Monday, July 25, 2022

Interview with Rav Ephraim Greenblatt from 1990

 When I lived in Har Nof I met with Rav Ephraim Greenblatt in July 12 1990. I asked him questions regarding Rav Moshe and the Igros Moshe. He was very open with his comments. The question is whether I should publish them now. They might shock some while others will say this is well known or at least assumed. I have asked a posek and am waiting his decision. 

I just received psak that I should publish the interview.  which I will when I reformat it for greater readability.


Reb Moshe believed that if you understood the gemora properly it was possible to posken directly from it. That the Shulchan Aruch itself was written for people that did not have time to learn the gemora properly. His avoidance of achronim was not because he didn't have the seforim but because he felt they were not necessary for him to posken. When confronted with acontradiction to his psak from the Yavetz he answered thathis psak was meant to be from shamayim.

Reb Moshe told on himself that he had a strong temper by nature but that he worked on himself not to express it and to remain calm.

Reb Moshe held that what he poskened was valid and he had no problem with his views being publicized. There were issues he felt however should not be made known to the general public such as his views on Hatzola returning on shabbos which were eventually published in the Igros.

Reb Moshe viewed his main halachic work to be the Dibros Moshe not the Igros Moshe. He felt that it was necessary to have a record of his opinions available- the Igros Moshe. Reb Moshe was aware that non Talmidei Chachamim read the Igros.That is why he did not posken on Gas on Yom Tov there because of the possibility of confusing gas with electricity.

He mentioned that Reb Moshe always emphasized the importance of understanding Metzius to posken properly. He assumed that Reb Tendler was the source of medical issues and was surpirsed when I told him that Reb Tendler said that hewas not the sole source of this.

He was not aware of Reb Moshe being against going to a doctor for preventitive check ups but said that it was possible that there was such a position since his uncle nevers goes to doctors.

There were times that Reb Moshe poskened on a personal level against the Igros. For example in Memphis, he allowed a short mechitza because he felt that that was all they would take and that he hoped that later it would be possible to increase the hight. Similarly he allowed mixed classes up to sixgrade for Memphis. He agreed that the level of observance today might mean that Reb Moshe would be more machmir l'maaseh than for tshuvah's from 40 years ago.

I asked that Reb Moshe's attitude towards psak be written down. He replied that his uncle Reb Notah Greenblatt would be the one to do that and that he would ask when he returns to Memphis. He said that there has been much talk about collecting stories and Hashkofa from Reb Moshe's talmidim but that no one is willing to take charge and get it done. He said he once asked Reb Moshe what had been decided at an Aguda Convention. He replied, like always that we should have another meeting next year. He said that he is planning to retire soon to Yerushalayim and that perhaps he would be able work on the project the project.

On a related point, he mentioned that he was recently in Lakewood and was asked to speak about Reb Moshe. When he said he wanted to learn something in the Igros, they told him that everyone know the Igros and that they wanted to hear some stories. He took out an Igros and asked them what Reb Moshe held on a particular Issue. He said that he got 20 different versions of something stated in the Igros.

Reb Moshe felt that there was nothing he could do to help a person with cancer. In general he would not accept a kvittel for such a person unless he felt it would upset the family.For other illnesses however he would pray for recovering.

It was not unusual for people to understand Reb Moshe in different ways. There for he always tried to taperecord his sessions with Reb Moshe. There were instances where he was able to demonstrate to people that they had misunderstood Reb Moshe's position from these tapes.

Validity of the Igros. There is a definite problem with the last two volumes. He has been told by a number of big talmidei chachamim that there is there are things written which are definitely not Reb Moshe's language. In addition the last couple of years in which Reb Moshe's replies were typewritten by Mordechai Tendler are not reliable. People also got confused when Mordechai Tendler said things and assumed that it was from Reb Moshe when in fact some things were not. 10 years ago when he went to get a Beracha for his son-in-law.

Reb Moshe had to send Mordechai Tendler out of the room because he kept answering their questions - not letting Reb Moshe reply. Mordechai Tendler felt that he knew Reb Moshe well enough that he could provide the same answer as Reb Moshe- which was not always true. The problem of editing -have words or sections left out - could easily change the meaning of a tshuva.

Reb Moshe used to write over a copy of his tshuva before sending out a reply. When he was asked why not let a bachor do the copying, he replied that copying provided a chance for chazora and that here were times that he changed the original replay based upon his chazora.

Newspapers: Rabbi Tendler claimed that Reb Moshe read the newspaper regularly. He replied that he never saw Reb Moshe read a newspaper. Reb Moshe did buy Der Tag regularly from a poor Jew who used to come into M.T.J. but then he would put in on a bench. He said he only bought the paper to provide parnosa for the Yid and that anyone could take the paper.

When I told him the problem of time of death, he agreed it was a major problem. He agreed that Rav Tendler feels that he knows what Reb Moshe would have said and that there is no actual evidence to support his interpretation as being what Reb Moshe held or would have held.


  1. 1990 - obviously Rav Greenblatt was part of the anti- Tendler camp.

  2. Rav Dovid Ztl, his son, agreed with R' Tendler regarding both evidence and the position on time of death. In the anti- Tendler campaign, the Hareidi world had become - well I won't use current metaphors - but certainly much more right wing, and "daas Torah" based.

  3. Are you claiming that those who disagree with Tendler do so solely because of their hostility and bias and is part of that dreaded disease that you proudly discovered - the Chareidi syndrome?

    BTW Rav Dovid also agreed with Rav Falk concerning uncovered hair even though that is clearly against what is in the Igros Moshe.

    After Rav Moshe died Rav Dovid was approached with various question that were being fought over as to Rav Moshe's views. He said let people believe what they want - I am not getting involved in machlokes. That was alo Rav Moshe's attitude.

    I also asked Rav Dovid about an apparent contradiction in the Igros Moshe about the nature of Aluminum. He acknowledged the problem but said the practical questions need to be answered even if it leads to contradiction.

    Similarly when i asked Rav Bluth about the contradiction regarding the magen Avraham in the Igros, he replied Rav Moshe had broad shoulders.

    In sum, in order to avoid disputes sometimes it is best to avoid resolving contradictions.

  4. He is just a scapegoat because they don't want to openly attack Rav Moshe.
    BTW, nobody opposing Rav tendler,
    Including hagaon Rav bleich shlita, have a clue about the science involved in the matter.

  5. Really! You are totally out of it!

  6. So rav Moshe tendler is lying because his son is a menuval?
    What about rav Moshe ztl himself ?, he is the grandfather!.

    Was eli a fake because of his sons?


    Similar to the zohar
    Except the zohar became accepted

  8. From Luke Ford:
    A non-Jewish cleaning woman who had worked for one of the alleged survivors of Rabbi Mordecai Tendler told several community members, that Rabbi Tendler was having an affair with her employer. The cleaning woman eventually told Jane Hickerson (the investigator hired by the RCA), and various newspaper journalists of these facts."

    OK, so a non Jewish woman's eidus is kosher.

    Reminds me, rav Goren brought testimony from Jewish men -that borokowsky went to church.
    But these were slammed, one was intermarried (but divorcing) the other was mumar.

    So the same rules that exclude witness when it is politically expedient are also including them when it serves a political purpose.

  9. The problem with the position of Rav Bleich and his supporters is that it leads to a bizarre conclusion: If I behead someone but then quickly tie the loose ends of their carotids to their jugulars, thus closing the circulatory circuit, and then I quickly intubate the open trachaea and hook up a ventilator, the body is technically alive because it has a heart beat.

  10. It's a 2 sided argument.
    The closest person in these cases was Rav Moshe tendler .
    True, other gedolim oppose his interpretation, but their metzius Knowledge is non existent.

  11. How dare you speak science or logic! Halacha is not decided by such irrelevant factors

  12. Really! How did you come to that conclusion and at the same time posit that the opposition to Tendler was really an attack on Rav Moshe?!

  13. Do they, for example, accept chalav which is not Yisroel? No, so they reject Rav Moshe.

  14. Rav bleich said that a posthumous teshuva of Rav Moshe is not valid.
    How then, is the zohar valid?

  15. Wow! So the Tendlers are irrelevant?

  16. The arguments for the zohar would be that the majority of gedolim accepted it, including the author of the shulchan Aruch, the Gra, Ben ish Chaim, arizal etc.

  17. Oh I see - I suppose there is som merit to your argument, but if i were to construct a graph, there would be various domains or factors which determine acceptance, begrudging acceptance or rejection of his psak:

    When he is alive, and there is published teshuva, then some of his leniencies are rejected by Hassidim, eg Satmar on A.I Donors, mechitzah; Lubavitch on Milk, liner ships over Shabbat;

    Begrudgingly accepted by Mishnagdim , eg annulments - Rav Elyashiv.

    when he is niftar, then most of his leniencies are rejected even by mishnagdim, except where they support Hareidi ideology or self image. So mechitzah is no longer accepted, unless it is for frei congregations. If something goes agaisnt Western science, eg smoking, then it is accepted e.g. Rav Bleich. If it is based on western science, it is rejected eg Rav Moshe Tendler, especially with debateable time of publication on time of death.


    Was Reb Ephraim the nephew of Reb Nota?

    who is considered to be greater?

  19. Rav Moshe is Chareidi and was the leader of the Chareidi world.

  20. Which of the two Tendler's are you referring to? Father or son?

  21. Very different from his successor. Rmf said the Entebbe rescue was an open miracle, whereas Rav Shach said it is forbidden by Halacha.
    Who would you say is today's leader of the hareidi world?

  22. Father. Son is a nothing

  23. On a slightly different note, should or would a Gadol b'Torah speak bittul words ever? I am not talking about for kiruv, for example, eg outreach , where he will impress people with his knowledge of secular matters - but for example, should he speak about baseball or or some other pastime? And in fact is that one way of distinguishing true gedolim? Again, money, parnassah , family etc are necessary to talk about.

  24. Amazing!!
    Where are these tapes from Reb Efraim?
    We need them transcribed

  25. It wasn't recorded
    I just took notes


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