Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Demanding Diros as Dowries - Condemning a Common Practice

Guest Post by Rabbi Yosef HaLevi Soloveichik

Based on his D'var Torah (below) Rabbi Soloveichik has penned the following words - which I now present in full. - HM

It is unfortunate that the Yeshiva world has taken the shortcomings and faults of the political, social and economic ideology of both the left and the right.

On one hand, they promote the self-aggrandizement of wealthy people within the Torah community. Their motto and their message is עשר בשביל שתתעשר. But they fail to understand that this refers to a high level of a חוט של חסד and not to the accumulation of power and prestige within the community. Wealth for the purpose of accumulating power and for the purpose of self-aggrandizement is מסיטרא דנחש and is the מידה of the לוטאים.

The Roshei Yeshiva of the Torah world are responsible and are guilty for the enormous עוולה that is constantly being perpetrated by בחורי ישיבה against the girls in the Torah community whose parents cannot provide money to buy an apartment. We condemn the בחורי ישיבה who demand that the parents of a girl provide them with an apartment as מושחתים.

And we stand and accuse the Roshei Yeshiva of guilt by silence and complicity in this עוולה that leaves many girls ר"ל unmarried. Fifty Roshei Yeshiva in Eretz Yisrael recently gathered together to discuss this problem. It is unfortunate that not only did they not do anything, but they didn’t even issue a statement about it. They only said that a committee should be set up to study the issue. If these fifty Roshei Yeshiva would have issued a clear and unequivocal statement condemning the בחורי ישיבה who behave this way as ,מושחתיםthey would immediately have solved the problem.

A central reason why the Roshei Yeshiva do not do anything to rectify the situation is because this would interfere directly with the interests of the wealthy people in the community. An important incentive for wealthy people to support mosdos torah is that their daughters receive priority in shidduchim and marriage because their fathers can agree to provide סידור מלא for them.

This focus and preoccupation with wealth in the yeshiva world is not a manifestation of the high level of a חוט של חסד that the איש החסד is endowed with. But it is more an obsession with wealth in the pursuit of power, prestige and glory. It is the middah of לוט. It is מסיטרא דנחש.

We condemn the בחורי ישיבה who behave in this way as מושחתים. And we stand and accuse the Roshei Yeshiva of guilt by silence and complicity in this עוולה that leaves many girls ר"ל unmarried.

Why do the Roshei Yeshiva pretentiously conceal their complicity and their silent collusion in this unethical, immoral and tyrannical behavior of בחורי ישיבה? Is this not עושה מעשה זמרי ומבקש שכר כפנחס?!

On the other hand, the Yeshiva world has also adopted the shortcoming and fault of the political left in trampling upon individuality and חירות הנפש. We are not referring to opposition to a lowering of standards in Torah and Kedusha. We are referring to suppressing and smothering the yearning of an individual to higher levels of הבנת התורה and טהרת הנפש.

If a person has a higher level of הבנת התורה and creativity in תורה than others have, he is immediately ostracized within the Yeshiva environment. And if a person has a longing for a higher level of צדק ויושר which will jolt and threaten the feelings of moral and spiritual complacency of others, he is immediately branded and stigmatized as being strange and מוזר because he does not conform to the lower uniform standard prevalent in the Yeshiva environment.

But the reality is that when people who feel threatened by someone ostracize him by labeling him as an aberration, these people are the אנשים המוזרים ביותר. They are the strangest people around. They squash, smother and obliterate the individualistic and idealistic search for צדק ויושר because they are attempting to conceal their own shortcomings. They are the deviation. They are the אנשים המוזרים ביותר.

They are reminiscent of the secular Zionists on the kibbutzim, who deliberately separated the children from their parents, in order to nuture and promote the uniformity of their strange utopian world. The yeshivishe today have also created a bizarre yeshiva-utopian world of bland conformity and featureless and faceless uniformity in which the basic aspiration is to conform and to be uniform, להיות כמו כולם.

We long for the unrestricted and unhampered individualism to learn and to disseminate the uniqueness and distinctiveness of the mesorah of Torah to our children at a more intense level of עומק and עיון. We long for the חרות הנפש to give expression to the more sublime feelings of צדק and יושר that radiate from a נשמה טהורה. We yearn for the freedom to protest the עוולות that are perpetrated by yeshiva bochrim against helpless girls because of a quest for self-aggrandizement by wealthy bulldozers in the community.

We yearn for the liberty to protest all of the disingenuousness, political iniquity and financial corruption perpetrated by politicians who, in their unending quest for power, constantly raise their chareidi flag that they are שלוחי מרנן ורבנן. And we long for the day that the accumulation of wealth in the community will not be for the purpose of control and self-aggrandizement by certain disingenuous rabbanim and roshei yeshiva and their wealthy bulldozer buddies, but will rather be a manifestation of the exalted חוט של חסד with which HaShem endows the איש החסד.

Our basic aspiration should be for יראת שמים, צדק ויושר.

משוך חסדך ליודעיך וצדקתך לישרי לב.

Chodesh tov u’mevorach,
Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh