Friday, October 29, 2010

Parshat Hayye Sarah: Too Much Loss

The Parsha begins by informing us that after receiving the word that Sarah had died, Abraham came to Hevron to eulogize Sarah and to cry for her. The Rav זצ"ל used to emphasize that ordinarily the order is the reverse. First once cries. Only after time passes and perspective returns, can one eulogize the departed and evaluate who they were.

Sometimes, though, one is obligated to suppress one's primal shriek of pain in order to tell the world just who the person was who has gone. That way, the Rav said, we try to involve as many people as possible in mourning the tragedy. Once the eulogy is achieved, we may all let ourselves go and cry out in pain.

This week God recalled unto Himself the souls of two most remarkable women: Rebbetzin Shayndel Feuerstein and RivkA Matitya. They were inspirartions to all who knew them in their חסד, their optimism and their nobility in suffering. They embodied dimensions of עבודת השם, the profudity of which I have never before seen.

I am unsure what mankind did to earn their presence. It is beyond me how He could have taken them away from those that loved and needed them.

ד' נתן וד' לקח יהי שם ד' מבורך.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tehillim for RivkA bat Tirtzel

Please say Tehillim for one of the most remarkable and courageous women I have ever encountered: Rivka Matitiah (רבקה בת תירצעל).

Her friends added this to her blogpage:

As most of you know, RivkA has been hospitalized.

I would like to start an open-ended mishmeret tehillim for her. Participants would each take a chapter or chapters of tehillim to be said every day for up to 40 days. The mishmeret will start tomorrow (to give people time to sign up). Please forward this email!

Participants say 'bli neder I will say these tehillim every day as a zechut for a refua shleima for "RivkA bat Tirzel" and say their tehillim, the same chapters, every day.

It's recommended that you have a buddy, in case you cannot say your chapters or in case you forget.

Every day I will, bli neder, say the traditional prayer before reciting tehillim in the morning, and the prayer up on completion every night.

If, be'H, we can keep going after 40 days, we'll create a new page.

Please click this link and choose your tehillim.

Read more:

Friday, October 08, 2010

Allan Nadler on Modern Orthodoxy: Some Initial Observations

Allan Nadler is, without a doubt, one of the most insightful and brilliant people I know. He is also fearless. He gives no quarter to those whom, he believes, deserve none. His elegant, dazzling and forthright style of writing is always wonderful to read, thought-provoking and (for many) often infuriating. Therefore, when he sets his sights on a subject, attention must be paid. [In the interest of openness and full disclosure, Allan and I have been good friends for (gulp!) almost thirty-five years.]

In the present case, I refer to his review of the latest volume published by YU's Orthodox Forum. That volume revisits the question of the '
The Relationship of Orthodox Jews With Believing Jews of Other Religious Ideologies and Non-Believing Jews.' Nadler's, admittedly disappointed, take on the enterprise is:

Despite the forum’s presumably noble aspirations, many of its essays are marked by a palpable condescension toward “the others,” rendered all the more distasteful precisely because they were made manifest in a forum whose fundamental conceit is that there is something uniquely open, modern and even ecumenical about the Modern Orthodox community. The tangible sense of the book is that this characteristic, though never properly defined, renders it more evolved, if not superior, to the Haredi community.

As far as Modern Orthodox Relations with non-Orthodox Jewish groups, Nadler decries the lack of creativity evinced by the various contributors to the volume. He zeroes in on what he views as the Rav's '
paralyzing paradigm' in which he distinguished between the 'Covenant of Fate,' shared by all Jews, and the 'Covenant of Destiny,' which uniquely belongs to those who are committed to Traditional paradigms of Observance and Belief. He properly notes the fact that, in many ways, Orthodoxy has learned from and adapted much that originated on its left flank. Nevertheless, the impression one gets is that many of the writers related to this topic in much the same conflicted manner as Caesar responded to the crown that was offered him: 'he was very loath to lay his fingers off it,' (Julius Caesar I, ii). In other words, the issue was there, but it was neither embraced nor rejected.

I am the first to admit that Nadler raises many important, painful (for me, at least) points about the present state of Modern Orthodoxy. Still, there are a number of places where I instinctively sense that the reality with which he counters the essays in the book are a lot more nuanced and complex than it would appear. For example, the Haredi/Modern divide cuts both ways, both in Israel and in the Diaspora. While there is much to bemoan about the fabled 'slide to the right' within our community, Haredim have adopted (and are increasingly adopting) key elements of the Modern Orthodox agenda, especially secular education and (unofficially), culture. From another angle, there is the issue of Hiloini-Dati relations in Israel. Here, Nadler highlights the daring and creative essay by my friend and neighbor, R. Yuval Sherlo. R. Sherlo is, indeed, a courageous and forward thinking individual. On the other hand, the dynamic between Hiloni and Dati and Haredi Jews in Israel is so fundamentally different than that which obtains in the US and elsewhere, that I am extremely hesitant to discuss Sherlo's essay with the rest.

In any event, I intend to engage the questions and strictures posed by Professor Nadler in the near future. His questions, though, should be carefully considered by those of us for whom the Modern Orthodox enterprise is not an 'option,' but the essence and promise of Orthodoxy and Judaism in the future.