Isaac Kaplan

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

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Backs to the Wall

I'm sort of embarrassed to say this, but I'm looking forward to hearing the Agudah's discussion of blogs next Thursday night. I'm excited to see them confront the issue for the first time. But don't blame me. It's my parents' fault. I grew up seeing the Jewish Observer come in the mail every month, with the cool, enticing covers staring me in the face. When we got the "Kids at Risk" issue (in '97 or '98), that was a huge deal. They even gave out free copies to every kid in my sister's school.

And part of me is delusionally optimistic that, unlike so many issues they've dealt with before, the Agudah will actually deal with this issue normally.

You see, I think they've got a lot at stake here. Blogs are the biggest threat the Agudah and the Charedim have faced in a while. Bigger than TV, movies, rock and roll, the internet, wealth, and Vegas.

Why? Because blogs like UOJ, Daas Hedyot, and Harry Maryles (who would cringe at seeing his name in the same sentence as those guys, but whatever) are great at creating forums for those disenchanted with the chareidi system. I can't tell you how many times I've been on those blogs and seen a thought that had come to mind in my yeshiva days, only to have been drowned out by a strong rush of kool-aid. There are lots of problems with the chareidi hashkafa and system. But in a world where any dissent is stifled and condemned as being "k'neged daas torah," (or simply the voice of your yetzer hara) problems are allowed to grow and fester.

(I don't think blogs like Misnagid or Ben Avuyah are a threat to Agudah. Those blogs aren't anti-charedi; they discuss emunah issues, which affect YCT, OU, and the RCA and every group of Jews. Those issues don't interest me. I don't think Judaism's authenticity can be proved by logic; if it were, we probably wouldn't have the nisyonos of emunah and bitachon. Anyway...)

So part of me hopes that Zweibel and some other rabbi will get up there and deal with the issues. Maybe a rabbi there will say, "the blogs have raised a lot of important and difficult questions, and we'd like to address them tonight. Kollel is a great thing, but it's not for everyone. And it's not a system that can sustain itself. And people should encourage the girls to go for working guys, and discourage the sems and yeshivos from brainwashing people. And about the wedding takanos, and the Slifkin affair? Listen, gedolim are human. They're extraordinary humans, humans that are very intelligent and caring. Humans that deserve a lot of respect. But they make mistakes on occasion, too. And we at the Agudah will do our part to help everyone find Judaism to be meaningful and important."

But then I wake up and realize that the chances of this happening are about as great as George Steinbrenner saying, "I've come to the realization that having a payroll of over $200 million is terrible for the game. Competitive balance is the lifeblood of baseball, and we would like to do our part to make baseball fun and exciting in all 30 ballparks. So Brian Cashman and I have decided to trade Jeter to the Royals, A-Rod to Pittsburgh, Rivera to Washington, Abreu back to Tampa Bay, Damon to the Marlins, all for single-A players. And we threw some cash in the deal, too."

And I realize that all that will happen is that Agudah will put blogs on the taboo list. Down there with TV, movies, the internet, and all the other things responsible for every issue in the frum community. That's right. The kids-at-risk, the shalom bayis issues, the materialism, the hidden aveiros -- all because of Hollywood, the media, and Western culture. And now blogs, too.

So much for all that.


Anonymous Gary said...

Well done.

12:05 AM  

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