web analytics
August 21, 2014 / 25 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Rabbi Julius Berman Reminisces On Rav Soloveitchik And 50 Years Of Community Service


Julius-Berman

First of all, as he got older, Rav Soloveitchik became a little softer. But it is true that in the 1950s and earlier, if the Rav heard something which made no sense, he would tell you it made no sense. But it was on an intellectual plane. He would never bear a grudge and within minutes he would forget about it.

In fact, I recall one incident where someone yelled out something which the Rav rejected forcefully. But this person was beaming. Why? Because in his mind, the Rav yelling at him was a status symbol. By the way, the Rav was mesader kiddushin at this person’s daughter’s wedding because, as I said, it was on a totally impersonal level. It’s just a standard of excellence that he wanted people in the shiur to develop. He pushed us and he pushed us, and hopefully he was successful.

Don’t forget, he wasn’t dealing with eight year olds. He was dealing with mature people who were going to be out in the world in a couple of years. And he wanted us to learn how to learn – that’s what he was really great at. Some roshei yeshiva take an issue, develop it through the Gemara, Rishonim and Achronim, and by the time you’re finished, you have a beautiful set of notes and you know everything – but your mind didn’t work. The Rav, however, never gave you [his chiddush] in the shiur. He developed it with you. That was the beauty of what he did.

            After you left Yeshiva University, you developed a personal relationship with Rav Soloveitchik, becoming his unofficial “legal adviser” and helping him publish some of his works, among other things. You also often conferred with him about communal matters you were involved with. Can you relate an incident or two from the many years of conversations you had with him?

When I was chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, there was an issue that was coming up and I wanted to get Rav Soloveitchik’s views on the matter so that I could better decide what position to take on it. I’ve never forgotten his instruction to me. He said, “Listen, you don’t have to have a view on every issue. And if you’re going to have a view, you always have to make a secondary decision; namely, when to say it, to whom to say it, and how to say it.”

That really reflected the Rav’s attitude to public positions. He rarely spoke [on public policy], and therefore, when he did speak, it had great impact. For example, a few years ago, a group of cardinals came to visit Yeshiva University and there was a meeting between them and the leadership of YU. It was remarkable that every one of the cardinals knew, almost by heart, the essay “Confrontation” by Rav Soloveitchik in which he strictly limits interfaith dialogue. They knew what the boundaries were. Why? Because Rav Soloveitchik set them down.

            Looking back on all your years of community service, what are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of the fact that an Orthodox Jew was able to be a leader in the overall Jewish world. We have a lot to contribute and we ought to be contributing as long, of course, as there is no violation of any halachic principles – whether it’s a question of yarmulke, Shabbos, etc.

I’ll give you an example. I remember I was supposed to meet with the late king of Morocco. It was a Friday afternoon in the winter, and I said that I can only be there for a certain amount of time and then I have to leave. [They said fine.] I’m sitting there, and I’m looking at my watch. A half-hour passes, then an hour, etc., and I suddenly realize that if you have an appointment with the king of Morocco, it’s like going to a Syrian wedding. You get there when it’s scheduled for, and the caterer isn’t even there yet. So I got up and went home for Shabbos.

About the Author:


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 “Rabbi Julius Berman Reminisces On Rav Soloveitchik And 50 Years Of Community Service”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
US President Barack Obama speaking on the phone last month aboard Air Force One.
US Reveals Failed Summer Mission to Rescue Captured Journalist
Latest Indepth Stories
ZIM Piraeus in happier days. (Image: ShipSpotting.com user b47b56)

ZIM Piraeus isn’t Israeli-owned or flagged, incidentally, it is Greek operated.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu

Foolish me, thinking the goals were the destruction of Hamas thereby giving peace a real chance.

Sgt. Sean Carmeli, ZT"L

The free-spirted lifestyle didn’t hold your interest; the needs of your people did.

And why would the U.S. align itself on these issues with Turkey and Qatar, longtime advocates of Hamas’s interests?

Several years ago the city concluded that the metzitzah b’peh procedure created unacceptable risks for newborns in terms of the transmission of neo-natal herpes through contact with a mohel carrying the herpes virus.

The world wars caused unimaginable anguish for the Jews but God also scripted a great glory for our people.

Judging by history, every time Hamas rebuilds their infrastructure, they are stronger than before.

His father asked him to read Psalms from the Book of Tehilim every day.

(Reposted with permission from author’s website) Moderate truth-teller Daniel Pipes (Dream) has further moderated his stance on Islam by actually entertaining the idea of “Moderate Islamism”, with Andrew C. McCarthy- whom I’ve debated about this- giving it some credence. We’ve gone from Naming the Enemy -Nazism, Communism- to Renaming the Enemy – “Islamic Totalitarianism”, “Radical Islam”, “Islamism”, […]

Maimonides: “Your 1 mitzva may tip the scales and bring redemption to the entire world and creation”

Jerusalem has been aware of the importance of China to its growth and security.

In other words, how by any rational playbook can one even begin to explain anti-Semitism?

Israel has nine Iron Domes, but you Mr. Hannity are the tenth.

Entire movements within “orthodoxy” propagate a Judaism of outlandish folklore and Jewish mysticism

The Rebbetzin began campaigning to increase public awareness of the importance of saying Amen.

More Articles from Jewish Press Staff
Eroding limestone make it easier to put notes in crevices in the Western Wall but also contribute to  its instability.

One advantage of erosion of stones at the Kotel is more cracks for people to place prayer notes.

Official Facebook page of Fatah, headed by Mahmoud “Peace Partner: Abbas, boasts about leading Palestinians in terror.

11:48pm Be’er Sheva 11:45 Rocket Alert Ashdod.. Ashkelon…Shafir… Kiryat..Malachi 11:44pm Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ashkelon 11:26pm Eshkol x2 10:55pm Eshkol 9:59pm Ashdod 8:12pm Sdot Negev, Shaar Negev 7:55pm Ashkelon Coast 7:47pm Rocket Alert Sha’ar HaNegev 7:11pm Ashkelon Coast 7:05pm Multiple Rocket Alerts Sdot Negev…Netivot 7:05pm Ashkelon, Kfar Maimon, Gaza border communities – all Multiples. 6:43pm Ashkelon […]

Lieberman proves he can be a diplomat even if it hurts.

These motorcycles were found inside Hamas terror tunnels leading into Israeli towns.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/rabbi-julius-berman-reminisces-on-rav-soloveitchik-and-50-years-of-community-service/2011/11/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: