Weekly Digest – News and Essays In and Out of Orthodoxy – Week of Erev Pesach 5776

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32 Responses

  1. mycroft says:

    Rabbi Landesman wrote:

    “The Rav was one of the greatest talmidei chachamim and roshei yeshiva to come out of pre-Holocaust Eastern Europe, yet he earned a PhD and valued secular knowledge. He validated our approach (Torah u’Mada).”

    “hespedim (eulogies) for the Rav were scheduled every weeknight in the main YU Beit Midrash. Each evening we heard a eulogy from a single disciple, usually rebbeim at the yeshiva. Every hesped was scheduled for 9:15 p.m., concluding with Maariv at 10. We never finished on time. The Rav’s students had too much to share. Rav Hershel Schachter and Rav Yehuda Parnes each spoke until 11 p.m.”

    I am not aware that Rebbeiim at the Yeshiva in general validate the approach of Torah Umada- maybe Torah Uparnassah but not TUM or TIDE

     

    • joel rich says:

      I think they simply define TUM to be consistent with their approach.  BTW I’m guessing of one’s primary exposure was through daily shiur, one might not see the same Rav as one who attended public lectures or read his published works.

       

      KT

      • mycroft says:

        “BTW I’m guessing of one’s primary exposure was through daily shiur, one might not see the same Rav as one who attended public lectures or read his published works.”

        Especially as a Brisker he could give chakiras in shiur that were not his halachah lemaaseh position.

        • Steve Brizel says:

          There you go again-who are any of us to say that RYBS’s”true” or “real” personality was in Boston as opposed to NY? Where did RYBS have more of a lasting impact-in NY as the RY of RIETs or as the marah dasra of his community in Boston?

    • Shmuel Landesman says:

      { He validated our approach (Torah u’Mada)}

      I wrote He validated our approach.

      However, I had rebbeim at YU who also personally validated it, though their understanding Of TUM may have been different from the Rav’s.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Since when as following either TuM or TIDE however expressed at whatever time and place ever considered an essential part of the job description of any RY in RIETS?

      • dr. bill says:

        Steve Brizel, you are correct and the facts on the ground prove that.  It may surprise you but I have no problem with that; however, i have no tolerance for those who profess to follow the Rav ztl’s derech and do not.  In my time a number of RY openly opposed the Rav, but had the intellectual honesty to do so openly.  Today, it appears that revisionism is hardly uncommon.

      • mycroft says:

        It is not part of the job description-but if one has people teaching Torah who do not believe in TUM or TIDE why should the students accept those beliefs. If one doesn’t want students to have such beliefs what mission does RIETS  have that is different from BMG, Chaim Berlin etc. If no different mission why should MO support more than they do BMG?

        • joel rich says:

          great question. aiui yu views itself as a big tent,  I guess the question is how big?  and when there’s no other wheel in town, where do the committed go?
          KT

        • larry says:

          That is a great question.  I did not attend YU or REITS. I do not presume to know what TUM or TIDE really are. I do not understand why REITS does not have one single hashkafa easily and narrowly defined that when  followed, represents a reasonable way to conduct one’s life.

          It would seem from a casual glance at the photos of the eight Mashgichim at YU that the yeshiva is trying to accomodate a variety of viewpoints as opposed to carrying the banner of the viewpoint that made the school unique.  What is the attraction in that?  Would a student go to MIT for the English Literature classes?  Would a tourist go to France to sample Chinese food?  Why would a student go to a Torah uMaddah institution to learn neo-chassidus?  Is this the Rav’s vision?  Was the big tent part of a grand plan or an unintended outcome?

          • mycroft says:

            I don’t know Rabbi Dov Linzer-but I was listening to a YU Torah lecture by a RIETS Rabbi who stated while disagreeing with Rabbi Linzer that he was the best student in the Kollel Elyon while they were both there. Does anyone believe that Rabbi Linzer would be   welcome as part of a big tent? What are the boundaries of what is included in a big tent? Who determines admission to the big tent?

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Mycroft-at one time R D Linzer was viewed as a potential star. I would submit that R D Linzer, by his own statements on a wide variety of issues, all of which can be accessed on YCT’s website, has gone well beyond the outer reach of the big tent that is welcome within YU today. I would offer the following definition-being a lamdan and Talmid Chacham in the truest sense of those words who is a a loyal talmid of a Baal Mesorah.

          • Yaakov Menken says:

            mycroft… at one point YU decided they wanted to honor their oldest living alumnus. They canned the idea upon realizing that at the time, the oldest alumnus was Mordecai Kaplan. Do you think he should have been “welcome as part of a big tent”?

          • Steve Brizel says:

            One simple answer is that different hearts and minds react to different approaches in Yiddishkeit

        • Steve Brizel says:

          FWIW, R D Belkin ZL appointed many RY whose views were decidedly not in hashkafic lockstep with TUM . It is well known that R D Belkin ZL hired many of these RY who were refugees from the Nazis because there was no other Makom Torah that could pay them a salary. R D Belkin ZL imposed no hashkafic litmus test on any of these RY .

          AFAIK, RYBS imposed no such tests simply because as RYBS stated in a 1955 address quoted verbatim in R Rakkafet’s book, RYBS described himself as not subscribing to “synthesis”, because such a term implied a watering down and/or dilution of Torah and secular knowledge which was the YU mantra of its time prior to TuM. I am unaware of RYBS ever saying that he supported TuM as developed  by R D N Lamm, but in R Rakkafet’s book, you can find that RYBS ( like R Dessler also) viewed TIDE as producing observant Baalei Batim, but not Talmidei Chachamim. I think that RYBS viewed the combination of YU and RIETS in its most pristine form as producing great Talmidei Chachamim who were college graduates and a Kiddush HaShem in their personal and professional lives.That may be very well why RYBS spoke out against the detachment of RIETS from YU into its present role as an “affiliate” back in the early 1970s.

          As a corollary today, I think that most if not all RY in RIETS view a not insubstantial part of their responsibilities as maximizing the talmid’s stay in their shiur as enabling a talmid who came back all gung ho from a year or more in Israel to maintain that committment to Shemiras Hamitzvos and Limud HaTorah in the face of both a college curriculum and their paths as Baalei Batim  and future husbands and fathers. I think that you expect an ideological or hashkafic purity from RIETS that has never been extant from the beginning and that can be found Lhavdil only on secular college campuses where the reigning political dogmas have chased conservatives away to think tanks like Hoover Institute or AEI.

          Since RIETS is not run like many other yeshivos like a family business, the appointment of RY is determined AFAIK on the overall potential of a would be RY as a rebbe, a MarbitzTorah and Mlamed Torah Lan Yisrael as well as his mastery of TSBP, as evaluated by the RY and Roshei Kollelim of RIETS, with the approval of the Board of RIETS. I think that the overwhelming majority of RY today in RIETS today are RIETS products, inclusive of its Kollelim.
          I would note that R D Lamm imposed no hashkafic litmus test for would be RY, but it is well known that R Lamm engaged in protracted hashkafic battles both with RY who did not act as cheerleaders for TuM and certain Charedi RY.

          I have always maintained that synthesis , TUM, etc have always been viewed as either hashkafic notions that are, subject to the test of whether they supplement or supplant a person’s bedrock committment to Torah, Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim, or as nice advertising slogans. As a corollary, despite RYBS’s extensive library in secular works of a vast nature, I have seen or heard nothing in RYBS’s name that would either require a Birchas HaTorah on such works or any halachic reaction whatsoever when such works are dropped on the floor or burned, under any circumstances.

          RAL, in the YU Judaica book, clearly applauded what he  viewed as the improvements in RIETS from his days in RIETS and prior to his being appointed Rosh Kollel. If you go into the Beis Medrash at any time, you will see RY there, as well as Shoel Umeshivs and Sgan Mashgichim-all of whom are there for consultation and discussion with their talmidim.

          • mycroft says:

            “mycroft… at one point YU decided they wanted to honor their oldest living alumnus. They canned the idea upon realizing that at the time, the oldest alumnus was Mordecai Kaplan. Do you think he should have been “welcome as part of a big tent”?”

            Of course not.Mordechai Kaplan openly rejected universally held principles fundamental to traditional Yahadus

        • Steve Brizel says:

          If you were to ask the average YU student or YU/SCW grads since 1993, they would be hard pressed to tell you that any of the seminal hashkafic writings of RYBS ( Lonely Man of Faith, Confrontation, etc) occupy a special place in their mind other than being assigned reading over the summer or in a course. Like it or not, the philosophical challenges that prompted those magnificent articles may or may not be so pressing. The average YU student today has spiritual needs of a vastly different nature-that he or she will be given the tools to keep his or her ardor for Limud HaTorah and Shemiras HaMitzvos glowing despite a dual curriculum and the pressures of a family and career, and to realize the importance of Chesed in a personal and monetary manner-which the RY demonstrate magnificently.

          • mycroft says:

            “or YU/SCW grads since 1993, they would be hard pressed to tell you that any of the seminal hashkafic writings of RYBS ( Lonely Man of Faith, Confrontation, etc) occupy a special place in their mind other than being assigned reading over the summer or in a course”

            It has been since 1984 and the tshuva on womens issues by leading RIETS RY which BTW the Rav did not sign is probably the time which separates RYBS influence on RIETS to that of the current leading RY.

        • Steve Brizel says:

          Name one RIETS RY who opposes students getting a college education or a professional degree or who is not an enthusiastic supporter of the State of Israel, as opposed to “Acheinu Bnei Yisrael BEretz Yisrael.”

          • mycroft says:

            “Name one RIETS RY who opposes students getting a college education or a professional degree”

            The vast majority of RIETS RY are in favor of college or professional education for parnassah-not as an intrinsic value.

            “or who is not an enthusiastic supporter of the State of Israel”

            correlates but not required for MO SRH for example not a Zionist and being a supporter of MO hashkafa. Support for Israel can also be Chareidi see Chardal

             

        • Steve Brizel says:

          The Mitzvah of Talmud Torah, and especially TSBP generally begins with study of Gemara and Rishonim  -why do you assume that the currriculum in RIETS should differ than that in BMG? Where RIETS differs is that due to the cycle of Masectos learned in RIETS, which has its origins in Volozhin, there are years where Brachos and Masectos in Seder Moed are learned by RIETS as opposed to many other yeshivos which focus solely on the “yeshivishe masectos” in Seder Nashim and Seder Nezikin

          • dr. bill says:

            It is interesting that while the yeshivish world concentrated on 8 mesichtot from nashim/nezikin and brisk concentrated (as well) on kodshim and taharot, Berachot  and Moed and Chulin and niddah, harder to deal with in a chiddush oriented setting given numerous subtending halachot and religious practice, were often not covered.  One of the Rav ztl’s remarkable strengths was his ability to account for practice while bringing brisker methodology to the sugyah.  I often wonder if his strong disagreements with prevalent practice in a small number of areas, (I remember 2 vividly in shiur, but there are others I have heard) drew from his methodology.

  2. joel rich says:

    the beit hillel piece was eye opening, for example:

    “just as with many other examples where rabbis have adapted the Law to adjust to developing realities, surely Beit Hillel can figure out a way to permit same-gender partnerships and sexual relations.
    While it is beyond the scope of these musings to explain why this is not and cannot be imminent”  (Me-imminent no, near term or ever -yes?]
    compare with:
    Mesorah: The Rav speaks
    The Rav told the story of a young man and woman who sought his assistance. She was a convert who later fell in love with this young man, whose increased interest in Judaism she sparked. The two became engaged and he visited his grandfather’s grave, where he discovered that he is a kohen. What could the Rav do? A kohen may not marry a convert and therefore, tragically, this couple could not wed. However, we must unhesitatingly surrender to the will of the Almighty. With sadness in his heart, the Rav shared in the suffering of this woman who had to lose the beloved man she helped bring back into the fold. She valiantly walked away from him, surrendering to the Almighty’s will.

    not complete parallel but worth thinking about

    KT

  3. dr. bill says:

    Joel Rich, I tend to agree, with two comments.  I find it hard to believe that a talmid did not read Ish haHalakha and that should have given some inkling; the Halakhic Mind, published in the mid 80’s I believe, should have removed any doubt, even if it was not fully understood..  I still remember RAL ztl’s shloshim hesped where he said the in the 20th century the Rav may have add an equal or two in Talmud, mentioning Rav Boruch Ber ztl and an equal or two in philosophy mentioning the late Emmanuel Levinas, but in that combination he was truly unique.  As well, though rare indeed, in my few years in shiur an occasional remark, about eigenvalues, the Aristotelian view on providence, a 14th century English cleric, etc. ought not to have gone unnoticed.Joel Rich, I tend to agree, with two comments.  I find it hard to believe that a talmid did not read Ish haHalakha that must have given some inkling; the Halakhic Mind, published in the mid 80’s I believe, should have removed any doubt, even if it was not fully understood..  I still remember RAL ztl’s shloshim hesped where he said the in the 20th century the Rav may have add an equal or two in Talmud, mentioning Rav Boruch Ber ztl and an equal or two in philosophy mentioning the late Emmanuel Levinas, but in that combination he was truly unique.  As well, though rare indeed, in my few years in shiur an occasional remark, about eigenvalues, the Aristotelian view on providence, a 14th century English cleric, etc. ought not to have gone unnoticed. But alas, perhaps I, who did not always understand the ikkar, picked up on the toful.

    I also tend to agree that the different approaches to modernity that (academic Talmud,) TiDE and TuM represent have been often overlooked/redefined.

  4. Steve Brizel says:

    One of my closest friends was an SOY president. ( SOY was and is the organization that represented all talmidim of RIETS). When my friend was elected, he met with RYBS. RYBS told my friend that his dream was that the average talmid in RIETS would be able to understand both any passage in the Chiddushei R Chaim HaLevi al HaRambam and any  part of any course in his college curriculum equally.

    • mycroft says:

      “RYBS told my friend that his dream was that the average talmid in RIETS would be able to understand both any passage in the Chiddushei R Chaim HaLevi al HaRambam and any  part of any course in his college curriculum equally.”

      How widespread is that dream in todays RIETS.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Ask any RY in RIETS today. You are mistakenly assuming that the RY all advocate learning 24/7 for an extended period of time.

  5. lacosta says:

    chardal i would think are really orthoprActic DL’s,  rather than really zionistic haredim…of course as more haredim serve in the army , the only dividing line may be tefilla practices on the two tzioni chagim…

     

     

  6. Steve Brizel says:

    RSRH viewed Zionism and Zionists as being from another planet because RSRH was comfortable in the Germany of the 1800s, which was well before the events that led to the rise of modern anti Semitism-the Dreyfus trial, etc.  It bears repeating that both RYBS and R Dessler thought that TIDe produced observant Baalei Batim, it did not produce Talmidei Chachamim

    • dr. bill says:

      TIDe  may not have but RSRH ztl’s opponent Rav Hildesheimer ztl and his yeshiva (the first orthodox yeshiva incorporating WdJ)  certainly did produce Talmedai chachamim of note.  What is often not recognized is radically different social milieu which provided access for many talented western European Jews to advancement in society, something that did not arrive further east until much later and had major impact on  pre-WWII European Jewish religosity.  Note what happened even to Slabodka.

  7. Steve Brizel says:

    Mycroft wrote:

    “It has been since 1984 and the tshuva on womens issues by leading RIETS RY which BTW the Rav did not sign is probably the time which separates RYBS influence on RIETS to that of the current leading RY:

    So what? RYBS left us with a rich legacy as is the case of any Adam Gadol? My point was that there is a generation Asher Lo Yada Es Yosef-both personally and as a matter of communal and individual priorities. The fact that RYBS did not sign the teshuvah issued by the RIETS RY is irrelevant-there are shiurim available on line wherein RYBS denounced the feminist critique of Halacha as sheer libel

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