Sunday, December 28, 2014

Melave Malka, Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Vayechi, January 3, 2015

This Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Vayechi, January 3, KAJ is hosting a Melave Malka. This notice is a bit late as they had wanted reservations by the 10th, but I thought perhaps the TIDE Society might have a mini get-together within the Melave Malka. I don't know about you, but I feel like a sole practitioner of TIDE much of the time and would benefit from an actual face to face with some other believers in this derech. So if you'd like to attend, let me know and I'll see if they have any more room. They likely do. I can be reached at thetidesociety@gmail.com.

Note, KAJ events are done in good German form, with actual place settings and people that don't double dip. They are dignified yet down to earth affairs. I really enjoy them. The older generation of WH comes out and they are a joy to spend time with.


 Melave Malka, Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Vayechi, January 3, 2015  – Guest Speaker, Eytan Kobre, Esq. – 7:30 PM – 90 Bennett Avenue

Friday, December 26, 2014

From the YSRH Yeshiva Newsletter: Rav Hirsch on עולה and שלמים

"Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch זצ"ל says that יעקב was the first of the אבות to bring a שלמים, rather than an עולה. He explains that an עולה is completely burnt to ה'. A שלמים, however, is eaten by the owner and his family. By doing so, the owner makes his house holy and signifies that ה' is amongst his family.

"The concept of an עולה, to totally give oneself to ה', is also found among Non-Jews. This concept of making one’s everyday activities—such as eating—holy is only found by Jews. Therefore, יעקב was able to bring a שלמים, now that he has become שלם with his whole family."

continue reading
(posted with permission)


 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Except for Acher

You likely have heard of Acher, the tanna who went off the derech and the Gemara that tells the story of how he heard a bas kol that said, "Return all my children, except Acher." His real name was  Elisha ben Avuya but he came to be called Acher, "meaning something" else or "outside".

So I heard a clever thought from the Shela that Acher should have invoked the rule of guests who must obey all orders of the baal habayis except for an order to leave the house. He should have said, "Hashem you cannot kick me out of your house."

And I was thinking how the word acher makes the Gemara relevant to all of us. We cannot do teshuvah if we are mentally outside the fold or even worse outside by way of halacha. I know people who are no longer frum who want to return but try to do it with a weak sentiment all the while staying outside. You can't really do teshuvah, meaningful teshuvah, if your whole connection to Judaism is a fear of punishment. It's like giving answers to a torturer. You'll tell them anything. But your heart isn't it. Your mind certainly isn't in it.

No, you have to find a place within Judaism and repent from there. I don't know if it matters which place, which path, but it has to be a real one, even if one you concoct. You have to be at home, feel at home, ie have a home to want to return to it. It's not enough just to fear punishment. Many raised Charedi try to return there when that path never worked for them. They'll always be outside for Charedism doesn't fit. Perhaps, for some Torah Im Derech Eretz is the way, a way of being within Judaism, no longer an acher.

So Hashem, the baal habayis, cannot kick us out of His house. However, the house has to be a home for us so we are not acher. TIDE is the way for many.

Before and After

The Western World before the 1960s:

"That is why the Jew rejoices whenever and wherever culture elevates people to a perception of true values and to nurture goodness."  Hirsch on Genesis 3:24

The Western World after the 1960s:

"But of course where culture and civilisation are used in the service of sensuality the degeneration only gets all the greater."  Hirsch on Genesis 3:24



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Curriculum at Volozhin


"…[T]he students of Volozhin were quite knowledgeable in secular studies: they took an interest in science, history and geography and knew many languages. In fact, those students who desired to pursue these disciplines succeeded in learning twice as much as any student at a state institution. In Volohzin, Torah and derech eretz walked hand in hand, neither one held captive by the other. It was the special achievement of the Volozhin student that when he left the yeshiva, he was able to converse with any man in any social setting on the highest intellectual plane. The Volohzin student was able to conquer both worlds — the world of Torah and the world at large. A well-known adage among parents who were trying to best educate their children was, “Do you want your child to develop into a complete Jew, dedicated to Torah and derech eretz? Do you want him to be able to mingle with people and get along in the world? Send him to Volozhin!"  Torah Temimah, (MUtN, pg 204) in The Curriculum at Volozhin

Monday, December 22, 2014

Widsom from the Gentiles: the founder of Kindergarten

German-born Friedrich Frobel, the founder of the first kindergarten, wrote, “Education consists in leading man, as a thinking intelligent being, growing into self-consciousness, to a pure and unsullied, conscious and free representation of the inner law of Divine unity and in teaching him ways and means thereto.”

(The History of Kindergarten from Germany to the United States,” Christina More Muelle, Florida International University)


You see here the wholesome religious sensibility that was demonstrated by many 19th century German gentiles and can better understand the environment in which Hirsch's Torah Im Derech Eretz was forged.
 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Misportraying R' Hirsch

I saw this written about R' Hirsch: "As is well known, Rav Hirsch did more for the preservation and revival of Torah learning and Torah living in Germany than one could reasonably have expected of one man in one lifetime. The Frankfurt Kehilla which he established under the principles of austritt and strict adherence to Halacha, became a model Kehilla."

Yes, he did these things but note the emphasis on austritt and strictness. There's a lot of din in this quote. Austritt is singled out as the primary tool, when Austritt was just part of the package along with Torah Im Derech Eretz, which is not mentioned at all, and consists largely of engagement with the world. I think when the writer says Austritt he's thinking not just about distancing from non-religious groups but from everything secular. Austritt here is a code word for ghettoization.

And strangely Torah learning precedes Torah living, which we can presume to mean mitzvos. Yet, the primary task at hand was mitzvos. If a person kept Shabbos but didn't study Torah, you'd still call him observant. Not so the reverse.

This is what we call rewriting history and putting a spin on events.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Flash Mob - Ode an die Freude ( Ode to Joy )

I'm not keen on the term flashmob as it sounds 
a bit wild to this stuffy old mind. However, the
events themselves can be refreshing and mind
opening in our overly controlled and corporate
society.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Impressions from a Visit to Israel

As blogs go, this one contains little in the way of blog owner's opinion. You can't get away from it altogether as choice of material reflects one's point of view. However, on this blog, I mostly just post materials from around the TIDE world. I rarely argue for my perspective or comment on anything. There are three reasons for that. 1) I want this blog ideally to be a community center for TIDE people and not Yisrael's blog. I feel that by not coloring it with  my perspective, people will feel more that it is a place where they can post their own materials. 2) I don't want to scare anyone away with my particular take on TIDE, which is very much that of R' Joseph Breuer. People today are so easily offended and turned off. As it is the TIDE community is rather small, and by community I mean people who consciously identify with TIDE. I want to encourage participation from people with different approaches to TIDE. 3) I'm not any kind of authority, even on this topic that's so important to me. So I abide by the adage of better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.

However, now and again, why not share my point of view. I can't keep it all inside. So I'm going to share some impressions, gained from my recent visit to Israel. I'm in general pretty ignorant on the goings on in Israel so the following thoughts aren't any kind of analysis of Israel, but rather the impressions of an American who knows little about Israel. So this isn't as much about Israel but about how an American saw Israel. In the end, of course, I'll connect it to Torah Im Derech Eretz. Can't help myself.

In sum, most everything was the opposite of what people said it would be. When will I learn not to rely on the media or people who speak in ignorance. For example, I expected to feel very afraid of the violence there. However, I felt much safer than I do here. With Jews, there's always the danger of a damaging guilt trip, but not so much of getting punched. I expected a heavy military and police presence everywhere I went. However, I saw much less of a police presence and not much of a military one. I expected intimidating and invasive searches before entering any mall or public space. However, I found the door screeners pretty low key and humane.

On the other hand, I had been led to expect affluence and high technology. In reality, there's no comparison to the USA or Western Europe. Similarly, I had been told that 90% of Israelis are fluent in English. I can't comment on the doctors or professors but as for the people in the street, 1 in 10 maybe knew any English. This certainly isn't a dig on their intellectual ability but the fact that language instruction is a mark of affluent countries. In other words, it's a luxury.

I hope this doesn't come across as lashon hara on the country. What they have accomplished there in that little piece of land is incredible. And it does appear a decent place to live. However, I think Americans in trying to persuade people to make Aliyah try to make Israel seem like Silicon Valley. My impression is that Hashem has given us a haven of sorts but that we still are very much in golus and the people carry a heavy load, even a sadness that reminds me of the Pale of Settlement. Certainly, the isolation from the neighboring countries also reminds one of the Pale.

So what's the connection to TIDE? Well firstly, R' Hirsch skepticism about Zionism comes to mind. There are an awful lot of non-observant people over there. It's very strange to see Jews in the Holy Land not keeping mitzvos. And I'm not talking about individual Jews but the general populace. Isn't that why we got kicked out?

But on the other hand, I can see the possibilities for a fuller engagement with TIDE in Israel. As much as I try to feel a partnership with my host society in America, there are limitations when dealing with people of a different value system. And I'm not talking about Christians. If only they were still Christian. I'm talking about a society that, well, you know what I'm saying. Israelis have their schtick but they still are Jews and one feels that even when dealing with the bus drivers, who drive very fast.

So that's all I wanted to say. Now back to posts of quotes and links.





Thursday, December 11, 2014

Contribute to the stability of civilised society

http://www.come-and-hear.com/sanhedrin/sanhedrin_24.html

MISHNAH. AND THESE ARE INELIGIBLE [TO BE WITNESSES OR JUDGES]: A GAMBLER WITH DICE... 

R. Shesheth said: Such cases do not come under the category of Asmakta;  but the reason is that they [sc. dice players] are not concerned with the general welfare. 

I.e., they do not contribute to the stability of civilised society.

(Source provided by TIDESociety reader Yehuda)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Dilution of TIDE?


Professor Max Landau of the Berlin Seminary on the dilution of TIDE:

 
"What is the reason for this change of opinion on the part of German Orthodoxy with regard to Samson Raphael Hirsch? To begin with, this new attitude did not come about suddenly; much rather, it is the result of a long process of spiritual development. It received its final impetus from a deep-seated sense of insecurity which beset German Orthodoxy ever since the end of the last war. The encounter with the world of “Eastern European” Judaism and an intensive preoccupation with Jewish spiritual problems have severely shaken the former self-confidence of German Orthodoxy and its firm conviction that it had the right approach to the problem of realizing the ideal Jewish way of life in our times. As a result, German Orthodoxy is beginning to see how far removed it still is from such ideal “Jewishness”. A feeling of discontent and a yearning for self-fulfillment have taken hold of its members. Suddenly, many of the fundamental precepts which had heretofore been considered valid and unquestionable by German Orthodoxy were subjected to close analysis and found wanting in many respects. The German-Jewish concept of Jewishness was found inadequate compared to the completeness and intensity of “Eastern Judaism”."  Full article (thanks efrex for the text version)

from Pelta, R. S. R. Hirsch’s View of Secular Studies in the Thought of R. Joseph Elias

Monday, December 8, 2014

Mars


The surface of Mars. Credit NASA

Torah applies here too as does Torah Im Derech Eretz.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Unfair criticism

Along with the universal praises of Hirsch and the Frankfurt kehilla, one sometimes hears the criticism that the kehilla produced far less scholars than did Eastern Europe. The charge is a reflection of ignorance. The IRG at the time of Hirsch's passing numbered 400 families or around 2,000 people. That's the size of a single out of town congregation in the USA. And when R' Hirsch arrived there were just a handful. How many people were in Eastern Europe? There were at least 6 million. R' Hirsch's school started in 1853 with 84 students. In 1881 there were 600.  How can one draw any comparisons to or conclusions about Torah Im Derech Eretz with numbers as disparate as that?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Noble Soul

I recently reread R' Schwab's "Letter Regarding the Frankfurt Approach." It is so beautifully written, so wise and humble. Then today I came across this quote from Goethe and it made me think of R' Schwab.

"If any man wish to write in a clear style, let him be first clear in his thoughts; and if any would write in a noble style, let him first possess a noble soul." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe