Sunday, January 15, 2012

Did Rav Ahron Kotler destroy Daas Torah? (albeit unwillingly and unknowingly)























RAK (left) with the Kopycznitzer Rebbe, zt"l, in Fleischmann's

(Well, I guess in America, is what we're talking about here. In Eretz Yisroel the dynamics are so different that we cannot compare nor discuss it here. Meaning, that RAK is responsible for the situation in the US, even if the piece you're about to read may focus on Israel in the first part... Just read on, you'll see the point eventually.)

Anshel Pfeffer, in his recent "Ha'aretz" op-ed piece, speaks about the situation in which Daas Torah in Eretz Yisroel finds itself today, with HaRav Elyashiv being in a virtual jail - not allowed to see the general public - and proclamations coming out in his name that he has very little idea about. What I assume prompted the article was the bickering between Mishpacha and the Israeli Yated, where the Yated people, apparently hurting because of Mishpacha's popularity, managed to procure an issur from Rav Elyashiv against the Mishpacha magazine, which is a joke, because he probably never even saw the letter that he supposedly issued, nor has he ever read the Mishpacha magazine.  Pfeffer implicates everybody in his piece; Lubavitch, the Elyashivites and Shachites, and Vizhnitz too, so I'm not thumping my chest just yet. Like a good Liberal he blames modern medicine for keeping old people alive their productive stage, but he makes one interesting point - or tries to. He basically says that by empowering every individual - by sending them to Yeshiva and then to Kolel for the rest of his life - that there is no consensus anymore as far as "Who is a Gadol." Any proclamation can be argued with and nothing is certain. You can argue on anything. People have begun to see how these Daas Torah meetings and letters work and they longer believe anything anymore. The fact that every מאנטאג און דאנערשטאג something else is banned also doesn't help.

I'm not sure if Pfeffer is 100% correct, but he seems to be trying to make a somewhat-educated point here. What caused this rift is the fact that everybody is a בר דעה now. We all learned in Yeshivos and we all learned in Kolel, and you won't tell me what to do or say! RYSE may be the Posek HaDor, but we have the Gaon HaDor, the Z'kan Roshei Yehivos, or the Z'kan HaMekubolim/Admorim on our side. So we don't need to listen to what you say. I realize it's a bit of a stretch. Ok, a very BIG stretch, but a simpleton wouldn't dare open his mouth against a Rov or Rebbe in the old days, no matter who the man was. That was because he realized that this Rov/Rebbe is much more learned than he is. He knew that Torah knowledge is the ultimate accomplishment in this world, and since he hasn't accomplished it, and this man has, then he needs to keep quiet, even if he thinks he understands better than the Rov/Rebbe. I know what some of you are saying or thinking, that the Chassidic Rebbe should not be associated with Torah. Ha, Ha. Very cute. But the fact remains that a Rebbe was respected and obeyed just the same if not more.

But truth be told; this has been going on for centuries already, nothing really to do with the dawn of the great Yeshivos and Kolelim. I was just reading about the Yeshiva Eitz Chaim and what happened in the 1860s in Yerushalayim with a new head of the school who had recently come from di Lita and decided to implement some changes to the system. (Rav Nissen Tikutchinski, son of Rav Michel and head of Eitz Chaim in J'lem, just passed away last week.) I believe he wanted to be able to raise money independently from the Kolel system that existed, and wanted to have donors give donations directly to the cheder/yeshivah. Rav Shmuel Salant, the undisputed leader of Jerusalem Jewry at that time - or so we thought - was adamantly opposed to any change in the system, but they basically thumbed their very noses at him. They were very determined, and they used the press of the day - periodicals like Chavatzelet, to make their point. Even Reb Shmuel did not have the last word. True, they used Reb Nissan Bak's publication to publicize their opinions, and maybe the fact that he was a chossid and RSS a non-Chossid had something to do with them not respecting RSS, but that's not entirely true, since the man who wanted to change the system was a non-Chossid from ראדישקעוויץ, so he was surely "supposed to respect RSS. Can you imagine that happening at all? We always assumed that the only ones to defy RSS were the Maskilim and the irreligious, but not frum Jews! And ultimately Eitz Chaim got what it wanted, and the Kolel system of Chalukos was irreversibly damaged, and remains so until today.

What's ironic about all this is that davka in אר"י has it become so that they have at least succeeded to form some kind of authority that people listen to. They succeeded when it came to Kosher phones and Mehadrin buses. In America there is none! And if think they can create one by making an Ichud HaKehillos they're sorely mistaken. So despite the fact that in the US people work and earn a living still we see that they have little respect for Daas Torah. So I guess blaming RAK would simply be unfair. So the answer to the question posed in the title of this post is "no." Maybe it's the וישמן ישורון ויבעט that did us in. We're too rich so we kick away DT. איי, we have a hard time paying tuition, utilities, mortgage, camp, seminaries, wedding, bar mitzvas, sheitel for the wife, etc. - that doesn't to matter. We're still too rich. But we're not too rich to be ignored when it comes to supporting those houses of learning. So I guess, what I'm trying to say is that if we give credit to RAK for "building Torah in America," then doesn't he have to "take the blame" as well? If this is what the building of Torah created then he who created gets the credit/blame. {after all, the Satmar Rov created Shtreimlach and Cholov Yisroel drinkers and Tznius'dike women, but he doesn't take credit for building Torah, so we can't pin this on him...}

37 comments:

Menashe said...

Difficult to read with all the typos.

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

very cute, Menashe

Anonymous said...

Hirshel
Are you sure the Rebbe on the picture is the Kopishnitzer?
He looks larger then on must pictures

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

yes, I'm sure

BelzFinAMool said...

This is quite a stretch , even for me, blaming RAK for the ills of Torah life America.
America, even Lakewood itself, is by now much bigger and diverse, much more affluent, influenced by both the Gass and by Chasidim, to be attributed to RAK.
Elah Mei, you're a Chabadsker, and they have known antipathy to RAK.

snagville said...

As i said i agree with you a lot and this is one of those times. It is a little ironic because the point of the Haaretz article was Gedolim living past their prime, and R' Aron epitomized A Godol who went out on top so to speak having given Shiur the day before he died.

Fed Up In Peoria said...

A drunken rant.
When did anyone listen to da'as Torah? Were they aware of Gedolim in Anatekva? It was a village not a global village. They didn't get faxes from the Rebben's hoif.

zanvel said...

Hershel, your remarks are typical Ma Ahano Lon RaBonon
You are chewing over A. Pfeffers Shtusem and using it to degrade someone who established the biggest mukoim torah in America but didn't like your Getska,
If you converted to lubavitch give us a synopsis how every YO YO became a shleich and has no first hand connection to Loimdei torah and missin gout on Uboi Sidbok

A mayvin vie a katz oif heyvin said...

Not Lakewood. Lederer's Park House in Fleischmanns NY.

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

If I didn't know better I would say Zanvel is Zanvel G______......

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

Thank, a mayvin
How you know this?

Anonymous said...

the guy who didnt like the picture of the kapitchnitzer wearing sunglasses cutting wheat will claim copyright on this gem of a picture too...

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

On that one he could say it didn't פאס
on this he has no such claim

shaalas tam said...

איינער פרעגט פארוואס די באנק איז פארמאכט מארגען. ער האט נאך קיינמאל נישט געזעהן א שווארצן מאכן א דיפאזעט

Anonymous said...

http://thepartialview.blogspot.com/2012/01/catch-22.html

A mayvin vie a katz oif heyvin said...

The beauty of your site was the nice pictures to download. Please post picture with defacement.

Anonymous said...

If belz is asking mechila of the holy satmer rebbe, should all the local jerks too?

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

they're called watermarks, but maybe in this case you're right. I did kind of deface it. But I was protecting my intellectual property, if you will. Oh, who am I kidding? I'll re-post the original without the markings.

Thanks

A mayvin vie a katz oif heyvin said...

you're a darling

A mayvin vie a katz oif heyvin said...

Reb Ahron & Lederer's Hotel

http://www.shemayisrael.com/ravaharon/audio/126%20R%27%20%20Binyomin%20Lederer.mp3

from here

http://www.shemayisrael.com/ravaharon/

dovy in jersey said...

methinks what destroyed da'as torah amongst the litvaks is the weird system of nepotism. the chasids are trained to beleive that a rebbe is born with a "hechere neshama" and holy kishkes and is automatically higher then they can ever be so they must accept his authority even if he's an ignoramous. litvaks do not beleive this and in theory the most choshuve talmid chochom should become rosh yeshiva. thus, when they see banshaks declaring themselves gedolim because they are _____'s einekel and inherited his yeshivah, they of course don't really respect him and at best tolerate him to avoid anarchy.

Anonymous said...

dovy in jersey,
methinks what destroyed da'as torah amongst the litvaks is the weird system of nepotism."

ditto ditto ditto. the litvaks unfortunately have picked up the biggest downside to modern day chassidim without the emunah to go along with it. The tzanzer warned of this during his battle with the rihzne ainiklach and his own descendants are fighting the nastiest battles over rabbisteve yerushas (satmar, bobov, klausenberg).

One more point to this,and i'm surprised anshel pfeffer didn't elaborate on it. We have a situation today where someone is annointed by the media as the posek ha'dor and every rov is supposed to be mach'nia to him. If the issues he supposedly paskens on were global issues, it would be halbe tzora. Thnx to technology, he can say something about wearing crocs on yom kippur and everyone has to know about it. so then the stories start about his mental competence, his gaboyim are running him, etc. if he's just a Rebbe giving moral guidance, it's take it or leave it. But we are the halacha society, and having psak halacha decided by someone who it's questionable if he has the proper info is a very dangerous way to live.

Moti said...

You have the whole thing backwards, and your thesis is ridiculous. It has no basis in fact. A dispute could occur with Rav Shmuel Salant (or within the Volozhin yeshiva, or elsewhere) because they did *not* subscribe to the notion of 'daas toirah' that everyone refers to today. Maybe the chasidim did, and even that wasn't universal -as seen by the occasional disputes and splits that occurred among chasidim. But the larger world of frum Jews (Ashkenazi and Sefardi) just didn't work with this notion of an all-encompassing, all-applicable 'daas toirah'. It simply wasn't the case. This idea has spread from the chasidim and crept into the misnagdishe world - along with uniformity of dress and other things. That is the main reason that Rav YB Soloveitchik often displayed the limits of rabbinic authority in his dealings with others. He wasn't being modern. Just the opposite - he was preserving the rabbinic manner that had been displayed by generations of his predecessors. 'Daas Toirah' as it is used today is a great distortion of Torah and mesorah.

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

good point Moti
but they did try to create that "one opinion" world here in the US

yankel said...

The idea of Da'as Torah was DOA. It started and finished with the second generation of the post-holocaust Yeshiva world. We should not mourn its loss, just forget it ever existed.
In the hakdomo of Zichron Ya'akov (from Y. Lifschitz, secretary of R' Yitzchok Elchonon) they quote a store. R' Yisroel Salanter wanted an article written explainig the correct opinion on something. He tested YL by asking him to do something he did not hold of. YL refused again again, even though R' Yisroel Salanter was the Gadol of that neighborhood. R' Yisroel inferred from that that he was the correct candidate to write the article. That tells us a)there were always da'as Torah believers, and b)R' Yisroel Salanter did not hold of them.

yankel said...

Sorry, it is a story they quote, not a store.

Anonymous said...

Anon
"The tzanzer warned of this during his battle with the rihzne ainiklach and his own descendants are fighting the nastiest battles over rabbisteve yerushas (satmar, bobov, klausenberg)."
I don't know about the Sanzer fighting Nepotisim, since he himself fought tooth and nail, to get his sons good Rabunesen.
But its amazing what they are doing to his original famous Teshuva regarding yerusha on Rebisteve/Admoirois.
The Sanzer Ruv claims that in din torah nobody can claim the seat of Rebistebve, it all depends who the Chasidim feel that their souls is connected to.
All the din torah that are relevant in that field are for Rabunes only.
But our current din torah institutions, came up with a loophole, that today rebisteves are usualy entwined with real estate, then its already a legit Din Torah and the Sanzer ruvs teshuva becomes obsolete in that instance.
The first ruv that emphasized that point in print, is a Sanzer chosid affiliated with the Netanya Sanzer Rebbe.
They would never do that maneuver with his pesak in Mikvoath...

Anonymous said...

While Anshel Pfeffer makes a lot of sense in his article, you arrived to the totally wrong מסכנה

Let's accept the premise that RAK actions caused us to lose the respect for Daas Torah but think for a second how would have we looked without the great Yeshivos and Kolelim today, maybe we would have had respect for Daas Torah! but our entire generation would have been גוים גימורים

So I think RAK should take the full credit that we have now thousands upon thousands of Jews sitting and learning !

PS By the way if you did get to the right conclusion (although not for my reasons) in the end that RAK did not destroy Daas Torah, then its not very ethical to have such a headline but then again its just a blog

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

מסקנה, not מסכנה

Yeedle said...

מסכן שכמותו

Anonymous said...

Anon
"but our entire generation would have been גוים גימורים "
are all yiden that work in B&H goyim Gemurim?
are you nuts????

Anonymous said...

Anon
"but our entire generation would have been גוים גימורים "
was RAK's father a Kolel Yungerman? or a Yegiyas Kepiem Yid?

Anonymous said...

You are brilliant! This was a great peace, not just the old stuff recycled, I loved it. (when dol you have time to think about this nonsense)BTW, in Chasidic publications they refer to א''י AS אר''י?

Twistelton-Twistelton said...

Maybe I am missing something, but I didn't take this article as an atrtack on RAK. And I have to agree with two premises, that this "Da'ad torah" garbage is a shift over from Chassidim, and that the large amount of talmid Chachomim (who often watch less qualified people get positions due to nepotisim) has greatly contributed to the lack of belief in so called "Gedolim", as does the proximity, in which we all get to hear all the inside scoop.

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

That's because there WAS no attack. And you can't see what does not exist.
Thanks, Twisty. Nice of you to stop by.

moshe moshel said...

no picture credit given to you for this gem in the insert in the hamodia about the yortzait.... shock!

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

נו נו כפרת עוונות