At the recent JOFA conference, Rabbi Asher Lopatin is quoted as calling for an “anti-Chofetz Chaim revolution” (“Orthodox Feminists Address `Power Imbalance,’” Nov. 28), implying that the writings of Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan (best known as The Chofetz Chaim) are somehow responsible for the communal absence of speaking out when called for.
I hope that this quote is incorrect, incomplete, or at the very least out of context, as its implication shows a lack of knowledge and understanding of Rabbi Kagan’s monumental work. The Chofetz Chaim spent much of his energies sensitizing society to the power of communication and it’s unfortunate, all too common abuse. However, he took great pains to illustrate the circumstances and necessary conditions enabling one to speak out in order to protect individuals and society from hidden dangers. While he wrote these sections with the utmost of care and trepidation, he did not hesitate to emphasize not just the permissibility, but the obligation to speak out when necessary.
Contemporary decisors of Jewish law do at times disagree with Rabbi Kagan’s decisions, but they do so only with much hesitation and reverence. A platform calling for an anti-Chofetz Chaim revolution is a betrayal of any ”Orthodox”-named organization and its cause.