Monday, June 02, 2014

New York - OpEd: Open Orthodoxy? NO Interest In Orthodoxy, That Is The Real Issue

New York - OpEd: Open Orthodoxy? NO Interest In Orthodoxy, That Is The Real Issue

The ending is moving and stirring - yet poignant and agonizing in its futility!

"Agudah!  Hear our cry, and help address this dire need.

In the past you have used the full power of your profound Torah wisdom, gifted lawyers, and organizational wizardry to get Klal Yisroel to start learning and completing Shas.  You have filled Madison Square Garden and every other major stadium in the metropolitan area with people to learn Shas and you changed a world.
We beg of you, plead with you.  Address the pressing needs of the nation.
Figure out what needs to be done so that our wives are not up at all hours of the night wondering where her son, or daughter might be.  Figure out how to fix our broken school systems.  How can we get our children inspired?   Get our children mentors so that they can once again thrive in their Yiddishkeit!  Tell us how to change our Shabbos tables so that these things will not happen!
Where are the Pirchei leaders of yesterday – that inspired a generation?  Agudah, we need you now, more than ever before.
Agudah please become a relevant and vibrant force once again, not just a press release Organization.  Address the real issues that matter!"


  1. The Agudah, and its Israeli counterparts, have spent two generations blaming everyone and everything else for the problems afflicting the frum community. You cannot expect the infallible Daas Torah which tells us that television, the internet, short skirts, mixed seating on buses, etc. is the reason for all our problems to suddenly turn around and say "Ooops, maybe we didn't do such a good job ourselves."

  2. Rabbi Pinchos WoolstoneMonday, June 02, 2014 3:47:00 PM

    Rabbi Bechhofer, very well written, precisely to the issue at hand.
    No more speech in the negative, more thought activity as has been the hallmark of Agudah.
    Political activism should be a quite affair carried on discreetly with fanfare and definitely not from the dais at public meeting.

  3. מְעֻוָּת לֹא יוּכַל לִתְקֹן וְחֶסְרוֹן לֹא יוּכַל לְהִמָּנוֹת

    "What is crooked will not be able to be straightened, and what is missing will not be able to be counted."

    (Kohelet 1:15)

    When Jews stay in one Exile spot too long, they die.

    Sometimes by assassination, sometimes by assimilation, but always it becomes impossible to stop the loss of our brethren.


    There is no Aguda program, no NCSY yarchei kallah, no chassidishe rebbe that can stop the slaughter of Jews via assimilation.

    How do you say this three times every day?

    תְּקַע בְּשׁוֹפָר גָּדוֹל לְחֵרוּתֵנוּ, וְשָׂא נֵס לְקַבֵּץ גָּלֻיּוֹתֵינוּ,

    וְקַבְּצֵנוּ יַחַד מֵאַרְבַּע כַּנְפוֹת הָאָרֶץ

    Anyone who says this, and doesn't plan their aliyah to Eretz Yisrael, is a liar.

    Stop lying to G-d, stop the slaughter of our children via assimilation, and COME HOME!

  4. As my brother who lives in Israel, who is visiting the US said to me, there is no part of society in Israel in which I would fit. Perforce, it seems Ratzon Hashem for me to abide here for now.

  5. ygb, this is a cop-out. I feel that way about lots of elements of yiddishkeit, yet i do it.
    if you found a part of society which you would fit better in panama would you move there?
    how did you do this test? did you write down all your hashkafic positions, and tried to see where you fit in there?
    do you fit in so well in the us?
    do you really have to fit in to a society so well -- dont you have so much in common with other [frum] jews that you dont have to fit in with a particular society?
    cant you work on making what is yours = israel a better place for others [or yourself] who may not fit? i mean, you wouldnt just say about a kid of yours, 'well, it just wouldnt work out, so best of luck to him in all future endeavors,' would you?
    perforce?! dont you mean perhaps? do you really think you can divine gods will so easily, clearly and unambiguously? maybe he wants you to make aliyah regardless? maybe he is telling you your brother is wrong? maybe your degree of social comfort shouldnt be necessary in someone who is otherwise so careful about mitzvot?
    my industry/job requires me to work on shabbat. perforce it seems ratzon hashem for me to work on shabbat for now. ????
    have you educated your kids to think that israel is the best and preferred [lechatchilah] place for a jew to live?
    somehow i dont think that israel is just some place to go if the rest of your life might fit in there. it should have more religious significance than that.

  6. somehow i dont think that israel is just some place to go if the rest of your life might fit in there. it should have more religious significance than that.

    It is someplace you go if you perceive you can do more there l'ma'an Hashem u'l'ma'an Toraso than in Chu"l. If not, then not. This does not detract from its religious significance in any way, chas v'shalom.

  7. i feel the same way about shabbat. or lulav. or davening. or kashrut. etc. does that work for you?
    and what of the rest of the comment?
    note i am not saying you [or anyone] must or even should make aliyah. i am just saying, be honest about it.

  8. This is the old issue of mitzvah chiyuvis vs. mitzvah kiyumis.

    I am being honest! :-)

  9. do you really feel that israel is the same as tzitzit? and if so, can an american yeshiva really penalize me for not wearing tzitzit if they get in my way?

  10. No, I "feel" much more strongly about Israel than about tzitzis. What does "feeling" have to do with anything?

    An American yeshiva will "penalize" you for not wearing tzitzis because it runs "in real time" contrary to their educational philosophy.

  11. sorry for using the word feel when i should have used think. i do apologize.
    but the 2 are on the same religious plane? and if not, where is living israel in religious hierarchy?

  12. Rabbi Meir Schlesinger once told us that he had to fire a rebbe in the yeshiva ketana that once existed in Sha'alvim because that rebbe refused to differentiate between the level of severity and significance of tying shoe a before shoe b vs. of b'chalav. Both, the rebbe contended were d'rabbanan -mai ulmei hai mei'hai? He said RSZA agreed to the dismissal. Now, this was probably just the tip of an iceberg, but the iceberg was probably made up of the same ice all the way down. V'duk.

  13. nice story. i appreciate metaphors, but this one is leaving with at least the same level of confusion. where do you stand on the place of living in israel in terms of priority?
    also, can you address my other questions?

  14. It is a very, very, very good thing when it is appropriate.

    What other questions

  15. The issues you discuss in the post are not priorities (or even cares) of AIA. OTD does not exist in their world. (When it does exist they either ignore, deny, push it elsewhere, etc) If you dont have money to push your child elsewhere, you are by defintion not an agudist, anyway (agudah = money). Though to be fair, their tax return shows they give substantial money to various mosdot. Of course, those are their mosdot. (But beware of laundering tendecies in their grants.)

  16. MMHY:

    That's not fair. At most you can say that in its current form the AIA no longer cares about OTD. Historically, OTOH, the JO was the first to deal openly with the issue, way back in '99. See:

    1. JO was always an independent project of AIA (presumably for legacy reasons). After all you can't have someone independent speaking for agudah, esp if they take (fundraising) ads for NCSY (like JO did, somewhat supporting your argument).

      Even today, they do / don't have a spokesman who writes articles / op-eds, who is / is not on payroll.

      MiMedinat HaYam