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.

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.

Comments-[ comments.]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

not very nice of you to post people's personal histories while maintaining your own anonymity

4:49 PM  
Blogger Nisht said...

When did I post anonymously?
(The R. Baruch Simon story was published in Hamevaser.)

5:21 PM  

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