Why I Am Not Yanky Kanievsky

Silly, you say. I’m not Yanky because my grandfather is not R. Chaim, shlit”a.

You’re showing your age. Today, you can be whatever you want, just by identifying. If I wanted to, I should be able to be another Yanky simply by declaring that I hereby so identify.

But I have no such leanings or preferences, especially after reading what Yanky thinks about…identifying!

Perhaps as the election draws closer, the claims grow more bizarre. Or maybe they give us a clearer picture of what various spokespeople believe. A few days ago, Yanky made an important statement about what casting a ballot means. He was reacting to projections that some haredim are unhappy enough with their party that it is likely that they will not vote according to the directives in the community. (It is in Hebrew. If that is an issue, just paste it into Google Translate, and you’ll be fine.) Voting, he insisted, is an expression of essential identity. You state thereby who you are, and who you are not. Voting is not an exercise in determining the suitability of the various people vying for Knesset seats. It is not an evaluation of their performance, or a vision of how you would like to see different ministries perform their duties. No. Voting is a statement of your most essential identity. If you won’t vote Gimmel, you are not haredi. You are something other. Your otherness will be noted by your children, whom you will impress with your wishy-washy, incomplete devotion to true Torah values, and they, too, will be incomplete Jews. No other consideration matters at a moment of truth like next Tuesday.

If none of the above disturbs you, have a nice day. If it does, you probably have been insufficiently detoxified from your American/British/Western values. We might want to debate the contention that voting in a national election is first and foremost an expression of essential identity. But I think there is something more important here, and I’ll articulate it only to shore up some flagging spirits in readers who might get intimidated by the electioneering.

Identity is extremely important – and also multi-faceted. If you can sandwich in all of its elements in a group affiliation, you are ignoring much of your essential self. Identity is personal, and cannot be replaced by group-think. It has many different components, not all of which will necessarily be served well by a single label or party. While I do regard myself as haredi (at least in the American iteration thereof), it is not the only way I identify. Parts of my identity have to do with myself as a spouse; as a parent; as a grandparent; a friend; a member of a local community; a citizen of a wonderful country responsible to all of my fellow citizens; as a meeting point of cultural influences from different sides of my family; as a product of my times; as (I hope) a thinking, moral individual; as a fellow-traveler with all other human beings created in Hashem’s image.

Our self-identification, I would think, should have less to do with a party platform, and more to do with particular planks of that platform. We should be able to buy into the full commitment to Torah learning, to avodas Hashem without compromise, to halachic detail that are the real core of haredi life, without buying into many other things. We should not have to say we support what we cannot; we should not have to defend the actions of people we loathe to defend, just because they are on the same “team.” If we are forced into accepting more than is useful for out spiritual growth because we’ll allow someone else to dictate the terms for our membership in the club, we’ve probably over-identified. That’s not healthy – at least for some of us. (I’m reminded of a piece I wrote years ago that still rings true.)

There is another way to approach voting. R. Hershel Schachter, shlit”a has said a number of times that a frum Jew should vote for the individual whom he/she believes will do the best job for Torah interests. (This definition acknowledges that the different parts of identity are not created equal. You have to prioritize, and Hashem’s interests come first!) This might very well suggest that you should vote Gimmel, and I certainly have no issue with that. But if all the other issues that Yanky dismissed do bother you, then there are other options. If you find it distasteful or hypocritical to vote into office MKs who have taken positions that disgusted you, there are options. (Some of those positions include attributing the hugely higher death rate from Corona to crowded living quarters (taking zero responsibility for the weddings, funerals, tischen) – and then blaming the rest of the country for not building larger apartments for haredim. And refusing to agree to close schools in super-affected areas (which never happened even after the agreement) unless the strictures would be put in place everywhere else as well, denying parnassah to countless other Israelis.) If you are completely turned off by the way complex issues are presented to gedolim, without any providing of essential background or projections of consequences, you have options. You could vote for Shas – even if you are Ashkenazi – or Smotrich – even if you don’t wear a kippah serugah. Those people are not entirely on your wave-length, you say? Do you think that the Gimmel MKs are? No one is getting a lechatchilah here. You have to vote your conscience as to who will do the best job for the largest Jewish community on the face of the earth.

No recommendations from me. Just suggesting that some of the options might not be more unthinkable than keeping Yanky in power.

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87 Responses

  1. Joe Socher says:

    If to be Haredi means that voting in the election of the Zionist Knesset is a self-defining act of transcendent significance, rather than a transactional decision as to who will best do the job, then what is a Religious Zionist?

    [From an American political perspective, it seems that this view stems from the proportional representation system which requires voting for abstract parties rather than judging individual candidates, but that is a separate issue]

  2. a says:

    Adlerstein knows better. Always. The truth comes out from time to time. His genius articles on Israeli politics is an example of how someone can move into a country for 2 years and already be an expert on the whole history and infrastructure of the political scene. Thank you adlerstein for your wise words of stupidity. [ps you dont have to post this comment, its for you.]
    no. i have nothing against others voting something other than gimmel, its the way you present it which shows you have a complete lack of understanding of even the basic way the jewish world works in israel.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful and well-reasoned comment. I could not think of a more eloquent way to convince our readers that they have to carefully think through what the price of membership is.

    • Raymond says:

      omg….did my eyes provide me with correct information here? Are the words that registered in my brain representative of the actual words that appeared on this page? Is my being shown these words G-d’s Way of telling me that perhaps I have been as disrespectful of worthy Rabbis myself, and so I should take on the sense of shame that this man should have but probably doesn’t? I understand all too well that when it comes to politics, that things can get pretty heated, yet surely Rabbi Adlerstein deserves far more respect than has been shown here. I cannot help but notice the supreme irony as well as what a classic case of projection that is involved in putting the word “stupid” anywhere near the brilliant Rabbi Adlerstein of all people. I feel terrible that such a truly great man as Rabbi Adlerstein has been so unfairly and absurdly maligned.

    • Bob Miller says:

      Commenter a: Unfortunately, the history of that political scene is filled with ad hominem rhetoric just like yours, which is unseemly for any Jewish state. No great preparation is needed to detect it.

      • lacosta says:

        i would be curious if the thugs who beat up for example rav steinman , are Gimmel voters. will be dan lekaf zchut—they are more likely so anti-Israel that they don’t vote als shita…..

  3. RosyShores says:

    If you are completely turned off by the way complex issues are presented to gedolim, without any providing of essential background or projections of consequences, you have options


    Identity is extremely important – and also multi-faceted.

    OK Rabbi Adlerstein, you have some grudges against some people, communities, and power brokers within haredi society, and their going about the covid crisis among others. But by your own line of reasoning these should be far from a ‘reason’ not to vote them. Like you said, identity is multifaceted, by the same reasoning which difference parts of your identity can nudge you to vote for different entities, you cannot ‘identify’ those voting gimmel as one ‘identity’ and then dissmiss them for the actions of part of them.

    Take the biggest chassidus to date, Gur. They adhered to the covid guidance to a tee. They were’nt the only one look at Karlin, Boyan etc. not to mention the parts of the Degel faction within which there was almost total compliance.

    Yes, you might might not agree with every agenda Gur pushes, but – as we said – they are not ‘the’ identity of gimmel, and not everyone voting gimmel is automatically subscribed to that identity. For any stance you might have against Gur particularly, you surely can find many within the gimmel general populace and even in the political class who will likely agree with you. Same goes for any agenda being pushed by any other faction within gimmel.

    So really why is gimmel one party, should’t every faction within have their own respective parties? The answer is really that the’re is an overarching overall ‘identity’ shared by all factions within gimmel. Sure there are issues and sub-issues which they might disagree on, but really identity is multifaceted so any one particular issue does not change the way one ‘identifies’, much like someone who identifies as Republican would oftenn vote for a candidate of their party even when they disaree on parts of their agenda or behaviour. By nature the factions with the most commonality between their identities will vote as one.

    To conclude, as long as one’s views are represented within a party which they feel they identify with on most and most-important issues, I don’t think any one (or even multiple) given issue with some factions within that party really should change the way one vote . Except if the party you’re voting for is a one-issue party, which is unanimous in the agenda which you don’t idenfy with.

    • All true. I don’t disagree. My beef here is with this frum version of the True Scotsman argument: No True Haredi would ever vote for anything other than the approved slate. Ergo, if he does, he is not really haredi.

      • Mordechai Harris says:

        I suppose I’ll just have to accept that according to Yanky Panky I’m not really Chareidi. I think I’ll survive somehow

      • Jl says:

        Velcome to Eesrael!

        Ur lucky u don’t need to deal with kids’ schools!

      • Sez you! You think I don’t agonize over the options available for my grandchildren? Or can avoid questions like “How do we explain to our kids what we have to attest to in the application (father doesn’t work; mother doesn’t drive or wear makeup) when everyone knows it is a lie (and the women teachers themselves drive and wear makeup), and the hanhala freely admits that the questions are there so that they will be able to turn down Sephardic applicants?”

  4. nt says:

    If I remember correctly, R’ Shlomo Lorincz quotes Rav Shach as contrasting a frum politician with Menachem Begin by saying, “He might be Orthodox, but Begin will look out for the Orthodox.” See also the beginning of Ohr Yechezkel for Elul where R’ Chatzkel Levenstein criticizes his yeshiva for getting involved in elections, because elections are not part of learning Torah or Yiras Shamayim.

  5. Bob Miller says:

    Social pressure is a powerful tool frequently misused to force people to act against their own consciences and interests. The prime example is: don’t do or say X, which is halachically permissible and has valid support but goes against some leader’s opinion, or you’ll never get your daughter a shidduch. Another is: spend crazily on simcha Y, or you can’t move in our circles.

    As it is, the accountability of politicians to their voters is already hard to detect. Demanding the voters’ support based on identity and not performance goes further and nullifies accountability as a concept.

    Maybe Yanky (note – I’m a Mets fan) would do better by offering voters an attractive new segulah.

  6. Raymond says:

    Israel is not a religious State, but rather a secular one. Whether or not Israel should ideally become a theocracy, I will leave for minds far greater than mine. What I can say with some certainty is that at least a couple of modern day Jewish thinkers, namely Alan Dershowitz and now sadly the late, great Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, is that theocracies only serve to invite trouble, and that our societies are served better by having Thomas Jefferson’s famous wall of separation between religion and State. Religious values can, of course, inform our political decisions, but that is different than dictating them in any kind of absolute way.

    One consequence of taking such a position, is the recognition that politicians are not Rabbis, nor should we expect them to be. This issue was of noted relevance in the Presidential candidacy of Donald Trump over here in America. Some people objected to supporting him on moral grounds, questioning his character in some areas of his life. However, if one can separate the person from his policies long enough to recognize what an absolutely fantastic friend that the man in question has been for our Jewish State of Israel, coupled with his economic and foreign policies being so good for America in general, than supporting him becomes an effortless no-brainer. And while I may not know as much about the intricate details of Israeli politics quite as much as what is happening here in America, it just seems abundantly clear to me that Benjamin Netanyahu should continue to be Israel’s Prime Minister for as long as his mind continues to function at the brilliant level that it does. Leave guidance for our religious lives with our religious values to our Rabbis.

  7. lacosta says:

    it would seem that in the ‘normal’ political world , when a party gets reamed , there will usually be a modicum of introspection as to why a loss occurs and what positions might need to be changed. In the world of Gimmel , wherein the leadership is definitionally infallible and whose positions are akin to Divine oracle , any loss of support would lead to absolutely change of any positions of import . So I am not sure how the hareili voter can possibly impact the leadership of his [ since only him’s are visible anyways ..] sector…..

  8. william l gewirtz says:

    Rav Adlerstein, You are moving in the right direction. 🙂 As one who believes Hareidi parties are me’halail Shem Shamayim by their crass single-minded agenda, I would rather bring back Tommy Lapid. 🙂

    Truthfully, I suspect this election is just the beginning; in time hareidim will begin to integrate but ever so slowly. Unfortunately, it is likely they will not move to where you are or even where I am.

    • Dovid Kasten says:


      It is unfortunate, but from your comment it seems like your grandchildren have only a slight chance of being Jewish. what has kept Klal Yisroel going is the adherence to the Gedolei Hador and the Mesorah from Har Sinai. Any group, whether the Tzedukim, the Maskilim, or even the Zionists of recent times, who have tampered with the way a Good Jew is defined, has ultimately been dumped into the trash bin of history.
      Rabbi Adlerstein may be correct that the definition of a Chareidi is not voting for Gimmel – Yahadut Hatorah [which btw, they constantly push “listening to the Rabbanim, and not necessarily voting for their party], he happens to be incorrect that one can just choose whoever they “feel” is best. Israel is entering an election that may end the country’s connection to all that is holy, and just like one can’t choose his medicine based on his “feelings”, he also is in no position to choose the right party for Klal Yisorel’s future based on his feelings.

      • Asher says:

        No it’s not. It’s adherence to Torah Umotzvos. Saying it’s adherence.to the gedolim is revisionist history.

      • Dovid says:

        Asher, would Korach have utilized that same argument?

      • william l gewirtz says:

        thank you for exhibiting the profundity of your insights. I have 8 grandchildren, all halakhic Jews at this point. two are currently in their gap years in Yeshiva in Israel. I have told them, that each will inherit equally as long as they do not become Hareidi.

        I think your grasp of Jewish history might need some remedial work. the Hovevai Zion movement attracted many gedolai Yisroel that right-wing hagiography has tried to purge from our history. Identify two of Rav Chaim’s greatest talmidim and you will find very different views about Zionism. Diverse views were part and parcel of traditional Judaism before the notion of a uniform daas toireh was invented.

      • Dovid says:

        “Diverse views were part and parcel of traditional Judaism before the notion of a uniform daas toireh was invented” Mr. Gewirtz, it’s intriguing how you hold diversity to a lofty standard while simultaneously threaten to disinherit any grandchild who doesn’t adopt your exact hashkafa.

      • william l gewirtz says:

        David, I assume your expertise is not detecting humor. I will always love all my grandchildren regardless of the life choices they make.

    • Bob Miller says:

      What, if anything, do you like about Lapid’s single-minded agenda?

    • Steven Brizel says:

      Charedi parties, like similar based groups, in any democracy, look out for their members self interests and way of life first and foremost . That is something to always remember, even if you think that the response of the Charedi world in Israel to the pandemic was inappropriate and that some in that community are making it worse by ignoring the clearly available vaccines.

      That is called politics and it is no different than making sure your garbage gets picked up, and your streets are safe. One can argue with some of the hashkafic bases of these positions, and agree with others but denying that some are valid and even admirable to a certain degree should not lead one to vote for candidates who are decidedly not enthusiastic about either RZ, MO or Charedim. The bottom line is that most voters vote for candidates who will protect and advocate for their interests .

      ( That’s why in the US we now see the RCA, OU and Agudah applauding Senators who helped their communities via the stimulus legislation for their communities and schools, even while these same Senators support such dubious legislation as the legislative misnomer known as the Equality Act and the probably massively unconstitutional HR1 . One looks in vein on comments on would be sub cabinet appointees whose views on Israel and the Jewish community are very problematic and whose positions are probably more critical on day to day policy issues than the Cabinet level appointees , as well as such contemporary issues as cancel culture, and the problems caused by critical racial theory, and the growth of left wing anti Semitism from these organizations . IMO, we are hiding ourselves in the sand and ignoring the fire burning under our feet caused by these issues in our communities and institutions which in some ways are like the French before WW2-fighting today’s wars with yesterday’s tools and weapons.

      Yes, going to the SCOTUS and winning on Thanksgiving Day was a huge win for free exercise, but the case might have been lost if Cuomo had shown the SCOTUS photos of noncompliance in the Charedi world . OTOH, looking at such issues from an overly cautious POV as opposed to be willing to take a risk and stating a view reminds me of the fact that great leaders at any time are those who are not afraid to take a position without fear of making a mistake and even make a mistake or more on the way to the ultimate destiny. )

      The real question is for those who view their lives as Charedi but who interact with the secular world is who their votes should be for-namely is as RHS says an “individual whom he/she believes will do the best job for Torah interests”, and whether there is or will be emerging such a slate in future elections. Any party that supports the JIm Crow Court known as the HCJ and which is hostile to RZ and Charedim as well as national security interests clearly should be viewed as anathema .

    • Dovid says:

      doesn’t “me’halail” mean to praise?

    • Steven Brizel says:

      You wrote in relevant part:
      “thank you for exhibiting the profundity of your insights. I have 8 grandchildren, all halakhic Jews at this point. two are currently in their gap years in Yeshiva in Israel. I have told them, that each will inherit equally as long as they do not become Hareidi.”

      Would you have the same views towards their inheritance if any , all or some were clearly OTD or had intermarried?

    • Steven Brizel says:

      Chatredim are integrating but at their speed, not the sensibilities of the outside world. R Y Pfeffer has written extensively and very persuasively on this.

  9. ZH says:

    It seems that, as a foreigner, you misunderstood the point.
    The STeipler writes in his letters that the reason to vote is to make an announcement to the world that we want to live as Torah Jews and only as Torah Jews. In America, there is no party that represents Torah, so we do not have this option. So Rabbi Shechter’s point is valid.
    But in Eretz Yisroel we do have an option. A vote for Gimmel is an announcement that we identify with a public life of Torah and only Torah. Not the individual decisions that they make, even if they are not in sync with your opinion. But for the benefit of that announcement.
    Your private identity as a husband/wife/parent/child/gabbai/ baal kore/dreikop/mechanical engineer is not the issue. We are discussing your communal identity. A person is a part of a community, and he chooses that community at various occasions. In Israel, it is at the ballot box.

    • More like I understand it perfectly, and reject it. I’ll leave out several points worthwhile discussing, and home in on just one of them. “A person is a part of a community, and he chooses that community at various occasions. In Israel, it is at the ballot box.” As social beings, we don’t live alone, so we usually associate with others. No matter what our affiliations, we make our own communities by choosing our friends, our shuls, our chavrusas, our email correspondents. As frum Jews, we recognize that we are part of Am Yisrael, and act within it to increase kevod Shomayim. It is questionable (to put it mildly) whether we need community in the sense you use it, i.e. picking a particular group from a limited number of options, and “choosing” it as ours, regardless of what members of that community do or say. You are quite right about the situation that has been true since the establishment of the State. But איזה הוא חכם הרואה את הנולד. The number of those who have questioned the givens of haredi life in Israel has already achieved a critical mass. If you don’t want to call them haredim, they’ll continue to live haredi life-styles, and you can call them what you want. There are enough out there that they can no longer be intimidated by the “system.” They have their own schools and shuls. They work and take degrees. Their ranks will swell in the aftermath of COVID. They will be added to by the likely wave of American-style haredim who will be arriving in the next years, and won’t toe the line like they used to in the past – simply because they no longer have to! The mainstream haredi community will remain BEH strong and vibrant, but its political ambitions will have to respond to a more restive electorate, or the other parties (which have been recruiting these new-style Israeli haredim for several years now) will gain their support.

      • Bob Miller says:

        Is there room anywhere in the current Israeli religious party world for transparency about decisions and plans? If not, that creates an opening for parties offering transparency. Through the years, the better poskim have offered detailed explanations. In their political roles (assuming they and not others are really in charge), that should be their norm, too.

      • ZH says:

        You left out the important point and focused on the minor point. Because you really do not fully understand the issue.

        By voting for a party other than a Charedi one, you are announcing that keeping Torah is not the only value, you have other, equal ones. If you are fine with making that statement, then the Steipler is not talking to you. But he is talking to people who do believe that keeping Torah is the overriding value, and that is the essence of the Charedi lifestyle and belief system.

        The statement ‘they’ll continue to live haredi life-styles’, as regards to people who think that the Torah is an equal value to other things is ludicrous. It is akin to a legally blind taxi driver.

        If you honestly think that a wave of half-baked Judaism MO style community is building in Israel, you are blind to history as well. The MO community does not have a real future, as much as they enjoy blathering about the ‘future’ and ‘Klal Yisroel’. The Kilayim of competing beliefs, as well as the inherent mendacity of the whole lifestyle, will push half their adherents to assimilation and the other half to bona-fide Charedi Judaism. They never took over in the US and England, and the growth rate is unsustainable. They are essentially living off the Charedim, using their resources and numbers to ensure spiritual and physical amenities, such as Seforim, Rabbis, the plethora of Kosher food and other benefits.

        But even if they will somehow last, that has nothing to do with the truth and the correct way to act. If you want to announce ה’ הוא האלקים, you announce that we want a society of Torah, and you vote for a Charedi party. Even if it is run by flawed humans.

        When another party, with a Torah platform and superhuman leaders, is founded, you can discuss which is better.

      • Bob Miller says:

        For the chareidi parties as they now function, is it accurate to say that keeping Torah is their only value, or is Torah really just their only announced value, with other values impinging on behind-the-scenes decisions? I can’t reconcile some of their infighting with Torah values alone.

      • Tal S. Benschar says:

        By voting for a party other than a Charedi one, you are announcing that keeping Torah is not the only value, you have other, equal ones.

        Or perhaps you think that who you vote for to sit in the parliament of the medinas ha kofrim is not indicative of whether you think keeping the Torah is important.

        Do you consider the members of the Edah Charedis, for example, as having values other than the keeping of the Torah?

    • Weaver says:

      “The STeipler writes in his letters that the reason to vote is to make an announcement to the world that we want to live as Torah Jews and only as Torah Jews”

      So make a sign, or put it on a t-shirt. Maybe it was necessary when the Steipler said it, but it certainly isn’t necessary now.

      “By voting for a party other than a Charedi one, you are announcing that keeping Torah is not the only value, you have other, equal ones.”

      Um, no you’re not. You’re announcing that you want a functioning, well-run country. Whether the MK can say a good pshat in the Rambam, really doesn’t have much to do with it . . .

  10. joel rich says:

    So is the reality something like – I follow daas torah (R’ CK) except when I think it’s incorrect?

  11. Rivka Leah says:

    After this specific year, with all of its disappointments in our leadership, i did waver a bit when it comes to voting Gimmel. Yet i haven’t seen any leadership in the other parties who passed this crisis with flying colors … if anything, that has seemed to be the overarching message of Covid, as much as anything else – that there is only the One upon Whom to rely. (Anyone else think it strange that Rav Chaim and Trump – lhavdil – were diagnosed with Covid on the same day?)

    So who gets my vote? If there were any politician, religious or not, who i could believe would do a good job, on the issues i care about most, i would vote for him or her, or the party that espouses those values. But i don’t see my core issues represented by anyone in the running. Does Shas represent me? Yamina? If anything, Gimmel
    theoretically shares more of my values than the others, even if in a Venn diagram less would overlap than more.
    (I happen to prefer that Netanyahu continue as prime minister only because he has more skills for that position than any of the competition, but that is not a endorsement of his moral fitness. )

    I expect to vote for gimmel for one reason only – in the absence of an affirmative vote, at least i will be counted as a Torah Jew living in Israel – and even if we end up in the opposition – which i fear is a real possibility, given some of the ugliness of the last 6 months – we should hold that space as largely as possible, hopefully with dignity and not otherwise.

    • Asher says:

      What wrong with Smotrich?

      • Rivka Leah says:

        I’m not sure i would say there is something “wrong” with him, but i don’t identify as a “religious zionist” in the classic sense – and idefinitely don’t think the harsh way he expresses himself is conducive to ahavas chinam. And regarding Arabs – i don’t expect them to be my friends, but i accept various forms of coexistence as sanctioned by Torah and poskim. So his worldview, as i mention above, doesn’t shtim with mine better than that of gimmel.

        I am actually of the archaic opinion that we are all in this together – one people, one destiny. So the Israeli political slicing and dicing seems pretty beside the point. It’s more a game than not, but with unfortunately real world consequences.

        I don’t see Smotrich as an antidote to any of these issues.

    • Eli Julian says:

      Try the survey at this website. It will show you which political party most closely aligns with your values.


      • Raymond says:

        I just tried this, but did not see any questions anywhere. Regardless, I stand with people such as Benjamin Netanyahu, Naftali Bennett, and anybody else who are the ideological followers of Rav Kook and Rabbi Meir Kahane.

  12. Bob Miller says:

    1. Is any Israeli party’s voter surveillance team adept enough to name individual voters who step out of line now and then?
    2. Going forward, what actions by voters could cause any Israeli party to thoughtfully present its case on merit? To address the general welfare?

    • 1. Wouldn’t put it past them
      2. A significant defection of charedi voters just might get the parties to reexamine their practices to prevent further erosion.

      • lacosta says:

        b’mechilas kvod harav , Moronon v’Robonon [as the Yated would call them ] will not be influenced by the haredi street —- that would be the Pnai Hakelev model from Sotah . I think in the end the Gimmel voter must realize , that the only way to keep the flow of cash needed to maintain 80 years plus of a hora’at sha’ah lifestyle requires a huge show of voter force. The US haredi immigrant would have been more at home in a Poalei Aguda party z’l , but that died around the time the Likud welfare state was born…..

  13. Weaver says:

    “If you won’t vote Gimmel, you are not haredi. You are something other. Your otherness will be noted by your children, whom you will impress with your wishy-washy, incomplete devotion to true Torah values, and they, too, will be incomplete Jews.”

    This sounds like something a cult leader would say when desperately trying to convince members to stay in the cult and under his control. Enough said . . .

    • Reb Yid says:

      Sounds like a certain political party in the US. If you don’t support this particular individual no matter what, you are a RINO.

      A cult, indeed.

      • Raymond says:

        And then there is the cult indeed consisting of those who are absolutely obsessed with hating the strongly pro-Israel Donald Trump, who is arguably our greatest President since Abraham Lincoln.

      • Steven Brizel says:

        IIRC, the Mishnah praises someone who is Mvatel his Ratzon. What is the difference between a Mizrachi supporter who followed any and all of RYBS’s positions and someone who follows those of RCK-absolutely nothing because each is following the views of their rebbe. That is hardly cultic behavior, but rather of a talmid who is folllowing his rebbe

      • william l gewirtz says:

        Despite my inclination not to comment on your submissions, this insult to the memory of the Rav ztl cannot be allowed to stand w/o comment. The Rav ztl would never and I repeat never tell a devoted student what to do even when the halakha was not definitive.

        Students of the Rav ztl from his brother and SIL zichronom le’veracha to yibadail le’chaim Rav Schechter maintain radically different political positions. Under no conceivable circumstance would the Rav tell them how to vote. The Rav is consistent with the minhag of gedolim who had different views on political issues. Both Rav Lebowitz ztl and Rav Pollachek ztl were talmidim muvhakim of Rav Chaim.

        don’t confuse current behavior with minhagim of Yisroel Saba

  14. Toby Katz says:

    Joel Rich wrote: “So is the reality something like – I follow daas torah (R’ CK) except when I think it’s incorrect?”

    There is no monolithic, authoritative daas Torah. There were 12 shevatim, each with its own path. There is also such a thing as being chutz lamachaneh — outside the Torah world completely. In Pirkei Avos it says, “Asei lecha rav” — loosely translated, make sure you have a rav, a Torah mentor, a Torah scholar, whose advice you seek and follow on matters of importance. On some issues there is a universally agreed-upon daas Torah. For example, the Israeli Supreme Court ruling that henceforward any non-Jew in the whole world who wants to immigrate to Israel can do so immediately, and enjoy the whole basket of perks for olim, as long as some Conform rabbi waves his magic wand over the fellow — that decision is evil. 100% agreement. On many other issues, however, there is some disagreement among the Torah leaders. That doesn’t mean everyone should do whatever he wants. It means you should follow the leaders of the Torah camp with which you most identify, whether it is Litvish, some flavor of Chassidish, Sefardi or whatever, in Eretz Yisrael or America or wherever you are, or at any rate, follow the advice and rulings of your own rav.

    • Bob Miller says:

      There are the well-known camps which are pretty regimented, but also more recent, sometimes still imperfectly organized, camps that tolerate some—shall we say it?—diversity.

    • william l gewirtz says:

      there is another independent dimension beyond just 12 tribes: What areas fall under the scope of issues that a Rav should give normative rulings on, versus advise on, versus leave to the opinion of the individual?

      this is where lo tasur or hafokh bah are badly misunderstood

  15. mb says:

    If you don’t vote for Gimmel you ain’t black!
    Ironic eh?

    • Bob Miller says:

      Best comment award for mb 9:13 am!

    • Raymond says:

      Come on, man! Here’s the deal. You know, the thing. (On a family-friendly forum like this one, I dare not repeat some of the other nonsensical things that have been said by Demented Joe)

  16. Elly Lasson says:

    Yanky is not really an intellectual or idealogue. But he is a brilliant brand manager, marketer, and fundraiser. I would bring him into any MBA class to share best practices. This recent statement is politics at its best. Voting Gimmel aligns with the pragmatic goals of his brand management right now. But that could change down the road if different alliances and allegiances will be strategically more efficacious. Each election, a slightly different approach is used to keep things fresh and up-to-date. Sometimes it’s scare tactics or some other pressure creatively masked within theology. This time it’s straight identity politics. “Chareidi” is the label that is socially desirable among the customer base, both in Israel and in America. So, he is playing off of the self-fulfilling prophesy of identity politics.

  17. Schmerel says:

    Voting, he insisted, is an expression of essential identity. You state thereby who you are, and who you are not.

    Whatever you think of YK as far as election hyperbole goes that statement is pretty much true. It is a common sentiment that both demographic groups and groups with certain values vote certain ways.

    As President Biden it “if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” He certainly didn’t mean it in the context of following Daas Torah. And while you can question the truth of the statement (ultimately 20% of black males voted for Trump) it is safe to say that the people whose entire identity is defined by being black all voted for Biden .

    I was told by a liberal vote canvasser that if a house has an American flag flying from it then he can skip it if he is pressed for time because they are probably voting Republican anyway. I’m sure the same would be true for a Republican vote canvasser with a house that has a rainbow flag or BLM symbols on it.

  18. Shades of Gray says:

    In November 2013, R. Adlerstein wrote a related essay, “On The Internecine Battles in Israel and the World Series”, which uses the difference between the behavior of soccer fans versus baseball fans as a metaphor for not over-identifying with one’s religious “team”, linked and excerpted below:


    This is because for the most part, baseball fans in the US are very different from soccer fans in Europe and South America…Baseball fans can be passionate, committed, and devoted to their team. But they don’t lose themselves to the game… Too many of us over-identify with whatever label we bought into at some point in our lives…

    We should identify enough to take from it what is of greatest value, without committing all of our emotional energy to it, and without shutting ourselves off from what is valuable and good in other places…[without] cognitive dissonance that we cannot live with ourselves…without sacrificing your essential self…. It is better to be baseball fans than soccer fans.

  19. Shades of Gray says:

    In an address to the supporters of the OU in December of 2019, R. Efrem Goldberg described a rebbe of his in Israel who refused to be neatly categorized, and who sounds like an interesting person:

    On the one hand, he sent his children to chareidi schools. On the other, he has proudly taught in progressive women’s institutions. He was educated in the right-wing world, but he profoundly values the miracle of the modern state of Israel.

    When asked what world he belongs in, how does he see himself, one of my rabbis in Israel answered, “You can put me in a box when I am dead; until then don’t try to make me fit neatly into one of your labels.”

    See beginning of R. Goldberg’s speech on YU Torah(“You Can Put Me in a Box When I am Dead” – Maintaining a Community of Nuance” ) and the corresponding article on Aish(“Don’t Put Me in a Box: The Death of Nuance”).

    • Dovid Kasten says:

      similar, but not the same.
      R’ Gershon says that by not voting you are saying that you are not Chareidi. Not necessarily that you aren’t. A big difference.

      Chareidim who don’t understand what is at stake and/or are caught up with their democratic attitude that they absorbed from Galus are not necessarily Poshim and Meizidim, just confused and thoroughly brainwashed by the surrounding culture. It’s usually not their fault.

  20. michoeel Halberstam says:

    As usual Rabbi Adlerstein has proven that explaining your position in a fair articulate way will always cause one to run afoul of those who have no interest in fairness or accuracy. That is fine for them, because they will certainly be endorsed as haredi by the appropriate institutional “religious endorsers” We need to get rid of the idea that who endorses you will ever define anything, even if you have either bamboozled or annoyed some great Rabbis into a satte of utter confusion.
    Have you ever noticed that it is kefira to sxay that you disagree with a gadol, but it is Kovod hatorah to treat a Gadol like an idiot.

  21. Weaver says:

    Many American yeshivish don’t realize that Chareidim in Israel are very different even from them. Their many positive traits notwithstanding, the American frum world should not aspire to be like Chareidim. RYA and Rabbi Yonason Rosenblum, Mishpacha, etc., realize this, and are carefully trying to make the masses understand . . .

    • william l gewirtz says:

      Clearly, the world they live in is different and their relative size is entirely different – about 10% versus .1%, two orders of magnitude significant difference. One should not expect complete similarity

      • Steven Brizel says:

        There is a major difference between Charedim in Israel and in the US -a four letter word called work.

        Take a trip to any Charedi community and you will see many families who look Charedi , would never consider themselves MO in any way whose homes are Charedi , and whose sefarim shrank is definitely Charedi but where one or both spouses are working. That’s where and how you see the basis for Charedi summer homes, not bungalows, and Charedim who go on vacations.

    • Bob Miller says:

      Are there “masses” in any real sense, or do we have a collection of many tight cliques differentiated by various factors such as beliefs, national origins, personnel, and ambitions…that often seem to override our common Jewish identity.

    • lacosta says:

      as opposed to hareilim , US haredim would more likely have fit into a Poalei Aguda party model . [ it does have the W word in its title ] . But one can understand the fear of Gimel leadership [itself an amalgam of two parties with totally different looks ] if its followers look anywhere else for representation.

      As a teen we had a rebbe who , in an era of tora v’avoda, tora umada proclaimed ‘tora pepsicola’ i e torah , pure unadulterated, nothing else. this pronouncement is what Gimmel represents. and whose interests it can represent. All else is tafel . does that work for all hareilim?

  22. Michael Halberstam says:

    The level of personal vitriol exhibited in some of the comments to this post is appalling. Apparently the pent up desire to destroy anyone who disagrees with one’s opinion is always below the surface, waiting for the right catalyst to bring it out. Thanks to Daas Torah, or whatever you call it, it is suddenly right to say the most outrageous things, and to claim tat one is doing the work of Hashem. That is ridiculous, and it is only a question of time before those who rely on it will reap the consequences. Standing up for what you think hashem wants is often the Hepech of Kiddush Hashem

    • Tal Benschar says:

      Thanks to Daas Torah, or whatever you call it, it is suddenly right to say the most outrageous things, and to claim tat one is doing the work of Hashem.

      That is nothing new. The people who danced around the Eigel ha Zahav thought the same thing.

  23. MK says:

    I am not saying that one should vote for Lapid, and I don’t know what he thinks in his heart.
    But this I will say. I’ve heard and read a few of his speeches and one could imagine Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky ZTL saying the exact same thing.
    “I have nothing against Chareidim, I just want them to be able to earn a living. It says no place in the Torah that everyone has to sit and learn full time and can’t work for a living!”
    Rav Yaakov would say Amen!
    And when Lapid said, “Let 1800 hundred “iluyim” (brilliant scholars) learn full time and let the others work for a living”?
    I believe Rav Yaakov may have said, “Tell him 3600 and we have a deal”!
    Rav Yaakov was outspoken in opposition to the notion that all should learn full time and not work.

    • Bob Miller says:

      Once a secular government starts making conditions for the number or percentage of Jewish students of any age who can learn Torah full time, it’s causing trouble. For a community to make that same judgment for its own members, or for economic factors to have that effect, is a whole other thing. Show me where Rav Yaakov ZT”L wanted government to impose such limits.

      • MK says:

        I wouldn’t say that government would “cause trouble” while the community making the judgement is an “other thing”. The latter has caused and continues to cause “huge trouble” which Rav Yaakov considered a distortion of Torah and led to crushing problems as a society.
        I said that I wasn’t saying we should vote for Lapid, I was pointing out a sad truth…
        In THIS matter, Lapid was closer to R Yaakov’s position than the Chareidi world is.

      • Bob Miller says:


        Everywhere in our time, interest group politics has increased mass dependence on the welfare state. There are always unwelcome strings attached, later if not now. The US Orthodox groups who proudly boast how this or that sleazy politician or party helped them secure a bigger piece of the pie will be all aghast when that same politician or party turns around and supports woke bureaucratic revocation of their basic freedoms.

        I meant that the community SHOULD make responsible judgments in this matter, not that it’s necessarily doing so now. A community’s due regard for genuine economic factors, such as its own collective financial resources and available outside private support, would help it better determine the percentage able to learn full-time.

    • lacosta says:

      sorry , The State supporting 80 year old ‘Avrechim ‘ is the kodesh kodoshim of current hareili theology . it is literally a yeihareig v’al yaavor—since tens of thousands of families are otherwise income free –the State is their rich father-in-law. Rav Yaakov would be on the Moetzes , and would quickly adopt their position , when explained the Truth…

      • Rivka Leah says:

        Sorry, but do you actually know any of these families you are so categorizing? I know many, and whatever kollel stipends or kitzbaot yeladim they receive, that is a pittance to their actual economic activity. Almost all are busy hustling (and i mean that in a positive sense), in addition to what their wives bring in. Do i believe in honorable employment and the opportunity to be trained or educated for such? Absolutely. But the image of people just chilling and living off the state coffers is hugely distorted.

    • william l gewirtz says:

      elite institutions that value individuality produce elite scholars. the current hareidi approach of universal admission and the stress of a singular daas toireh that values conformity are producing what one would expect.

      Look at what institutions as varied as Slabodka under the Alte and JTS in the Lieberman era produced.
      The list of those students/scholars who spent many years studying at those institutions cannot be replicated in a world that declares everyone an avraich.

      • Steven Brizel says:

        JTS during the Lieberman era had almost a negligible amount of impact on those affiliated with CJ as opposed to RIETS and RYBS where an entire mass of committed MO was developed No one doubts the scholarship of RSL ZL but his impact on his self identified community was marginal at best

      • Steven Brizel says:

        Not everyone is an avraich in and out of a Beis Medrash but almost anyone can be a lamdan

      • Steven Brizel says:

        Yes-the greatest Talmidim of the Alter of Slabodka were the builders of the Yeshiva world in the US. JTS in the Lieberman era , in contrast to RIETS when RYBS was at his full strength, who developed a strongly committed MO world , had a negligible effect at best, to use the most polite term possible, on the CJ movement and laity , which today has jettisoned all pretenses of halachic fealty and views what is called “social justice” coupled with life cycle events as its definition of Jewish identity.

    • Raymond says:

      I do not know, nor am I sure I want to know, what Tommy Lapid is all about, so what I am about to say should not be taken as being my either my support or opposition to him. I think, though, that the taxpayer money should not be supporting any Torah scholars at all. I am not necessarily against the concept of having Torah scholars being financially supported, but it should be done through private donations, not through the government. This would solve the problem of having people’s taxes support such an institution against their will. Those who believe in it, can fund it because they choose to do so.

  24. Steven Brizel says:

    Not everyone is an avraich or even a budding Talmid Chacham, but anyone can become a Ben Torah, a lamdan and a masmid atzum with the necessary desire, willpower, means ,and tools available in Lashon HaKodesh and English and on line. I know many who are not musmachim and who never learned in a kollel but who work for a living whether in a profession or in business but whose Kvias Itim LaTorah would challenge that of many avreichim as well.

  25. Reuven Ungar says:

    In regards to work, from a non-scientific but personal experience view, I’m aware of (and count as chaverim) full-fledged Charedim who reside in Kiryat Sefer and are hard-working ba’alei batim. They cut no corners in Torah observance, sanctify Hashem’s Name with their honesty & middot and are members of the work-force.
    Full disclosure: I wear a kippah seruga, reside in Talmon and yesterday voted for the Tzionut Datit party (Gimmel is my fall-back position if need be).

  26. Aaron says:

    Its worse in America. Is Israel if you don’t vote UTJ you are labeled as a non-Chareidi. In America if you didn’t vote Trump you are told that you don’t have a yiddishe neshama and your kids are bullied in schools. The new mantra is that one must vote according to the dictates of his community or suffer banishment. This is not an Israeli issue or one particular to Yanky Kanievsky.

    • Tal Benschar says:

      That has not been my experience at all.

      And in any event, given the secret ballot, one can always avoid the quesiton, or just lie.

    • Steven Brizel says:

      IF this assessment of the 2020 elections was true, why would Mishpacha Magazine and CC both devote a lot of space to the pros and cons of the election, its outcome, and the effect thereof? The issue is not who you voted for , but being able to get along with anyone who didn’t vote for your choices and vice versa IOW, being able to agree to disagree in a calm and reasonable manner, while reserving your right to your decisions and opinions.

  27. william l gewirtz says:

    two more recent developments: 1) prior to the election it was not just a grandson/handler but an acknowledged leader of Harteidi Judaism who also mandated voting Gimel if you are a true believer. Not surprising, but distressing nonetheless. 2) it has been reported that a fair number of those who abandoned Gimel jumped to the Kahanist affiliated party. Surprising and distressing if found to be true.

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