Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Generous Words for the Washington Heights Kehilla

This is an excerpt from a fundraising letter that I recently received.

"As a young, newly-frum and newly-married couple, we lived in Washington Heights, NY (otherwise known as the "Kehilla Kedosha".) We were extremely fortunate to be in the presence of Rav Shimon Schwab, z'l and Rav Eliyahu Glucksman, z'l. Being a part of that community taught us so much of what is a true 'kehilla kedosha'."
The letter goes on to make a pitch for an organization in a different town that is trying to replicate what the authors experienced in the Heights.

I believe this is a widespread sentiment about KAJ. I heard one man who moved elsewhere reflect how "There's nothing else like it."


Monday, November 24, 2014

Online Class for the TIDE Society

I'm thinking that it might be nice if we all met via an online live class. The goal here isn't just to have a blog but a virtual community. I'm trying to gauge interest. We could use Google meetings or whatever they call it. So if you'd be interested in such a class (free of charge) please either indicate in the comments here or email thetidesociety@gmail.com and give me a sense of what times might work for you over the next month. Let me know also if you'd like to give that class. Figure 1/2 hour and then we can take a 1/2 hour to chat about our experiences and challenges as TIDE people.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Person's Worth

“To recognize a person is not just to identify him physically. It is more than that: it is an act of identifying him existentially…To recognize a person means to affirm that he is irreplaceable. To hurt a person means to tell him that he is expendable, that there is no need for him.”

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik in Angel for Shabbat

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Quotes from Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe.”
“There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”  

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”  

“A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.”  

“To think is easy. To act is hard. But the hardest thing in the world is to act in accordance with your thinking.”  

“Know thyself? If I knew myself, I'd run away.”  

"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”

“Nothing shows a man's character more than what he laughs at.”

“By seeking and blundering we learn.”

“A person hears only what they understand.”

“Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes”  

“There is nothing worse than aggressive stupidity.”  

“Nine requisites for contented living:
Health enough to make work a pleasure.
Wealth enough to support your needs.
Strength to battle with difficulties and overcome them.
Grace enough to confess your sins and forsake them.
Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished.
Charity enough to see some good in your neighbor.
Love enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others.
Faith enough to make real the things of God.
Hope enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future.”  

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”  

“The human race is a monotonous affair. Most people spend the greatest part of their time working in order to live, and what little freedom remains so fills them with fear that they seek out any and every means to be rid of it.”  

“If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.”  

From GoodReads.com

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Another Good Definition

"In modern yeshiva language I would define TIDE as a derech in which having a professional career is actually part of ones derech in Avodas HaShem not something outside of it."

Anonymous comment on bmoftide blog

I certainly look at my career that way. It's not just parnassah, which is the way some people look at work. I see myself as contributing to my host society. I am edified by the chochmah of it. I see God's hand in feeding everyone with whom I work.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Tiferes Tzvi Newsletter

Yeshiva Samson Raphael Hirsch publishes a weekly Torah newsletter. You can find the latest one here. (Published here with permission).

To subscribe, write to tiferestzvi@yahoo.com

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Battle for Ashkenaz

I once heard the advice that if a person finds out what he wants to do with his life he needs to keep it to himself because if you tell other people "they'll try to kill it".

This month I had two unpleasant encounters with people on the matter of Rav Hirsch and whether or not his teachings were emergency measures ('horah sha'ah.') I could probably explain it, but not precisely, the phenomena of some people who try to stamp R' Hirsch in such a way. It's bizarre how automatic is this impulse of people who don't even know each other to go on this diatribe almost in unison. They have nothing evident to gain and little knowledge about the topic. They go about it as if it were a religious duty. But they don't have much to go by other than counterfeit coins of misunderstanding, to paraphrase R' Hirsch.

My view on the different derachim is that Hashem formed different tribes and different paths for which one purpose is an exercise in tolerance, respect for gadolim whose thoughts don't match one's own, and the humility required for all of this. But there might even be a bigger reason for it, which is that Hashem is big and broad and so is the universe He created and so is the Torah, which has to be at least as complex as physics and chemistry. When I hear of other derachim my first impulse is not to stamp them out but to say how wondrous are our people and our Torah.

While many in the Charedi world have a certain bemused respect for Sephardim and Yemenites, they might be generally pretty intolerant of anything closer to home. Perhaps we can call this the battle for Ashkenaz. Who defines it?

Must there be one definition? Ashkenaz is more than 1,000 years old. Different legitimate paths will emerge.

I wonder if today our faith is so weak that we substitute ideology for faith and polemics for deveiykus.

I wrote in my article "Long, Lonely Journey to the Rav" (Tradition) how in my early days in the frum world I encountered numerous people who tried to steer me from studying Rav Soloveitchik and from seeing Rav Hirsch as anything other than a commentator on Chumash and fighter of reform. 25 years have passed and I have learned to keep my visions to myself but on the occasions when I slip I have the pleasure of reliving the past and seeing what a challenge it was in those early days to nurture my instincts and thoughts and pursue a path other than the prevailing one.

I post right at the top of this website R' Breuer's assertion that Torah Im Derech Eretz was not an emergency measure. I put it there to remind myself and everyone else because the revisionists are as relentless as they are ignorant.

As R' Schwab tells us, whether it's an emergency measure or not, it's needed today as our era is much like Rav Hirsch's. The problem is that the labeling of TIDE as an emergency measure pushes people away from it. If you are going to change your life, why go halfway? Only after a person has collapsed for the 1,000th time is he willing to just do what he needs to survive even with a path that could be less than ideal. Of course, R' Schwab reminds us that Torah Im Derech Eretz is a chumrah not a kulah. It is ideal. In many ways it is the harder path. This is a whole complicated subject in itself but not the point here.

The point is that people need to put a muzzle on their mouths. As a man once told me, don't sleep with your head under big rocks. If R' Schach and the Lubavitcher Rebbe want to fight it out, that's their business. You just go about yours and stay out of it.

Today, we all boast of our alleged respect for gadolim. Such is in vogue. If you want to find out who really means it, watch what they do when they hear that a Jew is a following a course different from theirs, a course crafted by a great man or men or an entire class of good Jews. Will they inquire about it in genuine curiosity or will they attack, imposing on it their will via yellow belt karate with just enough knowledge to do harm to themselves and everyone else.

Robert Frost reads The Road Not Taken

Robert Frost reads The Road Not Taken

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Hermann Schwab: The Writing of the Commentary on the Pentateuch

"Many a time our father also told us about the  origin of the Rabbi's translation of the Pentateuch  which was as yet a secret to us. The commentary  of the book of Genesis was composed from lectures,  given before an audience of deeply attentive people.  Among those present were three shorthand writers,  Mendel Hirsch, the Rabbi's eldest son, Heinrich  Heinemann and my father, and the commentary on  Genesis was written from their notes. In the first  edition Hirsch has proffered his thanks to his  helpers. The lecture over, my father, who was also  the Rabbi's neighbour, used to see him, at his desk  near the window of his study, working without a  break. The smoke of a pipe rose from the paper  which his indefatigable hand filled with small  letters."

from Memories of Frankfurt

Friday, November 7, 2014

Tradition Archives

The journal Tradition just opened up its archives to the public online. There's a wealth of writing on R' Hirsch. Click here to view the results: Hirsch Search. Here's a portion of it:

RABBI SAMSON RAPHAEL HIRSCH MYTH AND FACT 0 ur age is one of great opportunities for the Jewish people, afact which presents us with both a ...
AMERICAN ORTHODOXY'S LUKEWARM EMBRACE OF THE HIRSCHIAN LEGACY, 1850-1939 S amson Raphael Hirsch died in Frankfurt on December 31 , ...
R. Hirsch's approach is both modern and sur- prisingly operational: Tum'a indicates a feeling of doubt about one's own free will. The purifi cation procedures ...
BOOK REVIEWS Tradition In An Age of Reform — The Religious Philosophy of Samson Raphael Hirsch, by NOAH H. ROSENBLOOM (Philadel- phia: The ...
Declaring the term derekh eretz to be as ambiguous as the definition he chooses, he cites Hirsch's Commentary to Genesis 3:24, and, quoting Hirsch, defines ...

Service To Mankind

"It is important to recognize that in Hirsch's scheme, the Mitzvot are merely regarded as a means to the fulfillment of Israel's mission But the goal of this mission is completely this-worldly and humanistic."

"In line with this approach, Hirsch reverses the traditional view of the highest goal of religious life: holiness. We are accustomed to viewing holiness, the experience of the numinous,as the very acme of religion. For Hirsch, however, holiness is but a means of preparing us for the end purpose which is the life of service to mankind."

The-Kuzari-as-Contrasted-With-Rabbi-S-R-Hirsch-s-Conception-of-Tiqun-Olam-The-Place-of-Universalism-and-Morality-in-Judaism Michael-Makovi

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

R Miller on Secular Education

R Miller on Secular Education


"It’s a question of limudei chol (secular education).

"In Frankurt-am-Main they taught limudei chol in the school of the frum Jews. A man who went there told me once that he learned more Yiras Shamayim (fear of Heaven) from his science teacher there than he learned from his rebbe, because the science teacher utilized all the lessons to talk about Yiras Shamayim. It’s possible for a teacher to inject now and then certain thoughts in the minds of students that will give them more benefit than what they heard in the mesivta where the rebbe was teaching Gemara and Halacha (Jewish law).

"If you’re learned already—you know Mussar, you learn Halacha —and you want an encyclopedia in order to use it to help other people become frum using the information that you might pick up, go ahead and do it. Otherwise forget about it, because you’re not capable of dealing with the Apikorsus (heresy) in these books.

"I personally think limudei chol are a good thing if they’re done in a kosher way, because limudei chol leads you to Yiras Hashem if it’s done right. If you’re capable of distinguishing, then it’s alright, but most people shouldn’t bother bringing any other books in their houses, because they’re not capable. Children will read them and they’ll make a wrong impression.

"A man once brought me some books. I put them in my bathroom and I keep them there. I get benefit out of them, but he wouldn’t get any benefit from them. (#E-083, Learning to Live Successfully)"


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

10,000 singing Beethoven - Ode an die Freude _ Ode to Joy

Click to watch

Even the worm can feel contentment,
And the cherub stands before God!
Gladly, like the heavenly bodies
Which He set on their courses
Through the splendor of the firmament;
Thus, brothers, you should run your race,
As a hero going to conquest.
You millions, I embrace you.
This kiss is for all the world!
Brothers, above the starry canopy
There must dwell a loving Father.
Do you fall in worship, you millions?
World, do you know your creator?
Seek him in the heavens;
Above the stars must He dwell.

Friedrich Schiller

Friedrich schiller.jpg

(Note, while the singers are nearly all modestly dressed, there are some moments of some quasi-immodest dress. You can jump to 6:50-7:40, the key part of the chorus.)

Sunday, November 2, 2014


If your derech is Torah In Derech Eretz you are likely looking for the same in your prospective partner. Maybe this website can help. There's a few ways to go about this. The first is for you to send over a dating resume to thetidesociety@gmail.com or contact me there and we can speak via phone or meet. I'll try to match people up, bli neder. The second is for you to post your dating resume here or to just post some essential details with or without a name and contact details. To do that, email it to me and I'll post it for you. If you are going for the post, mention if shadchanim or singles may contact you directly.