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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Rabbi Zwiebel at the Blogosium

Preface: We all realize the vital and self-sacrificing work Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel does for Agudas Yisroel and for all of us. The comments below are directed to his remarks at the blogging session, not to his sterling midos or his important accomplishments.

Rabbi Zwiebel laid out a cogent case for respect for chachamim and the difference between our halachos and libel and slander laws, etc.
One of his most telling points was the stark difference between secular law and Halacha. Secular law endorses character assassination when it is true, and, in the case of a public figure, even when it is not true but the writer could not have known it was not true.
Halacha,
on the other hand, categorically prohibits true fact based character assassination - in fact this is specifically what loshon hora is.

Point well made.

Rabbi Zwiebel additionally noted that the 'best and the brightest' in his Torah Vodaath class, those with many more lucrative choices, became the Rebbeim, and he demanded (paraphrased) 'how dare we malign these idealistic and dedicated disseminators of Torah?'

I have a problem with this, and the problem is fact based. In Rabbi Zwiebel's time in Torah Vodaath there were options and choices. A decent Regents college prep program provided the opportunity, as he states, to become doctors and lawyers. Even Rabbi Wachsman took away from the Mesivta an excellent vocabulary and some secular interests. The yeshiva effectively provided the option of 'defying' Daas Torah by getting a post high school education and yet still serve klal yisroel and yiddishkeit. Those same alumni Rebbeim Rabbi Zwiebel refers to - many of them to be found in Emunas Yisroel, in Eretz Yisroel, and among the various chassidic and yeshivishe communities - do not generally provide their children with the range of options they themselves had.

Many of these children make do with an inferior 8th grade education at most (I have an urge to describe how very inferior, but I'll squelch my urge). Then after a few years in
kolel, the poor fellow is forced accept a melamed position whether or not he's interested in teaching other peoples' children, and whether or not he can teach, because he is not qualified to do or learn anything else to support his family. Some are indeed interested in harbotzas haTorah, but after a few years they burn out, but are again trapped, frequently now struggling to support a family of twelve. Rabbi Zwiebel, this is a far cry from your fellow MTV alumni who chose chinuch over olom hazeh, and these misplaced or burnt out 'trapped' careers are not a rarity.

Is this not a breeding environment for frustration?


In his remarks, Rabbi Zwiebel quoted only one 'comment' (not even a posting) from a blog stating that 'the best part of blogging is the anonymity. You can shake a Rosh Yeshiva's hand by day, and then bash him by night'. He then commented acidly 'courageous souls'. Good example of the dedicated and knowledgeable blogging community, Rabbi Zwiebel? I think not.

Rabbi Zwiebel - since much of the session was dedicated to the evil of blog based character assassination, is it not self evident that the Lakewood, Satmar, Bobover, and legitimately questioning bloggers and commenters can and should remain anonymous - if not for themselves, then for their parents, spouses and children? Causing harm to these innocent bystanders is no different than causing harm to the innocent bystanders that Rabbi Solomon and the rest the Torah community strive so mightily to protect in other situations.

I would like to note at this point that although I continue to be anonymous, many of the 'best and brightest bloggers, such as Rabbi Gil Student, no longer are. They probably would have not begun to make what turned out to be a valuable contribution to the klal without the veil of anonymity. Moreover, many seforim in the past were also published with no name or a non de plume (including, if I recall accurately, Sefer Chofetz Chaim).

Since the issue of anonymity has arisen, I will dedicate a separate post to this subject in the future.

14 Comments:

Blogger TheProf said...

I find it interesting and maybe a bit hashgocho protiyus'dik, that Rabbi Zwiebel and I had a discussion after Mincha today about the fact that today the melamdim are not being forced into it, as they were 50 and 40 years ago. Back then it was the lo yitzlach who went into chinuch. Today, and for the approximate last 20 years, yungerleit going into chinuch were the best and brightest who could easily have been anything else. Albeit admittedly not lawyers, doctors or accountants as were the best and brightest of Torah Vodas back 30 years ago because of the decided lack of secular education prevalent today in "blackhat/chasidic" yeshivos. But I must take strong umbrage with Leapa's statement that a kolel yungerman has no "choice" but to go into chinuch. But then isn't this part of the blog problem? A statement made on a blog, certainly a "kosher" blog, will be taken at face value, even if contradicted by a posted comment. I agree fully with the official gedolim stand that it is assur to go to a blogspot. In fact, the only one I go to is this one and that because I feel that I must take the part of Good Angel's Advocate. Somebody has to stand up for Daas Torah.

5:09 PM  
Blogger TheProf said...

Leapa, before you go off looking for bandaids and such, let me add that i strongly agree with you that the dearth of a decent elementary schhol secular education today has become a huge problem for klal yisroel in New York City. But to a great extent this isn't the fault of our gedolim. this isn't a result of daas torah but rather the result of a misdirected and idealistic process brought about by daas baal habayis who in striving to be holier than thou parents have created a situation in which their children will be the ones to suffer. The best and brightest of our colleagues who became doctors and lawyers and accountants almost all have children who can't even fill out a simple form. And why? Because these secularly successful best and brightest have misdirected guilt feelings over their own education. Or have succumbed to peer pressure and allowed their children to get off the hook and not have a secular education.

5:22 PM  
Blogger Leapa said...

the fact that today the melamdim are not being forced into it, as they were 50 and 40 years ago. Back then it was the lo yitzlach who went into chinuch . . . I must take strong umbrage with Leapa's statement that a kolel yungerman has no "choice" but to go into chinuch

Prof: Being forced or not forced has nothing to do with lo yitzlach. My own melamdim many years ago were neither forced nor lo yitzlachs and could have done anything they wanted. But as talmidim of R. Shraga Feivel they want into chinuch and harbotzas hatorah . It was because of that, we loved them even if we received petsch every single day.

Today, however, many feel they could be matzliach elsewhere, but are not necessarily happy in melimdus. Due to an education which gives them no option they have no choice.

My own shul has many of these, and my heart bleeds for some.

11:55 PM  
Blogger Frummer????? said...

Our kehillas have a wonderful way of allowing individuals to become dictators, and all we then do is complain into our beards, tichels and some of us, blogs.

Nobody has the guts to challenge "people in authority" even if they are at the same level of "dass Torah" as ourselves. And if one does, you can rest assured that nobody will back you up - in public.

If I wasn't afraid of the reaction of the powerfully spineless, I'd put my name right up there on the masthead of my blog.

6:19 AM  
Anonymous jack said...

'this isn't a result of daas torah but rather the result of a misdirected and idealistic process brought about by daas baal habayis who in striving to be holier than thou parents have created a situation in which their children will be the ones to suffer. The best and brightest of our colleagues who became doctors and lawyers and accountants almost all have children who can't even fill out a simple form. '

C'mon, do you really believe this? You mean to tell me the 'bitul' of the secular studies department in some yeshivos is because of the baal habayis? If you want to solve a problem be honest, please.

10:42 AM  
Anonymous deerson said...

frummer you're defensive remarks are very disturbing particularly in the tone of anger toward the Gedolei Yisrael.

1:13 PM  
Blogger Frummer????? said...

Deerson:

My disparaging words were not directed at the Rabbis, but at the headteachers and mehnahilim of our mosdos, who apart from their titles more often than not, have no more inherent daas Torah than myself. I would add however, that many Rabbonim are so far removed from the real world that they back the authoritarians because they simply haven't a clue about the real world.

I've been there, and seen it first hand: Some of the Rabbonim of my town, the ones who one should respect and look up to, have absolutly no idea what makes today's generation tick.

It is no surprise therefore that they command very little respect among many of todays youngsters.

6:01 PM  
Anonymous deerson said...

frummer:

i sincerely suggest you look for a different chinuch option for you children. would you pontificate about your dentist this way if you thought he lacked the neccessary expertise in dentistry. i would assume you would find another doctor.

7:02 PM  
Blogger Frummer????? said...

Where I live there is little choice.

There is extremly chassidish, very - very chassidish, very chassidish or chassidish. I have no choice but to take the best of the worst.

8:03 AM  
Anonymous deerson said...

frummer

ever heard of moving for the sake of your children?

2:04 PM  
Blogger Frummer????? said...

The upheaval for them would be more harm than remaining put. I work hard to give them the correct guidance in life, and to balance the shtusim their Rebbes often teach them in school, with misdirected perspectives etc.

4:20 PM  
Anonymous deerson said...

i can think of nothing more destructive for a child's chinuch than to undercut the Rebbeim's moral stature. you may think you are correcting the misguided views at home. however the danger of a confused and mixed message looms as the child grows into maturity. A child who grows up missing the essential building block of looking at their Rebbeim as malachim loses a cornerstone to his chinuch and haskfas hachaiim.

8:24 PM  
Blogger Frummer????? said...

"i can think of nothing more destructive for a child's chinuch than to undercut the Rebbeim's moral stature."

I agree with this statement too. It's a very fine line and it's one I tread very carefully. I would not say that the Rebbe has it wrong. I'd probably say that something along the lines of "That's a nice explanation, but I like this one better....."blah blah blah"....What do you think?".

As this sort of discussion often takes place at the Shabbos table, my better half ensures that we stay on the right side of the line.

7:32 AM  
Blogger TheProf said...

Jack Sir, Yes. The secular studies departments at almost all yeshivos in Brooklyn, both chasidish and yeshivish, have been downgraded not by the decisions of the hanholos but by the parent bodies, yes holier than thou, or by the children, inane as it sounds, putting pressure on their parents. And it all comes back to a very few who through strong peer pressure have prevailed in diluting an already watered down secular department.

10:23 AM  

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