The Coalition Plan For Charedim

The coalition government government’s plan for drafting charedim should give rise to some sighs of relief, and some guarded optimism. That is not likely to happen, because it is just not the way charedim in Israel react (at least publicly), and because there are definite grounds for concern.

It could have been much worse. Hence, the sigh of relief. Non-charedi Israels were determined to address the financial burden they believe is placed upon them by a huge community that is underemployed and expanding. Something was going to happen. As one major Torah figure said (privately, of course), “After decades of treating them like garbage, we should be surprised when they want to treat us the same way?” Many feared that the plan would be draconian and counterproductive. If it went too far, it would undo all the quiet progress that has already been made providing alternatives for those who do not find it within them to spend their time in productive, full-time learning and want to enter the work-force, or serve in Tzahal. While the public rhetoric in the community strenuously opposes both, literally thousands are voting with their feet. Programs to provide academic and vocational skills to charedi men and women are booming. The charedi contingent in the army has established itself, although the government’s performance in supporting it has been lackluster. It looked like economics was already forcing change, at a rate that was likely to accelerate. If the government would go too far, it would be taken as a gezeras shmad (which is in fact what one major Israeli Rosh Yeshiva called any plan to draft any number of students) and force all charedim to resist.

This did not happen. Like the plan or not, it does show some serious thought and consideration.

Nothing much happens for four years. Immediately, there are only dark clouds on the horizon for charedim – and many privately see it as the dawning of a brighter day. This minimizes the result of immediate (and even violent) pushback.

An exception, apparently, is that even immediately, anyone over the age of 22 is free to enter the workforce, even if he did not do any army service. We can anticipate that many will take advantage of this offer, and begin the slow process of having Israeli charedim accept what many, if not enough of us, do in the States: that there is room for both learners and earners.

The plan allows future 18 yr old potential inductees some choices. Today, roughly 7000 of those who turn 18 apply for exemptions, and are given them routinely. Starting four years from now, only 1800 top learners will be exempted – but given higher stipends than they are now given! They must stay in full-time learning until age 26, or incur penalties.

Everyone else will have three options. They can join the army for two years (the term of service is being cut down to that from the present three), at higher pay than is now offered. They can opt for serious national service for the same length of time, in the police, fire, or Zaka services – all for lesser pay. They can do none of the above, and continue to learn, but incur financial penalties. So will yeshivos that keep a large percentage of non-servers on their rolls. The Nachal Charedi program will be expanded over the next years in anticipation of the four year mark to make room for two more charedi battalions, including designated training facilities.

In other words, the images we were envisioning of massive arrests won’t happen. Shirking the government demand for sharing the burden of service will not be criminalized. There will be positive inducements to serve, and negative monetary ones for failing to serve. Rather than treat learning with complete contempt (as many here must be true of a secular government), the government will show its regard for traditional Torah learning by rewarding the top 25% of learners, and support them at State expense. This was not the reaction of the Tommy Lapids and his ilk. For whatever reason, the younger Lapid has displayed more diplomacy – and more wisdom.

It could have been much worse. The community will rail against these changes. (One headline read, “Lavan bikeish laakor es hakol! Lavan = Lapid, Bennet, Netanyahu.) Having gotten used to a certain life style for almost seven decades, this should be expected. It will have four years to either undo the “gezerah” if and when the present coalition falls apart, or learn to live with it. That could mean finally conceding (as so many do privately) that many are not cut out for full-time learning. This would bring relief to much of the grinding poverty in the community, and alleviate some of the walking out of frum life by kids going off the derech because they are boxed in by one-size fits all chinuch. Alternatively, the community could decide to swallow the bitter pill and still encourage universal learning, but have to take on the increased costs of paying the fines, probably by more fund-raising trips to America. (Jimmy the Greek’s odds on the latter successfully occurring in today’s economy are not so favorable. Perhaps HKBH Himself will weigh on by turning the economy around, and allowing that possibility!)

The school issue is more ticklish from the standpoint of the extremely anti-secular community in Israel. The government is demanding two and a half hours a day of core curriculum instruction. Schools which do not provide it will now be denied funds. Again, this becomes a funding crisis rather than grounds for a holy war against the nouveau-Czarist agents set to padlock the doors of the chadorim.

Again, it could have been handled more stupidly.

Many in the States (depending on where they daven) will be hard-pressed to find these measures as objectionable as people in Israel. Many undoubtedly will join the mourning, but others will daven that these measures will be successful in solving the growing problem of poverty and the burden that the charedi community is perceived to place on unwilling Israelis. Many will look expectantly to the building of a society in which the Torah community is seen as having the best and most attractive approach to living a meaningful life, attentive to all normal human needs.

Even the most optimistic should see that significant dangers lurk ahead. Those who think the new program completely understandable should still admit the possibility that future measures might be imposed that push ever more forcefully to make Torah authority and the Torah lifestyle take a back seat relative to the demands of the State. While we should not be overly rejectionist, we cannot afford to be naïve either.

Another danger is more insidious. The choosing of the 1800 yearly exemptions may go the same way as the reaction to the hated Cantonist draft of the Czars. Some rabbonim at the time excelled in their fairness in guarding the vulnerable, like the orphan children who were targets for the khappers (kidnappers paid off by the wealthy to secure replacements for their own children to escape the draft.) Others were not effective. If Roshei Yeshiva protect their own children and sons-in-law from service, or if there is significant infighting and no objective standard in choosing the 1800 elite on the basis of merit, it will bring down the charedi world faster than any universal draft could.

We all need much siyata deShamaya in charting our reactions in the next weeks and the course in the upcoming four years.

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100 comments to The Coalition Plan For Charedim

  • Ben Waxman

    Yes, the Charedi Yeshiva world needs to have its slackers shaken off. Everyone recognizes that. Not just privately, Rabbi Adlerstein. Publicly. Try a google search for

    משה גפני אני בעד גיוס

    WADR to MK Gafni, he speaks out of both sides of his mouth, or rather out of multiple sides of his mouth. When he spoke in Herziliya a few months ago he came out in favor of drafting non-learners. Then when elections were declared he went on Radio Kol B’Rama and denied that he ever said any such thing (despite the video being on Youtube). He has taken the middle position, stating that he has nothing to do with non-learners, this way or that (ya’ani he is only in the Knesset to fight for the rights of people learning). But in any case you don’t see Gafni in the Knesset, fighting for the Nachal Chareidi or Shachar. You don’t see him standing next to Rav Blou.

    More importantly, Gafni is not the sum total of the Chareidi world. Rav Aurbach totally disagrees with this position as do many admorim.

  • Ben Waxman

    As far as the Mir. Perhaps they should not have become addicted to government funding. A little forsight goes a long way

    The first person to state this idea (and much more powerfully and clearly) was the Satmar Rebbe.

  • Nachum

    Binyomin Eckstein: Gush Katif did not fail because it was dependent on government money. It failed because it was forcibly evacuated.

    It’s also kind of odd to say that UTJ voters don’t support settlements when two of the four Jewish cities in the West Bank are 100% charedi and there are numerous other charedi settlements and neighborhoods.

    As to Volozhin, we now know, thanks to the opening of Russian records, that secular studies had little to nothing to do with why it was shut down. The real reasons are a lot uglier. (Also, rarely mentioned is the fact that it reopened shortly after and existed until World War II. There’s even a yeshiva by that name in Israel to this day.)

  • Dr. E

    The sense that I get is that the Chareidi community considers this “gezeira” to be one subject to a Purim-type of hatzala and that things can go back to the old days in one fell swoop.

    I would assume that the next rocket attack or other tragedy (chas v’Shalom) will be exploited as being an obvious and direct Divine “reaction to this new plan and the postions of the new government to uproot Torah and close the Yeshivos…….”. We’ve certainly seen that script before.

    This whole situation exposes the fact that there has not been “leadership” in the Chareidi community for some time. Yes, there have been great Torah personalities, Talmidei Chachamim, and Poskim. But, no leadership that is strategic or big-picture in any way. (I saw a recent Artscroll biography with the tag-line of “a Lifetime of Halachic Leadership”, which unintendedly speaks to this point) Everything has been short-term, focused on a specific need in an insular context. So, the chickens have come home to roost.

    As it relates to the Mir, this is an example of a Yeshiva with a significant number of bochurim from Chutz L’Aretz, who are not at all subject to the draft or national service. On a smaller scale, there are many Anglo and other Yeshivos in Israel, whose Chutz L’Aretz bochurim and Yungeleit are seen on the streets shopping, eating, and beneficiaries of the country’s infrastructure, military, and security. I presume that the members of the new government and voters have also been noticing these consuumers.

  • Chardal

    The exact quote is:

    “You can’t wake up in the morning and decide you’re an expert on answers. If people see that one answer is good, and another answer is good, gradually you will be accepted.”

    I agree that it is open to interpretation. However, it is still describing a bottom to top approach rather than the typical fair you get which is usually the top to bottom approach that “the gedolim of one generation pick the gedolim of the next.” And, min hastam, the Morei Horaa that came to Rav Moshe were chosen by baalbatim who found their answers to resonate, etc, etc

  • Binyomin Eckstein

    > The Mir is a private institution of learning that has setup its budget in such a way that it can not survive without government funding. The people who should give a din veCheshbon for this situation are the askanim who handled the books for the Mir. To rely on a state whose citizens see little to no benefit from funding such an institution is neither wise nor farsighted.

    You see, it is this sort of attitude that testifies as a hundred witnesses that the hearts of the Leumiyim do not beat in sync with the Olam Hatorah and that they are not part of it in any way. The Mirrer Yeshiva is a hoary, glorious citadel of Torah which Hashem miraculously plucked out of the ashes of the Holocaust, which provided Torah Jewry with the ability to continue on afterwards, which produced and continues to produce some of the greatest scholars and leaders of the generation, which had a ripple effect on the entire Torah world, for which a giant of a man, R’ NT Finkel, literally sacrificed every ounce of strength and his very life, to which a donor who actually cared donated $5 million dollars in one check to bail out, and so on and so forth, and all you have to say is – TOUGH LUCK.

    If we do not share at least the need to shed copious tears over the demise of the Mirrer Yeshiva, we share nothing. Nothing at all.

  • Yaakov Menken

    Natan, you previously drove yourself into the ground on this one because you couldn’t explain why Klal Yisroel had to follow Mordechai HaYehudi and not the Gedolim of today. There was no Sanhedrin in his time, either. I’m glad you think I’m misreading R’ Moshe, but according to you he was answering a question that he wasn’t asked.

    The first prerequisite for being listed as a Gadol baTorah is also learned from not only the Sanhedrin, but Moshe v’Yehoshua. Who elected new members of the Sanhedrin? The Amei Ha’aretz? Obviously not.

    Take anyone claiming to be a Gadol, and ask who, in the previous generation, said he should be listened to. Then ask who among their peers says he is the greatest among them. R’ Moshe, in all his great humility, did not mean that he became a Gadol because his Russian-speaking neighbor liked his translations.

    How do you think the Chazon Ish, the Steipler, R’ Moshe, Rav Elyashiv… came to be known and respected? Even when they disagreed strongly, like R’ Moshe and R’ Aharon as compared to the Satmar Rav, each knew the other was standing on solid ground.

  • Natan Slifkin

    Yaakov, I am not sure what you are talking about. Are you claiming that Megillas Esther proves that all Klal Yisroel had to listen to, say, the Chazon Ish or Rav Elyashiv? That’s an astonishing chiddush, that I don’t think anyone has ever said. Rav Moshe clearly disagreed. And obviously a lot of Gedolim in our era – such as Rav Ovadiah, all the Chassidishe rabbonim, and even plenty of Litvishe Gedolim – disagreed. Otherwise, why didn’t they all follow Rav Elyashiv regarding who to vote for (in both national and municipal elections), and who should lead Ponovezh?
    The Rishonim are very clear. Lo Sasur applies to the Sanhedrin. Not to any group of Rabbonim in another era. (With the exception of the minor daas yachid of the Chinnuch, as discussed.)
    And Rav Moshe is very explicit – and indeed, is stating the obvious. There is no formal body of rabbinic authority beyond the Sanhedrin. Any talmid chacham is perfectly entitled to pasken as he sees fit. He is not obligated to follow others. All history of halachah demonstrates this.
    It’s ironic that you mention the Satmar Rav. He certainly didn’t believe that one is obligated to follow the majority of Gedolim!
    And if your definition of Gadol is that he has to be approved by the previous generation, then Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, to pick but one example, certainly qualifies.
    Again, I ask you this: Are you seriously claiming that every Jew in Israel is halachically obligated to vote UTJ? You are making the most staggering innovations in rabbinic authority that are clearly disputed by most of the Torah world!

  • Dovid Teitelbaum

    Rabbi Menken,
    With all do respect you seem to have left out so many other great Torah giants from the past generation. Many of those others were much closer in ideology to the other gedolim than the Satmar Rav. Was this intentional?

  • lacosta

    excerpt–The people who should give a din veCheshbon for this situation are the askanim who handled the books for the Mir. To rely on a state whose citizens see little to no benefit from funding such an institution is neither wise nor farsighted.

    response—You see, it is this sort of attitude that testifies as a hundred witnesses that the hearts of the Leumiyim do not beat in sync with the Olam Hatorah and that they are not part of it in any way

    … can someone explain to me where the haredi attitude developed that they should live on yenner’s cheshbon, that their mosdos should have no fiscal accountability, that they should attack the government and its hiloni constituents all the while demanding more of their anti-religious lucre? people didnt live like this in the alte heim; if there was no kemach there was no tora–but they would never dare abscond with someone else’s kemach via tekias kaf….

  • Ben Waxman

    You see, it is this sort of attitude that testifies as a hundred witnesses that the hearts of the Leumiyim do not beat in sync with the Olam Hatorah . . .

    Without getting into the point regarding the Mir Yeshiva’s fate, the arrogance exhibited in the above sentence speaks for itself (I am referring to the word Olam Hatorah). IMO a little humility, a little anava from everyone would go a long way.

  • Yaakov Menken

    Dovid Teitelbaum, I was illustrating the range of perspectives of Gedolim. The point is that you can have Gedolim who disagree on major issues, and if you follow one school or the other, you are following Da’as Torah. [Needless to say, the Satmar Rav's followers don't vote for UTJ, since they don't vote at all.] That is a very far cry from saying that R’ Moshe “clearly disagreed” with the Mesorah he handed us, based upon a lack of (a) reading comprehension and (b) conversation with any of his next generation, such as his sons.

    The Chinuch is a “Daas Yachid” [minority of one] if one hasn’t read the Mishnah Rosh HaShanah 25a and Braysah loc cit., Pirkei Avos (“Aseh Lecha Rav”), the Rambam’s Igeres Teiman, the Gr”a, etc. They do not all quote the verse, but they all say the same thing as the Chinuch with the same rationale. See Rav Aharon Roter’s Sha’arei Aharon “al bayot hasha’ah”, the first Ma’amar, and you will see that “it doesn’t apply today” is itself hardly a new thing. On p. 21 under the heading “B’chol Dor VaDor” [in every generation], one finds this passage, which was almost certainly originally written during R’ Moshe’s lifetime:

    And there are those of them who say: “While in the past generation we had world-class giants that the Divine Spirit rested upon, this is not true with the Sages of our generation, there is a chasm between them, and therefore it is permissible for us to question whether we are obligated to listen to their voice.” Know that one who says this testifies upon himself that he has not read, and has not learned, and has not served the scholars.

    He brings the Mishnah Rosh Hashanah 25a [which required listening to Rabban Gamliel's Beis Din, post-Sanhedrin] and Braysah there [which brings proof from Deut. 17:9] as his examples.

    Bedikas Chometz is approaching. That will have to suffice.

  • Daniel

    These are all just funding withholding, but let this be a lesson for the Americans here.

    In a socialist state, withdrawing funding is just as bad as criminal penalties, since everything you have is from the government. When all your necessities are paid for by the state and you are taxed* to pay for them, if you are cut out of the group receiving those benefits then your necessities are cut off while your earnings are still being taken.

    *Yes, I get that we are talking about people who are not working so are not being taxed. However, others in their community are working and are being taxed and many of them do want to support this system. And regardless, the main point of my comment is that financial penalties are basically an end all when all the services you need are provided by the government.

  • L. Oberstein

    Returning to this discussion, I see that many have commented on the Mir. If I were rich, the Mir would be very high on my list to give large sums to. Rav Nosson Tzvi was clearly one of the greatest men of his generation and I envy someone who could give five million dollars to help bail out the Mir ,which got into debt because of how many talmidim Rav Nosson Tzvi took in.
    When I went to Kerem B’Yavne in 1965, the Jewish Agency paid for my transportation on the SS Shalom and I never was asked to pay one cent in tuition. Nowadays, my daughter’s Seminary takes the money up front with no refunds.Every yeshiva that caters to Americans takes tuition. These students not only spend a lot of money ,their parents all come to visit and spend more money. Many people make aliyah because they spent time learning in Israel. Israelis never paid tuition in any yeshiva and there is no separation of religion and state and these schools are as entitled to funding as any other school. Many Americans make aliyah because the tuition is onerous in the USA and hardly a factor in Israel.
    Israeli Charedim are at a Crossroads and they need to stop being hysterical and deal realistically with the government. The so called leaders-that is the Askanim- are doing a lousy job and they need competition. If there were primaries in Degel Hatorah and Agudah, then I doubt these people would win.

  • Tal Benschar

    The first person to state this idea (and much more powerfully and clearly) was the Satmar.

    Oolai Ha Rav Mi Satmar Tsadak — Prof. Robert Auman.

  • Dovid Teitelbaum

    I’m sorry but I’m still getting this “Only my gadol is the leader” response. I was brought up to have respect for all great torah leaders. I went to the Rebba for a dollar, I saw Reb Moshe for siyum Mishnayis and In Israel I would visit punivitcht to see Rav Shach. Those are just a few of the greats I would visit. I was never taught that one of them is greater than the rest, but that each has his strengths to admire. We followed Rav Moshe on many pesakim but not all.
    I’m sure all the above had much to say on every topic but my father like everyone else I knew decided for themselves whom to follow. Maybe for Israeli Chareidim this is different but I can’t believe that every great rabbi in Israel agrees on every issue. So back to the basic question, why do some people feel that their Rabbi is the leader of all Jews or even a group of Jews?

  • joel rich

    r’ym,
    and perhaps as bedikat chametz approaches (ok actually just done :-)) we might reflect on what I’m sure many baalei mussar have said (I heard it from The Big D in MTA iirc) that if we spent 10% of the time we spend on getting rid of the physical chametz, on getting rid of the spiritual chametz in our hearts, moshiach would have come a long time ago (or to quote Jackie DeShannon – Put A Little Love in Your Heart )
    KT

  • Natan Slifkin

    Yaakov, nobody is disputing that there is a notion of rabbinic authority in Judaism. Nobody is disputing that a person must not go against the ruling of their Rav. And nobody is disputing that there is such a thing as a Beis Din with jurisdiction over a community.

    This dispute started when someone claimed that it is forbidden for anyone at all to disagree with (certain) Charedi Gedolim. And it continued when you implied that there is a d’Oraisa halachic obligation in this regard, when you further implied that everyone is halachically obligated to follow “the Gadol HaDor,” and when you subtly implied that Rav Aharon Lichtenstein is not considered to be a Rav who may be followed against Charedi Gedolim.

    Aseh Lecha Rav and the other sources that you raise have no bearing on any of this. Nor do your sources demonstrate, or even attempt to demonstrate, that there are certain rabbonim that other rabbonim are beholden to follow. There are different halachic communities in Judaism today. Sefardim are not beholden to follow Ashkenazim, Chassidim are not beholden to follow Litvaks – and non-Charedim are not beholden to follow Charedim. Nor, in fact, is anyone beholden to any rabbinic authority other than their own.

  • Chardal

    >You see, it is this sort of attitude that testifies as a hundred witnesses that the hearts of the Leumiyim do not beat in sync with the Olam Hatorah and that they are not part of it in any way.

    You are right in one way. For the RZ there is no olam hatorah that (a new fangled Chareidi term) that is separate from Klal Yisrael. The Torah needs to be connected to our national life, not a sectarian fettish.

    >If we do not share at least the need to shed copious tears over the demise of the Mirrer Yeshiva, we share nothing. Nothing at all.

    Indeed I do not share any tears over an institution which, when one of my best friends, upon the recomdation of his rav, came there to learn, told him he his not fit to be there on account of his blue shirt. And indeed we share nothing, but the group that has separated itself from the Klal, which does not mourn with it nor share in its happiness in victory. Nor participates in its national life. Is the chareidim. The Israeli chareidim have become a sect of cynicism. They have excluded everyone for decades and now cry foul, when page people whom they excluded,surprise, do not feel much compassion towards them. There is a price for the sociological decisions your leaders have made, and you are now paying that price.

  • Shades of Gray

    “Sefardim are not beholden to follow Ashkenazim, Chassidim are not beholden to follow Litvaks – and non-Charedim are not beholden to follow Charedim.”

    Some online sources:

    R. Daniel Eidensohn today writes on his blog(“Lo Sasur: Rabbinic authority today?”):

    “There is a very intelligent summary of the different position in HaTakanos b’Yisroel Prof Yisroel Stefansky published by Mosad Rav Kook…He states that there are 4 major positions regarding lo sassur as a doreissa prohibition…Lo sassur as rabbinic or asmachta…”

    In a shiur(“Daat Torah”, 17 Shvat 5763) available on bmtl.org , R Hershel Shechter says:

    “I don’t think there is only one Gadol Hador…everybody agrees it’s one person? Lubavticher Chasidim say it’s only the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and Satmar Chasidm say it’s only the Satmar Rebbe…
    [R. Elyashiv] hasn’t been yet elected as the one and only Gadol Hador…”

    From “Pillar” on Torah Web, by R. Willig:

    “Harav Hershel Schachter suggests [Nefesh Harav p. 61,62] that Beis Din Hagadol’s authority stems from the gedolim of the generation who serve on it. They are considered the rav muvhak, the primary rebbe, of all of Am Yisrael in their generation, and their rulings must be followed (see Tosfos Berachos 31b). However, if an individual has a rav muvhak, a personal rav, or a rav of his community, he is required to follow that rav’s rulings, even his minority views…

    The requirement to follow the greatest halachic authority in the absence of a rav muvhak is challenging for many individuals who are unable to determine which rav or beis din is greater. Presumably the common practice of scrupulous observant Torah Jews should be followed. The definition of a qualified posek is equally problematic. If in doubt, common practice of scrupulous observant Torah Jews should be followed. If more than one practice is common and traditional, one may rely on his rabbi to choose between them.

    Innovative and non-traditional practices require a ruling of an eminently and undoubtedly qualified posek. One who honestly believes that his direct or indirect posek is so qualified may follow his rulings. Otherwise, the more common and traditional practices should be followed.”

  • Natan Slifkin

    Yaakov, furthermore, the Mishnah in Rosh HaShanah that you cite proves my point. Rabban Gamliel was not the greatest Torah scholar – in fact, Rabbi Yehoshua was the greater scholar. The reason why Rabbi Yehoshua had to defer to Rabban Gamliel was precisely because Rabban Gamliel was the nasi, the head of the Sanhedrin (and not post-Sanhedrin, as you state).

  • Yehoshua Friedman

    Ori Pomeranz: Thanks for the careful reading. #1 was my intention and it was clutzy on my part. My apologies. But your saving of my inaccuracy was elegant. I have had teachers like that, who could turn a clutzy comment of a student into a just-missed near brilliancy.

  • Yaakov Menken

    Dovid, I am at a loss to explain why, but you seem to have read into my words something very much at odds with what I actually wrote, even after I clarified. I can only repeat: “I was illustrating the range of perspectives of Gedolim. The point is that you can have Gedolim who disagree on major issues, and if you follow one school or the other, you are following Da’as Torah.” Did you imagine that I was claiming there were only two? That would require that there was never any disagreement between R’ Moshe and R’ Aaron! Nothing that you describe as your father’s decision-making differs from what I said.

    Natan, you seem to be trying to have it both ways. “Any talmid chacham is perfectly entitled to pasken as he sees fit,” and yet “nobody is disputing that there is a notion of rabbinic authority in Judaism.” Rabban Gamliel was after Churban HaBayis. He was removed from his position and reinstated, and the Rabbis of his day couldn’t mete out the death penalty as they did in the Lishkas HaGazis. [I have spoken with someone who agrees with you that he was called the Nasi of the Sanhedrin, and someone who agrees with my understanding that he was the Nasi of the Rabbonon, but it was no longer called the Sanhedrin. But both agreed that this made no difference.] If you want to read the posuk literally, it says you shall go “to the Cohanim, the Levi’im, and the Judge that shall be in that day,” which of course means the Mikdash, not Yavneh.

    Why did we have to listen to Rabban Gamliel? So that there shouldn’t be two Torahs. This was recorded in the Mishnah precisely because the simple logic of the Torah continues to apply (read the perushim there). All of the reasoning, the rationale behind it, does not depend upon what formal structure there is. Your statement that the Chinuch is a “Da’as Yachid” is contradicted by all the other sources that state the same fundamental obligation, regardless of whether they quote the same verse.

    How is it that Beis Shammai acted according to their understanding of Halacha until the Bas Kol said the Halacha follows Bais Hillel? Because multiple schools of thought are not necessarily splitting into two Torahs. There was a Sanhedrin, and yet the two schools followed their own opinions until the Bas Kol. How does that fit with your understanding that the Sanhedrin had singular authority? The answer is that each school would tell you the other also represents Da’as Torah.

    Without a Bas Kol, at what point does a person have authority to poskin against the consensus of other Gedolei Torah? Well that depends upon your definition of “against.” Centuries later, the Rem”a decided not to write his own Sefer Halachah, merely writing glosses to R’ Yosef Karo’s “Set Table” which he entitled “the Tablecloth.” Even though the Rem”a primary aim was to write where Ashkenazic practice differs with the Shulchan Aruch, that’s not called “two Torahs.” Why? Because each would tell you the other also represents Da’as Torah.

    If you asked R’ Moshe could one follow the Satmar Rav, or vice-versa, both would say the other is also Da’as Torah. If you asked Rav Shach or Rav Elyashiv zt”l the same regarding yblctv”a Rav Ovadiah Yosef shlit”a, or vice-versa, they would say the same. The Torah isn’t splitting into pieces when the ‘disagreement’ is among people who all say the other opinion also comes from Da’as Torah, just like Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel.

    It’s silly for *us* to attempt to crown someone a Gadol. We have no idea how to evaluate those who truly are. Ask the previous generation and the others of the current one, and they will somehow know to distinguish between a true Da’as Yachid and “he is also Da’as Torah.” I know only that we don’t know nearly enough to make our own valid judgement of which is which.

  • Natan Slifkin

    Yaakov, now I don’t know what you’re getting at at all. You seem to be backing down from a lot of your earlier claims.
    When I said that “Any talmid chacham is perfectly entitled to pasken as he sees fit,” and yet “nobody is disputing that there is a notion of rabbinic authority in Judaism,” that was not “trying to have it both ways” – it was expressing a single approach. Rabbinic authority includes several aspects – such as that of the obligation to follow one’s own authority. It also means that where there is a framework such as a Sanhedrin, other rabbanim are subjected to the Sanhedrin’s authority. See Maharsha to the Gemara you mention, where he states that even though Rav Yehoshua was greater than Rabban Gamliel, he had to subject himself to his ruling due to the institutional authority of Rabban Gamliel’s Beis Din. But beyond such formal institutions, a competent talmid chacham is not obligated to follow any other rabbonim – regardless of whether or not they consider him to express Daas Torah, which might reflect more on them than it does on him.
    Again, the discussion began when someone claimed that it is forbidden for anyone to disagree with the Charedi Gedolim’s position regarding IDF duty. Do you agree with that point of view or not?
    Then when the person claimed Rav Moshe Feinstein as support, I pointed out that he had a different view of rabbinic authority – that one is entitled to learn and even pasken against Gedolim, Acharonim and even Rishonim. Do you agree with that or not?
    Then you strongly implied that it is obligatory to follow the single “Gadol HaDor,” but later you seemed to back down from that.
    Now at one point you claim that a bas kol is a prerequisite for dispute. But a bas kol was not a prerequisite for there being a dispute between Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel; it was a way to resolve the dispute!
    Later you seem to be saying that the requirement is that each side considers the other to be “Daas Torah.” I have no idea where you get that from as a prerequisite. So if Religious Zionist rabbanim respect charedi rabbanim as expressing “Daas Torah,” but charedi rabbanim do not respect Religious Zionist rabbanim as expressing “Daas Torah”, then it would be forbidden for any Jew to follow Religious Zionist rabbanim? Of course, in such a case, a charedi Jew should not follow them – but you seemed to be claiming that no Jew at all, even in their own communities, would be entitled to follow them!

  • Yaakov Menken

    Natan, if you think I “backed down,” it is only because you didn’t read carefully my earlier statements. I’m not getting into a specific issue (or person, or Rabbi) or who agrees or disagrees with a particular position about it. You have repeatedly attempted that, and I have repeatedly refused. Rabbonim of today should be considered as Gedolim for the same reasons that Hillel and Shammai, R’ Yosef Karo and the Rem”a, the Ben Ish Chai and the Chofetz Chaim, were acknowledged in theirs despite their contrary opinions. There’s no reason to change the qualifications today.

    What I did say clearly is that you had completely misunderstood the question that R’ Moshe answered, and it is categorically untrue that he said someone can posken against the consensus of Gedolei Torah. He was answering a question as to whether it was disrespectful to the Chazon Ish to have argued against his positions in learning, which were not relevant to Halachah L’Ma’aseh. Anyone who questions this is free to open the relevant Teshuvah, Yoreh De’ah 3:88, which refers to the questioner’s Divrei Torah, rather than Piskei Halacha. R’ Moshe speaks of how beautiful it is when the Chazon Ish is quoted in learning, even when reaching a different conclusion.

    Your statement that “a competent talmid chacham is not obligated to follow any other rabbonim” is without support; it is at odds with your earlier claim that “no one is disputing that there is a notion of rabbinic authority.” Rabbinic authority doesn’t end because someone claims to be a “competent” talmid chacham; I’m sure you can find many people claiming to be competent talmidei chachamim at JTS.

    >Then you strongly implied that it is obligatory to follow the single “Gadol HaDor,” but later you seemed to back down from that.

    Not only did I never say such a thing, I never said anything which could be interpreted in that fashion. To the contrary, I have always spoken about the range of Gedolim and their opinions. About the best I can say is that considering what you did with R’ Moshe’s Teshuvah, I’m in awfully good company.

    I’ll let you prove I “strongly implied” anything of the sort before I comment further. Otherwise, no reader should assume my silence is acquiescence, it’s simply not worth the keystrokes.

  • dr. bill

    Rabbis Slifkin and Menken, when quoting the famous dispute between R. Gamliel and R. Yehoshua it is critical to distinguish between horaah, takanah, and various types of maasei beis din including kiddush hachodesh. each is governed by very different halakhot/rules, particularly where someone who is roui le’horaah feels that the beis din has absolutely erred. the views of rishonim vary dramatically; according to most/all rishonim two or three of those categories are relevant. it suffices to say that the widest latitude for machloket among rabbis exists wrt horaah. (it should be noted how few examples of horaah by the beis din hagadol are found in the talmud.) for obvious reasons maasei beis din is least able to tolerate machloket. Takanot can even be overridden, in specific situations, even by the public. a discussion is well beyond what can be addressed in this format.

  • Eliyahu

    another source for R’ Moshe’s attitude to paskening against the consensus of gedolim is in Yore Deah Chelek beis, siman dalet.

  • Natan Slifkin

    Yaakov, I thought that when you referred to an obligation to follow Mordechai that you were speaking of an obligation to follow the single Gadol HaDor. I also understood as such from your insistence that Rav Moshe could not be saying that one may dispute the piskei halachah of the Chazon Ish. If you maintain that you never said that one may not dispute the Gadol Hador, then why is it impossible for Rav Moshe to be saying that one may dispute the Chazon Ish?
    With regard to the teshuvah of Rav Moshe, indeed I invite everyone to look at at. He makes no differentiation between disagreeing in learning and in halachah, and his reasoning is applicable to both.
    You claim that my “statement that ‘a competent talmid chacham is not obligated to follow any other rabbonim’ is without support.” It does not need support; first of all, it is what we see throughout the history of halachah, when poskim dispute other poskim, even a consensus, without applying for a nebulous “Gadol license” in order to do so. Second, hamotzi mechavero alav harayah. You are claiming that a competent talmid chacham is obligated to follow “the Gedolim.” The only source that you have for that is the Chinnuch (and even that is qualified by the Minchas Chinnuch), which is a minor daas yachid. In fact, according to the Chinnuch, if JTS produced twenty rabbis of the caliber of Saul Leiberman, and Orthodoxy failed to produce rabbis of similar caliber, we may well be obligated to follow the JTS rabbis!
    You point out that, if what I say is true, then it would mean that we cannot disqualify a JTS rabbi. Indeed, that is unfortunately true. We can argue with specific piskei halachah, but all we can say about the general notion of such a posek is that he is outside of our own halachic community. Which is indeed how many Charedim feel about Modern Orthodox poskim and Religious Zionist poskim – and perhaps sometimes vice-versa. But there is no objective framework for defining why one’s own halachic community is correct. (Michael Berger, in a book appropriately entitled “Rabbinic Authority”, makes a similar point in great detail.)

  • Yaakov Menken

    I take this as an object lesson in why it’s not worth getting involved in the comments. Start commenting on the comments, and you never have time to write another post. But how could I let pass an obvious distortion, using R’ Moshe to justify ignoring the consensus of Gedolei Torah? So here we are.

    Natan, I seriously don’t know where you get this from. I pointed out that “you couldn’t explain why Klal Yisroel had to follow Mordechai HaYehudi and not the Gedolim of today.” Do you honestly claim to need a reminder that Gedolim is a plural noun?

    Similarly, where did you conclude that I said it is “impossible” for R’ Moshe to have said one may dispute the Chazon Ish? R’ Moshe wasn’t talking about the Chazon Ish’s piskei halacha in that Teshuvah, and you misread it. That’s all I said.

    I’m sure R’ Moshe himself disagreed with the Chazon Ish in psak, just as the Chazon Ish argued on the Chofetz Chaim. But that doesn’t mean that anybody with Rabbi in front of his name is qualified to argue, and your statement that the Chinuch is a “minor Da’as Yachid” does not become true simply because you repeat it. You have presented no source to back up this proposition, and your misreading of R’ Moshe doesn’t bode well for your ability to do so. There’s been an objective framework for knowing the Gedolim, the Ba’alei HaMesorah, in use for millenia; apparently you don’t like how it works, but that doesn’t justify claiming it doesn’t exist.

    It’s interesting how you lump together Torah giants with nothing in common but Torah, from HaRav Ben Zion Abba Shaul, to Rav Shach, to the Lev Simcha of Ger, to Rav Mordechai Gifter, as “charedim.” Michael Berger graduated a year before me. He’s a sincere guy and a genius, but he can’t validate an erroneous understanding of how our Mesorah works (I have not read his book, so I have no idea whether he tries). JTS can’t produce one Saul Lieberman, which is very much the point.

    Eliyahu, I am indebted to you for your greater familiarity with Igros Moshe. I’ll translate the first part of the Teshuva you cited, because it so neatly puts this nonsense about R’ Moshe’s opinion on Da’as Torah to rest.

    With regards to a Shochet [kosher slaughterer] who prays at the lectern on Sabbath, Holidays and Yom Kippur with a microphone, which is in public, but with the claim that the past and current rabbis in that synagogue permitted this:

    Certainly, his claim that he was “shogeg” [sinning through error] is worthless. The Agudas HaRabbonim, who are the Gedolei Torah, and who are also in the majority, publicized that it is forbidden to speak with a microphone. How is it possible to err and listen to some lenient rabbi, even if [that rabbi] has a reason? His words are nullified against the opinion of the Gedolim and majority. Therefore [this shochet] has the status of a “mechallel b’mayzid” [deliberate violator of the Sabbath].

    Come to think of it, this is probably the original commenter’s recollection that Reb Moshe says that one who doesn’t listen to Gedolei Torah “is like someone who denies Torah Sh’baal Peh,” because a public Sabbath violator is considered to deny the Torah. This quote makes it more pragmatic. But there it is in black and white: one who listens to a “competent talmid chacham” (“even if he has a reason”) against the consensus of Gedolei Torah is violating the Sabbath.

  • DG

    Here is the teshuva of R’ Moshe.

    אם מותר לחלוק על דברי רבותינו ברבים, אפילו במקומם בע”ה י”א ניסן תשל”ז לגדול אחד.
    בדבר שיש לך איזה חשש לקבוע מקומך בבני ברק מצד שבתוך דברי תורה איכא פעמים שאתה אומר שלא כדברי החזון איש זצ”ל, לא מובן שום חשש בזה ואדרבה זהו כבודו אשר מזכירים שיטתו בד”ת ומעיינים בדבריו אף שהמסקנא דחכם המעיין הוא שלא כדבריו, ולא עלה כלל על דעת החזון איש זצ”ל שלא ימצאו ת”ח שיפלגו עליו ולא שייך שיקפיד ע”ז דאדרבה האמת והשלום אהבו כדאיתא ביבמות י”ד ע”ב על פלוגתא דב”ש וב”ה, וענין שפתותיו דובבות הוא אף כשמזכירין דברי החכם וחולקין עליו, אבל ודאי צריך להזכיר בדרך ארץ, ור’ יהושע (חגיגה כ”ח ע”ב) שהושחרו שיניו מפני תעניותיו לא היה משום שהקשה על דברי ב”ש אלא מפני שאמר בבטול בושני מדבריכם ב”ש אבל בלשון דרך ארץ ודאי שליכא שום קפידא לא על מה שמקשין על דברי החכם ואף לא על מי שחולקין עליו, ואדרבה מפורש בב”ב סוף דף ק”ל שאמר רבא לתלמידיו ר”פ ור”ה בדר”י דאם יהיו להם קושיות על פסקא שלו אסור להו לדון כדבריו דאין לדיין אלא מה שעיניו רואות וה”ה באיסורים, ורק אמר שלא יקרעו פסקא שלו לבטל דבריו דאי הואי בחיים דלמא אמינא לכו טעמא ופי’ רשב”ם ושמא גם אתם תמצאו תירוץ לקושיתכם, אבל כל זמן שלא מוצאין תירוץ אסור להם להורות כרבא אף שהיה רבם, וא”כ כ”ש וכ”ש שאין לחוש מלהקשות ומלחלוק על גדולי דורותינו אף הגדולים ביותר אבל באופן דרך ארץ, שלכן ליכא שום חשש ושום קפידא להשאר בבני ברק ולומר שיעורים ואדרבה יהיה מליץ יושר בעדך על שאתה מעיין בספריו. והנני מוקירך, משה פיינשטיין.
    Three observations:
    He’s writing to “a certain gadol”;
    He clearly says it is not only permitted but required for a student to rule halachically against his Rebbe if he cannot avoid such a conclusion –
    BUT he is talking about a case when the rebbe is no longer alive. This teshuva is thus not talking about disagreeing with a living gadol at all. If he is alive, the question of his personal authority still applies. After his death, he has no personal authority – the question is only about whether his rulings are authoritative over the opinions of the living poskim and Rav Moshe says no (with the one exception – see the teshuva).
    Thus, who is a gadol with authority and who is bound by that authority remains an open question.

  • Yaakov Menken

    R’ Dovid, while you are right that he brings the example of R’ Yehoshua even in Divrei Halacha, that is not what he says in writing to the Gadol — on the contrary, he refers twice to disagreeing in his Divrei Torah. So it seems to be about “speaking in learning” (in writing) rather than Psak Halacha.

    Put it this way: R’ Moshe says that it is in no way disrespectful to the Chazon Ish to disagree with him “in learning.” But whether or not this can be used in Halacha L’Ma’aseh is not answered in this Teshuvah. R’ Yehoshua said that his Talmidim should poskin in accordance with their own understanding — not anyone, his Talmidim, people appropriate to be giving Psak — and they were not poskening “lifnei Rabo” after his p’tirah.

    Given that he was writing to “Gadol Echad” it is possible that the questioner had sufficient authority to be making rulings, in which case it might have had practical ramifications — but this wasn’t the point that R’ Moshe was addressing. He’s simply saying that it is appropriate and in no way disrespectful to disagree in learning with someone greater than oneself. See, I’m doing it right now!

    So I agree fully that “who is a gadol with authority and who is bound by that authority” is left an open question by this Teshuvah — though I disagree that it is an open question. Clearly R’ Moshe felt that there were Gedolim and that when there was a consensus of Gedolim, individual Rabbis could not be lenient — though they could still argue in learning.

  • Natan Slifkin

    Yaakov, you are again making confusing statements. Mordechai was a single person, not plural. Furthermore, you claim that you never said that Rav Moshe prohibited arguing with a Gadol – but in the very next paragraph you say that [only] someone like Rav Moshe, but not any rabbi, may argue with a Gadol!
    If Rav Moshe said that it is forbidden to argue with the majority of the Agudas Rabbonim, that is hardly the end of the matter. With the majority psak of the Agudas HaRabbonim regarding the Synagogue Council of America, Rav Eliezer Silver did not agree with the psak, and Rav Soloveitchik did not believe that it must be obeyed. (Of course, there are those who would say that Rav Soloveitchik was not a Gadol – but are you claiming that?)
    You say that I need to bring a source to prove that the Chinnuch is a Daas Yachid. But this is backwards; you need to bring sources from the Rishonim who say the same as him! Whereas I can point you to numerous Rishonim who state explicitly that Lo Sasur applies only to the Sanhedrin. I can also point you to lots of teshuvos from non-major Acharonim who dispute piskei halachah that were agreed upon by the consensus of “major” authorities.
    You say that “there’s been an objective framework for knowing the Gedolim, the Ba’alei HaMesorah, in use for millenia.” Then what is it? And why don’t the Gedolim know about this framework? In practice, we see various people revered as Gedolim by some claiming that certain people revered by Gedolim as others are not Gedolim, or even good Jews. Do I need to spell out the views of the Satmar Rav regarding Rav Kook, Rav Shach regarding the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rav Shach and Rav Moshe Shapiro regarding Rav Soloveitchik?
    You claimed that you did not want to get into talking about specific people/institutions, but that is kindof the whole point. Furthermore, you yourself brought up JTS, Rav Shach, and all the other names you mentioned. So I will do the same. Was Rav Kook a gadol? The Lubavitcher Rebbe? Rav Soloveitchik? Turning to the living, what about Rav Aharon Lichtenstein? Rav Hershel Schechter? Rav Abadi? Rav Yaakov Ariel? Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky? For every one of these names, you’ll find plenty of other people revered as Gedolim claiming that these people are not Gedolim or even at all acceptable as manhigim. And what about the Eidah Charedis saying that anyone who paskens to vote (such as Rav Elyashiv) or go to nachal chareidi (Rav Steinman) is uprooting all of Yiddishkeit and has no chelek be’elokei yisroel?
    It would sure be nice if there were an objective framework for knowing the true Gedolim, the Ba’alei HaMesorah. But there isn’t.

  • dr. bill

    Rabbi Menken, do you seriously believe that one would ask a sheailah about disagreeing in learning as opposed to psak? I know of no instance where that was not commonplace throughout jewish history. in any case, iirc, the practical issue addressed was well known and very relevant last week.

    your distinction of “lifnei Rabo” is the approach of the ritba and other chachmai sford. it is not universally accepted. see the essay by prof. ta-shma zl for a thorough discussion on halakha ke’batrayi versus/and talmid lifnei rabo.

  • DG

    Rabbi Menken,
    I was not referring to R’ Yehoshua, I was referring to the talmidim of Rava, about whom R’ Moshe said:
    כל זמן שלא מוצאין תירוץ אסור להם להורות כרבא אף שהיה רבם
    “As long as they do not find an answer (to their apparent disproof of a given pesak of Rava), it is forbidden for them to rule (להורות) like Rava, even though he was their rebbe.”
    להורות is undoubtedly pesak Halacha, not just in learning. That is why it is a “Kol shekain” based on that source that arguing in learning is certainly ok.
    But as I pointed out, this only applies after the rebbe’s death.

  • Yaakov Menken

    “Dr. Bill,” I regret to disappoint you, but the answer is “yes,” I do. But I should not have said it was about learning, “not relevant to Halachah L’Ma’aseh.” That’s incorrect. What I said originally is that “he’s answering a question as to whether it’s disrespectful to a Gadol to disagree with his interpretation in learning,” and this remains true (and much more relevant to most of us).

    The point is that Natan misread R’ Moshe to be speaking about the advisability of disagreeing with a Gadol in p’sak halacha, whereas R’ Moshe was only discussing whether disagreement would dishonor (or, in fact, honor) a Gadol (or, for that matter, any writer of Chiddushei Torah) or his memory. This applies whether or not the disagreement has practical application, or is exclusively about interpretation of a Gemara.

    R’ Dovid, see my response above to Dr. Bill. I think that covers your point. As you said, “That is why it is a ‘Kol shekain’ based on that source that arguing in learning is certainly ok.”

    I also would like to withdraw my earlier statement that I should not have wasted time in the comments; I realized that this may soon have broader applicability than this comment thread, so it could prove quite productive. I had to develop both a better understanding and better way of expressing my position, and I am grateful to those (especially Natan) who helped me do so.

    Nonetheless, all good things must come to an end. Natan, you insisted that R’ Moshe said anyone may disagree with a Gadol, and that “a competent talmid chacham is not obligated to follow any other rabbonim.” Meanwhile, what R’ Moshe actually said is that one who follows such a “talmid chacham” is a mechalel Shabbos b’farhesiah.

    You can bring in irrelevant issues if you wish, as well as attempt to discuss who specifically is or isn’t a Gadol, but there’s obviously such a thing as a consensus. Reference to JTS is relevant, because if you were correct, any “competent talmid chacham” could disagree with the Gemara, as all of its conclusions were reached long after the Sanhedrin had disbanded. See the Rambam’s introduction to the Yad as well as the previously referenced Igeres Teiman, and Gem. R”H 25a and Beraysah there, and you can no longer argue that the Chinuch was a Da’as Yachid. No one argues against his point that we won’t have one Torah if every “competent talmid chacham” is free to go his own way. As the Chinuch concludes, without disagreement:

    “The one who violates this, and does not listen to the advice of the Gedolim of his generation in the wisdom of the Torah, ‘in accordance with all that they direct,’ he fails to perform this Commandment. And his punishment is very great, because this is the strong pillar upon which the Torah rests. This is known to anyone who has knowledge.”

  • Natan Slifkin

    Yaakov, if you want a more explicit statement by Rav Moshe, see Orach Chaim 1:109. Amongst other reasons that he gives why one may argue with a Gadol is that there is no such thing today as a Gadol anyway: גם מסתבר שאין בזה”ז דין גדול ומופלא לגבי דין זה שלא לחלוק עליו.
    On the other hand, Rav Moshe did apparently say that nobody may argue with Agudas HaRabbonim. However, (A) I have not yet seen any sources for this, (B) It appears more polemical than halachic, and (C) Rav Soloveitchik clearly disagreed.
    You claim that if what I say is true, then anyone could argue with the Gemara. This is precisely the question asked by Kesef Mishnah and others. He answers that there was a nationwide agreement to canonize the Gemara.
    I don’t know why you bring up Rosh HaShanah 25a again; we’ve already established that that has nothing to do with listening to greater Torah scholars; instead, it shows that greater Torah scholars have to listen to lesser Torah scholars when they are the head of the Sanhedrin/Beis Din.
    I can continue to argue that the Chinnuch is a Daas Yachid as long as you haven’t brought sources to show otherwise. Rambam is explicit that Lo Sasur applies only to the Beis Din HaGadol.
    As for your claim that the Chinnuch’s view is necessary to have “one Torah”, the facts on the ground are that there already are multiple “Torahs” – litvishe, chassidishe, charedi, Zionist, modern Orthodox, etc.
    You say that “there is obviously such a thing as a consensus.” If you’re talking about a universal consensus of Klal Yisroel, like that which canonized the Gemara, I agree. But if you’re talking about a consensus of “recognized Gedolim”, the facts on the ground show that there obviously isn’t any such thing.

  • Chardal

    טור חושן משפט ג, דרכי משה ד״ה וכתב:

    וכתב מהר״י וייל בתשובותיו סימן קמ״ו ולא אשכחן שום למדן בזמן הזה מומחה לרבים שידון האדם בעל כרחו כי כבר נתבטלו דיני תלמיד חכם כו׳

  • dr. bill

    In an interesting piece of history, the Rosh Yeshiva of Torah Vodaath asked why issue a ban on SCA (which at the time already had orthodox participation for 30 years) where the relevant members had an Adom Gadol who can pasken for them? similar arguments were addressed by rabbis Bamberger and Grodzynski.

  • cvmay

    As one who is not willing to intercede in the R. Menken & R. Slifkin discussion, a point should be added to enhance & embellish the talk. Reb Dovid Feinstein will give a pasack that is contrary to his father on halachic matters.

  • Binyomin Eckstein

    > You are right in one way. For the RZ there is no olam hatorah that (a new fangled Chareidi term) that is separate from Klal Yisrael. The Torah needs to be connected to our national life, not a sectarian fettish.

    The Olam Hatorah merely maintains that it is the part of Klal Yisrael which does not allow the rest of Klal Yisrael to stray too far away from itself by, among other things, immersion in the surrounding culture. You see, the Charedim don’t have things like graduation parties from relgious High School with Facebook invites to mixed parties (unlike what RZ HS grads did – with hundreds upon hunderds of attendants, and an account of the party that the RZ website had to censor), they don’t have problems like an entire Shevet of Bnei Akiva “falling in love” with their kommunarit (and asking Rav Aviner what to do about it), they haven’t been infected with the Shomer/not Shomer Negi’ah disease from their MO counterparts, and so on and so forth. Their Rabbis, unlike Rav Melamed, aren’t forced to come out with Pesakim like – yes, it is better for them to watch TV with a woman singer than to curse at a basketball game, because the people we are dealing with are so weak anyway. (All this is a random selection of articles I chanced upon without even looking for them – over the past week.) “Datilonim” are commonplace, “Charedilonim” are not.

    (Yes, some Charedim fail – but there is no institutionalized accepted norm of failure, unlike the RZ. And they intend to keep it that way. From what I’m hearing, ultimately, the hora’ah will likely be that it would be a terrible Chillul Hashem for anyone who can get by financially – even if by Kach hee darkah shel Torah standards – to leave learning as a result of any law passed by a Reform Apikores like Lapid and his RZ comrades-in-arms, and for the time being it will require more Mesirus Nefesh to do so. Efforts will be made to deal with it.)

    The question now is whether the RZ’s talk of protecting the Olam HaTorah is coming from the same complete lack of appreciation for it that you have. With Bennett, I suspect it is. He was taken on a tour of the Mir like a poritz, and he left with the same attitude.

    > Indeed I do not share any tears over an institution which, when one of my best friends, upon the recomdation of his rav, came there to learn, told him he his not fit to be there on account of his blue shirt.

    A talmid who insists on coming to the Mir with a blue shirt has an agenda-driven statement to make beyond any learning he’s interested in, and the Yeshiva is not obligated to take students with an agenda.

    > And indeed we share nothing, but the group that has separated itself from the Klal, which does not mourn with it nor share in its happiness in victory.

    This is anti-Semitic refuse worthy of Der Sturmer. As a small example, Rav Shach cried his eyes out when he heard of the 73 soldiers who were killed in the helicopter crash, and it is complete and utter ignorance and idiocy to think that the Charedim as a whole don’t care whether Israel wins or loses its battles.

    > Nor participates in its national life is the chareidim.

    The Charedim have a profound disagreement with many elements of the national life of the Jewish people in its State. To the extent that there is any hint of agreeing with those elements, it is true that they refuse to participate. Lack of acceptance of the right to do so is fascistic patriotism and a demand that one place the State above the Torah.

    For years and years it has been impossible to send one’s children to the army without real and tangible fear of losing one’s child to secularism, and there was no way a Charedi parent would allow that, even if it meant draft-dodging. (It wasn’t all that long ago that you wrote, in a comment on this very blog, that you would justify such an attitude. For you to now hurl hateful invective is testimony to nothing but that hatred.) It has become ingrained and it will take years, with a proven track record of boys coming out with their orientation intact, to undo. (And don’t quote me some person with an agenda who claims 30% of Charedi kids go off. First, it is a ridiculous assertion which would mean that, on average, each Charedi family has 2-3 children who are secular. Second, anyone who says that the army has not been an active catalyst for such dropping out doesn’t know what he’s talking about.)

    > They have excluded everyone for decades and now cry foul, when page people whom they excluded,surprise, do not feel much compassion towards them.

    This is largely driven by the media and, sadly, people like you. It is more often than not that Charedi(m) to whom the average secular person is related, or with whom they are acquainted, is not a cynic, but a deeply principled, kind, benevolent person who is told – “ah, if only all Charedim were like you.” The multitude of Chessed organizations geared to Jews of all stripes more than prove the point.

    It is true that, as a whole, Charedim, especially in Israel, have a narrow ideology that does not grant legitimacy to viewpoints that you might find acceptable or correct, often even excluding one another. But they exclude them only from being bearers of Torah-true Judaism. The current constellation is such that ideological tolerance and pluralism is viewed as a positive and ideological rigidness as a negative. So what?

    > There is a price for the sociological decisions your leaders have made, and you are now paying that price.

    Bederech Hateva, the price will likely need to be paid and there will be a period of mesirus nefesh required. Perhaps such sacrifice is what Hashem is demanding, for without it the Jewish people in Israel would be doomed by the imminent existential threats facing it. Hopefully, during that period, the tables will yet turn. In the meantime, enjoy your honeymoon with Yair Lapid. You deserve each other.

  • SA

    A hearty welcome back to the Diasporites. Anyone remember how we got here from a post on the chareidi draft plan? :) Funny, DMF, who I believe started this whole argument, hasn’t been heard from since.

  • Keren

    I’m bewildered. “Just” two years of becoming slaves to the state is not so bad? Of course it’s almost nothing in comparison to 25 years as a cantonist but it’s slavery nonetheless. Otherwise known as socialism – the state owns the people, and is entitled to force them to live as it pleases. Incidentally, this system has proven highly inefficient when it comes to encouraging excellence, so it’s interesting that the present (ostensibly capitalist) government is so determined to promote a socialist approach to national service.
    And “top learners”? Who on earth is qualified to rule on such a matter? I was always taught that we value yegiah above gaonus.
    If you will study recent history with an open mind, it will become obvious that the chareidi community was forced, deliberately, into a position of being at least partially dependent on government funding, a cheap political strategy we see being practised in the US, with disastrous long-term consequences. Chareidim have not been ALLOWED to work unless they first served in the IDF (unless they were already much older) but that didn’t stop people from despising them for “not contributing.” It has always been, as it still is, “Do it our way, or suffer.” We have suffered, and will continue to do so. Meanwhile, Israeli society as a whole will gain nothing from this persecution, except a nice distraction from all the existential threats on the borders.
    Of course there are chareidim flocking to programs to help them find decent employment. But the govt hasn’t been making it easy for them. Do you know how many men drop out because it’s so hard to keep kollel hours and then go to college at night? But they don’t have a choice.
    It is ridiculous to claim that the Gedolim or the chareidi street prefer poverty and full time learning to respectable employment and a kevias itim leTorah. It would have been the latter long ago if only the govt had given way on its desire to force chareidim into their mold. And now the chances of change happening in a positive way are smaller than ever because who is going to let go of the amazing scapegoat the chareidi figure is today? It’s just too convenient to blame us for all of society’s ills. Nobody really wants to solve the problem – just open your eyes and admit it!

  • Chardal

    >The Olam Hatorah merely maintains that it is the part of Klal Yisrael which does not allow the rest of Klal Yisrael to stray too far away from itself by, among other things

    It is a part of Klal Israel whose attitude to the rest is to either ignore them in the best case or express open hatred in the worst (there are many shades in between). Also, there is a small fringe contingent of kiruv workers who seem to care about the rest but even there, their attitude ranges from genuine respect to an outright patronizing attitude.

    >You see, the Charedim don’t have things like graduation parties from relgious High School with Facebook invites to mixed parties …

    Go visit any public internet cafe that is near a chareidi neighborhood at night. Go to ben yehuda street. The dropout rate is enormous in the chareidi world. One askan I talked to places the number at 30%. You are falling prey to the fact that chareidi society either ignores the problem or tries to actively hide it (while attacking those who want to take practical steps to solve it). A simple reading of shu”t literature will show anyone that the Jewish world was never a puritanical or perfect as what the chareidi world expects. People are people and they make mistakes, and throughout history, rabbis dealt with it in different ways. Whether it is the chacham tzvi recognizing extramarital affairs in 17th century Amsterdam or mixed youth groups in bnei Akiva is irrelevant. All the Israeli chareidim do is exclude others in order to maintain some psychologically unhealthy purity which they imagine is how their forefathers lived. It is both false and takes a tremendous toll on many in the community (the 30% who drop out are just the brave ones, so many people live in social jail, not buying into the system but not brave enough to leave)

    The fact that we have people of all different levels of observance and who struggle to maintain a religious identity in the modern world is a source of pride, not shame. I don’t expect you to see it that way, but we will not flinch just because you attack us for not being chareidi enough.

    >A talmid who insists on coming to the Mir with a blue shirt has an agenda-driven statement to make beyond any learning he’s interested in, and the Yeshiva is not obligated to take students with an agenda.

    He had no agenda. He wears blue shirts. He went upon the recommendation of his Rav and was only interested in learning. The fact that the yeshiva cares about the color of ones shirt just shows how shallow and hollow its derech must be.

    >As a small example, Rav Shach cried his eyes out when he heard of the 73 soldiers who were killed in the helicopter crash, and it is complete and utter ignorance and idiocy to think that the Charedim as a whole don’t care whether Israel wins or loses its battles.

    This is his own personal mourning. It in not mourning with the klal. It is not showing the respect of standing for 1 minute in silence like the rest of the country does. It is not celebrating the victory of the establishment of the state on yom haAtzmaut. That is obviously what I was talking about. Mazal Tov, Rav Shach was on the madreiga to cry when Jews died. I doubt that it matters that they were soldiers. The fact is, that the chareidim have decided to exclude themselves from any celebration or mourning of the national victories and losses of the past 100 years. And this has a price.

    >(And don’t quote me some person with an agenda who claims 30% of Charedi kids go off. First, it is a ridiculous assertion which would mean that, on average, each Charedi family has 2-3 children who are secular. Second, anyone who says that the army has not been an active catalyst for such dropping out doesn’t know what he’s talking about.)

    I suppose that you are free of an agenda? There is nothing absurd about the figure. Just looking at the inability of the chareidim to grow as a percentage of the Jewish population at the same rate as their fertility rate will show that many many go off the derech. Everyone who lives here knows several people who have left the chareidi fold in every age category. The person I quote is trying to do something to help the situation by opening up a chareidi yeshiva high school so that students can have some hope of a financially stable future while remaining chareidi. You are foolish if you think that the chareidi system is somehow stronger in keeping people religious. In fact, R’ Dessler, in his famous apologetic letter regarding the chareidi approach to education openly admits that many many will be lost (much more than the RZ world), but that the price of those souls is worth it so that we can have gedolim (of course, no gedolim have been produced either, but that is a different story).

    >For years and years it has been impossible to send one’s children to the army without real and tangible fear of losing one’s child to secularism, and there was no way a Charedi parent would allow that, even if it meant draft-dodging.

    Ah, the famous, secular danger outweighs physical danger (I think they fear both, maybe the physical one much more). At some point, we all have to let our children go and be free in the world, and hope that the education we gave them will allow them to withstand the challenges. It is impossible to shield them from everything and an 18 year old, given the proper education and home, should be able to take it. But this is not even the issue, because everyone can even compromise on a later age (21,22,23). The point is, that the chareidim have developed an ideology that supposedly protects their own while being dependent for their physical (and spiritual – who pays for the schools?) existence on a certain percentage of people who would reject this ideology (you know, in order to be doctors, lawyers, engineers, the people you need for a country to work). It is an absurd situation and shows a lack of vision and purpose. It is a result of weakness and a lack of answers for the challenges of real life and can not exist anywhere else in the world. I have never met american chareidim that are as afraid of their shadows as their Israeli counterparts. Work on educating your children, not hiding them and maybe you will have a chance to be a player in the history of Am Israel.

    >This is largely driven by the media and, sadly, people like you.

    No, it is driven by constant personal experience. I grew up next door to bnei brak as a secular kid. Do you think I found it enjoyable that while driving through bnei brak, an idiot slammed on the hood of our car and yelled tmei’a at my mother (guilty of wearing short sleeves, I suppose). Everyone I know has dozens of anecdotes. And while I love the chareidi part of my family, it did not engender more love when they refused to eat at my grandmothers house [she kept kosher]. Or when they excluded themselves from every family simcha.

    The run ins with the chareidi public of common and often times not positive ones. It is the natural result of thinking that you have all the truth as in:

    >It is true that, as a whole, Charedim, especially in Israel, have a narrow ideology that does not grant legitimacy to viewpoints that you might find acceptable or correct, often even excluding one another. But they exclude them only from being bearers of Torah-true Judaism. The current constellation is such that ideological tolerance and pluralism is viewed as a positive and ideological rigidness as a negative. So what?

    So, that such narrowness does not just “exclude them only from being bearers of Torah-true Judaism.” It cause hate and violence. Just look at Ponevitch to see what such a arrogant and false “love of truth” leads to.

  • Chardal

    >And “top learners”? Who on earth is qualified to rule on such a matter? I was always taught that we value yegiah above gaonus.

    בנוהג שבעולם, אלף נכנסים למקרא, יוצאים מהם מאה למשנה, יוצאים מהם עשרה לתלמוד, אחד מהם יוצא להוראה, כמו שנאמר אדם אחד מאלף מצאתי. (מדרש רבה קהלת ז’)

    Universal learning is brand new. The learners used to be a self selecting elite. It is not hard to choose the serious ones, it simply requires testing. (Like the rabbanut or dayanut exams).

    The rest of your post is just paranoia about the state. You can not blame the state for Chareidi reactionary sociological models. Communities are responsible for their own decisions and the Chareidi community desired to close itself off from the rest of us and this comes at a price. That price includes poverty (due to lack of higher education) and the loss of the respect of everyone else (due to refusing to share the security burden – an ethically questionable move even according to some Chareidi gedolim such as R Gustman Ztl)

    It’s time for the Chareidi community here in Israel to take responsibly for itself.

  • Eliyahu

    chardal and binyamin have been busy pointing out what they think are the flaws in the other side’s approach to life and learning. May be at this point it would be better to write what theyfinnd admirable in other side. For chardal,preesumably there is something to admire in charedism, otherwise why the char in chardal?

  • Ori Pomerantz

    Keren: I’m bewildered. “Just” two years of becoming slaves to the state is not so bad?

    Ori: This is what let me to be yored and leave Israel as soon as I was able to get a visa to the US. But Israel might need such a large military it has to resort to forced labor.

  • L. Oberstein

    Genug shoen (It’s enough already) with statements that the Satmar Ideology is right. Let’s be honest.
    Satmar has many wonderful aspects, especially tzedoko and chesed and Ahavas Yisroel for the yochid. The Satmar Rav was a great leader of his flock and rebuilt them from the ashes. He also said that nothing has changed and continued to oppose Medinas Yisrael even after the Holocaust. Satmar exemplifies Cognative Dissonance. His sub-set of Judaism works for his group but is not applicable to Klal Yisrael as a whole. It is geared for the Carpathian Mountains of Romania and can’t be a model for Israel or the Jewish People as a whole.
    Anyone whose ideology doesn’t blind him to reality sees the benefits of having a strong and viable Jewish and democratic state in Eretz Yisrael. Nowadays it is more evident than ever that Rav Kook was right when he understood that the secular Zionists were building a state that would eventually rediscover its Jewish religious identity.
    Israel has many problems but I much prefer the Matzav of Am Yisroel in 2013 to that of 1939. Satmar wuld have us go back to the British Mandate and that meant restriction of immigration . Had we had a State in 1939, millions of Jews would have lived. How can Satmar still advocate a return to Jewish subservience to the crumbs of the gentiles.

  • Chardal

    >Satmar exemplifies Cognative Dissonance

    Like spending years saying that Zionism is ma’ase satan, avoda zara and is yehareg u’bal ye’avor and then hopping the first Zionist train out of Hungary (and leaving your Chassidim behind)?

    I would modify your statement to read “Cognitive Dissonance with cynicism sprinkled on top.”

    For all those who are saying that Satmar was right, would you truly abandon sovereignty over the land of Israel and give it to the UN (which would give it to the Arabs who would massacre Jews freely)?

    That is what R Yoel Teitelbaum advocated all the time calling all those who disagreed with him phony at best and reshaim at worst.

    The fact that the chareidi world still considers this sect “in” while revising history to write R’ Kook out says everything.

  • Chardal

    >I’m bewildered. “Just” two years of becoming slaves to the state is not so bad?

    Its a milchemet mitzva!! How dare you use a term such a slavery for the zchus to defend Jewish lives! The state is simply the institution through which you fulfill this mitzva.

    When R’ Yitzchak Breuer’s son reached army age, there was a big debate in the family regarding how to proceed. So they wrote a letter to R’ Yosef Breuer in Washington Heights who was considered the posek of the family (and who can not be accused of any Zionist sympathies) and his reply was basically (paraphrasing):

    “You chose to live in a country in which civic duty demands army service. Therefore you must fulfill your obligations by going to the Army.”

    It’s not slavery, its the responsibility of all citizens who enjoy the protection and other benefits of the state.

  • Chardal

    >For chardal,preesumably there is something to admire in charedism, otherwise why the char in chardal?

    I see many wonderful things in the chareidi community. In fact, one of my sons goes to school in a chareidi institution (admitedly on the moderate side of the community).

    Just of the top of my head, I would list their amazing chesed organizations and their true love of Torah.

    However, that does not in anyway diminish the deserving criticisms of major parts of chareidi ideology, leadership, and vision for the Jewish future.