FrumTalk

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.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

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.

Sincerely,

7 Comments:

  • At 4/10/2006 7:21 AM, Anonymous ליטוואק said…

    You make some important points. However, if your Rav would cover all that, what would be left for blogs like this? ;-)

    More seriously, definitely a real godol would address/be prepared to adddress such things. However, not every Rav is on the same level, and perhaps your Rav has his hands full just learning and teaching the texts, without relating them to current events.

    P.S. What was the response of the Rav ??

     
  • At 4/10/2006 9:30 PM, Blogger J said…


    You make some important points. However, if your Rav would cover all that, what would be left for blogs like this? ;-)


    I would gladly retire and spend the time learning instead of all this batala;(


    More seriously, definitely a real godol would address/be prepared to adddress such things. However, not every Rav is on the same level, and perhaps your Rav has his hands full just learning and teaching the texts, without relating them to current events.

    Torah is a Toras Chayim. If it is cut off from life then it is not a Toras Chayim but a theoretical framework devoid from reality. If one's learning and the life and world are seperated then there is a big disconnect.

    These issues aren't raised when these sugyas where learned in Yeshiva nor in shiurim that I hear now. I raise them, as the questions that i ask when learning now are different from the questions that i asked when I too was in the ivory tower in Yeshiva.


    P.S. What was the response of the Rav ??

    I have not had the guts to ask most of them. I once asked a gadol about Shir HaShirim - whether it has a literal peshat to be understood literally or is it to be only understood on the allegoric level only. He didn't understand the 'Kasha'.

    Some of these types of questions are dealt with in journals like 'Crossroads/Tzomet' as in the Dati Leumi Torah world, there is less of a disconnect, because in their view the Medina is supposed to be running al pi Halacha, so this reduces the disconnect.

     
  • At 5/13/2007 1:23 PM, Blogger Jacob Da Jew said…

    Excellent post!

    When you get the Drasha in Shul, its the same as always...yawn yawn yawn.

     
  • At 5/13/2007 11:34 PM, Blogger J said…

    Jakob:
    My point wasn't that my Rav was boring. My point was that the Torah that he was teaching - while quite alive and full of intellectual prowess - was totally unconnected from Reality.

    p.s. loved those precusions from Prospect Park on your blog. :)

     
  • At 7/06/2007 12:11 PM, Blogger Israel Penhos said…

    j--
    question a should be avoided by all rabbis at all times. it is as (if not more) irrelevant than the droshes your rov is giving (I have no doubt)-- C'mon man, how to view a historical event?

    question b is essentially a series of halachic questions that touch on public policy. that is, poskim (and these days, "gedolim") "pasken" for the community at large. I use pasken in quotes because it is not techinaclyy a psak or psika. if your rabbi disagrees with the gedolim, don't expect him to address it in public.

    c) and a) are irrelevant to frum living.
    d) if a private person is not allowed to discriminate based on religion re: whom he sells his house to, we shouldn't do it. (a) are you sure that's the law? b) i agree on this point.

     
  • At 7/06/2007 3:18 PM, Blogger J said…

    Israel:

    a) Huh? how to view the most seminal event in the past 2000 years shouldn't be addressed by Rabonim? We should just ignore it? What planet are you living on?

    b) He should be leading us. There is not one policy that applies to all. As our leader, what does he feel is appropriate for our community? These are important issues and he should weigh in. Our's is a real shul with a very chashuv Talmid Chacham as the Rav, not a fly-by-night shteeble with 30 guys showing up.

    c)they are not relevant if you believe that Moshiach is a magical mystic event with no relation to anything that we can relate to. That Eliyahu will come riding in literaly on a donkey and the shuls will all take off and land us in Eretz Yisroel where we will crown Moshiach. If you believe in fairy tales, and this one, then you are right.
    But if you are a rationalist like the Rambam and you believe that Moshiach will come thru very natural (albeit miraculous ala Purim) means and that "Ein bein yemos haMashiach elah Shibud Malchiyos belvad", then these are very relevant issues.

    d) You are missing the point of my point. selling a house was but one simple example. i am referring to a general approach to our interactions with American society.

    I am not sure what your response:
    (a) are you sure that's the law? b) i agree on this point. is refering to.

     
  • At 1/10/2010 3:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

     

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