Volume 7 Number 33

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Bet Ha-Levi
         [Bob Werman]
Rav Soleveitchik & YU
         [Steve Edell]
Rav Soloveichik
         [Charlie Abzug]
The Rov and YU, A Response
         [Yosef Bechhofer]


From: Bob Werman <RWERMAN@...>
Date: Mon, 10 May 93 19:08:23 EDT
Subject:  Bet Ha-Levi

A few words on the Beit Ha-Levi, the great grandfather of the Rov and
the man he was named after, Yosef Ber [the Dov is a Hebrew equivalent of
the Yiddish-German Ber].

As a young man he was appointed Chief Rabbi of Minsk in Byelorussia
[White Russia] and there married the daughter of a rich congregant.
Although brilliant, he failed to give the proper order of the t'fillot
on Yom Tov and on motzei Yom Tov, the father-in-law demanded that
Soloveichik [means little nightingale, btw] divorce his daughter.  Yosef
Dov did and left with great animus to Russia in general and anger.  Can
you imagine something like this happening now?  This was in about 1850.

He returned to Volozhin where he became a Ram but did not get on with
the Natziv, the other Ram, and both had large followings among the
bachurim, both with strong and attractive personalities.  Yosef Dov left
for Slotzk in 1865.

He later made up with the Natziv and his son, Hayyim, married the
Natziv's granddaughter.  In later days, the Natziv's ben zkunnim, Me'ir,
was to be a friend and spiritual leader of the Rov, Chaim's grandson.

__Bob Werman    <rwerman@...>    rwerman@vms.huji.ac.il


From: <edell@...> (Steve Edell)
Date: Tue, 11 May 93 03:47:44 -0400
Subject: Re: Rav Soleveitchik & YU

I went to YU, graduating from the college in 1973 (20? years ago!).  I
am a Ba'al Tshuva who was attracted to Judaism through Torah Leadership
Seminars, weekends & summer get-togethers run by YU (& similar ones by
NCSY, etc) for those of us who had not yet 'found' our religion.

If it wasn't for these seminars & weekends, I and many others like me
would have never become religious.  Many of my friends from these
meetings are Rabbis & important Educators in Judaism, that would never
have had thought to go to a 'religious' college, but DID go to YU
because of that special blend of so-called 'religious' and 'secular'.

I was on the wrestling team while at YU.  Being in shape helped me study
and concentrate, made it easier for me to stay awake those late hours
into the night, to study, and taught me to "go for it" -- that no matter
what level I reach, I could always try for that extra little bit more.

I think that YU plays a very important place in religious surroundings
and would think of putting it on the same level as Lubavitch -- I would
_never_ have thought of going to a Lubavitch 'tish' when I was 16, for
instance, but YU Seminars were something that I wouldn't miss for the

Just because the political big-wigs (and among them Rabbis) felt that
the Rav chose the wrong path does not mean that he did.  These same
institutions in Israel are now having problems with "their" political
parties, but that is a different discussion.

Steven Edell, Computer Manager    Internet:  <edell@...>
United Israel Appeal, Inc
(United Israel Office)            Voice:  972-2-255513
Jerusalem, Israel                 Fax  :  972-2-247261


From: <cabzug@...> (Charlie Abzug)
Date: Mon, 10 May 93 23:06:19 -0400
Subject: RE: Rav Soloveichik

I'd like to add a little note to the Rav's biography.  The Rav used to
give a shiur on Motzo'ei Shabbatot at the old Maimonedes Yeshiva in
Dorchester, specifically for the college students in Boston.  I went to
several of these shiurim, and they made such a profound impression on me
that today, approx.  30 years after the fact, I still remember vividly
some of the things that he said.  And I can attest to the Rav's
considerable patience, as I also remember how patiently he answered some
of my questions, which as I now, but did not then, appreciate as
revealing the true profundity of my own ignorance.

					Charlie Abzug


From: <YOSEF_BECHHOFER@...> (Yosef Bechhofer)
Date: Tue, 11 May 93 00:19:15 -0400
Subject: The Rov and YU, A Response

Not without hesitation, I respond to Eitan's arguments: (citing myself
and his comments)

YGB: 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.

EF: Exactly what are these mysterious "activities" to which you refer?

And how exactly has YU used the Rov to add legitimacy to any of its
activities?  The Rov, 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 Rov to say shiur at YU, and, I am sure, if he wanted to leave

     These activities include organized sports in Inter-college leagues,
the extensive socializing between YU boys and SCW girls (witness the
"Guide to the Perplexed!") and partying, yes, courses in Art and other
subjects taught not only not b'ruach HaTorah, but in a spirit foreign to
it, courses in what are considered Limudei Kodesh in which views beyond
the Halachic and Machshavic norm are given credence, and a general
absence of an atmosphere of Yiras Shamayim which perforce accompanies
such phenomena.
     As to the Rov's alleged acquiescence by virtue of the fact that he
remained there, this smacks of oversimplification.  Does anyone suggest
that Reb Yerucham Gorelick, since he remained at YU, approved of all
these activities. Would one, yibadel lechayim, say that about Reb Dovid
Lifshitz?  Those of us who have been in various yeshivos in various
capacities almost invariably disagree with the Administration on major
issues, yet stay on because for either ideological or practical reasons
we feel most comfortable where we are despite objections. The Rov was an
employee - first of Rabbi Belkin, then of, yibadel lechayim,Rabbi Lamm -
he did not set policy, and was not of the nature to protest it, if and
when, head and shoulders above theworld as he was, he noticed it.

YGB: 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

EF: Are you suggesting that there is no inyan of taking care of one's
health in Judaism?  If the Rov 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.

     Workouts are one things, clubs, tournaments, spectator sports,
quite another. The Rov clearly did not read the walls behind him at that
juncture in his life. And, perhaps it is the "very premise" which is
indeed objectionable, if this is the way it must be manifested.

YGB: 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.

EF: 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... There is
no acknowledgement of the incredible task of turning out Jews who are
both knowledgeable 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.

     You have just clarified YU's goals, which are in fact well
understood, and may be amply achieved, both within and without YU in
many College allowing yeshivos, without the accompanying questionable
extracurricular activities.

EF: Unfortunately, the Rov has not left us with a position paper on
Torah u'mada.  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 worldly knowledge as
positive, especially in his role as a posek.

     Torah Im Derech Eretz, though held in suspicion in the East, was no
where near as much maligned as Torah U'Mada YU style. Both schools hold
of the opinions you just mentioned. Th difference in hostility stems
from the accompanying unhappy phenomena in YU.

YGB: 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.

EF: 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 Rov who was a
giant in learning and in teaching transcends this kind of political

     I have been accused of many things, but this is the first time I
have been accused of insanity :-) ! My reaction, I have noted, would
have been TO attend the Azkara, despite my discomfort, and just winced
at Rabbi Lamm's excesses, as I do when reading his book. But, as Dr.
Turkel noted, Reb Elchonon refused to deliver a shiur at YU. I do not
fully understand this position, but like it or not, it is precedent for
those who follow it, and just as I respect my friends and acquaintances
who have gone to YU, and emerged Bnei Torah Ovdei Hashem, I respect
those who feel that in this case "b'makom Chillul Hashem ein cholkim
kavod laRov" despite my difference of opinion with them.

     In my last posting there was an error in the last line which
changed its meaning. It should have read (correction in brackets):

"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  [lack  of]
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 33