Sunday, June 27, 2010


Does The Jewish Educational System Need To Be Changed?

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

    This series of articles started with an article posted on Mystical Paths written mostly by teens who left Torah and mitzvahs. The article was called “Why Judaism Sucks.” Next came more articles including, “I Am Committed,” wherein I highlighted how the spiritual side of Judaism is not being taught in religious schools or Torah-observant communities, which I feel is the primary cause for the vast majority of Jews not choosing a Torah lifestyle. I sited two main issues: Torah and mitzvahs are taught as an obligation, and not as a wonderful life of joy and holiness, and two, that there is almost no spirituality taught in the school system. Today, everyone is taught that everything is physical and talk of Hashem is almost forbidden.

    The articles have received strong criticism from people within the system, who claim that the articles foster loshan harah (evil speech) and are damaging to the yeshiva system. In fact, they say that the articles should be taken down from the Web site.

    The following is part of a letter from Monsey, New York. The writer is totally within the system, and recognizes what must be changed. See what it says. He is totally within the system, and he recognizes what must be changed. See what he says.



What you wrote in "I Am Committed" and in this follow up e-mail is bang on the money. These correspondents of yours are in denial, big time.

Keep communicating this message. G-d willing, the truth will resonate with enough people that the system will eventually change. And, boy does it ever need changing. It's got a flat tire alright.

Chasdei H-shem I have three children (all in their early 20's) who have gone through the "system". My two sons are learning in Lakewood.

The spiritual void within the system is endemic. The possibility of enhancing one's innate awareness of G-d is left out of the curriculum. Morahs andRebbeim are nervous and uncomfortable talking about G-d or spirituality, so whatever "inspiration" they offer the kids is flat and lifeless.

My sons tell me that kids as young as 5th graders are dropping out of Lakewood schools now. [Emphasis from Gutman] The oppressive conformity, restrictive classroom environment, and absence of any meaningful reason to stay frum are resulting in many lost kids in frum society.

The bottom line is that they don't get it, and they are afraid of getting it too. Spiritual teachings feel threatening, and seem disloyal to them (which is why you got the negative reaction you did).

They insist on not talking about G-d, and they do not live inspired. They are content with orthopraxy. [a religion that places emphasis on ethical and liturgical conduct as opposed to spirituality.] Clearly you are not living up to this social requirement.

I love your books, your e-mails and your videos and have grown and received so much inspiration from them. Please stick with it.

Brocha v'hatzlocha,


Mussa said...

Rav Ovadia Yosef, being the Tzadik that he is, let the Chassidim off the hook this time. But, I am sure that a close watch will be kept on the Ashkenazi Haredi Educational System for any additional instances of segregation and discrimination against the Sephardim. Little by little the world is being corrected and refined for the arrival of the Mashiach and the Emanuel school system desegregation is just one instance of this refinement process. Baruch Ha-shem.

Shiloh said...

The oppressive conformity. That's what it is. The issue is who is making the corrections? The system/matrix? It's so easy for the rabbi's to oppress based off of ONE verse in the Torah, but the real reason is why, and what effect will it have in this world and the world to come. The ultra orthodox sadly to say have become idoloters with the endless empty mitzvot. If we where only more observant (fences) is not the answer because we can never be frum enough (which leads to depression which is quite common). The answer is do our utmost to follow the Torah and have emunah. Emunah cannot come through 'religion' for many. I had emunah that was amazing, what happened, I became a baal t'shuva. You know what, the connection stopped dead. Go figure. Now, it's back to Torah and emunah and I stay far away from the local Haredim. Keeping it simple, like a child and a Father.

It's a great start, hope you guys make some headway.

neshama said...

Was it ever mentioned that the non-religious, quasi-observant, and anti-religious are also suffering with their children falling victim to the breakdown in Education in general; therefore, the religious are no different. This has to be seen within a bigger picture frame.

There is NO SEGMENT of society that is NOT UNDER ATTACK by the sitra achra, satan, whatever you call it. It means that Emuna and Bitachon must be strengthened, and likewise taught to the other children. It just may be that the haredi community sees this acutely and in their own way are trying to save their children, while at the same time throwing the other children to the wind.

Definitely education needs revamping, to meet the challenges and issues of our day .... davka to prepare for the Geula.

Crazy Smade said...

must be nice to have a people, a culture and ideals that one can feel so passionately about.....

Akiva said...

Dear friend Crazy,

There's a step of mourning your problem, crying about it. But then there's a step of you doing your part to change it. Often by taking the first hard steps we see Hashem open the door or clear the path that today seems blocked.

But perpetually sitting there crying about it hurts yourself and those around you, and doesn't make it better.

Crazy Smade said...

I appreciate the advice, but there's not a lot one can do when one is trapped in the belly of the fish. If HaShem's trying to teach me a lesson in "feeling totally powerless," then He needn't continue with the lesson. I couldn't feel more worthless or powerless than I already do.

If HaShem's trying to teach me to pray harder or to ask for the things that He wants me to have, rather than the things that I'd like to have, then He needn't bother.

Either I'm to close to the problem or the problem simply doesn't exist, but if that's the case and He wants me to be happy exactly where I am, then ... He might just as well push the CTRL+ALT+DELETE on my life, because there's no way I'll ever be happy living here in Redneck Hell.

Everything about America's culture - or lack thereof - makes me want to vomit. I'd have to have everything I've learned about Judaism wiped from my mind and be re-programmed in order to have a shot at happiness in Goyville, USA. I see no way out of my current situation and, please, don't think that I haven't been looking. At this point, there's not much else I can do but cry-out.

Of course, my family is sick of hearing it (as is everyone else) and they don't understand why I can't just go kill Bambi, get on welfare, suck down a few beers, eat a bacon cheeseburger, watch TV, surf pron on the Internet, and go to church like NORMAL folk do. ::::rolling my eyes::::

I guess I'm just stuck with the cards that were dealt to me. I might have to settle with them, but I'll never grow to like them, let alone learn to love them.

That's what happens when you take a sip from the Baal Shem Tov's wellspring. After that, all other water tastes brackish and if you drink enough salt water ... you'll go insane. Oh well....

Shiloh said...

One lesson crazy, is be very careful when you slander a Jew. You are experiencing what you are because you have spoken and have had incredibly bad thoughts about certain Jews.

The rabbi's see this.

You are convinced that Bnei Noach is not enough, but at least you can have some people to talk with and socialize along the lines of the Torah. Contact Jim Long. That's all you need to do. There is nothing that prevents you from keeping the Torah. There is also nothing that prevents you from attending a synagogue on shabbat or joining in on the holidays.

Crazy Smade said...

Shiloh, for starters, you don't me or my circumstances, so please, please don't tell me what does or doesn't prevent me from doing "this" or "that." You're not in my shoes.

As for slandering "certain Jews".... Shiloh, you're the only person who seems to have a problem with me on that front. I've apologized to you in the past, but if you want to keep rubbing salt in that old wound, then be my guest. And if you're still feeling offended after I apologized to you and after you accepted my apology, right here on this blog, then that's between you and HaShem. I seriously doubt He's holding that against me.

If anyone else out there feels that I've slandered "certain Jews," then please bring the specific incident to my attention so I can repent and seek forgiveness and make peace with the offended party or parties.

As for Noachidism.... Noachides are not a nation or a people or a community in the traditional sense. Sorry, but belonging to a cyber community isn't what I'm looking for.

Additionally, there's no culture behind Noachidism! Keeping the sixty-six (or so) mitzvot that relate to the Seven Categories of Noachide Laws is about as difficult as obeying the local traffic codes.

Also, there aren't any Noachides in my neck of the woods. Plenty of Christians! More than a few Messianics! Lots of Neo-Pagans! An abundance of Atheists! But no Noachides! And the Jews here have the common sense and wherewithal to live far away from my side of the tracks - not that going the Reform or Conservative route is really my cup of tea.

And I'm not looking to join a loose confederation of Noachides, who are largely made up of disgruntled ex-Christians and ex-Messianics.

And I'm not about to "play dress up" and run around pretending to be Jewish, like the Gentile Messianics do.

Personally, I don't have an aversion to the halakhot or the Oral Law, but I haven't the birthright to "pick and choose" what Mitzvot to follow or how to go about doing so. And I'm not living in a home where I can be shomer anything, because it ain't my house! So, at the moment, there's plenty of things that prevent me from "keeping the Torah."

Yeah, I'll drop Jim Long an email -- for all the good it'll do. I've written to other Noachide "leaders" in the past, which is why I'm not a big fan of Noachidism. Maybe Mr. Long's group will be different, but I ain't holding my breath.

Crazy Smade said...

UPDATE.... Shiloh, been there, done that.... These people have half a dozen websites and sister organizations on the Internet. Some are broken links and I've posted on their websites in the past and emailed them with ZERO results. Hey, but thanks for the suggestion.

IMO, Noachidism is little more than a spiritual retirement home where non-Jews can be dumped. Out of sight, out of mind. That might not be a valid critique, but it's how I feel. So, there you go. That's just my opinion.

Shiloh said...

There once was a farmer who came along a frozen snake. Out of kindness he took the snake and warmed him up, back to health. Once the snake was healthy, he bit the farmer and the farmer died. There is a lesson here. Let the snakes perish.

Crazy Smade said...

People are not snakes. Hillel had the right approach. Would that we all could become disciples of Aaron. That's why I enjoy hearing from R' Locks and his focus on the Oneness of HaShem and the brotherhood of mankind. We're all in the same boat; we're all offspring of HaShem, even those that suffer from a snake-like disposition.

Sadly, we all have an Evil Inclination to tame and more often than not it gets the better of us. If HaShem wanted it to be otherwise, then He'd make it so. Besides, even if one got rid of all the snakes, then one would just have to deal with an increase in the population of rodents. Like the song says, "Everyone is someone's lunch."

The lesson isn't, "Let the snakes perish!" The lesson is extend kindness to all of HaShem's creatures; just don't get snakebit in the process. ;) I'm pretty sure that was the logic behind the blockade of Gaza. Supplies could go in, but only after they were inspected.

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