Monday, July 01, 2013

Emes Ve-Emunah: Barry Jacobson vs Rabbi Aryeh Ginzberg - Rabbi Shalom Gold Responds

From the Rabbi in West Hempstead when Barry, I, and the Chevrah were growing up. Much of our youth was spent in the houses of Rabbi Meyer Fendel, Dean of HANC and father of our friend Rabbi David (Duv) Fendel, Rosh Yeshiva in Sderot, and in the house of Rabbi Gold, father of our friend Rabbi Menachem Gold, Rosh Kollel in Afula.

As our friend Aaron Berger has put it:
...I independently had a similar thought - that we were spoiled by having our standards set so high for what a Torah Jew is by people like Rabbi Fendel. It makes it almost unfair to expect others to live up to that combination of integrity, kindness, scholarship and love. I think this is what gave many of us West Hempsteaders a naivete; an idealized  expectation of what our leaders should be, based on what we actually saw.

Emes Ve-Emunah: Barry Jacobson vs Rabbi Aryeh Ginzberg - Rabbi Shalom Gold Responds

Barry Jacobson vs Rabbi Aryeh Ginzberg - Rabbi Shalom Gold Responds

Gust Post by Rabbi Shalom Gold

Rabbi Shalom Gold, Rosh HaYeshiva - Yeshiva Rabbi Akiva
I have been following the Barry Jacobson - Rabbi Ginzberg exchange. Since I lived in West Hempstead when Barry was growing up I was particularly moved by the sensitive and intelligent piece he has written. I have some comments to make about Rabbi Ginzberg's first reply.
His dressing down of Barry on the Herzl "prophecy" statement was unbecoming. It is clear to any fair-minded person that Barry was stating the obvious. Herzl's vision, dream, hope of a Jewish state, his creating the organization to carry it out, his bearing as a statesman who was welcomed in the highest level of European aristocracy and his precise prediction that in fifty years there will be a state, is nothing short of awesome.

He saw what no one else was capable of seeing. The only one who came close was Rav Kook who, in 1907, wrote a masterful near-prophetic (I am being very careful with the "p" word) call to Eretz Yisroel where he predicted with uncanny accuracy what would happen to European Jewry, and pleaded with them to come to Eretz Yisroel.

Rav Moshe Feinstein finds no fault with salvation that comes through the non-observant, non-religious, etc. Don't tell Hashem who He should choose to do His bidding.

Rabbi Ginsburg, your question to Barry whether he or his friends "feel the same giyul nefesh when they  hear chareidim called parasites, et." Is completely irrelevant. We are deeply hurt when those we feel closest to spew forth an ongoing torrent of hatred – didn't you get that? We expect Torah Jews to be examples of ahavat Yisroel – not the purveyors for 65 years now with certainly no let up in sight of gross and crass ugly criticism. They have always found fault with the State.

Rabbi Ginzberg, your swipe at Barry about Satmar raises a question that has troubled me for the longest time. Even a brief perusal of the Rebbe's seforim makes it quite clear that he believes that anyone who participates in the Israel government, voting, etc., transgresses many sins of the most serious order yehoreg v'alyaavor. He repeats it time and time again.

Time out for a relevant story.

I arrived in Eretz Yisroel for the first time toward the end of June 1955 on board an Italian liner called The Messapia. I was part of a group of Torah Vodaas bochrim (I personally was then already in Ner Yisroel) that included Nosson Scherman, Joey Weinstien, Yankel Goldberg, Chaim Liebel, Arum Landesman – did I get it right? The memory ain't what it used to be.

On the boat was the Satmar Rebbe and an entourage on the way to campaign against voting in elections to be held that summer. Reb Aharon also came to Eretz Yisroel and barnstormed the country, exhorting all to go vote. I can see him now from a balcony in Mea She'arim, crying out "men darf vuten gummel-daled," time and time again. The letters represented Agudah and Po'alei Agudah that ran as one party.

The Rebbe makes it clear that voting or urging people to vote or in any way be involved with the government is a certified apikoras, kofer beikar, min and the like. The Rebbe thus accuses all the Gedolei Yisroel of the last 65 years of being the lowest of the low. Now Barry didn't say anything like that. I would have expected Lakewood to dump the Rebbe's seforim in the closest body of water, ban the Rebbe's seforim, and stand up for the honor of all Gedolei Yisroel. The Rebbe's sefer could be entitled, "The Unmaking of all Gedolei Torah."

It mystifies me why didn't the whole chareidi, Torahdik, yeshiva community stand up and roar in defiance against Satmar blasphemy. Yet you write so respectfully about "'the shita'" that is based on a comprehensive and deep understanding of Torah." Your words. I am certain that the Ribboneh Shel Olom has "paskened" not like Satmar. His shita was grossly mistaken. Rabbi Ginzberg, don't fly off the handle. I can prove it. But that's not for now.

I have only one further observation to make at this point.  The Chareidi community:
    1.   despises the national anthem (the drunk author);
    2.   has no use for the flag. "A shmmateh on a shteken" (translation, a rag on a stick);
    3.   doesn't pray for the State;
    4.   nor for the soldiers who defend them;
    5.   does not celebrate Yom Haatzmaut;
    6.   does not celebrate Yom Yerushalayim;
    7.   does not go to the army;
    8.   spews forth hatred (a grandson came home from yeshiva ketaneh relating that his rebbe told the class, "The worst thing that happened since Creation is the establishment of the State of Israel (you have to let that be absorbed in your kishkut).
    9.   considers Yom HaShoah and the siren anathema;
    10. pays no attention to the two minutes of silence on Yom Hazikaron.

Now look again at this composite picture of chareidi conduct. Rabbi Ginzberg will certainly explain, justify, find solid sources for every one of those positions. But one question about the total picture. Who else agrees and embraces all the above? The answer is obvious and should shake chareidi society to the core.

The Israeli Arabs and the post-Zionist Left. Not such pretty bedfellows. That should set off warning bells that you think you're right. You can explain everything, yet you remain dead wrong. It is now fifty years since I experienced Barry's "guyel nefesh" absolute disgust with the constant fault-finding and bashing the State that I consciously dropped out of chareidi hashkofoh and never looked back.   

Jews have always been loyal citizens in all the lands of their dispersion except in their own country. If you would have pulled this shtik in Czarist Russia, in Cossack Ukraine, in the Germanic states, Poland, they would have expelled you, shot you, burned you at the stake. But in your own country you are big heroes because you know these wicked Zionists won't do those things, and their soldiers will protect you. You spit at the state but you demand that the State support your lifestyle – what chutzpah!

I will rest my case until round two.

Sholom Gold
Har Nof, Yerushalayim

P.S. In 1955 Rav Shach took me into Ponevez Yeshiva and had me sit near him for a whole zeman. That tidbit is just to establish a little credibility. I was also Barry's Rabbi in West Hempstead before I went on Aliyah. Please don't hold that against him.


  1. Not so simple, Rabbi Gold. Check out Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro's comments here:

    And also here:

  2. Just want readers to be aware that evidently Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro = Frumteens = Larry who commented extensively on Barry's first piece in 5TJT. What you do with that information is, of course, totally up to you.

  3. This is all stuff the Dati Leumi and Modern Orthodox communities should have been shouting decades ago.
    The Satmar's writings and public outbursts made it very clear he hated - not disliked, not disagreed - any rabbinic authority that didn't kowtow to his "shitah" 100%. He exemplified kefui hatov considering how he spent decades villiyfing the Zionists that saved his life. His legacy are two brothers who each strive to outdo one another when it comes to hating Israel and other Jews, and leave their followers in near poverty while making kiddush from gold cups.
    It's time to stop lines like "Well he was a Gadol Hador" and "Well you just can't say that about the Satmar Rebbe".
    Sure you can. Goose, meet gander.

  4. Myer says
    You are mistaken. There is no arguement between the gedolim. No one ever wrote against the Satmar seforim. That can only mean they all agree with it. All agree that a 'medina' before moshiach is wrong. The problem is that now that it 'exists' and frum people are living there what should be done about it. Satmar says have nothing to do with it. RAK says rather join in with them. It is a question of which is the lesser evil. RAK was an American Aguda rov and the main rabbonim in Israel like the rov of Brisk and Chazon Ish were not part of the Aguda.

  5. Myer, no one ever wrote against the Satmar seforim for two reasons. One, eilu v'eilu, even involving an enormous difference. Two, because when people stated a difference of opinion with the Satmarer Rov, some Chasidim of his did things like call in bomb threats and other acts of violence. Same thing in Israel now. Lipman is not making this up. To say that everyone agrees that the medina is wrong is just simple minded and credulous. What you can say is that among the gedolim are those that are vocally anti, and others that say nothing, though I can't tell you why they are silent. Maybe because they decided that God is inscrutable, and only someone that was sleeping through the Holocaust could have the blithe confidence to think he knows what God wants or means.

  6. Just to focus on one point. Rav Gold wrote that Chareidim don't serve in the army. This is factually incorrect. While Chareidim are highly underrepresented in the army, many Chareidim are in the army, as a simple glance on a city street in Israel will make obvious. I see many Chareidim in full uniform in Yerushalayim. Again, far less than the rest of the population, but stating Chareidim do not serve is wrong. Unless of course Rav Gold is playing the semantic game that goes like this: Real Chareidim don't serve. So any Charedi looking person in the army isn't a real Charedi, because obviously real Chareidim don't serve. That's an insult to Chareidim who serve who wish to identify themselves as Chareidim.

  7. Myer:

    I concur with Barzilai. Rav Moshe Feinstein received threats about issues even not related to EY.

    In addition, just because someone did not write a rebuttal sefer does not make the Satmar Rebbe's shita correct.

    One last thing to keep in mind is that whether or not the Satmar Rebbe is correct (among others my Rosh Yeshiva did not think so) regarding the creation of the medina, once there is a Jewish State in existence, the arguments are moot.

    Today, what are the options? Give all the land to Arabs, Persians and Africans who state openly that they want to eliminate Jews (and did so in their own countries)? Let the UN manage it? We see how well they did in Rwanda and Bosnia. Let the US handle it? The US does nothing to support the co-religionists of its own majority religion who live in Arab countries - do you really think that it will protect Jews from genocide before it is too late?

    To restate what Rabbi Gold says above, nothing is so galling as biting the hand that feeds you, attacking the man who protects you and being a kafuy tov.

    In a domestic setting, this would be called a case of abuse with all of its inherent consequences. In a political situation (I don't believe that this is a religious issue - I believe that it is mostly a power and gaavah issue), for some reason hell-raising, personal attacks and marginalization is acceptable.

    No one of integrity or having an ounce of self-respect can bear the sounds of thanklessness emanating from too much of the charedi community.

    No impartial observer can be surprised at the acrimony that this attitude causes.

    -- Pre-empting comments on my feeling that much of this is political, I have this to say: Sometimes, a cause takes on a life of its own, like letting the genie out of its proverbial bottle. The problem with populist causes is that they are sometimes broadcast by people who corrupt both the message and the medium.

    If what is promoted is not in the spirit of "Dracheha Darkei Noam" then to me it is deeply suspect.

  8. Anonymous of Sunday, July 07, 2013 11:02:00 AM,

    Were I not sure that I had not written it, I would have assumed that I has authored your comment!