Monday, June 23, 2014

some quick thoughts

1) I remember when the Mir’s deficit of something like 10 million dollars was considered shocking, proof that the chareidi system doomed institutions to failure under an economically unsustainable model.  So what does YU’s economic problems prove about the economic sustainability of Torah u’Mada and modern orthodoxy? 

2) Yated Ne’eman last week claimed that the kidnapping of the teens in Israel is a punishment from G-d resulting from the attempt to draft yeshiva students.  Maybe Yated has a pipeline directly to G-d and that’s how they know these things, but if not -- if we are just shooting sevaras from the hip -- couldn’t one make exactly the opposite argument?  Hasn’t this episode helped rally support and appreciation for the army and effectively put an end to the protests? 

3) In a similar vein, some people read Korach as a lesson in what happens when you challenge da’as Torah.  R’ Asher Lopatin of YCT points to the Netziv’s interpretation that the 250 people who joined Korach were in fact great Torah leaders with the most sincere motives.  The lesson: “But our loyalty is to the Torah and to the Jewish people, and with love and with awe we must choose these values over the words of any individual, or group, no matter how great or religious they are.” 
Some people are bothered by the fact that the text lends itself to competing and opposite interpretations.  I think it would be boring if it were any other way.

4) Heard from a graduation speaker: it says “Zos chukas haTorah” and not “chukas hataharah” or “chukas haparah” because the entire Torah, not just this one parsha, is a chukah.  Speaker’s conclusion: “chukah” = from the root “ch-k-k, to engrave; years of education serve to engrave the Torah on the heart.  My conclusion: after years of education at some institutions the entire Torah remains as much an incomprehensible mystery as when you first started school.


  1. YU and Charedi Yeshivos - Not sure I see the connection. YU just made bad investments and decisions with all their money. The Yeshivos are dealing with having enough money to work with in the first place.

  2. Point #2 is so very sad. I can't find any constructive words to say more.

    Very much agree with your conclusion in point #3. I think the haftorah for Korach likewise lends itself to similar multiple readings. You can read it as anti-central-authority (except for Hashem Himself and His actual nevi'im). Wanting a human king/leader to make decisions for us, beyond what halacha requires or the prophecy of true nevi'im, is bad. Hashem is already our only King. Or you can argue that Shmuel is just an example of a "daas Torah" leader, and the people are blamed for not giving in and following his guidance unquestioningly.

    1. >>>I can't find any constructive words to say more

      Either can I... I'm tired of writing.

    2. Not a justification but a rationalization: see Tiferes Yisroel Berachot Perek 4 Mishna 2, in Boaz 2, the last third, which is in parenthesis.

    3. I looked it up -- yes, rationalization is the right word.

    4. I don't really agree with point 3: while the 250 ish makrivei haketores were indeed roshei sanhedraos, it is not the common folk that were punished for following them (thus establishing that appeal to authority is invalid), but they, themselves, who were censured for "following their conscience" (what we might call holech beshrirus libo) rather than accepting the authority of their, greater leader. The only punishment to the commoners was meted out when, following the destruction of their leaders, who were proven to be corrupt and mistaken, they still clung stubbornly to them, rather than accepting the mandate of the true nasi.