Meet the New Chief Rabbi

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21 Responses

  1. L. Oberstein says:

    The pictures say it all. One can see on various sites the joy of Rabbi Lau dancing with his son the newly elected Chief Rabbi. For once I agree with Rabbi Pruzansky on this one point, that Rabbi David Lau is not your typical chareidi rabbi and that he is a good choice, for sentimental reasons and also because Rabbi Stav’s election would have aroused such animosity and conflict that it would have a hard time establishing his authority. Once again, the Religious Zionists have shot themselves in the foot. Instead of uniting behind one candidate, they fought each other and sabotaged their own victory.The Chardal people seem to identify more with the chareidim than with their own fellow religous zionists. I personally like young Rabbi Lau because he has qualities that will make him popular, he is a good mixer, a friendly person, who is indeed a very good communal rabbi. Will he end the heter mechira, will he make conversion impossible for hundreds of thousands of Jews of Zera Yisrael, will he alienate secular Israelis from chupah v’kiddushin so that they opt for civil marriages abroad? Will he do anything to make the Rabbanut Kashrut honest and reliable? Or, will he be a “good,old boy” who will let the rabbinate be a source of parnassah for cronies and children of the “right” people. Tzohar is honest and it is a shame that the rabbinate showed such hatred for their goals and candidate. I am happy for senior Rabbi Lau,who is a hero and a good man, but I fear for the future of Judaism if Tzhoar is eviscerated.

  2. Dovid Shlomo says:

    The Religious Zionists did unite behind one candidate, just as they did ten years ago: Rav Yaakov Ariel.

    Rav Stav himself said that he would have withdrawn had Rav Ariel been permitted to run.

    Just as the haredim and others engineered the defeat of Rav Ariel’s candidacy ten years ago, so did they this year, under the pretense of not passing the Ariel Bill. (The secularists joined them, as they, like the haredim, do not want a Chief Rabbi who is a strong leader and independent voice, as opposed to a smiling tool of the establishment.)

    So, we will get a Chief Rabbi who’s a nice guy, quite pleasant, and a good pal of the machers, just like American Congregational Rabbis and just like his father, when what Klal Yisrael could have had was a visionary posek and serious thinker who would would have inspired the Clal, been a voice for Torah-driven justice, and outspokenly fought for what was right.

    Mazal Tov for the triumph of the bland and the status quo over what what Clal Yisroel actually needed, which is moral leadership and real change.

    Rav Stav as well would have been a better choice.

  3. Shaya Karlinsky says:

    I am sure there are many charedi politicians that WISH they had as much power as is being imputed to them by Dovid Shlomo. And unfortunately, the pattern of looking outside to place blame is not a monopoly of the charedi world.
    Rav Stav’s candidacy was the reason the RZ community lost the Chief Rabbinate. The twenty five votes for Rav Shapira are testimony to that. The votes of some RZ Rabbinical representatives for Rav Lau is testimony to that. Had Rav Stav withdrawn in favor of Rav Shapira, the numbers show that Rav Shapira would have won with an absolute majority.
    But Rav Stav was put up as a candidate because (part of the) RZ political world, along with Yesh Atid, is set on creating confrontation with the charedi world (look at the effects of their efforts on charedi enlistment) rather than trying to truly bridge gaps. He would have been a better choice to accomplish THAT agenda. But the credibility of the Chief Rabbinate in world-wide Rabbinical circles would have been seriously comporomised. Rav Lau is a wonderul choice, combining broad Torah knowledge, connections with all segments of the population — and the need for some charedi journals to “edit out” part of his CV. (He served in the army, and continues to do reserve duty voluntariy, even though as the Chief Rabbi on a city, he is exempt. I don’t think that made it into all the charedi papers. Even as they touted a “charedi victory.)
    I can’t help once again feeling the conspiracy I have long claimed between anti-religious and isolationist charedi media forces. Both want to exaggerate the control charedim have, downplay the involvement of charedim in the broad society, and make it sound like the only thing charedim care about is keeping Yeshivot full.
    Rav Lau, as well as Rav Yosef, should be receiving a warm welcome from those who are truly interested in bridging gaps.

  4. Chardal says:

    I am sorry, R’ Karlinsky, but I beg to differ. It is true that on of the reason R’ Stav lost was due to divisions in the RZ world (although, with the power that shas holds in the electing body, I am not sure either he or R’ Shapiro ever had a chance – baring legislation that would broaden the electing body). However, those voices in the RZ world who spearheaded the campaign against R’ Stav are much closer, ideologically to the chareidi world than they are to the traditional RZ world. A well known RZ website just published various statements made by rabbis of the most right wing of RZ yeshivas, which included:

    “הרבנות אינה צריכה להתחשב בהלך הרוח של הציבור”,
    “הרבנות אינה צריכה להעמיד בשיקוליה את דעת הציבור, לראות איך הדברים יראו מחוץ לבית המדרש, לא צריך לשאול איך זה מתקבל”.
    “אל לה לרבנות לרדת להמון העם תפקידה להביא את העולם העליון לרחובותינו ולרומם את העם מכח חכמת הקודש”

    They are of course, entitled to their opinion, but this was not the approach of ANY of the RZ chief rabbis of the past. Not R’ Kook, R’ Herzog, R’ Unterman, R’ Goren. R’ Yaadov Filber just published an online article calling these rabbis on this topic. It is their kind of attitude that makes it impossible to build any bridges. They seem to think that their neo-chareidi ideology (which is basically chareidi daas-Torah with a smaller and more nationalistic pantheon), will make them acceptable to the chareidi world.

    However, the majority of the RZ laity seems to feel, at this point, that it is impossible to build bridges to the chareidi world. You simply can not build any bridges with people who think you are Amalek incarnate at worst and absolute krumheit at best. So the great hope is to build bridges with that silent majority of Israelis who are traditional but at the same time are disgusted by the rabbinate. The only rabbi who would have been able to build such a bridge was R’ Stav, and he lost.

    You write that if R’ Stav would have won, then “the credibility of the Chief Rabbinate in world-wide Rabbinical circles would have been seriously compromised.”

    This may well be true, but at this point the credibility of all parts of the rabbinate IS compromised in the eyes of the vast majority of Klal Yisrael. And outside of a re-haul in the rabbinic approach to personal-status law, bureaucracy, and pastoral responsibilities, this trend will continue. Most people WANT a rabbinate, but at this point, most would be willing to have a full schism with the chareidi world, and if these attitudes continue, this same attitude will carry over to the chief rabbinate with disastrous results for all of klal Yisrael. R’ Lau is a great person, but he is way too traditional to make the changes needed. Those changes, would of course, alienate him from the chareidi world, but I must ask, since when has the chareidi world cared one bit about the chief rabbinate (other than care to delegitimatize it).

    [YA – I’m going to let you and R Karlinsky slug it out, as you are both closer to the scene of the crime. I must disagree about one point. The Rabbanut does serve a crucial function for all of world Jewry, even though few people realize it. They exercise as kind of control over standards of geirus, marriage and gittin around the world. No one wants his/her marriage, geirus etc. to be questioned if he or his children arrive in Israel one day. Which batei din are acceptable to the Rabbanut has great impact on standards elsewhere. The very poor standards of Orthodox geirus were known for years; it took some clamping down by the Rabbanut to get the US to get its act together, which it did through the RCA’s GPS regional beis din system. (Of course, those with lesser standards like the IRF in the YCT orbit are not happy with this system, and hence are setting up their own batei din – whose output will not be accepted elsewhere!). You can argue that the Rabbanut set its bar too high (although I don’t think so), but you cannot avoid giving them credit for outing some of the worst charlatans and kalim that ply their wares on an unsuspecting public. Additionally, for all the problems with the Rabbanut batei din, they have massed together over the decades some very important talmidei chachamim. Their piskei halacha continue to be among the most cutting edge today in areas of mamamus and ishus. Many people that I know had no concerns about R Stav in regard to his complete fidelity to halacha – but had misgivings about whether his more personable ways were accompaned by enought strength to hold together the parts of the Rabbanut that are actually pretty valuable.]

  5. Dovid Shlomo says:

    What I was lamenting, Rav Karlinsky, is not that the candidate who won is not RZ, but that it will be — more or less — business as usual: The Chief Rabbi’s office will not be a source of inspiration and moral conviction, but of more of the same, albeit with a better Ashkenazi CR than we had before.

    The CR will still be an irrelevancy and not a thought leader.

    Rav Pruzansky was applying the American shul Rabbi model to what Israel needed as CR.
    I was applying the Rav Kook model: Someone to stand up for what is moral and right and inspire people to think and change.

    Rav Pruzansky was using the American shul Rabbi model: A backslapper with an agreeable personality whose most important job trait is his ability to get along well with the machers and be called upon for insipid, flattering homilies at festive occasions.

  6. Chardal says:

    >Many people that I know had no concerns about R Stav in regard to his complete fidelity to halacha – but had misgivings about whether his more personable ways were accompaned by enought strength to hold together the parts of the Rabbanut that are actually pretty valuable.

    He would have been more lenient on issue of geirus both in and out of Israel. But lenient in the sense of the sephardic tradition here in Israel (let us not forget that it was R’ Ovadia who effectively reversed R’ Sherman’s reversal of the state conversions and R’ Stav was insistent from the beginning that his halachic conversion guidelines will be those of R’ Ovadia which are considerably more lenient than the mainstream Ashkenazi positions. But that was not the reason he lost. The main reason was because various right wing elements in the RZ world basically campaigned against him. They disliked him because of his openness to general culture (R’ Stav wrote a book where he argued that basic recreation, including watching movies, are appropriate when done in a responsible and reasonable fashion). It was also personal in that R’ Stav was kicked out of the shiur of one of the leading RZ/RW roshei yeshiva at merkaz when he was interviewed for the radio in the 80s and rebuked the behavior of several of said rosh yeshiva’s students (they, upon their rav’s instructions, heckled a performance of Handel’s Messiah in Jerusalem). This rosh yeshiva’s campaign was a factor that R’ Stav lost – it definitely made it impossible for R’ Stav to make a deal with shas.

    The subtext, IMO, was bigger than just general culture and the rabbinate. R’ Stav has gone on record that he wants to implement the Lubavitch model towards the Jews of the country. That is, not to be machmir with the general population but rather to make tradition as accessible and lenient as halachically possible in order to remove barriers-to-entry for any particular mitzva. This is the approach that the quotes I supply above are railing against. Of course, it is only this approach that has a chance to reverse public opinion of the rabbinate on the one hand while not causing the state to legislate away the rabbinate through opening the gates for the heterodox movements.

    R’ Lau and R’ Yoseph, for all their great qualities, do not even understand the problem – they are too disconnected from the Israeli “street” – much less can they lead the kind of changes that would solve it.

  7. L. Oberstein says:

    I would not normally comment on what Chardal says ,as I don’t disagree with his views, but, his arguments prove why Rav Stav would not have succeeded as Chief Rabbi. There was a visceral animosity towards him by a large part of the rabbinate, the very rabbinate he would have had to change. They would have sabotaged everything he tried to do that was novel, radical, liberal, you pick the word. If I were a rabbi and a child told me that his parents forced him to go to a movie and he asked what to do, I might tell him to close his eyes at certain points (although that is very counter intuitive_ but I would never have printed such a psak in a sefer to be distributed to the whole world. He set himself up for ridicule and his views were disparaged,even if he is a bigger talmid chacham that his opponents. I have no commonality with the Messianic Zionism of Mercaz harav but if I were a tal mid and had been kicked out of shiur, I would understand why the rabbis there would oppose me. Had Rabbi Shapiro withdrawn, Rav Stav would have been elected. Why didn’t he withdraw, was it just to keep him from winning? ( I honestly have no idea).
    Rabbi David Lau, on the other hand, knows how to play the rabbi game perfectly. His father is the expert on being the “People’s rabbi”. As far as disconnected from the street, that is ludicrous. Modiin is not Meah Shaearim and he is beloved in Modiin. I think the real problem is that the Mizrachi has been self destructing time after time and did it once again. Blame no one but the leades of the Religious Zionists for their inability to unite behind a less divisive candidate. I know that Rav Stav is a nice person and this is just a comment on his suitability for a very political job that requires a lot of what the Lau family has in spades.

  8. Chardal says:

    L. Oberstein,

    I am not sure we disagree on the facts. I agree that he would not have gotten along well with the right wing of RZ or with the chareidim. I was just pointing out that I don’t think that it is possible to build a bridge in that direction and that it is far more important for the chief rabbinate be respected by the general public than by the rabbis of the right.

    I am not sure I understand your point regarding movies. R’ Stav is presenting a position that is fairly mainstream in most of the RZ world. Do you think that it is relevant to the general public that the chief rabbis thinks it is assur meDeorayta and yehareg uBal yeAvor to watch any form of cinema? Would taking such a position make him a relevant moral authority to the general public? No. It would just make him a rabbis who is perpetuating chareidi isolationism which is simply not relevant to most of the society.

    He did not set himself up against the rabbis of Mercaz. He ridiculed behaviour that I am sure you would agree was a chillul Hashem and that was encouraged by one particular rabbi – who has long since split from mercaz in a very public and nasty fashion. R’ Stav represented the more mainstream approach at merkaz and the one said rabbi would later separate from. R’ Stav is not some lone radical – he is extremely well respected by most rabbis in the RZ world. He had the strong support of mainstream rabbis such as R’ Lichtenstein, R, Rabinowitz, and R’ Avraham Zuckerman. The problem the RZ world has is that it now has a neo-chareidi wing that is undermining its political interests. I doubt that R’ Shapiro garnered many RZ votes and I suspect that even if he would have withdrawn, R’ Stav would have lost. Shas’ power in the voting list is way too powerful (Over the years, Shas appointed party members as chief rabbis of various large cities in Israel – these are not elected positions and names like Deri, Attias, Yishai, and Yosef abound in the list of voting rabbis. Let us just say that not all such appointments are appropriate for their cities, nuf said). What happened is that this neo-chareidi wing lobbied shas day and night against R’ Stav and made it impossible to strike a deal. There were also some internal shas politics that made it hard to “make a deal” with them.

    Regarding R’ Lau, I hope he does the best that he can but he is not starting well. Just today, he made very unfortunate and racist comment about basketball players in a speech whose goal was to discourage yeshiva students from c”v watching any basketball games. It maybe surprising for the american readers of this list since I have rarely met a chareidi american that is not a fan of some sports team (usually a NY baseball team 🙂 ), but Israeli chareidi often have a hard to understand hatred of sports of any kind. This was done just before he took a week long vacation out of the country – something reminiscent of the behavior of the last ashkenazi chief rabbi (although at least he is doing it on his own dime). Now I am sure he is entitled to vacations, but I am not sure it is the best first move after becoming chief rabbi.

    I am pretty pessimistic about the future of the rabbinate at this point. I don’t think that it needs a yes man who will play nice with the right. I think it needs a leader who will be relevant for klal Yisrael – and I think R’ Stav deserved a shot. In fact, I think that he was the only one who had a chance (and only a chance) at saving this institution which over the next ten years may be in danger of being legislated out of any effective power – to the detriment of klal Yisrael.

    In the end, though, you are right about one thing, the RZ have no one to blame but ourselves. Had we supported the Stern law, then R’ Stav would have been chief rabbi today and we may have been talking about the practical aspects of rehabilitating the rabbinate instead of its dim prospects for the future.

  9. Ben Waxman says:

    R’ Lau and R’ Yoseph, for all their great qualities, do not even understand the problem – they are too disconnected from the Israeli “street” – much less can they lead the kind of changes that would solve i

    I don’t know how Rav Yosef spends his days; I imagine mainly learning and writing. However, Rav Lau is without a doubt as connected as one can be. Whether or not he can keep his promises about making the rabbinate a user friendly experience is another story. And even if he can, is that what is needed? Further, how these two will work in conjunction with MK Ben Dahan, who is planning a complete remake of the moetzot datiot, is another question.

  10. Ben Waxman says:

    R’ Lau and R’ Yoseph, for all their great qualities, do not even understand the problem – they are too disconnected from the Israeli “street” – much less can they lead the kind of changes that would solve

    I don’t know how Rav Yosef spends his days; I imagine mainly learning and writing. However, Rav Lau is without a doubt as connected as one can be. Whether or not he can keep his promises about making the rabbinate a user friendly experience is another story. And even if he can, is that what is needed? Further, how these two will work in conjunction with MK Ben Dahan, who is planning a complete remake of the moetzot datiot, is another question.

  11. Shaya Karlinsky says:

    If there is anything that frustrates me as much as charedi arrogance, it is anti-charedi arrongance. To say, as Chardal does, that “R’ Lau and R’ Yoseph, for all their great qualities, do not even understand the problem – they are too disconnected from the Israeli ‘street’…” is an example of that arrogance. It sound like the fact Rav Lau is well connected to and well respected by the charedi world makes it impossible to imagine that he understands the problem. You may worry he won’t be able to solve it. You may worry his solutions aren’t the ones you — or Rav Stav — would implement. But please don’t insult Rav Lau’s intelligence and proven track record in Modi’in.
    Your quotes from RZ Rabbis in response to my earlier comment are unattributed, as well as not given in context. But even if they are to be taken literally, they are the opinion of some Rabbis. Why is R. Lau being held responsible for that? Why can’t we judge him on his personal record of 13 years, and give him a chance to prove himself. As Ben Waxman points out, and as I alluded to in my earlier comment, the most difficult problem he may have to deal with is the forces at work that don’t want cooperation and consensus on matters that are fundamental to the religious integrity of the State of Israel. He will certainly resist the radicalization some are looking for, but which even Rabbis whose Zionist credentials are impeccable reject on ideological grounds. Instead of according them the respect they deserve for their Torah scholarship and devotion to the welfare of Klal Yisrael, you seem to deligitimize them simply because some of their views align with those of some Charedi Rabbis.

    This is very sad state of affairs, not boding well for the needed cooperation between as broad a spectrum of Torah Jews as possible.

  12. DF says:

    “Mazal Tov for the triumph of the bland and the status quo over what what Clal Yisroel actually needed, which is moral leadership and real change.”

    I know nothing of the various personalities who were in the race. But as a general observation, occasional excpetions nonwithstanding, the bland and the status quo candidate is usually far better than the crusader looking for real change. This general rule holds true in all orgnizatioal structures. Even the “bland” types usually manage to make incremental changes that usually are helpful, and if not, at least are not harmful. By contrast, “Real change” candidates often brings about “real unintended consequences” that create bigger problems than the ones they allegedly solved.

  13. Chardal says:

    I have much to respond, but feel hesitant to do so while my last comment is being held in moderation. Why would someone spend the time writing responses if there is a strong chance that their effort will be in vain?

    [YA – I imagine for the same reason that scores of people write Letters to the Editor of scores of publications, knowing full well that their contributions may or may not be published, usually with far less chance than that of surviving moderation at Cross-Currents! We simply don’t publish all comments, even all good ones. As it is, it can take moderators days to get to the queue, particularly in the case of longer comments.]

  14. Chardal says:

    >it is anti-charedi arrongance. To say, as Chardal does, that “R’ Lau and R’ Yoseph, for all their great qualities, do not even understand the problem – they are too disconnected from the Israeli ‘street’…” is an example of that arrogance.

    It is not “anti-chareidi arrogance”. It is not that they don’t understand the problem because they are chareidi. I am saying it based on the radio and print interviews that I was able to find during the camgaign. R’ Lau seems to think that there is no systemic problem with the rabbinate. And his most daring proposal for improving its reputation was to allow people to register for marriage certificates through a web site. There are two ways to interpret his acceptance of the rabbinial status quo, either he does not realize the extend to which the rabbanut is reviled by most Jews here in Israel, or he does but thinks that there is nothing to do except for the most minor adjustments and that derech eretz and a nice smile will make the rabbanut more relevant. From the interviews I heard, I suspect the former, but I could be wrong and maybe it is the latter. In any case, I don’t see much hope for reversing the trend during his tenure – but I hope I am proven wrong!

    As for modiin, I know he is well loved by the all segments of the religious community there, but he is not particular relevant to the rest of the city’s population (it is one of the most secular cities in Israel). Let’s face it, most of them do not have much interaction with the rabbinate at all and if they are asked about it, then they usually wonder why their city needs three chief rabbis each earning a salary that is about 4 times the average Israeli salary.

    >Your quotes from RZ Rabbis in response to my earlier comment are unattributed, as well as not given in context. But even if they are to be taken literally, they are the opinion of some Rabbis.

    I would provide links but CC does not allow links in the comments. They are easily available with some hebrew google searches. They are not just the opinion of some rabbis – but of the specific rabbis who spearheaded the RZ campaign against R’ Stav, the same ones who came to R’ Ovadia to demonize him, and the ones who would not listen to any compromise when mainstream RZ rabbis tried to find a compromise for a united front. Their stubbornness came out of the ideological position that the above quotes reflect and therefore I think that it is very relevant to a discussion of how the internal rifts in RZ were responsible for this loss.

    >Why is R. Lau being held responsible for that? Why can’t we judge him on his personal record of 13 years, and give him a chance to prove himself.

    I am not holding R. Lau responsible for their statements. I am holding these rabbis (partially) responsible for the loss of R’ Stav (or for, alternatively, the inability to find a compromise RZ candidate). As for his record, I don’t see anything that encourages me that he can tackle the problems the rabbanut faces, but I certainly HOPE that I am proven wrong and will gladly change my opinion when and if I am proven wrong.

    >As Ben Waxman points out, and as I alluded to in my earlier comment, the most difficult problem he may have to deal with is the forces at work that don’t want cooperation and consensus on matters that are fundamental to the religious integrity of the State of Israel.

    I don’t agree. This is not the fight that matters. Since if what you call radicalization (and I call the ikkar haDin and mission statement of the rabbanut as articulated by R’ Kook and unadulterated by the relatively recent hareidi takeover of the rabbanut) does not occur, then I have a real worry that legislation will be used to bypass the rabbanut regarding all personal status issues. It almost happened in the early 70s and R’ Goren effectively held it off by becoming chief rabbi. It could happen again. There are even some voices in the RZ that are for it (Look at R’ Shagar’s z”l posthumously published book זאת בריתי where he supports civil marriage and a new social contract between the religious and secular communities in Israel). I worry that R’ Lau will strengthen these voices (who I respect greatly, but with whom I disagree) and the result will be an even greater split in klal Yisrael.

    >He will certainly resist the radicalization some are looking for, but which even Rabbis whose Zionist credentials are impeccable reject on ideological grounds.

    I reject the characterization of R’ Stav’s position as a radicalization. There is no question that he represents the more mainstream approach within RZ than that of those RZ rabbis who opposed him. In fact, his positions are much more in line with the attitudes of the greatest of chief rabbis, from R’ Kook to R’ Goren (before the chareidi takeover of the rabbanut in the 80-90s). As I wrote above, he had the support of most mainstream RZ rabbis. To call his proposals radical is to call mainstream RZ radical which, being RZ myself, I obviously reject.

    >Instead of according them the respect they deserve for their Torah scholarship and devotion to the welfare of Klal Yisrael, you seem to deligitimize them simply because some of their views align with those of some Charedi Rabbis.

    I see nothing wrong with criticizing their views when I think those views are not helpful for the welfare of Klal Yisrael. I am pessimistic about the ability of someone from their ideological background to make the kind of changes needed for the whole klal. Of course I reject those parts of the chareidi ideology that I think are maladaptive for modern Jewish national life – and of course I will criticize those ideas when I see them in the new chief rabbis. I do not understand why this is passul. I am NOT saying they are bad people, c”v, or that they have bad intentions, only that I think that their ideas will lead to many problems for the klal. I am sure that they think the same about my ideas – and R’ Stav’s ideas.

    >This is very sad state of affairs, not boding well for the needed cooperation between as broad a spectrum of Torah Jews as possible.

    This is the crux of the issue. The rabbanut’s main purpose is NOT for cooperation between Torah Jews. It is for the entire Klal! You certainly would agree that it would be absurd to suggest that the rabbanut should include and unify Hadar on its left and Satmar on its right – such a suggestion would be impossible since the ideological red lines would be mutually exclusive. Now, the fact is, that many in the RZ world don’t see my reductio ad absurdum as so absurd anymore and are now convinced that it is impossible for the rabbanut to contain both RZ and Chareidi elements. Call it a proto-schism if you will. But once the RZ world becomes convinced that there is not bridge to be built to the chareidi camp (and this is coming, lo aleinu, due to no small measure – the growing extremism of the chareidi world – although I admit that some of it is also due to the liberalization of the RZ world), then the natural partners will become those great mass of traditional Jews who want a Jewish country and a rabbinate but feel alienated by the current set of institutions. And if control of the rabbanut can not be achieved by the RZ world, then the natural next step would be to bypass it through legislation which I do not think will be possible without opening the door to both civil marriage and the heterodox movements.

    To me this is reason to write a kinna for tisha be’Av since I think that the consequences will be devastating either way. If such legislation is enacted, it will lead to Jews not being to marry each other. If it is not, it will lead to increased hatred of Judaism by large parts of the population. A Rabbanut that sees its main task as being an umbrella for Torah Jews will exclude 75% of the Jews in this country and while I am sure that the new chief rabbis will do their best to maintain good relations between different sects of Torah Jews, it will come at the price of the rest of the country who truly needs a rabbanut that should be much more inclusive than that.

  15. Doron Beckerman says:

    R’ Karlinsky,

    In order to avoid more angst on your part, I think it would be helpful to understand where Chardal is coming from and what his ultimate goal is. Chardal believes, categorically, that when there is rabbinic will there is a halachic way. Not sometimes, always. Chardal’s outlook on the halachic decision-making process, as it is carried out today, is that it is strait-jacketed by rigid rules that do not sufficiently take historical-positivist thought into account (as the Rishonim would have, as per Chardal, if only they were aware of that approach). Chardal believes that not allowing mamzeirim to marry Jews of impeccable pedigree, or chaining agunos, is immoral at the core, and that halachah, if properly implemented, does have the tools to effectively get rid of these laws, but is stuck in its own morass.

    Accordingly, Chardal’s own moral compass is his ultimate decisor, not Orthodox halachic due process in its current form. Chardal is willing to play by the rules for now so as not to break the system that is in place, but he does not really believe in it at all. Rav Stav, in Chardal’s world, is an old-schooler who is willing to push the envelope a bit further than others, but Rav Stav is a means, not an end. The end, according to Chardal, is the abandonment of Orthodox halachic due process as we know it.

    [I have meticulously steered clear of passing judgment on Chardal’s approach, though I certainly have strong opinions about it. I have merely encapsulated it, to the best of my understanding, based on his comments here and in other fora, so as to inform you (Rabbi Karlinsky) of the position with which you are contending.]

  16. contarian says:

    “Rav Lau is an excellent orator and teacher of Torah. But this is unique: every Thursday night at 11:00 PM, Rav Lau gives a shiur at a different home in one neighborhood of Modiin”

    Unfortunately, Rav Lau’s first reportrd remarks about the Thursday night viewing habits of Yeshiva Bochurim did nor refelct prudent oratory skills. How he knew about what goes on Thursday nights remains a mystery since he spent every Thursday night giving a shiur in Modiin.

  17. Shaya Karlinsky says:

    I agree with the predictive elements of chardal’s post, although I am more optimistic about the potential to avoid what neither of us want. Just one clarification in my last comment that seems to have been misunderstood. My reference to the needed cooperation between as broad a spectrum of Torah Jews as is possible was not because that is the role of the Chief Rabbinate. It is needed PRECISELY to avoid the dire predictions chardal makes. I agree those predictions could become reality, and that, unfortunately, many would celebrate that. I think we both hope and pray that his predictions are wrong.

  18. Chardal says:

    R’ Karlinsky,

    I am not sure I understand how broad rabbinic cooperation would help avoid these dire predictions. This is what we have had for the past 20/30 years and the reputation of the rabbanut has only suffered for it. You may not agree with the changes R’ Stav wanted to institute, but I am not sure how one can argue that the status quo is tenable. If we are in agreement that the current trajectory will lead to disaster, then the opponents of R’ Stav should have advocated an alternative set of changes that will realistically reverse the trend. But that is not what occurred. On one side, we had R’ Stav who identified a very large problem and his plan on how to resolve it and rehabilitate the relationship between wider Israeli society and the rabbanut. And on the other side, we had a set of candidates that either denied that there is any problem or minimized the extent of the problem to the extent that their most innovative proposal was for the rabbanut to build an interactive web site. I suggest that the detractors of R’ Stav explain either how the problem he described is overstated (which R’ Karlinsky has already conceded that the problem and the danger is very real), or explain how the candidates they are backing are planing to engage said problem. Wide rabbinic cooperation will not really help the agunot or the pesulei chittun or the bureaucratic mess that widely affects people’s perception of the rabbanut.

  19. Chardal says:

    It is already beginning. From an article on jpost on the fallout from the rabbanut election:

    “The Israeli public wanted a connection to Judaism, and it got a slap in the face from the dealmakers who said ‘you don’t interest us,’ ” Stav said of his defeat. “But Judaism is stronger than the dealmakers.”

    A precedent for the workaround strategies exists in the unlikeliest of places — the haredi community. Despite dominating the rabbinate, the community has its own privately administered kosher certification standard and runs its own network of private religious courts.

    Liberal activists believe that if the haredi community can do it, so can they.

    AND

    Batya Kehana-Dror, the head of a group that advocates for these women, hopes the new chief rabbis will find Jewish legal solutions for these so-called chained women, or agunot. But if they don’t, Kehana-Dror plans to convene a private religious court of three rabbis who have proven themselves willing to be more creative with Jewish law.

    “If the [chief rabbis] make a move toward finding a solution for agunot, it could be great news,” Kehana-Dror said. “When they don’t give us a solution, we’ll go to a private organization.”

    The chareidi victory in the rabbanut is looking to be of the Pyrrhic sort.

  20. dr. bill says:

    having a gadol bi’yisroel, leadership ualities, and merutzeh la’kol in one person is perhaps too much to expect. i think we have come much closer in the past, at least on occasion; and i am sure we would disagree on which occasions. even the unquestioned Gadol HaDor had detractors; those detractors have only grown over the generations.

  21. Dovid Shlomo says:

    As I said before, my disappointment with the election of Rav Lau is not related to his being aligned with teh Dati Leumi world rather than the haredi world, but because his election represents a further entrenchment of the Rabbanit as provider of patronage rather than servant of the people.

    The news of the past few days, of his having been given special consideration in order to pass the test for Rabbanut semicha, the news of his having made a deal with Shas to have his delegates vote for theirs and vice versa (despite Shas’s being the very engine of corruption and patronage that any moral personality would fight against), and his having made a deal with the Ashkenazi haredim to submit his geirus rulings to Rav Sherman (and I would suspect Shemitta matters will be submitted to Rav Efrati) seems to confirm my concerns.

    And yes, Rabbi Pruzansky, I have no doubt that Rav Lau is an all-around good guy who would make a wonderful officiator at ceremonial occasions. But Clal Yisroel needed as Rav haRashi someone who would turn the corrupt Rabbanut around, not someone who would continue the practices of the past.

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