The iPhone and the Get
by Rabbi Yair Hoffman
It is well known that the Gedolim of both Eretz Yisroel and America are rightly concerned about the devastating effects of exposure to pornographic images through rapidly developing technologies. And there is no question that even filtered access to the internet has no guarantees that a person may fall or stumble into the abyss. The internet and Smartphones are clearly a game-changer in terms of nisyonos, spiritual challenges to Klal Yisroel.
And as in many other venues in Judaism, organizations have arisen in order to assist in combating this new scourge. In Eretz Yisroel, these organizations are known as Amutahs, roughly equivalent the 501 C3 organization in the United States. Some organizations are of questionable legitimacy, but the vast majority of these organizations are genuine and justifiable.
Not everyone, however, will agree with the approach and mindset of those people who are involved in the day to day running of the organization. In order to gain a more universal legitimacy the people who run such organizations attempt to get letters of approbation and approval from leading Rabbis.
There may be another dynamic as well. Some of the people who run these organizations, well meaning though they may be, are so myopically focused on the success of their organization’s mission that they lose sight of the forest – in many cases the broader focus of the impact on Judaism.
It is this author’s opinion that this dynamic is what is behind the recent issue of the alleged ruling of Rav Chaim Kanievsky on the iPhone and Eidus – testimony.
A letter was written by the principal of an organization devoted to purity of thought where he claims that Rav Chaim ruled halachically that anyone that owns an iPhone has halachically and legally lost his ability to testify in matters of Jewish law, whether it be that he witnessed a wedding, a divorce, or the process of ensuring that a Mikvah has been cleaned and still retains its kosher status through the halachic concept of Hashaka.
The ramifications of this alleged ruling are quite devastating. Specifically, 1] thousands (if not more) of weddings are invalid and must be redone, 2] any second marriage where the first divorce document was witnessed by an iPhone owner and the second marriage has produced children – those children are Mamzeirim 3] the second husband must separate from his wife again and never live with her again 4] All children of women conceived after they immersed in the Mikvah are considered pagum and will have difficulty ever finding a shidduch.
Tellingly, the alleged ruling with such devastating repercussions was never actually signed by Rav Kanievsky – it was just stated orally – allegedly in the presence of his grandson.
There are, of course, four possibilities as to what actually transpired here.
- The well-meaning Rabbi who runs the organization got carried away and did not understand that Rav Chaim was merely giving him encouragement to continue his work but did not actually mean that the iPhone owners are genuinely pasul l’Eidus.
- Rav Chaim himself allowed the quote to be made as a type of warning as to how serious we must view this new challenge to Judaism, but he did not actually rule that the iPhone owners are genuinely pasul l’Eidus.
- The well-meaning Rabbi who runs the organization perhaps misrepresented to Rav Chaim what an iPhone device actually is and how the majority of people actually use it.
- This author is incorrect and Rav Chaim actually ruled this way with all the associated repercussions and consequences and fully understood the nature and use of the iPhone.
It is unfortunate, but this author is aware of numerous instances where the first and third scenario has been replayed many times with Gedolim. Indeed, many Gedolim have issued the clarification that they only issue their rulings based upon the facts at hand that are presented to them.
It is highly likely that one of the first three scenarios is correct rather than the fourth, for numerous reasons – many of them halachic.
In the past few days this author has left numerous messages with the organization to ask a number of questions with no response. An attempt has been made to verify the ruling with Rav Chaim Kanievsky. Our source has told us that Rav Chaim did not out and out forbid these things, rather he stated that it may be a potential problem. This indicates that the first possibility is the most likely scenario.
Regardless, what is necessary, indeed crucial, is that the organizations should not be permitted to run wild issuing statements and letters where the Posaik did not actually sign such a ruling – particularly when the devastation and repercussions would be so widespread.
Why is it so crucial?
Because most people, unfortunately, are unaware of Rav Chaim’s vast ouevre of halachic writing and are ignorant of the depth of his Torah knowledge and greatness. Seeing such statements time after time have a cumulative effect on people and takes away whatever emunas chachomim they have left. Our Torah leaders are the eyes and ears of the generation, and releasing statements and quotes said out of context or in response to a perhaps erroneous presentation of things only serves to undermine the respect we have toward Gedolei Torah.
This article first appeared in the Five Towns Jewish Times.
The author may be reached at [email protected]
What if somebody told you that Rav Chaim Kanievsky said that one of the Gedolei HaDor is a zakein mamre? No doubt many people would be skeptical of that, but it’s true and easily confirmed – there is an audio recording (stated about Rav Shmuel Auerbach), that is available online. This article claims that Rav Feinhandler is imposing his extremist views on Rav Kanievsky, but maybe it’s Rabbi Hoffman imposing his moderate views on Rav Kanievsky? I’m not saying that this is what happened – my point is that there is simply no way to know.
Does someone who carelessly misrepresents the details and implications of what he heard from a Gadol then become an invalid witness himself?
“Seeing such statements time after time have a cumulative effect on people and takes away whatever emunas chachomim they have left.”
Mema nafshach. If it was a problem that could/should have been fixed, why was it not done before? On the other hand, if there were valid reasons to leave the situation as is until now, notwithstanding the damage to emunas chachamim, why is this cumulative effect any different? Seriously, I hope that R. Hoffman’s call will be taken seriously, and no one accepts the above logic 🙂
In “Quit Stomping on Moderation”(March, 2010), R. Yaakov Horowitz wrote:
“I see no need to comment on the ceremony itself other than to condemn it and the extremist and violent message it sends impressionable young people in the strongest of terms. We are not well served conducting ceremonies – especially in venues that will be spread worldwide in a matter of moments – that invoke images of book burnings and the like…Our gedolim have issued clear and moderate guidelines for Internet use – balancing the need to safeguard ourselves and our children with the need to educate them to earn a livelihood. One need not look further than to follow their sage guidance.The radical views like those espoused by Rabbi Feinhandler and illustrated by his actions are stomping on far more than a single laptop. They threaten to trample the future – and Yiddishkeit – of the families who follow them.”
In “Our Growing Insanity Runs Counter to True Torah Judaism”(February, 2010), R. Yair Hoffman wrote:
” There is a growing tendency among the Torah world to reject technology and innovation. The rejection has reached an extremeness bordering on a Talibanesque fundamentalism, unseen throughout our history. A good case can be made that this rejection runs counter to true Torah Judaism, and should not be subsumed under the rubric of Ailu veAilu divrei Elokim Chaim…That is why a YouTube video [below] that is circulating where a laptop is destroyed by a Rosh Yeshiva in a Yeshiva for Baalei Teshuva in Yerushalayim is particularly disturbing.The viewer is left in a state of utter shock. Is this what we have come to? Rachmana Litzlan! Where is the normalcy, the saichel? Boruch hashem such people did not exist in the time of the Guttenberg press.”
it is important to distinguish a posek from a talmid hacham. poskim like rsza or rmf ztl, or roy or rye ztl of the next generation, or rzng of this generation are often blessed with siyatta di’shimaya that guides them not to require an explanation. they can be controversial, but not ambiguous. when such explanations are required, it is good reason to wonder.
The well-meaning Rabbi who runs the organization perhaps misrepresented to Rav Chaim what an iPhone device actually is and how the majority of people actually use it.
Are rulings by Gedoli Israel halachically binding? If so, shouldn’t they act like judges and attempt to listen to all sides, rather than just one, before issuing such rulings?
Or am I misunderstanding the Halachic system?
Recently the Orthodox world has held mass-meetings (asifas) against the internet.
When will there a mass-meeting against “Frum” Jews who only care about
money and will do ANYTHING to get more of it?
When will there a mass-meeting against “Frum” Jews who only care about
themselves and their own children, and do not care about anyone else?
When will there a mass-meeting against “Frum” Jews who drive and park
in ways that are Chillul HaShem?
When will there a mass-meeting against “Frum” Jews who are oblivious
to issues of nutrition and safety?
When will there be a mass-meeting against Lashon HaRa?
When will there be a mass-meeting against the Agunah Crisis?
When will there be a mass-meeting against anti-Sephardic discrimination?
When will there be a mass-meeting against anti-Baal Teshuvah discrimination?
When will there a mass-meeting against “Frum” societal rules
that make it impossible for unmarried Jews to meet each other?
This is always the standard refrain. It is always the gaboim or the askanim who are responsible for a psak not to our liking. This is getting sad and stale. Has a retraction or clarification been issued?
In all honestly and out of ignorance I would like to ask: Is there a new generation of Gedolim/Poskim who have the broad shoulders to deal intelligently and with understanding of the communities of Klal Yisroel. I fail to understand why there are no Poskim in the Diaspora whose wisdom is respected enough that they can made major decisions. I learned from a lecture on Jewish History by rabbi Dovid Katz that when Moses Mendelson first came to Berlin as a tutor of the son of a rich person, the kehila forbade secular books and had monitors who went around confiscating them. Mendelson got away with it because of his patron . Did this prohibition stop Reform at all? Right now, my yeshiva cannot have a web site because the Agudah still believes it is asur. We will be the second one to have one but meanwhile a major NJ institution uses someone else’s web site to solicit funds. Why is the internet still asur in the Olom Hatorah when evidence shows how beneficial it is for teaching Torah by many other very frum organizations like the OU and Chabad and many more.
I fear that we are like sheep without a shepherd and that many of our lambs will be lost because of it.
“When will there be a mass-meeting against Lashon HaRa?”
Actually there have been many such, I think for example they have one every year in Binyamei Ha’umah, for women, attended by thousands.
Asifa to raise awareness re internet is not the same as saying user of iphone is pasul le’eidus — which I do not believe R’Kanievsky ever said.
With due respect, I believe that Rabbi Slifkin has misconstrued the article. He writes: “This article claims that Rav Feinhandler is imposing his extremist views on Rav Kanievsky, but maybe it’s Rabbi Hoffman imposing his moderate views on Rav Kanievsky?” My article gave four possibilities, including possibility #2 and #4. The article does not claim that R. Feinhandler is imposing his extremist views on Rav Kanievsky, but suggests that this is a possibility along with the other three. Rabbi Slifkin, of all people, should be sensitive to the issue of misconstruing the words of others.
As far as the unfortunate disagreements that are occurring now between Rav Shmuel Auerbach and the other Gedolim, I would perhaps like to suggest that the debate revolves around a machlokes rishonim concerning the Mitzvah of listening to the leading Rabbis of the generation. The Sefer HaChinuch holds that the Mitzvah is still completely in force. It seems to me that there are many Rishonim that disagree with the Sefer HaChinuch’s position. Regardless, we must not only look at the leading Rabbis as the eyes and ears of the generation, but we must also view them in the same manner in which we view parents. When parents fight or argue, chalilah, it is a most painful and unfortunate scenario – not one to be cavalierly and whimsically discussed in casual conversation.
And there is possibility #5, which is that R’ Kanievsky actually said this, without fully considering the implications, perhaps like the Zebu psak, which was quietly withdrawn once it as called to the Rabbonim’s attention that it would mean that most tefillin, most sifrei Torah, and all dairy cows (and their dairy products) are no longer kosher.
Missing from R’ Hoffman’s analysis is the presentation of the real problem, which is that on the one hand, we are obliged to follow these pronouncements and on the other, there is no mechanism in place to clarify and/or verify.
Rather, all communication is by hearsay.
And that’s the REAL problem creating chaos within the halachic system, which has never before known of such things: Psak by fiat, delivered through hearsay, and with no mechanism for knowing the parameters or rationale.
First of all, THANK YOU for publishing this. You’re 100% correct that the Emunas Chachamim has been greatly damaged by these and other similar Psakim. As another Charedi fellow told me, he will now ignore all Psakim of Rav Chaim since he sees that his Psakim are vacuous
P.S. When are you moving to Israel: we could use you over here!
As to the issue itself, this is by no means the first such pronouncement from Rav Chaim regarding smartphones. He is quoted by others as saying someone will go to Gehenom for using one, and this has been ongoing for a few years.
I would seriously like for you to help me understand (and I ask this as a committed Charedi Jew living in Eretz Yisrael) how I can take anything which comes out of Bnei Brak seriously these days, if either all those with access to the Gedolim can distort their words, or our Gedolim are so out of touch with modern reality as to believe this about smartphones
(P.P.S. I also believe smartphones are destructive and dangerous)
According to the Sefer HaChinuch, how are “the leading Rabbis of the generation” defined? In the time of the Sanhedrin, there was one, objectively identified institution. How is it possible to say that the mitzva still applies nowadays? There is no one who is clearly and universally held to be THE Gadol HaDor?
Rabbi Hoffman is diplomatically, but unfortunately, sugar-coating this issue, especially in his last comment. The no-holds-barred battle in the chareidi community is not just an “unfortunate disagreement”, and reducing it to a lumdish machlokes rishonim is a smokescreen.
The fact is that the litvish community here in Israel has been torn to shreds. Every benign decision, such as which yeshiva to study in, which shul to daven in, and certainly which shidduch to pursue, is viewed through the prism of this battle. In Kiryat Sefer, newly diagnosed cancer is attributed to God’s punishment of those who voted for “the other” party in the recent elections. The chareidi gedolim’s policy decisions regarding the legitimacy of once highly regarded Torah institutions (Ashdod, Chadera)has been reduced to an “us vs. them” issue.
I dare say that emunas chachamim in the Israeli chareidi world is pure and absolute, only that one side’s chacham is worthy of total emunah, and the other side’s is worthy of none. There should be no surprise when those who didn’t buy a lifetime ticket to this grotesque display of avodas hashem will choose to take their spiritual business elsewhere.
Someone once came to ask R’ CK what Bracha to make on schnitzel. RCK asked “What’s schnitzel?” His wife piped in “It’s what you ate for lunch.” RCK paskened shehakol. What’s an iPhone anyway? I have a וכדו’
My Rav uses a cell phone and sends text messages quite often. He spent years in Kollel and is Charedi. He hasn’t mentioned this psak once. If someone doesn’t waste time reading blogs and web pages, he wouldn’t even know it exists. In the day to day frum world, I don’t think that the issue of what was supposedly said by Gadol Piloney means anything. The most important thing is to have a Rav of one’s own who he trusts to give psak and eitzos.
Natan Slifkin said:”This article claims that Rav Feinhandler is imposing his extremist views on Rav Kanievsky, but maybe it’s Rabbi Hoffman imposing his moderate views on Rav Kanievsky? I’m not saying that this is what happened – my point is that there is simply no way to know.”
First of all as Rabbi Hoffman pointed out he was not saying what happened. Second there is a way to know what was said. If people want to know they can ask Rav Chaim or they can ask people who have heard him. Thirdly even if true we would have to wait and see if he posuls Eidus accepted by others in actual fact.
With all due respect to R. Hoffman, I would council a little anavah. It is certainly possible that the Gadol Hador R. Chaim Kanievsky paskened as reported. Until we hear a clarification from him, I would council everyone with access to the internet whether through iPhone or computer (there’s no real difference) to refrain from serving as an Eid at marriages, divorces etc…
For if the Gadol Hador paskened as reported, then we are risking creating mamzerim as R. Hoffman correctly notes and it would be the height of irresponsibility and gaivah to risk this.
“Regardless, we must not only look at the leading Rabbis as the eyes and ears of the generation, but we must also view them in the same manner in which we view parents.”
R. Yaakov Horowitz used the parenting analogy, after the Lipa concert issue(“Lipa” – Where Do We Go From Here?”, 2/08):
“I suggest that a useful moshel for this discussion is to compare the relationship we have with the gedolim to the relationship that we have with our parents…When you were a child, you thought your parents could do no wrong. As an adolescent, you thought that you parents couldn’t do anything right.” With that in mind, I think that in many ways we vacillate back and forth between these phases when we think about our leaders…However, those who are currently in the adolescent phase, I suggest that, for the sake of the children, you very quickly realign yourselves to the third, mature phase. Our gedolim are great and elevated human beings. But human nonetheless.”
The statement of Zaken Mamre was clearly hyperbole, since the actual status of zaken mamre is not possible in the absence of a sanhedrin and Rav Chaim Kanievsky definitely knows this fact. Similarly he may have stated that owning an iphone is posel leadus as hyperbole to show his great opposition to iphones and not as a literal fact of halackha.
I don’t understand. He(R.Kanievsky) either said it or he didn’t. Surely somebody can get a clarification in 5 seconds? Why all the speculation, mostly apologetic and fanciful, all over the web, not just here? It’s been several days. A leader should lead.
Some Anavah Please said:
“I would council everyone with access to the internet whether through iPhone or computer (there’s no real difference) to refrain from serving as an Eid at marriages, divorces etc…
For if the Gadol Hador paskened as reported, then we are risking creating mamzerim as R. Hoffman correctly notes and it would be the height of irresponsibility and gaivah to risk this.”
We would be risking nothing. You can’t have people made into Mamzeirim who were fully ruled Kosher just because one Rav paskens so. There would be too many Rabbis overruled.
I fully agree with your general criticism of the psak and the way it was given and disseminated, but the particular issue you raised with gittin is wrong. Any get given in the past would not have any problem, because the psul, if it were, would only start after the psak is given, and not retroactively. I believe that even after such a psak, if it was given seriously and reported correctly, a practical psul would depend on a recognized beis din agreeing with it.
Two of the real issues which must be dealt with are
1) Psakim given orally are only relevant for the person they were given to, and that includes such general psakim as this one. If it was not written and defended in writing, then it can have no value to the wider public. This is true even without challenging the authority of the one giving the psak. Anything that is not written cannot be binding on anyone accept the one who asked the question, since there is no way to respond to the psak. No posek has any final authority based only on his stated conclusion,for psak is given to all rabbanim, and not just to him. This psak, as many other like it, should be ignored because it is not written, and no explanation was given. There is no reason for debate, and there is no disrespect involved, but the psak simply has no relevance to the wider community.
2) The lack of any formal structure is destroying the Chareidi community. There needs to be a formal organization which can release such statements, which would make sure that such questions are brought to an established beis din of leading rabbanim, and which can assure us what was said, who was involved, and what the circumstances were.
When will gedolim be held accountable for the immediate circle of handlers and kanaaim that surround them? Does the buck not stop at the top? It is NOT difficult to own what goes out in one’s name. One starts with the statement that “If I have not called to make a public statement, for which there will be accompanying official transcripts signed by me, it is not from me.” Cut the legs out from the handlers.
Obliviousness to pronouncements that and probably will be mis-reported at Twitter-speed around the globe is not encouraging for those of us who would like to retain emunas chachamim.
Yisrael Asper said:
“We would be risking nothing. You can’t have people made into Mamzeirim who were fully ruled Kosher just because one Rav paskens so. There would be too many Rabbis overruled”
It doesn’t matter how many Rabbis say its kosher if the Gadol Hador says its not.
A rabbi told me that such rulings have long come out of Bnai Brak. In the past,there were great leaders who commanded a folowing and one could listen to “His” or”Her” Rav. For some reason, nowadays there is the feeling that only a few extremely old men in Bnai Brak are the arbiters of Judaism. In truth,most frum Jews do not change their life styles because of this but it is disconcerting because of the coercive nature of the chareidi community. I again plead ignorance but almost all I see of Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky is that he prays for people who give tzedaka to an array of organizations that promise yeshuos and segulos. Does Rav Chaim really believe in “Tfilas HaChashmonaim” or a hundred other segulos, does he realize how he is being used? If not, how can he be taken seriously? If that is then so, how tragic that the Godol Hador is seen in this light by those who seek clarity in halacha and guidance? Maybe the answer is that we cannot rely on anything said in the names of these great but very closeted and very old men. Two things stick in my mind. One is the destruction of Slifkin and the statement by Rav Elyashiv to Rav Aharon Feldman,”they could but we can’t” meaning that in order to be an observant Jew one cannot accept any alternative understanding of nature, science, creation,etc. Not only control of actions but strict control of thoughts. I cannot submit to this and therefore wonder if I am indeed a part of the same world as he was. Secondly, before he died, a Kol Korei came out under his signature that it is forbidden to read Mishpacha Magazine or bring it into one’s home. There was no way to clarify if Rav Elyashiv actually signed it and no one ever could ask him if he had heard both sides of the story. If Gedolim are getting down into the mud of intramural sales campaigns of various magazines and newspapers, then what is it that makes them the Einei HaEida? If no one answers with any wisdom I will have to conclude that either I am irrelevant to Judaism or that these people are indeed not the leaders of our People. Isn’t that a tragedy?
for a similar case, see shevet halevi chelek b, siman beis
Some Anavah P,
Why stop at eidus? Any couple that was married in the last week should separate too if any of the eidim use smartphones. For, if the Gadol Hador made such a psak, it would be irresponsible to continue living with a woman without the benefit of a kosher nisuin.
Any couple where the woman performed tevilah over these last few days should immediately observe harchakos until the Mikva’s kashrut can be researched. For, if the Gadol Hador made such a psak, it would be pure ga’avah to dismiss it out of hand and continue to assume that one’s wife is in a proper state of Tahara.
If you were serious with your comment, please follow it through to its logical conclusion.
Some Anavah Please said:”It doesn’t matter how many Rabbis say its kosher if the Gadol Hador says its not.”
Don’t we go after the Rov?
With all due respect to the apologists, their excuses are nonsense. It is what it is.
During the latest war against the modern orthodox Rabbinate and bet Dins in the USA, the Jerusalem Bet Din regularly declared bet dins, rabbis and eydim on American written Gets pasul, and demanded second gets written in Jerusalem, often placing clueless divorced men under arrest unless they complied (thereby posuling the second get! but I digress..). When R Ben Dahan was confronted on this, he simply noted the complaints are “now two meters high” yet nothing will change, Eventually, the two most egregious Dayanim were retired as a solution.
Make no mistake about it, what was said is exactly what was meant.
I recall recently hearing it said about Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l that he stopped on Rechov Meah Shearim to read a Pashkevil, one with his name on it. This is a person who never parted from words of Torah in his lifetime, to a degree most of us can’t even understand. The Mashgiach of Kaminetzer Yeshiva told me that if an ordinary person would attempt to learn for the amount of time or with the intensity of Rav Elyashiv, he’d go mad. So why on earth was he reading a Pashkevil on a wall?
Someone asked him. Respectfully, of course. The answer? “I wanted to find out what I said today.”
Halacha is not made via Pashkevils, things quoted on blogs, or even things that show up in reputable journals. This is what “Aseh Lecha Rav” — make for yourself a Rav — is all about. The Gedolim can either concern themselves with every random statement made in their name, or with learning Torah. But they have Talmidim, and their Talmidim have Talmidim, and then there’s you. because all of us are at most three degrees distant from someone who speaks with a Gadol BaTorah with some regularity.
Want to know about your smartphone? Ask your Rav. If he doesn’t know, he’ll ask his Rebbe, who will ask his, who will ask the Gadol that he follows, if he doesn’t already know the answer.
In hachi nami. Since these matters are so serious and the danger so great we must be machmir until we receive a clear directive from the Gadol Hador renouncing the statement attributed to him. Nothing less than the integrity of yiddishkeit demands it. Otherwise we are no better than Reformers hamehalchim aharei shirirus libam.
It is difficult? Yes, but shverer zein a yid.
There are many Rabbis. He is just one. A big one but what happens next depends not on him but on our Rabbis.
To Some Anavah: I am reminded of a story concerning Rav Moshe Feinstein. A group of rabbonim, following the psak of Rav Menachem Kasher, declared that there was an eruv covering all of Manhattan Island, and therefore it was mutar to carry on Shabbos. Rav Moshe, when asked, stated that he was not acquainted with all the facts that made up the psak, but even if everything were as stated, he held there was no eruv on Manhattan. At that point, Rav Leo Jung of the Jewish Center went to Reb Moshe and asked him: What was he supposed to do in light of Reb Moshe’s psak, having come out in favor of the Manhattan eruv? Reb Moshe basically told him nothing at all. Since he never asked Rav Moshe, and he was relying on the psak of Rav Kasher, Rav Moshe’s psak didn’t apply to him. The point of the story is even if the most machmir of circumstances, the only people that would be obligated to follow this so-called psak are those who hold Rav Kanievsky to be their rav and posek. And that is assuming that Rav Kanievsky said what has been attributed to him.
Rav Hoffman is being too nice. Unless he believes that Rav Chaim Kanievsky needs a serious refuah shleimah, there is no way the story happened the way it is written in the letter. I don’t say this because I think that RCK is “moderate”, or because I have an opinion on his views. In fact, I know nothing about his views about the internet, smart phones and the like. But I *do* know that he is a wise and responsible man. Therefore, if he had all the facts (including how widespread the use of smartphones is) in hand, he would know that the ramifications of this psak are huge. And, in fact the letter claims that RCK said that even b’dieved, any marriages and gittin would have to be re-done. The letter also claims that creates a major problem with mikvaos.
In other words, according to this letter, RCK paskened that anywhere from dozens to thousands of marriages and gittin need to be re-done, and most of the Mikvaos in EY are pasul. Yet, he has done nothing to let people know about this except to have ONE oral conversation with ONE person in front of one witness, and hasn’t even bothered to sign the letter that one person wrote regarding the issue.
Simple responsible people with access to pen and paper don’t act this way. Does anyone really think that RCK is less responsible and sensible than your garden variety Rabbi? So, why is anyone taking this man so seriously?
Some Anavah Please
January 2, 2014 at 3:55 pm
In hachi nami.”
While I appreciate your consistency, I cannot fathom how you could agree to uproot kiddushin and tevillahs – even temporarily – based on an oral report that we all ‘heard in the name of the rabbi.’ You seem to believe that such a position is defensible…consider: what do you say to all the Rabbonim who were mesader these kiddushin? What do you say to all the Rabbonim who were Bo’el a safek nidda, according to your mehalech? You are prepared to create this worldwide uproar based on hearsay, and you are saying that it is on the populace to be Machmir until they determine otherwise?? Really?
In every chumra, there is a kula. It is critical to remember that. You may think that your shita to be machmir is a proper response, but you are sacrificing (i.e., being meikil) on the Sholom Bayis of untold thousands of bnei and bnos Yisroel.
I understand what you are saying, but this is not unheard of. Haim Druckman’s thousands of giyurim (40,000) were all rendered pasul by Rav Sherman (shlita) and his beis din. Sure, its unpleasant, but if emes demands it, we must do it.
And given the fact that Rav Kanievsky own grandson says that he was correctly quoted, until we hear him speak to the contrary we must assume that he said it and follow the psak.
Natan Slifkin said:”What if somebody told you that Rav Chaim Kanievsky said that one of the Gedolei HaDor is a zakein mamre? No doubt many people would be skeptical of that, but it’s true and easily confirmed – there is an audio recording (stated about Rav Shmuel Auerbach), that is available online. This article claims that Rav Feinhandler is imposing his extremist views on Rav Kanievsky, but maybe it’s Rabbi Hoffman imposing his moderate views on Rav Kanievsky? I’m not saying that this is what happened – my point is that there is simply no way to know.”
To show something negative was easily confirmed you say. It can be done just as easily to confirm if Rav Chaim Kanievsky did or did not not say what he supposedly said with the i-phone. To suggest a confirmation from him that he did not say it is something we cannot believe is the only way to say it can’t be done and that would suggest he would be lying about what his psak was. That would be inappropriate to suggest for him.
Yair Hoffman said:”With due respect, I believe that Rabbi Slifkin has misconstrued the article. He writes: “This article claims that Rav Feinhandler is imposing his extremist views on Rav Kanievsky, but maybe it’s Rabbi Hoffman imposing his moderate views on Rav Kanievsky?” My article gave four possibilities, including possibility #2 and #4. The article does not claim that R. Feinhandler is imposing his extremist views on Rav Kanievsky, but suggests that this is a possibility along with the other three. Rabbi Slifkin, of all people, should be sensitive to the issue of misconstruing the words of others.”
Rabbi Slifkin wrote vaguely “extremist” “moderate”. He left impressions and then left and can give explanation for his own words. The implication if one really thinks you offering possibilities of not meaning what R. Feinhandler is saying is claiming extremist views were imposed on Rav Kanievsky is that we are left with no defense of any more moderate interpretation of what was said or their actual implications. Either the most extreme view of what was said and what should be now done is to be attributed to Rav Kanievsky or else there is no way to confirm if he doesn’t subscribe to them.
But you must realize, my sons, that we do not ignore our teachings and logical proofs because of a strongly worded statement of a great scholar, or from his hyperbole. The scholar will occasionally exaggerate, as the fire of the Torah burns inside him. The truth does not have to retreat before him, but must stand strong in its place… We decide each question on its merits, and we do not give extra consideration to any scholar, rabbi, or genius.
Originally published at http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=8902&st=&pgnum=42&hilite=