Friday, September 9, 2011

Rabbi Rakeffet: Rav Hutner - Rabbi Dovid Cohen & Rabbi Hartman

http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/709746/Rabbi_Aaron_Rakeffet-Rothkoff/2001-09-03_Rabbi_Yitzhak_Hutner___3-Sept-01

This is a fascinating discussion of Rav Hutner and in particular the incident where Rav Dovid Cohen publicly embarrassed Rav Soloveitchik and was stopped by Rabbi Dovid Hartman The incident with the direct testimony of Rabbi Dovid Cohen starts at 17 minutes

Dr. Marc Shapiro notes
http://seforim.blogspot.com/2007/11/marc-b-shapiro-responses-to-comments.html note #25

For the haredi world, one of the Rav’s great errors was his description of the differences between the Chazon Ish and the Brisker Rav, as expressed in the eulogy he delivered for the latter. In this eulogy R. Dovid Cohen famously screamed his protest at what he thought was the disrespect shown to the Chazon Ish. The Rav’s wife yelled that he should be taken out, and none other than R. David Hartman physically forced Cohen out of the hall. A few weeks ago R. Rakefet faxed me some pages from a new book on the Brisker Rav. Lo and behold, this hagiography says exactly what the Rav said, to wit, the Chazon Ish was prepared to engage in some flattery vis-à-vis Ben Gurion for the sake of kelal Yisrael, but the Brisker Rav was such an ish emet that no matter how good the cause he couldn’t bring himself to do this.

20 comments :

  1. At 17 minutes it is discussing RJBS and the Brisker Rov, not RDC. ??

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  2. How does RDC currently bridge the divide between the right/yeshivish world and the left/MO world, as Rabbi Rakeffet says on the linked audio above.

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  3. Rabbi Rakeffet noted, in the YUTorah audio shiur above, that 40 years later R. Dovid Cohen is a prominent posek while Hartman became a kofer.

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  4. Rav Dovid Cohen is consistent leshitaso.

    Many years later, when I was a CIT or Jr Counselor in Camp Monk, RDC scheduled as a Shabbos afternoon entertainment a debate on the subject of attending college. I was selected on the "pro" side, as was the future R' David Fohrman, and RDC had his son fill out the third seat. (No one else wanted to take our side.)

    The debate went poorly. We argued ideas, the issues involved in going to college, the exposures of a college campus, etc... and they just listed names -- authority. They didn't give us any material to argue against.

    Afterwards, once R' Cohn left, they ganged up on us turning the debate into an outright argument. The head of learning programs at the camp said something to the tune of "Well, all the gedolim agree except one, and that one..." and then started belittling R' YB Soloveitchik.

    I tore into him, which got me in trouble in camp.

    Until I was approached by RDC and told him my side of the story. He said that since I was standing up for the kavod of my father's rebbe and my rabbeim's rebbe, I was in the right!

    So you see, kana'us for the kavod of the rav isn't just an idea Rabbi Cohen invoked /against/ RYBS. He did so when it was R' Soloveitchik whose kavod was besmirched, as well.

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  5. If I heard the audio correctly, am I correct in understanding this incident at YU with RDC and RYBS occurred in 1960, just before RDC got married?

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  6. Rav Rakeffet says, citing Mesilas Yeshurim, that a good Jew shrugs off embarrassment. I question whether Rav YB Soloveitchik, who I never saw, felt embarrassed when the young Rav Cohen started shouting. I'm guessing he was, first, startled, and then, take your pick, puzzled, amused, slightly irritated. I'd like to hear from any of the Rav's talmidim - like Rav Rakeffet, who may have asked the Rav, How did you feel being shouted at during the hesped.

    In any event, Rav Cohen gives a perfect and notably candid account of what transpired, from his end.

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  7. The Brisker Rav was niftar in 1959, so the story must have happened then.

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  8. Recipients and PublicitySeptember 12, 2011 at 11:20 AM

    What was RDC doing at YU in any case listening to Rav Soloveitchik when its known that Rav Hutenr did not allow his talmidim to go to such things? They had to sneak out of Cahim Berlin to go. It was not allowed by Rav Hutner even though Rav Hutner maintained the closest PERSONAL relationship with Rav Soloveitchik all his life.

    He appointed Rav Soloveitchik's younger brother Rav Aron Soloveitchik as Rosh Yeshiva in Chaim Berlin Yeshiva during the 1950s for a long time before Rav Aron Schechter took over that active role sometime in the mid 1960s.

    Rav Aron Soloveitchik was a talmid of Rav Hutner's in Warsaw when his and Rav JB Soloveitchik's father, Rav Moshe Soloveitchik went to America to be YU's rosh yeshiva, although the main rosh yeshiva and president was Rav Dov Revel at YU.

    And neither RDC nor Hartman come out looking good about this episode.

    Both RDC and Hartman have in common that they are geniuses that became disillusioned with Rav Hutner and each left Chaim Berlin under a cloud.

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  9. RaP: What "cloud"? RDC takes a more liberal approach vis-a-vis reporting abuse to the authorities (he allows and the right is upset with him) and woman's rights in get/divorce cases (the right disagrees with him too.)

    But he is still fully affiliated with Yeshiva Chaim Berlin and his shul is directly across the street from it.

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  10. I spent a few summers as a teenager, admittedly about 3 decades ago, summering in the same camp as RDC vacationed, and during the time we had gotten quite close. (Defining "quite close": Rn Leah Cohen recognized me just this past year and came over to say hello.)

    We didn't see eye-to-eye on many things.

    But he struck me as a rav with a real sense of searching for amito shel Torah, and really will just pasqen as he sees them. Figuring out how his pesaq aligns or doesn't align with norms in this camp or that is simply pointless.

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  11. Is RDC still alive? I understood he passed away a few years ago, but if I am mistaken, my apologies!

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  12. Eddie: RDC is a very common name, with many rabbis sharing that name. But THE RDC is B"H well.

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  13. Rav Hutenr did not allow his talmidim to go to such things

    Not so. All the yeshivaleit used to go to R' Soloveitchik's shiurim. They were very popular.

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  14. Recipients and PublicitySeptember 13, 2011 at 10:34 AM

    "Robert said...What "cloud"?"

    RaP: It is indeed a "cloud" because while RDC for many years had a seder in Chaim Berlin until at least the late 1960s (he is in his sevevties now), according to reliable sources there was a very real parting of the ways between Rav Hutner and RDC. What the nitty gritty issues were is kept quiet by both sides, but as a result, RDC permanently vacated his seat in Chaim Berlin for his daily learning never to return. To this day he learns privately at home and people pay to be his chavrusas. There were very cordial relations between RDC and Rav Hutner, and it was not an outright "banning" since he VERY RARELY pops in for a yom tov like simchas Torah for a minute or a hachnosas sefer Torah, but it was a very clear split. Those who know Rav Hutner, know that splits like this happened frequently in his relationships with close talmidim with varying consequences for the "banished" talmidim.

    "RDC takes a more liberal approach vis-a-vis reporting abuse to the authorities (he allows and the right is upset with him) and woman's rights in get/divorce cases (the right disagrees with him too.)"

    RaP: These modern day issues have basically nothing to with those times of the split between Rav Hutner and RDC about 40 years ago. First of all on reporting child abuse RDC is a complex figure. He has critics on the left and right. Some say he is part of the problem and covers up and others say that he goes too far in allowing reporting. Probably all the complaints are valid because they have been voiced and expressed by many over a long time. In get cases RDC is neither "left" nor "right" and he has de facto alliances with situations that Rav Aron Schechter has found himself in. You may be surprised to know that Rav Aron Schechter (Rav Hutner's successor at Chaim Berlin) who takes very relatively liberal positions on many issues, except when it involves matters relating to his own status of supreme leader of his disciples, then another layer of factors kicks in, as almost probably happened between RDC and Rav Hutner. But on ground level RDC and Rav Aron Schechter share similar positions more often than not. RDC is allowed to set foot into Chaim Berlin and he Chaim Berlin members do not boycott him at simchas and gatherings. RDC was the closest chavrusa of Rav Yonoson David the other rosh yeshiva of Chaim Berlin and Rav Hutner's son in law.

    "But he is still fully affiliated with Yeshiva Chaim Berlin"

    RaP: This is utter nonsense because RDC is his own man and not affiliated in any way with any yeshiva not even his alma mater Chaim Berlin. He has a mind of his own and would never dream of taking orders from anyone or being part of a party line as the word "affiliation" would imply.

    "and his shul is directly across the street from it."

    RaP: Nothing to do with anything. There was a vacant lot there. It's in the heart of Flatbush. He got money to build it from Pinky Green. And virtually none of his balebatim have anything to do with Chaim Berlin.

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  15. Recipients and PublicitySeptember 13, 2011 at 10:36 AM

    "kishke said...Rav Hutenr did not allow his talmidim to go to such things Not so. All the yeshivaleit used to go to R' Soloveitchik's shiurim. They were very popular."

    RaP: Not sure what planet you are on. It is PRECISELY BECAUSE Rav Soloveitchik's shiurim were not just great but brilliant that Rav Hutner kept a close watch and disapproved of his own talmidm going there.

    If anything in the old day's Rav Hutner tried hard to recruit some students AWAY from YU and would not allow them to re-visit.

    The "professional" rivalry (for lack of a better term) between Rav Hutner and Rav Soloveitchik was intense and gave no quarter. Even though they loved each other as PERSONAL friends.

    Rav Hutner did not want to lose students to YU and especially not to develop the independence of mind and acceptance of MODERNITY that was typical of Rav Soloveitchik because Rav Hutner had a different pedagogy and ultimate vision in mind, to create his own disciples molded by him without the intrusion of outside forces unless 100& approved by him.

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  16. There might have been disapproval for reasons of "professional rivalry," as you term it, but R' Hutner did not explicitly forbid his talmidim to go, and in fact many often went and did not take pains to hide the fact, as I know from speaking to several of RDC's generation, including RDC himself.

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  17. Recipients and PublicitySeptember 15, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    "kishke said...There might have been disapproval for reasons of "professional rivalry," as you term it,"

    RaP: Indeed. And there were other reasons that Rav Hutner had that he never revealed to his talmidim either but expected it to be either self-understood or following his guidance to stay away.

    "but R' Hutner did not explicitly forbid his talmidim to go,"

    RaP: Rav Hutner had a complicated relationship with all other gedolim Rav Soloveitchik included. He also had a complicated way of expressing himself and his true wishes. He had to be careful not to say things "explicitly" either for fear of igniting a storm or attracting criticisms because he was a famous and central figure in the yeshiva and Orthodox world when both he and Rav Soloveitchik were in their prime in those days of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. The last thing he would have wanted was an open war of words, that could have also cost him financially as many of his balebatim supported YU, TV, Mir, and any Torah and pro Israel causes that existed. Those were different days all around.

    "and in fact many often went"

    RaP: How "many" is "many"? Five? Ten? Fifteen? How "many" were in Chaim Berlin Yeshiva altogether at any one time? and how many were interested enough and had the lomdishe heads to go hear Rav Soloveitchik's powerful words and sit there for the three or so hours he spoke? Bottom line, very few must have gone and certainly not the "many" you seem to indicate.

    "and did not take pains to hide the fact,"

    RaP: If so, they became "marked men" and "tainted" in Rav Hutner's eyes and in the eyes of his other talmidim who had INTUITED that this was not what Rav Hutner wanted and that he looked askance at it. By the 1970s, 1980, 1990s until today YU, Rav JB Soloveitchik and even RDC are basically virtual "persona non grata" in CB and it's all traceable to Rav Hutner's views and actions to isolate them, hashkafically and literally, in the end.

    "as I know from speaking to several of RDC's generation, including RDC himself."

    RaP: And how many of those became close Rav Hutner disciples and stayed so forever? Even Rav Dovid Cohen became an atypical Chaim Berliner who did not follow Rav Hutner to the "gates of hell" as the expression goes. Think about it!

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  18. Recipients and Publicity:

    Just about every single comment and claim you made here, especially from your anonymous so-called "reliable sources", are entirely fictitious and do not contain even a shred of truth to them.

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  19. Recipients and PublicitySeptember 16, 2011 at 3:29 PM

    "Baruch Spielberg said...Just about every single comment and claim you made here, especially from your anonymous so-called "reliable sources", are entirely fictitious and do not contain even a shred of truth to them."

    RaP: Just more nonsense from the spinmeister who has nothing of his own to say except to attack another poster. How about you refute the points, point by point with some knowledge, logic an facts of your own?

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  20. If so, they became "marked men" and "tainted" in Rav Hutner's eyes and in the eyes of his other talmidim

    Nonsense. I once heard from R' Aharon Feldman about the time he went and what transpired afterward with R' Hutner. He was not a "marked man." Don't be melodramatic.

    How "many" is "many"? Five? Ten? Fifteen?

    Who cares? Point is, it was not uncommon, and not particularly frowned upon.

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