Tuesday, May 26, 2020

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I was surprised to see a Jewish Link piece with a byline from Rav Soloveitchik z”tl (A New Transcription: Surrendering to the Almighty,” March 14, 2019). Of course, the Rav’s words are always illuminating, interesting and impactful. His teachings necessarily inspire and educate all of us, and we are so fortunate to benefit from his wisdom and example.

But I don’t think I’ve seen before a piece (or excerpted portions of a piece) from the Rav’s authorized works and essays re-printed in this newspaper and certainly none with his byline. Indeed, since the Rav’s passing over 25 years ago, there has been considerable controversy concerning the authorization, manner and extent of publishing recorded (appropriately or without permission) speeches, lectures and shiurim delivered by the Rav. The Jewish Link does not disclose whether the byline piece they published has been authorized as a Rav publication.

The Jewish Link also does not provide context information as to the type of presentation (i.e. manuscript for a public speech, shiur to talmidim, lecture to baalei batim or something else). It merely indicates that an online website, known as TorahWeb.org, transcribed the piece from an audiotape. TorahWeb (but not the Jewish Link) discloses that the piece contains “remarks” the Rav made in 1975 that “preceded a shiur to RIETS rabbinic alumni.” The shiur itself is not transcribed, and it is well known that these particular preliminary “remarks” related to a dispute between the Rav and another eminent Modern Orthodox rabbi and thinker.

Perhaps the newspaper should disclose why it felt the need to take the unprecedented step of publishing an excerpted (incomplete) transcript of extemporaneous 45-year-old “remarks” identified as an article “by the Rav” without explaining whether the piece has been authorized for publication and without describing the context in which the words were delivered.

Daniel D. Edelman