Sunday, May 6, 2012

Rav Schachter's occasional misspeaking

Jewish Week  Understanding the non-significance of Rav Schachter's baseball bat comment

Some Orthodox Jews were wondering this week what it would take for Rabbi Hershel Schachter, a prominent rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva University’s rabbinical school, to be relieved of his duties for making offensive statements — the latest of which has proved to be the most shocking of all.

At the same time defenders of the rabbi were questioning when the community would come to recognize the stature of the Talmudic scholar they revere and show more respect toward him.

The divide is not a new one in a Modern Orthodox community whose young men and women tend to show more obedience toward rabbinic sages and leaders than their parents do. And Rabbi Schachter has a history of making politically incorrect statements — but none as seemingly egregious as the one made last week to a group of students in Israel in which he appeared to advocate shooting the prime minister of Israel if the government “gives away Jerusalem.” [...]

31 comments :

  1. I'm sorry, but the problem here is with R' Berman, whom I greatly admire in general, and not with R' Shachter.

    R' Shachter should not apologise for letting Torah slip from his mouth, even if it is against the Gezerah of a secular Government (actually was peres government that instituted the law).

    Rambam clearly says that a rodef has his own life in his hands, and we are required by halacha to kill him. A rodef b'Yisrael is someone who is endangering Jewish lives. Giving land to Islamic terrorists, such as Hamas, PLO, Al Qaeda, Hziboola etc, who will bring their weapons to murder many Jews is mesira and redifa.
    Hence, if G-d forbid and Israeli PM would be stupid enough to surrender land to terrorists, he is a rodef.

    About 1 year ago, a story came out in Israel, by someone who served in the army under Moshe Dayan. Before the Yom Kippur war, he was given orders by Dayan, to remove mines from the border with Egypt, to allow Egypt to attack Israel more easily. This war was part of deal between 2 of the worst reshoim of the last generation, dayan and Kissinger, to appease the arab world. it cost 3000 Israeli lives. Incidentally, R' Goren fought with Dayn on several occasions and was jailed by Dayan a couple of times. Once Dayan wanted to remove Hashem's Name from K-E-l male Rachamim prayer for fallen soldiers, and another time when he handed back Temple mount to the waqf.

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  2. Rabbi Schachter apologized for his statements about assassinating the Prime Minister. But did he change his mind? And if he is a person who believes in such things, should he have such a position? And if he does not believe what he actually said, why did he say it?

    His statements about violence to solve the Agunah problem are of the same ilk. He said them, but he didn't just blurt out something once, he said these things over and over again in a 54 minute audio and a 49 minute video and I understand a third recorded item. Is it not obvious that he believes very much in violence as a solution? We have seen in our time idealistic frumeh people do violent things. Is this the kind of thing we tolerate in a person who heads a very high position in a prominent institution? He should be fired, for his own sake, as well as the institution, and for the sake of people who live in terror because of his unleashing ORA to who knows what degree of violence. Unless, of course, YU agrees with the assassin of Rabin, the Orthodox Jew who slaughtered Arabs in Hebrew until Rabin returned it to the Arabs, and others. I can't believe that it does.

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    1. Comprehension ZeroMay 6, 2012 at 3:41 PM

      Rabbi Schachter apologized for his statements about assassinating the Prime Minister. But did he change his mind?
      I think we have figured out why you hold the way you do on Agunot. YOU HAVE NO READING COMPREHENSION!!!

      “Statements I made informally have been publicly excerpted this week. I deeply regret such statements and apologize for them. They were uttered spontaneously, off the cuff, and were not meant seriously. And, they do not, God forbid, represent my views.Jewish law demands respect for representatives of the Jewish government and the state of Israel.

      So that would be a yes. He retracted the statements.

      He should be fired, for his own sake, as well as the institution, and for the sake of people who live in terror because of his unleashing ORA to who knows what degree of violence. Unless, of course, YU agrees with the assassin of Rabin, the Orthodox Jew who slaughtered Arabs in Hebrew until Rabin returned it to the Arabs, and others.

      While I am not sure how you slaughter someone in Hebrew. I do think your true colors are coming out. You simply want to denigrate everyone Modern Orthodox. You want Rabbi Schachter dismissed because he is Gadol on equal level with those you purport to follow. So you are willing to lie and distort his words to your ends. Despicable. It is people like you that cause so many to be turned off to Orthodoxy.

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    2. comprehensions zero - your name actually reflects the truth regarding yourself. If you read the article you would see it is people in the Modern Orthodox community such as Rabbi Berman who were quoted as strongly critical of Rabbi Schacter. So please cut out the nonsense. You think only Modern Orthodox rabbis can crticize Rav Schachter? The hatred of your words do in fact indicate there is a serious problem

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    3. Just because Rabbi Schachter apologized does not mean he really changed his mind, just that he was caught this time (who knows how many times he has called for violence against various people in which he was not caught), and may have apologized for expediency.

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    4. Quite honestly Rav Schachter didn't say anything I haven't previously heard from Rav Scheinberg or Rav Neventzal(especially when discussing the possibility of dividing Jerusalem).

      The only difference being that Rav Schachter(much like my own beloved Rav Ovadia) doesn't seem to realize that with the internet the world has changed and what one can say off recording in a B"M, once you add a tape recorder and a YouTube account into the mix can become an international incident.

      He issued a public clarification which ought to have been enough to satisfy most as to what he did and more importantly did not intend by his remarks.

      If you read the article you would see it is people in the Modern Orthodox community such as Rabbi Berman who were quoted as strongly critical of Rabbi Schacter... You think only Modern Orthodox rabbis can crticize Rav Schachter?

      I can speak for someone else's intent in their comment, but personally I do think there is a world of difference between YU colleagues(especially Rabbis) whose own reputations are negatively affected by Rav Schachter's remarks, and criticism from the outside, especially when the person giving it has already stated that YU is trying to invent a new Torah.

      Considering that four years on Rav Schachter is still very much in his job, it would appear the president, board governors, and other Roshei Yeshiva at YU didn't agree with either Rav Berman or Rav Dovid Eidensohn.

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    5. Just because Rabbi Schachter apologized does not mean he really changed his mind

      Unfortunately we do not have Navua today, so we cannot really know one way or the other. We simply have the mitzvah to Dan L'Kaf Zecut, which would mean taking Rav Schachter at his word.

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  3. Eddie,
    If you assume that whoever makes peace with Arabs and surrenders land is a RODEF and should be killed, would you personally kill someone? And if you say you would, why haven't you done it? You say that R Goren fought with Dayan over these matters. But did he kill him? Such an issue is extremely sensitive and affects the survival of every Jew in Israel. If we have people going around killing people, and inviting repercussions and who knows what else, how long will living in Israel be viable? I don't want my life hanging by the thread of people who claim to know the Torah and life better than everybody else. We live in the exile, and all of the fantasies of the "kill them" people are still just that.

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    1. R' Eidensohn,

      a couple of points.

      Rambam clearly states that we are permitted or obliged to kill a rodef. Did Rambam ever do this himself? I have no idea, but I assume not.

      As for making peace with the arabs, this was not achieved by the Rabin government, on the contrary, more Jews were killed after Oslo than in the preceding years.
      Let me put it another way. If you were to teach Hilchot Shabbat, you would be correct in saying that someone who transgresses is subject to death penalty, but this would not be carried out by a beth Din that you or any other Rav would sit on. However, it is still the Law.
      Now I agree that we should not go around shooting people we disagree with, even if we have a good halachic source. But discussing that Halacha cannot itself be wrong, as far as I understand it.

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    2. When Igal Amir killed Yitzhak rabin, he said he did it because he was a rodef.

      The problem with "rodef" is that no court needs to be convened to kill him, anyone can or should do it. It's akin to the fatwa against Salman Rushdie by Chomeini.

      Do we really want to go down this road? I don't think so.

      Same goes for beatings. We do not at all want to start bodily harm against anyone, for any reason. Even not to obtain a get.

      The mere fact that pressure and bodily harm could be necessary to obtain a get shows that something is wrong in the system and that the problem should be adressed. Not the way Dovid Eidensohn does it (by denying the existence of the problem, althouth it is manifest) and not by beating up get-refusers.

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    3. Batmelech since you apparently seem to think you are one of the few people around who is objective - which I acknowledge is definitely possible - what is your plan which solves the problem without destroying the system. How do your preserve a tradition based society which has a reliance on Talmudic precedent and yet stop the suffering of both men and women in unhappy marriages. How do you promote a stable society which is best for raising children and yet be governed by transparent rules which are open to interpretation and yet there is no official authoritative reading or even a supreme court that can decide?

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    4. Well:
      1) The discussion I followed here and specially r. dovid Eidensohn's comments convinced me, that, on a personal level, it is best to avoid jewish marriage (as a woman) so as to avoid the problems discussed. (A marriage with a non-jew is deemed invalid, and so get-problems will not arise).

      2) once this solution was missed (i.e. the person is in a jewish marriage and wants out), I think the best solution is to ignore the beith din, go to secular court, have the divorce, and afterwards apply for a get.

      If the get is not forthcoming, I see three solution

      a) send an attractive, unmarried woman to seduce husband and trick him into giving get for selfish reasons

      b) remain alone (which could be an alternative)

      c) ignore the fact that the get was not given and move on with one's life.
      I came to the conclusion that it is better to start a new relationship without a get than to have the ex-husband beaten up or sent to prison for not giving a get.

      Interestingly enough, this is the scenario where the rabbis will then take coercive measure to ensure that the get is given.

      3) As a matter of principle, I do not think it is possible to promote the stability of marriage exclusively on the expense of one side. If a woman thinks it is unbearable to stay with her husband, she has a reason, and the train of stability left the station when her husband started to disgust her, not once she is disgusted and wants a get.

      I understood that one of the poskim clearly stated that "since she is not his slave, we do not oblige her to return". This is a basic human right, in my view, and any law or authority negating this principle is immoral, as far as I can tell.

      So if some ashkenasi splinter-groups really want to rely on opinions that force wives to stay with their husbands against their wills, they transform judaism into an immoral religion, in my view.

      To promote the stability of marriage, it is important to promote shalom bait in true sense of the term. It cannot be done just by allowing one spouse to step on the other.

      And the discurse about what is deemed a "moredet" by some ashkenasy rabbanim really alerted me.

      No, this is not the way to go.

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    5. I think the definition of "Rodef" is an interesting question in philosophy of law.

      I understood that a rodef is someone holding a gun on someone, in the moment where he is prepairing to shoot. i.e. a situation where the person IS ABOUT to kill someone. If, at that moment, it is only possible to stop him by killing him, it is a mitzwa to stop him. In the moment he loses his gun (or you find out it's a fake gun or not charged or not in working order), he stops being a rodef and it would be murder to kill him.

      If someone pours poison into drinking water and people die as a result of it, once he has poured his poison, he is not a rodef any more, even though it is still lethal to drink the water. So he would have to be brought to court and tried as a murder, but "rodef" would not apply to him. Even if you fear he might do it again, I suppose that "rodef" would only apply in the precise moment where he carries the poison to the well.

      therefore, categorising people as "rodef" because of their political views is completely over the top. If you follow that logic, everyone is hefker to be killed, and society can not work with such huge loopholes in their laws.

      By the way: it is also wrong to put pedophiles in the category of "rodef" in that sense. Someone who can do harm is not automatically a rodef and therefore is not automatically free to be killed. There must be other solutions to address the problem (like putting someone away because he is potentially harmfull).

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    6. This is a classic example of a little knowledge being dangerous.

      First of all rodef is not automatically killed. A rodef can only be stopped from doing a dangerous or sinful activity - in the minimal manner necessary.

      A rodef is someone who is a present threat. Technically it applies to someone who is trying to do a sin which is liable by capital punishment or kares - but there are other restrictions. there is a question Sanhedrin 73a whether the main concern is saving the victim or stopping the rodef from sinning

      A person who is a threat to life is clearly a rodef - even if that is not their intention. For example an unborn baby causing life threatening medical condition to its mother is a rodef and can be killed to save the mother's life. However once the head comes out then it can't killed be because in essence the mother is endanger its life also.

      Rodef is only allowed to be stopped by the minimal action . Thus you can't use a shot gun if it would have been sufficed to sound an alarm or yell at the person to stop.

      While it is technically true that once the threat is removed or the sin has been done - the person is not a rodef and standard legal means must be utilized. However there is another factor that must be dealt with. What do you do with someone who has repeated molested? Or someone who repeated drives a car in a dangerous matter. Then the person has a chazaka and is treated as a rodef and can be stopped from future actions in the appropriate way. In short there is a permanent status of rodef for repeat offenders or even repeat attempts to offend.

      There is also the category of sofek rodef which is treated as a rodef. So even if you don't know for sure that the person with a gun is going to kill or you don't know if the gun is real - he can be killed to protect a person who is being threatened.

      There is obviously much more - I bring the sources in Child and Domestic Abuse Vol II

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    7. "Rodef" is someone who is chasing someone. But I was referring to "din rodef" that allows to kill a rodef.

      My point is: the licence to kill applies only to very limited, restricted circumstances. And it is dangerous to extend the license to kill, because this could make the whole judicial system obsolete.

      Furthermore, there seems to be quite some confusion in the vocabulary, since the murderer of Yitzhak Rabin invoked din rodef to justify his act.


      So thank you for pointing out that the licence to kill, applies only when there is no other means to stop him.

      But don't use "rodef" in a sense that will create confusion.

      e.g

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    8. "So even if you don't know for sure that the person with a gun is going to kill or you don't know if the gun is real - he can be killed to protect a person who is being threatened."

      My point is: the scope of din rodef is very limited and it is harmfull for society to extend it.

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    9. "In short there is a permanent status of rodef for repeat offenders or even repeat attempts to offend."

      So we have a mitzwa to kill him, like the moslmes had a mitzwa to kill Rushdie????

      Be carefull with how you use your words!

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    10. Batmelech you have a reading problem - that is not what I said. I in fact said the opposite. A rodef can be stopped from harming without going to court. The way to stop him is the minimal amount necessary. Killing is the maximum!

      Please be careful with what you say and even more careful to check that your pronouncements are related to what is written.

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    11. Batmelech you are creating problems that don't exist - a rodef has the status (din) of rodef. If that gets you confused then please stop make speeches about the subject until you figure out what is going on. Rodef is an extra legal status. You don't need a psak to decide someone is a rodef.

      the bottom line - one is allowed to self protection and to protect others.

      The issue is when people declare that someone is a rodef i.e., a threat to life because of what they say. That is a judgment call and probably in most cases it is incorrect.

      If a person declares another a rodef and he is not life threatening - he does not acquire a right to kill because of this label. Similarly if a person says his enemy is a rodef and kills him - even if his enemy threatened his life - if he could have stopped the harm without killing he is a murderer.
      And surely when the other person is not life threatening.

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  4. Garnel IronheartMay 6, 2012 at 8:34 AM

    Um, this article is from 2008. Why are you exhuming it now?

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    1. In the discussion of Aguna and Rav Schachter's support for ORA his tapes were reviewed and he discusses in the context of a stubborn husband the issue of BK 28 where a person takes the law into his own hands- even using a baseball bat to get someone to do the right thing.

      There has been criticism of publicly mentioning the possiblity of physical violence against husbands in a public forum.

      I just wanted to show that this is not unusual and that it is more a misspeaking - and insensitivity to how the commment might be perceived rather than an intent that goon squads be formed to beat stubborn husband.

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    2. Yeah I don't think your brother caught on to your point.

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  5. Rav Schach and many other gedolim support giving up land for peace. So, clearly, the idea of land for peace can be possible.

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  6. where is my posting on extraditing schachter to face charges of criminal incitement to murder?

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    1. Stan,

      It probably didn't make it through for two reasons:

      1) It was filled with your typical nevel pe
      2) This article is 4yrs old, and Rav Schachter has returned to Israel several times since then(and the govt has not pressed criminal charges).

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  7. so just to understand, crimes that are 4 years old are fine. just like it was emphasized that the siruv against him was also "old" but the filth written against rav abraham which was nivul pe but you had no problem with that.

    i cannot trash schachter any more than he has trashed himself by his actions and pronouncements.

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    1. What crime? The govt didn't see fit to press charges. To call him a criminal is libel and motzei shem ra.

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    2. Stanley,

      your double standards become apparent here, if we look at your past statements:

      1) R' Ovadia has blood on his hands for supporting Oslo., But..

      2) R' Shach zt'l who for most of his career as gadol hador supported land (to PLO) for "peace" (terror) was the infallible leader of Haredism.

      3) R# Shachter is a criminal for opposing the Oslo process, since he jokes about killing a PM (rodef) who you accept has blood on his hands.


      Anyone who supports your view on gittin is right, and those who dont, are criminals, even though teh same crimes are committed by others who support your views.

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  8. Eddie,
    You write, "Now I agree that we should not go around shooting people we disagree with, even if we have a good halachic source. But discussing that Halacha cannot itself be wrong, as far as I understand it." Two corrections. One, if the halacha tells us to kill, such as when someone tries to kill us, we should obey the halacha. And second of all, the issue over here is that Rabbi Schachter and ORA are fomenting hate and demonizing husbands. The wife is always the helpless heroine and the husband is always the vicious dog. This kind of hate has its impact. Husbands are beaten and ORA is making terrible pressure of the sort that can trigger physical illness especially in people with medical conditions. ORA is playing with death, and just wait, I hope I am wrong. But if you spend huge amounts of money and time on making people hate a certain victim, no good will come of it. And guess what, I still didn't hear any apology. What is he waiting for? I spoke to very prominent people in the MO world, and they were very upset with what he said.

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  9. Rabbi Dovid EidensohnMay 9, 2012 at 9:30 AM

    Eddie,
    You write, "Rambam clearly states that we are permitted or obliged to kill a rodef. Did Rambam ever do this himself?" The Rambam never apologized for writing that law and never said he didn't mean it. On the other hand, Rabbi Schachter clearly apologized in the most profuse terms that what he said was completely wrong. And now, guess what, he opens his mouth again, and I wonder, will he apologize this time? And if he does, who will believe him? He is the Rosh Yeshiva of young men, and they are very impressionable. The man is doing dangerous things, and if anything happens, I will not be his only critic.

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    1. On the other hand, Rabbi Schachter clearly apologized in the most profuse terms that what he said was completely wrong.

      But just a second ago you said he didn't apologize?!?! You can't have it both ways.

      And now, guess what, he opens his mouth again, and I wonder, will he apologize this time?

      What do you mean again? This if four years old, as is his other misspeak about beating husbands. He apologized and retracted four years ago. Where is this opening his mouth again?

      You want to make the claim that Rav Shachter actively advocates for violence that is against Torah. If this is the case you shouldn't need to necromance something he said four years ago.

      He is the Rosh Yeshiva of young men, and they are very impressionable.
      Yet he has said nothing that I haven't hear from the lips of Hareidi Rabbanim and Roshei Yeshiva. Unlike you I have no need to be nebulous in my statements those who said these things were:
      Rav Sheinberg Z"L
      Rav Nebenztal Shlita
      Rav Moshe Herson Shlita
      Rav Mordechai Goldshtein Shlita
      Rav Shimon Green Shlita

      Now it is possible that all of these Rabbanim are irresponsible and negatively influencing the youths to whom they speak, or it is entirely possible that this is just the way of discourse within the beis midrash.
      Rav Zehavi Green Shlita

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