Sunday, June 26, 2005

Yated Ne’eman Finally Weighs In On Sanhedrin

Another landmark development in the Sanhedrin saga. Yated Ne’eman, a key charedi paper, has finally weighed in with their opinion. In what doesn’t seem like very much of a surprise to anyone they are clearly not fans of the Sanhedrin. Nevertheless, it was still a front page (below the fold) story – and a very lengthy piece by Rabbi Yirmiyohu Kaganoff. This indicates the charedi world finally felt there was a need to publicly address this issue. Previously they seemed to be taking the approach of "don’t dignify it with a response."

That said, the fascinating, well written piece, explores the Sanhedrin from a halachic and historical perspective. While Rabbi Kaganoff presents the opinion that a Sanhedrin can not be established until moshiach comes as correct, and that the Rambam’s ruling on reinstating semicha is not final, there are opinions on both sides of these issues. Not least of which is Rav Yosef Karo, who "in his commentary, the Beis Yosef (Choshen mishpat 295) he records as definitive halacha the Rambam's opinion that semicha can be renewed." Rav Yosef Karo was also part of the Mahari Beirav's attempt to reinstate the Sanhedrin in his time – an attempt that failed due to objections from other prominent halachic authorities, most notably the Mahralbach, as the article explains in detail.

Those objections are used as the first objection to today’s Sanhedrin.
Another objection was that even given that the Mahari Beirav position is the accepted opinion, the procedure used last October was unacceptable.
Another objection was that the members of today’s Sanhedrin are unqualified.
Another objection was that if it could be done the "gedolei Yisroel" would do it.

What remains to be seen however is whether or not Rav Elyashiv, shlita, or Rav Yosef, shlita will ever weigh in and raise objections... and another question that remains unanswered is why haven't any gedolim anywhere raised any formal objections in writing or otherwise, to the current developments? As we see from the fact that the Yated felt it was necessary to publish this article "don’t dignify it with a response" is not an acceptable position. This is a very serious issue and if there are halachic problems with it, it is incumbent upon the "gedolei Yisroel" to speak up and object just as the Mahralbach did.

I have some further thoughts on this subject that I'll b"n try to share in a later blog. I'll also try b"n to see if I could get the whole Yated article up – but as is still under construction it is not a simple matter of linking or cut-and-pasting.

In the meantime here are the last few paragraphs of the article:

Based on what I have seen about this “Sanhedrin,” I pose the following questions to the reader:

Are the members of this “Sanhedrin” qualified to make decisions that affect Klal Yisroel? Are they qualified to make any halachic decisions at all? Is this not an attempt to replace the halachic decisions of gedolei Yisroel and the gedolei haposkim? Are these the people who should be determining Klal Yisroel’s agenda? Doesn’t this organization cheapen the kedusha that the word Sanhedrin implies? Isn’t this organization and insult to anyone with Torah sensitivities?

The gedolei Yisroel could organize a Sanhedrin today if they considered it halachically acceptable. Clearly they are of the opinion that the halachic foundation for such a move does not exist or, alternatively that Klal Yisroel will not benefit from its creation.

We should all daven with more kavanah when reciting the bracha Hoshiva shofteinu k’varishonah, “Return our judges like the ones we had originally,” as a result of T’ka b’shofar gadol licheiruseinu, “Blow the Great Shofar that will free us.”


Blogger DevoraChaya said...

We just saw in last week's parsha how the "gedolei hador" can go so seriously wrong.

Seeing what is becoming of Israel as a result of abdicating the job to the Israeli government and High Court makes me think somebody had better take responsibility for Jewish life here. To sit by in a self-imposed ghetto and let fellow Jews go literally to hell is completely unacceptble in my book (some call it Torah).

The troubles we see today are already a result of "gedolei hador" who nay-sayyed the re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty in EY. They were fighting a losing battle then and they're fighting a losing battle now.

Whoever said "nature abhors a vacuum" knew a thing or two. If the 'gedolei hador" won't take up the burden, others will gladly do it, qualified or not. Until now, we've been suffering under the rule of the G-d-less chilonim. B"H that ANYone dedicated to Torah values cares to try to correct this atrocity.

If the "gedolei hador" think they can do a better job, I suggest they get to it without delay. The Am is sick of "waiting for Mashiach" to do it all.

1:00 PM  
Blogger Pinchas said...


Excellent points!

1:06 PM  
Anonymous elisheva said...

I have read the material on The Sanhedrin, and have forwarded it to them for comment or response.
From what I have learned, it seems that folks are projecting something negative onto the silence. Had there been a big problem, you would have seen an uproar. Still is no uproar.
Also consider that you must obey them.
Do try and think a little more on how you write about this issue.
And thanks for taking it up to look at. Thanks, in faith, Elisheva

5:27 AM  
Blogger DevoraChaya said...

Elisheva, since we have been without smicha for centuries, there is no obligation to "obey" every rabbi set up as a "gadol hador." It is only a recognized Sanhedrin that we are obligated to obey. That's point number one.

Point number two is that when two "gadols" take opposite sides on an issue, we have to choose between them. We have sources which tell us some of the Erev Rav have arisen to positions of power and respect among Am Yisrael.

Korach would likely also have been considered a gadol hador, but those who chose to follow his lead followed him to destruction.

No, I disagree. It is only the rulings of our highest court (a recognized Sanhedrin) which we are obligated to obey and the p'sak din of our own personal Rav whom we have consulted because of our trust in his own Torah knowledge, not everyone or anyone who has gained some standing in his own community of followers.

7:27 AM  
Blogger Jerry said...

This subject has interested me since I first read about a new Sanhedrin a few months ago. Here, in chutz-l'aretz it's awful difficult to find much information. Arutz 7 newsletters don't say much. Until now I had the impression that G'dolei HaDor were behind the setting up of the Sanhedrin. Well, I guess the present article and your comments have disabused me of that notion.

I am in no position to be critical of any talmid Torah - Gadol haDor or Katan haDor. I have been content to agree with my Chareidi friends that in any dispute the opinion of G'dol HaDor is the one to go with.

Now I am a little shocked to see suggestions that the G'dol HaDor could be wrong. And I am happy to see these suggestions coming from someone who is Yarei Shamaim ... because I, too, have had serious doubts. (Last October, a friend of mine told me that the G'dolim were saying that American Jews should vote for Bush. To this day, I cannot fathom their reasoning. Maybe they saw him as more apt to fail in his anti-Israel policy than his opponent?)

Anyway to the point at hand, DevorahChaya says, "It is only the rulings of our highest court (a recognized Sanhedrin) which we are obligated to obey and the p'sak din of our own personal Rav whom we have consulted because of our trust in his own Torah knowledge."

This raises some problems of who the Sanhedrin is recognized by. But if we have a personal Rav whom we trust, then we don't really need to rely on a Sanhedrin for a halachic ruling. (Am I going off-base here?)

Anyway, the issue for me was temporarily resolved when Arutz 7 listed some of the Rabbanim who are members of the Sanhedrin. I do not have a personal Rav whom I consult. But I have had teachers in the past. There on the list of Rabbonim considered top contenders for the presidency of the Sanhedrin was the name of one of my teachers, who has written hundreds of books on Halakha. I would add that he was (and still is) a Rav at a Chareidi Yeshiva in Yerushalaim. It is doubtful to me that he would take a position on a Sanhedrin if the G'dolei HaDor were against instituting a Sanhedrin.

We live in exciting times. I fervently dream of returning to EY soon. There is now a Great Sanhedrin. I hope that it is found to be kosher enough so that all Yarei Shamaim can see fit to celebrate, and not argue.

Looking at things from the outside -- and many thanks to you bloggers who provide an inside view -- by appearances, we are losing the battle for our homeland - specifically, at this time, Gaza and Yehuda-Shomron, because Jews are so divided. Not religious versus secular - but religious versus religious. It looks like the Chareidim are not well represented in this battle because of their differences with the Mizrachistim. As I understand, the Great Sanhedrin represents many different shades of Orhodox Judaism. I think we would do well to allow the Great Sanhedrin to lead us in our fight against Hellenization rather than any specific sect. This does not deny the rightful respect due the G'dolei HaDor. It does give us an alternative to the Knesset (which has become a puppet of the non-Jewish world.) I better stop here.

Shalom v'Ahava from Chutz-l'Aretz,

P.S. Another thing of interest that I don't see brought up anywhere: In a recent article I read that an archaeologist (a Noachide gentile) has been given permission by noted kabbalists to find the aron haKodesh. He said then that he was scheduling the actual finding for Tisha B'Av. Anyone hear anything about this?

5:12 PM  

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