There is an article in the current Jewish Observer by the renowned Talmid Chacham, scientist, and author, Professor Leo Levi, that speaks about the current climate of intolerance within the Charedi world. The fact that it appears in a publication like the Jewish Observer is quite amazing and is almost a complete departure for them.
First, let me put all the rumors and innuendo to rest. Nowhere in the article is R. Elyashiv named, nor is any direct... or even indirect criticism of him even implied. Yet there are certain phrases being said about this article which make it seem that R. Elyashiv is indeed being bashed. Phrases like one which I saw at another blog: “accusing the Gedolim in Eretz Yisroel - which includes Rav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv, the leading Chareidi Halachic authority - of arrogance, sinas chinam.” This is not at all what the article says.
What it does say is that there were, and still are posters being put up on billboards in Israel in the name of these Gedolim that sling mud at individuals that were not authorized by any of them. The individuals putting up those posters are the ones being slammed by Professor Levi, not R. Elyashiv or others of that caliber. It is the individuals who put up these posters without the permission of Gedolim they think they are speaking for who are Professor Levi’s targets.
Unfortunately those posters go up uncontested. This is the arrogance and what is causing Sinas Chinam. But one can still not over-look what the Jewish Observer did. In publishing an article like this, it distances itself from the stridency of those who are in essence the ones who are truly responsible for the bans on books of both Rabbi Slifkin and Rabbi Kaminetsky.
This is a good thing. But it fails to answer many of the issues brought up by the initial controversy of especially Rabbi Slifkin’s books. It also does not specifically deal with the many rabbinic leaders, both here and in Israel who publicly jumped on the band wagon condemning in the strongest possible term, the books, the author, or both. These leaders include some of the most famous names in the Torah world, people like, Rabbis Moshe Sternbuch and Aharon Feldman, and later Rabbis Yaakov Perlow and Shmuel Kamintesky, and most recently in Teaneck, Rabbi Aaron Schecther.
Nor does it answer the one question that really gnaws at me: Why has not R. Elyashiv stopped these evil people? Why hasn’t he banned them... with a billboard poster of his own? Why is this type of Sinas Chinam allowed to continue? R. Elayshiv has no problem making his views known on virtually any subject he chooses. Are we to conclude that indeed he is at fault here for not publicly condemning these people who speak in his name without authorization? Or should we conclude that he actually approves of what the posters are saying? The Sinas Chinam that is generated by these posters is beyond harmful to Klal Yisroel.
I applaud Professor Levi for writing these words and I applaud the Agudah for allowing that there IS an Elu veElu on these issues.
This counters those who have risen to defend the position that “The Gadol HaDor has spoken ...and we can, therefore no longer believe the kinds of views espoused by someone like Rabbi Slifkin”. The aforementioned Rabbis who are so stridently against such views some of whom hold them to be K’fira or near K’fira are still just one view, one that we need not agree with. There are other legitimate views and they should be respected.
The one thing that would end this conversation for good would be an acknowledgement from R. Elyashiv that indeed there is an Elu veElu on the issues discussed in Rabbi Slifkin’s books. But, that would mean rescinding the ban. He issued it a long time ago. He must know the controversy that has been stirred up. I doubt that he will change his mind. That leads me to think that he does believe that alternate views are K’fira and that there is no Elu veElu on this issue.
I think we can conclude that the Agudah Moetzes through its mouthpiece, the Jewish Observer disagrees with Rav Elyashiv. Yet... Rabbi Perlow and Rabbi Schechter have declared their strong agreement with R. Elyashiv on these matters and they are members of the Moetzes. What gives?