From The UOJ Archives-Saturday, July 30, 2005 B.C. (Before Convention) Posted on the original site:unorthodoxjew.blogspot.com
The Enemy Within-Part Two-The Evolution of Right Wing Fanaticism
There are four separate catagories of movements that constitute right wing Judaism in the U.S.A.
There are overlaps in ideology or lack thereof between the above groups. The tzad hashava (common denominator) between all of them is money and power.
This blog will focus on category one, or Yeshivishism.
The Yeshiva" movement", as we know it today, began after World War Two. Of course there were yeshivas around before the war, but it was not a" movement", it was a place to get your child educated.
There is a huge difference between the two.
One of the main differences is that before the war the yeshivas were institutions, run by board members and not by individuals. Certainly the heads of the yeshivas were where the board members looked for direction, but ultimately, and sometimes after great battle, the board rendered the final decisions.
Rabbi Aron Kotler (RAK), was the first yeshiva head to turn yeshiva education into a movement. That means he had absolute total control of everything.
Yes, he had baalei batim that supported him financially, but they had no say in anything at all other than the mundane issues of dinners, housekeeping etc.
Do not let anyone fool you, NO BAAL HABAYIS HAD ANY SAY AT ALL IN THE RUNNING OF THE YESHIVA. It was his way or the highway. If you dared to condradict his philosophy, there was no tshuva, you were history.
He was on a mission to replace the lost Torah scholars of churban Europe, a very noble, and what most people believed was an unrealistic task. While an extremely worthwhile project, it was not what people are now calling that idea, an idea of "genius."
Many refugees had the same idea. To name a few; the Rebbes from Satmar, Klausenberg, Rabbi Y. Kaminetzky, Rabbi Y.Ruderman, Rabbi M. Feinstein and probably twenty to thirty other prominent refugees from churban Europe.
What made RAK's idea a bit more novel was his concept of Torah Lishma. That meant that his yeshiva was to enroll anyone that wanted to learn Torah exclusively, there was not to be any other considerations about secular education or any education that would teach one a parnassah..etc., outside the world of Torah.
The yeshiva and Hashem would provide.
Money was hard to come by, but RAK was a super salesman, he had a niche product, a salesman's dream. He believed in his product and targeted every single Jew with a conscience and money. He played on the Holocaust; which resulted in the demise of most of Judaism, and the death of most European Torah scholars.
To use a tired but appropriate cliche, he was in the right place at the right time.
His customer base was broad, comprised of the bright yeshiva students with a future in chinuch, to the yeshiva boy who had nothing else to do but to go out and get a job. All were welcome. Naturally, every boy that came into the yeshiva had family and extended family that RAK approached for funds.
Slowly but surely not only did he encourage his idea of Torah lishma exclusively, but he was beggining to claim that all other ideas of learning Torah in conjunction with any other learning was against halacha.
He treaded lightly at first, but before his death in the early sixties, HE CLEARLY DENOUNCED ANY OTHER YESHIVAS THAT PERMITTED THEIR TALMIDIM TO PREPARE FOR A PARNASSAH WITH ANY FORM OF STUDY OTHER THAN TORAH EXCLUSIVELY, AS APIKORSUS AND RISHUS. NO EXCEPTIONS. He used outlandish and very descriptive language to make sure his ideas were well understood.
He passed on, and his ideas were used by his students as a springboard to what became Yeshivishism, or right wing fanatacism.
The primary yeshiva to promulgate this new trend was the Philadelphia yeshiva led by Elya Svei and Shmuel Kaminetzky. Svei, a noted and erudite talmud chochom, was well known for his kannaus or intransigence.
There was another side of him which was generally unknown, and that was his desire and goal to control the Yeshivish movement singlehandedly, after RAK's death. Kaminetzky, not nearly as bright, but realized he would make a good front man, did just that. They created the first Ivy League yeshiva. They made it difficult to get in, unless a student was very bright or of course there was money in the family.
In a relatively short period of time, their campus was built with state of the art facilities, and they had no mortgage.
Svei was free to wander off to head Torah Umesorah, and ultimately almost brought the Jewish day school movement to the brink of disaster with his outrageous and outlandish nonsense. What played in New York, did not play well in Peoria. He did not get his way and was forced to leave. He tried his shenanigans at the Agudah's Moetzes, and again was marginalized, until he left the organization.
His students idolized him, although it was clear to any rational observer of the Jewish scene, that he was losing it, and doing way more harm than good. His speeches were long and rambling, and his message was hard line, irrational and incoherent.
Nevertheless, He solidified RAK's ideology of Torah lishma, where it now became shameful for anyone to ever consider doing anything other than becoming a lifer (kollel for life.)
Easy for him to say, he now had a multi-million dollar campus paid off completely, and a student base primarily of wealthy kids. He did not take in any Iranians or Russians until he was absolutely shamed into it. Nice guy!
Shneur Kotler, RAK's son, took over the reins at Lakewood. He was a simple guy, and was not a Torah scholar of stature. There were rumblings and discontent over his automatically being named rosh yeshiva, but the antagonists were quickly dealt with by removing them from within the yeshiva.
This was the first time in the non chassidic world, that a yeshiva was turned over to a non-qualified family member. All the other major yeshivas at that time, upon the death of their rosh yeshiva, picked the rosh yeshivas from the best qualified candidates.
G-D fearing Jews understood the yeshiva did NOT belong to them, they were doing Hashem's work, and therefore the yeshiva belonged to the klal and NOT their family.
An ugly and dishonest precedent was set, and the uncouthed tigers were out of their cages.
Shneur Kotler evolved into a charismatic fundraiser. He inherited a well-oiled machine, and worked real hard. A confluence of factors caused the "movement" to grow geometrically. The onset of the Vietnam War, the Baby Boomers and the seeds of serious financial wealth in the Orthodox community, were very definite contributing factors to this astonishing growth.
By the time that Shneur Kotler passed away in the early eighties, the cultish concept of going to Lakewood was solidified. ANYONE could park himself in the yeshiva with no supervision, and stay as long as they felt like it.
Again, the yeshiva (or rather Shneur's wife), put at its head a way below average Kotler, her son Malkiel, and for window dressing they titled other relatives with meaningless positions.
The Kotlers had their dynasty with access to millions of dollars of the public's money, as well as millions of dollars in questionable government grants. Until today, no person can dare enter the yeshiva without filling out a government assistance form that goes directly into the Kotler coffers.
The common denominator between the greatest advocates of learning for life, are TWO FAMILY OWNED INSTITUTIONS WITH TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN REAL ESTATE UNDER THEIR FAMILY NAMES.
Elya Svei and Shmuel Kaminetzky have their imbecile kids running the yeshiva, while Kaminetzky is globetrotting and Svei is at home hallucinating.
The two Kotler brothers have under their direct control and legal title to approximately one hundred million dollars in real estate, in addition to millions of dollars a year in gross income from the public and the government.(in many cases bogus programs)
In summary, these two institutions, by claiming that it is forbidden to get a secular education in order to feed one's family, have no risk of going hungry themselves. They are charlatans of the first order.
Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetzky had advised some of his premier talmidim that it was in their best interests to get a college education. Rabbi Hutner encouraged college education for individuals with no interest in earning a living in chinuch, and was himself college educated as well as his daughter Bruria David. In addition,the two above great rosh yeshivas DID NOT PASS ALONG THEIR YESHIVAS TO THEIR FAMILY.
My point is this.
The dishonesty of preaching a philosophy that will bankrupt families and create so much misery for generations, must come to an end.
The Chofetz Chaim ran a grocery store.
It is not shameful to take care of your wife and children, it is shameful not to. To hell with the Sharptons and Jacksons with beards and black hats.
When you start living in two room apartments and have no money for food, give us a call. Until then, stay far away from our gullible kids.
To the idiot financial backers of these fraudulent money grubbing hucksters, stop being accomplices to the greatest crime to hit our community in recent memory.