Boteach attempts to paints himself as a knight on a white horse and deceivingly argues that the Rosh disapproves of him because he says that “gay Jewish men should be encouraged to put on tefillin.”
As a student in Los Angeles, I directed the outreach office for the Rosh’s Yeshiva. I happen to know for a fact that the students pay weekly visits to both men and women regardless of their sexual orientation. The only criteria for Tefilin is that the person be male and Jewish. They are there to put on Tefilin with the men, to bring Shabbas candles to women and, generally, to bring the joy of Judaism into their lives.
Shmuley, before you also unfairly accuse me, you should know that I supported Assemblyman David Weprin’s bid for congress, in the face of many orthodox Rabbis’ rejection of him for voting for the same sex marriage law in New York.
I acknowledge that Boteach is a great defender of Israel and an excellent speaker. But it is absurd for Boteach to write that “this air of intellectual sophistication is being lost to Chabad – with fanatics and extremists like Rabbi Schochet rising to prominence amid the dearth of scholarly leadership….. But just a generation ago, in the Rebbe’s lifetime, Chabad was producing world-class orators and thinkers who resuscitated Jewish life”
That a man of Boteach’s intelligence could delude himself into thinking that he is in the category of Chabad’s “world class thinkers” while implying that the Rosh is the new kid on the block who only rose to prominence “amid the dearth of scholarly leadership” should puzzle anyone who knows both men.
The Rosh is simply in a different league than Boteach.
In his younger years, the Rosh studied under Rabbi Dovid Soloveitchik Rosh Yeshiva of Brisk in Jerusalem, a Yeshiva attended only by select young Talmudists. Rabbi Aharon Kotler of Beth Medrash Govoha praised the Rosh saying one day he is going to be a Gadol B’Yisroel (a great scholar amongst Israel).
The Rosh is the foremost authority within Chabad on the complex laws of the international dateline and how it relates to the laws of Sabbath, Omer, Bar Mitzvah etc. He is well versed in the Talmud, Rishonim Acharonim, Code of Jewish Law, Musser and Chassidus.
There are literally dozens of scholarly letters between the Rebbe of Lubavitch and the Rosh. I am not aware of even one to Boteach.
I am reminded of the words of the Baba Sali regarding a time when a Jewish leader differed with the opinion of Lubavitcher Rebbe on Shabbas candles for children
The Baba Sali asked, “How does the tiny flea dare to rise up against the mighty eagle?”