The Victory Of The Orthodox Jewish Extremists

In his fourth lecture on the Steipler for Torah in Motion, professor Marc B. Shapiro says: “Why are so many extremist figures leaders in our era? Rav Ahron Kotler, the Steipler, Rav Shach.

“People are looking for extremism. Moderation is not something people are attracted to in this era. Extremist leaders have a way of frightening and silencing others. Rav Ahron Kotler had a strong personality and he was able to dominate the other roshei yeshiva.”

“Rav Ahron Kotler did not achieve significance in his lifetime. When he passed away, there were 200 students in Lakewood. The victory of the Lakewood yeshiva ideology comes in the next generation, beginning in the late 1970s.”

“In the 1960s, you’d say the future was in Yeshiva Torah Vodaas and Chaim Berlin, where they go to college at night. Today these are regarded as second-rate. If you want the major leagues, you want to go to Lakewood or eretz Israel.”

“A gadol is a social construct. The community determines who a gadol is. A gadol doesn’t mean someone who knows a lot. You have to have a position as a rav or a rosh yeshiva. You have to have a following. A gadol is a leader. You need to think he has great piety and great scholarship. You need to have people attracted to you.”

“The Steipler never kissed his grandchildren. Rav Soloveitchik writes that he was never kissed by his father. Never hugged by his father. Rav Soloveitchik carried on this tradition. Rav Soloveitchik never kissed his grandchildren.”

“Torah study above all else led to a dulling of emotions.”

“I have three different stories about gadolim whose relatives died on Shabbos and they refused to cry because it was Shabbos. There’s no mourning on Shabbos. The Brisker Rav had a child die and his wife was crying and he rebuked her.”

About Luke Ford

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