Extraordinarily Extravagant Exaggerations About Rav Elyashiv
Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv is an extraordinary person. He is extraordinarily brilliant. He is extraordinarily dedicated to learning Torah. He has survived to extraordinary age, notwithstanding his fragility.
Nevertheless, this editorial from Yated/ Matzav about his critical condition contains some extraordinarily extravagant exaggerations, which illustrate the problematic state of rabbinic authority in the chareidi world.
"We were confronted with a life-changing crisis and shocked out of our stupor when we heard news from Eretz Yisroel on Monday about the health of Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv. We have been hearing for several weeks now about his precarious situation, but each time, we davened and merited a strengthening of his situation. We began, perhaps, to take it for granted and slacken off in our tefillos for the posek and amud hador. We have it so good. We have had it so good for so long that we couldn’t imagine it being any other way."
We have had it good for so long? We are confronted with a life-changing crisis?
What were the recent rabbinic decisions issued in the name of Rav Elyashiv (and it's impossible to know how much he was actually involved with them) that were so invaluable? Was it banning charedim from seeking any form of professional training, and thereby condemning them to poverty? Was it banning Mishpachah? (Well, I guess that one was certainly invaluable to the Israeli Yated, and possibly also helpful for the American Yated.)
For many years now, the public pronouncements of Rav Elyashiv have been deeply problematic at best. They have often been issued without any attempt to hear the claims of the defendants. As Mishpachah magazine pointed out, this is a grievous abuse of rabbinic authority. Things have gotten so bad that YNet ran an article entitled "The Posek of the Generation is Disconnected from the Generation." To judge Rav Elyashiv favorably, once could say that all this is due to his being manipulated by the power-hungry zealots who control access to him. Even if this is the case, it still means that it is far from accurate to say that "we have had it good for so long." And it's a "life-changing crisis" for the power-hungry manipulative zealots who will no longer be able to manipulate him, not for the rest of the nation.
Then there's the way that the article portrays Rav Elyashiv as the halachic mentor for Rav Yitzchak Herzog. Now, it could well be that Rav Elyashiv contributed valuable analyses to Rav Herzog. But Rav Elyashiv went to hear shiur from Rav Herzog, not the other way around! He was his talmid, not his rebbe!
Praising people with false praise is not doing them, or the Jewish People, a service. And people should be placing rabbinic authority where it traditionally belonged: with local rabbis who are in touch with their flock, not centenarians who are cut off from the world and manipulated by askanim.