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The Rabbi who Murders Gedolim
Or: The Rabbi who states the Perfectly Obvious.
What was his crime? Let’s first note what it wasn’t. He didn’t observe that the rapidly growing percentage of the population that are in kollel are a cause of mass poverty and present a threat to the national economy. He didn’t argue that traditional Judaism requires a man to work, even in a lowly profession, rather then demand charity. Nor did he point out that the Sages required a man to raise his children to be able to support themselves, and thus the charedi education system should incorporate basic secular studies.
Rav Dovid Leibel simply said that if a person does want to work for a living, or to send his children to a school that provides a basic secular education, these are also perfectly legitimate choices.
By golly. Based on the reactions, you’d have thought he said that we all need to convert to Christianity.
HaPeles compared him to Lavan, “trying to uproot everything.” Yated Neeman furiously denounced him for rebelling against The Gedolim. They compared a parent choosing to send their child to a school with secular studies as being like a Nazi doing selektion and choosing to send a Jew to Auschwitz, “murdering” (sic) future Gedolim.
And it’s not only the most extreme charedim like the writers of Yated. An article on the Kikar Shabbos website, which is of course only read by charedim who have internet, earned 300 comments. Many were positive (including one person predicting that Rav Leibel will be looked back upon like Sarah Schneirer). But others were sharply negative, such as describing him as “poisoning the wells,” and citing Rav Edelstein z”l as saying that someone who teaches in a charedi school that offers secular education has lost his portion in the World-to-Come.
Just to reiterate: Rav Leibel didn’t say that all charedim should work or should give their children a secular education. Just that those who do so are making a legitimate choice.
Clearly, any attempt to reverse the charedi reform to traditional Judaism is going to be a big struggle.
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