Ever since Alan Brill’s revelation of “Half-Shabbos” (whereby O teens/young adults text during Shabbat but keep all the other stringencies), the O blogosphere and the media have been abuzz about the phenomenon. A disaster, they decry. A crisis of massive proportions. A “failure of Modern Orthodoxy”.
I say: Bullshit. As far as I can tell, this is a teenager/young adult phenomenon. You know, that age when children “test the boundaries” and sometimes even take “vacations from Mitzvot or emunah” for a few years (many of whom return to their communities and faith and even become religious exemplars)? Sometimes this involves having sex, sometimes it involves eating non-kosher and yes, sometimes it involves chillul Shabbat. No-one likes it, of course, but it’s hardly a disaster on the level of mass abandonment of faith or even of halachic reform. It’s a natural phenomenon that needs to be channeled, not decried as the end of Judaism and what not.
This “perpetual crisis” mentality has got to stop. Most Jews who go to Israel for a year do not become off-the-wall Charedi or remain so after 5-10 years, not every college student who gets exposed to academic Jewish studies is a closet apikores, and not everyone who isn’t a virgin is destroying religious family values. Start putting things in proportion, people.
I am proud to be a member of my OJ generation. More of us know more Torah, practice more halacha (correctly) and maintain more knowing faith than comparable generations of simple Jews at many other points in history. We do this under conditions far more tempting and difficult than those that swept over 90% of “good old Jewry” from faith 200 years ago. Many of the people “testing the boundaries” today would have merely abandoned everything but 30 years ago. How’s about some praise once in a while instead of treating us like fragile helpless children who are forever about to throw in the towel?
A Strange Aruch Hashulchan
So I was starting to learn Aruch Hashulchan on Shabbat (one of my favorite sources), and I came across this strange passage (סימן רמ”ב, סעיף ה):
ולכן יש להאיש הישראלי ליתן ליבו לשמירת שבת קודש, ולקבלו מבעוד יום גדול, ולא סמוך להשקיעה, דעל פי זה רבים מהמון ונשים ועמי הארץ מדליקין נרות אחר השקיעה.
Does anyone else know of this phenomenon in Jewish history (where Jews ended up lighting candles after shki’a/bein hashmashot)? Any explanations (custom, different halachic position a la Rabbeinu Tam &c, ignorance)?
My series of posts on RZ Vs. MO wil begin this week. First we will discuss the similarities, the differences. I will try to maintain brevity to avoid boring you all.