Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Orthodox Judaism flourishes more with oppression and poverty than with freedom and wealth

In response to some critical comments about RaP's latest post. There is no question that spirituality is greater when Jews are in an environment of anti-Semitism and are poor and unemployed and therefore Torah is their only option for activity.  The rabbis of the 17th and 18th century were fully aware of this and that is why they resisted emancipation from the ghetto and equal rights. The problem is this goes against modern western thought that assumes that freedom and democracy are inherently good.

In general the Rabbis  preferred the isolation and victim hood that had been imposed on the Jews since the Black Death in the 1300's rather than the freedom and opportunities that existed before this. Of course too much oppression such as Nazi Germany or Communist Russia - is also a problem. Rav S. R. Hirsch was one of the few rabbis of the 18oo's who welcomed emancipation and free access to the world. I think few of us would voluntarily turn back the clock and want to live in a  17th century European ghetto. However that doesn't mean it didn't have benefits and even advantages to our present situation.

This is part of the fight that is going on between the Chareidim and Lapid over the benefits of secular education and sharing the burden. It is interesting to note that the most difficult issue for Mendelssohn to deal with was the separation of Church and State. Emancipation requires that no once can tell you how to think while Torah requires imposing sanctions for deviant religious thoughts and actions deemed offensive by religious authority - even though they are not judged as such by secular society.. How could he advocate participation in a society which requires relinquishing the sanctions that the religious community requires to be imposed on those who fail to conform. Mendelssohn was encouraged to convert to Christianity in order to resolve this problem

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 Berachos (32a): R. Eleazar also said: Moses spoke insolently towards heaven, as it says, And Moses prayed unto the Lord. Read not el [unto] the Lord, but ‘al [upon] the Lord, for so in the school of R. Eliezer alefs were pronounced like ‘ayins and ‘ayins like alefs. The school of R. Jannai learnt it from here: And Di-Zahab. What is ‘ And Di-Zahab’? They said in the school of R. Jannai: Thus spoke Moses before the Holy One, blessed be He: Sovereign of the Universe, the silver and gold [zahab] which Thou didst shower on Israel until they said, Enough [dai], that it was which led to their making the Calf. They said in the school of R. Jannai: A lion does not roar over a basket of straw but over a basket of flesh. R. Oshaia said: It is like the case of a man who had a lean but large-limbed cow. He gave it lupines to eat and it commenced to kick him. He said to it: What led you to kick me except the lupines that I fed you with? R. Hiyya b. Abba said: It is like the case of a man who had a son; he bathed him and anointed him and gave him plenty to eat and drink and hung a purse round his neck and set him down at the door of a bawdy house. How could the boy help sinning? R. Aha the son of R. Huna said in the name of R. Shesheth: This bears out the popular saying: A full stomach is a bad sort, as It says, When they were fed they became full, they were filled and their heart was exalted; therefore they have forgotten Me. R. Nahman learnt it from here: Then thy heart be lifted up and thou forget the Lord. The Rabbis from here: And they shall have eaten their fill and waxen fat, and turned unto other gods. Or, if you prefer, I can say from here. But Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked. R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in the name of R. Jonathan. Whence do we know that the Holy One, blessed be He, in the end gave Moses right? Because it says, And multiplied unto her silver and gold, which they used for Baal.

Chofetz Chaim. The Chofetz Chaim taught that each neshama is asked before it is born in a human being whether it wants to be rich or poor.[Nidah (16b)].  The students said that they didn't understand this because so many people are poor and they obviously don't want to be! The Chofetz Chaim replied that from this we see that the neshama is well aware that the test of being poor is less than that of being rich and that is why it is chosen.

 Dayan Gruenfeld (Introduction to Hirsch, Judaism Eternal vol I pp 26-27). If anything had been forced on the Jew, it was not his adher­ence to, but his exclusion from, general culture and education. When at the beginning of the nineteenth century the Jews  again found their way into the world of science and general  education they came in reality back to their own. For the  estrangement was not organic but superimposed. It had by no  means arisen from the essential character of Judaism. Just the contrary was true, as the golden eras of Jewish history in  Babylonia and Spain had shown. In those eras the highest Talmudic and general scientific efficiency were combined. Apart from the enormous support which the study of Torah, Mish­nah, and Talmud receives from secular knowledge, the whole task of the Jew as a servant of God in this world depends on his insight into the natural historical and social conditions around him.

Rabbi Moshe Dovid Tendler (Kol HaMaser interview 2010): The difficulties of Jewish life in that period [of the first immigrants on the Lower East Side] are perhaps best appreciated by examining what followed the initial “settling in.” Once upon a time, I gave a lecture in my shul in which I said that we fell victim to the three A’s –“affluence,” “acceptance,” and “assimilation” – but, unlike the AAA, these A’s did not protect us. Nowadays, after being in Yeshiva all these years and watching what is happening, I have added an I for “irreverence.” There is nothing that is (sacred), nothing that is out of bounds for discussion.

Chabad.org Chabad historiographical tradition espouses a similar attitude towards libertarian France. Accordingly, autocratic oppression under the Russian Tsars was deemed preferable to the comforts to be gained under the government of a more liberal regime. This sentiment is succinctly expressed in a statement attributed to Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of the Chabad school: “If Bonaparte will be victorious, Jewish wealth will increase, and the prestige of the Jewish people will be raised; but their hearts will become separated and distanced from their Father in Heaven. But if Alexander will be victorious, although Israel’s poverty will increase and their prestige will be lowered, their hearts will be joined, bound and unified with their Father in Heaven.”6

67 comments :

  1. A very interesting post, but I think it requires a bit more analysis. It would seem to me that our approach to learning and those adopted by our Torah institutions in Europe (and copied in Eretz Yisrael today) were a "result" of this oppression not the reverse. When confronted with a situation that did not allow for "integration" with the broader society (Derech Eretz), the institutions and the Haskafa paralleled that reality. Unfortunately this "oppression" lasted the better part of 1,000 years and had a deep impact on our approach and thought even in society's like ours where "freedom" is the norm.

    Rav Hirsch recognizing the change in reality sought to reassert the "integrated" approach that was the Torah norm before this, and formulated his Torah Im Derech Eretz ideology. Of course the caveat is that Torah defines what is acceptable or not not the reverse (a fundamental mistake of Mendelssohn and even of many Modern Orthodox today, not to equate the two C"V).

    Our challenge is to create institutions and leaders who can lead this change and provide the alternatives so desperately needed in Eretz Yisrael and Chutz Laaretz. If we continue to be locked into a system where we blindly adhere to what our Zeyda or Gedolim did, without understanding the context, we will not have very good results.

    Lahachzir Atara Liyoshna!

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  2. I want to congratulate DT for this post, because it is very honest, and really brings the heart of the matter to light. This one principal is perhaps the bedrock of many of the debates, whether MO, DL, Rambam, or Tenach outlooks, which all take the opposite view to that of Haredim.
    The actual debate is another issue, which hopefully I will come back to, but finally, we have a clear statement which lies behind the more exaggerated claims which are flying around.

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  3. Let’s be careful to point out that a Jewish leader is an ohev Yisrael, and no Jewish leader ever wanted Jews to suffer materially, G–d forbid; they did, however, hold at times that the benefits of poverty outweighed its drawbacks in that milieu--or, better put, that the cons of wealth outweighed those of poverty.

    Nowadays, however, it should be noted that the Lubavitcher Rebbe holds that the test of wealth should be preferred over the test of poverty—see here.

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    1. Nowadays? Is that current or as of 14 years ago?

      Holds or held?

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    2. We refer to shittos often in the present tense, as in "the mishna berurah holds".

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  4. See דרשת הר"ן דרוש העשירי where he elaborates on this concept and talks about the חסד of יסורין because they allow the כח השכל to flourish and the דמיון to be minimized.

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  5. See Rambam MT in Yesodei HaTorah, Ch5; 4
    In discussing Kiddush Hashem, he emphasizes that where an opportunity to escape persecution exists, but a person stays, it is like a dog returning to its vomit, and this person will inherit the lowest rung in gehinnom.
    This is in my Sefer, but I could not find it online at the mechon mamre site.

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    1. He is talking about someone who can not withstand the test and yet insists on living in a situation where he will continue to violate halacha



      רמב"ם הלכות יסודי התורה פרק ה הלכה ד


      כל מי שנאמר בו יעבור ואל יהרג ונהרג ולא עבר הרי זה מתחייב בנפשו, וכל מי שנאמר בו יהרג ואל יעבור ונהרג ולא עבר הרי זה קידש את השם, ואם היה בעשרה מישראל הרי זה קידש את השם ברבים כדניאל חנניה מישאל ועזריה ורבי עקיבא וחביריו, ואלו הן הרוגי מלכות שאין מעלה על מעלתן, ועליהן נאמר כי עליך הורגנו כל היום נחשבנו כצאן טבחה, ועליהם נאמר אספו לי חסידי כורתי בריתי עלי זבח, וכל מי שנאמר בו יהרג ואל יעבור ועבר ולא נהרג הרי זה מחלל את השם, ואם היה בעשרה מישראל הרי זה חילל את השם ברבים ובטל מצות עשה שהיא קידוש השם ועבר על מצות לא תעשה שהיא חלול השם, ואעפ"כ מפני שעבר באונס אין מלקין אותו ואין צריך לומר שאין ממיתין אותו בית דין אפילו הרג באונס, שאין מלקין וממיתין אלא לעובר ברצונו ובעדים והתראה שנאמר בנותן מזרעו למולך ונתתי אני את פני באיש ההוא מפי השמועה למדו ההוא לא אנוס ולא שוגג ולא מוטעה, ומה אם עבודת כוכבים שהיא חמורה מן הכל העובד אותה באונס אינו חייב כרת ואין צריך לומר מיתת בית דין, קל וחומר לשאר מצות האמורות בתורה, ובעריות הוא אומר ולנערה לא תעשה דבר, אבל אם יכול למלט נפשו ולברוח מתחת יד המלך הרשע ואינו עושה הנה הוא ככלב שב על קיאו, והוא נקרא עובד עבודת כוכבים במזיד והוא נטרד מן העולם הבא ויורד למדרגה התחתונה של גיהנם.

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    2. So if he has an opportunity to escape death, but doesn't, is that not a sin?

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    3. nope

      The Rambam in fact considers it desirable to die even when the halacha doesn't require it.

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    4. That is strange, since the first line that you quoted above says quite the opposite:

      כל מי שנאמר בו יעבור ואל יהרג ונהרג ולא עבר הרי זה מתחייב בנפשו

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    5. you are right - it is Tosfos and others who say it is permitted to be machmir. However the Kesef Mishna says that the Rambam holds that it is appropriate for a great person to be machmir

      כסף משנה הלכות יסודי התורה פרק ה הלכה ד

      [ד] כל מי שנאמר בו יעבור ואל יהרג ונהרג ולא עבר הרי זה מתחייב בנפשו. סובר רבינו שכשאמרו בגמרא יעבור ואל יהרג פירוש צריך לעבור כדי שלא יהרג. אבל שלמים וכן רבים סוברים דאם נהרג ולא עבר צדקה תחשב לו. ונראה שמפרשים יעבור ואל יהרג הרשות בידו לעבור כדי שלא יהרג. וכתב בנימוקי יוסף דאפילו לפי סברת רבינו אם הוא אדם גדול וחסיד ירא שמים ורואה שהדור פרוץ בכך רשאי לקדש את השם ולמסור עצמו אפילו על מצוה קלה כדי שיראו העם ולמדו ליראה את השם ולאהבו בכל לבם:

      משנה למלך הלכות יסודי התורה פרק ה הלכה ד

      [ד] כל מי שנאמר בו יעבור ואל יהרג ונהרג ולא עבר ה"ז מתחייב בנפשו. (א"ה זו היא שיטתו של הר"מ אבל שלמים וכן רבים ס"ל דרשאי להחמיר על עצמו וזה הוא דעת התוספות פרק אין מעמידין דף כ"ז ד"ה יכול.
      עבודת המלך הלכות יסודי התורה פרק ה הלכה ד

      [ד] כל מי שנאמר בו יעבור ואל יהרג ונהרג ולא עבר הרי זה מתחייב בנפשו. עי' מה שכתבתי בה"א, והנה בדין זה נחלקו רבותינו הראשונים ז"ל על רבנו, וס"ל דרשאי להחמיר על עצמו אף שאינו מחויב ע"פ דין, כיון דאיכא כאן לתא דקידוש השם, וראיותיהם מהא דאמרו ריש פי"ט דשבת כל מצוה שמסרו נפשם וכו' ומעובדא דאלישע בעל כנפים ור' עקיבא ור' יהודה בן בתירה כל הרוגי מלכות שמסרו נפשם על מצות פרטיות, וכן הביאו מהא דאמרו במדרש שוחר טוב מה המכות האלה בין ידיך ואמר אשר הוכיתי בית מאהבי המכות האלה גרמו לי ליאהב לאבי שבשמים וכו' מה לך יוצא לישרף על שאכלתי את המצה, מה לך יוצא ליהרג על שמלתי את בני וכו', וכל זה מפרש רבנו דבשעת השמד היה, או בפרהסיא כדי להעביר על דת, ובאמת ראיתם מהא דאמרו מה לך יוצא לישרף וכו' לא זכיתי להבין כלל, דהתם על כלל ישראל קאי שהם יוצאים למות בשביל שאכלו מצה ובשביל שמלים את בניהם והעכו"ם עשו בהם נקמות על אשר קימו בני ישראל את מצות ה' כידוע.
      והנה התוס' והרא"ש ז"ל בעבודה זרה כ"ז הביאו ראיה מעובדא דר' אבא בר זמינא בירושלמי דשביעית שם דאמר ליה עכו"ם לאכול נבילה ולא אכל ומסר נפשו על זה, הרי דרשאי להחמיר על עצמו, והרמב"ן ז"ל הוכיח להיפך מן הירושלמי הזה דהא מסיק שם א"ר מונא אלו הוי שמע ר' אבא מיליהון דרבנן הוי אכיל (עי' במלחמות פ' בן סורר ומורה, והפר"ח לא ראה דברי הרמב"ן אלו) ובאמת ראית הראשונים ז"ל תמוה מאד אם לא דנימא דלא היתה להם כן הגרסא בירושלמי, ובגליון הירושלמי שלי כתבתי דנראה דרבותינו ז"ל מפרשים דברי ר' מונא כך, דהא באמת לפי העובדא שם, אלו היה ר' אבא אוכל היה באמת נהרג ע"י העכו"ם שהרי אמר לו אח"כ אלו אכלת הוינא קטיל לך, ונמצא שר' אבא הרויח והציל את נפשו על ידי זה שלא אכל, וא"ר מונא דאלו הוי שמע למיליהון דרבנן, כלומר אלו היה ר' אבא ציית לדברי חכמים והי' עושה ע"פ דין מבלי להחמיר על עצמו והיה אוכל ואז הרי היה נהרג ע"י העכו"ם, וא"כ הרי שפיר הוכיחו מזה דרשאי להחמיר על עצמו ואמרו לי שכבר הרגיש בזה חכם אחד, אבל אם אפשר לישב דברי רבותינו הראשונים ז"ל הנה בודאי אין מזה תפיסה על דעת רבנו, דפשטות הירושלמי מורה כן דאסור להחמיר וכדעת רבנו וכן מוכח מדברי השאלתות והבה"ג דס"ל הכי ונעתיק לקמן.
      והנה דעת הנמוק"י הביאו בכ"מ דרבנו מודה דחסידים וגדולי הדור רשאים להחמיר על עצמם ואין זה במשמע לדעת רבנו, שהרי מנה את ר' עקיבא וחביריו בדין מי שנאמר בו יהרג ואל יעבור.

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    6. חשוקי חמד גיטין דף סד עמוד ב

      האם מותר ליהרג כדי לא לעבור על איסור דרבנן בשעת השמד
      שאלה. בשעת השמד האם מותר להסתכן ולעבור על איסור דרבנן, או שמא כיון שאינן משלש עבירות שבתורה, אסור להסתכן עבור זה?
      תשובה. נחלקו הראשונים אם במצות שהדין הוא יעבור ואל יהרג, אם מותר להחמיר על עצמו, שדעת הרמב"ם (פ"ה מהלכות יסודי התורה ה"ד) שכל מי שנאמר בו יעבור ואל יהרג, ונהרג ולא עבר, הרי זה מתחייב בנפשו. אולם דעת הרא"ש והר"ן שרשאי להחמיר על עצמו, וכן פסק השו"ע (יו"ד סימן קנז ס"א) ויעוין בש"ך (סק"א) מה שכתב בזה. ובכסף משנה הביא שכתב הנימוקי יוסף דאפילו לפי סברת הרמב"ם אם הוא אדם גדול וחסיד ירא שמים, ורואה שהדור פרוץ בכך, רשאי לקדש את השם ולמסור עצמו אפילו על מצוה קלה, כדי שיראו העם וילמדו ליראה את השם ולאהבו בכל לבם.
      והנה לגבי איסור דרבנן כתב היעב"ץ בספרו בירת מגדל עוז (אוצר הטוב אבן בוחן אות לד) שמי שירצה להחמיר על עצמו אפילו בסכנת נפש רשאי, שחמורים דברי סופרים מדברי תורה, שכל העובר אפילו על דבר קל מדבריהם חייב מיתה. אולם בשו"ת מהרי"ל דיסקין (קונטרס אחרון סימן קמד) נסתפק בזה, שאולי לא העמידו חז"ל דבריהם במקום סכנה, כמו בכבוד הבריות.
      והנה אמרינן בעירובין (דף כא ע"ב) שרבי עקיבא היה חבוש בבית האסורין, ומסר עצמו על מצות נטילת ידים. והנה מצות נטילת ידים הוה איסור דרבנן, כמבואר בפתחי תשובה (יו"ד סימן שמא סק"ד) בשם ספר חמודי דניאל דאונן אף על פי שמותר לאכול בלא ברכה, חייב בנטילת ידים, בין במים ראשונים בין באחרונים, וכן כתב בספר ברכי יוסף (אות ה) דאונן חייב בנטילת ידים, דנט"י הוי משום גזירה משום סרך תרומה, ולפ"ז דהוי גזירה דרבנן אין ספק דחייב, והביא דמהר"י אלפאנדרי נסתפק בזה.
      ולכאורה לשיטת המהרי"ל דיסקין היה אסור לרבי עקיבא למסור נפשו, שלא העמידו חז"ל דבריהם במקום סכנה. ויש ליישב על פי מה שכתב התורת חיים, דכל היכא דברי לו שיהרג אינו רשאי למסור עצמו, ושאני הכא דספקא הוה שהרי לסוף הביא לו מים, עכ"ד. הרי שכתב התורת חיים שלדברי הרא"ש מותר להסתכן כדי לא לעבור על איסור דרבנן, ואף לשיטת הרמב"ם מותר לקיים מצוה דרבנן בספק סכנה. ויעוין עוד בבן יהוידע, מה שכתב בזה, שהסכנה לא היתה מהמצוה.


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    7. Interesting. The Kessef Mishne brings the Nimukei Yosef, as saying that according to Rambam's logic it is permitted to be machmir in certain conditions. I don't quite see the logic there, but it is relief to read that the Mishneh L'Melech also doesn't see the logic behind the Nimukei Yosef, as he differs with the Kessef Mishne.

      I wonder if historically it has been common for people to be machmir? It is certainly a chiuv to escape danger if it is possible. Rambam is also lenient in the above halacha and his Iggrot, in cases where people are forced and were unable to give up their lives. They are considered as being under duress, and can return with teshuva.

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  6. > the Rabbis preferred the isolation and victim hood that had been imposed on the Jews since the Black Death

    Is that perhaps why the Jewish masses fled Judaism every chance they could since then? At what point will the religious leadership realize the rest of us don't relish a life of poverty, misery and oppression or even seen much positive in it?

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    1. It is very likely a contributing factor.
      Remember, Chazal had certain limitations to what they would impose - a) they would not impose a gzeira that the majority could not abide by; b) they would always be considerate when it came to material issues of klal Yisrael.
      Thus, the extremism which is captured in this very important post is a departure from talmudic and even geonic and Rishonic Judaism, the Sephardic Judaism which has always been involved in the modern world.

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  7. if the rabbanim want to start refusing state aid satmar style and really get spiritual, no one will stand in their way.

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  8. I hope this concept isn't taken as a reason for Jews to afflict other Jews with poverty, or to manipulate other Jews to want to be poor.

    I wonder if the theoreticians oppose finding honest work or going on food stamps, etc., because these prevent or mitigate poverty.

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  9. The rabbis of the 17th and 18th century were fully aware of this and that is why they resisted emancipation from the ghetto and equal rights.

    a true indictment of torah and rabbis - they can't handle a free society and can only flourish when they can put a gun (figurative and possibly literal) to society's head.

    if true, than it is sad.

    however i don't know how true it is. yahadut is flourishing in the west. yes it took a couple of generations for the european rabbis to "get america" and to learn how to function there. but they did it.

    perhaps we simply don't handle change well.

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  10. Eddie makes a good point in highlighting just how non-traditional this viewpoint is.

    "There is no question that spirituality is greater when Jews are in an environment of anti-Semitism and are poor and unemployed and therefore Torah is their only option for activity."

    That is certainly questionable. The Golden Age of Spain would disprove the point. So would the relative tolerance of Bavel during Talmudic times as compared to Palestine.

    "The rabbis of the 17th and 18th century were fully aware of this and that is why they resisted emancipation from the ghetto and equal rights."

    Not really accurate. I think you meant to write "the rabbis OF EASTERN EUROPE... That position does not represent the totality of the Jewish experience and thus, should not be considered the "Jewish" approach to the issue.

    "In general the Rabbis preferred the isolation and victim hood that had been imposed on the Jews since the Black Death in the 1300's rather than the freedom and opportunities that existed before this."

    Certain Rabbis may have preferred that. They were not acting in accordance with the traditional Torah view of poverty and suffering. Rather, they were responding to an inability to deal with the challenges presented by the alternative. What we know now is how wrong that approach can be.

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    1. The basis for our yeshivos goes back to Eastern Europe - not Spain or Bavel. Hirsch is a minority view that the time from 1300 - 1800 was an abberation.

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    2. Whilst I am (obviously) on the other end of the spectrum to the E. European view, still thanks to DT for pointing out that r Hirsch was a minority , and not as some try to deny and rewrite his view.

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    3. What about the entire Middle East or the the Spanish and Portuguese communities in Holland? Your post did not state the position as one limited to Eastern Europe which gave rise to the yeshiva movement. It represented the position as one of rabbinic consensus. Eastern Europe, though growing in population was the aberration.

      Once again, the statement "The rabbis of the 17th and 18th century were fully aware of this and that is why they resisted emancipation from the ghetto and equal rights." is simply untrue. The rabbis in Holland, Germany, England, Italy, not to mention, Israel, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq etc. experienced life differently and can not be included in this statement. If you just rephrase your argument to state "The Eastern European rabbis of the 17th and 18th century..." it would be more accurate.

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    4. the whole post is simply a distortion of yahadut, the frum version of wanting berlin over jerusalem. what is important is the yeshivot, zeh hu.

      in this sense, it wouldn't matter if there is a draft or if the government were to adapt the idea proposed by MKs mitzna, michaeli, and others (no draft, just allow any chareidi guy who wants to work to do so). both get the boys out of yeshivot and are therefore bad.

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    5. JamesJune 5, 2013 at 3:04 AM

      What about the entire Middle East or the the Spanish and Portuguese communities in Holland? Your post did not state the position as one limited to Eastern Europe which gave rise to the yeshiva movement. It represented the position as one of rabbinic consensus. Eastern Europe, though growing in population was the aberration.
      ==============
      Considering that the emancipation, haskala and reform did not occur in these other countries - I am not sure on what basis you conclude that the Rabbis there would have responded differently?

      Jews living in Muslim countries can not be emancipated by definition since the only solution of being a non-Moslem i.e. a second class citizen is to convert

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    6. jews living in certain muslim countries faced less discrimination than their european counterparts. don't get hung up on the dhimmi stuff.

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    7. you are ignoring the issue of why there was no emancipation or haskala or reform in Moslem countries. A condescending dimismal of the critical issue by saying "don't get hung up on the dhimmi stuff" is not acceptable.

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    8. statements like jews in muslim countries can't be emancipated is painting a huge brush which ignores how good many jews had it there and how free they were. yes you're getting hung up on the dhimmi word.

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    9. Muslim countries had similar struggles as they do today, e.g a King who is open minded, is overthrown by a fanatical Cleric. Each time this would happen, the Jewish community would suffer, until the next King comes along and gives them more freedom. In the relatively good times, there was quite a bit of emancipation, Jews would work for the King, learn professions etc.

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    10. Emancipation generally is referring to the struggle to obtain equal legal rights or status. The fact that the general condition of Jews in Muslim countries - is not what I am talking about. That condition was not enshrined in law but was dependent on the good graces of the rulers. By definition Jews can not be emancipated in Muslim countries. I don't know why you consider that a trivial point. So Eddie I disagree with your use of emancipation. Conditions and opportunites might have improved at times- but the Jews were not emancipated. Those improvements could and were removed at the whim of the rulers

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    11. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emancipation

      Emancipation is any of various efforts to procuring political rights or equality, often for a specifically disenfranchised group, or more generally in discussion of such matters. Emancipation stems from ēx manus capere ('take out the hand'). Among others, Karl Marx discussed political emancipation in his 1844 essay "On the Jewish Question", although often in addition to (or in contrast with) the term human emancipation. Marx's views of political emancipation in this work were summarized by one writer as entailing "equal status of individual citizens in relation to the state, equality before the law, regardless of religion, property, or other “private” characteristics of individual people."[1]

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    12. Technically, you may be right, and the term Emancipation in its European context does mean this. However, Iran is a good example - under Nader Shah in the 19th Century, Jews were given many rights, and were used as an economic stimulus to boost the economy. When he was overthrown, the Jews inmy community were under shmad, ie converted to Islam (Morranoes). Again, when the first Shah of the Pahlavi dynasty came to power, Jews were "emancipated" or given rights of freedom to practice religion. Eventually they enjoyed all civil rights, including vote, property ownership etc. Then in the 1979 Islamic revolution, the whole cycle started again, except that Jews were not converted, but were oppressed, until very recently.
      I am happy to discard the term emancipation. It is also important to note that not all arab/Islamic countries are always under Islamic rule. Turkey and Iran were secular at some points, Azerbaijan also.

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    13. @Daas Torah: You write: "The basis for our yeshivos goes back to Eastern Europe - not Spain or Bavel. Hirsch is a minority view that the time from 1300 - 1800 was an abberation."

      It may be true that Rav Hirsch was a minority view if you look at Europe in its entirety, but he was the majority view for Torah in a modern society that only existed in Germany at the time. That is my point, Rav Hirsch may have adopted the same position as the Briker Rav if the conditions were those of Brisk, but they were not then in Germany and they are not today either!

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    14. R S R Hirsch was not the majority view for Torah in Germany as can be seen the Wurtzberger Rav's treatment of him. There was also Rav Hildesheimer. Even in his community of Frankfurt his views seem to have been disregarded by the majority.

      As far as I can find out - Rav Hirsch is the only one who publicly welcomed the modern world and encouraged participation it while believing that Torah was the supreme authority.

      It is highly unlikely that he would have adopted the approach of Brisk - there is absolutely no evidence that he felt his views were only relevant for a particular society at a particular time in history.

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    15. Your post was not just about political emancipation in Eastern Europe. It was about poverty and oppression and freedom and wealth. On those matters, Eastern Europe was an aberration. Besides the Middle East, you have ignored Italy, Holland, the Balkans and England.

      Besides, Modernity in all its manifestations did get to Muslim lands. Read Yaron Harel's Syrian Jewry in transition.

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    16. I think you missed my point. I am nor saying that Rav Hirsch's views were a Horaas Shaah, quite the opposite (see Eis Livnos from Rav Breuer ZT"L)... what I am saying is that the concept of TIDE requires our interoperability with the society that we find ourselves (Derech Eretz). The "Derech Eretz" that existed in Germany in the 1800's was different than the "Derech Eretz" that existed in Brisk, hence a different way to deal with the society. So too, the Derech Eretz that exists today in Eretz Yisrael and in America is vastly different from what existed in Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, and yes, even Germany in the 18th and 19th centuries, and thus needs to interact differently.

      As to your first point, the Wurtzberger Rav may have been the "Posek HaDor" in Germany, but was by no means the majority Hashkafa nor the leading Rav. In fact one of the primary challenges that Rav Hirsch leveled against him was that he had no right to Pasken where Rav Hisch himself had already done so... see Collected Writings. To say that "Even in his community of Frankfurt his views seem to have been disregarded by the majority" is a complete distortion of history and blatantly false! It is true that the majority did not follow his Psak regarding Austritt, but there were many personal and social issues that were behind this, not as you suggest that he was disregarded by the majority... it is simply not true.

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  11. Here's the bigger question: If Judaism as we practice is can only flourish in poverty, oppression and avoidance of the outside world, if it can only flourish because its adherents are trapped under the combined thumb of the nassssssssty goyim outside and the rabbonim inside and forced to be good Jews by those circumstances, well is that the life for us God wanted when He gave us the Torah at Sinai?

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  12. Doesn't the history on this matter go back much further than Europe? During the times of the neve'im, the Bnai Yisrael often strayed when they were relatively comfortable and autonomous for long periods of time (and were no longer under the guidance/rule of a strong and righteous leader), but than when they were conquered, occupied and oppressed, they did teshuva and returned to Hashem.

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  13. Recipients and PublicityJune 5, 2013 at 8:08 AM

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    RESPONSE:


    While Rabbi Eidensohn conveyed some GENERALITIES about how Judaism does or does not flourish when there is persecution against it, it does not entirely speak for my post at "' Thank you ' Yair Lapid and Yesh Atid !: You Have Paradoxically United the Charedi Torah World Like Never Before In Recent Memory !" (June 3, 2013) and certainly the comments to date that have followed do not speak for what the post takes for granted as the given situation.

    This is not a "black and white" situation. There are many shades of grey and many colors at work here!

    Expert historians know that "history tends to repeat itself, BUT never exactly"! There can be no doubt that the old world of the gentiles is gone. In it's place we live in the world of Liberty, Democracy and Freedom of all sorts.

    Those forces have also allowed Charedi Judaism to flourish most notably after World War Two in America -- a country of GENTILES who do not interfere when branches of Orthodoxy and Charedi Judaism grew and continue to boom. Israel is a different setting, it's a democratic country of JEWS, majority SECULAR, where Orthodoxy and Charedi Judaism have also flourished. Neither in America nor in Israel, where Charedi life has flourished have Charedim faced the type of persecutions they faced in Europe or elsewhere and they are not facing that now either because so far it is a WAR OF IDEAS, manifested by a war or words and a series of POLITICAL and ECONOMIC choices in America and Israel and with more direct economic and MILITARY choices in Israel, although that was also once an issue in America during the Vietnam War when Charedim fled to yeshivas rather than enlist in the army.

    Much as the war in Vietnam PARADOXICALLY entrenched and strengthened the Charedi yeshiva lifestyle, likewise, the wars by the Arabs against Israel, and the threat of conscription, pushes Charedim into yeshivas. In Israel Charedim face greater ECONOMIC sanctions because they cannot go to work unless they get permission from the army that will free them from army service.

    These scenarios did not exist in Europe. Even the case of forced conscription into the Czars' army is different because it was an anti-democratic era, while today both America and Israel are DEMOCRACIES and essentially respect the rights of religious minorities.

    The notion of Charedim going into or being in "ghettos" today is also a non-starter because it is a given that Charedim are part of modern humankind and live in a world that is in the 21st century."

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  14. Recipients and PublicityJune 5, 2013 at 8:10 AM

    2 of 2:

    RESPONSE:

    "' Thank you ' Yair Lapid and Yesh Atid !: You Have Paradoxically United the Charedi Torah World Like Never Before In Recent Memory !" (June 3, 2013)

    The core question is the FREEDOM to choose which environment to live in. Charedim want to choose to live in a Charedi community to preserve their Torah lifestyle and the Torah itself. That is not as shallow pop culture and silly fanatical left-wingers portray it as a "return to the ghetto" which is utter nonsense because most Charedim are as savvy about most features of modern life as the rest of the world.

    All Charedim live in a modern world, they enjoy its conveniences and many are part of the political systems in America and Israel. But they have the DEMOCRATIC right to choose to be different and follow their own way of life, as any minority does in a true democarcy. They also have the right to resist the attempts at assimilating them and acculturating them and re-educating them which they see is what Yair Lapid and Yesh Atid want to do to them.

    Not just that, but now that Yair Lapid and Yesh Atid become vocal and push their agenda, it only automatically triggers the response that is known as "every action, begats a counter-reaction" and that is precisely what is happening now as Yair Lapid and Yesh Atid's actions "begat" the counter reactions of the Charedim who hunker down and focus on their core mission of Torah and mitzvos and strengthening their way of life and way of thinking and way of being Charedi Jews in the MODERN WORLD.

    The Charedim certainly do not want or do not wish to go back to the times of either Czarist Russia or G-d forbid to the ways of Boshevik Russia, where the Revolutionaries (mostly Jews!) showed their true colors when they forcibly turned ("shmadd") a whole generation of Charedi (type) Jews into atheists and Communists -- while today's MODERN Charedim have no intention of walking down those paths ever again, either in America or in Israel.

    So far, the Charedim are the ones growing in size and the secular Jews are the ones who are panicking, so it's pretty obvious on who's side history (HKB"H) is on.

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    1. Recipients and PublicityJune 5, 2013 at 10:17 AM

      1 of 2:

      FURTHER CLARIFICATION:

      One more very important difference between the last 50 years and what was before then in both Israel and America.

      In America: From the "melting pot" to the "cultural rainbow":

      Prior to World War Two the order of the day in America was known as "the melting pot" whereby all new immigrants were expected to become one homogenous new nation, mainly via the free EDUCATION in the PUBLIC SCHOOLS that served as the tools for assimilating millions of Jewish children while the afternoon Talmud Torahs attached to synagogues were viewed as a joke and became dismal failures.

      The aforementioned was mainly for whites, while American blacks faced the discrimination of SEGREGATION. This all changed after WWII when the winds of change brought demands for full CIVIL RIGHTS for Blacks that were attained from the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

      Once the Blacks, as a vocal MINORITY won those rights it opened the way and coincided with the rise of the Holocaust survivor Chasidim and Charedim that benefited from the same rights now given to all minorities. Now Chasidim and Charedim in America were not obligated to assimilate into the American "melting pot" it was now perfectly kosher and culturally politically correct to respect the rights of all minorities and Chasidim and Charedim did so with full benefit to their growth and rise.

      Blacks said "Black in beautiful" and demanded that history be re-written with "social studies" as the new American core curriculum. Charedim surfed this wave to their own advantage with their own version of the cry "black is beautiful" and took advantage of their right to have their own ethnically guided Torah/Yeshiva education. This is still the norm in American education today. No one pays homage to the "melting pot" anymore, in a generation of ethnic pride and in the society of a "multicultural rainbow" -- one big reason America has a black president today.

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    2. "So far, the Charedim are the ones growing in size and the secular Jews are the ones who are panicking, so it's pretty obvious on who's side history (HKB"H) is on."

      HKBH must be rather flighty. First He was on the side of the Communists who destroyed Judaism in Russia(millions of frum people became non-frum), then on the side of Reform in America (overwhelming majority of millions of frum immigrants 100 years ago turned non-frum), then on the side of Nazis (half of the 6000000 Jews they killed were frum), then on the side of Israeli seculars, and finally, at long last, he's with us. I'd be a bit concerned about having such of fair-weather ally.

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    3. Recipients and PublicityJune 5, 2013 at 10:27 AM

      2 of 2:

      FURTHER CLARIFICATION:

      One more very important difference between the last 50 years and what was before then in both Israel and America.

      In Israel: From Ashkenazi-European dominance to the rise of Sefardi power:

      The earliest pioneers of modern Israel came from Europe. The disciples of the Vilna Gaon, of the Baal Shem Tov of the Chasam Sofer came from Eastern Europe starting about 300 years ago. Then came waves of Eastern European Chalutzim and Holocaust survivors. The main Yishuv was dominated first by Ashkenazi religious then secular Olim.

      The Holocaust reinforced the position of the Ashkenazi leadership that was dominated by the Socialist Mapai and Mapam parties under the leadership of David Ben Gurion who had mainly a "bolshevist" outlook and forced a one-size-fits-all model on all newcomers using EDUCATION of the mamlachti (government) schools and by the forced socializing of adults in the army.

      That period was officially ended when the Sefardim arrived and grew in huge enough numbers in the era around the 1950s, and after years of supporting Menachem Begin and his Cherut party who was out of power for 30 years, the old socialists were finally defeated POLITICALLY in 1977 Israeli legislative election, 1977 (the Mapai crowd had been in power for 30 years since 1947 and controlled the old establishment before then too.)

      That was a big turning point because Begin was also ALWAYS a friend of the Charedim as well (he, and his friend Yitzchak Shamir leader of Lechi, hid disguised as Charedi "rabbis" when he was leading the Irgun in their fight against the British) and so the Charedim found a new friend and new influence with Begin.

      This was consolidated by Begin's next triumph in the 1981 Israeli legislative elections where Begin got the key swing vote support of the 4 members of Agudat Yisrael to give him A MAJORITY OF ONE in the Knesset.

      Thus the Sefardim who were the perennial outsiders and second class citizens of Israel relative to the Ashkenazim (they even went so far as to have their own "black panthers"), together with the Charedim of Agudat Yisrael came to even greater power and influence.

      There was much political see-sawing and power-sharing jockying back and forth afterwards, but essentially since the 1977-1981 period, the hegemony of the old SOCIALIST secular Ashkenazi elites was broken once and for all and a new reality dawned that Sefardim and Charedim were now IMPORTANT KEY PARTNERS and in growth mode and could sense that the scales of society were tipping their way, or at least the ground was being evened out.

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    4. Recipients and PublicityJune 5, 2013 at 10:28 AM

      CONCLUSION:

      FURTHER CLARIFICATION:

      One more very important difference between the last 50 years and what was before then in both Israel and America.

      From 1981 onwards one or some or all of the three Charedi parties: Agudat Yisrael, Shas, Degel HaTorah were integral parts of those coalitions headed by either Begin, Shamir, Sharon, and Netanyahu. Charedim even sat in the governments of Peres and Rabin (they were more right-wing socialists).

      From the time the Sefardi Charedi Shas party was created, it grew to become a dominant political force, and alongside that were the ones who quietly gaining more representation the Charedi Asheknzi parties of Agudat Yisrael and Degel HaTorah (combined at points as Yahadut HaTorah United Torah Judaism (UTJ).

      What Yair Lapid and Yesh represent is an attempt to turn back the clock and the wheels of time, to go back to a time when the secular Ashkenazi power elites in Israel, in the media, academia, the security services in the business world see the writing on the wall and want to reassert themselves at all costs: They RIGHTLY fear a tide of Charedim with masses of both Sefardi and Ashkenazi Charedim combined washing away everything the chilonim (secular Israelis) hold dear.

      Yair Lapid is on record and voices this openly, that he often cannot believe what type of Israel he and his friends are now in and that they must "do something" or else the kind of Israel they know, of the kind created by Ben Gurion and the old time secular Ashkenazim will turn into a Charedi state of Eretz Yisrael that lives by the Torah and Mitzvot of the Halacha guided by genuine Torah sages.

      That is why they are panicking and doing all they can to stop it. But they are too late, because the Charedi train has long ago pulled out of the station and it is steaming along at full speed and cannot be stopped at this point.

      Charedi Sefardim and Ashknazim are having huge families and that cannot be stopped with any amount of inducements, threats or promises.

      The Charedim are being guided by a different light (it's of Hashem) and will not take the false bait that Yair Lapid and Yesh Atid are trying to feed them.

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    5. Recipients and PublicityJune 5, 2013 at 12:48 PM

      "Mikey said... HKBH must be rather flighty. First He was on the side of the Communists who destroyed Judaism in Russia(millions of frum people became non-frum), then on the side of Reform in America (overwhelming majority of millions of frum immigrants 100 years ago turned non-frum), then on the side of Nazis (half of the 6000000 Jews they killed were frum), then on the side of Israeli seculars, and finally, at long last, he's with us. I'd be a bit concerned about having such of fair-weather ally."

      There is actually no need for anyone to reply to an obviously empty sacrilegious and brainless comment. But had you phrased it differently, you do have a good question and you are not the first to ask it. All you need to is to open the Chumash and see how Hashem treats the generation of Noach that rebelled against Him. Then take a look at what happened to Sodom and Gemara in the times of Avraham.

      Then see what the Nevi'im prophesy in the Tanach as to what will happen to the Ten Tribes in the rebellious Northern Kingdom of Israel, and then to the punishments and exile of the Southern Kingdom of Judea.

      Next open your eyes and read in various Jewish sources what happened to the Jewish People under Persia, Greece, Rome. Especially the destruction of the Second Temple and the death of millions of Jews at that time under the hands of the Crusades and Christian Inquisitions. The causes and reasons are given. Because they worshiped idols, murdered each other, and were sexually immoral, for that HKB"H destroyed the First Temple. And because there was Sinas Chinam - causeless hatred (the opposite of ahavas Yisrael) HKB"H saw fit to destroy the Second Temple. Then all the massacres and pogroms and the Holocaust are all explained by great sages as written in the Torah and predicted by the Nevi'im.

      We even have a special fast day Tisha Be'Av to mourn for all these tragedies.

      According to Rav Avigdor Miller z"l the Holocaust happened because Jews ran after all the false ideologies and "isms" like Liberalism, Socialism, Communism, Nationalism, Zionism, Bundism, and yes some even followed Fascism. The end was that HKB"H punished them all. Even the good had to die with evil ones to atone for everyone. Tzadik mechaper al hador -- the righteous atones for the entire generation!

      If I were Yair Lapid and Yesh Atid, I would be very worried as to what HKB"H would do with me and what vengeance He may wreak on the Jewish People CH"V if the dangerous agenda comes to pass.

      Bottom line, according to the Kabbalists all this death, killing and dieing is to be blamed on Eve, and then Adam, who DISOBEYED HKB"H and ate from the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil" because HKB"H explicitly warned here that "on the day you eat from it, you shall surely die" and sure enough soon afterwards their son Cain murdered Abel. And so death was brought into the world and every single instance of death is directly from that act of Eve who ate the "forbidden fruit" because Eve and then Adam ate from the Tree of Good Evil.

      What Charedim, all Torah true Jews, are trying to do is to "eat" and practice the Torah which is called "The Tree of Life" -- it was also in the Garden of Eden but it's only reserved for the righteous who merit it -- and yet HKB"H in his mercy has left an escape hatch for ALL Jews to get to the Tree of Life, by attaching themselves to the "daled amos shel halacha" and maybe if you hold tight and not talk like a jerk you will merit that unique LIFE, since the Torah and HKB"H state: CHOOSE LIFE and NOT "Choose Yair Lapid & Yesh Atid" who are just "false gods" in this regard and will not be able to harm HKB"H's grand design for His Chosen People to Bring the True Mashiach, may it come true in our days soon, Amen!

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    6. If I were Yair Lapid and Yesh Atid, I would be very worried as to what HKB"H would do with me

      you realize that the above is nonsensical?

      According to Rav Avigdor Miller z"l the Holocaust happened because . . .

      WADR to the rabbi, he didn't know.

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    7. > According to Rav Avigdor Miller z"l the Holocaust happened

      My father, who went through that horrible time, had one response for any rabbi who tried to explain why the Holocaust happened: Please go and explain it to the Satan during your long upcoming stay in Gehinnom.

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    8. "All Charedim live in a modern world, they enjoy its conveniences and many are part of the political systems in America and Israel. But they have the DEMOCRATIC right to choose to be different and follow their own way of life, as any minority does in a true democarcy. They also have the right to resist the attempts at assimilating them and acculturating them and re-educating them which they see is what Yair Lapid and Yesh Atid want to do to them."

      Yes they have the democratic right to live any way they wish, they also have the right to resist attempts to assimilate them... nobody would argue with that... not even Lapid. But they DON'T HAVE THE RIGHT, to live as they wish and then turn around and say the Government (ie: everyone else) should support them financially because of their decisions. They don't have the right to live the way they want and come to Lakewood, Brooklyn, Monsey, 5 Towns etc. and act as if the rest of the world that does not make the decisions they make has a responsibility to support them. They don't have the right to live as they want and have everyone else protect them while they chose not to contribute in any way to the physical protection of the country. That is the point that you seem to miss!

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    9. We should try to draw some, maybe fragmentary, meaning or lesson from this major slaughter, as we did from lesser slaughters previously. What I find distasteful is when Jews try to pin it on other Jews outside their own circle.

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    10. Yes they have the democratic right to live any way they wish, they also have the right to resist attempts to assimilate them... nobody would argue with that... not even Lapid. But they DON'T HAVE THE RIGHT, to live as they wish and then turn around and say the Government (ie: everyone else) should support them financially because of their decisions.

      That was Naftali Bennenet's belief. That was the legislation he was trying to push through that would take away econimic subsidies for Avreichim that didn't serve.

      Yair Lapid is going to imprison the Satmarnics and other anti-zionist chareidim that have never taken a dime of governmental funds...

      This is no longer about economics this is about out and out coercion.

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    11. If Yair Lapid does imprison Satmrnics - which he won't - but llet's say he does; if he also imprisons the North Tel aviv secular-nics who also evade conscription, then you have 2 problems:

      1) It is not anti-haredi or anti religious coercion,

      2) You might claim it is anti-semitic, since all Jews are being coerced. OK, but then you ahve to fight equally to save the secularnics who are imprisoned.

      The fact is, Lapid will not get his ideas passed. And it is no different from giving parking tickets to people who vioalte teh secular parking laws, and it can happen to Satmar, Mizrachi, Sephardi, secular, etc.

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    12. Well, the satmarer have a choice to escape draft, by not taking israeli citizenship...

      But it is a well establishec custom that a country is allowed to draft citizens to military service, whether they take benefits or not... Otherwise, all the rich people all over the world would be exempted from the draft.

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  15. @Mikey - "I'd be a bit concerned about having such of fair-weather ally."

    Actually your concern is not justified. I think you could say that the Creator has been pretty consistent with the teachings of the Navi in various places, ie that the Jews in Eretz Yisrael would somehow survive.

    "for on Mt. Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be a deliverance as Hashem as said"
    (Joel 3:5)

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  16. There is no question that spirituality is greater when Jews are in an environment of anti-Semitism and are poor and unemployed and therefore Torah is their only option for activity.

    maybe after reading that article on lakewood you'll do a rewrite.

    more to the point, the state of israel has enabled tens of thousands of guys to learn full time. it funds the yeshivot, gives stipends, financial support in a variety of areas (tax reductions, housing stipends, health coverage (yeah i know that they pay in, a pittance compared to what they take out) etc). the IDF provides physical security, even though these same yeshiva guys (for the most part) refuse to take part in that. there are far more yeshivot and learners here than any time in europe.

    and then you come along and say that spirituality is greater when there is poverty and antisemitism?

    so what do you want? that the state of israel should simply prohibit chareidim from working, period? that they should keep the status quo? a few anti semitic laws to "get the guys going"?

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    1. no I am not advocating introducing anti-semitic laws. I was referring to situation where they exist and the question is whether to remove them.

      Don't see any need to do a rewrite because of the article on Lakewood. When I see gedolim such as Rav Chaim Ozer or Chazon Ish or Chofetz Chaim etc being produced by Lakewood - then I'll think about it.

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    2. the lack of gedolim is an indictment on yeshivot, not democracy.

      and it would seem that you do prefer keeping the status quo than changing it to any system that allows chareidim free access to the working world (even if they wouldn't have to go to the so called treifa army).

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    3. my views are not being presented here. I am just making observations - not advocating

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  17. Recipients and PublicityJune 6, 2013 at 2:36 AM

    "Daas Torah said...Don't see any need to do a rewrite because of the article on Lakewood. When I see gedolim such as Rav Chaim Ozer or Chazon Ish or Chofetz Chaim etc being produced by Lakewood - then I'll think about it."

    And that will never happen because of "hiskatnu hadoros" (the generations have declined). But what IS happening is growth in NUMBERS. In other words it is a question of increased QUANTITY and NOT QUALITY, and it is therefore futile to "wait" for ANY modern Charedi yeshiva to "produce" Gedolim equal to the level of the previous generations' Gedolim.

    In fact "Rav Chaim Ozer or Chazon Ish or Chofetz Chaim" are Gedolim who were nurtured and were from the generation BEFORE World War Two even closer to World War ONE. Since then there have been at least two or three next generations of Gedolim of European birth who rose to greatness. Now almost all the Gedolim (except in the case of Rav Shteinman who is over 100) are all either born in America and Israel.

    Lakewood is headed by the GRANDSONS and grandsons-in-law of its founder. The Mir in Israel is headed by young people. Likewise with the Chasidic movements, they are all headed by young leaders and two (Breslov abd Lubavitch) are "headed by 'dead rebbes'". Satmar is lead by grand-nephews of the original Rebbe. In America and Israel it is the same, but at the same time, what is lacking in the quality of greatness compared to past generations, is the huge QUANTITATIVE growth in numbers. This is facilitated by a number of factors: Safety in America and Israel, excellent nutrition and modern hygiene habits; incredibly advanced medical care; easier and safer child-birthing (epidurals, modern facilities); comfortable places to live and recuperate; and homes with modern conveniences with washing machines, dryers and cheap clothing; a big family and community support system. Simply put it's a different world and Charedim are benefiting from it by having large families much easier than it was ever possible.

    Going further, it is easier to build schools, there is more money from a larger parent body, and a rich welfare state in America and Israel (both have basically good economies at this time) that HELPS people below certain income levels.

    So NUMBERS are booming, but it is mistake to expect a "Rav Chaim Ozer or Chazon Ish or Chofetz Chaim" to come out of all this anywhere any time soon because it is not going to happen. We are now the tiniest of midgets, in huge and growing numbers, sitting on the tippy-top shoulders of giants.

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    1. you aren't addressing the question of why. Saying that there is a declinein the generations is a general description - not an explanation. Or are you saying that the primary focus is in fact numbers?

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    2. Recipients and PublicityJune 6, 2013 at 11:14 AM

      1 of 3:

      "Daas Torah said...you aren't addressing the question of why."

      RaP: Your original observation that the main Lakewood yeshiva -- or Bais Medrash Govoha (BMG) -- (there are other new yeshiva there now that have nothing to do with BMG by the way), that "When I see gedolim such as Rav Chaim Ozer or Chazon Ish or Chofetz Chaim etc being produced by Lakewood" also equally applies to all the other famous yeshivas in the world today. Brisk, or Mir, or Ponevezh, or Chevron or any other place are NOT producing Gedolim on the level of "Rav Chaim Ozer or Chazon Ish or Chofetz Chaim" !

      How could they?

      The Torah that existed in pre-Holocaust Europe, and those type of people were made of entirely different material. In Europe the basic model of all the Litvish yeshivas was based on the original Volozhin Yeshiva model that yeshivos were only for the elite metzuyonim and illuim. After World War Two, especially when the yeshivas were being pioneered in America and later in Israel the doors were flung open to ANY and all talmidim who wished to come and learn there as long as they had a basic ability to navigate a daf of Gemora, while in pre-WWII Europe.

      This approach was carried over to Israel by American-trained and influenced roshei yeshiva and you can see it at work at the Mirrer Yeshiva in Yerushalyim where thousands of bochurim come to learn and are admitted. There is no emphasis on looking for excellence, only the desire to cover ground. As a parallel analogy, in pre-World War One Europe frum girls were not educated in schools because the homes educated them, but then the rabbonim saw the need to set up bais yaakovs for them, then subsequently every single girl had to get educated at a bais yaakov that were not schools for the elite but schools to educate the future GENERATIONS of frum. women to be bnos Yisroel. Thus in modern times it became a numbers game for both both boys and girls, men and women.

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    3. Recipients and PublicityJune 6, 2013 at 11:15 AM

      2 of 3:

      "Daas Torah said...Saying that there is a decline in the generations is a general description - not an explanation."

      RaP: Yes, in the Normative Domain, DESCRIPTION PRECEDES EXPLANATION as well-trained academics would know. One cannot "explain" anything until it is first described correctly and accurately.

      So now if one wants to move on to explanation, it is not that hard if you look at the trends and forces that the Torah world was up against in Europe and certainly in America where the pressures to drop the Torah way of life, never-mind sitting in yeshivas, was a life and death struggle prior to World War Two.

      Prior to the Holocaust it seemed that Orthodox Judaism was dead, even Modern Orthodoxy was struggling. Then the Holocaust itself killed off European Jewry with the cream of European Torah Jewry in particular.

      The MIRACULOUSLY remaining best Gedolim and communities that could be described as "Charedi" today were just very, very few in number. Only a tiny remnant of real Gedolim survived and after the Holocaust they pulled together some survivors and some people who had escaped to America or Palestine before WWI and started to rebuild, just like Rebbi Yocahanan Ben Zakkai did after the destruction of the Second Bais Hamikdosh 2000 years ago.

      It is a very spoiled and skewered view to think that the Charedi world that exists today was always around for the last 60 years because IT WAS NOT since after the Holocaust there were very, very, very Chasidic and Charedi Jews, let alone leaders, around.

      Just a few roshei yeshiva and some rare rebbes that made it trying to REBUILD -- and the way they rebuilt was by becoming de facto EGALITARIAN in admission policies, and no more were yeshivas for the elite but they were open to anyone who wanted to come and learn in them and it is that approach that still is the underlying way that yeshivas function.

      They DO NOT have a goal of creating the next "Rav Chaim Ozer or Chazon Ish or Chofetz Chaim" although that is what they try to say to MOTIVATE their students, like a "positive reinforcement". And amazingly that approach has worked and is still working, with other factors, like open democratic societies helping.

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    4. Recipients and PublicityJune 6, 2013 at 11:19 AM

      3 of 3:

      "Daas Torah said...Or are you saying that the primary focus is in fact numbers?"

      RaP: Yes I am, and at this point it should be obvious. For example, it is only a numbers game in the eyes of Chasidim who think nothing of having large families of 10, 12, 14 children or more and just living with the phenomenon that one or two will go off the derech.

      It is a brutal approach of MASS PRODUCTION.

      There is a true story I heard from a very reliable source about Rav Aron Kotler z"l himself, that one day a parent came to him at BMG in Lakewood and told him that his (the parent's) son is going "meshuga" from his learning at Lakewwood. What do you think Rav Aron told him? What a rachmonus? Take him to a doctor? Send him on vacation? No, Rav Aron Kotler said that learning Torah is compared to "milchamta shel Torah" (WAR of Torah) and just as in any war there are "korbanos" ("casualties") likewise in the milchamta shel Torah there are inevitable korbanos.

      From this you see that the whole scenario is viewed as "war" and wars are based on armies and a numbers game, the one with the greater numbers stands a better chance of surviving and winning.

      Bottom line, many rabbonim have remarked that Yiddishkeit follows the patterns of its surrounding nations and societies. The mark of modern times and of America is MASS PRODUCTION, and this approach is no different to the way the Torah world functions TODAY. In fact when BMG-Lakewood opens an out-of-town Kollel, they send a group of about ten scholars because there are no "giants" among them, just ten outstanding scholars creates a situation as if a greater whole was there.

      Additionally by the way, just from the leadership of BMG-Lakewood (as at all yeshivas) you see the principle of "hiskatnu hadoros" at work: You had the super-great Rav Aron Kotler z"l who founded a tiny yeshiva with at most a few dozen original students in the 1940s and 1950s that was founded with the help of students that other roshei yeshiva sent him as well. Then after he passed away his son, the notable but not equal to his father Rav Schneur Kotler z"l took over in the 1960s and 1970s and the yeshiva grew as hundreds more joined hitting the thousand mark as the post-Holocaust Charedi populations started to grow. Then after he passed away his son Rav Malkiel Kotler with the help of some brothers in law took over and the place attracted thousands new talmidim from the 1980s till today. In fact people go to Lakewood to learn and not to look for a teacher. They are not interested in "shiurim"! One can only become great by doing shimush and learning from other Gedolim and there are NO GEDOLIM (compared to "Rav Chaim Ozer or Chazon Ish or Chofetz Chaim") IN LAKEWOOD or anywhere in the world that can be compared in any way to what "Rav Chaim Ozer or Chazon Ish or Chofetz Chaim" were, so therefore it is IMPOSSIBLE to expect that there will come any types of Rav Chaim Ozer or Chazon Ish or Chofetz Chaim anytime soon. The Torah that is taking place now is based on BEKIUS rather than attaining the Gadlus you are referring to.

      You may as well expect and ask why the yeshivas today are not producing Rishonim and Achronim and Amoraim. Because those are just eras that are gone forever never to come back. We are just pygmies who know lots of Gemora and meforshim sitting on the shoulders of giants.

      It is all a numbers game now and that is what frightens people like Yair Lapid and Yesh Atid. The secular Jews could live with a few token Gedolim in far-off ivory towers (that is why they want to diabolically limit yeshiva attendance to a "1,800 of the best" in Israel), but they CANNOT live with hundreds of thousands and then millions of Charedim overtaking Israel and the Jewish world like a swarming invading army.

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    5. Recipients and PublicityJune 6, 2013 at 11:52 AM

      Corrections:

      In 2 of 3: "in the Normative Domain, DESCRIPTION PRECEDES EXPLANATION" should say "in the EMPIRICAL DOMAIN..."

      In 1 of 3 the sentence "while in pre-WWII Europe." should end with "while in pre-WWII Europe the elite were recruited to the main yeshivas while Torah education for the masses took place at home, in shulls and chedorim and privately."

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  18. @daas torah
    What a shocking view about the torah. Your view is the negation of "derachea darkei noam". You seem to believe that: The tora's ways are coercion and misery.

    What a sorry picture you have of your religion!

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    1. Remark another characteristic comment. I am trying to discuss what is and you are ignoring historical realilty and just saying "what a sorry picture".

      When trying to understand something you need to first collect facts - not offer moral judgment which prevent you from considering options. Instead of noting whether my observation is correct - you simply say it is disgusting. Not very helpful.

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    2. I don't think that what you say is based on facts. It's based on "intuitions", "impressions", but no hard, sociological studies.

      If at least you interpreted it like this: Galut is a punishment, so misery is our fate in galut... And as soon as meshiach zidkenu will come and bring us back to our land, we will flourish again while learning torah...

      but no... You sing the praise of misery, because you think it makes it easier for rabbonim to keep their flock together!

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  19. i wonder if back in say 1630, people looked around and said, "wow, there ain't no one around like the beit yosef or the rama. something must have broken down". or is this type of talk simply a modern day whine?

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