Monday, September 12, 2011

Rav Moshe Feinstein vs.Satmar Rebbe regarding artificial insemination


First 40 minutes is about Chanukah. Discussion of Satmer starts at 40 minutes. Main discussion is at 60 minutes.


  1. RDE: Does this halachic machlokes between Gedolim have anything to do with the teshuva in Igros Moshe EH 2:1 (as you seemed to indicate in the previous thread/discussion)?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Sam said...

    RDE: Does this halachic machlokes between Gedolim have anything to do with the teshuva in Igros Moshe EH 2:1 (as you seemed to indicate in the previous thread/discussion)?
    It helps provide context. There is another recording

  4. RDE: Another recording of what?

    And what was the teshuva in 2:1 about?

  5. This is a well-known machlokes between Reb Moshe and Reb Yoel. It continues till this today...

  6. Sam the teshuva of 2:1 is a response to Satmar accusations which are mentioned in the teshuvos in the Dibros Moshe Kesubos

  7. RDE: What Satmar accusations? The shitta of the SR zt"l?

  8. no that Rav Moshe was destroying the kedusha of the Jewish people and as proof they mentioned that even the bishop agreed that artificial insemination was wrong

  9. Rav Yitchok Hutner zt"l had asked the Satmar Rebbe zt"l to write a teshuva disputing Rav Moshe zt"l's position on the minimum length of a mechitza in a shul.

  10. Reb Moshe was the Gadol Hador for am yisroel. It is evident and realistic that other rabbonim paskened differently for their kehillos (rav hutner &/or satmar rebbe)

  11. I have heard that the Satmar Rebbe also had a big time machloket with R' Aaron Kotler. I have not seen any detail of this. Does anyone know what it was about? All I have seen is that (as per the RDC attack on RJBS), the Hazon Ish who did recognize Medinat Yisrael and allow his followers to vote, as did R' Aaron.

    Incidentally, the previous Lubavitcher rebbe , R' Joseph Schneerson also attacked R' Aaron for saving Jews during the Holocaust. R' Aaron would collaborate with secular and reform, and even work on Shabbat in order to save lives. This , apparently, did not fit R' Schneerson's interpretation of Hilchot Shabbat.

  12. I like the version of the story Rav MD Tendler tells. According to him, the Satmar sent some of his biggest scholars to order Rav Moshe, zt"l, to retract his teshuva but under no circumstances were they to discuss it with him.
    The scholars, being intellectually honest, did get into a discussion with Rav Moshe and he was able to convince them of the validity of his position. When they reported back to the Satmar he went wild in frustration.

  13. Garnel: There's no truth to that version. The Satmar Rebbe and Rav Moshe were on quite good terms and there are many photos of them together amicably discussing issues.

  14. Eddie: Neither of those bubbe maises have any validity whatsoever. While the SR and RAK had different shittas on some issues, there were on terrific terms.

    BTW, the Satmar Rebbe had roughly the same position on the medina as the Brisker Rov did.

  15. MGI:

    The version I heard was the reverse. Some askanim told the Satmar Rebber that they wanted to go talk to R. Moshe and convince him to retract the teshuva. He asked them, "But after you are done pounding the table, he will want to talk in learning about the subject. What will you do then?"

  16. Recipients and PublicitySeptember 13, 2011 at 10:04 AM

    It's reported from a reliable source that the final split between Rav Hutner (long time Rosh Yeshiva at Chaim Berlin) and Rav Avigdor Miller who was the long time Mashgiach Ruchani at Chaim Berlin (hand picked by years earlier by Rav Hutner for the job) was precipitated by Rav Miller's open siding with the Satmar Rov over this issue.

    Once Rav Miller took this pro-Satmar Rov stand on artificial insemination that became known within Chaim Berlin, Rav Hutner instantaneously ousted Rav Miller once and for all. At that time Rav Hutner had the highest regard for Rav Moshe Feinstein as the posek hador and as the head of the American Aguda's Moetzes (an appointment made by Rav Aron Kotler before his passing.)

    The "damage control" line was that the Chaim Berlin yeshiva was in flux and moving from one neighborhood to another and Rav Miller chose to make the move with the yeshiva, but that was just for public consumption. Positions in yeshivas normally hold lifetime tenure.

    This was relayed by a reliable source who was there at the time.

    One interesting question is what is the "official" policy within the various Satmar communities TODAY on this question? Do they all abide by the original Satmar Rov's position or do they in effect follow Rav Moshe Feinstein's rulings in practice?

    Futhermore, do they or anyone still care about this almost academic debate when so many desperate childless couples will do almost anything for the wife to become pregnant even following Rav Moshe's ruling, or any Rov that they consult, that's a small price to pay in the tormented lives of the barren couples?

    1. That bubbe maaisa regarding Rav Miller and Rav Hutner has no bearing to the truth.

  17. Recipients and PublicitySeptember 13, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    typo: "and Rav Miller chose *NOT* to make the move with the yeshiva"

  18. RAP,

    While I don't have statistical information to back this up, but I surmise that R. Moshe's tshuva, which the Satmar rebbe was at great odds with, remains today more in the academic realm. The crux of the issue was if a married woman could undergo such a procedure; would this procedure destroy the integrity of her marriage, and would the resulting offspring carry the stigma of "mamzerus". I believe that medical expertise in the field has progressed very far, making it so that many more couples today can be helped to conceive using their own genetic material without having to resort to R. Moshe's heter of using a donor. These new techniques, with good success rates, have resulted in the fact that R. Moshe's heter generally remains a moot point in halachic debate.

    I would like to add, that in the event that circumstances dictate that R. Moshe's heter needs to be relied upon, I would like to raise an issue would prompt the need to revisit R. Moshe's heter. In his teshuva, R. Moshe raises an objection to using genetic material of a Yehudi, since this would create problems regarding possible incest when the resulting child seeks marriage. R. Moshe posits that practically speaking there is no need to be concerned for this, since the donors are probably not Yehudim, as no Yehudi would transgress the sins involved in "donating". However, I question if R. Moshe's premise still holds true today. My concern is that in light of today's shifting moral standards and low level of religious observance among the greater part of the Jewish people, there remains a dsitinct possibility that the donor in fact is a Yehudi. Is there is some way of verifying who the donor is or is not?

  19. Englishman:

    You seem to be in denial. I heard the story from Rosh Yeshiva of Ohr Sameach. He said that Satmar Rebbe used many insults on RAK, but at his funeral, RYT was weeping like a baby. Now, R' Schiller actually related this story as an eye witness, he saw RYT at RAK's funeral.

    As for the differences between RAK and the previous Lubavitcher rebbe, these are well known.

    This was over 50 years ago - hence anyone under 65 will not have first hand knowledge of the events.

  20. For some reason, I trust the Brisker Rov more than the Satmar version. Ironically, Brisk hold that it is forbidden to leave Eretz Yisroel (even if they equate Zionism to avodah zarah).
    Incidentally, if we were to go by everything the Brisker Rav said, we would have a slight problem, considering he stated that Heichal Shlomo (Chief rabbanut) was a temple of idol worship. Considering that the Haredi Posek HaDor was only 40 years ago a Dayan in that house of "idol worship", and claimed it was the beginning of the sanhedrin.

  21. Neturei Karta might be crazy but they can recognize that Turner is the better candidate for Israel.

    Meanwhile, Neturei Karta, a small group of dissident ultra-Orthodox Jews that opposes the existence of the State of Israel, has launched a radio ad on behalf of Turner’s opponent, Democrat David Weprin. They’re seizing the opportunity to attack pro-Israel members of both parties who are supporting Turner.

  22. Englishman,

    this quote from a very frum website:

    The mainstream of the Torah leadership did not subscribe to his approach toward dealing with the Israeli government. Even those most strongly opposed to the State's philosophy accepted its existence and, at worst, felt compelled to deal with it as they would with any government that ruled a land where Jews lived. At times they were deeply upset with his unyielding approach - such as Rabbi Aharon Kotler's vexation with the Rebbe for "publicly opposing the Chazon Ish, Reb Isser Zalman Meltzer, the Belzer Rebbe and the Tchebiner Rav - all of whom held that voting in Israeli national elections was an obligation on every Torah Jew who took the needs of the Yishuv to heart." Nonetheless, they were always aware of the Satmar position and often measured their stance against the extremes of the Satmar-Neturei Karta ideology. And even the most rabid, anti-religious secularist was aware of the "on the other hand," represented by this one man's uncompromising stance.

    Of course, as RAP says, there are damage limitation statements, so when you call a gadol a shaigetz all your life, then cry at his funeral, somehow you are exonerated.

    The issue was that Hazon Ish, and R' Isser Zalman (both much greater than the Satmar rebbe) said it is a mitzvah to vote in Zionist elections!

    There are many absurdities to the ideology of Satmar, as well as the rebbe's own life.

    He condemned his own flock to die in Hungary, rahter than to collaborate with apikorsim or to move to america. Yet he saved his own hide by collaborating with a secular zionist, and set up a new Satmar community in the USA.

  23. RaP:
    That story about Rav Miller and Rav Hutner is a bubbe maisa. Rav Hutner actually asked the Satmar Rebbe to write a teshuva disputing Rav Moshe's psak regarding the minimum legnth of a mechita in a shul.

  24. Even those most strongly opposed to the State's philosophy accepted its existence and, at worst, felt compelled to deal with it as they would with any government that ruled a land where Jews lived.

    Reminds me of a story, perhaps apocryphal. During one of the early elections, the Agudah put up signs stating that "It is a mitzvah to vote in the elections." Supposedly the Satmar Rov asked, "You mean it's a mitzvah like Matzoh?" To which the Gerrer Rebbe retorted, "No, it's a mitzvah like maror."

  25. BTW, the Satmar Rebbe had roughly the same position on the medina as the Brisker Rov did.

    I don't really think so. For one thing, the Briskers insisted on remaining in EY, which the Satmar don't.

    For another, while Brisk is certainly harshly anti-Zionist, I have never heard anyone ever quote the BR basing this on the 3 Shevuous, while that is the center-piece of the Satmar shitta.

    For a third, the Brisker Rov is quoted as explaining the miracles involved in the various wars of the State as "God can make miracles from snakes and scorpions if He wants," whereas the Satmar apparently hold this is kefirah and insist that the miracles were the work of the Sitrah Achrah.

    1. BenShar... 2 mistakes
      1) the brisker rav never said there was היסים
      2) the sarmar rav says in al haGuela that there was great sucess ( lashon of ramban) , not miricles of the sitra Ahara.

  26. Recipients and PublicitySeptember 13, 2011 at 7:26 PM

    "Ben Torah said...That story about Rav Miller and Rav Hutner is a bubbe maisa."

    RaP: Sorry, it comes from a very reliable source who is objective, was at Chaim Berlin in those days, with no axe to grind either way.

    "Rav Hutner actually asked the Satmar Rebbe to write a teshuva disputing Rav Moshe's psak regarding the minimum legnth of a mechita in a shul."

    RaP: So what does that have to do with anything? It is well know that Rav Hutner respected the Satmar Ruv immensely. As for mechitzas, Rav Hutner was famous for encouraging some of his talmidim to take jobs in Conservative temples in the olden days and NEGOTIATE with the congregation about installing mechitzas. There is no known shita among Chaim Berlin talmidim that Rav Hutner dsiputed Rav Moshe Feinstein on minimum heights for mechitzas. At any rate, this has nothing to do with the split between Rav Hutner and Rav Miller and the fact that Rav Hutner let Rav Miller go on account of this issue.

    Just saying the words "bubba maisa" doesn't mean you have proven anything. It only proves you are a great apologist and spinmeister without even knowing the facts and will attack anyone or anything that does not fit into your rigid indoctrinated party lines, like calling yourself a "Ben Torah" as if that means you are one.


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