Tuesday, August 03, 2004

This blog is about rants, right?

Well, my planned rants are now yesterday's news. One involved some guy that smuggled artifacts from Iraq, got arrested, and hid behind a Jewish phrase. A nice chillul hashem (worse in Iraq, already prone to Jew-hatred, where it came up, I believe) made worse, and so, of course, Brafman for the defense. Note: If you don't want to have the image of a "mob lawyer," it helps not to dress and style your hair like one. Well, it helps even more not to defend mobsters, but hey. Anyway, yesterday's news. Hopefully, Brafman will be one day as well.

Another rant involved the fact that of forty-odd books on Barnes & Noble's "Meet the Writer" list for August, approximately one-quarter- one-quarter- are anti-Bush. (One, by Malachy McCourt, seems particularly silly). Don't these people realize how over-the-top they've gotten with this sheer hatred of the man?

On that topic, the radio informed me this morning that Mrs. Kerry, a.k.a. (within the Kerry campaign) "Stepmoney," responded to a bullhorn-wielding protestor shouting "Four more years!" by starting a chant of "Three more months!" Um, Mrs. K.: Presidential terms end in January, not November. Our favorite Mozambiquan also stated that Republicans want "Four more years of Hell." Hell? What? Have the last four years (apart from one terrible day) really been that bad?

Hell, by the way, is the news media picking up Dean's wacky claim that the latest terror alert is politically motivated with such alacrity. Again, don't they realize how hateful and, well, just plain predictable they've become?

Well, on to the glory that is Jonathan Rosenblum.

Rosenblum includes a tricky and cute (he hopes, hopes that I will dash) line in his piece apologizing to Ephraim Zuroff. Zuroff has claimed that during World War II, the Vaad Ha-Hatzalah was only saving yeshiva people. Rosenblum points out, incidental to his main point, that the Vaad included both Charedi and "Mizrahi" (sic) rabbis. (Use of the word "Mizrachi" is a dead giveaway that one is fighting fights of the 1950's, or was taught by someone who did.) And therein lies an interesting sociological point.

A few years back, Moshe Meiselman, nephew to the Rav, wrote an essay in Tradition about his uncle's views on contemporary issues, especially women's prayer groups.* There was an interesting footnote where Meiselman suggests that Kol Dodi Dofek isn't as Zionist as people think it is.** (Let's grant this ridiculous assertion for a moment.***) He then wonders: Why do Religious Zionist schools teach it?****

This, of course, is Meiselman projecting his views on others. Since he's a happy book-banner in his own yeshiva- he even banned his own mother's memoir because it was too truthful about history- he assumes that everyone else is, and should shun books they don't agree with. Of course, the whole point of Modern Orthodoxy (well, one of them) is lack of fear- just because we disagree doesn't mean we have to avoid something. (Me, I studied the Satmar Rebbe's point of view on Zionism in YU. More to follow.)

This mindset is what gets Rosenblum to try his little "trick." After all, Rosenblum reveres his gedolim. To him, they can't do any wrong. Therefore, with his blinkered worldview, he assumes that Modern Orthodox Jews feel the same. So if he points out that the rabbis Zuroff is criticizing include some "Mizrachi" ones, then Modern Orthodox Jews' reaction should be, in his mind, "Oh, 'our' gedolim did the same thing! We'd better shut up!" Of course, one point of Modern Orthodoxy is that gedolim are not sacrosanct, so Rosenblum's little ploy falls flat.*****

Thinking of Rosenblum led me to some questions on Zionism, which I shall post later.

*When criticized, Meiselman's only defense boils down to "I'm the Rav's nephew, so shut up." Come to think, that's probably how he gets to appear in Tradition in the first place. Why he'd want to be in Tradition is beyond me. Probably because no one further to the right cares what the Rav thought. Maybe his nephew-hood pasuls him elsewhere. Poor man.

**This is a classic example of how Da'as Torah operates. While claiming to follow gedolim blindly, it often boils down to changing the views of gedolim to suit oneself. After all, one can't reject gedolim (more on this further on), especially if it's the one gadol who's your meal-ticket to get Modern Orthodox followers, as the Rav is for Meiselman, but one really doesn't want to change one's own views. Ergo, the gedolim's views are altered, ironically.

***Of course, the essay is complex, but it's still more Zionist than Meiselman would like to think.

****He does not ask why they teach it "as Zionist literature," which would make (slightly) more sense. (My God, this has turned into an anti-Rosenblum piece with an anti-Meiselman piece tacked on as footnotes.)

*****If it's a footnote, it must be Meiselman. Anyway, he, of course, is falling into the same trap by trying to prove a point based on what the Rav felt.


Anonymous said...

how are you related to Norman Lamm?

Nachum said...

You mean, how is he related to me? :-)