Friday, April 20, 2007

Letter Submitted to Mishpocha Magazine

Dear Editor,

I would like to wish Rabbi Horowitz continued hatzlacha in the writing of his important Mishpacha columns, while also sharing with his critic my thoughts, which I hope will be understood in the spirit of devorim hayotzim min h'aleiv.

It should be obvious that Rabbi Horowitz is working within the charedi system. On the weighty issue of balancing the sometimes conflicting goals of satisfying the individual and unique needs of our children ---chanoch l'naar al pi darko--against the imperative to nurture the next generation's gedolie Torah b'derch Yisroel Saba, Rabbi Horowitz undoubtedly benefits from the guidance of his own rebbeim, and from that of today's einei heidah. However, while a consensus may be reached amongst gedolie yisrael on basic topics, there certainly may be disagreement on specific issues, particularly since circumstances and communities vary.

On a more general note, I think that any reader writing to Mishpacha or to other publications should, like any speaker or writer, take into consideration the needs and backgrounds of his or her audience, as well as the fact that today, a letter may travel electronically beyond its original boundaries. As someone familiar with various media forums that operate outside the boundaries of the more insular parts of the yeshivah and chassidic worlds, it is obvious to me that the beauty of Mishpacha is precisely that it appeals to a diverse audience. In a certain sense, then, the varied readership need to make certain reasonable allowances for each other, for the media version of hinei mah tov u'mah naim sheves achim gam yachad to be able to work.

If I could say something to the letter-writer and to the authors of similar letters, it would be: chachamim hezahuru b'divreichem. Sadly, you are not bringing kavod to either the ideals or to the rebbeim whom you are seen as representing, if you are perceived as overreacting, or unable to show understanding to those who may follow, perhaps a slightly different derech in Yiddishkeit. There are many people who share important Torah values with even the more insular parts of the charedi world, but who feel pushed away and alienated for various reasons, hameivin yavin(already, one writer has said that the attitudes in the letter in question justify the blogosphere).

While you are entitled to feel "surprised and upset that Mishpacha printed [Rabbi Horowitz's ] column", had you shown appropriate understanding for another point of view, and also used more nuanced and balanced language when expressing your ideas, I think that your valid concerns might have been taken seriously by even those having different backgrounds and opinions than your own.

Baruch Horowitz,

Brooklyn, NY

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