Inspired by Reb Kalonymos Kalman's ideal of a group of people coming together with the common goal of enhancing their service of God, increasing their sensitivity to all things spiritual, strengthening their love of acheinu kol beis Yisrael, and unlocking the enormous potential that we all have to cleave to the Almighty.

Interaction and discussion of practical ideas and concepts toward this end, culled from any Torah true source is welcome and appreciated.

Observations and personal experiences are also welcome; the point is to grow!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

"These and These Are The Words Of The Living G-d"?

I saw the article linked by Reb Shmuel on his blog and was actually quite disturbed.

Firstly, I want to say that I am in favor of Ahavas Yisroel. I am no smarter that the Ribbono Shel Olam who said "Vi'ahavta Li'rayacha Kamocha". And no smarter than Rebbe Akiva who said that loving your friend is the "Klal Gadol" of the Torah. It is such an important rule that it is "kolel" [encompasses] the entire Torah.

Also I have nothing against the honorable Rabbi who wrote the article who is undoubtedly a MUCH better human being than I am. A better human being and most likely a better teacher, a better Jew and contributing much more to the future of our people than I.

BUT [a big "but"] I think that the educational approach he espouses is POTENTIALLY dangerous. I don't think that all the views of all branches of Orthodox Judaism are the "Words Of The Living G-d" [Divrei Elokim Chayim]. Almost nobody thinks so. Take for example the Rebbe of the writer of the aforementioned article. He often writes that the Charedim are making FUNDAMENTAL errors in their Yiddishkeit. The Chazon Ish was WRONG when he didn't support the Medinah and didn't say Hallel and Shehecheyanu on Yom Ha'atzmaut. Breslovers are off, Briskers are off, Lubavitchers are off. The only true way of Hashem is the path explicated by Rav Kook [as he understands it]. This is what he writes all the time.

Is he correct? He is right in believing passionately in a certain approach and trying to spread his views which he thinks reflect dvar Hashem but one could definitely argue that HE is mistaken and dvar Hashem should be understood otherwise [I certainly don't subscribe to many of his opinions].

Are Vayoel Moshe and Eim Habonim Smeicha both accurate reflections of Dvar Hashem? I think not. [If you haven't learned these books I recommend that you do.]

There is the story of the student who once suggested an interpretation of a pasuk to Nechama Leibowitz which she summarily rejected. The student said "Shivim Panim La'torah!" She answered "Yes, but yours is the seventy first."

When we teach our students we have to make it clear that not everything everybody believes is valid. We must not fudge some very basic issues of hashkafa on which we differ. Some people believe college is lichtchila, others believe that it is assur mi'dioraisa. How can somebody who believes the latter teach the former and someone who believes the former teach the latter?!

A well known Rabbi spoke at my sheva brachos and [he didn't know me or my wife] so he spoke about how his students are frum but they go to theatre and the movies [not an exact quote but that was the message] and that's GREAT. Some might argue [like the chassan at that simcha] that the immodesty shown on the movie screen renders such entertainment as nothing less than a transgression of "Vilo sassuru acharei livavchem viacharei eineichem", a contamination of a pure neshama and [at the very least] a waste of life's most valuable resource - time.

Was the chassan right or was the Rabbi right? You decide. But everybody would agree that they weren't both right. When educating children one has to have a clear-cut hashkafa and try to convey it to his students. This liberal "everybody is right" will produce moral relativists who lack passion for anything because whatever you do is fine. Ultimately this will result in people justifying all behaviors because "this is the way I see it". I am not making this up. I have seen it too many times.

A Rabbi got up at my son's bar-mitzva and gave a speech which disturbed me greatly. Do I love him? He is a beautiful man! I think he has more merits that I will ever have and "yehei chelki imo". But he was pushing an agenda he received from his Rebbe which I think is a subtle perversion of the Torah.

What is crucial to point out is that at all times we respect those with whom we disagree. Respect, love [heck, kiss the guy if he doesn't mind:)] treat with dignity, care, daven for and with etc. etc. But love doesn't mean that I condone his way of life or viewpoints.

I also believe that there are many valid paths in Judaism and don't think for a second that everybody has to be what I am [weird?] and this should also be made clear to the students. The Lubavitcher Rebbe once sent a boy to a Litvishe Yeshiva because he thought that was right for him. Rav Shach sent a boy I know to a Hesder Yeshiva because that was right for him. People have different spiritual needs and this should be realized by educators.

The Satmar Rebbe said that the sea split into 12 sections to teach us that every tribe literally has a different derech in Avodas Hashem.

May we all find our personal path to shleimus.


PS - Again I want to make clear that this piece was an attack against nobody! I just think that it is important that truth not be misrepresented. The Gemara teaches that truth is nothing less than the signature of G-d. I hope my tone was respectful. If I offended anybody I sincerely ask for forgiveness.

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