Monday, May 31, 2004

Menachem Keller on Marc Shapiro

We begin this week's Hock on the Edah Journal with Menachem Kellner's book review of Marc Shapiro's recent work on the Ikkarim. Now we have already weighed in here in the House about the 13 Dogmas and have offered a replacement set and Simcha has had what to say already about the review.

(But this post is not about us, it's about Kellner's review.)
Observations are as follows:
1) It is intellectually dishonest to have Menachem Kellner review Shapiro's book, as Kellner (as noted in his review) wrote a book with a similiar goal around 10 years ago. He is a noga'ah be-davar as his review continually mention his personal anecdotes with these issues.
2) He mentions three books that Littman published "concerning Orthodox Jewish theology". And though it is true that Kellner's, Shapiro's & Berger's book all tangentially relate to Jewish Theology; they all serve to stymy Jewish theology. Shapiro, Berger, & Kellner are not creating new Jewish theology or theological discourse, they are undermining and downplaying theological discourse. Based upon my investigations the only people doing anything interesting or substantive in Orthodox Jewish theology in America are Professor Alan Brill (later on that this week), R. Moshe Wolfson, & maybe R. Moshe Weinberger. This discussion of pro/con Dogma is anything but theology. Once we work out what is acceptably theologically, we can move on to actually doing someone real theological discourse. While Kellner would like to get on "getting along with other Jews (though I have always wondered what other Jews were completely shomer mitzvos but theologically krum), it appears that they are less interested in theological discussion altogether.
3) As Simcha pointed out, Dogma has always been a concern for the Jewish people and the Jewish religion, whether it is with Christians in late antiquity, with the Karaites in the Middle Ages or discussion of Kabbalah or Philosophy.
5) Rather than "Returning the Crown to its Ancient Glory", Kellner & Shapiro seek to create a desiccated Judaism, based upon Halakha with a minimal theology.

As a final note on Shapiro, Nachum Lamm has probably the best analysis of Marc Shapiro, though I strongly disagree with the Blogger from Queens.

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Memorial Day Tribute

In honor of memorial day, I will not be blogging any hock today. Instead I leave you with Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address to contemplate.

Nov. 19, 1863

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it as a final resting place for those who died here that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have hallowed it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

It is rather for us the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

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Sunday, May 30, 2004

One Matchup I Would Like to See

After reading Michael Kinsley's review of David Brooks' new book and some more sycophantic reviews, I decided that I would like to see Brooks and Tom Wolfe go mano-a-mano for 10 rounds. My money is on Wolfe.

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Friday, May 28, 2004

Edah Journal

There is a New Issue of the Edah Journal out this week. I expect everyone to read it this weekend, as that will be the topic of the Hock next week.

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Forward Shaytlach Article

This post should not be necessary, but then, all blogging is superfluous.
I could point out the numerous mistakes in SIW's Article in this Week's Forward about the Indian Wig controversy, but let me point out two obvious ones:
I have good testimony that Rabbi Belsky never went to India and has no plans to to travel there. I simple phone call could have corrected this mistake, but I guess Fiddish is taking up too much of SIW's time. (FYI to SIW & fellow Forward staff: Rav Belsky gives shiur in a Yeshiva called Torah Ve-Daas. It is in Brooklyn, same borough as Williamsburg. Call them up. Do you need their phone number?)
Quoting Rabbi Moshe Dovid Tendler & Rabbi Abadi shlit"a as definitive poskim is like quoting Al Franken and Michael Moore to find out what's going in the mainstream America.

I am looking forward to seeing how far the Forward can distort Halakhic Judaism before SIW calls it quits.

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Nice to get see my efforts in print

I wonder if Steven Weiss reads this blog or Nachum Lamm's? Given that we were the only one's making an issue about the post-Israel Day Parade concert and next thing you know it's an article in the Forward. Makes you wonder.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Siyyum HaShas

I haven't seen anyone post about the signs abounding in Shuls & Synagogues about the Siyyum HaShas for Daf Yomi next year. Basically, the Agudah is asking everyone who is planning on attending to make a tentative reservation so that they can make a head count for seating. So everyone out there send in your reservations....
siyumhashas@agudathisrael.org
If anyone remembers so far back, last time there was a minor conflict about the seating of Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm. Let's see what happens this time around. And what the Modern Orthodox Establishment will do for the Siyyum haShas.

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Yerushalayim & the Orthodox Union

I finally had a chance to see the presentation by the OU's Executive Vice President, Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hirsch Weinreb for Yom Yerushalayim. I actually enjoyed the speech, where is compared Yerushalayim and Sodom.

However, i am a bit intrigued by his discussion of Yerushalayim as a place of Chesed and Mishpat. Does this mean that the OU will now attempt to encourage Israel to maintain justice and chesed in Yerushalayim?
So how does this affect their attitude towards the foreign workers and their children who live under the radar screen, being treated without mishpat or chesed?
Or how about the non-settlers in Israel who are forced to live with a disproportionate amount of aid and support going to legal and illegal settlements?

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Monday, May 24, 2004

Shaytlach, Observations

I have deliberated avoided discussing the Shaytel Shaylos, as I have nothing much to add. Two observations though:

1) The Shaylah about Shaytach in part is a consequence of keeping a large demographic who you want to be following Halakhah (i.e. women) outside of elite halakhic discourse. Had they been part of elite halakhic discourse, they may have been avoided.

2) It would appear that some commentators only think that the Chassidim were afflicted by the Shaytel Shaylah. Presumably because of the NYT article & pictures of Chassidim burning Shaytels. Of course this is not true. It affected all Orthodox Jews.
However, Chassidim tend to do things in public and with much gusto. Litvish and Modern Orthodox are much more reticent about the public performance of many aspects of religious practice, in this case destroying shaytlach. (Interesting manifestation of this difference.)

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Jewish Observer & "General Studies"

I had a chance this past weekend to read the latest Jewish Observer, official Mouthpiece of the Agudah. I don't know if its a sign that I am getting frummer in my Old Age or the Agudah is moving to the Center, but I have finding the JO a more readable magazine lately.
As usual they had a single focus in this issue; in this case, General Studies. In three articles various educators and public intellecuals discussed secular studies in Yeshivahs (and I am not talking about Yeshiva of Flatbush or Frisch here). Basically they admit that general studies are terrible and they give various formulas for fixing them.

For Ortho-watchers it's a must-read.

Several observations on my part:
>The authors/editors insist on using the term "General Studies" instead of "Secular Studies".
>R. Moshe Eisenman argues for a Hirschian approach to this topic (rejecting the basic worldview of the Velt).
>The arguements used to justify General Studies are similar to many of the arguements for Torah U-Madda:
Science: A (pre-Kantian) variation of seeing God in nature
History: Zechor Yimos Olam: Seeing God in history
>Another article basically downplays the natural and social sciences for math and english (i.e. basic functioning in society).

Obviously, even if not in the articles, the problem will only get worse as subsequent generations of parents & mechanchim are not getting college educations. Therefore the expectations for their children and students with regards to "General Studies" can only diminish.

Another important (if obvious) point to note is that R. Moshe Eisenman begins his article saying that the JO is talking between friends so that we can be honest. A fundamental rejection of the ethos that says let everything be as public as possible.

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George Foreman

Do how do you toivel a brand new George Foreman Grill?

a) Be makneh (pretend to give it; make a legal fiction) it to a gentile.

b) Be makneh it to a katan (a minor who is is not obligated in mitzvos/t).

c) The food always touches teflon so no need for tevilah.

d) Dump the whole thing in a mikveh and let it dry out for two days, hoping not to electocute yourself in the process.

e) Stop asking these questions that are not in the Mishneh Berurah.

Please answer below.

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Israel Day Concert

Following up on earlier posts. It appears that the Israel Day Concert was a success as we have yet to see the Palestinian Authority (or the PLO for that matter) being given Statehood. Now, maybe we will see the resettlement of 36 million Indians, Peruvians, and Afghanis in Gaza and Chevron.

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Rumor of the Week

It appears that King Richard (recently replacing the Nasi as Raish Galusah of Modern Orthodoxy) has begun to institute change and reform across the Republic of Torah U-Madda.

From what I hear, no domain or fiefdom is to be spared. Next to be reformed according to the Rumor Mill:
James Striar School
With changes in all levels and in all aspects it will shortly be returned to it's Glory as the Land of the Returned.

UPDATE:
What will these (planned) changes include?
Longer hours, more staff, smaller classes, monthly Shabbatonim....
What is in it for King Richard?
Pure lishmah.

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Sunday, May 23, 2004

Shidduch Crisis Suggestion

My personal solution to the so-called "Shidduch Crisis":
Cheap (or very inexpensive) therapy. If men & woman worked out their issues, then more of them would be able to be able to settle into a committed relationship.

Perhaps, Endthemadness.org or the OU should sponsor this therapy and enlist psychologists and social workers to offer their services.

Probably more productive than having more mixed gatherings, shiurim, etc. or telling people to go on more first dates with whomever is suggested to them.

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Betrayal (a thought)

There is nothing more sublimely honest than the simple act of betrayal. To hurt someone and burn your bridges for a single act of inspired rage destroying what had been built up over time and effort. There are no more straitforward activities, uncomplicated, simple, than to react, in a single act, without complicated motives, as all logic would dictate to continue the facade. But in this single rage fueled act of betrayal one moves without complication to achieve a single goal.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Litvish Bloggers

I was IM-ing with a friend and we noted that although there are many Modern Orthodox Bloggers and a number of Chassidic Bloggers, are are almost no Litvish/Yeshivish Bloggers.

I suggested that the internet and blogging is (more or less) socially accepted in the Modern Orthodox community. And Chassidim are stuck in their community, so blogging serves as an outlet. For most litvish the option of leaving the Yeshiva and working is available (or even staying as part of the overall Litvish community and indulding one's taste for popular culture). Therefore blogging is neither condoned nor an outlet.

It's not a great answer, but if you have an alternative one, please suggest it.

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Joogle Bomb

Can someone please explain to me the significance of having Jewwatch be the #1 Google site for Jew as opposed to being the #4 site?
Unless it shows how Jewish orgs do not know how to use the internet well. But we all know that.
Will there be fewer conspiracy driven anti-semites out there because Jewwatch is number #3?
Or do people not realize that having a high google profile just means that you have slick webprograms?
Please explain below.

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Concert Update

It turns out that a prominent Blogger is one of two organizers for the NCYI cracked-out Zionist post-Israeli Day Parade concert. Does he hold of the concert politics? If not, why is he running it?

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Jewish Music Blogs

A lot of buzz lately in that subgroup of the Jewish Blog-o-Sphere, Jewish Music blogs. Even smaller than the already small world of Jewish Bloggers, they are a possibly interesting group because “Orthodox Jewish Music” is of intrinsic importance to the Orthodox Jewish community (and to the larger Jewish community). One cannot escape Jewish music at simchas and the concert scene has become fairly mainstreamed. And it is a fundamental part of the Orthodox Identity of many Orthodox Jews. I think that this is significant, to say the least.

I have two observations about the Jewish Music Blog Scene.
1) They are some of the only people consistently keeping an eye on Jewish musicians and keeping people who are not musicians abreast of what’s going on. Which I think is a good thing.

2) I have been thinking about a topic of interest to the Jewish Music Blogging scene, quality. They want Jewish music to be “rocking” or “spiritual”. Now, personally, I don’t really see a need for either. If I wanted really “rocking” music I would not be looking for Jewish music. If I wanted spirituality, I would be going on an Eilat Hayyim Retreat. Or if I wanted less investment, I would daven in a Shul where noone talked or maybe attend a meditation class. What I find of interest is that the Jewish Music Bloggers don’t seem to get the point of Music in the Orthodox Jewish community, mainly to maintain their Orthodox Jewish identity. A useful model for maintaining quality of Jewish music would be Emmanuel Levinas. He had two types of writings, his general philosophical writings and his Jewish “Parochial” (his word not mine) writing. Now, if one studies both types of writings, one easily sees that the latter are philosophical, more accessible than his general philosophic writings. But they help ordinary well educated Jews develop a sophisticated philosophical Judaism.

The parallel is as follows: Jewish Music is not going to be the most “Spiritual” or “Rocking” music. Rather, it is going to be the soundtrack of different Jewish communities. Now, we hope that it will be a good soundtrack, but, let’s be honest, it’s not the focus of the movie.

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Word of the Week

I recently heard of a new "Hebrew" word:
Mishtachnaiz (and various permutations thereof).
When a Sefardi becomes aculturated into Ashkenazi society and loses his or her Sefardi background, they are being mishtachnaiz.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2004

FAQ about Attacking

With increasing regularity, I am asked to defend my occasional attacks in this blog. Though I think that I keep my snark level below quotient, I think that the question is a valid one. So here goes. I will attack a person in proportion to their publicity. Meaning that if someone speaks publicly, I consider them fair game for critique. If they publish something on a blog, they should be evaluated on this blog. If they publish in a newspaper or magazine or speak in multiple venues, I feel that I have permission to go for the jugular. This explains my sometimes critique of certain prominent Jews & Rabbis. It also explains why I think that blogs should not repost images from onlysimchas.com or from dating sites, especially not for a cheap laugh. Even though such sites are technically public it pas ich nicht to post them.

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Text messaging, etc.

Has anyone heard of any Jewish organizations, let alone Orthodox ones using text messaging? One would think that this is a great chance for someone to use cell phones to link Jews, give Shabbat/os Zmanim, or to spread the word. But I haven't heard anything. (Which is another reason why someone should make a quality Jewish technology blog.)

Well there is less than a week until the Israeli Day Parade. Can someone use SmartMob technology at the Parade?

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Monday, May 17, 2004

Israel Concert

Saw a nice post from Nachum Lamm about the upcoming Israel Day post-Parade Concert sponsored, as always, by the National Council of Young Israel.
My question is why do the member Young Israels allow this mishugas to go on? I know plenty of Rabbis of Young Israel Synagogues who have much saner views about Israel and Israeli politics. Why can't they call up the national office and put a stop to this insanity?
Advice: If you are a member of a Young Israel Synagogue, ask your Rabbis if he believes in resettling 36 million gentiles in the land of Israel. If not, ask them to protest, loudly, against making Orthodox Judaism into a mockery.

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Egregious Forward Blunder

I had a chance to glance over The Forward this past Shabbos and noticed in their (offline) letters session a letter from Dovid Zwiebel from Agudath Israel defending their position regarding homosexual and the law and their distinction from YU in response to an article by SIW. The only problem is that the letter was titled "O.U. Firm in its Position." I guess all Orthodox Institutions are the same for the Forward (i.e. intolerant, fundamentalist, and wrong).

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Friday, May 14, 2004

Brain Death

Important article in the current Jewish Week re: Organ Donation & Brain Death. However, it (surprise!) doesn't really discuss the depth and complexity of the issue. Though it shows that Halakhic discussions sometimes has real world importance.
And there is the famous line about Rav Schechter & Rav Tendler agreeing that BrainDead people can eat Tuna Fish.

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Thursday, May 13, 2004

Ambition, Rabbis, Blogging, etc.

I had a nice AIM chat with AB yesterday. (God it's so difficult to find good conversation these days. If you want to talk and can hold up your half of a discussion please IM me.)

Essential points of discussion:
Ambition is viewed with ambivalence in many circles, among them academia, Rabbinic, Yeshivas.

One of the best books on ambition and intellectual life is Norman Podhoretz's Making It, which does a fairly good job of presenting this ambivalence.

A couple of highlights from the discussion:
Blogging is all about ambition or valuing oneself. One can delude oneself into thinking that what one has to say is important and needs to be out there, but that is usually intellectually dishonest.

In Yeshivos (based upon my experience), personal ego driven ambition is looked down upon, as learning should be completely lishmah. YU/RIETS shares this culture of anti-ago, anti-ambition. However, practically everyone needs ambition to get ahead. Working hard is almost never enough. Whether it's ambition to get a top job or position (Kollel Elyon, Rosh Yeshiva, Rav of a Big Shul, etc.) or to publish or give Shiurim.

Now, this ambition does not have to come from oneself. One can have a wife who is ambitious on her husband's behalf (pushing him), or a Rebbe or Rabbi pushing him. But someone has to be ambitious and this ambitious is often ego-driven.

Now, as this did not come up in the chat, most Mussar texts treat Ambition and Ego as very bad and the source of human failings. So people have to be ambitious while pretending not to be.

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Wanted: Housemates

Because of certain bloggers lack of blogging, we are looking for someone to pick up the slack. No pay, but free rent. Apply below in the comments session.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Islamist

Can someone please explain to me the difference between Islamic and Islamist. (Not that I don't know how they are used in today's Media, but it's an absurd distinction.)

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Responding to the Previous Post

Something I don't think people like the Seminarian, Bronstein, Lamm, Shatz, etc. don't get is that most of the Yeshiva World is not gorais (consider or take seriously) Yeshiva University or RIETS at all. The only time they attack it or Lamm is when he does something blatantly public, like having a NYT article about the Galachim visit to YU or call Bnei Torah, "Cavemen" (even if he claims he didn't). When they do something provocative, it provokes a response. Otherwise, YU is not even on the radar screen.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2004

YU & the Velt

I feel a bit uneasy about this post, as I am not fully qualified to be blogging on this topic (although that has never stopped me, or any other blogger, before). But I promised Elder Avraham that I would respond to his post about YU & the Yeshiva World, and I am not one to break my word (without promises of large amounts of cash or kavod). I hope that "The Hocker" who understands these issues better will post his thoughts on the matter. Or Chakira, who has spent some time in Lakewood and NIRC will weigh in on the matter.

Elder Avraham was Hocked to by Chancellor Lamm (President Lamm before he was transmogrified by the Board) and David Shatz (Court Philosophy of Modern Orthodoxy) on the Topic of Torah U-Madda.

Bronstein chose to post about why non-YU people attack YU (and in particular why non-YU people attack YU from the right), as opposed to why YU people (e.g. faculty, alumni, Roshei Yeshiva, students) attack YU.

Their particular line of reasoning goes something to the following effect:
Assumption #1: The Yeshivish world=Agudah=Jewish Observer=Yated Neeman=Lakewood=Moetzes Gedolah. (I.e. It's monolithic)
(This is wrong, as Modern Orthodoxy as diverse as it is, is much more monolithic than the Yeshivish world.)

Assumption #2: Since at dinners, etc. the Agudah, etc. honors askanim & gevirim who include doctors and lawyers, therefore it is hypocritical to attack YU because in order to make money as Doctors and Lawyers, one needs to go to college. Therefore college is good and therefore YU is good.

Assumption #3: All college requires intellectual thought and therefore has potential heresy. Therefore all college is good and is an all or nothing enterprise. Therefore any organization who honors someone who went to college but attacks any part of YU are heretics.

Elder A's extra assumption:
Since there is no distinction between YU and any other college and since Modern Orthodoxy is the same as the Yeshivish/Aguda, world, therefore the only reason why they might attack YU, Rabbi Lamm, or Torah U-Madda is issues of power and money. (unless I am misunderstanding him).

Though AB does have a good point. Shatz and Lamm spent too much time trying to understand the Other (in this case the Yeshivish World) on YU's terms not on their own terms. I think a good chuck of post-colonial literature will do them good.

Secondly, it appears that Rabbi Lamm's knowledge of the Yeshiva world (as it currently exists) comes from reading the Jewish Observer (and maybe the Yated Neeman). Does he know what really goes on in the Yeshivish world? Because, for example, if someone based their knowledge of YU solely on YU Today and reading the Commentator online, they would have a rather stanger perspective.

Personally I disagree with all the above assumptions.

A hope to explain the disagreement later, when I have more time.

UPDATE:
Firstly, I thing that most of the Yeshiva world has radical, outdated, misperception of YU and RIETS. Which is a shame.
A great story is told when Rabbi Baruch Simon, shlita, visited the Satmar Dayanim to talk in learning about mikvaos....

However, Rabbi Lamm & company also have a misperception of the Yeshiva World. Which is a worse crime, as YU/RIETS/Lamm places a value on being educated and worldly. Unlike their more right-ish counterparts.

Secondly, for all their misperception and misunderstanding of YU (when Rabbi Lamm complained about the Bobover Chassidim), nonetheless, one can ask about the large percentage of students who are not frum, how students walk around campus without Yarmulkahs, how YC teaches kefirah and avodah zara, and giluy arayos in its classes, and summer BRGS has non-religious professors teaching apikorsus to smicha students (not to say that as a secular college it should not, but it does not do wonders for perception and PR).

Many professors rant against students who do not take their intellectual life seriously and only do the minimal work to get the grade. So I find it disengenuous for Rabbi Lamm to claim that merely because someone has a BA, means that they seriously engaged General Studies (even for a psychology or an english major).

Lastly, as has been pointed out many times Rabbis Lamm & Shatz actually believe that Torah U-Madda means engaging non-Torah subjects and being challenged in one's beliefs. Therefore, it is no surprise how someone might consider this to be a non-Torah position.

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Thursday, May 06, 2004

Cosmopolitans & Provincials

Interesting thought on the train this morning:
Orthodox Jews, especially in the past twenty-something years live, almost exclusively in extremely cosmopolitan cities. Examples include New York, London, Toronto, Los Angeles, Jerusalem (though I do not know about Baltimore). I mean not that the Jews are sophisticated or educated, but that the city literally contains hundreds of different ethnic, cultural, and immigrant groups. Which I personally enjoy and celebrate. However, this is not the most condusive environment for building an insular fundamentalist community. It's the great irony of Orthodox Communities in the late 20th Century. They cannot survive but in massive cities. But massive cities are not the best place for Orthodox Jews.

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Rabbinic Blogging

SIW noted the phenomenon of Rabbinic Blogging a while back when he introduced Rabbi Yaakov Feldman's new blog.
Now in the months since, Rabbi Feldman's blog has become a serialized versions of already published books. Something less than online Shiurim. Not only does his blog contain almost no personal information, there isn't even a comments section for people to to respond to his remarks.

Now, its not my style to criticize other blogs, for various reasons, but I am highlighting Rabbi Feldman's blog to discuss the possibility of Rabbinic Blogging. Now, a bunch of other Rabbis have blogs, notably Josh Cypess, Simcha, and Uri Goldstein's guest stint on Protocols. And we can throw in Elder A, who technically a Seminary Student and not a Rabbi.

My question is what can be gained from Rabbinic Blogging. Here are some possibilities:
1) More of an insight into Rabbis lives, their challenges, their issues, etc. Rabbis (whether in Rabbanus/t, Chinuch, or Chaplaincy, often have to play a role and lose their own identity. Blogging gives an opportunity to see behind the mask.

2) A chance to gain an educated Rabbinic perspective on issues, etc. What does someone who knows most Torah have to say. (Though I am pessimistic about this because just because someone have learned Yoreh Deah does not mean that he has a "Rabbinic perspective".)

3) Some keep refering to Rabbis as leaders and leadership. But honestly, most Rabbanim I know are less leaders than communal workers. Even those with a Shul are less leading than negotiating and planning, advising, and suggesting than leaders in the grand sense. Which is fine. But I suspect that it will be a while before a Rosh Yeshiva, a head of the major Federation, or Jewish communal organization has a blog (unless SIW offers Jeremy Wieder a guest spot at Protocols). So I suspect that this idea is less significant.

4) Lastly, and this I think most possible, it the idea if introducing Halakhic discourse into the Blog-o-Sphere. Now this has been done before, discussing Halakha on blogs, on a haphazard basis, and many list-servs actually discuss Halakha, but I really think that Simcha is doing something interesting by laying out various major positions about current halakhic topics. More than just an online shiur, this is an engagement with the positions and an elucidation of the positions in the Blog-o-Sphere. It's not that the positions in themselves are or are not important. Rather it is the next step in bring halakhic discourse to the (computer literate) masses. Instead of having to read a sefer or a journal, even the English (Journal of Halakha and Contemporary Society) RJJ Journal, people can read these positions online. And not only that they can weigh in, in the comments section, the relative merit of each position.

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Sermonizing

OK. I have been slacking off on blogging as of late. Too busy and tired. But I would have thought that my housemates would have picked up the slack. Maybe we have an opening for a new blogger/housemate.

I have been IM-ing with people about SIW's offer to post links to anyone who Blog's their Rabbis Sermon. Only one person has done that so far.

Personally, I actually like Sermons. As a kid, I couldn't stand them and, for the most part, managed to avoid hearing more than 20 or so Sermons before graduating High School. But, with intellectual and spiritual maturity, you grow to like things like chopped liver and Rabbi's Drashot/s. Nowadays, I rarely get a chance to hear them, but try to pay attention when in a Shul with a Sermon.

But there is something anti-thetical between those who read and write blogs and listening to Sermons. If you are a member of a Synagogue, you hear the same Rabbi speak every week for months and years. Usually, you can pick up the Rabbi's style and take on life and Judaism and decide if you him and his sermons. If you like them and find them meaningful and relevant good for you. If you don't you have to work out what to do.

Sermonizing is a dying form. Most people I know enjoy a a good Drasha, but one chase after one. And their is something foreign about having a Sermon in middle of Tefillah. Those who want Torah can get Torah elsewhere and elsewhen.

Now in blogging you pick and choose who and what you read and how often you read him or her. You can find what you enjoy or find meaningful and decide when to read it. Unlike Drashos/t where you take them before Mussaf Shabbos morning or else.

It has been pointed out to me be various people the blurring between the lines between Divrei Torah and Drashot/s. The old time RCA pulpit Rabbis used to give sermons. And many of them were classics (for fun you should pick up an old RCA Sermon Manual and browse through the pages) and some of them were pretty good. Now, for various reasons which we will not get into here (among them people spending more time in Yeshivos/t, a more educated audience) the line between Divrei Torah and Sermons is blurring (which I think is for worse). Sermons now sound more like Divrei Torah with instructions in the end instead of a semon.

Christian bloggers often compare the art of blogging to that of sermonizing. I do not know for certain if this is true, but there are strong parallels between blogging and sermonizing.

I have wondered, as of late, if bloggers could spawn a new breed of Darshanim, Maggidim, who would sermonize in their blogs.

Reading/listening to blogs gives the ultimate freedom to the audience. Listening to drashos is usually to a captivated crowd. (Elder Bronstein talks about Rabbis saying what people want to hear.)

I have more to say about Rabbinic Blogging, but that will wait for later.

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