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7.28.2006

DAAS TORAH-----infallible? 2


The problem is simply that people have no idea what Emunas Chachamim is, what Daas Torah is, what the role of a Godol is, what a Psak Din means, etc.

We have battle cries and clich├ęs and sound bites but the average sound biter has no clue what it is exactly that he or she is saying.

The equation is simple: If simple and fundamental issues, such as why we believe in our religion, why Hashem cares if we are frum, and things like that are so unknown to the public, that they have to hire outside organizations such as Project Chazon to come in to our Yeshivas and Bais Yaakovs and teach it - and there are only a handful of people who indeed can teach it - then more complex and advanced issues such as the role, authority and scope of a Psak of Gedolei Yisroel are surely not properly understood.

This issue is not limited to just this topic: outside organizations are called in to schools when r"l tragedies occur and the students - and teachers! - have trouble dealing with it from a Hashkafa point of view. The issue is not rocket science - they do not have to hire the Rambam to do this job; merely people who, because it is their job, make it their business to educate themselves in this Hashkafa.

And I tell you, what I tell so many people who ask me what to say or how to react when things like this, or when physical tragedies, or other rattling experiences happen:

Don't wait for the problems to happen before you start learning what the Torah has to say about the matter. By then, if it is not too late, its late enough - emotions and negiyusin and personal interests arise, and it becomes the worst time for objectivity and education.

Teaching people how to deal after something like this happens constitutes damage control. The proper way to do it is to know how to react form the beginning so that when this happens nobody will be traumatized or disillusioned.

Here's what I have told numerous people, including one Rosh Yeshiva, who told me they were disillusioned because of this whole shaitel mess:

You can't be disillusioned unless you were under illusions to begin with. So the way to prevent yourself from being disillusioned is to make sure you are not "illusioned" in the first place.

Rabbeinu Tam writes in Sefer Hayashar that you should prepare for tragedy in your life by learning how to react to it before it happens, so that by the time it strikes r"l, you will be prepared.


Rabbeinu Tam's context is life tragedies r"l, but the concept is true regarding all traumatic experiences, including disillusionment with Torah authority. Again: You can’t be disillusioned if you had no illusions to begin with.

But unfortunately, the hamon am, due to their lack of proper Torah knowledge, is not prepared for things like this (not that a godol getting tricked is anything to be flustered about).

The solution to this problem is simply for people to learn Torah: Barasi Yetzer Horah barasi Torah tavlin. Often, that dictum works on a mystical level; here, however, it is a simple issue of knowing the proper Torah Hashkafa so that the Yetzer Horah cannot trick you into thinking that something unnerving has happened.


I know this may seem too obvious, but we still have the highest respect for Yitzchak Avinu, though he made a mistake about Esav, and tried to act upon it.

Our gedolim are entitled to be misinformed through other people, without losing their status as tzaddikim and Torah authorities.

Yaakov Avinu, also, did not know the truth about Yosef for a long time. And Elisha Hanavi said about the son of the Shunamis, "Hashem He'elim Mimeni," "Hashem hid it from me."


Posted - 10 June 2004 11:52




Your examples with Yitzchok and Yaakov are right on the mark.

And the example of Elisha was used by the Ben Ish Chai and the Satmar Rav to prove that Gedolim can indeed be misinformed - I quoted them both above.

I just wish that people would internalize what they learn in school and apply these lessons in real life.


ArtScroll is not the issue here. This issue is not infallibility, for nobody "fell."

This issue, does not touch upon sages missing a Gemora - a "neelam mimenu".

Here we are talking about simple physical facts that the Gedolim themselves:

(a) don’t even claim are necessarily true, as opposed to a psak where they hold the halachah to be as they see it, so nobody is being chozer from anything really - remember our focus: the spoon was really milchig! That’s not a chazara form a teshuva. Its a chazara from a shailah, and the Godol wasn’t the one who made the shailah,

(b) if were to ask these people, "DO you believe that Yitzchok avinu was fooled into thinking that Esav was someone he really wasn’t?" they would say "Of course, every school kid knows that"

and "Do you believe that Elisha the prophet did not know the facts about the shumanis's son?" they will say, "Of course! We all believe that! It’s in the Navi!"

- so now if you ask them "Do you believe that Rav Elyashev was presented a shailah with the wrong facts?" they will say "No! Emunas chachamim!"

The issue is not that people think Gedolmi are infallible. They don’t think so - they admit it. The issue here is that they don’t think at all!

It’s an emotional-psychological for them. It's "safe" for them to say that Yitzchok avinu or yaakov avinu or Elisha were uninformed, because that doesn’t make them vulnerable.

But when you tell them that a Godol of their generation was uninformed, they feel unsafe, vulnerable to tricksters who can present things to Gedolim in manners other than reality, and so how do they know when they follow what is reported in the Yated in the name of Godol so-and-so, that that is really what the godol thinks?

In other words, if we cant blindly rely on Gedolim being private investigators and one-man FBI forces who are omniscient regarding all the things that they are being told, then perhaps many of the things we are hearing from Gedolim are not really what those Gedolim hold, or would hold, if they would be properly informed?

Well, welcome to the world of Pnei Hador kepenei hakelev - it means, in short, that the people will be fooling and manipulating Gedolim like this - you can call it "godol abuse" if you want - and it does happen.

And Chazal say it is a major symptom of Ikvesa d'meshicha.

I’m not saying it happens all the time or even every day, or even that you have to suspect everything you hear form a Godol. Of course you don’t. The onus is on the one who says that someone - anyone - lied. BUT - if you happen to KNOW that a Godol was given the wrong facts, then there is nothing at all to freak out about. It happens.

And our poskim - as I quoted above form the Ben Ish Chai - say that it happens. And if they say so, I think we should have real emunas chachamim and believe them.

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