Sunday, October 10, 2010


"Take pity on your children's souls, and do not allow this veiled deception, claiming the message is intended for the chareidi public, to deceive you and ensnare your souls in these matters, which are detached from the path of Torah and are liable choliloh to destroy efforts invested into teaching children to earnestly aspire to greatness in Torah and avodas Hashem, based on a pure hashkofoh and obeisance to gedolei haTorah."

What deception is this referring to? The idea that one can be a Ben Torah and still learn a trade or profession and then provide for his family.

If anyone has any doubt about the mindset of much of the Charedi world in Israel the above excerpt from the Dei’ah veDibur should completely erase it. This website promotes itself as the legitimate voice of the Charedi worldview. It is the above singular and narrow Hashkafa that it constantly espouses – often saying – as it did in this article – that it has been asked to express the views of ‘Gedolei Yisroel’in saying these kinds of things. And therefore the only legitimate view of Torah.

Most people who read this blog regularly know that I do not buy that at all. Unfortunately there are apparently many Charedim that do and this publication constantly and stridently reinforces that point of view – a view that the vast majority of Charedim – especially in Israel - have been indoctrinated to believe.

What’s wrong with the above excerpt? It not only promotes its narrow view of Torah Judaism it completely de-legitimizes even the slightest departure from it. And there has been a departure from it recently. Most notably some Charedi publications have taken a slightly different approach to leaving the walls of the Beis HaMedrash to seek careers outside of it.

This is a good thing. Not enough yet to change the paradigm, but definitely a step in the right direction.

Not however according to a group of Charedi principals who have signed a letter condemning it - a group that Dei’ah veDibur says represents the only legitimate viewpoint of the Torah – even calling them Gedolei Yisroel. If one wants to know the names of these ‘Gedolim’ the names are listed at the end of their article.

If what is written in the Yated reflects the essence of Charedi Hashkafos… if this is how they believe the Jewish people are supposed to live their lives, even as so many responsible and sensible Charedim are finally trying to better their lives of their families then I have to question how they can justify the massive poverty that continuing along this path has caused …that will no doubt increase exponentially over time. How can the rabbinic leaders whose Hashkafos are beinbg espoused in this edition of the Yated live with themselves?

What is so maddening about this is the insinuation by these rabbis that anyone who veers off of their script is diverging ‘sharply from the opinions of leading Rabbonim’ and at worst comparable to the worst elements in Judaism – those whose purpose is to destroy Torah.

The attitude attributed to these publications is one of nefariously and often surreptitiously undermining the authentic Torah Hashkafa here is one example of that:

"Among them are writers who claim the mantle of rabbonim, but they try to chill the admiration of chachomim. They thrust out their hooves claiming they are kosher, while clearly this alternative is not even a lesser evil.

"These trends show us over and over again that these weeklies scheme to implant deeply flawed messages, thereby seeking to create a generation of `new chareidim,' Rachmono litzlan."

God protect us. That’s what Rachmono Litzlan means. This is usually reserved as a reference to being protected from massive [physical or spiritual disasters in an almost existential way. This is what they think of a religious Jew who chooses to work for a living is?! A disaster for Judaism?!

And as always the name of Rav Elyashiv was brought up to add gravitas to this point of view. He is quoted as supporting this initiative against these Charedi periodicals:

Following the recent editions of the various weeklies, HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv shlita said this writing is very serious and threatens to undermine fundamental principles of chareidi, and said that Yated Ne'eman must react to and protest the trend.

You know what? I don’t believe it. Yes, I’m sure that he subscribes to the current Charedi paradigm of choosing to learn full time for as long as possible as one’s first choice. But I do not believe he has read a single page of magazines like Mishpacha. I believe that at age 100 he has been once again deceived by the distorted spin of those who approached him on this issue. They have agenda of their own.

Those who signed the letter are Nogeah B’Davar - partisan to the issue and have much to lose by a decline in enrollment in their schools – schools that do not teach a word of Limudei Chol. Perhaps they see the handwriting on the wall and are simply trying to protect their own Parnasos. I’m sure that they believe in their cause. But it cannot be said that they are impartial.

Nor is Dei’ah veDibur free of its own bias here. Clearly magazines like Mishpacha are winning the circulation wars with newspapers like the Yated. Dei’ah VeDibur is a thinly veiled Internet version of it and share the same editor.

It is clear as the sun to me and to an increasing number of Charedim that changes to the system of education are necessary. And it is indeed happening albeit at a pace that is not fast enough to help most Charedim that continue to live in poverty and continues to add to its ranks. But I do think the pendulum is beginning to swing back. That is a good thing.

No one, least of all me – wants to destroy the great Yeshivos of the world. What is needed is not that but an attitude adjustment among their Roshei Yeshiva that will recognize that sitting in learning is not for everyone. And that perhaps an American style Charedi educational system that teaches both Limudei Kodesh and Limudei Chol that has been all but condemned should be revisited as a possible alternative for many of their young people.

The weight of history is on the right side of this issue. The great Yeshivos of the past were never intended for the masses. They were intended for elite students and it was only the best and brightest with great potential in Torah learning that were recruited and accepted. The rest of the Torah world worked and supported their families – and those Yeshivos. That is the direction we should be going in – back to the future.