Lately I have been getting repeated comments about my remarks. People have argued that there is heresy and contempt in our first and ruling rabbis. Some of the comments touched on style and some on essence. Following this I thought I should clarify my starting points, my relationship to the first, to the arbitrators and to tradition in general, and of course the style as well.
This column will be more personal, unlike regular columns, but I think it's important to clarify things. Already here I say that I do not apologize for anything and did not come to interpret my words but to clarify my starting points for the benefit of readers. Of course if they divert my attention to any place where I have deviated from what is written here I would be happy to apologize and get back at myself. Readers are invited and invited to do so.
Writing in the Internet Age
Writing in the internet age has its uniqueness compared to previous times. Things are accessible to all, they can be quoted as a partial quote that comes out of context (cut & paste), and the rapid transition of these partial quotes can result in a distorted picture of things. People are unaware of these characteristics, both reading and writing, so judge things in light of partial quotes without checking the context and the complete picture and without reading the whole article. This is despite the fact that the internet also has an advantage in this sense, as nowadays it is very easy to check things out inside and read them in their source. But the flow of information probably causes people to make a sentence quickly and move on to the next site (I guess I suffer from that too).
Appreciation to our gentlemen
This is for the conscious. I have great respect for our rabbis of all generations, the first and last sages. There were real giants among them. Most of them are people full of talent and knowledge, honest and understanding, seeking the truth, and having an impressive and extensive knowledge. I am proud to be the youngest of their students and their successors. As for the patriarchs, Moshe Rabbeinu and the prophets, it is difficult for me to appreciate, but the sages, the geniuses and the first, and so the latter to this day, are people worthy of immense appreciation. Equally impressive is the collective enterprise they have all created together, and which I the little one hopes to join and be a part of.
Atoll as an example the Maimonides, to whom one of the comments I received concerned my relationship. Maimonides' enterprise has no brother or sister, and it is very doubtful in my eyes how much parallel there is in the whole world to such a huge, wide, diverse and original enterprise. A Jew who alone managed to reorganize all Judaism, Halacha, thought and meta-Halacha, to understand to sort and arrange in his own arrangement all the material accumulated up to his time, and all this in parallel with his work as a physician and his vast knowledge in all fields. This is an admirable phenomenon. The man also showed awareness and reflection on his own methodology. He built his mighty structure on an orderly systematic foundation which he too had built himself out of almost nothing and bothered to lay it out before us. There are no words in my mouth to express my admiration for this man, and he certainly does not need my words. The same is true of the rest of our rabbis, the first and last, and certainly the sages. To think that I despise him is no greater nonsense than that. He who despises him is a man who lacks any understanding.
All these gentlemen that I thirstily drink from their waters and are bound to them in thickets of appreciation and love. I devote a considerable part of my time and efforts to understanding their words with tools from different vessels, and to deciphering their meaning and the meanings inherent in it. To me the Torah in the broadest sense is an existential rock. Out of it and within it I seek my way and formulate my worldview, when here too I attach sources, arguments, opinions, and tools from various tools. This is my extended family, and my worldviews are crystallizing within and within it.
The attitude towards our masters and their authority
But respecting a person does not mean seeing him as an angel who is never wrong. And certainly love should not spoil the line. All of these wonderful people have been human beings like me like you, which is precisely why I respect and love them and relate to them. I have no relation to the server angels (if there are any), and I do not see much connection between them and them. My family is made up of human beings.
I have already quoted several timesMGA In C. Kano who brings the Talmudic halakhah that it is permissible to say something in the name of a great person in order for them to receive it from me. These things are astonishing, for every man can say all nonsense in the name of the great of the generation and stumble the hearers with the most grave sins. How can this permit be understood? I explained that in my opinion the assumption of eMGA It is the opposite of what could be understood. He probably assumes that when I hear things in the name of a great person I will not accept them automatically but will only consider them seriously and respectfully. The reason someone gets hung up on a great person is not because they get his bottom line, but because he feels his reasoning is not being treated properly. The listeners do not seriously consider his arguments out of contempt for him. He intends to get them to take it seriously, consider things, and then decide for themselves. He is therefore allowed to present things on behalf of a great person, because this will cause the listeners to seriously consider the arguments. But in the end the assumption is that everyone does what they think. Even if he hears things from a great person he does not accept them just because of the sayer. He considers the things themselves and forms a position about them.
I have already mentioned in the past the distinction between two types of "visionaries": the first type is the ordinary ones, that is, those who actually do everything that is written in my books Chazon Ish. The second type is the true visionaries, those who do what they themselves think just as most of themChazon Ish Did and ordered to do. I belong to the second type. Respect for us does not mean that I will accept everything they have said, but on the other hand I will definitely seriously consider what they have said before I formulate my own position. And with all due respect to everyone, the bottom line is I will think, say and do, what I myself think.
Of course, there are also formal considerations of authority, such as the authority of the Sanhedrin or the laws in the Talmud over which there is no halakhic possibility to disagree. This is despite the fact that there may well be halakhic and factual errors in the Talmud as well (and there certainly are). The authority says that the halakhic instructions must be accepted despite the mistake. But I have often explained that in the realms of thought, which usually deal with facts, there is no possibility of talking about authority. If I have come to the conclusion that the Messiah will not come (and for the avoidance of doubt: I have not come), then even if all the sages of Israel all stand up and say the opposite it will at most make me reconsider my position. But formal authority is not possible here. And that if I say in my mouth that I believe in complete faith in the coming of Messiah it will change what is in my mind? As long as I am not convinced I can not claim that I believe in it but only say it from the language and stressed. Therefore in the realms of beliefs and opinions one can only persuade and not claim by virtue of authority. Moreover, even in the areas of halakhah where, as stated, authority can be spoken of, it must not be extended beyond its boundaries. He who has authority has and he who does not, with all his wisdom, has no authority. As for his words one can only be convinced of them but not accept them just because he said.
already I have written many times Having value I went to an autonomous decision. After a voice came out of the sky in Yavneh (in the act of Achnai's furnace) - sages did not accept her because even though this is the truth they thought otherwise. They realized that they were wrong, because God in heaven surely knows what the law is. But there is an autonomous duty to rule as I understand it, even if I am wrong. And so the Gemara also says that they did not rule in Halacha Karm because his friends did not come to the end of his opinion. Even though he was so smart, ranked above all others, they did not stop like him. Not because the truth was with them and not with him, but because as long as they were not convinced then that was their position and they were obliged to act on it even though they too understood that it was probably not true.
For respect and contempt
I think the approach that discusses and considers the words of our gentlemen and formulates an independent position, gives them much more respect than the approach that accepts their words as blind in the chimney. The approach that assumes that these are angels who are not wrong and who have absolute authority presents them as someone who is unwilling to accept an appeal and attainment of his position. The second approach which ostensibly gives them a lot of respect actually assumes that matter-of-factly their words cannot be justified and therefore also exempts us from doing so. Around the composition of Maimonides The strong hand A great controversy arose partly because he did not bring sources or reason. Sages felt that this was not a way that gave respect to the Torah and to them. No one is allowed to demand that they accept his words just because he said them. The things said in the court (as opposed to the Sanhedrin) are proposals for discussion and expression of opinion. And they are my words here.
Rabbi Soloveitchik in his essay And you asked from there, Brings a wonderful description of his experiences as a child. He describes how his father (Rabbi Moshe) sits around a round table with Rabbi Akiva, Abi and Rabba, Maimonides, R.T. and the Gra, and deals with the Torah. A question arises about Maimonides and he is in tension whether his father and Maimonides will win or not. He feels part of the gang, and actually sees all of these as his family. When I read the things I realized that my experience is very similar. For me I sit around a round table with all the sage students from all generations and we all study together. I share this discourse, and am not willing to give up on any of them. Giving up on someone out of respect is an expression of disrespect or lack of closeness. More than that, when I talk to family members I am not careful with my words. If any of them are talking nonsense then I tell them so. Sometimes I laugh at him and joke at his expense. But it's all done because I feel an integral part of the gang. I am at home and not in a museum that commemorates the past that one should be careful that nothing is broken there.
A few years ago, when I was teaching at the Hesder Yeshiva in Yeruham, there were several events that angered me. I hung ironic and cynical posts in which I mocked us all. The students went into a state of turmoil because they felt harmed in the yeshiva and especially in its head (Rabbi Blumenzweig). I gathered them in the evening in the dining room and told them that things were written precisely because of my deep appreciation for the Rosh Yeshiva. I got upset because people make fun of all of us (including him) and we go foolishly after them. I added to them that whoever is in the museum walks on tiptoe. He does not want to break anything in this glass house. He wants things to remain whole and pastoral and accompany them in his life when he is already far (in all respects) away from the yeshiva. It will leave him a peaceful and pastoral corner that can be missed (theoretically) but stay away from it. I, on the other hand, feel at home, and at home I do not walk on tiptoe. Whoever does nonsense (in my opinion) will snatch bites and reprimands from me. He is of course also welcome to give me back the same currency. But these things are said and stem from connection and not from distance. They stem from love and respect, but these are the result of a family connection and not of a distant and alienated respect for the exhibits in the museum.
Thus in my sense many times the excessive and unrealistic respect given to us by all generations actually expresses a kind of contempt. People do not dare to honestly discuss and criticize their words, but it does indicate a implicit assumption that this criticism will destroy the status of the critics. Supposedly they have no answers so we have to spare them. I have full confidence in them and their honesty, and in my eyes the real respect for their words is given precisely when we discuss their words honestly and sharply. Whoever shares this discourse, i.e. sits around the table within the group, needs to understand this. Whoever stays outside and sees it as a museum will continue to take care of the dignity of our first and last gentlemen, thus depriving them of the respect and love they deserve.
The connection to people brings closeness. The closeness leads to them being seen as human beings, on the lights and shadows. No man is perfect, and everyone has shortcomings, mistakes, falls and the like. When you are close you see it all, and when you feel close you do not hesitate to point it out. Caution indicates distance. On the admiration for the poster that hangs on the wall and not on life together. With those close to me I joke and sting, get down on them, and then pat them on the shoulder with friendship and a wink. The Torah belongs to all of us, and we all need to take part in shaping and formulating it. He who does not take part in this process has no part in it. He will treat it like a church. With all due respect and at the same time in the distance.
On the style
Here I am back to the internet. Things that are written to a wide audience cannot be said as things that are said within the beit midrash, i.e. within the family. My assumption when I write these things is that readers want to belong and therefore also belong to this family. They sit around the table in this virtual courtroom and are full partners in everything that is done in it. It is true that sometimes things come out, sometimes in a fragmented way, and sometimes you just do not understand or do not pay attention to the context.
Although stylistic is cynical and ironic, and I express things sharply, but contrary to what people tend to think cynicism is not disrespectful. I do not remember a place where I underestimated the former, nor even the latter (perhaps some of the rabbis of our time, and that too now I do not remember). I do remember putting them as human beings who can make mistakes and have flaws, just like me like you. So when I say that I do not care whether according to Maimonides I am a heretic, I mean that the definitions he will give me are not an argument. Anyone who wants to convince me should explain to me where I am wrong. It is therefore not enough to tell me that I am a heretic by the method of someone or anonymous, and therefore I also do not accept comments of this kind. There is not a shred of contempt for Maimonides in these things, the relationship to which I have clarified above. After all, Maimonides himself did exactly what I do. He divided over his predecessors without batting an eyelid, including in things that were perceived as extremely unusual. He forced his logic on the sources (as the Ramban has shown several times in his attainments to the roots), and in some places he also despised and even mocked his predecessors and those who disagreed with him. All this does not necessarily express disrespect. It expresses involvement and a sense of family. Within the family speak freely. It's part of the thing about this family experience.
If there was any expression of contempt for any of the former or great greats (as mentioned, I do not remember one), I invite readers to present it here (preferably with a link). If there are any I'll pull them back here. But if I have expressed my position in a cynical or ironic way, this is my way. This should not be seen as contempt because it does not express contempt. It is a form of expression that comes to sharpen the things and the difficulties that are in them. It is difficult for me to understand an interpretation that sees in my words a disdain for the people to whom I have dedicated my life to find out their place. For me the reader on this site is a partner in a Beit Midrashi discussion. This is how my words should be seen and anyone who interprets them differently is wrong and misleading.