Volume 7 Number 7

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

R' Chaim's hesped
         [Anthony Fiorino]
R. Soloveitchik and Lubavitcher Rebbe (2)
         [Eli Turkel, Yisroel Silberstein]
The Rav and Revisionism
         [Bruce Klein]
The Rav's Levaya (Funeral)
         [Gerald Sacks]
The Rav's writings
         [Meylekh Viswanath]


From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Tue, 27 Apr 93 13:21:12 -0400
Subject: R' Chaim's hesped

I was at YU on Sunday, and would be happy to fill you in on the major
thrust of R' Chaim's hesped.

He began with general praises of the Rav zt'l, focusing on how prepared he
always was for shiur.  The Rav would always prepare anew for a shiur, no
matter how many times he had given it before.  He would dwell over
difficult issues, refusing to look at his own notes from the previous
year.  R' Chaim remembered once in shiur, a talmid offered an explanation,
to which the Rav replied "narishkeit."  The student said, "but rebbe, you
said that last year."  The Rav answered, "maybe so, but that gives you no
right to say it again now."  

R' Chaim mentioned that when the Rav was growing up, all he really learned
was shas w/ Rashi & Tosafot, and Rambam.  In those days, it wasn't so easy
to obtain rishonim and acharonim.  I believe R' Chaim said that the Rav
didn't see a ritva until the late 1930's and didn't see a rashba until the
mid 1940's, when R' Chaim brought one home (the order may have been
 [I relistened to that portion, R' Chaim said that they first obtained a
copy of the Ramban in 1928, and the Rav became familiar with it and used
it extensively. He obtained a copy of the Rashba in 1947-1948 and used
it first learning gemora Shabbat. While he used the Rasba
systematically, he was never as comfortable with it as with "what he
learned in his childhood (my translation/explanation of aramaic term
used)". R' Chaim said the first Ritva in the house was one he brought
back with him from Israel in 1958. Mod]
   He rarely referred to achronim except "to extract knowledge
from them."  R' Chaim maintained that this focus on shas was a great asset
to the Rav; it meant that so much of his torah came from his mind and his
thinking and that his conception of shas was crystal clear.

He also described what he saw as a major change in his father over his
years at YU.  He was in the 40's and 50's, in R' Chaim's words, a
"crouched lion" in shiur, waiting to pounce upon any mistake made by a
talmid.  But in the 60's and 70's, he became much more gentle.  R' Chaim
told the following story:  he had been away from YU for a the years 1963
to 1969; when he returned, he sat in on one of his father's shiurim. 
There, he heard a talmid give an explanation of a Toasafot that was, in R'
Chaim's estimation, "out of this world."  The Rav looked at the student,
and simply said, "Interesting."  Later, R' Chaim ran into R' Herschel
Schachter and said to him, "Herschel, have you noticed how many more
interesting things are said in my father's shiur these days?"  R' Chaim
attributed this change in his father's demeanor to two incidents -- the
Rav's 4-year struggle with cancer, and his wife's struggle with cancer and
eventual death.  Before these incidents, the Rav viewed not understanding
as a moral defect, due to laziness or failure of will.  R' Chaim
attributed this view to the Rav's childhood learning with his father;
given the Rav's brilliance, the only explanation for a failure to grasp
something was a lack of effort.  Thus, the Rav internalized this view. 
However, after his struggle with cancer and his wife's death, his view
changed.  As R' Chaim explained it, for the first time, the Rav saw that
the force of will alone was not always enough to change the course of
events.  From this time onward, he was less likely to see failure as a
moral weakness, but rather a limitation of an individual's abilities.  R'
Chaim clearly saw this as a profound change.  It seemed that R' Chaim
thought the "crouched lion" persona was closer to "the Rav," but he didn't
said so explicitely.

R' Chaim also discussed, early in his talk, different aspects of the Rav's
public persona.  The only other person who could capture an audience the
way the Rav did was Begin; however, Begin, as a politician descended to
the level of the audience, while the Rav elevated the audience.  He also
possessed a "power" persona, which meant that in a small or private
meeting with the Rav, one could not help but be awed and intimidated by
his presence.

R' Chaim also discussed how he has met so many people whose lives were
touched by the Rav, so many talmidim, and he wondered what is it that held
them all together, even though each saw different qualities in the Rav. 
R' Chaim offered the following -- his talmidim knew that the Rav knew he
would not be what he was without them, and his talmidim also knew that they
would not be what they were without him.

I'm sure there was more which I'm not getting; others will no doubt fill
in the holes.

Rabbi Lamm on the numerous right-wing critics of the Rav, and the Rav's
refusal to descend to the level of even responding:  "Giants pay no
attention to mosquitoes."

There are a series of shloshim shiurim being given at YU by the YU roshei
yeshiva and others, all mushmachim of the Rav, about 15 in all.  All will
be on various aspects of the Rav's torah. They are open to the public will
be given in the beit midrash at 9:15 PM.  The next is Wednesday the 28th,
given by R. Brondspiegel.

Does anyone know is any of the roshei yeshiva of the N.Y. area yeshivot
were in attendance on Sunday?  I heard the rosh yeshiva of Chaim Berlin
paid a shiva call in Boston; other than that, the lack of kavod from
those communities seems to be pervasive.  Ironic -- without the Rav's
influence on American Orthodoxy, probably a big fraction of these yeshivot
would not even exist.

Eitan Fiorino


From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)
Date: Tue, 27 Apr 93 14:45:19 +0300
Subject: R. Soloveitchik and Lubavitcher Rebbe

       Mike Gerver writes

> The meeting with the Lubavitcher Rebbe occurred about
> 1961, when the Rebbe was sitting shiva for his mother.  ....
> He spoke to the Rebbe on the phone several times after that, 
> but never saw him in person again.

       I had heard that about 10-15 years years ago R. Soloveitchik went
to one of the fabrengs (celebrations ?) in Crown Heights by the
Lubavitch and that the rebbe invited him to sit next to him on the head

        There is also a story, that one year in the summer the Rav
complained that the boys were too intellectual and had no soul. He put
away the gemara for that shiur and talked about "Tanya" instead. The
next day the rebbe heard about it and immediately sent to the rav a
complete set of the Tanya.


From: attmail!cbs1!sherman!isrsil (Yisroel Silberstein)
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 93 15:57:09 EDT
Subject: R. Soloveitchik and Lubavitcher Rebbe

To correct some biographical notes about the Rav : The last time he saw
the Lubavitcher Rebbe YBL'T was NOT when he came to be menachem ovail on
the loss of the rebbe's mother.  Rather, it was approximately in 1980 ,
on Yud aleph kislev ( the birthday of the rebbe ). The rav had come to
the farbrengen ( perhaps because of some k'lal inyan on which the rebbe
had aligned himself with the Rav ; so was some speculation I heard ) ,
and the rebbe stood up for him m'loi koimosoi ( he stood up to full
height ) to greet the rav. I also heard at the time that the rav was the
only person the rebbe greeted as such. My family lived in crown heights
as I was growing up and I attended not a few farbrengens, and most
learned talmeidei chachomim who I saw walk in merited the rebbe rising
about 2 inches in his chair.  So the differentiation is very telling.

A Rabbi ( I don't recall exactly who ) wrote an article several months
ago in the Jewish Week , telling of how he and his friends went unbidden
to keep the Rav company out of town, when his Rebbitzen had passed away.
While he initially resented their presence there, ( being very
disconsolate over the loss of his rebbitzen , and wanting privacy )
through the course of shabbos he warmed to their company, and shabbos
afternoon as hakoras hatov ( expressing gratitude ) to them he learned
Likutei Torah ( Authored by the Baal Hatanya ) with them. This sefer is
the most dense of all the baal hatanyas writings as far as chassidus &
the toiras ho'ari z'l go. He remarked that if it were not for the
Likutei Torah he would not know the difference between one yom tov and

There is an entertaining story the rav is said to have recounted at one
of the yarzheit shiurim. When he was a child his grandfather R' Chaim
came by to visit and tested the rav on the gemara his rebbe in cheder
was supposed to be teaching him. The rebbe was a Lubavitcher chosid, and
was spending an inordinate time teaching the kids Tanya, and gemara was
relegated to a lower priority.  The rav failed his grandfather's farher
misrably , and R' Chaim found out the reason why.  The rav was very
embarassed and began crying. R' Chaim then consoled him telling him not
to cry, because he would always have a rebbe available to teach him
gemmara, but who knew if the opportunity to learn tanya would ever come
along again.

What a panoramic view of Knowledge !

Yisroel Silberstein
908 457 2536
30 Knightsbridge Rd.


From: Bruce Klein <bjk@...>
Date: Tue, 27 Apr 93 11:28:03 -0400
Subject: The Rav and Revisionism

In a posting a few months back I referred to the viewpoint held by some
that the Torah Im Derech Eretz apporach of Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch was
in the realm of a horaa't shaah, that is valid only in that time and
place.  Rabbi Lamm in his hesped sounded the alarm against revisionism
of the Rav's views concerning Torah Umadda (Torah and Secular studies)
and specifically mentioned that Rav Hirsch had been a victim of
revisionism.  It was mentioned to me that Rabbi Lamm's remarks in this
regard may have been in response to part of Rav Aaron Solovetchik's
hesped (which has been excerpted in mail.jewish as follows:)

> Many people criticized the Rav, R. Aaron said, because he taught philosophy,
> such as the Kuzari, not just teaching Torah in a traditional way. They
> resented him because they were not able to analyze the Torah, to break it 
> up it into many colors (the ketonet passim, Joseph's coat of many colors)
> as he was. But this diffraction of the light of Torah was necessary in
> this time and place, in order to transmit it through an opaque medium to
> the Jewish people.

I have no idea if Rav Aaron was being "revisionist" here and I would tend
to think not, but this may be why Rabbi Lamm was so quick to stress the
full membership of Madda in the Rav's Torah Umadda weltanschaung.

Bruce Klein


From: Gerald Sacks <sacks@...>
Date: Tue, 27 Apr 93 14:02:14 -0400
Subject: The Rav's Levaya (Funeral)

Seth Ness comments that he thinks R. Aaron was upset that no one from
certain segments of the Orthodox community was present at the funeral. From
where I was, I saw people from _all_ segments of the Boston


From: <VISWANATH@...> (Meylekh Viswanath)
Date: Tue, 27 Apr 93 11:28:00 -0400
Subject: The Rav's writings

In the list of the Rav's writings several translations from Yiddish were
mentioned.  An earlier post also mentioned that his public shiurim were
in Yiddish, that he felt more comfortable in it (than English, I
presume, but also than Hebrew perhaps?).  Does anybody know if his
Yiddish shiurim/droshes were published, and where?

[Concerning comfort with language, what R' Chaim said was that Yiddish
was the speaking language he was most comfortable with, to the extent
that R' Chaim said those who only knew the Rav "in English" could not
truely know the Rav. As for writing, there Hebrew was his native
language. Mod.]



End of Volume 7 Issue 7