Friday, July 11, 2014

Understanding Chabad: The Holocaust - Rav Schach vs the Lubavitcher Rebbe

update: I suggest a reconciliation based on the concept of attribution found in the Rishonim.
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I would like to discuss in greater detail Chabad and its alleged deviance from acceptable theology. What seems to be happening is that Chabad follows views which at one time were common or viewed as legitimate. Over time some of these views fell out of favor of the yeshiva world. The Holocaust  is one such issue. The following quotes are from R Telushkin's book on the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
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One simple way of resolving the apparent contradiction between the approach of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and Rav Shach is based on the following sources. Causal relationships are attriubted for pragmatic reasons - but not actually known. Typically throughout Jewish history it has been beneficial to faith to attribute suffering to sin. However except in the case of the prophets, the actual causal relationships are not known. Such attributions not only provide a way of understanding suffering but it also provides motivation to improve and grow from the suffering. 

However what would happen in a situation where these attributions not only are not viewed as providing meaning but are viewed as abhorrent? What if the reaction to these explanation is anger and rebellion against a religion that insists that G-d brings about the torture and death of millions of men, women and children? And even in those who don't reject the view, it induces severe depression rather than growth and meaning? This is common in the modern world - even amongst many religious people.

The answer is obviously that we should you a different approach. Such is the approach of Chabad - which obviously doesn't reject the idea of Divine Providence - but says we don't understand the causal relationships. This can be seen in the following quote. More citations are at the end of this post. [These translated sources are from my sefer Daas Torah.]

Kuzari (5:20): Since all that exists must exist either because of a direct decree of G d or by means of intermediate factors and it is possible that they are all directly decreed by G d - the masses prefer to attribute all causes directly to G d because this is more certain and strengthens faith.
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Among Rabbi Shach’s well-known positions was his certainty that the Holocaust was a divine punishment for Jewish sinfulness or, as he phrased it: “God kept count of each and every sin, in a running count over hundreds of years, until the count amounted to six million Jews, and that is how the Holocaust occurred. So must a Jew believe, and if a Jew does not completely believe this, he is a heretic, and if we do not accept this as a punishment , then it is as if we don’t believe in the Holy One, blessed be He.” He then continued, “After exterminating the six million, He began counting again. We don’t know where the count is up to now, maybe a year or two, but when it is full, God will punish again. This is how it is and no one can deny this. It is forbidden to say that this is not so.” 18
18 . Rabbi Shach’s statement was cited on December 29, 1990, in Yated Ne’eman, a newspaper that he cofounded . A fuller transcript of his remarks can be found in Mussar Eruai Ha-Tekufah (Bnai Brak, Israel: 2011), 35– 38.
Telushkin, Joseph (2014-06-10). Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History (Kindle Locations 2664-2671). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. 
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In characteristic fashion, the Rebbe never responded to Rabbi Shach by name, though he did offer a full speech in repudiation of his comment that the Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust were being punished for both their and their ancestors’ sins. In the Rebbe’s words, “as regards the awful events of the last generation [i.e., the Holocaust], it is clear and obvious (barur ve-pashut) that they did not come as punishment.” 22 He returned to this issue again: “To say that those very people were deserving of what transpired, that it was a punishment for their sins, heaven forbid, is unthinkable. There is absolutely no explanation or understanding for the Holocaust. . . . Certainly not the explanation of a judgment and punishment. No scales of judgment could ever condemn a people to such horrors.” Instead of speaking of the supposed sins of the six million (and their ancestors), the Rebbe spoke of each of the Holocaust victims as martyrs who had died al kiddush Hashem, “in sanctification of God’s Name.” 23 Why , then, did God permit the Holocaust? As the Rebbe once answered a correspondent who challenged him with this question: “The only answer we can give is ‘Only God knows.’ ” 24 Furthermore, the Rebbe emphasized that evil sometimes reflects rather the ability of evil human beings to misuse their free will. Commenting on the promise offered in Deuteronomy 32: 43, “For He [God] will avenge the blood of his servants,” the Rebbe noted that the very wording of the Torah verse suggests that the death of these “servants” is against God’s will; that is why He will avenge it. In a comment that serves as a response to the view that God was counting the Jewish people’s sins, the Rebbe said, “God forbid that one should picture God as a cruel king who punishes His people for their disobedience and then waits until it mounts again to the point at which it is fitting to punish them again.” 25 Rather, in the Rebbe’s view, God should be depicted not as “the Master of punishment” but as “the Master of mercy.” 26

Telushkin, Joseph (2014-06-10). Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History (Kindle Locations 2709-2728). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
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Rav Shach's words - from מוסר אירועי התקופה found at Hebrew Books

This is Rav Hutner's explanation. However it has some serious errors of historical facts as Prof Lawrence Kaplan explained in Tradition


Rambam (Moreh Nevuchim 2:48): It is very clear that everything that happens must have something that caused it. That cause must itself have a cause. This chain continues until we arrive at the original cause - namely G d’s will and desire. Because ultimately everything is caused by G d, the prophets sometime attribute things caused by intermediate factors as being caused by G d. All of this is well known and this is in fact the view of the men of Torah…. You should know that all proximate causes which produce that which is produced - with no distinction made between whether the intermediately causes are essential, natural, free will (of man or animal) or accident - they are all attributed by the prophets to G d. For example natural events such as the snow melting from the warm air or waves created by the wind are described by the prophets as being commanded by G d as is the falling of the rain… Concerning that which is caused by man’s free will such as war between two nations or one person attempting to harm or even insult another person - the prophets describe it as the result of G d’s command. … When Yosef was freed from prison the prophet said that G d sent a king and freed him. Furthermore Yosef said to his brothers that they had not sent him to Egypt but rather G d had. We also find that events caused by the desires of animals are described as being caused by G d such as “G d spoke to the fish” (Yonah 2:11) since G d in fact initiate the desire of the animal. Even things which are accidental from pure chance are attributed to G d. For example concerning Rivkah, “Let her be your master’s son’s wife as G d has spoken (Bereishis 24:51). And Yosef said that “G d sent me before you” (Bereishis 45:7).

Chovas HaLevavos (3:8): I have found in books information about Divine compulsion, decree, rulership, and will. They state that everything is controlled by G d from mineral, plant and animal to human beings. Tehilim (135:6): G d does whatever He wants to do in Heaven and earth…. There are many similar verses that teach this idea that man and other creatures were prepared merely to adorn the world. That they move only with His permission, with His power, and with His ability. … Our sages had intense debates about how to reconcile Divine compulsion and Divine justice… Some held man has total free will and that is why man receives reward and punishment. Others held the opposite that everything is determined by G d… When this latter group is asked about reward and punishment they respond that it is a mystery but G d is just in whatever He does… There is a third group which believes in both Divine compulsion and Divine justice. But they add that whoever delves into the matter cannot avoid sin and trouble no matter how he attempts to explain the matter. They claim that the best approach is to have full faith that man has full free will and will be rewarded and punished for his deeds… but at the same time to have the full trust in G d as one who believes that everything is fully determined by G d. Furthermore to believe that G d can make claims against man but man cannot demand anything of G d. This position is closer to resolving the problem than the others. That is because our ignorance of G d’s wisdom is well known because of the weakness of our minds and the limited awareness. But in fact our ignorance is the means by which G d shows His kindness to us and that is why it is hidden from us. Because if there was any benefit in revealing this secret then G d would have revealed it to us.

Kuzari (5:20): … The Prime Will is manifest when the Divine Presence is amongst the Jews. However after the destruction of the Temple it became doubtful - except in the hearts of those who have faith - whether specific events were the result of the direct command of G d or the Heavenly spheres or were accidents. There is no definitive way to resolve this issue. Nonetheless it is best to attribute everything that happens to G d, especially major things such as death, victory, war, success and bad fortune.

Rabbeinu Bachye (Kad HaKemach Bitachon): An aspect of bitachon in G d is that even when a person has wealth, possessions, peace of mind and honor - he should not assume that this is reward for his good deeds. Even if he is a complete tzadik, it is better to even consider himself wicked and ascribe all the good entirely to the kindness of G d. On the other hand, if he suffers calamities or is attacked by bandits he should not view it as simply bad luck…. Such a response is the path of heresy. Rather he should ascribe the suffering to his many sins. In fact, if he insists that his suffering is merely bad luck, G d will give him additional “bad luck”… 

Rambam (Taanis 1:3): But if a person doesn’t call out to Heaven and doesn’t blow shofar but simply says that the misfortune is entirely a natural event and the calamity simply happened, that is the way of cruelty and causes them to adhere to their evil deeds and to have even more suffering. As the Torah (Vayikra 26:24) says “If you relate to Me as life was full of accidental events than I will treat you as if everything is an accident.” In other words G d will bring on you additional suffering so that you will repent if you say that the suffering is just accidental.

28 comments :

  1. There are numerous problems with the claim that the Holocaust was a punishment. I believe the Rambam (in Shmoneh Perekim if I recall) and also the Ramban explain that Mitzraim committed great evil against the Jews of its own free will and was severely punished by Hashem. If Nazi Germany had been doing the will of Hashem, it would not have been utterly and ruthlessly destroyed by the Allied powers. I have a DVD documentary that shows large German cities as a huge sea of fire after massive Allied bombings.

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  2. "Chabad and its alleged deviance from acceptable theology. What seems to be happening is that Chabad follows views which at one time were common or viewed as legitimate. Over time some of these views fell out of favor of the yeshiva world. "

    While Lubavitch would like you to believe that, and perhaps some of the deviations could be explained in such a manner, such a conceptual framework is insufficient to encompass all of the differences in practice and theology between them and others.

    "Furthermore, the Rebbe emphasized that evil sometimes reflects rather the ability of evil human beings to misuse their free will. Commenting on the promise offered in Deuteronomy 32: 43, “For He [God] will avenge the blood of his servants,” the Rebbe noted that the very wording of the Torah verse suggests that the death of these “servants” is against God’s will"

    One of the things that Lubavitch repeats and stresses, which they claim as a great contribution of the Baal Shem Tov and Chasidus, is their view of hashgacha pratis. They say that even if a leaf falls on the ground that is be'hashgacha. That differs from shitos of others, early authorities, rishonim, like the Rambam, the Netziv, etc.

    So if they say that everything is behashgacha pratis, how can the Rebbe say that about the holocaust?

    Actually, I think what you wrote in the beginning of this post, about 'following views which at one time were common or viewed as legitimate. Over time some of these views fell out of favor' describes Rav Schach's position here I would say, and not that of Chabad Lubavitch.

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  3. This particular debate was just before the 1st gulf war. It was when Saddam Hussein threatened to burn half of Israel, and in fact fired scuds which did not kill anyone, B'H.

    At the same time the Rebbe did make a remarkable prediction, that Israel would be safe, and there was no need to leave the country.
    The question, I think is also a key to understanding R' Shach. R' Shach was strongly opposed to Zionism, the State of Israel, and the Army. He also saw danger - real or imagined - in allowing the fact of the new State justify changes in halacha or minhag. I suggest that this was the basis for his and others' opposition to R' Goren who saw the State of Israel as being a significant turning point towards the Geula, and made halachic changes in light of this.
    One can see there is some basis to R @shach's point of view, even if one disagrees. If the State or other ideology become Messianic, and changes are made, then this can lead to Sabbateanism.
    It is also interesting that the fearmongering before the gulf war did not lead to anything, and the rebbe's prediction was quite accurate. Of course, that is not proven Nevua, I heard a Litvish R'Y say that Jerusalem is the safest place in the world, using similar arguments to the Rebbe - before this happened.

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  4. It's funny how Telushkin and Rabbi Shneerison took a leap of faith and extended Rav Schach's words to something Rav Schach did not say.

    Rav Schach said it was an accumulation of sins of hundreds, hundreds of years. Yesh din, v'yesh Dayan. Rav Schahc never spoke of specific sins that the six million themselves committed. But when we were, God forbid!, entrenched in sins of forefathers that have been committed and become entrenched over hundreds of years, yes, it unfortunately brought about the Holocaust.

    Rabbi Shneerison posited that there isn't any reason for the Holocaust. Nothing for us to learn. According to Rabbi Shneerison, Hakodosh Boruch Hu is a vatron. What does the Gemora (Boba Kama 50) say about this?

    But what is more, is to suggest that people - six million! - could be killed even if Hashem chose to keep them alive. Just, that evil people can somehow trump Hashem's Will. It certainly is kefirah to me.

    There is a remedy, though. If we decide that god (lower case intentional) is encased in a human, say he is the rebbe, then yes, that human is not Almighty, and when things don't go his way it is due to the free will of evil people. People can do what that self-declared god (lower case intentional) does not permit to be perpetrated.



    It is clearly at odds with currently accepted Jewish theology. Was there ever a time when accepted Jewish theology was otherwise? When and where? Thank you.

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  5. Rabbi Avigdor Miller said many times that the holocaust was a divine punishment. He explained how in the prewar years there was a tremendous amount of Jews who were going otd....

    There is also the famous Meshech Chochmah in parshas B'chukosai where he write about the history cycles and specifically says "choshvim sh'berlin hu Yerushalayim..."

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  6. This question was already dealt with by the Rambam and Ramban in regards to why the Egyptians were punished for enslaving klal Yisroel and all the evils that they inflicted on them since they were doing the will of Hashem yisborach as expressed in the bris bain habesorim.

    One holds that megalgelim chov al yidei chayav which means a wicked party is selected to do evil deeds and Egypt was the wicked party selected.

    The other holds that the Egyptians went beyond the limits of what was prophesied and did more harm than warranted.

    Both things are true with relation to the German people and they fully deserve any punishment possible.

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  7. Rav Schach's position may be Onaat devarim. אם היו יסורין באין עליו, אם היו חלאים באין עליו, או שהיה מקבר את בניו, אל יאמר לו כדרך שאמרו לו חביריו לאיוב: 'הלא יראתך כסלתך תקותך ותום דרכיך, זכר נא מי הוא נקי אבד
    Either way, R Schneersohn's view does not break with traditional Jewish views of "we don't understand God's reasons."
    I am far more bothered by his changing Judaism from God based to Messiah based. The Lubavitcher Chassidim that I know do Mitzvot to bring Mashiach as opposed to doing because it is God's will.

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  8. Rav Schach's position may be Onaat devarim. אם היו יסורין באין עליו, אם היו חלאים באין עליו, או שהיה מקבר את בניו, אל יאמר לו כדרך שאמרו לו חביריו לאיוב: 'הלא יראתך כסלתך תקותך ותום דרכיך, זכר נא מי הוא נקי אבד

    Incorrect. He never threw it at a specific person. Rav Schach clearly said that it was an accumulation of hundreds of years. This is very different than what Iyov's chaveirim said.

    In fact, if Rav Schach would not have spoken about this, he would have been guilty of achzorios. As the Rambam in the begining of Hilchos Taanis teaches us:

    אבל אם לא יזעקו ולא יריעו אלא יאמרו דבר זה ממנהג העולם אירע לנו וצרה זו נקרה נקרית. הרי זו דרך אכזריות וגורמת להם להדבק במעשיהם הרעים. ותוסיף הצרה צרות אחרות. הוא שכתוב בתורה והלכתם עמי בקרי והלכתי גם אני עמכם בחמת קרי. כלומר כשאביא עליכם צרה כדי שתשובו אם תאמרו שהיא קרי אוסיף לכם חמת אותו קרי:

    I am far more bothered by his changing Judaism from God based to Messiah based. The Lubavitcher Chassidim that I know do Mitzvot to bring Mashiach as opposed to doing because it is God's will.

    That is a different topic. There is another thread for it.
    http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2014/07/chabad-serious-issues-that-need-to-be.html

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  9. Rav shachs approach has strong mesorah. Check out this from feumteens moderator:
    http://vintagefrumteens.blogspot.com/2006/08/schar-vonesh-holocaust-chochom-ovadia.html?m=1

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  10. And here:
    http://classic.frumteens.com/topic.php?topic_id=105&forum_id=17&topic_title=Rav+Ovadia%27s+Comment+on+the+Holocaust&forum_title=Punishment&M=0

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  11. "I mentioned above, thorughout history, we have aleays sought out the reasons for our sufferings, regardless of whether - and especially in a case where! - the sufferings were horrific.

    The Churban Bayis was attributed to SInas Chinam -- was that "heartless?"

    And what does it mean that its hearltess to identify a "reason" for the suffering of millions of Jews. How many Jewish deaths is it OK to identify reasons for? Nobody in the history of Klall Yisroel ever said that a tragedy was "too big" to identify a reason for it. Why does the amount of people who suffered change the rule of ain misah blo chet? And at what point does it change?"

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  12. "
    Had he merely said that he does not know the reason, or he believes that others cannot know, that would be one discussion, but surely he conceds there is a reason - G-d surely does nto hurt people for no reason! - and so why is it "heartless" to be knowledgable enough to know what that reason is? It makes no sense.

    The oppositeis true -- if I suffered c"v, I would want ot know the reason I am suffering so that I should not suffer any more. If I went to a doctor and he told me the reaosn I got sick I would thank him. If a doctor was wise enough to figure out why an epidemic took place, we would be grateful. And the bigger the tragedy c"v, the bigger the hero would be the man who would tell us what made it happen.

    If someone would withold from me the reason I have suffered, him I would call heartless, because he would be witholding the key to prevent it from happening again.

    As the Chavas Daas writes in the introduction to his commentary on Eichah, there is no point whatsoever to recount tragedies unless we at the same time recount the reasons that caused them, in order to ensure that we are careful not to allow them to happen once more.

    And besides --- there were Gedolei Yisroel predicted the holocaust because of the aveiros that were happening. So these reaosns were already known. "

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  13. Here's the original shtikel from rav shach:
    http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=52045&st=&pgnum=35*

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  14. There is a current controversy in the US regarding should doctors tell patients they have alzheimers. Similar controversy re breast cancer gene.

    Same with dor yeshorim, they claim gedolim told them not to tell people they are carriers, so theyset up system of code numbers, even though this violates medical ethics codes.

    So here "gedoim" advocate don't tell, there they advocate tell (according to r schach).

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  15. Rabbi Eidensohn,

    Much of what you discuss here, in addition to many more sources, are discussed in this article:

    http://www.collive.com/files/0.97649354935_1754554.pdf



    See especially page 13 and onward.

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  16. While I haven’t had the chance yet to read this particular post in great detail, I believe I can shed some light on the subject.

    First of all, some important facts:

    1) When Rav Shach came under fire for his statements, his defenders asserted that he was following in the example of the Neviyim.

    2) Rav Shach didn’t just say that bad things happen because of sin; he said that Hashem sits with a counter, slowly accumulating sins, until he finally reaches the quota necessary to bring another holocaust.

    3) The Lubavitcher Rebbe’s predecessor, R. Yosef Yitzchak (‘Frierdiker Rebbe’, ‘Rayatz’) very publicly spent the wartime years promoting the view that the holocaust was a response to Jewish sin.

    4) Prior to this spat, the Rebbe’s view stated in talks and letters was that the holocaust was justified based on either on the victim’s sins, or, in the case of righteous, like a ‘slap in the face’ of klal yisroel in response to sin. At the same time the Rebbe emphasized that since Hashem has different ways of responding to sin, we shouldn’t overly justify the holocaust and we should implore Hashem to respond more gently.

    Now, to examine both positions during this dispute:

    a) Rav Shach, as cited above, stated that Hashem was waiting to bring another holocaust, indicating that the gulf war would result in such an event. When criticized, his supporters explained that he was following in the tradition of the Neviyim. Now the truth is, that like every other subject, the Torah’s (Tanach, Chazal, Rishonim, etc.) statements are so diverse as to support many conflicting positions. There are, of course the pesukim of the tochacha. On the other hand, there are maamarei chazal about malachim claiming that certain tzaros were unjustified, with Hashem responding: ‘Shtok, kach ala b’machshava.’ I believe there is too large a spectrum of possibly applicable statements and I therefore don’t think that the answers to the question of ‘how to understand the holocaust?’ lie in pesukim or Chazals or even machashava works, but in examining previous responses by Rishonim and Acharonim to similar tragedies. I’m fairly certain that the typical response was either to point to a particular laxity (speaking in shul by the Tosfos Yom Tov comes to mind) or perhaps not to make any major claim at all. I don’t think any Rishon or Acharon claimed that Hashem simply accumulates sins over large periods of time from vast segments of klal yisroel and then attacks suddenly. I’m also not familiar with any rishon or acharon predicting upcoming tragedies in that vein. It seems to me that what Rav Shach said was extremely unique both in explaining a previous tragedy, and predicting another one. Even the other gedolim who saw sin as a cause for the holocaust didn’t see it as Hashem’s systematic response, but as Hashem inscrutable ways coupled with the results of our sins. It’s certainly true that no other modern gadol made statements similar to Rav Shach’s either before or after this episode. And it seems even his defenders didn’t think his statements fit into a template other than that of the Neviyim, i.e. those with privileged knowledge, not those interpreting Jewish sources, or following the tradition of the classic Jewish response to tragedy.

    To be continued, be”H.

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  17. While I haven’t had the chance yet to read this particular post in great detail, I believe I can shed some light on the subject.


    Really? How so - by making baseless assertions. You are completely inventing anything that was said. Nice try, though.

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  18. The complete speech is in B'zos Ani Boteach. The next speech right after this one, which was given at about the same time seems relevant as well.

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  19. Rav Dovid Gottlieb from yeshiva ohr sameach has audios [1] "Evil as a Necesary Means [2] Reality and Evil and [3] Explaining The Holocaust http://www.dovidgottlieb.com/Rabbi_Gottlieb_Tapes.html

    Among his teachings - all sourced with the sources we all accept- are that the number of people suffering is not a theological problem: the theological problem is undeserved suffering and every "piece" of suffering requires justification- and we believe G-d can justify every "piece" of suffering, even though we don't know how each individual's suffering is justified. The separate issue is how G-d decides to "hit" klal Yisroel- that second issue isn't the same as how g-d is just and yet people seem ot be receiving undeserved suffering.
    Rabbi Gottlieb explains the two separate issues in some detail. Much time is explained why an individual calculation is one issue G-d can't understand His justice and therefore we can't understand how how each individual deserves it. So whether it is 6 million, or 6 trillion, or a 6 thousand person holocaust, the same theological problem exists: the justification of each piece of suffering.

    Are we to believe that sefer eichah attributing the klal's suffering to sin is correct, and all of the tanach attrivuting klal yisroel getting "hit" as a result of sin is correct, but because the holocaust was 6 million then the primary reason is not sin? batus rishon and shein is at its core is told on account of sin but not the holocaust? were all the suffering children in bayis rishon and sheini, the descriptions in sefer eichah, justifiable when pinned on sin, but the holocaust no? obviously it is difficult to understand a criticism of Rav Shach: Rav shach is not explaining G-d's ultimate justification for hitting each individual in terms of the individual's undeserved suffering ( again, as Rabbi Gottlieb explains, G-d's explanation for the suffering of each individual is one issue, and the explanation of why klal yisroel get a punishment by being hit as a klal ( as a group) are two different subjects. When Hashem hit the klal yisroel by causing her to lose the battle of Ai, Yehoshua asks Hashem why kla yisroel was punished and Hashem responds " Israel has sinned...". Then we are informed it was one person who sinned, but Hashem calls it "Israel has sinned" but Hashem doesnt justify WHY each individual among the 36 JEWS who were killed in battle were allowed to be killed in battle.
    Now learn sefer eichah.
    and then think who's explanation for Klal Yisroel being hit as a klal rings closer to the history of the Klal Yisroel...remembering all the while that the reason for the individual's suffering is, we always learned, was kept from Moshe Rabbeinu

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  20. Rav Dovid Gottlieb from yeshiva ohr sameach has audios [1] "Evil as a Necesary Means [2] Reality and Evil and [3] Explaining The Holocaust http://www.dovidgottlieb.com/Rabbi_Gottlieb_Tapes.html

    Among his teachings - all sourced with the sources we all accept- are that the number of people suffering is not a theological problem: the theological problem is undeserved suffering and every "piece" of suffering requires justification- and we believe G-d can justify every "piece" of suffering, even though we don't know how each individual's suffering is justified. The separate issue is how G-d decides to "hit" klal Yisroel- that second issue isn't the same as how g-d is just and yet people seem ot be receiving undeserved suffering.
    Rabbi Gottlieb explains the two separate issues in some detail. Much time is explained why an individual calculation is one issue and why the klal is a second calculation. We can't understand why Hashem allows an individual to receive pain, but Hashem told us all throughout tanach that whenever klal yisroel is "hit" as a klal...it is laways becasue of sin. So whether it is 6 million, or 6 trillion, or a 6 thousand person holocaust, the same theological problem exists for each individual: the justification of each piece of suffering.

    Are we to believe that sefer eichah attributing the klal's suffering to sin is correct, and all of the tanach attrivuting klal yisroel getting "hit" as a result of sin is correct, but because the holocaust was 6 million then the primary reason is not sin? bayis rishon and sheini we are told in our mesorah is due to sin, but not the holocaust? Were all the suffering children in bayis rishon-the descriptions in sefer eichah- and then bayis shein- the descriptions of the reasons noted by Chazal- justifiable when pinned on sin, but the holocaust no ( ie. with regard to the klal) ? Obviously it seems incomprehensible to criticize Rav Shach. Rav shach is not explaining G-d's ultimate justification for hitting each individual in terms of the individual's undeserved suffering - he is explaining why klal yisroel gets "hit" as a klal ( a group) versus the individual are two different subjects.
    When Hashem hit the klal yisroel by causing her to lose the battle of Ai, Yehoshua asks Hashem why klal yisroel was punished and Hashem responds " Israel has sinned...". Then we are informed it was one person who sinned, but Hashem calls it "Israel has sinned" but Hashem doesnt justify WHY each individual among the 36 JEWS who were killed in battle were allowed to be killed in battle!
    Now learn sefer eichah.
    and then think who's explanation for Klal Yisroel being hit as a klal rings closer to the history of the Klal Yisroel...remembering all the while that the reason for the individual's suffering is, we always learned, was kept from Moshe Rabbeinu.

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  21. Rav Dovid Gottlieb from yeshiva ohr sameach has audios [1] "Evil as a Necesary Means [2] Reality and Evil and [3] Explaining The Holocaust
    http://www.dovidgottlieb.com/Rabbi_Gottlieb_Tapes.html


    Among his teachings - all sourced with the sources we all accept- are that the number of people suffering is not a theological problem: the theological problem is undeserved suffering and every "piece" of suffering requires justification- and we believe G-d can justify every "piece" of suffering, even though we don't know how each individual's suffering is justified. The separate issue is how G-d decides to "hit" klal Yisroel- that second issue isn't the same as how g-d is just and yet people seem ot be receiving undeserved suffering.

    Rabbi Gottlieb explains the two separate issues in some detail. Much time is explained why an individual calculation is one issue and why the klal is a second calculation. We can't understand why Hashem allows an individual to receive pain, but Hashem told us all throughout tanach that whenever klal yisroel is "hit" as a klal...it is laways becasue of sin. So whether it is 6 million, or 6 trillion, or a 6 thousand person holocaust, the same theological problem exists for each individual: the justification of each piece of suffering.


    Are we to believe that sefer eichah attributing the klal's suffering to sin is correct, and all of the tanach attrivuting klal yisroel getting "hit" as a result of sin is correct, but because the holocaust was 6 million then the primary reason is not sin? bayis rishon and sheini we are told in our mesorah is due to sin, but not the holocaust? Were all the suffering children in bayis rishon-the descriptions in sefer eichah- and then bayis shein- the descriptions of the reasons noted by Chazal- justifiable when pinned on sin, but the holocaust no ( ie. with regard to the klal) ? Obviously it seems incomprehensible to criticize Rav Shach. Rav shach is not explaining G-d's ultimate justification for hitting each individual in terms of the individual's undeserved suffering - he is explaining why klal yisroel gets "hit" as a klal ( a group) versus the individual are two different subjects.

    When Hashem hit the klal yisroel by causing her to lose the battle of Ai, Yehoshua asks Hashem why klal yisroel was punished and Hashem responds " Israel has sinned...". Then we are informed it was one person who sinned, but Hashem calls it "Israel has sinned" but Hashem doesnt justify WHY each individual among the 36 JEWS who were killed in battle were allowed to be killed in battle!

    Now learn sefer eichah.

    and then think who's explanation for Klal Yisroel being hit as a klal rings closer to the history of the Klal Yisroel...remembering all the while that the reason for the individual's suffering is, we always learned, was kept from Moshe Rabbeinu.

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  22. Since OT Bachur is challenging where he made baseless assertions, I'll highlight a few.

    First of all, some important facts:

    1) When Rav Shach came under fire for his statements, his defenders asserted that he was following in the example of the Neviyim.




    So this is his first "fact".


    Who are these supposed defenders? Are these supposed defenders representative of Rav Schach?

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  23. Somebody told me to look in Rav Schwab's book on Tefillah, on the words "א-ל עליון", where he writes his view on how we should approach the Holocaust. Unfortunately I do not have this Sefer - does anyone have it, and could they perhaps tell me/us what it says?

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  24. If you continue being rude and obnoxious, you will henceforth be (deservedly) ignored.

    You ask who the defenders are; the answer is articles in Yaten Ne'eman at the time. You say that what they say is not what Rav Shach said; I'm not sure what your point is. Rav Shach was criticized for predicting guaranteed imminent doom which is unlike the conduct of any gadol before or since, and so Yaten Ne'eman responded by saying that Rav Shach was continuing in the tradition of the Neviyim who acted similarly.


    You go on to claim I'm somehow misrepresenting Rav Shach's words. But I'm not. He didn't say that sin results in punishment. He specifically said that Hashem sits and counts, waiting for X number of sins so he can bring a holocaust, and then he resets the counter and starts over again. Whereas the Rambam in hilchos teshuva (3:2) writes that Hashem has a proprietary calculation system for weighing merits against sins, and that it's impossible to know the calculation. So Hashem isn't some malevolent G-d counting sins in anticipation of the next holocaust, but counts merits equally with sins, and gives each one its own unknown weight, meaning that there is no reason to assume that the odds of a holocaust happening increase with time no matter how many sins are perpetrated.

    Moreover, you seem to conflate 'all sin leads to punishment' with 'all punishment results from sin'. The Lubavitcher Rebbe consistently (for close to 90 years before the gulf war) pointed to sin as a factor in the holocaust, and told thousands of people who turned to him with problems to rectify areas in which their halacha observance was lax. To even imply that the Rebbe denied that sin leads to punishment is nothing more than a deliberately obtuse distortion intended to smear. The Rebbe's response to Rav Shach was to specifically condemn the notion that all suffering is inherently a proportionate response to sin, because Jewish sources indicate that Hashem has a complex, inscrutable system for determining suffering - not a simplistic sin-counter, and that there is no way of predicting further suffering on a similar scale. Indeed, we (and especially tzadikim) can either use our words (which have real power) to wish blessing and success on Jews, or we have the choice to predict horror and curse. The Lubavitcher Rebbe chose to bless.

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  25. See the link i posted before. R. Schwab's words are quoted there.

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  26. Thank you - nevertheless, לשם השלמת הענין it would be nice if somebody could add the piece from the Siddur.

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  27. If you continue being rude and obnoxious, you will henceforth be (deservedly) ignored.

    Alright. It's your choice.

    I'm sorry that you feel hurt.

    Rav Shach was... predicting guaranteed imminent doom

    Did you read the whole speech in B'zos Ani Boteach? It begins on page 79. Please read it. Rav Schach absolutely did not predict "guaranteed imminent doom". It was an uplifting speech. Read it!

    In fact, he finished off by saying that there is an eitzah to be saved from all possible calamities, C"V. Shuvu Ailay, v'Oshuvu aleichem!

    To remember that all of what Chaza"l taught us is completly kodosh. Their words are true, and ever existent. Let's not deviate, and that is our hope.

    The sefer on top only quotes sever paragraphs and does not indicate when a bunch of paragraphs were skipped/omitted.

    He also spoke about why is this being mentioned in Yeshiva - what relevance does it have to talmidim of Yeshiva? His answer is beautiful.

    (The next speech, is also quite relevant to this discussion.)

    He specifically said that Hashem sits and counts, waiting for X number of sins so he can bring a holocaust

    Again, in the speech he gave he began by discussing the precision of each word of Hashem's words, the Torah. How much was created with Yud.....

    Even the cervix of the letter Lamed teaches us so much (Chagigah 15:).

    After eight paragraphs, Rav Schach said, if someone would ask - "the Torah says that sins receive punishments - why don't I see [immediate] punishment to sins"?

    To this he discussed the Middah of Erech Apei-im, how Hashem often waits to deliver retribution (which gives us the opportunity to reverse course etc...).

    But, there is no vitur. It is all with a cheshbon.

    Then he asked the question about the Holocaust, as can be seen above.

    Whereas the Rambam in hilchos teshuva (3:2) ....meaning that there is no reason to assume that the odds of a holocaust happening increase with time no matter how many sins are perpetrated.

    This is absolutely not in the Rambam. Please post an exact quote. Thank you.

    Moreover, you seem to conflate 'all sin leads to punishment' with 'all punishment results from sin'. The Lubavitcher Rebbe consistently (for close to 90 years before the gulf war) pointed to sin as a factor in the holocaust, and told thousands of people who turned to him with problems to rectify areas in which their halacha observance was lax.

    I was going based on what Telushkin quotes above. If Rabbi Schneerison did attribute tragedy to sin, that is very nice. Is it, as one Lubavitcher told me, that Rabbi Schneerison had lost some of his mind and lucidity towards the end of his life, and that's what this speech Telushkin quotes is about?

    The speech, the way Telushkin quotes it, is problematic. Rabbi Eidensohn sought to answer it. You seem to agree with his explanation.


    And yes, all sin does lead to punishment - unless we earn Hashem's forgiveness (Mechilah, Selichah vKaparah).

    Indeed, we (and especially tzadikim) can either use our words (which have real power) to wish blessing and success on Jews, or we have the choice to predict horror and curse.



    If you read the speech, you'll see that it does finish off with blessings and hope. But the speech was an absolute encouragement to better ourselves. Shuvu Aylai, v'Oshuvu aleichem.


    I wish you well. May you blessed with only good things, clarity and great closeness to Hashem and His Ways.

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  28. 1) While your tone seems to have improved a bit, you more than 'compensated' by your offensive claim about the Lubavitcher Rebbe's 'lucidity'; how ironic considering that everyone knows which of the two gedolim was hale and hearty until he was silenced by a stroke, and which slowly lost control over his body and mind in public until he was 'retired'.

    2) Telling people to do teshuva or else Hashem is planning their upcoming devastation isn't uplifting. Stating that bnei Torah will be spared doesn't make the words less spiteful. The lengthy context you provide doesn't change the fact that Rav Shach imagined Hashem as counting down to the next holocaust, something which is unparalleled in Jewish history. Moreover, in the context of when he was speaking, the implication was the the gulf war would be the catalyst for the upcoming holocaust.

    3) You request that I cite the Rambam, and you insist that my own (obvious) conclusion isn't part of the exact quote. Which is obvious, since it is, as stated, my own (obvious) conclusion:

    כל אחד ואחד מבני האדם, יש לו זכייות ועוונות, מי שזכייותיו יתרות על עוונותיו, צדיק; ומי שעוונותיו יתרות על זכייותיו, רשע; מחצה למחצה, בינוני. וכן המדינה - אם היו זכייות כל יושביה מרובות על עוונותיהם, הרי זו צדקת; ואם היו עוונותיהם מרובין, הרי זו רשעה. וכן כל העולם כולו. אדם שעוונותיו מרובין על זכייותיו - מיד הוא מת ברשעו, שנאמר "על רוב עוונך". וכן מדינה שעוונותיה מרובין - מיד היא אובדת, שנאמר "זעקת סדום ועמורה, כי רבה". וכן כל העולם כולו, אם היו עוונותיהם מרובין, מיד הן נשחתין, שנאמר "וירא ה', כי רבה רעת האדם". ושיקול זה אינו לפי מניין הזכייות והעוונות, אלא לפי גודלן, יש זכות שהיא כנגד כמה עוונות, שנאמר "יען נמצא בו דבר טוב"; ויש עוון שהוא כנגד כמה זכייות, שנאמר "וחוטא אחד, יאבד טובה הרבה". ואין שוקלין אלא בדעתו של אל דעות, והוא היודע היאך עורכין הזכייות כנגד העוונות.

    Therefore, only a navi can know whether Hashem's current calculation indicate imminent doom. And if we have ahavas yisroel, we must otherwise assume at any given moment that Hashem is currently giving our aveiros less weight, preventing harm from befalling us. As I said, 'there is no reason to assume that the odds of a holocaust happening increase with time no matter how many sins are perpetrated.'

    4) You state that you found your information about the Lubavitcher Rebbe's opinions not in the hundreds of volumes comprising his teachings but in a blogger's rendition of a book written by a conservative Rabbi published for a secular audience. I'm not sure what that says about you.

    5) Finally, sin certainly leads to punishment, but not 'all sin', as the Rambam writes above. Furthermore, not all punishment results from sin, as evidenced in scores of Jewish sources, and applied by the Lubavitcher Rebbe to the holocaust. I wish you well as well.

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