Wednesday, August 10, 2005

R' Mayer Schiller on Torah im Derech Eretz and MO

R' Mayer Schiller is a fascinating individual who is Charedi but has taught for 25 years at MO high schools, and in many ways has a very MO hashkafa. Here is a very interesting essay about Torah im Derech Eretz and MO (I am quoting 1 very small piece here, it is worthwhile to read the whole thing).

The average lad in yeshiva/Hassidic world is clearly committed to halacha and resonably knowledgeable in Torah. The average Modern Orthodox boy lags far behind. There is simply no comparison between the 2 worlds when measured by any objective standard of Torah and mitzvos.

I know this is a painful truth. I wish it were not so as it argues strongly against the feasibility of Torah im Derech Eretz
...
I cannot escape the sense that a shitah that which assents to and embraces all of God's creation will produce a better talmid of greater shleimus in his service of Hashem.


This is the bottom line. MO while theoretically great (even superior as R' Schiller states) doesn't seem to really work for the masses. No one has found the formula to teach Torah im Derech Eretz while still maintaining that commitment that the UO have to Torah and mitzvos.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

OK, some MO bashing. But it has me wondering: who is this for? Is it for MO people, to get them to become UO, which they won't, or is it for UO people, to warn them against becoming MO? Or is it for fence sitters, to make them feel bad?

bluke said...

I didn't have anyone in particular in mind. I saw this article and thought that R' Schiller made a good point. The Godol is having a long discussion about this and I think this article contributes to the discussion.

I don't think this is MO bashing. As R' Schiller himself states, he believes MO is superior, the problem is in the execution.

This article talks to me because I am one of those conflicted individuals. I see the benefits of MO as well as the problems.

As I pointed out more then once, you just need to look at the MO leaders to see the problems. How many MO leaders send their children to MO schools? Not that many. I know many MO educators who send their kids to UO schools because of exactly the issues that R' Schiller raises. R' Schachter and R' Willig both sent some of their sons to Ner Yisrael and not YU. In many cases, the true MO's (meaning serious about Torah and Mitzvos as well as open to secular knowledge) kids go to UO schools. For an example from the blogosphere just look at Hirhurim (he identified himself as MO), his daughter goes to a Beis Yaakov in Brooklyn where they learn teich in Yiddish.

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

Anonymous, Rabbi Schiller is not MO bashing. He has a vested interest in a viable Modern Orthodoxy. He will not rejoice if MO disappeared the way some chareidim would. He mounted a vigorous defense of TuM (in the TuM Journal) against charedi attack in the Jewish Observer.

Believe me, at this point I am much more sympathetic to the ideals of Modern Orthodoxy--one of which is critical thinking. The fact is that people without a great deal of commitment to Torah and halakha can more easily attach themselves to the MO. This is a pitfall that all MO theoreticians painfully acknowledge.

ADDeRabbi said...

see http://adderabbi.blogspot.com/2005/01/talmudic-reading-kiddushin-29b.html

Anonymous said...

I meant that Bluke was satisfying himself with a bit of MO bashing. And if MO in its ideal form is open to critical thiking, it also must necessarily be open to those whose critical thinking leads them to doubt and then to less-than-total dedication to learning and mitzvos.

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

As far as I know, Bluke is a YU graduate who made aliyah and who self-defines as Modern Orthodox.

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

>if MO in its ideal form is open to critical thiking, it also must necessarily be open to those whose critical thinking leads them to doubt and then to less-than-total dedication to learning and mitzvos.

Absolutely, and it is. But there are inherent problems that come with a large laiety who is less than fully commited, such as the challenge it poses to ecucating kids in an environment where coolness may be competing with MO ideals.

bluke said...

I am a YU graduate who came from an MO home who made aliya and now doesn't know how to define himself.

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

Or that.

imainish said...

UO doesn't work for the masses either. You're looking at a small snapshot of our history. When the many Kollel families with their high birth rate encourage their children to follow this derech the lack of funds to support the venture will come as a painful shock. Pirkei Avos and Rambam is pretty clear about how the masses should conduct themselves. The UO model is not it.

bluke said...

I agree with you 100%. The system is broken and needs to be fixed.

A Jew Who Once Learned said...

Problems as I see Them:
1. Almost all Jews are neither UO nor MO and are or will shortly no longer be Jews.
2. The UO model can only work if it is financed by people who don't exemplify the UO haskafa--they work and earn lots of money.
3. Most MO people are not that serious about their Orthodoxy.
Solution: People like Bluke who are MO in hashkafa but UO in execution. Unfortunately, a rare breed.

bluke said...

The problem is that serious MO people have nowhere to send their kids to school. MO schools are not serious enough and UO schools are teaching a different hashkafa. It is a no-win situation. It seems that many serious MO send their kids to UO schools because they believe that execution and torah is most important. What this means is that MO loses the next generation.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Blue: Luckily, there are some solutions here in Israel. You can be Chardal, be very serious, and still go to nachal charedei/hesder merkaz/hesder and then learn a livelihood.

With all the respect I have for R' Schiller, I recall he was a Rebbe at MTA (YU's high school) for the lowest shiur. That means, lichachila, the kids in his shiur had the lowest motivation, the worst backgrounds, and were mostly the "problem" cases. Granted, he made "mentchen" out of many of them over the years, but the top shiurimg (Rav Cohen, for example) had hundreds of talmidim that are today a fabulous example of serious MO's (albeit, UO, but whats the difference really - so they learned at YU, does that mean they can't be UO?)

Bluke: Were you at the kotel last night? It was truly awe-inspiring to see a huge mix of black, white and orange. If only the Chabad "mishichistim" wouldn't have come, then the Litvaks would also have shown up. (Which is also why today's Yated had nothing on the atzeret)

bluke said...

I am one of those serious talmidim from R' Cohen's shiur.

I could not make it, I watched on the internet

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Bluke: I was in R' Cohen's shiur in 9th grade as well. (Till my parents moved me somewhere more UO than MTA for 10th-11th)

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Bluke: Do you agree with my assesment of R' Schiller's shiur at MTA, and that his opinion that you can't successfully fuse MO/UO together is not 100% accurate?

I think that MO is much too wide a spectrum to lump everyone together. For example; I only recently found out about the existance of "Kiddush Clubs" in US MO shuls. I think its pathetic -- and thats the left side of MO (or maybe even, the middle, based on different MO's from YU). Yet, you are well aware of the right hand side of MO, which has the serious students...

BTW - it was a wonderful mix yesterday of black, white and orange. But, as my cousin reminded me, "Sof maaseh bimachshava techila" -- if they hadn't joined the ogovernment, we wouldn't have been in this mess to begin with.

bluke said...

Nothing is 100% accurate. MO definately produces some amazing people. Serious MO guys are great exactly because of what R' Schiller writes, they have a fuller appreciation of Hashem. The problem is do the benefits outweigh the risks? It seems to me that for many kids they do not. The fact is that many of the serious MO are voting with their feet and sending their kids to UO schools.

dp said...

Jameel @ The Muqata: that was probably the dumbest comment ive ever seen on this blog before. Rabbi S has been teaching in MO schools for over 20 years. Dont you think he has had contact with and seen boys on shiurim on all levels? He also has taught other subjects and been heavily invilved in extra curricular activites- No doubt he has been in close contact with even the boys i the highest shiur- NOW... I was in Rabbi S shiur in MTA in 12th grade- we were the second to highest shiur and also a masmidim shiur (extra period of gemara)
I think u should think more b4 making these comments




http://www.yucommentator.com/media/paper652/news/2004/10/26/Yudaica/A.Tumultuous.Love.Affair.Yu.Me.And.The.Last.Three.Decades-773444.shtml

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

DP: I only remember him in 9th grade, and that was the shiur he taught (lowest). As I wrote, I have lots of respect for the man, and he made many mentschen out of people in his class.

However, I don't think that MO is a total flop at all according to R. Schiller's thesis; here in Israel there are many combinations which do work. Chorev High School and Netiv Meir have many outstanding committed students from there.

I'm sorry if my comment upset you - that was not the point (and I was unaware of R' Schiller's exposure to many more levels of students)

However, I don't think that the risks of being committed MO is any more riskier than being UO. Just go to "kikar hachatulot" any evening, to see the UO outcasts...or Woodbourne Shabbat Nachamu. UO Yeshivish guy, hat on angle on his head, jacket over his shoulders, cigarete dangling out of his mouth. Playing Pool. "8 ball, corner pocket, im yirtzeh hashem"

dp said...

it didnt upset me,i would just hope you give someone like rabbi schiller more credit than to accuse him of basing all Modern Orthodoxy on his shiur alone.
Yes, there are UO kids on the edge as well- i remember before going to new square with rabbi schiller for te first time, he told us not to be shocked by seeing what we would characterize as bummy chassidim- any community will have a not so shtark element but all in all- hes right that UO and chasidim end up more comited than MO. I am MO and its a sad fact that half of my class in MTA or even my yeshiva in israel does not learn more than 1 hr a day. Now, my yeshivsih counterpart who went to UO schools and Mir type bes medrashim can bost a better stat then that for sure.
I learn at a yeshivish UO high school at night and i see what comitement and learning goes on there- way more impressive than anything else ive seen

Ish Chaveir said...

Rabbi Schiller now teaches the top 12th grade shiur in MTA.