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Tagged: Gedolim, Rav kook, Rav Soliveichik, the rav, Zionism
- This topic has 165 replies, 31 voices, and was last updated 1 year, 1 month ago by Always_Ask_Questions.
December 2, 2021 3:28 pm at 3:28 pm #2037163
It pains me to see how great talmidei chachamim, like R’ Yoshe Ber and Rav Kook, get denigrated and scorned for political/ ideological reasons. Torah should not be politicized and so much amazing Torah that could be widespread is only learned or at least correctly attributed by small segments of the MO and DL communities. Those who may be from the gedolei hador are not seen as such simply because they are not members of the Moetzes and are YU Roshei Yeshiva and not Lakewood or Mir Roshei Yeshiva.December 2, 2021 4:18 pm at 4:18 pm #2037407
You’re 100% correct.December 2, 2021 6:09 pm at 6:09 pm #2037429n0mesorahParticipant
Here is the flip side. Those who learn their seforim, do so with more objectivity. Because they are trying to really understand the authors as opposed to just putting them in line with all else that they have already learned. Some of the most revered seforim would benefit from controversy so that we would take a fresh look at the authors intentions.December 2, 2021 8:33 pm at 8:33 pm #2037413
Gedolei hador cannot be influenced by the tides of outside, alien philosophy. They are the pure transmitters of the mesorah. Being very knowledgeable and intelligent does not alone make one a gadol batorah. One can also lose their status if they fall prey to the yatzer hora. Acher was a tanna who fell into greek avodah zara. rabbi kook and rabbi yoshe ber fell into European Nationalism and other foreign philosophies. The chazon ish forbade explicitly to read rabbi kook’s books. The shach and taz had a lot of machlokes, but never did they ban one another. Lest someone invoke the ban on the rambam, teshuvaso betzidah – as time went on, the rambam only gained in acceptance. With rabbi yoshe ber and rabbi kook it’s the total opposite; early on not many opposed them and they were afforded great honor (which they actually deserved for having been big in learning, I’m not going to take that away from them), however as time goes on they are becoming less and less accepted, with the torah world distancing itself ever more from them.December 2, 2021 9:05 pm at 9:05 pm #2037422
The same with great talmidei chachamim such as R’ Saul Lieberman, R’ Shlomo Goren and R’ Avrohom Weiss of Riverdale.December 2, 2021 9:09 pm at 9:09 pm #2037485
We should respect them and not denigrate them. However, we are also not mechiyuv to pull their wagon by following their hashkafa.December 2, 2021 9:11 pm at 9:11 pm #2037490
I agree. I am sad to admit that I sometimes post thought picked from someone without proper attribution, as there will be always someone saying it is from wrong derech, or I have to attach a page of explaining why this Rabbi is acceptable.December 3, 2021 1:00 am at 1:00 am #2037584bigchoosidParticipant
Very difficult topic. If the main thing is the dvar torah regardless of the author where do we draw the line? We may view Rav Kook as a true Gadol and many thousands do. But on the other hand many view him in a not so positive way ( to put it mildly). The same with the Rav (as his admirers called him)
So is it OK to learn Torah from anyone? Or is it better to stay away from his teachings because you might get influenced? Many Gedolim held the latter. So it boils down to what your Rebbe or Rosh Yeshiva holds. This is not something you should decide on your own.December 3, 2021 1:02 am at 1:02 am #2037597HaKatanParticipant
Right on. Yasher Koach.December 3, 2021 3:00 am at 3:00 am #2037592Shimon NodelParticipant
Avira, Acher didn’t do avoda zaraDecember 3, 2021 5:40 am at 5:40 am #2037633boruchbrown123Participant
@AviraDeArah “Gedolei hador cannot be influenced by the tides of outside, alien philosophy.”
This is a new development in yiddishkeit in the past 300-400 years. Whilst there were certainly individual gedolim through Jewish history that were more isolationist, the vast majority (from Tanach through to the Rishonim) were deeply engaged and even influenced by the world around them.
Having a godol hermetically sealed in a box to avoid any outside ‘contamination’ is not in line with our mesorah.December 3, 2021 5:44 am at 5:44 am #2037626
Shimon, in chagigah 15a we see that acher adopted Zoroastrian dualism, “shtei reshuyos” in the lashon of chazal. He saw the malaach matat sitting, and he knew that no one sits in the presence of Hashem, so there must chas veshalom be two reshuyos. While we don’t have a record of him performing acts of idol worship, this belief system is completely avodah zara.December 3, 2021 9:28 am at 9:28 am #2037640motchah11Participant
@boruchbrown123 As a matter of fact, not being influenced by alien philosophy is as old as the Torah itself. It was the reason many at first assured learning the Rambam, as they mistakenly thought he was influenced by Greek philosophy. It was fought against by the Chashmonaim. For the Torah says “Ki hi chochmaschem uvinaschem l’ainai ha’amim…”December 3, 2021 11:24 am at 11:24 am #2037676
It says in Pirkei Avos, איזהו חכם הלומד מכל אדם, who is wise who can learn from everyone even from Acher as Rebbi Meir did, who was able to eat the fruit and throw away the pit or the shells. However, we can only learn from someone who we can respect and look up to in appreciation like an angel.December 3, 2021 11:24 am at 11:24 am #2037680
BoruchBrown is correct. This extreme perishus is recent.December 3, 2021 11:27 am at 11:27 am #2037692
There are a few important points here
A) there is a difference between learning someone’s seforim and how we address or categorize gedolim. Before anyone here denigrates Rav Kook or Rav Yosha Ber Zt”l first ask yourself how the gedolim of their time treated them. My understanding is that both were revered tremendously by the other gedolim of their time (ex. R YS Sonnenfeld and Rav Kook, R Moshe and R. Aharon with Rav Yosha Ber). Some gedolim may have seen a danger in what their philosophies may lead to but they held these “questionable” gedolim in the very highest esteem.
B) The danger posed by various philosophies changes over time. I think most people would agree that haskala is not a major threat to Orthodox Judaism today. It is just not where the yeitzer hara is investing right now. So too with religious zionism of the 1920s and modern Orthodoxy of the 1950s
C) UJM’s classification of “gedolim” is way off base. To put Avi Weiss, Saul Leiberman and Rav Kook in the same boat is lunacy.December 3, 2021 11:33 am at 11:33 am #2037725
See rashi on yaft elokim leyefes; even a positive admixture causes the shechina to depart
The maskilim try to have their cake and eat it too, by saying that they should be allowed to mix with goyim and change the mesorah…. And that they’re “really* the traditionalists, because only the chasam sofer started a new mahalach that you can’t change. That’s a stirah minay ubay. If it were true, why would suddenly all the people who just happen to be meticulous in halacha get up and make up a new religious model? Fear of losing their “control”? If that were true, that’s accusing the gedolei yisroel of falsifying Torah, something the maharshal says is yehereg velo yaavor.
Chazal said torah bagoyim al taamin, and that includes all hashkofic issues, as they’re hilchos dayos. ואבדיל אתכם מן העמים להיות למ, i have separated you from the goyim to be mine.. Chazal say if you are separate, then you are mine.December 3, 2021 11:38 am at 11:38 am #2037730
During his lifetime, RJBS referred to himself, published under the name as, and his rabbinic colleagues and students referred to him as Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik. His rabbinic peers (equals) generally called him (in person to him and between themselves) simply by those two initials of his first names. There wasn’t and isn’t anything derogatory about that. The reverence in mostly referring to him as R’ Yoshe Ber is, for the most part, posthumous by those seeking to raise his stature.December 3, 2021 11:59 am at 11:59 am #2037734
CTR: Rav Aharon Kotler ZT’L, and Rav Schneur ZT’L after him, would under no circumstances even walk into YU. Rav Elchonon Wasserman ZT’L also, when he came to America in the ’30s, was invited to speak in YU, and he refused to even walk in to the place. (The fact that Rav Moshe went into YU does not show he was not opposed to it, but rather that even if he is opposed to it, that doesn’t mean he may not enter it. Different Gedolim had different ways of expressing themselves in these issues.)
Rav Aharon Kotler ZTV’L, in Mishnas Rabi Aharon (Vol. 3, Hesped on the Brisker Rav) states that the essence of Modern Orthodoxy is the same as the Reform and Conservative. That is, change Judaism into something that more people will be willing to accept.
Rav Shimon Schwab, Mitteilungen, Bulletin of Khal Adas Yeshurun April/May 1989:
“Sometimes the Modern Orthodox halachic foolishness which is flirting with the anti-Torah establishment, may border on heresy. This is all part and parcel of the spiritual confusion of the dark ages in which we happen to live”.
“However, in addition to the legitimate shitos we have discussed, there is yet another, more modern version in vogue called “Torah Umaada”. Apparently this is identical with Torah Im Derech Eretz, especially since both claim a belief in the priority of Torah over maada. Both seems exactly alike, but like two left gloves which cannot be worn together, they don’t fit!December 3, 2021 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm #2037735
Ctl, ujm was being sarcastic, i think.
A lot of people say that the YH for haskalah was something our zaydes had to fend off and the nowadays the YH is all about tayvah. I think this was true in the 90s and 2000s. I believe the haskalah virus, with the mass dissemination capacity of the internet, has found many new hosts and is raging silently. Gone are the inflammatory newspapers and youth groups, but quietly, even lomdei torah are being influenced by garbage online. Prior to slifkin and the bumbling bloggers, no one had heard of haskalah driven hashkofa questions, rishonim who held rejected viewpoints, achronim who were influenced by Bible criticism(or even just the Bible critics themselves). No one honestly cared.
Just look at some of the posts online. I’m sure the posters who make claims like boruch above got ensnared by garbage online. They definitely didn’t hear it from their rebbeim.
Re, zionism… As long as there is a shmad state, there will be a need to know that we must be separate from it and recognize the false ideology it represents.
Re, other gedolim’s view of controversial rabbis…rabbi kook had a PR job done to him by both his supporters and detractors. His opponents tried to erase him from early 20th century Judaism. His supporters conjured up a fantasy world where the gedolim all held of him. The truth is that he was initially respected and held of, but was discovered to have had hashkofos that at the very least disqualified him from being an authority to rely on hashkofically. Rav zonnenfeld participated in the cherem. The chazon ish assered his seforim. Rav elchanan called him a rasha openly. That’s not talked about much, but it’s true.
Re, rabbi yoshe ber. It’s complicated; post war America needed solidarity. If the gedolim had made a huge machaah over him, it would have made a schism and undermined our efforts to rebuild torah. Especially considering that rabbi yoshe ber was on the side of building judaism and had faults that did not disrupt that goal overall. If torah were rebuilt and some people held of torah umada and Zionism, it’s wront, but can be addressed once we fight conservatism, reform and orthodox indifference to education. He was also a brisker at heart who often thought closer to his roots, sometimes wavering into modernishe ideas, sometimes not – he also firmly opposed bible criticism and radical changes that his followers would later try to implement (i.e feminism)
Yet in private, rav aharon definitely did not consider him to be one of the gedolei hador – go ask his talmidim; it’s not a secret.December 3, 2021 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm #2037736GadolhadorahParticipant
Referring to rabbonim by their first names makes sense given that surnames have come into widespread use only later in our mesorah. In the time of chazal and before the advent of surnames, R’ XYZ ben ABC would likely have been referred to by his peers and talmidim only as XYZ (since presumably his ABC lineage was known)December 3, 2021 1:17 pm at 1:17 pm #2037768
UJM: I don’t understand why you are confusing Rav Slovetchik the man with YU the institution. Rav Aharon also had an issue with Ner Yisroel in Baltimore allowing boys to go to college bec. he felt it would be better to be in learning full time without anything else. Rav Aharon would speak very strongly against it. That does not mean that he treated Rav Ruderman with the slightest bit of disrespect. He held Rav Ruderman in the highest regard. He may have disagreed with Rav Slovetchik on more issues but he still held Rav Solovetchik to be a gadol shebisyrael.
Even the other gedolim who taught in YU may also not have agreed with the hashkafa of YU the institution but that does not change their gadlus. Do you have an issue with R. Shimon Shkop? Rav Dovid Lifshutz? etc.
Another point to keep in mind is that while Rav Solovetchik may be seen as the leader of modern Orthodoxy that does not mean that he agreed with all that MO created. In fact he fact a bigger kanoi on a lot more than the public attributes to him.
Anyone who speaks badly about a bona fide talmid chacham is playing with fire.December 3, 2021 3:15 pm at 3:15 pm #2037782
Also, while rav aharon did not approve of having college in the same building as a yeshiva, he definitely held of rav rudermanDecember 4, 2021 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm #2037779
Ct, YU had a lot of influences before, during and after rabbi yoshe ber that were much more modern then he was. Rav elchanan visited it and torah vodaas, and remarked that YU is a bad Yeshiva with a good name, and that torah vodaas is a good Yeshiva with a bad name (the name implied that there’s something more than torah… It was given that name to make a board member happy who attended such a school in Europe..YU was named for rav yitzchok elchonon spekter).
Rabbi yoshe ber was responsible for only some of the problems in YU, but that isn’t really relevant to the view that gedolim had of him personally. He was told by rav shraga feivel that he could actually be a rosh yeshiva in torah vodaas if his wife would cover her hair, he would stop going to operas, and a 3rs condition that is supposed to be kept secretDecember 4, 2021 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm #2037915
Speaking of titles, someone commented that, ironically, Rav Feinstein was addressed as “Rosh Yeshiva” while Rav Soloveichik as “Rav” – while R Feinstein is mostly known for his teshuvos and had a small Yeshiva, while R Soloveichik is mostly known for raising students.December 4, 2021 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm #2037925
Aviradeah: Please explain your statement. What does Rav Ruderman have to do with college in the same building as a yeshiva? There is no such thing in Ner Israel and there never was.
I think that rumor started in the same place that said Jews have hornsDecember 4, 2021 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm #2037927smerelParticipant
I’m not going to get involved in this conversation and certainly not about specific people but I will however say over something that Rav Yaakov Kamentky said in a smooze in Camp Ohr Shraga at a time of controversy.
“If there is a difference in opinion between me and the Satmar Rebbe whether a specific person is a Tzadik or a Rosha then just go with the opinion of whoever you usually follow because it is probably an underlying haskafa question based on Mesorah. If however despite our similar haskafa and upbringing there is still a difference in opinion between me and Rav Moshe Feinstein whether someone is a Tzadik or a Rosha then no matter who your Rebbe is and what he told you STAY AWAY FROM THAT PERSON!!!”December 5, 2021 3:16 am at 3:16 am #2037943
smerel: How are you applying Rav Yaakov’s point to this conversation?December 5, 2021 3:23 am at 3:23 am #2037986
Ctl; ner yisroel doesn’t have a section on campus where boys have collegw classes? I’m pretty sure it’s through john hopkins university, vetted by yeshiva staffDecember 5, 2021 8:29 pm at 8:29 pm #2038261
Avira, I think most are going off campus with some classes/programs on campus. Do you have a problem with second? when you get a college program without getting into classes with questionable behaviors and wasting commuting time. In recent times, you should be able to get an online degree also at any yeshiva – Floria State, Arizona State, New Hampshire Southern. From my kids’ emerging experience, it is much better to have a group – at least 2 kids – who enroll in the same class. Added bonus – kids learn to balance their learning with life responsibilities so you have more assurance that they are not falling apart after yeshiva.December 5, 2021 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm #2038285
This is what is pressing for yidden on Zos Chanukah 5782??December 5, 2021 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm #2038295
AAQ, I’m not machnis roshi bein shnei harim – rav aharon held against it and he was against college in general; rav ruderman used to say that he “doesn’t have the plaitzes of rav aharon” to take achrayus for the yungerleit having parnosa. Rav ruderman was a huge gadol batorah, and he doesn’t need my haskama; ner yisroel is a yeshiva kedosha and has its mesorah with its line of very choshuv roshei yeshiva.December 5, 2021 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm #2038323
YO: I must congratulate you on becoming a baal teshuva, by switching counting from the years of Yushke to counting the years from when Hashem created the world!December 6, 2021 5:52 am at 5:52 am #2038356
Avira, notice your circular reasoning – when you consider someone not just a gadol bTorah but with “mesorah in line” (who defines the line?), then it is OK and you are humbly withholding your opinion. When something is done by a gadol bTorah without your mesorah in line, then you bring farfetched explanations about people’s behaviors and motivations with absolutely no humility – and defend positions against those held by the gadol you do respect. I think you are fooling yourself when you claim not to judge gedolim.December 6, 2021 11:25 am at 11:25 am #2038461
Avira: Get it straight, Ner Israel never had college classes on campus. Never. Boys do get college degrees-off campus. The yeshiva helps them to use yeshiva credits to finish faster. If you consider learning gemara, rishonim and poskim and getting college credit for that then you would be correct.
However, that would be the same for most yeshivos today including BMG. Guys have been going to college in Ner Israel (off campus) just as long as guys in Chaim Berlin and Torah Vodaas.
And by the way: there are a lot more boys in BMG currently enrolled in college than Ner Israel.
I find it so strange how people make rumors with no basis to reality and accept them as fact.December 6, 2021 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm #2038510
CTR “there are a lot more boys in BMG currently enrolled in college than Ner Israel.” There are also more than 10 times more boys enrolled in BMG; I would be intrested in hearing percentage wise who has more.
UJM “His rabbinic peers (equals) generally called him (in person to him and between themselves) simply by those two initials of his first names. There wasn’t and isn’t anything derogatory about that. The reverence in mostly referring to him as R’ Yoshe Ber is, for the most part, posthumous by those seeking to raise his stature.”
And yet those beneath him should have no excuse to refer to him as such. If R’Yaakov Kamenetzky was called Yankel by his peers no bachur or yungerman or maggid shiur would chv¨sh call him by such a name.December 6, 2021 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm #2038513
ujm, do you put the Jewish year on a check? The suggestion is not to use numbers for months but the abbreviation of its secular name and just use the last two digits of the year.December 6, 2021 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm #2038538
Mesivta Bochor: The general frum world (non-rabbis) generally referred to him during his lifetime as “Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik”.December 6, 2021 1:01 pm at 1:01 pm #2038542ubiquitinParticipant
“, Ner Israel never had college classes on campus. Never.”
“Never” is a bit strong, I took classes on campus (it was when the college had Winter break, as we had our own scheudl with semester going Sukos to Pesac, in order to finish on time.
Though, to be fair , while the hanala looked the other way, it was stressed that keeping it from the Rosh haYeshiva was a must.
A larger point that is being ignored is that Ner Yisroel has (had? ) an office with a guy whose job was to serve as a guidance counselor guiding with credits, classes etc etc. I dont think this exists in BMG.
UJM’s point “The general frum world (non-rabbis) generally referred to him during his lifetime as “Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik”.” Is of course silly (As he knows)
Words, names chaneg all the time. in his life time, many talmidim referred to him as JB, it was a term of endearment. Today when said it is not. We all refer to Beloved Roshei Yeshiva as R’ Dovis, R’ Moshe R’ Aron, obviously we wouldnt refer to them in person that way. Just becasue a name is acceptable in one context (or era) does not mean that same name is ok in another.December 6, 2021 2:08 pm at 2:08 pm #2038546
and yet sadly, today many people leave ou the Rabbi and desparigingly reffer to the Rav by his initials, (not the GRI¨D).December 6, 2021 3:45 pm at 3:45 pm #2038623
AAQ, I don’t think it’s circular at all; some rabbis have a mesorah and some have made a name for themselves while either leaving their mesorah or never having had one to begin with. Those who are pure in their beliefs and have spent their lives completely immersed in Torah without admixtures of foreign influence are worthy of having their opinions hallowed and revered as ayin ponim latorah even if average yodeah sefer individuals such as myself may have not been taught that way.
When a rabbi has a view of Torah mixed with haskalah or any other non-torah influence, that view is not worthy of respect, nor is the person who maintains it viewed as an authority or someone I can’t judge as i would any other non-gadol jew – I’m not out to judge them unfavorably nor do i think that they are all apikorsim, reshoim or what have you. I don’t think rabbi yoshe ber Soloveitchik, or rabbi hershel shechter was/is either of those things. But they are f lawed torah scholars with some opinions based on foreign influences and as such have biases that prevent them from being termed gedolei yisroel to whom i must be machniah. I am machniah myself to many rabbis who were on a lower level of learning than rabbi yoshe ber, but i do so because of their pure Torah minds.December 6, 2021 3:45 pm at 3:45 pm #2038624
I’m not sure which many people you’re referring to.
And just as RJBS found his two initials endearing, as ubiq said, there’s nothing that changed posthumously. As long as you include that title Rabbi in front, it is not only perfectly correct but it is exactly as he himself preferred.December 6, 2021 5:21 pm at 5:21 pm #2038651ubiquitinParticipant
“And just as RJBS found his two initials endearing, as ubiq said”
I never said that
” there’s nothing that changed posthumously”
Its not a posthumous change per se, it is the intent.
“As long as you include that title Rabbi in front, it is not only perfectly correct”
I think most would agree with that.
for that matter Rabbi Moses Feinstein is fine too (as was written on his letterhead)December 6, 2021 8:26 pm at 8:26 pm #2038682
Re: classes on campus.
Is this considered bad to have college classes on the yeshiva property? Is this decreasing kedusha of learning? Would people start reading math books during mussar shmoozim? This may be a valid concern, but on the other hand, would it not be better for bochrim to study college classes together rather than go to a different campus with all kind of problems there? In one of the high school yeshivos that starting using online public school for secular subjects, they have 2 floors – so they physically go to another floor to learn non-Torah subjects, use laptops there, then go back.
Furthermore, if they learn humanities or sciences like physics and psychology, it would be good for someone in yeshiva to address hashkofa questions that arise from there. I do this with my kids all the time – when they were at schools, where “goiyishe teachers” sometimes were disconnected from the Jewish curriculum and even better in online schools/colleges. In a recent class on astronomy, we did possibly whole maase bereshis 🙂 In psychology, read R Twersky’s teshuvos. In US Gov, discussed Jewish view of government starting with Shmuel…December 7, 2021 9:30 am at 9:30 am #2038956
My rebbi, Rav Simcha Bunim Ehrenfeld, Mattersdorfer Rav ztzl referred to him as Rav Yoshev Ber ztz’l
and the Beis Haleivi having the same name.December 7, 2021 10:14 am at 10:14 am #2038961
Reb Eliezer: What was your rebbi’s opinion of him?December 7, 2021 11:56 am at 11:56 am #2039011
ujm, he never said anything bad about him.December 7, 2021 5:41 pm at 5:41 pm #2039142ravhamachshilParticipant
AVA, your point regarding that over time they respect having degraded is false. Today people in communities worldwide have the Utmost respect for the Rav.
Frankly I think it is that people of your mindset making such bold and rash statements regarding this great sages of our times is what is lowering the way people look at them.
That is to say many people don’t even know who these giants were and upon a closer look by them they would have great respect. However there is a flaw where as people do, they make brash statements that prevent individuals from even beginning to give the right amount of Kavod to great torah scholarsDecember 7, 2021 6:34 pm at 6:34 pm #2039155
> people don’t even know who these giants were
I am guessing people mold an image of gedolim in their own (limited) image. We often do not have facts readily available. Unless you are a close student, or a family member of a close students, we rely on written sources that are often hagiographies, omitting controversial issues and hard decisions. Most of character-clarifying details I find (and quote here sometimes) come from reading sources, where someone mentions details while discussing something else.December 7, 2021 6:34 pm at 6:34 pm #2039156GadolhadorahParticipant
“But they (JBS, etc) are flawed torah scholars with some opinions based on foreign influences and as such have biases that prevent them from being termed gedolei yisroel to whom i must be machniah.
Sounds like you would subscribe to the views of the late Justice Scalia who was famous for stedfastly refusing to join any portions of his colleague’s opinions that implicitly were based on foreign influences and sarcastic dismissal of any judicial citations of foreign law to establish that the position was consistent with chukas hagoyim. However, that disagreement never spilled over to a personal level as noted in a hesped of Scalia by the infamous RBG who (along with the Court’s other Yiddeshe Justice) was probably the most frequent author of opinions with such citations.
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