Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

23 Shevat 5765 - February 2, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
A Mission to Spread Daas Torah

Yated Ne'eman is not just another newspaper run by Torah observant people. Such newspapers adopt the general journalistic model of a primarily profit-driven organization that provides information services, albeit with the welcome restrictions of providing only material that is within the bounds of halochoh and of decency. These organizations' main aim is to provide monetary profits for their owners, and they do it by providing information of various kinds to the Torah observant community.

It is true that Yated does want to earn a profit (or at least break even). But this is a secondary motive, which must be adopted in order to achieve the primary motive. Yated has as its primary mission the spreading of daas Torah.

This can be understood by an analogy to the prepared food business. A restaurant is in the business of supplying prepared food to hungry customers. If it is a kosher restaurant it will hire rabbonim to supervise its operation to make sure that everything is kosher. If the owners are chareidi themselves, they will ask questions — as they see the need — to make sure that what they do is proper.

But it will remain a business, and it will remain the property of the owners. If they decide that something is kosher and it is without-question all right to use it in their cooking, it is up to the rabbonim to catch them if they can. The owners can always go ahead and do as they see fit, and they are trying to maximize their personal pecuniary profit.

Yated is more like a soup kitchen — for good and for bad. Of course it has to balance its books, of course the food should be tasteful and the facilities attractive — but first and foremost the owners of a soup kitchen are trying to achieve the spiritual end of chessed. They will not want to do anything to jeopardize that goal. There is no conflict to them if they have to spend more to be sure their food is kosher, since it is all part of the same goal which is a spiritual one.

Yated was set up by gedolei Yisroel — the Steipler and HaRav Shach — with the primary goal of spreading daas Torah, though the means is to be a "real newspaper and not a hashkofoh sheet," as the Steipler put it. It has to report real news and be part of the market. But Yated's primary, overall goal is spiritual, and this is inherent in the organization itself.

This goal has a negative aspect and a positive aspect.

The negative aspect is really what applies to most of what we do not write. We are a newspaper, and we publish news. But we do not publish all the news, but only that which does not violate Torah guidelines.

In the modern world, whose moral level is on a steady decline, many items make it into the newspapers that in previous generations were not thought "fit to print" by respectable publishers. Lurid crimes are reported, and sometimes, during "newsworthy" trials for example, the details of the crimes can fill acres of newsprint for many weeks. This is presented as the press doing its duty to inform the public, but in truth they are just printing material that appeals to the lower instincts of their readers. The details of these crimes are of no importance to the general public. Exposing people to their details drags their minds down into the gutter. Unfortunately, appealing to people's lower instincts is an almost certain formula for financial success in the modern world, so the general press makes its appeals lower and lower.

Positively, we were told to try to make every part of the paper, as much as possible, into something to be learned from and/or something uplifting. We try to make things count, to publish material that will be enlightening, helpful and spiritually uplifting.

Unfortunately, given the state of the world, not everything that the rabbonim want to inform people about is positive. Given the abundance of things in the world today that must be avoided, it should be expected that there are some things that rabbonim want to warn people against, and sometimes the warnings are not pleasant.

Yated's main mission is to present daas Torah. In this, we are the mouthpiece of the rabbonim. Our Vaada Ruchanit is not an advisory board, but really a board of directors. They direct what we put in and what we do not, and the entire organization is built to ensure this. Yated remains the only newspaper in which rabbonim can be sure of getting their statements published, no matter what they say.

These thoughts were prompted by the recent 16th anniversary of the appearance of the English Yated, and the stream of correspondence that we get whenever we put in something controversial.

Let us hope that we will be successful in spreading daas Torah — so successful that the entire world will be filled with it and have no need for Yated.

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