An Interview with Rabbi Hershel Schachter

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14 Responses

  1. Dsher999 says:

    This is a sad interview because it presents things as so cut and dry when they simply are not. You can quote all the acharonim you like to say that Rambam meant x, y or z but frankly the Rambam wrote his opinion in plain Hebrew and it can be taken at face value. The Rambam was as precise a person as ever walked the earth and if on such weighty matters as this he did not simply say “kabbalas ol mitsvos is me’akkev” then he did not mean to say it. Sorry.

    • Avi says:

      Actually the rambam appears to contradict himself in many places, and it takes someone who knows the sources to be able to resolve these apparent contradictions.
      Actually the Rambam himself disagrees with your assessment that you are as qualified as Rav Shachter to interpret Rabbinic literature including his. Rav Schachter understands a Rambam at least as well as you – why do you think he quotes acknowledged leaders of the generation?
      So sorry, you cannot dismiss Jewish Halachik tradition with a wave of your hand.

    • Elli Fischer says:

      Perhaps you should ask Rav Schachter to study the relevant passages in the Rambam with him, and then you can convince him that your reading of the Rambam is better than his.

      • Danny says:

        Rav Elli, this comment doesn't do you justice. You are fully aware that the acharonim often interpret the Rambam in ways that differ from a convincing “peshat” reading (as in this case). So does that mean we are forbidden to read the Rambam with open eyes?

        Are we chasidim of Rav Schachter, forbidden to read the Rambam differently than he does following some of those acharonim?

        I've had the opportunity to read that Rambam with world-class talmidei chachamim who agree that the most reasonable “peshat” reading agrees with Rav Uzziel's approach.

        Rav Schachter's hubris regarding Rav Druckman is inexcusable.

        Chag Sameakh.

  2. Danny says:

    I am frankly horrified that Rav Schachter was viewed as a legitimate “compromise” despite the views he expresses in this interview. I'm particularly disgusted by his comments about Rav Druckman (uvemakom sheyesh hillul hashem ein holkin kavod larav). As anyone who lives in Israel knows, Rav Druckman certainly doesn't need Rav Schachter's blessing. How could Rav Schachter publish such a thing before Yom Kippur?

    The RCA has done a tremendous disservice to gerut ever since the Rabbanut escapade. Eventually, God willing, there will be alternatives.

  3. Dati US oleh says:

    In orach hayim issues it is customary in Ashkenazi circles to follow the Mishna Brura. Freuqetly the Aruch Hashulhan will differ in opinion, lekula, from the MB. This is a reflection of the AH's grasp of reality as a community rov. The MB was a talmid chochom, but his concept of community, practice, reality, etc. were not as in tune with gzeirot which could be upheld by the tzibur. In the case of conversion here, there are great social implications for the future of the Jewish people. It is possible that former cheif rabbi Uzziel's psak (as well as Rav Drukman's) are a reflection reality, of course constrained by halacha, that (with all due respect) Rav Schachter does not grasp (as he is self admitedly not a pulpit or community rabbi).

    • Elli Fischer says:

      Rav Druckman is a rosh yeshiva (and politician). Why would you think that he's less constrained than Rav Schachter? Rav Schachter's position is similar to those of Rav Herzog, Rav Ovadia, and Rav Amar – they didn't grasp the complex reality that you apparently do? I'm a dati US oleh, too, but I was a community rabbi in the US and was involved in gerut on several occasions, and I'm glad that Rav Schachter has taken the line that he has. Perhaps he's not the one who “doesn't grasp reality.”

      • Danny says:

        No Elli. Rav Herzog's position is different than that shared by Rav Ovadia and Rav Amar. Rav Schachter's is similar to the former. Rav Ovadia and Rav Amar are on Rav Druckman's side.

        Read Rav Amsalem's “Zera Yisrael” before you write with such certainty about what the Rambam or later poskim say and mean.

  4. Elli Fischer says:

    A breath of fresh air. Thanks for posting this.
    The degree to which the Rav Uzziel/ Rav Druckman position is being cast as a “mainstream” position in MO/DL circles is strange and frankly problematic.
    It's also fascinating that when R. Schechter talks about “universal standards,” he does not even relate to issues of curriculum and frumkeit of the dayyanim, rather to the technical process. This is itself an implicit recognition of what the Beit Yosef says about the process, namely, that individual dayyanim have discretion when it comes to evaluating sincerity of commitment and curriculum.

  5. Yschwartz says:

    Could someone please shed light on the Ivanka Trump geirus? Did Rav Schachter Shlit”a sit on the Bais Din to convert her? If the Rav Shlit”a actually did convert Ivanka Trump, how is that consistent with the halachic position that he formulates in this interview?

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