Monday, November 27, 2006

Having Your Cake and Eating It Too - Bloggers on Agudah

When the great debate about the permissibilty of joining Sherut Leumi arose in the 1950s, there were factions of frum Jews who held that it should be permissible, among them Talmidei Chachamim.

When the Mizrachi criticized the majority of the Gedolim who opposed it, they put up posters and placards, denouncing their decision as radical and misinformed as to the dangers Sherut Leumi posed.

In a meeting between Ben Gurion and the Rabbanim Isser Zalman Meltzer, Tzvi Pesach Frank, and Meir Karelitz, Ben Gurion challenged those Rabbanim by saying - but there are great Rabbis who disagree with you. What follows is an excerpt from the minutes of that conversation, to the best of my recollection (if this isn't verbatim, it is close)

Rav Tzvi Pesach said - "They are not great Rabbis".

Ben Gurion - "HaRav Frank, a little humility!"

Rav Tzvi Pesach - "They may be learned, but they are not Gedolim. They are the Yeravam ben Nevats of the generation" [As quoted from the minutes of their meeting, in Pe'er HaDor vol. V]

Now, this would seem to me, to be the epitome of the "my way or the highway" complaint against the Agudah today. And in cases where the caliber and number 0f the Gedolei Torah on one side of an issue is much greater than the other, there may be accusations of the above nature as well.
So how hollow is the complaint that the Agudah insists on its "my way or the highway" - as if this is something new. Yes, when the Agudah Gedolim think a certain way - they act on it - and sometimes reject opposing opinions, even of learned people, as lacking in Daas Torah - meaning lacking what the Hashkafas HaTorah-true position should be.
Rav Moshe can think that another Posek is advocating Chillul Shabbos DeOraysa by allowing an Eruv in a certain area, and will state unequivocally that one carrying in an area with such an Eruv is a Mechalel Shabbos DeOraysa, while not Passeling him for Edus, perhaps, since he is following his Rav's (incorrect, in RMF's view) Psak. But if one were to ask him, his answer would be :"My way, and you're carrying in a highway."
One insisting on receiving the approbation of Rav Moshe can show only one thing - that he does consider Rav Moshe's opinion significant enough to make him think twice about unequivocally accepting his Rebbe's. Believe me, nobody ever accepted a Psak from Rav Moshe, and then needed approbabtion from someone else in order to feel totally comfortable following it. Nobody.
So, how pathetic is the sidelong gaze at the Agudah's position on blogs. If you were that secure in your Derech, that you claim you have the sanction of your Rabbeim for - why do you need the "nuance" or "balance" of the Agudah? So you can sleep better at night? Why - having trouble now that Rav Ploni didn't like what your blog does? Or are you sleeping better now that you think he might have said it is okay? Why should it affect you at all? Like I said - if Rav Moshe said to me it was okay, I wouldn't care if another Posek said it wasn't!
There are, I think, only three options here:
1) I accept what the Agudah public policy is, unquestioningly, or, maybe, I won't question it publicly.
2) I accept the public policy they set, and will question it publicly. (Which, perhaps, can be done sometimes, but if their leadership is to remain intact, you might want to make it clear that you actually make clear that you accept it, despite your reservations.)
3) I don't accept their public policy decision when they conflict with what I think is right, and will question it and attack it to the best of my ability in public so that people do not accept their policies and shift over to those espoused by me or my Rabbeim. (Read: undermining of authority of the Gedolim of the Agudah. Call it what you want - that's what it really is. It might be a very "American" and "democratic" way of doing things - let's have a public battle of ideas and let the most convincing position win [and what is most convincing can, quite 0ften, be as a result of being in congruence with the New York Times editorial board position than that of the Torah, since the one being convinced may very well be unaware, or have sufficiently ingrained into his thought process, the Hashkafos of the Torah], but there is no precedent, to the best of my knowledge, for this, in the Torah. In fact, the Shulchan Aruch Paskens that even the greatest Dayan in the world may not have a Talmid who is not a Talmid Chacham sit in his court at the time of judgement, because the Talmid can cause the great Dayyan to lose his ability to think straight. Krumkeit is very contagious.
Those who try to dance on both Chasunahs - options two and three simultaneously, are being intellectually dishonest with, primarily, themselves.

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