I model Yisro, I hear and act
My son models his yeshiva, he hears not and acts not
Forty-seven years ago Rabbi Avigdor Miller zt"l echoed the following:
Q: The Orthodox community in America has been protesting against the State of Israel because of the practice of doing autopsies on the dead even against the express will of the family and the nifter. Is it right for the Rabbis to lead protests that demonstrate internal strife among Jews?
A: And the answer is this: Suppose your landlord is not giving you any heat. He’s a Jewish landlord and your family is freezing. And no private protests on your part elicit any positive response from him. Is it wrong to make a sign and stand in front of the building – a sign that says MR. SCHWARTZ, MY LANDLORD, IS NOT GIVING ME ANY HEAT.
So that people might pass by and they’ll say, “Look at what Jews are doing to Jews.” So what should you do, freeze?! So when it comes to freezing, then you understand that you have to do what you have to do. It’s wrong to freeze. You’re not going to let your family freeze.
But when it comes to autopsies, then not?! When it comes to autopsies, why should we handle it with silk gloves? We have already protested quietly in every possible way. We have spoken to them a hundred times! A thousand times! And all our protests have fallen on deaf ears. TAPE # 45 (December 1974) From Toras Avigdor: Parshas Yisro
Learning from Yisro, this is what I heard:
Q: The Orthodox community in New York has been protesting against the Chofetz Chaim Yeshiva in Queens because of the practice of indoctrinating the “dead” even against the express will of family and rabbis. Is it right for leaders to lead protests that demonstrate internal strife among Jews?
A: And the answer is this: Suppose your son’s Rosh Yeshiva is not letting you see your son. He’s a Jewish Rosh Yeshiva and your son is becoming ice cold. And no private protests on your part elicit any positive response from him. Is it wrong to make a sign that says R. DOVID HARRIS, MY SON’S LANDLORD AND ROSH YESHIVA IS NOT GIVING ME ANY TIME TO BE WITH MY SON.
So, people might pass by and they’ll say, “Look at what orthodox Jews are doing to orthodox Jews.” So, what should you do, let your son freeze?! So, when it comes to letting your son freeze, then you understand that you have to do what you have to do. It’s wrong to let him freeze. You’re not going to let your family freeze.
But when it comes to indoctrination, then not?! When it comes to indoctrination, why should we handle it with silk gloves? We have already protested quietly in every possible way. We have spoken to them a hundred times! A thousand times! And all our protests have fallen on deaf ears.
Be well, Son of Nachum Hirsch
This is the letter I received from my son's Rosh Yeshiva a year ago.
Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim doesn’t live up to its namesake.
The saintly Chofetz Chaim, who was a Kohen, strived to make peace between people. He would be appalled at how this yeshiva instead makes pieces between people. Here's a letter I got exactly a year ago from my son's Rosh Yeshiva. I left out the second page which only had some valediction and his name which I'm too embarrassed to show, for his sake.
It isn’t my nature, or most people, to publicize information that can be misunderstood; however, I’m willing to risk any misunderstanding for the sake of my son. Those who are upright will use it wisely and those who are not will stumble in it.
For those who may be anxious about reading this letter, it is for toeles (i.e., constructive purpose). Here is the halacha I received last week: Question, may one tell another what was said about him, so he can dispute it? Answer, if the one spoken of wishes to dispute what was said to defend his reputation, one may tell him what was said and who said it. If that is not the case (i.e., he doesn’t need to defend his reputation) one may still disclose what was said to publicize the one who said it as a Baal Leshon HoRa (a strife maker), but only if the one spoken of is aware of what was said.
After showing this letter to many people I have made the following general observation and theory.
Parents: are aghast as this is also about them.
Rebbi/teacher: are neutral as not to offend either side, which they must be loyal to.
Rav/therapist: shrugs shoulders and contritely says, “He’s the Rosh Yeshiva.” to avoid getting involved.
This is my rebuttal to the letter and how I see the issue dividing us:
Sophistry vs Philosophy
The Rosh Yeshiva stated in the first line that he will clarify, in writing, his understanding of the issue that is dividing us. That "issue" still evades me as I only see vitriol and ad hominem. So, I will answer the question of what our issue is and what is dividing us and in one sentence: The Rosh Yeshiva is engaging in sophistry and I'm engaging in philosophy. Here's the definition of sophistry according to kaos1973:
Sophistry: The art of coercive theft disguised as a virtuous act. Whenever you hear a politician or special interest group talk about a "problem" but never define the issue, offer evidence, offer options, or set limits or objectives, you know you are listening to sophistry.
Sophistry seeks to condemn those that don't conform. For example, those that don't think climate change is a big issue are labelled "Climate Change Deniers". If you question immigration - you are a racist. If you question Islam - you are a bigot. These are not arguments just slander to stop investigation.
Philosophy is the opposite of sophistry. It is the quest for truth. Where sophistry tells the masses what they want to hear, philosophy diagnoses the problems and tells you the options, determines the best outcome from a clinical, factual standpoint.
When you go to the doctor: Would you rather be told the truth or what you want to hear? When we listen to politicians, evidence would suggest we prefer to be told what we want to hear not the truth. Therefore: Can we really blame politicians for lying to us when we continually vote for sophistry over reason and evidence? https://steemit.com/philosophy/@kaos1973/what-the-hell-is-sophistry-kaos1973
Rosh Yeshiva and sophistry:
Never define the issue: The RY never defined the issue, the divide.
Offer evidence: He never showed evidence to support his accusations.
Offer options: He never offered an option or wanted to collaborate.
Set limits: He never set limits on the "resist" and "stand up against me".
Objectives: None except to "know" what Hashem wants my son to do.
Condemn those that don't conform: I don't merit 5th comm. protectia.
Me and philosophy:
Diagnoses the problems: Our divide is sophistry vs philosophy.
Tells (son) the options: Treat me like a father or treat me like a master.
Determines the best outcome: As father, I will have copious mercy.
Clinical, factual stand point: As master, I will payback for the rebellion.
This editorial appeared in "The Jewish Vues" August 19 - 25, 2020
Dear Vues Master: Can we push aside the 5th commandment?
I have a story to tell, and it’s an important one – the question once arose, “can we simply push aside the 5th commandment?” This might seem like an odd question, but the question arose during an odd experience under strange circumstances. The Rosh Yeshiva is always known as the more influential leader– even greater than the Yeshiva. With that said, my son was studying Torah at well-known Yeshiva.
At this school, I was under the impression that he’d study Torah and learn how to connect with a mesora that was laid forth by his parents. However, when I learned that Rosh Yeshiva was teaching his own mesora, I found myself disheartened. As an Orthodox Jew, the power of the Rosh Yeshiva is not unknown to me. He’s a considerable influence outside of school as well. In the community, he’s a leader and a policy maker, and he’s often called to act in such capacity. But to make children rebel against their parents? That was unheard of, and it was something that I wasn’t willing to take lightly.
I began to take note of just how closed off this Yeshiva community was from others. There was absolutely no accountability, and as a result, I was treated with contempt. Not to mention, any speak of seeing a gadol together was solemnly rejected. The community believed that survival as a distinct entity necessitates more than just education. In other words, they believed in indoctrination. However, that left parents – like me – scrambling to understand just what our children were being taught and indoctrinated into.
I found myself increasingly perplexed by what was unfolding before me, but I looked to the past to gain clarity. Rabbi Salanter was concerned that without ethical behavior and spiritual warmth, study of the Talmud would become motivated by vanity, and that adherence to the laws would turn into an unfeeling, mechanical process. At that moment, I realized that the Rosh Yeshiva was precisely what Rabbi Salanter envisioned happening one day.
My son has not eaten at my home in over two years, and yet, the Rosh Yeshiva will not permit me and my son to see a mediator. Moreover, the Rosh Yeshiva will not visit a mediator with me either. As a parent, I will fight for my child. I will fight to ensure that my child doesn’t fall victim to such strict indoctrination, and I will not sit idly by while the Rosh Yeshiva calls me “bizarre,” “strange,” and, “someone with poor judgement.” Every parent has a right to inquire about the welfare of their child – even when they’re older. And every parent deserves a satisfactory answer. That’s what I’m here to do.
-Will not forsake my son, DG