Wednesday, August 05, 2009

the loss of a gadol

Klal Yisrael this week lost one of its princes, the Rosh Yeshiva of Sha'ar haTorah, R' Zelik Epstein. What is amazing is what some focus on in their appreciation of the man. Maybe it's Wikipedia's fault for devoting 1 of only 5 paragraphs about the man to describing what R' Zelik held about various book bans. This is viewed as a "siman" that R' Zelik was "our type" of gadol, he was a "normal" gadol who understood the world, he wasn't one of those kano'i radicals of the far right, and therefore we should really be sad that he is gone. What is sad is that stuff like this becomes the measure of gadlus.
What we should mourn with the loss of any gadol is the loss of Torah that the person embodied. In R' Zelik's case we lost a link to the tradition of the great yeshivos of Europe, a link to the torah of R' Shimon Shkop, whose grandson R' Zelik was through marriage. If you want to know what we lost, open a Sha'arei Yosher and see the world that R' Zelik came from and lived.


  1. Why is it sad about taking what is essentially a courageous stand, staying resistant to pressure -- peer and otherwise -- to be a sign of gadlus? This is a "story" no less than stories about the Chofetz Chaim.

    As for the Wikipedia biography, as they say in Wikipedia nomenclature, so fix it.

  2. If the extent of someone's appreciation of the C.C. consists of knowing a few ma'aselach without an appreciation of the Mishna Berura, Shmiras haLashon, etc., then indeed, it is equally sad.
    Secondly, those who applaud the R.Y.'s stand do so not because of his courage - were that the case they should equally applaud the Satmar Rebbe for being courageous enough to take a far more extreme stand with respect to the legitimacy of the State of Israel than many contemporary gedolim.

  3. great unknown8:48 PM

    IMHO, the issue, on at least a sub-conscious level, is bound up in כח דהתירא עדיף.

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