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May 21, 2012

Rav Shteinman's Bet Shemesh Speech Makes Waves

The news sites are quoting Rav Shteinman out of context from his speech last week in Bet Shemesh about the importance of Torah learning and whipping up a frenzy over a quote from within. Rav Shteinman did actually say what he is being quoted as having said, but I still felt that putting it back into context would do the statement a little bit of justice. I too was surprised when I read it, even in context, but I don't think it was meant the way it was quoted - that was not the point of what he was saying.

I am translating from a long text, so I might skip less interesting parts.. If I skip, it will be noted with a [...].

To preface it with one more thought, I found the point Rav Shteinman was making to be fairly clear, but once again Rav Shteinman said what he wanted to without saying it explicitly. He seems to prefer to leave his words with a bit of ambiguity, leaving it open to the listeners interpretation, to a certain extent.

And one more point, I find his point to be very strange. He seems to be thinking that the choices being considered are between either yeshiva [ketana] or public school with no torah learning. From his words, the way he encourages the learning of torah and sending boys to yeshiva, sounds, to me, like he thinks the other option is public school with no torah rather than a yeshiva with a little bit of secular studies (or limudei chochma, a term I like that was recently posted in the comments here)..

Anyways, here is the speech by Rav Shteinman. Mistakes in translation are mine alone:
Morai V'Rabosai. You know that Hashem created the world, as it says breishis bara elokim.. and Rashi says right there that it was created for the Torah that is called "reishis", and for the Jews who are called "reishis". This means that the entire purpose of the creation is only for torah and for the Jewish nation. And after that at the time of the giving of the torah  it says in the gemara that Hashem said if Israel will accept the torah, good, but if not there will be its burial place. Meaning, the entire creation was just for the Torah.
Really we see all the earlier generations until the giving of the torah, the generations that did not yet have the torah, were very not good. First of all in the 3rd generation of creation by Enosh they already began worshiping idols. Immediately! The third generation they already thought about idol worship!
Comes along the sea and wipes out a third of the world. Today the world isn't so big, a third is covered by the sea, only a small amount of dry land is left. People dont live in the sea, people live on dry land, and the dry land was minimized by a third. Why? because they sinned with idol worship. As well, all the generations after that, until the Flood came along and covered the entire world. There is an argument if the Flood was also in the land of Israel or not, but the rest of the world was wiped out - man, animals, and many inanimate objects. Everything was wiped out. Why? because they didnt behave the way Hashem wanted.
After the flood one could think everything is ok. No! Even after the flood there was Sodom and Gemorrah, Admah and Tzvoyim, and it says in Yechezkal that this was the sin of Sodom that they didnt support the poor. And for that Hashem overturned Sodom. We see all the generations were not good.
Until Avraham came along and changed things, first against the idols, all the getchkes - the idols, the entire world was full of idols, and Nimrod was the kind in that country commanded the throw Avraham into the furnace. The furnace was burning hot that even the people that wanted to throw him in got burned up even though they didnt go in. But Avraham lived, as Hashem did a miracle for him. And why was there a miracle?Because he gave himself up for Hashem, and even though Nimrod the wicked one commanded to throw him in the fire, hashem saved him. But the main thing is that he was the epitome of chessed- just like they did not support the poor, Avraham was the exact opposite and could not live without chessed. And after he was circumcised, at 99 years old he circumcised himself, on the third day after, Hashem did not want to bother him with guests...
[...]
The purpose of creation is for the torah! As long as there was no Torah, there were all sorts of no good things, until Avraham came. From Avraham began the spark of what began the Torah, Avraham then Yitzchak and Yaakov, Yosef and the Tribes. but without torah the world could not exist. And it was a great chessed that 26 generations until the torah was given, in the merit of chessed, because they waited for the torah. But without torah there is no world! So the purpose of the world, one must know, is the torah.
And today they say there are 8 billion people in the world. And what are they all? murderers and thieves, people without seichel .. but for whom is the purpose of the world? did Hashem create it for these murderers, for those evil people? Only for the tzadikim, those who learn torah, people who learn and keep torah. that is the purpose of the creation.
Hashem is satisfied with a little bit. Even put up against the 8 billion people is just a little bit of torah - first of all, only Jews learn torah, and even among the jews we have not merited that all the Jews will learn torah. But, baruch hashem there is a portion that learns torah, and fulfills the torah and Hashem is satisfied with that little bit. [...]
If so, a person needs to know if he wants to continue the generations he has to continue only through torah. Without torah, there is no continuation. God forbid, the countries with no torah, oy vavoy, the generations that assimilated with the gentiles, only torah survives and in that we have to strengthen ourselves.
I saw in the name of the Chafetz Chaim that he says, a person invests many years of his life to acquire a trade or position. Why does he do it for so many years? Because he wants to be able to support himself for his entire life. How long does a person live? 70, 80, 90 years. 100 years! Who already lives 100 years, maybe one or two or three people. Who lives so long? And that is it. and for that one has to give so many years in order to live, and without that it is impossible. If so, how much one must do for the everlasting (the torah)! A person does not need to live just 100 years.. he can live for eternity! The life of a person is not here in this world... in order to live everlasting life a person has to work his entire life to create the everlasting life, and what is the everlasting life? torah and mitzvos, and nothing else. From learning math and from geography one does not achieve everlasting life, only from torah and chessed. and that everyone needs to know.
The Chayei Adam writes in one of his books that when he was young the parents did not think about what the child would be later, from what he would earn his living. They only thought about the torah. So the Chayei Adam writes. And today everyone thinks about what will be, and thinks that only by learning other things will he later have parnassa, and without it there will not be parnassa, and how does the father himself have parnassa, even without having learned it? The answer is that Hashem gives everyone his sustenance, you just need a little bitachon.
Bu tone must know the main thing, for which bitachon does not help - to be a talmid chacham bitachon is irrelevant. One cannot just have bitachon and become a talmid chacham. If he does not learn torah, he will not be a talmid chacham. One who does not learn torah, will not do the mitzvos.  and if he does not learn torah, that is a destruction, a destruction of him and of the world! And for that we must try to achieve, to see all our kids, all our generations, to  bring the son in to learn torah, and then he will be happy. The fortune is not other things, only torah and chessed. Also chessed must be done, but torah is the main thing.
Hashem will help that everyone who wants to see nachas from his kids, will see them learn torah. without torah the son will be an ignoramus and he also wont get nachas from him! Even if he has money, is that the purpose? Money! can you take money to the grave? There is no such thing! What si there in the grave? torah, torah and mitzvos are there, and that is what a person must be concerned about. The main thing iif one wants to worry about his children that they should not have bad, he should see that they should learn torah and then he will have good... otherwise..
And with parnassa Hashem helps. Most of the time the richest people specifically are not people of such great education. Why? because that is not the main thing. It depends on Hashem supporting all His creations. The mian thing si that a Jew should learn torah...Klal Yisrael are connected to the roah. The gentiles have no connection to the torah. the nations of the world dont have anything, not security, not good deeds, and whatever klal yisrael has is only with the torah.
[...]






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25 comments:

  1. "And today they say there are 8 billion people in the world. And what are they all? murderers and thieves, people without seichel "

    Yep. Right. All of them. Except for the charedim, all those billions of people are murderers, thieves, and people without sechel.

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  2. that is exactly the part the media jumped on!

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  3. A member of humanityMay 21, 2012 3:41 PM

    "And today they say there are 8 billion people in the world. And what are they all? murderers and thieves, people without seichel .. "

    This is one of the most despicable things I've ever read.

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  4. Where is the original Hebrew transcript?

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    1. It was typed up by an organization and passed around in shuls on Shabbos. I have a copy.

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  5. that reminds me of a comment I saw in my kids paper from gan recently. It was talking about the holiness of our speech (based on something in the parsha, though I don't remember what right now) and it said the goyim don't have a machson in their speech and they lie and talk nivul peh and curse, but us Yehudim have machsom and we only talk b'kedusha.

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    1. This is not only a Charedi issue. It's a Chardal problem too - At least one of my children learned in science class at TT Moriah that there are several levels of life on Earth - inanimate, animals, humans, Jews - in science class, out of a textbook!!!!

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    2. Anonymous, what do you expect? Chardal educational institutions are just like Chareidi ones, but celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut...

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    3. Anonymous - the Kuzari says it. It's mainstream in that sense.

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    4. There are many ideas in Machshava that should be taught as Machshava, not as part of a science class. We can discuss what they mean on different levels. This is one of them

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  6. Ribbono Shel Olam - You can try to put that into context all you want but if חכמים היזהרו בדבריכם wasn't meant as a warning against saying things like that, I have no idea what it was meant for. This will be added to a long line of very unfortunate (to say the least) quotes that could be compiled from speeches by gedolim during my adulthood. And this is why so many people have a hard time equating Torah knowledge and even genuine tzidkus on the one hand with leadership abilities and sane analytical thinking on the other.

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  7. I will admit that even after reading it I have no idea what he said.

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  8. I'm tired of so-called "gedolim" promoting ignorance and bigotry. Why do such people deserve our respect? Just because they have an astounding command of Talmud?

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  9. Thanks for the translation Rafi, but the context does absolutely nothing to do justice to that horrifying quote.

    If I weren't already "frum" and I read something like that I'd run for the hills and never look back!

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  10. The comment is not that bad. He doesn't necessarily mean that they are all killers. What he means is that without the Torah, an objective morality, everyone is a bunch of "murderers and thieves, people without seichel." Torah is a compass, and without it people don't know which way is North.

    The whole argument is very utilitarian...

    "Because he wants to be able to support himself for his entire life. How long does a person live? 70, 80, 90 years. 100 years! Who already lives 100 years, maybe one or two or three people. Who lives so long? And that is it. and for that one has to give so many years in order to live, and without that it is impossible. If so, how much one must do for the everlasting (the torah)!"

    Do what will give yourself the most benefit, if you believe in the world to come and that the Torah is the path to that world, then why waste time doing other things.

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  11. I had the following conversation with a 6 year old on Shabbos (relative of an relative) I was eating yogurt and I offered him some, so he said he keeps Chalav Yisrael. So I said why, and he said you can't trust the goyim when they say that the milk is cow's milk. And I said, why not? It's the law. And he said but the goyim are tricky. And I was like, they are? And he said yes, they don't want the yidden to keep the Torah. I don't know where he got this from, but this is a from a family who's parents are professionals who is allowed to watch movies, etc. I just found this exchange mind boggling.

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  12. Agree with Josh S.
    Also, I think the statement has more truth than you Americans want to give him credit for. If you dont look at individuals, but as societies and communities as a whole - you will see that the Islam / Mid East, Europeans, Africans, Russians, Chinese etc are very much societies that for the past X thousand of years have been killing and stealing. Massive world wars, genocide, holocaust etc. Not to mention theivery.

    True, America is a medinah shel chesed, but most other countries have not been so nice to the Jews, or other foreigners for that matter.

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    1. Again, חכמים היזהרו בדבריכם. If that's what he meant, that's what he should have said. I have no problem with someone arguing that the Torah is דרכיה דרכי נועם and that this is why extremists among Jews still aren't killers, the way extremist Muslems are and extremist Christians were. But that's simply not what he said and many children (and adults with the intellectuality of children) heard him saying that the rest of the world is basically all רשעים and not important to G-d

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  13. I am a ben-Noach who tries to learn Torah and stay connected through shiurim online and various Jewish websites. These comments shocked me as they probably did most everyone. My first reaction was, Am Yisrael are supposed to be a light unto the nations and show the way for the rest of us, and this isn't going to help. As the saying goes you catch more flies with honey. However Rav Shteinman is a gadol and there must be a reason he said what he said, in the manner that he did. The other day I watched a short video on Torah Anytime by Rav Shlomo Singer about why there was thunder and lightning and such a fierce show of power at Matan Torah- it seems not to be along the lines of darchei noam. He said that in order for a person to really internalize Torah they must be shaken to the core. Maybe that was the Rav's strategy here. If so it's doing the trick. Heaven help us all and may we see the geulah b'mherah

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  14. 8 billion people? There are actually only a little over 7 billion. Who is the brainless one? I can't believe people actually pay attention to this guy. These are the words of a madman

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  15. There are too many charedi apologists who are not even charedim!

    The amount of hatred and vitroil coming out of charedi leaders is absurd. Send thier children to the army. Don't fund their school unless reasonable secular studies are implemented.

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  16. To Anonymous May 22, 2012 2:33 AM

    "I can't believe people actually pay attention to this guy."

    These are the words of a madman

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  17. It is so sad you all Young Israel types. You are caught up in the modern ethical traps. As my friend said: the grandfather is Orthodox, the father is Modern Orthodox, the son is just modern. Your retention rate is low, i've seen your children massively leaving being even marginally Shomer Shabbos, i've seen this in one of the Boston suburbs, and then in the Boston/Brookline area. You don't produce major poskim, you loose your children. You can't get even a 1 per cent of what R' Shteinman is saying. You daven the Shabbos Shacharis in 1.5 hrs and then shmooze affer that for an hour. Judaism is a burden for you. Of course, there are problems in all sectors of Jewish society, but your problems are the most acute. You don't know how to learn, you don't know whom to learn with, you don't like learning. Hashem should have rachmonos on the whole Klal Yisroel

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  18. We are, indeed - all of us - murderers and thieves...I live in the US, so I'll focus on US culture: the rich (the Koch brothers and their ilk) buy the politicians, who pass thieving laws that prosecute the poor and forgive the rich. We murder civilians by the hundreds (errant drone strikes come readily to mind) ..,things aren't better elsewhere, including Israel. The simpletons here (poor Rabbi Slifkin among them, I see) think that the old rabbi must be senile - 8 billion murderers! - but he was referring (as is evident from the entire context of his speech) to what happens to societies that lack an ethical base. Nor does he think that what constitutes "Torah society" today is actually a Torah guided society - His comments elsewhere are illuminating- but that's for another day.

    Zehava - the kid is right - the goyim are tricky - and when it pays for them to cheat, they will (and do). You may have noticed the myriad articles indicating that the fish you buy is quite often something else - the fraud is rampant. Good luck with your abiding trust in others to guarantee the purity of the food you eat ...

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