Avodah Mailing List
Volume 03 : Number 054
Monday, May 17 1999
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 17:56:33 -0400 (EDT)
From: Zvi Weiss <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: More about the Sho'ah commemorations
I would like to suggest a few other factors in this matter:
1. In other catastrophes, there were people left "at the site" (more or
less). For example, after the Crusades, Jews stayed/returned to Ashkenaz
and "rebuilt" their shattered communities. There was a sense of
continuity. It is nto that surprising that a given
community/Kehilla/Country would mourn that which happened to "its own"...
A characteristic of the Sho'a is (it seems) that most people did NOT
return to their "homes" (or at least not very long...). Instead, they
went ELSEWHERE and the sense of "community" was lost -- or greatly
weakened. I think that is part of the reason that it has been hard for
"the people" to focus themselves on this matter. It is nor surprising (to
me) that the "Breuer Kehilla" would have been "in the lead" here (with R.
Schwab composing a Kinah at the request of R. Breuer) since THAT was a
Kehilla that retained its "sense" of self and that could relate to
[current] history. If we are starting now (as was pointed out) to include
kinnot on 9-Av or other such "observances", it may be that the rest of us
are starting to develop that sense of "community"...
2. I do not think that it is accurate to focus on the "Religiosity" of
those killed. I believe that the gemara (in Sanhedrin) states that even a
RASHA that is
killed by Goyim is considered a "chasid" or an "eved" after death. No
matter how irrlegious in life, they were killed BECAUSE THEY WERE JEWISH
and they should be recognized as such...
3. If one is going to discuss a "Rav-like" figure (as opposed to the Rav
ZT"L), one can theorize --- but it seems sort of pointless.... I think
that it is more "useful" to "work with" the Poskim and Gedolim that are
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Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 17:58:00 -0400
From: "Clark, Eli" <clarke@HUGHESHUBBARD.COM>
Subject: More on Yom ha-Shoah, Respect for Gedolim, Speculation
>> But the reason the observant community has not taken any of the steps
>> outlined by Mr. Feldman is not because of the inaction of the Gedolim. It
>> is because our community -- as an organic body -- has not sought such
>> an outlet for its mourning.
Moshe Feldman replies:
>Most Centrist Orthodox synagogues (including Rabbi Feivel Wagner's
>and Rabbi Grunblatt in Forest Hills, where I grew up) have Yom
Well, mi-mah nafshakh. If the day is being commemorated by these
synagogues, then why did you write: "Nonetheless, I do think that the
Jewish community should come up with some takanah to make the Holocaust
remembered on a yearly basis." Yom ha-Shoah is observed annually with
lectures, presentations, and various memorial ceremonies, often
involving the recitation of Kel Male Rahamim.
The issue under discussion, as I understood it (and I assume others
share that understanding), is fixing the Shoah in the Jewish calendar in
a religious sense, to take the example you suggested, through an
intensification of Sefirah observance. This has not occurred and, as I
stated above, the halakhic community has not pressed for such a change.
At least, not that I am aware.
>> In any case, I think it is churlish, highly disprespectful and
>> wrongheaded to complain that the Gedolim are somehow at fault for
>> failing to institute a formalized commemoration of the Shoah.
>I never said anything of the sort. All I said is that there was good reason
for the Gedolim not
>have instituted something in the immediate aftermath of the
>Holocaust, and that 50 years later, the situation has changed.
Forgive me. I obviously misunderstood the following statement of yours:
>I find it difficult to distinguish mourning over the Holocaust from mourning
>massacres (other than the fact that the Shach favored the latter
>mourning while all the gedolim feel too "small"--compared to prior
>generations--to be so proactive;
I thought you were saying that the only reason why the halakhic calendar
does not specifically commemorate the Holocaust is that the Gedolim
today, in contrast to the Shah, are overly humble in their own
self-image. Obviously, I misunderstood. Forgive me.
Moshe wrote: "Had the Rav been 40 years old today, I have the feeling he
would be more proactive with regard to this issue." To which I replied
>> This statement is simply incomprehensible to me. No person knows
>> what he would be like had he been born 40 or 50 years later. How then
>> one can presume to know what another person would have been like in
>> such case?
>I did nothing of the sort. I said that I "have the feeling that,"
>which is a far cry than "presume to know."
You are absolutely correct. I apologize for my mistake. What I should
have written is the following:
How then can one presume to <feel> what another person would have been
like in such a case?
But I realize now that I should retract the question. I thought you
were speculating about what the Rav would have done today had he been 40
years younger. Here again I obviously misunderstood you. In a related
post, you wrote to Zvi Weiss:
>I agree that it is impossible to speculate what
> the Rav would have done.
Personally, I would not have said it is "impossible," only pointless.
But since you feel it is impossible to engage in such speculation, I
clearly erred in thinking that you had done so. Again, my apologies.
And, on a personal note, Moshe writes:
>I don't think anything that I've said differs
>substantially from things you've said to me in the past.
Well, it seems that one or the other of us (or both) has a faulty
In any case, while I do concentrate on developing and formulating my own
opinions, I do not now nor can I recall ever having dedicated myself to
speculation about how the Rav or any other departed gadol would have
changed his public views on a matter had he been born in some other
historical period. Of course, if you can think of an example in which I
did engage in such theorizing, I would be very grateful if you would
remind me of it. Perhaps I have suppressed these memories, in which
case I would be grateful to recover them. (For another thread: is there
a kiyyum in hashavat avedah in restoring to someone his/her lost
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Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 18:28:00 -0400
From: "Clark, Eli" <clarke@HUGHESHUBBARD.COM>
Subject: Sefaradim in the Holocaust
Hershel Ginsburg writes:
>Historical Correction - not only were Sephardim threatened by the Shoah,
>many were its victims. To wit:
>a) The Greek Jewish community, mostly Sephardi and concentrated in
>Salonicki and numbering something around 100,000 was destroyed almost in
>its entirety by the Nazis, ym"sh.
>b) The Jewish communities in the Balkan states, especially Yugoslavia had
>very large Sephardi components and they were destroyed.
>c) Much of the Dutch community was Sephardi.
>d) As Rommell marched through North Africa, many communities either
>escaped or were destroyed by the SS attachments. And finally the entire
>Yishuv, which had a very large Sephardi component, in Brittish Mandatory
>Palestine was living in fear of Rommel and were convinced (until Rommel's
>defeat in El Allemain) that their end was near.
Thank you for correcting my misstatement.
Regarding the Greek Jewish community, it was indeed virtually erased by
the Nazis. In truth, Greece was one of the oldest continuing areas of
Jewish settlement outside of Eretz Yisrael, dating back, I believe, to
Bayyit Sheni. I think the Sefaradim arrived in large numbers starting
However, in terms of minhag and culture, I think most historians view
the Greek community as its own category and do not lump it together with
the Edot Mizrah. Indeed, to the degree that the term Sefaradim is used
today to mean Jews who hail from Arab or Moslem countries (which is the
sense which I intended), the Greek community would likely not be
I think one can also draw a distinction between native populations and
emigre populations. Remember: Ashkenazic Jews in the U.S. were not
threatened by the Shoah. But Ashkenazic culture at the time was not
rooted in North America but in central and eastern Europe. The
devastation visited upon the Jews of Germany. Hungary, Poland and Russia
extinguished a language, a culture and a way of life. In contrast,
Sefardic culture -- as it existed in places such as Morroco, Yemen and
Iraq -- was not destroyed by the Shoah. Admittedly, though, it did not
really survive intact its transplantation to Israel after the Shoah.
But that was a consequence of other historical factors.
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Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 21:05:27 EDT
Subject: Brisker Torah
1. In the "Kuntras HaMoadim miToras Brisk", (Shavous section), the Brisker
Rav is quoted as holding that even empirical observations are validated only
through Torah - e.g. Temurah 16a where the Yehoshua uses a pasuk to prove
that he served Moshe constantly, something Moshe knew from personal
experience; Gittin 6a where the gemera deduces from a pasuk that Bavel is
north of Eretz Yisrael, when a map would suffice. I find the chiddush
remarkable - see Niddah 30b where the chachamim counter R' Yishmael's proofs
from pesukim that a nekeivah is formed after 80 days with proof from
2. On the topic of Brisk, a newly published serfer "Uvdot v"hanhagot shel
contains a wealth of stories about R' Chaim, R' Velvel - none of R' Moshe or
the Rav. Yesh lachkor if they are acknowledged as family members with a psul
of YU, or they are mufka entirely from Bais Brisk : - ).
3. If anyone read the Meshech Chochma on last weeks parsha re: the issur of
zarus not being dependent on an object having kedusha (e.g. acc. to R' Meir
ma'ser may be eaten b'tumah but not be fed to a zar) - it seems to be against
Rambam Ma'aser 1:2 who says neither zarus or tumah applies to ma'ser *because
it is not kadosh* (emph. mine).
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Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 20:51:45 -0500 (CDT)
From: email@example.com (Micha Berger)
Subject: Re: Waiting for Mashi'ah
In v3n53, Eli Clark <clarke@HUGHESHUBBARD.COM> quotes me and comments:
:> The Rambam
:> borrows the pasuk "im tismahmeha, chakei lo" ...
:> The "ani ma'amin" version ...
:> Yigdal, it's "michakei keitz"...
: Methodologically, I think we should focus on Rambam's own formulation,
: rather than the simplistic and philosophically crude popularizations of
: Rambam's words. ...
: He shall not be a
: long time "and if he tarries, wait for him" (Hab. 2:3)....
: I think it is clear where Rambam stood on this issue and clearer still
: where we should stand.
I disagree. The Rambam's hashkafah is far from what we'd consider normative
today. OTOH, Ani Ma'amin and Yigdal do have the haskamah of the masses. It's
not clear that we, when we accepted the 12th ikar emunah, actually accepted
all the connotations of the original. I'd argue that the "popularizations"
are therefore more authoritative than the original.
IOW, the Rambam might have believed that moshiach won't be coming for a long
(from the time of the writing of peirush hamishnayos). That doesn't mean
that we today hold you ought to believe such things, any more than some of
the ideas in the Moreh I wouldn't repeat without having the citation on
hand. The concept of "lachakos", however, did certainly reach a level of
I guess, though, one could argue that the Rambam is defining "michakeh"
when saying "not for a long time", and therefore that's what the versions
we accepted mean as well.
Micha Berger (973) 916-0287 MMG"H for 16-May-99: Cohen,
firstname.lastname@example.org A"H O"Ch 319:6-12
http://www.aishdas.org Eruvin 81a
For a mitzvah is a lamp, and the Torah its light. Shmuel-II 24
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Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 07:16:06 EDT
Subject: Acharei HaPeulos Nimshachim Halevavos
RM Feldman (enjoy your posts !) wrote that the Chovos HaLevavos stated the
above principle. I don't really know that sefer well but the idea is more
famously attributed to the Sefer Hachinuch. See Mitzva #16-Not to break the
bone of the Pesach, also see # 40, 95, 99. He also says it in the following
fashion "Adam Nifal K'fi Peulosav"
Lewis S Wienerkur
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Date: Mon, 17 May 99 14:16:12 PDT
Subject: RE: Avodah V3 #53
To add to what HG already posted:
Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 22:49:49 +0300
From: Hershel Ginsburg <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Avodah V3 #51 - Evaluating the Shoah
>From: "Clark, Eli" <clarke@HUGHESHUBBARD.COM>
>Sefardic Jewry? The Sefardim were not threatened at all by the
>Holocaust. And I detect a strain of ethnocentrism among the Jews who
>feel the Holocaust is unique because of its scale.
Historical Correction - not only were Sephardim threatened by the Shoah,
many were its victims. To wit:....
=====================================end of quote
In Tunisia there were work camps where North African jews were being sent. My FIL was
saved from being sent from Lybia to such a camp when Rommel was defeated.
Also, in Lybia, for instance, jews were forced to leave their homes in the cities, and
escape to rural areas where they lived in horrible conditions. I'm not sure of the
timing of these events, but my MIL talks about this and from her descriptions it sounds
like it happened somewhere between the years 1938-42.
Name: Shoshana L. Boublil
Time: 02:16:12 PM , Israel
This message was sent by Chameleon
Torah U'Madah Ltd. is developing a DB on the topic:
"Environmental issues and the Halacha (Jewish Law)"
any and all related information would be welcome.
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Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 10:40:37 -0400
Subject: Chodosh Ossur min haTroah
>>For years I used to cringe whenever I heard that particular saying of our
master, the Light of all the Children of the Exile invoked as a normative
statement of halakha and hashkafah. As I got older and just a tiny bit wiser, I
realized that the motto was not necessarily meant to be taken literally, because
it is an ironic play on the mahloket Rishonim on whether, after the destruction
of the Temple, the prohibition of eating newly harvested grain before the second
day of Passover is Biblically or Rabbinically mandated. ... I can't believe
that he was not aware of the ambiguity in that formulation.
Footnote: I consider this another illustration of many followers
mis-understanding a Godol. IOW, the Chasam Sofer's dictum was stretched beyond
it's original intention.
I'll share a humorous dig by a rebbe of mine. A talmid once explained Tosfos in
shiur al pi the Meharsho.
The rebbe replied <sarcastically>:
"You don't understand the Meharsho; and the Meharsho did not understand Tosfos!"
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Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 11:03:58 -0400
Subject: Eiruv Tavshillin Survey
Informal Survey re: Eiruv Tavshillin:
Who does the Eiruv in your house, husband or wife?
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Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 11:19:08 -0400
Subject: Hespeidim on the Rav
R. Moshe Feldman:>>At the time of the Rav's petirah, I attended
every hesped I could. I found amazing how different each hesped was
from the other. <<
Indeed! I attended 2 hespeidm at the Homowack shortly after the Rav's Petiro.
1 from R. Hershel Schachter, 2 from R. Julius Berman. They were totally
diverse, virtually zero overlap.
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Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 10:45:08 -0400 (EDT)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Micha Berger)
Subject: Re: Chadash asur min HaTorah
When talking to Conservative Jews, I found that this quote plays an important
role in their polemics. According to what at least two people picked up at
JTS, it indicates Orthodoxy's break with pre-emancipation Judaism. According
to C throught, traditional Judaism was more fluid, and most closely resembled
their legal process. O, they believe, was a reaction to the Reform Movement,
and represents a hyper-rigidity that didn't exist before. This quote of the
Chazon Ish is claimed to have been an O rallying cry, and supposedly played
a major role in the birth of the O movement.
Micha Berger (973) 916-0287 MMG"H for 17-May-99: Levi,
email@example.com A"H O"Ch 319:13-19
http://www.aishdas.org Eruvin 81b
For a mitzvah is a lamp, and the Torah its light. Kuzari II 37-40
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Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 12:25:18 -0400
Subject: Shevuos Riddle
With permission from:
Since the Torah was given with Hebrew letters, here's a Shavuot riddle:
Dovid Solomon <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
I have a Yiddle Riddle to suggest: What three characteristics do the Hebrew
letters "mem" and "noon" have in common? One characteristic is shared by
three other Hebrew letters (easy), one is shared by one other Hebrew letter
(harder), and one is peculiar to these two (now that's hard!).
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Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 14:36:03 -0400
From: Sholem Berger <email@example.com>
Subject: Rambam's ikarim
[If there's a good source for this which everyone else knows about, please send the reference to me and save yourself the typing; I'd be most grateful.]
When did the thirteen ikarim become accepted as the litmus test for theological orthodoxy? What did Jews consider the core of their theology before the Rambam? If one isn't an Aristotelean (like most of us nowadays), are there other acceptable (=normative) options? For example, I probably believe something _on the order of_ "hu rishon vehu akharon", but not in the sense of "primum mobile," because I don't consider it necessary to classify God as a "mover," whether primary or otherwise.
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Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 15:07:35 -0400
From: "Frenkel, Garry J." <Garry.J.Frenkel@ssa.gov>
Subject: Lot's Daughters
My wife is studying sefer B'raishis, and is bothered by the lack of
M'forshim that seem to discuss the incident of Lot and his daughters in any
depth. Since it is almost Inyana D'yoma, I was wondering if anyone has come
across a good analysis/discussion of the topic.
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Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 12:22:52 -0700 (PDT)
From: Moshe Feldman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Shoah, Crusades, N'fash (vs. Nefesh) HaRav and Hashavat Avedah
I took the unusual step of rereading (twice!) the entire
correspondence on this issue. I believe that some have inadventently
attributed to me positions based on others' mischaracterizations of
my positions. I challenge those responding to me to do as I did and
read the entire series of avodah e-mails.
I. Rav Schachter:
First, because it bothers me so much, I would like to respond to
accusations that I have belittled R. Hershel Schachter by calling him
one of the more conservative of the major talmidim of the Rav. I
write as one who speaks to Rav Schachter (who, in many ways, is my
rebbe muvhak in Halacha) on a frequent basis (probably more than 98%
of the people on this list!), who has a personal relationship with
him which stems not only from the fact that (he told me that) he
considered me one of his better talmidim but from my relationship
with two of his sons-in-law (chavuta of one, roomate of another), and
who has shared some of my most personal she'elot with Rav Schachter.
Rav Schachter is a human being (remember, unlike others, I believe
that this is the case of ALL gedolim). Consequently, I believe that
he, as any other gadol, has certain proclivities. (E.g., if the next
great Satmar Rebbe were born today into the Satmar community, I have
no doubt that he would be anti-Zionist.) As Rav Soloveitchik had
many sides to him, it is natural that each of his major talmidim
would understand him somewhat differently. (Everyone, to some
extent, recreates his rebbe in his own image.) Chas v'shalom to
suggest that Rav Schachter distorts what the Rav said. Rather, my
view is that Rav Schachter, as demonstrated by his sefer "N'fash
HaRav," tends to emphasize the conservative side of the Rav more than
other talmidim have (e.g., Julius Berman; also, see the various books
that have come out over the past few years). Consequently, while I
have no doubt that Rav Schachter, in his sefer, will accurately cite
incidents which demonstrates the Rav's conservatism, there are other
incidents cited by others which indicate other sides to the Rav. No
talmid can by himself encapsulate all that the Rav stood for. This
does not insult any talmid of the Rav, much less Rav Schachter, whom
I would never intentionally insult. (This applies to Rav Moshe
Meiselman as well, from whom I have never had the zechut to hear
shiurim.) Moreover, I do not wish to pidgeonhole Rav Schachter; he
is an independent talmid chacham whom I choose to go to for psak
precisely because I know that he is not a knee-jerk machmir (BTW, I
do keep some of his chumrot in addition to his kulot). Nevertheless,
I do believe that some measure of generalization (e.g. Rav Schachter
tends to be more right-wing than Rav Lichtenstein) does help us
organize our thoughts.
II. Yom HaShoah and alternative commemorations of the Holocaust:
Some seem to believe that I support the commemoration of Yom HaShoah.
This is not the case. I have used the existence of Yom HaShoah to
counter Eli Clark's suggestion that the masses do not wish to
commemorate the Holocaust (and to counter a specific point of Zvi
Weiss, which I will not mention here).
I prefer that the Shoah be remembered through age-old halachic
methods. Possibilities include acts of mourning (cf. increased
avelut during Sefirah to commemorate the Crusades) and a fast day
(cf. the 20th of Sivan, which M.B. 580:16 states was accepted as a
fast day in Poland to commemorate the Chmielnitzky massacre; see also
Igerot Moshe, quoted below).
III. Comparing the Holocaust with the Crusades:
Zvi Weiss, on more than one occasion, has called me "arrogant" for
suggesting that the Holocaust was more traumatic than the Crusades
(he derived his contrary position from the fact that the gedolim were
not metakain anything for the Holocaust but were metakein increased
mourning for the Crusades). Since Mr. Weiss has used similarly
strong language in replying to my posts (interestingly, I have not
reciprocated and I wonder how the use of such language on a
continuous basis serves the purpose of the Avodah list of having
frank and open discussions), I began to doubt myself. I called two
individuals who have profoundly impacted my thinking: my father, Dr.
Louis H. Feldman (one of the outstanding authorities on ancient
Jewish history), and Rav Sholom Kamenetsky, Rosh Kollel in
Philadelphia, son of the Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshiva of Philadelphia and
considered the "heir apparent" to become the Rosh Yeshivah, and of
course, grandson of Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky (he is also a rebbe of mine
and a personal friend). (For those who are interested, Rav Sholom is
considered mainstream "Lakewood".) Rav Sholom told me that it is
quite clear that the Holocaust was more traumatic. He pointed to the
fact that subsequent to the Crusades, Jewish life continued in Europe
while the Holocaust completely wiped out the Jewish communites of
Eastern Europe. Rav Sholom also suggested that while it may have
been appropriate for the gedolim to institute something to
commemorate the Holocaust, only those great rabbanim (Rav Elchanan
Wasserman comes to *my* mind) who perished could have been metakein
an appropriate method of commemoration.
My father suggested (but cautioned that as this is not his field,
this is just a guess of his; I should point out that those familiar
with his seminal work "Josephus and Modern Scholarship, 1937-1980"
will appreciate the fact that my father is reluctant to take a
scholarly stance until he has read ALL relevant material; if you are
unfamiliar with my father, I suggest you go to www.barnesandnoble.com
or to www.amazon.com and do a search for the books my father has
authored; BTW, barnesandnoble.com has my father's "Jew and Gentile in
the Ancient World" (Princeton Univ. Press, 1997) for just $19.96!)
the following "off the cuff" guess: In the case of the Crusades,
each community was semi-autonomous. The Rav of the community
generally enacted takanot for the community without having to receive
the consent of other communities. Hence, the Rav of each community
affected by the Crusades was able to enact takanot as he saw fit (I
might add to my father's words that in fact there were, in general,
many more takanot enacted during the period of the Crusades than
during the modern day). Contrast this with the difficulty of the
Mahari beRav to cobble together the gedolim of Eretz Yisrael to
reestablish the Sanhedrin (based on the Rambam). In contrast to the
Crusades, it was difficult already in the time of the Chmielnitzky
massacre to get the Va'ad Arba Aratzot to agree on some commemoration
of the the massacre (they didn't; the 20th of Sivan fast day started
with the Shach, who had been personally affected by the massacre and
who gave a tzava'ah to his descendants to keep the 20th; this
eventually spread to [most] of Poland). Similarly, one may postulate
that gedolim found it difficult to come up with a single method of
commemorating the Holocaust, which affected so many Jewish
communities (especially since, in the modern day of instant
communication, no gadol can act without others almost immediately
knowing of his action).
As to the trauma of the Holocaust vs. Crusades: my father pointed out
that although 25% of 20,000 Ashkenazic Jews were killed during the
Crusades, this was merely 0.5% of the total Jewish population of the
time (estimated by Salo Baron at 1,000,000). In contrast, 80% of
European Jewry and 33% of world Jewry was decimated during the
IV. Rav Moshe Feinstein's position:
I did a search on Bar Ilan She'elot U'tshuvot and found that Igerot
Moshe Y.D. 4:57 (par. 11) states as follows (loose translation):
"[With regard to the questioner's contention that] it would have been
fitting to establish some day for fasting and prayer [to commemorate
the Holocaust] . . .: Behold, in the Kinot that all Israel says on
Tisha B'Av, it states that they did not establish a special day for
fasting and crying in [commemoration] of the gezeirot of the
[Crusaders], which were in all European countries, where the majority
of the Jews lived, and a number of cities and villages were destroyed
.. . ., because one should not establish another day for fasting and
crying, and therefore one should mention them during the Kinot said
during Tisha B'Av for the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash. For the
same reason one should not establish a special day for the gezeirot
which occurred in our lifetime, [since] they are part of all the
gezeirot which were during the entire long period of this galut.
This [case of the Holocaust] is not similar to the gezeirot of Tach
V'Tat made by Chmeilnitzky head of the Kossaks, where [Jews] were
killed in Ukraine and in part of Poland, where they established there
a day of fasting and saying of selichot because [the latter] was not
a gezeirah on the entire [nation of Israel], unlike the gezeirah of
galut and the churban, but were in just one country [and was thus] a
gezeirah additional to the [gezeirah of galut] affecting those
places. Also, the [Chmeilnitzky massacre] was not decreed by the
malchut but by those who rebelled against it and therefore it was not
an extension of the galut and the churban; since the non-Jewish
kingdom defended the Jews as much as they could. The only connection
[of the Massacre] to the galut is only in that it derived from the
same sins which caused us the galut. Therefore, it was possible to
enact a fast day and the saying of selichot, but for those places [in
the Ukraine and Poland] alone. But the gezeirot of Hitler applied to
all of klal Yisrael, since he intended to capture the entire world
.. . . ."
V. Gedolim and katonti
Some have taken exception to my suggestion that the gedolim of our
generation felt too "small" to be proactive. They view this as
disrespectful. First, I clearly stated that this is not my view of
the Rav. Second, I did not make the statement to imply that the
gedolim are "at fault" in this regard; I believe that this is a
natural consequence of the need to combat Reform and Conservative
Jewry; this is why the rallying cry of some has been "chadash assur
min haTorah." I am making a historical suggestion and do not
consider any gadol at fault; I am merely suggesting that perhaps, in
the wane of the 20th century (when Reform & Conservative no longer
pose a threat to Orthodoxy), we might wish to rethink this issue (and
I am far from the first person to suggest this general approach).
Some may consider this "churlish" (for those who did not get as high
a score on the SAT as a certain esteemed listmember, this means "of
or resembling, or characteristic of a rude ill-bred person."). I do
not. I also will not reciprocate the insult.
VI. N'fash HaRav:
Someone asked me about the difference between N'fash HaRav and Nefesh
HaRav. In the first sentence of his hakdamah, Rav Schachter quotes
the famous statement in the Yerushalmi: "Ein osin n'fashot
l'tzaddikim"--we do not make monuments to honor deceased tzaddikim;
rather their [words] are their monuments. Rav Schachter did not
intend to write about the "soul" of the Rav; he wished to be make a
monument for the Rav out of his words.
I discussed this with Rav Elazar Meir Teitz (of Elizabeth): actually,
the word "n'fash" is merely the Aramaic form of the word "nefesh."
Both can mean either "soul" or (as an extension) "monument." I did
not ask why Rav Schachter why he chose the Aramaic form over the the
Hebrew; perhaps he wished to ensure that people thought a minute
before jumping to the conclusion that the book is about the Rav's
VII. Hashavat Avedah:
Eli Clark has issued a challenge. He suggests that "one of us (or
both) has a faulty memory"; also, he states "I do not now nor can I
recall ever having dedicated myself to speculation about how the Rav
or any other departed gadol would have changed his public views on a
matter had he been born in some other historical period" and "if you
can think of an example in which I did engage in such theorizing, I
would be very grateful if you would remind me of it."
Eli is a gifted writer who majored in English. He was a contributor
to the Purim Hamevaser for years. His sharp tongue is well-known.
I, on the other hand, majored in Computer Science. My sharpest
observations during college were written in 1's and 0's. I cannot
compete with his acerbity.
Nevertheless, I do wish to set the record straight. I did not mean
to imply that Eli specifically made comments about the gedolim, Rav,
or anything else we have discussed during this exchange. Eli
personally wrote me: "As I recall, we spent much of our hevruta time
in Cambridge arguing. (Do you remember us thinking alike?) And many
of our phone conversations too." Eli is correct. In our hundreds
(thousands?) of hours of conversation, we often disagreed. However,
it was almost universally the case that Eli was to the left of me (he
was Gush, I was Sha'alvim). Whenever I look a "liberal" position, it
was rare to find Eli taking a more right-wing position. I therefore
generally assume that whenever I take a liberal position, Eli will
almost definitely agree.
With respect to Rav Moshe Meiselman: Eli admits to having SPOKEN
(BTW, here's one piece of hashavat avedah: the conversation we had
was in person, at the JEC, not on the phone; another topic we
discussed--in the Bet Midrash--was the issue of sheitels) the comment
to me (not written it) (obviously believing it) but in retrospect
regrets it, calling it a "rumor" and "lashon hara." As one who has
just given two shiurim on lashon hara and who will I"YH give a shiur
on Shavuot on the issue, I am loath to believe that I knowingly was
mekabel lashon hara from Eli. I did not take the information as an
insult to Rav Meiselman-- everyone would rather believe that he was
one of the closest to the Rav; to dispute that is not lashon hara.
One other piece of hashavat aveidah. You privately apologized to me
yet publicly--the same day--made fun of me. I hope to be able to
grant you a true mechilah in time for Yom Kippur.
Kol tuv (and back to an "avodah" which pays the bills!),
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