Volume 14 Number 22
                       Produced: Thu Jul 14 22:54:10 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Charedi behavior and Ahavat Yisrael
         [Adam P. Freedman]
Charedi communities/Chasidei Gur
         [Justin M. Hornstein]
Chumrot and corruption
         [Eli Turkel]
Haredi/Centrist Education and their discontents
         [Shalom Carmy]
Yeshivos and Kollelim
         [Chaya Gurwitz]


From: Adam P. Freedman <APF@...>
Date: Thu, 14 Jul 1994 10:14:54 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Charedi behavior and Ahavat Yisrael

With regard to the posted story about the behavior of the Chassidim in Bnei
Brak when a car intruded on their Shabbat, a responding poster stated:

> 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.           

It seems to me, especially in these days prior to Tisha B'Av, that this
attitude, although understandable, and, perhaps, correct in fact, is not
a constructive approach towards increasing one's individual mida (character
trait) of Ahavas Yisroel (love of fellow Jews). We should instead try to
give these individuals the benefit of the doubt, and to construct in our
minds a scenario in which their behavior was, FOR THEM, if not for us,
in fact correct and l'shem Shamayim (for the sake of Heaven).

How might one do this? In the case of the Bnei Brak story, imagine if
previous to this incident, a driver had taken a short cut through the
community on Shabbat, and due to the residents' lack of anticipation of
a car and the driver's not anticipating pedestrians who don't expect
cars to be around, the driver accidentally hits and kills (h"v) a
resident. It would be completely understandable, and possibly the
correct behavior, to forcefully demonstrate to any other drivers
ignoring the "no entry on Shabbat" signs that this is wrong and must not
be done. The driver would then promulgate this information, it is hoped,
to all other drivers.

An observer only seeing this "forceful demonstration" would naturally
draw incorrect conclusions from his seeing only a part of the story.

We are, as I understand, obligated to hunt for these types of "excuses"
when we see, or just as often, hear, of behavior which is, on the
surface, highly objectionable. This is the way to deal with Lashon Horah
(gossip) and to minimize its affect on us.

On M-J, this was done extensively in trying to understand the seemingly
antisocial behavior of various G'dolim, both present and past. We
Am-Haaretz (everyday) Jews deserve the same sort of effort to at least
understand, if not condone, our actions. I would add that this applies
even to politicians and the current leadership of Israel: although we
may be outraged by their actions, before calling them goyim, rodfim,
reshaim, etc. (various perjorative terms), we should ask ourselves, are
their actions understandable given their knowledge and experience base,
and might they in fact be acting L'Shem Shamayim as they see it (and,
dare I say it, in G-d's eyes as well)?

For any of these people, might their actions be, in halacha, correct for
THEM?  We might be forbidden to do X, Y, and Z, but that doesn't mean
that everyone is. What Pinchas was permitted to do and praised for
doing, would have been completely prohibited to most other Jews.

May we continue to look for ways to decrease our Sinat Chinam
(undeserved dislike [mild translation]) of our fellow Jews, and to
understand and constructively educate them on the path towards
increasing Ahavat Yisrael and ending this long Galut.

Adam Freedman


From: Justin M. Hornstein <jmh@...>
Date: Thu, 14 Jul 1994 13:21:04 -0400
Subject: Charedi communities/Chasidei Gur

In issue 16 there was a call to find some Zechut for the Jewish people
in terms of how Charedi communities are constituted. After learning the
other night, Seth Kadish reminded me of some very positive aspects of
how Chasidei Gur have consitituted their communities in Israel.

The Gerer Rebbe has apparently been sensitive to many of the social
pathologies that have arisen in some parts of Charedi society and
has given guidelines for Chasidei Gur, in order to keep communities afloat.

1. Maintaining large concentrated Gerer enclaves in Jerusalem and B'nai
Brak have been discouraged. When one thinks of where Gerer chasidim
live, Arad springs to mind.

2. Full time learning seems to have a limit, say 5-10 years.

3. I'm not sure what level of secular training is encouraged/tolerated,
but the Chasidim do work and participate in general communal activities,
including, I believe, army activites.

4. Monetary guidelines for things like weddings, maybe even
apparel/Sputik (Gur cylindrical Shtreimel) prices have been given to
impose sanity on things that easily get out of hand and wreck
personal/communal finances.

I remember speaking to some of Chasidei Gur in Israel about one or two
of these things; they were most genial and forthcoming about themselves
and their community. I'm not sure if there are expectations of the Gadol
HaDor eminating from their community, but there are other forms of
Gadlut, to be sure.
						Justin M. Hornstein


From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Thu, 14 Jul 1994 13:29:32 -0400
Subject: Chumrot and corruption

     There has been much discussion lately of corruption in the yeshiva
world and have nasty incidents in Bnei Brak. At the same time there has
been an ongoing discussion on chumrot. I feel there is a connection
between these that has not been stressed enough. While I agree with much that
Arnie Lustiger wrote, I feel that he has unjustly singled out some
institutions and that these problems are found throughout orthodox life.
There is a famous story, from the middle ages, of a traveler who came
to a city and saw someone who was very mericulous in his prayers. This
traveler then gave him his money to watch over shabbat. After shabbat
this super-religious person denied ever receiving the money. The story
concludes with how the local rabbi was able to find and prove the theft
and return the money to its proper owner. Thus, it is not a new
phenomenon there is little connection between chumrot and financial
   The main problem is that most rabbis and yeshivot stress chumrot in
man-God relationships (i.e. Orach Chaim and Yoreh Deah) and very little
in relations between humans and especially husband-wife (i.e. Choshen
Mishpat and Even haEzer). Very few of us are machmir when it comes to
paying our taxes which is clearly incorporated in Dina demalchuta dina.
How many shop on the Lower East Side to avoid paying sales tax (which
obviously the state must collect anyway). I was just reading that Rav 
Soloveitchik was very careful in filling out his tax forms. He also felt
that one violated the law of "lifne iver" if one shopped in a store that
did not pay sales taxes. It is well known that the custom agents in Israel
are specially careful of charedim based on the their observation that they 
are more likely to smuggle. I am personally aware of several American
boys studying in Israel in various yeshivot that support themselves by
bringing into Israel  electrical appliances for sale. Shas (a religious
sefardi party in Israel) has one ex-minister in jail and several others
under investigation.  Other religious parties have their share of scandals
including illegal voting.  Their have been many rumors of religious parties 
funneling government money to illegal political purposes. The general attitude 
seems to be that the end justifies the means. Supporting yeshivot and other
religious institutions is justified no matter what is required. I
remember reading of several knesset members who were released from their
vows (hatarat nedarim) before taking office so that they would not
be bound (religiously) by any commitments to the government. While much of
this involves haredi parties the Mizrachi party has also had its scandals.

     I am particularly disturbed by the discussion of the relationship of
Dina demalchuta dina to the state of Israel. There is a famous Ran that
claims that it does not apply to the country Israel since every Jew has
the right to live in Israel without needing government permission. First
of all, many acharonim point out that one cannot accept the Ran literally
since that would imply that any Jewish government in Israel could not
collect taxes to build roads, sewers, hospitals etc. Thus, even the
Ran must admit that it is legal to collect taxes, customs etc. in
Israel under some law, whatever it is called. More important there are
numerous rishonim that disagree with this Ran. I find it very strange that
those people who are machmir on everything concerning shabbat and
kashrut all of a sudden find a leniency (i.e. Ran) to rely on to engage 
in all sorts of cheating.

    I once read a story about Rav Chaim of Voloshin who refused to
interfere in a fight over a slughterer (shochet). He said that the whole
fight was over a rabbinical issue while "machloket" (fighting) itself
is forbidden by the Torah. I know of too many cases where a chumrah
led to many people being upset or embarassed. Much of the hatred of
the non-religious to the religious in Israel is caused by lack of
concern of the religious to the irreligious as illustrated by the
story Meir Lehrer. Sorry to say that story was not an isolated

    In summary I would be much more impressed with people who practice
chumrot if their chumrot also included charity, not embarassing others,
not cheating on other people, organizations or governments and even
being machmir in how they treat family members. Let me stress that I
know of some people who have these qualities but they are not the
typical religious person.



From: Shalom Carmy <carmy@...>
Date: Wed, 13 Jul 1994 22:34:32 -0400
Subject: Haredi/Centrist Education and their discontents

One point has gone unnoticed in the very vigorous debate about the
failings of Haredi society, morals and education. One of the earliest
participants in the M-J discussion suggested that the Haredi world
encourages young men (and their spouses) to aim at becoming a
Rosh-Yeshiva or bust. Given the finite number of RY positions, and the
limited abilities of most bachurim, many must leave the Kolel and make a
living in a world for which they lack training. The writer goes on to
deplore the unwillingness of the Yeshiva world to treat secular jobs or
LOWER LEVELS OF HINNUKH as attractive careers.

My impression (confirmed by others, both Haredim and sympathizers with
Torah uMadda) is that the Haredi community in the US treats its
elementary school teachers with great respect, and I'm specifically
referring to male Rebbeim. (What about salaries? I really don't know...)

One thing that infuriates non-Haredi Orthodox is the infiltration of our
educational system by Haredi Rebbeim who subvert, subtly or overtly, the
official orientation of the school on such matters as secular studies,
Zionism, attitudes towards Gentiles and so forth. It seems to me that we
would have less cause for annoyance were modern Orthodoxy to encourage
its best minds and spirits to dedicate their lives to Hinnukh and
Rabbanut. I know the arguments contra: pay, working conditions, much,
much too much political infighting. But if there is a religious will,
there ought to be a way.

If we want to do something about the negative features of Haredi
influence on our religious lives, we had better start to try. If we
don't, it would seem, we have only ourselves to blame.

Shalom Carmy
"May the days of mourning be transformed into days of joy."


From: <gurwitz@...> (Chaya Gurwitz)
Date: Wed, 13 Jul 94 09:27:51 EDT
Subject: Yeshivos and Kollelim

Arnie Lustiger claims that the Yeshiva world is a "sociological
failure".  He points to the current economic crisis and to the "glut" of
Kollel yungerleit who cannot find positions within the Yeshiva

By these measures we would have to call the New York financial community
a "sociological failure".  The financial sector is clearly facing an
economic crisis.  There are thousands of MBAs, middle level managers,
etc., who cannot find employment in their fields.

The NY Times recently reported that many prestigious private
universities have fallen on hard times and are being forced to cut costs
and expand their fund raising activities.  There is certainly a dearth
of academic positions for new Ph.D.s.  Will we label academia a
"sociological failure"?

Clearly, the Yeshiva world, along with many other areas of society, will
have to adapt to the current economic climate.  But to brand it a
"failure" (in any sense) is simply outrageous.

Arnie, and others, seem to be laboring under a misconception.  Most
Kollel families are not living in poverty.  They may drive beat-up cars
and wear last year's styles, but they are getting by. They attempt to
stay in Kollel as long as possible, but when it is no longer feasible,
they pursue careers in business or professions. (The fact that there are
many applicants for a local Aguda rabbinate indicates that these people
would prefer to remain involved in Torah leadership and scholarship --
it does not mean that they will not consider other employment, or other
venues, if necessary.)

Arnie also writes
> ... My point was that the
> basis for the Yeshiva/ chassidishe social crisis is their antipathy
> towards professional careers. 
> ... The Yeshivos are not producing professional "Zevuluns" 

I don't understand the bias against businessmen. After all, the
prototypical Zevulun was a merchant - "Zevulun le-chof yamim yishkon"
(Zevulun dwelled at the shores of the sea [and engaged in commerce]).

In a related posting, Josh Rapps writes:
>The more interesting phenomenon to me is the attitude of the girls and
>girl schools in the right wing communities. .... 
>Many of these girls might be hoping that their husband will turn out to
>be the next Gadol Hador.  

This quote seems to be in line with the recent "voting" on Gedolei
ha-Dor in m-j.  Despite the impression one gets from reading m-j, bnai
Torah are not running for office as the next Gadol Hador.

At the risk of sounding trite and drippy, I would characterize the the
"attitude" and concerns of bnai Torah and their wives as "ki heim
chayyenu ve-orech yomeinu u-vahem nehege yomim va-layla" (For they [the
Torah and mitzvos] are our life, and the length of our days, and in them
we will meditate day and night].  These families are opting for a
lifestyle in which learning Torah is central. Their hope is to do their
share "le-hagdil Torah u-le-haadeerah".

Chaya Gurwitz


End of Volume 14 Issue 22