Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Two Dinim In Brisk - The Medinah

It is well known that there are two branches of the Soloveitchik family. There is the Israeli branch which is super-charedi, characterized by their high level of Talmudic scholarship, devotion to the Rambam, thick bushy peyos behind their ears, tremendous dikduk in halacha and really interesting chumros. 

Then there is the American branch [some moved to Israel]. They are considered more modern, worldly, are/were university educated - and no thick bushy peyos [although, in the Rav Lichtenstienien Gush/Brisk world - thick sideburns]. But are also great lamdanim [with a heavy stress on the Rambam] and have no small number of crazy Brisker chumros [and I say that with great admiration:-)]. 

One could say that there are "two dinim in Brisk" - Brisk Nusach America and Brisk Nusach Eretz Yisrael.

The are other common denominators. One is the passion for knowledge and Torah. Another is IQ's that go through the roof. "Soloveitchik" is synonymous with "genius".  

I am not deciding who is better [if one branch IS better] - just classifying. As Briskers love to do....:-)

In a FAMOUS hesped of his uncle, The Brisker Rov Rav Yitzchak Ze'ev, of the Israeli Branch, Rav Yoseph Dov, of the American branch talks about his uncle's attitude to Zionism. It was that he was AGAINST the Medinah, it was just that he found no category for it in halacha - and therefore it didn't exist for him. For the quintessential "Halachic Man" - EVERYTHING in reality must find expression in halacha. The Medinah, in Rav Yitzchak Ze'ev's weltanschauung [put that word in the spelling bee!], didn't meet this requirement.

Here is the passage:

 I find this assertion wondrous to say the least [תימה גדולה!!]. There are countless anecdotes about comments of the Brisker Rov where he talks about the Medinah in terms that make the comments that [li-havdil] Trump makes about his opponents pale in comparison [except that he never said that Medinas Yisrael was "low energy"]. He felt that the Medinah was pure evil. His hashkafa was only SLIGHTLY more moderate than the Satmar approach. He doesn't go so far as to say that "the Satan did it" but besides that - identical. To this day, the Brisker yeshivos don't take a penny from the "treife Medinah". If you want to read about how sharply he was opposed - it is documented in many places. See especially the sefer עובדות והנהגות לבית בריסק in the chapters on השחתת הציונות and המאבק במדינה. So to present his opinion in such moderation is - לעניות דעתי - inaccurate. Maybe someone out there will explain Rav Y"D's words as to make them more palatable. 

Here is one gem:

And, derech agav, here is one in the "הרואה את הנולד" category. 

The lesson is - Some people are super-duper gung ho about the Medinah. The viewpoint of an undisputed gadol bi-yisrael like the Brisker Rov could sober one up a bit to see the other side of the coin.

As for me - I am a nobody and follow my Rabbeim on the matter.