Monday, July 19, 2004

When Daas Torah Fails

One of my commenters (rightly) asked why I keep bringing up three examples of Daas Torah failing without providing elaboration. 
1) The Holocaust is the classic example, because some Jewish leaders told their followers not to leave Europe, but history has shown that their survival was best guaranteed by going anywhere.
2) Zionism.  It is less clear if it was correct to support it before WWII.  It is not clear if support by Gedolim would have made a significant difference in the founding of the State of Israel.  Since there were major Talmidei Chachamim who were clearly in favor Zionism, a position against is less justified.  Whether the fact that the State of Israel is the center of more Torah learning and Talmidei Chachamim than any other place in history in 1800 years, one can conclude that Zionism & the State of Israel was a worthwhile cause & to oppose Zionism was a mistake.
3) Russian Jewry.  Both the Gedolim & the Jewish leaders opposed loud communal action against those like the SSSJ who thought that loud public demonstrations could force the USSR to "Let My People Go."  Now, one can argue that they were following the old European model of quiet shadlanus (quiet backroom advocacy).  Or that they were no different than other Jewish leaders who didn't support public demonstrations.  However, this undermines the belief that Gedolim have special insight about what is the best public policy for the Jewish people.

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