Monday, July 31, 2006

More Interesanter Shticklach from R' Chaim Kanievski II

RCK says the famous legend about the fellow who had a hard time finding his daughter a shidduch, came to the Steipler, who asked him if he made a kiddush when the daughter was born, etc. is "sheker." And that he himself did not make kiddushim for most of his daughters.

My Belzer chevrusa (we learn "Sidduro shel Shabbos" together) told me, however, that they say over the same ma'aseh concerning the previous Belzer Rebbe. More tzugepast.


  1. This is why I have a problem with artscroll type biographies, most of it is false or at the very least Sensationalized.

    It quite frankly puts a challenge to ones faith in the mesorah For if one person is able to make up a story and have everyone believe it, who is to say that all the miracles and other such stories in our mesorah are also not bogus... Any thoughts R'YGB?

  2. I would like to add two other points about "mainstream" biographies:

    1) My father-in-law was a talmid of Rabbi Avigdor Miller and pointed out many of the missing time periods in his retrospective in the JO. Most stricking was the time that Rabbi Miller attended Johns Hopkins. Hashem forbid that the gedolim should have received education from such a secular source! (Read that last line sarcastically).

    2) My father-in-law was also a talmid muvhak of Rabbi Kaminetzky and continues to maintain a very close relationship with all of his children. I am not saying that everything in the "Making of a Godol" is accurate, but there is much about the past gedolim that never made it into the ArtScroll biographies. I sort of understand why "they" (who are they? the Elders of Zion?) do this, but personally, I find that such incidents prove the humanity of the gedolim, which makes them a BIGGER inspiration to me. They, like me, were human. They, like me, had nisyonos and "failings". But look at how high they were able to climb, look at what heights they reached in Torah. I have my own potential, which may not be equal to theirs, but if they could reach theirs certainly I have the capability to reach mine.

    Am I off base with this last one?

  3. Mort, you are right on track as far as I am concerned. Look what the tanach and the midrashim say about forefathers and the critiques that are given of them... see:
    as an example of David Hamelech, the man who moshiach will be descended from.

    Anything short of the truth and the whole truth is propoganda as far as I am concerned. If you do not wish to publish the truth, better to stay silent and say nothing at all.

  4. Let's be somewhat realistic.

    AS is in the biography business to make money. Clearly, they are designing the product so that it sells the maximum number of copies. They don't claim to be a University Publisher or some other academic, scholarly press. They're aiming at the popular market. And they are far and away more successful than any Jewish publisher in history.

    Your (collective your) plaint should really be addressed at the "academic" Orthodox community. Why are they not writing the "objective" biographies? The answer is simple (I think). They are also interested in making, or at leat not losing, money. And their natural audience is buying mystery novels (let's be charitable), not bio's of Gedolim.

    It's all a matter of capitolism.

  5. My own sage solution is to publish short stories of the same Gedolim in two different magazines, as publishing two sets of books with different nuschaos would be impractable.

    From my comments on Cross-Currents:

    Take, for example, the case of a gadol who was born in Twentieth-Century Western Europe and subsequently studied in Eastern European Yeshivos. The version of the article written for Publication A would gloss over the books which he read in youth, since some of its readership might deem emphasis on such details inappropriate.

    However, the same or a different writer can, and in my opinion should, write a more open and complete biography in Publication B, as the knowledge of such details would assumedly be appreciated by, and would of benefit to this publication’s readership.

    Everyone still has the option of not buying this latter type of magazine. On the other hand, no one could complain that a “conspiracy” existed to shoehorn a gadol into a generic mold. In addition, the details would also be available for Charedi parents who wish to give their children the complete picture of a particular gadol’s life story.

    Also, a brief plug, with Rabbi Bechhofer's permission:

    I will be participating in a new group blog, which we be up and running next week iy'h.

    Hope to see everyone there!