What’s The Difference Between A Torah Scholar And A Gadol?

In a lecture on rabbinic biographies for Torah in Motion, Orthodox rabbi and history professor Marc B. Shapiro says: “In the haredi world [ultra-Orthodoxy], [Rav J.B. Soloveitchik] is recognized as a Torah scholar but not as a gadol [great rabbi]. Why not? He knew as much as these others. He knew more than them. They know. They’ll tell you he knew more but the difference between a Torah scholar and a gadol is that the gadol has to hold by the da’as Torah [general teachings of the senior haredi rabbis], by the perspective established by the haredi sages of the previous generation like the Chazon Ish. If you break with that and become a Zionist, you’re a Torah sage but not a gadol. You can see by Yated Ne’eman in the Hebrew who’s a gadol, who gets the title of maran, harav ha gaon and who just gets rabbi.

Ovadiah Yosef used to be a gadol. Now he’s not. Hashkafah (worldview) is the most important thing.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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