Every time my mom hears someone say "It was like this in der heim" she grits her teeth. Mostly these speakers are younger than she is, a lot younger. And unlike my mom they never lived in der heim. What they know of that long ago Europe is through tales and stories, many apocryphal. As my mom has said on many an occasion, "I lived in der heim and in der heim just wasn't like people describe it."
There is an interesting aspect of in der heim that never seems to get mentioned or where references to this aspect may be buried in history texts moldering on library shelves. That aspect is on how communities were organized. We have come to believe today that decisions about Jewish communal life are the purview of the Roshei HaYeshivot or the Rebbes or the National rabbinic alliances. These people pontificate on everything and anything that constitutes Jewish life here. We are not talking only halachic rulings and discussions. We are talking about every aspect of living, from what color you can wear and when and to whom you should be talking or not talking to and what you should be doing to make money and how organizations should be organized. For large parts of Europe this was not the case.
Let me use my mom's home town as an example. Although not a major city as we think of city today, it nonetheless had a Jewish population of 5000 plus. One of the Viznitzer Rebbe's sons opened up a large branch of the Viznitzer Yeshiva in this town. He was clearly a person of importance but was he the ultimate authority in town? No. There were other shuls and other rabbeim besides the rosh yeshiva. What's more, the town had a "chief rabbi" and it wasn't the rosh yeshiva. But there was more. There was a community council made up mostly of lay people. The rabbanim in town were considered as the advisory group to this committee but they didn't sit on the committee. The committee would consider matters of importance to the community and come up with dictates that the community would then follow. They were the group that dealt with the various government bodies on behalf of the Jews in town. When business questions arose they were placed before this committee. Tzedaka and chesed organizations came under the supervision of this committee. In short, communal life was the responsibility of the community council. The head of this council, the Rosh Ha'Ka'hal, was a man of importance in town, as were the council members.
Dividing responsibility for the life in the city meant that decisions were made by those best qualified to make them. Halachic decisions were made by the rabbanim, working in concert so as not to disturb the achdus of the community. "Life" decisions were the purview of the Community Council.
An awful lot of the problems faced by the organizations of Klal today would benefit from just this type of division of duties. Let the rabbanim stick to what they know best--paskening halachic questions or teaching Torah. And let those with experience and expertise in finance and running businesses have the responsibility for those aspects of community organizations that require such expertise. Yeshivas and the other organizations of Klal would benefit from having people in charge who have a clear understanding of how money actually works in the real world and what must be done so that these organizations get out of the red and into the black. Savvy business people may have wish lists of things they'd like to see happen, but they also look at the bottom line. So much of the duplication of organizations with the same purpose would not happen if they had to get permission from a central community committee to set up shop. And yes, yeshivas would surely benefit if their boards had any real clout other than rubber stamping what the rosh yeshiva wants.
So many people speak about in der heim and how we should be aiming to duplicate it here. Well, if you really want that duplication, stop picking and choosing what suits you and duplicate it all. Get those community committees up and running and let them take care of business. It surely can't be any worse than the way we run things now.
An interesting idea EXCEPT you would end up with 99 such committees in places like Brooklyn where each "community" considers itself separate and different and more legtimate then all the other communities.
This would fail for the same reason there are 8 batei din in each town; each sect has someone they don't hold of. But nice idea in principle. Simpler times...
Also not going to work because it would require the rabbis to give up some of their power and they just won't do it. They've spent too much time and effort getting to be at the top of the heap to let go of anything they control, even if the end result would be good for them.
The yeshiva I attended was run by a board of very successful businessmen.That did not prevent then making many financial mistakes that aren't made in Yeshivas ran by Roshey Yeshiva.And that was just one aspect of their behavior.It was the general feeling of everyone, facility and students alike, that the Yeshiva would be better off without them.
It is always easier to spend someone else's money.
Sorry to go off on a tangent, but are you referring to Grosvardein?
I'm referring to de'vishivis--visuel de sus, particularly to ober vishivis.
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