Women Entering the Workforce and the Calamitous Declining Fertility Rate Effect

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  • #1976998
    Avram in MD
    Participant

    Always_Ask_Questions,

    “I am not inclined to give any of these factions an opportunity for nonsensical debates.”

    On behalf of the Jewish people, I apologize. We’ll try to do better. With that off my chest, I do feel the need to mention that the true “halachic debates” are not taking place here in the CR, nor on the streets, nor even the shul kiddush.

    #1977006
    farrockgrandma
    Participant

    Is it really the case that fertility is declining? What I recall, from the mid-20th century, is that most families I knew had 2-3 children. Five or more seems to be more typical today.

    #1977005
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    Dear Ujm,

    It is getting hard for me to decipher your opinion. My statement was that mothers in the olden days were not always okay with having so many pregnancies. But once it was brought up, the gemara in yevomos 12 discusses contraceptives In a somewhat positive way. It is said that this was the only time the Rav would skip a gemara of his blatt shiur. And for this very reason.

    #1977054

    Avaram >> true “halachic debates” are not taking place here in the CR,

    2 kal vehomers – so this was the feeling decades before CR and in between poskim ….

    that said, ew discussed here before – poskim respond to our shailos, so street discussion determine what shows up in halakha and also what does not show up.

    #1977043
    Yserbius123
    Participant

    @ujm There’s a Gemara in Nashim (I think Kesuvos or Gittin) regarding an amah m’shuchreres (freed maidservant). The Gemara asks about how she can get married right after receiving her shtar shichrur (freedom) when if she would become pregnant immediately it would be unclear if the baby was her husbands or one of the men she was with when she was allowed to as an amah. The Gemara answers that if she knew she would be free, she would use contraception.

    That’s one place. I don’t recall anywhere where Chazal criticize goyim for choosing not to have a lot of children.

    #1977067

    Birth rate in US: 65 per 1000 women/year in 2001, decreased to 59 in 2018
    but look at maternal age:
    15-19: decreased from 45 to 18
    20-30: decreased from 110 to 83
    30-40: increased from 65 to 76
    40+ to increased from 9 to 13
    so, there seems to be 2 major effects:
    1) decrease in early birth, which is in part probably a healthy thing, considering the circumstances ..
    2) later births

    #1977289
    Avram in MD
    Participant

    Yserbius123,

    “You need to look at population growth rates. And I believe that the population growth rate is growing.”

    I believe you are mistaken. The global population is growing, but the rate of growth has been slowing since the 1960s peak, and is projected to continue tapering off through the rest of the century. Thus the population increase has more of a linear trajectory now than an exponential one.

    #1977291
    Avram in MD
    Participant

    Always_Ask_Questions,

    “2 kal vehomers – so this was the feeling decades before CR and in between poskim ….”

    To go from a quote from Rabbi Soloveitchik without context to “this was the feeling” is quite the leap. I don’t buy it. And it has no relevance to your declaration to be above the fray in a conversation that isn’t even one of halacha.

    “that said, ew discussed here before – poskim respond to our shailos, so street discussion determine what shows up in halakha and also what does not show up.”

    No, not really. What shows up in Leshem Shomayim halachic discussions are the people who care about doing the right thing by Hashem and who come across a situation where they don’t know what the right thing is – and so they ask a shaila. Yes changing cultural or political circumstances may cause new and different shailos to come up, but that just allows more light of the Torah to be revealed. And I don’t believe such has departed from this world, Heaven forbid.

    #1977375
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    Dear Avram,

    I doubt that the debates as you frame them, ever really exist. Either pointless information gets slowly filtered out, or the halacha is based on a distortion. There is never a purely theoretical discussion. And this thread is full of the silliness that AAQ mentioned.

    #1977401
    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    Well that’s a pretty drastic, unsupported, somewhat slanderous and not really fair thing to say.

    #1977420
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    How so? (This thread has been winding and unfocused. I admit I am a bit confused. But if I followed through, I stand behind my post.)

    #1977429

    Avram > people who care about doing the right thing by Hashem and who come across a situation where they don’t know what the right thing is – and so they ask a shaila.

    Of course, but people choose what to ask based on what they think is important. There is a lot of stuff declared in this group that seem to deserve a shaila – taking a lot of free food, taking welfare, not learning profession, not wearing masks, going to mass events. In many many cases, it is not clear whether the person asked a shaila, and sometimes I inquire what was the answer and almost never get a straight answer.

    Maybe sometimes, if you dont feel it dserves a question, you can still ask a shaila to convince someone else (say, me). As a friend of mine dragged his son (and me) to a posek in Mattesdorf with a loaded “question”: when his son is playing soccer and the father is going to mincha – should he continue playing or go with his father? it was supposed to be a great less in kibuf av – until the Rav suggested to the kid to break from the game for several minutes and daven mincha right there.

    #1977438
    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    AAQ – I will leave it to Avrum to formulate a real reply as he can do that so much better than I can. I am only chiming in because I was one of the people who did what you are speaking of.
    I have to say that there were several comments you made that I had pointed out as being disrespectful to torah or mesorah or hashkofa and in explaining it I would get the written equivalent of a blank face. You would either dissmiss it or ignore it completely and then proceed to try to make your point with more of the same type of comments.

    I usually try to explain something three times before accepting that the listener is not up for the information (for whatever reasons) and then I just drop it. That is why I have refrained from commenting on the more recent disrespectful (? perhaps flippant is a better word?) remarks where you seem to make odd correlations between actual Torah thoughts and something in your life that you would like to connect it to. I don’t know if you are aware of what you are doing, it seems to be a blind spot, so I refrain from responding at the risk of you thinking it was actually okay that you said it.

    I appreciate the effort you make to bring yourself closer to Torah and understanding Torah and I believe that in time you will see how it works to put yourself second to Hashem and His Teachings.

    #1977440

    Syag, I appreciate your sincerity, but I noticed that you always try to find the worst interpretation of my words for some reason. I am not being flippant – I just presume that people take the idea instead of trying to find what to blame me for. That is why I may look like a blank face – as you are answering to something I did not mean. Say, I am saying that kollel is not work (in the discussion about people paying for their own expenses) and you accuse me of not respecting that people in kollel do not work hard. what should I say – “my best friends are in kollel”? You can also accuse R Elazar and R Ishmael b’ Rav Nachman that teach a need for derech eretz before learning Torah.

    If you disagree – feel free to bring some arguments, sources, data. That is what discussions are for.

    #1977460
    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    AAQ – I absolutely do not try to find the worst interpretation of your words. As I said in the past, I believe you are missing the essence of what it means to negate your agenda for Hashem’s Agenda and in that lack of understanding, you use terms that are flippant. For example, my young daughter would never put an empty cup down on top of a chumash. But if she puts it down on my English version of “a lesson a day”, it displays an unintentional disrespect that comes from her not understanding that the book has kedusha. (please don’t get side tracked on the details of my example)

    If I decide that medical doctors are all powerful but medical doctors who work in research are just couch potatoes, sitting at desks and tables all day, that is a disrespect that comes from a lack of understanding of the importance of the research. But if I don’t know that, I will freely say it not knowing how wrong it is. (again, please don’t get caught on the example. I am not saying you called anyone couch potatoes, I am trying to make an illustration using familiar roles)

    So what happens next is this: now when I refer to researchers I don’t say researchers, I say bench warmers or couch potatoes. And then using this false premise, I quote you halacha that forbids being idle and ask you why it’s okay to be a researcher when they are just being idle. and you wonder how to even approach a question that is asked using a false premise. That is what happens with some of your questions that are going unanswered. You are asking a question that doesn’t exist, because the question involves things that aren’t really there.

    #1977526
    ujm
    Participant

    To those responding in denial that this issue hasn’t grievously affected the frum communities, simply look at the prewar size of our own families. Whether you shtam from Litvish stock in Lithuania or Russia or whether you shtam from Chasidic stock from Hungary or Poland or whether your yichus is from the rich Sefardish cultures in Syria and Morocco, in the lifetimes of our grandparents or great-grandparents having 10-12 children in a family was the norm.

    #1977582
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    Dear Ujm,

    Maybe some places. Like maybe one or two. Probably more like zero. First, it meant getting married around fifteen. Second it meant both spouses living another twenty years or so. Also, the marriage rate would be much lower. As one who was not ready to be a mother, was not considered marriageable.

    Even in the places where a higher marriage and birth rate was maintained, it does not back your point. Women then did not really have a choice. For a variety of social and physical factors.

    Overall, you are still ignoring that infertility as a personal condition, is way more common today.

    #1977619
    ujm
    Participant

    And let’s not forget part one of this tragedy. Namely, mother’s abandoning a large portion of motherhood for the sake of a “career” outside the home. Leaving the innocent children home with who-knows-which cleaning lady babysitting and, effectively, bringing up her children for a large portion of their childhood, with the mother MIA from the home for a large part of the week.

    #1977774
    Avram in MD
    Participant

    n0mesorah,

    If you really think that way, can you explain why you relate to Orthodox Judaism at all?

    “And this thread is full of the silliness that AAQ mentioned.”

    So what? Better to skip a silly thread than to insult all of the participants, declare yourself above the fray, and then wade into it anyway.

    #1977792
    Avram in MD
    Participant

    Always_Ask_Questions,

    “Of course, but people choose what to ask based on what they think is important.”

    And people learn what’s important in Yeshivos and through living a Jewish life.

    “There is a lot of stuff declared in this group that seem to deserve a shaila –”

    Like whether to skip kaddishes normally said during davening?

    “taking a lot of free food, taking welfare, not learning profession, not wearing masks, going to mass events. In many many cases, it is not clear whether the person asked a shaila, and sometimes I inquire what was the answer and almost never get a straight answer.”

    So here’s the thing – many of those types of shailos are very personal, and the psak very much depends on the circumstances of the one asking. To demand someone say what psak they received may be asking too personal a question. When I was newly frum, I once tried to ask a shaila in a very general, theoretical way, and the rav eventually asked me a bit sharply, “what are you wanting to do?” Because the generality was a waste of time and introduced too much uncertainty into the shaila.

    “you can still ask a shaila to convince someone else (say, me).”

    Nah, that seems silly to me.

    “As a friend of mine dragged his son (and me) to a posek in Mattesdorf with a loaded “question”: when his son is playing soccer and the father is going to mincha – should he continue playing or go with his father? it was supposed to be a great less in kibuf av – until the Rav suggested to the kid to break from the game for several minutes and daven mincha right there.”

    I think you have misjudged that situation and ascribe much more negativity to it than there was. Perhaps this is due to unfamiliarity with Orthodox Jewish life. Kibud av v’eim is an extremely important mitzvah, and issues of kibud av most certainly deserve a shaila. And it’s not for the father’s kavod, but for the child’s benefit that it is so important. But I don’t think that was even the thrust of your friend’s shaila. Davening is a crucial part of chinuch, and based on the Rav’s response, the issue was that the child was not davening mincha at all, not the kibud av aspect. For a child who has had the chinuch to daven to stop davening is actually a big deal, and I think the father acted very appropriately by bringing the son to a big Rav for guidance, and working out a compromise.

    #1977794

    >> simply look at the prewar size of our own families.

    how many survived into adulthood?
    in certain time windows and places: killed by Russians or Germans? intermarried?

    another issue: a right question on the mother MIA from home when she needs to work. But we also now have children MIA from home at schools. how is it beneficial for mother to be at home when (most of) the kids are off? that she can clean the house and cook dinner? kids should be able to do this themselves

    #1977804
    Ben Levi
    Participant

    Well in actuality Women in “Europe” of old did at times practice Birth Control.

    Rav Moshe Feinstein, the pre-eminent Posek & Godol HaDor of his time in America, actually began his “career” (for lack of a better term) as a Rav in Europe and he has a Halachic Responsa about it.

    If I recall correctly he confirms it occurred, he speaks strongly against the practice and urges a husband to divorce his wife if she engages in such practice.

    So Yes it occurred and Yes the Rabbonim held it was wrong, against the Torah and disapproved.

    But I am sure that while some posters will criticize those who take issue with Dr. Fauci due to his vast expertise, they will equally feel entitled to disagree with Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l on account of the “similarities” in their vast Torah knowledge of the subject.

    #1977814
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    Dear Avram,

    Please clarify. I will clear my end. The major halachic debates, center around a new dilemma or a new doubt. Neither one is possible to have real doubt unless there is some novel circumstances to debate over. Now what are the exact circumstances? They cannot be obvious to all, because then what would be in doubt? Since the scenario is wellknown, how would there not be a precedent?

    Once we are debating unknown circumstances, we must get to bottom of what is real and what is clouding our understanding of it. Either we successfully weed out all the pointless information, or the novelty remains confusing and the outcome is founded on a distortion. Now, what were you saying?

    One of the main reasons I blog is to be shown when my opinions completely miss the debate. It is a way to grow that is not available [to me, at least] in real life.

    #1977837
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    Dear Ben,

    Hi! It’s been a while. This discussion has a lot of pieces. Birth control has not been discussed much. But there is a lot more to Reb Moshe’s opinion than the little you wrote. Even what you posted does not say much about how women should or could approach high birth rates.

    What are the three separate: wrong, against the Torah, and disapproved? What you posted only shows one. Probably the third.

    And I have been wondering why the science of infertility is going ignored. Maybe you can help me on that one.

    #1977842

    R Feinstein was 19 when Great War started and lived under Russian civil war and Soviets, hardly a normal “Europe”. So, you need to look further at the background of the responsa. Maybe, for example, the wife became pro-communist and influenced by those ideas, rather than a mother of 10 who decided to take time off.

    #1978211
    Avram in MD
    Participant

    n0mesorah,

    When you say “halachic debate”, do you mean a discussion/debate of halacha on the CR or similar forums, or do you mean discussions with or among poskim, or responsa? Always_Ask_Questions appears to mean the latter, given his “kal v’chomer” response to me. And he wasn’t talking about uncertainties due to a lack of a complete understanding of the circumstances. His interpretation of the quote from Rabbi JB Soloveitchik suggests that he views the entire halachic process of arriving at a psak as tainted by politics, and thus unreliable. Since at least the 1950s. If that were so, how can we rely on things like the Igros Moshe or modern poskim?

    Stepping back I don’t even see how halacha comes into play here, because ujm/Joseph’s OP was not halachic in nature, just a general bemoaning of cultural decline and that he thinks women aren’t doing what he wants them to do.

    #1978254

    >> he views the entire halachic process of arriving at a psak as tainted by politics, and thus unreliable.
    I am saying that we should strive for the opposite.

    >> many of those types of shailos are very personal, and the psak very much depends on the circumstances of the one asking

    exactly. I am learning a sefer now on interpersonal behaviors and after multiple footnotes with sources, it often ends with – depends on who is saying, about whom, and to whom [for example, will the person interpret information to the worse, will he get offended, etc]. The fact that mitzvot bein adam l’havero depend on the person means it calls for psak and for more learning.

    I do not propose people revealing personal information here, but surely there is a lot can be learned from specific cases, carefully described. We will probably learn better if we focus that halakha, or just an advice, will be different for different people. Whether father should let his son to listen to Ben Shapiro will surely depend on the Av, on the Ben, and on the Ben Shapiro.

    An old example is of Rav Salanter visiting Konigsberg merchants. He refused to speak first. Later, he spoke and suggested that he understands that ship are arriving on Shabbos, but couuld they at least not write it down? Later – could they unload but at least not load new merchandise, etc. Why did he refuse to speak the first time around? Because there was an observant Litvishe yid in shul, and Rav did not want this guy to hear these ideas.

    #1978257

    Avram >> His interpretation of the quote from Rabbi JB Soloveitchik

    I failed to add a context: his was asked regarding what girls should learn at school. He asked back whether this is a practical question and the school will follow up. He was not willing to pasken if this is not leading to a practical resolution. This is similar to your own experience.

    #1978335
    n0mesorah
    Participant

    Dear Avram,

    I meant any halachic discussion to clarify a new doubt. Especially among the great poskim. Think of one of the classical debates. Or one of the recent halachah headlines. There is an undeniable element of controversy to them.

    I liked the quote from Rav Solovietchik. It means that halachah as both a process and a system leaves no room for strong political or fundamentalist thinking to play a role. Halachah has to rise above whatever we want the outcome to be. If this topic is not halachah per se, it still has a lot to impart on what we think of the halachah.

    #1978529

    n0 >> Halachah has to rise above whatever we want the outcome to be.

    I don’t understand Rav Solovietchik that he does not trust the process, or does not want to participate, or hopes to convince anyone. I read it that he is making a pragmatic decision not to become a target if the issue is not practical. If the question would be of actual value to some Jewish kids, he would not be afraid of talking a position. [important contrast to some educators that told me that they would not do a right thing for our kids because of concern for the school or “others would ask for the same thing”].

    #1980793
    Avram in MD
    Participant

    n0mesorah and Always_Ask_Questions,

    Rereading the thread after a week, I discovered that I misinterpreted the post that kicked off this side discussion (see: https://www.theyeshivaworld.com/coffeeroom/topic/women-entering-the-workforce-and-the-calamitous-declining-fertility-rate-effect#post-1976610). Since there were no quotation marks or other markers, I did not realize that AAQ’s second paragraph was entirely a quote from Rabbi Soloveitchik and not his own words. So I apologize to AAQ for saying he was simultaneously declaring himself to be above the debate while engaging in it anyway, which prompted my tongue-in-cheek apology from the entire Jewish people.

    That said, I do take issue with AAQ’s categorizing Rabbi Soloveitchik as directing that quote towards the halachic “process”. It was clearly directed at things like the CR. And I think I am still making a distinction that n0mesorah is not between the halachic “process” (e.g., what we see in the Igros Moshe and other poskim), and the debates about halacha that we see here on the CR and on the street or in other similar places. I wouldn’t even categorize this particular thread as a debate about halacha, much less a part of the halachic process, as if poskim are weighing various issues on a complicated shaila and coming here for guidance.

    #1980796
    Avram in MD
    Participant

    TL;DR, I accidentally created a tempest in a teapot, but I ended up getting more clarity on something AAQ attributed to Rabbi Soloveitchik which initially bothered me quite a bit.

    #1980976

    Avram, no problem, I am glad you are feeling better with the position when stated by R Soloveitchik than by an AAQ. To clarify – in that letter, he is refusing to make a halakhic decision as he is not told that something practical will come out of it, and he will get into a controversy with other halakhists, not CR. At least this is how I understood it. Look it up and see if you understand it differently. He eventually ruled on the issues when it became practical.

    #1981075
    CatholicVIsitor
    Participant

    Apologies for breaking in on the “frum” party, as I am not even Jewish. However I’m a devout Catholic in favor of large families and don’t believe in using birth control. These societal issues are fascinating to me and I think maybe an outside perspective would be useful here. Although I’m devout, I live in the mainstream and know many people who have totally different views.
    I would say that women working outside the home is not the major factor, especially since a lot of families can afford to have childcare and even nannies. And, it’s not those who can’t afford it who don’t have children. Birth control is probably the top factor, followed by later marriage and a different focus.
    First, birth control. Most people do indeed prefer small families or even no children at all. The idea that having a big family is doing a good deed or a mitzvah of some kind is totally foreign to most Americans. Catholic mothers with a lot of children get scoldings from strangers in the grocery store. Couples try to do the “right thing” have a maximum of two children to “replace them” without increasing the population. One of my cousins wrote an article for Ms. magazine about how the way to solve climate change is “family planning”. Quite a few couples get married planning in advance to have *no children*. Birth control is seen as a huge blessing that gives women more freedom to decide when and how many children they will have.
    Then, there are the societal changes that come from different expectations for women. We are now expected to be independent and be able to make a living. It’s very difficult to make a living without higher education, so most women go to college now. It is possible to go to college, equip oneself to make a living, and then focus on family. But going to college delays marriage because it’s not well looked on to get married before or during college, and there is societal pressure to use one’s education for work, not just as a backup, so women put off children longer and longer.
    Ultimately, most Americans see increasing the population or even sustaining it at the same level as a problem, and reduced fertility and birth control as the solution. I hope you find this helpful!

    #1981060
    ujm
    Participant

    Just to be clear, when women enter the workforce the calamitous declining fertility rate is only one of many social ills with negative effects on family life and on society in general. Let us certainly not forget the consequences to children who are born when their mothers are MIA from the home for large portions of the days.

    #1981100
    ujm
    Participant

    CatholicVIsitor: Quite an interesting perspective. May I ask how you’re seemingly well familiar with the Orthodox Jewish communities? Also, how do you personally practice the issue being discussed here?

    As far as the points you presented, I do think the the issues you highlighted as explaining why family sizes are continually dropping in mainstream society, namely contemporary society expecting women to go to college, make a living and be independent are essentially the same issue of women working outside the home. You’re just explaining the same thing in different words or examples and describing how women nowadays bring themselves towards that goal.

    What happened to simply being a good old fashioned housewife? Or to use modern terminology, a stay-at-home mom.

    #1981124
    Avram in MD
    Participant

    Always_Ask_Questions,

    “I am glad you are feeling better with the position when stated by R Soloveitchik than by an AAQ.”

    I don’t believe your “position” is quite the same as that stated by Rabbi Soloveitchik.

    “To clarify – in that letter, he is refusing to make a halakhic decision as he is not told that something practical will come out of it, and he will get into a controversy with other halakhists, not CR.”

    Who asked him the shaila? It seems to me that he was refusing to make a broad statement on a mostly hashkafic issue, but if there was a specific and real shaila with actual details he would have answered.And my guess is that he didn’t really fear getting into controversy with other poskim, but being dragged into a culture war waged mostly by laypeople (though certainly citing poskim). As the rav said to me years ago, “what are you trying to do?”

    #1981157
    Avram in MD
    Participant

    CatholicVisitor,

    I’ve fortunately never experienced outright hostility from others seeing my family’s size per se, but when out and about with my children I frequently get comments like “you have your hands full, har har har!”. I think culturally children once perceived as blessings are now perceived as burdens.

    #1981161
    CatholicVIsitor
    Participant

    ujm, I’ve only met one Orthodox Jewish woman, but I’m familiar with the early Jewish writings (the Torah?). I studied anthropology in college and learned some basics about Orthodox Judaism in one of my religion classes. I’ve also spent a fair amount of time in South Asia and the Middle East, traditional cultures that share a lot of values with Orthodox Judaism. I told someone once that if I were Jewish I would most likely be Orthodox, because I wouldn’t belong to a religion if I didn’t believe in the teachings and want to follow them. (And, I also watched Shtisel!)

    The thing is that fewer children and working outside the home coincide, but I would not necessarily say that one is to blame for the other. It might seem that way; but if you consider that women can just as easily stay at home and still decide to have no children, it becomes clearer that the root of the change is more about self-determination and individualism. In my opinion people don’t want to be “open to life”, as we say in Catholic circles, because they want to control their lifestyle, how their money is spent, and their time. Many women do have children and still work outside of the home, partly because costs have risen so much. I don’t have an issue with women getting higher education and working, but I think family and community need to be prioritized more. Women should be able to care for children or parents and not feel like they are “wasting their talents”.
    This came up in a conversation I had about abortion. I said that abortion was selfish, taking the life of another person because it’s not convenient for us that they are alive. I got many enlightening responses, such as “I’m not going to sacrifice my lifestyle for a child,” or “Fetuses are parasites. They ruin women’s health. It’s not a child until it’s born.” — and that one was from a mother with two kids. You are right, Avram, many people now see their own offspring as a curse instead of a blessing. 😢
    I haven’t needed to make decisions about family size because I’m single; at this point it’s not very likely that I’ll have children of my own. I would like to provide foster care in the future if possible. I live a chaste life and would never use birth control to prevent having children. Catholic teaching permits Natural Family Planning if necessary (no artificial contraception).

    #1981173

    Avram, missed an old post about a kid not davening mincha

    >> I think you have misjudged that situation and ascribe much more negativity to it than there was.

    there was no negativity. My friend & teacher was definitely right to drag us an hour away to ask this shailah. He just did not expect that the lesson will be directed to him. I was there and we talked about it, not something that I observed on the street, so I am pretty much sure of what happened,

    #1981176

    > Who asked him the shaila?
    here it is in full, judge for yourself whether it is about halakha or not

    January 12th, 1953

    Dear Rabbi Rosenfeld, I acknowledge receipt of your letter. In my answer to your precious inquiry concerning the permissibility of instruction of girls in Talmud I stressed that unless I am assured in advance by the school administration that my recommendations will be followed I would not take the trouble to investigate the matter. Since such an official assurance has been withheld(your letter did not contain any such commitment) I must decline to consider the problem. The reason for my reluctance to engage in this controversial issue is the unique stand taken by many of our Jews on matters of Law and tradition. We have reached a stage at which party lines and political ideologies influence our halakhic thinking to the extent that people cannot rise above partisan issues to the level of Halakhah-objectivity. Some are in a perennial quest for “liberalization” of the Law and its subordination to the majority opinion of a political legislative body, while others would like to see the Halakhah fossilized and completely shout out of life. I am not inclined to give any of these factions an opportunity for nonsensical debates.

    Sincerely yours,
    Joseph Soloveitchik

    #1981406
    Avram in MD
    Participant

    Always_Ask_Questions,

    Thanks for posting the full letter. Note he writes “many of our Jews”, not poskim, halachic authorities, etc. I do not think he is talking about legitimate poskim and authorities as you contend. But this was the 1950s, and in that time shuls were being ripped apart by factions within the congregations trying to do away with the mechitza, etc. So the stakes were higher than on the CR. Again the fact that laypeople or even conservative and reform Jews can debate about halacha does not mean that the process used by poskim is tainted.

    #1981407
    Avram in MD
    Participant

    Always_Ask_Questions,

    “there was no negativity. My friend & teacher was definitely right to drag us an hour away to ask this shailah.”

    No negativity. Next sentence “drag us an hour away”? Um… yeah.

    “He just did not expect that the lesson will be directed to him. I was there and we talked about it, not something that I observed on the street, so I am pretty much sure of what happened,”

    I have a hard time believing that a Rosh Yeshiva would “give a lesson” to a father and teacher in front of his son and a talmid. Every rav I’ve interacted with is very careful regarding the father’s honor in front of the children. Maybe your friend made this interpretation independently and confided it to you, but from the answer the RY gave, the issue that he was answering seemed to be the kid davening on the field vs not davening at all. In other words, the RY interpreted the root of the shaila as the father wanting the kid to daven mincha, and thus suggested davening on the field as the kid in his present state would likely balk at leaving his friends to go to shul. That does not mean that a quick Shabbos mincha on the side of a soccer field is an ideal.

    #1981409
    Avram in MD
    Participant

    CatholicVisitor,

    “I’m familiar with the early Jewish writings (the Torah?)”

    The Torah isn’t Jewish writings, it’s G-d writing and knowledge that were given to the Jews to do and learn.

    One thing to add to your conversation with ujm – the conversation to this point has focused on the role of women, but don’t overlook the role of men in the cultural component of decreasing fertility rates. My own experience is a limited sample of course, but I’ve generally observed that it is more common for a wife to want more children and the husband to not than vice versa. And I think that among the secular, men have a harder time with commitment than women.

    #1981935
    CatholicVIsitor
    Participant

    I understand your concern, Avram, and I know that the Torah is inspired. Most people say “Christian writings”, “Buddhist writings” and so on to refer to the foundational writings of a religion.

    Yes, it is both men and women. The outlook I described applies to both genders, and sometimes it is men who pressure women to have an abortion or not to have more children. Another point I’d like to add is that there are many women who would prefer not to work, and to stay home with their kids, but because of financial pressures don’t feel like that is an option. (My cousin who wrote the article for Ms. magazine is one of them. They recently renovated and expanded their house and her income is needed to fund that. However she was able to get a new job where she can work from home and not travel overseas.) Part of that is the changed economic situation, where it is hard now to make a living from one income, but also expectations are higher in general and people feel deprived if they can’t have a roomy house or take nice and regular vacations. Not to mention all the gadgets one has to buy to keep up with the modern lifestyle.

    I’ve gotten the impression that in Orthodox communities, people are more willing to sacrifice travel, living space, and so on to raise a large family. Is that right?

    #1982047

    Avram > I have a hard time believing that a Rosh Yeshiva would “give a lesson” to a father and teacher in front of his son and a talmid

    I was there in the room. Rav Gans did not lecture the father, he addressed the child directly in a very friendly manner and lead him to make a commitment to interrupt soccer and daven for a couple of minutes. The question was not about “ideal”, the question was what was appropriate for that kid at that time. The father was a very intense person capable of learning hard lessons and went thru enough of them in his life already, so I presume the Rav knew that the father will get the message and he indeed did. He and I discussed it without the kid.

    #1982052

    Re: Rav Soloveichik.
    >> is the unique stand taken by many of our Jews on matters of Law and tradition. We have reached a stage at which party lines and political ideologies influence our halakhic thinking

    I see how you read “our Jews”. At the same time, next sentence mentions “halakhic thinking”. It can be read in a different ways. I also agree that 50s might have been a hotter time than now, but it did last quite some time. So that you get a taste of the tension, here is a quote from a notorious letter in 1984:
    With this we are publicly protesting against those who call themselves ‘‘great sages’’ and ‘‘heads of yeshivas’’ in the United States, who give obsequious praise to the known ‘‘uprooter of Israel,’’ the tyrant from Boston, product of the cursed Berlin Haskalah, and poisoner of the hearts of the Children of Israel through his venomous and ugly opinions, as is well known. That the aforementioned (sages) issued their letters of mischief on the occasion of the eightieth birthday of the Boston Sadducee borne on the pages of the ‘‘sledgehammer’’ that carries the title ‘‘honorable Rabbi.’’

    This was directed to Rav Feinstein, Rav Gifter, Rav Ruderman writing things like this:
    I come with this to send my blessing to the editors of this festschrift that the students of the great genius, our master Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik shlit”a arranged in his honor, as he reaches the age of strength [eighty]. And also to offer my prayer that God lengthen the days and years of my dear, great friend, in old age, full of sap and richness [Ps. 92:15], and that he continue to spread Torah in public and to engage in public matters, in honor of God and His Torah, and as an honor to our families. With friendship and appreciation, Moshe Feinstein

    #1982055

    PS another “proof” that R Soloveichik was bothered by attitudes of halahkists and not just baalei batim is a story that I heard (from a partisan source, so please correct me if this is out of context, I was not able to find it in writing). He was asked – given that he spend so much time pursuing academic studies, how was he able to catch up with other Talmidei Chachamim in learning (*)? His response (tongue-in-cheek in I presume) – when others were learning Torah, I was also learning Torah, and when others were saying lashon hara about me, I was learning secular studies. So, we were learning Torah same amount of time.

    (*) this seems to be R Feinstein’s most concerning issue – that secular study will take time from Torah learning and thus will not be able to develop into Talmidei Chachamim. R Feinstein was asked whether it was ok to cheat on a secular test and not waste time from learning (Igrot Moshe, Choshen Mishpat, Siman 30). He categorically disallows cheating but, I think, says that you don’t have to go take those secular tests. Not sure whether this is directed only to those who plan to cheat or otherwise. If someone has a source handy, could you please clarify?

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