Wednesday, May 20, 2009

From the Florida Sunshine Tree

From time to time, I like to discuss some of the pearls of wisdom that surface in my comments section. Today's comment (posted to my May 14 post) comes from a fellow who identified himself as E-Man, a 24 year old Capricorn from Miami who was born on the Year of the Rat and went to Skokie Yeshiva for High School (this means he left about 7 years ago so he wouldn't know Yaakov, 20 year old Pisces born Year of the Ice-Storm-on-Erev-Shabbos-Zachor) and on to other fine places.

E-Man writes as follows:

Just thought you should know, there are several commentaries that are on the chumash that are shunned by the charaidi community like Ralbag. So if I learn all the commentaries and Ralbag does that make be a new, superhuman like Jew?

Rather, you should say that a charaidi learns and understands the bible according to their current "Gadol." Charaidim are quick to rip the Ralbag and other ideas from rishonim that they find untenable, but will not dare say anything against the Chafetz Chaim or the Chazon Ish. That is probably a more accurate definition of a charaidi. Someone who does not go against the Rabbis of his current time.

Also, in regards to your definition that differentiates between charaidim and other Orthodox Jews, the toiling in Torah refers to toiling in Torah so you can perform the commandments properly. If the charaidim learn Gemorah as well as chumash they will see that in kedushin on 40 b there is a whole discussion of what the purpose of toiling in Torah is. That is to perform the commandments. SO in essence, the whole reason we toil in the Torah is, according to Rashi on the Gemorah, to perform the mitzvos.

Its not worth going into everything, but I don't understand why you constantly insult non-charaidi orthodox jews so much in your book. Does it make you feel better or something about your yiddishkite? Or is it so you can sell more books? I read parts of your book, but I just couldn't keep reading once I got to the discussion you overheard about what Moshe Rebbeinu would wear. It was really ridiculous to me and I didn't understand your point other than you thought Moshe would wear 18th century polish garb. That was just confusing. How do you know he wouldn't wear a suit in formal settings and khakis and polo shirt in informal settings. I actually am privy to info about some big Rabbis that do this, but shhhh don't let that leave the room.

Anyway, I also looked at your haskamos and at least one of the Rbbis was against the label of charaidi used here. He said that you described a torah true Jew. Which I, for the most part agree with. However, your constant knocking of non-charaidi orthodox Jews just left such a bad taste in my mouth. I am not anti-charaidi or anything, just anti a definition that seemingly makes them so much greater than a guy that believes in the Maimonides or Gersonides approach, science is helpful and can be used to describe parts of the bible. That is for ure not charaidi and you say he learns less?

Maybe next book you write can just be what a Torah true jew is, instead of just hat you consider a charaidi, since that definition is, at best, flawed.

Otherwise, keep up the good work.


Okay. Let's try to understand what this guy is saying:

Just thought you should know, there are several commentaries that are on the chumash that are shunned by the charaidi community like Ralbag.

Ralbag and who else? Can I get the whole list?

I am certainly glad that he thought I should know this because it is certainly news to me. At my age (way past 24), not much catches me unawares but this certainly does. Personally, I have never shunned the Ralbag and I never knew anybody in my Yeshivos (Lakewood, Mir) who shun the Ralbag but I guess there must be plenty of chareidim in Skokie and Miami who do shun the Ralbag. Of course, I do not learn much Ralbag on Chumash because my edition of Mikraos Gedolos does not happen to include any Ralbag on Chumash although I do have Ralbag in almost every edition of Nach. I've gone through most of Nach doing Rashi, Metzudos and Malbim. Not much focus on Ralbag but no shunning. I didn't learn much Radak or Minchas Shai either. Are they on the list?

Oh, I get it. He must mean Rabbi Aryeh Ralbag from the Triangle-K! Yes, it's true. Many chareidim do shun SunMaid Raisins and Mott's Apple Juice in favor of products from OU or other more "right wing" hechsherim. I also stay away from this hechsher (Hostess Twinkies are not for me) but sometimes my wife makes me buy the Craisins.

And it's true, we do shun many of his colleagues like the entire Rabbanut.

So if I learn all the commentaries and Ralbag does that make be a new, superhuman like Jew?

Probably not, but drinking lots of Mott's Apple Juice, Minute Maid Orange Juice and eating wholesome Wonder Bread and Sun-Maid Raisins might.

Rather, you should say that a charaidi learns and understands the bible
according to their current "Gadol." Charaidim are quick to rip the Ralbag and
other ideas from rishonim that they find untenable, but will not dare say
anything against the Chafetz Chaim or the Chazon Ish.



Let's go over that list again: Skokie Yeshiva, Shaalvim, YU, Lander College for Men, Talmudic University and looking to Med School and you are such an expert on Chareidim! And I am even learning new things from you! I guess Charedi'ism 101 must be a course in their curriculum (though they certainly do not feature my book!) I am very impressed.

That is probably a more accurate definition of a charaidi. Someone who does not go against the Rabbis of his current time.

Sorry. won't work. A typical chareidi will definitely go against most of the people who are called Rabbis at the current time.

Also, in regards to your definition that differentiates between charaidim and other Orthodox Jews, the toiling in Torah refers to toiling in Torah so you can perform the commandments properly. If the charaidim learn Gemorah as well as chumash they will see that in kedushin on 40 b there is a whole discussion of what the purpose of toiling in Torah is. That is to perform the commandments. SO in essence, the whole reason we toil in the Torah is, according to Rashi on the Gemorah, to perform the mitzvos.

H-m-m-m. This sounds familiar. Let's see, let's see...Oh yes!! Here it is - One Above and Seven Below - page 82:

Q. In the previous chapter, I set out to explain the “meaning of toil”. Yet, aside from the three principles that were quoted from Maimonides, all I did was to describe what toil doesn’t mean. Didn’t I forget something?

A. Guilty! Here are some details that I omitted.

Like almost any commodity, toil can be measured by two attributes: quantity and quality. The three principles listed above provide a quantitative perspective. We have still not, as of yet, defined toil in Torah from the qualitative perspective.

Thankfully, we can always rely on our dedicated teacher. Rashi does not leave us totally in the lurch.

On the phrase “And my commandments you shall guard” (VaYikra 26:3) Rashi explains, “You shall toil in Torah for the purpose of observing and fulfilling [the commandments] as it states ‘and you will study them and you will observe them to perform them’.” There is an end purpose to our Torah study – that we observe the commandments and incorporate Torah principles in all our daily activities.

Apparently, it's according to Rashi on Chumash, too.

Its not worth going into everything, but I don't understand why you constantly insult non-charaidi orthodox jews so much in your book. Does it make you feel better or something about your yiddishkite? Or is it so you can sell more books?

From the FAQ section of my book (page 7-8):

Important Note - The intention is to promote the conventions that the chareidim uphold. It is not meant to challenge the conventions of those who are not chareidi although, in some cases, it is an inevitable cause-and-effect. Although to some readers - who do not [yet] wish to identify themselves as chareidi - parts of this book may inadvertently seem patronizing or antagonistic, be assured that this is certainly not its purpose. I apologize in advance should this occur.

For those who have trouble with this passage (you are not alone), it says this:

The book does not actively or aggressively insult anybody. Nevertheless, it is a given that when comparing A vs. B, anything that is promoted as a strength or advantage to A is automatically highlighting a shortcoming to B. This is called the see-saw syndrome - raising side A automatically lowers side B. Thus although nobody insulted B, B is passively ipso facto insulted (antagonized).

I am only interested in raising the One Above side. It is a truth of physics that when one does this, the opposite (the Seven Below) side goes down. I have no control over it except that my point is that one should not be on the side that is diametrically opposed to "Im Bechukosai Telechu".
A number of people have told me that they are put off by the "condescending" message of the omnipotent tefillin-clad arm patronizingly reaching out over the sinking bare arms. My message to the reader is that, according to Vayikra 26:3, it pays to identify with the upper arm. Anybody who still insists on identifying with one of the seven sinking arms will certainly feel threatened and antagonized, but, don't blame me. I didn't write sefer VaYikra. I am just analyzing it.

I read parts of your book,

One cannot read my book in parts (as I wrote on page 9).

but I just couldn't keep reading once I got to the discussion you overheard about what Moshe Rebbeinu would wear. It was really ridiculous to me and I didn't understand your point other than you thought Moshe would wear 18th century polish garb.

That's because you couldn't keep reading. Incidentally, I didn't write that I thought he would be wearing 18th century Polish garb. I wrote that he would be wearing 21st century Rabbinic garb. Either that of 21 century Chassidish or Misnagdish rabbanim (who may be styled after 18th century Poland) or Sefardic or Yemenite or whatever else is out there.

That was just confusing. How do you know he wouldn't wear a suit in formal settings and khakis and polo shirt in informal settings.

The discussion is about what he would wear in public (formal settings, in your terms). We are not interested in what color his pajamas were. Most readers weren't confused.
I actually am privy to info about some big Rabbis that do this, but shhhh don't let that leave the room.

Wow, a 24 year old non-chareidi (if I read you right) from Miami and you have it in with all the biggies! I take my black hat off to you. And, rest assured, your secret is safe with me.

Anyway, I also looked at your haskamos and at least one of the Rbbis was against the label of charaidi used here.

It must be because he's from Miami.

He said that you described a torah true Jew. Which I, for the most part agree with. However, your constant knocking of non-charaidi orthodox Jews just left such a bad taste in my mouth.

Evidently, this Rav was able to understand what you seem to grudgingly acknowledge - the book is not about "chareidim" but rather about Torah-true Jews. I just happen to call Torah-true Jews "Chareidim" because that was certainly the case by Yeshaya HaNavi and - when we use Hashkafa as our definition - it is true today. This is the theme of Chapter 9 and, subsequently, of the whole book. Once you agree with this, then it follows that the ones that are called Non-chareidi" are those who are not full scale Torah-true Jews. The objective of my book is to entice more people to be full scale Torah-true Jews. The knocking comes from VaYikra 26:14-46. G-d wrote that, not me. I am just quoting it. Apparently, what He wrote leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

It must be something you ate.

I am not anti-charaidi or anything, just anti a definition that seemingly makes them so much greater than a guy that believes in the Maimonides or Gersonides approach, science is helpful and can be used to describe parts of the bible. That is for ure not charaidi and you say he learns less?

Excuse me? Is this somewhere in my book? I actually promote Maimonides' approach both on page 60 and again on page 114. But that was after you couldn't keep reading.

Maybe next book you write can just be what a Torah true jew is,...

No need. All you have to do is reread the book and substitue the word "Chareidi" with "Torah-true Jew". I suggested this in the last paragraph of the book on page 229.

Try it it works!

...instead of just hat you consider a charaidi, since that definition is, at best, flawed.

Critics write about the way I define chareidim as if I am alone in my definition. This is a case of denial on their part. I have written profusely, in my book and out, that there are clearly 2 general definitions of chareidim. One used by chareidim and one used by non-chareidim. My definition of chareidim is very much in line with Rabbi Grylak's (Chief Editor of Mishpacha magazine). The one he wrote in his Hebrew language book way before I wrote mine. (It is quoted on page 121.) In fact, if you perceive there are any differences, you are invited to discard the differences and just go with the common denominator.

I use the definition that chareidim use, and to date, no chareidim have written to challenge me on my definition. Makes sense. But, evidently, non-chareidim fantasize that even chareidim think like them. And that there is only one way to define a chareidi - their way. And so, they write that "most people" don't use my definition. Of course, they are right - most people aren't chareidi! But they also seem to think that for some reason I am obligated to use the definition that chareidim in general do not agree with, though nobody has ever explained exactly why. And they never will. Because they do not acknowledge - or legitimize - any other more general, less derogatory definition. (See Chapter 9).

That's why I wrote the book, to enlighten them that chareidim themselves think differently, and why. Chareidim can understand this. That's why they like my book. Non-chareidim are not as broad minded. That's why I wrote in the FAQs:

This book is meant to reframe common perceptions of what constitutes a “chareidi” and will present a definition that may differ from your preconceived notions. If you are already certain about what constitutes a chareidi and are not open to new definitions, this book will not work for you.

And so, this book will not work for someone like E-Man and I am not sure why he even read beyond the FAQs.

Well, at least he made it to the beginning of Chapter 4.

Otherwise, keep up the good work.

Likewise.

16 comments:

Meishiv K'halacha said...

Has Yaakov met Dr. Lipshitz? I am sure he learns Ralbag in his Navi class. At least he did when I was there.

E-Man said...

So I guess I am charaidi. At least, according to you.

Yechezkel said...

>>So I guess I am charaidi. At least, according to you.I sure hope so. But, it's really not my opinion that counts. The question is if you are a charaidi according to Yeshaya haNavi.

Kol Tuv,

Chezkel

E-Man said...

Also, the way you are defining charaidi seems interesting because then people who call themselves charaidi would actually not be charaidi. So in your opinion, being charaidi has nothing to do with who you associate with, but rather do you keep the Torah and mitzvos properly. If this is the end result then there is no such thing as a non-charaidi orthodox jew. Unless you want to say wearing a blue shirt would be a qualification. Or someone who wears shorts once and a while. Which, in that case, I don't understand what a Torah true Jew according to you is.

E-Man said...

I meant to say some people that call themselves charaidi.

Anonymous said...

Imagine Hamish McDonald, a Scotsman, sitting down with his Glasgow Morning Herald and seeing an article about how the "Brighton Sex Maniac Strikes Again." Hamish is shocked and declares that "No Scotsman would do such a thing." The next day he sits down to read his Glasgow Morning Herald again and this timefinds an article about an Aberdeen man whose brutal actions make the Brighton sex maniac seem almost gentlemanly. This fact shows that Hamish was wrong in his opinion but is he going to admit this? Not likely. This time he says, "No true Scotsman would do such a thing."

—Antony Flew, Thinking about Thinking (1975)

Yechezkel said...

>>Also, ... I don't understand what a Torah true Jew according to you is.Not only haven't you read my book, you didn't even read the blog post that you initially commented on.

Good luck in Medical School!

Chezkel

E-Man said...

Why would you say that? I read the post. I just think your definition is lacking clarity. You basically say a Torah true Jew is someone who learns as well as does mitzvos. So, I will ask my question again. What if I learn, let's say I know all of shas, keep all the mitzvos, daven three times a day, but I wear Jeans, am I a good charaidi or do I fall into the other camp of not charaidi? Also, what if I am a doctor, lawyer, or accountant and only learn an hour or 2 a day, but go to minyan three times a day and work the other hours of the day? The answers from what you seem to be saying are that I would be charaidi. However, the charaidi community does not condone wearing jeans, or spending several years becoming a professional, would they? SO you either call this person charaidi yet the charaidi community shuns him, or he is not charaidi. No?

Yechezkel said...

>>"Has Yaakov met Dr. Lipshitz? I am sure he learns Ralbag in his Navi class. At least he did when I was there."Yaakov says he has been in his class. He does not recall much Ralbag, the "Prof" very much favors Radak.

Yechezkel said...

>> "Why would you say that? I read the post.I say that because the post contains the pilot chapter of the book which lays down the premise. I will make it as simple as possible:

Im Bechukosai Telechu = One Above = Torah-true Jew = "Chareidi" (a la Yeshaya)

Im Bechukosai Timasu = Seven Below = Less-than-Torah-true Jew = "Non-chareidi"

>>"I just think your definition is lacking clarity."After the chapter that is in the post is a 7 page chapter that explains the meaning of "Toil in Torah". This is followed by a whopping 30 page chapter entitled "Everything you always wanted to Ask..." which is basically a FAQ format on all the issues you bring up. The first paragraph contains these words:

"it dawns on me that there are yet many unanswered questions. So...I will attempt to answer them." Thereupon follow 30 pages of "clarity". I know that 37 pages of 11 point print is a challenge for young people these days but I do not see you as justified to abstain from reading the fine print and then cry "Lacks clarity!" If you do not read it, you will not "get" it.

Incidentally, the underlying purpose of the entire book is to define "chareidi" and it is 229 pages long.

>>" You basically say a Torah true Jew is someone who learns as well as does mitzvos."Vayikra 26:3 per Rashi.

>>"So, I will ask my question again. What if I learn, let's say I know all of shas, keep all the mitzvos, daven three times a day, but I wear Jeans, am I a good charaidi or do I fall into the other camp of not charaidi?"You didn't read page 67.

>>"Also, what if I am a doctor, lawyer, or accountant and only learn an hour or 2 a day, but go to minyan three times a day and work the other hours of the day?"You didn't read Chapter 2 nor page 83.

>>"The answers from what you seem to be saying are that I would be charaidi. However, the charaidi community does not condone wearing jeans, or spending several years becoming a professional, would they?"I have been living in Yerushalayim for 12 years and I have yet one pashkevillia about either of these two things (I am not talking about compulsory "core" education. That's a contentious issue.)

>>"SO you either call this person charaidi yet the charaidi community shuns him, or he is not charaidi. No?"Pages 76-79.

E-Man said...

"Excuse me? Is this somewhere in my book? I actually promote Maimonides' approach both on page 60 and again on page 114. But that was after you couldn't keep reading."

I completely forgot about this question I was going to ask you. How can you claim to know what the Rambam's approach would be when you clearly state in your book that you NEVER READ THE MOREH NEVUCHIM??? It is kinda funny to say that you know what his approach is yet never even looked at his book that tells us what his approach is all about.

Yechezkel said...

>>"How can you claim to know what the Rambam's approach would be when you clearly state in your book that you NEVER READ THE MOREH NEVUCHIM??? "In terms of Avodas Hashem, I maintain that it is sufficient to know what the Rambam says in Yad Hachazaka owing to the fact that Yad HaChazaka is Halacha L'Maaseh and Moreh Nevuchim is not.

Without learning Moreh Nevuchim, I will go out on a limb and assume that the Rambam does not contradict in MN what he writes in MT. One who learns MT has no need for MN.

E-Man said...

But he says so much more about philosophy and what he thinks about chazal and tradition in the Moreh that he doesn't even mention in the MT. You can't fit him into the charaidi category without learning the Moreh first and even then, I am not so sure you would because of his ideas on science and tradition.

E-Man said...

I mean, the Maharal contradicts the Rambam when he says things like this in the Moreh

"You must, however, not expect that everything our Sages say respecting astronomical matters should agree with observation, for mathematics were not fully developed in those days: and their statements were not based on the authority of the Prophets, but on the knowledge which they either themselves possessed or derived from contemporary men of science." (Moreh Nevuchim part 3 chapter 14)

The Maharal argues and says (B’er Hagola 6) that when the sages mentioned a scientific fact, they derived it from their knowledge of the Torah and Hashem, Who is the Cause of all science. He says that science is inferior to Torah even where it comes to scientific knowledge, because scientists base their opinions on what they see, which is a finite and imperfect method of investigation, as opposed to knowledge of science through Torah, which is the root and cause for all facts in the world.

So Maharal would be Charaidi, but I don't think the Rambam would be. I mean taking the advice of scientists over chazal??? What shtus!!! The Maharal, now he was charaidi, the sages were right no matter what!

Yechezkel said...

>>"I mean, the Maharal contradicts the Rambam ..."None of this has much impact on Vayikra 26 which is the criterion that I am working with. I think both of them agree to Koheles 12:13 which is all that really matters. I touched on this on a footnote on page 143 in my book.

I think this discussion is starting to become a bit tenuous and there is no point in sustaining it as long as you have not properly read my book.

Thank you for commenting.

Chezkel

Anonymous said...

The part of the Yad Hachazaka you quoted in the book is from maada which cannot be understood without the Moreh.