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Friday, May 10, 2013

What will his Rosh Yeshiva say?

Rabbi Dov Lipman - the house Haredi of the Yesh Atid party - has penned an open letter to the Baltimore Jewish community in which he defends himself against "an audio tape in which I am quoted as saying something which I never said and anyone who knows me knows I would never say."

What he doesn't mention is that he was responding to being lambasted by Rabbi Aharon Feldman, the Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore, where Lipman was ordained.
Rabbi Aharon Feldman, the rosh yeshiva of Baltimore’s ultra-Othodox Ner Israel Rabbinical College, called Lipman a “wicked” apostate and said his positions on Jewish education do not represent the values taught by the institution from which he received rabbinic ordination.


“The positions and statements of MK Lipman in no way reflect the views and education of Yeshiva Ner Israel,” Feldman wrote in a letter published by the Haredi magazine Mishpacha on Tuesday. “Our yeshiva is based on the foundation that the study of Torah is the very soul of the Jewish people. Therefore it is our opinion that no individual or government institution that calls itself Jewish has the right to hinder in any way those who dedicate their lives to Torah study.”


“I am asking one thing of you,”  UTJ lawmaker Yaakov Asher last week told Lipman in the Knesset, “don’t say you’re Haredi, because you’re not.”
In a Torah lecture last week, Feldman, who was born in Baltimore and become the head of the prestigious Ner Israel in 2001, suggested that Lipman is a “wicked” man and compared him to the historic enemies of the Jewish people.

Without mentioning the Yesh Atid MK by name, Feldman said that “one of our former talmidim (students)” said he intended to “close down” all religious high schools because they don’t sufficiently teach secular studies. He then called Lipman a “shanah u’piresh,” or apostate, a term sometimes used in the ultra-Orthodox world to describe someone who, having been versed in Torah studies, turns his back on his heritage.
“I don’t know how he was corrupted; he didn’t learn it here in yeshiva,” Feldman said, according to a recording of the lecture obtained by the Baltimore Jewish Life website. Feldman went on to bemoan that “forces” in Israel are trying to undermine Orthodox Jewish education.

The essence of the Jewish people is dedication to Torah study and “to learn as much as possible,” he said. “And, they’re trying to say they love us. They’re doing it because they love us. They hate us, they hate Torah.”

Feldman then vowed that “little minds” who are only chasing honor will not succeed in uprooting Torah, clearly referring to Lipman and his Yesh Atid colleagues. “In a few years they’ll be gone; there will be nothing left of them; no history left of them,” he said. While they might temporarily cause trouble for yeshiva students, their fate will be similar to that of Amalek, Feldman added, referring to the biblical arch-enemy of the Jewish people.
Lipman responded:
1) The Israeli government should not fund institutions which don't teach basic math and English.  Yeshivos which don't do so will not be closed down but they won't receive government funding.  It should be pointed out that there are numerous yeshivos which already take zero government money and continue to flourish. Adina Bar Shalom, Rav Ovadiah Yosef's daughter appeared before the Knesset task force to help Haredim enter the work force which I founded and begged us to implement math and English because 50 percent of the boys in her chareidi college drop out due to their lack of math and English.  I meet regularly with chareidi young men who are still completely in the chareidi world and they tell me that the one thing which is necessary is some basic math and English.  I believe it is a sound decision for a government to make and look forward to seeing the yeshiva ketanos flourish and continue producing gedolei Torah while teaching basic math and English.  Ironically, the basis for my supporting this plan knowing that gedolei Torah can still be produced if general studies are taught is actually Ner Yisrael which produces.
Read the whole thing.

Rabbi Feldman lived in Israel for more than 40 years, and all of his children and grandchildren live in Israel.  He knows exactly who Yair Lapid is and exactly what's going on. I have heard similar reactions to Rabbi Feldman's from every rabbi I have spoken to on this trip.

The rest of what Lipman writes is disingenuous.

That first paragraph has some basis to it, but the math can be picked up without learning it in high school. English is a separate issue. Israel cannot be turned into America overnight. Cutting off all funding for all but 1,800 Torah scholars (who will choose them and on what basis?) is a death sentence for the yeshivas - it ensures that anyone who wants to learn full time will live in perpetual abject poverty. And Lipman either knows it or he's a naive fool.

I don't like to talk about my family on this blog, but I will say that my five children who are over the age of 18 all got bagrut (matriculation) certificates. But what's right for my kids may not be right for others, and they ought to have the freedom to make their own decisions.

By the way, I am now in Chicago and not in Boston. Posting will likely be light through Sunday.

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At 6:01 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Rav Lipman was one of my sons teachers in Reichet . its a pity he has come to this.

At 5:04 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...


I am personally quite outraged that you have said the following:

That first paragraph has some basis to it, but the math can be picked up without learning it in high school. English is a separate issue. Israel cannot be turned into America overnight.

So you believe that people can sort of just "pick up" algebra and calculus casually on the street? On what basis do you believe this? And you think that English, which is the lingua franca of international business, should not be learned as that would be "becoming like America"???

The bottom line is that you do not appear to value secular education and you have no problem consigning an entire generation of Haredim to the twin nightmares of abject ignorance and abject poverty. It is disgusting that you can so casually dismiss the fact that Haredim do not learn Math and English as no big deal. It is honestly also rather hypocritical of you, who has an Ivy League education, and who I am sure has taught your children about the secular world and given them a math and science education to then say that others should not be as fortunate.

Moreover, none of this is based upon Torah. In fact there is no tradition of an entire society of Jews sitting on their bums and not earning a parnassa. This is an unheard of un-Jewish practice and as such what you defend is not even based on Halacha!

Then you go on:

Cutting off all funding for all but 1,800 Torah scholars (who will choose them and on what basis?) is a death sentence for the yeshivas - it ensures that anyone who wants to learn full time will live in perpetual abject poverty. And Lipman either knows it or he's a naive fool.

In fact the Haredim should be living in poverty if they choose to be doing nothing all day. Do you really believe that an entire society are all Torah sages? On what basis do you believe this? Because there is no basis for this belief.

I know too many Haredim personally who sit on their bums and have their wives support them as they "learn" (i.e., do nothing). "Learning" is codeword for being allergic to work. This has become a disease that has spread throughout the society, and you support this?

Not to mention that most of these Haredim are anti-Zionist and want nothing less than Israel to cease to exist as a state. And you call yourself a Zionist?


At 6:26 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Red Tulips,

See here:


"The week before the elections, I heard Naftali Bennett speak at a conference for Haredi high-tech entrepreneurs. He admitted that if a Haredi had walked into his high tech company in Herzliya (the one he sold several years ago), the Haredi would not have been hired regardless of his qualifications.

"He also demolished the argument that it's necessary to force Haredi schools to have a 'core curriculum' for the kids to be able to go out and work as adults. He said that everything can be made up later except for English. He said that people who study Talmud all their lives pick up the math in no time, and that the rest of the 'core curriculum' is not necessary to work.

"So what's the real goal of Yair Lapid and the seculars? As far as I can tell, it's to shut the yeshivas down."

I stand by what I wrote before the elections.

At 6:53 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...

So you believe that because Naftali Bennett claimed - in a vote-getting measure, mind you (without showing statistics) - that Haredim are simply able to "pick up" math and science later in life, this means that it is okay to keep children purposefully dumb in Haredi yeshivot?

There is no denying that some Haredim are able to learn Math/Science/English later in life. So what? What about most Haredim?

If Haredim learn secular studies and then are not hired by tech firms and what have you - does that mean they should not learn? What about learning for learning's sake? What about the fact that if Chilonim discriminate against Haredim in hiring, then you should also go after the Chilonim? You are advocating nothing short of a double crime. Because Chiloni (seculars) may or may not adequately hire Haredim, therefore it is totally fine to keep them stupid.

By that logic, African Americans should never have had an improved education system in the USA. What was the point, since there was discrimination against them anyway? Might as well keep them stupid because there are no opportunities for advancement.

I view it as nothing short of criminal negligence to allow a generation of Haredim to grow up stupid and without any useful skills to earn a parnassa.

This is a giant shame upon the Jewish people and an absolute Chillul Hashem.


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