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

  2. It wasn't recorded
    I just took notes


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