Einei HaEdah

A collection of sources to help those who don't want to buy into myths about Modern Orthodoxy, religious anti-Zionism, and other matters. NOTE: This is more of a database than a blog. NOTE #2: I refer to HaRabbanim HaGaonim Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Yosef Dov HaLevi Soloveitchik, and Rav Ahron HaLevi Soloveichik, Zichronam L'V'rachah, as "Rav Moshe, "the Rav," and "Rav Ahron."

Monday, October 16, 2006


#1] The Chareidi Gedolim and the Rav

In 5716, 17 Gedolei HaDor [Sages of the generation]--with Rav Moshe, Zatzal, among them--signed letters banning the participation of Orthodox clergymen and synagogues in organizations [such as the Synagogue Council of America] with non-Orthodox clergy and temples. The Rav permitted such participation—unless the purpose was religious and spiritual, e.g., a theological dialogue. Here are his words:

“With regards to our problem within (the Jewish community), however, our spiritual-religious interests, such as Jewish education, synagogues, councils of rabbis, where unity is expressed through spiritual-ideological collectivism as a Torah community, it is my opinion, that Orthodoxy cannot and should not unite with such groups which deny the fundamentals of our Weltanschauung. It is impossible for me to comprehend, for example, how Orthodox Rabbis, who spend their best years in Yeshivoth and absorbed the spirit of the Oral Law and its tradition, for which Rabbi Akiba, Maimonides, Reb Moshe Iserlis, The Gaon of Vilna, Reb Chaim Brisker and other Jewish sages are the pillars upon which their spiritual world rests, can join with spiritual leaders for whom all this is worthless. A rabbinical organization is not a professional fraternity, which fights for the economic interests of the rabbi. It is an ideological entity where members work for one purpose and for one ideal. The fundamental difference in ideology and in observance makes such a unity impossible. From the point of view of the Torah, we find the difference between Orthodoxy and Reform Judaism much greater than that which separated the Pharisees from the Sadducees in the days of the Second Commonwealth, and between the Karaites and traditionalists in the Gaonic era. Has Jewish history ever recorded an instance of a joint Community Council or a joint Rabbinical Council which consisted of Karaites and Torah-true Jews? In internal problems, where the unity of Israel is based upon the concept of Edah (congregation), it is halakhically more advisable and practically wiser not to unite with reform or semi-reform movements. Too much harmony and peace can cause confusion of the minds and will erase outwardly the boundaries between orthodox and other movements.”
for a translation of the Letter of the 11 American Gedolim, see yuweb.addr.com/archives/v62i9/features/rav.html

Rav Soloveitchik’s opinion appeared in Yiddish in Der-Tog Morgen Journal, 11/19/54; reportedly, it was translated from the Yiddish by Rav Louis Bernstein and first appeared in his book, “Challenge and Mission: The Emergence of the English-Speaking Orthodox Rabbinate,” p.59; the article (in English) appears at yuweb.addr.com/archives/v62i9/features/rav.html and many excerpts are discussed by Rav J. David Bleich at http://www.ou.org/publications/ja/5759summer/Letters.pdf).

It’s worth noting that, reportedly, the Rav would have preferred that the Synagogue Council of America never came into existence [stated by Rav Walter Wurzburger in his article in Tradition 29:1]:

“Although ideally he [Rav Soloveitchik] would have preferred that these umbrella groups would not have come into existence, his ideological concerns were subordinated to his overriding concern for the welfare of the Jewish people and the security of the State of Israel. He therefore did not object to the participation of Orthodox organizations in the Synagogue Council of America, as long as its functions were limited to representing the total Jewish community to governmental agencies or non-Jewish denominations.”

Clearly, the Rav's objection is not tied to any specific time or issue (e.g., the survival of Orthodoxy in the 1950’s), but rather, is based on transcendant and timeless values. It is only after stating all of this that the Rav makes reference to an ideological battle. [“Let us consider the second part of our question, which deals with the battle waged by Orthodoxy …”] Whether or not the battle is over, the Rav’s words clearly apply to all times and places. To use the Rav’s own metaphor, do the non-Orthodox become less comparable to the Karaites after 1950?

Any attempt to relativize the Rav’s words on this issue must be peremptorily dismissed.

#2] Rav Ahron

"[I]n matters of theology and spirituality—a Jew cannot adapt to the prevailing environment. In matters of ethics and religion a Jew must follow an exclusively Jewish path…At this point we must emphasize that the mandate of religious segregation implied by the name Yisrael applies not only to potential theological and spiritual associations with non-Jews but also to potential religious associations with non-Orthodox and irreligious Jewish groups.”
from The Warmth and the Light, Vol. I, pp.76-77

Loving & Affirming Jews

It's a basic halacha (law) that someone of Jewish-mother born is a Jew regardless of his level of observance. Even Lustiger the Cardinal R"L is halachically (legally) still a Jew.

Furthermore: Both the Chazon Ish, Zatzal, and HaGaon Rav Ahron HaLevi Soloveichik, Zatzal, stated that we must love the non-observant Jew of our era.

However, let us please avoid validating a belief just because we validate the adherent's identity as a Jew. And please, let us avoid validating a belief just because we love the Jew who adheres to it.