A Response to Ami Magazine’s Assertion that an Early Amorah Was Mentally Ill

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ami[By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for the Five Towns Jewish Times]

Generally speaking, we should be open and tolerant of views and interpretations of others that may differ from ours.

BREACH IN THE MESORAH

Sometimes, however, when we perceive a breach in the Mesorah of the interpretation of a passage in the Talmud and it is presented as fact, it is incumbent upon others to vocalize their dissent. This is particularly true when the misinterpretation has no substantive linguistic indication to that effect within the text.

The essay in question stated that Rabbi Elazar, of the first generation of Amoraim, was suffering from mental illness. The essay was penned by Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter, the editor of Ami Magazine, whom I generally consider someone who would not misrepresent a Torah text. Nonetheless, the particular essay (issue 237 entitled “A Look Inside Psych Wards”) struck this author as troubling.

THE GEMORAH IN BRACHOS

Rabbi Frankfurter based this assertion on a passage in Brachos 5b which states as follows:

Rabbi Elazar once became sick. Rabbi Yochanan came to visit him and saw that he was sleeping in a dark room. Whereupon Rabbi Yochanan uncovered his own arm and immediately the room grew light. Rabbi Yochanan then noticed that Rabbi Elazar was weeping. Rabbi Yochanan asked, “Why are you weeping? Is it because you have not learned Torah sufficiently? Behold we are taught, ‘No matter whether one offers much or little – only the intentions of one’s heart counts for the sake of Heaven.’ Is it because you are in need and poor? Not everyone receives a table in the world to come and a table here. Is it because of trouble from your children? Here is a bone from my tenth son. “I weep,” responded Rabbi Elazar for that beauty which will ultimately decay in the earth.” Rabbi Yochanan responded, “For that you really ought to weep.” Both wept together. Rabbi Yochanan then asked of him, “Do you love afflictions?” Rabbi Elazar answered, “Neither them nor their rewards.” “Then give me your hand.” Rabbi Elazar did so and was made well.

RABBI FRANKFURTER’S TWO ASSERTIONS

Rabbi Frankfurter writes, “It is clear that Rabbi Elazar was suffering on a psychological level from a pall of darkness enveloping his mind, rather than from physical disease.” He bases his interpretation on the fact that Rabbi Yochanan did not ask Rabbi Elazar if the reason he was crying was on account of poor health or physical pain. Rabbi Frankfurter then suggests that Rabbi Yochanan is engaging in “existential psychotherapy” in his discussion with Rabbi Elazar.

INJECTING SECULAR THINKING INTO TORAH TEXTS

There is an unfortunate tendency for people to, at times, get caught up in their mada studies, in their Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Rank philosophies, and then retro-inject them into various Gemorahs and Midrashim that they come across with forced readings. Existentialist psychotherapy is strictly an early 20th century phenomenon. Injecting this type of therapy into the interpretation of a Gemorah with no Meforshim backing it up is anachronistic.

The results are not just incorrect readings of Torah texts, but there are two other repercussions as well: There are grave methodological missteps where, for example, an early Amorah is labelled as someone who is mentally ill; and the traditions of the classical commentators on our texts are entirely ignored.

THE TRADITIONAL INTERPRETATIONS

This Gemorah has been amply and adequately interpreted throughout the generations.

The Ran understands this passage to mean that “in a dark room” means that Rabbi Elazar, Rabbi Yochanan’s student was destitute. Rabbi Yochanan opened his hand in generosity.
The Or HaChaim HaKadosh, the Nesivos, and the Malbim all interpret “sleeping in a dark room” as headed toward his ultimate demise which is called “a dark room.” Rabbi Yochanan was thus attempting to inspire Rabbi Elazar not to give up his will to live despite the sufferings of his illness.

Rabbi Avrohom Kara, a contemporary of Rabbi Akiva Eiger and author of the Ayil HaMeluim explains “in a dark room” to mean that Rabbi Elazar looked at Rabbi Yochanan in a slightly negative light in that Rabbi Yochanan was quite wealthy and it was thought by some that he did not distribute charity in the appropriate amounts. Rabbi Yochanan revealed his light means that he showed Rabbi Elazar his hidden acts of charity.

The Gedolei HaAchronim have given numerous interpretations throughout the centuries to this passage. Not one of them, however, suggested that Rabbi Elazar was suffering from mental illness.

THE SOURCES FOR THE AMI INTERPRETATION

In response to a query from a reader named B. Mann (issue 239) about what his sources were for the interpretation, Rabbi Frankfurter responded, “The most important source for the interpretation that Rabbi Elazar’s illness was of a psychological nature is the Gemorah in Brachos (5b) which I cited.”

Rabbi Frankfurter then juxtaposes a Mishna in Shabbos (29b) that discusses extinguishing a light on Shabbos because of a ruach rah, which the Rambam interprets as mental illness. He correlates the need to extinguish a light with the fact that Rabbi Elazar was in a darkened room. It is significant to note that no commentator correlates the Mishna in Shabbos with the Gemorah in Brachos. Also, Rashi provides an entirely different understanding of Ruach Rah which would entirely rule out any basis for correlating the two passages.

Rabbi Frankfurter’s “sources” for his interpretation are technically not true sources in the classical sense, rather they are inferences that Rabbi Frankfurter perceives within the text; namely that Rabbi Elazar was in a darkened room and the dialogue between the two Rabbis expressly underscoring the psychological aspect of his suffering. As we have seen, however, there are different interpretations of this idea.

The mental illness interpretation suggested in the Ami article, however, is not novel. Reform Rabbi Ruth Adar, suggested just such an interpretation last year in her blog. The point is that such interpretations are foreign to traditional Judaism. This is not a gratuitous attack. If the only fellow travelers on a path are Reform Rabbis when the topic was dealt with by our classical meforshim for centuries, then something is clearly wrong.

Ami Magazine has always stood at the forefront of defending Torah-true Judaism. This is an important mission, and ny and large they have met this mission suscessfully. The interpretation of this passage in a manner that stands in contrast to the Rishonim and Achaonim is a violation of what Ami Magazine stands for. In this author’s opinion Rabbi Frankfurter should retract the essay.

The author can be reached at yairhoffman2@gmail.com




70 COMMENTS

  1. There are Shivim Ponim LaTorah. If the author doesnt like this pshat there 69 others, there is No reason to call it a breach. Then we wonder why Moshiach doesnt come. Sad.

  2. I usually do not agree with Yair Hoffman, but in this case he is almost 100% correct. In fact his entire essay above is correct until the last paragraph. Ami magazine has never been defensible and has always, right from their first issue and ever since, had at best highly questionable articles and at worse outright heresy.

  3. First of all houses were dark they did not have electricity.
    It does not say in the gemora he was depressed it says he was crying that R Yochonan was going to pass

  4. The mental illness interpretation suggested in the Ami article, however, is not novel. Rabbi Ruth Adar, a Reform Rabbi, suggested just such an interpretation last year in her blog.
    Yikes, Rabbi Hoffman just threw Ami under the bus….

  5. Response to #1 What?? Are you on the Ami staff? or already brainwashed because you read their reform magazine regularly? Shivim panim lTorah is not free for all!

    Frankfurter is trying to show his “open mindedness” together with some others who are supporting his agenda. From the start I realized that Ami is going in the wrong direction. They only defend Torah-true Judaism, when it’s in their political or financial interest.

    BH, more and more frum homes are realizing this and have stopped purchasing the magazine. But there are still many innocent men and women who don’t read the venom between the lines. I personally know a few people who were negatively influenced by the magazine and it effected their passion for Yiddishkeit (to put it mild).

    I daven that Frankfurter should think to himself what legacy he’s leaving behind, and instead do something which will raise the level of avodas Hashem of Klal Yisroel.

  6. R’ Yair contradicts himself, first he writes “Ami Magazine has always stood at the forefront of defending Torah-true Judaism” then he accuses AMI of outright reform heresy.

    Enough of this PC talk, most Chareidi yidden have already stopped buying AMI, their real clientle is MO. Their anti-chareidi hashkafic agenda already been exposed many times. Once in a while they carry an article about this or that Godol/Admor in order to “kosherize” themselves.

  7. For me its shocking that this author while claiming to portray real torah views is calling Ruth Adar a “Rabbi”
    Since when do you give such a title to a Reform,an apikores and machtie harabim and someone who is part of a movement fought fiercly by all gedoilei israel for generations, to call her by the title “Rabbi”?

  8. Had Amis conclusion been reached based upon verifiable scientific methods or had solid textual support I would not have had a problem considering it and would not write it off, as rabbi Hoffman suggests, simply because no one thought of it before or just because a reformed Jew thought of it first. And for that matter I would not hold Rav elazar in any less esteem if he cv suffered from a mental condition. That said, I don’t buy the Rav elazar conclusion because it is very weakly supported by the text and seems quite far fetched.

  9. wow! What negativity by the posters! It ill behooves Rabbi Hoffman to ask another talmid chochom to retract his words. To censor a very mild new interpretation of an aggadata in the gemoro only leads many to reject all of the rest of our tradition. There are many more radical interpretations of parshyot in the Torah -have you seen how R’Avrohom ben HoRambam interprets the story of Yaakov Ovinu and the Angel?-or miyshnayos- have you ever learned the Rambam’s pirush Hamishnayos on Chelek?- To censor such minor divergences only detract from the authority of those who try to impose a unitary and reactionary view of Yiddishkeit.

    Moderators Note: Just interesting to note how you are comparing Rabbi Frankfurter to Reb Avrohom ben Ho’Rambam. This is quite incredible.

  10. Another thought: throughout shas it is recounted that Rav yosef suffered from a neurological condition similar to dementia or Alzheimer’s. We nonetheless have the greatest respect for Rav yosef. Rabbi Hoffman’s implicit suggestion that an Amorah cannot have a mental or neurological condition is historically incorrect and quite frankly insulting to people rl who may suffer from such a thing.

  11. Aaronb u say that most Chareidi yidden has stopped buying ami . That is not true just on my block there’s at least 5 people who get. You sound like the type of person who loves being a kanai about everything . You probably tried to have a shul and no one came than you tried to open a yeshiva and no one came . Now your bored so you have fight against everything u can think of. Your not alone there’s a bunch of people like you . You can start a support group than maybe you won’t be so bored.

  12. Yesterday it was Mishpacha, today its Ami. Nothing new here.
    Mishpacha, Ami, Yated, Hamodia, etc… are in the business of selling as many copies as possible. They are a business just like any other. Its only mindless fools who have no Daas Torah/Rav and look to these rags for guidance in their pitiful lives. The arrogant publishers think that because they own a “Heimish” publication, they are shoen an eppes in the Torah velt and should be given kavod at all times. They are mamesh gornisht mit gornisht business men. This is all part of the choshech/sheker that shows its head before the coming of Moshiach. These baalebatim are given more kavod than the true Bnei Torah and Roshei Yeshiva who are shekuya biTorah yomam vilayla. I’m still scratching my head why the Agudah is giving one these men a platform at their upcoming convention.

  13. Love this author.

    A lot of articles have been written in this field. The general consensus, mental illness does not change the greatness of a person. History says, peole with high levels of intelligence will usually suffer from mental disorders as a result of seeing the world through their Intelect. Some say, mental disorders, suffering and pain are prerequisites for great people. The Gemara says
    “״אין חכם כבעל הנסיון

  14. To Rabbi Hoffman:
    I am surprised to see that you would suffice if “Rabbi Frankfurter should retract the essay”. Don’t you think that Rabbi Frankfurter should have to ask mechila from the holy amoroim for even trying to portray them in such a degrading way? We are not talking about simple people! These are our holy amoroim that were closer to Malochim than to people!

    I think that Rabbi Frankfurter should retract his article, ask mechila from the amoroim in the same public forum that he printed the original article, and retract the chilul hashem that he made in the article.

  15. Ami lost me when they put Ezra Friedlander on. But the maakeh b’patish was when the put John Hagee on a front cover.

    Here’s what Hagee’s website says as of today:
    “The mission of John Hagee Ministries is to aggressively fulfill the commission that J***s C****t gave to His followers to go into the world and make disciples of all people. Our purpose is to bring the lost to J***s C****t and to build up and encourage those who are already believers. We pledge to our viewers & supporters to take The Gospel to all the World and to all Generations.”

    The yulds at Ami think Cristian support is important to us.

    #7: The only defense I have of Frankfurter is his unabashed bashing (nice!) of the MO. What’s so crazy is that if only Frankfurter had followed the advice he touted we may not be having this discussion. He once wrote a great piece about Rav Soloveitchik and his defense of Torah true tradition. Here is what the Ami printed (sorry I dont have the date):

    {Rav Soloveitchik}:
    It is ridiculous to say “I have discovered something of which the Rashba didn’t know, the Ktzos didn’t know, the Vilna Gaon had no knowledge [of]; I have discovered an approach to the interpretation of Torah that is completely new.” One must join the ranks of chachmei hamesorah – Chazal, Rishonim, gedolei Achronim – and must not try to rationalize from without the chukei ha’Torah and must not judge the chukim u’mishpatim in term of the secular system of things.
    (ad kan l’shono)

    I know this discussion is not about chukim u’mishpatim but Frankfurter should have applied the same sound advice.

  16. I try to be selective in what I read. I read yated and a few online publications such as this one because they have already eliminated a lot of the garbage publicized by the media. If rabbi Hoffman insists on quoting ami and any rag that can afford the price of paper it’s time to reconsider even this much. Rabbi Hoffman you are too close to the chovavei tzions and other heretics of our generation. You can’t help but get dirty yourself.
    Please stop publicizing those amei Haaretz and even extolling their virtues (he’s a Talmid chochom? He’s a min in any sense of the word) keep away from him and keep him away from us.

  17. Why do we insist on giving superhuman qualities to all of our Gedolim? While they do have remarkable Mental and spiritual capacity, they are men. Humans. They have physical and emotional needs, and are not physically different than the rest of Humankind.

    The agreed upon level of mental illness in the human population is 18-19%. Statistically, i can absolutely guarantee that Gedolim have the same percentage of Cancer, High blood pressure, Lupus, diabetes, Shistosomiasis, and yes, mental illness as well. Nobody in our Frum community would dare think of it, let alone speak of it, but statistics do not lie and do not exempt any segment of the human population.

  18. If you want to argue that he has an agenda with his interpretation, I guess you have a point. Also if he has no proof to back it up, you may have an argument, however, the general attitude portrayed in this article gives off a very wrong idea of Torah. I thought more of R’ Hoffman.

    The attitude is, let’s check what the commentators say and that if you try your own interpretation it’s heresy. That’s narishkeit. There is nothing wrong with learning a sugya and giving your own interpretation. “Moderators Note” notes to comment 10 asking how you can compare Frankfurter to a rishon. God forbid. The point is (or should be) that they advanced ideas which were novel because its Torah and its open for anyone. Now, that does not mean that anyone is qualified to say anything, but it does mean that you can not attack someone up for giving an interpretation that you don’t like. The fact that it is in line with a reform Rabbi’s interpretation means nothing if the interpretation is not heretical. It’s no ones fault that the Reform rabbi happened to say a nice pshat.

    The only argument that may have water, I think, is that someone such as Frankfurter or anyone else should first bring down the interpretations given by the Rishonim.
    (Did he?) Don’t ignore what great men said. After that, you can suggest your own. Second, do not state your idea as fact. It is just a suggestion, and make that clear. Finally, back it up with your proofs in the article. (To be fair, I did not read the article and am basing it off of what I am reading here).

    When the dust settles, R’ Hoffman better be 100% positive that he knows what he is talking about before jumping on the attack like this. He purports to be a halacha man so I hope this article has not violated any halacha requirements, as there are many in the Bein Adam Lachavaro arena. I am not trying to defend Frankfurter. I personally don’t buy the paper as I have my own issues with it that I find disturbing, but I am just trying to be fair. I hope R’ Hoffman can answer these points in a straight way and not simply try to get out of it.

  19. To be quite frank, I’m not sure what all the hate is about here. Ami is a wonderful magazine for the regular chareidi communities around the world, and no, I don’t work for them. Perhaps many of you don’t like it because it has a business section?? Oy! Chas v’shalom!! Perhaps we should wake up and realize that yes, there are sometimes issues that need to addressed, news that needs to be covered, and people to be spoken about! If we just broaden our minds a little bit(!) we would perhaps understand why what may seem like a controversial article must be written.

    On the same note, there are many bloggers here, some of the above commentators among them, that always speak about how there should be achdus with acheinu beis yisroel. They preach to others to love each other, even though they have different viewpoints. Yet when it comes to themselves accepting other views, WHERE ARE THOSE SAME PEOPLE??!?

    In regard to the article in question, I agree with megachulo above. Yes, it’s possible for a gadol to have a mental issue. But that DOESNT MEAN THERE US ANYTHING WRONG WITH HIM FOR THAT!!! If you were to actually have read the article, you would have seen that THAT was the whole point of the article! That mental illness should not be viewed as a fault! And if we were to look at it as such, then there would be no lack of respect by saying that a gadol had such an illness. It would be no different then the common cold.

    Have a great shabbos!

  20. To the moderator: your criticism of my comparison with R”Avrohom ben Horambam is misplaced. My point was that different interpretations of aggadata’s are common amongst rishonim and acharonim. See the Maharsha.
    It is preposterous to attack Rav Frankfurter on this. Amoroim, and rishonim were human and , as one poster writes, the probability that one Amoiro or two suffered from Alzheimer or some form of dementia is great. I think that there were over two thousand Tanoim and Amoroim mentioned in the gemoro. Their greatness is not diminished if some of them suffered some mental or physical indignities. Check what happened to our gedolim in recent years. Many ultimately suffered from some ailments.

  21. #20 that is not the issue nor point of Rabbi Hoffman’s essay. The question who gets to say this about an Amora! An Amora was able to do techiyas hameisim. That alone disqualifies us from lumping regular traits to him.
    We can say we have an opinion on a mater such as you did. Frankfurter did not state it as an opinion, he stated it as a valid interpretation of a Gemarah.

  22. Since we know that Rabbi Frankfurter is reading very single one of these comments, perhaps he can explain why he chose not top publish the rebuttals he got from many people?

    I personally know of more than one which was sent.

  23. I read this article two weeks ago, and my eyes popped out of my head. I quickly looked who his Rabbinical adviser is. It is Rabbi Moshe Taub.

    Perhaps he can issue a public defense of Rabbi Frankfurter, since is he is their Rov, he for SURE agrees with this despicable remark.

  24. Whether r’frankfurters “pshat” is right or wrong is controversial, but loshon horah “birabim”is dead wrong “lkulei almah”.

  25. #31 – GREAT POINT!!!!

    So is Rabbi Frankfurter going to issue an apology for the Motzei Shem Ra on an Amora??

    (Let me know in 10 years……)

  26. The problem is not that he suggested a novel approach to as gemara.That is totally acceptable; although in this case his interpretation is inconsistent with the text, as anyone proficient in Gemara will tell you right away.
    The issue here is the disrespect that he showed to a tana eloki by interpreting the gemara this way wiyh no clear proof.
    And to the commenter who wrote that Rav Yosef suffered from dementia or alzheimers, do you have a source besides for the gemaros that say that he forgot his learning when he got older?
    Forgetting learning does not equal dementia or Alzheimer’s!
    On the contrary its pretty clear from the gemra that he retained complete control over his faculties even after he forgot his learning. This is clear from the fact t hat when he was reminded of laws tghat he said previously he was able to apply those laws to yhe matter at hand.

  27. Shocking. Can’t believe this is legit. I never even look at the magazine even though I get it. Too many fairytails from John Loftus and others. BUT —- I just removed it from the bottom of my birdcage and checked it out. This is just unreal.

    Wow.

  28. #35- careful, your bird might become an apikores.

    make sure to give your bird the new ami this week, where he granted the self-hating jew Jerry Nadler a platform.

  29. Isn’t Frankfurter the same guy who wrote that piece glorifying those apikorsim abuser cult Lev Tahor? Why is he still working for them

  30. There’s no rule that one can only interpret a Gemara how previous interpreters have interpreted it. Otherwise there would be no contemporary meforshim.

    There’s nothing out of bounds about suggesting an amorah might have suffered from depression at some point. At least one of our matriarchs and one prophet talked about wanting to die in Tanakh. People have bad moments, even the greatest among us do. Torah has never tried to whitewash this aspect of human existence.

  31. #11:
    “Another thought: throughout shas it is recounted that Rav yosef suffered from a neurological condition similar to dementia or Alzheimer’s. We nonetheless have the greatest respect for Rav yosef. Rabbi Hoffman’s implicit suggestion that an Amorah cannot have a mental or neurological condition is historically incorrect and quite frankly insulting to people rl who may suffer from such a thing.”

    In the case of Rav Yosef it is explicitly recounted. In this case it is being fabricated. Anyone like this can stop at nothing and apply various maladies to any biblical and talmudic figure.
    So don’t be so offended by something you didn’t think about.

  32. Its about time the AMI is being exposed! I have long felt it was a left wing magazine hiding behind selective kanoyes.

    You bash the non religious chovevei torah to legitimize your blasphemy, you have no achrayis with the things you write.
    Your shitos are not in line with any charedi sector, you pick and choose what ever you like. One day your chassidish, the next day Litvish, snd the next your’e mizrachi.

  33. Who decided that Frankfurter is a Rabbi? It always annoys me when letters to the editor begin with singing his praises. You can always tell from the tone of his editorials that he holds very highly of himself. But unfortunately this is a person who will print anything as long as it puts down the mishpacha and other publications. At least the mishpacha and hamodia are edited by woman who don’t pretend to be the Rav Avigdor Miller of our generation. It is time that Yitzchok Frankfurter helps himself to a healthy dosage of humble pie. This interpretation of an aggaditah gemorah just shows us all what he thinks of himself. Next time our real gedolim call him for a hashkofa shailah please lt me know.

  34. I am personally aware of respected rabbanim in mainstream litvishe yeshivot who believe one may give any p’shat in tanach or aggadata as long as it does not change halacha.

  35. It still always surprises me how many people can read an article and blow things so out of proportion.

    All Rav Hoffman was stating is that in his opinion Rabbi Frankfurter step out of line with his novel approach to interpreting this Gemorah. Being that Rabbi Frankfurter himself admits that the Gemora’s text is his only source of reference and being that none of the Rishonim and Achronim that give interpretations there consider his theory, the odds are that Rabbi Frankfurter is wrong. End of story.

    Of course, Rav Hoffman does not need me to defend him.

    Amazingly, some people decide to read Rav Hoffman’s words with a fine toothed comb as if it’s a sugia in Shas. As much as I respect Rav Hoffman, I don’t feel he’s on the madrega that I need to scrutinize every word he writes.

    I think it would be advantageous for people to chill out a little a just absorb the main message. Also, since when did Rav Hoffman’s article become a green light to start bashing a magazine? You may be right (I couldn’t say), but that doesn’t give room to bash at each and every opportunity. There’s a time and place for everything and we must each scrutinize ourselves beforehand.

  36. Ami! comes from the brains of the “separation of church and state” education system…. aka….satmar… The satmar education system is very high in the english department but dare you mention rashi or rambam; even just the names during an english class… that mentality goes far into their lives. the people running the Ami are satmar graduates… they are definitely very intelligent pple but do not know where to draw the line between secularism and real yiddishkeit. They don’t even know how to combine it. In many ways I consider them like a modern orthodox chassidish magazine.. their hashkafos are MO; they have a way of diminishing the santity of topics, discussions and hashkafa….

  37. I am a huge fan of AMI: I find the articles excellent and thought-provoking. But my favorite part this week was when Rabbi Frankfurter complains about the confusion in Nadler’s statement, ironically using words like obfuscate & gobbledygook. His penchant for using hi-falutin’ vocabulary in his editorials drives me crazy: the magazine is intended for ordinary folk without a degree in Sanskrit. Less is more & simple language removes pomposity.

    Having said that, this week’s magazine was one of the best issues I have read. My only complaint (apart from Rabbi Frankfurter’s vocabulary) is that it was too thin: I read every article, including the recipes in the AMI Living.

    I certainly am no Torah scholar, but I must confess to being puzzled by the content a few weeks ago that spurred this debate. It does seem odd that it would have been included in the article and I didn’t get the point.

    Lastly: I think AMI is intended for ALL frum people, Chareidim, Chassidim, no matter the headgear or thickness of stockings. I am Chassidic & I look forward to reading it. I refuse to buy Mishpacha and this week’s disgusting article on Har Habayis & Arabs attacking us proves my reluctance.

  38. #7, it is not true the MO are Ami’s true clientele. There are very few if any MO authors articles about MO Jews. Most articles and stories are about shidduchim, rebbes, jobs for which you wouldn’t need a college education, and other things that wouldn’t be that relevant to most MO. There’s never any mention of Zionism or any religious zionist rabbis or teachings. All their political commentary about the Israeli draft law was 100% pro-charedi.

  39. Who are we analyzing and defending here?

    Rabbi Frankfurter, who has made insensitive comments about abuse victims and their advocates, who took a stand on the recent Weberman trial that is immoral. He chose to interview George Farkas a lawyer that defends child molesters over Rabbi Yanki Horowitz a person dedicated to fighting abuse for over 20 years?

    Frankfurter bashed the RCA for giving a public statement in support of webermans victim. One should ask this question is Rabbi Frankfurter opinion being formulated out of ignorance? Perhaps bias? Or is he himself devoid of morals? None of the above would justify his position.
    His actions are simply inexcusable.

    Are Ami’s recipes too good to pass up? I dont think so.

  40. Rabbi Frankfurter prides himself of being a pupil of the Gaon Rav Dovid Soloveitchik shlitah and that he listens to his counsel. Please can someone translate the relevant editorial to the Gaon and record his reaction. At the same time please also mention that Rabbi F. gives a lot of space in his magazine to Lubavitchers. I would love to know Rav Soloveitchik’s opinion on that too.

  41. Ami is a Leftist publication. It makes me sick to read it, which is why I refuse to buy it. Not even their holiday issue to get the fiction.
    Computerbubby, in shocked you still read this garbage!

  42. What’s the basis for calling it leftist? The fact that it has articles on charedim that work? Otherwise the magazine is very charedi. I don’t understand….

  43. How can major Orthodox institutions not call for a boycott of Ami after publishing unsubstantiated, unsupported, unscientific nonsense? Do Ortohdox groups not defend the Gemara and Mishna?

    The lack of outrage is more problematic than the initial apikorses published by Ami

  44. I can’t believe the amount of לשון הרע that’s going around here,especially at a time of so much צרות in klal Yisrael, ..והוא רחום יכפר עון וכו

  45. This analysis of the Gemara by Rabbi Frankfurter reeks of the Jewish Reformers.

    Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch’s student Graetz went off the beam after boarding by him after three years.

    Graetz took one word that described (happy, sad, morose, etc) a Rabbi in the Gemora and extrapolated that the Rabbi had that trait that was his entire character!

    Sad to say this conjecture by Rabbi Frankfurter runs along the same lines—and these lines ended up in the train wreck of Orthodoxy in Germany that led to the Holocaust.

    All Torah-true Jews must condemn his article and hope he will have the honesty to retract his words.

  46. I stopped buying it ever since the article about Lev tahor. I was so upset becuase we bought Ami every week. It should be banned. Im now a yeshiva world fan for having the guts to publish this article.

  47. To #48

    Some recipes are very good (but I don’t potchke much these days!)

    To #49

    What’s the problem with giving “space” to Lubavitchers? Is it the same problem as giving space to Satmar? Your comment seems to fit in more with Mishpacha.

    To #50

    Reading different publications broadens the mind. Admittedly, often I’m OK if my mind isn’t broadened, but my political beliefs have nothing to do with my enjoyment of a magazine.

    To #55

    The Lev Tahor article was horrendous & I confess I was considering not buying AMI after that. Then I thought I am capable of separating the garbage & bias from responsible journalism, & why cut off my nose to spite my face?

  48. While I find the Rabbi Frankfurter’s argument to be speculative and unconvincing, what really saddens me is the overwhelming sense of anger emanating from the comments above which seem to assume that Rabbi Frankfurter accused Rabbi Elazar of something sinful, immoral or shameful.

    But he did no such thing. He merely speculated that Rabbi Elazar may have been suffering from a passing psychological disorder. I assume that had Rabbi Frankfurter speculated that Rabbi Elazar had been suffering from a broken leg or an overactive thyroid no one would be upset. Great rabbis fall ill. The many angry comments above are a sad reflection of the community’s attitude towards mental illness. Folks, mental illness is just a form of illness and it often stems from something physical. It is not evil, immoral, sinful or shameful.

    I could readily understand anger had Rabbi Frankfurter suggested that Rabbi Elazar’s halchik or moral views stemmed from some psychological disorder or mental illness, c”v. But he did no such thing. And so I find the reaction to Rabbi Frankfurter’s unconvincing argument more disturbing than the argument itself.

  49. i didnt see the article re Rav Elazar. However, i was first doubtful of the magazine’s agenda when i saw the cover displaying dennis ross’ leftist interview explaing that obama loves israel. i decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. however, when i saw him covering up for jerrold wadler, then i got sick and decided that this magazine went bezerk. i’m BOYCOTTING ami till they straighten out again. i think the frankfurter went bad.

  50. The “pshat” that was printed in ami wasn’t fit for a “bar bei rav dchad yoime” it was plain am haratzes!! + Chutzpah the author just embarrassed himself by publicizing his weakness in understanding basic learning skills in the world of gemoroh!
    As for mental illness or other problems etc. there are enough of them mentioned openly that we don’t have to fabricate them reb yoichenon himself was yotzo medatoi from having lost resh lokish etc…

  51. Talmidchochom: the Lakewood community is OUTRAGED! Most stores have stopped selling it. Hoping to eradicate it completely from this town so no minds slowly get poisoned.

  52. Mental illness is usually hidden not spoken about like years ago down syndrome autism etc. Maybe now is the time to bring it out in the open and eradicate the shame and pain that families facing it can talk about it and get the right help and support needed. It should be spoken and written about like any other illness – the words crazy meshuga are terribly unfair to describe them – these people and families are hurting beyond. No person or family is immuned and only by writing and talking openly and accepting allot of these people and families could be helped. Many mental people are not going for help because they’re smart enough and don t want to be labeled. Here Ami is trying to portray that it can happen to anyone. I’m not saying that saying it about Amorim was the right thing maybe he should have discussed it with Daas Torah but the message was due high time. I love the Ami magazine and I don’t have to agree with everyone’s viewpoint.

  53. Neighbor:

    It will take more than just Lakewood to put this magazine and its publisher out of business. Until Jewish Orthodox leadership comes out in protest, the AMI magazine will continue to thrive. Controversial publications get lots of readership although everyone is too cowardly to admit that they read it.

    Where is the leadership?

  54. comment 57 above left the most convincing comment in my opinion. Rabbi Frankfurter’s words might have been poorly chosen, but at the end of the day, it is clear that he was only trying to assert that darkness in life (WHAT WE CALL MENTAL ILLNESS) has always been around by the greatest of people and can be helped. It is not evil or taboo as many people wrongly feel.

  55. #59 – I can’t say for all the commentators, but I believe Rav Hoffman wasn’t coming to discredit any possibility of a Tanna or Amora having to face mental illness, nor to say that such a thing is disgraceful. (like someone already mentioned, Rav Yochanon became mentally ill at the end of his life.)

    The point of the article, I believe, is that one shouldn’t make up things when quoting chazal in order to try to bring proofs to an agenda. This is what he is claiming Rabbi Frankfurter is doing.

    As far as all the animosity that many are showing, I agree with you it is way out of proportion!

  56. #20 besalel is right. I do dementia research and I have actually used the respect and dignity that Rav Yosef was shown by his fellows as a model for how we should be treating those with serious mental disorders.

    I am not knowledgeable enough to debate the merits of this particular machloket, but there is NO disrespect to say that a great sage has developed a physical or mental illness. We now know that almost all mental illness has a physical cause. We should be supportive and not shaming!

  57. Whether this p’shat is making fun or not, the point is that the only other place you would find this p’shat (which is probably where the ami got this p’shat) is on a blog by some reform rabbi.