Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Failure of rabbinical leadership to see the consequences of their actions

Mesilas Yeshorim(Chapter 20): It is important to understand that one should not view an act of piety according to its initial consequences but he should examine and think about also the long-term consequences. That is because an action might initially look good but according to its consequences it is bad – so therefore he should avoid it. If he does it anyway, he is a sinner not a pious person. For example consider the incident with Gedalial ben Achichem. It is clear to us that because of his great piety he did not judge Yishmael for the bad and did not accept lashon harah…. The consequences were that he was killed and the Jewish people were dispersed in exile and the flicker of hope that remained – was extinguished. In fact the people that were killed as a result of his actions have been described as if he personally killed them. … We also find that the Second Temple was destroyed because of this type of unthinking piety. This was the incident of Bar Kamtza. It says in Gittin (56a) that the Rabbis thought that they should offer the blemished animal as a sacrifice. But R’ Zechariya ben Avkulas told them that they could not - because people would say that it is permissible to sacrifice a blemished animal. They said so we should kill this animal so it can’t be sacrificed. He replied that people will mistakenly think whenever a blemish is found in a sanctified animal it should be killed. Thus the animal was not sacrificed and the informer went to the Roman government and told them that the had Jews refused to offer the sacrifice. The Emperor came and destroyed Jerusalem. Thus the gemora concludes, “Because of the humility of R’ Zechariya, Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed and the Jews were sent in to Exile.” Thus we should not judge an act of piety solely by itself. We need to examine it carefully from all the perspectives that a person can think of until he judges it truly as to whether doing the deed is preferable to not doing it. This is found more commonly with the mitzva of chastisement (Vayikra 19:17). Many times a person will chastise another at a place or time when his words won’t be listened to and this will cause the person to strength his wicked behavior. In such a case the chastisement is not an act of piety but rather he should remain silent. That is why our Sages say (Yevamos 65b): Just as it is a mitzva to say chastisement when it will be heard it is also a mitzva not to say it when it won’t be heard. Thus while it is obvious that all Jews should be enthusiastic and run to do mitzva and to try to be involved in them – but there are times when this can lead to fights which actually debase the mitzva and causes a desecration of heaven. In such cases it is clear that the pious person should not try to do the mitzva and even avoid it – rather than causes a profanation of G‑d name.

[1]  מסילת ישרים (פרק כ): והנה מה שצריך להבין הוא כי אין לדון דברי החסידות על מראיהן הראשון, אלא צריך לעיין ולהתבונן עד היכן תולדות המעשה מגיעות, כי לפעמים המעשה בעצמו יראה טוב, ולפי שהתולדות רעות יתחייב להניחו, ולו יעשה אותו יהיה חוטא ולא חסיד. הנה מעשה גדליה בן אחיקם גלוי לעינינו שמפני רוב חסידותו שלא לדון את ישמעאל לכף חובה או שלא לקבל לשון הרע, אמר ליוחנן בן קרח שקר אתה דובר על ישמעאל (ירמיה מ'), ומה גרם? גרם שמת הוא ונפזרו ישראל וכבה גחלתם הנשארה, וכבר ייחס הכתוב הריגת אנשים אשר נהרגו אליו כאילו הרגם הוא, .... והבית השני גם הוא חרב ע"י חסידות כזה אשר לא נשקל במשקל צדק - במעשה דבר קמצא, אמרו (גיטין נו.): סבור רבנן לקרוביה, א"ל רבי זכריה בן אבקולס יאמרו בעלי מומין קריבין לגבי מזבח, סבור למקטליה א"ל רזב"א יאמרו מטיל מום בקדשים יהרג, בין כך ובין כך הלך אותו הרשע והלשין את ישראל, בא הקיסר והחריב ירושלים, והוא מה שאמר ר"י על זה: ענותנותו של ר' זכריה החריבה את ביתנו ושרפה את היכלנו והגליתנו. הרי לך שאין לדון בחסידות המעשה באשר הוא שם לבד, אך צריך לפנות כה וכה לכל הצדדין שיוכל שכל האדם לראות, עד שידון באמת איזה יכשר יותר העשיה או הפרישה. הנה התורה צותה (ויקרא יט:יז): "הוכח תוכיח את עמיתך", וכמה פעמים יכנס אדם להוכיח חטאים במקום או בזמן שאין דבריו נשמעים וגורם להם להתפרץ יותר ברשעם ולחלל ה' להוסיף על חטאתם פשע, הנה בכיוצא בזה אינו מן החסידות אלא לשתוק. וכך אמרו ז"ל (יבמות סה:): כשם שמצוה לומר דבר הנשמע, כך מצוה שלא לומר את שאינו נשמע. ראה פשוט הוא שראוי לכל אדם להיות מקדים ורץ לדבר מצוה ולהשתדל להיות מן העוסקים בה, אך הנה לפעמים יכול להולד מזה מריבה שיותר תתבזה המצוה, ויתחלל בה שם שמים ממה שיתכבד, בכיוצא בזה ודאי שחייב החסיד להניח את המצוה ולא לרדוף אחריה.


  1. Did the rabbis confer with the baal habattim to ask their opinion about the political consequences of failing to sacrifice the animal? The baal habattim might have said, If the Romans hear about it, they'll kill us all. History might have been different.

    I recommend a sefer, authored Rav Yom Tov Schwarz, ztl, "Eyes to See". Its a modern Mesillas Yeshorim.

    Elliot Pasik

  2. Rabbi Eidensohn:

    Would you mind explaining the history and current piskei halacha regarding being "mafkiah kiddushin"? Is it true that many well known Rabbonim recently indeed were mafkiah kiddushin (I saw a pdf posted on google that had signitures of many well known rabbonim/dayanim)? What do/did the Gedolim hold on this topic? Why is it so unclear if it has been done recently or not (if the Rabbonim did it, they must feel it is muttar to do- so why wouldn't they publicize it themselves)? There's another blog (by Rabbi Tropper) that states in the name of Rav Elyashiv that one who was mafkiah kiddushin can not sit as a dayan- have you confirmed these words? Can you explain the reason(s) why?

  3. Would you mind explaining the history and current piskei halacha regarding being "mafkiah kiddushin"? Is it true that many well known Rabbonim recently indeed were mafkiah kiddushi
    That is a tall order. You might want to start with "One Man's Judaism" written by R' Rackman who was the most formost proponent of the idea in practice. He writes there - he appreciates Rav Moshe Feinstein liberal attitutde toward annulment but that it would lead to a degradation of kedusha.

    this is clearly an issue where the consequences need to be examined carefully.

  4. You might want to start with "One Man's Judaism" written by R' Rackman who was the most formost proponent of the idea in practice....this is clearly an issue where the consequences need to be examined carefully.

    But what is YOUR halachic position? Do you know what the Gedolim in Eretz Yisrael hold/held regarding the issue? Can you confirm what is said in the name of Rav Elyashiv?

  5. meinyan leinyan beosso inyanNovember 30, 2009 at 8:43 PM

    This was discussed recently at length. It was Rav Belsky that organized a bittul kiddushin that was ultimately undone when the gedolim lashed out at him.

    The signatories rallied by Rav Belsky are hardly reputable rabbonim.

  6. Back in the heyday of the Jewish blogs there was an essay floating around called "Daas Torah and Daas Hedyot" which listed all the major events of the last few centuries and how each time that the former disagreed with the latter, the latter turned out to be right.

  7. Kalonymus HaQatanMay 18, 2022 at 5:53 PM

    Herein lies the truth.
    He is actually taking a bigger picture view of halacha- not jsut pecking at bits like a pigeon does.
    Think of the damage and destruction caused by those who say "don't speak loshon hara about rapists and sex abusers". how many lives are destroyed form this ostrich like behaviour?

  8. Kalonymus HaQatanMay 18, 2022 at 6:04 PM

    one of the factors is that the Dass Torah ideologues have fetishized halacha, and have substituted it for reality. Even rav Soloveitchik did this, despite him not being a follower of "Daas Torah".

    So they view daas Torah- halacha as being cause and effect on the outside world. In the early days ofcovid this is what they said , if they sit and learn, they will be protected from the virus. In europe, if they followed what the R'Ys and Rebbes said, they would be safe, but if they left for America or Israel they would be destroyed.
    Similarly, if someone needs their sleep, especially a teenager, then getitng up 2 hours earlier to go daven, will destroy the rest of their day.

    Not 1 rabbi i have ever spoken to about halacha has cared about "consequences".

  9. Kalonymus HaQatanMay 18, 2022 at 6:05 PM

    According to this article, most strict poskim are "rashaim"

  10. Well there's something to that, and it's in the intro to Igros Moshe but has been taken far beyond that.
    Psak determines reality. You bring a chicken to a posek because you're not sure about its kashrus. The posek makes a decision. If he says it's kosher, even if up in Heaven they're shouting "Dude, you missed a spot on the lung, it ain't kosher" that chicken is now kosher and refusing to eat it is an act of defiance against the Torah. The posek has determined reality and that reality is that the chicken is kosher.
    Where it's gone off the rails is how it's become like The Matrix - halakha is the true reality and if you notice actually reality is different then ignore it.
    So like in your example - the halakha is that Torah study and performing mitzvos protects one from harm. Do that and the Germans won't be able to touch you. Didn't quite work out like that.

  11. there are a lot of things, - I asked one of my Rosh Yeshivas once if their programme was to make "frum robots", which he denied - but when peopel are forced to follow every chumrah, then 10 new chumras on each old chumra, it creates robots. it doesn't create gedolim either, just lots of robots; those who refuse all the additions are looked down upon, and made into 2nd class apikorsim.
    btw, violence, eg the zealots on meah shearim, or in ponovezh are the unintended consequences of great rabbis a couple of generations ago who though they could keep on adding more and more repression , and making names for themselves with their new chumras.

  12. Wow!
    So much repression and so little violence?!
    I guess Putin is really Chareidi as are all white spremacists and BLM and ATIFa

  13. What were the consequences of kanoim burning the Rambam's seforim? Burning of the Talmud. See, this game goes back a long time.

  14. Maybe not Putin but BLM and Antifa are just secular versions of the Meah Shearon zealots if you look at their actions. They want something to be a certain way and if they don't get it, they riot and blame the victims for making them do it.

  15. Kalonymus HaQatanMay 19, 2022 at 1:16 AM

    Have MO students ever beaten up a hareidi rav? Or one of their own? Did RZ yeshiva boys ever attack satmar or NK, or other hareidim?

    The only example, whihc wsn't actually a beating, was when Dovid Cohen was trying to humiliate the Rav , and Hartman physically threw him out of the lecture hall. but it wasn't the kind of violence that is endemic in satmar or other hareidi groups.

  16. It shows simply MO has nothing worth fighting for

  17. Kalonymus HaQatanMay 19, 2022 at 1:11 PM

    Muslims, antifa, Putin...

  18. Kalonymus HaQatanMay 19, 2022 at 1:12 PM

    Or, it shows that the Netziv opposed zealotry and oneupmanship.

  19. Kalonymus HaQatanMay 19, 2022 at 4:52 PM

    your post

    The Netziv's Introduction to Bereishis

    is one of strongest statements for the need for Yashrus - even in the

    face of piety. He famously stated that the Temple was destroyed because

    of the fanatic tzadikim who viewed all those who disagreed with them as

    apikorsim who were subject to capital punishment.

    Rather G-d wanted tzadikim who were upright in the world.

    Because even if the non‑upright tzadikim were motivated by religious

    consideration - such conduct destroys the world. Therefore, this was the praise

    of the Avos that besides being tzadikim and chassidim and lovers of G‑d to the

    ultimate degree - they were also upright. That means that they conducted

    themselves in relation to the peoples of the world - even the debased idol

    worshippers - with love and were concerned about their welfare in regards to

    the preservation of Creation. This we see in the pleading of Avraham for the

    people of Sedom - even though he had total hatred for them because of their

    wickedness - nevertheless he wanted them to live…

  20. Kalonymus HaQatanMay 19, 2022 at 4:53 PM

    Netziv disagrees

  21. Kalonymus HaQatanMay 22, 2022 at 2:16 AM

    more zealots


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