Beyond BT

Spiritual Growth for Jews

Where Do You Put Your Old Time Rock and Roll?

Posted on | March 15, 2011 | By Guest Contributor | 96 Comments

The death of Michael Jackson was a shocker to some of us, since we all grew up with his music.

For me, I was very taken aback and felt compelled to follow some of it for awhile. I realized that integrating my cultural and societal priorities, then with now, was a continuing process, and that much of the “then” still lurks in the”now”.

For BTs the interaction with celebrity culture and music is not as simplistic as the “chazerish goyim” approach of many FFB’s.

How have people dealt with integrating their musical pasts with their current self?

- Esther

Originally Posted June 30, 2009

Comments

96 Responses to “Where Do You Put Your Old Time Rock and Roll?”

  1. alpidarkomama
    June 30th, 2009 @ 1:14 am

    It was easy for me… I grew up listening only to classical and Jewish music, kept listening only to classical and Jewish music, and still listen only to classical and Jewish music. :) My husband’s cd collection picked up where mine left off (though there is a bit of a gap from 1850-1950!). He’s pretty much gotten rid of most of his stuff now, though. It just doesn’t resonate with him any more…

  2. tzirelchana
    June 30th, 2009 @ 6:02 am

    Its like anything else, pick and chose. Frankly I don’t see a problem with it provided that the lyrics aren’t heretical or sexual explict. Of course this excludes a lot of Jacko’s music.

  3. Bob Miller
    June 30th, 2009 @ 7:51 am

    It’s a mixed bag. Tunes pop into my head out of nowhere, sometimes as a result of free association with things going on or heard or read. My tastes in music have been pretty varied (such as R&R, R&B, country, blues, jazz, ragtime, lately mostly classical) and still are. The recent degeneration of music in general has led me to listen most often to classical, covering roughly the period 1700-1940. I also listen to Jewish music when I can find something inspiring, as opposed to reprocessed dregs of rock, or some quasi-traditional tune recycled for the 15,000th time.

  4. Charnie
    June 30th, 2009 @ 9:43 am

    While I still own upwards of 200 LP’s from “then”, including “Thriller”, I rarely if ever listen to them anymore. We bought a USB turntable last year with the intent of converting things to MP3, but to date, we’ve done one album (the soundtrack from Exodus). But I have a feeling that it’s not only changing music tastes relating to frumkeit that’s relagated a lot of this music to a cabinet, but just plain being tired of hearing the same things for so many (no, I won’t say how many) years. Now I find that I’m listening to a lot more Jewish music. I will not attempt to define what Jewish music is, but will admit to being a big Lipa fan because I truly feel he’s a genuine entertainer, not just a guy with a mike, even though I certainly don’t understand most of the lyrics in Yiddish. But I’ve always been more of a sound, as opposed to lyric music person, so that factor isn’t too important to me.

    As for Michael Jackson, he ended up a true nebbich. Here was someone who had extraordinary talent, and chose to become a freak. When his “HisTory” album came out, our Rav actually spoke about the anti-semitic lyrics one morning in his drasha, and correctly predicted that Jackson would never again have the success he’d previously enjoyed.

  5. Neil Harris
    June 30th, 2009 @ 10:46 am

    I’ve written (on my blog) a few posts about the music I listened to in my past (and every now and then, too), but to address the issue at hand, I just re-read over Shabbos that lecture given by the Rav (Rav Joseph B Soloveitchik) titled “Korach and the Common-Sense Rebellion” found both in Reflections of the Rav and also in Shuiri HaRav. Rav Soloveitchik makes a comment that art/music that isn’t religious based tends to really only have a phsyical aspect to it, not a spiritual one. It is WE, who give ascribe a (mistaken) spiritual meaning to secular music that really isn’t spiritual-based.

    That being said, for a guy who spent way to many hours listening to punk/alternative back in the day, artists like Yitzhak HaLevi, Piamenta, and even Yosef Karduner tend to feed my soul. The fact is that eventually my kids got old enough to read the titles on the CD rack and iTunes. I got rid of a lot of music years ago. Children hear what we listen to and, thus, realized what we deem as important. D’Veikus or Dead Kennedys…

  6. Menachem Lipkin
    June 30th, 2009 @ 11:10 am

    Most, if not all, of the FFBs I know who are my age, including MO and Yeshivish, are pretty much in the same place regarding music as “we” are. However, I find that they are much less hung up about it.

  7. Mark Frankel
    June 30th, 2009 @ 1:03 pm

    If you are sure there are no hashkafic or halachic issues listening to secular music then there is no difference between an FFB and BT in this regard and both groups will listen.

    If you think there are, or are willing to consider that there might be issues with secular music, then both FB and BT alike will be conflicted if they do listen.

    Any activity which you feel might not be in line with what the Torah wants should cause a healthy conflict in the Torah Jew performing it.

    BTs are almost certain to have a more intensive secular music past and so it is probably more of an issue for a BT.

  8. yakov
    June 30th, 2009 @ 1:06 pm

    See the “Am I getting into the groove” thread listed on this side of the page and available at the link below:

    http://www.beyondbt.com/?p=200

  9. Rafael Araujo
    June 30th, 2009 @ 2:03 pm

    When I first was becoming “frum”, I was a big fan of the 70′s metal bank Black Sabbath. I remained a fan until I graduated HS (in 1994) and went to learn in EY. I loved all types/categories of music including metal (death and classic metal), grunge, pop, hip hop, jazz, and blues. I even liked the Dead Milkmen (thanks Neil for the Dead Kennedy’s reference)

    Now, I only listen to Jewish Music. Of course, I actually don’t like most JM on the market today. However, if you want authentic JM, listen to Eitan and/or Shlomo Katz. Especially Eitan Katz’s newest album “Baruch Hu”. And for Neil I give it 2 thumbs up, in fact 3!!

  10. Charles B. Hall
    June 30th, 2009 @ 2:56 pm

    I haven’t found much of an issue; I’ve always (well, since about age 18) listened mostly to classical music, and still do. And I found a spouse who loves it as much as me. We both found Placido Domingo rather than Michael Jackson to be the model for an inspiring non-Jewish male vocalist!

    There are *other* aspects of non-frum culture about which I’ve sort of graduallly and naturally lost interest. For example, I haven’t been to a sporting event in years — even though I hear plenty of talk in shul about how the Mets are doing.

  11. Nathan
    June 30th, 2009 @ 3:03 pm

    Michael Jackson died at age 50.

    The Talmud Yerushalmi, tractate Bikurim, chapter 2, law 1, teaches that KARET means death at age 50 or before.

  12. Bob Miller
    June 30th, 2009 @ 3:22 pm

    Charles,

    Since we are told not to be depressed, discussing Mets news is probably assur.

  13. Neil Harris
    June 30th, 2009 @ 3:58 pm

    In response to Esther’s ending question: How have people dealt with integrating their musical pasts with their current self?

    After re-reading this post, I think eventually you prioritize what’s important. How we spend our free time (or what we listen to when time allows) says much about the people we truly are. The day that I realized I actually got excited about horn arrangements on a JM cd was both a delight (and a shock). :)

  14. Bob Miller
    June 30th, 2009 @ 4:58 pm

    If it puts you in a proper mood for Torah study and the practice of mitzvot, and does not reinforce any bad values or behavior, and doesn’t waste time in general…why not?

  15. Ellen L.
    June 30th, 2009 @ 6:19 pm

    Mark: I agree it could be more of a BT issue than a FFB issue because the music at that time may have defined us more, whereas for an FFB it might have been something they listened to. No, I don’t want to go back there, but there’s still nostalgia. And I sometimes feel that it’s not so easy to find Jewish music that doesn’t resemble Muzak.

  16. M. Adams
    July 1st, 2009 @ 1:04 am

    The music of my past is an important part of me. I actually asked a shayla of my own Rov. I strongly encourage everyone to do so.

    He said that I need to get in the car every once in a while and turn on my music loud – and sing along.

    We discussed the type of music that’s OK, and the types that would not be. I will admit here that I need some old Heart, some Dixie Chicks, some Aretha now and then. He said that I should listen to it, but be discreet: not leave it around for my kids to find, not leave the car radio on when I turn of the car. Not hiding, but discreet. There’s joy in music, and if this is a way for you to become joyful, I urge you to consult your personal halachic authority.

  17. Charnie
    July 1st, 2009 @ 8:30 am

    Re #16, you’ve certainly captured my sentiments. Music has been such a big part of my life that at one time I was even keeping a “musical diary”, which was basically the music that reminded me of certain people and events in my life. I admit to pre-dating the punk/alternative crew here, which means that what still can bring a big smile to my face on a car radio (what is it about hearing something on a car radio that has that affect?) is usually what’s classified as oldies and classic rock.

    When my two of my children decided to stop listening to classic rock (their independent decisions) because of some of the lyrics, they discovered that there were a lot of instrumental recordings of music from groups like the Who and the Beatles, as an example. That’s now on their Ipods along with hours of shiurim.

    Insofar as whether this is necessarily a BT issue, I’m not so sure. Twenty years ago it wasn’t such an issue, so many FFB’s, particularly those from the MO world, did grow up listening to rock music also. As we all know, for better or for worse, the world has moved to the right.

  18. Bob Miller
    July 1st, 2009 @ 9:26 am

    I wonder why this rightward movement has not prevented the most insipid, boring aspects of rock from entering “Jewish” pop music. This stuff, made worse by painfully high volume, infests many weddings and other social occasions today.

  19. Charles B. Hall
    July 1st, 2009 @ 11:21 am

    M. Adams wrote:

    “He said that I should listen to it, but be discreet: not leave it around for my kids to find, not leave the car radio on when I turn of the car. Not hiding, but discreet. ”

    I do not understand this. If it is really ok to do something, I would do it in front of people and not apologize! But if it isn’t really ok, I wouldn’t do it at all. How can I set a standard for my kids that I am unwilling to follow?

  20. Neil Harris
    July 1st, 2009 @ 11:27 am

    Charles, I admit, this also seems unusual, but M.Adams did ask a Rov.

  21. Bob Miller
    July 1st, 2009 @ 11:49 am

    The Rov might have had the opinion that the music in question is best not heard in the first place, but that those who have already heard it often and still enjoy it should not be deprived of it.

  22. yy
    July 1st, 2009 @ 12:46 pm

    “If it is really ok to do something, I would do it in front of people and not apologize! But if it isn’t really ok, I wouldn’t do it at all. How can I set a standard for my kids that I am unwilling to follow?”

    Ah, Charles. You’re an emesdiga Neshama!

    Dare I suggest that this is a replay of an old issue: How to embrace the on-the-way-to-becoming-an-Eved’H’ without idolizing it.

    I think the Rav’s stress on discretion was great. It may be a part of “you”… but not the deepest, truest.

    It’s hard to be humble enough to accept that not all of who we experience as ourselves is in line with the truth. But with mature determination to positively wean ourselves off, which should always involve a competant Rav for matters of questionable kashrus, then Geula can come.

    As a personal reference, one of my most enlightening moments in my becoming-frum process was after 6 years of Kollel and 4 at Bar-Ilan U. studying Jewish Philosophy and counseling, I was ready and raring to find the perfect teaching position. Finally found a school with a great balance between kodesh and chol (that was rare back then in J-m). Consulted my Rav, who thought it could be great for me. And how about my son whose entrance into a chassidic cheder the yr before I had just successfully managed?

    “You must understand something,” my Rav poignantly told me. “What’s good for YOUR growth is not necessarily what’s good for your son.”

    It hit me like a ton of bricks. What — you mean after all that work to forge my derech in chinnuch, it’s not necessarily the perfect one to bequeath my son??

    No.

  23. FFB
    July 1st, 2009 @ 1:08 pm

    “I wonder why this rightward movement has not prevented the most insipid, boring aspects of rock from entering “Jewish” pop music.”

    It’s the yetzer hara of course.

  24. FFB
    July 1st, 2009 @ 1:10 pm

    “How can I set a standard for my kids that I am unwilling to follow?”

    In that case he seemed to be more unable than unwilling.

  25. Albany Jew
    July 1st, 2009 @ 2:05 pm

    Actually this brings up an interesting scenario. I became a BT long before I had children enabling me to be slowly weaned from things like bacon, shrimp, Iron Maiden, etc. But what if you go through it when you have young children? You obviously don’t give them what you are eating, right? Are you then forced to go frum overnight? Or do you go into your car with an 8-track and a pack of Slim Jims in the middle of the night?

  26. DK
    July 1st, 2009 @ 2:33 pm

    Neil Harris wrote,

    Children hear what we listen to and, thus, realized what we deem as important. D’Veikus or Dead Kennedys.

    Actually, you would be hard pressed to find anyon who continues to pretend to enjoy the likes of the “Dead Kennedy’s” past a very young age. Talk about a straw man argument, Mr. Harris.

    Even in the MO community, there is a paucity of musically educated people, never mind the black hatters. At Yeshiva College, I was the only violinist. It’s just a different culture than when my great-grandfather went to Aitz Chaim.

    Asking educated BTs to restrict themselves frum cultural options is cruel. Not just with music. How about asking someone with a literature background to restrict themselves to frum fiction?

    He said that I should listen to it, but be discreet: not leave it around for my kids to find, not leave the car radio on when I turn of the car.

    Cultural socio-economic downward mobility sometimes takes a couple of generations. For instance, it may be hard to ween the young BT off Hemingway or Salinger, but with a lot of hiding and lack of education, perhaps his son can restrict himself to Hanoch Teller.

  27. Bob Miller
    July 1st, 2009 @ 3:18 pm

    Somehow, I’m more concerned about the decline of the generations in Jewish literacy!

  28. Ellen L.
    July 1st, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

    Just as we have to be gentle with ourselves in the weaning process, kal v’chomer we need to be sensitive and cautious if our children are also BT’s. Just like older children may adapt less well to making aliyah, they will also be resistant to changes we might impose on them in Yiddishkeit. I work at a kiruv high school and we are quite clear that their yarmelkes are off the second they leave the building, they go clubbing, they eat at McDonalds, etc. But by their senior year slow and steady has given definite advantages in the race. Some of them go on to yeshivos and seminaries in Israel, and many do their best to have a shomer Shabbos, kosher household after they marry. So if I need to lighten up as I’m packing for my move to Far Rockaway (the dog’s coming, too), what I need right now is not a shiur but a little WCBS FM oldies weekend. That’s just for today, not forever.

  29. Gary
    July 1st, 2009 @ 5:49 pm

    I don’t really enjoy Judaicized rock classics, but I am certainly not one to criticize the practice in general. However, I think some discretion may be called for in choosing WHICH rock songs to Judaicize. I recently heard a recorded Jewish song to the tune of a rock classic that was an ode to a non-Jewish deity. Something about it didn’t sit right with me. Thoughts on the matter, anyone?

  30. Ron Coleman
    July 1st, 2009 @ 6:18 pm

    art/music that isn’t religious based tends to really only have a physical aspect to it, not a spiritual one

    Well, so much for the myth of the enlightened, humanities-appreciating modern orthodoxy. I know the Rav was broadly educated, though I recall his interests (and doctorate) were in philosophy, not arts and literature. But this is surely a depressing thing to read.

    We are taught that if someone says there is Torah among the Nations, not to believe it, but that this is not so regarding wisdom. In my experience, literature is one of the most profound ways people in the cultures I am familiar with express wisdom, especially as regards the human condition.

    I find, in fact, that the lack of empathy for humanity as a whole, as opposed to our minute slice of it, in the sense of the simple ability to understand the perspectives of others, is a signal deficiency of almost all orthodox Jewish subcultures. The humanities, and in my view especially literature, which is so non-physical, are what enables empathy and human understanding for so many.

    I understand that men have a bittul Torah problem in terms of time spent reading literature, and so much of literature does pose problems in terms of modesty and, of course, exposure to non-Torah sensibilities — i.e., the danger of an excess of empathy. And in the historical scheme of things I do not believe the Jews have much to apologize for in terms of development of a sustained and fertile national culture. But while Hashem has tasked us with a different way through life than He has the nations who do have arts and literature, I cannot understand how they could be condemned in this manner, wholesale, by someone of the Rav’s stature.

    Now popular music — that’s something else altogether. There is virtually nothing to recommend it for a frum person, yet it is a vice in which clearly many indulge. I wonder, however, if those who do take that walk on the wild side are worse off than those who listen to the 80-plus-percent of what is spat out of the execrable “Jewish music” factory. This bilge at once lifts its incredibly mediocre “musical” components from the lamest Euro-disco and by its formulaic, derivative and hackneyed conventions solidifies our community’s expectation of and aspiration to the truly mediocre. That so many of these “Jewish music” scene worthies have become miniature rock stars with all the trimmings is probably an entirely separate yummy category worthy of my astonishingly opinionated pontifications.

    Having said that, I kind of like Lipa.

  31. Martin Fleischer
    July 1st, 2009 @ 8:23 pm

    You guys may or may not think this is weird (I don’t), but our #1 music band of all time is…..the Bee Gees!!!!! Ever since the mid-90′s, all of us (my wife, myself & my 2 daughters) always listen to them in the car, and elsewhere…none of their lyrics are what you would call vulgar, and the melodies and harmonies are very pleasant to listen to. Don’t misunderstand…we do like Jewish music, such as MBC, MBD, Hamsa Boys (from the early ’00s’), but whenever we go for a drive, we take some Bee Gees CD’s along for the ride. Except for when I could not listen to music in the car during the last year, since my Mom A’h, was Niftar, and, of course, during the 3 weeks. In addition, I would say that Phil Collins, Genesis, and Elton John rate high on my all-time favorites. I am referring to music from the 90′s mostly by these artists, with some 80′s & 70′s thrown in.

    Marty

  32. Charnie
    July 2nd, 2009 @ 12:16 am

    Ron, I’m looking forward to when you write that article, here. Has even the frum world fallen prey to the overwhelming celebrity worship that pervades our society? OK, thank goodness we don’t have an equivalent of Paris Hilton, but it is sort of silly what’s going on.

  33. Bob Miller
    July 2nd, 2009 @ 9:05 am

    You know a “new” song has a problem when you can listen for the first time and figure out from the first few bars where it’s going to go.

  34. YMG
    July 2nd, 2009 @ 9:26 am

    Being a BT is highly individualized never ending spiritual journey.

    I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all answer that’s right for everyone.

    Whatever you decide to do–listen to your favorite old tunes or not listen to them— it’s important to remember not to throw away the baby with the bathwater. And, its especially important not to enhance this folly by doing it hastily.

    This is the path to guilt & self loathing, and comes with a lot of competing & comparing.

    Stricter isnt necessarily holier.It can be holier-than-thou however.

  35. FFB
    July 2nd, 2009 @ 11:33 am

    “Has even the frum world fallen prey to the overwhelming celebrity worship that pervades our society? OK, thank goodness we don’t have an equivalent of Paris Hilton, but it is sort of silly what’s going on.”

    It’s worse than sort of silly and we’re fighting desparately to keep it out. We need all the help we can get and while reading this thread the idea occured to me that the BT world is in a unique positon to help us.

    Let me explain. When our kids listen to the new “Jewish” music, we hear the tumah in the tunes (holy words notwithstanding) but we don’t know the facts. (That might be why many of you find that FFBs are “much less hung up about it”.) Gary wrote: “I recently heard a recorded Jewish song to the tune of a rock classic that was an ode to a non-Jewish deity.” There’s no way for us chassidishe parents to know such an enlightening fact that could be invaluable in our efforts to stem the tide. Gary, can you please specify the song? I don’t think it’s lashon hara but if you’d rather not publicize it I give permission to get my email from the admin.

    Can anyone else tell where all those wild songs take their tunes from? I’m in a unique position to make a very real difference in our world and any help would be greatly appreciated.

  36. Gary
    July 2nd, 2009 @ 3:16 pm

    FFB (#35),

    I will get back to you, b’li neder, in the next few days or so, either here or via the administrator.

  37. YMG
    July 2nd, 2009 @ 10:08 pm

    Dear FFB–

    If you are really “in a unique position to make a real difference in Frum society” and you are sincere about quote “stemming the tide”, why dont you try to impliment the changes needed to build up FFB children by providing them with the sort of “question and answer” hashkofa oriented chinuch BT’s routinely recieve which would serve to strengthen FFB kids and inspire them, instead of squandering energy fighting to keep the music out???

    Building “taller walls” to keep the secular host culture’s music out is a short term strategy, at best. (The same can be said of the offensives against cell phones, texting, internet usage, DVD’s etc.) Fighting to keep the music out is a shorter, but ultimately longer path since it doesnt address the underlying problem.

    How many FFB kids need to “crash & burn” (ie: go off the derech) before we all wake up and realize that goyish music isnt to blame, nor is it cell phones, nor is it the internet, nor is it the abusers rachmana litzlan among us that is causing these kids to jettison their relationship with G-d and abandon the Mitzvahs??

    People who understand the “why” can endure, and even trimuph over any “how”. If FFB kids were really given to understand the “why” of Torah Judaism they could endure the “how” challenges of today and triumph over those challenges with mesiras nefesh as our ancestors did in the past when they confronted challenges from their host cultures.

    Please sit with it a while.

  38. FFB
    July 2nd, 2009 @ 10:47 pm

    Thanks for your input, YMG. You have raised very important points but I think they apply mainly to the yeshivish community. The Hungarian-chassidish community where I have some influance has very different problems and characteristics, and a very different culture. I don’t have the time to go into all the details but they’re much more earthy and tmimusdig. Those who go OTD are sort of מומרים לתיאבון, not at all given to philosophical questions, and I’d say at least 90% of them are boys with a learning disability that wasn’t adequately addressed or kids from broken homes. So we do have problems but of a very, very different nature with very, very different solutions. The music problem is one of the lesser ones affecting more or less good kids of course (nobody complains about a mechalel shabbos r”l listening to Lipa) but this is where I can make a difference and this is an important factor of the success of chassidus: the strengthening of the fences that separate us from the goyim.

  39. Charnie
    July 3rd, 2009 @ 12:39 am

    YMG, you have some very valid points. And FFB, I’m afraid you’re not quite aware of what’s going on in your own backyard. I have some familiarity with the situation because someone very close to me works with these kids, trying to keep them on the derech. The problem is much more pervasive and affecting far more young men and women then just those with learning disabilities. There are abusive relationships, kids who just aren’t cut out to conform from head to toe, and as others hear have stated – those who can’t follow blindly. I realize I’m going off topic here, but it isn’t really, because as you mentioned, music is a key issue. Last year I heard a well known Rav give a shiur about kids who need that extra TLC, and he stated that there is a far higher incidence of OTD in highly restrictive communities, because for those who just don’t fit, it’s either all or nothing. If you don’t want to dress like everyone else, you can’t without being ostracized. Et al.

  40. YMG
    July 3rd, 2009 @ 9:55 am

    Dear FFB-

    Yes, you are right. The Hungarian-Chassidishe communities do have a very different culture—there is even more emphasis on externalities/conforming to socially mandated externalities and gashmius in many circles there than there is in the Yeshivishe culture!

    I am intimately familiar with this olam. And, again the solution is: Strengthen and inspire people to love and honor H-shem and implement His Mitzvahs from a place of integrity, joy and personal delight. Responding to non-existent quote “philosophical questions” isnt the solution I am advocating. Nor is builing “taller walls” going to help in the long run.

    What you have in Boro Park (although it exists in Williamsburg, Monsey and Monroe to a lesser extent) is an entire sub-culture of heimishe people—not just teenage boys with learning disabilities from broken homes—- who keep the levush (chassidishe clothing style), who daven three times a day with a minyan, and who may even be kovea ittim but feel no intrinsic, meaningful connection to H-shem and His Mitzvos and consequently engage in a lot of problematic behaviors.

    Music is truly one of the lesser problematic behaviors, and yet so much “fire-power” is directed its way!

    The resentment over the treatment of Lipa, the resentment over the cancellation of much anticipated concerts, the resentment over the growing list of “no”s” without having provided a hashkofa framework of inspiration so that the “no’s” wouldnt have been necessary or could have been “swallowed” easier, is growing daily among this olam.

    What seperates us from the goyim isnt a simple matter of the music we listen to or how we dress no matter how many confused people think so.

    What truly seperates us from the goyim is an internal relationship with the Ribbono Shel Olam, a committment to honor Him by implementing His Mitzvahs, and an awareness of our unique function in the scheme of H-shem’s Creation. Vast librarys of seforim (books) are devoted to this because this is the core of what seperates us from the goyim, not simply the music we listen to and not simply whether or not we wear a shtreimel and white socks on Shabbos.

    Since you are Hungarian-Chassidishe I dont have to tell you that the people who endured and truimphed over the holocaust were those individuals who had been strengthened and inspired by an internally oriented Yiddishkeit.

    Those people whose Yiddishkeit was all about the beard, the levush (chassidishe clothing style), the hoif (the Rebbe’s court), korei ban (a specific Shabbos song) before the fish but after the kugel on Shabbos etc etc did not fare as well. Because these people had been taught to confuse cultural externalities with genuine Avodas H-shem, when the cultural externalities were swept away so was a great deal of their Yiddishkeit.

    Think about it for awhile.

    If you have the power to make a positive difference please use it to make that positive difference.

    Dont settle for being the guy who blogged with some BT’s and who is therefore “in the know” about the origins of some song played at Tuesday night’s chasunah. Dont settle for being the small time power broker among the Rabbonim and “tsk, tsk” a lot with them about the music and today’s generation.

    Try to make a real difference.

  41. FFB
    July 3rd, 2009 @ 10:28 am

    Charnie, are you familiar enough with OTD kids of *Hungarian chassidish* background? If not, you cannot imagine how different their culture and mentality is from other UO or even chassidish communities like Bobov, Ger or Belz. I’d say they’re closer to sephardim in these areas. (When Hungary was under Turkey many sefardim came to Hungary). You know, “I’ll meet you in the cinema im yirtzeh Hashem.”

  42. Bob Miller
    July 3rd, 2009 @ 2:03 pm

    Pardon my ignorance, but from my vantage point I can’t tell which statements about Orthodox ethnic groups are accurate and which are exaggerated or false. Perhaps we’d do well not to generalize this way, period.

  43. FFB
    July 3rd, 2009 @ 2:53 pm

    YMG, I know exactly what you’re talking about and you’re 100% right about it. I’m not Hungarian, though, and I have no influence whatsoever on the Boro Park type subculture. We’re talking about two very different populations. I’m talking about the serious, tmimusdig olam who want to be good and usually are successful in raising good kids thanks in part to those high walls. Yes, there are problems. Yes, there’s child abuse and neglect (though not nearly as much as the anti-frum media would have you believe). Yes, there are kids who go OTD. And I address these problems very often, sometimes with tangible results b”H. But that does not mean that we should neglect the lesser problems. Should we demand less learning from gifted students because there are kids with learning disabilities?

  44. YMG
    July 3rd, 2009 @ 4:27 pm

    FFB,

    If you are not Hungarian-Chasidishe how is it that you —an outsider—have quote “influence” in that community? And, lets get specific here: Which Hungarian-Chassidishe community are you refering to?

    Again, it bears repeating, if you do have influence why not use it to try to make a real difference?

    Also, you are shifting ground now and saying that quote “serious tmimusdig olam who want to be good…” are not or cant be Hungarian-Chasidishe? That’s not true in my experience with Hungarian-Chassidishe.

    Today there are problems affecting FFB kids in every segment of Klal Yisroel. No group has the monopoly on OTD kids. Boro Park is not the only subculture that exists. Lakewood has one too.

    Success in quote “raising good kids” can not be attributed even in part to “high walls”. Every success is authored by H-shem exclusively, and every parent today with “good kids” has been blessed with incredible siyata d’ Shomaya.

    Giving credit to “high walls” feeds an illusion that dents peoples emunah, and breaks peoples hearts when their children who were raised behind the “high walls” run smack into real life and fall hard and fast down those “high walls”.

    The analogous reasoning you present is misapplied here: There is no correlation whatsoever between demanding less learning from gifted students because kids with learning disabilities exist on the one hand, and my point that the FFB community ought to be trying to treat the underlying spiritual disease instead of consistently focusing on the symptoms (i.e.: music, cell phones, the internet etc) on the other hand.

    Its not about neglecting quote “lesser problems”. Its about dealing head on with the underlying spiritual disease that is giving rise to this multiplicity of “lessor problems”.

    When you deal with the underlying spiritual disease of alienation and estrangement from H-shem and a disconnection from the joy inherent in implementing Mitzvahs the “lessor problems” will dissipate.

  45. YMG
    July 3rd, 2009 @ 6:19 pm

    Building “higher walls” is a hishtadus implimented in many communities in Klal Yisroel. Its a hishtadlus that many FFB’s and BT’s repose a good deal of their precious trust in to keep their kids on the derech.

    But, no hishtadlus, however worthy, can “make” anything happen or guarentee a result. G-d alone made, makes and will make all happenings (Rambam Thirteen Principles of Faith #2). G-d is the One & Only Source of every seemingly independent power, and every seemingly effective hishtadlus (#’s 2 & 3 of the Six Constant Mitzvahs).

    If you trust in H-shem while making a histadlus, He will requite and fulfill that trust in Him. Whereas if you repose your trust in anything else—-such as building higher walls—- H-shem’s system is to remove His Divine Providence and let “nature run its course”. The very thing you trusted in will be the “cause” of your frustration, disaster, loss etc and your trust in it will be unrequited.(Heard from Rabbi Avigdor Miller ztl)

    There is a lot of emphasis placed on building higher walls but insufficent emphasis on filling the confines of those walls with a meaningful, loving and rewarding relationship with H-shem.

    Instead the confines of those higher walls continue to be filled with externalities based upon social/cultural conventions that are mistakenly confused with genuine Avodas H-shem.

    Is it any wonder then that the hishtadlus/strategy of higher walls is failing regardless of what community is being discussed?

  46. YMG
    July 3rd, 2009 @ 6:23 pm

    Typo in the above post. That G-d alone made makes and will make all happenings is #1 of the Rambam’s Thirteeen Principles of Faith.

  47. FFB
    July 3rd, 2009 @ 7:28 pm

    “If you are not Hungarian-Chasidishe how is it that you —an outsider—have quote “influence” in that community? And, lets get specific here: Which Hungarian-Chassidishe community are you refering to?”

    I’m not going to get specific and I don’t care whether you believe me or not. If you think a non-Hungarian chassidishe cannot have any influence on Hungarian chassidim, you don’t know us well enough to criticize us.

    I never said “serious tmimusdig olam who want to be good…” are not or cant be Hungarian-Chasidishe.” Something’s wrong here. The good ones can be serious and tmimusdig and the bad ones superficial and megusham, each using their innate qualities for good or for bad.

    “if you do have influence why not use it to try to make a real difference?”

    Now what makes you think I don’t? Didn’t I just write that I address all the problems you ennumerated, sometimes successfully b”H?

    “Success in quote “raising good kids” can not be attributed even in part to “high walls”. Every success is authored by H-shem exclusively, and every parent today with “good kids” has been blessed with incredible siyata d’ Shomaya.”

    Exclusively? So why not just daven all
    day for siyata d’Shmaya and let your kids use, see, and listen to whatever they want? Your assertion is an affront to all good parents who invest endless amounts of time, energy, patience and money in their children’s chinuch. There are exceptions of course, but the majority of kids turn out the way they were raised, even in today’s world. This is the reality in my community. If it’s different in yours, you may learn something from us. I don’t have the numbers to prove it, but I suspect that the higher the walls are between us and the crazy, miserable world out there, the lower the number of OTD kids and the smaller the extent of their rebellion. And the happier the children are.

    I don’t have the time, patience, or obligation to explain the complexed dynamics of the unique audience I’m speaking for, so I’ll just tell you a story.

    A good friend of mine, a social worker of our community, attended a conference of Orthodox therapists. She was surprised to learn that problems with OTD kids are much, much worse in more open and modern communities. Whereas our unhappy boys rebel by wearing colored shirts and sneakers (yes, some are worse), their kids aren’t satisfied until they’ve sunken into drugs and teen pregnancies. And you know what those kids, who were raised on TV, internet, and much worse than Lipa, say to their therapists? That their parents were so terribly restrictive, so fanatical and old-fashioned, that they had no choice but to rebel.

    So thanks, but I’m not buying what you’re selling. Gut Shabbos.

  48. Chana Leah
    July 5th, 2009 @ 12:31 am

    For those in the New York area, you can see Simply Tsfat perform a free concert on Long Beach Blvd. at the beach 7pm this Monday night. BTW, this is the kind of event that you may easily be able to share with a non-frum relative!!!

  49. YMG
    July 5th, 2009 @ 12:43 pm

    Dear FFB-
    In my previous posts I have simply stated the truth as I see it: Building “higher walls” without filling the confines of those walls with a genuine, meaningful, loving and rewarding relationship with H-shem is a failing strategy today regardless of what “county club” you want to discuss.

    And, lets be clear here, I am neither criticizing the non-Hungarian-Chassidishe, nor the Hungarian-Chassidishe. But, you seem to be defending both all the same, quote: “… problems with OTD kids are much, much worse in more open and modern communities. Whereas our unhappy boys rebel by wearing colored shirts and sneakers (yes, some are worse), their kids aren’t satisfied until they’ve sunken into drugs and teen pregnancies. And you know what those kids, who were raised on TV, internet, and much worse than Lipa, say to their therapists? That their parents were so terribly restrictive, so fanatical and old-fashioned, that they had no choice but to rebel”.

    (A side point: Why does the fact that there are other “county clubs” with OTD kids whose problems may or may not be worse make you feel better about the choices your “country club” members makes as it looses so, so many of its children too, some irrevocably ?? Both sets of OTD kids in your example are reacting/rebelling against “higher walls”! Every “country club” is suffering from the same phenomenon today. Please sit with it a while. The cheapest way to feel good about one’s self/one’s country club is to feel superior to others. It will not spiritually evolve you and it isn’t conducive to Ahavas Yisroel.)

    Quote: “If you think a non-Hungarian chassidishe cannot have any influence on Hungarian chassidim, you don’t know us well enough to criticize us.” You obviously feel the need to defend, but in truth I am not criticizing. The truth is I learned a lot from my experience of having lived in the exclusive enclave of a Chassidishe neighborhood (Francis Place in Monsey) for a number of years. And, one of the lessor things I learned is that non “country club” members (that is non Hungarian-Chassidishe who belong to another “country club” like Bobov, Belz, Yeshivishe/Litvishe etc.) rarely have any influence within the ranks of the Hungarian-Chassidishe olam, and vice a versa.

    Today, for the most part, FFB society is fragmented/compartmentalized into cultural “country clubs” each with its own unwritten social rules, pecking order, and hierarchy of socially-oriented values and externalities, Agudas Israel as an organization notwithstanding.

    For the record, I sincerely hope that you have the influence that you state you have among the Hungarian-Chassidishe olam, and among your own “country club” members (whatever label it goes by). And, it bears repeating, if you have been blessed by the Aibishter to have influence try to use it to make a real difference.

    The real difference I am referring to is to try to get those in charge of the “country club” to begin addressing the underlying spiritual disease of alienation and estrangement from H-shem/ disconnection from the joy inherent in implementing Mitzvahs, instead of focusing almost entirely on treating all the “lessor problems” (like problematic music) which are merely symptoms of the larger underlying spiritual disease. Try to see to it that those in charge with whom you have influence start focusing on filling up the confines behind the ever higher walls with a more genuine, meaningful, loving and rewarding relationship with H-shem, instead of with ultimately empty and un-sustaining socially oriented externalities.

    Once FFB society (the amalgamate of all the “country clubs”) seriously addresses the underlying spiritual disease of alienation and estrangement from H-shem/disconnection from the joy inherent in implementing Mitzvahs the “lessor problems”, all the symptoms— including that of problematic music —- will dissipate.

    My “big T” Truthful statement that every success is authored by H-shem exclusively, and every parent today with “good kids” has been blessed with incredible siyata d’ Shomaya should not be confused with doing nothing pro-active except sitting around davening all day as you have done quote: “So why not just daven all day for siyata d’Shmaya and let your kids use, see, and listen to whatever they want?”.

    The posuk in Devarim clearly states: “And, G-d your L-rd will bless you in all that you do” (Devarim 16:18) to emphasize that a person is required TO DO, to engage in some medium of physical activity as hishtadlus (saying Tehillim is a medium of spiritual activity) in order to receive G-d’s blessing. However, no importance AT ALL should be attached to the medium of physical activity in its own right.

    Every hishtadlus—-including building higher walls—-is merely an “axe in the hands of the wood-chopper” which exists solely to convey H-shem’s blessing. Nothing is produced by the axe, per se. G-d’s Will alone—-the power which manipulates the axe—-causes a result to occur, “for He is your life and He grants you strength to prosper”(Devarim 30:20).

    The “knee jerk” response on the part of FFB society to build ever higher walls, even as the evidence that it is a failing strategy regardless of which “country club” people belong to grows daily, demonstrates how much undeserved importance is given to, not to mention how much emunah and bitochin is confusedly misplaced in this medium of physical activity/ hishtadlus.

    Let’s get back to basics and start focusing on building ever stronger, more genuine, more meaningful and more rewarding relationships with H-shem, instead of focusing on building ever higher walls.

  50. DK
    July 5th, 2009 @ 1:28 pm

    FFB, considering the damage that even light engagement with the non-Orthodox world has with young frum Jews, what is your suggestion for BTs whose extended families are secular or worse, and have TV, internet, video games, etc.

    The less contact the better, no?

  51. Shades of Gray
    July 5th, 2009 @ 6:00 pm

    YMG(Comment # 40),

    “What you have in Boro Park (although it exists in Williamsburg, Monsey and Monroe to a lesser extent) is an entire sub-culture of heimishe people—not just teenage boys with learning disabilities from broken homes—- who keep the levush (chassidishe clothing style), who daven three times a day with a minyan, and who may even be kovea ittim but feel no intrinsic, meaningful connection to H-shem and His Mitzvos and consequently engage in a lot of problematic behaviors…

    The resentment over the treatment of Lipa, the resentment over the cancellation of much anticipated concerts… is growing daily among this olam.”

    Two points:

    1) I have no doubt there are people within the
    Chasidic and Boro Park community who are on the fringes. Whether they are a group onto themselves, a “sub-culture”, I don’t know. I am not a sociologist, nor do I work with OTD kids/adults, although I imagine the latter rabbonim/kiruv workers can accuraetely tell whether such people are a “subculture”.

    2) As far as interest in Lipa and concerts, I would add that it cuts across all types of populations, and has nothing to do with any “subculture” as some media articles focused on. I agree that any such “subculture” might not like the bans.

    I was at the “Event”(Lipa concert), which had the quiet blessing of Rabbonim. I met a friend of mine’s mother and her daughter; also in attendance was a prominent Orthodox benefactor(who associates both with MO and Charedi worlds).

    There was an electricty at the concert which I have never seen at any other, possibly having to do with the previous year’s “brouhaha”(as R. Yaakov Horowitz termed it).

    However, the interest in Lipa’s music has nothing to do with any Chasidic or Boro Park “subculture”, because those in attendance were also “well-adjsuted” adults from a broad spectrum who are simply interested in hearing the range of Jewish music that was featured in tribute to R. Eli Teitelbaum Z’l.

  52. FFB
    July 5th, 2009 @ 6:08 pm

    No, DK. The circumstances are completely different.

    YMG, Chas v’shalom for me to gloat at the expense of heartbroken parents. How can you even suggest that it makes me feel better? Do you honestly feel that defending my position automatically makes me happy about the failure of the other’s, or are you merely trying to put me on the defensive?

    And, it bears repeating, just because I didn’t ask for your help in other areas, doesn’t mean I’m not 100 times busier with bigger problems than with goyish music.

    I won’t argue again about the other points, because we’re speaking past each other. I wonder if you even read my comments properly, seeing that you misinterpret so many points. Instead, let me just take my family as an example.

    I was raised in a dysfunctional home surrounded by walls almost up to the sky, higher than almost anyone else’s in our circle. (I must stress, the frumkeit was not in a dysfunctional way, though all other parts were.) My siblings and I suffered greatly growing up, and we still do. Some of us are gifted, others struggled with learning disabilities. Yet none of us, not a single one, went OTD, even slightly. Not all are 100% emotionaly healthy, but all follow our parents’ derech in Yiddishkeit b”H. Why?

    Now for my extended family – the children, grandchildren, and great-grands of both sets of my grandparents. One set had a dysfunctional ultra-frum home, the other a healthy but extremely-extreme-ultra-frum one. With every family having an average of 9-10 kids, some 14, 15, or 17, we’re talking about 100′s of members. How many went OTD? One. ONE. And he’s on the way to teshuvah b”H. Another 2 or 3 are not the biggest tzadikim, but not what you would call OTD. Why?

    I know a few families who are so extreme, they didn’t send their girls to school because no school was frum enough for them. I was sure some of them would end up OTD, but by now they’re into their third generations and not a single one of them did. This derech has many risks and problems, but going OTD is not one of them. I am myself astonished by their relative success though I still wouldn’t recommend it for anyone. Many of their offspring are complexed, socially inept, and some are resentful of their parents. The healthy ones veered a tiny bit from their parents’ derech, sending their girls to school etc. But all are still what you would surely call extremely frum – and most do have basically normal and happy families. Why?

    The reason is simple. Our kids know in their hearts that for their parents, even the dysfunctional ones, being ehrliche Yidden is the greatest nachas and going OTD the greatest pain. If parents have two children, one hugely successful but irreligious, the other a real nebach (poor, stupid, emotionally unstable, divorced 3 times) but frum, whom would they be more ashamed of? I don’t know about others, but in our community it’s the former. No success, not even success in learning torah, could compensate for the shame and pain of having a child OTD, or just significantly more modern than the parents.

    You can argue that this attitude is faulty, and you may even be correct, but don’t tell me that it drives kids OTD. Perhaps we can say on a spiritual level that H’ sees the sincerity of the parents too, and this is why he gives them syaata d’shmaya in this area, even though they have other faults that could easily drive kids OTD r”l.

    Anyway, I’ve come to the conclusion that blaming the OTD crisis on the high walls is like those sea-farers whose ship started sinking and the first thing they threw into the ocean was their talis and tefilin.

    Sit on it awhile, as you say.

  53. YMG
    July 6th, 2009 @ 12:47 am

    FFB-

    I am going to be dan l’kaf zchus that there is a language barrier operating here (your mama loshon is Yiddish and mine is English) since you really are not comprehending what I am trying to communicate, and are not being responsive to the points I am making.

    #1) I never suggested/or wrote that you are quote “gloating” although you definitely are feeling better from the comparing/competeing that you are doing.

    What you have done is extol/defend the “higher walls” choices the Chassidishe “country clubs” have made. And, you are doing it in the face of the reality that hundreds of kids are falling hard and fast down he “high walls” of these Chassidishe “country clubs” just like kids from very different and more modern “country clubs”.

    You’re ignoring the truth that despite these “country clubs” “higher walls” choices there are hundreds of Chassidishe kids going OTD today.

    You want desperately to believe your “story”—-and have unsuspecting BT’s reading this blog believe it too—-that these “country clubs” are doing a better job at keeping kids on the derech than other “country clubs”. But, the truth will not be dictated to by anyone.

    These are your words not mine quote, “…problems with OTD kids are much, much worse in more open and modern communities. Whereas our unhappy boys rebel by wearing colored shirts and sneakers (yes, some are worse), their kids aren’t satisfied until they’ve sunken into drugs and teen pregnancies.”

    You are perhaps unintentionally white-washing reality for the unsuspecting BT’s who participate in this blog by painting these Chassidishe “country clubs’” OTD kids as merely choosing to wear colored shirts & sneakers, which is only a violation of one of the unwritten social codes that puts undue emphasis on conformity in dress (Chassidishe levush), and not a violation of one of the 613 Mitzvahs, or a Mitzvah d’Rabbonin.

    Get real and admit that OTD kids from these Chassidishe “country clubs’”, especially those who have joined the sub-culture, are engaging in problematic behaviors much, much worse than making a different clothing choice. Saying quote” (yes, some are worse)” doesn’t sufficiently convey the reality.

    Maybe you should come clean and tell the whole inconvenient truth about what is happening among OTD kids from these Chassidishe “country clubs”? Drugs and even teen pregnancies—as you well know or ought to know—- exist among the OTD Chassidishe in the sub-culture too. Other more modern “country clubs” don’t have the monopoly on these problems.

    You can keep your “story” about how benign these Chassidishe “country clubs” OTD problems are, but it is cruel and poshuteh wrong to foist upon the unsuspecting BT readership the misimpression that these “country clubs” “higher walls” strategy is more effective than any other “country clubs” today. The “higher walls” strategy/hishtadlus is failing everywhere, Chassidishe “country clubs” included.

    Please be honest on this blog about how you are seriously downplaying the situation.

    #2) And, please think for a moment about what it is you chose to focus on.

    You focused on the most trivial and insignificant of externalities, clothing! Quote, “colored shirts and sneakers”. Need I point out again that colored shirts & sneakers is no aveirah, but a social/cultural “country club” no-no ?

    Your focus makes my point for me better than I could make it myself.

    Why aren’t you focusing on what’s missing on the inside of the hearts and minds of these Chassidishe OTD kids, or any OTD kids for that matter?

    And, isnt it true that you are making a tremendous assumption —-that is essentially a fabrication—- that all is well with these “country clubs” kids, men and women so long as they socially/culturally conform and wear Chassidishe levush ?

    Although their are substantial numbers of true yerei Shomayim among the Chassidishe, as there are in every other ‘country club” within Klal Yisroel, Believe me when I write that I wish I hadnt seen some pretty unsavory and problematic behavior from some Chassidishe men, women and children that demonstrates that there is plenty missing in terms of a genuine, meaningful, loving and rewarding relationship with H-shem/ joyous fulfillment of the Mitzvahs even as they conform strictly with socially/culturally mandated Chassidishe levush requirements.

    Today all is not “honky-dory” in these “country clubs” or in anyone’s else’s ‘country club” either. Humility is the true resting place for all of us today.

    “Higher walls” as a strategy/hishtadlus is failing all of us equally since regardless of which ‘country club’ we are discussing there is practically zero emphasis put on filling the confines of “ higher walls” with anything other than externalities based upon social/cultural conventions which are mistakenly confused with genuine Avodas H-shem.

    #3) Just because you didn’t ask for my help doesn’t mean you should ignore the truth of what I am communicating to you.

    If BT’s can be of use to you when it comes to identifying the origins of the song you may have heard at last Tuesday night’s chasunah, you’d better believe that we can help you identify the spiritual disease of alienation and estrangement from H-shem/ disconnection from the joy inherent in implementing Mitzvahs that is eating away at the core of FFB society.

    Many of us BT’s came from the ultimate place of alienation and estrangement from H-shem and were raised in secular environments of hostility and derision towards doing Mitzvahs. Yet we made the choice not to remain there. Was the secular culture any less enticing for us—-who were raised and immersed in it—– than it is for OTD kids? I think not. We had even greater pressure from many more directions.

    BT’s overcame and survived that spiritual disease with massive siyata d’Shomaya and incalculable mesiras nefesh. BT’s have experience with defeating it.FFB society would do well to take note.

    #4) Your yardstick is being quote, “extrememely frum”. Quote, “… all are still what you would surely call extremely frum.”

    My yardstick is being a genuine Eved H-shem, and it has very little to do with being extremely frum in the way that you measure it.

    If people have no genuine, meaningful, loving relationship with H-shem, if they are ignorant and weak in Torah hashkofa, and do Mitzvahs in a rote emotionless way out of the need to socially conform/ or please their parents, or are emotionally crippled from their dysfunctional upbringing and yet still wear the levush, I wouldn’t celebrate the effectiveness of the “highter walls” hishtadlus any time soon. One head on collision with real life will bring these people crashing down, r’l as we have seen time and again during the course of Jewish history.

    I would make one further point: Healthy family dynamics have been a steady bulwark against assimilation for the Jewish people and a great blessing that has served as a significant factor in our collective survival. When insufficient time and attention is lavished, when a child is missing the feeling of being loved for himself/herself, when trust is absent, or when the dynamics are dysfunctional it impairs the child-who-will-become-an-adult’s conception of H-shem and cripples their present and future relationship with H-shem.

    If someone didn’t or doesn’t have healthy relationships with their parent(s) what kind of relationship do you think they will have with H-shem? This is a problem of enormous magnitude.

    Yet, learning how to have a genuine, healthy, meaningful and loving relationship with H-shem, how to overcome difficult or dysfunctional family dynamics, are obstacles that many BT’s have been blessed to successfully contend with as well. FFB society would do well to take note.

    #5) I do not and have never blamed the OTD crisis on “higher walls”. That is a very confused misunderstanding of what I have written.

    The root of the OTD crisis is filling the confines of “higher walls” with ultimately empty and un-sustaining socially oriented externalities, instead of filling the confines with more genuine, meaningful, loving and rewarding relationships with H-shem.

    My point is that building “higher walls” doesn’t address the underlying spiritual disease of alienation and estrangement from H-shem/ disconnection from the joy inherent in implementing Mitzvahs, and that goes a long way to understanding why this strategy/hishtadlus is failing every “country club”, and not just the Chassidishe “country clubs’ that you affiliate with.

    #6) Once again, the analogous reasoning you present quote, “… blaming the OTD crisis on the high walls is like those sea-farers whose ship started sinking and the first thing they threw into the ocean was their talis and tefilin” is inapplicable. Your analogy completely misses the boat (pun intended).

    I am advocating filling the confines of the “higher walls” with genuine, meaningful, loving and rewarding relationships with H-shem. Doing this addresses the spiritual disease that is eating away at the core of FFB society and is the root of the OTD crisis.

    In contrast, misplacing emunah & bitochin in the hishtadlus of building “higher walls”, relying solely on it as a strategy, results in focusing almost entirely on dealing with the symptoms (i.e.: music, cell phones, the internet, etc.). which result from what’s missing on the inside of a Yid.

    It’s a whole lot easier for FFB society to keep doing what it keeps doing, expending a lot of focus, time, and energy building “higher walls” to keep out music, cell phones, the internet, and other evolving technology. But, even if it is easier the “higher walls” strategy/hishtadlus is failing everywhere. So how are we—FFB’s and BT’s alike— ahead?

    The longer, shorter path to solving the OTD crisis is to deal with the underlying spiritual disease itself of alienation and estrangement from H-shem/disconnection from the joy inherent in implementing Mitzvahs.

    This will require a significant shift away from externalities based upon social/cultural conventions that are frequently mistakenly confused with genuine Avodas H-shem.

    #7) I have never communicated quote, “ Sit on it awhile, as you say.” This is a misreading and a misquote. I always ask people to sit with something a while which means really think about it, mull it over in your mind.

    FFB, please re-read all my posts carefully, and sit with all that I have written for awhile.

  54. Mark Frankel
    July 6th, 2009 @ 7:38 am

    YMG, As a point of clarification, do you feel that we need some walls? For example, do you think it is wise to have unfiltered Internet available to your children? Is the question “walls or no walls” or is it “how high should our walls be”?

    FFB, I for one am happy to have your views expressed here, but aren’t you in fact breaching the high walls by being on the Internet? I would imagine Internet usage, except when absolutely necessary is not with in the confines of the walls of your communuity.

  55. YMG
    July 6th, 2009 @ 9:53 am

    Dear Shades of Gray-

    I understand and validate your perspective quote “the interest in Lipa’s music has nothing to do with any Chasidic or Boro Park “subculture”. .

    But, be mindful that Lipa, Lipa’s music, and his concerts give rise to a cold fear in the hearts of many in the social/cultural hierarchies of Chasiddishe “country clubs”.

    The members of the Chassidishe “country clubs” are the target audience for all the “higher walls” takanos issued from the Rabbonim banning Lipa’s music, and shutting down his concerts.

    BT’s like you and me are merely the “collateral damage”.

  56. YMG
    July 6th, 2009 @ 10:00 am

    Nice to hear from you Mark.

    The first Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (1:1) instructs us “Be deliberate in judgment; raise up many disciples; and make a fence around the Torah”

    It demonstrates a lack of careful thought, an absence of serious reflection, to make unfiltered Internet available to children, or to men and women for that matter, who are lacking a solid spiritual internal compass and internal spiritual discipline. The Mishnah’s first message “to be deliberate in judgment” is thus contravened.

    The Mishnah’s second message is to “raise up many disciples”. It is beyond fool-hardy to leave children, who will become tomorrow’s men and women, spiritually unprepared ie: spiritually un-strengthened and uninspired, feeling estranged and alienated from H-shem/disconnected from the joy in implementing Mitzvahs and thus extremely vulnerable to succumbing to the test/challenge of unfiltered Internet usage which they will surely encounter whether in someone’s cell phone/blackberry, or in an assosiate’s home, or in an office, or in a public library, or in a department store, or in a Internet café situation.

    Disciples are people who have been inculcated/raised up with internal spiritual discipline, not people simply confined within “high walls”.

    The Mishnah ends by conveying the message that it is necessary to make a fence around the Torah. So, clearly there are times that gedarim are a necessary response.

    But, the Mishnah is not telling us that “higher walls” is the only response, or even the best response since it is preceded by the messages to be deliberate in judgment and raise up many disciples.

    And, yet today building “higher walls” seems to be the automatic, knee-jerk response of FFB society no matter what the challenge.

    Be that as it may, “higher walls” alone will not help our children, or ourselves, when serious, careful thought is missing in our children or ourselves, and when our children or ourselves have not been inculcated/strengthened /inspired with the genuine internal spiritual discipline needed to successfully confront the challenges facing us today.

  57. Mark Frankel
    July 6th, 2009 @ 1:00 pm

    YMG,

    So if I’m hearing you correctly, you have no problem with high walls per se, as long as that’s not the only means of installing the other qualities necessary to be a great Jew.

    I think most high wall communities would argue that this is not their only means of building their people.

    There are problems with high walls in of themselves, but I’m not sure if that’s the point you’re making.

    There are many ways to understand that Mishna and for that matter any Mishna in Pirkei Avos. Was the explanation you provided that of the Rishonim, Achronim or your Rebbeim or was it your personal understanding?

  58. Ron Coleman
    July 6th, 2009 @ 2:33 pm

    Mark, aren’t you being a little pedantic here?

  59. Bob Miller
    July 6th, 2009 @ 2:53 pm

    How high the walls need to be, what they need to be made of, what other incentives for good behavior should be promoted…all this depends on the situation. Torah authorities in different times and places have sized up their communities’ situations differently, as is appropriate.

  60. FFB
    July 6th, 2009 @ 3:07 pm

    Mark, you’re right. I need the internet for my work, which our rabbonim allow, and I ask for kosher websites from my server, Yeshivanet. All the rest are blacklisted. I have greatly benefited from BBT, in my personal outlook as well as my work, though time-consuming threads like this one, where I have to endlessly untwist, unmisconstrue, and unmisinterpret my every word, make me wish I never started.

    YMG, I don’t think it’s a language barrier. I didn’t write in Yiddish and my English is passable enough. It’s more of a social barrier. Just like your family may regard themselves as experts on Orthodoxy or the BT movement because hey, they have a BT in the family, yet they hardly understand anything in the O or BT world, so do I find outsiders of the closed, insular chassidic world hardly understand anything about us, even if they’re our neighbors or intimately familiar with fringe members. I read excellent books by O or even yeshivish authors and I’m often amused by their utter ignorance when depicting chassidic life in their novels.

    Francis Place of Monsey is not exactly a bastion of chassidus, chassidish residents notwithstanding. Same goes for much of Boro Park. I didn’t ask for help in weaning those CINOs (chassidim in name only) from goyish music. Let them listen to Lipa; halevai this should be their biggest aveira.

    Those who are interested in what I have to say are the thousands of fine, warm chassidish families who fill their high walls with torah, yiras shamayim, mitzvos, maasim tovim and simcha shel mitzva. And I insist that if you thought they wouldn’t listen to me just because I’m not Hungarian, you don’t know these people well enough (or at all) to criticize. (Yes, I also insist that you criticized, albeit constructively, and, BTW, that “gloating” is synonymous with “feeling good [about someone’s failure]”.)

    I used my family as an example not because it’s typical. I used it (and believe me, it took a lot of courage to hang our dirty laundry out in cyberspace, even anonymously) because it’s NOT typical – higher walls than almost everyone’s I know, dysfunctional, and yet less than .5% OTD rate. Is this coincidence? I don’t think so. Despite the abuse, our walls were filled with ahavas hatorah and zehirus bemitzvos and we absorbed it to a degree that prevented us from breaching them.

    Other families with slightly lower walls may have slightly higher OTD rates. I live in the midst of a real, not CINO, densely populated chassidish area with hundreds of mostly good families, and to the best of my knowledge I can point to only one completely OTD kid whose family, BTW, is among the most modern of our community. Another ten or twenty so-called “ODT” kids are just more modern than their parents, yet most probably still frummer than most LWMO. (And no, by “frum” I don’t mean levush only. I’ve no idea where you took it from. I mean shmiras torah umitzvos.) Still, their families have difficulties finding shiduchim even for their good kids. Why? Because it’s so rare. People are afraid that something’s wrong with the family. If there were as many OTD (or what we chassidim call “ODT”) kids as you imply, there would be no problems with shiduchim for their siblings.

    Yes, I know about the gutter-OTD kids of the CINO families, but their walls are usually way lower than ours. In the very few instances of ultra-frum, real chassidish kids going completely OTD (I personally heard of three or four in a society where such news are bombshells), either the walls were devoid of real Yiddishkeit (as you said), their parents are empty bekeshes, hypocrites, or the parents were abusive, or completely crazy. But there are (unfortunately) many more such homes than OTD kids. Most kids from abusive, crazy, ultra-frum homes have problems other than going OTD. And most really high-walled homes, where the likes of Lipa are treif, have sincerely frum parents. Don’t forget, erecting and fortifying these walls takes a lot of mesiras nefesh. The vast majority of people wouldn’t do it if they weren’t sincere in other areas of yiddishkeit too.

    In short, there are many problems to work on in every community, but judging by the results, manning the walls is one of them.

    Having said all that, I must state, in view of your percieved implications of my comments for the readers here, that I wouldn’t recommend this ultra derech for BTs. The change is just too drastic. Most of the few BT families I know in our community are unfortunately not well adjusted. I think they do better in more open communities. Frankly, this discussion does not belong on BBT. I’d never initiate it, and I’m sorry I asked for help.

  61. Mark Frankel
    July 6th, 2009 @ 3:36 pm

    >> Mark, aren’t you being a little pedantic here?

    Ron, thanks for that helpful comment!

    Every community, family and individual faces the issue of how high to build our walls. It’s an extremely important issue which needs constant re-examination.

  62. YMG
    July 7th, 2009 @ 3:12 am

    FFB: “Mark, you’re right. I need the internet for my work, which our rabbonim allow, and I ask for kosher websites from my server, Yeshivanet. All the rest are blacklisted. I have greatly benefited from BBT, in my personal outlook as well as my work, though time-consuming threads like this one, where I have to endlessly untwist, unmisconstrue, and unmisinterpret my every word, make me wish I never started.

    YMG, I don’t think it’s a language barrier. I didn’t write in Yiddish and my English is passable enough.”

    YMG: (ONLY WRITING IN CAPS IN ORDER TO DIFFERNTIATE BETWEEN MR. FFB AND MYSELF–IM DEFINITELY NOT YELLING)

    I BEG TO DIFFER MR. FFB, BUT YOU ARE ENTITLED TO YOUR OPINION. YOUR ENGLISH IS WRITTEN WITH A DISCERNABLE YIDDISH GRAMMAR/SYNTAX.

    FFB: “ It’s more of a social barrier. Just like your family may regard themselves as experts on Orthodoxy or the BT movement because hey, they have a BT in the family, yet they hardly understand anything in the O or BT world, so do I find outsiders of the closed, insular chassidic world hardly understand anything about us, even if they’re our neighbors or intimately familiar with fringe members.”

    YMG: UNLIKE YOU I HAVE NEVER ONCE MENTIONED MY FAMILY. NOR HAVE I EVER ASSERTED THAT MY FAMILY REGARDS THEMSELVES AS EXPERTS ON ORTHODOXY OR THE BT MOVEMENT. THAT IS ENTIRELY YOUR FANTASY.

    ACCORDING TO YOUR PERSPECTIVE YOU HAVE TO BE X IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND X.

    HMMMM, I GUESS THAT WOULD BE TRUE OF YOURSELF AS AN OUTSIDER VIS A VIS THE CLOSED INSULAR WORLD OF THE HUNGARIAN -CHASSIDISHE SINCE YOU ARE NOT HUNGARIAN CHASSIDISHE, RIGHT? SO YOU HAVE JUST DISQUALIFIED YOURSELF AS WELL AS ME AND EVERYONE ELSE WHO ISNT HUNGARIAN- CHASSIDISH FROM UNDERSTANDING ANYTHING ABOUT THEM.

    FRANKLY I FIND YOUR REASONING PREPOSTEROUS AND ANTITHETICAL TO COMMON SENSE, OBSERVATION, AND EXPERIENCE NOT TO MENTION SCIENTIFIC FIELDS OF ENDEAVOR LIKE BOTANY (YOU HAVE TO BE A PLANT TO UNDERSTAND THE WAY A PLANT WORKS), ENTOMOLOGY (YOU HAVE TO BE AN INSECT IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND INSECTS), ORINTHOLOGY (YOU HAVE TO BE A BIRD TO UNDERSTAND BIRDS) ETC. THE LIST IS PRACTICALLY ENDLESS BUT I WONT BELABOR THE POINT.

    IN MY WORLD MR. FFB YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE X TO UNDERSTAND X, OR UNDERSTAND THE WAY X WORKS.

    FFB:” I read excellent books by O or even yeshivish authors and I’m often amused by their utter ignorance when depicting chassidic life in their novels.”

    YMG: SINCE YOU ARE NOT SPECIFYING WHAT BOOKS YOU’VE READ, THERE IS NO WAY FOR THOSE OF US READING AND PARTICIPATING IN THIS BLOG TO CHECK OUT IF WHAT YOU ARE WRITING ABOUT THESE AUTHORS IS TRUE OR NOT. THERE ARE SO MANY VARIETIES OF CHASSIDISHE LIFE, SO MANY “COUNTRY CLUBS”.

    PERHAPS IT IS POSSIBLE THAT THOSE AUTHORS DESCRIBED A “COUNTRY CLUB” THAT YOU DON’T BELONG TO?

    IF THAT BE THE CASE, NO WONDER YOU FOUND THOSE AUTHORS TO BE UTTERLY IGNORANT.

    YOU THOUGHT THEY WERE WRITNG ABOUT YOUR “COUNTRY CLUB” AND YOU ARE UNABLE TO UNDERSTAND THE “COUNTRY CLUB THAT THOSE AUTHORS ARE WRITNG ABOUT SINCE, ACCORDING TO YOUR WORLD VIEW, YOU’D HAVE TO BE X IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND X.

    FFB: “Francis Place of Monsey is not exactly a bastion of chassidus, chassidish residents notwithstanding”

    YMG: HMMM, LETS SEE. IN THE FRANCIS NEIGHBORHOOD THERE IS A SKVERE SHTEIBLE, A BNEI BRAK VITZNITZ SHTEIBLE (NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH THE MONSEY VITZNITZ VARIETY WHICH IS DOWN THE ROAD), A SKULENER SHTEIBLE, A BOYANER SHTEIBLE, AND THE SULKA ROV’S SHTEIBLE, PLUS SOME “NUSACH SFARD” SHTEIBLACH. FRANCIS IS WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE (HENCE ITS POPULARITY) TO SATMAR (BOTH CAMPS “AHRONIES” AND “ZALMIES”), NICHOLSBURG, BOSTONER, BELZ, “MAIN VITZNITZ’ (MONSEY VARIETY), KLAUSENBERG (BOTH CAMPS DUE TO A LOCAL MONSEY MACHLOKES), PUPA, BOBOV (BOTH CAMPS), BRESLOV, LUBAVITCH AND STOLIN. IM SURE IVE MISSED SOMETHING BUT I JUST CANT PUT MY FINGER ON IT.

    THE FACTS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES. ANYBODY WHO HAPPENS TO FIND THEMSELVES IN MONSEY CAN CHECK IT OUT FOR THEMSELVES.

    I UNEQUIVICABLY DISAGREE WITH YOUR ASSESSMENT OF FRANCIS, AND THOSE WHO ARE PRIVILEDGED TO LIVE IN FRANCIS WOULD UNDOUTEDLY DISAGREE WITH IT TOO.

    I WOULD BE VERY CURIOUS TO UNDERSTAND HOW YOU DEFINE QUOTE “BASTION OF CHASSIDUS” AND WHAT CHASSIDISHE COMMUNITY WOULD QUALIFY AS A BASTION OF CHASSIDUS IN YOUR WORLD VIEW.

    WOULD TOSH (A SMALL CHASSIDISHE COMMUNITY IN CANADA), NITRA (A SMALL CHASSIDISHE COMMUNITY IN WESTCHESTER COUNTY NY) CONFORM WITH YOUR DEFINITION?

    PERHAPS THIS IS ANOTHER INSTANCE OF YOUR WORLD VIEW THAT YOU HAVE TO BE X TO UNDERSTAND X. PERHAPS YOUR IGNORANCE ABOUT FRANCIS IS UNDERSTANDABLE SINCE ACCORDING TO YOU, YOU COULDN’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT FRANCIS SINCE YOU’VE NEVER BEEN A RESIDENT OF FRANCIS.

    FFB: “Same goes for much of Boro Park.”

    YMG: HMMMM. SO BORO PARK IS NOT A BASTION OF CHASSIDUS EITHER. INTERESTING HOW YOU PARSE THINGS.

    I DOUBT THE CHASSIDIM WHO LIVE THERE WOULD AGREE WITH YOUR ASSESSMENT.

    BUT FROM YOU PERSPECTIVE YOUR IGNORANCE ABOUT BORO PARK IS UNDERSTANDABLE SINCE YOU’D HAVE TO BE X TO UNDERSTAND X. I GUESS THIS MEANS YOU DON’T LIVE IN BORO PARK EITHER?

    FFB: “I didn’t ask for help in weaning those CINOs (chassidim in name only) from goyish music.”

    YMG: FOR THE RECORD ON JULY 2ND, 2009 11:33 YOU ASKED GARY QUOTE:
    “Gary, can you please specify the song? I don’t think it’s lashon hara but if you’d rather not publicize it I give permission to get my email from the admin. Can anyone else tell where all those wild songs take their tunes from? I’m in a unique position to make a very real difference in our world and any help would be greatly appreciated.”

    AND, FOR THE RECORD TODAY’S POST IS THE FIRST TIME YOU’VE USED THE TERM CINO (CHASSIDISHE IN NAME ONLY) CLEARLY DISTANCING YOURSELF FROM THE GROWING RANKS OF THE HEIMISHE SUB-CULTURE WHICH CAN BE CHECKED OUT BY ANYONE VISITING BORO PARK, MONSEY, MONROE ETC.

    FFB: “Let them listen to Lipa; halevai this should be their biggest aveira.
    Those who are interested in what I have to say are the thousands of fine, warm chassidish families who fill their high walls with torah, yiras shamayim, mitzvos, maasim tovim and simcha shel mitzva.”

    YMG: SO YOU ARE STILL NOT WILLING TO SHARE WITH US THE NAME(S) OF THE “COUNTRY CLUBS” OF THOSE THOUSANDS OF FINE WARM CHASSIDISHE FAMILIES THAT YOU HAVE INFLUENCE WITH SO THAT WE COULD ALL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO EVALUATE WHAT YOU WRITE ON THIS BLOG

    FFB: “And I insist that if you thought they wouldn’t listen to me just because I’m not Hungarian, you don’t know these people well enough (or at all) to criticize. (Yes, I also insist that you criticized, albeit constructively, and, BTW, that “gloating” is synonymous with “feeling good [about someone’s failure]”.) “

    YMG: I NEVER CLAIMED TO KNOW WHO THE HUNGARIAN-CHASSIDISHE PEOPLE YOU CLAIM TO HAVE INFLUENCE OVER ARE, AND YOU HAVE NOT BEEN FORTHCOMMING IN IDENTIFYING WHICH “COUNTRY CLUBS” MEMBERS THEY ARE.

    I MERELY STATED THAT ONE OF THE LESSOR THINGS I LEARNED DURING MY SOJOURN IN FRANCIS IS THAT NON “COUNTRY CLUB”MEMBERS (THAT IS NON HUNGARIAN-CHASSIDISHE WHO BELONG TO OTHER COUNTRY CLUBS LIKE BOBOV, BELZ. YESHIVISHE/LITVISHE ETC.) RARELY HAVE ANY INFLUENCE WITHIN THE RANKS OF THE HUNGARIAN-CHASSIDISHE OLAM, AND VICE A VERSA.

    BUT IT ISNT ANY WONDER THAT YOU THOUGHT I CRITICIZED THE HUNGARIAN-CHASSIDISHE. YOU COULDN’T KNOW I WASN’T CRITICIZING THEM BECAUSE, ACCORDING TO YOUR WORLD VIEW, YOU WOULD HAVE TO BE ME TO UNDERSTAND ME THAT I WASN’T CRITISIZING THEM.

    IN MY WORLD SOMEONE DOES NOT HAVE TO BE SOMEONE ELSE IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND THAT SOMEONE ELSE. THEREFORE, I UNDERSTAND VERY WELL THE GAMES YOU ARE PLAYING HERE.

    I ALSO UNDERSTAND THAT ENGLISH ISNT YOUR MAMA LOSHON. SO HERE’S THE DICTIONARY DEFINITION OF “GLOAT” AND IT ISNT SYNONYMOUS WITH “FEELING GOOD” AS YOU CLAIM.

    QUOTE: “GLOAT. TO REGARD WITH GREAT, EXCESSIVE OR MALICIOUS PLEASURE OR SATISFACTION”.

    I HOPE KNOWING THE DICTIONARY’S DEFINITION WILL CLARIFY THE MATTER FOR YOU ONCE AND FOR ALL.

    AND, ITS WORTH MENTIONING THAT YOU USED THE WORD GLOAT, NOT I. AND, THEN TURNED AROUND AND ACCUSED ME OF USING THE WORD GLOAT TO CRITICIZE YOU.

    FFB: “I used my family as an example not because it’s typical. I used it (and believe me, it took a lot of courage to hang our dirty laundry out in cyberspace, even anonymously) because it’s NOT typical – higher walls than almost everyone’s I know, dysfunctional, and yet less than .5% OTD rate.”

    YMG: I’M HAPPY FOR YOU THAT THERE IS SOMETHING YOU CAN FEEL PROUD OF WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY (YOUR ASSESSMENT NOT MINE). PLUS ONLY YOU COULD UNDERSTAND H0W DYSFUNCTIONAL IT IS BECAUSE YOU’D HAVE TO BE A PART OF YOUR FAMILY TO UNDERSTAND HOW DYSFUNCTIONAL IT IS, RIGHT?

    DID YOU EVER ONCE STOP TO CONSIDER WHETHER YOUR FAMILY’S EMPHASIS ON HIGHER WALLS CONTRIBUTED TO YOUR FAMILY’S DYSFUNCTION?

    HAVE YOU EVER ASKED YOURSELF HOW MUCH DYSFUNCTION CAME AS A RESULT OF THE EMOTIONAL PRICE PAID FOR MAINTAINING THOSE HIGH WALLS— HIGHER THAN ALMOST EVERYONES.

    PERHAPS IT WOULD BE WORTHWHILE FOCUSING ON.

    IN MY WORLD STRICTER IS NOT ALWAYS HOLIER, OR EMOTIONALLY HEALTHIER EITHER.

    FFB: “Is this coincidence? I don’t think so. Despite the abuse, our walls were filled with ahavas hatorah and zehirus bemitzvos and we absorbed it to a degree that prevented us from breaching them.”

    YMG: READING THIS MY HEART TRULY GOES OUT TO YOU (SINCERE).

    HOWEVER, I DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW YOU CAN CLAIM AHAVAS HATORAH AND ZEHIRUS B’MITZVOHS WHEN SO MANY MITZVOHS INVOLVING BEIN ADAM L’CHAVEIRO EXCLUDE ACTING ABUSIVELY AND DYSFUNCTIONALLY TOWARDS OTHERS.

    NOT KEEPING A LARGE & SIGNIFICANT SEGMENT OF THE 613 MITZVOHS IS NOT MY DEFINITION OF BEING EITHER ZAHIR OR ULTRA -FRUM. TO ME ITS JUST NON OBSERVANCE.

    FFB: “Other families with slightly lower walls may have slightly higher OTD rates.

    YMG: BELIEVE THAT IF IT GIVES YOU COMFORT.

    ITS NECESSARY FOR YOU TO BELIEVE THAT THERE IS A CORRELATION BETWEEN HIGHER WALLS AND A LOW OTD RATE IN ORDER TO JUSTIFY YOUR PARTICULAR “COUNTRY CLUBS” STRATEGY, AND THE EMOTIONAL PRICE YOU PERSONALLY PAID FOR MAINTAINING HIGHER WALLS.

    IT IS INTERSESTING ISNT IT HOW YOU HAVE LIMITED YOURSELF IN THIS BLOG TO DISCUSSING AN UN-IDENTIFIED ‘COUNTRY CLUB” WHILE IGNORING THE REALITY OF THE HEMMORAGING OF OTD KIDS FROM THE WHOLE OF THE CHASSIDISHE OLAM, AND HOW YOUVE DISTANCED YOURSELF FROM THE GROWING HEIMISHE SUBCULTURE TOO.

    FFB: I live in the midst of a real, not CINO, densely populated chassidish area

    YMG: SO WHERE DO YOU LIVE, AND WHAT CHASSIDISHE “COUNTRY CLUB” DO YOU BELONG TO? WHO ARE WE DISCUSSING HERE?

    FFB: with hundreds of mostly good families, and to the best of my knowledge I can point to only one completely OTD kid whose family, BTW, is among the most modern of our community. Another ten or twenty so-called “ODT” kids are just more modern than their parents, yet most probably still frummer than most LWMO. (And no, by “frum” I don’t mean levush only. I’ve no idea where you took it from. I mean shmiras torah umitzvos.) Still, their families have difficulties finding shiduchim even for their good kids. Why? Because it’s so rare. People are afraid that something’s wrong with the family.”

    YMG: RIGHT BECAUSE DYSFUNCTIONAL ABUSIVE AND CRAZY ISNT ENOUGH TO GIVE PEOPLE THE IMPRESSION THAT SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH THE FAMILY. PEOPLE OBVIOUSLY NEED AN OTD KID TO CONVEY THAT IMPRESSION. (SARCASTIC).

    IT SEEMS THAT MANY PEOPLE IN EVERY “COUNTRY CLUB” TODAY—NOT JUST YOUR UNIDENTIFIED CLUB—-ARE FRIGHTENED INTO STAYING ON THE DERECH BECAUSE OF A SOCIAL REASON IE CONSEQUENCES IN SHIDDUCHIM.

    SO FAR THERES BEEN NO MENTION OF LOVE OF G-D AND JOY IN SERVING HIM IN YOUR POST AS A REASON MOTIVATING THE PEOPLE YOU DESCRIBE TO STAY ON THE DERECH.

    AND, I AM STILL UNCONVINCED THAT YOU AND I ARE USING THE SAME YARDSTICK FOR WHAT CONSTIUTES SHMIRAS TORAH U’MITZVOS OR ULTRA-FRUM GIVEN THE FACT THAT PEOPLE CAN NOT OBSERVE MITZVOHS BEIN ADAM L’CHAVEIRO WHEN THEY ARE DYSFUNCTIONAL AND ABUSIVE IN THEIR INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS.

    FFB: “If there were as many OTD (or what we chassidim call “ODT”) kids as you imply, there would be no problems with shiduchim for their siblings.”

    YMG: NOT EVERY CHOSSID THINKS LIKE YOU THOUGH , ‘CAUSE REMEMBER ACCORDING TO YOU THEY’D HAVE TO BE YOU.

    THERE ARE PROBLEMS IN SHIDDUCHIM FOR CHILDREN IN CHASSIDISHE FAMILIES WITH AN OTD SIBLING EVEN THOUGH THERE ARE MANY OTD KIDS FROM MANY CHASSIDISHE FAMILIES TODAY. THIS IS BECAUSE SOME CHASSIDISHE FAMILIES WITH OTD KIDS ARE DYSFUNCTIONAL AND ABUSIVE FAMILIES THAT OTHER CHASSIDISHE FAMILIES WHO ALSO HAVE OTD KIDS WOULDNT WANT TO BE M’SHADDUCH WITH.

    WHAT YOU WRITE IS NO PROOF OF ANYTHING.

    YOU JUST WANT TO KEEP YOUR STORY THAT THERE ARE NOT AS MANY CHASSIDISHE KIDS GOING OFF THE DERECH TODAY AS THERE ARE KIDS FROM OTHER COUNTRY CLUBS. ANYBODY FAMILIAR WITH THE HEIMISHE SUBCULTURE KNOWS YOUR STORY IS A FAIRY TALE. ANYBODY WHO WANTS TO CAN CHECK IT OUT FOR THEMSELVES.

    FFB: “Yes, I know about the gutter-OTD kids of the CINO families, but their walls are usually way lower than ours.”

    YMG: YEP, YOUR STILL UNIDENTIFIED “COUNTRY CLUB” IS DOING GREAT BECAUSE SOME OTHER “COUNTRY CLUB” IS DOING A LITTLE WORSE USING THE SAME FAILED STRATEGY OF HIGHER WALLS.

    HIGH WALLS IS A FAILED STRATEGY, A ONCE UPON A TIME FIX-IT-ALL SOLUTION THAT ISNT WORKING WELL TODAY.

    FFB: “ In the very few instances of ultra-frum, real chassidish kids going completely OTD (I personally heard of three or four in a society where such news are bombshells), either the walls were devoid of real Yiddishkeit (as you said), their parents are empty bekeshes, hypocrites, or the parents were abusive, or completely crazy. But there are (unfortunately) many more such homes than OTD kids. Most kids from abusive, crazy, ultra-frum homes have problems other than going OTD. And most really high-walled homes, where the likes of Lipa are treif, have sincerely frum parents. Don’t forget, erecting and fortifying these walls takes a lot of mesiras nefesh. The vast majority of people wouldn’t do it if they weren’t sincere in other areas of yiddishkeit too.”

    YMG: SO MUCH MESIRAS NEFESH SEEMS TO BE EXPENDED ON ERECTING & FORTIFYING HIGH WALLS THAT VERY LITTLE FOCUS, TIME AND ENERGY IS BEING DIRECTED TOWARDS BUILDING EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY PEOPLE AND FAMILIES.

    IS ANYBODY ELSE READING THIS BLOG PICKING UP ON THE AMOUNT OF DYSFUNCTION, ABUSE AND CRAZINESS MR. FFB DISCOUNTS BECAUSE ITS OK AS LONG AS IT IS ASSOCIATED WITH BEING “ULTRA-FRUM” AND STAYING ‘ULTRA FRUM” ?

    QUOTE: “devoid of real Yiddishkeit (as you said), their parents are empty bekeshes, hypocrites, or the parents were abusive, or completely crazy. But there are (unfortunately) many more such homes than OTD kids.”

    FFB: “In short, there are many problems to work on in every community, but judging by the results, manning the walls is one of them.”

    YMG: NO DOUBT THERE ARE MANY PROBLEMS TO WORK ON IN EVERY COMMUNITY TODAY.

    AND THE SPIRITUAL/EMOTIONAL COST OF MANNING THE WALLS AMONG THE PEOPLE YOU DESCRIBE ISNT VERY IMPRESSIVE, QUOTE devoid of real Yiddishkeit (as you said), their parents are empty bekeshes, hypocrites, or the parents were abusive, or completely crazy. But there are (unfortunately) many more such homes than OTD kids.”

    JUDGING BY THE RESULTS YOU DESCRIBE IT SEEMS EVER MORE CLEAR TO ME THAT PEOPLE NEED TO CHANGE THEIR STRATEGY OF BUILDING AND MANNING WALLS AND FOCUS MUCH MORE ON BUILDING SPIRITUALLY AND EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY YIDDEN.

    THE RESULTS YOU DESCRIBE WOULD UNDOUBTEDLY IMPROVE IF YOUR COUNTRY CLUB FOCUSED MORE ON BULDING PEOPLE INSTEAD OF BUILDING AND MAINTAINING WALLS.

    FFB: “Having said all that, I must state, in view of your percieved implications of my comments for the readers here, that I wouldn’t recommend this ultra derech for BTs.”

    YMG: I’D GO A LOT FURTHER THAN THAT. I WOULDN’T RECOMMEND IT TO ANYBODY.

    I WOULD INSTEAD ADVISE EVERYONE TO STAY FAR, FAR AWAY FROM YOUR VERSION OF ULTRA-FRUM LIFE BEHIND HIGH WALLS WHICH SEEMS TO BE NEARLY SYNONYMOUS WITH DYSFUNCTIONAL, ABUSIVE AND CRAZY.

    IN MY WORLD DYSFUNCTIONAL ABUSIVE AND CRAZY IS TOTALLY ANTITHETICAL TO BEING TORAH OBSERVANT, AND IT WOULD NEVER BE TRIVIALIZED/IGNORED BECAUSE IT WAS ASSOCIATED WITH BEING ULTRA FRUM.

    FFB: “The change is just too drastic. Most of the few BT families I know in our community are unfortunately not well adjusted.”

    YMG: I CAN CERTAINLY HEAR THAT. LIVING AMONG SO MANY ULTRA-FRUM DYSFUNCTIONAL ABUSIVE AND CRAZY FAMILIES MUST HAVE TAKEN ITS TOLL.

    FFB: “ I think they do better in more open communities.” Frankly, this discussion does not belong on BBT. I’d never initiate it, and I’m sorry I asked for help.

    DEAR MR. FFB :
    MY HEART GOES OUT TO YOU, MAMISH. REALLY & TRULY.

    BUT, I HONESTLY DONT THINK I WILL BE ABLE TO EXPEND ANY MORE TIME NOW OR IN THE FUTURE RESPONDING TO YOU AND TRYING TO HELP YOU SEE THE OBVIOUS: THAT WITHIN THE CONFINES OF YOUR ‘HIGHER WALLS” THERE IS A LOT OF DYSFUNCTION, ABUSE, AND CRAZINESS, THAT ONLY YOU COULD KNOW ABOUT ACCORDING TO YOUR WORLD VIEW, THAT SEEMS TO BE ACCEPTABLE AS LONG AS CHILDREN STAY ULTRA-FRUM ON THE DERECH.

    YOU’VE REALLY MADE IT CLEAR TO US BT’S THAT FOR SOME PEOPLE IN YOUR STILL UNIDENTIFIED COUNTRY CLUB LIVING WITHIN THE CONFINES OF “HIGH WALLS” BEING ULTRA-FRUM AND STAYING ULTRA-FRUM HAS VERY LITTLE TO DO WITH GENUINE, LOVING, MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIPS WITH G-D, OR ANYONE ELSE FOR THAT MATTER.

    BUT, THEN AGAIN, IN YOUR OWN UNIQUE WAY YOU MADE MY POINTS FOR ME.

    YOU’VE GIVEN US BT’S QUITE AN EDUCATION ON THE IMPORTANCE OF NOT INVESTING A LOT OF MESIRAS NEFESH IN ERECTING AND MAINTAINING HIGH WALLS IF IT COMES AT THE EMOTIONAL PRICE OF DYSFUNCTIONAL, ABUSIVE AND CRAZY YIDDEN.

    THANK YOU FOR RE-INFORCING THE POINT I KEEP TRYING TO DRIVE HOME IN MY PAST POSTS: NEGLECTING THE SPIRITUAL/EMOTIONAL BUILDING UP AND STRENGTHENING OF PEOPLE WHILE ERECTING AND MAINTAINING HIGHER WALLS WITH MESIRAS NEFESH ISNT A WINNING STRATEGY.

    I SINCERELY WISH YOU THE VERY BEST. BROCHA V’HATZLOCHA IN EVERYTHING.
    YMG

  63. YMG
    July 7th, 2009 @ 3:46 am

    MARK: So if I’m hearing you correctly, you have no problem with high walls per se, as long as that’s not the only means of installing the other qualities necessary to be a great Jew.

    YMG: HISTORICALLY SPEAKING HIGHER WALLS HAS NEVER BEEN THE MEANS THAT INSTALLS THE OTHER QUALITIES IN YIDDEN WHICH ARE NECESSARY TO BE A GOOD JEW, A GENUINE EVED H-SHEM. AND HIGHER WALLS HAS NEVER BEEN THE MEANS THAT INSTALLS THE OTHER QUALITIES NECESSARY TO BE A GREAT JEW, A TZADDIK, EITHER.

    MARK: I think most high wall communities would argue that this is not their only means of building their people.

    YMG: NO DISAGREEMENT HERE. BUT WE BOTH KNOW THAT HIGH WALL COMMUNITIES INVEST AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF ENERGY INTO ERECTING AND MAINTAINING THESE WALLS AS IF THE HIGH WALLS WERE THE MAIN MEANS OF BUILDING THEIR PEOPLE.

    MANY PEOPLE WHO RESIDE WITHIN THE CONFINES OF THE HIGH WALLS ALSO CONFUSE THE HIGH WALLS AS THE MEANS THAT BUILDS PEOPLE AND KEEPS THEM ON THE DERECH. IF YOU NEED ANY FURTHER PROOF JUST READ FFB’S LATEST POST..

    MARK: There are problems with high walls in of themselves, but I’m not sure if that’s the point you’re making.

    YMG: THAT’S CERTAINLY TRUE. IT ISNT MY MAIN POINT BUT IT IS AN ANCILLORY POINT

    MARK: There are many ways to understand that Mishna and for that matter any Mishna in Pirkei Avos.

    YMG: TRUE ENOUGH

    MARK: Was the explanation you provided that of the Rishonim, Achronim or your Rebbeim or was it your personal understanding?

    YMG: GOOD QUESTION. TO BE QUITE HONEST MY HUSBAND AND I WERE LISTENING TO RABBI NOSSON SHERMAN ON PIRKE AVOS LAST NIGHT ON DIAL-A-SHIUR. THE EXPLANATION MIGHT HAVE BEEN A TAKE OF WHAT HE WAS SAYING, OR I MIGHT HAVE JUST TEICHED THE MISHNAH THAT WAY MYSELF THIS MORNING. I AM SO TIRED—IT IS 3:40 AM— I DO NOT RECALL WHICH. I JUST REMEMBER TRYING TO RESPOND TO YOUR QUESTION ABOUT HIGHER WALLS AND REACHING FOR THE SIDDUR, AND READING THE MISHNAH AS I TYPED MY RESPONSE.

  64. Bob Miller
    July 7th, 2009 @ 9:42 am

    Wow!

  65. PL
    July 7th, 2009 @ 9:49 am

    I agree with FFB that this conversation is an odd one for BBT. FFB asked a question, and the reply should have taken up about two lines, at most.

    (The issue of “high walls” is a great topic, and perhaps better addressed in a dedicated post.)

    YMG,

    You wrote that you’re “not yelling”, but some of the phraseology in your writing is veering off the polite discourse road.

    I’m not sure FFB and YMG are speaking the same language, and I don’t mean English/Yiddish, OR syntax…

    Perhaps it’s time to cyber smile and sincerely wish the other well in all endeavors…

    Just my free advice :).

  66. Ron Coleman
    July 7th, 2009 @ 10:21 am

    Well maybe it wasn’t so helpful. Though that was what I was trying to say, too.

    Anyway I see this thread has really taken on a life of its own. It would be great for people like me with other demands on their time but who are still interested in talking about these issues to see them broken out into two or three other posts, probably, unless we’re just too far along at this point.

  67. Mark Frankel
    July 7th, 2009 @ 10:40 am

    We definitely need a separate High Wall post. If any of our readers or contributors would like to start the discussion with a short post, it would be a tremendous act of kindness.

  68. Albany Jew
    July 7th, 2009 @ 10:43 am

    So……have we determined what I should do with my old Rolling Stones albums now? “I can’t get no………..”

  69. Bob Miller
    July 7th, 2009 @ 10:45 am

    If the comment length is in inverse proportion to the post length, we could use a long post.

  70. Bob Miller
    July 7th, 2009 @ 10:46 am

    Albany Jew,

    Re: Stones

    It’s All Over Now

  71. FFB
    July 7th, 2009 @ 11:59 am

    I give up engaging in intelligent discussion with a disputant who denies my reality as I see and live it and takes unknown things for granted, such as my gender and a diagnosis of my psychological needs. My comment is for the benefit of the other readers here.

    Almost in the beginning I said, “We’re talking about two very different populations.” In our digitalized world this isn’t neatly categorized as a neighborhood or chassidus.

    For the sake of clarity, let’s say I give a regular phone shiur geared to chassidish women. In my shiurim I address the problems of our communities and demand a high level of avodas Hashem in all areas. Who is interested in such shiurim? Not the sub-culture of Boro Park, you can be sure. Not most of Boro Park, for that matter. Or the Francis-Place area of Monsey either. The women there mostly listen to more interesting things. Even the more serious among them would much rather listen to English shiurim because Yiddish is unfortunately looked down upon.

    With quite a few exceptions, the “real” Satmar live in Kiryas Yoel or Williamsburg, the “real” Skverer live in Skver, the “real” Vizhnitzer live in the vizhnitz area of Monsey, and this where most of my listeners come from, though I do have some from almost every chassidus and area. (Women of most other chassidic circles speak mostly English, except to their little chidren.)

    There are sub-cultures in these “super-chassidish” shtetlach too, but unfortunately I only get to speak to the good ones, who do comprise the majority b”H. This sometimes feels like preaching to the choir, but I keep 2 points in mind: 1. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 2. Some of my listeners may be stradling the fence and my words just might tip the scale.

    I mainly speak about raising children properly in a crazy world, how to handle abusive spouses and parents etc., but I do speak out once in a while on issues like wild music, and I thought if I could give the parents tangible facts to present to their children when banning this music from their homes, they’d greatly appreciate it. That’s all.

    About the “high walls” issue I’m not sure any explanation is necessary for other readers. If you ask for it, I’ll try my best bli neder.

  72. Menachem Lipkin
    July 7th, 2009 @ 12:25 pm

    Here you go Mark…

    Walls: Are they needed? If so, how high?

    :)

  73. FFB
    July 7th, 2009 @ 12:27 pm

    P.S.

    About the “high walls” issue I’m not sure any explanation is necessary for other readers.

    From my POV, that is.

  74. Bob Miller
    July 7th, 2009 @ 1:12 pm

    ABOUT WALLS (Dedicated to Menachem Lipkin)

    Walls are very useful as privacy barriers, as separators between the floor and ceiling, and as things to put doors and windows into and hang things on. They help with climate control if you also have a heating/cooling system.

    Walls need to be high enough for people to walk around comfortably inside without colliding with ceiling fixtures (fans, lights, crystal chandeliers…).

    Higher walls tend to add to construction, maintenance, and energy costs, but they increase grandeur.

    Walls keep the riff-raff out or in, depending on which side you’re on.

  75. FFB
    July 7th, 2009 @ 1:28 pm

    LOL all thru your comment, Bob.

  76. Mark Frankel
    July 7th, 2009 @ 1:31 pm

    Thanks to Menachem and Bob for their contributions.

    But no matter how high, walls need doors, and we’ll still be knocking on yours when we need more posts, which we do.

  77. Bob Miller
    July 7th, 2009 @ 1:33 pm

    Mark, you have just returned us to the topic:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Hear_You_Knocking

  78. Charnie
    July 7th, 2009 @ 1:55 pm

    And at the risk of being redundant, those walls have to surround a home that has warmth, Avodas Hashem, Das Torah, and is a place where its inhabitants feel safe.

    For those of us to whom this site was originally “dedicated” – many of us came from places where the walls were full of windows. We saw through them, literally and figuratively, which explains why we’re here now.

    BTW, in terms of TAG (Torah, Avodah, Gemillas Chasadim), Lipa excels!

  79. Charlie Hall
    July 7th, 2009 @ 2:07 pm

    “The Rov might have had the opinion that the music in question is best not heard in the first place, but that those who have already heard it often and still enjoy it should not be deprived of it.”

    Not according to my rabbi, who at the age of 70 attended an opera for the first time in his life just a few months ago.

    “choosing WHICH rock songs to Judaicize”

    Is there anyone here who hadn’t sung “Tzur Mishelo” to the tune of “Sloop John B”?

    “a rock classic that was an ode to a non-Jewish deity”

    The most common tune used for “Ma’oz Tzur” was also used by none other than Martin Luther HaRasha.

  80. Bob Miller
    July 7th, 2009 @ 2:27 pm

    Charlie Hall,

    1. The music in question (that the comment by M. Adams described) did not appear to be at all like opera! So there is no contradiction between your rabbi and Adams’. (but maybe if the opera was “Tommy”).

    2. I have not sung any Jewish song to the tune of Sloop John B. I’ve heard someone embarrass himself trying to use it in the Kedusha. Anyone who tries to use a pop tune for sacred purposes had better make sure first that the meter, mood, etc., match the material.

    3. Luther was a rasha for non-musical reasons.

  81. Gary
    July 8th, 2009 @ 10:09 am

    Ron Coleman (# 66) wrote: Anyway I see this thread has really taken on a life of its own. It would be great for people like me with other demands on their time but who are still interested in talking about these issues to see them broken out into two or three other posts, probably, unless we’re just too far along at this point.

    The digressions make for a more complex post, but they might not stand on their own. I guess that varies with the issue.

    For a very long post, or one with many comments, I print the article and work my way through it gradually, often at my Shabbat meals.

    I also have a procedural suggestion: when responding to or referring to a comment, try to include its author and sequence number; it makes scrolling back to the original faster and easier.

  82. YMG
    July 8th, 2009 @ 10:24 am

    I’m glad other blog participants brought up the issue again of us Yidden having a track record of co-opting non Jewish music.

    Cultural confluence between socially segregated Jewish, Christian and Islamic Societies during the Middle Ages was the topic of my Ph.D thesis.

    There are dozens of musical examples of Jews co-opting music that is unequivocally non Jewish in origin for liturgical purposes. Time constraints limit me here to just mentioning one that many blog participants are undoubtedly familiar with:”La Marseillaise” which was originally an army marching song before it became the anthem of the French
    Revolution (today it is the national anthem of France).

    La Marseillaise was co-opted by Lubavitch and incorporated into the davening nusach. It has been used in this way for nearly 200 years.

    There are also multiple examples of gentile musical influence within Jewish music. Again, due to time constraints, I bring only one example: Modzitzer music composed by one of the Modzitzer Admorim (Rebbes). Anyone familiar with the music of Modzitz hears the gentile influence immediately.

    The brouhaha over Lipa’s music, and Jewish music in general today, is a knee jerk “let’s- build- higher- walls response” that wasnt even implemented in the past. (The past is often mythologized/sanitized as being purer or holier than it was in fact by proponents of building/maintaining higher walls.)

    The real difference between the past and today is that the hoif (Rebbe’s court as in a Kings court not a court-house)was the disseminator of the music and gave co-opted music an imprimatur. And, this is still the case with lots of Chassidishe music today that is churned out for various occasions (such as the marriage of a grand-child etc.)

    Therefore, what is really being contested on the battlefield of contemporary music is a loss of control. It isnt about gentile influence in music per se. Dont be fooled.

  83. FFB
    July 8th, 2009 @ 11:13 am

    R’ Eizikl Kalever zt”l (first Hungarian chassidic rebbe, 19′th century) learned a song from a Hungarian shepherd. And he composed songs in Hungarian! (“Sol a Kokosh” & others) Imagine a chassidic rebbe singing English songs today.

    My friend went to Russia as an Agudah shaliach. When her husband taught the locals some chassidic nigunim, they were appalled. These were the tunes by which the Gypsy women danced before their men.

    Yom Tov Ehrlich, the greatest Yiddish composer, whose songs have been adopted by MBD and A. Fried and recently translated into Hebrew, was a real old-time Karliner chassid, originally from Russia. His tape was playing in my friend’s house when the Russian painter who was there suddenly started marching to the tune. It was an army march!

    I heard that the lovely Hamalach Hagoel takes its tune from Brahm’s Lullaby. (Is it true?) I never heard anyone complaining about it.

    So the problem is not the source as much as the quality. I was at a chassidic wedding where one of those “chassidic” singers (I call them חסידי אומות העולם) sang one wild tune after the other. The boys, even the girls, danced like drunks. The older ones left the circle. It was disgusting. And then he started singing a nice, eidel chassidic song, recently composed by Bobover composer Moshe Goldman, and a transformation took place. Suddenly the dancers were eidel, chassidish bochurim and girls again. The older ones returned to the circle, each holding onto the others’ shoulder, young and old dancing together to be mesameach the choson and kallah. It was lovely and lebedig and as sublime as the dancing on simchas torah.

    It doesn’t matter if the tune is old or new. If it sounds like the גרועים שבאומות (the worst of the nations) – we want it out!

  84. Mordechai Y. Scher
    July 9th, 2009 @ 2:47 pm

    I am of the opinion that the arts can have a role in sensitizing and informing the sensitive soul. I think this is consistent with Rav Aharon Lichtenstein’s approach; and my own experience leads me to think it is correct.

    Admittedly, this is rather unclear. It leaves much up to the individual to discern, accept or reject. Yet, that is what we do with all manner of things.

    We have non-Jewish art on our walls, and we have Jewish art.

    We read non-Jewish literature in my home (not counting things like Motorcycle Consumer News which I view as utilitarian). In addition to learning Torah, we read Jewish literature such as Agnon or R. Haim Sabato.

    We listen to non-Jewish music, and Jewish music. We listen to the styles that appeal to us. I reject lyrics that are vulgar, because I object to them and what they subtly do to me. In many cases, it is a judgement call. I have to discern honestly what the effect of the music is on me, and decide what to do with it. This will vary with each individual, and where they are ‘holding’. Lazer Lloyd (of Yood) or Yossi Piamenta can sound on their instrumentals just like Jimi Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughn. That suits me as far as I can tell; but I can see someone else responding with rejection. The effect music has on us may vary the same way the taste of food or smell of incense may effect us differently.

    I am sorry, though, that so much of Frank Zappa’s lyrics put his music beyond anything I can even consider. That of course raises another philosophical dilemna: can the same mind and heart produce uplifting music but degrading lyrics? Or do the lyrics reveal something undiscerned about the music? I don’t know.

  85. Yaakov
    July 9th, 2009 @ 4:07 pm

    Can a BT delete the past? For some of us music was a real refuge and support in the storms of adolescence. We do grow up, and we can move on, but shouldn’t we be able to still acknowledge the good in what we left behind, and even, where not inappropriate, enjoy it?

    “A sad fact widely known
    The most impassionate (sic) song
    To a lonely soul
    Is so easily outgrown
    But don’t forget the songs
    That made you smile
    And the songs that made you cry
    When you lay in awe
    On the bedroom floor . . .

    . . . But don’t forget the songs
    That made you cry
    And the songs that saved your life
    Yes, you’re older now
    And you’re a clever swine
    But they were the only ones who ever stood by you . . .

    . . . I’m holding the torch
    In the corner of your room
    Can you hear me ?
    And when you’re dancing and laughing
    And finally living
    Hear my voice in your head
    And think of me kindly”

    Excerpts from a song of my youth by the Smiths, written by Morrisey:

  86. Neil Harris
    July 9th, 2009 @ 5:25 pm

    To address both Yaakov and R Scher (comments 84/85) I know for myself, when I do listen to non-Jewish music, I factor in the character of the person/band who made the music. while I was a fan of The Smiths many, many years ago, Morrisey’s self-loathing, depressing lyrics can’t compare to Dovid HaMelech:
    “Serve the Lord with gladness; come before his presence with singing.”- Tehillim 100:2

  87. Yaakov
    July 9th, 2009 @ 5:47 pm

    “heal me O’ Lord, for my bones shake with terror.
    My whole being is stricken with terror . . .
    I am weary with groaning;
    every night I drench my bed,
    I melt my couch with tears.
    My eyes are wasted with vexation,
    worn out because of all my foes.”

    What a cheery, happy, glad fellow this poet is.

    Dovid HaMelech Tehilim 9

  88. Yaakov
    July 9th, 2009 @ 5:49 pm

    oops. Tehilim 6.

    Still -just a tad depressed and expressive of self-loathing, wouldn’t you say?

  89. Menachem Lipkin
    July 10th, 2009 @ 2:33 am

    Great post YMG. I’d love to read more. Is your work online anywhere?

    The two examples I know are, of course, MBD’s “Yidden” which was lifted directly from a real grungy group called Djingis Khan.

    The other is strange. I used to daven on Pesach at a Syrian shul near Deal, NJ. One of the tunes they use consistently during Hallel is one that I recognize as the Christmas song “Oh Tannenbaum”. Maybe it was ours first. You might know.

    Mordechai Scher. Thank you for articulating the approach we also follow. It’s more difficult, but I think worth it.

  90. Gary
    July 10th, 2009 @ 10:13 am

    I find my approach similar to Rabbi Scher (84).

    Yaakov, in # 86 and 87, your characterization of Tehillim (Psalms) 6 may be the reason that its most common recitation is during Tachanun (supplication during Shacharit and Minchah). The words and the posture of Tachanun allow us to acknowledge how far we may have fallen, how much upward potential we have, and how much we need G-d’s help.

    Hallel is a generally upbeat, thankful collection of Tehillim, but it has some supplications as well. Prayers in general reflect the full range of emotions and situations. To quote the great liturgical scholar, Satchel Paige, “If you don’t pray when the sun is shining, don’t pray when it rains.”

  91. Bob Miller
    July 10th, 2009 @ 10:21 am

    Regarding Menachem’s comment #89:

    Maybe someone named Tannenbaum gave a contribution?

  92. Neil Harris
    July 10th, 2009 @ 11:22 am

    I would also, gently and with a smile, suggest reading R Hirsch’s commentary on Tehillim 6.

  93. Yaakov
    July 10th, 2009 @ 6:32 pm

    I love the Reb Satchel Paige quote, and I will check out R. Hirsch on Tehilim 6.

    Prayer, poetry, literature and song can express all sorts of different emotions and states of being. Kind David expressed a wide range of emotions and lived a very bold, distinctive existence. I’m not saying that he, G-d forbid, was a rock star in his day, -but he was not afraid to publicly express throughout his songs dark doubts, pain, and fear, and throughout the psalms he speaks in terms of feeling persecuted and afflicted. And yes, then he has many psalms showing great joy, hope, and faith. Many poets and musicians, modern and ancient have also explored the gamut of emotion and experience with great sensitivity.

    It was just Neil’s blithe dismissal of Morrissey as depressive and self obsessed (not that this isn’t a mostly accurate observation) contrasted with a cherry-picked quote from Dovid ha Melech, which is not representative of his entire oeuvre: a much more complex and variegated thing than simply “serving the lord with joy” We know that he went through enormous strife and great suffering in his life, and sometimes took chances and liberties that were not (at least on the surface) safe, conventional or kosher. And he had remorse, regrets, fears, and more. The tehilim are expressions of a real flesh and blood human being, -a poet, and not a saint.

    I don’t believe that all music or art is benevolent or innocuous, and like Neil, I do generally take care to consider the tone and character of the music and the musicians I listen to -but like Ron eloquently said earlier, we gain understanding and empathy through art -George Eliot once said that in fact the highest aim of art was to extend the range of our empathy. Though David was a great poet, there are experiences outside of his range, and there are contemporaries who do explore these themes. I don’t hold Morrissey out as a great poet, but he has a range, and his ostensible depressiveness and self-loathing and world weariness are expressed artfully, cleverly, and sensitively and never as rawly and brutally as David describes his suffering in Tehilim 6. -And he does have a range beyond that. many other songwriters and musicians attain to the level of art through telling stories and playing that move and uplift us, and also that cause of to think of more somber things. It’s a different window into a different soul.

    Tolstoy wrote late in his life that art is infection -moral infection -that it contaminates, spreading a moral virus, and the responsibility of the artist is to create only moral art so as to infect people for the good and not the bad: by his criteria, the good is that which glorifies the brotherhood of man, and the love of God through J.C. And so he renounced all of his great works of art as immoral art, and wrote only tracts and “frum” novels (read: moralistic, clunky, dull) for the rest of his life. I think Tolstoy was right in many ways, and so (in essence) does the frum world, but things like the Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Job, the Song of Songs and other Jewish literary expressions -while they may well have deeper religious meaning intentionally embedded in them, also have a simple meaning which might not meet the simple criteria of “good”, “moralistic art.”

    So whatever R. Hirsch may say about tehilim 6: the simple meaning is that David was suffering -and that he turned to God (as Gary notes) with hopes for the alleviation of his suffering -but even still, he suffered -his faith didn’t prevent him from soaking his couch with tears, trembling in fear, and feeling persecuted and oppressed. But he didn’t present only a rosy upbeat face -he didn’t whitewash things. And because he didn’t shy from this, we as readers are moved and connect with it. He was a real artist -not a polyanna frum poet.

  94. Menashe
    August 4th, 2009 @ 4:40 pm

    For me, sadly, that former music collection does still resonate at a physical level. The driving rhythms from Jackson’s Thriller would help me pedal faster while exercising, and melodically, it’s easy to prefer a catchy Beatles tune on endless mental repeat than having the children’s Uncle Moishe in the brain for hours at a time ;-)

    Yet my derech has given me something beyond (and above) physical musical preferences. While lyrics of free love, violence, and teen angst are virtually inseparable from the driving rhythms and clever poetry of that old rock and roll, I can recall none who could combine word and lyric to bring tears to my eyes like Rahel Jaskow (http://www.rhapsody.com/rahel-jaskow). I miss my old Rock and Roll collection, bit by bit gifted, sold, or donated to non-Jews. But I can’t consider it a loss. Not with what I’ve gained since.

  95. Neil Harris
    August 18th, 2009 @ 3:36 pm

    Yaakov,

    All of your comments were well stated, sorry for not checking back to this thread eariler.
    Especially:
    And because he didn’t shy from this, we as readers are moved and connect with it. He was a real artist -not a polyanna frum poet.

    That is ultimately one of the reasons we connect with music/lyrics.

    With Hand in Glove,

    Neil

  96. Yakov
    August 19th, 2009 @ 1:25 am

    Thanks Neil!

    Blessings,

    Yakov

Leave a Reply





  • RSS Shul Politics

  • Get Beyond BT Via Email

     Step 1: Enter your Email

  • Categories

  • Brevedy Videos





  • S.M.