Sunday, January 16, 2011

Flyer advertising "Shabbos of Chizuk" reveals unflattering truths about the Torah True community.

Summary: Read with an unjaundiced eye, I think a flyer advertising a recent Shabbos of Chizuk reveals some unflattering truths about the Torah True community.

Every so often the Lakewood Roshei Yeshivot attempt to colonize new areas by participating in what's called a "Shabbos of Chizuk" with each Rosh Yeshiva functioning as something like a scholar-in-residence at one, or more, of the neighbored shuls. Drashot are given, friends are won, and after shabbos, checks are written. Aside from the fact that Lakewood has yet to reciprocate by inviting the Y.U Roshei Yeshivot to their town for a "RIETS Shabbos" its all good fun. The Roshei Yeshivot get to enjoy the many pleasures of a business trip; their groupies get to collect autographs or blessings or whatever; those with an abiding wish to be separated from their money are provided with a comfortable bkovidik forum where this can occur as painlessly as possible.

Recently, the RYs were in Monsey for an event advertised with the flyer you see below.

Interpolation: Calling this dog and pony show a Shabbos of Chizuk is a masterstroke. In context, the word chizuk means "strengthening"; out of context it might mean "hardening." Hardening men up before asking them for money is an age old game, no? And, in that vein, calling this a masterstroke was also a masterstroke! Ad kan vulgar puns. End Interpolation.

Read with an unjaundiced eye, I think the flyer reveals several unflattering truths about the Torah True community. See them after the jump:

They care too much about food: Nothing confesses a lack of faith in your guest speakers like overselling the food, and it seems mighty strange that five Torah giants aren't expected to draw an audience on their own. If five of the greatest movie stars were to appear in a community that boasts 24-7 about their abiding love of movie stars, do you think a hot buffet would be needed to bring in the crowds?   Related: I'm deeply amused to see that the flyer makes a point of mentioning that the buffet reception is "hot".  See my seminal post on the Hot Kiddush

They care too much about respect and honor: The secular world may value nothing but sports, money and porn, but would a flyer for a secular lecture tells us where the speaker spent the night? Aside from pleasing the big spender who bought the privilege of playing innkeeper for the weekend, what does it serve to tell us the host's name? And why does the earthly bastion of Torah, a place allegedly dedicated to the development of Torah personalities, engage in such a petty game of ego-stroking? If they are against arrogance, why do they encourage it?

Women are an afterthought: Note that the flyer tells us the name of only the male host. His wife's name is omitted. This is especially galling when you consider that the wife's father probably helped pay for the house, and that she likely directed the pre-shabbos cleaning and set-up. Doesn't that entitle her to a mention?

Prestige and charisma are more important than actual Torah:  Imagine five of the world's greatest chemists were to visit an area that self-identified as a chemistry-loving neighborhood of the first order. Certainly, the weekend might begin with a social reception of some kind, but wouldn't the highlight of the weekend be a high level lecture on some complicated chemistry-related topic? Wouldn't the visiting chemist be expected to talk to the local chemistry-lovers about their ongoing projects and research? Wouldn't the local chemistry lovers demand it? So what does this flyer tell us about Monsey, and their real feelings about Torah? You will note that it does not mention a single lecture or workshop on topics of Torah. If these men are such Torah genius, and the people of Monsey are such lovers of Torah why is the whole weekend about singing, and eating, and being inspired? Where are the shiruim? Where is the actual Torah?


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