Tuesday, May 20, 2014

It's Time To Erase Amalek - From Daily Discourse

After I removed the two posts about the Kaplan Affair, I was inundated by emails asking/demanding clarification. Here is the explanation.

First of all, I want to give some background to how this story developed. Last Wednesday, I was sent the audio file by a friend who learned in top charedi yeshivos for many years. He described it as “absolutely terrifying” and said that “The only way to stop these sort of things is if the Mir get enough bad publicity that it’s not worth their while to allow them to continue.” I discussed it with a Rav who is in the charedi world, very politically savvy and sensitive, and he said that it has to get out.

Before going any further, I discussed it with two other friends who learned in the Mir for many years and who know R. Kaplan well (and they like him). They were also horrified by it and felt it was very important for it to be publicized. They were, however, concerned that I would be (non-physically) attacked for doing so, and warned that I should not be the one who blows the whistle, so I decided to hold off.

However, then I discovered that the story had already gotten out, in a review of shiurim by Joel Rich on Torahmusings.com, and in turn in a Facebook post by Rabbi Dr. Jeffrey Woolf. Both of them strongly condemned it. Since the story had already been broken by others, I posted about it. In my post I said very little, other than to transcribe the relevant parts of the audio, to briefly and accurately summarize it, and to express horror.

As the story started getting picked up by others, however, three things bothered me intensely. First was that while I felt very strongly that Rav Kaplan should be condemned for what he said, I also felt that he should not be condemned for what he didn’t say. There's plenty to condemn. There's the basic disgusting anti-Torah attitude, common to almost the entire charedi community in Israel and many in the US, that charedim have a right to be supported by the rest of Israel and not share in the burden of military service, and that anyone who feels otherwise can only be motivated by hatred of Torah. There's the shocking claim that Rav Steinman said that government ministers are classified as Amalek and deserve to be killed. There's Rav Kaplan's frightening and clear message that it is absolutely forbidden to doubt this. There's the appalling pride that he displays with his five-year-old, who is creatively looking for ways in which government ministers can be killed.

But Rav Kaplan did NOT say that, practically speaking, people should actually go ahead and kill them. On the contrary; from the outset, he said that people should not actually go ahead and do it. (According to his words, this is due to his simultaneously subscribing to the charedi approach of leadership paralysis.) Yes, what he said could lead to that, and the lesson that Rav Kaplan is imparting to his students and children is loathsome and dangerous. But that is not the same as telling people to actually go ahead and kill them, and nobody should claim that he said that.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what some people claimed. One blog commentator described him as a "murderer." No, he's not! His words might - unintentionally - lead someone to murder, which is (one of the many reasons) why they must be condemned; but he is not a murderer. Another blogger described him as “a rodef al pi Halacha.” No, he’s not!

As it reached the media, such distortions continued. The Israeli newspapers and the Jerusalem Post reported the story correctly, but the London Jewish Chronicle did not. Their article reported, without qualification, that Rabbi Kaplan “advocates killing ministers.” No, he didn’t!

Let Rav Kaplan face the music for things that he did say, not for things that he didn’t say. And a further problem with distorting what he said is that it allowed him and his defenders to respond that he never advocated actually killing ministers and that people are distorting his words. Which is true (contrary to some people's claim that he was lying) – but it enabled him to avoid taking responsibility for what he actually said. He did not say that people should actually kill them – he was clear from the outset that they shouldn’t. But he DID say that they are Haman and Amalek, and that they are therefore in principle worthy of being killed.

The second thing that bothered me was that this was being made into a story about Rav Nissan Kaplan. This is not to minimize what he did, but he is hardly the biggest problem in this area (especially as he since retracted and is grovelling with apologies). There is rhetoric about Amalek and suchlike coming from much bigger players than someone regarded as a young entertainer of harmless Americans. While Rav Steinman's spokesman denied that he said what Rav Kaplan attributed to him, there are other reports of Rav Steinman describing Lapid as Amalek and saying that the government should suffer in hell and have their names erased. It is true that Rav Steinman has explicitly qualified such statements by noting that the way to battle Amalek is by learning more Torah, but it is still a wrong and dangerous way to talk. And remember that Rav Steinman is a moderate compared to the likes of the Eidah Charedis, Satmar and Rav Shmuel Auerbach! (They have described Rav Steinman himself as Amalek due to his being too moderate, and one deranged follower attacked and nearly killed Rav Steinman)! Then there's Rabbi Shalom Cohen, the new rabbinic leader of Shas, saying that Jews who wear knitted kipot are Amalek - which he later clarified as "only" referring to the leaders of Bayit Yehudi and their supporters. Unlike with Rav Kaplan, these statements have not been retracted.

The third thing that bothered me, and the final straw, was how some people were presenting the way that the story played out. Although I did not post Rav Kaplan’s lecture on the internet (it was posted on his own website!), and although I was not the first or even the second to report what he had said, I was being portrayed as the person who was responsible for it getting out. Along with all this came accusations that I was causing irrevocable harm to Rav Kaplan, to the Mir, fanning the flames of hatred and causing discord in Israeli society with vast repercussions, etc. Put together with the first distortion, this meant that I was being accused of spreading a story that Rav Kaplan was telling people to actively go out and kill government ministers. Frankly, I didn’t have the stomach to deal with this. Since this is not my personal fight (except insofar as I detest the way that it has become acceptable to call one’s ideological opponents “Amalek,” as people have referred to me many times), I decided that I did not want to be personally involved any more. Besides, there were already enough people who had picked up on the story that it wasn’t necessary for me to be involved. So I took down my posts. IMPORTANT UPDATE: I just discovered that the story had in any case been sent to the press even before I wrote about it, so it was getting out regardless of anything I wrote.

Meanwhile, as reported in various media outlets, Rav Kaplan is frantically trying to save himself (or Rav Steinman?), expressing total remorse and claiming that he never heard anything from Rav Steinman about this, that he never had any conversation with his son about killing ministers with a hammer, and that he freely makes up false stories and incorrect views about very serious matters. Hopefully he has learned his lesson, but what about everyone else? What is really needed is a clear statement by the Mir, and even more so by the Israeli Charedi establishment, about whether they consider it acceptable to describe their opponents as “Amalek.” In my view, this is a word that should be erased from daily discourse. In light of the obligation to kill Amalek, it is simply far too offensive, loaded and dangerous a term to be used about anyone today.

245 comments:

  1. is it possible that Rabbi Kaplan is right? after all, the Vilna Gaon does say that the jewish people will be led by the erev rav and the amalekites at the end of days. I also know for a fact that Rav Shteinman has ruach hakodesh.

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    1. How exactly do you know "for a fact" that Rav Shteinman has Ruach HaKodesh? Just wondering.

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    2. Chatter around the Kool-Aid fountain?

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    3. Ruach HaKodesh meter..available as an app.
      See "SCiO: Your Sixth Sense. A Pocket Molecular Sensor For All !"

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    4. Yeah, but does he have midi-chlorians?

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    5. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4417647,00.html hmmm why did no one making a scandal of Rabbi Shteinman's words?

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    6. how do I know? I have friends who have spoken to him and he answered them knowing things he could not have possibly known without ruach hakodesh. joke all you want this is something well known in Israel. Likewise for Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, shlita

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    7. You should meet Derren Brown.

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    8. It's a pity that Rav Chaim Kanievsky's ruach hakodesh wasn't working when he attested that Elior Chen is a tzaddik.

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    9. > I have friends who have spoken to him and he answered them knowing things he could not have possibly known without ruach hakodesh. j

      It's called cold reading. You can do it too with a little practice.

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    10. I have witnessed it myself. it's definitely real. Rav Chaim also has a koach of giving brachas. but i wont say more. one has to see it to believe it

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    11. have met 5 other rabbis in Israel with such powers believe it or not. they can't see everything but some things they can. Example one such seer is in the Bucharim area. I walk in to his place. never met him there's a large crowd there. my turn comes and he asks me my hebrew name. then asks my father's name which he writes down. Then he looks at the paper briefly and writes my mother's name without asking me! He then proceeds to tell me things like that I have 1 mezuza in such ad such a room which is pasul. afterwards I hire a sofer to check all mezuzas and that mezuza indeed had problems. how can he "cold read" that which I myself don't know these things. I really believe this phenomena is real.

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    12. Yosef,
      As P.T. Barnum said, There's a su... minute.

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    13. Its amazing!! We have "Neviim" or people today with ruach haKodesh who are absolutely certain that their fellow Jewish brethren are Amalek. Yet these "neviim" for some reason deny that the words of our real neviim about the return to Eretz Yisrael, the landing yielding fruits in over abundance, and all the hundred of other verses which mention the signs of the beginning of the Geula etc arent being fulfilled every day right before our very eyes! But about who is Amalek that they are certain without a shadow of a doubt!

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    14. i know it sounds crazy but in Israel these things are more common. there are 1000s of eyewitness accounts by israelis on the powers of gedolim. recently they published 5 volumes of books on eyewitness accounts of rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu with many amazing stories. why is it so surprising? the Mesilas Yesharim even tells you how to get there.

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    15. I just found this if anyone wants to see some amazing samples of what they say about him http://dafyomireview.com/m_eliyahu.php there are many such stories about Baba Sali also. an israeli friend of mine told me first hand how he witnessed Baba Sali bless a bottle of wine and then the Gabai would pour the wine all day to hundreds of visitors and the bottle never emptied.

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    16. This is bogus. There is a real $1 million prize for showing clairvoyance, or ruach hakodesh. Why doesn't one of these many individuals with clairvoyance go and claim the prize? For tzedaka of course. Yes, the one million dollar prize is absolutely real, sponsored by the James Randi Foundation. You can read about it here: http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/1m-challenge.html

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    17. yosef--just to answer your question about R' Shteinman versus R' Kaplan--Kaplan went the extra mile with the story about his kid. Shteinman has always made it clear it's not a real physical war, but Kaplan went ahead and said he'd physically kill them if it weren't for lack of a decent general (hmmm... maybe they should get IDF training?) and then described it all to his son in physical terms with swords and hammers.and like a khamas dad thought it was cute to his son display desire for murdering Jews. Here's a kiss for every Jew you kill. See the difference? And although I am using hyperbole (right back atcha, R' Nissim), this is how readers viewed it and why it went viral more than most nasty kharedi comments.

      I was in R; Kaplan's shiur for half a year by the way, and always wore it as a badge of honor. Yuck.

      Ans ruakh hakodesh or not R' Shteinman's words are still nasty. Remember, bilam had n'vua and d'varim tells us that hashem will give powers to charlatans. Not saying I believe you, but even if true, there's other explanations besides pure tsidkut. A tsadik doesn't spend all his ts'daka money to rent an entire plane to L.A. instead of fling like normal human being. This is the pernicious influence of the worst of the khasidim and their materialism.

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    18. It's not just Rabbi Shteinman. Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef also held this, and even publicly put a curse on the government, beseeching God to destroy them all. I personally have heard shiurim here in israel from big rabbanim with far worse rhetoric. I hope the moderator won't delete this but I can see how Rabbi Kaplan was justified in his original words. Are we not commanded by the torah to follow our gedolim even if they tell you right is left or left is right? can an amora argue on a tana?

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    19. Eli, maybe because they don't want the worldwide publicity and the swarms of interviews by tv stations and scientists, etc. also they believe that whatever money designated from them or to tzedaka will anyways come since this is fixed rosh hashana,

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  2. "Since the story had already been broken by others, I posted about it."
    "IMPORTANT UPDATE: I just discovered that the story had in any case been sent to the press even before I wrote about it, so it was getting out regardless of anything I wrote."

    Last time I checked, doing an aveira is not okay just because everyone else does it.
    Neither is Revenge a mitzvah and you should spend more of your time on doing good rather than attacking evil.

    And if you do not post this... you are as bad as the people you complain about not posting yours.

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    1. Hey Fred, why is it an aveira? It's important to stop this kind of speech. And R. Kaplan already posted his lecture on the internet. R. Kaplan himself now admits that he did a terrible thing - and he was only made to realize this due to it being publicized.

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    2. 1) Last time I checked, what he did doesn't classify as an aveira. 2) Who said anything about revenge? 3) Last time I checked "sur m'ra" comes before "asei tov". 4) You should spend more of your time doing good rather than attacking the people who attack evil.

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    3. Check the chapter in the Chofetz Chaim on the Internet and blogging

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    4. "Last time I checked, doing an aveira is not okay just because everyone else does it."

      If you're suggesting that it's loshon horo, then you will be aware that once something is in the public domain, repeating it is not loshon horo.

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    5. When you find the chapter in Chofetz Chaim on Internet and blogging I'll check it out. But you're probably referring to where he says that Lashon Hara is even through writing (but it's not a whole chapter, it's just one halacha). I know that one, you should check out the chapter on Toeles, and the Halacha about information that is readily available to the public regardless of what you say.

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    6. It's an aveirah NOT to expose evil, and Kaplan has certainly advocated evil.

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    7. "Check the chapter in the Chofetz Chaim on the Internet and blogging"

      ROTF!!! The Chofetz Chaim died in 1933; the internet's predecessor the ARPAnet began operations in 1969.

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  3. i dont get it. kaplan makes stuff up about chareidi gedolim? he doesnt know that these stories have legs? and he has no problem admitting that he fabricates these stories -- even after he apologizes? he is coming off as not particularly intelligent. and he is a rebbi in mir, and people learn from him?! i dont know, this whole thing is so bizarre. can anyone make sense of this?

    Dave from Jerusalem

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    1. He didn't say that he made it up. He said that he heard it from some guy on the street.

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    2. He did say he made stuff up about his kid.

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    3. Before you make asinine comments about how intelligent he comes off, or how people can learn from him, you may want to make your way through the 5 volumes of Shalmei Nissan and his sefer on Birchas Chassanim. Or listen to his thousands of shiurim in halacha, gemara, etc. He has taught thousands of talmidim over the last 15 years and his contribution to Torah is staggering.

      Clearly, he made a mistake. But keep in mind, this was a mussar schmooze, not a shiur in practical halacha. He was trying to make a mussar point about fealty to Gedolim. The point was not the particular statement (many of which have been going around, as documented above.) You've never heard a story in a mussar schmooze or drasha of questionable veracity?

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    4. He heard it going around the same way we hear about it and read it on the news sites.
      http://www.bhol.co.il/article.aspx?id=57952

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    5. To give a source for the he-made-it up part with his son: http://www.jpost.com/Jewish-World/Jewish-Features/Rabbi-says-government-officials-should-in-theory-be-killed-promptly-retracts-remarks-352568

      "He also said he had never actually had the conversation with his child he mentioned in his lesson and that he had not met with Rabbi Shteinman for over six months."

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    6. '' SassMay 20, 2014 at 5:41 PM

      Before you make asinine comments about how intelligent he comes off, or how people can learn from him, you may want to make your way through the 5 volumes of Shalmei Nissan and his sefer on Birchas Chassanim. Or listen to his thousands of shiurim in halacha, gemara, etc. He has taught thousands of talmidim over the last 15 years and his contribution to Torah is staggering. ''

      And this is what makes his response all the more incredulous.

      Are we really supposed to believe that he never said such things with his son, that he was just joking etc etc.?

      Frankly it's plain insulting that he expects anyone to accept this 'apology.'

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    7. Sass - it is more than 'a mistake'. it belies his whole shittah of thinking.
      my son-in-law, who learned at the Mir, was shocked when I told him the story. He was a lot less shocked when he found out the name of the chappie who said it.

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    8. is it at all possible that Harav shteinman did indeed say this as seen in many publications and the link mentioned above? Rav Elchonon wasserman writes this from the chafetz chaim in his sefer kovetz ha'aros. This is nothing new. However, when the gabbaim of Rav Shteinman were asked about this, they denied having said it, for fear of legal implications, thus throwing rav kaplan under the bus. At this point, rav kaplan has a choice- to insist that they did indeed say it, (possibly transgressing mesirah) or to swallow it and accept that they arent backing him. Clearly Rav kaplan has taken the high road hear and accepts the blame on himself, taking responsibility. The fact is that "amaleik rhetoric is nothing new at all. The only questionable item here was the story about his child to prove a point. Anyone that has ever heard shiurim from rav kaplan knows that he embellishes to make a point. He is great at that. Sadly, he made a bad choice by using a child. In reality, ask any true chareidi if they would be proud if their child would want to enlist in the true war against amaelik, and the resounding answer would be "yes". Rav Kaplan has not said anything that the chareidi hashkafa disagrees with!

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    9. I agree 100%. the problem here is we are pitting Israeli charedi with the far tamer live and let live "tolerance-loving" american mentality.

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    10. Rabbi Kaplan said "some guy on the street" to cover Rabbi Shteinman this is obvious. everyone in Israel knows that the gedolim here have called the government amalek or erev rav. this has been going on for 50 years. only recently it has intensified due to the draft, etc.

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  4. He does not, and nor did Rashi. This whole notion of "ruach hakodesh" is borrowed from Catholicism and is now abused to give Rabbis the same infallible status as the Pope.

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    1. You are very confused.

      Nobody uses ruach ha'koidesh as an aspect of G-dliness (Elokus) or, chv"sh, G-d (Elokim), as, lehavdil, Christianity (not just Catholicism) does.

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    2. Anarchist Chossid: No, obviously he did not mean the way in which Christians refer to the "Holy Spirit," namely as one of the manifestations of their triune deity, but that's a distraction, a red herring you've thrown. Zev Chaim obviously responded to yosef at 4:23 PM, who rather shockingly said, "... I also know for a fact that Rav Shteinman has ruach hakodesh."

      So, one notes that you jump to correct Zev with an off-topic, pedantic point and totally ignore a rather theologically radical claim that Rav Shteinman is to be compared to very few and very special persons in Jewish history who are scripturally associated with the ruach ha kodesh; prophets, some kings and Israel from the time of the crossing of the Red Sea to the end of the Second Temple. It is this unsupported, inventive and casual connection of a favoured personage to the ruach ha kodesh that's very Christian in flavor.

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    3. I guess Rambam was a Catholic then :).

      (1) The first degree of prophecy consists in the divine assistance which is given to a person, and induces and encourages him to do something good and grand, e.g., to deliver a congregation of good men from the hands of evildoers; to save one noble person, or to bring happiness to a large number of people; he finds in himself the cause that moves and urges him to this deed. This degree of divine influence is called "the spirit of the Lord"; and of the person who is under that influence we say that the spirit of the Lord came upon him...

      http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/gfp/gfp132.htm

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    4. > It is this unsupported, inventive and casual connection of a favoured personage to the ruach ha kodesh that's very Christian in flavor.

      Maybe he knows from personal experience or accounts of others that Rav Shteinman has ruach ha'koidesh? I think it's unfair to suspect every person of Christian influences who uses some idea you disagree with and that is similar to what Christians believe in. Your yeshiva environment frowns upon Chassidic practice of going to the mikveh on Shabbos morning? Why, it's just like Catholic baptism! And shirayim is just like the communion. Etc.

      The Fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe writes that every time a village rav paskens whether a chicken is kosher or not, the etzem of his neshama experiences unity with its source, Atzmus v'Mahus Ein Sof, and just like a son knows what his father likes, the rav's neshama knows what Hashem's Will is at that moment and has ruach ha'koidesh to pasken according to Ratzoin Elyon. Even though the rav's conscious experience (and a necessary vessel for this process) is to use his intellect and education to find the right answer.

      So, whether or not you think the above concept is true or not, whether or not you think Kabbala is true or not, whatever you think about Chabad Rebbeim and Chassidus, do you really believe that when Rebbe Rashab wrote the above he was influenced by Catholicism?

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    5. Also, to make this statement is preposterous: "This whole notion of 'ruach hakodesh' is borrowed from Catholicism", even if you believe that over-ascribing of ruach ha'koidesh to modern personalities is influenced by Christian beliefs and practices.

      The "whole concept of ruach ha'koidesh" is firmly rooted in our tradition and doesn't derive from anything. It says about Dovid HaMelech that "Hashem was with him". It says that Megillas Ester was written with ruach ha'koidesh. There is the passage from Rambam brought above. Etc.

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    6. Anarchist Chossid (Re 10:10),

      Maybe he knows from personal experience or accounts of others that Rav Shteinman has ruach ha'koidesh?

      Really, maybe he knows? So, personal "experience" and second-hand anecdotal evidence is what it takes nowadays to confirm ruach ha kodesh, even in a case where it is not even clear whether a rav said something or didn't? A case where fellow Jews are made out to be Amalek? Is there any objective "quality control" to any of this?

      I think it's unfair to suspect every person of Christian influences who uses some idea you disagree with and that is similar to what Christians believe in.

      An off-topic blunderbus shot, but whatever. It would be unfair if that's what one were doing. But such is not the case; chronology and geography are important, as in the case of the schluessel challa and Lag b'Omer bonfires, both of which emerged at particular times and in specific locations among people already demonstrably predisposed by mystical ideologies similar to their neighbours'. Feel free to disagree; it's what makes this place here enjoyable.

      So, whether or not you think the above concept is true or not, whether or not you think Kabbala is true or not, whatever you think about Chabad Rebbeim and Chassidus, do you really believe that when Rebbe Rashab wrote the above he was influenced by Catholicism?

      Back to the basics: Zev did not accuse Rabbi Kaplan or Rav Shteinman of being under Catholic influence. His argument of Catholic influence is somewhat plausible in relation to the casual, by-the-seat-of-their-pants way country priests and apparently rural rabbis threw around specific and important theological concepts. More to the point: We have Rabbi K claiming Rav S said something which Rav S didn't own up to, which then Rabbi K claims to have made up or "heard from someone on the street," following which he...Rabbi K again... issues a denial and a tepid apology. Care to specify just where exactly you think the ruach ha kodesh" might conceivably rest in this sorry mess of whoppers and denials?

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    7. I don't care about rabbi K or S or any of that company. As far as I am concerned, they do not sound like people who have ruach ha'koidesh from their personal qualities.

      My point is that someone's beliefs that someone has insight into things granted to him by Hashem does not make him a Catholic inspiree. I don't know what sort of quality control you want over assertions of ruach ha'koidesh. A controlled double-blind experiment whose data are published in a peer-reviewed publication?

      I agree that going around, claiming that various people have ruach ha'koidesh sounds like Catholic practices. The same is true about insisting that you have a right to be paid by the government to sit around and study holy texts. The same is true about the behavior of Buddhist monks in medieval Japan, although they were hardly inspired by the Catholics. But:

      a) I don't think this similarity alone supposes that the two practices have any causal relationship,

      b) it was so shocking to read that "this whole notion of 'ruach hakodesh' is borrowed from Catholicism", that I gave Zevi Chayim benefit of the doubt and assumed he thought that ruach ha'koidesh is derived from Christian "holy spirit" (and Christian usage of the phrase that "holy spirit entered onto him", in which they actually meant that one of the three hypostases was invested onto a person).

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    8. Glad to see that you dumped Rabbis Kaplan and Shteinman from the list of the ruach ha kodesh-inspired, Anarchist Chossid. A good place this would have been to drop this matter, rather than switching targets to get upset at. You see, Zevi's charge, while debatable, is hardly outlandish; the people who routinely attain infallible status and whose pronouncements are assumed to be guided by God by virtue of position or status are usually called priests, not rabbis...that much Temujin knows. In any case, it's fairly safe to say that it's this infallibility of rabbinic authority that smacks of Catholicism to Zevi, not the "Jewishness" of ruach ha kodesh.. Someone who knows the philosophical meaning of the term hypostasis should be able to discern the difference.

      But if you think comparisons to Catholicism are something to get upset at, take a peak above at yosef's babblings (May 20, 2014 at 11:53 PM and on) where the poor fellow confuses the ruach ha kodesh with parlour trickery and "elevates" his favourite rabbis to witch-doctors and warlocks. Rather embarrassing that, so close to the top of the comments stream, should someone wonder on by...

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    9. I think Zevi might be making a distinction between the force of creativity and motivation in doing what is right and the idea that certain people have magical and supernatural powers and are as infallible as the pope.

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    10. David Ohsie: ramba"m is not describing in any way what is popularly called ruakh hokodesh by frum Jews. He is describing a motivating force, maybe guiding you along the right path, etc. ruakh hakodesh as these guys mean it (read yossef above) means being able to read minds, see invisible things (see through closed objects), know things that shouldn't be knowable, etc.

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  5. Moshe Dick writes:
    The sad truth is that this over-the-top language is quite common amomgst chareidim. I have just read a sefer that encompasses the letters of the late Munkatcher Rebbe, the "minchas Elozor" who was an implacable opponent of Zionists, religious zionists and the agudah too- and in all of his letters where he deals with any of his opponents, he routinely adds "jemach shemom vezichrom" (may their names and memories be erased). Today, this is still pretty routine amongst anti-zionists like the Satmar chassidim, so it is not a new addition. The novelty is that the so-called moderate chareidim,like the yeshiva world, was never so extreme ad avoided this dangerous name-calling.. About the only saving grace is the fact that Jews, by and large, have never been violent-although ,sadly,this may be changing. The concern for the chareidim should be that, by spreading the wind, they will inherit the whirlind. the world around them, especially in Israel, is not favorably disposed towards them. They may show bravura now and maintain that the government will ultimately back down. I think they are very mistaken.

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    1. y'makh sh'mam, though I'd hesitate it to use it against Jews I think are bad, is not in any way comparable to what R' Kaplan did (and isn't even comparable to comparing Jews to amalek). y"sh is our age-old, G-d please take care of these people if that's Your will, prayer. Nothing wrong with that. There's the Chicago Way and there's the Jewish Way.

      amalek is a different story because we were physically commanded to kill amalek, not just let G-d fight for us. The first would be to compare them to the mitsrim. hashem killed the mitsrim for us and we were never expected to physically cause harm. I understand these kharedim hopefully usually mean a spiritual struggle (like jihad for the 6 or 7 moderate Muslims), but then you see where Kaplan took it with his kid.

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    2. Moshe Dick writes:
      David-you are correct in saying that comparing jews to amalek is even more sinister and pernicious than saying "Jemach shemom"-which, at least , leaves the decision in the Almighty's hands (phew!). My point was that over-the-top oratory is quite common amongst the chareidim- and it breeds a dismissive tone that does not bode well for any rational discourse- witness the hulaballo about the draft law, with totally false accusations.

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    1. Jews truly are overgeneralizers. Like you and me.

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  7. "As it reached the media, such distortions continued. The Israeli newspapers and the Jerusalem Post reported the story correctly, but the London Jewish Chronicle did not. Their article reported, without qualification, that Rabbi Kaplan “advocates killing ministers.” No, he didn’t!"

    One the one hand I agree with you, on the other hand - it's bes hear. point. The real "story" is what people hear. And this is what they hear when a very religious guy with a beard - don't matter the religion - talks about violence and his enemies. It is GOOD that the JC understood it this way, it proves the point, that it hardly matters if he's prone to exaggeration and a bit of a clown. Why is it the rest of the world's job to understand the code and that he didn't really mean it? And they won't.

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    1. Sorry, I meant to write "it's besides the point."

      Delete
    2. I would add that he kind of does "advocate" it. He says his listeners should do it, but they need ot find a good general first (maybe one of those kharedim trained in the IDF?). Advocate isn't a legal term like incitement to murder. He doesn't incite to murder, even under Israel's lax protection of free speech, but I'd argue he does advocate it, intent or not.

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  8. Does anyone have a link to where he apologizes, never heard from R. Shteinman, etc.?

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    1. It's on his web site.

      http://ravkaplan.dafyomireview.com/aud/ravkaplan-response.mp3

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    2. Its not really an apology. He claims that people heard what they want to hear and he added that its absolutely assur to kill people. He does not mention Rav Steinman in the recording.

      Here is an excerpt from the recording:

      "Different people sometimes call things in my name...I never said different but people understand different so maybe I have to correct it. There is an issur to kill people. You are not allowed to kill no one. I am making it very klar.... I am saying it black and white there is an issur to kill. And it doesnt make a difference if the person is frum or not frum. If he's in the government or not in the government....We are not allowed to kill no one...I know its pashut...I never said different. But because I know some people are calling in my name different so I am saying it very clear the tafkid of a ben torah is to sit and learn and not chas v'shalom decide that if someone doesnt hold like him he could take a gun or a stick or stone and throw on him to try and change his mind... I never said different..some people have some problems with their ears and they hear what they want to hear."

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    3. Brooklyn Refugee SheygitzMay 21, 2014 at 12:47 PM

      what language is that?

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    4. It's New York-ese, you should know that Brooklyn Refugee.

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    5. RK was raised in Israel by American parents. He speaks foreigner's English.

      Delete
  9. Sass: I listened to shiur of Rabbi Kaplan on Sukkah 2a, and was very favorably impressed. While a bit repetitious, it was clear, displayed considerable knowledge, and was on a high intellectual level. I particularly liked his analysis of the debate between Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam regarding "hamsa merubah mi-tzilsa." He is clearly an intelligent person. BUT when it comes to matters of hashkafah, he is quite primitive. I listened to his entire talk on Parshat Tzav, and setting to the side the disgusting comments about the government ministers being like Amalek and the ancient misyavnim, the entire talk seemed to me to be on a rather low intellectual level. His recorded apology was pathetic and barely literate. Twice he said. "You shouldn't kill nobody." He should stick to Gemara and Halahkah.

    Lawrence Kaplan

    LawrenceKaplan

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    1. Dr. Kaplan,
      I think it's silly for you to harp on the grammatical mistakes in his shiurim or in his apology, because He is an Israeli and English is not his first language. (I think he was born in America and moved to Israel as a baby.) [So you're likely tell me that English wasn't the Rav's first language either. To which I would respond that the Rav lived in America for his entire adult life; second, Rav Nissan likely doesn't see the value in perfect grammar the way the Rav did; and third, if your standard is the Rav, I don't think it's any chisaron in Rav Nissan Kaplan that he doesn't speak English with the elegance of the Rav.]

      Either way, I don't believe the Torah content of his shiurim is minimized or impacted by his imperfect grammar. You sound awfully pretentious and nitpicky criticizing an Israeli magid shiur for grammatical mistakes in English shiurim. Just saying.

      As far as the talk on Parshas Tzav, this is a weekly mussar schmooze, not some philosophical treatise. His goal isn't to sound intellectual, it's to motivate American bochurim in the Mir to learn more.

      Delete
    2. Brooklyn Refugee SheygitzMay 21, 2014 at 12:54 PM

      I disagree. It is a lack of kavod hatorah and a violation of the dicta of chazal about speaking clearly and engagingh properly with other people, not to be able to deliver the torah lessons in at least a somehwat properly spoken format in the language of the lesson.
      I studied under European roshei yeshiva who swicthed over from Yiddsih to either English or Hebrew and they made a great effort to prperly preapre and deliver their shiurim so that they were comprehensible and correct in the spoken language. Others just stayed with yiddish because they couldn't do this.

      I don'y know but I suspect that the rosh yeshiva in question actually only has marginal fluency in each of the langauges he uses - hebrew, english, yiddish and aramaic

      Delete
    3. Sass: I think it's interesting that Lawrence is comparing how he speaks in his two types of shiurim. I tend to agree. I wa sin his shiur at the Mir. But we only ;learned g'mara. I know him as a lamdan not a khakham. I think it's really interesting if that's also reflected in a different language use for hashkafa and for learning. They are to very different skill sets or abilities. I also have two rabanim, one for halakha and one for hashkafa. They might do as both in a pinch, but each has his own expertise.

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  10. What I don't understand is if people are so secure in their opinions that it is not Amalekite like then why get so incensed when someone describes it as Amalekite like. Words evolve with different connotation and in the Charedi world it is not taken as literally as you would like to suggest. In the Bible it means deserving of death and complete destruction but in local parlance it can be described as anything not in accordance with local opinion. You have placed too much weight on a concept that does not deserve it. In mussur shmussen a person can have internal thoughts that are described as Amalekite like and the concept has expanded to include feelings and ideas. There is nothing nefarious about using the term and in my opinion someone who takes offense to the term being generally applied is overly sensitive to the literal meaning of the term and not familiar with the Charedi culture. Words have evolved meaning and loses the deep emotional hatred usually associated with it. It is a description of disgust, sure, but not one of violence. The secular world uses all kinds of words to describe their disgust with Charedim (.I.e vermin, parasites, lazy, backward etc.) but no one gives a hoot. Why are those ok to say but not when someone speaks "Yehsivish reid"?

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    1. "Amalek" hasn't changed it's meaning. How can it, when we listen to Parshas "Zochor" every year?

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    2. Do you know of any living Amalekim today that it can mean it literally? Or course not - there hasn't been any practical application of this Mitzvah for thousands of years. Your question only proves my point that it is an idea to internalize and not referring to be mekayim any real aspect of killing.

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    3. The fact that we listen to "Parshas Zochor" every year keeps "Amalek" on our minds and the mitzvah of destroying Amalek does not recede. The only reason we don't have the mitzvah to destroy Amalek in the present is as you said. We don't know who Amalek is. If a gadol who has stature in the Chareidi community gets up and says this person or this group is Amalek, it is a very small step from that to someone acting on it. "Amalek" is therefore a loaded word. It is a much more dangerous word than "Sonei Yisrael"

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    4. So because nowadays lots of people use nazi with impunity (eg "grammar nazi") I shouldn't be offended if my rav calls me a nazi?

      Delete
    5. No one gives a hoot if someone calls Jews vermin? Are you kidding (parasites is inflammatory but describes an organism living off another and has some descriptive purpose at least)?

      As to amalek, you are so wrong as others point out. But actually, to support you, nobody gave a hoot at all the rabanim kharedim who call every Yankel, Shmulik, and Velvel amalek. It wasn't until R' Kaplan went the extra mile, G-d bless his soul, and advocated physically killing government ministers (yes I disagree with R'; Slifkin as to whether he advocated it), decried lack of kharedi leadership to lead the physical fight, and gave his son a kiss for suggesting that R' Kaplan himself heed the clarion call and came up with the creative idea of using hammers instead of swords against government ministers. Plus a hammer is a messier death--two birds with one stone.

      What's the difference between American and Israeli kharedim? Israeli kharedim own hammers. (And now we know why.)

      Delete
  11. I'm glad you took it down, but it was a mistake to have posted about it in the first place, and this might be in the category of מעות לא יכול לתקון. Your blog is much more popular than a facebook posting or an audio buried in Joel Rich's weekly list of audio links. We live in a prosecutorial age in which free speech has lost much of its meaning. Almost anything can be called "incitement" הסתה , a concern voiced by many, This has to be fought and reversed, but in the meantime, prudence dictates that we not publicize things we know that others will use as a club. R. Kaplan's words, as stupid as they were, were not going to "inspire" ANYONE to commit murder, and you darn well know it. If he goes to jail over this, God Forbid, you'll have to shoulder part of the blame.

    In areas actually concerned with Rationalist Judaism the blog is great, keep it up.

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    1. DF, didn't your read the post? It was on its way to being publicized anyway.

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    2. I would be proud, personally, to have been a part of his being put in jail. That's exactly where those who incite violence belong.
      hilarious, DF, how you would blame R. Slifkin for R. Kaplan going to jail, and not blame R. Kaplan and the society that he is a part of / that he shapes for R. Kaplan going to jail.

      Blame the perp, twerp. Not the whistleblower.

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    3. DF -
      Well said. I agree wholeheartedly. This is something that should not have been publicized. And the claim that it would have gotten out anyway is hard to believe. It had been on his website for nearly two months, and no one noticed, until it was widely publicized here and picked up by False Messiah.

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    4. Wrong. It was noticed by Joel Rich, and it spread from there. The press received it at the same time I did (and not from me).

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    5. You are correct that it was noticed by Joel Rich, but it was buried deep in his audio roundup, without a summary of the Amalek part. It was your post that was quoted by FailedMessiah and Harry Maryles. It is reasonable to conclude that your post was the main driver in this story becoming public.

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    6. The blogs got it from me. But the press got it from the same person who sent it to me. And the blogs would have gotten it from the press a day later anyway.

      Delete
    7. ". R. Kaplan's words, as stupid as they were, were not going to "inspire" ANYONE to commit murder"

      You deny the holy words of the Netziv?

      ופירשנו שהיו צדיקים וחסידים ועמלי תורה, אך לא היו ישרים בהליכות עולמים. על כן, מפני שנאת חנם שבלבם זה אל זה, חשדו את מי שראו שנוהג שלא כדעתם ביראת ה' שהוא צדוקי ואפיקורס. ובאו על ידי זה לידי שפיכות דמים בדרך הפלגה, ולכל הרעות שבעולם, עד שחרב הבית.
      (פתיחה להעמק דבר- בראשית)

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    8. So help me understand this. My comment was: A must listen for those who think that the reports of Chareidi Yeshivot/chinuch antipathy towards the government of Israel is overstated.
      Was this assesment inaccurate?
      Does the speaker's torah knowledge (which is why I listen to his shiurim) reduce the impact of the comments (or does it increase them)?
      What is the percieved impact of such comments on the listner (in shiur or outside)?
      Are these comments part of a pattern of comments that one would hear listening to R' Kaplan on an ongoing basis (his mussar shiurim are available on line, I generally don't report on comments such as these in my summaries, I just found these to be so egregious that I felt people should listen and decide on their own)?
      Are historical concerns about dehuminization not applicable in the current case?

      KT
      Joel Rich

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  12. I think a lot of the extreme rhetoric that comes from the yeshiva world stems from the fact that they are so thoroughly insulated from reality, so preoccupied with theoretical halacha, that they often forget that words ACTUALLY MEAN THINGS and can impact REALITY. (Ironically, the same problem affects academia.)
    It's always amusing to see a yeshiva guy talking about "evil goyim", then groveling with politeness when he actually runs into one!

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    1. There is truth to part of this, but only part.

      It is true that the yeshiva world is attenuated from reality. That is why they are able to make the idiotic comments about "goyim" that they so often do. On the other hand, aren't they merely applying the Halacha? The Gemara says many awful things about akum, and halacha treats all non Jews as if this was still 1500 years ago, and they were still worshipping stars and idols. So we can blame the yeshiva world, but we have to do some soul searching over the state of halacha too.

      As for words impacting reality - yes, they can, but only in limited cases. In this particular case, Nissin Kaplan's blathering comments, to Americans, were going to be ignored. Yes they were stupid, but stupidity is not a crime. In our age though, such comments are wrongly being treated as though they were actually a crime, and thus it was irresponsible for a popular blog like this publicize it.

      If there's a silver lining here, its that maybe this brush with the law is a wake-up call to stop speaking of other Jews as though they were Amalek. NOT because it might actually lead to violence, but because its stupid and misguided and unbecoming.

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    2. DF - Look at Artscroll's introduction to Tractate Avodah Zarah. It brings down many acharonim who say that the vast majority of negative things the Talmud says about non-Jews only apply to the non-Jews of that time period.

      Delete
    3. DF: how does halakha treat non-Jews the way you describe? The truth is that we are practically living like the m'iri, that avoda zara is only a problem for goyim if they commit obscenities in the name of the foreign god. But as to not drinking booze with them, eating with them, etc., intermarriage is much more of an issue now than it ever was in the days of khaza"l.

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  13. One of the best examples in recent history of real teshuva, meaning going far beyond merely apologizing was actually done by a non-Jew. The person involved was John Profumo who was Minister of Defense in the British government in the Conservative government of the 1960's. While he was a minister and a member of Parliament, he got involved with a young women while he was married at the same time. In addition was the fact that the women had previously been involved with a man attached to the Soviet Embassy. He then lied about it in public. Thus, there was not only a matter of ethics, but there was a possibility of damage to British national security, although a later investigation found not evidence of this actually happening. In spite of the fact that Profumo was in a very high position which left him in the fast-track to reaching the very top as Prime Minister, he immediately resigned, dropped out of public life and spent the rest of his long life (he died in 2006) cleaning toilets in a soup kitchen. This in spite of the fact that he was born to a prominent wealth family. He also never spoke to the media again, so he didn't try to go around telling everyone what a tzaddik he was since he took responsibility. Thus, he didn't try to get any personal benefit by "coming clean", only clearing his own conscience. I think this is a real example for everyone who needs to cleanse himself of public transgressions, more just calling a press conference and confession, something everyone will forget and then having things go on like they did before. Food for thought.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Profumo

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    1. Profumo was the last surviving MP from the 1940 House of Commons ; he had actually been elected in March of that year in a special election while serving in the British Army. His first important vote was to fire Neville Chamberlain, a vote he cast while on a short leave from duty -- this despite he was a member of Chamberlain's party and by casting that vote risking his entire political career! Profumo seems like a case of a basically good person who made one terrible, terrible mistake -- and the magnitude of that mistake was brought home last year when Christine Keeler finally admitted to working as part of a spy ring even before she hooked up with Profumo.

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    2. side point -- the underage woman later made a slapdash comedy we must have all seen: the mad adventures of rabbi Jacobs (playing the love interest, of course)

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  14. why you picked on him is beyond me. you gave the impression to thousands that this is only Rabbi Kaplan. in truth the entire Haredi sector in Israel has been speaking far worse rhetoric than this about the government. I have heard big Rabanim publicly calling for fire and brimstone on the Israeli government and that this war started 100 years ago. As for Rabbi Shteinman's words, how about giving an english link such as this http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4417647,00.html

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    1. I think r slifkin repeatedly tried to make this about the charedi world and not r Kaplan so I have no idea what you're talking about

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    2. true but people are not going to read his words like a tosfos. inevitably many readers unfamiliar with israeli society will not see it as he wished, and certainly for non-jews who published the story worldwide. this is in fact what happened. made a tremendous chilul Hashem,

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    3. Despite Adi, I think that R' Kaplan did way worse. He did not just call on hashem to rain fire and brimstone down on our enemies. That's totally normal Jewish response (even if I hesitate to call hashem's wrath on Jews no matter what I think of their actions). That's also harmless--for atheists, eh. For the rest of us, we know that hashem won't act unjustly because some jerk asked him to. But Kaplan advocated physical attack, decried the leadership for such physical attack, and favored his son for thinking creatively about physical weapons to use against government ministers.

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  15. Sass: You have misleadingly made it appear that all I did was criticize R. Kaplan for the low level of his literacy. In truth that was just one sentence of my post. I praised his Gemara shiur at some length and criticized the low intellectual level of his talk which seems to me more like a paraha ha-shavua talk with a strong mussar component than a mussar shmooz pure and simple. Perhaps I was, as you say, overly picky in criticizing his use of the double negative. Would that that was the only thing wrong with his apology and his talk! Again, he should go with his strength and stick to giving Gemara shiurim. The real question is how such an obviously intelligent man, who when it comes to Gemara is capable of sophisticated intellectual analysis, should express himself so primitively and ofensively in matters of hashkafah.

    Lawrence Kaplan

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    1. Well you answer your own question. They are just two completely different areas of the brain for many people. That's how brilliant people can still vote for Democrats. Or give pidyon to Chasidische rebbeim.

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  16. As a former Mir student, I would just like to place Rabbi Kaplan's words in the correct context. I consider myself Modern Orthodox, and learned in a Hesder Yeshivah before attending the Mir for a year. When I arrived, many people there told me about Rabbi Kaplan's exaggerations, so that I would not be shocked by his opinions. In fact one fellow talmid explicitly said (roughly quoted) "He says certain things for shock value, but everyone knows he doesn't really believe what he says." While the pedagogical method employed by Rabbi Kaplan is questionable (and perhaps even more than that), I think that this does shed some light on his recent comments. This is why I was completely unsuprised by his comments as well as why I believe (what must seem as a bizarre explanation) his claims that he made up the story and wasn't accurately transmitting Rav Shteinmam's words.

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    1. As a student, what does it do to your respect for your rebbe to hear that he routinely makes up untrue stories and spouts philosophies he doesn't truly believe? What does it do to your respect for his Torah? Or for any of the other rebbeim in that yeshiva?

      I'm more concerned that such a lecture could lead to a jaded cynicism among the students than that it would provoke anyone to commit an assassination.

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    2. He wasn't my rebbe. I can divorce his Torah from his Hashkafa, which is how I survived in the Mir at all. That he is prone to exaggeration is more of a personal didactic tactic, which while I think it foolish, is relatively common amongst academics and teachers.

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    3. Yes, we see it is common, just look at Michael Broyde. I'm still disappointed that so many Modern Orthodox think his "exaggerations" (aka "lies") were no big deal. Integrity ought to be an important part of Torah scholarship, as Y. Ben-David points out below.

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  17. I think that much good has come out of this. Charedim across the board have learned that they have to dial down their rhetoric.

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  18. I have heard from inside info that the big donors at the Mir have been offended and this has dealt a major financial blow to the Mir.

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    1. Great! They will give their money to more worthy and more suitable causes.

      Delete
    2. the Mir yeshiva is one of the pillars of the world. you obviously are an am haaretz or worse.

      Delete
    3. "the Mir yeshiva is one of the pillars of the world"

      No it isn't. It trains people to be incapable and undesiring of contributing towards society and the economy. (That's why it's in such massive debt.) And students in the Mir have zero responsibilities and obligations.

      "you obviously are an am haaretz or worse."

      Worse? Like what? Amalek?

      Delete
    4. the gemarah says someone who says mai ahani lan rabanan (what do talmidei chachamim do for us) is an apikorus.

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    5. yeah an apikorus... that's right, but the gemorrah's use of the term is NOT the way it is used today. in fact the definition of an apikorus in the gemorrah is one who disrespects talmidei chachomeim.

      your comment then becomes a tautology

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    6. "I have heard from inside info that the big donors at the Mir have been offended and this has dealt a major financial blow to the Mir."

      I sincerely hope so.

      If the roshei yeshiva refuse to get their rabbeim to behave, then it's up to the people who support them financially. Money talks. It's just sad that the philanthropists seem to have a better handle on basic mentchlichkeit than do the rabbeim in the yeshiva they're supporting. Olam hafuch.

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  19. Sass: "He was trying to make a mussar point about fealty to Gedolim."

    It worked (although not perhaps in the way he intended)

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  20. This has to be fought and reversed, but in the meantime, prudence dictates that we not publicize things we know that others will use as a club.

    I respectfully disagree - this sort of public scrutiny is the only way that this sort of speech can actually be fought and reversed.

    R. Kaplan's words, as stupid as they were, were not going to "inspire" ANYONE to commit murder, and you darn well know it.

    Well, at least no-one in reasonable mental health, in a normal set of circumstances. I'm less certain than you are that in the current stressed environment, there are no self-deluded Pinchasim out there.

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    1. this attitude stems from the chareidi israeli public. and they have been saying this for over 100 years. crucifying Rabbi Kaplan is not going to accomplish anything except a big kitrug on klal yisrael and all those who did not judge him favorably.

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  21. McCarthy-
    I apparently was very naive when I first became religious when I thought observant people believed the Torah was TORAT EMET, and that people who spend hours upon hours dissecting the exact meaning of every word they encounter would weigh every word they spoke or heard. My first shock came when someone told me that it is permitted to claim that some prominent scholar said something he didn't really say if the result is that the listener would thus do "the right thing" which he may not have done if he didn't hear that it supposedly came from the respected scholar whose name was appropriated. Apparently this is quite common leading to the consequence that no can believe what people say any more within that community. Thus, TORAT EMET is thrown out the window. Not at all what I expected from devoutly religous people.
    The other shock was when I saw people who studied everything intently, learning to weigh many different opinions and to cooly analyze situations but who would then use extremely violent language and openly encourage extreme emotions and even hatred in their audience against various opponents instead of encouraging a dispassionate analysis of the issues involved.. I see I was wrong in what I believed I would encounter as I entered the religious world and it has been very disturbing to see the gap between my expectations and the reality.

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    1. My first shock came when someone told me that it is permitted to claim that some prominent scholar said something he didn't really say if the result is that the listener would thus do "the right thing" which he may not have done if he didn't hear that it supposedly came from the respected scholar whose name was appropriated.

      I first encountered this idea in Rav Aryeh Kaplan's book, "The Handbook of Jewish Thought." I found it odd at the time, and then later on after much research on various subjects of halacha I came to the conclusion that I pretty much can't trust modern religious sources because their methodology is to always justify whatever the current practice / chumrah is and call it halacha. Or at least that's the impression I've got over the past few years.

      Delete
    2. What's scary is if you think... Well are we really so different now than 100 years ago 200, etc.? It's a rabbit hole I can't go down. My emunat khaza"l is based on y'ridot hadorot.

      Delete
  22. I think it's pretty clear that those who are opposed to the publicizing of this story would also be opposed to publicizing a child molester (lehavdil). After all, it will hurt his institution, it will make a terrible chillul Hashem...

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    1. This is clearly an inapt comparison. A child molester is a clear, present and ongoing threat to children. Rav Nissan Kaplan's words were theoretical comments, which were clearly never intended to encourage actual violence. (As far as Pookie's comments above that "I'm less certain than you are that in the current stressed environment, there are no self-deluded Pinchasim out there." I don't think American boys spending the year in the Mir are suffering from that many stresses...)

      I think it's reasonable to weigh the potential damage to the institution against the potential damage that could result from the remarks. In this case, the latter would have been nil, and as such, it would be reasonable to not make a public splash about his remarks. Again, no comparison whatsoever to a child molester, in which clearly it's a mitzva lefarsem to save the children.

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    2. First of all, you never know what a crazy person could do after hearing such things. Second, even if no violent act is committed, there is harm done merely by the fact of his saying such things in a shiur. It's a terrible message to be teaching his students.

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    3. I don't think American boys spending the year in the Mir are suffering from that many stresses...

      Agreed, but the political situation in Israel is pretty tense, and teenagers can be excitable.

      We're probably only disagreeing about the probabilities, and all I have are my impressions, so I'm happy to leave it at that.

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    4. "Rav Nissan Kaplan's words were theoretical comments, which were clearly never intended to encourage actual violence. "

      Read the Netziv again.

      Delete
  23. > … I detest the way that it has become acceptable to call one’s ideological opponents “Amalek,”

    I recently read a book about the founding of Israel, and one thing that jumped out at me was how the various Jewish factions in (what was then) Palestine freely and frequently called each other Nazis and accused each other of collaborating with the Germans. Before, during, and after the war.

    I think it may be not so much a Chareidi thing as a general Israeli thing.

    > Along with all this came accusations that I was causing irrevocable harm to Rav Kaplan, to the Mir,

    It’s never the fault of the person who does something wrong, only the fault of the person who makes it known. Or is it that they don’t see anything wrong with what he said?

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    1. "the various Jewish factions in (what was then) Palestine freely and frequently called each other Nazis"

      Precisely. Yet today, prosecutors could easily use the Incitement law to jail someone for using that term. After all, one can easily envision some vigilante rushing out to engage in street justice for the "Nazi"....

      The whole law is a blight on the concept of free speech, and ought to be repealed immediately.

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    2. Agreed on the silliness of the law, but I'm surprised that you're advancing that argument to support your belief that Rabbi Slifkin should be censoring himself.

      To be clear, I don't think Rabbi Kaplan's goal was incitement, but I do think his sermon very accurately reflects the chareidi world's knee-jerk hostility to the State of Israel. Cynical grump that I am, I think his subsequent grovelling owes more to financial pressure than an actual change of heart, but either way, publicizing his comments has had only a positive impact.

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    3. what book were you recently reading??

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  24. G*3-
    Unfortunately, this verbal violence is acutally a Galut JEWISH thing. It seems that was the pervasive culture that was brought here from Europe and the Middle East. Zionism is supposed to cure us of these Galut characteristics, and has been partially, but not completely successful in this endeavor.
    Just read Yossi Sarid's writings, for example. His tone and manner of writing is no different than the religious extremists use. Ideology does not make people good, and religion can be just another, interchangeable ideology. What is important is good midot/character. It was common in the past that people grew up in religious families and received a religious education yet who went over to the Communists and some were active in the viciously anti-Jewish Yevsektsia. They merely went from one form of extremism to another. Fanatics of all ideologies, even conflicting ones, will have common patters of behavior....intolerance of dissenting opinions, verbal violence, use of falsehoods to persuade doubters, delegitimizing of opponents, ad hominem attacks instead of direct addressing of opponents arguments and so on. It is easier for a fanatic to suddenly shift to a radically opposing ideology from his initial one than to become a moderate, tolerant person.

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  25. The condemnation of hateful name-calling and other exaggerations applies to past and present religious leaders as well as to lower-level figures. Such language and expressions demean the speakers. They may incite followers, but have little direct effect on their targets. It's sad, indeed, when religious figures stoop to the level of pandering politicians. Why should independent thinkers retain any respect for them? As to someone apparently known for his exaggerations and lies, why is he not in the category of a fool despite his reputed talmudic knowledge?

    Y. Aharon

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  26. The Smolanim constantly incite MURDER of Religious Jews and in fact have commited such acts both spiritually and physically, yet him calling them out and referring to them as "amalek" is the worse offense? Really? Who's side are you on? Are you a jew or a Hellinist? Do you celebrate Hannukah because the victory of Hannukah was against the "Jewish" Hellinists first and foremost.

    JJ

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    Replies
    1. Really? Because nothing we say on Hanukkah (whether Al Hanissim, Maoz Tzur, etc) references the Hellenists at all, only the ruling Greeks. Did they have the help of Jewish Hellenists? Sure. But that doesn't happen in a vacuum, and the liturgy at least places the blame on the cultural powerhouse that unfortunately led some of our brothers astray.
      You want to blame somebody in today's world? Blame the Communists, not the poor Smolani shmendricks who got caught up in their tidal wave.

      Delete
    2. when was a chareidi murdered?

      Delete
    3. And I've never once heard or read anything from a Smolani that would incite anyone to MURDER of religious Jews. Hatred, certainly. Murder?

      Delete
  27. There is one problem with the view that Rabbi Kaplan was exaggerating, and that is his, not enough discussed, conversation with the taxi driver. Rabbi Kaplan told the taxi driver that the present government ministers are like the ancient misyavnim and that theoretically we ought to kill them. The taxi driver replied "Maybe it is not the same-- that is, you are exaggerating! Rabbi Kaplan told his students that that expression of doubt on the part of the taxi-driver is an expression of Amalek. So the point of the shiur is that if you, like the taxi-driver, doubt my seriousness and think I was just exaggerating for effect, you, like him, have been infected by the spirit of Amalek.

    Lawrence Kaplan

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    Replies
    1. I agree. I think he meant his words at the time. just not in the sick way everyone interpreted it. He meant to say that he accepts Rav Shteinman's assessment that they are in fact amalek. What is so bad about that? doesn't the vilna gaon say the jews will be led by amalek b4 Moshiach? chareidim in israel truly believe the government's hidden agenda is to destroy torah and have gay marriages and all the other abominations. I personally thing there is truth to this. the state of israel has been violently trying to uproot torah since its inception. this is not a new war just now that have an agressive new general - Lapid

      Delete
    2. yosef, destroying tora and having gay marriages are not the same thing. The truth is that the government is neutral to tora. It doesn';t want to destroy ti and doesn't want to fund it. kharedi entitlement is pretty gross. And while I pray the Jewish State never has homsoexual marriages, I don't think ti's a secret that much of the government would support it. That's not a "hidden agenda" it's a public agenda. But is unrelated to a desire to destroy tora. You have to care enough about something to want to destroy it.

      But do kharedim believe that? Sure, probably. They have an obscurantist view of the world. Like the Arabs. It serves them in good stead, sadly, because they are always vigilant unlike us fattened y'shurun,

      Delete
  28. **The blogs got it from me. But the press got it from the same person who sent it to me. And the blogs would have gotten it from the press a day later anyway**

    and who is this person

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  29. ''...Then there's Rabbi Shalom Cohen, the new rabbinic leader of Shas, saying that Jews who wear knitted kipot are Amalek - which he later clarified as "only" referring to the leaders of Bayit Yehudi and their supporters."

    I believe it was R' Ovadia Yosef ztz"l who "clarified" R' Cohen's statement

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    1. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef himself said publicly about the Bayis Yehudi - it's a Bayis of Goyim who want to destroy the torah.

      Delete
    2. as seen here http://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Shas-spiritual-leader-Bayit-Yehudi-is-house-of-goyim

      Delete
    3. here's a quote from the jpost "Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef on Saturday evening attacked Bayit Yehudi (Jewish home) as a "house for goyim" that religious Jews should not vote for. Speaking during his weekly sermon, Yosef said that Bayit Yehudi wanted to "uproot the Torah, have civil marriages and public transportation on Shabbat. What kind of religious are these. They should not be called religious and they should not be voted for."

      Delete
    4. Can't imagine r' yosef calling anything a "bayis"--dude thought ashk'nazim were idiots for pronouncing Hebrew like that. Ans that's a far cry from calling them amalek, whcih si what r' kohen did.

      Delete
    5. My point was only that R' Cohen himself did not apologize or explain his words

      Delete
  30. Why is everyone so up in arms?Kaplan who btw, is a bright fellow, and a real talmid chochom, said something foolish.None of the yeshiva boys, thought that he meant it even remotely literally.This was said in a less rigid, more informal setting.This was not the type of ideological lesson meant to be broadcast everywhere and be understood at face value.Anyone who has learned in yeshiva knows that.
    Kaplan is a good guy, who has learned an important lesson about being more careful about what he says in the future.

    Joe in Brooklyn

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    Replies
    1. I agree with Joe, this whole thing was blown way out of proportion. The Charedim have been calling the government amalek for over 50 years and everyone in israel knows that it just means they are fighting to secularize israeli society.

      Delete
  31. Rabbi Kaplan clarified his position, and use of hyperbole, in a later talk which has been posted online by Rabbi Eliyahu Fink on his, Rabbi Fink's, website. http://finkorswim.com/2014/05/20/what-rabbi-nissan-kaplan-really-believes/

    I didn't hear the original audio in context but I am certain that Rabbi Kaplan didn't not actually mean it as some people are understanding him. Rabbi Kaplan uses extreme hyperbole as a rhetorical tool to make a point and 95% of his audience knows this and understands it as such (I certainly did).

    While I think this method is ill-advised in modern times, it has been used in Rabbinic discourse since the Talmud. Chazal used this method too (think about Chazal's words about a person who stops learning to apprectiate the beauty of a tree).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rabbi Kaplan uses extreme hyperbole as a rhetorical tool to make a point...While I think this method is ill-advised in modern times, it has been used in Rabbinic discourse since the Talmud.

      So then, can we learn from this, for example, that tossing an effigy of Minister Naftali Bennett on a Lag b'Omer pyre in Tiberias to educate the young...say, perhaps about how the Crusaders used to burn the Rhineland Jews...might also be ill-advised in these overly-squeamish modern times?

      Delete
    2. My issue with using this kind of rhetoric in modern times is not squeamishness, but the possibility that the message might be misunderstood.

      Delete
    3. "While I think this method is ill-advised in modern times, it has been used in Rabbinic discourse since the Talmud. Chazal used this method too (think about Chazal's words about a person who stops learning to apprectiate the beauty of a tree)."

      Please cite this Chazal and compare it to Rabbi Kaplan's comments. There is absolutely no comparison.

      Delete
    4. I am not saying that what Chazal wrote and what Rabbi Kaplan said are equivalent. I am saying that Chazal used exaggerated language (by implying such a person is worthy of death) to highlight problems where one might have not realized that there was a problem at all.

      That statement from Chazal is not the only one, there are plenty such statements.

      Delete
    5. Thank benignuman, that's an excellent point I had not thought of. When I learn g'mara I never imagine these things to be literal, but they often say a person deserves to be killed for this or that. Think about the guy who ate dinner with his nida wife and after he died tragically the rabbis told his wife he was a rasha and he died because he ate with her while she was nida.

      I would say the difference is I wouldn't teach my five-year-old son these sugyot and I don't think khaza"l ever expected little kids to be learning them. The g'mara was meant for the elite educated. Even if meant that they would literally learn these sugyot, the Talmud itself speaks of 15-year-olds learning the sugyot. And I kinow in my y'shiva we would have skipped some of these until you were mature enough to go into the bet midrash.

      But you can learn a lot from R' Kaplan then--how we really shouldn't take any of these maamare khaza"l literally. It's kind of ironic that the person who would probably drive a spear through me for saying that is the one who best understands the use of fiction and hyperboles in talks.

      Delete
  32. If the FailedMessiah blogger thinks it was important to post this, rest assured that you did the right thing by deleting the post.

    joe

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    1. the other blog posted that over 1000 parents called the mir to have rabbi kaplan fired. This is a total lie. not sure why they would make up things like that. Rabbi Slifkin is a good guy and seems to be searching the truth but lots of wicked people who picked up the story seem to love the opportunity to bash a talmid chacham.

      Delete
  33. Rabbi Slifkin, I agree with your post 100%. The following question is almost tangential, but I'm curious about it. You wrote: "I discussed it with a Rav who is in the charedi world".
    Did you also discuss it with your rabbi? (That question assumes that your rabbi is not charedi.) If not, why not?

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  34. I am possibly the person you indicated as calling R Kaplan a murderer. I paraphrased Isaiah 1:21. It was a reaction of shock and lament that he is a learned man who was approachable and a baal chesed, but now he appeared to be inciting violence.

    I realized that it was only the appearance. You realize it is only the appearance. Many commentators did as well, although I am not sure that lack of leadership should be the given reason to keep it that way. It was said in a shuir. People say hyperbolic and inciteful comments they only half mean in shuirim all the time. But what makes the comment dangerous is that he said it in a way to make the nuance between theory and practice easily missed.

    Furthermore, and I had no reason to think that a Rabbi like him would lie about an anecdote of this magnitude, he said he told two people who would certainly miss the nuance. His five year old son is certainly not going to know where rhetoric stops and action begins, and indeed he went to grab a hammer. He also argued with a presumably secular cab driver who thought he was deathly serious about wanting an armed revolution. If he states such things on a regular basis OUTSIDE a shuir, the "lack of leadership" argument is not going to be seen as a reason not to start aiming for the goal. He also stated that he told them Rav Steinman had offered his approbation, even though we both know he hadn't EXACTLY. The cab driver specifically asked if he was exaggerating, and he said he wasn't. He also said that it was the infection of Amalek that was keeping us from doing the right thing. And in context, the right thing could only be reaching for the long knives.

    That is why the comment was so dangerous, beyond the increasingly extreme rhetoric of other Hareidim. Though he did not mean a call to murder, the words he told others amount to very close to the same. And I replied in agony and grief, with shocking hyperbole and rhetoric of my own.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I'm surprise that none of you heard a maase about the Vilna Gaon killing an Amalikeit and making a שהחיינו. I heard it from a few people.

    ReplyDelete
  36. "Hopefully he has learned his lesson"
    What?
    Hopefully he has learned that he is a liar?
    or hopefully that he learned he is a violent dangerous man who has influence over 18 year old boys?
    Either way I don't give a flying Hyrax if he has learned his lesson.
    He shouldn't be allowed to teach any institution.

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    Replies
    1. why? because he advocates killing amalek or because he was mistaken that they are not amalek?

      Delete
    2. Well said JB.

      Anyone who would use such florid rhetoric, even in jest (ah, so that makes the treif kosher?), doesn't deserve the time of day and shouldn't be dignified with the title "Rav." Why do elements of the haredi community have their gatkes in such a twist? Because enough Israelis (me for one, I wear a kipa, I voted for Yesh Atid & I am pleased so far) have had it with being the hewers of wood & drawers of water for healthy Jews who will not serve in the IDF (or do national service) and yet have the sheerest chutzpah to claim that those who DO serve in the IDF have to subsidize them. Those unstressed students at Mir get to go home (or back to their dorms) every night & their parents can rest easy. For the 11 years that I did miluim my wife didn't know whether I would come home at all. Our eldest (17) is now wending his way through the IDF bureaucracy ahead of his induction sometime next year. Why should my wife & I have to live with the awful, existential fear that the next knock at the door might be two officers from the Adjutancy Corps & the parents of other Jews not? And please do not insult me by telling me that the unstressed boys at Mir are doing this for me. The Druze gentleman in my office (20 years in the IDF) has more of a right to call this country home than they do! If the foregoing labels me an apikoros, then I'll wear the label proudly. Come out of your bubbleworlds and see how all this florid rhetoric is turning the Torah into a thing to be hated!

      Delete
    3. (me for one, I wear a kipa, I voted for Yesh Atid & I am pleased so far)

      Ah, but what kind of kipa do you wear? cuz if it's not the "right kind", we know where you're spending eternity

      AA

      Delete
  37. Carol: Maybe we didn't hear it, because it never happened and it nonsense. You "heard it from a few people." Wow. What an authoritative source!

    Lawrence Kaplan

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    1. Dear Professor, I've heard it in not once Musser shmuez from people who are not קטלא קניא, but since it's been a while ago and I don't have it on a tape or in writing I don't want to mention names.

      Delete
    2. Professor Kaplan, please, can we keep the discourse civil?

      Delete
    3. McCarthy: I was not attacking anyone personally, but expressing my view based on my study of the life of the Gra as well as my knowledge of the laws concerning Amalek as well as common sense that the story is nonsense. Carol made a claim . Let her bring a source.

      Lawrence Kaplan

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  38. For any kind of meaningful retraction/apology, surely R. Kaplan would have to say that EVEN IN PRINCIPLE I do not view the government and its supporters as people that the Torah says we should kill, and explain why he believes that what he said is wrong. Which of course he won't do. I think the only lesson he has learned is to keep his extremely offensive and dangerous views away from a live mic.

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    1. is it really his views? or the view of Rabbi Shteinman who is regarded as the Gadol Hador in Israel . honestly how can you blame him for accepting the view of the gadol hador?

      Delete
    2. And what is R' Sheinman's view, exactly? That when we read Amalek, we should have in mind "Yair Lapid". That is awful enough as it is, but it is still referring to theoretical Amalek, an abstract Amalek that means "anything or anyone that threatens the Torah". R' Shteinman feels threatened, he calls the threat Amalek. However, statements about how one might actually physically attack actual human beings, fellow Jews, is not the same thing at all. It conflates them with the physical Amalek. This was not R' Shteinman's intention.

      There are all kinds of philosophies that might be defined at Amalek-like. R' Soloveitchik mentions a few in some of his talks. Would one think for even a moment that if R' Soloveitchik were to encounter someone who is a proponent of one of the Amalek-like philosophies, that he would consider which kind of knife to use on him?

      R' Kaplan crossed a line. I believe it if he says that he was still within the framework of acceptable usage of Amalek, as a concept and not to be acted upon. But it is precisely the fact that the possibility of crossing this line is no longer as far-fetched as it had once been, that it is so dangerous.

      I wholeheartedly agree with R' Slifkin, it is time to retire this expression, or at least reserve it for when we are truly threatened. Because as we know from the Torah, Amalek comes when we are lax, and fighting Amalek - real Amalek, not Jews that disagree with us - is one of the few things that unites us. Let's hope we don't need it.

      Delete
    3. If the gadol hador du jour told him to jump off the Azrieli Tower could/should we blame him for not doing so?

      "Fealty to gedolim" (as someone said above) all to often leads to rebnbeolatry. Hashem did give us minds of our own. I do believe it says somewhere that we're allowed to use them.

      Delete
    4. Well, in truth it probably is R. steinman's view, but that doesn't exempt R. Kaplan from accepting it, and preaching it. But according to R. Kaplan and R. Shteinman's spokesman, it ISNT the view of R. Shteinman! So where is the defence?

      Delete
  39. Rav Slifkin-
    I think you have not gone far enough....the problem is NOT just use of the word "Amalek"....it is the whole culture of discourse. The endless repetition of "they all hate us, they all want to destroy Torah, there is a gigantic secular conspiracy against us, we are all victims, all our problems are caused by outsiders, etc, etc" generates an extremely unhealthy mindset which first and foremost, does great damage to the Haredi community itself. If indeed the harsh words we hears were not meant to be understood "literally", they still create a feeling of hositility to others. This no doubt creates the cynicism and inability to understand the true nature of people outside the Haredi fold among Haredim and which leads even public spokesmen to say "Hilonim are drugged-out hedonists, Dati Leumis are not really observant" and other such gems.
    Over at Cross-Currents there is a thread about a secret meeting in Monsey meant to deal with the problem of Haredi youth dropping out of religious observance. The fact that this was a semi-underground gathering shows that they are afraid to admit that there is a problem, something the DL people have confronted openly and frankly for years. This embarrassment to admit that there is a problem is a direct consequence of the factors I mentioned above, because if you always feel you are a victim and a subject to conspiratorial plots, you can not admit that maybe there is something wrong internally that is pushing people out.

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  40. Yidden! Let's dispense with all of these 'intellectual' exercises, rationalizations, tangential comments, which are so beside the point.
    Please consider, one cannot learn Torah unless one has derech eretz. When gedolim, miracle workers, and rabbis who give a gevaltige shiur, refer to their brethern in diehumanizing terms; when they advocate killing . . . is this derech eretz?
    Please, let's get back to the basics. Next time you 'say' the shir shel yom try reading it and understanding basic pshat
    sincerely
    am ha'aretz withpost graduate degrees

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  41. Just Pointing OutMay 21, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    Has anyone heard R. Kaplan's latest shiur, touted as a wonderful example of hakarat hatov to the IDF? He says that yeshivah students must have hakarat hatov to the IDF and State... but the IDF and State must have even MORE hakarat hatov to the yeshivot. And that even with regard to the hakarat hatov that yeshivah students should have to the IDF, they should not take any time off to express it any way, because that would distract from the mission of learning Torah.

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  42. R. Slifkin,
    Many of the commetns note that R. Kaplan's remarks are not unique in Chareidi circles. That is true. And precisely why it needed to be aired publicly. I think it's important for Chareidim to do a little cheshbon nefesh. They may find that - while originating with the best "lishma" intentions - their polemic against the vast majority of the Jewish people has crossed the line.
    Every summer as Tisha B'av appraoches, we hear speeches bemoaning the sinat chinam that was responsible for the destruction of the Temple. And then, without missing a beat, those same speakers go on to denounce this minister, that group, those people with a different hashkafa....
    Will they ever make the connection?

    Ezra

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    1. You remind me of a recent letter circulated about a communal spat in London.

      The writer bemoaned the fact that so many people were talking loshon horo about this matter. His letter claimed that "Mr X told me loshon horo about A, and Mr Y talked loshon horo about B..." with an outstanding (albeit hilarious) lack of self-awareness.

      Delete
  43. Carol, the story that you were propagating about the Vilna Gaon and a supposed Amalekite has no source among serious students of that period of Jewish history. Let me assure you that the Maskilim would have loved to sieze on such a tale for their own ideological purposes, if there was some source. Besides, as Prof. Larry Kaplan stated, the story is nonsense - regardless of the teller of the tale. The Talmud had already concluded that we no longer know the ancestry of Gentiles after the mass deportations of Sanheirev (and other Assyrian emperors in 7th century BCE). Hence, no one can know if someone is genertically an Amalekite. Amalek, after all, was a rather small Edomite tribe living in the Negev in ancient times. In eastern Europe, the chances of finding someone with an appreciable Amalekite genetic background would be very remote. Why is it so difficult, apparently, to think critically and not to accept at face value whatever tale is told by some rabbi or preacher?

    Y. Aharon

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    Replies
    1. This is tragic! This group has no sense of humor! Obviously the story is ridiculous, nevertheless I had heard from at least two rabbis. I was thinking that if I had heard it, maybe some of you also had. That's it. I never intended for anybody to start serious refuting this נארישקייט.

      Delete
  44. I think people miss the mark...

    The big problem is the fact that the idea itself can be mentioned in a glib and casual manner and not cause a commotion among the listeners. The concept is so acceptable to them that they think nothing of it.

    Imagine for a moment had he said in the same casual and glib manner that the real act of Amalek was spending ones whole life in Beis Medrash and not working or being involved with the rest of the world. Believe you me (an American expression) there would have been a major tumult in the yeshiva.

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  45. Moshe Dick writes:
    One cannot respond to every comment here but the comment by "Just pointing out" about a recent shiur by rabbi Kaplan conerning hakoras hatov truly angered me. Simply, because it was all a sham to continue insulating the chareidi (mainly yeshivish) wordl from its responsibilities. You see, if you posit (as Rabbi Kaplan does) that the soldiers should thank the yeshiva bochurim even more than the other way around- then, of course, this exempts the yeshiva bochurim from being drafted- presto! the draft law is illegal and wrong! That shiur is just another pretext to avoid one's responsibilites to the klal. We can debate the extent of the draft but to continue maintaining-as the yeshiva gedolim insist- that every bochur, every yungerman, anyone who kisses a mezuza of a kollel should be exempt from the basic duty of "ozu ttazov imo" is despicable.

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  46. I don't understand something. maybe someone can help me out. There is a consensus in Israel by both ashkenazi and sefardi gedolim that the current government wants to uproot the torah. We are upset that Rabbi Kaplan adopts this view. Shouldn't we be more surprised if he didn't?

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    1. "There is a consensus in Israel by both ashkenazi and sefardi gedolim that the current government wants to uproot the torah."

      Sez who?

      The only thing parts of the current government want to uproot is those who use the Torah as a spade to dig with & as a means to claim privilege for themselves. Shame on them!

      Delete
    2. Northward Bound: the consensus is wrong, but it's there. That';s all chaim's point was.

      But chaim, you know that he didn't just say that what they are doing is wrong, but advocated murder. I'm not surprised he adopted the view,. I'm shocked that he would take it the extra step. And act like a khamas member in teaching it to his five-year-old.

      Delete
    3. sez who? Rabbi Shteinman, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky,, Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, to name a few. they are all saying that it is a ploy, the government's real main motive is to destroy the torah. doesn't the torah say to listen to the gedolim of the generation whether or not you agree with them?

      Delete
    4. Hey ploni, what do *you* think? Please don't rattle off what someone else (exalted or not) says. Tell me, do *you* think that "the government's real main motive is to destroy the Torah"?

      If the three aforesaid rabbonim did/do say that...(you may want to sit down)...then they're wrong (as in w-r-o-n-g). Being human beings, they're allowed to be wrong. Remember, infallibility is a Roman Catholic idea (and a relatively recent one), not a Jewish one.

      Delete
    5. Ploni, the Torah says you have to listen "bekhol asher yorukha", meaning, their halachic decisions are binding. I would also say that as in any field, it makes sense to listen to the experts in hashkafah as well.

      But here we're discussing rabbanim who are making decisions based on data that was demonstrably wrong. Mishpacha funded a survey, and R' Grylak expressed in an editorial his pleasant surprise that the findings prove that chilonim don't hate chareidim, they aren't actually out to secularize the country, and in fact most parents of children in Mamlachti (Secular Public) schools want more Torah in the curriculum. RMG admits that chareidi media and politicians have been promoting a narrative that was simply false.
      Survey results (Arutz 10): http://www.ch10.co.il/?p=3D7147
      Editorial: http://www.mishpacha.com/Browse/Article/4196/Do-You-Care--What-They-Think


      In fact, this story well illustrates why daas Torah is a bad idea. A noted poseiq is being used as a political leader, so he uses halachic terminology as political rhetoric. A student runs with it, treating the "Amaleiq" as though it were literal halakhah, and exacerbates the political divisiveness to the point of telling students from overseas (the talk was in English, after all) that Jews ought to be in a civil war, if only we had proper leadership. So now the abuse of rabbinic leadership turns into teaching actual sin'ah.

      The speaker is dragged out onto the carpet, and all he says are "outsiders don't understand how we speak". The media -- and several usually hostile bloggers -- suddenly accept this as an "apology", and the event blows over. Meanwhile, as this post notes, the Amaleiq talk just gets more and more frequent and vehement.

      (Although he reserves the right to assert that the stereotypes are still true of chiloni media and intelligensia. About which I wonder how bad he things the media is, that their alleged anti-Torah echo chamber had to little impact, compared to what damage chareidi demonization of chilonim did to their population.)

      Either way, it's provable that Yesh Atid and the voters they're trying to appeal to are not out to destroy Torah.

      R Steinman is okay with the draft and said he only promoted the protest because the draft is being backed by criminalization rather than loss of funding. In other words, RALS believes the draft as Shaked framed it would NOT destroy Torah, but the attitude behind it is adversarial and needs to be fought. And yet the data has failed to find the actual adversary...

      Either way, the dispute is in fact (metzi'us), not Torah, and there is no obligation to listen to our rabbis on it.

      Daas Torah is a 20th century invention, and its chassidic precursor annoyed the Baal haTanya, who said it cheapens both the Rabbinate and Torah to treat such questions as equal to Torah ones (Igeres haQodesh #22). Do you know why so many went to Shanghai despite R CO Grozhinsky and the rashei yeshiva of the Vaad haYeshivos advising people to stay put? In the words of one survivor, "We didn't know about daas Torah; it hadn't been invented yet."

      Delete
    6. Moshe Dick writes:
      Micha- I could not agree more! this mantra about "daas torah' was invented to silence any objections and to keep the peasants in line. What better way than say 'we say so-you must obey!". it was not found anywhere until this past century, when chareidi Orthodoxy came udner pressure from various sides (including Zionism) and invented this term to shiled itself from any criricism.

      Delete
  47. As of now, Rav Nissan Kaplan has not explained the taxi driver story.

    Perhaps someone could ask him to do so.

    If he made it up, he has not yet said so.

    If it is not made up, he has not explained why he would say something only meant for yeshiva ears to a taxi driver, who perhaps (even if he is haredi -- and we don't know that) is likely to be a bit more inclined towards physical action than yeshiva boys are, whose practice (according to Rav Nissan) is to fight only with their unbelievable hasmoda in Torah learning.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Carol, sorry about my imputation of naievete to you. It should have been addressed to those from whom you heard the tall tale, had you provided any information. My message, athough misdirected, was intended to convey the strong feeling that frum adults should not be so enamored of rabbis that they will accept uncritically whatever stories or claims they make. If people were more critical and independent there would be little incentive for the religious leaders to keep making inane and possibly dangerous pronouncements.

    Y. Aharon

    ReplyDelete
  49. Carol: Re my supposed lack of a sense of humor: It occured to me that you weren't being serious. Still, when in a recent post re Lag Ba-Omer you offered the late Kabbalistic explanation as to why the Shofar is not sounded on Shabbat Rosh ha-Shanah as being the real reason and people wondered whether you were serious or not, you responded that you were. So I was just going on your track record.

    Lawrence Kaplan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have a sense of humor??

      Delete
    2. Ditto for shofar. All I did was to give sources. People who have been following my comments should know what I stand for. How can an admirer of Yeshahahu Leibowits' religious thinking take seriously Kabblistic interpretations? I was just cheppening.

      Delete
    3. Rabbi Zvi: Your gratuitously nasty comment reflects poorly on you. Oh-- I guess you were only joking, and I have no sense of humor.

      Carol: "Chepping" Is just the right word

      Lawrence Kaplan.:

      Delete
    4. Professor Kaplan:

      Touché.

      As you well know, I could not know about your sense of humor. My knowledge of you comes from your scholarly works and insightful comments.

      Delete
    5. Professor, thank you for your correction. It actually comes from the Russian цеплять and has the same meaning.

      Delete
  50. btw if you go to the website, all the old chumash and mussar shiurim have been taken down. You can still see some old reviews at the Hirhurim website (audioroundup)
    KT
    Joel Rich

    ReplyDelete
  51. Irony here is that it was the Mizrachi (Bayit Hayehudi?) specifically R' Dr Z Warhaftig that was involved in saving Mir Yeshivah from the Nazis. He convinced Sugihara the Japanese consul to give them and many other Jews a visa that allowed them to escape

    ReplyDelete
  52. Now that you have retracted and in by doing so showed your enemies your weaknesses, what about your obligation to your followers and all those who had left comments on the blogs you have deleted, did you ask them if it would be OK.
    Loyalty is a two way street.
    How are the public to take you seriously the next time. Are you hoping you enemies would retract their blogs because you did.
    I don't think so, you have handed them a victory in which they will gloat in for days to come.
    Does the Torah state that Amalek is of our fellow Jews?
    o

    ReplyDelete
  53. Reb Nathan,
    As one who suffered through unbearable lies, statements, accusations when your books were put into cherem, wouldn't the proper and justifiable approach have been to pick up a phone, email or visit Reb N. Kaplan before all these posts were written and exposed?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wny? I don't expect people to contact me before reviewing my book. He delivered a lecture that he posted on the internet.

      Delete
  54. I think only someone who has been in a yeshiva can put Rabbi Kaplan's words in context of the yeshiva world as this blogger did so well. http://atheodoxjew.blogspot.co.il/2014/05/rabbi-nissan-kaplan-affair-good-thing.html this should never have been put online where inevitably it would have been misinterpreted and let to the worldwide demonization of Rabbi Kaplan. I hope he can also try to put Rabbi Kaplan's words in context.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. Rabbi Kaplan should have been warned at least once.

      Delete
    2. you can erase amalek from daily discourse but Rabbi Kaplan has now been branded for life. you are definitely headed for the tropics unless you beseech him and God for mechila

      Delete
  55. Golders Green JewMay 22, 2014 at 9:52 PM

    Now that we have seen Rabbi Slifkin is willing to delete a post, should the guy not be making a cheshbon hanefesh and perhaps delete many of the posts over the last 5 years which name & shame gedolei yisroel, something forbidden by Shulchan Oruch and definately not in line with "jewish tradition" - (the 2 famous words he constantly uses to convince bnei torah to work for a living)
    Even his rationalist Rambam in hilchos shoftim says that a Talmid Chochon shesorach one does not go out with it publicly.
    Come on Nosson, you cannot continue in your ways forever, perhaps we can all take something to learn from the kaplan affair

    ReplyDelete

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