To discuss issues relevant to the large and growing world of young Frum families and singles who are fully engaged in the Olam HaTorah and Olam HaZeh. You take your career, learning, family (or dating) and play seriously (not necessarily in that order.) You are nervous about the anti-intellectual trends that you see in your community while being proud of being part of the Torah renaissance in our generation.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Is College necessary for Parnasah

At a Shalom Zachor this past Friday night the father of the new baby was discussing High School choices for his eldest son with a few of us who where left at the end.

Someone made the point that the choice of High School was probably the most important choice for a frum kid's life as his whole future is dependant on this choice. This person - who is a wonderful man - is a Yeshiva graduate who later went for an MBA. He made the point that while in his youth he felt that it was important for parnasa to have his kids get an education so that they could go to college, he no longer believed it. Based on observation of his friends in the community - most of whom did not go to college right away, he felt that either one does not need college - as business is a fine way to go, or you can always go later.

I made some counterpoints; with the incidents of scandal in our community, could it be the pressure of making a living without skills leads to great temptations for 'shtick' and dishonesty? Also, my experience in Yeshiva was that a whole 'chevra' of guys went to college (at night) at the same time, and one by one decided to stay in learning and/or go into Chinuch. So we see that going to college right away is not me'akeiv staying in learning - just like learning full time right away is not 'me'akeiv' going to college later. But bypassing a true HS education and no college for years will not make it easy to go to college later - unless you are very bright (b'h we have lots of those:)

Who is right? Please respond with lots of non-scientific anectodal information an tidbits - like this one:
The first kid from my grade school and Yeshiva to face jail time (unless his father takes the rap for him) DID go to college AND grad school, as did his dad. So that might refute my point above... (oh, and ironically, his dad did not think that I was a good influence on his son!!! How's that for a laugh!)

I would love for a sociologist to do a study of the Orthodox community to see what correlation there is between education level and income - as has been done in the general population (where the direct correlation is very stark.)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Talk Radio and Frum Jews - Part II

I used to be a talk radio junkie. As a kid, with only an AM radio in our car (ember those days?) I grew up on Bob Grant and Barry Farber (I could not believe it when I found out that Barry Farber was "a proud Conservative Jew" and not Orthodox as I always pictured him.) I listened to Rush Limbaugh during is first year on WABC. I was SURE that his name was made up as who could have such a name! When I was in Yeshiva I became a true ditto head and believed that everything that he said was emes.

I believed in the late 70s and early 80's that America was about to collapse. It was falling apart because of Hispanic immigration. After all, Bob Grant said so, most eloquently, day in and day out. I believed that we where going into a massive recession in 1993 because of the Clinton tax increase, because (Bob Dole and) Rush Limbaugh predicted it. And Rush is right 98% of the time in his own humble admission. I believed that the American soldiers would soon come home in body bags from Bosnia in large numbers. Yes, I believed it all. And how I hated liberals passionately! How could they do this to my beloved country!

But as we know, America did not collapse. Just the opposite. It grew stronger. The country boomed under Bill Clinton, there was no recession as was predicted. And talk radio kept saying that the country was going to hell, but it wasn't.

Then some funny things started to happen, I started seeing Republicans mismanage. I saw them bankrupt both Orange County, CA and Nassau County, NY. Not through ideology, but through good old fashioned corruption and incompetence. And I honestly thought that only democrats could be incompetent and corrupt.

Then I heard Bob Grant tell a black caller who made his liberal case respectfully, "Get off the phone!! Go back to washing the floor!!" and I realized that 'they' where right! Bob Grant actually was a racist bigot.

Then came 9/11 and the Iraq war and Guiliani an Bloomberg and I started to realize that Government has often little to do with ideology but everything to do with competence. A competent liberal will be much better for this country than an incompetent conservative. And better yet, a competent non-ideologue - who understands that in the great debates between conservatives and liberals, BOTH ARE RIGHT!! IT JST DEPENDS ON THE TIME AND PLACE!!

In the South before civil rights, the liberal solution was correct. With our rivers and lakes and air being poisoned by pollution in the 60s the liberal solution was correct. With crime out of control and welfare becoming a way of life in the 70's, and high taxes crippling business, the conservative solution was correct.

I could go on for hours, but I have probably lost everyone by now, but hey, its my soapbox and I find this cathartic.

Talk Radio and Frum Jews - Part I

In a previous posting called Frum Jews and Republicans a healthy debate about frum Jews and talk radio began which I would like to expand upon. This first posting will be a response to my dear and loyal dissenting poster 'CM's comments to my posting.

Talk Radio has made, in my opinion, many people conservative instead of liberal. While it's a regrettable situation, I would rather that these people be conservative than liberal. Therefore, I like talk radio because without it people would not suddenly begin to think clearly about issues or debate them. Rather they would simply buy into the opposing view who uses the same tactic.

IMHO this is not correct. What talk radio did is make politics into a team sport. Conservative and Liberal where no longer ideologies but rather 'teams'. Talk radio created a 'team' and turned a large segment of the country into members of the this Conservative/Republican team. Like any 'team', or like color war in camp, you have to build the enthusiasm. This is done by feeding the team the same message over and over ("the liberal have in the past, are currently, and will in the future destroy this country!") building up their anger against "the liberals" - so even know that Cons/Repub control the White House, the Senate the Congress, the Supreme Court and the majority of the Governorships, talk radio still continues to preach that "liberals" are ruining this country - as if Conservatives are still in the opposition!

So you are correct when you said earlier in your post that we have become a sound bite nation and not having red hot talk radio won't cause people to suddenly think clearly. But there is an alternative that you might not have thought of - that they will keep an open mind and not blindly apply the conservative solution to every problem in every time and every place. And more importantly, they might keep an open mind about the honesty and integrity of Cons/Rep office holders and hold ALL office holders to the same standard - regardless of their ideology. None of these can happen in the current climate. Because since they are on the 'team', they must support the team all the time always (with one exception - if a 'team' member G-d forbid compromises with a liberal, oy vey!, or if a 'team' member G-d forbid pushes a liberal idea as being a solution in some exceptional circumstance, then "read my lips".

More later.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Teaching Children Midrashim as fact

My Shabbos table has now (b'h) been transformed as my 5 1/2 year old daughter wants to talk about the Parsha on Friday nights as she is learning a lot about it in school. This puts me in a bit of a bind. Since they are not studying Chumash yet, what they are taught is a tapestry woven up between the actual stories of the chumash and the midrashim - most often those quoted by Rashi - but not exclusively. It is all woven together with no distinction.

Am I the only one who has problems with this method?

I don't take most of the Midrashim literaly but rather figuratively. Did Eisav really try to bite Yaakov's neck when he hugged him but Hashem turned it into stone? Seems to fly against the peshuta shel mikra which indicate that Yakov's approach of submission seemed successfull in turning Eisav's heart. Are Chazal telling us that deep down Eisav still hates Yakov (Halacha Eisav Sonei as Yakov) and only Hashem's intervention can save us? This is conveyed by Eisav biting Yakov but being saved miraculously - percisely at the time of raproachment?

So when my daughter tells me over the literal version of this and asks "isn't that right, Tati?" I want to reassure her 'yes', but I just can't do it. I can't say "yes, that's what happend" when I don't believe it. But she is too young to understand the nuance of Peshat vs Drush so I can't explain that to her yet. So I wish that they would just tell the story as the Torah tells it and save the Midrashim for later so I would not have to be put into this uncomfortable situation of having to chose between truth as I believe and trying to keep my kid on the same page as her teachers.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

For those of you who don't get Newsweek; George F. Will on Bush

As a public service to those who do not get Newsweek, I would like to quote George F. Will's column in this week's edition where he discusses Bush's performance this past year. This is important for all my Bush/Republican apologist readers out there - for George F. Will is one of the country's leading conservative intellectuals and writers. I quote:

"At home, the president's and the nation's disagreeable year can be summarized by three female names: Terri Schiavo, Harriet Miers and Katrina. The first (Schiavo) involved grotesque overreaching by the federal government, undertaken by self-described conservatives whose action refuted their description. The second (Miers) involved indifference to competence. The third (Katrina) displayed the consequences of incompetence. Abroad, Iraq illustrated one, two and three."

Period, end of story.

Frum Jews - stop being apologists for Bush. Be thankful for his support for Sharon, but don't follow him blindly, as our grandparents did FDR. Keep your eyes and minds open and watch your back, as "Ein Lonu LeHishaen Elah al Avinu SheBashamaim"

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Michal's revenge - why shuls can be so dull

I find it very frustrating sometimes in Frum shuls as the davening can be ... so boring! I am really perturbed on Chol HaMoed and Rosh Chodesh when we say Hallel, but we just .... say Hallel! No emotion. No singing joyously. No clapping. Have you ever been to a concert? The place rocks. Ones whole body gets involved - singing, clapping, etc. I understand that there are halachik issues regarding clapping on Shabbos, but what about Rosh Chodesh? 'Hah Teinach' when it falls on a weekday and everyone is in a rush to get to work, but what about when it falls on a Sunday? Why is Hallel said as a 'dirge'? I once had an Iranian chavrusa in Yeshiva and he complained to me that when they said Hallel in Yeshiva he would get depressed!

Aside from sometimes during Kedusha on Shabbos, when was the last time that your shul rocked?

I call this 'Michal's revenge'. Michal bas Shaul who criticized her husband Dovid HaMelech for dancing raucously and joyously before the Aron HaShem and was severely rebuked by Dovid over it. Well based on our behavior nowadays in shul, it looks like Michal got the last laugh.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Mishpacha Magazine and Segulas, Round II

Based on all this talk regarding Segullas - I have the following question to ask. The Gemara is bothered by the story in the Chumash regarding the golden snake that Moshe made during a plauge. The posuk said that when the Benai Yisroel looked at the snake that Moshe raised aloft on a staff, they where cured from the plauge. The Gemara asks:"Does the (golden) snake give life or take life?" The Gemara answers, that by looking at the snake raised high on the staff, the Jews turned their eyes towards Heaven and prayed to Hashem and where thus saved. What is the Gemara's kasha? Maybe the Golden Snake was a Segullah? What better Segullah than a Segullah direct from Moshe Rabeinu?