Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Partially Posting Perspectives' Points

Klal Perspectives Spring 2012 link It is refreshing to see quality writing and good ideas presented in a free online periodical. The most recent issue deals primarily with how we can restore some of the pride of being Jewish that our Bubbes and Zaides had. There is not much more that I can add, as there are many contributions. The underlying theme I see is that we need to get youngsters more involved. Whereas in the Alte Heim youth were able to absorb their Judaism by osmosis, that seems to no longer be the case. Some suggest teaching more Hashkofo and less texts, others suggest getting youngsters involved in Shul/NCSY/Camps etc. Whatever might work, there are many suggestions and reading the journal in it's entirety is worthwhile. I've mined several quotes for the lazy, so as to pique their interest. See this earlier post Klal Kindles Kosher Kaleidoscope. *****************************************************************
“When my grandfather would go away for Shabbos, he would say, ‘I am going away for the heilige (holy) Shabbos.’ My father would say, ‘I’m going away for Shabbos.’ Now, years later, I say, ‘I’m going away for the weekend.’”
Radio host Dennis Prager likes to chide his audiences, whatever their beliefs. He has told Reform crowds, “I’ve been in many Jewish homes. I’ve noticed that Reform Jews often adorn their homes with much Judaica. I’ve seen many a painting of dancing Chassidic Jews on their walls. I’ve also been to the homes of many Orthodox Jews. I have never seen paintings on their wall of dancing Reform Jews.”
Again, we have nothing but anecdotal evidence to work with. But a good friend of mine who is a Chabad shaliach reports that in close to thirty families of shluchim in his locale, there are less than a handful of off-the-derech kids. Of all the shluchim in California a few years ago, 67% had kids who were becoming shluchim themselves. Working for a goal and purpose that goes beyond what is required can bond a person with HKBH, can establish a deep sense of connection.
The second is in the context of the broader Jewish community. American Jewry is blessed with exceptional religious freedom and opportunity, particularly when considered in the context of others in time and place. Torah can be learned while driving, commuting on a train or sitting at a computer. Shabbos observance is relatively easy, as is keeping kosher, with cholov Yisroel and yoshon readily available in most communities. Sukkahs can be constructed in less than an hour with pre-fab kits and rolled out schach, pre-filled, disposable, oil capsules can be inserted into our Chanukah menorahs and more kosher for Passover products appear on the shelves every year. But this ease and convenience comes at a price. Accessibility and opportunity are accompanied by widespread apathy. Many suffer a lack of enthusiasm for what we have and who we are as Torah Jews. Perhaps it is the ease of access itself that allows for religious practice without much depth or connection. A reduced investment of time and energy may very well translate into a weaker attachment. While the community surely does not seek a return to a life in which religious observance is a struggle, the passion that often accompanies the...
As Rabbi Joseph Baer Soloveitchik, zt”l, pungently commented, “The problem with American Jews is that they don’t want to daven; they want to have davened.”


  1. You've certainly piqued my curiosity. I'll go and take a look.

    1. the initial quotes lament the disaffection of non-Orthodox branches of Judaism. the latter quotes deal with the lack of ardor in the frum community itself. IMO two completely different issues.

      i dispute your assertion that Judaism cannot be absorbed by osmosis. In kharedi enclaves like Boror Park, Crown Heights and Lakewood Torah, Chasidus and Yiddishkeit permeate everything.

      I would add this to RYBS wry observation "and to be parve".

      as for this "A reduced investment of time and energy may very well translate into a weaker attachment." i made precisely this point over two years ago here:

  2. Yes Bray, the reason that you see various perspectives is because there are UO and MO writers included.

    And whereas Judaism can be absorbed to a large extent via osmosis, some things still need to be spelled out. As one writer noted, whenever Aish gives Kiruv seminars, many Frum participants are in attendance.

    How many Yeshivos have a Hashkofo curriculum? They just assume that students know why they are doing what they are doing, but it is not always the case.

  3. Forget about hashkafah, most yeshivos will not even branch out of the typical massechtos. And forget about the typical massechtos, they won't even branch out of the typical sugyos.

    Also - I don't think you can really spoonfeed hashkafah, because that leads to later problems, with the discovery of competing hashkafos. There are Torah viewpoints, not the Torah viewpoint.

  4. How about Rabbi Daniel Mechanic's project Chazon. This can be done in the younger grades, before the entire day is dedicated to the Talmud.


Locations of visitors to this page