Thursday, December 08, 2011

Maintaining a pure Torah outlook

The following letter appeared in today's Hamodia and to me epitomizes the issues that I have with the Charedi world.

Can you believe this? No matter how much Torah is learned how many mitzvos are done, it is all worthless if you don't have the pure Torah outlook. Of course the big question is who decides what the pure Torah outlook is? In the book Harav Mibrisk Volume 3, there is a discussion of the Aguda convention before WWII where the question of the partition of Palestine was discussed and in fact the majority opinion was in favor. The book describes how R' Elchonon got up at the convention and expressed the pure Torah view against Zionism, partition etc. and that this was the Brisker Rav's position as well. What is amazing is that the author describes R' Elchonon's position as the pure Torah position and dismisses all of the other Gedolim's opinions as non-pure Torah positions. Based on what? Why was R' Elchonon's position more pure Torah then the other Gedolim who were at the convention? How do we decide? In fact a bigger question is whether there is such a thing as the 1 pure Torah outlook? Was R' Akiva not propounding a pure Torah outlook when he declared that Bar Kochva was Moshiach? Was R' Saadya Gaon not expressing a pure Torah outlook when he dismissive the idea of gilgulim? I could go on with any number of example, the fact is that on just about every major theological issue there is a fundamental machlokes starting with who does hashgacha pratis apply to, to the source of machlokes. Is 1 side not expressing a pure Torah outlook?

IMHO this is the biggest problem in the Charedi world today. The inability to admit that there may be more then 1 path, that everything is not black and white. As R' Elyashiv was quoted as saying "They could say it we can not". Since the end of the Sanhedrin there have always been multiple opinions in Judaism, the Charedi world's attempt to deny this is simply revisionist history.


Shadal said...

Of course I can believe this. I had a very revealing moment some years ago when I witnessed someone with a bit left-of-center views be humiliated publicly by a famous "askan" (who is a very coarse person). When I protested, he replied that the man's views are "krum." Of course that is the main thing. Never mind that the man with the "krum" views is such a ba'al chesed that he mortgaged his home without thinking twice to help a friend in need, who was to embarassed to even tell him that his family needed desperate help, nevr mind that I witnessed this man perform kibud av in a way that would make even the most jaded person emotional, or that this man with the "krum" views has performed countless such deeds, entirely unsung, or that he supports Torah and talmidei chachomim to the best of his ability, and even beyond. No, he has failed as a human being because his views are a bit off (full disclosure: I think his views are closer to right than the other guy).

And this from the camp that decries "isms"?

In fairness to Shimon Margolin, at least he entertains the possibility that Mizrachi is right, in this most strange, almost implausible story.

evanstonjew said...

This question how do we know it's Reb Elchanan's views and not some other gadol, say a Rebbe from Poland? The answer as you know is simple. In Lita there were these yeshivos who held together, Slabodka, Mir, Grodno etc. They thought they had a unique direct line of succession from the Gra. In 1941 the yeshiva world came to a close. It was the end of the line. Many ran to Vilna which still had a modicum of independence. They couldn't travel to the east or west. In one direction was Hitler, the other Stalin.They were trapped and war was coming. Yddishkeit, froze at that point. 1400 received visas to Shanghai and after the war came to the US and Israel. There parents and family were murdered. They joined forces with the small Orthodox communities and began to rebuild.

ALL of them suffered post traumatic stress syndrome. Life was paralyzed to what it was the last day of their yeshiva existence. There is nothing outside of that frame, not Sefardim, not Hungarians, certainly not the 12 million non-Orthodox Jews.Coupled with the overwhelming guilt of survival, they were left with one last happy image...the life they lived in the bais medrash. Everything, all the wonders and pleasures of the world are nothing, are sacrificed for the sake of those last days in the yeshiva.

And that's what they taught hundreds of thousands bnei torah.40,000+ seforim are available on- line, and they can't stop talking about Reb Yeruchem, and the Brisker Rav and Reb Elchanan and and the Chafetz Chaim. Only a select few constitute the olam hatorah of the yeshiva world.

Maybe you should get over it. This is what it is.

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

This is why Rav Kook is so reviled by the rank and file of the Chareidi world - he represented a completely new model of Torah Judaism that was so different from the Chareidi revisionist version that they simply couldn't handle it. Better to simply dismiss it.