An Ideal “Balebos”

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  1. Samuel Svarc says:

    My understanding of him is more nuanced. IIRC his children weren’t Shomer Shabbos, you write that he supported the Alliance, which was anti-orthodox and pro assimilation, as well as Achad Haam. There is a pattern here.

    Further, the government thought that R’ Yisroel Salanter might be amenable in assisting their plans to reform Yahadus in Russia (a possible reason why he spent a large part of his life out of Russia) obviously they were wrong but such a mistake was possible, point one. Rav Yaaqov Maze”h is another Rav that can be thought of in this light, IIRC more correctly in his case, point two. There is a further pattern here.

    Before supporting someone as the ideal “Balebos” I would want to see these points addressed.

    Until then I nominate Dr. Grunfeld, a practicing lawyer who a few years after he moved to England became Dayan Grunfeld a Dayan on the London Beis Din, better known as translator of Horeb. Or Reb Reuven Dov Dessler, a talmid of the Alter of Kelm, who became a wealthy timber merchant. Oh, he also temporarily ran the Kelm Yeshiva after the Alter was niftar, and his children *were* Shomer Shabbos, like R’ Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler, the Michtav M’Eliyahu.

    A link that mentions the Alliance tangentially: – Very sad and shows the kesher of a Jew to EY.

    A link about the educational theory of Allaince schools:

    A link about Rav Mazeh:

  2. Neil Harris says:

    Samuel, if we are following a derech of looking to see “what is wrong” in people, then RYS also had a son that didn’t follow our path of Torah u’Mitzvos.

    Micha pointed out excellent accomplishments that one person, with a full time job, was able to make happen. For me that’s chizuk.

    I am very curious what Reb Kalman Wolf’s relationship was like with his own children. For me that’s the real deal breaker.

  3. Samuel Svarc says:

    Neil, I’m confused how you made the leap that someone who responds to a post extolling a personality with some added information is looking for faults. Are we to live without thought, just accepting the profiles presented or else be condemned as fault seekers? You can just as easily be accused of supporting assimilationist tendencies by supporting RKWW as an ideal. I consider this a form of rhetorical blackmail and object to its use in the discussion.

    I agree that a person’s children not following Torah and Mitzvos is not a complete or consistently reliable indication, but the term I used was “pattern”. Further, my goal was that these patterns should be addressed before using him as a role model, as I stated explicitly. Do you have any further information or explanations in that light? That is what I was hoping to elicit.

    Let me ask you, Reb Reuven Dov Dessler was a wealthy balebos, who also happened to be a major TC and Baal Mussar. His son was raised to become a TC and Baal Mussar as well, in a warm family environment. RKWW was richer and RRDD had better children. What is your objection to using him as the ideal?

    Finally, I’m certain that you have standards as well; would you consider someone who personally didn’t keep Shabbos as “ideal”? You’re quibbling with standards that someone who failed to live up to ‘lman asher ytzave banov vbnei baysoh achrov’, someone who financially supported schools that ‘shmad up’ thousands of Jews in the 1800’s, someone who supported a secular Zionist’s agenda, etc. is not “ideal”. Color me unimpressed with your objection.

    • micha says:

      Whether or not supporting the Alliance was a good idea…

      RKWW was mosir nefesh for the Cantonists, literally risking his life to bring them Torah clandestinely. That’s what he did begufo, and what his children saw. His work in Chovevei Tzion brought him in constant contact with gedolei Torah. The fact that he donated money to secular Zionists was not the father his children primarily saw. Once you start playing guesswork, maybe it’s indicative of never having found the right work/home balance. Or maybe, as R’ Yisrael himself learned, it was simply a time of massive exodus and kids were leaving regardless of who their parents were.

  4. Neil says:

    RRDD was, perhaps, a role model for many.
    My issue, which clearly wasn’t expressed properly, was that if we are to judge a frum role model based on having Shomer Shabbos kids then we wil have to have to cross out many Rabbonim.

    That was the only point in your original comment that rubbed me the wrong way.

  5. nachum j stone says:

    “R’ Zvi Hirsch Mohliver”

    that’s not one person

  6. Ze'ev Smason says:

    Fascinating post and comments. Thank you! I came here in search of some information about RKWW, from whom I’m descended. Where did you obtain this biographical information? I see that mention in the comments were made about his children. Can you direct me to sources indicating who his children were? Kol tuv — Ze’ev Smason

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