Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sometimes I Wonder Why I Bother...

I have a love/hate relationship with the Yeshiva World News coffeeroom.

I love them because they give an interesting insight into the frum community that doesn't really exist anywhere else.  I always love to find out what other people think about various subjects, especially from people who might disagree with me on various matters -- and the Coffeeroom provides that to me very well.

However, there are things about it that I hate and sometimes downright depress me.  I'm not going to start providing a laundry list of the things I don't like -- most of them aren't really relevant here.  However, one of the things that sometimes baffles and frustrates me to no end is the moderation policy.

The Coffeeroom's policy is that all messages must be approved by a moderator before appearing.  Personally, I think that's the wrong way to run a messageboard -- but so be it.  However, the items that they choose to suppress are sometimes mind-baffling.

Take the recent Thanksgiving thread.  After a back and forth, one poster brings up Rabbi Brodye's Broyde's thoughts on the matter and says:

Rabbi Michael Broyde authored a comprehensive analysis of the issue. He cites both sides of the debate, and essentially concludes that there is upon whom to rely in allowing a celebration of the holiday.

Another poster, instead of trying to show where Rabbi Brodye Broyde is wrong, goes for the ad hominem attack (note the change in honorific):

Professor Broyde surely makes some interesting academic observations on the matter. But for halachic conclusions, we rely on Rabbonim. 

My response to the second poster is that instead of going for the ad hominem attack, why not simply address Rabbi Brodye's Broyde's point?  In other words, if you think Rabbi Brodye Broyde is wrong, why not simply show us where he is wrong?

Apparently, suggesting that a poster is using an ad hominem attack is verbotten in the CR, since the moderator actually removed that portion of my sentence.  In a later post, I even gave the poster a link to Rabbi Brodye's Broyde's words on the matter and challenged him to show us where Rabbi Brodye Broyde is wrong.  That post went down the memory hole.

So, apparently, according to at least one of the moderators, attacking a Rabbi is okay, but asking him to actually back up his words with rational arguments is forbidden.  Issuing an ad hominem attack is okay, but pointing it out is forbidden.

Go figure.

The Wolf

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Take On the Unfolding Kollel Scandal

Earlier this week, Israeli authorities rounded up numerous Chareidim in Israel who are accusing of defrauding the State. In a classic case of identity fraud, it seems that the yeshivos were collecting monies for students who either did not attend the schools or were taking the monies allocated for the personal use of people who attend the yeshiva but have a policy not to take money from the State.

I don't know if the accusations are true or not. However, this episode has helped to illustrate several interesting points:

1. We Keep Our Priorities Straight -- Marty Bluke points out that this affair is being discussed on the Chareidi website. However, there the discussion isn't about whether or not the parties involved are guilty or whether we need to rethink the way we do things. The discussion there focuses on trying to find out who notified the authorities. In other words, it's not the fault of the thieves, it's the fault of the people who turned them in. 

2. We Learn To Distinguish Between Important Issues and Issues of Lesser Importance: I find it highly telling that these same people who would look down at me for wearing a colored shirt, or working for a living, or for wearing a leather yarmulke, or for any of the other things that violate the chareidi lifestyle -- but yet don't even rise to the level of minhag or Rabbinic mitzvos, have no problem blithely violating the actual Torah commandment against theft.

Lord knows that I'm not perfect... and I don't expect Chareidim to be either. We're all human and we all make mistakes. But it's one thing when someone makes a one-time mistake and yet another when the violation is repeated and systemic. How someone who is repeatedly violating a Torah law can look down at someone who simply doesn't dress the same way or is otherwise acting in accordance with halacha is beyond me.

3. We're Can Keep the Big Picture In Sight: I am personally in favor of Torah study. I may have some quibbles with the way the kollel system is currently set up (ok, perhaps more than quibbles), but on a deeper level, I believe that there should be a kollel option for those who have the aptitude and desire.

But it has to be realized that the purpose of the kollel (or at least one of the purposes) has to be to educate people in the observance of the mitzvos. If the purpose of the learning doesn't include actual observance of the mitzvos, then what the heck is the point of the whole venture? To learn what the Torah wants while hypocritically acting the other way? I don't think so -- nor should any rational person. But if we support Torah learning with thievery what message does that send to the avreichim that are learning there -- especially in this day and age where many in the yeshiva world revere the Rosh Yeshiva himself and view his behavior as a model to emulate?

I don't have a problem with instutions that serve the community -- be they kollelim, tzedakah organizations, or the like. But the paramount thing is that these organizations have to be run above-board and with complete honesty. If we can't do that, not only do we risk further chillul HaShem, we also might begin to lose faith in our own institutions.

The Wolf

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Somebody's Getting Married...

Mazal Tov to Chana (aka The Curious Jew on her marriage to Heshy today!

May the new couple enjoy many years of happiness, health and joy together as they build a bayis ne'eman b'yisroel.

The Wolf

Monday, November 08, 2010

This Blog Is Not Abandoned

I know it's been a while since I wrote anything here.  I've been very busy (and going through a bit of a funk as well) and that has sapped much of my free time and creativity.  Nonetheless, I do have some ideas percolating and hope to have something up shortly.

Thanks for staying tuned.  :)

The Wolf