Sunday, December 20, 2009

Of the Rav, Rav Schachter and Mishpaha

I was genuinely excited to see that ורבי מורי R. Herschel Schachter שליט"א was featured on the cover of the English edition of Mishpaha magazine (I was a member of Rav Schachter's Kollel from 1979-1982).
Of course, Rav Schachter deserves the recognition, in his own right. More to the point, the extensive interview furthers the process whereby the writings of מו"ר רש"י Rav Soloveitchik זצ"ל openly penetrate the Yeshiva and Hassidic communities. [I say 'openly' because everyone knows that אגרות הגרי"ד , שיעורים לזכר אבא מרי ז"ל and the various collections of שיעורים are purchased by 'Black hat' Yeshivah students, teachers and others.] It caps the process that Rav Schachter began with his two anthologies, נפש הרב and פניני הרב.
The interview was, largely, a pleasure to read. I was especially appreciative of the fact that Rav Schachter admitted that he has a very specific 'take' on our Rebbe, which differs from that of others (e.g. Rabbi Professor Haym Soloveitchik, the Rav's son, whom he quotes in the interview, to that effect). His presentation lent an important element of balance to the picture of the Rav as being primarily a philosopher.
There were, albeit, some very jarring moments.
Rav Schachter cites David Holzer's highly problematic collection of the Rav's private table talk, Thinking Aloud, to the effect that Religious Zionism had replaced the Torah with Zionism. This citation was particularly troublesome by the way it was manipulated by the interviewer. Now, I have no doubt that the Rav might have been troubled by the priorities of certain elements within Religious Zionism, especially by the Rav Kook school. He certainly might well have expressed that criticism sharply. However, the way the quote was used left the impression that Rav Soloveitchik distanced himself from Religious Zionism. This is simply not true. I was sorry that this was cited by Rav Schachter, who is himself a devoted Religious Zionist and a very outspoken lover of Eretz Yisrael.
The interview closes with Rav Schachter's observation that the Rav urged people to study for graduate degrees in order to make a living. He suggests that had he been aware of the effloresence of the Kollelim, he would not have been so emphatic about the need for graduate study. Others, myself included, differ with him on this point.
Rav Soloveitchik זצ"ל needs no one's validation. He was recognized in his lifetime by the greatest of his colleagues (R. Moshe Feinstein, R. Aaron Kotler, R. Shneur Kotler, R. Shmuel Rozovsky, R. Avraham Cahaneman and others זצ"ל) as 'the greatest Rosh Yeshiva in the world.' However, that message was hidden from the masses, and Rav Schachter has done a tremendous service, a huge Qiddush HaShem, to our rebbe and our Yeshiva by disseminating his Torah near and far.
[UPDATE: ברוך שכיוונתי. Rabbi Harry Maryles comes to similar conclusions, and puts things into perspective, here.]

11 comments:

Menachem Butler said...

The interested reader will note that Rav Schachter's autograph adorns the image included at the MyObiterDicta blog. However, that autograph does not appear on every cover of this issue of Mishpacha, but was rather gathered by myself after I received a copy of this issue and brought it to Rav Schachter and asked for his autograph last week!! thanks for linking!!

tzvee said...

definitely worth more with an autograph. anyway, am i wrong in seeing a slight in the magazine calling a 70 year old rabbinic leader, a "prize disciple"? doesn't that detract from and diminish his stature as a leader in his own right?

daz said...

Rav Schachter cites David Holzer's highly problematic collection of the Rav's private table talk, Thinking Aloud, to the effect that Religious Zionism had replaced the Torah with Zionism. This citation was particularly troublesome by the way it was manipulated by the interviewer.

As I recall (I don't have the article before me), the author -- not R' Schachter -- cited the Holzer quite. In fact, the Holzer quote followed a quote from R' Schachter criticizing the book, which I thought was extremely chutspadik by the author. I think the criticism of R' Schachter on this point is unfair because he had nothing to do with the Holzer quote.

daz said...

Wow. The version of the article posted on VIN took the "zionism" quote out:

http://www.vosizneias.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/R-schachter.pdf

inhumanity said...

I don't belong to the yu community but I respect them, and listen almost every week to rav shechter's weekly parsha shiurim. I was happy to get some inside to this great torah giant.
today I was turned off seeing the "the commentator" article about four gay men. I simply don’t get it - what rav shechter is doing there - is this really the institution where the rav and so many roshei yeshiva served.

EJB said...

I like how you have Menachem Butler's copy of the cover!

das said...

daz is correct. The quote about RZ was added by the author of article.
Yes, it is misleading of R. Frankfurter. Tradition (a few? years ago) had discussion of Rav's view of zionism. Back and forth with R.Meizelman and R.Lichtenstien.

Article, obviously, does not mention R.Schachters positive approach to EY and Medinah - 10 reasons to celebrate Yom Haatzmaut - available on YUTorah.org.

Anonymous said...

No article is ever perfect. But if you think about the Herculean task this writer had I think it was as close to perfect as it possibly could be. It was a suoer piece of writing, and a convincing one as well.

Anonymous said...

The article was written primarily for a charedi readership so let's go easy on him. I just heard that the author of the piece also published a critically acclaimed commentary on Sefer Yonah. He seems to be gifted writer as well as a sharp thinker.

Anonymous said...

listen to rabbi arnie rakefet's news conference on the mishpacha article on rjbs and you may learn something new. its at 58 min.


http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/740330/Rabbi_Aaron_Rakeffet-Rothkoff/2009-12-21_Press_Conference

Y. Ben-David said...

I am constantly amazed by the incredible inferiority complex people like you from YU have. You are constantly searching for approval from the Haredi world and any time they throw a bone in your direction, like this article, it seems that it as if the Mashiach has come for you. Constantly you are bringing quotes that Haredi leaders made on occasion acknowledging Rav Soloveitchik as a Torah scholar on a par with theirs, as if otherwise, you really wouldn't be sure of it.
For all your criticism of the Rav Kook people, you must at least admit that they have confidence in their beliefs are are not always looking over their shoulders at what the Haredim think. They built their own school system outside both the regular Mizrachi State Religious system and the Haredi schools that has succeeded in turning out scholars as well as a committed laity. This is because they are committed to their values and don't seek approval from those who don't accept their derech in any event (and this includes the secular Zionist leadership that much of the Religious Zionist movement felt it needed the approval of but which many of Rav Kook's followers realized the bankruptcy of long ago)