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Monday, January 08, 2007

Gedolim and Experience

Anyone writing a blog like this struggles with the problem of supposed pronouncements of Gedolim versus our own experience and the vision before our eyes.

Now, we don't disrespect gedolim around here. I respect and I long to respect gedolim.

But for some reason, some aren't seeing what I'm seeing.

There are some chareidi Jews whose philosophy of life vis-a-vis is the Groucho Marx approach of "who are you going to believe - me or your lying eyes?" .

That approach is not really tailored for all yiden and for all times (krias yam suf excepted). And it is problematic to suppose that ignoring reality is what the Torah demands. (Yes, I know about Nachshon and the various chazals which can be interpreted to take the 'Groucho approach'. But all of us adults know that most of the time, emuna is to be combined with sechel. If not, spending time and effort for Hatzolos nefoshos or attempting to safeguard toddlers would be oxymoronic.)

Now, Rabbi Without A Cause struggles with the same problem and says of this of his dissonance between what we see and what we get vis-a-vis claimed public pronouncements of Daas Torah, at least regarding the internet:

"Black and White don’t necessarily make Gray".

Our interpretation: One must strive to respect gedolim, their self sacrifice, lifestyle and accomplishments and yet at the same time not be Groucho Marx. Otherwise one's avoda and Torah run the risk of dilution.

And yes, it may be a challenge.

Black and white don't necessarily make gray.

Perhaps not a permanent solution, but an interim attitude.

Our dissonant sentiments, exactly.


Anonymous deerson said...

my Rebbe has often said i believe in Daas Torah but who are the Gedolim?

8:16 PM  
Blogger TheProf said...

Oy Leapa you try my support. In answer to our dear colleague blogger Deerson: J.P. Morgan once said, if you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it. If you have to ask who are our gedolim, then go back to square one and start putting in some effort into learning all aspects of theology; chumash, rashi, gemora, rashi, rishonim, shulchan orach, miforshim, chasidus, mussar. Have I left anything out? And when you've put in about 40 years of all this, then you'll recognize who our gedolim are.
Back to Leapa. Judaism puts a value on individual though processes. But careful that you don't fall into the Korach's trap of kol hoam kulom kidoshim. The Bais Yisroel says that Korach tore himself away from his kesher with Moshe Rabbeinu, the resident Daas Torah of that time. I agree with you that our gedolim are not confronting the internet issue with the proper perspective but they don't use Marx's eyes. They use the eyes of their Daas Torah. And Daas Torah, as I've emphasized many times here, is far and away superior and on a completely different level than the alleged concept of "Daas baal habayis", no matter how much the baal habyis has learned. Because the average graduate of any yeshiva who has gone to work, and I do not demean that concept at all, has in fact and reality severed his strong kesher with the arba koslei beis medrash. As the Sfas Emes says, his neshoma is not on the fire, even though he may still be burning with the flame of Torah. You cannot compare that learning, no matter with how much mesiras nefesh it comes, to the learning of a rosh yeshiva or chasidish rebbe, who in reality may have much less mesiras nefesh than the average guy. Afilu omrim lecho al smol shehi yemin, you must listen. Even if you know that it's smol, wrong, but Daas Torah says it's yemin, correct, you listen. If we don't do that, we'll collapse into what Rashi says in parshas B'Chukosai, that the onset of the tochache was that Klal Yisroel denigrated the words of the chachomim. And who was Klal Yisroel before churba rishon? A nation that knew all the minutae dinim of taharo. A nation of daas baal habayis. The Torah says, uvnei korach lo meisu. The ideas promulgated by korach have not died. We seem to be falling into the trap of kol hoam kulom kidishom, u'madua tisnasu al khal hashem. and we question our gedolim.

9:45 AM  
Anonymous deerson said...

sorry to read the prof has no sense of humor.

1:52 PM  
Blogger Leapa said...

Prof, I'm not declaring the superiority of my thought processes to Daas Torah, nor am I unaware of the Chazals you mention, Korach, etc.

(Although I believe there is some controversy over the appropriate venue of the yomin-smoel analogy. Some would delimit it to psak halacha.)

I know I have a problem, as do many of us.

I'm at least trying to confront rather than ignore the fact that this tension exists, and state that the fact that I'm here doesn't mean I have to banish Daas Torah from my universe.

Can you honestly say that the chickens have come to roost, and the final chapter on this subject has been written?

As a historical note, Daas Baal Habayis has only reached its current low in our generation.

Moreover, I was taught in my youth that mesiras nefesh can on occasion substitute for learning.

Prof, your own post is unfortunate evidence of the separation between the Gedolim of our generation and the rest of klal yisroel. This same phenomenon is one of the main issues I want to explore on this blog.

And Deerson - the prof's lack of a sense of humor is evidence of a problem, not his personality, just like your Rebbe's statement is evidence of the same problem.


2:40 PM  

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