Thursday, October 25, 2007

Of Frummkeit and Krummkeit

When the Rov זצ"ל attended the funeral of his friend, Rav Aharon Kotler זצ"ל, he was pushed to the back of the hall and physically stopped from delivering a eulogy. A talkbackist to this posting, referred to Rav Goren זצ"ל in a most uncomplimentary manner. This, in turn, elicited the following wise words from QED:

As a practicing MO Jew, I have nothing against frumkeit per se. On the contrary, I consider the present flourishing of the Jewish religion to be a highly positive phenomenon. After being told by non-Jews and 'enlightened' Jews for the past two centuries that we are doomed to extinction, it is heart-warming to see the exact opposite happening. Even academia, that bastion of secular liberal humanism, is starting to recognize the power and importance of religion in Jewish and non-Jewish society.

Nevertheless, this revival is not without its uglier aspects. One of these is the phenomenon of self-appointed 'defenders of the faith' who disparage and disgrace talmidei chachamim, gedolim and rabbis who are not 'frum' enough in their mind. The most extreme expression of such fanaticism is of course the small group of Me'ah She'arim kana'im (obviously I refer to a group within Meah She'arim, not all of its residents) who viciously attack all but the most stringent authorities. At times, this even leads to physical violence, as when some kana'im physically assaulted Rabbi Yitzhak Halevi Herzog, Chief Rabbi of Israel, when he attended and spoke at Rabbi Isser Zalaman Melzer's funeral in 1954.

Most of the expressions of this disparagement do not reach this level, although they are no less digusting and disgraceful. One such phenomenon is the use of the term 'JB' for Rav Soloveitchik or referring to Rabbis without their proper title, like a recent comment on My Obiter Dicta's post about authorities on heter mechira referred to Rav Shlomo Goren.

It goes without saying that such people would go apoplectic if one referred to the Brisker Rav or the Hazon Ish in like form. That this is utterly hypocritical and disgusting also goes without saying. It is also contrary to halacha, which did not make kavod talmidei chachamim and the issur of bizui talmidei chachamim contingent on agreement with their halachic opinions, though I'm sure many have tried to be metaher that sheretz. Worse still, by allowing the use of ad hominem and insults against Rabbis one doesn't like, the more stringent sections of the Orthodox community are burning whatever bridges of common dialogue remain between them and the 'insufficiently frum' crowd. Nay, it undercuts the very fabric of halachic dialogue and 'friendly disagreement' on which I believe normative Orthdox Judaism rests. Otherwise we are no different than the various murderous sects of tzadikim the Netziv lamented in his intro to Sefer Bereishit. It pains me immensely that it has come to this.

I don't care what your opinion is on heter mechira, kashrut, or whatever halachic issue gets your goat. You have an unequivocal halachic obligation to respect the authority and person of Rabbis who hold differently. Otherwise, you're not much different from the thugs who attacked Rav Herzog - in other words, you're just a common self-important bully.

Frummkeit, Reb Yeruham Gorelick זצ"ל used to say, is Krummkeit.

7 comments:

daat y said...

Sorry.Do you have ANY evidence that in today's world this is possible?

Jeffrey said...

What is possible?

daat y said...

In today's world I am sorry to say there is no respect-just like you quoted from the Netziv.There is no 'YASHRUS.'

Anonymous said...

R' Jeff,
Do you know what happened to the shul that was the site of Rav Aharon Kotler's levaya and that disgraceful treatment of the Rav? It is now a makom of Avoda Zara mamash - a Bhuddist temple with a large statue at the entryway. Enough said!
JH

Ben Bayit said...

i agree with the sentiments expressed except for Rabbis who enter politics. They should not be referred to as Rav or Rabbi and should be referred to by their political title - MK, Minister of XYZ, Former Minister of XYZ, Party head, etc - Benny Elon is to be commended for publicly stating once he was elected that he was no longer a rosh yeshiva and not to be referred to as Rav. I personally do the same for all other rabbonim that serve/served in the knesset or as ministers - even those who (supposedly) left politics and went back to their shtellers.

eab said...

It is not correct that the Rav was pushed to the back of the room, nor that he was actually prevented from speaking. What is correct is that some young men approached him where he was standing at the back and told him that they would not allow him to speak. He replied, truthfully, that he had not intended to speak.

Jeffrey said...

I was told by someone who was there a) that the Rov was prepared to eulogize RAK zt"l and that b) he was emphatically 'urged' to leave.

Whatever the case might be, it was not a fine moment for Kavod ha-Torah and a distortion of the relationship between these two welt-geonim.

it reminds me of Reb Moshe's levaya. The overwhelming number of maspidim were from RIETS: Reb Nison Alpert, Reb Dovid Lifshitz and ייבדל לחיים טובים וארוכים R. Moshe Dovid Tendler. There was no mention of their teaching at Reb Yitzhok Elchonon. the first was the talmid, the second was the Suwalker Rov and Nasi f Ezras Torah and the third the eidem.