Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Commentator ROCKS.

What an excellent Commentator!

This is an amazing last issue.

I love (and completely agree with) this.

Oh dear, Eitan...intellectual xenophobia? You're definitely riling people up in the last editorial of the year, but it's an excellent one. Kudos. Not that I agree with everything, of course, but well-argued, well-presented and well-done.

Norman Lamm writes beautifully about the Rav as a person. This is sad, actually. He mentions the Rav's intellectual honesty, his preference for truth over brilliance and his ability to admit that he did not know something. He also mentions that we should not cut the Rav down to size, nor should we honor him through excessive hero worship, as that is also a form of distortion.

Of course I agree with Rafi. Money quote: "I think that, as Orthodox Jews, change is more difficult for us because of the respect we maintain for traditional Judaism in the face of rampant assimilation." He goes on to argue why some change is necessary nonetheless.

This Center for Ethics sounds interesting. I heard her speak: she's the one who introduced the topic of surrogate motherhood and explained the issues from a secular standpoint.

Why do the guys get to go to Japan? So unfair. Humph...

I found this synopsis/ review of the MedEthics surrogacy event entertaining. Despite the fact that Rabbi Brander brought down God-knows-how-many sources, the reviewer chose to quote "Rabbi Elyashiv, perhaps the foremost scholar of our time in Jewish law" and "Rabbi Moshe Feinstein." Entertaining, eh? There's a misleading statement here: " Although the child would be considered Jewish according to the majority of Rabbis, everyone agrees that he should go through a conversion so there shouldn't be a situation where there are Jews that are only Jewish according to some people." It was my impression that not everyone agrees to this, but it's R' Zalman Nechemiah Goldberg's approach and Rabbi Brander's approach. Of course, it's quite possible that I'm mistaken.

Jeremy pens a rather damning piece about YU's delayed response to the tragedy at Virginia Tech. I only wonder whether he's right when he asks, "what was our initial instinct? Were we shocked and gripped by pain? Did we stop what we were doing and, perhaps, cry? What explains our anesthetized state?" Since I believe people are inherently good at the core, I would answer yes to these questions, and this anesthetized state is brought on by being afraid to handle everything and to deal with a lot of pain. Then again, it may be that I am wrong and people truly are desensitized. I'd like to be right, though.

All right, I'm not going to write about the entire paper. Go read it. It's excellent. And makes me happy. Go now! :D

5 comments:

Eitan Kastner said...

Thank you for the kind review of our last copy under my tenure as EIC. My intention was never to rile people up, although that seems to have been a consequence of most of my columns. This last column was simply to sum up my intentions manifested throughout the year. To make clear to our readers what I was trying to accomplish with my columns.

Anonymous said...

“I was appalled at the lackadaisical response from some student leaders to requests for immediate action.”

I am very surprised that this article was printed, not because it is offensive or conntriversial, but rather it doesn’t make any sense. What was there for YU to do? Why was immediate “response” needed? The article seems angry and not very well thought out, nor did it explain why exactly YU had to do anything.

Plenty of colleges around the country had either no reaction, or official reactions occurring after YU did anything. And YU and its students probably have less in common with vtech than just about any college in the country, if anyone is justified not having to "react" (whatever that means) it would be YU.

Its not as if anyone outside YU was expecting some type of action from YU, or disappointed that there was delayed reaction. To me the article seems a tad self-important.

Jeremy Stern said...

Chana,
Does the self-assured "anonymous" reply to my article (not even on the Commentator website) deserve a proper response? Or, should I just suggest that the person reread the article, because it seems as if he or she did not take the time to revisit it after formulating his or her questions.
In any case, this just proves my concern, that there are Yeshiva students out there - en masse - who don't see why we should care about others if there is no external expectation of us to do so. The internalization of a fundamental sense of responsibility to human kind, and to those in particular with whom we have significant common experience, is simply lacking. It's sad, Chana. Why do people insist on constantly looking over their shoulders - either at what others are doing, or what others expect them to do - to determine their yardstick of whether or not something is important to them? My point in the article is that this should be important to us, however, it's not, and yet for some reason many other colleges seem to get it right because it is important to them.

Chana said...

Anonymous,

Here's where you and Jeremy disagree:

"Its not as if anyone outside YU was expecting some type of action from YU, or disappointed that there was delayed reaction. To me the article seems a tad self-important."

You are arguing the media. The press. Public relations. From that point of view, Yeshiva University reacted in a nice way (they set up a blog where people could post commments; President Richard Joel gave a speech at the Town Hall meeting and everyone observed a moment of silence.)

Jeremy is arguing about feelings. Emotions. One's intrinsic connection to other's, one's very humanity. Whether we care when others are hurt and affected, because if we did care, we would want something done now, immediately, right away.

So you're both right. YU took care of it's media/ public relations response. They held the Town Hall meeting; they have the place to post messages of comfort. All good.

But on the individual level- did people care? Do people care when those besides themselves or those within their own community are hurt?

This is where I say yes, yes, people care very deeply and it hurts them which is why, in order to protect themselves, they try to block it out. This is something I do.

But then I read the comment to Jeremy's article (on the Commie website) and someone else explained that yes, he is desensitized and doesn't really feel unless something directly impacts him or the Jewish community.

Which means that Jeremy is right when he critiques us for that. Because we need to feel. We need to care about other people.

It's the only way we'll ever build a better world.

Anonymous said...

Im the previous anon poster. First , I didnt go to YU, nor am i orthodox, so my post doesnt prove anything about YU students.

"But on the individual level- did people care? Do people care when those besides themselves or those within their own community are hurt?"

I agree that on an individual level people should care, as im sure most in yu did, probably just as much as the avg college student around the country.

On the other hand, to say yu, as an institution, had some responsibility to "respond immediately" has no justification. YUs response was timely and appropriate, and there is no reason to think it had to do anything more.