Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Why are there few Torah giants today? Rabbi Sternbuch explains


Edah Haharedit Rabbinical Court Judge Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch addressed in his lesson the reason for the small number of great Torah scholars in our generation, attributing this phenomenon to the absence of continuous diligence in Torah study.
"I heard from the great Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer that the world is wondering and asking why it is that our portion has worsened in that Torah giants don’t emerge from among our ranks as they did from the students of the Volozhin Yeshiva,” he said in a lesson delivered to students in Modi'in Illit, according the the haredi website JDN.


  1. that would explain a quantitative difference, eg it might take 4- 5 years to attain what was acheived in 3 years. It doesn't explain a qualitative difference, i.e. why even the Gedolim are lacklustre today.
    Plus, today, nobody is a Gadol until they hit their 90s, whereas in previous gnerations, they would be in their 30s and 40s already a recognized giant.

  2. good point
    so what is your answer?

  3. There are two answers
    1) It takes time to become a Gadol. We don't truly appreciate the ones amongst us until long after they're gone and their impact becomes apparent
    2) Politics ruins everything. The title of "Gadol" today is a political one. You have to belong to a specific community (Chareidi) and have specific political views in order to be considered for the position. The case of Rav Steinsaltz, shlit"a, is instructive. A man who is unrivalled in his Torah knowledge and passion for teaching, who revolutionized the world of learning with his books, yet isn't considered a "Gadol" because he doesn't identify as "Chareidi" or push the limited dogma.

  4. My answer will not please anyone reading it. But I have another question. A certain modern Rav who I approached regarding matters of emunah, said that there are some gedolim (though not everyone that is considered to be one) who have a level of wisdom/ knowledge beyond anything you can find amongst, let's say secular or non Jewish sages/ professors

    I find it hard to agree with. Rambam was a genius, but his philosophy was based on Arab and Greek scholars, medicine OK, but there was Avicenna. Astronomy, great but not greater than Galileo etc.
    Rav Hirsch also was a student of philosophy, and influenced by Hegel etc, and Rav soloveitchik was also a genius but his use of philosophy was only to give a modern view of Halacha.

    Rav kook was reported to have said that the secularists were doing Hashem's will in rebuilding a Jewish state , because the strictly orthodox did not have the physical capabilities to do so. Regardless of one's view on that specific matter, is possible that just like nevua disappeared, maybe gadlus in Torah disappeared _ and genius went to people like Einstein, Freud and their modern equivalents (if there are any)?

  5. R' Steinsaltz has written quantity, but he also makes a lot of misrepresentations. When the "Moshiach" campaign of theirs was at full strength, I asked him to explain their halachic basis for claiming the rebbe is Moshiach, and he was talking complete rubbish, falsifying the Rambam and the halacha.

  6. you seem to be expressing a view similar to rav Tzadok who states the rational discussions found in the Talmud represent a similar event in the non Jewish world


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