Monday, March 23, 2009

A Worthwhile Read

Yitchok Levine has come through again.
Some people just "get it".


YeshivaWorldNewsRant said...

Interesting article. However, since when do we want to consider Lubavitch as the standard?

Additionally, how many more children and families were lost to Yiddishkeit because of the lack of more formal jewish education and knowledge?

I don't dispute that our society has because too focused on materialism, or that derech eretz is seriously lacking, but I think to say the 50's were better for Yiddishkeit in general is simplistic.

I think someone in the Rqabbinic leadership should step up and say " Hey, focus, materialism is wrong, and teach your children manners" until that day, as long as there is tacit approval of the "wretched excesses" in our society, for example, by attendance at some of these huge expensive weddings, we will not see any change in our societal (is that a word?) attitudes.


G6 said...

I think you must have misunderstood certain aspects of the article.
Yitchok Levine CLEARLY itemizes areas in which yiddishkeit has improved in our society:

"Today we can point to many improvements. These include, but are certainly not limited to, a probably unprecedented commitment to and level of Torah study on the part of Orthodox young people; a considerably higher level of tzinius - modesty - in many circles; a sharp increase in daily synagogue attendance; stricter kashrus standards, including the use of chalav Yisrael products, by many; a proliferation of chesed organizations; a more stringent approach to shmiras Shabbos by those who consider themselves Orthodox; and a surprising number of Mincha minyanim - a phenomenon that hardly existed years ago - in some cities.

Each of us can undoubtedly add more items to this list. But there's no denying the fact that today, more careful attention is given to the performance of mitzvos - some of which were often neglected in the fifties."

That said, aside from your listed "excesses" we also need to address this concept of "keeping up with the Machmirs" if MORE people are not lost to become lost to Yiddishkeit c"v......

I think your focus on the Lubavitch aspect is completely beside the point. The levayo discussed was merely illustrative of his point.

Anonymous said...

By the way, I disagree with dr. Levine about tzinius. Perhaps women nowadays adhere more to the letter of the law, but I would argue the reverse as regards the spirit (in some Orthodox communities).

Anonymous said...

Tzniyus also means not castigating Kllal Yisroel even for their excesses. Suddnely everyone is pointing fingers...not a good way to bring Moshiach.

Anonymous said...

since when do we want to consider Lubavitch as the standard?
It depends on what "standard" you want to apply. For myself, I consider Lubavitch as my standard for at least three things: appreciation of the incalculable value of each mitzvah, love of every Yid and confidence in one's own Yiddishkeit. Lubavitchers think nothing of raising their families in areas with few frum people and allowing their children to fully interact with those of non-frum congregants, all so that they can get people to daven or make shabbat or wear tefillin a bit more frequently. For all my "modernism," I could not imagine doing what shluchim do, nor could I imagine demonstrating such complete and genuine love for every yid at every level of observance.

how many more children and families were lost to Yiddishkeit because of the lack of more formal jewish education and knowledge?
People go "off the derech" for a slew of reasons; inadequate formal Jewish education might be one of them, but it's far from universal. Not one member of my family in the last two generations had a formal Jewish education past elementary school, yet all managed to stay well within the fold, raising children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who are shomrei torah u'mitzvot. They did this through an internalization of values: belonging to a shul and community, sacrificing for Jewish education for their children, and, while maintaining an appreciation for the good things in this world, disdaining materialism for its own sake.

Back to the article: While Dr. Levine's points are well-taken (and I really should express my hakarat hatov for his maintaining a wonderful online archive of Hirschiana), the solution is not a simple one. Menschlichkeit is not something that can be instilled at the yeshiva level; it must come from the family and community, in conjunction with the chinuch system.

I agree with "Anonymous" in part regarding castigating others: let us acknowledge that no single group has the perfect answer, and, instead of pointing out the flaws in everyone else's system (or trying to change ourselves to fit them), work on improving and maintaining our own.