These observations were originally made for the thirteenth
year of the Hebrew edition, and have been adapted for the tenth anniversary
of the English edition.
Thirteen and a half years have passed since the
Hebrew edition of Yated Ne'eman was started, and ten years
since the English edition began.
Maran HaRav Yisroel Yaakov Kanievsky zt'l and yblc'ta
Maran the Rosh Yeshiva HaRav Elazar Menachem Man Shach shlita
founded the Hebrew newspaper in 5745. Many were the difficulties which
had to be overcome until the newspaper, with Divine Assistance, reached
its present status. Yated Ne'eman is, Boruch Hashem,
developing and flourishing in all aspects not only in Eretz Yisroel
but throughout the world.
Maran HaRav Shach shlita started the English edition just
ten years ago when he felt that the principles that guided the Hebrew
paper should also find expression in English.
Doubtless the reasons for its success are many. First, those
who from its inception worked with mesiras nefesh for countless
hours contributed greatly to its success. Second, its strict adherence
to the guidelines of a committee of talmidei chachomim give
it its unique feature that enhances it to the frum readers.
Furthermore, the writers, editors, and directors have been instructed
by Maran the Rosh Yeshiva shlita to serve as a distinctive
organ of pure hashkofo. This, of course, brings siyata
Indeed much effort was in the past and is in the present put
into the newspaper's development. It was not at all an easy job in
a relatively short period to become the leading newspaper of chareidi
Jewry, their most reliable media to express their views. The Yated
is a newspaper whose unquestionably high professional level and quality
has made it a model for imitation.
The English edition was an especial pioneer, and it has set the
pattern and standard that others have closely followed.
A "birthday" is a fitting opportunity to reflect about
the paper's aims and objectives; but first we must remember to thank
the Creator of the World for its past success and pray that we do
not fail in our future meleches hakodesh.
I thought it appropriate, on this occasion, to discuss how a
newspaper, or more correctly, our newspaper, should look -- its
goals and its accomplishments -- and likewise to air our doubts
When extensive graphic and technical changes were made in the
Hebrew edition of Yated Ne'eman there were some who sharply
criticized them. The issues that were raised, and our response, reflects
on matters that are very generally applicable to our place in the
We received such comments as: "Why do you need to print an
article that covers a topic so thoroughly?" "Isn't the new
format too modern and similar to secular newspapers?" "Why
should we convey importance to secular and non-Jewish events and personalities
by writing in detail about them and displaying pictures of them?"
The common denominator of all this criticism is the basic question:
Does news coverage, a reporter's professional technique, and graphic
presentation contradict the outlook of a Torah-oriented newspaper?
When the gedolei Yisroel acknowledged
the need to establish a chareidi newspaper, they had two aims in mind.
First was bringing the news to the chareidi public in a kosher
fashion while leaving out objectionable items. Getting news from
a chareidi paper would prevent the reader from satisfying his curiosity
by reading non-religious newspapers. The second aim was to present
the pure Torah outlook and da'as Torah of the Torah leaders
about contemporary issues. In order to fulfill these two objectives
the paper was divided into two: the pages of news were devoted to
the first aim, while the pages written by columnists fulfilled the
The Yated editor's news desk functions like any other
newspaper, except for the fact that the news is meticulously reviewed
in order to suppress or delete anything objectionable. This work is
done together by the news editors and a representative of the Yated's
Vaada Ruchani. Once the stage is reached where the news to be published
has been approved, the editors present the news to the readers according
to its general significance while simultaneously considering what
interests the newspaper's readers.
In addition it must be noted that reporting the news does not
necessarily attest to the paper's attitude about its contents. Coverage
of settlements in Judea and Samaria, for instance, certainly does
not attest that da'as Torah approves of such settlements, just
that they are a newsworthy issue that is of interest to our readers.
We are presenting this particular example because once one of
our reporters interviewed a settler from Gush Katif. The article concluded
as follows: "The settlers are determined to continue Jewish settlement
in the area." A prominent reader complained about this, asking
why the reporter was sympathizing with the settlement of Judea and
Samaria. Actually it should be perfectly clear that the reporter simply
presented a report of the facts, whose only significance is that the
settlers themselves are determined to settle the Judea and Samaria
territories. The reporter did not discuss whether the settler's approach
is good or bad. If a reader wants to know the opinion of our leaders
about such settlements he must look in the pages of the commentators
and columnists and not on the pages which report the news.
Just as when a reader sees a headline reading: "Minister
Ne'eman is Determined to Continue Encouraging the Reform Movement,"
he will not suspect us of approving such encouragement, likewise other
news reports do not indicate this paper's attitude toward the subject
This distinct division was adopted in order to realize the paper's
duty. To ignore the need to present news events in a professional
way -- after thorough review, of course -- on the grounds that
doing so impairs our transmission of the pure Torah outlook, would
turn the paper into a Torah- oriented journal. The people who want
to read a newspaper would then fill their need by reading other newspapers.
We have always counted on our readers to understand that professional
news coverage does not express one's opinion or ideological approach.
Emphasis of the news in the part of the paper intended for this purpose
has only this significance: it indicates how much attention has been
focused on the event in the general media, or alternatively how important
a news event it is considered for the chareidi readers of our paper.
If headlines were intended to express da'as Torah about
the importance of events, then, for example, the headline every Rosh
Chodesh Cheshvan should be: "Tens of Thousands of Yeshiva Students
Started the New Zman in the Yeshivos." Without a doubt no event
is more meaningful than this one, since we all believe that the entire
world exists in the merit of Torah study. The publishing of any new
sefer on halocho, or the chidushei Torah of a godol
beTorah should also receive a central place on the first page of
the newspaper. There would be no question that a notice on the day
we must start saying vesein tal umottor, whose omission
obliges us to daven Shemoneh Esrei again, should be the headline
on that day.
For us these events are truly important and central, but everyone
understands that they cannot be placed in the headlines. To do so
would certainly express the perspectives of the Torah-observant, but
then the Yated would no longer be a newspaper. The explicit
intention of the gedolei Torah and its founders was to found
a daily newspaper that would fill the place of unbefitting newspapers,
and would supply the minimal needs that other papers provide for their
When the staff considers which news to place in the headlines, what
guides them is the value of an item as news. A standard headline would
be printed in regular letters, a more gripping event in larger letters,
an agitating event would be emphasized with a background, and an event
with exceptional world interest will be printed with even a darker
background. This does not express our stand on the subject; only its
In the past the same type of headline as Rabin's assassination
received, for example, was allotted to many events. One example is
the attempted revolution against Yeltsin in Russia, which received
a gigantic headline and a subheading that stretched down the entire
length of the first page of the newspaper, as well as a picture covering
half of the first page. We are delighted that none of our readers
suspected us of having any connection with either Gorbachev's government
or the attempted insurrection. The opening of the Madrid Convention
again received such a coverage because of its international importance.
This has been written because some of our readers presume that
profound significance should be read into the size of the letters
and the darkness of the shadow around them. We would like to clarify
for their sake that journalistic considerations are behind these differences.
Extended coverage of a particular event is a result of mere news considerations.
Likewise, certain pictures relating to news events are unconnected
to what the Torah attitude is to them. It seems to us that what we
have written is clear and simple, but since (to our joy) some of the
paper's readers are totally unfamiliar with the essential nature of
a newspaper, we are writing this so that these readers will view the
news in our pages as the function of a newspaper and not as a mussar
or hashkofo sefer.
On the other hand, we try to present the correct Torah approach
to these events through our columnists and the various commentators
who express what we have received in our tradition from the past gedolim
zt'l, and through the Vaada Ruchani of the paper, who report to
us the views of the contemporary gedolim.
In connection with the graphic appearance of
the newspaper -- the choice of which type and size of letters to
use in its text and headlines and how the columns should be decided
with dozens of other technical considerations -- we were guided
by the same approach enumerated above. A newspaper needs to look like
a newspaper. And how does a newspaper look?
Naturally, we cannot find an answer by looking up this question
in a sefer. We have no "tradition" or ancient "minhag"
about it. The entire concept of a newspaper is not a Torah concept
at all. No one can determine that he has a "halachic source"
to resolve how a newspaper should appear. This is simply because there
is no halocho in the Rambam or Shulchan Oruch that deals
with publishing a newspaper.
The whole idea of publishing a chareidi newspaper al taharas
hakodesh was forced on the Torah-true community bedi'eved,
ever since newspapers became popular towards the end of the seventeenth
century and were first published by non-Jews and later by Jews. If
there had never been newspapers and other mass media, gedolei
Yisroel would never have initiated a chareidi newspaper. Jewry
existed thousands of years without any chareidi newspaper and only
the fear of the adverse influence of general journalism brought about
No one expects that today's chareidi newspaper will look like
the chareidi newspapers of previous times. Just as it is not expected
that Yated Ne'eman of 5758 should look like the Israelite,
the Levonon, or the HaPeles that were published some
hundred years ago or more, likewise it should not be designed like
the Kol Yisroel, Hamodiah, and the HaKol of forty and
fifty years ago. If someone attempts to distribute a chareidi newspaper
fashioned after those former newspapers he would fail terribly despite
the fact that in their time they were successful.
It must be made clear that the necessity to supply a substitute
or competitor for other newspapers should not influence the contents
of the newspaper and its ideological approach in some ways. No attempt
will be made to compete in content with secular newspapers or slanderous
popular magazines. However, as far as design and external appearance,
there is nothing basically wrong with making use of different types
of printing or graphics effects. This changes from time to time just
like the way we live has changed. No person will claim that using
a washing machine or a word processor instead of a washtub and a feather
quill is a "chiddush" that is suspicious.
A chareidi newspaper has no kedusha. A chareidi newspaper
is not a "spiritual entity," whose format we must be careful
about as if it was handed down from Mount Sinai or transmitted to
us from the Oral Torah. A change in the newspaper's design is not
like, lehavdil, making changes in writing a sefer Torah
or changing the dapim of a Shas. A newspaper is after
all only a newspaper.
Incidentally, it is worth pointing out that the editorial staff
receives many reactions, suggestions, and demands about the newspaper.
The different demands are frequently contradictory. One person demands
to write at length about political topics while the other demands
to cut down drastically any writing about such topics. Others want
us to conduct a comprehensive coverage about general matters while
others prefer we focus on inter-chareidi affairs. A certain reader
suggests that we engage in topics of science and economics and another
favors highlighting home and family subjects. There is only one common
denominator: usually each one of those who complain is fervently "sure
that all the readers think like him." Members of the staff
who have experience with the variety of complaints know full well
the truth of the principle: "Just as their faces are not alike
so their views are not alike."
Still we try hard to satisfy everyone. If no effort is made to satisfy
the readers -- in a way that is naturally permitted and reviewed
-- they and the members of their household are likely to look for
what they want in foreign fields.
What has been written concerns the reading body in general and
especially the young generation. Today's young people are thirsty
for information and news. Naturally every educator and parent must
teach the young to utilize properly their allotted time in this world
and not to waste hours reading newspapers. The reality is however
that a young man or woman today sees in a newspaper stand -- even
in chareidi neighborhoods -- many newspapers and publications that
are full of appealing pictures. These are not under any spiritual
supervision and are therefore full of improper views and perverted
ideologies between the lines that infiltrate the reader's mind.
If a young person will not feel that the newspaper the gedolei
Yisroel have proposed for his use supplies him with enough of a
flow of up-to-date, comprehensive, interesting and professional information,
presented to him in a pleasant and attractive way, he will have difficulty
overcoming the temptation to peek into other newspapers that are so
easily accessible. In a parallel case, Maran the Chazon Ish zt'l
once said that it is difficult to fight secular literature as long
as there is no high-level chareidi literature as a replacement.
Yated Ne'eman sees itself obligated to realize the aspiration
of the gedolei hadoros and create a kosher and clean newspaper
for the yirei Hashem (although naturally it is possible that
we have sometimes erred in making the right considerations and
have mistakenly written some word or inserted a picture that is out
of place -- and for that we ask forgiveness).
For this reason Yated Ne'eman is careful about the contents
of its articles and screens them most painstakingly according to the
clear directions of the Spiritual Committee. The contents must be
perfectly clean without any foreign and mistaken views. It must be
"old wine in a new bottle."
Let us conclude the way we began and thank Hashem for the past and
pray for the future that we will not be the cause of any takolos.
May the zechus of those who founded the newspaper and the brocho
of Rabban Shel Yisroel shlita together with the special zechus
of all the many readers of the newspaper assist us.