Religion Magazine

Rav Herschel Schachter on Har Habais, Techeiles and Kezayis

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
The Jewish Press has an interesting interview with Rav Heschel Shachter.
There are 3 points in the interview that are interesting to me (people interested in the female rabbi issue might be interested in that one as well).
1. Har Habayit:
There is a growing movement in Israel of frum Jews ascending Har Habyit after going to the mikveh. What’s your opinion on this movement?The Rabbanut said you’re not allowed to go on the Har Habayit. Now, the majority of the Jews in Eretz Yisrael are not shomrei mitzvos and are not really interested in what the Rabbanut says. In fact, they want to do away with the Rabbanut because it gives them problems – a kohen can’t marry a grushah, he can’t marry a mamzeres, hcan’t intermarry, etc. In Bnei Brak and Meah Shearim, they also couldn’t care less what the Rabbanut says. So you’re left only with the Modern Orthodox, the Dati Leumi, and now they too are ignoring the Rabbanut by going on the Har Habayit.
So the government will do away with the whole Rabbanut. What do you need it for? In Bnei Brak they don’t hold from them, in Meah Shearim they don’t hold from them, the overwhelming majority are secular, and the Dati Leumi are also not listening.
How do you go on the Har Habayis? We’re going to be responsible for the demise of the Rabbanut. It will be a disaster. As bad as the situation is now, it’s going to be worse if there’s no Rabbanut.
Haven’t you said in the past that one may, in theory, walk on certain parts of Har Habayis?Yes, but if the Rabbanut said you shouldn’t go, you have to listen to what they say. If they say a kula and you want to be machmirgesunterheit. But to be meikel against them I think is not right.
That is an interesting point he makes, and I don't dispute it (not that he needs me to agree or support his position). I would however suggest that if that logic works it raises an important question. If nobody is interested in the Rabbanut and nobody listens to the Rabbanut except for the Dati Leumi, and therefore they are obligated to follow the Rabbanut's decisions so the Rabbanut will not become completely pointless, why should we have a Rabbanut? According to Rav Schechter it is important to follow them in order to justify their existence, but really if the only people listening to the Rabbanut are one small sector of Israeli society, do we need a State body for this? Can we really justify the expense of the Rabbanut, let alone the need for the Rabbanut, if it is only just for the Dati Leumi community?
Another, more minor, question might be that not everyone going up to Har Habayit is Dati Leumi. There is an increasing number of Haredim ascending. So, do only Dati Leumi ascenders need to follow the Rabbanut's dictates on this and not ascend while Haredi ascenders can ascend, or do Haredi ascenders also need to stop? Furthermore, if Haredi ascenders don't listen to the Rabbanut anyway regarding anything else, why should/would they listen to the Rabbanut about this?
This is a minor question because the Haredi ascenders are a minority.   
2. kezayis of matza
Not long after Purim comes Pesach. Many people obsess over how much matzah they are supposed to eat at the Seder. Your definition of a kezayis, though, is rather smaller than what’s currently popular.I don’t know what’s popular. My father-in-law spent about two years by Rav Shimon Shkop rewriting the Shaarei Yosher. Rav Shkop asked the mashgiach from the Mir Yeshiva, Rav Yeruchom Levovitz, for a bachurwho had a nice style of Hebrew, so he sent my father-in-law. He was there about two years, so he ate the Seder by Rav Shimon Shkop. He said five boys ate a kezayis from one matza. That’s a pretty small kezayis.
Didn’t you once say a kezayis is the size of the palm of one’s hand?Rav Chaim Volozhiner says that.
So why do people think a kezayis is much larger than that?Exaggeration. They like to exaggerate about everything – l’hachmir and l’hakeil. Everybody exaggerates.
no comment necessary
3. techeiles
You are known as being in favor of wearing techeles nowadays. Why?It says in the Chumash that we should wear techeles.
But people claim we don’t know what authentic techeles is anymore.Okay, but there’s a very strong possibility that the [techeles produced by Ptil Tekhelet in Israel] may be the correct techeles, so if there is a possibility, safek d’Orasia l’chumra.
it is as simple as that
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