Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sociology Without Leaving Home

I find myself in disagreement with much that Samuel Heilmann has written over the years. I think his basic premise is faulty in that he starts with the assumption that Orthodoxy is essentially more or less like the version he is comfortable with, and all deviations from the way he grew up need an explanation. His base line Orthodoxy is what they used to call the Orthodoxy of the ‘big shuls’ as opposed to the shteiblech, yeshivish and chasidisher minyanim. In these big tent sorts of places everyone was Orthodox, but some were lax in their observance. If left-wing Modern Orthodox becomes the paradigm, charedi life is marginalized and, as a result, becomes a problem that requires a special explanation.

None of this corresponds to my own recollection. The Orthodox refugees who came to America immediately before the war largely came from traditional homes in Eastern Europe. None of these people had the slightest familiarity with American Conservative or Reform Judaism. After the war, the bulk of the people who came to Orthodoxy were Ultra and Strict Orthodox, and not Modern Orthodox. The famous yeshivas in New York and elsewhere were already seriously frum before the war. Although the world was frum, the current ideological divisions were much less severe. I’ll give a few examples.

In my youth, I remember reading that the Satmar Rav, Harav Yoel Teitelbaum z”l gave a talk in Mesivta Torah Vodaath. It wasn’t considered particularly odd for the leader of the anti-Zionist and the most extreme version of Hungarian Transylvanian chassidus to be invited to speak in an American yeshiva. While we’re on the topic of anti-Zionism, it’s useful to remember that the American Agudah in the 50’s was far from being a pro-Zionist movement. It is my understanding, and readers can send in their own impressions, that the ideology that was dominant in Agudah, especially in Camp Agudah in those years was very close to the Neturei Karta position that is today considered over the top, off the wall, and extremist. The charedim then were less Zionist than today where many have turned more right wing pro-settler. Nevertheless the contacts between Strict Orthodox Agudah and Mizrachi Jews was closer than today.

I remember in my teenage years Rabbi I. Domb’s The Transformation: The Case of Neturei Karta was being passed around, not exactly what you would call a left wing Modern Orthodox manual. Some friends read The Transformation, some played basketball, and some talked eventually about philosophy of science or mathematics. Some did all three. I did not feel growing up that my surroundings were particularly extreme or charedi. It didn’t feel charedi. It didn’t feel Modern Orthodox. It felt like growing up with everyone else, some bigger learners, some less into learning, more frum, less frum. It’s called growing up in a neighborhood. I should also add that at least during adolescence people didn’t sort themselves into cliques based on religiosity. You played ball, schmoozed, kibitzed with whoever was around. I am willing to bet many others had similar experiences.

The parents who sent their children to the famous American yeshivas and bais yaakovs were not Modern Orthodox Jews who became more religious. They were European Jews who originally came from families that today would be called Strict Orthodox, but who might have modernized somewhat before and after the war. Charedi life was not foreign to them. The same phenomenon exists today. There are thousands of Orthodox Jews who want to daven in a chassidish shteibel, perhaps headed by some miniscule rebbele. It’s not because they are so charedi themselves, but because that way of life is familiar and comfortable. Even if they go to the movies and send their son or daughter to YU, they might want their rav to wear an appropriate outfit. They want to daven nusach sfard. Heimish chassidish is a big tent, capacious space.

Many, many of the students at Yeshiva University and its associated schools were drawn from the ranks of families that were connected to a European orthodoxy. I would say that in those days the lines of separation between the various stripes were loosely drawn. One kid went to Chaim Berlin and Brooklyn College. His brother or cousin might have gone to YU. In the years immediately after the war the ideological separations we have today were much gentler. It wasn’t so uncommon for someone to be a Munkaczer chasid, with all that such an affiliation implies, and be clean shaven and sympathize with the Mizrachi.

Heilman’s attributing college and professional education to Modern Orthodox and learning, kolel and estrangement from the world to charedim is just not the way it happened. It was all mixed up…big learners went to college and became charedim big time. Plenty of guys who didn’t go to college or went to college and dropped out were Modern Orthodox . The attitude towards college as most everyone knows hardened as the years went by.

Heilman will have none of this. If children grew up in America yeshivish and frum, it’s because the charedi influence infiltrated American Orthodoxy and captured these children from their modern parents. He is describing, what I consider, a marginal phenomenon: a Modern Orthodox day school that can’t find Modern Orthodox teachers and must import extremist yeshiva trained teachers, who in turn, indoctrinate these modern kids. It is not the way I experienced the formative years of American Judaism. My experience was of somewhat modernized parents happily sending their children to the great American yeshivas.

There were plenty of crossover rabbis. Rabbi Maryles has just written (10/25) a detailed, vivid portrait of the Skokie Yeshiva as a premier Modern Orthodox institution that in more recent years has turned charedi. Yet at various points during its Modern Orthodox period two important charedi personalities taught there, and no one gave it a second thought, Rabbi Kreisworth z’’l who became the head of the distinguished charedi community of Antwerp, and yibadel lchaim Rabbi Perlow, the Novominsker Rebbe and current head of the Moetzet Gedolei Hatorah. In the years after the war many Strict Orthodox Jews were distinguished rosh yeshivas at YU, the intellectual, spiritual center of MO. Consider the case of Rabbi Bleich who teaches at YU, who was trained elsewhere in, I assume, more charedi institutions. His books on halachic problems are read and accepted by most everyone. Is he RWMO or LWUO? No…he is Rabbi Bleich whose books are read and accepted by most everyone. I can give many more examples where the attempt to impose sociological ideal types on a fluid reality leads to ludicrous results.

The entire schematic categories of MO and UO, and the neologisms RW (right wing) and LW (left wing) UO and MO were either nonexistent or didn’t carry the rigid associations they do today. A downside of the Jewish world of blogging is that everyone, me included, has become an amateur sociologist. It is important to remember that the typological categories being used do not and never did pick out unique non-overlapping classes of people. Many Jews were and are a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

Heilman’s narrative is not only biased against charedim, it is far too neat and artificial and fails to capture the complex strands that were interwoven to create the colorful tapestry we have today. Heilman gets his story wrong because he has a story, and then makes a messy reality fit his tidy theories. His story consciously or not is permeated with the entire edifice of the sociological literature on acculturation and assimilation. His observations, to the extent that he does look outside, are totally theory laden. He sees what his theories tell him to see.

A better way would have been to have talked to people, hundreds, thousands, and listen empathically. Try to get a feel what it was to belong to Breuer’s kehila, Bais Medrash Elyon, YU, the Young Israel of Boro Park and on and on. Only then should he have put together a narrative. But with Heilman you get the feeling he can produce an answer without ever leaving his office.

46 Comments:

At 9:25 AM, Blogger Gil Student said...

R. Bleich learned in Torah VoDa'as and was very close with R. Ya'akov Kamenetsky.

 
At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post is kolea al hasaar.

But http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/?p=3459#respond

so that particular data point (re the satmar rebbe in TV) is not so useful. I'm pretty sure TV was in Williamsburg at the time, and the lecture was much like R Malkiel's courtesy lecture in satmar.

 
At 9:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oops, that link should be:

http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/?p=3459

 
At 10:29 AM, Blogger evanstonjew said...

My post was for some inexplicable reason garbled in the paragraph beginning 'There were many crossover rabbis.'I corrected it at 10:20 cst.

 
At 10:47 AM, Anonymous RWLWUOMO said...

Evanston, you rock!

 
At 11:08 AM, Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

Good post. I've long suspected that Dr. Heilman's theory is essentially hatched by listening to and participating in shabbos table talk over cholent.

 
At 8:15 AM, Blogger Ben Bayit said...

Great post.

Heilman is the result of a growing absence of heimishkeit in the MO community. By the time I got to YU types such as myself (and yourself as you describe it) were few and far in-between. The baalei tshuva have taken over the asylum in modern orthodoxy. Sure Rabbi Riskin can throw out a story of having seen the Klausenberger rebbe or Bobover rebbe in the 1950's. None of his students can even relate to this life.

 
At 9:53 AM, Blogger Toby Katz said...

You are right about the general attituge of Agudah being not so different from NK and also about the lines between different yeshivos and groups not being so rigid as they are today. We didn't have the word "chareidi" in our vocabulary, even, in the fifties, sixties, seventies.

But this I will tell you, when the UN voted to make a State of Israel, Jews were ecstatic -- very much including Aguda Jews. I wouldn't be surprised if the Satmar Rebbe himself had a moment of hisorrerus.

(I was not born yet at the time but base myself on much that I heard and read.)

 
At 9:58 AM, Blogger SephardiLady said...

Great post.

 
At 10:26 AM, Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

>You are right about the general attituge of Agudah being not so different from NK

Note, however, that today's NK was quite different from the NK in the '50s, '60s and prior.

 
At 10:29 AM, Blogger Harry Maryles said...

Absolutely brilliant critique of Heilman and evaluation of Orthodoxy as it has evolved. My experiences pretty much match yours. It is very true that the strong delineations between various streams of Orthodoxy that we have today were not as pronounced and were in fact blurred to a certain degree although they were there. It is very unfortunate that we have the strong divisions we have today. I lament this all the time. A little more tolerance would go a long way. If for example Agudah would invite Rav Hershel Schachter, of Yeshiva University to keynote the next convention, it would be revolutionary.

 
At 11:37 AM, Anonymous Steve Brizel said...

Excellent post-BTY, I reviewed Dr Heilman's book "Sliding to the Right" as a guest blogger at R Harry's blog and reached the identical conclusion, albeit via totally different logic. The book in question is truly a mile wide and an inch deep.IMO, it suffers from a lack of halachic, hashkafic and sociological depth on the subject and the endnotes contain much incorrect information. The text itself betrays the author's bias against the Torah Judaism of today and is far too reliant on review of websites and similar soft bases of data.

 
At 11:43 AM, Anonymous areiv said...

So is this where all the "areivim" have been hanging out?

 
At 12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There are thousands of Orthodox Jews who want to daven in a chassidish shteibel, perhaps headed by some miniscule rebbele. It’s not because they are so charedi themselves, but because that way of life is familiar and comfortable. Even if they go to the movies and send their son or daughter to YU, they might want their rav to wear an appropriate outfit. They want to daven nusach sfard. Heimish chassidish is a big tent, capacious space."

Your equation of 'Heimish' and 'Chassidish', 'Charedi' and 'Hassidic', and 'nusach sfard' and 'heimish' is wrong, inappropriate and offensive. According to you someone who is not Hassidic is not 'heimish' by definition ? Non-Hassidim like Litvaks, Yekkes, Sepharadim, etc., are all cold, unfriendly Jews in your book, huh ? How nice...

As is your implying that only Hassidic Rebbes are wearing 'appropriate outfits'. The only 'appropriate oufit' in your book is a costume of Polish anti-semitic nobles from 250-300 years ago ? The only appropriate hat on Shabbos and yomtov is a fur hat ? I guess Avrohom Avinu and Moshe Rabbeinu weren't dressed appropriately then, in your eyes.

In your book, nusach Ashkenaz is not 'heimish' and is one and the same with 'modern orthodox' ? If so, you are not much (if at all) better than than the man you are criticizing here. Have you not heard of the great Yeshivas that daven Ashkenaz and are far from modern orthodox ?

Please stop indulging in such gross and offensive stereotyping.

 
At 12:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

" It wasn’t so uncommon for someone to be a Munkaczer chasid, with all that such an affiliation implies, and be clean shaven and sympathize with the Mizrachi."

How can one be considered a 'Chassid' whil being 'clean shaven', when having a beard is such an important part of Hassidism ?

 
At 12:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

*while

 
At 1:49 PM, Blogger evanstonjew said...

Rabbi Maryles…Thank you for your kind words, and thank you for your recommendation of my blog on your website. I especially appreciate these kind words coming from you. I know you have become a strong and clear voice for a centrist conception of Orthodoxy. I myself have a certain taste for the edges,so it means a lot to me that you consider my presentation balanced. I continue to read your blog with great interest and benefit.

 
At 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Tress who was the head of the agudah in those years sent his daughters to satmar and pupa rather than bais yackov so that they shouldnt learn ivrit (hebrew) AMAZING BUT TRUE

 
At 1:56 PM, Blogger evanstonjew said...

Anonymous: Your comment is so very interesting and helpful in ways you may not fully appreciate. Tomorrow I will post a piece on heimish chasidish. If necessary I will write a third post, because I believe the issues go to the core of many Jews self representations. Second it was far from my intent to indulge in gross stereotyping. In my book it is like this:there is a nonadjectival use of heimish. There are heimish chasidish and heimish litvish, and litvish and chasidish, and heimish that is neither litvish or chasidish, sort of all purpose heimish. I was only talking about the subgroup of heimish that self identify as chasidish. And yes, of course, there are litvish heimish, as well as litvish and most importantly litvish wanna be’s who are not heimish. And there are chasidish people and chasidish wanna be’s who are not heimish. "Litvish", "chasidish" and "heimish" are not aspirational terms but achievement words like "pregnant." Trying to be pregnant isn’t pregnant.

As for outfits you have a tin ear, with all due respect.I never implied only fur. There are times when there is an ironic undercurrent ("outfit") in what I write. You would have caught this if you weren’t so angry. As for my equating nusach Ashkenaz with MO, I wrote yesterday about Oberlander. Tell me the last time you read a blogger allude to Mattesdorf,etc. and the tradition of nonchasidish German speaking Jews who daven Ashkenaz. As for my being ignorant of Litvisher yeshivos, I am left speechless.

It is wonderful to see such passion about heimish and I hope you continue to comment

 
At 2:09 PM, Blogger evanstonjew said...

Steve Brizel…So here we have the blogosphere in agreement about Heilman. We blog and kvetch and he writes the books.I have read your forceful and intelligent comments on Rabbi Maryles and elsewhere. I have no idea who you are, but I imagine you to be young and energetic enough to write a book about Orthodoxy, especially MO in all its different aspects, where you seem to have a special expertise. I, for one would be interested in seeing your understanding of MO,its theology, ideology and history in book form.

 
At 3:29 PM, Anonymous Steve Brizel said...

Thanks for your comments. Dr. Heilman (as well as R D Marc Shapiro) is a writer whose quantity in terms of articles, books and quotes to the secular and Jewish media far outweigh the quality of the same and his purported knowledge of the scope of Orthodoxy. Heilman's first book on the Charedim of Jerusalem was excellent. He "went native" and interviewed Roshei Yeshiva, community spokesmen and members of the community. "Sliding To The Eight" is an exercise in LW MO agit prop that one hears and sees at well too many Shabbos tables and in MO shuls dressed up in the academic tones of sociology and anthropology. If Heilman was interested in the effect of the web, he should have discussed the best blogs such as Hirhurim and R Harry's which are the only locations where very substantive and heated hashkafic discussions take place between Bnei and Bnos Torah of various hashkafos as opposed to the "preaching to the converted" tones of the Orthodox media and conventions.

Thanks for your comments re my posts here and elsewhere. I am not a historian or a biographer by profession. However, IMO,in order to write a decent book or history of MO, one would have to explore the roles and evolution of YU, RIETS, the OU/NCSY and NCYI as well as RZ.Such a work would invariably have to focus on the role of RYBS and his influence as well.The relationship between MO and the Charedi world and the twin phenomena of "flipping out" and "dropping out" would also have to profiled as part of MO's problems as well. It is a book that needs to be written, but by someone without an axe to grind or fear of retribution by the past, present and future power players in these institutions.I don't think that either a past or present "macher" can render the subject proper justice.

 
At 4:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steve: Perhaps it would be too much to expect you to write a book about MO, but I really do think you should expand your blogger review of Heilman's book into a long, thoughtful, and hard-hitting review essay that should be submitted either to Tradition or to the Torah u-Madda Journal (no-- not to Milin Havivin).

lawrence kaplan

 
At 4:29 PM, Anonymous areiv said...

Evanston,

Have you considered haloscan? You are not in Kansas anymore. Your readership would be better served now that it has grown.

 
At 4:59 PM, Anonymous Steve Brizel said...

R D Kaplan-thanks for the compliments re my review of D Heilman's book. I would hesitate at expanding it because IMO it was a thorough critique of the book in issue. OTOH, an independently funded and written book on the history of evolution of MO is a dire necessity. MO should have enough integrity to realize that an ArtScroll organizational hagiography or a tell all and bare all critique will not satisfy the MO public.

 
At 5:21 PM, Anonymous mycroft said...

Steve and Prof Kaplan:
Agree history of MO might be very important.
Of course, first have to define what MO is.

Mrs Katz:
I belief the fault lines were just as great or if not greater back then-see eg provocative Issur by Rav A. Kotler et al versus Synagogue Council of America and in substance against Rav Soloveitchik. 1956.
Certainly by the early 60's I was very much aware of the fault lines between what is now called MO and Chareid Judaism.

You are right about the general attituge of Agudah being not so different from NK
Agree Agudah became pragmatic because of bakesseph yaaneh hakol-you must be in it to win it-eg money from Israeli government. To this day the state is a masui not a rasui.

 
At 5:25 PM, Anonymous mycroft said...

If for example Agudah would invite Rav Hershel Schachter, of Yeshiva University to keynote the next convention


Or if a chareidi Rav would speak at YU. Before WW 11 visiting chareidi European Rabbis routinely spoke at YU-Revel who was the only American at first Agudah meeting in 1911 invited all to speak.
R. A. Kotler in 1935 due to pressure of Rav Henken. In 1938 Rav Elchana Wasserman refused to speak at YU despite pressure from Rav Henken.
Rav Kotler comes to America and really succeeds in establishing non tolerant Orthodoxy in the US.

 
At 5:54 PM, Blogger evanstonjew said...

There is a phenomenon called 'chase the cat'. When you want a cat to come down from a tree and you approch the tree, the cat climbs higher. You walk away, the cat climbs down. Charedim are the cat.

 
At 6:40 PM, Anonymous areiv said...

IIRC, 4 chareidi gedolim recently were invited and spoke in Teaneck.

 
At 7:05 PM, Blogger SephardiLady said...

Re: Anon 12:00PM--I just can't see the sterotyping and bias of Chassidish, heimish, nussach sephard in Evanston's comments.

We all like what is comfortable and that was all I saw Evanston portray.

 
At 7:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Heilman's first book on the Charedim of Jerusalem was excellent. "

It was awful. You only say this because you probably don't know that world well. You know the MO world and so realize he doesn't know what's going on.

"He "went native" and interviewed Roshei Yeshiva, community spokesmen and members of the community."

Haga b'atzmecha, how many genuine old yishuv roshei yeshiva and community spokesmen talked to someone like Heilman, and how many LW MO.

 
At 7:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Heilman's first book on the Charedim of Jerusalem was excellent."

It was awful. You only say this because you probably don't know that world well. You know the MO world and so realize he doesn't know what's going on.

"He "went native" and interviewed Roshei Yeshiva, community spokesmen and members of the community."

Haga b'atzmecha, how many genuine old yishuv roshei yeshiva and community spokesmen talked to someone like Heilman, and how many LW MO.

 
At 7:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry for the doubling.

 
At 8:32 PM, Anonymous Steve Brizel said...

Anonymous-compare Heilman's book on the Charedim and the latest book. The first book was an attempt to interview RY, Charedim on the street, etc. The latest book is devoid of any interviews. I stand by my analysis of both books.

Mycroft-FYI, R Nossan Scherman ( ArtScroll) and R Berel Weisford ( NIRC) have both spoken in the main Beis Medrash in YU in the last two years. They were amazed and impressed at so many Bnei Torah learning with so much hasmadah, etc.. I consider visits of that nature as examples of mutual appreciation.

 
At 8:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The surname is Weisbord (Whitebeard), though I don't think his facial growth matches it yet totally.

I think he may spell his other name Beryl. If so, he is a jewel of a man !

 
At 9:28 PM, Blogger Neil Harris said...

Great post.
"A downside of the Jewish world of blogging is that everyone, me included, has become an amateur sociologist."
I'v spent almost 18 years as a Torah observant Jew and one of the downsides to the blogosphere is the rampant labeling of frum Jews. I conversations with friends in YU, Chofetz Chaim, and social settings over the years, terms like 'chardedi' and 'modern' just don't come up. To quout Rav Schwab: either you're Torah observant or you're not.

 
At 4:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"While we’re on the topic of anti-Zionism, it’s useful to remember that the American Agudah in the 50’s was far from being a pro-Zionist movement. It is my understanding, and readers can send in their own impressions, that the ideology that was dominant in Agudah, especially in Camp Agudah in those years was very close to the Neturei Karta position that is today considered over the top, off the wall, and extremist. The charedim then were less Zionist than today where many have turned more right wing pro-settler. "

Absolutely. Quasi-NK views were pretty mainstream, and today, if you hold them you are considered an extremist.

Admittedly, the situation on the ground has changed.

 
At 8:25 AM, Anonymous Naftali said...

I haven't read Heilman's book so I can't comment on it, but if we are going to commission someone to write the story of Modern Orthodoxy, I would be suggest that the author touch on two issue that I think merit discussion: The relationship between American MO and Israeli Dati-Leumi -- the extent to which they draw inspiration from and reinforce each other. Israeli Dati Leumi is quite withdrawn, inward looking, and suspicious of and uncomfortable with secular culture. Many US MOs spend significant time in Dati Leumi institutions. Beyond that, MO identity is bound up with Zionism, and Dati Leumi preaches a very specific brand of Zionism that has a great deal to say about relations between anyone who is not of the tribe.

The other issue that our author might discuss is the status of Talmud Torah in the Orthodox community, and the extent to which TT is a guide in determining attitudes and conduct. My own impression is that the level of TT is lower than we let on. I understand from internal testing done at leading Yeshivot Hesder that achievements in this area are disappointing. This is not to question the sincerity of the commitment, only to question what are the bottom line results. Halakhic discussion revolves around lightening rod issues, hallel on yom haatzmaut, negia, Shira Cahdasha, returning territories, etc. One hardly hears casual discussions about difficult sugyot as I would hear when my father's friends from European yeshivot gathered to shmooz. They swam in the sea of Talmud like fish. TT made them happy. What happens to a society that is not particularly excited or interest in what it claims to be dearest.

 
At 8:44 AM, Anonymous Steve Brizel said...

Naftali-Take a look at a few of RAL's essays on the future of MO. RAL's views on this subject are MO youth in the Galus are far more familiar with secular culture than the Yam HaTalmud.Many MO mchanchim know and bemoan the fact that Talmud competes for and with attention with secular studies, AP and extra-curricular activities, thus leaving the year in Israel as the last possible chance for many students to develope any Ahavas HaTorah and growth as a a Ben Torah.

 
At 12:05 PM, Blogger LitaLives said...

Steve Brizel said...

"Mycroft-FYI, R Nossan Scherman ( ArtScroll) and R Berel Weisford ( NIRC) have both spoken in the main Beis Medrash in YU in the last two years. They were amazed and impressed at so many Bnei Torah learning with so much hasmadah, etc.. I consider visits of that nature as examples of mutual appreciation."

I am not sure that the Rabbis you mentioned are front row RW charedi, however the point you are trying to make le'shevach I certainly see as being le'gnai.

You mean to say that until they showed up for their guest appearance in YU, they did not know that serious Torah is being learned there??!!

If that is the case, it is a very sad commentary on today's UO Rabbis.

 
At 12:09 PM, Blogger evanstonjew said...

Ben bayit...run this by me again...
"The baalei tshuva have taken over the asylum in modern orthodoxy."How so, do you have any estimate of percentages?

anonymous 1..."the lecture was much like R Malkiel's courtesy lecture in satmar." I disagree. In both cases it's more of a haskama, a saying though we look different on the surface we recognize each other as ehrlicher yiddin with similar goals. In the R.Cutler case it also has political anti-Zionist overtones.

mississipi fred mcdowell...I agree wholeheartedly. I believe the old yishuv types, Rav Diskin and Rav Y.C. Sonnenfeld and even Reb A. Blau would never be maskim to the current amalgam of publicity hogs. Many other supporters of those years would also cringe if they were alive.

Question...since everyone seems to agree the Agudah was closer to N.K. then and now, do we finally have an example of how charedi society is becoming less black and farfrumt?

 
At 3:15 PM, Anonymous Steve Brizel said...

Ben Bayit is correct to a degree. I know of many NCSY alumni( both BTs and FFBs who grew as Bnei and Bnos Torah) who are OU officers and board members and who are rabbanim, mchanchim, and lay activists both in the US and Israel.

Litalives-Wake up and smell the coffee-ArtScroll's chief editor and a Mashgiach of Ner Yisrael strike me as front line representatives of the American Charedi world.ArtScroll's treatment of RYBS, RIETS, RZ and MO in general is 100% the Charedi view.Some attribute this to the pressures of the Charedi street.Others, including myself, view their hashkafic works as a Charedi dictated catechism on hashkafa where none previously existed in Jewish history. It was nice of ArtScroll to allow its Machzor to serve as the default text for the Mesoras HaRav Machzor that included many insights of RYBS-but the Maczhor was not published by ArtScroll.

NIRC may be viewed in some quarters as the RIETS of the Charedi world but IMO, it is not close vis a vis what a talmid can take in college, etc.NIRC is and will always be quite Charedi on many issues, aside from its toleration of talmidim going to college.

I have heard from more than one person there that they were impressed with the quanity, quality and hasmadah of the Bnei Torah in the Beis Medrash.Like it or not,many Charedim view RIETS ( as opposed to YU) as if it is a Makom Treife/Passul with no serious Torah being learned there.

I know that RHS is always accorded a great deal of Kavod HaTorah when he visits NIRC and that he gave a shiur to a chaburah in the Mir last winter. I also know that R B Simon, one of the many young RY in RIETS, a talmid of RHS (and the author of two wonderful Sefarim on Breishis and Shmos that run the gamut from the Satmar Rav ZTL to RYBS in content[Imrei Baruch])met with the then Satmar Rav ZTL in Miami one winter to discuss some iyanim in Hilcos Mikvaos because the Satmar Rav ZTL was known as a huge Talmid Chacham, and especially in Hilcos Mikvaos. The Satmar Rav ZTL had no idea that RIETS had kollelim, let alone a kollel that was learning Hilcos Mikvaos. I consider that visit another example of mutual appreciation, as opposed to approval. IOW, Talmud Torah created an avenue for a means of appreciation in both R Scherman and R Weisbord giving shmueezen in RIETS's main Beis Medrash , RHS being accorded Kavod HaTorah and for R Simon discussing Hilcos Mikvaos with the Satmar Rav ZTL. I think that appreciation is a mcuh more realistic and intellectually honest approach than mutual approval.

 
At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rabbi Berel Weisbord attended and graduated from MTA in the 60s (he was a classmate of my brother) and went to YC for one or two years before he swtiched to Ner Yisrael. Perhaps he was surprised at the difference between the level of learning in his days and the greatly improved level of learning now.

Steve: I still feel that you should -- OK only slightly -- revise your review essay and seek to publish it in either Tradition or The Torah U-Madda Journal. It will carry more weight there.

lawrence kaplan

 
At 5:39 PM, Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

Reb Steve

>Litalives-Wake up and smell the coffee-ArtScroll's chief editor and a Mashgiach of Ner Yisrael strike me as front line representatives of the American Charedi world.ArtScroll's treatment of RYBS, RIETS, RZ and MO in general is 100% the Charedi view.Some attribute this to the pressures of the Charedi street.Others, including myself, view their hashkafic works as a Charedi dictated catechism on hashkafa where none previously existed in Jewish history. It was nice of ArtScroll to allow its Machzor to serve as the default text for the Mesoras HaRav Machzor that included many insights of RYBS-but the Maczhor was not published by ArtScroll.

I think you are severely mistaken regarding R. Scherman. He is not, nor is he regarded as yeshivish/ haredi leader. At all.

However, like the Romm people he is one of the heads of a powerful and influential press which is shaping hearts and minds.

It is important to note that he is not viewed by the olam as a leader, nor does he view himself to be a leader, nor do the actual leaders view him to be a leader. You will never find, for example, a haskama that he wrote for something. No one would consider it worth anything more than something written by stam a rabbi.

That said, even though he probably does not perceive himself or his company with shaping a vision, rather thinking that their work is both integrity-filled and true to visions set by those they regard as the leaders, it is nontheless true that the choices he and they make DO shape hearts and minds.

But do not forget that while Artscroll is allowed as a vehicle for spreading the seeds of yeshivish/ haredi (and to a lesser extent, heimish) outlooks it is not considered high caliber by "real" yeshivish people. It is considered something meant for those who need it; a better alternative to suspect translations and compilations which predate Artscroll.

Anyway, point is that R. Scherman's visiting RIETS is really not some sort of revelatory moment when the haredim sent one of their leaders to YU. And the Artscroll editors *do* look over their right shoulders. As you may well imagine, I have inside sources. Staying in the good graces of those who are actually predisposed to regard the work of translating a great part of the Hebrew canon into English is an obssession with the company. Take that as you like.

 
At 12:48 PM, Anonymous Steve Brizel said...

Missippi Fred McDowell-R Scherman is the editor of a publishing company that sells the Charedi hashkafic line and which definitely looks over its right shoulder. Why else would the Mossad HaRav Kook Ritvas be refered to as the "MHK edition"? I know that he is not considered a Gadol, etc. However, it cannot be denied that ArtScroll is a proverbial 800 pound gorilla as to what is deemed as acceptable hashkafic material and authors "worthy" of its imprint,

 
At 4:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It should also be noted that Rabbi Weisbord of NIRC's sister is married to Rabbi JJ Schachter so he is very familiar with YU.

 
At 5:34 AM, Blogger Calev-Ben-David said...

You could read all over about what you writing.. but it all comes to a belief and knowledge that G-d created the world.

 

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