Friday, December 25, 2009

The Importance of Validation

I was made aware of a post on Divrei Chaim that wonders why everyone in the world of modern Orthodoxy, specifically those of us who tend more towards right are so giddy about the Mishpahca article. Well... I wouldn't say I'm giddy. But I am very pleased.

Here is an excerpt from Chaim's post:

OK, so you made it into the RW world, but what at what price? I recall a YU Rosh Yeshiva once say that he never saw the Rav open a secular book. Rav Shachter is quoted as saying that he never heard the Rav mention philosophy in shiur execpt once. I was never in the Rav's shiur (he was no longer saying shiur way before my time at YU), but judging his legacy from the fruit it has borne certainly leads me to think that his impact is greater than only the chiddushei Torah he left behind. What of the Talmud shiur at Stern? Religious Zionism? And that just scratches the surface. Is it worth forgetting about all that for the sake of acceptance?

The author seems to feel that this is some sort of validation process by a world that modern Orthodoxy does not need. Furthermore the world of the right has proven time and again that they reject modern Orthodoxy – right along with its leaders including the Rav. He says that the Rav should not have been whitewashed with their soap. They don't like him? It's their loss.

That's nice except for one thing. The Charedim are winning. I know that many people who share my Hashkafos vehemently disagree. But I have not heard any convincing arguments to sway me.

As a Centrist I consider myself to be mostly in the right wing of modern Orthodoxy. If they reject us - most of what we now know as modern Orthodoxy as a Hashkafa will end up in the dustbin of history. They correctly perceive themselves as a growing community and MO as a diminishing community relative to theirs. We either join them - or we are out!

Even though I wish it weren’t true - it is. I have said it before and I say it here again. I happen to agree with them on this point. Not that their world so perfect. Far from it. They have some big problems that could easily destroy their world as we know it. But whatever adjustments will be made - and they will be made - they will still retain their basic right wing Hashkafos.

I’ve made these arguments before, but they bear repeating.

They produce the lion's share of Mechanchim. It's the nature of the beast. As a group they are mostly under prepared to get any decent jobs outside of Chinuch. So a lot more of their much larger population become Mechanchim. Our population's options in Parnassa are far more diverse.

Besides all of that - there is definitely a move to the right by everyone - with the exception of the left wing of modern Orthodoxy. Many RWMO's are already sending their children to moderate Charedi day schools.

What is being taught in those moderate Charedi day schools? They are certainly not being taught that stories about how the Rav supported teaching Gemarah to young women at Stern - and gave the first shiur. Theyare instead taught that women are not allowed to learn Gemarah. They are not taught that the Rav walked out of Agudah and joined Mizrachi. They are taught that Agudah is Emes and Mizarchi is Sheker. They are not taught tha the Rav valued the study of philosophy and received a PhD in it - to become Orthodoxy's foremost philosopher. They are taught that philosophy is a forbidden subject.

They are also taught all the white-washed hagiographic bios of the right wing Gedolim; how pious they were - born Kodesh MiBeten – holy out of the womb. And they are taught how secular studies is at best a B'Dieved and should only be pursued for Parnassa purposes.

And even if the right wing Hashkafos taught there are countered successfully at home (which is often not the case) their year or two (or three ...or four) in Israel will certainly push them in the direction of the right.

Furthermore as Rabbi Berl Wein (whom I have quoted many times on this issue) has said the world of the (moderate) right and the world of (RW) modern Orthodoxy are already merging and changes in both worlds are already happening. There are an increasing number of Charedim who are going to college and professional schools and becoming professionals. There are also increasing numbers of RWMOs who wear black hats Daven in moderate right wing Shuls and interact socially with moderate Charedim. It’s almost impossible to tell them apart from each other.

All of this brings me to conclude that if we don't do everything we can to validate what we believe in - our beliefs will fall into the dustbin of history. Even if our children are taught otherwise at home - the school environment and experience is an overpowering one and will in many cases end up dominating their thinking - certainly after their time in Israel.

If we don't step up and insist that our ideas are valid - than they won't be. That's why this article in Mishpacha is such an important step. If the Rav is validated even if it is by spinning his Shitos as rightward as possible - eventually his other Shitos will validated to a certain extent be too - via the back door as they become more aware of them -even if the right doesn't agree with him.

Those who say I am over reacting and we have our own world to be proud of and our own future to look forward to – without the right wing - are seeing the world through rose colored glasses. They are simply ignoring these facts on the ground.

I’ve said this before too. There will be an independent modern Orthodoxy. But it will not be anything the RWMO will want to be a part of - certainly as the LWMO leadership keeps pushing the envelope leftward. We may be more accepting of them than our moderate Charedi new-found compatriots, but we will not be joining with them as a community. We will be (and already are) joining the moderate Charedi world.

So I will say it again. Yes, I am very pleased with the article in Mishpacha. It is - as I said before – promoting Achdus. But it is also to a certain extent about validation. Because we on the right wing of Modern Orthodoxy are joining them. They are not joining us.