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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

SIW on Noah Feldman

The thread on my Eruv post seems to have gotten hopelessly tangled with a seemingly off-topic discussion over Noah Feldman's (somewhat whiny and disingenuous) piece in the NY Times last weekend - in which Feldman doesn't address the Eruv question at all.

Steven I. Weiss, writing for the Wall Street Journal (in 2005), helps make it a bit less tangential for us in his opinion piece of a couple of a years ago, where he staked out Feldman's position on the Tenafly Eruv. Weiss did not seem moved by Feldman's arguments.

(via)

100 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that the article was whiny. Feldman seems surprised that the school that encouraged modernity in terms of education and profession drew the line at intermarriage. He knew that going in. I'm not even judging his choice to intermarry. But I come from a conservative home, and my parents would be pretty flipping out if I came home with a non-Jew. And I attended public schools. No amount of writing in the New York Times can change the fact that intermarriage is a line in the sand for most affiliated Jews.

3:07 AM  
Blogger David said...

Regarding the eruv, isn't it required to get the agreement of the secular authorities in an area before building an eruv? For instance, in Washington DC, there are proclaimations on the wall from both the US President and mayor of Washington indicating that Kesher Israel had purchased for the sum of $1, the right to carry on the Sabbath.

The town's leadership sounds awfully surprised by this - I wonder why they weren't consulted beforehand?

7:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mom, I was the original poster in the Eruv thread, which started as thge following.

"Anonymous said...
While not totally on topic, do articles like the one in this past weeks NY Times magazine help jews either??

11:45 AM"

I do not find the discussion whiny and disingenuous, but rather passionate.

8:05 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...


I do not find the discussion whiny and disingenuous, but rather passionate.



I didn't the discussion was whiny and disingenuous - I said I found the article to be such. Feldman's "surprise" at not having his non-Jewish children and non-Jewish wife listed in the Alumni review, his gratuitous throwing in of Baruch Goldstein and Yigal Amir as somehow relevant to the discussion - all of it rang as somewhat dishonest.

8:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Feldman's article seemed to me like sour grapes- the guy is a rising star in legal academia but not in his own alma mater, and he can't stand it. But while he may be a gifted legal scholar, that doesn't change the fact that somewhere along the way he left the fold of Orthodox Judaism, and therefore, to expect a Modern Orthodox institution to tout him as a successful product of their school is completely disingenuos on his part. There are many successful people in the World, but far fewer (though I think a disproportionately high number) who manage to successfully synthesize Orthodox Judaism/Torah and professional success. Feldman is the former, but Mamonides seeks to produce the latter, and that's what differentiates it and other MO Yeshivot from any regular secular prep school. I'm sure a regular prep school would be proud to call Feldman an alum, but that's not where he went, and he is too smart a guy to be truly surprised by his alma mater's reaction.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So he's not a "rising star" at his old school, but does that excuse him not being in the photograph? Tell me, did the school investigate the others who attended the reunion? Maybe Yossi is a businessman who has bilked customers out of money. Maybe Mendy often eats pork at his local TGI Fridays and spends his Friday night cavorting with prostitutes. Perhaps Yisroel has cheated on his taxes for years, and abuses his children. Do we need to find out which commandments are being disregarded before we take a picture of our yeshiva alumni? And how would we discover such a thing? There are worse crimes than intermarriage, if that is a crime against his school and the Jewish people.

11:12 AM  
Anonymous HAGTBG said...

Maybe Mendy often eats pork at his local TGI Fridays and spends his Friday night cavorting with prostitutes. Perhaps Yisroel has cheated on his taxes for years, and abuses his children.

Maybe Mendy and Yisroel in fact do these things. But 'they' had the good sense not to do these things in the school alumni photo. Noah, by contrast, wants a public display of his sin in a piece of literature of an Orthodox institution.

You act like Noah would have been satisfied had he been included but not his non-Jewish fiance (now wife).

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon @ 11:12, why should his school put hispicture into their PR literature when he represents a failure of their mission. Do you ordinarily expect companies and institutons to do that? Maimonides is a religious institution and is entitled to decide what it shows in its literature. That doesn't mean that everyone who has ever graduated from the school other than Noah has exemplified the ideals of the school, but the school has no legal or moral obligation to display its failures, which is what Feldman is.

12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What bothered me most about the Noah Feldman article (and I think someone already mentioned this briefly) was his comparison of tefillin to the cilice of "Da Vinci Code" fame. The cilice was a tool of torture and self-mutilation, while the tefillin represents how we can use our bodies for good. Unlike Christianity, Judaism does not deny that we are physical beings who have physical needs. Therefore, in Judaism, we don't feel the need to deny or torture our physical bodies. Tefillin represents that we can use our bodies for a higher good, the exact opposite of what the cilice respresents.

12:38 PM  
Anonymous HAGTBG said...

Unlike Christianity, Judaism does not deny that we are physical beings who have physical needs.

Was there an actual need to say that? I am Orthodox and single and I hate that fluff.

Overall, today Orthodox Judaism in practice is far more strict in these areas except perhaps for Muslims with their honor killings.

You could have just said the cilice is a modest torture implement and tfellin, its appearance notwithstanding, never was.

12:45 PM  
Blogger Nice Jewish Guy said...

I really don't understand why Feldman is so surprised. What did he expect?

Something hurt this guy enough to turn his back on observance, even the more moderate MO. However brilliant and learned he was, his connection to Judaism was too tenuous to keep him in the fold. And yet, like a jilted lover (l'havdil), he can't bring himself to let go; as disenfranchised with modern Orthodoxy and Judaism as he was, he still felt the need to visit the institution that planted the seeds whose roots he tore out, and to bring the instrument of that uprooting with him. What did he think was going to happen? Perhaps he brought her fully expecting the results, as some sort of masochistic social experiment, or even to gain grist for the mill on which he produced his article. Either way, Feldman seems to wear everything, his erstwhile Orthodoxy, his non-Jewish wife, and his pain of rejection proudly upon his sleeves.

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of the comments in these Feldman posts sound like the cliche of a bunch of suburban women, clucking over their laundry lines about neighborhood gossip. I don't know if I'm imagining it, but is this a chance for people to get to feel morally superior to somebody who is clearly their intellectual superior? "He thinks he's so high and mighty, but LOOK, he's a failed Jew!" I don't think for a second that anybody believes that Feldman wants to truly be a part of the group that attended his Yeshiva, as his life has taken a different turn, and I don't mean with his marriage. But it makes people feel good and superior to say that they will shut the door on him, anyway.

Say what you will, but I think that if he's reading this, he's having the last laugh.

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tefelin is all about carving canals on your arm to satisfy your rebbe, parents and co workers

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Boomer said...

Tefillin is about binding oneself to God and to one's people-past,present and future. Feldman has done the job of unbinding himself every which way. It is either in or out. No one can force him. What is so peculiar is his effort to have the tracks without doing the binding. His attack on those within the bounds is what called forth all the attention.

2:35 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

I don't think for a second that anybody believes that Feldman wants to truly be a part of the group that attended his Yeshiva, as his life has taken a different turn, and I don't mean with his marriage. But it makes people feel good and superior to say that they will shut the door on him, anyway.

How does that make much sense? Feldman is the one who wrote the piece. Either a) He cares, and clearly is missing the point; or B) He doesn't care, in which case this was simply a way of lashing out at Orthodoxy. I'm actually going with (a). The response by people all over is not "oooo, he's a failed Jew! haha, that stupid smart guy", but rather "Feldman missed the point about how Orthodoxy works." His brains are only mentioned because that's an aspect of him people will focus on, but this isn't a "brains" issue, but an understanding of Orthodox Judaism and what is and is not important.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

I keep thinking that Feldman was dishonest in spotlighting his fiance's korean background and only incidently referring to her not being Jewish. But then I read something like:
Noah, by contrast, wants a public display of his sin in a piece of literature of an Orthodox institution.

Not knowing Noah, if I saw a picture of him and his Korean fiance in a Maimonides publication, I would have assumed she was either born Jewish (maybe the granddaughter of Ruth of Ruth's kitchen?) or a convert.

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HAGTBG said...


Was there an actual need to say that? I am Orthodox and single and I hate that fluff.


I was trying to point out why the cilice and tefillin are so different, so yes, as part of that distinction, I had to discuss the differences between Christianity (or at least Christianity as interpreted by Opus Dei) and Judaism, since it was relevant to that explanation. Maybe HAGTBG should look up the dictionary definition of the word "fluff".


Overall, today Orthodox Judaism in practice is far more strict in these areas except perhaps for Muslims with their honor killings.


HAGTBG, what exactly are you talking about here? Are you saying that in some areas the Orthodox Jews are stricter than the Christians? What does that have to do with honor killings?

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Rivster said...

Though I have enjoyed reading everyone's point-of-view, no one has answered the original inquiry -- is this kind of exposure good for the Jews?

My biggest problem with Feldman's article is its placement in the secular press. The issue of intermarriage is a painful one for our community -- and should be discussed...in the community.

Just as we wouldn't air our dirty laundry in public, so too should we refrain from discussing our family problems -- and this is a family problem, is it not -- in public.

5:56 PM  
Anonymous HAGTBG said...

Anonymous,

Maybe HAGTBG should look up the dictionary definition of the word "fluff".

noun: something of little value or significance

http://www.onelook.com/?w=fluff&ls=a

That is an accurate description of what I thought of your statement.

HAGTBG, what exactly are you talking about here? Are you saying that in some areas the Orthodox Jews are stricter than the Christians? What does that have to do with honor killings?

I am not saying on 'some' matters ... I am saying on the relevant factors.

As I wrote above Orthodox Jewish practices regarding sexuality are more restrictive today then traditional Christian practices today. This is true whether one is single (hilchot negiah) or married (hilchot taharat hamishpacha).

To say that Judaism embraces human sexuality but just seeks to channel it and Chrisianity views sex as inherently of sin is the kind of stuff I was taught in yeshiva. That kind of message is at least 50 years out of date now and is simply untrue. In practice we treat the sex urge as more sinful then Christians. If you think we treat it as healthy look at the OU which has now copied evangelical Christian approaches to teen sexuality.

Moslems are stricter then us in practice as their family members kill those that violate sexuality norms.

6:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rivster: "Though I have enjoyed reading everyone's point-of-view, no one has answered the original inquiry -- is this kind of exposure good for the Jews?

My biggest problem with Feldman's article is its placement in the secular press. The issue of intermarriage is a painful one for our community -- and should be discussed...in the community.

Just as we wouldn't air our dirty laundry in public, so too should we refrain from discussing our family problems -- and this is a family problem, is it not -- in public."

Where exactly are things discussed "in the community" these days? The various factions of Judaism do not have a place to discuss "family problems," as there is no real family. There are only Orthodox Jews telling Conservative and Reform that they're not really decent Jews, and Conservative and Reform Jews telling the Orthodox that they're fanatics.

Besides, in these days of the Internet, where exactly are the private places to talk about such things?

I don't mind if the non-Jewish world sees how splintered we are. I'd rather they not think that I follow all of the extreme points of view that they might deem representative of American Jews.

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Noah was not asking the school to include his picture in "PR literature." He was expecting the school to keep his image, and that of his girlfriend, in the picture that the school photographer took on the alumni's behalf.

It is sad, but as an alumni of Maimonides, I also have to wonder if the fact that she is Asian-American made a difference in airbrushing out her face. I send my kids to an orthodox school that has Asian and Black Jews. When I went to Maimonides, ALL the students, and teachers, were caucasian.

6:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was wondering the same thing. I'm guessing if he had shown up with a white non-Jewish girlfriend, the picture would have been included. It's not as if his girlfriend wore a sign that said, "Hi, I'm a Gentile!"

6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, all of this bias and discrimination is somehow OK because of religion?

We should apply these same beliefs and practices to all aspects of society.

The klan would love it!

7:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, all of this bias and discrimination is somehow OK because of religion?


Wow, it always come down to this.

Feldman brought this up, no one else. His mental issues with his religious observecne were his topic. How does discussing it become Klanish??

7:39 PM  
Blogger Olam HaSheker said...

I wouldn't worry about this being "aired" in public. Orthodox Jews have nothing to be ashamed of and might be commended for standing ground and not selling out. I'm puzzled at why Feldman pretends he is surprised. Did he expect his relationship to be condoned? Do the marital restrictions not apply to someone who surpasses a certain IQ? He had to have expected the reaction and he should feel fortunate he wasn't completely ignored at the function. He should be treated like any other Jew who marries out and forfeits his birthright. Frankly, with all this speculating and meddling into the hows and whys of Feldman's relationship and article, I feel like an interloper. Let him enjoy the rest of his life and hope the choices he makes are best for him.

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HAGTBG said...

As I wrote above Orthodox Jewish practices regarding sexuality are more restrictive today then traditional Christian practices today. This is true whether one is single (hilchot negiah) or married (hilchot taharat hamishpacha).

It sounds like you have some issues with hilchot negiah and hilchot taharat hamishpacha. (You seem to be implying that the Christian approach to sexuality is better because it is less restrictive.)

In practice we treat the sex urge as more sinful then Christians. If you think we treat it as healthy look at the OU which has now copied evangelical Christian approaches to teen sexuality.

HAGTBG, once again you are implying that Orthodox Jews do not have a healthy view of sexuality. (BTW, you contradicted yourself with the last line of that paragraph. By saying that the OU has taken sexual restrictions a step further by following Evangelical Christians, you are also saying that the Evangelical Christians have a more repressed/restrictive attitude towards teen sexuality. You can't have it both ways.)

I truly feel bad for you, HAGTBG. You call yourself Orthodox, yet you obviously have some difficulties with the halachot that form the foundation of Orthodox family life. I hope you find some clarity before you decide to get married and start a family.

8:39 PM  
Anonymous anonymous mom said...

I think everyone overlooked something here. I have long ago become immune to indignation when one of our own "airs our dirty laundry." It happens every so often and it's not surprising that it happened in the Times. Frankly, it was really typical, liberal pat-myself-on-the-back-and-act-stupified-with-you-logic-defying-conservative-thinkers-of-all- stripes stuff. What stands out for me is the guy's pain. He actually was hurt and--clearly bitter--about his wife not being included. If he has an ax to grind--as it seems--it is as a result of pain. It reads like a misguided blind fury kind of thing. Like the scorned lover that someone above mentioned. Interesting for an intellectual. I feel sorry for him. He painted himself into a corner and he actually cares. That's unusual. I hope he and his kids, possibly his wife if she thinks it's worth it, find their way back. I'm betting on the kids. The pain usually translates into something somewhere down the line. The opposite of love is not hate, it is apathy.

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many of you are parents? The picture should be clear to those of you who are. Despite this person's obvious brilliance, he seems to desperately be seeking attention in the most negative way for Orthodoxy possible (within legal limits, as befits the perp). With the mention of his parents achievements (not sure if he wrote about it or if I read about it on Google), he may have had far less attention than he needed growing up. This intermarriage sure is an attention grabber - look at all the blogs dealing with it! Shame on all of us for feeding his need for (negative) attention. Do you think non Jewish blogs are also going on and on about it?
I feel sorry for his parents, bottom line.
SAHM in Israel where such occurances are fewer and farthur between and far less note-worthy and disturbing

9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Should read: in the most negative way possible, for Orthodoxy. Sorry, bad grammar. Oh, and Parents' achievements.
:-)

9:39 PM  
Anonymous anonymous mom said...

By the way, was that arrogant of me? To wish he or his non-Jewish family find their way to Orthodoxy? I can't help it. I feel warmth for my people and when they care enough to be so annoyed with me, I know they are still connected. And his soulmate and kids who have a piece of his soul are all intertwined now. Come one, come all.

9:43 PM  
Anonymous HAGTBG said...

Anonymous,

You made a false statement. I called you on it. Rather then admit your comment was simply wrong or defend it, you instead try to shift the debate to challenge my Orthodoxy. It is a despicable tactic and it won't work.

10:07 PM  
Anonymous anonymous mom said...

hagtbg,
More pain. Pain. Pain. Pain. Lots of pain in your comments, especially your last one. And I personally wouldn't have told you I felt sorry for you because I don't. I would have told you that you're wrong. I'm cool with our sexuality. I've been single and cool with it and married and cool with it and I'm not repressed. I'm pretty honest about stuff I find challenging about Orthodoxy. Sex isn't one of them. Now, my one testimonial may be meaningless to you, but I really do feel that you're wrong about Orthodoxy and sex. The pain thing is there, dude. Take a step back and look at it because it's clouding your logic.

10:18 PM  
Anonymous anonymous mom said...

And another thing, hagtbg, BTW, I don't like the OU stuff either, if we are talking about the same thing. Don't like the mention of shame. The experience of sexuality within Orthodoxy is healthy and respectful of women, by its laws and Hashkafa--I can't speak for how everyone interprets it.

10:24 PM  
Anonymous HAGTBG said...

I asked for no pity but that you keep your eye on the issues and not on my pants. Evidently that is beyond you.

11:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The key difference between the christian view of sex and the jewish one is that christians view sex as dirty and the best thing would be to avoid it, and judiasm views sex as holy and it is a positive commandment to marry and satisfy your wife sexually. Just as we restrict our food choices to kosher food so too our sexual choices are restricted.

11:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"David said...
Regarding the eruv, isn't it required to get the agreement of the secular authorities in an area before building an eruv? For instance, in Washington DC, there are proclaimations on the wall from both the US President and mayor of Washington indicating that Kesher Israel had purchased for the sum of $1, the right to carry on the Sabbath.

The town's leadership sounds awfully surprised by this - I wonder why they weren't consulted beforehand?"

There is no halachic requirement for a proclamation or any contract. The fact that only a dollar is given is proof that it’s symbolic.

11:40 PM  
Anonymous HAGTBG said...

The key difference between the christian view of sex and the jewish one is that christians view sex as dirty and the best thing would be to avoid it, and judiasm views sex as holy and it is a positive commandment to marry and satisfy your wife sexually.

Look ,stop this whole comparison to Christianity thing. That's what you don't get.

Either Judaism works on its own or it does not. The comparison is irrelevant.

And wrong. Again, you look to a view in Christianity that is far far in the minority today. Most Christians today do not see married sex as dirty and the more liberal you go, the less they see wrong with premarital sex. Certainly, they do not see anything wrong with hand holding.

Again, this is the kind of stuff that has not been anything more the propaganda since the 1960's.

Just as we restrict our food choices to kosher food so too our sexual choices are restricted.

Do Christians view all food as dirty to and best to avoid? Note how here you are actually only looking internally within Judaism, which is good. Notice that it does not have a ready Christian counterpart for you to bash and thus 'show' our supremacy.

As you say it too is taking a bodily urge and restricting it to channels that are marked as holy.

11:43 PM  
Anonymous anon israel mom said...

"I truly feel bad for you, HAGTBG. You call yourself Orthodox, yet you obviously have some difficulties with the halachot that form the foundation of Orthodox family life. I hope you find some clarity before you decide to get married and start a family.

8:39 PM "

Um, as a practitioner of taharat mishpacha for the last 6 years and counting, any normal human being who doesn't have issues with the laws either has a crappy marriage or isn't a normal human being.

Just because you have issues doesn't mean that you can't or won't carry our the laws to the best of your ability, if you believe in them.

That said, the laws are way too restrictive beyond their original intentions, to the extent that there are some women ( a significant enough number that this issue has gained some press see here: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1184168550169&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter )

who are suffering from infertility simply because they have to wait too long to go the mikveh. They are forced to take unnecessary medications and other possibly dangerous treatments when all the problem is is that they ovulate too soon.

The original commandment for niddah is to wait for the 5 days of bleeding to be finished. The seven clean days are the result of a piling up of chumras over the years and actually has nothing to do with niddah itself.

So, in short, I agree with hagtbg, in terms of niddah. The laws as they stand today are way too restrictive, for some dangerously and unnecessarily so.

12:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually the original requirement was to wait 7 days after the onset of the period do a beidkah to ensure that there is no more bleeding and then go to the mikvah
and that is only if the woman is a niddah not a zavvah

12:58 AM  
Anonymous anonymous mom said...

anon israel,
I hear you on the piled on chumros over the years, but two things.
a. I believe hagtbg is referring to the whole kit and kaboodle here and if that's the case, I believe he is mistaken.
b. there are different paths within Orthodoxy. I think a lot of what I personally have asked myself to do with regard to these Halachos is ok. Any comm with Rabbis about this stuff over the years has also been relatively painless, but then I employ a working brain which is important in today's orthodoxy. This isn't so much to disparage others as to lament the slow removal of the individual brain from Orthodox practice.

7:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How did a discussion about Feldman turn into Mikvah and Niddah??

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was my comments re. the cilice/tefillin mention in Noah Feldman's article that took the topic off track, and somehow HAGTBG used my comment about Christianity to bring in his gripes with the Orthodox view of sexuality (mikvah/niddah etc.).

HAGTBG has asked me to defend my comments on Christianity, so I will.

HAGTBG, your objection is:

you look to a view in Christianity that is far far in the minority today. Most Christians today do not see married sex as dirty and the more liberal you go, the less they see wrong with premarital sex. Certainly, they do not see anything wrong with hand holding.

Again, this is the kind of stuff that has not been anything more the propaganda since the 1960's.


While it may be true that most Christians have no problem with premarital sex today, that does not prove that the Christian religion has taken a more relaxed view of sexuality. (That would be like saying: Most non-observant Jews do not go to the Mikvah nowadays, so Judaism has dispensed with the halachot of Taharas HaMishpacha.) The clergy of the Christian religion (both Catholic and Protestant) still promote the ideal of chastity. Just because most Christians don't keep to the tenets of the religion anymore, does not mean that the religion itself has changed its views since the 1960's.

9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, the Roman Catholic church still requires a vow of celibacy prior to ordination (yes, even in the year 2007). In Judaism, it's quite the opposite: our Rabbis (along with all Jewish males) are required to marry and procreate.

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To get back to the topic: I would be interested to find out if Maimonides had ever encountered this problem before, of an alum bringing a non-Jewish "significant other" to an event, and whether they airbrushed out their face.

Probably not if the couple were attending a fund-raising event, I'm guessing. If the Feldmans had been attending a fancy dinner, or high-donations-required event, would the school have still taken their money but prohibited their pictures from being included? I think not.

11:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Probably not if the couple were attending a fund-raising event, I'm guessing. If the Feldmans had been attending a fancy dinner, or high-donations-required event, would the school have still taken their money but prohibited their pictures from being included? I think not.

11:27 AM

you are right on the "money" . please note that this is going to be the title of my new book...the "hypocrisy of orthodoxy" ( copyright pending)

11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an e-mail that I wrote to Feldman about his article. I need not say more.
"Dear Mr. Feldman:

For a fairly bright guy, you are really stupid. Modern Orthodoxy is a Club. Like any other club, it has rules. If you break the rules, you get thrown out. One of those rules is that you marry a Jew. If you marry a non-Jew you have broken the rules. You don't have to be a law professor to figure that out. When you get to Harvard Law, ask Alan Dershowitz, he will explain it to you. He wrote a whole book, not an essay, trying to justify to himself and to explain to his mother why her grandchild should not be thrown out of the Club because he married outside the Tribe.

Whatever your reason for writing this piece in the Times Magazine, whether you have a need to be validated, guilt feelings or just self-hatred, there was no reason for you to refer to teffilin (phylactaries) and a cilice in the same sentence. Are you out of your *&@#% mind? It's amazing how one year of clerking for Souter can undo 12 years of tutelage under Rav Solovietchik. (One saving grace: you did not have the chutzpah to refer to the Rav by name in your article. You are not totally lost!) You are what you are in spite of the Yeshiva - not because of it. That is why the Yeshiva does not acknowledge you. You have broken the rules. Join the Reform Club but do not ask my club to accept you as if you were a member in good standing."

12:24 PM  
Anonymous bsci said...

Dear Anon 12:24PM

I think your letter illustrates exactly what is wrong with Orthodoxy. It is NOT a club. It is a religion. The goal of the religion is more than who get's into the clubhouse. It's about how to live one's life (and interact with others). Part of that should be encouraging every Jew to live as close to halacha as possible. Throwing people out of the "club" for breaking one rule, even a major rule means they will subsequently break more.

This relates to the obscenely offensive other comments comparing Feldman to Hitler for having his following generations not being observant. With an intermarried couple there are two options. If you shun them completely, you can guarantee the following generations will learn all that is wrong with Jews and have no interest in anything Jewish. If you loveingly welcome them as they are without breaking halacha oneself then they see a loving Judaism then perhaps the children or the children's children will return. If the following generations are cut off the community also holds some of the blame.

1:06 PM  
Anonymous HAGTBG said...

I hear you on the piled on chumros over the years, but two things.
a. I believe hagtbg is referring to the whole kit and kaboodle here and if that's the case, I believe he is mistaken.


As I understand you ... where you agree that there are to many chumros you think the person is right and where you disagree with someone (as you understand me) as to the extent you believe they are mistaken. I do not object.

I obviously did not go point by point down a list. I will not say Orthodoxy is stricter on every topic. Anonymous mentions Catholic priests as one (narrow) area where Catholics specifically are stricter.

What I am against and have now said here at least 2 times previously are false comparisons to other religions which are not particularly relevant to either the lives of the readers or the point of this specific comment section.

that does not prove that the Christian religion has taken a more relaxed view of sexuality. (That would be like saying: Most non-observant Jews do not go to the Mikvah nowadays, so Judaism has dispensed with the halachot of Taharas HaMishpacha.)

You are presuming there is one type of Christianity; specifically Catholicism. And specifically the doctrine of the Pope. If you want to hold only 1% of Christians are good Christians the rest are bad Christians, fine, your example will work. Otherwise it does not.

As I wrote in the initial comment. There was no need for you to say it. You could have made your primary point without it. You were trying to throw in some propaganda rubbish.

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, BSCI, you said it so well. That letter was awful, and illustrates why people do not want to come anywhere near your "club." As far as the rules, they are constantly changing, as Orthodox Jews think that more is always better, and the more stringent the practice, the more acceptable. In my grandmother's day (a European immigrant, quite Orthodox) she could decide what was kosher. Now people no longer trust any kashrut unless it is supervised by about four specific agencies. Once upon a time kids could dress like kids while at camp or school. Now even little girls must dress in uncomfortably long, hot clothing to protect them from what -- weird thoughts of grown men who shouldn't be focused on the sexuality of little girls. Mikveh used to require seven days of abstinence, as dictated by Torah. Now everyone does seven extra "clean days" and they often run to their local rabbi with their discharge on little cloths (or their underwear in hand) for their authority figure to hold up to the light to see if they are "clean" enough for mikveh and sex. More always seems to be better.

The attitude with which you addressed Mr. Feldman in your letter is exactly why I, who practices Taharat Mishpachah, observes Kashrut, Shabbos and holidays and sends my kids to yeshivah, don't refer to myself as an Orthodox Jew.

1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One correction to my post above -- now women take five days for menstruation and then the seven clean days. Didn't want to make it sound like fourteen.

1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are so right anon 1:26. it's almost as if there is a contest as to who is most pious, who is the holiest, who follows the strictest interpretations of the law, etc. those who are deemed to be lesser on the pious/holy/observant scale are sometimes looked upon as being lesser and somehow, not good jews. we jews can be so judgemental at times.

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 1:27:
As far as I know, it is seven days from the time the woman stops bleeding. Therefore, if she bleeds for seven days (or more), then it IS fourteen days (at least).

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and a woman's menses and noah feldman's new york times piece and are related how?

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't Gil write that the school never cut Feldman out of the photo, that it was inadvertant?

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 2:58:

We're talking about how the Orthodox have made things more and more stringent, in terms of practices, which can serve to further separate and distance the Orthodox from less observant Jews. This is one of the ways.

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon at 3:18,
so are you suggesting that Orthodox Jews should not observe the things that they feel are important so that they can become closer to less observant Jews? Which things? If Orthodox Jews accepted intermarriage then Noah Feldman woudn't feel alientated -is that now a justification for intermarriage? Let's assume for this discussion that you wouldn't go that far. Then where is line drawn? At the lowest common denominator of observance? Or wouldn't that mean that less observant people are imposing themselves on more observant? Who decides? Maybe commentators on blogs should decide? It is absoluetly as unfair and unjustifed to say that because a person chooses a stricter level of observance they are pulling people apart, as it is to say the opposite -that a person who chooses to observe less is pulling people apart. I don't know you so please do not take this personally but I as a (Modern) Orthodox (Ivy league) educated person find that less observant people are just as a capable and just as guilty of talking down to Orthodox as the other way around. And there are no easy answers. Every Jew regardless of level of observance should be proud when they are on vacation and they see a very Orthodox looking family with maybe a slew of kids, dressed as is their custom and enjoying the sights. But unfortunately I have found Jews who are embarrassed. It seems backward to them. Similarly every Jew should be proud when they see Senator Lieberman stand up on the Senate floor. And even proud of the professional accomplishments of Feldman. But Feldman's personal choice to marry out of the faith is not somthing to be proud of. I think that for almost as long as there has been a Jewish People there have been people who are more strict in their observance and people who are less strict. And I think that anyone who is comfortable with their own level of observance (most people I think) has far fewer issues with what the other guy does. That said, Feldman's intermarriage should be the easy case. If a Jew cannot agree that intermarriage would spell the end of the Jewish People and should not be tolerated, then that is a serious difference in World outlook and such a person's outlook is completely dissonant with Orthodox Judaism, and should be completely dissonant with the World outlook of anyone who feels that the continuation of the Jewis people is important.

3:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anonymous at 3:46,

I understand what you're saying, and I agree that intermarriage is not good for the Jews. I absolutely understand why it bothers people, and why the Orthodox do not support or accept it. That said, I don't think we can completely dismiss somebody as a Jew (or their children) because they have done this. You never know when somebody will be drawn back to Judaism in a big way, and the door should always be open. My sister intermarried, but was able to join a Reconstructionist shul. There she and her husband (and their child) were welcomed into the community, and as time went on, they began to really embrace Judaism and its customs. Her husband converted and they converted their child. Had they been in the situation of Feldman, I don't think they would have felt at all attracted to Judaism, as the obvious animosity toward their situation would certainly have alienated them. As far as levels of observance, it just seems that people have higher and higher expectations of what religious practices make somebody considered an observant Jew, and they are getting more and more strict, especially in terms of women and children and family life in general. I don't think people should be expected to do less so as not to alienate less observant Jews. I just think it's time to stop out-Jewing each other. I post on a board dedicated to kosher food and restaurants, and over time it has become more and more unpleasant there. Instead of talking about food, people simply look for reasons why everything on the planet isn't kosher enough. I read on another board someone saying that she would never eat at a home where somebody prepares broccoli (because anybody who prepares and eats broccoli can't be kosher enough, what with the possibility of tiny bugs) and I want to scream, "Enough!" And what about the children's camps trying harder and harder to prove that they have the most modestly attired little girls, making them wear long heavy skirts and thigh-high socks in summer heat? Yes, it doesn't affect my life in a direct way, as I wouldn't send my children to such a camp, I don't need people to eat at my home who are petrified of broccoli, and I will survive if a restaurant decides not to get certification because diners deem them not kosher enough because they couldn't afford OU certification. But in a way all of these changes affect me in terms of where I will live, what kinds of Jews will be open to a connection with me and my children, and whether I will feel a part of what has always been my own community. I go to mikveh every month with my uncovered hair and jeans. At some point will the mikveh decide that I am no longer able to be allowed to observe this mitzvah, because I'm not Orthodox? I hope not, but I fear that this may be where things are headed.

4:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I go to mikveh every month with my uncovered hair and jeans. At some point will the mikveh decide that I am no longer able to be allowed to observe this mitzvah, because I'm not Orthodox?

From what I can see, in the Five Towns the only thing one need do to call themselves Orthodox is pay dues to an Orthodox shul.

10:32 PM  
Anonymous anon israel mom said...

anon 11:38:

"the "hypocrisy of orthodoxy" ( copyright pending)"

Sorry to report, you can't copyright book titles:

"How do I copyright a name, title, slogan or logo?
Copyright does not protect names, titles, slogans, or short phrases. In some cases, these things may be protected as trademarks. Contact the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, 800-786-9199, for further information. However, copyright protection may be available for logo artwork that contains sufficient authorship. In some circumstances, an artistic logo may also be protected as a trademark."

http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-protect.html

12:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon@4:24,

If someone chooses to dress or have their children dress (or attend camps that require them to dress) in a way that is stricter than you choose, then that is their choice and if that makes you uncomfortable that is your issue and not their issue. I personally would never send my daughter to a camp that requires girls to wear stockings to play sports, but that is a choice people are entitled to make; however I DO send my daughter to a camp that requires sleeves over the elbows and skirts (a choice I am sure some other people would never make). That is the way my daughter dresses and the way my wife dresses and that is our choice. We don't do this to "out-Jew anyone" or to make anyone else uncomfortable-we do this because we believe that this is the mode of dress encouraged by the Shulchan Orach, and I know it is the kind of dress encouraged by our (YU affiliated) Rabbis. We are also fully aware that there are other valid interpretations/opinions which would allow women to wear long pants, but that is not what we personally choose to do. We are far from perfect and are not nearly the most religious people we know, but in the context of our particular backgrounds and education we try to do the best we can and to understand why we are doing what we are doing, and find a happy medium that works for us, and we are quite comfortable with our practices. There are people who are both more and less strict than us with many things, and I suspect that some of the same people are more strict than us about some things (e.g lets say broccoli or dress) and less strict than us about other things (e.g. lets say movies)- we don't fret it because that's the way of the World, and more than that, we are perfectly comfortable defending our points of view because we try as hard as we can to understand why we do certain things. I think if someone is secure in their level of observance, whatever that level is, then you really do not need to worry about who is doing more or less than you are -you don't really know anyway, only Hashem knows what particular tests and backgrounds and secrets and issues underly each individuals practice. But for Heaven's sake don't think for a second that judging people ads being too strict is any better than judging people as being less strict. And if somone is concerned that there may be bugs in their broccoli then that is their prerogative, and if they don't want to eat in your house then fine -that is their prerogative too, but if you are comfortable with it and rely on a particular Hechser or Rabbi, then you can be comfortable knowing that they, and not you are wrong, because they have ignored your Chezkat Kashrut.

anon@ 10:32: I think anyone who wants to call themeselves Orthodox can do that regardless of whether they pay dues to an Orthodox Shul. It's just a label. Much more accurate would be for a person to say whether they are "Shomer Shabbat" or "Shomer Torah Umitzvot", and in both cases if you are doing your best I'd say you have a right to say that. If we required people to be perfect in their observance then there would be virtually no one who could say they are either. It's definitely a lot more about where you come from and in which direction you are going than where you are now. Furthermore, in most circumstances I'd say you have to think long and hard before you claim that somone else is not, and put yourself in their shoes . . .

12:38 AM  
Anonymous Rebbe said...

The occassional, friday night services that I have attended at Temple Sinai near Dougies are 100 times more meaningful and contain more spirituality than Young Isreal, Beth Shalom, Red Shul, White Shul and all the shteebles put together....to me (& the music is not too bad either)

7:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anon 12:38,

I appreciate your response, and your points are all well-taken. I do agree that if one is comfortable with his or her life choices, and should suffice. My husband's family is quite observant (wear sheitls, for instance) as they have been all their lives, and I find them so comfortable in it -- non-judgmental of how others observe but definitely dedicated to following their version of what is expected of them by God and the Torah. I guess I have encountered (on line and in real life) others who seem to constantly be raising the bar, and this concerns me. But I certainly respect how you and your family live your lives, as you seem to have respect for how others do, even if it means interpreting laws (of dress or kashrut or whatever) differently.

8:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One more thing that I want to clarify. By "raising the bar" I don't mean on their own observance. I accept and even enjoy that there are Jews out there who observe and interpret things in a very dedicated way. What I mean is to raise the bar on what everyone does -- saying that I'm not observant if I daven in a particular shul, or eat at a particular restaurant, or dress a certain way. The disparaging comments about Conservative or Reform Jews (some of whom do consider themselves dedicated and observant Jews) bother me. But you seem to have respect for others, and I appreciate that.

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From what I can see, in the Five Towns the only thing one need do to call themselves Orthodox is pay dues to an Orthodox shul.


You obviously have some issues with religion your self, but, being Orthodox transends your shul membership. Should someone who is Hasidic, but steals be considerd "Ultra orthodox"? No, but yet he/she does anyway.

Feldman can label himself anyway he wants,pray at the shul of his choice that does not mean that anyone has to accept him.

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post really opened up some many different issues.

First, how can anyone "justify" or say that is OK to shun someone because they fell in love with someone who is, in their opinion, different?

Does anyone take into account that they might be a terrific match together and that she might be his true soul mate?

Does character and integrity ever come into play?

The fanaticism on this board is truly unsettling.

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Boomer said...

It is only "fanaticism" if you totally discount Halacha: Feldman's marriage (as he well knew) has zero Halachic status.

For him to lash out at the Orthodox community in the NY Times puts him into the category of the Malshinim that we refer to three times a day in the Amidah.

Feldman's character and integrity are called into question by his implicit comparison of tefillin wearers to a literary assasin, his suggestion Orthodox physicians are in practice not supposed to treat Gentiles and his hint that Goldstein is representative of some norm in Judaism.

Had he quietly gone about his affairs nobody would have given him the slightest thought.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May I ask a question--what is it about Asian women that Jewish men find so irresistible? I know so many cases of formerly Orthodox men who have "left the fold" for one.

3:06 PM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

um, to the person who said that the school has no obligation to display its failures, I wholeheartedly dissagree with out. They not only don't have a right to hide him, they have an obligation to show him as a testimony to one of the schools failures, to refrain from doing so is an issur deoraisa of lying and genavas da'as.

I certainly want to know what failures the school has produced.

Now, that doesn't mean they can't remove him from the picture, but removing him from the picture should be in a rather obvious way, as in air brushing him with a hot pink color that rather stands out and is exceedingly obvious. This testifies at one time to his presence, and at the other to his being a failure and also at the same time to your lack to desire to blacken his siblings names with his failure.

This I think is basic honesty.

oh and about the sexual repression thing, authentic judaism says that no male should pass his twentieth year unmarried and better for him to marry a shrew in his twentieth year rather than to wait a single extra month and marry after that age.

(this is not at all true for girls. Evidentl chazal felt that boys were litteraly incapable of controlling themselves and that there was little point in trying, and even if you tried your chances of success were hopelessly remote, therefore marry him off before he's actualy culpable.)

6:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Feldman can label himself anyway he wants,pray at the shul of his choice that does not mean that anyone has to accept him.

I've never met the guy but I'm sure he sleeps fine whether you accept him or not.

6:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"From what I can see, in the Five Towns the only thing one need do to call themselves Orthodox is pay dues to an Orthodox shul."

One of the truest statements I have read in a long time. Such hypocrisy exists and flourishes in the Five Towns.

A BIG attitude adjustment is needed.

7:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never met the guy but I'm sure he sleeps fine whether you accept him or not.

I disagree. he seems very anxious and upset, so much so that he wrote an article.

9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the last statement--if he "slept fine", he wouldn't have written the article. He's clearly angry to the point he had to bring up a mentally ill Jew like Baruch Goldstein as representative of Orthodox Judaism.

10:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think he is irrelevant ... to Jews at least. His kids are not Jewish, and when he dies, that's the end of any Jewish connection. End of story.

1:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the person that asked why jewish men are attracted to Asian women.
My answer would be "you're kidding, right"?

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the person that asked why jewish men are attracted to Asian women.
My answer would be "you're kidding, right"?

9:42 AM

I would say it is an american thing. I have a number of non-jewish friend who either have Asian wives, or really want one.

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

both my brothers-in-laws married asian women,,why??? no jewish mother-in-laws to deal with...however,,,both sister-in-laws beecame americanized mas rapido and have now become demanding and fond of the finer things in life...the joke is now on my brothers-in-law,,

12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish there were more frum asian women. give the frumpy frum ashkenazic woman somethign to worry about

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've seen it so many times--the shiksa is so sweet and undemanding at first. After the wedding--forget it! No diamond is large enough, no fur coat is good enough, no vacation is luxurious enough. You're right--the joke's on the hapless Jewish guy. The sad thing is that there are so many Jewish girls without husbands who would give anything to get married and raise a Jewish family.

9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, that comment is offensive on several levels, but I don't need to tell you that.

Second of all, you made me laugh. Goodness knows Jewish women don't care about diamonds or vacations, what with being so down to earth and all. The moms at my day school will be surprised to hear this.

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 11:24

Exactly. It is offensive and VERY telling.

Maybe these poor "Jewish girls without husbands" should widen their dating pool and (God forbid)discover that there are plenty of non-jewish guys would make for wonderful husbands as well!

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you see today's NYT's? Chelsea Clinton has a "serious Jewish boyfriend"!

9:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't even say that! I just heard a collective ripping of clothing from this website!

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

READ RABBI LAMM'S ARTICE IN RESPONSE

http://www.forward.com/articles/11308/

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