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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Distressing Dispatch on Kiruv

Avraham points me to an upsetting piece in Dei'ah V'Dibur, taken from a talk "given by the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Beer Yaakov about the danger of dialogue and connection with those who have cast away Torah and mitzvos."
In truth, there are some who think that we need to speak to them and discuss all these matters with them, and to see where we have a common denominator. For after all, we are brothers. They think that drawing our hearts closer together is a great mitzvah.

However, we see an amazing thing in recent years. The more the chareidim draw close to them, the more their desire to uproot religion grows. In all matters that the chareidim entered into a discussion with them, their demands only increased. On the contrary, it is precisely in those areas that they know we have no intention of compromising about and would never enter into negotiations about, that we have had siyata deShmaya to succeed.

We must remain with ours and they with theirs. There is no place for kiruv and discussion in matters of Torah and mitzvos. Our life style is not a subject that is open for discussion, argument, or compromise. Our brothers who are erring in their ways have no way to understand our path in chinuch, which is according to the Torah. What can be understood from speaking with them about this? Only a negative influence could result from this, G-d forbid.

Even in the methods of educating for proper behavior and derech eretz, one could think — incorrectly — that there is no difference between the way of Torah chinuch and the secular educational system, and in this we may discuss things with them. However, this is a bitter mistake! Our derech eretz and our culture do not come from good chinuch in these matters. Rather, everything comes from the Torah and our erring brothers have no understanding of this at all.

Now, I can fully understand the idea of feeling that not every member of the Charedi community is strong enough in their convictions to attempt dialogue with those who are non-observant. But to hold a blanket view that is completely anti-Kiruv is just so sad, in my opinion. Yes, there are anti-religious people in the world, and there is a chance that if they came into contact with a member of the community that is doubtful or wavering in their beliefs, that person could be easily convinced to "walk" from the Charedi lifestyle. But to present this as an across-the-board piece of advice to an entire community? That is just so painful to me. I have many friends that are Baalei Teshuva. They are inspired and valued members of their community. In many ways, they are more deeply and spiritually religious than many of my friends who were raised observant. Myself included.

Are we to extrapolate that they are negligible in their contributions to our community? I refuse to do so. I can understand the limits of immersing oneself in Kiruv activities. I would not be rushing, for example, to send my young teens out, alone, to parties given by their non-Orthodox counterparts with a mission of "being a light unto others". That would be hopelessly naive. But I will continue to do as I have been doing all my life, and remain involved in Kiruv to the degree that I feel comfortable. I will continue to invite non-Orthodox friends and colleagues from my office or my husband's for Shabbat meals. Nothing makes my children glow like being asked to "show the ropes" to an adult who for once, knows less about their ritual and beliefs thean they do. Every step of the Mitzvot that we perform on a Friday night such as Kiddush on the wine, Hamotzi on the Challah, and Birkat Hamazon takes on more meaning for my family as we are required to explain the basis and meaning of each throughout the meal. My children are forced to take the weekly Divrei Torah taught to them by their Rebbes and teachers in school, and translate them in a way that makes it that much less rote of a performance. And you know what? Every time I do it, every time I welcome those who are less observant than we are into our home, I feel closer to my religion. When I see a newly religious person struggling through the Birkat Hamazon with so much concentration or a person with no background in Judaism reading it in English, focusing on the meaning of the words, it just makes me say it with more concentration, and appreciate every word more than I find myself doing on a regular Shabbat meal when it's just my family, or when I host friends that have been raised Orthodox.

Kiruv is not simply something we do to help others, It is something we do for the benefit it provides to us as a family and to our spirituality.

To say, as quoted in the piece above, that from attempting to be Mekarev Rechokim, "only a negative influence could result from this" is a very narrow view, when all the positives that I outlined above are taken into account. I know that such views are popular in segments of the Charedi world. I detest them nonetheless. I consider myself blessed to have been raised in an Orthodox lifestyle. I view it as a privilege for myself and my children to share our blessings.

82 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful. Yashar Kochachem to you and your beautiful family. May you go from strength to strength and may you only get more inspiration from your wonderful acts of Kiruv.

9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is avery commonly held attitude in the chareidi world. I agree that kiruv is complicated and not for everyone. But to say that it's for no one in the chareidi world is as you say, sad.

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you are missing his point. I don't think he is talking about not being mekarev those that have some interest or are seeking to return to the path of Torah Umitzvos(t). It sounds like he is talking against the phenomena of recruitment that is happening. The Rosh Yeshiva is basically saying that we shouldn't shove it down their throats. Let them take the first step.

9:47 AM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

OM - First of all agreed on all of your points about kiruv and ba'alei tshuva.

I think, based on the excerpt you provided, that you have misunderstood the article to some extent. It seems to me that it is not addressing Kiruv at all, but rather entering into debates and discussions with the non-orthodox in order to find common ground on matters. Per the article, we should not be debating the validity of Shabbos or Kashrus with people. That does not mean that we should not try to educate willing people as to those or other mitzvos.

I know there is the sentence the that says "There is no place for Kiruv... in matters of Torah and mitzvos" - But I submit that it has to be a typo, misstatement or transcription error of some sort, because it makes no sense either on its own or in the context of the rest of the excerpt. First of all, if there is no place for kiruv in matters of torah and mitzvos, then where would there be - this is nonsensical. Secondly, other parts of the article emphasize discussion and compromise, and does not discuss being mekarev people to Orthodoxy (as opposed to being "mekarev" people to have closer relationships with them - alternate definition of kiruv {closeness}).

Of course if my interpretation is wrong, and this really is a blanket statement against engaging in kiruv, then I heartily endorse everything you said above.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree with 9:47. The work that Lubavitch does around the world is amazing. Even if they are not bringing everyone back, just the fact that they get people who barely knew they were Jewish to put on tefillin and to have some sort of connection with Judaism is so amazing...no matter how small and even if it doesn't last.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

Funny how when it comes to fundraising, the chareidi world suddenly develops a broadminded appreciation for their wayward brothers.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

"I would not be rushing, for example, to send my young teens out, alone, to parties given by their non-Orthodox counterparts"

Careful OM, with attitudes like that, seen people will be disinviting you from their BBQs. (Reference to prior thread for all those who don't get it)

;-)

9:54 AM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

anon 9:50 - I think professional kiruv is a bit different than what is being discussed in the article. Probably revolving of the concept of Da Ma Lehashiv L'Apikorus (Know how to answer an apostate) in Pirkei Avos.

But, I had a slightly different read on the article anyhow.

9:58 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Somewhat Anon:

I don't think so. The piece is quite clear. I have no reason to believe that this passage:
We must remain with ours and they with theirs. There is no place for kiruv and discussion in matters of Torah and mitzvos.
was quoted in error, and I'm not sure why you would.

And the attitude is not uncommon in some Charedi circles. I just disagree with it, and hate to see it in writing.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

Still Wonderin' - Well even if we're not going to debate the religion with them or accept their interpretation, why shouldn't we give them a chance ot participate in mitzvos tot he extent we can? (And why do you think non-orthodox donate?)

10:00 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Still Wonderin' said...

Funny how when it comes to fundraising, the chareidi world suddenly develops a broadminded appreciation for their wayward brothers.


LOL.

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you should extend an olive branch and invite some of your husbands fellow school board memebers for Shabbes dinner.

10:02 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should extend an olive branch and invite some of your husbands fellow school board memebers for Shabbes dinner.



Argh.

10:08 AM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

OM- I explained my thinking earlier, but basically saying that there is no place for kiruv in matters of torah and mitzvos is to say that there is no place for kiruv at all - and I have never heard anyone say something that extreme. In fact, my yeshivos and rabbonim have always spoken of kiruv rechokim as a great thing, and we were certainly taught the concept of "B'makom sheba'alei tshuva omdim, ain tzadikim yachol la'amod" repeatedly.

So I guess I think that the word "kiruv" is a mistake there (or that it meant to say "in kiruv there is no place for discussion (debate) of torah and mitzvos") because taking it seriously would mean a position that is very strange and that I never heard before.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

SA, maybe the reference to kiruv was toungue in cheek."

10:10 AM  
Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

With all due respect, you misread this article. It has nothing to do with kiruv rechokim. It's about strategies for maintaining a fundamentalist system intact.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"Still Wonderin' - Well even if we're not going to debate the religion with them or accept their interpretation, why shouldn't we give them a chance ot participate in mitzvos tot he extent we can? (And why do you think non-orthodox donate?)"

Wrong answer.

First of all, you don't know if I'm an 'we' or a 'them' so I wouldn't bandy that divisive mindset about so casually.

Second of all, the most enduring lesson the chareidi leadership seems to be teaching is a prfound lack of respect and hakaras Hatov. For this reason alone i would say that chareidi institutions should not be supported. They are inculcating a Wahhabi-esque interpretation of frumkeit within the next generation with a wanton disregard of where of how this short-sighted feel-good fundamentalism will play out.

I don't know much about this so-called rosh yeshiva or his so-called chareidi school. For all i know he's very much ion the fringe. But i don't view support of this type of divisive Jewry as a mitzvah at all. More like enabling a problem.

10:19 AM  
Blogger OrthoKrum said...

OM,

Before I even attempt to explain to you how wrong you are, I need to ask you one question....

Did you even read part one of this Shmuess (talk)?????

10:19 AM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

Mississippi fred - well, yes.

10:20 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

With all due respect, you misread this article. It has nothing to do with kiruv rechokim. It's about strategies for maintaining a fundamentalist system intact.



MFM, I agree that the piece is not an example of clarity in messsage, yet there is certainly much evidence in writing to show that the point is not to venture forth and mix with non-Charedim as a rule.

And if as you say, the piece is about strategy for maintaining a fundamentalist system, and that stated strategy includes rejecting Kiruv, then my point stands, whether the main point is regarding kiruv or not.

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With such a broad spectrum of Jews...what exactly do you consider Chareidi, Still Wonderin'? It seems to me that the Modern Orthodox and non-orthodox are perpetrating the same crimes they accuse the Chareidim of. No sect has much respect for any other and this is where the brunt of our problems come from.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

Right, but my point is that your values are so out of sync with this mindset that its kind of a strange critique. It's almost like saying that this rabbi leaves no room for bonding with Christ in his article. Well, no kidding!

In your Orthodoxy kiruv rechokim is a value. In his, it is as meaningless as building a relationship with Jesus.

10:26 AM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

Krum as a bagel - I really didn't intend for that to become a running theme, but whatever.
;-)

10:27 AM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

Still wondering - we is the orthodox (because I am), them is the non-orthodox. I did not put you in either category.

As for the rest of your statement - If you don't support the chareidi/orthodox point of view, then you'll obviously disagree with the article.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

MFM, you are acting as if kiruv is like women's tefila groups or something. Israeli charedim do support kiruv institutions. Ohr Someyach and Aish HaTorah are charedi.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a lovely post. Your family sounds very special.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

>MFM, you are acting as if kiruv is like women's tefila groups or something. Israeli charedim do support kiruv institutions. Ohr Someyach and Aish HaTorah are charedi.

We aren't discussing Israeli chareidim, we are discussing one man's opinion.

10:36 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...


Krum as a bagel said...

MFM, you are acting as if kiruv is like women's tefila groups or something. Israeli charedim do support kiruv institutions. Ohr Someyach and Aish HaTorah are charedi.


Exactly. However, many Charedim are content to dole that job out to a select few professionals, and not involve themselves at all in the activity of being MeKarev fellow Jews. And the point of this post is that I feel it is a great loss.

10:37 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...


We aren't discussing Israeli chareidim, we are discussing one man's opinion.


An opinion that I feel is not applicable to my family. Which again, was the point of my post.

10:38 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

OrthoKrum said...

OM,

Before I even attempt to explain to you how wrong you are, I need to ask you one question....

Did you even read part one of this Shmuess (talk)?????

10:19 AM


Yes. I think each piece stands alone, and it doesn't change my interpretation of points in the second.

10:41 AM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"With such a broad spectrum of Jews...what exactly do you consider Chareidi, Still Wonderin'? It seems to me that the Modern Orthodox and non-orthodox are perpetrating the same crimes they accuse the Chareidim of. No sect has much respect for any other and this is where the brunt of our problems come from."

I wrote "so-called chareidi" because those are the terms of the speaker. As for my viewpoint, I dislike divisiveness and those who create it for their won purposes...

...which by-the-way, dovetails nicely into the second point i wanted to make about "maintaining a fundamentalist system," which I view as institutionalizing divisiveness. Which goes back to my first and still underlying point: don't support yeshivas and rabbomin who make a living of dividing Jews.

They do no one any good and only serve their own narrow interests at everyone else's expense.

If they're so principled, then let them foot their bills-- or ask God for a handout if He's so thrilled about this mindset. Personally, I'd give it a week before these jokers change their tune.

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think part of the problem is that in order for a lay person to be involved in kiruv they have to know the extent of their knowledge and be able and willing to say they do not know something. However many chareidim think they understand it all and that is when problems arise. When the non-orthodox that they try to be "mekarev" ask questions that they cannot answer and all of a sudden the basis of their superiority is crushed and then they fall in danger of being influenced by those that they are tryingto influence.

10:47 AM  
Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

>An opinion that I feel is not applicable to my family. Which again, was the point of my post

I agree with you. It's because you share different values. For example, you are apparently not concerned with preserving an insular group through isolation.

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my 10:47 note seems a bit jumbled now that I am reading it back. Is my point coming across?

10:51 AM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

anon 10:47. you're point is absolutely BRILLIANT. It comes across loud and clear.

Evidently, kiruv causes problems because the questions asked can't possibly be answered by people who live unexamined lives. The problems these interactions must cause for the manipulators-in-chief must be overwhelming.

Better solution is to cut off all communication with the outside world. Lakewood's taking a page from Kim Jong Il's playbook.

10:58 AM  
Blogger Yitzchak Goodman said...

Lakewood's taking a page from Kim Jong Il's playbook.

What's wrong with that? Most frum communities could use a bissel might of Songun.

11:34 AM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

'Most frum communities could use a bissel might of Songun.'

I really, REALLY hope you are kidding on that one. And North Korea is nothing to kid about.

11:44 AM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

anon 10:47 - I think that this is certainly part of the issue. Kiruv is not something to be entered into lightly. That being said, I see a big difference between engaging someone in a discussion about religion, and having them over for a shabbos meal so as to expose them to proper Judaism. Of course the latter can bleed over into the former easily enough.

SW - If you ahve no respect for the chareid/ultra-orthodox lifestyle at all in the first place, it can hardly be expected that you'll be favorably inclined towards efforts to preserve it.

11:54 AM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

It all makes sense actually. Tactics to mentally abuse and oppress large populations and silence dissenters share universal themes. They include of disconnecting outside sources of information (no radio, tv, internet, kiruv, cellphone use, whatever's next), inculcating belief of group superiority starting at the youngest levels, elevating leaders to status of infallibility, repressing any opposition by labeling it evil, unholy, impure, or lunatic ranting, large scale group events that foster mass inclusion and imply exclusion and estrangement in those who don't participate, threats of banishment and expulsion to those who refuse the common order, etc.

The only difference is that so far no one gets killed, laced with drugs and placed in state mental wards, or worse.....at least not yet.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

OM - regardless of what the speaker meant (and I stand by my contention that he could not have meant what you say), I have to challenge your statement that "such views are popular in segments of the Charedi world." As someone else pointed out upthread, there are a number of prominent chareidi kiruv organizations, and in my relatively right wing (by FT/FR standards anyhow) education, I have never heard of kiruv or ba'alei teshuva being spoken of with anything other than respect and some measure of awe.

I'm not sure that (leaving out matters of interpretation) you and I have particularly different views on the basic issue here, I just don't see that the position you are attacking exists much in reality.

Would you have much of a problem with the article if my interpreatation applied? That is, if the Rabbi was cautioning against engaging in religious discussion and attempts to find common grounds of religious observance and other matters in order to have a closer relationship with the non-orthodox, outside of the kiruv context?

12:04 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"SW - If you ahve no respect for the chareid/ultra-orthodox lifestyle at all in the first place, it can hardly be expected that you'll be favorably inclined towards efforts to preserve it."

I said earlier: I have no respect or use for institutional divisiveness. If you equate chareidism with justifiable population control tactics and gratuitous hate-mongering, and you can sleep at night, then I'm sure I know who owns the problem here.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"SW - If you ahve no respect for the chareid/ultra-orthodox lifestyle at all in the first place, it can hardly be expected that you'll be favorably inclined towards efforts to preserve it."

I said earlier: I have no respect or use for institutional divisiveness. If you equate chareidism with justifiable population control tactics and gratuitous hate-mongering, and you can sleep at night, then I'm sure I know who owns the problem here.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

SW - so orthodoxy is just an effort by Rabbis to create a system to control a bunch of people? What keeps you "Still wonderin" then, why would you want any part of such a system? Is none of what your laundry list of "mental abuse and oppression" based on sound Torah concerns?

12:07 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

" I have never heard of kiruv or ba'alei teshuva being spoken of with anything other than respect and some measure of awe."

Oh yeah? Ask a Baal T'shuva who is desperate to marry off his or her frum from birth children. The only measure of awe you'll hear is "Awwwww. It's such a shame I spent a fortune on a yeshiva education and sacrificed my whole life to live as a frum Jew,,,and still, no one wants to marry my child."

12:08 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

SW - population control tactics? huh?

12:08 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"Somewhat Anonymous said...
SW - population control tactics? huh?"


see above comments.

12:11 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

SW - (Re: ba'alei tshuva) First of all, many non-BTs also are having issues in shidducim. Secondly, some people do stupid things WRT to marrying off their kids, down to tablecloths and all of that - or whether one's grandparents is from Poland or Hungary - so I'd hardly call this proof of general hostility to Ba'alei Tshuva.

12:12 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

SW - Oh, you meant control of the members of the population, not the size of the population (which is what I think when I hear "population control") - makes more sense now.

As to the substance of the charge - from a logical standpoint (although I know you don't accept the premise), if one believes, as the orthodox do, that certain behaviors are deemed proper by God and others are deemed improper (bec. he said so), does it not make sense to take steps so that people willdo the proper thing and not do the improper things? And, by extension, that those who do not act properly, and indeed deny that God said so, should be ept away. This makes sense if you believe that doing God's will trumps all else. (And yes, I know this is grounds to justify fundamentalism of all sorts, the difference here is that the underlying belief in the Torah {and in the sages} is true).

12:18 PM  
Blogger Yitzchak Goodman said...

I really, REALLY hope you are kidding on that one. And North Korea is nothing to kid about.

See my posts with the Technorati tag "Juche-coupes."

12:26 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

SA -- the problem i have is that certain people take measures to control the minds and thoughts of others. The most reliable way of doing this is to convince those who will listen that everyone else is wrong. The only problem is that if they actually sit down and talk to "everyone else," it may be discovered that said leader is full of (horsefeathers). This is the logical conclusion among the leadership of many so-called chareidi societies and the reason why their motives are suspect (READ: not l'shem shamayim but to satisfy another agenda).

The predictable route is to remove means of communicating with the outside, discouraging higher education, and permitting the overlying threat of excommunication and humiliation as punishment for refusing to go along with every new chumrah.

I do believe that torah and Yiras Shamayim trump all. i do not believe that the route too many "chareidi" societies choose to impose on themselves, at the expense of unity and Ahavas Yisroel is pious, moral, or appreciated by God.

I also believe that every measure of fundamentalism taken is proof of the pudding of their leaderships' overwhelming fear of change, of losing control, and a lack of emunah to boot.

12:41 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

As to the substance of the charge - from a logical standpoint (although I know you don't accept the premise), if one believes, as the orthodox do, that certain behaviors are deemed proper by God and others are deemed improper (bec. he said so), does it not make sense to take steps so that people willdo the proper thing and not do the improper things? And, by extension, that those who do not act properly, and indeed deny that God said so, should be ept away. This makes sense if you believe that doing God's will trumps all else.

Your logic is flawed. You argument includes the dabatable presumption that contact with less observant people will result in less observance by those they come into contact with.

12:45 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

SW - I can't do much to convince you otherwise. I will point out (more as a general note than specifically aimed at you) that the concepts/imperatives of Emunas Chachomim, Kavod HaRabbonm and Lo Sasur don't seem to hold much weight in the J-Blogosphere. That's really too bad, as it makes people very willing to ascribe all sorts of evil and bad faith motives to people who are Talmidei chachomim, or simply trying to follow their mesorah of proper halachic conduct (yes chumras get taken too far, but this goes beyond dickering over chumras).

12:49 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

krum - are people who are not shomer torah (kosher, shabbos, etc.) considered merely less observant? Regardless, I don't think its a stretch to say that when groups intermingle they will influence each other - are you actually contesting that?

12:51 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"Emunas Chachomim, Kavod HaRabbonm and Lo Sasur don't seem to hold much weight in the J-Blogosphere. That's really too bad, as it makes people very willing to ascribe all sorts of evil and bad faith motives to people who are Talmidei chachomim, or simply trying to follow their mesorah of proper halachic conduct (yes chumras get taken too far, but this goes beyond dickering over chumras)."

Now you're blaming the victims. The "chareidi" leadership structure is riddled with nepotistic installations that are more the result of group-think, ignorance, and apathy than meritocratic ascensions.

Just because the Hamodia or Yated identify someone as a gadol doesn't mean he is.

"Power corrupts" is not a convenient thing to put on a bumper sticker. It is true and it is real. The system you're foisting on me due to concepts such as Kavod Hatorah and Emunas HaRav are worthy when the individual is worthy. True leader, who know how to take decisive action when warranted and to keep quiet, are few and far between.

Those who make divisive statements and seek ways to keep rapt audiences controlled and docile, either through fear, guilt, or by exploiting forced ignorance deserve neither kavod or my deference in terms of ideas.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

I just want to clarify a sentence that has a dual meaning because of my poor editing:

"True leader, who know how to take decisive action when warranted and to keep quiet, are few and far between."

....should be:

True leaders, who know how to take decisive action when warranted and to keep quiet if they know speaking out will cause friction and hurt among Jews, or better yet, know how to say what needs to be said WITHOUT causing friction or discord, are few and far between.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

SW - We're not going to agree on this one (big surprise there). I categorically reject the premise that the rabbonim and gedolim for a large portion of othodoxy are evil manipulators who are twisting the truth of the Torah in order to maintain control (and how far back in time does this go? R'Moshe Feinstein? R' Aron Kotler? The Rabbonim of pre-war Europe? The Chafetz Chaim?- Today's leaders are a result of a mesorah, not self-proclaimed tyrants).

Oh, and I don't read Hamodia or the Yated.

1:13 PM  
Blogger Classmate-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

Just because the Hamodia or Yated identify someone as a gadol doesn't mean he is.

And conversely, just because you say someone isn't a gadol doesn't mean he isn't.

I imagine Jews were able to figure out who the gedolim were long before the invenytion of Orthodox newspapers.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

are people who are not shomer torah (kosher, shabbos, etc.) considered merely less observant?

Huh? I call them "less observant" because they, um, observe less of the Torah than I do. What would you call them? Devil spawn?

Regardless, I don't think its a stretch to say that when groups intermingle they will influence each other - are you actually contesting that?

I am actually contesting that. In fact, I mingle all day with less observant people, i mean, devil spawn, yet I manage to remain obesrvant.

1:17 PM  
Anonymous bsci said...

I think very much like still wonderin' is implying, this has little to do with them worrying that someone will become a-religous. Shabbat and kashrut and many other things stand on their own. It's when the non-religous start asking questions about why everyone dresses identically or why certain attitudes towards working or non-Jews or racial groups exist. Those are the questions anyone would have trouble answering. These are what will cause instability in the system and what the leaders really fear.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

" I categorically reject the premise that the rabbonim and gedolim for a large portion of othodoxy are evil manipulators who are twisting the truth of the Torah in order to maintain control (and how far back in time does this go? R'Moshe Feinstein? R' Aron Kotler? The Rabbonim of pre-war Europe? The Chafetz Chaim?- Today's leaders are a result of a mesorah, not self-proclaimed tyrants). "

You're creating a straw man here. I do not and never have implied that I think Orthodoxy leaders are evil and manipulative, en masse. But I believe with similar conviction that any of the gedolim mentioned in your comment would take kindly to the statements in question from the original post.

I believe that even R' Aron Kotler, who was a very fierce advocate for his beliefs, would be thoroughly appalled at some of the idiocy that passes for piety today. Especially when fueled by underlying motives such as discussed above.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

Ugh. Bad editing again:

"But I believe with similar conviction that any of the gedolim mentioned in your comment would take kindly to the statements in question from the original post."

...should be:

But I DOUBT with similar conviction that any of the gedolim mentioned in your comment would take kindly to the statements in question from the original post.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:50 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

SW - well how widespread are the "underlying motives"? I wasn't trying to create a strawman, just to elicit a limiting principle to your original statement from you. I agree that it is doubtful any of the listed Gedolim would agree that kiruv should not be done. But I don't think that anyone believes that, and think thaqt the article has been misread (See above, I don't want to get into details again).

1:55 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

"Huh? I call them "less observant" because they, um, observe less of the Torah than I do. What would you call them? Devil spawn?"

I'd describe that as non-observant, not less observant. I'd reserve the term less observant for deviations wthin the spectrum of orthodoxy. Devil spawn is a term I reserve for telemarketers.


"I am actually contesting that. In fact, I mingle all day with less observant people, i mean, devil spawn, yet I manage to remain obesrvant."

What is true for you is not necessarily true for everyone. I can't believe you don't believe that groups learn from one another - that's pretty much the entire course of human history.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

I'd describe that as non-observant, not less observant.

On what basis? If someone observes some of the laws of shabbos or kashrus, why should that level of observance be completely disregarded?

2:08 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

Krum - phrased another way, your question is really "Who qualifies as Orthodox?" I don't know where that line is, but I think that anyone clearly on the other side of it should be termed non-observant, even if they keep some mitzvos.

I also think that this is a relatively minor semantic point, so barring something unforseen, this'll be my last comment on it.

2:21 PM  
Anonymous Fox said...

The original post and most of the responses are apparently unaware of the context of this quote.

This is not a general discussion of kiruv, but is taking place in a very, very specific context and discussion among Roshei Yeshiva and other leaders within the frum world.

Rabbi Chaim Dov Keller of Telz has recently spoken about this topic, and the Yated Ne'eman has covered the story in a series of articles and op-eds.

The discussion is *not* about whether people should in general be mekarev those who are interested in becoming more observant. This has absolutely nothing to do with having an unobservant-but-interested person at your Shabbos table.

The Roshei Yeshiva and others who have commented are referring specifically to a handful of organizations that are operating without significant halachic oversight and have made a number of halachic or hashkafic "modifications" to make their message more palatable to their audience.

Rabbi Keller, whom I have heard on the topic, has quite rightly pointed out that giving in to the temptation to water down the requirements of Torah to make them more appealing has a name: Conservative Judaism. In particular, Rabbi Keller referred to some unaffiliated, far-flung community kollels that are no doubt well-intentioned, but who are not receiving the regular injections of daas Torah needed to do such work in an appropriate manner.

The quote in OM's post is very obviously the Rosh Yeshiva's contribution to the conversation, and the style of English makes it a little misleading. Basically, this is not really about us as individuals -- it's about the behavior of a few organizations.

3:06 PM  
Blogger eem said...

One fact that hasn't been spoken about here is that the mashgiach of Beer Yaakov (whose RY wrote the piece under discussion ) was R Shlomo Wolbe ztl-one of the first educators and real gedolim from this generation to say that it is the obligation of every Jew learning in kollel to devote at least one hour a week to kiruv-that is, teaching torah judaism to jews who are far from it. (Obviously also applies to frum Jews who work, the point was that those who learn all day shouldn't think that it would be bittul torah).I haven't seen the piece from R' Shapiro till now but it seems like it might have been taken out of context or misunderstood-it's possible.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

phrased another way, your question is really "Who qualifies as Orthodox?"

No. That is not my question. I don't think that Conservative Jews who observe some halacha are Orthodox. But I am unwilling to agreew with your Orwellian equation of "some" equals "none" for no other reason than the fact that the person is not a member of your denomination of Judaism.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

Fox, eem - thanks for the context, I hope this settles the matter of interpretation of the article.

3:27 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"....R Shlomo Wolbe ztl-one of the first educators and real gedolim from this generation to say that it is the obligation of every Jew learning in kollel to devote at least one hour a week to kiruv-that is, teaching torah judaism to jews who are far from it. "

I guess over time it got watered down to spending at least one hour a week thinking of ways to feel superior to Jews who are far from it.

3:29 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

Krum - I know I said I was going to drop this, but one more question out of genuine curiousity (rather than in furtherance of the debate). Are there really people who publicly don't keep shabbos but self-identify as Orthodox? Or do you mean people who don't call themselves anything (Conservative, reform or orthodox), but only keep some stuff.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

Krum - I know I said I was going to drop this, but one more question out of genuine curiousity (rather than in furtherance of the debate). Are there really people who publicly don't keep shabbos but self-identify as Orthodox? Or do you mean people who don't call themselves anything (Conservative, reform or orthodox), but only keep some stuff.

Not sure I understand what you mean. No, I don't know anyone who doesn't keep shabbos publicly but calls himself Orthodox. My point is simply that there are Conservative Jews who keep a lot of halacha and I think it is incorrect (and insulting) to call them "non-observant."

3:54 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

I guess I meant observant of proper Judaism as a whole (and as such someone who is Conservative is not) , and you mean observant of particular commandments (And so the Conservative would be) - so we're back to semantics, and I'm done.

4:10 PM  
Blogger DAG said...

Can I ask where in the Torah the system they use in Yeshivas in the 21st Century is codified?

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Fox said...

The system for what?

4:59 PM  
Anonymous mycroft said...

" R' Aron Kotler, who was a very fierce advocate for his beliefs, would be thoroughly appalled at some of the idiocy that passes for piety today."

But to some extent R. Kotler was the cause of what goes on today. Would he have been appalled?

9:40 PM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

'I think that anyone clearly on the other side of it should be termed non-observant'

If someone is shomer Shabat, and has a kosher home, I can eat there -- on Shabat or any other time. That is the halachah. In a very real sense that makes such a person part of the Orthodox community even if the person is lax on all other mitzvot.

'Are there really people who publicly don't keep shabbos but self-identify as Orthodox?'

Yes. They are the large majority of Jews in Britain. (I heard this from Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Sacks himself.) In the US such Jews go to Reform and Conservative shuls -- Orthodox shuls that try to attract them are generally considered suspect. (The term "kiruv shul" is not usually meant as a compliment.)

12:02 AM  
Blogger DAG said...

The system for Jewish ed

11:06 AM  
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