May 21, 2009

Believing what you hear in the name of Rav Elyashiv

This Letter to the Editor appeared in the Yated Ne'eman this week.

The letter describes a video being shown around in public areas, including Lag B'Omer in Meron, of Rav Elyashiv being asked by askanim about wigs being an acceptable method of hair covering or not.

The video itself was shocking, as it showed the pushy methods used to get Rav Elyashiv to say what they want to hear and to respond to what they want to discuss, no matter how many times he showed his lack of interest in making an issue of something.

Even worse, as the letter describes, is they then edited the video to only show a distorted picture of what Rav Elyashiv said. Rav Elyashiv said that in general sheitels are muttar, but certain types (too long, etc) are not because they are not tzanua. He spent some time talking about the "unkosher" wigs.
They took the video and cut out the part of Rav Elyashiv saying that wigs are muttar, and only left the part where talks about wigs not being tzniyus and therefore assur.

So not only can you not believe what you hear in the name of Rav Elyashiv, you now cannot believe even what you see Rav Elyashiv say, unless you are present when he says it, live.

Another example of this is regarding Kosher cell phones. the askanim got the blessing of the gedoilim, including Rav Elyashiv, to make kosher cell phones and require those int he haredi community to only use these phones. These phones have only phone calls enabled, with internet and sms access blocked.

This week, the rav of a neighborhood in Bnei Brak penned a letter claiming that Rav Elyashiv never said sms is prohibited. He spoke with Rav Elyashiv recently on the issue a number of times, and Rav Elyashiv was concerned with the content being clean of nivvul peh and disgusting topics. The only thing he instructed the committee dealing with it to work on was to ensure the cleanliness of the medium.

He further confirmed, in the name of Rav Elyashiv, that sms is fine, broadcasting news is fine, and all sorts of other methods of communicating (does not say internet access) with cell phones are all fine, and the committee is not to get involve din the content, or the medium, and their only job is to ensure that the broadcasts are clean (mostly problems with advertising).

So, this is another example of Rav Elyashiv's words being taken out of context and distorted.

Unless of course this rav cannot be trusted, as he is saying something int he name of Rav Elyashiv and perhaps he too is distorting his words....


  1. For the record, I will say again what I have said several times before: I heard, from the mouth of Rav Moshe Shternbuch, that most of the pashkevilim that go up bearing his name, he never even sees before they go up.

    Unless, of course you don't trust me that I really heard him say that... ;)

  2. I posted the video on my website:

  3. So now it is time to carry your argument to its logical conclusion: which is, if this happens in the days of digital recording and despite our abilites to verify statements, than how accurate is the information we think we have about what Rabbis in the past said.

    How many decision throughout the ages are just versions of this issue?

  4. This is truly a revelation for you? Most charedi "psak" these days has little or nothing to do with actual halacha (ask Mr. Slifkin about that). It's purely politics and control. This is what blows my mind when people think they are being so frum when they only follow R' Elyashiv's psak. They aren't following his psak- they're following the psak of the controlling askanim who got the answer they wanted.

  5. Commenter Abbi said...

    (ask Mr. Slifkin about that)

    That's Rabbi Slifkin.

  6. If only they would make Jerusalem Day a mitzvah for observant Jews to celebrate, they'd be getting somewhere. Every thing comes from G-d. If people haven't learned by now He runs the show, they have learned nothing.

  7. B"H

    Interesting post.

    Remember the Rav Eliashiv poster wars during the recent Jerusalem elections?

    He said this. No, he said this.

    And, what about all the times a psaq ishi magically turned into a psaq klalli?

    What is he, or someone on his staff, going to do about it?

  8. And let's remember that these distortions are not limited to Rav Elyashev.

    Just over a year ago a local tzedaka organization plastered a poster quoting Rav Chaim Kanievsky as saying that RBSA residents should give to them. They then had to use kesef tzibuur to print a clarification of what Rav Chaim really said.

    It is quite ironic that instead of our gedolim "shaping"and influencing us it seems that some of us are bent on shaping and influencing them.


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