Rav Kotler and Rav Soloveitchik

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R. Aharon Kotler was a fiery advocate of his beliefs that would now be classified as Charedi. R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik was an equally passionate champion of an enlightened and moderately Zionist Orthodoxy. These two Talmudic geniuses maintained a complex relationship that included cooperation in important Orthodox communal causes.

In his ongoing serious of blog posts of reflections, Dr. Marvin Schick discusses the complex relationship between these two Torah leaders (link):

After more than a half hour of futile effort to get Rav Soloveitchik to publicly oppose giyus banos [female draft into the IDF], Rav Aharon [Kotler] came up with the following brilliancy, of course in Yiddish. He said, Bostoner Rav [R. Soloveitchik], imagine that instead of the three of us discussing this issue, there were another three who were judging the appropriateness of drafting girls into military service. Instead of the Bostoner Rav, there was your zeyde, Reb Chaim. Instead of the Radiner Rosh Yeshiva [R. Mendel Zaks], there was your father-in-law, the Chafetz Chaim. Instead of me, there was my father-in-law, Rav Iser Zalman Meltzer. Bostoner Rav, what would your zeyde have said?

This masterstroke did not result in a shift in Rav Soloveitchik’s position. He got up and said that he had to leave, “Kletsker Rosh Yeshiva and Radiner Rosh Yeshiva, a gutten tag” and left. He never opposed giyus banos or, for that matter, publicly the Mizrachi on any major hashkafic issue.

Yet, not long after this incident, in 1954 or 1955, Rav Aharon reached out again to him and enlisted him in efforts to raise funds for Chinuch Atzmai. The high point came at the first Chinuch Atzmai dinner where Rav Soloveitchik made the most remarkable speech I have ever heard…

[R. Soloveitchik] then lavished praise on Rav Aharon, comparing him in elaborate language, first to the Vilna Gaon, then to Rav Akiva Eger and finally to his zeide, Rav Chaim. I was standing directly behind Rav Aharon as Rav Soloveitchik spoke and as each of these comparisons were made, Rav Aharon tugged at Rav Soloveitchik’s jacket with one hand and implored him to stop and with the other hand he pounded on the table and intoned repeatedly, “Das iz nisht emes, das iz nisht emes.” As I looked more closely at Rav Aharon, I saw that he was crying…

When Rav Soloveitchik passed away, Lakewood was not represented at the funeral in Boston, although I suggested that the Yeshiva be represented. For all of Rav Aharon’s misgivings about Yeshiva University and Mizrachi, he respected Rav Soloveitchik, not because of his lineage and not only because from time to time he assisted Chinuch Atzmai, but because he regarded Rav Soloveitchik as a man of stature as a Torah scholar.

Read the full essay here: link.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link of New Jersey, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and as Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He also serves on the Editorial Board of Jewish Action magazine and the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

86 comments

  1. what would your zeyde have said?
    ====================================
    IIRC it was reported that if R’ Chaim thought he was right about an issue, he wouldn’t care that 100 other “gedolim” disagreed and would demand that the practice follow his opinion.
    KT

  2. The son and successor of the Radiner Rosh Yeshiva, R. Gershon Zaks, had a shul on 103rd Street that we used to attend on Friday night. Among the people who were counted on to make the minyan were Neil Gillman, Haim Dimitrovsky and Arhur Hyman (then at JTS, prior to his move to YU).

  3. “When Rav Soloveitchik passed away, Lakewood was not represented at the funeral in Boston, although I suggested that the Yeshiva be represented.”
    Dr. Marvin Schick-he has a very famous twin brother Dr Allen Schick-was at a very young age probably the leading English speaking confidant of R Kotler. By his writings he has always represented the most moderate viewpoint that one could have about RAK. If I remember correctly Dr. Schick wrote a few years ago that unfortunately the Kotlers in Lakewood refused to follow his advice to attend the Rav’s funeral. I would not be surprised rmeber that RAK was certainly responsible for the success of kanaus in America-see eg the ramifications of his issur against the SCA. Note he could have been opposed like R E Silver-but R Silover refused to sign the issur-if I redcollect Prof Kaplans writing about the incident-Footnote in Daas Torah article? Pro fKaplan can correct me easily-that R E Silver was opposed to the SCA but as he told RAK your students aren’t belonging anyway-you’re just doing it to attack RYBS students who are following him-RES refused to join this attacking behavior.

    “For all of Rav Aharon’s misgivings about Yeshiva University and Mizrachi, he respected Rav Soloveitchik, not because of his lineage and not only because from time to time he assisted Chinuch Atzmai, but because he regarded Rav Soloveitchik as a man of stature as a Torah scholar”
    Did RAK ever publicly speak positively about RYBS? Of course, at the time period RYBS had far more talmidim than RAK ever had.

  4. “I imagine that Rav Soloveitchik also had such moments of relaxation. Overall, these were men who eschewed the relationships that we commonly describe as friendship”

    The Rav had friends-they were not necessarily Rabbis-some could be physicians, orthodontists, businessman-not necessarily his biggest contributors. The Rav was extremely loyal to those who were loyal to him.

  5. “what would your zeyde have said?”

    The Rav differed from RAv Chaim in many ways.

  6. I believe that many of the recent posts at that site, including the one excerpted above, are from a series by Dr. Schick in Ami magazine. Basically everything on that site seems to have been published elsewhere originally.

    “Lakewood was not represented at the funeral in Boston”

    I recall hearing that a high level representative actually set out and was en route, intending to attend, but something came up, shall we say, and at the end it didn’t come to pass.

  7. Rabbi Rakeffet says that RAK sent his son RSK to sit in on the Ravs shiurim in YU can anyone verify that?

  8. ““Lakewood was not represented at the funeral in Boston”

    I recall hearing that a high level representative actually set out and was en route, intending to attend, but something came up, shall we say, and at the end it didn’t come to pass”
    Did ANY BMG leader evergive a hespedy about the Rav similar to R Weinberg of NI?

  9. “LAK on July 19, 2012 at 11:52 pm
    Rabbi Rakeffet says that RAK sent his son RSK to sit in on the Ravs shiurim in YU can anyone verify that?”
    When would that have been he was born in 1918 -he was in Israel during WW11-hew attended shiurim of the Brisker Rav-but that is certainly not the Rav. Came to America post war and went to be with his father-at the age of about 28.

  10. “This masterstroke did not result in a shift in Rav Soloveitchik’s position. He got up and said that he had to leave, “Kletsker Rosh Yeshiva and Radiner Rosh Yeshiva, a gutten tag” and left. He never opposed giyus banos or, for that matter, publicly the Mizrachi on any major hashkafic issue. ”

    The Rav was capable of challenging the Mizrachi-see eg Lebanon war massacre that if Mizrachi wouldn’t demand an investigation he would resign from the Mizrachi.

    .” As was often apparent in this period that now recedes from memory into history, intra-Orthodox differences did not serve as insurmountable barriers to cooperation or, for that matter, to civility and respect.”
    Sadly a fair reading of history could read that it is precisely RAK by his vehement opposition to RIETS and public contempt of RYBS positions see eg the SCA is greatly responsible for the lack of respect between different factions. I take no position on whether or not RAK desired that result-Dr .Schick disagrees but it is clear that it has been the end result of such behavior.
    No better proof that despite Dr. Schick’s urging : “When Rav Soloveitchik passed away, Lakewood was not represented at the funeral in Boston, although I suggested that the Yeshiva be represented.” Of course JO “obituary” of the Rav reflects that lack of respect.

  11. now that some of the rav yiddish’s drashot were published, what he said in comparing RAK to his grandfather, can be read. knowing what the rav felt about the Gaon and Rav Chaim, things make a tad more sense, to put it mildly.

    The account in Victor Geller’s book, IIRC, over shehitah is also worth noting.

    there are also many stories involving Rav Shneur that add perspective.

  12. When the Rav was once asked who his closest friend was, he responded: Rabbi Israel Klavan, 1st president of the RCA.

  13. Was the issue the draft of women as soldiers into the IDF or the draft of women into national service?

  14. Why obsess about this? Rav YBS was sui generis. He was a transitional figure, with a foot in two worlds.

    There is not, and never again will be, anyone in the YU or MO orbit who will have the respect of the yeshiva world.

    We have to accept this and act accordingly. It’s pathetic to beg for respect from people who, as a mater of perceived religious obligation, cannot and will not give it.

    So let’s just forget about it and go our own way. Self-respect is more important than respect from others.

    If the respect of charedim is so important to you, then become a charedi. It’s the only way you’ll get it.

  15. R’ Scott,
    “Self-respect is more important than respect from others.” – I’d go further, Self-respect is a prerequisite for respect from others.
    KT

  16. Lawrence Kaplan

    Anonymous: Rabbi Klavan was the Excutive Vice-President of the RCA

  17. as well as the subject of R’YBS’s famous Bhaalotcha drasha on leadership
    KT

  18. “There is not, and never again will be, anyone in the YU or MO orbit who will have the respect of the yeshiva world.”

    Not true. You don’t know what you are talking about. I will concede that is (unfortunately) true for most in the YU/MO orbit, as you put it. However, not all, like R’ Yonasan Saks, R’ Yaakov Neuberger, R’ Aharon Kahn, and a host of others. But of course, I love how those outside of the Chareidi world always think that they have their ears to the wall and know exactly what’s going on.

  19. I should clarify that while many, if not most will unfortunately not be recognized by the yeshivishe velt, Scott’s blanket statement is untrue and based on his outsider knowledge.

  20. abba's rantings

    R. Araujo:

    “I should clarify that while many, if not most will unfortunately not be recognized by the yeshivishe velt, Scott’s blanket statement is untrue and based on his outsider knowledge.”

    well from an outsider’s perspective i guess it doesn’t really matter it’s most or all won’t be recognized.

  21. R. Araujo, I stand by what I wrote. The fact that I’m not a charedi (an “outsider,” as you put it) doesn’t mean that I don’t know whom the charedim respect. That’s like saying that blacks in the 1950s South couldn’t know that they were disrespected by whites because they were “outsiders” (i.e., not white).

    But I’m making a stronger claim–that under current charedi ideology, it’s impossible for YU or MO figures to be respected by charedim. I stand by that as well.

  22. R Rakeffet claimed that RAK sent him to sit in on the Ravs shiurim it could have been when he was older and had returned from EY. Is there anyone that was in YU that could verify this. Did anyone ever see RSK at the Ravs shiur in the 1940s or 1950s?

  23. Scott – your comments are symptomatic of a lot of comments posted here purporting to know what goes on in the yeshivishe velt. You can stand by your comments. I have acknowledged that in most cases you are correct. But, this is not true in all cases. However, the fact that you are an outsider fails to give you this perspective. Just like my being an MO outsider does not give me any insight into the particular workings of MO, YU, and RCA. In fact, that is why I don’t comments on a lot of these postings, since I would just embarrass myself. I’ll that to you, Stevie B., mycroft, Lawrence, Reb Gil, and others.

  24. MiMedinat HaYam

    they “officiated” together at a wedding once.
    http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F10717F63F5C117B93C7A8178DD85F468685F9 (paywall)
    though RYBS was actual mesader kiddushin.

    someone posted a few years ago that there is a “film” of RAK’s shiur at YC / RIETS on his prewar visit to america. anything new of this “film”?

  25. My brother heard directly from Rebbetzin Rishel Kotler that Rav Aharon instructed Rav Schneur to attend the Rav’s shiur, apparently in the late 40s. He attended for several months.

  26. I heard the story of an alleged conversation between RAK, RYBS, and another rosh yeshiva (possibly Isser Zalman Meltzer)as a reaction to a chiddush offered by the young YBS in Europe. Can you imagine R’ Chaim offering such a peshat, RAK was reported to have uttered. I also heard a story about a prominent unnamed rosh yeshiva and his son who attended RYBS’s shiurim against the father’s wishes. The father admonished his son about his violation of the father’s attitude towards YU and its rosh yeshiva. The son then recounted the shiur he had heard from RYBS and asked if he knew of another rosh yeshiva who could have delivered such chiddushim. No, was the answer. That’s why I attend those shiurim, replied the son.

    There is also no need to whitewash or sugarcoat the attitude of RAK towards secular knowledge and those who have obtained it. Regardless of any issue of personal feelings, RYBS would have been driven by the proper respect that aught to be shown to a talmid chacham – not to mention the mitzvot of levayat hameit and nichum aveilim, in attending the funerals and house of mourning of RAK and his son. That the grandson(s) did not reciprocate is a reflection of some bad attitude in that camp.

  27. LOL-Rabbi Teitz “performed” the ceremony “assisted by” R’AK,R’MF and R’YBS. (that’s a lot of heavy duty assistance for a practicing Rabbi :-))
    KT

  28. Fotheringay-Phipps

    I agree with Scott. No one publically identified with MO/TUM will ever be respected by the charedim. What you could have is someone who manages to convince people that he really doesn’t believe in it but is there for other reasons. (e.g. R’ Bronspiegel.) Some Riverdale guys apparently have this view of R’ Willig (& a Riverdale guy told me that R’ Avremel Ausband asks RMW halacha shailos). But if someone is publically identified with with TUM, no.

    And I also agree with Scott that it’s a mistake to look to others for validation. If you believe in something, then you can’t be looking over your shoulder at whether other people who don’t believe in what you’re doing respect you or not. (Same applies, of course, to whether Goyim respect you 🙂 .)

  29. I think F-P just “out-charedid” me 🙂

  30. Thanks for the endorsement, F-P. Of course, I don’t look to you for validation :).

  31. “The Rav was capable of challenging the Mizrachi-see eg Lebanon war massacre that if Mizrachi wouldn’t demand an investigation he would resign from the Mizrachi.”

    He really did more than that ‘challenge’. In the ‘vayacholom yosef chalom drasha’, after explaining why he dropped R Chaim’s all out opposition to zionism, he pretty much let them know he still didnt buy the whole ideology of the DL commmunity leadership (e.g. RYL Maimon) “I don’t know from Mizrachi, I don’t know from Dati plus Leumi; I know one thing: Torah!” (I tried to find a link to the speech but wasn’t able to, so I’m praprasing from memory)

    I thought he made clear that while he belived that mizrachi was a better choice than Aguda,(because history had paskened) he was no ‘mizrachist’.

  32. Also, did anyone find this offhand mention of censorship as funny/appaling/depressing as I did?

    http://mschick.blogspot.com/2012/04/remembrances-and-reflections-ix-shabbos.html

    “Rav Aharon spoke at the cemetery in Sanhedria where Rav Herzog is buried. His eulogy was warm and contained much praise of Rav Herzog. Although the text of the eulogy is available, for whatever reasons, it has not been included among the hespedim published in “Mishnas Rav Aharon.””

  33. Fotheringay-Phipps

    It’s also well known that RAK had written in favor of the heter mechira (though I imagine that it was theoretical in that it did not address the practical details of how the actual mechira is done) and it was ommitted from MRA.

  34. SHAUL SHAPIRA:

    “I thought he made clear that while he belived that mizrachi was a better choice than Aguda,(because history had paskened) he was no ‘mizrachist’.”

    how are you defining mizrachist? perhaps he didn’t subscribe to every single minor point of the mizrachi platform (i have no idea either way), but how can you not apply the generic term of mizrahicst to someone who served as honorary president of american mizrachi (RZA) for many years, was synonymous with educational instutions that are avowedly (religious) zionist (YU, maimonides) and authored kol dodi dofek (actually a yom haatzmaut drasha).

  35. Scott’s comment is typical of those in the Charedi world who look at YU and RIETS in particular via stereotypes and urban myths-which I will add many MO have of the Charedi world. That’s part of the problem when you hashkafically know how to make Kiddush, but can’ make Havdalah.

  36. FWIW, R B Simon in his Sefer Imrei Baruch on Eruvin notes that RAK was very critical of the CI’s views on mechitzos, and the definition of a Reshus HaRabim. Yet, as RBS gently points out, RAK’s view never was accepted as mainstream Psak Halacha.

  37. Interesting that nobody’s mentioning the elephant in the room – the disagreement between the Soloveitchiks and the Kotlers over R’ Malkiel Kotler’s heter meah rabbonim, which allowed him to leave his first wife, a Soloveitchik/Feinstein, in Israel, and come to the US to head up Lakewood. I’ve heard that this was why RYBS fell out with the Kotlers.

    The story has been edited out of R’ Malkiel Kotler’s Wiki page, but if you go back in the edit history, you’ll find it.

    Ironically, then, having heard the same story as mycroft, during a sermon by R’ JJ Schachter at the Jewish Center, that the representative who was sent to RYBS’ funeral and then called back to the yeshiva for “an emergency” while driving to the airport, was R’ Malkiel Kotler.

    RJJS then went on to characterize “vehayu kemit’onenim” in Behaalotecha (that was the parsha that week) as meaningless internecine rivalry, his point being that the Lakewood-YU split was such pointless rivalry and shouldn’t happen.

  38. for a fascinating conversation regarding the relationship between RAK and RYBS, listen to interview 68 (R. Fabian Schonfeld) on this page: http://www.shemayisrael.com/ravaharon/audio.htm

  39. ABBA’S RANTINGS-

    RYBS was a reformed Agudist who painfully acknowleged that mizrachi had a point. Read the speech I mentioned and then get back to me.

  40. Some on this blog may be aware that I am a native of the Caskills. When our kids were young and my mother still owned our family home in South Fallsburg, we always spent some time there in the summer-it was far better and cheaper than a bungalow! One summer, there was a family simcha of a prominent local friend of our family . The entire town and leadership of the South Fallsburg Yeshiva attended the simcha which IIRC was a barbeque at the family’s house- I was introduced to R A Kotler, the future CEO of BMG, who like many future BMG Avreichim , was learning in South Fallsburg. We began to talk , I told him of my background, and he knew of and a highly favorable view of both RHS,his seforim, as well as RYBS, who he knew had strong personal relationships, even with very different hashkafos, with RAK and RSK.

  41. Scott is right: there is no future in looking for Haredi approval.

    More than that, we need to change the dialogue, which currently boils down to:

    “You’re an apikores!”
    “No, I’m not.”

    That’s not an argument anyone can win.

    I am not suggesting that we must crawl into the gutter with the Haredi press: disagreement can be expressed without disrespect. But I really do wish there were more MO leaders who were willing to express our dissent, let alone criticize Haredim when their ideology and behaviour merits it.

  42. Maybe someone can verify with someone trhat was in RYBS shiur in the 1940s whether RSK attended. Maybe R Lamm?

  43. how are you defining mizrachist? perhaps he didn’t subscribe to every single minor point of the mizrachi platform (i have no idea either way
    ==============================
    R’YBS has several letters in Community Covenant and Commitment on his allegiance to Mizrachi – pretty straight forward stuff.
    KT

  44. I still dont understand what RAK’s “brilliancy” was.
    Also no mention of the rav not being aloud to be maspid RAK at his funeral?

  45. R’ Rakeffet knew R’ Schneur personally and repeats the story. I daresay he can confirm it.

    “was such pointless rivalry and shouldn’t happen.”

    As an MO person whose father was one of many who learned in Lakewood while at RIETS, I can agree that that may be true in one direction. On the other hand, it seems the Lakewood end (at least from the kanoim) is deadly earnest in their enmity.

    On the end of Marvin Schick’s piece:

    1. It was R’ Yitzchak *Nissim*, not “Nissan.” Really, when people purport to tell historical facts and miss such obvious points, it sometimes makes me doubt the whole story.

    2. Maybe I’m oversensitive because I daven there almost every single day, but I get really offended when anyone brings up the shtick about it being “assur” to enter Heichal Shlomo. From the blog post: “The Brisker Rav is the rabbinic authority in Jerusalem. The Rosh Yeshiva should ask him whether it is appropriate to speak from Heichal Shlomo.”

    “The Brisker Rav is the rabbinic authority in Jerusalem”? Really? Who made him so? He certainly wasn’t the rabbinic authority for the vast majority of the city’s Jews, not for the majority of the city’s religious Jews, who had a perfectly fine Chief Rabbi (R’ Tzvi Pesach Frank), nor for the Agudah, who clearly didn’t care much for those of his positions that, well, they didn’t care for. And he decides that people can’t enter a certain building, and it’s gospel truth for R’ Kotler…why? I think the answer would speak volumes about problems in the Jewish world, where the statements of, say, the Toldos Aharon Rebbe, who places himself michutz lamachane, can determine the lives of hundreds of thousands of charedim.

  46. “moshe on July 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm
    for a fascinating conversation regarding the relationship between RAK and RYBS, listen to interview 68 (R. Fabian Schonfeld) on this page: http://www.shemayisrael.com/ravaharon/audio.htm

    Worthwhile listening to-one can learn influences on one of Americas leading 20th century Rabbonim-Rabbi Schonfeld.

  47. “a Riverdale guy told me that R’ Avremel Ausband asks RMW halacha shailos”

    I have no idea what R’Willig and R’Ausband asl each other, but they publicly give each other kvod at the Young Israel.

  48. “R’ Rakeffet knew R’ Schneur personally and repeats the story. I daresay he can confirm it”

    R Rakeffet was not in the Ravs shiur during that time period-does anyone from the Ravs shiur from that time period remember RSKotler attending-it would have been a noticeable event-son of RAK going to a Ravs shiur at YU. Does Rabbi Lamm remember? There are probably others still alive from that time period.
    Is there any other source besides R Rakeffet?

  49. “The Brisker Rav is the rabbinic authority in Jerusalem”? Really? Who made him so?”
    Same question applies anyone refers to a posek hador-a zadekes hador etc.

  50. mycroft:

    What’s the exact time period you’re speaking of?

  51. 1) Did Rav Schneur really get a heter mea rabbanim? What was wrong with his first wife? Did she have mental issues?

    2) And I agree with Scott that YU is treif in the eyes of the yeshivish masses and anyone clearly identified with YU will not receive proper kavod by them.

  52. “H G on July 22, 2012 at 1:04 am
    mycroft:

    What’s the exact time period you’re speaking of”

    “R Rakeffet was not in the Ravs shiur during that time period-”

    Per Wikipedia “Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff (born Dec 2, 1937[1]) is..”

    “Yosef Chaim Shneur Kotler (1918, Slutsk, Russia – 24 June 1982”
    Rabbi Rakeffet is a generation after Rav Shneur-Rav Schneur would have been close to 40 when R Rakeffet was in the Ravs shiur.

  53. Lawrence Kaplan

    It was Rabbi Malkiel Kotler who received the heter meah rabbanim. He and his wife were living in Israel when he received the call to be the Rosh Yeshiva of Lakewood. She refused to leave Israel with him and refused to accept a get. There was a major clash in the Haredi community between Rav Schach who supported R. Kotler and the Feinstein-Soloveitchik family who supported (actually made the decisions for) his wife. This dramatic story was very well covered at the time. There is a popular Hebrew book on the Haredim (I forget its title) that has an entire chapter about it.

  54. R Shach was such a bar hachi back then?

  55. “Moshe Shoshan on July 22, 2012 at 1:31 pm
    R Shach was such a bar hachi back then”
    From Wikipedia: “From 1970 until his death, Shach was generally recognized by the Yeshiva world and by much of the Haredi world as the Gadol Ha-Dor.”
    From Wikipedia: “He was appointed to his position in 1982, upon the passing of his father, Rav Shneur. At that time BMG had an enrollment of some 800”

  56. What always puzzled me about the hetter meah rabbanim matter was — didn’t the couple, or their parents, discuss what would happen when R. Malkiel was called upon to take over the rosh yeshiva position? It certainly was in character with the general custom of most yeshivas to run themselves as a family business.* So was it such a surprise to Mrs. Kotler and her side of the family that that is what happened? If she did not want to leave EY (quite understandable in light of the Brisker shittos), then why marry the heir to the head of the most prominent American yeshiva?

    ___________
    * A notable exception is Ponevezh.

  57. There are a number of assertions that Schick make that I don’t think many historians of the Rav would agree with. With respect to fact when the Rav gave a hesped for Rav Chaim Ozer it wasn’t only that the Rav was invited to address the convention he was a member of Moetzet G’deolai H’Torah. I’m sure that fact isn’t popular at Agudah but so is life.

  58. I mentioned earlier, my brother was told directly by Rebbetzin Rishel Kotler (that’s Rav Schneur’s widow) that Rav Schneur attended the Rav’s shiur for several months at some point in the 1940s. (Certainly not when R Rakeffet was there- he started in 1957)

  59. “didn’t the couple, or their parents, discuss what would happen when R. Malkiel was called upon to take over the rosh yeshiva position?”

    I’ve heard that when R Malkiel married, it was assumed that a different son of R’ Shneur would be his successor. However, the other son died young, so it was R’ Malkiel who got to be RH”Y after his father’s passing.

  60. I’ve heard that when R Malkiel married, it was assumed that a different son of R’ Shneur would be his successor. However, the other son died young, so it was R’ Malkiel who got to be RH”Y after his father’s passing.

    That explains it somewhat, but still, you would think eventually he would come back and help manage the yeshiva. The current four roshei yeshiva are one son and three sons-in-law of various Kotler descendants.

  61. Had R’ Shneur lived a longer life, and had R’ Meyer Kotler (so I’ve learned was his name via google) survived, there was little chance that R’ Malkiel would have had a substantial position in Lakewood.

    As it was, R’ Shneur’s petira at age 64 left a relatively young R’ Malkiel as the next R”Y, and he hadn’t learned in Lakewood for some time, to boot. At the time it was thought that it would make sense to have co-R”Y, with the understanding that R’ Malkiel would be first among equals.

  62. Perhaps he was intended to set up another “Lakewood East.”

    I never said R’ Rakeffet *learned* with R’ Schneuer. I said he *knew* R’ Schneuer and heard from him that he learned with the Rav.

  63. Tal – How is Ponevezh an exception? R. Berel Povarsky is the son of R. Dovid, R. Chaim Peretz Berman is the son of R. Shlomke, R. Shmuel Markovitz is the son in law of R. Avrohom Kahaneman and R. Leizer Kahaneman is his son. Rav Shach being the noticeable exception, for obvious reasons.

  64. Rav Malkiel Kotler will be maspid Rav Eliyashiv in Teaneck. Details to follow.

  65. ” R. Leizer Kahaneman is his son”

    He was a classmate of mine in HILI in the 1950s. Yes, HILI.

  66. http://www.hebrewbooks.org/12440

    On page 16 right side on the bottom. RJBS is listed with RAK as part of the Agudah Moetzes

  67. LAK: That shouldn’t be surprising, since until the end of the War and the founding of the State, RYBS was an Agudist. His hesped for R’ Chaim Ozer on the Tzitz and the Choshen signifying the Kohen’s spiritual and temporal authority, as an analogy to the authority of the Agudah Moatzah, is a classic of Agudist ideology. He shifted to (non-messianic) Mizrachi after the War, when it turned out to have been a good thing that the Zionists were there to receive the refugees and rebuild Torah. He explained his reasoning in the essay “Kol Dodi Dofek”.

    RARR speculates that RYBS joined Agudah as a bit of youthful rebelliousness, as his father R Moshe S. was a Mizrachist.

  68. “BMG is a private business”

    BMG is a non-profit. So, no, it’s not a private business.

  69. Lawrence Kaplan

    BMG is RUN as a family business. It, of course, legally, is not a family business.

  70. Almost every institution of higher learning is non-profit. That doesn’t mean that they, like all non-profits, can’t make money.

  71. FP – If R. Malkiel was not a world class talmid chacham, why the need to bring him back to the US to head up BMG (and apparently destroy his marriage in the process? Was the idea of Lakewood not being a family business so unthinkable?

  72. Lawrence Kaplan

    Anon: The answer to your last question is alas: Yes.

  73. It should be noted that the picture that accompanied the post in question was that of R Irving Bunim ZL, one of the greatest lay Marbitzei Torah in the US who was equally comfortable with RYBS, the NCYI and RAK. Ethics from Sinai was a collection of lectures on Pirkei Avos that R Bunim ZL gave at NCYI conventions. Can anyone think of lay leaders today in the US or Israel who can “tantz at two chasunahs” in the same manner, let alone great Talmidei Chachamim?

  74. Sure, plenty of them. Look around YU and see various names (Schottenstein springs to mind, Stone, Morgenstern, etc.) that you see in the Charedi world.

  75. Fotheringay-Phipps

    It’s a lot fewer now, but it’s not that the people have changed, the world has changed. Irving Bunim, were he alive today, couldn’t do it anymore either.

    Has to do with the passage of time. At one point, it was one group of people, many of whom held different opinions. After a generation or two of separate schools, shuls, neighborhoods, marriages etc. etc., it becomes two groups of people.

  76. Or perhaps people will just accept donations no matter the source. Understandably.

  77. Nachum-Thanks for that post re lay leaders who can “tantz at two chasunahs”.

  78. MiMedinat HaYam

    nachum — those are $$$ people. though irwin bunim was an anomaly, in that it wasnt his money (though he was pretty well off, i doubt he was the schottenstein level) that got him entree into both camps, but his leadership skills. and it was only YI in the MO camp that he participated in. (YI = the LWMO of its day.)

    today, he wouldnt be anywhere near any other MO organization, thats for sure. (though his son lives in 5towns, that means nothing in this context.)

  79. Heh. YI sure ain’t the LWMO of today. And reading some of the memoirs from that period, I sometimes sense it wasn’t back then, not on the leadership level. (“Laxity in observance” does not equal “LWMO.”)

    Wasn’t his work on Pirkei Avot posthumously (?) edited to make it more frum-acceptable?

  80. Lawrence Kaplan

    Nachum: I seem to vaguely remember a review of the book in, I think, the Jewish Observer that while generally praising it, criticized it for some non-sufficiently “frum” sounding statements, like saying something nice about religious Zionism, has ve-shalom, or things like that.

  81. I remember reading that he quoted Shakespeare and the like, which were edited out of subsequent editions.

  82. Rav Aharon Kotler ZTV’L, in Mishnas Rabi Aharon (Vol. 3, Hesped on the Brisker Rav) states that the essence of Modern Orthodoxy is the same as the Reform and Conservative. That is, change Judaism into something that more people will be willing to accept.

    (Mishnas Rav Aharon III p.216):
    “The Modern Orthodox claim that their path is the true path of Judaism, that it is the path that was followed by our ancestors throughout the generations, but that they only add some modernizations and insignificant changes in order to make the Torah appealing to the masses. But the truth is that this small point is the same as the point of Reform, and it is at the heart of hearts of the great defection from Torah and religion in past generations. They [Modern Orthodox] change [our] ways and twist [our] concepts.”

    Rav Aharon Kotler ZT’L said many times that he will not enter YU because it is bad. His son, Rav Schneur ZT’L, followed suit. Rav Aharon Kotler ZT’L, and Rav Schneur ZT’L after him, would under no circumstances even walk into YU. Rav Elchonon Wasserman ZT’L also, when he came to America in the ’30s, was invited to speak in YU, and he refused to even walk in to the place.

  83. Rav Aharon Kotler ZTL once commented about Rav Soloveitchik, “He is respnsible for the majority of Tumah in America.” Also from the same Rav Aharon, “He destroyed an entire generation of Jews.”

  84. “He’ll be a talmid chacham, but never a gadol.” That was the quote about R’ Kotler that got “Making of a Godol” banned.

    But note “Joe Hill,” above: He gives a quote, then a “said many times” and “once commented.” I don’t reflexively defend charedi “gedolim” when they disagree with me, but this is pretty weak stuff. Also note the glorious line “because it is bad.” Ha!

    Overall: Woe to the “gedolim” who can produce followers like that.

  85. Sheker VeChazav

    Sorry Joe Hill, but you are propogating sheker.
    Rav Aharon Kotler gave a shiur in YU in the 1930s. Rav Aharon Soloveitchik was there and recounted the story often. Additionally, as has been mentioned several times already, Rav Aharon encouraged Rav Schneur to attend Rav Soloveitchik’s shiurim, which he did for several months in the 40’s.

  86. Twistelton-Twistelton

    “Sorry Joe Hill, but you are propagating sheker.”
    Joe Hills quotes from RAK about RYBS are in fact accurate. I heard them from Rav Malkeil Kotler, (who also recounted the visit of RYBS to him by Shiva). He also stated that Rav Arohn had tremendous respect for RYBS. He also told me that Rav Aaron said about RYBS “if I could hold him like a Sefer Torah [that he was] I would”. I asked him to explain the contradiction, but he couldn’t. But he thought that the sharp comments were directed more at his dissatisfaction with the effects of RYBS’s talmidim as pulpit Rabbis, who he viewed as selling out and compromising Yiddishkiet. He also told me the entire story of his attempt to view the Aron at the airport (which he attributed in part to Marvin Schicks efforts).

    Whats with the name Joe Hill?

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