Thursday, August 16, 2018

guest post DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY What is 'Mishpacha' is Doing to Yours?



Mishpacha Magazine revealed the depth of its soul this week.

No, not by printing an envelope pushing article which legitimized attitudes that until yesterday were intuitively understood by every cheder yingel to have no place in our framework and hashkafa. That's the run of the mill mezzanine level of its soul; par for the course. Just Mishpacha being Mishpacha, you might say. After all, for what does the publication exist if not to help "Chareidi society come into its own" {their words) by broadening our scope culturally?
And so we've long since come to recognize {and, sadly, accept) the standard procedure: Push just a weensy bit past the normative limits of hashkafic acceptability. Wait for feedback. Print letter from Bora Park housewife decrying your indiscretion in exposing us to this horrible idea, alongside one from a Tzfas "mashpia" applauding your courage for finally airing this very important issue {or vice versa), so that all possible viewpoints can be properly validated. Now you see sheifeleh, did that really hurt as much as you thought it would? Ok, next level. Repeat steps one through four.
In this way we've been trained to think it somehow a good idea to raise our children to view the frum community through the prism of substance abuse, marital strife, emotional instability, and the myriad other issues-that-for-far-too-long-have-been-swept-under-the-carpet. {Remember when the first work of this genre was being serialized - I think it was called Hearts of Gold or something like that - and we all wondered what on earth was going on? My, weren't we quaint back then). And we've dutifully learned to make room in our weltanschauung for some old style feminism, new style Zionism, and a general enlightened atmosphere of openness and acceptance of all. The most freakish of "entertainers" are no longer fringe oddballs, but rather mainstream representatives of our culture. Successful entrepreneurs are no longer just Yidden looking to earn an honest living, but rather icons to be featured, so our chidren can read wistfully about their accomplishments in the same way that we used to read about Tzaddikim and anshei maiseh. Broaden their horizons, my boy. Through careful priming, enthusiastic articles on such things as the "Chareidi modern arts festival" {no kidding) were able to go down without so much as a burp.
So why was this time in particular so revealing? Well, it began with a slight miscalculation. It's almost sad to watch an old master get a little rusty- in this business hairsbreadth precision is everything. The editors apparently assessed that we were ready for vegan ism, and they missed it by that much. Should've started us off slow - maybe along the lines of an interview with some Rebbitzin who wrote a book about how now, b'yimos hamashiach, love and harmony between all the different levels of creatures is paramount. Probably could've worked us up to vegan tolerance in two or three small steps, but instead they pushed the whole thing out at once and there was communal indigestion.
That in itself is nothing terrible - heaven knows they've gotten through far worse. The scandal, goes the adage, is not in the crime but in the cover up. And it was in responding to the barrage of criticism that the publication inadvertently gave us a glimpse into the deepest depths of how they view the world of ideas.
In light of the backlash, the editors took on themselves to explain to us what it is that's really got our goat. Let not yourself be fooled into thinking that your discomfort comes from any sort of objective Yiddisheh worldview. It's not the age old Torah hashkafa of a natural world created with a function and purpose - i.e. as a necessary accessory for Man in his existential quest for elevation -that's got you ticking. It's not the rejection of three thousand years of mesorah and values in favor of the latest uppity fad. Rather, they tell us, it's merely American cultural associations of veganism with far left PETA loonies that caused the kickback.
You see, in the Mishpacha universe there is no such thing as an intrinsically acceptable or unacceptable Jewish ideal. All that we've been raised to view positively or negatively, to aspire to or to be repulsed by, to accept or to reject, are simply the result of subjective societal conditioning. As the gatekeepers of public discourse the editors see it as their role - nay, their duty - to open us up to an as broad and inclusive range of options as possible. And if something rubs you funny about these sophisticated new ideas, fret not. That's not your Bubbeh's Yiddisheh sensitivities nagging at you; it's probably your American political affiliation. Just lie down for a few moments and it'll pass.
אחי וריעי when are we going to wake up and say that this is not ok? When are we going to understand that it's not enough to just roll our eyes and say, "Wow this paper is really a piece of work"; that if I realize it's off and you realize it's off, then this is not what we should be allowing to direct the conversation for our community? Oh yes, we are strong and firm and won't fall for their most extreme ideas. But don't we realize that every time they move the goal posts, the fifty yard line shifts right along with it? Can't we recognize that while we had our backs turned, feeling all noble in our 'moderation' for not tossing the thing in the incinerator ten years ago, our attitudes and ideals, our instincts and perceptions, have been subtly changing? And can't we open our eyes to the fact that it's not stopping? Today we cheerfully imbibe things that a decade ago would have caused convulsions. Is our current value system so immune from undergoing similar transformation? Won't we continue to devolve, as the community activists in search of a cause's desperate need for continued relevance (and basic need for filler material) leads them ever further afield in pursuit of fresh perspectives?
Are we still so shallow as to snort, "C'mon, you think my kid's gonna go off the derech just from reading a story about how regular looking kollel guy was really behind closed doors a gambling addicted abusive husband and father?" No, nobody ever went off the derech from reading one story. But when someone spends his or her adolescence ingesting a weekly diet of how fake, dark, and ugly things are in our community, then the idealism and excitement for Yiddishkeit that we so fervently wish to impart inevitably lose their luster. (That this observation should be anything less than blindingly obvious to anybody is a testament to the awesome power of a generation's worth of social engineering.)
We devote fortunes of money, endless hours of time, and rivers of emotion toward our children growing up to act, think, and feel like Yidden. Are we to gamble it all in exchange for some graphic arts, play on words headlines, and pseudoprofound 'forums' ("Where the conversation happens", they so humbly label it)?
It's Elul. It's a new school year. It's a short phone call. 718-686-9339. "Hello, I'd like to cancel my subscription, effective immediately. Thank you and have a wonderful day." Let's recall control of our hashkafa and standards from the caretakers who have long since proven themselves unworthy of our trust. Not only for ourselves individually, but also for our community as a whole, let's rebuild the breached walls. We've given up far more than this for our ideals; we can kick our intellectual junk food dependency. השם   למעןlet's call it quits.
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  1. I agree with this.

    The problem is, there's not much of an alternative.
    Ami is worse than Mishpacha!
    The Jewish Press is a has-been that has it's Maury-Klassy issues for many years running.
    The Hamodia - is all about making a buck and will promote it's Ger politics and pleanty of left-leaning. Although Heshel is an ehrliche writer.
    The Yated - which was the best of the bunch and still has a couple of ehrilche writers - has turned into a feminist propoganda machine in many ways.

    Kidlingo seems to be great for kids, at this point.

    So, do we have an alternative? Even if we get people to donate and create a solid publication, within 10-15 years it'll end up like the others.

    But, this article needs to be seen. Very valid points!

  2. Readers digest

  3. This is a very eloquent and very well written article. Just one small point if I may.

    The writer of this article didn't learn to write this way in a chassidishe yeshiva. There is a lot of secular background here.

    But apparently the writer took a bite from the apple and then having been nourished and having garnered some sophistication from the tree of knowledge (eitz hadaas), had gained the wisdom to consequently discard the apple. All this while the rest of us who tasted only from the tree of life, having learned in chassidishe yeshivos etc, don't realize what we're being fed.

    The writer of the article, however, sees himself as an exception to the rule, as a person of higher moral awareness and caution, in that he was able to grow from reading between the lines of the most dangerous writings. Most people, by his assessment, would not be so wise. Ma Doch when all they learned was the pure Yiddishkeit, they blindly and unwttingly fall into the trap, a vadeh in a vadeh if they would have the background of this writer.

    This is not to say that I disagree with the writer. It's just some food for thought.

  4. The hamodia and yated aren't trying to be "sexy" (im sorry for the term, but that's what this is). they aren't trying to outdo each other with the newest fad. And you're right, Ami is worse.

    I only allow Bina in my house, and although it's gotten worse over the years, it's still the best of the bunch.

    The writer is spot on.

    Good luck

  5. Great comment, @Honesty

    I very muchmuch a with your points about the "Jewish Press" (which Rav Yaakov zt'l quipped shouldn't be taken out of a bathroom), Mishpacha and AMI.

    In my opinion, I've felt that Hamodia is the best of the poor choices available. Surely better than Yated. I never saw much of a German agenda in the US Hamodia. (I know the Israeli Yated and Hamodia are completely different animals.)

    Can you elaborate on what left-leaning you've seen in Hamodia? I've noticed that more in Yated. One thing about Yated that rankles is its editors self-serving weekly article and personal self-promotion.

    How does CB Weinfeld promote a feminist agenda in the Yated?

    You are correct that there are no good choices (that I know of.)

  6. Reader's Digest used to be good a long time ago. In the last couple decades they've often gone off the left cliff.

  7. One must sadly laugh when reading the page from Mishpacha Magazine photographed in this article. Specifically about their "Rabbinical Board". Who is this anonymous "Rabbinical Board" and since when is a "Rabbinical Board" designed to be anonymous? Do they actually expect credibility?

  8. How do you know that he has a secular backround or that he attended secular institutions? I did not make that observation while reading this.

  9. 6 years ago when the world was saying tehillim for rav alyashuv ztl , who forbad mishpacha magizine, one of their senior writers refused to join in and started a conversation... אכמל...

  10. The vocabulary, the sophisticated presentation and the command over the English language gives it away.

    I didn't say he necessarily studied in a university. He may not even have gone to high school. But at some point, somehow, he picked up these enhancements from secular sources.

  11. This article is not a referendum about secular education in Chasidic Yeshivos. That's up in a different article. This article is about the values that this publication is advancing and sneaking into homes. They are chasing the values and mores of the hedonistic and godless Western society. They are doing this all while misrepresenting it as the Torah's position, when it is in fact contrary to the Torah's position.

    This that we deserve to be made aware of. This is a wrong that we must protect ourselves from.

    It's been a long since I've made it clear to my children Mishpacha Junior and Aim are simply for entertainment. They may have been written by Jews, but they are what they write is often the opposite of what they learn - and therefore the opposite of what Hashem wants from us and the opposite of what is true. With this approach I'm able to tolerate this stuff. They are no worse than the NY Post.


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