Volume 14 Number 10
                       Produced: Mon Jul 11 18:43:57 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Haredi Yeshivos
         [Meir Lehrer]
Yeshivishe Community and Chillul Hashem
         [Arnold Lustiger]


From: lehrer%<milcse@...> (Meir Lehrer)
Date: Mon, 11 Jul 1994 01:10:39 -0400
Subject: Re:  Haredi Yeshivos

I just sort of clued into this "Haredi Yeshivos" topic, and I have the
following insight as a disenchanted resident of Bnei-Brak.

Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein was very passionate about his address, and I
respect him for his opinions. However, I must say that there is a big
difference between living in LA and learning Torah U.S.-Style, versus
coming to an all Charedi area in Israel.

Before making Aliyah I, upon serious reflection, I feel that I was much
much more Ruchnious (spiritual), and also far more calm and at peace
with myself. My wife and I moved to Bnei-Brak (just renting Baruch
Hashem) and now I feel as if it was a good thing we became Chozrim
b'Tshuva before we came.  The dugmot (examples/samples) I see on a
regular daily basis of Charedi Midot (manners) are so absolutely
appauling it just makes me want to spit!!

Let me just give a recent event to put things into focus.  I'll give the
dialog in ivrit (as it occurred) and translated.  Two weeks ago some guy
decided that he needed to take a short-cut through our area (on Shabbat)
in order to save time on getting somewhere. Yes, we have a sign on the
top of our street which clearly saids, "lo l'hikaness b'rechev
b'Shabbatot v'Yomim Tovim (no entrance by car on Shabbats and Yom
Tov's)", nonetheless he appearantly felt it was worth it to risk.  I was
in Shul at the time getting ready to daven Mincha, when suddenly I see
my wife run to the window of the Shul waving her arms franticly for me
to come outside. Terrified that something happened to my little
daughter, I ran out to meet her. She told me that there was a loud
ruchous going on in the street and that I must go out to investigate.

What I found when I arrived made me sick to my stomach. There were
around 35 chassidim surrounding this guys car. The signs of damage from
kicks and banging were appearant all about the car. The kiviyachol
(so-called) chassidim were all shouting violently at him and rocking his
car, while he sat there too frightened to do a thing. One of these ace
chassidim then decided to open up the back door of the car so he could
do more damage. After opening up the door I saw a young terrified mother
sitting in the back seat craddling a baby in her arms.  They were both
too frightened to even cry. At that point I started roaring at the
crowd, first to the bright chassid who opened up the car door:

"Tipesh!! Ata patachta et hadelet aval gam patachta et haorr
 bifnim harechev. v'az ma hahevdel bencha v'benehem ki achshav
 atem kolchem michalel Shabbat!!" ...
(Stupid!! You opened the car door and also (in doing so) opened
 the light in the car. And so what's the difference between you
 and them, you're all Shabbat violators!!)

Then to the crowd, but mostly to the leader who happened to be their
Rebbe (I kid you not) who was probably the loudest protestor:

"Ta'azvu otam!! T'nu lahem latzet ki kavar lamdu et hashiur sh'zeh
 lo shaveh linsoah b'Bnei-Brak b'Shabbot. Ma kara lachem? Ta'azvu!!
 Hamechonit hi muksah v'az atem kolchem avartem hamalachot d'Shabbat!"
(Leave them alone!! Let them leave, because they've already learned
 their lesson that it's just not worth it to travel through Bnei-Brak
 on Shabbos. What happened to you? Leave them alone. The car is
 Muksa [forbid to come in contact with on Shabbat] and so you have
 all violated the laws of Shabbos!!)

Their Rebbe screamed back at me that they'd not learned any lesson and
so on and so on. This really must sound like a bad B-movie, but
honestly, it's the sad truth. The driving finally realized that if he
was going to get out in one piece and protect his wife and child that
he'd better just move. So he backed up and pulled forward a few times,
forcing the crowd to move. Finally he escaped. Afterwards, as all of the
marvelous chassidim were patting themselves (literally) on the back like
some silly beer commercial, I shouted to them:

"Tipshim l'gamreh!! Im haya lifneh hadavar hazeh hasikuwi, afilu katan,
sh'hayu chozrim l'derech tshuvah... zeh lo adayin kayam! Acharay ha
nisayon hazot, ee-efshar lahem lachazor l'Torah al-pi hadugmot shel dat
sh'rau hayom. Ain simcha bazeh v'ain noach, v'ani batuach sh'afilu ain
lachem musag katan al ma asitem hayom! Achshav hem sonim et haTorah!"...
(Total morons!! If there was before this incident a chance, even a
 small one, that they would have returned to the path of Torah... this
 no longer exists! After this experience, it'll be impossible for 
 them to return to Torah according to the samples of religion they've
 seen today. There's no celebration and no pleasantry in this, and I
 am quite certain that all of you don't even have the slightest idea
 what you've done today! Now they hate Torah!)

This is not an isolated incident, as I have quite a lot more of these
sad stories to reel on about. All I can say to Rabbi Adlerstein is that,
yes, the "pure waters" of Torah can only be beneficial. However, armed
with nothing but ignorance and a pre-existing medical condition called
"total ignorance of the world around you" these waters have the same
effect as the waters of the Para Aduma. If you were Tameh (impure) and
you come to them for purity, you shall indeed be purified.  However, if
you are pure (so-called) and touch these waters you will most certainly
attain Tumah (impurity). These are people without any secular knowledge
(ergo the opening of the car door without the faintest idea that it
would make him michalel Shabbat) and no Midot to speak of as far as I've
experienced.  In our time here, we've never received even one invitation
on Shabbat, whereas everywhere else in Israel we've had plenty. When I
say, "Good Shabbos" or "Shabbat Shalom" to one of them on Shabbat, I
can't remember ever hearing a response back except maybe once.

   Before making Aliyah my wife and I would regularly have at least 20 -
30 Mishulachim (messagers on fund-raising trips) come to our house per
year. Several of them each year would stay for free by me (with pleasure
on my part), and I would make sure to feed them well and give them open
use of my house.  How sad it is to come here and see this. So don't
bother telling me how great these beacons of Torah are until you've seen
how they behave in the Reshut HaDoar (post office) or the bank. Torah
teaches us how to live with one another. The idea isn't that you can
treat others aroun you like trash in order to get quickly back to your
kolel. The idea is supposed to be that you leave your kolel for a chore,
and while outside, you are supposed to put into practice the lessons of
Torah you have just learned!

- Meir Lehrer.


From: <alustig@...> (Arnold Lustiger)
Date: Mon, 11 Jul 1994 11:12:50 -0400
Subject: Re: Yeshivishe Community and Chillul Hashem

I think that the "gadlus" of mail.jewish is the fact that it is perhaps
the only forum where members spanning the entire spectrum of the
Orthodox community can honestly debate critical issues.  I deliberately
submitted a strongly worded opinion (perhaps an understatement)
regarding Chillul Hashem in the Yeshiva/ Chassidic communities, and what
I believe to be a link between misuse of government aid with the lack of
ability for Yeshivas to support themselves. Again, I deliberately worded
it strongly, primarily because I wanted to provoke appropriately
thoughtful responses. Mail. jewish did not let me down: R. Adlerstein
has indeed provided such an opportunity.  I would now like to respond to
specific points in his post, with the hope that this will not be the end
of the debate.

R. Yitzchok writes:

>Torah, and the study of Torah, are the pure waters that give life to the
>Jewish people.  I cannot imagine how anyone who has participated in the
>explosion of Torah growth on this continent could use the word "failure"
>regarding them without choking on the word.

The words I used in my post were "Right wing Yeshivos are a sociological
failure". I would like to emphasize the adjective "sociological". I used
the word "failure", a strong word, deliberately to provoke a response. I
used the word "sociological" because, as R. Adlerstein points out very
convincingly, from a religious standpoint, the institution and
burgeoning of right-wing yeshivos itself is undeniably a phenomenal
success. My point was that the Yeshivos have not created the
infrastructure to perpetuate themselves and that as a result many of the
Yeshivos are in a crisis situation. Therefore, from a purely
sociological standpoint, the Yeshivos have not created a self
perpetuating society: hence a "sociological failure".

>Then there are the factual errors, that seem to arise from writing as an
>outsider, rather than from personal acquaintance:
>1) Chassidim and yeshivos cannot be lumped together.  To the contrary,
>chassidim have always accepted the keen necessity to be practical about
>matters of earning a livelihood, as long as religious sensitivities
>could be respected.  Problems of government fraud in this community have
>a different root cause altogether, and thus may cast doubt on Arnie's
>thesis altogether.

I am not sure of the basis for this criticism. My point was that the
basis for the Yeshiva/ chassidishe social crisis is their antipathy
towards professional careers. Recognition in the Chassidic community of
the necessity for earning a livelihood is limited to those who enter the
business world. Both the Yeshiva and Chassidic communities maintain that
pursuing a professional degree is either prohibited, to be denigrated,
or at the most allowed "bedieved" (post facto). The professional option
is precluded and open ended learning in kollel is encouraged with
questions of "parnassa" (livelihood) answered by the ubiquitous "der
Aibershter vet helfen" (G-d will provide). The point was that individual
Yeshivos have not created a self sufficient society. With the Yeshivas'
passive encouragement the graduates are often poverty stricken
"kollelleit", usually on food stamps (at least in Lakewood) who cannot
support themselves, let alone their institutions. The Yeshivos are not
producing professional "Zevuluns" who are in a position to give such
support. The lack of legitimate sources of support results in the search
for illegal sources of support. Hence the incidents of Chillul Hashem.

Paradoxically, as Josh Rapps indicated, while pursuit of the
professional career is denigrated, it is these very same professionals
who are assiduously courted by the Yeshivas as honorees at their
dinners. As a past dinner chairman for my local right wing Yeshiva, I
know how difficult it is to get these honorees to accept the position.

>2) Thousands of yeshiva graduates who wound up on the Zevulun side enjoy
>warm and intense relationships with their rabbeim and mentors, unlike
>Arnie's assertion of strain and distance.  They soon learn that there is
>avodas Hashem [real service of Hashem] outside the walls of the beis
>medrash; they understand that it is the job of yeshivos to go for broke,
>to inspire excellence and full-time commitment.  But they learn that
>once they do in fact have to leave the yeshiva for the world of
>breadwinning, they are not abandoned by their learning or their

Perhaps my perspective is indeed limited. With regard to businessmen, I
certainly agree with you. However, with regard to career professionals,
the only Yeshiva community that maintains an unbroken "kesher" with
their graduates is Ner Israel (Baltimore) and its satellites, simply
because of their toleration of college. It is difficult for me to see
how one can leave the Yeshiva against the explicit advice of
rebbeim, Roshei Yeshiva and community and then rejoin that community
after one becomes a doctor, lawyer, etc as if nothing has happened in
the interim.

>3) No slow growth in Torah institutions!  Boruch Hashem, the size of
>haredi families alone (kein yirbu) prompts a constant upsizing.  And
>haredi establishments grow in variety as well: women's schools, outreach
>organizations, vocational programs, social service agencies.  This has
>meant a constant increase of new employment opportunities, in
>contradistinction to what Arnie reports.

Perhaps. Yet the growth in Chareidi institutions, as impressive as it
may be, is clearly too slow to absorb the explosive output from Kollel.
The local Aguda shul has been looking for a Rabbi over the last few
years: the number of resumes received, most coming from Lakewood, has
been astounding.  Again, my information here is mostly anecdotal, but I
am personally aware of many Kollel yungerleit who have no hope of
employment within the Yeshiva community.

>4) Torah institutions consist of many people.  Even if the malfeasance
>of an institutional officer is ultimately proven, and a Chilul Hashem
>(c"v) results, this hardly negates the learning of all the students in
>that yeshiva who are not involved in the infraction.

My original statement is admittedly a controversial one. My statement
read "I submit (without explicit evidence) that it would have been
preferable from a halachic standpoint for these implicated institutions
to never have been created, no matter how much Torah they have
promulgated". Perhaps I am wrong, but let me try this analogy.  Let's
imagine a Yeshiva institution whose continued existence depends on a
staff who had to raise money at parlor meetings that could be held only
on Shabbos. Would there be any question as to the illegitimacy of the
Yeshiva? Is chillul Hashem any less of an avaira? Whether it "negates
the learning of all the students in that Yeshiva who are not involved in
the infraction" I really don't know.

(BTW, with regard to Hayim Hendeles argument that these accusations are
just wild press allegations, at the previous Aguda convention, R. Elya
Svei Shlita spent fully half his speech excoriating the implicated
institutions in the Pell grant scandal.)

>The author is correct.  Haredi institutions are not economically viable.
>Neither is Jewish survival through the ages comprehensible.  G-d seems
>to have a vested interest in providing artificial viability to the
>things closest to Him.  I think the sources suggest that Torah
>excellence is one of them.  Perhaps the monolithic preoccupation with
>Torah study that we have achieved can be criticized as "unreal."  Then
>again, so is the view from Yosemite Valley.  I haven't seen many
>tourists spurn its beauty because it isn't consistent with their reality
>of asphalt jungles.  We will appreciate the gift Hashem has given us for
>as long as we can hold out.  After that?  Perhaps we will make
>adjustments, as the Torah community has done many times in history.
>Perhaps we will yet see some Divine bailout that our frail minds cannot
>anticipate, but only daven for.  But know this: if it does not come, we
>- and all of Klal Yisrael - will pay a price in losing dimensions of
>Torah excellence.

The above argument is a beautiful rephrasing of the "Aibershter vet
helfen" statement. Here is where the gap between myself and Rabbi
Adlerstein is most evident, and I would appreciate if someone could help
me resolve this disagreement, since R. Adlerstein's argument point is
not just his, it is the argument of the entire Yeshiva world in one
guise or another. I maintain that the Torah expects us to develop self
perpetuating institutions as part of a viable society. The
Yissachar-Zevulun relationship is the paradigm for such a society. By
rejecting professional studies, the Yeshiva world has effectively
precluded the possibility of a self perpetuating society that does not
rely on miracles (or Reichmanns) for their continued existence.  Perhaps
the continued, unprecedented real estate bust is a wake up call to the
Yeshiva world to get its act together in this regard. In other words,
perhaps the time has come *now* as R. Adlerstein says, to "make
adjustments".  What possible right do we have (and incidentally what
Zechus [merit] do we have) to expect "the Divine Bailout".

>Reasonable people can disagree as to whether yeshivos are ignoring the
>very real problems that Arnie writes about, or are slowly beginning to
>deal with them.  In any event, Mr. Lustiger's solution is incomplete.
>Addressing the problem requires more than restoring balance between
>Yissacher and Zevulun.  It requires a gargantuan effort to stress Torah
>values of honesty, integrity, avoiding Chilul Hashem, and tools for
>withstanding nisayon [tests], not just running away from them.  This is
>what Torah life is all about.
>But to do all this requires more Torah out there, not less.  And all
>the yeshivos we can get.

What limits the amount of "Torah out there" today? Not talent from the
Yeshiva community, not commitment from the Yeshiva community, not
numbers of people in the Yeshiva community. It is the lack of money in
the Yeshiva community.

I sincerely hope that this debate continues. 

Arnie Lustiger


End of Volume 14 Issue 10