Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Obama, the New Chareidim and a world without "Daas Torah"

I just was in the area of the King David Hotel where Obama will be staying tomorrow. I was surprised how Israel is genuinely excited and curious regarding Obama's trip. This cautious optimism tinged with uncertainty and curiosity is a microcosm of what is going on in Israeli society now in all areas.

With the passing of Rav Eliashiv - there really is no more "Daas Torah" - even as a formality. There is a growing number of New Chareidim who are officially considered part of the Chareidi world - but who are looked at with grave fear from the mainstream. They work, read Mishpacha magazine and yet are committed to the values of the Yeshiva World. My niece who attends a Chareidi seminary for American girls here in Jerusalem -  was recently told in all seriousness by a teacher that the New Chareidim constitute a serious threat to the Chareidi way of life and authority. My niece wasn't sure what New Chareidim are and why they are so dangerous - as she leads a very sheltered chareidi life - typical of many American chareidim.  She couldn't understand why Israeli chareidim are so afraid of a way of life which is typical in America.

With the exclusion of the Charedim from government - there is no more "protexia".  There is a growing concern about young men being drafted into the army - or at least being threatened with that possibility -  as well as concerns for where the money to continue the Chareidi lifestye is coming from. There is a palpable fear that Lapid is looking to destroy Torah institutions - but also a clear awareness that the realities of Israel politics might result  in him be a very positive and constructive force for the Chareidim. There is no question that the old model for existence is increasing impossible as the Chareidi population balloons. What was good for a small minority 50 years ago - can no longer provide a viable structure for what we have today. But the so-called leaders are not providing an alternative - but are themselves waiting to see what develops.

Obama really doesn't have an agenda  anymore. Without a peace plan or a possibility of one with the Palestinian camp, he is coming to explore what the relationship with Israel will be. It definitely will be one which both sides join to fight against terrorism and Iran. But neither side knows what the relationship will look like in the near future or even can imagine what it should be.

Netanyahu has formed a government of his nightmares - but realistically it might be the best thing that has happened to him - and Israel. There is great possibility for change - both good and bad - that didn't exist even a month ago.

Thus Israeli and in particular the Chareidi society is facing a New World - without a road map or even clear leadership. In essence the whole society has been thrown up into the air and no one really knows what it will look like or even what it could look like in the near future of several months - as it comes down to earth. There is no question that G-d runs the world - but we would be happier to have some idea of what this world will look like by Rosh HaShanna of this year.

39 comments:

  1. Could you define New Chareidim? It is a term that I have not heard before.

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    1. Rav Tzadok

      Here is an article by Rav Slifkin on the subject:
      http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2012/06/new-charedim.html

      And here is an opinion piece attacking him for his stand:
      http://www.chareidi.org/archives5772/vayishlach/VYS72aslifkin.htm

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  2. I think it was on your blog years ago I first saw the famous statement by Rav Shach, z"l, about how Chareidim in Israel are true Zionists because they pull off shtick against the secular population that American Chareidim would never dare to do in New York for fear of repercussions.
    Israeli Chareidism has been built on a model of essentially free money, something that the American version didn't have access to. In America many Chareidim had to work and full time kollel for everyone as a default with villification of working was never an option because all the yeshivos would then close. In Israel all those things were possible - you could build a culture where you hated the very hand that fed you and not consider it a s'tirah.
    Thus the Blue Chareidim are a very needed step forward in the coming transition. There is no contradiction between being Chareidi and being a loyal, producive member of the society you live in except for those who put such a contradiction into the definition of Chareidism in the first place. But that's an innovation. How did that happen?

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  3. This is an interesting article, and to me the issue of Daat Torah and hareidi leadership is more interesting that politics of mid-east.
    First, I don't accept that Daas Torah has been lost with the petirah of R' Elyashiv zt'l.
    This is presuming that such a thing ever existed. But it has not been lost. When RMF passed away, we mourned that we have no more Gedolim, and nobody to replace him. When R' Shach passed on, we were told there is nobody else of his stature and his generation.
    But each leader has had a different view of the world. R Shach was not the same as Rav Moshe, nor was he as inclusive of all othodoxy as was R Moshe.
    So perhaps the structure, and stature of Litvish leaders has changed, but this is a good thing. In previous generations there were gedolim in many parts of the world. Even for those like myself who hold very much like the Rambam, he was not the single Gadol HaDor, but had very great peers such as the Raavad, who provided alternate systems of thought and halacha. This is what has been missing in orthodoxy for the last 30 years. And hopefully we will not go back to a single appointed leader whose views overrule everyone.

    As for the new Hareidim, the hareidi idea is itself a new one, perhaps created after WW2.
    In previous generations there were differences in halacha, in method, in secular studies, and many leaders would accept knowledge from any source, if it was true knowledge.

    As I have said before, Haredim were drafted into the Czar's army and served for 10 -25 years. Worst case is that they do a year or 2 in a Glatt Kosher environment, basically a Haredi hesder. The figure of 1800 given by Lapid is insane. there should be no limit to how many students can study Torah. As Rav Riskin once said, R' Akiva had the first hesder yeshiva, when he backed Bar Kochva.

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    1. Regarding Daas Torah I agreed with you and just put the term in in the title.

      My point is even those who believe in the new understanding of Daas Torah have a problem today. Regarding Rav Moshe Feinstein - Rav Dovid Feinstein said he never heard his fath.er justify a psak on the basis that he had Daas Torah but rather it was the quality of sevora - as he wrote in the introduction of Igros Moshe

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    2. Perhaps that's why RMF and RSZA were more universally accepted and appreciated. One got a teshuva and the reasoning behind it instead of a decree and a "How dare you ask for reasons! Don't you have enumas chachamim?!" Which is the definition of Daas Torah today, come to think of it.

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  4. Our parents insisted that yirei shamayim have no place participating in the Zionist gov't.

    Perhaps the world is one giant step closer to the Ultimate Redemption.

    Hag Kasher v'Sameah.

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    1. It all depends on who "our parents" are...

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    2. I agree to a certain extent. When I was in Merkaz Harav for a visit, I mentioned that I'm glad I'm an Agudist and neither a Kooknik nor Eidah/Satmar. My newfound friend replied "Halevai you would be one or the other; they an ideology, we have an idoeology- but you guys have nothing!
      I obviosly disagreed with him, but in a sense he's right- you have people who are vehemently against the state on one hand taking money from it on the other {1}. I can justify it, but it is a bit of a connunudrum.


      {1} I'm over simplifying a bit. See here pt 7:

      http://www.scribd.com/doc/2896972/Religious-Zionism-Debate

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  5. This is much I agree with in this post. I too believe that this new Government is a blessing is disguise for the "Chareidi" community. You mention that since the passing of Rav Elyashiv ZT"L there is no more "Daas Torah". I'm not sure I agree with that statement as this modern day concept of "Daas Torah" is an Israeli invention of the past 30 or 40 years. This term did not exist when I was learning in Yeshiva, and the concept that there was "one" Gadol who defined Hashkafa for all of Kllal Yisrael didn't exist either. Communities had their Rabbanim and Gedolim (BTW, for the most part, not Roshei Yeshiva) who assisted in providing Hardracha for that community. There where those who made Toroso Umnaso, they had they Rabbanim and it was right for "them". There were others who were brought up on Torah Im Derech Eretz, they had their Rabbanim and it was right for them. There were others who has somewhat of a hybrid approach, they had their Rabbanim and it was right for them.

    The problems started when the Israeli Chareidim instituted the concept of one point of view for all of "Chareidim" (by the way also a term that didn't exist before) with one Derech for everyone. This was never viable, isn't viable, and could never be viable.

    I believe that this new Government will force an internal reevaluation of how we got to this point and how we need to fix it. Instead of UTJ leaders whining about being left our of the Government (a ploy they used on every other party for years) they should reassess why there is such distrust and even hatred for them and how we can transform ourselves in the spirit of Deracheha Darchai Noam so that our lost brothers and sisters would want to join us.

    There is much to say on this topic but thank you for starting the conversation.

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  6. Excellent post and analysis.
    Any idea if Charedi leadership will release a vision, a working model or a goal of future existence....rather than negative & harsh rhetorical statements?

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    1. It is hard to see how the Chareidi leadership can effect change because their "power" (not that they seek it) given to them by the Chareidi masses. If a Chareidi Gadol says something that the Kanaim (masses) don't like then he is "ois Gadol", just look at Rav Shteinman. So it is hard to see broad change, perhaps incremental.

      The other reason my I am not optimistic in change is because the approach is all wrong lefi Aniyas Daati. There is little interest (again because of the masses) in what is right or wrong, or even for what is best, the entire approach is defined by what was done before. The famous quote of the Chazon Ish that Chadash is Asur Min HaTorah. While it is important to follow what was done before, that only makes sense when the issues are the same issues. The world around us changes all the time and it has certainly changed since Europe in the past 100 years. Our relationship with Zionism and the Medina is significantly different today (now that it exists and B"H is thriving) then it was when the Brisker Rav fought against its establishment. The issue of army service is different today than it was when the Gedolim fought against joining the Czars army. The issues of Lemudai Chol are different today than they were when the Gedolim were fight the Haskalah.

      Do these differences make a difference to us? Greater minds then me should discuss that, but they need to discuss it from a perspective of right and wrong, and what is best for the Kllal and not from the narrow view used today by most of "Reb so and so said no 100 years ago so that is what we do today". The question is what would Reb so and so have said TODAY and what WE should do today given the realities of today not yesterday!

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  7. Excellent post. Very good analysis of what is happening in Israel. I think this new world order augers well for the future of Charedim in Israel - whether they realize it or not. And I don't think the do realize it.

    Everyone fears change because they don't know what change will bring. But once the dust settles I think everyone will be better off. I do not think that Lapid or Bennett are anti Charedi at all but are men of good will who want to see an improved and more participatory Charedi society that will be more self sufficient as well. I believe that this may yet happen without undermining the basic structure of the Charedi world.

    IOW, there will still be Yeshivos and Kollelim and they will be full. The only difference will be that more Charedim will be better prepared to live in the real world and better able to support their families.

    How soon - if ever - will this happen...? I don't know. But permanent decent change takes time. I only hope it is sooner rathert than later.

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  8. I was "chareidi" before I made Aliyah. Once here, I chose a "chardal" community, and I'm frummer than I ever was in New York. If, in fact, the New Charediesm becomes the norm, maybe others like me won't run away screaming....

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    1. Clearly some chochmas Noshim operating here!

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    2. Bunsa, can you clarify? So you're saying your charadali community is full of "new charedim," or all chardalim are new charedim (in terms of working, having a more moderate or open minded worldview)? And that they are more frum than Americans and this is a good thing? By frum do you mean more stringent or more religious on an inner level?

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  9. I'm confident we have capable high-level spiritual leaders among us even now. To find them and elevate them to the prominence they deserve, we will have to work around or ignore the popular frum media and abandon any notion that all gadlus is hereditary.

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  10. There is an old saying ,
    מה שלא יעשה השכל יעשה הזמן.
    I believe it applies here.

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  11. Ironic- at one point the chareidi narrative was that MO couldn't make up it's mind what it was (there is truth to that imho) but now the chareidi community is in the same boat - if daat torah isn't the binding agent, what is?
    KT
    Joel Rich

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    1. as in "With the passing of Rav Eliashiv - there really is no more "Daas Torah" - even as a formality. " but with a t.
      KT

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  12. Daas Torah has always been a myth. Rabbi Shimshon Sherer was only revealing Aguda's desperation to be relevant when, at the last convention, he bellowed from the dais, "Obedience to Daas Torah is Divinely ordained". Such a simple pasuk: Do not add to the Torah, do not subtract from the Torah. The New Testament, Shabbatei Zvi, maskilim, Reform, Conservative, bundists, and now Daas Torah, have all come and gone. Daas Torah has no answers for Zionism, the Holocaust, child sex abuse, and a lot of other problems. Daas Rabbonim, yes, Daas Torah, never.

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  13. More significant than the election is, with the passing of Rav Elyashiv Zt"l, the fall from power of his henchmen.

    Under them, in partnership with the Yated, Da'as Torah came to mean psak by intimidation.

    One sign of this new freedom is the recent pamphlet from Rav Lazerson.

    Note the first paragraph on page 3.

    Could he have published this two years ago?
    http://goo.gl/NL1tU

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  14. If I can give a conceptual idea of Haredi /DaasToah view, perhaps it might be useful (or maybe not).
    The Shoah and the general Yeridat Hadorot phenomena, together with secularism, and masses leaving orthodoxy was a total disaster for Yiddishkeit. Some like the Chazon Ish wished to slow or reverse this trend, and get more people in Yeshiva, hence produce more gedolim.
    National security, economy, personal wellbeing, earning a living, education etc, were all to be sacrificed for this big project.

    What it succeeded in was to produce a rebound in the numbers of frum Jews, and slow down the tide of assimilation. What it didn't succeed in directly was to produce Gedolim of the quality that were around 60 years ago.

    But the problem is cyclical. Now there are many people, B'H, but they have economic, physical needs. The "buck" has stopped, and the expansion of the yeshiva system cannot be funded by Israeli secular taxpayers forever. I heard that for 1 Glatt kosher chicken, you need to discard multiple stam chickens. That is a good moshul for the entire enterprise. So maybe the new Hareidim are the "stam chickens", who cannot live according to the extreme kannoi defintions of Haredism, and will be called the new reform (as some people are already saying about American Roshei Yeshiva.)

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    1. "Glatt kosher" chickens? First I've heard of chickens being checked for pulmonary lesions. "Mehadrin" maybe.

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  15. Although there is no prospect of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, remains to be seen whether President Obama will come with demands for further unilateral Israeli withdrawals. Press coverage so far indicates that this is not likely to be the case, but one never knows.

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  16. Chazal teach us that every person should act as if they are the only person in the whole world, and the whole world was made for them. Also, we are taught, in a place where there is no man, be the man.

    This clearly indicates that many people, perhaps all of us, have leadership potential in some way or other. The idea that all leadership must come from one gadol or a small group of gedolim contradicts these teachings.

    Also, there is no reason why a leader has to be advanced in age. I believe Ramban was in his 30s when he came into the limelight in his disputes with Rambam. The charedi rabbi who is now a Yesh Atid MK (Dov Lipman) is one example of a young rabbi who is exercising leadership and thinking for himself (based a Torah framework of course). So is R' Slifkin. So are the Bayit HaYehudi MKs. And so is R' Eidensohn!

    While a certain person (often, these days, a 90- or 100-year old rabbi) may be the leader of an entire community on halachic matters, or in the case of chassidim in spiritual matters, this does not mean they must be leaders in every possible area.

    Every person has their own unique way of serving Hashem. Every person has their own unique contribution to make to klal Yisrael. Individualism and and even iconoclastic leadership have a legitimate place within the Torah world, balanced of course by the adherence to a certain minimum halachic and hashkafic core.

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    1. Yeshaya makes a good point.
      In Hilchot Sanhedrin, the Rambam makes certain restrictions on who can be the Head of the sanhedrin. These should equally apply to the Gadol HaDor.

      One is that he cannot be too old, since he has forgotten the needs of the young.

      Next he cannot be childless - since he will not have rachamim. Now, it is equally possible for this midda to exist in someone who has man children. What Rambam means is that he cannot be part of the Humra of the week club - ie always going for the strictest and most extreme ruling.

      Haredim consider their gedolim to be akin to some informal Sanhedrin. They want all the benefits and Kavod that this notion brings, but do not adhere to the actual halacha of what constitutes a sanhedrin. This is not even mentioning the vast secular knowledge that is required to serve in the sanhedrin.

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  17. Excellent post. I think you have stated what a lot of chareidim/yeshvishe people ultimately believe (but are probably nervous to articulate) - that the ousting of chareidi parties is the best thing for chareidi Jewry and Torah as a whole. It will hopefully shift the tide so that chareidi Judaism can survive and is sustainable in the long run.

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  18. Recipients and PublicityMarch 20, 2013 at 8:55 AM

    Nice post! More like this are needed. You could well be the one to shine some light for those who are lost in the darkness along the way! Chazak Ve'Amatz!

    When a gadol hador passes away, his merits also leave with him! Rav Elyashiv's life gave many zechusim to the Torah world and to all of Klal Yisrael and his profound EITZOS were like from the URIM VETUMIM, and now all of Israel and Jewry are orphaned even more...a DOR YASOM. It is surely NO "coincidence" that so soon after his death that a government that so vociferously excluded the Charedim has arisen, and that Rav Shteinman, who is now the gadol hador, has labelled a "memshelet zadon".

    "The 'Yankees' are coming!" to Israel in more ways than one. The yeshivish Charedi Americans will prove that you can go to college, hold down a good professional job and still be Charedi, or dress well, live well be sophisticated and still be Charedi. Evene American Chasidm are more refined by dint of exposure to a more sophisticated society and not having to fight in the shuk every other week. Relatively many in the new Israeli Knesset members are Americanized and speak English well. There will also now be more negative stuff coming from America to Israel such as a push to recognize the Reform and Conservative "streams" and their clergy (many are women and many aren't even Halachically Jewish! -- but it will push gender-equality and all-around egalitarianism in Israeli society.)

    Don't worry so much about Obama, so far he hasn't done all that much. The Eibishter ("the One Above", in Yiddish) runs the world! The Bushes were FAR worse. Bush I started the Madrid Conference and forced Shamir to the negotiating table with the PLO, and Bush II treated Sharon like a puppet and forced the evacuation from Gaza and was the first one to pronounce the "two state solution" R"L..

    But really, this is a a great post. Yasher Koach!

    Chag Kasher VeSameach Lekulam!

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    1. "When a gadol hador passes away, his merits also leave with him!"

      Do you have a source for this? There is also the statement that "The death of a tzaddik atones for the generation."(Moed Katan 28a). If that is true, things should presumably improve after a gadol passes.

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  19. Recipients and PublicityMarch 24, 2013 at 8:13 AM

    1 of 2:

    @yeshaya March 20, 2013 at 6:02 PM "When a gadol hador passes away, his merits also leave with him!"

    "Do you have a source for this?"

    בראשית פרק כח

    י וַיֵּצֵא יַעֲקֹב, מִבְּאֵר שָׁבַע; וַיֵּלֶךְ, חָרָנָה

    רשי

    ויצא יעקב מבאר שבע: לא היה צריך לכתוב אלא וילך יעקב חרנה, ולמה הזכיר יציאתו, אלא מגיד שיציאת צדיק מן המקום עושה רושם, שבזמן שהצדיק בעיר הוא הודה הוא זיוה הוא הדרה, יצא משם פנה הודה פנה זיוה פנה הדרה וכן (רות א ז) ותצא מן המקום, האמור בנעמי ורות

    And Jacob left: Scripture had only to write: “And Jacob went to Haran.” Why did it mention his departure? But this tells [us] that the departure of a righteous man from a place makes an impression, for while the righteous man is in the city, he is its beauty, he is its splendor, he is its majesty. When he departs from there, its beauty has departed, its splendor has departed, its majesty has departed...

    ----------

    Midrash Rabbah Lamentations 2.2§4

    ...For three and a half years the emperor Hadrian surrounded Bethar. In the city was rabbi Eleazar of Mode'in, who continually wore sackcloth and fasted, and used to pray daily: 'Lord of the universe, sit not in judgment today!' so that Hadrian thought of returning home.

    A Cuthean went [to the emperor] and found him and said: 'My lord, so long as that old cock wallows in ashes, you will not conquer the city. But wait for me, because I will do something that will enable you to subdue it to-day.'

    He immediately entered the gate of the city, where he found rabbi Eleazar standing and praying. He pretended to whisper in the ear of rabbi Eleazar of Mode'in. People went and informed Bar Kozeba: 'Your friend, rabbi Eleazar, wishes to surrender the city to Hadrian.'

    He sent and had the Cuthean brought to him and asked: 'What did you say to him?'...

    Bar Kozeba was convinced that rabbi Eleazar wanted to surrender the city, so when the latter finished his praying, he had him brought into his presence and asked him: 'What did the Cuthean tell you?'

    He answered: 'I do not know what he whispered in my ear, nor did I hear anything, because I was standing in prayer and am unaware what he said.'

    Bar Kozeba flew into a rage, kicked him with his foot and killed him. A heavenly voice issued forth and proclaimed: 'Woe to the worthless shepherd that leaveth the flock! The sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right arm!'

    It was intimated to him, 'Thou hast paralyzed the arm of Israel and blinded their right eye; therefore shall thy arm wither and thy right arm grow dim!'

    Forthwith the sins [of the people] caused Bethar to be captured. Bar Kozeba was slain and his head taken to Hadrian
    ..."

    ----------

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  20. Recipients and PublicityMarch 24, 2013 at 8:13 AM

    2 of 2:

    @yeshaya March 20, 2013 at 6:02 PM "When a gadol hador passes away, his merits also leave with him!"

    "Do you have a source for this?"

    Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan died on September 15, 1933 (Wikipedia)...

    During 1933 Adolf Hitler and the Nazis came to power in Germany:


    (From Wikipedia:)...On 2 August 1934, President von Hindenburg [of Germany] died. The previous day, the cabinet had enacted the "Law Concerning the Highest State Office of the Reich". This law stated that upon Hindenburg's death, the office of president would be abolished and its powers merged with those of the chancellor. Hitler thus became head of state as well as head of government, and was formally named as Führer und Reichskanzler (leader and chancellor). This law violated the [German] Enabling Act—while it allowed Hitler to deviate from the constitution, the Act explicitly barred him from passing any law tampering with the presidency. In 1932, the constitution had been amended to make the president of the High Court of Justice, not the chancellor, acting president pending new elections. Nonetheless, no one objected. With this law, Hitler removed the last legal remedy by which he could be removed from office.

    As head of state, Hitler became Supreme Commander of the armed forces. The traditional loyalty oath of servicemen was altered to affirm loyalty to Hitler personally, rather than to the office of supreme commander or the state. On 19 August, the merger of the presidency with the chancellorship was approved by 90% of the electorate voting in a plebiscite..."

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  21. Recipients and PublicityMarch 24, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    @yeshaya March 20, 2013 at 6:02 PM "When a gadol hador passes away, his merits also leave with him!"

    "Do you have a source for this?"

    בראשית פרק יח

    לב וַיֹּאמֶר אַל-נָא יִחַר לַאדֹנָי, וַאֲדַבְּרָה אַךְ-הַפַּעַם--אוּלַי יִמָּצְאוּן שָׁם, עֲשָׂרָה; וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא אַשְׁחִית, בַּעֲבוּר הָעֲשָׂרָה. לג וַיֵּלֶךְ יְהוָה--כַּאֲשֶׁר כִּלָּה, לְדַבֵּר אֶל-אַבְרָהָם; וְאַבְרָהָם, שָׁב לִמְקֹמוֹ.

    רשי

    אולי ימצאון שם עשרה: על פחות לא בקש. אמר דור המבול היו שמונה, נח ובניו ונשיהם ולא הצילו על דורם, ועל תשעה על ידי צירוף כבר בקש ולא מצא

    וילך ה' וגו': כיון שנשתתק הסניגור הלך לו
    הדיין

    הסניגור והקטיגור מקטרג, ולפיכך (יט א) ויבאו שני המלאכים סדומה [בערב] להשחית. אחד להשחית את סדום ואחד להציל את לוט

    "...perhaps ten will be found there: For fewer [than ten] he did not ask. He said, “In the Generation of the Flood, there were eight: Noah and his sons, and their wives, but they did not save their generation.” And for nine, together with counting [God] he had already asked, but did not find.

    And the Lord departed, etc.: Since the defender was silent, the Judge left.

    and Abraham returned to his place:The Judge left, the defender left, and the prosecutor is accusing. Therefore: “And the two angels came to Sodom,” to destroy (Gen. Rabbah 49:14). One to destroy Sodom and one to save Lot..."

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  22. Recipients and PublicityMarch 24, 2013 at 11:42 AM

    @yeshaya March 20, 2013 at 6:02 PM "When a gadol hador passes away, his merits also leave with him!"

    "Do you have a source for this?"

    במדבר פרק יג

    וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר. ב שְׁלַח-לְךָ אֲנָשִׁים, וְיָתֻרוּ אֶת-אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן, אֲשֶׁר-אֲנִי נֹתֵן, לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל

    כ וּמָה הָאָרֶץ הַשְּׁמֵנָה הִוא אִם-רָזָה, הֲיֵשׁ-בָּהּ עֵץ אִם-אַיִן,

    רשי

    היש בה עץ: אם יש בהם אדם כשר שיגין עליהם
    בזכותו

    "does it have trees: Heb. הִיֵשׁ בָּהּ עֵץ, lit,. does it have a tree. Does it have a worthy man who will protect them with his merit. - [B.B. 15a]"



    האם יש בה עץ אם אין
    הרב דב ביגון

    אחת הבקשות של משה רבינו מן המרגלים, לבדוק "האם יש בה עץ אם אין" (במדבר יג ב). מסביר רש"י "האם יש בארץ אדם כשר שיגן עליהם בזכותו?" גם הרמח"ל זצ"ל כותב "ראוי לכל חסיד שיתכוון במעשיו לטובת דורו כולו - ומוטלת עליו מצוה להשתדל לזכות, לכפר, להתפלל וללמד סנגוריא - על הדור כולו. צדיק כזה מגן על דורו וכל דור אוכל מפרותיו שנאמר "אמרו צדיק כי טוב כי פרי מעלליהם יאכלו" (מסילת ישרים פרק יט).

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  23. Recipients and PublicityMarch 24, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    @yeshaya March 20, 2013 at 6:02 PM "When a gadol hador passes away, his merits also leave with him!"

    "Do you have a source for this?"

    RAMCHAL, Mesilat Yesharim, Chapter 19:

    "...It befits every Saint to be motivated in his actions by a concern for the good of the entire generation, a desire to benefit and protect them.

    This is the intent of the verse (Isaiah 3:10), "Praise the righteous for he is good; for they eat the fruits of their deeds."

    The whole generation eats of their fruits.

    Our sages have commented similarly (Bava Bathra 15a), " `Does it contain trees? ' (Numbers 13:20) - is anyone there who shelters his generation as a tree?"

    We see it to be the will of the Presence that the Saints of Israel benefit and atone for all of the other levels within the nation, as our Sages of blessed memory intimated in their statement concerning the lulav and its accompanying species (Vayikra Rabbah 30.12), "Let these come and atone for those."

    For the Holy One Blessed be He does not desire the destruction of the wicked; it is rather a mitzvah devolving upon the Saint to benefit and atone for them.

    This intention must be contained in his Divine service and it must manifest itself in his prayers; that is, he must pray on behalf of his generation to seek atonement for him who needs atonement, to turn to repentance him who requires it, and to speak in defense of his entire generation.

    Our Sages of blessed memory tell us (Ein Yaakov Yoma Ch. 8) in relation to the verse Daniel 10:12), "And I have come with your words," that Gabriel did not return within the Divine Curtain until he had defended Israel.

    And about Gideon it is said (Yalkut), "Go with this, your strength" (Judges 6:14), the strength of his having defended his people.

    The Holy One Blessed be He loves only him who loves Israel; and to the extent that one's love for Israel grows, to that extent does the love of the Holy One Blessed be He grow for him.

    These are the true shepherds of Israel whom the Holy One Blessed be He greatly desires, who sacrifice themselves for His sheep, who concern themselves with their peace and well-being, and exert themselves for it in every way possible, who always stand in the breach to pray for them, to nullify stern decrees and to open the gates of blessing for them.

    The situation is analogous to that of a father, who loves no man more than the one whom he sees to have a genuine love for his sons.

    Human nature attests to this.

    And this is the idea behind the statement concerning the High Priests (Makkoth lla), "They should have pleaded for mercy on behalf of their generation, but failed to do so, " and behind the statement (Ibid.), "A man was eaten by a lion at a distance of three miles from R. Joshua ben Levi and Elijah did not appear to him for three days."

    We see, then, that it is the Saint's duty to seek the good of his generation and to exert himself for it."

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  24. Recipients and PublicityApril 7, 2013 at 9:10 AM

    From Rav A.Y. Kook 1 of 3:

    RaP said: "When a gadol hador passes away, his merits also leave with him!"

    yeshaya @March 20, 2013 at 6:02 PM asked..."Do you have a source for this? There is also the statement that "The death of a tzaddik atones for the generation."(Moed Katan 28a). If that is true, things should presumably improve after a gadol passes."

    Here is another answer from an Email From: Chanan Morrison
    To: Rav Kook List
    Sent: Wednesday, April 03, 2013 7:42 AM
    Subject: [Rav Kook List] Shemini: Mourning for Nadav and Avihu

    [Adapted from Midbar Shur, pp. 332-336, 341-342]

    "Shemini: Mourning for Nadav and Avihu

    After the tragic deaths of Aaron's sons Nadav and Avihu, Moses instructed Aaron and his remaining sons not to display any public signs of mourning:

    "Do not let your hair grow untended, and do not rend your garments.... And as far as your brothers are concerned, the entire house of Israel will mourn the ones whom God has burned." (Lev. 10:6)

    Why was Aaron not allowed to publicly mourn the death of his sons?

    The Death of Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi

    To better understand Moses' unusual instructions, we may examine the Talmudic account of the passing of another prominent individual: Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi ('the Prince'). Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi was the second-century redactor of the Mishnah, and a pivotal religious and political figure. His influence was so great that he was universally referred to as 'Rabbi' - 'my teacher.' No other name was needed to identify him.

    Rabbi's death was a traumatic event for the entire nation. The Talmud in Ketubot 104a relates the story of his final hours:

    When Rabbi became deathly ill, the scholars declared a public fast. His students and colleagues prayed for his recovery.

    Rabbi's maidservant went up to the roof and pleaded: "On high, the [angels] want Rabbi [to join them]; and down below, they want Rabbi [to stay]. May it be Your will that those down below should prevail." But when she saw that Rabbi was suffering, she changed her prayer: "May it be Your will that those above will prevail."

    The scholars continued to their constant prayers for Rabbi's recovery. The maidservant grabbed a jar and threw it down from the roof. The sudden crash startled the scholars and momentarily disrupted their prayers. Rabbi's soul departed."

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  25. Recipients and PublicityApril 7, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    From Rav A.Y. Kook 2 of 3:

    The sages asked Bar Kappara to investigate. He went and found Rabbi had passed away. Bar Kappara tore his garment, and reported back:

    "The angels and the mortals struggled over the Holy Ark. But the angels vanquished the mortals, and the Holy Ark has been captured."

    Why did the scholars and the maidservant disagree about whether to pray for Rabbi to live? Who was right? And why did Bar Kappara refer to his illustrious teacher as 'the Holy Ark'?

    The Benefits of Tzaddikim

    The key to understanding this account is recognizing that there are two ways in which Torah scholars benefit the world. The first contribution is obvious to all, as they disseminate Torah and instruct people in the proper path.

    In addition to these activities, however, there is an intrinsic quality based on the inner holiness of the Torah itself. Tzaddikim provide a hidden benefit to society, as they refine and elevate society by their very presence.

    The Talmud in Sanhedrin 99b teaches that one who complains, 'What do Torah scholars do for society? They only study for themselves' should be considered a heretic. Even if we do not see how scholars contribute to society, the intrinsic holiness of their Torah provides blessing and merit for all. Even the evil city of Sodom would have been spared had ten righteous people lived there, as God informed Abraham: "I will spare the entire region for their sake" (Gen. 18:26).


    Bar Kappara's Message

    Now we may understand the story of Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi's death, and the disagreement between his disciples and Rabbi's maidservant.

    There are instances when it is proper to pray for the release of those gravely ill - when they are suffering greatly and there is no hope for recovery (see Nedarim 40a). This, however, does not apply to a tzaddik. With regard to Torah scholars, the very existence of their Torah in the world is a hidden asset that outweighs considerations of their own personal pain and discomfort. For these righteous individuals, it is proper to pray even for chayei sha'ah, even for a limited extension of life. For this reason, the scholars continued praying for Rabbi, even though his illness was terminal.

    At first, Rabbi's maidservant also prayed for her master's recovery, but her motivation was that Rabbi should be able to continue his dissemination of Torah. When she realized that his illness was so grave that he would no longer be able to teach, and that the only possible gain of prayer was a brief reprieve from death, she decided - MISTAKENLY - that Rabbi no longer served a purpose in this world. Since he could no longer benefit this world, and was wanted in the next, she prayed that the angels and the righteous souls in the next world would prevail.

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  26. Recipients and PublicityApril 7, 2013 at 9:15 AM

    From Rav A.Y. Kook 3 of 3:

    Bar Kappara, however, recognized Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi's lofty inner qualities and his hidden benefit to the world. Why did he refer to his teacher as 'the Holy Ark'? Bar Kappara wanted the people to recognize that this inner segulah was in fact Rabbi's primary benefit to the world. In this aspect, a tzaddik is like the Holy Ark. The Ark contained the original luchot (tablets) from Mount Sinai, and was a symbol for the Torah. Yet the Ark was covered with a heavy plate of gold; it was impossible to actually study from the luchot within. Thus the Holy Ark represents, not the Torah's practical benefit to the world, but its intrinsic holiness. It was located in the Temple's inner sanctum, emanating holiness to the nation and the entire world.

    We must appreciate Rabbi, Bar Kappara was saying, not just as the redactor of the Mishnah and a teacher of Torah, but primarily as a Holy Ark, as a receptacle of Torah and holiness.


    Mourning for Nadav and Avihu

    Now we can understand why Aaron and his family were not permitted to publicly mourn for Nadav and Avihu. The benefit of the inner segulah of tzaddikim is so great that it cannot be expressed in words. External displays of mourning cannot do justice to the magnitude of this loss. Public signs of mourning only express our sadness at the cessation of their public activities.

    Since the people were unable to fully value the inner qualities of Nadav and Avihu, it was appropriate for the nation to publicly mourn the loss of their outward contributions to society. But Aaron, who recognized the lofty nature of his sons, realized that this terrible loss could never be conveyed in human language. Thus, "Aaron was silent" (Lev. 10:3).

    Moses instructed Aaron not to eulogize his sons even for their public activities, because this was a minor benefit compared to the value of their inner segulah. Since this hidden quality cannot be expressed in words, it was preferable for Aaron to remain silent.

    Often we eulogize a great individual so that people will come to recognize the magnitude of the loss to society. In this instance, however, Moses explained that public mourning was unnecessary. Even without public eulogies, "The entire house of Israel will mourn the ones whom God has burned." The entire nation was aware of Nadav and Avihu's greatness, and would surely lament their absence.

    (Adapted from Midbar Shur, pp. 332-336, 341-342)"

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