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Friday, March 09, 2007

Is your rebbe the "Golden Calf"?

Here is an excerpt of a dvar Torah (hot off the presses) on parshas Ki Tisa by Yeshivat Chovevei Torah musmach Rabbi Darren Kleinberg, titled "To not know":
One of the central ideological aspects of Orthodoxy has been the ideology of Da'as Torah. Da'as Torah is perhaps best defined in this statement attributed to Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan, the Hafetz Haim: "The person whose view (da'as) is the view of Torah (Da'as Torah) can solve all worldly problems, both specific and general. However, there is one condition attached. The Da'as Torah must be pure, without any interest of bias." The idea of Da'as Torah is that, for any given problem, there is a "Torah answer."

There is a political election taking place and you don't know who to vote for? Ask your rabbi.

You want to know where to give charity? Ask your rabbi.

You want to know who to marry? Ask your rabbi.

This is a model of Judaism that says, "We know." In this [Daas Torah] model of Judaism, that rabbi has become the golden calf.
Daas Torah can be best distilled in two words: Torah Authority. Daas Torah is the empowerment of Gedolim (exceptional Torah scholars including Moshe Rabbeinu, Rambam, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, etc.) with authoritative guidance because of their vast Torah knowledge which instills broad insight.

To millions of Torah Observant Jews, the Chofetz Chaim and countless other Gedolim throughout the ages, represent Daas Torah. The implication that those rabbis are the Egel Hazahav ("Golden Calf") is the epitome of disrespect and apikorsus (by being mevazeh talmidei chachamim).

I personally heard Rabbi Avi Weiss (dean of YCT) describe Rabbi Kleinberg as "brilliant in Tanach and Oral Law", "best of the best [of YCT graduates]", and a "pastoral genius". Those comments were said sometime after two other very controversial (to say the the least) divrei Torah by Rabbi Kleinberg. (Here are letters to the editor commenting on those divrei Torah: To stone or not to stone and Debating the nature of God)

I can only assume that now Rabbi Avi Weiss will compare Rabbi Kleinberg to Moshe Rabbeinu or declare Rabbi Kleinberg as Moshiach.

For a Torah discussion of Daas Torah, please see: Da'as Torah & Emunas Chachamim.

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