Volume 7 Number 26

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Articles on Rav Soloveitchik
         [Michael Pitkowsky]
Rav Soloveitchik (3)
         [Eli Turkel, Anthony Fiorino, Yosef Bechhofer]


From: <mipitkowsky@...> (Michael Pitkowsky)
Date: Thu, 6 May 93 14:21:39 -0400
Subject: Articles on Rav Soloveitchik

Here are a number of good articles on Rav Soloveitchik from various
journals, among them are three articles by Dr. Lawrence Kaplan of McGill

"The Religious Philosophy of R. Joseph Soloveitchik", Dr. Lawrence
Kaplan, Tradition 14/2 (Fall 1973)

"Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik's Philosophy of Halakhah", Dr. Lawrence
Kaplan, The Jewish Law Annual vol. 7, Harwood Academic Publishers-The
Institute of Jewish Law at Boston University Law School

"Models of the Ideal Religious Personality in the Thought of Rabbi
Joseph Soloveitchik", Dr. Lawrence Kaplan, Jerusalem Studies in Jewish
Thought IV (1984/85), in Hebrew

"On the Problem of Halacha's Status in Judaism: A Study of the Attitude
of Rabbi Josef Dov Halevi Soloveitchik, R. Shihor, Forum (Spring and
Summer 1987)

"Joseph Soloveitchik: Lonely Man of Faith", David Singer and Moshe
Sokol, Modern Judaism vol. 2 no. 3, October 1982 (Johns Hopkins
University Press)

"Halakhic Man: A Review Essay", Elliot Dorff, Modern Judaism vol. 6 no.
1, February 1986

David Hartman wrote a response to Elliot Dorff's review:

"The Halakhic Hero: Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik", David Hartman, Modern
Judaism vol. 9 no. 3, October 1989

"Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik on Human Knowledge: Between Maimonidean and
Neo- Kantian Philosophy", Aviezer Ravitzky, Modern Judaism vol. 6 no. 2,
May 1986


From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)
Date: Sun, 9 May 93 16:39:26 +0300
Subject: Rav Soloveitchik

    Dave Novak asked what were the objections to R. Soloveitchik. IMHO
there were two major objections (though these objections are rarely
stated clearly). The main one was that he supported Mizrachi rather than
Agudat Israel. The Agudah is run by a Moetzet Gedolei haTorah (council
of Torah Sages) that consists of major heads of yeshivot and chassidic
leaders. Because of the history of recent events (i.e 1930- present) R.
Soloveitchik felt that the zionist approach of Mizrachi was more correct
than the anti-zionist approach of Agudah.  As such he left Agudah (late
1930's) and joined Mizrachi eventually becoming the spiritual leader of
Mizrachi. I personally feel that had he stayed in Agudah he would have
remained as a member of the Moetzet Gedolei ha-Torah and the "charedei"
world would have found it inconsistent to say that a member of the
moetzet gedolei ha-Torah was not a gadol. (This was basically hinted at
by the Bostoner rebbe).
      Let me stress that R. Soloveitchik had good relations with R.
Aaron Kotler, R. Shneur Kotler, R. Moshne Feinstein, R. Ruderman and
many other members of the moetzet gedolei ha-Torah of America. In the US
most of the opposition was from what I call young turks rather than the
heads of yeshivot.  R. Soloveitchik always talks about loneliness
(Lonely man of faith and see his hesped for the Brisker Rav). The Rav
was very conscious that his support for Mizrachi cut him off from much
of the Yeshiva world but felt he had to do what was right.
     The other objection to R. Soloveitchik was his support for secular
studies and working for YU. Even today I see invitations for R. Dovid
Lipschutz or R. Herschel Schacter to speak at various functions and they
are given all sorts of titles that do not identify them as rebbes at YU.
In the 1930's R. Elchonon Wasserman came to the US to raise money and
was requested to give a derasha at YU. He refused on the grounds that
they taught secular studies there. Since R. Soloveitchik epitomizes the
synthesis of the secular and Torah world they objected to him. At one
extreme the Steipler Rav (zz"l) in Bnei Brak stated that anyone that
went to university was not really religious in spite of external
appearances.  He also constantly refers to the "idolatry of Zionism".
Obviously, these rabbis (who were also gedolim) would not recognize R.
Soloveitchik as being an equal and alternative approach.

Eli Turkel

From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Fri, 7 May 93 12:25:52 -0400
Subject: Rav Soloveitchik

I must preface my comments by stating that it is not my goal to engage
in anti-Black hat polemics.  But I think that there are issues which
demand discussion in a civil manner: Yosef Bechhofer posted some
comments on "The Rov and the Right Wing," to which I would like to

> I believe that YU utilizes the Rov, and has utilized the Rov for many
> years, to lend an aura of legitimacy to activities conducted in the
> alleged name of Torah U'Mada, which are foreign to the nature of a Yeshiva
> specifically, and to the cause of Avodas Hashem in general.

Exactly what are these mysterious "activities" to which you refer?  And
how exactly has YU used the Rav to add legitimacy to any of its
activities?  The Rav, was, after all, the Rosh Yeshiva of YU/RIETS, of
his own free will.  In fact, his weekly commute back and forth from
Boston clearly demonstrates his commitment to the institution.  No one
forced the Rav to say shiur at YU, and, I am sure, if he wanted to leave
for a "frumer" yeshiva at any time, he would have been welcomed with
open arms.  It would have been a gevaldik chap for the right-wing world
if the Rav spurned YU for another yeshiva.  His continued association
with YU demonstrates his approval of the general concept of a
"Yeshiva/University" and more specifically, his approval of the specific
educational goals and programs of YU/RIETS.  The day school he founded
in Boston, Maimonides, is well known for its excellent secular studies
as well.

> I remember the one time I came to hear the Rov at YU, noting the notice
> on the wall behind him about some upcoming judo tournament, and wondering
> at the jarring contrast.  Some on this board may argue that the Rov was
> in fact for the synthesis of even such disparate elements as a shiur
> (then) in Mesechta Shevuos and Judo.  Perhaps, but I doubt it highly. 

Are you suggesting that there is no inyan of taking care of one's health
in Judaism?  If the Rav was offended by such a notice, he would have no
doubt torn it down.  The very premise of YU is that of a yeshiva and a
college.  Being in yeshiva means going to shiur.  Being in college
means, in addition to classes, participating in extracurricular
activities.  Such as judo.  That the two of these things can coexist on
the same campus is somewhat remarkable, and for all its faults, YU has
put both aspects on its campus.

> Even so, those of us who cannot accept the _institutionalized_ value of
> such synthesis are therefore uncomfortable at the possibility of lending
> credence to the claim to the legitimacy thereof. 

Clearly, you have a different opinion of what a yeshiva is or should be.
And a chasid wouldn't learn in a Litvisha yeshiva, and vice versa.  But
there still can be mutual understanding between these groups.  But there
is no attempt made here to understand YU or its goals.  I can very
easily say, as a very strong adherant of Torah umada as a l'chatchila
approach to Judaism and the world, that there is a tremendous value and
need for the traditional yeshivot, and I would never wish, chas
v'shalom, that Lakewood or any other would simply go away.  But can that
community extend the same respect?  Unfortunately, not -- YU is a pasul
yeshiva because the students there learn about art and science and judo.
There is no acknowledgement of the incredible task of turning out Jews
who are both knowledgable in Torah and (using the most b'di avod
approach to secular studies) are able to get good jobs or gain
acceptance to professional or graduate schools.  Many at YU, R. Lamm
most prominantly among them, hold a much more l'chatchila approach to
Torah umada.  There is ample historical precedent for such a position
within traditional masora; the halachic and hashgafic viability of this
approach has been repeatedly demonstrated.  What is important is that
that is only one of the many valid approaches to Torah umada within
Jewish tradition, with positions represented and justifiable all the way
to the other side of the spectrum, to complete rejection of modernity.
There is no single correct approach.  Unfortunately, complex hashgafic
issues cannot be approached in the same manner that one might decide if
an animal kosher or treif.  Yet those who council rejection of modernity
fail to recognize this pluralism and, in an oversimplistic manner not
befitting their learning and piety, declare YU treif -- a pasul yeshiva.

Unfortunately, the Rav has not left us with a position paper on Torah
umada.  From his writings, we know that he had a very positive view of
technology and scientific progress.  In "Lonely Man of Faith," he wrote
"Only the man who builds hospitals, discovers therapeutic techniques,
and saves lives is blessed with dignity."  We know he obtained a PhD in
philosophy, and that he did not consider this as batala.  We also know
that he continued to view his wordly knowledge as positive, especially
in his role as a posek.

> The theory of Torah U'Mada embraced by the Rov was not carte blanche.

We simply don't know what theory of Torah umada was embraced by the Rav.
As I have tried to demonstrate, the evidence points to his at least
approval of a l'chatchila approach, both for himself and for the
students at YU and Maimonides.

> Had the Azkara been held somewhere else, with speakers (perhaps the
> latter two?)  who would be not be suspect of setting themselves up as the
> Arbiters of the Rov's legacy, to use now to justify and rationalize the
> ways of YU which other Yeshivos do not want to be seen as condoning, I
> believe the demographics would have been different.

This is insanity!  We are not talking about having these roshei yeshiva
go to Hebrew Union College or JTS!  We are talking about an Orthodox
institution which sets as a standard shemirat halachah and talmud Torah.
And there are those who are worried about, chas v'chalom, lending
credibility to all this?  To pay respects to a Rav who was a giant in
learning and in teaching transcends this kind of political garbage.  I
am reminded of the Gemara which goes something like this: "Who is a
pious fool?  One who sees a woman drowning but doesn't go to help her
because it is forbidden to gaze at a woman."

Eitan Fiorino

From: <YOSEF_BECHHOFER@...> (Yosef Bechhofer)
Date: Fri, 7 May 93 14:37:53 -0400
Subject: Rav Soloveitchik

 Two points as a follow up on my last posting: a) I was told that in
Rabbi Meiselman's yeshiva in Yerushalayim, Toras Moshe, a hesped was
held which was attended by many prominent members of the "right wing."
Perhaps an Israel based MJ reader can confirm this.
 b) I just ran this morning into a member of the Soloveitchik family
here in Chicago, who made a gem of an observation: Rabbi Lamm utilized
the right words with the wrong intentions in stating that the Rov was
for secular studies l'chatchila, not b'di'eved.  Rabbi Lamm meant that
the Rov held that such study was an imperative pursuit, not a concession
to realities.  In fact, the Rov's position was more in line with the
literal interpretation of the Hebrew words: It is nice (l'chatchila) to
be acquainted with secular studies, but not me'akev (does not constitute
an impediment to) greatness in Torah) (b'di'eved) not to possess such
familiarity. This person pointed out, somewhat ironically, that this
more Lithuanian approach stands in contrast to the Torah Im Derech Eretz
approach of Rabbi S.  R.  Hirsch, in which the familiarity with the
secular Derech Eretz is in fact me'akev one from fulfilling R.S.R.H.'s
ideal purpose in life.


End of Volume 7 Issue 26