To discuss issues relevant to the large and growing world of young Frum families and singles who are fully engaged in the Olam HaTorah and Olam HaZeh. You take your career, learning, family (or dating) and play seriously (not necessarily in that order.) You are nervous about the anti-intellectual trends that you see in your community while being proud of being part of the Torah renaissance in our generation.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Amusement Parks

Took the kids to a mini-amusement park today. What a blast! There is nothing like seeing the face of kids at an amusement park! It just so beautiful.

I was exceptionally happy to see my eldest displaying no fear at all on any and all rides (unlike her wimp-ish father....)

I think back to my Yeshiva days and remember my Rebbe saying how there is no word in Hebrew for 'adventure' nor 'excitement'. Point being - only those who don't have Real Life (e.g. all non-Bnei Torah) need adventure and excitement. I really believed in it. Wow.... I guess if i had gotten married earlier in life and had kids earlier in life i could have learned the truth about life by living it, instead of learning from theoretical mussar shmoozen having nothing to do with reality (or to be charitable, mine and 5.5 billion other Earthling's reality.) "Boruch ShePatrani Mey Unsho Shel Zu" and I can live life as God meant us to.. to enjoy it! (Although i did hear this exact message from a Mashgiach in one of the yeshivos that I attended, that children appreciate the world in the way that Hashem intended us to - enjoying it, so just goes to show....but he too wasn't a big proponent of Amusement parks :)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

YU - Reconciling Institutional Divides

There is very interesting article in the new issue of YU's The Commentator .

It recaps a moderated discussion between Rav Herschel Schechter and a Dean of Yeshiva College, Dr. David Srolovitz. They clearly have very different views about what YU should be like - particularly its academic programs.

To deal with the divide, I have the following proposal. But first, a recap of the problem.

The University at YU wants to maintain an educational institution of the highest caliber. This will attract Jewish students who might otherwise go to Ivy League colleges. That is an admirable goal.

The Roshei Yeshiva at YU want to maintain a Yeshiva atmosphere of the highest levels of Yirat Shamayim and shmirat haMitzvot so that 'the best and brightest' across the Orthodox spectrum will feel comfortable learning at YU and all the bochurim will benefit in their Avodat Hashem. That too is an admirable goal.

To make everyone happy, maybe YU should start an evening program on campus which will be more 'parnasa-training' oriented, ala Touro. It would be a separate division, so its more limited (and censored) courses would not detract from YU's overall academic standings. For the 'serious' bochur who is more into "Torah u'Parnasa" (as RHS coined it) than "Torah u'Mada", they would be able to learn for two Sedarim (morning and afternoon) and take college courses and study at night. They would receive credits for their learning so that they could focus exclusively on their majors. This would be a similar program to what we had at Ner Yisroel (and still have.. just barely.. stay tuned to see if the new NIRC RY (Rav Aharon Feldman) shuts down the college option). Boys in the 'night college' program would be able to take a course or two in the day program on an exceptional case-by-case basis. The program should be open for summer school as well, to help the guys finish their degree in a reasonable time frame.

This idea would make everyone happy. The only danger would be in opening the schisms between the varied and diverse student body more than it already is. But from a relative of mine who attended YU recently it seems that the student body is already self-segregated along 'religious' lines.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Orange Kippah sighting

I saw an orange kippah at a Bar Mitzvah yesterday worn by a teenager. It had the following words knitted on it:
"Loh Nishkach, vLoh Nislach"
(for those in Rio Linda California, as my old and discarded Rebbe Rush would say, that means "We won't forget and we won't forgive")

I can think of fewer more distasteful messages to put on a kippah - the symbol of humility before the Creator. (I guess the kippah with the Rolling Stones trademark tounge would be in the running)

Granted I was (and are) on the pro-disengagement side of the debate - but still - this is ridiculous for a Kippah. Especially in light of our current war in Lebanon.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Lakewood Internet Ban - Moving to Monsey

Latest scoop in the Internet Ban wars!!!

Inside information has it that Monsey is next on the communities to ban the internet as a prerequisite for letting one's kids attend the local schools.

Stay tuned....

Just between us, when we where kids back in the 70s and 80s, there was no shortage of access to all materials inappropriate; be it the library, the local candy store, newstand and who can forget the barber shop magazines. So banning the Internet doesn't solve the problem...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Lakewood Internet Ban

I have done a little research and while I can't be sure about this, my sources are telling me that the Internet ban in Lakewood is not being enforced and is being privately disregarded by some in the community but not publicly. I do not have sources telling me that it is being widely disregarded, but I am being told that people who want to can have Internet access without any reprecussions. Let me know if you hear the same or if you hear otherwise

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Israeli Election Results - Political perspective re Disengagement

Today's election in Eretz Yisroel points to the absolute division within Israeli society regarding security issues.

The Hard Left (Labor/Meretz) got 20% of the vote
The Hard Right (Likud, Yisrael BeItanu, Nat'l Union) got 25% of the vote
The Center - Kadima - got 24% of the vote.

The remaining 30 percent is divided amongst single issue party blocks: (in order of largest voting) Chareidim (Aguda and Shas), Arab Parties and the Pensioners party (whose members are free to vote their conscience on Security issues).

One could argue that there IS a consensus about what Israeli's DON'T believe. A majority of Israelis (the Center and Hard Right) who voted for the ideological parties DON'T believe that it is possible to make peace with the current Palestenians - whether in Fatah or Hamas. A majority of Israelis (the Center and Hard Left) who voted for the ideological parties DON'T believe in the concept of Greater Israel and are willing to make territorial compromises. And it also seems that there is a begrudging consensus from this group to make unilateral concessions. However, this does NOT represent a majority of the Jewish electorate.

So contrary to earlier reports in the media (and contrary to what I thought), the majority of Israeli Jews do NOT support unilateral disengagement (only 48%.)

The above is true only if you assume that: a) the Pensioners Party has no opinion on Security Issues and b) althought the Chareidim believe in land for peace in theory, in practice, in the current geopolitical climate, they do not.

But if you argue that the Pensioners party is basically a left wing party and its members would mostly have voted for Kadima, Labor or Meretz, then there IS a slim but not tiny majority of the Jewish electorate in support of unilateral disengagement (54%.)

So like all things political, it depends on the spin.

An Open Letter to My Rav

Dear Reb ________:
I have the utmost respect for you as our Rav, my Rebbe, as a role model and as moral compass. However I have a few questions:

1- All your Speeches, Divrei Torah and Shiurim deal with Torah in the abstract and almost never deal with the moral, halachik and theological issues of the day. Am I the only one in our shul who cares about
a) how to view the State of Israel 50 years after its founding
b) how to deal with the tension of having our Gedolim seeming to be drifting out of touch with the rest of us (e.g. Slifkin Ban, Internet Ban, College Ban, (effectively) working ban, etc.)
c) How does our conception of 'Moshiach' change due to 'a'
d) How do we live in an accepting and pluralistic society where we take all the benefits of pluralism and democracy but give none back (e.g. We would sue if a goy won't sell us a house in his neighborhood, but we won't sell a goy a house in our neighborhood.) In other words, do these halachos change now that we are living in America?

2- We have been hearing shiurim in Maseches Sanhedrin from you and we now know lots of chakras and yedios in many parts of Shas. But here is what we learned and what we don't know:
a) Let be honest about the stature of Batei Din nowadays and discuss why this is so and how it can be remedied.
b) At the beginning of the Masaches we learned that Chazal relaxed Torah law regarding requirements of witnesses and testimony in order to encourage lending. How should that apply nowadays regarding women testifying? How does this affect our understanding of how Batei Denim and Jewish 'civil procedures' have and should continue to evolve?
c) We learned about the official Jewish Courts in Syria which did not necessarily rule based on Torah law but where legally binding. How does that reflect on the High Court in the State of Israel?
d) We learned many chakiris and machlokeses regarding 'Yefas Toar' but did not discuss the moral ramifications of this mitzvah and the tension generated by realizing that this is no longer considered acceptable behavior (I am not saying that it doesn't happen.)
e) We learned about 'milchemes mitzvah' vs 'milchemes Resus' but we never discussed how these halachos apply to the IDF nor did we analyze the moral implications of 'milchemes resus' which according to some included fighting wars to conquer lands for the kings honor and to make a name. Again, this is not considered acceptable by today's standards.

3- While we don't expect our Rav to be a political scientist nor to be a political commentator, it would be reassuring to know that the world is actually happening outside when you speak. That we did pull out of Gaza. Sharon did have a stroke. That Hamas did win an election. It almost seems as if the world outside does not even exists.

I hope that there are some great and honest answers to the questions above and I look forward to hearing you talk about these issues in the near future.


Jewish Music, Ruchniyus, Avodah and Emotion

In an earlier post titled 'Michal's Revenge', I bemoaned the lack of energy in our Batei Kenesios during Tefilah. Especially during Hallel which is basically dirged through without any joy nor emotion. People don't clap - except by some Chasidim - and although on Shabbos there are halachik issues involved in clapping - there are none on Chol HaMoed nor on Rosh Chodesh - so why no emotion during Hallel? Have you ever witnessed a rock concert (not in person, c'v)? Have you seen the energy? Is that all the 'Koach HaTumah'? Why can 'they' get so emotional about their narishkeit and we can't about communicating and giving 'Thanksgiving' to the Creator?

On the other hand, take a look at these two links:

It is a seemingly emotionally charged rendition of The Chevra's two hit songs, sung with great Hislahavus and Deveykus. There is on problem.....The guy is not Jewish and admits that he doesn't have any clue what the words mean but he loves the song. What do you make of this? Is this a Stira to my above posted opinion? Does it show that the whole thing is narishkeit and fake?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Being Mevatel everything outside of the Torah

Being Mevatel everything outside of the Torah
The biggest criticism I have regarding the chinuch that I received in my b'h lengthy Yeshiva days is that which we where taught to be mevatail and denigrate anything outside of Torah and the Torah world. It is such a jaundiced and dangerous outlook! Any criticism of our community, no matter how valid, was always viewed as an attack that must be defended by going on the offensive to show that, pum fahkehrt, just the opposite, the criticisms of our critics shows their krumkeit. As by definition, whatever we do MUST be right and correct.A particular danger of this approach is that we lose the advise of 'chazal' of 'Eyzehu chacham halomeid meKol Adam'. Since we are not perfect, we lose the ability to improve ourselves by accepting valid criticisms and by seeing what other's are doing right.A Rebbe of mine (who I still love and respect) once during a shmooz, was very critical of noted humanitarian (Dr. Schweitzer) who raised money for his clinic in Africa by giving concerts around the world. My Rebbe claimed that he could have spent the whole year giving concerts which would have raised more money to send 100 doctors to Africa - but he wanted to be the hero doctor, so he would rather stay in Africa most of the year and fundraise just to support his clinic. He attributed this to Gayvah.The criticism might be correct - but does this make Dr. Schweitzer worse than the rest of us who just stay home and do nothing? Not raise money nor go and heal people? So instead of looking to Dr. Schweitzer as a source of inspiration, all we are left with is denigration and no chance for inspiration to follow in his footsteps (or those of the famed Dr. Wallach of Sha'arei Chesed hospital.)