The frum world is not the same as it was twenty years ago, much less thirty, forty or fifty years ago. Besides the incredible growth, in population all around the world and in yeshiva learning, new neighborhoods even Haredi cities, power in local governments; the religious world has changed in size and is huge. The rules, style, and demands what is considered appropriate (ma’tim); have also changed. Thirty years ago it was considered modest for young girls to wear their hair long, ride a bicycle; today it is not even considered ma’tim in some places for yeshiva buchrim to ride bikes! In the 80’s Torah and science seem to complement each other (as long as interpretations of science could be expanded in some meanings.) Many articles were being written showing, how not only were there less contradictions per se in science as before thought, but even beautiful parallels could be understood.
In the 1950’s when all men and women wore hats (President Kennedy was the first president who didn’t – but his wife did), women wore skirts to their knee and marriage was expected by all young couples; the frum world did not look so different. As the outside world took on customs that were contrary to Jewish halacha, customs or way of thinking; the religious world instituted more and more expectations; which today we understand as straight halacha (Mix dancing, covering the elbow, married women covering their hair fully.)
Today the difference between the religious world and the secular gentile world is huge. Today’s ‘black’ (1960’s) civil right victims are homosexual and gay marriages and more. Nothing is forbidden in today’s climate but common sense and the values of Torah. Conservative thinkers in the non-Jewish world are reacting strongly; thus there is the horrible movement of IS to the reactionary viewpoints of Trump. The Torah world is closing the barn doors to not allow the garbage that is taking over in the outside world to seep into our beautiful m’sorah.
Yet the problem is: the tighter we draw in; causes less creativity, understanding, derech eretz. And like a toothpaste tube –if you squeeze from the middle too hard, you lose a lot from the top. We have seen the loss of our children going off the derech.
I am not promoting any answers; I don’t have any. It certainly is better to be protected from the crazy secular world where everything goes and there are no truths. But how do we protect our children from the pendulum swing of intolerance? The Torah is beautiful and true; and there is this beauty in every yid. It is our job to find that beauty and then throw out the shtuss.