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One Above and Seven Below: A Consumer's Guide to Orthodox Judaism from the Perspective of the Chareidim [Paperback]

By Yechezkel Hirshman (Author)
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Item description for One Above and Seven Below: A Consumer's Guide to Orthodox Judaism from the Perspective of the Chareidim by Yechezkel Hirshman...

Everything you always wanted to ASK about the Chareidim, but were afraid to KNOW! Orthodox Judaism from the perspective of the Chareidim Chareidization - It's the newest term in the book. And it has many members of the greater Orthodox Jewish community up in arms. The stark reality is that a major portion of Orthodox Jews don't seem to appreciate chareidim and do not welcome "chareidization". What is going on - and why? Has something changed within Orthodox Judaism? Is there a difference between an Orthodox Jew and a Chareidi? And, if so: * What is a chareidi and what is a non-chareidi Orthodox Jew (NCOJ)? Where does one entity end and the other begin? * Who are the chareidim? Where have they come from? How long have they been here? And to where are they headed? * Why do some Orthodox Jews refuse to identify as chareidi? Why do others embrace chareidi ideals? And why do some chareidim abandon them? * Why are the chareidim so successful and why are they so despised? In a thought-provoking study that is at the same time theological and sociological, studious and sarcastic, insightful and inciteful, light-spirited yet profoundly intense, Yechezkel Hirshman addresses these questions while presenting an insider's look at the upside of the Ultra-Orthodox world. Hirshman also includes a special feature chapter that examines chareidim who stray from the path.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   320
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.1" Width: 6.3" Height: 0.8"
Weight:   1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 25, 2007
ISBN  9657344387  
ISBN13  9789657344385  

Availability  0 units.

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Reviews - What do customers think about One Above and Seven Below: A Consumer's Guide to Orthodox Judaism from the Perspective of the Chareidim?

Solving the Mysteries of the Chareidim  Jun 5, 2008
This book with its obscure title and imposing cover surely caught my eye. The minute I saw it, I was beset with a sense of mystery. I had never heard of Yechezkel Hirshman and I had never heard of Mazo Publishers and I certainly had never heard of this book. What is it all about?

A perusal of his question and answer section in the front of the book indicates that this may be the ultimate PR book that the chareidi community has sorely needed for so long. It aims to make the hashkafa of the Torah world more palatable and more accessible to those who feel distanced from it. But is such a thing possible in today's polarized society? And who is this author who feels qualified to undertake this mission?

In an effort to establish his credentials, the author reveals much about his background including an intimate foreword in the front of the book and an anthology of personal memoirs at the end of the book aside from advertising on the cover that he is left-handed. Yet, he is an unknown in the Jewish literary world and has no affiliations to any organizations and has never been a "spotlight" person. In fact, the only alma matter yeshivas that he identifies, Mir and Lakewood, are the "central bus station" ones wherein one can easily avoid the spotlight. As such, despite the obvious fact that he is very mainstream and seems to be well connected, he remains a bit of a mystery man.

No less mysterious is the obscure meaning of the main title and the imposing graphic that adorns the cover of the book. What (or who) is the One Above and who are the Seven Below and what does it have to do with being "chareidi"?

The most accurate description of the book is indicated in its main subtitle - A Consumer's Guide to Orthodox Judaism from the Perspective of the Chareidim. This means to say that the book is not really about Chareidim per se - as nobody can really agree as to what "Chareidi" means - but rather it is about Orthodox Jews; or, more specifically, how we who consider ourselves chareidi perceive the ultimate tafkid - the goal and purpose of all Orthodox Jews.

The author prides himself as a virtual disciple of Harav Avigdor Miller, ZT"L, (through his books and tapes) and emulates his logical approach and perhaps a bit of his wry humor in structuring his thesis.

The main thrust of the book is to answer the ubiquitous question: "Where is it written that...?" for those of us who do not know where it is all written. He accomplishes this by taking some of the most central and fundamental precepts of the Torah and showing us that there is a lot more "written" there than what appears at first glance. Thus, a true chareidi is one who understands these precepts at a much more profound level. The three main precepts that he discusses are: Shema Yisroel, Anochi and Lo Yihiye Lecha from the Aseres haDibros, and his main character: the opening pasukim from the Bracha and the Kelala of Parshas Bechukosai.

He makes his case for the centrist Yeshivish/Chassidish/Black-Hattish/Chareidi derech using only the most basic, venerable, and universally accepted sources: Chumash (and Tanach) with Rashi and Midrash, plain Gemara, Rambam and Shulchan Aruch, Chovos Halevavos, Maharsha and Ramchal. He purposely avoids quoting contemporary sources that do not represent the sum-total of Orthodox Jewry (okay, at one point he brings a question from Rav Chaim of Volozhin but that does not make him a misnaged). There are two main reasons for this. The primary purpose is to point out that Chareidim are those that adhere to long standing ideologies that all Orthodox Jews hold as sacred. But what is equally important is to combat the ridiculous assertion put out by non-chareidim that chareidim are a very recent (less than 200 year old) innovation. The author asserts that if chareidim can be defined as those that follow precepts that are 3300 years old (Torah), 2000 years old (Talmud and Midrash and Pirkei Avos), and 500-1000 years old (Rambam, Chovos Halevavos, Shulchan Aruch), then their societal existence must accordingly be that old even if they went under different names. The author invests two full chapters to fighting this battle using tact, wit, a bit of cynicism, and no small measure of sarcasm.

Additional features of the book include two chapters, one of which is designed to answer the question: "If this "chareidi" perspective is so beneficial, why is it that not all Orthodox Jews identify as chareidi?" and the other is to answer the question: "If this "chareidi" perspective is so beneficial, why do some chareidim opt out?" The latter is his analysis of kids at risk from the chareidi perspective and it takes issue with some of the points presented in the popular book Off the Derech by Faranak Margolese.

This volume of his work lays the groundwork of understanding Torah hashkafa but it does not directly address issues that affect the sensitivities of non-chareidim such as the chareidi attitude toward balancing learning with parnassah, their attitude toward nationalist ideals for those who live in Eretz Yisroel, kashrus and chumros, education, kinaos, the function of Beis Din, and chareidim who do not live up to chareidi ideals. All of these are alluded to within the book but the meat of the subjects is reserved for a second volume that is in progress.

To sum up, this book goes a long way in solving the myteries of Chareidi society but leave enough left over for another go. A thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring read.
Misleading Subtitle  Jun 3, 2008
One Above and Seven Below boasts a very pretentious subtitle: "A Consumer's Guide to Orthodox Judaism from the Perspective of the Chareidim."

The book itself provided me with an enjoyable and thought-inspiring reading experience. Even though the basic premises, which present quite faithfully the Yeshivish hashkafa as it is commonly preached and upheld in Litvische Yeshivot, were nothing new to me, their specific "dressing," with sources from Chaza"l, and methodical presentation were quite innovative and unique. Also, the highly professional use of the English language, not so common in books written by chareidi writers, enhanced the experience.

However, I was a bit disappointed. The author did not deliver on his promise. He said he was going to offer a definition of chareidiism from the perspective of "the chareidim" themselves. In fact, what he did offer only represents a single, relatively small faction. Even though he takes pains to clarify that, in his book, every Jew who upholds Torah study and Mitzvot observance as the most important thing in his life is a chareidi - a term which he totally equates with "Torah Jew," and takes pains to demonstrate how mainstream Judaism used to fit the bill for about two and a half millenia - and explicitly includes chassidim, charda"lniks and non-affiliated Orthodox Jews who meet these criteria, the latter three groups have (and claim that so has mainstream Judaism always had) other, quite different definitions of who is a chareidi, who is a Torah Jew, what are the differences between these terms (if any), and what being chareidi or a Torah Jew actually means. Since this book does not represent their perspective, the subtitle is grossly misleading.

Even though the similarity between chassidim, mitnagdim, charda"lnikim etc. does far outweigh the differences (not only in relation to non-Chareidim), however, as far as the stated goal of this book goes - aiming to present the ideaology and the meaning of being a chareidi according to the "perspective of the chareidim" - those differences are fundemantally crucial.

Taken as a treatise on Litvische Yeshivishe hashkafa, though, the book does meet its goal splendidly. My only complaint is that the subtitle should reflect this true goal of the book.

I don't blame the author, who, as he takes pain to emphasize throughout the book, is a professional saleseman, out to "sell his product" by all available means. Had the author put on the cover something like "...from the perspective of Litvishe Yeshiva Judaism," his sales would have dropped significantly. But at least he would have better presereved his integrity.

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