Of Concerts and Bans

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by Rabbi Dovid Landesman

I write this piece with a sense of b’dchilu u’rchimu – let’s translate this as trepidation. When I was younger I was less hesitant about being a semi-m’gadef – ascribing all types of vile characterizations to gedolei yisroel who seemed to somehow not get what was perfectly clear to my post-adolescent mind. With my vast storehouse of Torah erudition and my unbelievably astute analysis of the world around me, I was somehow qualified to make Torah pronouncements on issues that did not fit strictly into the area of halachah. I was willing to admit the supremacy of gedolim in some areas, but to expand this admission to the grey area that is called “da’as Torah” – no way, Jose!

As I matured, a still ongoing process, I realized how little I really know and more so, how much they do know. I am no less perplexed by some of their pronouncements, no less bothered by their seeming lack of awareness of the real world, and no less astounded oftimes by public pronouncemnts of policy. Nevertheless, I am reluctant to simply discredit them or ignore their words. Instead of condemning, instead of being cycnical, I do my best to understand. I also realize that a challenge even to contemporary roshei yeshiva is foolish. No matter how many steroids I take, I’m not going to challenge Barry Bonds to a homerun derby!

A case in point: at the last Torah Umesorah Convention, Rav Aron Leib Steinman was asked for a halachic opinion regarding the suitability of a rebbi playing sports with his talmidim. To Reb Aron Leib, coming from Bnei Brak and living in an environment where such behavior would be an enormous pritztat hagedorim, the answer was obvious – lo with an aleph! Did Rav Shmuel Kaminetzky or Rav Aharon Shechter or any of the American roshei yeshivot who were present qualify this statement as being unacceptable in most parts of America? No! Does that mean that they disagreed with the p’sak? No! Do they enforce it or even mention it? No! Does that make them hypocrites? No! Confused? Yes!

Years ago, when I graduated high school, Rav Aron Kotler zt”l consistently and constantly reiterated his position that it was absolutely forbidden for a yeshiva student to attend college. While never – at least in my memory – actually using the term assur when talking about college study, Reb Yaakov zt”l and Rav Schorr zt”l never publicly contradicted Reb Aharon. The same can be said about Rav Hutner and Reb Moshe. Despite the unequivocal p’sak of the unchallenged gadol hador, the clear majority of talmidim of Torah Vodaath, Chaim Berlin and MTJ attended college. [The educational background of the daughters of some of these roshei yeshivot is well known and will not be discussed. It might seem to be supportive but it is not germane to the argument I make.] Is there an inconsistency involved? Yes! Does this silent acquiesence seem to be hypocritical or cowardly? Perhaps! Puzzled? Clearly!

When Zimri was cavorting with Kozbi in the tent, Pinchas came running to the beit din of Moshe. “Gevalt,” he exclaimed, “do you know what’s going on over in Shimonland?” “Sure do.” Moshe replied. “Can’t we stop it?” “Yes.” “How?” “The halachah is kanaim pog’im bo.”

Pinchas grabbed a lance, went to the tent and came out with a skewer full of prince and princess. Why didn’t Moshe do it himself? Some of the mefarshim explain that he would have been accused of hypocricy given that he too was married to a non-Jewess. Others contend that it would have been the end of his leadership and effectiveness as a teacher; a kanai can not lead. [see Malbim who notes that when Eliyhau performs an act of kanaut vs. the prophets of Ba’al, he is told ee afshi becha – I (Hashem) no longer want you.] Pinchas’ halachic dilemma falls into the area of halachah v’ein morim kein – it is the appropriate ruling but we do not teach it. Why not? Because it will turn out to be counter-productive. Were we to live in a world where kanuat is understood not to be fanaticism for the sake of fanaticism, but rather a zealousness motivated by love of G-d, then killing Zimri would have been mainstream halachah and Moshe would have done it himself. But in a world where people can be accused of having ulterior motives, then kanaut is halachically permissible but impractical to mandate.

I would take this one step further. When the community is not at the point where it can accept a specific ruling – even when that ruling is made by gedolei olam who make it clear that they are issuing a p’sak halachah – then the reluctance of the tzibbur to accept that ruling can abrogate it. This is the basis of the concept of gezerah she’ain hatzibbur yachol la’amod bo. The gezerah was made, but it is almost automatically rescinded when it becomes unenforceable. [I admit that I am not enough of a baki to analyze the means through which this process transpires. Anyone who can do so, aderaba – your doing so will truly be l’toelet.] Does this mean that there was no point in making the gezerah given that it would never be enforced? Should the issuing authority first have taken a poll to see whether or not people would accept it? No, for there is educational value in evaluating the reasons that led to the issuance of the gezerah. When Rav Aron Leib issued his p’sak about playing ball, it was clearly in the parameters of gezerah she’ain hatzibbur yachol la’amod bo. As such, the roshei yeshiva sitting on the dais had no reason to disclaim it. On the contrary, their silence should be taken as an indication that there are certain boundaries that should be established that the tzibbur can accept.

I think that Reb Yaakov and Rav Schorr both understood that Reb Aharon’s psak about college was simply not going to work in Torah Vodaath. It would have meant the end of the yeshiva at that period. At the same time, they did not come out against it because its issuance was a strong message about the primacy of Torah education. Given the timeframe and the mindset of the talmidim, it was halachah v’ein morim kein.

I believe that the same is true of the tumult regarding the concert in Yerushalayim. The rabbanim who signed the kol koreh know that the majority of the tzibbur will not follow this p’sak. It has been made numerous times in the past and will undoubtedly be made numerous times in the future. Nonetheless, they issued the p’sak understanding that while it might itself be disregarded, the organizers of this concert and ones in the future as well, will be careful – to the extent possible – to prevent the venues from degenerating into a spectacle.

It behooves us to be careful when we criticize gedolim as Neanderthal men. Anyone who has had contact with any of those who signed the kol koreh can tell you that they’ve got more street smarts than you think. Yes, it is true that the handlers and mashakim often distort the true intent of gedolei yisroel. But from personal experience I can testify that many gedolim carefully choose when they allow it to appear that the wool is being pulled over their eyes.

Rabbi Landesman is the Educational Director of Aish Tamid in Los Angeles and the author of several Torah works. This article first appeared on his blog, Charadiation.

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50 Responses

  1. Doron Beckerman says:

    R. Baruch,

    1) I don’t think the Rabbanim who signed the ban were expressing anyone’s Halachic opinion but their own.

    2) This may be where Rabbi Landesman’s piece comes into play. If the singers and organizers who pay attention to these Pesakim get together and present to Rav Steinman that they have put in place some concerted (hehe) efforts to curtail the problems listed, there is room for optimism.

    3) I can’t speak to that, but from other reports that does not seem to be the case.

    4) To discourage mixed concerts – which are highly inappropriate.

    >>Why force one’s views on the singer if he follows his own Rav?

    The person organizing the concert/singer can also follow his Rav on whom to hire, or whatever demands he likes, and the singer can decide if it is worth it or not. Free market should dictate that you could ask a singer to sing particular songs too, or to dance on his head for three hours straight, and the singer has a right to refuse.

    5) >> What’s wrong if he followed Rav Ovadya Yosef?

    Nothing. But, again, people have a right to follow whoever they want in hiring singers too.

    >> For Americans, this is part of the larger Israeli Charedi way of life. No one has been banning concerts for the past twenty years. It would have a negative effect, in my opinion, if American Charedi life would morph into Israeli Charedi life, with it’s strict rules.

    It could be that the cost/benefit analysis of such a ban in America is different.
    Surprisingly, the Israeli Charedi has more summer fun opportunity than the Americans, in that there are many separate beaches and water parks.

  2. Baruch Horowitz says:

    R. Doron,

    Some comments:

    1) I don’t disagree with the legitimate Halachic concerns , but there can be different halachic opinions. For example, there was an issur placed to see kosher movies and play computer games in Kiryat Sefer. When I was growing up, no one told me about that (or the Charedi camp I went to). It’s possible that there are higher, Israeli standards on many halachic issues.

    http://chareidi.shemayisrael.com/archives5765/VSC65psakhebrew.htm

    2) Why not try to improve concerts instead of banning them? Will there be a kosher alternative to them?

    3) The source I quoted in comment #44,Rav Aryeh Elyashiv, appears to disagree with the Levushah Shel Torah, as it limits the issue to Yerushalayim’s extra sanctity(granted that’s not in the text of the ban).

    4) What about enforcement? What is the issue with not patronizing a performer who performs in mixed concerts?

    According to an Haaretz article(10/10/06), to perform at a Charedi Simchas Beis Hashoeva(perhaps a different situation), “[the askan] asks the musician to sign a document in which he promises never to perform at any event where men and women are not separated “according to rabbinical instructions.” Does this apply to performing in America too? Why force one’s views on the singer if he follows his own Rav?

    5) What about efforts not to hire Schweky in America? What’s wrong if he followed Rav Ovadya Yosef?

    6) For Americans, this is part of the larger Israeli Charedi way of life. No one has been banning concerts for the past twenty years. It would have a negative effect, in my opinion, if American Charedi life would morph into Israeli Charedi life, with it’s strict rules.

  3. Doron Beckerman says:

    Having read some of the above-mentioned segment of Levushah Shel Torah, it seems to me that the reason the ban is simple. There are legitimate Halachic concerns with many of these concerts, including Kallus Rosh, (jumping up and down on chairs, shrieking and screaming) singer worship, (girls trying to find out whatever details they can about the young male singers, asking for autographs), inappropriate beats, and other issues. Ayyen Sham.

    Now, it may be that some concerts are takeh eidel and have none of the ten problems listed in the Sefer. If they are the exception more than the rule, though, then I understand the ban on concerts, and why the burden of being Meikil should be on the people who want to go, to describe to their personal Rabbanim the nature of the concert and have him judge them on a case by case basis, similar to many other Psakim where there may be exceptions to the rule which should be discussed with one’s personal Posek.

  4. Aryeh says:

    The conclusion that one reaches from this is that the Gedolim should have their own blogs that they should use to explain their positions instead of everyone else using guesswork. But, alas, there’s no such blog, so we’re left with arbitrary ruminations and unverified speculations.

  5. Judah says:

    “hypocricy given that he too was married to a non-Jewess.”

    Moshe Rabbeinu was NOT married tp a non-Jewess, and no commentary says that, he was married to a Midainite, there is a world of difference, I’m surprised no one mentions this.
    Thats just a technical point.

    With due respect to Rabbi Landesman, who is a big Talmid Chacham, his article was very, how shall I put this, strange.
    He is telling us that when Gedolim put out a ban, a ban that affects thousands of frum Jews, many of whom don’t go to movies, theater, watch TV etc.. whose only outlet for wholesome entertainment (I think the poster who called these concerts “dreadful” is a fool or worse) is a concert (seperate seating) that arouses many to Yirat Shamyim through a medium of Shira V’Zimra, but they don’t really think anybody will actually change or not go they’re just reiterating a ban thats been in place for years etc. and he doesn’t really believe it anyway but the Gedolim are smarter, but nobody really takes theses things seriously etc etc
    Is he for real?? if anybody just denigrated a Godol it was R’ Landesman, he is basically saying the ban was just for posturing not for real. if ones Godol puts out a ban it is a ban. words and pronouncements are very powerful in the Torah world, a Rov’s words has to be given and taken seriously. I am amazed that R’ Landesman can be so cavalier about this, either he believes in his Rabbi or not. you can’t have it both ways.

    I am equally amazed at the story about RAK and College. if Reb Yaakov and Rav Ruderman etc. allowed their students to go to College it means that they disagreed with RAK.otherwise what are they cowards? we read about Rav Yaakovs strength of character, here was a major issue, affecting the future of thousands of sincere Yeshiva students, a Litvish Godol RAK, was saying College is forbidden, and other Gedolim were quiet. If they disagreed with RAK what does that say about them? what does it mean when Rav Yaakov or Rav Ruderman actively and totally approved of College for their students?
    For R’ Landesman to use his cute sense of humor to gloss over the serious issues of proriety here, is embarrasing, what he is telling his readers and I assume his students, I don’t understand the Gedolim because I’m not as smart as them, I don’t agree with The Gedolim because I think they’re wrong, but don’t worry nobody else agrees with them either and life wont change just another proclamation that will soon be forgotten.
    How do you venerate a RAK and regale young students with stories of his greatness, and at the same time totally disregard an Issur that he pronounced at a conference of Rabbonim, either he is, or hew isn’t! why is one Issur good and another not, who decides?

    Although I am totally not in his “camp” I think Rav Shtainman is a great Lamdan and a saintly man, but to prohibit a teacher in these times from bonding with a student through a permissible and wholesome activity like ball is totally off the wall, anybody who knows anything about the state of mind of a typical Israeli Charedi young yeshiva student, knows that, with small exceptions of a minority of introverted masmidim, the youth in Israeli Yeshivos are going thru a crisis of spiritual claustrophobia they are being enclosed in walls and barriers which most cannot tolerate and the result is disasterous, Vain Kan Hamokom, the best thing that can come to Bnai Brak is a basketball court etc. it will allow these special young men a healthy outlet, If RS does not realize that the majority of Yeshiva boys are not Chofetz Chaims or Rav Kanievskys then with all due respect he is not a Mechanech.
    If you want to play the Godol card you can’t have it both ways, either you don’t go to the concert, or College or the Baseball field and respect your Godol and if you do, he is not the one you follow.
    The same for the Godol, either you mean what you say or don’t say it.

    And yes, I happen to think the Yated is a rag guilty of every Loshon Hara in the book, it denigrates those Gedolim they disapprove of and venerates only those they agree with. and it is under the intense Hashgacha of many of the Gedolim of the litvish world and they should be much more ashamed of the Yated than of any concert.

  6. Baruch Horowitz says:

    I remember about three years ago, R. Tzvi Hirsch Weinreb speaking at the OU Jerusalem Convention keynote session. He said, to the effect, that the Neturie Karta protests against Rav Shteinman’s visit to the United States caused a “good, Frum kid, not a kid at risk”, to say that “she felt like she did not want to be Jewish anymore”. While such extreme feelings wane with time, others have echoed less extreme thoughts in this forum and elsewhere. For example, Rabbi Emanuel Feldman quoted a Baal Teshuva friend who said about certain bans that “such behavior tends to remove some of the beauty and holiness from Torah life”.

    Besides feelings of alienation, this culture causes ill-will towards the Torah world and Judaism amongst non-religious Jews(read the talkbacks in many Ynet/Haaretz/ Jeruslaem Post articles). Even among frum Jews, it results in a challenge to people being able to unite on issues with a broader, and near across- the- board Orthodox consensus(e.g.,Conversions or EL Al/Shabbos issues), and a difficulty in generating sympathy for the continued economic viability of Israeli Kollel system.

    Thus, even if in theory, building higher and higher walls is an effective response to secular culture, the negative by-product of the secular press and of blogs to many issues would seem to work against the protection of the Israeli Charedi system, let alone against outreach. Battles over issues must be chosen carefully, and even then, the communication and methods of enforcement that are used need to be thought of in terms of the broader effect on world Jewry. Kannoim(zealots) who wish to harm Yaakov Schweky, Avroham Fried and their families, are foolishly harming the charedi community by their inability to focus on the broader picture.

    A creative solution to the Concert issue, for example, could perhaps be to hold the concerts outside Yerushalyim, and have a Mashgiach speak at the event, and adults could supervise against intermingling upon exiting. This is not so far-fetched, as I remember both Rabbi Elizezer Ginsburg and Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser of Flatbush speaking at the introduction to a small, concert- type event in a Yeshivah in Brooklyn, complete with a Siyum, organized for Yeshivah boys(only) who needed it(some form of “Jewish rock” was later also played, as I recall).

    While the transparency generated by blogs can be a counterbalance towards protecting against efforts to remove Schweky’s children from Yeshivah, the real way to stop kannoim is to have the top of the Charedi world(e.g., American Moetzes) step in, and stop the zealots from damaging the rest of the Jewish people, as they promote their parochial agenda. As I wrote previously, I hope that people with the proper connections will make American Gedolim aware of the different types of fall-out, as is contained in the comments in forums such as this one.

  7. Baruch Horowitz says:

    I link below to an a good article by Larry Gordon in the Five Towns Jewish Times quoting a source close to Rav Elyashiv that the issue was specifically Yerushalyim(although it wasn’t in the text of the ban), and speaks of how zealots went further, and are trying to harm the singer’s families in America. I quote from the article:

    “The intention with this and other rulings was to establish a higher standard for Jerusalem because of what the rabbis feel is too light of an environment that exists around these shows. The rabbi said that the rabbanim in Eretz Yisrael understand that there is a positive and even inspiring aspect to these shows, but that the venues and the atmosphere that exist—not in the shows themselves, but around them—may not be respectful enough for the Holy City…

    Mr. Shwekey’s rabbi, Rav Ovadyah Yosef, spoke with the entertainer last week in Jerusalem and told him that his position was that the shows should go forward and that he should perform. As a result, we’ve learned he’s been told by some here that they will organize an effort to encourage people not to hire him for simchas here, and there is a concern that pressure will be exerted on the yeshivas that his children attend to remove them from the schools because he may have defied a ruling of gedolei Torah

    It’s hard to imagine that this was the intent of the above-named rabbis. Still, this is the way in which those who seek to carry out their directives—possibly even with good intentions—interpret what are often declarations that contain some ambiguity. A conversation with Mr. Fried on Sunday left me with a sense of his shock and even concern for the way in which these events unfolded…

    …According to the singer, Mr. Fried, some of the so-called enforcers have an alternative agenda, which starts with their feeding the rabbanim misinformation which leads to the spiral of what we have now—a situation that is on the verge of tumbling out of control.”

    http://www.5tjt.com/news/read.asp?Id=1464

  8. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “Rabbi Landesman is correct on only one point: his trepidation in contributing his essay was well-founded since, respectfully, it has created only more confusion and acrimony. Like those who remained silent at the Torah U’Mesorah Convention, in this instance Rabbi Landesman should have as well…”

    First, like sometimes in the past, I could have written my comments better; nevertheless, I tried to be respectful towards Gedolie Torah, and also to be positive about the future. I would add that Rabbi Landesman(who did not express the same view as mine), attempted the same.

    The concerns about raising the issue in this forum are valid, but on the other hand, one can make a case for discussion. The “confusion and acrimony” were there in the past, and will continue to grow. If the standard charedi response(I’m referring to forums such as these, not that of the Torah Umesorah convention) will be one of silence, or to engage in apologetics that distract attention from the issue instead of facing head-on people’s feelings of conflict, I’m not sure what silence accomplishes.

    Communication theoretician Paul Watzlawick, (based on other’s previous research) famously said, “One Cannot Not Communicate”. Certainly an imposed silence, or issue-dodging apologetics, speaks volumes.

  9. Doron Beckerman says:

    I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but in the recently published two vol. “Levushah Shel Torah” by Rabbi Falk, which is the sourcebook for the Oz V’Hadar Levushah, there is a long chapter with ten (I think) Halachic reservations re concerts and “Arvei Shirah”. If someone would post them and directly contend with the issues raised, I’d appreciate it.

  10. anonymous says:

    Rabbi Landesman is correct on only one point: his trepidation in contributing his essay was well-founded since, respectfully, it has created only more confusion and acrimony. Like those who remained silent at the Torah U’Mesorah Convention, in this instance Rabbi Landesman should have as well . . .

  11. steve says:

    The language used in the ban condemns these singers for life if they perform at this concert. How can you make light of this ban and say that they don’t expect compliance? I know these singers personally and they are the most decent, upright Jews you can meet. They are talmidei chachamim who are busy learning Torah whenever they are not making the klal happy with their singing. This whole episode will cause irreparable damage to their reputations and to their wonderful families. They’re in a no-win situation here. If the rabbis were serious about preventing pritzus, then they should allow only males at male concert, just like only females are allowed at female concerts.

  12. Michael Atlas says:

    I was told that R. Yaakov Kaminetzky responded that a rebbe was allowed to play ball with his talmidim, under one condition: That he was GOOD!

    I’m not trying to criticize R.A.L.S but I thought R> Yaakov’s response was sharp.

  13. mycroft says:

    “He explained that in Yerushalim you aren’t supposed to have live music.”

    Someone explain to me how we live music today-since the churban bayit sheni-. I am aware of the exception for chason and kallah-but where is the source for the almost universally acceptance of music.
    Rav Nachman Braslav-liyot bsimcha?

  14. sima ir kodesh says:

    Joe
    Quite a statement I must say, “In fact I do not know a single yirat shemayim person in Jerusalem who is going to any of those dreadful concerts, Rachamana Litzlan”.
    It is evident that you are not in Israel and do not know who did or did not attend the concert. BTW How would you judge their yirat shemayim? Sometimes the Americans know about the latest bans before we do, and you guys spend more time discussing it than we do here.

  15. Shlomo says:

    Rabbi Landesman:

    I have never been to a concert of Jewish music and have no intention of ever attending one (wild horses couldn’t drag me. I do not allow this type of “music” in my home. I consider it vulgar, primitive, and far removed from genuine spirituality.

    However, I fail to see how anyone who loves the Torah and loves Talmidei chachamim could not be extraordinarily distressed and embarrassed by the bans and “recommendations” that pour forth from Tzion, be it hiking, concerts, indian hair shaitles, Slifkin, etc, etc, etc.

    Boys rush out in 115 degree heat to hike (even without sufficient water) for a reason. (They revel in the freedom and th opportunity to engage in challenging, physical activity.)

    Slifkin’s books appeal to certain people for a reason. (They are troubled by certain questions and haven’t been satisified with the types of answers that satisfy others.)

    I suppose that Jewish music concerts also meet some kind of real need that people have.

    The worst part about these Da’as Torah responses is that they fail to recognize the legitimacy of these types of needs and fail to propose healthy, constructive alternatives.

    The end result is that more and more people will feel alienated from the world of Torah and the relevance of guidance from Talmidei Chachamim.

    And that will be the greatest tragedy of all.

  16. Rabbi Zvi says:

    Just Me:

    This ban is perplexing to people that know halacha, that is why there is so much discussion. The ban cites no sources nor does it give clear reasons and it challenges, in extremely strong terms, that which has been accepted (at least here in the U.S.) for some twenty years. Additionally, the ban places well respected people into the category of sinners who sin and cause others to sin as-well – this is very difficult to understand, let alone accept.

    To those who find it difficult to understand people who question statements from Talmidei Chachamim and Gedolim: Please understand that to say that a human being cannot err is blasphemous. As long as the discussion is respectful and does not cause any Chillul HaShem, as long as there is To’eles, then the discussion is permissible.

  17. rak says:

    “He explained that in Yerushalim you aren’t supposed to have live music.”

    I was also confused about this (though I have been confused about it for many years). I am not sure how people interpret the parameters of yerushalayim for live music. When it comes to chasunas, they use drums-only in all of yerushalayim, but I believe that otherwise many people do play live music in yerushalayim outside of the old city. I am not sure about this – does anyone have more information or sources?

  18. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “I shudder to think that our world would be so thought controlled and we would have so little free will if Lakewood and Bnei Brak actually were in control”

    I think there are significant differences between America and Israel. America is less polarized, and the OU and Young Israel have a balancing effect on the American Charedi world, in a stronger way than Mizrachi in Israel affects the Charedi community there. Also, the American Charedi world interacts with the secular one to a greater extent than in Israel.

    That’s why I think that it’s unlikely that American Charedi Orthodoxy will lose it’s American identity and morph into the Israeli model, but that’s just my guess(also, although I mentioned “Askanim” from two insular communities, I do obviously not think that everyone in those communities is automatically zealous).

  19. shaulking says:

    Mr. Fisher
    Can you explain the Modern Orthodox connection to the ban? Did not chap the connection? or is there none…

  20. Ari says:

    To this centrist, it’s troubling and perplexing when otherwise ehrlich factions criticize the other as apikorsim. On the other hand, it means that chareidi criticism of my own “leniencies” (ie. college education, contemporary clothes, engagement with secular culture, zionism, strawberries, concerts, hiking, wife who is a highly skilled & educated professional) are probably overstated. :>)

    I think the bottom line is this: find a talmid chacham in whose opinion you trust, and who can help you navigate and better differentiate psakim, gezeiros, halachos, minhagim, hashakafos and terutzim. Once you find your a particular orthodox path, be consistent. (And for Heaven’s sake, do not de-legitimize someone’s else’s approach. A little derech eretz, please.)

    If you try to be mekayim all shittas, then you end up wearing five pairs of talleisim, and tfillin to boot, all day long. I know of only one person who has done this. The rest of us? Mortals.

  21. A True Believer says:

    If one of the rabbeim who signed the kol koreh happens to be your personal halachic advisor( i.e.your posek) then you are halachically bound to follow the psak. The kol koreh is for you the equivalent of a flashing red light to an automobile driver. You MUST stop this activity. If, however, your posek did not have any involvement in the kol koreh, you are not halachically bound to the psak at all. However it should behoove every serious yirai shomyim to consider the psak as at least a flashing amber light, and at least slow down as it were, and give the matter some serious thought.

  22. Just Me says:

    When I heard about the ban on concerts, I turned to my usual expert, my kollel son in Yerushalayim. He explained that in Yerushalim you aren’t supposed to have live music. That made sense to me. Now that I’ve read Rabbi Landesman’s article however, I am very confused. This seems to mean that when respected rabonim give a psak that I either don’t understand or don’t agree with it might just be that they didn’t mean it for me to follow at all.
    When I took “kallah classes” my teacher said that she will teach exact halacha and in cases where customs are more stringent, she will say that these are customs. That will prevent anyone from saying that something that SEEMS stringent is probably not halacha so I will just ignore it.
    Perhaps Rabbi Landesman can explain how to tell the difference between a psak to be followed and a psak that was just issued….I don’t know…because it could be.

  23. Holy Hyrax says:

    and think again, before we foolishly open our mouths and allow loshon hora to be said against our Gedolim.

    What if you do not consider them, “our” gdolim? Meaning, lashon hara should not be accepted, but what is the problem with some critisism? The post not too long ago on R’ Goren was full of criticism and he is considered a Gadol to certain communities.

  24. Dr. E says:

    With all due respect to the author, I don’t buy with the author’s parallels with the Gedolim of the last generation. And without these parallels as precedent, most of his points never get off the ground. Let me offer some examples and perspectives:

    (1) We live in a different world today. If a Gadol of last generation said something, wrote something, or signed something and you had a question about it, you picked up the phone and called him. After all, he had a phone and was listed in the phone book. And what do you know? He often answered the call himself! (What a concept!) If the caller spoke respectfully, the Gadol responded directly clarified and explained his position. Today, we have entourages, Gabbaim, spokesman, askanim, who are really just spin doctors and amateur social engineers who think they know what’s best for all of us. And they filter information upward accordingly, better than any of the water filters they now sell in Brooklyn. It is not so much a matter of these handlers distorting the true intent of the Gedolei Yisroel as Rabbi Landesman stipulates, as much as it is distorting the meztiyus of the “problem” to them.

    (2) It should be noted that the Gedolim of the past were very hesitant to publicly proclaim things as assur, people as krum or apikorsim, or put people and events in cherem. I would be willing to bet that Rav Moshe and Rav Shlomo Zalman collectively issued fewer bans, cheramim, etc. in their entire lifetimes than what appears during a single year of the Yated. And certainly, the Gedolim of yesteryear had what to be upset about. (Then again, without the popular zeitgeist of Kannaus of today, they may not have been bothered by as many things and they focused their energies elsewhere.)

    (3) Without getting into a qualitative argument over comparing Gedolim across generations, the Gedolim of previous generations ran yeshivos, had administrative responsibilities like fundraising, were directly involved in tzorchei tzibbur and had to work together intra- and inter-institutionally, very often across religious ideologies. So, in a real sense, they were more accountable for and sensitive to the impact of decisions on institutions and Klal Yisrael in general.

    (4) The title Gadol is used way too freely today. How one defines a “Gadol”, I’m not exactly sure. But, at minimum it represents a lifetime of achievement not only as a Talmid Chacham and Posek, but also a ba’al machshava and someone connected to the tzibbur in a direct and tangible way (not merely via signatures and photo-ops on glossy tzedakka bochures.). The previous generation was blessed with visionary leaders whose titles were earned, not bestowed by some magazine or political organization. By admission, those proclaimed as today’s manhigim have been cloistered in an unadulterated environment for most of their lives. So, it is here that Rabbi Landesman wants to have his cake and eat it too. One cannot be isolated yet have a fully objective appreciation for the facts on the ground and the ramifications of rulings and decisions.

    (4) We live in a multimedia, instantaneous world. Let’s not be naïve. The Chareidi world knows this quite well. The press, paparazzi, Internet and cell phones—all of the things that are despised because their association with the secular world are used in ironically similar ways to further agendas. So, when an American organization like Torah U’Mesorah calls upon someone for a Q & A on Inyanei Chinuch and broadcasts it live via satellite all over the world, who exactly is the intended audience of that educational advice? It’s not as if a Rebbe from a Cheder in Bnai Brak is asking a personal shayla in an office as it pertains to just him and his class. The very nature of this forum makes any answer to a question is obviously “out there” for public consumption, whether one lives in Yerushalayim, Lakewood, Baltimore, or Teaneck, So, to come back and claim that this was meant to be communicated and received publicly is highly disingenuous.

    And when an ad is posted in the Yated (which gets sent around the world in seconds) under the bold heading of “Psak Halacha” (in absolute terms with no caveat as to its intended audience), is that really to be interpreted in the context that Rabbi Landesman frames it? Furthermore, to say that they realize that no one will listen and use the “Psak Halacha” (and de facto, the irrefutable Daas Torah) as merely a wake-up call for some introspection and soul searching is nothing short of insulting. The Halachic process was never meant to be used in such ways. [Rabbi Landesman’s introduction of the principles of gezerah she’ain hatzibbur yachol la’amod bah and Halacha v’ein morin kein are far from compelling, inasmuch as they are really Talmudic concepts which are not in force today. After all, we are talking about a newspaper ad in the Yated in 2007.]

    (6) It used to be that Halachic opinions were rendered through responsum literature. This was written by a single person, with a reasoned approach, weighing both sides of an issue, and finally rendering a conclusion. And very often, the Mechaber had no publisher, so the sefer had to sell on its own merits. Today, opinions are rendered through signed Kol Koreh’s and cheramim. Penning a teshuva is either a lost art or the masses have lost their patience to learn through a teshuva. I suspect that it’s the latter, as the tzibbur today seems to only have the attention span for the bottom line.

    (7) Life is complex. Society is complex. And our religious and Halachic lives need to reflect this. IMHO, the Gedolim of yesteryear had an appreciation for this complexity, probably due to fewer degrees of separation from reality. Unlike today, not everything was framed in black and white (take the pun if you’d like) as there were acceptable shades of gray and prevailing contextual factors that were considered. And behind many of the Halachic, ideological, and political differences that the Gedolim had, there was mutual respect and longstanding personal relationships. After all, they often found themselves having to work together for the Klal. Machlokes rarely got personal and Gedolim knew how to agree to disagree when necessary. I’m not sure what happened, but it’s devolved into “our way or the highway”.

    (8) Finally, the Gedolim of yesteryear knew how to defer and confer—and even “pass” when and issue was beyond their purview. There were no askanim who coerceed their mentors into rendering decisions and signing every Kol Koreh, book ban, or takana—-for fear of the sky falling.

    I frame my thoughts not to chas v’shalom cast aspersions on anyone directly, as much as yearning for a different time not too long ago when things were handled quite differently.

  25. Bob Miller says:

    Regarding “Comment by Londoner — August 5, 2007 @ 8:27 pm”:

    This comment is true in a sense, but Jews’ “own Morei Horo’oh” might in time elect to follow the lead of the signatories.

    Some see any attempt by Gedolei Yisroel to have practical influence as quixotic. Others are disturbed that the Gedolei Yisrael actually have widespread practical influence. Still others also see widespread influence as real, but as a good thing. One’s reaction depends largely on one’s degree of buy-in to today’s excuse for Western Civilization.

  26. David says:

    ‘Shimon grabbed a lance, went to the tent and came out with a skewer full of prince and princess.’

    Should read “Pinchos grabbed…”

  27. HILLEL says:

    BOY, DO I LOVE THIS BLOG!

    Where else do you get the opportunity to scrutinize the Gedolei Hador and put in you own two cents.

    Frankly, my position on all this is that the Gedolei Hador tell it like it is. What they say is absolutely true and real. However, you can choose to ignore or modify their advice, and then, suffer the consequences.

    Just because some Roshei Yeshiva made a decision to remain silent on a given issue does not mean that they disagree with what was said by other Gedolim. All it probably means is that, for tactical reasons, they felt that, among their students, speaking out would cause more harm than good.–It’s a tactical decision.

  28. Loberstein says:

    “Finally, one also has to know how to read between the lines of the highly-controlled charedi media. The American, Chasidic Hamodia published the ban, but I think that the chances of the American Moetzes banning the HASC concerts or Miami Boys Choir Concerts—that have been taking place for the past twenty years in prominent venues such as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Metropolitan Opera House, Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden Theatre, or Nassau Coliseum—is infinitesimal.”
    Baruch Horowitz is very brave to say out loud what many think. I shudder to think that our world would be so thought controlled and we would have so little free will if Lakewood and Bnei Brak actually were in control. I do not see how I could ever live in such a restricted world, it would drive me away. On the one hand I am happy that chareidim are growing in percentage of the Jewish population but I am worried that the least flexible and most intolerant are growing the fastest. I think the “pluralism” issue is being reformulated for the 21st century to an intra-orthodox issue. Will you and I be considered out of the camp as much as the Reformers in another few years? Who says that these concerts won’t be banned? I am very concerned for the future of my own family, can we ask them to be frum if this is what frumkeit entails?

  29. Joe Fisher says:

    This article openly belittles the psak of our leaders. In fact I do not know a single yirat shemayim person in Jerusalem who is going to any of those dreadful concerts, Rachamana Litzlan.

    By the way, the article likewise belittles the Torah with the teasing and immature presentation of the Pinchas incident. The Torah is not a movie to be summarized in this silly way. Making something seem little and maybe even “funny” in some American cinematic way protects you from what it really says.

    Obviously some of the Modern Orthodox don’t want the part of frum that means following their leaders.

  30. Baruch Horowitz says:

    While, as I wrote above, I think that the issue goes way beyond the question of Jewish Music concerts, Rabbi Yosef C. Golding, who has been involved in JEP recordings and Suki and Ding productions, wrote an article about improvements that he felt needed to be made in both Jewish Music recordings and live events(he it did not focus on Israel in particular, nor on the “family seating” aspect). Writing in the May, 2007 issue of the Jewish Observer, he has the following suggestions for the Jewish Music industry(he thanks Yisroel Lamm and Abie Rotenberg for constructive comments):

    “We urge the talented songwriters, perfomers, and producers to understand what a great impact they can have upon Klal Yisrael and we point out to them that they have an opportunity to use their music, regardless of genre, for a greater good.

    The performer should not merely prance around on stage for an hour, mindlessly belting out tune after tune… To enhance the music, there should be dialogue, peirsush hamillim, a story, chizuk, inspiration, a plea for a greater connection to the Almighty through music, …and we must be able to say wholeheartedly, tavo alav beracha–may he receive Divine blessings–for doing so…even if it isn’t always the kind of music that you and I appreciate.

    An evening of Jewish music should reinforce within the audience that music is a gift from Hashem with the potential to inspire the appropriate emotion of the movement, whether simcha shel mitzva, simchas hachaim, or longing to be closer to Hashem, or to return to Yerushalayim…and that the evening was well spent spiritually. Jewish music is a calling, not merely a way to make a living.

    If everyone involved made it paramount that their audiences be uplifted overall…or better yet, if the audiences demanded that performers use their talents for that goal…it would go a long way towards bringing the true shiras Levi’im closer to realization.”

  31. dovid landesman says:

    Thank you all for your comments and ha’arot. If you address them directly to me at my blog, [charadiation.blogspot.com] I will try to respond in a timely fashion. I also intend to expand on this original posting and I think that I might be able to offer some insight which allows for a real appreciation of da’as Torah and acceptance of it without sacrificing one’s intellect. I do think that the term needs to be truly defined. The working translation that I use is:
    An ability to examine a given situation through eyes that filter information through the prism of Torah alone, successfully preventing personal agendas, interests or emotions from playing any role. It is this ability that gives the words of a gadol credence, for his da’at is as free from negiutt as is humanly possible.

    By defining it in this manner, one can allow for mistakes, misinterpretations and often a wrong reading of a situation, for the hester panim that Hakadosh Baruch Hu often introduces into the world for reasons that He alone knows, blinds even gedolim.

    I will respond to one correspondent by reminding him that the Torah mentions Yated as an instrument used to handle excrement. If you believe that the editorial board is subjectg to review, I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you in Brooklyn.

    Dovid Landesman

  32. Michael Feldstein says:

    What about the ban against Rabbi Slifkin’s books? Does this fall into the same category as the ban against the concerts? How does one know what ban is for real, and what ban can be ignored (but being done by the gedolim for other reasons)? Can the community decide for itself which bans it wants to ignore? Wouldn’t it make more sense for the gedolim to be more prudent in their comments banning a product or activity, so that the community will take themn more seriously?

    Truthfully, I simply don’t understand Rabbi Landesman’s comments. Then again there is a lot that I don’t understand about the fervently Orthodox community.

  33. Londoner says:

    This is nothing to do with the much abused concept of Daas Torah.

    Daas Torah strictly means that the view of Gedolei Yisroel in matters UNCONNECTED TO HALOCHO has a weight and gravity greater than their apparent expertise (or lack of it) in these matters, due to their extensive torah learning.

    The kol koreh referred to here attempts to outlaw these concerts by using halocho, and as such is binding at most only on those people who would otherwise ask sha’alos of the signatories, or who have indeed asked them for a psak. Other people can continue to follow the dictates of their own Morei Horo’oh, without needing to defer to the undoubted eminenece of the signatories.

  34. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “Anyone who has had contact with any of those who signed the kol koreh can tell you that they’ve got more street smarts than you think”

    I appreciate your writing on a sensitive and difficult topic, which will result in critiques from both the Right and the Left. For me, it is also a painful topic, as I have met, as part of a group, some of the signatories of the ban, including Rav Elyashiv, Rav Sheinberg, the Gerer Rebbe, and Rav Shtienman(as well as R. Chaim Kanievsky, who was not a signatory). As is obvious from the pictures I have from some of the meetings, they gave me their full attention, and it was certainly an inspiring experience. So I agree that one should not dismiss their words easily.

    Jewish Music concerts are not the crux of this issue, but for anyone interested, I posted today on my blog the text of the Rabbi Yosef C. Golding’s, nuanced, Jewish Observer article of May, 2007, that recommended positive improvements in Jewish Music concerts, instead of banning them(note, it did not focus on Israel in particular, nor on the “family seating” aspect).

    The crux of the issue is the growing alienation that many people feel from the Torah world, and that is why a harangue against Jewish Music concerts would be entirely besides the point. While I don’t agree with all of Rabbi Slifkin’s ideas, I am surprised that Rabbi Landesman doesn’t mention the ultimate gezerah she’ain hatzibbur yachol la’amod bo, and that is the declaring of Rav Hirsch and the Rambam’s opinion to be kefirah. There are other examples as well; sometimes, the issue is not what’s said, but how it’s said–ei efshar l’fartom ki rabbim heim.

    In January, Rabbi Adlerstein had written “I hope that [a Chabad rabbi] can take some of the depth of feeling about Chabad (some of it coming from very respected members of the community) back to his compatriots, and get them to realize that there is a problem out there”. I say the same about comments here; those who read or write on this blog who have access to Gedolim should make them aware of where (some of) the tzibbur is. Agudah, indeed realized it, and attempted to address it this past November.

    I would recommend that anyone caught “in between” on these issues find both chaverim(friends) and “moderate” rabbonim within the haredi/yeshiva world for purposes of chizuk(support). You might be pleasantly surprised, as I have been, to find that like in any society, there is, by definition, a difference between a less-nuanced public posture, versus private, more open and nuanced, off- the- record conversations. Rabbonim will, when appropriate, even joke in a way that in public would be eschewed; chutzpah and “prikas ol” is sometimes not intrinsic, but determined by the forum.

    I do not necessarily recommend this for everyone, but I have also made contact with Talmidie Chachaim outside the Yeshiva world(“Centrists”) who are relatively closer to me, hashkafa-wise. The fact that someone with my background feels a need to do so, is sad, and says a lot about the public messages being communicated, as distinct from as recent as ten years ago. These Centrist Talmidie Chachamim understand my needs and concerns a lot better than “askonim”(activists) in Bnie Brak and Lakewood, but as above, there do exist “moderate” rabbonim even in the yeshiva/charedi world who will not give you charedi apologetics– “explanations” that evade issues– in response to your legitimate question, but rather a thoughtful and honest response, which one can respect even if one disagrees with it.

    Finally, one also has to know how to read between the lines of the highly-controlled charedi media. The American, Chasidic Hamodia published the ban, but I think that the chances of the American Moetzes banning the HASC concerts or Miami Boys Choir Concerts– that have been taking place for the past twenty years in prominent venues such as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Metropolitan Opera House, Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden Theatre, or Nassau Coliseum–is infinitesimal.

    None of the above is meant to take away emunas chachamim from anyone, but rather to help those who can benefit from these suggestions. Those who have a problem with what I’ve written, perhaps should stick to reading the Yated :)

  35. SS says:

    And one more thing: After the Lithuanian haredi keneset member was slapped, instead of these gedolim trying to make traction from this, like the won the lottery, and use the slap to forward their agenda, couldn’t they have declared that it is the Three Weeks and they are mochel the person who did this in the name of building up ahavat Yisrael?

    There are other bans in the works and they will be released when the time is right. The time is not far off when they will ban ALL music.

    So I ask you Rabbi Landesman, at what point do you say enough with these gdolim. Will they ever do something that forces you to say enough, or is everything they do OK? When they declare that someone is not Jewish because he doesn’t like chulent, is that enough? When is enough?

  36. SS says:

    I have a question for you Rabbi Landesman. How then can you explain the actiosn of Yated Neeman, which has a vaadah ruchanit which answers to R. Elyashiv. Every word in this paper is scrutinized and reflects Daas Torah. Yet it is OK for them in the last 2 weeks to degrade R. Shlomo Amar in the most disgusting way possible. It is OK for them to say that Yemenites smell. And this is just th elast two weeks. When I see this stuff being publshed by the haredi paper of record, why should I just declare that these so-called rabbonim and gedolim are bad people. The Shas party last week referred to Yated Neeman as Yated le-Reformim since they opposed Rabbi Amar’s solution to the conversion problem and would rather not have the rabbis in charge of conversions.
    This is just the beginning. Stuff which no one could have imagined years ago appeares on a weekly basis in YAted, and gedolim who don’t follow the “Hashkafah” of R. Elyashiv and Bnei Brak are routinely attacked personally. The biggest source of sinas chinam in the Orthodox world comes from Yated Neeman, which routinely prints every ban.
    And yet you still think that we should support the gedolim and institutions that are responsible for so muc conflict and hatred?

  37. Menachem Lipkin says:

    “Rabbi Landesman is to be congratulated on his clear and logical explanation of a seemingly unacceptable example of Da’as Torah.”

    Let’s just remember that this is A Daas Torah, not THE Daas Torah.

    What’s important for those of us who are not in the sphere of these Litvish Israeli Torah scholars to remember each time such edicts are made is that they do not reflect our Daas Torah. As great as these Rabbis are, this does not apply to us anymore than an edict from Satmar or Lubavitch would apply to them.

    In creating the Moetzes as a “members only” club the Aguda, by definition, excluded from their orbit all those who don’t subscribe to the Aguda Hashkafa.

    It certainly is valuable for all of us to discuss the virtues of such an edict coming from Torah Scholars. We can on the one hand applaud the Chareidi adherents who show fidelity to their hashakfa in light of these increasing tests to their faith and on the other hand we can collectively say B”H that it’s not our problem, other than that we may have fewer concerts to attend if that’s what we’re into.

    While overall, Rabbi Landesman’s article was well stated, the idea that, “they issued the p’sak understanding that while it might itself be disregarded”, is insulting, at best, to these Gedolim and those that choose to faithfully follow them.

    However, for those in the Chareidi world for whom these edicts are becoming too onerus we in the MO camp, instead of pushing these borderline Chareidim away by disrespecting their gedolim, can remind them that there always remains a door open to, what we consider to be, a more l’chatchala approach to Torah and Mitzvos.

  38. dr. william gewirtz says:

    R. Landesman, Joel Rich, Yehoshuah Mandelcorn – read shenai sugai masoret in vol. 1 of shiurim lezecher avi mori where u will find obvious support for your point about gezairot. however, u might also remember that this halacha of “gezerah she’ain hatzibbur yachol la’amod bo” only applies to gezairot; I suspect these bans are being promulgated as Dinai torah, not gezairot or ideals.

    Also, I might have been clearer, but the stories of RAK and RALS, where I think R. Landesman makes a good point, did not happen with the fanfare of our recent sequence of bans.

    topic for a different post about how/when/why the tzibbur “ignored” a gezirah of the beit din hagodal.

  39. Loberstein says:

    I would like to respond to “true believer” who wrote “It is sad that so many of us are eager to criticize our Gedolim because we are too ignorant to grasp the subtle intent of their message.” Real gedolim are good people, they don’t write in the tone of these bans. My only way of still being able to have a modicum of respect is to accept that their handlers are misleading them and that they didn’t actually write what they signed. One can be against certain concerts without this mean spirited way of expressing oneself. Rav Moshe was the sweetist kindest man and so was Rabv Yaakov, how can anyone who writes these bans be in the same catagory?
    One more point, Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman should have answered that since he doesn’t live in the USA, he defers to the gedolim of the country where the questioner lives. How come they show no respect for the gedolim of America? Are the Eretz Yisroel chareidim really more successful or are they fighting a battle with the losing tactics of yesteryear. It is morally wrong to ask a man over 90 years old to carry on his shoulders the whole world and then to have that man surrounded with handlers who no one believes tell him the whole truth. It’s is a real chilul hashem.

  40. lacosta says:

    It behooves us to be careful when we criticize gedolim as Neanderthal men

    — agreed. and the handlers need to be careful. for example , in a circular for one of the major haredi tzedakos that appears in english, an issue included the fact that one of the 2 litvishe gdolei hador, when visiting the tzedaka’s phone bank operations, did not know what the piece of plastic known as ‘kartis ashrai’ [credit card] was. to publicize such a fact was not wise. some of the public might see this as a sign of too sheltered a lifestyle to know what issues the amcha have to deal with. others would contend that it is best to leave such facts secret from the public–for it just gives fuel to those who would contend that the gdolim are ‘out of touch’……

  41. A True Believer says:

    Rabbi Landesman is to be congratulated on his clear and logical explanation of a seemingly unacceptable example of Da’as Torah. It is sad that so many of us are eager to criticize our Gedolim because we are too ignorant to grasp the subtle intent of their message. Thank you Rabbi Landesman for reminding us to think, and think again, before we foolishly open our mouths and allow loshon hora to be said against our Gedolim.

  42. Yehoshua Mandelcorn says:

    I disagree with your assumption that leaders will make a decree knowing the majority will not follow. The simple meaning of “gezerah she’ain hatzibbur yachol la’amod bo” is that such decrees are not to be made in the first place. Repeated unrealistic decrees made by any leader will only serve to undermine his authority. Decrees are not trial balloons. On an individual basis, if one’s Rabbi makes repeated decrees that he can not follow, he should seek out another Rabbi (Orthodox of course) whose rulings he can follow.

  43. Harry Maryles says:

    The rabbanim who signed the kol koreh know that the majority of the tzibbur will not follow this p’sak. …they issued the p’sak understanding that while it might itself be disregarded, the organizers of this concert and ones in the future as well, will be careful – to the extent possible – to prevent the venues from degenerating into a spectacle.

    I appreciate your perspective on this issue but it does not address the issue of whether the concerts are a cause of the problem or merely a facilitator for expression of problems already in play… looking for a place to be expressed. Nor does it treat the core issue of why this kind of problem exists… or whether the bans themselves contribute to it. This post has generated my own, which gives a fuller treatment to these questions: http://haemtza.blogspot.com/2007/08/why-gedolim-can-and-should-be.html

  44. Loberstein says:

    I asked someone about the language of the psak , the fact that the performers are to be denied any honor in shul , not allowed to daven before the amud, to be treated as ‘oisworfs”. It wasn’t only the phohibition against all concerts of any kind with no distinction as to who is performing, whether it is Avrohom Fried of the Miami Boys Choir or Shloick Rock, all are against the Torah , so they say. The individual answered me
    “The venom in the language is a style that has been around for over a hundred years. It is primitive, ugly, and I doubt whether anyone will ever do anything about it.”
    My only comment is how can one compare gedolei olom like Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky and his dor to people who allow their name to be used in such a manner.
    You claim that these gedolim know exactly what is going on and only pretend to let the wool be pulled over their eyes. Where are their midos tovos?

  45. jacob says:

    Let me get this straight:

    The Rabbis know that the ban is over the line, and wish to use it as a warning to the concert organizers?

    “Nonetheless, they issued the p’sak understanding that while it might itself be disregarded, the organizers of this concert and ones in the future as well, will be careful – to the extent possible – to prevent the venues from degenerating into a spectacle.”

    So I guess eating strawberries etc is just a way to tell me to wash them more carefully? Based on your article, thats what it would seem.

    A ban is a ban. Usually, people follow these things all the way.

    Happens to be in the case of the concerts, people rebelled and decided to go anyway.

    So Rabbi H. is trying to explain that the Rabbonim knew all along that the ban would be ignored. Nope, I don’t buy it.

    jacob

    http://www.jacobdajew.blogspot.com

  46. dr. william gewirtz says:

    A story from a reliable source stolen from a footnote in essay in formation (and hence the context and details ommitted) that I have been commenting on:

    Rav Aharon Kotler zt’l once got up at a ….convention and said that one has to be makpid on …… When Rav Aharon finished speaking, one …in attendance got up and said that he accepts whatever Rav Aharon says as he is a gadol hador, and as a result he will have to ….. Rav Aharon responded that he never meant ….., rather he just meant that one should insist on these things if it is possible …..

    Supporting your thesis, this story would indicate thet RAK clearly understood that he was, on occasion, expressing an ideal not a Psak. This is hardly unique to our generation. Reading about the origins of charedi culture in the mid 19th century, particulalry about those who claimed the mantle of the Chatam Sofer, you will see similarities.

    The problem then and now is not with the gedolim but with those who manipulate the situation, with increasing frequency and a mantle of holiness, and create yet more divisiveness. I would like to believe your analogy to RAK and Lehebadail L’chaim RALS, but the reality is less clear.

    On a lighter note, I was not invited to play basketball with my Rebbe – he was too good.

  47. joel rich says:

    I empathize with your position but must point out that the Rambam in mamrim 2:5 is pretty clear that the promulgators must be sure that it will be accepted or they can’t promulgate :
    רמב”ם הלכות ממרים פרק ב הלכה ה
    בית דין שנראה להן לגזור גזירה או לתקן תקנה או להנהיג מנהג צריכין להתיישב בדבר ולידע תחלה אם רוב הצבור יכולין לעמוד בהן או אם אין יכולין לעמוד ולעולם אין גוזרין גזירה על הצבור אלא אם כן רוב הצבור יכולין לעמוד בה.

    I’ve often wondered what process was used, why it sometimes failed,what was the time period over which compliance was measured and what was the status of someone who did not keep it(was it a function of the eventual fate of the enactment? what if he died first…..)

    KT

  48. Moshe Schorr says:

    Thanks. I was also wondering why the hulabaloo about this concert. I don’t know if you’re right, but at least it makes it more understandable.

  49. Moshe says:

    Rabbi Landesman,

    Thank you for a very nice article.

    Unfortunately, I must disagree with much of the thrust. I too have many issues with the bans that come out in this country, but instead of simply sitting and stewing, I actually went around to many Rabbis (both Charedi and non-Charedi) to try to discuss the issues with them. I found the following:
    1) The bans were made on false premises (one of the ‘gedolim’ who led the ban on N. Slifkin told me that Slifkin writes in his book [the Science of Torah] that the mabul is an allegory – something that is simply incorrect). I don’t know who feeds the gedolim their information, but after being misled time and again, it behooves them to look into issues before signing bans.
    2) The Rabbonim I spoke to were of the opinion that the Charedi world has simply gone nuts. One Rabbi (who will remain anonymous, although his name is a well known and respected one throughout the world) told me that the Charedi world is an insane asylum (his words, not mine). What goes on in the Charedi world is no longer based on a systematic way of education and life; rather, it is a hodgepodge of bans and reactions to things that happen. Instead of working out a system of ‘Torahdik’ relaxation and fun (as in the US when R’ SF Mendelowitz started camps in order to give Yeshiva Boys an outlet), there are simply bans on different summer activities, such as concerts (pritzus), hiking and tiyulim (pikuach nefesh of dehydration), etc.. While the concerns are real, the solutions are not practical – banning (or suggesting not to go) hiking will not prevent Yeshiva students from hiking (except for the ‘chnyuks’) – the best way to deal with this is to organize hiking trips together in a safe manner, allowing young students to see that Rebbeim can also ‘have fun’, and be a role model for them in an ex-yeshiva environment. By banning activities and not giving any workaround, all that happens is that people get frustrated and bored – which are real issues that can lead to people getting turned off of Yiddishkeit.

    How should we respond to what goes on in Israel? I don’t know. I have the quandary myself – as I live in Israel and would like to be part of the ‘Haredi’ system, yet I find myself being pushed out the door at every step of the way. By blinding ourselves and trying to think that the way of life being advocated by the askonim who surround the gedolim is ideal (or even ideal for the situation we are in), we get nowhere.

  50. Defense of the Indefensible says:

    A, frankly bizarre, psak is handed around. No explaination or impetus is given for it. I guarantee this psak will be used as the basis for more lunatic isurim by smaller rebeium, since no reason is given it’s wide open to interpretation.

    At best it can ruin the parnasa of such performers. At worst (and most likely) this can result in the general community ignoring the Gadoleh Hador, and leading to community wide averah.

    On a side note, Israeli papers lap this stuff up. They have reporters who’s only job it is to catch the charedim in embarrassing moments and juice it. Stuff like this is worse than ineffective, it’s a chillul Hashem and gives chilonim one more reason to laugh at the datim.