Volume 11 Number 7
                       Produced: Wed Jan  5 19:34:16 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Chassidus owes it's survival to...
         [Yechezkal-Shimon Gutfreund]
Determining Gadlus
         [Micheal Kramer]
Kavod and Mail-Jewish
         [Robert A. Book]
Rav Shach
         [Bruce Krulwich]


From: sg04%<kesser@...> (Yechezkal-Shimon Gutfreund)
Date: Wed, 29 Dec 93 10:50:22 EST
Subject: Chassidus owes it's survival to...

] The fact is, that it is only their vigilante approach that has
] preserved Kllal Yisroel throughout the long Golus. As I once heard,
] Chasidism owes its survival to the vicious attacks leveled against
] it in its early days by the Misnagdim. For these attacks and
] accusations are what kept the movement in check, at the time, and
] prevented it from degenerating into what the Critics had feared. And the
] fact is, no history of Golus can overlook the positive influence
] Chassidism had on our survival.

Chassidus does not owe its survival to vicious attacks.

Terrible things were done. Great Rabbis were slandered to the Czarist
government. Insinuations were made about aiding enemy governments (Turkey).
When in fact it was tzedakah being sent to Eretz yisroel. In Czarist
Russia aiding the enemy was high treason and punishible by death. Halachacly,
this is referred to being a mossair. It was a disgraceful awful thing
that was done, and yet hallel was said in Vitebsk, Shlutzk, and Vilna.
Those who were slandered were righteous holy men, among the great scholars
of their time. And those who slandered them were tradgically mistaken
and later retracted their opposition.

It was a terrible, foolish thing and a disgrace to those involved. But the
mistake has been admitted, and the issue is over. Let's leave these
things in the past. Let's work towards the positive.

Yechezkal-Shimon Gutfreund		 	   <sgutfreund@...> [MIME]
GTE Laboratories, Waltham MA        http://www.gte.com/circus/home/home.html


From: <mpkramer@...> (Micheal Kramer)
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 1993 16:20:44 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Determining Gadlus

A while ago, in an effort to clarify the ongoing debate about gedolim, I
posed two questions to the list: 1) Who is a gadol?  2) What is a gadol?
Only a few readers responded directly to the question, although many
responded indirectly (and, perhaps, unintentionally).  I am sorry to say
that, despite all the erudition and invective that has characterized our
discussion, I remain unenlightened.

Perhaps (and I must admit that I suspected this would be the case) there
are no clear, undisputed answers.  Even if we all accept certain
criteria as the sine qua non of gadlus (e.g., as my friend Harry Weiss
suggests, extraordinary halakhic expertise and unimpeachable character),
still we do not agree as to whom these criteria apply nor, more
importantly (I think), do we understand how the criteria are applied.
In other words, even if we all had a very clear idea as to what a gadol
is (and I don't think we do), we do not have a very clear notion of the
mechanism through which someone is accorded that status.

Consider, for example, the following passages from Hayim Hendeles'
response to Harry's posting:

  Whether *you* or *I* choose to recognize a Gadol, does not affect his 
  stature in the least. After all is said and done, the Gadol is 
  recognized by Klal Yisroel as a Gadol, and you and I are not. And 
  therefore, I submit to this audience, that none of us are qualified to 
  judge a Gadol. 

  Rabbi Shach shlit"a is an undisputed Gadol in Klal Yisroel, as is 
  the Lubavitcher Rebbe shlit"a (may Hashem grant him a Refuah Shlema). 
  While there are undoubtedly differences in their avenues of Avodas Hashem, 
  they both live their entire lives 100% L'shem Shamayim. 

Note the ambiguity in the term "Klal Yisroel."  To whom does the term
refer?  Is "Klal Yisroel" something separate from "you" and "I"?  Isn't
"Klal Yisroel," rather, the aggregate of "you"s and "I"s out there?
And, if so, and if "Klal Yisroel" is that body which recognizes and
determines (by vote, consensus, magic?) gadlus, then, contra Hayim, we
are *all* qualified to judge a gadol--indeed, we *must* all judge a
gadol if he is ever to become, by definition, "an undisputed Gadol in
Klal Yisroel."

Of course, Klal Yisroel in the aggregate does not confer
gadlus--certainly not if we consider that the majority of Klal Yisroel
is non-observant and even if we limit "Klal Yisroel" to the aggregate of
observant Jews.  And I imagine that (considering what I've been reading
on the list) that however we narrow down the meaning of "Klal Yisroel,"
the statements "recognized by Klal Yisroel as a Gadol" and "undisputed
Gadol in Klal Yisroel" would never be indisputably true--not in today's
world, at least.

IMHO, the ambiguities I've noted in Hayim's passages have been operative
throughout our discussion.  They reflect, I think, the divisions and
confusions that now, much to our collective misfortune, characterize
Klal Yisroel (in all senses).  The fact is that gadlus is determined and
conferred differently, and means different things, in different
communities--hasidish/ misnagdish, haredi/modern, etc.--and becomes
recognized outside those communities (as far as I can tell) only through
the good will of the outsiders.

Two closing suggestions: 1) instead of saying that "R. Ploni is (or is
not) a gadol," let's say "R. Ploni is recognized by __________ as a
gadol"; 2) to quote a true gadol :-), "eizehu mekhubad, hamekhabed et
habriot" [Who is the honored/respected one? He who honors/respects
others (lit. the creatures)].

Michael Kramer
UC Davis


From: <rbook@...> (Robert A. Book)
Date: Wed, 29 Dec 93 02:53:22 -0500
Subject: Kavod and Mail-Jewish

Arnold Lustiger, in MJ 10/89 wrote:
> >I want to ask public mehila (pardon) from R.
> >Karlinsky for an earlier post: Had I known he was a Rosh Yeshiva, I would
> >not have addressed him as "Shaya", and I would have worded my post
> >differently (it is most impertinent to sound authoritative when
> >disagreeing with a Rosh Yeshiva).

R. Shaya Karlinsky <HCUWK@...> responds (MJ 10:95):
>      It depends about what we are disagreeing! I suspect that there are
> areas where you _are_  more authoritative than me.  Actually, I guess I
> subconciously refrained from identifying my position, since I wanted my
> postings to stand (or fall!) on their merit, and not receive deference
> because of any administrative post I may hold.

Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...> also responds (MJ 10:95):
> Having gone through a similar experience arguing with soemone on this list
> a while back, I have thought quite a bit about this issue.  I too felt
> very badly about having argued publicly, in less than pleasant terms.  As
> time has passed, I have realized something very positive about the
> relative anonymity of mail-jewish.  I never would have engaged in the
> debate in which I engaged had I known beforehand with whom I was debating.
> And while I learned a lesson about arguing in a respectful manner, that
> was a lesson that should be applied to *all* mail-jewish arguments. 

I think I have a solution to this problem, which I think will be a lot
easier and more pleasant than descriptive signature lines,
biographical files on MJ readers, or anything else.  And that would
be, simply, to treat *EVERY* reader with a reasonable level of
respect, and to argue *ONLY* in pleasant terms.  The fact is, while a
Rosh Yeshiva may be more deserving of kavod (honor) than someone else,
every person is deserving of a reasonable level of respect, and no
one, no matter what their position (or lack thereof) deserves an
unpleasant response or disrespect based on any opinion they might have
expressed in a posting on this list.

Remember two things:  First, every person is created in the image of
G-d, and is thus deserving of respect on this basis alone.  Second,
arguing in unpleasant terms will rarely, if ever, convince someone
that you are right; whereas arguing in pleasant terms may succeed in
doing so.

Having said that, I would like to agree with and extend something else
Mr. Fiorino said:

> However, I feel that impolite debate is far preferable to polite
> non-debate, and if we start identifying ourselves as rashei yeshiva,
> rabbaim, or baal habatim, then I am afraid that the livelyness of the
> debate in this forum will be inhibited.

I would also like to point out that respectfully challenging an
assertion by even a Gadol Ha-Dor (Great rabbi of the generation) does
not necessarily demonstrate a lack of kavod.  On the contrary, it is
one of the best ways to learn.  Consider, for example, the response of
Rabbi Johanan to his student Rabbi Eliezer, when the latter
repeatedly agreed with his opinions:

	Saoid Rabbi Johanan, "You are not like the son of Lakish.
	Whenever I stated an opinion, the son of Lakish used to make
	twenty-four objections, to which I was compelled to give
	twenty-four answers; and so the understanding of the Law was
	broadened.  You, however, say, 'There is a Baraitha [external
	source --RAB] which supports you.'  Do I not know myself that
	my opinions are correct.?"

			       		Bava Metzia, 84a
					(Translation by Hyam Maccoby)

--Robert Book


From: Bruce Krulwich <krulwich@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 93 20:41:15 -0500
Subject: Rav Shach

I don't have the time to discuss Marc Shapiro's posting in detail, but I
think that it's important to make a few points.

Number one, alot of people would like the world to believe that other
gedolim are "real" gedolim, with respect from the masses as Talmidei
Chachamim and Yirei Shamayim, while R' Shach is merely a politician who
has not earned this type of respect from the frum world.  Nothing is
further from the truth.  Any discussion of R' Shach's gadlus must
include the fact that the vast majority of Rabbeim and Talmidim of the
traditional Litvish Yeshivos, including Ponovitch, Mir, Chayim Berlin,
Telz, Lakewood, Ner Yisroel, Philidelphia, Chofetz Chayim, etc, as well
as Chassidic groups such as Ger, look to R' Shach as a primary gadol
hador.  This is not all of Orthodoxy, but it is a very significant
portion, and this fact must be addressed in a discussion of his gadlus.

Number two, many people seem to believe that strong worded comments
inherently make R' Shach a negative or hateful person.  We can see that
this is false by looking in the Torah, where Hashem gave Pinchas "brisi
shel Shalom" [My covenant of peace] for killing Zimri and Kozbi.
Clearly there came a time where Pinchas had to act strongly for the sake
of peace, and Hashem rewarded him with a covenant of peace, including
him in the children of Aharon, about whom it's said "ohev Shalom v'rodef
Shalom" [he loved and chased after peace].  R' Shach seems to see the
current situation with Lubovitch, for instance, as a serious threat,
perhaps like Shabsai Tzvi, and he is doing everything he can to keep the
situation from getting worse.  Maybe you disagree, only time will tell.
Given that R' Shach believes that it is this serious (and many Roshei
Yeshiva seem to agree), his actions can certainly be seen as Rodef

Third, someone has said that a Rav's being involved in strong Machlokes
removes him from the category of a Gadol.  I would just like to point
out that noone I know would question the gadlus of both the Vilna Gaon
and the Baal HaTanya (aka the Alter Rebbe of Lubovitch).

Fourth, I have never heard a comment reliably attributed to R' Shach
that insults the personal integrity of the Lubovitcher Rebbe.  I have
heard R' Shach refer to those who believe the Rebbe to be Moshiach as
kofrim [heretics], which I agree is very strong, but it is not an attack
on the Rebbe himself.  He didn't put the Rebbe in Cherem, or call him a
kofer, or anything else like that.  If anyone has attributed quotes, I'm
sure they'll post them.

Lastly, regarding the State of Israel, R' Shach is one of many Rabbaim
who are against adding the new prayer for the State.  He has, however,
instituted the saying of additional Tehilim in prayer for various
situations, such as the Iraq war and the recent land withdrawal.

This has already taken too much time, but I feel that it had to be said.
IY'H we can get beyond fighting, as ALL of our gedolim would like, and
be zoche to biyas goel emes (bb'A).


Dov (Bruce) Krulwich


End of Volume 11 Issue 7