Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?
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Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

December 05, 2018 08:05AM
Michael Berkowitz’s response to my post criticizes me for suggesting as a possible reading of Dr. Hendel that all people who abandon frumkeit simply want to have a good time. “All people” indeed reads too much into the original post but Dr. Hendel’s post certainly indicates that the search for physical satisfaction is the norm. His post is not just about Tova Mirvis but about people leaving the path in general. Hendel writes that: “So basically, I consider Tova a classic run of the mill case of off the derech, leaving the Jewish path because of lack of physical satisfaction”. He later adds: “typically people who leave religion do not have a serious intellectual problem. Rather they are bored and want fun and excitement.” This certainly states that lack of physical satisfaction and a desire for fun is the standard and common reason to leave Yahadut. Trying to catch me for writing “all people” is a distraction from the thrust of Hendel’s post and my objection to it.

Michael also does not approve of my usage of the term “unfair.” Fairness here refers to the rules of fair play in a debate or argument. If you say that you struggle with belief due to the Holocaust or the command to annihilate Amalek and I respond that you are acting out anger towards your father, you want to fool around or you want to be known as a woke intellectual/liberal, that is not playing fair. Even though that response will be on target in some cases, there is no justification for it being the default response.

Michael writes: “but there’s nothing inherent that prevents one side from being right while the other – making similar claims – is wrong.” In other words, it is possible that people become frum for authentic reasons while they leave the path for frivolous reasons. Yes, this is logically possible but unless one has solid arguments for such a distinction, it seems rather arbitrary.

He further writes: “Agreed that cheeseburgers are probably not a major motivator, but those are easy to find. The desire to think of oneself as “enlightened”, for example.” Apparently, the desire to appear enlightened is a more convincing case for why the apikorsim exercise bad faith. Let us remove cheeseburgers and place his idea in my original paragraph:

Many of us in education have counseled students who desperately wanted to maintain their faith with a portion of them succeeding more and others less. Some of them had experienced severe difficulties such as chronic medical problems or the death of a close relative. To say that they were actually motivated by the desire to think of themselves as enlightened seems almost obscene.

It still works for me.

An inability to understand why undergoing a personal tragedy could affect one’s faith reveals a lack of emotional understanding. Of course, logically, the problem of evil is the same whether I suffer or someone else does. Yet humans are not Spock like robots. The path to faith and to unbelief often runs through more emotional and experiential corridors. A child orphaned at a young age will often find it difficult to experience the warmth of the Divine hand.

In between my two posts, I read Tova’s book. She certainly could have portrayed more of the goodness and wisdom of our tradition but it is inaccurate to say that she slanders that tradition. Michael, have you read the book? If not, I suggest that you should not have written: “Slandering God, slandering the Jewish people, slandering Jewish belief, the rabbis, Halacha… is slander – even if nobody complains about hurt feelings. People should approach such statements with trepidation, and when they’ve been too blithe we should pull them up short”. Perhaps you will respond that you were making a general point about critics of Judaism and not writing about Tova per se but, given the fact that Dr. Hendel accuses Tova of slander, you should have been explicit about that.

Yitzchak Blau



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/05/2018 08:06AM by mlb.
Subject Author Posted

Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Moshe Simkovich October 17, 2018 06:18PM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Yaakov Bieler October 17, 2018 06:44PM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Elisha Paul October 17, 2018 06:57PM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Pesach Sommer October 18, 2018 03:14PM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Meshulam Gotlieb October 20, 2018 07:58PM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Jonathan Kroll October 23, 2018 11:26AM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Yosef Goldberg October 23, 2018 11:39AM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Russell Jay Hendel October 30, 2018 08:03AM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Michael Berkowitz November 06, 2018 01:54PM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Yitzchak Blau November 13, 2018 08:53AM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Michael Berkowitz November 25, 2018 07:45PM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Yitzchak Blau December 05, 2018 08:05AM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Michael Berkowitz December 09, 2018 06:19PM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Rose Landowne November 06, 2018 07:52AM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Gideon Sylvester November 12, 2018 09:22AM

Re: Should Tova Mirvis’ memoir of leaving Orthodoxy be taught in yeshiva high schools?

Moshe Simkovich December 09, 2018 06:23PM



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