Sunday, May 17, 2009

brisk battle

For people who care about this sort of thing, ortho jews are batteling for control of the truth.

Rav Aharon Soloveichik zt'l emphasized the centrality of amailus baTorah specifically in respect to leadership in Klal Yisrael.  Also for Dayanim and Poskim, it is insufficient to have only bekiyus-type knowledge and broad familiarity with piskei Halachah.  A Posaik b'Yisrael should be steeped in Gemara learning, in shakla vetarya, in Shach and Taz, R' Akiva Eiger, Noda b'Yehuda..  He must continually be involved in learning Gemara, Rishonim vaAchronim.  He must be an amail baTorah.

We feel it very important to protest here what two balabatim did to Yeshivas Brisk of Chicago since Rav Aharon Soloveichik passed away.  We are taught that the Halacha is:

הוא ובניו בקרב ישראל.

A Gadol in any type of position is to be succeeded by his sons.

Two balabatim "sat themselves down" on the premises and took control of the Yeshiva.  One of Rav Aharon's children went to discuss this scandalous situation with the Novominsker Rebbe, HaRav Yaakov Perlow shlit"a, nasi of Mo'etses Gedolei HaTorah of America and also a talmid of Rav Aharon. The Novominsker Rebbe said that he heard from two separate people that someone, an accountant, I don't know him, has taken control of the Yeshiva. He said that he heard this from two separate people.  One of them was Rabbi Moshe Meiselman.  Rav Perlow shlit"a emphatically declared, "This is an INTOLERABLE situation." 


Let us put aside for a moment the major issue of the sons being the rightful yorshim.

Not only are these two balabatim not involved in high-level learning of Gemara. They are not even involved in learning and they are not Talmidai Chachamim. Rav Aharon always emphasized that a Talmid Chacham is someone who is involved in learning. And they are not involved in learning.  One is an accountant, the other is an electrical contractor.  This is unquestionably a colossal bizayon of the Torah of Rav Aharon.  They are blocking the Torah of "their Rebbe" from going forth. 

This is NOT LASHON HARAH.  Anyone who has any feeling of connection to Rav Aharon Soloveichik and to his Torah has an obligation to cry out in protest!  On the contrary, such an absurd and exaggerated situation was able to evolve only as a result and as an expression of the lashon harah, jealously and systematic ayin ra'ah that has taken place over many years and still continues. Various people were jealous of Rav Aharon  because of the extraordinary Torah he was teaching, the great Mesorah that he represented, and the outstanding unparalleled personal example of Tzidkus, Chessed, Mesirus Nefesh that he was. 

The target of this jealousy was Rav Aharon's children - gaonim, tzaddikim, mamshichei darko.

(This painful story of the jealousy and ayin ra'ah will yet be written about and documented in further detail in a forthcoming sefer.)

The control over the Yeshiva today does not represent the Torah of Rav Aharon and does notrepresent the chessed of Rav Aharon.  We ask anyone who has any AUTHENTIC respect, not just self-serving lip service loyalty (I'm a talmid, I have Rav Aharon's picture on my wall..), what are you doing to enable the Torah of Rav Aharon to stay alive through his children in his Yeshiva?! 

DEVOTED TALMIDIM, speak up and protest!!  The time has come to be mesakain this bizarre and scandalous situation.

The time has come to fully return the Yeshiva to its rightful owners.


Joshua said...

thank you for posting and let the truth be heard and let these 2 people do teshuva and return the yeshiva to its rightful owners and these 2 can help with the yeshiva. This is what RAS would want from his talmdim and would expect from his students.

The Way said...


I posted this not because I agree with the statements and not that I disagree. I posted it as an interesting point of view between two groups who both think they have the "truth."

I also wonder, why now? why after all these years is this an issue?

Furthermore, by R'Yosef's standards, none of the Rabbis in the gemara would be considered talmedi chachammim, as they all had trades as well. I am familiar with one more than the other, and regardless of my personal feelings I can say that at least the one I know has smicha from the same rabbi who gave r'yosef his title. And, he uses his trade to give him the free time to spend learning torah.

So there might be an argument over yerusha etc, but to say that these men are defined by their trades and are not involved in torah and high level of learning is not flat out wrong.
R'Yosef might want to present it that way. And he might legitamitly be upset with these two. But his argument is petty and wrong and makes his case look weak.

Rafi G. said...

not really. a person can be an accountant and be involved in a high level of learning. Just look at the amoraim of the gemara for proof of that! :-)

he is not saying that because they are accountants it is wrong. He is saying because they are not involved in learning at a high level it is wrong.

I have no idea if his claim is true or not that they are not involved and are not talmidei chachomim, but he is not making the claim based on their profession, just on the fact that they are not talmidei chachomim.

I think

The Way said...

Right. Thats what I was trying to say, but I think a "not" got transposed. I meant to say that he, the one I know, does seem to spend a vast amount of time and effort learning and his level of learning should not be dismissed by someone so clearly biased against him.

Joshua said...

The Way,
What makes you think the person is biased against the accountant.

I rememmber when I left Yeshivah RAS told me that I must learn 2 hours a day and that daf Hayomi would not be sufficent that one had to be involved in learning. I am not sure how much the 2 of these peole learn or not but like Rafi said one can work and still be very involved in learning.

Kol tuv,

The Way said...

Yes, I agree. That is my point, that he at the least, should not be criticied based on his learning. And, in my opinion, if you're into that sort of life, should be praised for his level of learning. The author of the brisk sheet is clearly biased against him because he does criticize his learning.

And because of the othercomplaints he lists.

Joshua said...

The way,
One ofthe manin issues here is that Rav Ahron has capable children who are talmedi chachemim and they should be the ones running the yeshivah and giving shiurim and thereby making sure that the torah of Rav Ahron continues to be learned and spread further

The Way said...

R'Yosef is in Israel and R'Eliyahu lives in New york (and turned down numerous offers to stay in Chicago, from what little I know).
There is R'Moshe, but my understanding is that he has not indicated the desire to be a rosh yeshiva.

And given that we are not illiterate sand dwellers wandering through the desert anymore, the idea that only the child of the former Rav can maintain that hashkafa and learning is silly. Sperm is not holy and does not carry all the knowledge and personality of the forebearer. Which is why in our culture your Jewishness passes maternally, because we are never sure who the dad really is.
That issue notwithstanding, there are plenty of cases of a non-son running with an organization and doing a pretty good job. For example, the late lubavitcher rebbe. Not for nothing does he wear a black hat and not a fur hat.

Even when we went to get a king our prophet wept, and now people want the lineage of royalty without the benefits of a real kingdom. To be so petty and possesive of what is not yours, seems silly and emotionally unhealthy. Learning is not a pile of cash to be passed down through lineage (not nowadays at least).

If you believe the torah comes from God (I don't but these people do) than god does not pass through yerusha. In fact, the yerusha argument really only works if you don't believe in god, because than you have an argument for man having possession and yerusha.

Joshua said...

If the yeshivah was running as a viable place I may agree with you. The only thing you have is vasikin minyan there. Has anyone asked Rav Moshe if he wants to be rosh Hayeshivah? He is right there in Chicago why don't you ask him please do not make assumptions. Perhaps Rav Elihu and Rav Yosef and Rav Chayim would be willing to come in on occassion to give a shiur or so. Has Rav Elihu ever been back to Chicago since he left to give a shiur?

Rafi G. said...

from what I understand, Rav Eliyahu originally left in large part (maybe not completely) because of the takeover. he was pushed out to a certain extent.

The Way said...

A viable yeshiva? The place wasn't even viable when R'Ahron was alive. Regardless of the nostalgia his children might hold, had it not been for the baalebattim who felt that a vasykin minyan and some shiuriim were better than nothing, there would be no brisk in chicago today.

And poskiim and dayanim and roshe yeshiva are typically people who are sought after because the qualities they posess inspire followers. If all the children of R'Ahron have to offer is a genetic link, why would they be sought after? R'Moshe should become a rosh yeshiva because his dad was brilliant and inspiring?
But again I return to the point, if the yeshiva was on death's door when R'Ahron was alive, why would you imagine that his sons would do any better? Or do you think they would like to be Rosh Yeshiva of an empty building?

So it is a place today for people who knew and were part of "old school" brisk to have their minyaniim and shiuriim. With no students what do you need a rosh yeshiva for?

The Way said...


I may be wrong on this but I understood that they made R'Eliyhu the best offer they could. But with no students and no real money and no inspiring charismatic figure like R'Ahron to generate any sort of intrest in Brisk, they could not afford to keep him. Perhaps R'Eliyahu thought they were lowballing him with cheap offers but the yeshiva had been bleeding money for decades. SO the sons of R'Ahron picked up and left and are offended because they are not having money and offers thrown at them? Why didn't they stay and "sit down" in the yeshiva and build it up? They didn't but expect to ride their dad's coattails by default?

Mr. said...

There seems to be some sort of misconception that the two individuals mentioned are giving shiurim in the yeshiva. They are not. As far as I have been told there are shiurim given daily in the Yeshiva by Rav Ahron's eldest son Rav Moshe. Control of the yeshiva is nonetheless maintained by at least one of these two individuals.

As far as the vasikin minyan being the one remnant of Brisk in Chicago this is false for two reasons:
1. The shiurim given, and chesed done, by Rav Moshe is the true continuation of Rav Ahron's work.
2. The Vasikin Minyan does not follow the psakim, or minhagim, of Rav Ahron. The minyan was originally started for Rav Sheinberg, it is possible those are the psakim they follow.
I hope my comments were helpful in clarifying the situation.

Joshua said...

I think as do many students of Rav Moshe that he is brilliant and inspiring in his own right.

The Way said...

I did not intend to diminish or disparage R'Moshe in any way. I was simply negating the argument that blood relation is the most important criteria for becoming a Rosh yeshiva.

But seeing as how R'Moshe is involved and giving shiuriim etc, than what is the complaint? He is carrying on R'Aharon's work, just not as Rosh Yeshiva. And there is no Yeshiva. If he wants to be Rosh he should build a school. But how can you blame these guys who at least saved the recognition of the name Brisk in Chicago? They took over when the school was dead and buried.

So not to knock R'Ahron's children, yes they are great and smart etc. But if they want to be head of brisk in chicago then why don't they start a school instead of bad mouthing these people?

YOSEF18 said...

Ther question remains that since there is a building and a bank account , who does it belong to?

The Way said...


the author of the parsha sheet did not present this as a battle over finances. The author knocked the baalabatiim's learning and complained that they are destroying the Brisk name and keeping R'ahron's children down.

If that is all a ruse and the real issue is a financial complaint, than there are legal methods to deal and sort out those issues. Publicly knocking people's knowledge and hashkafa is not the manner one pursues a legal complaint.

Turns out the parsha sheet is loshon hara (and busha braabiim and maybe other issues as well)regardless of the author's claim that it is not.

Rafi G. said...

the truth is that I have no idea how any of this happened, and anything I posit is simply a combination of playing devils advocate, along with pulling out bits of memories from over the years.

as far as I am concerned I remember at least one of the two baalebatim referred to as being devoted students of RAS. There is no way their (or at least his) "jealousy" or actions way back when were the cause of the stroke (as per the latest parsha sheet) - at the time they were simple bachurim in the yeshiva and totally dedicated to their rav.

As a matter of fact, they were dedicated their whole lives to RAS, and that was even the cause much later of personal family issues, as he always fought to defend his rebbe's (RAS) honor and name, even at the expense of his extended family. Would RAS have held some of what the student held? I think not, and I know from having spoken with sons of RAS and with other talmidim that RAS probably would not have fought like this student did, but the fact isthe students fight was for the honor of RAS.

So it seems strange and even wrong to say that he was jealous of the sons and caused the breakup of the yeshiva, and even mroe so the stroke which was before these students were anybody.

PeaceGod said...

My 2 cents on the issue:
The Balabatim took control of the Yeshiva and have maintained personal control for way too long. I suggest that even they, must be tired of this self imposed task.
Rebbe would without any doubt in my mind have wanted one of his sons to take over.
The time has come to assist his children in continuing Rebbe's work.
As time goes on, I get the impression that these Balabatim, who loved their Rebbi as much as one can, who were dedicated to him beyond all reasonable limits, have overstepped their bounds.
Rebbe would not be proud of them. They are behaving like battered husbands or wives in a nasty divorce situation. No logical reasoning can explain their continuing obstinance.

Rebbi would expect his beloved Talmidim to assist his children disseminate his Torah.

He would not want them to seize control and retain it ad infinitum.

Please, Balabatim,Fellow Talmidim, call together the family, and see if you can facilitate in getting some closure of this bleeding problem.
Rav Moshe is the obvious choice for leading this process, but try to find a solution to this problem that must be causing you much pain, try to find the solution that Rebbi would have wanted.

My pain is that you are allowing your pain in the loss of your Rebbi to block your view. You hold all the cards and just sit there not knowing how to let go. Follow your hearts, what would Rebbi want?

A fellow Talmid