Sunday, October 21, 2007

קרדום לחפור בו את ראש חברך

Let's get this out in the open. This Shemittah has, for various reasons, been a disaster (and it's only 9 Marheshvan). The Rabbanut and its Haredi handlers have colluded to cause most Jews to violate Shemittah, and sin, by effectively outlawing the Heter Mekhirah. This has also incurred millions and millions of dollars of loss to the economy. It has created a Hillul HaShem of new proprtions. In addition, the efforts to create an effective alternative through Otzar Bet Din has failed miderably. There's no food, no vegetables and no fruit (though the latter isn't even relevant until Tu BiShnat). On Shabbat, we were informed that Heter Mekhira produce and Otzar Bet Din Produce was mixed up and therefore everyone has to accept all the humros of everybody else.

Worse still, the local chat-list has been burning up over the very propriety of the Heter Mekhira. This was my most recent exasperated response.

Let me put things this way. The argument over the Heter Mekhira is almost 130 years old. In its various forms, it has been endorsed by Gedole Torah who dwarf ANYONE alive today. It was also opposed by Gedole Torah who dwarf ANYONE alive today.

What, then, are mere mortals to do?

First, given that both options are legitimate, it is absolutely illegitimate to delegitimize either the supporters or the opponents of the Heter Mekhira. It is certainly patently forbidden to coerce vast sectors of the Jewish population to accept one option or the other, if their behavior reflects the considered opinions of Gedole Torah. Consider this. In the name of what is, at most, a de-rabbanan (Shemittah) these people are forcing others to commit a slew of de-Oraytas (Sinat ha-Torah, Sinat Hakhamim, Hillul ha-Shem, Hakhshalat ha-Tzibbur etc.)

Second, as opposed to the denizens of the rabbanut, real Gedole Torah respect the views of their colleagues. Let me provide a case in point. A disciple of מורי ורבי Rav Soloveitchik זצ"ל approached him on the eve of his Aliyah and asked him what to do about שמיטה. Now the Rav personally opposed the idea of the Heter Mekhira, for reasons of both family tradition (i.e. the opposition of the Bet HaLevi and Reb Chaim Brisker) and reasons of principle. In fact, I remember vividly that when were learning Qiddushin in the Summer of 1973 we encountered a Rashi (41b s.v. Terumatan) that prompted the Rav to comment, regarding Shemittah, that 'No one is a Ba'alim i.e.owner on Eretz Yisroel to sell it to a Goy.' [BTW, this is the other side of his much mis-quoted statement about territorial compromise.]

In any event, to the talmid who asked, the Rov replied: 'Do you sell your Hametz?' the talmid answered: 'Yes.' 'So,' offered the Rov, 'if you can rely on a mekhira for a din de-oraysa (i.e, owning Hametz on Pesah), you can certainly rely on a mekhira for a din-derabbanan (i.e. Shemittah). Now, this does not mean, God forbid, that the Rov retracted his own position. He did, however, deeply respect the views of other Gedolim and saw no problem in having his own talmidim rely upon their rulings. On the contrary, as opposed to the denizens of the Rabbanut and their Haredi handlers, he absolutely refused to impose his opinion on others, especially le-humra. What is more, he openly advocated the use of Etrogim that grew during Shemittah on the following Sukkot, on principled halakhic grounds. [ I might add that one of the Rov's leading talmidim has told the above story, while under the mistaken impression that the questioner was some layperson and not a fellow talmid. Unfortunately, that vitiates the point and the lesson should be adjusted accordingly.]

Let me make this clear. I deeply respect anyone who uses Otzar Bet Din or is stringent about treating all produce as Qadosh be-Qedushat Shevi'it (funding the murderers of Jews, as the Badatzim do, is quite another matter). However, no one has the right to coerce the Jewish People to abandon a decision of Gedole Yisrael in order to impose their own opinion. No one has the right to do mitzvos oyf yenems playtzes (as Reb Yisroel Salanter once said.) No one has the right to להכשיל את הרבים. As the Netziv says in the Introduction to Bereshit, God does not tolerate such pseudo-Tzaddiqim.


Neither should we.

10 comments:

Ozer said...

This should be required reading.

Avremy said...

What happened to Halachah Ke'basrai?

mycroft said...

BTW, this is the other side of his much mis-quoted statement about territorial compromise.]

What misquote he was very specific that he would give up the Kotel Maaravi to save one life. I heard him saythat at hus speech in YH during the Lord Carradon affair-apparently Prof lawrence Kaplan essentially heard him say the same thing at that time-he and I have blogged essentially agreeing about what we heard that evening in Rubin Schul at YU.

Jeffrey said...

1) Halakhah ke-Basrai only applies to authorities wholived 1-4 generations before. It does not properly apply to contemporary authorities.

2)The Rav's statement, which I am obviously not challenging, has been transformed into an assertion that it's a mitzvah to give away territory. The Rav was against the veneration of things over human life. He told me, and said publicly, that mitzvot can also become a form of Avodah Zarah. That does not, in any way, mean that Eretz Yisrael is lightly handed over to a bloodthirsty enemy. On the contrary, in 1980 he told Yehudah Avner, Begin's emissary that under no circumstances should any part of EY be handed over to the PLO which is, in his words 'a Nazi regime.'

Jeffrey said...

1) Halakhah ke-Basrai only applies to authorities wholived 1-4 generations before. It does not properly apply to contemporary authorities.

2)The Rav's statement, which I am obviously not challenging, has been transformed into an assertion that it's a mitzvah to give away territory. The Rav was against the veneration of things over human life. He told me, and said publicly, that mitzvot can also become a form of Avodah Zarah. That does not, in any way, mean that Eretz Yisrael is lightly handed over to a bloodthirsty enemy. On the contrary, in 1980 he told Yehudah Avner, Begin's emissary that under no circumstances should any part of EY be handed over to the PLO which is, in his words 'a Nazi regime.'

Ben Bayit said...

you should publicize the transcript of the meeting between Avner and Rav Soloveitchik.

Anonymous said...

I am planning a simcha and have discovered that any place in Jerusalem with a kashrut certificate from the jerusalem Rabbanut only will serve produce that are sold Mehadrin -creating an ideological problem for me. any thoughts on how I can circumvent this (are there any caterers holding heter Mechira in Jerusalem?_

Anonymous said...

see jameels take on this http://muqata.blogspot.com/2007/10/shmitta-tragedy.html

AMSHINOVER

daat y said...

Great points -and right to the point.

Anonymous said...

"On Shabbat, we were informed that Heter Mekhira produce and Otzar Bet Din Produce was mixed up and therefore everyone has to accept all the humros of everybody else. "

I had not heard of this - can you give more details? Did this only happen where you live?