Op-Ed: The Hypocrisy of the RCA

(Thursday, June 20th, 2013)

yweThe legendary Maggid of Yerushalayim, Harav Shalom Schwadron, zt”l, shared the following story: Once, while he was sitting in his home learning, Reb Shalom heard a scream from outside his window where the children were playing in the courtyard. A child named Meir, who had been playing with Harav Schwadron’s children, fell and was bleeding freely from the wound he had suffered in the fall.

Reb Shalom quickly scooped up the child and began to run to the neighborhood doctor. From a distance across the courtyard, the child’s grandmother, seeing Reb Shalom running with an injured child in his arms, assumed that the child was one of his own. She began to call out words of support: “Kein baiz nit, kein baiz nit, der Eibershter vet helfen, der Eibershter vet helfen.” (It’s nothing to worry about; Hashem will help.)

Reb Shalom wondered if she would stay consistent with this declaration if she knew the child’s identity. Indeed, the closer he got to her, the less confident she sounded with her pronouncement. When she realized that the child was her grandson she began to scream, “Gevald! Meir’keh! Meir’keh!”

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Harav Schwadron said that he used this story to make a point to a group of baalei batim in shul. After he had spoken at a demonstration against chillul Shabbos by municipal workers in Yerushalayim, this group of people had asked him why he felt the need to get involved in the affairs of the city. But weeks later, when the municipality raised taxes, these same people began raising a ruckus about it.

Harav Schwadron, in his inimitable style, said, “When it’s someone else’s ‘Meir’keh’ you can easily say ‘kein baiz nit, der Eibershter vet helfen,’ but if it’s your ‘Meir’keh,’ you begin to yell. Shabbos is my ‘Meir’keh,’ money is yours.”

As tens of thousands of frum Jews gathered in Foley Square to protest the forced conscription of yeshivah students into the Israeli army, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) issued a statement. In it, they “condemned” the “ultra-Orthodox anti-Israel rally” and said that the RCA deplores the attempt of a small but vocal group to undermine the image Americans have of strong, unshakeable, wall-to-wall Jewish support of Israel.”

Taking to the streets in America to protest policy positions of the state of Israel is, somehow, in the words of the RCA, “to publicly aid the many enemies who stand ready to destroy, G-d forbid, the Jewish State — and all Jews.”

Interestingly, the RCA felt no such need to condemn an organization it works with, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), for holding a rally back in June of 2005 to protest the Sharon disengagement plan. That rally drew over 10,000 protesters. A quick look through the RCA’s “policies and positions” finds at least five times that the RCA expressed opinions on different issues surrounding the evacuation of settlers from their homes.

While they express opinions on aspects of the disengagement plan itself to calling on the Israeli government repeatedly to treat the settlers with respect, one cannot find any such statement regarding the Lapid Draft Plan. Obviously, that is not their Meir’keh.

They are, however, careful to point out in a statement dated May 18, 2006, “that despite differences the religious community has always had with the governments of Israel, the religious Zionist community has always seen fit to fully support the government of Israel.”

Which brings us to the next point. It is said that someone once told the Chasam Sofer, zy”a, that there was an individual who was saying over the chiddushei Torah of the Chasam Sofer but was passing them off as his own. The Chasam Sofer replied that so long as that fellow only does that but doesn’t attribute his own opinions to the Chasam Sofer, he didn’t have a problem with it.

The most disturbing part of the RCA statement is that it says that the rally, which was called for and planned under the direction of the Gedolim, including both Satmar Rebbes, was “an insult to the memory of the Satmar Rav … For all his well-known opposition to a secular state, he always put the protection of Jewish lives first. It is unthinkable that … he would have countenanced aiding and abetting our enemies.” (It is important to point out that the opposition of other Gedolim to the rally was not for the reasons the RCA condemned it. It was a question of how we, as frum Jews, are supposed to work to get rid of this gezeirah, and whether public protest is an effective method.) It would seem that the RCA president is guilty of the very thing the Chasam Sofer was worried about, and is ascribing his own opinion to the Satmar Rav, zt”l.

In order to avoid making that very same mistake and assigning views we hold to people with whom we are not affiliated, what will follow will be excerpts from a 1957 speech to the RCA from Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt”l, who, on the RCA website, is referred to as their “guiding spirit and mentor.” In the speech, as transcribed by Rabbi David Holzer, he speaks in direct contradiction to the 2006 statement that “despite differences … the religious Zionist community has always seen fit to fully support the government of Israel.”

Rabbi Soloveitchik says that “When a Rabbi, a boy from our yeshivah … comes in [to a rabbinic position], he has a tough problem … There is a tendency on the part of the Rabbi to go with the crowd … Observers [of Jewish law] can be very hidden … [and] can become a marrano. You can be a Rabbi and a marrano, it’s quite possible. Many rabbis are marranos…To be a marrano doesn’t work. It’s practically wrong, it’s certainly ideologically wrong … but to display Yahadus is important. To fight for Yahadus! … And this is, of course, steadfastness, displaying non-wavering loyalty to Yahadus. A rabbi who hides is wavering.”

One can speculate if the RCA position condemning those fighting for the future of Yiddishkeit in Israel, and supporting all the state does, even in the face of religious differences, is “an insult to the memory of” Rabbi Soloveitchik. But one thing is clear: they have definitely chosen a different Meir’keh.

By Eliezer Stein

This article appeared in print on page 41 of the June 19th, 2013 edition of Hamodia.

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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16 Comments

  1. truthsharer says:

    Other than two leaders going to secular court over beis din, which “gedolim” organized/endorsed the rally?

  2. Yoylish says:

    While I do agree with this posting I have a comment to make.

    How about another op-ed titled “The Hypocrisy of YWN”

    At the time of the rally, you guys took every opportunity to bash or make fun of satmar.
    Here is a list of some of your postings:

    Video Of Interest: Satmar Chosid Says People Who Want To Pass IDF Draft law ‘Will Drop Dead’
    Posted: Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

    SHOCK: Satmar Appears To Have Misled Public With Forged Letter of HaRav Kanievsky Shlita
    Posted: Monday, June 10th, 2013
    (There is nothing to prove that ‘Satmar’ forged the letter)

    VIDEO & AUDIO: Speakers At Satmar Protest Decry ‘Evil Regime’; Declare War At ‘Enemies of Religion’
    Posted: Monday, June 10th, 2013

    You also find it necessary to mold peopls opinions with things like this
    Video Of Interest: Satmar Chosid In Kiryas Yoel Has Choice Words For The Gadol HaDor Maran Rav Shteinman
    Posted: Tuesday, May 28th, 2013
    (talk about stereotyping)

    BUT as we see in this weeks parsha Midyan and Moav became friends when it meant standing up against klal yisroel.
    YWN is Satmars friend when it means bashing the RCA

    Moderators Response: Perhaps you failed to take note that this Op-Ed was not written BY YWN.

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

    You also failed to take note of something else:

    DO YOU HAVE AN OPINION YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE POSTED ON YWN? SEND IT TO US FOR REVIEW.

    Feel free to send us an Op-Ed.

  3. Interesting-this article appeared in Hamodia-yet Ger was conspicuous in its absnece of this event. Does one hand of the Hamodia know what the other hand is doing (and saying)?

  4. MDshweks says:

    All the above doesn’t disturb me as much as what they wrote last Monday about a man as great as Rav Ovadia (without speaking to him about it ;-) ):
    כמה מקולקלין דרכיו, כמה מכוערין מעשיו”…

  5. Bogen says:

    #1 falsesharer:

    Leaders of the rally included:

    Rav Elya Ber Wachtfogel
    Rav Aaron Schechter
    Rav Osher Kalmonovitz
    Rav Shlomo feivel shustal
    Rav Yisroel Mayer Zaks

    and many others

  6. Ben Levi says:

    A letter from Rev Dovid Solevetchik shlita posted on YWN indicated that he ethusiastically endorsed the rally.
    Rav Shmuel Aurbach endorsed the rally.
    Rav Elya Ber Wachtfogel shlita backed (attended and spoke in fact) the rally.
    These are just the Litvishe Gedolim off the top of my head.

  7. ronfromnj says:

    I seriously doubt that the above-cited Gedolim would have endorse the rally, if they had been aware of what I just posted.

  8. ronfromnj says:

    Seems my initial lengthy posting has been taken down. And I cleared it with a recognized Posek first. Wow.

  9. ronfromnj says:

    This is not a duplicate posting. Seems my initial lengthy posting has been taken down. And I cleared it with a recognized Posek first. Wow.

  10. realistic100 says:

    One very important point in this up-ed which maybe missed in the full context.

    “IF IT HURTS YOU SCREAM” you don’t start to rationalize if it has manners or something else.

  11. cobycom1 says:

    I still dont get it. Learn Torah while you are in the army. Spread Torah in the army. Learn Torah on the way to work. Whats the big deal? Dont Jews do this in other counties?

  12. Joe Yeshivish says:

    Very well written editorial. I agree that the RCA disgraced (and continues to disgrace)itself.
    I also agree with #2 (Yoylish) that YWN disgraced itself during their “coverage” (spin)of the peaceful Kiddush Hashem event that took place in Manhattan in honor of HKB”H Torah.

  13. Ben Levi says:

    Rabbiofberlin

    All Gedolim agree on the seriousness of the gezeira and the thrust of the rally, the disagreement is a matter of tactics.
    A point, by the way, that has been made over and over.

  14. Josh31 says:

    2-3 years in Nachal Hareidi is not Meir’keh.
    40 years trapped in poverty is Gevald! Meir’keh! Meir’keh!

  15. Feif Un says:

    What about the hypocrisy of YWN in reporting this?

    The RCA is the largest organization of Orthodox Rabbonim in the US. Among its members, it has many Rabbonim who are recognized as being huge gedolim, such as R’ Schachter and R’ Willig. To insult such an organization, and allow comments such as #12, which claim the RCA is a disgrace, is an insult to these gedolim.

    It’s funny how all the complaints I read about the letter are coming from people posting on the internet, or from Pinny Lipschutz writing in his tabloid rag. I haven’t heard yet any Rabbonim saying anything about the RCA. If the Rabbonim aren’t attacking this great organization, why do you feel you have the right?

  16. Bogen says:

    #15:

    I’ve personally heard many Gedolei Yisroel shlita, acknowledged as such by all, insult the RCA in harsher terms than any comment here.

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