Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Rav Moshe Feinstein: Honoring Conservative & Reform "Rabbis" with an aliyah?

This teshuva is relevant to the recent discussion of Rav Moshe's teshuvos regarding homosexuality which some claimed did not follow the classic Jewish understanding. The following teshuva dealing with the validty of a beracha was criticized in a similar fashion by the Consevative movement.  Amen and Amen: Blessings of a Heretic - like me  

 This fits in with my definition of a gadol, "One whose authority transcends his footnotes." or as Rav Rottenberg of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim (a close talmid of Rav Moshe) told me, "Some say that Rav Moshe poskened directly from the gemora - I think he poskened from Heaven!"
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Igros Moshe (O. C. 3:21): The issue of honoring heretics - in situations of need – by calling them to the Torah and other honors that are given out in the synagogue. Question: When "rabbis" of the Reform and Conservative movements occasionally come Shabbos to a shul of fully observant Jews, is it correct to give these "rabbis" an aliyah to the Torah? Answer: It is an elementary matter that it is inherently prohibited for these "rabbis" to be called up to the Torah. That is because each aliyah requires a beracha prior to the Torah reading and then a beracha after the reading- and the berachos of these "rabbis" are totally worthless and in fact one should not say amen after them. I have written in my sefer Igros Moshe (O.C. 2:50-51) that since these "rabbis" are heretics – when they mention G-d's name it has no special significance and thus the beracha is being said without shem and malchus at all. Consequently even though the Torah is being read by the reader and the congregation hears the Torah reading – nevertheless it is like a Torah reading without beracha. Reading with a worthless beracha is worse then the situation that existed prior to the institution of saying a beracha before and after each Torah reading. That is because after the decree for each Torah reading to have its own berachos - the beracha prior to the first aliyah no longer applies to subsequent aliyos because the the beracha after his aliyah has been said. Regarding other holy synagogue honors which don't require a beracha and are therefore not inherently prohibited - such as lifting up the Torah (hagba), rolling the Torah up (gelila), talking the Torah out (hotzah), putting it back (hachnasa), opening the ark (pesicha), closing the ark (segira) - nonetheless they should still not be given to heretics and these "rabbis" are heretics. In fact giving them these honors transgresses the prohibition of hypocrisy and flattery (chanifa). Consequently it is not fitting to give them these types of honors - as I have written in Igros Moshe (O.C. 2:51) - and unless there is great need it is prohibited to give them these types of honors. However if there is a great need to honor them – such as the concern that this will lead to disputes in the community and there is concern that there will be loss of funding for tzedaka – then there is a basis to permit the holy honors which don't require a beracha. But they should not get an aliya as I have explained. Regarding non-observant Jews who are not heretics, there is no inherent prohibition of giving them an aliya since they believe in G-d and his Torah but they transgress the Torah from lust – and one should answer amen after their berachos. Nevertheless it is clear that it is not nice to give them an aliyah because that is honoring sinners and therefore one should refrain from this unless there is some need such as a yahrtzeit which there would be concern for disputes or other comparable problems. In contrast these "rabbis" who are actual heretics and transgress the Torah out of spite and they try persuading others to go in their wrong path - their berachos are worthless and it is inherently prohibited to give them an aliyah as I said before.

19 comments :

  1. Replies
    1. My "amen" is meant to testify to the truth not from the side of my learning, but from the side of my experience. While individual Rabbis of other "movements" may not be aware of the damage they do, still, in my experience, among those who lead, guide and/or fund or otherwise support these movements are those who have a keen sense of what they are doing, namely, trying to chip away at those who seek to unify the Jewish Nation by working towards all Jews following the Torah.

      Conservative, Reform, Open Orthodox, and so on are Jewish movements in the sense that an earthquake is a Tectonic movement.

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  2. Is Rav Moshe, zt"l, perhaps giving too much credit to Reformative rabbis? Nowadays I don't think any of them are educated enough to be considered heretics. To be a real heretic requires a high level Torah education.

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    1. There is a difference between the definition of a heretic who incurs penalties (like being killed), and the fact that someone doesn't believe in the basic beliefs of Judaism (like G-d and the Torah) - the second type doesn't need any level of education.

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    2. To be a real heretic, one can be a total idiot, but it requires a high level of Rishus, to be a Machti Es Horabim by teaching Anti-Torah values, whereas to transgress oneself simply means that he has a hard time doing the right thing because if the Yetzer Hora. But to teach others to sin? There is no Yetzer Hora for someone else to sin, besider the Yetzer Hora of heresy.

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    3. It reminds me of the old job. The talmid comes to his rebbe and says "Rebbe, I've been thinking about it and I can't do it anymore. I just don't believe. I'm going to go and become an apikorus."
      The rebbe looks at him and asks "How many years have you been learning for?"
      "Thirteen," says the talmid.
      The rebbe laughs. "Only thirteen? You don't know enough to become an apikorus."
      Reformative rabbis today aren't rebelling against God. They don't know their version of Judaism has no legitimacy. They really think they're doing right with all their innovations and frankly, some of them are genuinely nice people. They belivei n God, they just have no clue that this belief comes with non-optional obligations.

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    4. dlz has it right. The issue R. Moshe dealt with is not whether the person is a rasha, it is rather whether his beliefs are such that his bracha can be used to fulfill the obligation of the tsibbur to hear kriyas ha Torah with berachos. If a person's beliefs are crooked, even if through no fault of your own, you cannot use that person's berachos for that purpose.

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    5. To the Mighty One: It would seem that a shogeg by a teacher/leader is counted as a mazid. The ignorant reform 'rabbi' loses his status of a sinner from lust because he is a leader. For them, they bear full responsibility for what they teach and preach. Your sympathy and defense of the leaders of destruction is not pretty. Neither is the assumption that your Mightiness knows what is going on but R. Moshe was clueless.

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  3. According to the basic reading of Rambam, even if one mistakenly doesn't believe in one of the 13 yesodos, he is still a heretic. Raavad seems to disagree.
    So it may not be that hard to qualify as a heretic.

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    1. That's not the basic reading of the Rambam, that is Reb Chaim's explanation of the difference between Ikarim and everything else in the Torah.

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  4. Everyone has their apikorsus. I doubt if anyone here adheres to all 13 of the Ikkarim of the Rambam. When someone is caught out, they respond "oh, the Rambam is not the last word etc." This is the No true Scotsman fallacy.

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  5. Rabbi Eidensohn,

    I don't understand why you are citing this Teshuva. Surely the Conservative movement would disagree with most Teshuvahs of R' Moshe, as they would with any other authentic Posek. So what?

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  6. thats ironic as CHABAD gives anyone aliyos on shabbos , even those that drive to shul and eat treif

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    1. The same problem occurred a few years ago in England. Louis Jacobs, who had left Orthodoxy because he denied the Divine nature of the Torah, but was still shomer shabbes, was at an Orthodox shul for his granddaughter's aufruf, but was denied an Aliyah by the Chief Rabbis, precisely for the reasons stated in the psak of RMF. So even in Modern Orthodox shuls, where some members may drive, they enforce this halacha.

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  7. The gemora says in Shabbos that if somebody sins and profanes the Shabbos and knows that the Torah forbids it, but does not know that the Torah punishes Shabbos sins very severely, that the person is considered a sinner of a lesser degree, a shogage, or sinner out of ignorance. To make somebody an apikoress today when people learned nothing in their youth and grew up in Reform temples is technically very hard. But to give the impression that this denier, even with shogage, is a real rabbi and is to be so respected, makes problems of its own and defiles the entire shull.

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  8. When HaShem told Moishe Rabbeinu to take the Israelites out of Egypt, Moishe Rabbeinu asked how he could know who is an Israelite and who is not. The answer was; the cirkusized and those who sacrificeses the Pesach sacrifice. That is the leading principal for Chabad.

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  9. Maybe in past generations circumcision proved something but today it proves less due to the large intermarriage rate and the fact that many gentiles circumcize for health reasons.

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  10. To ANYONE here, who says that any person in the Jewish world with insufficient information to understand the Torah properly, which includes the vast majority of my Jewish brothers and sisters around the world, who was never taught the plain meaning, allusions, expounded meaning, and at least a hint of the secret meaning behind the words when they become the correct age, is themself a SINNER. You are slandering your fellow Jew. You can't be an apikorus if you don't first understand the entire Torah, have digested it, and understand the implications of it. The implications that God is in control of everything and there is none besides Him, may His great name be blessed until Eternity of Eternities. That Torah IS life, not a guide to life, it IS life, as it is said, "It is [a] Tree of Life to those who grasp it." Who doesn't understand that these ridiculous statements that you are all making are missing the entire point of galus and this stupidity is actually impeding our redemption!

    But you'll say to me, am I saying that Rav Moshe is wrong? NO. I'm saying that you are completely missing the point by pointing to this one isolated shaylah! That letter, while published, was asked by a specific person, and he answered exactly the specific question in the specific letter. We can learn about his thinking, but there is no guarentee that he would not have had a different psak in a different situation. If it would have united the Jewish people, what then? Well, he would have asked the same questions of the person. If it turns out that in his rabbinic training he was never told something vital, or he misunderstood, or he didn't understand that he was uprooting the Torah by having a particular belief, we see very clearly that Rav Moshe would at that very moment rebuke him as required by the halacha, and consider him a shogeg THAT TIME. If he continued down that path, he then would have been doing it b'maizid and that is another issue!

    You should all be ashamed of yourselves. God, Torah and Israel are all one. If you have never read that statement it means you never read the introduction to the Zohar. If your Rebbe never taught it to you it's because you weren't ready, and you still might not be ready. But think about how true it is and STOP THE LASHON HARA! Speak TRUTH or FALSEHOOD, not GOOD and EVIL. If you have never read that, you should look at the Rambam's Guide to the Perplexed, and if you don't understand that, then you definitely have no place calling anyone an apikorus!

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  11. Yerachmiel HaLeviApril 2, 2017 at 7:42 PM

    So do OU shuls & Young Israels

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