Tuesday, June 18, 2013

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.


At Tue Jun 18, 04:31:00 AM 2013, Blogger Dov Bar-Leib said...

According to Israel HaYom, the attack against Rav Stav was worse than verbal. He was shoved by some "punks" from an Ashkenazi yeshivah. Several guests from the wedding had to form a protective wall around him in order for him not to be physically abused further as he was leaving the wedding. This has really got to stop.
I wish wisdom had prevailed in Shas, and that the Amar law would have been accepted. Rav Amar could therefore have served another term as Sephardi Chief Rabbi while Rav Stav would have continued his kiruv work with agnostic Ashkenazi Israelis. The Ashkenzi world is crumbling before our eyes. 70 years after the beginning of the Shoah, we have to realize that we Ashkenazim are in the post-Achronic Era. 6 out of 7 Ashkenazic Jews in Hitler's Europe were wiped out. Those Rabbanim from pre-War Europe were able to keep the same level of Gadlut for 50 years until the mid-1990s. Then it started to crumble.

At Tue Jun 18, 04:42:00 AM 2013, Blogger Dov Bar-Leib said...

The same spiritual fall off occurred 50 to 60 years after the crushing of the Bar Kochba Revolt. The Tannaic Era slipped into the Amoraic Era. And it happened again after the Elilarchs stopped ruling uninterrupted in Bavel in the year 930. 60 years later the Gaonic Era slipped into the Era of the Rishonim. So why should our Dor be immune after the most catastrophic Churban in Jewish history in terms of lives lost?? Keep in mind since the bulk of Jewish lives lost were in Ashkenazic portions of Europe, the spiritual fall off is much greater in the Ashkenazic world 50 to 60 years after 5700-5705. Yet, an Acharon means Last. So what are we in the post-Achronic Era. We are not Mohicans because we still are here!

At Tue Jun 18, 05:11:00 AM 2013, Blogger Dov Bar-Leib said...

Oh and how can I forget that the most recent previous fall off occurred about 60 years after the Inquisitions in both Spain and Portugal. The Era of the Rishonim became the Era of the Acharonim around 1550- 1560.

At Tue Jun 18, 05:44:00 AM 2013, Blogger Dov Bar-Leib said...

Rav Stav through Tzohar has been very successful with kiruv. He has convinced totally secular towns to establish kashrut hashgachah and to sell their Chametz before Pesach. He has a way with Israelis that would keep them here to get married in Israel rather than in Cyprus. He might even be successful in convincing men with homosexual tendencies from going to Amsterdam for their Certificate. Yes, he is not my Rav, and is very liberal for my tastes. Yet, the issue here is how to prevent agnostic Israelis from sinking into the moral sewer.

At Tue Jun 18, 09:10:00 AM 2013, Anonymous S Judah said...

I am not sure what was behind Rav Ovdia’s comments, but I did read in a fuller article that he mentioned that he was told things by people (implied as Rabbis in the Dati Leumi camp about Rav Stav)

Rehovot Chief Rabbi HaGaon HaRav Simcha HaKohen Kook Shlita addressed a kenos of rabbonim from around Israel, chareidim and dati leumim alike.

Here is an a part reported , perhaps the implication of this was involved?

Rav Kook on Drafting Bnei Yeshivos & Rav Stav for Chief Rabbi
(Monday, June 17th, 2013)

Rav Kook spoke of the fact that if Rav Kook ZT”L could ever imagine a day when the Rabbanut could reach a level, a level that some get up and announce one does not need kabolas mitzvos to convert to Judaism, adding such a person denies Har Sinai…”
These comments were made in reference to the candidacy of Rabbi David Stav, albeit without mentioning the rav by name.

Following the kenos, Rav Stav was interviewed by the secular media and asked if he would permit one to convert that does not accept Torah and mitzvos. The rav stated this was part of the process and a person unwilling to live a life of adhering to Torah and mitzvos cannot convert.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)

At Tue Jun 18, 03:04:00 PM 2013, Blogger Daniela said...

"I wish wisdom had prevailed in Shas"

Are you stating that you are wiser than Rabbi Ovadia? He spoke and we all heard him. Given your ostentation of respect for the Sefaradi kehilla, perhaps, just perhaps, you could do better than writing off his words as you do. He spoke and no one here is on the level to comment anything, let alone argue. He is not my Rabbi either, but I am rather aware of the unbridgeable abyss between his intellect and, lehavdil, my own.

"The Ashkenzi world is crumbling before our eyes."
I am sorry to read that such is your opinion on the subject. However, crumbling or not, surely the Askhenazi kehilla is capable of deciding for themselves, and without your helpful assistance, who their leaders should be. And as usual, time will tell. Romans and Egyptians and Assyrians disappeared, so did Hellenists and Tzadukim. It's not over, Karaites, Reforms, Conservatives as well as our nonjewish enemies are on their way to disappearance and oblivion. Which side of the disagreement has been around for two thousand years and more? Even more important, which side of the disagreement will still be here in two hundred years? Those whom our enemies call Pharisees, or those who use Facebook?

At Tue Jun 18, 05:18:00 PM 2013, Blogger Dov Bar-Leib said...

It just makes the Geulah that much closer. For a significant portion of the Jewish world to fall below the spiritual level of the Acharonim which have lead us since 1550ce, Heaven cannot sit idly by and watch the Torah mesorah in the Ashkenazic world to deteriorate into disintegrating factions with no hierarchy to the Oral Torah. It means that the coming of Mashiach Tzidkeinu is imminent in order to restore the Torah to its rightful place by the beginning of the next Shmittah cycle in 5776. Somehow we need to hold on tight until then,..and make Aliyah when possible as soon as one can, if one's extenuating circumstances allow for it, in order to be at the right place at the right time. Even if our Acharonim are gone, we are not Mohicans. So expect spiritual renewal very soon.

At Tue Jun 18, 10:43:00 PM 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should do more homework on who constitutes the RCA.A number of synagogues from the RCA do not have kosher mechitzas.

At Wed Jun 19, 04:59:00 AM 2013, Blogger Neshama said...

With all due respect for a blogger that I admire and pay attention to what he says ... however, it seems that the two sides to public debate air their grievances distastefully and disrespectfully, and then say that what THEY are doing is ok but the OTHER is, to put it mildly, wrong.

Sometimes one devote to their Rav or Gadol sees ONLY his good and is blinded to his misdemeanors. Rabbbeim do make mistakes! Sometimes they are misguided by people who advise them. Usually these advisors have many axes to grind.

While I wouldn't say everything the following blogs said, I do agree with their premise and they make very good points, much of which I agree. I haven't read Dov's comments above yet, but wanted to jump into this hot subject. I do believe that HaShem has 'scolded' His Haredim and they need to reflect, reform, and do some teshuva. Only a Father can do this to His children that he loves. We, the observers, need to recognize this and respect that there is a purpose to what is going on right now.

HaShem is bringing the Geula right now, and while some don't understand why the socialists had to build up the Land and create a functioning State as they did in 1948 and pre-48, it is our obligation to create ACHDUS and not badmouth people who are different than you. There is a CEO in charge of things!

a somewhat heated defense that has good points
a perspective other than one's own cloudy glasses
sample misuse of a Gadol's word

Because we are living in a Shefa of Din, zealotry is everywhere and overdone.

Otherwise, your devotion is to be admired :-)

At Wed Jun 19, 06:27:00 AM 2013, Blogger yaak said...


With all due respect to you:

Believe me, I don't just read the Haredi perspective on the MK - I've seen the other side too. I still agree that what the MK is doing is 100% wrong and needs to be stopped in his tracks. I hope he one day sees the error of his ways.

In regard to being blinded to one's gadol, of course a gadol can make mistakes. However, I find it curious that today's society always says statements like "The Gadol is out of touch" and "The Gadol is mislead by his associates" when they disagree with his statement. They said the same with R' Akiva Eiger and the Hafetz Hayim. Rav Ovadia Shlit"a knows exactly what he's talking about when he said what he said.
Now, it's perfectly OK for the RCA to have disagreed with Rav Ovadia's assessment of the situation, but in such language?! Really?! This is how one talks about a Gadol BeYisrael?!?! This is more than outrageous.

At Wed Jun 19, 02:01:00 PM 2013, Anonymous Sari said...

But what you are not seeing is that a Gadol ALSO has to be careful how he speaks about a fellow Jew. "Divrei chachamin b'nachat nishma'im".

At Wed Jun 19, 02:37:00 PM 2013, Blogger yaak said...

Who are you or I or the RCA to criticize the way a Gadol speaks?

According to him, Rav Stav is like Doeg Ha'adomi so it is permitted - or even obligatory - to speak negatively against him.

If you knew that Doeg Ha'adomi was about to become Chief Rabbi of Israel, wouldn't you speak up against such a person?

I personally am not getting into whether Rav Stav should be compared to Doeg Ha'adomi or not - such is not my place - but according to the testimony Rav Ovadia received, he is.

So, wouldn't you speak up too? Would you speak BeNahat when a Doeg Ha'adomi is about to become Chief Rabbi?

At Wed Jun 19, 04:00:00 PM 2013, Anonymous Sari said...

Did you ever hear Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, the Lubavitcher Rebbe speak in such a violent and hateful way about a fellow Jew? Words have power and not long after Rav Ovadia said his words there was physical violence towards Rabbi Stav at the wedding of the Kotel Rabbi's daughter. Do you really think this is desirable?

At Wed Jun 19, 04:09:00 PM 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Moshe Rabeinu once asked HaKadosh Baruhu: What did those innocent children that Pharo drowned them into a river? Hashem told him that no good will come out from them.

At Wed Jun 19, 04:10:00 PM 2013, Blogger yaak said...

Did you ever hear Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, the Lubavitcher Rebbe speak in such a violent and hateful way about a fellow Jew?

The great rabbis you mentioned were never in the political position Rav Ovadia Shlit"a is in. As a leader of the Dor, he must explain his position to the Dor. And Has Veshalom, Rav Ovadia did NOT speak in a hateful or violent way. Do you think Has Veshalom that his words are full of hate?! Afra Lefumech. He loves every Jew and needs to prevent Michshol, so he felt obligated to speak up.

Words have power and not long after Rav Ovadia said his words there was physical violence towards Rabbi Stav at the wedding of the Kotel Rabbi's daughter. Do you really think this is desirable?

This was an unfortunate incident, and no, of course, I don't think this is desirable. I would like to see incontrovertible evidence that the violent incident is directly related to Rav Ovadia's words. There was negative feelings toward Rav Stav way before his words. And even if you have such evidence, one cannot lay blame on the Gadol for trying to prevent a Michshol. Some idiots decided to be idiots. This happens everywhere.


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