Letter: Rav Kotler Speaks With Rav Shteinman About NJ Elections


ravmalkielletterelections2009-small[Letter below.] Following voices of question regarding local endorsements in tomorrow’s elections, Rav Aryeh Malkiel Kotler, rosh yeshiva of Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, NJ, penned a letter stating that, following a discussion he had with the senior rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Orchos Torah, Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman, it should be known that all kehillah members are urged to vote for the candidates previously endorsed by the Vaad of Lakewood.

Rav Kotler, in his letter, says that he discussed all the pertinent issues with Rav Shteinman and that Rav Shteinman said that it may be publicized in his name that one should vote in accordance with the earlier conclusions reached by the Vaad of Lakewood.

There has been some vocal opposition from various segments questioning the Vaad’s decisions, specifically their endorsement of incumbent Governor Jon Corzine and not his Republican challenger, Chris Christie, who is pro-life and against to’eivah marriage.

 To view the letter, click here.

 {Dovid Bernstein-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. The psak from Maran Harav Shteinman is not surprising. For as far back as I can remember, many Gedolim in Eretz Yisroel joined leftist governments in order to obtain benefits for the chareidi community. I am certain many of us remember that many chareidi groups/parties supported the leftist government that withdrew from the shetachim.

    Lest this comment be misunderstood, I am not criticizing, chas vesholom. Gedolim have an outlook on what is ultimately best for Klal Yisroel that is beyond that of mere mortal man. While I may not understand, I hear and obey. But at the least, this psak should come as no surprise, and I don’t think it has to be parsed in terms of the precise language of the questions and the answers.

    One factor which disturbs me, and is one of the concomitants of our bitter galus, is that there are no universally accepted Gedolim. The Litvishe have their Gedolim, the Chassidim theirs, the Sefardim their own, and, let us be honest, the Modern Orthodox those that they hold to be Gedolim. Thus, even in Lakewood, there is a least one chasuve Rov who is telling his olam that it is assur to vote for Corzine, not surprisingly in the tradition of Harav Avigdor Miller, ZT”L.

    This pirud levavot, unfortunately, has accompanied us for thousands of years, and will [probably] last until bias go’el bimhaira. I suggest that we accept that there will be differences of opinion without descending to denigrating Gedolim, tzaddikim, and talmidei chachamim – or even stam amcha.

  2. What it boils down to and what the unfortunate truth is that there is a lack of trust in the Vaad and the leaders of this town. Rav Malkiel Shlita must be applauded and given proper kavod hatorah. He works around the clock to make sure the yungerleit get their checks on time. He is always concerned about every yid and has tremendous ahavas yisroel. With all this he still gives a shiur and learns many hours every day. The issue is not Rav Malkiel shlita and anyone who questions his integrity either doesn’t know him personally or is a sonei torah. However it is apparent that there is no trust of the vaad , our commiteemen and the askanim. I hope Rav Malkiel Shlita realizes this and is instrumental in changing the way the concerns of the oilem are addressed.

  3. Very tragically, we need to point out a little bit of something that we really should (and rightfully do) avoid talking about.

    Many of us think that the issues of the Toeva people — which is that more and more and more of the governments of our country are giving more and more and more “rights” and official recognition to these extremely wicked people and the extremely wicked things that they do — are issues that are of no concern to us. At most, we think that these Toeva rights just further lower the already low morality of the outside society, which we, of course, have nothing to do with (???)

    (Is that really true? Don’t we almost every day have to go into the outside society to make our Parnossa and to do much of our shopping and traveling and other business?)

    But, we think, these Toeva laws have no effect on our local communities. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

    First of all, laws which prohibit discrimination of Toeva people in employment, will, Chas V’Shalom, compel our Mosdos of Chinuch to hire Toeva people as secular teachers for our children, and, in general compel our businesses to hire Toeva people.

    OK, this next example is from California; but it does not take much thinking to realize that what happens in California can very easily come to New York and New Jersey. Just recently, the Democratic controlled Legislature of the State of California passed and the far left liberal so-called Republican governor signed into law a statute that proclaims every May 22 as “Harvey Milk Day.” [Harvey Milk was a Jewish man who, very tragically, was a rabid fanatic Toeva man who strongly advocated the most extreme forms of the Toeva, was a supervisor in the city government of San Francisco (excuse me, to use the language of the radio talk show “Michael Savage,”: San Fran SICKO!!), was thus nicknamed “The Mayor of Castro Street” (the Toeva section of SF), was thus the leader of the Toeva people, and, along with the then SF mayor, was killed by a fellow supervisor who was enraged at these immoral excesses.]

    So now, every May 22 in California is a “Yom HaZicharon” for this geferliche rasha. On this “Yom HaZicharon,” all public schools are required to have their students — from kindergarten through twelfth grade — “perform ’suitable commemorative exercises,’ remembering the ‘life,’ ‘accomplishments,’ and ‘contributions’ of Harvey Milk.” (http://savecalifornia.com/oppose-harvey-milk-gay-day-sb-572.html)

    Now, of course, many of us will retort that OUR children do not go to public schools! First of all, countless Jewish children DO go to public schools. Furthermore, most of our own yeshivas and Beis Yaakovs DO get various types of funding and assistance FROM THE GOVERNMENT. So, what will happen when the government makes these new “educational” rules that require public schools AND ANY SCHOOLS THAT RECEIVE GOVERNMENT FUNDING to teach their students about honoring people like Mr. Milk and to respect the Toeva lifestyle???

    This question is further highlighted by the recent passage by the US Congress and signing into law by the President that extends the issue of “hate crimes” to include hatred of Toeva.

  4. Clearly, this entire issue with the Va’ad is unfortunate. However, it does call attention to the fact that the Va’ad represents the narrow interests of its own and not necessarily the interests of the Lakewood frum community at large nor the interests of Klal Yisroel or Eretz Yisroel. Corzine is merely a proxy for Obama, the biggest soneh Yisrael to serve in the White House in decades. Obama has campaigned extensively for Corzine and this election is a referendum on Obama’s policies. Obama has been a disaster for this country and for Eretz Yisrael. A vote for Corzine will be interpreted as approval for Obama. While the Yeshiva may benefit directly or indirectly from dollars to support the “programs”, which may be more available under Corzine, Lakewood residents face higher property taxes and increaing unemployment as the economy will inevitably worsen under the Democrat’s policies of tax and spend. Money for programs does not come from the amorphous “government”. Money for programs comes from people- that means all of us- who are struggling to pay our taxes, our tuitions and our mortgages. For the V’aad to be truly representative, its memebers need to consider the impact of their decisions upon the larger Lakewood Kehilla, Klal Yisroel, Eretz Yisroel and the U.S.

  5. Tell me if I’m wrong, but the most likely scenario is that R’ Malkiel (who is trying to be of help his kolleleit) called R’ Ahron Leib and said, “we had a Vaad look into who would be the most appropriate candidates. Should we vote for who they reccomend?” To which R’ Ahron Leib replied, “you should vote like the Vaad suggests.”
    Now, does that address any problems people have with the Vaad?

  6. To A Yiddishe Mama,

    Because your comments are written in a somewhat eloquent way you believe you can accuse others of just having their best interests in mind. Now I ask you what gives you the right to accuse the Vaad of, to put it not so eloquently, promoting their selfish interests?
    Do you know what the interests of most of Lakewood are? The fact that $20,000,000 annually goes to our mosdos as a result of Jon Corzine (see Vaad’s letter) is enough of a reason to endorse him, let alone the many families who are struggling to make ends meet who can now qualify for Jersey Care and WIC because of Jon Corzine. These are literal lifelines for most of the Lakewood community. Perhaps it is just you who has their own best interests in mind? The Vaad made an endorsement. If you disagree with their endorsement go ahead and vote for whomever you would like to. But don’t accuse others of things that you have no idea about.

  7. I don’t live in Lakewood,but from this discussion it seems that unless Rav Shteinman gives his approval, the local poskim, gedolim, rabbonim don’t matter. How did we get to this?
    Why does a man nearly 100 years old have to get involved in the politics of New Jersey? Are there no people of any stature in this country? Is it necessary to bother Rav Shteinman for every thing that comes up? Is no one in Lakewood worthy of listening to unless someone in Eretz Yisroel backs him up?

  8. just wondering why theres no letter from rav shtienman so we can see for ourselves what he based his psak on as is with most piskei halachos written by gedolim .

  9. This post by Matzav really leaves one in doubt. There is the saying that: “It all depends on HOW you present the question to the Ruv.” When the letter states that Rav Kotler “discussed all the pertinent issues with the Rav Steinman, etc….”— Who really knows WHAT the pertinent issues that were discussed and HOW they were presented.

    We all know of stories where a person’s name, book or idea have been condemned because ‘somebody’ asked a sheloh to a Ruv and tries to implement that psak on a Kehillah without having all the details and facts made public.
    Nobody wants to be ‘pogea’ in the kavod of Rav Steinman Chas Vasholom, and that if one votes against Corzine it is undoubtedly l’shem Shomayim. However, there is an agenda and that really leaves us in doubt. So this whole situation with the vaad is very unfortunate.

    Aside from the To’eva issue, we all know that a victory for Corzine is a victory for Obama. And we have to do whatever we can to insure that his policies are not implemented and that he is NOT re-elected in 2012. Much more is at stake if Cozine wins, especially for our brothers in Eretz Yisrael, and not merely for the local issues revolving around Lakewood. (This is not intended to belittle the Lakewood issues.) However, all would agree that we should focus on the larger picture and that would be to have Corzine defeated.

  10. What Chilul Hashem!

    Moron Rosh Yeshivas Lakewood Rav Malkiel Shlita who is Moser Nefesh Mamish for The Yeshiva, Keheila, and Klal Yisroel is questioned?

    To what low levels has Klal Yisroel come to?

    What has to Happen for People to start being Mechabed our Rabbiem, Rabbonim, Roshei Yeshiva and Gedolim?

    We wonder why there’s soo much Tzaros for Yuchidim and for the Klal….
    Why Shidduch Crisis….

    Why Off the Derech Crisis….

    I once heard a Powerful story:

    A Person once came to his Rov and Said the most terrible thing is about to happen-his son wants to marry a Non-Jew. And he pleaded with the Rov to speak to his son.

    The Rov called in the Son. Spoke to him, to no avail.

    The father came back to the Rov Screaming-What’s the Rov worth if he can’t even convince a Jew not to marry out of Faith!

    The Rov Replyed with the following tale:
    There was once a big epidemic and there was one Traveling Dr. That had the medicine to heal.

    Signs went up in town he was coming….with a big price tag for the medicine.

    One poor fellow had a sick son but had no way at all to get a golf of such money so soon. He decided he had no choice. So the night before the Dr. Was supposed to arrive he went out and robed and stole from a few men and took there money and threw there Purse and bags in the River.

    The next day he was standing on line with his sick son money in hand to get treated By the Dr. When his turn came along. The Dr. With tears in his eyes cried and said “I had the proper Medicine to heal your sick and dying son. But what can I do last night as I was coming into town some robbers attacked me and took my bag with my money and Medicine and stole the money and THREW THE BAG INTO THE WATER”

    The Father of the sick Child Fainted!

    The Rov turned to the father who’s son was Marrying out of the faith and said “what can I do YOU THREW NY MEDICINE INTO THE WATER”
    How did you speak of me at home? What did you say at your Shabbos table about the Rov’s Drasha? Or about the decisions the Rov made in Shul or in town?


    Where Throwing our Medicine in the Water!

    Forget the politics!

    There are lives on the line!

    Our Children our looking and listening to your words and actions of how we talk and act towards our Rabbonim our Roshei Yeshiva and Gedolim.

    Don’t let the future Dorois say that “WE THREW OUT THE MEDICINE”

  11. Elections are looked upon differently from various vantage points.
    The frum olem in Israel has one concern only and that is $$$$/Funds/Grants that are available from the government and which coalition can be joined to secure these well-needed funds. Since most frum yidden live in ‘religious enclaves’, receive govt health care and other social services, ‘toava’ is outside of our walls, —- once again the sole voting agenda is $$$$$ and perhaps keeping the status quo unchanged.
    For frum yidden in America who live/associate/work with other non observant peope/pay taxes/need to show solidarity with Jews world wide/ the question on who to cast a vote takes an entirely different perspective. The vote determines & SHOWS WHO WE ARE & WHAT WE STAND FOR.
    In the NJ & NY election there is daas torah for both candidates, this makes decision making much more trying. Sorry for the headache to all my American friends.

  12. Many rabonim in town have voiced thir opinion that you should vote for Christie. BH for R SB Cohen. We need more like that.