Moetzes Ends Siyum App

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The following statement was released by Agudas Yisroel of America:

Leaders of Agudath Israel of America were recently contacted by a number of Roshei Yeshiva, Mechanchim and Rabbanim from across America who expressed concerns about the “Siyum App” introduced by the Agudah in conjunction with the upcoming 13th Global Siyum HaShas of Daf Yomi.

The original intent behind the Siyum App was להגדיל תורה ולהאדירה: to encourage and facilitate Torah learning among the broad hamon am by making Daf Yomi shiurim and other forms of limud haTorah easily accessible to the masses. The Siyum App was never intended to encourage those who do not have “smartphones” to start using them; it was meant for those who already do use smartphones, and who now would have an opportunity to use the App to start or increase their own kvias itim la’Torah. In this respect, the Siyum App was designed with similar goals as were the several other special learning initiatives developed in advance of the upcoming Siyum HaShas – for example, Chavrei HaSiyum and Masmidei HaSiyum, which have already resulted in a major increase in limud haTorah among young and old alike, and which will be’H continue to do so in the months leading up to the Siyum and beyond.

Despite these good intentions, as news of Agudas Yisroel’s sponsorship of the Siyum App spread, we received communications from a number of respected Roshei Yeshiva, Mechanchim and Rabbanim that the Siyum App was undermining the message they were trying to convey to their talmidim and baalebatim discouraging smartphone usage whenever possible. They pointed out that Agudas Yisroel’s sponsorship of an app, even one designed to promote limud haTorah, conveys the misimpression that the Agudah and the Gedolei Torah who stand at its helm view smartphone usage as a “l’chatchila” for all segments of the Torah community. This, they argued, was inconsistent with – and harmful to – their efforts to discourage such usage within their kehilos and yeshivos.

We brought these concerns to the attention of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of America. The chavrei ha’Moetzes agreed that the concerns were well taken. They acknowledged that many people may need to use smartphones for business or other necessary purposes, presumably with appropriate filters, and that there already exist several apps that promote limud haTorah. Nonetheless, they felt, an organization like Agudas Yisroel – whose hallmark has always been uncompromising fealty to da’as Torah and the highest Torah standards – must avoid taking any steps that could be misinterpreted as encouraging those who do not need smartphones to start using them.

Accordingly, at the direction of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, Agudas Yisroel has withdrawn the Siyum App. We apologize for any inconvenience or misunderstanding.

Looking forward to joining with you this coming ד’ טבת, January 1st, dancing together at the Siyum Hashas לכבוד התורה ולומדיה ולקדש שם שמים!

35 COMMENTS

    • How is listening to the advice of our leaders suffering. Unless, giving up some personal enjoyment, moments of entertainment, for the sake of the future of Klal Yisroel, the next generation, is calked suffering. And this letter is NOT asking anyone for additional filters or to throw out their smartphones. It is about the message the organization, run by the advice of these very same Roshei Yeshivah, would be giving the very same individuals whom they were organized to protect.

  1. the Cheif Rabbi of Kovno Rav Shapiro was approached by the heads of Slabodka Yeshiva to put an end to future concerts that featured a Cantor and had mixed interactions between the genders.(the concerts were meant to keep jews “withen the fold”)

    “The Kover Rav listened quietly, and then firmly rejected the Yeshiva’s objection. ‘You are responsible only for your yeshiva,’ he asserted. ‘I am responsible for the spiritual welfare of all of the Jews of Kovno.’ The concerts, he declared, would continue.”

      • “The pre-war Jewish community of Kovno (Kaunas, today) Lithuania was divided into different components, divided by the Neris River. On the one side was the general community, which was made up of every type of contemporary Jewish religious and cultural population. Indeed, the community was a bit notorious for a lackadaisical form of religiosity. On the other side of the Williampol bridge, was the famous Slabodka Yeshiva, a flagship of the Mussar Movement. As might be expected, relations between the two sectors were often tense. There was a saying attributed to the Alter of Slabodka, R. Nosson Zvi Finkel זצ”ל, that the bridge from Kovno to Slabodko only went one way.
        Coping with the myriad of challenges, modernization and secularization in Kovna was its illustrious rabbi, R. Avraham Dov-Bear Kahana-Shapira זצוק”ל, author of the classic collection of responsa and Talmudic essays דבר אברהם, and known more popularly as the ‘Kovner Rov.’. One central concern of his was the alienation of young Kovner Jews from the synagogue. Thus, when the administration of the Choral Synagogue came to him with an intriguing approach to the problem, he jumped at it.
        The idea was to have the synagogue’s cantor, the internationally renowned tenor Misha Alexandrovich, offer public concerts that would feature classical חזנות alongside renditions of serene Italian bel canto compositions. The hope was that this type of cultural evening would draw modernizing youg Jewish men and women to the synagogue, where they would socialize and (perhaps) find mates.
        The first concert was a smashing success and more were planned. Everyone was thrilled, except for the heads of the Slabodka Yeshiva. They turned angrily to the Kovner Rov and demanded that he intervene to stop the concerts. They were indecent, the Rashe Yeshiva objected. The led to fraternization between men and women, and in the synagogue. Worse still, they might corrupt yeshiva students.

        The Kover Rav listened quietly, and then firmly rejected the Yeshiva’s objection. ‘You are responsible only for your yeshiva,’ he asserted. ‘I am responsible for the spiritual welfare of all of the Jews of Kovno.’ The concerts, he declared, would continue. ”

        11:06
        according to Rabbi Jeffrey r woolf he heard it from a somebody who was there.

        • It is not a contradiction. Here, the same Roshei Yeshiva are the Gedolim who have been charged with the welfare both Reb Yisroel and Klal Yisroel. This IS the organization that is concerned with “the welfare of all Jews in Kovna (and in New York, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, LA, Houston, Dallas, Minneapolis, Atlanta Savannah, Teaneck, Passaic, Monsey, Lakewood, Toms River, Jackson, Louisville, Nashville, Memphis, Miami, etc.).

    • That is why we have gedolim -i.e. Moetzes gedolei hatorah to guide us and pasken in every situation and it’s not for us to question…

    • Oy vey! Maybe we shouldn’t have massive siyumim in stadiums or arenas because someone might actually decide to go to a football, hockey, or basketball game?

    • Hmm, assuming this is true, who has the power today to be responsible for the spiritual welfare of all Jews using Smartphones?

      • This is NOT about taking responsibility for all Jews who use smartphones. This is about taking responsibility for the Agudah and for what it stands.

          • Perhaps they consulted. Perhaps they did not. Perhaps there was a misunderstanding. Perhaps a change of circumstances or of heart. Makes no difference. We have every right and obligation to assume the best case scenario and try to understand, of course through open communication and the regular “shakla vi’tarya” that Torah Judaism not only allows, but encourages.

    • Precisely. And the Moetzes, acting as the Einei Ha’Eidah for what is supposed to be the Agudah Achas of Klal Yisroel, not as Roshei Yeshiva of their Yeshivos, acted outvof their collective responsibility for all the Jews of the Agudah.

  2. The WhatsApp group was very nice. I was on it. I think the problem was, that everyone can see everyone else on the list including the picture that comes up by their name/number. I always look out of curiosity. It could be some of them weren’t so appropriate. Not that anything was so bad, but it’s more of a private thing. So I could see the tznius angle, perhaps.

  3. I have never written a reply before, but I had to tell hmm. that I do not know the last time you learned a Sugya Biyun.
    What is the Shaychus between the story in Kovno (or Slabodka, which were right near each other, with a bridge in between), and an Agudas Yisroel Siyum app?
    The Kovner Rav (according to the story written by hmmm.), said that he was not going to stop a concert which had a Toeles for the Rabbim.
    Was there a big banner by the concert saying Bnsius the Kovner Rav?
    In our case, did the Moetzes say that they would come out against anyone who creates an app with Siyum details?
    They said that it cannot be an Agudas Yisroel app, because that sends the wrong message.
    Harbe Hatzlacha!!!!

      • “why do people have to be inconvenienced because yeshivas students arent following rules?”

        Inconvenienced? Adhering to the advice of our leaders, yes even when it may be to some counter-intuitive or very difficult, is an inconvenience? Are you serious? With all due respect, maybe you didn’t use the right word, or maybe you didn’t think this through, but doesn’t sound Torah’dik.

  4. Very silly. Get with the program. You have to live with the times and utilize technology to spread kedusha. 90 percent of frum Jews in america have smartphones. That’s where people are. If the agudah can’t reach them there, they will be seen as completely out of touch, outdated, and old-fashioned and people will look elsewhere.

      • That sums it up perfectly. Lo shinam es shmam. The Torah is shmosav shel HKB”H. It should not and cannot be changed. Certainly not in the name of this is where we are.

    • I think, and I mean no disrespect, that you may not understand the role of the unelected, yet universally accepted leaders of the Agudah. If, someone is aligned with a world view where Torah changes based on where everyone is at, and that the leaders need to get with the program, a world view where scientific proof is on the same footing as the Torah narrative or as a statement of CHaZa”L, that’s his/her world view. It is NOT, and traditionally HAS NOT been the view of the Torah community. The latter accepted/accepts the guidance of their leaders, secure in their knowledge that the Torah of these Einei Ha’Eidah expresses the Ratzon HaShem. This is not really an issue of eilu v’eilu, because one camp is turning, at least partially, to outside sources (non-Torah) sources for their information and relying on their own far more limited knowledge of the Torah and ultimately the world.

      • 8:32
        and yet you ignore the innovation of beis yakovs. the same beis yakovs the agudah (the one from europe) approved and supported. why because the chofetz chaim saw the merit. (I think also the belzer and gerrer rebbes also approved of beis yakovs)

        • @8:32 – and yet you ignore the innovation of beis yakovs. the same beis yakovs the agudah (the one from europe) approved and supported. why because the chofetz chaim saw the merit. (I think also the belzer and gerrer rebbes also approved of beis yakovs)”

          Precisely. Innovations spearheaded or approved / encouraged by the Gedolim are fine, even if only a hora’ah sha’a (such as Rav Schwabb ztzvk”l held was the case with Torah im Derech Etetz), are fine. That does not mean all innovations are “kosher” by default.

    • And the reason we cannot eat bassar chazir is because of trichinosis, so get with the program and just cook the meat well and kill the worm. And the reason we cannot eat meat and milk is because it was thought to be unhealthy. Get with the program and have your cheese burger. And the reason we can’t even out our sideburns is because the monks did that. Not true anymore, so get with the program and get a mushroom haircut. And the reason we cannot make a fire on Shabbos is because it entailed such hard work. Not anymore. Get with the program and turn on those lights. Too complicated. I have an easier solution / approach.

      The Torah and its chachomim – in every generation – are our guides. Just get with the program and stay on course.

  5. To feivish. hmms point is that each rav paskenns for his own community and based on the needs and makeup of their own community. Since we have been in golus and dispersed to arba kanfos Haaretz, this is how it has worked. There is no sanhedrin today and , no, the moetzes is not the equivalent of sanhedrein. Today, each community goes to it’s own rav who knows his own kehilla’s needs, and understands their backgrounds, to pasken for their own kehilla. This is what horaah is all about nowadays, in galus. Anybody can easily say “asur!!” It takes a true manhig and posek who knows his own community’s needs and pakens for his own community And yes, a different rav for a different community may very well pasken differently, and BOTH can be correct for their individual communities. For thousands of yets, there has never been one posed paskening for all of klal yisrael. That is simply not how horaah works today.

  6. so does agudah only care about bochrim? are they gonna collect funds from bochrim only? maybe agudah should rename themselves agudas bochrim!

  7. @Hmm, “assuming this is true, who has the power today to be responsible for the spiritual welfare of all Jews using Smartphones?”

    Moshe v’Aharon b’Kohanav, u’Shmuel b’korei shmo. At the foundation of emunas chachomim is the knowledge that each dor is provided for with the chachomim, the Einei Ha’Eidah, they need.

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