Monday, August 13, 2012

More Siyum HaShas 2nd thoughts from an Ortho rav

My An interesting juxtaposition shows the first round of second thoughts.  What follows below is round two.

Orthodox Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald has published A Radical Proposal for the Organizers of the Siyum HaShas.  His observation?   " . . . it seems that one element, perhaps the most important element, of the study of Torah is missing: that of “Velimadetem et b’neichem” – “And you shall teach your children.” Ironically, many men have little or no spare time to study with their children precisely because they are so deeply involved in the daily daf."  His "radical proposal"?  " . . . I would like to suggest that a new program be added to the Daf Yomi routine, perhaps to be known as Sha’ah Yomit, the daily hour. Those fathers (or grandfathers) who study the daf should make a commitment to study with their children or grandchildren one hour a day. In this way, they will properly fulfill the full mitzvah of studying Torah, the way it was originally intended."

"The Daf Yomi should not be used as an excuse not to study with one’s children. . . . Too many fathers, for too long, have abrogated their responsibility of educating their children directly."

This article reminds me of a 2004 complaint published by British Chassid "The Shaigetz."  In his post Ai Du, he discussed a similar problem:

"It seems that the Torah expects the couple to love and cherish each other in a way that is hardly possible within the rules and regulations we put out as law. The male of the species typically sits in kollel or goes to work for most of the day while the other half either works or looks after the king-size brood. In the evenings, most males will go back to shul after supper for Mincha Maariv (evening services) and are encouraged to learn some Torah then. When you remember that maariv in the summer can be as late as 11pm. it is clear that there is not much time left for cleaving." 

I honestly don't understand how a traditionally-observant man can make time for his wife and children when he's obligated to spend so much of (what might otherwise be) his free time praying and studying.  Perhaps some of my more traditional readers can shed some light on this issue.


Anonymous jdub said...

I'll play along with your Ortho bashing trend until you get back to Conservo bashing.

1) Minyan in the morning is often on the way to work. Time that would otherwise be spent sleeping.

2) Daf Yomi and other learning often takes place at lunch time instead of reading or hanging out with coworkers.

3) Mincha/ma'ariv takes 1/2 an hour max. You're telling me you don't waste that much time watching tv or doing something similarly frivolous.

This is a red herring. I go to minyan, learn, and have plenty of time for my family. I don't get as much sleep as I'd like, but who does?

Tue Aug 14, 10:29:00 AM 2012  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Okay, granted, I don't get as much sleep as I'd like, either.

Trying to be respectful, so that I'm not perceived as "Ortho bashing." Not succeeding, apparently. Apologies.

Re Conservo bashing, it's bad enough when people's cell phones ring in shul on Shabbat, but this past Shabbat, we had a winner--a congregant actually *answered* a cell phone call & conducted a phone conversation right in the sanctuary! Nu, if you need to carry a cell phone due to fear of a health emergency, at least keep the darned thing turned off!

Tue Aug 14, 11:05:00 AM 2012  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Light-blogging alert--I don't expect to have much time to spend in front of a computer for the next couple of weeks.

Tue Aug 14, 11:06:00 AM 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What Jdub describes, Modern Orthodox observance, absolutely integrates with other aspects of life. It has time for all of these pursuits... given that the average American watches around 2.8 hours of television a day, there is plenty of slack in the day.

Daf Yomi is designed for working men, it's designed to be compartmentalized and work with a demanding life.

Now, the life Jdub describes is VERY different from the one in your post.

This does raise the question, if Yeshivish life crowds out Torah values in the name of Torah study, why is that "very religious" behavior?

Tue Aug 14, 06:18:00 PM 2012  
Anonymous Ryan S. said...

I'm an observant BT and I completely agree with your post. It's for the reasons you describe I don't learn daf yomi in shul after work/dinner. My wife wants nothing more than for us to hang out at night when I'm done with work, and I'm not about to take off for shul to go learn daf yomi knowing that. Would she be okay with me doing otherwise? Yes. Is every minute we spend at home at the end of the day productive? No. But am I home? Yes. And for her, that's what counts. I can imagine that many other Torah observant wives feel the same way. But they convince themselves that this is how it has to be. I disagree. The entire point of learning Torah is to refine middot so that you become the kind of person that treats others the way you would like to be treated. By going to shul to learn at night when your wife misses you and wants you home (she does, trust me), you are to a certain extent hurting another human being - the most important one in your life. I can't imagine that's what Hashem wants. If you feel like you're going to explode if you don't learn something, then have your wife pick something she'd like to learn with you, and learn it together. This may not be the "popular" approach in the Orthodox world, but I think we should be more concerned with what Hashem (remember Him?) thinks of our treatment of others. Personally, if in the world to come He scolds me for not leaving my wife at home to learn daf yomi at night, so be it. I'll take full responsibility.

Wed Aug 15, 01:36:00 PM 2012  
Blogger Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

I didn't get the feeling you're Ortho bashing. In fact, you hit close to home for me.
At one point in the last cycle I realized my personal life was dedicated to my learning and I was failing miserably when it came to my kids.
I didn't have time to do the daf at work and if I did it at the end of the day I came home so late that I was already too tired to have the patience to sit down with my kids. But if I brought my learning home then I was annoyed that they kept bugging me when I was trying to learn.
So I think this post is absolutely relevant. If I'm sitting and learning the daf and my kid is watching movies because no one has time to do stuff with him, how much am I fulfilling my responsibility as a Jewish parent?
But I do disagree with one thing. A whole hour?! Really? Try to get the average kid to sit there for 15 minutes and then we're talking.

Mon Aug 20, 04:26:00 PM 2012  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

I'm not ignoring you, I just haven't had much time on a computer.

This is a classic Jewish conversation--2 Jews, 3 opinions. :) I see a nice diversity of experiences and approaches here.

Garnel said, "A whole hour?! Really? Try to get the average kid to sit there for 15 minutes and then we're talking."


Been there, done that.

Tue Aug 21, 08:36:00 AM 2012  
Blogger Pragmatician said...

Great post and a very true point is made. I never thought of it that way really.

I did hear from someone that he learns at home (not with the kids) where the kids can see him learning, rather than telling them he learns every day he is showing them he is, and that is a step in the right direction.

Tue Aug 21, 09:19:00 AM 2012  

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