The Coalition Plan For Charedim

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100 Responses

  1. Josh K says:

    “If Roshei Yeshiva protect their own children and sons-in-law from service, or if there is significant infighting and no objective standard in choosing the 1800 elite on the basis of merit, it will bring down the charedi world faster than any universal draft could.”

    What a depressing thought, I truly hope that doesn’t come to pass. I wonder though, if the result of the system is so much learning with so little daas that it would produce that outcome, then maybe it truly needs to be brought down. Chazal doesn’t have very kind words for learning that fails to impact one’s actions. But it’s hard to imagine a worse chilul Hashem. Especially one designed to thoroughly discourage the frum community itself.

    It’s impossible to blame any outsiders if that does come to pass though.

  2. Ben Waxman says:

    If Roshei Yeshiva protect their own children and sons-in-law from service, or if there is significant infighting and no objective standard in choosing the 1800 elite on the basis of merit, it will bring down the charedi world faster than any universal draft could.

    There is no reason to assume that all 1800 will be (or should be) chareidi. There are many great students who are srugim who should also spend those years learning.

  3. L. Oberstein says:

    Wow, i totally agree with you. Lately I have been reading the Israeali Chreidi web site, Kikar Shabbat and am amazed at the harshness of the attacks. The sense of superiority and the denigration of the other is blatant as to be nausiating.I listened to a radio interview with rabbi Shai Piron. He sounded resonable but his interviewer sounded deranged. After asking for explanations the interviewer stated that the Minister of Education has no right to any opinion on Charedi chinuch, only Gedolei Yisroel decide and there is no room for discussion or compromise. You don’t win friends calling them names. I don’t believe the Yahadut Hatorah members of the Knesset are stupid, i am sure they are wise and know the score. So, why don’t they talk menchlich to Loapid and Bennett? Dov Lipman who is ostracized and was excluded from a minyan in the Knesset by these same people organized a committee to help integrate chareidim into the work force and no Charedi representatives would cooperate, although chareidim per se did. I don’t understand what they hope to accomplish with this strategy.Can anyone expalin.

  4. Charlie Hall says:

    Thank you, Rabbi, for a calm and reasoned presentation of the issues involved.

  5. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Believe it or not their are many, hopefully a large majority, on the Chareidi “street” who are and will be thrilled with these changes. Sharing the “burden” will actually free them from a lifestyle, that has come to be, a huge burden on them. Some estimates say that given the choice, ie freed from the army restriction on work, half of those “learning” would immediate leave Yeshiva and look for work. People don’t want to live in poverty, no matter how “glorious” some rabbinic lore may make it seem. The reaction among some of the Chareidi leadership is as reprehensible as it is predictable. Yair Lapid was called a “Rasha” by one leading Rabbi while Bennett was called a “Goy” by another. The Yated screamed of an “Evil Government”. In the Knesset on Tuesday as the prime Minister read the list of new ministers, the members of UTJ got up and stormed out. (I know many 5 year olds who do that when they too lose a game.) And some Chareidi MKs even voted to have an Arab Prime Minister in the first no confidence motion.

    The Chareidim in Israel are in this situation in the first place due a lack of vision on the part of their leadership. It’s something that’s not uncommon in all welfare trap situations. It’s just sad, as we would expect “Torah” leaders to have more wisdom than is being shown.

    In the next national election the moderate Chareidi Tov party will be going national. I can easily see massive Chareidi defection from the parties who have failed them so miserably and who are now being exposed as the “Emporer” with no cloths. In my dream scenario, there would be a huge coalition made up of Yesh Atid, Bayit Yehudi and Tov.

  6. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    A number of years ago I was walking through the Geula neighborhood of Jerusalem at maybe 10 PM or so. I saw an old man followed by a very small number of heder kids below the age of bar mitzvah, carrying a small sign with very small letters saying “Nachal hareidi to’eiva” — the hareidi army unit is an abomination. The old man, in a low, emotionless voice, chanted, to almost no spectators, the same words. It was surrealistic, like many other instances of the insular world dealing with the larger reality. I felt sympathy, but it did not resemble coping. Rav Yoel Schwartz, shlita, who has been one of the major rabbinical architects of the nahal hareidi as well as of the hareidi radio stations and outreach for the Noachide teachings for non-Jews, is an example of coping, but unfortunately most of the support for such an initiative comes from the national religious public rather than the leaders of hareidim who stand to benefit. I appreciate Rav Adlerstein’s perspective as well as that of R. Yonasan Rosenblum, who has stressed the fact that the Hazon Ish’s decree for all men to stay in learning was meant to be temporary for two generations or so to recoup the numerical loses of the Shoah. We want everyone to learn Torah at the highest possible quantity and quality, but those who are neither learning nor working need a way out. And those who are capable of doing both must be able to make an honest living. In addition there is much to be said about the disruption of the traditional male-female balance in the family when the women must work at substandard wages to desperately attempt to feed an impoverished large family of latch-key kids with no parent home all day.

  7. Baruch Gitlin says:

    As Charlie Hall said, thank you for such a reasonable analysis. Living in Israel, and hearing daily the rheteric that comes from many of the haredi politicians and press here, I can’t adequately express how important I believe it is for reasonable voices in the haredi world to make themselves heard above the din of threats, unreasonableness, and hatred.

  8. Chardal says:

    >There is no reason to assume that all 1800 will be (or should be) chareidi. There are many great students who are srugim who should also spend those years learning.

    Indeed. Since the RZ yeshivot which encourage torato umanuto are mainly a self selecting elite, they will be a natural source of competition for the exemption. I can only hope that the 1800 will be subjected to standardized testing so that Torah ability will be the criteria as opposed to protectzia.

    >In the Knesset on Tuesday as the prime Minister read the list of new ministers, the members of UTJ got up and stormed out

    While they were storming out they yelled “yehudi lo machrim yehudi” [A Jew does not put into chereim another Jew] … people in glass houses. Those who have turned cheirem into an art form should not preach about it.

  9. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    Yes, it could have been worse. But note:

    1)Factual error: Nobody opts for anything. The security establishment decides who goes to the army, who civil service, and who is of the 1800. So, if you’re a real neb with thick glasses and a hernia, you might be able to learn.

    2) Immediate closure of Mirrer Yeshiva, which will be cut by 6 million dollars annually due to loss of stipends for overseas students. (This clause, as far as I know, does not apply to RZ Yeshivos.)

    3) In light of the violation of Harav Shteinman’s principle which is that anyone who wants to learn is given that opportunity, he will most likely oppose the bill. Now that does not necessarily exclude tacit acceptance, but if it does, then unless the moderates find a rabbinic leader of that stature to support it, they have zero legitimacy in the Charedi camp. I believe you agree that a major flaw of some other camps is not following their rabbinic leaders, and, in that event, a unified wall of Charedi rabbinic leadership opposition would seem to trump what Dov Lipman might think is a good idea.

    4) Beyond the 1800 nebs, unless they come from wealthy families, they cannot survive financially. You won’t be saving prospective FILs any heart-attacks.

  10. Bob Miller says:

    1. As we know in the US, the reality of legislation is in the associated regulations and enforcement, and not necessarily in the law’s wording.

    2. We have heard from the ostensible Chareidi leaders or opinion leaders but not from the rank-and-file. Seeing how the latter react will tell us a lot.

  11. Chardal says:

    >The security establishment decides who goes to the army, who civil service, and who is of the 1800

    Presumably and hopefully, it will not be random, but rather based on merit. In any case, competition in Torah can only increase the quality of the students who end up getting this label.

    >Immediate closure of Mirrer Yeshiva, which will be cut by 6 million dollars annually due to loss of stipends for overseas students. (This clause, as far as I know, does not apply to RZ Yeshivos.)

    I have not seen any chiluk between RZ yeshivos and chareidi ones on this topic. If you have a source for this, please share it. Of course it is ridiculous to fund overseas students. If you want to make aliya, become a citizen. Further, if Mir closes, it will be because of the 10-20 million dollar debt they have accumulated and can not pay off, not because of the new laws. For the RZ yeshovot, the overseas programs are a source of income since parent pay good money to enroll their kids, the cut funding from the state will not dent them too badly.

    >then unless the moderates find a rabbinic leader of that stature to support it, they have zero legitimacy in the Charedi camp.

    Who is asking? Seriously, this is not a plan by chareidim for chareidim (we could only wish that the chareidi community would recognize that it needs to correct this issue and offer a plan to do so). The idea behind this is simple: no big dramatic hauling of people to jail – rather make the money work for you. The chareidi world will fall in line with this plan (as long as this government holds for long enough to implement it and/or the next government is also not dependent on chareidi votes) because of the financial incentives and penalties.

    Its not like R’ Shteinman’s tacit and unenthusiastic support for nachal chareidi turned it into a sociologically acceptable path in the chareidi community! There is a deeply ingrained hatred/fear of the army and the state in the chareidi street. And rabbinic support for change has not and will not change that.

    >Beyond the 1800 nebs, unless they come from wealthy families, they cannot survive financially.

    Welcome to the real world. Now they can start acting responsibly and working like the rest of us.

    >You won’t be saving prospective FILs any heart-attacks.

    My FIL’s first question to me was “how are you planning to support yourself and my daughter.” In fact, that has been the first question FILs have been asking for generations. It is an eminently reasonable question and any FIL who never asked it, is the victim of self-inflicted burden and stress.

  12. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Yehoshua Friedman: leaders of hareidim who stand to benefit

    Ori: Did you do this on purpose? You might have hidden the answer right there. This could be read two ways:

    1. Leaders (of hareidim who stand to benefit)

    2. Leaders (of hareidim) who stand to benefit

    I think #1 is the correct reading, and the leaders object because #2 is false. The leaders are actually standing to lose a great deal. They will no longer be able to dispense desperately needed government largess when their followers have jobs.

  13. DF says:

    “That could mean finally conceding (as so many do privately) that many are not cut out for full-time learning.”

    The above phrase is rather insulting. Thousands of yeshivah graduates could have stayed in kollel and become rabbonim or mechanchim, but CHOSE instead to become a baal ha’bayis. Their choice doesnt indicate they weren’t “cut out” for full time learning. (Likewise, that someone is a Rabbi or Rebbi does mean he wasnt “cut out” for business or the professions; it means only that he chose klei kodesh.) When we say one isn’t “cut out” for learning, it not only signals one’s belief that the kollel world is optimal, but it subtly puts down the many others who dont share that belief.

    The rest of article I agree with, only I think the “Cantonist” problem is so massive, that it will destroy the entire proposal completely. There is simply no way that 1800 exemptions will be given out purely and only on the basis of “merit” [itself a subjective term, ripe to be defined and redfined according to need.] All of human history bears this out.

  14. Harry Maryles says:

    I think your assessment is right on the money. I have written similar thoughts about how this actually bodes well for the future of Charedim in Israel.

    My only concern is the stridency of opposition to this by rabbinic leaders in Israel. Comparing the draft of Charedim to a Shas HaShmad seems to be the clarion call by those rabbinic leaders that the Charedi world looks up to as Daas Torah. These leaders are not know for reversing their opinions on these matters. I do not see any one of them agreeing with your assessment.

    In fact there was one moderate Charedi Rav who is a Musmach from Ner Israel (R. Tzuriel IIRC) who has ‘paskined’ in his own Kol Korei that the gov’t plan of drafting Charedim should be opposed and also considered it a Shas HaShmad (or something similar to that). And I have even seen article claiming that even Chardal Rabbanim have joined in common cause with Charedim opposing it.

    If I had to guess, I would say that if any of these rabbinic leaders saw your post – or mine – on the subject we might be cursed right along with Naftali Bennett for even suggesting there is anything good about it.

    I know you said that privately a lot of Charedi Rabbbonim agree with you. But my guess is that they remain quiet precisely because they do not want to oppose their rabbinic leaders and become ostracized.

    Although as you point out many Charedim are ‘voting with their feet… I am not optimistic that the official policy of “Daas Torah” in Israel will change. So we’re in sort of “an irresistible force meets and immovable object” phase right now. How this will really play out, therefore – remains to be seen.

  15. I.A. says:

    To those who say that the Chareidi leaders lacked foresight. That is not true. It is David Ben Gurion who made this idea that unless you serve in the army that you are unable to work . That is not the fault of the Chareidi leaders. David Ben Gurion basically made it impossible for Chareidim to earn a living since he knew they would not want to serve in the army as it was (and still is ) hostile to the Chareidi lifestyle.

  16. Yitzchok says:

    I must object to calling religious Zionists “srugim” even though no offense was intended.

    Most chareidim would cut off their hands rather than have two and a half minutes of secular core-curriculum studies every week so up go the tuition bills, no one learns any core-curriculum, and parents get deeper into debt.

  17. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    > Presumably and hopefully, it will not be random, but rather based on merit. In any case, competition in Torah can only increase the quality of the students who end up getting this label.

    It won’t be random. There’s a quota of 1600 combatants – they will go to the army even if they are the best learners, because that will be the security establishment’s criteria. The remainder will either be based on physical profile or the IDF won’t take hard-core anti-Zionists who can’t be dealt with versus those who can. In other words, Neturei Karta and Satmar come first.

    > I have not seen any chiluk between RZ yeshivos and chareidi ones on this topic.

    You’re right. It was 100 million shekels to Religious Zionist High schools that I had in mind.

    > Of course it is ridiculous to fund overseas students. If you want to make aliya, become a citizen.

    Is it? There are direct, secondary and tertiary financial and demographic benefits to having overseas students study here. They should be fully explored.

    > Further, if Mir closes, it will be because of the 10-20 million dollar debt they have accumulated and can not pay off, not because of the new laws.

    That’s been going on forever. No, it is because they won’t be able to cover a 6 million dollar annual shortfall. It will be quick.

    > For the RZ yeshovot, the overseas programs are a source of income since parent pay good money to enroll their kids, the cut funding from the state will not dent them too badly.

    You have no idea how many students come to Israel solely on grants. The percentage of parents actually paying the full asked tuition is, in most Yeshivot, very small.

    > Who is asking? Seriously, this is not a plan by chareidim for chareidim (we could only wish that the chareidi community would recognize that it needs to correct this issue and offer a plan to do so).

    Bennett refused to negotiate with the Charedim over this, despite clear overtures. He deliberately chose to join forces with Lapid who would not sit with the Charedim as such. This is a coercive plan and people don’t respond well to coercion from people viewed as hostile. Now, maybe this will last for a while and the Charedim will cave, maybe it won’t. But one thing is clear in the intermediate term – Bibi, more than anything in the world, wants both Bennett and Lapid out of his coalition and Labor and the Charedim in. He has never stated with more conviction than he did yesterday that he wants a two State solution with the Palestinians, which was a clear signal to Bennett. The Charedim, especially Yahadut Hatorah, are now allied with the far left, and will not hesitate to do whatever it takes to get back in the driver’s seat on the Yeshiva issue, even for a few more years until a better solution can be worked out. If and when the settlements get choked off (the cost of the Charedim is a drop in the bucket compared to the settlements) and the RZ Yeshivot defunded, you may find that the attitude will be “who is asking?” on cardinal ideological issues was most unwise. It will be ugly.

    >> Its not like R’ Shteinman’s tacit and unenthusiastic support for nachal chareidi turned it into a sociologically acceptable path in the chareidi community! There is a deeply ingrained hatred/fear of the army and the state in the chareidi street. And rabbinic support for change has not and will not change that.

    If it is ingrained as you see, neither will this.

    The balance of your comments are judgmental, not factual.

  18. Derech says:

    The concept that the “best” students, those that test the best, should be the ones to receive the 1800 exemptions, makes Torah learning an elitist occupation, like being admitted to Medical School or Harvard. That Torah learning is a skill and not a life-purpose is certainly a secular perspective, as articulated by the Israeli government. But the ability to learn Torah in high school, and even after high school, is not, or in my opinion should not be, a privilege limited to the most gifted few. Someone who wants to learn, but is not the top boy, should be at no less of an advantage or be valued any less, then the “smartest” boy (I say “boy” because at present, the Israeli government has not proposed the drafting of Haredi girls, although there is talk of this). Torah shapes all Jews and it is something that is commanded of all Jews. The concept of limiting learning to 1800 boys inherently reflects the concept that Torah is not for all Jews equally, something that can be understood if pushed by a secular like Lapid, but is most disturbing if pushed for by a so-called religious party like Mizrachi headed by Bennet. And surely Lapid and Bennet and their parties are aware of the Tsarist analogy and history (as mentioned above) and how setting up a quota for service in the Army and giving the community leaders the responsibility for fulfilling the quota, destroyed much respect for traditional leadership, including Rabbis. Now Lapid and Bennet want to duplicate the Tsarist system in Israel, with presumably the hope for the same result. The only appropriate manner for the Torah-world population to respond to this elitist scheme is to find a mechanism to distribute the funds paid by the government to the 1800 “best” students to all the students, so that all benefit equally from learning. Of course, this would lead to a smaller amount for each learner, but at least it would be equal, and not create different “classes” of Torah-learners. I don’t know the mechanism, but perhaps it can be found. This will make the statement, that the Torah world sees the learning of all Jews as equally commanded and valuable, and will prevent the destruction of respect for Torah and the unity of the Torah world, that the policy of the Israeli government seemingly intends to bring about.

  19. Bob Miller says:

    Even in matters still under the Chareidi leadership’s control and outside the government’s ability to interfere, merit-based advancement would be ideal and would help solve current problems. OK, merit-based advancement would be hard to define and also to maintain against entrenched elites, but we see what the opposite can cause in all societies.

  20. Eli says:

    >1)Factual error: Nobody opts for anything. The security establishment decides who goes to the army, who civil service, and who is of the 1800. So, if you’re a real neb with thick glasses and a hernia, you might be able to learn.

    So what? Those who don’t want to join will still be able to learn, but will not get funded.

    >2) Immediate closure of Mirrer Yeshiva, which will be cut by 6 million dollars annually due to loss of stipends for overseas students. (This clause, as far as I know, does not apply to RZ Yeshivos.)

    6 Million dollars = 1000 dollars per student (of which the Mir claims to have 6 thousand. Even if it is half of that it becomes 2000 additional in tuition per student). Big deal.

    >3) In light of the violation of Harav Shteinman’s principle which is that anyone who wants to learn is given that opportunity, he will most likely oppose the bill. Now that does not necessarily exclude tacit acceptance, but if it does, then unless the moderates find a rabbinic leader of that stature to support it, they have zero legitimacy in the Charedi camp. I believe you agree that a major flaw of some other camps is not following their rabbinic leaders, and, in that event, a unified wall of Charedi rabbinic leadership opposition would seem to trump what Dov Lipman might think is a good idea.

    Rav Shtienman would allow it, as anyone who wants to learn can still do so, albeit without funding. However, he will not approve for the same reason Yasser Arafat could not make peace. Once he approves, he loses his credibility on the street and no longer represents “the people” (who is really the Kanoim, not the silent majority who would love to be left alone).

    > 4) Beyond the 1800 nebs, unless they come from wealthy families, they cannot survive financially. You won’t be saving prospective FILs any heart-attacks.

    Not the government’s problem. Besides, why not? Kach He Darka Shel Torah! Pas B’Melach Tochal! If they were really serious about learning, that is how they would learn in the first place.

  21. Eli says:

    “Thousands of yeshivah graduates could have stayed in kollel and become rabbonim or mechanchim, but CHOSE instead to become a baal ha’bayis.”

    This is the Shitta of Rav Avigdor Miller ZTL. The Husband should be the king of the house and support the family.

  22. Eli says:

    Very good article. I think that you missed one important point – I believe the draft age will be 21 rather than 18.

  23. j langer says:

    interesting note—-the poor political positioning by Shas/Utj regarding this powerful issue facing the entire israeli public

    fast forward–the frum community—15% of the population—is totally invisable during the Obama visit

    sad comment when we are not reflected at all as part of this enterprise of jewish history to the worls.

  24. Historian says:

    Now might be a good time to remind the Oilam that the story about why Volozhin closed down is quite a distorted version of what really happened.

    Many years ago I was told by a famous Rosh Yeshiva (he currently sits on the Moetzes Gedolai HaTorah of America) that the Roshei Yeshiva decided to close it down because they didn’t want to introduce foreign language and other secular studies to the curriculum.

    If you read the book “My Uncle the Netziv” you will discover that they actually did have that in their daily schedule and nobody thought that to be a reason to shut down the yeshiva. It was only after the plan was to completly change the schedule to the point that the entire day would be secular studies and only a few hours at night would be limudei kodesh, and even that would be a watered down type of learning, did they make the decision that it would be better if the yeshiva closed down.

    Of course we all know, that you can no longer buy that book. Chas v’Shalom that we should know the real facts! Better to create a myth and then go to war to perpetuate the myth.

    Mark my words, somebody is going to cite the Volozhin story, declaring the current situation its equivalent.

  25. Moshe Feigin says:

    Extremely well written. I was thinking along the same lines … there’s quite a bit of chochmah in the draft plan, and best of all, there’s four years to see how it starts to happen.

  26. yoni says:

    “You have no idea how many students come to Israel solely on grants. The percentage of parents actually paying the full asked tuition is, in most Yeshivot, very small”

    As a parent representative of many families who send their bochurim to Israel, In non-charedi YESHIVA PROGRAMS there is a set tuition and small discounts are available. Some do file for PELL or Federation grants yet the tuition is paid nevertheless. In Charedi yeshivos, parents costs include food and dirah only. It’s a type of system that we do not ‘charge for limud hatorah’ syndrome.

  27. SA says:

    For the purpose of this and other discussions, it behooves us all to remember that between a quarter and a third of the “settlers” are Chareidim who live in the “settlements” of Beitar Illit, Modi’in Illit, Emmanuel, Givat Ze’ev, along with small communities in other towns in Yehuda and Shomron.

    So who exactly are the Chareidi MKs threatening by “aligning with the far left”? That’s just one example of how much of their rhetoric is exactly that….

  28. Miriam A says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein writes:

    “others will daven that these measures will be successful in solving the growing problem of poverty and the burden that the charedi community is perceived to place on unwilling Israelis.”

    They also become the responsibility of the American community. Many people do not open their doors on Sunday, and those who do can get over 20 people in a day. Even if you give a minimum amount it adds up to a lot at the end of the year. That isn’t counting the Mosdos and other Tzedaka organizations that need the funds as well.

  29. Shades of Gray says:

    “The only appropriate manner for the Torah-world population to respond to this elitist scheme is to find a mechanism to distribute the funds paid by the government to the 1800 “best” students to all the students, so that all benefit equally from learning…I don’t know the mechanism, but perhaps it can be found.”

    This would be similar to the way government funding is sometimes funneled in the United States, through Agudah for example, or through the Claims Conference to social service agencies dealing with survivors. The Agudah recently serving as an intermediry to administer the NYS security camera program, for example, as Dov Hikind said,

    “No organization is perfect,” he contended. “The money has to flow through an organization, and they are respected, well-known and trusted. We had to choose somebody we were comfortable with.”

    One would need an independent body to provide financial oversight, but this is better than the government distributing funds directly to people which evokes the Cantonist situation(assuming the government survives long enough for it to implement the 1,800 quota and its other changes).

  30. Heshy Marchinsky says:

    Kimcha techina, techinas. The penimis of something deteriorates first, and then afterwards the chitzonios becomes a hollow shell, weak and vulnerable, waiting for it’s imminent destruction. When there is machlokes and strife the S”A runs amok and wreaks havoc. Vehamein yavin.

  31. David says:

    I’m not haredi and I did serve in the Army however there aren’t enough services for them to serve comfertably they won’t eat the Kashrus and they won’t serve with women. Also I must point out that there simply isn’t room for 200,000 new Chaylim there aren’t the beds or the commanders to train them. What need to be done is to slowly phase them in but not all of them National Service needs to be an option. We can’t have a portion of the population not serving and still getting gov’t services it just simply isn’t right.

  32. DMF says:

    Since when do frum Jews have a heter to contradict the Gedolim, especially in a public forum!!

    They said “no” to this draft- final. If you have a problem with this then at least (first) fly to Eretz Yisrael and ask your questions to HaRav Shteinman, Shlita, or HaRav Dovid Solevetchik, Shlita. Then ask them whether it is permissable to bring up your points of view. (for example, are you allowed to point out the beneficial aspects of what the draft could do for Israeli society or is that counterproductive to what the Gedolim want to achieve).

    If I remember correctly , Rav Moshe Feinstein, z’l’, said that anyone that doesn’t listen to the Gedolei Hador is like someone who denies Torah Sh’baal Peh.

    The Gedolei Yisroel said that supporting the proposed draft will result in the closing of Yeshivas in Eretz Yisroel. Is it not a chilul Hashe-m to not only contradict what the Gedolim say but to be assist in showing support for a measure that the Gedolim say will close Yeshivas?

    Has it gotten to the point that America’s liberal, get a web site-be the expert syndrome, has even infected chashuv Rabbanim on matters like these?

    [YA This is a super-important point that deserves a much fuller treatment than possible on an erev Shabbos or before Pesach. But let me write something. The term “gedolim” may (and in many cases, must) mean something different in Chutz l’Aretz than in Israel. Different people and different places are machnia themselves to different gedolim. In many matters, greater gedolim in Israel consistently tell people from Chutz l’Aretz that they cannot decide matters for those who live under very, very different conditions. Rav Shach zt”l for years refused to involve himself in matters of American interest because he simply was not close enough to the source. Some in America kept pushing, until he gave in. This had a profound impact upon America, one that was not felt in the days of Rav Moshe and Rav Yaakov, when America and Israel went their own ways. Reb Yid, your comment comes from a good place. But you perhaps cannot understand how many people with yeshivish background in the US are pained by positions, lifestyles, arguments that they just cannot live with. It has put thousands of people in danger of cooling off their Yiddishkeit, and thousands more who play the game externally, and have lost all sense of authority and being machnia themselves to others. There are many self-appointed “experts” on the internet. I hope that this is not my subconscious kavanah. Consciously, I try to do one thing only. It is NOT to shape policy by people whose ankles I do not rise to. It is to provide a bit of chizuk to frum Jews whose passion for Torah is dulled by thinking that they must be crazy to harbor certain ideas. We want them to know that many others in the Torah community share those ideas, and can still live as Torah Jews. It could be that you are right and I am wrong, but give us a bit of the benefit of doubt. והדברים ארוכים – ועתיקים! ]

  33. yankel says:

    The quote Rosenblum has about the Chazon Ish has never been verified. The Charedi society is based on certain ideals. Even if you could make a clear case against some of those ideals, a structural change in the foundations of a society creates a dangerous ripple effect. It should not be in the hands of people who never learnt in Yeshivos, or spent a short time there to even offer opinions about delicate things like that.
    BTW, the Volozhin precedent is not exactly the way you quote it. The secular studies was done in an extremely perfunctory manner. The story goes that the teacher was teaching them Russian and was trying to teach them the word for ‘goat’ in Russian. Eventually they had the teacher down on all fours demonstrating. The classes were viewed as a temporary inconvenience because of the government decree and the maskilim were determined to stop that.

    [YA. I verified the quote from the Chazon Ish. So there. Prove me wrong.]

  34. Moshe says:

    Your correct to worry who chooses the 1800 “top learners” because obviously there is a big concern that the administration of yeshivas will find fit to assign exemptions to family, the well connected, the highest bidders or the biggest benefactors of said yeshiva.

    As for the RZ yeshivot the vast majority partake in hesder programs for those not familiar I believe its is 6 years of learning with a break in the middle for 2 years of army service. I think this is an option that perhaps can be adopted by some of the more mainstream or modern charedi yeshivas as a way of strengthening talmidim before and ensuring continued involvement during and continued learning in yeshiva after to help counter possible negative influences from the time spent in the army and ultimately build better beni torah.

    As for collecting in the states or anywhere: Support the sick or poor you give them health or food, but supporting torah is a much harder sell, why should you pay for someone to “sit around all day”. However supporting torah learning is one of the greatest tzedakas, because its the hardest tzedaka to give since one does not necessarily see “tangible results”. That said the tremendous amount of mosdot collecting for learing presents a very tough challenge for the numerous other “social services” (poor,sick etc.) tzedakas that need the money just as much or more and perhaps, dare I say, these organizations need a larger share at a time when the world financial situation is getting worse and worse and unfortunately more are in need of such services.

  35. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    > In non-charedi YESHIVA PROGRAMS there is a set tuition and small discounts are available. Some do file for PELL or Federation grants yet the tuition is paid nevertheless.

    I stand by my well-informed assertion that many in non-Charedi Yeshiva programs come paying very little tuition and are largely funded by Misrad Hadatot and MASA.

    > For the purpose of this and other discussions, it behooves us all to remember that between a quarter and a third of the “settlers” are Chareidim who live in the “settlements” of Beitar Illit, Modi’in Illit, Emmanuel, Givat Ze’ev, along with small communities in other towns in Yehuda and Shomron.

    Which only means that, in the event of a deal with the Palestinians, should the Charedim be in the government those settlements will be top priority to keep and expand, and others won’t. I don’t like it; it is a filthy game. But this cycle of: talk of cuts to Yeshivos – concessions to Palestinians – Charedim in government – destruction of Gush Katif already happened once before. (Which addresses “Kimcha Techina.” Was Gush Katif rotten Kimcha Techina? What did they do to deserve that?)

    Yes, the Charedi Yeshiva world needs to have its slackers shaken off. Everyone recognizes that. Not just privately, Rabbi Adlerstein. Publicly. Try a google search for

    משה גפני אני בעד גיוס

    At the same time, though, it is not for naught that Rav Tau cited, at the top of his letter of 29 Adar decrying the threat to Yeshivos, the Midrash of אם ראית עיירות נעקרות מישראל etc. It is because those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

  36. Eli says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein – great response to DMF. Many of us are fed up up of the childish, reactionary rants of UTJ (that everyone who doesn’t hold their views must, by definition, be trying to destroy the Torah world) and need to hear a sane voice such as yours.

    Many of us are unconvinced that the ‘gedolim’ know:

    a) The exact details of the plan (do they know EXACTLY what has been proposed or have they been fed misinformation?).
    b) The economic and demographic realities on the ground that have brought the issue of charedim joining the army/workforce to the forefront of everybody’s minds.

  37. Chardal says:

    >It won’t be random. There’s a quota of 1600 combatants – they will go to the army even if they are the best learners, because that will be the security establishment’s criteria. The remainder will either be based on physical profile or the IDF won’t take hard-core anti-Zionists who can’t be dealt with versus those who can. In other words, Neturei Karta and Satmar come first.

    Neither you nor I know what the process will entail. My uninformed guess is that the army rabanut will administer a test and the top 1800 will get this status.

    As far as the Mir. Perhaps they should not have become addicted to government funding. A little forsight goes a long way

    >You have no idea how many students come to Israel solely on grants. The percentage of parents actually paying the full asked tuition is, in most Yeshivot, very small.

    I don’t know about other Yeshivot, but my neighbor is the son of the rosh yeshiva of one of the largest RZ Yeshivot with an American program (the kind of American program which sees it as its job to turn MO kids black). I asked him why he puts up with it, and the reply was that the American program brings in so much money that it is essential for the yeshiva. (The money he was talking about was NOT government funding but tuition.

    >The Charedim, especially Yahadut Hatorah, are now allied with the far left

    Yet another indication of how the Chareidi parties lack any values and morals when it comes to anything outside of extorting money for votes. Mima nafshach, it the far lest is right and their ideas will bring peace, then the chareidim should have been far left all along. If the right is correct and the far left positions will bring destruction and death, then how dare they support these positions for the sake of extorting money from working folk. In any case, if shas sides with the far left, they are done for – most of their voters are not chareidim and have right wing opinions. In UTJ as well, they know that such a move will not come without a cost since the chareidim have on average a more right wing view. But … It they do decide to join forces with those R Shach called “eaters of pigs and rabbits” it will just further illustrate to everyone that the Chareidi emperor has no clothes.

    >If it is ingrained as you see, neither will this.

    I don’t think you understand. No one is trying to change the opinion of the chareidim. That would be impossible since it is a community thatis completely closed off to outside criticism. What they are trying to do is create an economical reality that will force the Chareidi world to make the necessary adjustment themselves.

    As for my comments. Yes, they are judgemental. They are my appraisals of the situation. Any factual errors that I make should be corrected and I would gladly accept such corrections.

    >Which only means that, in the event of a deal with the Palestinians, should the Charedim be in the government those settlements will be top priority to keep and expand, and others won’t

    More evidence that the Chareidi parties have no concern for Klal Yisrael and only care about “Unser”. It is precisely this attitude that has made them loose all influence on any other part of Klal Yisrael. This narrowmindedness is precisely why those of us who had strong connections to the American Chareidi world while in the diaspora, quickly find, once we make Aliya that Israeli chareidim are a different kind of yidishkeit with which we want no part. The complete lack of any ideology outside of funding yeshivas (even at the cost of destroying RZ yeshivas, schools, and homes – eg. Gush Katif) is deplorable. Either formulate an opinion of where Klal Israel should be headed or sit quietly while the rest of us try to figure it out. DON’T piggyback on our achievements while thinking up new ways to politically extort funds through flip flopping between mutually exclusive political doctrines.

  38. Michoel Halberstam says:

    As usual you present an intelligent and sensitive explanation of what is a very volatile subject. As I am sure you know, many of us who are otherwise characterized as Chareidim share your view that this is not so terrible for us or for Yiddishkeit. However, even allowing for the concept of cognative dissonance, don’t you find it amazing that so many of us clearly question and even disagree with the positions of our designated Gedolim, even as we pay lip service to the idea that we do not. Maybe the time has come for all of us to understand that we need to be responsible in expressing our opinions. We need to think about what we believe, and not be terrified of those who set the tone in the community.

  39. Shades of Gray says:

    During the height of the Science and Torah controversy(summer, 2005), I spent an hour speaking to a certain well-known Torah personality whom I considered a “moderate”( to give an idea of the frumkeit of his hashkafos, he corrected me for paraphrasing him that the Maharal “allegorizes” a certain Gemera, rather than him “expressing a spiritual reality”, as well as about the reason why it made sense to follow R. Elyashiv’s advise in an unpublicized incident regarding not publishing a book, which was not as I said, “to go to the top, and avoid being subsequently banned”, but rather because it was “the correct thing to do”.)

    When I mentioned, however, that I could not see myself living in Eretz Yisrael, following the Charedi system, without joining some type of army program that allows parnassah, to my surprise, he simply said, “it’s not going to last”. He said that he knows of an American rabbi who sends money to his daughter in Israel to buy an air conditioner, but “who is going to do it for her children?”

    I could have countered, “what about what Rashi says about Yirmiyah, that who took out the manna from the Aron and said , “Do you doubt whether He can sustain you today?” However, this Rav has given shiurim to hundreds, if not thousands, and published on bitachon, so it would be wrong for me to teach him about the topic.

    When I think of the conversation, I also think of some context. First, although he is a “moderate”, he is not out to destroy the Charedi system, since he is very much part of it, interacts with Lakewood, and had just come back to America from Bnei Brak. Also, just as regarding the Science and Torah controversy, one of RNS’s supporters was quoted in the Jerusalem Post, that “if I were gadol hador… I might react the same way to Slifkin’s books”, so too, if this rabbi was in the position of practically making decisions about the Kollel issue in either America or EY, he would likely react differently, at least in public.

  40. Shades of Gray says:

    On a related note, Hanoch Teller writes in his biography of Rabbi Binyamin Steinberg of Beis Yaakov of Baltimore(“A Matter of Principal”, pages 97-99) that R. Steinberg agreed with Gedolim who did not publicly forbid college. He writes,

    “Rabbi Steinberg(although he spoke of the down side only in private)…[considered those who had the resources to learn in Kollel] to be “both happy and fortunate”(pg 98).

    “Though he did not express his critique openly, he worried about what would happen to the entire system should the money ever give out. He feared there would be panic and that suddenly hundreds of families, if not more, would find themselves with no means of support” (pg 99).

  41. Dovid Teitelbaum says:

    DMF,
    You disgust me. You personally attack Rabbi Adlerstein and you don’t even have the decency to use a real name. It’s precisely people like you and those with your philosophy that are the cause for all the problems in the Chareidi world today, and the problems are so numerous and huge to even begin mentioning. The situation in Israel would never have come to this terrible matzav if not for people like you.
    Your kind of people do nothing for Klal Yisroel except keep repeating this nonsense of what the “gedolim” say, as if you have some kind of respect for the gedolim. You have no respect. You dont even listen to what you claim they say. The letters from the “gedolim” both here and in Israel is to prohibit the use of the Internet unless its for business use only, yet here you are reading a blog that you claim is against Gedolim. You dont even follow you own logic.
    I met many people like you. You dont respect gedolim, you just use them for pushing your agenda. It’s people like you that misinform these gedolim about the realities of whats going on. You care more about keeping this gedolim myth going on than about the daily chilul hashem happenings. I have nothing more to say than I hope you guys are exposed for who you really are. The biggest of hypocrites and arrogant beyond belief.
    Good Shabbos

  42. Steve Brizel says:

    There was an article in HaAretz about legislation that would remove the money paid to American young men in the Mir and other yeshivos. I was surprised that the same did not warrant more discussion and analysis as to its proponents. Furthermore, a coalition which consists of Bennett, Livni & Lapid cannot be realistically viewed as a coalition of a long duration because of their diametically opposed views on the peace process.

  43. Baruch Friedman says:

    Yasher Koach to “DMF” for raising a real issue; and kol hakavod to Rabbi Adlerstein for an exceptionally balanced and, most notably, truly humble response. I cannot speak for anyone else, but when I see someone saying “I may be wrong and you may be right”, I see a seeker of truth, an unfortunately rare specimen at that.
    In contradistinction to those who attack DMF for perpetuating the Gedolim myth, I see the issue of the role of gedolei Yisrael vis-a-vis what makes sense to us as a serious issue, one that should haunt any thinking Torah Jew. As R’ Adlerstein indicates, this is worthy of a full-fledged discussion (after Pesach…).

    [Rabbi Adlerstein: Would you be so kind as to share with us how and with whom you verified the Chazon Ish quotation? First hand, second hand, nat bar nat? Was this something he publicized, or said only to one person? How is it that the people who hung around him and whom he respected and considered as the educators of the next generation either where not aware of this or supressed it (bearing in mind that Rav Steinman, R’ Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, Rav Shach, the Steipler, R’ Edelstein, Rav Chaim Kanievsky and Rav Nissim Kareltiz were all people with close relationships to the CI.)

    [Actually, I won’t. I am not going to subject my sources and families to the kind of terrorism from kanoim that is commonplace in our community. For anyone who trusts me, the sources are multiple, and include one of my rabbeim who named the other party to the conversation with the CI and the circumstances surrounding it. As far as the stance of the gedolei roshei yeshiva, shlit”a, the question may have to be turned against you. Many of us with first hand knowledge of the antics of the gatekeepers know all too well how they pervert the words of those roshei yeshiva at times, and at others feed them with inaccurate information. We abide by R Elyashiv’s instruction: “Never believe anything you hear in my name unless you hear it from me directly.” Some of us who have been there would add, “…unless you hear it from me directly, not in the presence of my gatekeepers.” How do we deal with the sheer volume of pronouncements coming from some quarters? The same way we were taught to learn a sugya that troubled us, preventing us from moving on. We were told, “No one died of a question.” We would rather leave as an unanswered question the cognitive dissonance created by certain headlines than seize upon answers that we cannot believe.

    The Gra said the the Kuzari represents the authentic mesorah of Klal Yisrael, suggesting it be substituted for Shaar HaYichud in Chovos HaLevavos. R. Yehudah HaLevi says therein that the Torah does not obligate a person to accept what is entirely irrational. So many of us have gotten to that point when we read various publications, that the safest thing for our yiras Shomayim is simply to leave questions like yours unanswered, rather than mangle our nekudas ha-emes.]

  44. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    > As far as the Mir. Perhaps they should not have become addicted to government funding. A little forsight goes a long way

    You can say that about every single project dependent on government funding and support (including Gush Katif). This, in turn, is always a question of priorities. The question is if the religious world should say – yes, if the government has, say, 572 projects it can fund (including all kinds of things the frum world finds abhorrent) then it is okay if the Mir is further down the list and falls apart.

    > Yet another indication of how the Chareidi parties lack any values and morals when it comes to anything outside of extorting money for votes. Mima nafshach, it the far lest is right and their ideas will bring peace, then the chareidim should have been far left all along. If the right is correct and the far left positions will bring destruction and death, then how dare they support these positions for the sake of extorting money from working folk.

    And if they would take a position, you’d say how dare they have a position on security matters if it isn’t their kids getting killed in the army? They actually take quite a sensible position in their circumstance – whatever the majority of the country, as represented by the government’s position takes, we accept.

    > In any case, if shas sides with the far left, they are done for – most of their voters are not chareidim and have right wing opinions.

    Shas was already in the government along with Meretz. Voters have short memories.

    > In UTJ as well, they know that such a move will not come without a cost since the chareidim have on average a more right wing view.

    That is a result of alliance with Likud since 1977; it does not run all that deep. It is true, though, that they would prefer not to have to go that route. But it doesn’t mean they won’t.

    > More evidence that the Chareidi parties have no concern for Klal Yisrael and only care about “Unser”.

    Remind me, who included a clause in the coalition agreement about 100 million shekel for Religious Zionist institutions? And on the other side of the equation, find me someone, anyone, who says that Moshe Gafni was a sector-centered Finance Committee chairman.

    With everything, the Religious Zionist settlement ideology is one that is accepted by some, rejected by others, and it exacts a far, far heavier price from the economy (and attention from the IDF) than the Charedi one. The only difference is that the RZ feels that they, unlike the Charedim, have the right to billions of shekels to fund their projects.

  45. Natan Slifkin says:

    “If I remember correctly, Rav Moshe Feinstein, z’l’, said that anyone that doesn’t listen to the Gedolei Hador is like someone who denies Torah Sh’baal Peh.”

    It seems very unlikely that you remember correctly. In Igros Moshe Yoreh De’ah 3:88, Rav Moshe writes that “one should not be concerned about questioning and disagreeing with Gedolim of our generation – even the highest level Gadol – as long as it is done in a respectful manner.”

    Also, your definition of who is, and who is not, one of the Gedolim (do you consider Rav Aharon Lichtenstein to be one of the Gedolim?) might not be the same as other peoples’ definition.

  46. Yaakov Menken says:

    Natan, without entering into the larger discussion here, that is a serious misreading of R’ Moshe in Yoreh Deah. He’s answering a question as to whether it’s disrespectful to a Gadol to disagree with his interpretation in learning. That has nothing to do with the obligation to listen to the rulings of the Gedolei Torah, as found in Devarim 17:9 and Rashi ad loc.

    Not anyone gets to nominate someone to be a Gadol.

  47. Natan Slifkin says:

    Yaakov, that is a serious misreading of R’ Moshe, Devarim 17:9 and Rashi ad loc.
    R’ Moshe is speaking about piskei halachah, not merely arguing in learning. See that teshuvah carefully, as well as Yoreh De’ah 1:101 where he writes about arguing with Acharonim and Rishonim.
    Devarim 17:9 is talking about the obligation to listen to the Sanhedrin. That is the normative view of most Rishonim with regard to this passuk. The sole exception is the Sefer HaChinnuch, who states that it applies to ziknei hador of all generations. However, (1) this is a minority view, and the Chinnuch has little stature vis-a-vis Rambam and other primary Rishonim, and (2) the Minchas Chinnuch qualifies that this is only where the Ziknei HaDor are acting in a Sanhedrin-like role and following proper protocols (which is not exactly the case today).
    Another way of demonstrating the fallacy of your position would be to point out its consequences. It would mean that every Jew in Israel is halachically obligated d’Oraisa to vote UTJ. That is plainly absurd, as well as clearly not the opinion of many, many talmidei chachamim.
    With regard to your claim that not anyone gets to nominate someone to be a Gadol – who gets to nominate who can nominate someone to be a Gadol? And who gets to nominate that person? You’re going to end up with a circular definition.

  48. Natan Slifkin says:

    For further discussion, see the article by Rav Shlomo Dichovsky (who is certainly qualified to speak on this topic), “Daas Torah b’Halachah,” in Techumin vol. 30, and Rav Nechemia Taylor’s article, “Hayachas lepiskei halachah shel Gedolei HaDor,” in vol. 32.

  49. Chardal says:

    >You can say that about every single project dependent on government funding and support (including Gush Katif). This, in turn, is always a question of priorities. The question is if the religious world should say – yes, if the government has, say, 572 projects it can fund (including all kinds of things the frum world finds abhorrent) then it is okay if the Mir is further down the list and falls apart.

    Anything that depends on government funding, especially projects that are controversial (yes, I include settlements in this category) need to have a contingency plan or at least a plan to wean off government funding (in this respect the settlements are a bit different in that obviously, being towns, the government has to provide the basic services that any town gets). The Mir is a private institution of learning that has setup its budget in such a way that it can not survive without government funding. The people who should give a din veCheshbon for this situation are the askanim who handled the books for the Mir. To rely on a state whose citizens see little to no benefit from funding such an institution is neither wise nor farsighted.

    >And if they would take a position, you’d say how dare they have a position on security matters if it isn’t their kids getting killed in the army? They actually take quite a sensible position in their circumstance – whatever the majority of the country, as represented by the government’s position takes, we accept.

    That is a ridiculous position to take and comes from a complete abdication of the responsibility they should feel for klal Yisrael. I have no problem with Meretz or Avoda… I honestly believe that they are advocating policies that, leShitatam, will save Jewish lives and strengthen the Jewish state. I have a serious problem with people who are poseach al shtei haSeifim for money. You can not claim that your intelligence in insufficient to develop an opinion on what national policy will be the wisest. To cynically jump between political orientations for money is an ugly ugly chillul Hashem that shows every Jews that the value of Jewish lives is not in the cheshbon of the chareidi parties. It makes Machiavelli look good because at least he manipulated people for broader political considerations.

    >Shas was already in the government along with Meretz. Voters have short memories.

    Oh yes, the fabled Rabin government. The one Shas has been running away from for the past twenty years trying to justify and apologize for their part in Oslo. Just google “shas deri oslo” to see the long list of apologies that were necessary in order to save face. Never mind that the settlements are a source of votes for both Shas and UTJ, so I have a hard time taking the ugly and revealing threats of revenge seriously. But time will tell … it could be that I am wrong and the chareidi parties are even more cynical and amoral than I thought.

    >Remind me, who included a clause in the coalition agreement about 100 million shekel for Religious Zionist institutions? And on the other side of the equation, find me someone, anyone, who says that Moshe Gafni was a sector-centered Finance Committee chairman.

    >With everything, the Religious Zionist settlement ideology is one that is accepted by some, rejected by others, and it exacts a far, far heavier price from the economy (and attention from the IDF) than the Charedi one. The only difference is that the RZ feels that they, unlike the Charedim, have the right to billions of shekels to fund their projects.

    Yes, The bayit yehudi actually had the nerve to demand funding to its schools so that the average RZ parent does not have to pay 75% more than the secular or chareidi parent to send their kids to school. What chutzpah! To demand equal funding for our schools after the chareidi parties fulfilled millions into a chinuch atzmai that does not even teach the core subjects at the expense of religious schools that integrate Torah and general knowledge!

    And stop making up things about the “cost” of religious zionism. There is no such cost. We are overall a middle-class community which pays more than its fair share of taxes and has consistently gotten shafted when it comes to receiving anything in return. We are integrated into every part of the state and are represented in (almost) every political party (left and right). We are a part of the national discourse on every topic (including settlements) and contribute opinions to both sides of the political spectrum. You can take your misplaces revenge on settlements all you want (which will of course include many many chareidi families – good luck making the case for protecting them while throwing every other Jew under the bus)

    You keep lumping together RZ and the settlements but they are two separate things and while there is broad support for the settlement in the RZ world, there are also opinions that are more in line with the centrist parties or even leftist parties. These people are still part of our communities! If there is another expulsion of Jews from eretz Yisrael, it will not be because RZ “lost” but rather because the national support for these settlements has waned across the board, and I am sure that there would be RZ people on both sides of this debate because I truly believe that the people I disagree with on these topic are not insane and that reasonable people can disagree. Even if Israel were to c”v retreat to the 67 lines (and I say c”v because I truly believe that this would lead to much death and suffering for the Jewish people), it will not be the end of RZ – because our ideology is bigger than just settlements.

    I don’t think the same can be said of the chareidi world. In the absence of funding for the ridiculous (supposedly intended to be temporary takanat sha’a) sociology of universal full time learning, they might actually have to think about what their purpose as a community is beyond the narrow confines of yeshivot. I honestly believe that such a cheshbon nefesh would be beneficial to all klal Israel since there is so much talent that gets wasted on dvarim ktanim (הוויות דאביי ורבא) without then taking the crucial next step into devarim gedolim which could be of benefit not just for the individual but for all klal Yisrael.

    I am not sure if this plan will hold. It is usually foolish to try and predict Israeli politics. I do know that there is now an opportunity to simultaneously get rid of the cynical and amoral influence of the chareidi parties while at the same time allowing the average chareidi the opportunity to actually contribute back to the country that has given him so much. Time will tell if this opportunity will actualize or if our goverment will fall back into the ugly manipulations of the past.

  50. Chardal says:

    >With regard to your claim that not anyone gets to nominate someone to be a Gadol – who gets to nominate who can nominate someone to be a Gadol? And who gets to nominate that person? You’re going to end up with a circular definition.

    It is even more ridiculous since R’ Moshe himself, when asked how he became such a major authority, answered that he got this status because of the PEOPLE who liked his answered and therefore kept asking him questions. In other words, the people who keep halacha chose the person who will decides halacha for them.

    [YA I always took R Moshe’s words in that New York Times interview very differently. I understood him to mean that talmidei chachamim who turned to him for the tough questions liked the way he handled them, and kept coming back for more. He was not talking about the final halachic “consumer,” as it were, but the learned intermediaries who had enough background to frame the question properly – as well as appreciate the nuance of the answer.]

  51. Ben Waxman says:

    Yes, the Charedi Yeshiva world needs to have its slackers shaken off. Everyone recognizes that. Not just privately, Rabbi Adlerstein. Publicly. Try a google search for

    משה גפני אני בעד גיוס

    WADR to MK Gafni, he speaks out of both sides of his mouth, or rather out of multiple sides of his mouth. When he spoke in Herziliya a few months ago he came out in favor of drafting non-learners. Then when elections were declared he went on Radio Kol B’Rama and denied that he ever said any such thing (despite the video being on Youtube). He has taken the middle position, stating that he has nothing to do with non-learners, this way or that (ya’ani he is only in the Knesset to fight for the rights of people learning). But in any case you don’t see Gafni in the Knesset, fighting for the Nachal Chareidi or Shachar. You don’t see him standing next to Rav Blou.

    More importantly, Gafni is not the sum total of the Chareidi world. Rav Aurbach totally disagrees with this position as do many admorim.

  52. Ben Waxman says:

    As far as the Mir. Perhaps they should not have become addicted to government funding. A little forsight goes a long way

    The first person to state this idea (and much more powerfully and clearly) was the Satmar Rebbe.

  53. Nachum says:

    Binyomin Eckstein: Gush Katif did not fail because it was dependent on government money. It failed because it was forcibly evacuated.

    It’s also kind of odd to say that UTJ voters don’t support settlements when two of the four Jewish cities in the West Bank are 100% charedi and there are numerous other charedi settlements and neighborhoods.

    As to Volozhin, we now know, thanks to the opening of Russian records, that secular studies had little to nothing to do with why it was shut down. The real reasons are a lot uglier. (Also, rarely mentioned is the fact that it reopened shortly after and existed until World War II. There’s even a yeshiva by that name in Israel to this day.)

  54. Dr. E says:

    The sense that I get is that the Chareidi community considers this “gezeira” to be one subject to a Purim-type of hatzala and that things can go back to the old days in one fell swoop.

    I would assume that the next rocket attack or other tragedy (chas v’Shalom) will be exploited as being an obvious and direct Divine “reaction to this new plan and the postions of the new government to uproot Torah and close the Yeshivos…….”. We’ve certainly seen that script before.

    This whole situation exposes the fact that there has not been “leadership” in the Chareidi community for some time. Yes, there have been great Torah personalities, Talmidei Chachamim, and Poskim. But, no leadership that is strategic or big-picture in any way. (I saw a recent Artscroll biography with the tag-line of “a Lifetime of Halachic Leadership”, which unintendedly speaks to this point) Everything has been short-term, focused on a specific need in an insular context. So, the chickens have come home to roost.

    As it relates to the Mir, this is an example of a Yeshiva with a significant number of bochurim from Chutz L’Aretz, who are not at all subject to the draft or national service. On a smaller scale, there are many Anglo and other Yeshivos in Israel, whose Chutz L’Aretz bochurim and Yungeleit are seen on the streets shopping, eating, and beneficiaries of the country’s infrastructure, military, and security. I presume that the members of the new government and voters have also been noticing these consuumers.

  55. Chardal says:

    The exact quote is:

    “You can’t wake up in the morning and decide you’re an expert on answers. If people see that one answer is good, and another answer is good, gradually you will be accepted.”

    I agree that it is open to interpretation. However, it is still describing a bottom to top approach rather than the typical fair you get which is usually the top to bottom approach that “the gedolim of one generation pick the gedolim of the next.” And, min hastam, the Morei Horaa that came to Rav Moshe were chosen by baalbatim who found their answers to resonate, etc, etc

  56. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    > The Mir is a private institution of learning that has setup its budget in such a way that it can not survive without government funding. The people who should give a din veCheshbon for this situation are the askanim who handled the books for the Mir. To rely on a state whose citizens see little to no benefit from funding such an institution is neither wise nor farsighted.

    You see, it is this sort of attitude that testifies as a hundred witnesses that the hearts of the Leumiyim do not beat in sync with the Olam Hatorah and that they are not part of it in any way. The Mirrer Yeshiva is a hoary, glorious citadel of Torah which Hashem miraculously plucked out of the ashes of the Holocaust, which provided Torah Jewry with the ability to continue on afterwards, which produced and continues to produce some of the greatest scholars and leaders of the generation, which had a ripple effect on the entire Torah world, for which a giant of a man, R’ NT Finkel, literally sacrificed every ounce of strength and his very life, to which a donor who actually cared donated $5 million dollars in one check to bail out, and so on and so forth, and all you have to say is – TOUGH LUCK.

    If we do not share at least the need to shed copious tears over the demise of the Mirrer Yeshiva, we share nothing. Nothing at all.

  57. Yaakov Menken says:

    Natan, you previously drove yourself into the ground on this one because you couldn’t explain why Klal Yisroel had to follow Mordechai HaYehudi and not the Gedolim of today. There was no Sanhedrin in his time, either. I’m glad you think I’m misreading R’ Moshe, but according to you he was answering a question that he wasn’t asked.

    The first prerequisite for being listed as a Gadol baTorah is also learned from not only the Sanhedrin, but Moshe v’Yehoshua. Who elected new members of the Sanhedrin? The Amei Ha’aretz? Obviously not.

    Take anyone claiming to be a Gadol, and ask who, in the previous generation, said he should be listened to. Then ask who among their peers says he is the greatest among them. R’ Moshe, in all his great humility, did not mean that he became a Gadol because his Russian-speaking neighbor liked his translations.

    How do you think the Chazon Ish, the Steipler, R’ Moshe, Rav Elyashiv… came to be known and respected? Even when they disagreed strongly, like R’ Moshe and R’ Aharon as compared to the Satmar Rav, each knew the other was standing on solid ground.

  58. Natan Slifkin says:

    Yaakov, I am not sure what you are talking about. Are you claiming that Megillas Esther proves that all Klal Yisroel had to listen to, say, the Chazon Ish or Rav Elyashiv? That’s an astonishing chiddush, that I don’t think anyone has ever said. Rav Moshe clearly disagreed. And obviously a lot of Gedolim in our era – such as Rav Ovadiah, all the Chassidishe rabbonim, and even plenty of Litvishe Gedolim – disagreed. Otherwise, why didn’t they all follow Rav Elyashiv regarding who to vote for (in both national and municipal elections), and who should lead Ponovezh?
    The Rishonim are very clear. Lo Sasur applies to the Sanhedrin. Not to any group of Rabbonim in another era. (With the exception of the minor daas yachid of the Chinnuch, as discussed.)
    And Rav Moshe is very explicit – and indeed, is stating the obvious. There is no formal body of rabbinic authority beyond the Sanhedrin. Any talmid chacham is perfectly entitled to pasken as he sees fit. He is not obligated to follow others. All history of halachah demonstrates this.
    It’s ironic that you mention the Satmar Rav. He certainly didn’t believe that one is obligated to follow the majority of Gedolim!
    And if your definition of Gadol is that he has to be approved by the previous generation, then Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, to pick but one example, certainly qualifies.
    Again, I ask you this: Are you seriously claiming that every Jew in Israel is halachically obligated to vote UTJ? You are making the most staggering innovations in rabbinic authority that are clearly disputed by most of the Torah world!

  59. Dovid Teitelbaum says:

    Rabbi Menken,
    With all do respect you seem to have left out so many other great Torah giants from the past generation. Many of those others were much closer in ideology to the other gedolim than the Satmar Rav. Was this intentional?

  60. lacosta says:

    excerpt–The people who should give a din veCheshbon for this situation are the askanim who handled the books for the Mir. To rely on a state whose citizens see little to no benefit from funding such an institution is neither wise nor farsighted.

    response—You see, it is this sort of attitude that testifies as a hundred witnesses that the hearts of the Leumiyim do not beat in sync with the Olam Hatorah and that they are not part of it in any way

    … can someone explain to me where the haredi attitude developed that they should live on yenner’s cheshbon, that their mosdos should have no fiscal accountability, that they should attack the government and its hiloni constituents all the while demanding more of their anti-religious lucre? people didnt live like this in the alte heim; if there was no kemach there was no tora–but they would never dare abscond with someone else’s kemach via tekias kaf….

  61. Ben Waxman says:

    You see, it is this sort of attitude that testifies as a hundred witnesses that the hearts of the Leumiyim do not beat in sync with the Olam Hatorah . . .

    Without getting into the point regarding the Mir Yeshiva’s fate, the arrogance exhibited in the above sentence speaks for itself (I am referring to the word Olam Hatorah). IMO a little humility, a little anava from everyone would go a long way.

  62. Yaakov Menken says:

    Dovid Teitelbaum, I was illustrating the range of perspectives of Gedolim. The point is that you can have Gedolim who disagree on major issues, and if you follow one school or the other, you are following Da’as Torah. [Needless to say, the Satmar Rav’s followers don’t vote for UTJ, since they don’t vote at all.] That is a very far cry from saying that R’ Moshe “clearly disagreed” with the Mesorah he handed us, based upon a lack of (a) reading comprehension and (b) conversation with any of his next generation, such as his sons.

    The Chinuch is a “Daas Yachid” [minority of one] if one hasn’t read the Mishnah Rosh HaShanah 25a and Braysah loc cit., Pirkei Avos (“Aseh Lecha Rav”), the Rambam’s Igeres Teiman, the Gr”a, etc. They do not all quote the verse, but they all say the same thing as the Chinuch with the same rationale. See Rav Aharon Roter’s Sha’arei Aharon “al bayot hasha’ah”, the first Ma’amar, and you will see that “it doesn’t apply today” is itself hardly a new thing. On p. 21 under the heading “B’chol Dor VaDor” [in every generation], one finds this passage, which was almost certainly originally written during R’ Moshe’s lifetime:

    And there are those of them who say: “While in the past generation we had world-class giants that the Divine Spirit rested upon, this is not true with the Sages of our generation, there is a chasm between them, and therefore it is permissible for us to question whether we are obligated to listen to their voice.” Know that one who says this testifies upon himself that he has not read, and has not learned, and has not served the scholars.

    He brings the Mishnah Rosh Hashanah 25a [which required listening to Rabban Gamliel’s Beis Din, post-Sanhedrin] and Braysah there [which brings proof from Deut. 17:9] as his examples.

    Bedikas Chometz is approaching. That will have to suffice.

  63. Daniel says:

    These are all just funding withholding, but let this be a lesson for the Americans here.

    In a socialist state, withdrawing funding is just as bad as criminal penalties, since everything you have is from the government. When all your necessities are paid for by the state and you are taxed* to pay for them, if you are cut out of the group receiving those benefits then your necessities are cut off while your earnings are still being taken.

    *Yes, I get that we are talking about people who are not working so are not being taxed. However, others in their community are working and are being taxed and many of them do want to support this system. And regardless, the main point of my comment is that financial penalties are basically an end all when all the services you need are provided by the government.

  64. L. Oberstein says:

    Returning to this discussion, I see that many have commented on the Mir. If I were rich, the Mir would be very high on my list to give large sums to. Rav Nosson Tzvi was clearly one of the greatest men of his generation and I envy someone who could give five million dollars to help bail out the Mir ,which got into debt because of how many talmidim Rav Nosson Tzvi took in.
    When I went to Kerem B’Yavne in 1965, the Jewish Agency paid for my transportation on the SS Shalom and I never was asked to pay one cent in tuition. Nowadays, my daughter’s Seminary takes the money up front with no refunds.Every yeshiva that caters to Americans takes tuition. These students not only spend a lot of money ,their parents all come to visit and spend more money. Many people make aliyah because they spent time learning in Israel. Israelis never paid tuition in any yeshiva and there is no separation of religion and state and these schools are as entitled to funding as any other school. Many Americans make aliyah because the tuition is onerous in the USA and hardly a factor in Israel.
    Israeli Charedim are at a Crossroads and they need to stop being hysterical and deal realistically with the government. The so called leaders-that is the Askanim- are doing a lousy job and they need competition. If there were primaries in Degel Hatorah and Agudah, then I doubt these people would win.

  65. Tal Benschar says:

    The first person to state this idea (and much more powerfully and clearly) was the Satmar.

    Oolai Ha Rav Mi Satmar Tsadak — Prof. Robert Auman.

  66. Dovid Teitelbaum says:

    I’m sorry but I’m still getting this “Only my gadol is the leader” response. I was brought up to have respect for all great torah leaders. I went to the Rebba for a dollar, I saw Reb Moshe for siyum Mishnayis and In Israel I would visit punivitcht to see Rav Shach. Those are just a few of the greats I would visit. I was never taught that one of them is greater than the rest, but that each has his strengths to admire. We followed Rav Moshe on many pesakim but not all.
    I’m sure all the above had much to say on every topic but my father like everyone else I knew decided for themselves whom to follow. Maybe for Israeli Chareidim this is different but I can’t believe that every great rabbi in Israel agrees on every issue. So back to the basic question, why do some people feel that their Rabbi is the leader of all Jews or even a group of Jews?

  67. joel rich says:

    r’ym,
    and perhaps as bedikat chametz approaches (ok actually just done :-)) we might reflect on what I’m sure many baalei mussar have said (I heard it from The Big D in MTA iirc) that if we spent 10% of the time we spend on getting rid of the physical chametz, on getting rid of the spiritual chametz in our hearts, moshiach would have come a long time ago (or to quote Jackie DeShannon – Put A Little Love in Your Heart )
    KT

  68. Natan Slifkin says:

    Yaakov, nobody is disputing that there is a notion of rabbinic authority in Judaism. Nobody is disputing that a person must not go against the ruling of their Rav. And nobody is disputing that there is such a thing as a Beis Din with jurisdiction over a community.

    This dispute started when someone claimed that it is forbidden for anyone at all to disagree with (certain) Charedi Gedolim. And it continued when you implied that there is a d’Oraisa halachic obligation in this regard, when you further implied that everyone is halachically obligated to follow “the Gadol HaDor,” and when you subtly implied that Rav Aharon Lichtenstein is not considered to be a Rav who may be followed against Charedi Gedolim.

    Aseh Lecha Rav and the other sources that you raise have no bearing on any of this. Nor do your sources demonstrate, or even attempt to demonstrate, that there are certain rabbonim that other rabbonim are beholden to follow. There are different halachic communities in Judaism today. Sefardim are not beholden to follow Ashkenazim, Chassidim are not beholden to follow Litvaks – and non-Charedim are not beholden to follow Charedim. Nor, in fact, is anyone beholden to any rabbinic authority other than their own.

  69. Chardal says:

    >You see, it is this sort of attitude that testifies as a hundred witnesses that the hearts of the Leumiyim do not beat in sync with the Olam Hatorah and that they are not part of it in any way.

    You are right in one way. For the RZ there is no olam hatorah that (a new fangled Chareidi term) that is separate from Klal Yisrael. The Torah needs to be connected to our national life, not a sectarian fettish.

    >If we do not share at least the need to shed copious tears over the demise of the Mirrer Yeshiva, we share nothing. Nothing at all.

    Indeed I do not share any tears over an institution which, when one of my best friends, upon the recomdation of his rav, came there to learn, told him he his not fit to be there on account of his blue shirt. And indeed we share nothing, but the group that has separated itself from the Klal, which does not mourn with it nor share in its happiness in victory. Nor participates in its national life. Is the chareidim. The Israeli chareidim have become a sect of cynicism. They have excluded everyone for decades and now cry foul, when page people whom they excluded,surprise, do not feel much compassion towards them. There is a price for the sociological decisions your leaders have made, and you are now paying that price.

  70. Shades of Gray says:

    “Sefardim are not beholden to follow Ashkenazim, Chassidim are not beholden to follow Litvaks – and non-Charedim are not beholden to follow Charedim.”

    Some online sources:

    R. Daniel Eidensohn today writes on his blog(“Lo Sasur: Rabbinic authority today?”):

    “There is a very intelligent summary of the different position in HaTakanos b’Yisroel Prof Yisroel Stefansky published by Mosad Rav Kook…He states that there are 4 major positions regarding lo sassur as a doreissa prohibition…Lo sassur as rabbinic or asmachta…”

    In a shiur(“Daat Torah”, 17 Shvat 5763) available on bmtl.org , R Hershel Shechter says:

    “I don’t think there is only one Gadol Hador…everybody agrees it’s one person? Lubavticher Chasidim say it’s only the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and Satmar Chasidm say it’s only the Satmar Rebbe…
    [R. Elyashiv] hasn’t been yet elected as the one and only Gadol Hador…”

    From “Pillar” on Torah Web, by R. Willig:

    “Harav Hershel Schachter suggests [Nefesh Harav p. 61,62] that Beis Din Hagadol’s authority stems from the gedolim of the generation who serve on it. They are considered the rav muvhak, the primary rebbe, of all of Am Yisrael in their generation, and their rulings must be followed (see Tosfos Berachos 31b). However, if an individual has a rav muvhak, a personal rav, or a rav of his community, he is required to follow that rav’s rulings, even his minority views…

    The requirement to follow the greatest halachic authority in the absence of a rav muvhak is challenging for many individuals who are unable to determine which rav or beis din is greater. Presumably the common practice of scrupulous observant Torah Jews should be followed. The definition of a qualified posek is equally problematic. If in doubt, common practice of scrupulous observant Torah Jews should be followed. If more than one practice is common and traditional, one may rely on his rabbi to choose between them.

    Innovative and non-traditional practices require a ruling of an eminently and undoubtedly qualified posek. One who honestly believes that his direct or indirect posek is so qualified may follow his rulings. Otherwise, the more common and traditional practices should be followed.”

  71. Natan Slifkin says:

    Yaakov, furthermore, the Mishnah in Rosh HaShanah that you cite proves my point. Rabban Gamliel was not the greatest Torah scholar – in fact, Rabbi Yehoshua was the greater scholar. The reason why Rabbi Yehoshua had to defer to Rabban Gamliel was precisely because Rabban Gamliel was the nasi, the head of the Sanhedrin (and not post-Sanhedrin, as you state).

  72. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    Ori Pomeranz: Thanks for the careful reading. #1 was my intention and it was clutzy on my part. My apologies. But your saving of my inaccuracy was elegant. I have had teachers like that, who could turn a clutzy comment of a student into a just-missed near brilliancy.

  73. Yaakov Menken says:

    Dovid, I am at a loss to explain why, but you seem to have read into my words something very much at odds with what I actually wrote, even after I clarified. I can only repeat: “I was illustrating the range of perspectives of Gedolim. The point is that you can have Gedolim who disagree on major issues, and if you follow one school or the other, you are following Da’as Torah.” Did you imagine that I was claiming there were only two? That would require that there was never any disagreement between R’ Moshe and R’ Aaron! Nothing that you describe as your father’s decision-making differs from what I said.

    Natan, you seem to be trying to have it both ways. “Any talmid chacham is perfectly entitled to pasken as he sees fit,” and yet “nobody is disputing that there is a notion of rabbinic authority in Judaism.” Rabban Gamliel was after Churban HaBayis. He was removed from his position and reinstated, and the Rabbis of his day couldn’t mete out the death penalty as they did in the Lishkas HaGazis. [I have spoken with someone who agrees with you that he was called the Nasi of the Sanhedrin, and someone who agrees with my understanding that he was the Nasi of the Rabbonon, but it was no longer called the Sanhedrin. But both agreed that this made no difference.] If you want to read the posuk literally, it says you shall go “to the Cohanim, the Levi’im, and the Judge that shall be in that day,” which of course means the Mikdash, not Yavneh.

    Why did we have to listen to Rabban Gamliel? So that there shouldn’t be two Torahs. This was recorded in the Mishnah precisely because the simple logic of the Torah continues to apply (read the perushim there). All of the reasoning, the rationale behind it, does not depend upon what formal structure there is. Your statement that the Chinuch is a “Da’as Yachid” is contradicted by all the other sources that state the same fundamental obligation, regardless of whether they quote the same verse.

    How is it that Beis Shammai acted according to their understanding of Halacha until the Bas Kol said the Halacha follows Bais Hillel? Because multiple schools of thought are not necessarily splitting into two Torahs. There was a Sanhedrin, and yet the two schools followed their own opinions until the Bas Kol. How does that fit with your understanding that the Sanhedrin had singular authority? The answer is that each school would tell you the other also represents Da’as Torah.

    Without a Bas Kol, at what point does a person have authority to poskin against the consensus of other Gedolei Torah? Well that depends upon your definition of “against.” Centuries later, the Rem”a decided not to write his own Sefer Halachah, merely writing glosses to R’ Yosef Karo’s “Set Table” which he entitled “the Tablecloth.” Even though the Rem”a primary aim was to write where Ashkenazic practice differs with the Shulchan Aruch, that’s not called “two Torahs.” Why? Because each would tell you the other also represents Da’as Torah.

    If you asked R’ Moshe could one follow the Satmar Rav, or vice-versa, both would say the other is also Da’as Torah. If you asked Rav Shach or Rav Elyashiv zt”l the same regarding yblctv”a Rav Ovadiah Yosef shlit”a, or vice-versa, they would say the same. The Torah isn’t splitting into pieces when the ‘disagreement’ is among people who all say the other opinion also comes from Da’as Torah, just like Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel.

    It’s silly for *us* to attempt to crown someone a Gadol. We have no idea how to evaluate those who truly are. Ask the previous generation and the others of the current one, and they will somehow know to distinguish between a true Da’as Yachid and “he is also Da’as Torah.” I know only that we don’t know nearly enough to make our own valid judgement of which is which.

  74. Natan Slifkin says:

    Yaakov, now I don’t know what you’re getting at at all. You seem to be backing down from a lot of your earlier claims.
    When I said that “Any talmid chacham is perfectly entitled to pasken as he sees fit,” and yet “nobody is disputing that there is a notion of rabbinic authority in Judaism,” that was not “trying to have it both ways” – it was expressing a single approach. Rabbinic authority includes several aspects – such as that of the obligation to follow one’s own authority. It also means that where there is a framework such as a Sanhedrin, other rabbanim are subjected to the Sanhedrin’s authority. See Maharsha to the Gemara you mention, where he states that even though Rav Yehoshua was greater than Rabban Gamliel, he had to subject himself to his ruling due to the institutional authority of Rabban Gamliel’s Beis Din. But beyond such formal institutions, a competent talmid chacham is not obligated to follow any other rabbonim – regardless of whether or not they consider him to express Daas Torah, which might reflect more on them than it does on him.
    Again, the discussion began when someone claimed that it is forbidden for anyone to disagree with the Charedi Gedolim’s position regarding IDF duty. Do you agree with that point of view or not?
    Then when the person claimed Rav Moshe Feinstein as support, I pointed out that he had a different view of rabbinic authority – that one is entitled to learn and even pasken against Gedolim, Acharonim and even Rishonim. Do you agree with that or not?
    Then you strongly implied that it is obligatory to follow the single “Gadol HaDor,” but later you seemed to back down from that.
    Now at one point you claim that a bas kol is a prerequisite for dispute. But a bas kol was not a prerequisite for there being a dispute between Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel; it was a way to resolve the dispute!
    Later you seem to be saying that the requirement is that each side considers the other to be “Daas Torah.” I have no idea where you get that from as a prerequisite. So if Religious Zionist rabbanim respect charedi rabbanim as expressing “Daas Torah,” but charedi rabbanim do not respect Religious Zionist rabbanim as expressing “Daas Torah”, then it would be forbidden for any Jew to follow Religious Zionist rabbanim? Of course, in such a case, a charedi Jew should not follow them – but you seemed to be claiming that no Jew at all, even in their own communities, would be entitled to follow them!

  75. Yaakov Menken says:

    Natan, if you think I “backed down,” it is only because you didn’t read carefully my earlier statements. I’m not getting into a specific issue (or person, or Rabbi) or who agrees or disagrees with a particular position about it. You have repeatedly attempted that, and I have repeatedly refused. Rabbonim of today should be considered as Gedolim for the same reasons that Hillel and Shammai, R’ Yosef Karo and the Rem”a, the Ben Ish Chai and the Chofetz Chaim, were acknowledged in theirs despite their contrary opinions. There’s no reason to change the qualifications today.

    What I did say clearly is that you had completely misunderstood the question that R’ Moshe answered, and it is categorically untrue that he said someone can posken against the consensus of Gedolei Torah. He was answering a question as to whether it was disrespectful to the Chazon Ish to have argued against his positions in learning, which were not relevant to Halachah L’Ma’aseh. Anyone who questions this is free to open the relevant Teshuvah, Yoreh De’ah 3:88, which refers to the questioner’s Divrei Torah, rather than Piskei Halacha. R’ Moshe speaks of how beautiful it is when the Chazon Ish is quoted in learning, even when reaching a different conclusion.

    Your statement that “a competent talmid chacham is not obligated to follow any other rabbonim” is without support; it is at odds with your earlier claim that “no one is disputing that there is a notion of rabbinic authority.” Rabbinic authority doesn’t end because someone claims to be a “competent” talmid chacham; I’m sure you can find many people claiming to be competent talmidei chachamim at JTS.

    >Then you strongly implied that it is obligatory to follow the single “Gadol HaDor,” but later you seemed to back down from that.

    Not only did I never say such a thing, I never said anything which could be interpreted in that fashion. To the contrary, I have always spoken about the range of Gedolim and their opinions. About the best I can say is that considering what you did with R’ Moshe’s Teshuvah, I’m in awfully good company.

    I’ll let you prove I “strongly implied” anything of the sort before I comment further. Otherwise, no reader should assume my silence is acquiescence, it’s simply not worth the keystrokes.

  76. dr. bill says:

    Rabbis Slifkin and Menken, when quoting the famous dispute between R. Gamliel and R. Yehoshua it is critical to distinguish between horaah, takanah, and various types of maasei beis din including kiddush hachodesh. each is governed by very different halakhot/rules, particularly where someone who is roui le’horaah feels that the beis din has absolutely erred. the views of rishonim vary dramatically; according to most/all rishonim two or three of those categories are relevant. it suffices to say that the widest latitude for machloket among rabbis exists wrt horaah. (it should be noted how few examples of horaah by the beis din hagadol are found in the talmud.) for obvious reasons maasei beis din is least able to tolerate machloket. Takanot can even be overridden, in specific situations, even by the public. a discussion is well beyond what can be addressed in this format.

  77. Eliyahu says:

    another source for R’ Moshe’s attitude to paskening against the consensus of gedolim is in Yore Deah Chelek beis, siman dalet.

  78. Natan Slifkin says:

    Yaakov, I thought that when you referred to an obligation to follow Mordechai that you were speaking of an obligation to follow the single Gadol HaDor. I also understood as such from your insistence that Rav Moshe could not be saying that one may dispute the piskei halachah of the Chazon Ish. If you maintain that you never said that one may not dispute the Gadol Hador, then why is it impossible for Rav Moshe to be saying that one may dispute the Chazon Ish?
    With regard to the teshuvah of Rav Moshe, indeed I invite everyone to look at at. He makes no differentiation between disagreeing in learning and in halachah, and his reasoning is applicable to both.
    You claim that my “statement that ‘a competent talmid chacham is not obligated to follow any other rabbonim’ is without support.” It does not need support; first of all, it is what we see throughout the history of halachah, when poskim dispute other poskim, even a consensus, without applying for a nebulous “Gadol license” in order to do so. Second, hamotzi mechavero alav harayah. You are claiming that a competent talmid chacham is obligated to follow “the Gedolim.” The only source that you have for that is the Chinnuch (and even that is qualified by the Minchas Chinnuch), which is a minor daas yachid. In fact, according to the Chinnuch, if JTS produced twenty rabbis of the caliber of Saul Leiberman, and Orthodoxy failed to produce rabbis of similar caliber, we may well be obligated to follow the JTS rabbis!
    You point out that, if what I say is true, then it would mean that we cannot disqualify a JTS rabbi. Indeed, that is unfortunately true. We can argue with specific piskei halachah, but all we can say about the general notion of such a posek is that he is outside of our own halachic community. Which is indeed how many Charedim feel about Modern Orthodox poskim and Religious Zionist poskim – and perhaps sometimes vice-versa. But there is no objective framework for defining why one’s own halachic community is correct. (Michael Berger, in a book appropriately entitled “Rabbinic Authority”, makes a similar point in great detail.)

  79. Yaakov Menken says:

    I take this as an object lesson in why it’s not worth getting involved in the comments. Start commenting on the comments, and you never have time to write another post. But how could I let pass an obvious distortion, using R’ Moshe to justify ignoring the consensus of Gedolei Torah? So here we are.

    Natan, I seriously don’t know where you get this from. I pointed out that “you couldn’t explain why Klal Yisroel had to follow Mordechai HaYehudi and not the Gedolim of today.” Do you honestly claim to need a reminder that Gedolim is a plural noun?

    Similarly, where did you conclude that I said it is “impossible” for R’ Moshe to have said one may dispute the Chazon Ish? R’ Moshe wasn’t talking about the Chazon Ish’s piskei halacha in that Teshuvah, and you misread it. That’s all I said.

    I’m sure R’ Moshe himself disagreed with the Chazon Ish in psak, just as the Chazon Ish argued on the Chofetz Chaim. But that doesn’t mean that anybody with Rabbi in front of his name is qualified to argue, and your statement that the Chinuch is a “minor Da’as Yachid” does not become true simply because you repeat it. You have presented no source to back up this proposition, and your misreading of R’ Moshe doesn’t bode well for your ability to do so. There’s been an objective framework for knowing the Gedolim, the Ba’alei HaMesorah, in use for millenia; apparently you don’t like how it works, but that doesn’t justify claiming it doesn’t exist.

    It’s interesting how you lump together Torah giants with nothing in common but Torah, from HaRav Ben Zion Abba Shaul, to Rav Shach, to the Lev Simcha of Ger, to Rav Mordechai Gifter, as “charedim.” Michael Berger graduated a year before me. He’s a sincere guy and a genius, but he can’t validate an erroneous understanding of how our Mesorah works (I have not read his book, so I have no idea whether he tries). JTS can’t produce one Saul Lieberman, which is very much the point.

    Eliyahu, I am indebted to you for your greater familiarity with Igros Moshe. I’ll translate the first part of the Teshuva you cited, because it so neatly puts this nonsense about R’ Moshe’s opinion on Da’as Torah to rest.

    With regards to a Shochet [kosher slaughterer] who prays at the lectern on Sabbath, Holidays and Yom Kippur with a microphone, which is in public, but with the claim that the past and current rabbis in that synagogue permitted this:

    Certainly, his claim that he was “shogeg” [sinning through error] is worthless. The Agudas HaRabbonim, who are the Gedolei Torah, and who are also in the majority, publicized that it is forbidden to speak with a microphone. How is it possible to err and listen to some lenient rabbi, even if [that rabbi] has a reason? His words are nullified against the opinion of the Gedolim and majority. Therefore [this shochet] has the status of a “mechallel b’mayzid” [deliberate violator of the Sabbath].

    Come to think of it, this is probably the original commenter’s recollection that Reb Moshe says that one who doesn’t listen to Gedolei Torah “is like someone who denies Torah Sh’baal Peh,” because a public Sabbath violator is considered to deny the Torah. This quote makes it more pragmatic. But there it is in black and white: one who listens to a “competent talmid chacham” (“even if he has a reason”) against the consensus of Gedolei Torah is violating the Sabbath.

  80. DG says:

    Here is the teshuva of R’ Moshe.

    אם מותר לחלוק על דברי רבותינו ברבים, אפילו במקומם בע”ה י”א ניסן תשל”ז לגדול אחד.
    בדבר שיש לך איזה חשש לקבוע מקומך בבני ברק מצד שבתוך דברי תורה איכא פעמים שאתה אומר שלא כדברי החזון איש זצ”ל, לא מובן שום חשש בזה ואדרבה זהו כבודו אשר מזכירים שיטתו בד”ת ומעיינים בדבריו אף שהמסקנא דחכם המעיין הוא שלא כדבריו, ולא עלה כלל על דעת החזון איש זצ”ל שלא ימצאו ת”ח שיפלגו עליו ולא שייך שיקפיד ע”ז דאדרבה האמת והשלום אהבו כדאיתא ביבמות י”ד ע”ב על פלוגתא דב”ש וב”ה, וענין שפתותיו דובבות הוא אף כשמזכירין דברי החכם וחולקין עליו, אבל ודאי צריך להזכיר בדרך ארץ, ור’ יהושע (חגיגה כ”ח ע”ב) שהושחרו שיניו מפני תעניותיו לא היה משום שהקשה על דברי ב”ש אלא מפני שאמר בבטול בושני מדבריכם ב”ש אבל בלשון דרך ארץ ודאי שליכא שום קפידא לא על מה שמקשין על דברי החכם ואף לא על מי שחולקין עליו, ואדרבה מפורש בב”ב סוף דף ק”ל שאמר רבא לתלמידיו ר”פ ור”ה בדר”י דאם יהיו להם קושיות על פסקא שלו אסור להו לדון כדבריו דאין לדיין אלא מה שעיניו רואות וה”ה באיסורים, ורק אמר שלא יקרעו פסקא שלו לבטל דבריו דאי הואי בחיים דלמא אמינא לכו טעמא ופי’ רשב”ם ושמא גם אתם תמצאו תירוץ לקושיתכם, אבל כל זמן שלא מוצאין תירוץ אסור להם להורות כרבא אף שהיה רבם, וא”כ כ”ש וכ”ש שאין לחוש מלהקשות ומלחלוק על גדולי דורותינו אף הגדולים ביותר אבל באופן דרך ארץ, שלכן ליכא שום חשש ושום קפידא להשאר בבני ברק ולומר שיעורים ואדרבה יהיה מליץ יושר בעדך על שאתה מעיין בספריו. והנני מוקירך, משה פיינשטיין.
    Three observations:
    He’s writing to “a certain gadol”;
    He clearly says it is not only permitted but required for a student to rule halachically against his Rebbe if he cannot avoid such a conclusion –
    BUT he is talking about a case when the rebbe is no longer alive. This teshuva is thus not talking about disagreeing with a living gadol at all. If he is alive, the question of his personal authority still applies. After his death, he has no personal authority – the question is only about whether his rulings are authoritative over the opinions of the living poskim and Rav Moshe says no (with the one exception – see the teshuva).
    Thus, who is a gadol with authority and who is bound by that authority remains an open question.

  81. Yaakov Menken says:

    R’ Dovid, while you are right that he brings the example of R’ Yehoshua even in Divrei Halacha, that is not what he says in writing to the Gadol — on the contrary, he refers twice to disagreeing in his Divrei Torah. So it seems to be about “speaking in learning” (in writing) rather than Psak Halacha.

    Put it this way: R’ Moshe says that it is in no way disrespectful to the Chazon Ish to disagree with him “in learning.” But whether or not this can be used in Halacha L’Ma’aseh is not answered in this Teshuvah. R’ Yehoshua said that his Talmidim should poskin in accordance with their own understanding — not anyone, his Talmidim, people appropriate to be giving Psak — and they were not poskening “lifnei Rabo” after his p’tirah.

    Given that he was writing to “Gadol Echad” it is possible that the questioner had sufficient authority to be making rulings, in which case it might have had practical ramifications — but this wasn’t the point that R’ Moshe was addressing. He’s simply saying that it is appropriate and in no way disrespectful to disagree in learning with someone greater than oneself. See, I’m doing it right now!

    So I agree fully that “who is a gadol with authority and who is bound by that authority” is left an open question by this Teshuvah — though I disagree that it is an open question. Clearly R’ Moshe felt that there were Gedolim and that when there was a consensus of Gedolim, individual Rabbis could not be lenient — though they could still argue in learning.

  82. Natan Slifkin says:

    Yaakov, you are again making confusing statements. Mordechai was a single person, not plural. Furthermore, you claim that you never said that Rav Moshe prohibited arguing with a Gadol – but in the very next paragraph you say that [only] someone like Rav Moshe, but not any rabbi, may argue with a Gadol!
    If Rav Moshe said that it is forbidden to argue with the majority of the Agudas Rabbonim, that is hardly the end of the matter. With the majority psak of the Agudas HaRabbonim regarding the Synagogue Council of America, Rav Eliezer Silver did not agree with the psak, and Rav Soloveitchik did not believe that it must be obeyed. (Of course, there are those who would say that Rav Soloveitchik was not a Gadol – but are you claiming that?)
    You say that I need to bring a source to prove that the Chinnuch is a Daas Yachid. But this is backwards; you need to bring sources from the Rishonim who say the same as him! Whereas I can point you to numerous Rishonim who state explicitly that Lo Sasur applies only to the Sanhedrin. I can also point you to lots of teshuvos from non-major Acharonim who dispute piskei halachah that were agreed upon by the consensus of “major” authorities.
    You say that “there’s been an objective framework for knowing the Gedolim, the Ba’alei HaMesorah, in use for millenia.” Then what is it? And why don’t the Gedolim know about this framework? In practice, we see various people revered as Gedolim by some claiming that certain people revered by Gedolim as others are not Gedolim, or even good Jews. Do I need to spell out the views of the Satmar Rav regarding Rav Kook, Rav Shach regarding the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rav Shach and Rav Moshe Shapiro regarding Rav Soloveitchik?
    You claimed that you did not want to get into talking about specific people/institutions, but that is kindof the whole point. Furthermore, you yourself brought up JTS, Rav Shach, and all the other names you mentioned. So I will do the same. Was Rav Kook a gadol? The Lubavitcher Rebbe? Rav Soloveitchik? Turning to the living, what about Rav Aharon Lichtenstein? Rav Hershel Schechter? Rav Abadi? Rav Yaakov Ariel? Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky? For every one of these names, you’ll find plenty of other people revered as Gedolim claiming that these people are not Gedolim or even at all acceptable as manhigim. And what about the Eidah Charedis saying that anyone who paskens to vote (such as Rav Elyashiv) or go to nachal chareidi (Rav Steinman) is uprooting all of Yiddishkeit and has no chelek be’elokei yisroel?
    It would sure be nice if there were an objective framework for knowing the true Gedolim, the Ba’alei HaMesorah. But there isn’t.

  83. dr. bill says:

    Rabbi Menken, do you seriously believe that one would ask a sheailah about disagreeing in learning as opposed to psak? I know of no instance where that was not commonplace throughout jewish history. in any case, iirc, the practical issue addressed was well known and very relevant last week.

    your distinction of “lifnei Rabo” is the approach of the ritba and other chachmai sford. it is not universally accepted. see the essay by prof. ta-shma zl for a thorough discussion on halakha ke’batrayi versus/and talmid lifnei rabo.

  84. DG says:

    Rabbi Menken,
    I was not referring to R’ Yehoshua, I was referring to the talmidim of Rava, about whom R’ Moshe said:
    כל זמן שלא מוצאין תירוץ אסור להם להורות כרבא אף שהיה רבם
    “As long as they do not find an answer (to their apparent disproof of a given pesak of Rava), it is forbidden for them to rule (להורות) like Rava, even though he was their rebbe.”
    להורות is undoubtedly pesak Halacha, not just in learning. That is why it is a “Kol shekain” based on that source that arguing in learning is certainly ok.
    But as I pointed out, this only applies after the rebbe’s death.

  85. Yaakov Menken says:

    “Dr. Bill,” I regret to disappoint you, but the answer is “yes,” I do. But I should not have said it was about learning, “not relevant to Halachah L’Ma’aseh.” That’s incorrect. What I said originally is that “he’s answering a question as to whether it’s disrespectful to a Gadol to disagree with his interpretation in learning,” and this remains true (and much more relevant to most of us).

    The point is that Natan misread R’ Moshe to be speaking about the advisability of disagreeing with a Gadol in p’sak halacha, whereas R’ Moshe was only discussing whether disagreement would dishonor (or, in fact, honor) a Gadol (or, for that matter, any writer of Chiddushei Torah) or his memory. This applies whether or not the disagreement has practical application, or is exclusively about interpretation of a Gemara.

    R’ Dovid, see my response above to Dr. Bill. I think that covers your point. As you said, “That is why it is a ‘Kol shekain’ based on that source that arguing in learning is certainly ok.”

    I also would like to withdraw my earlier statement that I should not have wasted time in the comments; I realized that this may soon have broader applicability than this comment thread, so it could prove quite productive. I had to develop both a better understanding and better way of expressing my position, and I am grateful to those (especially Natan) who helped me do so.

    Nonetheless, all good things must come to an end. Natan, you insisted that R’ Moshe said anyone may disagree with a Gadol, and that “a competent talmid chacham is not obligated to follow any other rabbonim.” Meanwhile, what R’ Moshe actually said is that one who follows such a “talmid chacham” is a mechalel Shabbos b’farhesiah.

    You can bring in irrelevant issues if you wish, as well as attempt to discuss who specifically is or isn’t a Gadol, but there’s obviously such a thing as a consensus. Reference to JTS is relevant, because if you were correct, any “competent talmid chacham” could disagree with the Gemara, as all of its conclusions were reached long after the Sanhedrin had disbanded. See the Rambam’s introduction to the Yad as well as the previously referenced Igeres Teiman, and Gem. R”H 25a and Beraysah there, and you can no longer argue that the Chinuch was a Da’as Yachid. No one argues against his point that we won’t have one Torah if every “competent talmid chacham” is free to go his own way. As the Chinuch concludes, without disagreement:

    “The one who violates this, and does not listen to the advice of the Gedolim of his generation in the wisdom of the Torah, ‘in accordance with all that they direct,’ he fails to perform this Commandment. And his punishment is very great, because this is the strong pillar upon which the Torah rests. This is known to anyone who has knowledge.”

  86. Natan Slifkin says:

    Yaakov, if you want a more explicit statement by Rav Moshe, see Orach Chaim 1:109. Amongst other reasons that he gives why one may argue with a Gadol is that there is no such thing today as a Gadol anyway: גם מסתבר שאין בזה”ז דין גדול ומופלא לגבי דין זה שלא לחלוק עליו.
    On the other hand, Rav Moshe did apparently say that nobody may argue with Agudas HaRabbonim. However, (A) I have not yet seen any sources for this, (B) It appears more polemical than halachic, and (C) Rav Soloveitchik clearly disagreed.
    You claim that if what I say is true, then anyone could argue with the Gemara. This is precisely the question asked by Kesef Mishnah and others. He answers that there was a nationwide agreement to canonize the Gemara.
    I don’t know why you bring up Rosh HaShanah 25a again; we’ve already established that that has nothing to do with listening to greater Torah scholars; instead, it shows that greater Torah scholars have to listen to lesser Torah scholars when they are the head of the Sanhedrin/Beis Din.
    I can continue to argue that the Chinnuch is a Daas Yachid as long as you haven’t brought sources to show otherwise. Rambam is explicit that Lo Sasur applies only to the Beis Din HaGadol.
    As for your claim that the Chinnuch’s view is necessary to have “one Torah”, the facts on the ground are that there already are multiple “Torahs” – litvishe, chassidishe, charedi, Zionist, modern Orthodox, etc.
    You say that “there is obviously such a thing as a consensus.” If you’re talking about a universal consensus of Klal Yisroel, like that which canonized the Gemara, I agree. But if you’re talking about a consensus of “recognized Gedolim”, the facts on the ground show that there obviously isn’t any such thing.

  87. Chardal says:

    טור חושן משפט ג, דרכי משה ד״ה וכתב:

    וכתב מהר״י וייל בתשובותיו סימן קמ״ו ולא אשכחן שום למדן בזמן הזה מומחה לרבים שידון האדם בעל כרחו כי כבר נתבטלו דיני תלמיד חכם כו׳

  88. dr. bill says:

    In an interesting piece of history, the Rosh Yeshiva of Torah Vodaath asked why issue a ban on SCA (which at the time already had orthodox participation for 30 years) where the relevant members had an Adom Gadol who can pasken for them? similar arguments were addressed by rabbis Bamberger and Grodzynski.

  89. cvmay says:

    As one who is not willing to intercede in the R. Menken & R. Slifkin discussion, a point should be added to enhance & embellish the talk. Reb Dovid Feinstein will give a pasack that is contrary to his father on halachic matters.

  90. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    > You are right in one way. For the RZ there is no olam hatorah that (a new fangled Chareidi term) that is separate from Klal Yisrael. The Torah needs to be connected to our national life, not a sectarian fettish.

    The Olam Hatorah merely maintains that it is the part of Klal Yisrael which does not allow the rest of Klal Yisrael to stray too far away from itself by, among other things, immersion in the surrounding culture. You see, the Charedim don’t have things like graduation parties from relgious High School with Facebook invites to mixed parties (unlike what RZ HS grads did – with hundreds upon hunderds of attendants, and an account of the party that the RZ website had to censor), they don’t have problems like an entire Shevet of Bnei Akiva “falling in love” with their kommunarit (and asking Rav Aviner what to do about it), they haven’t been infected with the Shomer/not Shomer Negi’ah disease from their MO counterparts, and so on and so forth. Their Rabbis, unlike Rav Melamed, aren’t forced to come out with Pesakim like – yes, it is better for them to watch TV with a woman singer than to curse at a basketball game, because the people we are dealing with are so weak anyway. (All this is a random selection of articles I chanced upon without even looking for them – over the past week.) “Datilonim” are commonplace, “Charedilonim” are not.

    (Yes, some Charedim fail – but there is no institutionalized accepted norm of failure, unlike the RZ. And they intend to keep it that way. From what I’m hearing, ultimately, the hora’ah will likely be that it would be a terrible Chillul Hashem for anyone who can get by financially – even if by Kach hee darkah shel Torah standards – to leave learning as a result of any law passed by a Reform Apikores like Lapid and his RZ comrades-in-arms, and for the time being it will require more Mesirus Nefesh to do so. Efforts will be made to deal with it.)

    The question now is whether the RZ’s talk of protecting the Olam HaTorah is coming from the same complete lack of appreciation for it that you have. With Bennett, I suspect it is. He was taken on a tour of the Mir like a poritz, and he left with the same attitude.

    > Indeed I do not share any tears over an institution which, when one of my best friends, upon the recomdation of his rav, came there to learn, told him he his not fit to be there on account of his blue shirt.

    A talmid who insists on coming to the Mir with a blue shirt has an agenda-driven statement to make beyond any learning he’s interested in, and the Yeshiva is not obligated to take students with an agenda.

    > And indeed we share nothing, but the group that has separated itself from the Klal, which does not mourn with it nor share in its happiness in victory.

    This is anti-Semitic refuse worthy of Der Sturmer. As a small example, Rav Shach cried his eyes out when he heard of the 73 soldiers who were killed in the helicopter crash, and it is complete and utter ignorance and idiocy to think that the Charedim as a whole don’t care whether Israel wins or loses its battles.

    > Nor participates in its national life is the chareidim.

    The Charedim have a profound disagreement with many elements of the national life of the Jewish people in its State. To the extent that there is any hint of agreeing with those elements, it is true that they refuse to participate. Lack of acceptance of the right to do so is fascistic patriotism and a demand that one place the State above the Torah.

    For years and years it has been impossible to send one’s children to the army without real and tangible fear of losing one’s child to secularism, and there was no way a Charedi parent would allow that, even if it meant draft-dodging. (It wasn’t all that long ago that you wrote, in a comment on this very blog, that you would justify such an attitude. For you to now hurl hateful invective is testimony to nothing but that hatred.) It has become ingrained and it will take years, with a proven track record of boys coming out with their orientation intact, to undo. (And don’t quote me some person with an agenda who claims 30% of Charedi kids go off. First, it is a ridiculous assertion which would mean that, on average, each Charedi family has 2-3 children who are secular. Second, anyone who says that the army has not been an active catalyst for such dropping out doesn’t know what he’s talking about.)

    > They have excluded everyone for decades and now cry foul, when page people whom they excluded,surprise, do not feel much compassion towards them.

    This is largely driven by the media and, sadly, people like you. It is more often than not that Charedi(m) to whom the average secular person is related, or with whom they are acquainted, is not a cynic, but a deeply principled, kind, benevolent person who is told – “ah, if only all Charedim were like you.” The multitude of Chessed organizations geared to Jews of all stripes more than prove the point.

    It is true that, as a whole, Charedim, especially in Israel, have a narrow ideology that does not grant legitimacy to viewpoints that you might find acceptable or correct, often even excluding one another. But they exclude them only from being bearers of Torah-true Judaism. The current constellation is such that ideological tolerance and pluralism is viewed as a positive and ideological rigidness as a negative. So what?

    > There is a price for the sociological decisions your leaders have made, and you are now paying that price.

    Bederech Hateva, the price will likely need to be paid and there will be a period of mesirus nefesh required. Perhaps such sacrifice is what Hashem is demanding, for without it the Jewish people in Israel would be doomed by the imminent existential threats facing it. Hopefully, during that period, the tables will yet turn. In the meantime, enjoy your honeymoon with Yair Lapid. You deserve each other.

  91. SA says:

    A hearty welcome back to the Diasporites. Anyone remember how we got here from a post on the chareidi draft plan? 🙂 Funny, DMF, who I believe started this whole argument, hasn’t been heard from since.

  92. Keren says:

    I’m bewildered. “Just” two years of becoming slaves to the state is not so bad? Of course it’s almost nothing in comparison to 25 years as a cantonist but it’s slavery nonetheless. Otherwise known as socialism – the state owns the people, and is entitled to force them to live as it pleases. Incidentally, this system has proven highly inefficient when it comes to encouraging excellence, so it’s interesting that the present (ostensibly capitalist) government is so determined to promote a socialist approach to national service.
    And “top learners”? Who on earth is qualified to rule on such a matter? I was always taught that we value yegiah above gaonus.
    If you will study recent history with an open mind, it will become obvious that the chareidi community was forced, deliberately, into a position of being at least partially dependent on government funding, a cheap political strategy we see being practised in the US, with disastrous long-term consequences. Chareidim have not been ALLOWED to work unless they first served in the IDF (unless they were already much older) but that didn’t stop people from despising them for “not contributing.” It has always been, as it still is, “Do it our way, or suffer.” We have suffered, and will continue to do so. Meanwhile, Israeli society as a whole will gain nothing from this persecution, except a nice distraction from all the existential threats on the borders.
    Of course there are chareidim flocking to programs to help them find decent employment. But the govt hasn’t been making it easy for them. Do you know how many men drop out because it’s so hard to keep kollel hours and then go to college at night? But they don’t have a choice.
    It is ridiculous to claim that the Gedolim or the chareidi street prefer poverty and full time learning to respectable employment and a kevias itim leTorah. It would have been the latter long ago if only the govt had given way on its desire to force chareidim into their mold. And now the chances of change happening in a positive way are smaller than ever because who is going to let go of the amazing scapegoat the chareidi figure is today? It’s just too convenient to blame us for all of society’s ills. Nobody really wants to solve the problem – just open your eyes and admit it!

  93. Chardal says:

    >The Olam Hatorah merely maintains that it is the part of Klal Yisrael which does not allow the rest of Klal Yisrael to stray too far away from itself by, among other things

    It is a part of Klal Israel whose attitude to the rest is to either ignore them in the best case or express open hatred in the worst (there are many shades in between). Also, there is a small fringe contingent of kiruv workers who seem to care about the rest but even there, their attitude ranges from genuine respect to an outright patronizing attitude.

    >You see, the Charedim don’t have things like graduation parties from relgious High School with Facebook invites to mixed parties …

    Go visit any public internet cafe that is near a chareidi neighborhood at night. Go to ben yehuda street. The dropout rate is enormous in the chareidi world. One askan I talked to places the number at 30%. You are falling prey to the fact that chareidi society either ignores the problem or tries to actively hide it (while attacking those who want to take practical steps to solve it). A simple reading of shu”t literature will show anyone that the Jewish world was never a puritanical or perfect as what the chareidi world expects. People are people and they make mistakes, and throughout history, rabbis dealt with it in different ways. Whether it is the chacham tzvi recognizing extramarital affairs in 17th century Amsterdam or mixed youth groups in bnei Akiva is irrelevant. All the Israeli chareidim do is exclude others in order to maintain some psychologically unhealthy purity which they imagine is how their forefathers lived. It is both false and takes a tremendous toll on many in the community (the 30% who drop out are just the brave ones, so many people live in social jail, not buying into the system but not brave enough to leave)

    The fact that we have people of all different levels of observance and who struggle to maintain a religious identity in the modern world is a source of pride, not shame. I don’t expect you to see it that way, but we will not flinch just because you attack us for not being chareidi enough.

    >A talmid who insists on coming to the Mir with a blue shirt has an agenda-driven statement to make beyond any learning he’s interested in, and the Yeshiva is not obligated to take students with an agenda.

    He had no agenda. He wears blue shirts. He went upon the recommendation of his Rav and was only interested in learning. The fact that the yeshiva cares about the color of ones shirt just shows how shallow and hollow its derech must be.

    >As a small example, Rav Shach cried his eyes out when he heard of the 73 soldiers who were killed in the helicopter crash, and it is complete and utter ignorance and idiocy to think that the Charedim as a whole don’t care whether Israel wins or loses its battles.

    This is his own personal mourning. It in not mourning with the klal. It is not showing the respect of standing for 1 minute in silence like the rest of the country does. It is not celebrating the victory of the establishment of the state on yom haAtzmaut. That is obviously what I was talking about. Mazal Tov, Rav Shach was on the madreiga to cry when Jews died. I doubt that it matters that they were soldiers. The fact is, that the chareidim have decided to exclude themselves from any celebration or mourning of the national victories and losses of the past 100 years. And this has a price.

    >(And don’t quote me some person with an agenda who claims 30% of Charedi kids go off. First, it is a ridiculous assertion which would mean that, on average, each Charedi family has 2-3 children who are secular. Second, anyone who says that the army has not been an active catalyst for such dropping out doesn’t know what he’s talking about.)

    I suppose that you are free of an agenda? There is nothing absurd about the figure. Just looking at the inability of the chareidim to grow as a percentage of the Jewish population at the same rate as their fertility rate will show that many many go off the derech. Everyone who lives here knows several people who have left the chareidi fold in every age category. The person I quote is trying to do something to help the situation by opening up a chareidi yeshiva high school so that students can have some hope of a financially stable future while remaining chareidi. You are foolish if you think that the chareidi system is somehow stronger in keeping people religious. In fact, R’ Dessler, in his famous apologetic letter regarding the chareidi approach to education openly admits that many many will be lost (much more than the RZ world), but that the price of those souls is worth it so that we can have gedolim (of course, no gedolim have been produced either, but that is a different story).

    >For years and years it has been impossible to send one’s children to the army without real and tangible fear of losing one’s child to secularism, and there was no way a Charedi parent would allow that, even if it meant draft-dodging.

    Ah, the famous, secular danger outweighs physical danger (I think they fear both, maybe the physical one much more). At some point, we all have to let our children go and be free in the world, and hope that the education we gave them will allow them to withstand the challenges. It is impossible to shield them from everything and an 18 year old, given the proper education and home, should be able to take it. But this is not even the issue, because everyone can even compromise on a later age (21,22,23). The point is, that the chareidim have developed an ideology that supposedly protects their own while being dependent for their physical (and spiritual – who pays for the schools?) existence on a certain percentage of people who would reject this ideology (you know, in order to be doctors, lawyers, engineers, the people you need for a country to work). It is an absurd situation and shows a lack of vision and purpose. It is a result of weakness and a lack of answers for the challenges of real life and can not exist anywhere else in the world. I have never met american chareidim that are as afraid of their shadows as their Israeli counterparts. Work on educating your children, not hiding them and maybe you will have a chance to be a player in the history of Am Israel.

    >This is largely driven by the media and, sadly, people like you.

    No, it is driven by constant personal experience. I grew up next door to bnei brak as a secular kid. Do you think I found it enjoyable that while driving through bnei brak, an idiot slammed on the hood of our car and yelled tmei’a at my mother (guilty of wearing short sleeves, I suppose). Everyone I know has dozens of anecdotes. And while I love the chareidi part of my family, it did not engender more love when they refused to eat at my grandmothers house [she kept kosher]. Or when they excluded themselves from every family simcha.

    The run ins with the chareidi public of common and often times not positive ones. It is the natural result of thinking that you have all the truth as in:

    >It is true that, as a whole, Charedim, especially in Israel, have a narrow ideology that does not grant legitimacy to viewpoints that you might find acceptable or correct, often even excluding one another. But they exclude them only from being bearers of Torah-true Judaism. The current constellation is such that ideological tolerance and pluralism is viewed as a positive and ideological rigidness as a negative. So what?

    So, that such narrowness does not just “exclude them only from being bearers of Torah-true Judaism.” It cause hate and violence. Just look at Ponevitch to see what such a arrogant and false “love of truth” leads to.

  94. Chardal says:

    >And “top learners”? Who on earth is qualified to rule on such a matter? I was always taught that we value yegiah above gaonus.

    בנוהג שבעולם, אלף נכנסים למקרא, יוצאים מהם מאה למשנה, יוצאים מהם עשרה לתלמוד, אחד מהם יוצא להוראה, כמו שנאמר אדם אחד מאלף מצאתי. (מדרש רבה קהלת ז’)

    Universal learning is brand new. The learners used to be a self selecting elite. It is not hard to choose the serious ones, it simply requires testing. (Like the rabbanut or dayanut exams).

    The rest of your post is just paranoia about the state. You can not blame the state for Chareidi reactionary sociological models. Communities are responsible for their own decisions and the Chareidi community desired to close itself off from the rest of us and this comes at a price. That price includes poverty (due to lack of higher education) and the loss of the respect of everyone else (due to refusing to share the security burden – an ethically questionable move even according to some Chareidi gedolim such as R Gustman Ztl)

    It’s time for the Chareidi community here in Israel to take responsibly for itself.

  95. Eliyahu says:

    chardal and binyamin have been busy pointing out what they think are the flaws in the other side’s approach to life and learning. May be at this point it would be better to write what theyfinnd admirable in other side. For chardal,preesumably there is something to admire in charedism, otherwise why the char in chardal?

  96. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Keren: I’m bewildered. “Just” two years of becoming slaves to the state is not so bad?

    Ori: This is what let me to be yored and leave Israel as soon as I was able to get a visa to the US. But Israel might need such a large military it has to resort to forced labor.

  97. L. Oberstein says:

    Genug shoen (It’s enough already) with statements that the Satmar Ideology is right. Let’s be honest.
    Satmar has many wonderful aspects, especially tzedoko and chesed and Ahavas Yisroel for the yochid. The Satmar Rav was a great leader of his flock and rebuilt them from the ashes. He also said that nothing has changed and continued to oppose Medinas Yisrael even after the Holocaust. Satmar exemplifies Cognative Dissonance. His sub-set of Judaism works for his group but is not applicable to Klal Yisrael as a whole. It is geared for the Carpathian Mountains of Romania and can’t be a model for Israel or the Jewish People as a whole.
    Anyone whose ideology doesn’t blind him to reality sees the benefits of having a strong and viable Jewish and democratic state in Eretz Yisrael. Nowadays it is more evident than ever that Rav Kook was right when he understood that the secular Zionists were building a state that would eventually rediscover its Jewish religious identity.
    Israel has many problems but I much prefer the Matzav of Am Yisroel in 2013 to that of 1939. Satmar wuld have us go back to the British Mandate and that meant restriction of immigration . Had we had a State in 1939, millions of Jews would have lived. How can Satmar still advocate a return to Jewish subservience to the crumbs of the gentiles.

  98. Chardal says:

    >Satmar exemplifies Cognative Dissonance

    Like spending years saying that Zionism is ma’ase satan, avoda zara and is yehareg u’bal ye’avor and then hopping the first Zionist train out of Hungary (and leaving your Chassidim behind)?

    I would modify your statement to read “Cognitive Dissonance with cynicism sprinkled on top.”

    For all those who are saying that Satmar was right, would you truly abandon sovereignty over the land of Israel and give it to the UN (which would give it to the Arabs who would massacre Jews freely)?

    That is what R Yoel Teitelbaum advocated all the time calling all those who disagreed with him phony at best and reshaim at worst.

    The fact that the chareidi world still considers this sect “in” while revising history to write R’ Kook out says everything.

  99. Chardal says:

    >I’m bewildered. “Just” two years of becoming slaves to the state is not so bad?

    Its a milchemet mitzva!! How dare you use a term such a slavery for the zchus to defend Jewish lives! The state is simply the institution through which you fulfill this mitzva.

    When R’ Yitzchak Breuer’s son reached army age, there was a big debate in the family regarding how to proceed. So they wrote a letter to R’ Yosef Breuer in Washington Heights who was considered the posek of the family (and who can not be accused of any Zionist sympathies) and his reply was basically (paraphrasing):

    “You chose to live in a country in which civic duty demands army service. Therefore you must fulfill your obligations by going to the Army.”

    It’s not slavery, its the responsibility of all citizens who enjoy the protection and other benefits of the state.

  100. Chardal says:

    >For chardal,preesumably there is something to admire in charedism, otherwise why the char in chardal?

    I see many wonderful things in the chareidi community. In fact, one of my sons goes to school in a chareidi institution (admitedly on the moderate side of the community).

    Just of the top of my head, I would list their amazing chesed organizations and their true love of Torah.

    However, that does not in anyway diminish the deserving criticisms of major parts of chareidi ideology, leadership, and vision for the Jewish future.

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