Let’s Please Stick to the Facts: More on the Rabbanut and Rabbi Riskin

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40 Responses

  1. mycroft says:

    “vast majority of contemporary halachic authorities across the spectrum (including Modern Orthodox)”
    Please who you consider to be US contemporary Modern Orthodox halachik authorities. A very good argument can be made that since the Rav stopped active leadership 3 decades ago there is no one who fits that description.

  2. Shades of Gray says:

    “The issue of the Chief Rabbinate and Rabbi Riskin has nothing to do with Charedi versus Modern Orthodox approaches. It has to do with the propriety of a rabbi’s maverick positions, while the rabbi is a paid representative of a rabbinate whose positions he does not represent in numerous ways.’

    If it’s true that the Chief Rabbinate is embattled on all sides, then maybe it doesn’t pay to force our R. Riskin, and Efrat? It would be like the RCA and the OU forcing Open Orthodox rabbis and shuls out of their organizations. Obviously there are red lines, but the OU and RCA apparently don’t think its worth the disunity without those red lines being crossed(such as those that even YCT has distanced itself from its musmachim on different occasions).

    R. Aharon Lichtenstein felt it was wrong to disqualify R. Druckman regarding conversions. Maybe he would think the same here regarding R Riskin’s maverick views?

  3. mb says:

    Leibler 1 Gordimer 0.

  4. dr. bill says:

    I think we are doing a great disservice to the memory of the Rav and RMF ztl bringing them into the unique challenge that the Russian olim present. Given situations like questionable yichus, paternal affinity to judaism, army service, etc. various halakhic issues come to the fore. Both RMF and the Rav were dealing with the American scene where intermarriage was the burning issue and the reason for most (contested) cases of geirut. I believe, RMF’s position changed over his lifetime; how the Rav would view the current enigma is unclear, despite his personal stance that tended to be rather strict.

  5. Steve Brizel says:

    Mycroft-Your comments are reminescent of Americans from the Deep South and old line Communists and their sympathizers who dream of the “Lost Cause”. The issue as posed by R Gordimer was who serves and are considered as the Poskim and Baalei Mesorah for the MO world by that community-not whether anyone can hope to fill the place of RYBS. Take a walk around Washington Heights, especially in the RIETS Beis Medrash, and you might find the answers.

  6. DF says:

    Whatever the merits of the discussion (if that’s what it is) it is hubristic of R. Gordimer to say Mr. Liebler “attacked my essay”, as if he was the focus of Mr. Liebler’s wrath. R. Gordimer even writes a “Response”, as though Mr. Liebler had written a review of something he had written. In reality, Mr. Liebler’s opinion piece concerned the totality of the opposition to R. Riskin on what he deems improper grounds. R. Gordimer’s essay – a whole single sentence of it – was cited as one example among many, to make a larger point. (And even then the focus was on the RCA, not on R. Gordimer per se.)

    “Little things” like this cause one to lose credibility, and wonder if its more about self-importance than principle.

  7. shaul.shapira says:

    DF-
    Liebler wrote:
    “The Rabbinical Council of America, once a robust Modern Orthodox group, expressed the hope that the differences would be amicably settled. One of its executive officers, Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer, actually accused Rabbi Riskin “of violating the trust of his employer and contravening the rulings of the most preeminent halachic authorities of this and previous generations,” alleging that “the employer had more than ample reason to maintain that his employee was not adhering to the policies and values that he was hired to uphold.”

    This obscene depiction of Riskin as an employee of the Chief Rabbinate reflects the distorted mentality of those currently controlling the institution.”

    The whole essay isn’t particularly long and R Gordimer is quite prominent in it.

    “Little things” like this cause one to lose credibility, and wonder if its more about self-importance than principle.”

    I assume you’re speaking for yourself and not ‘hubristicly’ deciding that R Gordimer has undermined his credibility (along with a suggested sinister ulterior motive.)

  8. Shlomo r. says:

    Here is a novel idea:Rabbi Riskin is an “am haaretz diorysa”(just read some of his writings)and yet the Chief Rabbinate is indeed a horribly corrupt ineffective organization that works on cronyism not merit.When Rabbi Gordimer feels the need to defend the CR he loses credibility in his takedown of Rabbi Riskin.

  9. mycroft says:

    “The issue as posed by R Gordimer was who serves and are considered as the Poskim and Baalei Mesorah for the MO world by that community-not whether anyone can hope to fill the place of RYBS.”
    I quoted Rabbi Gordimer and asked ” consider to be US contemporary Modern Orthodox halachik authorities.”

    That is a simple question in response to what Rabbi Gordimer wrote :”vast majority of contemporary halachic authorities across the spectrum (including Modern Orthodox)”

    “Take a walk around Washington Heights, especially in the RIETS Beis Medrash, and you might find the answers.”
    From my previous cross- currents post
    “In the United States, I believe that the influence of my father, the Rov, is on the decline…And yet, there are former students, notable among them a number of faculty members or former faculty members at RIETS, who have not only turned their backs on the complex worldview the Rov espoused but are anxious to claim that the Rov him-
    self turned his back on this view. It has even been claimed that “Whatever
    he (the Rov) did aside from learning Torah came to him coincidentally.”
    It is, indeed, preposterous to think that his major philosophical essays,
    which interweave general philosophy and science, are “coincidental.” From page 15 of pdf file of article by Dr Tovah Lichtenstein
    http://traditionarchive.org/news/_pdfs/0007-00221.pdf

    Read more: http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2015/05/20/rav-aharon-lichtenstein-
    the-haredim/#ixzz3bwiKjnPT

    The following footnote from an article by Prof Waxman might indicate why a walk around the RIETS Beis Medrash does not reflect Modern Orthodoxy or theOrthodoxy of the Rav

    “7 This may, in part, help explain the perception of the “move to the right.” It may well be that Modern Orthodox rabbis, including those ordained at RIETS in the latter part of the twentieth century, were considerably more to the rightthan were their predecessors. In other words, the move to the right may have been within the RIETS semikhah (ordination) program, under the influence of a revisionist approach to the thinking of its revered head, the late Rabbi JosephB. Soloveitchik (“the Rav”), rather than within Orthodoxy as a whole, but is so glaring because rabbis are much more visible than the laity. On revisionism with respect to the Rav, see Lawrence Kaplan, “Revisionism and the Rav: The Struggle for the Soul of Modern Orthodoxy,” Judaism 48,3 (Summer 1999): 290-311

  10. David says:

    This whole discussion is extremely valuable.

    When my kids ask me “how could it be that Rabbi Akiva’s students didn’t honor each other”?, I will point them to this story, starting from the CR’s activities, all the way through these posts.

    Yasher koach.

  11. Aharon says:

    Rabbi Gordimer, when are you going to write about something positive? We know you don’t like liberal/OO Rabbis. What are you for?

  12. L. Oberstein says:

    Is it not true that conversion standards have markedly become more onerous. Both in the US and in Israel, there was a less demanding standard in the past. At a time when there are so many people in Israel of Jewish ancestry but not clearly Jewish, is it wise to make it so very hard to join the Jewish People? There have always been varying standards and why should the strictest be the only option? If you don’t want to marry someone who was converted by Rabbi Riskin, so be it,but to deny them entry to Klal Yisrael is very harsh. Rabbi Riskin bases his standards on halacha , he doesn’t make it up as he goes along.He is a respectable person and a talmid chochom. The alternative that seems to be on the table is to limit Judaism to those committed to being strictly orthodox. That is impossible in the present situation and can cause disaster by creating two classes of people in Israel, real Jews and fake Jews. If the person is sincere and if we had menchlichkeit and darchei noam, these geirim would become part of the Jewish people and in time many would become more observant. What I am saying is what normative conversion standards used to be, nothing radical at all.

  13. DF says:

    Shaul Shapira – I said Mr. Liebler’s article quotes one sentence from R. Gordimer among many other issues, and you respond by proceeding to repeat the one sentence I acknowledge he cited. In other words, we have no idea why R. Gordimer felt the need to write a “Response” when he wasn’t addressed in the first place, and can only wonder why he think Mr. Liebler’s essay was all about himself.

    I leave it readers to decide, if they’re interested.

  14. Ben Waxman says:

    http://www.inn.co.il/News/News.aspx/299587

    Whatever disagreements Rav Melamed (who is in no way a liberal rabbi) has with Rav Riskin’s approach, he completely disagrees with and denounces the attempt at removing him from his job. This upshot of this article is that Rav Gordimer’s last paragraph is simply wrong.

  15. Rafael Araujo says:

    “This whole discussion is extremely valuable.

    When my kids ask me “how could it be that Rabbi Akiva’s students didn’t honor each other”?, I will point them to this story, starting from the CR’s activities, all the way through these posts.

    Yasher koach.”

    Or, you could you tell them that this discussion has nothing to do with Talmidei R’ Akiva but instead is about standing up for Torah principles, even if unpopular and not in keeping with the move by certain leaders to fit Judaism to meet current social trends.

  16. Rafael Araujo says:

    “Rabbi Gordimer, when are you going to write about something positive? We know you don’t like liberal/OO Rabbis. What are you for?”

    He has. See links here:http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2015/02/17/ben-yeshiva-you-need-not-leave-a-yotzei-min-ha-klal-perspective/ and here:http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2014/12/26/lessons-of-emunah-from-professional-wrestling/ and here:http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2014/12/22/%D7%A4%D7%A8%D7%A1%D7%95%D7%9E%D7%99-%D7%A0%D7%99%D7%A1%D7%90-publicizing-the-miracles/.

    If you are looking for those who identify as MO or not as MO to let OO/liberals get away with consistently pushing the envelope and no rebuttals, you are mistaken. Also, would you make the same comment if R’ Gordimer was exposing the Chareidi World? I would hope so (Note:there are plenty more out there in the netherlands of the WWW who consistently criticize and focus on the Chareidi/Yeshiva/Chassidishe Worlds, much more than you see in regards to OO).

  17. Reb Yid says:

    R’ Gordimer would do well to look in his own backyard before throwing stones at others. Just between the Freundel and Rosenblatt cases alone, there’s plenty to question about the MO rabbinate and its flagship institutions where he is a prominent leader.

  18. Reb Yid says:

    R’ Gordimer would do well to look in his own backyard before throwing stones at others. Just between the Freundel and Rosenblatt cases alone, there’s plenty to question about the MO rabbinate and its flagship institutions where he is a prominent leader.

  19. shaul shapira says:

    DF-
    “I said Mr. Liebler’s article quotes one sentence from R. Gordimer among many other issues, and you respond by proceeding to repeat the one sentence I acknowledge he cited.”

    Correct. I thought it relevant for people to see that it wasn’t exactly a passing reference. I also noted that Liebler’s whole piece isn’t all that big. It’s not like you need an index to find his attack on R Gordimer.

    “In other words, we have no idea why R. Gordimer felt the need to write a “Response” when he wasn’t addressed in the first place,”

    In other words, we have a very clear idea why R. Gordimer felt the need to write a “Response”. He most certainly WAS addressed in the first place.

    “and can only wonder why he think Mr. Liebler’s essay was all about himself.”

    I can only wonder where you got the idea that he thinks that. Did you even read his response? Quote: “Mr. Leibler mounts his journalistic assault on the Chief Rabbinate and those who respect the Chief Rabbinate’s right to deliberate about whether or not to extend Rabbi Riskin’s tenure as Chief Rabbi of Efrat by alleging comprehensive corruption of the Chief Rabbinate and painting it as the embodiment of ultra-Orthodoxy” Unquote. Heck, even the title is: “The Chief Rabbinate and Rabbi Riskin: A Reply to Isi Leibler of The Jerusalem Post”

    “I leave it readers to decide, if they’re interested.”

    Agree 100 percent.

  20. Steve Brizel says:

    Mycroft-Are you implying that in order to be a “true talmid” of RYBS, a Phd in Kant was or is necessary? Please show anywhere in RYBS’s own writings, as opposed to a sociologist’s article, that such is the case. WADR, your post is yet another example of the “lost cause” school of rhetoric at work.

  21. dr. bill says:

    Rabbi Oberstein, I agree with your post (except that you are missing a “?”at the end of your first sentence. Clearly, the machmirim can quote a gemara. But imagine if a traditional orthodox rabbi quoted something in the Talmud inconsistent with other texts and not quoted le’halakha by either major rishonim or various authors of codes. Even when quoted le’kula where koach de’hetairah adif has some sway, the (meta-halakhic) justification would have to be strongly reasoned.

  22. dr. bill says:

    Steve Brizel, The Rav ztl probably did favor a PhD in one area over another. I have only 2 concrete data points and it would presumptuous for me to even guess at his overall POV. Nonetheless, I can assure you he highly valued other areas of philosophy and mathematics, beyond just studies in neo-Kantianism. In any case, asking for an example in what the wrote indicating X, is laughable. Can you demonstrate his expertise in say hilkhot Niddah or medicine or mathematics from what he wrote??

    It might suprise you, but I would not assume the Rav would guide/influence one’s graduate education today as he did 40-60 years ago. the times are quite different and I can only speculate.

    BTW, i was curious who is the sociologist you refer to might be? I know of only one article about the Rav written by a sociologist. Heaven forbid, you were referring to that one!

  23. David says:

    Rafael Aruajo wrote:

    “Or, you could you tell them that this discussion has nothing to do with Talmidei R’ Akiva but instead is about standing up for Torah principles, even if unpopular and not in keeping with the move by certain leaders to fit Judaism to meet current social trends.”

    Thanks for that perfect quote from the combatants among talmidei Rabbi Akiva. I’m sure they said the same thing.

    (On a less sarcastic note: of course, I am not advocating “anything goes”. What I am saying is that this is not such a case. I can’t prove it, but to me one should find such cases few and far between, and not rush to judgment.)

    And so that this should be clear: I was and am referring to both Rabbi Gordimer’s post and to Isi Liebler’s article.

  24. L. Oberstein says:

    Regarding mas conversions of Russians of Jewish ancestry who are not halachicly Jewish,this depends on how one ciews the present era and the State of Israel. Chareidim who only grudgingly accept the existence of Medinat Yisrael and do not see the Yad Hashem in its creation are not the ones who should be making the rules for the overwhelming majority of the country. If Rav Elayshiv ,zatzal, quit the Rabbanut due to disagreement with a heter given by Rav Goren the brother and sister that they were not mamazeirim. His ultimate show of contempt for teh official rabbinate was when he forced Rabbi Yona Metzger onto the nation for 10 years as Cheif Rabbi. Everyone knew that this man was far from qualified and was meant to be nothing more than a figurehead.Now, he will go to jail,nost probably and his venality is revealed for all. In my opinion, if this is how little Rav Elyashiv felt about the institution of the official rabbinate,then he and his successors should not try to control it or determine its procedures. They should not make deals with the non religious to install non Zionist rabbis who do not believe that the new Jewish Commonwealth is a miracle and that certain measures need to be taken to insure that it can in-gather all Jews. The chareidim don’t have a problem with primitives from backward countries who accept whatever they are told but they can’t deal with sophisticated Russian Jews who have been raised in a totally secular society and need special handling to acclimate to Jewish religious life. This is not so much a halachic nit pick as a fundamental variance and my contention is that since “You”, whoever you are ,don’t really believe in the State, then stop trying to dictate to it. Rabbis Lau,father and son, are nice people, good mixers, socially adept, friendly and can get along with everyone. I don’t think they are the ones fighting Rabbi Riskin.

  25. dr. bill says:

    Rabbi Oberstein, I am becoming a fan of your posts. I would just point out that for those looking for a sign from Heaven, they need not look further than one of the prominent Russian olim, Avigdor Lieberman, one of whose children was positively/religiously influenced by Rabbi Riskin. A sign from God; another knock missed by some.

  26. Steve Brizel says:

    Dr Bill wrote in relevant part:

    “It might suprise you, but I would not assume the Rav would guide/influence one’s graduate education today as he did 40-60 years ago. the times are quite different and I can only speculate.”

    Then why do some posters here assume that the only “true talmidim” of RYBS are those with PhD. Obviously, if the world today is not that of the 1940-1960s, as you stated, why then would anyone assume that RYBS thought that a PhD was absolutely necessary today?

  27. Steve Brizel says:

    Dr Bill-the article that is quoted today is that of Dr Chaim Waxman, which Mycroft quotes periodically on this thread.

  28. dr. bill says:

    Steve Brizel, I am talking how the Rav ztl saw a Ph.D. for a graduate say between 1945-1975 and a Ph.D. for someone graduating after say 2000. His view for those of that era, might not be his view of those 20+ years later. I would argue strenuously that those who interacted with Rav in those years and are accomplished talmidei chachamim AND had a relevant Ph.D. are much more likely to better understand the Rav, then his talmidim who saw him ONLY in his primary role – as a Rebbe/melamid. Those who cannot read the Halakhic Mind (and U’vekashtem), cannot know how the Rav thought. Of the three talmidai chachamim who I know as able to comment on the Halakhic Mind, only one is still among us, 2 already in Olam HaEmes. In EVERY case that I am aware of, when challenged by how they thought the Rav would react to a current situation, they would never answer as definitively as those who deign to “really know.” Personally, I doubt the Rav would not adjust his view about a Ph.D. given our very different world.

    Thanks for putting me at ease by identifying Dr. chaim Waxman; I have not read anything about the Rav by him.

  29. Sass says:

    Dr. Bill,

    Could you please provide a link or reference to the sociologist’s article on the Rav to which you referred…I am not familiar with it.

  30. mycroft says:

    “Dr Bill-the article that is quoted today is that of Dr Chaim Waxman, which Mycroft quotes periodically on this thread”
    True statement-It should be noted that Dr Waxman is a musmach of RIETS- although he doesn’t generally use the title Rabbi.

    “Thanks for putting me at ease by identifying Dr. Chaim Waxman; I have not read anything about the Rav by him.”
    Try and google Chaim Waxman and Rabbi Soloveitchik- you’ll find many listings. Note that in Dr Tovah Lichtenstein’s Tradition article about the Rav-the only thanks she gives is to Prof Waxman for his suggestions.

    ” I would argue strenuously that those who interacted with Rav in those years and are accomplished talmidei chachamim AND had a relevant Ph.D. are much more likely to better understand the Rav, then his talmidim who saw him ONLY in his primary role – as a Rebbe/melamid.”
    I don’t disagree-however would add in addition to learning in classical Yeshivish sense and ability to understand the Ravs hashkafa-one must be aware and take seriously, how the Rav paskened halacha lemaaseh and how institutions that clearly followed the Rav such as Maimonides School and the Rabbinic Council of Americas halacha commission acted during the Ravs active leadership.

    ” Those who cannot read the Halakhic Mind (and U’vekashtem), cannot know how the Rav thought.”
    A similar argument can be made about the Rambam and the Moreh Nevuchim.

    “Of the three talmidai chachamim who I know as able to comment on the Halakhic Mind, only one is still among us, 2 already in Olam HaEmes. In EVERY case that I am aware of, when challenged by how they thought the Rav would react to a current situation, they would never answer as definitively as those who deign to “really know.””
    I remember when the Neeman Commission existed I asked a relatively close student of the Rav what would be the Ravs position on the Neeman Commission-he stated he didn’t know and gave reasons why the Rav would be in favor and why he would be against. This at a time when people from both sides “knew” how the Rav would have paskened.

  31. Moshe says:

    The personal hashkafos of Rav Soloveitchik and Rav Lichtenstein may have been valued during their lifetimes, but are subsequently doomed to sterile irrelevance. No one can possibly deign to know what they may have thought about anything that happens today. In fact, even during their lifetimes no one can know what they thought about anything without their actually having said it, and even if they had said it they may have said something else to someone else.

  32. mycroft says:

    “The personal hashkafos of Rav Soloveitchik and Rav Lichtenstein may have been valued during their lifetimes, but are subsequently doomed to sterile irrelevance. No one can possibly deign to know what they may have thought about anything that happens today.”

    Then we have no mesorah-to a great extent what hashkafic study is an attempt to understand what the attitude of our baalei mesorah would be for different changing conditions-similar to the halachik issues of new technology trying to ascertain how we would pasken in a new situation.

  33. mb says:

    I wish you would publish R.Eliezer Malamed’s op-ed defense of R.Riskin.

  34. Moshe says:

    Well, people are going to have to decide if they have a hashkafic contribution to make to contemporary reality or not. Some tend to insist on detachment.

  35. dr. bill says:

    Moshe and mycroft, Both the Rav and RAL ztl were brisker; their analytic perspective often resulted in the ability to uncover multiple perspectives that could both frustrate or deepen psak. However, I would not refer to their legacy as “sterile irrelevance.” As I and others have often pointed out, those who know either individual, perhaps slightly more so the Rav, would never categorically assert their position in a new era or circumstance, like some in this post. But in my mind that is a good thing. What they did do, was engender within their students a discipline that when confronting especially a complex issue, stressed examining the various logical possibilities. In addition, their goal was to create independent individuals, confident in their decision making process, bounded by their knowledge. Watching them dissect an issue, their methodologies for identifying logical possibilities and their elucidation of halakhic concepts created a very rich mesorah.

  36. Doron Beckerman says:

    This leaves no mesorah of practical value. Virtually any maverick can come up with some sort of justification for anything at all, and “nuanced and sophisticated thought” boils down to “anything goes because I (student who, rightly or wrongly, believes he has a pretty good idea of what they might say) say so.” The bottom line is sterile irrelevance.

  37. mycroft says:

    “dr. bill
    June 5, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    Moshe and mycroft, Both the Rav and RAL ztl were brisker; their analytic perspective often resulted in the ability to uncover multiple perspectives that could both frustrate or deepen psak.”
    And as Briskers they would be very good at raising chakiras even when they didn’t follow the chakira lemaaseh. Thus, someone who knew the Rav primarily from shiur could even acting in good faith misinterpret the Ravs positions because the Rav might have only been raising a chakira rather than halachah lemaaseh.

    “However, I would not refer to their legacy as “sterile irrelevance.””
    I certainly do not believe I would never have have referred to the Rav or RAL in those terms.

    “As I and others have often pointed out, those who know either individual, perhaps slightly more so the Rav, would never categorically assert their position in a new era or circumstance, like some in this post.”
    Agreed-but that is true for all Gedolim-the Rav had a much bigger record in his lifetime than many gedolim-thus, there are a range of probabilities of the likelihood of his taking certain positions-like all others there may at time be a good faith dispute as to how he would rule in issue X which he wasn’t around to rule on.

    ” But in my mind that is a good thing. What they did do, was engender within their students a discipline that when confronting especially a complex issue, stressed examining the various logical possibilities. In addition, their goal was to create independent individuals, confident in their decision making process, bounded by their knowledge. ”
    True-BUT the Rav had many red lines that a talmid of his was supposed to follow. I knew a talmid of the Rav who was at least relatively close to the Rav. He stated that there were occasions when he would ask the Rav a sheila the Rav would tell him you have to make your own decision-“you are there what do you expect me to say” BUT the Rav offered to review the relevant sources that one should use to make the decision.

    “Doron Beckerman
    June 6, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    This leaves no mesorah of practical value.”
    If the mesorah of the Rav has no practical value so does the mesorah of RMF-where there is disagreement of his positions between his son and son-in-law, RSRH, etc , Chazal often have disputes as to what a person held.

    ” Virtually any maverick can come up with some sort of justification for anything at all, and “nuanced and sophisticated thought” boils down to “anything goes because I (student who, rightly or wrongly, believes he has a pretty good idea of what they might say) say so.” ”
    If he can pass the test in the universe of ideas fine-BTW beauty of blogs we have opinions and challenges-people will read the quality and accuracy of responses and determine what ideas survive and which don’t. ”

    “The bottom line is sterile irrelevance.”
    A conclusion which I suspect most disagree with.

  38. Doron Beckerman says:

    It is fine and wonderful to have disputes over what a person might have said – but there are two extremes here that are mesorah-killers. The first is that no one (other than those who agree with me?) can accurately apply what they think, and the other is that everyone has a right to an opinion in the name of sophistication and nuance. One means that there is no practical mesorah, and the other sucks any meaning out of the word mesorah to the point of irrelevance.

  39. Ben Waxman says:

    This leaves no mesorah of practical value.

    Rav Doron:

    At a lecture given by Rav Meir Lichtenstein, he said that the Rav strongly opposed rabbis simply deciding issues based on “the Rav said, Rav X, Y, Z said”. Rabbanim have a responsibility to decide issues based on a variety of factors, not just because of something someone said several decades ago.

    Yes people can play games and justify anything by using some rabbi’s words. I remember a certain rabbi saying that if you read Rav Soloveitchik’s works very carefully, you’ll see that he is a feminist. Ok.

    But there can be a real middle ground. Soldiers are taught מורשת קרבץ, not so that they’ll repeat what Ariel Sharon did in some of his battles, simply because Ariel Sharon did it, but to learn lessons (including moral values) from those events. Same thing here.

  40. Ben Waxman says:

    Here is the English translation of Rav Melamed’s article on Rav Riskin:

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/17024

    “Some maintain that the Chief Rabbinate is authorized to establish guidelines to which all rabbis must adhere, and Rabbi Riskin has flaunted these guidelines on matters such as conversion.

    Indeed, the Rabbinate should take positions on contemporary communal issues. However, to do so it must engage in profound, serious analysis of each issue. The discussion must involve Gemara, Rishonim, and Acharonim, and contemporary conditions must be analyzed in all their complexity. In order to promote the discussions, the rabbis addressing these issues must study articles and books on the relevant issues. Even after this groundwork is laid, the issue must be deliberated over the course of several days at the very least. To our dismay, there are no serious discussions taking place today about any significant issues, neither in the Chief Rabbinate nor any other rabbinic body. For example, Rabbi Haim Amsalem wrote a very serious book dealing with conversion, which deserves to be discussed. Although my conclusions differ from his, most who disagree with him offer frivolous objections that are often backed up with violence.

    I must add that despite the value of establishing an official position on every issue, this position must not negate the right of individual rabbis to exercise discretion. “

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