הרב אבי וייס הוא אחר מהרבנים הכי פעילים והכי חשובים לא רק ביהדות אמריקה, אלא ביהדות העולם. הוא הכשיר מאות אם לא אלפי יהודים לתורה ולמצוות, והוא עובד במסירות נפש למען היהודים והיהדות בכל מקום שהם בסכנה. אני מכיר אותו אישית כאדם שזהיר במצוות קלה כבחמורה. נכון הוא שהרב וייס מכשיר נשים להיות מנהיגות בקהילות, אבל גם בזה נראה לי שיש לו על מי להישען ברמה ההלכתית.
Rabbi Avi Weiss is one of the most active and important rabbis not only in the American Jewry, but in the world Jewry. He has prepared hundreds if not thousands of Jews to observe mitzvot and the Torah, and he is devoted to Jews and Judaism in every place where they are in danger."
הרב דוד ביגמן :
"בהך דאלו ואלו דברי אלקים חיים כלול הוא היסוד כי גם השיטה הנדחית מהלכה דעת תורה היא, אם רק נאמרה לפי גדרי המשא ומתן של תורה שבעל פה" (הרב יצחק הוטנר, פחד יצחק, חנוכה ג)
מאז ומתמיד היו מחלוקות בהלכה, והדיון הפתוח הוא לשד החיים של תורה שבעל פה. רק בסטיה רבתית מהדרך נקטו ב"פסול גברא". אם פוסקים חלוקים על עמדה זו או אחרת של הרב וייס, אדרבה, שיחלקו עליה בחריפות ובשיח תורני ראוי. לא כך היא דרכה של תורה לפסול אדם על עמדותיו ההלכתיות ללא ציון מהן, וללא דיון בתוכנן ובתוקפן. מחלוקת ראויה, לא רק שאינה מזיקה לתורה, היא אף מגדילה תורה ומאדירה.
There have always been disputes over Halacha, and the open discourse is the vitality of the oral Torah. Only by significantly deviating from the road, scholars have rejected the owner of an unusual opinion rather than just his opinion.
If rabbinical authorities disagree about an opinion voiced by Rabbi Weiss, they should disagree about it strongly but through a proper Torah discourse. Disqualifying a person over his halachic opinions without even mentioning those opinions, and without discussing their content and validity, is not Torah's way. A proper dispute not only does not harm the Torah, it even increases its strength."
הרב יהודה גלעד:
בעידן שבו המאבק המרכזי של יהדות העולם בכלל ויהדות ארצות הברית בפרט הוא המאבק בהתבוללות, נדרשת הרבנות הראשית לישראל לעמוד לימין היהדות האורתודוכסית ובעיקר לימין זרם המורדן-אורתודוכס, הפועלים ללא לאות לקרב את קהילותיהם ליהדות, ולענות על השאלות ותהיות של הנוער. בחזית מאבק זה בקרב יהדות ארצות הברית עומד הרב אבי וייס, ופגיעה במעמדו היא טעות חמורה ואיוולת, ופוגעת במאבק החשוב של כולנו נגד ההתבוללות.
Rabbi Weiss stands at the forefront of this battle among the US Jewry
A serious and foolish mistake.
הרב דוד סתיו:
אפשר להתווכח עם כל מיני פסיקות של הרב אבי וייס, אי אפשר להתווכח על כך שכאשר הוא אומר על מישהו שהוא יהודי – אזי הוא יהודי. על פסיקות הלכתיות – בענייני גיור וכדומה, צריך ואפשר לדון, אבל לא ייתכן שתיפסל נאמנותו של רב המחויב להלכה להעיד על אדם מקהילתו שהוא יהודי".
It's unthinkable that the loyalty of a rabbi committed to Halacha will be rejected for testifying that a person from his community is Jewish. there was no reason not to discuss Rabbi Weiss' rulings– on conversion issues, for example – and disagree about them, but "one cannot argue that when he says that a person is Jewish – that person is not Jewish."
Rabbi Marc Angel:
Rabbi Avi Weiss has devoted his life to teaching and practicing Torah and mitzvoth. He has brought many Jews to Torah; he has inspired many Jews to take the Torah's teachings seriously and respectfully. He has sacrificed so much for the Jewish people, that it is difficult to think of any other Orthodox rabbi in America who has fought so long and so hard for Jewish rights, for Jewish honor, for the State of Israel, for oppressed Jews everywhere.
I believe that his critics are primarily motivated by their fear of Rabbi Weiss's dramatic success and influence. He clearly fosters a kind of Orthodoxy that is not Hareidi, not "yeshivish", and not authoritarian. He envisions an "open Orthodoxy" where people are encouraged to think, to ask, and to grow in their Torah lives. He is opposed by those who fear his strong stand in favor of ordaining Orthodox women as rabbis. He is opposed by those who dislike his cooperation with non-Orthodox Jews, including non-Orthodox rabbis. He is opposed by the "establishment" at YU who resent that he started his own Yeshiva/rabbinical school. His opponents do their best to marginalize him from Orthodoxy, even though he is proudly and totally within the Orthodox camp. They are afraid of change, of confronting new realities in new ways; Rabbi Weiss tries to deal with changing realities within the framework of halakha; but he does so with an open mind and with a desire to keep the Torah way of life as a living organism, not as a frozen fossil. Since people constantly fear "the slippery slope" they fear anyone who suggests changes in the status quo even when these changes are warranted within the framework of halakha.
Any rabbanim who disqualify Rabbi Weiss as an Orthodox rabbi are committing a terrible sin against Rabbi Weiss and against halakha. They are bowing to political pressure, personal antagonisms. Although they may cloak their opposition as being leShem Shamayim, it is precisely the opposite: it is a Hillul Shem Shamayim.
International Rabbinic Fellowship Statement
“IRF Strenuously Objects to Chief Rabbinate’s Characterization of Rabbi Avi Weiss”
The International Rabbinic Fellowship expresses its shock and anger over the Israeli Chief Rabbinate‘s casting aspersions upon Rabbi Avi Weiss’ fidelity to Halacha. Rabbi Weiss has been a distinguished leader within the American Orthodox community for decades, leading numerous Orthodox institutions, inspiring and teaching tens of thousands, and bringing multitudes closer to Torah and to their heritage. His mesirat nefesh (self-sacrifice) on behalf of the Jewish people and the State of Israel is legendary. His commitment to Halacha in his personal life and in his communal leadership is absolute, and any suggestion to the contrary is nothing less than slanderous.
We look forward to the Chief Rabbinate recognizing its error, reversing its position, and creating broader and more
reliable systems for determining the trustworthiness of American Orthodox rabbis.
Related to the Office of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate’s recent public questioning of Rav Avi Weiss's Orthodox credentials, Yeshivat ChoveveiTorah Rabbinical School has felt it is important to make an unequivocal statement in support of our founder:
Rabbi Avi Weiss is one of the leading Orthodox rabbis in America. His Orthodoxy and scrupulous adherence to halakha, both in his personal life and in his religious leadership, is absolute and beyond any doubt. His synagogue, the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, has been a model for the Orthodox community since its inception. His profound commitment to Torah and halakha, with all its depth and nuances, and his unflagging mesirat nefesh on behalf of Am Yisrael and Medinat Yisrael, are unquestionable.
We were therefore shocked and deeply troubled that the Office of the Chief Rabbi would cast doubts on this recognized and respected American Orthodox leader. We understand that the Office of the Chief Rabbi has based its decision on reports from “rabbis with roles in the RCA”.
We suggest that the Office of the Chief Rabbi question its sources in America—particularly those with “roles in the RCA” – and not Rabbi Weiss. We have spoken to the leadership of the RCA. They have denied making the statements attributed to them. Questioning Rabbi Weiss's Orthodox credentials is an offense not just to him, but to the entire American Orthodox rabbinate.
We ask for a clear statement by the Office of the Chief Rabbi apologizing for their unacceptable misunderstanding.
Rav Asher Lopatin
President, Yeshivat Choevei Torah RabbinicalSchool
Rav Dov Linzer
Rosh HaYeshiva, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School
Statement from Past Rabbis of HIR – The Bayit
The Honorable Chief Rabbis of Israel
Rabbi David Lau and Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef
Yahav House, 80 Yirmiyahu Street, Jerusalem, P.O. Box 36016, Postal Code 91360,
Tel: 02-5313114, Fax: 02-5799361
Dear Rabbis Lau and Yosef,
It is with great disappointment and sadness that we write to you.
We are all rabbis who have been ordained by Yeshiva University and now serve as rabbis in Orthodox synagogues throughout the United States.
We have all also had the great privilege of serving in the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in an assisting role to the head rabbi of the congregation, Rabbi Avi Weiss. Each of us learned a great deal about the rabbinate by serving in the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale at the feet of Rabbi Weiss and as a consequence we have gone on to be rabbis in major Orthodox synagogues across the country and in Israel.
How sad to see that you now have a new policy of no longer believing that Rabbi Avi Weiss is Orthodox enough for your office. No longer do you believe him about a person’s status as it relates to his Jewish identity.
It pains us to say that we protest against this hurtful and dangerous decision. We fear that your policy change is more reflective of rabbinic politics in America and the customs of individual communities and not at all reflective of halakhah and the Shulchan Arukh. You are placing politics above Torah and inserting politics into the lives of innocent people
On the basis of second hand information (from unidentified people) you have overturned a policy of accepting Rabbi Weiss’ testimony, a policy that has been in place for over forty years!
We feel that your decision was one-hundred-percent wrong. It was also reckless and not based upon sufficient due diligence and careful reasoning. As a consequence you have defamed the reputation of Rabbi Weiss and the thousands upon thousands of people who associate with him and his congregation and his students.
We feel you owe it to the people of Israel and to the Jewish people—the Jewish communities across the United States—to do better. We urge you to change your policy as it relates to Rabbi Weiss in particular and in general to as it relates to how you define and accept testimony of Jewish identity from rabbis in synagogues across the United States.
United Orthodox Synagogues
Ohev Sholom—The National Synagogue
B’nai David-Judea Congregation
Los Angeles, California
Hebrew Institute of White PLains
White Plains, NY
B’nai Israel Congregation
Young Israel of Toco Hills