Monday, June 10, 2013

Demonstration Demonstrates Dueling Daas





The events of the past week have restored my faith in the Halachik process.

Unfortunately, in recent years, it seems as if we have left the Shtetl and joined the global village.

Whereas Psak used to be localized, nowadays we've looked to the great rabbinic leaders of Eretz Yisroel and the diasporic rabbis have fallen in line, none daring to question the leading sages.

The demonstration that took place on Sunday in Manhattan's Foley Square was populated primarily by various Chassidim; and many Litvishe Rabbonim and Rosh Yeshivos joined and urged their followers to attend.  Yet other Litvishe groups were told by their spiritual leaders to stay away. See blogging buddy The Partial View for more details.

It seems that Rav CHAIM Kanievsky was originally supportive of the gathering, yet later issued a retraction (when he was informed that Rav Shteinman opposed it).  As one wit quipped, "Eilu V'eilu Divrei Elokim CHAIM". 

In any event, it is refreshing to see that localized Psak has returned.  Eilu V'eilu Divrei Elokim Chaim.

21 comments:

  1. Great post. One of your best. - Yonatan

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    1. I see that it takes an honorable mention to receive a comment from you. In any event, it was well worth it. ;-)

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  3. Actually from what I heard Rav Chaim was never in favour of the demonstration. Someone claimed he was, he publicly announced in writing that he wasn't and then someone forged a letter claiming he was after that. What does that say about the accuracy of "Daas Torah" nowadays?

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    1. I guess there is no way to really tell, but from the real letter of his he wrote that he defers to Rav Shteinman. That leads one to believe that if not for Rav Shteinman, he would approve.

      Although this is not a Daas Torah forum, I think many confuse DT with infallibility. To me, DT means that someone who spends his time in holy endeavors, is privy to heavenly assisted advice that can be trusted. Hopefully provided by a spirituality which is not guided by prejudice.

      Of course there will be disagreement, even among Torah greats, as Machlokes is in our genes.

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  4. Local Psak? That is Rav Steinman, who is on the ground in Eretz YisroelJune 10, 2013 at 4:27 PM

    "Whereas Psak used to be localized, nowadays we've looked to the great rabbinic leaders of Eretz Yisroel and the diasporic rabbis have fallen in line, none daring to question the leading sages."

    "In any event, it is refreshing to see that localized Psak has returned"

    While the issue of localized psak is important, in this case I think the above analysis is in error.

    The idea of localized psak being preferred is because someone on the ground in a specific location is assumed to best know the matzav there, and therefore be able to factor it into his deliberations and psak, enabling the ruling to well fit the situation on the ground. In this case, the role and status of local decisor (posek) is filled by Maran Rav Steinman shlit"a, who is on the scene in Eretz Yisroel and knows the matzav there. Not others in New York, New Jersey, or wherever else they may be outside Eretz Yisroel. In addition to the fact that Maran Rav Steinman shlita, is a zokein hador, kipshuto as well as kemidrasho.

    To think that people residing in New York or New Jersey can have a status of 'local poskim' and the assumed expertise that carries with it, over zekeinim shebador in Eretz Yisroel, where this issue is playing out, is a serious error.

    If people want to go to a rally to let off steam that is another matter. However, the goal here mitzad Rav Steinman, and other gedolim in Eretz Yisroel like Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlit"a, who will have to live with the results, is to help the situation, not just to vent frustrations and anger, which can sometimes make things worse.

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    1. You make a great point, in that local in this case is Eretz Yisroel. Yet it seems that RCK would have backed the demonstration had Rav Shteinman not decided otherwise - hence there is disagreement even with those who are local.

      I have spoken several times with both Rav Eli Beer Wachtfogel and Rav Ahron Shechter, and knowing them and the respect they deserve, and knowing that they are well aware of Rav Shteinman's Psak, and knowing that they still went ahead with the demonstration and encouraged others to go, leaves me to believe that there is more to this story that we don't know.

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  5. 1) "You make a great point, in that local in this case is Eretz Yisroel."

    Thanks.

    2) "Yet it seems that RCK would have backed the demonstration had Rav Shteinman not decided otherwise."

    Debatable. Even if so, that may have been with regard to an Agudah tefillah type gathering. But that is not the same as a Satmar led demonstration.

    3) "hence there is disagreement even with those who are local."

    That implies that Rav Chaim and Rav Aharon Leib are on the same level, and equal baalei pelugta. However, even though they are both muflagim bechachma ubeziknah, ba"h, Rav Aharon Leib is significantly ahead of Rav Chaim in certain of those very relevant and important categories (even if not necessarily all). Rav Aharon Leib is from a previous dor, from Europe before the churban. There is a reason why Rav Chaim was mevatel himself to Rav Aharon Leib, no? Do you think he did it for no reason?

    There is an inyan of hanhogo, to be manhig in matters of great importance affecting myriads of the tzibbur, what some would call 'public policy issues'. When Rav Chaim said that hanhogo was given to Rav Aharon Leib, that is what he was talking about.

    4) "I have spoken several times with both Rav Eli Beer Wachtfogel..."

    Rav Elya Ber, correct me if I am wrong, halt zich far a Brisker (considers himself a Brisker), so he looks to them for direction, not to Rav Steinman. The Brisk in Eretz Yisroel that he follows is connected to the Edah Charedis. So from him is no raya, no chiddush that he wouldn't follow Rav Aharon Leib. That also explains the participation of other types that feel as or are closer to Brisk, such as Beis Hatalmud, Patterson, etc.

    5) "I have spoken several times with both Rav Eli Beer Wachtfogel and Rav Ahron Shechter"

    I didn't know that you were that connected. Did you speak to them in depth or just very briefly? Still, as you yourself say, you are still without a clear understanding, left "to believe that there is more to this story that we don't know."

    I can accept that, but still maintain my position. Rav Aharon Leib shlit"a has ziknah, in addition to other maalos, over all the others you mention. So hanhogo was nimsar to him.

    P.S. As an aside, you wrote that "many Litvishe Rabbonim and Rosh Yeshivos joined and urged their followers to attend. Yet other Litvishe groups were told by their spiritual leaders to stay away.'

    Those words imply that more Litvishe joined than stayed away. I question that.

    And another point. Leaving aside Litvishe Roshei Yeshiva and Rabbanim, how many rank and file Litvishe followers attended? From what I have seen, not too many. What does that say about the influence of Rav Elya Ber, Rav Aharon Schechter, et al, then, among the Litvishe tzibbur?

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    1. R' Chaim Kaiefsky was born in Israel, and Rav Steinman is a transplant. Perhaps that should give Rabbi Kaiefsky the upper hand in this debate?

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    2. reb chaim was not born in israel

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    3. Interesting. Rav Chaim Kanievsky was born in 1928, and the Steipler family moved to EY only in 1934. Hence, RCK was not born in EY. Yet Rav Shteinman WAS born in Bnei Brak! He subsequently moved to Europe, then back to EY.

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  6. It is a pleasure to debate with you. But perhaps you missed the entire point of the post. Which is this:

    Rav Shteinman might be the Manhig Hador, but if my Rav or Rosh Yeshiva tells me to go demonstrate, I will. The Jews do not have a Pope.

    REBW has Brisker ties, but RAS is far from a Brisker. Yet he encouraged his followers to attend.

    As for the sparse showing of Litvishe, that can probably be blamed on Shev V'Al Taaseh, due to the conflicting reports of whether or not to attend provided by the agenda driven "frum" media. See TPV's latest post.

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  7. Thanks, nice to converse with a blogger who is a gentleman as well as a scholar.

    "The Jews do not have a Pope."

    But we do have zekeinim.

    Re RAS, YRCB has their own way of doing things.

    Re sparse showing of Litvishe, however it is explained it doesn't speak well for the extent of the influence of the Litvishe leaders there, no? The Satmar organized buses, they did what they do at such occasions to get their people there. Did the Litvishe have buses? I don't think so. Or maybe some of their leaders attended to show solidarity, but didn't have the same level of commitment to it as Satmar?

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    1. Yes, the Litvishe sent buses. And many Yeshivos in the Brooklyn area attended and encouraged their Talmidim to go.


      Years ago the Gedolim were against demonstrating for Soviet Jewry, saying that the Russian Jews felt the brunt of our demonstrations. Yet in reality, historians claim that the Jackson-Vanik legislation (The Jackson–Vanik amendment is a 1974 provision in United States federal law, intended to affect U.S. trade relations with countries with non-market economies [originally, countries of the Communist bloc] that restrict freedom of emigration and other human rights. It is believed that it was a response to the Soviet Union's "diploma taxes" levied on Jews attempting to emigrate,[1] although the amendment does not specifically mention Jews and the tax applied to all Soviet citizens, not only Jews.), was the outgrowth of these demonstrations which eventually freed the Jews of Russia.

      Now one can argue whether we should have demonstrated or not. Maybe it made life harder for those who were there at the time, but they and their children today are free to emigrate.

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  8. "many Yeshivos in the Brooklyn area attended and encouraged their Talmidim to go."

    Not sure what that means. Who attended? The Roshei Yeshiva?

    Where is the (photographic or other) evidence of a significant Litvish attendance?

    Bklyn is not the Litvish center it once was. It has moved to BMG and satellites, which overwhelmingly stayed away.

    The protest was a flop. The Satmar propaganda machine was saying that 100,000 would gather. They made special efforts to draw in other groups. The weather was nice. How many actually showed up, by PD estimate? Just 1/4 of that. How many showed up at Citifield and Metlife last year? Do the math.

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  9. But we do have zekeinim.

    Rav Shmuel Auerbach, born and bred in Yerushalayim, is on the ground and he strongly supported the demonstration.

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  10. From T.P.V. ...

    "The Demonstration was organized by Satmar and joined by many other Admorim, Chasidim and Roshei yeshiva as well. Attending Litvishe Roshei Yeshiva at the Rally were; Rav Elya Ber Wachtfogel, Rav Aaron Schechter, Rav Moshe Shimon shapiro, Rav Shmuel Miller, Rav Elya chaim Swerldloff, Rav Eli Sorotzkin, Rav Eli Yagid, Rav Lipa Margulies, Rav Asher Kalmonovitz, Rav Yaakov kokis, Rav Shea Krupenia from Lakewood, yeshivas Bais hatalmud, Rav Shlomo feivel Schustal, Rav Moshe Meiselman Ry Toras Moshe in EY, Rav Menachem Savitz, Rav Sholom zimmerman, and their respective Talmidim and yeshivos."

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  11. mumble: Rav Shmuel Auerbach, born and bred in Yerushalayim, is on the ground and he strongly supported the demonstration.

    Rav Shmuel is years younger than both RALS and RCK.

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  12. mumble: From T.P.V. ...

    ...Attending Litvishe Roshei Yeshiva at the Rally were; Rav Elya Ber Wachtfogel, Rav Aaron Schechter, Rav Moshe Shimon shapiro, Rav Shmuel Miller, Rav Elya chaim Swerldloff, Rav Eli Sorotzkin, Rav Eli Yagid, Rav Lipa Margulies, Rav Asher Kalmonovitz, Rav Yaakov kokis, Rav Shea Krupenia from Lakewood, yeshivas Bais hatalmud, Rav Shlomo feivel Schustal, Rav Moshe Meiselman Ry Toras Moshe in EY, Rav Menachem Savitz, Rav Sholom zimmerman, and their respective Talmidim and yeshivos."

    How many talmidim did they bring with them? Many of those mentioned have relatively small yeshivos.

    Also, since when is R. Lipa Margulies Litvish? He is Hungarian. And R. Shea Krupenia is not a Rosh Yeshiva.

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    1. You gotta take that up with mumble and TPV. But even if RLM is Chassidish, his Yeshiva is Litvish.

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