By: Doron Levine  | 

Rabbi Hershel Schachter: Inviting Rabbi Aryeh Klapper to Speak at YU is “like inviting a Reform rabbi”

Update: Rabbi Schachter later qualified his statement about Rabbi Klapper. Subsequent developments to this story are covered by The Commentator here.

This morning, YU Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Hershel Schachter took down posters announcing a shiur that Rabbi Aryeh Klapper will deliver tonight in YU’s Rubin Shul. Titled “Lo Ra’inu Eino Ra’aya: The inference from ‘hasn’t been’ to ‘ought not to be’ in Halakhah,” the shiur is scheduled for 10:20 PM tonight and is sponsored by SOY.

Last night, a student hung signs for the event on the doors of the Glueck beit midrash. Posters for events sponsored by RIETS or SOY are commonly posted on these doors. But this morning, at around 11:00 AM, at least two students witnessed Rabbi Schachter take down the signs on the left-hand door to the Glueck beit midrash. He then crumpled the posters into a ball and tossed them into a nearby garbage can.

When asked why he removed these signs, Rabbi Schachter responded, “Chutzpah, the guy’s a meshugana. He’s going to attack all the rebbes in YU. It’s like inviting a Reform rabbi to speak in YU.” Rabbi Schachter continued, “The guy’s an apikores. He shouldn’t be invited here. You can quote me on that if you want. He doesn’t belong here at all.” Rabbi Klapper declined to comment about Rabbi Schachter’s words.

The student who had put the signs up then attempted to repost them. But at around 11:30, a Syms junior in Rabbi Rosensweig’s shiur permanently took down the signs from both doors of the beit midrash and tore them up, explaining to the student who had hung them that he was doing this because he saw Rabbi Schachter take them down. He said, “I found it to be disrespectful for a person to hang up a sign in Rav Schachter’s beis medrash after that person saw Rav Schachter respectfully and inconspicuously take down the sign.”

The student who hung these signs on the door of the beit midrash also put up a number of signs in the Muss dormitory, in the Glueck stairwell, and on bulletin boards in Klein Hall and Zysman Hall. These signs were also removed either last night or this morning, though it is not clear who removed them.

A similar incident occurred when this same student put up signs advertising Rabbi Klapper’s Summer Beit Midrash Program. A few weeks ago, he hung fliers on bulletin boards in Muss and on the door of the Glueck beit midrash to promote Rabbi Klapper’s program, and these signs were similarly removed within a day.

At a seuda shelishit in the YU cafeteria earlier this year, Dean of RIETS Rabbi Menachem Penner delivered a speech in which he rebuked the attitude that leads students to deface signs. Rabbi Penner explained that he noticed that a flyer for an event happening on Shabbat had been graffitied with a large X. When asked to comment about Rabbi Schachter’s removal of the sign for Rabbi Klapper’s speech, Rabbi Penner wrote, “I believe there is a difference between defacing signs (childish) and removing them and between students acting out and long-time Roshei Yeshiva taking action.”

Rabbi Klapper holds an MA in Bible from the Bernard Revel Graduate School and received his ordination from RIETS in 1994. He is currently the Dean of the Center for Modern Torah Leadership and a member of the Boston Beit Din. He previously served as Associate Director for Education at Harvard Hillel and Talmud Curriculum Chair at Maimonides High School. He has published articles in Tradition, Meorot, Dinei Yisrael, and Beis Yitzchak.