Weekly Digest – News and Essays In and Out of Orthodoxy – Week of Parshas Vayakhel 5776

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90 Responses

  1. dr. bill says:

    Why highlight a Yated article about their version of a story about one who they assert qualifies for support as a shevi?  perhaps point to the Iowa paper’s coverage in the Gazette as well.  the truth probably lies somewhere in between, but I suspect a great deal closer to local coverage. Rubashkin may not deserve the sentence he received, but I read that his continued claims (of innocence ) annoyed the judge, who viewed them as further acts of perjury.  Yated is exhibiting its standard behavior.  Our community’s continued tolerance for similar behavior is not without consequence.

  2. R.B. says:

    A Reform clergyman on Basar v’Chalav: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-rabbi-eats-a-bacon-cheeseburger/.

    dr. bill – please inform yourself much better before you post a comment like that. There were two separate trials – one on the criminal charges and a separate trial on immigration law violations. The Yated article is speaking about the trial in respect of the immigration charges. Of course for you, that probably doesn’t make any difference to your jaundiced eye (and I write this as somebody who doesn’t toe the usual view on the criminal case).

    • mycroft says:

      Immigration would be a federal issue-the Yated article deals with a labor law case a state issue.

      He has been convicted and sentenced to decades of prison time on federal charges. The record shows major frequent violations of law. His sentence was well within guidelines although IMO slightly on the high side. When the controversy about his sentence arose I read the sentencing memoranda and tried to apply it to the sentencing guidelines-I would have computed 23 years slightly less than sentence.

      • R.B. says:

        Yes, I stand corrected.

        However, I just read the article again. It deals exclusively with the trial of the labour law violations. Nothing about the criminal case. So my criticism of dr. bill’s comments stand. And your comments are irrelevant, since the article was not discussing the 23 year sentence.

      • mycroft says:

        “And your comments are irrelevant, since the article was not discussing the 23 year sentence”

        His sentence was for a few years more than the 23 which would have been my best estimate based on facts from sentencing memoranda. The only reason why anyone would be concerned about the dropping of these charges is if they beleive Rubashkin was sentenced unjustly to his lengthy sentence

      • Steve Brizel says:

        The fact that Rubashkin was convicted on federal white collar charges is irrelevant to the fact that he was acquitted on state labor law charges, which were predicated on a state raid that preceded by a full month  the federal raid on Agriprocessors.

    • dr. bill says:

      Just read the local Iowa paper and Yated; you can drive a large truck between their accounts.  Believe what you wish.

      • R.B. says:

        Okay, I will take your advice. If I find an article in any general circulation newspaper, compare to a similar article on the same issue in Yated, Hamodia, and then assume that the non-Jewish paper is always writing from an objective perspective and assume its account must be correct, Got ya!

      • Steve Brizel says:

        The correspondent for the local Iowa paper questioned whether the expunging of the record was the intended purpose of the Iowa state statute since in her opinion,  the charges in the state and federal cases were interrelated, even though the allegations as to violations of immigration laws were severed from the financial charges and dismissed. That’s her opinion and she’s entitled to it.   The Yated correspondent , who had been covering the trial also for a long time, noted that the order expunging the record of the state charges  was a rather remarkable decision. Would it not be fair to state that Yated article merely noted that the expunging of the record was the result of some excellent advocacy by whoever sought it on behalf of Rubashkin, in arguing for a distinction between the white collar violations and the violations of the state statute  and that the Yated merely pointed that out? It was hardly a cry for Pidyon Shevuyim.

      • mycroft says:

        “of some excellent advocacy by whoever sought it on behalf of Rubashkin,”

        I would not maintain based on Rubashkin’s sentence that he had excellent advocacy during his legal troubles. It makes news when someone wins at a criminal trial against the government  -because it is so rare. Good representation does not mean making headlines in the press, accusing the whole justice system of prejudice against you. It is before everything is set in stone trying to make a deal. Note this sentence was even wo other serious charges which the govn’t dropped after Rubashkin was sentenced to decades.

      • Steve brizel says:

        Please reread. I said that the sealing of the record was the result of excellent advocacy.

  3. mycroft says:

    “If the Reform Movement Does Kiruv, What’s the Problem? – Very surprising comments by Rabbi Amnon Bazak of Yeshivat Har Etzion, which stirred much controversy”

    I don’t see the controversy-it is not that Reform is the cause of people leaving traditional Yahadus and not doing proper actions. BTW the spirit of his piece also would apply IMO against the attacks on OO. It is not OO that is the cause of people leaving Orthodoxy-to the extent that people do.

     

    • Steve Brizel says:

      I think that the best reactions to the so-called growth of heterodox movements are to (a) realize that many BTs flock to Orthodoxy, whether MO, RZ or Charedi from the heterodox movements, especially their camps and teen aged programs and (b) treat the heterodox movements the way that most traditional if not fully observabt Israelis view them-as American implants that have been utterly unsuccessful to land more than beachheads enforced by the Israeli High Court of Justice.  We have friends in Ramot Beit-where there is a heterodox house of worship-when we visited our friends, it was empty-even on Shabbos with no signs of life during the week. I question the need to go on the warpath and make martyrs in the Israeli ( and then the international media) out of both heterodox movements that have never been accepted as legitimate by most Israelis. The worst that can happen is that we will see Brachos Lvatalah at the Kosel. I think that the spectre raised of mamzerim, etc in the Charedi media and elsewhere will be counterproductive to anyone who thinks that traditional Israelis might just find depth and profundity either in the MO, RZ or Charedi worlds. Throwing stones or engaging in rhetorical combat with the heterodox movements has never been a constructive option and should be viewed as counterproductive in their entirety as a means of attracting either traditional but not observant or totally unobservant Jews to thinking about why they should be observant.

  4. dr. bill says:

    I always marveled at the Rav ztl’s ability to overlook whatever indignities he was subject to and act magnanimously.  The letter to which you link, the stories about his visits to R. Schneur Kotler ztl during his aveilut and later during his illness, his warm friendships with gedolim who signed the letter against his approval of participation in the SCA, the multiple urban legends reporting his supposed response (s) when asked about his contributions to the Eidah, etc. paint a picture of one whose self-awareness needed no validation by others.  On the other hand, he was not shy about criticizing positions with which he disagreed.   I often wonder how he would have suggested we behave given the malevolent treatment accorded him after his death.
     

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Why don’t you ask the son of R Moshe Twersky HaShem Yimkam damo, who IIRC married the daughter or granddaughter of the editor of the JO at the time of RYBS’s Petirah? I would suggest that the check and letter demonstrate that RYBS’s support for Mosdos HaTorah was not guided or restricted by a self imposed hashkafic litmus test, and should set an example for all who claim to be his talmidim

      • dr. bill says:

        I would NOT ask anyone associated with ToMo for their views of the Rav ztl.  I would rather trust the late Rabbi Hartman, who (at least) honestly acknowledged his significant differences.  You are free to inquire about the Rav where you choose; I am as well.  Sadly, those who knew the Rav intimately, are disappearing.

      • Steve brizel says:

        R Moshe twersky zl hashem yimkam damo was an amazing talmid chacham who was niftar Al kiddush haShem and who Learned more bhasmada mruba rybs then you can imagine

        please do not sully the memory of a kadosh by mentioning him in the same breath with someone who walked away from the Torah community.

      • Steve brizel says:

        You missed my point. Rybs had no self imposed hashkafic litmus test and a grandson who was a great talmid chacham and who went to Maimonides and diets married a descendant of the then editor of the Jo. Bearing grudges and revenge are issurei Torah. The war is over

        Get with the program

      • mycroft says:

        “Bearing grudges and revenge are issurei Torah. The war is over”

        When will the war be over against musmachim of RIETS who may not accept the same hashkafa that you and others attacking OO have?

      • mycroft says:

        “Rybs had no self imposed hashkafic litmus test”

        If so, he would have had no problem with R David Hartman. You are correct that the Rav would deal with people who rejected his hashkafa-the Rav referred to that when he said that many of his students would go learn from him yet they believed he was an apikorus. Many top students rejected the Ravs hashkafa.

         

        “and a grandson who was a great talmid chacham and who went to Maimonides”

        he had two who fit that description-children generally don’t pick the HS that they attend.

        “and diets married a descendant of the then editor of the Jo”

        relevance that even family connections didn’t prevent the hatchet job against the Rav?

      • Nachum says:

        This is a somewhat rude comment to make- and twice. In any event, external factors, tragic or not, should not prevent healthy discussions.

      • Steve brizel says:

        R Moshe twersky zl yimkam damo regarded rybs as his rebbe muvhak and sat shivah for rybs. R twersky zl learned all of me nachos and or zevachim with every rashi tosfos rambam and shitah mkubetezes with rybs b havrusa but referred to it as simple pshat. I think that your arbitrary lack of kavod for a great talmid chacham and mentioning rdh in the same post is sad

      • mycroft says:

        “In any event, external factors, tragic or not, should not prevent healthy discussions”

        It has limited my response to Steve.

      • Shai Meyerson says:

        Among those who were both personally close to him, and are serious talmidei chachamim, whose main occupation is in-depth Torah learning (like his was), I have not encountered substantial discrepancies about what the Rav stood for and what his goals were. This includes people with a wide range of personal  hashkafos, from R’ Meiselman shlit”a to R’ Lichtenstein ztz”l. They are the most trustworthy because, in addition to their personal closeness to him, they understand the Torah context he was coming from.

      • mycroft says:

        “who were both personally close to him, and are serious talmidei chachamim, whose main occupation is in-depth Torah learning (like his was), I have not encountered substantial discrepancies about what the Rav stood for and what his goals were. This includes people with a wide range of personal  hashkafos, from R’ Meiselman shlit”a to R’ Lichtenstein ztz”l”

        How do you define ” substantial discrepancies about what the Rav stood for and what his goals were”

        “were both personally close to him, and are serious talmidei chachamim, whose main occupation is in-depth Torah learning”

        Who fits all 3 of your requirements?  BTW I would trust for accuracy of what the Rav did those who have no vested interest in hashkafa one way or the other

      • dr. bill says:

        More is unnecessary; anyone comparing RAL ztl (or his other SIL or son) with Rabbi Meiselman in terms of their respective abilities to reflect accurately on the Rav ztl’s hashkafa is not deserving of further response.  As one person asked with a wide grin: Was he (meaning Meiselman) ever in the Rav’s second floor library? vehaMaivin Yavin.

      • Shai Meyerson says:

        Mycroft asked:
        How do you define ” substantial discrepancies about what the Rav stood for and what his goals were”
        For example: Rav Soloveitchik supported Mizrachi on practical rather than ideological grounds, i.e., he felt their institutions were crucial in guarding the needs of Torah observance in Eretz Yisroel, but did not believe that there is anything essentially holy about Zionism. He stated it is valuable only inasmuch as it serves Torah. He was also wary of Israeli identity replacing Jewish identity. Some might emphasize his support of Mizrachi, and others may emphasize his reservations and qualifications, but I at least have never seen a disagreement regarding his actual position on the matter.
        Who fits all 3 of your requirements?
        Well, I already mentioned two. I’m no expert on this, but I imagine his grandson R’ Meir Twersky shlit”a and R’ Hershel Shachter shlit”a qualify.
        BTW I would trust for accuracy of what the Rav did those who have no vested interest in hashkafa one way or the other
        Theoretically, but I don’t know if such people really exist – anyone who has a hashkafah has a vested interest in it because he presumably lives his life in accordance with it. And those invested in Torah enough to appreciate the Rav’s mindset are bound to have a hashkafah.

      • Shai Meyerson says:

        “More is unnecessary; anyone comparing RAL ztl (or his other SIL or son) with Rabbi Meiselman in terms of their respective abilities to reflect accurately on the Rav ztl’s hashkafa is not deserving of further response.”

        Yes, dr. bill, of course, how terribly silly of me!

        I’m just a wee bit curious to hear about the actual discrepancies…

      • mycroft says:

        “Why don’t you ask the son of R Moshe Twersky HaShem Yimkam damo, who IIRC married the daughter or granddaughter of the editor of the JO at the time of RYBS’s Petirah?”

        What does that have to do with the” malevolent treatment accorded him after his death”

        Who Rav Moshe Twersky’s wifes ancestors were has nothing to do one way or the other how the JO treated the Rav.

        “I would suggest that the check and letter demonstrate that RYBS’s support for Mosdos HaTorah was not guided or restricted by a self imposed hashkafic litmus test, and should set an example for all who claim to be his talmidim”

        I am aware that at least some talmidim of the Rav gave to BMG-I wonder how many of R A Kotlers students gave a contribution to the Ravs pet charity Maimonides School?

        As Dr. Bill wrote” On the other hand, he was not shy about criticizing positions with which he disagreed.” applies more often than you would think to his disagreements with the way chareidi/RWO operated. He would at times tell his students to just ignore the constant criticisms attacks that they received from RW Orthodoxy. These constant attacks were on the Rav and his students way before OO existed.

      • Steve brizel says:

        You missed my point. Rybs had no self imposed hashkafic litmus test and a grandson who was a great talmid chacham and who went to Maimonides and diets married a descendant of the then editor of the Jo. Bearing grudges and revenge are issurei Torah. The war is over

        Get with the program

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Mycroft-the shidduch that I mentioned took place last fall, after the tragic Petirah of the Arbah Kedoshim of Har Nof. The JO article in question, with which I share your sentiments, took place in the spring of 1993 after the Petirah of RYBS.

        The issue is not “that at least some talmidim of the Rav gave to BMG”, but rather that RYBS himself wrote such a check and urged others to do so-regardless of how RIETS and YU were regarded in BMG, as opposed to the personal relationships that did exist between RYBS and both RAK and RSK, despite their hashkafic differences. 

      • mycroft says:

        Dr Bill wrote:

        “; anyone comparing RAL ztl (or his other SIL or son) with Rabbi Meiselman in terms of their respective abilities to reflect accurately on the Rav ztl’s hashkafa is not deserving of further response”

        Agreed-I would add to your list the Ravs daughters knew his hashkafa very well-remember Dr Atarah Twersky was head of the Maimonides school Committee for decades. Dr Tovah Lichtenstein has publicly discussed written about her father see eg her Van Leer discussion in the 10th anniversary of his ptirahs yahrzeit and her Tradition article which refers to the current RY of RIETS turning their backs on theRav.

        If one just read everything that both Rav Lichtenstein and R ITwersky wrote about the Rav one would get a very accurate viewpoint.

      • mycroft says:

        Shai Meyerson

        “More is unnecessary; anyone comparing RAL ztl (or his other SIL or son) with Rabbi Meiselman in terms of their respective abilities to reflect accurately on the Rav ztl’s hashkafa is not deserving of further response.”

        Yes, dr. bill, of course, how terribly silly of me!

        I’m just a wee bit curious to hear about the actual discrepancies…”

        An easy way is to read Prof Lawrence Kaplan on Revisionism and the Rav-it is available online. He discusses Rabbi Meiselman among others in his article.

      • Shai Meyerson says:

        I read that article years ago, and I was unimpressed. In fact, it was that article, in  part, that got me thinking that maybe, if one focuses on the statements of RYBS’s closest talmidim (and immediate family members), there aren’t such disparate views of his actual hashkafah. (If I recall correctly, that article accused R’ Aharon Soloveitchik of revisionism, too. hmm…).

      • mycroft says:

        Shai Meyerson
         

        Mycroft asked:
        How do you define ” substantial discrepancies about what the Rav stood for and what his goals were”
        For example: Rav Soloveitchik supported Mizrachi on practical rather than ideological grounds, i.e., he felt their institutions were crucial in guarding the needs of Torah observance in Eretz Yisroel, but did not believe that there is anything essentially holy about Zionism. He stated it is valuable only inasmuch as it serves Torah. He was also wary of Israeli identity replacing Jewish identity. Some might emphasize his support of Mizrachi, and others may emphasize his reservations and qualifications, but I at least have never seen a disagreement regarding his actual position on the matter.”

        I suspect that Rabbi Moshe Meiselman and Rabbi Yosef Blau have entirely different viewpoints on this issue. BTW Rabbi Blau has an important characteristic that you ignore-who knew the Rav in a halacha lemaaseh way not just from “chakirahs from shiur” Rabbi Blau went to Boston in the mid 60s and was the assistant principal of Maimonides when the Twersky children were in elementary school.

        “Who fits all 3 of your requirements?
        Well, I already mentioned two. I’m no expert on this, but I imagine his grandson R’ Meir Twersky shlit”a and R’ Hershel Shachter shlit”a qualify.”

        Rav Schachter is a world class talmid chacham. Rav Lichtenstein and Rav I Twersky were certainly close to the Rav-due to RALs aliyah probably for the last 15 years of the Ravs being communicative Rav Twersky would have been the person to know the most of halacha lemaaseh. Sadly he only survived the Rav by 4 and a half years. Rav Meir Twersky is one who if he said the Rav told him something and quotes the conversation I believe him-but one must remember Rav Meir was only a few years after graduating Harvard when the Rav stopped completely discussing Torah.

        Notice Rav Lichtenstein and both Rabbi Twersky’s had knowledge of the Rav from Boston which is crucial in understanding halacha lemaaseh what he believed in.

        “Theoretically, but I don’t know if such people really exist –”

        They do -here again age is limiting their numbers-but centered on the Ravs loyalists in Boston who may be very intelligent and religious but were not professionally Jewish ie not Rabbonim.

         

      • Shai Meyerson says:

        “I suspect that Rabbi Moshe Meiselman and Rabbi Yosef Blau have entirely different viewpoints on this issue.”

        That would be telling, since most of what I wrote is straight from the Five Addresses. But anyway, I believe that perceived discrepancies arise from what people assume – if they truly differ on this issue, let’s hear some concrete quotes!

        “BTW Rabbi Blau has an important characteristic that you ignore-who knew the Rav in a halacha lemaaseh way not just from “chakirahs from shiur””

        Yes, that is significant. And R’ Meiselman can also claim “shimush,” to an even greater degree: He grew up in Boston, is a close family member, learned bechevrusa with the Rav for years, discussed shailos he fielded with him, consulted him when writing his book Jewish Woman in Jewish law.

        “They do -here again age is limiting their numbers-but centered on the Ravs loyalists in Boston who may be very intelligent and religious but were not professionally Jewish ie not Rabbonim.”

        I hear your point, but one does not have to be a Rav to be invested in a hashkafah, which affects many areas of life.

         

         

        BTW Rabbi Blau has an important characteristic that you ignore-who knew the Rav in a halacha lemaaseh way not just from “chakirahs from shiur” Rabbi Blau went to Boston in the mid 60s and was the assistant principal of Maimonides when the Twersky children were in elementary school.

      • mycroft says:

        “BTW Rabbi Blau has an important characteristic that you ignore-who knew the Rav in a halacha lemaaseh way not just from “chakirahs from shiur””

        Yes, that is significant.” And R’ Meiselman can also claim “shimush,” to an even greater degree:”

        Why?  Rabbi Meiselman in Boston lets see went to Harvard and MIT-he is a nephew of the Rav but so is Lewis Gerber -those who were around YU in late 60s might remember him as often staying in the Ravs apartment. L Gerber BTW wrote in the Yavneh Review in the 60s.

         

        “He grew up in Boston” as was true for many people

        ,” is a close family member” there are far closer ones who do not have the same ideas as R Meiselman-and there were closer ones who published extensively about the Rav.

        ,” learned bechevrusa with the Rav for years,”

        he learnt with the Rav for years “discussed shailos he fielded with him,”

        as is true with many

        “consulted him when writing his book Jewish Woman in Jewish law”

        Others closer  to the Rav do not necessarily agree with RMM on his approach to women.

        Full disclosure I probably still a filling from close to 60 years ago in my teeth filled by by Rabbi Meiselmans father. His father was a dentist.

      • Shai Meyerson says:

        Mycroft wrote:’” is a close family member” there are far closer ones who do not have the same ideas as R Meiselman-and there were closer ones who published extensively about the Rav.’

        My point from the beginning of this exchange has been that I have not found differences in substance among people with the criteria I outlined with regards to the positions and goals of the Rav himself. I am quite aware that there is a significant range of personal views among this group (though I suspect even these are not as wide as commonly perceived). But this is different than saying that according to one, the Rav held x, and according to another the Rav held y.

        I have provided one example of what I mean; I will provide another: The Rav very much encouraged his talmidim to get a higher education- fact. The Rav did not believe that secular studies are of intrinsic importance – only to the degree that they improve one’s Torah and avodah – fact (R’ A. Lichtenstein himself stated this as his personal view; see his article in issue 1 or 2 of the Torah Umaddah journal from 25 years ago). I do not believe there is any disagreement among the group I have spoken about on this issue.

        I have yet to encounter any concrete stirah among this group in any area.

         

      • mycroft says:

        .” In fact, it was that article, in  part, that got me thinking that maybe, if one focuses on the statements of RYBS’s closest talmidim”

        How do you know who are “closest talmidim”?

        “(and immediate family members),” I believe that children are relatively consistent on his hashkafa

        “there aren’t such disparate views of his actual hashkafah. ”

        If limited to his children and son-in-laws I believe you’ll get a relative consistent hashkafa

        “(If I recall correctly, that article accused R’ Aharon Soloveitchik of revisionism, too. hmm…).”

        I limited myself to his children and sons-in-law: RAS was actually of a different generation than the Rav-14 years younger-RAS educated in America the Rav in Europe. Entirely different people

      • Shai Meyerson says:

        Mycroft said:
        [.” In fact, it was that article, in  part, that got me thinking that maybe, if one focuses on the statements of RYBS’s closest talmidim”]
        How do you know who are “closest talmidim”?
        I don’t claim to know who all of his close talmidim are, but I know who some of them are. I think we have agreed about R’ A. Lichtenstein, R’ I. Twersky and R’ Meir Twersky. I would add R’ Moshe Twersky to the list. And despite your obvious lack of enthusiasm for R’ Meiselman, it is ludicrous to say that someone who learned with the Rav bechevrusa for many years is not a close talmid. Anyway, my impression is that there are no concrete discrepancies among this group vis-a-vis the Rav himself among this group. Even if you don’t like my grouping for whatever reason, there are still no concrete discrepancies (as far as I know- I am open to genuine, clear evidence to the contrary), despite their widely divergent personal stations in the Orthodox world. This is my main point, and you have not even attempted to address it.

    • Steve brizel says:

      You should give tzedaka to those mosdos hatorah that have had the most influence on you as aniyei ircha. However taking are there not specific lavim in bearing a grudge and in taking revenge

      • joel rich says:

        however we do have the concentric circle theory of tzedaka (see r’ h schachter) which results in much more being given to institutions that one personally benefits (or has benefited) from

        kt

      • mycroft says:

        “I don’t claim to know who all of his close talmidim are, but I know who some of them are. I think we have agreed about R’ A. Lichtenstein, R’ I. Twersky and R’ Meir Twersky. I would add R’ Moshe Twersky to the list. And despite your obvious lack of enthusiasm for R’ Meiselman, it is ludicrous to say that someone who learned with the Rav bechevrusa for many years is not a close talmid.”

        I agree that both the Ravs sons-in-law are the ones with most credibility on the Rav. That does not mean to say that I don’t trust the integrity of R Meir Twersky-if he says the Rav told him X I believe him and believe that he would not distort. Note that usually Rav Meir Twersky quotes the Rav from published sources see his recent discussion on womens issues.  In addition to integrity Rav Meir is very bright and I believe  he would not state something that he does not believe is accurate. The Rav  clearly unfortunately started his decline before Rav Meir was 20 and thus Rav Meir would have absorbed much from the Rav but would not have been involved in comparatively many discussions on contentious issues-certainly compared to his father.

        Re RMM see from Prof Kaplan

        https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Lsj1Jtuph9a88sOs7l36MuXbVnOkRdf_n7MfyOMboBs/edit?hl=en_US

        and of course his seminal article from 1999.

        I will repeat my comment of before in this thread because it is relevant to my response.

        ““In any event, external factors, tragic or not, should not prevent healthy discussions”

        It has limited my response to Steve”

      • Shai Meyerson says:

        You already cited the original article, and I already noted that it does not address my point; the follow-up article also doesn’t. These articles do not cite any evidence that anyone in the Rav’s inner circle (including R’ Meiselman) disagrees regarding the Rav’s basic stance on Zionism, Torah U’maddah etc., nor do they claim to cite such evidence.

        (LK does mention that he personally has a different take than RMM on the Rav’s basic approach to Zionism, and seeks to prove that RMM overstates the case when presenting his own understanding. He does not claim to have clear evidence regarding the basic approach. He is not, and does not claim to be, an insider).

        We are now going in circles, so unless you have evidence that there are significantly different views of the Rav himself among the varied group of talmidim/family I have mentioned (if it really exists, it shouldn’t be so hard to find), I am hereby signing off.

         

      • mycroft says:

        “These articles do not cite any evidence that anyone in the Rav’s inner circle (including R’ Meiselman) disagrees regarding the Rav’s basic stance on Zionism, Torah U’maddah etc.,”

        I believe that the Rav’s  “basic stance”  on Zionism is agreed to by all-pro state but certainly not one who believes that the establishment of the State has messianic meaning. I would say the differences between RMM and the Rav are more of tone the Rav has the state as a razui RMM has it as a masui. Re Torah Umaddah-the Rav was not into slogans but certainly it is fair to say that RMM sees secular education at best for parnassah-the Rav encouraged at least some of his students to obtain Phds -one can’t imagine that for RMM.

        The Rav was interested in general knowledge eg had a decent knowledge of Quatuum Mechanics, was fluent in Latin to the extent before evaluating new encyclicals he would translate the encyclical and compare his translation to the official church translation-to look for different nuances that they might attempt to show in different locations. The Rav saw benefit in knowledge-one must always be clear that he treated Torah with absolute primacy.

        “significantly different views of the Rav himself among the varied group of talmidim/family I have mentioned”

        There are different viewpoints about the Rav-if one stays with his children and sons-in-law I don’t see significant differences-once you go beyond that one finds that. His children and sons-in-laws know/knew him best why go to others who are contentious.

        To make it clear if one looks at the lists of those who Prof Kaplan states are guilty of revisionism on the left and right of the Rav those on the left IMO do not even come close to representing the Ravs viewpoints-the revisionism on the right is much more subtle. Thus, clearly RMM is much closer in hashkafa IMO to the Rav than were Rabbis Greenberg or Hartman.

  5. Nachum says:

    In fairness, the headline about R’ Bazak could probably be better translated as “…what’s the disaster?”, which gives it a whole other flavor.

    In any event, R’ Bazak had another Facebook post some months ago (after the contretemps over Bennett’s visiting a Solomon Schechter) in which he pointed out that his wife, who is of American descent, would likely not be Jewish today- and certainly not Orthodox- had her grandparents not been committed Conservative (or Reform, I don’t recall) Jews. So what he says should be viewed through that prism as well. Obviously he thinks it’s much better she’s Orthodox. But facts are facts.

    (Full disclosure: I daven every day with R’ Bazak’s father and thus sometimes with him. He’s a fine person and a big talmid chacham. I just get suspicious when I see the word “rabbi” in a post like this.)

    In any event, this isn’t too different from what R’ Melamed writes, although I personally feel he’s being a bit too generous in his assessment of the origins of Reform. Certainly Reform kept people from assimilating entirely, although I’m not sure how intentional this was. After all, the leaders of the movement were not about to assimilate, and they didn’t keep kashrut or Shabbat either. (Non-Orthodox historians say the same, and I have the same criticism.) However, we sometimes forget (or choose to forget) that many if not most people in Europe were *not* about to stay frum, and the “other” option was outright conversion. So Reform had a tafkid. In Eastern Europe, secular Zionism had a similar role, although certainly there the intention *was* at least much more to prevent assimilation.

    Perhaps Israeli leaders are more comfortable saying these things considering how marginal non-Orthodoxy is in Israel.

    Speaking of which, few if any shuls in Israel say Birkot HaShachar aloud anyway- davening almost always starts with Rebbi Yishmael (or Mizmor Shir/Hodu). So that solves part of Yissachar Katz’s problem. 🙂 But he’s got bigger problems than that.

    Me, I’d take good treatment over women over any bracha someone would say, but that’s me.

    • joel rich says:

      From R A Lichtenstein:

      Nor do I share the glee some feel over the prospective demise of the competition…Their [the Conservative and Reform movements’] disappearance might strengthen us in some respects but would unquestionably weaken us in others…The people currently served by these movements–many of them, both presently and potentially, [are] well beyond our reach or ken…Can anyone responsibly state that it is better for a marginal Jew in Dallas or Dubuque to lose his religious identity altogether than drive to his temple [on Shabbos]? (“The State of Orthodoxy: A Symposium,” Tradition, vol. 2, no. 1 [spring, 1982]).

       

      kt

  6. Miriam Haber says:

    A question for Rabbi Gordimer- I am struggling to understand the purpose of this Weekly Digest and the guidelines employed by Rabbi Gordimer in constructing the digest.  Is any display of independent thinking suspect in your mind and eligible for inclusion/derision?  For example, the link to HaRav Amnon Bazak’s remarks regarding Reform Judaism- is there something per se suspect about his post since it “stirred much controversy” (as you put it)? 

    (Ms. Haber: Friends of mine who graduated from Rabbi Bazak’s yeshiva and made aliyah sent me that article. They were quite upset with its validation of Reform, within a context, and they told me and demonstrated that Rabbi Bazak’s remarks were indeed viewed by many as controversial. I merely relayed this factual information. The weekly digest is to bring to readers links that they may find interesting, especially since many of these links are from media and websites that often go unnoticed. -AG)

    • miriam haber says:

      As a proud mother of a graduate of the hesder program at Yeshivat Har Etzion who was fortunate enough to have HaRav Bazak one year, and of another current student in the same hesder program, I am grateful to you for providing this link, although probably not for the reason you would have assumed.  I was happy to see that independent thinking is alive and well at the yeshiva, which has a faculty representing a relatively diverse set of views but who manage to be very respectful of one another-it is part of what makes the yeshiva a unique, wonderful place. BTW, perhaps your friends who graduated the yeshiva would do well to read the words of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, zt”l, which joel rich was kind enough to quote.

      • R.B. says:

        That quote was in 1982 from HaRav Lichtenstein zt”l about the heterodox. Which the increasing further decline of these movements, I would not be so sure that the R”Y would feel that way today. Further, Israelis don’t fully understand Reform due to their inexperience with it. That may be why R’ Bazak said what he said. If you read what I linked to be below, written by a Reform clergyman in the Times of Israel, I cannot imagine why an Orthodox Jew would not be concerned about such views being promoted among Klal Yisroel.

        Also, if I may ask, would you ask R’ Gordimer about the purpose and guidelines if the Weekly Digest if it was filled with articles and opinions pieces written by Charedi extremists and showing the absurdities and outlier in the Chareidi world? I mean there is already plenty of that out there on the WWW, and if anything this Weekly Digest provides a little bit of balance, showing the other side on a website whose identity is that of a Chareidi/RWO website.

      • Aharon says:

        In 2010, Rav Lichtentein zt’l offered a similar assessment :

        And does anyone imagine that if every non-Orthodox temple were to shut down forthwith, that on the morrow the membership would flock, en masse, to the nearest shul or shtibel? If indeed temple attendance and affiliation are waning, and on the assumption that the absentees are beyond the reach of our own message, is there not, beyond competition, as much cause for dismay as for gratification? If we are concerned, as we ought to be, about the future spiritual destiny of our siblings, and if we are convinced that, in certain areas, a measure of comity could enhance it, might the option not be at least worthy of consideration?

        ….. As I have had occasion to stress in various contexts, non-Orthodox movements often provide a modicum of religious guidance, of access to Jewish knowledge and values, of spiritual direction and content. Moreover, they provide it for many beyond our own pale and reach. In such situations, the contribution to Jewish life is real and meaningful. Can anyone assert, as our critics claim we hold, that it makes no difference whether one is an atheist or a Reform Jew? Worse still, some insist upon ascribing to us a preference for the former.32 But can any responsible Orthodox Jew, genuinely and responsibly concerned about either national viability or spiritual vigor, confirm this charge? And, were he confronted with such a choice with respect to a son or a daughter, is it conceivable that he would opt for atheism?http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/749581/rabbi-dr-aharon-lichtenstein/beyond-the-pale-reflections-regarding-contemporary-relations-with-non-orthodox-jews/

        Rav Aharon continued clearly to hold this position consitently throughout his life.

      • mycroft says:

        “Rav Aharon continued clearly to hold this position consitently throughout his life”

        It is my guess that the Rav held similarly to Rav AL. For written consistency see the Ravs letter to the president of Rabbi Shubow’s synagogue explaining why he can’t accept the invitation to the dinner but read the Ravs phrase complimenting them on bringing Judaism to a  new section of Boston.

      • R.B. says:

        Okay, thank you for that quote and clarification.

        So, in that case, is R’ Bazak’s expressed view a reflection of his RAL’s view on this? If so, I would agree this shouldn’t be controversial since such a view was offered in 1982 and again offered in 2010 by his own Rebbi.

        R’ Gordimer – would you care to respond?

        (R.B.: Firstly, I noted the R Bazak piece as an outside observer, having read and heard about the controversy it elicited. The words expressed by R Bazak are obviously surprising, even if one agrees with them, as they are anything but typical. However, it was not something that I researched and developed my own take on. I merely reported something, and that was it. Secondly, I do not know the parameters of RAL’s approach and if it was the same as R Bazak. RAL was speaking about Reform in the US, where the choice is assimilation/total dropping of Jewish identity/intermarriage/etc., or being Reform (and other heterodox…). I do not know if RAL zt”l would have said the same thing for Israeli society, in which there is no such threat, and “becoming Reform” may mean something else. I just don’t know. – AG)

      • Nachum says:

        As I wrote below, R’ Bazak certainly does have an understanding of Reform in America. And in any event, he doesn’t have to: He’s dealing with the influence of Reform in Israel.

        It’s an old trick to say “He wouldn’t have said that today.” You can just as easily argue the opposite: Considering how much further assimilation has gone, perhaps the non-Orthodox movement are needed even *more* than they were in 1982. Certainly R’ Lamm has said very similar things much more recently.

        But that may not matter: R’ Gordimer’s “digests” are increasingly attacking not just OO but elements within mainstream MO he doesn’t approve of. Certainly in the last few weeks he’s linked (“without comment,” as the Jewish Observer used to say) to articles in the charedi press critical of various actions taken by YU itself.

        I was in YU at the same time as R’ Gordimer. I know full well that there was, and is, an element that thinks that large parts of YU and perfectly mainstream MO, up to and including R’ Lamm, are krum at best. I am certainly no fan of OO, but if its critics can’t restrict their fire to a more narrow focus, I’m not going to be fans of theirs either.

      • mycroft says:

        “It’s an old trick to say “He wouldn’t have said that today.” You can just as easily argue the opposite: Considering how much further assimilation has gone, perhaps the non-Orthodox movement are needed even *more* than they were in 1982”

        AGREED!!

         

      • R.B. says:

        I think patrilinear descent was a game changer. The reason is that while it may be correct to say (which I used to agree with) the non-Orthodox movements kept Jews “Jewish”, not because an increasing number of Reform and Conservative members are in fact non-Jews, it is increasingly keeping non-Jews Jewish.

        It is therefore reasonable to argue that at this point, these movements are not needed more than ever, as opposed to 40 or 50 years ago. In fact, I would argue that OO serves the purpose Conservative and Reform served decades ago.

      • mycroft says:

        Rabbi Grodimer wrote “Secondly, I do not know the parameters of RAL’s approach and if it was the same as R Bazak. RAL was speaking about Reform in the US, where the choice is assimilation/total dropping of Jewish identity/intermarriage/etc., or being Reform (and other heterodox…)”

        Assume for the second that RALs approach  in this matter was similar to the Ravs. I heard decades ago almost the same viewpoint as RAL said about Reform and Conservative from other close non living talmeidim of the Rav. The nature of passage of time has led unfortunately to what Dr Bill has written :”Sadly, those who knew the Rav intimately, are disappearing” This of course has opened even more the way for wholesale revisionism of the Rav. Revisionism started accelerating with the Ravs ptirah. It is increasing more with the disappearance of those who knew his halacha lemaaseh actions the most..

  7. tzippi says:

    I fully appreciate the discomfort many have with the bracha of shelo asani isha, and have been told that answers I find resonate are apologetics. But to trade it for a bracha on Facebook, which has been implicated in breaking up relationships, and has led to all manner of insecurity and oneupsmanship and so much more does not acquit this rabbi well. That he has so little regard for the canon of prayer, that he is so sure that his sensitivities are so superior to the great scholars of old,  that he could even make that comparison is beyond crass. (Disclosure: filter doesn’t allow me to override the  link and no time to override it now, so I’m basing this on the snip above.)

  8. Chava Rubin says:

    An important point here is that Reform Judaism should never be granted legitimacy . Things need to be labeled for what they are. A Jew who knows that he isn’t  knowledgable about Torah will be more likely to embrace Yiddishkeit, and be open to kiruv efforts to reach out to him and teach him pure unadulterated Torah,because he acutely feels his lack. However, by feeding him with false ideas, rituals etc its like feeding a person junk food and thereby causing him to refrain from eating a real, nutritious  meal, and in the long run he will be starving.

    The most important thing is for our  fellow Jews to realize what they do not know and not to fill their hearts and minds with unhealthy  junk  food   fed to them by heterodox movements.

    • mycroft says:

      The vast majority of Jews who became BT s came from backgrounds in non Orthodox movements rather than from completely unaffiliated movements-probably much more from Conservative background than Reform background. Of course, even active Reform teenagers have become BTs I am aware of a former NFTY National President who became a BT.

      “An important point here is that Reform Judaism should never be granted legitimacy . Things need to be labeled for what they are”

      They are a source of Jewish identity even if they reject Bris Sinai-they are still part of Bris Avot. Note the Rav suggested that we allow their “conversions” to use our communal mikvaot.

       

      • Robert Lebovits says:

        I disagree with your presumption that returnees more likely came back to Orthodoxy from a level of affiliation closest to Orthodoxy. In fact, I have observed precisely the opposite. Certainly within the Chabad community returnees routinely ascribe their attraction to the spiritual life they have found as owing to the stark contrast between the hollowness of their previous religious experience and the rich all-encompassing ruchnius they encounter in Chabad. I suspect the same is very much the case with those individuals who seek out a chareidi path to yiddishkeit.

        Reform and Conservative movements – in contrast to the individuals who are their members – have never and ought never be granted legitimate status as some sort of acceptable variant of authentic Judaism. While all Jews born of a Jewish mother or converted al pi halacha are part of Klal Yisroel that has nothing to do with the standing of an entity that operates outside the bounds of halacha. 

         

         

      • Shades of Gray says:

        R. Efraim Buchwald’s  view is that the Conservative movement helped kiruv. He wrote in a Fall, 2012 Klal Perspectives article that,

        “Contemporaneously with, and clearly related to, the rapid decline of the Conservative movement over the last two decades, it is my view that there has been a precipitous drop in the number of people becoming baalei teshuva in America.”

        See the article(” A New Reality: An Assessment of Contemporary Outreach”) for an exchange between him and a rosh yeshiva at a 1997 AJOP convention about this point.

      • Robert Lebovits says:

        R. Buchwald makes the connection between having some type of affiliation and the likelihood of interest in Jewish return if for no other reason than familiarity with Jewishness. I see his point clearly. That does not speak to the quality of a baal tshuva’s experience in heterodoxy, only that affiliation is key. Birthright is predicated on that concept without any specific religious character involved – as R. Buchwald also notes and supports.

        It may be true that 2o years ago more Jews used their family’s sectarian affiliation as a Jewish identifier more than any other identifier, but the individual who sought out authentic yiddishkeit was not someone who was comfortable with his Conservative/Reform way of life.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Even if someone accepts Bris Avos but rejects Bris Sinai, that renders them a person who is living a life not commanded by mitzvos and halacha.

  9. Chava Rubin says:

    An additional  point.

    Would you advise a sick person who isn’t  willing to go to  a bona  fide  medical  doctor  to instead go make an appointment  with  a  quack, since its better than  nothing??

    That would  be  the same as saying that the reform movement  is better than  nothing since there is so much assimilation  today .

    • mycroft says:

      “Would you advise a sick person who isn’t  willing to go to  a bona  fide  medical  doctor  to instead go make an appointment  with  a  quack, since its better than  nothing??

      That would  be  the same as saying that the reform movement  is better than  nothing since there is so much assimilation  today”

      Maybe the question is would you advise a sick person who won’t go to a physician to go to a Nurse Practitioner or a Physicians Assistant?

      • larry says:

        Rav Melamed in a recent column makes the following point “Reform should be regarded as a movement with Jewish membership, that engages in educational, cultural, ceremonial, and communal matters and activities, giving them a Jewish flavor, and that has a sense of responsibility and solidarity towards all Jews, including the residents of the State of Israel. Such movements have long existed in Israel and abroad. The World Maccabi movement, B’nai Brith, the Joint Distribution Committee, the Kibbutz Movement, Hashomer Hatzair, and the various Jewish youth organizations are but a few examples.  Rav Melamed concludes regarding Reform Jews that “we must find ways to express our brotherhood and our common fate and destiny.”

        Full column is available on Artuz7.

      • Robert Lebovits says:

        In deference to Rav Melamed, I don’t see how he can compare the Reform movement with any of organizations he mentions. None of them – even arguably Hashomer Hatzair – was founded and defines itself as outside the bounds of halacha. One does not have to reject Torah mi Sinai to belong to any of them; they are not antithetical to Orthodoxy. Reform is.

      • Nachum says:

        R’ Melamed does make that point at the end. He’s not saying they’re identical, and therefore treats secular Zionism somewhat differently, but says that they have a similar purpose.

      • mycroft says:

        The Rav once paskened in a case where man and woman “converted ” by a Reform conversion, married by Reform Rabbi, civil divorce that the woman could not get remarried without a get.

        From this story we learn that the Rav disagreed with RMF who held that one does not a get in a non Orthodox wedding. That alone is not so much of interest RMF was essentially a daas yachid in his opinion of the get and non Orthodox marriages. But of greater interest to Mr Lebovits point is that the Rav was worried that the gerus done by the Reform Rabbi was a kosher gerus-provided of course there was tvila for the woman and tvila and milah for the man. It is my understanding that the Rav was choshed that gerus requires a minimal kabalas hamitzvot as long as there is NO rejection of mitzvot-miksat-thus afraid that ger believed in minimal mind that was beginning the process of accepting the God of Israel and the Torah. He was choshed of a proper Beis Din because he was afraid that the Rabbis were am haretzim and thus did not know enough to be knowledgeable rejectors of Torah-in their mind they might be believing that they are part of the tradition. Of note is a related matter the Rav was in favor of letting non Orthodox conversions use communal mikvaot.

      • mycroft says:

        he following shows a different approach of some including Rabbi Lamm to Reform Judaism than Robert Lebovits

        from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conversion_to_Judaism

        “In the 1980s Orthodox Rabbi Norman Lamm, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva University, along with other American and Israeli Orthodox rabbis, worked with Conservative and Reform rabbis to come up with solution to the “Who is a Jew?” issue. In 1989 and 1990 Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir spearheaded an effort to create a solution to the “Who is a Jew?” issue.[citation needed]

        A plan was developed by Israeli Cabinet Secretary Elyakim Rubenstein, who negotiated secretly for many months with rabbis from Conservative, Reform and Orthodox Judaism, including faculty at Yeshiva University, with Lamm as Rosh Yeshiva. They were planning to create a joint panel that interviewed people who were converting to Judaism and considering making aliyah (moving to the State of Israel), and would refer them to a beth din that would convert the candidate following traditional halakha. All negotiating parties came to agreement:[citation needed]

        Conversions must be carried out according to halakha
        the beth din (rabbinic court) overseeing the conversion would be Orthodox, perhaps appointed by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, and
        there would be three-way dialogue throughout the process.

        Many Reform rabbis took offense at the notion that the beth din must be strictly halakhic and Orthodox, but they acquiesced. However, when word about this project became public, a number of leading haredi rabbis issued a statement denouncing the project, condemning it as a “travesty of halakha”. Rabbi Moshe Sherer, Chairman of Agudath Israel World Organization, stated that “Yes we played a role in putting an end to that farce, and I’m proud we did”. Norman Lamm condemned this interference by Sherer, stating that this was “the most damaging thing that he [Sherer] ever did in his forty year career”.[40]

        Rabbi Lamm wanted this to be only the beginning of a solution to Jewish disunity. He stated that had this unified conversion plan not been destroyed, he wanted to extend this program to the area of halakhic Jewish divorces, thus ending the problem of mamzerut.[40]
        1997: Neeman Commission proposal
        In 1997 the issue of “Who is a Jew?” again arose in the State of Israel, and Orthodox leaders such as Rabbi Norman Lamm publicly backed the Neeman commission, a group of Orthodox, Conservative and Reform rabbis working to develop joint programs for conversion to Judaism. In 1997 Lamm gave a speech at the World Council of Orthodox Leadership, in Glen Springs, N.Y., urging Orthodox Jews to support this effort.

        Lamm told his listeners that they should value and encourage the efforts of non-Orthodox leaders to more seriously integrate traditional Jewish practices into the lives of their followers. They should welcome the creation of Reform and Conservative day schools and not see them as a threat to their own, Lamm said. In many communities, Orthodox day schools, or Orthodox-oriented community day schools, have large numbers of students from non-Orthodox families. The liberal movements should be appreciated and encouraged because they are doing something Jewish, even if it is not the way that Orthodox Jews would like them to, he said. “What they are doing is something, and something is better than nothing,” he said in his speech. “I’m very openly attacking the notion that we sometimes find in the Orthodox community that ‘being a goy is better'” than being a non-Orthodox Jew, he said in an interview”

      • Robert Lebovits says:

        Mycroft: “The Rav once paskened in a case where man and woman “converted ” by a Reform conversion, married by Reform Rabbi, civil divorce that the woman could not get remarried without a get.”

        In my years of yeshiva learning I had the blessed fortune to study with a number of great rebbeim and roshei yeshiva, though never the Rav. I did not know him personally and accept for the fact that a cousin was a very close friend of one of his daughters, all my experience of him was from limited writings, tapes of shurim or compilations I read and heard from others. From all the comments that have been posted it’s clear that stories are legion and portray a very multi-dimensional personality who related to others b’makom sh’hayu – “in the place they were at”. Many of his talmidim and offspring identify their experiences and the mentoring they received from him as the true measure of the Rav’s views on any number of issues, and attempt to extrapolate what he might say or promote with a particular subject today. I don’t believe there is another gadol of the past generation(s) who so many divergent adherents claim to “own”.

        The problem with that phenomenon is the relative dearth of definitive material the Rav himself left us as that was meant to be his legacy and from which we could all clearly determine what he held and where he stood. Consequently I believe it is simply impossible for anyone who was not a talmid or did not have some personal encounters with the Rav to credit any anecdotal material as indicating one position or another.

        What you write about the Rav’s psak regarding the need for divorce of a woman married by a Reform rabbi and the implication for geirus – like so many other narratives reporting some statement he made or action he took – is unhelpful and problematic in the absence of a citation where the Rav wrote the tshuva so we can all examine the circumstances of the scenario and the reasoning he gave. Without that avenue it is simply moot speculation and can’t be a basis for presenting the Rav’s views on anything. I believe this is true for all the opinion’s offered in his name on this website.

        We would have benefited enormously had the Rav provided us with more of his own works; there would be less ambiguity and contention over so many issues. But he did not and that limits the degree to which anyone can presume to speak for him.

         

      • dr. bill says:

        Robert Lebovits, Indeed had the Rav ztl published volumes of teshuvot publicly, there would have been less controversy over his views.  The fact that he is “claimed” by so broad a swath of orthodoxy speaks to his tolerance.  But as RAL ztl warned explicitly, bezeh halashon ” don’t mistake tolerance for a lack of principle.”  But have no fear, historians in a few decades will organize his written letters and recorded lectures and paint a more precise picture, much like Prof. Schapiro did for RYYW ztl.  With the passing of both his sons-in-laws, i tend to trust mostly his children for insight.  Fortunately, I have a long-standing relationship with one individual who had the Rav’s confidence and trust; the Rav sent him to speak on his behalf, representing him in various private forums, something of which few are even aware.

        His son and sons in law and others who combined both Torah and chokhmah, particularly in philosophy and history, are the first to admit, they cannot explain all of his positions.  Those who speak categorically always make me suspicious, most often rather doubtful and almost always wanting more information on the complete context.

        Let me tell you one story covering an event I witnessed.  A distinguished talmid asked the Rav a question.  The Rav’s answer would nominally imply a certain conclusion.  When asked if that conclusion can be assumed, the Rav responded, of course not.  If such and such results, you will come back and ask me a follow-up sheailah.  (I deleted some derogatory language the Rav used to punctuate his displeasure with one making what many would view as a natural assumption.)  I later asked RAL ztl about the event and he told me what he ASSUMED the Rav was thinking.

      • R.B. says:

        No, you mean advise them to go to Dr. Kevorkian. 🙂

      • mycroft says:

        “His son and sons in law and others who combined both Torah and chokhmah, particularly in philosophy and history, are the first to admit, they cannot explain all of his positions.  Those who speak categorically always make me suspicious,”

        Agreed-I once was speaking to someone who was reasonably close to the Rav and asked him what he thought the Rav would have thought about the Neeman Commission suggestions-his answer was he didn’t know-he gave me reasons why the Rav would have been in favor and reasons why the Rav would have been against-he stated he was curious what RAL would think about this issue-a few weeks later RAL wrote a letter to the Jewish Press with a very nuanced pluses and minuses-they happened to be the same that this other person thought would be different ways weighing on the Ravs decision.

        “With the passing of both his sons-in-laws, i tend to trust mostly his children for insight.”

        It is my impression that his daughters have similar viewpoints on the Rav. Dr Tovah Lichtenstein has written on the Rav and I have quoted her published articles in the past.

      • mycroft says:

        “Robert Lebovits, Indeed had the Rav ztl published volumes of teshuvot publicly, there would have been less controversy over his views”

        I doubt it-RSRH wrote a lot and yet there is “controversy” were his words only a “horaas shaah.” I have heard the same claim about the Rav.

        IMO Washington Heights alone on both Bennett Ave and Amsterdam Ave is a world wide center for Revisionism of gedolim.

      • mycroft says:

        “What you write about the Rav’s psak regarding the need for divorce of a woman married by a Reform rabbi and the implication for geirus – like so many other narratives reporting some statement he made or action he took – is unhelpful and problematic in the absence of a citation where the Rav wrote the tshuva so we can all examine the circumstances of the scenario and the reasoning he gave.”

        The use of that psak is interesting-I have heard that  when RIETS RY have to deal with a gerus-usually a son of women who was converted by a Conservative Rabbi they do not say the bracha om the gerus to be choshed to  the Ravs position that the original heterodox gerus was kosher-yet it is my impression that the more important aspect lemaaseh is not taught about the Rav demanding a get before a woman could get  remarried if original marriage performed by heterodox clergy. It is not because the story is not trusted they don’t saya bracha based on that story-it is IMO  what they choose to take from the story.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        If, as you stated, noone in RYBS’s family can explain all of his positions, then the case for the carefully edited release of RYBS’s full corpus , halachic and hashkafic, becomes more compelling.  You may call it revisionism-but that is what happens to the writings and positions of every talmid chacham-they are subjected to the analysis, explanation and even revised interpretation of the next generation-take a look at any Blatt Gemara where the Baalei HaTosfos comment on the words of Rashi.

      • mycroft says:

        “But have no fear, historians in a few decades will organize his written letters and recorded lectures and paint a more precise picture, much like Prof. Schapiro did for RYYW ztl.”

        I take a contrary minority viewpoint which I believe is similar to what Dr Atarah Twersky was quoted when there was a family dispute about much of the Ravs lectures etc were stored in a basement and got ruined by a flooded toilet. To the best of my recollection she was quoted that she wished it didn’t happen but it is not so crucial the Rav published what he wished to be published. It is well known that even the articles that the Rav published he would make changes in the various, drafts, galleys etc right until publication.

        To me the major issue is the dispute essentially between many RY and everyone else did the Rav intend that his ideas were a general idea for all time or was it a horaas shaah. The same approach is also used by many on the left Which of course horaas shaah is a convenient way or limiting the Rav to the facts of the case in a limited way-similar to the way theSC does when it overturns precedent they will at times be cute and pretend not to overturn but limit to its facts. The Rav had a big public record but many are not interested in checking it out-an example-the Rav was opposed to theological dialogue with non Jews but not opposed to others dialogue. What is theological dialogue-there is at least a  20 year history of what the Rav permitted and did not permit in this area and yet today the starting point by many who claim to follow the Rav is to start arguing what the terms mean wo considering how he himself permitted or did not permit activities.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        http://www.torahweb.org/torah/2016/parsha/rsch_vayikra.html  the question remains-would RYBS have approved of women studying Talmud today in a manner where one can argue that many of the programs sponsoring the same are basically breeding grounds for LW MO feminists? Can you point to one public address beyond the one shiur at SCW where RYBS viewed high level study of Talmud by women as a desirable idea whose time had arrived?

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Mycroft-in your discussion of the  views of RYBS and RMF as to whether there a get was required ” in a case where man and woman “converted ” by a Reform conversion, married by Reform Rabbi, civil divorce that the woman could not get remarried without a get, with RYBS insisting upon a Get and RMF insisting that no Get was necessary- it should also be noted that RYBS was following the view of Rav Henkin ZL as well, with whom RMF dissagreed with on this issue. The real issue is whether any so-called “religious acts’ by a Reform clergy person then and even more so in 2016, as opposed to whenever RYBS rendered that Psak, which I suspect was when someone like R rabbi S Freehoff or R R Eugene Borowitz was alive , especially given the absolute lack of any compliance with halacha , and a wholesale retreat even from Bris Avos by the Reform rabbinate, have any halachic consequences in the absences of kosher edim and other halachic requirements. One can argue very cogently that such acts lack any halachic consequences whatsoever and that the wife in such circumstances was and remained a Gentile, regardless of what she was told at the time of her “conversion” and “marriage”. The bottom line is that RMF’s psak has been relied upon LMaaseh , especiallly with many BTs whose parents were married, divorced and/or converted under such circumstances,

      • mycroft says:

        “with RYBS insisting upon a Get and RMF insisting that no Get was necessary- it should also be noted that RYBS was following the view of Rav Henkin ZL as well, with whom RMF dissagreed with on this issue.”

        The Rav as far as the marriage performed by non Orthodox clergy would require a get certainly is following the same opinion as Rav Henkin and not RMF. A couple of decades ago I told this story to a BMG musmach from the 60s-he told me that RAK, and RY Kamenetzky, and Rav Hutner also disagreed with RMFs heter. I have much more knowledge about the Rav’s psak-what is unique about the Ravs psak that we only reach the get issue of a marriage done by heterodox clergy if we are choshed that the gerus is kosher. Of current interest I have been informed  that apparently RIETS RY if there is a gerus required of someone where the original gerus was done by non Orthodox clergy they will do it again wo a bracha. I have been informed that the story I told is the  reason why they are choshed and thus safek brachas lehakhel no bracha.

        “The real issue is whether any so-called “religious acts’ by a Reform clergy person then and even more so in 2016, as opposed to whenever RYBS rendered that Psak, which I suspect was when someone like R rabbi S Freehoff or R R Eugene Borowitz was alive , especially given the absolute lack of any compliance with halacha , and a wholesale retreat even from Bris Avos by the Reform rabbinate, have any halachic consequences in the absences of kosher edim and other halachic requirements.”

        It is my understanding that the Rav was choshed that the Reform Rabbis were  am haaratzim not understanding rejectors-thus probably a bigger problem back then than now when a lot of heterodox clergy don’t know in learning that we care about what a fourth grade day school student knows. If they weren’t conscious and knowledgeable about the rejection that was the gerus chashad.

        “The bottom line is that RMF’s psak has been relied upon LMaaseh , especiallly with many BTs whose parents were married, divorced and/or converted under such circumstances,”

        The question is why RMFs psak has been relied upon-why people are not even aware that he was a daas yachid in America taking that position-especially in a matter of ishut where historically we  have been very careful. The fact that it is convenient should not be the issue-I don’t pasken but note no one is mtaher mamzerim if any posek is wrong one is left with an eshet ish and mamzerut. It is simply a matter of what risk one is willing to take to cause an eshet ish or mamzer.

  10. mendel ( boger of Gush-- something I loathe to admit) says:

    As to R. Bazak’s article regarding Reform Judaism, one must view this within the context of many other controversial (and I believe heretical) articles written by him. Just read his Facebook page (where he seems to spend an inordinate amount of time). The rabbi constantly aligns himself with factions that are antithetical to Judaism. His vituperative  style is full of venom directed at Torah observant Jews. He only shows compassion to those who oppose halachic Judaism. Quoting Rav L. as supporting Reform Judaism only makes one question the perspective and education that Gush promotes. It is pointless to debate what Rav S. felt, as he is no longer with us and we cannot ask him. What is more important to ask is whether Yeshivat Har Etzion is honestly adhering to the traditional Torah legacy. Many who have come out of the yeshiva have fallen into the abyss of heresy. Parents should think twice about the Torah education and sense of Yirat Shamayim that their sons will be exposed to there. The onus is on Gush to prove that it is still relevant to the perpetuation of Mesorat Yisrael.

    • mycroft says:

      “The rabbi constantly aligns himself with factions that are antithetical to Judaism. His vituperative  style is full of venom directed at Torah observant Jews. He only shows compassion to those who oppose halachic Judaism.”

      I know nothing about R Bazak-but this language about anyone is not IMO similar to ANY language I have seen on Cross Currents about anyone.

      “It is pointless to debate what Rav S. felt, as he is no longer with us and we cannot ask him”

      Are you taking the position that we should not care about what anyone would have thought about our actions if they are not with us. If so, how do you learn and behave on daily basis the vast majority of material that I learn was written/said by people in Yeshiva shel maalah

    • dr. bill says:

      Gush takes bright students from more left wing MO schools to a greater extent than other tier 1 yeshivot.  However, their “off-the-derech” percentage is still significantly better than Slabodka.  Sadly, I know a fair number who are no longer orthodox, though all maintain strong ties to the Jewish community.  I know very few Gush alumni who are not more open – minded than most of the contemporaries.  The intellectual environment produces that and those of who prefer not to have our children “flip-out” consciously choose that.  BH, my children are “frummer” than me and much the better for having attended such yeshivot; their learning development is a life-long legacy.

    • Nachum says:

      This comment is really, really out of line. R’ Bazak is a respected Rosh Yeshiva in one of Israel’s major, most esteemed yeshivot. His writings appear in a diverse range of publications. (Your snide comments about Facebook are *really* uncalled for- he writes a dvar torah every week and perhaps one other post weekly. Of course, to know how “inordinate” his activity is would require you to, um, spend a similar amount of time on Facebook.)

      Rav Lichtenstein somehow doesn’t merit having his name spelled out by you- or is that an attempt by you to disguise the fact that you decided to mow down a gadol hador in your onslaught?

      Again,  very distasteful post by someone with an axe to grind.

  11. Y. Ben-David says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with Rav Bazak’s viewpoint. In Europe, the non-Jews locked the Jews into their Jewish identity by refusing to insist the Jews were aliens (thus, the bizarre claim by Bernie Sanders that his parents were “Polish immigrants”…no Pole would have viewed them as ‘fellow Poles’ which no doubt contributed to their decision to leave Poland).  Thus, the only remaining question for the Jew was as to how they would reflect their Jewish identity…as a traditional religious Jew or by way of some other more modern form of it…Reform, Bundist/Jewish socialist, Communist, religious or secular Zionist, cultural/religious Wissenschaft, etc.

    Today the situation is totally different….be Jewish or assimilate/intermarry and vanish forever from the Jewish landscape. Thus, Reform, for all its errors is a way for a Jew to maintain some sort of tie to the Jewish people.

    In Israel there is NO danger of them getting a foothold so their is no problem of them “luring” otherwise pious Jews out of traditional observance into their modern distortion of it. I keep telling non-O Jews that it is a myth that the leaders keep propagating that the reason R and C have not been recognized in Israel is that “coalition politics” in the government prevent them from receiving recognition, or, alternately, that the O’s have a lock on the official state Chief Rabbinate. The REAL reason for O dominance is due to the hundreds of thousands of “lay” or volunteer O Jews who maintain their thousands of synagogues with daily tefillot and shiurim which are all well attended and which are voluntarily supported financially by these “simple” Jews. On the other hand, I live a few meters from the one and only C congregation in my suburb of Tel Aviv. They only have tefillot on Shabbat…there is no daily minyan. This, in a movement that decades ago decided the women count in a minyan.  We keep hearing about all these highly religious motivated non-O women who want to pray with a minyan, wear tallit and tefillin and read from the Torah..   Well, they are nowhere to be found in my town’s C congregation.  Just like in the US, most non-O Jews are apathetic. This is the real reason they have no real presence on the ground in Israel and that is why they are NOT a danger.
    Therefore, I would strongly urge toning down the O-campaign against them because they are ultimately not a threat and it is counterproductive to make insulting comments against rank-and-file non-O Jews who sincerely want to identify with Israel and the Jewish people and many of whom would no doubt be receptive to the truth of the Torah if it were presented to them in an intelligent way and the principle of “Derachecha Darcei Noam”.

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