Sunday, May 18, 2014

Rabbi Nissan Kaplan says ‘kill ministers’ statement was only a joke

Times of Israel   [Not just Rabbi Herschel Schacter has foot in mouth problems.].

[file has been removed ]And here is the link to the recording: 

Fast forward to 36:50 to hear what he has to say.

A popular rabbi at a prominent ultra-Orthodox yeshiva in Jerusalem issued a retraction over the weekend after reports surfaced Thursday that he had called for the killing of government ministers

Rabbi Nissan Kaplan of the Mir Yeshiva, one of the largest and most prestigious yeshivas in the world, told a class of students in a March lecture that ultra-Orthodox leader Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman viewed the Israeli government as Amalek (the Biblical enemy of Israel whom the Jews are commanded to destroy), and sanctioned killing those who called for yeshiva students to enlist in the IDF.[...]

“You have to take a sword and to kill them,” Kaplan was recorded saying in the lecture, claiming to quote Steinman. “So why are we not doing it? Because, he said, I don’t know yet who is the [suitable replacement] general who could run the war. But if I would know who’s the general, we’d go out with knives. This is what Rav Steinman said. There’s a war against religion.” [...]

The rabbi, who originally hails from the US, told the Jewish Chronicle Online over the weekend that he had “never meant such a thing” and said that the story about his child was “a joke.” [...]


  1. If I could be M'lamed Z'chus: Jews living in Eretz Yisrael live with, and are surrounded by, an Arab population that to a significant extent is determined to do violence against Jews. These Arabs can be vocal and explicit about the violence, including openly distilling this drive to murder into Arab children.

    A Jew immersed in this drumbeat of carnage may become desensitized to the language of mayhem and may make an offhand comment using a style of speech he has unconsciously adopted from his environment.

    Oy L'rasha, Oy L'sh'chaino. Words expressing certain concepts can seep into someone's thought process and corrode and damage their speech. Happens to me way more times than I like, and to ward it off I find myself telling people sometimes not to express themselves using off-color terminology -- not because I want to control them, but because I don't want to end up internalizing it.

  2. Correction: "instilling", not "distilling"

  3. I personally think what he meant was that if Rav Shteinman declared them Amalek then it would be like Moshe Rabeinu telling the Leviim to kill their relatives who worshipped the golden calf. Of course, it was all just theoretical.

    I think Rav Kaplan does not want more misunderstandings so he is not giving any clarification.
    just apologies.

  4. When MO R' Hershel Shachter made such a joke about killing the PM (if he decides to surrender Jerusalem), I believe R' Dovid and possibly R' Daniel attackd him for this, even if it was in jest. why are they silent when hareidi gadol says it?

    1. Eddie is back,
      I don't know what haredei gadol said it. I don't know the person who claims this or that. But I did have many tapes of Rabbi Schachter. Now, of course, YU has taken off his tapes because of the FBI. All I know is that on this blog someone I never heard of said something that I don't know is true that somebody said something. I don't talk about things out of my range.

  5. Superintendant ChalmersMay 19, 2014 at 4:29 AM

    He should not have said it, but let's get real - he was obviously not actually promoting violence, he was just exaggerating to make a point. All the talk about knives, swords, hammers, as if we were living in the time of the Chashmonaim...if he were really promoting violence, the obvious weapon of choice would be guns, but he was clearly not speaking about actual violence, but about fealty to the gedolim that would express itself in such a way.

    What really irks me is the self-righteous modern orthodox bloggers (like the shoteh Slifkin) jumping on any opportunity to attack chareidim, and in the process disparaging and insulting a world class talmid chacham.

    1. Did you listen to the recording? He wasn't joking. If he was, then why would anyone ever listen to him again--quoting Rav Steinman, that wasn't a quote. This isn't a modern orthodox blogger issue, it's an example of how the Haredi world is bankrupt. Yishmael was just joking, right?

    2. Superintendant ChalmersMay 19, 2014 at 1:16 PM

      Like I said, he was exaggerating ti make a point. This was a mussar vaad, not a halacha lemaase shiur. You've never heard a story of questionable veracity in a mussar schmooze or drasha, in which the point is not the actual truthfulness of the story?

    3. Sweetness, sweetness I was only joking
      When I said I'd like to
      Smash every tooth in your head

      Sweetness, sweetness I was only joking
      When I said by rights you should be
      Bludgeoned in your bed

      The Smiths - Bigmouth Strikes Again

  6. Why is this posted here? This is pure lashon hora. He is a talmid chocham. He regrets saying what he said. Why are we spreading it further?

  7. Why is this posted here? This is pure lashon hora. He is a talmid chocham. He regrets saying what he said. Why are we spreading it further?

    1. @halpap - please go back and study lashon harah. A major talmid chachom issued a highly irresponsible statement. He obviously thought he could get away with it because he was only speaking to charedim. Just as Rav Shachter thought he could get away when he said similar things because he was speaking to his people.

      Chazon Ish says it is important to know the nature of our rabbinical leaders in the same way we need to know the quality of a plumber- what they can do well and what they can't do well.

      An apology doesn't remove the damage that was done nor does it explain why he said it in the first place. Consequently it is important to be aware of this when judging future statements that he issues.

      Where do you get the idea that you can say something so horrible and say "I am sorry I was only joking" and it is as if nothing happened?!

      A child molestor - who is a talmid chachom - needs merely to say he is sorry and then we don't go to the police? Epstein who spent 20 years beating husband to give a get just needs to say he is sorry and then we can't talk about it anymore?

      in short there is to'eles in talking about it and hopefully another talmid chachom won't make the same stupid mistake of thinking he can say something so horrific and he won't get caught or he can say "it was a joke" or "my fingers were crossed when I said it" Perhaps even more important maybe it will inspire introspection so that rabbis will understand these things should not even be thought and surely not spoken.

    2. Daas Torah - I assume that the comment is "highly irresponsible" because in your opinion some people might take it literally. Aren't you worried that those people might read your blog - you get all sorts here! I think that according to your logic it is "highly irresponsible" to not delete this thread.

    3. Not only might they take the statement literally but the people in my circles who heard the statement were shocked that a talmid chachom would talk that way. Don't understand why you think discussion on a blog have the same importance as the public address by a major talmid chachom calling for violence. It is not only whether it will be taken literally but also the subject matter

  8. Daas Torah:

    I have studied hilchos loshon hora and there is a presumption that a talmid chochom has done teshuva and that one should not report the misdeeds of a talmid chochom. Your comparison to a child molestor is extremely inappropriate. In the case of a child molester there is a clear need to protect the public. The laws of toeles are very difficult to meet and I don't believe that you have done so. I certainly don't think having inaptly worded statement on your website will inspire the R. Kaplan to more carefully choose his words more than the brouhaha that preceded your posting. Have you gotten hadracha from R. Moshe Sternbuch or other Gedolim with whom you have a relationship as to what is appropriate to post and what not? I am not a frequent poster or visitor, and you frequently have valuable information posted, but in this case I think you erred.

    1. this is 100% correct. Could not have said it better.

    2. @halpap are you really serious that the misdeeds of talmidei chachom are to be forgotten and not reported or discussed because we need to presume that they did teshuva?! Leib Tropper is a solid talmid chachom yet Rav Sternbuch told me to publicize his misdeeds - no presumption of teshuva there. Motti Elon - no presumption of teshuva, Dovid Weinberger was just driven out of the 5 Towns - no presumption of teshuva. Mordechai Tendler - no presumption of teshuva, Mondrowitz and Weingarten - no presumption of teshuva. Epstein and Wolmark - we need to assume they did teshuva? Rabbi Belsky and Rabbi Kotler - did you assume they did teshuva in the recent Kolko case?

      We don't live in the same world and you don't know what you are talking about! Even in the above cases where some might have actually done teshuva -their deeds are still being publicized.

    3. There is no comparison between Rabbi Kaplan's "slip of the tongue" and the actions done by (most of) the people you list. I am not familiar with all of the cases you cite (so I limit myself to most), but I don't think Rabbi Sternbuch would agree with your comparison of Rabbi Kaplan to Leib Tropper. The comparison to Mondrowitz is obscene. I am sure that you are a much bigger talmid chochom than I am, but I don't believe that if you asked Rav Sternbuch about this case he would give you the same answer.

  9. When the public knows something was done by a Torah scholar and nobody protests it, they can think that all Torah people agree. If somebody condemns the act, he prevents this.

    1. This is more akin to piling on Rabbi Kaplan after he suffered his public embarrassment. There are non-public ways for people to make known to him disapproval of his statement without blasting it over the internet.

  10. here's what really happened

  11. Michael RockmillMay 25, 2014 at 10:43 AM

    Nothing will change. The Mir in Israel views Rabbi Shteinman as the
    gadol hador (the greatest torah scholar) and therefore his words are
    "daas torah" which one is not allowed to disagree with, just like one is
    not allowed to disagree with the words of the gemora. It is clear Rabbi
    Kaplan's words stemmed from what he believed was Rabbi Shteinman's
    view, and there are strong indications that Rabbi Shteinman does in fact
    hold the goverment is amalek. This is the underlying issue - whether
    the words of Rabbi Shteinman are "daas torah". I dont think this fiasco
    will change Rabbi Kaplan's view on this point. It will only change what
    he says publicly.

  12. Here's another view of this sorry story


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