Thursday, August 17, 2023

Do talmidei chachomim really insult and belittle each other?

I just received this letter which raises an important issue - the negative actions and comments which talmidei chachomim make about each other. It is a timely issue since during sefira Rabbi Akiva lost 24 thousand students because they did not treat each other with respect (Yevamos 62b).

There are explanations that try and show that at least the cases in the Talmud are not what they seem (Chavis Yair). That it wasn't that they insulted each other but they weren't as respectful as they should have been - and they are just judged more severely than others. However there is another approach which understands them as negative as they seem but tries to explain the purpose of the negativity.
Lichvod HaRav shlit"a

... I write to you because your Daas Torah volume is gevaldig and I have given it as a gift to numerous people. So I felt I could write to you and maybe get some directions or Mareh Mekomos.
I say some shiurim to yungerleit and one of the issues that has come up a number of times is קינטורים of the Chachomim in the Gemora. eg. at the end of Beitzah where they laughed at Rabbi Abba and many other places in Shass.
Besides for the Teshuvos Chavos Yair that the Chofetz Chaim brings at the end of the Sefer is there someone who discusses the issues at length that I could learn?
BeHokoroh VeRagshei Kovod
The simple answer is that Torah learning is based on an adversarial system which involves not only proving that others are wrong but is motivated in part by jealousy and showing that others are not as good or learned or righteous as they seem. [See Berachos (27b) where the Sages are described as warriors. Rashi says that is because they try to defeat each other in halachic discussion.] Furthermore Yuma (86b) says it is a mitzva to publicize the fact that certain talmidei chachomim or tzadikim - are not as big as they appear [publicizing hypocrites]- as can be seen from the sources below.

Berachos (28b) describes a prayer before learning "Our Rabbis taught: On entering what does a man say? ‘May it be Thy will, O Lord my God, that no offence may occur through me, and that I may not err in a matter of halachah and that my colleagues may rejoice in me and that I may not call unclean clean or clean unclean, and that my colleagues may not err in a matter of halachah and that I may rejoice in them’." Rashi says that the issue of rejoicing in the mistakes of others is meant literally. [You also might want to read the Seridei Aish's letters which were published by Dr. Marc Shapiro in Torah uMadda Journal ]

In fact the present Bostoner Rebbe told me that this is one of the differences between the Torah learning of Litvaks and Chassidim and why Litvaks are generally better scholars. When Litvaks learn Torah -  they learn primarily to determine what is truth. As a result the discussions get heated and each one tries with all his ability to show he is correct and the other is wrong. In contrast Chassidim learn primarily for the sake of the mitzva of Torah learning - to understand what the seforim say -  and there is much less heat and emotion.

יבמות סב: אמרו: שנים עשר אלף זוגים תלמידים היו לו לרבי עקיבא, מגבת עד אנטיפרס, וכולן מתו בפרק אחד מפני שלא נהגו כבוד זה לזה, והיה העולם שמם, עד שבא ר"ע אצל רבותינו שבדרום, ושנאה להם ר"מ ור' יהודה ור' יוסי ורבי שמעון ורבי אלעזר בן שמוע, והם הם העמידו תורה אותה שעה. תנא: כולם מתו מפסח ועד עצרת. אמר רב חמא בר אבא, ואיתימא ר' חייא בר אבין: כולם מתו מיתה רעה. מאי היא? א"ר נחמן: אסכרה.

מהרש"א חידושי אגדות (יבמות סב:) מפני שלא נהגו כבוד זה לזה כו' ולא חש כ"א מהם על כבוד תורה של חבירו דאין כבוד אלא תורה ולכך מתו במדה זו כי היא חייך גו' ואמרו שמתו במיתת אסכרה דאפשר דכ"א דיבר לשון הרע והיה מספר בגנות חבירו וסימן ללשון הרע אסכרה כדאמרינן פרק ב"מ ואמר שמתו בין פסח לעצרת להורות שמתו בהשגחה כי הוא הזמן ממוצע לבריאות וקרוב לרפואה כדאמרינן בשבת כל שקייני טבא בין דיבחא לעצרתא וק"ל:

במדרש רבה (קהלת י"א, ו') איתא שאמר לשבעת תלמידיו החדשים "הראשונים לא מתו אלא מפני שהיתה עיניהם צרה בתורה זה לזה, אתם לא תהיו כן, מיד עמדו ומלאו כל ארץ ישראל תורה", וטעם זה על כי היו צרי עין נתחדש לו אח"כ

קידושין (ל:): אמר רבי חייא בר אבא: אפי' האב ובנו, הרב ותלמידו, שעוסקין בתורה בשער אחד נעשים אויבים זה את זה, ואינם זזים משם עד שנעשים אוהבים זה את זה, שנאמר: את והב בסופה, אל תקרי בסופה אלא בסופה.

רש"י (קידושין ל:): נעשו אויבים - מתוך שמקשים זה לזה ואין זה מקבל דברי זה.

יומא (פו:): מפרסמין את החנפין מפני חילול השם, שנאמר ובשוב צדיק מצדקו ועשה עול ונתתי מכשול לפניו.

רש"י (יומא פו:): מפרסמין את החנפין - שהן רשעים ומראין עצמן כצדיקים, אם יש מכיר במעשיו מצוה לפרסמו מפני חילול השם, שבני אדם למידין ממעשיו, שסבורין עליו שהוא צדיק, ועוד, כשבא עליו פורענות בני אדם אומרים מה הועיל לו זכותו:

חפץ חיים (באר מים חיים - הלכות רכילות - כלל ט:ב.יז): ויעשה מעשה. שלא אמרו (יומא פו:) מצוה לפרסם את החנפים אלא לענין להזהיר לכתחלה שלא יבוא להתחבר עמו כדי שלא יבוא לידי הפסד, או אפילו אם כבר נתחבר עמו, והוא יודע את טבע האיש שהוא מספר לו שרק יחוש לדיבורו לענין לשמור את עצמו, אבל לא שיסובב לו על ידו היזק ממש ממה שלא היה בא לו אפילו אם היה מעיד עליו בב"ד לבד:

בבא בתרא (כא.): ואמר רבא: האי מקרי ינוקי דגריס, ואיכא אחרינא דגריס טפי מיניה - לא מסלקינן ליה, דלמא אתי לאיתרשולי. רב דימי מנהרדעא אמר: כ"ש דגריס טפי, קנאת סופרים תרבה חכמה.

שו"ע יורה דעה (רמה:יח): אם יש כאן מלמד שמלמד לתינוקות, ובא אחר טוב ממנו, מסלקין הראשון מפני השני.

בבא בתרא (כא:): אמר רב יוסף: ומודי רב הונא במקרי דרדקי דלא מצי מעכב, דאמר מר: (עזרא תיקן להן לישראל שיהו מושיבין סופר בצד סופר. וניחוש דילמא אתי לאיתרשולי. א"ל:) קנאת סופרים תרבה חכמה.

רש"י (ברכות כז:) בעלי תריסין - חכמים המנצחים זה את זה בהלכה 

רש"י (ברכות כח:): ולא אכשל - וישמחו חברי על כשלוני, הרי רעות שתים, שיבאו על ידי שאגרום להם שיענשו.


  1. Which letter of sridei aish?

    1. Just put a link to it in the post

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. "I find that as rule, if you go into a Satmerer Kollell, the serious learners are far far more learned and well versed in more Torah subjects than the serious learners in a Litvishe Kollell"
      First of all, I take serious offense to the comment of Katche-Lab. The premise is false, and the reasoning is warped, and whoever made that statement seemingly knows neither Satmer Kollelim or Litvishe Kollelim. What a horrible thing to say! And a defamatory lie! By the way, I find that as a rule people who rate the level of learning in different Kollelim based on their own experiences from visiting different types of Kollelim, usually didn't actually go visit the different Kollelim and rate them, but instead just posted their "studies" on somebody else's blog. I don't have anything to say about the actual subject, so instead I'm just ranting about other people's opinions.

  3. See Sefer Adir Bamorom from The Ramcha"l (In my copy it is דף ל"ח) where he is Mefaresh the words אתכנשו חברייא לבי אדרא מלובשין שריין ורומחין and specifically see the paragraph there which starts ויש איזה מקומות

  4. See Sefer Adir Bamorom from The Ramcha"l (In my copy it is דף ל"ח) where he is Mefaresh the words אתכנשו חברייא לבי אדרא מלובשין שריין ורומחין and specifically see the paragraph there which starts ויש איזה מקומות

  5. See Sefer Adir Bamorom from The Ramcha"l (In my copy it is דף ל"ח) where he is Mefaresh the words אתכנשו חברייא לבי אדרא מלובשין שריין ורומחין and specifically see the paragraph there which starts ויש איזה מקומות

  6. A frank expose of the Torah attitude to non-Jews. Yet if a non-Jew dares say this sort of thing he's an anti-Semite.

  7. As someone with psychology training the blogmaster is surely aware that a mature individual is able to build himself up without having to tear his opponent down. That many authorities seem incapable of doing that but must resort to proving the stupidity of their opponent should be seen as concerning.

  8. See Sefer Adir Bamorom from The Ramcha"l (In my copy it is דף ל"ח) where he is Mefaresh the words אתכנשו חברייא לבי אדרא מלובשין שריין ורומחין and specifically see the paragraph there which starts ויש איזה מקומות

  9. I see that my comment where I brought a source about the subject of this thread has been removed. Instead please remove the other comment of mine about Chassidim and Litvishe because I regret posting it but the comment from the Ramcha"l you could allow .

    1. your comment about the Ramchal was in the spam folder which I review occasionally - and I posted it. Will remove your other comment

  10. Can we have an examination of this critique of the kollel system?May 14, 2014 at 3:17 AM

    Dear R. Eidensohn -

    As someone who deals with these kind of things, maybe you want to comment on, evaluate a recent strong attack on the kollel system by Rabbi Moshe Weinberger of Congregation Aish Kodesh of Woodmere, mashpia at RIETS, delivered at Yeshiva University.

    It can be accessed by going to

    He makes it sound like the Vilna Gaon started the current kollel system, which is not true, far from it. The Kovno kollel, which was perhaps the start of modern Litvishe kollelim, was around a hundred years after the Gaon. In Lita, most people worked, they did not sit in kollel, kollelim didn't exist. Even when they started, they were for a very small amount of people, who would become Rabbonim or similar, and for a limited amount of time. The present day kollel system, as seen in Eretz Yisroel and some other places, is not as it was in Lita. It was invented later and elsewhere.

    Furthermore, he claims that Chasidim never had such a thing, they always worked. Well, that is not true. Belzer Chasidim had a giant kollel like system around the Rebbe's court, in which hundreds of married men, and later single ones too, participated, dwarfing the few people in the Kovno kollel. That may have even preceded the Kovno kollel, but it was definitely over a hundred years ago. They were called Belzer yoshvim. See,, and

    Weinberger should know that, as his father is a Belzer. Just because they were called yoshvim, and not kollel yungeleit, doesn't mean that it wasn't basically the same thing.

    There are loads of Chasidim with massive kollel systems, such as Merkaz Hakollelim of New Square, where a very high percentage of the young, and older, men of the town are learning in kollel there. In Satmar there are giant kollelim. Someone told me Satmar has the largest kollel in the world. They have a mivtzar hakollelim in Kiryas Joel, a network of kollelim.

    R. Weinberger seems to be promoting a position that the Satmar Rebbe may have expressed sixty years ago, however, he later changed it, and adopted kollelim.

    Weinberger's critique is read from R. Mottel Zilber, Stutchiner Rebbe in Brooklyn, and son in law of R. Moshe Wolfson.

    But how accurate is it? Perhaps some of the knowledgable people here can examine it critically.


  11. Another Mareh MokomMay 14, 2014 at 8:37 AM

    In Teshuvos Beis Yosef, Din Mayim Sh'ein Lahem Sof, in an exchange between him and the Mabit, the Beis Yosef writes:
    ויען עגמה נפשי לכאבו וצערו על לא דבר הנני בא להעלות ארוכה ומרפא וראשונה אומר כן הן לו יהיה כדבריו שהיו בדברי זלזול כבר נודע כי אפילו האב ובנו הרב ותלמידו נעשים אויבים זה לזה בהלכה והדבר ידוע שבשעה שנעשים אויבים במשא ומתן בהכרח הוא שיצא מפיהם איזה דבור שאינו כל כך דרך כבוד ואפ"ה אין מקפידים בדבר כי הכל הולך אחר הכוונה וכיון שאין הכוונה לזלזל ח"ו אינו נתפס בדבריו.

  12. If I recall correctly, (it was a few years ago) R Gershon Meltzer Halacha Shiur in the Mir Yeshiva Jerusalem, mentioned that it is forbidden to degrade someone in learning. He added that some people try to use the Ramban in Milchamos as a proof to degrade others when it comes to learning, but in a later Sefer he clearly does Teshuva and says that in his younger years he also had tamid I'm that were young and they riled him up and from than on his language was softer.

    I know that most of those shiurim are recorded, I wonder if anyone has a recording of this.

  13. Thanks to you all for sharing different mekorot. There are different explanations of the Tefilah that one says on entering the Beis Hamedrash –1 That I should not err in a halachic matter – 2 which will cause others to get pleasure in my failure and they be punished for it.
    So we see ridicule is wrong.
    It could be a cultural thing, a style of talking which people of the same culture don't get offended, like the language of the shook, or the style of certain Sefardic Rabbis here in Israel.
    If people do get offended I think there is a problem and that in my humble opinion where certain Rabbis here in Israel mess things up. Not every- one speaks the language of the shook, and so things are taken in the wrong way.
    I think we tend to forget the end of the Gemorrah in Kidushin – they become enemies but don't move from there until they love one another. If truth and love is the ultimate purpose , peoples language styles will be ascribed to the best of motives.
    Taking a cue from Beis Hillel – trying to understand the other side first before presenting your own idea is a very respectful way of resolving differences in opinion.
    I liked what I understood of the Ramchal- having Kabalistic intentions when having an argument


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