The Matzav Shmoooze: “What’s Wrong With the Orthodox Community”?! Not Quite

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bochurim-learningDear Editor,

Yesterday, someone sent me an email link with an audio file from the Zev Brenner show. The segment was titled, “What’s Wrong With The Orthodox Jewish Community And How To Fix It.” It was a discussion with Dr. Gidon Rothstein about that topic.

You know what I did? I deleted the file and the email. Why? Because I’ve had enough of people running to radio shows and magazines and blogs to tell us what’s wrong with the Orthodox community.

When was the last time the radio show that hosted Dr. Rothstein did consecutive weekly segments on what’s right with the Orthodox Community and all that is wonderful about our frum kehillos? I know the answer: Never.

It’s all about the controversy and finding all the bad that can be dug up about frum Yidden. And I will not be a party to that by listening to the drivel that passes for radio these days.

If you can’t find anything positive to say about our community, don’t say it. I am sure I am not the only one who has had enough of the frum-community-bashing that has become so commonplace recently with the help of Jewish radio, magazines and blogs.

A Proud Yid


The Matzav Shmoooze is a regular feature on that allows all readers to share a thought or analysis, long or short, one sentence or several paragraphs long, on any topic, for readers to mull over and comment on. Email submissions to [email protected].

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  1. Kol Yisroel areivim zeh lzeh.
    We are a special nation. thank you for reminding us all of that. The overwhelming majority of us are remarkable people. Let’s not all be painted and tainted by someone else’s brush.

  2. Emes Emes Emes
    I heard this very point of this letter from one of the gedolei hador last week. You wrote exactly what he told me personally.

    Keep your head held high.

  3. We’re all trying to improve; FFB’s are also Baalei Teshuvah in this sense. So we should be able to handle and react properly to a piece of criticism when we find that it’s constructive. “Perfect already and too proud for teshuvah” should definitely not be our slogan. This applies as much to communities as it does to individuals.

  4. May I add in my opinion?
    the show and others like it in itself is a problem. Last year they had a guest married to a goya and was praising his’successful’ marrige and was intending to have him for further interviews.

  5. Clearly the author “Missed the Point” – Rabbi Rothstein’s new book focuses on building a G-d centric and halachic Jewish life for those of us who are not gedolim (almost all of us)…

    You missed a great opportunity and might consider reading the book before commenting…

  6. Dear “Proud Yid”,

    Chazal teach us “Mikol Melamdye Hiskalti” which if you took the time to hear at least what the interviewed person had to say you might not have been so quick to dismiss the entire matter.

    I did listen and found many points valid. Rabbi Rothstein did NOT bash the Orthodox movement. Instead he offered constructive ways to be better yiden the way Hashem wants us to be.

    Shooting the messenger is a quick way of hiding ones head in the sand like an ostrich. Pretending that certain issues in our frum community don’t exist won’t make you a better or, for that matter, a “proud yid”.

  7. So, in your disgust over public discussion regarding what’s wrong with the Orthodox community, you go to a public news site and discuss another thing that’s wrong with the Orthodox community?

    The Wolf

  8. With all the wrong and issues that we have, how can we not remember all the good and chesed we do for everyone, wether is elping someone raise funds for a struggling family or a a community coming together helping a family thru pain, making meals for new mothers, chaverim, hatzola…

    The list can go on & on of all the good that is happening amongst the orthodox community. Its a shame that some are just solely focused on the wrong and try to magnify it to the 10th degree,

  9. And those who claim that it’s for the sake of “improvement”, you are full garbage. Do you know anyone who has ever improved through continuous denigration rather than through positive reinforcement? Of course not!

    The reality is though, it’s a veiled attack on living a Torah lifestyle. What it’s really about is clearing their conscience in order to be able to (continue) to deviate from the Torah. Nebach

  10. The world of media is a business. How many people would tune in to hear “Exclusvie to the Zev Brenner Show, the chessed we do” tue in today. hed close down his show. controversy = gelt

  11. I am so with you on this. Remember that it is very much about getting ratings and selling magazines. I for one am sick of the weekly magazines that are out there in the frum community. Every week more and more about everything that they can write negative about the frum community. And all in the name of “not pushing things under the rug”. Enough is enough. Let’s remember that these radio shows and magazines are not being run by rabbanim despite what they want you to believe. It is sick sick sick.

  12. You are 100% right!! Frum bashing is not only loshon horah but puts us in a bad light. We all have the job of perfecting ourselves, I believe, so let’s simply do that. I don’t thing we have to get into the details and the who did what. Each of us frum people as well as the rest of the world need to keep a personal diary or whatever works for them and work to improve themselves. That is what we are here for!! Each person has their area they know they need to work on this isn’t about the frum community does this or that. Good Luck!! and by the way I love the frum community their always there for each other!! Look for the positive in your fellow jews there’s an endless amount of good in them!!

  13. While I agree somewhat with the sentiment of the author (which brings to mind R’ Avrohom Birnbaum recent beautiful piece in the Yated re: Rav Dovid Trenk), the fact is that there are too many people in the community who are suffering because of the system. Whether it’s the older single girls struggling to find shidduchim, the families that can’t keep up with the increasing cost of living (and no, not the ones with the fancy cars and the fancy hotel for Pesach), the families whose sons are at-risk and no longer shomrei torah u’mitzvos, the children quietly suffering from abuse, or the parents crying every night because no yeshiva or bais yaakov will take their child.

    And while we should certainly give credit where credit is due to the many people who are moser nefesh on a daily basis to help make our community as great as it is, it doesn’t do anyone any good to sing “kumbaya,” pat ourselves on the back and ignore all of the pain and suffering that so many are dealing with, rather than think about ways to help fix things up.

  14. I’m with you! Although HaShem may be a little frustrated with us, by and large He is proud,as He ought be. He knows the nisyonos He cast upon us and He knows all too well how well we’re doing. Thank you Proud Yid for saying if already. Your stated opinion is long overdue.

  15. again – that many commenting here seem to have not read Rabbi Rothstein’s book is troubling – your comments are without knowledge —

    “Don’t judge a book by its cover”

  16. Very Shvach
    We have enough outlets that ONLY portray the good of our community. The favorite refarin is ‘Mi Kamcha Yisroel’ followed by some heart warming story anecdote or observation.

    We should be secure and mature enough to also listen to our shortcoming and come to rational decisions about what is true, what is exaggerated and what is totally false. To bury our heads in the ground by ‘deleting’ any and all criticism will not make any problems go away. The next time you get such an email do the responsible thing: make a list of each and every tayna and next to it mark what is and what is not true about it and what can be done to improve.

  17. In response to #20 – it is also not clear that this should be the case…we are not all gedolim and as Rabbi Rothstein argues – do not have the unlimited spiritual energy of some of our gedolim –

    Hence there is a need to identify “constructive ways to be better yiden the way Hashem wants us to be” (thanks #9)

  18. I for one wish that we had the ability to fix the school and shiduchim system. And yes self criticism is a positive thing, not a negative thing. There’s no way we could justify the children laging behind in the system which is past being corrupt. Who wants to bury our head in the sand over this? Where’s the kol yisroel areivim zeh luzeh here? We are only engaging in introspection, to make us even better.
    ?? ???? ?????, ??? ??? ????

  19. You know what? – Everyone is right.

    If you don’t focus on what still needs to be fixed, and just talk about all the good, we’ll never get any better.

    However, that title is very negative, more negative than the Am Hashem deserves. It implies that something is very wrong with the community as a whole. How about: “What can the Orthodox community do to Better Itself”…

  20. Thank you, Orthodox Observer, for having read my book and thought about it. For the rest, I have submitted a letter to the Editor that has my reactions; let’s see if he posts it in full. Fundamentally, it agrees that “mikol melamedi hiskalti” should mean that we don’t judge something without learning something more about it than that it might suggest we need to change.

  21. To all the people who agree with the Proud Yid, I can only laugh at your closed mindedness. What are you proud of that you stick your head in the ground like an ostrich. So from your narrow perspective everything is great. Rav Giddon Rothstein is a brilliant Talmid Chacham who also can think out of the box. His book does not bash anyone. Maybe, had you listened to his interview and even bought and read his book, you may actually have learned something valuable.

  22. to the author: one can read about all the ‘good’ things (even made up things) in all the heimishe newspapers – because they refuse to print negative stories. Enter blogs and radio to discuss those issues the establishment does not want you to hear…

    No one is perfect, and most Blogs and radio do a most valuable service to the frum community most of the time. In order to get better we need to know whats wrong.

    Please DONT shoot the messenger

  23. I disagree with you regarding this specific case, which aimed to improve the tzibbur.

    In general however, the radio show has gone down. they run a disgusting ad in newspapers touting the program as “more informative than a trip to the mikvah”. I think sometimes people should go to the mikvah after being defiled by the programming.

    Actually, they have lost much airtime and influence recently. They are now only on for two hours on a typical weeknight on the radio in the NYC area, when not long ago, they were on for six. Perhaps it is an onesh min hashomayim for the sins of the show

  24. The Wolf made a salient point.

    To the letter writer’s point, ignoring the irony: We know there is a lot wrong with Orthodoxy today. You don’t have to shout it from the rooftops, but you shouldn’t stick your head in the sand either. Major changes are coming, one way or another- either to fix “the system” or when it collapses from being too broken for too long. But until the changes happen, expect that newspapers and radio shows will give the floor to dissidents over and over again.

  25. #40

    Rabbi Rothstein seems far from a dissident based on his writing – in fact, a large section of his book may be read as a “hechzira ha’atara l’yoshna” attempt…

  26. Gidon,

    True, “M’kol m’lamdai…”. So, what good have you learnt from the current state of Orthodoxy? Can you please write a book about all the good you’ve learn’t? After that you may have a volume,that’s much smaller, detailing how you feel improvements can be made. Otherwise you come across as disingenuous and as someone who has a very different agenda.

    [Is it possible that some people have an agenda that is comparable to that of Yerovem – scared that “ben Yishai” will be b’rosh? Is the fact that “separatist Orthodoxy” has not disappeared but is the only thing surviving, while MO is disappearing, bothersome to you?

    How, my friend, is this any different than Yerovom Ben Navot, who was a truly amazing and special person (prior to sinning and even thereafter, prior to refusing to repent), wreaking all sorts of havock in order not to have to be behing “Ben Yishai”?

    May Hashem enlighten all His children.]

  27. I can not believe all the people above who are endorsing “a proud yid” for soliciting ignorance as his choice to ‘not listen’ is not exactly constructive but really reactionary. And what was the purpose of even posting this story. 40 replies?

  28. #42- I think you’ve done your job promoting the book already 🙂

    If he is trying to fix the system, that’s great. If he is challenging it, then he is a dissident. It is not a pejorative that you as his publicist would need to defend him from 🙂

    A dissident is always better than an ostrich.


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