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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Rav Chaim Kanievsky’

A Legacy of Achdus

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

My thoughts today are with the families of Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frenkel. My heart goes out to them. There are no words that can adequately express the magnitude of national grief the Jewish world feels right now. That grief is universal. It doesn’t matter where you stand in your religiosity. It doesn’t even matter if you are entirely secular… or even a non-believer. We are all one people today. As we have been since these three  young souls were kidnapped.

Inevitably when tragedies like this happen there is a sudden burst of Achdus. Tragedies unite. I recall the exact same thing happened a few years ago when eight Yeshiva students were massacred in Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav, a Religious Zionist Yeshiva named for Rav Kook.

There was no left. There was no right. There was just the Jewish people suffering pain. This is the same pain we all feel today as Israel buries these three young victims of terror. I expect there to be a massive attendance at the combined funeral. Prime Minster Netanyahu has already said he will attend. It would not surprise me if one or more of the Charedi rabbinic leaders attended too, if they are physically able to. One may recall That Rav Elayshiv attended the funeral of the 8 murdered Merkaz HaRav boys.

There has been a lot of public reaction to these murders by prominent Jewish organizations: The Agudah, the OU, Young Israel, and the Wiesenthal Center just to name a few. There is also a lot of discussion about how we should view this event and how the Jewish nation should respond to this if at all. But that is not my issue today. I leave that to others.

My issue is what will happen to the Achdus we have just been a part of. There has been a lot of talk about the unity that this brought about. Rav Chaim Kanievsky said the following – quoted in Matzav:

When his grandson told him the news, Rav Chaim was devastated. He remained silent for a while. He then remarked that the “boys were zocheh to tremendous merits with the chizuk, hisorerus and kabbalos that were undertaking because of them.” Rav Chaim repeated several times that “this is a very big zechus.”

Rav Chaim added that “all the tefillos were not for naught,” because no tefillah goes unheard or to waste.

May the achdus generated by the weeks of communal chizuk and kabbalos continue to unite Klal Yisroel and be a zechus for the ultimate yeshuah b’karov.

Coming from one of the biggest Charedi rabbinic leaders in Israel that is quite a statement. Remember that these boys were Religious Zionist Yeshiva students.

I wish I could be as optimistic about the future. But I’m afraid experience has taught me otherwise. Once these young boys are buried, we will all go back to our own personal agendas. And the angry rhetoric will resume. Achdus will end as quickly as it began. Other Hashkafos will be denigrated and vilified – one side against the other.  The name calling will resume. Words like Amalek and parasite will rear their ugly heads again. I’m sure of it.

And this saddens me. We had one shining moment where we were all one – albeit in tragedy. Why can’t we just continue that? Why must we all think ill of the other? Why can’t there be more of us judging the other side favorably? We all see the problems with the other side. But we all have our own problems too. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all recognized that? Why must the other side be de-legitimized and vilified?

Why must we look down at a Hashkafa that is not our own? This is not to say that our disagreements should be forgotten or ignored.  When one has sincere convictions we ought to defend them vigorously. But that same passion that accompanies it all too often spills over into venomous hatred of those on the other side. It ought not to be that way. Believing in our Hashkafos passionately need not mean we must vilify those with whom we disagree..

Rabbis Call for National ‘Early Shabbat’

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Religious Zionist and Haredi rabbis have called on Jews to usher in Shabbat early this week to show support for the families of Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shayer and Naftali Frenkel.

Bnei Brak Rabbis Aharon Leib Shteinman and Chaim Rabbi Kanievsky, the leaders of the Lithuanian-style yeshiva world, joined Rabbis Chaim Druckman, rabbinic head of the Bnei Akiva youth movement, and Rav David Stav, founder of the religious Zionist Tzohar rabbinic organization, to ask women to light candles 15 minutes earlier than usual, and to study extra Torah for the merit of the missing yeshiva students.

Who Misled Rav Chaim Kanievsky?

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

Rav Chaim Kanievsky is one of the most respected rabbinic leaders in the Charedi world. He is the son of the Steipler Gaon. And the son in law of Rav Elyashiv. He has written many Seforim on Halacha and Hashkafa. His mind is encyclopedic.  His advice is sought everywhere.

In matters of public policy, I have disagreed with him. I believe that in some issues he is not fully informed before he makes decisions. Although I think he probably believes he is.

But every once in a while something is said (or in this case published in writing) that is so outrageous, that I have to assume it is an outright lie. There is no way that Rav Kanievsky could say this. Not if he knew the actual Metzius (reality) of the situation. I have to assume that anything he said along these lines is either a completely lie, or a gross mischaracterization of what he said, or a complete misunderstanding of the Psak.

Copy of Letter - Photo credit: Kikar Hashabbat

Copy of Letter – Photo credit: Kikar Hashabbat

Rafi’s ‘Life in Israel’ blog features a photocopy of a letter by someone named Aharon Feinhandler who heads an organization called, Vaad L’Tohar Hiskashrus. In it he claims to have received a Halachic ruling from Rav Kanivsky about people who own any device that can access the internet. From Rafi’s blog:

A person cannot be a witness at a wedding or at a divorce, and one who did act as such a witness will invalidate the proceedings, even bdieved (after the fact) . The wedding should be performed again, and the get should be given again. This means that there are thousands of adulterers, eishet ish, mamzerim walking around out there without even knowing it.

Rav Feinhandler, director of the committee for purity in communications and the person quoting Rav Kanievsky, also said that such a person cannot build a mikva (i.e. do the hashaka process of connecting the mikva water pit to the mikva pool), and a woman cannot supervise the immersion in the mikva if she has an iPhone.

And, he adds, in many places, such as in Jerusalem, mikvas are built by, and weddings and divorces or officiated by, the Rabbanut and religious councils, and they don’t ask such questions, so they cannot be relied upon – i.e. their mikvas, weddings and divorces must be assumed to be invalid. (source: Kikar)

So, we have eishet ish, mamzerim, passul mikvaot, boalei nidda and children of unions with nidda.

Rafi is right. If this were to be the case, then in its most serious ramification there would be thousands of invalid Gitin in the world. Which means the children of remarriages would be Mamzerim, and their parents will have unwittingly committed biblical level adultery.

Every single person reading this blog that ever witnessed a Get, know that you have increased Mamzerus in the world.

This Psak would include people like Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zweibel, executive vice president of Agudah, Agudah spokeman Rabbi Avi Shafran and most of Agudah’s membership – including (I’m sure) some of their more prominent rabbis.

Half (if not more) of the Charedi Mechanchim I know have smart-phones. It would probably include the entire membership of the RCA.  I could go on, but you get the picture. There is no possible way Rav Kanievsky did this. This Feinhandler fellow is either lying to us, or he lied to Rav Kaneivsky.

Oh… I’m sure he asked him a question along these lines. But, Rav Kanieavsky or anyone of his age and stature wouldn’t know what a smart-phone was if it was staring them in the face. In light of that I strongly suspect that the question went something like this:  Is a person who uses pornographic devices permitted to be a witness on religious documents? Since every single senior rabbinic leader in the world has come out so strongly against using  such a device he probably considers them to be Mumrim L’Hachis – people who purposely violate Halachic directives of the rabbis. Such people are invalid witnesses.

The Internet, Halacha, and Olam HaBah

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

It’s simply not possible. I don’t believe it. Nonetheless it is being reported as fact. Rafi’s blog, Life in Israel, has linked to the Hebrew language website B’Chadrei Charedim that quotes Rav Chaim Kanievsky’s response to a question about smart-phones.

There is a Gemarah in Brachos that tells us that a man will lose his portion in Olam HaBah if he walks regularly behind a woman down a river. Rav Kanievsky was asked if this applies to someone who has in his possession an I-phone or the internet. His one word answer according to Chadrei was ‘ B’Vadai’ – absolutely! Anyone who uses an I-phone or the internet is in a category of losing his Olam HaBah – his heavenly reward in the world to come!

If this is true, then yet again, I think we all ought to all just go over to MacDonald’s and have a cheeseburger… or violate any other Miztvah in the Torah we want to violate. Why bother observing Halacha if you’ve lost your Olam Habah?

I happen to know Gedolei Torah and Roshei Yeshiva  who use I-phones and the internet. Are they all doomed?

Once again we have what appears to be a huge dis-connect between what a great Torah sage supposedly said – and reality. Either Rav Kanievsky does not know the extent of internet use among a great number of devoutly observant Jews, or this is a gross distortion or mischaracterization of his views. I think that both things are true. I don’t believe he said it and meant it to be interpreted as simply as that one word answer indicates.

I would not be surprised if this is yet another instance of Kanoim – religious zealots twisting the views of a elderly rabbinic leader to fit their agenda. I’m sure his position is far more nuanced than the one word answer (B’Vadai) he supposedly gave to a simple question.

The Agenda is obvious. There are people who are eager to destroy other Jews in a fit of self righteousness. They do not have these devices and do not want anyone else to have them either. So they make sure to twist the words of Gedolei Yisroel to assure it.

They may think they are doing the right thing. But they are by far doing far much more harm than good. They may in fact be responsible for pushing more religious Jews out of observance than saving them from using the internet.

By putting people who have smart-phones into a category of losing their Olam Habah, it is not too difficult to see many frustrated Frum people who have so often been put upon with comments like this say, ‘the heck with it!’ I may as well live a life of ease and not worry about violating Halacha. I won’t make to Olam HaBah anyway.

The Gemarah upon which this one word response attributed to Rav Kanievsky was based upon does not forbid the incidental following of a woman down a river. The loss of Olam Habah  that the Gemarah speaks of is only to those who purposely do so with lascivious thoughts and the intent to sin in that regard. And even then only if it is done on a regular basis.

I would add that even if someone regularly does things like that and has some sort of sexual addiction, he can get help… and do Teshuva. I find it very difficult to believe that the Gemarah’s intent is that someone loses his Olam HaBah permanently if he does that. It is also known that the Gemarah sometimes exaggerates to make a point. Which may be the case here.

If there is any comparison to be made between following a woman down a river and the world of the 21st century and the internet – it is in the area of purposely viewing pornography on it. The problem is not the internet. It is the websites one frequents… if those websites are pornographic. That is the comparison that Rav Kanievsky no doubt meant – if he said anything at all.  Accidentally accessing a pornographic website is not a cause for losing one’s Olam Habah.

But the Kanoim who publish stories like this do not want to be confused with the nuances of truth. They want convey the message that I-phones and any other device that can access the internet is so evil that one should not even touch it! For if they do, their Olam HaBah is at stake.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/the-internet-halacha-and-olam-habah/2013/08/20/

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