Thursday, January 24, 2008

Some ranting, if you're lucky

Yesterday we had a Shiur with Rabbi Nachman Wilhelm. He said a vort from Rabbi Ovadia Yosef which was really nice. The question, R. Ovadia asks, is why do people react to a punch by blocking it with their arm? After all, whether the assailant hits their arm or their face, their body is still getting hit. The answer is obvious-sure, they're one body, but they're not equal in importance. Their is a saying in Judaism that all Jews are one body. R. Ovadia says, some Jews are heads, some are arms, and some are heels.
This story came up because R. Wilhelm was lamenting the sorry state of today's Jewish world, which of course has been a favorite pastime of humanity since the dawn of civilization, which of course occurred half an hour before the creation of time itself. He said that back in the old days, when times were good, Bochurim were either in Yeshiva, of which there were only half a dozen, or totally Frie. At least back then, things were relatively black and white. A Bochur knew that he had to live up to a certain standard. Nowadays though there are so many Yeshivas that cater to Bochurim who aren't living up to that standard. In fact, these schools are lowering their standards to accommodate their students, instead of raising their students to meet the standards of the yeshiva. This was always my big problem with Matisyahu, everyone's favorite fly-by-night Lubavitch/Breslov/Karlin reggae guy. The Torah calls for Kiruv, for bringing Jews closer to their Father in Heaven, when the Passuk says "U'mekarvan L'Torah." But that's exactly it; the verse says to bring the Jews up, not the Torah down.
Even back in the day, before 3 Tammuz, people Fried out. That's simply a fact, and there's no reason to pretend otherwise. But at least people knew they were Frie. Now there's a Yeshiva for everyone, and no one thinks there's any problem with anything. This is where the R. Ovadia Yosef story comes in-every Jew is part of our body, but sometimes we may have to sacrifice one part to protect another. I'm aware that such a comment could get me into deep trouble with every Lubavitcher on the planet, but what can I do?
Something that everyone can agree with is that our world is lacking boundaries. I don't mind if someone drops out, but at least they should know they've dropped out. Well, that's enough ranting for today.


cheerio said...

you don't think the people who've dropped out know they've dropped out? they're the ones telling you they've dropped out! its those of us who DONT think we've "dropped out", but who excuse our various inappropriate behaviors, habits, what have you, anyway that lead to the lowered standards.
i agree, actually. lubavitch could use some discipline. its not all love and harmony and acceptance.

Frozen Chosen said...

Which part are you? The heel or the armpit?

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Real Shaliach: I once attended, on a fairly regular basis, a weekly shiur given by a, dare I say it, anti-Lubavitch rabbi who expressed similar sentiments to yours. Essentially he was of the opinion that individuals shouldn't be self-deceptive - if one was doing something wrong, e.g., not being kosher observant, then admit it particularly to oneself. Don't make excuses, don't rationalize just admit that hey, I want a slice of non-kosher pizza because I like the taste of that particular brand without trying to justify it (who can trust any kosher brand anyway? its just cheese and bread? etc.) What I took away from this was the message that a person has to know where they are in the world - if one is honest about where one is, one will have the courage to progress to where one should be. The problem with yeshivas lowering their standards is not that they are lowering their standards but rather that they leave students with the impression that they represent the end of the process, the very pinnacle of religious instruction. If the yeshiva is honest with its students (we are but a rest-stop on the journey) the students will be honest with themselves and appreciate that graduation from this school only means that they can now move to the next level not that they have reached the end of the journey. As my FAA examiner said when he gave me my private ticket, this is not a licence to be a pilot - its a licence to learn how to be be good pilot. Leo de Toot (instrument-rated private pilot)

The Real Shliach said...

To Cheerio-exactly, it's the people who don't think they've dropped out who have in fact dropped out who need to be told that they've dropped out. To Frozen Chosen-why not the head?
To LtD-yes, we must constantly be aware of where we are coming from and where we are going to.

Roo said...

Yo Leo,

Good point and well-said.

Now, can I get a ride on your private plane?

Anonymous said...

Anything for the Roo! (apologies Mr. Real Shaliach for personal notes but I have to respond to my supporters). L de T.

Simple Jew said...

MR Real Shliach, Who do you think you’re representing?
When someone asked the Rebbe how he can stand on his feet and give out dollars for hours on end he answered: when someone counts diamonds one can count for hours…..
A Hunt Bleit ah Hunt. Ah Ferd Bleit ah Ferd. But a rough diamond just has to be cut and polished.
When is the last time you saw a heel become a head? Yet Rabbi Akiva became the leading Torah Scholar of his time.
After a child learns the Aleph Bais we don’t tell them they are done learning, their education has just begun. These special kinds of Yeshivas should be in the same category and be honest with their students that this level is a stepping stone onward.

The Real Shliach said...

Of course every Jew is a diamond. And I understand that Lo Yidach Memenu Nidach. Every Jew is a part of one whole, and joins us to each other. The point I'm trying to bring out however is that idealism with practicality isn't worth much. the fact is that some kids have to be thrown out of Yeshiva. The fact is that some kids were never meant to be in Yeshiva in the first place. Is this nice? Not necessarily. Is this fair? Yes, because it's not fair to make a bunch of kids suffer for the actions of a few. Is there a program available for the (almost) hopeless cases? Probably. But it's not our job here to rescue every basket case that walks in off the street.