Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Is Rav Elyashiv a Gadol?

The answer is yes... and no. He is a Gadol B’Torah, but not a Gadol B’Yisroel, the latter requiring leadership.

I have been accused of trampling on Rav Elyashiv. I take personal offense at this. I never fail to be amazed at the level of simplemindedness demonstrated by of some of my critics. I want to try once again to clarify my position on this.

I do not God forbid 'trample' on Rav Elyashiv. This is an overtly simplistic way of reading me.

I don't know what it is with people who see things in such black and white terms. They seem to have the need to take my words out of context, exaggerate them, or put a spin on them that was never intended. Their obvious purpose is to discredit me and ‘prove’ I am an extremist Charedi or Gadol basher. Have they ever heard of the concept of complexity? My views are not simple. They are complex.

By definition one cannot dishonor individuals by calling them Tzadikim, Talmidei Chachamim par excellence or major Poskim. Those are the kinds of words I would use about Rav Elyashiv.

I do not however see him as a Gadol B’Yisroel in the sense that I saw Rav Moshe Feinstein. To me... a Gadol B’Yisroel by definition requires leadership. To me... just because many people say someone is a Gadol, it doesn’t automatically make him one.

I say this knowing full well that the vast majority of the Charedi world considers him a Gadol if not the Gadol HaDor. In fact I’m sure that many right wing modern Orthodox Rabbanim and leaders consider him a Gadol too. But if leadership is a requirement of Gadlus B’Yisroel, then I humbly disagree with them.

If one has to rely on people who have been demonstrated to be misleading him about the facts and then he Paskins based on that, I do not consider such a person to be a Gadol ...especially if he continues to rely on those people.

If one relies on bans to solve every new problem on the horizon, such a person is not a Gadol to me. The fact that a ban against concerts came out a day or two before a major ‘sold out’ concert was held in Jerusalem ...and was canceled because of it... leaving many people of modest means holding the tickets for their families shows a lack of Gadlus in my mind.

The fact that a boycott was called against El Al which included forcing ticket holders to lose their money lacks Gadlus in my mind.

To ban a book before a promised meeting of a Rabbinic leader with the book’s author based on the misinformation of that leader’s ‘people’ lacks Gadlus in my mind.

To ban a book one cannot read about scientific issues that he is not that familiar with... based on the testimony of some of those very same ‘people’ lacks Gadlus in my mind.

Now, I’m sure that R. Elyashiv trusts these people and with good reason. I am sure they are very loyal and think that they act in his best interests. I further believe that his Askanim are L’Shma in their goals. They are Kanaim... zealously pursuing those goals which they so strongly believe in ...and which they believe are in concert with those of Rav Elyashiv. But the methods of achieving those goals are now highly suspect.

I do not God forbid fault R. Elyashiv’s character. I am thoroughly convinced that it is of the morally highest caliber. But his judgment on some issues is clearly based on information fed to him by people of questionable tactics ...as R. Elyashiv has tacitly admitted to Rav Kaminetsky.

Telling the truth about the circumstances of an elderly Rav Elyashiv doesn’t make me a Gadol basher. It just makes me a realist. And for the reasons I mentioned above I do not consider him to be a Gadol in a leadership sense at this point in time. As I said, he is a Tzadik, a Tamim, a major Talmid Chacham and Posek with few if any peers living in this world today. If I ever have an opportunity to meet him I would stand in awe.

To those of you who feel that this makes me a Gadol basher then you are blinded by your indoctrinated overly sensitized concepts of Kavod HaTorah.