Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Mordechai Tendler's "Mesores Moshe" - What is it?

[See also  A review of Masoras Moshe by Rabbi Yair Hoffman]

update: see my recent post  Get Me'usa an apparent contradiction between Igros Moshe and Mesoras Moshe

Someone recently asked me about Mordechai Tendler's recent publication Mesores Moshe. In particular his reporting of what he claims Rav Moshe Feinstein held about Get Me'usa. I purchased the sefer last week - Manny told me that it is selling very well and in fact he said I had bought his last copy.

What exactly is this sefer and what siginficance does it have? It seems that when Mordechai Tendler was Rav Moshe's gabbai - that each night while the details were fresh in his mind - he would write down the discussions he had with Rav Moshe. This present volume is in fact one of many notebooks that he produced.
To ensure that his recollection was correct and that material that could be misunderstood not be published - the family had Rav Shmuel Fuerst - one of Rav Moshe's closest students - go over the material. He notes that many of the discussions he heard from Rav Moshe himself - and the other material sounds like Rav Moshe.
On the other hand - despite receiving haskomas from Rav Dovid and Reuven Feinstein - as well as Mordechai Tendler's father - they say material can not automatically be used for psak halacha. However the way they word this caution - it would seem that it applies to the Igros Moshe itself!

ואפילו אחר כל השמירות שנעשו, אנו צריכים להדגיש, כי פסקים מאאמו"ר זצ"ל בלי ביאור מלא בסוגיות,
לא יכול להחשב בכל מקרה כפסק הלכה לדורות, (ע' הקדמה של אאמו"ר לאגרות משה חלק א, ואג"מ יו"ד
ח"ד ס' לח, ויו"ד ח"ה ס' ח). בפרט שאאמו"ר זצ"ל לא היה דרכו לסמוך על דעתו הקודמת, אלא על כל שאלה
ושאלה שבא לפניו היה שוקל בדעתו מחדש, ופעמים היה מחמיר לזה ואח"כ היקל לזה. מכל מקום הנידונים
והמשא ומתו וחוות דעתו שנמצא בספר הזה, ראויים ללמוד בהם, ושיהיו ביד בל אחד ואחד שרוצה לעמוד
על דעתו הגדולה של אאמו"ר זצ"ל.

It seems that many of the discussions -are not clear and I am not sure what purpose the family saw in publishing this material. An example is a discussion about using a non-religious psychiatrist on Shabbos.
This is not the first time that problematic material from Rav Moshe has been published. Rabbi Yitzchok Berkowitz told me that in the 7th volume there is much material that is not written by Rav Moshe but was transcribed by Mordechai Tendler. He said it is problematic making diyukim in the language because of this. Rabbi Shabtsai Rappaport - editor of the Igros Moshe and son-in-law of Rav Moshe Dovid Tendler -  told me that Rav Eliashiv wanted to put the 8th volume in cherem because he thought there was material in there that was not from Rav Moshe. He said that he sat down with Rav Eliashiv and showed him that that which he objected to -  could also be found in the earlier volumes and therefore the material was genuine.

Rav Dovid Feinstein told me regarding the 8th volume that the family was faced with the question of what to do with material of variable quality that was left. He said they decided to publish it rather than putting it in storage -  but at the same time indicate the quality of the material as to whether it was written by Rav Moshe or recorded by others.

Finally the 9th volume of the Igros Moshe that came out in 2011. The material is of lower quality then the other volumes and there are some teshuvos which are fragments of discussions or psakim without context to explain what the issue was. Finally there are clear contradictions. The very first teshuva deals with the time of shema and shemona esrei - Reb Moshe there says that one should be machmir like the Magen Avraham. However in an earlier teshuva (O.C. 1:24) he says we definitely posken like the Gra and there is no mention about needing to be machmir

שו"ת אגרות משה אורח חיים חלק א סימן כד

בדבר זמן ק"ש בשחרית הנה מנהג רוב מקומות /שבמדינותינו/ שבדינותינו רייסן וליטא וכן מנהג הישיבות היה עד שלש שעות מנץ החמה כשיטת הגר"א והגר"ז וכן הוא העיקר לדינא בכל הענינים ורק יחידים היו מחמירין לעצמן עד ג' שעות מעלות השחר, ובלוח יש לקבוע כעצם הדין. ומנחה אין להתפלל אחר שקיעה רק בשעת הדחק יכולין לסמוך על המקילים. עיין במ"ב סי' רל"ג. ולענין מוצאי שבת מפני החומר יש להחמיר כר"ת. וכן יראה ידידי בכל המקומות במ"ב שדעתו נוטה כהגר"א והרבה ראשונים סוברין כן. ולכן איני רוצה להכנס בפלפולא בענין זה כי מה אנחנו להכריע בין הרים גדולים אבל הגר"א הוא בתראה והסכימו עליו כל העולם שהוא גדול טובא וראוי להכריע וא"כ הלכה כבתראה ובפרט שגם הגרש"ז סובר כן. ומש"כ ידידי שלתינוק שנולד אחר שקיעה דסוף שבת שהיו נוהגין למול בשבת, ודאי הוא שלא כהראוי שהעיקר לדינא כהגר"א והגרש"ז שנמצא שהוא ספק איסור מלאכה והראוי לענין זה להחמיר כחומר ב' השיטות.

I asked Rabbi Bluth - who was Rav Moshe's gabbai before Mordechai Tendler. He said "Don't worry about it. Reb Moshe was a broad man." In other words he could say contradictory things. Similarly when the issue of indexing the 8th volume in the Yad Moshe - someone who is very close to the Feinstein family told me, "It is none of your business to judge what they do - just index what they publish."

I used to be able to accept that.


  1. "Reb Moshe was a broad man." In other words he could say contradictory things." This is a terrible answer.

    I just thought that Rav Moshe says mei'ikar hadin we poskin like the gra, but he says it is good to follow the MA. Similar to what he says about chalov yisroel. He said it is mei'ikar hadin kosher, but he himself only drank cholov yisroel (and told others this is a better practice), I thought. It isn't exactly a contradiction. If you have examples of straight out contradictions, I would like to see them (if you could).

    1. Yes your suggestion makes sense - however that is not what Reb Moshe wrote. He could have simply said that the halacha is like the Gra but it is appropriate to go like the Magen Avraham - but he doesn't in the first teshuva.

    2. actually rav yisrael shurin tz"l told me that rav moshe would drink chalav hacompanies.

  2. Why is Rabbi Tendler called "Mordechai Tendler" instead of Rabbi Tendler.He has smeicha from Rav Moshe and I saw it.It is under the glass on the desk in his office in Monsey.

    1. I am not sure what planet you have been on the last few years. Are you aware of the ruling of the RCA, Yeshiva University and the rabbonim of Monsey including Rav Bentzion Wosner? Try googling the words mordechai tendler,scandal

    2. I know he won in court.He denies the charges and he had his day in court.They did not find him guilty.You mention YU.What planet are you from? Google YU SCANDAL.RCA is another big deal.Seriously.Wasn't Lanner a member there?

    3. Also a Talmid Chacham has a right not to be judged by his inferiors.Rav Tendler wanted to be judged in Yerushalyim (by the rabbanut?)the RCA refused.Israel retailiated by not accepting RCA conversions.

    4. the charges were dismissed on a technicality i.e., that in New York a rabbi is not viewed as having a fudiciary relationship. Thus he was not declared innocent in court. The court simple said that there was no basis for trying a case of clergy seduction since it is not against the law in New York. The details of the RCA deliberations and YU decisions are not flatterying for Tendler. the fact that he was fired from his shul and the Monsey rabbonim condemned him should give you the awareness that a broad spectrum of people have come to the same conclusion.

    5. I have a much different "take" on the situation.The case against Rabbi Tendler had more holes that a Swiss Cheese.The clergy investigation company hired by the RCA turned out not only not to be licenced in New York they were not even licenced in their home state of Texas.The women who sued him,Ms.Marmelstein claimed that he had relations with her because it was the only was to bring the Moshiach.That tells you enough about her.The shul fired him because they didn't want the bad publicity from the accusations.The RCA promised to keep the names of Rabbi Tendler's accusers secret and then sent Rabbi Tendler a list of everybody making claims.Why would I take the RCA seriously?

    6. Forward 2006

      In the months before the RCA ruling, Tendler's supporters said that the allegations against him were being orchestrated by ultra-Orthodox rabbis who opposed the methods he used in helping women who were unable to secure a religious divorce from their husbands. At the same time, Tendler told people that several of the ultra-Orthodox rabbis in Monsey who criticized his work on women's issues had investigated the sexual harassment allegations and rejected them. However, attached to Wosner's ruling was a clarification signed by seven ultra-Orthodox Monsey rabbis disputing Tendler's claim that they had exonerated him.

      In an interview with the Forward, one of the signatories, Rabbi Mordechai Orbach, said he arranged a meeting with Tendler at the beginning of 2003 in Congregation Shaarey Tefilah, Orbach's Monsey synagogue. The meeting was attended by six other rabbis representing the various Hasidic and non-Hasidic ultra-Orthodox groups in Monsey.

      The rabbis questioned Tendler and ended the meeting by saying they would investigate further, Orbach said. Since then, Tendler and his supporters claimed on a number of occasions that the Monsey rabbis had cleared him.

      In their clarification, however, the rabbis wrote: "Since it has been publicly announced...and printed that we investigated R' Mordecai Tendler and that we were convinced of the truth of his statements, we are hereby forced to publicize that this is an outright lie." Rabbi Shraga Feivel Zimmerman, one of the seven signatories, told the Forward that the clarification "is authentic, and we stand behind the statement contained in it."

    7. Forward 2006

      Meanwhile, the RCA, the Modern Orthodox rabbinical union that expelled Tendler, has been fighting its own battle with the rabbi.

      A Jerusalem regional rabbinical court contacted by Tendler after his dismissal by the RCA has been chastising the organization in a series of letters for expelling Tendler without bringing the issue to an independent rabbinical court. In response, on December 29, the RCA announced on its Web site that it has formally agreed to participate in a Jewish legal procedure, known as zabla, in New York. According to the rules of the procedure, each side of a dispute chooses a rabbinical judge, and the two judges jointly choose a third judge, forming a religious tribunal to hear the case.

      "To this date, neither Mordecai Tendler nor his representatives have ever properly communicated his commitment to in fact proceed to zabla," the RCA statement continued.

      In his recent ruling, Wosner, the ultra-Orthodox legal authority in Monsey, defended the RCA. According to the rabbi, Tendler questioned the RCA investigation because women are not considered kosher witnesses according to rabbinic law and because Tendler was not present when the witnesses testified. Wosner wrote that in a case where only women could possibly testify, they can and should do so. In addition, he wrote, testimony taken without the defendant present is valid, especially in a case where the defendant has a history of intimidating witnesses.

      Citing what he described as incriminating tapes, Wosner wrote, "The RCA had every right to oust this rabbi from their organization, and his own congregation has the same obligation." In conclusion, he wrote, "the rabbi can no longer officiate at divorces, weddings. ... One should never allow their wives or daughters to go to him at all including [for] counseling... and all his rulings are null and void."

    8. At the time the RCA went after Rabbi Tendler they had been under big time accusations that they had not done anything for decades against Baruch Lanner.They were determined not to let this occur again and they turned Rav Tendler into a scapegoat.The rabbis who went after him were enemies of Rav Moshe Dovid Tendler at YU.It was a horrible situation.The best coverage in this story was in the Jewish Press and Susan Rosenbluth of the Jewish Voice and Opinion really took on the accusers and the RCA to task.

  3. reb Dovid is a very practical and honest man. Why wouldnt you ask him and heed his advice?

    1. Yes Reb Dovid is a very practical and honest man. He also shares the attribute of the Feinstein not to get involved in public disputes.

      When Reb Moshe was niftar I was told a number or rabbonim and poskim went to Reb Dovid to clarify Reb Moshe's psakim that were controversial or disputed. He told them, "I am not going to say anything in these matters. Let people believe what they want to."

      What did you want me to ask him?

    2. I sat in Rav Dovid's shiur yesterday.He is the greatest man I know.The Rosh Yeshiva does have a policy of steering clear of controversy.

    3. In other words, an ISH SHALOM besides a Talmid Chocham, quite unique combination.

  4. Why don't you contact Raav Fuerst, who you mention, and ask him your questions- instead of posting a bunch of conspiracy theories. Then post his responses.

    1. What conspiracy theories are you referring to? I am simply indicating that the last volumes published regarding Rav Moshe's views have not been of high quality, have not necessarily been consistent with what was published before and that the context of the teshuva as well as the reasoning behind is often not reported.

      Thus the simple question is what use is this material? Rav Moshe's sons clearly state that you can't posken from the material and claim that that is Rav Moshe's view. In contrast in the Igros Moshe - when Rav Moshe said that the time of tefila is according to the Gra - I knew that was Rav Moshe's view and I could legitimately view that position as a psak from Reb Moshe. In the orginal volumes of the Igros Moshe - Rav Moshe himself would edit the material to make it relevant for all generations. He also deleted material.

      As I mentioned before this question came up when the 8th volume was published. I spoke with Rav Dovid at the time. According to what he told me then it seems that there is a desire to publish
      every snippet that has been recorded directly or indirectly from Rav Moshe.

    2. If you wished to approach this in a honest and scholarly way (and not a conspiracy theory driven post), you would have done the most basic and elementary research, and tried calling the Rabbis you mentioned, including Rav Fuerst. It is very telling that you have decided instead to cut and paste old articles, and recount vintage conversations, which have no relevance to the new and current subject at hand.

    3. Sorry but you don't understand what I said. You keep mentioning conspiracy theories when I simply am asking what purpose does this material serve?

    4. Your comments are reminiscent of the lad who much preferred to have a question, rather than an answer. Instead of taking the basic step of asking Rabbis who you apparently know have the answers, you chose to "ponder" your question...

    5. Your comments are from one who is feeling morally superior because you are an advocate of a morally questionable person and won't acknowledge his faults.

  5. has any one gotten wind of what is contained in the 70+ pages of material r fuerst pulled? my understanding is the sons & talmidim want none of this published while RMT would publish it all as a pesharah to not be legitimized and receive a haskomah RMT allows editing

  6. I am Mishpocho to Rav Mordechai and prefer to remain anonymous. I am not hear to argue, but I would like to point out a few things for those who are interested:
    1) The Haskomo from the Feinstein's and Rav Moshe Tendler has glowing praise for Rav Mordechai.
    2) There is also Haskomo from Rav Dovid Cohen.
    3) Rav Fuerst is a personal friend of Rav Mordechai
    4) Those who have attended Rav Mordechai's shiurim will know that Rav Mordechai will never state that one should pasken from his notes outright. The language in the Haskomo is consistent with Rav Moshe's own instructions that each answer was personalized, and therefore cannot be used as a source of practice by itself.
    5) The editors of this volume include footnotes with source material, explanatory notes, etc. Indeed, Rav Mordechai himself says that there were certain things he was unsure of.
    6) Regarding the Igros Volume 9. If you read the introduction, it explains where the material came from. This was not merely previously omitted material. There are also Hashkafic letter's, letters from Rav Mordechai Feisntein, and more. In terms of quality, what is it that struck you as being less than other volumes?

    1. Perhaps you can explain why this teshuva was published in the 9th volume?

      חושן משפט
      סימן ה

      בדידנא דמלכותא

      א' רר"ח אלול תשכ"ט

      מע"כ ידידי הנכבד, מהר"ר יעקב דרדק שליט"א
      שלו' וברכה כל הימים.

      אחדה"ש באהבה ובכבוד התורה הראוי לכתר"ה.

      שאלה הראשונה ב בהנהגת דיני הערכאות

      שבמדינתינו ח"ו לנו לומר דבר בזה, וכפי
      החוקים שנקבעו מהממשלה כן יש להם לנהוג, ואנו
      תושבי המדינה אשר אנחנו חסים בצלם אין לנו
      לערער, וכ"ש במלכות זו דארה"ב שהיא ממשלת חסד
      ויושר ומגינה על היהודים אשר אנחנו מתפללים בעדה
      להשי"ת בכל עת שיצליח השי"ת אותם בכל עניני

      , המדינה, ותמיד יהיה עיניהם לטובה על היהודים. ואין
      ,ללמד את הילדים שיעשו בקורת על עניני המדינה, רק
      :שצריך ללמדם תורתנו הקדושה ומה לנו לדבר כלל
      :בדבר דיני והנהגות המדינה.

      ב. האם להתנגד לחוקי מיתה.

  7. Stop casting aspersions. The family has the teshuvos and other material written b'ksav yad kadsho.

    Per cholov yisral - it's not a stirah for a posek to be matir something and then be machmir for himself. That's called being a posek.

  8. It's Rav Mordechai Tendler to you Sir!

  9. View of Monsey RabbonimOctober 6, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    His "Rav" title was voided by the Rabbonim of Monsey in a written psak on March 29th, 2006.

    The Rabbonim, which represented all streams of Orthodoxy (Chassidic, Yeshivish and Modern), co-signed a p'sak halacha stating that Tendler is guilty of halachic and personal indiscretions, confirmed the DNA evidence of his infidelity, and ruled that Tendler is unfit to serve in any rabbinical position (including his little "minyan of minions" that meets in his house on Shabbos).

    The psak was written by Rav Benzion Wosner. Anyone wanting more information should contact Rav Wosner, Rav Feivel Zimmerman (now Av Bais Din of Gateshead, England), Rav Orbach of Forshay, Rav Avrohom Yaakov Schorr, Rav Cohen (from Blueberry), Rav Chaim Schabes, Rav Yisroel Ciner, Rav Schwartz (of Wesley Hills), Rav Yosef Yitzchok Rosenfeld or any other Monsey Rav. They have all seen the signed psak, and some are among the rabbonim who signed it themselves.


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