Thursday, January 12, 2012

An Example of a True Gadol

Fifteen years ago, when I was SuperCharediMan, I viewed Rav Aharon Lichtenstein of Yeshivat Har Etzion with deep suspicion. How can someone have a doctorate in English literature if they are serious about Torah? And why doesn't he have a beard?

Fifteen years on, I have learned to judge people by their deeds. I look at how the Gedolim of the charedi world react to the massive chilul Hashem perpetrated by thugs in their community. I see either explicit support, condemnation of those condemning what happened, silence, or watered-down condemnations. Only one voice calls for repentance, but without making any attempt at serious introspection regarding the cause of the problems, nor to even consider the possibility that at least some of the criticisms of the charedi community might be innately understandable.

In sharp contrast, a reader sent me this transcript of a speech that Rav Aharon Lichtenstein gave after the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin. I urge everyone to read it, in order to see an example of what genuine Torah leadership should be.

63 comments:

  1. Natan,

    What a "flip" situation. 15 years ago you were Mr. Charedi and wouldn't consider R' Aharon anything.

    15 years ago many in RBSA were talmidim of YU and thought that he and YBL"L the Rav and Rav Aharon were "the" gedolim.

    Today those very same former YUnicks have found religion in the form of Charedism (and its icons of) and would consider R' Aharon "glatt treif".

    How ironic.

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  2. I find it hard to believe that anyone can consider R' Aharon glatt treif, even if they don't agree with him (unless, of course, they know nothing about him.)

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  3. Condemnation of the Rabin assassination by those on the record as being in favor of Oslo very often contained a note of triumphalism, unfortunately. Nu, what can you do.

    The Rosh Yeshiva of Ponevezh, based on the story, seems to have (like R' Steinman) heard about this story entirely from his handlers, in the sense of "The Chiloynim are attacking us again." I wonder if they have any idea what's really going on. I suppose if he doesn't, his response is a bit more laudable.

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  4. That is, indeed, an excellent reminder of how a leader should act. And given the "note of triumphalism" that accompanied the much of the condemnation of the assassination from the left, and the widespread hatred that was present against religious Jews in the aftermath of the assassination, Religious Zionist rabbis might have had every reason to react defensively, perhaps to feel "sucker punched," and to lash out at their attackers - as I know that some, maybe many, did. But others, and Rav Lichtenstein was probably the greatest of them, but there were others - saw what Rav Lichtenstein saw - a sense of shame that the values of their world had been corrupted and misused by some, and a realization of the need for some sort of repentance and soul-searching within the clal - the entire clal, including Rav Lichtenstein, who nobody could ever accuse of having supported assassination or anything close to it.

    I would like to add that one of the things that spurred me on the journey to "post-haredism" was an article by this same Rav Lichtenstein, published in HaAretz if I remember correctly, against refusing orders during the time when Gush Katif was being dismantled. It was an intelligent and reasoned argument, whether one agreed with it or not. As, at the time, someone who felt part of the haredi world, I felt intense jealousy of a world in which a leading rabbi could present his views in an intelligent and rational way for the entire public to review. Such a contrast to the posters, biased and often false newspaper accounts, and third-hand accounts of pasakim that may or may not have been made that constitute much of the public discourse in the Israeli haredi world.

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  5. Well, in defense of your former views, I would be genuinely surprised if a person with a doctorate in English literature knows a single thing about Shakespeare, Chaucer or Milton or anything worthwhile. They're pretty much all given over to "critical theory" these days.

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  6. Yes, but in the larger picture neither his condemnation nor the public shock after the assassination moderated the course of the gush emunim. Yigal amir and Baruch Goldstein are cult figures in these circles.

    Point being that radicalism has a life of its own and all the condemnations, despite being a moral necessity, don't change its trajectory.

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  7. "How can someone have a doctorate in English literature if they are serious about Torah?"

    You mean "How can someone have a doctorate in English literature if HE is serious about Torah." You cannot combine the singular "someone" with the plural "they". And you don't need a doctorate in english for that!

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  8. MJ, the way you toss around the words "Gush Emunim" (an organization that doesn't exist anymore and which was viewed as too moderate by the real radicals) shows you don't really know of what you speak.

    I guess my point is this: No one (who wasn't anti-religious to begin) would accuse a Meimad person like R' Lichtenstein of having anything to do with the assassination. So any condemnation he would make would be either:

    1) Super-humanly accepting blame, perhaps trying to find a fault in himself, perhaps even rightly, or,

    2) Sound like he was just blaming others.

    Ari: Not in his day it wasn't.

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  9. The fact that we have to even speculate as to whether the leading charedi rabbonim even know the full details of these current events when they comment, something that would be laughable for someone to suggest about R' Lichtenstein, sort of encapsulates the problem.
    Those of us in the Jewish world, and Orthodox-adherents in particular, would eagerly welcome any sort of cogent and elaborate discourse on their position EVEN if it would not be something that many of us might not agree with.
    Instead we are left with a scenario where many of us cannot help but feel that from a leadership perspective, taking nothing away from their revered status as Torah authorities of note, that "the emperor has no clothes".

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  10. I think the condemnation had some effect. Yeah, the radicals remain, but I think that a lot of the radical talk was seeping into the mainstream. I believe that the condemnations by Rav Lichtenstein and others helped to keep the really violent views out of the mainstream, and had an effect in modifying the rhetoric that was generally being used.

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  11. I see either explicit support, condemnation of those condemning what happened, silence, or watered-down condemnations. Only one voice calls for repentance....

    Let's not omit the fact that Rav Ovadia Yosef issued a very strongly worded statement against the charedi extremists.

    http://www.kikarhashabat.co.il/הרב-עובדיה-במכתב-חריף-נגד-הקיצ.html

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  12. @jacob
    Correct, he did, and more than once, as he spoke at his Motzei Shabbos shiur as well. But for all purposes, he is an outsider to Ashkenazim, and even more so to Meah Shearim or RBS.

    @RNS, on the topic of ROY, he issued a harsh condemnation of Yigal Amir after Rabin's murder, and stated that Amir has no portion in the world to come.

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  13. 1) There was some report yesterday of a charedi rabbi condemning his community.

    2) Is it your opinion that assassinations of a president, prime minister, or king are always wrong no matter the circumstances? If you're answer is yes, I wonder how you can defend that rationally.

    If you're answer is no, then aren't we simply left with the political question of: Was Rabin really destroying the country? What amount of destruction was he causing? Were there other equally effective ways of stopping him other than killing him?

    (In general, I wonder why you, and MO leaders, believe that assassinations are obviously, unquestionably evil. If you peruse history and read of the many assassinations of kings etc. is it so very obvious that all these assassinations were wrong?)

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  14. ' I would be genuinely surprised if a person with a doctorate in English literature knows a single thing about Shakespeare, Chaucer or Milton or anything worthwhile. They're pretty much all given over to "critical theory" these days.'

    If you read the work of Rabbi Dr. Lichtenstein you would be genuinely surprised.

    I have often wondered what the history of the humanities would be had Rav Lichtenstein decided to become an English professor rather than make a career in the rabbinate.

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  15. Can one of the two individuals who described this as "kefira" please defend their characterization. Do you really believe that Rav Lichtenstein's essay contains kefira?

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  16. Thank you, Rav Natan.
    That was the most wonderful drosha. His honesty and integrity speak volumes of his leadership and true greatness. I too did not know much of Rav Lichtenstein before but after reading this drosha my admiration for him has risen a thousand fold.
    Thank you for making my day -once again.
    Rav Gav.

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  17. Charlie Hall said...
    Can one of the two individuals who described this as "kefira" please defend their characterization. Do you really believe that Rav Lichtenstein's essay contains kefira?



    Wasn't me in this case, but I often accidentally click 'kefira' because the '# Comments' link is directly above.

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  18. That self-flagelation doesn't resonate well with me. It sound 'galuti'. I'm a pretty moderate person who is receptive to compromize solutions, but Yigal Amir is not a criminal. He acted out of pure idealogical motives when he pulled that trigger. How is he different from Yitzhak Rabbin who had given orders to fire on Altalena? Are there any speaches on the real problems of the MO community?

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  19. Charlie: "kefirah" here just means one that doesn't like the post. For all I know Nachum, for reasons he explained quite clearly, could have been one of the four.

    Lawrence Kaplan

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  20. "I see (among other things)... watered-down condemnations."

    I posit there are two types of condemnations. The "condemnation minus" and the condemnation plus". A "condemnation minus" is a wishy washy condemnation; it's lacking the bite. A "condemnation plus" is a strong condemnation, but added to it are things that perhaps could have been saved for a different announcement. I think the Agudah one, the one you consider "watered-down," is of the second type. They do add some things I think could've been saved for later. But they did say, "Violence of any sort, whether physical or verbal, by self-appointed “guardians” of modesty is reprehensible. Such conduct is beyond the bounds of decent, moral – Jewish! – behavior. We condemn these acts unconditionally."

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  21. I think some of the quote you posted from R' Shteinmann sums the issue up nicely:

    עכשיו כשרואים את האלימות, את השנאת חינם, ההתנכלויות, נדע ונבין שאין דרכינו דרכם, ומה מאוד צריך להתרחק מהם, כי אין תוכם כברם. הם ערב-רב ששונאים היהודים.

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  22. R' Steinman- whether out of real or willful ignorance- is clearly talking about supposed attacks on charedim.

    Prof. Kaplan, it wasn't me. I have no problem with this post. I admire R' Lichtenstein, although I can barely ever figure out what he's saying when I hear him live. (To be clear, I know he has health issues, but I also hear that this issue long predates that. I did hear him at a wedding recently where I understood every word, and it was quite good.) I just think that R' Slifkin presents those two options as a joke, and pretty much expects that "kefira" will be used for "dislike." I've never hit it, though.

    Assassinations are tricky. Tanach is full of them, and they're usually not viewed very positively, even if the victim "needed getting rid of." (Note that David never takes the opportunity. Very Begin-like of him.) Other than Ehud ben Gera (and that was really a state action of war), I can't think of one that the Navi actually seems to agree with.

    Meanwhile, Iranian nuclear scientists are going the way of Spinal Tap drummers (as Jonah Goldberg put it), but that's state vs. state action.

    Regardless, I see the argument that late 1995 was a bad time. Didn't mean it called for assassination, of course, but it may have called for a bit of restraint in mourning, especially if Rabin had, say, died of natural causes. (Nobody seems to miss Sharon, although he's still alive to be sure. Obviously, the way Rabin was killed did call for a different response, to credit R' Lichtenstein.) This things come to mind unbidden. So did the Altalena and Hillel's words in Avot.

    As R' Leiman puts it at the end of his talk on R' Kook and the Arlosoroff trial, there's a historical coincidence that Stavsky, who was not involved in the death of Arlosoroff, died so near the place he was killed- and Rabin, who certainly was involved in killing Stavsky, died not that far away either.

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  23. I consider Rav Lichtenstein, whom I have never met, the conscience of our generation. he is the only one who in addition to his gadlut in Torah really understands what is going on. He bridged both worlds being a talmid of rav Hutner and a close confidant of Rav Shlomo Zalman auerbach and at the same time a talmid muvhak of the Rav. It is in him that the spirit of the chareidi and MO world meet and become one based on Truth.

    He is hard to decipher but it is that where his greatness lies as he sees all sides clearly before taking a position (sometimes when he feels it necessary).

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  24. Although the Rabin murder is not the main topic of this thread, since it has been brought up I feel I must point out the following...I am National Religious and I was very involved in the protests against Rabin and Oslo. I frankly disliked the man, and my views of him have not changed, but I did not want him dead and I resent any implication that all of us who protested his Oslo disaster are in some way responsible for the murder. When Sharon was carrying out HIS Lebanon War disaster in 1992, a photo was made of a demonstration against Sharon and Begin and IIRC you can see Shulamit Aloni and Zehava Gal-On holding signs that said "Sharon and Begin are Murderers". Gal-On, after Rabin's killing, demanded wide-scale arrests of those who harshly criticized Rabin saying they are guilty of "incitement to murder". When it was pointed out that they she even harsher language she said "that's different, because it was true". In other words, hundreds dying due to Oslo is okay, hundreds dying due the Lebanon War is bad. During Stalin's mass terror, anyone who criticized Stalin was sent to the GULAG or shot using the same argument...if you criticize the leader, it must mean you wanted him dead.
    Rabin carried out a very dangerous policy without gaining public support and which lead to widespread death and destruction. Even if he "meant well" as the Left believed, not only is crticizing him permitted, it is the duty of concerned citizens to do so in order to force him to change his disastrous policy.
    I attended many demonstrations against Rabin and Oslo. If we heard seen numerous signs and chants saying "death to Rabin" or "Rabin should be put up against the wall and shot", then it would be justified in saying this was incitement to murder, BUT THERE WEREN'T ANY SUCH THINGS. The one famous example was the little flyer put out with Rabin in the SS uniform, and that was provided by Avishai Raviv who was an agent provocateur on the payroll of the SHABAK (Israeli secret internal security agency). One would think the job of the SHABAK would be not prevent violence against the Prime Minister, not encourage it.
    Thus, as I said, I vehemently reject the idea that those of us protested Rabin and Oslo bear any sort of "collective guilt" or are obligated to carry out a "Heshbon Nefesh". On the contrary, maybe those who supported Oslo, knowing the risks and dangers, and seeing the murderous acts of the Palestinians suicide bombers who were turned loose on Israel as a result of the Oslo fiasco should look at their own responsibility for the thousands of dead and wounded Oslo brought upon us.

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  25. Anyone can say anything they want after the fact, but I was here and I knew and did differently.

    The year prior to Rabin's death was incendiary, the summer especially, and the escalation of violence and hatred between Jews in Eretz Yisrael was so palpable as to be physical. The so-called Prime Minister of ALL THE JEWS in Eretz Yisrael was among the most responsible for the atmosphere of hatred and enmity. A man without any compassion whatsoever. One only had to listen to those who eulogized him to understand that and those who surrounded him.

    On that erev Rosh HaShanah, as is often my way, just before making kiddush for my family I talked a little. Among the things that I mentioned was the increasing violent atmosphere in Eretz Yisrael and I ended by saying, “the new year is ,תשנ"ו Tashnu, but we don’t read it ‘Tashnu’ we read it “T’shanu” – we will change or we will make changes.” I said, “This year is a year of love. We are going to do everything in our power to consciously increase the love in Eretz Yisrael.”

    In the years that followed, maybe because of what I’d said at that kiddush and maybe because of so many other reasons, I never stopped trying to find ways to build people, to carry them, and to help them get through and live through what we were and are living through. I would write: “These are days of great sacrifice and great pain, days of tremendous desire and tremendous frustration, and days of incredible dreams and incremental fulfillment. Everything we do is so beyond us - so beyond us because everything that we are doing is for the sake of God’s dream – His dream that He and His Holy people can finally be together again - this time forever.”

    Do we understand what it's all about and just how great the demands are upon us?

    Shabbat Shalom,
    Daniel Eliezer

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  26. These comments are much more interesting than i expected. Could it be that some posters here think the assasination of the Prime Minister can be justified but spitting on a girl cannot? That Chareidim need cheshbon hanefesh for kanaot but RZ do not? Are there people that think Tag Mechir attacks are ok and do not expose a certain extremist strain of some RZ education but dressing in Holocuast clothing is crossing the line? I hope most people see all extremism whether practised by Chareidim, RZs, Iranian Fundamentalists,or AntiGovernment anarchists, as different expressions of the same idea: I am so sure I am right that I will force my ideas on you.

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  27. Natan, don't you know that charedism is false Judaism, that it is a departure from the mesorah? The persistent arrogance should be the first hint. The second hint is the use of a new word to describe Jews: charedi. This is reminiscent of some mistakes made by chasidim, where they no longer had stories about Yiddin. Suddenly, a chosid was walking down the street.

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  28. Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)January 13, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    Rabbi Slifkin —

    Don't listen to Gershon Pickles. The so-called 'Singular They' has existed in the English language for centuries, far longer than the "rules" made up by wannabe grammarians who thought that to be civilized, a language must work just like Latin. Singular They is used in many classic works of English literature, including the King James Bible, Shakespeare, and Jane Austen. See -- http://www.crossmyt.com/hc/linghebr/austheir.html -- and many posts at the LanguageLog blog.

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  29. I agree with Aharon Haber's comment, and I think this underlines the importance of rabbis condemning improper behavior, particularly great rabbis like Rav Lichtenstein, and particularly where some people are attempting to find religious justifications for the bad behavior. I didn't think much of Rabin either, but once you start justifying assassination, then instead of elections, our leadership will be determined by any fanatic with a gun that thinks his judgement is better than that of the voting public. That's how people like Qadaffy and Saddam Hussein end up running countries. And moreover, although it doesn't really relate to the moral issue, killing Rabin was also a stupid thing to do tactically, even from the point of view of the most extreme right-wing. It almost got Labor elected a year later, even though before the assassination, Likud was well ahead in the polls. But that's really beside the point - it was simply wrong.

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  30. Nachum - I never meant to imply he was doing the right thing, I just was pointing out that his statment is equally true for the opposite side.

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  31. Rav Lichtenstein, for all his gadlus and scholarship, is an elitist. He lives in an Jewish equivalent of an Ivy League school. He seems to think that "lomdus" is the only learning that counts. He can't seem to speak in clear, easy to understand, sentences. He can't seem to go for more than about one or two paragraphs without some reference to Milton or Chaucer, etc. Quite frankly, I'm not all that impressed that he can sprinkle his talks with English literature. I would be more impressed if he could actually try to relate to the religious "man in the street" instead of the religious "man at Harvard".

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  32. I have been reading and commenting on this blog for a while now and I'm confused, which some say is not hard to do. :)

    Why is this blog's purpose??? R. Silfkin seems to be Anti-Haredi, when right wing thought or belief clashes with rational thought and knowledge, but it seems he is beating a dead horse by arguing against them from the inside.

    If they are irrational they will not listen so what are you trying to accomplish? They are lost to normal though and some say outside the pale of normative Judaism like any extreme fringe group. As Jews we do not want to say they are not Jewish per se, but they seem to cause more trouble than any other single group.

    What side of the fence does R. Slifkin sit? Are you trying to be accepted by the Haredi Community as one of them who happens to be rational to some degree so maybe they will listen to you or are you outside cut ties and a complete modern rationalist and calling them to task for their approach?

    I sort of see you (no judgment, just observation) as sitting on the fence, which makes this blog confusing at times to rationalists. I think it is very hard to be completely religious and also be a rationalist without redefining Torah belief from literal to completely metaphoric and open to change from generation to generation as we ourselves grow and become more knowledgeable about the world we live.

    Shalom,

    Rabbi Simon

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  33. " Aharon Haber, paraphrasing all fundalmentalists: - "I am so sure I'm right T'll force my ideas on you."

    This indeed describes a very basic human attitude. The question is: is this attitude compatible with the tradition of Torah?

    In one of the most famous passages, Hillel summarizes the entire Torah as: "what is hateful to you, don't do to your fellow." Thus, to be true to Torah, we can nlot look at things only from our point of view. According to Hillel, we MUST look at it from the "Other's" perspective & imagine how we would feel. This is exactly the OPPOSITE of fundamentalism.

    So: would you want someone whose politics you disagreed with to assasinate you? If not, then you're not allowed to assasinate them.

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  34. Sigh. Why must you bring Rabin into this? He was zionist who murderd zionists on the Altalena, and very nearly took care of Begin too. He doesn't deserve slack for being assasinated. Let him rot.

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  35. "Yigal Amir is not a criminal. "

    That someone can leave this kind of comment on this blog shows the magnitude of the problem. Whoever has the most guns wins.

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  36. ' I would be more impressed if he could actually try to relate to the religious "man in the street" instead of the religious "man at Harvard".'

    Why should he, or any rabbi, talk down to people. I've actually been stimulated to review some of English literature and history by reading some of Rav Lichtenstein's essays.

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  37. Aharin Haber:

    Yes, some extremism is wrong and some extremism is right. It depends on whether you are defending true or false ideas. It also naturally depends on the circumstances.

    Many greats in history were "extreme": the Maccabees, Patrick Henry, RSR Hirch, Jabotinsky...

    I very much agree with the spirit of Barry Goldwater's famous line, "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

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  38. R' Yossi,
    Have you tried reading his works, I find them easier than his later audios.
    In the recent bio of R' Amital iirc R'AL notes the differences in connectivity between himself and R' Amital; sometimes that's just the way it is.
    KT
    Joel Rich

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  39. Charlie Hall-
    I did not interpret what Yossi was saying as meaning that a Rav should "talk down" to the public. What I think he means is that in giving shiurim to the broad public, as opposed to one in the Beit Midrash for the "bachurim", it is not useful to load the shiur with all kinds of technical terms and concepts the average non-specialist does not understand. However, I think, because religious Jews today have a pretty high educational level, that they should assume that the audience is at the level at least of being a high-school graduate, if not being a college-graduate. I note that the Artscroll books I have seen are written at a level below high-school graduate and so I avoid them. This is true of other Haredi publications I have seen as well. On the other hand, I very much appreciate the writing of Rav Eliezer Berkowitz who does assume the reader has a general educational background but he does not throw a lot of "intellectual" jargon at the reader.

    The American Haredi world is apparently feeling the lack of means of communication with more educated religious people so this is the motivation for their bringing out this new periodical "Dialogue".

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  40. Rabin was an exceedingly evil man who initiated and began carrying out a program which surrendered land and weapons to our worst enemies. There is no way way to look at him as being anything but a murderer, not a victim.

    There is no need to condemn Yigal Amir for his efforts to save the Jewish nation. Comparing him to Sikrikim is absurd and is an example of a forced symmetry between warped haredi extremism and Jews who live lives of devotion to authentic Jewish values.

    I should also add that while Rav Lichtenstein is a big talmid chacham he has been dead wrong when it comes to Eretz Yisrael issues.

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  41. R Lichtenstein said, “Someone may say, ‘The Rosh Yeshiva says that [DL-ism] can lead to bloodshed - let's close [DL-ism]!’ I say, no! We will not close … nor will we encourage tepid and unenthusiastic service. The challenge is, can we continue to inspire the yearning for sanctity, shake people out of complacency, get them to face the great call of the hour … without losing a sense of morality, of proportion, of right, of spirituality? Do we have to choose between [DL-ism] and morality? Chas ve-shalom! But we must purify our hearts and our camp in order to serve Him in truth.”

    IOW, instead of dismantling DL-ism, create m¬echanisms that keep the abuses that it engenders in check. I think this would be true of any system with legitimate roots and positive aspects yet nurtures evil – including charedism. At the point where charedism’s good ends and its nurtured evil begins – [don’t expect too much agreement on where that point is!] a checking mechanism must somehow be set in motion to prevent the excesses even while neither interfering with the good nor rendering it tepid or unenthusiastic.

    --

    A minor point is that R Lichtenstein was talking in his own yeshivah to his own people and wasn’t fearful that “I told you so” outsiders would misrepresent his words as a[n unintended] concession that DL-ism is completely illegitimate. Asking charedi spokesmen to issue the kind of public condemnations which the media and others will distort, to supply outsiders with ammunition with which to be attacked, wasn’t asked of R Lichtenstein. I don’t know R Lichtenstein and it’s quite possible he would do this even in these circumstances, but so far this distinction exists.

    [This is of course no answer to why the kind of condemnation which won't be distorted isn't being offered.]

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  42. "There is no need to condemn Yigal Amir for his efforts to save the Jewish nation. Comparing him to Sikrikim is absurd and is an example of a forced symmetry between warped haredi extremism and Jews who live lives of devotion to authentic Jewish values."

    Hard to believe what I am reading. Does it have to be pointed out that the opposite of this statement actually makes much more sense:

    "...forced symmetry between warped RZ extremism and Sikrikim who live lives of devotion to authentic Jewish values."

    You think that TAKING OUT THE PRIME MINISTER of our country is not warped extremism? Who else is fair game according to this non-warped Jewish Valued philosophy?

    Which one of these extremist philosophies (if you will permit me to call righteously violent RZ extremists) poses more of a risk to our country? Do you want anarchy? Do you want to split the country into factions killing each other?

    Asymmetry indeed.

    "I should also add that while Rav Lichtenstein is a big talmid chacham he has been dead wrong when it comes to Eretz Yisrael issues."

    Who said? You?

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  43. @carol 1:22 am jan 13th:
    Well said.

    On questions about the voting, I did not vote on this blog entry, but I like the point rav Slifkin raises even if he is doing it with a terrible example. It's all about introspection and discussing matters honestly. But is the essay itself kefira (kefira in this voting system standing for 'i disagree')? 100% yes definitely. The self flaggelation is a big letdown, and I can barely even continue reading after certain points which actually glorify the monster Rabin simply because he was a govt official and I guess because the masses got sad when he was slain. But on any other issue I'm sure Rav L has written well and shown he's a gadol in other ways which we would love to see from haredi leaders (but they do not really communicate with us) so on Rabbi Slifkin's point I don't take issue with him on that, just the particular essay.

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  44. The "moral equivalence" game being played by some commenters is really ridiculous.

    Rabin was a threat, being that he was a murderer and he was now importing plo terrorists and giving them guns which they were using to murder Jews. That is an objective fact indisputable by a logical person.

    Little girls of orot school are not a threat to hasidim.

    Can you not comprehend the difference?

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  45. Student V, your comment about Rabin being a threat is ridiculous.

    If he was doing wrong things, they were being done by many in society, not a single man.

    If he was doing things without the support of the ministries and kennesset then there are court systems for those types of actions. He was not more of a threat than anyone else in Israeli society at the time. Nor was his "threat" one of a rodef or similar.

    This is the problem with people's lack of education regarding media and symbols and the workings of government.

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  46. @StudentV
    Every guy who ever did any violence thought he was saving the world. One cannot take matters into his own hand. Just as you think Rabin is dangerous, so do the guys in Meah Shearim think you are. Can you imagine what would happen if every guy who thought he was right would act unilaterally?
    You think it's is an objective fact that Rabin was chayav missah. I beg to differ. You should have sued him in court.
    You question whether or not little girls are a threat to some people. Some guys think they are. The key issue is not whether or not the girls are a threat. I couldn't care less if they are (it is true that they aren't, they are just the little pawn in the bigger picture). The point is that no one has a right to act like animals and subject them to abuse. Even if they are wrong. No one has a right to be a violent anarchist, even if they are right.
    The extremists in RBS and the extremist wrecking army bases, are guilty of the same. I see little difference between them. They have a strongly held view, and expect the majority to bend their way. When they find themselves in the minority, they turn to violence.

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  47. I think Aharon Haber, "Amateur," and "kollel nick" are right on the money. That people still think the assassination of the prime minister was somehow justified is pretty scary, and indicates that (i) it is important for people with influence, such as rabbis, to speak up against violence even when they think that nobody in their right mind would support such violence, and (ii) the pockets of dangerous extremism among us are not limited to Meah Shearim and Ramat Beit Shemessh B.

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  48. I think Rabbin is at least partialy responsible for his own murder because it was Shabbak that was incoraging the extremists and might have planned the whole thiing to keep Rabbin in power.

    Spitting on little girls is a criminal act. Executing Rabbin is a politiical act. That's the difference for you people! I don't approve of his actions, but I think that Yigal Amir should not be treated worse than a crminal. He had served enough time and should be reunited with his family soon.

    I cannot believe how many people on this blog get excited about Rabbin. What's next? Are you going to be studing his moreshet?

    I remember on the day he was shot I was shopping in a Pakistani store with my son (we love Indian food). So the storekeeper tells us: 'Oh, I'm so sorry that your prime minister was killed'. We were, like: 'Oh, thanks, but it's ok.' We just couldn't help it and were laughing away. The guy thoght we were a bunch of banannas. Look, as I've said I was against killing him or treating him without the respect due a prime minister, but I don't have to mourn him or flaggelate myself.

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  49. Let me add my voice to those who say there is NO WAY murder can be justified in the case of Rabin or any other Israeli leader, and I say this as someone who views both the Oslo Agreements and Sharon's destruction of Gush Katif as CRIMINAL acts because they were both done without ever getting a public mandate and both brought about large-scale bloodshed.
    I think it would have been legitimate to put Peres and Rabin in front of an official commission of inquiry for what they did, just like was done to Sharon for the Sabra and Shatilla massacres, but violence is absolutely forbidden. It is not our way!

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  50. Y. Ben-David, you are suggesting an inquiry commission into acts that you consider criminal instead of stopping the criminals? People have to follow like sheep to the slaughter? That is your way? So when will this inquiry take place? What do you think it will accomplish? A man that stops criminals is a criminal? This is absurd.

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  51. More evidence emerging that the favorite boogeyman of the moral equivalence champions of rationalistjudaism.com comments section is actually a leftist fabrication and does not really exist. Jews did not do the fire in Tuba Zangariya, and quite possibly "tag mechir" does not actually exist (except maybe as a joint leftwing -arab collaboration, or shabak mission, or both).

    Read it and weep, boys:
    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/151756

    But I guess you still have your "yigal amir and baruch goldstein" trump cards to compare religious zionists at war against arabs with hassidim who attack little girls, eh?

    Any explanation that starts with "but from their perspective" is usually wrong. The perspective of chassidim who feel "under attack" by a little girls school is objectively silly. Those under murderous threat of arabs who actually commit murder, is not objectively silly in any way.

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  52. "It is not our way!"

    So it's "our way" or the highway, is it? Who are you to speak on behalf of all Jews?

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  53. Carol-
    You are quite right. When I was referring to Rabin and Peres facing a commission of inquiry (which would have power to invoke punitive measures such as the one Sharon faced), I was referring to what can be done regarding their PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY for the disasters they knowingly inflicted on Israel. Regarding confronting government at the time that it is allowing its citizens to be slaughtered "in the name of the peace process" the best path is a passive resistance-civil disobedience campaign. At the time of Oslo, Moshe Feiglin's "Zo Artzenu" did this and it was very effective. That is why the gov't and SHABAK went crazy and accelerated their provocation campaign led by Avishai Raviv. The murder of Rabin put an immediate end to it and it sanctified Oslo as part of "the martyr Rabin's legacy". Thus, we see that Yigal Amir was the best thing that happened to the Left since the Arlosoroff murder in 1933 gave the MAPAI-Labor Party hegemony over the yishuv for over 40 years.

    During the struggle over Gush Katif, the National Religious and YESHA settler establishment decreed ON THEIR OWN that there would be NO civil disbodience/passive resistance campaign from the beginning. This ended up discrediting them in they eyes of myself and many others and which ultimately led to a radicalization of many on the Right.
    This was a tragic mistake.
    However, I repeat, violence is not our way. To stop a suicidal policy carried out by the government non-violent civil disobedience combined with constitutional political activity (demonstrations, lobbying politicians, etc) is the only way. This is currently being done during the ongoing struggle to save Migron and the other "illegal" outposts. Let's pray this time it works. It was working during Oslo, now it must go on to victory which means having the Right not fall into any traps the Left sets for this as was the case with Oslo and the Rabin murder.

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  54. Just Curious-
    SO you want violence? You want a civil war? Who picked YOU to decide something like that? Who says your interpretation of the Torah in that way is the right one?

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  55. Spitting on little girls is a criminal act. Executing Rabbin is a politiical act. That's the difference for you people! I don't approve of his actions, but I think that Yigal Amir should not be treated worse than a crminal. He had served enough time and should be reunited with his family soon.

    Carol – I disagree with so much of what you wrote, I don’t even know where to start, and I doubt I’ll finish. But for starters - Yigal Amir’s killing of Rabin was criminal – it was murder – even if it was politically motivated. It wasn’t strictly a political crime – like misappropriating funds, taking bribes, and such. It was murder – he killed another human being. It was criminal. His motivations are irrelevant. If every ideologue got to use “I was politically motivated” to commit murder or other crimes, there would be anarchy. Yigal Amir should be treated as a murderer, and should count his lucky stars that there is no capital punishment in Israel, or he would be counting his lucky stars from six feet under (where I personally believe he belongs, together with all other criminals who committed pre-meditated murder).

    I remember on the day he was shot I was shopping in a Pakistani store with my son (we love Indian food). So the storekeeper tells us: 'Oh, I'm so sorry that your prime minister was killed'. We were, like: 'Oh, thanks, but it's ok.' We just couldn't help it and were laughing away. The guy thoght we were a bunch of banannas. Look, as I've said I was against killing him or treating him without the respect due a prime minister, but I don't have to mourn him or flaggelate myself.

    On one hand you claim that you are “against treating” Rabin “without the respect due a prime minister” but at the same time – you demonstrated that disrespect, and are still proud of it (and seemingly clueless about it), when you recount the story about how you were laughing about Rabin’s being assassinated in front of this non-Jew, when he tried to convey his condolences, while he had no idea why you were laughing, and he thought you were “bananas”. Perhaps he “thought you were a bunch of bananas” because he had more of an idea of the respect due to the prime minister of a Jewish country, especially after finding out about their death, and couldn’t understand why you couldn’t control yourself and not laugh about it in public (regardless of whether or not you disagreed with his politics or ways of running the country). Your behavior was quite the opposite of “the respect due a prime minister”, which makes it hard to believe that you are "against treating him without the respect due a prime minister”. Or, perhaps your definition of “respect” is different than mine. Mine includes not laughing in public at an Israeli prime minister’s assassination.

    And there is a very big difference between not mourning him or flagellating yourself, and claiming that Amir’s act of murder was not criminal because his motivations were political or idealistic.

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  56. Michapeset, well said; I couldn't agree more. I'm considering rejecting comments from such people - it's lowering the level of discourse.

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  57. @ Rabbi Simon:
    "What side of the fence does R. Slifkin sit? Are you trying to be accepted by the Haredi Community as one of them who happens to be rational to some degree so maybe they will listen to you or are you outside cut ties and a complete modern rationalist and calling them to task for their approach?"

    We Orthodox Jews have developed the need, or what could be a crutch, to absolutely and categorically identify ourselves with one group or another ideologically, communally, and in leadership. Why do we need to label ourselves "Charedi" or "Modern Orthodox"? Or "Somewhere in between and as soon as I come up with an official label I will brand myself with it"? Torah halacha, philosophy and ideology is so much deeper and more complex than simple labels of ideological adherence would indicate.

    I think we need to do this because we are too afraid to confront the complexities involved in truth seeking, and find relief in the ability to identify ourselves and our beliefs with clear labels. What if we find that we agree with certain tenets held by someone like Rav Lichtenstein shlita, but hold of the brilliance in a particular area in Torah as explained by Rav Moshe Shapiro shlita?

    Oh no! What should I wear on my head? Where should I send my kids to school?

    I do not think that Rabbi Slifkin needs to be overly bothered with which side of the fence he sits on. I think we are too preoccupied with identifying sides of the fence. Let's just discuss Torah.

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  58. Yossi,
    you commented:

    "Rav Lichtenstein, for all his gadlus and scholarship, is an elitist. He lives in an Jewish equivalent of an Ivy League school. He seems to think that "lomdus" is the only learning that counts. He can't seem to speak in clear, easy to understand, sentences."

    Also in relation to another post in which RNS provides a link to an article written about the impending vaccuum of Gedolim:

    Roshei Yeshiva are Roshei Yeshiva. They have lived in Yeshiva for years and have been able to learn and study in order to become great Talmidei Chachamim, and often the responsibility of leading the nation is thrust upon them. They never intended to be philosopher kings, always in the political spotlight and the public eye, although it is the situation that often emerges. Let's cut them some slack.
    I didn't get the impression that you were trying to say this, but people often look at Roshei Yeshiva and Gedolim as though they were G-d Himself and get disappointed when they don't display the omniscience and omnipotence of a demigod.

    And saying they aren't demigods doesn't detract from their greatness.

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  59. What's good for the gooseJanuary 17, 2012 at 11:28 PM

    It's interesting to see that there are Religious Zionist apologists who are very eager to defend an act that most of society views as reprehensible just as there are Chareidi ones...

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  60. To CPBZ

    "...I think we need to do this because we are too afraid to confront the complexities involved in truth seeking...."

    BINGO!

    My thoughts exactly. I have always seen the Orthodox as AFRAID of Truth.

    When their belief is broadsided by knowledge or reason they work to redifine their ideas and re-continue dowm a path that again conceals the truth or tells the story the way that suits them best vs. what things actually are.

    They have a long history of running or covering up the Truth. One does not have to dig that deep into thier sefarim and commentary to see that.

    My problem is this can not be the path to God, God gave us the ability to know truth and pursue it.(If we choose)

    That is what confuses me about this blog's position and R. Slifkin. Is he in search of truth no matter it is or truth as long as it is not too far from what the Orthodox will tolerate?

    Shalom,

    Rabbi Simon

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  61. What's good for the gooseJanuary 18, 2012 at 10:08 PM

    I think we are too preoccupied with identifying sides of the fence. Let's just discuss Torah.

    Yeah, but whose Torah are you going to discuss? Hillel's or Shammai's? Rebbi Akivah's or Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai's?
    Rebbe Meir's or Elisha ben Avuyah's?
    The Rambam's? or the Tosafists?
    The Ralbag's or the Rashba's?
    Azzaria de Rossi's or the Maharal's?
    The Abarbanel's or the Arizal's?
    The Vilna Gaon's or the Baal Hatanya's?
    Rav Hirsch's or Rav Dovid Zvi Hoffman's?
    Rav Sonenfield's or Rav Kook's?

    The point is that problem of identifying the "sides of the fence" goes all the way through.

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  62. Yigal Amir must have been out of his mind. if only he had kept rallying, not shooting.

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