Thursday, October 26, 2006


I just came back yesterday from a chasuna and was very exhausted from the trip. I had heard at the wedding, news travels very quickly, that Hirhurim, Rabbi Gil Student, one of the most respected bloggers in this Jewish space, said nice things about my blog. When I came home and got to see his post and the comments, I found it all somewhat overwhelming. It felt very much like I was sitting in a semi-dark room engrossed in thought and, all of a sudden, someone turned on all the lights. When a person is young, they drop in at each other’s homes without hesitation. At my age, I wouldn’t mind visiting my friends without calling, but I wouldn’t want anyone dropping in my house without a week’s notice. Here I come home, there are a thousand unexpected visitors and I forgot where I put the napkins.

So first things first. I’d like to thank Rabbi Student for being so kind and generous, and I should add courageous. I don’t believe Rabbi Student has read all my comments, but I’m sure he read enough to realize that I have and am going to say things, from time to time, that he most certainly would not agree with. It takes a certain true understanding of tolerance and pluralism on his part, to say what he said. Everyone must understand that I do not take what Rabbi Student said as a haskamah (certification of approval) on the contents of what I have written, and I am certain that it was not intended as such.

I would also like to thank all the kind people who went out of their way to say nice things about my blog in the comments section. Frequently I experiment with different voices, sometimes more funny, sometimes more moralistic, and I never quite know how it will work. So I am really pleased to see that I have not made a total fool out of myself.

In my comment on Hirhurim, I made a Freudian boo-boo. I wanted to say that my blog has twists and turns that might not be appropriate for everyone. I take my responsibility as a blogger seriously. I should have said caveat emptor, meaning buyer beware. Since my Latin is almost as good as my Greek, I made a Freudian slip and said carpe diem, which means seize the day. Here I was trying to protect people and I ended up saying don’t be so cowardly and go for it.

A number of people said that I’m writing too quickly by putting out a post every day. I know this, but my thought was to say what I had to say and stop. I wasn’t hoping to become a columnist. I’m trying to present a way of looking at Jewish life and that’s it. While I was away I realized that, although this is my intent, it’s not going to be so easy. I was working on notes for a piece on Yiddish, which I then saw could be split into two, which got me thinking about Bundists, which in turn raised issues of the thirties and forties, and all of a sudden there are eight possible posts. Writing a post everyday, indefinitely, is much too difficult for me. I’m going to cut back to three or four times a week and see what happens. It is still my goal to stop at some point.

I want to say something about the literary conceit involved in my blog. I am trying to write an allgemeiner blog, one that appeals to all segments of Jewish life. I’m especially concerned with not alienating secular liberal Jews. My goal and I know it’s a bit grandiose, is that I should be considered a definite but honest person by Jews of very different religious persuasions. In order for me to get anywhere with this conceit, I must maintain my anonymity. It is important for me to be able to write about secular Jewish life from a charedi point of view, charedi Jewish life from a secular point of view, shift tones and perspectives, and so on. Once I become the topic of conversation, it’s going to be very difficult. My feeling is that a person has to have a self that is together and coherent. It’s less necessary, in this post-modern age, to have one identity. Identities are much more fluid and there are fragments of different identities in many of us.

My intent is to write an interesting constructive blog. My goal is never to try to move furniture around. My goal is simply to put out an idea and ask people to think about it for themselves, and decide where they stand. I have a sharp tongue and, in real life, I have a colorful tongue. The way I frequently write is to work up a little passion about the topic. I said, in my first post, that a certain rabbi was either a fool or corrupt. I opted for fool. I’ll add that I remember a time, way before this rabbi became a gadol, when I and everyone else still saw him as an ordinary mortal, with an ordinary family. I do not believe there are many liberal bloggers out there today, who worked harder to provide a coherent appreciation of gadolim, Daas Torah, Kollelim and the life of Torah than myself. I stand by what I said until someone shows me how I made a mistake.

I ask everyone including those who really don’t like what I write not to out me. I am a private person with no aspirations other than trying to present a view I have about Jewish life. I should be entitled to do that without difficulties.


At 12:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Based on Gil's post, I came over here and spent a few hours reading through everything. It's nice to see a frank, yet un-offensive blog on yiddishkeit.

Keep up the good work!

At 12:29 PM, Anonymous David said...

"I stand by what I said until someone shows me how I made a mistake."

What you said was Loshon Hara. Read the introduction to the Chofetz Chaim and you will find an abundance of reasons why you made a mistake. Do you really think Hashem wants you to bring Klal Yisroel together by exploiting their Taiva for Loshon Hara?

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

If you want to maintain anonymity, remove details such as "I was in Cleveland last night for a Bar-Mitsvah."

At 1:04 PM, Blogger evanstonjew said...

Dave- thank you so much.

anonymous- good advice and consider it done. Thank you.

david- I hear what you're saying. I just can't respond without making the situation, from your point of view, worse.

At 1:09 PM, Blogger Neil Harris said...

I've enjoyed reading, so far, and understand now (regardless of your personal hashkafos) who your target audience is. Keep it up.

At 3:00 PM, Anonymous David said...

"I just can't respond without making the situation, from your point of view, worse."

What about God's perspective?

At 5:36 PM, Anonymous Rafi G said...

keep up the great posting. A post a day is great, but you write such detailed and thourough posts every time!!!

At 8:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

are you willing to tell us anything about yourself, eg how you identify religiously? what you do professionally?
We don't want to "out" you but we are nosy!!

At 12:19 PM, Anonymous curiousJewrge said...

Are you willing to retract your comment about Rabbi Scheinberg, or do you stand by your post?

Otherwise, great blog.

At 6:10 PM, Anonymous ToddV said...

I am a catholic reader of Hirhurim and I came here via Gil's link. Terrific blog.


At 8:20 PM, Blogger LitaLives said...

Dear Anonymous and curiousjewge:

Why must you know who EJ is, what his religous affinity is or worst of all whether he is willing to recant an opinion in order to win your approval.

I strongly disagree with many things EJ says, but I would never ask him to recant something. It's his ball & he can set the rules of his game.

Have the mind police taken over the Orthodox world?

At 11:47 PM, Blogger TM (Jewlicious) said...

As a secular, liberal Jew, I enjoy coming here and reading your posts when I can.

If anonymity is important to you, be careful about giving away the little identifying details. Also, if you entrust your secret to others, be advised that you are dependent upon them keeping your secret. I say this because I have had people inadvertently and innocently compromise my anonymity simply because they had certain information. When they did, the matter was entirely out of my control.

Best of luck with your blog.

At 6:58 AM, Anonymous ManWithYellowHat said...

LL said:

...or worst of all whether he is willing to recant an opinion in order to win your approval.

I strongly disagree with many things EJ says, but I would never ask him to recant something. It's his ball & he can set the rules of his game.

Have the mind police taken over the Orthodox world?

EJ may say whatever he wants, but what some want to know is whether his "fool" epithet was a slip of the pen, or he stands behind the statement. I certainly view Mel Gibson in a different light after his recent diatribe.

So inquiring minds want to know if this was just a "Mel Gibson" moment, or EJ truly believes that the orthodox leaders are fools.

At 8:33 AM, Blogger evanstonjew said...

My attitude towards gedolim and Daas Torah is touched on in my posts of 6/29, 6/30, 7/05, 7/07 and 8/15. I specifically deal with these questions in the following posts: I Love Art Scroll, So Shoot Me (8/11), Daas Torah (8/13), Gadol, Gadol On the Wall(8/14), Proust Reads Art Scroll (8/17), The Rebbitzin Vichna Kaplan(9/01), The Gedolim Are Losing Their Grip (9/20),The Blogger Unorthodox Jew (9/26) and most recently in Four Talmudists From My Youth(10/13).

To even suggest for a second that I believe THE Orthodox leaders are fools is like saying I am pro-gush emunim. I have fought the battle for an empathic understanding of charedim and their values from day one.

IMHO the situation with the rabbi who enabled Kolko to keep on going is covered in chapter 10 of the Chafetz's Chaim's sefer. The rules are complicated and reasonable people might disagree. I stand by what I said about the specific rabbi in question.

I think what might be bothering some of these 'inquiring minds' is that they can't understand how a liberal person can be so appreciative and supportive of Torah and yiddishkeit.I have said a few times my blog should be read as a secular blog.If one sentence in over 100 posts is sticking in your craw, you may not be my demographic.LOL.

At 9:16 AM, Anonymous ManWithYellowHat said...

Thanks for the clarification. Can you do me one more favor and change the date on your comments? It is beneficial for the commenters to know what day the comments were made. I believe one of your commenters showed you how to accomplish this. I'm not sure on which day, though. :) TIA.


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