YU Rabbeim Blast Toeivah Event Held at the School

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rav-mayer-twerskyRabbeim at Yeshiva University came out in strong protest this week regarding a gathering held last week at the New York City university regarding living a toeivah lifestyle. Both Rav Mayer Twersky and Rav Yonah Reis gave sichos mussar in the YU bais medrash about the event, strongly condemning it. Both expressed their feelings of embarrassment that there was a need to reiterate the absolute and abhorrent nature of the issur of mishkav zochor. They also spoke about the need to create a kiddush Hashem to offset the chillul Hashem caused by last week’s event.

Yair Reiner, one of several students at Yeshiva University with whom Matzav.com spoke, told us that “it hurts” him “to see all the lashon hara that was caused… This is not the view of yeshiva,” he said, adding that Rav Twersky and Rav Reiss, in separate sichos, shared the yeshiva‘s correct viewpoint.

Rav Twersky’s fiery shmuess was attended by about 600 people, who heard him strongly criticize last week’s event. Last night, Rav Reiss have a similar shmuess.

It should be added, as reported in the YU Commentator whose Editor-in-Chief is Michael Cinnamon, that a few hours before last week’s event, a letter bearing the signatures of between 5 and 7 roshei yeshiva – depending on the copy at hand – was distributed in various locations around the Wilf Campus of YU. The letter read as follows:

The Torah requires that we relate with sensitivity to a discreet individual who feels that he/she has a [toeivah] orientation, but abstains from any and all [toeivah] activity. Such sensitivity, however, cannot be allowed to erode the Torah’s unequivocal condemnation of [toeivah] activity. The Torah’s mitzvos and judgments are eternally true and binding. [Toeivah] activity constitutes an abomination. As such, publicizing or seeking legitimization even for the [toeivah] orientation one feels runs contrary to Torah. In any forum or on any occasion when appropriate sympathy for such discreet individuals is being discussed, these basic truths regarding [toeivah] feelings and activity must be emphatically re-affirmed.

Although the identity of the letter’s author was not determined, and although some called into question the authenticity of the letter, sources close to Rav Hershel Schachter, a rosh yeshiva at YU, confirmed that the letter and his signature are legitimate.

{Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. .. and then those in the “Modern” Orthodox camp still wonder why we in the “non-modern” orthodox camp view them with difference.. There’s a whole lot to say..

  2. The letter seems to say, carefully worded, that a person with toeiva feelings, who does not act on his feelings, nor promote himself in any way, should simply not be harrassed or tortured due to his feelings. Perhaps it was the word “sympathy” which was so confusing—what does it mean for us to be “sympathetic?”. In any case it’s understandable why such a forum could and should provoke condemnation by decent Jews. Those inclined to the toeiva lifestyle eventually become brazen advocates for themselves, until they are trying to parade down the streets of Jerusalem proudly proclaiming their lifestyle.

  3. as if every shiur in torah vodaas and lakewood is put online? news flash, not every thing every rebbe tells there talmidim is open for the entire world to hear. get over it

  4. Empathy means feeling for someone but identifying with them, more like feeling WITH someone. That level of identification is not necessary to justify using the word sympathy.

  5. The people in charge of the program last week were also very clear about what the Halacha is on this subject and that the Halacha is not open for discussion.

  6. Several years ago I spent Shavuos at the Homowack Lodge in the Catskills where Rabbi Maurice Lamm explained that it YU had to allow a policy to accept toeivah individuals in order to qualify for Government Funding.

    Although I am very shy person, I stood up in the large audience and protested:

    “Since when is it permitted to sell your religion for money?” I asked.

    ” How can a yeshiva have a policy of accepting [toeivah individuals]?” I asked

    Of-course he laughed me off in a insulting manner.

    Please start protesting to Rabbi Norman Lamm and the YU committee for creating such anti Torah policies.

    I write the above with no personal interest and feel it is a cry L’shem shomayim.

  7. Did any of you actually read the transcripts of the event? It was made clear that acting on their orientation was forbidden. This forum was meant to help Jews that want to live a torah life-style even as they suffer due to their orientation. Its not a life style choice to be toeivah!

  8. That guy who calles himself Rabbi of Efrat (pastor of Efrat) is also a YU Talmid. So we know that there’s something wrong with their system. Modern Orthodox. Are you Shomer Negia? What a ridiculous terminology. It sounds like it’s a Chumra like Chlov Akum today.

    Reb Naftoli Trop in Chidushei HaGranat on Mesechta Yevamos explains the status of Klal Yisroel before Matan Torah. He says their status was “Yisroel” without “Kedushas Yisroel.”

  9. this is what really bugs me — in the post on the YU issue Matzav (and YWN, VIN, Hamodia, etc.) can’t even use the word _______ and need to insert toeivah. But when describing the other current scandals, they forget devarim 25:13-16

    lo yiheh lechah bebeischa even va-aven gedolah ve-ketana. . . even shlemah va-tzedek yiheh lach, eifah shelemah vatzedek yiheh lach . . . ki TOAVAS HASHEM ELOKECHA kol oseh eleih kol oseh avel

    (and the drasha of chazal in Bava Basra on “hin tzedek” she-yehai hin shelcha tzedek ve-lav shelcha tzedek)

    You want to be tolerant and rachmanim, etc to a fellow Jew in distress– fine, but at least recognize what the torah calls cheating in business — toavas Hashem. And be equally tolerant of other Jews struggling with toeivah

    I don’t claim to be perfect in any area but at least I try not to be selectively condemnatory of other Jews. AND as between the two toeivos, in one group are Jews struggling with and trying to fight a toeivah, and the other. . .

    Maybe it is unfair of me but it leads me to think of another thing described as a toeivah by Shlomo haMelech in Mishlei– toavas Hashem kol gvah lev

    What do you think?

  10. We of course cannot legitimize this life style but we do have to deal the problems these people have in an understanding way. Just to condemn them but not work on helping them resolve the issue does not solve the problem. I have dealt with some of these people and although I used to be very hard line against them, I understand that it is a tremendous nisayon for them and we must help them deal with it without giving any credance to anyone who acyts on this.

  11. The Roshei Yeshivas acknowledged that the event made it clear that acting on one’s orientation is forbidden. Nevertheless, they condemned the event.

  12. What do I think? I think that all that you mentioned is certainly a toeivah, and there are therefore no gatherings to garner sympathy for those who are so tempted. The purpose of a gathering is to legitimize. Individuals who strive to overcome temptations work with their Rav privately. Now why is this so difficult to understand?

  13. news flash to #12, rabbi riskin first became frummer in yeshiva of brooklyn.
    oh and touro was created by yu people. you dont know what u are talking about.

  14. the torah calls theft toeivah
    band bsuness ethics is toeivah.
    its TOEIVAH all the same. get over your sanctimonious self righteous horses

  15. Rav Twersky’s sichas mussar is available in audio and written form. Rav Schachter did come out against the event. the students who organized the event were not advocating living a life against Halacha. Aderaba. I disagree with how this was organized but I feel for the people facing such a nissayon. Also, does any Yeshiva ask a question of potential talmidim as to whether or not they have this nissayon?

  16. to # 13

    People, once they find out that their son or grand-son is R”L afflicted with this, they never again use the word Toeiva. At that point they even get angry at others who use that word.

    When its their own child they suddenly get filled up with compassion.

  17. How about stop bashing. The issues at hand are more complicated and sophisticated than the joke, and one-sided, of news source makes it out to be.

  18. We all have our problems.
    muy suggestion is we work within our own communities to perfect ourselves rather than pointing out to otheres, who are unlikely to listen, what’s wrong with them.

  19. Bernie,

    Are you joking? Do you really think that the Roshei Yeshiva in YU waste their time on this board responding to ppl like you? Get over yourself and go learn something

  20. ” How can a yeshiva have a policy of accepting [toeivah individuals]?” I asked

    Of-course he laughed me off in a insulting manner.

    You don’t know what you’re talking about. The Yeshiva did no such thing. Never. The issue was at one of the graduate schools. The graduate schools and the Yeshiva are separate institutions.

    As far as laughter, it’s a matter of interpetation. The question itself is ridiculous. First, as stated above, the issue had nothing to do with the Yeshiva. Second, how would the Yeshiva know they’re accepting a [toeivah] person? Would they ask? Does Brisk ask? Does Ponevezh ask? Would they get an honest answer? Should they do a polygraph test? Does Telshe wire it’s prospective talmidim to lie-detectors after giving them the “farher”?

  21. “This policy of YU of accepting toeivah individuals in return for government funding is a Chillul Hashem – these YU policies have a major influence on modern or centrist jewry.”

    Interesting claim. Can you prove it? Can you even define what you’re talking about? You say “major influence”. What influence? Influence to do what? Play checkers? Influence to think what?

  22. “That guy who calles himself Rabbi of Efrat (pastor of Efrat) is also a YU Talmid.”

    Rabbi Riskin learned at YU some forty-fifty years ago. How many of his rebbbeim are still giving shiur? How can he be considered the same result when all (most?) of his influences are dead? In any case, it is well known that Rabbi Riskin is on the left- even among his fellow alumni. How can he be considered representative of YU? Shall we then mention a certain famously anti-frum figure who learned in Ponevezh and condemn the entire institution?

  23. 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’ailu etc. Not so. Rather, YU was viewed as a deviant, dangerous, and anti-Torah entity that doesn’t deserve the respect of a legitimate Torah position, even a mistaken one. Rav Aharon Kotler ZT’L, and Rav Schneur ZT’L after him, would under no circumstances even walk into YU. Rav Elchonon Wasserman ZT’L 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. Of course, this is all very offensive to the students of YU, and I understand 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 the problem with YU. The good, the bad, the gray areas – are all considered 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). That’s 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 leader 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 secular 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 unfortunate necessity, which in the Yeshivos it clearly is, is not changing the values of the Torah. But to espouse that taking people 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 S.R. Hirsch, which has been discussed several times).

    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” – separation – between Kodesh and Chol. We sometimes need Chol, but we dare not blur the edge between it and Kodesh. YU has not only blurred the edge between them, but has actually claimed that Chol is in the category 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 toeiva clubs (money is no excuse; if they were Neo-Nazi clubs, they would not be tolerated – the issue is the lack of understanding that toeiva 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 separation, 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 didn’t 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 involved 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, springs 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 totally 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 believed that secular studies are not only OK, but an advantage for a Ben Torah. Rabbi Moshe Zvi Brodsky, son-in-law of Rav Nochum Pertrovich ZT’L 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. “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 people like Rav Aharon Kotler ZT’L 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 answer will depend on who you ask. There is a girl, a Russian immigrant, who wrote how after she graduated from a Beis Yaakov school in Brooklyn she decided to go to college at Stern because “at least its Jewish”. What she found, she says, is the same non-Jewishness as the secular 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.

    Rav Aharon Kotler ZT’L said many times that he will not enter YU because it is bad. His son, Rav Schneur ZT’L, followed suit. (The fact that Rav Moshe went into YU does not show he was not opposed to it, but rather that even if he is opposed to it, that doesn’t mean he may not enter it. Different Gedolim had different ways of expressing themselves in these issues.) Even among those who actually taught in YU, there were those who were opposed to the whole place and would have been very happy if it would have never been in existence (I am referring to Rav Gorelick). Rav Aharon wanted to make a statement in that way – it does not mean anyone who does not make that type of statement disagrees with him Rav Moshe in fact held Halachicly – and this is in writing – that it is assur to go to college, and that the “college Yeshivos” are doing terrible damage to Klal Yisroel.

    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 regardless of whether the “talmidim” go against the Rebbeim or not, means that the institute as a whole must be opposed. The fact that in some classrooms you will not hear and heresy of chutzpah against the Torah does not negate the corruption of the institution as a whole. 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.

  24. Rabbi Isaac Elchonon Theological Seminary itself was evidence of the irresistibly of the “new American social-economic order”. When REITS was founded, it was not a secular studies Yeshiva. In 1896, Rabbi Moses Malin founded the Rabbi Isaac Elchonon Theological Seminary on the East Side of Manhattan, named after his beloved Rebbe, Rav Yitzchok Elchonon Spektor of Kovno, who passed away that year. Modeled after the Eastern European Yeshivos, the seminary’s official purpose was to educate and prepare students to become rabbis. There were no secular studies. The school was designed to pick up where the existing East Side Yeshiva Eitz Chaim, which was founded 10 years earlier, left off. Graduates of Eitz Chaim were able to attend RIETS.

    The Agudas Harabbonim, an American rabbinical organization, then endorsed RIETS. The Agudas Harabbonim saw in RIETS a counter-force against the Conservative JTS (Jewish Theological Seminary). In 1906, when RIETS moved into its new building on 156 Henry Street (next door to Eitz Chaim), the Agudas Harabbonim helped create a smicha board in RIETS, publicly denouncing the rabbis who graduated from JTS. But the new “American social-economic order” struck, as the students demanded secular studies in RIETS. The board of directors was undecided about whether to concede. But pressure mounted, and in 1908 the board expelled 15 students for going to secular schools during time allotted for religious studies. This spurred a student strike. Many students left the school. Resulting financial pressure and bad publicity caused RIETS to compromise their principles and after three weeks, they caved in. They re-accepted the 15 expelled students and instituted a secular curriculum. Apparently, RIETS was unable to withstand the pressures of the “new economic and social order”. Many believed that the fate of RIETS awaited all who stepped foot into the “Golden Medinah”. As time passed, the secularization of RIETS accelerated, due to various influences. Harry Fischel, a philanthropist, became vice president of RIETS in 1908. He was bent on step up the secularization of the institution. In 1915, with the completion of the new RIETS building, Fischel made a speech stating that his goal is to “unite Orthodox Judaism and Americanism”. The Agudas HaRabbonim were not happy.

    Along with the new building in 1915, there came a new president, Dr. Bernard Revel. Revel expanded the secular curriculum at RIETS. Then, together with his Hebrew Philology teacher, Dr. Solomon Hurwitz (editor of The Jewish Forum), he decided to open a Jewish high school – the Talmudic Academy (T.A.). TA was opened in 1916, under the leadership of Hurwitz. Hurwitz’s desire was to “bridge the gap that exists in the life of the immigrant child between ultra-oriental Judaism and an ultra-occidental Americanism” (Between Tradition and Modernity, Seth Taylor, p.11). Revel claimed he wanted to create a Torah school with American ideals. Ironically, even the non-Jewish faculty members would preach “Judaism and Americanism” in TA. After Hurwitz’s death, Dr. Shelly Safire, biology teacher in Stuyvesant HS, became principal. Safire further expanded the secular dimension in the school. In 1921, because of the WWI immigration, the school had over 200 students.

    That year, the school joined the Mizrachi Teachers Institute. Revel had hoped to attract more orthodox people with this move, since at this point many Orthodox shied away from RIETS, unable to recognize much difference between it and JTS. In 1923, Revel unveiled a plan to create a four-year yeshiva college (sic). The board approved, and Harry Fischel donated the first $10,000 of the five million dollars needed for the project. Plans were made for a building. It would be modeled after the architecture during the time of King Solomon. There would be 8 buildings, with twelve pillars representing the 12 tribes. However, other than a small Shul on campus, there was nothing there to make it look distinctly Jewish. Revel died of a burst blood vessel in 1940, partly attributed to the strain of supporting his institution during the impossibly difficult financial period of the Depression and post-Depression eras.

    The Agudas HaRabbonim, who originally approved Revel’s appointment, now wanted someone with different ideas. They had opposed Revel’s “Americanization” of the yeshiva. The Board of Directors, however, ignored the directive of the Rabbonim and appointed Dr. Samuel Belkin, who strongly believed in revel’s ideas of Americanization. Revel’s goal was accomplished through Belkin, and Yeshiva University was established. Rav Soloveichik succeeded his father as Rosh yeshiva in 1942.

    Nevertheless, Rav Soloveichik admits that his movement did not impress everybody. He explains why: “This is the reason why certain American personalities . . . claim and even swear that they are in love with the true orthodoxy that arranges melave malke parties and sings Bnei Heichalah soulfully [a Chasidic seudah shelishis custom] , but they cannot tolerate modern orthodoxy, as it were (they write “modern” but they mean Yeshivat R. Yitzchak Elchanan, the Rabbinic Federation and the Mizrachi!) . . . For this reason a famous representative of secular Jewry in Israel said in a talk with Dr. Belkin and myself that he respects extreme orthodoxy but not the mizrachi and hapoel mizrachi. THEY ARE ALL AFRAID OF US because we employ a method of conquest, but they have no fear of those who shut themselves behind walls.” (Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveichik, Five Addresses, p.155)

    And the Torah leaders? He admits that they, too, did not accept the Mizrachi. He compares the rejection of the Mizrachi by Torah leaders to the rejection of Joseph by his brothers. And why don’t his “brothers” see things his way? Simple. “However, to our great sorrow, while the tribes of G-d thousands of years ago finally admitted Joseph’s righteousness, and begged his forgiveness, ‘please forbear the wrong of your brothers and their sin, for they caused you evil (Gen. 50:17), today a segment among our brethren still LACK THE CAPACITY TO SEE REALITY AS IT IS AND THE COURAGE TO ADMIT THEIR ERROR. Even today, after Treblinka and Auschwitz – as assimilation putrefies a great portion of Diaspora Jewry . . . they hold fast stubbornly against their brother “Joseph” (religious Zionists)”. (ibid p.33)

    This was the Modern Orthodox mind-set in the early 1960’s. Ultra-Orthodoxy will be swallowed up by the all-too-powerful American culture, and the “new type of Talmid Chacham”, the secularly educated, religious Zionist will “conquer” the new world. (“Conquest” is a word often used in Rav Soloveichik’s lectures). That was then. Before long, the tune began to change. Yeshivos, chareidi-style yeshivos flourished and grew. Kolleim, yes, Kolleleim, where married men with families would “shut themselves behind walls” and spend their entire day immersed in Torah, began to spring up all over the country. Ultra-Orthodox Kiruv organizations were succeeding in attracting even the most Americanized youths. People laughed at Rav Aharon Kotler when he said that American students would be willing to go to Yeshiva full time with no college. Now look at who’s laughing at whom. Where we used to see articles announcing the pending death of “ultra orthodoxy”, we saw, in the 1980’s, articles by such Modern Orthodox spokesmen as Rabbi Dr. Emanuel Rackman, of Fifth Avenue Synagogue on Manhattan and later Bar Ilan University in Israel, decrying the spirit of “Ultra Orthodox Triumphalism”. When the ArtScroll series of English Torah classics came out, we saw an article, I believe it was in Tradition magazine, complaining about how ArtScroll, by using good English and high quality production, gives the false impression that they are really “Modern”, when in reality they are “ultra orthodox” in disguise.

    Today, Rabbi Dr. Walter Wertzberger, Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Yeshiva University, Rabbi Emeritus of congregation Shaaray Tefila, Lawrence N.Y. former president of the Rabbinical Council of America and of the Synagogue Council of America, correctly points out: “Of late, there seems to be no end to articles in learned journals and the daily press lamenting the impending demise of Modern Orthodoxy. Although I am fully aware that in Jewish religious circles the pendulum has swung to the right, I dismiss the prophets of doom and gloom” (Is Modern Orthodoxy an Endangered Species? By Walter S. Wurzburger, Orthodox Caucus). Forty years after Rav Soloveichik made those addresses, things were not supposed to end up like this. Ultra-orthodox yeshivas are bursting at the seams, and their neighborhoods are expanding, multiplying, multiplying, and spreading to the most unlikely places. Something changed. Something went wrong. In this atmosphere of “Ultra orthodox Triumphalism” (sic) we find more articles on the identity crisis taking place within Modern Orthodoxy. Dr. Mendel Ganchrow, President of the orthodox Union, begins a June 4, 1999 article in the Jewish Week called, “Defining Modern Orthodoxy” by saying, “The question of who or what is a modern Orthodox Jew is a new one”. He is right. But the question is being asked. And not in the Chareidi circles of Bnei Brak, but within the Modern Orthodox camp itself. Continues Dr. Ganchrow: “These days, the modern Orthodoxy of my peers and myself is under suspicion. In screaming headlines and news articles, we are told that a new modern Orthodoxy is setting out to provide “closer ties between Orthodoxy and the outside world” and to encourage its adherents to have “the courage to be modern and Orthodox”. When I wore a kippah to my medical office or made rounds with a five o’clock shadow while wearing sneakers on Tisha B’Av, wasn’t I exhibiting that courage? . . . I have always been proud of being a “centrist” Jew; but of late, I find myself being stripped of my identity. “ Dr. Ganchrow is referring to “Edah”. A February 26, 1999 JTA article by Debra Nussbaum is titled: “1,500 modern Orthodox converge to define identity”. “1,500 modern Orthodox Jews who gathered here over the Presidents Day weekend for a conference whose goal was to re-articulate just what it means to be a modern Orthodox Jew today. “The conference, which was organized by the nascent group Edah and drew twice as many people as expected, came at a time when many of modern Orthodoxy’s adherents are struggling to define their movement’s philosophy. . . . “To be a modern Orthodox Jew today is often to feel lonely, to be without a community in which to ask ideological questions,” said Rabbi Daniel Lehmann, who was ordained at Yeshiva University and is now headmaster of the pluralistic New Jewish High School, in Waltham, Mass. . . . “Dassi Rutman, one of about 200 university students who attended the conference, said she came from Ontario, Canada, hoping that she would “feel more secure with my identity.” “I’m modern Orthodox, but I feel the pressures from people around me, friends who are moving to the right,” said Rutman, who studies biology at York University . . . In his keynote address kicking off the conference, Berman, Edah’s director, said that modern Orthodoxy is a religious path defined by “maximum integration with society,” with adherents who “simultaneously affirm a passionate total commitment to halachah,” Jewish law. “

    Who would have though that in 20th and 21st century America, which was going to “swallow up” Ultra Orthodoxy, that a Modern Orthodox biology student in NYU would feel “pressures” to become more Ultra orthodox? Truly, something extraordinary happened.

  25. Matzav must reconsider its policy of replacing every instance of the G-word with the word toeivah. The Torah uses the word toeivah to describe a man who TRANSGRESSES an issur of mishkav zachur. Not on who has a predisposition to do so.

    Let’s not call struggling Jews abominable unless they are espousing views that disregard halakha. Until that point, they are authentically part of am segulah.

    The lack of sympathy in this discussion is appalling.

  26. The bashing and disgusting remarks of the right wing elements here simply shed light on the fact that you should really be called “Sonei Yisrael.” The fact that the YU audience must confront and show sympathy toward Jews who wish to live a halachic observance but inherently struggle in this “Toeivah” area is because they are not welcome at all in your insular communities. That does NOT mean that they don’t exist – you simply decide to spew venom at them, deny the fact that they live among you, and force them into making one of three choices – 2) repress everything and pretend to love a wife who’s life they will ruin (because you won’t let them seek therapy) 2) you chase them off entirely and they decide to become totally not religious 3) they decide to join a community that will offer counseling and help them confront their issues, while remaining an otherwise halachically observant Jew – and that means us.

    The event never condoned this illicit, anti-halachic behavior – the halacha will NOT change – EVER. Read the transcript or watch the video of the speakers before you open your mouths. The fact that you point fingers at YU and blame us, while we are attempting to end pointless bigotry (that you close-minded folk are the main perpetrators of) against people who are struggling to live a frum existence. How can they ever hope to be full ba’alei teshuva when you continue to ignore and/or verbally abuse them? Will someone who is mechalel Shabbos by driving to shul ever stop doing so because you throw rocks at them? Why not invite them over for a Shabbos meal and try to mekarev them?

    There was no approval of these forbidden acts at the event. But, these people are still Jews, and we must help them cope and encourage that they commit themselves to a greater level of mitzva observances and Avodas HaShem, which includes overcoming this area of great weakness.

    As Rav Twersky said – Jews are natural Rachmanim, as Chazal tell us, and we should feel symptathy toward those affected by this desire for toeivah, as for anyone who struggles in their yiddishkeit. A public forum was the wrong way to express that. As Rav Reiss said – we need to reevalute ourselves and our exposure to society (something you folk could learn from the recent EJF scandal – there are probably many more like him out there hiding and sinning in secret, undermining Torah values) and reaffirm what it means to be an am kadosh.

    Everyone needs to live a life entirely composed of kiddush HaShem, not chas v’Shalom, chillul HaShem. And you have just as much work to do as any of your brothers and sisters in klal Yisrael. So stop the hating and bashing that shows your ignorance, and start showing the proper ahavas Yisrael that you are so sorely lacking.

  27. 27 and others:
    the moish lamm story was concerning the old controversey at the cardozo school of law. I guarantee you that ANY law school under any auspicies especially all the schools frequented by members of the yeshivishe velt have a toeivah person in every class.
    they cannot discriminate against toeivah goyim who weanted to be students at cardozo law school. Period.

  28. Yair Reiner, one of several students at Yeshiva University with whom Matzav.com spoke, told us that “it hurts” him “to see all the lashon hara that was caused… This is not the view of yeshiva,” he said, adding that Rav Twersky and Rav Reiss, in separate sichos, shared the yeshiva’s correct viewpoint.

    The claim that “This is not the view of yeshiva” is hogwash. YU constantly has similar issues all the time. Be it tolerating toeiva clubs, openly toeiva teachers, and a myriad of other unacceptable practices.

  29. I agree with #29 100%. The pervading idea in YU is that anyone not learning in college is old fashioned, and that secular education is at least as important as a Torah education and that both are equally essential to being a good Jew. As opposed to regular Orthodox (heimish, Litvish, Chassidish, chariedi, or whatever name is applied to not Modern Orthodox)we believe that Torah is of parramount importance.
    As soon as secular education is thought to be required by, and equally essential as Torah alot of chumros (Daas Yehudi)are compromised which leads eventually to a situaton where some halachos are not kept properly and is explained away as “we have a different shitta” because the lay leaders are given an equal voice in matters and they usually outweigh the Rabbanim by automattically presenting a more up to date “with the times” approach.

  30. #29, you really must be more specific about the facts’ sources. you should be very careful when speaking about r’ yoshe ber, he was a huge talmid chachom, and although that doesn’t mean that we must accept (what we think were) his views, it would be a wise idea not to put him down as to who he himself was. I have actually heard that he bemoaned the fact that Zionism has overtaken the Torah’s importance in the Zionists eyes. I have also heard that he adamantly opposed the veiw that secular studies was “on par” R”L with the study of torah, so just be careful what you say about a man who sat and learned his whole life. Back to the point though, you are correct.YU IS A PROBLEM BECAUSE THEY TAKE THEIR WRONGDOINGS AND JUSTIFY THEM, AS OPPOSED TO A REGULAR “TORAH JEW” WHO, EVEN THOUGH HE MAY SLIP UP, HE UNDERSTANDS ITS WRONG AND TRIES TO WORK ON HIMSELF INSTEAD OF ADVOCATING HIS MISDEEDS!!!

  31. Yosef – excellent writing. I must contest to just one point – you stated that “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.” Although this may be true in orthodox institutions, it is not true for all institutions. Until 1982, the Jewish Theological Seminary, whose bone of contention with orthodoxy had until then been that since interpretation and halacha are continually evolving, then they and their scholars had the right to continue in the evolutionary process. However, it was in 1982 that this “rabbinical process” showed itself for the farce that it was when the decision was made to allow for women rabbis within the conservative movement – it, too, was an administrative decision and not a rabbinical one, much in the way that you have described. The alignment of YU with JTS in practice does not reflect well, but a spade is a spade.

  32. Rav Aharon Kotler zt’l did enter YU. He gave a guest shiur in RIETS in 1935, discussing the sugya of’shtarcha beyadi mai bai.’ Rav Aharon Soloveichik heard the shiur when he was still a teenager, and once told over the whole shiur to his son R. Moshe shlita. Rav Chaim Zimmerman, zt’l, a talmid in RIETS at the time, took opposite sides of the chakirah, lining up the Rishonim on the other side than that which Rav Aharon Kotler did He was constantly arguing with him over the course of the shiur, and afterwards, as well.

  33. Yosef,

    The Roshei Yeshiva in YU each know more torah than you will ever know. Please come and tell them that they have improper hashkafos. I’d love to see what sort of response they’d give you, that is IF they would dignify your shtuss with any sort of response whatsoever.

  34. Someone who has funny taivos, that is a tzaras Yachid, NOT a tzaras rabim.

    Yes, we should help the individual quietly find help in dealing with his issue, but it is not for public discussion. Should we have a public forum to deal with infertility r”l? or mikvaos? bavonosainu harabim eishes ish? Maseh er v’onan?

    These are PRIVATE issues. Let them be dealt with privately.

    Many a High School Rebbe have quietly reffered individuals to appropriate wise Counselors to help a teenagers suffering with these issues.

    Oh, you’ve never heard about it? That’s because it’s NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!

  35. 37, for you to make such a correlation between yu and jts proves that yiou have no clue at all what you are talknig about. you mamish are a clueless dope who is being oyver the worst kind of rechilus about that which you know nothing.

  36. Yosef,
    You set up a strawman and then knock it down.”Now, as Dr. Lamm pointed out in his farewell speech, MO (and YU) consider secular 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.” Please apply your theory to the Rambam instead of Rabbi Dr. Lamm – aiui pursuit of understanding HKB”H’s creation was at least somewhat of value to the Rambam.

    That being said, my general advice to all communities is as I stated above, take all the time that you have obviously spent on this post and use it to figure out how to improve those you are more likely to impact.

  37. At least get your facts straight. Your comments about Rav Lamm being just a “baalabus” president is just wrong. He is a Rav, with semicha from Rav Soloveitchik, zt”l. He gives shiurim from time to time in the beis medrash (although running a large yeshiva and major university is quite different than being the rosh yeshiva of a few hundred talmidim) and has published both scholarly essays, books on Torah and philosophy,lamdusheh divrei Torah in journals (Hapardes among others) and published a sefer, Halachos vahalichos.

  38. The color white is the synthesis of all colors so was the lurid trap of LABAN to our forefather Jacob. When the the colors cannot be distinguished then it looks good, but not neccessarily so. My question then is who can honestly step up on a soap box before this present and dreaded time before Moshiach Hashem has come. He is not yet seen, but His footsteps are heard.

    To all of those perfectly molded and refined souls lets not preach, but refine ourselves and then the veil of evil that is inbedded will fade and the pure light of Moshiach Hashem will forever shine. Maybe when we look at ourselves first honestly then our essense will shine, but until then I see it a waste of time to fight amongst brethren, but rather remain silent for the time is coming soon when all evil will be transformed and peace will reign absolute.

  39. To the kahal of mechubad posters,

    There’s a famous story told about R’ Soloveichik, that a haredi rabbi, who was very impressed with his level of knowledge of both torah and philosophy, asked him how it’s possible that he learned so much.

    He replied that “while you were learning, I was learning. and while you were talking about me, I was studying philosophy”.

    ???? ???? ?????? ????

  40. Yair Reiner, one of several students at Yeshiva University with whom Matzav.com spoke, told us that “it hurts” him “to see all the lashon hara that was caused… This is not the view of yeshiva,” he said, adding that Rav Twersky and Rav Reiss, in separate sichos, shared the yeshiva’s correct viewpoint.

    The claim that “This is not the view of yeshiva” is hogwash. YU constantly has similar issues all the time. Be it tolerating toeiva clubs, openly toeiva teachers, and a myriad of other unacceptable practices.

    The pt of disagreement between you and Yair, is that you view YU as a university while WE VIEW IT AS A YESHIVA!! As you will probably disregard this, why don’t you come down to the Heights, and see the 2 beautiful batei midrashim that are packed beyond capacity. As you probably wont get a seat, at least you will be able to hear the kol torah eminating from this makom kadosh.
    The Yeshiva does not tolerate the tolerance clubs, are any of the other meshugasim, we usually just choose to ignore them.
    Instead of being a closed-minded,ignorant judger, why don’t you try to see the truths in yair’s words?

  41. #46 —

    The institution calls itself University!

    You may be talking about RIETS; but this article is talking about YU. And YU is full of Kefira, even if RIETS is not.

  42. The hate and sinas chinam continue to pour in from the sanctimonious right wingers.

    They continue to fiddle – even as their own Rome burns with story after story, week after week of another one of their own involved in some sort of scandal or another.

    Scandals much much worse and way more harmful than anything alleged here by the way – creating chilulei H’ of monumental proportions.

    Clean your own house first!

  43. You are an idiot. Good luck obtainig mechilla from Yu as a whole, including the Roshei Yeshiva, administrators, and the entire student body. I wouldn’t want to be you on yom kippur.

  44. #49 — You sound like a typical YU’nik. No one needs their mechila. What was said here, pales in comparison to the extremely harsh words the Gedolei Yisroel ZT’L had for YU.

    Did you know the Chofetz Chaim called the zionists Amalekites? According to your false philosophy, the Chofetz Chaim himself would need mechila from all the zionists! LOL


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