Friday, December 08, 2023

Daas Torah and Elu V'Elu

A display of unity at the March for Israel (Forward)
“There’s a mistake as if Agudah, as if Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah, is” always of one mind, Lopiansky said. “There will always be disagreements, but the differences in opinion are legitimate.”

This revealing statement by Rabbi Aharon Lopiansky (quoted in the Forward) was the response to a question about his decision to attend the March for Israel last month. Despite a ban from attending it made by 5 members of the Agudah Moetzes. 

But his comment says a lot more than its surface meaning. It should be obvious to everyone that there are disagreements within the Agudah Moetzes. No where was that made clearer than it was only 5 of their members that came out with that ban. So opposed were they to attendance, that one of them labeled it ‘Chazer Treif’! His point being that one should stay away from it as they would  from eating pork! But as the Forward also notes, those 5 Moetzes members did not get the imprimatur of the Moetzes. They were actually in the minority in this regard. That’s because the the other 8 members did not sign on to that ban. Leaving their view rather ambiguous, but clearly not forbidding it.

I’ve already expressed my views about why I thought those 5 members were wrong. My point here is to demonstrate the obvious. Which is counter to notion of unanimity in all of their proclamations. 

My guess is that complete agreement on any controversial issue is rare. And this is one of my biggest problems with Moetzes proclamations. The claim that their proclamations are unequivocal Daas Torah on any given issue is not necessarily the case. Not if there is actual is dissent. Hiding dissent does not make it non existent. It's just that they have decided to not reveal it. Dissent is never made public. Even when there are clear differences of opinion among them. They believe that casting aside minority opinion and speaking with one voice is the only way they can speak with any degree of authority.

This is does a grave injustice to Emes, in my view. The public has the right to know if there is dissent so that they can decide for themselves  which view to follow. There is is nothing wrong with choosing to follow the minority view of the Moetzes. Even if you are Charedi. But there is something wrong with the Moetzes not revealing it when it exists.  

I understand the Charedi view that the Gedolim are in the best position to make Torah based deciesions. But when there is dissent amongst the Gedolim, the public has a right to know. That is what Elu V’elu, Divrei Elokim Chaim is all about. Chazal understood very clearly that the Torah’s ambiguity on various subjects is not always so easy to understand. Disagreements between Chazal is what the Gemarah is all about.  This does not mean we can pick and choose which of their opinions we like. That was already done by Halachists like the Rambam, the Tur, and later, the Shulchan Aruch. (More or less following a formula that is beyond the scope of this post.) t

But when new issues arise in our time (as they increasingly do in the rapidly advancing field of technology) and there are legitimate differnces of opinion, we should have the right to follow a dissenting opinion Which should be made available by the Motzes but isn’t. 

The  March for Israel was one such issue where dissent was actually revealed. Which is why it did not get the imprimatur of the Agudah Moetzes. That enabled Charedim who follow Daas Torah to choose to follow those who did not ban attendance at the March for Israel. In my eyes attending the March for Israel was  the right thing to do. As it was in the eyes of Rabbi Lopiansky and many other Charedi rabbis

I’m not sure why it happened this time. Maybe the dissent was too strong. I don’t know. But it did. And I was glad to see it. 

I don’t know what the Moetzes policy will be going forward. Will they reconsider their approach to speaking with one voice when there is dissent? I doubt it. But they should. And if they do, I think the Charedi public will benefit as will all of klal Yisroel. 

This has nothing to do with respecting Gedolim. They should be. There should never be any disparagement of them. What that change in policy would however mean is that that the concept of Elu V’Elu will be restored to its rightful place of Emes in Klal Yisroel.

But if as I suspect it is back to business as usual with respect to always speaking with one voice regardless of any internal dissent, than future proclamations should be taken with a huge grain of Kosher salt.