Dei'ah veDibur - Information & 

A Window into the Chareidi World

17 Ellul 5761 - September 5, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Gedolim Speak Out About Periodicals
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

"It is obvious and goes without saying that all magazines published with commercial considerations in mind and which were not founded by gedolim, do not convey the correct hashkofoh."

It should be noted that the Israeli edition of Yated Ne'eman is the only English language publication throughout the world that is under the complete control of a Vaada Ruchanit. There are other publications that are put out by chareidi staffs, but only Yated Ne'eman is completely controlled by its Vaada Ruchanit and not by businessmen or askonim. A representative of the Vaada reviews all the material and members of the Vaada sometimes take an active role in the material that is published.

The gedolim clarified their view in the wake of claims that they appproved one of the weekly magazines that is put out by a chareidi staff: "It is obvious that this [publication] too has no place in the home of chareidim who make a point of reading only Torah hashkofoh as it has been passed down to us. The whole essence of these kinds of publications is to legitimize all views without discriminating between them."

The gedolim shlita, once again spoke out firmly against weekly magazines published with commercial considerations and not founded by gedolim, since many educational and spiritual pitfalls are likely to result from publications which are not guided by our gedolim and which lack an appropriate message and philosophy.

A few months ago the rabbonim came out against the general media and against all media not imbued with a Torah outlook. After speaking out against the radio, they wrote: ". . . the same thing applies to publications widespread in many chareidi homes, which are not written in accordance with a Torah outlook and which, as we well know, infuse our homes with indifference and contempt for all things holy and create discord, loshon hora, gossip and besmirch the honor of Torah. It is therefore clear that anyone bringing a newspaper into his home should be very particular to read only those under the supervision of the gedolei hador shlita."

Since this letter was published, some weeklies tried to mislead the public into thinking that these words do not apply to them, and that it is permitted to read them.

One Hebrew magazine contained an explanatory article, attacking the chareidi press founded by the gedolim of previous generations and under strict ideological supervision which ensures that readers receive only a pure and undiluted Torah hashkofo imbued with the correct spirit. The argument made there is that the inflexible ideological approach guiding the kosher papers "limits them, and does not give their readers a complete and full picture." The magazine added that their attitude is intended to "increase tolerance within our camp, which does not suffer from an overabundance of this attribute" and "to encourage moderation."

Rabbonim and educators have, in the past, expressed grave doubts about weekly magazines which also publish nationalistic views and the like that are incompatible with the Torah outlook. They said that great damage is done to the young generation by the indistinct and hazy ideology of publications which have decided in advance not to have any solid educational guidelines and are driven only by commercial motives. In order to increase sales and achieve recognition amongst non- chareidi circles as well, they are willing to publish items which would not appear in newspapers under the guidance of gedolim since they have to be neutral among viewpoints.

The Hebrew magazine also included derisive comments directed by implication at the general chareidi public and its rabbonim who are particular to allow into their homes only those papers founded by the gedolim. The authors of the article express the hope that "those who are not able to read us" are only "a small minority." They also sniffed at those who do not believe in the "ideological supermarket." They state that magazines such as theirs are meant for "thinking people and for people who are curious about what is happening outside their immediate environment."

Rabbonim and educators have warned us for some time about the danger of these magazines and expressed grave reservations about them even before this latest article, which seeks to idealize an unacceptable tendency and to create the impression that the strict spiritual line followed by publications which are guided by the gedolim demonstrates a lack of tolerance as opposed to the "moderation" espoused by the "chareidi" magazines.

Most serious of all is the impression created by that article that the gedolim approved their approach. The gedolim shlita were shocked when they heard about this and decided to publicize their views about the weekly magazines, including the one quoted above, once again.

HaRav Shmuel Auerbach expressed his opinion in a letter, and was joined by HaRav Nissim Karelitz as well as HaRav Shmuel Halevi Wosner (whose view was brought by HaRav Shmuel Stern).

In the letter it says: "We wish to express our opinion about newspapers. It is obvious and goes without saying that all magazines published with commercial considerations in mind and which were not founded by gedolim, do not convey the correct hashkofoh, and are consequently likely to create pitfalls, even if they are minor. Everything that was published in our name was taken out of context and is not connected with this matter at all. It is obvious that this [publication] too has no place in the home of chareidim who make a point of reading only Torah hashkofoh as it has been passed down to us. The whole essence of these types of publications is to legitimize all views without discriminating among them. This is not the ideological way which our rabbonim, the transmitters of Torah, have handed down to us. Therefore one should not deduce from this that it is permitted to read them at all."

Rav Karelitz added to Rav Shmuel Auerbach's letter as follows: "HaGaon [Rav Auerbach] shlita has made the point very clearly. It is even worse to use a letter written many years ago, which has no relevance whatsoever to the situation today."

HaRav Wosner's opinion is also cited: "And all their words are truth and righteousness."

We should point out that the magazine also claimed to have received a letter from HaRav Moshe Shmuel Shapira whereas in reality the rosh yeshiva of Beer Yaakov forcefully denied their request to give them any sort of letter. His son, Rav Tzvi Shapira, whose letter was published in the abovementioned magazine, wrote: "It is patently obvious that my letter which was published was never meant to express an opinion on or take any responsibility for the contents of the publication."

In the wake of this renewed pronouncement by the gedolim, rabbonim and educators have said that we must continue to be wary of this educational pitfall. They think that these publications may pose a new threat, because they are trying to present themselves as kosher and to justify the publication of material which has not been checked for spiritual standards, unlike newspapers which subordinate themselves to the gedolim, claiming that they prefer "tolerance" and "moderation" etc. "This is an extremely severe development and we must protest against it," they said.


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