Please enable JavaScript in your browser to experience all the custom features of our site.

RabbiHorowitz.com

Mr. Harry Skydell, Chairman
Mr. Mark Karasick, Vice Chairman
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, Director
Rabbi Avrohom M. Gluck, Director of Operations
The first 1000 members will have a chance to win a
16 GB
iPod
touch
with Rabbi Horowitz audio

Membership Benefits:

  • Save articles to your favorites folder.
  • Save and print selected articles in a PDF journal.
  • Receive emails containing the latest comments on your favorite articles.
  • Mark articles as "READ".
  • More member features coming soon...

Raffle Rules:

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. To enter, complete the signup form and join as a member. Incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries shall become the property of CJFL. CJFL is not responsible for lost, misdirected or delayed entries.

The contest is open to the general public. Members need to be at least 18 years old. Identification must be produced on request. Employees of CJFL, its raffle sponsor, advertising and promotional agencies and their respective affiliates and associates and such employees' immediate family members and persons with whom such employees are domiciled are excluded from this raffle. ALL PREVIOUSLY REGISTERED MEMBERS WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY ENTERED INTO THIS RAFFLE. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded. Decisions of the raffle judges are final - no substitutions will be available. By claiming the prize, the winner authorizes the use, without additional compensation of his or her name and/or likeness (first initial and last name) and municipality of residence for promotion and/or advertising purposes in any manner and in any medium (including without limitation, radio broadcasts, newspapers and other publications and in television or film releases, slides, videotape, distribution over the internet and picture date storage) which CJFL may deem appropriate. In accepting the prize, the winner, acknowledges that CJFL may not be held liable for any loss, damages or injury associated with accepting or using this prize. CJFL retains the rights, in its absolute and sole discretion, to make substitutions of equivalent kind or approximate value in the event of the unavailability of any prize or component of the prize for any reason whatsoever. This contest is subject to all federal, provincial and municipal laws. CJFL reserves the right to withdraw or terminate this raffle at any time without prior notice. One entry per person.


In Praise of Fiction
by Rabbi Yonasan Rosenblum
Publication: Mishpacha Magazine

  Rated by 2 users   |   Viewed 6421 times since 9/4/08   |   2 Comments
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size    [ Change Font Size ] Email This Article to a Friend
   

9/4/08

Last week I wrote about the strain of poverty on chareidi society. Don't feel bad if you forgot, I often can't remember what I wrote about a week ago. I only remember in this case because over Shabbos I happened to read A. Amitz's story in the same issue of Mishpacha on the identical theme: how perpetual financial pressures can lead to a draining obsession with money no less than the pursuit of riches.

The "hero" of her story drops dead, shortly after the wedding of his third daughter, from the pressure of revolving loans from one gemach to another. But, in a reprise of a grim joke I heard many years ago from a father in the process of marrying off his children, the fathers' death proves to be the solution to marrying off the remaining children - glossy pamphlets can now be printed for a fund for the orphans.

Amitz details shekel by shekel how even someone living without luxuries, and who has a decent job, finds himself falling inexorably into debt as the children grow. That struck me as far more powerful than my column.

Chareidi fiction has become one of the best venues for the discussion of pressing communal problems. (At risk of revealing all the family secrets, I confess that not only do I read many A. Amitz stories, I always turn first to anything written by Dov Haller, and for precisely the same reason.) Somehow the fact that the stories are in a fictional form, even if they are "true", makes them less threatening, less subject to the charge of washing dirty linen in public.

Good fiction offers many other benefits as well. Through good fiction, we learn that people are much more complex than we think – an inevitable mixture of positive and less positive traits. It also teaches us that there are a multiplicity of ways of viewing any event, of which our own is only one.

The ability to enter imaginatively into another's perspective helps us master the ability to judge others favorably and to find the mitigating factors in behavior that initially arouses our negative judgment. Developing the quality of empathy, of being able to see matters from another's point of view, is one of the keys to successful living.

NOW I'D LIKE TO RETURN to the subject of poverty. As I wrote last week’s column, I could almost hear readers complaining: Why worry about poverty? Jews were much poorer in Europe.

For one thing, that earlier poverty provides little cause for nostalgia. The father of one of my closest friends was born after his parents lost twelve siblings in one epidemic. Fires regularly burned down much of the shtetl. In one particularly harsh winter, dozens of bochurim passed away of starvation or disease in the main Novordhok Yeshiva.

Nor should we imagine that extreme poverty did not take a spiritual toll. Formal chinuch ended for almost all boys before they even reached bar mitzvah age, and at that point they were apprenticed out to learn a trade or start working. Torah education was an unaffordable luxury for all but the very brightest or wealthiest.

An old Lithuanian rav interviewed for the biography of Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetsky could not stop talking about the hunger that was widespread in the inter-War period. When a bochur applied for admission to yeshiva, there was always a suspicion that he was really looking for a place where he might count on a few slices of bread. All those familiar with Eastern European Jewry between the wars attribute at least part of the widespread flight from religious observance to the prevailing poverty.

It is important to remember that poverty is partly a social construct dependent on the general standards of the surrounding society. On the one hand, indoor plumbing means that even the poorest person in Israel lives a more dignified life than even emperors of old. And anyone with heating and an air conditioner has more ability to control the heat around him than Louis XIV. But that does not make him feel like a king.

If society has determined that a hat like that worn by the Chazon Ish for more than fifty years is unacceptable; or that a bar mitzvah celebration of a few pieces of fish after a weekday aliyah l'Torah will not do, even though that was the standard in Eastern Europe; or that a formal vort is de riguer, despite the fact that such "simchas" were unknown 25 years ago, then the absence of such things will be experienced as humiliating.

Bottom line, there is no comparing our society to that of Eastern Europe a hundred years ago. By the same token, one cannot cite the fact that the rate of defection of youth from affluent communities in America or from the national religious community in Israel may be higher than in the chareidi community, to disprove my point that widespread poverty is a contributing factor to chareidi drop-outs.

The "at risk" phenomena in these different communities bear little relationship to one another. Here is one quick proof. Chareidi kids who leave the fold tend to sink very fast, and bringing them back usually involves first returning them to the status of mentsch. A modern Orthodox young man, who takes off his yarmulke as soon as he goes off to college, may otherwise not change in any discernible fashion, including his major life goals or his relationship to Hashem for that matter.

Of course, the necessary condition for our children following in the path of Torah u'mitzvos is that they feel a deep sense of connection to Hashem. And that is hard to nurture in a community in which great stress is placed on the pursuit of material opulence or in which children are raised to believe that there is no tension between secular culture and being a frum Jew.

The latter are not the challenges of Israeli Chareidi society. Ours are different, and the impact of poverty described last week is certainly one of those.



To sign up for Rabbi Horowitz’s weekly emails, please click here.


Reader's Comments:      Rating & Comments Policy      Rate & Write a Comment!
 Average Rating:              Rated by 2 users    (2 comments)
Subscribe to this Article
(by subscribing you will receive email notification
when new comments are posted)

Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


1. comparison     9/4/08 - 5:52 PM
Anonymous

The "at risk" phenomena in these different communities bear little relationship to one another. Here is one quick proof. Chareidi kids who leave the fold tend to sink very fast, and bringing them back usually involves first returning them to the status of mentsch. A modern Orthodox young man, who takes off his yarmulke as soon as he goes off to college, may otherwise not change in any discernible fashion, including his major life goals or his relationship to Hashem for that matter.

I don't think his proof is a proof. Why doesn't he compare a chareidi kid who takes off his yarmulke and goes to college with an MO kid who takes off his yarmulke who goes to college. I think you'll see the same results.

That's saying quite a mouthful, that he doesn't think the MO kid's relationship with Hashem will change. Is he aware of the numerous MO kids who enter college who subsequently drop Jewish practice and have intimate relationships with women? Those who work in kiruv in college campuses with an MO population will have some of them glad to participate in minyan etc. but if they've taken off their yarmulke, they are most likely to be heading downhill spiritually and these are not the guys showing up for shiurim. Is Rosenblum saying that their relationship with Hashem was just as bad before they entered college?!


Report this Post

Thank you.
Your report has been submitted.
You may not see immediate results on your browser, but rest assured, the offensive or inappropriate comment will be dealt with automatically.
You can only report a comment once.


2. Poverty - Materialism     9/5/08 - 3:12 AM
Ak-ey

Hi,

Before I respond to the article , here is my take on the point Anon wrote ( how about a user name , initial etc - I hate responding to Anons )

Chareidi kids who leave the fold tend to sink very fast, and bringing them back usually involves first returning them to the status of mentsch.

Chareidi kids who have 'left /leaving the fold' at least here in Israel , don't go to university or the army , basically they are very disfunctional. I was at a business training course where a young man , once a chareidi teenager , now not frum spoke to the group. I went to various yeshivos , dropped out , I don't have any ' haska'lah , no bagrut etc . Chareidi kids have been taught to avoid army and are disanvantaged when it comes to secular studies , not so with other frum kids who when they go off the derech still are functional as human beings.

The article reminded me of Eric Fromm's To be or To have where materialism is not a function of wealth or poverty but ones relationship to the material world , existential , experience or focusing on having . Poverty can thus be a big challenge in this area even more so than wealth, for the poor man , the material is so important in his life. So poverty breeds materialism and if I generalize (not good ) this explains why chareidi life is pretty materialistic ( shidduchin etc ). Imho it also explains why there is so much promotion of the lo lishma with rewards and prizes , promoting the gushmius. Gushmius is pretty important when you need to count every cent , nearly every minute of the day.

rabbi Rosenblum's articles also feature on the cross currents blog -for those who are interested in more comments

  Rate & Write a Comment!
Dear Readers:

Please visit our Parenting Resource listing to learn about agencies and services that you can make use of. If you know of an agency that can be of assistance to others, kindly drop an email to our site administrator at admin@RabbiHorowitz.com and pass along the information to him.

I ask that you please consider supporting the work we are doing to improve the lives of our children. Click on these links to learn more about our teen and parent mentoring program that serves hundreds of teens and their families, or our KESHER program, now in 20 schools in 4 states. Your financial support can allow us to expand these services and help more children.

If you believe in the governing principles of this website – to help effect positive change through the candid discussions of the real issues we collectively face, please consider becoming a daily, weekly or monthly sponsor of this website and help defray the costs of it’s maintenance.



Working with Families and Educators on Behalf of our Children

This site is managed by The Center for Jewish Family Life, Inc., 56 Briarcliff Drive, Monsey, NY 10952
Project Y.E.S. was founded by Agudath Israel of America
The Center for Jewish Family Life/Project YES - 56 Briarcliff Drive, Monsey, NY 10952 (845) 352-7100 ext. 114 Fax: (845) 352-9593
email: email@kosherjewishparenting.com


Advertisements