The following is a translation of Chapter 7 of Loda'as
by Rav Yehuda Greenwald
The following is a translation of Chapter 7 of Loda'as
The first part discussed the existence of differences and
the idea of a disagreement that is lesheim Shomayim.
It also dealt with the fact that sometimes very strong
language is used to express these differences.
Why Differences About Hashkofo?
Question: "I can understand that there can be a
machlokes about halochos or in divrei
Torah, but why is it necessary for there to be differences
in hashkofos? This is especially harmful in our
period, in which the Torah-true should appear united.
We must uproot a popular misconception. Society insists on
dwelling on a person's "world outlook," and believes that
almost every issue is connected to it. Maran the Mashgiach,
HaRav Shlomo Wolbe, said that "world outlook,"
weltanschauung, is a concept that stems from German
philosophy; it means how a person sees the world and implies
that each person can create his own world outlook to fit his
personality. This way of thinking is also termed "every
person with his own truth." This seemingly awards legitimacy
to everyone who holds whatever subjective views he
The Mashgiach added that certainly in the Torah World such a
concept of world outlook and "how do I see this" is
irrelevant. The only important factor to be taken into
consideration is what does the Creator want the world to be
like, how does He look at the world, and what does
He want from us in every matter. Our personal view
does not matter in the least.
We can grasp the Creator's Divine will through studying Torah
and shimush talmidei chachomim who know how to reach
da'as Torah -- the will of Hashem setting forth how we
should act in this world.
This point is unknown to the secular world. They look at the
world of Torah and mitzvos as if it were a collection of
world outlooks, of which some are wise and others simply
strange. They maintain that every individual can either
accept or reject each one as he or she pleases. I am afraid
that this type of thinking has penetrated somewhat among us
too. There are matters of da'as Torah that we
mistakenly treat as world outlooks even though sometimes
these matters are purely halachic.
A relative once called me up and asked me a question. Her
relative had asked her to provide him with an affidavit
(formal testimony) stating that during the Holocaust period
his family spoke German. This affidavit was necessary for him
to lodge a compensation claim against the Germans. Only with
that affidavit would he be considered a Holocaust victim. She
told me that although her relative had indeed suffered in the
Holocaust, the detail that she was requested to confirm, that
his family spoke German, was false.
I asked some kollel students what their opinion was
and a few said: "It is unquestionably a mitzvah to take every
penny possible." This was my feeling too. Nonetheless, I
asked two eminent poskim and their reaction was a
decisive No: "It is forbidden to sign a false
affidavit for monetary gains."
I was extremely shaken up. Despite all of the strong feelings
and the hatred we feel towards those beastly oppressors, and
even though every human being is revolted by the dreadful
iniquity and barbarous acts they committed, the
halocho stands firm and clear that a false declaration
This psak has nothing to do with world outlooks, and
is not based on any ideologies. It is what the Creator wants
from us, and only what He wants from us. One prominent
poseik, a member of the Beis Din Tzedek of the
Eidah HaChareidis, absolutely prohibits a whole series
of false claims against governmental bodies of the State of
Israel in all sorts of affairs, although his view about the
State of Israel is drastically negative.
A unique point is that gedolei Yisroel are not only
concerned with revealing Hashem's will in halachic problems
but also in matters of correct views, the affairs of Klal
Yisroel, and other current topics. Maran the Chazon Ish
once ruled that a Jewish girl must yehoreig ve'al
ya'avor -- is obligated to die rather than go to
Sheirut Leumi (Women's [Compulsory] National
When National Religious Knesset Members visited him and asked
where that ruling is found in the Shulchan Oruch, the
Chazon Ish replied staunchly: "We have a fifth part of the
Shulchan Oruch." Besides the four standard parts of
the Shulchan Oruch in which are ruled all the
halochos that every Jew needs, there is an additional
part that is needed for decisions pertaining to the
government, the world, and general conduct. That part is
called da'as Torah, and with it we can rule that one
must die and not commit a certain aveiro!
As mentioned, this does not emanate from a subjective world
outlook, but the intensive study of a real talmid
chochom to know what is Hashem's will in a certain
subject. It is exactly like his intensive study to know
whether something is muktzah, chometz,
gezel, or deception of others.
Now we can understand that just as in halachic matters and
Torah study there are differences of opinion, yet "both of
these are the words of the living Elokim," so also in
questions of guiding Klal Yisroel and actual current
problems there are hard-as-nails points of view, but all are
the words of Hashem.
The Abundance of Controversies
Question: I still have difficulty in understanding why
there are so many disputes, and why there is such hatred and
resentment between the various movements.
First, not everyone is privileged to have da'as Torah
so that he can be relied upon to rule for am Yisroel
in matters of avodas Hashem. There are those who,
despite being knowledgeable in Torah, have never engaged in
shimush talmidei chachomim or have not done so
sufficiently. When there are many such people and they
publicly proclaim their views, the number of erroneous views
increases. Disagreements that are not lesheim Shomayim
also increase. The results: hatred and havoc.
Second, we must remember that our period is called by Chazal
ikvesa dimeshicha (the footsteps of Moshiach),
and the gemora (Sotah 49b) describes it in the
gloomiest of colors. One of the adverse symptoms of this
period is that "the truth will be missing." This is, in fact,
our present condition. We are perplexed by very fundamental
problems and do not always find the simple and agreed-upon
truth. The constant spiritual decline of the generations from
Mount Sinai onward only escalates the problem.
Naturally it is not inevitable for dissenting opinions and
schools of thought to breed hatred. Our mentors have warned
their talmidim that hatred should not exist between
disagreeing sides. These chachomim demanded of us to
show love and brotherhood to all Jews.
The Alter of Kelm writes in a letter discussing the proper
spiritual preparation for Elul, "The main motif on which all
of the groundwork for holy Elul stands is that we should
prepare ourselves to live among people who have views
contrasting with our own. We must do this with love and
brotherhood although in our hearts and with our views we must
remain distant from them" (Kisvei HaSaba MiKelm, I,
The present reality is, however, far from being as it should
be, and we do find people expressing themselves in another
The Maharal of Prague writes: "There is nothing in the world
to which a person is more attracted to than machlokes,
and there is nothing more innately harmful than
machlokes" (Derech HaChaim, pg. 260). The
yetzer hora lures people to amplify their various
arguments. This is especially so in the most truly important
subjects -- spiritual affairs.
The ba'alei mussar explain (in a drush) what
Chazal mean when they say that "any machlokes that is
lesheim Shomayim will ultimately persist." When two
dealers quarrel about some business deal they will probably
make up before Yom Kippur and will forget their disagreement.
When, however, the disagreement is lesheim Shomayim,
and each side imagines that he is coming to save Kvod
Shomayim and Klal Yisroel, there is no chance that
either side will give in.
The Netziv of Volozhin, HaRav Naftoli Tzvi Yehuda Berlin, the
rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Volozhin, writes that this
was the sin that caused the churban of the second
Beis Hamikdash. Even though "there were
tzaddikim, chassidim, and those who toiled over
the Torah, they were however not virtuous in their worldly
dealings. Because of their groundless hatred for others they
suspected anyone who did not act like them in yiras
Hashem of being a Tzeduki or an apikores.
An excessive practice of this resulted in bloodshed and all
possible evils, until finally the Beis Hamikdash was
destroyed" (Ha'amek Dovor, introduction to
We must also remember that when the different Torah-true
movements in Judaism developed, the Jewish Nation was
scattered all over the world. Thousands of miles separated
one group from the other, and even one Chassidus from
another. This allowed them to develop in a relatively quiet
At present the Torah-observant public is concentrated mainly
in three large cities: Yerushalayim, Bnei Brak, and New York.
In one neighborhood and even on one street you can find
living, one next to the other, Chassidim of various
Rebbes, Lithuanians, and other groups. The different groups
naturally meet each other constantly, and in the wake of
this, continual friction exists between the camps.
This troublesome abundance of disputes requires us to act
intelligently. Only by using our wits can we rectify the
situation of being torn apart one from the other and bridge
over the different schools of thoughts and opinions,
generating real fraternity and peace. It is, however, most
unfortunate that we are living in a generation in which there
has been a most drastic decline in reasoned behavior, wherein
people are unable to understand and accept other opinions and
schools of thought.