Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Legacy of Rav Elyashiv

It's hard to imagine a greater chilul Hashem than this. A former Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel is going to prison. For massive bribery and corruption. The classic antisemitic trope of the cheating, money-grabbing Jew is being displayed to the world in the person who holds the office that represents Judaism.

In case you haven't seen the news yet, Rabbi Yona Metzger, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel from 2003 to 2013, is accepting a prison term rather than going to trial. This is for pocketing about two million dollars in bribes and from funds that he was supposed to transfer to charity.
breach of trust, money laundering and tax evasion
breach of trust, money laundering and tax evasion
breach of trust, money laundering and tax evasion

While the responsibility for the crimes is Rabbi Metzger's alone, the responsibility for the chilul Hashem lies with others. Because long before the revelations of these particular crimes came to light - indeed, before Rabbi Metzger was appointed to the position of Chief Rabbi - there were numerous allegations of severe improprieties. In 1998, when Rabbi Metzger was about to be nominated as chief rabbi of Tel Aviv, a number of allegations surfaced against him, including fraud, sexual harassment, forged signatures on wedding contracts, and threatening other rabbis. Rabbi Metzger's certification to serve as chief rabbi of a large city was suspended, and a disciplinary hearing was established, presided over by Rav Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron, Rav She'ar Yashuv Cohen and Rav Simcha Kook. In the end, an agreement was reached whereby the inquiry would not be completed if Metzger would agree not to accept the role of chief rabbi of Tel Aviv.

And so when Rabbi Metzger later accepted the appointment as Chief Rabbi of the entire country, Rav Bakshi-Doron was furious. As he wrote to the Chief Rabbinic Council, "It never occurred to me this rabbi [Metzger] would have the chutzpah to stand for chief rabbi of Israel after promising not to contest Tel Aviv's rabbinate."

How did it happen that a rabbi under such a cloud was able to secure such a position? After all, it's not as though there were no alternatives. Thank God, there is no shortage of wonderful rabbis in Israel. In particular, there was an outstanding candidate for the role, Rav Yaakov Ariel. So how on earth did the position get awarded to Rabbi Metzger?

The answer is Rav Elyashiv. Rav Elyashiv and his court (which included Rabbi Yosef Efrati and Rabbi Nochum Eisenstein) pushed for the appointment, and they were powerful enough to get it. They wanted it because despite Rabbi Metzger's national-religious background, he had become more charedi and promised allegiance to Rav Elyashiv's rulings, such as with regard to invalidating the heter mechira. (See the excellent article by Rabbi Shaya Karlinksy, The Price of Halachic Power.) And they knew full well about the allegations, as the Jerusalem Post reported:
"Asked Saturday night if he had made known his suspicions against Metzger to Rabbi Shalom Eliashiv, the head of the non-Hassidic Ashkenazi haredi world, whose directives to support Metzger gained him his upset victory, Bakshi-Doron replied that he had sent important rabbinical messengers, including the son of the late sage Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, to tell Eliashiv "who was Metzger." Eliashiv is said to have replied to one of the messengers, Rehovot Chief Rabbi Simcha Kook, "Af al pi chen [nevertheless, Metzger should be supported]." ...Ma'alot Dafna Rabbi Nahum Eisenstein, a close aid of Eliashiv, noted that "nothing has been substantiated, nothing proven. Halacha [Jewish law] holds by the concept of innocent until proven guilty. Things have to be proven in a proper way, otherwise we don't believe anything."
Rav Elyashiv and Rabbi Tropper

Alas, this was not the only time that Rav Elyashiv's court empowered a person known to be corrupt who ended up causing a massive chillul Hashem. There was also Rabbi Leib Tropper, who was empowered by Rav Elyashiv's court and many other charedi Gedolim as the most important person in the field of conversion, despite decades of allegations of improprieties. My own very limited knowledge of Tropper made me immediately realize that he was a deeply problematic person, and I publicly asked why he was being given such power. A few weeks later, video and audio recordings eventually surfaced that displayed Tropper committing unspeakable acts, which finally caused him to lose his position - though Rav Elyashiv's grandson still honored him by speaking at an event of his several months later. (And then there was the time that several of the Gedolim signed a letter attesting to the righteousness of the monster Elior Chen, which Rav Chaim Kanievsky justified to my neighbor by saying that he signed because his rabbis signed.)

I think that most people would agree that when a rabbi with an extremely shady reputation is put into a position of great power, at least some of the responsibility for any resultant chilul Hashem lies with those who put them into the position of power - in this case, the chareidi Gedolim system. The question is, how many times does this have to happen before responsibility should also be placed with those who profess allegiance to the chareidi Gedolim system and thereby empower it?

101 comments:

  1. I always had the suspicion that the whole point of the appointment was to bring the institution of the cheif rabbinate into disrepute. Thus apointing Metzger nad not appointing Rav Ariel was the ideal solution.

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    1. I read the same and it made sense to me then. Still does. Anything to discredit the Rabbanut by charedim is ok with charedim, it appears.

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    2. Did the stories of Olmert and Katsav brought institutions of presidency and premier ministry into disrepute?

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    3. Lazar, you can't break what's already broken.

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    4. Lazar,

      The institutions of president and premiership do not have a Torah-mandated obligation to act ethically. The individuals, do, of course, but that's true everywhere.

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    5. They do actually. Any Jew (or non-Jew) in a position of leadership has an obligation from the Torah to act in an ethical and moral manner and to be a role model for young people everywhere.

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    6. Actually they do, as have all leaders (Jewish or not). They all have a Torah mandated obligation to act morally and ethically and to be a role model for young people everywhere.

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  2. I heard differently.

    I heard that RYSE wanted Metzger to be appointed, knowing full well what an unsuitable candidate he was, in order to bring down the authority of the Rabbanut/ Chief Rabbi.

    Not sure whether my version is better or worse than yours.

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    1. I heard that too, but it doesn't make sense to me. Since everyone knows that Metzger got the position because of Rav Elyashiv, then it reflects even worse on Rav Elyashiv than on the Rabbanut.

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    2. Not in the eyes of a charedi, for whom Rabbi ElyShiv was infallible.

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    3. Ah, but it depends on your perspective. If you "know" the Rabbanut is worthless and want it proved to everyone, this is exactly what you do.

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    4. "Not sure whether my version is better or worse than yours."

      Well in version (a) R. Elyashiv was an unworldly and pious scholar, narrowly focussed on pet issues, manipulated by handlers and unable to exercise leadership effectively. In version (b) he was a comic book super villain.

      I'm at a loss as to how you could be unsure which version is worse. Further since we already know (a) is true, why bother with (b) which seems very unlikely to be true.

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    5. I'm not sure what the argument here is. Setting aside Metzger's personal failings, he is not even a Posek, so everyone knew that he was unqualified to serve as the head of the Supreme Rabbinical Court.

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    6. He has two published books of teshuvot. Perhaps you mean he's not a *major posek*. I think you'd be hard pressed to say sincerely that every Chief Rabbi was a *major posek* before he took the office.

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    7. @Gavriel M: You are correct and I could be wrong about Metzger's qualifications. My understanding was that up until the Charedim took over the Rabbinate, all of the Chief Rabbis were qualified to serve as Dayanim and that this was considered an essential qualification, while Metzger was not. BTW, I'll add that he didn't necessarily do a terrible job at everything in the job.

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    8. I also agree with your point that Rav Elyashiv was not a villian. He followed his approach.

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  3. As it was correctly noted: "Halacha holds by the concept of innocent until proven guilty", not to mention Perkei Avos requiring to judge people favorably.
    Aside from this, Chief Rabbi is basically an administrative position in Israel, who is elected by secular government representatives (comprising almost half of the voters) and whose Halachic authority is not recognized by Charedim.

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    1. Are you claiming that Halacha requires one to ignore evidence of malfeasance when deciding who to place in a position of public trust? I would have thought it their duty to investigate him thoroughly and resolve all doubts before such an appointment. I'd like to see the source for such an assertion.

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    2. So the charedim should have the common decency not to be involved in the elections for the Chief Rabbinate, and no charedi should seek to hold any job under the Rabbinate.

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    3. @David Are you claiming that Halacha requires one to ignore evidence of malfeasance when deciding who to place in a position of public trust?

      No, I am saying we are not to trust allegations (especially in secular media), but only Halachic convictions.

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    4. No, I am saying we are not to trust allegations (especially in secular media), but only Halachic convictions.

      There are no "Halachic" criminal courts, so this would imply that we can never believe anyone to be a criminal. I think that you'll have to admit that this is wrong.

      Furthermore, you ignored the main point. The standard for appointment to Chief Rabbi is not "no convictions".

      Finally, your prescription would mean many more victims of abuse. Unfortunately, Orthodox organization are not better at rooting out internal problems than any other. That is why, for example, no one did anything about Lanner at NCSY or Ephraim Shapiro at TA in Baltimore or George Finkelstein at YU and other places or Leib Tropper and they were all uncovered by the "secular media".

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    5. Does this mean that, as far as the Chareidi leadership is concerned, Rav Metzger is still innocent because it was a secular court that convicted him, not a beis din?

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    6. There are no "Halachic" criminal courts...

      In Israel a Rabbinical court can put a person in jail. In other countries a bet din can impose herem, or can decide if the matter can be moved to a secular court. Either way, it must be a decision, not allegations. It's very easy to make allegations about anyone. If there was any provable evidence about Rabbi Metzger 13 years ago, you should not doubt that police would not hesitate to investigate and indict. Therefore blaming haRav Elyashiv zt"l in R'Metzger election by 150 voters half of which are secular is totally out of line.

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    7. Batei Din have the power to put people in jail for exactly one reason, refusing a get. All other criminal matters go to civil courts.

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    8. @Lazar: I would add that this was investigated by a halachic court and he plea bargained to being unqualified to be Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv. The halachic authorities who investigated *did* find him unfit and made that known.

      If there was any provable evidence about Rabbi Metzger 13 years ago, you should not doubt that police would not hesitate to investigate and indict.

      First off, why do you suddenly switch to the police? He agreed with the halachic authorities that he was not qualified. According to you, that should have been enough.

      Second, get that silly notion out of your head. Deri pushed off his conviction for years by political means. The serial child molester Jerry Sandusky was investigated by police many years before he was finally convicted.

      Something I missed above:

      Aside from this, Chief Rabbi is basically an administrative position in Israel

      False: It was made so by Rav Elyashiv. Prior to his influence, the Chief Rabbi was always a great Posek and Dayan. That was part of the undermining of the Rabbinate.

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    9. It was made so by Rav Elyashiv
      and others, after the Langer affair.

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    10. @David First off, why do you suddenly switch to the police?

      Because they investigate anyone when here is even slightest hint to wrongdoing, as you can see from current Bibi's investigation.

      He agreed with the halachic authorities that he was not qualified

      He agreed to withdrew. but no allegations were proved at that time nor he admitted any wrongdoing. Later he was investigated by police and the case was closed for no evidence.

      False: It was made so by Rav Elyashiv. Prior to his influence, the Chief Rabbi was always a great Posek and Dayan.

      Chief Rabbi could be a great Posek on early years (I know haRav Yosef was a Chief Rabbi), don't know how it was chosen back then. But now, are 70 secular members of the Electoral Assembly are among deciding on who is a greatest Posek? You must be laughing, right?

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    11. Yes, Judaism supports innocent until proven guilty, but it also mandates thoroughly investigating allegations of bad behavior: See Deut. 13:15
      ודרשת וחקרת ושאלת היטב

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    12. @David First off, why do you suddenly switch to the police?

      Because they investigate anyone when here is even slightest hint to wrongdoing, as you can see from current Bibi's investigation.


      The police are secular. What happened to preferring the halachic authorities and only believing them?

      You also repeat a fundamental flaw in reasoning. The qualifications for Chief Rabbi is not "no conviction".

      Finally, you seem to be ignorant of the amount of scarce resources that it takes to do an investigation like this and then take someone to trial. The current investigation against Metzger was made public in June 2013! The notion that the police will spend time investigating everything is ludicrous. The entire country would have to be employed.

      He agreed with the halachic authorities that he was not qualified

      He agreed to withdrew. but no allegations were proved at that time nor he admitted any wrongdoing. Later he was investigated by police and the case was closed for no evidence.

      He agreed to withdraw in return for stopping the investigation. The Rabbis on the Bais Din felt that he was disqualified which is why they settled for this.

      He was investigated later by the police for other infractions (not the ones that caused him to withdraw from the Tel Aviv position), and the Attorney General, while not indicting him criminally, state publicly that he should be impeached.

      False: It was made so by Rav Elyashiv. Prior to his influence, the Chief Rabbi was always a great Posek and Dayan.

      Chief Rabbi could be a great Posek on early years (I know haRav Yosef was a Chief Rabbi), don't know how it was chosen back then. But now, are 70 secular members of the Electoral Assembly are among deciding on who is a greatest Posek? You must be laughing, right?

      You are confusing process with result. Did you know that the Rabbis in Lithuania (e.g. Rav Chaim Brisk) were elected by the all of the people including the non-religious? Until Rav Elyashiv decided to make the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi into a figurehead, they were all heavyweight Poskim and Dayanim, which makes sense, since they serve as President of the Rabbinical Supreme Court. Rabbi Metzger is not even a Posek which by itself should have made him unqualified.

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    13. It was made so by Rav Elyashiv

      and others, after the Langer affair.

      1) I think that it was Rav Elyashiv who got the Charedim to care about the Rabbinate.

      2) After Rav Goren, the eminently qualified Rav Avraham Shapira was appointed. Metzger came 20 years after Rav Goren.

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  4. Many of us in the modern Orthodox community are also guilty of worshipping these Charedei "Gedolim", many of which are essentially practicing a different religion than traditional yiddishkeit. There are plenty of gedolim in the MO world that we should look up to instead.

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    1. Plenty? How many MO Gedolim are there that themselves did not look up to, respect, or even worship Rav Elyashiv? Name five, please.

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    2. The concept of "Gedolim" is a Charedi one. It has no application in the MO world, which uses the nomenclature of Rabbis and Scholars (Rabbonim and Talmidei Chachamim, if it makes you happier.) And there are hundreds of such individuals who did not look up to, respect, or even worship R. Elyashiv.

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    3. "hundreds of such individuals" - Rabbonim and Talmidei Chachamim - "who did not...respect...R. Elyashiv"? Name five.

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  5. You're correct. Some of these gedolim are way out of their league.

    One of the most disturbing vidoes I saw recently was the one you posted a month or two back of Rav Chaim Kanievsky and his associates being taken by that African "king." Rav Chaim looks like a total (apparently willing) pawn in that video and his aides are beyond naïve (the Sambatyon question took the cake).

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    1. "על כן תפוג תורה ולא יצא לנצח משפט כי רשע מכתיר את הצדיק על כן יצא משפט מעקל"
      There must be a movement demanding a highest degree of transparency in relation to those surrounding and feeding information to elderly Gedolim.

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  6. "...the responsibility for the chilul Hashem lies with others." vs "...at least some of the responsibility for any resultant chilul Hashem lies with those who put them into the position of power..." - Just making sure you're OK with the different meanings.

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  7. I hear your perspective, and I appreciate it as well to some degree. But do you not think that writing publicly about things like this, calling into question the ENTIRE CHAREIDI SYSTEM, including every single Jew who supports it, is also in it's own right a chillul Hashem?

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    1. It amazes me that some people still harbor the idea that we would be better off if we simply don't talk about our problems.

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    2. You sound like an enabler. "We can't publish information about a Chillul Hashem because that would cause a Chillul Hashem!"

      Causing people to question their support for a corrupt system should never be considered a Chillul Hashem. That some would consider it so indicates just how far from the path of Emes we have strayed.

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  8. Why do you blame Rav Eliashiv and his court? The are right: "innocent until proven guilty" (hezkat Kashrut). Put your blame on rabbi Bakshi-Doron and all these gentlemen who helped Mezger to avoid justice timely.

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    1. You are partially right. I hope by now we have learned to have no rachmanus on people such as Metzger and Alon, as our compromises in the courts seem to go nowhere. Though I don't think your heroes are correct either: who has more chezkat kashrut - dati leumi Rabbanim and their messengers, or Rav Elyashiv's latest castoff-come-charedi-repentant from the dati leumi circles? The charedi leadership is far more at fault for consistently rejecting the daati leumi Rabbanim for any aspects of leading klal yisrael.

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    2. Chezkat Kashrut does not justify promoting a person to a prominent position without checking out the suspicions. It would only justify not REMOVING one from his current position.

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    3. I'm inclined to agree with dlz: a chezkat kashrut implies that you're obligated to assume that your fellow is acting properly UNTIL YOU HAVE REASON TO BELIEVE OTHERWISE--not until there is actual proof (much less a decision in a beit din) of impropriety. Conversely, the breakdown of the chazaka gives one the right to investigate the suspicions, rather than to assume they are true.

      In the cases named in the blog, the allegations raised legitimate suspicions. Those suspicions should have been investigated. Even without a beit din, Metzger should not have been installed in such a position of authority until such time as the allegations could be dispelled.

      I'd like some input from our participating rabbeim on the halachic validity of my assumptions.

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    4. The Torah says we must check suspicions: Deut. 13:15
      ודרשת וחקרת ושאלת היטב
      You cannot just shut your eyes and say "not proven guilty".

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  9. Three factors not mentioned in Rav Karlinsky's analysis:
    1)To the extent it was about the Hetter Mechira, it wasn't exactly about the hetter mechira, but about the millions made every seven years by Rav Elyashiv's primary confidante from non-hetter mechira hashgachos and produce that he sold through businesses he had set up expressly for non-hetter produce. (Rav Elyashiv being an extremely trusting person and totally isolated from contact with anyone other than those allowed in by his henchmen surely did not know the extent to which he was being manipulated by his henchmen's personal agendas.)

    2) Rav Ariel would have been a walking Kiddush HASHEM, not only as a serious posek and thinker, but as a kind and caring leader, full of ideas as to how to help the Jewish People. The prestige he would have brought ot the position was a threat not just to the power base of Rav Elyashiv's inner circle, but to secularists, who preferred that the Chief Rabbi be an ignorant laughing stock, reinforcing their own agenda to show how the Rabbanut was irrelevant and out of step with the average Israeli.

    3) Metzger's brother-in-law is Natti Grossman, then the editor of the Hebrew Yated, then the most powerful voice in shaping haredi opinion.

    Rav Ariel, a voice of intelligence and vision, terrified them, so they united in the most cynical way to install Rav Ariel's direct opposite. Rav Elyashiv surely was unaware. Note that even Rav Amar had to use a proxy to convey this to Rav ELyashiv, not being allowed acces by Rav Elyashiv's henchmen, whose goal was to isolate and manipulate the Rav without challenge.

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    1. I'm no fan of Rav Efrati, but having the Rabannut increase its standard in relation to Heter Mechira would, if anything, increase competition to against Rav Efrati's Hechsher, not the opposite.

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    2. Correct.
      It was in Efrati's intere$t that the Rabbanut heksher not be credible.
      Rav Ariel would have made it credible.

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    3. To further clarify: Rav Metzger was installed not to have the Rabbanut increase its standard, but in order to see that it remained non-credible.

      And to the extent that the non-credible Rabbanut hashgochos would not be allowed to buy hetter mechira, the more they had to buy from Efrati's produce suppliers, including his own businesses he set up in Jordan (so I heard).

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    4. At first I too considered that R. Elyashiv had been insulated by his inner circle from the allegations about Metzger. (And the post on this blog about the African "king" illustrates how that works.)

      But this post indicates that he himself responded. If the response was indeed his own, then he did know of the allegations.

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    5. We don't know what he was told about Rav Ariel, although we can be certain that no one with a factual perspective would have been allowed in. And we don't know what he was told about Metzger, especially given that those who actually knew, like Rav Bakshi Doron, also were not allowed access. For all we know, even Rav Auerbach or Rav Kook (whoever it was that was allowed in) was silenced by the henchmen. For instance, they could have threatened them that if they say anything, they would no longer have access to Rav Elyashiv.
      It would therefore be possible for Rav Elyashiv to dismiss everything he heard as unproven hearsay.

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  10. What a disgrace.

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  11. > I think that most people would agree that when a rabbi with an extremely shady reputation is put into a position of great power, at least some of the responsibility for any resultant chilul Hashem lies with those who put them into the position of power

    I would hope most people would agree - it's practically a quote from Rashi on Devarim 1:17:

    לא תכירו פנים במשפט: זה הממונה להושיב הדיינין, שלא יאמר איש פלוני נאה או גבור, אושיבנו דיין, איש פלוני קרובי, אושיבנו דיין בעיר, והוא אינו בקי בדינין נמצא מחייב את הזכאי ומזכה את החייב. מעלה אני על מי שמנהו כאילו הכיר פנים בדין

    Do not show favoritism in court: This refers to the one responsible for appointing the judges, so that he shouldn't say this candidate is handsome or brave, let me appoint him, or that candidate is my relative, I'll appoint him; and he's not competent in law – it will turn out that he convicts the innocent and acquits the guilty. I consider whoever appointed him, as if he showed favoritism in court.

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    1. לא תכירו פנים במשפט has nothing to do with how you choose the lesser of two evils.

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    2. Where are there two evils here?

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    3. I wrote them in a comment denied by Slifkin. I wrote that no one like Rav Elyashiv had the credentials on the approach of Mizrahi Rabanim to Halacha. He was the greatest Halachic authorities and sat in Heichal Shlomo. He was so upset with what he considered a manipulation of Halacha that he resigned, losing a serious salary.

      So...
      Da'as Torah (Rav Elyashiv): Better exterior personal flaw in Chief Rabbi, than having the Rabbinate represent a flawed version of Halachic Judaism.
      Da'as Bal Habayis: Better have good PR...

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    4. I have not blocked any comments on this post.

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  12. Alas, he's the one whose signature appears on my husband's Rabbanut Semicha certificate. Devalues it somewhat, it does.

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    1. Hey, a generation of graduates of YU's Sy Syms School have Bernard Madoff on their diplomas. :-)

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    2. That's going to be a very valuable signature in the future, more than Metzgers.

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  13. Thanks Natan - Now no need for me to write my blog post on the topic. please don't forget Moshe Gafni.

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  14. Do we know where the money Metzger pocketed actually went ? In his personal account or for a charity in his name ?

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  15. There is an assumption out there that, if challenged, are met with a loud "OMG! You can't say that!" It's time those loud shouts were themselves shouted down.
    Here it is: Sitting all day and learning does not equal piety.

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    1. OMG! You can't say that!
      :-P

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    2. Nor does it equal intellect. Or hard work.

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    3. Garnel- True...But Rav Elyashiv was truly pious. Anyone who deosn't think so and will have there entire view of him shaped by a single post by Natan Slifkin (who does have an ax to grind) clearly never saw him personally or know anything about him.

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    4. What is piety? Is it sitting around all day learning? Is it constantly finding ways to make being a Torah Jew more difficult? Is it simplifying the halachic system so that all variation, all different opinions, are nullified in favour of one firm system without compromise?
      What happened to feeding the hungry? Clothing the naked? Housing the homeless? Supporting the poor? Look through the Nevi'im and you don't find one reference to the stuff most of the Chareidi leadership obsessed over today. Piety is about bringing God's kindness into this world al pi halacha, not about who has the most gemaras memorized.

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    5. Well said, Garnel. But you have it backward, you know. Adopting additional ritual stringencies actually makes Judaism EASIER.

      Judaism that requires you to take care of fellow human beings is far more difficult.

      Judaism that expects to you take care of NON-JEWISH human beings (remember that "through you all the nations of the earth will be blessed" stuff?) is harder still.

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    6. Thanks Garnel.
      I've been saying precisely that for years now. Well done.

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    7. "Sitting all day and learning does not equal piety."

      Most such people actually aren't even learning. Or how is that whenever I happen to be off I see tons of guys, supposedly learning in kollel, dropping off kids at school or going shopping? Does Kollel only start at 10:30 am? And how long a lunch break exactly are they getting?

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    8. @The Griz. There are a lot of people out there learning all day or learning in the evening after working. I don't know about "most people".

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  16. At least some of it went to buy apartments for his kids.

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  17. Is it unfathomable to suggest that even if R' Elyashiv knew this might be the outcome, he would still prefer to have him as the chief rabbi because RYSE felt the halachic issue of heter mechira (or any other relevant issue) was more important? He was the gadol ha'dor and those are the kinds of difficult decisions someone of that stature has to make.
    Just as Y Waxman points out above, RNS knows that posting negative items about rabbonim creates a chillul Hashem, but he does so anyway because he feels the importance of the message outweighs the bad.
    I think it's naive, arrogant and disrespectful to suggest R' Elyashiv made this decision on such a simplistic basis.
    Has anyone here who has commented negatively spent significant time with R' Elyashiv that they feel they know him so well that they can deduce from his decisions what his inner motives were? It may be ok to make negative suggestions if you feel the need to do so, but at least give him some credit that there's at least a chance that he gave the issue serious thought and felt he had to pick the lesser of two evils.
    It's an extreme example, but it would be like us criticizing R' Yochanan ben Zakai for choosing Yavneh over Yerushalayim. He may have made a mistake, but we can at least recognize that there was a careful calculation behind it.

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    1. Finally, a rational and intelligent response to an embarrassing display of arrogance, ignorance, and agenda based rhetoric. Thanks for the breath of fresh air.

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    2. Yes. Metzger is just like yavneh. Mamash.
      Let's call a spade a spade, huh?

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    3. B"H I was reading the comment section and couldn't help but seeing a continued preaching to the choir. Everyone just wants to see if they can disrespect the Gedolim the most and say the craziest things to knock gedolei yisroel. Thank you for changing the tone Raymond.

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    4. @Anon Chareidi:

      Rav Elyashiv was a great Talmid Chacham and Poskek and a Torah Giant. But equating disagreement and criticism with disrespect the at the root of the problem of various forms of corruption. All groups, Jewish or not, are bad at rooting out internal corruption and abuse. Rav Elyashiv and the others who stood up for Metzger committed an error that everyone can learn from. We also need to learn that questioning the judgement of leaders when they defend other leaders is very necessary and not disrepectful. It is absolutely necessary.

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    5. @David Ohsie

      Questioning in a respectful manner is one thing, but I do not feel like that is what is going on in this forum. It's a very one-sided analysis, if you can even call it that. For someone recognized, as you point out, as a great Talmid Chacham and Posek and a Torah Giant, I don't think we should so easily and categorically dismiss his decisions as being mistakes and corrupt. Wouldn't you agree that he deserves the benefit of a more thorough analysis which includes both sides, not just blanket accusations against those who are not present to defend themselves?

      Delete
    6. I agree that accusation of corruption against Rav Elyashiv are not well-founded and should not be made.

      I don't see the problem with stating this decision to be a mistake. There were great rabbis along with the attorney general who had actually investigated him warning that he was corrupt + his own decision to stand down from the Tel Aviv position. They were not listened to, and then he turns out to be corrupt as they said (and possibly a child molestor to boot). This is on top of the fact that he wasn't qualified for the position to begin with. If you think that a more thorough analysis would yield a different result, I'd like so understand the outline of such an analysis.

      Delete
    7. David Ohsie and Raymond - you both claim Rav Elyashiv was a "Torah Giant." Where is the evidence for this, please? To my knowledge he doesn't display great bekius of all rabbinic literature (like a R. Leiter); doesn't display great analysis even of just the Gemara (like a R. Moshe); and doesn't display a familiarity with the full range of the Shut literature (like a R. Ovadyah). So in what way is he such a "Giant"? A talmic chacham no doubt, but a giant? Just by answering questions makes you a giant?

      I would like to be educated if I am wrong. But I see everyone just making the assumption that he was some great scholar, when I don't see the evidence of it.

      Delete
    8. @The Griz: I've seen very little of Rav Elyashiv's Torah and what I have seen is bits of p'sak quoted, so I could not precisely why he acheived that status that he did. However, it is a fact that he rose to be a Dayan on the Supreme Rabbinical Court and later was asked the most difficult Sh'eilot by people quite knowledgeable in halacha. It's not answering questions that makes you a Torah Giant, but the fact other very knowledgeable people ask you the questions and then listen to your answers.

      I could turn the question back on you: Why was Rav Moshe great? You mention his analysis of the Gemara, yet his Dibros Moshe on Gemara are not commonly studied.

      Finally, separate out whether or not you agree with his approach. My posek respected Rav Elyashiv, but did not feel bound by his P'sak. As a result of a post on this website, I studied the Chazon Ish's writing on the dateline and, IMHO, the approach is very difficult to accept, but the C"I is certainly a Torah great (Benny Brown discusses this in biography of the C"I.) I'm not Charedi and would not generally agreed with Rav Elyashiv's outlook, but I can still recognize him as someone who was a giant in Torah.

      Delete
  18. Perhaps your headline should be "A Legacy of Rav Elyashiv," not "The Legacy of Rav Elyashiv." Reducing his entire life to one ill-advised decision is very distorted.

    ReplyDelete
  19. This is great news! Such a Kiddush Hashem! Now we see what the Rabbanut really is. RYSE had real foresight when he supported R Metzger. Too bad he didn't live to see the blessed fruits of his efforts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Now we see what the Rabbanut really is"?
      Yes, when charedim somehow take over and install illegitimate and those lacking credentials into positions of authority. We see what charedim really are.

      Delete
    2. I have a feeling you are falling for Poe's law zfriend. Or at least I hope you are.

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe's_law

      Delete
    3. In other works, zfriend could not see חרדים for what he really is :).

      Delete
  20. At the time, there was a highly respected charedi rav who to this day is very highly respected in ALL communities, charedi, litvish, chassidic (chabad and other), MO DL RZ, chilonim, sfsrdim, politicians, hamon am (regular people), even chutznikim.

    But the word came down from rav elyashiv (most probably, his gatekeepers), so he respectfully bowed out. (The last thing this highly respected rav wants, is to be associated with controversy.)

    ReplyDelete
  21. Slightly off topic, but is anyone else beside me bothered by the fact that candidates for the chief rabbi must apply for the job and lobby on behalf of themselves? It seems to me very unbecoming for rabbinic figures to do so.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Twas always thus

      Delete
    2. As is (almost) every rabbinic (and non rabbinic) position.

      Even a simple shul rav position.

      Delete
  22. I don't mean to denigrate a major talmid chacham, but there is a basis for the Talmudic ruling that a man of advanced age can't serve on the Sanhedrin. Someone of that age tends to be inflexible, judgmental, and not empathetic. I don't know if the latter was ever a characteristic of the talmid chacham in question who was said to be remote even from immediate family members. I don't pretend to know the full reason for his advocacy of Metzger's candidacy for the Ashkenazi chief rabbinate position despite accusations of corruption and misbehavior when the latter was rabbi in North Tel Aviv, I believe. However, it is consistent with other judgments made without an adequate understanding of the technical issues involved. A psak din without such knowledge isn't something that should be adopted. Unfortunately, the whisperings of hangers-on often becomes a psak din to which adherence is supposedly required in Hareidi circles. The legacy of a talmid chacham and posek would have been better served in his lifetime if learned criticism of his piskei din had been considered acceptable in those circles instead of worshipping them as the judgment of the 'posek ha'dor'.

    Y. Aharon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely. When thought is not challenged, it becomes weak.

      Delete
  23. Interesting that Rabbi Slifkin is attacking someone who helped put him in Cherem. Interesting to anyone else? Can anyone else smell a bias? Can we really trust a word that he says here?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You don't need to trust anything he says here. The key points are all quotes from the press.

      Delete
    2. Like many other things he quotes, being posted here in a specific light makes it very easy to fool people.

      Delete
    3. Only to you, Dovid.

      Delete
  24. The "Gedolim system" is being criticized here more than parallel systems that also make decisions we might challenge. This story should be taken as an argument for more transparency and free exchange of information in all sectors.

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  25. Perhaps there should not be a Chief Rabbi

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  26. :נחמיה פרק יג

    "וָאָבִינָה בָרָעָה אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה אֶלְיָשִׁיב"

    ReplyDelete
  27. yona mtzger's support of rabbi Sherman's campaign against rabbi Drukman

    http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3732499,00.html

    ReplyDelete

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