Friday, June 25, 2010


Looking for a Perfect World

diamond_facetsby Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths 

Anonymous Commentor - “you cannot be for the torah if you engage in lashon hora...speaking so negatively of the enitre yeshiva system. have you been in every yeshiva? … i told akiva at the start, but he doesn't read these or disagrees: do you see what the initial piece has wrought?!”

There are those who see the holy Jewish communities and declare that in their purity and holiness it is a perfect world (or at least a very good very G-dly one).  Any challenge to the perfection is an insult to holiness, an attack on the community, and by extension an attack on the Torah and G-d Himself!

This is understandable. After being under attack basically for the past 2,300 years as a people, and after the Holocaust left the Torah world almost completely destroyed, it’s natural for us to build societal defense mechanisms against challenges.

But since the Holocaust and the creation of the State of Israel the Torah world has been incredibly blessed and grown tremendously.  The community has doubled, doubled again, and again, and again, and again.  Both from birthrates and returnees, the religious community has flourished.  Today’s big yeshivot are literally 20 times larger than the largest yeshivot of pre-war Europe.  The number of yeshivot may be 30 times as many.

Correspondingly, the number of rabbis, not to mention the learning level of the nashim hakedoshim (the holy women), is awesome.  While the total Jewish population may only now be equalling pre-war Europe, the percentage of religiously educated Jews is at an all time high in history.

So, in my humble opinion, it’s ok to take a deep breath, take a look around us and say that our communities have some failings that could use improvement.  This is not anti-Torah, it literally is the Torah way.  The Shulchan Aruch has sections on how to give rebuke.  LONG sections on business laws and inter-personal relationship laws.  Religious courts for disputes, religious laws for dealing with disputes, and the possibility of investing religious authority with those who can resolve problems.

Religious Jewish communities are filled with incredible amounts of chesed (people helping other people and setting up groups, committees, and organizations to do so), charitable acts and giving, helping the poor, etc.  Practically every family, if not literally every family, has some involvement in chesed activities of one sort or another!

But there are failings, cracks, and breeches.  People overcome by their evil inclination who fall to financial challenges, power and influence challenges, and/or animalistic challenges (just to name a few).  There are schools that are doing a poor job or worse.  Even people in authority that no one would call good.  This is nothing new, such incidents are discussed directly in the Gemora!  (All of the categories I mentioned!)

There was a time when such things could be swept under the carpet.  For the good of the community, it was best to ignore them or do our best to quietly deal with them.

But we have a unique challenge in this time.  There’s an eye that sees, an ear that hears, and while all is recorded in a book it’s also often recorded on a cell phone and put up on Youtube for everyone to see.  When a person is hurt, they’re not obligated by the sanction of the community to keep quiet about it anymore (or not willing to take it when the ‘good of the community’ doesn’t seem to include them).  Now they can shout it from the rooftops by email, cell phone, blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc, and be heard by a wide audience.

Just a few generations ago, every neshama (soul) was exceedingly valuable as it wasn’t clear if we’d survive, nay even thrive.  Today classrooms and shuls are bursting, and loosing a few people here and there is suddenly ok.  Now as we’ve upgraded our kashrus, Shabbos observance, learning with Daf Yomi, etc, now we can be equally as picky about our friends, our neighbors, our children’s classmates…we can be picky about our ahavas yisroel.

Here at Mystical Paths we believe in Torah, Hashem, the mesorah, and respect the leaders of the generation.  However, we don’t consider them infallible nor do we consider people (all of which have an evil inclination) doing bad things that hurt other people worth ignoring.  We see no problems in CONSTRUCTIVE criticism, trying to be BETTER EVERY DAY and make tomorrow one step closer to the best we can achieve in this world.

In this generation, sweeping things under the carpet causes more harm than good.  Because someone is sitting under that carpet with a digital camera, MP3 recorder, and a Facebook account.

We will not “maintain the purity of the holy community” by pretending the failings aren’t happening, ignoring them when they occur, or (G-d forbid) BLAMING THE VICTIMS.


Neshama said...

Reb Akiva
Good erev Shabbat.. Shalom (9:33 am here)
You are so right:
"In this generation, sweeping things under the carpet causes more harm than good. Because someone is sitting under that carpet with a digital camera, MP3 recorder, and a Facebook account."

This is exactly to show us that every step we take, every word we utter, every act we do, is recorded in Shomayim and waiting for us "on that day".

Anonymous said...

i find it very sad that it seems people don't really read the comments. they interpret them and then write articles. from the start, i repeatedly said that it was fine to constructively criticize the yeshiva system. my concern was the language in the "i'm committed" article. that's all. but it seems akiva misinterprets it as saying i want a perfect world where no one criticizes. and shiloh thinks that she knows better than the gedoloim.
well, gee. what the heck to i know then? i guess nothing.
may G-d help all of israel to understand each other and bring shalom. my intention in the comments was never to offend or disrespect anyone. but, very sadly, it appears that even simple language cannot be properly understood. i hope that this comment will also not be misinterpreted as the others.

Shiloh said...

ROFL at Annon. Let's start with Hebrew 101. If you would like to ask, Shiloh is male in Hebrew. It's only the goyim that don't know the difference and name their holywood girls that because they think it refers to the goyim idol jebus. Guess that Yeshiva schooling did not pay off too well, now did it.

Secondly, go ask your Rabbi or Tzaddik the reason several years ago some very knowledgeable rabbi's, actually one is a very well known halachic authority added a vav to my name. So before you go spouting off, get some facts. Would you like me to spell that for you in Hebrew?

I disagree strongly with some of the stances of the religious. They have some very strong stances against what I am aware of, because no one likes change, myself included. But remember this, though I argue at times with them here on this blog, I will still defend them when push comes to shove. Hiding our disagreements won't change a thing, correcting where we have strayed from the Torah will. Its not going to be easy either, 2000 years of galut mentality just won't go away over night. 2000 years of extra judaic teaching and traditions won't just dissapear. False teaching because of what the goyim forced on us won't evaporate because we want them too.

It's not personal against Akiva, Nati or Gutman. First, they are Jews, the outfits and system teachings to me are secondary. I would wish them a shabbat shalom, would they say it back to me because I don't wear an outfit, or because I am not haredi? Who knows. I know about not wasting a mitzvah that some Haredim teach, not to worry, I hammer them for that too when I catch them. Such garbage. I also tell them to go talk to their rav about it.

These guys know there are shortcomings and are trying their best to help repair the breaches. You bet, I have a bone to pick with the religious and how they have created this monster called religion. It simply got out of hand. And it's the Orthodox who need to clean it up, as I said, not create another franchaise.

Anyrate, let's hope that Day of haShem comes quickly. Time for a change, don't you agree.

Anonymous said...

Shiloh, why would they choose shiloh as a name for girls if they think it refers to jebus? jebus was not a woman.

Anonymous said...

for gosh sakes people. if you re-read my comments you'll see what i'm saying. re read what i wrote to the "i'm committed" post.
constructive criticism is fine, it's needed. it's normal to have concerns and complaints etc about the jewish world, the yeshivas, whatever.
my concern, for the final time is how the language is used!!! in the original piece, gutman aggrieved a young bocher. unacceptable.
shiloh has aggrieved me. unacceptable.
we have to learn how to talk to each other. how to voice our concerns with kindness!! this is how we build the third temple. we build it, and then Hashem brings His down from heaven. "olam chesed yibaneh" the world is built with loving-kindness.
it is not about publicly airing whatever one feels is wrong and just letting it out. no, the jewish way is to communicate to each other with respect and consideration with an "good eye" towards a constructive resolution.
please, i prefer not to rehash this. but repeatedly, people are not understanding the very simple point that i initially made and keep repeating. akiva's piece here seems to be directed at ideas i never said!!!
may Hashem help us all to communicate positively and construcitvely with each other.
would you please consider simply agreeing on that?

Tzachi said...

I agree with you 100 percent Reb Akiva. The Haredi world is not perfect and I think the time has come to eradicate its prejudices and its discriminatory policies. The first thing to do would be to open the Ashkenazi Haredi schools up to all Jews (including Sephardim). Lets stop discriminating based on race. The next thing to do would be to encourage intermarriage between Ashkenazim and Sephardim. This would make us less suspicious of each other. Thirdly, lets stop teaching Chassidic Yeshivas in Yiddish which is used mainly as a roadblock against Sephardim. Please, lets become more tolerant of each other, because we're all in this together.

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