In response to a few commenters and some who have corresponded with me offline regarding this post and this post, which shared interviews with Rabbi Dov Lipman, I want to share a couple of thoughts.
[Update 8/1/13 @ 10:59 a.m.] [As a side point, although I believe it is clear from the context, I want to clarify for the record that in this blog I speak only for myself. Do not assume that something I say in my own name either is or is not a representation of Rav Moshe Weinberger's views. The only thing which definitively represents Rav Weinberger's views are the drashos where I write that he has reviewed their content. That being said, my own personal belief is that Rav Weinberger has no aversion to studying the positions of those with whom he disagrees and I do not believe he generally condones misrepresentations of those with whom one disagrees and would agree that one should oppose people for what they actually stand for rather than what people misrepresent them as standing for.]
First, it has been fascinating to hear how strongly people react to (i) the very idea of hearing or facilitating others' ability to hear a viewpoint which differs from the majority of gedolim and roshei yeshiva in E"Y and (ii) the content of Rabbi Lipman's interviews.
With regard to the first point, the Shulchan Aruch (Rema YD 246:4) forbids studying sifrei minim (books of heresy). While Rabbi Lipman may be pursuing a solution different from the majority of gedolim, barring some stretched explanation of the definition of sifrei minim, it is permitted to hear what he has to say. Therefore the question "How could you give such a person a platform?" is spurious. Are we so insecure in our convictions that we cannot hear out a dissenting viewpoint?
The second point regarding the content of the interviews is also interesting. Several people who do not agree with Rabbi Lipman at all have commented to me that they are grateful that I shared these interviews because (1) they were misinformed by speakers and frum media outlets regarding what the current coalition is actually proposing and appreciated the fact that the actual plan is more moderate and considerate than there were heretofore told and (2) they were under the impression that nothing but publicity-seeking, pandering, and hatred of the Torah and those who study it could possibly be motivating Rabbi Lipman and those in his party's coalition. Watching the interviews caused them to realize that while they may strongly disagree with his policies, they saw where he was coming from and why he sincerely believes that his plan is the best one to strengthen the Torah and the Jewish people.
The first reason why I believe it was important to share these interviews is that it is unjustifiable to suggest that it is better to believe in a false, demonized caricature of a fellow Jew simply in order to avoid shaking our faith in our position, even if that position is similar to that of the gedolim we follow. As I have repeatedly written in the comments to the above-linked posts, it is better to disagree with people on the merits than to condemn them personally, especially here where it's a frum person, a rabbi, there are other rabbeim who support his general proposals (though he says he cannot name them lest they be threatened as he has), and when their intentions are for the benefit of klal Yisroel.
But there are a lot of people out there with whom I disagree and I do not go out of my way to understand what makes them tick.
The thing that fascinates me about this person is that he is addressing a problem which has broken my heart for a long time and which has been going almost unaddressed until now. And that has nothing to do with secular attitudes toward chareidim or their lack of service in the army. The fact is that whether we understand why He did so or not, given the infinite value of learning Torah, Hashem designed us such that the tafkid for the majority of Jews is to work for a livelihood in one form or another while learning Torah and living ehrlich lives. We have ignored the following teachings of chazal at our great peril:
- "Harbei asu k'Rabbi Yishmael v'alsa b'yadan; k'Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai v'lo alsa b'yadan – many followed the path of Rabbi Yishmael and were successful; many tried the path of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and were not successful" (Berachos 35b) [Obviously doesn't mean there aren't exceptions but this is the general outcome.]
- "Yafa talmud Torah im derech eretz she'yegias shnei'hem mashkachas avon," "Learning Torah along with making a living is beautiful because toiling in both makes one forget sin." (Avos 2:2)
- "Kol she'eino melamed es b'no umnus k'ilu melamdo listus," "If anyone does not teach his son a trade, it is as if he taught him to be a robber." (Kiddushin 29a)
There are others along these lines, but we went down a path of pretending that we could ignore these ma'amarei chazal without consequences and have experienced how wrong we were, with our children and our own ruchnius as the korbanos. I hope I do not have to recount how each of the consequences spoken about by all of these ma'amarei chazal have come to pass, and then some, l'da'avoneinu.
Anyone who has read about the recent events in Bnei Brak or has come into contact with the "shababnikim" produced by the one-size-fits-all shita cannot help but shed a tear. And that is just the most extreme example. I mourn when I contemplate the diminishment of the tzura of klal Yisroel that results from the fact that such a large number of yungerleit, who are living an ostensibly Toraso Umanaso life, are not living in accordance with their personal tafkid. This has a wide variety of somethwat more subtle, but devastating and widespread effects. We cannot deviate from Hashem's plan for us without consequences.
I do not personally endorse the government's plan or everything Rabbi Lipman says. But I want to hear those who speak about the issue and at least hear and understand what they have to say. That is why I love reading Jonathan Rosenblum (though he certainly disagrees with Rabbi Lipman!), Rabbi Adlerstein, and Rabbi Yakov Horowitz. I cannot understand how anyone can tolerate the continuation of the status quo which is destroying our children.
We need a new plan to solve the issue perhaps. Do you know what I would love to see? I would love for the Gedolim to bypass any askanim and say "The current coalition's plan is a no-go. But we understand the deleterious effects of teaching a one-size-fits-all life path. We also understand those legitimate concerns of the non-chareidi communities. We therefore institute X Y and Z policies for our communities and will enter into direct negotiations with the current coalition to arrive at a solution we can agree to." Halevai!!!