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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Gedolim Redux, part I

One of the things that truly irritate me is the chareidi definition of "gedolei Israel." The reason this is even an issue is because there has been a constant thread it the past 50 years to either remove from history gedolim who don't agree with the contemporary chareidi agenda or, if the personage is too great to remove, then those sections that are objectionable to the contemporary chareidi are removed from the books.

I will bring several examples in upcoming posts (bli neder), but here is one example for a start:

Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer Zt"l had two sons-in-law. One was Rav Aharon Kotler Zt"l and the other was Rav Yitzchak Meir Ben-Menachem Zt"l. Rav Ben-Menachem was the author of an incredible peirush on the Rambam called "Parashat HaMelech". In the introduction to the second volume of this book, published in 1957, he writes the following:

ואם יש לראות יד ה' תוך עומק הדין, ודאי שאין להתעלם מלראות את יד ה' בישועה בדרך נס שהוארה לנגד עינינו אחר שנות הפורענות בשמי ארצנו הקדושה. ורק שתום-עינים לא יראה במה שאירע כאן לפני שמונה שנים את יד ה' הגדולה הנטויה עלינו לחסד ברכה, כאשר מסר השי"ת ברחמיו המרובים רבים ביד מעטים ועמד לנו בעת צרתנו וזכינו לתקומת מדינת ישראל היא ראשית צמיחת גאולתנו השלמה, ונדחי ישראל מכל קצות תבל מתקבצים לתוכה ומקוממים את שממותיה. אכן עלינו לדעת כי התשועה הגדולה והפרקן לעם ישראל בוא יבואו אחר שיתגדל ויתקדש שמיה רבא על ידינו, ותתגדל ותתחזק הכרתנו כי יד ה' עשתה זאת ולפיה נחיה, ואנו כולנו מלאי צפיה לביאות גואל צדק במהרה בימינו ולהחזרת השכינה לציון עיר קדשנו.

And if it is [appropriate] to see the hand of Hashem in the depth of [Hashem's] judgment, then obviously we should not ignore seeing the hand of Hashem in our miraculous salvation that we perceived with our very eyes after years of suffering in our Holy Land. Only a blind person will not see in what occurred here eight years ago the great hand of Hashem extending over us for a blessing; When Hashem, in his great mercy, delivered the many into the hands of a few and stood for us in our [moment] of trouble and we merited the rise of the State of Israel - which is the first flowering of our complete redemption - and the scattered ones of Israel are gathering from all corners of the earth and are rebuilding [the land from its] desolation. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to know that the great salvation and redemption will come to the nation of Israel after [Hashem's] great Name will be glorified and sanctified by us, and our recognition will grow and become strengthened that the hand of Hashem did all this and according to it will shall live. And we, all of us, are full of hope for the coming of the righteous redeemer, quickly in our days, and for the return of G-d's presence to Zion, our Holy city.

You will only find this in the first printing. It has been removed from all subsequent printings of this remarkable work.