Rabbi Lipman Vilified

Rabbi Aharon Feldman
Rabbi Dov Lipman's politics are not everyone's cup of tea.

Rabbi Lipman has stated:

The Israeli government should not fund institutions which don't teach basic math and English.  Yeshivos which don't do so will not be closed down but they won't receive government funding. 

Apparently Rabbi Aharon Feldman, Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Yisrael, disagrees with Rabbi Lipman's policies about introducing secular studies to the Israeli Chareidi Yeshiva system.

This is Rabbi Feldman's right, of course, in an observer status from Baltimore in the USA.

Disagreeing with Rabbi Lipman's policy of encouraging secular studies within the Chareidi education system, could be a little inconsistent for the Rosh Hayeshiva of Ner Yisrael, as Ner Yisrael itself promotes secular learning in Universities and Colleges, in parallel to studying Torah in the yeshiva.

Rabbi Lipman, himself a graduate of Ner Yisrael, also studied Education at Johns Hopkins University.

And less anyone think this is a recent development or aberration, my father-in-law Rabbi Ephraim Kestenbaum, now a robust 86 years old, attended Ner Yisrael in the 1940's, and simultaneously studied Chemistry at Johns Hopkins, along with many other talmidim, and with the encouragement and bracha of the roshei yeshivo.

Be that as it may, I fully acknowledge and respect Rabbi Feldman's right to express his opinions from Baltimore on Israeli politics, and to argue against this or that policy.

However, I am totally flummuxed that the esteemed rav was recorded launching a vicious personal attack upon Rabbi Lipman himself.

Rabbi Feldman was recorded publicly referring to Rabbi Lipman as a "Rasha" (an evil person), "shona uperish" (someone who learned Torah but then separated/removed himself from it), and then drawing parallels with the scum of Jewish history - Haman (who tried to massacre every Jew) and Amalek (the eternal anti-G-d Jew-hater).

Rabbi Feldman also seems to have centrally misquoted Rabbi Lipman, saying Lipman "said on the radio that he will close all yeshiva katanos". Whether this quote was a mistake or deliberate, it is apparently not what Rabbi Lipman said: "Yeshivos which don't do so will not be closed down but they won't receive government funding." 

Such an insulting diatribe, based on a misquotation, would be barely acceptable even in the hyperbole of the Knesset.

Whereas Rabbi Feldman's attack was probably calculated to undermine Rabbi Lipman's orthodox credentials, IMVHO, the honour of the Rosh Yeshiva would be enhanced by issuing Rabbi Lipman a retraction, or correction, and a personal apology.


UPDATE: Rabbi Feldman has now issued an apology & retraction for defaming Rabbi Lipman. He has upgraded Rabbi Lipman from a "Rosha" (evil person) to a "shogeg" (mistaken/misguided) - which is indeed a major difference.

Kol Hakavod to Rabbi Feldman for having the backbone to retract!


  1. According to another (Baltimore-based) source that I saw through Facebook, Rabbi Feldman did indeed apologize for his comments, during a mussar shmuez on Erev Rosh Chodesh, for Yom Kippur Katan. See: http://baltimorejewishlife.com/news/news-detail.php?SECTION_ID=1&ARTICLE_ID=37783

  2. David,

    R' Feldman. issued a sort of apology.

    For this he is being lauded as a "gadol".

    A true gadol wouldn't have passed judgement without hearing the facts.

    A true gadol wouldn't have make apologies for
    inappropriate comments.

  3. Did Rav Feldman hear Rav Lipman's speech or was he commenting on what someone "told" him Rav Lipman had said? How often do "Gedolim" issue statements based on lies they are told and never bother to fact-check?
    There is another consideration: we too often equate extensive Torah learning with righteousness. Well there is no automatic connection between the two but all a person has to do to get called "tzadik" is quote a few pages of gemara by heart.


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