Ari Lamm Profile picture
13 Sep, 15 tweets, 3 min read
Okay there's a larger point I've been meaning to make for a while about @themishpacha and @Ami_Magazine. Those who know me well know that I'm a fan of these publications. I'd like to explain why.

A thread:
If you're asking "Are Mishpacha/Ami good?", my reply would be "well, for what purpose? If your goal is to better enable internecine warfare among various frum Jewish communities, then no, these publications aren't for you. They're very inefficient vehicles for battle-line-drawing
Similarly, if your goal is to promote pluralism across the wider Jewish denominational spectrum, then Mishpacha/Ami are still the wrong address. They're not interested in the pluralistic inclusivity project.
Full disclosure, I'm not that interested in either of the above two projects. Frum infighting suffers from severely diminishing returns. Meanwhile, I don't think pluralism actually helps the people it's supposed to (secular Jewish masses). It mostly benefits denominational elites
I'm interested in what Jewish tradition has to say to the world. Society at large is suffering from so many challenges at once - social, emotional, political, even physical - and the Torah has so much wisdom to offer about all of them. The world needs traditional Jewish learning!
Now you might say: well, who gets to decide what the Torah says about these things? Okay, sure. But for the vast majority of outsiders, there is enough of a mainstream consensus that we can do a lot of good without needing to adjudicate the finer points of doctrine.
To put it differently: the Modern Orthodox, Yeshivish, Chasidish, etc. mainstreams overlap enough that, if we care about inspiring the rest of the world, we really can do this *together*.

(This seems like a fairly intuitive sociological "bloc" to me)
So the best way for this project to move forward, I think, is to lower the temperature among various frum factions. Don't need to ignore differences, but we can bracket them. Best way to do that is through positivity and humor. This is where I think Mishpacha, Ami, etc. succeed.
Another key to this project's success, I suspect, is leaning into the mainstream. Generally, you can't convince people of two things at once. So if you want to excite the frum world about inspiring others, you can't ALSO ask them to fundamentally rethink themselves.
This is why I think the standard complaint about Mishpacha/Ami - that they validate this or that allegedly bad tendency in their communal mainstream - misses the point.
Let's say the complaint is correct (I don't know enough to judge). My reply would be: that's a feature not a bug. Mishpacha's/Ami's utility is precisely in giving their target demographic confidence in itself. You need that confidence to go out and do other good things.
I see the local Jewish weeklies in MO/MO-ish communities as serving a similar function. NJ Link or 5TJT, for example, lean into the mainstream pretty hard. That can be a great thing. Not coincidentally, I think they also contribute to lowering temperatures between frum factions.
Now, it may be important to have some outlet for intra-communal arguments about whether a given mainstream thing is good/bad, or whether it should/shouldn't be altered. But again, Mishpacha/Ami are not well-designed to be that outlet.
But if it's important to make room for a sort of informal 'frum consensus' to exist so that communities that agree on a very high percentage of things can act collectively and virtuously in the wider society, then I say three cheers for Mishpacha/Ami/analogous MO-ish publications
And I should add: just because an outlet leans into the "mainstream" doesn't make it boring. The Beatles were as mainstream as it gets, and they remain one of the most exciting things to happen in music in a century. The frum mainstream likewise has plenty of excitement right now

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