Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We need it too

The following is a smart letter in the Yated, in the sukkos edition. The girl makes an excellent point, and as I was reading what she wrote, I was all like "wow, this girl is awesome!"

Dear Editor,

I'm pretty sure that I am speaking on behalf of many Jewish girls. I'm sure they will agree with me on an issue I've finally decided to voice my thoughts on.

A "frum-from-birth" person is born frum and born to live a religious lifestyle. She has no choice; she was born that way. She's expected to do all the mitzvos, no questions asked. Chas veshalom if you ask questions about Judaism. A baalas tshuvah, however, becomes frum on her own free will. Why? Because everything, Judaism and all the mitzvos, were explained to her, detail by detail. She asked myriad questions and she got answers. This was all probably through a kiruv organization.

"FFB's" however, are expected to act frum with no explanations. Judaism isn't explained to us. To whom should we address our questions without anyone's eyebrows being raised?

In school, lessons are being taught, but questions arise. You can't ask questions in school because, number one, there are too many, and number two, because classmates and teachers will think you've gone crazy! Well, maybe not all my classmates, since I'm sure I'm not hte only one. After all, I'm a normal, smart, yeshivishe Bais Yaakov high school student from Monsey and no one suspects a thing. I'm actually considered one of the more yeshivishe and frum girls of my class, but I still harbor questions! So you never know, there are may be so many more like me.

Maybe Yiddishkeit can be explained to frum Bais Yaakov girls as much as it's explained in a kiruv shiur or a kiruv camp.

Thank you.


What I find most fascinating is how she feels that since she's yeshivish it somehow unthinkable that she should have a question.

There is sooooo much wrong with today's frummies that it goes beyond anything I can discuss on a blog.


EsPes said...

that girl IS awesome :-)

frumskeptic said...


And it was a great way to begin the weeks Yated reading, becasue it was the first letter! lol. :-)

Though the other letters, which were dumb, were definitly funny! :)

OTD said...

What surprises me is that the yated actually agreed to print such a thing.

Nomadically Teaching said...

This is where Aish Hatorah does a lot of good. You don't have to be a baal teshuva to go there, and they will break it down and start from scratch.

Sometimes You have to go back to basics. There's no shame in that.

Rich said...

I think that too many yeshivas and girl's schools just assume that everyone buys into orthodox Judaism hook,line & sinker. Unfortunately, they either willfully ignore or are ignorant of the fact that many students are not on board.

While some people still move away from orthodox judaism, i think they could "save" many of the borderline kids with an open forum for questioning. If the whole purpose of Jewish education is to train the next generation or orthodox Jews, then this should be a no brainer for them. Too bad it usually isn't

frumskeptic said...

joodah- as much as I like aish @ think it os safe to assume many of the Yated readers (school age wise) have no access to the net. its wither in the house and the don't know about it or they're not allowed tto use it without parental guidance- which wouldn't help the problem.

RP- it should be a no brainer but the system these days truly sux and hasgone the Christian path of blind faith

G6 said...

I also agree that this is an IMPORTANT letter.
And I'm also VERY surpised that the Yated chose to print it - THAT IN ITSELF is a sign of growth in the right direction.
I'm curious to see what answers come in.
Please keep us posted!!

Lion of Zion said...

i'm also surprised that yated would print such an indictment of frum education


"This is where Aish Hatorah does a lot of good. You don't have to be a baal teshuva to go there . . ."

BY girls don't go to aish institutions/functions.

"There's no shame in that."

there is if a decent shidduch resume is of concern.

Jewish Side of Babysitter said...

that was a great letter.
that's why I loved sem so much, because they discussed these things that weren't discussed in HS. Plus I was able to ask questions. Someone online actually asked me a question, and I went to the Rabbi in my sem and asked him the question and he answered me, then I told over the answer to the guy, so it was very cool. The Rabbi told the answer so clearly and he didn't look down at me at all for asking it. He made it seem like he gets that question a lot, that he was able to answer it straight away.

FrumSkeptic, since I know you love letter to the editors, its so funny for me to see this post now after I just posted a letter to the editor kinda thing. I was going to link to you but then I would have to fish back for an old post where you wrote about a letter to the editor, and now I have it here right in front of me, so I'll link you.

Off the Derech: I would think that is a perfectly printable article, it's such a good point, the overall goal is to get answers, to help Jews with Yiddishkeit, so why not print it and perhaps change something about the chinuch system.

Joodah: Aish is very good! I always search there when I'm wondering about topics.

FrumSkeptic: but it's not supposed to be about blind faith. After all it says "A chacham/wise person, is one who asks questions" Talmidim are always asking questions. Even there's a famous story which people forget about. Where a Rav asked a question to students to pick the top boy. No one can answer it, so he left, as he was leaving one boy chased him down and said, "it's troubling me, what's the answer" then the Rav picked that boy as the top one, that he actually cared to know the answer and not just be the one chosen.

Rich said...

I agree with you that it has become so much like Christian blind faith. However, even in places where questioning of Judaism is allowed, you still can't come up with your own answers and remain within accepted orthodox teachings.

Skeptic said...

Jews are born to question. That is what separates us from the goyim. If you take that away, you take the whole religion away. Also, if people say certain things are bad for shidduchim, don't marry someone who cares about this nonsense. If you think going to Aish HaTorah is bad for shidduchim, go out with people who will respect you for it. That is why there is a shidduch crisis. People care too much about silly things.

Nomadically Teaching said...

"there is if a decent shidduch resume is of concern."

Yeah, call me when you come back to reality. If Girls have enough sense to ask questions, but not enough sense to go to the places that have the answers, they have no one to blame but themselves.

frumskeptic said...

BABYSITTER- listening to everythign rabbi's say is blind faith. Most of the time questioning a norm of the JEws is considered somehow antisemitic.

My father gets called an anti-semite ALLLLLL the time by idiots in shul. They pretend they're joking, but I know they very much mean it.

RP- "However, even in places where questioning of Judaism is allowed, you still can't come up with your own answers and remain within accepted orthodox teachings."

True. Which is why I think orthodoxy should not put so much emphasis on literal meaning, or if they do, atleast be accepting of a "modern" type theme in which science AND religion mix. Or else you get nowhere.

In life you can't know all the answers, so there is a certain faith that would be based anyway. But atleast you shouldn't be shunned for not buying everything you hear.

frumskeptic said...

Ophir- What you're saying makes ALOT of sense. Normal point. The problem is, most Yated readers, and brooklyner's generally live in a world in which commonsense is not so common.

Skeptic said...

Well then that is sad and pathetic. People need to think for themselves. That is why Obama is going to win. People don't think for themselves.

frumskeptic said...

well- hopefully if Obama wins, they'll find his birthcertificate says he ISNT a US citizen. Trial is novermber 7th. :)

Though that IS wishful thinking, afterall, he's had plenty of time to buy a new birth certificate...can you say bribe? lol

Skeptic said...

As much as I do not like Obama, I can't imagine him getting this far and the RNC not doing anything. I would love for him to be a fraud.

frumskeptic said...

but its not the RNC's job. They presented it to the courst (that his birth certificate was never found), and the trial will only be November 7th.

OTD said...

I think Judaism has always been about blind faith.
It's just a kiruv trick to say otherwise.

Jewish Side of Babysitter said...

FrumSkeptic: I think we once discussed this so I won't get all into it now. But basically your picking a Rav you believe in, you do your research and choose, but once you choose you have to subscribe to everything he says. But yet, if you don't understand it your allowed to question. Not always will you be satisfied with the answer. But then again remember not all the mitzvos do we have reasons for, Hashem gave us a concept of Chok which you even knew about the hair covering. So if it's a chok it's blind faith literally. But yet you know why your doing it. You can do something without understanding it, but yet feel good that you are doing the right thing, since you know it's in the Torah and a mitzvah from Hashem. For the stuff Rabbi's in general say, which seem like silliness, not everyone follows it blindly, many people question it. Then some will follow and some won't. There's also the aspect of chassidim that follow their Rav whatever he says because of the respect they have for him, they see him as a leader and he is also involved in their every day lives, so he knows them and is connected with them on a personal level to be able to guide them. Just like a child who may not understand things when their young, but yet they can have trust in their parent to guide them because they respect the parent and think the parent knows best. Same concept, but it's still not called following blindly because you have a ultimate reason behind the following. Your not just following a random person, it's someone who you have matched goals with. Someone who is there for you, and to help you.

frumskeptic said...

1st thigns first- "IF" hair covering IS a halacha (which I do not beleive it is, with the research I've done), THEN it is a chok. lol

But yes...your point is correct, I do understand the concept of chok.

2- Each person has his own bechira.

Using your idea of subscribing to everything hte Rav says limits the concept of bechira, which is crucial to a person's service to Hashem.

3- Say you trust a Rav to the extent that you would agree to blindly follow, what happens when he begins to lose his mind (age, disease, etc), you wouldn't even know it. You'd be following things he's saying, when he's completely incompetent in doing so, even if in theory what he says makes sense.

Eventually when he goes really insane (not just the early steps), itll be to late, and you possibly did aveiros.

Remember, when you go to shamayim you won't be able to blame the guy by saying "but I trusted him, is it my fault?"

You'll only have yourself to blame.

4- what you said about kids.

kids DO blindly follow their parents, just cuz it happens to work out that the parents tend to have a natural interest in the well being of their children doesn't take away from the fact that kids put waaaaay to much emphasis on parents, the difference is, is that kids are naive and uneducated and don't have much of a choice. Whats a frum persons excuse?

Jewish Side of Babysitter said...

FrumSkeptic: 1- ok you may be right. I remember there was an old lady on my block who didn't cover her hair, and I think she told me that it's not a Halacha or something, so then since then I always thought it was optional. But then if it was optional then why would everyone make such a big deal over it? why would there be the 2 tfachim rule? that a woman could have 2 tfachim of her hair revealed before it becomes untznius to make a bracha in front of it. Or stuff like that.

2- your right that each person has their own bechira. Ok, so I may have exaggerated by saying you have to subscribe to everything. You do have the bechira to choose what you will follow. But just like following anything in life, you may have to do it but yet still have the choice to choose yes or no.

3- Good point, I don't like to think of them as going crazy and not knowing what their saying. But I don't think I've ever heard a story like that where it happened. They always seemed to have their brains till the day they died. Plus there are enough Rabbonim to consult that they would pick up on something that's wrong.

"Remember, when you go to shamayim you won't be able to blame the guy by saying "but I trusted him, is it my fault?"

You'll only have yourself to blame."

Not true, so long as you believe in a Rav you get no blame for following what he says. Of course not just any random person, but one you believe is saying the right thing.

4- ok, perhaps you may be right. But just like a kid is naaive and innocent and uneducated. A frum person can't possibly know the whole Torah inside out to know every Halacha and everything. Just like not everyone can be doctors and lawyers, and then you pick ones you trust and follow what they say because they are experts in that field. Same with a Rav, he has Smicha and is an expert on Halacha, he should know it to help you with the right choices. SO you put your faith in him.

frumskeptic said...

"Not true, so long as you believe in a Rav you get no blame for following what he says. Of course not just any random person, but one you believe is saying the right thing."

Thats a cop out.

In court, imagine you tell the judge, "But I trusted him, its NOT my fault"

I wouldn't think Hashem would buy it anymore than a "physical" judge. thats like pointing fingers "he made me do it"


"Same with a Rav, he has Smicha and is an expert on Halacha, he should know it to help you with the right choices. SO you put your faith in him."

Not the same. When parents direct kids, they make informed decisions. They read books, speak to other parents, and the combine what they know about their kids, and genuinly want what is best for the kid. A parent WANTS the future of his child to be a happy one. A Rabbi, as great a person as he is, cannot have that type of affection, nor the type of experience to be able to guide in all matters to the extent for you to subscribe to everything he says.

There should be NO reason why you couldn't ask for advice from other Rebbeim. Your parents shop around before making major decisions for you, believe me.

Mikeinmidwood said...

I was shocked to hear it was in the Yated. Questons in hashkafa everyone has the wise ones ask it. Its true that many people will be called crazy, Shaigetz, Apikoris and so on if they ask but thats not supposed to happen, its only in the ghetto that we live in that created this idea if you question you are off the D.

Although When I was younger we never had a problem arguing with the rebbeim about our religion. We even asked our rebbi if you grew up christian would you not believe its the right religion? so we were brought up this way thats why we believe. He ended up giving a great answer which proves everything.

frumskeptic said...

you can't *prove* anything. even with the best answers, you can't really prove much. 'all speculation. We wont know anything 'til its over.

Lion of Zion said...


"Jews are born to question. That is what separates us from the goyim."


"Also, if people say certain things are bad for shidduchim, don't marry someone who cares about this nonsense . . ."

believe me, i don't make up the shiduch rules (nor did i have to follow them, as that's not my world)


"call me when you come back to reality"

call me when you want to see how things work in brooklyn


"But basically your picking a Rav you believe in, you do your research and choose, but once you choose you have to subscribe to everything he says."

even if this is true, isn't עשה לך רב for matters of הלכה? how can a rav tell me what to believe?

Maidel said...

I wrote a post about something similar a while ago:


It's pretty crazy that girls are considered 'apikores' if they ask too many questions. i have one Bais Yacov friend that was thrown out of her class. Pretty sad.

frumskeptic said...

to whoever asked me to send follow up letters to the editor-

There were about 3 letters responding to the girl. All three are pro-asking questions and said the girl is right. One lady wrote about how her daughters school specifically hired a Rav to come in and answer questions with patience.

One person even mentioned going on Aish, or reading books geared towards kiruv. :)

Though, I wonder if anyone will listen to this, or how secure the girl will be to bring such books home.

mlevin said...

Well, one letter in Yated said, that usually students ask questions in order to disrupt the class... I think that is a general attitude of the teachers, because it is very uncommon for children to be curious...

Jewish Side of Babysitter said...

FrumSkeptic: but it's really true about a Rav. Your not doing it as a cop out. Plus Hashem's court is different than people's courts. Hashem has the Teshuva aspect, where he lets people repent. In real court if your found guilty you get punished no matter how much "charata" you have.

Ok, perhaps it's not the same, but it always says that a Rav's students are like his children.

If it's a general question you can shop around for answers from different Rabbi's. But then how do you know which one to listen to. Your going to have conflicting opinions, so will you just take the lenient one from all the different Rabbi's you get for every question you ask?

The reason why asking parenting questions is different then asking Rabbi questions. Is because by parenting there's no set rule or way for things to work, there's no method or "torah" book of rules for parenting, so there's no interpretation. Here, by Rabbi's questions its based on interpretations of the Torah, so your following one interpretation by following one Rabbi. If you shop around, then your not being consistent with your interpretation.

Jewish Side of Babysitter said...

FrumSkeptic: About the topic of questions. I wrote in a comment on MikeInMidwood's post about what my Reb said. But I'm sure if you saw it, so I'll repeat it. Basically, she agreed with this letter in the Yated. She probably didn't read it, but she brought up the issue about questions, how we need to teach our children reasons and stuff. I mentioned what the letter in the yated said and she agreed, and she's Chassidish, so I was very surprised. Ok, now instead of repeating everything I said before, I'll just link to his post with the comment I wrote. Comment's for The Right Kollel

Lion Of Zion: perhaps it's just for Halacha. Where does a Rav tell you what to believe?

FrumSkeptic: forgot to mention, that the Reb of my shul also said that her great grandfather taught her grandmother Gemara. I was shocked to hear that. So it's not an avaira after all.

Mlevin: that was said sarcastically, right? That's a good point, a lot of times teachers won't answer questions cause they believe the class just wants to waste time. We had one teacher who answered every question and everything, that the whole year, we only learned like 5 posukim.

frumskeptic said...


I used to ask questions just to waste time :). It was great. The teachers thought I was serious, cuz I'm an awesome actress. :). There were MANY times I was serious, but many times I was appointed to ask questions by other students to get a conversation going so we don't learn. :). We ended up learning ALOT because of those questions, but they didn't require notes, soo it was fun type learning ;)

about Rabbis- its NOT true. You don't ask your Rabbi to do tshuva for you, you do tshvua yourself, because you and ONLY you, are responsible for the decisions you make.

If the rabbi is wrong, you're wrong. No doubt in my mind.

Jewish Side of Babysitter said...

FrumSkeptic: before I get back to responding to your comment, I just remembered something that I left out.

There was one time in HS where I sorta "rebelled" with a question to a teacher. We were learning how something is permanent just like you can't change a Black's skin color. (I forgot what it was in reference to, something in a haftorah) so then I said, but there was a black who changed his skin color. So then I was surprised when she actually knew what I was referring to, and said that Michal Jackson doesn't count, cause it's artificially changed, or something like that.

G*3 said...

The above comment is a great illustration of one of the problems with the yeshiva system. "We were learning how something is permanent just like you can't change a Black's skin color." The subtle racism is all too typical.

I can't speak for BYs, but boys' yeshivos aren't exactly welcoming of questions either. I was told that Yiddishkeit is accepting of questions, BUT don't say these things where other guys can hear. Don't burden them. In other words, if they have blind faith, don't make them have to think about things.

There's nothing more dangerous to the schools than questions. Most teachers (and people in general) have never given their faith a second thought. Its just part of how the world works, like the sun rising in the morning. If a student aks questions about basics, it is disturbing both becuase the teacher doesn't know the answer and because it makes him/her think about things they have taken for granted. Good teachers will see this as a challenge. Those concerned with maintaining the status qou will see kids who ask uncomfortable questions as rebels, potentailly off the derech. I was as 'good' as they come, never (ok, rarely) broke any rules, yet asking basic questions got me branded as a rebel.

Jewish Side of Babysitter said...

FrumSkeptic: :-) would have been so much fun being in your class!

Fun type learning is the best, and you remember it the most.

Right, the Rabbi's don't do T'shuva for you. I said it as 2 separate points. Although the Rabbi's do have a different T'shuva and tefilah because they are responsible for the people. Although, I'm not denying that people have to be responsible for their own actions. I'll try to find something that explains what I'm trying to say.

G3: the teacher didn't make that up, it's written in a verse in the prophets.

Your right about the issue of the questions. So that has to be changed so that it becomes more accepting, and that teachers should address these issues and not take it for granted that the students are content wit the way things are.

Jewish Side of Babysitter said...

FrumSkeptic: So I was by a shiur today, I posted about it, but I'll sum it up for you, of what made me think about you. I was very shocked when he said something.

He said he's writing a new book about OCD, he said it's something the frum people have. So he said that people shouldn't be calling a Rav every minute to ask questions of whether something to do with Bossor or Cholov is still Kosher. He said that people should have self esteem to believe that they know the answer and are making the right choice. That they shouldn't think they have to ask a Rav every minute to make sure they are doing the right thing. So when I heard that I thought of you, that you for sure are good in that regard, that your confident in your choices and what you believe makes sense.