web analytics
September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



Can a Gadol Resign?

Gedolim are not perfect. They are human, just like the rest of us. A true Gadol will always try to do the right thing. And the public should not lose out because of occasional errors.
The late Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv on October 08, 2009, about three years before his death.

The late Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv on October 08, 2009, about three years before his death.
Photo Credit: Yosef Avi Yair Engel/GPO/Flash90

The Pope’s resignation has generated responses from many in our community about the lessons we can learn from that. Here is the way Professor Lawrence Kaplan put it: “The main reason (the Pope’s resignation) is relevant is that many of our octogenarian and nonagenarian Gedolim might take a lesson from the Pope.”

I think this is an error. The two are not comparable. The Pope has an official position in the Church from which he can resign. A true Gadol has nothing official to resign from. He is a Gadol because of his achievements… and because he has recognition from his peers and community about those achievements. You can’t resign from achievements.

The fact that a Gadol might be a member of an organized group of peers is irrelevant to his actual status as a Gadol. One can be a Gadol without belonging and one can resign from that group if he does belong. But one cannot resign from being a Gadol.

If on the other hand a Gadol becomes demented because of an age related illness (Alzheimers for example) – it will be noticed, and his opinions will no longer be accepted. That does not lessen our responsibility to honor him. It is just a recognition that he is no longer of sound mind… and shailos (halachic questions) should no longer be asked of him.

That in theory is the ideal. But the reality is not like that, I’m afraid.

What I believe happens today is that some elderly Gedolim are so sheltered by their handlers from the public, that if they ever do become demented, no one would know but the handlers. And they’re not going to tell anybody for two reasons: (1) They believe it would dishonor him for people to know that he suffers from dementia, and (2) they can still use him to “Paskin” (rule) for them on their issues by surmising what he would have said had he been in full control of his mental faculties.

The problem with that is twofold as well.These handlers often have their own agendas which color their beliefs about what a Gadol would say… and the fact is that they are lying to the public.

The question arises quite frequently in our day when so many who are considered Gedolim are well into their 90s. Yet people still go to them for advice.

Age alone should not disqualify anyone from being of sound mind. Dementia is an illness common to old age, but not every old person becomes demented. For example those who were privileged to speak directly to Rav Elyashiv even as he entered and passed his 100th year on earth can testify to the man’s soundness of mind… and ability to render a decision. To have asked him to resign from being a Gadol is like asking a man or a woman to resign from their gender.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t problems. Even if a Gadol is of sound mind – he can sometimes be misused and misquoted by his handlers. Access to him may be limited and controlled. Decisions on public policy can be said in his name even if he did not actually say them. Or he can be misled and make public policy decisions based on misinformation.

Should that completely disqualify him? Should he refuse to ever render another decision? I don’t think so. The solution is not to resign from your “Gadlus” but to fire your handlers when you find out they are misleading or misquoting you. Even if their intentions are honorable.

There are those who would say that if a Gadol could be so easily misled and he knows it – he should ‘abdicate’ his role as a Gadol. The truth is that a lot of damage can be caused if he continues dispensing advice or making edicts in these circumstances. One need not look further than Rav Elyashiv’s ban on Rav Nosson Kamenetsky’s book Making of a Gadol.

Others might say that if he continues to function as a Gadol and giving advice knowing that sometimes he is misled – that is too great a flaw in his character to even be considered a Gadol.

But I don’t agree. Gedolim are not perfect. They are human, just like the rest of us. A true Gadol will always try to do the right thing. And the public should not lose out because of occasional errors. Not availing oneself to the mind of a Gadol would be a loss to the world, too. The best way to avoid error is personal contact. Asking a Gadol to stop giving advice is an unnecessary loss of a valuable option.

That there is no way of knowing when a Gadol has been manipulated into a bad decision by an agenda driven handler- is why public pronouncements made in his name should never be believed. Unless they see it written and signed in his own handwriting . It is our responsibility to know that and not his responsibility to stop rendering decisions. A true Gadol remains a true Gadol whether others misuse or manipulate him or not. What all this means is that one should try to get direct access to insure that his views are real… and not believe what you hear.

The only real question is who is a real Gadol today? What are the qualifications? What kind of achievements should he have? How intelligent and how learned should he be… in Torah and in Mada? What kind of personal character is required? To what extent are we required to follow his views? These are all legitimate questions about which I have my own view and is beyond the scope of this essay. I have discussed them in the past and they are beyond the scope of this post. But once someone has achieved that status, resigning is not an option.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Can a Gadol Resign?”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
Current Top Story
Dozens of children were traumatized but escaped injury Sunday morning when Arabs in eastern Jerusalem attacked their bus.
‘Benign Neglect’ May Be Setting Up Eastern Jerusalem Jews for Expulsion
Latest Blogs Stories
Doug Goldstein

Why some countries are more economically successful than others? Tune in for the answer…

ethics

If not scared by God be scared by man; Hopefully ethics will integrate into lives for proper reasons

rgds

Smear campaigns by people with agendas other than justice do not faze him; He does what is right.

Even Muslims -- including a number of groups one might consider to be quite radical -- are distancing themselves from ISIS and declaring the group to be apostate.

Countries like Turkey, Europe and even the US have proven fertile ground for recruiting terrorists

How many times have you heard anti-semites spew words like Israel are Nazis, or what you are doing to the Arabs is worse that what the Nazis did to the Jews?!…

My blog, Israpundit, was hacked, and I had to move to a new domain…

There’s much confusion about the definition of Daas Torah; simply put it means the wisdom of Torah.

We’ll never be able to negotiate a true, lasting peace with the Arabs.Their aim is our destruction.

Now I live in a country where every shop in the food court is kosher! I can have anything I want!

Pashkevil: “Come out today and battle the Zionist Amalek and all the traitors in Nahal Haredi…”

Jordan: Only M.E. country with no historical basis and ruled by occupiers placed by European powers.

Why is an IRA a worthwhile account for retirement? And how can you use it to the best advantage?

Like the fighter pilot’s letter, I wonder if certain units are simply too sensitive to allow certain leftwingers to serve in, and to entrust in their hands the security of our country and our lives.

There is only one thing more tragic than experiencing a terror attack, and that is allowing those who attacked you to do it again!

Smuggling Gazans into Europe is cheaper than fighting with Gaza, and then rebuilding all the destruction.

This week’s parsha offers a new covenant; a covenant that speaks to national life unlike any other

More Articles from Harry Maryles
ethics

If not scared by God be scared by man; Hopefully ethics will integrate into lives for proper reasons

rgds

Smear campaigns by people with agendas other than justice do not faze him; He does what is right.

There’s much confusion about the definition of Daas Torah; simply put it means the wisdom of Torah.

Pashkevil: “Come out today and battle the Zionist Amalek and all the traitors in Nahal Haredi…”

Rabbi Fink: “There are many ‘true believers who can’t even be in the presence of Orthodox Judaism.”

“The Obama administration proved once again that it is the best friend of its enemies, and the biggest enemy of its friends.”

1st thing that must be done: tear down that wall; 2nd thing: allocate empty classrooms to Charedim.

The CBD has still stood its ground because there are teachers on staff that knew and did nothing.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/can-a-gadol-resign/2013/02/17/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: