Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Life After R' Moshe

I've often heard that part of the reason that MO isn't what is used to be was that after the Rav ZTL passed away in 1993, nobody replaced him. And in fact, nobody could replace him. Don't get me wrong - there are many huge talmidei chachamim who are roshei yeshiva in YU - but the Rav was on such a high level and had such a presence that nobody has been able to fill his shoes.

I was speculating that perhaps one can say the same in terms of psak with regard to R' Moshe. Although there were other great poskim in New York during his lifetime, such as R' Moshe Bick and R' Tuvia Goldstein, R' Moshe was world-renowned and considered the premier posek for Jews in the United States (I can't stand how so many rabbeim just call it "America," but that's for another time). While we don't follow all of his shitos (e.g., recorded music and summer school), and while the Satmars weren't a big fan of his, he was certainly a leader for much of Orthodox Jewry.

What got me thinking about this was the article about Kolko in New York magazine, which quoted R' Pinchas Scheinberg. The whole thing bothered me. Why ask him? What about all the gedolim in America?

Another thing that got me thinking was a comment on another blog, which basically said that it's amazing how everyone followed R' Elyashiv's psak when it came to Indian wigs, but nobody listens to him when it comes to shaving. If we did, every man in Brooklyn would have a scraggly beard. And college would be as assur as chazer.

Face it. There's no preeminent posek in the US anymore. You have some big talmidei chachamim out there like R' Belsky and R' Dovid Cohen, but they don't have nearly as big a following as R' Moshe did.

And the fact that we've gone to Eretz Yisrael for piskei halacha - what's up with that? Many of those gedolim aren't familiar with our culture, which can play a role in many piskei halacha. (Of course, it's likely not a big deal to follow R' Shlomo Zalman's piskei halacha about davening. But other major issues?) Part of it is likely due to the fact that there's no universally respected posek here anymore. The closest you'll get to that is R' Elyashiv. And the rightward shift in Orthodox Judaism - probably the biggest factor here.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if this whole going to the EY gedolim is a chassidishization of the litvish. Some sects had/have rebbes there, and would take their word as torah misinai, so perhaps that carried over into the flakewood world...

10:37 AM  
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3:14 PM  

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