Monday, October 18, 2004

Rav Soloveitchik זצ"ל : A Reminiscence

All of the discussion of rabbis, leadership, Halakhah and spirituality highlights just how much I miss the Rov zt"l. I"m not just referring to a disciple who misses his rebbe. That feeling is always there.

No, it's more than that. When I consider the multifold challenges facing the religious community in Israel, I realize just how much the kind of creative traditionalism, intellectual independence and modesty, and the rare mix of devotion to Halakha and striving for spirituality thatr characterized the Rov are needed today. The problem is that far too mant of his disciples here have bifurcated him. Some are Rashe Yeshiva who are only interested in his lomdus. Others think he was only a philosopher, and ignore the fact that he spent 95% of his time lovingly learning Talmud and Rambam. But he was all of that and it is as a totality that his teachings would make a difference.

Those who are stifled by an exclusively 'Do' and 'Don't' Orthodoxy, would have their Judaism invigorated with Man's spiritual quest for God. Those who are ensconced in philosophy would learn the humility and discipline of Talmud Torah and Halakhah as acts of revelation and surrender.

Those of us who try to see the total picture of who the Rov was and what he stood for have been too shy. We have a moral obligation to tell the truth about who he was and who he wasn't. Noone will get it totally. He was too complex for that. We can, however, balance the extremes. Aggressive advocacy of a teacher's heritage has marked the disciples of the Rambam, Ramban, Ari, GRA, Besht, Salanter and others. Within the frame of the Rov's belief in personal responsibility, we can do no less.

Posted by Hello


dilbert said...

How to you view articles such as "revisionism and the Rav?"

Jeffrey said...

I see Kaplan's article as a fair examination of a war that's being waged over who the Rov was. He was a very complex person, so people have very different takes about him. I'm writing from what I know after 10 years of studying with him.

Anonymous said...

Kaplan is probably the least revinionist of those who write about the Rav. Probably because Kaplan has no pretenses about being a Manhig Yisrael. My gut is R. Mayer Twersky on the Rav is very accurate-maybe emphasises slightly more chareidi than the Rav. Rav Herschel Schacter generally accurate in what he quotes-but leaves out material different than his hashkafa.
Any comments?