Volume 11 Number 10
                       Produced: Thu Jan  6  8:33:05 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Censorship, the Rav and Tel-Aviv
         [Shlomo H. Pick]
Future of Mail-Jewish
         [Shaul Wallach]
Gadol Test
         [Yosef Bechhofer]


From: Shlomo H. Pick <F12013@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Jan 94 06:52:50 -0500
Subject: Censorship, the Rav and Tel-Aviv

In reference to Jonathan Baker's not of friday, 10 Dec.
> On the topic of censorship, here is an excerpt from my notes on Rabbi
> Rakeffet's lectures on the Rav:
> In 1935, the Rav applied for the Chief Rabbinate of Tel Aviv.  He didn't
> get the job, mostly because he was viewed as too young...  He was
> supported by Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski, the last great Rav in Vilna.
> Reb Chaim Ozer sent a letter to the Chazon Ish, who was living in Bnei
> Brak at that time, urging him to support "the great, learned,
> Heaven-fearing teacher, the young Rav Joseph Dov Soloveitchik."  When
> the works of the Chazon Ish were published, the editors were so
> embarassed by this letter supporting the Rav, (who had become a
> supporter of the State of Israel) that the version of the letter in that
> book replaces the name "Joseph Dov Soloveitchik" with an ellipsis.  This
> is an example of the revisionism of the Right, that we have to watch out
> for.

I would like to address a number of points in this letter.  The first
concerns the phenomenon known as Chreidi censorship or right-wing
revisionism.  This is a problem in many, if not all circles.  Two
examples that are not right wing chareidi (or normative Chareidi).
1.  If one were to compare the first printing of the three volumes of
Iggerot HaRoeh (Rav Kook zt"l) to the one being sold today, one will
notice changes in letters.  The publishers today admit that some letters
were changed because of political reasons or what is known as kevod
habriot.  The present day publishers are assuming that they are doing
Rav Kook a big favor.
2.  Many of chabad publications suffer this very same problem and
events that do not fit into their scheme of things are just erased.  See
the reviews by Prof. Shlomo Zalman Havlin in Alei Sefer, V, 1988-89,
p. 149-150; VI, 1989 - 1990, p. 185 (both in Hebrew) for good exampls.
3.  Referring to the Kovetz Iggerot of the Chazon Ish.  Here is an
example on NON CENSORSHIP but one of publication policy applied to
everyone mentioned in the letters (except in a few rare circumstances
usually self-understood).  This policy is outlined in the introductions
to the the various volumes and explicitly stated in the intro. to vol
III.  Ellipses are not used but blank lines e.g. - - .  If an ellipses
is used it is because it is so in the original letter.  Hence in the
letter alleged to have referred to the Rav zt"l, no slight would have
been meant, as in the vast majority of all other letters, the names
were so omitted.
4.  The letter that Dr. Rakeffet was referring to in at the end of vol
II, no. 8 (p. 176).   In that letter, there is no such statement  "the
great, learned, heaven-fearing teacher - -"!  These words do not appear
at all and Mr. Baker is apparently mistaken in the quote.
5.  Before Dr. Rakeffet made his present trip to the states, i had
called him to discuss points 3 and 4 above.  There was immediate
agreement to point 4 that this is the letter in question (and hence
misquoted in the above message by Mr. Baker).  After demonstrating the
above-mentioned policy by the publishers, Dr. Rakkefet also agreed that
the iggerot were not suffering from censorship but it was a general
policy and I do really hope that in his forthcoming lectures, bis 120,
he will make that point, or at least not state that the iggerot were or
had been censored.
6.  Because i am very friendly with the publishers of the iggerot, and
i had heard already thru this list at least twice the story of the
letter by Rav Chayim Ozer and its recommendation of the Rav zt'l, I
went to the publishers (family of the Chazon Ish) and asked if the
letter really referred to the Rav zt"l.  I was told that it did not!
Upon the last posting by Mr. Baker, i asked if i could see the original
letter, and last Friday afternoon after mincha gedola I was shown the
original letter by Rav Chayim Ozer to the Chazon Ish.  The city in
question was Tel-Aviv (of 1935), the candidate was NOT the Rav zt"l!
In the above-mentioned phone call to Dr. Rakeffet, i recounted this
experience and told him whom Reb Chayim Ozer's candidate really was.
Needless to say, Dr. Rakkefet was very surprised as indeed I was when
he told me his source.  At this point, I leave it to Mail-Jewish
readers and/or the moderator to approach Dr. Rakkefet if he is
willing to reveal his source at this point.  At any rate, i hope this
recount will rewrite the true history for at least mail jewish readers.
7.  In the biographical issues in the index there is another example
of a mistake.  Dr. Rakkeffet is quoted as saying that the Rav zt"l was
maspid (eulogized) his uncle in 1964 or 1965.  This can't be, as the
Hesped was first published in hadoar, 9 tishrei 5724 = 1963!  and the
Rav zt'l would first speak and then publish.  At any rate, i mentioned
this to Dr. Rakkeffet and he stated that the note taker was of course
mistaken, and then said that the hesped was given in '61 and then he
corrected himself to '60 and so it is not clear if the Rav said the
Hesped in the fall of 1960, probably (not fact yet!) after
the sheloshim which was on the 10th of cheshvan, 5761 = 1960.
At any rate, the mussar haskel from all this, is that much that has
been written concerning the Rav's biography requires a lot of
double checking before being accepted as historical fact.
shabbat shalom


From: Shaul Wallach <f66204@...>
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 93 16:32:07 -0500
Subject: Future of Mail-Jewish

    While I have not had the time or interest to take an active part
in the recent discussion on Mail-Jewish surrounding Harav Shach, I
nevertheless think it perhaps worthwhile to express my views in more
general terms, with an eye towards the future of this unique Jewish

    First of all, to those who are considering withdrawing their
membership because of the last controversy, I strongly urge them to
reconsider. Your action would in effect be an admission that even
observant Jews are unable to coexist with each other, which would be
reflect poorly on Judaism in general and the Honor of Heaven in
particular. Our challenge now is to learn from our experience, in order
to keep Mail-Jewish alive and serving the purpose for which it was
created - a forum for discussion within the perspective of Halakha -
despite the differences among us, much as a newlywed couple keeps living
together building a family, even following their first argument after
their honeymoon.

    Now to the lessons to be learned. I think it is noteworthy that Avi
has just admitted that had the controversial posting been submitted for
anonymous publication, he would have returned it for rewriting. It is
reasonable to propose that this be made the rule of thumb to be followed
even when postings are not so published - i.e. that they always be
evaluated as if they were anonymous. This will ensure that editorial
decisions will always be made without any possible respect to persons.

    While I must warmly compliment Avi for his outstanding management
of Mail-Jewish until now, I still feel that, with the growth of the
membership and the volume of submissions, it is unfair to expect him to
cope alone under such pressure, especially at times of controversy.
Since the groundrules already permit the moderator to consult with other
members of the list, I therefore propose that Avi appoint an editorial
board of at least 3 members, say, to help him with the day to day
business of running the list. These members could be appointed for terms
of as short as 1 month or as long as they are able. Their job would be
1) to assist with the editing of the postings for publication, and 2) to
decide on all questions of rejecting postings or returning them for
rewriting, especially in borderline cases. The editors should be, of
course, highly committed and mature individuals who - like Avi himself -
have the ability to rise above their own preferences and judge each case
according to its own merits. If possible, the board should include
representatives of all the various segments of the Mail-Jewish

    Especially because of the heterogeneous membership, I agree that the
moderator and the editors should be strict and return all postings that
are likely to offend any segment of the readership. Thus, anyone who
contemplates submitting a posting whose tone is offensive to someone
else would think twice before doing so, knowing that his posting might
be reviewed by someone from the camp he is offending. I am confident
that this will not unduly hamper the free discussion of issues and
exchange of views which has prevailed up to now.

    The above proposal is nothing but a formal expression of what is
already in the Mail-Jewish groundrules, which provide for consultation
and forbid "flaming". I hope our distinguished moderator will seriously
consider putting it into practice for the sake of Mail-Jewish and its
unique mission, in the spirit of Yithro's advice to Moshe Rabbeinu A"H,
as he said (Ex. 18:22): "... and it will lighten things for you, and
they shall bear with you" and (18:23) "... and you will be able to
stand up, and this whole people shall come to its place in peace."


Shaul Wallach

[Thanks Shaul for your well written words. I'll let this be the open
invitation for anyone interested in being involved on a mail-jewish
editorial review board to let me know. The first item of work will be to
establish what the group wll do and how we will function. Looking
forward to hearing from some of you. Avi Feldblum - Moderator]


From: <YOSEF_BECHHOFER@...> (Yosef Bechhofer)
Date: Sat, 1 Jan 94 23:08:29 -0500
Subject: Gadol Test

Gadol Test:

         Morris Podolak asks about my Gadol Test:
         I have a question about  the  application  of  Yosef's  test,
         however.  Let us agree that Rav Schach  and  the  Lubavitcher
         Rebbe both pass the test. Then both are  gedolim,  and  their
         opinions represent the opinion of the  Torah.   From  what  I
         have read in the papers, I get the distinct  impression  that
         Rav Schach does not view the Lubavitcher Rebbe  as  a  gadol.
         Now since Rav Schach is himself a gadol by Yosef's test, then
         he must be correct in his view of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.  And
         yet we all agree that by Yosef's test the  Lubavitcher  is  a
         gadol.  It seems the test is not completely self  consistent.
         Or am I missing something?

     Just to remind the reader, my test for Gadol status  was  if  the
individual in question was learned and G-d fearing enough to be of the status
to posken on Agunah problems.

     This question I would answer on two levels.
     a) I think that it is probable that in the 60's and 70's, before
the Moshiach issue took off, you probably would have heard from each
side that the other side's leader was in fact indeed a Gadol b'Torah,
but that his hashkafa was not in line with the mesorah that each side
claimed, and therefore he was not to be accepted as a MANHIG by that
side's adherents. I believe it is only since the early 80's (or a few
years earlier) that accusations of heresy / denial of Messianic status
complicated the picture, and that is an element that of course is not
normally present in debates over hashkafa or hanhaga, for instance, in
the Rav Kook zt'l / Reb Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld zt'l disputes.
     (In this vein: the Rabbi of the community where I grew up was
contemplating Aliya in the early 80's (he did make Aliya). At the time
he consulted Reb Yaakov Kaminetsky zt'l and yibadel l'chayim, the
Lubavitcher Rebbe. Reb Yaakov told him to go, but the Rebbe told him, as
he tells all Rabbis not to (as he believes they must not, so to speak,
desert the ship)
 The Rabbi went back to Reb Yaakov, no great fan of Lubavitch, who said
that the Rabbi might still go (for certain extenuating reasons) but not
to consult back with the Rebbe, because then if the Rebbe told him again
not to go the Rabbi should not make Aliya, because: "if an Adam Gadol
(great man) tells you twice not to do something, you shouldn't do it.")

     b) The second level on which I would answer is more important.  As
Eli Turkel recently noted, according to most sources, there is no
halacha of Lo Tasur in our day, and, despite certain claims to the
opposite, there is no infallibility doctrine in Judaism, as is made
abundantly clear by the existence of Mesechta Hori'os, about what
happens when Sanhedrin errs.
     One may legitimately, therefore, pick lines of Halacha and Hashkafa
to pursue.  The Hashkafa one pursues may conceivably be promulgated by a
less-than-Gadol status Manhig, as long as it meets the criteria of the
Ikkarei Emuna, Torah logic and reason (although, personally, I believe
that even the source for one's Hashkafa must be of a very high standard,
but we can discuss those parameters a different time), yet the Halachic
path one chooses must be one expressed or sanctioned by a Gadol b'Torah.
I am proposing how a Gadol in this latter sense may be defined.
     Such a person may: a) be one's Halachic leader; b) even if he is
not, should be accorded by us, non-gedolim, a healthy measure of kavod
and derech eretz - even if not our leader, this man is of the highest
Torah stature, out of our league, and thus not subject to our judgment.
We may disagree with this person's derech in x, y, or z, and find
another to follow, but the Torah and Yiras Shomayim this individual
possesses, being undeniable, means they must be respected.
     The only exception I could see to such an attitude on our part is
for an individual who regards him or her self as a Talmid/a Muvhak/hekes
of a certain Gadol, in all that Gadol's derachim, whose Gadol, as
his/her Rebbe Muvhak, has decreed that all his followers should accord
disrespect to another Gadol b'Torah because of some very extreme
circumstance. Most of us (non-Chasidim at least) are probably not in
such a category. As such, even if we disagree strongly with a Gadol with
a Hashkafic or Halachic stance not of our choosing (based, one hopes, on
some other Gadol's perspective), we have no right to openly criticize,
nor surely mock that Gadol, but rather disagree in the most respectful
ways possible.


End of Volume 11 Issue 10