Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Lakewood Hashkafos

This news coming out of Lakewood once again illustrates one of the many problems of the Charedi world of which Lakewood Yeshiva is it's flagship institution. It isn’t so much what they are doing in this one particular case. It is the mindset that causes this kind of “solution” to begin with that is the problem. This is the kind of thinking that our finest B’nei Torah are being subjected to. And this indoctrination will take root and be transmitted to later generations along with… who knows what else and treated as Halacha L’Moshe MiSinai: Immutable Siniatic law.

The potential for perpetuating this kind of thinking to masses of Torah Jews is very great. Lakewood, one should remember, is the premier Yeshiva in the Western hemisphere. It is the only Yeshiva any card carrying Ben Torah in Amercia worth his salt would even consider. If a young Ben Torah wants to get married, the “Lakewood” credential is the starting place for finding a good Shidach.

Lakewood’s administration knows this and that’s why they implemented their “freezer” policy: the six month period waiting period where their students aren’t allowed to date anyone except for daughters of the Lakewood Klei Kodesh. They probably see themselves as the true vangaurd for the Torah world. The protectors of the faith. The final word in the Torah world. That is how most of their students and supporters see them as well.

So enrollment is swelled to the max. It is by far the largest Yeshiva as well as the most prestgious. And to its credit, a lot of serious Torah learning takes place there. If there is a secular counterpart in terms of education and prestige, it would be Harvard. And that’s what makes this kind of thinking so dangerous. Add to that the almost abject fear of questioning DaasTorah (defined here as any edict coming out of Lakewood’s rabbinic administration) and you have a prescription for the kind of foolishness and danger to the fabric of Klal Yisroel that this news represents.

What should be the proper response to this kind of nonsense be? I am at a loss for words. But I do have a reaction to this by a Charedi Rav who sent me a link (above) to the post from a blog called “Lakewood Kollel Wife”, which is what generated today’s post.

The fact that there are prominent Charedi leaders who think along these lines gives me great hope for the future. Had I uttered the following, I would have of course been accused of Charedi bashing. And I’m certain that I will now be accused of it again just for posting his words. I will probably also be challenged about the veracity of my claim that it is indeed a Charedi Rav. Some will say that this Rav is not really Charedi at all, or that my definition of Charedi is wrong, or that I just made the whole thing up. Well, I can’t help what some people’s biases will force them to conclude. But the fact is that this Rav is Charedi is an indisputable fact. A prominent one. I guarantee it. You’ll just have to take me at my word.

Here is his reaction to that news:

This silliness in Lakewood encapsulates all that the once proud yeshiva movement has become. Let me count the ways:

1) Why are they so scared of their own shadows and feel that a bus driver will destroy the souls of their kids? Didn't their own Roshei Yeshiva ride with non-Jewish bus drivers? Didn't all gedolim and Chassidic rebbis hire gentile wagon drivers?

2) There seem to be serious issues about misrepresenting or misallocating public funds. Is all this above record? Is it legal to slip the drivers extra money after they are paid public funds? Isn't that cause for concern?

3) Did any of the Lakewood leaders think about the chilul Hashem this will cause when it gets out (and get out it will)?? Imagine the headlines, "Orthodox Children Fear Contamination by Gentile Bus Drivers?

4) A bus driver is an honest profession, to be sure. But are the Lakewood leaders thinking about the fact that so many of the post-kollel yungerleit are taking menial jobs? Why is a 4th generation American young man taking a job as a bus driver?

5) we find so many instances in the gemorah where our chachomim made takonos to SAVE money for individuals. Why are all the takonos coming out of Lakewood and Eretz Yisroel coming on the backs of the poor kollel familes who are bearing the brunt of these needless chumros? (burn your shaitel, don't go for a masters teaching degree, on and on). And this bus nonsense has no basis in halacha at all!!!

6) Again, today's leaders are avoiding the necessary task of looking in the mirror and blaming it all of THOSE GOYIM. It is OK to "sweep things under the rug" and not remove OUR child molesters. All we need to worry about are the goyim....

Yirmiyahu could write an entire megilas eicha on this.

Modified: 3/28/07 2:54 CDT