R Shlomo Aviner / Q: Is there are obligation to honor whoever is elected the Chief Rabbi of Israel? A: Absolutely. What kind of question is that?! Explanation: One is obligated to honor every Torah scholar and one is obligated all the more so to honor the Chief Rabbi. This is the story in the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (25). Rabban Gamliel, the head of the Sanhedrin – i.e. the Chief Rabbi, ruled one way and Rabbi Yehoshua ruled another way. Rabban Gamliel said to Rabbi Yehoshua: "You have to come to me with your staff and your money belt on the day that you calculated to be Yom Kippur." Rabbi Yehoshua asked Rabbi Dosa ben Hurkenos if he was obligated to go. He answered: "He is the Chief Rabbi and he decided. If you question this Chief Rabbi, you have to question every Chief Rabbi going back to Moshe Rabbenu." If you say, "How was it that former times were better than these?" (Kohelet 7:10), you are incorrect. You forgot. "Go to the judge that will be in your days" (Devarim 17:9) – that is the judge you have. And the later generations should not say that the earlier generations were superior (Rosh Hashanah ibid.).

Honoring the Chief Rabbi of Israel

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This essay was originally posted to RavAviner.com and is reprinted here with permission.

Q: Is there are obligation to honor whoever is elected the Chief Rabbi of Israel?
A: Absolutely. What kind of question is that?!

Explanation: One is obligated to honor every Torah scholar and one is obligated all the more so to honor the Chief Rabbi. This is the story in the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (25). Rabban Gamliel, the head of the Sanhedrin – i.e. the Chief Rabbi, ruled one way and Rabbi Yehoshua ruled another way. Rabban Gamliel said to Rabbi Yehoshua: “You have to come to me with your staff and your money belt on the day that you calculated to be Yom Kippur.” Rabbi Yehoshua asked Rabbi Dosa ben Hurkenos if he was obligated to go. He answered: “He is the Chief Rabbi and he decided. If you question this Chief Rabbi, you have to question every Chief Rabbi going back to Moshe Rabbenu.” If you say, “How was it that former times were better than these?” (Kohelet 7:10), you are incorrect. You forgot. “Go to the judge that will be in your days” (Devarim 17:9) – that is the judge you have. And the later generations should not say that the earlier generations were superior (Rosh Hashanah ibid.). Rabbi Yehoshua went and Rabban Gamliel stood up, kissed him on the head and said: “Peace be upon you, my Rabbi and my student. My Rabbi in wisdom and my student in that you obeyed me.” Fortunate is the generation where the elders – i.e. the greater Torah scholars – listen to the juniors, and all the more so when the juniors listen to the elders (Rosh Hashanah ibid.). This is an explicit Gemara. This is the way events occurred according to divine direction: each time there was a head of the Sanhedrin, there were greater Torah scholars than him. Certainly the Chief Rabbi of today is not like the head of the Sanhedrin back then, but the Torah scholars of today are also not like the Torah scholars back then. Each one according to his level.

In the book “Chayei Ha-Re’eiyah” (p. 212 and see the talk of Rav Tzvi Tau on Elkanah in Emunat Itenu vol. 1, p. 85), Rav Moshe Tzvi Neriyah relates that a Torah scholar who made aliyah from America came to Maran (our revered teacher) Ha-Rav Kook and complained about the state of Judaism in the Land of Israel. He was so distressed that he was considering leaving Israel. Maran Ha-Rav Kook said to him: Doesn’t your honor remember the learning of his youth? The Book of Shmuel relates about Elkana: “This man would ascend from his city every year to prostrate himself and to bring sacrifices to Hashem, Master of Legions, in Shiloh, and the two sons of Eli, Chofni and Phinchas, were cohanim to Hashem there” (Shmuel 1 1:3). Rav Kook asked two questions about this verse: 1. Why are we told in this verse that Chofni and Phinchas were there? 2. Our Sages say that Elkana would not only go up to Shiloh, he would go around and encourage others to do so as well. Why did he have to do this? After all, isn’t ascending to the Mishkan on the holidays a Torah mitzvah? Why weren’t people following this mitzvah? Rav Kook explains that the first question is in fact the answer to the second question. The fact that Chofni and Phinchas were the cohanim in Shiloh caused people not to make the pilgrimage there, since they were corrupt. People said that if there were Cohanim like this in this holy place, it was better not to go and see this ugliness and meet such sinners. Elkana then came and convinced them that despite the sons of Eli and despite the sins at this holy place, they should not give up on this mitzvah of Hashem. They should strengthen this holy place. Right now there are not great people there, but later there will be. Do not give up because of the difficulties. As a reward for this act, Elkana was blessed with a son, the prophet Shmuel, who served in the Mishkan. Rav Kook said to the Torah scholar that the same applies in relation to the holiness of the Land of Israel. Why are you mad at the Land of Israel? There are problems, therefore exert yourself and everything will work out. Although there are sinners, this is not a reason not to make Sliyah and all the more so not to leave the Land of Israel. The more people committed to the Torah and Mitzvot in the Land of Israel, the more holiness will be added to it.

There may be problems with the Chief Rabbinate, but you have to honor it. I have always said that the Chief Rabbinate is the nucleus from which the seedling will sprout from which the Sanhedrin will blossom. Everyone understands that it is not the Sanhedrin and it is not even a seedling of the Sanhedrin, but it is the nucleus and the nucleus is precious. Do you think the Sanhedrin will sprout from nothing? No, it will appear slowly. The same thing applies to the State of Israel. Okay there are difficulties, but what do you suggest? Would you prefer the British, the Turks or the Arabs? The State was built slowly. The Rabbinate was built slowly. The Yeshivot were built slowly. Everything is built slowly. If you want everything to be whole from the first moment, you will not have anything. There are ups and downs. You had Rav Kook who was a Torah giant and afterwards you had others who were less than Rav Kook, and so it seems that they will continue to be less than Rav Kook. The essence is that we must pay attention to the process and not reject something great when temporary difficulties arise.

About Shlomo Aviner

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner is the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim and the rav of Beit El.

33 comments

  1. Besides not flaming the chief rabbis on Facebook or Twitter, what does it mean to honor the chief rabbis?

  2. Instructions about respecting judges are a little odd when neither winner is, in fact, a dayan. 🙂

    Look, let’s not fool around here: The chardalim defended Katzav from much the same motivation. Human beings are human beings, especially if they are (as is true of the current chief rabbi) under house arrest or (as is true for the future ones) cutters of corrupt deals to gain power. Why must a title demand respect? Would R’ Aviner have respected the Sanhedrin when it was controlled by the Tzedukim?

  3. Incidentally, much to the delight of Artscroll, the Chief Rabbinate no longer has anything to do with the buildings in the picture.

  4. The Rabbinate is a severely corrupt, morally bankrupt, and essentially useless institution, not to mention a nauseating waste of taxpayers money.

    Do you people in the Diaspora really know how the chief rabbis are elected? Do you know what goes behind the scenes? Do you know who is eligible to vote? There is *nothing* Torah about it. Frankly, the election for Pope is more legitimate than the election for Chief Rabbi, in terms of who is qualified and competent to vote for the position.

    Make no mistake. I am in favor of a Chief Rabbinate (with one Chief Rabbi), and I am not saying that Rabbis Lau and Yosef arent worthy (notwithstanding that each one received semicha while their father was chief rabbi…a serious possible conflict of interest), but what we have today is not worth anything to any sector of the population.

    Ari Enkin

  5. Honor the position. Stand up for them, treat them with respect, call them HaRav HaRoshi, etc.

    Nachum: Didn’t you have a letter to Jewish Action a few years ago about something like that but referring to the Prime Minister?

  6. i’d like to think that he would have written the same thing if rav stav had been elected.

  7. Does anyone have a good reference as to who votes for the position and how they were selected?
    KT

  8. “The Rabbinate was built slowly.”

    I think the sense many have is not that it is building slowly but that it is imploding. The Chief Rabbinate went fro R. Kook and R. Hertzog to R. Metzger.(I do ,of course, agree with R. Aviner that the Chief rabbis are entitled to our respect (until, I guess, indicted.)

  9. With all due respect Rabbi Enkin, calling the Rabbis semicha into question as a ‘serious possible conflict of interest’ is absurd. Do you really think (Chas v’Shalom) that Chacham Ovadia Yosef or Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau would somehow rig the semicha exam for their sons?

    I can’t speak to Rabbi Lau’s qualifications – I have never met him or read anything he published, but R’ Yitzchak Yosef wrote Yalkut Yosef!
    Your parenthetical insinuation is that the author of a 18+ volume halachic compedium, which is found in almost every sefardi beit midrash in the world couldn’t pass a relatively basic halacha test.

    I would never say you were just motzi laz against two talmidei chachamim, (not withstanding the fact that by artfully constructing your sentence, you insinuated a potentially libelous accusation, thereby implanting it into the minds of your readers without actually being accountable for its factual accuracy) but I think you should correct your post.

    (See what I did there?)

    Again, Chas v’Shalom that I should show you any disrespect, but I think your zeal against the Rabbanut as an administrative institution has blinded your pen to reason.
    Chachamim tizaharu bidivreichem…

  10. yehudaf: The simple fact is that the Rabbanut semikha exam is difficult and in writing, and R’ Yitzchak Yosef simply did not take it- he was given a brief oral exam and passed.

    Look, maybe he could have passed the regular exam. In fact, I imagine he could. But it’s fishy. That and, of course, the fact that neither is a dayan.

    Let’s also bear in mind that some of these people have been running for chief rabbi for months if not years. R’ Yosef was in the running for a grand total of ten days, after unsavory stuff came out his brother (the preferred candidate, although R’ Ovadia said he preferred the eventual candidate all along).

    Gil: I’m flattered you keep such good track. Looking at your archives, I see I was talking about the *state*, not about individuals. But that said: I always give kavod. I gave kavod to Metzger on the occasions I met him. (As it happens, our families go way back, but that’s irrelevant.) I disagree with just about everything Shimon Peres says and believes and has done, but I’ve met him a few times and give him nothing but respect. Heck, I give respect to City Council members. I even gave respect to Anthony Weiner, but I doubt I would now.

    Joel: Arutz-7’s Hebrew site had a full list. It’s a certain percentage of city chief rabbis, Knesset members, mayors, etc.

  11. MiMedinat HaYam

    talk about transparency — i’d like to see a list of who votes for other chief rabbis (england is the board of directors of united synagogue (a group of seven (i believe) london shuls; like the board of your and my shul, it means $. france is somewhat similar, i believe.) (nyc r yosef was also such an ad hoc committee) (some countries (eastern european) currently have self appointed chief rabbis; and those self apponited ones are prob more effective in their jobs. not that you or i agree with their policies.)

  12. Nachum, I find it admirable that you show kavod to previous chief rabbis, shimon peres, and even your local government. That is a middah that should be emulated by all of klal yisrael.

    It pains me to point out that showing kavod in the presence of talmidei chachamim, or powerful people, is davar reik unless you also show them kavod in the words you write. Take for instance what you wrote about Rav Yitzhak Yosef.

    The fact that you ‘imagine’ he could have passed the written exam implies that you have no confidence that he is qualified on a basic level to serve as a community rabbi. Have you met him, or at least opened his sefarim? If not, then I can understand your lack of confidence – but you should mention that your lack of confidence stems from your lack of knowledge – something like “I don’t know much of anything about him, but I imagine he could pass the exam” is an appropriate phrasing. If you have met him, or read his sefarim, and you still merely ‘imagine’ he could have passed the exam, either you’re WAY overestimating the difficulty of the exam, or you’re being mevazeh a talmid chacham. I assume that since you showed kavod to Anthony Weiner, you live in New York, so have probably never met Rav Yitzhak Yosef, and since rov of the Jews in New York are Ashkenazim, I’ll assume you are as well, and that you may not have come into contact with Yalkut Yosef, and so your lack of confidence in his halachic ability stems from your ignorance of him and his work. Thus, you simply phrased this in error and you should be more careful in the future not to accidentally insult great poskim.

    Another point- there’s nothing fishy about not wasting someone’s time. He was an obvious talmid chacham, and everyone knew he was a baki in all of these subjects. Roshei Yehivot regularly give semicha without examination to their students, based on the fact that they are aware of their knowledge- a test would be a needless formality. I don’t know the history of procedural rules regarding semicha examination in the rabbanut, but there isn’t anything intrinsically wrong with fast-tracking an obviously qualified candidate.
    However, the fact is, it doesn’t matter how one is tested for semicha. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Rabbanut’s written exam, their oral exam, YU or Ner Yisroel or YCT or private semicha. Moreover, it doesn’t matter if one recieves semicha at all. All semicha is, b’zman hazeh, is a document memorializing that you took a day off from learning to take a test, and you passed. Apikorsim pass semicha exams all the time, and many Gedolim and major Poskim never recieved semicha in their lives. A story comes to mind that illustrates exactly the regard most poskim give to semicha. The Chafetz Chaim needed to prove he was an ordained rabbi to obtain a passport, so he had R’ Chaim Brisker telegraph him “Yoreh Yoreh Yadin Yadin.” – The story may be apocryphal, but no rishon or sefardi acharon, with the brief exception of Yakov Berav and the Mechaber’s circle, ever held any document resembling semicha until the 20th century. Not to mention many Ashkenazi acharonim who never had ‘semicha’, not least of which is the Chazon Ish.

    However, it seems to me that when you say that something is ‘fishy’ you are, hashem yerachem, motzi shem ra. The implication is that he unfairly recieved his semicha document when he didn’t deserve it. That is not only failure to be dan l’kaf zechut, but it implies that Chacham Ovadia, his son, and whoever else may have been involved are corrupt for nepotism, machatim for allowing an unqualified person to give hora’ah, or who knows what else. None of those shameful things are true. (Chas v’Shalom!)
    And even if there was some speck of truth, God forbid, to what you are saying, which there isn’t, what you wrote remains lashon hara, as an examination 30-something years ago is irrelevant, seeing as how he is an authoritative posek now.

    I agree that prior experience as a dayan would be useful for a chief rabbi, but Elazar Ben Azarya was the Nasi of the Sanhedrin at 18. Accomplishment in Torah is the only requirement to lead even the sanhedrin, kol sh’ken it is enough to lead the rabbanut. (I’ll leave aside Zechut Avot, since precise definition of that concept eludes us.)

    And to address your last point, the ‘unsavory stuff’ that came out about R’ Avraham is a wrongful termination case from four years ago which was closed back then, but reopened right toward the end of the campaign. If you review the case, there is very little which would bear on his halchic ability, but it does show that he may have lost his temper, which would be unbefitting for any Jew, let alone a Rabbi. But it was also four years ago, and I am sure that he has sought mechila from the man, and done teshuva for whatever wrong he caused. It’s possible that new relevant evidence came to light, and the police wished to belatedly punish him. But the timing was very convenient for those hoping to diminish Shas’s influence. (Not, chas v’shalom, that anyone in the rabbanut race would have anything to do with it. But Israel’s government ministries are headed by politicians, and some politicians don’t always act l’shem shamayim.) As to whom Chacham Ovadia prefered from the beginning, only Chacham Ovadia knows this – I don’t much care to speculate into his family dynamics.

    And furthermore, why should anyone bear in mind the length of a candidate’s campaign? It’s completely irrelevant. Lyndon LaRouche has been running for president of the US since 1976, does that make him an iota more qualified than the current president?

    I’m not stupid, I know that the chief rabbi election involves behind the scenes wheeling and dealing – and that the biggest gedolim are usually not the chief rabbis. (That’s mostly because they don’t run.) Can you honestly tell me that Rav Yitzhak Yosef is less accomplished in Torah than the other candidates were?

    You should have mechilah for the insinuations you wrote, I’m sure you did not write in such a way b’ofen shel mered. The limitations of the english language and the dynamics of quick internet posting make it near impossible to avoid these kinds of things. But if you are going to write evil words, you should refrain from writing altogether. You should review and re-review your words, and if aveirot are unavoidable, it is better not to post at all, and let an opinion to which you object stand, than to write in a way which is unbefitting of the Jewish people.

  13. I agree with Joseph Kaplan-Both RYBS and RAL both viewed the CR as a political institution which unfortunately has had little, if any spiritual impact on the overall Israeli public.

  14. r’ yehudaf,
    my experience is that bad practice and one time exceptions have a deleterious effect way beyond the individual.
    KT

  15. Two more things:

    1. You can write all you want, but the simple fact is that he did not, in fact, pass the test.

    2. I’m not sure if you know how things work in Israel, but the fact is that semikha is considered a graduate degree and thus entitles one to a higher state salary (and to being a state rabbi, of course, which is important here). Thus, it is *imperative* that all the procedures be followed- it doesn’t matter if you’re supposed to be a big talmid chacham or not. (Also, I imagine he got semikha many years before the output you cite- which is, recall, essentially transcripts of his father, not to knock it.)

    In fact, there have been scandals of people- police, for example- getting fake semikha in order to make more money. In fact, a former chief rabbi is *under indictment* for being involved in that. So yeah, this is a big deal.

  16. Just to be clear, the post reads “more” things because my previous comment is being moderated.

  17. MiMedinat HaYam

    “Not to mention many Ashkenazi acharonim who never had ‘semicha’”

    actually, to be a “shtut rav” rav in any town in europe, you had to have the piece of klaf.

    even the chatam sofer had to get one. (rumors of where the lubavitcher rebbe z”l got his range from the sridei aish to tzafnat paneach. none confirmed, no one ever asked for his official smicha. he got his visa into the us with his family’s political connections. per friedman’s book.)

    and even leading reform rabbi stephen weiss claimed to have a klaf, but never produced it, leading to …

    when telz closed down, they were smart enough to give every talmid a klaf, figuring the document might prove useful. it proved useful to some talmidim who were not smicha material, but were agressive, etc.

    a friend of mine never got around to paying the $50 calligrapher’s fee for his RIETS klaf. he is in very successful real estate anyway, diesnt need it.

    just some stories / tales of smicha.

  18. Smicha (a klaf) is of little value. One can be a big Rov and/or Tzadik without smicha and by the same token someone with smicha can be a non-rabbi (unworthy of the title and no one need call him by the title of rabbi) or even be a rasha or a Reform.

    Like someone said above, the Chofetz Chaim never had smicha until his old age when he needed it for some government function that required, by legal protocal, an ordained rabbi. So he sent a telegraph requesting it (to his talmid Rav Elchonon Wasserman) and it was immediately granted per request by return telegraph. No klaf required.

    Furthermore, under Jewish Law regarding smicha, anyone who has smicha is duly authorized to grant it to anyone else. Meaning a freshly minted 23 year-old YU grad with smicha can immediately give smicha to everyone on his block.

    One other unrelated point that was discussed above. In Judaism the Halacha is that a son inherits his fathers rabbinical position. (It’s a machlokes haposkim but this is how we pasekn.) Nepotism is a positive thing in the rabbunit.

  19. I concur with Rabbeinu Nachum that the Chief Rabbinate faces a formidable challenge. I place the responsibility for this challenge on the conscience of the Arab neighbours of Israel whose inability to peacefully recognize Israel forces Israel to draft its population into the IDF, thereby preventing the population of Israel from having more time to study Torah under its Chief Rabbinate. If only the Arab neighbours of Israel would realize the truth of the oft-repeated observation of Canada’s former Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler: “The Jewish People in the land of Israel is the most authentic aboriginal people on earth. It is the only people inhabiting the same land, speaking the same language, studying the same Torah and practicing the same religion as three thousand years ago.” Therefore, in keeping with aboriginal rights that are recognized as a cornerstone of international law, I call upon all the Arab neighbours of Israel to repent by unilaterally surrender to Israel, and for the United Nations Security Council to enforce this surrender, so that all the soldiers in the IDF will have nothing to do but learn Torah in peace all day, thereby leading to a more perfect Chief Rabbinate.

  20. And how would you translate “kol haba letzvo tzava”? Seems to me the Torah is pretty clear on universal military service from all men aged 20-60.

    Since my original reply to yehudaf is still under moderation, let me sum up here: I feel no regret when others, ostensibly gedolei torah, choose to sully their reputations by entering politics. It’s on their heads. Chanan Porat once came to speak at YU and was introduced as “harav,” he insisted that as long as he was in the Knesset, he was not “harav.” (I think he ran a yeshiva.) I don’t think Meir Kahane ever so insisted, but you never heard him (a man who could learn pretty well) complain that he wasn’t being treated as a rabbi should. He knew the rules.

    I might make an exception for Shai Piron, considering that he’s the Education Minister, or Ben-Dahan, religious affairs. But the rest? Dov Lipman? No. Every Tom, Dick and Harry in Shas and UTJ being “rabbi” (even if they have semikha)? No. And no one can take away kavod due to R’ Ovadia Yosef, but let’s be honest: He directly runs a sketchy political party; he personally decided that a convicted felon would be in charge of said party; he makes inflammatory remarks (or sits nearby as others do) about huge swaths of Israeli society (including, of course, religious Jews) regularly on Saturday nights; he cooks up deals to insure succession of his sons; and I’m supposed to feel guilty that his reputation is thus sullied?

  21. Let me add one thing: He’s well over ninety and quite isolated. I’m perfectly willing to entertain the possibility that he just doesn’t know the effects of his actions, his image, and so on. So that’s just sad.

  22. “Chanan Porat once came to speak at YU and was introduced as “harav,” he insisted that as long as he was in the Knesset, he was not “harav.” (I think he ran a yeshiva.) I don’t think Meir Kahane ever so insisted, but you never heard him (a man who could learn pretty well) complain that he wasn’t being treated as a rabbi should. He knew the rules.”

    Benny Elon also insisted that he not be referred to as “rav” in the knesset. Frankly I feel that all rabbis who run for office should abandon the title of “rabbi”. No one refers to Arieh Eldad the politician as “doctor” anymore – even though he was chief medical officer of the IDF and a noted plastic surgeon. taken in the political context I always refer to rabbi politicians by their political title – such as fomer MK Meir Kahane HY’D, former MK Hanan Porat, former MK Haim Drukman; fomer MK and Minister Yitzchak Meir Levin, former Minister without Portfolio Yehuda Amital, etc. etc.

    “I might make an exception for Shai Piron, considering that he’s the Education Minister, or Ben-Dahan, religious affairs. But the rest? Dov Lipman? No. Every Tom, Dick and Harry in Shas and UTJ being “rabbi” (even if they have semikha)? No. ”

    No exceptions!!! it is wrong that Minister Shai Peron is still referred to as “Rav”. when he performs a wedding for someone at his community call him up as Rav (and leave out the Education Minister!). But day-to-day – he is Minister of Education Shai Peron.

  23. MiMedinat HaYam

    “the Halacha is that a son inherits his fathers rabbinical position”

    provided he’s (somewhat) qualified.

    2. “Every Tom, Dick and Harry in Shas and UTJ being “rabbi” ”

    and everybody in lakewood too.

    3. ROY, once he put himself in the political realm, he has the same status as other politicians — not use his smicha for non rabbinic purpose. (i said the same about rav shach, too.)

    4. an education minister is not legally qualified to perform a wedding in israel (or america). but a rav is. hence his rabbinic title is proper.

    same when he is called up for an aliyah.

  24. Shachar: I think once they leave politics altogether they can go back to being “rav”- Elon, Amital, Porat, Druckman maybe. Meir Kahane wasn’t in the Knesset when he was killed. Of course, then you have to define “leaving politics.” Maybe leaving office?

  25. There is a difference between refraining from using honorifics and insulting them. I don’t think it is ever right to insult a Torah scholar, even if he is involved in politics.

    In general, he can be mochel his kavod but until he does, you are obligated to treat him with respect.

  26. Thank you and ye’yasher kochakha, Rabbeinu Nachum, for your response. Essentially, I agree with you on universal military duty for the Jewish People. However, the logistical problem is that many Jews (myself included) reside in the Diaspora, and therefore are unavailable to be drafted. That’s why I would prefer that the Diaspora authorities (viz. UN Security Council) should be the ones to perform their duty of conscience and enforce a surrender of Israel’s neighbours to Israel, thus protecting the aboriginal rights of Jews in Israel as required by international law. There is poetic justice to this: the Roman empire exiled the Jewish People into the Diaspora, so let the heirs of the Roman empire (viz. the UN Security Council) be the ones to militarily enforce the security of the return of the Jews in the land of Israel. The UNSC [under Resolution 1973] was most effective in bringing ethical enlightenment to Libya, and so the UNSC should be able to similarly bring some ethical enlightenment to the others in the region (such as Iran, identified by R. Goldberg in his excellent post today).

    Parenthetically, R. Lau’s Maskil le-David is now available online at http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=41222&st=&pgnum=484
    Interestingly, on p. 484 he slightly misquotes R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach as ruling that a Beth Din which performs a conversion when the candidate has no intention to observe mitzvot is violating “lifnei iver”. With all due respect to R. Lau, that is not exactly what R. Auerbach writes. Rather, as one can discern from the original source, at http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=15096&st=&pgnum=247 , R. Auerbach actually believes the conversion is totally disqualified. R. Auerbach raises the argument of “lifnei iver” only according (to what he regards as the mistaken) belief of those conducting the conversions. In other words, R. Auerbach is saying “According to me, the conversion is worthless. But even according to you that the conversion takes effect, you must concede to me that you are violating lifnei iver.” In fairness to R. Lau, though, he is merely repeating the same oversight that R. Bleich appears to have rendered in Contemporary Halakhic Problems Vol. 3, p. 250, footnote 21 (with all due reverence manifest before R. Bleich). In any event, that’s just a blip on the radar screen. In general, Maskil le-David is quite smooth, so it’s time for the Arabs to surrender to Israel, thereby giving the IDF soldiers some much-deserved free time to study Maskil le-David.

  27. [N.B. My remark that Maskil le-David is “smooth” does not detract from the greatness of the countervailing candidates such as R. Stav shlit”a, whose scholarly accomplishments are impressive and will surely continue to impress the Jewish People. Behold, the recent RCA statement congratulating R. Lau simultaneously acknowledges the contributions of R. Stav…]

  28. “However, the logistical problem is that many Jews (myself included) reside in the Diaspora, and therefore are unavailable to be drafted.”

    The IDF takes non-residents of Israel all the time. According to some, it’s a chiyyuv for all Jews.

    The rest of your post…well.

    Gil: The problem, of course, is when one gadol shows absolutely no respect for others. I mean, calling R’ Druckman “Amalek” is pretty extreme.

  29. Thank you, Rabbeinu Nachum. Well said.

    Regarding distinguishing Klal Yisrael from Amalek, R. Ovadiah Yosef appears to have rendered restitution – or perhaps I should say repented and asked forgiveness(*) – in his recent 13 Av, 5773 lecture, 6:20-9:10 into the recording, available at http://maran.hug.co.il/home/doc.aspx?mCatID=70&icid=52&mode=s

    (*) The difference in semantic terminology depends upon whether one feels R. Yosef committed a transgression in the first place. I confess that I am not qualified to offer any opinion on the matter. As my late teacher R. Joshua Shmidman once remarked to me while looking at a responsum of Yabi’a Omer: “say what you want about his politics; his beki’ut is amazing.” In any event, the good news is that R. Yosef has now rectified the problem in the above referenced recording, and this represents a sparkling sanctification of the Name of Heaven.

  30. He did nothing of the sort. He said that his disciple was speaking only of Bayit Yehudi leadership, not kippot serugot in general. This was, of course, against the plain meaning of said disciple’s words, which were (in the presence of R’ Ovadiah, and without his protest) that R’ Druckman, among others, is Amalek.

    Look, this has been going on for months, since before the election. R’ Ovadiah, or his fill-in, says something outrageous on a Saturday night. There’s a week of outrage, and the next week, there’s a partial walkback, and even that barely lasts. In this case, within a week, said disciple said that anyone who voted for Bayit Yehudi is going to hell. (That’s me!)

    As to bekiut, it reminds me of something conservatives like to say when told how great (ha!) Cuba’s health care system is: “OK, let’s assume it is. Do you *have* to have concentration camps for gay people to have it?” I’m sorry, I’ve been hearing that argument (about the great gedolim and their learning, ignore the politics for the moment) for years, and it’s getting more and more difficult to swallow.

  31. Thank you, Rabbeinu Nachum. I acknowledge that I did not realize the full extent of the situation in our Holy Land. Ye’yssher kochakha for providing a complete description. And for whatever it’s worth, if you vote for Bayit Yehudi, then it has my full moral support, as well. “Va-Ha-Shem Imo – She-Halakhah Kemoto be-Khol Makom” (Sanhedrin 93b). May your golden words bring a spirit of purity to our planet.

  32. This runs the danger of going to my head, but hey, it was my birthday yesterday- magia li. 🙂

  33. Perfect timing; thank you for the good news. Yom huledet same’ach.

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