Volume 10 Number 71
                       Produced: Sun Dec 19 23:52:56 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Comments on Rabbi Yitzach Hirshfeild's letter about the Rav
         [David Green]
Letter re: the Rav
         [Anthony Fiorino]
Rabbi Soloveitchik ZT'L and Jewish Observer (2)
         [Frank Silbermann, Larry Weisberg]
Rav Soloveitchik..response to S. Karlinsky
         [Mechy Frankel]


From: David Green <dagreen@...>
Date: Wed, 15 Dec 93 09:28:28 -0500
Subject: Comments on Rabbi Yitzach Hirshfeild's letter about the Rav

	I just read Rabbi Yitzach Hirshfeild's letter about the
controversy after the Rav's passing last year.  The Dichotomy of veiw's
that he posed, with all due respect, struck me as very much false.  I
learned at Brovender's in Efrat when he died last Year.  For those of
you who are not familiar with the instution, all of the Rebaium save two
(One who learned under Rav Lichtenstien, at Gush) were talmudum of the

	When the Rav died we were privileged to hear what many of his
prominent "Left Wing"talmudum had to say about him.  The IKIAR of their
understanding was not some choice between, "the terrible rebel of the
Orthodox world in whose name all sorts of travesties may be sanctioned,
or is he the gentle marbitz Torah who related to his secular knoliage
ke'tubachut ve'rakachut (as professional skills)?"  There is no doubt
but that the Rav encouraged secular learning for other reasons than
simple professional skills.  A plumber or electrician will make more
than most PHD's.  Nonetheless to paraphrase Rabbi Shrader (One of the
Rabaium at Brovenders) "I never once heard him discourage someone from
getting his PHD. This belief in secular knowledge is very much evident
throughout his own writings, and is impossible to pass off.  The Rav was
a gentle marbitz of torah, who believed in secular knowledge outside of
making a living.

	If any dealings with secular learning, outside of the context of
making a living turns a Godol into "the terrible rebel of the Orthodox
world in those name all sorts of travesties may be sanctioned"; then the
"right wing" has to give up the legacy of Rav Salivachic. That is about
all there is to it.

			Respectfully Yours
				David Green


From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Thu, 16 Dec 93 01:06:08 -0500
Subject: Letter re: the Rav

Regarding the letter to the _Observer_ about Rav Soloveitchik:

I think it is far too simplistic to divide up the Rav's talmidim into
the "good guys" and the "bad guys" (referred to in the letter as the
right wing and left wing, respectively) and then claim that the "good
guys" are the only people who "really" understood the Rav.  In fact, it
is more than simplistic -- I think it is grossly inaccurate.  It is no
contradiction to state that the Rav was both an innovator *and* fiercely
loyal to the masorah of Rav Chaim and Brisk.  There is no need to
apologize to the _Observer_ or anyone else for the Rav's positions, and
no need to claim that any differences between the Rav and the _Observer_
world are only due to misrepresentation of the Rav by the "bad guys."
The fact is that the Rav held differently than many other American
rashei yeshiva on several key issues, and he paid for this with a
certain amount of isolation.  This has nothing to do with his talmidim,
be they left or right.  I think it is a disservice to the Rav's memory
to attempt to whitewash his positions so that now, after his patira, the
_Observer_ and their readership might find him palatable.  And I find
the attempt to blame the Rav's talmidim for the disrespect shown by the
_Observer_ distasteful, to say the least.

Finally, I think it was quite unfortunate that the letter-writer chose
to specify by name those rabbaim who, it was decided by the
letter-writter, did not understand the Rav and are not loyal to his
masorah.  This seems to me to be an outright slander and a failure to
show kavod harav, the inappropriateness of which is underscored by the
very issue at hand, the lack of kavod shown by the _Observer_ towards
the Rav.

Eitan Fiorino


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Wed, 15 Dec 93 17:29:55 -0500
Subject: Rabbi Soloveitchik ZT'L and Jewish Observer

In Vol.10 #63 Shaya Karlinsky comments on the emotional controversy
precipitated by the "Hesped" published in the Jewish Observer
after the death of Reb Yosef Dov Solovetchick, zt'l:

> How is it that the JO readership is incapable of extending proper
> respect for a gadol, with whose opinions they disagree?
> Why cannot we rise beyond our disagreements, and take proper recognition
> of someone who was not only a giant in Torah, but also an exemplary
> baal midos, who, by all accounts, burned with the fire of Sinai,
> and who dedicated his life to the transmission of our holy masorah?

He quotes an essay written by Rabbi Yitzchak Hirshfeld:

> I think that there is an answer to this question, which resides
> in a not altogether unjustified guilt by association.  It is clear
> that RYB had two sets of talmidim, both claiming him as their mentor
> par excellence, their rebbe muvhak.  For every Rabbi Tendler and Rabbi
> Genack, there is a Rabbi Lamm and a Rabbi Rackman.
                    ^^^^^^^^^^       ^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> Is he RYB the rosh yeshiva, or RYB the professor of Talmud and philosophy?
> Is he RYB the terrible rebel of the Orthodox world in whose name
> all sorts of travesties may be sanctioned, or is he the gentle
> marbitz Torah who related to his secular knowledge ke'tabachut
> ve'rakachut (as professional skills)?

It appears that a Catch-22 has been imposed on us.

Rabbis Lamm and Rackman are told that, due to daas Torah, the derech
they seek is invalid without the approval of a gadol b'Torah.

On the other hand, we are told that the Rav may be viewed as a gadol
b'Torah only if it can be assumed that he disapproved of the derech of
Rabbis Lamm and Rackman.

This presupposes that the approach of Rabbis Lamm and Rackman is indeed
a travesty, and thus begs the question.

Let me suggest another view:
   A) the Rav was both gadol b'Torah AND a professor of Talmud & philosophy
   B) the approach of Rabbis Lamm and Rackman was acceptable to him
   C) their approach is not a travesty

and finally:
   D) those who fail to show respect to the Rav (e.g. as a tactic
	to surpress the centrist approach), demonstrate themselves
	to be unworthy of respect.

Frank Silbermann	<fs@...>
Tulane University	New Orleans, Louisiana  USA

From: Larry Weisberg <WEISBERG@...>
Date: Wed, 15 Dec 93 13:36:10 IDT
Subject: Rabbi Soloveitchik ZT'L and Jewish Observer

  Who made Rabbi Hirshfeld a bigger expert on what the Rav thought than
Rabbi Lamn, e.g.?  By his own admission (or Shaya's), he never learned
from the Rav.  Just because he learned with Rav Aharon, doesn't mean he
is an expert on the Rav.  Maybe (at best!) he is an expert on what Rav
Aharon thought about the Rav.  But, as many of us have heard, there are
those (me among them) who have a hard time accepting Rav Aharon's views
of his brother.
  To many of us it is clear from the Rav's writings and lectures that he
valued secular knowledge as more than just a way to earn a living.  One
measure of the Rav's greatness, if you will, is the fact that everyone
tries (and, to some extent, succeeds) to show that the Rav held X or Y.
The Rav was multi-faceted.  The fact that he was a "gentle marbitz
Torah" does not mean that he didn't respect the inherent value of
secular knowledge.
  I certainly hope that the Jewish Observer has the good sense NOT to
print Rabbi Hirshfeld's letter.  I think it would be an insult to the
Rav's students for the JO to portray an outsider as understanding the
Rav better than his own students.  His students understood the Rav
better than others, quite possibly better than his own brother.  This is
not to say that Rav Aharon is any less intelligent than the Rav's
students, but merely aknowledgement of the fact that the Rav and Rav
Aharon had less contact than the Rav and his students.

Larry Weisberg <weisberg@...>


From: "/R=HQDNA/R=DNAHQ5/R=AM/U=Frankel/L=DNA HQ, ROOM 227/TN=5-1277/FFN=FRANKELMichael/"@mr.dna.mil (Mechy Frankel)
Date: Wed, 15 Dec 1993 17:01:17 EST
Subject: Rav Soloveitchik..response to S. Karlinsky

As one of the more obscure and least notable talmidim of the Rav zt"l,
and who, moreover, has spun off in quite different directions since I
left yeshiva, I had no intention of entering into any of the episodic
outbreaks of discussion on this subject, but I was so flabbergasted by
Shaya Karlinky's recent submission (Vol. 10 #63) of his colleague's
letter that I feel compelled to offer this response.

1) I first need to mention that I have little doubt that Shaya is acting
Leshem Shamayim, with the best of intentions and purest of motives, to
melamaid zechus on the partcipants in the recent controversies - with an
unfortunate and notable exception which I shall return to.

2) Having said this, I must say that the brief characterizations of the
Rav painted in R. Hirshfeld's missive appears to me to be a highly
fanciful creation reflecting the person they would have preferred him to
be. The person descibed in the letter bears little resemblance to the
Rav I remember from my yeshiva days. Far from capturing "the essence of
the sugya", it is an attempt to metashtaish the inyan by a (doubtless
well meaning) person who, self-admittedly, had no personal knowledge ("I
did not know RYB..."). A few highly objectionable specifics follow:

a) "Is he the RYB the terrible rebel of the Orthodox world in whose name
all sorts of travesties may be sanctioned, or the gentle marbitz Torah
who related to his secular knowledge..as professional skills?" . First a
minor point. When the Rav was marbitz Torah in shiur there was nothing
very gentle about it.  Indeed the mean emotion of most of the talmidim
on any given day was simple fear - with a healthy component of the
talmid population subject to what can only be described as abject
terror. Terror that the Rav would call on them and they would not be
sufficiently prepared (no matter how much they prepared before hand).
Thus many of the talmidim became quite adept at the assiduous avoidance
of eye contact during shiur time. He was an enormously effective
pedagogue but he had his own style which no one on the receiving end of
such "harbotzah" would have thought "gentle"(even today the mere thought
of such a characterization would probably evoke a nervous giggle in many
former talmidim). As to the "terrible rebel" and "travesties" part you
need to be more specific. The Rav had well known hashkafic and halachic
differences with many other gedolim - so what? Tana hu upaleg.  this is
a fact but the "terrible" part is not self-evident. As to "travesties"
what are you talking about? This is a broad brush accusation
indiscriminately levied on those R. Hirschfield characterizes as YU LW
(left wing) followers who "are in admitted departure" from mainsteam
masorah (by the way, who admitted this?) As to whether the Rav related
to his secular knowledge as a professional skill or as a positive
element of an integrated religious personality, much ink has already
been spilled on this subject by people far more familiar with the real
Rav than the letter writer. Many of those will attest that the
self-evident PC answer assumed by the letter writer is wrong (with
possible exceptions, I recall some exegesis of Rav Aharon's remarks
following the Rav's petirah.).

c) "It also used the convenient structure of picturing RYB as himself
being the lonely one, torn between Brisk...Convenient because it
reflected the reality of the machlokes between his disciples, not
necessarily the reality of the man".  C'mon, has the letter writer ever
actually READ anything the Rav wrote, a lot of which simply drips
existential angst and loneliness (Ish Hahalcha and The Lonely Man of
Faith are good places to start). To suggest that somehow this was
conjured up as a false portrayal of the Rav in order to what? justify
some alien perspectives of his straying and feuding talmidim? Get real,
or at least get to a library.

3) Also bizaare (and unsuccessful) is R. Hirshfeld's attempts to portray
the Jewish Observer (JO) "treatment" of the Rav's petirah as motivated
by a desire to "remain neutral" and above the battle in some newly
identified RW-LW machlokes apparently raging without quarter for the
soul of YU and the "right to define the Rav's legacy". According to this
construction the good guys at YU (the R. Tendler and R. Genack faction)
are really much closer to the Agudaists than their own colleagues (the
bad guys - R. Lamm, R. Rackman and their ilk) and were (secretly?)
yearning from support from the Agudaists at this critical juncture but
the JO refused to get involved in this internecine affair, perhaps out
of fear that legitimizing the R. Tendlers would also break down the wall
"our Roshei Yeshiva" (who is the "our" in that quote) have erected
against the YU disease. How anyone who has read R. Tendler's open letter
to the JO would arrive at such an inventive construction is amazing, and
how the JO's motives in engaging in such petty acts of pchisas kavod as
omitting the normal honorifics when referring to the Rav could be
interpreted as a desire to be "even handed" seems like wonderful pilpul,
but of the discredited variety.

4) Much more objectionable than attempting to rescue the JOs motives is
the outright slanderous refrences to R. Lamm (and by implication,
others) , the invitation to make negative contrasts (for every R.
Tendler (think - good) there is a R. Lamm (think - bad)) and the
suggestion that these bad guys are "in admitted departure" from masorah
who would seek to highlight the Rav as a professor rather than a Rosh
Yeshiva, etc. This is an outrageous distortion of reality, and a totally
unwarrented and ill conceived know-nothing attack on a man, who, after
all, has dedicated his life to harbotzas Torah.

5) That the Rav held haskafos at variance with many of the Roshei
Yeshiva is not a contrivance of some feuding "talmidim in hashkafa" (by
the way, where did that negative articulation (as the writer clearly
considers it) originate?)  as R. Hirschfeld would like to have it, it is
an overwhelmingly documented fact.  R. Hirshfeld's strained attempts to
separate the Rav from his followers, even his gentle chastisement that
the Rav did not do enough to "clarify his dissociation fron their
centrist doctrine" ring false. I am constantly amazed that people who
properly credit gedolim with acuteness of observation and grasp of
contemporary events (beyond their ability to clair an Abaye and Rava)
assume that such men can be easily manipulated by maneuvering groups of
followers, each seeking to provide the official interpretation of the
gadol. Whatever the Rav was, he was not some naif, he could have voted
with his feet any time in the more than fourty years he was associated
with YU. (Indeed R. Tendler, Y"L, still can). Surely even R. Hirschfield
doesn't believe that he joined the Mizrachi, support advanced Torah
education for women, and spent the great part of his adult life teaching
at YU because he was at significant variance with "centrist doctrine".
Revisionism which doesn't even attempt to base itself on some schlolarly
(dare I use that word) reinterpretation of facts is revisionism of the
rawest and wrongest variety.

Mechy Frankel                                W: (703) 325-1277
<frankel@...>                          H:(301) 593-3949


End of Volume 10 Issue 71