Sunday, April 02, 2006

Orthodoxy Questions

(here)

Why was I so idealistic when I moved to Washington Heights?
Why did I think that KAJ would actually express some form of the Neo-Orthodox ideology that their ancestral founder, R' Sh. R. Hirsch, promoted?
What went wrong in "Frankfurt-on-Hudson"?

(the unbearable liteness of being)

Why are there so many "MO-Lite" people in the world?
Are they too lazy to develop a personal philosophy of Judaism and/or life?
Are they just not interested?
What happens to Hhareidim who lack a meaningful weltanschauung?
Or is the esteemed rav who defined 'MO-Lite' as Orthodox affiliation without a weltanschauung simply mistaken?

(there and everywhere)

How come no one ever told me that to some people "Modern Orthodoxy" is not a subset of "Orthodoxy" but a separate Heterodox category?
Why is being misrepresented the thing I hate most when it comes to personal interactions?
WTF fills people with so much HATE that they would slander me and thousands of other fellow Jewish Human Beings?
Is the identification by people in Monsey of Spring Valley as a 'bad area' simply racist slander against the dark-skinned people who live there, or are there crime statistics to back that up?
How would Yeshivish people feel if I said that being Dati ‘Olami is the only Torah-True form of Judaism, and that all those uniformity-stressing isolationist monochromatic self-sublimating ideals they stress are a load of BS?
What kind of an idiot seriously thinks that "if someone wears jeans they're making a statement that they admire Britney Spears, while if they wear a black suit and hat they admire R' Elyashiv"?
Why in all the worlds would I even want to admire R' Elyashiv (or any other 'gadol' who considers me and my people heretics)?
Should we give up on the label 'Modern Orthodoxy' due to the negative associations it has in the minds of self-righteous a––holes, and use less ambiguous terms like Torah uMada‘, Torah ‘im Derekh Eretz, and Torah va‘Avoda instead?

Who can tell my Shabbos in a town near Spring Valley was not completely positive?

CLARIFYING NOTES:
  1. Shabbos was not completely bad, either. There were many positive things about it, too; after all, I was staying by a good friend who's always fun to hang out with.
  2. I highly respect the people we ate lunch by. They are definitely non-evil.

24 Comments:

Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Cheer up, Steg! Wanna spend next Shabbos with me on the UWS?

4/02/2006 11:49 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Should we give up on the label 'Modern Orthodoxy' due to the negative associations it has in the minds of self-righteous a––holes, and use terms like Torah uMada‘, Torah ‘im Derekh Eretz, and Torah va‘Avoda instead?

There are certain schm*cks for whom these latter terms have negative associations, too. Aren't there?

4/02/2006 11:50 PM  
Blogger Drew_Kaplan said...

Sounds like a *wonderful* shabbos. Well, at least a thoughtful one. I'm guessing that for many MO-lite, they don't have much self-need to really think much about their Jewish lives; they probably also don't interface much with Jewish texts and thinking. Those are merely conjectures, though.

4/03/2006 1:12 AM  
Anonymous big brother said...

Labels (ugh!)...
What are they good for?
(Absolutely nothing!)
say it again...
Labels! (ugh!)
What are they good for?
(Absolutely nothing!)

[Individuals who discriminate and dehumanize based on labels even more so.]

4/03/2006 8:50 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

MG:

Thanks, but i was hoping on staying by me and using up my food so I'm not left with loads of hhameitz befoe Pesahh.

At least with the more specific doctrinal labels there's less confusion.

DK:

'MO-Lite' people generally go to Jewish schools, so i can't see them having no interface with learning.

BB:

Labels are good for self-identification and forming complementary communities united by ideals.
You forgot "good God y'all", btw. :-P

4/03/2006 10:42 AM  
Blogger Robbie said...

Religion on the whole is the belief that your faith is true and everyone else is wrong - and it carries over to sects too.

Some people are just wayyyy too sure that they're the only right ones out there and end up doing the wrong thing most of the time.

4/03/2006 3:26 PM  
Blogger Brooklyn Habiru said...

Excellent post... can you write something about the differentiations between Modern Orthodoxy, Centrist Orthodoxy, Neo Orthodoxy [not simply from a historic perspective, but addressing who the current manifestations would be if possible]? Are these distinctions an illusion? Are there really living breathing bastions of them? Or is it all one big camp with individuals adhering to their own weltanschauung, gathering bits and pieces from various aspects of all and congregating together for the simple sake of being able to function as an entity under the umbrella of Modern Orthodoxy. Also I find that often people self ascribe themselves as being "Modern" - but that is more a reflection of their level of observance rather than of their ideals. Some if they were to live up to their own convictions rather than lazying out would probably be part of the "uniformity-stressing isolationist monochromatic self-sublimating" camp...others [seemingly in the minority] do in fact bother to flesh out a personal philosophy in regards to their general world outlook within the context of Orthodox Judaism. The sad reality however is that people tend to be sheeple...

4/03/2006 7:35 PM  
Blogger Godol Hador said...

You need to stay away from the fundies. They are bad for the emunah. Come to me for shabbos instead. You will be inspired at Kehilat Vehamskilim Yazheeru!

4/03/2006 8:43 PM  
Blogger Lab Rab said...

The people who matter most to you admire you for who you are.

Nobody else should really matter.

And if certain people treat you like a second-class citizen, don't give them the privilege of your company.

4/03/2006 9:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Is the identification by people in Monsey of Spring Valley as a 'bad area' simply racist slander against the dark-skinned people who live there, or are there crime statistics to back that up?"

Yes, there are crime statistics to back this up.

They might be racist also :-)

4/03/2006 10:58 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

Wait, you were in Monsey for Shabbos, and didn't tell me?! We were in Monsey too!! (Okay, you had no way of knowing. But that's no excuse!)

Funny, I wondered the same thing about racism when someone casually mentioned regarding a Hispanic woman, while complimenting her... "Her husband is in landscaping. That's what they all do, you know?"

Anyways, great post. :)

4/04/2006 3:35 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Wow. Sounds like an unpleasant Shabbos. I've been hrough similar. Just keep repeating "shabbos is almost over, Shabbos is almost over" under you breath. It works like a charm. Hell, if breathing techniques can get me through 4 labor and deliveries, getting through a Shabbos in Spring Valley with them is a piece of cake.

4/04/2006 8:58 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Robbie:

Of course, it's tautological that everyone believes in what they believe. but there are wider and narrower ranges of what people consider acceptable variation. and it's personally hurtful to be kicked out of the club, as it were.

BH:

I'm not sure of what exactly the differences are; they all seem like one big amorphous mass to me. If you look in the archives of the Avodah list, they periodically have debates as to the exact definition and relationship between two specific MO/CO/NO philosophies — Tora uMada‘ (TuM) and Tora ‘im Derekh Eretz (TiDE). What i've gotten out of that is that generally, TiDE supports synthesis, i.e., I learn Geology in order to appreciate God's world and how it works, whereas TuM (classicly speaking) supports dialectic. Read Rav Soloveitchik's "Lonely Man of Faith" for more on the TuM dialectic (i don't completely understand it since i'm more of a TiDE-style integrationist). "Centrist" seems to be just a label invented at YU in order to avoid the unfortunate stigma of the term Modern, although R' Harry Maryles and others identify it as the YU subtype of Modern Orthodoxy which is generally more conservative on halakhic innovation/rapprochement compared to the "Left Wing Modern Orthodox" types like Edah.
I feel that in many cases the distinctions are an illusion, such as the early KAJ insistance that TiDE and TuM are mutually incompatible. The praxis is more-or-less the same, it's just that the philosophy is a bit different different. It shouldn't be such a big deal.

GH:

Well, next time i'm in The Middle...

LR:

The problem is coming into unexpected contact with aggravating people while other, non-offensive (and in fact very nice) people are the ones i'm exchanging "pleasure of company" with

Anonymous:

Ah okay. Do they put those statistics up on the web, like NYC does?

Poppa Ezzie:

Ack! Supposedly-frum racist people hurt my soul. Next time i'm up in the Greater Jewish Spring Valley area i'm hoping to stay away as much as possible from negative environments and go find my old shul. (but hopefully eat by the Nice People again if i haven't horribly offended them by being offended by their neighborhood's attitude)

MomOf4:

Yeah, i did that ;-) . And after Shabbos me and "PMYF/Ághán" ran down to Brooklyn for some nerdgames!

4/04/2006 10:56 AM  
Anonymous jdub said...

Steg,

I disagree with your assessment of TiDE as being integrationist and TuM as being dialectical.

First, TiDE is based on the assumption that one is a Jew at home and a mensch (in the German sense) in the street. It's compartmentalization. There is not integration, nor is there any dialectic.

Second, TuM from Rav Soloveitchik and Rav Aharon Lichtenstein is very dialectical, because that is the intellectual viewpoint from which they came. It need not be that way. I believe Alan Brill wrote an article in the Edah journal that proposes a holistic, integrationalist approach quite different than the dialectical or the compartmentalized approach.

In the end, who cares? Who needs labels. I use MO or progressive orthodox because it's somewhat descriptive of where my head's at. (Moderate to conservative on halacha, moderate to progressive on intellectual approaches to Judaism, moderate to ignorant on science.) That it applies to someone else who is lax in praxis and ignorant on dox is irrelevant to me.

But then, I don't hang out in Spring Valley for shabbos :)

4/04/2006 4:36 PM  
Blogger DovBear said...

Steg everything you've said on this post is true and the source of much angst. I don't know why the right wing can't say anything positive -or even correct! I'd settle for correct! - about the middle, but there it is.

4/04/2006 8:59 PM  
Anonymous jdub said...

DB and Steg:

Why do you care? We (the TuM/TiDE/MO/RWMO/post-label) criticize the UO like crazy (l'affaire Slifkin or the banning of MOAG, not to mention any of Godol Hador's rants). Why do we care what they say about modern or centrist orthodox?

People say stupid things. Sof pasuk. A friend of my wife's (who I'd put as RW MO, or mindless centrist, possibly) once said that women who cover their hair are more makpid on taharat hamishpacha. (this, BTW, before she was married and therefore had no basis for the statement). What an idiotic thing to say. I don't attribute it to her affiliation, since she's not that different than my wife and I. It's just that people feel the need to say stupid things.

The racism is far worse in my mind. And the data/statistics thing can also be summed up as "of course there are stats that show that blacks commit more property crimes. Where you live, the poor people, i.e., those more likely to commit property crimes, are black. Go out to rural Iowa, and the property crimes are committed by blonde haired blue-eyed yokels, because that's who's poor. Go to boro park and they're committed by chassidim."

Ok, that last part was just gratuitous. I'm heartily sorry.

4/05/2006 2:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are a foul-mouthed brazen twerp.

4/06/2006 10:35 AM  
Anonymous brother kayin said...

hah anonymous, that's funny. who are you talking to? want to say that to somebody actual face?

4/06/2006 11:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brother Kayin, you are right. My comment does need some explanation.

Dear Reb Steg,
I noticed the following four phrases in your post:

"Why in all the worlds would I even want to admire R' Elyashiv"
"the minds of self-righteous a––holes"
"WTF fills people"
"a load of BS"

I believe that the first phrase is unacceptably irreverent to one of the Gedolei HaDor. The other three phrases employ vulgarities that Bnei Torah should avoid (except maybe when alone, driving in the car, on the road with inconsiderate drivers).

4/07/2006 10:49 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

JDub:

It's not my analysis; i'm just passing on an analysis done by others. I don't really care about the subtle philosophical distinctions between varieties of Modern Orthodoxy, since all varieties are dedicated to the same general religious-worldly ideal.

Did you mean to be prophetic when you talked about crimes committed by hhasidim in Boropark? ;-)

Anonymous:

Yes, i am a foul-mouthed brazen twerp.
But i'm only foul-mouthed when i'm really angry.
(when i'm really really angry, i get violent) :-P

And any "gedol hador" who is unacceptably dismissive of gedolim of the past (seriously calling their views kefira when there are so many good Jews out there who hold like them!) is no gadol of my dor.

4/07/2006 12:30 PM  
Blogger tmeishar said...

Steg, you really hit the nail on the head.
I used to think the problem was solely American and MO-lite could only be solved by being in Israel. Unfortunately, over the past few months I've learned that living in a community of like-minded individuals is not a good reason to make Aliyah. Basically, real Israelis also have their own version of Orthodoxy-lite (and that spans the kippa spectrum). Not only that, but the community that MO would probably most identify with, namely the dati le'umi camp is hardly that: they don't teach Gmarah in their girls' high schools, only begrudgingly allow interaction with the secular world, and are in many ways no more moderate than the Chareidim. (In fact, the marginal differences between them and Chareidim are shrinking in our post-Disengagement day when many in the DL camp are disenchanted with the government and echo sentiments of "Ani MITNATEK mehamedina vemitchaber im haTorah.")
I guess the most we can hope for is reaching out and trying to influence those around us and not becoming dissallusioned with "our camp's" sorry state of affairs.

By the way, my menahel told me something I think you would really appreciate: "The shvil hazahav is a gesher tzar me'od."

4/08/2006 3:11 PM  
Blogger PsychoToddler said...

all those uniformity-stressing isolationist monochromatic self-sublimating ideals they stress are a load of BS?


Sounds good to me.

It's hard to fight the predominating currents and stand your ground. You know what you believe and why you believe it. You don't need no stinkin' uniform.

4/10/2006 2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Reb Steg,
A more acceptable way to phrae your issue with Maran Rav Elyashiv is, "I am not zocheh to understand his sheeta given the sheetos of other Gedolim."
If we are to be Chachamim, we must know our place, as chazal say, "Eizehu Chacham? HaMakkir Ess Mekomo."
Also, if I violated Ona'as devarim in my post, I ask Mechila. Really.

4/10/2006 2:44 PM  
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