Monday, October 27, 2008
You saw it here first!
(RAS and son (standing behind his father) at a Pidyon HaBen yesterday.)
CBT, the pillar of truth, commenting on Circus Tent Clickable Classics
First things first, and it must be clearly understood, there are two things that should never be confused because they are most definitely not synonymous, even though to many people, even within the Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin - Kollel Gur Aryeh (CB for short) it may superficially seem so: And that is that Rav Yitzchok Hutner (RYH) and Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin are NOT the same subject and one cannot automatically interchange the name CB with RYH. Doing so could even backfire big time. So always remember that CB is a 100 year old institution in Brooklyn that hired RYH, he then headed and moulded it for some time, but CB preceded RYH and it goes on after his passing headed by others, now most notably by Rav Aron Shechter (RAS) its current Rosh Yeshiva and its president Reb Avrohom Fruchthandler (RAF) (AFAIK, RAF is not an ordained rabbi and does not claim to be one, even though, make no mistake about it, he is as quick and tough a talmid chochem as he is a businessman.) CB is not Lubavitch and RYH is not the Lubavitcher Rebbe so it's not the same style and way of thinking. RYH was an individualist and HIS talmdim were very different from each other, unlike Lubavitchers and all Chasidim who are most often mostly from one mold.
Now it is true that if one was accepted as a student into CB then one can claim to be a CBer but even that is not always fully true, usually not all CBers are equal, and in fact one can spend many years in CB and not become a CBer at all, and being a CBer has a variety of connotations. At any rate, RYH had his own life which he kept separate from CB the institution, and there were times, especially in the last part of his life, starting in the mid-1960s when he started his elongated trips to EY with the plans of leaving NY and building a new yeshiva in Yerushalayim which he eventually did. RYH passed away in 1980 and from the mid 1960s he started to spend most of his time in EY and commuting back to the US to spend Pesach and Yomim Noraim/Sukkos and say his famous ma'amorim. Don't forget that it was on one of those transcontinental commutes that he, his wife, daughter and son in law, who were also with him, that they were on a plane that was hijacked by the PLO's Black September in 1970 to Jordan.
The point of all this particular information so far, is that RYH having made a decision to spend most of his time in EY and at the same time keep on coming back to the CB yeshiva in Brooklyn for Pesach and RH and/or Sukkos, a practice that his son in law Rav Yonason David (RYD) and Rebbetzin Bruria (Hutner) David (RBD) still keep up at till the present (they come for all of Pesach and the first days of Sukkos only). So in effect RYH was a rosh yeshiva in America and EY simultaneously. At first, by the early 1970s, he built a yeshiva in Yerushalayim together with Rav Dov Schwartzman (son in law of Rav Aharon Kotler, who was divorced from Rav Kotler's daughter and remarried) at Bais HaTalmud but they had a serious falling out and RYH withdrew to just his small Kollel Ohr Eliyahu in Yerushalyim, and then launched plans to build Yeshivas Pachad Yitzchok which was only completed after his passing in Har Nof and which is headed by RYD only (RAS is restricted to Brooklyn but RYD is permitted to come and go as he please since he is the "chasne debei nesia.")
So now, while in EY, RYH attracted new people and talmidei chachomim to himself who had no connection at all to the CB in America. Some were attracted to his derech and some he worked in drawing closer. Evidently, Rav Shlomo Wolbe (RSW), already appreciated RYH from his writings, but there is no doubt that he was not only from the earliest big names to be mekabel RYH upon his return to EY in the 1960s (remember that RYH was originally a talmid of the Alter of Slabodka in Europe and in the original Chevron Yeshiva in the late 1920s and early 1930s). But evidently the old yishuv of the 1960s was not sure who the RYH of the 1960s was.
RYH, with his appreciation for secular knowledge and having headed a yeshiva (CB) that permits going to college and added to the known relationship he had with Rav Avrohom Yitzchok Kook, ad to that that the Briskers had their own grudges against RYH who they felt was not respectful to the Brisker Rov, Rav Velvel (RYH was in great awe of Rav Chaim MiBrisk, and was clooe to Rav Moshe Soloveitchik and his sons the American Rav Yoshe Ber of YU and his younger brother Rav Aron who RYH appointed as rosh yeshiva in CB before RAS), so that there were all sorts of suspicions and uncertainties floating around in the minds of Charedim in EY and it was RSW who came to RYH "rescue" and decalred that all is well and that RYH is kosher veyosher lemahdrin! This was something that RYH recognized and was deeply grateful to RSW for.
But a fascinating thing then happened, RYH and RSW had a great love and respect for each other, both being major ba'alei machshove and genuine Jewish philosophers who knew their stuff, but RYH was way ahead and had worked longer and harder and had established himself on a far deeper level, so that RSW was drawn into RYH's world and way of thinking and supposedly they established a chavruse in kabbala together with RYH as the senior mentor and that in turn resulted that supposedly RSW said on himself, it might even be written in one sefer that RSW wrote, that he was RYH's talmid peshuto kemashma'o without any preconditions.
That is is how it is understood and accepted in CB and noone who knows has disputed it. Indeed, after the passing of RYH, RSW supposedly kept up a chavruseshaft with RYD but it was never heard that he called RYD his "rebbe" unless others may have heard more. RSW is not alone in this regard, many others became talmidim of RYH in EY over the years without ever setting foot in CB in Brooklyn or even coming to RYH's yeshivas in EY. So don't be surprsied if you hear that they claim to be talmidim of RYH without ever being a day in CB in Brooklyn. Today there are many in the Litvishe oilem haTorah who are serious students of RYH's ten volume Pachod Yitzchok sefarim and among those there are no doubt people who will justifiably claim to be talmidim of RYH based on the fact that they have devoured and digested (the contents of) his seforim and have adopted and even adapted his derech from his sefarim. It is not far fetched.
So yes, it is true and valid to say that RSW and others were talmidim of RYH without ever having been in formal institutions that RYH ran. There is more to say on this topic but this is more than enough for now.