Tzaddik or Mazzik?
Who could object to someone helping with the war?
Rabbi Shai Graucher is the son of the late singer Dedi Graucher, and the author of several works on the teachings of Rav Chaim Kanievsky, based on his close association with him. But today he is better known for being an absolute powerhouse of chessed.
After October 7th, R. Graucher raised millions of dollars to help with the war in all kind of ways. He’s arranged for endless supplies to be shipped in from around the world. He’s arranged for food to be brought to soldiers. He arranged for three laundry trucks to do twelve thousand loads of laundry for them. His organization is working with seminaries to send girls to help mothers whose husbands have been called up. They help families of victims and families who have been evacuated from their homes. The scale of the operation is simply mind-boggling.
Even people who dislike charedim have nothing but praise for Shai Graucher. If there’s ever a substitute for not serving in the army, it’s this! His chessed is absolutely off the charts. Who could say anything negative about him?
The Gadol HaDor of the Litvishe charedi world, that’s who.
Rav Dov Landau didn’t just say something negative about R. Shai Graucher. He condemned him in the harshest terms. He described him as a mazzik gamur, a “totally destructive person.” And he declared that this should be publicized.
What does R. Landau have against R. Graucher’s initiative? He didn’t elaborate, other than to say that the only thing of importance in this war is Torah, yeshivos and kollelim.
It seems that R. Landau objects to one or more of the following. One is the idea that the IDF, and efforts to help them, has any actual value in comparison to more Torah study. As far as he’s concerned, it’s effort that would be much better expended on yeshivos. Related to this is an objection to presenting helping the IDF as something valuable, which in turn risks giving the impression that such things - and being a soldier - is valuable. In addition, I’ve been told that he objects to R. Graucher fundraising from those who usually donate to yeshivos.
It’s bad enough that the charedi world does not share the burden of military service. It’s even worse when major figures in the charedi world even oppose chessed initiatives to help soldiers.
Now it must be made clear that while the charedi world is almost universally opposed to army service, they are certainly not all opposed to helping the IDF. Certainly many charedim in the US are extremely supportive of R. Graucher, and he has been invited to speak at the forthcoming Torah U’Mesorah convention. There are definitely many, many people in the charedi world who think that R. Shai Graucher is a tzaddik rather than a mazzik. But there are also those who follow R. Landau, either because they sincerely agree with him, or out of deference to him.
Those who do believe that R. Graucher is a tzaddik have uncomfortable questions to face about R. Landau. What does it say about a rabbinic leader who condemns someone performing chessed for soldiers? What does it say about a society in which such a person is venerated as a Gadol HaDor, and can never be criticized? There are conclusions that must be drawn.
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