Monday, February 28, 2005

Boycott the Siyum!

Some rain on the Siyum Daf Yomi parade. Money quote:
While others around us rush to join in what they see as an opportunity to honor accomplishment in Torah study, we can, respectfully, disagree. When schools plan trips to attend the celebration, we can decline to be included. When others, in our presence, speak of how lovely and wonderful an event it will be, we can offer some analysis of the flaws spoken of here.

Staying away from communal Torah gatherings is and should be a difficult choice. But experience shows that a phenomenon such as Daf Yomi, enticing precisely because it relieves people of the obligation to take responsibility for growing in their knowledge of and understanding of Torah, will rule the day unless it is met with a reasoned and well - articulated opposition.

We usually boycott only that to which we object so strongly that we cannot stomach participating, that our presence would so necessarily imply approval, however limited, that we must remove ourselves from it. We should boycott the Siyum haShas not because it meets those criteria, but because it is the only way we have to shake our community out of its attachment to a practice that, as many admirable qualities as it has, is ultimately destructive for implementing study of Torah as a central value of the Jewish religion and of avodat Hashem.
Let it be said that the author, Rabbi Gidon Rothstein, is Orthodox and an instructor at a prominet day school, one that feeds students to Yeshivot like Gush, Shalavim, and KBY, as well as Yeshiva University.