Volume 14 Number 16
                       Produced: Thu Jul 14  0:20:10 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Charedi Yeshivos: Then and Now
         [Mechy Frankel]
Chareidi Bashing
         [Hayim Hendeles]
Reaction to Bnei Brak Story
         [Lou Steinberg]
Yeshiveshe, Chassidehe, etc.
         [Yosef Bechhofer]
Yissacher & Zevulun or Haredi Yeshivas or whatever we're calling thi
         [Susan Slusky]


From: Mechy Frankel <frankel@...>
Date: Wed, 13 Jul 1994 12:43:08 -0400
Subject: Charedi Yeshivos: Then and Now

Meir Lehrer's distressing description of an incident in his Benei Berak
neigborhood and A. Lustiger's provocative description of Charedi
yeshivos as a sociological failure (which I don't happen to agree with)
as well as R.  Alderstein's spirited defense of an idyllic yeshiva
society (which I also don't see) have all catalyzed the following

1. My starting point, however, as well as focus, is a bit different. I'd
like to consider R. Eliyahu Dessler's (z"l) teshuva on an educational
issue (end of Vol 3. of Michtav M'Eliyahu). The question posed involved
the desire to establish a "seminar lemorim" apparently a "modern" torah
educational institution which would provide (along with "ketzas torah"
in R. Dessler's tellingly descriptive summation of such generic
enterprises) a secular education of some sort whose graduates would
obtain a teaching degree - which would allow them to obtain jobs at
institutions where such certification would be expected. The concern of
R. Dessler (who responded quite negatively to the suggestion) did not so
much address the abstract permissibility of such an enterprise as it
worried about the potential harm which might be befall a traditional
yeshiva already established in that area - through competition for the
hearts and minds of talmidim, thus causing the potential loss of a
future gadol who might stray into this less desirable alternative.

2. What is most interesting is R. Dessler's further recap and
appreciation of the historical divide in the previous century between
the Hirschian educational paradigm in Western Europe which established
strong and religiously frum "day schools" in the torah im derech eretz
philosophy (without straying into a discussion of exactly what that
meant - probably in the category of those things that are recognizable
when you see them -please no bad jokes) and the traditional Eastern
European (though he really only means Litvak) style pure yeshiva. While
he aknowledges the successes of the former in producing generations of
committed and frum baal habaatim with some learning, he felt that only
the pure yeshivos produced the greatest gedolim. So far hard to argue.
it stands to reason that, on the average, those who spend more time
learning are going to be better at it - though yichidei segula
counter-examples are also not hard to find.

3. What I wanted to focus on as more problematic, and I think relevant
to today's discussion, is R. Dessler's description of the fate of
yeshiva "failures". The 19th century yeshiva as perceived by R. Dessler
was an elitist institution, with its clear focus on producing not
learned (ketzas) baal habaatim, but true talmidei chachamim and gedolim.
Clearly many more entered the intake than emerged through the narrow end
of the funnel as full fledged gedolim. Many could not take the pressure,
or didn't possess the sheer intellectual talent to hack it, and dropped
out. Rather than reflecting a warm, mutually supportive and respectful
infrastructure between the rebbeim and those who learn that avodas
hashem can continue outside the walls of yeshiva per R.  Alderstein's
aschalta digeula depiction of a yeshiva society, R. Dessler describes
the real fate of those who dropped out during the glory days of Litvishe
yeshivas as follows. Those who sought to turn to a profession (and
acquire thereby a professional education) to make their way in life were
dropped like a hot potato (obviously I'm paraphrasing), and cut off from
further contact with the yeshiva. those who did not (turn to a
profession) were aided by the yeshiva rabbonim to find an expressly
menial or unattractive job e.g. working in a store (R. Dessler's
example, not mine.) and such like, which would enable them to (perhaps)
eak out a parnosa, but not present an attractive alternative model to
the still striving yeshiva boys.

4. This (relative) disregard for the fate of the many so that the very
few gedolim might more likely emerge (and R. Dessler goes out of his way
to emphasize, by quoting a maimra chazal, that even though many fall and
the very few survive - bezeh chafetz hashem) contrasted positively with
the Western European success at mass education but lower (perhaps zero
in R. Dessler's estimation - a bit unclear) gedolim production rate. It
would seem that these educational and moral choices are precisely being
replayed in our own day and that R. Dessler's opinion (see also the next
letter in Michtav M'Eliyahu where he discusses a related educational
issue with the Chazon Ish - who unequivocally assurs studying for a B.A.
degree while learning in a tora institution) is not unobjectionable
(after all the Hirsches and Hildesheimers did make different choices.
An analogous morally ambiguous situation - though perhaps not to a
Litvak - arises from the famous description by R. Yisroel Salanter of
his feelings following a visit to R. Hildesheimer's girls shiur).

5. It has occurred to me (as also suggested by M. Lehrer), with no
particular access to the sociological data, that there may be
significant differences between Charedi society in Israel and the
States, particularly with regard to the issue of yeshiva dropouts. I
believe it is relatively rare (though some of my talented Satmarer
cousins have indeed managed it) in the US to totally avoid some basic
functional level secular education even in nominally Charedi
institutions. As well, the US economic matrix is so large and diverse
that many of the dropouts do mange to find business niches within the
wider business world. But in Israel (I'm guessing) the potential for
avoiding some basic secular education in Charedi circles is much
brighter and the prospects for the dropout are much grimmer - more akin
to the 19th century model (approvingly) recalled by R. Dessler where a
self-contained society produced more luftmenschen than gedolim.

6. R. Alderstein's idyllic description on the other hand is quite
appealing. I would certainly hope that such conditions might obtain
somewhere and it would be interesting if people involved with or more
knowlegable of specific Charedi yeshiva sociological realities,
especially in Israel, might share their insights with the list.

Mechy Frankel                                    W: (703) 325-1277
<frankel@...>                              H: (301) 593-3949


From: Hayim Hendeles <hayim@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 94 11:43:39 -0700
Subject: Re: Chareidi Bashing

> 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!!
 	... [story of irreligous driver ignoring warning
 	about driving in Chareidi neighborhood on the Sabbath] ...
> 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
> ...

 As I once heard from a great man, "never judge a movement by its
 followers". There are countless stories about the love and compassion
 displayed towards *all Jews* by the great Chassidic leaders. This is
 what Chassidism teaches; and if you wish to judge Chassidism, do so on
 this basis - not on the basis of the reckless behavior of these 35
 individuals cited above who have failed to learn this lesson.

 Wherever you look, you can find both good and bad. Unfortunately, the
 bad always seems to make a greater impression then the good, and this
 is what we remember. 

 The following story is worth repeating:

 When World War 2 ended, Reb Leizer Silver zt"l was asked by the
 American government to visit and provide whatever aid he could to
 the survivors in the concentration camps.

 In one particular camp he met a Jew, who had become irreligious in the
 camps. This man told Rabbi Silver that he gave up his religion after
 witnessing one Jew, who somehow or another was able to smuggle a
 Siddur (prayer book) into the camps, would only "lend" it to other inmates
 in exchange for their daily rations. (I don't need to tell you what
 this meant.) After witnessing such an act by a supposedly religious
 Jew, the man said he could no longer remain religious.

 To which Rabbi Silver replied to him: "You foolish person! [I don't
 know a better translation.] Instead of looking at the individual
 who rented out the Siddur, why don't you look at all those Jews who
 were willing to give up their meager rations in exchange for the
 use of the siddur!".
 Recently, there have been a number of posts criticizing one segment
 or another of the Jewish people. Yet, I cannot recall any recent posts
 commending any outstanding attributes of Klal Yisroel. Isn't
 there some good amongst us, which is worth posting? 

 Perhaps, especially during these 9 days preceding Tisha Bav, we ought
 to concentrate on finding the good in other Jews - not the bad.

 To paraphrase a Chassidic Rabbi: We all understand what "sinas chinam" is.
 But how come we can't understand what "ahavas chinam" is? 

 I close with the following thought from the Opter Rebbe (a great Chassidic
 Rabbi of the last century):

 We all know there is a mitzvoh of "Ahavas Yisroel" - loving other Jews.
 But what does this really mean?

 If you love someone because he is very pious, that reflects a love of
 piety - not of Jews. If you love someone because he is very learned,
 that reflects a love of learning - not of Jews. If you love someone
 because he displays chesed [kindness and compassion], that reflects a
 love of chesed - not of Jews. 

 But if you love someone who is not pious, not learned, does not display
 chesed, and yet you love him anyway only because he is Jewish --
 that is true Ahavas Yisroel [love of a fellow Jew].

 May we all merit to reach this level.

Hayim Hendeles


From: <lou@...> (Lou Steinberg)
Date: Wed, 13 Jul 1994 12:10:58 -0400
Subject: Reaction to Bnei Brak Story

I keep thinking about the article I read yesterday in M-J (I've deleted
it so I don't have the author or some details), in which were told of
someone driving on Shabbat and the highly improper way some other Jews
reacted.  The question that runs through my mind is, "Why did you tell
me this?"  So that I can feel superior to 'those people'?  Has V'Shalom!
Everyone involved - the driver, his family, and the people who reacted
to him - are my family.  How can I feel anything but pain when I imagine
the punishment they are likely to get - will surely get unless they do
t'shuvah?  How can I feel anything but anger when I think of the
punishment *I* will get from this because I am responsible for them in
HaShem's eyes?

But, sadly, I must admit that at first my reaction was to feel superior
to and angry at 'those people', and to think, "I'd never be so stupid
and sinful."  Here we are in the 9 days, the period when we most feel
the suffering we have brought on ourselves by sinat chinam, and my
reaction is to separate myself mentally from my fellow Jews.  It is
precisely such feelings of separation and anger that leads those "frum"
Jews in the incident into their sin.  So maybe I have learned something.
But what do I do about it?  Try even harded to avoid thinking like that?
Sure - but isn't there more concrete I should do about it.  I just don't
know what.


From: <YOSEF_BECHHOFER@...> (Yosef Bechhofer)
Date: Wed, 13 Jul 1994 12:43:23 -0400
Subject: Yeshiveshe, Chassidehe, etc.

While I generally refrain from entering this sort of polemic, here I
feel that I have an insight and a comment:

a) Insight: As to Arnie Lustiger's claim and R. Yitzchok Adlerstein's
counterclaim concerning Yeshivos, with all due respect, I feel you are
both missing the boat :-) . In the Michtav Me'Eliyahu vol. 3 p. 353
Rabbi Dessler zt"l eloquently explains why, although it was completely
rational and frum to open a B.A. granting Teacher's Seminary in
Gateshead, he nonetheless forbade it. He says that the Eastern European
yeshivos, in contradistinction to the Western European ones, WERE NOT
geared to build Torah true societies in an optimum fashion, but rather a
la the "1000 enter Mikra and one goes out to be a Moreh Hora'a", to
produce the ONE Gadol for the next generation, and if 999 got lost, he
writes, too bad, but THAT IS THE PRICE!

What this explains is the crux of the issue (you might notice, I am not
taking sides here, rather trying to develop the context), i.e., that
Lithuanian style yeshivos don't gear themselves to Jewish Societal
Development, but rather to Gadol Production - and they know the price
and are willing to pay it.

(Therfore, any potential distraction to the competition to be a Gadol
and the concentration on becoming one -i.e. that program in Gateshead -
are discouraged.)

Now, in Encounter, I believe, Prof. Zev Lev debates Rav Dessler on the
merits of the E. European system, but that, for now, at least is
inmmaterial to the point that the philosophy of the E. European yeshivos
precludes social problem solving.

Meir Lehrer's point on Bnei Brak Chillul Hashem is terribly and
tragically right. Over this past weekend I just met a Reform Rabbi who
used to be a Yerushalayim police officer who claimed he became a Reform
Rabbi because he noted that the contact of the Yerushalayim Charedim he
came in contact with was no better than the average Chiloni's an worse.
Shame on us!

BTW, people who engage in such Chilul Hashem are clearly not learning
Torah LISHMA - to uplift and refine themselves. THey are just culturally
frum, and not truly Ovdei Hashem - Hashem yerachem.


From: <segs@...> (Susan Slusky)
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 94 17:12:37 EDT
Subject: Yissacher & Zevulun or Haredi Yeshivas or whatever we're calling this

I'm surprised that in this discussion, Yissacher & Zevulun or Haredi
Yeshivot or Hillul Hashem or whatever we're calling it lately, that no
one has brought up the follow idea: We're commanded not only to teach
our children torah, but also to teach them a trade.  And, it is said,
that if we do not teach them a trade that it is as if we are teaching
them to steal. Is this not so? And aren't the scandals that Arnie
Lustiger brought forward proofs of the validity of the statement.

Susan Slusky


End of Volume 14 Issue 16