Taking Responsibility — Part I

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11 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    Jonathan Rosenblum,

    You wrote about a number of vexing Orthodox societal problems that “None of us can possibly provide the solution to even one of these problems, much less all of them. But each of us, guided by the gedolim, can focus on a particular aspect of some problem affecting Klal Yisrael and do what he or she can to improve the situation.”

    Today, is there an effective way that the much-burdened Gedolim can communicate this overall guidance directly and accurately to Klal Yisrael, and not only to their own close circles? If not, what framework should be created or adapted to facilitate this general guidance?

  2. Chareidi Leumi says:

    I have a good friend whose father attended the famed Eitz Chaim yeshiva in Yerushalaim. As part of the acceptance proccess to the yeshiva, he had to get the approval of Rav Aryeh Levine zt”l, the mashgiach. He reviewed mishnayos for the week preceding the meeting and when the time came, he felt prepared for any questions that R’ Aryeh would send his way. R’ Aryeh, however, did not test him on mishnayos but rather the entire session consisted of one question which R’ Aryeh posed: “Vus Iz Acharayus?” He answered what he answered and got admited, but the question itself rang in his years for the rest of his life.

  3. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    Regarding responsibility for Klal Yisrael as a whole, gedolim of one particular sector making their public decisions in isolation may be insufficient. The Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah of Agudas Yisrael, Moetzet Hachmei Hatorah of Shas and the gedolim of the national-religious world such as Rav Shapira of Merkaz Harav, Rav Greenberg of Kerem B’Yavneh, Rav Mordechai Eliahu and others should be talking to each other. When the hareidi gedolim were snookered into taking no position when 9000 Jews were thrown out of their homes, the government took advantage of the power of the gatekeepers in keeping gedolim sheltered from the facts. Such events cause hillul Hashem.

  4. Izgad says:

    “Though it is the gedolim of our time who most exemplify the quality of taking responsibility for the needs of Klal Yisrael”

    And how are the Haredi gedolim taking responsibility for what is going on? I can think of one example of a Haredi rabbi taking responsibility for something in recent years. It was the Spinka rebbe speaking from jail begging people not to follow his example.

  5. Frum Yid says:

    Sorry if this sounds disrespectful, but why, Rabbi Ronseblum, are the gedolim spending their precious time resolving conflicts in yeshivos rather than dealing with the problems of poverty, shidduchim and dropouts? Shouldn’t these take priority?

  6. joel rich says:

    They simply cannot do everything by themselves. Indeed precisely because they have taken responsibility for everything that takes place in Klal Yisrael are they unable to devote their energies and thoughts exclusively to the major problems facing Klal Yisrael.

    As a management consultant might note, another solution would be for executive management to raise a crop of senior managers to whom to delegate some responsibilities or to determine that their span of control doesn’t require them to resolve every issue.

    A parent who never lets children make their own decisions would need to introspect before bemoaning his childrens’ lack of decision making ability.


  7. Bob Miller says:

    Regarding the comment by joel rich — October 27, 2009 @ 5:32 am :

    Yisro had similar advice for Moshe Rabbeinu regarding the judicial system.

    However, I doubt that the Gedolim themselves have set out to micromanage the Klal.

    We do have very capable rabbonim functioning at various levels already. Is the problem that, although they have the ability and authority to make decisions, they choose to have these vetted first by the Gedolim?

    If many rabbonim feel too insecure to make decisions on their own, that could reflect a breakdown of structure and hierarchy in the world of psak. People with questions can now short-circuit the system by accessing distant Gedolim directly or through the famous “gatekeepers”. People can also second-guess their local or regional rabbonim in light of reports or rumors (!) of how the far-off Gedolim decided cases. Look up references on “disintermediation”.

  8. dr. bill says:

    Joel and Bob, I have talked about disintermediation and the like for a decade in my professional life and indeed the role of global communications and access to information, (and some management that as Bob notes has a biblical source,) cannot be discounted. However, I suspect that in addition, shimush and tradition filled a role that is now less applicable. Many sheailot are a rehash and fly in the face of tradition. Compare the reverance of RSZA ztl for Rav Kook ztl to the reverance he is accorded – a painful example, on occasion censored out of existence.

    Younger rabbis need shimush and they then decide when to consult. When consulting is via a third party I would wonder whether the circumstance, the mosy critical part of most sheailot, is accurately portrayed.

    I once told someone to look at the sheailot sent to RMF ztl towards the latter part of his life versus those he originally dealt with. you would expect that as his prominence grew so would the level of sheailot. it appears otherwise, with some people asking about relatively minor issues. Like dr. soloveitchik concluded it results from the breakdown in the role of tradition and I would argue, the need to ask way too often.

  9. joel rich says:

    Dr. Bill,
    Yup-see my comment about parenting and change it to mentoring(simush)

  10. Nathan says:

    In the Yeshivah World, custom dictates that when a Jew takea a book off the shelf, he does NOT put it back where he took it from.

    If all of us would put each books back to the place on the shelf where we took it from, that would be a small but meaningful way to start taking responsiblity for our actions.

    Rabbi Mordechai Gifter said:

    When a bochur would take a sefer out of the bookshelf, as soon as he finished using it, he would immediately return the sefer to its proper place. Not like today, where they leave the seforim on the shtenders and benches and a seforim collector comes around at night with a cart collecting and putting back all the seforim. In Europe, we had kavod for the seforim. That was Derech Eretz!

    SOURCE: Jewish LIFESTYLE magazine, February 2003, page 15

  11. DG says:

    The answer, of course, is that all-consuming, community-devouring monster, the ultimate vehicle and long-time pride and joy of the yetzer hara, hu malach hamaves: politics. All of the organized solutions raised here depend on clear leadership empowered to actually lead with consistency into the future. That used to at least exist in government because there was a respect for the highest office and a humility that led to sacrifice and service. And it still works in economics because ultimately, winning the gold is all that counts (generally speaking) and following leaders creates more successful business.
    When it comes to a community or actual government, competing interests today (in our me generation) prefer to just neutralize each other. Each believes their best hope is to keep the other out of power rather than to compromise and take a path that is – at its core – one they don’t believe in.
    If the gedolim are dealing with machlokes (=politics) among yeshiva leaders, imagine what they’d deal with in the community at large.
    The answer in this type of situation is a bold bearer of a sword – this is right and this is wrong, no matter whose toes are stepped on (or worse). This would cause an historic rupture in the klal if it happened, but is that better than allowing ongoing degeneration and increasing loss of integrity to Emes? I am afraid even our gedolim struggle with that one.

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