Friday, November 25, 2011

Are Rabbinic Leaders Dropping the Ball?

Once again Rabbi Berel Wein has hit the proverbial nail on its head. He has just written an essay encompassing many of the things I deal with here and has virtually the same attitude about them. In short he sees the problems embedded in the Torah world and blames the religious leadership for it. Or rather the lack of it.

From the Jerusalem Post:

While there are many rabbinic pronouncements on the minutiae of Jewish law, customs and observance there is very little that is said and heard about the major problems that face the Jewish world – the security of the Jewish state, the dire financial situation that threatens the entire system of Jewish education, the astounding rate of poverty and unemployment (voluntary and involuntary) in religious Jewish society, children at risk because of one-size-fits-all educational institutions, growing rates of divorce and family dysfunction, an unhealthy and misogynic system of dating and marriage, growing anti-Semitism and a seemingly unstoppable rate of assimilation, secularization and intermarriage that guarantees a shrinking Jewish population in a few generations.

Had I said this I would it would be called ‘Gadol bashing’. But it isn’t when I say it and it isn’t when Rabbi Wein says it. It is merely looking at reality and telling it like it is. Until we recognize as a people that we have problems and pinpoint sources of those problems we cannot even begin to attempt a solution.

Rabbi Wein is so on target that his words needs to be read in their entirety. I have in fact said many of the same things in the past and I’m not going to repeat them here. If you want to know my attitude - read his essay.

What makes this especially important is that it is not coming from a modern Orthodox perspective. Near as I can tell – and I do not know him personally – Rabbi Wein would not want to peg himself as either Charedi or Modern Orthodox. (If I had to peg him I would call him a cross between a moderate Charedi and Right Wing Modern Orthodox.) But even though he may not call himself Charedi, he gets a lot of respect from the right. He also gets a lot of respect from me and - I’m sure - a lot of other Centrists.

Will Charedim agree with him on this issue? If Cross-Currents is any indication – they do! Although Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein may also be unpeggable - as a Musmach of Yeshivas Chafetz Chaim - and by the way he writes - I would tend to see him as a moderate Charedi. He has published his approbation of this essay right on that Charedi website.

Finally! ...there are responsible people who are respectful of the current rabbinic leadership - standing up and realizing that things are not as they should be... that the rabbinic leaders that so many people look up to - are dropping the ball.

Wiil that spur some change? Will the rabbinic leadership of an Agudah Moetzes (for example) take seriously the words of Rabbi Wein? Only time will tell.