Tuesday, 20 November 2007

History, Fires and Da'as Torah

Originally published 11/20/07, 6:45 PM, Eastern Daylight Time.
See http://www.vbm-torah.org/archive/shoah/03shoah.htm
If, on the other hand, our faith in the sages must be unequivocal, as Rabbi Dessler argues, then it is impossible for them to be mistaken. Therefore, there is no need to defend them on the level of historical analysis. This leads to the far-reaching conclusion that religious leadership has the all-encompassing authority to issue instruction in all matters pertaining to reality and history, but they are exempt from any criticism – including, apparently, even self-criticism.
So why did Gedolim back off from advocating duchening in the face of a few fires? If their p'sak is correct, then they are correct! Wouldn't Lo bashamayim hi preclude factoring in heavenly messages in the contemplation of the p'sak?

Kol Tuv / Best Regards,


Anonymous said...

> What is missing from Rabbi Dessler's response is any attempt to defend the actual position adopted by those sages, or even to interpret the events in such a way as to conform with their anti-Zionist ideology

I am not commenting on Rav Dessler's intelligence or Torah knowledge, chas v'shalom. But I will say this: When one doesn't have what to answer, one throws accusations and insults at one's questioner.

The failure of most of the religious leaders of European Jewry to see what was coming or to decide, as some did, that this was from God and our submitting to the Nazis, y"sh, and their machinations was a test of our faith as if going to Auschwitz was for building character, was one of the greatest blunders made by any leadership since Naoplean figured he could conquer Russia without a problem.

When one has an issue of Torah, it is appropriate and obligatory to consult a Torah expert. Rav Wasserman's belief that everything is Torah and that therefore rabbonim should have dictatorial powers over the entire Jewish community in every aspect smacks of megalomania.

>What Rabbi Dessler feared most was a collapse of the status of the Torah sages as the leaders of the Jewish nation. Further consideration of his words reveals their radical significance.

The gemara notes that Bilaam's blessings were worse than Moshe's curses. Bilaam compared us to a cedar which stands strong but a forceful enough wind can knock it over and it never stands again while a reed is soft, bends with the wind and then rises again when it passes.

Rav Dessler's essay puts the rabbonim in the position of the cedar. It's fallen over and he's trying to say it's still standing.

>The direction indicated here by Rabbi Dessler explains the rebirth of the world of yeshivot, and to some extent also of the Chassidic world, after the war. Both of these parts of the Orthodox world were almost completely destroyed in the Holocaust, but very soon afterwards they began a process of rehabilitation.In other words, the new society was to be built precisely along the lines of the old one.

Except, of course this isn't true. Before the war Chasidim and Misnagdim were at each other's throats. Today you can't tell them apart. Before the war only a select handful were allowed to study in kollel. Today it's a lifestyle of choice for every kid who wants to avoid working for a living. Before the war, there were no multi-millionair donors contributing well appointed study halls and ensuring the bochrim had 3 good meals a day. No, this new Chareidi world is built on a very secular foundation to which it shows little gratitude.

In short, many societies fail to learn the lessons of history. The Chareidim, however, don't fail to learn. They refuse to.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure I understand Rabbi Wolpoe's entry. The original article actually critisize Rav Desler that requires us to not ever question the sages with the exageration that even self-criticism might be disallowed. To that Rabbi Wolpoe showed correctl that self-criticism cannnot be considered as an outcome from Rav Desler's arguments.
What I am not clear about is whether Rabbi Wolpoe agrees with the assertion in the original article that Rav Desler demanded no criticism ever towards the sages? does he interprets Rav Desler otherwise? and in the former case would he agree that indeed we may not criticize the sages?
Please clarify.