Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reader Email on Vos Iz Neias Ban

"Name Witheld" writes:
You write:

"Note, Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky signed this one. Surprising, given his public statements after the Lipa ban. It seems to me that he has an obligation to clarify the process he followed here, and explain why only this site, but not competing sites were banned."


Do I understand the ban? No. Am I a fan of bans? No. But this smacks of chutzpa to write on the web that R' Shmuel owes me or you or anyone else a clarification of why he feels this way. R' Shmuel is a true godol, a man who has no self interest involved, who doesn't have an ounce of "gaavah" in him.

I know you will disagree, saying that a gadol is not above the law, and we can question etc, but at the very least it is unparalled chutzpa to talk about him in that manner.
My response: I understand the point you are trying to make. I disagree with your premise. Rav Shmuel publicly stated that the process used in the Lipa Schmeltzer ban was wrong. For him to do the exact same thing, without explaining why he thinks the situation is different, raises obvious questions. A leader has the obligation to resolve those issues. I’m not demanding that he do so. I’m simply pointing out that if he doesn’t, his ban won’t carry a whole lot of weight. And, it will result in a diminution of his authority. As someone who thinks the community needs to be able to respect rabbinic leadership, this saddens me.

This is exactly the same situation as the Lipa ban all over again. Banning VIN without also banning Yeshiva World News and other similar sites? It’s arbitrary, and raises many of the same questions the Lipa ban did. And everyone sees through it.

If a gadol is going to do/say something that on its surface looks wrong, and publicize it, then they have an obligation to be aware of how their actions will be perceived and explain them. Ravv Kamenetzky is well aware of how bans are perceived both inside and outside the community. He knows that his actions here raise troubling questions. He should address them.

Incidentally, I’m fairly certain, based on what I’m hearing, that this specific website was targeted for a ban by the “askanim” involved, because of an unrelated issue. When gedolim allow themselves to be manipulated into taking sides on something that isn’t their issue, as it were, that also results in a reduction of kavod haTorah.