Op-Ed: Maintaining Perspective Regarding a Talmid Chacham

(Thursday, June 20th, 2013)

yweThe verbal and even physical assaults against Rabbi David Stav are despicable and should be denounced by one and all, including the chareidi tzibur. Treating a person with respect, especially a rav/dayan is not contingent on following his hashkafa!

While Rabbi Stav’s hashkafa may not be in line with a chareidi lifestyle, the man is unquestionable a talmid chacham, a rav who is dedicating his entire life to kiruv and ahavas chinam, and there is no justification for acting disrespectfully towards him. To his credit, and it can’t be easy, he continues to take the blows while acting as one would expect a talmid chacham to act.

We, regular people, are not expected to nor is it our job to be the interpreter for Gedolei Hador Shlita, and the comments against Rav Stav by Rav Ovadia Yosef Shlita are to be left as they are. We are not electing the next chief rabbi and we do not have a hand in the process, but to speak ill of a Torah scholar is a chilul Hashem and of this there can be no doubt.

Not that it matters, but Rav Stav grew up chareidi, in the Belz community, and has a connection with the Rebbe Shlita. For his own reasons he decided to walk the path of a Zionist rav and he continues to bring people back to the fold. For those who have even a slight clue of the work carried out by Tzohar Rabbis, you are aware that literally thousands of lost souls attend Yom Kippur davening in one of the hundreds and hundreds of Tzohar minyanim around Israel run by dati leumi talmidim and bnei Torah. Tzohar mohels conduct britot on many children that may otherwise not have a Halachic bris, and there is never an issue of money. The Tzohar rabbonim are polite, courteous and never take a dime, always out there to make a Kiddush Hashem. They are not running from one bris to another, but patiently address each case and do their best to involve the tzibur. I have seen this many times and they are to be commended. It is that simple.

One may say Rav Ovadia is against him and that is fine, but to add the negative rhetoric and disparaging comments is simply out of place for an observant Jew. When YWN posted the letter giving moral support to the rabbi from the RCA, readers dared to mock that organization as well. It is high time that chareidi Jews learn there are many faces to Orthodox Jewry as well and Boro Park, Flatbush or Golders Green have not cornered the market on mitzvah observance. Many of the rabbonim of the RCA are talmidei chachamim too and we have no option other than to remain silent or speak of them in a respectful tone. Let’s leave running the world to Hashem and the Gedolim, and while there may be a dispute on exactly who the Gadol Hador is, it is not likely to be one commenting on an internet site, which by the way has been prohibited by Gedolim too.

On an aside, it is humorous how we saw photos of the giant conference against the internet held in NJ, as many chareidim were busy texting and looking at Blackberries and iPhones, but this for one reason or another is acceptable while refraining from badmouthing Rabbi Stav or others like him is not an option. Please, explain this to me.

So my fellow surfers, please hang up your holier than thou attire and get real. Rav Stav’s entire being is dedicated to the Jewish People and while you may not wish to recite Hallel on Yom Haatzma’ut, you do not have a Halachic right to refer to him as “Mr.” or any other way other than respectfully until such time gedolim in Har Nof or Bnei Brak instruct us to do so. There is no benefit to insulting anyone, and no permissibility to level such unacceptable comments in the direction of a rav, a dayan and talmid chacham. Perhaps you are challenged to see one with a knitted yarmulke possibly knowing as much or more than you. I don’t dare pretend to know what irks you, but time to look at the Chafetz Chaim’s sefer perhaps for guidance.

As the Three Weeks approach I think this is the lesson to be learned. Whatever occurs in the Israel Chief Rabbinate race, let Rav Ovadia and the other Torah giants direct us, but for certain, sitting in Israel or elsewhere, it is not our job to act disrespectfully towards any of the candidates.

Asher Melamed
Rehovot, Israel

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.

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12 Comments

  1. kollel faker says:

    He’s not running for Talmud chachum but in an election for chief rabbi and his wishy washy liberal agenda is not what is needed now
    With a secular war being waged on all fronts it’s time to push for a more religiously rightist see who is backing him
    Show me your friends and I will show u who you really are

  2. chaimz says:

    This article perfectly demonstrates a recent parsha. Korach was certainly a talmid chochom. It’s precisely for this reason that people followed him. Being a talmid chochom brings more responsibility to follow torah, not the flexibility to discard what you don’t want. I’m sorry but I have no qualms about disagreeing with this article. Though Korach argued with Moshe, Chazal tell us the machlokes was Korach v’adoso, Moshe was not a baal machlokes.

    Making shalom does not mean lowering our standards to the lowest common denominator, else we accept Weiss and all the other reform/conservatives. It means influencing those that are interested in being influenced to follow the ways of Hashem.

    This editorial strikes out.

  3. Joe Yeshivish says:

    To Reb Asher:

    Where were you 2 weeks ago when Bnei Torah got together in Manhattan to support HKB”H Torah Hakdosha and it was open season on Chasidim (particularly Satmar) right here on YWN?! Every vile comment against Bnei Torah/Chasidim was accepted by the moderators, and YOU were silent! Now when the shoe is on the other foot, you’re suddenly so “concerned”! Sounds just a wee bit hypocritical!

  4. chaimz: Your mention of Korach is nonsensical. That was in a time when open nissim were seen every day. (see the parshas Korach and the staffs). We live in a very different world and it looks like that Hillel himself would not pass muster with you. After all, he accepted a ger with one short sentence! And ,of course, RSR Hirsch would be put in cherem by you. How about Rav Grossman of MIgdal HaEmek? Doesn’t he make sholom by lowering standards?The fact is that A Chief Rabbi (as any rov, actusally) has to make every effort to include everyone.

  5. chaimz says:

    rabbiofberlin, I agree that Korach lived in a different time. However, the Torah included his actions so that we of a different time could learn from him. We will not see another dor daya, but the lessons of Korach are taught in every generation.

    I would agree with your whole statement if the criticism was originating with me. The criticism came from one who is greater than me, and you and Rav Stav combined. Our moral compass is set by the Gedolim of our generation, not any less. I am sure that Rav Stav doesn’t have the temerity to place himself in the same league with our gedolim. If he does than there are other problems.

    Additionally, I certainly take issue with the idea that a Rov has to include everyone. The Rov sets the tone for his kehilla and they follow. He doesn’t rule by democracy, he rules with his knowledge of Halacha and mesora. If shalom can be kept that is great, but another lesson we learn from Korach – don’t shy away from Emes for the purpose of a false shalom.

  6. Yagel Libi says:

    A big Yasher Koach to the author. And to YWN for publishing this as an Op-Ed.

  7. MDshweks says:

    Look. There’s no question that this man deserves a lot of credit for all the good he does. I give credit when it’s due – to everyone including Lubavitch, christians etc. But don’t let that confuse you. Don’t allow that to become an open pass to take on Gedolei Hador double his age and knowledge and more…

    Of course attacking him when he goes to a wedding is wrong, just as throwing rocks and attacking frum soldiers… but there’s no question that we’re seeing more and more that this Rabbi is NOT a proper Rav with the proper Kavod HaTorah, and NOT the man who will “bridge the gaps” as he says.

    He believes he should sit on the chair of the Chief Rabbi since he did so much outreach out in the fields, but Rav Ovadia feels a chief Rabbi shouldn’t be just a great outreach fellow, one who goes to movies and is very lenient in many area. it might be great for outreach, but not for the chief Rabbanut. But he just doesn’t want to accept that and he feels he knows better…

    When I saw you defended the RCA I lost all respect for some of your earlier word, which had some merit – did you read the letter??!! the RCA didn’t do wisely to just “give moral support”, but acted in horrible Chutzpa, and wrote that the actions of Rav Ovadia are ugly, and they wrote that he is a disgrace for all Torah learners. – Now go and sell me that these are also “Talmidei Chachamim”… if any of them are, they didn’t add any honor to that title with such foolishness…

  8. crazykanoiy says:

    Great article. Unfortunatley it is not only Rabbi Stav that suffers from the inflamed rhetoric in our chareidi community. Just think of Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak, Rabbi Chaim Amsellem, Rabbi Nosson Kamenetzky, and the list goes on and on. Perhaps it is time to reaquaint ourselves with the words of the Netziv in the begining of Bereshis. We can disagree but not be mevazeh and mevatel others.

  9. chaimz- No one denies Rav Ovadia’s greatness but this doesn’t mean that we must follow his words blidly. You are welcome to do that, others are not.
    As far as inclusiveness- I prefer to look at Lubavitch, the kiruv movement, Rav Grossman shelita and so many others who have opened their doors to all and sundry, and not insisting on an exclusiveness that is not appropriate for this generation. BTW- chassidus , too, is built along the same ways!

  10. Yanky55 says:

    Thank you, YWN, for publishing this excellent editorial.

  11. galicianer says:

    To the Author:
    The good point you made would be taken much better had you done just that – made your point – and then left things alone.

    But you didn’t. You felt compelled to post some extraneous commentary:
    “On an aside, it is humorous how we saw photos of the giant conference against the internet held in NJ, as many chareidim were busy texting and looking at Blackberries and iPhones, but this for one reason or another is acceptable while refraining from badmouthing Rabbi Stav or others like him is not an option. Please, explain this to me.”

    This comment revealed your true agenda of mockery toward the chareidi public.
    Sorry, but you ruined a good opportunity to make a valid point. Instead you chose to hide behind feigned righteousness, but your cynicism filtered through in an ugly fashion.

  12. zionflag says:

    Thank you for an excellent article with facts that are honest and accurate.

    Rav Stav is a talmid chocham who is accomplishing tremendous strides among residents of Eretz yisroel. When will others understand that “different strokes for different folks” as long as they are bderech Hashem.

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