Avodah Mailing List

Volume 03 : Number 114

Wednesday, July 7 1999

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 6 Jul 1999 23:15:46 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: Pro-secular studies schools of thought

On Tue, 6 Jul 1999, Clark, Eli wrote:

> First, it is striking that only with respect to RSR Hirsch does RYGB
> refer to the: 
> >caveat that they all be adjunct to and subordinate to Torah and
> >its standards, and that their study be delineated by yiras shomayim.
> I think this caveat applies (mutatis mutandis) to all of the schools
> enumerated. 

Uh, I don't think so. To the best of my understanding, this is the key
objection the Breuers' TIDE perspective has to YU. At least from their
perspective, YU seems to hold that we will teach the bes secular studies
according to the standards of the secular world, i.e., the best possible
curriculum, even if that entail "apikorsus" with the best possible
teachers, even if they are "apikorsim", fall the chips where they may
(shades of RYBS's "Ramsayim Tzofim" RCA Address). To the TIDE perspective,
this approach is unacceptable.

> Second, in terms of understanding each school, it is worthwhile to take
> note of the deeper philosophical foundations of each perspective.  Thus,
> for example, Rambam's aproach is a direct outgrowth of his commitment to
> an Aristotelian worldview according to which, among other things,
> science and philosophy are considered coextensive.  Similarly, Hirsch's
> perspective cannot be divorced from his broader identification with a
> particularly 19th century German romanticism. 

> She-nir'eh et nehamat Yerushalayim u-binyanah bi-mherah ve-yamenu,
> Eli Clark


Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Cong. Bais Tefila, 3555 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL, 60659
ygb@aishdas.org, http://www.aishdas.org/baistefila

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Date: Tue, 6 Jul 1999 23:23:31 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: thinking for oneself

On Tue, 6 Jul 1999, Harry Maryles wrote:

> this list.  I think it is approriate to discuss what any and each of us
> see as flaws in the observance of Yahadus by large groups of Orthodox
> Jews outside this list.  It is true that Many points brought up by


Once you answer that question, then answer this one:

If this list is indeed the place for comprehensive assessment of Am
Yisroel, are you not then required to be fully balanced? I.e., for every
flaw cite a counter-vailing strength?

> what I perceive to be a problem amongst our bretheren. Knowing how to
> define the problem is half the solution.  I don't know if any or even

Maybe. But half a solution doesn't really work, so what have we gained?

> For example. in the above mentioned topic... (thinking for oneself)... 
> If there is anyone on the list who happens to have any kind of kesher
> with a...lets say.... R. Elia Svei, then maybe, just maybe, in an off
> handed and respectful manner he can bring up the concern to him and see
> what his response would be. Perhaps our perceptions about this problem


> are incorrect.  Perhaps something is alredy being done.  Perhaps R. Svei
> would disagree with our position entirely. I don't know.  But One thing
> is certain.  We need to know what is going on in the world (of
> Orthdoxy). 

Perhaps. But why davka here? Why not, say, Mail-Jewish? As a far morre
general list, it is a more likely place to get a genuine debate going.


Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Cong. Bais Tefila, 3555 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL, 60659
ygb@aishdas.org, http://www.aishdas.org/baistefila

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Date: Wed, 7 Jul 99 08:06:35 PDT
From: toramada@netvision.net.il
RE: Avodah V3 #112

>Date: Mon, 05 Jul 1999 21:57:26 -0400
>From: Harry Maryles <C-Maryles@neiu.edu>
>Subject: Re: thinking for oneself
>Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer wrote:
>> It is not the topic but the purpose of the conversation that I find
>> pointless. Since we are a self-selected group of "thinkers" (pat on
>> collective backs) regardless of the camp with which we affiliate
>> elsewhere, what exactly is the point of the discussion other than "my
>> (outside of Avodah) camp is better than your camp?"

Perhaps a discussion here will wake up some people who think that since they are 
"thinkers" -- they have done their part. <g>

This problem goes beyond "my camp" "your camp" and I have to agree with HM here. 

>However, I must respectfully disagree with RYGB and Micha as to the 
>relative importance of the topic and enthusiasticly agree with those who 
>have spoken favorably.  In all fairness there have been some 
>inapropriate refferences amongst the many posts but for the most part 
>the discussion that has been generated has been enlightening.  This is 
>more than about "my camp is better than your camp?" Some of the very 
>core issues that we have been debating may have their roots in whether 
>one thinks for himself in an intellectually honest fashion or (as one 
>person reffenced) one is just "following orders".  

As someone else on the list noted - thinking is hard work.  Not everyone is interested 
in it.  But it can have severe repercusions when the person not interested in thinking 
is a school teacher.  Through many different venues I have come into contact with young 
women (especially, but also young men) who have told me, what I consider horror 
stories.  How they asked their .... grade teacher a question on Hashem or Torah and 
were answered: "How dare you ask this question?!!!! Aren't you religious?!!!"  And no - 
this wasn't confined to just one "camp".  This can be found in all groups from 
ultra-xareidi to conservadox (still orthodox but with conservative type hashkafa).  
This kind of reaction/no-answer brings about the situation of adults who don't think 
for themselves.

A 2nd very severe result is that with so many rabbis and even dayanim who aren't 
willing to rely on their opinion -- we have situations where cases aren't judged but 
rather are pushed off so that the couples will some how find a resolution that won't 
force the dayanim to decide, and rabbis are just saying "assur" instead of actually 
analyzing matters and paskening based on their Emunah, study, intuition, analysis and 

As most of this list is composed of men, many with either smicha or at least advanced 
learning, I don't know how critical this can be for you, but for women who are taught 
that we have to rely on rabbis, and not think for ourselves on halachic matters -- I 
have seen some serious, even life threatening results of this problem.

Do I have a solution?  Only education, not only of our children, but of the teachers 
who stand in daily for us and are supposed to teach our children to follow Pirkay Avot 
(the 4 talmidim) - and teach them to use the brains that Hashem gifted them with.

Good luck.


Name: Shoshana L. Boublil
E-mail: toramada@mail.netvision.net.il
Date: 07/07/99
Time: 08:06:35 AM , Israel

This message was sent by Chameleon 
Torah U'Madah Ltd. is developing a DB on the topic:
"Environmental issues and the Halacha (Jewish Law)"
any and all related information would be welcome.

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Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 10:12:42 +0200
From: "Yisrael Herczeg" <yherczeg@netmedia.net.il>
Re: Avodah V3 #113

interesting stuff here, espec Eidensohn

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