Volume 11 Number 29
                       Produced: Sun Jan 16 23:37:15 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Emden/Eibshitz Controversy
         [Eric Safern]
         [Eli Turkel]
Internet warning
         [Lawton Cooper]
Rav Lichtenstein on daas Torah
         [Anthony Fiorino]


From: <esafern@...> (Eric Safern)
Date: Mon, 10 Jan 94 15:20:12 -0500
Subject: Emden/Eibshitz Controversy

Hayim Hendeles <hayim@...> brings numerous examples
of controversies le-shem-shamayim (In the name of G-d).  He writes:

>Likewise, Reb Yaakov Emden's attack on Rabbi Yonasan Eibshitz zt"l,
>also falls in the same category. Because this so closely followed
>the heels of the Shabbsai Tzvi moment which nearly destroyed us,
>and because he (albeit mistakenly) perceived what he felt to be
>minute indications that this would degenerate into something similiar,
>he was forced to attack Rabbi Yonasan Eibshitz zt"l as he did in order
>to demonstrate a loud and clear message to Klal Yisroel. 

I think the Emden/Eibesitz controversy is not a good example to
bring here.

For thousands of years, our leaders have found it necessary to
attack those who tried to lead Klal Yisrael down the wrong path
(in their opinion).

I see Hashgacha Pratit (Divine Intervention) in that each
controversy has disappeared without the destruction of our people.

Sometimes, the battle is won completely, as in the
Pharisee/Sadducee/Samaritan issue, or Rav Hai Gaon vs. the Karaites.

Sometimes, one side eventually realizes their attacks were groundless:
the Rambam vs. his contemporaries, Vilna Gaon vs. the Besht. 
As Yechezkal-Shimon Gutfreund has pointed out, the sinas chinam aspects
of these controversies were hardly productive.

Finally, sometimes the controversy is never really settled, but the issue

Emden/Eibesitz caused tremendous damage to the Torah world, by forcing
*everyone* to take a side, tremendous sinas chinam (groundless hatred)
developed.  The power of the Cherem (excommunication) was greatly

Meanwhile, the appearance of the Frankist heresy shortly thereafter
shows that all the fuss didn't stop splinter movements from causing
tremendous damage.

Rav Yaakov Emden, Z'TL was not the only Gadol to criticize Rav Yonatan
Eibesitz, Z'TL.  He was the only one to accuse him of having an 
illegitimate child with his own daughter (!!!), among numerous other
horrible (and totally false) accusations.  He didn't see 'minute
indications.'  He saw an *evil* person in the form of Rav Eibesitz.

Did this really nasty stuff (and the repeated denunciations to the
government) help resolve the issue?  No, many Rabonim supported
Rav Eibisitz until the day he died.  I really don't think it
convinced one additional person.  Certainly the other Rabonim
on Rav Emden's side rarely (if ever) made accusations of personal
immorality.  They simply showed the apparent heresies in the famous amulets.

Meanwhile, despite it all,  there may well have been some truth
in the core issue, I've been told - Rav Eibesitz may have been
some kind of a closet Sabbatean.  I haven't seen the sources myself, yet.

No one today would say these sort of things about a Gadol Yisrael.  But
the point is still there.  Personal attacks probably cause few people
to change their minds on these issues.

If Rav A calls Rav B's followers 'kofrim,' do Rav B's followers
immediately do teshuva?  Very few, I'm sure.  Meanwhile, Rav A's
followers weren't planning to attend any shiurim from Rav B, with
or without the 'kofrim' label.  Rav A said not to go, so they don't go.

Oh, BTW, the Moshe/Korach and Pinchas/Zimri cases are not to be compared
to the above controversies.

In both cases, the individuals committed crimes whose punishment
was immediate death.  Korach and his group attempted an offering
to Hashem, something only the Aharon and his descendants - not the
other Leviim - were permitted to do.

Zimri entered the Ohel Moed, also reserved to the descendants of Aharon.

The point is, I think sharp attacks are sometimes justified,
but often counter-productive.


From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)
Date: Mon, 10 Jan 94 13:41:57 +0200
Subject: Gedolim

      There has been continuous discussion recently on the definition 
of a gadol. I think all these miss the point. The point is what 
difference does it make? The Ramah (YD 244:10) states that one must 
stand up longer for a gadol hador than for a regular talmid chacham 
and he should be respected like one's main rav (rav muvhak). Thus, the 
difference whether someone is a gadol or not is what sort of honor one 
has to give such a person, not whether one is required to accept his 
opinions. I am sure that every chassidic sect accepts their rebbe as 
the gadol hador. As such I am ready to give these rebbes extra 
respect. The Ramah himself defines a gadol as a talmid chacham who is 
well known (mefursam). Any attempt at definitions is meaningless. The 
fact that the Baal Shem Tov or the Ari were major gedolim of the past 
is not defined by their great learning but by their impact on 
religious Jewry. In particular the Ari is not famous because he wrote 
one of the volumes of the Shitah Mekubezet. I don't believe that any 
objective definition exists. However, as long as the only application 
is how much honour to give this individual we can afford to be 
    We seem to be obsessed with the need to categorize everything. In 
the past Rishonim and Achronim could argue vigorously against the 
philosophy of Rambam and still consider him a gadol. They would 
recommend learning his halakhic books while shunning his philosophical 
works. The Vilna Gaon uses very strong words in condemning the 
philosophy of Rambam while at the same time relying all the time on 
the Rambam's Mishna Torah. Only in our generation do we have 
statements stating that one should not the halakhic works of Rabbi 
Soloveitchik because someone disagrees with his philosophy.
      With regard to what Hayim Hendeles said I think it is clear that 
gedolim have different personalities, just like regular people do. 
Some are quiet and some are zealots. As he indicates even the Torah 
Moshe and Aaron were very different and it was Aaron who was loved by 
the people. It is not the object of gedolim to be loved (see the 
section on Jewish leadership in "Relections of the Rav"). There are 
Gemaras that indicate that various Amoras were not loved by their 
local townspeople. If one reads the letters of Rabbenu Tam it is clear 
that he reacted very strongly to other rabbis who disagreed with him 
on certain issues.
     Nevertheless, Jewish history has demonstrated the great harm done 
by machlokes (arguments, fights). I remember from a tape of Rabbi Wein 
his claim that Babylonian Jewry was seriously weakened by the fights 
between Rav Saadiah Gaon and the Exilarch. Who was right is 
irrelevant. The result was the decline of the community. Fights over 
Rambam, between Rav Yonasan Eibshutz and Rav Yaakov Emden, between 
Chassidim and Mitnagdim etc. all lead to great fissures in the 
community without resolving anything. The decline of the community in 
Frankfort has been attributed by many to the fights over Rav Nosson 
Adler. It is clear that Rabbenu Yonah repented on his opposition to 
Rambam not because he accepted the philosophy of Rambam but rather 
because he saw that the fight caused more danger than any philosophy 
of the Rambam possibly could. Chazal fought against christianity and 
succeeded in throwing it out of Judaism. I am sure that it caused much 
stress it the community at that time (second century CE). Eventually 
they won and Judaism was stronger because of it. When starting such a 
fight the gedolim must judge not only between right and wrong but 
whether there is a chance to succeed and more important whether the 
fight itself is more dangerous than the perceived danger. As the 
saying goes, "its not important to be right but to be smart" . It is 
not our job to judge previous generations but I think it is our job to 
learn from history the dangers of machlokes.
     In our generation I don't see that any of the internal fights 
within orthodox Jewry have succeeded in anything beyond creating much 
bitterness. That final judgement is left to history.

Eli Turkel


From: <Lawton_Cooper@...> (Lawton Cooper)
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 94  09:21:12 EST
Subject: Internet warning

I received this warning about a possible Internet scam through work
Federal Government) and thought it appropriate to pass it along to you
to handle as you see fit.

Kol Tuv,
Lawton Cooper

A company calling itself the International Internet Association, and
billing itself as "the largest non-profit provider of free Internet
access in the world" has started advertizing in the Washington, D.C.
area, and offering free Internet accounts to individuals who will FAX
them, among other things, a credit card number.  As an active member of
the Member Council of the National Capital Area Public Access Network
(CapAccess), I wanted to find more about this organization that
supposedly has offices NOT THREE BLOCKS FROM CAPACCESS.  Here's the
result of my search for the IIA.

1.  Their address, listed as "Suite 852 - 202 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W. Washington
    D.C. 20006", is actually a post office box at Mailboxes, Etc.

2.  The company lists no incorporation, trademark or service-mark licenses.

3.  They claim your E-mail address would be <userid>@iia.org.  However:
      a.  No iia.org is listed in the hq.af.mil hosts table
      b.  No iia.org is listed in the acq.osd.mil hosts table
      c.  No iia.org is listed is the INTERNIC 'whois' database
      d.  No iia.org is listed using the INTERNIC 'netfind' Internet lookup
In other words, IIA.ORG does NOT, at this time, exist.

4.  Although they apologize profusely in the application, they state that
    "Without receiving a credit card number, the IIA _cannot_ process an

5.  Although I have left a message on their voice-mail system, I have received
    no response from them.  (they also apologize in the voice mail that,
    due to demand, they are operating at a 3-week backlog for applications.)

I cannot judge an organization in advance.  However, I do think it highly
suspicious that, to use their propaganda, "The International Internet
Association is able to make this service available through generous private
donations, and the extraordinary dedication of its membership."  I can say that
I am not convinced this organization exists, and highly discourage any Internet
user from sending information until you make certain that the IIA is real.

Scott Ward                        (703) 614-4719
Vice-Chair, Public Relations      Volunteer Service Manager (VSM)
National Capital Area Public      CapAccess Community Center
Access Network (CapAccess)        <communit@...>
<sward@...>                 "go community"


From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 94 13:34:06 -0500
Subject: Rav Lichtenstein on daas Torah

Rav Aharon Lichtenstein spoke at the Jewish Center in Manhattan several
weeks ago on the topic "daas Toah: Religious Imperitive or Good Advice?" 
I have summarized my notes from this talk and they are available in the

[File is archived under the title "daas_torah_2". To get it by email,
send the message:

get mail-jewish daas_torah_2

to: <listserv@...>

To get it by anon ftp (or if reading under gopher/mosaic etc,) it is
located in the Special_Topics directory


    Daas Torah (DT) involves the application of rabbinic authority to
    areas which do not self-evidently fall under the rubric of normative
    halachic reasoning and texts.  Two questions arise: (1) What falls
    under DT? and (2) whose views are DT?

    But first, what is an imperative?  There are two senses of the word --
    (1) normative imperative, a chiuv, "basar v'chalav" issues, personal
    minhagim, perhaps certain social/political issues, and (2) not
    normatively binding, but nevertheless important, perhaps critical for
    achieving a particular end -- but if one doesn't choose to reach that
    end, then one is not required to adhere.

    . . . . 

Eitan Fiorino


End of Volume 11 Issue 29