Thursday, April 17, 2008


We at The Observer are hardcore. The kind of hardcore that stays in a room from the hours of 6:00 PM to 10:15 AM of the next day. Yes, you heard me right. Those are the hours for the dedicated team of four who give body, mind and soul to our beloved newspaper (not that the many other people involved do not, but they are probably more sane than we are.) We laugh, we cry, we throw a party; we play with finicky programs and have nervous breakdowns at 2:45 in the morning (all right, I had a nervous breakdown at 2:45 in the morning, but it only lasted till 3:00, due to the intervention of my beloved EIC. I had somehow decided I could reasonably expect to master a computer program before deadline the next day, and that I was a failure at life for failing to do so. Then others informed me that they use this program every day for three years, since they are Art majors, and I felt better about the whole situation.) Anyway, the point remains- we are hardcore.

We are so hardcore that we sleep on chairs in 19C in Brookdale.

Thank you to Sorceress for donating her blanket and pillow to the cause!

I slept from 5:30 to 8:22 in the morning; it was amazing. But what was even more amazing was the conversation I had with the guard at 5:40 in the morning.

Guard: (concernedly) What's the matter?

Chana: (pretends to sleep)

Guard: (loudly) What's the matter?

Chana: (sleep mumble) Nothing's the matter.

Guard: Why are you here?

Chana: Okay. So I'm copyediting upstairs in room 20C, and we've been there till now, and I have to go to sleep but I need to be back upstairs in about three hours. So it makes a lot more sense for me to sleep here in the student lounge than return to my dorm at this hour.

Guard: But you need a visitor's pass to sleep here.

Chana: I am a student.

Guard: That doesn't matter. You still need a visitor's pass to sleep here when you belong in a different dorm.

Chana: I am a Stern student; this is the student lounge, therefore I should be able to sleep here.

Guard: (doubtfully) I guess it's okay for one night.

I then fall into an amazing sleep for less than three hours. It's good times.

Sara Lefkovitz, Nava Billet, Ariana Denenberg and Alisa Ungar all rock my world. You are all hardcore. Hardcore, I tell you! Dancing parties, intense discussions, unhappiness, differing tastes in music and other good times make my world.

And now I suggest that you read The Observer. Because it's good times. And its staff members are hardcore. And besides, this issue cost us sweat and blood and tears. I figure you'd want to see why.

We've got discussions about real freshmen (those of us who didn't go to Israel and who seem to have nevertheless survived), fashion shows, the fact that we are pining away for lack of intellectual discussion, we like our leaders and the fact that they can get along with one another, Israel's upcoming 60th birthday, the Mercaz HaRav tragedy, new interdisciplinary courses, a controversial documentary about circumcision, misleading "kosher" establishments, the MedEthics conjoined twins event and an attack upon Galinda's method of transport.

Check it out!


Stern student said...

thanks for the tip.

Anonymous said...

I don’t understand why you would need to do any all nighters if you come out with fewer than one issue a months.

Chana said...

anonymous 12:29,

That's the secret, isn't it... ;-)

If you'd truly like to understand, I'd be happy to explain it to you. The question is whether you are criticizing without any desire to listen, or whether you are truly curious to hear the answer? Let me know. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Everyone, PLEASE read the letter to the editor RE:Academic Bible. Finally someone in Stern stands up and says what needs to be said.

Anonymous said...

YU student said...

Anon 3:13/3:14,
so what?

Anonymous said...

"If you'd truly like to understand, I'd be happy to explain it to you. "

Fire away!

SimchaGross said...

Anon 3:13,
That’s a pretty cowardly way to argue. You simply cite an article and your approval of it. Good job. We are all convinced. Thank you.
I read the article before and found it to be parochial and entirely unconvincing. A few points about the article should be made.
Firstly, she writes about her credentials and consequent motivation to write this piece in the first paragraph:
"As someone who has spent her entire educational life studying Tanakh, I find it difficult to understand how someone could dismiss the intense amount of depth provided by the "traditional and medieval" commentators"
This is a parochial view if I have ever seen one. Firstly, Chana never said that the "traditional commentators" were not valuable. In fact, from my many conversations with her I can guarantee you that she not only values the "traditional commentators" but is amazingly well versed with Midrashim, and holds them in the highest esteem. With that established we may ask: what is wrong with introducing new elements of Pshat to Tanakh? The Rashbam writes that his commentary is not superfluous in light of all the former commentaries, since "Pshat is constantly renewed." There is no disclaimer "Pshat is constantly renewed... in the time of the Rishonim." Also, for someone who proudly proclaims that she has spent her "entire educational life studying Tanakh" she is unaware of the many Rabbi's who advocate examining the text anew without relying on “traditional commentators,” like Nehama Leibovits, Rabbi Yoel Bin-Nun, Rabbi Maydan, Rabbi Yonatan Grossman, Rabbi Liebtag... to name a few from Israel alone. Speaking of "Yiddishkeit" - What about Mordecai Breuer, who created a new Derekh HaPshat taking the ideas of Biblical Criticism and using it to interpret the Bible and its many facets. He was widely accepted, teaching in many places in Israel, and his books are very popular as well. Later in the article she addresses Rav Breuer’s opinion, and states that “he wrote an article in Megadim…stating that people had misinterpreted his ideas and words, taking them to levels he never approved of…” There are a number of problems with this. Firstly, she does not actually explain what Rav Breuer DOES hold, but only that he refined what people thought he held. So we do not know what they thought he held or what he clarified. Secondly, the author confuses the issue again – Chana was not advocating convincing people about the Documentary Hypothesis’ veracity, but simply that it should be taught. Rav Breuer certainly believed in this as well. (As an aside the author states “I have heard that he is one of the top experts on chumash” – if she had indeed been studying Tanakh her “Entire educational life” she should know who Rav Breuer past simply hearing about him from second hand sources).
Here next argument essentially determines that since SHE is satisfied with the classes available to her, therefore Chana should be: “When choosing what Judaic Studies classes to register for, I came across classes entitled "Philosophy of the Rav,", or "Modern Jewish Problems," classes in which names like Rav Moshe Feinstein and other contemporaries are dropped frequently. How could one be upset…”
Umm… someone want to explain this? This is a completely subjective argument, and sadly does not hold up in a debate. She also quotes as one of her classes "Philosophy of the Rav." Well, perhaps the class wasn't so good after all if she wasn't aware of his statements regarding studying biblical criticism, like: "We Jews… have suffered a lot from the heresy of Biblical criticism…for many years we tried to ignore the evil…this method of indifference proved its utility over a long period…but times have changed" (Shiurei Harav, 61). Oops, seems he recognized the need to start teaching Biblical Criticism. See the Chapter from which that is sighted for a number of other statements by the Rav on the subject.
Her next argument is similarly flawed:
"it is impossible to accept the idea that YU is an Orthodox institution, but simultaneously reject the stance that it should only teach Orthodox viewpoints." By this standard literature and history should not be taught either, since they have positions which do not agree with orthodoxy. (It is interesting that the author proudly declares later on that "During my class on the Second Temple Era, my teacher cited the four gospels when discussing the crucifixion, as well as in our conversations about early Christians and Jews" - are the gospels not against Judaism, how dare she sit through a class where this is taught!) What the author most probably intended was that we should not ADVOCATE positions against Orthodoxy like Biblical Criticism (there are a number of Jewish thinkers who believe that you can accept Biblical Criticism and still be Jewish, like Louis Jacobs, Tamar Ross and others, but we'll leave that aside for now). If the author had read Chana's article, she never suggests that we should bring in someone who believes in Biblical Criticism to CONVINCE us, but someone to educate us about it. Moreover, as is popularly known, the Rambam and many others studied Aristotle and Greek Philosophy, which believed in a Deistic God, one who is entirely unconcerned with Mankind, and definitely with the Jewish people. To cite the book in front of me, the Kuzari - "The members of the Sanhedrin were bound no to let any science, real and fictitious, or conventional, escape their knowledge, magic and language included." (Part Two, 64). It seems that the Sanhedrin also studied everything as well, "real and FICTITIOUS," even things which are prohibited like magic.
Her next argument is "For a person to subscribe to what the Documentary Hypothesis actually says would be to deny the idea that the Torah is written by God." Though the opinions I cited earlier would disagree with her, nevertheless, for arguments sake, let’s take what she says as true. Once again, Chana never expressed her BELIEF in biblical criticism, but simply thought that it would be beneficial to teach it.
Next: "There is no reason to study the Torah as though it were written by a human being, simply because it wasn't." I am not quite sure what she is talking about. Chazal say "Dibra Torah BiLshon Bnei Adam," and see the Radak in his introduction to Jeremiah and his bold comments that the reason there are so many Kri Uchtivs is because Jeremiah had poor grammar! The Torah was indeed written by God, but it does not follow that it cannot be analyzed with the tools and conventions of man. Indeed all interpreters, Jewish or not, “traditional and medieval” included, are simply human, and therefore rely on human methods. Studying the bible with academic methods in no way suggests that the Torah is not divine. It simply does not follow.
(As an aside, the author states that "additionally, there are sefarim that deal with interactions between Jews and other nations, the Vicuach HaRamban as an example, as well as many other debates between rabbis and representatives of other religions" - yet she must not have read the Vicuach HaRamban herself, which in no way refutes Christianity, but rather attempts to prove that Christianity cannot be proved FROM THE TALMUD. Reading sources before citing them is always important).
Her next argument is also slightly oxymoronic: "What is wrong with learning about the differences between these religions from an Orthodox, halakhik point of view? Students know the basics..." But that means that someone had to teach them the basics, which , according to her comments earlier, should not be allowed, since it expresses viewpoints that are not strictly orthodox.
The author’s next comment is simply ironic: “It is a bit narrow-minded to assume that the Stern populace is ignorant and mindless.” Her article only encourages this opinion. I, and many others, do in fact believe this, and believe the author would be hard pressed to prove otherwise. See Yehuda Bernsteins article “Of Biblical Importance” in the commentator which expresses a similar belief as Chana and his exasperation in YU students’ ignorance.
The author ends with perhaps her most ironic comments yet: “Personally, I think that the time has come for "the minority who lead examined lives" to step outside the bubble that they have sheltered themselves within, and meet the rest of us.” Wait, let me get this straight. The person who is asking to expand the educational corpus and material studied to new fields is in a “bubble” and is “sheltered”? Was not the point of Chana’s article that Stern and YU students as a whole should leave their bubbles? Moreover, the author is advocating sheltering everyone from the knowledge Chana wishes made available. This is pretty ironic. Though the author clearly attempts to “end with a bang,” I find this ending completely laughable. We should stay unexamined because… everyone else does? Did everyone hear about the event this upcoming week, YU and Stern students are jumping off a bridge, being led by the author of this article, lets all follow…

Malka said...

Yo, Chana, what's in 20C? (s/o's room or a computer room thingy that's open past 1am?)

I love the conversations with the guard. Love it.

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

Re: YU observer letter to the editor Re: Academic bible; I don't see why that "needs to be said" for the most part. ...personally I'm kind of surprised Chana is such a conservative in these matters. Though it is true that those that chose to come to an Orthodox all-girls University should know what they're getting themselves into. But I don't think it's true that Stern girls are 'unexamined'...I mean look at Chana!

In regards to comparative religion; think about it this way; would you want all students of theology in Americas not know anything about the other two major western monotheistic religions. I'm being honest here; most pastors never heard of, or are very faintly aware of the Talmud. Doesn't that suck? Shouldn't we be a little more open about each other already- even if you're in Stern College, YU, Landers, Touro or Provo (UT)?

I am basically 'down' with Simcha Gross' statements there though- teaching traditionalist commentaries based on biblical criticism at least gives the students some right of entry into biblical criticism...

Anonymous said...

I suggest a different word equivalent for your headline.

Anonymous said...

is porn the only winner during credit crunch?

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