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Thursday, March 15, 2007

My rebbe is not the "Golden Calf"!

In "To not know", Yeshivat Chovevei Torah graduate Rabbi Darren Kleinberg denegrated "daas Torah", and in affect every Orthodox rabbi past and present.

In the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix were a couple of responses to Rabbi Kleinberg:
In last week's Torah Study ("To not know," Jewish News, March 9), the author accused the Orthodox establishment of encouraging its members to submit to rabbinic authority on all decisions - of essentially demanding that they give up independent thought. That has not been my experience.

The institutions that I attended all placed a heavy emphasis on taking personal development and life decisions seriously. As part of that, we were given an appreciation for the opinions of those who were older, wiser and more righteous than we. But our teachers and counselors more often than not did not directly give opinions; rather, they brought up issues that perhaps the young student had not considered, and in that way not only guided a particular decision but helped mature our decision-making process. They sought to develop deliberate and well-grounded graduates.

Perhaps, looking from the outside, it appears as if this method of education strips the student of independence of thought; in reality, it endows wisdom. This stands in stark contrast to the conditioning of many of today's youth to resist the guidance of others because they believe it interferes with their freedom of choice; instead it leaves them uninformed and unable to relate to others' points of view.

Rabbi Raphael Landesman
Phoenix Community Kollel

Kudos to the Jewish News for correctly listing KiDMa and its rabbi as a new category of Judaism on your Area Congregations page.

In Rabbi Darren Kleinberg's last three Torah Study pieces in Jewish News, he has stated that Moses carelessly presided over the murder of the biblical blasphemer ("The blasphemy of injustice," May 12, 2006), that God is imperfect ("Reaching for perfection," Nov. 3, 2006), and that the Hafetz Haim's respect for rabbinic authority is a modern-day golden calf ("To not know," March 9).

These errant explanations are examples of a Judaism that cannot be found under the heading of classical Orthodox, Conservative, Reform or any other previously known label.

Leo Rozenberg
Here's the response I sent to the paper. They didn't publish it. Maybe they didn't like the word "vomit"?
In "To not know", Rabbi Darren Kleinberg references the Chofetz Chaim (an exceptional rabbi of the 20th century) to provide a definition for Daas Torah. Kleinberg distills the concept of Daas Torah to one myopic sentence: "The idea of Da'as Torah is that, for any given problem, there is a Torah answer." Rabbi Kleinberg then berates Daas Torah with snide embellished rhetoric, "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". Finally, Rabbi Kleinberg states that in the Daas Torah model of Judaism the "rabbi has become the golden calf".

To millions of Orthodox Jews, the Chofetz Chaim and countless other great rabbis (including Moses, Maimonides, etc.) throughout the ages, represent Daas Torah. The implication that those rabbis are the "Golden Calf" is the epitome of disrespect and apikorsus, and makes me want to vomit.

Related Links:
- The Haredim: A Defense

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