A Mountain Of Controversy

Dear Editor,

My daughter just returned from New York and brought with her the 5TJT dated August 9, with the second of two recent interviews with MK Moshe Feiglin.

Why must you write, “Editor’s note: The 5TJT is not advocating going onto Har HaBayit, which according to most poskim is absolutely forbidden”? Since when have you fallen into the trap that only chareidi rabbis are poskim? Do you know that hundreds of poskim in the Religious Zionist camp rule that going to Har HaBayit is permitted?

The problem, however, is that you have accepted the fact that only the yeshivish world has real poskim and that poskim with knitted kippot are jokers. You ignore the Torah taught by those who not only learn but also fight for the land–by legitimizing an unofficial claim that poskim only live in Bnei Brak or Meah Shearim or earn semichah only from Lakewood, Chofetz Chaim, or the Mir.

Sorry but “most poskim” do not say what you claim. However, allow me to tell you what most poskim do say–and that is violated every day by thousands of their own followers. Those same poskim rule that smoking is 100% forbidden, but most yeshivot are filled with smoke. Those same poskim rule that Shabbat elevators are 100% forbidden, but how many people follow that? I wonder what those poskim would rule if they were asked about spending Pesach next door to Mickey Mouse every year! Interesting how that “she’eilah” is never asked.

Back to the topic of the Har HaBayit: A rabbi in the Five Towns wrote an article in your paper which stated that Moshe Feiglin (although he didn’t mention his name) is bringing about the death of Jews by going up to Har HaBayit! In his article “Wisdom, Arrogance and Mesorah” (May 10, 2013), Rabbi Aryeh Zev Ginzberg wrote: “When a religious Jew in Eretz Yisrael with his own vision of what Eretz Yisrael should look like chooses to go onto Har HaBayit repeatedly in front of the eyes of the world, he is not only violating an issur kareis . . . but also presents a great danger to Jews throughout Eretz Yisrael who may become victims of Arab terror as a backlash or response to such activity.”

How can Rabbi Ginzberg make such a horrible claim?

Jews who go to Har HaBayit–following the p’sak halachah of over 1,000 rabbanim, including Rav Moshe Tendler, son-in-law of Rav Moshe Feinstein–bring danger to Jews who become victims of Arab terror?

Note: Even the famous “kol koreh” which Rav Kook issued 60 years ago (and mentioned in Rav Ginzberg’s article) was revoked by his most illustrious talmidim after information not available to Rav Kook in his day was brought to light. I will gladly show you an intense 100-page sefer dealing with this subject.

But back to his article: We are the cause of buses blowing up? We are the reason for the death of over 1,000 Jews since Shimon Peres started his “rest in peace” process? And allow me to quote the remainder of Rabbi Ginzberg’s paragraph: “During the last personal visit that President Shimon Peres made to the home of Maran Rav Elyashiv, zt’l, before he became ill, the one thing that the rav asked of Mr. Peres was to please not allow Jews to go to the Har HaBayit and put Yidden in danger throughout Eretz Yisrael.”

Maran Rav Elyashiv had Shimon Peres over for a visit? The man who is directly responsible for Jewish blood flowing like Niagara Falls? The man who personally gave over 50,000 weapons to the Arabs–who then used those very same guns to kill Jews . . . and Rav Elyashiv asked this corrupt, self-hating Jew to save Yidden?

My dear friend, I think you have things very confused.

Trust me, we are fighting for Am Yisrael night and day and do not move a muscle without the guidance of major rabbanim. What you should have said was that there is a difference of opinion on the issue of Har HaBayit and that everyone should follow their rav for proper guidance and direction. To say that most poskim forbid it or to publish articles that going to Har HaBayit leads to the death of Jews is irresponsible and factually incorrect, and only fans the flame of sinat chinam.

Shmuel Sackett,

Manhigut Yehudit

The 5TJT Responds

Dear Mr. Sackett,

Thank you for your response to our editor’s note in the August 9 edition. Other than the editor’s note you mentioned, we hope you enjoyed the paper that your daughter brought back to Eretz Yisrael. Please note, in general, that a PDF edition is available at 5tjt.com each Thursday morning, containing a replica of the entire print edition of the paper. Getting back to your response, we will attempt to address each of your points, one by one.

1. Please be assured that no one here has fallen into the trap of thinking that only chareidi rabbis are poskim. Rav Ovadiah Yoseph rules that Hallel should be recited on Yom HaAtzmaut, which according to most pundits would put him outside the chareidi camp. Yet he rules quite clearly (Yechave Daas 1:25 and Yabia Omer 5:27) that it is absolutely forbidden to enter any area of Har HaBayit. He also quite clearly uses the expression of most poskim asher mipihem anu chayim rule in this manner.

2. We are, in fact, unaware that there are hundreds of poskim that rule that one may go to Har HaBayit. We are aware that there may be hundreds of people who rely on this, but bone fide poskim that anyone heard of holding this position are few and far between. The Chardal world, many of whose poskim we are quite familiar with, is also against the notion of going up to Har HaBayit unless it is strictly for pikuach nefesh purposes. When they do allow it, they rely on the best available knowledge as to what areas are not as risky. But challilah to say that most poskim, chareidi or Chardal, allow it in general.

3. Challilah to say or imply that poskim with knitted yarmulkes are “jokers,” and no one has ever said that in this paper. No matter what the yarmulke, one must respect their Torah learning, whether it is of the author of Sefer Cheivel Nachalaso (a knitted-yarmulke wearer), a chareidi poseik, or a Satmar poseik. Torah should not be defined by politics.

4. No one is ignoring any Torah taught by anyone. This paper gives a forum to many different viewpoints, as you well know.

5. Yes, most poskim do say what we claim. Rav Kook never went on Har HaBayit and he ruled against it. Rav Ovadiah ruled against it. The overwhelming majority of chief rabbis of Israel never went on Har HaBayit.

6. Smoking has very little to do with the Feiglin interview or the issue of going up to Har HaBayit, but we agree with the idea that smoking must be eliminated. It is an issue of addiction, however, whereas Har HaBayit entry is an intellectual discussion. As far as Shabbos elevators go, it is our understanding that Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach permitted it and Rav Elyashiv forbade it. There are some who are lenient, especially when it comes to hospitals, but most are in fact stringent. What this has to do with the discussion, however, is not clear.

7. It is also unclear what the article has to do with families that spend Pesach next door to Mickey Mouse every year. We are generally in agreement with you that we should all strive for greater ruchniyus. However, we must all learn to be tolerant of the gashmiyus needs of others. Rav Yisroel Salanter once said that one’s ruchniyus should be to worry about other people’s gashmiyus. We may not understand it completely, but some families do need time together to bond. If Mickey Mouse helps them do this, and if it is a wholesome, kosher environment, then it is not something that should be derided.

8. Although we have great respect for Rav Moshe Tendler, it should be known that although he is a great expert in Jewish bioethics, he has not been well known in the area of p’sak halachah. Neither his father-in-law, zt’l, nor his brothers-in-law would share this position on going up to Har HaBayit.

9. The attack on Rav Elyashiv’s view is completely unwarranted. We must be careful to always remember the dictum of “divrei chachamim b’nachas nishmayim.” You may wish to disagree with Rav Elyashiv, zt’l, but please do not let discussion take a disrespectful tone, especially toward the gadol ha’dor. As far as Rabbi Ginzberg’s views are concerned, his opinions and comments are his own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the 5TJT. It should be noted, however, that going up to Har HaBayit is a very serious issue that has significant spiritual ramifications. We will thus allow him to respond to your letter himself.

10. As far as Shimon Peres is concerned, while we might not agree with where he stands religiously or politically, please be aware that he is uniquely and personally responsible for the State of Israel having nuclear capabilities. Imagine where we would all be if Hashem did not allow Shimon Peres to be the shaliach of this particular accomplishment. We must have hakaras ha’tov to everyone, and even when we discuss people with whom we disagree, it should be done in respectful tones.

11. Everyone thinks that others who disagree with them “have things very confused.” You suggest that we should have said “that there is a difference of opinion on the issue of Har HaBayit and that everyone should follow their rav for proper guidance and direction.” Yet there are limits to being politically correct. We believe that our assessment of “most poskim” is correct, and just because there is a different view out there does not mean that we must state that everything is a debate.


Five Towns Jewish Times

Insurance Scams

Your article “Geico vs. Progressive” (Heard in the Bagel Store, August 16) was especially interesting to me. I had a similar incident three years ago but with a different outcome. I live in Flatbush and was driving down a one-way street about 10 p.m. one night. I stopped at the stop sign and inched my way out to make a right turn onto the avenue. I saw the headlights of an oncoming car and stopped. The car, however, skimmed my front bumper, causing damage (my car was a new 2010; theirs was a 1990 banged-up car).

The police and ambulance were there in a flash. There were four occupants in their car, and three requested to go to the hospital (one had to drive their car away and couldn’t go to the hospital). One of the EMTs was a little annoyed that she had to take them in the ambulance, but the senior one said they had no choice if that was their request. They had Geico I had another insurance company. First they tried suing me, but that never materialized. Geico investigated the incident, sent down an examiner to interview me and inspect the car, and ended up paying me for about 75% of the damage. They also told me that these individuals were being investigated for fraud (not the first time they were involved in an accident). The worst part is that since there was a police report, it ends up on your license for a three-year period and it affects your insurance premiums.

Good luck with your claim.

Mendy Zwick

Agudah Responds

To New NJ Law

Agudath Israel of America issued the following statement this week in reaction to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s signing of a bill that will prohibit therapists and counselors from treating minors seeking to overcome same-sex attraction:

We are deeply disappointed and saddened that the State of New Jersey now prohibits therapists from treating minors who have made a personal choice to seek help overcoming same-sex attraction. The new law tramples on the rights of mental-health therapists to engage freely in their profession, and it unfairly denies teenagers seeking therapy for issues that are troubling them the ability to obtain professional help.

Under the new law, therapists, social workers, or counselors who work with minors on these issues risk losing their licenses to practice their professions, and minors who sincerely want to obtain professional help will have nowhere to turn. This is an unconscionable infringement on personal liberty and a trampling of personal rights, including religious and free-speech rights.

Agudath Israel views this threat to civil and religious liberties with great alarm. We believe that the new law, like a similar one in California that has been challenged in court and whose implementation is currently blocked, is constitutionally suspect. We will study the New Jersey law carefully and consult with mental-health professionals in our community, as we consider all appropriate options.


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