Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Marc Shapiro/R' JJ Schachter/SE Controversy Redux


  1. Whether the letters should of been published or not is a question. However, now that they have been published, I am very glad that they were. The contents of those letters were a great source of inspiration to me, to see a Gadol as a true human being, and not some idealised static personality.

  2. WADR, you are writing in cliches. While you personally do not mean it, know that you are reiterating the standard pseudo-intellectual knee-jerk reaction to respectful attitudes to Gedolei Yisroel.

    In any event, in the past, those who were in the know knew, and imparted that knowledge to the next generation. Do you think that those who were familiar with the SE at all did not know intuitively and with certainty that these were his views? The publication of them merely served to skew his image among the masses who knew nothing of him more after reading the correspondence except that here was someone they could somehow use to justify certain negative feelings they had.

  3. There is definitely a conflict between Torah values and academic values. An Orthodox academic(to the extent that the fusion can exist)needs to have the courage to do what's right.

    Dayan Berel Berkovitz zt'l wrote regarding Prof. Shapiro's biography in the, Jewish Action (Fall 2000):

    " I am not sure, whatever the norms of secular society, that the Jewish public is entitled to read selective, and often incomplete, extracts of a great man’s private correspondence. I, for one, had an uncomfortable feeling of unwarranted intrusion into the privacy of someone who is no longer here to speak for himself. And do we know the circumstances and context of such writings, so that we are in a position to judge whether they are accurate reflections of the writer’s real viewpoints? In his introductory Note on Sources, Professor Shapiro admits that he has not had access to “some important collections, of letters written to leaders of the yeshiva world,” but insists that they would not have led him to re- evaluate his conclusions.".

    I agree that RYYW himself, as R. Bechhofer writes, can be a source of inspiration, independent of his private writings. For example,from his public writings, someone can probabaly get chizuk that a gadol of his stature probably had an extreme sensitivity towards non-Jews as far as his thinking about certain chazal's, or that he wouldn't easily align with a political party such as Agudah or Mizrachi. Letters written in a private corresondence could have a cetain emphasis(most of us are probably more free in language in our e-mails, than in comments on blogs) As R Dr. JJ Shacter indeed writes in "Facing the Truths of History" based on published letters, these areas of his personality were basically well-known, so that I would think that there would be no concern that without the letters that the Right might try to revise RYYW's overall image, as some have a concern regarding other gedolim.

  4. By the way, Prof. Shapiro was interviewed this past Motzoie Shabbos on the Zev Brenner Show(NYC). He focused neither on his book on R. Weinberg, nor on Orthodox Theology, but basically expanded upon the interview in the JP.

    It was interesting hearing callers from Boro Park and Monsey discuss MO vs charedi way of life and these groups relationship with each others' gedolim. I posted the following on Rabbi A. Shafran's recent "Amen to Ahavat Yisrael" thread on Cross Currents, based on the radio program:

    "Empathizing with others of another perspective without accepting their arguments on an intellectual level, would also help in discussions within Orthodoxy. Last night, for example, I heard a radio interview with an outspoken Jewish academic, who mentioned that there was an imbalance in the relationship between centrists and charedim. For while centrists might invite a charedi rosh yeshivah to speak at their event, the reverse would not be true, at least for more public events.

    One charedi caller answered that charedim can not reciprocate, because inviting a rosh yeshivah of a more modern group would be tantamount to admitting that there is more than one opinion on certain matters. I disagree with his approach, and instead would fully acknowledge an imbalance in the relationship, and that this situation may cause pain to those whose perceive that their leader is not given equal recognition. To the contrary, if a certain group is willing to sacrifice what they see as their “rights”, or put away any slight to their feelings—albeit unintended—in order to at least have a degree of Jewish unity centered around accomplishment in Torah study for one night, such people are deserving of respect and acknowledgment for their nobility, more than any of the other groups."

  5. "WADR, you are writing in cliches. While you personally do not mean it, know that you are reiterating the standard pseudo-intellectual knee-jerk reaction to respectful attitudes to Gedolei Yisroel."

    I am not sure what you mean by the above... Can you please explain?

  6. Baba Kamma question "koffin al midas sedom" if so in Chezkas Habatim when the ask me why did I not say anything to the guy in my field i will say Midas Sedom
    Also can i apply this to a hotel room meaning i rent the room and then invite in seven friends?

  7. In response to Rael:

    There is a difference between humanization and invasion of privacy. In the quest to humanize Gedolim, one must take care not to humiliate them.

  8. In response to Anonymous:

    Anything which causes depreciation, or might cause depreciation, is not subject to "Kofin al Middas Sdom."