Monday, April 17, 2006

Spinning Yaakov Menken

Reprint of Yakov Menken: Spin Meister
Original post date: Friday, May 13, 2005

Writing on Cross Currents (Jewish) Yakov Menken tells us:
A few weeks ago several commenters were apoplectic over the idea that both Rabbi Adlerstein and I had positive things to say about observant Christians.
Well, yes. And I was one of them. And do you remember why we were "apoplectic?"

Menken thinks he does, but, in fact, he's either he's (a) very forgetful; (b) not very bright; or (c) spinning. He writes:
On the one side you have people insisting that non-Jews say good things about us, and on the other side people who cannot bear to find something good to say about them. This is absurd.
As I tried to explain on a comment (deleted, of course) no one objects to praising gentiles. The trouble (and this is the point Menken conviniently misses) is that Cross Currents chose to praise a non-Jew for something that is not admirable.

Had Alderstan and Menken said "Boy, Michael Jordan was one hell of an athlete" or "That Ian McEwan sure does write like an angel" who would have objected? Not I.

But that isn't what they did.

Instead they heaped praise on the Pope for persistently holding to rituals and ideas that are, frankly, rediculous. Judaism rejects what is false. A backwards old fool, clinging to backwards old ideas, deserves mockery and scorn. Not praise.

By our lights, none of the Pope's theology is admirable and worthy of praise. Except, perhaps, to the cross-loving folks at Cross Currents(Jewish.)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Cross Currents on Slifkin

The Slifkin ban was announced on Hirhurim on January 11, 2005. The following three posts were my reaction to Cross Current's notorious non-reaction, including the famously bad attempt by R' Emanual Feldman to address the situation.

Original post date: Thursday, January 13, 2005

Day 1: Will they weigh in on the Slifkin controversy?


Original post date: January 16, 2005

I'm glad they said something. I'm not sure I like what they said...

Updates: I don't like what they said.
Paul, also, does not like what they said and his points are on target.
Daas Hedyot makes a good point.

Original post date January 28,2005

Gill writes: R. Emanuel Feldman brilliantly comments on the Slifkin controversy. hmmmm. Let's see.

The Following Are Real Time Thoughts That Occured to Me As I Read R' Feldman's Article

Hey, he can write! They ain't making Rabbis like that anymore. Wonder where he went to school, and if he'd let his own kid go there.

Uh oh. Why is he bashing the Modern Orthodox? Ok, he's cleverly put the bashing into the mouth of a "highly intelligent baal-teshuva" but it's bashing all the same. He repeats that the same hoary myths about MO culture, and makes the same mistake about the MO approach that every yeshivish person makes. Why is he doing this?

Here's the nut of his attack on the MO: He looks at the MO masses, and pretend that their behavior defines the movement. But every single shortcoming he identifies among the MO masses are present to the same degree among the black hat masses. Casuallness. Materialism. It's all there. So why aren't the black hatters defined by their masses? Why are the black hatters defined by their rabonim instead? Couldn't he offer the MO the same courtesy and define MO by their rabonim? This dishonest approach is all too common, and its 100 percent unfair.

Oh my! When writing about the Haredim, he hedges: "I fully realize that many individual haredim are kind, generous, charitable, but the group comes across..." No similar bone was thrown to the MOs. They were denounced as a group, with no exceptions offerred. No mention was made of all the sincere, religiously scrupulous MOs. Why?

He writes: "After all, it was the cultural elite of the 20th century who were also the leaders of 20th century brutality, playing Bach while the crematoria did their work." Excuse me, but owning a record player, and knowing how to operate it does not make you a "cultural elite." This is a straw man. And a flabby one at that.

He writes: "Despite all this, the haredim have been most successful, and have really defeated the MO on the battlefield of ideas." No, they just have more children.

He writes: "They have a charismatic leadership, a consistent ideology, they are intensely Jewish, they sacrifice." Spoken like a man who has never been inside a Brooklyn shul, or on the sidewalk outside a Brookln starter-palace. Charisma? Sacrifice? You mean they bought a Lexus instead of a Mercedes?

He writes: "Their is purpose in their lives, spiritual strength, sanctity, self assurance - and these have attracted many Jews under their umbrella.Unlike the MO, they have little difficulty is retaining their next generation" Spoken like a man who's never been inside Yeshiva University. Is that Bes Medresh silent? Is there no purpose inside those walls? Has enrollment at Hesder Yeshivot dropped? The lies in this little sentance are too many to count.

Overall: What a disapointing hack job. And I don't know what Gil was talking about. This article doesn't discuss Slifkin. It's just a vile propoganda attack on the MO.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Hitler was not a liberal

Reprint of Clobbering Cross Currents
Original post date: Friday, April 29, 2005

One of the things that has fascinated me about Cross Currents is its occasional capacity to rise above the routine moral callousness of hack conservative punditry and attain a level of exquisite depravity normally reserved for villains in James Bond movies.

To wit, the claim by Yaakov Mencken that liberalism begat Hitler: "And none of [these societies and leaders from the past who persecuted Jews], not one, managed to create an era as bloody as the one created by that pinnacle of modern, sophisticated, democratic, liberal life—Germany, circa 1940."

Pretty sneaky, isn't he? If all you read was Cross Currents, your [nasty remark self-edited] and you'd think that Hitler was a good liberal, a direct result of German liberalism. Why you might even think that Germany, circa 1940, was the "pinnacle of modern, sophisticated, democratic, liberal life" and not a place where people were frequently shot on the street for no reason.

Unfortunately for Mencken and his anti-liberal slurs, Hitler wasn't a product of "modern, sophisticated, democratic, liberal life." Nor was his Germany, circa 1940, the pinnacle of anything, save thuggery, murder and supression.

Hitler wasn't liberal or the product of liberalism. He was a backlash against it. True, the world might have avoided Hitler if the German progressives had been stopped (as conservatives of the time may have wished) from transforming corrupt, monarchist Germany into a modern, liberal state, but the rise of Hitler isn't an argument against liberalism anymore than the rise of Islamic terrorism is an argument against Zionism or capitilism.

Anyway, who ultimately buried Hitler? The liberal democracies, of course.

Notable Comment: On the original post Moishe Potemkin wrote: "I'm also not quite sure why-if mistaken ideology isn't such a big deal-the Cross Currents staff is so in love with Roman Catholics, and so vitriolically opposed to Reform Judaism. Other than validating their bigotry against, well, you know who."

Riding Yakov Menken

Reprint of: Riding Yaakov Menken
Original post date: Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Cross-Currents: Riding with the Amish

Says Yakov Menken: I was a bit disappointed to learn that the “New Order Amish,” of which our driver is a member, drive cars—just because it is another sign of people losing their attachment to traditions"

Disappointed? What selfish nerve.

Yakov Menken, presumably, agrees that no law of God demands that cars be relinquished. In fact, Yakov Menken, presumably, owns a car, and presumably, he'd find it very difficult to go without one.

So why is Yakov Menken "disappointed" to discover that New Order Amish have cast off a
burden he does not accept upon himself?

Why is he "disappointed' to learn that some Amish no longer choose to endure the very real inconviniences of 19th century travel?

Is the good rabbi really asking the Amish to suffer simply so that you and I can enjoy the slight pleasure of smiling contentedly (or is it condecendingly) in the general direction of some poor Amish fellow during our annual chol hamoed trip to Lancaster? That's close to monstrous.

In fact, I think I finally understand Bellow's famous question: "Would you ask them to labor and go hungry while you yourself enjoyed Old-Fashioned Values?"

If you're Yakov Menken I guess the answer is "yes."

Notable comments: On the original post, Orthomom wrote: "I would have to agree with the Bear. Meaning well is not good enough. The piece really does reek of condescension. I would love to see the Jewish reaction if a similar article was written about an author's disappointment that Hasidic Jews have started to allow their wives out of the house, or some such stupidity. The Amish do not exist as a benchmark for tradition for Menken's purposes, or anyone else's." Also, Gil wrote several comments urging me to leave Yaakov Menken alone, and to "use [my] obvious talents to harrass FrumTeens instead.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?