On the Hundredth Yahrtzeit of Reb Chaim Brisker- From Rebbe to Talmid: Intellect and Ayin Tova.

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27 Responses

  1. mycroft says:

    The Soloveitchik Heritage A Daughter’s Memoir by Shulamith Soloveitchik Meiselman discusses Rav Chaim Brisker. The Chapter 1918 discusses how his son Rav Moshe found out about ptirah. Only 100 years -so different in time. Book very worthwhile to understand a noted family.

  2. Joel Rich says:

    Look at R’ Chaim’s grave stone-it says it all iirc it is simply engraved with the words “Rav Chesed”

    Joel Rich

    • mycroft says:

      For some of R Chaims complexity as as person read Shulamith Meiselmans book,not in the Art Scroll genre

  3. dr. bill says:

    very inspiring essay, though a bit biased omitting the larger legacy of Rav Chaim in the Charedi world

    the story around which multiple urban legends exist is the Rav ztl’s visit, together rav teitz ztl, to rav malkiel, who rose from his chair, as is only permitted to an avel greeting a gadol be’israel. the three then discussed why aveilut for a child, is only 30 days and only a parent warrants a year of aveilut. i believe the terutzim are recorded in a shiur by rav Blau who drove his FIL and the Rav to Lakewood.

    the more astounding story took place weeks earlier in Boston where Rav Schneur ztl went for specialized cancer treatment. as the Rav left his room, a visitor asked a young resident who that was? his response was that it is dr. Soloveichik who is consulting on his therapy.

  4. Reuven Ungar says:

    Mycroft and Mr. Rich thanks so much for the references. Dr. Bill- you are correct- that is an astounding story from the hospital, I’m very grateful to you for sharing that inspiring story.
    Yes- a comprehnsive history of Reb Chaim’s larger legacy on the Chareidi and non- Chareidi world- would be well received. The material concerning Rav Rozovsky ztl was taken from a large bioigraphy on him authored by a grandson which was published recently. That volume includes a beautiful photograph of Rav Lifshtiz ztl sitting next to Rav Rozovsky at the wedding of the latter’s only son.
    I have seen in print (in that volume and elsewhere) and heard verbal accounts of meetings between Rav Soloveitchik ztl and Rav Rozovsky when the latter was in the US for medical treatments. The mutual admiration was profound.

  5. mycroft says:

    “On a hot summer night in 1982 a young man sat shiva for his father. Despite frail health, the Rov insisted on paying a shiva call, embarking on a lengthy drive. Upon entering the shiva home, the Rov approached the young man (nearly 50 years his junior) and told him “I was a friend of your grandfather, a friend of your father, and I would like to become your friend as well”
    however, the Ravs generosity to those who he had hashkafic differences was not reciprocated see eg from http://mschick.blogspot.com/2012/04/remembrances-and-reflections-viii-rav.html
    “What is evident is that he had enormous respect for Rav Aharon. He came to the funeral at the Pike Street Synagogue, apparently with a hesped written out, but sadly and mistakenly, he was not given the opportunity to speak. When Rav Soloveitchik passed away, Lakewood was not represented at the funeral in Boston

  6. Reuven Ungar says:

    Many talented talmidim- first and second generation- of Rav Solveitchik ztl are speading his Torah orally, in print- and online. Perhaps the acceptance of the Torah of the Rov will lead to a gradual recognition and appreciation of the great gaon himself.
    In Rav Sabato’s volume there is a remarkable observation of Rav Lichtenstein ztl concerning the zechut of Rav Reuven Grozovsky ztl. The RY of Torah Vodaas and Beth Medras Elyon displayed respect for the Rov in the midst of a Machloket LeShem Shamayim. Thus Rav Grozovsky merited that a descendant of his married a grandson of the Rov.

    • mycroft says:

      “Many talented talmidim- first and second generation- of Rav Solveitchik ztl are speading his Torah orally, in print- and online.”
      Assuming arguendo the Torah is being reported accurately and completely.

      ” Perhaps the acceptance of the Torah of the Rov will lead to a gradual recognition and appreciation of the great gaon himself.”
      I’ll believe it when people start accepting the legitimacy of his positions that he followed during his lifetime, not the Revisionism of those on left and right trying to make the Rav like they would have liked him to be.
      “Thus Rav Grozovsky merited that a descendant of his married a grandson of the Rov.”
      Who grandchildren marry does not reflect one way or the other on the Rav would you say Rav was a great admirer of chazzanus because his granddaughter married a descendant of Yosselle Rosenblatt?

  7. Steve Brizel says:

    Excellent aeticle a d recollections by all. Perhaps durung Sefirah we should e asking ourselves what is more important-the learning and dissemination of RYBSs Torah or seeking revenge for the terrible slights of the past and asking ourselves what do we think that RYBS would have preferred.

    • mycroft says:

      “RYBS would have preferred”
      He would have preferred that his views be transmitted accurately,not distorted by those on the right or the left.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Dint tbink that RYBS would have been imtetested in revenge but rather thevaccurate dissemination of his Chiddushim Psakim and Hanhagos.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        The OU in its day of learning at Citifield is having shiurim on thevlegacy of RYBS by RHS R M Willig R,Y Sacks and R Genack IIRC. And many other fine spealers on a wide variety of topics. Lookinf forward it.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        I emphasized the importance of the learning and dissemination of the Torah of RYBS. That remains the key as opposed to seeking revenge for the terrible slights of the past.

  8. Reuven Ungar says:

    Taking a stab of guarded optimisim- with the proliferation of the Torah of the Rov ztl in many spheres- oral, print and online- some will come to accept & properly respect the great gaon and not only his Torah.
    Some not all. Each person can decide which path to follow. May we take the higher road.

  9. Shades of Gray says:

    “I was a friend of your grandfather, a friend of your father, and I would like to become your friend as well”

    I wanted to reference Dr. Schick’s 2012 article since he witnessed this exchange, but Mycroft beat me to it. Dr. Schick wrote about the shivah visit in an earlier  2005 post, linked below, and also added the following about RYBS’S funeral, which he alluded to in the  2012 article as well(“although I suggested that the Yeshiva be represented”):

    “When Rav Soloveitchik died, I called Rav Malkiel Kotler and asked that he go to the funeral in Boston as an expression of hakoras hatov. He responded that I was right that he should go and then told me why he could not do so.”


    “Rav Aharon Lichtenstein experienced a childhood that included sledding in Baltimore”

    In fact, his partner was Rav Aharon Feldman. In the Spring, 2010 Jewish Action(“Hands Across the Ocean: A Review of Rabbi Aharon Feldman’s The Eye of the Storm”), R. Lichtenstein wrote to R. Feldman,” Must the walls that separate our communities and our institutions soar quite so high, the interposing moat plunge quite so deep? Shall we never sled again?”

    R. Feldman wrote in response in the Summer, 2010 Jewish Action,( “Dear Reb Aharon”), ” I enthusiastically accept your invitation to go sledding, or at least meet together, once again. You deplore the fact that a wall separates us, which does not make this possible. I think you are being overly pessimistic.”

    • lacosta says:

      these stories illustrate the haredi attitude, that in the end , all others must lower the moat and join the One True Derech….

      • Except that the author is not haredi.

        • dr. bill says:

          shalavim is an interesting place that defies characterization, a very good thing. i have a grandson attending and my great-niece , a migdal oz feminist, just married a young man from shalavim, a mixed marriage of sorts.

          rabbi adlerstein is very accurate; a yeshiva whose RY wears a kippah serugah is not quite chareidi.

  10. dr. bill says:

    with all this urban legend on what the rav ztl said about rak ztl at the CA dinner, their relationship was not straightforward as reliable witnesses report. the Rav consulted with rak before permitting escapees from Cuba to travel on Shabbat; he also spoke rather aggressively when rak initially opposed his position relative to the use of a device to flip an animal for shechitah.

    as to the dinner speech, (let’s) go to the video tape and the Yiddish notes for the speech in the book of the rav’s Yiddish derashot; they are consistent. anyone who knows anything about the Rav would be rather skeptical of the urban legend.

    despite all the feel-good sledding vocabulary, one cannot discount the rather sharply worded critique of rabbi feldman’s rhetoric about feminism and zionism. personally, RAL ztl’s reference to zemanim sent me and i suspect all but the most literate searching for a definition for his remarkably precise words.

  11. Reuven Ungar says:

    Lacosta you are invited to join us in our yishuv on Yom Ha’Atzmaut next week. Feel free to learn with me the One True Derech in the form of Reshimot Shiurim and Kedushat Aviv. I would gladly lend you Mrs. Hila Volberstein’s new volume HaRav HaNazir- but I have lent it out. So here is something to share from the book: Upon the arrival in Jerudalem of Rav Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik ztl with his surviving children, the leadership of Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav as one went to comfort and welcome them. The delegation included Rav Zvi Yehuda Kook, Rav Yaakov Moshe Charlap, Rav Yitzchak Arieli, the Nazir and his son Rav Sha’er Yashuv- zecher tzaddikim levracha. Rav Charlop and the Griz both managed to say a few words- – then they cried. As the author wrote neither side changed their views- but the hearts connected. One can have convictions and still treat others with respect & dignity.
    I really have no clue how the stories conveyed above indicate lowering the moat…that certainly wasn’t my intention.

  12. mycroft says:

    “their relationship was not straightforward as reliable witnesses report.”
    The Ravs relationship with Chareidi world was complex. A simple example recently I saw some 1952 Torah Umesorah stationary-the Rabbinic advisory board had RMF R Kotler,Rav Lessen,Rav Lifschitz, R Mendel Zacks even Rabbi Jung and Goldstein but no RYBS.
    The Rav would at times tell students don’t pay attention to the attacks on them,the attackers don’t know as much as them and they are just jealous.
    Had the JO published an article about the Rav 25 years before their obituary,it would have reflected reality,the Agudah and Rav were in different machenes. What was inappropriate is making the article as an obituary.Acharei mos kedoshim emor.
    It was a complex relationship. Distortions of mesorah are devastating to us, we rely on mesorah for what we do. Distortions on any side are fatal for integrity of our Yahadus

  13. MK says:

    Twenty years ago, Rabbi Shlomo Berman, the son-in-law of the Steipler and then a rosh yeshivah in the Ponevez Yeshivah, suggested to Julius Berman (then the president of the Orthodox Union) that if the Union wanted to do something significant for Orthodoxy, it should arrange a Yom Iyun with shiurim delivered by roshei yeshivah identified with different groups within Orthodoxy, such as Agudas Yisrael and Mizrachi, lead by Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky and Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik. When asked what would be the purpose of such a program, Rav Berman responded, “Tzu lernen der ‘olam az Torah iz umparteyish; es balangt nit nor tzu di Mizrachi uder di Agudah, nit nor tzu Chassidim uder Misnagdim; es balangt tzu Klal Yisrael.” (“To teach the community that Torah is non-partisan; it belongs not only to Mizrachi or to Agudah, not only to Chassidim or to Misnagdim; it belongs to Klal Yisrael.”

  14. lacosta says:

    the sad reality is that there are pipe dreams of achdus that are just slogans that just can’t happen –yes there are always exceptions , but the public tenor must be different because a major component of frumkeit is havdala– this is treif , this is tameh. this is not unique to haredi sector [after all MO has to decide whether they will kasher OO , making the entity of MO meaningless] , but since it defines itself as the True successor to Derech Yisroel Sava, it has to manifest most strongly there. the idea of Aguda achas is a pipe dream–since large sectors such as MO ,Satmar , chabad etc can be somewhat defined as frum jews who either don’t want to be in that tent, or whose modus operandi is incompatible with it. Chabad advertises for Lag B’Omer ‘unity events’ — but essentially no non-chabad entities /institutions participate. Everyone needs to pretend that they are in favor of unity and that it has to happen , but the reality is that it is currently unrealistic [as it has been for at least the last 2000 yrs…]

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Therecare wondeful Talmidei Chachamim.whose shiurim.and sefarim.are replete with references from the Torah of .Satmar to RYBS.. that is true achdus and pluralism in practice.

    • Shades of Gray says:

      When discussing the benefits of  interfaith dialogue at YU, R. Jonathan Sacks distinguished, based on the typology of RYBS in Lonely Man of Faith,  between high-level, “face to face”, versus “side to side” joint interaction on social issues, the latter which he says works better (“YU and the World of Tomorrow: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks Interviewed by Rabbi Ari Lamm, 38:00 in lecture).  While obviously  not the same,  one doesn’t need “official”, high-level, public dialogue within Orthodox groups for achdus; interested parties within Orthodoxy already have joint speaking programs, unite on social issues “side to side” in R. Sacks’ terminology, or give financial aid throughout the spectrum(the last example of achdus I read in a  Yated article).

      Also,  note this example on the blurring of lines from an article by  R. Yehuda Turetsky and Prof. Chaim Waxman( “Sliding to the Left? Contemporary American Modern Orthodoxy”, Modern Judaism, 2011):

      “Another respondent went even further to suggest that, in the U.S.,the lines between Haredi and Modern Orthodoxy have become blurred:

      My younger brother davens [prays] in a shteibel [makeshift synagogue]in Flatbush where virtually everyone has a college degree,works, is very Zionist – but they wear black hats. (By the way most of their children are in Lakewood [The largest and most prestigious yeshiva in the American Haredi community]). What are they??”

  15. Steve Brizel says:

    For those interested, please see the annexed schedule.//www.ou.org/torahny/schedule/

  16. Reuven Ungar says:

    Mycroft- it’s hard to fathom a Beit Midrash without the works of the Rambam and the Ramchal- yet they both faced strident oppositoin. Time can- and will – tell. Even nowadays there is recognition- I recall davening ma’ariv one night in Kiryat Sefer (which is not bursting with YU alumni) and noticing a volume of Reshimot Shiurim prominently displayed with other sefarim.

    “Thus Rav Grozovsky merited that a descendant of his married a grandson of the Rov.”
    Who grandchildren marry does not reflect one way or the other on the Rav…”= the observation of Rav Lichtenstein ztl was referring to Rav Grozovsky ztl. Despite his maintaining a different view than Rav Soloveitchik ztl nevertheless Rav Grozovsky demonstrated kavod to the Rov…and what happened years later happened…Adherence to Kavod HaTorah has good consequences.

    Mr. Brizel- totally agree. Within the 4 amot of halacha and 13 ikarim of the Rambam there is space for different approaches in learning. Besides the inherent value of taking the high road of Kavod HaTorah even when in disagreement, being receptive to valid alternative approaches enriches one’s own Torah learning & understanding. Achdut does not translate into absolute uniformity.

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