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The Greatest Threat to Yiddishkeit - Your Thoughts
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

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5/11/08

Dear Readers:

The flurry of columns, letters and emails reacting to the article "The Greatest Threat to Yiddishkeit" really got me thinking about what my response would be to the question, "What Are the Greatest Threats to Yiddishkeit?"

I am preparing a series of columns on this subject and would greatly appreciate your input in the form of a response to that loaded question.

Thank you for your assistance.

Respectfully,

Yakov Horowitz



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1. my answer: cynicism     5/11/08 - 3:27 PM
anonymousfornow

Off the top of my head, I would say cynicism. (As I think more about this, I may have some others that will tie for first.) R. Frand has an excellent tape on this. Maybe more to the point, the actions that lead others to be cynical. Yes, we're all entitled to missteps, that's where being dan lecaf zechus comes in. But there reaches a point where it just gets to be too hard to give the benefit of the doubt.


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2.     5/11/08 - 5:41 PM
motty

I think the greatest threat to judaism IN GENERAL is the fact that alot of the people teaching our children- should not be teaching.The teachers and rabbeim are the people that are supposed to give judaism (hashkafa, hadracha,ect) over to our children ,to show them what judaism is all about(thats not say that parents get away with it)and if our children get the righ outlook on yidishkait then mabye we wouldnt have the issues that we have today with our teens AND adults. I would say that the greatest threat in particular would undoubtly be the internet.


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3. garne.ironheart.blogspot.com     5/11/08 - 5:43 PM
Garnel Ironheart

The greatest threat to Judaism today is that we have forgotten there is a higher purpose to the fulfilling of mitzvos than simply performing them to say you've done them. Instead, the mitzvos have become ends unto themselves. How else to explain people who are medakdek on the smallest rituals but have no problems with being rude or dishonest? Our goal is to become a people that shows to the world how God wanted things to ideally run. We must cooperate and perform mitzvos with that greater goal in mind instead of worrying about ourselves and "did I do the right thing for me?". But in this selfish culture, we worry about ourselves first and the greater good gets forgotten. How could we hate each other so much if we remembered that one of the greater goals is achdus? How could we fight with each other if we were all striving to bring God's Kingdom to this world?


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4. No Belief In Hashem     5/11/08 - 8:06 PM
Anonymous

People forgot the first commandment: I am Hashem

If people will truly believe that Hashem controls their income level, not their drei’s and shtick people would be ethical in business. If parents are aware of the partnership they have with HKB”H in raising their children they wouldn’t abuse their treasure given to them. How many at-risk teens would still be on the derech had they learnt the true halachos (written for Nefesh by Harav Dovid Cohen) of kibbud av to an abusive parents. Kids are not their parents toys. If people will live life to please Hashem not their neighbors by trying to emulate them (Lo Sachmod) how much happier the world will be. Socialism is not a great thing to emulate after all. If people truly believe that Hashem is mizaveg zivugim (creates spousal matches) not statistics as certain members of our community believe, the “Shidduchim Crisis” could be solved. By believing that Hashem is truly the master of everything, man becomes a receptacle for Hashem’s blessings.

By realizing what Hard Rock Café says: God is my co-pilot, only realize that he is more experienced than you.

This lack of basic belief in Anochi Hashem is the cause of all problems affecting Yiddishkeit.


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5. Needs Clarity     5/11/08 - 9:30 PM
Tayere Baal Habos

Before discussions begin, I think you need to be precise as to what you mean by greatest threat to Yiddishkeit. Yiddishkeit itself is not under any existential threat, that I'm aware of. It's alive and well. One type may thrive better than others, but there are so many variants that it's almost guaranteed to survive. Do you mean greatest threat of loss of individuals to OTD? Do you mean greatest demographic threat as a complete entity?


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6. Broad, Historical View     5/11/08 - 10:21 PM
Baruch Horowitz - Brooklyn, NY - borhowitz@yahoo.com

I don't find it helpful to focus on a single "greatest threat", but rather on different issues for different individuals, families, and communities.

In general, I like to put on a sociologist's and historian's hat, and view the growth of the Torah community compared to two hundred years ago, comparing and contrasting the challenges--social, intellectual, and economic--, because a historical view gives a much broader picture and insight into today's Jewish world(something I learned from R. Berel Wein).

One issue, which I haven't seen addressed sufficiently, is the issue of alienation of adults, as seen on blogs. The question is the proper forum for discussion, and also what, if anything can be done. I think that one has to look past any excesses and inappropriate expression on blogs and assume that many people are sincere, and then see what the unaddressed issues are.

I don't think that this is the most serious problem facing Klal Israel and will certainly not call it a "blog crisis"(it existed independent of blogs), but I have yet to see it addressed properly. I also agree that one needs to recognize positive in the community, as R. Horowitz wrote in "Retail Beauty and Wholesale Ugsightliness".


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7. Lack of respect     5/11/08 - 11:28 PM
bklynteacher

Society has lost the meaning of respect. 1. No respect for elders 2. No respect for parents 3. No respect for children 4. No respect for Jews who observe differently than you 5. No respect for the self-sacrifice of others (whether in the rabbinics, education, business world, soldiers, chesed organizations, children's struggles, etc.) 6. Most important, the lack of self-respect, not recognizing who we are, how precious we can be, how much we can accomplish with just a soft, pleasant and smiley disposition.


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8. Yiddishkeit threats     5/12/08 - 12:26 AM
Small Time Jew

Rabbi Horowitz, Thank you for at least attempting to open a forum in which to discuss such huge issues. There are many who will disagree as to whether any issues really exist. There are many things that I believe can be addressed.

First and foremost are the issues of leadership. The Gedolim who turned from educating to banning.The fallout rate for the respect of the Gedolim is horrendous. A Kol Koreh means nothing more than another ban that I need not pay attention to. It is just another joke to wrap my fish in. The Kol Korehs are usually agenda based as opposed to Halacha based.

The next would be corrupt Rabbonim and Batei din. There is no semblance to either Din or Torah.

The future of Klal Yisrael is our children and there are many teachers and principals who do not belong in Chinuch. Embarrassing or ostracizing a child is not Chinuch. This only turns a child off. The attempt to mainstream Chumros. Forcing a child to be Machmir on something which they don't even have the proper grounding for the baseline observance of a particular issue makes Judaism seem radicalized and that being Yeshivish is being a fanatic,and Bais Yaakov even crazier.

Being taught that not being a Kollel family makes you a nothing.

Parents never retiring because they need to support their married children forever because of an entitlement attitude.

Yiddishkeit has become a show of Frumkeit. I can be Machmir on things that you never heard of.

The Shidduch system is seriously broken. There was a new website created for people who hear great things about a Bochur but don't know where to get more information on him. So they are supposed to go to the net which is supposed to be assur to get more worthless info on a Yeshiva Bachur as no one would dare put any info which could possibly have real ramifications to the marriage.

Outward Baalei Chessed at the expense of family neglect. Yiras Shomayim is sadly disappearing. Without that there is no foundation for Yiddishkeit. Frum on the outside and Conservative on the inside.

Jews in the News who give Yiddishkeit a black eye. Unfortunately they are often people who are honorees of various Mosdos. the message to our children in that money = Kavod and the means of getting the money are justified by the end result of Kavod.


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9. Christianization of Judaism     5/12/08 - 1:29 AM
Elliot Pasik - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

Some of us are worshipping rabbis, not G-d. Or worshipping the Almighty dollar, not G-d. Emphasizing the public, ritualistic mitzvos, to the detriment of bein adom l'chaveiro mitzvos. Judaism is being Christianized. Meanwhile, the Christians are emulating classic Judaism, and I mean that as a compliment.

On a more practical level, the Jewish mother has been lost to us. She is on the D train going to work. We do not pay maaser - tithe or pay taxes - like other nations and religions do. So to pay for chinuch, the Jewish mother goes to work. This has many negative consequences, including child sex abuse. Our children are lacking normative social attributes and skills.

The spreading democratization of orthodox Judaism, fueled by the Internet, has already effected positive change, and will continue. I'm optimistic.


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10. Lack of Proccess and such     5/12/08 - 3:06 AM
Zachary Kessin - Israel - zkessin@kessin.com

I don't know if this is the "greatest" threat but the thing that worries me is the amount of Ex Parte rulings that have been issued. For example a Beit Din recently ruled that all conversions done by Rabbi Druckman are invalid. Now as far as anyone I have heard from has said they never spoke to Rabbi Druckman or any of the thousands of people he converted, nor did they give them a chance to respond or be heard. Of course the same happened with the concert ban and other issues.

I honestly don't know enough to know if Rabbi Druckman's Beit Din is kosher, but I do think that if you are going to rule on this issue he should be allowed to respond and find out who is accusing him. It is basic due process.


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11. Lack of Leadership     5/12/08 - 3:13 AM
Michael Sedley - Modi'in, Israel - MichaelSedley@hotmail.com

I my humble opinion, the single biggest issue facing Klal Yisrael today is a lack of clear leadership by leaders who are above petty-disagreements.

Looking around the Torah leadership today (Chareidi, MO, and Religious Zionist), I can't help but wonder where there is the equivelent of Rav Moshe, Rav Shlomo-Zalman, Rav Solavachic, or Rav Kook.

With all due respect to today's leadershipm I don't see any of them as a solution to the divisions or other problems facing Klal Yisrael today.


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12. the threat to Judaism     5/12/08 - 4:44 AM
Rafi Goldmeier - Bet Shemesh - israeli.jew@gmail.com

I think the biggest threat to Judaism today is our tendency to chumrohs. Chumrohs are fine, and it is not the chumrohs per se that I refer to as a threat. Rather, it is the idea of our herd mentality in accepting chumrohs just so we will appear more frum. And how we look down on others who do not keep the chumrohs that we keep.


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13. Lack of content     5/12/08 - 6:04 AM
Zachary Kessin - Israel - zkessin@kessin.com

Well Rabbi It looks like a lack of topics for you and others to talk about is not a threat. So enjoy that fact ;)


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14. Greatest threats     5/12/08 - 6:57 AM
steve mcqueen

Judaism is a culture which is passed down within the family. A Torah lifestyle will succeed in the face of a wide range of external threats, but the transmission of the culture is threatened when the sucess of education within the family is threatened. So in my view the greatest threat is the toxic combination of (1) poverty, (2) too many children and (3) poor parenting skills. When only 2 of these factors are present, families can still be ok, more often than not. When all 3 are present, disaster ensues.


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15.     5/12/08 - 10:21 AM
Anonymous

Probably the greatest threat to Judiasm is the incorporation of American attitudes into our lifestyle and calling them Jewish. The method of children being educated systematicly; (if you think this is an issue with Jewish education - check out the reaction to the no-child left behind act as well as the American education system in general). Contrary to popular belief, life is not a bowl of cherries. If you have an issue - grow up and face it; don't take pills! If you had a bad teacher/ parent/ boss etc. don't spend the rest of your life blaming them. Yes, there are issues which are bigger than the victim (abuse etc.), but because you weren't treated/raised perfectly in a multimillion dollar enviroment with two perfect parents, doesn't mean your life is over as soon as you are born. If you have an issue which is bigger than you, face it yourself! Don't expect the rest of the world to take care of it. American Consumerism; we live with a disposable mentality. If it don't work, buy a new one. This applies to relationships with families, Rabbonim, schools. If the school doesn't fit perfectly with what I want, I'm changing. If my wife/husband isn't what I expect perfectly, I'm doomed for an unhappy marriage. Americans cannot accept the concept of responsibility.(Why do you think we're leaving Iraq - we made the mess, but why should we clean it up?) If a CEO has his company lose millions, he leaves with a golden parachute (think Home Depot, Countrywide). When a child is not perfect, it's always the school's fault; never the parents. Nevermind the parent never called the Rebbe until there was an issue. It's the school's fault! America is a monotheistic country, meaning there is only one G-d; the almighty dollar. If you have money, you are it. Even in the frum community, if you are not the next Gadol Hador, you are expected to become the next supporter of the Yeshiva. Money is king. As long as you do nothing publicly wrong, your name will be on the door of the institution. It's either all or nothing in the USA. If you are not a millionare, then I don't want to talk to you. If you are not the perfect child, who knows all the homework, or the perfect parent with the perfectly behaved children, you are worthless. The American herd mentality. No one likes a loser, so we do what we percieve as winners. One of the reasons the price of oil is so high is because investors are pouring money (and credit) into the commodities markets. Any bit of news moves markets. (Remember technical analysis from Finance 353?)Does anyone do what they think is right anymore? R' Shlomo Zalman Zt'l used to decry the practice of always asking a Rov for anything and everything;; look up the Halacha and decide yourself! (and from Jerusalem His Word)R' Yackov used to say sometimes you have to feif un the world! (Artscroll -R'Yackov)If you don't like the way something is- do it your way. Don't be afraid of your own shadow! The world may be a cruel place, but there are good people out there, and do what suits you. Challenge the system, but in an appropriate way. Americans are cynical, but in the wrong way. No one ever does anything right. Congress can't get a bill passed because they will offend someone. Grow up and offend someone. If they can't take it, and you know that you're right do it. As the saying goes, a Rov who pleases everyone is not a Rov. But have a positive attitude. R' Moshe Sherer Z'tl fought the Reform movement tooth and nail. During his final illness, he recieved a call from a leader of the Reform movement, telling R' Sherer he is praying for him, as R' Sherer was a man of principal, he knew when to criticize, when not to, and nothing was personal. Constructive critism is fine, and if is not taken, don't take it as a personal affront. If it is given to you, you can decide to listen to it or ignore it. Sprituallity is something of the more I don't understand, the more spiritual it is. Learning Shas is nothing compared to Chasidus and Kaballa. Singing during the performance of a mitzvah has become more of a spiritual experience than the mitzvah itself. Even the Chasidic Rebbes learned Shas before learning Nistar (cf. Meor V'shemesh Parhas Nitzvim) The Baalei Mussar note wherever a Jew is in Golus he picks up the attitudes of surrounding gentile poplulations. While few have totally assimilated everything noted above, there is more and more of a trend towards many or these attitudes.


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16. Basket cases     5/12/08 - 10:22 AM
anom

The greatest threat to Orthodox Judaism is its families becoming basket cases. Men with inadequate secular education, non-existant job skills, with a support system of beggars, working wives, and in-laws delaying retirement; all to keep them sitting at their desks in the Beit Medrash. And who is raising the children, who are our future? More troubling than the economics of the situation is a great people being sold a bill of goods and becoming by choice a nation basket cases.


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17. Biggest Threats to Yiddishkeit     5/12/08 - 10:35 AM
Jameel - Shomron - muqata@gmail.com

Weak Leadership (or lacking vision) Confronting Modernity without conflict Jewish Unity


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18.     5/12/08 - 11:14 AM
Anonymous

Before everyone starts bashing Kollel, by the time they leave kollel, as well as over the course of their lives, they actually have less debt than someone with huge student loans, and their job skill are a different set; more Rabbinic oriented (who supervises your kosher food, teaches your kids, etc.) If we paid them what they are worth (tuition is much cheaper at a Jewish school than a comparable Secular Private one) they might not become basket cases. Most of the letters received in the mail are for families who had a working father; they just fell on hard times.


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19. Not enough Shakespeare     5/12/08 - 11:40 AM
joel rich

A review of this and other blogs leads me to believe the greatest area of opportunity (that's the correct buzz word in my office) is not enough Shakespeare reading to come across the following quote from Julius Ceasar "Cassius:"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,But in ourselves, that we are underlings."

In our context we seem to always find the fault elsewhere - for example, if you think leadership is the problem, demand better etc.

KT


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20. To Anon 18. Economics 101     5/12/08 - 11:43 AM
Taayere BaalHabos

>If we paid them what they are worth (tuition is much cheaper at a Jewish school than a comparable Secular Private one) they might not become basket cases.

Firstly, if we paid them what they're worth, no one could afford the tuition. Secondly, there are market forces at play. It's supply and demand. The larger the pool of Rebbeim, mashgichim, the less thay're worth. The problem is that the more people who work in the system, it becomes a closed economy. And everyone wants to live like a King. Yes, having ten children, summer camps, braces, starched shirts on Shabbos, Pesach expenses, is living like a king. And you just can't have everyone living like a King in the same economy. If we exclude ourselves from outside employment options, we can't *all* live like kings.


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21. Vahavta Leraiacha Camocha     5/12/08 - 11:53 AM
Anonymous

The biggest threat facing us is that we have forgotten how to love our neighbors like ourselves.


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22. our educators     5/12/08 - 12:25 PM
Anonymous

the fact that we have Menahalim and people whom offer advice that have no real chochmas hatorah. we have people who start schools, and don't even really learn every day. they don't respect gedolim, and even write in public forums in ways that people lose respect for our gedolim. the worst part is, is that somehow they even have the respect of some people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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23. Basket cases cont.     5/12/08 - 12:46 PM
anom


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24.     5/12/08 - 1:02 PM
Anonymous

Being in debt has nothing to do with basketitis. Not being responsible for your own life and being dependent on others has everything to do with becoming a basket case. Unfortunately, being dependent on others comes with a heavy price, and that's what I'm talking about.


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25.     5/12/08 - 1:12 PM
Anonymous

1) demoralizing chinuch articles that constantly harp on what's wrong

2) absentee mothers, and mothers who don't know what it means to be a "Yiddishe Mama" or don't view that as an ideal

3) giving credence to and incorporating the psychobabble out there into our world; psychologists, social workers and other secularly educated individuals who have warped our thinking and yet, are given honor and allowed to address us and guide us

4) the encroachment and overpowering lure of the secular world


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26. Warped Thinking     5/12/08 - 1:26 PM
Baruch Horowitz - Brooklyn, NY - borhowitz@yahoo.com

"psychologists, social workers and other secularly educated individuals who have warped our thinking and yet are given honor and allowed to address us and guide us "

Can you elaborate on the concept of "warped thinking"(ie, on the the ideas, without mentioning names)?

I know a very yeshivish mashgiach who consults with a secular-educated professional when he thinks its necessary.


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27. A Shocking Experience     5/12/08 - 1:26 PM
Anonymous

During a discussion with my son's Rabbaim in Israel I mentioned that my son had role models, his two brothers who work but who also do a tremendous amount of Chesed work.I told two specific stories about these sons that clearly show unbelievable generosity of their time and efforts helping Klal Yisrael. Quite frankly I would never do what they have done and and I am sure that 90% of frum Jews would also not do what they have done. I got no reaction from either Rebbe. Later my son told me his interpretation of the meeting based on his opinion of these top Rabayim and on a four month relationship -,"Ma, they are not impressed by Chesed only by Torah Learning." This son is a top learner with BH outstanding behavior. This is a top of the line- cream of the crop Yeshiva.I know these are great men far greater than me but you and I would have reacted quite differently had you heard my stories.There is something seriously wrong with the Chinuch at this Yeshiva and I fear that this is a prevalent mentality at other yeshivos. I hope not.


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28.     5/12/08 - 1:54 PM
Yehoshua

A perfect storm of:

High birth-rate Deficient earning power Lack of foresight / leadership

The financial strains on families and Klal Yisroel will may cause untold hemorrhaging in other areas.


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29. re psychol.     5/12/08 - 4:09 PM
Anonymous

to B. Horowitz:

Within even getting into particulars, tell me, do you think that the material a psychologist or social worker must master in order to obtain a degree is Torah hashkafa?

To be more specific: do you think the secular ideas about happiness, relationships, and religion jive with Torah? What role does the neshama play in their thinking? What about G-d?

It's the mental health field which has put millions of American children on mind-altering drugs. Do you think that's a great step forward for chinuch?

It's the mental health field which must take a lion's share of the responsibility for the breakdown of the family. They have warped the roles of parents and children, husbands and wives, parents and children.

Yes, some frum therapists have done some good. But how many have encouraged couples to divorce? How many have wasted the time and money of frum people? How do you weed out the good from the bad?


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30. Biggest Threat     5/12/08 - 5:28 PM
Anonymous

1) Poverty among Jews in Eretz Yisroel

2) The number of Jews not joining their fellow Jews in Eretz Yisroel to strengthen it and its Jewish and religious values.


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31. TRS's (www.therealshliach.blogspot.com) take     5/12/08 - 5:32 PM
TRS - S. Paul, MN - therealshliach@gmail.com

Boy, there are so many problems that I don't know what to pick. How about several? One problem is that people don't know their history. They think that "back in the day" people didn't have problems. This is nonsense. As King Solomon says, "There is nothing new under the sun." There has never been a time in Jewish history, at least not since the days of Solomon himself, that the Jews weren't facing destruction, whether of the physical or spiritual variety. I hear, and more and more I see, that "our children" are abandoning the values we hold dear. Is this a problem? Certainly. Should we work as hard as we possibly can, and at least half an hour longer than that, to try and solve this problem? Of course. At the same time though, we have to realize that we aren't living in a vacuum. Our parents had the same struggle, and so did their parents too. Maybe that struggle was physical, but it was the same trouble. And for those who would prefer that physical struggle, well, they obviously don't know what's good for them. It's funny, because there are a couple of things that science and Torah agree to agree on. One of them is that the universe has a beginning, and that time is not infinite. Another is that the sole purpose of life is the propagation of the species. Science is much more clear about this, but anyone who bothers to think for a second will surely realize that this is what the Torah says as well. The first Mitzva is to have kids. According to some opinions in Halacha (I don't recall the source, you'll have to trust me on this one), a person only fulfills this requirement if they have grandchildren. The point? That propagation is the most important thing. The Torah does not say that the Mitzvah is to have Frum children, or smart children, or obedient children; the Torah wants us merely to have the children. Obviously, we have a responsibility to these children of ours. We must teach and guide them, but ultimately they are responsible for their own actions. So our are children the most important problem facing Judaism today? Yes, but they are also the most important solution facing Judaism today. Without them we are nothing. This ties into a question that I've been asking myself as of late: What is the most important thing to me, to have all my children or all my grandchildren be Frum. It's not an easy question, and obviously I hope that all of my descendants follow in the paths of their fathers, but I think that the question is ultimately a moot one. My job is to have the kids and try to teach them; the rest is up to G-d.


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32. response to #30     5/12/08 - 5:40 PM
Anonymous

Why is poverty among Jews in Eretz Yisroel a bigger threat then poverty among Jews in America? To all those critisizing people who are dependant on help from other people, has poverty become a crime? Last I checked Tzedoka was a Mitzva and not taking Tzedoka when you need it is the opposite. We should encourage people to seek out help when they are in need and not stigmatize them. We should also be doing more to help the needy become more self sufficient by more effective Matan Beseter activites. We should be helping people out more with yeshiva and camp tuition without humiliating them.


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33. re comment #31     5/12/08 - 6:15 PM
Anonymous

the sole purpose of life is the propagation of the species.

Like animals? Huh? How about the sole purpose of life is to recognize our Creator. See what it says in Aleinu. That sums it up.

It's definitely true that reproducing ourselves is a mitzva and a critical one. However, to say: The Torah does not say that the Mitzvah is to have Frum children, or smart children, or obedient children; the Torah wants us merely to have the children.

is absurd since another mitzva of the Torah is "v'shinantom livanecha" - teaching our children Torah. If Jews don't provide a proper chinuch for their children, then the lack thereof will G-d forbid spell the end of our people. It has been noted that more Jews have been lost to the spiritual Holocaust of assimilation than to the physical Holocaust of Hitler. Jews marry out and it's goodbye to their children as Jews.


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34. Silly question     5/12/08 - 11:26 PM
Mark

What a silly question. The greatest threat is the same thing it has always been - Sinat Chinam!!!


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35. to have kids and to do our best     5/13/08 - 5:58 AM
RG

Chizkiyahu was punished with almost dying because he didn't get married. The reason he hadn't got married was because he saw with a prophesy that if he did have children, they would be bad - very very bad, not just not Frum but one would try to destroy the Jews spiritually, (King Menashe) and the other I believe became the traitor (RavShoke) who tried to deliver the Jews to the enemy. So Chizkiyohu was on his deathbed when Hashem sent the Novi to warn him that he was dying because he refused to have the kids. The message being that it was his job to have the kids, and not to make Cheshbonos that since they would almost certainly be bad it would be better if they had not been born. He repented immediately, and married the Novi's daughter, hoping her influence might change things, but his sons still ended up pretty bad (although I think Menashe had a good descendent).

The message I get from this is that it is a good thing to be alive, even if that life is not being lived properly. Additionally, where there is life, there is hope. Also, if you take careful reckoning, you can sometimes change things, eg by marrying the Novi's daughter perhaps that caused the grandson to be a Tzaddik. Thus he used his brain to change a lose-lose situation into at least a bit of a win, enabling him to bear the children. Finally, that it's not always the parents (or even Society's) fault when things go wrong, and the kids aren't frum. Sometimes, it's a challenge to see how we will react, to see if we can try to cut our losses as best as we can.


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36. One size doesn't fit all     5/13/08 - 9:33 AM
Charnie - NY - melacondour@yahoo.com

Over the past 15 years (give or take some), I've watched our Orthodox communities become increasingly inflexible. Why is it today that a boy going to college (who has a regular seder) is considered "undesirable" for a shidduch? Who will support our next generation who feel everyone, regardless of capabilities, must be learning boys and kollel families?

And yes, a shidduch crisis is also a grave threat. Discouraged women will have a much harder time keeping their faith strong.

And certainly the immorality of American culture threatens us all, no matter where we live or what we do for a living.


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37. In defense of mental health professionals     5/13/08 - 9:54 AM
Benzion Twerski

As one of those frum mental health professionals, I will respond with another perspective. There is a large organization of frum mental health professionals called Nefesh International with a Moroh D’Asro and an active program in insuring that our applications of our respective academic backgrounds and training remain consistent with true Torah values. Though an active member of this organization since its inception as well as one who invested much time to bring frum professionals together, I am not an officer of Nefesh or its spokesman, and my opinions that follow are mine.

1. The training in psychiatry, psychology, and social work is primarily secular. Yet, most frum professionals have continued their involvement in learning Torah, at least comparably to other frum people who enter a career. I say this from knowing many of them. We are not dealing with those who abandoned Torah and frumkeit to dedicate themselves to a secular lifestyle.

2. As for psychobabble, I agree that there is an awful lot of it. There are entire movements founded on the use of language that refers to vague, nebulous concepts that form a huge, meaningless vocabulary. These discussions are impressive, but the aftermath is that nothing was said, heard, or understood. Some of that hits our media. That notwithstanding, there is much that is written and published that is clear and meaningful. How to judge between these two is sometimes difficult.

3. Warped thinking? I do not see mental health professionals exhibiting warped thinking any more than individuals from any other grouping. Are there those who do not think straight? I bet there are. And there are roshei kollel and yeshivos, accountants, Rabbonim, lawyers, plumbers, teachers, street cleaners, and writers who also have warped thinking. I would not generalize this to a field but would identify this as an individual shortcoming. And I would add that I have heard many professionals speak publicly, and I accord them their earned respect even though I may disagree with them. My taking issue with them is not an indication of “warped thinking”.

4. I would also disagree strongly with blaming the breakdown of the family on the mental health professionals. Speaking for myself, those couples I see have been in serious trouble for way too long before seeking help. They have generally been through various Rabbonim and askanim who were unable to help them. They have also resisted seeking help because of the stigma and expense involved. So when they enter the office, there has been considerably more damage and bitterness than the average marital counseling situation. When they leave to seek divorce, many who have financial means seek high priced attorneys and proceed with lengthy battles that continue abusive patterns long after they have separated. These issues take massive toll on all involved, and these get the most attention. There may be more divorce today (I have not seen any reliable statistics), but there are many other sources to examine to truly understand reasons for breakdown of family.

5. The medication comment was totally inaccurate and frivolous. There is a longstanding debate regarding medications for childhood conditions. It is all too often that the pressure to prescribe comes from the education field. Many parents report to me that their child has been banned from returning to school until he/she is on medication. While we can debate the merits of these medications, there is unquestionably a place for them. I would prefer to see this being handled by the medical professionals. Incidentally, non-medical mental health professionals do not prescribe medication at all. Additionally, not every pediatrician and not every psychiatrist is properly trained to diagnose pediatric psychiatric conditions or treat them. Most mental health professionals have established relationships with those who have these areas of specialty. Here, too, I absolve the mental health professionals from the swatch of blame in an earlier post.


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38. synergy between rabbonim and mental health professionals     5/13/08 - 10:26 AM
anonymousfornow

Re Dr. Twerski's comment 37, I know of a noted mashgiach who met a psychiatrist while visiting the latter's city. The mashgiach was taken with the dr., a true ben Torah and now consults with thim. The Dr. now has a relationship with this rav, among others, and his practice is informed by daas Torah. So it can happen.


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39. Here's An Opportunity...     5/13/08 - 11:26 AM
G - rainmangf@gmail.com

I am not so much a fan of finding "threats to" Judaism as I am a proponent of finding "opportunities for".

Here are three:

1) Economic – There has to be an organized effort by ALL community institutions/organizations to keep community money in the community. It's only after community needs have been met that one should give to other institutions and organizations. The impacts of such an effort would be significant and wide ranging.

2) Untapped Resources – The Jewish Community has within its midst a vast and wholly ignored resource known as “singles”. Let’s try for just a moment to think of these individuals as actual people as apposed to shidduch possibilities (I know this will be hard but give it a shot). Why not engage them as an asset instead of dooming them to limbo status as far as the community is concerned. As a group they more often than not have available time, energy and talents to offer. We might be surprised at how willing they would be to get involved…if only the invitation was proffered.

3) Chinuch/Education – A decrease in the shaping of Judaism using an “us vs. them” approach. This applies whether “them” is non-jews or simply another sect/group/movement/wing/camp/party/gang/tribe within Judaism. More emphasis on the positives; not to the exclusion of the negatives that are out there (because they are out there)…but perhaps more as the primary tool.


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40. BeShvili Nivra HaOlam! (Without the accompanying ‘Anochi Afar Va’Efer’)     5/13/08 - 11:28 AM
MB - New York

I can show off my beauty, my riches, my unparalleled children(they mirror my perfection), and my brilliant mind(which is unequalled in its common sense, street smart, and book smart). I will graciously accept your admiration of these possessions, however, I will squash and belittle those who contest it. If you suffer from Sholom Bayis/self-esteem problems as a result of this, it only proves your inadequacy in these areas, and you should try to emulate me more.

Undisputed is the fact that my lifestyle is the ONLY acceptable one. In religious observance, any one stricter than me is a fanatic, and anyone less than me is irreligious. I will determine where you measure up in your religious observance based on my own opinion, which is part omniscient, part speculation, part experience, and ...

totally wrong.


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41. Response to 35     5/13/08 - 11:32 AM
Anonymous

"although I think Menashe had a good descendent"

You're correct. He's called Mashiach!

In fact Rav Tzadok uses this exact example to demonstarte that every Jew has a place in the briah. Even a rasha like Menashe.


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42.     5/13/08 - 4:57 PM
Anonymous

Menashe's son was Yoshiyahu, a tzaddik.


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43.     5/14/08 - 12:58 PM
AM - NY

I would like to bring up a pet peeve which may not be the greatest threat to Yiddishkeit, but nevertheless has far reaching effects. I feel that the need to maintain a facade of external perfection in the name of "shidduchim" is pervading our lives. It is responsible for important descisions that can have life altering effects, the shrouding in secrecy of all deviancies (thus intensifying shame and guilt), and increasingly dictates the minutiae of daily living. While reading supposedly true contemporary Jewish stories I frequently encounter statement such as "We couldn't tell anyone about his diabetes because we didn't want to affect his siblings shidduchim". Or "We didn't want to take her to a psychologist because if word got out she would never find a good shidduch". How about "Divorce was unavoidable, but we tried to stick it out until the kids were married so as not to ruin their shidduch chances". Schools are rejected because of their potential effect on the child or his sibling shidduchim. People don't tend to share this type of information with me and I don't know if the particulars mentioned are true, but the fact is that they they do ring true for our society. I understand that the shidduch crisis is real, and people are justifiably worried, but I feel that the aura of fear, shame and caution that this attitude casts over us is a high price to pay.


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44. AM in NY     5/14/08 - 1:10 PM
anonymousfornow

I know the shidduch crisis is real, but have to wonder how much is due to all the insanity, such as you mention. There is a new cure now, for a boy and girl to marry close in age. I think it's great to think outside the box, but to posit this as the cure, without *taking into consideration the attrition rate boys, that is skewing the demographics *emphasizing the need for boys and girls to figure out what they as individuals need to build a bayis neeman , vs. the expected minimum years doing x, y,and z *fill in your own blanks

is downright scary.It will also result in 20 and 21 year old girls not getting married among the 20 and 21 year old girls who feel that 21 and 22 year old boys aren't ready for marriage. Maybe not so terrible, but will this be accompanied by the boys being more substantial and worthy of the excellent girls we're producing?

I'm sorry for the rant, but there is too much emphasis on certain hoops young couples are expected to jump through and too little emphasis on treating these kids as individuals, who can build batei neeman and contribute to society in many different ways.


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45. What we lost...     5/14/08 - 3:16 PM
Micha - Passaic, NJ - micha@aishdas.org

The loss of the mussar movement.

Then we would have a plan for how to avoid cynicism, teaching Judaism without providing outlook, without knowing that "there is a higher purpose to the fulfilling of mitzvos than simply performing them to say you've done them", operating without yir'as Hashem, or without kavod for other people (just to pull items from earlier comments), from disasters like what's going on in Postville, or written up in "Retail Beauty and Wholesale Unsightliness".

The solutions we have today accommodate the modern's quick-fix mentality, and therefore are too shallow to actually allow a person to reach qedushah.

In short, this loss is the underlying cause of the vast majority of items already identified.

But there is a solution: buy a notebook, start a cheshbon hanefesh and get to work. And then, after it's integrated into your lifestyle that there is a need to shteig not just as an idiom, but as "climbing" a ladder of one's potential, buy your child a notebook...

-Micha


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46. Threats to Torah Judaism     5/14/08 - 3:20 PM
Andy Rechtshaffen - Toronto, ON - arechtsh@dico.com

1. G-d. Most frum Jews don't think much about G-d. We can be meticulous in mitzvos. We can daven three times a day. But how much of our thoughts are really about G-d? How many "Shivisi" Jews do we really know. The Evangelical Christians are much more comfortable talking about G-d than we are. I heard a story that, in the early years of the automobile, a posek questioned how a Jew could drive, since it would necessarily take his mind off Hashem. Can we even relate to such a concern today?

2. Judging. We have to stop looking down on others. We all know that sinas chinam destroyed the Temple, yet we continue to build ourselves up by putting others down.

3. Complacency. How many of us really strive to perfect our middos? Some of us seem to think that are middos are good enough, because all those goyim out there are so much worse. I've seen such lack of consideration by frum people that I question whether the goyim are worse. We are supposed to be the Torah nation, and lead the world by example. How many of us can hold ourselves up as such an example, let alone our communities?

4. Shidduchim. The superficial considerations that go into shidduchim these days, especially those dealing with the almighty dollar. The purpose of a shidduch is create a Jewish family, and carry on the Torah mesorah. It's not so that the parents can feel proud at making a chashuva shidduch. Is it any wonder that the frum divorce rate has skyrocketed compared to the previous generation?


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47. Shidduchim     5/14/08 - 7:58 PM
RG

People have been writing about Shidduchim and it is a problem, not just in getting people married but in them staying married, and finding happiness in marriage. Let's assume for the purposes of this discussion that people are generally marrying the right one. Not "the one they deserve coz they themselves have also got really bad middos" but "the one with whom they'll grow closer to Hashem and each other".

There's so much emtional and intellectual flexibility that is needed to be able to do this successfully. For example, if a problem arises, or a new situation, eg the wife is pregnant. So then, one tends to lean on the other, who tends to withdraw (I don't know which comes first). There's too much relativity here. People have to know how to be emotionally and intellectually independent. This can lead to strength, because they can see the situation objectively so they don't need to lean or withdraw. They also don't need to get all emotionally involved in an arguement. Instead, they can better understand the dynamics of discussion, what the other is really saying. They can differentiate between the rational and the fear in the spouse's arguements (and in their own for that matter). All arguments and justifications will fall away. You can see who needs to work on which Middah, you help each other so to do, and there aren't anymore problems. Wouldn't it be nice?

But because we are intellectually and emotioanlly immature, we tend to accept the other's words as their total and unchangeable position, we react, retaliate. There is no room for discussion, for changing your own or other people's minds. Everything is so charged.

We need to learn to become emotionally and intellectually developed, independent, aware, practised.

We all know the serenity prayer = let's work on changing what can be changed and accept what can't. The difficulty is of course in differentiating between the two. Actually, sometimes things can be changed in the future, just not yet. So we have to develop plans of actions, to know what to try to change, how, and in which order. And patience for the real time that the process takes. But how do you know which category things fall into?

By developing our non-verbal communication reading ability. We *can* understand ourselves and our spouses (or potential spouses) better if only we knew that it's a skill that can be cultivated. We also have to get our prejeudices out of the picture, or else we may self sabotage.

But everyone is to busy investing themselves in trying to make money that they have no time to make a life. Don't they know that the money you get is prearranged on Rosh Hashono? Your only real choice is whether to be a Tzaddik or Rosho. So what do we each choose? I don't know which category being active about money making and quite passive about learning life skills is in, but I know which category I would put it in.


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48. CLIFFNOTES TO #47     5/14/08 - 9:07 PM
Anonymous

Your essay is in a nutshell why:

1] The risks are so high to marry children from dysfunctional homes UNLESS they have consciously distanced themselves from these behaviors. 2] These children need to see how a normal family should look like. 3] Couples are encouraged to go on more dates/longer dates to make sure they can deal with each other for life. 4] Pre-marital counseling.

Shidduchim require actions NOT statistics and scare tactics.


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49. to cliffnotes #48     5/15/08 - 2:51 AM
RG

Thanks for the cliffnotes, and the clarity, but no, I disagree with the conclusion.

There's no such thing as a "Normal family" anymore. Each and every one of us has been influenced by the strong strong prevailing culture of not being internally strong but leaning on people around us, or else we lean on organization or ideals - anything rather than feel internally grounded, safe, trusting, explorative, humble.

So I'm writing for each person, whether their area of difficulty is going to be felt at the Shidduchim stage or after marriage. At the Shidduch stage an individual who's too closed minded will think that money brings happiness, or that a fun, spunky exterior, means guaranteed pleasure, or can't consider a BT, or a local spouse, or a foreign one, etc. Or they might blame society instead of trying to use the gap time helpfully to develop internally and in other relationships.

But that's not to say that the people who get married younger aren't guilty of the same crime. Most of us are to some degree or another, and it comes out as lack of Sholom Bayis. You suggest pre marital counselling, but really if it's just in order to be able to get married and to protect onelself within marriage, this is not likely to be deep enough. I'm talking about being real, through and through, and what I'm hearing about premarital counselling worries me. For example, you learn to give "I messages". eg "I am upset about what you did. I hate the way you said that."

However, modifying the way you speak is only shoving the problem to a more invisible part of oneself. You have to modify the way you ARE, they way you feel, and try to inculcate into your psyche: what are your priorities? If marriage is the most important relationship of your life it should be given your full attention. Not just your time, but your heart as well. Lots of people's hearts are completely elsewhere, perhaps at the Olympics or on a very long cruise, and they don't know why their spouse is so stubborn when they are using all the correct "I messages". Making one's most important relationships also feature as the most important part of one's heart and goals is a process but it requires a direct and concerted effort, it's not something that slips in quietly behind all the "I messages". Actually, you don't have to make it the most important part of your heart, because a Jewish couple really does have a direct and strong heart-link to one another. Yet, this is often not experienced as such since the person is more aware of their own bad Middos, misbeliefs, anger, anxieties, and sadnesses, basically their own or their spouse's issues. SO all we need to do is release the blockages to experiencing a wonderful marriage.

I wonder whether this internal growth could speed up the SHidduch process for those who are still waiting, but it certainly would give them hope, fulfillment, confidence and enable them to use their gap years in a way that feels right to them.

I also disagree when you said that couples need to date longer. It's the belief that you can trust your own decision, and G-d's direct hand in bringing a couple under the Chuppa that will give the couple the confidence to trust that the marriage is the correct one, and they can then branch out in new ways to make it successful. If an artist has no canvas his picture is not going to be much good drawn on the ground outside. Similarly, a person must have a firm framework before they will trust that it's worth putting in the effort. Nobody I know is happier divorced, even when their husbands were horrible guys. Second marriages have an exceptionally high failure rate. We have to trust ourselves, our marriages, and G-d more.

I hate getting so long but I'm not as good as you at being succint. You said that kids from dysfunctional homes need to see how a regular home should look. True, but seeing is not necessarily believing and it doesn't deal with the emotional belief or lack of confidence in their ability to create such. You can't teach long-term confidence, it can only be internally generated when the person is ready. You can help people become more confident or able by facing their issues, memories, incorrect beliefs head on, with a validating and challenging attitude (obviously by someone qualified to do this effectively, and obviously only if the person is willing). Nevertheless we should not be such snobs as to have an "us" and "them" attitude. Which of us can really say "I am more ready to get married that he is"? We've all got issues, it's a lifelong process to gradually let go of a bit more bad, inculcate a bit more good, heading towards peace and completion.

You recommend pre marital counselling, as above, yet I don't think it is thorough enough to get to the root of problems. It also seems to me to be too late. If this is a thing for life, it's an attitude that should be inculcated from day 1 of a person's life. So many problems such as misbeliefs are seeping in from the outside world so no-one is immune, other things come from parent's and grandparent's attitude, even if it didn't cause dysfunction in the parent or grandparent's house for one reason or another, without the idyllic life that the parents and grandparents had eg communal and/or financial stability, the kids may be heading for a bad place. This generation is being given the honor of a lot of challenges so that problems come to the open much more. This has the benefit in that we can find the roots of problems and get rid of them, bringing the final Tikkun, fixing, of the sin of Adam and Eve that we have been unwittingly perpetuating.

If people would try to get to the roots of things, it is not so difficult, forbidding, or long term as people may imagine.

Your final comment I agree with 100 per cent:

Shidduchim require actions NOT statistics and scare tactics.

Ditto for keeping kids on the derech, keeping marriages going and improving them, helping children and adults live in a better Jewish society. A positive, thought out, internally consistent attitude rubs off on friends and neighbors and can directly help the whole world.


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50. CLIFFNOTES FOR ABOVE COMMENT     5/15/08 - 11:16 AM
Anonymous

The author is correct that the beliefs he highlights are the greatest threats to klal yisroel:

1] Not only shouldn’t a potential chosson and kallah talk before marriage, but even once married each side is expected to keep quiet. 2] Children from dysfunctional families are so backward that they don’t realize their families are dysfunctional. 3] Never trust your spouse especially with dysfunctional people. 4] Depression and instability among spouses is the norm. 5] Parents and grandparents should dictate how to live life, because people are too ignorant to think for themselves.

Sadly, the writer is glorifying the number one issue affecting unstable marriages. That is the interference of those who dictate life’s choices and stifle the creativity and growth of the couple. The Torah expects spouses to cling to each other and develop into a solid unit together. The only way to do this is with serious VERBAL communication between spouses.


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51. WOW!     5/16/08 - 5:01 PM
Sherree

I would summarize all of this by saying, the greatest threat to Yiddishkeit today, is that we have forgotten the very, very basic of basics and that is that we stand before Hashem, every second of the day, 24/7.

He sees everything we do, he knows everything we think and feel. If we would always remember that we stand before the king and we should always act and speak appropriately, we would behave appropriately with our friends and neighbors, we would behave appropriately with our children and spouses; we would treat our students and employees with appropriate respect and care as well as our parents, employers, Rebbeim and mechanchim.

We would do our mitzvos with true Kavonah, zrizus and histadlus. We would not take it upon ourselves to try to interpret what Hashem means, but would try to fully understand how to appropriately serve Hashem to the best of our abilities.

Roshei Yeshivas would not be so callus about throwing children out to the streets, giving up on them, or not treating them with the love and devotion that Hashem prescribes in the Torah.

People would not be so materialistic as much as working on their spiritual connection, which would be more valuable to them and make them happy, because they would be one with Hashem always feeling his presence.

The values families would be interested in when looking for a shiduch would be real and not laughable as the questions that are asked today. Why is a girl being a size "2" more important than if she would be a good wife and mother? How many girls actually remain a size "2" throughout their marriage?

Wouldn't one be ashamed to leave the raising of their children to goyim if they really and truly felt Hashem's presence around them? Do goytas make brochas with your children? Does she really care if she gives them milk right after the chicken?

The greatest threat to Yiddishkeit is forgetting that everything we do, and everything we say, we do and say in front of Melech Malchei Hamelochim. If we could remember that at all times, I think we would be doing things a lot differently.


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52.     5/17/08 - 10:58 PM
Anonymous

The biggest threat is our unsuccessful schools. Many people like to point to the 5000 students learning in Lakewood as an example of our success. But the truth is that very few of those students are accomplishing as what they could be in learning.

Yeshivas are finding themselves in a position where they have to choose between educating children based on their level, or teaching them what they need to know to be able to survive in the next level, high school or bais medrash. The result is a lot of am haaratzim learning in Lakewood.


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53. The Broken American Male     5/18/08 - 9:53 AM
Joel Lowy - Williamsburg, NY

The old hungerian yidden have a good politically -incorrect saying "Vee azoi es goyisht zach, ot azoi yiddisht zach" - I.E. Judaism shares many concerns and problems with the general public and is NOT completely isolated and insulated.

In his great new book, The Broken American Male, Shmuley Botaiach explains beautifully how the 'system' destroyed the american male and robbed the american family of its husband father figure.

[I cant write a book review here. If you have a wife or kids, run over to the closes store and read that book, as one would say in a text message "ASAP 911"]

Anyway, the lack of time the Men spend at home, and the lack of fulfilment they get from spending time with their wives and kids is the greatest threat to teenagers, religion and Family life in America.

And hence, the greatest threat to yiddishkeit.


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54. Torah and Shmitta     5/18/08 - 2:12 PM
RG

Funny no-one mentioned it before, but the biggest safeguard of the Jews is learning Torah, and also keeping Shmitta carefully is mentioned. With regard to Torah, it's said that a Torah student doesn't need to pay a share of the fee towards the town security guard, because his Torah protects the town equally. Thus we see, perhaps without a logical understanding, that Torah study is helpful to protect the whole world.

So conversely, the biggest threat to the world is when people make out that Torah study is only being done for fun, or to be irresponsible and not care about the family finances, or to keep up the social image, etc. Perhaps on a low level, occasional problems have to be discussed, and solutions found, but the rest of us should realize, appreciate and validate that the people studying Torah in Israel and Torah centers worldwide are protecting everyone, enabling the world to exist, and keeping it safe.

Most Torah students are learning amidst pretty dire poverty, and they are doing it lishmah and with their wife's support and encouragement. There should be more appreciation from all of us, for them, in thought, words and actions. Everyone needs encouragement, especially these heroes and heroines.


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55.     5/18/08 - 2:24 PM
MO

the greatest threat to yiddishkeit is this website that a persom who calls himself rabbi lets lashon hora and kefira as well as bizuy talmidei chachamim go unanswered in the comments here.giving a forum for evrey sonei torah to say his opinion on what the threat to yiddishkeit is.


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56. Regarding the broken american male     5/18/08 - 5:05 PM
Yankel H. - Willaimsburg

re: Comment #53

Interesting comment.

This issue is just another example of how humans, first see what they WANT to see.

You will not find any other institution where there are two CEO’s or presidents. But when it come to marriage, both parents have to have equal authority in everything. You will not find any politician pointing to what I just mentioned.

Women have been abused throughout all the generations, and treated as second class citizens, so they now see an opportunity to break free. Nevertheless, that doesn’t change the fact that to have a functioning institution you need to have one person who will somehow have the final say. Who should it be, The husband or wife? Again we see the same thing. The academicians always say, “you have to be in touch with yourself, and listen to your instincts”. So why shouldn’t we listen to our instincts on this issue? Because then we’re going against what is politically correct, so we instinctively find reasons why this matter is different.

I can hear some argue, “the instinct maybe a nurtured instinct instead of a natural instinct, and it will just take time until men learn to accept the wife to be in charge”. However, the fact shows otherwise. For a long time now children have been thought equality, but when it comes to parenting, the fathers are absent. Why? because as Yoily said, the American male has been stripped of his pride.

One more thing. Women certainly were abused and not treated right; but they had it easy in other ways. it was the men who were responsible for parnasa, and they were NEVER drafted to the fight the old time ugly wars etc. ---------- As to my own opinion of the greatest threat to yiddishkaiet, i think its the lack of inspiration and idealism. Everything taught to our kids is "Do this" Dont do that" - the body witout the soul.

You ask your kid "Whats peasach, Berele" and he will tell you the whole story about the matza and the Easy-off but he know nothing about this major celebration of Hakodosh Boruch hu's love of his children and his demonstration and the "fireworks" he showed to us to show his might.(See the sefer chinuch, and the ramban in sefer shemos)- and its not little Berele's fault because his rebbe doesnt know better.

Its time we shake this system, because in 2008 "Do this- dont do that" has zero power.

I touched the tip of the iceberg - i wish i had more time.


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57. MO     5/18/08 - 6:29 PM
Sherree

I thought you said you would behave with derech eretz as a guest on this site.


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58. Flip The Coin...     5/19/08 - 9:29 AM
G

So conversely, the biggest threat to the world is when people make out that Torah study is only being done for fun, or to be irresponsible and not care about the family finances, or to keep up the social image, etc.

Fair enough, but what if what people "make out" is more fact than fiction? It may be, it may not be. However, to blindly assume that either case is automaticall true is naiveté of the highest order.

Could one not also say that the biggest threat to the world is that much Torah study is only being done for fun, or to be irresponsible and not care about the family finances, or to keep up the social image, etc.?

It might also help to remember that Yissochar/Zevulun is a two way street. Just as you correctly state that people should acknowledge those who are learnig it would go a long way if those who dedicate themselves to Torah would appreciate and validate that the people studying Torah in Israel and Torah centers worldwide are being protected by others, enabling their world to exist, and keeping it safe.

Just sayin'...

--regardless, it does little good in the practical sense of the question posed to state this (as well as many of the other 'threats' mentioned above) as the driving problem(s) of Judaism today. It is akin to stating that the largest 'threat' to humanity is the lack of peace on earth and goodwill towards manking. Yes, it may be true and it sure does look good on the screen...but that's about the end of its usefulness.


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59. too many expectations in chinuch     5/21/08 - 9:55 PM
Anonymous

I think the greatest threat to Yiddishkeit is that here are too many expectations placed on our boys. I firmly believe in Torah and the mitzvah of v'higaddeta bo yomam valaylia, but I feel that too much pressure is put on our boys. From the youngest age, boys are expected to go to school on Sundays (in many schools well into the afternoon) and legal holidays. Many boy's yeshivos have shortened winter vacations. this leaves very little opportunity for "family time." Not to mention that in many communities the boys and girls are off on different days.

In today's day and age with so few mothers home with their children, why are we limiting fanily time even more? Is it so bad for a boy to have lunch with his family on Sunday? Why can't a brothers and sisters be together for winter vacation?

When a child is having issues, schools are quick to blame the parents and tell the parents they need to spend more time with their children. WHEN??? The boys are always in school!

There is more academic pressure on boys as well. In my community, the Bais Yaakov teaches kriah in first grade, chumash in second grade. The boys learn kriah in pre 1A, chumash in first. Many children are not ready for this. What is the rush? I know of many boys in my neghborhood who have been diagnosed with "learning issues"- kriah specifically. Some of these children would not have issues if they were not rushed. One mother told me she wishes she could send her son to Bais Yaakov!!:)

Boys/me are expected to learn.period. There are very few acceptable approprite outlets. While a girl may take ballet, music, or an art class as an extra curricular; anything a boy does is considered bitul zman. the boys' extra curriculars are mishmar and masmidim. Are we being fair to our boys? what are we saying to those who can't learn well? we are saying that they're worthless. Our values emphasize that a "ggod boy" is one who learns full time. Most of theYeshivos and seminaries tout this. what ever happened to Yissachar and Zevulun??

when I think of some of the men in my neighborhood, I see an interesting phenomenon. Many of the ones who went to boys' yeshivos where learning was shoved down their throats, do not learn on a consistent basis. They stopped learning when they left school. Many of the ones that do, grew up "modern," went to "day schools" and chose their path themselves.

It may be "crazy," but I think that instead of having boys learn in school all the time (late Sundays, legal holidays, etc.) the boys schools should create programs that encourage the boys to learn something at home, on vacation, etc. How many people do we know that would never miss a mnyan while home, but while on 'vacation' are very lax? We would be providing our boys with a great life skill if we let them out of school on these days and taught hem that they are still expected to daven/learn when they are not in school. This winter vacaction, my third grade daughter brought home a calendar where she was supposed to check off davening, learning a halacha from the booklet her teacherr created, and dooing a machom l'fi daily. She also had a packet reviewing chumash vocabulary, Rashi script, etc. She also brought home a similar calendar for Pesach. I think the boys should get something like this for Sundays and vacations. We should promote appropriate outlets for them, especially for those that are not as good at learning. The boys that I know that are off the derech all have learning issues. why don't schools feel an achrayus to these boys?


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60. nail on the head     5/21/08 - 10:49 PM
tb

You just hit the nail right on the head, anonymous. I don't necessarily think this is the greatest threat to Yiddishkeit, but your description of the problem and your suggestions are spot on. Anyone who teaches boys, knows how they tick, and cares a fig understands this. The system is seriously flawed. The schools are raising the boys. Gemara is pushing everything else to the wayside, including connecting with family. I have said before that I am out of this system. In the MO world, boys learn Kriah in first grade. Boys have gym. Gemara is not the only thing they are taught. Boys have Sundays off until they are 11 or so. I am married to a man who does not learn a minute, not a minute. He recently confided in me that he didn't understand the language. He always had trouble with that and with sitting still. And his Yeshiva years just about killed any desire to open a Gemara. He (and I) hope that he can get past this so he can learn with our sons.


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61. Once again, everyone is right     5/21/08 - 11:32 PM
Benzion Twerski

When I realize that tomorrow I have alternate sides parking to handle, I am convinced that the greatest threat to Yiddishkeit, and even to all of mankind is the parking regulation that gives out tickets while you are supposed to be at minyan davening. When I get a summons for jury duty in the mail, I change my mind. The greatest threat is the justice system. When my health insurance managed care company wants to deny a claim, that industry becomes the greatest threat. When my child wants to stay out after curfew, the kids at risk issue becomes the greatest threat. When I read the news about another anti-semitic crime being perpetrated against Jews, anti-semitism and racism become the biggest problems. I am grateful that my fingers move well, since I keep changing them, pointing every which direction. The list goes on and on, and my mind keeps changing.

Everyone has a valid point. Whichever issue is affecting you that moment is the greatest threat. I recall my mother A”H being asked which grandchild was her favorite. Her answer was, “Whichever one I am holding at the time.”

This thread is a great discussion, but using it to debate takes it away from its intent. Stay calm, everyone. We are all correct.


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62. We Need More Achdus     7/12/08 - 10:43 PM
SH

We really do not know the Heavenly calculations that result in a good decree or cholila otherwise. We do know from our history and the writings of chazal that way Jews relate to each other is a key factor. Insensitivity towards another person ultimately puts our well being in jeopardy. The debacle of Kamtza / Bar Kamtza is a prime example. Such hostility, active or passive, comes in many forms including some where the insensitive party is conducting himself as acting in a noble fashion - even to the point that he is doing a mitzva. The ill will that the victim feels towards the one who has slighted him does not disappear - and may cause damage to his attitude towards Yiddishkeit. Such resentment may not even be confined to the wronged party. The cynicism sometimes is passed to succeeding generations. A study is due on why Jewish practice deteriorated to such an extent before the Holocaust.


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63. An Aside on Kamtza / Bar Kamtza     7/14/08 - 3:45 AM
CB

I, too, was always taught that the lesson to be learned from the story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza relates to the great destructive power of Sinas Chinam. But it is interesting to note that the Gemara itself makes no mention of Sinas Chinam in connection with Kamtza / Bar Kamtza at all, and in fact draws a completely different conclusion from the event.

It is highly recommended to learn this topic inside; you may be surprised at what you find.


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64. girls?     7/14/08 - 3:03 PM
Anonymous

I think the greatest threat to Yiddishkeit is that here are too many expectations placed on our boys.

And how does that explain why girls in greater numbers than ever, are dropping out?

B Twerski: Whichever issue is affecting you that moment is the greatest threat"

None of the issues I referred to earlier (#25) affect me at the moment. I would give us more credit than that.

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