Washington’s Obsession with Israel
The American obsession with Israel is simply astounding. For some reason, the smallest country in the Middle East is an issue of major interest to the United States, which has plenty of other things to worry about as well. Last week, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced that the former American ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, would be appointed as a special envoy of the American government to expand the Abraham Accords. “I am happy to announce that former US ambassador Daniel Shapiro will be joining the State Department as a senior advisor for regional integration,” Blinken wrote. “Dan will support US efforts to advance a more peaceful and interconnected region, deepen and broaden the Abraham Accords, and build the Negev Forum.” Shapiro was US ambassador to Israel from 2011 through 2017, under the Obama administration. He continued living in Israel after the end of his period of service and worked as a researcher for the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. From August 2021 through March 2022, Shapiro worked in a position defined as “part-time senior advisor” for the Department of State and was an advisor to Rob Malley, the United States Special Representative for Iran. If I may add this, it should also be noted that Shapiro is a fan of the Reform movement.
Meanwhile, President Yitzchok Herzog has scheduled a trip to Washington. Two weeks ago, I wrote that it was a possibility under discussion, but the plan has now been finalized, and he is scheduled to address the members of Congress on July 19. This news comes by way of an official announcement last Thursday from Kevin McCarthy, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who issued his announcement in conjunction with Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader of the Senate, and Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic minority leader of the House of Representatives. McCarthy noted that the invitation to Herzog marks the 75th anniversary of Israel’s independence and serves to stress the importance of the special bond between the two countries. I suspect that he forgot to mention that the invitation had one other purpose: to cause Netanyahu to explode with indignation at being snubbed. Or perhaps it was to antagonize President Biden….
Herzog Weighs In on the Draft Law
There is another piece of news concerning President Herzog that is somewhat more important than his trip to Washington: He is attempting to solve the problem posed by the draft law. The current law exempting yeshiva bochurim from military service expired this Sunday, July 2, after an extension granted by the judges came to an end. In principle, that means that every yeshiva bochur in the country is now technically subject to conscription. As a temporary fix for this problem, the cabinet decided to grant Defense Minister Yoav Gallant the authority to sign a temporary exemption from the draft for yeshiva bochurim and kollel yungeleit, which will remain in effect until March 31, 2024. By order of the Supreme Court, the extension can be only temporary in nature and is limited in validity to half a year. It is hoped that a new draft law that is acceptable to all concerned will be passed by the time it expires.
The leaders of the chareidi parties are pressuring Netanyahu to pass a law that they will find acceptable and that the judges of the Supreme Court will not be able to strike down. Their initial goal was to have the Knesset pass an override clause, which would eliminate the judges’ ability to overturn laws passed by the Knesset. Since that effort failed, they are suggesting the passage of a Basic Law: Torah Study, which would enshrine the draft exemption in a law that is supposedly immune to judicial intervention. President Herzog, meanwhile, is making his own effort to resolve the issue, which has given us the so-called president’s outline, which states, “A consensus will be reached on a legal arrangement for military service or national civic service. The main points of the outline will be enacted in an amendment to the Basic Laws and therefore will be immune to judicial review.”
In recent weeks, Prime Minister Netanyahu has conducted a series of discussions about the new draft law with the leaders of the chareidi parties: Aryeh Deri, Moshe Gafni, Yitzchok Goldknopf, and Meir Porush. Netanyahu, who is mainly concerned that passing an override clause will reignite the protests that rocked the country, was unwilling to consider enacting an override clause in the current Knesset session. And on that note, are you wondering how we know what Netanyahu is willing to do? This information comes from his interview with the Wall Street Journal….
In any event, there was a single consensus in the room: A new draft law must be passed based on President Herzog’s outline.
Lieberman’s Special Day
The following sad story from the Knesset should yield some insight into the depth of animosity toward the chareidi public. Last Tuesday, the Knesset held a special discussion in honor of the Day of Equality in Sharing the Burden, an initiative of MK Yvette Lieberman. I remarked in a previous column that the Knesset secretary should never have allowed the day to be announced in the first place; the institution of “special days” in the Knesset is meant to draw positive attention to a person, a group, or a phenomenon. Thus, the Knesset has observed occasions such as Cancer Patient Encouragement Day, Negev Day, or Environmental Protection Day. This week, the Knesset will also hold a special day of recognition for chessed organizations that combat hunger, on the initiative of MK Avrohom Betzalel and the Shas party. Lieberman, however, exploited the institution of “special days” to hold a provocative and divisive discussion in an effort to foment further hostility and resentment. This is something that should never have been approved by the Knesset secretary. In fact, a number of politicians appealed to the secretary to cancel the discussion, and his absurd response was that the cancellation would only attract greater attention.
As could be expected, Lieberman was the most militant and hostile of the speakers. At the same time, it was strangely pleasurable to listen to him, if only because he unwittingly conveyed some good news. “The issue of equality in sharing the national burden has been accompanying Israeli society since the founding of the state,” he said. “The agreement that Ben-Gurion made with the Chazon Ish when the country was first founded was for 400 talmidei yeshivos to be exempt from military service. Today, there are 170,000 people studying in the various yeshivos and kollelim, and about 60,000 of them are between the ages of 28 and 67.” Well, Lieberman might not have meant it as a compliment, but that alone is reason for us to give thanks to Hashem.
Another speaker did point out that it was not appropriate to dedicate a special day in the Knesset to a controversial subject, and a third Knesset member mocked the entire concept of equal sharing of the burden. “Is there equality even among the soldiers themselves?” he asked rhetorically. Obviously, some soldiers in the IDF carry a far greater share of the burden than others.
I was also pleased when Katy Sheetrit of the Likud called out, “What about Yedidim? What about Yad Sara, Ezer Mizion, and Zichron Menachem? All of these are wonderful organizations. Aren’t they sharing the burden? Do they not exist?”
Sharon Nir of Yisroel Beiteinu snapped at her, “Are you serious, Katy?”
“They also contribute to the state,” Sheetrit insisted. “Enough with this hatred of yours. It will only lead to destruction.”
But let us return to Lieberman’s speech. “In the current Knesset, I submitted a bill for universal mandatory service,” he said. “The bill was defeated because the members of the current coalition are vying to ingratiate themselves with the askanim of Shas and UTJ and are compromising on values that they were promoting not long ago. I promise you that I, unlike them, will continue acting to defend the values and principles on which the State of Israel was founded, and I will fight for complete equality in sharing the burden, without subterfuge or tricks of any kind.” Lieberman’s harangue continued with some caustic criticism of “idlers” and “draft dodgers.”
It was somewhat amusing to hear Lieberman speak sanctimoniously about adhering to principles and values. MK Eliyohu Bruchi responded with some pointed references to Lieberman’s history of flipflopping and to the reversals made by his party, Yisroel Beiteinu, from the right to the left and back. Avi Maoz likewise took to the podium, but his speech ignored Lieberman and focused on America instead. And the Shas party decided to boycott the Knesset session altogether. In any event, after Bruchi’s speech, Lieberman asked for permission to make a “personal statement,” which is the right of any Knesset member who feels that he has been personally offended by an address in the Knesset. To my surprise, the chairman granted his request. Lieberman returned to the podium and immediately made it even clearer that the approval of the special event had been a dreadful mistake. “Mr. Speaker,” he announced, “I heard MK Bruchi’s slanderous comments, and I have good reason for saying that he, along with all the other members of Shas and United Torah Judaism, are the real fakers of Judaism. They are distorting Judaism and its sources. Where is it written that it is prohibited to fight in the army?”
Bruchi didn’t slander Lieberman at all; he merely criticized him. Nor did he utter a word about whether it is permissible or prohibited to join the army. Lieberman took advantage of his right to a personal response to compound his previous offenses. First, it was Dan Marzouk, the secretary of the Knesset, who played into his hands, and this time it was Nissim Vaturi, who was chairing the session.
A Frightening Incident at the Airport
This past motzoei Shabbos, Israel was gripped by anxiety when a United Airlines flight that took off from Ben-Gurion for a flight to Newark was forced to return to Israel due to damage to the plane. Rumor had it that the plane was in danger of disintegrating and that the lives of the passengers were in danger. Everyone anxiously monitored the news as the plane turned toward the sea to release its fuel. Hundreds of ambulances were massed at the airport, waiting for the plane to land, and an emergency situation was declared.
At 12:16 a.m., the Airports Authority announced that a state of emergency had been declared and that the United Airlines flight, which was carrying 339 people, was returning to the airport due to a broken window. The plane was due to land about 21 minutes later. Five minutes later, at 12:21 a.m., the Fire and Rescue Service released a statement of its own: “An aerial emergency has been declared at Ben-Gurion Airport on account of a United Airlines plane that took off from the airport for a flight to Newark in the United States. A broken window has forced the plane to return to Ben-Gurion Airport. The plane is carrying approximately 339 people. Seven firefighting teams and two command vehicles are waiting for the plane to land. Assistant Deputy Fire Commissioner Oren Shishitzky and the deputy assistant chief of staff for operations for the central district are present at the scene. All of the teams are waiting for the plane to land in five minutes. Further updates will be sent if necessary.”
The country monitored the situation tensely. We had been told that the passengers were in a state of panic; the oxygen masks had been released and the passengers had been instructed to put them on. At 12:58, an official announcement from the Fire and Rescue Service confirmed what everyone had seen or heard through the media: The plane had landed safely.
Codeshare Agreement Between El Al and Delta
In other news related to air travel, here is a development that might interest those of you who travel from America to Israel: El Al and Delta Airlines have announced a new strategic partnership that will include code sharing on flights between Israel and the United States, as well as the possibility of transferring to connecting flights offered by both carriers. This collaborative agreement, the broadest and most significant signed by El Al to date, will make it possible for the company to increase its seating options and the frequency of flights to its destinations in America, to expand its network of flight routes by including Delta’s flights, and to offer greater value to a broader spectrum of passengers, such as by offering a wider variety of flight times on every day of the week. The agreement between the companies will include expanding the variety of services provided to its first-class passengers and will later include membership in clubs that will enable each airline’s frequent fliers to use their points on the other company’s flights.
Customers of both airlines will be able to enjoy more options of flights between Tel Aviv and the United States with flights operated by both airlines, and thus will be able to enjoy greater frequency of connecting flights throughout North America on Delta’s extensive flight network, which includes direct flights to New York, Boston, and Atlanta. Customers who buy tickets for flights on both airlines will be able to check in once for the entire journey, including printing boarding passes for their connecting flights at their points of origin and having their luggage tagged for the entire trip to their final destination. Delta is offering up to 200 connecting flights every day from all of its destinations in the United States, while El Al offers its customers a wide range of direct flights to Tel Aviv from Los Angeles, Miami, Boston, JFK, and Newark.
El Al announced, “We are happy to offer our customers new ways to discover exciting destinations across the ocean through our partnership with Delta. This agreement is a significant milestone in our long-range strategic plan and offers our customers a significant upgrade in the overall value proposition, including a broader and more varied schedule of flights, the opportunity to accumulate and use frequent flier miles from both carriers, and special value offers for our luxury class customers. Delta is one of the leading airlines in the world, and we consider the connection between our two airlines to be both natural and exciting, for our customers and for us as well.”
Personally, I do not travel often and I do not know much about the air travel industry, but I am happy for you, my American readers, if this will benefit you on your travels.
The Ohr Hachaim’s Yahrtzeit on Har Hazeisim
I am not sure if I mentioned this in the past, but both the Ministry of Religious Services, headed by Michoel Malchieli, and the Ministry of Yerushalayim Affairs, headed by Meir Porush, announced that they would be willing to take responsibility for the hillula of the Ohr Hachaim this Tuesday. The Ministry of Religious Services ultimately received control of the event, and the ministry soon released a statement: “The preparations have been completed for tens of thousands of mispallelim to participate in the hillula of the Ohr Hachaim on Har Hazeisim. The Cemeteries Council has advised us that access to the tziyun will be possible only via public transportation. Transportation will begin operating in the afternoon hours today until 1:30 a.m, and throughout the day of the hillula. This year, along with all the arrangements that have been made in recent years to guarantee the security of the mispallelim, special large, shaded platforms have been constructed. Likewise, ushers from the chareidi community will be stationed in the area to preserve order and to make it possible for the large crowd to come to daven at the tziyun on the day of the hillula. The goal was to enable all the mispallelim who wish to come to the kever to do so without limitation, while observing all the rules that are necessary to prevent danger. During a tour of the area, the issue of protecting the mispallelim from a security standpoint was also raised. The Israel Police Force has presented all the necessary plans to approve the hillula.”
Rabbi Tzuriel Krispel, director-general of the Cemeteries Council, added his own public statement: “I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in this work and everyone who has arranged for budgeting for the hillula. That funding will make it possible for tens of thousands of mispallelim to come and daven on the day of the hillula of the Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh. This year, shaded areas have been erected for the benefit of the public, and ushers have been selected from the religious community. I ask the public to obey the ushers’ instructions, and I hope that all of our tefillos will be accepted in the merit of the Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh.”
The police added a statement to the chorus as well: “The Yerushalayim district of the Israel Police Force has completed its preparations for the hillula of the Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh, which will be organized by the Cemeteries Council on Har Hazeisim in Yerushalayim. The hillula will begin on the night of Monday, the 14th of Tammuz/July 3 and will continue until Tuesday, the 15th of Tammuz/July 4 at night. Hundreds of police officers from the Yerushalayim district and Border Guard officers, assisted by ushers, will be deployed in the area of Har Hazeisim and at the kever itself to preserve order and security and to direct traffic while limiting the disruption to routine in the area as much as possible. The goal will be to ensure that the visitors expected at the kever during the hillula will be able to come and go safely.”
Believe me: It would be better if there wasn’t a single police officer there….
The State Sets Its Sights on Mount Meron
On a related note, the Ministry of Yerushalayim Affairs and Jewish Heritage announced that it is beginning the preparations for the hillula in Meron on Lag Ba’omer of 5784. That is a welcome development. A more controversial development was reported last week in an announcement made by the Ministry of Justice:
“An announcement has been made by the attorney general: Deputy Attorney General (for civil law) Carmit Yulis and Deputy State Prosecutor (for civil matters) Orit Kotev, with the approval of all the relevant professionals in the government ministries, are recommending restarting the process of expropriating the site of the kever of Rabi Shimon bar Yochai as soon as possible, so that the ownership of the site will be transferred to the state. They also recommend formulating an arrangement for the management of the site immediately after the expropriation, including designating a government official to manage the site. The kever of Rabi Shimon bar Yochai is one of the most significant sites for the Jews in Israel and is second only to the Kosel Hamaaravi in the volume of visitors it receives. For many years, the site has not been managed appropriately, and in light of its importance, the expropriation process began in the year 2007. These efforts were redoubled after the tragedy in Meron. In light of the serious, ongoing deficiencies in the management of the site, a number of discussions have been held in recent years regarding whether the site of the kever of Rabi Shimon bar Yochai should continue being managed under the same temporary framework. During these meetings, it was determined that the temporary agreement for the management of the kever, which was given the status of a judicial ruling, is not being fulfilled satisfactorily, and that there are serious deficiencies in the way the site is being managed.
“A letter sent to the Minister of Religious Services and the Minister of Finance stated that there is significant difficulty in managing the site in a beneficial way when there are private entities, who are not part of the government, who lay claim to the rights to manage the site. In addition, there are dramatic advantages to uniform management by a public entity appointed by the state. This advantage is manifested in several aspects, including the management of processes for the removal of trespassers to expand the areas accessible to the public, developing infrastructure and issuing permits to improve the area available for public use, insurance for management of the site through a central agency on behalf of the state, and budgeting of the site for the purpose of further developing it. This letter followed a letter from the directors-general of the Ministry of Religious Services and the Ministry of Finance sent to the private hekdeshos that manage the site, which gave them the opportunity to present their arguments against the government’s decision to restart the expropriation process. Even after the responses of the hekdeshos were received, the professional recommendation to continue the expropriation process still stood, for the reasons delineated in the letter. In light of the above, Deputy Attorney General Carmit Yulis and the deputy state prosecutor have recommended renewing the expropriation process as soon as possible, thus continuing the policies of the previous government ministers who gave instructions for the expropriation to take place.”
This is the statement that was issued to the public today. In short, the government is planning to take control of Meron and the site of Rabi Shimon bar Yochai’s kever. I can already sense the imminent conflicts in Meron that will result from this move.
Avigdor Maoz Responds to Snub from the American Embassy
As I mentioned, when Avi Maoz addressed the Knesset during Yvette Lieberman’s special discussion about equality in sharing the burden, he brought up an entirely different topic. “Mr. Speaker,” he began, “with your permission, I would like to deal with a different subject. Yesterday, it was reported that the American embassy in Yerushalayim has been discriminating between the government ministers and members of the Knesset, and that only some of them have been invited to the official ceremony marking the American Independence Day. I, as a representative of the Noam party, am not among the list of honored invitees, presumably due to my political views and beliefs. I would like to publicly address the American ambassador: Mr. Ambassador, for one thing, I am very proud to be on the side of Prime Minister Netanyahu, against whom you have been maintaining an unprecedented sort of boycott. You have not invited him to the White House, in spite of your proud claims to maintain a strong friendship and alliance with the State of Israel. If you think that the values of the elected prime minister of the State of Israel and of the majority of the Israeli citizens who elected him are antithetical to your democratic values, then I am proud to side with Netanyahu and with the majority of the people of Israel.
“Second,” Maoz continued, “you have been claiming repeatedly that you share the same values with us. These values are what you believe give you the license to criticize internal Israeli legislative processes and seem to be the reason that you are not inviting my colleagues and me to the ceremony in honor of your Independence Day. For your information, Mr. Ambassador, I share some of my values with Americans such as Florida governor Ron DeSantis, who did not give into the silencing perpetrated by the regressive movement of progress. I will do everything in my power to see to it that the regressive progressives in the State of Israel do not run amok as they are doing in America….
“Mr. Ambassador, today I visited the Kiddush Hashem Archive in Bnei Brak. I saw the amazing exhibits that bear witness to the dedication of Jewish people to their Jewish identity at the time of the Holocaust. That is where I come from: My grandfather, my grandmother, and four uncles were incinerated in Auschwitz, and my very existence reminds me that we established this country so that we would have a Jewish state. That is the reason that we will not allow this progressive madness and utter abnormality, which are running rampant in America, to take over our society as well.”
Milchan Isn’t Providing the Goods
Arnon Milchan’s testimony in England has continued to disappoint the prosecution. They hoped that he would give them the narrative they needed to convince the judges to convict Prime Minister Netanyahu, but it is only having the opposite effect. (As if it wasn’t enough for them that the judges have already advised them to drop the bribery charges against Netanyahu! This week, incidentally, a former state prosecutor denounced the judges for this comment and accused them of “bombing” the indictment. You see, as soon as the judges stop dancing to the tune of Bibi’s enemies, they are declared to be corrupt!) Milchan informed the court in his testimony that he never asked Netanyahu for any benefits for his business interests, and that even if he had made such a request, he knew that Netanyahu would never have agreed to it. He also emphasized that Netanyahu did not have the ability to help him extend his visa to the United States and that the premier did not provide any assistance at all. Justice Moshe Baram asked Milchan if he had expected Netanyahu to assist him or he had made any request of that nature, and Milchan replied, “I asked if there was anything he could do to help me, and he told me to call Dan Shapiro, the US ambassador. That advice was the only help I received from him.”
Even worse, as far as the prosecution is concerned, is that Milchan confirmed the defense’s claims that he enjoyed a close friendship with Bibi and Sara Netanyahu and that he conducted many deep, personal conversations with Mrs. Netanyahu. He claimed that their relationship had no ulterior motives and began long before Netanyahu returned to the office of prime minister.
“The prime minister does not have many friends,” defense attorney Chadad said.
“No comment,” Milchan replied.
“He has only one friend: Arnon Milchan,” Chadad continued.
“That is correct,” Milchan said.
Chadad quoted a letter from Netanyahu to Milchan dated April 1, 2009, the day after Netanyahu took office as prime minister for the second time. “He referred to your relationship as a ‘very profound friendship, a rock during a storm,’ and he wrote, ‘I will never forget what you did for me.’”
Milchan also noted under cross-examination that when Netanyahu served as finance minister, he opened the auto parts market to imports from abroad and thus harmed the profits of Machshirei Tnuah, the company of which Milchan owned half the shares. “He deserves to be applauded for taking his responsibilities seriously,” Milchan said. “There is something messianic about him. He protects the Jewish people. He is like Dovid fighting Golias as he confronts the Iranian threat. He is not afraid of anything.”
“Did you ever ask him for any sort of help with anything connected to your businesses?” the defense attorney asked.
“Not at all,” Milchan said. “Had I asked him, he wouldn’t have helped me.”
“In other words, Netanyahu does what is good for the state, not what is good for his friends,” Chadad said.
“Yes,” Milchan agreed. “He has no friends.”
“Sara told me that Bibi has two sources of support during tough times: you and her,” Chadad said.
Milchan added that he began giving gifts to Netanyahu—including champagne, cigars, and scarves for Sara—long before the latter became prime minister. “The champagne was because of my friendship with Sara, not Bibi,” he pointed out.
No Help with the Visa
Chadad brought up an incident that occurred in the late 1980s, when American customs officials and the FBI discovered “something that could serve many purposes” in the company that Milchan owned. “This involved some of the most critical aspects of the security of the State of Israel,” he said. Milchan was afraid to travel to America and turned to then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres with a request for him to call President Ronald Reagan to sort out the issue, since it could be handled only by a prime minister. It was soon worked out, and no one opened an investigation into Milchan, the defense attorney pointed out.
Milchan related that Netanyahu and Meir Dagan, the former head of the Mossad, convinced him to be interviewed on the documentary program Uvda in 2013. “They didn’t realize that the impression it created would depend on the editing, and that I had no control over the editing,” he said. “The last thing I wanted was to be interviewed.” He confirmed that Netanyahu had said that it was important for children to see the program, which he hoped would inspire them to be successful and to aspire to help the state.
The broadcast led to an international storm of fury, and Milchan was portrayed to the world as a Mossad agent. “Netanyahu didn’t do anything about my visa,” he added. Milchan confirmed that his first concern about the interview was the potential harm to national security, although he feared that he might also suffer financial harm and he might even be arrested. “I was in great distress,” he said. He repeated that Netanyahu was not able to help him with a visa, especially in light of the poor relations between the Israeli premier and the Obama administration. “I didn’t ask for it, and even if I had asked, they would have said no,” Milchan added. “No one can give a visa to someone who is being investigated by the Ministry of Public Security.” He added that to the best of his knowledge, when the American secretary of state at the time, John Kerry, called him on the phone, it was only to advance the peace process, not for the purpose of helping with his visa or in response to a request from Netanyahu.
A Trip to Bnei Brak with Rav Nebenzahl
Let me end this week’s column with an anecdote that I heard from the person who experienced it. “Tantan” is the nickname of a young bochur who is one of the top talmidim in Yeshivas HaKosel and is a talmid of Rav Avigdor Nebenzahl. Last week, he had the privilege of driving his august rebbi to the engagement celebration of his grandson, Nosson Tzvi Nebenzahl (the son of Rav Chaim Zev), an outstanding talmid in Yeshivas Slabodka and a talmid muvhak of Rav Dov Landau. The drive on Monday night took two hours, due to traffic congestion on the Geha highway. When I heard the story, I rued the fact that I wasn’t in the car as well; every moment spent in the company of Rav Nebenzahl is precious, and one can only imagine the value of two full hours.
At some point, Tantan apologized for the delay. “Waze is taking us on a circuitous route that is increasing our journey by forty kilometers,” he said.
Rav Nebenzahl, who was engrossed in a sefer, responded cheerfully, “You know how much Moshe Rabbeinu yearned to travel dalet amos in Eretz Yisroel.”
The rebbetzin and the rov’s devoted daughter-in-law were sitting in the back seat, and his daughter-in-law took advantage of the trip to ask about a fascinating question that the rov had recently discussed. It was a weighty shailah that may even have implications for Israel’s national security. This shailah has also been examined by Rav Moshe Sternbuch, the Belzer Rebbe and Rav Yitzchok Yosef. For some reason, Rav Nebenzahl was somewhat reticent on the subject. Finally, he said, “It isn’t clear if this is the subject of a contradiction in the Radvaz.” Rav Nebenzahl viewed this issue, which might have been a very emotional subject for some people, purely through the lens of halacha and logic. And if it was unclear if the Radvaz permitted it, then he would not allow himself to be lenient. He also asked about Rav Moshe Sternbuch’s position, and when he heard the answer, he said, “Rav Sternbuch’s stance has weight.” And this comment came from a talmid chochom whose every word is carefully measured.