Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

4 Teves 5766 - January 4, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Who is Yated's Intended Audience?

Soon after the English Yated began publication, we had an opportunity to visit Maran HaRav Shach zt"l. In the course of our short conversation, we asked if the intended audience of the paper is "bnei Torah." Maran answered that the paper should be written for "all chareidim."

Though HaRav Shach's answer broadened the audience compared to the expectations of the question, it still leaves it narrower than many expect. From the mere fact that we write in English, many conclude that our intended audience is all English speakers or all Jewish English speakers, as is the case for most English-language publications, at least in theory.

Much of the work produced in English, even by thoroughly chareidi sources, would like to reach every English-speaking Jew, the non-religious as well as the religious. They translate the first occurrence of almost every Hebrew word, and they are tempered in the content of what they publish, to make what they write accessible and friendly to anyone who can read English.

This is a fine, well-worn, time-honored approach, and it is not our concern to try to determine how much of this hope is realistic and how much is wishful thinking.

Our approach is different, with all due respect to the other approach. We address the already-fully-committed chareidi community.

This is not, of course, just a matter of which Hebrew words we feel the need to translate. Although we write with an awareness that English is accessible to a wide range of people of many persuasions, nonetheless we do not feel the need to argue or defend or apologize for our basic positions. We assume that our readers feel basically the same way as we do about things, and go on from there. We hope that the paper will appeal to as broad an audience as possible, but we are nonetheless not driven by a desire for popularity but by a feeling of responsibility to convey daas Torah.

In an important sense, this is true of our rabbonim as well. Even though we call them the gedolei hador, as they truly are, large segments of the dor do not recognize them as such. They in fact address, for the most part, primarily those who listen to them. They are also aware that they are "overheard" by many who have varying degrees of commitment to them and to what they represent, and this awareness informs what they say and how they say it, but their prime audience is the community that follows them.

It is not just a coincidence that their approach and the approach of Yated are similar, but a reflection of the strong relationship between Yated and its rabbonim. Our Vaada Ruchanit is not an advisory board, but is 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. Though rabbonim can block what goes in to some other publications which hire their own rabbinical advisors, Yated remains the only newspaper in which rabbonim can be sure of getting their statements published, no matter what they say — since they fully control it.

Sometimes we are criticized for not being convincing or for "writing off" those who do not agree with us. Chas vesholom. Every Jew is precious — but there is a lot of diversity in Klal Yisroel. When we address issues that are debated in modern society, our aim is to provide chizuk for those in our community who come into contact with those ideas. We are not necessarily trying to convince a serious skeptic. That does not mean we have written him off, but that he should look elsewhere to find someone who will engage his skepticism.

If we do not live up to our standards, then by all means let us know. But neither we — nor the gedolim — should be criticized for not addressing those we do not set out to address.

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