Volume 7 Number 46

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Hesped by Julius Berman
         [Harold Gellis]
R. Schachter's hesped/shiur
         [Anthony Fiorino]
Yemai Zicharon of the Rav z"l
         [Irwin H. Haut]


From: Harold Gellis <GELYC@...>
Date: Mon, 17 May 93 15:44:29 EDT
Subject: Hesped by Julius Berman

[On Saturday night, May 8, a hesped was held to commemorate the shloshim
of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik.  Julius Berman, former president of the
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations and the former chairman of the
Conference of Major Jewish Organizations was a spokesman for Rabbi
Soloveitchik in Jewish communal affairs and in the world at large.
Following are some of his observations and anectodes about Rabbi
Soloveitchik as delivered at the hesped.]

On the way here, I was considering a paradox.  Many haven't seen the Rav
or heard him for quite some years.  We knew that we would never here
from the Rav again.  Nevertheless, with his petirah, there is a feeling
of void and emptiness.  There is a posuk in Eichah which says: `Yesomim
hoyenu ein av' - we were orphans without a father.  The Minchas Yitzchak
on Eichah asks: of course if we are orphans, we do not have a father, so
why does the posuk repeat the obvious?  But, the intent of the posuk is
as follows: Sometimes, in the lifetime of our father, we feel like
orphans (even though our father is still alive, but incapacitated).
But, when our father dies, we really feel the pain of not having our

I want to speak about the Rav as a human being, not as a giver of
droshos, or as a magid shiur.  I want to refer to my dialogue with the
Rav over the years in his apartment in Washington Heights, and my
reflections on him.

Some years ago, the Rav, in his apartment, asked me the following
question: "Where does my name come from?"  I looked at him in
puzzlement.  The answer was obvious.  "You are named after the Beis
Halevi, Rabbi Yosef Dov Halevi, the father of Rav Chaim Halevi," I said.
"But still," persisted the Rav.  "Where does my name come from?"  Then,
the Rav answered what I thought was an obvious question.  "When my
mother gave birth to me, it wasn't like today where you go in and out of
the hospital.  My mother had to lie in bed for many days.  While my
mother was resting in bed, Rav Chaim (her father-in-law) came in to
visit her and asked how she felt.  Then Rav Chaim continued: `You know,
it is our minhag in Brisk that the mother of the baby names the baby.
But eleven years have elapsed since my father, the Beis Halevi, passed
away, and he still doesn't have a name.  So would you be kind enough to
name the baby Joseph after my father (the Beis Halevi)."  The Rav
paused.  "A breira hot zie?" (Did my mother have a choice?)

The Rav told me that Rav Chaim was a feminist.  To prove his point, he
showed me the wedding invitation for his parents, Rav Moshe
Soloveitchik, and Pessia (Feinstein) from Pruzhan.  It was signed
`Hamevakshim Chaim Halevi and his wife's name (in brackets),' ) and only
then, Soloveitchik.  [On today's wedding invitations, the parents are
mentioned as `haadam verayaso'].  It was in 1982 that the Rav asked me:
"What is the Israeli newspaper `Haolam Hazeh?'  "Rebbe," I said, "You
really don't want to know."  The Rav then told me he wanted to sue the
newspaper for libel.  The problem was that, in the aftermath of Sabra
and Shatila and Begin's comments, `Goyim kill goyim,' the paper reported
that Rabbi Soloveitchik was so upset with the judicial investigation
into the Sabra and Shatila incident that he telephoned Begin on Yom
Kippur.  The Rav wanted to sue the newpaper for libel.  "Rebbe," I said
jokingly.  "In order to sustain a libel suit, there is a requirement
that the libel be false and another requirement that it should be
believable.  People might believe that you called Begin on Yom Kippur,
but would anybody believe that Begin would pick up the phone on Yom
Kippur? Impossible!"  The Rav laughed but then added, "In Israel, it is
seven hours later than here and Begin would, indeed, answer the
telephone."  The Rav always had the last word.

I was with the Rav in Boston when he received a call from another
country.  It was a former student telling the Rav that he was engaged.
I heard the Rav say on the telephone "Yeah, to whom?," and "That's
wonderful!"  After the Rav got off the phone he told me, "I knew all
along that he was engaged but I went along with the charade."  The Rav
had alot of chesed.

The Rav said that one of the reason's why Eve was created was for Adam
to manifest chesed to his wife.  The Rav used to have shamoshim
(personal assistants) who would live in his apartment in Washington
Heights and help him.  One of his shamoshim was going out on a date when
the Rav noticed the fellow was wearing white stockings.  The Rav told
the boy that it didn't look nice to wear white stockings on a date.
"But, rebbe," protested the fellow, "You, yourself wear white socks."
The Rav thereupon opened up his draw and showed the fellow that it was
full of colored stockings.  "I used to wear colored stockings," said the
Rav.  "But when the Rebbetzin couldn't wear colored stockings (for
health reasons), I also only wore white stockings."

The Rav had a custom to visit Maimonides Yeshiva in Boston on fridays.
One day I saw the Rav returning from his visit with a big smile.  I
asked him what happened.  "While I was in Maimonides, I saw a small boy
crying," said the Rav.  "He had been thrown out of class.  I offered to
bring the boy back to class.  But the boy said, `there's an exam in
Chumash and I'm not prepared.' I told the boy, `I'll teach you Chumash.'
The boy looked at me in wonderment and asked, `You know Chumash?'

The Torah says: `And G)d saw that everything that he had done was good.'
There is an obvious question here: Is there anything that GD does that
is not good?  Everything he does and makes is good.  But, the Torah
wants to teach us an important lesson.  In life, many times, we look
back on what we did, and we raise all kinds of cheshbonos - criticisms
of our actions.  But, G-d is teaching us that we should look back
retrospectively on our past and view it as being good.The life of the
Rav and his infuence on the community should also be viewed as being
`tov meod' - very good.

Heshy Gellis


From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Mon, 17 May 93 16:55:27 -0400
Subject: R. Schachter's hesped/shiur

My summary of my notes from R. Hershel Schacter's hesped/shiur on the
Rav given to the Rabbinic alumni of RIETS, Young Israel of Kew Gardens
Hills, 5-12.  As always, all the mistakes are mine, and I apologize for
the style, etc. etc.

The Rav's idea that masora was so important was so prominant that it was
almost exaggerated.  When the Ratziner (?) Rav had discovered a new
t'cheiles, many argued that it should not be used.  He later published a
book of the letters he received over this issue, including one from the
beis halevi -- all the scientists in the world can figure it out, but it
doesn't matter if there is no masora.

In a debate over the question over whether the middle word in the Torah
is the 1st word of the second half, or the last word of the 1st half,
the Rav said that even counting the words to see is of no avail -- you
need a masora, even if you can determine objective truth.

The Rav's father, R. Moshe, would recite krias sh'ma after davening in
every Hebrew dialect (yemenite, galacian, etc.) to insure being yotzie
the mitzva l'chatchila; the Rav did not do this because he felt that the
masora that one received from one's parents was the appropriate dialect.

The Rav held like his father, who held like the tiferet yisrael, that
metzitza is no longer needed by mila.  At his son's bris, the mohel
asked if he could perform metzitza.  Tha Rav said, my father wouldn't
allow it, but I'm liberal."  Why - because the mohel had a masora to do

When man landed on the moon, people wanted to alter the nusach of
kiddush levana.  The Rav was opposed -- he said you still can't touch
the moon when one is saying kiddush levana.

Not true in the case of faulty masora, though -- when the Rav first came
to America, he was the rav of a shul where, when Rosh Hashana fell out
on shabbos, they kohanim didn't want to duchen.  The Rav berated them
until they did it.  He later said, "I won the batlle, but I lost the
position."  The poskim felt this was a bad minhag, so he was opposed to

He also felt that it was important to attempt to preserve minhagim --
for instance, he moved shir hamaalos (on aseres y'mei t'shuva) from
after yishtabach, where it is mafseik, to before yishtabach or nishmat.
He didn't want to leave it out all together.

In maimonides, he said the nusach sefard seder avoda, although the rest
of the davening is nusach ashkenaz.  He didn't say the nusach ashkenaz
seder avoda because the sefard version is more accurate.  Also in
Maimonides, he introduced a 4th bowing into the Yom Kippur davening from
the baal hatanya's machzor.  These were obviously small changes.

What about shilos which change as the world changes?  The Rav said in
the name of Rav Chaim that one shouldn't repeat shemona esrei on Rosh
Chodesh if one forgot yaaleh v'yavo.  He brough rayas that one is
actually yotzei shemona esrei if one forgets, but isn't yotzei kiddush
hayom.  Rav Chaim said one should repeat, as a t'fila n'dava.  Why?
There is a new tzarich -- to be m'kadesh the yom.  But on shabbos, one
can't say a t'fila n'dava -- thus, one should be yotzei kiddush hayom
with mussaf.  Later, Rav Chaim said that bizman hazeh, it is better to
be m'kadesh heyom even on weekdays with musaf because the poskim hold
that we do not say t'filos n'dava today.

Not bathing during the 9 days: (b'sheim R. Moshe) minhag must be based
on a kium; there can't be a minhag to stand on one's head between 3 and
4 each day.  Such a thing cannot be a minhag.  The origin of the minhag
is that there were those who were noheig to not bathe during all of
shloshim; since the aveilus of the 9 days is equivalent to that of
shloshim, people accepted this minhag also.  But, today many have a
heter istanus to bathe during shiva, and evryone bathes during shloshim,
so it makes no sense to keep the minhag for the 9 days.

The Rav opposed the recitation of parts of kabbalos shabbos before Yom
Yerushalaim as well as t'kias shofar, which some had instituted.  Thses
are ceremonies, he said, because there is no kium, and Judaism is not a
religion of ceremonies.  Kabbalos shabbos is part of the mitzva of kavod
shabbos, and there is no kium of kavod on yom yerushalaim.

Some turn off lights before hadlakos heneros.  (I don't know how well
I'm telling over this; my notes are unclear) Macheloches whether
hadlakos neros is kavod shabbos.  If the house is clean already, one
doesn't have to clean again for kavod shabbos (Rabbenu Tam).  So perhaps
by candles, if the house is lit already one's chiuv to light is
different -- if the lights are on, perhaps one can't make the bracha
over the candles, so it is better to shut the lights.

The Rema in hilchos mila says that a non-religious doctor should not
perform mila.  What if there is no one around other than such a person
when the time comes to do the bris?  The Rav said in the name of R.
Moshe that if the people are not so careful about mitzvos, then they
should do it.  At that time, people were afraid to identify as Jews, and
one would be afraid that if the son didn't have the mila then that he
wouldn't have it at all.  If the people are frum people, then you tell
them to wait.

Cakes with soft batter: should one take challah or not?  Rav heard this
from his mother, if the name of R. Chaim.  There are many kulos in chutz
laaretz, so one can rely on these.

The Rav instituted t'kias shofar in the middle of silent shemona esrei
(the most proper way) in Maimonides.  He davened a little aloud, and the
k'hilah followed and they blew shofar at the end of each bracha.  When
his talmidim asked if they should do the same in their shuls, he said if
it is a small congregation, then it was OK, but in large shuls, it was
better to follow their minhag even though it is less correct, because it
would have been a tzircha to coordinate everyone's davening.

The Rambam holds that the baal koray should repeat even for a mistake in
trup; the Y'rushalmi and the m'chaber poskin otherwise.  The Rav was
once laining as a boy, with R. Simcha Zelig and R. Chaim on either side
of him, and they told him they would make him repeat every mistake.  The
Rav said that if the baal koray will get flustered, then don't make him
repeat; otherwise, he should.

The Rambam has a t'shuva in which he says one can lain from a pasul
sefer Torah, while in the mishnah torah he says one must have a kosher
sefer to lain.  The beis yosef resolves this stera by saying
l'chatchila, one can't lain from a pasul sefer, but if one has already
finished 5 aliyos, then you don't need to repeat them.  The Mishan
b'rura says that we try to be machmir and squeeze 7 aliyos from the
remaining pasukim.  The Rav said that if the bal habatim will stand for
is, that one should really start over.

R. Chaim wore t'filin on chol hamoed; R. Moshe did not.  The Rav asked
his father why.  R. Moshe said it is clear from the gemara.  R. Moshe
asked what does issur malacha have to do with hallel.  If a day has
kedushas hayom, it has a chiuv of simcha (hallel, basar v'yayin).  If
the kedushas hayom is enough to generate an issur malacha, then one
recites hallel -- Rosh Chodesh is not enough, but chol hamoed is.

What if a baal korei says "I will have kavanah to not be motzee person
X" -- doesn't matter, because laining is not based on shomea k'onei, it
is based on talmud torah b'rabbim.  Anyone who hears is yotzei.  Thus a
deaf boy can lain.  There was a long t'shuva from a dayan in Europe
about this question (the deaf boy laining); the Rav saw the question and
said "yes" based on the above before he read the rest of the t'shuva.
R. Moshe said you don't need a chiuv to be motzee others in talmud torah
-- thus a katan could get an alyia (explaination of a gemara in megila).

Kohanim who are mechalel shabbos b'farhesiya cannot do the avoda.  The
mishna brura says they cannot duchen either (mamnny others had this
psak).  The Rav said that R. Moshe, and others, poskined differently.
The proof is from a gemara in avoda zara, where a pasuk from malachim is
used to show that kelim used for avoda zara cannot be used in the avoda.
(sorry, I can't figure out my notes here, so I don't know what the proof
is).  The Rav encouraged all kohanim to duchen -- once in Maimonides, he
made the shul wait a moment while he explained to a kohain who had never
seen duchening before what it was about so that he could duchen as well.

A tosefta in shabbos lists those things that are chukos akum.  The Rav
held that chukos akum changes with the time, the essentail issur is in
adopting means of worshiping hakadosh barush hu from non-Jews.  The Rav
held that stained glass windows in shuls was chukos akum, as was mixed
seating.  That is why one cannot participate in davening in a shul with
mixed seating -- one is being oveir the issur d'oraisa of chukos
hagoyim.  (It is also prohibited to have a shul with separate seating
but nu mechitza, but for different reasons).

Early in his career, the Rav was the mashgiach for a slaughterhouse
which was not "glatt kosher."  He felt one was not responsible for
inspecting the lungs today.  Why?  The Rambam holds that inspecting the
lungs is essential because over 10% have adhesions.  In America, this is
not a problem -- far less than 10% have adhesions.  However, in America,
the calves frequently eat nails in their pens, which puncture their
stomachs.  This happens in more than 10% -- thus, one is required to
check the stomachs for small holes.  The Rav's slaughterhouse rejected
more treifus than the "glatt kosher" slaughterhouses for this reason --
yet people said that you couldn't trust his hashgacha because it wasn't
glatt.  Rav Schachter preceded this story by saying that the Rav always
said what was in the Shulchan aruch -- he just had chiddushim in p'shat.
R. Moshe Feinstein, in contrast, came up with real halachic chiddushim.

The Rav sometimes learned halachos from statements and actions of
gedolim.  Rav Chaim said, when the Rav was born, that "according to
minhag and halacha, the mother has the right to name the first child"
although the Rav did not know his source.

The is a macheloches tannaim if you need to close a sefer torah or not
before reciting birkas hatorah; the tzibbur might think that the brachos
are being read from the sefer torah.  The Shulchan aruch says it is a
mida chasidim to close the sefer.  The Rav saw gedolim in Europe who
opened the sefer, and he thought that this was preferable.  Why --
because p'sicha sefer torah is m'chaiv one in learning.  On leyl simchas
torah 00 in Germany, they used to open the sifrei torah; they then
started laining in order to fulfill the chiuv of learning after p'sicha
hasefer.  Thus, one shouldn't even let the baal korei open the sefer (or
one should close it and open it again oneself) -- one should do the
p'sicha to establish the chiuv of reading from the sefer.

Rav Chaim held that giving away a sefer torah was like turning down an
aliya (the gemara says such a person is cursed).  If someone asks for
it, that's fine.  But noone would ever come up to R. Chaim on simchas
torah to ask him for his sefer -- thus, he used to have to hold a sefer
for all the hakafos.

The Rav said "My grandfather was a very religious man and he used
teabags" on shabbos (not iroi kli sheini, however).

The m'chaber holds that one shouldn't wear t'filin during musaf.  The
Ashkenazim do not hold this way, but they are noheig not to wear also.
The Taz says that if you are running late and don't have time, then you
can go ahaid and daven while wearing t'filin.  The Rav held even further
-- if you don't have time to wrap up and put away your t'filin, then you
shouldn't take them off at all.  One must have kavod for t'filin, and
not leave them lying out.

The Ramchal's son wrote a sefer that begin's with "I have just gotten up
from my father's shiva, and I need to write a all of the Torah I heard
from him."  The manuscript is only 2 pages long.  Because that was all
the Torah?  No, something happened, he couldn't finish.  R. Schachter
said, we cannot let this happen to the Rav.

Eitan Fiorino


From: Irwin H. Haut <0005446733@...>
Date: Fri, 14 May 93 19:14:47 -0400
Subject: Yemai Zicharon of the Rav z"l

In the plethora of information regarding the writings of the Rav z"l one
minor error may have crept in. A comment was made, I think by Jeffrey
Woolf, in an otherwise good presentation, to the effect that the
writings in the sefer, yemai zicharon came from the Rav's tshuva
drashot. While this may be true as to most of the material in the sefer,
it is not as to the article on page 59, dealing with the Yosef-Yehuda
dichotomy, which formed the agadata portion of a yahrzeit shiur given by
the Rav in the 1950's, I do not remember the exact year.  I can still
remember the momemt when the Rav held us spellbound, describing how the
image of Jacob appeared to Joseph during the incident with Potifar's
wife. It is a beautiful shiiur and worthy of being studied. does anyone
else out there remember that shiiur?  
yitzchak haut


End of Volume 7 Issue 46