The Impact of Rav Malinowitz
In ten years of writing on this website, I've never seen anything like the feedback that I received after my post about Rav Chaim Malinowitz z"l. The praise for my post that came in - not just online, but especially in private emails - was astonishing. Sure, there were also two people who complained - one that I was too critical, one that I was too complimentary. But the story of the role that Rav Malinowitz played in my life clearly touched people at a very deep level. Why?
Looking at the feedback I received, there seem to be three elements. One is that many residents of Beit Shemesh, who had only been aware of Rav Malinowitz through his political involvement, greatly appreciated hearing about a different side of him. It was a lesson in how people are complicated and we often have little idea as to what people are really about.
More significant, I think, is my account of how Rav Malinowitz believed that even views that one disagrees with should nevertheless not necessarily be banned from public discourse. Something can be objectionable to you, even theologically objectionable, but that doesn't necessarily make it beyond the pale. Note that I am using the word "necessarily" - of course there are things that are indeed beyond the parameters of acceptable Jewish theology. But in a world where people are seeking to draw these lines ever more narrowly, it was deeply inspiring for people to hear about a charedi Rav who sought to maintain the broad parameters that were traditionally accepted.
Finally, I think that what made the biggest impact was my account of how Rav Malinowitz was willing to stand up for me even at great personal cost. We hear lots of stories about the great Torah knowledge of various rabbis, and also stories of great acts of kindness. But stories about integrity - sticking firm to one's principles even at the cost of arousing the opposition of powerful people in one's own community - are apparently thinner on the ground.
May Rav Malinowitz's legacy be an inspiration to many.
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