Wednesday, May 26, 2010

On The Quality of Leadership... Or Lack Thereof

You know you've hit a sore point when you make a perfectly reasonable comment on Matzav.com and they don't put it up. :)

Shmuel Miskin put up a "rant" complaining about two things:

1. How the media portray chareidim as "hooligans" because of the hafganot (disturbances/rioting) in Israel. He makes the case that the people doing this are doing it against the wishes of the gedolim and hence, are not chareidi.

I'm not sure I agree with this point, but it's fine... I can understand what he's saying and it's not totally unreasonable. It's the second point he made that I commented on. Here's Rabbi Miskin's comment verbatim:

I’ve read numerous comments made by people online publically questioning why “gedolim haven’t condemned the violence.”

Firstly, the statement is not true. As mentioned, Rav Shternbuch has repeatedly condemned violence. Secondly, as I saw reported here on Matzav.com, the Mirrer rosh yeshiva, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, clearly told his talmidim to stay far away from the hafganos.

But putting that aside, who are we to publically call out gedolei Torah? Who are we to tell the gedolim what they should or shouldn’t publically protest? Such statements are a bizayon haTorah. Our gedolim, our einei ha’eidah, have special yiras Shomayim and special siyata diShmaya. They know when and how to protest or condemn something when the time is right. It takes outright chutzpah for online chareidi writers to question our gedolim and rabbonim, criticizing them, as if the writers are even in the same spiritual stratosphere as these leaders. What a bizayon.

Here's my comment that was not approved by Matzav.com.

Rabbi Miskin,

Leadership is a very funny quality. I can be great at math regardless of how anyone else feels about it. I can be great at learning Gemara regardless of anyone else’s opinion on it. And so on.

Leadership, on the other hand, depends in large part on the opinion and feelings of the people being led. If they feed feel that their leadership is not providing direction and, well… leading, then it could reasonably be argued that the leadership being provided is lacking.

When people “call out” their leaders (be they religious leaders, political leaders, etc.) it is because they feel that their leaders are not providing leadership. That, in and of itself, lends questions to the quality of the leadership.

The Wolf

29 comments:

G6 said...

Nine times out of ten, Matzav doesn't publish my comments either (even when some of them are as innocuous as giving credit where credit is due - say to a correctly identify a photo they "appropriated").

My guess is that they didn't publish your comment b/c they couldn't understand it.

Garnel Ironheart said...

The highest scoring player on the team isn't always the captain. Just because he's the best player doesn't make him the best leader.

How many dot.com businesses went belly up because their executive staff of wizkids didn't have a clue how to actually run a business?

A man may have all the Torah learning in the world but that doesn't translate into leadership skill. The best example is how Jews have been famous through the ages for being skilled advisors to kings and presidents but look how crappy a job they're doing running Israel!

E-Man said...

Well said Wolf

Honest Abe said...

Actually when the same handful of malcontents raise a ruckus on blogs against the Gedolim, it in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the average ehriche yidden.

First of all, most of them aren't even Chareidim, there just non-chareidim posting on chareidi blogs. Since when do blog postings or blog comments represent anything or anyone? Most chareidim dont even read blogs, even if they do have internet -- which many dont.

Noam the Preacher said...

A true chareidi would have/read blogs or jewish web sites, considering Harav Eliyashuv assured the internet.

Volvie, are you complaining about chareidim yet again?

BrooklynWolf said...

Volvie, are you complaining about chareidim yet again?

No. I'm commenting on one person's comments.

The Wolf

Honestly Frum said...

G-6 & Wolf, don't take it personally, they generally don't post my comments and even worse when they do they edit them to say things I didn't post. I try to post under different names. The guy running it selectively listens to daas torah when it works for him, but they are good for a laugh once in a while. You see the one about the Rebbe in a box he had up a few weeks ago. I have a post planned on it in the next few days.

Reb Chaim said...

I honestly don't even know why someone in the frum community like Shmuel Miskin from Matzav pays any attention to the jblogosphere. The frum community basicly knows the jblogosphere is anti-Torah, and they rightfully ignore it. That's the proper way to go about it, and by and large for the vast majority of the frum community the jblogospehere is a non-existant entity. (I am even asking myself why I read this post and am wasting my time responding to it...)

Robert said...

Wolf,

You should not be outraged that your submitted comment attacking the leadership qualities of the Gedolim shlita was not approved in the very Matzav thread bemoaning exactly such outrageous comments!

G*3 said...

His first point is a textbook example of the “No true Scotsman” fallacy.
His second point is either funny or disturbing, depending on your point of view. The Great Leaders(s) know all and can do no wrong. The masses should just be grateful that there are such wonderful people to guide them, and they should SHUT UP AND DO AS THEY’RE TOLD.

Garnel Ironheart said...
> A man may have all the Torah learning in the world but that doesn't translate into leadership skill.

Kefirah!

BrooklynWolf said...

His first point is a textbook example of the “No true Scotsman” fallacy.

:: Facepalm!! ::

I don't believe I failed to spot that!

The Wolf

Honest Abe said...

A man may have all the Torah learning in the world but that doesn't translate into leadership skill.

There are MANY such people. None of them are the Gedolim. The Gedolim posses both qualities; indeed a necessary component for them to have achieved their status.

Yirmiahu said...

Moshe Rebbeinu's leadership did not go unchallenged.

I don't think the problem is a lack of leadership. There may be, or may not be.The Nevi'im were all leaders, and as a rule they were ignored.

I think we have a generation of people unable to follow. Even the best Ro'eh is going to have trouble herding cats.

Reuven said...

"Moshe Rebbeinu's leadership did not go unchallenged."

Indeed. We have our own Korach's, and Doson & Avirum's of our own times.

Noam the Preacher said...

Does a real leader need to a great orator? Aren't Torah and midos enough?

G*3 said...

> The Nevi'im were all leaders, and as a rule they were ignored.

The nevi’im were, as a rule, treated about how you would expect a man going around telling everyone that what they believed and their parents believed and their grandparents believed was wrong to be treated. Many of them were leaders only in the sense that they were charismatic and gathered a following.

Dave said...

G*3, so in addition to being against the Gedolim, you are against the Nevi'im too.

Interesting.

Samuel said...

Was this your post Wolf?

27. Comment from Jewish Blogger
Time May 26, 2010 at 11:16 PM

I hate to admit it, but ofttimes soon after I hit the “submit” button on a website, I realize I fell into the very serious mistake this article correctly identifies.

MATZAV.COM RESPONDS:

Which is exactly why those comments don’t get approved!


If not, it sure sounds like someone from your clan ;-)

BrooklynWolf said...

No.

I have not made any comment on that thread other than the rejected one that I referred to in my post.

The Wolf

RAM said...

Many Jews now looking for leadership do not advocate that the leaders should take direction from the followers. Rather, they would like to see the leaders effectively correcting systemic problems by implementing the leaders' own Daas Torah.

LW2 said...

I disagree that the first point is a "no True Scotsman" fallacy. Would anyone say that Rav Shternbuch or Rav Finkel are not true gedolim? Ludicrous.

Rather, the fallacy is in the original claim. It is false to say that no gedolim have condemned the violence because at least 2 have done so. However, the fact that only two spoke out means that most gedolim were silent on the issue.

Anonymous said...

Every godol doesnt have to comment on every street altercation.

G*3 said...

Daveve said...
> G*3, so in addition to being against the Gedolim, you are against the Nevi'im too.

Where are you getting this from? The nevi’im were who they were, and “leaders” isn’t really it. They may have been spiritual giants, but to the man in the street they were the nuts standing on the street corner shouting that the end is near and we all must give up the gods we worship alongside Hashem. (Strict monotheists were at the time a minority.)

Anyway, I’m no more “against” the nevi’im than I am against anyone else who’s been dead for a few thousand years. At that, I don’t really have anything “against” the gedolim either. I don’t know any of them well enough to have such a personal opinion. I do disapprove of some aspects of the society they nominally lead, but I’m not really a part of that society and I mostly figure it’s none of my business.

I am “against” them in that I disagree with their theology, but I don’t see how my comment could be understood that way and I don’t think that’s what you meant.

LW2 said...
> I disagree that the first point is a "no True Scotsman" fallacy.

The first point is this:
“He makes the case that the people doing this are doing it against the wishes of the gedolim and hence, are not chareidi.”

Anonymous said...

A dysfuncational Orthodox Community id becoming more dysfunctional has divisiveness rages, financial troubles mount and extremism grows.

Sad. But true!

Anonymous said...

A dysfuncational Orthodox Community is becoming more dysfunctional has divisiveness rages, financial troubles mount and extremism grows.

Sad. But true!

George said...

Not true, just the wishful thinking of the anti-Orthodox (including some who fancy themselves as Orthodox.)

Ichabod Chrain said...

I have to agree that it's not the "no true Scotsman" fallacy.

If only 2 gedolim have publicly condemned the riots (or prohibited their students from participating) and the others haven't, then you can be Charedi and be part of the riots. I think it's more accurate to argue that "if it looks like a duck, flies like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck." If the people in the riots attend Charedi institutions, see themselves as part of the Charedi community, and follow Charedi practices, then why would they not be Charedi?

Or let's say Rabbi M is right and they're not Charedi. They're still very frum. So okay, then we substitute "very frum" for "Charedi". What difference does that make in terms of whether what they're doing is right or wrong, and what it says about the type of frumkeit they display?

As for Rabbi M's second point, it seems that he doesn't realize that asking a rhetorical question isn't the same thing as making an argument. If he's saying we shouldn't criticize gedolim then he has the burden of proof.

Aren't gedolim, gedolim because after having reached a certain level of knowledge they are seen by the community as gedolim? If so, then there's a role for community input.

What if the gedolim aren't doing anything because, as was pointed out on at least one other blog, they don't want to risk being called fake gedolim? If they're worried about that, then those who complain are doing the gedolim a service by telling them where the community stands.

The people who are complaining aren't complaining only about the gedolim. They're complaining about the actions of those who the gedolim should speak out against. And it's not just a bunch of people who are speaking off the top of their heads saying they don't like something that the gedolim have authorized. If the rioters are violating the law, we should speak out against them to show where we stand.

In fairness to the gedolim I'd be willing to draw a distinction between affirmatively supporting the riots, and just not taking action to stop them. On the other hand, Rabbi M doesn't draw that distinction.


BTW Wolf, in response to Reb Chaim's comments, I didn't know you were anti-Torah. You could have fooled me. Here I was thinking you were pro-Torah because you daven for the amud, send your kids to yeshiva, and follow halacha. But then I don't read Matzav (unless somebody links to an article that I'm interested in), so I don't see the comments of yours they don't accept.

LW2 said...

How sick is the Amud that so many people have to daven for it?

Devorah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.