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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Guidelines for bloggers who feel they have to criticize the Gedolim

Here's my comment over at Harry for those who meet the description of the title of this post:

Guideline:

When criticizing, your level of rhetoric and of public expression can only be at the level of your Rebbe's, assuming he is worthy to be considered a Bar Pelugta (an adversary of equal stature) of those Gedolim subject to the criticism.

Meaning, don't use words like "cantankerous" or "small-minded", Chas VeShalom, if your Rebbe, who is a Gadol, has not, and don't publicly criticize where your Rebbe has not.

And if you're not LeShem Shamayim, be quiet.

Should cut down the amount of comments on some of the blogs by a good 50%.

31 Comments:

Anonymous yehuda said...

See Sanhedrin 101b whice says the reason yerovem was zoich to be king on the 10 sevotim was because ha gave musser to shlomo hamelech and the reason he ended up the biggest rosho in jewish history is because he did so publicly.(see the morasha)There are many more t'noim needed to publicly criticize anyone on a blog and I don't see why all the t'noim needed for speaking LSHR such as verifing the facts or in many cases even speaking to the more accesible rabbonim personaly don't apply.Moreover I don't see how is it possible to critcize or at times even mention a gadol on a blog without being oiver on l'fnei eever due to the overwhelming amount of sinas am haratzim l'talmeday chachomim and letzonis that permeate the blogs of those who discuss "current events"

3:06 PM  
Blogger Bari said...

Let 'em have it! :)

4:00 PM  
Anonymous daat y said...

yehuda,
Only HKB'H CAN 'BOCHEN LEVAVOS-SO DON'T ALSO ATTRIBUTE SINA TO ANYONE.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Neil Harris said...

You post is long over due. It's very easy to criticize anyone via a blog. I can't wait for some day school principal to start a blog ranting about crazy parents who are convienced that their child is next Gadol.

6:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

whatever is wrong with criticizing gedolim, the idea that you need to follow a rebbe on this is another reflection of the chassidization of the yeshiva world and small minded thinking.

I'll have to check with my rebbe to see if he agrees :-)

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"ee Sanhedrin 101b whice says the reason yerovem was zoich to be king on the 10 sevotim was because ha gave musser to shlomo hamelech and the reason he ended up the biggest rosho in jewish history is because he did so publicly.(see the morasha)"

becaues he was mored b'malchus beis dovid (rashi and the maharsha both say this)

12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There are many more t'noim needed to publicly criticize anyone on a blog and I don't see why all the t'noim needed for speaking LSHR such as verifing the facts or in many cases even speaking to the more accesible rabbonim personaly don't apply"

What does this have to do with checking in to see what one's rebbe says? Nothing.

12:44 PM  
Blogger Bari said...

the idea that you need to follow a rebbe on this is another reflection of the chassidization of the yeshiva world and small minded thinking.

No it's not. It is a pretty darn good guideline of when they are 'deserving' of criticism.

Unless the critic is himself a Bar Pelugta of the Gedolim, I don't see where people get off thinking they have the right to criticize them. Chassidish, Litvish or otherwise - who ever heard of a Ben Yeshiva criticizing either his or another Rosh Yeshiva in the newspaper?

It is a actually a testament to the Mizrachization of society, and following the example set by 'Haint" and "Moment" type newspapers, that people feel they have the right to criticize and belittle the Gedolei HaDor in public.

(The Mizrachi newspaper viciously accused the Chafetz Chaim of violating various Halachos and of extreme intolerance to boot by virtue of his vocal opposition to Rabbi Rubenstein as the Rav MiTaam in Vilna taking over the functions of Rav Chaim Ozer. I'm certain that 90% of the bloggosphere or more would take the side of the Mizrachi, b/c the CC was just being "parochial" about the Agudah man being in; he was jockeying for his "friend" Rav Chaim Ozer; he "isn't promoting Achdus" rather he is "fomenting Machlokes";Rav Chaim Ozer himself doesn't want to get embroiled - ("That's how a Gadol should act!!!" - J-blogger);he's being Mevazeh a Talmid Chacham of stature like rav Rubenstein (who was a Talmid Chacham of note) and other such nonsense.

No one who considered himself a Ben Torah did anything like that in public.

So if you choose to, have a precedent of a Gadol BaTorah doing so on this issue. Or, you're almost assuredly wrong, and in violation of halachah, for doing so.

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"who ever heard of a Ben Yeshiva criticizing either his or another Rosh Yeshiva in the newspaper?"

Good grief bari. You need to read about volozhin and telz. And I'm not talking about the maskilim. I'm talking about the bnei torah.


"No one who considered himself a Ben Torah did anything like that in public."

They agreed with teh chofetz chaim.

But in any case, you are changing the topic. there are many reasons not to criticize gedolim in public. The one reason that ought not to play in is because you didn't consult with your rebbe first. And tell me, if your rebbe did criticize, suddenly it's OK for you to criticize based on second hand information? Of couse not. What your rebbe says ought to be a red herring.

That it's not is a symptom of the daas torah mindlessness that permeates the yeshiva world and creates people who no longer even aspire to pasken for themselves or think for themselves. Something is either wrong or not wrong. If your rebbe is criticizing gedolei hador in newspapers, then it's mutar before he did so too, or you need a new rebbe.

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And it really works both ways. Think of all the snooty kids who call R Kook names because they think they are repeating the Brisker Rav's complaints. Do you think that they have a right to claim "my rebbe did it so I can"?

1:25 PM  
Blogger Bari said...

a) Point me in the direction of a newspaper article where a Volozhiner or Telzer ehrliche Yeshiva Bachur criticized decisions or attitudes of the Gedolei HaDor.

b) Why is this issue any less of a Halachic question and therefore not deserving of consultation with one's Rebbe?

Of course, BeDieved, if Ploni criticizes and his Gadol Rebbe then does - it retroactively turns out it was OK. Maybe. But that's like buying shnapps after Pesach from a store that might be Jewish owned, you drink it, and it turns out that it was non-Jewish.

If a person is a first-class Posek of the stature that he feels he has a right to criticize - fine. But don't tell me that the vast majority of J-bloggers have even contemplated the statement of "Kol HaMeharher Achar Rabbo KeMeharher Achar HaShechinah", have even learned through Sefer CC with the Be'er Mayim Chaim once, assimilated the Chiyuv to judge a Talmid Chacham favorably even where it stretches plausibility, let alone consider themselves worthy of criticizing them publicly, before they type their criticisms.

1:37 PM  
Blogger Bari said...

Think of all the snooty kids who call R Kook names because they think they are repeating the Brisker Rav's complaints. Do you think that they have a right to claim "my rebbe did it so I can"?

No. Because 98% of those kids are not LeShem Shamayim in doing so. They're just babbling.

But if there would be some attraction to Rav Kook's Hashkafos by someone I had influence over, and I was a Talmid of the Brisker Rav, who felt that his Hashkafos were treif, sure I'd tell him everything he said.

And I wouldn't use stronger terms than the Brisker Rav, hoping to find some manuscript where he used that same strong terminology.

Unless I'm a Gadol myself. Not some half shnook.

1:48 PM  
Blogger Bari said...

It's nothing new anyway. Rabbi Shurin, a product of Litvishe Yeshivos if there ever was one, who was fairly pro-college (=independent thinker) and a son-in-law of Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky (=Gadol very much in favor of independent thinking), voted for Degel HaTorah, despite his personal leanings otherwise, for one simple reason - "the 'Vaboilniker' (=Rav Shach) said so".

Thinking for oneself, acting on those thoughts, and public criticism of positions by the Gedolim counter to your own, are three very different animals.

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

they had their own publications and they put up signs. Doesn't mean it was right but it was what happened. all this politeness is a new thing. They stomped and stormed and led protests and shouted them down and whatnot.

"b) Why is this issue any less of a Halachic question and therefore not deserving of consultation with one's Rebbe?"

That's the point. It's not necessary to consult with your rebbe when you know the halacha, and this knee-jerk business of yeshivaleit going to ask shaylos every time they do anything is both a symptom of the fact that they aren't learning properly and a cause of such. The aim is to pasken for yourself. Hilchos loshon hara are not suddenly clearer to your rebbe than they are to you. If you need advice, your friend can set you straight about your motivations just as well as a rebbe, better usually. The fact that your rebbe criticized someone doesn't make it oK for you too either, a key point in what you wrote. You weren't discussing asking a shayla, which is a halbe tzora. You were saying "copy your rebbe and do only what he does"

"Of course, BeDieved, if Ploni criticizes and his Gadol Rebbe then does - it retroactively turns out it was OK. Maybe. "

If your gadol rebbe does it doesn't make it right for you to, by hilchos loshon hara or anything else which is part of the point here.

"If a person is a first-class Posek of the stature that he feels he has a right to criticize - fine. But don't tell me that the vast majority of J-bloggers have even contemplated the statement of "Kol HaMeharher Achar Rabbo KeMeharher Achar HaShechinah",

a statement that has zilch, to do with the topic at hand. m'harhar achar rabbo is RABBO.

"have even learned through Sefer CC with the Be'er Mayim Chaim once, assimilated the Chiyuv to judge a Talmid Chacham favorably even where it stretches plausibility, let alone consider themselves worthy of criticizing them publicly, before they type their criticisms."

See how you go from "first class gadol" to having learned chofetz chaim? Do you have NOTHING inbetween in your mind? That's exactly the attitude I'm criticizing.

Worshipping authority is not respecting talmidei chachomim. Respect for talmidei chachomim is an offshoot of respect for torah, and people don't respect torah unless they develop a personal relationship with it. Mimicking what some authority is not developing a personal relationship with torah or with God, it's a hindrance to it.

"Look at what your rebbe did and do the same" makes no sense in this context, it doesn't give you the right to do as he does, and it doesn't tell you that what he failed to do is something you can't do. All it is is refusal to take personal responsiblity.

If you'd like people to learn hilchos loshon hara before posting say so. That's not what I took issue with. I took issue with what you wrote, which was that "your level of rhetoric" should match your rebbes, etc.

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If you'd like people to learn hilchos loshon hara before posting say so."

or ask a shayla ftm.

But that's not what you said. You said it's ok to do what your rebbe did - no more. As though that makes any sense or has anything to do with halacha.

2:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But if there would be some attraction to Rav Kook's Hashkafos by someone I had influence over, and I was a Talmid of the Brisker Rav, who felt that his Hashkafos were treif, sure I'd tell him everything he said."

that's another dodge. Repeating what the brisker rav said is not an issue. You hardly need to be a talmid of the brisker rav to repeat what he said or ftm to have influence over anyone.

You said to launch the same criticism yourself in your own words.

2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Thinking for oneself, acting on those thoughts, and public criticism of positions by the Gedolim counter to your own, are three very different animals."

And none of them have the slightest thing to do with doing what your rebbe did and thinking you can copy it, or that if he didn't do something, you can't.

As I say, if your point is to learn the halachos or to ask a shayla, you should have said so.
That isn't what you said.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Bari said...

they had their own publications and they put up signs. Doesn't mean it was right but it was what happened. all this politeness is a new thing. They stomped and stormed and led protests and shouted them down and whatnot.

And I submit to you that shouting them down in the middle of a Shiur, or internal publications, have zilch to do with publishing a criticism on the world wide web.

That's the point. It's not necessary to consult with your rebbe when you know the halacha, and this knee-jerk business of yeshivaleit going to ask shaylos every time they do anything is both a symptom of the fact that they aren't learning properly and a cause of such. The aim is to pasken for yourself. Hilchos loshon hara are not suddenly clearer to your rebbe than they are to you. If you need advice, your friend can set you straight about your motivations just as well as a rebbe, better usually.


You're really expanding this discussion to parameters I never set forth. Asking your Rebbe about whether to criticize the Gadol Hador in a forum for all and sundry to hear, has now become "every time you need to do anything". Um, maybe, just maybe, you might want to consult with a Gadol before you ridicule other Gedolei HaDor. Or, no, this is just at the Shminis SheBishminis the Gemara advocates. I would beg to differ.

The fact that your rebbe criticized someone doesn't make it oK for you too either, a key point in what you wrote. You weren't discussing asking a shayla, which is a halbe tzora. You were saying "copy your rebbe and do only what he does"

Again, your taking my words as an expansion of your pet peeve of lack on independent thinking does your argument no justice, except to those unable to independently think outside of this oft-used criticism. If I say that it is an appropriate (NOT HALACHIC - SEICHELDIK) guideline, it must mean I hold you're never allowed to think. Tsk tsk.

If your gadol rebbe does it doesn't make it right for you to, by hilchos loshon hara or anything else which is part of the point here.

In this realm, I would differ. If your Gadol Rebbe isn't using the harsh rhetoric you are or criticizing publicly, think again.

a statement that has zilch, to do with the topic at hand. m'harhar achar rabbo is RABBO.

There are opinions that a Muflag BeDoro has this same status, probably more so than any one Rebbe a particular person may have.

See how you go from "first class gadol" to having learned chofetz chaim? Do you have NOTHING inbetween in your mind? That's exactly the attitude I'm criticizing.

No, read that piece again. I said they hadn't EVEN done that, let alone actually think if they are worthy of hurling insults. Your really stuck on this thing.

Worshipping authority is not respecting talmidei chachomim. Respect for talmidei chachomim ...

Blah blah. All generalities I agree with, somewhat. Irrelevant to the topic at hand. The only thing you should be discussing is whether it is a rational approach to take when dealing with public, insulting criticism of the representatives of Torah. Not a gripe about the lack of independent thinking in the Yeshiva world, which I agree is, in some cases problematic.

2:28 PM  
Blogger Bari said...

As I say, in the realm of criticism of the Gedolei HaDor, unless I am of that stature myself, I would hold myself to that guideline.

If, say, no one accepted as a Gadol had called Rav Kook a Rasha for his alleged comment on the soccer players, then unless I was a gadol myself, I would think it highly prudent not to call him a Rasha. Regardless of how many times I learned through Sefer Chafetz Chaim.

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Not a gripe about the lack of independent thinking in the Yeshiva world, which I agree is, in some cases problematic."

It's in what you said and what YOU wrote.

I know you can keep things up for days, and am not going to do that this time. your advice is inappropriate l'chumra and l'kula. Not even a lack of independent thinking - a sign of ahalachic thinking and authoritarianism/hierarchical thinking .

"As I say, in the realm of criticism of the Gedolei HaDor, unless I am of that stature myself, I would hold myself to that guideline."

Well you should think again because There's no reason that if someone else criticizes, you can.

"If, say, no one accepted as a Gadol had called Rav Kook a Rasha for his alleged comment on the soccer players, then unless I was a gadol myself, I would think it highly prudent not to call him a Rasha. Regardless of how many times I learned through Sefer Chafetz Chaim."

You don't have the right to call him a rasha even if they did, and whether they had this right is also questionable in principle (putting aside need to be dan them l'kaf z'chus). You hairsplit and miss the point.

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"See how you go from "first class gadol" to having learned chofetz chaim? Do you have NOTHING inbetween in your mind? That's exactly the attitude I'm criticizing.

No, read that piece again. I said they hadn't EVEN done that, let alone actually think if they are worthy of hurling insults. Your really stuck on this thing."

the point is that you don't have to be a first class posek to criticize - that's not the halacha. And your moving from one to the other obscured that. The whole "When you are on the same level" is beside the point. And if you think this:

"a statement that has zilch, to do with the topic at hand. m'harhar achar rabbo is RABBO.

There are opinions that a Muflag BeDoro has this same status, probably more so than any one Rebbe a particular person may have."

then what your rebbe does is of no use, becuase you are still required to not be meharher.


"Blah blah. All generalities I agree with, somewhat. Irrelevant to the topic at hand. The only thing you should be discussing is whether it is a rational approach to take when dealing with public, insulting criticism of the representatives of Torah. Not a gripe about the lack of independent thinking in the Yeshiva world, which I agree is, in some cases problematic."

NO the issue is whether being silent once the facts are in contributes to further chilul hashem or stems it

3:08 PM  
Blogger Bari said...

It's in what you said and what YOU wrote.

Yes, I think it is an appropriate guideline in this context.

You want to say - "No,no. It's not what the Rebbe did, it should go by what he responds when you ask him a Shaala". OK. I'm assuming you're not going to ask a Shaala every time you want to put up a comment, as a rational person might assume. Unless you want to do that, I like my guideline.If you have a problem with it, fine. Don't generalize the issue.


Well you should think again because There's no reason that if someone else criticizes, you can.

You don't have the right to call him a rasha even if they did, and whether they had this right is also questionable in principle (putting aside need to be dan them l'kaf z'chus).

Hence the addition in the post - "if you're not Leshem Shamayim, be quiet". (BTW, did I say you have to consult your rebbe to ascertain whether you are LeShem Shamayim? If I did, you might begin to have a shred of a point).

NO the issue is whether being silent once the facts are in contributes to further chilul hashem or stems it

Okaaaay. NOW we get to what's really bothering you. You think that using over the top rhetoric in public about the Gedolim is a Kiddush Hashem. Fine.

I would still contend that unless your Gadol Rebbe has used that rhetoric, [ or authorized you to do so ], El Binascha Al Tishaen.

Take the last word, Anonymous. So you don't have to feel like it'll be a 360 comment thread. [ Much as I would feel gratified and smug about my blog if it did, even if by artificial means. Hehe. :) ]

3:30 PM  
Anonymous only shemah said...

Anonymous-With all your endless rhetoric which makes me dizzy reading you havn't come up with a single torah source to support anything you say.Please do so if you want crediblty.As is it your just saying repeating a bunch of old cliches about closemindedness.While I'm aware that in certain circles the threat of being called close minded etc. is enough to manipulate someone into thinking anything boruch hashem I don't belong to them and will only respect a persons POV if he can muster clear support in halacha for it.

3:32 PM  
Anonymous yehuda said...

rashi says on the gemorah of s'hichecho b'rabim says one word-L'bayaso.He says mored b'malchus on the next gemorah of chaltz tefilin b'fonov.Like only shemah before me if you don't have proof from gemorah etc. please don't respond to me as I don't even want to discuss an the permossbilty of an avera chmurah v'atzumah like critcizing a godol (or anyone else)on a blog with a guy who relies on rhetoric and sweeping insults about how close minded the yesiva world is rather then using the torah as his guide for laws of proper speech in public (or private)and yes I am extremly open to any legitimte torah view(but don't expect to be sold on some daas yochid that goes against the "pashtus" of shas or rishonim etc.

5:30 PM  
Anonymous yehuda said...

Wow.Till bari deletes the post before me I'm just amazed can't the machtey harobim be satisfied with theier own sites and not come here?Will they ever just leave us alone?

5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Unless you want to do that, I like my guideline.If you have a problem with it, fine. Don't generalize the issue."

the guideline is based on the notion that copying your rebbe is some kind of end into itself. The problem here is that the guideline ignores halacha - there is no right to assume that your rebbe doing something means you have the right to do it, and it's equally incorrect to assume that if he doesn't do it, you can't.


"Hence the addition in the post - "if you're not Leshem Shamayim, be quiet". (BTW, did I say you have to consult your rebbe to ascertain whether you are LeShem Shamayim? If I did, you might begin to have a shred of a point)."

This is hardly the only reason you might not have the right to criticize.

"Okaaaay. NOW we get to what's really bothering you. You think that using over the top rhetoric in public about the Gedolim is a Kiddush Hashem. Fine."

Did I say that? Uh, no, I didn't.

"I would still contend that unless your Gadol Rebbe has used that rhetoric, [ or authorized you to do so ], El Binascha Al Tishaen."

for the nth time, half my criticism is that you have no automatic right to use the same rhetoric as your rebbe - and the attitude that one does is and has been very destructive.

"I don't belong to them and will only respect a persons POV if he can muster clear support in halacha for it."

then you should ask bari to back up the idea that one can criticize gedolim (not repeat what they say, but launch ones own criticism) simply because one's rebbe did, and that one may not do so if one's rebbe didn't. There is no such halacha.

Yehuda: you based yourself on the maharasha who says what I said, and as far as it goes, rashi says the same though I can't prove that to you.

"rather then using the torah as his guide for laws of proper speech in public (or private)and yes I am extremly open to any legitimte torah view(but don't expect to be sold on some daas yochid that goes against the "pashtus" of shas or rishonim etc."

the complaint is that this advice is not based on halacha. But this:

"Wow.Till bari deletes the post before me I'm just amazed can't the machtey harobim be satisfied with theier own sites and not come here?Will they ever just leave us alone?"

What makes you think I have a site, and what gives you the right to call me a machti es harabim? Or do you think it's OK to say such things about anyone you suspect is on the "wrong side" simply on the grounds that they don't beleive your rebbe's behavior is a relevant metric.

My accusation is not about "Closedmindedness." It's about elevating following a rebbe above a halachic approach to the issue, and about pretending this issue has to do with who is greater than whom rather than about ascertaining facts, judging favorably and the like. The irony here of course is that many of the rank and file who are criticizing - rightly or wrongly = would not be criticizing if some of those who condemned eg the Slifkin ban in private had done so in public (and they didn't fail to go public because they think it's ossur to disagree with gedolim either). The notion that if your rebbe didn't criticize, he was right not to criticize, is certainly open to debate.

2:20 AM  
Blogger Bari said...

Anonymous,

Just to clarify, Yehuda was talking about a different post I ALREADY DELETED, not about you.

8:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, sorry about that then. I got a little too carried away altogether.

9:10 AM  
Blogger yaak said...

See my post here.

4:38 PM  
Blogger Bari said...

Good collection, yaak

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