VIN Exclusive: Update On WZO Election Saga

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Rabbi Aharon Feldman of Yeshiva Ner Yisroel of Baltimore speaking at the Agudah Convention

NEW YORK (VINnews) — As reported by VINnews, Rabbi Aharon Feldman – the Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Yisroel of Baltimore – had vehemently opposed voting in the WZO elections and threatened to leave the Moetzes if Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky did not retract his support for voting. Subsequently, we reported that in a phone conversation with noted journalist Rabbi Yitzchok Hisiger of Lakewood, Rabbi Feldman said that he would defer to the ruling of Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, which was to vote.

Not long after, emails threads with Rabbi Feldman started circulating, in which Rabbi Feldman emailed that he has not changed his mind, and still considers voting in the WZO elections to be forbidden.

To shed some light on these events, VINnews has obtained an exclusive letter from Rabbi Yitzchok Hisiger which clarifies his phone conversation with Rabbi Feldman.

In addition, we will present an open letter from Rabbi Feldman on this topic.

PLEASE NOTE: VINNEWS DID NOT RECEIVE THIS LETTER DIRECTLY FROM RABBI HISIGER

The letter from Rabbi Hisiger reads as follows:

The following provides some context to my conversation with Rav Aharon Feldman, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Ner Yisroel.

Prior to our conversation, I had seen letters signed by Rav Feldman disseminated across Lakewood. One of the letters stated that Rav Elya Brudny withdrew his opinion regarding the WZO issue. I knew that Rav Brudny had never changed his position, which was why I reached out to Rav Feldman for clarification.

I tried to read Rav Feldman several times, but was unsuccessful. On Monday morning, when I called his house, his rebbetzin directed me to reach out to the rosh yeshiva at his office in the yeshiva. Indeed, I was able to reach the rosh yeshiva, who gave me of his time graciously and generously. I introduced myself and explained that I was calling to clarify what I had seen written in a letter ostensibly authored by him, stating that Rav Elya Brudny had withdrawn his opinion on voting in the WZO. I told the rosh yeshiva that I knew for a fact that Rav Brudny had never changed his opinion at any point, which was not consistent with what the letter had stated.

Rav Feldman responded that he did write the letter, and that what he stated in the letter was referring to a period in time when Rav Brudny had asked Rabbi Pesach Lerner to cease using his name in advertising for the cause. I did not press the issue further, but simply made clear that Rav Brudny had never changed his opinion on the matter, and that these letters were still being distributed and disseminated. Rav Feldman responded that there’s not much that can be done once a letter is out there.

At that point, I asked the rosh yeshiva if, once I was speaking to him, I could ask his opinion on the WZO matter following the publicizing of the opinion of Rav Chaim Kanievsky. He responded, “Who can argue with Rav Chaim Kanievsky…if that’s what he said.”

I commented that it sounded like the rosh yeshiva wasn’t certain that Rav Chaim had said what he was being quoted as having said. I continued by relating what is now widely known, namely, that in a letter to Rav Chaim Kanievsky – a letter whose contents I had personally confirmed – Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky laid out a case for not voting in the WZO, citing a number of issues, including the fact that voting in the WZO is not consistent with the mesorah of gedolei Yisroel, and the fact that in order to vote, one must become a member of the WZO and express affirmation of all that the organization stands for. Rav Chaim responded to Rav Shmuel, writing, “Nechonim hadevorim. Kedai meod lehatzbia.”

At this point, Rav Feldman told me, “I am mevatel my daas to Rav Chaim.”

We spoke further briefly, and he repeated, “I am mevatel my daas to Rav Chaim.”

[I must point out that at least one online news source picked up this quote that Rav Feldman told me and reported it without verifying it. They got the actual quote right, but that news outlet also stated that Rav Feldman “retracted” his opinion. That is not true. Rav Feldman did not retract his opinion in my conversation with him. He said unequivocally that he was mevatel his daas to Rav Chaim. There is a distinction between the two, and stating that Rav Aharon said anything other than what he actually told me is a misrepresentation. It was clear that despite Rav Feldman’s feelings to the contrary, he deferred to Rav Chaim on this matter.]

Kol tuv.

יצחק היזיגער
ח’ אדר תש”פ

The open letter from Rabbi Feldman is below:

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57 COMMENTS

    • The הוראת שעה does not include voting on shabbos…..But who knows? Anything can happen these days as long as the עסקנים will it…..

  1. Why is VIN removing every comment which seems to question the ligitamacy of the other side? Is VIN also on the payroll of them like another website?

    We need answers to the questions, not deleted comments.

  2. R’ elya brudny did remove his name and photo from this campaign. So what does it mean he didn’t change anything. He doesn’t want to be associated any longer. (Okay, he may personally still be in favor but he won’t do it publicly. So far, the only written opinions explaining the problem with voting, are coming from the opposition, where as the pro camp are hiding their letters and reasons for this dramatic change of opinion over the past decades.

  3. Reb Elya Brudny will never back down. He doesn’t know how to do that. He is still telling schools to tell parents to join this organization claiming to follow Reb Chaim’s letter which no body is allowed to see, which is in deference to Rabbi Feldman.

    So its Reb Elya Brudny vs. Rabbi Feldman in understanding Reb Chaim.

    I just got a misleading email with a picture of Pesach Lerner with Reb Chaim trying to make it look like Reb Chaim was behind this movement. This was so deceiving and false. That picture has nothing to do with this. Using Reb Chaim for this is a total disrespect for a true Gadol.

  4. Someone once asked Rabbi Belsky z”l about the kashrus of a certain product. He said not to eat it. They asked “But it has an OU on it and you are Mr. OU!” He answered, “I am Mr. OU? The OU asks me questions and I answer but I do not run the OU!”. This story is EXACTLY what’s going on with Rav Chaim. Rav Chaim is not running klal yisroel. He has no game plan like Rav Schach had or any other מנהיג. They ask him questions (by phrasing it they want and hiding what they don’t want) and he answers. They make him play with their rules. Anyone that understands anything about how these things run understands that that’s exactly what is happening. He never accepted the mantel of leadership and nor does he want it. He wants to learn and to be left alone.

    • Zeyr gut gezuckt.
      I would say it’s the same thing with the cancelled Lakewood bein hazmanim kumzitz last year. A couple of thugs think they own and run the yeshiva velt. These dangerous people have to be stopped.

  5. Based on the following article, which is at https://collive.com/after-israel-and-super-tuesday-comes-wzo-election, I don’t understand Rov Feldman’s understanding or knowledge (daas). I’m going to write him & include in my letter the following to see why he paskins the way he does, seemingly favoring opposing something (Zionism) instead of influencing it or using it for good instead of allowing it to harm us:

    Another upcoming election will have an impact on the Jewish community in Israel and America with almost $1 billion in annual funding to support Jewish causes that Frum Jews had little say about in the past. You can change that.
    FAQ about the upcoming WZC Elections
    I’ve been seeing a lot of ads and articles encouraging me to vote for the WZC.
    What exactly is it and what does it have to do with me?
    WHAT IS THE WZC?

    The World Zionist Congress (WZC) was first convened by Theodor Herzl in 1897, and has since become the ideological and policy-making body of the Zionist movement. It is the only democratically elected global Jewish forum and meets every five years to determine leadership and to influence the policies of Israel’s National Institutions; namely, the World Zionist Organization (WZO), the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemet LeIsrael (JNF), and Keren Hayesod.

    Together, these organizations allocate almost $1 billion in annual funding to support Israel and Jewish communities around the world.

    The 38th WZC will be held this year in Yerushalayim from October 20-22.

    I SUPPORT ERETZ YISROEL, BUT NOT THE “ZIONIST” MOVEMENT.

    WHY SHOULD I GET INVOLVED?

    500 delegates are elected to the WZC, divided between Israeli political parties and world Jewry. 152 delegates are elected from the US alone, a number which significantly impacts the balance of power at the congress.

    For the last election in 2015, Reform, Conservative, and liberal Jewish groups won the majority of American votes, mainly because the frum community did not turn out to vote. The fallout was that the religious community had no influence, control, or representation when it came to influence and the allocation of millions and millions of dollars in and for the state of Israel, resulting in the funding of several anti-Torah policies.

    Your vote is needed to ensure that Torah-true policies will be heard!

    WHAT IS MEANT BY “ANTI-TORAH POLICIES”?

    Delegates at the last WZC voted to direct large sums of money toward policies and projects which affect every Jew, no matter political affiliation, and severely disregarded Torah’s views. These included:

    Funding legal battles for egalitarian prayer areas at the Kosel
    Launching curriculums in Israeli public schools to teach pluralistic Judaism
    Promoting the absorption of halachically non-Jewish Russian immigrants
    Significantly decreasing MASA funding for Torah institutions
    Fighting to change the halachic process of marriage, divorce, and conversion
    Blocking the purchase of land in Yehudah and Shomron
    Your vote directly affects issues of shleimus ha’am and shleimus ha’aretz!

    WHAT SORT OF ISSUES WILL FRUM DELEGATES BE VOTING ON?

    Shleimus Ha’aretrz – Security of the yidden who live in and defend Yehuda, Shomron, and the Golan
    Mi Hu Yehudi – Eretz Yisroel welcomes all types of immigrants, but the definition of who is a Jew must be according to Torah
    Kedusha of the Kosel – Men and women have designated sections to daven at the Kosel. Votes will block movements to remove the mechitzah and allow women to read from the Torah.
    Chareidi in the IDF – Ability of government to enforce charaidi service in the IDF and what that experience will be like for the men and women who serve
    THESE FUNDS ARE ALSO DIRECTED TO JEWISH LIFE AROUND THE WORLD!

    Security against Anti-Semitism around the world – Allocation of funds and resources to shuls and schools for enhanced security measures.
    Allocation of MASA and other subsidies for students at frum yeshivos and seminaries.
    Programs for Jewish Youth around the world (ex. FSU and Russia) – The level of Judaism included and what role Chabad shluchim can play in these programs.
    Combatting Anti-Semitism on Campus – Utilizing resources for education and security on college campuses, and what role Chabad shluchim can play in these programs.
    WHY THE SUDDEN INTEREST IN THE WZC?

    Historically, Chabad does not take any positions on Israeli politics and the WZC elections. The last election changed religious life in Israel. Now the Reform movement, fearing the rising orthodox vote just sent out an email saying “They (the orthodox) fear that our victory would be critical in advancing religious pluralism…They are right to be afraid – because that is exactly what we intend to do!”. For that reason, some are making the personal choice to support one of the religious slates.

    Various slates have come forward to promote the frum voice at the WZC.

    These include Eretz HaKodesh (Slate #1) and the Orthodox Israel Coalition-Mizrachi (Slate #4), both are frum groups with values anchored in Halacha. The ZOA Coalition (Slate #11) is a right ring coalition that includes some orthodox Jews like Torah from Sinai.

    The slate with the broadest range of frum support is Eretz Hakodesh. It is spearheaded by Rabbi Pesach Lerner, former Executive Vice President of Young Israel. It is comprised of delegates representing the full gamut of the frum community. The Mizrachi Coalition is led by those committed deeply to advancing Torah in Eretz Yisroel

    HOW TO VOTE?

    Elections have already begun!

    And they will continue until March 11.

    Go to EretzHakodesh.org to register, then follow instructions to cast your vote.

    Voting takes just a few minutes!

    (You must be 18 to vote and without plans to vote for Israel Knesset. There is a $7.50 voter registration fee – $5 for 25 years and under).

    • Answer to your post is quite simple. Brisker Rov once asked what we should do if we knew Moshiach would come this second if we just transgress one small עבירה? Undoubtedly you and Rabbi Lerner and the עסקנים involved would say, “What’s the שאלה? It’s a הוראת שעה !” And that’s were you mistake is. As the Brisker Rov taught us, let Moshiach come in another 1,000 years and we will not transgress one עבירה!!!! Our job is not to dictate to Hashem how to run his world and make חשבונות for him. We are not אחראי to make sure Torah survives. We only have to keep his mitzvos and that includes making sure his Torah survives but not when it’s contrary to mitzvos. 120 years of mesorah dictates this until a bunch of thugs better known as Rav Chaim’s chatzer got involved and have destroyed everything,

      • Why should the Torah position on Zionism be the same after the state was founded in 1948 as it was before it existed?
        The Torah isn’t limited to extinct realities.
        Isn’t Zionism simply the general concept that Jews be left alone by the nations who’ve gravely harmed them many times in the past to reconstitute a commonwealth on the land God did give us?
        Once that has happened, once the state was declared in accordance with international law, which actually was supposed to happen shortly after the San Remo Conference in 1920,how is it Torah-good to not follow the halachic guidelines regarding protecting and defending the borders of Jewish cities (all of Israel being like borders were long ago)?
        I see something disturbing, btw. Notice that this World Zionist Congress is asking for every Jew with a stake in the welfare of Israel to participate in voicing their opinion on how things should be. While some gedolim simply continue a 120-year perspective that Torah Jews have to oppose the evil secular Jews’ organization, even though a great number of the delegates in 2015 were observant Jews.
        I just don’t understand the glass-half-full & strongly negative attitude all based on what? Where does the TaNaCh or Chazal say we shouldn’t protect and defend Jewish people in their cities? Or, to not protect Jewish observance?
        Does what Rabbi Feldman say about how frum people don’t have the numbers to influence accord with the following factual reality of how much influence observant Jews were able to mass in 2015? If many observant Jews being discouraged from participating were to participate in 2020, would we perhaps not have a majority of delegates in the WJC who are frum?
        Perhaps the idea of Rabbi Feldman that Rabbi Kanievsky is missing information is, on the contrary, Rabbi Feldman who is misinformed, instead.
        Judge for yourself.
        2015 World Zionist Election
        United States’ Election Results

        Slate Votes Seats
        ARZA – Reform Judaism 21,766 56
        Mercaz USA – Conservative Judaism 9,890 25
        Vote Torah: Religious Zionists 9,594 24
        American Forum for Israel 3,773 10
        HATIKVAH: Progressive Zionists 3,148 8
        ZOA 2,738 7
        Zionist Spring 2,696 7
        World Sephardic Organization 1,650 4
        Alliance for New Zionist Vision 735 2
        Green Israel 443 1
        Herut North America 304 1

        Compare the above with today’s slates below & imagine how many frum people we could elect,
        Eretz Hakodesh: Protecting the Kedusha and Mesorah of Eretz Yisrael
        Vote Reform: ARZA Representing the Reform Movement and Reconstructing Judaism
        Israel Shelanu (Our Israel)
        Orthodox Israel Coalition – Mizrachi: Vote Torah
        Vision: Empowering the Next Generation
        MERCAZ USA: The Voice of Conservative/Masorti Judaism
        Dorshei Torah V’Tziyon: Torah and Israel for All
        Hatikvah: Progressive Israel Slate
        Ohavei Zion: World Sephardic Zionist Organization
        Herut Zionists: The Jabotinsky Movement
        ZOA Coalition: Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), Torah from Sinai, Make Israel Great (MIG) & National Pro-Israel Partners – Courageously Defending Israel, Sovereignty & the Jewish People
        American Forum for Israel
        Americans4Israel: Unity, Peace & Security
        Kol Yisrael: For the love of Israel – Making Zionism Compelling in the 21st Century
        Shas Olami

        I’ve more thoughts, but I have to go.
        For those shallow ignoramuses posing as knowledgeable who do little other than call people apikorsim & assume they’re part of a cabal, you know what you can do and where you can go.

  6. Why are you writing Rabbi Feldman? If you would take the time to carefully read his letter, you will see how he disproves this propaganda.

    Besides for the fact the few delegates the from get will make zero impact, its all not frum gelt anyways. If they see their money is not going where they want it to go, they will funnel it there some other way.

    • Yes, Mr. J. We don’t want your reform treife money! The Brisker Rov used to say if we wouldn’t take money from Hitler we wouldn’t take money from apikurisim like yourself. Like Chazal teach us that someone who makes another sin is worse than killing them. We wouldn’t take money from Nazis so we shouldn’t take your filthy money as well. In another generation or two, you and your ilk will sadly drift into oblivion while we continue without you as a thorn in our side. So continue your “good work” into extinction. You are doing a “great job”….It might just bring Moshiach quicker…..(but you can always do teshuva…..)

  7. Who is paying and funding the advertising campaign for this? They have taken out multiple full page ads in many of the heimishe newspapers. They have also blinking ads on this website and others. All that cost a lot of money. Advertising is not done for free. Speak to Bloomberg about that. WHO IS PAYING FOR ALL THIS??? I’m not taking sides but anytime there is a heavy advertising campaign for an “important” inyan it raises my antennas. Kabdeihu vichashdeihu.

  8. Eretz HaKodesh is a lying groveling front group— R M. Becher omits his day job at YU but identifies himself by his night job at Gateways! These guys are horrible

    • You crack me up J…..First you talk about the good work of the WZO (i.e. the destruction of the Torah through the perversion of Reform) and then you complain of my “perverting the Torah”. I and my family will be around long time after you and yours will be long gone….Just look through history when “perverters” like yourself where relegated to the dustbins of Jewish history. I say this with sadness…..

  9. almost all gedolim said it cant be permitted and r chaim wasnt presented with correct information or he never would have permitted what all gedolim before him assured. Period! why lose your olam haba for nothing!

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