Has the RCA Leadership Lost Its Way?
I'm not usually the type of blogger who criticizes everyone and everything around. There are countless other blogs where one can go for that. I feel I must make an exception here.
The RCA is a well-respected organization that has done a lot of good for Kelal Yisrael over the years. Its membership is quite diverse, and it almost always attracts rabbis with whom someone or another won't agree. Putting a large mix of people and viewpoints under one umbrella and keeping the umbrella intact is not an easy task, and I give them a lot of credit for doing so. Without this organization, it may lead to איש כל הישר בעיניו on a wider scale than what the fringe-left of it is doing currently, so I applaud much of what the RCA does.
However, two recent actions taken by the RCA leadership have me quite troubled. (I must say that I am nowhere near worthy of giving rebuke to anyone - let alone knowledgeable rabbis whom I respect - but I'm speaking as someone defending the sensibilities of others who don't have a blog to speak for themselves.)
The first is the recent invitation to an Orthodox MK - for a party whose platform goes against everything for which Torah Judaism stands - to speak at the RCA Convention. This figure has made numerous cringe-worthy statements, and that doesn't even include the blasphemous ones. Even if some of the RCA rabbis agree with this person, it is still unconscionable that such a person should be invited since he talks and legislates so cruelly to a large portion of the frum public. Inviting Jonathan Rosenblum (who himself has similarly criticized the original invitation, to which the MK responded, but mostly insufficiently) for balance doesn't forgive the misdeed of inviting the original person in the first place. The RCA should know better.
The second is the letter of support for Rav Stav, which, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing. They have a different view from the Haredi and much of the Dati Leumi public, and that's understood. However, the way it was said - as if they have the right to rebuke Maran Rav Ovadia Yosef Shlit"a - is absolutely disgusting and sinful. The letter should be retracted immediately with an apology to Rav Ovadia Shlit"a. Rav Ovadia, being the Gadol Hador, has the right to criticize another Rav - even harshly, if necessary. The RCA does not have the right and should not have the audacity to criticize the Gadol Hador, especially in such a tone. Now, from the letter, it is not clear if the words אוי לו לפלוני שלמד תורה אוי לו לאביו שלמדו תורה אוי לו לרבו שלמדו תורה פלוני שלמד תורה ראו כמה מקולקלים מעשיו וכמה מכוערים דרכיו" were directed at Rav Ovadia or at the Yeshiva boys who shouted bad names at Rav Stav at a wedding. Either way, the impression was left that it was in part directed at Rav Ovadia, and Kikar rightly takes offense at these words. And, I repeat, the words should be retracted and an apology offered.
I am normally a big fan of the RCA, and I criticize only as an admirer hoping to better improve the organization. I hope that these 2 incidents are not part of a new trend, but aberrations from the normally-good work the RCA has done and continues to do.