The Matzav Shmoooze: The Gedolim Are Not Our PR Department


pashkevil-smallDear Editor,

Allow me to share with you something that has been bothering me greatly regarding many of the responses and analogies that I have read online. Many are attempting to pinpoint what must be done to still the rough waters of the storm brewing in this war of Jewish passion.

Many seem to be of the opinion that it is incumbent of our gedolim to condemn and set straight the record on the unruliness and acts violence being perpetrated in the name of kanaus in order to minimize the chillul Hashem resulting from them.

What’s bothering me is: what compels so many to conclude that the gedolim and rabbonim are the PR department of Klal Yisroel? Those who usually involve themselves with PR have already made statements. These include Aryeh Deri and others in Eretz Yisroel, as well as the Agudah, the OU, the RCA and others in the US.

To me it would seem that it would be the cause of considerable embarrassment to our community if the gedolim where needed to condemn a group of radical misguided individuals. Obviously it may come to a point where there will be no choice and unfortunately they will have to make such a statement. But we should leave it to them decide if and when that time is. That’s one of the many reasons most of us are not gedolim. We don’t have the ability to make such decisions.

Too many of us seem to lack understanding of what gedolim are. Too many of us assume that the gedolim are meant to be there at our disposal as some sort of service to us. That’s not what our tzaddikim are. We must trust them to know what’s best for us and stop judging them based on our own petty whims, such as claiming, “They are scared of the Sekrikim” and other such petty cheshbonos.

The gedolim are of many leagues above us. They are not bound by our silly considerations. Rather, they are far above what we assume them to be. It would behoove us to educate ourselves as to what tzaddikim are. Perhaps we need to read more of the great biographies written about the lives of the great sages of yesteryear. Perhaps that would bring us to grasp at least a small amount of what our manhigim are.

Let us leave the job of leading Klal Yisroel in this dark golus to those who have the chachma and clarity to do so.

Thank you.

Aron Reiets


The Matzav Shmoooze is a regular feature on that allows all readers to share a thought or analysis, long or short, one sentence or several paragraphs long, on any topic, for readers to mull over and comment on. Email submissions to

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  1. You may be correct in theory, but the world we live in is different.

    We read the ‘newspaper of the Gedolei Yisroel’. We vote for the party of the Gedolei Yisroel. We use the names of Gedolim to back us up on any controversial decision or organization that we choose to be invovled in.

    We can’t have it both ways. If we quote the Gedolim on everything, we can’t suddenly be silent on one issue.

  2. Well, if you speak to people and read comments you’ll see that a lot of people are very confused about what the right Hashkafa should be

    It is sad that some people can never think, and can’t recognize simple right and wrong on their own, but that’s the generation we live in…

  3. First, I appreciate both the reasoned tone and the actual name signed to the letter. However, there is a very simple reason that the Gedolim should speak out: the crazies all claim to be acting on Daas Torah

    In other words, it has a direct impact on others who try to follow Daas Torah.

    It has nothing to do with reasoning or marketing. Instead, it’s about people who improperly use the Torah and Gedolim for their own nefarious reasons.

  4. You are right – Gedolim are not our PR department. But the monster that confronts us is not the bad PR image we are getting. The much more frightening problem is the fact that people who are, supposedly, raised in the Torah environment can behave in the total antithesis to Torah values.

  5. And it is not for us to decide when they should speak out.

    About time we start having proper kavod for our Torah leaders. We are not gedolim.

  6. The Gedolim are quiet because they know better than to believe the fabricated reports against charedim from Haaretz and other secular media or secular Jews who have no chezkat kashrut and to condemn G-d fearing charedim and religous Jews because of that. Only those like Aryeh Deri and other politicians who are out to appease the secular would feel the need to get involved.

  7. Very well said and written!

    Our Gedolim are here to teach us Torah and how to live our life. Anyone who seeks to learn from them, certainly behaves in a most beautiful fashion of “ashrei rabbo shelimdo Torah”. Occupying themselves to play the game of politics is not who they are – nor who they should be.

    Thank you

  8. While i agree that our Gedolim are not required to convene press conferences every time some moron does something, at times they HAVE spoken out against what they held required action (R’Shach zt”l, rally in America in support of the Brisker Rav, etc.) Not that it is up to us to determine what warrants their attention, but to say that our Gedolim should lock themselves in the Beis Medrash and ignore the world outside is just as presumptuous.

  9. The Gedolim are not responsible for PR and they certainly dont have to apologize for Hareidim. Their audience should not have to be the outside world but I think it is natural to expect the Gedolim to address their own constituency on something which seems so emotional and important to everyone involved. One thing that is clear from all the opinions expressed recently is there is some confusion/disagreement about what is proper behavior for b’nei torah. When is it proper to give tochacha and it what forms. What is the proper behavior on a bus, etc. And what is to be done about extreme behavior in the Hareidi world and how can it be rooted out. On top of that it is natural to expect some outpouring of tochacha/sadness over the events of the past few days and to give a sense of the pain it has caused our leaders. I think that would be useful and therapeutic to anyone looking up to the Gedolim for leadership.

  10. I would add that it is time we leave our gedolim to do what they do: learn Torah and serve Hashem, and stop bothering them they way we do

  11. The Yated Neeman constantly prints statements from the Gedolim condemning all sorts of unacceptable behavior, setting guidelines for Torah life, and clarifying daas Torah on current issues facing the chareidi community as a whole.

  12. Yes, the gedolim ARE our PR department, and have been since the days of the Second Beis Hamikdash. It was a gadol who went to the Roman general and asked for Yavneh, saving Torah for the coming generations. Throughout our time in exile it has been the gedolim who interceded with the government, local or national, to save the people from persecution and harm. Think back to the last century in Europe. Politicians are politicians, and their actions are influenced by the need to keep political power. Our gedolim are responsible only to the Torah. We can trust them, and the world knows it, too.

  13. When the leaders of the Chareidi communities are silent in the face of the violence perpetrated by extremist elements in their camps, people are confused. They misinterpret the silence to mean an admonition for them to remain silent, and they do.

  14. This post seems to disagree with the last Rashi on Dvarim 1:13. Am I wrong? It is possible that the author disagrees with the Rashi since our nusach of the Chumash is different..

  15. I am comforted that HRHG R’ Ovadiah Yosef SHLITA has been quick to make statements about all that we’ve seen and heard about in recent days.

  16. i think what the writer is trying to say is that it is not for us to question if the gedolim dont give a statmant they are gedolim for a reason and can decide on their own when they have to speak out and it is a lack of emunas chachamim and a chutzpa to berate them for not putting out a kol koreh and whoever thinks he knows better should check his gaava level and is just foolish

  17. The issue of klal yisroel’s relationship to it’s gedolim is a very broad one with a number of fundamental implications that must be discussed and dealt with.

    Over the past probably 20 years, it seems that there has become a popular obsession with “the gedolim”. Its always the gedolim this or the gedolim that. This is because faster communications and transport has allowed quicker access to people who a century ago could only have been accessed with extreme difficulty.

    Also, a serious misnomer has entered our way of life, which is “if I can find somebody bigger than you that disagrees with you, you are wrong”. This has become the common wisdom, even though nothing could be further from the truth. R. Moshe Feinstein in his hakdamah to Igros Moshe says clearly that every yid should consult his local rav and that his teshuvas are in essence a reference work. This mentality has resulted in an erosion of the authority of local rabbonim throughout klal yisroel with the result being rampant machlokess that we see in virtually all communities.

    This is compounded by the fact that very few if any of the gedolim have established mechanisms to ensure that questions they are asked have been asked honestly (including all relevent information) and that the answer that has been given is properly recorded and communicated. A simple example of this is that a few years ago a group of (right-wingers) in our community sought to open a new school. This of course is not in and of itself problematic at all. However what is problematic is that they managed to illicit a letter from a prominent gadol stating that they are doing a wonderful thing BECAUSE THERE IS NO CHINUCH IN ____ (emphasys added). This of course was not true on any level and one can only wonder what was said to the gadol in question in order to get him to write (or sign) what he did. At a later point the same group illicited a letter from another gadol stating that it is “HATZALOS NEFASHOS” for people to move their children to the new school. Again one can only wonder what was said to evoke such a letter. The point that must be made is that none of the senior rabbonim in our community were consulted at all on this subject. I suspect that most communities in klal yisroel have experienced similar episodes.

    It is clear that we need the gedolim. But more importantly we need the gedolim to be in a position to lead us effectively, which the above concerns show is being undermined.

    I think in order to improve the situation for everybody, the following measures should be taken:

    1. Questions should only be sent to the gedolim on a referal basis, being only matters which affect the klal or individual sheilos that are so intricate that they require a gadol’s attention. In short stam yid cannot go ask a basic personal sheiloh to Rav Shteinman for the yichus of having asked a gadol the question when his local rav can answer it and refer it if required.
    2. The above measure will decrease the gedolim’s workload dramatically and as such will give them the time to write a detailed teshuva on all halachik subjects they are asked on. Also, the question as it was asked must be recorded with the teshuva. This is critical if we are to maintain the integrity of this era’s part of our mesorah.
    3. All statements from the gedolim that are for public consumption must be recorded in writing and must be published in a central publication that is secure and that will ensure that the yid in the street (as it were) knows what the gedolim actually say and not what is suits this one or that one (based on their own agendas) for the gedolim to have said.
    4. People found to be lying in the name of the gedolim are to be severely censured. Imagine what would happen if someone faked a court order from a secular court, they would be locked-up!

    With Hashems help we should be zocher to shalom between one another.

  18. i think its pretty simple
    the gedolim speak out 1) to our people who follow them. 2) or against something done by others if thers a reasonable chance it will stop them.
    But in this case, these people are not adherents to many of the people we call gedolim, & they wont be stopped by a proclamation against their doings.