Thursday, December 30, 2021

Halacha and the Fallen Rabbi: Q&A with Rabbi Hershel Schachter

A: What does one do with the sefarim written by such a rabbi?

RS: They should not be used. Since his sefarim include his ideas and rulings, they fit into the prohibition against studying Torah from someone who is unfit due to his improper behavior. Any time someone writes a sefer, he fleshes out and resolves apparently contradictory passages. This is called being machria—providing one’s own resolutions in Torah study. The type of person we are discussing is not qualified to be machria and, therefore, his sefarim cannot be used. If it can be verified that the sefarim and the halachic rulings were issued before this person’s sinful behavior began, only then can they be relied upon and quoted.

JA: Can we/should we continue to cite divrei Torah in his name?

RS: We are not allowed to do so. The gemara (Avodah Zarah 35b) says that if a rabbi violates halachah, one cannot say divrei Torah in his name. The statements found in the Talmud in the name of Elisha Ben Abuya were made when he was still committed to Torah observance and belief (see Tosafot, Sotah 12b). If it would appear that the books and articles of the fallen rabbi were written before he began his sinful behavior, they may be used.


  1. Walder's books are inspiring stories for kids, not divrei halakha so I don't know if Rav Schachter's argument is relevant here.

  2. You can be sure, that there is not a single line in Walder’s books that’s inappropriate. Not that I’ve read them all, but I have no doubt, that his enemies went over all his books with a fine-tooth comb, trying to find some “dirt” on him. Evidently, they weren’t able to find anything wrong with his books, or we would have heard about it already.

  3. the ban on his books started already a month back in various frum quarters.
    So it was not Haaretz or lehavdil Rav Elyahu shlita who "embarrassed " him, it was the frum community.
    Nevertheless, the discussion of the status of his books is predicated on the chazakah that he did terrible things. If he did terrible things, or there are reasonable grouonds to believe he did, then he has not protection, as he was a rodeif. A person can be rodeif himself too, not just others.

  4. I know one family whose kid isn't so into reading "frum books" but who loved one of these and even wrote his own "Kidspeak" story about himself. This is such a difficult situation.

  5. Rabbi YY Jacobson - my inner Chossid speaks

  6. nonsense!
    Trial by ordeal and metaphor
    No needf forr halacha or facts
    basically conspiracy theory

  7. which part is not true?
    The ban is true, as you have already reported it yourself.

    And a person being a rodef to himself - works in 2 ways , logically and halahically.

    If a person is at risk of sucide, he is a rodef to his own life, and presumably can be stopped by force.

    In Halacha, Rambam states that a rodef of someone else is liable by his own life - hence is redifa is effectively a license for his own life to be taken too.

  8. I'm reading Leo Levi's book on Torah and science. He suggests Torah observant people are mentally healthier than seculars. He has only one study to support this claim , the rate of myocardial infarct (heart attack) was lower in frum men over a 5 year period. But this is more likely to be from tefillin, which pre conditions the heart and in one small study was found to help prevent heart events.


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