Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Interesting Posts and Articles #106

  1. More discussion of the phrase "The Rebbe runs the world," "der rebbe firt der velt,"used by many in Lubavitch even after the Rebbe's death. See the discussion at Daas Torah and at Circus Tent.

  2. Lion of Zion discusses an article by the New York Times public editor, about how they choose to use and when to avoid the word terrorist. And this is not as was suggested by some bloggers, that news outlets use this term interchangeably with militant and gunman.

  3. Beyond BT and A Simple Jew have a guest post by Rabbi Ozer Bergman, about alarmists. A valuable read, and we will have to see how the comment sections shape up.

  4. Divrei Chaim addresses from what age kol isha begins.

  5. A security flaw in Internet Explorer, which allows hackers to get your passwords. Until you get and install the emergency security, I would avoid using Internet Explorer, at least for general browsing. But thousands of websites have been compromised already.

  6. Kankan Chadash on Freud and Jam Theories.

  7. Wolfish Musings posts (based on an article in HaMercaz) on how an Israeli yeshiva expelled 10 students for learning to drive, after consulting Rav Kanievsky about it.
    "A person who categorizes himself as a Ben Torah should not have a license, which takes him out of this category."
    He also posted a year ago about women driving being considered not frum.

    It is obviously a cultural difference in the significance of driving (they might use the car to go on trips and hang out), but despite the cultural difference, I am at a loss of what to say when I see:

    The Rosh Yeshiva asked about an additional boy who had also gotten his license only because his father was disabled, and getting around was difficult. R' Chaim Kanievsky responded that that student could be kept in the Yeshiva, but advised him to cancel his license anyway.

    There is kibbud av vaEm, a Biblical command, plus chessed, on one hand, and the advice of a Gadol on the other, based on concerns of what makes one a ben Torah. I think Rabbi Tarfon would have kept his license in order to be able to convey his mother around. And if being a ben Torah means that one should disregard the real needs of a disabled father, then I am not so sure I would want to categorize myself as a ben Torah. What is the ultimate goal of Torah, after all? Perhaps we can apply Divrei haRav vs. Divrei haTalmid, Divrei mi Shome'in? Though I would apply it one way, one could apply it either way.

    Though perhaps Rav Kanievsky's concern is that the availability of the license to a teenager, even for this very good reason, will quite possibly lead him to error when he uses it in other contexts.

    A solution might also be to drive without a license, since it is only the having of a license which is being forbidden by the words of the statement. I wonder, also, if there is a way to keep information about licenses issued private. These students were expelled when the yeshiva was provided with the licensing information, upon request.

    This is all if these reports are accurate. There might be some missing context, such that any commentary. And while everyone is eager to promulgate the latest psak, this is really prone to misunderstanding and perhaps should not have been promulgated.


Moshe said...

Hevei Zohir B'gachaltam, hevei misaveik b'afar ragleihem. It seems you do not realise exactly who R' Chaim is, he is almost undisputedly one of the greatest men in our generation, someone whom it can be said about "Kol HaLomed Torah Lishmo, Zocheh Lidvorim Harbe". I wholly agree with you that there are cultural differences, and am pretty certain that R' Chaim himself would not instruct as such for people from chutz lo'oretz, at least if he would be aware of the cultural differences. But as to what you have mentioned about kibud ov vo'em, obviously R' Chaim knows this, and it is also obvious as you yourself have suggested to a certain extent that his concern is the detrimental effect this will cause on his spiritual wellbeing which is obvious that one should not sacrifice for kibud ov vo'em, if one is not required monetary loss for kibud ov vo'em (mishel av velo mishel ben) kol sheken spiritual loss.
About women driving, I have not heard of one reputable posek that has actually paskened that it is ossur for women to drive. I very much agree with the post there, although I could understand why driving is possibly not tznius the alternatives are definitely less tznius - I live in Eretz Yisroel, and women that do not drive take taxis (if they can afford it) or walk, both of these being less tznius than driving, especially the Israeli taxi drivers love getting into discussion to their passengers, and walking in the street is much more visible than driving.
Kol Tuv.

moshe said...

I think that you are forgetting R' Chaim's instructions to disbelieve anything said in his name.

I think that the story is ridiculous, and that there is no way R' Chaim would say such a thing. To think otherwise is to accept Motzi Shem Ra about a talmid chochom. I'd advise you to write as they do in newspapers- "allegedly".

Please note that R' Chaim is different than most of the Israeli Charedi Rabbonim: He did not sign any statement against Slifkin. There is a reason for this - not simply b/c they 'forgot' to go ask him.

joshwaxman said...

I am not sure if Moshe with a capital M is different from Moshe with a lowercase m. I am assuming it is a different person.

I agree with the second comment much more than the first comment. As I wrote in the post, "
This is all if these reports are accurate. There might be some missing context, such that any commentary. And while everyone is eager to promulgate the latest psak, this is really prone to misunderstanding and perhaps should not have been promulgated."

I left out a key phrase in that second comment. It should say, "such that any commentary would be off the mark." And until clarification, it would be unwise to assume that this is accurate. So I agree with you about "allegedly."

In terms of the first comment, while I have never met Rav Kanievsky personally, I probably have learned more Torah from him than you have. (Yerushalmi Zeraim and the beginning of Moed.) I appreciate that he is indeed a great Torah scholar, and is a Gadol, (though a separate question is how this determination is made) and that a great many follow his psakim. (Though they are not binding on all klal Yisrael; and there are others who pasken differently from him; and there are a few instances in which I would feel confident in saying that he has come to an incorrect conclusion; and differences in hashkafa can lead to differences in assessing metziut.)

it is always possible to come up with a rationalization, and I would consider this "kol sheken" to be such an instance of a rationalization. I am not going to engage in an extensive back and forth about this, except to note that this is by no means clear. By money, the question is whether the chiyuv extends just to behavior or also to money. Within behavior, though, it is a case of competing *spiritual* demands, and optimizing one at the expense of the others.

In the general case of kibbud av vs. talmud Torah, there is a famous argument between the Perisha (Yoreh Deah 240, who based on the possibly aggadic statement that gadol Talmud Torah mikibbud av vaEm, based on Yaakov) who says that one need not stop Talmud Torah to fulfill a request by a father; and the Pri Chadash, and Pischei Teshuva, who argue. This is related to the idea that Talmud Torah vs. any other mitzvah, you focus on Talmud Torah *unless* it is not doable by others. (I touched on this in an earlier post -- see here:

Regardless of how one wants to read this machlokes, there is dry halacha and there is *applied* halacha to specific cases. And this is not necessarily a case where he would be taking off from learning, or a case of an issur (where we say to keep Shabbat and not listen to your father), but rather that (at least if we are to believe the particulars in the article) it is inappropriate to have a license and drive, and one is not considered a ben Torah if one drives.

And if you will tell me it is a davar mechuar to drive (because it is not what "benei Torah do", I would tell you that it is a davar mechuar to not drive in such an instance, and to subject a disabled father to this. *That* is not what a true ben Torah would do, IMHO, in this applied case.


moshe said...

I am presuming that Moshe is different than moshe, as I do not recall writing the first comment, nor do I necessarily agree with it.

There is also the Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde option here - who knows?? :-)

Moshe (the 1st) said...

I just want to clarify that I never intended to say his psokim are binding, and not only that he does not consider himself a posek, he always states not to rely on him lemaaseh. I also agree that it is very likely he never said it and I do not believe anything said in anyones name. All I intended to say was we have to be careful how we talk with regard to R' Chaim, and al hatzad that he said it he for sure knew about kibud ov ho'em and obviously he felt that the spiritual detriment caused by a bochur having a license was definite and obviously a mitzva does not overide an aveirah. I am not saying anyone has to agree that it is an aveirah or something bad at all, all I am saying is that according to what he held about it (if it is true) he is justified in his instruction.

moshe said...

Just a point. I think that one of the problems that plagues the Charedi community is that they think that possible spiritual detriment = aveira. That is NOT the case. Life is full of ups and downs - some parts of life are more conducing to Torah and Mitzvos, others are less so, but at the end of the day, we need to come to terms with reality. Not everything is Yehareg V'al Yaavor.

Moshe said...

moshe said "is that they think that "possible" spiritual detriment = aveira" which is why I specifically wrote "obviously he felt that the spiritual detriment caused by a bochur having a license was "definite"".

joshwaxman said...

what do you mean definite? that the mere act of having it was spiritual detriment? or that having it would "definitely" *lead* him to take actions which were spiritually detrimental, that is, aveirot? The former is plausible, but I would disagree with (and speaks to the interpretation that it is not in the way of a ben Torah). The latter strikes me as what moshe with a lowercase "m" meant by "possible." I do not believe that Rav Kanievsky would know with such certainty that such would absolutely lead to sin.


Would it be cast as advice, in each of the two cases?


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