Saturday, April 29, 2006

Yiddishism is alive!

(unpacking the Strashun Library, New York 1947)

No, not amongst the Workmen's circle and the Forverts, but amongst the Charedim.

It seems like many of our Yungeleit are "cashing" in on their total lack of knowledge of the English language, and total immersion in the silliness of newspapers like "Der Yid" and "Di Blat", to become well-versed in Yiddish literature of old.

On any given day, in any of the many libraries to be found in New York City, you can find Yungeleit with the שמונה בגדים with their noses in all sorts of books that are, to say the least, far from the Torah train of thought. The fact that authors of Seforim are to be found in YIVO, JTS and YU libraries is to understood, but this is different. We speak here of Yungeleit who, due to their lack of skills, and the inability for various reasons to attend college even after getting married, are unable to find a decent job that doesn't involve shlepping boxes or working a register in a grocery store. They spend their days in these libraries reading Yiddishism's greatest works, most of which make laughing stocks of Torah study and practice of Yiddishkeit. A recent example of this was in the The Unchosen, where the main subject of the book tries to integrate into the old Yiddishisten of the Workmens' circle in Manhattan.

Of course Yeshivos could not imagine this ever to be a problem, but it has become a significant one, because it causes these Yungeleit to completely lose faith in Torah and Mitzvos,yet it does not allow for them to actually do something with their newfound knowledge. (In Yeshivos only English was a problem, Yiddish was holy and only Yiddish was allowed to be spoken.) That in itself is not a problem of course, since we do not wish, chas vesholom, that they do live as is suggested in these books. What we do wish is that these people living lies at least have an outlet to discuss their doubts, and to discuss what they've learned, that way they can be assured that they're not the only ones with questions in Emunah.


Anonymous said...

So others who do not know Yiddish and only Yinglish sit in the BP public libraires and others and read much worse stuff in Engelisz ! America is a free country, bachurim need to be educated not indoctrinated.If one is educated a copy of a magazine or Peretz means nothing, because one knows his or her tafkid and meaning of life.

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...


that's exactly the problem! Bochurim are not educated, but rather are told to stay away from "Toomene" this and "Toomene" that, and if he has a love for reading what's to be done then?

Anonymous said...

If it has hebrew letters, it must be good... Just like jewish music, right?

Anonymous said...

I think the charedi community needs to re-evaluate in attitude towarsd The Hirschian idea of Tora Im Derech Eretz.
I am not advocating a universal adoption of this derech, but lets face it this shito produced thousands of Jews who in Germany and Austria who were doctors, scientists, bankers, editors etc and remained fairly frum Jews.
Perhaps studying some hashkofe etc would be helpful.

Anonymous said...

Kurenitzer - I am maskim to what you wrote basically - unless perhaps for very simple and insulated types. However, I did hear a story that well reflects and illustrates the attitude of certain frum types re learning hashkofo. It was said it over to me by someone bishem R. Aharon Kreiser z"l (although that doesn't mean that it originated from him). Someone asked him, why Yeshivos don't learn hashkofo. His response - "kol hashkofo lira'ah" (a cute pun based on part of a Rashi / Chazal on the posuk of Hashkifah mimeon kodshecho...).

Anonymous said...

Kurenitzer, you said:

"this shito produced thousands of Jews who in Germany and Austria who were doctors, scientists, bankers, editors etc and remained fairly frum Jews."

is FAIRLY frum enough? and what does that mean anyway?!

Anonymous said...

poverty causes more sfeykos than "sforim chitzonim".
"aniyus ma'avir es ho'odom al dayto v'al daas koinoi"

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...


nice to see you, it's been a while.

Friendly: what about וישמן ישורון ויבעט, עשיר יענה עזות etc.?

Anonymous said...

The fat cats are quite happy with their position in today's frum society, with the "einei ho'eydo" fawning over them.
Which do you think is the bigger nisoyon nowadays? aniyus or ashirus?