Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Follow-up Thoughts on the Rabbi Dov Lipman Interviews

In response to a few commenters and some who have corresponded with me offline regarding this post and this post, which shared interviews with Rabbi Dov Lipman, I want to share a couple of thoughts.
[Update 8/1/13 @ 10:59 a.m.] [As a side point, although I believe it is clear from the context, I want to clarify for the record that in this blog I speak only for myself. Do not assume that something I say in my own name either is or is not a representation of Rav Moshe Weinberger's views. The only thing which definitively represents Rav Weinberger's views are the drashos where I write that he has reviewed their content. That being said, my own personal belief is that Rav Weinberger has no aversion to studying the positions of those with whom he disagrees and I do not believe he generally condones misrepresentations of those with whom one disagrees and would agree that one should oppose people for what they actually stand for rather than what people misrepresent them as standing for.]
First, it has been fascinating to hear how strongly people react to (i) the very idea of hearing or facilitating others' ability to hear a viewpoint which differs from the majority of gedolim and roshei yeshiva in E"Y and (ii) the content of Rabbi Lipman's interviews.
With regard to the first point, the Shulchan Aruch (Rema YD 246:4) forbids studying sifrei minim (books of heresy). While Rabbi Lipman may be pursuing a solution different from the majority of gedolim, barring some stretched explanation of the definition of sifrei minim, it is permitted to hear what he has to say. Therefore the question "How could you give such a person a platform?" is spurious. Are we so insecure in our convictions that we cannot hear out a dissenting viewpoint?
The second point regarding the content of the interviews is also interesting. Several people who do not agree with Rabbi Lipman at all have commented to me that they are grateful that I shared these interviews because (1) they were misinformed by speakers and frum media outlets regarding what the current coalition is actually proposing and appreciated the fact that the actual plan is more moderate and considerate than there were heretofore told and (2) they were under the impression that nothing but publicity-seeking, pandering, and hatred of the Torah and those who study it could possibly be motivating Rabbi Lipman and those in his party's coalition. Watching the interviews caused them to realize that while they may strongly disagree with his policies, they saw where he was coming from and why he sincerely believes that his plan is the best one to strengthen the Torah and the Jewish people.
The first reason why I believe it was important to share these interviews is that it is unjustifiable to suggest that it is better to believe in a false, demonized caricature of a fellow Jew simply in order to avoid shaking our faith in our position, even if that position is similar to that of the gedolim we follow. As I have repeatedly written in the comments to the above-linked posts, it is better to disagree with people on the merits than to condemn them personally, especially here where it's a frum person, a rabbi, there are other rabbeim who support his general proposals (though he says he cannot name them lest they be threatened as he has), and when their intentions are for the benefit of klal Yisroel.
But there are a lot of people out there with whom I disagree and I do not go out of my way to understand what makes them tick.
The thing that fascinates me about this person is that he is addressing a problem which has broken my heart for a long time and which has been going almost unaddressed until now. And that has nothing to do with secular attitudes toward chareidim or their lack of service in the army. The fact is that whether we understand why He did so or not, given the infinite value of learning Torah, Hashem designed us such that the tafkid for the majority of Jews is to work for a livelihood in one form or another while learning Torah and living ehrlich lives. We have ignored the following teachings of chazal at our great peril:
  • "Harbei asu k'Rabbi Yishmael v'alsa b'yadan; k'Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai v'lo alsa b'yadan – many followed the path of Rabbi Yishmael and were successful; many tried the path of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and were not successful" (Berachos 35b) [Obviously doesn't mean there aren't exceptions but this is the general outcome.]

  • "Yafa talmud Torah im derech eretz she'yegias shnei'hem mashkachas avon," "Learning Torah along with making a living is beautiful because toiling in both makes one forget sin." (Avos 2:2)

  • "Kol she'eino melamed es b'no umnus k'ilu melamdo listus," "If anyone does not teach his son a trade, it is as if he taught him to be a robber." (Kiddushin 29a)

There are others along these lines, but we went down a path of pretending that we could ignore these ma'amarei chazal without consequences and have experienced how wrong we were, with our children and our own ruchnius as the korbanos. I hope I do not have to recount how each of the consequences spoken about by all of these ma'amarei chazal have come to pass, and then some, l'da'avoneinu.

Anyone who has read about the recent events in Bnei Brak or has come into contact with the "shababnikim" produced by the one-size-fits-all shita cannot help but shed a tear. And that is just the most extreme example. I mourn when I contemplate the diminishment of the tzura of klal Yisroel that results from the fact that such a large number of yungerleit, who are living an ostensibly Toraso Umanaso life, are not living in accordance with their personal tafkid. This has a wide variety of somethwat more subtle, but devastating and widespread effects. We cannot deviate from Hashem's plan for us without consequences.

I do not personally endorse the government's plan or everything Rabbi Lipman says. But I want to hear those who speak about the issue and at least hear and understand what they have to say. That is why I love reading Jonathan Rosenblum (though he certainly disagrees with Rabbi Lipman!), Rabbi Adlerstein, and Rabbi Yakov Horowitz. I cannot understand how anyone can tolerate the continuation of the status quo which is destroying our children.

We need a new plan to solve the issue perhaps. Do you know what I would love to see? I would love for the Gedolim to bypass any askanim and say "The current coalition's plan is a no-go. But we understand the deleterious effects of teaching a one-size-fits-all life path. We also understand those legitimate concerns of the non-chareidi communities. We therefore institute X Y and Z policies for our communities and will enter into direct negotiations with the current coalition to arrive at a solution we can agree to." Halevai!!!

Click here to get Dixie Yid in your e-mail Inbox or here to "follow" me on Twitter.


Josef said...

Lipman may not be the cause, , but there is something very important to be said about Lipman joining the wrong crowd which is trying to bring about change in the wrong way. Again, change just for change's sake is not good either. I think people like yourself jump on the Lipman bandwagon just bec. he is fighting the system but the problem is the ways in which he is fighting the system go against proper hashkafos and halachos of Kavod Chachomim. It really bothers me as I wrote that Lipman continuously blows Gedolim off, humiliates and airs charedi dirty laundry in public for all to see. That's not how you make friends and influence people. No matter how hard it is, change can only come by working with the pple you want to change in a nice and friendly manner. If I wanted to change Rabbi Oberstein would I first humiliate you and then force you to follow me or else make you face punishment? Is that a good way to change pple?

Josef said...

It's not an issue of reading sifrei minim, it's the way you seemed to praise Lipman, giving support to someone who is mitztaref with the wrong chevra and wong hashkafos and who has no Rav he follows.

You will ask who Rabbi Oberstein is and I will admit to writing to him similarly so I copied and pasted it.

Menashe said...

I can't speak for the Litvish community, but based on my limited knowledge of their hashkafos, I do not believe your characterization of their teachings as "one size fits all" is correct.

This is a complicated issue with many factors in play, but in my opinion, this is the most important one: Everyone agrees that those that aren't learning properly should be earning a living.

That is why it is all the more tragic that the government, and specifically the party of Dov Lipman, has gone about executing what is essentially agreed upon by everyone, in such a horribly antagonistic way. The blame is not all Lapid's, but I believe he is primarily at fault. And by design. But that is a discussion for another time.

We, as a public, get the leaders that we deserve. It's not for nothing that this Lapid character has been put in such a powerful position. G-d willing it won't last long and sholom will return to Eretz Yisroel.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...


I'm not really hearing an acknowledgment that the current path is totally untenable and is destroying many many of our children. You speak about not going about change the wrong way but are you bothered by the need for change?


I believe you are misinformed about the derech. Except for extreme cases where someone is clearly on the verge of going off the derech, the lesson drilled into ever yeshiva bochur and yungerman's head is that Torah learning is the highest value (which is obviously is) and that therefore a life of kulo Torah and nothing else is the only way of life. Anything else is nebach. This is what is taught.

Menashe and Josef,

You both made a very interesting point about the way change must take place. Menashe, you said that everyone agrees something k'ein what the coalition is proposing is necessary (though I don't agree with your assertion that everyone agrees to that) and Josef, you said that the way of going about effecting change must be different.

I agree that this did not work if it imposed on the chareidi community from the outside. Change can only successfully happen if all parties take ownership of the process and participate in good faith. The problem is that there is so much "bad blood" right now that it's hard to get any kind of good faith discussion going.

That is why I've written an article proposing an ambitious framework within which such change can take place and I do not advocate any specific resolution. That is for the actual parties on the ground to do. But I do know of a tested way to facilitate that happening. The article is now being submitted for publication. I'll certainly keep the Dixie Yid readers up to speed on that whenever it comes out!

Josef said...

"I agree that this did not work if it imposed on the chareidi community from the outside. Change can only successfully happen if all parties take ownership of the process and participate in good faith. The problem is that there is so much "bad blood" right now that it's hard to get any kind of good faith discussion going."

I 100% agree with that. But I again have to throw in that Lipman's role in there being bad blood is quite prominent. His tactics from the get go were very antagonistic toward charedim and with a real lack of kavod for Chachamim.

Josef said...

And I agree with most of what you write about teaching as trade, etc. But people forget that the only real reason that charedim in EY are mostly 'learning only' is bec. of the army law that's been in place for 65 years that you can't work w/o going to the army first. Anf for whatever reason, army was not acceptable to them until the last 10-15 years when I reg. saw charedim in army uniforms all around EY. And now that trend, bec. of Lapid and Lipman bad blood they caused, has taken a real hit.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Once everyone gets into the room together, they may very well want start by spending the first part of the time laying blame and explaining why each feels victimized by the other. And like all other aspects of the process of reconciliation, that decision (what to talk about first) should be left up to the parties themselves to do decide.

Moshe said...

First, I want to reiterate what I said the other day that I appreciate you posting these interviews. Its necessary for people to learn facts themselves rather than through a subjective voice and make a informed opinion.

However, this debate has caused many people here and in our communities to play arm chair quarterback. There is a person in my shul I deeply respect. He was a Rebbe and went into work. He is honest, yirah shamayim, and is a Talmud Chacham. He said something to the effect that until we (us here in our comfy homes with a comfy life, etc) move to EY and sacrifice to be in the thick of life we have not right to comment on the current issues. It's some food for thought for all of us. If we lived in EY would we be writing the same comments we are here on this blog?

Last, DixieYid, you stated "Do you know what I would love to see? I would love for the Gedolim to..." How can any of us question/tell our Gedolim what to do? The fact they don't speak is for a reason we just don't understand. And if you really feel so strongly they should say something, go to EY and meet with them and ask them why? It's your right as a Jew.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Please see update to post regarding Rav Moshe Weinberger.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Marc, you know I love you, but I'm just expressing my wish. Nature abhors a vacuum. When there is a glaring, painful, horrible problem, only so much time can go by waiting for the true experts to enact a solution before someone who's not an expert cannot hold himself back from attempting to fix the problem to the best of his (possibly limited) abilities.

If a patient is lying on the street with a gaping wound. How long should the bystanders wait for a doctor or EMT to show up before they begin doing what they can. How can they watch the patient die? Either a doctor comes in and sterilizes the area and treats the injury, the area gets infected and gets worse, or someone with less experience who can't stand to watch the patient getting increasingly worse will come in and handle it.

I'm not necessarily comparing the colalition's proposal to an infection, but what do we expect. If the initiative does not come from the Gedolim it will eventually and inevitably come from somewhere else.

You're right though that if they choose to largely remain silent, there may be a good reason for it. And certainly they are no less concerned about the intolerable situation of the children and families of the chareidi community than Rabbi Lipman or anyone in his coalition is.

Perhaps deep down in your comment is an implication that knowing that change will inevitably happen in their community even if it is imposed against our will from the outside, and for whatever reason they have chosen to remain silent, perhaps their way of actively addressing the problem is to publicly oppose what is happening with the recognition that the ultimate resulting changes in the chareidi community will be the ratzon Hashem. It could be. This is something like what Eli Palay, the editor of Mishpacha Magazine, reportedly told a group in Lawrence, NY in the name of Rav Shteinman. See comment 16 here:

Josef said...

That kind of comment you here from time to time, that what right do u have to say anthing if u don't live there?

But that really is not true. We are Klal Yisrael and this is a Klal Yisrael issue. We all care deeply about Klal Yisrael and so we share our thoughts and feelings. Hopefully, we do so sincerely and properly.

Anonymous said...

Dixie yid you bring halocha, you bring very clever and no doubt well thought out points. Yet every well respected Rov I have discussed this with says for sure we should not give such a man a platform, nor associate with him/them in anyway. So whilst you may be very clever, you are not daas Torah, and these people are daas torah. There are people from all communities waiting at their door for advice and they seem to deal just ok with charedi, mizrachi, modern and the rest.

so whilst your own chochmahs may be very clever and well thought out, if they go against the gedolim, then i don't think it's the yetzer tov leading you down these paths of thought

Anonymous said...

pay attention dixie yid - all charedi communities in the world work and learn, but here the state has made it impossible for the charedim to do this. satmar in williamsburg work and learn shtark in both. here there is no choice - even the charedi unit is not for real good charedi kids.

Anonymous said...

source and context?? That being said, my own personal belief is that Rav Weinberger has no aversion to studying the positions of those with whom he disagrees - your own personal belief stands for nothing, what are you basing it on?

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...


Did you watch the interviews? If so, what did you learn about what is motivating him that you did not know before or about which you were misinformed? What did you learn about the content of the current law that you did not know before or were misinformed about? You can answer both of these questions without agreeing with him or the law his coalition proposes.

As I have said multiple times in various forms here, I do not endorse the current law or everything Rabbi Lipman says. That does not mean that I or anyone else should condemn him personally as having malevolent intentions or misrepresent what he's trying to do. It is astounding that you apparently believe that it is right to disagree with someone both personally and as a policy matter where (i) you do not accurately know what motivates the person's actions or (ii) the true content of what the person proposes. That is the purpose of showing these interviews.

It is noteworthy that you characterize a consensus by Chazal on an issue as "clever."

As I wrote above, I am not a representative of Rav Weinberger so I will let you contact him to determine whether, as you apparently believe, he supports believing in misrepresentations of the beliefs, positions, and motivations of those with whom he disagrees and does not permit himself to study the ideas of those with whom he disagrees.

Josef said...

Dixie, I see nothing in the recent anon posts that attack Lipman personally. He is just saying what many here are saying that by posting and giving attention to Lipman, andf by what you have seemingly written to praise Lipman, you are giving him at least some support which you should not be doing.

You wouldn't link to an Al Sharpton speech, right? Why not? Let's just hear him out?

Lipman has obviously no connection to Sharpton-just an extreme example to make a point. By linking and giving a platform to Lipman you are showing support for what he is doing and what he is doing is wrong.

Josef said...

Again, it doesn't really matter that Lipman thinks he is doing what Hashem wants l'shem Shamayim. So, we won't attack him as a rasha but Lipman has no Moreh Derech. If he's wrong, he's wrong and you should not be associating with him.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...


As I already said above, "there are a lot of people out there with whom I disagree and I do *not* go out of my way to understand what makes them tick." I already explained the difference here.

Perhaps the fundamental point upon which we disagree is whether there is/should be some rule that one not give an airing to views with which he does not subscribe to wholeheartedly.

I disagree. I value people like Jonathan Rosenblum, Rabbi Adlerstein, Rabbi Yaakov, Horowitz, and Rabbi Dov Lipman because while they may not all agree with each other, they're grappling with a vitally important issue for our community.

I believe it speaks of weakness of confidence and conviction if one is unwilling to hear out or air alternative perspectives.

And if I were to write a polemic to disprove or criticize someone's position, I would make sure not to resort to misrepresentation and would argue with those who misrepresent or unfairly criticize the subject of my critique.

Josef said...

So, you admit, as I have written before, you jump on the Lipman bandwagon because at least he's challenging the system. But if he is doing it in totally the wrong way, which he is, and which you also have admitted to, then you should not value him at all.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

(Sigh) I cannot even respond to that. Please re-read what I have already written.

Josef said...

What differentiates Lipman from Rabbis Horowitz, Rosenbloom, and Adlerstein is that Lipman continuously acts against proper hashkafos and halachos of Kavod Chachomim. Lipman continuously blows Gedolim off, humiliates and airs charedi dirty laundry in public for all to see. That's not how you make friends and influence people.

Lipman has voted to force thousands of sincere yeshiva bochrim at 21 to leave the beis midrash.

Josef said...

Can you ever imagine Rabbis Horowitz, Rosenbloom, and Adlerstein responding to a question of

"Rabbi Lipman, but the Gedolim are against what you're doing, how can you continue in your path?"

A-I make sense. They don't. So, go ask them why they are not following me.

Pretty arrogant. That's how he responds to Rabbi Korobkin. And that's just one example of Lipman blowing the Gedolim off. That's one of the main reasons why I and others disagree with you posting it.

Josef said...

Also, pretty telling that Lipman did not respond to that question with "What do you mean? I also have a Gadol or Moreh Derech on my side. . ."

Anyway, I still love you Dixie!

Good Shabbos!

Anonymous said...