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Jerusalem - Analysis: After Rav Shteinman Passing Who Will Lead The Haredim

Published on: December 13, 2017 11:30 AM
By: Jerusalem Post
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FILE - Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, Head of the Ponivez Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, is visited by his students to receive his blessings, on February 10, 2016. Photo by Yaakov Cohen/Flash90FILE - Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, Head of the Ponivez Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, is visited by his students to receive his blessings, on February 10, 2016. Photo by Yaakov Cohen/Flash90

Jerusalem - The Haredi leadership has experienced tumultuous times over the last five years, and the passing of the “leader of the generation” of Haredi Jewry, Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, on Tuesday will further complicate the picture.

The situation as it appears at the moment is that there will be no clear “leader of the generation,” and that two figures, Rabbis Haim Kanievsky and Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, will assume some form of joint leadership in matters of public policy for the Haredi community.

Rabbi Kanievsky, 89, has for many years been one of the most revered and respected rabbis in the community, referred to as the “Prince of Torah” and whose advice and blessings are sought out by many thousands of people.

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He has traditionally refrained from taking responsibility for public leadership and would often defer to Rabbi Shteinman, and refer those asking weighty questions of communal importance to his senior colleague.

Rabbi Kanievsky has of late, however, become more involved in such decisions, especially as Rabbi Shteinman’s health began to decline, and has been more willing to issue instructions.

Rabbi Edelstein, 94, is the dean of the renowned Ponovizeh Yeshiva and has been groomed for public leadership by Rabbi Shteinman and Rabbi Kanievsky. In recent years, he had the honorific “maran,” meaning “our master,” appended to his name in the
According to one source close to the rabbinic leadership, a situation could now develop in which Rabbi Kanievsky and Rabbi Edelstein coordinate with each other when the political leadership of the Degel Hatorah party (part of United Torah Judaism) that represents the non-hassidic “Lithuanian” Haredi community needs rabbinic guidance on a matter of public policy.

The politicians have been consulting with both figures during Shteinman’s last months of illness, and it seems that this situation will continue.

Rabbi Kanievsky is perhaps even more highly considered than Rabbi Edelstein, but his previous reluctance to take a position of public leadership may mean that the latter will bear a significant part of the burden when it comes to decision-making on matters affecting the Haredi public.

Given this state of affairs, it would seem that the period of an undisputed “leader of the generation” is over. Until his last illness, Rabbi Shteinman was the ultimate authority whom no one in the mainstream Lithuanian community would challenge or gainsay.

FILE - Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, a leading authority in Haredi Jewish society seen in the ultra orthodox Jewish town of Bnei Brak on December 21, 2016. Photo by Shlomi Cohen/Flash90  FILE - Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, a leading authority in Haredi Jewish society seen in the ultra orthodox Jewish town of Bnei Brak on December 21, 2016. Photo by Shlomi Cohen/Flash90

Now there appears to be two leaders, and however much they coordinate and cooperate, they constitute two addresses instead of one for the political leadership to consult with.

And the Lithuanian community has also been riven by a hitherto unheard of political divide which took root when the former leader Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv died in 2012.

Although Rabbi Shteinman was acknowledged by the leading rabbis as the “leader of the generation,” including by Kanievsky, prominent leader and ultra-conservative Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach and his entourage strongly fought to gain control over the community, and, when this ultimately failed, established their own political grouping known as the Jerusalem Faction.

The Jerusalem Faction is thought to have the support of 10% to 15% of the Lithuanian community, and has established its own institutions including a political party and a newspaper, while educational institutions have grown gradually more segregated between the mainstream and the Jerusalem Faction, and marriage between members of the groups is also increasingly uncommon.

Rabbi Elyashiv, and Rabbi Menachem Eliezer Man Shach before him, was never challenged in this way, and their authority never undermined in this manner.

If the era of the “leader of the generation” is now over, it would indicate an erosion of authority within the Haredi community and perhaps presage further division as different sub-sectors of the community follow their own rabbinic leader, and his political advice.

But such political splintering looks unlikely, at least in the short term.

It has been pointed out that Rabbi Elyashiv, during the period of his leadership, would often defer to Shteinman and state that he relied on the latter for issues of public concern.

The kind of joint leadership that existed then could be emulated by Kanievsky and Edelstein, with no impact on the clarity of instructions given to the political leadership.

The two rabbis have been ever more prominent in recent years in assuming leadership roles and a level of coordination and amiable relations is already well established, so it seems almost impossible for the kind of bitter rivalry and opposition that has characterized the Jerusalem Faction’s split from the mainstream to take place amongst the current leadership.

Rabbi Kanievsky’s authority in particular is practically unassailable and should he wish to wield it, it seems unthinkable that he will be contradicted or challenged.



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Read Comments (13)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Dec 13, 2017 at 11:42 AM triumphinwhitehouse Says:

daas torah is unanimous in opposing frum people from serving in a totally secular environment called the IDF, where they purposely put immodestly dressed women in the same ROOM as 18 year old boys and require them to listen to kol isha and shave their beards.

2

 Dec 13, 2017 at 12:11 PM LebidikYankel Says:

Jerusalem Post reporting...
Rav Gershon is the man, as per Rav Shteinman's wish.

3

 Dec 13, 2017 at 01:04 PM PureSatmar Says:

Leading the Hareidim?
The only thing the Hareidi MP's need to make some pictures with a Godol, thereafter fooling the public that they only follow orders of the Gedolim.
I'm sure they'll easily find someone crowning him as Godol for cover up purposes.

4

 Dec 13, 2017 at 01:05 PM mayereke Says:

a few points;
every number of years klalyisroel as a whole or chassidic groups go thru the process of transfer of leadership mi dor le dor. in the end hashem does not forsake his beloved nation and it happens. no one old enough would ever have thought that rav pam or rav shteinman,... as great as they were would one day sit at the helm yet hashem orchestrated it that way. rav wolfson shlita said that each morning we make the brochoh sheasah li kol tzorchi that hashem provides ALL our needs , all includes gedolim and leaders so although we sorely miss their glow and vision.. yiroel is netzach
rav shteinman knows exactly the matzav of the door he was privy to all the issues , may he beseech hakb"h in these days " shlach orchah....

5

 Dec 13, 2017 at 01:31 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
PureSatmar Says:

Leading the Hareidim?
The only thing the Hareidi MP's need to make some pictures with a Godol, thereafter fooling the public that they only follow orders of the Gedolim.
I'm sure they'll easily find someone crowning him as Godol for cover up purposes.

How can a "Pure Satmar"be on the internet ?Before you have any advice for others ,clean ALL the machlokas(disputes) in your own house hold.

6

 Dec 13, 2017 at 01:53 PM Maven Says:

What a stupid foolish article by the JP.

A Godal Hador (leader of the generation) is not an elected position or an appointed position like a Rav, Rosh yeshiva or Rebbe.

A Godal Hador happens automatic where the masses of Klal Yisroel sees in someone that this person IS THE Godal Hador.
These days a leader of the generation is unfortunately decided by writers and newspapers such as the Hamodia,Yeted,Hamevaser etc etc.And whichever Rosh yeshiva goes in lockstep with the newspaper they crown him as the Godal Hador.

7

 Dec 13, 2017 at 02:29 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
triumphinwhitehouse Says:

daas torah is unanimous in opposing frum people from serving in a totally secular environment called the IDF, where they purposely put immodestly dressed women in the same ROOM as 18 year old boys and require them to listen to kol isha and shave their beards.

Sorry, but you seem obsessed with party line messages. There is more than enough room for improvement in the way IDF handles its affairs, and one does not need to be anti-Zionist to be upset with how they trash halacha. But your stuff about "daas Torah" and unanimous is neither a statement of fact, nor is it true at all. Working in a secular environment involves its challenges and nisyonos. But you have a different agenda here, and if you were honest, you would introduce your comments with your party affiliation.

I am opposed to the chilul Hashem of the Peleg protests. I state that openly. I am no Zionist, but I refuse to lend my support to anyone on an anti-Israel mission. Unanimous? I believe not. "Daas Torah"? Says who?

8

 Dec 13, 2017 at 02:58 PM PureSatmar Says:

Reply to #6  
Maven Says:

What a stupid foolish article by the JP.

A Godal Hador (leader of the generation) is not an elected position or an appointed position like a Rav, Rosh yeshiva or Rebbe.

A Godal Hador happens automatic where the masses of Klal Yisroel sees in someone that this person IS THE Godal Hador.
These days a leader of the generation is unfortunately decided by writers and newspapers such as the Hamodia,Yeted,Hamevaser etc etc.And whichever Rosh yeshiva goes in lockstep with the newspaper they crown him as the Godal Hador.

Well said, honest but regrettable fact in our days.
Are you not afraid of being bashed by #5 for saying the truth?

9

 Dec 13, 2017 at 03:14 PM PureSatmar Says:

Reply to #5  
Anonymous Says:

How can a "Pure Satmar"be on the internet ?Before you have any advice for others ,clean ALL the machlokas(disputes) in your own house hold.

Satmar has the meshimer filter.

10

 Dec 13, 2017 at 03:40 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #9  
PureSatmar Says:

Satmar has the meshimer filter.

When are they going to have a filter for all the hate and machlokas against some in am Israel? They should learn from Moshe Rabeinu and the Bardechev Rav to ALWAYS find good in EVERY YID.

11

 Dec 13, 2017 at 04:20 PM JamesDean Says:

Reply to #1  
triumphinwhitehouse Says:

daas torah is unanimous in opposing frum people from serving in a totally secular environment called the IDF, where they purposely put immodestly dressed women in the same ROOM as 18 year old boys and require them to listen to kol isha and shave their beards.

You are an amazingly misinformed individual. My son just finished his army service and he kept his beard the whole time. Second, his unit which was mostly frum (not Nachal Charedi) was excused from an event because it had Kol Isha and a separate event was held for his unit. Fact based arguments generally carry more weight. Try it sometime.

12

 Dec 13, 2017 at 11:55 PM Refyok Says:

89 and 94? Couldn't they find anyone older? Because we know people's minds and judgment tends to get better and sharper as they get older.

13

 Dec 14, 2017 at 08:25 AM Anonymous Says:

I just hope the Peleg movement falls apart.

14

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