Monday, March 22, 2010

Why Rav Ahron was a Gadol

Rav Aharon Soloveichik, zt"l, when asked his thoughts on homosexuality, replied, "It is terrible. It is almost as great a sin as cheating in business."

That was a quote from an article about homosexuality by Rabbis Michael J. Broyde and Solomo Brody in the Jewish Press. They say that they can’t verify the quote. But it sounds so much like something he would have said.

Their presentation of the issue coincides with my views on the subject. But homosexuality is not what I’m writing about here. It is about Rav Ahron.

This type of quote was one of the things that so endeared Rav Aharon to me and to all of his Talmidim. He spoke his mind and did not mince words. He spoke the truth to power and had no reservation addressing controversial issues. He never gave a thought about how what he said might effect his stature. He was far more interested in truth and justice.

He ended up paying a very high price for his high standard of ethics but it never deterred him. He took heat from both the left and the right for his positions but never wavered . His principled stand opposing Traditional Shuls cost him his job as Rosh HaYeshiva at HTC. Some say it cost him his health. But he always stood firm and went the extra mile in promoting and defending his beliefs.

In the example above Rav Ahron could have easily said that the sin of the homosexual act described in the Torah is a capital offence and cheating in business is not. But he believed that cheating in business is a far more serious problem because it is relatively easy to do and get away with and therefore probably more widespread.

He wanted to emphasize how serious the sin of cheating in business is so people do not treat it lightly. So he exaggerated in an off-hand casual remark to make the point. This was Rav Aharon. Just thought I’d mention it.