Monday, June 27, 2011

Half right about half shabbos

Is it a crises that some Orthodox Jewish teenagers text on shabbos? I don't think so. First, I don't think the "problem" is as widespread as the Jewish Week claims. 50 percent? Please. If you're going to make an accusation like that, Jewish Week, lets hang it on something a bit more rigorous than "some say". (WHO says? And why should we believe them?)

But my real reason for objecting to all this self-righteous hand-ringing is that I don't think its ever been unusual for MO teens to experiment with a-halachic behavior. Lots of male MO teens have girls friends. Would you agree that as many as half aren't shomer negiah? And what happens? In almost all cases, the kids grow up, marry Jews, and  live MO-style Torah true lives. Though the Jewish Week tries mightily to make half shabbos seem like something very very threatening to the spiritual well-being of the Jewish people,  they're honest enough to provide this nugget of information:
Chani stopped texting on Shabbat after three years, when her religious faith deepened. She said she knows many other teens who gave up Shabbat-texting after returning from a post-high school year in Israeli yeshivas.
 So why are we pretending this is something more serious than a typical, youthful indiscretion?


Here's Harry:
I do think it is a failure of modern Orthodoxy that this has happened at all. Just as there has been an under-emphasis in many Charedi schools of Bein Adam L’Chaveiro there is an under-emphasis in many MO schools of Bein Adam L’Makom.
He's right and he's wrong. MO Jews (their insanity about Zionism aside) do tend to care more about Bein Adam L’Chaveir, but that's a feature not a bug. MO Jews, generally, create schools and institutions that focus most on honesty, good manners, and the like. Because there are so many hours in the day, and only so many things you can fill a kids head with at once, Bein Adam L’Makom. commandments are, as Harry says, given less emphasis. As a result, an MO "failure" is an upstanding guy who's not very strict about shabbos -- which is a trade the MO community seems willing to make. On the other hand, the Charedi community tends to make the very opposite bargain. They focus on God, and under-emphasize things like honesty, manners, exercise, etc. As a result their "failures" are devout servants of God who are also misogynistic, functionally illiterate fraudsters who eat cholent 24/7.

Anytime you make omlets you break eggs. I happen to to get angrier about the eggs broken when making the Haredi omlet, then I do about the eggs that break in pursuit of the MO version. To me, the latter seems like a real crises, and the former does not.

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