Responding to (Some) Critics

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A recent posting “Who is Really to Blame?” attracted a lot of comment, much of it concerning the late Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren and his actions in the Langer case. Before responding to those comments I wanted to reexamine the case, including listening to the shiur of Dr. Aaron Rakefet on the case. I have now done so.

After doing so, I regret describing Langer’s first husband, a Polish convert, as a shomer Torah u’mitzvos. I wouldn’t bet my last dollar on that proposition. On the other hand, I found no reason to prefer the psak of Rabbi Goren to that of at least four batei din that considered the mamzerus of the Langer brother and sister and/or Borokovsky’s status as a Jew, and whose members included some of the greatest poskim of the generation, including Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv.

In his lecture, for instance, Rakefet triumphantly holds aloft the report of a Tel Aviv social worker in which the social worker describes Borokovsky as a “goy,” and claims that this report is credible because the social worker was masiach lefi tumo. To me that makes no sense. Whether he was a “goy” or not is a halachic question, not a factual question, about which a Tel Aviv social worker has no particular expertise, whatever her credibility.

Moreover, the halachic issue was not the state of Borokovsky’s halachic observance a decade or more after his conversion in Poland, but whether he was ever observant, even if while living with his wife’s parents in Poland. If he ever was, then his subsequent lack of observance would be beside the point. As I wrote, geirus is forever, unless it can be clearly shown that there was no acceptance of mitzvos at the time of the geirus.

Far from the document in question having been discovered by Rabbi Goren, as Rakefet claimed in his lecture, it was before the Petach Tikva beis din that had already determined the Langer brother and sister to be mamzerim. And in quoting the document, Rabbi Goren (followed, presumably unwittingly, by Rakefet) made a crucial elision: He neglected to note that the social worker’s descriptions of Borokovsky’s religious practice were based on what his then wife told her, not on her own knowledge. (For good reason did Rabbi Goren initially refuse to publish his psak in the Langer case, and only do so after Rabbi Zvi Weinman brought a suit to the Supreme Court compelling him to do so.)

Rabbi Goren’s lax attitude towards geirus is amply documented. Three years before the Langer case, he converted Helen Seidman, a Christian woman “married” to a kohen and living on a secular kibbutz and the couple’s young daughter. In return, Seidman agreed to withdraw a suit to the Israeli Supreme Court demanding that the State recognize her Reform conversion.

As was frequently asked at the time of the Langer case: If Seidman, who had consistently proclaimed her lack of intention to live a Torah life prior to her conversion by Goren, was a Jewess, why was Borokovsky a goy? Rabbi Goren converted dozens, if not hundreds, of people no more observant than Borokovsky. (I gave one example personally known to me in the original piece.)

One of Rabbi Goren’s other halachic innovations, recognized by no other posek, was to condition geirus performed by him on the ger remaining in Israel. Apparently, he felt that non-observant gentiles could become Jews in Israel but not abroad. The bearers of such certificates of geirus have created a great many problems for batei din abroad when they came bearing Rabbi Goren’s “conditional” geirus.

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94 Responses

  1. Yaakov Menken says:

    The irony was that C.L. claimed that Rav Goren’s independence “threatened the chareidi mindset,” while Reb Moshe, who was one of Rav Goren’s strongest critics, had exactly the independence that C.L. described as “threatening.” I remain surprised that C.L. doesn’t even perceive the blindness of his attacks on the “chareidi mindset.”

    Reb Moshe’s self-effacing description of how he rose to prominence, while accurate, is not the whole story. As Ori Pomerantz surmised, the previous generation of Gedolim are those who tell us upon whom to rely.

    Noam is mistaken — while I am undoubtedly a student of the “charedi school,” my point was that, as a charedi Jew who respects the larger consensus of Gedolei Torah, I did not know to what degree Rav Goren ran against that consensus until reading the comments here. Meir’s link to the Yated Ne’eman article is even stronger stuff than what we have published.

    [I also see much less dividing our communities than C.L. appears to describe. My first years as an observant Jew were as part of a small “modern Orthodox” college community. My paternal grandfather-in-law, father-in-law, and ylctv”a one of my brothers-in-law comprise three consecutive generations to have received smicha from RIETS. Aside to the aside: my father-in-law and his chavrusa used to take their chiddushim in Hil. Shabbos to RSZA for review.]

    I concur with Rabbi [sic] Rosenblum that it is “time to move on.” The signal-to-noise ratio of the current discussion has declined sufficiently, on all sides, that we will close comments here. All that can be reasonably said has been said once already, and what remains is invective heaped upon individuals and entire communities. The last paragraph of Mike S.’s comment above, in particular, deserves a second reading.

  2. Don’t Call Me Rabbi

    If this long, unsavoury thread proves anything, it is that machlokes only escalates. It is clear that the participants have long since given up any hope of convincing anyone of anything, and we should move on to more important matters.

    I am accused of having dissed Rabbi Dr. Aaron Rakefet. Last I checked, Rabbi Rakefet and I were friends, albeit ones who find much to disagree about. (We were once the two panelists at an OU convention, and found almost nothing to disagree about to our mutual embarrassement.)

    Yes, I knew that Rabbi Rakefet has semicha from Rav Soloveitchik, as does anyone who has ever heard him speak even briefly. I don’t, however, generally use the honorific rabbi, except in reference to one who is filling a rabbinic post of one sort or another. I do not know Rabbi Rakefet in that capacity. In fact, until I listened to his tape on the Langer case, I had no idea he taught at the Gruss Kollel at all. But even there he is not listed by YU as one of the roshei yeshiva, but as a lecturer in Jewish History and Responsa Literature.

    Now, as it happens, I do not view Rabbi (in the sense of the having semichah) as necessarily the highest honorific, and even though Rabbi Rakefet states in his lecture that chareidim disdain secular education and “that’s stupid,” I do not view Dr. (in the sense of possessing a PhD.) as an insult. In many Litvishe yeshivos, the semichah track is for the less advanced learners, or those who intend to enter the marketplace (not necessarily the same thing.) And in the Israeli yeshivos with which I am familiar very few students ever bother to be tested for semichah, even after years of Kollel. It simply is not relevant for what they wish to do. (Let me repeat, I do not have semichah, and everytime I read about the nefarious/or glorious R’JR, I have to pause and ask who is being discussed.)

    So if I insulted Rabbi Rakefet, I’m sorry. But for all of those who chose to make a federal case out of the use of doctor instead of rabbi, get a life.

  3. Jewish Observer says:

    “It is not mocking the man to say that he wasn’t of the same stature as any of these three—it is merely a fact.”

    – well … an opinion. which is what blogging is all about.

  4. Mike S. says:

    Chachamim arguing their views on Torah often use strong language. To offer an example that will, perhaps, excite less emotion, how many times in his peirush to Chumash does Ramba”n say that Ibn Ezra is a liar –“Hinei Rav Avraham me’id eidut sheker”? Is there anyone participating in this discussion who would infer from there a license to mock Ibn Ezra?

    Likewise, Haskamos often do not reflect the considered view of the author.

    Nidrei z’rizin do not create a claim of ona’ah because everyone is supposed to understand their role in negotiations and not take them literally. Words said in haskamos and in the heat of a machloket should be taken in light of their context.

    At the beginning of the three weeks, perhaps we all should focus more strongly on our service to Hashem than on defeating those who have a different hashkafa. With most Jews remote from Torah and Mitzvot, it is a shame that we who accept Torah often focus more on the minor differences among us than on the acceptance of Torah that unites us.

  5. Steve Brizel says:

    CL-RMF read, reviewed and vehemently rejected the psak of R Goren ZTL. IOW, and IMO, to claim that RMF rejected R Goren ZTL’s psak on kohanin and medicine without having read the same is revisionism.Perhaps, RMF “erred” in his evaluation of the psak re Kohanim and medical school, but then again RYBS agreed with RMF and we know that RSZA and RYSE also protested the Psak of R Goren ZTL as well. I can see where one Posek could be mistaken in his evaluation of another Gadol’s Psak, but WADR, we see that the Psak on the Langer case and on Kohanim going to medicine prompted very similar reactions from a wide range of Gdolim. Could they all have been wrong? I highly doubt it.

  6. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Rabbi Yaakov Menken: But Gedolei Torah are not elected by popular vote, and the fact that a Tzibbur loves someone doesn’t make him a leading scholar of the generation.

    Ori: Who decides if somebody is a Gadol or not? Do the Gedolim of each generation appoint those of the next, the way Moshe appointed Yehoshua?

  7. meir says:

    For more details about the case from the charedi point of view and likewise for a Halachik overview of the one can look:

    http://chareidi.shemayisrael.com/archives5763/TZV63features2.htm

    and Contemporary Halachik issues page 169 for RAbbi J. D. Bleich’s overview and analysis.

    (After reading these works one can see some differences between the Langer case and the AShdod case).

  8. Moshe Blum says:

    Charedi Leumi, your attempts at playing all the canards about Charedim that some of the J-blogs love to use, in a debate about a particular individual, are beneath contempt. Let us compile a list of all the invective you’ve hurled at the Yeshiva world and its leaders, (which of course is indicative of superlative Yiras Cheit) when there was not a word mentioned about RSG’s political affiliation, but you bring up solely because in your narrow blindness you are certain that RSZA and RMF must have been part of that lowlife mafia band known as the Yeshiva world Gedolim which discredits people for political motives with great frequency and relish:

    “There is a long honor list of people who had the had the zechut of being mocked by the same group”

    “Of course it could just be that ethical judgement is no longer trendy in the yeshivish world. I really would not know.”

    “The defence of a gadol baTorah from attacks by members of a community who tend to be fast and loose with bizui Gedolim who are not in their camp”

    “enjoy your made up stories which give you the double wammy of both mocking a gadol NOT in your camp while at the same time turning the CI into a prophet.”

    “All thanks to the askanim, oops, I mean gedolim, who run the show.”

    “When somebody believes that their gedolim are infallible, there is no means to argue with them.”

    All the above quotes are irrelevant diversions from the fact that RSG was clearly an incompetent Posek, whose name should be listed, perhaps, along with Doeg, Korach, and Acher as Torah scholars who had a history of positive accomplishments who then proceeded to throw it all away in defiance of those who were greater than they. That your bias, if not outright hatred of the Yeshiva world, shows through in virtually every comment of yours means that you should recuse yourself from discussions about RSG, since your Sinas Chinam for anyone who might affiliate with the world you so despise causes you to make irrelevant statements.

    [My turn for commentary, though, as an aside. It is one of the truly baffling things about those who are not from the Yeshiva world, complaining that they have this hang-up that the Avos were not plain Joes with flaws just like the rest of us. No, they say! Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov had serious flaws and defects and psychological disorders just like everyone else in today’s contemporary society. No need to be careful when discussing them – how else can we relate to these people if not “B’Govah Ho’Einayim”?

    But Korach, Doeg, Yerovom ben Nevot – fantasy characters, the epitome of evil on earth, little Hitlers as heads of the Sanhedrin, who cannot possibly have anything to do with the scholars of today, who are all above condemnation. RSG had flaws, but no one deserves to be discredited by a broad consensus of those greater than them.]

    Now, this is an outright lie:
    “Rav Goren is accepted by most frum people in EY as a gadol baTorah.”

    As is this:
    “His psakim are part of the messorah.”

    And this is just nonsensical wishful thinking:
    “In 100 years no one will remember this incedent and his work will be learned along side Rav Moshe’s and all the other works of Torah, and all that will be left of your attitude is the sinas chinam you created for no contructive purpose.”

    No, in 100 years everyone will remember that even someone considered a Talmid Chacham, can be corrupted and lose his ability to Pasken, and that people in EY still think 100 times before pulling something like RSG did again.

  9. Steve Brizel says:

    CL-May I suggest that you read HaTorah Misamachas? RSZA had a special hot line for halachic inquiries from soldiers at the front lines.

    It is nice that you cite Malki BaKodesh and R Hirschenson ZTL’s discussions with R TP Frank ZTL. Yet, when one reads many of the Teshuvot in Malki BaKodesh, one senses a willingness to have halacha accomodate to the surrounding society, as opposed to having a society whose Jewish members live in accordance with Halacha. Teshuvos about shaving with a razor, businesess staying open on Shabbos via a Shtar Mcirah and allowing Kohanim to study medicine are merely three of many cases. Your own comments prove that “most did not agree with his conclusions.” Yes, the US of the 1920s was not the US of the 1950s forward,but I think that one can argue that since the US has changed with respect to its openness to religous observance, then the considerations and conclusions set forth in what his peers viewed as distorted and convoluted views voiced by R Hirschenson ZTL may no longer be valid and thus would best be of interest to historians.

    Let’s talk about Poskim of a more contemporary vintage. RAL viewed RSZA as the RMF of Israel. RAL has written that many RZ viewed the Psak of RSZA as far more reliable and authoritative than Psak issued by an increasingly politicized CR. One can argue that the heirs of RTP Frank ZTL were RSZA and R E Wasldenberg ZTL. R Goren ZTL was a tremendous success as CR of the IDF. Halevai that R Goren ZTL would have matched his record as CR of the IDF when he served as CR of Israel. I think that any objective review of the evidence will show that R Goren ZTL was a dissapointment as CR of Israel.

    Do you know that RMF was related to RYBS and spent many a Yom Tov wih R MD Tendler in his decidedly MO shul? RMF had far more impact and contact with MO Jews than you can begin to imagine, especially within the unique world of the Lower East Side where RMF attended simchos and smachos among many people who were not Charedi and was known to that world as a resident of the community who happened also to be one of the Gdolei HaDor.

  10. Baruch Horowitz says:

    For the record, my comments (1:07 pm) were neither responding to R. Menken nor to R. Rosenblum, but were to point out to another commentator that it’s not so simple in a online forum to simply quote gedolim who mocked R. Goren , without giving some type of caveat or balance, based on how the quotation will be received.

    When I was in yeshiva, someone quoted an extremely sharp statement, supposedly said by a pre-war gadol about R. Kook ztl, the type one says about sonie yisrael. I told him that I did not beleive it without a source(which is a prudent policy in general, I think), but I was upset about how one simply quotes something of such import(even if accurate), without being sensitive to what one is saying over, and at least trying to put it into context.

  11. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >I can’t speak for Moshe Blum, of course, but my intent was merely to indicate that Rav Goren’s “psak” was not accepted by any of the greatest Gedolei Torah

    Can you see past your own bias?? The “greatest gedolei Torah” is something so subjective as to be meaningless. Obviously, if the majority of the RZ world felt that these were the “greatest gedolei Torah” they would not be RZ, now would they? As I wrote above, the “greatest gedolei Torah” of the RZ world did not attempt to critisize R’ Goren as a posek, even when they disagreed with him. How the poskim from the chareidi world are relevant to this is beyond me.

    >I discarded C.L.’s attempt to use a haskama from Reb Isser Zalman as a rationale for setting up Rav Goren as a posek on a par with Rav Elyashiv

    I never did any such thing? Did you read the thread. The contention was the R’ Goren did not know how to learn. I said that R’ Meltzer’s haskama proves otherwise (he had a personal relationship with R’ Goren, it was not some sort of anonymous haskama). How that plugs into your gadlus-a-meter is not a question that I am concerned with.

    >The irony is that Reb Moshe zt”l was “a fiercely independent posek” who would not withhold his opinion of the Emes merely because someone else disagreed.

    Agreed, how is this relevant or even ironic?

    >But Gedolei Torah are not elected by popular vote, and the fact that a Tzibbur loves someone doesn’t make him a leading scholar of the generation.

    Now this is ironic! Especially since R’ Moshe’s answer in the famous interview to the question of how did he become the “posek haDor” was precisly that the tzibbur accepted him.

  12. Yaakov Menken says:

    I think C.L. has led us hopelessly off course. I can’t speak for Moshe Blum, of course, but my intent was merely to indicate that Rav Goren’s “psak” was not accepted by any of the greatest Gedolei Torah — and that they did, apparently, reject his entire approach. This is neither the time nor the place for a debate about alternate definitions in the RZ community of who manages to be a “gadol.” It is without question that C.L. is entirely mistaken about the acceptance of Reb Moshe’s authority throughout the MO community in the United States, on anything except ideological disputes (esp. about Zionism) with RYBS. Rav Aaron Lichtenstein and others have already acknowledged that the debate is coming to a natural end.

    Nowhere in my comments did I mock, or intend to mock, Rav Goren. I discarded C.L.’s attempt to use a haskama from Reb Isser Zalman as a rationale for setting up Rav Goren as a posek on a par with Rav Elyashiv, RSZA, and/or Reb Moshe. It is not mocking the man to say that he wasn’t of the same stature as any of these three — it is merely a fact.

    The irony is that Reb Moshe zt”l was “a fiercely independent posek” who would not withhold his opinion of the Emes merely because someone else disagreed. But Gedolei Torah are not elected by popular vote, and the fact that a Tzibbur loves someone doesn’t make him a leading scholar of the generation. Let’s not forget that Korach was also an outstanding Talmid Chacham, but one who couldn’t let his personal desires go, even for the sake of Heaven.

  13. Chareidi Leumi says:

    Another thing, why do you think that it is a good argument to cite gedolim whom I do not accept upon myself as proof for the impropriety someone accepting R’ Goren as a posek???

    Its absurd. Show me ONE Gadol from the RZ (and there were MANY who disagreed with the Langer Psak) who stated that R’ Goren should not be considered a posek. Even if you find one, (which I don’t think you will), it will be batel baShishim to all the other rabbanim who continued working with R’ Goren in all matters.

    All you are doing is sowing machloket for know constructive purpose. I hope you are proud of yourself!

  14. Chareidi Leumi says:

    I really don’t understand Yaakov Menken’s point. I was never arguing whether the psak should or should not be accepted. I was arguing that kavod should be shown to R’ Goren!

    You focus on Nero Yair?? What about “HaRav HaGaon haCharif and fluent in Shas and Rishonim, Moreinu veRabeinu Shlomo ben HaRav Avraham Gorenchik [Goren]”??

    And besides, I never meant to use the haskama to show that R’ Meltzer somehow anointed R’ Goren as one of the “poskei hador” but only to counter the ridiculous assertion attributed to the CI that R’ Goren could not learn. To say such a thing is an insult to all the Gedolei Olam who both gave him semicha and praised him as a Gaon. To say that they were somehow fooled by R’ Goren who really could not learn. Its absurd. I gave you haskamos to his ability to learn by Rabbanim who were his TEACHERS and knew him well. Who were considered gedolei Olam by any stretch of the imagination. And the response to this is a [probably] made up story about the CI and a phrase by Rav Moshe who never met Rav Goren nor probably learned any of his sefarim.

    Mazal Tov!

    Look, it is pointless to argue this with Moshe Blum and apparently Yaakov Menken as well. When somebody believes that their gedolim are infallible, there is no means to argue with them. So unless any of the posters here are willing to concede the possibility that R’ Elyashiv, R’ Moshe, and RSZA were all wrong about the Gavra of R’ Goren – there is NOTHING to talk about.

    Anyone who knew R’ Goren knows he was a fiercely independent posek. He cared not one iota what other poskim felt on the matter if he felt that his opinion was the Emmes. This was both his greatest strength and his greatest weakness. If he felt there was room to be matir, he would be matir even if every other gadol in the oilam was osser and the reverse is true as well. I understand that such independence threatened the chareidi mindset but the reality is, that there are large swaths of frum Jews who simply don’t fit in to the chareidi world and really never will. Such people just don’t consider Rabbi like R’ Moshe, R’ Elyashiv, or even RSZA to be our “poskei haDor” in any way whatsoever. Out of those names, the only one who really has ANY influence in our communities is RSZA and it is simply NOT enough influence to make pasul another gadol baTorah!

    R’ Goren’s psak in the Langer case was upheld by two of the big authorities in the RZ world, R’ Zvi Yehuda Kook and R’ Avraham Shapiro (the latter wrote a whole letter defending the psak). R’ Henkin felt that R’ Goren was a posek of stature and that his opinion should NOT be mocked under any circumstance. R’ Goren had a personal impact on MANY individuals in the RZ, (myself included – of COURSE I am biased – you should do well to admit the same) and nothing ANY of your rabbanim could ever say will change that. The tales of his messirus nefesh are legendary. His work in the Army as well is something every religious soldier has haKaras haTov for. You can pull out all your rabbanim from today until tomorrow and it will simply not change the reputation of a great man in the eyes of a tzibbur who accepts him as a Gaon and a Posek [who was NOT perfect and who did have flaws – something which I guess the chareidi world would never fess up to regarding their own gedolim].

    So you can continue to live in your fantasy world where R’ Elyashiv is THE poske haDor [even though no Chassidim, Sephardim, or RZ really care what he paskens] or you can realize that you get NOWHERE but publicly being meVazeh someone who is accepted as a gadol by another community.

    The choice you make says much more about your own middos than about any objective truth about the Gavra of R’ Goren – which is something none of you are qualified to do, and neither are the gedolim from your camp which you “rely” upon.

    So the best you can do is to cast aspersions on Rav Goren’s ability to learn. I really don’t know why R’ Moshe wrote what he did and the way he did. Frankly, its none of my concern. I do know this. R’ Goren was not the first Gadol to suggest a Heter for kohanim to study medicine. The earliest such heter [that I am aware of] was by R’ Chaim Hirshensohn zt”l in the 1920s. In Malki BaKodesh he also prints the responses of other gedolim to which he sent his book, and while most disagreed with his conclusions regarding this matter (and many others) – none of them in any way criticized his ability to learn (and his arguments overlapped with MANY of R’ Goren’s which R’ Moseh criticized. NO ONE who responded to his work claimed he was not a posek for making such arguments nor did they say that he knew not how to learn. R’ Tzvi Pesach Frank has a whole debate with him that never crosses the bounds of propriety.

    So in the end. I have to see each and every person on this thread who is mevazeh Rav Goren as someone who is really pouring out the darkness in their own hearts. Nothing more, nothing less. At the very least, if they had some irr’at cheit, they would sit down and be quiet and err on the side of caution.

  15. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “And it is that Seif in Shulchon Oruch which grants the right, nay, the Mitzvah, to mock him.”

    I entered the conversation when it was quoted above,(July 1, 2007, 12:45 PM) that “the Steipler and the Tchebiner mocked him…”. To me, that sounded an alarm bell, as far as the direction of the thread. I thought that the issue was contentious enough as it was, and the part of “mocking”, as well as the point of “intentionally distorting the Torah”(mentioned by a commentator) should have been left out, with the focus simply being on whether or not the consensus of poskim of the past generation considered him authoritative as a poseik on the issue in question, or on other matters. I don’t know if the question of whether Rabbi Goren knows how to explain Tosophos, or whether he is able to opine on what beracha to make on pineapples, adds anything to the discussion, as it currently needs to take place in 5767.

    Even if one decides to objectively quote sharp statements of Gedolim whom we trust to have noble intent, I think that one must also do something to counter the possible collateral effect, of having ninth-graders referring to Rav Goren as an “am haaretz, an oisvorf and a koifer”(quoted by Chaim Klien above). The fact is that when Gedolim of the past made sharp statements in defense of Torah, it becomes a problem when the masses do the same; similarly, when it comes to “mitzvos” such as mocking, the fact is that the masses can not do it l’sheim shomayim(I know I can’t), which is a requirement by such an “averiah l’shmah”. Furthermore, as happened elsewhere on the internet, the issue then became entangled in at least another painful event, which anyone will admit(no matter what their hashkafa) has been a difficult issue for the Torah Community in a more than one way, and has never fully healed.

    I agree that truth is an objective in of itself, but if it will detract from the goal, then same goal should be achieved without going into every detail. Apparently, there are people who view Rabbi Goren–rightly or wrongly– as a leader(although I’m unsure how great his following is), and I think that one must therefore be careful how one goes about “removing him from his pedestal”. Rav Moshe himself might have chosen to respond differently if he was commenting in this column which is then spread elsewhere on the internet; just because a certain approach was used years ago, does not mean that it should be used now. Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblum once noted(I can’t find it on the internet), how a protest was once organized in Europe to defend the honor of the Chafetz Chaim, but it was ruined because a personal attack was used ; he also wrote about how he himself at one time made an off-the-cuff remark in a public debate, and then lost the impact of a good position that he spent time developing.

    If someone wants to tell me that I’m overly-cautious, because tomorrow the internet will have something else to discuss, in theory, I have no problem deferring to that approach. I will just say that history has shown that such issues need to be handled very gently and differently each time, and I suppose, time again will clarify the issue either way, as well as any similar future issues that undoubtedly will arise(although the effects of these things are not always seen immediately).

  16. Rabbi without a cause says:

    The words of the Sefer Chasidim (#209) are most relevant here. He wrote:

    ולא יתבזו תלמידי חכמים אלא אם כן יבזו זה לזה תחילה
    Torah scholars will not be degraded unless they first degrade each other.
    (For the rest of the quote, see my post at http://rabbiwithoutacause.blogspot.com/2007/07/we-do-it-to-ourselves.html)

    In an age of bizayon talmidei chachamim, we ought to be most careful of this.

  17. Noam says:

    Dear Rabbi Menken,

    I am going to phrase this as delicately as I can. While you may not have a “strong horse” in the specific case of Rav Goren or the Ashdod Beit Din, you certainly have a ‘strong horse’ in the overarching issue of Chareidim vs. Religious Zionist/Modern Orthodox. So, I think that the initial statement of your comment does not accurately portray your involvement or stake in the issues, and seems to indicate an impartiality that probably is not all that impartial.

  18. Steve Brizel says:

    Charedi Leuimi-Both RYBS and RMF were very critical of R Goren ZTL’s psak re Kohanim studying medicine. RMF was unusally critical and stated that even if Eliyahu HaNavi UBes Dino arrived, they could not provide support for such a Psak.RSZA was very well known for his outstanding devotion to Toras Emes and refusal to get involved in anything remotely political. RSZA tearing kriyah over this Psak cannot be minimized.

    If anything is true, Haskamos are nice for historians’ reference but don’t shed any light on the merits of a sefer-regardless of the hashkafic orientation and/or the logic, arguments and conclusions presented by an author. One can argue that most of them testify to the Yiras Shamayim of the author, as opposed to whether the Gadol giving the Haskamah has checked the sefer’s contents in any serious fashion.

    That being said, I think that the historical record will be very favorable to R Goren ZTL as CR of the IDF but not as CR of Israel. Who could not be inspired by a Chevron trained CR of the IDF who was qualified to jump with paratroopers and who arrived at the Kosel upon its liberation? OTOH, who could not be upset by Piskei Halacha that noone else in the Halachic world accepted, who fought constantly with ROY and who did not enhance respect for the CR? RAL noted that many RZ viewed the Psak of RSZA as far more authoritative than that of an overly politicized CR.

  19. Jewish Observer says:

    “if anyone has made a strong case against Rabbi Goren, it would have to be the comments of Charedi Leumi.”

    – not sure how CL’s comments can reflect badly on anyone other than CL. How can you blame Rav Goren for what a blogger writes years later?

  20. Tsvi Rogin says:

    It is a long time since the Langer case, but in context of the time, it was one of several p’sakim made by Rabbi Goren which were considered outrageous by “everyone” at the time.

    My then havrusa told me that his parents came from the same town in Europe as Mrs. Langer’s husband and he was considered to be frum.

    A critical point for this specific case and for the general case of giur is that if the person genuinely accepted mitzvos, not just verbally, but with the intention of doing them, the geirus is good and is permanent even if the person subsequently does aveiros or subsequently wants to be a goy again.

    The problem case is the case of the person who never intended to keep mitzvos and it is obvious to everyone that that is the case.

    In such a case, Rav Moshe and others hold that the person is a goy l’chol davar. He also said that he doesn’t see the benefit for c’lal yisroel to have such geirim even if the geirus is good.

    I have heard b’sheim Rav Soloveitchik (even though I didn’t hear it directly from him) that he held that true kabballas mitzvos was the main part of giur.

    These russians and others whom Druckman ud’imei wish to help
    he is helping thm get married, but he is not helping them to be jews and he is not helping the c’lal yisroel with the quality of Jews.

    The problem arose with the Jewish agency and the Israeli government b’meizid bringing in goyim g’murim, and the solution is a) stop letting them in and b) encouraging the goyim who are here to go to Amalaka.

  21. Yaakov Menken says:

    I don’t have strong horse in this race, having known little about the Langer case and less about the current one before now. But if anyone has made a strong case against Rabbi Goren, it would have to be the comments of Charedi Leumi. Not only has he gone completely “over the top” in his attitude towards such unquestioned gaonim as the Steipler Rav, the Tchebiner Rav, and Rav Shach zt”l, but his reliance upon the haskama of Rav Isser Zalmen Meltzer zt”l to one of Rav Goren’s early (?) works is the best proof that he could find no better.

    It is known that Reb Moshe zt”l gave haskamos to sefarim freely, to help Torah to be published and read. I think it no insult to Rav Isser Zalman zt”l to say he did the same, though I don’t know this to be true one way or the other.

    But the text of the haskama is clearly not that given to a gadol baTorah or even one whose divrei halacha should be considered authoritative.

    “May his candle shine” — Nero Ya’Ir — is a blessing given after anyone’s name. It is hardly the same as “shlit”a”, which, although merely a Hebrew acronym for “that he should live to good and long days,” is appended after the name of an established Rav. From just these two letters (nun yud, the acronym of Nero Ya’ir), we see that Reb Isser Zalman considered Rav Goren a young and aspiring talmid chacham. That, he undoubtedly was.

    Furthermore, C.L. puts in bold (and in the original Hebrew as well) the words “truly one of the few remarkable ones in this generation” — without similarly highlighting what Reb Isser Zalman found to be unique about Rav Goren: “who already in the days of his youth has already achieved great stature and has ascended the steps of the Torah.” Once again, this hardly indicates that he deemed Rav Goren to be a great Rav, much less one of the authorities of the generation, with the necessary stature to disagree with Rav Elyashiv shlit”a in a Halachic matter.

    They also said nice things about Shlomo Carlebach’s learning when he was a young man. When he was older he wasn’t allowed to set foot in a yeshiva.

    It is true that peace is a great objective, but it is not the ultimate goal. Rav Goren’s good intentions are also not the issue. We are supposedly discussing Halacha, Divrei Elokim Chayim (the Words of the Living G-d) — the Truth. Truth is more important. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l tore kriah at the “p’sak” of Rav Goren, and C.L. dismisses this as Rav Auerbach being “infuriated”? That is not truth or the search for truth.

    The truth is that Reb Moshe zt”l was famously apolitical, and also reluctant to condemn. So his words in the Teshuvah mentioned by Moshe Blum are quite exceptional. He doesn’t usually go out of his way to dismiss the scholarship of another — in fact, he doesn’t say who wrote “the pamphlet” under discussion. If C.L. is going to put kind words about a young Rav Goren in bold, let us at least confront the words of Reb Moshe in translation:

    “Even if he were a Talmid Chacham it would be nothing, but this itself testifies that the writer has no connection to Torah or wisdom, but to haughtiness…”

    Concerning anyone who followed “the pamphlet:” “If they wanted to know the true law they would know whom to ask, for there are B”H Morei Hora’ah [Teachers of the Teaching, i.e. the Torah] who are fit to teach in accordance with Halacha — but they aren’t concerned about the prohibition at all, and to mislead themselves that they should not be inspired to turn back at all, they found some pamphlet upon which to rely…”

    “And this is insanity and nothingness, that is not given to a person of intelligence to say at all… and since the source of his leniency is words of nothing like this, anyone can see that it is nothing and it is not possible to say that they rely upon it.”

    When it comes to the psak itself, we know Rav Elyashiv shlit”a said the opposite, and Rav Shlomo Zalman shlit”a was so distressed that he tore his clothes. Reb Moshe’s words make it clear what his opinion was of anything the author of “the pamphlet” had to say.

    If you were to tell me that the other side of the dispute was the Satmar Rav I would call it machlokes gaonim. But the only argument here was whether Rav Goren should be considered a scholar — Rav Henkin zt”l said he was, according to his grandson as above. Concerning the psak itself, Rav Henkin agreed it was meaningless without the support of others — and it got anything but support.

    There are a host of journals where the words of any of Reb Moshe, Reb Shlomo Zalman, or ylctv”a Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv shlit”a — or all three together — would be no more “authoritative” than those of any random Beryl and Shmeryl. B”H Cross-Currents isn’t one of them.

  22. Moshe Blum says:

    > It has to do with one thing and one thing only. The defence of a gadol baTorah from attacks by members of a community who tend to be fast and loose with bizui Gedolim who are not in their camp

    As I’ve shown to the satisfaction of any objective person, which excludes you, RSG was personally discredited by the most prominent members of this community, read, the universally accepted Poskei Hador in EY (RSZA and the Tchebiner) and the US (RMF), who were the furthest thing from being Mevazeh Gedolim who were not in their camp.

    I have great respect for R’ Avraham Shapira, R’ Shaul Yisraeli, R’ Hershel Schachter, and others not in the yeshivish camp. The fact that there are people in your camp who continue to defend RSG does your camp nothing but a disservice.

    > Way to show kavod to Rav Melzer

    I should have phrased that more elegantly, but the fact is that he gave Haskamos freely.

    > Yes, enjoy your made up stories which give you the double wammy of both mocking a gadol NOT in your camp while at the same time turning the CI into a prophet.

    Again, your biases show in full color.

    > Ahhh, now comes the made up positive results of a disgusting episode in Jewish history. All thanks to the askanim, oops, I mean gedolim, who run the show.

    Boruch Hashem a hundred times over for it. And if you think askanim made RSZA tear Keria, or RMF write a Teshuvah which basically said RSG’s Psak was nonsense, well, that’s three strikes of bias against you.

    > and a statement by Rav Moshe who neither knew Rav Goren nor was he familiar with the corpus of his work.

    And you’re happy with quoting Haskamos from the 1950s before he showed the Poskei Hador how incompetent he really was. Mazal Tov, you have successfully opened the gates for shenanigans regarding Chamurei Chamuros for the sake of a political appointment, as per the Steipler and others.

    The Shulchan Oruch writes (Choshen Mishpot 8:1)
    וכל דיין המתמנה בשביל כסף או זהב, אסור לעמוד לפניו. ולא עוד אלא שמצוה להקל ולזלזל בו

    So one who pays for his position not with money, but with a promise to be ‘Mattir’ a Mamzer when virtually all the Poskim of the day hold it to be devoid of Halachic meaning…?

    In fact, I am confident that this Shulchon Oruch is precisely what motivated the Steipler to take the time out of his schedule, where every minute was accounted for, to write a Leitzonus of RSG, since that piece in the Karyono D’Iggarta is titled “All Leitzonus is Ossur except for Leitzonus of Avodoh Zoroh”, and the Nesivos says the following on that Shulchon Oruch:

    שמצוה להקל. כי הכתוב קראו [שמות כ’ כ”ג] אלהי כסף, וכל ליצנותא אסור לבר מליצנותא דעבודת כוכבים דשריא].

    And it is that Seif in Shulchon Oruch which grants the right, nay, the Mitzvah, to mock him.

  23. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “Here is what Rav Moshe zt”l had to say about RSG’s learning abilities (in the Teshuva regarding Kohanim studying medicine)…”

    Rav Moshe may have not recognized Rabbi Goren as a posiek, but he himself, might have advised more tact when writing in this forum, such as recognizing Rabbi Goren’s good intentions. Indeed RJR, himself, wrote that “one of Rabbi Goren’s other halachic innovations, recognized by no other posek…”, and did not feel it necessary to focus at this time and place on the opinions about Rabbi Goren’s learning abilities.

  24. Jewish Observer says:

    To those among us who like to revel in the fallibility of gedolim even when it is not at all muchrach, we should surely not have a hard time admitting that “our” godol was way off when it seems so obviously so. As R’ Noach Weinberg likes to say – “be a judge, not a lawyer”. If we were truly open minded we would have to admit that reading the loshon of Rav Moshe, who was not at all given to politics or personal prejudice, should certainly give us pause. Bottom line: Broad-mindedness is not only a topic for speeches aimed at charedim.

  25. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >That’s a non-sequiter. The point is that Rav Shlomo Zalman was not merely ‘upset’ at his Psak.

    Fine, he was more than upset. He was infuriated. How you think this gives you the right to mock Rav Goren is beyond me.

    >I don’t. And the Tchebiner never said such a thing, and that’s not an accurate quote of what Rav Shach said either.

    Its a direct and accurate quote. Read the actual letter.

    >This is laughable. Maybe we shouldn’t put murderers in jail – how would you like it to be in jail?

    Oooh, what a retort. So the fact that ma deSanei Alach is not the ONLY criteria used means that it is irrelevant. Brilliant.

    >Thanks for the heads up that your defense of Rav Goren has nothing to do with political stances.

    It has to do with one thing and one thing only. The defence of a gadol baTorah from attacks by members of a community who tend to be fast and loose with bizui Gedolim who are not in their camp (did you REALLY have an ava-amina that I was anywhere near your chugim since the begining of this dreadful thread?)

    >It is well known that R’ Isser Zalman freely gave Haskamos without batting an eyelash

    Way to show kavod to Rav Melzer! And you say I am the one with the credibility problem!

    >It also makes it all the more perceptive of the Chazon Ish to know what was coming

    Yes, enjoy your made up stories which give you the double wammy of both mocking a gadol NOT in your camp while at the same time turning the CI into a prophet.

    >Because Boruch Hashem nobody in EY has tried to pull a stunt like RSG did since he got castigated for it

    Ahhh, now comes the made up positive results of a disgusting episode in Jewish history. All thanks to the askanim, oops, I mean gedolim, who run the show.

    >Here is what Rav Moshe zt”l had to say about RSG’s learning abilities (in the Teshuva regarding Kohanim studying medicine):

    Now you are dragging Rav Moshe into this??? Give it up. Rav Goren is accepted by most frum people in EY as a gadol baTorah. His psakim are part of the messorah. In 100 years no one will remember this incedent and his work will be learned along side Rav Moshe’s and all the other works of Torah, and all that will be left of your attitude is the sinas chinam you created for no contructive purpose.

    (of course, it doesn’t matter to you that gedolim who actually KNEW rav Goren such as Rav Meltzer, Rav Kook, Rav Amiel and others testified to his gadlus. That hundreds can testify to his mesirus nefesh. No, what matters to you is a questionable statement by the CI quoted in a questionable biography and a statement by Rav Moshe who neither knew Rav Goren nor was he familiar with the corpus of his work. Mazal Tov, you have successfuly torn another brick off the beis haMikdash)

  26. Moshe Blum says:

    Here is what Rav Moshe zt”l had to say about RSG’s learning abilities (in the Teshuva regarding Kohanim studying medicine):

    שאף אם היה ת”ח אינו כלום אבל זה גופא מעיד שלא שייך זה המחבר לא לתורה ולא לחכמה אלא גס לבו

    וזהו שטות והבל שלא ניתן לבר דעת לומר כלל… ומכיון שעיקר היתרו הוא על דבר הבל כזה הרי רואה כל אדם שאינו כלום ולא שייך לומר שסומכין עליו. והנני ידידו, משה פיינשטיין.

  27. Elliot B. Pasik, Esq. says:

    I hope its not too late to jump on the bandwagon. I’m baffled by JR’s error. Rabbi Rakefet has earned many times the “rabbi” title. I don’t get this. Kavod ha’rav is a mitzva. Why violate it, in writing, on the Internet, in front of thousands of readers. I’d like to hear an explanation.

    It seems the RW is often fixated on the symbolic. They have too much time on their hands. Witness the happy fuss made by Aguda when Israel President Moshe Katsav refused to call a Reform Rabbi a Rabbi. Who cares? Then look what happened.

  28. Steve Brizel says:

    Chaim Klein’s comments bring to my mind an important lesson that we should all think about. There are priorities in Hilcos Tzeddakah that begin first and foremost with Aniyei Irchah. RHS has consistently stated that one should give to those yeshivos, etc that have had the most positive effect on one’s growth in Torah. If I knew the name of that yeshiva and received some fund raising materials from it, they would simply enter my round file. OTOH, as I previously stated, I consider it a privilege, and not a sign of being waffling in my Avodas HaShem to have a wide range of Baalei Machshavah from the best of the Charedi and MO worlds.

  29. Moshe Blum says:

    > No, I am not. I am well aware that many gedolim were very upset at R’ Goren’s piskei halacha. Still gives you no right to mock him.

    That’s a non-sequiter. The point is that Rav Shlomo Zalman was not merely ‘upset’ at his Psak. He made it a point to clarify that he was Passul as a Posek. The only Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah meeting he ever attended (knowing full well what the outcome would be) was the one where the decision was made to discredit RSG.

    > Well, I consider saying the Rav has no Yirat Shamaim the same as mockery

    I don’t. And the Tchebiner never said such a thing, and that’s not an accurate quote of what Rav Shach said either.

    > Well, I guess you would have to mock him and find out.

    I think we have our answer.

    > I also think that you should wake up and realize that we have been following beis hillel for the past 2000 year and therefore ‘how would you feel’ is a CRITICAL component of ethical judgement. ‘Ma deSanei Alach…’

    This is laughable. Maybe we shouldn’t put murderers in jail – how would you like it to be in jail?

    >Of course it could just be that ethical judgement is no longer trendy in the yeshivish world. I really would not know

    Thanks for the heads up that your defense of Rav Goren has nothing to do with political stances. I really would not know without this statement. Does wonders for your credibility.

    It is well known that R’ Isser Zalman freely gave Haskamos without batting an eyelash. It also makes it all the more perceptive of the Chazon Ish to know what was coming, since the full quote of the CI is that he doesn’t know how to learn at that ‘we would yet suffer greatly from him’.

    That you don’t grant credibility to the P’air Hador which was reviewed by the Steipler but choose to trust less authoritative distorters of the Chazon Ish’s legacy is your choice.

    I think Rav Amiel had it exactly right.

    Why is this so important? Because Boruch Hashem nobody in EY has tried to pull a stunt like RSG did since he got castigated for it, and recent attempts at repairing his reputation from various quarters have the potential to undo the benefit of his public discreditation.

  30. charedilite says:

    I remember the controversy surrounding Rav Goren’s psak. I was in Rav Nissim Alpert’s shiur at the time, and he discussed the various issues involved. I got the impression that he disagreed with Rav Goren’s psak, but the one thing that really stands out in my mind more than 30 years later is this. Rav Alpert mentioned that one of his baalei batim came up to him and commented on the controversy between Rav Goren and the other rabbanim said, “These rabbis sure like to argue!” Rav Alpert responded, “It may be true that rabbis like to argue, but without baalei batim there wouldn’t be mamzerim issues to argue about!” It was the sharpest retort I ever heard come from his mouth, and I realized that what disturbed him was the person’s enjoyment of the argument, as if this was an personal argument between rabbis, rather than a genuine attempt to find the truth. To Rav Alpert, personalities were not involved, egos were not involved, politics were not involved. It was simply a disagreement in Torah- each side’s argument to be studied and weighed for it’s emes, nothing else.
    It made a very deep impression on me. I would hope that all of us, including Rabbi Rosenblum, be zocheh to see all machlokesim this way.

  31. Chareidi Leumi says:

    There is also a glowing haskama by R’ Moshe Avigdor Amiel who says regarding Rav Goren’s abilities in Torah “Ein Dugmato beDoreinu.” There is no one else with his capabilities in our generation.

  32. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “I also consider myself a contrarian and a Burkian-generally,if someone writes or says something that makes sense, it deserves praise….RHS has commented quite often that he will quote Divrei Torah that add to a shiur from both R Schach ZTL and the Lubavitcher Rebbe ZTL, despite their well known disagreements on a wide range of issues and RHS’s own feelings that he might not agree with everything that either R Schach ZTL or the Lubavitcher Rebbe ZTL said on many issues.”

    I already said that I don’t have a problem with RJR’s piece, and I also think some of the commenters elsewhere on the internet should cut him some slack even if they disagree with some language of the essay, and not use it as point of departure for issues which he didn’t write about. For example, I myself thought that there was more to the issue of “Torah Extremism” than the presentation of the article that appeared in Mishpacha(and I noted that on Cross Currents), but I agreed that there was what anyone can learn from it; certainly Modern Orthodoxy embraces the Rambam’s statement of “accept the truth from whomever says it”.

    Regarding the above point of Steve Brizel, I agree with the intellectual “breidkeit”(broadness) inherent in such an attitude, although I’m coming from the perspective of a Right-of-YU background. I also favor the intellectual aspect which is often found in the contrarian attitude, although not in the sense of being opinionated, intolerant, or a “baal shittah”. However, I try to express myself with extra caution among friend or acquaintances who do not appreciate anything that appears slightly unconventional(which I suppose is their prerogative), and at least on some issues, I would sometimes rather converse with someone MO, but who is willing to examine both sides of an issue, rather than with someone closer to my background, but will just “explain” something to me without really thinking it through.

  33. Chareidi Leumi says:

    Here is what Rav Melzer wrote about Rav Goren in his haskama to Nezer HaKodesh (of course, there is also a glowing haskama by Maran HaRav Kook but I will not reproduce it because the mevazei chachamim in these comments will probably then start listing all the chareidi gedolim who called Rav Kook a Rasha):

    “Behold, when my beloved and dear one, the wondrous Iluy, soft in years yet a patriarch of wisdom, HaRav HaGaon haCharif and fluent in Shas and Rishonim, Moreinu veRabeinu Shlomo ben HaRav Avraham Gorenchik [Goren], May his candle shine. His admirers advised him to print some of his Chidushim so that many will enjoy his deep and sharp Chidushim . And since this pleasant flower is truly one of the few remarkable ones in this generation [מן היחידים המצוינים בדור] who already in the days of his youth has already achieved great stature and has ascended the steps of the Torah and he is deserving of being strengthened by those who honor the Torah. …”

    I think that is enough. AMAZING how the CI saw that he really couldn’t learn (cuz Pe’er HaDor would NEVER distort or lie about the CI!) yet Rav Meltzer was taken in by such a clever charlatan!!!

  34. chaim klein says:

    I was a bochur attending a renowned Lakewood affiliated yeshiva at the time of the Langer Case ( 47 years ago). I remember being astounded when one day, after mincha, my peers and classmates ( Grade 9 ) began referring to Rav Goren as an am haaretz, an oisvorf and a koifer( I had never heard of him until this point). Imagine my feelings of inadequacy when, my erudite classmates seemed fully empowered to adjudicate Rabbi Goren’s torah credentials. I, on the other hand, was too dumb to be qualified to join them in their savaging of Rabbi Goren.
    After, sporadically, teaching secular studies in the yeshiva world over a 37 year span, I can state, unequivocally, that contributory to the diminution of Kovod Hatorah( and Kovod Habriyos b’klal) is the lack of a critical response by the Roshei Yeshiva and Rebbeim who sit passively and mutely observe their talmidim launching verbal salvos on Torah personalities whose halachik decisions may be at odds with their communal practices (were talking within Orthodoxy here). This democratization where anyone may attack learned individuals cannot facilitate promoting Torah values, While it may be legitimate for Torah authorities to critique each other( respectfully would be optimal), the populace which attaches itself to these debates and validates their own existence by participating in these criticisms should be cautioned that their behavior is not acceptable. ( A certain Rosh Yeshiva in a yeshiva that I worked at told his talmidim that ” any Rosh Yeshiva that permits university attendance is not a Rosh Yeshiva but a truck. Why a truck? Because he can carry a load of learning, but can’t apply it.” Oh boy! The boys were quite excorcised by this proclomation, because now they had carte blanche to attack a whole new category of Rosh Yeshiva that may have been off the table until that juncture. Believe me, when I walked into my classroom they were so eager to share their new targets with me that restraining them in my presence was very difficult. They were so energized that afternoon, conviced that they were engaged in Pinchasian excercise of kanoim pogim . In another Yeshiva that I taught at, my Grade 12’s drew a picture of a bottle of scotch on the board and labeled it – you guessed it- JB Soleveitchik. The response from the menahel when I informed him about it was to affirm that he held RabbiJBS in great esteem, but it would be inappropriate of him to address this issue, because of communal attitudes.) The same sordid behaviour is engaged in by many who have minimal Torah education and belong to all branches of the Orthodox world, but feel a need to demonstrate their affinity to the community they belong to by attacking some Torah personality’s halachik statements. (My comments are only limited to psak, not behaviour, which also contributes to a decline in kovod hatorah. I may just be a dumb baal-habbos, but I’m not blind)Such attitudes have only resulted in the contemporary debacle surrounding kovod hatorah.
    As a history teacher, I see this lack of Kovod Hatorah as a realization of ” those that live by the sword, die by the sword”. In Torah terms it seems that Midah Keneged Midah is operative in these circumstances. Isn’t there a Maharal out there attributing some blame for the Churban on those rabbis present at the Kamtza / Bar Kamtza dinner, who remained apathetic to the humiliation of Bar Kamtzah,while Bar Kamtzah desperately sought to extricate himself from being embarrased.( You are right. He shouldn’t have gone to the procurator)
    The timing of this discussion on Cross Currents may be fortuitious. The Three Weeks are upon us.

  35. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >Actually, it seems that you are the one blurring the clear line between ‘being upset at a psak’ and publicly tearing Keria over a trampling of the Torah in the guise of a ‘psak’.

    No, I am not. I am well aware that many gedolim were very upset at R’ Goren’s piskei halacha. Still gives you no right to mock him.

    >Really. Who else did they mock? Not condemn – mock.

    Well, I consider saying the Rav has no Yirat Shamaim the same as mockery.

    >The rest of your comment regarding ‘how would you feel’ is irrelevant to the Emes, and I doubt you would be all indignant if it was Rav Shach being mocked.

    Well, I guess you would have to mock him and find out. I also think that you should wake up and realize that we have been following beis hillel for the past 2000 year and therefore ‘how would you feel’ is a CRITICAL component of ethical judgement. ‘Ma deSanei Alach…’

    Of course it could just be that ethical judgement is no longer trendy in the yeshivish world. I really would not know.

    >It has been published in what is by far the most authoritative of the bios of the CI – P’air Hador.

    That means NOTHING to me. That same biography seems to have many biases in it, from its treatment of the CI’s relationship with Poalei Aguda and in other matters as well. The day that those who gaurd his letters make them public is the day we will know the truth about the CI, until then, every source is suspect to manipulation by askanim from all sides.

    Besides this, you should be wiser than to accuse the CI of making such a ridiculous and false statement. Do you REALLY believe that R’ Goren could not learn? Do you REALLY believe that he managed to fool R’ Meltzer using crib sheets and smoke and mirrors? Please!

    >And, what you believe or not is not germane to whether it is ‘inexcusable’ to accuse of him of what virtually all the Charedi leaders accused him of.

    Again, as I said, its your neshama.

  36. Bob Miller says:

    Can we agree on some objective definition of “Gadol”? If not, then our use of the word should stop, as it does not foster clear communication.

    I’m especially put off by the use of fiftieth-hand anecdotes, urban legends, and rumors to brush off the opinions or rulings of rabbinic leaders we disagree with.

  37. Jewish Observer says:

    “Where does Jewish Observe learn that Rabbi Dr. Aaron Rakefet came late to frumkeit?”

    I was referring to RJR, not RAR

  38. Steve Brizel says:

    Let me add one more point to my last two posts-If RJR was a Charedi who approached the MO/RZ world in a consistently Pavlovian manner, I am sure that he would not attend a shiur every morning where the majority of the participants were a Kipah Sruggah. WADR, if anyone read my post and thought that I am a “defender’ Of RJR, that shows me how low the process of reader’s comprehension has sunk in our time. A defender defends his client, no matter what the evidence is on his side. I also consider myself a contrarian and a Burkian-generally,if someone writes or says something that makes sense, it deserves praise. OTOH, if the same person writes or says nonsense, it deserves to critiqued as not aiding the issue under discussion. RJR and the other hosts of this forum know that I am hardly a card carrying defender of all of their positions. That being the case, I am also not a card carrying defender of some of the more obtuse and IMO indefensible positions within the MO and RZ worlds. That is simply what is called intellectual honesty.

    Charedi Leumi-One can certainly argue that R Schach ZTL went overboard in his use of the cherem against an entire range of Gdolim, Talmidie Chachamim, yeshivos and seminaries to the extent that the list of the same constitutes a fascinating honor roll of Gdolim, Talmidie Chachamim and some wonderful yeshivos and seminaries. However, Rav Schach ZTL was a Gadol whose critique of the legacy of secular Zionism was IMO 100% on point.It was a critique of that perspective and one of its key intellectual and cultural descendants-post Zionism. Shimushah Shel Torah has many important vignettes of Gdolim and a Mussar Haskel for all Jews. I am equally proud to have those Sefarim as well as those of RYBS, the CI and RAYHK in my library.

    RHS has commented quite often that he will quote Divrei Torah that add to a shiur from both R Schach ZTL and the Lubavitcher Rebbe ZTL, despite their well known disagreements on a wide range of issues and RHS’s own feelings that he might not agree with everything that either R Schach ZTL or the Lubavitcher Rebbe ZTL said on many issues. If one reads many of the articles in the YU Commentator about RYBS, one will see that RYBS also maintained contact with and supported Gdolim and Mosdos that were hardly in the same orbit as RIETS or YU such as Lakewood. RHS mentioned in one of his hespedim that RYBS praised the CI for having written on all of Torah from Brachos to Uktzin. As far as Gdolim with hagiographical stories-there is simply no shortage and I would nventure to say that RYBS, RAYHK and the CI all are demonstrative of this fact. However, to denigrate the CI until his purportedly uncensored letters are released and to claim that he hald numerous Piskei Halacha on a variety of issues adds nothing to the discussion because Poskim give different answers to the same questions to different people based upon the background of the person who is asking the question. One can see no better evidence of this in RMF’s IM where RMF distinguishes in many ShuT between a “Ben Torah” and a “Shomer Torah Umitzvos” and urges a “Ben Torah” to adopt a stricter standard.

  39. Shlomo says:

    Where does Jewish Observe learn that Rabbi Dr. Aaron Rakefet came late to frumkeit? Learning with Rav Kotler in Lakewood as a teenager does not count?

  40. yehupitz says:

    To me, the biggest irony of this old story is that if thw Chareidim who are now pushing the Vaad Haolami Linyanei Giyur types are are itching to invalidate Orthodox conversions had their way, this Borokovsky’s conversion would have certainly been declared null and void. All of a sudden when it comes to a political issue, they decide to insist on the ikkar hadin paskened by the gemara in Yevamos and the rishonim! Baruch Hashem.

  41. Rabbi Y. H. Henkin says:

    Concerning the comments of my grandfather, Rabbi Y.E. Henkin, he said two things:
    1)Rabbi Goren is a great scholar, and his ruling cannot be dismissed, and 2)for the principles of the ruling to become accepted as general Halacha, other scholars would have to agree with them.
    My grandfather did not comment on the ruling itself, not having read it.
    The newspaper Hatzofeh (Mafdal) reported only 1) while Hamodia (Agudah) reported only 2).

  42. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “So what can I say, you can attempt to rely on your gedolim for the sake of mocking other gedolim. It is your own neshama and I guess you can decide what to do with it. I would not be so quick as others on this thread to speak with such words against such a Torah great.”

    The fact is that rabbonim from the Right have disagreed sharply with other rabbinic figures, sometimes even with those within the charedi world. The problem becomes when the hamon am(masses) take sides, as they do not have the same noble intent as the original disputants, and more significantly, are not sensitive to the fact that there are people whose entire connection to Torah are through the figures who were critiqued.

    In the specific case of Rabbi Goren, one can list for the record, those who viewed his innovative rulings as non-normative, as well as those who supported him, and people can decide for themselves which opinions they hold to be more authoritative, and whether they therefore accept Rabbi Goren for themselves as a poseik. But that is no reason to engage in “mockery” and not accord him basic respect, or not to give him benefit of a doubt as far as his intentions.

    For the masses to equate themselves with the original rabbinic disputants in this or other instances, would be seem to be an instance of taking sides in a machalokes(dispute) which is not theirs. R. Adlerstein posted last September a story by R. Shalom Schwadron about this point(“The Monsey Poultry Scandal – A Non-Response”).

  43. Moshe Blum says:

    > can you not see the not so subtle distinction between being upset at a psak and sanctioning the whole-sale bizui of a gadol baTorah???

    Actually, it seems that you are the one blurring the clear line between ‘being upset at a psak’ and publicly tearing Keria over a trampling of the Torah in the guise of a ‘psak’.

    > What a surprise there. There is a long honor list of people who had the had the zechut of being mocked by the same group.

    Really. Who else did they mock? Not condemn – mock.

    The rest of your comment regarding ‘how would you feel’ is irrelevant to the Emes, and I doubt you would be all indignant if it was Rav Shach being mocked.

    > How should I put this lightly… I simply DON’T believe you on this one.

    It has been published in what is by far the most authoritative of the bios of the CI – P’air Hador. And, what you believe or not is not germane to whether it is ‘inexcusable’ to accuse of him of what virtually all the Charedi leaders accused him of.

  44. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l, who tore Keri’a in public over his Psak

    over his Psak

    can you not see the not so subtle distinction between being upset at a psak and sanctioning the whole-sale bizui of a gadol baTorah???

    >The Steipler and the Tchebiner mocked him, they, along with Rav Shach

    What a surprise there. There is a long honor list of people who had the had the zechut of being mocked by the same group. Lu Iye Chelki Imahem. Meanwhile, if I were you, I would have a bit more yira’t cheit before repeating such mockery. (And I wonder how some of the defenders of RJR on this thread such as Steve Brizel would feel if this same logic was turned against the Rav whom they so respect. After all, at least one member of the above list has written in his published letters that the Rav had no “Yiraat Shamaim” c”V. Will you all sit quietly when the Kavod of the Rav is swept through the mud in the name of “following the gedolim of yesteryear? Or is silence in the face of bizuy haTorah a quality you only reserve for Rav Goren?”

    >and the Chazon Ish said that Rav Goren does not know how to learn.

    How should I put this lightly… I simply DON’T believe you on this one.

    a) there is probably no other gadol with more stories made up about him than the CI. Frankly, until his family actually releases the uncensored originals of his letters, there is zero way of telling what he really held on many many issues. Add to this VERY conflicting reports from various interested parties on all sides regarding the CI’s positions and … haEmet Ne’ederet.

    b) it is a silly and verifiably false thing to say. Rav Goren was recognized as an iluy from early on. He was considered one of the top learners in yeshivat Chevron. His early works had haskamas praising his geonus from such greats as R’IZ Meltzer. His father in law, haRav haNazir praised his mastery of Jewish learning time and time again. It is simply a ridiculous assertion to make that R’ Goren couldn’t learn and I will be dan the CI leKaf Zechut and assume that the story you quote is yet another figment of the imagination of revisionists in your camp (one among many others).

    So what can I say, you can attempt to rely on your gedolim for the sake of mocking other gedolim. It is your own neshama and I guess you can decide what to do with it. I would not be so quick as others on this thread to speak with such words against such a Torah great. I would have to maintain that all those who have been mevaze Rav Goren on this thread, should still be ashamed of themselves.