Avodah Mailing List
Volume 02 : Number 094
Monday, December 28 1998
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1998 11:21:40 -0500 (EST)
From: Sammy Ominsky <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I fear I owe the group as a whole an apology for an e-mail I sent last
night with the alias "Yo Mama" as the sender. I set it up as a joke, but
I've been reminded that some may not find it funny, and in fact perhaps
I don't usually use it for my "real" e-mail and did it last night without
realizing. B'li neder it won't happen again.
Again, my apologies.
Go to top.
Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1998 11:50:26 -0500 (EST)
From: email@example.com (Arnold Lustiger)
Subject: Lubavitch, R. Keller and the Moetzes
> As for our credibility, the leadership of the major =
>Orthodox organizations are well aware-and have been informed on the =
>internal dynamics [of the Meshichist phenomenon] . One of the reasons they
have stayed away from the =
>issue is that they understand what we are doing. We have had extensive =
>discussions with them. I have personaly particpated in some of these =
> You may think you know what to do however unless you will =
>spend time to develop an understanding of the internal dynamics of =
>Lubavitch you will not accomplish anythin. Then again you can as a =
>recent writer of an article for the Jewish Observer, with a long history =
>of animus for Lubavitch and use this issue as another arrow in their =
>quivers in which to attack.
There is a contradiction in these two paragraphs of which you may be
unaware. R. Chaim Dov Keller, whose article was reprinted in Volume 92, is
on the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah (or at least the nesius) of Agudath Israel.
Clearly, the "Orthodox organizations" have not "stayed away from the issue"
or his very negative article would never have been printed in the Jewish
Observer. He is not merely another "writer...with a long history of animus
for Lubavitch": as close as anyone can, he is expressing the opinion of
American Chareidi Orthodoxy, especially given the fact that in his first
footnote, he indicates that had consulted with his colleagues on the Moetzes
before publishing the article.
The situation clearly is not quite as placid as you wish it to appear.
Go to top.
Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1998 09:48:34 -0500
Subject: Elitism & chasidism
In connection with our thread on kollelim, does this mean that mitnagdim are
by nature elitists in that those blessed by hashem with the greater
intellectual ability will be the most successful in limud tora?
Indeed, it was Litvishe elitism that spurred on the growth of Chasidism (at
leats according to many historias)
Elitism left other Yiddn discouraged. Chassidism removed the feelings of
inferiority by equating Avodas Hashehm with Acheivement in Talmud Torah.
B'kitsur, the good news re: chassisdism is that EVERY yid is importnat, the bad
news is that it served to break down the hierarhcy of Rabbanus, lomdus, and
Go to top.
Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1998 13:04:00 -0500
From: "Clark, Eli" <clarke@HUGHESHUBBARD.COM>
Subject: R. Soloveitchik on emunah peshutah vs. heseg sikhli
In an enlightening post regarding the evolution of Habad theology, RYGB
>The greatest connection to Hashem one can experience is that generated by
>one's Emuna Peshuta: The raw, emotional, elemental dveykus in Hashem that
>emantaes from "dos pintele Yid" - the "chelek Eloka me'ma'al mamash" -
>that is truly the heart of every Jew.
>Yet, on the other hand, there is a mitzva of Talmud Torah - to utilize
>one's intellect and hone one's mind in rational study of Chochmas Hashem.
>But - the more one studies, the more complex, rational and intellectual,
>one's yedi'as Hashem will become. This intellectual relationship with
>Hashem impedes and sullies one's emotional intimacy with Hashem grounded
>in Emuna Peshuta. Ahava and yir'ah are elemental forces - and the
>intellect is not a medium for such forces - if anything, it diminishes
Those who are familiar with the philosophy of Rav Yosef B. Soloveitchik
will immediately recognize echoes of a recurrent theme in his writings:
that the Gedolim who achieved intellectual greatness in talmud Torah
never lost their simple child-like emunah in haKadosh Barukh Hu. It
seems fair to say that Rav Soloveitchik saw these two qualities as
co-existing in dialectical tension, rather than cancelling out one
Go to top.
Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1998 13:13:00 -0500
From: "Clark, Eli" <clarke@HUGHESHUBBARD.COM>
Subject: Aseret ha-Dibberot including all of Taryag
Elie Ginsparg writes:
>Second of all, I came across a medrash (bamidbar rabbah 13) which says
>that all the mitzvos are included in the 10 commandments, the proof-there
>are 620 letters in the first account of the 10 commandments, 613-one for
>each mitzva and 7 corresponding to the seven days of creation which would
>have been nullified if the jews didn't accept the torah. What interests me
>more than the medrash itself is that if I would have made it up (or one
>of the torah code people) many cynics out there would have simply brushed
>it off, now that its a medrash I imagine it's a little harder to ignore, I
>just found it interesting that a medrash would darshen the torah in this
>way---more than a regular gematria
A number of variants of this midrash appear in different texts. I can
provide mar'eh mekomot upon request. (As it happens, I dedicated a
shiur to this topic on Shavu'ot a number of years ago.)
A number of Rishonim went to the trouble of actually demonstrating how
all of Taryag were subsumed under the Aseret ha-Dibberot. Abravanel
does this in his Perush al ha-Torah. R. Bahya (in Kad ha-Kemah) does so
as well. In addition various medieval piyyutim are dedicated to this
A reasonable interpretation of this midrash -- and its later development
in the time of the Rishonim -- is that it was motivated by a desire to
respond to the well-known, spurious claim (tiromet ha-minim) that only
the Aseret ha-Dibberot were given mi-pi ha-Gevurah.
Go to top.
Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1998 13:22:52 -0500 (EST)
From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@IDT.NET>
Subject: Re: Avodah V2 #93
> Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1998 08:51:48 -0600 (CST)
> From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Subject: Re: Avodah V2 #90
> On Mon, 28 Dec 1998, Zvi Weiss wrote:
> > ===> Is there an element of Kefira here? In effect, the letter states
> > that the "regular" fulfillment of Mitzvas HaBorei actually *harms* one's
> > connection to HaShem! I have a logical problem in understanding such a
> > statement.
> No offense, as I am also one, but you are a tinok she'nishba, i.e., not a
> Chasid - of any sort - if you have that kashya! THe problem of intellect
> vs. dveykus is one already addressed by the Ba'al Shem Tov himself - in
> several places in the Tzava'as Ha"Rivash - now I believe available in
> English from Kehos.
===> I seem to recall that R. Chaim of Volozhin was VERY opposed to the
BeSHT's presentation on this matter. My primary issues, however, is that
we *know* that we have been given Mitzvos (including limud Torah) and the
concept of "emuna peshuta" being the "highest" means of attachment -- even
if it is in conflict with the fulfillment of Mitzvot themselves seems
untenable. Note: I am not questioning the value of "emuna peshuta". I am
posing an intellectual challenge to being able to assert that it is
superior to the attachment achieved by Shemirat Hamitzvot. Also, the fact
that this is a "new" theology indicates that this was NOT necessarily the
> > ===> So, the "logical" conclusion is that the emotional attachment is
> > NOT the "best" of "strongest" attachment... Rather, the emotional
> > attachment is based upon the intellectual knowledge that one is
> > "fulfilling the Will of the King" -- which should cause one happiness...
> > (if one has achieved such a high level).
> Again - that is Misnagdic logic. Love is irrational - and Ahavas Hashem,
> therefore, is ir-, or super- rational. If only love can cause true
> happiness, then it has little to do with intellect.
===> Is a source supplied that "lov is irrational"? Or is this an
assertion based upon earthly emotions and feelings?
> > ===> this is only a "paradox" if the first item about "emuna peshuta" is
> > correct. I note that this is stated as an axiom and is not proven.
> > ===> another unproven concept: Maybe it is a DIFFERENT gadol hador who is
> > the "yechida klalis"...
> Yes, perhaps, but in Lubavitch they believe that the mantle of the Magid
> went down to the Ba'al HaTanya, etc.
====> I am not saying that the Ba'al Hatanya did not get the mantle for
*Toras Hachasidus* -- only that we cannot automatically infer that such a
person is ALSO the "Yechida Klalis".
> > ==> Where does this segula come from?
> >From a Rebbe's inherent dveykus.
===> How does such dveykus provide this segula? Sounds to me like a
certian amount of self-serving "hand-waving" at this point.
> > ===> Which means that Lubavitchers are ignorant of non-lubavitch matters
> > and may not even be able to discuss them intellgently. It also explains
> > the ignorance I have encountered of halachos that are not in shulchan
> > aruch Harav and the ignorance of Talmudic sources that may actually
> > *explain* some ChaBad customs....
> Let us, however, be fair. It is a rare non-Lubavitcher that reads Likutei
> Torah and Tzemach Tzedek as well!
===> True -- but being ignorant of the Talmud behind one's own hanhagos
seems to be a bit more of an extreme -- which I have actually encountered.
> > ===> Seems like there has been a perversion of the concept that a ba'al
> > techuva is greater than a tzaddik gamur...
> You might call it a perversion. Others would call it your bias.
===> Part of the problem is that the gemara, itself has a machlokes on
this matter and it certianly does not sound as if the issue is that the
Tzaddik mentioned should need any sort of "re-programming".
> > ===> Is this not an example of kefira? what happened to that there is no
> > tzaddik who will not sin....?
> Is that one of the ikkarei ha'emuna? If not, its converse cannot be
> kefira. Besides, before a Rebbe becomes Rebbe he is not Rebbe and then
> might have sinned. (BTW, I would wager that if you asked a Satmar Chossid
> if R' Yoel ever sinned; a Gerrer if the Sefas Emes ever sinned, and a
> Klausenberger if the Divrei Chaim ever sinned, you would get the same
> answer. Speaking of the latter and infalliility, did you know that the
> Chassidim that shtam from the Divrei Chaim - including Bobov etc. - still
> make a "shehakol" on potatoes because the Divrei Chaim identified them as
> "kemaihim u'pitrios?"
===> To promulgate a concept that contradicts a pasuk (that accepted more
or less as is) seems to me vbery problematic. Of course that there was
sin *before* the "rise to power" is a possibility BUT we find that even
Moshe appears to have "stumbled" AFTER his "rise" and I have some serious
reservations in trying to claim that the Rebbe is "greater" than Moshe...
As far as P'sak is concerned, that is not exactly the same thing. Until
you hear from a Posek that he has erred, I do not know if you can
disregard his p'sak because you "know better"... (That is most likely a
> > ===> This seems to present problems of kefira, as well.... The
> > assertion that the directive of a Gadol is *as intrinsically important*
> > as a Mitzva of the Torah seems a bit problematic. (I note that there is
> > a mitzva to listen to Talmidei Chachamim but that is not in terms of the
> > intrinsic value of the activity involved).
> Again, I do not discern here kefira in any known ikkar ha'emuna. Indeed,
> one could argue that "gedolim divrei sofriim" applies to chachmei kol
> va'dor just as the Chinuch says "Lo Tasur" does.
===> Again, the "importance" lies in the mitzva of "Lo Tasur" -- NOT in
the intrinsic value of the action prescribed.... To state that an action
is *intrinsically* superior to Ma'asei Hamitzvot commanded from G-d seems
-- to me -- somewhat problematic.
> > ===> what caused the shift from the "old" to this "new" theology?
> > Perhaps, this is what caused Chassidus to be placed under a cherem at
> > its inception? I understand that the Tzemach Tzedek stated that teh
> > cherem was necessary to control the "fire" of Chassidus... Maybe this is
> > what he had in mind....
> I gave a theory in my later post on the topic, ayain sham.
===> I missed it and will re-look...
> > ===> Why? Maybe each Nasi has to start over again to do the Avoda which
> > will enable him to achieve those gilu'im....
> It seems the neshama of yechida is mis'aber in each Nosi - this concept of
> ibbur neshomo is an ancient Kabbalistic one. They didn't make it up.
===> Agreed that they did not make up the concept of Ibbur -- they "made
up" the particular application of that concept...
> > ===> I do not doubt the care with which YGB presented this material. My
> > question is that maybe this stuff is *real* kefira...
> Again, except for the lunatics who have equated Rebbe with G-d, r"l, we
> might find the theology strange, but I think one would be hard pressed to
> call it kefira. I will make this post more strident under separate cover.
===> You will note that I raise it as a question -- not as an assertion.
However, there seem to be problematic elements here and I can certainly
see why some groups (esp. the "old-time" litvish types) regard them with
> Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
> Cong. Bais Tefila, 3555 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL, 60659
> email@example.com, http://www.aishdas.org/baistefila
Go to top.
Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1998 13:35:58 -0500 (EST)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Micha Berger)
Subject: Rabbi Schochet on Rav Keller on...
G-d Centered or Machloket-Centered: Which is Normative Judaism?
A Response to Rabbi Chaim Dov Keller of Chicago
by Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet
Rabbi C.D. Keller of Chicago just published an article in The Jewish Observer
of March 1998, titled "G-d-Centered or Rebbe/Messiah- Centered: Which is
Normative Judaism?" It focuses on crude utterances by elements that identify
with Lubavitch. By applying the notorious device of "guilt by association,"
however, his nine-page article is turned into an implicit and explicit attack
on Lubavitch and Chassidic practices.
To be sure, he throws in a few compliments -- e.g., "the Lubavitcher Rebbe
created the world's largest Jewish outreach organization and one of the
largest educational networks ... a movement with so much good to its credit
and so much mesiras nefesh." This concession, however, along with the number
of valid criticisms, emerge as no more than consideration of the sayings of
our sages that falsehood and lashon hara need an admixture of some truth to
I will not defend the "Meshichists," and certainly not the grotesque and
disgusting publications so widely quoted by Rabbi Keller. In most respects,
I, along with all responsible Lubavitchers that I know, share his opinions
about them. The author of the obscene article in Beis Moshiach, cited by
Rabbi Keller, can affirm that I was the first to rebuke him that his words
are tantamount to avodah zara. I have stated the same in public as well,
and did so as soon as I was shown the article, a few days after its appearance.
My reaction to Rabbi Keller's article relates to its own faults and
repugnance. A full response would require at least twice the size of his
nine pages, thus I have to restrict myself to general observations and only
a few specific points that are symptomatic of his approach.
1. First and foremost: what was the purpose or justification of the
article? Rabbi Keller himself concedes that "it will not make any difference
to the Messianists. They will remain steadfast in their faith. For most
others (sic) it is not necessary because the fallacies are obvious." Thus
he claims to address "those who may be confused." Just who are those
readers of The Jewish Observer who may be confused?
2. Rabbi Keller published an article in The Jewish Observer six months earlier
in which he already scored all his basic points against the Messianists. The
second article is essentially a more detailed, lengthy repetition of
the first. If his concern is with "those who may be confused" - why the
duplication? Did they become more confused? If they did not believe him
the first time, why should they believe him with his "second coming"?
To be sure, chewing the cud is a sign of kashrut; but he should have heeded
the warnings of our sages that hamarbeh devarim meivi chet, marbeh shtus
and marbeh sheker [One who says too much can bring to sin, folly and lies].
3. Where did Rabbi Keller find a "hetter" [permit] to print, repeatedly
and in a public forum, words of blasphemy and idolatry, especially when
addressing an audience "who may be confused"? The question is compounded
when noting that Rabbi Keller himself acknowledges that these are matters
"that should not be heard"!
4. Rabbi Keller states that he submitted his article to "several widely
respected Gedolei Torah [Torah Giants] - both Chassidic and non-Chassidic
-who urged its publication."
Question: Who are these "widely respected Gedolei Torah"? Why does he
not identify them? Moreover, if this is so urgent an act of saving the
souls of "those who may be confused," and it is a case of "eit la'asot
laHashem etc. [a time to take action in behalf of G-d], why did these
Gedolei Torah fail to issue some statement of their own, or at least
authorize a signed approbation to Rabbi Keller's article? After all,
in matters of piku'ach nefesh [saving a life] it is incumbent upon the
gedolim to take the initiative!
My question is not of curiosity but of principle. Without using any ru'ach
hakodesh [holy insights], I, and many others, can easily draw up a list of
the men Rabbi Keller would approach for approval of an article of this kind.
5. Rabbi Keller states that a response to his first article was circulated
by Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz of Chicago, and adds that he does not intend to
respond to it. I took the trouble to contact Rabbi Moscowitz and asked him
for a copy. It turns out that the response was a "Letter to the Editor
of The Jewish Observer" which, not surprisingly, the editor refused to
publish. Rabbi Moscowitz informed me that he sent a copy to Rabbi Keller
and to a few people who approached him about that article. His response
dealt exclusively with a defense of two principles that Rabbi Keller
It is then certainly astonishing to find Rabbi Keller attacking Rabbi
Moscowitz and his letter without the public knowing about its contents. In
spite of disclaiming any intent to answer that letter, it is very clear
that Rabbi Keller's second article is provoked by it. He condemns Rabbi
Moscowitz for not repudiating the offensive statements of the Messianists
(which was beyond the scope of his response) and takes direct issue with
one part of his reply.
Moreover, Rabbi Keller attributes to Rabbi Moscowitz a defense of five
issues as "normative." Four of these are not mentioned at all in Rabbi
Moscowitz's letter, and one of these had not even been mentioned in Rabbi
Keller's first article. His present article thus becomes a classical example
of Rabbi Moscowitz arguing about wheat and Rabbi Keller responding about
barley! It is certainly an understatement to condemn this as blatant
Now for a few specifics:
6. Rabbi Keller notes that Rabbi Moscowitz's letter cites sources from
the Talmud, Zohar, Chassidus and Nefesh Hachaim to prove that [the two
items he dealt with, and which had been criticized by Rabbi Keller]
"do not indicate any turn away from normative Yiddishkeit."
He comments: "This to me is extremely disturbing." And in the preamble to
his "refutation" of these two items he writes: "Any serious student of Torah
knows that there are statements in Tanach and in the words of the chachamim
to be taken literally, and those to be understood metaphorically. Whoever
confuses the two is guilty at times of outright kefirah (heresy)."
I could not have put it better. Unfortunately, though, both his examples
are inappropriate. If he had studied the discussion of anthropomorphism in
Chovot Halevovot and Rambam, he would have realized the absurdity of his
analogy with anthropomorphism. His second example of the verses ordaining
tefilin and mezuzah is not only irrelevant to his case but explodes his
very approach: yes, an allegorical reading of these verses would negate
the observance of these mitzvot, but so would their literal reading!
If not for the interpretative tradition of Torah shebe'al peh [the oral
law, given by G-d to Moshe at Sinai], these verses (like most others that
ordain mitzvot) are meaningless.
This raises the crucial question: whose interpretation of the sources
referred to is acceptable? Is it the one of the authoritative commentators
or Rabbi Keller's?
To quote Rabbi Keller: "Not only the average Jew but even the Gedolei Torah
who reviewed this article were not aware of such Torah hashkafos based on
these sources." What is the point? No one suspects them, or Rabbi Keller,
of being familiar with the Zohar, the writings of the Arizal (R. Isaac
Luria), of the Chassidic classics, and so forth. Little wonder, then,
that they do not know about the mystical discussions of the status of
the tzadik and the subtle terminology of Theomorphic ascriptions (see the
well-known interpretations of Ha'azinu 32:46-47 in Sifre and Yerushalmi-
Pe'ah). If they will make the effort to study the works of the Toldot,
the Kedushat Levi, the Tanya, and especially the No'am Elimelech (to name
just a few), they would find there a very "elaborate treatment of these
Newspapers and popular journals are definitely not the forum to discuss
such delicate themes (see Chagigah 11b-ff.). I suggest that they start
with studying Tanya, Igeret Hakodesh, ch. 25, to familiarize themselves
with some basic premises. And if I may be so bold, I refer them to the
monograph "Tzadik Yessod Olam: The Concept of the Rebbe-Tzadik" in my
book Chassidic Dimensions, pp. 81-124.
A cavalier dismissal of the words of our sages, as displayed in the
article, whether it be because of unawareness, failure to understand,
or disagreement, is to be melagleg bedivrei chachamim (see Talmud Baba
Bathra 75a). To repeat Rabbi Keller's words: "Whoever confuses (literal
and metaphorical readings) is guilty at times of outright kefirah!"
7. Rabbi Keller identifies the Messianists' belief that the resurrected
Rebbe will be Moshiach with, lehavdil, Christianity. This obscene analogy
merely displays ignorance of both Judaism and, lehavdil, Christianity.
Unlike the Meshichists, Christians (as well as the Sabbateans) believe
that their savior was already the Messiah in actu, and that the Messianic
redemption is already an established fact, though yet to move to a new
stage with the "second coming." This is not a matter of semantics but
fraught with practical implications: that belief caused them to abrogate
Torah and mitzvot (even as the Sabbateans, too, changed Halachah because
of their belief).
There is not a single case of any Meshichists abrogating or changing a
single mitzvah or aspect of Halachah! In fact, they continuously urge
greater and more punctilious observance of Torah and mitzvot to hasten
More specifically: is it possible for a resurrected tzadik to be
Moshiach? According to Sanhedrin 98b most definitely yes! Is that view
"normative Judaism"? It is certainly not the normative Jewish perception
of Moshiach throughout the ages. By the same token, however, it does
not violate normative Judaism or valid Halachah one iota. The Almighty
can appoint anyone He chooses to be Moshiach, whether he be - to use the
Gemara's expression - "of the living or of the (presently) dead".
Indeed, the Meshichists are not even original. Aside of the Gemara and
the authorities that quote it (e.g., Abarbanel), no less an authority
than R. Menachem Nachum of Czernobyl (author of Me'or Einayim) stated
his conviction that the resurre cted Baal Shem Tov will be Moshiach
(see Sefer Baal Shem Tov, Me'irat Einayim, par. 23).
The Meshichists can and must be criticized for converting a (legitimate)
personal belief and conviction into a categorical imperative. There is
no objective proof that their perception of tzadik hador or nassi hador
supersedes different perceptions by others. Their public claims and
activities, therefore, are a harmful aberration and arrogant triumphalism.
8. Rabbi Keller objects to Chassidim "conjuring up the image of the Rebbe
to strengthen hiskashrus with the Rebbe." He denounces this practice as
contravening the very first paragraph in Shulchan Aruch which mandates
"shiviti Havayah lenegdi tamid."
Once again he mistook his "being not aware of such Torah hashkafos"
to be a license to be melagleg bedivrei chachamim: R. Abba related his
continuous hiskashrus with R. Shimon bar Yochai, to seeing his image before
his eyes (Zohar II:123b; see Chessed LeAvraham - Azulay II:33); and the
Arizal instructs that difficulties in matters of Torah can be overcome
by conjuring up the image of your Rebbe. (See Chida, Midbar Kedeimot,
s.v. tziyur, note there his additional comments and references). The
holy Sar Shalom of Belz stated that when in trouble or need one should
conjure up the image of a tzadik and then will surely be helped (cited
by his son-in-law, R. Chanoch Henech of Olesk, in his Lev Same'ach).
Many authorities relate this to the verse "your eyes shall see your Teacher"
(Isaiah 30:20), to the point that R. Avtalyon Di Consiglia (end of 16th
century) writes in his Palgei Mayim that he kept a picture of his Rebbe
in his Bet Hamidrash in order to fulfill that verse!
9. Rabbi Keller objects also to people submitting questions and problems to the
Rebbe "by writing letters to him and placing them at random in the Rebbe's
Igros Kodesh," and then considering that page to be an answer. Thus he
repeats his habitual error: he rejects the verse "Have I not written unto
you esteemed things of counsels and knowledge" (Mishlei 22:20) as rendered
in Midrash Tanchuma and Pessikta, and interpreted to mean that one can
find counsel by random opening of Torah-texts . Before Rabbi Keller is
tempted to dismiss this, too, as "allegory and metaphor" he should note
that it is cited literally in Halachic context (see Chida, Birkei Yossef,
Yoreh Deah 179:6, and his Devash Lefi, s.v. Torah). (In my humble opinion,
however, this practice requires great caution and qualified guidance,
because there is a danger of subjective interpretation. Nonetheless,
it is a proper and legitimate practice of normative Judaism even if some
"normative Jews" are not aware of it.)
10. All this should suffice to understand the nature and agenda of Rabbi
Keller. The effect of his article is not to resolve confusion but to create
it. Its sole achievement is to generate divisiveness, which is worse than
avodah zara (see Sifre, Nasso, sect. 42, and Bereishit Rabba 38:7).
No one will object to Rabbi Keller, or anyone else, rebuking wrong-doing. To
rebuke wrong-doing is as much a mitzvah of the Torah as to keep Shabbat
and to eat kosher. But just as one cannot observe Shabbat or kashrut
without knowing their laws, so, too, one cannot observe the mitzvah of
hoche'ach tochi'ach [rebuking] without knowing its laws. These include
the Halachic qualifications of the terms amitecha and lo tissa alav chet
that are mentioned in that verse.
"R. Tarfon said: I wonder whether there is anyone in this generation who
is able to reprove; for if anyone says to (a sinner) 'remove the mote
from between your eyes' he would answer 'remove the beam from between your
eyes.' R. Eleazar ben Azarya said, I wonder whether there is anyone in this
generation who is able to accept reproofs. R. Akiva said, I wonder whether
there is anyone in this generation who knows how to reprove." (Arachin 16b)
This, too, is not some "allegorical" Aggada. It has Halachic implications
as noted in Chazon Ish on Hilchot De'ot, ch. 6, and on Yoreh De'ah 13:16,
which the author of the article should ponder most seriously. Moreover,
this Berayta relates e specially to a case when the "beam" in the would-be
rebuker's eyes includes the hardened substance of a consistent opposition
to, and mockery of, Lubavitch and the Rebbe since long before Messianism
became an issue!
Unfortunately, Rabbi Keller dismisses Chassidus a priori, Rachmana
litzlan. As a "normative Jew," however, let alone as a rosh yeshivah,
he must certainly study, and pay attention to, the texts of Chafetz Chaim
and Shemirat Halashon. Proper knowledge of these texts would surely have
prevented him from speaking and writing as he did so far.
This reply is not meant to insult anyone. Rabbi Keller's article cried out
for a response, and Halachah mandates that in the face of a chilul Hashem one
is not to defer even to the honor due to a teacher. If I may have slipped
and offended Rabbi Keller personally - or anyone else - I publicly beg for
his forgiveness. My intent is solely to set the record straight, shelo yarbu
"These are the things you are to do: every one is to speak the truth to his
fellow, administer truth and the judgment of peace in your gates... Love
truth and peace!" (Zachariah 8:16, 19)
Published by the Algemeiner Journal
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212-267-5561 Fax: 212-267-5624
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Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1998 13:34:01 -0600 (CST)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: R. Soloveitchik on emunah peshutah vs. heseg sikhli
On Mon, 28 Dec 1998, Clark, Eli wrote:
> Those who are familiar with the philosophy of Rav Yosef B. Soloveitchik
> will immediately recognize echoes of a recurrent theme in his writings:
> that the Gedolim who achieved intellectual greatness in talmud Torah
> never lost their simple child-like emunah in haKadosh Barukh Hu. It
> seems fair to say that Rav Soloveitchik saw these two qualities as
> co-existing in dialectical tension, rather than cancelling out one
Shades of his Lubavitcher Melamed? :-)
Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Cong. Bais Tefila, 3555 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL, 60659
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Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1998 13:38:24 -0600 (CST)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Avodah V2 #93
On Mon, 28 Dec 1998, Zvi Weiss wrote:
> ===> I seem to recall that R. Chaim of Volozhin was VERY opposed to the
> BeSHT's presentation on this matter. My primary issues, however, is
> that we *know* that we have been given Mitzvos (including limud Torah)
> and the concept of "emuna peshuta" being the "highest" means of
> attachment -- even if it is in conflict with the fulfillment of Mitzvot
> themselves seems untenable. Note: I am not questioning the value of
> "emuna peshuta". I am posing an intellectual challenge to being able to
> assert that it is superior to the attachment achieved by Shemirat
> Hamitzvot. Also, the fact that this is a "new" theology indicates that
> this was NOT necessarily the BeSHT's intent.
True, true, and I too subscribe to R' Chaim's thought - but we cannot ask
a "kashia" from RCV on the Besht.
> ===> Is a source supplied that "lov is irrational"? Or is this an
> assertion based upon earthly emotions and feelings?
I do not recall. I suspect there is. If nudged, I might actually look it
up :-) .
> ====> I am not saying that the Ba'al Hatanya did not get the mantle for
> *Toras Hachasidus* -- only that we cannot automatically infer that such
> a person is ALSO the "Yechida Klalis".
Not me or you - but a Lubavitcher, yes. As to the rest of your queries -
all valid - I am reaching the outer limits of my expertise and
> ===> You will note that I raise it as a question -- not as an assertion.
> However, there seem to be problematic elements here and I can certainly
> see why some groups (esp. the "old-time" litvish types) regard them with
> such antipathy... --Zvi
Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Cong. Bais Tefila, 3555 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL, 60659
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