October 19, 2011 8:24 pm at 8:24 pm #819010
Shvartza: R’ Elchonon zt”l did not. I’m not sure if R’ Aharon zt”l did or not.October 19, 2011 8:35 pm at 8:35 pm #819011
Wasnt Rav Nassim Alpert a maggid Shiur at YU?October 19, 2011 9:04 pm at 9:04 pm #819012
Charn: So then we both agree that R Wasserman says one can go to college.October 19, 2011 9:08 pm at 9:08 pm #819013
The fact that the President of a “Yeshiva” can get up and refer to Bnei Torah as “cavemen” because they do not go to college, and the fact that anti-Torah activities do take place there means that the institute as a whole must be opposed. Because it is a business – as opposed to other Yeshivas who have a business element which does not set policy for the Yeshiva but merely the administrative offices – you can have people like Lamm, or Rackman, or even worse spouting all kinds of drivel in the name of Torah. And you can have an Avi Weiss and others like him teaching under its auspices.
First, please understand that the battle against YU by the Yeshiva world is not, nor was it, a simple issue of Halachic or Hashkafic disagreement which can be dismissed as routine if accompanied with the obligatory respect for the opposing view, as per ailu v’alu etc. Not so. Rather, YU was viewed as a deviant, dangerous, and anti-Torah entity that doesnt deserve the respect of a legitimate Torah position, even a mistaken one. Rav Aharon Kotler ZTL, and Rav Schneur ZTL after him, would under no circumstances even walk into YU. Rav Elchonon Wasserman ZTL also, when he came to America in the ’30s, was invited to speak in YU, and he refused to even walk in to the place.
Rav Soloveichik, although a very great Gaon in Torah, lost the status in the Torah world that a Gaon of such caliber would normally merit, due to his Hashkofos that were deemed anti-Torah. Rav Aharon Kotler ZTL once commented about Rav Soloveitchik, “He is respnsible for the majority of Tumah in America.” Also from the same Rav Aharon, “He destroyed an entire generation of Jews.” He was often referred to, even by Rabbonim and Roshei Yeshiva, with the derogatory “J.B.”. Rav Soloveichik’s funeral was almost totally ignored by the Yeshiva world, as was the Azkara. He was treated as tragic “could have been”, who unfortunately wasn’t.
Of course, this is all very offensive to the students of YU, and I undertsand that. But if we’re going to understand what the issues are, then, we need to be honest and put the positions on the table, whether we like them or not. And here are the issues: The difference between the inadequacies at YU versus the inadequacies in Yeshivos is that YU made their inadequacies into philosophical positions thereby not merely doing wrong, but changing the definition of wrong. To do wrong is a violation of the Torah, and yes, many types of Jews do that. But to make wrong into right is to change the Torah, either explicitly or implicitly. YU has done. That amounts to a new, deviant movement within Judaism, and that is thep roblem with YU. The good, the bad, the gray areas – are all considerred part and parcel of the official YU position.
Please understand, YU is a business, not a Yeshiva, and it is run by the Board of Directors, not the Roshei Yeshiva (except to the extent that leaders – the board – can be pressured by its constituency – the Roshei Yeshiva and students). Thats fine, except when business decisions are understood to be philosophical positions you you have big problems. And although many Boards of many institutions wield influence, please note that YU has and never had any Rosh Yeshiva who was the official leader and policy maker for the institution. The Board has always been the official “Rosh”. Even Rav Soloveichik was merely an employee, and, although he was called Rosh Yeshiva (and even went raising money like a Rosh Yeshiva), his power was still that of an employee, much less than a real Rosh Yeshiva should have.
Nowhere else will you find the “President” of a Bais HaMedrash constantly representing (and creating) the Torah positions of the institution without reviewing every single word of his speeches with the official Rosh Yeshiva. In YU, Dr. Lamm, though he was merely President, and not Rosh Yeshiva, had full right to get up and speak to the world about the official policies and positions of YU, even though the Roshei Yeshiva may not have agreed with him. Nowhere does a lay leadser become a setter of policy for a Yeshiva. Add to that the wrongheaded Hashkofos being taught even by some of the Roshei Yeshiva there, and you have a formula for disaster.
Example: Originally, RIETS did not even allow English studies. The Rabbonim in charge would not allow it. They were instituted when a group of students went on strike demanding the school toss its standards of right and wrong and teach secular studies. The rabbis were against, the Board was for. And so were secular studies introduced into RIETS.
Now, as Dr. Lamm pointed out in his farewell speech, MO (and YU) consider secualr studies in and unto themselves, intrinsically valuable, not merely as a utilitarian tool for Parnasa or Kiruv etc. But the fact that all knowledge “comes from G-d” gives all knowledge “value” that demands we spend time pursuing it, instead of spending that time on Torah and Mitzvos. This goes beyond the idea that secular studies can – and should – be used as a tool to attain and support Torah and Mitzvos. ANd it underscores the difference between the secular studies taught in the Yeshiva high schools versus that of YU. YU has made a value out of secular studies in itself. “Torah umadah” is a totally non-Jewish concept, assimilated into the official philosophy of YU, at least as espoused by their President. To teach secular studies as a concession or an unfortunatel necessity, which in the Yeshivos it clearly is, is not changing the values of the Torah. But to espouse that taking peopel out of the Bais HaMedrash for second Seder and to earn a degree in Law is a step up, is an unacceptable attack on Hashem and His Torah (and no, it is not nearly the same as Rav SR Hirsch, which has been discussed nin several places on these boards).
The Netziv of Volozhen closed his entire Yehsiva rather than institute secular studies, and the reason he gave is, there needs to be a “Havdolah” – seperation – between Kodesh and Chol. We sometimes need Chol, but we dare not blur the edge between it and Kodesh. YU has not only blured the edge between them, but has actually claimed that Chol is in the catagory of Kodesh. That is its biggest problem. Nothing has intrinsic value except Torah. Everything else is Hevel Hevolim. But this is only part of the assimilation into non-Jewish culture and values that YU represents.
The unacceptable socializing that goes on between the YU boys and Stern girls, the partying, the inter-collegiate and spectator sports, the bales of Apikorsus to be found in their library, ideas espoused even in the Limudei Kodesh courses that are against the Torah, never mind secular courses where clear anti-Torah ideas and ideals are taught by teachers who have all but carte blanche to say whatever they want, the teaching of Gemorah to girls, and worse yet, the excuse given for it, that “If we teach them medicine and law, they can learn Gemora too”, the Zionism, the allowance of gay clubs (money is no excuse; if they were Neo-Nazi clubs, they would not be tolerated – the issue is the lack of understanding that gay clubs are just as repulsive to G-d).
YU’s goal is to create a “synthesis” between secular learning and torah learning. That synthesis would be bad enough in and of itself – there must be a seperation, not a synthesis between the two – but what has happened is not merely a synthesis between the Torah and secular studies, but a synthesis between a Torah and a secular lifestyle, between Torah values and secular ones. And its often hard to tell which is which.
The Board of Directors didnt even want Rav Soloveichik to be the Rosh Yeshiva. When Rav Lazer Silver wrote a letter importuning them to accept him as rosh, they responded with a scathing answer refusing to do so. Only when the students themselves got invovled and protested on his behalf did the Board reluctantly give in. Harris L. Selig, an administrator and fund raiser for YU, wrote (“Standardizing the Hebrew Schools of America”): “Practically every great college and university was founded originally as a religious seminary. Harvard as a Congregationalist, and Brown as a Baptist seminary. Our Yeshiva College, too, sprongs from what was originally a Rabbinical seminary, and is it too much to expect that in time, it too, like other great American institutions, will be one of the foremost colleges in this country….” That YU should become another totalyl secular college, like Yale or Harvard, that was his vision of success for YU.
Rav Soloveichik’s position in all of this is less clear. What is clear is that he definitely bleieved that secualr studies are not only OK, but an advantage for a Ben Torah. Rabbi Moshe Zvi Brodsky, son-in-law of Rav Nochum Pertrovich ZTL of Mir, once approached Rav Soloveichik with comments on a Yohrtzeit Shiur he just attended. Rav Soloveichik liked the comments. He asked Rabbi Brodsky, “Did you go to college”? “No,” Brodsky said. “Tsk. That’s a pity,” answered Rav Soloveichik. He espoused Zionism, stating that even if Jews have to die in order to have a Jewish (religious) State, their deaths are “worthwhile”. He declared that the reason the gedolim do not agree with him about secular studies is because they “lack the courage” to admit their mistake, even though they know they are wrong (!). For anyone familiar with the courageousness of peopel like Rav Aharon Kotler ZTL and his peers, such statements merely cause the listener to raise an eyebrow, shrug his shoulders and wonder.
There are people in YU – and Stern – that have no idea what among their education and environment is Jewish, what is secular, what is Torah, what is not. And the asnwer will depend on who you ask. There is a girl on these boards, a Russian immigrant, who wrote how after she graduated from a BY school in Brooklyn she decided to go to colelge at Stern because “at least its Jewish”. What she found, she says, is the same non-Jewishness as the secualr colleges, but under the guise of a “Jewish place”. It is so confusing to her, she says, because now she has no idea what in Stern in “Jewish” and what is “secular”. That is exactly the type of misrepresentation that YU and Stern cause, which is due to the Taaruvos – synthesis – of Kodesh and Chol, where there is supposed to be a Havdalah bain Kodesh L’chol. Of course it is possible for a person to be in YU and be a Ben Torah. And of course it is possible for a Rebbi in YU to have proper Hashkofos (its only a job), but the risk is great. And what YU stands for, and what it has come to represent to the masses, is something that our Gedolim wanted to make sure nobody accepts as legitimate.October 19, 2011 9:31 pm at 9:31 pm #819014
Charn: With all due respect, you seem to be over-generalizning, over-exaggerating, and ignoring legitimate approaches in Judaism, simply dismissing them as “wrong”. This is what the Netziv said destroyed the second bais hamikdash (HaEmek Davar: Psicha Lsefer Bereeishis/Sefer HaYashar).October 19, 2011 9:34 pm at 9:34 pm #819015
Charn: Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm is a Gaon and a tremendous Talmid Chacham and is respected as such by many other tremendous Talmidei Chachamim. Your blatant disrespect is uncalled for.
Yes, there are problems in YU. I don’t think even the staunchest defender would claim that the place is perfect Mitzad Torah. The University is mostly separate and lets the students choose their own Derech. There is no requirement to be a Yeshivah Bochur in YU. Still, many come and treat it as a Yeshivah with the afternoon courses just to get you a degree. You can go through YU learning 12 hours a day or learning 2. It is a place where someone can make of it what they will. You may disagree with a place like that for yourself, but it does a lot of good for a lot of people.
I’ll quote a paragraph here which is quite inflammatory, and in which you make several unfair judgment calls.
“The unacceptable socializing that goes on between the YU boys and Stern girls, the partying, the inter-collegiate and spectator sports, the bales of Apikorsus to be found in their library, ideas espoused even in the Limudei Kodesh courses that are against the Torah, never mind secular courses where clear anti-Torah ideas and ideals are taught by teachers who have all but carte blanche to say whatever they want, the teaching of Gemorah to girls, and worse yet, the excuse given for it, that “If we teach them medicine and law, they can learn Gemora too”, the Zionism, the allowance of gay clubs (money is no excuse; if they were Neo-Nazi clubs, they would not be tolerated – the issue is the lack of understanding that gay clubs are just as repulsive to G-d).”
I’ll go through point-by-point. The college is not restrictive. If someone wants to go through without ever associating with Stern girls or attending a party it is very easy. Honestly, I don’t think most of the frum (even those that are much more to the left) ever really attend a party.
What is so wrong with spectator or competitive sports? It might not be for you, but what is inherently Assur about it that it Passuls an institution?
It’s true; the library is not under the auspices of the Yeshivah. And all of the Roshei Yeshivah are tremendous Talmidei Chachamim. Some of them might have (I’ll use the word interesting) Hashkafos but they all have solid basis in Rishonim and their Mesorah. No Rosh Yeshivah has ever had to call out another for saying something that is blatantly Kefira’dik.
Not everyone thinks Zionism is bad. You’re making another judgment call for the masses. It might not be for you but it has support of tremendous Talmidei Chachamim.
Teaching Gemara to girls is also a Halachic issue. There are Matirim. You may not hold by them but by Paskening for the whole world you are making another personal judgment call.
There was not, and has never been, a gay club at YU. That is blatant Motzi Shem Ra.October 19, 2011 9:39 pm at 9:39 pm #819016
Dr. Norman Lamm is a Gaon and a tremendous Talmid Chacham
Ok, let’s not get carried away here.October 19, 2011 9:44 pm at 9:44 pm #819017
PBA: When Rav Schachter respects your Torah knowledge we’ll let you make fun of Rabbi Dr. Lamm. How about that?October 19, 2011 9:51 pm at 9:51 pm #819018
PBA: When Rav Schachter respects your Torah knowledge we’ll let you make fun of Rabbi Dr. Lamm. How about that?
Firstly, respecting his torah knowledge is not synonymous with being a gaon.
Secondly, I have semicha from someone who is a greater talmid chochom than Rav Schachter, and that person respects my torah knowledge, and called me a “Rav Hagadol B’torah U’vyirah”.
Thirdly, Rav Schachter is an employee of Dr. Lamm’s.October 20, 2011 6:29 pm at 6:29 pm #819019
Rav Elya Svei zatzal quoted in refernece to Lamm the Pasuk ????? ?’ ????, ????? ???? ??????October 22, 2011 5:17 pm at 5:17 pm #819020
sam2- i used to think you were one of those on here who had there head on straight, was reasonable, and was committed to truth. i see i was wrong. i still dont see whay you and others feel the need to defend an institution so skewed in its view and approache to judaism that the gedolim of the previous generation stood up and publicly decried everything it stood for.October 23, 2011 12:46 am at 12:46 am #819023
PBA: Well I have smicha from someone who is a greater talmid chochom than the person who gave you smicha who is a greater talmid chochom than Rav Schachter, and that person also respects my Torah knowledge and also called me a “Rav Hagadol B’Torah U’vyirah”
And since I think that Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm is a Talmid Chacham, and the person who gave me smicha is a bigger tamid chochom than the person who gave you smicha who is a greater talmid chochom than Rav Schachter, that means Dr. Norman Lamm *is* a Talmid Chacham (unless of course, someone else comes along, who was given smicha from a greater talmid chochom that the the person who gave me smicha who is a greater talmid chochom than the person who gave you smicha who is a greater talmid chacham than Rav Schachter, and that person also respects his Torah knowledge and also called him a “Rav Hagadol B’Torah U’vyirah” and he thinks Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm isn’t a talmid chacham.)October 23, 2011 1:02 am at 1:02 am #819025
There is a famous picture of Rav Aharon Kotler ZTL and the Rav sitting together. I doubt Rav Aharon Kotler would let himself be seated next to someone he felt was an apikores. That is not to say that Rav Aharon Kotler ZT”L held of YU. On the contrary. Making of a Gadol mentions how he was upset as his cousin, Rav Ruderman ZT”L, for allowing college in Ner Yisroel.
I was told that the Rav was supposed to speak at the levaya or sheloshim for Rav Aharon ZT”L but was prevented from doing so. Clearly the Rav held of Rav Aharon ZT”L in high esteem, even if he felt that America wouldn’t tolerate the traditional Orthodoxy of his grandfather Rav Chaim Brisker ZT”L.
Charn is correct in his characterization of YU in its early days. Making of a Gadol mentions how Rav Shimon Shop ZT”L finished his shiur 5 minutes early and let his student out, for which he was subjected to a berating by the YU administration.October 23, 2011 1:02 am at 1:02 am #819026
Charn: Cardozo and Einstein have nothing whatsoever to do with RIETS or the average Yeshivah College student. When people say “YU” they mean YC/Stern and RIETS and maybe (maybe) Revel (graduate school of Jewish Studies).October 23, 2011 1:06 am at 1:06 am #819027
charn: Your quote from Rav Aharon zt”l was very general, and did not mention any specific “modernizations” or “insignificant changes.” Therefore, while you assume he is referring to the aspects of YU which <B>you<B> find objectionable, he may very well have been talking about things which are assur, but have been approved of by some Modern “Orthodox” rabbis, such as mixed dancing, mixed swimming, dress-related violations of tzenius, and various other things which people associate with Modern Orthodoxy.October 23, 2011 1:13 am at 1:13 am #819028
PBA: That’s completely true. Just because a talmid chacham said something nice about him doesn’t mean he is a gaon and talmid chacham. He is a goan and talmid chacham in his own right.
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