Beyond BT

Spiritual Growth for Jews

Healing the Rift within Orthodoxy

Posted on | July 28, 2008 | By Guest Contributor | 163 Comments

By Michael Freund (Reprinted with Permission. First Published in the Jerusalem Post here.)

It’s summer time, and Tisha Be’av, when Jews mourn the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, is less than three weeks away.

Normally during this period, religious Jews tend to focus on themes relating to the need for greater Jewish unity, in line with the Talmudic statement that it was the very absence of such cohesion which led to our destruction and exile some two millennia ago.

But these aren’t normal days – far from it – and the mercury in the thermometer isn’t the only thing heating up.

Ever since the conversion crisis erupted nearly three months, the war of words between religious Zionists and haredim has grown increasingly fiery, threatening to drive a stake right through the heart of Orthodox Jewry.

Indeed, one of the consequences of the ruling by the haredi-dominated Rabbinical High Court retroactively annulling conversions performed by religious Zionist Rabbi Haim Druckman was to swing open the floodgates of hateful intra-Orthodox rhetoric.

Spokesmen for both sides quickly manned the barricades, and wasted little time hurling insults and invective at each other.

On May 7, for example, Bar-Ilan University’s Dr. Asher Cohen wrote an article in Makor Rishon comparing the Lithuanian branch of haredi Orthodoxy to the murderous Taliban in Afghanistan, and decried what he described as “haredi halachic Bolshevism.”

Is this the language of respectful discourse? The haredi media was no less discourteous in its approach. The daily Yated Ne’eman, in its reporting on the controversy, repeatedly refused to use the title “rabbi” when referring to Druckman.

And on May 25, the editorial in the haredi daily Hamodia denounced Druckman’s conversions in harsh terms, belittling them as “one big act of clowning.”
These are just a few choice pearls of the cruel and undignified attacks that have been launched by both sides against one another in a decidedly unspiritual-like display of deprecation.

Even normally cooler heads have started to join the fray, as a growing number of moderate religious Zionist rabbis speak openly of “freeing Israel” from “ultra-Orthodox hegemony”.

As an Orthodox Jew, I find this clash deeply troubling.

WHILE THE dispute between the two camps pre-dates the establishment of the state, driven by ideological differences over Zionism, events in recent years have further heightened the discord.

Disagreements over how to oppose the 2005 Gaza withdrawal, and controversy surrounding the observance of shmita, brought to the fore a sense of loathing and even hate that simply has no place in a spiritually-oriented community.

Frankly speaking, this is not the Torah way.

And if cooler heads don’t prevail, and soon, it could cause lasting damage to the inner fabric of Orthodox Jewry, potentially tearing the community apart.

The dangers inherent in such a split are obvious. As it stands now, Orthodox Jews are a minority among world Jewry, and there is nothing to be gained by a division among the ranks.

Moreover, so much of what Orthodox Jewry believes in, from traditional values to public decency, is currently under assault. Can we really afford to be expending valuable time and energy excoriating one another when everything we hold dear is under attack? We must find a way to mend the schism within Orthodoxy.

• Step number one in healing the rift: tone down the rhetoric and turn up the respect.

After all, on nearly all the major theological issues, from the centrality of Torah to the primacy of Halacha, we basically agree with one another. Sure, there are differences, and they are far from insignificant, but personal attacks and insults, public humiliation and disgrace, must be banished once and for all from our civil discourse.

• Step number two is surprisingly simple: create an exchange program between religious Zionist and haredi yeshivot. Once a month, on every Rosh Hodesh, students from religious Zionist and haredi academies should get together and study Torah and Talmud.

Let them pore over biblical passages in unison, grapple with the complexities of the medieval Tosafists and stretch their minds together trying to figure out the meaning of Maimonides. That experience alone would generate newfound mutual respect on both sides, and would regularly serve to underline just how much the Torah can bring us together.

It would also tear down the prejudice and preconceived notions that prevail, and in communities that value scholarship, no one could possibly object to the simple act of learning and studying together.

• Step number three: bring pressure to bear on public figures in the religious Zionist and haredi worlds to take active steps towards forging greater unity.

These can include organizing annual summits of leading rabbis from the various streams of Orthodoxy, the issuance of joint declarations, and the publication of compilations of halachic works by both Zionist and haredi rabbis.

JEWISH HISTORY is replete with heated disputes. But now especially, as Tisha Be’av nears, and the embers of the conversion crisis continue to burn, Orthodoxy’s varied adherents would do well to recall the words of Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin, the famed Netziv of Volozhin. In his introduction to the book of Genesis, he cites one overriding reason to explain why the generation that endured the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans warranted such punishment nearly 20 centuries ago.

“Due to the baseless hatred in their hearts towards each other,” the Netziv wrote, “they suspected that those who disagreed with them on religious matters were Sadducees or heretics. This brought them to misguided bloodshed and many other evils until the Temple was destroyed.”

At this critical point in our nation’s saga, it should be clear, we can ill afford to replicate that fatal mistake.

Comments

163 Responses to “Healing the Rift within Orthodoxy”

  1. Ben-David
    July 28th, 2008 @ 5:25 am

    This disagreement will not be easily papered over because it has already progressed to the point where many haredi Jews – both leaders and rank-and-file – no longer view other streams of Orthodoxy as equally authentic/valid upholders of Torah-true Judaism.

    We have seen this on this list. It’s an echo of the larger pattern in which BTs gravitate to the self-certainty and authority projected by the Haredi world and perceive Modern Orthodoxy – which could often be a better fit socially and intellectually – as inferior, inadequate, compromised, or inauthentic.

  2. Dov
    July 28th, 2008 @ 6:35 am

    I’m afraid I must agree with Ben-David. I heard Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion, speak a few years ago. He said that he had tried to organize events where Charedi and Dati Leumi kollel students could learn together. The effort was dismissed out of hand by the charedi side. The “both sides are to blame” approach is not the right response to this problem, which is what makes it so intractable.

  3. yy
    July 28th, 2008 @ 7:44 am

    “loathing and even hate that simply has no place in a spiritually-oriented community.

    Frankly speaking, this is not the Torah way.”

    Here-here!

    ALL of us need to do some real introspection on this. Forget all the gripes at the moment, even the seeming self-evident legitimatation in castigating those who dare to project “self-certainty”. Then simply ask yourself if REAL LOVE in your heart is to be found for the “other” Shomer Mitzvos Yid.

    As to the grand idea of Kollel-swapping brotherhood, I would cast my vote towards investing major efforts in making it happen. Still, for the sake of perspective, we must bear in mind that by definition of the non-Hareidei ethos to consciously blurr the lines between ALL Jewish camps, there’s no big kuntz in their being open to such a mix.

    A more realistic stab at reunifying would thus be to arrange a major symposium of poskim on both sides, with equal numbers of reps, who would lkhatchilla agree to bide by the consensus decisions of the halachic issues they’d debate.

    If, for instance, it would be decreed in such a format that no more women would be inducted into the army, whatsoever, what do you think would be the response of the DL rank and file??

    Of course I know this symposium would never happen, but the pt is that the idea of truthfully shaking up the intractableness of EACH side needs to demand a willingness to bend given value systems to the TRUTH of the of what the Klal needs, and not just what already works for one community.

  4. Menachem Lipkin
    July 28th, 2008 @ 8:39 am

    I hate to pile on, but I had a private exchange with Michael Freund about this article where I expressed similar thoughts as Ben-David and Dov.

    Yes, of course the ideas suggested by Freund are very lovely, especially at this time of year, but the way he framed is article is rather similar to the way the liberal media refers to events here in Israel as a “cycle of violence”. It only appears as a “cycle” if one only looks at a snapshot in time and not the bigger contextual picture.

    The minority of fundamentalist Chareidim here in Israel are in the process of dragging the entire country, if not our entire religion, over a theological cliff which will take generations to rectify. Freund’s well-meaning Kumbaya approach can only act to exacerbate this problem.

    The strength of his bully pulpit could better be used to appeal to moderate Chareidim to exert their influence and try and stop this unfolding tragedy.

  5. David Linn
    July 28th, 2008 @ 8:41 am

    B-D,

    To portray the rift as one sided, evidences the very same self-certainty you decry.

  6. Mark Frankel
    July 28th, 2008 @ 8:55 am

    Although we can concede that the blame is not equally shared, healing and reconciliation also requires the Modern Orthodox examine the extreme anti-Haredi attitudes they possess that also contributes to the conflict.

    I’m curious as to why you guys ignore that aspect.

  7. Menachem Lipkin
    July 28th, 2008 @ 9:11 am

    Mark, yes there is some strong anti-Chareidi bias in the Dati Leumi world here. Some of it earned, some not. However, there is a huge difference in how these biases are manifest.

    The Fundamentalist Chareidi attitude toward Dati Leumi is institutionalized and systemic. It manifests itself by a deligitimization of all things Dati Leumi; gedolim, talmidei chachomim, yeshivot, institutions, halachic decisions, and more. It’s simply just not bi-directional. For example, there is only one side that would prevent yy’s symposium from happening.

    Of course this is not so across the Chareidi spectrum, but the moderate Chareidi leaders and rank and file, who are numerous, are cowed into silence by the extreme positions and behavior of the fundamentalist minority. That’s why the focus needs to be on encouraging them to find their voice.

  8. Bob Miller
    July 28th, 2008 @ 9:37 am

    Menachem, these groups view each other in a much more similar fashion than you let on. I have seen examples on both sides.

  9. Michoel
    July 28th, 2008 @ 9:48 am

    “Although we can concede that the blame is not equally shared, ”

    OK, Now I’m really getting ready for a fight. “We” (as in ME) concede nothing!

    The administrators present a beautiful, hopeful article and three commentators with MO sympathies chime in that it will never work because really this is all the fault of the charedim, and one more charedi commentator chimes in agreement to the article and a call for introspection.

  10. Mark Frankel
    July 28th, 2008 @ 10:29 am

    I knew that loshon (language) was looking for trouble.

    I was trying to use the gemorra logic, that even if we say that the blame is not equally shared, doesn’t some responsibility fall on the modern orthodox side?

  11. Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)
    July 28th, 2008 @ 10:30 am

    It’s also important to remember that the DL community in Israel and the MO community in the Disapora are not the same, ideologically or culturally, although there is a lot of overlap.

    Hhareidi~DL tensions in Israel are much greater, and have greater consequences, than Yeshivish~MO tensions in places like the USA.

    Of course, with the greater sense of entanglement between the Israeli and Diasporan contexts — for instance, Diasporan Hhareidim copying Israeli qol qorei’s, or the agreements between the RCA and the Rabbanut — the world is getting smaller, more complicated, and people who used to be able to ignore each other are now ending up stepping on each other’s toes.

  12. Michoel
    July 28th, 2008 @ 10:41 am

    The way that biases are manifest cannot legitimate or de-legitimate those biases. One can have valid intellectual objections to other ways and the MO camp certainly has objections to others.

    If ones’ understanding of Torah leads one to believe that very bold settlement activity endangers klal yisrael, that has to be examined on its own merits. The MO-RZ camp certainly had a z’chus that they tend to use milder language toward the charedim then vie versa. But if a RZ professor states that the Charedi G’dolim allowed the Holocaust to happen by not encouraging aliyah, how does one quantify that? Fine, they are not calling the charedim goyim but they are effectively undermining the entire Charedi Yiddishkeit. If we cheerfully say, “We love and respect Charedim but unfortunately their approach to science renders them an unauthentic form of Yiddiskeit, how should such statements be understood?

  13. Steve Mantz
    July 28th, 2008 @ 10:46 am

    Those of you criticizing the MO camp for opposing Hareidi camp are assuming that jewish unity is the only goal here, and Jewish disunity is the only problem which needs to be addressed.

    What you all seem to be missing is that we do have a genuine dispute here, between two sides. That’s what “having a dispute” means–we have a genuine dispute. I know there doesn’t seem to be any answer on first glance; that’s what “having a dispute” means. sorry to state the obvious or to utter truisms here.

    I would like to suggest that addressing a dispute means addressing the actual issues of the dispute itself–not throwing up our hands and decrying why all Jews can’t just get along.

    The dispute itself is not as bad as you all think. there are still more things that unite us than divide us. However, one thing which both sides have in common, you’ll notice, is that Rabbis on both sides are treating this dispute as something valid and worthy of addressing.

    So I really suggest that there’s no need for us on the sidelines to keep saying how terible it is to have disputes. if you have some concrete suggestion on a specific issue or action which might help the situation, that might be abetter focus. I’m just trying to point out that sometimes disputes do occur among reasonable people, and they don’t all need to be dismissed with the question of “how do we erase disputes as fast as we possibly can.”

    thanks.

  14. Tal Benschar
    July 28th, 2008 @ 10:51 am

    What the article and some commentators glide over is the simple fact that many Charedi gedolim simply do not consider the RZ or MO to be just another legitimate version of a derekh in Torah. To the contrary, many consider these hashkafos seriously flawed, if not heretical.

    And these views were not the product of bias or turf wars, but carefully thought out hashkafic and even halakhic viewpoints.

    The Chazon Ish and the Brisker Rov, who were the two leading gedolim at the time the State was founded, did not reject Zionism on a whim or because they liked black yarmulkes over knitted ones.

    The most recent contretempts — the conversion beis din affair — is one more example where the heat of debate obscures the basic facts. R. Druckman is not being excoriated because of the color of his yarmulke or whether he says Hallel on 5 Iyyar. He is being excoriated because, from the Charedi POV, his beis din trample over halakha in the name of serving the interests of the secular State and its wish to integrate an erev rav from Russia.

    What’s worse is that the halakha being trampled is one that cuts to the very heart of what it means to be Jewish — the very point of contention that the Charedi world had with the Zionists.

    The idea behind the article that the difference is merely a matter of rhetoric and can be resolved with “exchange programs” and the like is naive in the extreme.

  15. Steve Mantz
    July 28th, 2008 @ 11:00 am

    Tal, I agree with you. the Chareidi perspective is based on carefully thought-out concepts and principles, not on simple tactics.

    However, that is why they may need to learn how to make compromises and concessions, based simply on the idea of power-sharing and compromise, due to the fact that there is more than one community here, and more than one viewpoint here.

  16. Tal Benschar
    July 28th, 2008 @ 11:10 am

    However, that is why they may need to learn how to make compromises and concessions, based simply on the idea of power-sharing and compromise, due to the fact that there is more than one community here, and more than one viewpoint here

    The Charedim already do that. It’s called coalition negotiations. They well know that they do not hold all the power in the country and have to negotiate with the secular authorties to get what they can, but certainly not everything they want.

    But that is a klapei chutz argument — how the Torah community deals with the fact that it lives in a country dominated by non-Torah forces. You have the same dynamic in any country where there is a sizable Orthodox minority within a larger non-Torah community.

    And, for that matter, the secular are by far the larger and more powerful community in EY than are the RZ. If it is simply a matter of accomodating multiple viewpoints, then what is the point in negotiating with a group that represents, say, 10% of the country when you can get 60-70%?

  17. Administrator
    July 28th, 2008 @ 11:38 am

    We want to highly recommend Rabbi Mayer Schiller’s mp3 on Orthodox Achdus which discusses how we can have legitimate disputes on halachic and hashkafic issues and still maintain a level of Achdus.

    If you do listen to it, please leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.

  18. Bob Miller
    July 28th, 2008 @ 11:46 am

    Regarding the comment by Tal Benschar
    July 28th, 2008 10:51 14:

    Every Orthodox group wants its legitimacy to be respected, but that doesn’t mean all its actions or theories are legitimate. For example, waiving the most basic requirements of conversion for reasons of state has to be challenged to maintain the integrity of Halacha. A group’s member or leader in good standing who promotes such conversion is entitled to no support from the group itself or any other. The Halachos of conversion don’t hinge on which union card you carry.

    That said, it should somehow be possible for Orthodox groups at odds over hot issues like this to behave in at least a civil way toward one another and to combine to advance whichever programs and policies they agree on.
    I don’t accept that areas for common action don’t exist.

  19. ChanaLeah
    July 28th, 2008 @ 1:17 pm

    One of the big surprises for me when we moved into a larger frum community is the level of kinah that exists, especially having my observations confirmed in a conversation with a community leader.

    Could it be that envy is actually the issue that cuts to the core of the problem being discussed here?

    So glad the Chofetz Chaim Foundation is addressing envy in this year’s Tisha B’Av video.

  20. Michoel
    July 28th, 2008 @ 1:34 pm

    Bli neder I will listen to that shiur by R. Mayer Shiller.

    Personally, Baruch H’ for the most part I continue to inhabit a world were there is no machlokes. I don’t look for it. If it comes up at my table I change to subject. I do not read any frum newspapers (al pi what I have read in the Steipler’s letters). We have a long standing seder in Sefer Chafetz Chaim which has remained pretty strong even through week periods in other aspects of my avodas H’, and that has a big influence on our outlook.

    I truly feel bad for those that live in a reality of “camps”.

  21. Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)
    July 28th, 2008 @ 2:11 pm

    I listened to R’ Schiller’s lecture, and he makes very good points about respecting other groups’ good intentions.

    Not quite sure how i feel about being a member of one of those “on the edge” groups who he seems disinclined to include under his big respectful umbrella, though.

    Also, i noticed that he quoted Blu Greenberg, but never so far as i could tell actually used her name. I wonder what that’s about.

  22. Ron Coleman
    July 28th, 2008 @ 3:08 pm

    The use of the scare-term “fundamentalist” in front of descriptions of the RW side of this issue hardly evinces good faith.

    Thank you, Tal, for explaining that at the heart of these disputes are legitimate issues viewed by both sides as life-and-death. What is the basis for the suggestion that the Torah requires us to value unity over principle? (If it is on that MP3 I am looking forward to someone converting the answer into pixels for me.)

    Who decides why some principles are disposable when unity is threatened while others are not? As Tal pointed out, “all” we’re talking about is whether that little toddler your child met in gan last week, and who could be suggested as a spouse for that toddler in 15 years, is yehudi or not. Emotional, angry responses and calls for unity are not enough to answer this question: At some point, authoritative halachic guidance is required, because we are observant Jews and in this world HKB”H lives only in the four ells of halacha.

    “Communication” and open-mindedness are unlikely resolve fundamental disagreements about emes when they run so closely along lines of hashkofo.

  23. Dovid
    July 28th, 2008 @ 3:11 pm

    This is a good thread. Thanks to all who have contributed. We are certainly living in difficult times. May Hashem have pity on us all.

    The conversion issue is one which touches on so many levels. A major effort towards rectifying the inter-marriage and un-authentic conversion issue has already been put into place and is quickly being recognized and endorsed by the leaders of our generation, across a vast spectrum of Orthodoxy.

    May we all somehow find it in our hearts to live side by side with one another until Mashiach arrives. It won’t be long now…hang in there and be good to each other!

    http://www.eternaljewishfamily.org/

  24. Mark Frankel
    July 28th, 2008 @ 3:21 pm

    I think the author is clear that there is a legitimate dispute here, but we must argue it out, without the hatred.

    Let me see it again, there will always be disputes, but we need to do it without the hate.

    Disputes without hatred leads us in the direction of unity.

    Does that make any sense?

  25. Lee Caplan
    July 28th, 2008 @ 3:28 pm

    I would like to encourage people to read the following piece which I wrote a couple of years ago http://www.israelnationalnews.com/article.php3?id=5440.

    What is important and will cause Hashem to look favorably upon us and hopefully turn these Three Weeks of mourning into joy bimhera viyamenu amen is to work towards reducing the rift. I invite anyone out there to work with me on promoting achdu(s)(t). If you have contacts among the gedolim and leadership among the Haredim and religious Zionists, let’s meet with them and discuss these issues and our ideas. All effort expended will be well worth the benefits that achdu(t)(s) will bring us. May we be zocheh to be part of that great time when the words of the Navi that the fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh, and tenth months will become days of joy and gladness for the whole house of Israel will be fulfilled bimhera viyamenu amen!

  26. Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)
    July 28th, 2008 @ 3:29 pm

    Mark:

    It makes sense, but it leaves out the additional factors that R’ Schiller brings up in his lecture — if i’m a Zionist, and i feel that Neturey Karta are endangering Jewish lives (OR VICE VERSA), or if i’m LWMO, and i feel that RWUO people are destroying Judaism (OR VICE VERSA) — just because i force myself not to hate The Other, and accept them as nebekh someone with good intentions but bad expressions of those intentions in ideology or practice… i’m still going to want to fight them and destroy their negative ideology/practices!

  27. Menachem Lipkin
    July 28th, 2008 @ 3:47 pm

    “The use of the scare-term “fundamentalist” in front of descriptions of the RW side of this issue hardly evinces good faith.”

    Not sure what you mean, but here in Israel where the term “Chareidi” has a very broad application it’s important in a discussion like this to make that distinction. It’s actually quite accurate and apt, and my guess that they themselves would be fine with it.

    It’s instructive, and makes my point better than I did, how some commentors have run away with the idea that Rav Druchman’s conversions where “invalid”. Rav Druchman is a gadol b’Torah and yes, this is a halachic dispute, however a modicum of research into the issue will show that his approach to conversion has been the normative approach for the past 1000 years. Rav Sherman’s stricter approach came to he fore about 100 years ago but was not widely accepted. Regardless, of these details however, the ad hominum attacks on Rav Druchman does much to illustrate what we’re dealing with here.

    It’s illustrated further in Freund’s article, in the comparison that is made between the statements of a Bar Ilan profressor, who represents nobody, to those printed in the Yated, which represents the Moetzes.

    And, thankfully, Tal’s leave no hostages approach to the differences between DL and Chareidi is not indicative of all Chareidi thinking. Many of the moderate Chareidi Rabbi’s that I have learned from in the past couple of years are not so, pardon the pun, black and white. They are just as comfortable teaching hashkafa from Rav Kook and Rav Aviner, as they are with the more Chareidi thinkers. Nor do they foster the idea that just because they believe that their approach is correct that there’s no room for another approach to also be valid.

    Once again, it’s these moderate Chareidim upon whom attention should be focused to help marginalize the fundamentalists and bring people together.

  28. Ron Coleman
    July 28th, 2008 @ 4:11 pm

    Menachem, don’t mistake Tal’s enunciation of a point of view with Tal’s point of view.

    “The use of the scare-term “fundamentalist” in front of descriptions of the RW side of this issue hardly evinces good faith.”

    Not sure what you mean, but here in Israel where the term “Chareidi” has a very broad application it’s important in a discussion like this to make that distinction. It’s actually quite accurate and apt, and my guess that they themselves would be fine with it.

    You guess wrong.

  29. Menachem Lipkin
    July 28th, 2008 @ 4:16 pm

    “You guess wrong.”

    Come meet my neighbors…

  30. shmuel
    July 28th, 2008 @ 4:17 pm

    While there is no doubt that there are individual MO-DL Jews who have attacked and deligitmitzed the charedi world. The Charedi attack on the MO-DL is an institutional phenomena that is encouraged in the Charedi world. The frequent reference that one hears by charedi bochurim to the Rav z’tl as “JB” is just one example, as the was Jewish Observer’s disgraceful obituary for him. Furthermore, many of these posts only further prove that the Charedi world simply can not grasp the fact the the MO-DL holds to legitimate albeit differing Halachic opinions. Statements such as, “For example, waiving the most basic requirements of conversion for reasons of state has to be challenged to maintain the integrity of Halacha. A group’s member or leader in good standing who promotes such conversion is entitled to no support from the group itself or any other. The Halachos of conversion don’t hinge on which union card you carry.” Belie this fact.
    Bob, do you know that the Rav Druckman shlita is a tremendous talmid chachamin who is not just making up halacha as he goes but relying up halachic precident from gedolim of previous generations. This conflict over whether or not one needs to be totally shomer mitzvot at the time of their conversion for their conversion to be valid did not arise in this generation. In fact it goes back several generations, and was notably the opinion of Rav Israel Ben Zion Uziel z’tl. Who was of the opinon that “…for the sake of maintaining whole Jewish families and raising children within Jewish families, rabbis were obligated to do conversions of non-Jewish spouses or potential spouses, even if there is no clear commitment to observe all the mitzvoth.” According to Rav Angel this was in fact the normative halacha until the 19th century. Whether or not one agree with this psak is not a major. What is clear is that Rav Druckman and others are clearly holding to a position that halachicly defensible. Yet even so the charedi world slanders and attacks them for it. Need we any further proof as to who is to blame for the current lack of achdus in the Torah world.

  31. Michoel
    July 28th, 2008 @ 4:19 pm

    “however a modicum of research into the issue will show that his approach to conversion has been the normative approach for the past 1000 years.”
    Menachem, Please. This is just an insult to the intelligence. There is NO ONE of authority that would agree with this statement. All MO authorities I have seen agree that Rav Druckman’s approach is NOT the historical approach but simply hold that it is the CORRECT approach now. But to imply that even a simple perusal of the sources supports you without any particular iyun, it is just too much.

  32. yy
    July 28th, 2008 @ 4:47 pm

    My appreciation of this article stemmed from the impression of the writer’s genuine sense of alarm over the disunity amongst Shomerei Mitzvos (established a few threads ago as being an issue that should alarm every G-d fearing Yid). The supreme ethos, across the Klal, of dan-l’kaf-zchus and Ahavas Chinam respectively guided me to lend my support to the writer’s crucial first contention:

    How can any of us justify this rapidly escalating “sense of loathing and even hate”?

    Hence, in regards Michoel’s (9) concern that I’m a conceding Chareidi, please note that I have NEVER presented myself as Chareidi per se` nor should my education and broad cross-culture experience ever lead anyone to believe that. It’s true that my community is largely residing within what’s identified as that culture, but if I was one of their lackeys I wouldn’t be on this blog! More importantly,the fact remains that I do my best to think above the box and would appreciate being given that slack.

    Re. Steve’s interest that we buckle down and “address the actual issues”, I have made my hypothetical proposal to bring out the point that anything less than a substantive lowering of heads of one side, it’s just not possible.

    The stakes are too high.

    Which leaves us with the simple, less dramatic fact that we STILL are obliged to find love for one another. THAT’s what ah’ Chinam is all about.

    Compare the talmudic accts of Beis Hillel and Shamai almost NEVER conceding on issues but totally working overtime to accomodate the other’s right to live according to his pshat.

    “V’asisa es haTov v’haYashar b’enei H'”… and never stop loving those who are striving in the same general direction.

  33. Ron Coleman
    July 28th, 2008 @ 4:49 pm

    “You guess wrong.”

    Come meet my neighbors…

    What a funny coincidence! My neighbors disagree with your neighbors and just put your neighbors in cheirem! ;-)

    No, seriously, notwithstanding “some of your best friends,” you may rest assured that in the RW world the term “fundamentalist” is regarded as pejorative, as it is most assuredly meant. The simple proof is that you will never, ever see the term used in a haredi- or yeshivish-published work of any kind.

  34. Menachem Lipkin
    July 28th, 2008 @ 5:03 pm

    Well, Ron, I’ll just have my neighbors beat up your neighbors. (They’re very good at that.) :)

    And just keep in mind, that to the fundamentalists here there’s no difference between Passaic “Chareidim” and Teaneck Modern Orthodox.

  35. Ron Coleman
    July 28th, 2008 @ 5:10 pm

    I am under no illusions as to your last point, Menachem (no waiver of my objection as to your terminology however)!

  36. Bob Miller
    July 28th, 2008 @ 5:24 pm

    “Bob, do you know that the Rav Druckman shlita is a tremendous talmid chachamin who is not just making up halacha as he goes but relying up halachic precedent from gedolim of previous generations.”

    I have no doubt that Rav Druckman has selected actual precedents, but feel he is intellectually biased toward a view in line with the priorities and policies of the State. Therefore, it is not surprising that there are great Torah sages, aware of the same (and additional) precedents, who take a more objective view and now come to other conclusions as to the correct psak halacha.

    If you believe that I am saying that elements of Dati Leumi thought can be swayed by extra-halachic considerations, you are correct.

  37. Menachem Lipkin
    July 28th, 2008 @ 5:31 pm

    “If you believe that I am saying that elements of Dati Leumi thought can be swayed by extra-halachic considerations, you are correct.”

    Um, Bob, in the Chareidi world they call this “Daas Torah” and yes the Chareidi Gedolim do the same.

  38. Ron Coleman
    July 28th, 2008 @ 5:40 pm

    What’s an example, Menachem?

  39. yy
    July 28th, 2008 @ 5:53 pm

    “If you believe that I am saying that elements of Dati Leumi thought can be swayed by extra-halachic considerations, you are correct.”

    Well worded

  40. yy
    July 28th, 2008 @ 5:57 pm

    “in the Chareidi world they call this ‘Daas Torah’”

    Also well worded… but incomplete. Those known for Daas Torah don’t claim to be politicians and worldly and interested in building the “new Jew.”

    Not saying who’s right, Menachem. But I do want to line up the issues correctly.

    Grist for the mill of ah’ chinam, eh?

    lila tov

  41. Chaim Grossferstant
    July 28th, 2008 @ 6:12 pm

    “The idea behind the article that the difference is merely a matter of rhetoric and can be resolved with “exchange programs” and the like is naive in the extreme.”

    from comment 14.

    THIS difference /dispute will not be resolved by exchange programs. But, in general, the fostering of greater respect and understanding, could be ameleorated with such programs.

    Don’t think it’s going to happen though for the same reason I don’t think an Orthodox Yeshiva, of any stripe, would promote an exchange program with JTS seminarians. The tragedy is that the Orthodox consider these two exchange programs to be equivalent (i.e., why sit down with them, all you’ll hear is the other side spouting k’firah) when they would be utterly disimilar.

    Speaking of which, bridging DL/MO and Charedism might be over-reaching but it would be a nice idea if a Gerrer Yeshiva and Ponovezh or Lakewood and Lubavitch could have programs such as these.

  42. Chaim Grossferstant
    July 28th, 2008 @ 6:13 pm

    Or even Aish and Ohr Someach! ;-)

  43. Bob Miller
    July 28th, 2008 @ 6:45 pm

    Daas Torah in today’s usage typically has to do with the views of Gedolei Torah about matters in life that call for “informed personal judgment” in the absence of definitive halacha. So if you want to ask about the suitability of a prospective marriage partner or business partner or career path, for example, a Gadol’s quality of Daas Torah can help him give you the best answer.

    The idea is that the same thorough understanding of and immersion in Torah that makes the Gadol a Torah expert also gives him deep insight into matters like the above.

  44. Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)
    July 28th, 2008 @ 7:31 pm

    Don’t think it’s going to happen though for the same reason I don’t think an Orthodox Yeshiva, of any stripe, would promote an exchange program with JTS seminarians. The tragedy is that the Orthodox consider these two exchange programs to be equivalent (i.e., why sit down with them, all you’ll hear is the other side spouting k’firah) when they would be utterly disimilar.

    Chaim Grossferstant:

    Actually, there are Orthodox yeshivas/teachers who believe that Torah study with all Jews can be meaningful.

  45. Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)
    July 28th, 2008 @ 7:39 pm

    Ron Coleman:

    An example of extra-halakhic considerations in the Chareidi world — all of the declarations that various activities or objects are forbidden because of tzni‘ut which have not been declared so in the past.

    Actually, all halakhic decisions involve extra-halakhic elements; there’s always the ‘metahalakhic’ values of how to weigh different features of the question, and which values are being prioritized for the sake of which other values. Halakha is NOT a computer system where law X + law Y automatically = Z ruling; extralegal factors always play a role, especially since some of them have halakhicly-mandated openings!

    Examples: i may think that X is not tzanua‘, and therefore forbidden; someone else may think that X is tzanua‘, and therefore not forbidden. Y may be a hefseid merubeh for one person but not for another. Another good example is R’ Shimon Schwab’s objections to the mid-20th century Manhattan Eruv (Ma‘ayan Beit Hasho’eiva, Vayaqhel), where he writes at great length about the value of the issur of ‘carrying’ as a marker of frum vs not-frum, instead of claiming that eruvs in Manhattan simply don’t work due to reshut definitions.

  46. chaimbaruch
    July 28th, 2008 @ 7:59 pm

    >>Need we any further proof as to who is to blame for the current lack of achdus in the Torah world.

    You were doing well until you got to this statement which discredited the point – which is achdus.

  47. Steve Brizel
    July 28th, 2008 @ 8:48 pm

    Once again, IMO, mutual appreciation, as opposed to recognition ,ala Nixon going to China, is far easier to implement in our various communities.I refer the interested reader to my prior posts here on the subject in which I have emphasized that we all have a lot to learn from each other in many different ways. I do believe that rhetoric that belittles and denigrates a yeshiva or institution whose hashkafa that you disagree with but which has definite roots in the Mesorah and has produced Gdolei Talmidie Chachamim is a singularly inappropriate form of Sinas Chinam. Rewriting history is another egregiously inappropriate tactic that does not aid in mutual appreciation.

  48. Steve Brizel
    July 28th, 2008 @ 10:26 pm

    I would suggest that Congregation Shomreih Emunah is an example of a shul where this rift is healed on an ongoing basis. How many of us can name a shul that would feature a program on Tefilah with both a RIETS RY and a Charedi RY as the keynote speakers? How many people on this blog have ever worked on or attended such a program in their communities?IMO, all of the discussion but the lack of concrete discussion proves the old adage that “talk is cheap” on issues of this nature,

  49. Bob Miller
    July 28th, 2008 @ 10:49 pm

    Regarding the comment by Steg July 28th, 2008 19:39 45—

    A posek should have a lot less leeway on something as weighty as gerus, where the decision to admit or reject has serious ramifications for the whole spectrum of Jews, not only for the group most in tune with the posek.

    The idea that the government intentionally brought in large numbers of outright non-Jews based on a fiction and then said to the religious community, “they’re staying regardless; you make it right” is offensive. We’re not talking here about our long-lost Jewish brothers and sisters, who need no gerus at all.

  50. Ron Coleman
    July 28th, 2008 @ 11:07 pm

    An example of extra-halakhic considerations in the Chareidi world — all of the declarations that various activities or objects are forbidden because of tzni‘ut which have not been declared so in the past.

    Actually, all halakhic decisions involve extra-halakhic elements . . .

    Yes, they do don’t they! In fact, these “issurim” are usually couched in one of two ways: Rabbinical statements of disapproval, but not psak, e.g., the “kosher phone” in the U.S., or, in fact, psak — whether or not we think it ought to be the topic of halachic decision, or like how that decision comes out.

    Mm, one more thing:

    various activities or objects are forbidden because of tzni‘ut which have not been declared so in the past.

    This strikes me as a non-sequitur.

  51. Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)
    July 28th, 2008 @ 11:55 pm

    Bob Miller:

    I’m not dealing with that specific case.

    Ron Coleman:

    What’s nonsequiturish about it? You were looking for extrahalakhic considerations affecting psaq. My example is that whenever a poseiq declares something forbidden which was not forbidden in the past (i.e. there’s no halakhic precedent), that shows some kind of non-formalist factor at play in the legal ruling.

  52. Ron Coleman
    July 29th, 2008 @ 12:32 am

    The fact that something has never been declared forbidden before, but is now, “shows some kind of non-formalist factor at play in the legal ruling”?

    Steg, that is utter drivel.

    If you would have said, “whenever a poseiq declares something forbidden which was permitted in the past,” we might have something to talk about.

    Do you realize how many errors of logic your assertion contains?

  53. Menachem Lipkin
    July 29th, 2008 @ 12:33 am

    Ron,

    Prusbul, Heter Iska, Cherem De-Rebeinu Gershom, the original heter mechira by Rav Spektor.

    Yes, I know this is not modern “daas torah” as Bob described it, but it’s a kal v’chomer. These were actual halachos that were created (not just applied) due to extra-halachic considerations. What we’re talking about here is mostly the application of differing yet pre-existing halachic precedent.

    Will all due respect to Michoel’s incredulity, Rav Druckman was actually applying the standard , more lenient, conversion practice that has been used in much of the world. (See Shmuel’s comment, #30) If anything it was Rabbi Sherman, in trying to introduce the stricter approach (i.e. acceptance of ALL mitzvos in every detail as a pre-requisite) who is being swayed by extra-halachic consideration, i.e. the immigration of many non-Jewish Russians.

    Was is most bothersome about Bob’s comment is the automatic assumption that a DL Gadol B’Torah is “biased” while the Chareidi Gadol is “objective” when it comes to issues of klal yisrael in Eretz Yisrael. What maybe Bob is missing is that it is well within Rav Druckman’s Daas Torah to take the well being of, what Bob pejoratively refers to as “the state”, but is really the welfare of 5.5 million Jews, into consideration when applying existing halacha. Just as I’m sure Rabbi Sherman received Daas Torah from the Chareidi Gedolim that lead to a different application.

  54. Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)
    July 29th, 2008 @ 12:59 am

    If you would have said, “whenever a poseiq declares something forbidden which was permitted in the past,” we might have something to talk about.

    Well then talk about it, because that’s what i meant. I guess i wasn’t precise enough for you. You understand that “not declared forbidden” is the same thing as “permitted”, right?

  55. Ron Coleman
    July 29th, 2008 @ 1:10 am

    Absolutely not. If you would have meant “permitted,” I am quite sure you would have said it, Steg.

    Why not give us five examples of things that were declared, by recognized halachic authorities and in some form we can confirm, “permitted,” which latter-day RW fundamentalists have nonetheless declared “forbidden.” I believe I will also have to ask that your list not include minority opinions or views discredited in their own time, for otherwise you will more or less by presenting us with one of those slalom-like “responsa” from the good people at JTS.

    I’ll even spot you Rabbi Druckerman’s halachic approach to conversion. Give me four more.

    Perhaps you will suggest Menachem’s list?

    Prusbul, Heter Iska, Cherem De-Rebeinu Gershom, the original heter mechira by Rav Spektor.

    Menachem, I don’t follow. What is this a list of? The only one of these that seems responsive to my question is the heter mechira, which is not a good example at all of something “everyone knows” was okay, no problem, until a bunch of black-hatters came along and ruined everything. That psak was controversial in its time and even the Rav considered it dubious, evidently.

    So, I’m waiting!

  56. Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)
    July 29th, 2008 @ 1:31 am

    Ron Coleman:

    The Torah didn’t come to declare the World forbidden, except for specific exceptions! By default, *everything* is permitted, unless expressly forbidden by Torah law. You don’t *need* authorities to tell you that something is permitted, unless it falls in a gray area near the forbidden that you’re unsure about.

    Also, i get the impression that you’re confusing me with someone else in this comment thread. I haven’t said anything about any “fundamentalists”.

  57. Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)
    July 29th, 2008 @ 1:33 am

    Ron:

    in case my last comment was also unclear, i said:

    The Torah didn’t come to declare the world “forbidden, except for specific exceptions”. the ‘except’ is part of the [hypothetical] declaration.

  58. shmuel
    July 29th, 2008 @ 1:37 am

    “Therefore, it is not surprising that there are great Torah sages, aware of the same (and additional) precedents, who take a more objective view and now come to other conclusions as to the correct psak halacha.”

    Bob, first of all you completely ignored my first point that Rav Druckman is a tremendous Torah scholar is his own right. There are many if not all (DL or MO) Gedolim who have endorsed his action. Your approach is the typical charedi approach attacking and maligning non-Charedi gedolim or simply pretending that they dont exist. The fact is that outside of the charedi gedolim there is outstanding Torah scholars who know all the precedents on the matter have come to the support of Rav Druckman.

    The DL concern for the future of Medinat Yisrael is not to the fact the the zionist government told us to be concerned with it. Rather that gedolim throughout this century have seen zionism and Medinat Yisrael as the beginning of our redemption (it should be speedily in our days). Based on this recognition Gedolim beginning most notably with Rav Kook have encourgaged the support of the Jewish state. In our day this trend is continued by Rav Aviner Shlita and Rav Lior Shlita amongst others, both of whom support Rav Druckman.

    Second, its fair clear that non-halachic considerations influence pskie halacha. Just look in Igros Moshe. Its fairly obvious that Rav Moshe Z’tl’ teshuva on Bat Mitvahs was influence by non-halachic considerations.
    On a more recent note it seems that many of the bans coming out of the charedi world today appear to be based on non-halachic considerations.

  59. yy
    July 29th, 2008 @ 4:44 am

    “The DL concern for the future of Medinat Yisrael is not to the fact the the zionist government told us to be concerned with it. Rather that gedolim throughout this century have seen zionism and Medinat Yisrael as the beginning of our redemption”

    And reality, at least since the disengagement, has proven it wrong!

    But even for those who insist on hanging on to this euphoric vision cannever justify such a large scale fudging of explicit halachic criterion on matters directly affecting the Klal, such as occured over this conversion issue. Heter Mechira can be chosen or rejected by different sectors and Jews still remain Jews. Heter Iska similarly. But mass giyur colleges that are cnstantly being pressured to be “newer and improved”?? When major amounts of their “products” demonstrate striking flippancy in their disinterest to even identify as dati???

    Comon, gentleman. There’s enough for us to tussle over in the name of cultural gap bridging in areas such as tsnius, army, methods of learning, priority of learning, value of secualr wisdom, etc… if we really were interested in unity. The conversion issue simply cuts at the heart of the nation, leaving everyone with no heart left to even pretend to love with!

  60. Ben-David
    July 29th, 2008 @ 5:43 am

    Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai disagreed on certain aspects of Seder Nashim – to the extent that certain marriages permitted by one were viewed as mamzerut by the other. So this was as crucial a disagreement as the current conversion issue.

    How did they deal with the situation?

    There was no denunciation/delegitimization of the more lenient camp by the more stringent

    No strident claims to have “daas Torah” or “more objective gedolim” on their side.

    No insinuations that the lenient were bending to unworthy pressure external to halachic considerations.

    Instead, BOTH sides of the disagreement respected the other’s views AS VALID ALTERNATIVE WITHIN TOAH JUDAISM – to the point where they would look out for each other’s opinions when making shidduchim.

    To the point of KNOWING the other’s opinion, KEEPING TRACK OF IT and HELPING THEM UPHOLD IT.

    To the point of “this woman is not permitted to you according to your opinion, even though she would be according to my opinion.”

    And in our generation?

    The haredi world loves to cry wolf about how the MO and DL are in cahoots with the Zionists to trash their way of life. In fact they have been treated with respect, not coercion.

    There have been respectful attempts to assert that teaching one’s son a parnassa is also a Torah value.

    And respectful attempts to assert that defense of the Jewish people is also a Torah value.

    Both accompanied by programs tailored to Haredi sensibilities.

    The haredim have not responded in kind. The general tenor of their media and cultural expression has not been respectful disagreement with the Religious Zionists – or even gracious admission that things have turned out much differently than they predicted.

    It has been an almost unrelieved pageant of my-way-or-the-highway elitism and condescension.

    They have used their political leverage to impose their will, and to hell with the other streams of Torah Judaism. The Druckman/Sherman dust-up is just the latest in a series of political battles by the haredim to gain control over the Chief Rabbinate – which they previously denigrated – and to delegitimize other streams within Torah and Halacha.

    No, the haredim are not being delegitimized as they do to others.

    Yes, the fault for the rift is not evenly distributed.

  61. Bob Miller
    July 29th, 2008 @ 8:39 am

    “The welfare of 5.5 million Jews” is often jeopardized by a specific action of the State. Any religious party or rabbi (I mean any) has to oppose that type of action by the State, using the legally available means. Acquiescing to such an action because of ideology or financial support can cause long-term harm.

  62. Bob Miller
    July 29th, 2008 @ 9:05 am

    Just to clarify my second paragraph above of July 28th, 2008 22:49 49

    Correct it to read as follows:

    That the government intentionally brought in large numbers of outright non-Jews based on a fiction and then said to the religious community, “they’re staying regardless; you make it right” is offensive. We’re not talking here about our long-lost Jewish brothers and sisters, who need no gerus at all.

    —–
    Steg said July 28th, 2008 23:55 51

    “Bob Miller:
    I’m not dealing with that specific case.”

    This case (the conversion issue) may be inconvenient to his overall argument, but so what? It does typify a problem.

    Regarding Ben-David’s invocation of Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai:

    Not every dispute involves positions as equally balanced on the merits as those of Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai in the cited case. It was only that balance that allowed the mutual accommodation.

  63. Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)
    July 29th, 2008 @ 9:15 am

    Bob Miller:

    I haven’t mentioned the Rabbis Druckman and Sherman conversion case, and i don’t know enough of the details of the halakhic argumentation or realia on either side in order to discuss it in the context of the use of extra-halakhic factors in halakhic decision-making.

  64. Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)
    July 29th, 2008 @ 9:16 am

    This case (the conversion issue) may be inconvenient to his overall argument, but so what? It does typify a problem.

    Bob Miller:

    What does that mean? Who is the ‘his’, and what’s the argument?

  65. yy
    July 29th, 2008 @ 9:19 am

    “Yes, the fault for the rift is not evenly distributed.”

    Oops. there’s that nefarious self-certainty again!

    The article noted the DL’s were “comparing… haredi Orthodoxy to the murderous Taliban in Afghanistan, and decried what he described as “haredi halachic Bolshevism.”…(In contrast, the Hareidim) repeatedly refused to use the title “rabbi” when referring to Druckman… belittling them as “one big act of clowning.”

    Now I’m no compiler of invectives (b”H) but surely we don’t see in what the author has quoted anything close what B-d and supporters insinuate. How can they call someone a Rabbi whom they see utterly abuse the title? Who can characterize the various Halachic lapses which the Conversion authority has been documented as perpetrating other than “clowning”? Would you prefer something more sinister like, perhaps, the political labels of our worst enemies that some DL’s are noted as using??

    But all this really misses the point of the article, as we can go round and round diging up which camp has thrown more disgusting dirt and get woefully far from answering the simple question: WHAT ARE WE DOING TO APPLY AH’ CHINAM accross the Orthodox spectrum?

    Halavai that B-d would say SOMEthing even hinting at affection for his nonzionistic, Torah devoted brethren. All we hear is MORE reasons for digging his heels into his sina!

    As to the B. Hillel and Shamai thing — believe me I’d be with you if anything about these camps could really apply to that. Unfortunately to do so there must be a shared foundation in seeking out H’s Will PURELY within the Halacha, and not allowing any romance with chokhma b’goyim call the shots.

    In the meantime we still have the Mitzvah of ah’ Chinam. WHAT are you doing about it??

  66. Steve Mantz
    July 29th, 2008 @ 9:27 am

    Ben-David, thanks for your helpful and incisive comments. I am not trying to indicate full agreement with one side or the other yet, as many of you here are more knowledgabkle than me. however, when one person here makes a comment whcih i consider indispensable, i like to sometimes acknowledge it. thanks.

    Steve

  67. Bob Miller
    July 29th, 2008 @ 9:30 am

    Steg, your basic point (I think) was that the use of practical, extra-halachic considerations in arriving at halachic decisions has been commonplace among poskim in general, including “Chareidi” poskim. It would seem to follow from this that the conversion mills were/are business as usual.

    My point was that DL ideology has tended to drive DL poskim into over-accommodation to the wishes of the State, as witness the conversion dispute involving Rav Druckman.

  68. Steve Mantz
    July 29th, 2008 @ 9:33 am

    YY, can I suggest that we please try to stick to the topic? Yes AH Chinam is a vitally important principle. Thanks you for your extremely eloquent remarks, seriously, which point that out. But turning around when we are in the middle of an ongoing, vibrant, constructive debate, and calling out anyone’s of comments based on lack of AH Chinam, does not seem all that helpful in my own personal opinion.

    There is no indication here of how anyone acts in their daily dealings with fellow Jews. So i respectfully ask that we please not make assumptions based purely on their comments here. Maybe some of these people are perfectly inclusive in daily life, and this forum is their only place to air out the views and to have a forum. so let’s give each other the benefit of the doubts, and to hear each other’s points.

    if you do have a comment on how AH Chinam should be applied in relation to this specific issue, that’s a different story of course, and of course I’d be very happy and interested in any thoughts of yours on that. thanks.

  69. Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)
    July 29th, 2008 @ 9:42 am

    Bob Miller:

    Is your point meant to dispute my point?

    Or do you agree that all posqim take non-halakhic factors into account, and you just think that DL posqim do so too often?

  70. Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)
    July 29th, 2008 @ 9:43 am

    There is no indication here of how anyone acts in their daily dealings with fellow Jews.

    Steve Mantz:

    These *are* daily dealings with fellow Jews.

  71. Jaded Topaz
    July 29th, 2008 @ 10:03 am

    Steve Mantz,
    Regarding comment #68, Can I suggest that your are not the comment content police, and that anyone can comment about whatever they decide they want to comment on and or chime in about.

  72. Bob Miller
    July 29th, 2008 @ 10:17 am

    Steg asked, “Bob Miller:
    Is your point meant to dispute my point?
    Or do you agree that all posqim take non-halakhic factors into account, and you just think that DL posqim do so too often?”

    If your point was that all poskim do this to the same degree using traditional criteria, I can’t agree with it. If not, I can agree.

    I believe that the strength of DL, namely close identification with Eretz Yisrael and Am Yisrael, has an associated weakness, over-identification with the current government structure of Israel, and that this sometimes leads to too much bending of the halacha at the behest of the State.

  73. Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)
    July 29th, 2008 @ 10:30 am

    Bob Miller:

    Some people were arguing that there’s such a thing as “objective” Halakha, which is how psaq is supposed to be made.

    I’m saying there’s no such thing.

    I don’t know how to evaluate the effect or relevance of different posqim’s use of non-legal “values” influences in coming to conclusions, but they’re always there.

  74. Bob Miller
    July 29th, 2008 @ 10:49 am

    Halacha itself has dimensions hard to capture on a printed page.

    Sizing up the actual situation that is calling for a decision is also critically important.

    Ultimately, the conscientious posek who has done all his homework to try to render a truthful decision still relies on HaShem’s help to make the outcome reflect the objective halacha.

  75. Steve Mantz
    July 29th, 2008 @ 11:00 am

    Jaded,

    I think that this forum is in some ways self-policed. Thanks.

  76. Ron Coleman
    July 29th, 2008 @ 11:05 am

    LOL, while Jaded is the Comment Police! She has a sparkly badge and everything!

  77. Bob Miller
    July 29th, 2008 @ 11:10 am

    The comment police are our esteemed moderators and their fancy screening program. Everything that gets through should be at least minimally wonderful.

    As Steve Mantz just noted, sort of, we commenters also blast each other for insensitivity, etc., to keep the discussions on their high level.

  78. Ben-David
    July 29th, 2008 @ 1:25 pm

    yy (post 65):
    As to the B. Hillel and Shamai thing — believe me I’d be with you if anything about these camps could really apply to that. Unfortunately to do so there must be a shared foundation in seeking out H’s Will PURELY within the Halacha, and not allowing any romance with chokhma b’goyim call the shots.
    – – – – – – – – –
    1) Not exactly sure how “chochma ba-goyim ta’amin” relates to either the Hillel/Shammai issue or to the current issue of conversion.

    It’s ironic that you’ve picked a quote that shows Chazal being MUCH more open to secular knowledge than the current haredi leadership.

    But more importantly:

    2) Are you really not aware of how your statement confirms my assertion of my-way-or-the-highway haredi elitism?

    I made a clear parallel between an ancient and contemporary issue that impacted kosher Jewish status.

    In dismissing that comparison, your formulation basically boils down to “The only true halacha is our way by definition. People who don’t agree with us are either ignorant or insincere.”

    … and you intend to lecture me about Ahavat Chinam?!?!?!?!?

    I’m very pleased that the blogmasters have also introduced a thread about “non-judgementalism” towards non-religious people. Hopefully the juxtaposition of these 2 threads will let people see the strong parallels between secular liberal narcissism and haredi narcissm.

    Both groups reserve for themselves a unique position close to Truth and Virtue.

    Both have constructed self-referential definitions of Truth and Virtue that disenfranchise anyone who disagrees with them.

    For the left-liberal “progressive”, being “tolerant” means agreeing with the politically correct litany. Many BTs on this list have encountered the ironic lack of real “tolerance” by these people when faced with the “diversity” of a practicing Jew or Christian.

    Something similar has taken over parts of the haredi world. In YY’s construct any dissent from the haredi opinion is BY DEFINITION not a valid dispute within the bounds of halacha.

    In this haredi house of mirrors it is not possible to ever attain a Hillel/Shammai dispute on a major issue.

    Like yy, the haredim have redefined “halacha” just as the liberals have redefined “tolerance” – in a way that automatically excludes any opinion but their own. You cannot diverge from politically correct beliefs and still be considered “tolerant” – and you cannot hold differently from haredi “da’as Torah” and still be considered a Torah-true Jew.

    Alternative halachic opinions are by definition inferior, insincere – inauthentic and beyond the pale.

    Sorry, bubba – lectures about Ahavat Chinam aren’t going to cover this narcissistic warping of Torah Judaism.

    As a committed Jew I care too much to let this distortion of the Halachic process pass unchallenged.

  79. Michoel
    July 29th, 2008 @ 2:22 pm

    Menachem, Shmuel, Ben David etc.
    Rabbi Marc Angel’s stating that Rav Uziel’s position is the normative historic position does not make it so. The MO camp feels that the charedim are causing the division and the Charedi camp feels that the MO camp is causing the division. To me, it is at least as clear as it is to you that MY SIDE IS CORRECT! So let’s just agree to disagree and try to work from there.

  80. Bob Miller
    July 29th, 2008 @ 2:23 pm

    Somebody else isn’t automatically wrong, but somebody else can be wrong. Calling attention to that isn’t automatically wrong.

  81. Ben-David
    July 29th, 2008 @ 2:44 pm

    Nope. This is not an “agree to disagree” issue.

    My Torah Shel B’al Peh is being distorted.

    And whatever you think about the conversion dispute, the phenomenon of haredi narcissism is much broader than a single issue.

    There is no parallel dismissal by the MO of Haredi positions. The 2 attitudes are not parallel.

    When yy says “I’d be happy to talk to the MO if only they would stick PURELY within Halacha” he is basically saying there is no “pure” Halacha besides the Haredi opinion.

    There is no parallel “precondition” on the part of the MO that disqualifies the Haredi position a priori.

    The giveaway is when he spins off into irrelevant talk about “chochma ba-goyim” – as if Rav Druckman surveyed European law before setting up his bet din.

    … the remark about “chochma ba-goyim” is the tip off that what is going on is not principled disagreement WITHIN Torah Judaism, but dismissal of the non-Haredim position as less than “PURE” Torah.

    (And considering that Chazal themselves said “chochma ba-goyim ta’amin” – the irony of using this phrase to dismiss those Jews following Chazal’s approach is delicious…)

    It’s part of a larger pattern of one-upmanship/delegitimization – so yy goes right ahead and pours on a critique of the MO “derech” totally unrelated to the issue and process under discussion.

    There may be frustrated name-calling, but there is no parallel across-the-board delegitimization of the Haredi position by the MO.

  82. Steve Mantz
    July 29th, 2008 @ 2:44 pm

    Calling someone else’s viewpoint wrong or invalid, just because it’s their viewpoint and not yours, is wrong.

  83. Michoel
    July 29th, 2008 @ 2:59 pm

    “My Torah Shel B’al Peh is being distorted.”

    Shucks, mine too.

  84. Ron Coleman
    July 29th, 2008 @ 3:01 pm

    Nope. This is not an “agree to disagree” issue.

    My Torah Shel B’al Peh is being distorted.

    Yeah, well you got peanut butter on my chocolate!

  85. Charlie Hall
    July 29th, 2008 @ 3:18 pm

    “Rav Druckman was actually applying the standard , more lenient, conversion practice that has been used in much of the world. ”

    It is worth pointing out that Rabbi Druckman is being supported by the Rabbinical Council of America, Chief Rabbi Amar, and Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef as well as the overwhelming majority of Dati Leumi rabbis. I am far from the stature to be able to comment on the question of whom is correct, but this brings up the question of when a subset of the Orthodox community should give up its positions in favor of those held by the majority. The same issue came up in the early 20th century regarding Zionism. More recently it has come up regarding the RCA prenup which my wife and I have signed; it has been accepted by almost every segment of the Torah world except the Ashkenazic charedim in Eretz Yisrael. This is at least as important as the conversion controversy as it has the potential to create enormous numbers of mamzerim according to the Ashkenazic charedim while freeing a lot of agunot according to everybody else.

    “Rabbi Marc Angel’s stating that Rav Uziel’s position is the normative historic position does not make it so.”

    I think most Modern Orthodox Rabbis disagree with Rabbi Angel on this. Rav Uziel may well be a daat yachid. But there are indeed instances in which we pasken according to a daat yachid. Modern Orthodox communities in the United States rely on Rov Soloveitchik’s opinions in a number of matters in which he seems to have disagreed with almost everyone else., including women studying talmud in depth, co-ed schools, and women singing in public. This brings up the question of under what circumstances a daat yachid may be relied upon, how significant must the daat yachid be, and of whom is of sufficient stature to rely on one, and can others rely on it b’dieved even though they would not have done so l’chatchila. (It should point out that I’ve personally seen no evidence that Rabbi Druckman actually relies on Rav Uziel’s opinion, nor even that Rabbi Angel does so in practice.)

  86. Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)
    July 29th, 2008 @ 4:08 pm

    Charlie Hall:

    I think the issue isn’t necessarily a “when do we rely on a da‘at yahhid” question.

    It’s a choice of Posqim. MO communities follow their own halakhic decisors. Hhareidi communities follow *their* own halakhic decisors, as well.

    And those meta-halakhic issues of weighing values and perspective that affect halakhic decision-making cause different rabbis and communities to hold differently.
    In those cases, it’s not a question of ‘majority rules’, it’s a question of following the halakhists who share your values.

  87. Chaim Grossferstant
    July 29th, 2008 @ 4:28 pm

    we should have a sequel called “Healing the Rift Within the Beyond Teshuva Blog Community”

  88. yy
    July 29th, 2008 @ 5:14 pm

    B-D, isn’t it time we talk directly and with real respect? And yes, I mean us BOTH.

    The nature of these discussions get heated and personal, as we both seem viscerally determined to ferret out THE enemy. But shouldn’t we be TRYING to get beyond that? I have indeed tried many times and am astounded at how brazenly uninterested you are. Yet you dare to criticize “self-certainty” (in the very first comment, above)?

    Even worse, after those calls for dialogue and brotherhood you don’t just lay low but come back even more vociferous, agressive, besmirching and downright determined paint your counterpart into a monster that has absolutely no resemblance to his reality (except for the long beard, perhaps)!

    How did you put it once — that I “should get out a little more” — afterwhich I assured you I’ve been and continue to get out plenty, probably more than the average DL. No response.

    Now I don’t want to put you on the defensive by having proven some fault of yours, but I do think it’s crucial for those in this forum who are seeing this exchange for the first or second or only third time, to note that it has some gnarly roots.

    You bristle at my “lecturing” on ah’ chinam. Please, my friend, I assure you it is NOT a lecture. It is THE point of the article, around which we’re all supposed to be commenting:

    “Frankly speaking, this is not the Torah way.

    And if cooler heads don’t prevail, and soon, it could cause lasting damage to the inner fabric of Orthodox Jewry, potentially tearing the community apart.”

    I intially lent my support to this sentiment and attempted to expand upon it, perhaps with some “eloquence”, as Michoel so generously put it, but certainly not as an escape from any issue! The author did NOT recall the conversion dispute in order to rehash all the rhetoric and venom, but in order to consider ways for mending the torn fabric amongst our holy nation.

    So how are you doing that?, I contiue to ask. Any of you?

    I know there’s a thrill in exploring this dark hole, ruffling our feathers and claiming authoritative knowledge of the pathology of the other side. Perhaps there’s also a genuine belief that the rift can be healed on such a blog by simply getting real tough and no-nonsense tachlisdig. But if it uses lines like “to hell with the other streams of Torah Judaism”; “This is not an ‘agree to disagree’ issue”; “Sorry, bubba” — well, its not hard to see that some very bad blood is boiling here.

    And I for one find no value in playing intellectual cat and mouse while such blood is boiling.

  89. Menachem Lipkin
    July 29th, 2008 @ 5:49 pm

    “So how are you doing that?, I contiue to ask. Any of you?”

    I live in Beit Shemesh in a DL community that directly boarders on two Chareidi communities. One of these communities is infamous for being a hotbed of fundamentalism, rioting, and violence. I won’t go into details but it got to the point where we felt so besieged that the response could have been physical.

    A young Rabbi in our community spearheaded a community meeting. There was a lot of venting but we also formed several committees. One to defend ourselves if c”v need be, one to clean up graffiti, and one to reach out to our neighbors.

    Through that last committee there have been two meetings between their Rabbi/leader and a couple of our Rabbis, we have opened a line of communication to attempt to pre-empt problems from developing (and his actually worked on a few occasions), we sent every family in 5 apartment buildings Shaloch Manos on Purim.

    Most importantly we’ve made a slight a dent in their perception of us as virtual apikorsim (heretics).

  90. yy
    July 29th, 2008 @ 6:14 pm

    “there must be a shared foundation in seeking out H’s Will PURELY within the Halacha, and not allowing any romance with chokhma b’goyim call the shots.”

    This is the quote from MY comment, #65, that riled our friend so. I remain with the above request to wait for calmer blood before doing any further hard core analysis, but this is one reference I must clarify, as it has been utterly misinterpreted.

    It was claimed that in contrast to having a “principled disagreement WITHIN Torah Judaism, (I used this remark as a) dismissal of the non-Haredim position as less than ‘PURE’ Torah.”

    First, how many times can I repeat, I AM NOT HAREIDI! I have NO political group that represents me in Knesset nor do I tote all of the standard Hashkafas popularly called Hareidi. There are some overlaps in my thinking, as there are also in some aspects of R.Z.thinking. So now you can drop that “He loves to dismiss all non-Haredis” line.

    What I did do is call for a serious assessment of the extent of extra-Halachic agendas which the conversion authorities were employing (as Bob and a few others have noted here) and emplyed the Khokhma b’goyim maxim to that end.

    The Nesivos Sholom explains at the end of volume I that this maxim couldn’t possibly be about non-Torah based wisdom. Surely Chazal weren’t telling us to believe in anything other than what Torah teaches. Rather they were distinguishing between Khokhma (wisdom) and TORAH, as the end of the saying is “Torah b’goyim – AL ta’amin! (If one suggests that the gentiles have Torah – DON’T believe them!)

    That is, Torah entails wisdom AS WELL AS kdusha (holiness). It’s this that they warn we can NEVER gain from the gentiles. Their intellectual “wisdom” may exist and be used as a tool in the service of Torah life just like a good recipe for non-kosher marianated chicken may be used for a Shabbos meal. But oy-v’voy if you use their chicken or even the culture around which they do their baking!

    So too, as much as I know that many DL’s will naturally feel attacked by this, in the name of truth I respectfully challenge you to consider the implication of the Nesivos’s pshat: How far can we take all the extra-halachic considerations that went into setting up such a State run Conversion Beis Din? There might be a Khokhma in trying to make the system effecient enough to absorb all the new olim, but there’s no TORAH in it!

    Lila tov

  91. yy
    July 29th, 2008 @ 6:25 pm

    Y. Koiach on the M. Manos, Menachem. That IS a big step.

  92. Ben-David
    July 29th, 2008 @ 7:22 pm

    yy:
    The Nesivos Sholom explains at the end of volume I that this maxim couldn’t possibly be about non-Torah based wisdom. Surely Chazal weren’t telling us to believe in anything other than what Torah teaches.
    – – – – – – – – –

    You are quoting a later scholar from within the ranks of the modern, circle-the-wagons haredi movement.

    This is not the most authoritative interpretation of this saying of Chazal. Nor does it have the weight of historical precedent behind it.

    In fact, in the context of mainstream historical interpretation of this topic, one could even say the Nesivos is revisionist or reactionary.

    Again, despite your protestations that you are not a haredi, you don’t seem able to reason your way out of the hermetically sealed haredi mindset.

    Bitter – and, as on this list, wryly ironic – experience has confirmed the professional psychologist’s observation that people locked in a narcissistic mindset are extremely hard to reach, or change – because they don’t admit they are in any way at fault, and deflect/project any criticism (which is basically where we have gotten – again – in our exchange.)

    So I haven’t been able to do very much to mend the rift that I perceive in Orthodoxy – in fact, I have felt myself to be ill-treated by some friends and family who have adopted the Chumra Culture, and as I’ve written before, I am witness to the silent crises of several other friends who are chafing against that culture.

    My attention is directed more towards defense of my own way in Torah, to fighting back politically, and helping to heal the rift that Haredi elitism is opening between the Orthodox and the increasingly disenchanted traditional Israelis.

    I think these venues are simply more productive than trying to pierce the bubble of the Chumra Culture. The haredi world will not change its ways until it implodes.

    In the meantime, I am doing what I can to preserve normative halacha – and to assure the rest of Am Yisroel that they are not disenfranchised, and that non-Chumra-distorted Torah Judaism is actually livable and relevant to modern life, and capable of illuminating this world.

  93. Jaded Topaz
    July 29th, 2008 @ 11:11 pm

    I think everyone Jewish denomination should have their own legal database that includes every accusation, complaint,answer, defense, lawsuit, ruling, pleading, motion, decision,suggestion,overuling,new law, that pertains to their specific denomination. And all related legal research material used. And detailed explanations how they have come to the stances they are holding on to steadily, standing with us here today.

    This should include stances and positions on all major issues of contention from wiggy wigs to six days of holidaying (bosses in 2008 do not like the eight day holiday thing especiallly when those three day wonders start out on a bright Tuesday.
    This makes more sense logically speaking; instead of listening to everyone’s slightly off color, myopically tinted, sincerely subjective and emotional opinion on the matter.
    I think it makes more sense to be able to just research the issue using the facts.

    As for mending rifts for starters any out of control hareidim with their segregated buses nonesense, mp4 banishing fetishes, immodesty bleachings , going batty eyed with the bats/dumpsters, and other flammable objects topics or subjects, these clearly mentally unstable individuals should be sued constantly, maybe even a night in jail might lower the testosterone levels a little, until they start understanding how absurd they are acting. What is wrong with these people ?

    As for the conversion issue the plaintiff’s complaint and the defendant’s answer should be readily available to anyone that wants to understand where both sides are coming from using their own astute sense of halacha and G-d given brain and sense of comprehension.

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to read Rabbi Druckmans answers to the complaints and his personal reasons and or assertions as to what he does or doesn’t do/require/appear/and or whatever with regards to converting and conversions.
    Instead of hypothesizing about what he might or might not be relying on?
    Also, what does anyone’s honor have to do with anything?

  94. Menachem Lipkin
    July 30th, 2008 @ 12:26 am

    yy, you can’t just whip out a daas yachid on the subject and then use it as a weapon of “truth”.

    Truth comes from Torah and those that are steeped in it. Rav Druckman is steeped in Torah as are many other gedolei Torah who see the Medina (not necessarily the government) as vessell of holiness. Therefore, even taking into account your Nisvas Shalom quote, we’re not talking about Chchmas Goyim, we’re talking about applying pure Torah to a real world situation, i.e taking into account extra-halachic consideration. That’s what poskim do, Chareidi, MO, and DL. That’s exactly what the examples I gave what up there somewhere to Ron were, and that’s what the Chareidi Gedolim did when they banned concerts, cell phones, various books and authors, etc.

    You, Bob, and some of the others have to realize that, despite your protestations to the contrary, your perspective on the conversion issue is completely from the Chareidi POV. While you have every right to take that perspective, just realize that there are other, equally valid perspectives they view things virtually opposite, i.e. that Rav Druckman was taking the “true” Torah path and Rabbi Sherman’s legal decision is ripping an the very heart of Jewish unity, not to mention the untold anguish it has/is causing countless righteous converts.

    Compromise is possible but only going forward, not in Rabbi Sherman’s retroactive world.

  95. Jaded Topaz
    July 30th, 2008 @ 2:58 am

    Menachem Lipkin,

    Have you read the ruling? There are complex issues that have nothing to do with hareidi zealots and their point of view. Like the section on an invalid judge/rabbincal court/document signings, those accusations seem pretty serious, are they just fabricated out of thin air and hearsay?
    Or do they not really have any relevance in 2008 courtroom decisions?

    And why would anyone care about what other organizations,press releases and leaders think of Rabbi Druckman’s way of doing things before listening to what his own stances and opinions are and why he believes they are correct. Are there any statements of Rabbi Druckman’s around to read regarding this specific ruling and all the claims its’ claiming ?

    I think this can all be clarified, straightened out and fixed if Rabbi Druckman would just address each claim on that long and complicated ruling and set the record straight or something.

    How is Rabbi Sherman’s “lifnei iver” claiming more hareidi than the RCA’s “do not cause a convert pain” claim in their press release.Both are ordinary thou shalt not’s.
    Logically speaking, where there is no stumbling block there is no pain being caused?

    1)I understand not feeling the need to be on the defensive, especially to a seemingly biased beth din like this one, but It’s not clear why Rabbi Druckman did not get together with Rabbi Sherman to discuss the issues/accusations before it got out of control.

    2)Did he know about the ruling before it was publicized? When was he told about the ruling? Was he given a chance to defend himself in a fair court of law?

    3)Beth Din’s in general are so corrupt nowadays it’s so sad actually; they need a whole new set of rules to run under. Some of them are so unfair, biased subjective complete with dim judges that are hardly fair.

    4)Is it possible for both Rabbi Sherman and Rabbi Druckman to take their ideological differences to a higher Supreme Rabbinical Court or some kind of Beth Din situation that would be comprised of judges from both sides of the denomination spectrum, who would listen to both sides and make a decision?

    5)Did Rabbi Druckman respond to any parts of the ruling yet?

    6)Here in New York we have really fair Beth Din courts, (some of them anyway) I think both Rabbis should do a trip to New York and have their day in court here. And they can each bring their own lawyers too.

  96. Michoel
    July 30th, 2008 @ 7:59 am

    Menachem,
    According to Rabbi Sherman, some of the conversion in question were NEVER valid. So to refer to them as “retroactive” is just not accurate. Just to be clear, according to Rav Druckman, they were and still are valid. According to Rav Sherman the were never valid. It is unrealistic for Rav Druckman’s camp to demand that Rav Sherman’s camp accept their definitions.

    And even now, Rav Druckman’s camp is free to rely on his conversions.

  97. Michoel
    July 30th, 2008 @ 8:05 am

    Ben-Daivd,
    “Bitter …psychologist’s observation that people locked in a narcissistic mindset are extremely hard to reach, … at fault, and deflect/project any criticism …”

    Failing to agree to your brilliant wisdom is not the same thing refusing to acknowledge fault. Your posts are getting a bit tedious.

    There are huge faults in the Charedi world. There are (IMO) huge faults in the MO-DL world.

  98. Michoel
    July 30th, 2008 @ 8:13 am

    “In the meantime, I am doing what I can to preserve normative halacha – ”

    You keep presenting this as fact but you need to substantiate. Please tell me a din in hilchos shabbos that the MO world in general is more meikel than the charedi world (in general)? Both, in the US, rely heavily on Reb Moshe.

    Please define, with some clarity, the term normative halacha.

  99. Menachem Lipkin
    July 30th, 2008 @ 8:22 am

    JT,

    You ask some good questions and raise some excellent points. Obviously I can’t answer questions you posed about Rabbi Druckman’s state of mind and actions since the report.

    I have not read the full report, just excerpts. However, my Rav has and has spoken about it in shul. (My Rav is a major talmud chachom who has taught under Rav Druckman, yet is a real straight and will always tell it like it is.) And some of us have spoken to him privately on the issue. He has said that a conversion by Rav Druckman is a valid conversion.

    Regarding the RCA statement vs the report. The RCA statement seemed very carefully worded not to impugn Rabbi Sherman personally, but addressed the legal decision. That is not so with the legal decision of the court regarding Rav Druckman.

    I think the tangent of the conversion has strayed a bit far from from the original article. Just to bring it around a bit, Freund raised the reactions to the conversion to show balanced negativity coming from both sides. And really while the reactions may be similar the “reacters” are not.

    I hope we do get some clarity on your questions soon.

  100. Menachem Lipkin
    July 30th, 2008 @ 8:25 am

    “So to refer to them as “retroactive” is just not accurate.”

    Michoel you should stick with your “agree to disagree” philosophy, i.e. if one believes the conversion commission’s conversions were valid that indeed Rabbi Sherman’s attempt at nullification would be retroactive.

  101. Michoel
    July 30th, 2008 @ 8:35 am

    I AM sticking with my agree to disagree. And I disagree that according to Rav Sherman the conversions are nullified retroactively. And I fully acknowledge that according to Rav Druckman the term retroactive is accurate.

    So I am tolerant of your position but do not agree that I must adopt your terms.

    BTW, I had to run back from EY early do to a health issue in the family so I am sorry we weren’t able to meet in person, but thank you again for your offer.

  102. Menachem Lipkin
    July 30th, 2008 @ 8:54 am

    Sorry to hear that. I hope everything is ok. The offer still stands, retroactively. :)

  103. David Linn
    July 30th, 2008 @ 9:12 am

    Why are we surprised that the two sides of the issue (or of many issues) can’t bridge the rift when we can’t even have a simple discussion about it without hurling invectives and accusations?

  104. Michoel
    July 30th, 2008 @ 9:28 am

    Thank you :-)

    Everyone is fine, Baruch Hashem.

  105. Ron Coleman
    July 30th, 2008 @ 11:45 am

    I have felt myself to be ill-treated by some friends and family who have adopted the Chumra Culture

    Did that ill treatment begin before or after you told them you had a clever epithet to contemptuously describe their heartfelt religious beliefs?

    Or was it describing “the ranks of the modern, circle-the-wagons haredi movement,” the “hermetically sealed haredi mindsetm” or “the rift that Haredi elitism is opening” that got them all locked in a narcissistic mindset and stuff? Them and their condescending elitism!

    I also do not understand the comparison to the respect according Hillel by Shammai and vice-versa. Hillel knew Shammai was not only a Tanna, but one of the greatest of tannaim! And so regarding Shammai’s view of Hillel.

    I do not believe these shared, and earned, premises obtain in the present situation.

  106. Ben-David
    July 30th, 2008 @ 11:50 am

    Michoel:
    Failing to agree to your brilliant wisdom is not the same thing refusing to acknowledge fault.
    – – – – – – – – –
    I have studiously steered clear of the conversion issue, or any other issue – because the real issue is at the level of process and preconceptions.

    So when you write:
    There are huge faults in the Charedi world. There are (IMO) huge faults in the MO-DL world.
    – – – – – – – – –
    The difference in the reaction to that reality.

    A mature, well-integrated reaction is to accept one’s faults, and examine the motives that might be leading one astray. And to be willing to learn.

    The immature, narcissistic response is to deny the possibility of fault (“da’as Torah”) and attempt to squalch/delegitimize the critics.

    For all its faults, I think MO is still open to to mature introspection in a way the haredi world is not. The communities and institutions roughly corresponding to YU’s sphere of influence have relinquished several earlier practices that were no longer deemed necessary or halachically consistent. That took a lot of insight and integrity.

    The contrast between that and the oppressive public discourse and chumra culture of the haredi world is, to me, significant.

    And when you write:
    Please tell me a din in hilchos shabbos that the MO world in general is more meikel than the charedi world (in general)? Both, in the US, rely heavily on Reb Moshe.

    Please define, with some clarity, the term normative halacha.
    – – – – – – – – – – –
    Yes, that’s right – both MO and American frummies rely on the same precedents for 90% of Halacha, in the context of a centuries-long tradition in which various communities sustained their own Halachic rulings, and the “Gadol Ha-Dor” was consulted on matters of greater complexity or wider impact.

    So there’s your definition of “normative halacha”.

    Can you please explain to me why:

    1) You assume that MO equals being meikel.

    2) MO is not considered “normative” halacha if, as you say, they are both based on the same precedents and adhere to the same halachic process.

    The normative halacha process has been challenged recently by several developments:

    1) The increasing mainstreaming of chumrot within the haredi community, to the point where these chumrot have become the new norm – and those not taking them on are branded as “meikel” or worse (I kinda like yy’s formulation: not “pure” enough – that captures the elitism underlying it all).

    2) The great, miraculous ingathering of the Jews to our homeland, which has revealed a need for a lot more far-reaching thinking now that halacha is no longer just a communal process, but a national one. This is where R. Druckman and his halachic choices come in – iconic of general MO/DL support of halachic approaches that engage these new challenges (shmittah, etc.).

    But you’re quite right – MO and DL are definitely practicing normative shulchan-aruch-mishna-berura Torah Judaism.

  107. Michoel
    July 30th, 2008 @ 11:58 am

    I am losing you. I don’t have time right now.

  108. Mark Frankel
    July 30th, 2008 @ 12:00 pm

    But you’re quite right – MO and DL are definitely practicing normative shulchan-aruch-mishna-berura Torah Judaism.

    I was going to ask you if you considered shulchan-aruch-mishna-berura Torah Judaism normative. I’m assuming from your statement that you do.

    Besides Tznius issues and concert and book bans, can you give us a few specific halachas that are part of the chumra culture so we can better under your perception of the problem.

    (Just as a note, the rhetoric does make it hard to understand your position, so for us simpler folks who really want to understand you, can you please turn it down a notch or so.)

  109. Bob Miller
    July 30th, 2008 @ 1:10 pm

    Menachem Lipkin said , “You, Bob, and some of the others have to realize that, despite your protestations to the contrary, your perspective on the conversion issue is completely from the Chareidi POV.”

    I hope I made no protestations to the contrary on this issue, as I do support the Chareidi perspective about conversions. However, I made no claim that the DL perspective was invalid on all issues.

  110. Michoel
    July 30th, 2008 @ 1:35 pm

    I hear (and of course it may well just be the circles I run in) a greater willingness on the part of Charedim to admit that their perspective is just that, their perspective.

    What does the term “Centrist” mean? It is nothing less than a self-proclamation of historical rectitude. Who told the MO community to use that term? It is just political posturing.

  111. Mark Frankel
    July 30th, 2008 @ 2:08 pm

    I think that part of the problem is that at the heart of this rift is the focus on the question of which is the better derech, Modern or Charedi.

    Each side thinks they are better and they cite all their positives while pointing out the negatives of the other derech.

    It’s like always highlighting your personal positives while always pointing out the negatives of the other guy.

    I’ll go out on a limb here and say that I don’t think that’s what Hashem wants.

    We need to focus on seeing our own negatives and working on improving them. Pointing out somebody else’s negatives is only valid when it will help them change. I think it’s off the charts to plead that we’re trying to force the other person or derech to implode so that they’ll finally improve.

    Let’s try to recognize that Hashem set up different halachic-observing derachim in the world and each individual is responsible for choosing the derech that is best for them.

    If you see a problem in another person or derech, point it out in a way that the other person can hear it. If it just causes pain then your “mitzvah” turns into an aveirah.

    We really need to work hard on this so let’s all assume some responsibility on improving this situation. Whether it’s equal responsibility is really irrelevant, we need to focus on what we can do to improve any situation.

    Let’s do what small part WE can to heal the rift.

  112. Michoel
    July 30th, 2008 @ 2:15 pm

    Amen, count me in.

  113. Steve Mantz
    July 30th, 2008 @ 2:52 pm

    Mark,

    What rift? I see no rift. I see two vibrant dynamic communities, each with its own way of doing things. A little conflict is inevitable.

  114. Ellen
    July 30th, 2008 @ 3:31 pm

    I haven’t had a chance to read all the comments yet, so I’m sorry if I’m being repetitive…but, has anyone noticed the irony of this thread juxtaposed against the article and thread following this one re being non-judgemental towards non-observant Jews?

  115. Ron Coleman
    July 30th, 2008 @ 4:18 pm

    Steve Mantz… you may be onto something.

  116. Bob Miller
    July 30th, 2008 @ 4:48 pm

    Does nonjudgmental mean non-in-your-face-judgmental or does it mean making no judgments at all, even in your own mind?

  117. Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)
    July 30th, 2008 @ 5:01 pm

    re: the term “shulhhan-‘arukh-mishna-berura”

    The MO community and its rabbinic leaders don’t consider the Mishna Berura as authoritative as the Hhareidi community and its rabbinic leaders seem to.
    We are more likely to take other opinions, such as the ‘Arukh Hashulhhan (as the most prominent example), into account.

  118. Mark Frankel
    July 30th, 2008 @ 5:27 pm

    Steg, is it the Arukh Hashulhhan as opposed to opposed to the Mishna Berura or is it the AH and the MB and any other halachic works?

    I’ve been learning with Rebbeim from YU for close to 8 years on a regular basis and I think you’ll find a divergence of opinion within MO as to the relative authoritativeness of various halachic seforim.

  119. Bob Miller
    July 30th, 2008 @ 5:35 pm

    Are any of the works that MO poskim follow written by other MO poskim?

  120. Steve Mantz
    July 30th, 2008 @ 6:15 pm

    By the way, healing any such rift is simple. there is no basis for opposing or disliking one’s fellow Jew, except on the basis of halacha. None whatsoever.

    Is there a halacha which says one cannot attend movies or read secular novels? I don’t know of any.

    On the other hand, if there are differences in practical approach or tradition, that’s a different story, and may be a real issue. However, I would submit that such differences do not constitute a rift, but rather just a difference in style. The question is, once these stylistic differences emerge, how do we then address them, or perhaps even mitigate them?

    Such an effort cannot occur on a macro- or group level, but rather only on the level of individual interactions. The reason for this is that, as I just said, such differences may not be a rift at all, but rather simply a difference in individual style or approach. So addressing it does not require a wholesale change in the entire community, but rather constant improvement in individual interactions.

    Now, if you are noticing a problem with wholesale interactions between groups as a whole, that is a different story as well. However, addressing those may be a lot more complex than simply adopting different community tactics. The existence of such a rift has no basis in halacha. So what are the problematic behaviors, firstly, and also how do we address them?

    my only point here is that the mere existence of two communities, or different practices within each, should not be considered a “rift”. However if there are any genuine problems or practices which do create an actual rift, perhaps we need to identify and define those more specifically, rather than assuming that they are self-evident just because there are two different communities here.

  121. Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)
    July 30th, 2008 @ 6:19 pm

    Mark Frankel:

    My point is that it’s not *just* the MB. The MB is a good resource, but in the MO world, other halakhic works also have weight. The MB isn’t the “final word”.

    Bob Miller:

    Shu”t Beney Banim (R’ Henkin the Younger) is probably the most well-known example. But i don’t think you could classify people like the authors of MB and ‘AH according to our contemporary intradenominational lines.

  122. yy
    July 30th, 2008 @ 6:29 pm

    Have we forgotten that this post began with a reminder of the peril of our being within the Three Weeks?

    Personally, I’m flabbergasted at how insensitive this thread has been, overall, to that call of the hour. There were a few attempts to keep it on track and then somehow we were highjacked!

    Commentator #1 established that despite the heartcall for gestures of brotherhood, he wouldn’t “paper over” the issues and immediately identified the main culprit: the big bad Hareidim. Their crime is in their “self-certainty” in refusing to “view other streams of Orthodoxy as equally authentic/valid upholders of Torah-true Judaism.”

    It makes us wonder how he’d respond to a wave of Zionistic Xns suddenly challenging (chv”sh) the right of DL Jews to claim E.Y. Now remember, it’s taboo to show any self-certainty about other beliefs not being as authentic as your own!

    Later he framed it like this: “When yy says ‘I’d be happy to talk to the MO if only they would stick PURELY within Halacha’ he is basically saying there is no ‘pure’ Halacha besides the Haredi opinion.”

    Well I hate to correct your basics, but I’ve never counseled with the official Hareidi handbook of halachic thought! Nor by G-d do most of my thinking patterns come close to the profile of the poor sap you’ve been hoping to project onto. My many years in university Jewish philosophy courses and then a good number within D.L. Yeshiva circles are my claim to fame. If you don’t believe it, please try me and give me a call (ask David for the #). We can meet for coffee in J-m. I can invite my chavruta over, who’s a Rav in Efrat who largely identifies as a R.Z.

    Just please, don’t call me “Bubba”! Nor put peanutbutter on my chocolate! ;~}

    In all seriousness, it’s time for B-D and company to genuinely ask what all this scab reopening is doing to further the spirit of these Three Weeks. Menachem shared a special maaseh. Aren’t such acts and sentiments the Ikkar that we should be focussing on?

    That’s part of what I mean by PURE Halacha. Here we are puffing our chests about how Centrism or Normatism is the real truth and outright ignoring the Halachas at hand, as championed by the writer of this post!

    All that said, let me leave you with a clear-cut synopsis of how I see Halacha, so that you will never again distort it (G”W):

    It is the supreme vehicle for discerning ratzon H’ and a major criterian for it to function correctly is for those who are its Decisors to be totally devoted to the KDUSHA of TORAH, in contrast to Khokhmas HaGoyim, which has only limited value when used in complementation.

    Like this or not, it’s possible to respect me for this perspective. And perhaps learn a thing or two. Trust me — I won’t bring any proofs for why a black kippa is holier than a knitted one, no matter which ear it covers!

  123. Mark Frankel
    July 30th, 2008 @ 6:50 pm

    Steg, other halachic works have weight in the Charedi world, but the MB is the baseline. My experience has shown me that’s the case in parts of the MO world as well.

    Just a note that my experience has also been that the halachic differences between left wing ultra orthodox and right wing modern orthodox are pretty small.

  124. Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)
    July 30th, 2008 @ 6:59 pm

    Mark:

    Of course, that’s why it’s a spectrum and not a series of neat little boxes :-)

  125. Michael Freund
    July 30th, 2008 @ 7:24 pm

    As the author of the article above, I want to respond to those who have unfairly (and I would add, inappropriately) accused me of being pollyanish or of putting forth a “Kumbaya approach”.

    Frankly, the point I was and am trying to get across is very simple: we need to step out of the “courtroom mentality” (where we try to show that “our” side, be it MO or Hareidi, is in the right) and look for practical ways to bridge the gap between the two communities. Like it or not, Orthodoxy is divided, the division is growing stronger, and this is weakening us all as well as Am Yisrael. Hence, my sense of urgency about the issue, and my desire to focus on constructive steps rather than damaging criticism.

    Some of the comments posted in response to my article have suggested that “it will never work”, “they will never agree to it” etc. But that attitude is a sure guarantee of failure. Only by doing something to bring about Achdut (or Achdus), can we actually hope to achieve it.

    Indeed, the very fact that some have objected to the ideas that I suggest is a sure sign that the rift is worse than many of us had thought. And those who sit on the sidelines, gripe and complain, and hurl further abuse, are in fact only exacerbating the problem.

    I have no illusions that unity is right around the corner. But I also do not doubt for a moment that it is our responsibility – each and everyone of us – to do what we can to help make it happen.

  126. Bob Miller
    July 30th, 2008 @ 8:12 pm

    Most good things start out on a small scale. If some approach works in some place, it could inspire others.

  127. Charles B. Hall
    July 30th, 2008 @ 11:50 pm

    “Are any of the works that MO poskim follow written by other MO poskim?”

    Much of what MO rabbis do in the United States is based on the halachic and hashkafic opinions of Rov Solvoveitchik z’tz’. I know that when I ask my rav a shilah, he will often start his response with, “The Rov told me….”

    But the Rov published very little during his lifetime. He would sometimes pasken differently to different talmidim and from time to time would change his mind. And AFAIK he never wrote formal explanations for some of his more novel opinions such as that in-depth talmud study for women is not only mutar l’chatchila but a good thing to promote! It is truly Torah she bal peh in the best sense of the term.

    The Rov’s son, Prof. Haym Soloveitchik argued, in “Rupture and Reconstruction: The Transformation of Contemporary Orthodoxy” (Tradition 28:4, 1994), that there has been a significant change in the way Judaism is transmitted, from a talmid-rebbe relationship to one based primarily on text based learning. In my own experience, Modern Orthodoxy therefore seems to be more traditional in that practices are more likely to be based on personal psak than textual research of sources.

  128. Charles B. Hall
    July 30th, 2008 @ 11:56 pm

    I had heard that a charedi-oriented kollel had recently been started in my (mostly modern orthodox) community. I finally tracked them down tonight and davened at their 10pm maariv. I was wearing a green shirt, white pants, and black velvet kippah, while everyone else was in white shirt, black suit, and black hat. I was also carrying an Artscroll talmud along with an MP3 player and headphones to listen to today’s shiur; it was the only sefer I could see in the beit midrash that had any English. I clearly looked out of place.

    But lots of folks welcomed me, one of the rabbis asked who I was and where I worked, and after the minyan several guys went out of their way to invite me to come again! I have to say that it was more friendly than is typical at the modern orthodox shuls I usually attend.

  129. Charles B. Hall
    July 31st, 2008 @ 12:02 am

    Regarding the alleged chumrah culture, while there are indeed some areas in which going far beyond the halachic requirement has become the norm in many communities, there are also a few areas in which accepted practice has gone in the other direction. How many public eruvim existed in the United States 50 years ago? I’m unaware of a single one. But today there is a public eruv in the overwhelming majority of frum communities in both the US and Eretz Yirael. (This may actually be a restoration of prewar custom as public eruvim existed in a number of European cities before the Shoah.) How many frum families reheated cold cooked food on Shabat day? One of the oldtimers at my shul told the rabbi at a Shabat kitchen shiur that the only cooked food anyone ever ate on Shabat day in her frum family or any other frum family she knew when she was growing up was cholent. The mishnah berurah does not permit a physician to violate a Shabat prohibition to save the life of a non-Jew, but I am unaware of any Orthodox rabbi alive today who would not tell a physician that he MUST violate Shabat to save the life of a non-Jew! I’m sure there are other examples.

  130. yy
    July 31st, 2008 @ 3:45 am

    Thank you, Michael Freund, for adding your perspective to the thread. I wholeheartedly agree that your message was clearly calling attention to the problem that “Orthodoxy is divided, the division is growing stronger, and this is weakening us all as well as Am Yisrael” … and that your primary interest was “to focus on constructive steps rather than damaging criticism.”

    Unfortunately this message was basically ignored and even manipulated, only exasperating the problem. In terms of chazal, I think is precisely what is meant by Sinas CHINAM. Even when the opportunity is given for a little achdut(s), the sina is insisted upon.

    nebach.

    What can we do? It’s the sign of the depths of these troubled times. Perhaps it offers a backhanded hope that the rift will soon become so painful that we’ll be FORCED to bridge it.

    Ahavas CHIIIIIIIIIIIIINAM

  131. yy
    July 31st, 2008 @ 4:24 am

    So here’s a stab at ah’ Chinam that is far from pollyanish:

    Menachem wrote: “you can’t just whip out a daas yachid on the subject and then use it as a weapon of ‘truth’… Rav Druckman is steeped in Torah as are many other gedolei Torah who see the Medina (not necessarily the government) as vessell of holiness. Therefore, even taking into account your Nisvas Shalom quote, we’re not talking about Chchmas Goyim, we’re talking about applying pure Torah to a real world situation”

    I really want to believe in this premise that Rav D. is as Gadol in kdushas HaTorah as the N. Sholom and that he’s respectively using the State’s mass-Coversion courts as a pure vessel for galvanizing all those wonderful Neshamas that have made there way here into the same Dat-emet. But then how do you explain that so many who’ve passed thru that pure vessel have come out totally frie? How to explain the case that Rabbi S was confronted with?

    Now hoooold on, my friend. I do NOT mean to get us back into the visceral thing. And I do NOT expect that we will come up with the last word on the subject. But I do want you to see the utter contradiction Rabbi D’s orientation has posed to my beloved “Daas Yachid”… and STILL I have no problem suggesting we meet for coffee.

    I agree that the way some have used this terrible dispute to suggest that EVERYone alligned with those questionably kadosh courts is pasul is ALSO a sign of sinas Chinam. But I want you to realize how much the court’s pretension to be doing H’s Will spits in the face of what I’ve learned is truth… and STILL I want to find a way to share what we can.

    Isn’t that the best we can do?

  132. yy
    July 31st, 2008 @ 7:10 am

    Btw,I really don’t know what is meant to be accomplished by isolating such an incisively compelling pshat like that brought by the N. Sh.,instead of considering it on its own merit, but rest assured I’m not out to sell it to anyone. Just thought it a valid foundation among tsaddikei Emes for the thoughts I shared.

    Furthermore, it should be noted that those 7 volumes have have proven themselves to phenomenally bridge the spectrum of Orthodoxy like no other Hashkafa seifer. EVERYwhere you go in the world, you’ll find learners (many passionately so) of the Nesivos with the total rainbow of kippas, and from beginner BT’s to Litvisher Yeshiva bachor to most all of the chassidic courts.

    Particularly amazing when recalling that the mechaber ztsvk”l was niftar only 8 years ago.

    His Yahrzeit is next week, 7th of Av.

  133. Michoel
    July 31st, 2008 @ 8:18 am

    Prof Hall does a good job of pointing out that things are quite a bit more complicated then it may seem at first glance. Rav Aharon Soloveitchik was (I read somewhere) a moiridig machmir on yashon which even the “ultra-orthodox” chasidim are not generally makpid about, and yet Rav Aharon had a TV (according to R. Maryles). The M. B. is regarded as the posek acharon in much of the yeshivish velt but if a charedi guy would be noheg like the A. H. or Reb Moshe l’hakel, no-one would have a problem with it. The MO world is noheg tons of chumros without even realizing it.

    There is just no such thing as “normative halacha” although there certainly is such a thing as perversion of halacha and it can be found in many camps in different forms.

  134. Steve Mantz
    July 31st, 2008 @ 9:11 am

    Guys, what rift are you talking about?????!!!!!!!!

    Is there a rift just because there are two groups? That is not a rift. that is pluralism.

    Is there a rift becuase some people are engaging in negative behaviors? Then we need to identify what those negative behaviors are, then figure out way to improve them. you can’t anywhere by saying “It’s too bad we’re different. We should all try to change by becoming the same (or ‘united’, etc etc)

    I’m satrting to get a bit frustrated by this thread. half of you say we have a huge gaping problem here–only we can’t say specifically what it its, because that would mean casting blame, and we don’t want to do that.

    The other half of you say your only goal is halacha or Jewish priniciple, and that you don’t mean to make a war–but then you say how it is impossible to compromise, since it’s your principles. Well the nature of reconciliation is to compromise. if we don’t do that, we won’t get very far on this.

  135. Menachem Lipkin
    July 31st, 2008 @ 10:10 am

    y, hope you don’t mind if I call you by your first letter. :)

    Right now I stand with my Rav’s opinion (Daas Torah?) on the matter. I do know, anecdotally, that the bati din in Israel have some major problems, but that’s across the board.

    Coincidentally(?) Rabbi Yona Reiss, the new Dean of RIETS and former director of the RCA Beit Din, will be speaking in our Shul this Shabbos on the subject of, get this, “The Gerut Controversy: An Insider’s Perspective”. It’ll be in English, so I have a better chance of remembering some of it.

    If I remember enough I’ll try to report back here anything significant.

    I’m always up for coffee, name the place…

  136. Ron Coleman
    July 31st, 2008 @ 10:27 am

    Charles makes a nice point about halachic “trends” that implicitly alludes to a point made earlier: A large portion of the divergence in halachic views between the right and left wings of OJ is a matter either of political issues (i.e., Zionism) or issues implicating tzenius and interaction with non-Jewish culture.

  137. yy
    July 31st, 2008 @ 10:45 am

    No prob, Menny. It makes lots of sense to go with your Rav, who’s going with his Rav (Rav D, right?). But be careful with such literal adherence to Chazal — Aseh l’cha Rav — cuz you might soon take on a chumra in that coffee meeting with *KANEI* l’cha chaver!!

    When do you roll into Y-m?

    (actually we should plan it for after 9th Av)

  138. Bob Miller
    July 31st, 2008 @ 1:32 pm

    Charles B. Hall said “In my own experience, Modern Orthodoxy therefore seems to be more traditional in that practices are more likely to be based on personal psak than textual research of sources.”

    All things being equal, personal psak is superior when it results from a faithful transmission of our Mesorah from one generation of chachamim/poskim to another. As we know, the need for written codes, etc., resulted from the problems of transmission created by our long exile.

    I have seen examples of American rabbis “winging it” in rendering a psak halacha when they should have taken guidance from their main rebbe, other poskim, or texts. It’s not clear if this phenomenon is MO-related or America-related.

  139. Ben-David
    August 1st, 2008 @ 3:12 am

    Steve Mantz:
    Guys, what rift are you talking about?????!!!!!!!!

    Is there a rift just because there are two groups? That is not a rift. that is pluralism.

    Is there a rift becuase some people are engaging in negative behaviors? Then we need to identify what those negative behaviors are, then figure out way to improve them. you can’t anywhere by saying “It’s too bad we’re different. We should all try to change by becoming the same (or ‘united’, etc etc)
    – – – – – – – – – – – –

    There’s a rift because one group of Torah-true Jews has gone beyond disagreeing with other Torah-true groups – and is delegitimizing those other groups, saying they are not as Torah-true simply because they have come up with different Halachic conclusions, or practice different minhagim.

    Different opinions while viewing all others as still brothers in Torah and Halacha = pluralism.

    Declaring all other opinions to be external to Halachic Torah Judaism = rift.

  140. yy
    August 1st, 2008 @ 4:33 am

    Menachem, er — Menny: Just passed by the question of our meeting with a Poseq in our Shul and he assured me there’d be no problem meeting during the 9 days. Now bear in mind that in these circles, to EVER sit in a coffee shop is suspect of latzonus, bitul zman and maris ayin!! But our Khokhomim are always focused on the ikkar, so when I explained this is a rare opportunity to meet with someone represents a group of shomrei Mitzvos with whom I’ve been writing and had some sharp ideological exchanges, and this particualr Yid wants to make the mutual effort to discover more positive connections… he said “why not? This could be very good. Davka during the 9 days!”

    So there you have it. A real honest to goodness opportunity for doing ah’ Chinam. Perhaonally I think we’re ahead of the game since you and I, Menachem, seem to be blessed with complementary personalities. Nevertheless, let’s DO it.

    So I ask again, what’s a convenient day for you? I’m in a Har Nof Kollel every afternoon that would probably be flexible in letting me take off time for this. Do you have a car? Give me call on my cell: 0527-64-8381.

    I think it would be great if youring notes of R’ Reiss’s shiur to discuss. Perhaps I’ll also bring that N. Sholom to learn together? Any other suggestions?

    Any votes “out there” about trying to make this into a meeting that could be reported back on BBT?

    Shaaaaaabos

  141. David Linn
    August 1st, 2008 @ 8:47 am

    I think you should get together early sun morning, ey time, that way you coukd beam video to the bbt shabbaton.

  142. Steve Mantz
    August 1st, 2008 @ 9:45 am

    Ben-David, I agree with you. at least now we’re addressing specific behaviors to address.

    Haredi people say they can’t compromise on halacha. ok. however, there is nothing which is detrimental to halacha if one compromises with another halacha-observant group. The key is noting the difference. Making that distinction requires a certain grasp of nuance.

    None of us is perfect at perceiving nuance all the time. however, it sometimes seems like the haredi community is not even trying to perceive a nuance, and do not even admit there is any such thing as nuance.

    More specifically, they do not admit that there is an intrinsic difference between those groups who disagree with them but do observe halacha, and those groups who are not fully halacha-observant. I realize it’s not always cut-and-dried, but I’m just saying why the process of cooperation and compromise is sometimes greatly limited or sometimes non-existent.

    We all need to learn how to make compromise a bit better. Frankly, there are some less-religious groups who might say the MO community is just as intractable. So maybe it’s something we all need to work on.

    The key here is to look at specifics, and concrete issues. if we keep trying to address overall dynamics, we won’t get much progress, as there always may be a few exceptions to anything. So I suggest we try to look further at specific cases and issues, as we already have done. Also, we should not respond to every single issue by re-raising every other issue and topic here as well. perhaps that might be somewhat helpful. thanks.

  143. Michoel
    August 1st, 2008 @ 9:50 am

    “Declaring all other opinions to be external to Halachic Torah Judaism = rift.”

    But this is a fantasy that has never happened.

  144. Steve Mantz
    August 1st, 2008 @ 10:57 am

    Sorry, but how is that a fantasy? I find your statement a bit puzzling. The statement which you quoted may not accurately describe every single issue, but it does seem to have some validity.

  145. Michoel
    August 1st, 2008 @ 11:24 am

    Hello Steve,
    The way it works is that the one making the assertion needs to substantiate it. Not the one expressing incredulity.

  146. Steve Mantz
    August 1st, 2008 @ 11:32 am

    Hi Michoel. Ok, i understand. however, sorry, we are not really in a position to provide specific substantiation here. you may choose to disbelieve it if you wish. however, my impression was that discussions at this website take place in the context of everyone having some general experience of current trends in the Orthodox world. so that might be the factual context for any statements made here. thanks.

  147. Michoel
    August 1st, 2008 @ 11:36 am

    Steve,
    The problem is, that the quoted statement from Ben-David is, in my mind, such an extreme overstatement straw-man, that it would tend to exacerbate the tensions and lack of harmony that we are trying here to address. Declaring “all” etc.

    Who “declared”?

  148. Steve Mantz
    August 1st, 2008 @ 11:47 am

    Ok, i understa.,d however, that’s one possible way to resolve issues here. As i said above, one of the problems or obstacles to clear resolution was lack of specifics. It’s beeter to specifically identify one possible negative behavior, in my opinion, then to keep decrying the general divisiveness in the Jewish world “in general,” which means that we never get to the point of focusing on specific behaviors, problems or issues which we can then try to rectify. thanks.

  149. Michoel
    August 1st, 2008 @ 11:52 am

    I agree with you. I would like to see a specific behavior focused on. But in order for any really progress to be made, the specific behavior has to referenced in respectful terms. Not demanding that one side chlop their chest and admit full culpability.

  150. Ben-David
    August 2nd, 2008 @ 4:09 pm

    Michoel – A good example of haredi delegitimization of other opinions can be seen right in this thread. Take a look at yy’s posts, and those of others. You can take a look at other posts related to any number of issues – but if you want you can focus on the conversion issue if you wish.

    Regarding the conversion issue, yy (like many official haredi spokesmen who have made public statements) doesn’t relate to R. Druckman’s opinion as a valid Halachic alternative that they disagree with.

    The assertion is that R. Druckman’s halachic process is – in yy’s revealing formulation – not “pure” enough.

    yy follows up this assertion several times with a non-sequitir about “foreign influences” – as if R. Druckman checked out European immigration law before making this psak.

    Because the underlying assumption is that the MO/RZ are equivalent to Conservative and Reform Jews – people distorting or abandoning halacha to conform with non-Jewish culture.

    If you read anything published in Yated and other Haredi publications about this matter, you’ll know that Rabbi Druckman is regularly relieved of his Rabbinic title, and just called “Druckman”.

    In other words, the official organs of the haredi world take pains to show that they do not consider him a Rabbi.

    Again – the MO/RZ camp is given similar treatment to non-Halachic Jewish denominations.

    These attitudes and behaviors are not specific to R. Druckman or to the conversion issue. They are the default pattern of public haredi relationship with non-Haredi Orthodox communities.

  151. yy
    August 3rd, 2008 @ 2:43 am

    I confess. I do believe in the prime importance of purity. ESPECIALLY in the Halachic process. And ESPECALLY at this time of year, as per the call of this post. And yes, I have a substantial, intellectually reasonable basis for saying that the Torah does as well, though I don’t believe this format is geared to a fair hearing for such a case. Either a brief mention will reallign us to this fundamental (oops!) Jewish truth or it won’t.
    “Lev TAHOR bara li Elokim”.

    That purity is only the beginning. From there we have LOTS of work to do. As the possuk continues: “V’ruach nachon chadesh b’kirbi”. After the pure heart (total devotion to the system of Av’ H’ without recourse to modernity, per se) must come a correct spirit (a charitable, uplifting attitude to see the system through to its goal: genuine attachment to H’).

    Now I’m not going to rehash the whole
    story of how I’ve come to the conclusion that RABBI Drukman and company have treated this conversion issue in an obvioulsy less than pure way. But I do want to emphasis that I do NOT nor ever have viewed every individual MO or RZ necessarily impure and illegitimate. Rather I believe their movement has an inheretnly strong leaning in that direction by definition of the centrality they give to accomodating modernity, but at the same time they have other strengths which Klal Yisroel must learn from.

    So sorry if some find this view hard to accept. But if it arouses sizable sinas Chinam, that should be reason for rpose, no? And certainly if you take into consideration my oft repeated claim that I am no official Hareidi by any means. In fact, though I live on the outskirts of Mea Shearim, I do NOT consider every aspect of the so called Hareidi movement as pure!!

    So please, once again, if we achieve anything on this thread, let’s at least drop the quick and demeaning labels.

    Now you may ask, after B-D has poured so much sophistication into tarring yy as a big, bad Hareidi, what els could he be? Well let’s try this: I’m a believer in Dovid HaMelech’s Lev Tahor ethic and everything that revolves around it, and have come to understand that MUCH of the the Hareidi world does as well, tho a troubling chunk of their political wings seem not to. Hence I live in this vicinity and learn steadily with a RZ Rav and am a chossid of a Rebbe who himself decidely did NOT vote with Aguda in the last elections, tho he is not anti-ANYone.

    So don’t we feel betrayed by the impure wings of Hareidikeit. A little. But basically I see it as a sad product of the law of the political, “real-world” jungle, which in fact is a realm which MOST of the MO world revovles around.

    But please don’t attack me for this! This last point is only a theory…

    In conclusion. there’s an interesting recent post on Cross-Currents which offers relevant perspective:

    “despite strong haredi feelings about non-traditional theologies and practices, the sort of personal anger and even animosity that is regularly aimed at haredim (…) is not commonly expressed by haredim toward other Jews. All it takes is a little websurfing among haredi and other Jewish sites and blogs (especially their ‘comments’ sections) to see that what ill will there is among the various sectors of the Jewish people tends to flow largely in one direction.

    Some of that animus, sadly, seems hard-wired into some hearts, a tragedy of our time.”

  152. yy
    August 3rd, 2008 @ 3:17 am

    Correction: I said those Lev Tahor believing Yidden in the so called Hareidi world feel “a little” betrayed by the impure wings of this society. In all honesty, I actually feel QUITE betrayed and saddened for kavod Shomaym.

    As I do regarding the many severe compromises on truth my MO brothers make.

    Not that I, personally, am so much above these problems. But I WANT to be and profoundly long for a society that would conciously work together to get there.

  153. Menachem Lipkin
    August 3rd, 2008 @ 9:59 am

    yy, I left you a message on your cell.

    I just erased a whole long response to your last two comments as I felt it was just getting to cyclical.

    In short, try to watch language like “Rabbi Druckman and company”. Anyone I know who knows him personally says that he is a major talmid Chachom and a truly righteous person. The tone of that phrase is demeaning.

    As for your view of MO, mine of Chareidism is, as you might expect, almost diametrically opposite.

  154. Ben-David
    August 4th, 2008 @ 2:21 am

    Steve Brizel:
    The bottom line and ultimate answer is simply whether R Angel’s POV is accepted as normal halachic practice in the Beth Din of America.
    – – – – – – – – – – –
    Certainly the conversion issue will eventually be resolved.

    Similarly, the disagreement over prenuptial agreements will also eventually be resolved – or at least decided by history.

    But that is not the “ultimate” answer. In fact it misses the point, which is larger than any one issue.

    If R. Druckman did not have previous opinions on which to rely, he would not have made the psak he did. That is – he may have made a bold decision, but it was made within the context of halacha.

    Those opposed to him are saying that he and his decision – and his “company” – are extra-halachic. No longer practicing Torah Judaism because they disagree with “the Moetzes”.

  155. yy
    August 4th, 2008 @ 4:37 am

    Menachem, thank you for that last comment. Every bit of it. The phone was on the blink for half a day; I’ll try to access the message soon. I also have your email now – would you prefer we first communicate through that? That you avoided the cyclical response is admirable. Believe me, there is much I also have begun and deleted. perhaps we all have. But to do so and be so respectfully clear abt it in this context is a big achievement.

    I hear that the “and company” felt offensive. I didn’t mean it as such, but I suppose there was some subconscious degradation. I don’t see him as one of our generation’s tsaddikim. But that doesn’t justify being offensive. I will indeed be more careful.

    If only we all could communicate so effectively, DAVKA about views on sensitive topics that seem “diametrically opposite” to our own.

    Now the question is whether we are interested in learning from one another any further. Is there any room in your heart and of course mind for considering that my pov might reveal some new truth? Conversely, are you willing to make extra, unabrasive effort to explore your views with me that might elighten?

    I think that’s the proof ofthe pudding of ah’ chinam. When realizing the other has been educated differently and perhaps even has some problematic middos that taint his views, but in his basic orientation seeks the truth — can we lovingly engage with him and leave the conclusions to H’?

    As to tachlis, I really am interested how you and BD (if in fact you see all this the same) can view anyone who is totally committed to “the context of Halacha” as necessarily beyond reproof. Besides the fact that the info I have abt the Israeli Conversion Courts makes it clear that the scene today is very different than at the time of Rav Uziel’s (which we do NOT need to debate here!), and thus I have trouble accepting that the Rabbonim behind it are truly loyal to Halacha, still I must share with you with total honesty that the message I’ve gained from the decent amt of sfarim HaKdoishim I’ve learned on the subject of finding TRUTH in Torah observance, is that Halacha is merely the beginning. There are certain klalim of yiras shomaym and kabblas ole, let alone kdusha v’ahava, that make all the difference.

    Hence I ask, very respectfully: When the facts are that so many of these converts are emerging withOUT any pretense of Yira, k.Ole, etc, how does one justify “the context of Halacha” being end-all?

  156. yy
    August 4th, 2008 @ 7:56 am

    As I find myself waiting for my last comments to be “moderated”, I realize that I’ve become extremely frustrated with this thread. Notwithstanding the special possibility of Menachem and I meeting, the amt of fresh insight and good will that the last wave of comments have been engendering is very questionable.

    Yet I can’t shake the sense of terrible implication for klal Yisroel that ingoring of this post’s call for ah’ Y’ entails!

    So I’ll try ONE more angle. Either I’m climbing up the wrong tree or I just haven’t extended my hand correctly to those who’re seeking to sit on the same branch. Whether you have something substantial to respond or not, I’d appreciate anyone who’d let me know they supportive of my general hope.

    OK, I see four crucial points being hashed out:

    1)The qu. of whether Halacha has been upheld within the State’s Con. Courts by the one who heads it, i.e. does he have valid opinions of recognized Gdolei Halacha to base his opinion and do the facts on the ground show anything close to the obvious objective of collective conversion: that the vast majority are emerging with committment to Torah and Mitzvos with Yira and kab’ Ole.

    2)The qu. of the right of those who work in those same courts to publically challenge the head; all the moreso when done with rancor and collective broadsides that appear to delegitimate a whole sector of Observant Jews.

    3)The qu. of whether the latter is the result of a growing trend within the “Chumra-culture” to delegitimate others, and if so, is there any real hope that these sectors can maintain / recultivate their brotherhood.

    4)The qu. of whether the sector that feels delegitimzed is contributing to the trend by superficializing their Halachic committments. This may be happening either via allowance / acceptance / nonresponsiveness to an increasing KULA-culture, and or a fundamental “Khokhma b’Goyim” attitude abt Halacha that sees it as a socio-religious “context” for Jewishness instead of a springboard for spiritual refinement.

    Now, before you answer the above, my question is simply: How does it help you engender conditionless love, as per Chazal??

    See ya after 9 b’AV!

  157. Menachem Lipkin
    August 4th, 2008 @ 9:17 am

    yy, please email me.

    Like I said before this is getting too cyclical. I just implore to carefully re-read even your last two comments and do an honest introspection to see how some of your positions and statements could be viewed as condescending.

    Also, I would not base my search for an ultimate “truth” on the halachic process. Halachic p’sak, by design, has a very quantum nature to it, e.g. the same rabbi given the same chicken can paskin that it’s treif and kosher for two different petitioners and both decisions can be 100% “true”. The same hot dog from a town with a majority of kosher butchers, which is either objectively (truthfully) treif or kosher is paskened to be treif or kosher depending on where it is found and that psak is the truth notwithstanding the objective reality.

    A few years ago some great Rabbis lent their names to an edict banning a certain author and his books. The outcome of that edict, totally unforeseen, created one of the greatest episodes of bizuiu talmidei chachomim in modern times and caused more people to read the banned books than had the ban not been issued. Would anyone with the slightest emunas chachomim question the commitment of these rabbis to halacha?

    I’m not conceding the point as to who’s right on the conversion issue, history will determine that. One thing I did learn from the lecture by Rabbi Reiss this past shabbos (which did not discuss the Israel conversion issue, btw) is that this area of halacha is extremely complex both halachically and sociologically and a blog is not the place to hash it out.

    See, you’ve already gotten me to say more than I wanted to. :)

  158. David Schallheim
    August 4th, 2008 @ 1:32 pm

    The outcome of that edict, totally unforeseen, created one of the greatest episodes of bizuiu talmidei chachomim in modern times and caused more people to read the banned books than had the ban not been issued

    Why do you think it was unforeseen? Do you think those gedolim were concerned about how many people would read the book, or about who would read the book?

  159. Steve Mantz
    August 4th, 2008 @ 2:33 pm

    Menachem Lipkin:

    Also, I would not base my search for an ultimate “truth” on the halachic process. Halachic p’sak, by design, has a very quantum nature to it, e.g. the same rabbi given the same chicken can paskin that it’s treif and kosher for two different petitioners and both decisions can be 100% “true”. The same hot dog from a town with a majority of kosher butchers, which is either objectively (truthfully) treif or kosher is paskened to be treif or kosher depending on where it is found and that psak is the truth notwithstanding the objective reality.

    —————————-
    You just expressed the solution to this whole conflict. there is no basis for cultural warfare within Judaism. There is a basis only for collabprative cooperatiion between various communities. the first step twoards that is to realize that both communities are legitimate, and neither should de-legitimize the other, assuming that they both observe halacha.

  160. Bob Miller
    August 4th, 2008 @ 5:06 pm

    To the degree that halacha is thought to be a judgment call, isn’t the posek’s level of expertise that much more critical? After all, it’s his judgment that matches the halacha to the specific situation that must be resolved.

  161. Steve Brizel
    August 4th, 2008 @ 8:39 pm

    Ben David-I think that one can argue that there is far more basis in Chazal, Rishonim, Acharonim and Poskim for a Pre Nuptial Agreement, especially since the RCA’s PNA was approved by R Zalman Nechemiah Goldberg and R Ovadiah Yosef, as opposed to R Uzziel ZTL’s POV re Kabalas Ol Mitzvos which one can argue was never the mainstream perspective, despite the protests of R Druckman’s supporters to the contrary.

  162. Charles B. Hall
    August 4th, 2008 @ 10:48 pm

    “despite the protests of R Druckman’s supporters to the contrary.”

    Steve,

    R Druckman’s supporters include the Rabbinical Council of America, and Rabbis Amar and Yosef, none of whom follow the opinion of Rabbi Uziel z’tz’l. I think there is something else going on here.

  163. Charlie Hall
    August 6th, 2008 @ 5:30 pm
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