Originally posted 8/5/07, 12:13 PM, Eastern Daylight Time.
Someone just sent me the latest edict that has emerged from the Charedi Gedolim banning concerts. Again, I saw those words "kol Gedolei Yisrael." Kol - all. Is this true? Is this a ban from every Gadol? The real challenge of all these edicts is not the essence, its these words.
I would not say that I was not surprised by this latest edict but the essence of the edict should not be shocking. Whether we agree with this view of Torah or not, this edict does reflect a certain view that lives within the spectrum of Torah.
While I may personally disagree with this view, Eilu v'eilu demands of me to give it the respect that it is due even as proponents of this view would not respect my view. Eilu v'eilu does not mean that we have to agree; it even demands that I argue, within the beis medrash, for my view against this other Torah view with which I may disagree. I am called upon to respect the view as a position within Torah and to treat it as such even as I leave the beis medrash and find people practicing this view. But, while I am called upon to respect this other view, I do not have to respect the lack of respect for my view. Albeit that Eilu v'eilu is a most complicated subject (further on this subject, please see my articles on the Slifkin Affair, accessible through the Nishma Website's Index to Commentaries).
There is a tremendous loss on many accounts when divergence in Torah opinions are not recognized. One such loss occurred in this instance, for this edict could have initiated much Torah discussion and debate. One of the great losses in edicts of kol Gedolei Yisrael is that the reasons behind the pronouncements do not come forth. Everything becomes an issue of Daas Torah and authority. Ideas -- Torah ideas -- are lost. There is a concept of Torah authority. Certainly, there is a concept of kavod haTorah, respecting Torah scholars -- yet such edicts create havoc in that for, without the ability to argue within the world of Torah ideas, the entire issue becomes the respect of the Gedolim thus initiating disrespect especially in that the voice of other Gedolim are discounted. It is Talmud Torah that is keneged kulam, Torah study that is equal to all else. Teaching Torah should always be at the root of any message.
My sadness and, yes, anger boils, often, not over the actual edict -- for often I can see the argument, even as I may disagree, within Torah. It is its effect on Torah study, Torah thought, that truly saddens me. We are losing our wisdom. In stating "all" we limit Torah's breadth and depth. Yes I understand why people may fear breadth and depth but the cost of losing this is too great. The Sridei Eish wrote that it is true that with depth and breadth there is the danger that one may turn away from a Torah true path and embrace heretical ideas. That is the challenge as we leave simplicity. This, though, is the challenge of thought -- yet with the command of limud haTorah, we are called upon to think (see Derech Hashem). To enter the world of depth and breadth is a cost that we must undertake -- for the sake of Torah. The only path is the path of emet haTorah. the truth of Torah.
I am tired of seeing edicts expressed in simplistic terms to, thereby, ensure their unmitigated observance by a section of the masses who will follow such edicts. I am also, though, tired of hearing simplistic attacks on these edicts which do not get to the meat of the issue and, in many ways, further a destruction in kavod haTorah. The call must be l'hagdil Torah u'lhadira, to express the greatness and glory of Torah. When a Torah scholar speaks, we must give it its due -- which may call for our Torah arguments in disagreement, even powerful disagreement. For the sake of Torah, though, we cannot tolerate statements that all Gedolim said something unless they actually all did. That should be our point of battle -- for the sake of Torah.