Volume 18 Number 96
                       Produced: Wed Mar 22  9:16:00 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Blinders on??? (2)
         [Rachel Rosencrantz, Frank Silbermann]
         [Ari Shapiro]
Preconceived Ideas
         [Zvi Weiss]
The Cart and the Horse
         [Eli Turkel]


From: <rachelr@...> (Rachel Rosencrantz)
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 1995 10:21:34 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Blinders on???

> >From: J. Dora Schaefer <jschaef@...>
> H. Hendeles seems to be blaming Modern Orthodoxy for something he is guilty 
> of:  

> Does shmirat shabbat undermine the relationship between the Jewish people 
> and hashem, or is this the cornerstone?  Do you truly believe that the 
> use of the crockpot on shabbat distances us from hashem?  Is the shabbos 
> clock, a more radical innovation, really a stumbling block?  It seems to 
> me (IMHO) that finding ways to include women, within halacha, in 
> _meaningful_ aspects of Judaism, and this extends to many, many aspects 

Woah! wait a second.  Are we saying that raising children is not a meaningful
aspect of Judaism?  I hope I am misunderstanding you but that is what
it sounds to me like you are saying.

> from raising children (isn't teaching talmud torah an absolutely 
> essential part of this, how can we be left ignorant with such an 
> important responsibility) to reading and hearing kiddush, megillah, and 
> hamotzi (why shouldn't a woman read megillah for other women when the men 
> have already fulfilled their obligation.  Every Purim, there are multiple 
> readings, and always women who are not able to make it to shul -- why 
> not?) is no more radical. 

Women are supposed to learn the halachas that apply to themselves.
Additionally many rabbis who would not qualify as "modern orthodox" have
stated that women should study Torah and even study of Talmud is not
prohibited, and is in fact recommended if the women would/does go on to study
college level secular studies.  (Chofetz Chaim states this.  The Lubavitcher
Rebbe states that women should study torah and chassidus (and I'm not
100% sure of the comment on Talmud but I know it is not forbiden as
many Lubavitch women's yeshiva's teach Talmud to the women.)  
Women can read the megilla for other women if there are no men to read 
and a women can read the megilla for herself if she cannot get to
the shul.  (There are various opinions on this, but many opinions
say that women can read the megilla.)  

I don't know what you think a "right wing orthodox woman" does or is
permitted to do.   My actual study is limited because I work 8 hours a day
and commute 4, but as a Chassidic woman I do the following:
Pray baruch ha shachar, birkat ha torah, pezuki de-zimra, full shacharit, 
mincha, read the daily tehilim, birthday tehilim, any additional tehilim, 
the Rebbe's tehillim read the section of the weeks parsha for today 
(Sunday read rishon, monday shaynee...etc) first in hebrew (with trop) 
then in arameic, then in hebrew (w/ trop).  I attempt to read the parsha
in English with Rashi if time permits and the haftorah, although sometimes 
this is delayed till Shabbat. On sunday I study Kitzur Shulchan Aruch with 
a chevrusa in the morning and then in the evening I study the Rebbe's sichas.  
This doesn't include what I attmept to do to establish a home for myself and 
my husband (which I think I unfortunately do a markedly poor job of, but it's 
hard to take the house on the train.) 

If I actually had a little more energy I could attend a class monday on
Chassidus and on wednesday on Torah, but I usually get home too late to
really fit that in. 

This isn't even a study schedule of a student, as much as I would like
the ability to go to Machon Channa (in Crown Heights) or Beis Channa 
(in Minnesota) where I could learn more. 

Albeit, at the moment I have no children to care for, so I can fit these
things in.  The halacha does say that if a woman has to care for children
she is allowed to reduce her prayers to a small prayer which includes
praise, a request, and thanks.  (The Baruch ha shachar or the Brachot for 
the torah can cover that.)  However, it is encouraged that a women, even
who is busy raising children, should try to at least do the Shemona Esrey 
at mincha.   Women are in no way banned from study, not required to daven,
prohibited from participating in ritual, or expected to take the back 
seat.  Their responsibilities are different, but a good portion of
this is biologically or psychologically based.  Making the house a holy
place is no small task, nor an unimportant task.  
It is not only the outside that is important, and those of us
responsible for the inside are not nearly as neglected as you seem to 
imply.  It is only when we let society convince us that home and family 
are not important when we think that women get the short end of the stick.  
The children are our future, and if the home is not established it makes 
your whole life much harder to bear.  Don't base your understanding of 
not modern Orthodoxy on stereotypes.  If you will just look below them you'll
see that we aren't quite as sepia-toned and backwards as assumed. 


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 1995 12:27:28 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Blinders on???

H. Hendeles:
>> ... a significant problem with the so called "Modern Orthodox"
>> - viz. approaching halacha with preconceived biases and opinions.
>> There is a major difference between approaching the Torah from
>> an unbiased standpoint, vs. approaching it to find support for
>> your beliefs.  
>> Unfortunately, the Torah is not interested in your opinions nor is the
>> Torah interested in my opinions. G-d did not consult us before he wrote
>> the Torah. The question we must ask is "What does G-d want?" --- and
>> NOT "where can I find a basis in G-d's Torah to support my opinion".

I don't think either Modern Orthodox or Haredim approach the Halacha
objectively.  To do this would require a kind of scientific detachment
more appropriate for the university than the yeshiva.

The main difference between the Modern Orthodox and the Haredim concern
the question of through _whose_ preconceived biases and opinions should
we approach the Torah?

The modern Orthodox approach is for many people individually to apply
their own preconceived biases and opinions, and then to debate the
varying conclusions.  The Haredi approach is to appoint a single
superior soul to take this responsibility upon himself.

Essentially, the issue is whether Jewish society should have hierarchical
or distributed control.  Jewish history shows ample evidence of both
approaches.  The respective strengths and weaknesses of these choices
parallel the strengths and weaknesses of hierarchical versus distributed
design in, say, systems engineering.

In choosing between these approaches, both modern Orthodox and Haredi
preferences exhibit a strong influence from the surrounding gentile culture.
Modern Orthodox movements, for example, developed within gentile societies
where republican (small `r') ideas were current.  The recent leaders
of the Haredim, OTOH, came of age within gentile societies which were
extremely hierarchical and authoritarian -- Tsarist Russia, communist
U.S.S.R., the Austria-Hungarian Empire, fascist Rumania and Hungary, etc.
Hence, they adopted many of the authoritarian approaches to social
discipline:  heavy censorship, limitations on travel and acquaintanceship,
tests of obedience, close surveillance by neighbors, etc.

_If_ the American and Israeli democracies overcome the challenges
now facing them, I predict that the Haredim over the next centurey
will become more democratic in outlook.  But if the surrounding
societies collapse under the weight of current social and political
problems, then all bets are off!

Frank Silbermann	<fs@...>
Tulane University	New Orleans, Louisiana  USA


From: <m-as4153@...> (Ari Shapiro)
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 95 21:22:38 EST
Subject: Hashkafa

<I am interested in hearing from other people who espouse the
<Haredi hashkafa. Do you all believe that Modern Orthodoxy is a
<idolatrous perversion of G-'ds word and that only you have a monopoly on
<the pure truth revealed at Sinai? Is there no room for a difference of
<opinion if that difference of opinion concerns basic hashkafa?

I do not espouse Charedi hashkafa (I went to YU) but I do have to agree
with much of what Hendeles has to say.  I read an article in Tradition
(from the late 70's) which was titled Is Club Med Kosher? The author at
one point said the following. I know that there are many halachos in the
shulchan aruch which deal with the situation (i.e. seeing women in
bathing suits etc.) but I am sure that if there were modern gedolim they
would permit it. That is a pervesion of torah.  On a more recent note, I
recently heard Rabbi Lookstein (the head of Ramaz) say that Ramaz is his
ideal school.  I think any religious person would have to disagree.  The
school is co-ed, it has a senior prom, this is clearly in violation of
halacha, the school hardly teaches any gemara and on and on.  There may
be a place for a school like that for people who might otherwise go to
public school, I don't know.  But even if there is it is certainly as a
last resort not that this is the model. Why is it that many modern
orthodox women don't cover their hair and wear pants? again they are
clearly violating halacha and so on and so on.  Have you ever visited
Beaver Lake on Shabbos?  Shabbos afternoon people are walking around in
shorts and playing ball.  Not exactly a shabbos atmosphere.
Hashkafically I agree with modern orthodoxy.  Unfortunately what modern
orthodoxy seems to stand for is lax observance of halacha.

Ari Shapiro


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Wed, 15 Mar 1995 23:06:02 -0500
Subject: Preconceived Ideas

1. The problem that I encounter in Dora Schaefer's formulation is that the
  analysis of the Shemirat shabbat was in the sense of relating the modern
  to the Halachic.  I.e., our ideas about Shabbat do not change it is simply
  the clarification of how to apply the modern technology (e/g/. 
  Crock Pots) to that halacha.  This is true in almost all analysis of "modern
  halachic problems" -- the halacha is posited as unchanging and the under-
  lying idea is posited as unchanging and the cahllenge is how to relate
  the technology to these "unchangeables".
  However, the problem that Hendeles refers to is that here the opposite is
  happening.  It now becomes the idea that based upon our modern roles,
  *THE CONCEPTUAL BASIS* of the halacha should change.  This is a far trickier
  area.  I cannot simply discard the various "hashkafic" statements of
  Kol Kevudah Bat Melech P'nima or "Nashim Da'atan Kalot" or "Bina Yeteira
  Nitna B'Nashim" simply because our society has different norms.  It seems
  to me that our PRIMARY effort should be to analyze CHAZAL as objectively as
  possible and NOT assert that CHAZAL were "influenced by their society" or
  were "chauvinists".  Instead, we should begin with the axiom that CHAZAL
  are our conduits of the Mesorah and that the halacha/hashkafa that we have
  received from them is/are a priori considered to be part of Torah and not
  something subject to the whims and mores of society.
  THEN we begin the hard work: Given the various sometimes-contradictory
  statements in CHAZAL and later works, how do we relate OUR mores and
  social structures to the Halachic/Hashkafic framework.  This does not mean
  that I will "like" what comes out of this effort but as I continue to assert,
  our primary goal is to be Avdei Hashem and our own ego satisfaction comes
  Let me be clear that I do not mean that we should go back to the Shtetl 
  and I do not think that we are to lock women up and I do not think that
  we are supposed to keep women ignorant.  At the same time, I do not think
  that we should freely change minhagei Tefillah simply because women will
  "feel better".  Minahgei Yisrael -- as the Rav ZT"L has stated are special
  and cannot be changed freely.  Instead, we have to do what we do with the
  technology.  Hold the Halacha / Hashkafa as our "constant" and determine
  how to relate our society to the Halacha -- not the other way around.

2. Mr. Stokar's statement about Poskim is not fair.  While the Chatam Sofer
  did assert "Chadash Assur Min HAtorah" this does not mean that it was used
  as some sort of blind filter.  It represents a way of approaching and 
  understanding the Chatam Sofer's thought but it is far better to be care-
  ful before making rash statements.



From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Wed, 15 Mar 1995 16:17:09 +0200
Subject: The Cart and the Horse

     Hayim Hendels writes
>> This statement underscores what is, IMHO, a significant problem with the
>> so called "Modern Orthodox" - viz.  approaching halacha with
>> preconceived biases and opinions.
>> There is a major difference between approaching the Torah from an
>> unbiased standpoint, vs. approaching it to find support for your beliefs.

    As numerous people have pointed out there is no community today that
is a real continuation of life before the Holocaust. Both haredi and
modern orthodox are different from "shtetl" and city life in Eastern
Europe. Given all the changes the question was whether one should
accomodate to the world or separate oneself. Both choices involve
change.  There is no objective way to define one as based on
preconceived biases and the other as "the" true way. As many acharonim
point out that if Rav Akiva appeared today he would find modern day
Jewry quite strange and most pokim would condemn his practices.



End of Volume 18 Issue 96