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.

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