is now very, very questionable if coming unfiltered from NYC. Welcome to New York metro, where there is always a new chumra to be discovered!

    You said,

    “Also, the list itself: None of those statements apply to Gush Emunim (who were considered “fundamentalists” by the article you linked).”

    I said I was only going to tackle QUIESCENT fundamentalists. I think we all can appreciate ACTIVIST Fundamentalists.

    You said,

    “Certainly not all of the statements apply to the haredim who I know (which is of course not all haredim, but still a sizable sample): most have higher degrees in some secular subject, and have books/magazines on science in their homes so are presumably not “threatened.”

    There is a level of fundamentalism, and they are not all the same. Some are more traditional, some more fundamentalist. It is not a nice neat line.

    And the problem is where BT’s are taught that a fundamentalist strain of Judaism is the same as traditional Judaism.

    They are not one and the same.

    The fundamentalist B’nai Torah movement really only became like it is today after WWII. It was not the same even in its inception, when Chaim of Volozhin began the yeshiva system for Intellectual elites.

    The chassidic movement (a modern movement anyway) was also very different before the war.

    These are both–to a large degree–modern fundamentalist movements.

    And they are frequently portrayed as Normative Judaism.

    This is historically impossible.

  68. Bob Miller
    June 27th, 2006 @ 8:23 pm

    DK,

    What are your personal credentials to pass judgment credibly on any of these issues?

  69. Baruch Horowitz
    June 27th, 2006 @ 8:54 pm

    I continue to maintain that your position betrays a lack of sensitivity and compassion. Moreover, it appears to me that it reflects an intellectual rigidity, and an inability to enter the mind frame of another member of Klal Yisroel. I have attempted to enter the mind-frame of others that do not share my own hashkafa , and I invite you to do the same as far as the charedi mindset is concerned.

    The people of your community with whom I have come in contact with, have never used the ad hominem term which you continue to use. Professor Heilman’s position on charedim represents an extreme formulation– even among modern orthodoxy– which is perceived by charedim as an attempt to caricature and demonize them.

    To quote Rabbi Avi Shafran:

    “But simply utilizing the word “fundamentalist” to describe the contemporary yeshiva world – at a time when the epithet is so readily associated with bloodthirsty Islamists bent on the conquest of western civilization – is something of a violent act in itself.

    “And by referring to the yeshiva world as a “stage” and a “phase” of something more sinister – the “active” form of “fundamentalism” that seeks to “liquidate those forces that oppose the truth” – the professor makes all too clear that he actually believes haredim pose a societal threat”

    Your particular definitions of extremism are arbitrary, and suit your particular religous comfort level. Rabbeinu Yonah(Sharei Teshuva) enjoins us to recognize the Avodas Hashem sentiments in those who have a more religious approach than we may personally have. Why can’t respecting the dress code of others in the summer be reflective of this concept ?

    Regarding your example of water, this is an Halachic issue. No less a Modern Orthodox organization than the OU, in a public discussion of the issue, treated both sides of the question seriously. Besides creating arbitrary parameters for your definition, you are mixing Halacha into the sociological genre of fundamentalism. Should not the opinion of a Posek count?

    Different students of Rabbi Soleveitchick interpret his statements differently. Does not the following words from a discussion of heresy(based on Maimonides), given by the Rav at an RCA convention sound awfully fundamentalist? Is it not oxymoronic for a “non-fundamentalist” to talk of the practical applications of heresy?

    “… He who denies the perfection and the truthfulness of chachmei chazal — not of the Torah, but of the chachmei chazal as personalities, as real persona as far as their character, their philosophy, or their outlook on the world is concerned — is a kofer.”

    Bear in mind that the sociological definition of fundamentalism is arbitrary. You apparently feel that Modern Orthodoxy(and your particular formulation thereof) represents the perfect balance in religion. However in reality, it is a subjective attempt to find a balance between religious dualism on the first, most extreme, end of the pole, and religious schizophrenia, on the other, most extreme, end. Those to the left of you feel that your position is just as dualistic as that of the Chardeim. And if you take the liberty of demonizing the position of those to the right of you as fundamentalist, what is to stop those to the right of you from in turn demonizing your position as well, and calling it religious schizophrenia?

    Regarding your points concerning the relationship between science, secular studies, and Judaism, it is indeed complicated, and I don’t think anyone has found the perfect balance. However, the efforts to preserve the Judaism for eternity, have nothing to do with fundamentalism, anymore than the fact that a particular person who may need to strengthen his or her need for the appreciation of mesorah or kedushah, should be tagged as a religious schizophrenic.

    The imperative to be fair, positive, compassionate, and avoid simplistic stereotyping, should relate to both sides in the discussion. Only then can one have meaningful and constructive dialogue, which will hopefully lead to achdus and ahavas yisroel.

  70. DK
    June 27th, 2006 @ 9:24 pm

    Bob Miller, you asked

    “What are your personal credentials to pass judgment credibly on any of these issues?”

    Bob, I attended BT yeshivas, and then went to YU, and then took a graduate level class “Comparative Fundamentalism” given by Dr. Samuel Heilman.

    Baruch Horowitz,

    You noted this point in R. Shafran’s criticism of the term, “fundamentalist.”

    “But simply utilizing the word “fundamentalist” to describe the contemporary yeshiva world – at a time when the epithet is so readily associated with bloodthirsty Islamists bent on the conquest of western civilization – is something of a violent act in itself.

    This is as unacceptable a protest as saying it is wrong to call Orthodox Jews “religious,” since plenty of other people of other faiths have done terrible things in defense of being “religious.”

    More importantly, Dr. Heilman is quite clear in the difference between activist and quiescent fundamentalisms. To pretend he isn’t is dishonest.

    Addionally, I never claimed MO is perfect . Far from it. I am saying that traditiona; Judaism and a traditional Jewish lifestyle were not normatively fundamentalist.

    You said, about the water filter issue,

    “Besides creating arbitrary parameters for your definition, you are mixing Halacha into the sociological genre of fundamentalism.”

    What kind of question is this? If it’s a new halacha, it gets a pass from a sociological perspective? Not a chance. You don’t get to suddenly outlaw water as treif after 5,000 years and not have it noticed. No way.

    You said,

    “Regarding your points concerning the relationship between science, secular studies, and Judaism, it is indeed complicated, and I don’t think anyone has found the perfect balance.”

    I don’t know what your point is, but I would say one of the worst ways to deal with that “relationship” is to declare science itself an enemy, and start offering fantastic nonsensical explanations as to why there are these dinosaur bones. This is done in certain Haredi circles. It is fundamentalist.

    As for your quote from The Rav, I need to see it in context, but it doesn’t sound particularly fundamentalist at all, as it doesn’t translate into either activist or quiescent policy. For instance, there is no evidence that when modern science countered the science of the Talmud, the Rav would insist that the modern science was wrong because of the greatness of sages from previous ages. We need to no what he meant by this in terms of policy. I’m guessing not anything to earth shaking, but just calling for respect.

    You said,

    “And if you take the liberty of demonizing the position of those to the right of you as fundamentalist, what is to stop those to the right of you from in turn demonizing your position as well, and calling it religious schizophrenia?”

    They are doing this anyway without a counter-attack from the MO.

    You said,

    “Professor Heilman’s position on charedim represents an extreme formulation– even among modern orthodoxy– which is perceived by charedim as an attempt to caricature and demonize them.”

    You obviously haven’t read his books. He tries hard to be accurate and fair, and he actually likes them, especially certain Chassidic groups, and this comes through clearly, particularly in his narratives. But he still considers them to be fundamentalists.

    You wrote,

    “However, the efforts to preserve the Judaism for eternity, have nothing to do with fundamentalism…”

    They have EVERYTHING to do with fundamentalism.

  71. Baruch Horowitz
    June 27th, 2006 @ 11:46 pm

    At this point, I think we have both elaborated upon our views. As I said, I consider offensive the usage of the term fundamentalist in any which way, in connection with Charedim. Why doesn’t Professor Heilman ask Charedim if they enjoy being described as “quiescent fundamentalists”? There are after all, at least some Charedim, that are pretty nice guys. As I said, even if I were Modern Orthodox,and I was trying to make a strong point, I could not see myself using such language.

    I don’t think that such terminology–which you phrase as a “counter-attack from the MO”– will be helpful in increasing Ahavas Yisroel. There are more effective ways to express your concerns–even strongly– than by using language which others find to be incendiary. Granted, attacks from the RW are also problematic in this regard.

    BTW, the quote from Rav Soleveitchik was in the context of a speech which he gave during the 1970′s concerning the immutability of the halachos of giitin and kiddushin–I don’t have the full text. You can probably find someone familiar with the lecture who can judge if my remarks are relevant to the topic here(I think that they are).

    Anyhow, I have certainly not argued here in the spirit of rancor. I hope that you have found this exchange with me– a self-identifying semi-yeshivish, but entirely quiescent, fundamentalist– to be enlightening and edifying. :)

  72. DK
    June 28th, 2006 @ 12:04 am

    Baruch Horowitz,

    Happy to agree to disagree. ;)

  73. Ora
    June 28th, 2006 @ 5:27 am

    DK–I know you weren’t actually calling immodestly dressed women, or wool-hat-wearing skater boys, religious fundamentalists. However, the fact that your list could also fit these people shows that the list itself is flawed without some additional explanation of the definition of fundamentalist (which you’ve still managed to avoid giving). Same with this “active” vs. “quiescent” business–if they are characterized by completely different behaviors, why are both “fundamentalist?” What’s the underlying factor leading to the catagorization?

    You say that getting upset over the word “fundamentalist” would be like getting upset over the word “religious.” Please. “Religious,” while sometimes applicable to violent groups, still has positive connotations. “Fundamentalist” does not, and is used almost exclusively in debates, as a way of instantly discrediting the other (ex, when someone says “Islamic fundamentalists,” they are implying that these are people who cannot be reasoned with).

    To me, it sounds like fundamentalist is actually the opposite of what you’re trying to say about Haredim. Christian fundamentalists are those who rely on the literal meaning of the words in the Bible, without any new ideas or explanations. OTOH, you seem upset with Haredim davka for adding to religion, not for dogmatic insistence on sticking to the original version.

    Here is the major difference between the Jews you’re willing to describe as fundamentalist (ie, everyone but the Modern Orthodox) and Christian and Islamic fundamentalists: the Jewish groups accept other behaviors. That is, an Islamic fundamentalist would want all women to be forced to wear burkas, and might even attack those who didn’t, as has happened in many countries. A Jewish Haredi group might think that their particular form of dress is the most modest, but they won’t try forcing others to wear all dark colors in the summer or whatever. I can walk into a haredi neighborhood in obviously non-haredi dress and get no criticism. Ditto on other issues. I assume “banning forms of communication” means the internet ban (in which case it’s important to remember that even communities with this ban only banned home use, for those who don’t need it for work, in homes with children). Again, nobody is saying that that’s the only way to be religious, or that it’s normative halacha. Unlike others who have been called “fundamentalists,” haredim are perfectly willing to admit that what they’re doing are chumrot. They may see them as very necessary chumrot, but they don’t try to claim that it’s halacha. It makes a big difference.

    About water: Nobody said that water is treif. They said that NYC water might be treif before being filtered. And MO rabbis shared this concern, because it was based on actual halacha and not stam deciding ‘hey let’s add something.’ So it shouldn’t have anything to do with the fundamentalist debate–it was a regional concern, shared by many groups.

    Basically, I find your insistance on calling every Jewish religious group but your own “fundamentalist” both ridiculous and offensive. Remember, this isn’t just haredim, it’s also almost all Israeli orthodox. Doesn’t it just get silly at some point? If you wanted to call 5 or 10% fundies, OK maybe, but this is the definite majority of religious Jews. Does that not seem at all strange to you?

    Dr. Heilman’s definitions, which you seem to be using, simply don’t apply to the groups that he’s trying to apply them to. He is clearly an outsider trying to guess at others’ motivations, which is a highly inaccurate way to study sociology. If he asked actual religious settlers why they are against the destruction of settlements, I doubt that they would really say “because it would retard the redemption.” Almost all would give reasons of security and morality, not messianism. Being called names is one thing, being called names by someone who didn’t even bother to make the most basic efforts to actually understand the issues is worse. And again, offensive. And the fact that you took a class with this guy is IMO not at all a credential, unless the rest of his work is much more intelligent and well researched.

  74. Bob Miller
    June 28th, 2006 @ 7:57 am

    DK said:
    “Bob, I attended BT yeshivas, and then went to YU, and then took a graduate level class “Comparative Fundamentalism” given by Dr. Samuel Heilman.”

    Based on this, I can see that DK is a loyal talmid of his rebbe, Dr. Heilman, so I understand (but disagree with) DK’s position.

    This points to the destructive effect Dr. Heilman, the reputed expert on Orthodox sociology, has had on the conversation among Orthodox groups. He and the other provocateurs should be happy we’re “quiescent”.

  75. Jacob Haller
    June 28th, 2006 @ 12:06 pm

    If we haven’t yet exhausted this thread…..

    The term “fundamentalist” has been batted around here for several postings.

    Could some qualified source (and assuming it’s applicable to this post) please provide an even-tempered, analytical and informative piece on what defines “Modern Orthodoxy”.

    Ideally, the definition should include not only “sefer-centric” hashkafa, but if possible to include certain aspects of the lifestyle, workaday issues and overall rhythms that makes it a unique entity? Is it a unique entity?

    At present, I always relied on Rav Aharon Lichtenstein’s “Torah U’Maddah” but I acknowledge that perhaps one work can’t complete the job of defining the movement. So please fill in the blanks, if any.

    What does it mean to be an affiliate of this movement, assuming it can be defined as such?

    One caveat is not to equate and define the term “comparative” as hurling abusive discourse at other groups. Likely a challenge for some. Hopefully not insurmountable.

    Any takers?

  76. Yaakov Grant
    June 28th, 2006 @ 12:32 pm

    I’m not qualified but I’ll have a take.

    Based on my own experience and what I’ve read and heard from Rabbi Avigdor Miller zt’l, the key to being MO is not seeing anything bad in TV, Radio, secular newspapers or Zionism. Then again if anyone thinks I’m intolerant I’ll doubt if I could convince them as I havent had much success to date – see my post #39

  77. Jaded Topaz
    June 28th, 2006 @ 12:35 pm

    Ora, if you’re so offended by the concept of calling any religious sects fundamentalists cuz of the negative connotations you associate with the concept , why are you quick to classify modern orthodox in your comment # 56 as “potential fundamentalists”. In comment #56 you seem to be under the impression and “sure that many people actually would define them as such”. Also – In life -it’s very important to practice equal opportunity tagging.

    One other quick point – when you say that a Chareidi group acknowledges their chumrah’s and would not force others to adhere to the same strict dress-codes who exactly are you referring to when you say “others”? Should you happen to exist somewhere as a chareidi kid- I can assure you, you would not be getting dress code options with chumrah loophole information , and same applies for corresponding Chareidi schools plenty of “forcing” going on with the pure and unadulterated chumrahs. OK, you can argue that school is a choice but NO it’s not considered a choice for the younger children.

    Same applies for adults co-existing in a Chareidi community. Many times the chumrah’s are mandatory or you get thrown out of the community .On your next visit to the states I can give you a road-trip tour of two quaint communities that do this on a consistent basis the results would make great material for new age sociology studies.

    Its important to know this stuff just as an FYI for those considering the Chareidi Lifestyle – not that there is anything wrong with that .Its an awesome way to live for individuals that thrive on extreme structure.and close knit communities and corresponding rules and regulations.

  78. Jacob Haller
    June 28th, 2006 @ 12:46 pm

    Yaakov,

    This really wasn’t what I was looking for. As much as I appreciate Rav Miller’s zt’l contributions, your presentation of this supposed quote is based on many assumptions.

    It also doesn’t address the hashkafa of the MO Manhigim and the results they’re looking for.

    For example, I know that Rav Soloveitchik zt’l had many reservations about Zionism and often questioned its necessity vis-a-vis the Jewish people’s connection to Eretz Yisroel.

    Also, I heard that at a recent Edah convention, YU’s Rabbi Saul Berman recommended that TV sets have no rightful place in a Jewish home. So let’s include some nuance.

    Taking this into consideration, if one wants to define the balabatim who in one way or another associate with MO as practicing the habits expressed above (which could be a gross generalization and assumption), then that’s one issue. Conversely, there’s unfortunately a share of “black hatters” who don’t conduct themselves in line with the aitzos expressed by Rav Miller or the Roshei Yeshivos. Thus, they should not be examples to define they’re respective movement either.

  79. Jacob Haller
    June 28th, 2006 @ 1:10 pm

    JT wrote

    “OK, you can argue that school is a choice but NO it’s not considered a choice for the younger children.”

    JT, when children are thrown into the mix, it likely creates an emotional element that only causes digression from a sober discussion and exchange of ideas. While you may not have intended this, to me it’s an inevitable result.

    The topic of child rearing is probably beyond the scope of this string if not this blogsite itself but hopefully some health food for thought.

    Using “but the children didn’t choose to/may not want to” tactic is used by many including from those who have objected to Orthodoxy in general whether it was over a Bris Milah or denying the opportunity of Saturday baseball games or forcing on the boys the burden of a yarmulke, peyos and its potential hazards.

    In Samuel Freedman’s “Jew vs Jew”. One anecdote centers around a small suburban Orthodox community who in a New York milieu would likely be defined as “modern” but in a non-Orthodox Midwest environment they’re viewed as Medieval curmudgeon fascists.

    I’m assuming you’re not advocating some postmodernist new age approach to parenting which means no decision making, no mores, no guidelines, creating literally a babe in the woods?

  80. Jaded Topaz
    June 28th, 2006 @ 1:41 pm

    Jacob – no kids sidetracking intended. I dont even have any kids to base any experience off of .I was just pointing out that sometimes the chareidi lifestyle may indeed be forced upon individuals by default depending on the current state of being or current state of residing among other variables.The not forcing facet was erroneously tagged to the chareidi lifestyle concept.

  81. DK
    June 28th, 2006 @ 2:12 pm

    Ora,

    See the bold in comment 67 for a general overview of a quiescent fundamentalist community.

    You said,

    “However, the fact that your list could also fit these people shows that the list itself is flawed without some additional explanation of the definition of fundamentalist (which you’ve still managed to avoid giving).”

    You are right. Since secular nationalist Japanese did suicide missions with planes, we can’t say our “relgious” muslim flight school graduate tourists were “fundamentalist,” since their actions were not unique.

    Obiviously motive is not an acceptable differentiation if the actions are similar to non-fundamentalists.

    Not. That doesn’t cut it, Ora. If the motive is very religious, then the action may mean something religious. The flight school graduates were fundamentalists, and their actions expressions of their activist fundamentalism. Even if others have done the same sort of thing for a different reason.

    The chassidim wear fur in the summer in Miami because of quiescent fundamentalist inspiration. The skater does so for a very different reason. Accept that. His wool garment does not detract from the quiescent fundamentalist motive of the chassidic fur wearers.

    You said,

    “Christian fundamentalists are those who rely on the literal meaning of the words in the Bible, without any new ideas or explanations.”

    Well, I would say those Jews who insist on six days literally being six days are also taking a literal interpretation of the Torah. Same with those who insist the world is literally 5766 years old. This is a major, if not ubiquitous, division between MO and Haredi. For instance, the OU has “no position” on how old the earth is. Many charedim have a definitive position. The same one as certain Christian fundamentalist groups.

    You wrote,

    “an Islamic fundamentalist would want all women to be forced to wear burkas, and might even attack those who didn’t, as has happened in many countries.”

    Then they aren’t quiescent fundamentalists. You don’t have to slam airplanes into very tall buildings to be an activist fundamentalist. They are activist fundamentalists, as they are attempting to impose their will on the public space.

    You said,

    “Here is the major difference between the Jews you’re willing to describe as fundamentalist (ie, everyone but the Modern Orthodox) and Christian and Islamic fundamentalists: the Jewish groups accept other behaviors.”

    All quiescent fundamentalists accept others behaviors provided they are not inflicted on their community. For instance, Bob Jones University does not demand that U.S. citizens follow their recipe for racial separation or live their lifestyle. There is no threat, nor are they hateful towards others with a different lifestyle and belief system, even if they think they are right and everyone else is wrong. But they are fundamentalists. Quiescent fundamentalists.

    You said,

    “Basically, I find your insistance on calling every Jewish religious group but your own “fundamentalist” both ridiculous and offensive. Remember, this isn’t just haredim, it’s also almost all Israeli orthodox.”

    Not really. Not all the Israeli Orthodox are Charedi by any means, and the messianic Zionists within the settler community are not the majority of the “religious Zionists.”

    You said,

    “Almost all would give reasons of security and morality, not messianism.”

    Yes. Intense Messianism is always a characteristic of “activist” fundamentalism, not quiescent fundamentalism. For instance, Chabad is interesting in that it has both quiescent and activist strains of fundamentalism.

    Spiritual protection and fear of relatively rampant and ubiquitous immorality is always the justification for an Enclave bulwark against the outside world for the quiescent fundamentalist community.

    Both quiescent and activist groups share:

    Selective retrieval of text

    Acceptance of literal explanations

    Belief in a unique spiritual evil of “our generation.”

    A “you are with us or against us” method for evaluating a group or individual. (Yes, other groups do that as well, including radically secular groups.)

    Belief they are in an ESCALATED spiritual war.

    Consider non-fundamentalist traditionalists their prime competitor, and wage some sort of campaign against their legitimacy. For instance, a leading quiescent Jewish leaders publicly denouncing the former dean of YU as a “hater of G-d” would be an example of waging a campaign against their legitimacy.

    Where activists and quiescent fundamentalist diverge is how they deal with the spiritual war in the Modern World.

    Activists attempt to change the public space.

    Quiescents attempt to retreat within an enclave existence.

    Bob Miller, you wrote,

    “He and the other provocateurs should be happy we’re “quiescent”.”

    What are you talking about? With what mandate would Jews in the Diaspora have to attempt take over the public space? It would be a recipe for disaster. There is no threat of such a thing on a large scale in the Diaspora. Only in Israel.

  82. Baruch Horowitz
    June 28th, 2006 @ 2:16 pm

    Yaakov,

    I reread your comments #39, and I agree with them. Having this attitude leads to shalom, but of course, this is easier said than done.

    I agree also that people should not take sides in machlokes between gedolim.

    However, can you clarify what you meant by “which should not let this into our inner lives, because we wont understand it on our level”?

    I think that people can, and should have some understanding of decisions made by Gedolie Torah on their own level as well. Thoughtful people probably would want to have this understanding.

    The issue, as I see it, is how to discuss the topic. I.e., one should not say or imply that one is capable of authoritatively taking sides(being a “bar plugta”). Also, the issue is if it is appropriate to raise the topic in a public forum, as opposed to a small discussion group with a mentor.

    For example, a few years ago, there was an issue of attending a rally in Washington for Eretz Yisroel(FWIW, I went on a bus together with others from the broader Charedi community to this rally; I went as well to the one in Manhattan a week later). There was more than one opinion given by Rabbonim on the question. Now, this issue was discussed by some in the public media, and apparently, the results of that discussion were not beneficial, in more than one way.

    However, as to actually understanding the issue, a spokesman from the Charedi community wrote an essay explaining clearly both sides of the question. So I think that it is important for people to try to understand the issues and deliberations relating to the positions and decisions of Gedolie Torah.

    I would also add, that askonim who work with Gedolie Torah have written that they have realized the depth of positions taken by Gedolim, and that they would not have thought in that particular manner independently. That is why I say that even when trying to understand a position taken by Torah leaders, one should realize the possibility that there might be more to such a position than one understands at a particular moment.

  83. Bob Miller
    June 28th, 2006 @ 2:37 pm

    DK,

    You have to know that there are things you don’t know.

  84. Baruch Horowitz
    June 28th, 2006 @ 2:51 pm

    DK,

    We have agreed to disagree, so I will suffice with just a brief question. How does the quiescent-fundamentalist theory view a universally recognized Torah leader from say, one hunded years ago, or even from before that period, who falls into the category of a
    “quiescent fundeamentalist”?

    Does Dr. Heilman assert that there were no instances prior to current American Jewish life of quiescent fundamentalism, or does he, for some reason, not apply the fudamentalist appelation to leaders of prior generations? If he also considers Gedolie Torah–past or present– to be quiescent fundamentalists, is this not disrespectful?

  85. DK
    June 28th, 2006 @ 3:08 pm

    Baruch Horowitz,

    I would refer you to Haym Soloveitchik’s essays on the subject.

    One issue would be a new insistence on seeking “maximum compliance” instead of say, personal family minhag. A famous example he brings is the Chazon Ish shiur of the amount of matza to eat on Pesach. This took the place of personal minhag for many B’nei Torah.

    The other would be a yeshiva movement that was never mandated for the majority of male adults. This did not exist prior to WWII, although the prototype was there since the Volozhin style modern yeshiva was created, and duplicated with more emphasis on religiousity instead of just scholarship. It is now all but universal in the haredi world. This was a significant change.

  86. Baruch Horowitz
    June 28th, 2006 @ 3:28 pm

    DK,

    Are you referring to his “Rupture and Reconstruction” essay regarding “mimetics” ? I have not read it recently, but I will take a look at it, if this is what you mean.

  87. Baruch Horowitz
    June 28th, 2006 @ 3:36 pm

    DK,

    I meant to say, even if there were changes, this would not have to do with fundamentalisim. Also, why is everyone so sure that there were no “quiescent fundamentalist” to be found in prior generations?

  88. Administrator
    June 28th, 2006 @ 3:46 pm

    We’ve let this play out for some time and defining who and what is a fundamentalist and then stuffing a whole bunch of Jews into that nice neat sterotypical box wears thin, and is really not in the spirit of this site.

    This site tries to recognize and respect the different paths people take in getting closer to Hashem and following His Torah.

    If anybody wants to continue this discussion via email let us know.

  89. Steve Brizel
    June 28th, 2006 @ 3:57 pm

    DK-I have read DCS’s essay . Try reading Dr Judith Bleich’s essay in an Orthodox Forum work on Spirituality and Jewish Law in which IMO she demolishes the main point of his essay. The notion that our European ancestors were more knowledgable or understood why, when and what Tefilah was about besides crying as a folk lore rooted gesture is IMO a flawed notion in DCS’s essay and Dr Heilman’s recent book “Sliding to The Right.” D CS”s essay also ignores the dynamism of Chiddushei Torah in every generation-both lkulah and lchumrah.

    FWIW, it can be argued that since the publication of his books on learning and the Charedim of Jerusalem, that Dr Heilman has displayed a nostalgia for the not so good old days of MO. I have read and re-read his latest book . While there are some intersting tidbits in it, IMO, it is a seriously flawed work.His latest book is also marked by some historical inaccuracies as well. Here are some of the whoppers:

    1) RYBS, as opposed to just RMF, was very against any ecumenical theological dialogue with non-Jewish religious groups.RYBS’s Confrontation and many of his recentlt published letters demonstrate this without any equivocation.

    2) The Synagogue Council of America collapsed because R and C hated the fact that MO groups such as the OU and RCA would threaten to veto any potential discussion on “religious pluralism.”

    3) Dr Heilman all but calls ikarim of our faith such as am segulah, etc as racist. Perhaps, some review of the Rishonim on this area would enlighten him beyond his 20th Century biases.

    4) Dr Heilman bemoans the takeover of MO schools by Charedi trained rebbes and moros. Yet, he offers no suggestion to attract MO trained teaxhers, despite the fact that YU’s own graduate school produces many trained educators who are also Musmachim and Kolleleit of RIETS.

    5) Dr Heilman has a flawed view of RIETS. Contrary to Dr Heilman and many others who share his view, RIETS is not a Beis Charoshes LaRabbanim or rabbinical training factory
    ( That was R Chaim Ozer’ ZTL’s description of a certain yeshiva in pre war Europe that was leagues above a certain yeshiva that purportedly is a LW threat to YU and which really deserves the label-Yeshivat Chovevei Torah.) RIETS is a yeshiva that produces Talmidi Chachamim-some of whom are chaplains, rabbanim, mchanchim and educated Baale Batim and community leaders. Perhaps, Dr Heilman should take a look at the day of a kollelnik in RIETS before he excroriates its RK.

    6) Except for a brief one to two paragraph discussion of NCSY and its qachievements, Dr Heilman essentially ignores the accomplishments of the BT movement.

    7) Dr Heilman purports to compare Williamsburg, Boro Park, Crown Heights and KGH. IMO, KGH cannot be lumped together with the other neighborhoods. It is a unique neighorhood where all of the rabbanim and baale batim work together on Torah, Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim despite hashkafic differences and where the notion of Psak by wall posters is virtually unknown and frowned upon by all of the rabbanim. It is home to rabbanim who are Talmidei Chachamim , diverse and tolerant.AFAIK, one cannot necessarily ascribe these midos to all aspects of the other three kehilos profiled by Dr Heilman.

  90. Baruch Horowitz
    June 28th, 2006 @ 5:49 pm

    If I may add as a closing comment, two practical ways to achieve tolerance:

    (1) If one interacts with people of different groups, and observes their different minhagim and other observances, then it is much easier to respect and appreciate them, than if one just thinks about them in a detached manner. Steve Brizel’s idea of spending some time in a Kollel of another group sounds like a very good one. One can also appreciate Rabbonim from different communities by meeting them, but one has to be considerate of their time constraints. Some schools take children to spend time in different communities for this reason.

    (2) Being the victim of stereotyping is also an excellent way to increase tolerance for others. I am not recommending though that people intentionally look for such situations! However, I have learned from the times when people have unfairly stereotyped me, how wrong it is to stereotype others, and as a result of these negative expeiences, I can more easily relate to people from all walks of life.

    As the tefilah of the Noam Elimelech, Rabbi Elimelech from Lizhensk, states(it is also a popular song, “Aderaba”): “Place in our hearts that everyone of us should perceive the strengths of our peers, and not their weaknesses.”

  91. Ora
    June 28th, 2006 @ 6:36 pm

    DK–Leaving the issue of labels aside, a comment about yeshivot:
    While it’s true that full-time yeshiva learning didn’t happen for most of the population a century ago, I think that the religious world’s ability to change this is an excellent and necessary move. It’s not just the charedim; Jewish education as a whole is much more widespread. In my grandmother’s day most children didn’t even get to go to Jewish schools, now it’s taken for granted that children from Orthodox families–MO, yeshivish, dati leumi, etc–will have a solid religious education. Anyway, to me it’s a great example of how the religious world grows with the secular world. As the world as a whole developed to the point where entrance to the workforce can realistically be pushed off to mid-20s for many people, and education into one’s mid-to-late 20s is common all along the secular-religious spectrum, we’ve taken advantage of it to allow for more and more Torah learning. What’s not to like? Sure, it wasn’t always like this. Which is yet another reason why I feel lucky to be born into this generation.

  92. Baruch Horowitz
    June 28th, 2006 @ 7:06 pm

    ” Which is yet another reason why I feel lucky to be born into this generation.”

    A friend of mine tells me how a Communist Russian-born Rav would come to his Yeshiva every year to raise money for the outreach institution which he headed. Even though the speaker himself was an accomplished Talmid Chochom, at one point during the speech, he would start crying, and tell how bad he felt not knowing basic Mishnayos at the age when people in the audience would know much more. This would happen each year that he came to speak, and the yeshiva students would get an appreciation for the opportunity which they had.

    So it is not such a terrible problem if Torah observance is raised to a level greater than it was during certain specific periods in previous generations. There were times when observance was weak, and in any event, it would seem that we need to try to counter the increasing influences which are not conducive to Torah growth.

  93. DK
    June 28th, 2006 @ 7:08 pm

    Steve,

    I am going to avoid anything to do with the “F” word in order to abide by the wishes of the sites administrators.

    I would just say that it seems to me that avoidance of interfaith dialogue has been a normative Jewish policy since the rather intense fallout following the Ramban’s (was it him?) victorious debate in Spain.

    Ora,

    You asked, “What’s not to like?” about pushing off secular education.

    My answer — Plenty.

  94. anny
    June 28th, 2006 @ 9:39 pm

    Here’s what another prominent blogger, not one know for “haredi views” has to say about Heilman’s work:

    … this nugget in Heilman’s book — an unsourced claim of “reports of well-known Hasidic rabbis who shaved their beards and cut their earlocks and moved to Manhattan.” If it’s unsourced gossip we are looking for, we can read blogs.

    … In the course of describing the “modern Orthodox,” he states: In the last half of the American twentieth century, the cosmopolitan attitudes and desires to illumine and deepen Jewish commitments through the prism of general education that characterized modern Orthodoxy created a population of religiously observant Jews who entered the ranks of the professions and achieved political power and some wealth — all apparently without sacrificing their Orthodoxy. The existence of modern Orthodox physicians, lawyers, politicians, CEOs, successful entrepenuers, and distinguished university professors is no longer astonoshing. By the last decade of the twentieth century, 32 percent of Orthodox Jews were professionals and about 11 pecent managers. According to most recent polls, about 52 percent of American Orthodox Jews had at least one to three years of college. Among those Orthodox Jews who came to America after 1950, the number with college training was even higher, a whopping 81 percent.”. My problems is with associating higher education and employment in the professions as the unique province of Modern Orthodoxy. As anyone in the Orthodox community knows, this is hogwash. In America, the Ultra-Orthodoxy of many, many communities go to college and become “physicians, lawyers, politicians, CEOs, successful entrepenuers, and distinguished university professors.” Is the Dean of Hofstra University School of Law Modern Orthodox? Please. By Heillman’s own count, 81% of Orthodox Jews who “came to America” (born here?) after 1950 went to college. Are all of these people Modern Orthodox?

    Heillman’s statement is part of his overall tendency to associate what he sees as positive in Orthodoxy, with the modern Orthodox and all retrograde, reactionary trends with the Haredim (note his arguable assertion that the attitudes of Modern Orthodoxy “created a population of religiously observant Jews who entered the ranks of the professions and achieved political power and some wealth — all apparently without sacrificing their Orthodoxy”). Unfortunately, this tendency apperars to have contaminated the very categories that underlie his entire analysis.

  95. Steve Brizel
    June 29th, 2006 @ 11:33 am

    DK- The Ramban was summoned to debate the RCC. Although he won the debate, he had to flee because of this victory. R D D Berger wrote his doctoral thesis on other similar debates and their impact on Jewish history.

    FWIW, no Talmid Muvhak of RYBS would agree with your claim that RYBS was not a fundamentalist. While RYBS’s hashkafic writings were never accepted by the Charedi world, RYBS’s shiurim were flocked too by many Yeshivaleit. RYBS opposed the study of Torah via the imposition of any other method than what he called Lomdus. You seem to be unaware of the power that ecumenical theological dialogue developed and continues to do soin the wake of certain statements by other religions-despite the fact that the views in English nowhere approximated the views as stated in the Latin original which RYBS understood to be shmad dressed up in 20th Century verbiage.

    One more point. Dr Heilman and you bemoan clothing that appears to be out of fashion for the summer. First of all, Chazal emphasize dressing in a manner that is uniquely Jewish to avoid assimilation. This statement is part of the Haggadah. More critically, one of the best ways of seeing how American O youth grow up in the US is watching them leave for summer camp. There is nothing more fascinating than seeing a bus departure of post bar mitzvah bachurim with their hockey sticks, baseball gloves and bats and hats or visiting a camp where girls from all economic backgrounds work together on a variety of projects while hiking and white water rafting.

  96. Baruch Horowitz
    June 29th, 2006 @ 12:00 pm

    There is nothing more fascinating than seeing a bus departure of post bar mitzvah bachurim with their hockey sticks, baseball gloves and bats…

    That is true. I also know of a well-known charedi Talmid Chacham who likes to hike in the woods, sometimes. He dresses appropriately–no hat and jacket!

  97. Steve Brizel
    June 29th, 2006 @ 12:44 pm

    Another sociological tidbit that Dr Heilman could have explored but didn’t was the flights of our teens who leave for yeshivos and seminaries and to compare their views and expectations while awaiting departure with their views upon returning back to ChuL. Similarly, Dr Heilman could have spoken with or profiled parents enroute to visiting their children during the midwinter break and their approaches with their children upon their return. .It is fascinating to see a young man in khakis and a sport shirt carrying a hat box and a sefer or a young woman dressed in a tznuadik manner and carrying a Siddur, etc while they meets their parents. It is by no means as simplistic and one-dimensional as set forth in “The Outside World”, a novel that tried, but IMO failed to explore these issues in any understanding of the fact that late adolescence is a time for independence which can manifest itself in spiritual questing and growth.

  98. DK
    June 29th, 2006 @ 2:01 pm

    Steve Brizel,

    You said,

    “First of all, Chazal emphasize dressing in a manner that is uniquely Jewish to avoid assimilation.”

    I think you know the flaw in this argument. There were no fur hats at that time, least of all in the summer. I will concede that their is what to rely on for dressing “uniquely,” though I do not accept that it is by any means mandatory. Only “modestly” is mandatory.

    I definitely do not accept that chazal are advocating dressing in a manner inappropriate to climate conditions. Such a thing only began on a massive level in the latter half of the 20th century, AFAIK.

    You said,

    “You seem to be unaware of the power that ecumenical theological dialogue developed and continues to do so in the wake of certain statements by other religions-despite the fact that the views in English nowhere approximated the views as stated in the Latin original which RYBS understood to be shmad dressed up in 20th Century verbiage.”

    I am not personally casting any opinion on such things. Certainly there are those who find interfaith dialogue helpful. This makes sense. I am only saying that those, like The Rav, who held differently are hardly without precedent.

    As for your claim that The Rav was considered a “fundamentalist” by his students, I think YOU are now conflating religious with fundamentalist.

    I am certainly not EVER going to say The Rav wasn’t sufficiently religious.

    You said,

    “RYBS’s shiurim were flocked too by many Yeshivaleit.”

    That’s what happens when you are understandably considered by many to be the most brilliant talmid chachum of your generation. People of very different outlooks want to study with you.

    And within the B’nai Torah movement, not everything is new. I am not saying that. Lithuanian Jewry was well known for it’s emphasis and excellence in Talmud scholarship. And as we know, The Rav was an heir to that in a major way, and everyone understood that, even his many deractors.

    Steve,

    We disagree on many things. I don’t think we really disagree on the importance or greatness or more perhaps most significantly, the legitimacy of RYBS.

    At this point, we are having what is a very common debate between the Right and Left within Modern Orthodoxy, and this is a debate restricted to the large tent of Modern Orthodoxy. Lakewood kollelniks are not claiming RYBS as theirs.

    Let us instead focus on the important areas we disagree on, instead of understandably falling into the trap of both trying to claim RYBS solely for our own respective camps. We both know there are legitimate claims for each side.

  99. Steve Brizel
    June 29th, 2006 @ 4:20 pm

    DK-We can agree to disagree and continue this dialogue. AFAIK, none of RYBS’s peers disagreed with his stance on ecumenical dialogue, except for perhaps some members of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate and the ecumenical choirs’s members who kvell at photo ops with the Vatican for the readers of the NY Times and viewers of the televised media.I would suggest that you listen to a drasha on Parshas Korach and a shiur on Hilcos Gerus given in the early to kid 70s that illustrate just how opposed RYBS was to a non lomdus based approach to halacha.

    I also disagree with your take on unique and modest Jewish clothing. The Kohen Gadol wore clothing that did not exactly look comfortable but which were considered “lkavod ultiferes.” Rambam prescribes a dress code for Talmidie Chachamim that I am sure did not inlcude T shirts, jeans or flip flops. In fact, Rambam defines the Talmid Chacham’s clthes as distinctive in nature-regardless of the contemporary culture.

    FWIW, I will be posting a far more detailed critique of Dr Heilman’s book and what I consider to be numerous flaws of a historical, methodological, sociological and hashkafic nature. It is sad that such an eminent author could base his conclusions on his own community from websites and posters without spending a day in any Beis Medrash and in particular the RIETS Beis Medrash and its Kollelim. In contrast, his earlier books were far more an authentic portrait of his own inner search for the learnig world and the Charedi world.

  100. Steve Brizel
    July 9th, 2006 @ 12:10 pm

    For those interested, I have posted a short review of Dr Heilman’s “Sliding To The Right” on R Haary Maryles’ blog, Please feel free to comment there or on R Joe Shcick’s blog or via email. Unless Mark or David think that the review is relevant to BT’s readership, I don’t think that posting the review is necessary here. IMO, it would be counterproductive to the goals of BT to discuss the issues that I raised in the review, including questions as to a number of flaws in the hashkafa, methodology , sifting of the historical evidence and analysis presented by Dr Heilman . Unfortunately, I can report that he glosses over the BT movement, in its many manifestations, without any serious discussion.

  101. DK
    July 10th, 2006 @ 2:50 am

    Steve, you said,

    “The Kohen Gadol wore clothing that did not exactly look comfortable but which were considered “lkavod ultiferes.”

    Are you kidding me? Are you seriously saying this proves anything? Are we actually to derive daily dress from what the Kohen Gadol wore to temple service? Where did I advocate shorts and a T-shirt for the conductor of the NY symphony when performing at Lincoln Square? That is sooooo shvach.

    “Rambam prescribes a dress code for Talmidie Chachamim that I am sure did not inlcude T shirts, jeans or flip flops.

    Great — better tell all the sephardim that their ancestors were transgressing if they wore sandals, since they are WAY too close to flip flops.

  102. Steve Brizel
    July 10th, 2006 @ 2:34 pm

    DK-why not compare the halachos for the dress of a Kohen Gadol with Rambam’s description of the dress code for a Talmid Chacham in Hilchos Deos as well as the Sefer HaChinuch’s analysis of the Bigdei Kehunah? If you compare the sources in an objective manner, you will and should be able to see many striking similarities including a requirement that the clothing reflect their stature and personalities-regardless of the climate. As far as Sephardim are concerned, one need to look no further than any Sephardi Gadol such as ROY-hardly a proof for “casual attire”

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