Thursday, June 20, 2013

RCA, Apologize to the Gadol Hador Already!

As noted in an earlier post, the Rabbinical Council of America leadership has done a great disservice to itself and its reputation by saying nasty things about Maran Rav Ovadia Yosef, Shlit"a. Things that I would have likely found in the talkbacks on a YNET article or on a Shmarya Rosenberg post, I found surrounded by their letterhead and signitures.

Sadly and shockingly, the head of the organization stands by his words:

According to Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, president of the RCA and one of three people who signed the letter, the missive was written to support Rabbi Stav during a potentially difficult period.

“This was sent by the leadership of the RCA to encourage him in the face of what we felt was an unwarranted attack,” Rabbi Goldin told VIN News. “The RCA has not taken a public position on the race for chief rabbi, nor will we. This letter was never meant to be made public. Nevertheless, we stand by it.”
This is truly shocking for an organiztion for which I have much respect.

Here is how R' Pinchos Lipschutz puts it:
A member of Yair Lapid’s team has carved a niche for himself, using his black velvet yarmulka as a fig leaf to cover his participation in a party whose banner is the destruction of Torah and halacha in the Jewish state. This charade has earned him a top speaking slot at the RCA convention and at other Orthodox venues.

That same rabbinic organization has now written a letter supporting the man Lapid and Naftoli Bennett are pushing, because if elected as Israel’s chief rabbi, they are confident that he will further their anti-halachic agenda by compromising the Israeli rabbinate.

In their letter, they mock Chacham Ovadiah Yosef, a most brilliant, classic talmid chochom, posek and leader, whose long life has been wholly devoted to Torah and Am Yisroel.

If this is what they do to assist a hypocritical charlatan, what does that say about them and their entire organization?

Their keynote speaker, whose yarmulka covers his hubris and callous disregard for the enabling role he plays, prides himself that he learns Mesillas Yeshorim every day before he begins his Knesset work. He says that his colleague, Education Minister Rabbi Shai Piron, whose mission is to destroy yeshivos, begins his work day with the Igeres HaRamban.

We are to be impressed with their tzidkus. Like Bilam, they cloak their agenda in religious terms, thinking they can fool their victims into willing submission.
I won't go so far as him since I know that their organiztion does a lot of wonderful work. However, I reiterate my demand for an apology to Rav Ovadia. This is utterly anti-Torah and will not be stood for. If they ever want to be respected by the non-Modern Orthodox world in any way, shape, or form, an apology must be forthcoming.  And the sooner, the better.

I urge everyone - and especially RCA members - who value Kevod Hatorah to comment below in support of an apology by the RCA leaders.  No matter what you hold about Rav Stav, we all should agree that saying nasty things about Rav Ovadia, the greatest Posek alive today, is way, way, way beyond the pale.

I will, Beli Neder, be posting on this topic every week throughout the summer until I am made aware of an apology from the RCA leaders to Maran Rav Ovadia, Shlit"a.


At Thu Jun 20, 12:21:00 PM 2013, Blogger Avi said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Thu Jun 20, 12:29:00 PM 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Thu Jun 20, 12:39:00 PM 2013, Blogger yaak said...

Sorry, I have a few rules on my blog and calling Rav Ovadia names crosses one of those lines.

If you want to restate your argument in a more respectful way, please do so.

At Thu Jun 20, 01:14:00 PM 2013, Blogger Rivka said...

I fully agree that the RCA must apologize to Rav Yosef. I was truly shocked to see what they said. I fear for them and their organization if they fail to make this right before Hashem and the Jewish people.
Thank you for giving attention to this.
Rivka Sharvit

At Thu Jun 20, 02:39:00 PM 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also fully agree with you about the RCA. I am not, however, shocked at their behavior, as they have been controversial lately about a number of topics. They were advised to oust a certain group and Rabbi who ordains women as rabbis but call themselves orthodox. So no surprise with them. The RCA seems to be more political than what its role should be. Having someone like Lapid as a speaker is in itself a chilul. The State of Israel is going all out against the chareidi world and it is no longer a secret about their war against daatiyim. They are stirring up trouble now, it seems, for Rabbi Metzger also. Read Arutz 7. The disrespect for Gedolei Yisrael is out of hand; truly the era of the dog! We hope that the RCA will wake up to reconsider and apologize to probably today's world's greatest talmid chacham, Rav Ovadia Yosef, shlita.

At Thu Jun 20, 05:37:00 PM 2013, Blogger Dov Bar-Leib said...

Ya'ak: How do you deal with the fact that Rav Ovadia Yosef Shlita called Rav Stav a "rasha" and how making him Chief Rabbi is the equivalent of putting an idol in the Heichal of the Temple? In what light can we understand such harsh statements? The two men have never met. Can one make such harsh statements without meeting him especially if he is another Jew? Thank you for your explanation in advance.

At Thu Jun 20, 05:47:00 PM 2013, Blogger yaak said...

First of all, this is beside the point. It should not matter what Rav Ovadia said about Rav Stav - the RCA must retract from its statement no matter what Rav Ovadia said. He is a Muhzak Gadol BeYisrael, and that Hazaka has never left - so they therefore are in the wrong for saying such a vile thing to the Gadol Hador.

Now, in regards to what Rav Ovadia said, you asked in what light we can understand such statements. We can understand these statements in light of testimony that he received from both Haredim and Dati Leumi Rabbanim that Rav Stav is dangerous to the Rabbinate. Is he obligated to have met him in order to come to a conclusion? Testimony works whether the Nidon is present or not.

I'm not here to judge Rav Stav (I've seen both positive and negative articles about him), but Rav Ovadia considers him the Doeg Ha'adomi of our time. Wouldn't you make a harsh statement to prevent Doeg Ha'adomi from becoming the Chief Rabbi of Israel?

At Thu Jun 20, 05:57:00 PM 2013, Blogger Dov Bar-Leib said...

Do'eg murdered the 85 Priests of Nov along with all women and children in that city. I don't think Rav Ovadia was comparing Rav Stav to Do'eg's murderous tendency. What aspect of Do'eg's personality or deeds is Rav Ovadia comparing Rav Stav to??

At Thu Jun 20, 06:36:00 PM 2013, Blogger yaak said...

To a Talmid Hacham without Yir'at Shamayim. Those were Rav Ovadia's words.

At Thu Jun 20, 09:21:00 PM 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Yaak,

I think it is obvious that the proper approach is to never denigrate anyone, don't shame a regular person, and kal v'chomer not a talmid chacham. The irony is, that by R' Ovadia shaming R' Stav he is teaching by example, to shame people you disagree with. Teh second irony is that if R' Ovadia wants to succeed in people listening to him, then speaking nicely and using logic (not shaming) to argue his position will ensure that many more Israelis side with him.
Kol tuv,

At Thu Jun 20, 09:28:00 PM 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

another point,
I believe that most secular and Dati Israelis prefer R' Stav over R' Ovadia, not only because of his more liberal view points (which I don't like), but because of hie more pleasing and easy going approach. It is not just the content of the position, it is his approach of genuinely liking and respecting the average Israeli.


At Thu Jun 20, 09:41:00 PM 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

3rd point,

This isn't a question of who is greater than who. Most people would agree that R' Ovadia is greater. But no one should be denigrating a talmid chachom! And comparing a talmid chachom to Doeg is the greatest denigration! Don't you think that you have an obligation to defend R' Stav's honor? Yaak, I think that you have a negius here, which is causing you not to think rationally. I like and respect R' Ovadia very much - I just don't have such a personal negius like you. I think that the majority of people who like and respect R' Ovadia are shocked by his words against R' Stav. The fact that R' Ovadia is a Gadol doesn't permit him to use such words - adderabba! - the fact that he is a gadol should make him speak even more gently and with even more humility!


At Thu Jun 20, 09:52:00 PM 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

4th point,
The sad thing is that many people like me - yeshivish, right wingers - are upset precisely because we believe that R' Ovadia and many others in the yeshivish circles are ruining it for us by not speaking and acting in a nice and respectful manner. The last thing that I want is for R' Stav to be Chief Rabbi - I disagree strongly with his liberal view points - but R' Ovadia is causing the Israeli people to hate the right wing viewpoints because tehy don't like the way the right wingers conduct themselves.

Don't you think that if Chareidim would act towards the secular Israelis like the moderate chareidim in the US act toward other people, that the secular Israelis wouldn't hate them? Why can't they get along like we get along in America?
Any normal person who is treated like that would hate the other person!

At Thu Jun 20, 10:03:00 PM 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to drive home the last point, don't you think that if all chareidim acted like R' Aryeh Levine, that would cause the secular Israelis to bend over backwards to accommodate the chareidim?

There are many frum people in America who can testify that their non-jewish bosses have bent over backwards to accommodate them because they have earned their respect by the way they conduct themselves.

If R' Ovadia's words against R' Stav would be reported in the New York Times wouldn't it cause a Chilul Hashem? Is it so hard to disagree with R' Stav and campaign against him in a respectful manner?

Kol tuv,

At Thu Jun 20, 11:25:00 PM 2013, Blogger yaak said...


As a Yeshivish person, I'm sure you are aware of incidents in the gemara where they used Nezifa and incidents where they spoke calmly. Hachamim know when to use each. You say that you know better and it will put Haredim in a better light when they only use the calm approach. I don't agree.

Rav Ovadia explicitly used the words "Should I be Mahnif?!" Rav Ovadia knows that being right is not always a popularity contest. Nor does he expect it to be so. The point is not to influence public opinion, but to show to his core base what the right Derech is.

When the Torah world is being attacked from all sides, he realizes that the person to put in the Chief Rabbi position is NOT someone that Lapid and Bennet want in that position, but someone that they hate. And he needs to drive home that idea using Nezifa.

You seem to think that being a Gadol means to always speak softly. That may be true for a Rosh Yeshiva or Posek or someone like Rav Aryeh Levine. However, you don't seem to realize the difference between them and a Manhig Hador. A Manhig needs to use Nezifa more often, especially if he knows that the calm approach will be ineffective. Think of Rav Schach in this regard as well. It wasn't popular, but it was right.

Here's the Orehot Tzaddikim, chapter 24:

כי יש אדם שאינו מקבל תוכחה בגערה, אלא בנחת, שנאמר: "דברי חכמים בנחת נשמעים" (קהלת ט, יז). ויש שצריך גערה, שנאמר: "תחת גערה במבין" (משלי יז, י); ויש במלקות, שנאמר: "ומהלומות לגו כסילים" (שם יט, כט); ויש אפילו בהכאות לא יועיל, שנאמר: "מהכות כסיל מאה" (שם יז, י). אם כן, מה נעשה לו? אין לו תקנה אלא תגרשהו

See also the תשובת חות יאיר that is printed in the back of the Sefer Hafetz Hayim, where we find a Rabbi talking sharply to his students in order to prevent them from erring, so all the more so to prevent the entire Tzibbur from erring:

הייגו שמותר
לרב להוכיח לתלמידיו בדברים קשים כדי לזרזרם שיעיינו תשגיחו משמרו מן הטעות והשגיאה,

There are many proofs brought down there.

So, yes, I may have Negiot, but I know how to think rationally too - thank you very much.

Now, after all your points, don't you think that the RCA was totally out of line? I certainly do.

At Thu Jun 20, 11:41:00 PM 2013, Blogger yaak said...

Furthermore, AZ, what happened to Emunat Hachamim? The Modern Orthodox think that means infallibility. It doesn't. It means that we believe that our Hachamim know what's best and our knowledge is like that of ants in comparison.

Who are you or I or the RCA to question what a Gadol does? To disagree, fine, whatever, if you have another Rav to follow. However, to question? For us mere mortals? Pass nisht.

At Fri Jun 21, 04:22:00 AM 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

G-d bless israel.
as a noahide, i dont have the right to get into this argument. however, i would like to humbly write this. from what i know from my own rabbis, who are chareidi, they stand by the Gadol. in my chofetz chaim lessons, the sage says that jews should reprimand their own in private. only when it wont work, and silence can or will cause harm and damage to another or other fellow jews if the person is not stopped, then the sage says a public statement or reprimand can be made and the chofetz chaim gives a list of steps to aid in making this decision. as gentile from idolatrous past i have seen bickering, fighting and cursing, of the worst kinds, which opened mine and other noahide eyes, to the beauty of the torah, the jewish people and their way of life. just as Hashem made everything in opposites, so we gentiles are in our ways and habits, opposite to the jewish way of life as stipulated in the torah. now after many uphill stumbles and falls, Hashem has blessed us to find our way to the jewish people, the promised light to all nations to teach us the 7 laws. all i can say is a sage of such great stature, a luminary today to the world, has to have his reasons. and Hashem allowed the words to come out. May the jewish people and the world be blessed with the arrival of the mosiach soon.

At Fri Jun 21, 08:13:00 AM 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It reminds me when people went against Moshe Rabeinu who was Gadol Hador of that time. Now, if Gadol Hador in our times said he is Doeg, that means no good will come from him, either he is gilgul of Doeg or that his ancestors, comes from Doeg.

At Fri Jun 21, 10:09:00 AM 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loved your response, Yaak. Right to the point & I, too, feel that way. Also, comparing HaRav Aryeh Levine, z't'l, makes little sense here. These are different times, and the outright sinah and war against Torah was not felt in that era to the extent which it is today. If the average person such as myself sees the outright battle going on today since the elections, against Torah Yahadut, the Gadol Hador surely sees it even more clearly. From what has been written, Rabbi Stav's leniency in conversions is a major problem! That should be the core reason for him not to become a chief rabbi. Yaak, keep up your wise comments on this vital issue. (P.S.: MK Bennett also speaks softly and yet was determined to hook up with Lapid (a Torah hater)-speaking softly is a nice coverup many times for their real goals).

At Fri Jun 21, 10:44:00 AM 2013, Blogger Jacob said...

I agree with Yaak regarding the RCA's statement against Rav Ovadia (notwithstanding the fact that must admit I am troubled by Rav Ovadia's statement).

However, I can't help but note the irony in the fact that the same Charedi community that has in the past, denigrated Rav Ovadia in his rulings (e.g. heter mechira, candle lighting time in Yerushalayim, etc.) and belittled his teshuvot as small-time, is now gushing their praises of him as "a most brilliant, classic talmid chochom, posek and leader". This is the same community that pushed hard to put a cherem on the Yalkut Yosef series back in the '90s, and they would have succeeded were it not for the fact that R' SZ Auerbach didn't allow it.

Numerous instances abound of Ashkenazic Charedi posekim who would even bring themselves to mention Rav Ovadia in their sefarim, opting instead to refer to him as "chacham echad" or this like. In one instance, a major well-known charedi posek quoted Rav Ovadia numerous times in his volumes of teshuvot that he wrote in chutz laaretz but them mysteriously stopped citing him in the volumes he wrote after he made aliyah.

Let's not loose sight of all the agmat nefesh that Rav Ovadia endured from the Charedi camp throughout the years.

At Fri Jun 21, 11:06:00 AM 2013, Blogger yaak said...

Jacob, that's true, but I believe you are confusing the American Haredim and the Israeli Haredim. They are completely different entities. R' Lipshutz lives in America and he writes for the American Yated. You even said yourself that in חו"ל, it was OK for Haredim to quote him, but not in Israel.

At Fri Jun 21, 11:06:00 AM 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At Fri Jun 21, 11:15:00 AM 2013, Blogger Jacob said...


I'm not just talking about R Lipshutz (though I used him as an example, and my case in point applies very much so to American Charedim).

But even in E'Y there is a sense that Rav Ovadia is only now recently slowly gaining respect of charedi groups that wouldn't have possibly done so 20-30 years ago. It's a little more difficult to get a read on it from חו"ל but visits and invitations by the various Admurim seem to be more frequent of late.

At Fri Jun 21, 11:23:00 AM 2013, Blogger yaak said...

Anonymous 11:06,

WADR to Rabbi Wein (whom I greatly respect), there are 2 distinct messages from the YA/BY leaders:

One message is that Torah is not so important and that it should be limited. This message needs to be fought vigorously, including condemning the messengers.

The other message is that those who are not learning need to contribute to society. That message was being gotten slowly but surely. Come along the messengers and FORCE-FEED it down the throats of the Haredim while saying "We are your saviors, Haredim!" Should we not then be angry at the messengers? Of course we should.

So, ממ"נ, the messengers need to take the blame.

At Fri Jun 21, 11:32:00 AM 2013, Blogger yaak said...

Jacob, good point.

Rav Ovadia is like a microcosm of the Jewish people. בכל דור ודור עומדים עלינו לכלותינו.

In the past, Spain and Germany were our enemies while Turkey and Iran were our friends. Now, things have turned around.

At Fri Jun 21, 07:41:00 PM 2013, Blogger Allan Serour said...

This prove that the organization is full of erev rav full of jealously of r ovadia.He is a humble person and deserve repect also for his position.
Every true jew with some knowlege respect r ovadia and everyone shoul respect him.Who dont is erev rav or sick by israeli politics .

At Sat Jun 22, 10:35:00 PM 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yaak wrote: "The point is not to influence public opinion, but to show to his core base what the right Derech is."

I don't understand. The Chareidim are dealing now with 4 significant problems - the draft, core curriculum issues, welfare benefit cuts, and conversion issues.

Don't you think that a significant reason that the secular Israelis are not more accommodating to the chareidim is due to a relationship issue?

Don't you think that if for the past 50 years the chareidim were applying Dale Carnegie's methods they would not be having these problems to such a significant extent?

We all know that succeeding in all aspects of life - whether at work, shul, home, neighbors, etc. - having a good relationship is the key to ensuring that people are sensitive to your needs.

If R' Stav becomes the next Chief Rabbi, and if he then implements policies where he is not so sensitive to Chareidi needs (after being shamed and denigrated by the Chareidim - after all he is human), are you going to say "see R' Stav is no good" or are you going to realize that if the Chareidim would have followed the Dale Carnegie's approach he would have been much more sensitive to the Chareidi needs?


At Sat Jun 22, 11:50:00 PM 2013, Blogger yaak said...


Of course, I agree with you about having good relationships with other groups. However, that is not the role that Rav Ovadia Shlit"a plays at the time that he's giving his weekly shiur. That is the time he is speaking to his core base of Sepharadim and telling them Halacha and Hashkafa.

He knows that the media is watching his every move, but that fact is irrelevant to him. It is not the time to be Mahnif the whole world - it is the time that he leads his followers and lets them know right from wrong.

The media doesn't give him a break - they are watching his every word to see when he'll say the next non-PC statement so they can make headlines. He has the choice of speaking from Emet and speaking from Shalom. He chooses Emet. And for that, we are grateful.

At Sun Jun 23, 01:59:00 AM 2013, Blogger Avi said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Sun Jun 23, 02:25:00 AM 2013, Blogger Dov Bar-Leib said...

Of the 4 problems listed above, why is the core curriculum a problem? There are only 2 or possibly 3 courses involved here which will help to get rid of the poverty or welfare benefits problem on the list: (Mathematics, English, and hard science). I fail to see why taking those three courses, by providing some time during the day, would be a problem at all. Chareidim in the United States seem to have no problems with those courses and even much more. In order to help kids get a proper start in the modern world of engineering and technology, learning math and science from a young age would help to provide the proper tools to be employed later on in life. Not everyone is a Matmid, and at the age of 7 it is not possible to know if a child is cut out to be a Matmid. It is best to learn math, hard science, and English from a young age.

At Sun Jun 23, 04:56:00 AM 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yaak i understand your disappointment but those people are not worth your time. Anyone with a sincere heart recognizes them.

Please post about Maran feeling unwell.

At Sun Jun 23, 05:06:00 AM 2013, Blogger Neshama said...

We need a good objective comparison of the Haredim of Eretz Yisrael and those in Chu"l, namely Boro Park/Williamsburg. When I was there, Williamsburg was compared to Yerushalayim, and Boro Park like Bnei Brak. But that was 20 years ago and things have changed dramatically.

It would help everyone to learn and understand why there is a difference in much greater detail. I realize this comment a bit after the above points were made; however, I think it is very appropriate.

At Sun Jun 23, 05:47:00 AM 2013, Blogger Daniela said...

Righty right, Math, Science and English (why English? Why not Chinese?)

At Sun Jun 23, 07:51:00 AM 2013, Blogger Dov Bar-Leib said...

I agree. Mandarin Chinese as a foreign language would be just as good as English considering in which the direction the English speaking countries are headed economically. Yet, they also speak English as a mother tongue in India. So it is a numbers game. English, Chinese, Spanish, take your pick. The point is that in order to "do business" with the world at large, it is helpful to know a foreign language that over 1 billion people speak.

At Sun Jun 23, 02:33:00 PM 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My recollection is that HaRav Moshe Feinstein ztzl was against Orthodox organizations joining the RCA, because of the way they organized themselves.

If so, Yaak, why do you expect so much from such an organization ?

All the best,

At Sun Jun 23, 02:48:00 PM 2013, Blogger Dov Bar-Leib said...

Are you sure that this Rav is the equivalent of Do'eg Ha'Adomi?

Rav Stav In Shock

There had to be a better way to handle this. What confusing times we live in. Maybe if they met over coffee to work out their grievances. I am not saying that there are not rational arguments against Rav Stav's candidacy, but let us hear these arguments coolly presented.

At Sun Jun 23, 03:04:00 PM 2013, Blogger Dov Bar-Leib said...

Refuah Shleimah to Rav Ovadia Yosef. I heard that he was rushed to the hospital because of severe pain in one of his legs.

At Sun Jun 23, 03:18:00 PM 2013, Blogger Dov Bar-Leib said...

One such way of presenting evidence that Rav Stav is not qualified to serve would be to present negative aspects of his resume' which are open for the public record. For instance, how did he deal with various issues as the head of Tzohar? What actions and ways were what he did at Tzohar halakhically proper or improper? But present the evidence without invective.

At Sun Jun 23, 05:31:00 PM 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dov, everybody said their opinion, why you repeat who sure and who not sure? You don't see the whole picture like Gadol Hador sees, neihter am I. Do you think he called him Doeg by mistake and now need to have a cup of coffee with him to bring peace? It is you right to stand by Rav Stav, but don't try to proof what Gadol Hador needs to do, he forgot to ask you!

At Sun Jun 23, 07:58:00 PM 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember years ago my Rav told us story of Lyubavitcher Rebbe: "Someone asked Lyubavitcher Rebbe, how come you are so nice and not using strong words like (if I am not mistaken) to Rav Eliyashev ztl" and he said that somebody has to say strong words and if he would not, then I had to use. So, stop you critics and don't show your sensitivities here, that is not the case!


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