Response to Rav Feldman

Quite literally, Rav Aharon Feldman, shlit”a, is a gentleman and a scholar. I know the former from personal experience. Despite the fact that ani hakatan have taken issue with things he’s said or written on quite a few occasions, he always receives me warmly and politely. So I am hopeful that he once more will forgive my trespass in my comments about his latest missive.

This is going to be short. Others might have much more to say. I would only like to contrast Rav Feldman’s approach with that of R Moshe Sternbuch, shlit”a, – whose anti-Zionist credentials are even richer than those of R Feldman – penned just a few days after Oct. 7. Here is a free translation of his words:

The Gri”z, zt”l, said a lofty thing. When the navi Yonah boarded the ship to escape to Tarshish, and Hashem brought a tempest to the sea that threatened to capsize the vessel, Yonah’s reaction was, “I am the cause of this great tempest.” Now, there were many actual idolators aboard, as it is written, “Each man cried out to his god.” Nonetheless, Yonah did not attribute the cause of the tempest to the sins of all the others on board the ship. He attributed the fault to himself. The Gri”z said that this instructs us on how to react at a time of great affliction – for, after all, only prophecies that had continued relevance to all times were recorded. At such times a person should not seek out the sins of his friend and those around him. Rather, he should say, “I am the cause of this great tempest.” He should examine his own actions, and how to repent for them.

If we took R Sternbuch’s advice, where might that analysis get us, if we were looking not at individuals, but what the charedi community as a whole should stress? For some, it might begin and end with cell phones and lace-top sheitels. Or lashon hora. Or not doing enough for the shidduchim crisis. Conceivably, however, pointing fingers at ourselves in the charedi world might lead to very different places to discover stockpiles of guilt. Perhaps what HKBH was looking for was healing the breaches of a divided people. (After all, Chazal tell us that when the Jewish nation is united, no enemy has dominion over them.) Perhaps He expected those who consider themselves the vanguard of the Torah community to take part in much of the coming together that took hold of the majority of the country (and continues to this day), rather than sitting on the sidelines? Maybe He expected that paragons of Torah virtue would not only be part of it, but would be leaders and exemplars of it, going out of their way to show how linked they were to all other Jews? They could have done this by showing up at every single shiva home; by actively helping the families of evacuees; by filling in – if even briefly – for all the reservists whose sources of parnasah had to shut down; by organizing large and impressive tefillah gatherings? Was it really Hashem’s wish that the community of full-time Torah learners should only appear in the headlines when the draft issue came to a head? (I mean the community as a whole, rather than special individuals like Shai Graucher – and his work was called out by Torah leadership as being a waste of time. And Shai, of course, was the very visible tip of the iceberg. There are many, many unsung charedi heroes – especially among the women – who pitched in from day one, and have kept right on going.) And when the draft issue erupted, the legitimate reasons that so many in the country had for wanting to see more charedi participation in the IDF were derisively dismissed as being nothing but a war against Torah. And the Vietnam War slogan – “Hell, no. We won’t go” – became the only thing resembling a battle cry that came from charedi strongholds. Might it be that the advice of the Mishna in picking out a general path in life – “What is honorable to a person, and brings tribute from other people” is true of communities, not just individuals? Are we so sure that Hashem was so happy with all this?

I guess that Rav Feldman is correct. Only a navi could tell us. But some of us will use our Torah instincts to guess, just like the Rosh Yeshiva did.

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155 Responses

  1. Yonah Gross says:

    I also prefer the view expressed by Rav Aharon Feldman’s older brother a few years ago.

  2. Joe Hill says:

    The extrapolation of HaRav Moshe Shternbuch in this article is invalid. Rav Shternbuch is specifically referring to an individual regarding himself. You cannot take that to mean a community at large.

    Indeed, to take Rav Shternbuch’s words to point at the community at large, even one’s own community, is exact diametrically the opposite of what Rav Shternbuch said!

    • MK says:

      To Joe Hill
      I’m not sure why a communal level should be different.
      But in any case, in one of Rav Feldman’s first statements , shorty after the tragic events, he said that the primary victims (secular) are presumed to have the status of “tinok she’nisba)and not responsible for their lack of observance.
      Therefore, he said, we need to examine the Torah community for an “explanation”.
      He concluded that it was due to those in the Torah camp who overly embrace or tolerate the “Zionist Enterprise” , such as taking part in the elections of the Zionist Congress.
      Aside from the fact that he was placing “blame” on some pretty big people?
      His explanation was, with all due respect, as Rabbi Adlerstein said, a “guess”.
      My “Torah instincts” find RA’s guess more plausible.

      ‘ ‘

      • Yosef says:

        With you 100%… I have asked the question to my Rebbe, a known Talmid Chochom in JLEM, and discussed this a few times now…. someone who dies, is murdered, al kiddush Hashem, what happens to them ? all those attacked on Oct. 7 fall in to this category.. Kedoshim… More importantly, is right now, as stated, we need to stop pointing the finger at others. K’shote atzmecha, and THEN fix others…

      • yl says:

        the distinction is quite obvious…great people are expected to do great things. the community is at a much lower level, and to connect their behavior to an attack on what really amounts to a modern day erev rav (replete with idols at this goyishe festival on the holiest day of our year) sent by Hashem is hard if not absurd. rabbi feldman spoke well but not strongly enough about how lowly this festival and its goers was; an anathema to our holy Torah’s ways. eight wars in eighty years–one a decade–and this stiff necked nation refuses to budge from its secular value system one iota.

  3. Michael Halberstam says:

    I don’t kmow who Mr. Hill is. But his fundamental presumption is that Rabbi Adlerstein cant possibly be right in his interpretation of what Rav Shternbuch said. Unless he knows for sure that he is right, his argument is an attempt to turn a serious discussion into a game. Haven’t we had enough of that already?

  4. Michael Halberstam says:

    Please note that in my previous post I meant to say. I don’t know who Mr. Hill is.

  5. william l gewirtz says:

    The Gri’z ztl makes explicit what I have felt was implicit in his nephew’s formulation that our response is not why but what should I do. Unfortunately, after meaningless assertions, telling us why is all too common.

  6. Happy says:

    There is no contradiction between Rav Feldman’s message and Rav Shternbuch’s. The Torah and Neviim enjoin us to blame ourselves for our misfortune, and teach that the wickedness of one can affect even his neighbors. But the Neviim also rebuke their fellow Jews for their sins and warn them of the impending doom that their sins will bring. Rav Feldman is not denying that our wrongdoing contributes as well (although he would definitely disagree with Rabbi Adlerstein’s interpretation of the wrongdoing!) He is just speaking the obvious Torah hashkafah out loud in a way that other rabbonim may not feel it is necessarily appropriate to do so in this generation. נהרא נהרא ופשטיה.

    • MK says:

      To Happy.
      You are very generous towards Rabbi Feldman, but he did NOT assume that the Navi would point to any shortcomings on our part. He assumes that the sin of Zionism is sufficient to explain the tragedy.
      The hashkafa that he expresses is not obvious at all. It begins with his confidence that he can “know” what the Navi would say. Other Gedolim, past and present , did not share that confidence. In addition, his anti Zionist attitudes are much stronger than most Litvish Gedolim, past and present. That includes Rav Ruderman, the founder of the Yeshiva that he heads.

      • nt says:

        I’m not sure about your claims regarding Rav Ruderman, zt”l. His Talmidim say that he felt the Satmar Rav was philosophically correct, although he disagreed in practice about making post-hoc accomodations with the medina. (When asked if the Alter of Slabodka was a Zionist, he replied “A Zionist? He was frum!”)

        Rav Feldman is much more outspoken, but as someone who was zocheh to hear him speak many times, I honestly could have written much of that letter myself. It is entirely in line with what Rav Feldman has been saying for decades, and also well within the consensus of the yeshiva of Ner Yisroel.

        It is also the Occam’s razor analysis of what happened on Oct. 7, IMHO. It does not lessen the pain, or mean that I do not suffer along and pray for all the Jews in Israel. Rav Feldman’s yeshiva has been saying tehillim for the people of Israel daily for decades. But we must always remember that שחת לו לא בניו מומם דור עקש ופתלתל/ the destruction is not [G-d]’s, it is the result of the generation’s flaws.
        See also the second Ma’amar of Rav Aharon Kotler for the days of Sefirah (Mishnas Rav Aharon vol. 3)

    • Ben Waxman says:

      The Neviim were speaking to their own people. Yeshayahu was a cousin to the king. Yermiyahu was a cohen and spoke about the corruption of the Beit HaMikdash. While it is true that Amos went from Tekoa to the Shomron, most neviim spoke locally (the Shomron king expelled Amos because he was a stranger). There was none of this “us and them” that is part and parcel of the chareidi world today.

    • Happy says:

      To Rav MK. It is true that in this piece, Rabbi Feldman did not point to shortcomings on our part. But I believe you need to look at the broader context of Rabbi Feldman. I assure you that in his capacity as a Rosh Yeshiva and community leader, he rebukes his own community as well. He also does not claim to “know” what the Navi would say, just what he thinks is likely the Navi would say. I am not sure what your point is about his anti-Zionist ideology. His message resonates even without an anti-Zionist ideology. There are plenty of religious Zionists who agree with the message.

      To Rav Ben Waxman. I am not sure where you got the impression that Rabbi Feldman considers secular Israelis to be a different people. His view of the secularists is the same as the Neviim regarding their countrymen, as wayward brothers. If anything, the Neviim speak of the sinners of their generation much more harshly. I am also not sure about what you mean by “locally”. Rabbi Feldman lives in Israel, and is speaking locally (Also, although it it is true that most Neviim would speak locally, it’s by no means a rule. Elisha of Israel rebuked King Yehoram of Judah. Yeshaya and Yirmiya of Judah spoke of the Kingdom of Israel. Hoshea of Israel spoke of the Kingdom of Judah. Yechezkel in Babylonian captivity spoke of Yerushalyim. Michah of Judah spoke of Shomron. Not to mention all the Neviim who spoke of other nations. But this is just an interesting side point.) I also don’t know what you mean by ‘there was none of this “us and them” that is part and parcel of the chareidi world today.’ The Neviim didn’t differentiate between the Torah observant and the idolaters? That does not seem to be the case at all. There were some righteous people and communities in the times of the Neviim, and the Neviim spoke of them very differently.
      וְהָיָה הַנִּמְלָט מֵחֶרֶב חֲזָאֵל יָמִית יֵהוּא וְהַנִּמְלָט מֵחֶרֶב יֵהוּא יָמִית אֱלִישָׁע׃
      וְהִשְׁאַרְתִּי בְיִשְׂרָאֵל שִׁבְעַת אֲלָפִים כָּל־הַבִּרְכַּיִם אֲשֶׁר לֹא־כָרְעוּ לַבַּעַל וְכָל־הַפֶּה אֲשֶׁר לֹא־נָשַׁק לוֹ׃
      (I Kings, 19:17-18)
      לָכֵן כֹּה־אָמַר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי צְבָאוֹת אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הִנְנִי מֵבִיא אֶל־יְהוּדָה וְאֶל כָּל־יוֹשְׁבֵי יְרוּשָׁלִַם אֵת כָּל־הָרָעָה אֲשֶׁר דִּבַּרְתִּי עֲלֵיהֶם יַעַן דִּבַּרְתִּי אֲלֵיהֶם וְלֹא שָׁמֵעוּ וָאֶקְרָא לָהֶם וְלֹא עָנוּ׃
      וּלְבֵית הָרֵכָבִים אָמַר יִרְמְיָהוּ כֹּה־אָמַר יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל יַעַן אֲשֶׁר שְׁמַעְתֶּם עַל־מִצְוַת יְהוֹנָדָב אֲבִיכֶם וַתִּשְׁמְרוּ אֶת־כָּל־מִצְוֺתָיו וַתַּעֲשׂוּ כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּה אֶתְכֶם׃ (ס)
      (Yirmiyah 35:17-18)

      • Ben Waxman says:


        There is a huge irony in that the navi who you quoted in Melachim was told, right after he said those words, “Go appoint your replacement”.

        Of course the neviim differentiated between the sinners and the righteous. What Rav Feldman did was to equate the righteous with his particular group. He and others have done this time and time again.

        Yirmiyahu was a huge ohev Yisrael who put himself with the sinners.

      • Happy says:

        To Rav Ben Waxman. I’m not sure what the irony is. Are you denying that the Neviim were intended to rebuke the nation, and in many cases did so much more harshly than Rav Feldman? Do you think every time Yirmiyah rebuked the Jewish nation harshly, he was asked to step down?
        Rav Feldman did not equate the righteous with his particular group in that letter, any more than the Neviim did, unless by “particular group” you mean Torah observers. I assure you that Rav Feldman is a huge Ohev Yisrael as well, and is deeply pained at the situation of his wayward brothers.

      • nt says:

        Those aren’t the words for which Eliyahu was replaced. And it is Hashem talking there, not Eliyahu. You keep denying what anyone who even listens to the haftaros knows is true: the Neviim were against idolatry and warned the people of the Churban to come if they did not repent.

      • Ben Waxman says:


        I don’t deny the seriousness of those sins. I do deny that Rav Feldman is able to state or assume what the neviim would say. I also deny his fundamental assumption, that 7/10 is is inexplicable without bringing in a punishment, a warning from God.

      • nt says:


        Rabbi Feldman isn’t claiming to be a Navi, but it is a basic tenet of Judaism that no Jew suffers needlessly. If it wasn’t a punishment/correction from G-d, then it was wanton cruelty. Do you consider that a better alternative? Please just listen to yourself.

      • Ben Waxman says:


        “Rabbi Feldman isn’t claiming to be a Navi,”

        Correct but he wrote that one can assume that a navi would say the following. I deny that assumption. I mean, maybe a navi would say that. Or he would lash out at the corruption in many of our state and religious institutions. Or maybe something else entirely. Who knows?

        “If it wasn’t a punishment/correction from G-d, then it was wanton cruelty. Do you consider that a better alternative? Please just listen to yourself.”

        I want to take a step back. I am not going to get into a discussion of hashgacha which is way too big for this forum. I will stick to what Rav Feldman said. He wrote that it is impossible to understand 7/10 without bringing in God’s intervention. He says that right at the start.

        To that I say, yes, we can explain what happened without bringing in God. These types of military disasters have happened before in history, both Israeli history and world history in general. Over-estimating your strengths and under-estimating the enemy, misreading the enemy’s intentions has happened time and time again. The horrible result of this type of shoddy thinking is no more of a deviation from nature than a heart attack is when someone overeats, smokes, suffers from hypertension yet refuses to do anything about his lifestyle.

        Is God being cruel when we act arrogantly and ignore what is staring us in our face?

        Now if someone does want to claim that such a huge event must be a result of God’s intervention and we must do a chesbon nefesh, OK, I am all in favor of being a better person and better community. But then we get back my first point which is that I deny Rav Feldman’s ability to point a finger at secular Israel as being the root cause of the calamity.

  7. Ben Waxman says:

    What I really don’t understand is what did Rav Feldman think would happen when he wrote this paper. This paper has gotten almost zero attention in Israel. What little attention it got was in the Chareidi press and social media, and even that was extremely limited. The discussion amongst American Orthodox Jews is far, far greater.

    Given that, what is the point? How does this help anything if the only discussion is within communities not described in the paper?

  8. Leonard Oberstein says:

    After Rabbi Feldman decided at the last minute to oppose the rally in DC, I was beyond distraught. My in laws Chester and Rosalyn Siegel were extremely close to Rabbi and Mrs Joseph Feldman, his parents They made sheva brochos in their home for me and Feigi. I wrote to Rabbi Emanuel and told him that I do note believe his own parents agreed with his brother. He responded , because we have a very long relationship, that he doesn’t ant to comment as to my claim but he advised me to speak to Rav Aharon directly. I wish hhis remarks could be interpreted as his own personal beliefs and have zero, nothing whatsoever to do with Ner Yusrael.

    • Shades of Gray says:

      “After Rabbi Feldman decided at the last minute to oppose the rally in DC, I was beyond distraught”

      Of interest is a shiur from R. Elchanan Adler of RIETS titled “How Underlying Attitudes Affect Our Value Judgments on Israel and the Washington Rally” where he discusses Zionism-related issues including the Washington rally. R. Adler mentions R. Aharon Feldman’s letter on the Washington rally starting on page 100 and respectfully disagrees with it, beginning by saying “I was very saddened and disappointed by the letter.”
      Some excerpts from his presentation:

      — I think that what is often lost in all of this discussion is that between the two extreme outlooks there exists a wide spectrum, and you don’t have to be completely on one end or on the other(p. 97).

      — You can attend the rally and recognize the fact that it is addressing a large spectrum of people. They’re going to sing Hatikvah, even if you don’t join in”(p. 101).

      — You can have a view which is very extreme, but you have to honestly define it as such. It’s essentially a da’as yachid. It’s not the mainstream, and this has been proven; I’ve heard this time and time again. In fact, there were many bnei Torah and bnei Yeshiva who attended the rally(p. 102).

      — Back in 1949, Rav Ruderman invited Rav Zev Gold, the head of the Mizrachi, as the guest speaker at the 6th Chag Hasmicha in Ner Yisrael(p. 98).

      See audio and transcript of the shiur:

      • nt says:

        Rav Feldman’s view is mainstream in the yeshiva world. The people from Lakewood I’ve spoken too are way more anti-Zionist than Ner Yisroel. And critically, he opposed the rally because it included Christian pastors, not because of Zionism.

      • Shades of Gray says:

        “Rav Feldman’s view is mainstream in the yeshiva world…critically, he opposed the rally because it included Christian pastors, not because of Zionism”

        RAF objected both to the Christian pastor as well as  to the secular Zionist element of the rally including the singing of Hatikvah, critically, even if it was a case of pikuach nefesh( “However, on the morning of the rally I saw that the program had two elements which pikuach nefesh does not override”). 

        Considering the rally  as effectively yehoreig v’al ya’avor on a mass level — protecting Israel — does not strike me as mainstream even in communities which have expressed  ideological hostility towards Zionism(RAF does go on to say “[t]here would have to be another way to help the Jews of Israel”). Dovid Lichtenstein, for example, respectfully questioned both objections of R. Feldman’s letter in his 11/25 Headlines program about the rally, according to the version I downloaded.

        Regarding Pastor Hagee, he asked if someone would call up a Rav about a sheilah whether Hatzolah can go to the scene of a bad  bus  accident where thirty people are in critical condition and it’s pikuach nefesh, but Pastor Hagee is speaking about his love for Israel and it’s unknown what else he might say. It’s hard to imagine that a Rav would tell Hatzolah not to go(Dovid Lichtenstein goes on  to quote the Noda B’Yehuda about a  level of “pikuach nefesh omeid lefanecha”).

        Regarding Zionism, Dovid Lichtenstein pointed out  that according to the online minutes of the 1967 rally which the Roshei Yeshiva attended, Hatikvah was sung and danced to by young people.

        He mentioned that he in fact invited R. Feldman to discuss his letter on a future Headlines program(see first 15 minutes of original version). However, that section discussing R. Feldman’s position appears to have been edited out of the version currently posted online.

      • nt says:

        Self-correction: It was both the Christian pastor and the secular Zionism of the rally. Here is his letter explaining his previous support and subsequent retraction:

      • nt says:

        Are you seriously putting up a podcast host against a member of the Moetzes as a counter-example? (One who isn’t considered mainstream yeshivish by the way, but even if he was…)

        The example of Hatzolah is frankly, silly. Going to a place where someone happens to be preaching for an incidental reason is nothing like purposefully joining a rally which prominently features a preacher. The former is incidental, and the latter is clearly being explicitly supportive. If Mr. Lichtenstein wants to be helpful, he should not make lazy emotional arguments.

      • Shades of Gray says:

        “Are you seriously putting up a podcast host against a member of the Moetzes as a counter-example? (One who isn’t considered mainstream yeshivish by the way, but even if he was…)”

        I mentioned Dovid Lichtenstein not as an halachic authority but because of the substance of his arguments which strikes me as demonstrating that the mainstream position, even among non-Zionist gedolim, is that the rally was certainly not yehoreig v’al ya’avor as mentioned by R. Elchanan Adler.

        Whether its host is stereotypically yeshivish or not, Headlines exposes the community to the views of a large spectrum of rabbonim, from the likes of Rav Moshe Sternbuch or a Talmid muvhak of Harav Elyashiv, through YU roshei yeshiva and leaders of the OU. As I mentioned, the host also invited Rav Feldman to discuss his letter about the rally on a future Headlines program.

        “The former is incidental, and the latter is clearly being explicitly supportive…he should not make lazy emotional arguments”

        Dovid Lichtenstein was not merely arguing from intuition. He mentioned the Noda B’Yehuda’s teshuvah on autopsies about a level of “pikuach nefesh omeid lefanecha” in connection with the rally, Pastor Hagee, and the Hatzolah thought experiment.

        As far as the Hatzolah thought experiment, assuming that incidental vs. explicit is indeed a difference, simply tweak the case to an explicit situation of listening to Pastor Hagee speaking about his love for Israel, which I believe was his intent as well. It is likewise hard to imagine that a poseik would rule that its yehoreig v’al ya’avor for Hatzolah to save the lives of many in such a situation.

        Regarding the Zionist overtones, Dovid Lichtenstein pointed out that according to the online minutes of the 1967 rally which the Roshei Yeshiva attended, Hatikvah was sung and danced to by young people.

        As a practical matter, Rav Feldman was not saying that anyone needs to die, since he wrote “there would have to be another way to help the Jews of Israel.” But he is ruling that going to the rally would not override pikuach nefesh, which doesn’t sound mainstream even in non-Zionist circles. Part of the controversy was also that what might have been understood properly in the Ner Yisroel beis midrash was understood by the broader public as an anti-Zionist criticism in time of war.

      • nt says:

        Are you seriously putting up a podcast host against a member of the Moetzes as a counter-example?

        Apparently the answer is yes, because you think he’s more reasonable, so therefore that means it is the majority opinion somehow.
        And it doesn’t matter what the Pastor said, the point is it is incidental to saving the life.
        And it very much was anti-Zionist criticism, or really of secularism broadly. And Rabbi Feldman’s point is we must learn the lesson of Hashem’s punishment or ch”v it could get worse.

  9. Steven Brizel says:

    There is no secret that R A Feldman has a long and documented record as being not just against serving in the IDF , dismissing the Torah learned in the hesder yeshivos and also being against any kind of joint efforts in support of Israel , let alone a positive view of the importance of the presence of the State of Israel in Jewish life. . WADR, noone has nevuah today, but sechel hayashar exists, and as RAE ZL stated when faced with a very difficult passage in the Gemara , Rashi or Tosfos-HaShem Heir Es Einai-IWhiile the Charedi communities in the US especially have said their tehilim and in the case of Passaic organized missions, One can argue and maintain that one sees way too little evidence of being Noseh Bol Chavero by the same communities in terms of organizing misssions, or going as individuals and giving and receiving Chizuk just from visiting friends, spending money that helps the economy and helping those affected by the war. It is tragic that the only issue that reminds this community about the existence of the war other than what is presented in the American issues of Yated and Mishpacha is the draft issue.

    • Lacosta says:

      the draft issue is ironically the one issue that the haredi community is called on to not sit on the sidelines like reuven and gad, when the opportunity to kampf against the government requires storming the bastions….

  10. Steven Brizel says:

    One can argue that the issue pre 10/7 was that of Machlokes and Sinas Chinam by a secular opulation that today truly are Tiniokos Shnisba. WADR, such an article is an exercise in theodicy and Richuk as opposed to Kiruv .In 1977, the JO published an article by R Hutner ZL that blamed the rise of secular Zionism for the Holocaust and the Arabs. One can raise many questions as to the historical analysis presented in the article, but a great Talmid Chacham who survived the war told a dear friend of mine once that if R Hutner ZL was a survivor of the Holocaust, he would never have written such an article.

  11. Steven Brizel says:

    One should note that many MO communities , RY, rabbanim and yeshivos don’t just say Tehilim but have been on multiple missions for Chesed and Chizuk. One looks in vein for any such organized efforts by the Charedi world in the US .

  12. Benshaul says:

    I don’t know if there is an absolute contradiction between the message of Rabbi Felman and the point of Rabbi Adlerstein.
    Both are true, but directed at different audiences.
    However, The question is if Hashem sends message’s to the non- religious community.
    In general, our tradition is that such events are a message – usually directed to the observant community. In my ignorance- other than sending prophets- I am not aware of chazal interpreting events as being for the non-religious community.
    That being said, it doesn’t make the message – as per Rabbi Feldman interpretation- less true.

    • nt says:

      The words “other than” are doing a ton of heavy lifting considering they are dismissing all of the Nevi’im. How much more explicit can you get? See also Maseches Bava Basra 8a: רַבִּי לְטַעְמֵיהּ, דַּאֲמַר רַבִּי: אֵין פּוּרְעָנוּת בָּא לָעוֹלָם אֶלָּא בִּשְׁבִיל עַמֵּי הָאָרֶץ

  13. Steven Brizel says:

    Perhaps R Feldman should have gone to Machaneh Shura, the IDF based wherre the Chevra Kaddisha of the IDF deals with the Taharah of the victims of 10/7 . Listen to this shiur, and see how
    R Asher Weiss , whi has been answering many halachic queries posed by the IDF rabbinate, went to that area and kissed the blood stained Tzitis of a Chayal .

    • Sam says:

      Be careful how you speak about our Gedolim. You also clearly don’t know the Rosh Yeshiva. But he cares for every Jew and surely cries over the spilled blood of every soldier. Do you know that he had made sure there were sedorim added to yeshiva schedule for a zechus for the soldiers? Do you know that he helped compose a tefila for them?
      Be careful not to put your hashkafa before the halachos. The blatant disrespect for a talmid chachom on this site is abhorrent . I would urge you, the other commentators as well as the author of this blog himself to rethink these comments.

      • Steven Brizel says:

        The RY is on record as saying that if the status of Charedi bachurim is changed with respect to IDF service that he would have no hesitation about leaving the country. His public statements are replete with a complete disdain for any positive spiritial value of the State of Israel and even advising that letters not be wriiten in support of Chayalim because it might lead to “idolizing” chayalim, a position that R Asher Weiss rejected very forcefully

  14. Lacosta says:

    i think the war has proven , that except for a few hasbara type haredim , like r adlerstein or rosenblum, the rift will be greater than ever. all of Israel should have come to realize that [ in the words of jesse jackson] , the haredi world is at best involved in the State, while all others are committed . seeing pashkevilim calling eg the community to mobilize to the streets for draft issues –using moshe rabeinu’s words to Gad and Reuven -, here contexualized to continue their Separate but Superior status. Does anyone believe Mashiach could even begin remotely to bind these rifts?

  15. Mother of Torah Scholar Soldier says:

    What would the Nerviim have said? Why don’t we look at what they DID say? There are no nevuot about losing Eretz Yisrael because of the length of one’s sleeves or skirts.. The area many nevuot in which HaShem says that he has no injuries in our Shabbatot, Chagim ot tefillot if we are not nice to each other / trample others’ rights.
    When the city of Beit shemesh spent tax money collected from people who work (and therefore do not have 90% discount ) to take yeshiva guys to an amusement park , it’s is impossible to count on how many ways thids tramples the people who do not have bein hazmanim, who arre juggling their own Torah observance, parnassa and 5 months of military duty.
    The hareidi establishment has s succeeded in making Torah hated by many.
    There is absolutely no excuse for any Jew to excuse himself from military service, end he lives in Israel or elsewhere – האחיכם יצאו למלחמה is just as true for Jews who choose to live outside Israel.
    As for Rav Hutner, previous the opposite is true perhaps the Holocaust was a punishment for not returnng to Eretz Yisrael when HaShem was clearly inviting us Home אין לך קץ מגולה מזה. We don’t know why HaShem allows things to happen. What we do know is that each of us should be reading Yirmeyahu and Yeshayahu, and checking where i myself personally am doing wrong.

    • nt says:

      There are no nevuot about losing Eretz Yisrael because of the length of one’s sleeves or skirts..

      Because they were too busy warning about losing Eretz Yisrael to Avodah Zarah.

    • Lacosta says:

      i thought the holocaust , in haredi theology , was due to the Haskala / secularism/zionism /nationalism /socialism —- the latter two causing National Socialism to wipe out jewry. if anything , going to eretz yisrael was kept by secular socialists…..

    • Steven Brizel says:

      I don’t think that either Charedi based or RZ based theodicy type arguments are helpful in offering a rationale for the Shoah-both suffer from views of history that are not rooted in the historical realia of the 1920s and 1930s-the issue remains as William Gewirtz-stated in a paraphrase of RYBS-what is our obligation as individuals and as a community.

    • Yosef Hirsh says:

      That is not accurate.
      There are explict pesukim that refer to the daughters of Israel acting immodestly

  16. MK says:

    To Happy
    Sorry but when Rav Feldman addresses his community, he did place blame on the frum community for the tragedy but he limited it to those who don’t share his extreme anti Zionist hashkafa and overly embraced the Xionist enterprise. This included R Asher Weiss and R Berkowitz who encouraged
    participating in the elections of the Zionist Congress .
    While Religious Zionists as well as other Chareidi gedolim agree that the State of Israel is deeply flawed, they simply would not say the things that he says

    • Happy says:

      To Rav MK,
      I am not talking about this tragedy in particular, which he is blaming on the non-religious, but about in general, in his speeches and in his capacity as a Rosh Yeshiva, I have heard him blame tragedy on the sins of his community. Unsurprisingly, they are all the sins that “rationalists” would disagree with, like bittul Torah, lack of tznius, loshon hara, etc.

      Just because others wouldn’t say the things he says in public doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t agree with the message. Through my blog, I am in contact with multiple people in the Dati community who have expressed agreement with him. Rav Feldman is willing to say truths that others would consider inappropriate to speak about publicly.

  17. Steven Brizel says: see the remarks by R Willig who also very recently was at Machaneh Shurah

  18. Dr. E says:

    The essay simply reiterates legacy broygiss and is an exercise in historical gaslighting from 2-3 generations ago toward the Medina and the IDF. It intellectualizes what has been close to 8 months of multiple-layered trauma and pain for Am Yisrael. I am waiting to see any narrative that expresses in any way some level of empathy toward victims of October 7, the Hostages, the fallen Chayalim, the wounded Chayalim, the fighting Chayalim, the Chayalim who are learning Torah during battle, and the families of all of the above. And if that is too heavy of a lift, maybe just recognizing that those individuals and groups exist would have been a win. I don’t think that any of the affected individuals would find solace in either what the Neviim said, may have said, would have said, or what they should have said. But, they might have expected leaders of non-profit institutions to remain non-prophet.

  19. mb says:

    I have a better source than Gedolim for seeking blame. My source is even better than the Profits, and they are a hefty source to outsource!
    It’s God Itself. Throughout the Torah God says don’t murder, rape or kidnap. God spoke, nobody listened. God never said anything about opposing Zionist enterprises, either. Quite the opposite.

    • nt says:

      You could argue that the first Zionist enterprise was the Mapilim, the ones who said עלה נעלה וירשנו אותה. Moshe Rabbeinu said just because you want to go to Israel, does not mean you have G-d’s support. The land of Israel is not more important than listening to G-d’s commandments. And if there is a decree of exile, trying to undo it by force will not be successful.

  20. Michael Lipkin says:

    Sorry, but these are not the words of a “gentleman and a scholar”, they are, ironically, indistinguishable from the words of an Islamist Cleric.

  21. Shades of Gray says:

    “Nonetheless, Yonah did not attribute the cause of the tempest to the sins of all the others on board the ship. He attributed the fault to himself”

    The Gri”z’s application of Yonah attributing the cause of misfortune to himself  was preceded by a somewhat similar Meiri,  who said it in the context of  the Gemara’s statement that “no punishment comes to the world except because of Yisrael”(Yevamos 63a). Dayan Berel Berkovits quoted and explained the Meiri in  his article “Questions, Answers and Silence: Reflections on the Tsunami” published in the Summer 2005 Jewish Action, excerpted and linked below:

    “The Meiri says:  A person should always accept upon himself the justice of punishment that befalls him, and should understand [contemplate] that all that happens to him, is “a storm that is because of him.” He should not make allowances for himself, saying, “I am OK, so how could such-and-such befall me?” because if he is indeed a tzaddik, Hakadosh Baruch Hu is more exacting with him to cause him to fear and to keep him away from any evil path. This is what [Chazal] meant when they said: “Punishment only comes to the world because of Yisrael,” meaning, to cause them to fear and do teshuvah. There is an allusion to this in the pasuk: “I destroyed their streets, so that none pass through; I said—surely you will fear me, and learn a lesson.”

    The point of the gemara, according to the Meiri, is not to give an explanation of what appears to be the unjustified suffering of the goyim (“they suffer so that we should become better”), but to reinforce the altogether different message that our own suffering should be viewed as a justified punishment for our failings. The focus is on us and our inadequacies, not on them and their punishments.”

    The original Meiri quoting Yonah’s words is referenced below:

    לעולם יצדיק אדם את דינו ויתבונן כי כל המתרגש עליו בשלו הסער ואל ישא פנים לעצמו לומר צדיק אני והיאך קרני כך שכל שהוא צדיק הב”ה מדקדק עמו ליראו ולהשיבו מכל דרך רע ולכונה זו אמרו אין פורענות באה לעולם אלא בשביל ישראל ר”ל כדי ליראם עד שישובו רמז לדבר החרבתי חוצותם מבלי עובר אמרתי (אז) [אך] תיראי [אותי] תקחי מוסר

  22. MK says:

    NT questioned my assertion that Rav Feldman’s strong anti Zionist position was not shared by other Litvish gedolim, including Rav Ruderman. He says that Rav Feldman’s opinions are well within the consensus of Ner Yisroel.
    Rav Feldman said that the participating in the rally in Washington was a matter of “pikuach nefesh” which would over ride the prohibition of joining with groups not loyal to the Torah.
    But he ultimately withdrew his support for attending when it became clear that there would be “praising the Zionist entity, including the singing of Hatikvah”.
    To him, that concern pushed aside pikuach nefesh.
    Here is a first person account from Rav Moshe Brown, arguably the greatest talmid of Rav Ruderman, a man who knows “Kol hatorah kula”.

    To quote Rav Moshe Brown, Rosh Yeshiva of Far Rockaway, from an audio recording:
    In 1967, when I was in Baltimore, I saw my rosh yeshiva, Rav Ruderman ztz”l, how he dealt with an eis tzara, with the war of ‘67. And I can tell you that it was not possible to talk to him that week. There was no eating, there was no sleeping… And then, of course, they had a rally in Washington, and I don’t know the exact number, but it was well into six figures, the number of people that participated, including ALL the yeshivos, all with their Roshei Yeshiva. Including, I remember, Philadelphia went, led by Rav Elya Svei himself. Telz came with its Roshei Yeshiva. There was no chiluk (divisions) – right, left, center, it didn’t make any difference. EVERYBODY went.

    • nt says:

      What in Rav Brown’s statement contradicts anything I said? Of course Rav Ruderman (and Rav Feldman) was concerned about the safety of Jews. So was the Satmar Rav. And as for the rally in 1967, it presumably did not have the same problems this did. Rav Feldman would have supported it, as he initially supported the recent one.

  23. MK says:

    Again to NT.
    With all respect, would Rav Feldman agree with Rav Ruderman on this?

    Rav Lau mentions that when he met with Rav Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman zt”l, the rosh yeshivah was talking to someone about whether it was permissible to have a Magen Dovid in a shul (as there was a machlokas whether a particular shul should allow this).

    Rav Ruderman said in Kovna, this was a common practice and therefore it was not a problem. When one of the people in the room argued that this was before the founding of the State of Israel, the rosh yeshiva said, “What’s bad about the state? It saved many Jews from death. It opened the gates of Aliyah to people with nowhere to go. Please leave the paroches as it is. The Magen Dovid is not treif. The man is correct. There is nothing wrong with it, and you can tell that to the people in the shul in my name.”

    • nt says:

      I am going to trust Rav Ruderman’s recorded remarks and the opinion of his Talmidim first and foremost. I can understand that Rav Ruderman was fine with the Mogen David, but I’m going to need some hard documentation to believe these exact remarks.

  24. Sam says:

    Dear Rabbi Adlerstein,

    While you have an opinion. Please be careful about sharing your thoughts on public matters. Our torah leaders are the Enei Heidah and by writing publicly on a blog you open for people to bash our gedolim. Responses like ” Sorry, but these are not the words of a “gentleman and a scholar”, they are, ironically, indistinguishable from the words of an Islamist Cleric.” No matter how much you disagree with him should ver be said. This format is lifnei iver to to its readers and commentators. Please think twice before you write an article like this. This is no worse than a soap box or social media.
    If you have issue with the Rosh Yeshiva’s ideas please call him yourself and discuss. Opening up a dialogue like this no matter how you start your opening paragraph is not with in your stature as a talmid chacham and community person disagree in a format like this..

    • Chana Siegel says:

      I have never seen Rav Adlerstein be anything other than careful when sharing his thoughts on political or “intramural” issues.

      • David Farkas says:

        Wonderful but did you have anything substantial to offer in response to Sam’s warning against Lifnei Iver? Considering that you heartily seconded Menachem Lipkins offensive comment, I’ll assume that this doesn’t trouble you, but it should. Every G-d-fearing Jew should be very concerned with these prohibitions regardless of how much they profess to love the State of Israel. Your Zionist loyalties don’t override the serious prohibitions against לשון הרע and ביזוי תלמידי חכמים.

      • C V May says:

        Can u print the tefilah that was composed for the Chayalim? I haven’t come across it.
        Sincerely, Caren May

      • C V May says:

        There is such a thing as discussion s & analysis. Most of our past & present magazines: Jewish Observers, Mishpacha, Inyan, Torah phamplets , etc. are full of disagreements, different daas, etc.

        Rabbi Adlerstein touches on controversial thoughts, letters & situations in a sensitive & respectful derech.

    • Michael halberstam says:

      Can one understand what you are saying to mean that one. Who subscribes to this blog cannot express any opinion unless it conforms to your standards of what may be said. If so we should not discuss anything

    • Dr. E says:

      Sam: Are you implying that all Torah leaders are Einei Haeida? And by extension, would all Einei Haeida be unimpeachable? Would there not be any red lines that individuals in that category might cross by what they say or write–based on shaky theology, inaccuracies in metzius and Halachic application, extreme ideology, political considerations, or lack of empathy, that would put them out of bounds? You seem to imply that there is either immunity from disagreement or academic freedom that protects all members of the Einei Haeida, no matter what.

      • David Farkas says:

        This is quite rich coming from someone who is too afraid to put his real name out there lest he be subject to criticism from others. At least Rabbi Feldman is unafraid to do so.

        Sam’s point wasn’t that disagreement is off-limits, that’s quite clear from reading his words. He specifically highlighted a comment like Menachem Lipkin’s which disparaged Rabbi Feldman’s character. Not only is a comment like that outright lashon harrah, it carries an added dimension of ביזוי תלמיד חכם. On top of that, given the fact that Rabbi Feldman is widely seen by a large swath of the Orthodox community as a leader, there’s a separate problem of diminishing the words of the עיני העדה.

        Thus, while everyone is entitled to their opinions and even to express them in a respectful manner, one must exercise special caution when laying the opinion of someone like Rabbi Feldman out there, criticizing it, and invited others to do so as well, knowing full well that many of them would disagree with Rabbi Feldman on whether Shabbos falls out on the seventh day of the week were they given the chance.

        I believe that this was his intent and it’s one that I heartily agree with although I believe that Rabbi Adlerstein as well is a gentleman and scholar.

    • William Lawrence Gewirtz says:

      Sam, Torah leaders disagree. Disagreement is not to be avoided but valued; it helps refine our thinking on issues. Eilu ve’eilu divrei Elokim Chaim means that multiple opinions can be consistent with our traditions.

      However, imho certain rabbinic pronouncements can be outside the pale. R. Feldman’s may be one such example.

      • Sam says:

        With all due respect to the author he is not a Bar Plugta with the Rosh yeshiva.

      • William Lawrence Gewirtz says:

        do you have a source for having to be a bar plugta? Mi’Talmidai yoser mi’kulam directly negates your point. I assume that talmidim are rarely if ever ba’alei pelugtot of their rebbeim.

        IAC, your response was not to what I posted.

  25. MK says:

    To Happy
    “Just because others wouldn’t say the things he says in public doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t agree with the message. Through my blog, I am in contact with multiple people in the Dati community who have expressed agreement with him.”
    I’m honored that you assume that I am “Rav”!
    It is impossible for a Dati community member to agree with R Feldman. While in this most recent letter he places the blame on the non religious, he has clearly said those are religious but embrace the Zionist Enterprise are also responsible, perhaps even more than the non religious who don’t know better.
    Have you heard through your blog that these Dati people accept responsibility for the October massacres?
    Do they agree when he “proves” his theory with the fact that G-d spared those who are “religious”? Is their community, which has payed such a high price, not religious?
    Do they agree when he he is on record that we should not daven specifically for the soldiers? Or that day school students should not be encouraged to write letters of chizuk to soldiers because it would lead to “idolizing” the soldiers, or a lack of appreciation for the power of their own learning?
    Do they agree that such an articulate leader who “says what others won’t say”, will not say one word in appreciation for the mesiras nefesh of Dati soldiers for their putting their lives on the line to defend Klall Yisroel (together with the learning in the Yeshiva world!) as well as their grabbing every opportunity to learn Torah?
    Do the widows of these soldiers “agree with Rav Feldman” that their husband’s mesiras nefesh did not contribute to the protection of Klall Yisroel?
    Happy, Rav Feldman should certainly be respected , but I don’t think you do him or anyone else a service by denying that he has adopted a virtual Satmar approach and is not merely brave enough to say what others hesitate to say.

    • Happy says:

      Rav MK,
      I must admit I don’t understand your confusion. I said that I know of multiple religious Zionists who agree with Rabbi Feldman’s position expressed in this particular letter. That doesn’t mean that they agree with each and every one of Rabbi Feldman’s positions vis a vis Zionism. This should be self-explanatory. The fact that somebody is a religious Zionist and disagrees with Rabbi Feldman about the merits of religious Zionism, doesn’t automatically mean he is ok with a secular Jewish state and with the desecration of the Torah by the non-religious Zionists (although in the case of too many religious Zionists, it unfortunately does). All your rhetorical questions stem from this basic error.

      • MK says:

        No “religious” Jew is “okay” with a secular state and the desecration of Torah.
        You don’t need Rav Feldman for that.
        The issue is what, if any, religious significance can we attach to the existence of the extremely imperfect State. A religious Zionist, be definition does so.
        Various Gedolim have / had a nuanced approach . Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky, for example, saw the Medina, with all it imperfection, as brought about by the Hashgacha.)
        To Rav Feldman, anything short of total, unqualified condemnation and dismissal, is a cardinal sin and may be responsible for the tragic suffering of October.
        Most people who read the last letter have seen others penned by him, as well as statements made by him, coupled with what he does not say.
        And they have created a a crisis of “faith” for many Bnei Torah who were trained to think and who were exposed to Gedolim of the past generation.
        They simply did not speak the way he does. And not because they lacked courage.

      • Happy says:

        Rav MK,
        I am glad to hear that. Since no religious Jew is okay with a secular state and the desecration of Torah, then they should have no problem agreeing that the clear words of the Torah and Neviim apply to the majority of Israel that is secular and is desecrating the Torah. That’s all Rav Feldman was saying.
        There is a separate, old dispute between chareidim and religious Zionists about what religious significance should be attached to the State. We all know what Rav Feldman’s position is on this, but that’s not what this letter was about, and is not what is implied. Just because you disagree with Rav Feldman on religious Zionism doesn’t mean you must object to every single thing that he ever said, including things that have nothing to do with religious Zionism or things that even religious Zionists ought to agree with.

  26. Steven Brizel says:

    One wonders instead of the strong Musar in the article where is there any sense of being Noseh Bol Chavero ? Where are the tears for those who have lost spouses children and fathers ? Is the preservation if the Charedi community the only issue that bothers R Feldman ?

  27. Yaacov David Shulman says:

    Even more basic, I think, is: where is the empathy? where is the love of a fellow Jew? the feeling of a shared destiny? of being a family? where is the pain? where is the comforting?

    • David Farkas says:


      Do you really believe you’ve seen all of Rabbi Feldman’s opinion on this matter in this one missive? Is it possible that he’s written and spoken far more than just this and in those mediums and on occasions he’s expressed empathy and pain?

      Anyone who knows Rabbi Feldman (and I don’t know him well but I’ve heard him and read his materials in the past) knows that he’s a very empathetic and loving individual. He devotes his days to Klal Yisroel that is rare. He’s cried plenty and felt the inner turmoil and pain that all of us have. But due to his role as a RY and leader in Klal Yisroel, he can’t just feel private pain and is bound instead by a duty to share what he believes is the intended message. That doesn’t mean that he lacks empathy.

      This shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out. It’s quite stunning to see the lack of ahavas yisroel on the part of the commenters on this forum. Such hatred for another Jew is unfathomable.

      If you found the previous sentences judgmental, perhaps you should reconsider what you yourself wrote just above. It’s no different. Both are wrong. And that’s my point.

      • Yaacov David Shulman says:

        I’d love to see where he writes about his love for all Jews, including soldiers. I can think of no better time than now to show that he is a leader in Klal Yisrael than to demonstrate love for all Jews, when so many Jews in the Holy Land are suffering and in pain. Can’t he say “I love you, I feel for you, but I disagree with you”? Can’t he say, “I’m coming to Israel to identify with you, to stand at the grave of a victim, of a soldier?” Can’t he say, “When you look at someone who is a talmid chacham, who wears a black hat, you are looking at someone who cares for everyone”? And “At a time when the whole world is so hostile to Jews in the Holy Land, I’m not going to be silent about my love for them”? Rav Kook could do it. The Lubavitcher Rebbe could do it. I believe that anyone who wants to can do it.

      • David Farkas says:


        Once again, you’re engaging in projection, not fact. The reason you know about the Lubavitcher Rebbe and Rav Kooks love for their fellow Jews is because you follow them closely and have translated their works. I can do the same for all of my own R”Y’s.

        You don’t follow Rabbi Feldman and therefore don’t know anything about it. Try following him, speak to his talmidim, read his works, and then decide whether or not it comes through in his writing and speeches. Otherwise you really wouldn’t love to see it because you haven’t spent any time doing researching it. Furthermore, it’s you who decided that there’s no better time to do so. He may not agree with you and may feel that other times were more appropriate. He’s not bound by your sentiments.

  28. Steven Brizel says:

    The real issues are the lack of being Noseh Bol Chavero and Ahavas Yisrael other than the saying of Tehilim and acting as life can and should go on as normal. Where is the sense of being there for parents widows, and children and severely wounded soldiers ? Self directed Musar shmuezen that don’t have Hakaras HaTov , that don’t include a sense of what we must do now, as opposed to theodicy and are built on a view of the events that show a disconnection from the facts on the ground WADR do not pass muster

    • Dovid says:

      Steven Brizel,
      You have evoked “Noseh B’ol Chavero” more than a few times in several talkbacks since last SImchas Torah, and IMO within the context as brandishing it as a weapon to criticize those ostensibly not in satisfactory fulfillment of this ideal. How exactly does one fulfill this? Apparently, and in your viewpoint, there are groups or perhaps communities who are accomplishing this more than others. What are the concrete examples, especially for those in Chutz L’Aretz? As you said “don’t include a sense of what we must do now”. So what must we do now? How does one avoid such dereliction of duty? Are those who do in fact say Tehilim regularly or pay better attention to shemiras halashon, or increasing learning in response to the eis tzara l’Yaakov doing something irrelevant or worthless (chalilah)? Please concretize these points.
      To echo David Farkas’ point, this sounds like another example of using a single missive to draw (jump to?) conclusions far beyond the scope of the missive.

      • Steven Brizel says:

        Why are there no missions to do the Cheded Shebeguffo such as Bikur Cholim, Nicham Avelim, and just helping the Israeli econom? When we will see your RY visit Machaneh Shurah?

    • Zundel Eysheshoker says:

      Boruch Yehuda walked down the street, on his way to his chavrusa and maariv. As he hurries along, he meets his old friend Yaakov Meir. Yaakov Meir’s face announces that he has not been having a pleasant day, and Boruch Yehuda has no choice but to stop and chat with his friend.

      Yaakov Meir pours out his heart to his friend, telling him that he is at his wits’ end. His wife could not let up with the nagging and moaning, and he was just fed up.

      “What does she nag you about?”

      “She tells me that I have to quit smoking. She cannot stand the smell, it is too expensive, and it’s dangerous. What does she want from me? I enjoy it too much, it’s way too hard to quit. What does she expect me to do now?”

      Boruch Yehuda can be ‘nosei be’ol’ with his friend and tell him that it is indeed terrible that his wife bothers him that much. He can tell him that he deserves his cigarette after a long day at work. He can advise him not to allow his wife to bother him that much.

      True nesi’a be’ol.

      Or not.

      • Nachum says:

        Yes, because being attacked and massacred, and fighting and dying to defend the Jewish people, is *exactly* the same thing as someone who doesn’t want to try to quit smoking and blames his wife.

        Really, can you take a second to see what you’re writing? Do you care how ugly it is?

  29. Dear Sam, and others,

    Our mesorah is not follow blindly, especially when gedolim stake out radical positions. All the more so when their positions conflict with those gedolim we heard from and saw with our own eyes, of the previous generation!
    Our mesorah is to ask questions, of course in the spirit of לשם שמים and with respect. Please see the following mekoros regarding asking questions on gedolei Torah (thanks to Moshe A), including references from Rishonim, Rav Chaim Volozhin, and Rav Moshe Feinstein.
    To shut down any mode of questioning is precisely what cults do.

    ביטול דעת לגדולי תורה ולחלוק על רבנים וגדולים =>

    תוס’ (נדה יד:) – “מצינו הרבה תלמידים שחולקים על רבם בילדותם”.
    פסקי מהרא”י (סי’ רלח’) – “שאם ההוראות ברורות קצת כדברי התלמיד, והכי אזלא צורתא דשמעתא, למה לא יחלוק על רבו, והלא כך היתה דרכה של תורה מימי התנאים”.

    הרא”ש (שו”ת כלל נה’ סי’ ט’) – “כי תורה אמת היא, ואין מחניפים בה לשום אדם”.

    שו”ת רבי ישיעה (סי’ סב’) – “אך זאת אתי, שכל דבר שאינו נראה בעיני, אפילו אי אמרה יהושע בן נון, לא צייתנא ליה. ואיני נמנע לומר הנראה לי לפי שכלי, ואדרבה בעדותך נגד מלכים לא אבוש”.

    שו”ת חוט המשולש (לר”ח מוולוז’ין – סי’ ט’) כתב “הלא אני הקטן שמשתי את הכה”ג נ”י בהיותו במדינתינו. ומחויבני בכבודו ומוראו כמורא שמים על אחת כמה וכמה. אבל אני שומר פי התלמוד הקדוש שהורנו הדרך הזה בפרק יש נוחלין (דף ק”ל ע”ב) דא”ל רבא לר”פ ולר”ה ברי’ דרב יהושע תלמידי’ כי אתי פיסקא דדינא דידי לקמייכו וחזיתו בי’ פירכא כו’ עד אין לדיין אלא מה שעיניו רואות. והנה דינא דידן אתאי לקמאי לדין אם יש לסמוך על ספק דלא בעל. ועיני לא ראו את הספק הזה כלל. ואולם [אם] הייתי בסנהדרין הייתי דן בחנק ע”פ הך חזקה דדרך איש ואשה לבעול. יאמר נא ירא ה’ היתכן לי לסמוך על פסקא דדינא דמו”ר דחזינא ביה פירכא טובא”.

    ועיין עוד ברוח חיים (אבות א’, ד’) שכתב “ואסור לו לתלמיד לקבל דברי רבו כשיש לו קושיות עליהם. ולפעמים יהיה האמת עם התלמיד וכו’. אבל עכ”ז יזהר בנפשו מלדבר בגאוה ובגודל לבב באשר מצא מקום לחלוק”.

    יביע אומר (ח”ד או”ח -דברי פתיחה) בשם יעב”ץ (שו”ת שאילת יעב”ץ ח”א ס”ס ה’) – “שבודאי רשאי התלמיד לחלוק על רבו, ע”פ הוכחות וראיות בין בכתב ובין בעל פה”. ילקוט יוסף (דרך פסיקת ההלכה פרק יב’), שו”ת רדו”ז (ח”א תצה’).

    אגרת משה (או”ח ח”א סי’ קט’) – שכתב שרשאי ומחויב לחלוק על גדולים. ע”ע אגרות משה (יו”ד ח”ג פח’, יו”ד ח”א קא’) – שמתיר אפי’ לחלוק על ראשונים.

    • Steven Brizel says:

      See also the comments of R Akiva Eiger ZL that I pointed out earleri. No lesser than R Elchanon in Kovetz Shiurim quoting R Chaim Brisker states that an Amora can disagree with a Tana. It is equally settled that Acharonim have the right to disagree with Rishonim . Clearly, that which was Mutar decades ago may be Assur today and vice versa-that is how TSBP works on issues of Halacha and Hashkafa

    • Shades of Gray says:

      “Our mesorah is to ask questions, of course in the spirit of לשם שמים and with respect”

      The quote from the Ruach Chaim is one of the sources which encapsulates this(I first heard it from a YTV talmid who had heard it in one of R. Norman Lamm’s lectures in the Jewish Center in the ’60s or ’70s). 

      Ruach Chaim is interpreting the phrase in Avos “become dusty in the dust of their feet” from  “hisabeik,” wrestle, and in light of  “making wise one’s teacher,” one of the 48 ways through which the Torah is acquired.  A little fuller quote is  “and it is forbidden for a student to accept the words of his rabbi when he has questions on them. Sometimes, the truth will be with the student, as a small piece of wood kindles a big piece.”

      ואסור לו לתלמיד לקבל דברי רבו כשיש לו קושיות עליהם ולפעמים יהיה האמת עם התלמיד, וכמו שעץ קטן מדליק את הגדול

      The analogy of  a “small piece of wood etc” seems to be a reference to Taanis 7a(see Rashi there about “constant questioning”):

      מָה עֵץ קָטָן מַדְלִיק אֶת הַגָּדוֹל, אַף תַּלְמִידֵי חֲכָמִים קְטַנִּים מְחַדְּדִים אֶת הַגְּדוֹלִים. וְהַיְינוּ דְּאָמַר רַבִּי חֲנִינָא: הַרְבֵּה לָמַדְתִּי מֵרַבּוֹתַי, וּמֵחֲבֵירַי יוֹתֵר מֵרַבּוֹתַי, וּמִתַּלְמִידַי יוֹתֵר מִכּוּלָּן

    • Sam says:

      Our mesorah is not to bash gedolim on social media. Choose your Gadol what ever world you live in whether it be Charedi to Modern Orthodox. Not one reputable true Gadol would approve of what is going on this blog. Call Rav Shmuel Kamentzky, Cal Rav Herschel Schecter choose your person. He will tell you that you are not a Bar plugta of the Rosh Yeshiva and this is a disgusting way to have a one way dialogue. Call him in a respectful manner first to aplogize and then ask him your questions.

  30. Steven Brizel says:

    The Meshech Chachmah relates that you can fulfil every Mitzvah by studing the halachic details of every mitzvah. Milchama is clearkly a mitzvah that affects the individual and the community in many different ways and so do Ahavas Yisrael, Onnaas Devarim and Machlokes-buy and learn this sefer from cover to cover as a Tikun for the horrible machlokes and sinas chinam that existed pre 10.6,.

  31. David Farkas says:

    Chaim Goldberg,

    “Our mesorah is to ask questions, of course in the spirit of לשם שמים and with respect.”

    Did you read the example he provided? Does that sound like asking a question with respect?

    Your mekoros are worthless unless there’s respect and sadly, with too many of the commenters, respect has never been part of the equation.

    • Sam says:

      I could not agree more. I ponder that if Rabbi Adlerstein were reading these comments he would first apologize himself to the Rosh Yeshiva and the call out the comments of the commentators to be improper and keneged our mesorah.. I am positive that Rabbi Adlerstein never thought people would be speaking like this. As a reader I respectfully ask him to put commentators in their respective place.

    • Chaim Goldberg says:

      I’m not commenting regarding what other commenters write. I’m commenting regarding Rav Adlerstein’s article, which I believe was completely legitimate and, frankly, quite necessary. במקום שיש חילול השם אין חולקין כבוד לרב. The hubris of claiming to be a Navi today (let’s face it, for all intents and purposes, that is the essence of Rav Feldman’s piece), is staggering.
      That particular comment I agree was out of line, but for the most part, I find most comments on this blog to be written with the requisite respect.

      • David Farkas says:

        What is staggering to me is that you have an issue with Rabbi Feldman trying to apply the words of the Neviim to modern times when that is exactly the reason they were written down in the first place. For him not to do would be a dereliction of his duties.

        One need not be a Navi to understand how they would view the events of October 7th which for all their horror, are sadly not all that unusual. We’ve experienced many similar horrific tragedies and our Neviim and Gedolim gave us clear guidance on how to view them.

        If you have an issue with how he presented it, that’s your prerogative of course, but he’s free to do so if he feels it’s more effective that way. I, for one, was very inspired by his words as were many in my circle, but we don’t have an axe to grind so we might be more receptive from the start. Upon viewing it, I certainly didn’t set out to ask Rabbi Feldman where my lost donkeys can be found because it was self-evident that he wasn’t claiming to be a Navi.

        Bottom line – Instead of picking on Rabbi Feldman, or on his lack of sufficient empathy, do you have a bone to pick with his message? If yes, feel free to share, but stop with character assassination which is what so many comments feel like. Rabbi Adlerstein respectfully stated his opposition to the message, but he did not engage in it. The comment section, sadly, did not adopt his approach.

    • Chaim Goldberg says:


      Of course there are issues with the content of the message. There are so many alternative possibilities to explain which problems in Klal Yisroel led HKBH to allow such a massacre (I’ll list some below). As such, declaring to know exactly which issue it is is an unwarranted hubris, presumes nevuah, and in fact goes against the Gemara. תנו רבנן משמתו הנביאים האחרונים חגי זכריה ומלאכי נסתלקה הנבואה מישראל (סנהדרין יא). (Yes, I realize he issued a qualifier….but to then proceed to speak literally as though from the mouth of HKBH nullifies that qualifier).
      Of course, we always need to learn a message from disasters–not to would be אכזרי, as the Rambam says. The Rambam also makes clear that *we* need to learn a message regarding *our own* failings, not blaming others’ failings.
      Alternative possibilities:
      1) Everything Rav Adlerstein wrote.
      2) As the size of the army had shrunk and the community of lomdei Torah grew significantly since the last major attack, maybe there was a message to lomdei Torah.
      3) As the Neviim also point out, avodas Hashem Bein Adam l’Makom is not worth much to Hashem when not accompanied by Bein Adam l’Chaveiro. Unfortunately, much of the Israeli chareidi community is lacking in bein adam l’chaveiro, certainly vis-a-vis people outside the chareidi community.

      Lastly, I wonder why Rav Feldman did not provide what the neviim would say as to why Meron happened, or the Har Nof massacre. Based on his theology, the conclusions there ought to be pretty clear (aka, the chareidi community has distorted ratzon Hashem).

  32. YL says:

    David Farkas,
    You said, “Rav Feldman felt the need to speak out.”.
    The issue is that other Roshei Yeshiva (e.g. YU) did not feel a need to write such a letter, so one can question the “need” for us to hear his point of view on the matter.
    Or, put another way, Rav Feldman is welcome to share his views with his yeshiva but he should not expect the rest of Klal Yisrael to agree.

  33. David Farkas says:

    Yaakov David Shulman,

    “I’d love to see where he writes about his love for all Jews, including soldiers.”

    Have you actually made an effort to locate his writings and speeches and determined that he’s failed to do so? Surely you haven’t. I’ve heard from a number of his talmidim that he has spoken with great passion regarding the victims of terror, their families, and the soldiers of the IDF and expressed much pain over their loss.

    He does not need to visit Israel and stand over their graves. I’m sure you haven’t either, but even if you had, that’s hardly the litmus test of empathy. I’ve chosen to avoid all sweet foods and cakes as a means of feeling along with them, given large sums to support the widows, among other things. Others have done it in their own way. The Lubavitch Rebbe and Rav Kook would have done it in their own way. But one thing I can guarantee, neither of them would have cherry-picked the words of Rabbi Feldman and criticized him on a blog without knowing anything else about him. You may have translated their works, but I question whether you’ve translated their middos into action.

    • Sam says:

      I am a talmid and you are 100% correct. His passion and actions and pain are there.
      Not everyone needs to go on a March or visit Gaza to show their pain. Hundreds of extras hours of learning davening and other Kabbolos are good enough for me.

      • Steven Brizel says:

        Is R Feldman of the opinion that this war as in the prior wars waged by Israel is a Milchemes Mitzvah with Halachic ramifications?

      • David Farkas says:


        Any reason you consistently avoid the points being made to you in favor of raising completely unrelated points?

        Sam made an excellent point refuting much of what you said and your response is a question about Rav Feldmans views on something else altogether. How about responding to what Sam wrote.

    • Yaacov David Shulman says:

      Shavua tov. I didn’t cherry pick his words. I looked at the words that he has publicized. If he has said other things in secret or for his inner circle, that doesn’t change his stance as a public leader. I’m also concerned about whom he is trying to reach and why. If he is trying to reach out to non-chareidim, his words–as you can see here, at least–are taken to be insensitive and hurtful. If he is trying to reach out to chareidim, he is simply encouraging them to look down on non-chareidim not as brothers but as “others.”
      Imagine a family where one son has gone on a path that the father disapproves of. That son believes that his father is rejecting him. The other children tell him “No, our father really loves you and is even crying over you. We think so anyway–although we ourselves didn’t hear anything about that from him. But he can’t tell you about because that would undermine his policy.”
      To you, who are part of the chareidi world, Rav Feldman really cares about non-chareidim. To non-chareidim, it sure doesn’t feel like it!

      • David Farkas says:

        He wrote this to his talmidim. Not to you, not to Rabbi Adlerstein, not to non-charedim, and not to anyone in YU.

        Rather, in the manner of all respected RY who are looked to by their talmidim, he shared thoughts with them that they could appreciate. If you have a problem with how it will be received by the broader public, take it up with those who brought it to light such as the blogmaster.

        I too, received a copy of this letter and I have a platform as well, but I did not share it with my platform because I rightly sensed that many within it would not appreciate the message. But as a rebbi to his talmidim, he is well within his right to say it.

        And just because those without a yeshiva background won’t appreciate it or feel his sensitivity, that doesn’t change the facts that his words are poignant, thought-provoking, and likely very correct.

        As someone who spent his life translating the works of Rav Kook and others, surely you are aware that there are many who take issue with many of the things he said and some might find them downright objectionable. Nevertheless, you chose to focus on those who would appreciate and be inspired by them. But what about those who wouldn’t? You clearly chose to do it regardless because not every message will resonate with every audience.

        But Rabbi Feldman, the Charedi RY, does not enjoy the grace you offer yourself and Rav Kook. Got it.

      • Check your facts. Your contention is absolutely without foundation. The letter was intended for general distribution.

      • nt says:

        I assume the letter was for general distribution because his Talmidim already know that he thought that way. (As I mentioned before, I could have written much of it myself.)
        As for offending people, I am sure he realized it would have that effect on some people, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be said. It is the job of a leader (and like it or not, he is one) to weigh the costs and benefits of actions. I assume Rabbi Feldman felt the need of the public to understand the theodicy of the war correctly outweighed the feelings of those who would be offended.
        Another Rebbe in the yeshiva (in an entirely different context) once gave the example of an addict. Their actions are harmful, but if you point it out, they get defensive. Does that mean you tell them their actions are good? Obviously not. It might offend them, but the price of offending someone who is harming himself is occasionally justified.

      • Nachum says:

        nt: He’s not their leader, and his words will have zero positive impact.

      • nt says:

        nachum: He is a leader of large parts of the Chareidi world, and his words will impact them strongly. Obviously, in Rav Feldman’s view, that is a positive thing.

    • Steven Brizel says:

      It is not an issue of cherry picking Simply because R Feldman has a long and documented history of articles that minimize the spiritual importance of the State of Israel negate the importance of device in the IDF and question the presence of Talmidei Chachamim and Ameilus BaTorah in hesder yeshivos. One can seriously say that talk is cheap unless you have been there or planning to go to Israel to do Chesed Shebegufo yourself as mentioned both by R Willig and R Shay Schachter with respect to the visit of R Asher Weiss to Machaneh Shurah

      • David Farkas says:

        Thank you Steve for so eloquently illustrating the broad and accepting views of so many on this forum.

        As I gather from the commenters here, there are only a limited number of ways in which one can be nosei b’ol with the Israelis. Let me see if I can enumerate them here for the benefit of those of us who mistakenly thought that there are multiple ways of doing so.

        1 – Visit the site of massacre. Anything less is unacceptable.
        2 – Visit shiva homes of fallen soldiers.
        3 – Visit Shura.
        4 – Join the protest in Washington.
        5 – Post pro-Israel comments on X.
        6 – Pick tomatoes on a kibbutz in Israel. Extra points if it’s a kibbutz suffering a shortage of workers.

        Did I miss anything?

        Here are some forms of non-nosei b’ol that are falsely labelled by some as being acceptable:

        1 – Learning extra sedarim of Torah every day
        2 – Reciting tehillim after each teffilah
        3 – Davening for the IDF soldiers and hostages while not at a protest
        4 – Contributing large sums of money to help victims and families of fallen soldiers
        5 – Trying to extract meaningful spiritual lessons from the tragic events of Oct. 7th.

        I gotta say, it’s a heckuva shame that the second list is so worthless because that’s what so many well-meaning people in the Charedi world have done to excess. Someone really needs to inform them that they’re missing the boat. It can’t remain a secret only for those brave enough to visit this blog.

    • Chaim Goldberg says:

      “He wrote this to his talmidim. Not to you, not to Rabbi Adlerstein, not to non-charedim, and not to anyone in YU.”

      This is empirically false. It was written to a secular Israeli audience (as the language makes clear), and was originally published on a secular news site.

  34. Dovid Moshe says:

    Excuse me if this has already been answered, but what is Rabbi Adlerstein’s heter for not listening to the Gedolim concerning their psak about who should go to the army? There are undisputable sources in Torah and Chazal that say to believe in and trust the Gedolim of every generation.

    • william l gewirtz says:

      Are you seriously not aware of gedolim who said that serving in the IDF is not just permitted but an absolute chiuv?

      • Dovid Moshe says:

        I am speaking of Litvish Gedolim that have a mesorah from the Grah and are selected by our Rosh HaYeshivas. From my understanding, that is who Rabbi Adlerstein follows. If that is true, then my question remains: What is Rabbi Adlerstein’s heter to not listen to the Gadol Hador?

      • I am completely on board with following Gedolim. I defend it, and preach it. No white space there.

        However, there are a few points worthwhile considering. To begin with, I have a hard time wrapping my head around what mesorah there is that Litvish gedolim – to the apparent exclusion of others – have from the Gra. Is it that we are not chassidim? It can’t be about Zionism – too many people in Volozhin (including Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer) were active members of a Zionist cell. Secular studies? Nah. No unanimity there? Can’t be about mussar, since there were practically wars in Lita between the pros and cons. Derech HaLimud? Mention Rav Shimon Shkop around some Briskers, and they get apoplectic

        There is definitely no mesorah from anyone that it is Litvishe Roshei Yeshivah who select our Gedolim – unless you mean the practice of the last few decades within the Litvishe world. By inspection, those who are now celebrated as key Gedolim, i.e. members of a Moetzes, are not uniformly known for being stellar talmidei chachamim. Especially in the US. We can point to a good number of names (which we will not do, of course) whose seforim either have not been written, or won’t be learned by many people.

        More importantly, the Gedolim whom Chazal call einei ha-edah need to be more than stellar talmidei chachamim. They need to have stellar understanding of metziyus, and of people. Unfortunately, that rules out a few more candidates.

        Maybe more than a few. But not all, BH. that leaves gedolim around for individuals to draw close to, and be mekabel eitzah (and tochachah!) from. We might add that it is perfectly fine for people to look up to gedolim from other groups. Which means, for example, that products of Litvish yeshivos just might follow non-Litvish gedolim

    • YS says:

      It seems to me to be pretty self-evident that intelligent people need to be responsible for their decisions. That includes deciding who their Gedolim are. And that means that if someone who is a respected Talmid Chacham and who we were brought up to believe is a Gadol to be followed, does or says things that may be beyond the pale, we have a responsibility to reevaluate our attitude towards that person, at least in terms of how ‘blindly’ we follow them. That doesn’t mean we should be disrespectful to them (unless they say or do truly despicable things), but it does mean we need to be able to reconsider the extent to which we consider them to be our leaders.

      I guess this is another way of complaining about the way Chareidim in Israel are essentially hiding behind the Gedolim when attempting to justify their refusal to share the military and economic burdens of the Jews in Israel. The justification for this practice, by an extremely large and growing part of the population, in terms of classical Halachic sources, is absurdly weak. But it’s actually quite strong if you view the Gedolim as the sole interpreters of Halacha for the community. This is where reasonable and intelligent people need to be asking themselves whether they are following the right people, allowing the right people to make these tremendously important decisions for them. When the decisions being made are in violation of basic human decency (and also clearly not justified by classical Halachic sources), it’s fair to demand of intelligent people that they stop hiding behind their appointed Gedolim and reevaluate whether they are following the right ones.

      • Nachum says:

        Unfortunately, people choose their gedolim based on which ones say the things they want to hear. Lots of charedim are very happy to find an “out”. Who wouldn’t?

        Well, some people wouldn’t. Like the ones backpacking in Peru who could have said, “Sorry, no flights back…” But they didn’t.

      • Happy says:

        Au contraire. The demand that everybody to serve in the military (to the extent that those making the demand actually hold of that), in terms of classical Halachic sources, is absurdly weak. This is why typically, instead of classical halachic sources, the ones making the demand rely on non-halachic sources such as האחיכם יבאו למלחמה ואתם תשבו פה, or non-Torah sources such as שוויון בנטל, or simply demands for fairness (“why is your children’s blood redder than mine?!”) Nothing remotely classically halachic. See Slifkin’s entire blog.
        The letter from Rabbi Sheilat is a rare exception, but no chareidi would find it convincing.

      • We may be getting closer to one of the key issues that divide us: the need for everything important in avodas Hashem to be couched in the terms of “classic Halachic sources.” While those sources will always remain the most important, it is not clear to all of us that they are both necessary and sufficient. Sometimes, I believe, HKBH expects us to follow an inner voice. It’s kind of a Daas Torah, writ small, because it applies to all ovdei Hashem. I think that midrashim are brimming with examples. I will only mention now (having not done the Daf yet) the first example that popped into my head. I don’t believe that Chizkiyahu could have found any “classic Halachic source” unequivocally instructing him to have the nation sing shirah. Yet his not realizing that it was the thing to do cost him the role of Moshiach. The non-halachic sources you cite – even including shivyon hanetel – just might resonate so deeply in a Jewish heart not closed off by self-interest and obfuscation, that they are compelling

      • Nachum says:

        Happy, pay attention in shul this Shabbat when the Torah is read.

      • Happy says:

        Rabbi A- I don’t think this is the issue that divides us at all. I believe you misunderstand me. We both agree that not everything needs to be couched in classical halachic sources. Indeed, I was just responding to Rav YS who was noting that the draft exemption has no classical halachic sources, so I merely noted in response that a universal obligation to serve also has no classical halachic source. But I agree that there is more to this than halacha. There is indeed a value of fairness in the Torah, and a value of האחיכם יבאו למלחמה ואתם תשבו פה, and a value of “is your blood redder than his?”, despite the fact that these are not necessarily halachic (at least in the context we are talking about).
        But these are not the only Torah values. There is also תלמוד תורה כנגד כולם. There is also the פך השמן הטהור. There is also ממית עצמו באהלה של תורה. There is also תורה מגנא ומצלה. There is also מרבה ישיבה מרבה חכמה. There is also והגית בה יומם ולילה. There are also many values that are counter to fairness, to שוויון בנטל, etc, such as the fact that the Leviim didn’t serve.
        There is also an “inner voice”, as you say. But the problem is, everybody has their own inner voice. And of course, everybody will think their own inner voice is not obfuscated by self interest, G-d forbid, but yenner’s inner voice is hopelessly distorted by self interest, that selfish guy! So the inner voice will not by itself resolve this matter, unfortunately.

        -Reb Nachum. This is exactly what I mean by non-halachic source. Telling somebody to look at a non-halachic pasuk that says כל יוצא צבא is a primary example of non-halachic.

      • Glad to learn that we are not so far apart on this. I would push back against your “everybody will think their own inner voice is not obfuscated by self interest, G-d forbid.” It is likely that everbody has this tendency, and that everyone need to consider it in arriving at conclusions. However, it is not different from countless other situations in which the Torah obligates us to take stock of our negiyos, understand where they might lead us, and take them into account. The existence of negiyos rarely, if ever, allows us to recuse ourselves from the inner discussion. In the end, we must decide whether the inner voice we hear is born of those negiyos, or has real Torah substance. I believe that many, many people in the Anglo charedi world are hearing – and validating – inner voices that are completely inconsistent with the “party line.”

      • Shades of Gray says:

        “We may be getting closer to one of the key issues that divide us…While those sources will always remain the most important, it is not clear to all of us that they are both necessary and sufficient.”

        The Charedi world certainly holds of the concept of meta-halachic intuition(though I can’t think of an example of  “Daas Torah, writ small”). R. Avi Shafran, for example, was quoted about women clergy in terms of tznius, “there is nothing in the Shulchan Aruch about keeping a cat in the aron kodesh. It’s technically permitted but it’s wrong to do” (see “RCA, Rabbi Weiss agree: Todah, no Rabba,”Jewish Star, 3/3/10 ;  R. Avrohom Birnbaum of the Yated actually first made this cat analogy, IIRC).

        In “If There Is No ‘Da’at,’ How Can We Have Leadership?”(see Hebrew and English articles linked below),   R. Aharon Lichtenstein spoke of  “empathy and humanity” as a requirement for Daas Torah and of the need on the part of the Gadol being consulted for “understanding the world and soul of the person who stands in front of him.”  I think that all agree with RAL on this, as R. Adlerstein commented earlier about a Gadol needing a  “stellar understanding of metziyus, and of people.” 

        The key issue which I see as  bedeviling us in an era of internet communication is that diverse  communities have different needs and, therefore, different leaders. R. Aharon Feldman has often attempted to reach out far beyond his talmidim in Ner Yisroel(eg.,  on the Torah and Science controversy), but even in the makeup of the Agudah world itself, there  is diversity as seen regarding the recent Washington rally, for example, as discussed at the past Agudah convention by R. Lopiansky. To quote from R. Lichtenstein’s above article contrasting earlier times, ” in that earlier era, there were only a few gedolim, but everyone turned to them. This was in a large part due to the deep attachment that existed between the community and its leaders. The connection between them was natural.” Again, I think that all agree with RAL at least on the need for the natural  connection between a community and its leaders.

        Regarding “classic Halachic sources,” it’s interesting that there have been criticisms of both the right and the center even regarding actual halachic issues. R. Efrem Goldberg wrote in “The Center Must Hold”(see link below from Tradition 2019’s “Rupture and Reconstruction” issue), “historically, posekim communicated halakhic positions through responsa that included sources, analysis, and argumentation to defend their conclusions…In a private conversation, one world-class authority on medical halakha shared with me his frustration that just a generation ago he would bring complex issues to posekim who would expend great time and energy seeking to understand the intricate details of the question… More recently, he bemoaned, he poses the complex issues of our time and receives one-word responses or at most one sentence rulings without a willingness to entertain an effort to examine the process that led to said conclusion…”

        On the other hand, MO has been criticized in one instance for a lack of formal ruling as well. Back in the 1992 issue of the Torah U-Madda Journal,  R. Yehuda Parnes responded to an article in which R. Shalom Carmy had responded to him by quoting a private ruling of R. Soloveitchik. R. Parnes then wrote in response(see his article’s conclusion, linked below) that  R. Carmy was certainly conducting himself within halachic bounds by following a private ruling of the Rav enabling him to freely study kefirah, but that such conduct was at the same time,  inconsistent with the Rambam’s hora’ah in Hilchos Avodah Zarah. Instead, R. Parnes argued for the need for a “classical format of a she’elah u-teshuvah” from a recognized Torah authority to decide the issue for Torah u-Madda advocates.,-and-to-Shalom-Carmy%5D

      • Nachum says:

        Happy: Yes, I’ve gotten the “We don’t learn from Tanach” line so often, even from famous rabbanim, that I was expecting that response. Sigh.

        What do you think Tanach is *there* for? To be ignored?

        And yes, halakha can be an avoda zara and an excuse. The Orthodox left has been using it that way for a while, and I see they have company on the right.

      • Happy says:

        Reb Nachum- I never said we don’t learn from Tanach! In fact, in this thread I was defending Rabbi Feldman who is doing just that. I was just saying that narratives in Tanach are not classical halachic sources, unless they are used by Chazal in that specific context. But I agree that even without them being classic halachic sources, they are still meant to be learned from. Of course, the same is with aggadah, such as the Ramban at the end of Shemittah vYovel. But speaking to your specific point, I think from the broader context of Tanach, we don’t see that all people served in the military. In most wars, including defensive wars, it was only a minority of the nation. Furthermore the Ramban shows how כל יוצא צבא doesn’t just mean military. So I think even as a non-halachic source, this is weak. שוויון בנטל is a better argument.

  35. MK says:

    To David Farkas:

    “Have you actually made an effort to locate his writings and speeches and determined that he’s failed to do so? Surely you haven’t. I’ve heard from a number of his talmidim that he has spoken with great passion regarding the victims of terror, their families, and the soldiers of the IDF and expressed much pain over their loss.”

    I don’t believe he has expressed the pain you refer to in his writings, which are made public.
    Perhaps ask his talmidim why he will not express that pain publicly so that the people who are in pain, like the widows of fallen soldiers, can be comforted by his words.

    • David Farkas says:

      Except that you’re mistaken.

      “Sam May 31, 2024 at 11:44 am
      I am a talmid and you are 100% correct. His passion and actions and pain are there.
      Not everyone needs to go on a March or visit Gaza to show their pain. Hundreds of extras hours of learning davening and other Kabbolos are good enough for me.”

      Unless everyone has to follow your mode of expressing pain, he’s done his fair share of it. Apologies on his behalf if it doesn’t meet your high standard, but there are other ways of doing it besides for visiting the site of the Nova festival and sharing images on Facebook.

      • MK says:

        This is not so complicated. I would simply ask one of Rav Feldman’s talmidim who have first hand seen the pain that he feels for the soldiers who have been killed and for their grieving families, to complete this sentence.
        However, he will not express this pain publicly, although it would be a source of tremendous comfort to those grieving families because…

        And he opposes davening specifically for the soldiers who are in constant danger, although he recognizes their mesiras nefesh and feels the pain of families who constantly fear “a knock on the door” because…

        I look forward to them filling in the blanks.

      • Steven Brizel says:

        Sam wrote in relevant part:

        “Not everyone needs to go on a March or visit Gaza to show their pain.”
        We live in strange times-the media that serve our communities advertise tours to Europe whose cities, rivers and plains are drenched with Jewish blood from the Crusades through the Holocaust and are the locus for such tours for yeshiva and seminary students. Yet, seeing what happened in EY and doing Chesed Shebegufo for our brothers and sisters is rationalized via the dubious rationale of Efshar SheYaaseh Al Yidei Achareim

      • Dr. E says:

        David Farkas:

        Why the need for two parallel A and B lists? Efsher l‘kayeim shneihem, especially with the recent month-long Bein Hazemanim and for those who are now protesting against the Draft and obviously have time on their hands.

        Let me offer two relevant Halachic paradigms here:

        Bikkur Cholim: There are two aspects, one is visiting the individual to daven for the person. The second is going to attend to his needs.

        Nichum Aveilim: The objective is obviously to visit and provide conform to the avail. But, there is sechar for even just sitting there.

        For both of these, there has been a long-standing discussion in the Teshuvos as to whether these mitzvos can be performed remotely. The consensus is really not, certainly not ideally, if being present is within range.

        The tzad hashaveh here and for many things in Yiddishkeit, you gotta “show up”. That means in-person, both literally and emotionally. Of course there is value to your List B. But, simply checking those boxes does not mean that absolves one from items in List A.

        So, when for some in the Chareidi community, the optics of empathy represent an ideological and political acquiescence to the “opposition”, then we have a serious problem. That is accentuated when it’s during a war with all of its layers of trauma—not to mention during Sefira which was a time when Rabi Akiva’s talmidim died for not respecting one another. I challenge you to justify the Halachic exemption from being “nosein ol” in-person (List B) based on what comes down to ideological and political considerations.

        By the way, just a small correction to the swipe at those picking tomatoes to help save the parnassa of a religious farmer who observed Shmitta. For me, it was actually hydroponic lettuce grown to be bug-free and therefore adhere to the highest kashrus standards. I hope that I do in fact earn extra points when that head of lettuce is available in the supermarket for you.

      • Dovid says:

        Conflating organized tours of Eastern Europe with your personal psak of chesed she’b’gufo is just a false dichotomy and founded on assumptions and baseless associations. You are assuming that tours of Europe (which I personally hold is a waste of time and money – but at least kivrei Rishonim is not akin to visiting a site where avodah zara was openly displayed) are done by “Charedim” who b’shita are also opposed to your personal psak on how nosei ohl b’chavero is accomplished. OK, how have you personally fulfilled nosei ohl b’chavero b’hidur l’chumra with chesed she’b’gufo where the Charedim/Yeshivish are ostensibly coming up short? With no intended sarcasm, was it through R’ Willig’s shlichus, and your personal connection to R’ Willig is motzi you? Or were you actually there in Machane Shura yourself?

  36. Steven Brizel says: See R Willig’s article re his visit to Machaneh Shurah

    • Dovid says:

      Does R’ Willig and other poskim at RIETS posken that the only means to be yotzei nosei ohl b’chavero is to visit Machane Shura (and the other items you shortlisted) or is this a case of leveraging their commendable example to push a personal POV?
      Reminds me of a story attributed to the Chasam Sofer during a seudas praida with talmidim leaving the Pressburg yeshiva:
      “If you say my divrei Torah in your name, that’s forgivable. If you say your own divrei Torah in my name, that’s unforgivable”.
      BTW, regarding aiding the economy. Many in my kehila, despite anxious feelings about the situation, encouraged their sons to learn at Brisk, Mir, Yagdi, and similar yeshivas in Yerushalayim because they felt it was right and doing otherwise would be akin to abandoning Eretz Yisroel. While it’s not likely the prime goal, every bochur’s presence, schar limud, dirah rental, and other expenses pumps cash into the economy.

  37. David Farkas says:

    Rabbi Alderstein,

    “Check your facts. Your contention is absolutely without foundation. The letter was intended for general distribution.”

    I did originally and I was told that it was not, but it’s possible that my source is incorrect. Curiously, I received it from a YU talmid, not a NI talmid. He explained that it was not for public consumption and shared that he would never share it with his YU chevra because they’ll likely not appreciate it.

    If my source is incorrect, I stand corrected.

    • Ben Waxman says:

      If the letter was meant only for a limited audience, the Ner Yisrael people, than I am at a total loss to understand what is the point of it all. To go back to the comparison with the prophets – they shouted their words publicly, at the top of their voices. What good is supposed to come from a letter sent to American Chareidim describing how secular Israel is sinning? How is that suppose to help bring about change?

      • David Farkas says:

        A few points to consider:
        1 – Rabbi Feldman has a very wide following in EY as well as in the US because he spent decades there and is widely respected.
        2 – As Rabbi Adlerstein pointed out, this was intended for more than just his talmidim.
        3 – The most important point is that Rabbi Feldman was not only criticizing the secular Israelis. The criticisms extend to every single Jew because we are all responsible for one another and if there are secular Israelis, that means that the religious populace in and out of EY are also deficient in their behavior. His call was for all of us regardless of affiliation to repent and change. Avreichei Kollel need to learn more, Bochurim in yeshiva need to learn more, working people need to learn more, all of us need to work on our middos and yiras shamayim etc.
        The shame is that so many missed this critical point. I know many people in the Charedi world who have taken many improvements upon themselves because they understand the meaning of his letter and similar letters. Rather than argue over it’s alleged insensitivity, his alleged insensitivity, and everything else, they understood that all is not well in any of our camps and all of us must do teshuvah.

      • Chaim Goldberg says:

        David Farkas,

        I don’t think most people here arguing over its insensitivity or its assumption of knowing what Hashem intended missed the critical point. We all know that we need to do teshuva, and speaking for myself at least, and I assume many others, we have strove to make changes in our lives. The key word there is “we”. We have been doing cheshbon hanefesh regarding our own behavior. Rav Feldman’s letter was primarily focused on others’ behavior.
        Another key difference is that we see other avenues to change in our avodas Hashem beyond only “to learn more”.
        Lastly, perhaps consider that there are inherent issues in the frum world. I would suggest there are countless more inherent, direct issues than just the existence of secular Israelis .

        Respectfully, looking forward to a response on my above comment regarding the content of Rav Feldman’s letter.

      • David Farkas says:


        I’m not sure if this is what you’d like me to comment on, but in the event that it is, here are my thoughts:

        “I don’t think most people here arguing over its insensitivity or its assumption of knowing what Hashem intended missed the critical point. We all know that we need to do teshuva, and speaking for myself at least, and I assume many others, we have strove to make changes in our lives. The key word there is “we”. We have been doing cheshbon hanefesh regarding our own behavior. Rav Feldman’s letter was primarily focused on others’ behavior.”

        I respectfully disagree regarding the focus of his letter. The issues he focused on are mentioned clearly in the Torah as a cause for our being expelled from the land which, I assume, is why he chose to focus on them and not the fact that some people aren’t makpid on Chalav Yisroel. This behavior is primarily found among a certain group of people but the message is far broader.

        “Another key difference is that we see other avenues to change in our avodas Hashem beyond only “to learn more”.”

        Absolutely agree. It was an example on my part and always going to be the first place that Charedim will turn, but there are certainly additional ways.

        “Lastly, perhaps consider that there are inherent issues in the frum world. I would suggest there are countless more inherent, direct issues than just the existence of secular Israelis .”

        Perhaps and perhaps not. There aren’t many things about which the wrote ותקיא הארץ אתכם. It should certainly be high on everyone’s list.

        If you wanted me to comment on something else, please advise.

      • Ben Waxman says:

        1) Rav Feldman may have a following in the Israeli chareidi world but in the DL and secular world he is unknown. I mentioned his name to some 20 highly educated DL men – yeshiva rabbanim, teachers, high tech people. None of them heard of him or his paper. See the next point.
        2) Whether or not it was meant for the general public, the message didn’t reach them. It received the barest of coverage in the chareidi press and no coverage what so ever in the DL and secular prerss. Likewise, in social media there was almost no discussion about it.
        3) None of what you said was in RF’s article. It was directed at secular Israel and secular Israel alone. He made it clear that the religious world was spared and only the non-religious Jews suffered. I will add that there are more problems in the religious world than “we don’t learn enough” but I will stop here.

  38. Steven Brizel says:

    OTOH, and WADR, R Feldman’s views on Israel, secular and Religious Zionism , etc are documented in these articles. 1)READ: Rav Aharon Feldman Shlit”a Explains Why He Retracted Endorsement of Israel Rally – VINnews

    READ: Rav Aharon Feldman Shlit”a Explains Why He Retracted Endorsement o…
    BALTIMORE (VINnews) — The Ner Yisroel Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Aharon Feldman shlit”a, has released a letter, clarifyin…

    2)’-Aharon-Feldman’s-Response.-Pidyon-Shvuyim-Applied-to-the-Gaza-Hostages.-Mishneh-Halachot-16:58-R’-Menashe-Klein-on-Whether-a-Medical-Practitioner-Should-Report-a-Battered-Child-to-the-Police One can clearly question whether Pidyon Shevuyim has any application in wartime based on the words of Minchas Chinuch and RYK’s questionning whether money should be raised for the Pidyon Shevuyim of R Hutner ZL when his plane washijacked

    3)Rav Aharon Feldman Speaking about Am Echad Campaign –

    • nt says:

      He also documented it at length in his book “The Eye of the Storm.” Once can disagree with Rabbi Feldman’ opinion, but he has been saying it consistently for decades, in public and private.

  39. David Farkas says:

    Steve asks: “Why are there no missions to do the Cheded Shebeguffo such as Bikur Cholim, Nicham Avelim, and just helping the Israeli econom? When we will see your RY visit Machaneh Shurah?”

    I apologize for not joining a “mission” but my employer is non-Jewish and wouldn’t suport it. Instead I donated hard-earned funds that I had earmarked for my sons wedding to the tune of $25,000 and raised another $25,000 from friends and family. All the funds went to widows of fallen IDF soldiers.

    I also support two married children who currently reside and work in Israel with their families. The funds that they receive from abroad certainly help the economy in ways that my MO friends who send their children to Columbia instead of to Mir and Brisk do not.

    I haven’t asked my RY why he hasn’t visited Shura. He’s very hard to reach because he has a large yeshiva and gives of himself day and night to past and present students and to Klal Yisroel at large. He is kind of selfish that way.

    Other than that, your points are excellent.

  40. Steven Brizel says:

    Today Shas and UTJ both in displays of dubious public pronouncements of Pikuach Nefesh being paramount despite the fact that casualties in the Charedi sector are de minimus at the most .Perhaps the court ordered end of the draft deferral led to this sudden involvement in national security and claim that Pikuach Nefesh is more important than a military victory which is a claim that warrants examination as to whether the same is the only reading of the Sugyos on Milchama and the related Halachos especially in the context of a Milchemes Mitzvah .But then if your interest in living in EY that you can live the same life in EY that you live in any other Charedi community around the world such pronouncements are predictable and expected especially when your role in the war is de minimus at the most

  41. Steven Brizel says:

    We have attended Asifos Tehilim, earmarked Tzedaka for the IDF follow the news carefully and realize that while we live in our communities and enjoy life in Galus we k ow that we are living in a Potemkin village with the fires of woke anti Semitism burning at our feet .We have birthdays this year and we BEzras HaShem will be EY for a very special trip on our own to EY to give and get Chizuk from our friends spend some money on the economy do some Chesed Shebegufo and learn Torah as part of soaking in the Avirah deEY as it is Mchakim

  42. Chaim Goldberg says:

    The following article just published on Tzarich Iyun seems eminently relevant to the discussions here

    • Bob Miller says:

      When an article insults other people, don’t expect it to make them reconsider their values or actions.

      • Chaim Goldberg says:

        I don’t think the article was written in a constructive way at all, even if it does make insightful points.
        However, I do think it draws out some truths, including with regards to how people relate to Gedolim, which is the relevant point to the current discussion.
        I should’ve made that clear earlier, my apologies.

        As an aside, the author learned in Chevron many years.

  43. Bob Miller says:

    I thought that we were to view calamities as having been orchestrated to induce self-criticism and self-improvement. But if the net result is that everybody takes them as vindication of their own prior views, why do they need to happen?

  44. Steven Brizel says:'s-Name- This is a fascinating take on the arguments raised not just by R Feldman, but also by the Tochacha-Sometimes you have to look in the mirror and ask yourself why so many of Acheinu Bnei Yisrael in EY are so detached from any sense or awarenness of Yiddishkeit

  45. Yaacov David Shulman says:

    “One who mourns Jerusalem will merit to see her happiness, as the verse (Isaiah 66:10) promises: ‘Rejoice with her greatly, all who mourn for her'”—Talmud Taanit 30b
    Apropos of this discussion but without reference to any specific individuals, could this be interpreted to mean that people who don’t feel the sadness of others’ tragedy will be hampered in their ability (or desire) to feel the happiness of others’ joy?

  46. Yh says:

    I don’t either purport to be a Navi, but I would perhaps suggest that there is another message from Hashem in the current difficulties facing our people. It might go as follows:
    For well over seventy-five years you have developed a beautiful community, focused on limmud hatorah and shmiras hamitzvos on an almost unparalleled level. You have raised children to be focused on what is truly dear to Me, as a nation of priests, devoted to Me in every aspect of their lives. You have built an entire educational edifice of yeshivos and kollelim, filled with young and old, toiling day and night over My holy Torah.
    You have even managed to do so in a land filled with My children who have not behaved as such by creating your own society focused on the values I so treasure. Although it is difficult for Me to see my children separated as such, I understood why this is necessary.
    Recently, however, My children have come under attack. Many were wounded and killed, and some were taken prisoner by beasts known as Hamas. It is a time of great and unimaginable pain for Me. Many of My children took up arms to go and defend their brothers and sisters and their holy land. However, you did not go, and I understood. The importance of remaining as a separate culture necessitates that you not join the army en masse. It is a complex decision but it can be justified.
    However, it has come to the point where you have difficulty appreciating and recognizing the efforts of your brethren. You don’t feel their pain or recognize the unimaginable difficulties they face. The yeshivos and kollelim, which are so unbelievably precious to Me, barely feel different despite the desperate need for intensified learning and davening. Even during bein hazmanim, you scarcely recognized the pain of your fellow Jews, even those who are also following My path.
    Therefore, I allowed some of My wayward children to engage in efforts to disrupt your way of life, and to shake up the world of kollelim and yeshivos. It is unbelievably painful for me, but maybe this will help you realize that these are not the yeshivos I want. I want yeshivos that demonstrate a clear sense of responsibility and duty to My children, even the ones who have taken a slightly different path in their service of Me. You need to understand and appreciate that both inward and outward demonstrations of love and care to your suffering brothers and sisters are so important to Me.
    You must realize that these wayward children are not the enemy. The enemy is you yourselves and your apathy towards your fellow Jews. I hope you understand this message and change your approach to this matter which is so dear to Me, your loving father.
    It cannot be otherwise; for you are My nation.

    • Happy says:

      Reb Yh, this is also a great letter! I don’t think it contradicts Rabbi Feldman’s message (even though I doubt he himself would agree to it). But I think many could agree that אלו ואל דברי אלוקים חיים!!!

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