Can You Compare Rav Elyashiv With Reb Moshe?

Historian Marc B. Shapiro replies to my question: “Because of his political importance, Rav Elyashiv had more influence that R. Moshe, but R. Moshe also spoke to the non-haredi world. R. Elyashiv had no influence outside that world.”

“R. Elyashiv’s influence was really only in the haredi world,
while R. Moshe’s halakhic rulings had a broader audience. Speaking
just from a halakhic standpoint, I think R. Moshe had more influence,
but as I mentioned, R. Elyashiv was able to determine the direction of
an entire community in the State of Israel. R. Moshe never had that
sort of influence. I don’t think his pesak (legal rulings) and hashkafah (worldview) will have staying power. It is clear that the haredi world in Israel is going to have to change and become integrated with general society. The mass exemptions from army service will also be coming to an end. New haredi leaders will emerge.”

It often seems to me that the extremists win out in Jewish life. That they have the most power. Particularly among Orthodox Ashkenazim.

An Orthodox rav tells me: “That is not always so, some of it has to do with coalition politics in Israel. Note Reb Moshe was not at all extreme. The extreme elements in Israel only care about two issues, one no draft of Charedim and that they should get support for their Yeshivos they will sell their votes on everything else to get these two issues.
Recently as their community has become more and more impoverished they are fighting for the few jobs they can do and stay within their world, Rabbis of cities, Dayanim and Kashrut supervisors. To move into these positions they will do anything, note the attacks on Rav Drukman. But all of their attacks on Rav Drukman got nowhere, they tried to fire him numerous times but could not do a thing to move him until he decided to retire (he was almost 80 when he retired as head of Giur in Israel) they tired to prevent him from getting the Israel prize but failed. they have tried to say that the Hesder Yeshivot are not Yeshivot because they serve in the army, but have gotten nowhere.
Outside of Israel it is another issue, scholarship is rare and for some unknown reason people think that the right is “real” Judaism if I were really frum that is what I would be like, all garbage but because of this most people are afraid of standing up to the Haredim.”

The Jewish Journal reports:

Hundreds of thousands of mourners reportedly attended the funeral of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv in Jerusalem on July 18, and across the world, people remembered the eminent Orthodox rabbi who died on Wednedsay at the age of 102.

Rabbi Gershon Bess, the spiritual leader of Kehilas Yaakov in Los Angeles, said he would visit Elyashiv at least once a year, to consult with him on matters of Jewish jurisprudence.

“This is a person that one could ask any halachic question on any topic and get a well-researched answer based on Talmudic and later Responsa,” Bess said on Wednesday. “I don’t believe that there is anyone else in the world at this point now who is able to replace him.”

More than one obituary likened Elyashiv’s stature as a Jewish legal authority to that of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, who died in 1986. Bess agreed with that analogy.

“Even the greatest rabbinical authorities in the United States would show extreme deference to anything he [Elyashiv] would say,” Bess said. “Nobody but Rabbi Moshe Feinstein was considered as a final decisor on so many issues.”

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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