Showing posts with label Problems with the Torah Community Today and False "Gedolim". Show all posts
Showing posts with label Problems with the Torah Community Today and False "Gedolim". Show all posts

Thursday, December 31, 2015

My comments on my brother's blog about Rabbis Kaminetsky and Greenblatt


My brother wrote on his blog daattorah.blogspot.com: As everyone knows, the storm resulting from the phony heter to Tamar Epstein has been going on for a while.  R Shalom Kaminetsky's campaign to manipulate Rav Greenblatt to declare the marriage invalid worked only for a while. However a wide range of major rabbis - including Rav Chaim Kaminetsky - have condemned this heter and declared Tamar as still being married to her first husband and thus committing adultery with her 2nd husband. It has clearly been publicly declared by these rabbis that persuading a psychiatrist to write an invalid report - is a a major danger to the Orthodox community and the institution of marriage.

The question is why the issue has not been settled with a retraction of the heter by Rabbi Greenblatt and a rejection of the heter by Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky and his son? Why is the issue dragging on? Why isn't an ultimatum being given to the above - to either comply or be publicly denounced?

The answer unfortunately is not a pretty one. Because if a ultimatum was delivered to the above rabbis - there is a good possibility that they would not comply. After all they have "Daas Torah" or as Rav Greenblatt says "I followed the Shulchan Aruch" and it doesn't matter to him whether the facts are true or not. He views the heter as being independent of how it was obtained and that only thing that matters is that he issued a  psak that Tamar can remarry. Similarly Rav Kaminetsky sees no reason to condemn the heter because was issued by a "bar samcha" Rav Greenblatt and so it doesn't matter if the basis is a pack of lies. In short neither cares whether the heter was obtained through falsely proclaiming that Aharon Friedman  suffers from extreme incurable mental illness that disqualifies him from ever being able to marry.

Thus the real answer why there is no ultimatum is because we have a serious problem here of codependency. What is ultimately preventing the resolution - and the reason that the Moetzes Gedolei Torah will never get involved - is the issue of the priority of  our rabbinic leaders. While Torah and halacha are truly important but there is a greater concern for these rabbis. They view that the system itself is in danger if major gedolim are declared to be in open rebellion against the Torah. These rabbis will never do anything that is perceived as an attack on gedolim. They believe that  faith in gedolim (and daas Torah) is more important to preserve than faith in G-d and Torah! Or rather that faith in G-d and Torah must be through faith in the gedolim.

Unfortunately, by publicly declaring that the heter is false and that a major breach in Torah has occurred - they can't conceal from the public that the agents of this breach are in fact gedolim. The longer they hesitate the greater is the loss of faith in gedolim and the greater the cynicism is amongst the masses - including the yeshivos and seminaries. 

In short, since they have gone public with the existence of a major breach - they can not avoid following that to its logical conclusion. But they lack nerve and don't want to be perceived as the ones who destroyed the public status of revered gedolim - Rav Greenblatt and Rav Kaminetsky. End of my brother's comments.

I have two small comments. One is that among the letters published by major rabbis there were clear attacks on the lies and the anti-halacha content of the heter to Tamar. Whether these attacks should be followed by stronger ones is delicate, because some of the letters cannot be written any stronger. If you call somebody a liar and remote from Halacha, what is the next thing to say? And if you want to put him in cherem, why didn't you do this immediately when you realized that his entire HETER is a lie and remote from halacha?

Number two is a personal thought. I learned and spoke frequently with HaGaon Reb Aharon Kotler and the Gaon Reb Moshe Feinstein. One thing I noticed was that very few if any of the many people who were able to speak to them did so. Reb Moshe was frequently queried about halacha, but to just speak to him and learn more that I didn't see in Monsey where I used to talk to him when he came frequently to visit his daughter with his rebbetsin. And after a while, I realized that I had nothing to do with the new world of Torah. I spent the next few years pestering any gadol who came my way, but the way  things were developing didn't interest me. 

Then I got interested in Gittin and ended up talking to the Gaon Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashev zt"l. Actually, we had made in Monsey a Beth Din to make Gittin for Russians who had no Rov there, and it was done under Rav Elyashev, because who could pasken those shaalose? Finally I went to Israel and spoke to the Gaon at length about a new topic he was concerned with, the Get Law of New York State. I went into him with a list of questions and when it was over I asked him for his name for my Beth Din and he gave it. The years spent with Reb Aharon and Reb Moshe prepared me. And then I found out that some major Torah authorities who did not pester every Gadol they could were making invalid and forced Gittin. 

The last few years I have been fighting furiously with these "gedolim" and what is happening now is not news to me at all. Rabbis who are Rosh Yeshivas or Rosh Kollelim or dayanim who did not study intensely under true Gedolim invented the term Gadol to mean them, not the real Gedolim. So what do we expect?

Number three which should be number one but I had to prepare the ground, was the following episode. In Monsey a video store once opened in the main shopping district. I went to the Magid of Jerusalem Rav Schwadron after he had spoken somewhere and told him. He ignored me completely, actually professionally, because he was a disciple of Rav Lapian who could speak six hours straight and keep the audience. I repeated myself, and he kept the frozen face that said I didn't exist. Then I raised my voice, and said, "Rebbe! Hashchoso!" He was waiting for that. He was a master mashgiach and they specialized in teaching by "putting you in the sack." 

Suddenly, he came alive, his eyes flashing, his hands moving professionally until he pointed at my face and said, "A Yeshiva is hashchoso!" I felt myself falling, falling, falling. A still voice said to me, "Just be quiet. He said this in public. Now he must explain this." And I just stood there. When Rav Schwadron saw how he had stunned me with his comment he laughed and said in Yiddish "that shut his mouth" which sounds much nicer in the Yiddish that he used. (We had bantered just before this and he owed me one.) Then he starting explaining. He talked about the present system and how it produces frustration. At any rate, if we keep it simple, the Yeshiva system is producing problems, and why this is is a long discussion. But by realizing that a Yeshiva is hashchoso, I concentrated in my family and teaching everyone that times had changed and we have to do things in the old fashioned matter, to the best of our ability, because what goes on today is a problem.

Later on, at my son's wedding I met a major Gadol and told him my various complaints about the system. When I told him about "A Yeshiva is hashchoso" he became enthused. I was shocked. I asked my son about this and he said, "Tatee, he always talks like that."