Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Political correctness & teaching halachic positions

Cross Currents 
Rav Yitzchok Adlerstein wrote:

There are people who believe that shaking hands with those of the opposite gender is not only assur, but yehareg v’al ya’avor. Teachers should not be muzzled into not relating this. At the same time, with what we know of what is going on in the minds of so many of our teens (and their parents!), a good teacher ought to be able to relate the difference between committing adultery and abizrayu of ervah. He/she ought to also explain that such a position is hardly unanimous: that frum, pious German Jews shook hands for hundreds of years; that some major figures in the previous generation held that it was mutar, at least in trying circumstances; that R. Chaim Berlin wrote a teshuvah explaining why it is mutar. The teacher ought to be able to adequately explain the position that he/she does not practice, even while promoting the other.

I wrote the following comment which has not been published yet over 12 hours ago even though 8 later comments have been approved.[update after 24 hours it was finally approved]
  
Daniel Eidensohn
 March 20, 2012 at 5:27 am
This is the view of the Chazon Ish. I don’t understand why you think a teacher needs to confuse young minds with the fact that many halachos are matters of dispute. Are you suggesting that a teacher leave it up to a student to decide? A teacher should be chosen to reflect the desired values and halachic positions of the community. Either they need a different teacher or they are in the wrong school.

78 comments :

  1. I don't think it is confusing students. Students learn about Beis Shammai, and Bais Hillel, Abaye and Rava, Mechaber and Rema, and about day to day disagreements in Halacha. What could be wrong with telling them that there is a machlokes lehalacha lema'aseh? Torah should be taught honestly.

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  2. Your view is completely nonsensical.

    The ultimate application of your logic would remove about 90% of the Talmud. According to you, we should only learn the Rif, and none of the Shaklah v'Taryah.

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  3. Rabbi Eidensohn,

    How is telling kids the fact, that many halachos are matters of dispute but our community does it this way, confusing the kid?

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  4. there is a clear difference between acknowledging that there are disputes in halacha and teaching that while the Chazon Ish says you need to die rather than shake hands is just one of a number of views. If the community in fact holds by the Chazon Ish's view - then teaching that this is just an extreme position - seriously weakens the perception of that view. So yes there are times when one teaches disputes such as Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel and we posken like Beis Hillel. There are other issues where the impact is serverely lessened by presenting it as a range of views. You might note the Rambam's commentary to Sanhedrin 7:4 where he notes that Chazal take extreme positions in sexual matters to ensure compliance or the Chasam Sofer's insistence that all halachos be labeled as Doreisso in order that they be obeyed.

    Bottom line there are halachos which need to be taught didactically at as certain age. Of course this doesn't mean all halachos. The example he gave of shaking hands is one of them.

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    1. I disagree. If the Chazon Ish is a Daas Yachid, then his view should be taught as such. It is unhealthy to teach children that there is only one way to behave and that they should literally die rather than behave differently. Have we learned nothing from the Etz Ha'Daas? Distorting the actual commandment (not to eat from the tree), is, according to one p'shat, what Adam did wrong.

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  5. The basic question (As I see it) is how the children are going to react when they see an ostensibly frum person shake hands with a woman. Are they supposed to consider him a 'shaigetz', or be made to know that he has whom to rely on?

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    1. I think that's a huge problem. Perhaps I am way off, but in my mind this idea creates a polarization between different groups of Jews. You see it with the "Tznius Police", a group of people that cannot understand that there is a difference in opinion with regards to Halachah. "My way or the highway" should not be a Jewish philosophy.

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    2. If you believe strongly in the correctness of your view and the incorrectness of opposing views - it is hard to find a way to avoid polarization. Your solution is to be be wishy washy in your beliefs?! You smile sweetly while someone is giving a get that you are convinced is posul and will result in mamzerim? You aren't bothered when someone permits fraud and theft according to your understanding? You bite your tongue when someone declares that according to their posek rapists and pedophiles can't be stopped by going to the police?

      The Yerushalmi states that Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel were ready to kill each other over their different understanding of halacha.

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    3. Your inferences are strange. I do not understand how you arrive at them.

      The Gemara also states that Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel would marry each other's daughters. It's perfectly acceptable to have an opinion in Halacha that differs from others, while still accommodating the opposing view. Or do you think that it's acceptable, Halachicly, to spit on young girls who are dressed Tzniusly, because they don't have the same standards as you? We aren't talking of Chilonim who dress in tank tops and shorts.

      There are many Rishonim and Acheronim, and many different views on different areas of Halacha. It is not proper to disdain and vilify those who follow more lenient paths. True, one should not hunt down the most lenient opinion on every Inyun and follow it. One has to have a Rav to whom he turns. But there is a trend to trivialize and denigrate both the lenient Psakim and those who espouse them. This is not Derech Eretz and this is not Torah. Or at least, it's not the Torah I was taught.

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    4. Your inferences are strange. I do not understand how you arrive at them.
      ============
      they are rather obvioius - don't know why you don't understand them.

      I wasn't talking about disdaining those who have other opinions. I was addressing how to get your students to accept and respect the community values when you tell them at the same time that they are extreme views or you trivialize them by saying that they are one of many alternatives.

      It is the standard experience of all parents when they say - you can't stay out or you can't have your own cell phone or you have to make your bed... and the response is "but everyone else...."

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    5. You are not being logical. I never implied that one should be "wishy-washy" with respect to Halacha. I ask that you quote the words that led you to this conclusion.

      What I did write is that teaching that there are multiple, conflicting opinions on a matter of Halacha is not wrong. I wrote that teaching that there is only one valid opinion *is* wrong. It leads to Sinas Chinum. It leads to the public humiliation and denigration of innocent girls. It leads to Chillul Hashem B'Rabim.

      When you read that the Aruch Hashulchan argues with the M"B, do you flip a coin to decide who is right? Do you change your mind based on which side of the bed you woke up on? Or maybe you ask your Rav what you should do? Why would you think that I do any different? Do you think that you're suddenly wishy-washy because you know that there's an argument?

      (I hope it's obvious that ofttimes there *is* only one valid Psak for a given Inyun. One shouldn't make up Halacha to suit one's self. We aren't Reform.)

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    6. You are really not paying attention to what I am saying. I did not say that we say this is the only view. A teacher will simply say, "This is the halacha". The degree to which multiple views are presented depends on the nature of the topic. To say that some people light chanukah candles in their window and others light it outside does not have the same consequences of saying that some permit shaking hands or that there are views that mixed singling is permissible.
      The issue of hand shaking is what Rabbi Adlerstein stated and it is what I responded to.

      I don't know why you have such difficulties in understanding that not everything can be taught at every age without serious consequences. You are so obsessed with the concern that if you teach that there is a right way to do things that somebody might become a bigot you don't accept that teaching muliple truths to the wrong audience is harmful

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    7. "I wasn't talking about disdaining those who have other opinions."

      But that's the crux of the problem, isn't it? It's one thing to teach, say, elementary school children that shaking hands with a member of the opposite gender is a "yehareg v'al ya'avor" with no discussion of alternate psakim. But if a student goes all the way through seminary/yeshiva and beyond without ever being taught by rebbeim they respect and "hold by" that other understandings of the halacha do in fact exist among other noted poskim, I would think that disdain for those who hold differently would be the inevitable result.

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    8. That seems to be a mutual problem :)

      I initially responded to someone who is concerned that not presenting the view will lead children to believe that other Jews are not Frum if they see them shaking hands with women. Are you trying to say that it's not a problem for children to think Orthodox Jews are not Frum?

      As you say, not everything can be taught without serious consequences. The poster to whom I replied, along with myself, are concerned for the consequences of *not* teaching opposing views.

      You have a view, and apparently I disagree. I look at what happens in Israel and I wonder whether the possible consequences are worth the actual consequences. The road to Hell, and all that.

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    9. "You are so obsessed with the concern that if you teach that there is a right way to do things that somebody might become a bigot you don't accept that teaching muliple truths to the wrong audience is harmful"

      ---

      I would like to add that, while I am not "obsessed", I am much more concerned with actual consequences than for the theoretical. I see what happens in B"S and on public buses and the like and I see that people have already turned into bigots. Today it's a handful. What will it be in 10 years? 50? 100?

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    10. The crux of the matter for you is intolerance for more lenient views. The point that I was making is that if you want to impress on your children your viewpoint - you can't start out by saying there is a diversity of opinion and I am picking the extreme view. So yes if people think that there leaders are the best or that there values are superior that others will not be treated with equal respect - but your approach leads to people saying "everything is a matter of dispute so whatever you do is fine."

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    11. A teacher will simply say, "This is the halacha".

      EXCEPT THAT IS INCORRECT, as a teacher for many years to various ages of children---difference in halacha should be discussed with maturity to high school aged children. "This is MY, THE SCHOOL, OUR KEHILLA, The MISHPACHAS, Rov POSKIM halacha is the accurate & honest statement. Whether it is machmir or makeill, it is the halacha and not the only halacha accepted.


      this approach leads to people saying "everything is a matter of dispute so whatever you do is fine."---Mature, thinking individuals DO NOT come to this conclusion at all,
      rather it is understood that TORAS HASHEM is a living, breathing and much discussed 'code of conduct'.

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  6. Recipients and PublicityMarch 20, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    "Daniel Eidensohn wrote...This is the view of the Chazon Ish. I don’t understand why you think a teacher needs to confuse young minds with the fact that many halachos are matters of dispute. Are you suggesting that a teacher leave it up to a student to decide? A teacher should be chosen to reflect the desired values and halachic positions of the community. Either they need a different teacher or they are in the wrong school."

    This is the "derech" of Modern Orthodox Jewish education, or the way of fudging that many kiruv lecturers adopt to defuse complex and threatening "un-modern" Torah views, and that is why many of them are confused. Many times, kiruv with secular adults and teaching MO kids cannot get past the first step unless the so-called "extremist" points of view of Judaism are brushed aside by surrounding them with all sorts of tangents, caveats, rival opinions, something Rabbi Adlerstein is a master of, based on decades of working in that field and with kind of clientele. Rabbi Adlerstein works within that framework, although he is not strictly MO himself, but he knows how to water down and adopt the soft-sell language that appeals to the most modern and secular. He is not writing to sway Charedi public opinion, for that there is the Yated and the Hamodia.

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    1. HUH, what are you talking about?

      Is it "watered down, soft -sell language" when I am somach on Rav SZ Aurebach and use electricity on shabbos instead of the posak of the Chazon Ish? or purchase and eat fruits that have the hechsher of Rav Ovadia Yosef on shmittah year? or ignoring the sefer of Rav Falk on tzinius since it is made up of Chumros?

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  7. > The Yerushalmi states that Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel were ready to kill each other over their different understanding of halacha

    Yet they intermarried with each other despite radical differences in opinion on certain marital situations.

    Rav E, despite my great respect for you and your obviously great Torah knowledge, I have to say that I think you've missed an important point here.
    It's one thing to teach a 7 year old "We don't shake hands with women, it's ossur!" It's quite another to tell that to a 15 year old.
    Yesh al mi lismoch. So according to your approach my view view creates mamzeirus? How dare you decide that my approach is wrong? What happened to 70 facets of Torah? Just an advertising point, not really what we believe? Can we not disagree without automatically assuming I must be wrong, or maybe you?
    Teaching a youth the position of the Chazon Ish but then noting that there are other opinions from other authorities and that not everybody holds like the Chazon Ish but as long as they have a behaviour rooted in halacha then they are acting properly albeit differently would diffuse a lot of the hatred in the frum world.

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    1. but they didn't marry women that they felt the other was mistaken about. As I said the Yerushalmi states a stronger version of this.

      You are conflating a number of points. I didn't say that your approach created mamzerus - I said that if I felt that your halachic approach to giving a get was wrong and that the get was invalid I couldn't sit quietly by while you gave out posul gittin which would produce mamzerim. This by the way is the issue with the Friedman get which we have been discussing.

      How dare I not declare that your approach is wrong if that is what I have concluded after careful research. 70 facets of Torah doesn't mean that I need to accept your interpretation as valid if I have decided it is not one of the 70. So while it is true that we can discuss issues without assuming the other is wrong - especially when it comes to Chinuch - there are issues that a community can feel strongly about and declare that the alternatives are wrong. Or can not mention for young students but gradually introduce for older ones.

      Even Rav Kook had his read lines - geirus was one of them.

      Yes so we come down to what the real issue. You say we need to act to diffuse the hatred in the frum world. An admirable view. But one that doesn't take precedent over my view of truth.

      As RaP has pointed out this is the real dividing line between the Modern Orthodox world and that of the Chareidim. Which is more important - Truth or Peace?

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    2. Last night I attended a beautiful chasunah of two Iranian mishpachos from Brooklyn. The chuppah incorporated Iranian minhagim and halachos, entirely different from any chasunah that I have ever attended. As I departed the hall, two young Bais Yaakov adults said, "I hope that they are really married, since I NEVER SAW, HEARD OF or EXPERIENCED such a weird chuppah -no kittel, no walking around 7 times, making a brocha on a talis, covering themselves with a talis, using a coin and a ring and singing the ketuba. WEIRD, not kedushim how we LEARNED IT".......

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  8. Rabbi E: Suppose the following (quite possible) scenario occurs. A child in this school reports back to his Rebbe that certain relatives of his shake hands with the opposite gender. How would like the teacher to respond to that?

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  9. what would happen if the child says his grandmother does not wear a sheitel and that his cousins are not shomer negiah when they go out with their girl friends who wear pants and worse?

    If the Rebbe feels that the child is attracted to these positions I assume he would come down hard against them.

    You might want to see how Rav Moshe Feinstein deals with the issue of handshaking in the Igros. He doesn't say there are legitimate views but he says it is assur and he doesn't know a basis of a heter.

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    1. Are you implying that Rav Moshe Feinsten zt'l knew of these (apparent) other opinions, yet said he didn't?

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    2. do you think that if I am aware of other opinions that Rav Moshe didn't?

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    3. I once worked for a Satmar guy and saw him shaking hands with a lady.

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    4. "do you think that if I am aware of other opinions that Rav Moshe didn't?"

      Have you ever heard of "crowd sourcing". You are saying Rav Moshe lied.

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  10. R'DE
    So if the child comes back to the rebbi and says, "I have relatives who do x and tell me their rabbinic authorities permit it, it's not possible is it that a real rabbi would allow something that I have to give my life up for, is it?" what is the suggested answer? ? Is it yes, no, or one of those with explanation?
    KT
    Joel Rich

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  11. Gemara Eruvin 13b states that one off the reasons why we follow Bais Hillel over Bais Shamai is because they quoted their opponent prior to their own opinion. It is quite logical to see that one's opinion is more widely accepted when he considers the positions of his opponents. This is a value that the Gemara taught us, but is a lost art today.

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    1. Do you have any understanding as to why that this "derech eretz" should be the deciding factor in determing halacha rather than whether the psak was true?

      Secondly who was the one who decided this rule.

      Thirdly you mistakenly understand this to mean that Beis Shammai didn't consider the position of Beis Hillel - that is simply absurd.

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    2. רש"י מסכת עירובין דף יג עמוד ב

      ושונין דבריהן ודברי בית שמאי - כשהיו בית שמאי מביאין ראיה לדבריהם מן התורה, ובית הלל מביאין ראיה ממקרא אחר, והיו בית הלל דורשין את המקרא של בית שמאי למה בא, ולא היה קל בעיניהם, כאותה ששנינו במסכת ברכות (י, ב): בית שמאי אומרים בערב כל אדם יטה ויקרא ובבקר יעמוד שנאמר בשכבך ובקומך, ובית הלל אומרים: כל אדם קורא כדרכו, שנאמר ובלכתך בדרך, אם כן למה נאמר בשכבך ובקומך - בשעה שדרך בני אדם שוכבין ובשעה שדרך בני אדם עומדין.

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    3. To answer your first question: Since they quoted the opposing view and truly examined their opponent's position, Bais Hillel's conclusion had more intellectual honesty. Additionally as the Gemara concludes, the position of Shammai was arrogant and unpleasant and the position of Hillel was humble and easy.

      Your second question: The consensus of how many were drawn to him as opposed to Shammai, or the conclusion of the Gemara, or majority rule. Does it really matter? Are you obfuscating on purpose just to avoid the obvious point ?

      Your third question: I'm not sure where you got that assumption from my words. I never said that Bais Shammai didn't consider the words of Bais Hillel.

      It is a straightforward Gemara and you are working hard to mangle it into something which is the opposite of its' obvious conclusion.

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    4. Don't understand where your assertion of Beis Hillel being more intellectually honest comes from. The gemora testifies that both approaches were true (see Maharal in Be'er HaGolah 1). Where does the gemora say that Shammai was arrogant and unpleasant? Chas v' shalom!

      Eiruvin (31a): R. Abba stated in the name of Samuel: For three years there was a dispute between Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel, the former asserting, ‘The halachah is in agreement with our views’ and the latter contending, ‘The halachah is in agreement with our views’. Then a bath kol22 issued announcing, ‘[The utterances of] both23 are the words of the living God, but the halachah is in agreement with the rulings of Beth Hillel’. Since, however, both are the words of the living God’ what was it that entitled Beth Hillel to have the halachah fixed in agreement with their rulings? Because they were kindly and modest, they studied their own rulings and those of Beth Shammai,24 and were even so25 [humble] as to mention the actions26 of Beth Shammai before theirs, (as may be seen from27 what we have learnt: If a man had his head and the greater part of his body within the sukkah28 but his table in the house,29 Beth Shammai ruled [that the booth was] invalid but Beth Hillel ruled that it was valid. Said Beth Hillel to Beth Shammai, ‘Did it not so happen that the elders of Beth Shammai30 and the elders of Beth Hillel went on a visit to R. Johanan b. Hahoranith and found him sitting with his head and greater part of his body within the sukkah while his table was in the house?’ Beth Shammai replied: From31 there proof [may be adduced for our view for] they indeed told him, ‘If you have always acted in this manner you have never fulfilled the commandment of sukkah’). This32 teaches you that him who humbles himself, the Holy One, blessed be He, raises up, and him who exalts himself, the Holy One, blessed be He, humbles; from him who seeks greatness, greatness flees, but him who flees from greatness, greatness follows; he who forces time33 is forced back by time34 but he who yields35 to time36 finds time standing at his side.37

      Shabbos (31a) states regarding the 3 candidates for conversion

       אמרו: קפדנותו של שמאי בקשה לטורדנו מן העולם, ענוותנותו של הלל קרבנו תחת כנפי השכינה

      Soncino translates this as:

      Some time later the three met in one place; said they, Shammai's impatience sought to drive us from the world, but Hillel's gentleness brought us under the wings of the Shechinah.21

      However Shammai is quoted in Avos (1:15)
      משנה מסכת אבות פרק א

      משנה טו
      והוי מקבל את כל האדם בסבר פנים יפות:
      AND RECEIVE ALL MEN WITH A PLEASANT COUNTENANCE.54

      Thus we see that Hillel was more patient and less makpid on following the rules - it doesn't make Shammai arrogant and unpleasant. It is clear that Hillel was willing to bend the rules and rely on his own judgment of human nature - while Shammai took people at their word - see Rashi (Shabbos 31a)


      You wrote:
      Your third question: I'm not sure where you got that assumption from my words. I never said that Bais Shammai didn't consider the words of Bais Hillel.
      "It is quite logical to see that one's opinion is more widely accepted when he considers the positions of his opponents. " And you said Since they quoted the opposing view and truly examined their opponent's position, Bais Hillel's conclusion had more intellectual honesty."

      Thus you are asserting that Beis Shammai didn't do this - those are your words - I am not twisting anything.

      You write:

      "It is a straightforward Gemara and you are working hard to mangle it into something which is the opposite of its' obvious conclusion."

      It is a straightfowrad gemara but it doesn't say what you claim its says.

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    5. You are conflating Hillel and Shammai with Beis Hillel and Beis Shammai.

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    6. Explain the following 3 points from Eruvin 13b:

      1- מפני מה זכו בית הלל לקבוע הלכה כמותן - מפני שנוחין ועלובין היו, ושונין דבריהן ודברי בית שמאי - which means that the reason that we follow Bais Hillel is because he studied his own opinion and the opinion of Bais Shammai

      According to this Gemara, what was Bais Shammai studying?

      2-ולא עוד אלא שמקדימין דברי בית שמאי לדבריהן which means that they gave precedence to the words of Bais Shammai, meaning they studied the views of their opponents

      According to this Gemara what was Bais Shammai doing? or what was the difference in the 2 schools ?

      3-ללמדך, שכל המשפיל עצמו הקדוש ברוך הוא מגביהו, וכל המגביה עצמו הקדוש ברוך הוא משפילו which means that we learn from the difference between Bais Shammai and Bais Hillel that Hashem raises up those who are humble, and lowers those who are arrogant.

      Who in this Gemara is humble, and who is arrogant?

      Your view is more in line with the view of Bais Shammai which was rejected centuries ago, but has made a strong comeback lately.

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    7. מפני מה זכו בית הלל לקבוע הלכה כמותן - מפני שנוחין ועלובין היו

      נוח
      according to Jastrow means 'pleasing, kind' (there are also other similar translations)

      עלוב
      according to Jastrow means 'humble' (there are also other similar translations)

      Please explain what characteristics Bais Hillel had which were lacking in Bais Shammai ?

      The answer to this question and the ones i asked in the last posting will explain exactly why we rule like Bais Hillel over Bais Shammai.

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    8. It is interesting to note that you claim to be an advocate of Bais Hillel and have characterized me and others in the Charedi world as beis Shammai - I don't see that you are in fact following the derech of Beis Hillel.

      The simple answer to your question is that Hillel bent the rules. He had no problem with deceiving people for what he felt was their own good. For example he accepted someone as a ger who wanted to be cohen gadol - while Shammai chased him away because he knew it was impossible to happen. Shammai was someone who was rigorously honest - he told you where he stood and what he thought - no manipulation.

      That is perhaps why the Arizal says we will posken like Shammai in Messianic times. Hillel derech of smiling when he didn't feel like it and saying things to manipulate - is not really in accord with din.

      It is also interesting to note that in fact Shammai was sharper intellectually and if it hadn't been for the bas kol apparently we would have followed Shammai. So while it was nice that Hillel presented the views of Shammai along with his own - Shammai was only interested in the truth. He viewed that in fact after going through all options that his view was the true one - so why should he teach a view that he felt was wrong.

      So the answer is that both of them were pleasant people. But Shammai did not suffer fools and he wasn't manipulative and he was only interested in the truth. For a person who was respectful he treated hhim with respect and pleasantness. Hillel's humility meant he didn't take a frontal attack on foolishness and he put up with a lot of nonsense. Thus we seem to have a choice between din and chesed. Both of them have their place.

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    9. I find it interesting that despite your reading of the situation and the Gemara's Psak that we follow Beis Hillel because of, or in your interpretation, despite their methods, you still believe that it's perfectly OK and even correct for us to throw it away and follow Beis Shammai's approach.

      And it's really annoying that you continue to conflate Hillel and Shammai with Beis Hillel and Beis Shammai.

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    10. I fully accept your explanation. I also agree that after Messiah we will follow a more pure and intellectual form of Judaism. But until that time the Gemara gives a firm stamp of approval to the view of BAIS Hillel (I didn't debate Hillel and Shammai as individuals) whose views we follow BECAUSE he studied the views that were unlike his own. You didn't explain why we should ignore a straightforward Gemara that advocates for studying all viewpoints in the course of learning. In fact the Gemara completely disparages the view you defend.

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    11. Not sure that the gemora is advocating anything - it explains why we posken like Beis Hillel - but it doesn't say "and therefore we emulate them in our Torah study". The gemora is full of statements where the opposing views are disparaged.
      This is true also in the words of the rishonim and achronim. So I don't see this being emulated or even advocated - do you have sources that state otherwise?

      You might want to look into the Maharal who argues that the debates between beis Hillel and beis Shammai were unique and they are the only ones we apply eliu v'eilu

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    12. I claim the Gemarah is advocating such an approach because it goes through the trouble of explaining why we follow one school over the other. Why state this if not to hold Beis Hillel up as an example of proper Middos and method in learning? It has no bearing on the practical Halachah that I know of.

      You seem to be arguing that Beis Hillel's approach is wrong. Even if the Gemarah is not actively promoting the approach, it certainly validates it!

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    13. So according to you the Gemara states that we follow BH BECAUSE they were :
      1-more patient and pleasant
      2-studied the viewpoint of their opponent and even quoted BS before their own view
      3-Hashem prefers the humble over the arrogant
      Yet you say that no conclusion should be drawn from that.....WOW.....there are no words.....

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    14. Meiri (Pesachim 66a): Whoever is appointed, as community leader should strive with all this strength to lead properly according to the position which has been given to him. If he is appointed to be the religious leader of his generation concerning Torah and divine issues, it is necessary that he be complete and erudite in all matters related to deciding halacha and that he knows how to reply to everyone who comes to challenge religion. However, if he recognizes in himself that he doesn’t have the abilities in these areas, it is praiseworthy that he should not be embarrassed to let go of his status and to give the position to one who is competent. … . However, even though a person is knowledgeable and can reply to every challenge, it is best not to rely entirely on logical proofs but rather on commonsense or tradition. That is because everything which is based simply on logical proofs provides an opening to refutation… Thus, the Yerushalmi says that even though Hillel spent the entire day providing logical derivations of the Halacha, his views were only accepted and he was appointed leader when he said that the Halacha was a tradition that he had learned from his teachers Shemaya and Avtalyon… Furthermore even though the leader is an expert and knows how to respond to all challenges and is accepted as the authority, he should not answer in a confrontational manner and act in a domineering way but should speak pleasantly and humbly. If he does act arrogantly, he will be punished and debased because of it.

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    15. I don't understand the relevance to this discussion.

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  12. I am curious to know in what context "Chasam Sofer's insistence that all halachos be labeled as Doreisso in order that they be obeyed." was written?
    Was it in halachic matters or in polemics against reform?

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    1. It was in a teshuva to his friend the Mahretz Chajes - also cited in the writing of the Maharetz Chajes. The Chasam Sofer said it should be done since the people (I assume Reform) don't accept the authority of rabbinic halacha so therefore everything should be described as being from the Torah.

      This is my translation in Daas Torah

      Chasam Sofer (Kovetz Teshuvos #58): I wrote to you previously that “Innovation is prohibited by the Torah.” [chadash assur] I did not write that Orlah or Kelayim…but innovation. That is because I understood from our Sages that it is required to be one who preserves the Torah. They warned against those who provide an opening and seek leniencies for the radicals of our people who desire them. If these radicals find a minute crack, they will greatly expand it into a breach…. Therefore, it is best to elevate and exaggerate the nature of the prohibition [and say that Rabbinic prohibitions are Torah prohibitions]… That is because due to our many sins there is a great increase today of people who say they have no concern with Rabbinic prohibitions since G d did not command them… We find the wicked writing on Shabbos because they claim it is only a Rabbinic prohibition. They have no concern with anything which has been commanded only by our Sages and not by G d Himself…
      ============
      Maharetz Chajes (Darchei Hora'ah #6): I disagree with the Chasam Sofer’s ruling that one should say that a Rabbinic prohibition is a Torah prohibition i.e., to upgrade the nature of prohibitions. Even though we see our Sages viewed it permitted to frighten with their descriptions of the seriousness of prohibitions as we see in the Rambam (Sanhedrin 7:4)…They said that certain things are equivalent to murder and worshipping idols. Many other things they have described as deserving of the death penalty. All this is only to frighten and scare. However to say that a Rabbinic prohibition is really a Torah prohibition - the Rambam (Hilchos Mamrim 2:9) clearly states that this itself violates the Torah prohibition of adding to the Torah. Such a practice also violates the Torah prohibition of lying - even if it is done for a good reason. Our Sages were always very concerned to identify and keep separate that which is from the Torah and which are Rabbinical legislation - even if there were no practical halacha involved.

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  13. I don't publish anonymous comments

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  14. R. Adlerstien's approach is part of what takes Modern Orthodoxy out of the Torah world. Like secular academics, they collect opinions and spread them out as if they all have equal weight, teaching generaitons of students that there is no proper direction and anything is OK, if they find someone to "rely" on. R. Adlerstein himself supported Slifkin's writings despite Rav Elyashev's psak that they are heresy because of this approach. Would Adlerstein say that when asked about Moshiach, a rebbe in Yeshiva should say that some people believe the Lubavitcher Rebbe is alive somewhere and he is Moshiach but our commuity chooses to believe differently? Or when asked if the Lubavithcer Rebbe is the Creator, the Rebbe should say some people hold like that but we choose to be strict and not follow them? When asked if Rav Kook was an Apikores, will he say "Our community chooses to hold he is not but there were Gedolim who said he was and those who chooses to hold like that have who to rely on, since there is a disagreement about this."

    Modern Orthodox Jew (and those iike R. Adlerstein who choose to follow their approach in this matter) allow for little or no freedon of choice in those hashkafic and halachic areas that they hold dear. They apply this freedom of choice with unmitigated bias in favor of their own hashkafa exclusively.

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  15. "A teacher should be chosen to reflect the desired values and halachic positions of the community."

    The prototype monolithic community is shrinking day by day. It may not even exist at all. Too much Internet and media. If we don't teach high school students different viewpoints, the rebbe may be perceived by some as a hypocrite. Others, the believers who accept the rebbe's Daas Torah, will come to hate those who don't. I wonder how Rav Moshe would rule today about mixed gender handshakes, or at least write about it.

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    1. Important point - actual a similar point was made by Rabbi Norman Lamm. In a homogeneous monolithic community teaching is different than one in which the student is exposed to a variety of views.

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  16. if the Hatam Sofer comments, as far as I recall, were in context of the reform who originally were scrapping rabbinical laws, then it is an interesting contrast with Rambam who argues that elevating a rabbinic law to d'Oraita status is transgressing "lo Tosifu". Rambam was no friend to the karaim, and he was a bitter antagonist of theirs, yet it appears he took great care to still distinguish between the Torah laws, and the rabbinic.

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    1. See my comment to your original question - the Maharetz Chajes takes your position - but the Chasam Sofer disagreed - The Ravaad seems to be consistent with the Chasam Sofer's view

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  17. Rav Kook and apikores? What filth is spoken by someone who claims to be haredi! RSZA ztl, and R' Elyashiv Shlita held that R' Kook was the gadol hador. The Chazon Ish would stand when R' Kook would give a shiur. Perhaps, Mr hareidi, you are of the same ilk who consider R' Elyashiv to also be an "apikores" since he served in the Rabbanut bet Din at some stage in his career!

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    1. Thank you for proving Hareidi's point. There were Gedolim who held he was an Apikores such as the Satmar Rav and Minchas Elazar and Gedolim that held he was a total Rasha, as Reb Elchonen Wasserman writes black on white. But when you teach about Rav kook in a MO school you would not say that there are those who say he was a rasha or apikores and they have what to rely on but we are lenient in this matter.

      MO is nothing but a double standard. they insist others should recognize them but about those issues that they feel strongly about they refer to other opinions as "FILTH" (that was a quote from you).

      Now you understand why MO is not recognized in the Yeshiva world. It is not a serious shita. It is just a community with arbitrary demands on others and random standards that move with the wind.

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    2. If you don't see the difference, it would go far in explaining the strange mind of the Charedi Jew.

      There is no obligation, under any sense of the word, to make known various opinions that might exist about a person. If one never learns that R' Kook is considered by some to be an Apikores, nothing is lost. No harm is done. It's just an opinion.

      However, when one chooses to obscure Halachah to the point that one begins to view other Jews as non-Frum, there is a very real problem. This is happening today, and it is horrible.

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  18. "As RaP has pointed out this is the real dividing line between the Modern Orthodox world and that of the Chareidim. Which is more important - Truth or Peace?"

    But one of the main dividing lines between MO and Charedim is the Charedi claim that it is heresy to believe what dozens of rishonism believed (that Chazal erred in scientific matters). How does that illustrate a devotion to (non-Orwellian) truth? There's much more than a truth/peace dichotomy going on.

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    1. Truth has two meanings - one is that it correlates to reality. The second one is that it is consistent with a higher value. Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky said if someone is being pursued by a murderer and seeks refuge in your house - when the murderer knocks on your door and asks whether his intended victim is there - what do you answer to be truthful?

      If you answer that he is in fact inside - that is objectively true - but not halachically true. However saying he is not there is also true - because that is what G-d wants you to say.

      Those who reject Rabbi Slikin hold either that objectively the error of Chazal is very limited and therefore it is more correct to say that they are infallible or that it is G-d's will that we perceive them as infallible.

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    2. Your question is a non-question. The answer is that you are not permitted to be truthful!

      I don't understand why one must twist the definition of truth in order to delude one's self into believing he never lies. Why not just acknowledge that Halachah sometimes requires one to lie?

      I also take exception to the idea that the Chachamim were infallible or that we should behave as we believe as such. We are not Catholics.

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    3. "Those who reject Rabbi Slikin hold either that objectively the error of Chazal is very limited and therefore it is more correct to say that they are infallible or that it is G-d's will that we perceive them as infallible."

      Thank you for the explanation. But have any of the statements banning Slifkin (or the general view that Chazal erred in science) acknowledged that many rishonim held that Chazal erred in science? You seem to imply that they have publicly acknowledged the views of these rishonim, but have they really done so?

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  19. Eddie... Rav alyashuv never called anyone gadol hador... Try and be honest.
    The CI soon became disilusioned from r kook...see the new book from b braun.

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  20. cK, I don't know who B.Braun is, and I'm not too interested in revisionist history. The question is whether R' Kook was a "heretic".

    here is another blog, with comments frommany great rabbis, including the Chofetz Chaim.

    http://www.ravaviner.com/2010/02/10-relationships-between-maran-ha-rav.html

    I would agree that the CI took a comletely different derech from the RAYEH, but they were both giants. In some areas I might be closer to the CI, since I am more misnagdic in my outlook.

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  21. This is the view of the Chazon Ish. I don’t understand why you think a teacher needs to confuse young minds with the fact that many halachos are matters of dispute. Are you suggesting that a teacher leave it up to a student to decide? A teacher should be chosen to reflect the desired values and halachic positions of the community.

    1. Your post begs the question as to what is the "community" and whehter the community takes one unified position. In some communities and on some issues, yes, but on many no.

    Would it be proper for a teacher to tell her students that "Gebrokts on Pesach is ossur, that is the accepted halakha, and anyone who does otherwise is a sheigetz?" In Kiryas Joel, maybe, but in Brooklyn or Jerusalem, definitely not.

    2. I don't think it necessarily "confuses young minds" to tell them there are other opinions, even if the accepted view in your community is one way. One can say, "In our community, men and women do not shake hands. That is the view of our rabbis." That is enough for a seven year old. For a teenager, one could add "There are other opinions God fearing Jews rely upon, but we don't accept them here."

    3. Even if the CI meant yehareig v'al yaavor literally (on which there is room to doubt), that is hardly halakha le maaseh. Not many onsim running around threatening death if you don't shake hands with the opposite sex. It is enough if you tell someone it is ossur. Yes, I know that gidrei arayos need to be strengthened, but so does gidrei sinas chinam.

    If you believe strongly in the correctness of your view and the incorrectness of opposing views - it is hard to find a way to avoid polarization.

    Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel managed. Notwithstanding your quote of the Yerushalmi, the BAVLI in Yevamos 13b states that although they had disputes, they did not refrain from marrying each other nor did they refrain from giving taharos to one another. Rashi there explains that when they married one another, they would each let the other no whether the shidduch was permitted acc. to his own opinion (e.g. someone who was a mamzer acc to one opinion and kosher acc. to the other). They also lent one another utensils, notwithstanding disputes in areas of tumah ve taharah.

    So one can have a difference in halakha and still respect one another. (Respect has to go both ways, of course.)

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  22. ""Cohen katanMar 21, 2012 11:33 AM
    Eddie... Rav alyashuv never called anyone gadol hador... Try and be honest.
    The CI soon became disilusioned from r kook...see the new book from b braun."

    Tziki Kederah- Why the new E-name? And who'd you pilfer Benny Brown's book from? (I hope you didn't steal it from Manny's! ;)

    I would comment on R Kook ZTVK"L further, but I don't want to go off- thread.

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  23. Rabbi E- You may as well post R Adlerstein's response to you on this blog as well.

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    1. didn't see any response - perhaps you will tell me what it is?

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    2. Here was R' Alderstein's response in brackets inserted immediately after your comment:

      [YA Perhaps that observation might have validity in Israel. (Frankly, with the estimate of 10000 off-the-derech kids in Yerushalayim alone, I doubt it.) Here in the US, the sheer diversity of backgrounds and questions that kids bring into the classroom today make your suggestion impossible to follow. We would need many, many more schools. In many communities, there are no options. It is one size fits all. In such places and is such times, I believe that it is unjustifiable to sacrifice a substantial minority for the sake of a majority that you hope you are protecting (which is happening imperfectly, if at all, anyway.) ]

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  24. Avi wrote:
    I claim the Gemarah is advocating such an approach because it goes through the trouble of explaining why we follow one school over the other. Why state this if not to hold Beis Hillel up as an example of proper Middos and method in learning? It has no bearing on the practical Halachah that I know of.
    ----------------
    The obvious answer to your question is that the isssue of Beis Shammai and beis Hillel is refering to prior to the deciding of the halacha. In such a case it is important to be aware of all sides. In fact the Ramban and others say that majority rule only applies when there is a gather of Sanhedrin/ rabbis and all views are presented and discussed.

    However the case of teaching is dealing with after the halacha has been decided and the school or community has picked a particular view. Teaching deals with people as recipients not as peers to the posek, teacher or community leader. In such a situation whether to present the diversity of views and how they should be presented - nothing can be learned from Beis Hillel.

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    1. The issue is that, in the case mentioned, the Halachah is far from decided. We aren't talking about whether electric lights may be turned on or off on Shabbos. On that, there is no argument amongst *any* branch of Orthodox Judaism.

      The issue here is that there are other Poskim who do not hold like the CI on this issue, and other, completely Frum Jews hold by these opinions. By presenting the CI's opinion as the only valid Psak, you are teaching children to look down upon other Jews and to consider them Avaryanim.

      The fact is, children, of the age to be taught such Halachos, are more than capable of understanding that there are differences of opinion and that their community follows a specific Psak. They see this with Minhagim all the time, and I've yet to see a child bewildered or confused.

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    2. Avi - Your question begins because you see all orthodox views as valid, or at least relevant.

      From this posting and from many other developments within the frum community it has become clear to me that our view may be tolerable within the 'Orthodox' world, but certain elements from within what used to be known as Orthodox are moving forward to create a new segment within Judaism. It is no longer acceptable to be only Orthodox.

      We may be witnessing a split between Orthodox and Haredi which as of today still overlaps quite a bit, but less and less as time passes.

      They are doing to Orthodox what Orthodox once did to Conservative.

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    3. I don't think your characterization is entirely accurate. Conservative Judaism was a break from Reform, wherein a large group felt that Reform was going too far. That is, they were attempting to move back closer to Orthodox Judaism, but never to become Orthodox. I don't think Orthodox "did" anything to Conservative.

      On the other hand, I completely agree with you that Charedim are moving further and further away from other Jews. They seem to me much like the Bnei Tzadok who apparently inhabited the Dead Sea caves (of Dead Scroll fame).

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  25. YA's response to you was added to your own comment. Here it is:

    [YA Peraps that observation might have validity in Israel. (Frankly, with the estimate of 10000 off-the-derech kids in Yerushalayim alone, I doubt it.) Here in the US, the sheer diversity of backgrounds and questions that kids bring into the classroom today make your suggestion impossible to follow. We would need many, many more schools. In many communities, there are no options. It is one size fits all. In such places and is such times, I believe that it is unjustifiable to sacrifice a substantial minority for the sake of a majority that you hope you are protecting (which is happening imperfectly, if at all, anyway.) ]

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  26. Thank you for proving Hareidi's point. There were Gedolim who held he was an Apikores such as the Satmar Rav and Minchas Elazar and Gedolim that held he was a total Rasha, as Reb Elchonen Wasserman writes black on white. But when you teach about Rav kook in a MO school you would not say that there are those who say he was a rasha or apikores and they have what to rely on but we are lenient in this matter."

    MO is nothing but a double standard. they insist others should recognize them but about those issues that they feel strongly about they refer to other opinions as "FILTH" (that was a quote from you)."

    Sorry, but there is quite a difference between recognizing someone strongly dissents from your view and yowling when someone calls R Kook something that Der Yid would call the Satmar brother they don't hold of. Furthermore, there's a difference when a Gadol disrespects another, and an anonymous "hareidi" creep does so. If I claimed that Rambam was Megaleh Panim B'torah, you'd rightly be angry. That didn't stop the Abarbanel from doing so in his intro to Trei Asar.

    "Now you understand why MO is not recognized in the Yeshiva world. It is not a serious shita. It is just a community with arbitrary demands on others and random standards that move with the wind."

    Now you understand why YU musmachim who know Shulchan Aruch with Nosei Ke'ilim doin't take half-wit charedi bloggers seriously.

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  27. Shaul Shapira -

    I accept your point. I was obviously aware of Satmar and Minchas Elazar. I wasn't aware of R' Wasserman's view on R' Kook.

    It is more interesting to me to discuss the reasons why. I personally do not agree with all of R' Kook's views, and some of them seem to me to be off the wall. But the question is why some hated him. As far as Satmar, its no big deal, they also hated everyone else, including themselves. The 3 oaths were elevated to Ikkarim, so anyone who does nto hold by them are apikorsim, according to satmar types. There is a problem, in that many super gedolim held they were no longer valid. R H' Vital for one! The Ohr Sameach another. So are they also apikorsim, according to satmar ?

    OK, let me ask you something:

    If I or someone who knows more, were to call the Satmarer a murderer, since he advised his Hassidim to die rather than save their lives, you would presumably call me/that filth? You might also say I "hate" Torah! (As if pointing out a Torah teaching is equivalent to hating it).

    Now, what heresy did Rav Kook commit? Did he deny the Torah?

    The idea that Zionism is idolatry is just an idea. And again, you have the problem of R' Auerbach, R'Elyashiv etc, who were followers of R' Kook. (R Elyashiv was also a follower of R Hertzog, who was more modern than R Kook). So you have a problem in that you are implying that the Haredi Posek Hador is a heretic, according to this extremist position.

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  28. "I accept your point. I was obviously aware of Satmar and Minchas Elazar. I wasn't aware of R' Wasserman's view on R' Kook."

    They're differnet reasons. The SR basically held that anyone who votes in an Israeli election is an comitting idolatry (assuming he meant what he writes in Vayoel Moshe). The Minchas Elazar held that the Aguda was worse than the zionists. (See his statements in Divrei Torah)

    R Elchonon writes in his letter that the reason R Kook's a Rasha is because he heard that R Kook supported Keren Hayesod. On that score R Eitam Henkin has an article in Ha'maayan proving that R Kook never did, (and ironically the Ohr Someach actually did!)

    It's worth noting that none of thse Gedolim actually ever met R Kook, and the Imrei Emes writes in his famous 'letter on the boat' that he was shocked to find that R Kook was actually a tzaddik when he met him, and that he'd been extecting to meet a reform rabbi based on thae anti-R Kook propaganda he'd read. (Not that the IE agreed with R Kook's shitos.)

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  29. Eddie... Regarding r c vital
    The shlah hakodesh , r yakov emdin , r yonasan eibasif, the toldot yakov yosef, rav shimshon r hirch, the yismach moshe, r yisroel mi sokalov , the rashab and many more all knew the r c vital and stiiL poskined the oaths are in effect...

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  30. Cohen katanMar 25, 2012 05:47 AM
    Eddie... Regarding r c vital
    The shlah hakodesh , r yakov emdin , r yonasan eibasif, the toldot yakov yosef, rav shimshon r hirch, the yismach moshe, r yisroel mi sokalov , the rashab and many more all knew the r c vital and stiiL poskined the oaths are in effect...


    Tziki Kederah- We've been down this road before. See R Gil's e-book "The Religious Zionism Debate". It's availible for free as part of Yashar Books' open acces project. You can also get R Aviner's Kuntres there so you don't have to rely on the Frumteens Shmaderator's version of reality.

    BTW Who's R Eibasif? And R Hirch?

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  31. R shapiro... I read r gil's drasha on zionism... Mosty an histoical background... That r lazer silver sat throgh a speach of the head reform rabbi is amazing proof of what zionism can corropt.
    2) רב שמשון רפאל הירש. רבי יונתן אייבשיץ
    3( i left out rav yoel kahn of chabad who found no dofi in the satmar rebbis sefer ... He disagrees for practical reasons עיין שם
    4( the first who braught rav ch vital regarding the 3 oaths was r tz kook ( correct me if wrong) and megilla showed how his logic works on a previos post.

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