Wednesday, June 20, 2007

3 Tammuz was the end of the line ------

---- For The Volozhin Revolution.


("alte Mirrer") From Here

Chaim G commenting on Circus Tent: Last night in Lakewood

Here’s the point: Rav Chaim Volozhiner's revolution is truly over and we may as well fix Gimel Tamuz as its yohrzeit. Here’s what I mean. Volozhin is conventionally credited with being “the mother of Yeshivas”. Yet we all know that Yeshivas have been part and parcel of the Jewish experience since Har Sinai. What Rav Chaim Volozhiner innovated was the concept of a free-standing institution that could transcend and outlive the intellectual and spiritual giants that incubated it.

E.g. the Maharsh"a and Rav Yonoson Eibschutz maintained gigantic Yeshivas. When they got a new rabbonus shtella the Yeshivas moved with them. One didn’t learn “in” Frankfurt-am-main but “by” the Rebbe Reb Yonoson. When Maharsh"a and Rav Yonoson Eibschutz were niftar the Yeshivas dissolved and most of the talmidim sought out new Rebbes, (kind of like the earlier, healthier generations of Chasidus, when Rabbisteve was not purely hereditary, and Chasidim did not sign lifetime affiliation contracts :-)

In contradistinction to this we find the Litvishe/Volozhiner Yeshiva revolution. Slabodka was not Mir, was not Grodneh, was not Telshe, was not Kelm, was not Kaminetz, was not Novardhok. Each Yeshiva INSTITUTIONALLY had its own wrinkle in Lomdus and, where applicable, in mussar. One was not a “vanilla” yeshiva man. Stating his Alma Mater could give you a pretty good notion of his Weltanschauung. At that time Brisk was just another (OK, perhaps the brightest) star in the Yeshiva constellation. It was not the totality of the constellation.

Up to a generation ago this obtained in the American and Israeli Yeshivesha velt as well. Baltimore, Telshe, Chaim Berlin, Torah Vo’Da’as and Lakewood, Chevron, Ponovezh and Mir all had a distinct shnit. Lakewood, especially, had feeds from its branches headed by R’Ahron Kotler's zy”a talmidim Philly, Denver, Scranton and Long Beach. In that era the ambition of bochurim was not to go to Avrohom Yehoshua (Reb Berel z”l) but to make it to their own Roshei Yeshiva’s shiur 3-4 years after high school, and then on to Lakewood. Having been mechunach by R’Ahron Kotler zy”a talmidim, they were "Lakewood type" guys way before they even got to BMG, the flagship school.

All this is dead today. We have come full circle and are back to “personality cult” Yeshivas. Can anyone imagine Passaic absent Rav Meir Stern? South Fallsburg without Rav Elya Ber? Patterson (I think) without Rabbi Swerdlov? IMO l’akher meah v’esrim these Yeshivas will all fold like cheap cameras and any Ba’al Tzedaka investing big money in buildings is wasting assets on diminishing returns. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at the turmoil in Philly and Long Beach over the last 6 years where the long-time Roshei Yeshiva are still alive but are simply not well. They provide instructive cautionary tales.

Until now observation. m’ka’an v’eilekh editorial interpretation:

IMO the reason for this phenomenon is not due to a lack of scholarship but due to a constriction and closing of the Charedi mind. Despites all the wailing and moaning about makhlokes and lack of unity today’s frum world is not just (externally) frummer than that of a generation ago, it is much more monolithic, monotonous and monochromatic. The great cacophony of voices has been stilled, and the marketplace of ideas has closed shop. The great debates of lomdus vs. mussar, Zionism vs. anti-Zionism, secular education vs. full-time, long –time limud HaTorah have all been settled with (respectively) Brisk, the Satmar Rebbe and Rav Ahron Kotler the victors and Rav Yisrael Salanter, Rav Kook and Rav YB Soloveitchik the losers. Any die-hards who think otherwise are either too scared to express their minority opinions, or as oblivious to the facts-on-the-ground as the Japanese fighters convinced of the Emperors desire for them to keep fighting World War II to the last man as late as 1949.

And so, Satmar had gained pre-eminence ideologically as Brisk has in Lomdus. In this ambience where there is only one flavor in the ice-cream parlor the only choice remaining is “who makes a better , richer, more authentic Vanilla”. Forget about Chocolate and Strawberry, let alone Mocha or Pistachio. No one is interested in hearing shiurim in the style of Rav Shimon Shkop or (SHUDDER) the Avnei Nezer. No one is inspired by mussar/hashkafa in the style of Rav Elya Lazer Dessler or Rav Yerucham. The only factor in a given mosad/ magid shiur/ communities “attractiveness” is how well does it approximate/ how quickly can it gain me entrée into… Satmar and/or Brisk. In religion the frummer, the more extreme, the more anti-Zionist/Goyim/modernity/secular education the better. In education, the more Brisk the lomdus (and the better the track record of acceptance by Avrohom Yehoshua) the better. No popular Yeshivas extant today will remain popular after the death and/or infirmity of their Roshei Yeshiva because whoever is the supreme "Brisker Lamdan" of the moment, and/or crony of Avrohom Yehoshua will then attract the best Bochurim.

And so I find all these expressions of shocked disbelief over BMG inviting the Monroe Satmar Rebbe to be the keynote speaker on Rav Shneur's z”l Yohrzeit comical. Lakewood stopped having a personality of its own even B’Chaim Chiyuso of Rav Shneur. Every place today is a satellite of Brisk and Satmar. As there is a long-standing the family feud between the Kotlers and the Soloveitchiks, and with a little D’var Torah Mo’ois Koinois to sweeten the pot, no greater kavod could’ve been rendered Rav Shneur’s z”l memory than to showcase the titular head of the movement that defines the stripe of Yiras Shomayim, not merely ascendant, but in monopoly-like control, in contemporary frum, Judaism.

62 comments:

Chaim G. said...

Shkoyakh for posting. Hope it earns me more friends than enemies.

Anonymous said...

Very well written, and you are clearly doing a lot of critical thinking. My sole gripe is that I believe Volozhin was, still, all about the Roshei Yeshiva.

Chaim G. said...

It always had great Torah Giants heading it. otherwise it woudl never have risen to prominence. However the institution transcended a personality cult and was greater than it's staff.

Perhaps Volozhin itself is not that great an example (in truth I'm not that "up" on it's history) but do you concede my point vis a vis say, Slabodka vs. Novardhok or Ner Yisroel vs. 70's Lakewood?

snag said...

Chaim G. -

Very good post. Yasher keyach.

However,

1) "IMO l’akher meah v’esrim these Yeshivas will all fold like cheap cameras and any Ba’al Tzedaka investing big money in buildings is wasting assets on diminishing returns. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at the turmoil in Philly and Long Beach over the last 6 years where the long-time Roshei Yeshiva are still alive but are simply not well."

I don't think it's so simple here. A son/eidem/mimaleh mokom can provide continuity or strong leadership in a different direction, sometime leading to further success. The problem in the cases you mentioned perhaps is more due to the long-time RY's still being around, but disabled.


2) "as the Japanese fighters convinced of the Emperors desire for them to keep fighting World War II to the last man as late as 1949."

It went on even longer than that.

Chaim G. said...

A son/eidem/mimaleh mokom can provide continuity or strong leadership in a different direction, sometime leading to further success.

Wanna bet? Unless the mimaleh mokom points things straight towards Brisk I don't care how talented or devoted he is. He will be doomed to failure.

Sure th e Yeshiva might continue running on fumes or old good reputations that die hard but the only recipe for long-term success today IMO is neo-Satmar Ideology and Brisker derekh haLimud.

BTW in case you may have missed it in the original post I am unhappy about this state of affairs. i much prefer a beutiful Mosaic and ideological diversity.

Anonymous said...

>>Perhaps Volozhin itself is not that great an example (in truth I'm not that "up" on it's history) but do you concede my point vis a vis say, Slabodka vs. Novardhok or Ner Yisroel vs. 70's Lakewood?

Slabodka is THE exception. The shiur itself was very short. And R' Itzile Ponovozer was no longer Rosh Yeshiva because the Alter WANTED NO ONE to copy him (he was very charismatic, and his shiurim were extremely exciting). But Kaminet was all about R' Boruch Ber. The Brisk chabura was ALL about r' Velvel. To a very significant degree, Mir was all about R' Yerucham and some of the older bachurim.

. . .Again, I am not so sure if your analysis is correct in this regard.

Twistelton-Twistelton said...

I have to agree with Chaim G., as will any true Litvak who knows his history

schneur said...

Brisk was not a yeshiva in Poland. Neither reb Chaim or reb Velvele had a yeshiva. The son had a kibbutz of older Mirer bachurim who would come for several zemanin "ainzuzapen" the Brisker derech.
Let me ask a question is there any subtsantive evidence about the gadlus of the present day brisker rosh yeshiva Rabbi AY. or does he just repeat his father's shiurim?

Chaim G. said...

3:50 anonymous

So IYO what was the Volozhiner revolution, if any?

i.e. How did it differ from the historical Yeshivas we've always had?

schneur said...

I like the people in the photo. Rav Nachman said that the day will come when it will be as difficult to find a pashute Yid as it is to find a true zaddik today (in his time) friends we are there.

schneur said...

Volozhin differed in the following way :
It was not supported by the locality it was based in. Rather it had meshulochim world over to support it . That includes America and the father of Rav Kuk , Reb Sholom zalman kuk was a meshuloch in Asiatic Russia for volozhin.This was an important innovation.Thus the yeshiva was a national institution rather than a local school.On the flip side this assisted the yeshiva in recruiting students from all over czarist Russia and more.
Next the Yeshiva assisted in providing room and board for the students.
The yeshiva had its own building rather than use the local besmedrash.
While Reb Chaim and his successors were all the official rav of Volozhin their power flowed from their status as rosh of the yeshiva not as the rav. This too was a major break with the past.
The rosh in Volozhin was both the educational director and the financial director, the towns baalebatim could not tell him what to do.See Saul Stampfer's detailed discussion about Volozhin in his study of that school.It will soon appear in English.

Anonymous said...

Awsome post!I"m not sure I agree with everthing you said,but your straightforward writing and obvious shychus to the yeshiva world(unlike most bloggers who write about this subject)provide for a great read.

The back of the hill said...

Great to see this posted. 'Shkoiach.

I will reread the post and the comments more attentively this evening (on lunch now).

Chaim G. said...

their power flowed from their status as rosh of the yeshiva not as the rav.

Did this make a qualitative difference to the talmidim? i.e. did it change the mahus of the Torah they were learning or it's method of transmission.

Is the author reducing the entire Volozhin revolution to this: Chasam Sofer= Pressburger Rov first Pressburger Rosh Yeshiva second whereas Rav Chaim Volozhiner= Volozhiner Rosh Yeshiva first Volozhiner Rov second ?

l'mai nafka mina for the Yeshiva Bochurim OR the Ba'alei Batim?

Chaim G. said...

and some of the older bachurim.

Wheras Rav Yonosun Eybschutz's Yeshiva(s) was about him exclusively. This is my point and is part and parcel of the Yeshivasha revolution.

If it exists at all today it is takeh in BMG where bochurim are attracted to the Oilim rather than the Roshei Yeshiva.

IMO It still betrays "the revolution" because said Oilim is monochromatic and generic and no longer embodies a PARTICULAR unique Lakewood shnit.

snag said...

"the only recipe for long-term success today IMO is neo-Satmar Ideology and Brisker derekh haLimud."

Chaim, you are impressive, but you should realize that this too can change. Just like there was a Brisker revolution, so too can there be a counter-revolution. Maybe people will get tired of the Brisker derech and want to switch to a pre/non-Brisker derech halimud. There are instances of that now happening now. Ditto re neo-Satmar ideology.

schneur said...

Chaim . You are confusing the historical issues. In Hungary the institution of the yeshiva never ceased and when the Chasam Sofer started his yeshiva in Pressburg it was a seemless thing as most Hungarian rabbonim had yeshivoth.By the way Rav Sofer started his yeshiva with bachurim who came with him from his previous rabbanus in Mattesdorf.
In Lithuania and Poland the institution of yeshiva as such had ceased since the gezeiros of tach vetat (1648-). See the famous teshuva of the Divre Chaim to Rav david Deutsch in Hunagry on this very issue. Rav Halberstam states yeshivoth are fine for your country , but not for Polish Jewry.
It may be that eventually by the charisma of the Sofer family (and of course the scholarship of the Chasam Sopher) the yeshiva in Pressburg indeeed beame a national institution, the Volozhin yeshiva was started as such ( anational yeshiva)from the get go as yeshivas were rare in Lita at the time,What you had were the Polish model of bachurim learning in the BM by themselves which by the way continued in Poland until 1939.
Perhaps there were not many differences betwen Pressburg and Volozhin in organization, but Volozhin was called the Mother of itvishe Yeshivos , not the mother of Hungarian yeshivoth.
Again I refer readers to the schoalrly book by Dr.Saul Stampfer.

Milhouse said...

There's a big difference between nowadays and the days of the Maharsho and R Yonoson Eibshutz: modern tax law has created mosdos, which own considerable assets, which will remain after the Rosh is gone. Someone will take over those assets, and that alone will create a demand for talmidim to populate them.

That's why there are such bitter fights now over the yerusha of different institutions, where in a previous generation there would have been some minor sparring and acrimony, but each side would ultimately have gone its own way: in the old days there were no assets to fight over. The rov or rosh funded everything out of his own pocket, and all donations were given directly to him. When he died, any assets he still had went to his yorshim, and the talmidim went their own ways. If some of the yorshim were fit to start something up, they'd do so, but that would be their yeshivos, not those of the morish.

When the Tzemach Tzedek died, the overwhelming majority of his chassidim, not seeing the gadlus of the Maharash, went to the Maharil in K, and that was that. Lubavitch was suddenly a much smaller chassidus, until over the years the chassidim started to come back. The Maharash didn't have any real assets that the Maharil and the Mogen Ovos didn't have (except the ksovim, which they takeh fought over). The name "Lubavitch" itself had no assets and wasn't worth much if anything. Nowadays everything the Tzemach Tzedek had would have been in the name of Lubavitch Inc, and there would be a substantial burden on anyone wanting to establish a breakaway, leading to a real reason to fight over which one is the original mosad and which is the breakaway. Cf what's going on today in Bobov and Satmar.

berl, crown heights said...

Tzig, nice post!

Mordechai said...

Amazing post. You left out the Chofetz Chaim network. They have nurtured the next generation and the institution is still healthy by all measures that I can think of.

Hirshel Tzig said...

Berl

s'nisht meiner

Chaim G deserves the credit.

But it's nice to have you drop by....

Anonymous said...

YU is a public trust Yeshiva. No family If you can learn you can become a Rosh Yeshiva

Chaim G. said...

Milhouse-

Maharil in K,

Please enlighten. I'm not a Lubavitcher and am unfamiliar with this part of the movements history.

Mordechai-

I concede your point. I believe Chofetz Chaim to be the exception that proves the rule. They do (for better or worse) march to the beat of their own drummer, Rav Henokh zol leben un ma'arikh yomim zein.

Besides being a principaled mekhanekh who stuck to his guns when some might argue "time had passed him by" he is a kliger yid who had his transition plan in place when he was still healthy and in complete control.

It is sad to note that although much of this is ideological and idealistic some of it may be the product of biological accident. To wit, he had no Biological Yorshim and no nisyonos of nepotism . He was able to run his Yeshiva as a pure meritocracy and entrust it to his most capable Talmidim whom he could trust to project his unique shnit in Lomdus and Mussar to coming doros.

Gidel said...

Chaim G
Nice post that I''ll have to mull over, but one thing:Your descrpition of the homogeneity of Oilem Hayeshivas and the Brisker Derech as the victor so to speak is correct about America not Eretz Yisroel.Brisk is mainly an American fixture, in Eretz Yisroel Ponovich, Chevron are a much stronger currency.
Schneour:Apparently R'A Y Soloveichik says a world class shiur, apparently a better deliverer than his dad.

Anonymous said...

Wow I didn't understand a word you said. Please stick to English or totally post in another language I don't know. Please?

Anonymous said...

>>IMO It still betrays "the revolution" because said Oilim is monochromatic and generic and no longer embodies a PARTICULAR unique Lakewood shnit.

There is a Lakewood shnit. Unfortunately, Chassidim are disrespecting it; but there is a basic, core Lakewood shnit.

joseph faith said...

As a bochur who has spent the last year or so in chevron i'll have to agree with the last poster. however, even chevron, which has it's own particular shnit in personality and dress, has less of a uniquness in derech halimmud.

David said...

Zayer intressante. Gutte Gezogt. I'll comment on Fred's blog ("on the main line") from where I got the link.
David Farkas

Chaim G. said...

There is a Lakewood shnit.

I respectfully disagree. IMO there is a generic Yeshivasha shnit informed by Brisker Lomdus and/or Satmar Hashkafa. You may have come to recognize this a s the core Lakewood shnit because BMG has become the only Yeshiva Gedolah left in America. Alumni of BMG branches are ,as a matter of policy, not allowed to return to their alma maters after their period of study in Israel and alumni of other Yeshivas who do (T.V., Mir, Baltimore et al) who do have huge question marks hanging over their heads especially vis a vis the shidduch market.

I'm not saying that Rav Ahron Kotler z"l was any less hostile to college than either the Brisker Rav or Rav Yoel'ish zy"a. But ask Rav Ahron Talmidim now in their high 60s and 70s or Rav Shneur talmidim now in there mid 40s to 50s if today’s bochurim and yungerleit learn and/or think like them and their friends and see what they say.

BTW I am not Chasidish and do not disrespect BMG. I am a tolerant and (this is going to sound funny)humble enough person to see value and good points in ideologies and approaches that are not my own. I just wish there was a little more reciprocal respect and tolerance.

It is the narrowing of Yeshivisha lomdus and Hashkafa to one stripe and the smug certitude in the utter valuelessness of all other stripes that bothers me. Paradoxically it is this narrowing that has led to an explosive expansion of BMG as the one address for generic Yeshiva-leit in the USA.

I don't care if it's all black or all white. I for one prefer rainbows and shades of gray. It amazes me how such highly developed intellects that can be so nuanced and fine in lomdus can be so ham-handed and insensitive to nuance in all else.

Hirshel Tzig said...

but Chaim G

shouldn't we be happy that the homogenization of the Yeshivishe as well as Chassidishe has happened? The end result is supposedly more observance, higher level of learning, one set of rules that we ALL need to keep, and so on. Isn't the trade worth it?

Anonymous said...

i think that the victory of r' aharon kotler and "neo-satmar" attitudes reflects a tendency for the extreme views to win out with "the masses". any nuance is viewed as a slippery slope at best on the road to haskalah. as far as the ubiquity of brisk and brisk worship this is an issue which i am intrigued by, i wonder if anyone has a good explanation.

Chaim G. said...

HT

You are a gracious host and, as I want to be a good guest, I am reluctant to disagree but here goes.

IMO no the trade is not worth it. The richness and "breadth requirements" of exposure to differnt zeromim enriches everyone.

Soon there will be no expositors , living links in various mesorahs, to give over the intangibles of diverse zeromim to the detriment of us all. If goyim can get worked up iverthe extinction of a snail darter I can't get worked up over the extinction of Dessler-ian mussarist or of those who really understand Radziner Totah?

Chaim G. said...

This may be a stretch but IMO this homogenization also (slightly) fuels the youth-at-risk crisis.

If from a very young age kids are taught that there is only one correct approach to learning and only one hashkafa of yiras shomayim, if an oppresive atmosphere of my-way-or-the-highway exists, some kids, despairing of ever traveling on the my-way, will opt for the highway.

If OTOH they get a societal message that there are other fina yidden who pratice a differrnt form of Avodah than your father and brothers do, a kid might opt for a mehalekh that speaks in a more compelling way to his/her unique shoresh neshoma.

Chaim G. said...

as far as the ubiquity of brisk and brisk worship this is an issue which i am intrigued by, i wonder if anyone has a good explanation.

The lomdus is crisp clear and brings fuzzy wooly-headed thinking into sharp relief. It, famously, seeks not to answer questions but to do away wit them. Good shtiklakh of Brisker Torah are brilliant in their simplicity and come as revelations. They almost invariably leave the student smacking his forehead and exclaiming "Now why didn't I think of that"

Also being localized and non-pilpulic (i.e. no APPARENT great bekius is required)it is highly appealing to novices who've not yet paid their dues and done the grunt work of mastering large swaths of Shas. In its popular version it presents the educational equivalent of a "get-rich-quick scheme"

RYBS of YU is reputed to have said “Until Rav Chaim (his zaideh) Yoreh Deah was pots and pans. Rav Chaim CONCEPTUALIZED it"

Chaim G. said...

Though he declined to do so I hope that David won't mind me cross-posying an exvahnge ath we had over at Fred's place

http://onthemainline.blogspot.com/

"It's an intresante post, with lots ot mull over, but I'm not sure he's right. Who says, for example, Brisk has won over all the yeshivas? Ner Israel, where I learned (mutatis) has not adopted that style. In fact, the different rebeeim have different approaches. I do not think Telshe is stricly Brisk either. And he concedes Chafetz Chayim is off on its own. So, I'm not sure he has it right.

It's certainly true that the great intellectual questions of the 19th century have been settled, at least officially. That's a shame."

David Farkas

"I do not think Telshe is stricly Brisk either.

Telshe in Chicago is an isolated outpost of the Yeshiva world. Really little more than a Mesivta for local boys. Cleavland/Wickliffe is a hollow shell. They are not the shakers and movers in the Yeshivisha velt that they wre from the 50s through the early 80s.

The only Telshe that is vital and vibrant today is Riverdale. And other than the maximum security dorm it bears little resemblance to the Telshe of the 60s. Rav A. Ausband is a talmid of Rav Berel Soloveitchik and IIRC most of his Ramim are likewise Brisk-trained. His yeshiva is a perfect model of the evolution (devolution??) I described in my original post.

As for NIRC, RSA and (to a lesser extent) MRCB. They are viewed by the avergae Yeshiva man in Lakewood as "strange-birds" and really m'chutz l'macahne of the Yeshivisha velt. Do you rellay suppose a Chofetz Chaim and Lakewood yungerman accord the same kind of esteem and respect to one another as a pre-war Grodna and Slabodka talmid might (or, for that matter, a contemporary Vishnitzer and Belzer)?
i.e. we are both legitimate member of the same movement with common spiritual provenance but we each have our individual identity."

Me

Anonymous said...

In regards to the Satmar ideology being prevelent in yeshivas it is very hard to promote a Zionist p.o.v as the current State of Israel with all its moral debauchery is the antitheses of what is otherwise taught in yeshivas.

Chaim G. said...

No more debauched than American Culture yet everyone had the Stars and Stripes flying for months after 9.11.

BTW Hesder Yeshivas in Israel and YU and it's sattelites here have manged to promote a religious Zionist POV despite all the real and imagined aveiros in and of the State of Israel.

PS a cup filled 50% of the way can either be 1/2 empty or 1/2 full. A lot depends on what you choose to focus on.

Absent Satmar Ideology the Yeshiva world should ,by rights, be Zionist loyalists not for any askhalta'd'geulah notions but merely for providing the setting for the greatest (quantitative at least) expansion of Torah Scholarship since Sura and Pumbadisa.

As my old Pal DovBear puts it "The State of Israel is the worlds best Shver"

Ahem...A litttle Hakoras HaToiv please.

Am Kshe Oref - A Stiff-Necked People said...

Chaim,

I got the faces working for the comments.

Thanks!!

Am Kshe Oref - A Stiff-Necked People said...

"Just take a look at the turmoil in Philly and Long Beach over the last 6 years where the long-time Roshei Yeshiva are still alive but are simply not well. They provide instructive cautionary tales."

At Chofetz Chaim, the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Leibowitz, seeing what went on with Chabad and seeing that the phenomenon in yeshivas was to crowd around a Rosh Yeshiva and drink every word he said, and seeing how they would be lost without that, and seeing how much turmoil the passing of a Rosh Yeshiva can cause, he decided, while still alive (ad 120), to appoint new Roshei Yeshiva in his place, which he has done and who know operate in that capacity.

Chaim, you know how I feel about the Yeshivish/Chareidi world, but I have always had nothing but admiration for Rav Leibowitz. He is truly a person who sees the nolad.

Anonymous said...

To adress your 3 points;1.You are obviously smart enough to realize the obvious distinction between suporting the US on a nationalistic level and supporting the state of Israel from a religious and hashkafik stance.2.Hesder yeshivas now face a daily struggle trying to reconcile thier Zionistic views with the current amoral State.3.Most yeshivas who you say are of the Satmar ideology are only so in regards to recognizing the total moral depravity of the Zionist leadership from Ben Gurion down,but not in how to deal with Israel on a practical level.In this regard the yeshiva world is actualy a lot more nuanced that thier mizrachi counterparts,but I concede there is a level of hakoras hatov lacking.

Chaim G. said...

More from onthemainline.blogspot.com

There's no question Lakewood guys see certain yeshivos as outside the yeshivish velt. But if you are going to limit your observations to simply Lakewood, they lose all of their force. Your post decried the fact that ALL of the yeshivah world had gone in a certain direction. If we are going to exclude Telshe, Ner Israel, Ner Israel Toronto, Chafetz Chayim, and more,then all you have said is that LAKEWOOD has gone in this direction. Nu, that's one yeshivah. Other yeshivas possibly following -Peekskill, S. Fallsburg - are smaller.

The truth is, I'm not holding so much in the oilam hayeshivas anymore. The shmutz of ballebos-hood, and the allure of blogs like this have driven it out of me. So I admit you seem to be more aware of the current trend.

I saw one of the commenters on your post drew a distinction between Israel and America. Kol Torah, at least c. 1992-1994, did not learn the Brisk derech exclusively.
David Farkas | 06.21.07 - 3:47 pm

bpunbound said...

From Mississipi Fred's blog:

Chaim G.

A brilliant analysis, well thought out, and you hit it on the head by your description of the heint'ige misuse of R' Chaim's approach as a get-rich-quick-scheme.

BTW, the Maharil of K was the Kapuster Rebbe, the TZ. TZ. had a number of sons, all of whom went on to lead their own Eidah. The largest was the Kopuster, which continued on for about 3 generations, most of their followers eventually returning back to the Rashab or disappearing into the murky abyss of pre-revolutionary Russia.
bpunbound | 06.21.07 - 3:56 pm

bpunbound said...

IBID

"Nu, that's one yeshivah"

David,

If I may, you would admit that's like saying "Microsoft, they're only one company"
bpunbound | 06.21.07 - 3:59 pm

David Farkas said...

Ibid

I admit its the 800 lb gorilla of yeshivas. But if one is to bemoan all of the yeshivas going Brisk, you cannot limit yourself to one yeshiva, no matter how big.

Example - if America voted to raise the voting age (or whatever), but Canada and Mexico didnt, you could not say that al of North America was heaading in the direction of raising the voting age. By population it would be true, but only becasue one single entity comprised so much of the population. Here too, unless you want to say Lakewood and yeshivas are synonomous, you cannot say all the yeshivas are going Brisk.
David Farkas | 06.21.07 - 4:23 pm

ADDeRabbi said...

1) in my opinion, you don't give enough credit to the non-chareidi or non-ashkenazi yeshiva world. there's a lot more diversity out there than this post indicates - at least in e. yisrael.

2) i'll second shneur's reccomendation of Prof. Stampfer's work. His thesis is that R' Chaim Volozhiner was a great teacher/Rosh Yeshiva who didn't want a big shtella. thus, he was attracting too many guys for the local community to support. he also happened to be the chief fundraiser for the talmidim of the GRA who had moved to E. Yisrael, so he already had his 'network' in place.

the significance of this is that once a yeshiva is 'independent' of a community, it can become much more ideological and independent - like a university can. it doesn't need to get 'bogged down' with interactions with community members. it becomes an ivory tower. pressburg was never an ivory tower. today, nearly every yeshiva IS. volozhin was first.

Chaim G. said...

Very intersting points. Not sure I agree fully with the "ivory Tower" for this reason. Wheras in secular academia the Ivory Tower connotes an aloofness and detatchment from the surrounding community I think that, at least in the postwar era, the Yeshiva has supplanted the traditional Kehilla-structure community.

At least for non-Chasidic (and in many case Chasidic as well) Orthodoxy those communities that hosted Yeshiva Gedolos and community Kollelim grew and sometimes flourished wheras those that put all their eggs in the Shul, or even day-school, basket withered and died.

Anonymous said...

Ner Yisroel is not a legitamite Yeshiva. Finis.

Chaim G. said...

non-ashkenazi yeshiva world. there's a lot more diversity out there than this post indicates - at least in e. yisrael.

I know that Shas is a major political party but don't you think the current Sefardi frumkeit of many Shas members has
been deeply impacted by Satmar ideology? The bushy beards, the langa peyos, the ultra-traditional garb (think Rav Amnon Yitzcahk)? The constant inveighing against the evil chilonim and threatening fire and brimstone (again think Rav Amnon Yitzcahk and Harv Yagen)? The "wounded-knee" like place "Yaldei Teman" has in Sepharadic AND Satmar history?

Chaim G. said...

it doesn't need to get 'bogged down' with interactions with community members. it becomes an ivory tower. pressburg was never an ivory tower. today, nearly every yeshiva IS. volozhin was first.

Lakewood (the 800 pound Gorilla) is more than a Yeshiva it is a TOWN and that Town is identified with the Yeshiva. The line between internal BMG politics and those of the Town are very blurred.

This supports my theory of Yeshivas supplanting kehillas. Today in Lakewood many Ortho citizens, alumni or not, get bogged down with interaction with Yeshiva Members and especially with Yeshiva Hanhala members and their policies.

Chaim G. said...

I have always had nothing but admiration for Rav Leibowitz. He is truly a person who sees the nolad.

You're right Barak. Me too. Not coincidentally Chofetz Chaim is one of the few remaining American Yeshivas that has retained it's own unique shnit and weltanschaung. See my response to Mordechai @ Thursday, June 21, 2007 12:47:00 AM

Chaim G. said...

1. You are obviously smart enough to realize the obvious distinction between supporting the US on a nationalistic level and supporting the state of Israel from a religious and hashkafik stance.

No I’m not. No one is that smart. The USA is Christian inspired but not a Christian State. OTOH Israel Is a Jewish State in the unenviable and often schizophrenic/bipolar predicament of trying to be both Jewish AND Democratic.

In Israel there is no separation of Church and state and the Rabbinate/Rabanut is an organ of the government. I think that Yeshiva-leit DO support Israel on a patriotic-Nationalistic level which is why I describe them as neo-Satmar rather than just plain Satmar and why Der Yid can drop a Z bomb on the Yated.

2.Hesder yeshivas now face a daily struggle trying to reconcile their Zionistic views with the current amoral State.

LOL. *SNORT* What? It was more “moral” (i.e. Vis a Vis pritzus and khilul Shabbos) in 1970??? No my friend depending on their affiliation- Ideological tilt they struggle daily with reconciling their Messianic Atkhalta D’Geulah Zionistic views with a state that would cede parts of Eretz haQodesh back to the Arabs and be a vehicle for Omnam, Yehudi KAIN megaresh Yehudi (or have you put away all your orange Gush Katif regalia?) OR reconciling their Ohr L’Amim- Tikun Olam liberal Zionistic views with a state that would erode its moral fiber through 4 decades of brutal, apartheid-like occupation and subjugation of another indigenous people.

Chaim G. said...

Most yeshivas who you say are of the Satmar ideology are only so in regards to recognizing the total moral depravity of the Zionist leadership from Ben Gurion down, but not in how to deal with Israel on a practical level

I think that you miss the point Have you ever actually learned V’Yoel Moshe? His quibble was not with this or that Zionist leaders personality, ego-tripping or personal observance. It was about the Zionist IDEA. The idea was treif and it spread tarfus. It was no accident that Ben-Gurion and his cohorts were reshoim as Herzl's very idea was rishus.

What you refer to as “nuance” vis a vis the Zionist entity people sympathetic to the Yeshiva/Degel/Agudah velt will call turning-lemons-into-lemonade pragmatism and people less sympathetic (incidentally the shita of Briskers ) will call unprincipled, morally-compromised selling-out.

Chaim G. said...

but I concede there is a level of hakoras hatov lacking.
That’s an understatement. A dispassionate observer would have to call it kfiyas tova or even being meshalem ro’ah takhas tova . But not really. And here is one of the subtle nuances that separate Satmarism from neo-Satmarism. Both Schools agree that Zionism is K’firah and Rishus and that nothing good has come from, nor can be expected TO come, from it. The pure Satmars/Neturei Karta-niks therefore conclude: Take no money or other tovos from the Zionist entity. On both a pragmatic and metaphysical level that makes them the mashpia and we the mushpoim and their hashpoa on us will be an insidious incurable spiritual communicable disease.

The neo-Satmars, I speculate, say something to the effect of kol tovosum shel reshoim ro’ah hee eitzel Tzadikim and that despite taking money/benefits/security from them A. they never REALLY did us any tovos ro’ah hee eitzel Tzadikim so why be grateful, much less reciprocal? B. Wary of their desire to manipulate us we can guard ourselves from ant negative hashpoah from them and just rap the financial rewards and Torah-building that accrues to us by agreeing to “play ball” with them.

Chaim G. said...

rap the financial rewards

should read "reap the financial rewards"

Fotheringay-Phipps said...

From onthemainline:

I think you guys are missing the demographic differences between the yeshivos. For most of the yeshivish, "all roads lead to Lakewood". It doesn't make sense to look at yeshivos like Passaic, Riverdale etc. as being distinct from Lakewood, since the overwhelming majority of the students of these yeshivos end up in Lakewood. Lakewood is sort of like the graduate school extension for all these yeshivos.
Fotheringay-Phipps | 06.22.07 -

Mike S. said...

I am not sure you have correctly characterized Volzhin, though. For all that it was widely supported, it remained a family institution--every single Rosh Yeshivah was either a descendant of R. Chaim Volozhiner or married to one. The European institutions that were truly community run were the Hildesheimer Seminary and Yehivat Chachmei Lublin.

Chaim G. said...

Family or not, meritocracy or nepotism the institution was bigger than this or that personality. This was my main point.

PS don't forget that many Rosh Yeshivas "picked" their future sons-in-laws with an eye towards the future continuity of the Yeshiva.

Am not familiar with Hildesheimer Seminary . IMO Yehivat Chachmei Lublin didn't exist long enough to really enter the conversation. Did it have it's own shnit? Certainly as the vast majority of it's talmidim, Ramim and Mashgichim were Polish Chasidish it HAD to have been distinct from the great Lithuanian-Misnagdic Yeshivas. But did it have time to develop a personality of it's own? What it was instead of what it wasn't? I think it was a flash of brilliance unable to coalesce into a slow and steady flame because the Nazi Beast extinguished it.

Anonymous said...

As my old Pal DovBear puts it "The State of Israel is the worlds best Shver"
------------------------
No, it is not. For those who choose full time learning, US welfare is far more generous than the Israeli system. And the EY yeshivas depend mostly on donors from chutz la'aretz.

Chaim G. said...

But don't most of the Yeshivas recieve Taktzivim from the Misrad HaKhinukh? Some of their budgets for building, food, staff salaries are funded by the government. Is this true for Yeshivas and Kollelim in the USA?

Yummy Dummy said...

Don't quite see it that way. I've heard comaplaints that the Yeshiva world thinks too much in B&W, but that's what this piece does as well.

The Yeshivas were obviously influenced by their founders, and the founders' successors. As in all the history of our mesorah, each talmid emulates his rebbe, and if that talmid becomes a rebbe himself, his torah and derech is for the most part derivative of his rebbes -- and rightfully so!

The innovation of the yeshiva system of the past few hundred years is not that the yeshiva outlives its rosh yeshiva. The oldest yeshivas certainly were institutions (Pumbeditha, etc.). I'm sure they had a certain continuity from generation to generation, and yet I'm sur ethey had subtle changes as they passed from one generation of leadesr to another.

So what was the innovation? To build a SYSTEM around the concept of learning in Yeshiva, one that was more than rebbe and talmid. We have mashgichim, maggidei shiur at multiple levels, and an outreach system that probably started purely from the pulpit. How did Volozhin, Mir, and the rest recruit, other than pure reputation? Musmachim got shtellers, and those rabbonim encouraged the potential yungerleit they found to head back to their fountainhead yeshivas.

So what's different today? Nothing. "Personal" yeshivas have existed alongside the institutional yeshivas, sometimes one morphing into the other. Perhaps tpday, they are more closely aligned than they were.

Is investing money in a one-lifetime yeshiva "throwing away" the donation? No! I don't see these edifices crumbling when their cultheads are gone. EIther they will adapt, or someone will take them over.

Were the investments in the Brownsville and LES shuls a waste of money? They only thrived for 30-50 years at best, and now they are dead or taken over by "yenem." (Whichever yenem you wish to choose.) Had those investments not been made, though, how many more souls would we have lost? Could we haev sustained a sense of community among the barely-holding-on second generation Americans, those lacking any real education, had we only had crumbling shtieblech? There's a place for shtieblech, too, but we needed grand shuls to belong to as well.

Let's take Passaic. It may be one of the more extreme examples, given t hat its Rosh haYeshiva does not permit multiple shirurim. Rav Meir Stern may have the largest shiur in America because of that. And without him, the yeshiva has only a mashgiach, shoiel umaishev, and part-time rosh kollel. After 120, what will happen? Either by then, there will be a well-established successor, or the yeshiva will lose many of its guys, and have to start rebuilding, under a new R"H. Guess what? That's fine. At worst, some other growing yeshiva with its own cult of personality will "take over," and those of the earlier group will either continue, or leave, and maybe someone will complain "where did the sale money go?" (Someone alswasy thinks there's a big payout hidden somewhere. Jews think that way.)

My money goes where I think it will do some good RIGHT NOW, and for the future as well. Why not?

Chaim G. said...

Fine. I'm just saying that the money would be better invested in salaries, highering more yungeleit to be in the kollel, improving the food or dorms for the bochurim, than in any grand Batei Midrash.

And/or adding bulidings to the campus of Yeshivas that have stood the test of time and are unlikely to be going anywhere over the next 50 years. The most Likely candidiates in this spartment being Mir Jerusalme or BMG Lakewodd.

Or... if your are for diversity and raging against the Satmar/ Brisk machine, Ner Israel,Y.U., Chofetz Chaim, Chevron or Gush Etzyion.

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