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Volume 03 : Number 009

Sunday, March 28 1999

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Fri, 26 Mar 1999 13:05:18 -0500
From: David Glasner <DGLASNER@FTC.GOV>
More haughtiness from the academy

Mechy Frankel and Rabbi Bechhoffer wrote:

> But even accepting RYGB's brisker take, I would not have picked
> humbleness vs haughtiness as the demarcation. I would probably have gone
> for something more related to intellectual honesty, as intrinsically

Tsk. Tsk. You would like to call it intellectual honesty (IH), perhaps -
but, if you find haughtiness offensive, I find IH shamelessly
self-promotional (haughty?).

> bound up to identification with a maimonidean shima ho'emes mime
> she'omiro approach - but that's not quite right either since many
> exemplary instances of such certainly exist in the yeshivoh.  Maybe it
> has to do with the relative hispashtus of such in the camps, if only as
> an ideal to be pursued.  Haughtiness - aside from the intrinsic
> offensiveness, gotta watch those hot button words - has little to do
> with it. 

I invite another phrase - but methinks I see you agreeing in principle An
academic perspective is one of critique and assessment - that, by
definition, places the critic on a perch from which he feels capable of
looking down on the subject below him and critiquing it. The yeshiva
perspective starts - as in a R' Chaim - from the assumption that everyone
is correct - let us figure out how.

I realize that it does get tiresome to keep quoting one¢s ancestors, though not quite as bad as quoting one¢s self.  But I just can¢t help myself.  From the letter published by the Dor Revi¢i in the introduction to Ohr Bahir, which I quoted from a while back concerning ruah ha-kodesh we find the following on the propriety of disagreeing with those greater and holier than one's self.  Since Rabbi B. blew off this letter earlier as a polemical outburst as opposed to the dispassionate analysis to which he seems partial, I will first quote (untranslated) the Dor Revi¢i¢s own characterization of the letter before he himself quoted it.  "v¢atah atzia ohd mikhtav ehad she¢heishavti l¢rav ehad b¢inyan zeh, asher boh bei¢arti ma¢amadi u-matzavi derech clal b¢miktzo¢a gadol she¢hu clal gadol ba-torah.  Hi emunati, bah ehyeh v¢amut.  V¢kavati ohtoh l¢oht ohlam l¢zera aharai."

"First I see in his letter that his highness wishes to awaken me concerning the greatness of the holy gaon [Divrei Haim] ztz"l, as if I require his opinion on this.  Not so, my friend.  I understand his greatness in niglah at least (and with nistarot I have nothing to do).  And for a man of G-d like him, only silence is praise.  But with all the honor and reverence that I feel in my soul concerning the splendor of his greatness, I don¢t find it a slight or disrespectful, after begging the pardon of the honor of his Torah, to write that he erred in one of his opinions if the open truth (which also has nothing to do with nistarot) compels me to do so.

"Go out and see the way of the holy gaon z"l himself -- who presumably was suffused with the trait of humility, without which, according to Chazal,  ruah ha-kodesh does not descend upon a sage -- who in his responsa pours scorn on the words of the greatest of the Aharonim in general and in particular.  And with words and expressions as hard as sinews, he contradicted their words without pity and without deference wherever his judgment (shikul da¢ato) decides against them.  This was the way of the Rishonim and many of the greatest of the Aharonim whose aim and longing was only for the truth.  According to their conclusion that they had arrived at the truth they would, without pity or begging pardon, demolish and destroy the words of others.  There is no disrespect in this, for it is the way of Torah.  One builds and one destroys, one thinks and another undermines his thought.  And often in the heat of concentration and the urgency of argument in pursuit of the truth, they would!
 also utter hard words to support their opinion.  So we find in Shas and Rishonim shocking words as Abaye said about R. Avin (Pesahim 70b) and the like.  And who can count the similar expressions in the comments of the Ra¢avad on the Rambam and the Rashba in the Mishmeret ha-Bayit against the Ra¢ah and the Ramban against the Razah.  It was also so among the greatest of the Aharonim.  For example see Yoreh De¢ah 98:1 in the comments of the Gra who wrote about Maran ha-M¢haber that he erred without first begging his pardon.  And I will now quote for his highness the words of Ya¢avetz ztz"l in his Responsa 1:33, at the end of the responsum.  ¡It is a great rule in our hands that there is no deference in Torah and it is not in heaven, but it is lying in the corners for any who understand.  Talmid she¢omer d¢var halachah ein maznihin oto.  Hulin 7a.  My heart has therefore sometimes found it fitting to write when I reflected on the great researchers that they occasionally erred, ev!
en though she¢tova tzipornam mikreisi.  But halila that I should c
soul.  Hashem knows that my eyes have not been haughty, but the love of truth has broken through the wall of propriety, for we have a tradition from our ancestors and teachers that this is the way of Torah.  And the rav ba¢al Havot Yair expounded at length about this as all the books are full mouth to mouth and as the Rosh said in a responsum "Torah hi v¢ein mahnifin bah."  I have therefore not prevented my pen from commiting to paper that which is with me.  And my master relies on a hazakah that it is impossible that the gaon ba¢al Tosafot Yom Tov would have erred in such a thing.  But if we made such inferences, we could not study.  V¢ein l¢dayan ela mah she¢einav ro¢ot.¢  Till here are his words warmed by the love of truth and the love of Torah.

But perhaps his highness will say that in this late generation, they have departed from this path and they speak with added subservience -- ¡lo zakhiti l¢havin et da¢at kodsho¢ and the like.  Does he really believe in his heart that we have surpassed our fathers and teachers, n"e, in the trait of humility and propriety, and that this generation has become more worthy?  G-d forbid such a thought.  The only reason for this is that in our lowly generation the lofty truth has been brought low and there is no one who is moved to fight for it as in earlier generations.  And because of this, flattery has become magnified, and the poisonous fruit of speaking insincerely ("ehad b¢peh v¢ehad b¢leiv") has ripened and the world is full of exaggerated expressions that frighten the ear that hears and the eye that reads.  Nor is there any need to dwell on this to show how much our generation has declined in this respect, for it is well known and requires no proof."

David Glasner

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Date: Fri, 26 Mar 1999 14:00:34 -0500
From: richard_wolpoe@ibi.com
Shoftim not Shortim

>>>>>I've alwasy been bothered by an apparent contradiction; our desire to
the Shortim as in Hoshivo, and a desire to restore Malchus, as in Es Tzemach.

No, even if you have a melech there is a mitzva of shoftim v'shotrim titen

- -CB<<

Whoops! Correction! shortim is a TYPO, it's supposed to be shoFtim.  The 
apparent contradiction is having Shoftim such as Shmuel concurrent with a 

Rich wolpoe

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Date: Fri, 26 Mar 1999 17:16:23 -0600 (CST)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: More haughtiness from the academy

On Fri, 26 Mar 1999, David Glasner wrote:

[Much dleted from the Dor Revi'i.]

I very much appreciate your evidence to my position from your sainted
ancestor! We see that even a talmid chochom of such epic magnitude as the
DR - as you note in the praise that even Litvaks heaped upon him - no mean
thing indeed, considering Litvishe antipathies towards Hungarians! -
expresses extreme humility and deference vis a vis even recent Acharonim
like the Divrei Chaim. Of course, the DR was a far greater Talmid Chochom
than we can ever imagine, yet aplogizes profusly for arguing with the DC!


Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Cong. Bais Tefila, 3555 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL, 60659
ygb@aishdas.org, http://www.aishdas.org/baistefila

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Date: Sun, 28 Mar 1999 14:26:49 +0200 ("IST)
From: Eli Turkel <turkel@math.tau.ac.il>

Subject: religious values

R YGB brought the Meimad statements about poverty and arms.

I think that in general there seems seems to be a de-emphasis in
modern day Judaism on what I would call generalized ben adam le-chavero.
These include topics like Meimad mentions but also problems like ecology
(which in fact R. YGB has himself addressed). Thus, although individual
people (icluding myself) have written about ecology I would hardly call
it a burning issue in the religious community. As distinct from the
Meimad issues ecology is an issue that can be addressed on the
individual basis, eg such simple things as turning off electric lights
and other obvious waste.

Of course, this is in addition to the general de-emphasis on mitzvot
ben adam le-chavero (de-emphasis in practicde not in principle).

chag kasher vesameach,
Eli Turkel

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