Rav Frand on the how to disagree and the paradigm of unity

In Rav Frand’s Teshuva drasha for this year (recorded live in Los Angeles on the first night of Selichos and available for purchase here), he discussed the need for unity on Yom Kippur and gave over an amazing story about Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld 

and Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kookwho both had very different ways of viewing both the state of Israel (at the time called Palestine), the Jews who lived there, and secular education.

Rav Frand said:

When Rav Kook and Rav Sonnenfeld went to the little communities, the little kubutzim up in the north, where they [the residents] ate chazair treif, they went together to bring people back to Yiddishkeit.  Baalei Machloches- they held each other were wrong, but they worked together.  They disagreed without being disagreeable and we have not learned to do that.  When we disagree, you’re invalid, not entitled to your opinion.  Their vehement machloches never devolved in animosity.


You know, Rav Kook and Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld were once invited to a bris.  Rav Yosef Chaim was to be the mohel and Rav Kook was supposed to be the zandek and they got to the shul at the same time.  Rav Yosef Chaim insisted that Rav Kook go in first, because he was a cohen.  Rav Kook insisted that Rav Yosef Chaim should go in, because he was a bigger person.  And they stood at the door frozen, they wouldn’t go until Rav Kook noticed that it was a double door and the left portion of the door was locked.  He reached in beside and pulled down the thing and they opened both doors simultaneously and they went in together.  That’s the paradigm [to how we should behave].

The entire shiur, Teshuva 2011 – Conflict Resolution: Within Our Community and Within Ourselves, is available for purchase and downloading on the Yad Yechiel website.

Any inaccuracies in this transcription are mine.  This is posted in zechus of a refuah shelayma for Reuven ben Tova Chaya and Miriam Orit bas Devorah. 

4 thoughts on “Rav Frand on the how to disagree and the paradigm of unity

  1. Garnel Ironheart

    Here’s the difference – all the great Gedolim who disagreed with Rav Kook and his circle knew that they were Yirei Shamayim and Talmidei Chachamim. Having reached a different conclusion didn’t disqualify them from that status. Rav Sonnenfeld, zt”l, could be a vehement anti-Zionist while recognizing that Rav Kook’s philosophy was based on heavy duty Torah knowledge and understanding.
    Today it’s the opposite. Sadly.

  2. Anonymous

    The journey referred to took place in 1913 (there are several published accounts of it). It was initiated by Benzion Yadler, the Maggid of Jerusalem. This was long before the enmity between Rav kook and R’Y H Sonnenfeld, which really started in 1919, when rav Kook returned from London (where he had been stranded by the outbreak of WW1. He was on his way to the Agudah Kenesiyah in Switzerland.. as a delegate of the Palestinian Agudah.) So rabbi frand’s story proves absolutely nothing.

  3. micha

    RYF glosses over the fact that their followers /did/ fight. We had/have some instances of gedolim who waged war against positions they felt were wrong, and those who held them. But far more common today are camps around the gedolim that include people trying to make trouble misrepretsing a statement made about ideas as a condemnation of people.

    In any case, any difference would only be among the gedolim. The hamon am fought then, and fight now.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *