I have had recent and distinct pleasure reading the magnificently articulated and profoundly original drashos of Rabbi Dr Norman Lamm (may he have a speedy recovery). It struck me that I’ve probably never heard that style of quality Drosho in Melbourne. I was exposed to the emotionally laden but never judgemental tantalising drashos of Rabbi Chaim Gutnick ז’ל and the fire and brimstone and sometimes judgementally powerful drashos of Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Groner ז’ל. I listen to their sons, and there are semblances of their father’s styles (this is natural), but in essence I haven’t experienced true uniqueness.
I enjoy the care, research and effort that Rabbi Sprung puts into his Drashos (on the occasions that I hear them). I am not attracted to the style of Rabbi Genende. It’s almost apologetically left-wing and seems to use external sources for no other reason than to show that they have been read and incorporated. Rabbi Lamm also uses external sources, but it flows ever so naturally and augments his broad Rabbinic knowledge.
Many other Rabbis effectively parrot or paraphrase a nice thought from the Lubavitcher Rebbe or the Baalei Mussar, which whilst authentic, I sometimes find lazy. Some like to use cute stories. Unfortunately, many of them are hagiographic. I have heard Rabbi Kennard once and found him succinct, clinical and well-organised, but perhaps (at least for me) lacking an element of emotion, call it fire-power. No doubt that’s a natural stylistic phenomenon. If I am to hear a Drasha that isn’t emotionally laden, then I’m awaiting a brilliant unique insight. I don’t have time for the joke a minute style of Drosha either.
To be fair, I am an outlier. Most people are probably very happy with the Drashos they hear. I like to ask myself two questions:
- Have I been inspired to actually do or try to do something that I haven’t done, or being doing well, after the Drasha
- Have I been inspired to research the topic myself after the Drasha
If the answers are no, then those Drashos disappear like a distant memory.
Perhaps I have been spoiled by the internet. My iPhone brims with super quality drashos and insights. If we are to grow as a community, I feel that some Rabbis perhaps need to put much more time into their Drashos, and, yes, even publish these. They also have to realise we aren’t dumb. I know when I’ve heard it a few years before 🙂
How much world-standard Torah is actually published in Melbourne? Do we have a ‘Chief Rabbi’ in Australia capable of such or are we more caught up in Askonus.
It is true, that not all Shule Rabbis are born orators. Do they have to be in today’s day and age, or is it more important to excel in pastoral care and impart that “feel good” image?
I admit, I undoubtedly have a bias. I like a Chidush, a new insight. In the least, I enjoy being mesmerised by the sheer breadth of halachic knowledge that some impart on a weekly basis emanating from the Parsha (e.g. Rav Schachter or Rav Usher Weiss). Undoubtedly, I am an outlier and atypical.
Don’t even get me started on the lack of simple manners (forget Kavod) that exist primarily at religious functions when a Rabbi/Rov/Roov gets up to speak for a few minutes.