Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thank You, Rabbi Rakeffet

For the second time in as many weeks I am both honored and humbled by having my name mentioned by one of my heroes, Rav Aharon Rakeffet. Not only did he say kind things about me, which I’m not sure I deserve, he quoted extensively from two of my recent blog posts on Daas Torah. The latest was delivered Monday in his Shiur at the Gruss Kollel in Israel. It is already posted at YU Torah .org.

This is not the first time Rabbi Rakeffet has quoted from my blog. The first time I heard it quite a while ago. I was honored then and never imagined I would hear my name again in his Shiur. Let alone two weeks in a row.

I honestly do not think I deserve the accolades. I just do my thing here… thinking out loud about issues of the day, filtering them through my Hashkafa. I write them down in this personal diary I have called Emes Ve-Emunah. Only my diary is an open book available for everyone to read.

I try and state my Hashkafos and views clearly and succinctly. I try to explain where I come from and where I am going. When it involves criticism I try to be fair and not to engage in any personal attacks.

It is my faith in God and His Torah and the search for truth that drives me. That – and my desire to serve Klal Yisroel in ways that unite rather than divide. To suggest improvements in areas that would better the lives of those who suffer. Whether in physical, spiritual, emotional, or financial ways. My criticism is often aimed at those whose purpose is to divide - either by philosophy or through actions - rather than unite. Much of what I try to do here is protest Chilul HaShem - and to prevent anti Semitism.

I don’t always succeed. Sometimes I let my emotions carry me away… and I overstate my case. Other times I am at a loss for words and I just prattle on. I hope that most often I am clear and stay on point in delivering my message.

I have made mistakes and have crossed some lines which I regret. One time in particular - in defending one Talmid Chacham from attacks by another, my zeal had gotten the better of me and I overdid it. And suffered the consequences as did my family. When I realize my mistakes I try and correct them. When it involves others, I apologize.

I try to be intellectually honest. I do not shy away from controversy. My search for truth has led to some very heated debates. By simply stating the truth as I see it which is at times unpopular, I have been bashed even by some who usually support me. An example of this is my recent post suggesting that the extreme hatred of our President might in some cases have some subconscious racial bias attached to it .

Occasionally I am viciously attacked on websites like because of my stated views. Sometimes I will get a personal call from someone whose ox has been gored. Sometime even from friends. My family has suffered the fallout by simply being related to me in those cases – rare though they may be. As I have said in the past, my family is more important to me than this blog. I will do everything in my power to protect my family. But as long as I am here, my search for the truth will not be impeded.

More often than not I hear the criticism and not the praise. Some of that criticism is very harsh. Sometimes it is from people I respect – which is when it hurts the most. That’s why I am so honored and humbled by the fact that one of my heroes - a man I have never met - even knows about me, let alone quotes in his Shiur things I have written here.

I have been a fan of Rav Rakeffet ever since I read his eye opening biography of Bernard Revel. And I have read many of his works since – most recently an autobiography which I reviewed here. But once I read a transcript of a Shiur he gave on separate seating at weddings, I became hooked on him for life. I know of no one else whose Hashkafos are so close to my own.

I generally do not toot my horn too much and am kind of embarrassed to mention all of this now. But I would be remiss if I did not publicly acknowledge my appreciation. Thank you Rabbi Rakeffet. I am indeed deeply humbled and hope I can truly live up to your very kind words about me… and never let you down.

Hat tip: Jack Bauer and Emet Le'amito