Friday, July 20, 2012

A Step in the Right Direction

I think there may be some progress on the Agudah front. The Vishnitzer Rebbe (pictured) has threatened to boycott the upcoming Daf Yomi Siyum HaShas at MetLife stadium. That is not the good news. It is actually bad news. I would prefer that he not boycott it. But the reason I call it progress is because of the reason he is boycotting it. From Yeshiva World News: 
According to a Kikar Shabbat report, the Vishnitzer Rebbe from Monsey Shlita may boycott the main Siyum HaShas because “Zionist rabbis” are expected to address the tzibur. This apparently may also lead to other prominent rabbonim and admorim shlita to boycott the event. 
Until this announcement, residents of Eretz Yisroel were envious of Jews in North America which was holding one major siyum for all as opposed to in Eretz Yisrael there are siyumim for Ashkenazim, Sephardim, litvish and dati leumi. The rebbe’s announcement however changes all of this.
 Invited to address that forum is Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau Shlita as well as Rosh Yeshivas HaMekubalim Ahavas Shalom HaRav HaGaon Yaakov Hillel Shlita. 
That is very good news. I have also been informed that a young Musmach of Yeshiva University may be addressing the crowd as well.

Perhaps they are finally listening to the reasonable cries of those of use who have been lamenting the fact that not a single Modern Orthdodox Rav has ever addressed - or ever will address - the crowd or even sitting on the main dais of their Siyum HaShas. This - in spite of the fact that so many of those who learn Daf Yomi are from that segment of Orthodoxy.  If that is the case - I think that’s great. Especialy in light of their explanation: 
We must remain cognizant of the fact that 80% of those who will be participating in the siyum are identified with the Modern Orthodox world. 
That is an amazing admission. I have never heard them acknowledge this fact.  At least not to this extent. I wasn’t even aware that of those who learn the daily Daf - 80% are MO.

This is progress. I applaud the Agudah for finally recognizing that we Modern Orthodox are religious Jews too – despite our Hashkafic differences.

But there is still a long way to go before there is the kind of Achdus, I would like to see there. While it’s very nice to see a young MO Rav addressing the audience, that is a far cry from having a major Talmid Chacham like Rav Hershel Shachter speak there in his role as a Rosh Yeshiva in Yeshivas Rabbenu Yitzchok Elchanan (YU). That would be an even greater statement towards Achdus. I think they should both be speaking at this event… and if necessary - have one less Chasidic Rebbe speak. So there is still work to do.

There is one possible possibly disturbing point mentioned in the YWN article. In their attempt to woo the Vishnitzer Rebbe back to the Siyum, they seem to be talking about some sort of compromise: 
Leaders of Agudas Yisrael in the United States are working to find a solution, and they are quoted anonymously by Kikar Shabbat as saying “we are taking about important admorim, rabbonim and mashpi’im 
I hope that doesn’t mean canceling either Rav Lau or the young YU Musmach. That would be a huge step backward. I too would like to see” important admorim, rabbonim and mashpi’im” attend. Without them there would be no Achdus either.

But giving in to a demand that certain people be eliminated would be even worse. I don’t know how they are going to find a solution to this problem. But if push comes to shove you invite representatives from all the Orthodox segments to address an Orthodox event of this magnitude. That shows Achdus. If one of them boycotts it – he is the one being divisive and preventing  Achdus.

After doing some additional fact checking - it turns out that the rumor that a young Musmach from YU would address the Siyum was in fact just a rumor and has no basis in reality.  My source was misinformed. I apologize for the generating any false optimism. But I am still happy about Rav Lau.