Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Linked Article from 5 Towns Jewish News - 5,000 Girls Rally Against Today’s Fashion (1969)

Read Full Article

5,000 Girls Rally Against Today’s Fashion

By Nison Gordon, z’l

Translated by P. Samuels

Translator’s Note: The following is a translation of an article written by Nison Gordon, z’l, probably in Der Morgen Journal. The clipping came to us without a date. While trying to get information as to when this took place, I contacted the venue, The Brooklyn Academy of Music. They had a flood in 1977, so all rental records prior to that date were lost. I finally tracked down someone who was an 11th-grader in 1969 when this rally took place. She told me that it was quite impressive, as there hadn’t been too many mass meetings of religious Jews at that time. She also remembered that Rebbetzin Vichna Kaplan, a’h, the legendary founder of the first Bais Yaakov high school and seminary, was another featured speaker. If any reader has any more information, please contact the editor.

Tzniyus is usually translated as “modesty.” It also encompasses  distancing oneself from anything that can be construed as immoral or provocative. • • •

A study in contrasts took place in New York last Monday. Two diverse groups, more different and distant in philosophy and outlook than east and west, both took action against the newest styles. In New York, the Screen Actors Guild held a press conference to protest against some immoral ways they were forced to act as part of their jobs. They must be depraved if it invoked the ire of the actors who in effect are complaining of heat after they are to blame for igniting the fire. Read Full Article

Hat tip to anonymous reader

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Rabbi Shmuel Kunda

A Legend In His Time: Rabbi Shmuel Kunda z”l

Maybe this is a stretch to claim this post is about Torah Im Derech Eretz but then again, maybe not. I have only recently discovered the incredible music and stories of Shmuel Kunda. You have to hear it to believe it -- When Zeide Was Young in particular. So I just wanted to post a link to an obituary about him and to tell anyone looking for stories and music for children to consider the work of Shmuel Kunda. He took the theatrical medium and technology and made it Torah. So I guess that is Torah Im Derech Eretz, maybe one of the best examples of it.

Here's a sample. And here. And here. And most of all here.

Monday, January 16, 2017

G-d and G-d alone

“When, during the reign of Hadrian, the uprising led by Bar Kochba proved a disastrous error, it became essential that the Jewish people be reminded for all times of another important fact; namely, that Israel must never again attempt to restore its national independence by its own power; it was to entrust its future as a nation solely to Divine Providence. Therefore when the nation, crushed by this new blow, had recovered its breath and hailed even the permission to give a decent burial to the hundreds of thousands who had fallen about Betar as the dawn of a better day, the sages who met at Yavneh added yet another blessing to the prayer for the restoration of Jerusalem. This fourth blessing is an acknowledgement that it has always been G-d and G-d alone Who has given us, and still gives us to this very day, that good in which we have had cause to rejoice; and that for future good, too, we may look to none other but G-d, and none besides Him." (RSRH, Commentary to the Prayer Book, p. 703)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

600th post: All the realities of human affairs on earth

"The prerequisite for the true fulfillment of God's laws is knowledge, as thorough as possible, of all the realities of human affairs on earth. For example, the writings of our Sages have preserved for us an immense treasury of such a variety of skills and arts as agriculture, cattle-breeding industry, commerce, pharmacology, dietetics etc. Therefore the true תלמיד חכם the true disciple of the Law's wisdom, can learn from every man: from the farmer and the shepherd, from the merchant and the artisan, from the physician and the housewife, and so forth, and it is said, מכל מלמדי השכלתי "From all those who have taught me, I have learned and acquired understanding. Everyone with whom I converse could become my teacher by reason of the skills of his calling and his experiences. And they became my teachers because Your testimony which ennoble all our lives were the theme of my speech and thought. Viewed in the light of Your testimonies, nothing human is base or vulgar. Every aspect of human life is lofty and ennobled."  Hirsch on Tehillim 119:99

With gratitude to Hashem, this is our 600th post.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Torah Im Derech Eretz for Kiruv

We have all heard of Torah Im Derech Eretz (TIDE) but may have not all considered what an excellent tool for kiruv it can be. R’ Samson Raphael Hirsch crafted TIDE for a generation much like ours. As R’ Shimon Schwab wrote:

The approach of R. Samson Raphael Hirsch enables us to educate and produce God-fearing and Torah loyal young men, and righteous and valiant young women. Indeed, this is the “Frankfurt” approach, also known as the “Torah and Derekh Eretz approach.” It is a tried and tested method. It is especially appropriate in this country, at this time, which has much in common with the Haskalah period in Germany during the previous century. (“A Letter Regarding the ‘Frankfurt Approach’”)
R’ Schwab explained that it is irrelevant whether TIDE was an emergency measure or not (according to R’ Hirsch and R’ Joseph Breuer it was meant for all time) as we are still in that emergency. When it comes to kiruv we are arguably in a much more intense state of emergency as 19th century assimilated German Jews were incomparably more traditional in values and lifestyle than assimilated Jews today.

So what is TIDE and how can it help? In the words of R’ Hirsch:
The term Derekh Eretz includes all the situations arising from and dependent upon the circumstance that the earth is the place where the individual must live, fulfil his destiny and dwell together with others and that he must utilize resources and conditions provided on earth in order to live and to accomplish his purpose. Accordingly, the term Derekh Eretz is used primarily to refer to ways of earning a living, to the social order that prevails on earth, as well as to the mores and considerations of courtesy and propriety arising from social living and also to things pertinent to good breeding and general education. (Pirkei Avos, Chapter Two, Mishnah Two, Hirsch Siddur)
In this one paragraph R’ Hirsch addresses many of the major frustrations assimilated Jews experience with Torah life as it is typically presented to them. Let us briefly address them:

Parnassah - In addition to Torah life being expensive (tuition bills in America for 5 children typically exceed total median income), baalei teshuvah often receive no financial support from family. Besides that, the idea of not earning a living sounds completely alien to people who have been raised to build their entire lives around careers. TIDE addresses this concern by presenting parnassah as an appropriate part of Torah living whereas some of the derachim in our community seem almost hostile to it, a posture which can scare people away from Torah observance.

Social Order and Courtesy - Most Western countries are Germanic societies (English is a Germanic language) where order and courtesy are highly valued. While the musar movement also stresses good middos, TIDE stresses as well a sense of contributing to one’s society in a civilized manner. Many in the frum world advocate a general hostility not just to popular culture but anything whatsoever connected to gentiles. This attitude, which is arguably a byproduct of persecution experienced in Eastern Europe, can be a turnoff to Jews who feel they were well treated by their gentile communities in America, Europe, and South America or to Jews - and there are many - with a gentile parent. R’ Hirsch wrote numerous beautiful passages that offer a non-antagonistic outlook on the role of gentiles in the scheme of human history while still maintaining a Jewish identity and strict loyalty to commandments.

General education - College for most assimilated Jews is central to their life plan. They work for it from grade school and stay connected to their colleges throughout their lives. A total discounting of the value of all secular studies is just too much to take. TIDE allows for careful acceptance of the best of secular thought while keeping Torah central.

In addition to these topics, R’ Hirsch also offered a beautiful philosophy of commandments and presented many engaging benefits of commandments. His thousands of pages of writings are a library of kiruv material.

At the Torah Im Derech Eretz Society (www.tidesociety.org) we can help you to find materials to aide your kiruv efforts. R’ Hirsch’s writings have haskamas from the greatest of our gadolim including R’ Yitzchak Elchanon Spektor and R’ Chaim Ozer Grodzinski. R’ Yisroel Salanter was an ardent admirer of R’ Hirsch and believed that his writings would be of enormous use to stem assimilation and attract Jews to Torah.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Minimize the Anxiety

"If you don't have the right mindset though it's difficult to perform. One thing we don't want is a lot of anxiety. That's not something that's going to help you to perform well is to have a lot of anxiety."

Nick Saban, Head Coach, University of Alabama, one of the most successful coaches in college football history

A lesson for Jewish life too. It's an even bigger matter for Jewish life because it runs all day long not just for a few hours during game time.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

10th of Teives davening at KAJ Jerusalem

Shacharis is at 7:00, (Mincho is at 4:15 and Ma'ariv is at 5:17).

The location is 73 Nof Ramot (Wallenstein). Please call 052-761-1890 for directions.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Beit Shemesh Ashkenaz Friday Night minhag Ashkenaz minyan

With gratitude to Hashem, I am happy to announce our first Beit Shemesh Ashkenaz Friday Night minhag Ashkenaz minyan for Friday night, March 3 (5 Adar).

Date: Friday, March 3, 2017
Time: Mincha: 5:25 PM
           Kabbalas Shabbos: 6:17 PM
Location:  Near Ayalon Park. Beit Shemesh Ramat Aleph, Israel. Contact me for details: tide@outlook.co.il

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A gentile face is also the image of Hashem

"To love your fellow means your fellow Jew. A fellow Jew is a Jew who shares your commitment to the Torah. Now, it doesn't mean you have to hate him, or hate gentiles; you also have to treat gentiles with respect -- they're Tzelem Elokim. It's important to realize; a gentile face is also the image of Hashem. You have to respect human beings. Even when the Egyptians were being drowned in the sea because they pursued the B'nei Yisroel, and wanted to take vengeance on them and the Egyptians were drowned, Hashem told the angels, "Don't sing a song of victory because my handiwork is drowning in the sea. I don't want to hear my song.' So Hashem considers every person precious." R' Avigdor Miller, E-235, Q&A: Thursday Nights with Rabbi Avidgor Miller 2, p. 240

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Learning from Sports

Despite those who wholesale disregard sports, I have learned many life lessons from sports and sports figures. I picked this up from somewhere, can't remember where:

The life lessons taught by John Wooden have become legend. Here's a collection of some of the greatest "Woodenisms."

"Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out."
"Never mistake activity for achievement."
"Adversity is the state in which man mostly easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then."
"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."
"Be prepared and be honest."
"Be quick, but don't hurry."
"You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one."
"You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you."
"What you are as a person is far more important than what you are as a basketball player."
"Winning takes talent; to repeat takes character."
"A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment."
"I'd rather have a lot of talent and a little experience than a lot of experience and a little talent."
"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"
"If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes."
"It isn't what you do, but how you do it."
"Ability is a poor man's wealth."
"Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be."
"Consider the rights of others before your own feelings and the feelings of others before your own rights."
"Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
"Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability."
"It's not so important who starts the game but who finishes it."
"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts."
"It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen."
"Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful."
"The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team."
"Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming."
"Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It's courage that counts."

Monday, January 2, 2017

Linked Article - Chanuka and the Light of Torah & Chochma by Rabbi Shimshon HaKohen Nadel

Chanuka and the Light of Torah & Chochma by Rabbi Shimshon HaKohen Nadel from Torah Tidbits

"Aharon is instructed, "When you kindle the lamps, towards the center of the Menora shall the seven lamps cast light" (Bamidbar 8:2). According to the Gaon, the branches of the Menora represent the pillars of secular wisdom and knowledge. The center lamp, to which all of the other branches face, represents the light of Torah. Torah is at the center, but its study requires illumination that can only be gleaned from the light of secular knowledge (See the Netziv's HaEmek Davar to Sh'mot 27:20, 37:19, Bamidbar 8:2).

"For many, Rabbi Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman of Vilna (1720-1797), the Vilna Gaon, personifies the perfected Torah personality, with his complete, unflinching dedication to Torah study. Yet the Gaon also possessed a profound knowledge and deep understanding of secular studies, even encouraging the study of secular subjects.

"In their introduction to Aderet Eliyahu, the Gaon's own children attest to the fact that, "by the time he was twelve years old, he had mastered the seven branches of secular wisdom..." One of the Vilna Gaon's closest disciples, Rabbi Yisrael of Shklov, writes:
"He [The Gaon of Vilna] explained that all secular wisdom is essential for our Holy Torah and is included in it. He indicated that he had mastered all the branches of secular wisdom, including algebra, trigonometry, geometry and music..." (Pe'at haShulchan, p. 5a)"

Read More You must search on the title to locate the right part of the page.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Linked Article - Between Frankfurt and Tzfas by Boruch Clinton

"Specifically, I'd like to explore embracing Rabbi S.R. Hirsch's views on the goals and impact of mitzva observance as opposed to those of the "Tzfas" interpretation of the Zohar and other related works. The differences between these two world-views are far more than purely theoretical and stand close to the very core of how we see our relationship with G-d and the way we approach mitzvos and tefila. Let's begin by mapping out the key differences."

Between Frankfurt and Tzfas by Boruch Clinton

It's a great article and an important one. If I have one criticism of the article it's that the concern over whether we are allowed to dismiss  tzfat and go with Hirsch reflects the tzfat perspective (or just the contemporary one) that there's only one face to Torah when in fact there are 70. It doesn't even matter if the tzfat approach came from heaven. One still can follow his  gadol and Hirsch certainly qualifies as an authoritative and reliable voice of a Torah perspective. In other words, both views can be right. There doesn't have to be a contest with a winner.