Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Guardian of Jerusalem or... Part 2 - HaLevanon petitions

In the last post, I showed how many reports portray RYCS as a moderate zealot, by this term, I woud refer to someone who can disagree politely and cordially, whereas the radical actions were taken by zealots surrounding him without his permission. I would like to bring reports regarding an earlier controversy* relating to R Chaim Hirschenson, as well as some correspondence with Halevanon that shows a somewhat different side of RYCS.

At the age of 31, RYCS was one of the signatories on a letter to the editor of HaLevano, R Marcus Lehman complaining of an article stating that a person that doesn't know the language of his home country is "no better then an animal". The letter was published in HaLevanon with a response by the second editor of HaLevanon, R' Y Brill. This article and the ones that follow (HaLevanon July 30, Sept. 17, and Oct. 1 1880) contain much highly interesting information on the old yishuv of the time. Brill doesn't mince any words, and responds quite harshly. He says that Maharil Diskin because of his lack of worldliness, was easily manipulated by Kannoim, who deceived him as to the nature of the Arabic language, hence his ban on learning Arabic (An interesting side point is the claim (in a different article on the same page), that the wife of Maharil Diskin was responsible for all sorts of quarrels, etc. The same had been claimed about the wife of Yeshuas Yaakov as well (see J. Perl in Tarbitz, On Joseph Perl's Even Bochen.)

We also have the same complaint, also put forth by the R YI Halevy, the Dorot Rishonim in his letters to R Kook (analyzed here - in sum because there is no elite as everyone was learning, and no reward for genius, as opposed to Eastern Europe where only the elite studied and everyone else worked. I believe the same problem exists in contemporary society as well.) that Yerushalayim produces no Gedolim, ad all the Gedoim (R Shmuel Salant, Maharal Diskin) were "imported" from Europe. We also have various interesting facts on the knowledge of languages of the Gedolei Yerushalayim.

Returning to R Sonnenfeld, the issue of learning languages was one of such importance that he either joined (and was very likely the instigator) of a petition to HaLevanon, that may (although this was never fully clarified) have actually used forged signatures to support their project.

Brill in his rather nasty response, actually cites reports in regards to R Sonnenfeld (who was of course of no great importance at that time) from his youth in Hungary that he was "משוגע ממש ובימי הקיץ שומר נפשו ירחק ממנו וגם בימי החורף הו מסוכן כאחד הדערוושים

This is obviously a nasty piece of slander (I really don't know what the Dervish reference is supposed to mean) but I assume it does tell you that RCS was already quite a Kannoi back in Hungary.

[I now see that in האיש על החומה .V 2 Pg. 242 a letter from R Shmuel Salant to Brill is cited (I cannot tell if the whole letter is quoted as there are some ellipses) condemning his language against R YCS whose actions are L'Shem Shamayim, although I don't agree with him...). I also see in HaLevanon of Sept. 7 1881 a letter from the grandson of R Shmuel Salant concerning Maharil Diskin and the Kanoim.]

* There is another Cherem against R Chaim Hirschenson that has as yet not been recorded:

(Machzikei HaDas 4, November 1886)

The signature of R Shmuel Salant is almost certain forged. For R Shmuel Salant was "known for his moderation and liberal-mindedness" (Memoirs of Childhood, by RCH's daughter Nima Adlerblum pg, 197, the same book described R Shmuel Salant's relationship with her family as positive), and we will see in the letter from RCH cited within that Kannoim would cite R Salant without his permission.


Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

I don't get the precise nuance of the dervish thing, but Google Booking "fanatical dervish" or "dervish fanatic" turns up quite a number of results. In general, "Turk" seems to have been some kind of insult or slur, so I guess even worse than a "Turk" was a fanatical Turk, ie, a dervish.

Fotheringay-Phipps said...

He's referring to the youth of a guy who was then 31, so he must have been pretty young at the time. He apparently moved to Jerusalem at the age of 24, so anything he did before that time would have been at that age or younger.

And note that this guy Brill seems to have been something of a hothead himself (had RYCZ have written those lines about someone you would be using them to prove that he (RYCZ) was an extreme zealot). So what you have is a hothead claiming that RYCZ was a kannoi in his early 20s. Nu nu.

Wolf2191 said...

You will see what I am trying to do when I get to the 3rd part. BTW, I am not C"V trying to attack RYCS in anyway. I'm just trying to get a picture of him. There are some reports of manipulation,but others in which its clear that he was an active kannoi, and still other that he actually claims to have been manipulated but it seems that he wasn't.

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