The Matzav Rant: The Blue Claws, Kishke’s Opinion and Blogs vs. The Gedolim



Editor’s Note: Despite threats by a particular blog to do damage to as a result of publishing the wonderful article below earlier today, we have, at the advice of those who guide us, kept this posted because of the vital issue it addresses. Attempts at pure defamation and the spreading of total falsities about will not detract from our determination to stand up for what is right. It should be noted that what is written below is neither groundbreaking nor revolutionary, but, rather, common sense and normative hashkafa.

By Shmuel Miskin

At first, it was just obnoxious, perhaps irritating. Then it got gradually worse. By now, it is downright unacceptable.

I am referring to the comments and posts online “disagreeing” with daas Torah or decisions made by rabbonim or yeshivos.

What prompted me to write this was an email I received from a friend of a letter recently published online about the decision years ago by Beth Medrash Govoha to restrict its talmidim and their families from going to a local baseball park that had opened. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

First, the broader problem: There has to be a point where even the less Torahdike people among us realize that “Kishke” or “Yankel in Flatbush,” or “Hotpants 101” or any other anonymous commenter should not be a bar plugtah with Rav Elyashiv or any other rov whose opinion is reported. Yet, so often, a p’sak or opinion from a gadol is posted online, and we have lay people – with apparently very little Torah hashkafa – sharing their opinions on whether the given p’sak is right or wrong. Why a blog would allow such a letter and such comments to be published is hard to understand, but perhaps it is simply a reflection of the people running these sites. In that case, there isn’t much to do about it. Or is there?

Just as bothersome is when a policy of a specific yeshiva or rabbonim is mentioned, by name, and then dissected piece by piece. If someone wants to discuss the shidduch crisis, the high school work crisis, the parnassah crisis, or any other crisis, then, by all means, go ahead. But to share opinions about whether a yeshiva should lift a ban on going to a local ballpark is completely inappropriate, but is reflective of how low we have sunk that we allow these things to go on without protest.

In the aforementioned email/letter I received, the writer, identified just by his initials, questions whether the restriction placed by Beth Medrash Govoha on going to the local Blue Claws baseball stadium should perhaps be lifted if certain changes are made, such as implementing separate seating, kosher food, etc. (This suggestion was made seriously. Some people reading it would think it was some kind of joke.)

I read the email 5 times just to get it right. My response was: Huh? Who put this up for public discussion? Is the policy of a yeshiva, led by prominent roshei yeshiva, up for discussion on a so-called frum website?

Of course, the writer puts a disclaimer: (paraphrased) “I’m just thinking aloud without chas veshalom criticizing daas Torah.”

Sorry, sir, but questioning a policy of a specific institution and specific rabbonim or gedolim is not just “thinking out loud.” If you have an idea, take it to them. Don’t air your creative ideas or disagreements with gedolim on a website if you consider yourself an ehrliche, frum, ben Torah.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I am not trying to limit healthy discussion and give-and-take. But analyzing a policy of a specific mosad, by name, or having a discussion about whether a certain rov, gadol or posek is right or wrong simply has no place in any respectable frum forum, website or publication. And those who violate this very basic principle should be held accountable for it.

Oh, of course, as I expected as I read the email, the person wrote how if there were kosher events (I guess he means at the Blue Claws stadium) and outlets, we would see a drop in at-risk kids and the like. I agree with the person that we should have more kosher outlets, but where does he get the nerve to make his point by questioning the policy of BMG? You want kosher events? Go to those in the field of at-risk kids and others who try to do just that. Create kosher outlets all you want. Set up programs and events. But don’t have the audacity to publicly question a policy of the yeshiva which was made years ago with a lot of thought in mind.

The person who wrote the letter should be ashamed of himself.

It is about time we start cracking down on those who feel that the internet is open for all analysis and criticism of gedolim, rabbonim and yeshivos.

It is nothing less than a chillul Hashem.

{Shmuel Newscenter}


  1. I know I am going to sound like a hipocrite, but this is the first time I am posting and I believe the biggest “problem” is that the frum newsites maybe should not post any comments or place to blog thereby leaving people to think out loud in their homes and not in everyone’s home!

  2. ??? ?????? ???????? ????? ????????

    The Internet is not for the faint of heart, it is a democratic tool, albeit a lowest common denominator tool.

    Matzav, you cant have it both ways.

  3. Dear Shmuel Miskin,

    You are absolutely 100% correct in everything you wrote above!

    This article should be made “sticky” and kept on the main page of this (and every Jewish) website as a constant reminder.

  4. dont get so riled up,anything posted on the internet no matter who that rav is or what his status is, is NULL & VOID since anybody could post anything on the internet, without any proof it has no Status at all.

    Anything said on the street by any person has no relevance either unless that persn is 100% a person of trust,
    now how do you judge if a certain person is trust worthy ??? The Answer

    if you would borrow him or her a large sum of money, that is called trust worthy, other wise he is like TOM, DICK or HARRY,

  5. By the sounds of this author’s rant as it is so called it seems redundant to comment about a person whos anger is covered up by their sanctimonious feelings against individuals with thinking minds who post out of pure pain and suffering and not neccessarily because they are insolent. Perhaps this author could raise some ingenious solutions instead of ranting as its rightly referred to. Although, I prefer to wait for Moshiach Tzidkeinu

  6. Izzy,

    You’re confusing the issue of personal trust with communal authority. I’d lend my brother a law a million dollars if I had it — but I wouldn’t put him in charge of communal affairs. Likewise, I might not lend a gadol (or even a secular politician) large sums of money (since I don’t know them personally), but I would trust them with communal affairs.

    The Wolf

  7. “anything posted on the internet no matter who that rav is or what his status is, is NULL & VOID since anybody could post anything on the internet, without any proof it has no Status at all.”

    This is actually the classic example of an ad hominem attack. You are ignoring the content completely because of who the person is (anonymous, in this case). The truth of a statement stands or falls on it’s content, not on whether or not the identity of the person is known. Whether or not the question of the BMG policy is valid or not rests on its merits, not on the identity of the person making the argument.

    The Wolf

  8. The problem is that you can no longer trust when you hear or read that “so and so gadol said X”

    We have seen time and again that there are biased individuals with an agenda who misquote gedolim

  9. Matzav: You have set the standard as THE kosher newsite that we can allow our families to peruse every day. In this regard, you have become the “Yated” of the internet.

    So please, finish the job and STOP POSTING COMMENTS FROM ANONYMOUS OR MENTALLY UNSTABLE INDIVIDUALS. Even if the writer is shy and would prefer to sign with a pseudonym, the fact that his name is known to the Matzav editor should serve to cool him down.

    If an intelligent member of the community feels strongly about an issue and has something to add to the conversation, let him do so and sign his name. This will eliminate the bored sickos sitting idly in their offices releasing steam and frustration by criticizing and blaspheming with no fear of Hashem or their neighbor.

    It would be a great first step to begin by simply not posting the rantings of the disillusioned. They will tire of typing if their comments will not appear.

  10. Wolfish, YOu are missing my point, i was trying to say that anything posted on the net or spoken by a known or unknown person on the st. has no relevence in Halucha,

    Hence any quote from any so called Gadol or Yeshiva or a rav, means nothing to me, even if it makes a different in Halucha, as BLOGS or other postings are meaningless, unless you hear it from that rav or Gadol himself, even if you do hear it, you still have the right to disagree or prove them wrong. its not Halucha Lemoshe Misinai.

  11. and just who are you mr. mishkin to decide who has or doesn’t have da’as Torah? keep your holier than thou idiocy to yourself please. remember that you are a website. hippocrite. Anyway, we all know who really built Blue Claws Stadium (or at least those of us who actually live in Lakewood)

  12. As a baal teshuva, one of the most difficult things for me to wrap my head around was the idea that my opinion didn’t matter. Having grown up in the do-your-own-thing secualr world where “everyone is entitled to their opinion,” it was, for quite a while, very hard for me to obediently defer to those whose knowledge and wisdom was far gretaer than mine.

    I am flabbergasted that allegedly frum yidden, even those that are FFB, feel free to question, criticize and even MOCK our rabbonim, our roshei yeshivos, our gedolim as though they knew better.

    The fact is that our rabbonim, our roshei yeshiva, our gedolim ARE far wiser, far more knowledgable than ANYONE here and as Torah yidden we MUST defer to their wisdom and show them the respect that they deserve. To mock a Torah scholar is a TERRIBLE aveirah and should not be tolerated by ANYONE and I would encourage Matzav to block any such posts and, if necessary, totally block anyone who is a “repeat offender.”

  13. Thank You !!! While I am a modern orthodox Jew, I just can’t seem to wrap my mind around the “free for all” presenting itself on “Frum Websites”. Where is the AUTOMATIC respect that is always accorded a Gadol B’Torah? You cannot disagree with his psack, you can only ask YOUR Rov if it is applicable to you. There is no other appropriate response

  14. its not worth getting excited about this guy Shmuel Miskin & his ranting, as he is not the posek Hador, thogh i am sure he would love to be that big posek that people would wait in line to hear his wisdom.

    I never get excited about anything. i do what i understad to be right as i have to use the wisdom that Hashem gave me, so i am only responsible for myslef & not anybody else &amp.

    my fathers wisdom is not bad either if i have to ask him as he is from prewar europe.

  15. R’ Elya Svei zt”l was very against letting the Blue Claws into the town in the first place. So what to do about a new sakkanah that was brought into their midst? Simple, expel all siblings of anybody who attends the games.
    (Regardless of R’ Elya’s opposition, someone who learns in BMG must be submissive to their Roshei Yeshiva, i.e. the BMG Roshei Yeshiva. I find it disturbing when someone learning in BMG itself has multiple criticisms of their Rebbbeim.)

  16. “I am not trying to limit healthy discussion and give-and-take.”

    You certainly are. You have made up your mind in advance and really don’t care to discuss this issue, only to discuss the legitimacy of raising it. The rabbonim have spoken, and that’s the end of the discussion.

    Please be intellectually honest here.

  17. The article is 100% right in its point.
    In general the owners of blogs have to be very careful what articles and comments they post. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean permission to be mevaze talmidei chachomim [even if the author thinks he has some valid point to make]. The Torah has guidelines what is permissible and no blog has the authority to over step the bounds.

  18. There is a very simple way for sites that wish to remain ‘Frum’ to do so, and that is to close down all comment sections. By just posting news articles and editorials Matzav could remain ‘The Online Voice of Torah Jewry.’

    This would also largely solve the problems brought up in the recent Kol Koreh against chareidi websites.
    People who still want to gossip and slander will still find plenty of places on the web to do so.

  19. gasp! The Blue Claws consulted RES if they can come to Lakewood, and he was very against letting the Blue Claws into the town in the first place
    And still they came to Lakewood.

  20. R’ Shmuel – Kudos Kudos Kudos – I admire you for raising your voice against the blatant disrespect & for daring to say the absolute obvious. Even the comments to your points, not only were they not well taken, they even continue to show complete disregard for Rabbonim.

    Thank you for your breath of clean air Matzav Rant points.

    These obnoxious people show disrespect to other peoples sorrow & tradegdies too, just shows what type of people we’re dealing with here.

    Kol Tuv & Be Gebencht !!!!!!

  21. An excellent article and the right approach and I agree that this article should be glued onto every blogsite.

    Suggestion: Articles mentioning daas Torah should not allow comments. All other articles can have comments.

    The Torah has guidelines.

    Freedom of Speech cannot be taken face value for Jews. The Torah restricts speaking lashon hara, rechilus, nivul peh, embarrassing publicly, mevazeh talmidei chachamim, etc. Some of these offenses are severely punished min Hashamayim, as mentioned by Chaz”l.

    The Bagatz, the so-called high-court in Israel, also feel they have the authority to be above everyone and everything and they may judge and rule even halachic cases although it’s clearly against daas Torah, degrading Rabbis, national security matters, etc.

  22. This article clearly makes the point i always made. “If someone wants to discuss the shidduch crisis, the high school work crisis, the parnassah crisis, or any other crisis, then, by all means, go ahead.” But to share opinions about what gedolim have said and whether the gedolim are right – should not be permitted ever in a public forum.

  23. Excuse me but the writer doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Daas Torah does not mean infalibility. That is totally against the torah. How is it possible that in Halacha we have a machlokes between two Poskim? In addition, today we see a new phenomenon, “Askonim” who bring certain things to Poskim and a psak is issued.
    Today it seems we are more interested in chatzonius and chumra leads the day instead of Halacha. Real Daas Torah means you follow the rule of one Rov. Not that one cannot question. That my friend is Lehavdil the catholic church not our mesora.

  24. why are you bringing up the blueclaws? this can only cause contraversy.The letter threatened to throw out kids from the schools even if their siblings went to the blueclaws games.

  25. The bottom line here is that we should respect _everyone._ If we start out being disrespectful of the people in our every-day lives sooner or later it spreads – to political figures, community figures, and finally to our gedolim. You start out by being rude to the bus driver and end by saying motzei shem ra on a Rav.

    That said, it shouldn’t be off-limits to comment on the words and actions of public figures, even Gedolim, especially since, given the diversity of our community (ies), your Gadol is not necessarily my Gadol, and they may disagree, particularly if one is in E”Y and the other is in the US. But when we disagree, we must do it with respect, AND NOT WITH THE CAPS LOCK ON! 🙂

    In addition, we must always be aware of Loshon Hara. Quoting people and mosdos by name is not usually permissible. Personally, I find it very enlightening to read the opinions of thoughtful posters. The other kind we could probably do without.

  26. You are definitely on the dot here. I have made it a point (together with many of my friends) not to visit any sites that are mevazeh rabbonim and gedolim.

  27. After reading the article and the comments I could not agree more. Just one question- Why was I singled out as the anti Daas Torah. Kish Ka means no harm and no disrespect just sharing some of my feelings in public. I applaud for the opportunity of free speech and I thank the author of this letter for the publicity!

  28. There is nothing wrong with questioning the opinion of a Gadol. Of course, it must be done with respect and should contain sound reasoning. Gedolim are human, and perhaps if sound reasoning for an opposing view were brought to their attention, they would change their opinion. When we read of a Psak by a Gadol or a rav, if he is not your rav and Posek, you are under no obligation to follow that Psak. Even he would admit that. The only ones bound by the Psak is his “Kehila” and/or the individual who asked the Shaala for a Psak. It is well known that Reb Moshe Paskened differently to different individuals for essentially the same Shaala.
    Matzav would be doing a disservice by eliminating the comments section as it is now, for each and every article. Matzav already screens all the comments for inappropriate material, and that is the way it should be. But Matzav should not stifle varying opinions.

  29. By the way, what ever happened to the Psak from the Gadol Hador Harav Eliashiv Shlita, regarding the knesset being a house of Meenus “Worship” and is therefore osur to be entered. He also continued on the tape saying that No one has a right top be a Knesset member. Swept under the rug?

  30. It’s a real chaval that no one has the power to stand up and do something to any blog that reserves the right to let comments run freely regardless of the personal bashing of people by name – a Rosh Yeshiva, Rov, Posek, choshuver Baal Habus, community Askin, Twp official,Moisad, and believe it or not even top notch tzedakas and/or Chessed org.
    It’s due time to stand up and demand better.

  31. I would like to mention that I think it is true talent the way Matzav knows how to appropriately put things in a politically correct manner. Keep up the great work and don’t be discouraged!! Our family loves your site!

  32. I agree the comments sections should be shut down entirely. The leading frum blogs try to give enough of a balanced reporting—we don’t need to hear everyone’s opinions.

  33. There is nothing wrong with disagreeeing with a psak, no matter who it came from. Halachah is created afer serious intellectual discussion and debate, and after a psak is made, the debate continues. Each side must defend its position continually. If you don’t think this is true, then you haven’t ever learned halachah properly.

  34. How sad that we live in a generation that such obvious items have to be spoken about – and yet there are still so many, nebach, that don’t understand. Thank You, Matzav for upholding such important standards. I too as others mentioned above have made it my business to avoid sites that don’t abide by these standards.
    A message to those who question the infallibility of Gedolim etc: Who are you to judge their infallibility. Even if they can make a mistake are you the one that will judge them? I guess that makes you the Godol then, no?
    The Torah teaches us that a Godol’s psak is Hashem’s rotzon. See Minchas Chinuch on the mitzva of Lo Sosor (yes, even hin this generation – among literally hundreds of sources). Until you are on their stature you have no business arguing with them publicly. Do you do that to your doctor as well? I assume you do not because you have respect for his knowledge and you recognize that you simply don’t have the knowledge that he has. If common decency requires this for a Doctor, how much more so are we required to respect our Gedolim!

  35. Denial of the truth which is Hashem’s imprint is worse than any other sin for it leeds to the most severe sin that causes all sins disregard of Hashem and his True Torah and Being truthful like our forefather Yakov. Many of you blogging are against people with thinking minds and creative thought, that is why there is such an abundance in youth going off the derech due to the present system banning these youths feelings, emotions and God given intellect and talents. If you the bloggers and people cannot accept them; these beautiful Jews then why try to feign holiness in the name of righteousness. God knows the heart of man and He also knows the thoughts. These bloggers actions are not God forbid to show disrespect to the Great Chachamim rather they are lost and have nobody on God’s side to stand up for them. Well I have

  36. Defending the kovod of Gedolim is the right thing, and yaasher koyach to Matzav for doing that. But your example of the Blue Claws is not accurate for a number of reasons, not to be delineated here.
    R’ Giftert said Klal Yisroel “shmeck Gedolim”. Every Talmud Chochom should be treated with Kovod, but not everyone is a Gadol.

  37. For the talmidim of BMG they should not be going to the games. They should be learning and growing as yirei shamoyim. Their are alot of dangers out there and we have to be very careful with our children.

    In terms of disagreeing with a gadol there is nothing wrong with trying to shlug up your Rebbe or to question his psak as long as you do it respectfully and go in with the understanding that whatever the outcome is you will follow the decision. We are not other religions where we follow our clergy blindly. We are supposed to question eeverthing.

    MY Rosh Hayeshiva Zt’l loved it when we argued with him in hashkafah. It was because of these discussions I have a clearer understanding of how I am supposed to live (and I never was able to change his opinion it was always the other way around).

  38. , ;;; and we have lay people – with apparently very little Torah hashkafa and their opinions on whether the given p’sak is right or wrong;;; AND IF YOUR NOT A LAY MAN YOU HAVE A RIGHT ITS ABOUT TIME WE LISTEN TO A RABBI AND ACCEPT WHAT THEY SAY

  39. If you the bloggers and people can accept such shtus then why try to feign holiness in the name of righteousness. Hashem knows the heart of man and He also knows the thoughts. These bloggers actions show disrespect to the Great Chachamim; they are lost souls.

  40. There is MAJOR difference between arguing with a Rov directly, and (a layman) disagreeing with a Rov in public. The first is 100% mutar whilst the latter is 100% assur.

  41. I wish to protest the vicious anti-Israel
    bigots who TRY to use this site to spread their hatred. Such individuals base their warped
    ideologies on extremists
    whose views have been discredited.

    I call upon all Jews to denounce
    the use of the internet to denigrate the
    State Of Israel. At this time, Israel needs
    our support and prayers. Opposition
    to Israel has no place here.

  42. Unfortunately Kavod HaTorah and Kavod for God’s Creation Is not existent on the internet, perhaps that will teach me a lesson not to post again. Sincerely Yours,
    Daniel Akiva Orbach, Rehovot Israel
    Wishing you bloggers and authors all well.

  43. The ranting about kavod hagdolim and listening to their psak no matter what, is absurd. You’re all here on the internet and you know full well that the gedolim have assured it, period, including chareidi sites.

    The excuses are many. Oh, he’s not MY Rav. Oh, THAT issur is only for Eretz Yisroel. Oh, THAT godol is fed misinformation by the askonim. Oh, I have a FILTER on my computer. Oh, I NEED it for parnassah.
    You can’t have it both ways. You yell emes, but all that comes out is sheker.

  44. I’m curious if Shmuel Miskin actually sent a personal reply to he email he received or simply hope that the writer of the email reads Matzav?

  45. This writer reflects the opinions of only a small narrow-minded band of people who don’t have the ability to think for themselves.
    So Shmuel Miskin I hope you learn to broaden your perspective and not anoint every rosh mosad with the attributes of son’ei botzah and general immunity against influence.

  46. Reb Shmuel Miskin,

    You speak for the silent majority (as Ronald Reagan aptly would put it.)

    You speak for Bnei Torah; both the Bnei Torah laymen who work for a living and the Bnei Torah in Yeshiva.

    You speak for all of us who utilize our G-d given intelligence.

    You speak for Klal Yisroel.

    Yasher Koach

  47. As a People who pride ourselves (sometimes undeservedly) on being intellectually sharper than others, suppposedly due to honing our wits on gemara, etc., it’s funny how so many among us can’t distinguish between simple nuances. To wit: there’s a big difference between disrepecting and ‘bashing’ gedolim or rabbonim—and politely posing a question or even a dissenting view. (Some folks may believe even the latter is assur—but there’s nevertheless an important difference.)

    This was not a case of someone being disrespectful, merely someone posing a question & expressing an opinion. Clearly, to this writer, that alone represents an act of rish’us, and that’s his prerogative, but that’s a chidush of modern times, not Toras Moshe m’Sinai

  48. I find it kind of interesting that almost every single person that comments on this news website are in fact anonymous – how many people would post under their real names – you can go ahead and google me I’m actually real, but most of the people saying that Matzav should not allow anonymous comments are anonymous.