Ari Lamm Profile picture
26 Dec, 4 tweets, 1 min read
The 4 biggest external pressures on the American rabbinate:

1. History of Congregationalism (suspicion of individual religious leadership)

2. Credentialism (treating semicha like a Masters)

3. Electoral politics (above all, don't offend)

4. Agglomeration (bigger = better)

This implies, all things equal, the longer we've been in America, the more likely we'll be to seek rabbis without big personalities, with an impressive professional CV, who are as inoffensive as possible. And agglomeration means fewer open positions thus discouraging dissenters 1
So far, obvious. But here's another thing it implies: over time, Americanized Jews will end up complaining about the decline in rabbi quality *irrespective* of whether the talent pool is *actually* smaller/worse. 2
This is crucial bc here's the thing: whenever I've gotten to know rabbis from my age cohort, I've been blown away by how brilliant, talented and ambitious they are. The seeds of a new golden age are there.

If we miss out, it will be bc we structured their incentives so poorly. 3

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More from @AriLamm

27 Dec
Why read the Bible in Hebrew?

Today's example is from the story of Noah. Let's take a look at the word "chamas" (חמס).

A thread (for non-Hebrew readers too!) 🧵 1
Why did God bring the flood and destroy His first go at creation? Genesis 6:11 fills us in: "Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence" (ESV).

What does that mean? Lots of fighting, war, etc.? 2
Well, that's where today's word "chamas" (חמס) comes in, which is the word being translated as "violence".

The English translators often rendered "chamas" that way, but not always. I suspect they weren't too sure what the word meant.

So what *does* it mean? 3
Read 23 tweets
11 Jan
Rabbi Yehuda Kelemer, the rabbi of the synagogue in which I grew up, just passed away.

I want to tell you a story about him that I will never forget as long as I live.
There had been a suicide bombing at a nightclub in Israel. Believe it was early 2000s. Several people were killed and many more injured. Now here’s the thing: the attack took place on a Friday night, so all the people who were killed were Jews who did not observe the Sabbath.
I think it was the following Sabbath that we were in synagogue, when Rabbi Kelemer came in and interrupted our prayers. He related that someone in our congregation had asked him if it’s right to pray for the victims. After all, they were publicly desecrating the Sabbath!
Read 6 tweets
13 Sep 20
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.
Read 15 tweets

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