Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Pride vs. Guilt, pt. 2

The big question is, which side to deal with first?

At first glance, the argument for the pride (and the more modern ideology) seems more logical. I believe that pride is a tremendous factor in keeping Jews frum from generation to generation. Alomst everyone can remember a rebbi telling over how the Jews in 1920's America were turned off the derech by their parents' complaints of "ess shver tzu zayn a yid" --- in English, "it's hard to be a Jew." The lack of pride undoubtedly factored in the attitude of Judaism being a pain rather than a pleasure. While being a Jew in America has certainly gotten easier since then, the "it's hard to be a Jew" attitude is more prevalent than many people think. And with the "kids on the fringe" issue a major problem, perhaps now more than ever, this pride is vital for our survival. If the next generation sees their parents going through the motions, wearing the black hat, etc. yet unwilling and uncomfortable discussing the importance and greatness of Judaism with their children, we may be in big trouble.

With that in mind, perhaps an RR-type mehalech which features this necessary pride should be pursued. In the 1800's Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch developed and encouraged the "Torah Im Derech Eretz" ideology that arguably saved German Jewry. So the precedent of devoloping a mehalech within Torah guidelines in order to keep the people religious is not a new one. Perhaps RR is this generation's "Torah Im Derech Eretz."

Uncle Harvey has always pointed out that for all the problems there may be in YU, they can certainly take credit for keeping certain Jews observant who wouldn't otherwise be shomrei torah u'mitzvos. These people in particular may have found a more stringent hashkofo to be too overwhelming and would say "forget the whole thing." But RR provides them with a mehalech which, for them, is tolerable and meaningful. Perhaps Uncle Harvey's opinion is true with regard to a lot more people than we think it applies to.

With this in mind, it seems the FF's rabbeim should emcourage these individuals to follow an RR-type mehalech and develop this important pride. So why don't tell them to do it?

It's easy for a cynic to say, "because they're jealous, because their mehalech is a sham. etc." While that may be true, for the sake of agrument I'll be donn l'kaf zechus and assume that the following is THEIR counter-argument:

1) Even if the parents aren't into it, the kids will go to schools where the Rabbeim will encourage the kids to be proud and do the right thing.

2) Eventually, these people will feel guilty about their lack of Yiddishkeit and will come around and become good Jews. That "pintele yid" can potentially cause a Yid to completely change his ways.

3) (somewhat of a continuation of #2) The RR mehalech is so flawed and k'negged haTorah to the point where this pride will be a dangerous thing. It will encourage people not only to do the wrong thing, but to do so under the impression that their acts are totally permissible! On the other hand, by keeping their current mehalech, these people may ultimately feel guilty enough to change their ways, something that would likely not occur if they followed the RR mehalech.

The fact is that some of these arguments are rather strong, so we'll give them their own part (#3) and deal with them there.


Blogger Gary Student said...

You write: "The YU mehalech is so flawed and k'negged haTorah to the point where this pride will be a dangerous thing. It will encourage people not only to do the wrong thing, but to do so under the impression that their acts are totally permissible!"

Please explain. And according to whom? I agree that the attitude "As long as I'm a nice guy I can do whatever I want" is wrong, but since when has that been the YU mehalech?

10:30 AM  
Blogger Isaac Kaplan said...

Perhaps I wan't clear in my post, but I was mentioning that argument and shittoh of the YU mehalech FROM THE YESHIVISH PERSPECTIVE. My point was, THIS IS HOW THEY VIEW THE MEHALECH. You and I have heard MANY of our rebbeim call YU and Modern Orthodoxy a "pick and choose" mehalach, which includes the idea that I mentioned of "doing whatever you please." I totally agree that whether these rabbeim are correct or not is DEBATABLE (To be honest, I don't understand this shittoh. For argument's sake I'm assuming there's something to it.) I was just QUOTING their point of view.
By the way, see Part 3. That'll make things a lot clearer. I apologize for not making myself clear within the essay. I'll hopefully edit it late to reflect what I've explained in this comment.

1:12 PM  
Blogger Isaac Kaplan said...

I have edited and clarified the post, and again apologize for not making myself clear.

1:17 PM  

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