Lost Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan part III

Continued from part I and part II.
Ari Kahn has provided another link in Kaplan’s biography, which led to an article that provides everything up to 1965. Now our only gap is 1967-1970. (Ari- Can you ask Fleer about those years?)
Kaplan address a question to Rav Moshe Feinstein when he took a job teaching at the non-orthodox community day school in Louisville, KY. The school was the Eliahu Academy in Louisville, it was the liberal community school, so he could assume his students would come by car on Shabbat. There was also the Orthodox day school called Talmud Torah.
Rav Aharon Lichtenstein commented on the Teshuvah
Rav Moshe Feinstein relates to our issue in Igrot Moshe OC vol.I, responsa #98 and #99 (pp. 159-160). Rav Moshe writes [in response to a question (#98) posed by Rav Aryeh Kaplan] that one who invites people who drive on Shabbat to participate in a minyan, transgresses the prohibition “Lifnei iveir lo titein mikhshol” (Do not place a stumbling block in front of the blind) because of his involvement in their Shabbat desecration. He goes a step further in responsum #99 and claims that besides transgressing lifnei iveir, one who invites another to do something that inevitably involves desecration of Shabbat is defined as a “meisit” (one who incites another to sin). For the rest see here

This factoid allowed the following biography to show up in google.

Mason City Globe Gazette , April 3, 1965 

Welcome Rabbi and Mrs Leonard Kaplan Joseph and Ronald

They came from Maryland

Welcome to the Kaplans

Books were an important part of the belongings which Rabbi and Leonard M Kaplan brought with them when they moved to Mason in Februrary.

Not only were there books of general interest religious books scientific books but cook books Mrs Kaplan is a cook book collector

The with children 21 month old Joseph Michael and 10 month old Ronald Myer came from Hyattsville Md when Rabbi Kaplan began his service with the Adas Israel congregation

He is a nuclear physicist as well as a rabbi and was engaged in research in Washington DC.

This is his first pulpit Rabbi Kaplan received his BS degree from the University of Louisville Ky

His theological training was at Yeshiva Torah and Mirrer Ye in New York He was ordained in Israel While in the seminary he taught for a time at Richmond Va and in the Bronx.

Following his ordination he was engaged in religious teaching at Eliahu Academy in Louisville.He accepted position with the US Bureau of Standards in Washington and continued his education as a predoctoral student in research grants from the National Science Foundation and the US Air Force

The Bronx is Rabbi Kaplans hometown Mrs Kaplan is from Marigold Miss..

Reading and photography and making scrapbooks are hobbies with Rabbi Kaplan.

19 responses to “Lost Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan part III

  1. by the way Rav Moshe does NOT discuss “Lifnei iveir lo titein mikhshol” (Do not place a stumbling block in front of the blind) only in the next teshuva.
    the question was the permissibly of having a minyan for children on shabbat – where presumably they will be driven. Here the argument is rhetorical: why look at it that you are educating them in praying, when in fact you are educating them in shabbat desecration

    • Any thoughts comparing Rav Moshe to R. DZ Hoffmann on these matters?

      • I am right now working on a comparison between Rav Moshe Sternbuch and Rav Moshe Feinstein. Rav Dovid Zvi Hoffman -and the Sridie Aish are in the background.

        Gedalya Fleer claimed that he “skipped” his BA and placed into MA classes -”yeshiva credits” from Israel?
        However I have found Fleer’s comments mixed, some have been helpful and filled gaps, while others I can disprove.
        Incidentally, based on the other rabbinic positions he takes – notably Iowa – which Alan stated only had “late” Friday night services, it would seem that he did not accept Rav Moshe’s psak.

  2. “The Secret Lost Scrapbooks of Rabbi Kaplan” is definitely a great premise for a novel, a comic book, or a video game.

  3. Based on the date of the responsa of R. Moshe Feinstein to Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan – י”ג תמוז תשט”ו (=July 3, 1955) (Iggerot Moshe, Orach Chaim, vol. 1, #98) can we assume that R. Kaplan received his ordination at the Jerusalem branch of Mir Yeshiva from Rabbi Eliezer Yehudah Finkel before July 1955, i.e. when he was age 20 or 21 (Kaplan was born on October 23, 1934)? R. Moshe addresses him as
    מעלת כבודו, ידידי הרב מהר”ר אריה משה אלי’ קאפלאן שליט”א
    Can we also assume that R. Kaplan began studying for his BS degree from the University of Louisville, Kentucky in 1955, and teaching at the Eliahu Academy in Louisville before July 1955?

  4. It seems that R. Kaplan had asked R. Moshe how he should relate to an Orthodox youth minyan organized on Shabbat in Louisville where it is clear that the children will be coming by car. The answer of R. Moshe is that if he cannot prevent the existence of such a minyan then at least he should try and convince individual children to come by foot. Ari Kahn is correct that the לפני עיוור is an answer given in #99 to R. Naftali Carlebach in Detroit in May 11,1953 (40th day of the Omer תשי”ג) if my calculations are correct.

  5. In the summer of 1966, Rabbi Kaplan left Mason City to serve as the spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Sholom in the northeast corner of Tennessee, nestled in the Smokey Mountains, serving the tri-cities of Bristol, Johnson City, and Kingsport. The local Kingsport newspapers reported on July 22-23: “Physicist Is Rabbi For Area”. Rabbi Kaplan’s installation took place on Sunday, Aug. 7, 1966. The newspapers document how his wife was active in communal affairs. B’nai Shalom which had been founded in 1904 as an Orthodox Congregation had become affiliated with the Conservative Movement in 1959. After Aryeh Kaplan left, they eventually joined the Reform Union of American Hebrew Congregations.

  6. Lawrence Kaplan

    Note that in his article, Rav Lichtenstein compares Rav Moshe’s approach with that of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach.

  7. Aryeh Kaplan had children? there must be a way to track them down

    • Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan
      (1934 – 1983)

      Rabbi Kaplan was a prime force behind the teshuvah phenomenon – the return to Jewish observance. “Throughout history, Jews have always been observant,” he once remarked. “The teshuvah movement is just a normalization. The Jewish people are sort of getting their act together. We’re just doing what we’re supposed to do.”

      In culling Jewish sources for his books, he once remarked, “I use my physics background to analyze and systematize data, very much as a physicist would deal with physical reality.” This ability enabled him to undertake monumental projects, producing close to 50 books, celebrated for their erudition, completeness and clarity.

      His personal example of modesty, midos tovos, great human warmth and sensitivity, and total dedication to Torah study and life of mitzvos, was an inspiration to the thousands of individuals whom he touched. His home was always open to visitors, great and humble, from every segment of the Jewish community. His Shabbos table was always crowded with guests attracted to the beauty of the Torah life that he lived, and to the endless stream of wisdom and Torah insight which flowed from his lips.

      He labored tirelessly, day and night, producing more outstanding works of great and original Torah scholarship single-handedly than teams of other authors working in the field. Yet, he somehow managed to find time for the simplest Jew, perfect strangers, seeking the answers to the spiritual questions in their lives. None were turned away empty-hand..

      P.S. I am a son of rabbi aryeah kaplan and i want to inform the public we are writing a new torah in his memory in honer of his 30 th yahrzeit . if anyone is intrested you can email at Rabbiaryeahkaplan@yahoo.com or call me at 646-296-4323
      thank you
      micha kaplan

      all the names of my siblings are in the front of the book THE LIVING TORAH

  8. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan died on January 28, 1983 at age 48 in Flatbush, Brooklyn. He left behind nine children and his wife Tobie (now Seidenfeld). Rabbi Kaplan had three daughters (Abigail, Devorah and Rochel) and six sons (Yosse, Yisroel, Micha, Ruven, Shimeon and Haim). See the New York Times obituary:

  9. A lengthy and very comprehensive remembrance of R. Kaplan z”l, by D. Scheid, appears in the current (dated January 25) issue of the Yated Ne’eman newspaper, out of Monsey, N.Y., pages 54-6, for his thirtieth yahrzeit. There is info there that I don’t recall seeing before. I strongly recommend that those interested in his background and life take a look at it.

    • Recently my article mentioning Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s innovative approach to meditation was published. If you write to me, I can send a PDF: Natan Ophir, “The Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Call for a Scientific Non-Hasidic Meditation,” B’or Ha’torah, vol. 22, 2013, 109-123.

      In February 1978 Rabbi Menahem Mendel Schneerson (the Lubavitcher Rebbe) sent out a confidential memorandum asking for “doctors specializing in neurology and psychiatry” to develop a meditation program that could serve as an alternative for the popular meditative imports from the Far East such as Transcendental Meditation (TM). Dr. Yehuda Landes, a psychologist in Palo Alto, California, responded positively and soon launched a pilot project. Then in July 1979, the Rebbe issued a public announcement asking for more people to help in developing and disseminating a Jewishly acceptable form of meditation.

      Meanwhile, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, together with a group of Jewish psychiatrists and psychologists, was exploring meditative techniques from kabbalistic and hasidic sources. However, the Rebbe directed Landes not to utilize Kaplan’s meditations but rather to develop a non-hasidic scientifically based meditation.

      In this article we examine the context of the Rebbe’s correspondence and analyze his request by comparing it to the scientific meditative techniques being developed in the 1970’s. We conclude by noting the implications for modern Jewish meditation.

  10. Dear Mordechai, Could you please post the info that you found in Yated Ne’eman? Not everyone has a subscription to the Jan. 25 2013 issue out of Monsey NY…

  11. I can’t post the whole thing, it is lengthy, but will give some details that may not appear elsewhere.

    The article says that his family lived in the East Bronx and he went to public school. His mother passed away when he was fourteen. His sisters were sent to an orphanage and he ended up on the streets.

    Through a certain incident, in which he saved a Hasidic boy who was attacked by a gang, he became close to some Hasidim in his area, and later went to the Klausenberg Yeshiva, where he studied. Later on the Klausenberger Rebbe advised him to study in Eretz Israel and he did so. It states that he was very attached to the Rebbe. A Klausenberger Hasid, R. Shmuel Mendelson, a childhood friend, is given as a source for some of the info.

  12. I am so deeply grateful to have stumbled onto this blog. I was a student of Rabbi Kaplan in the early 80’s for around six years. I spent a grerat deal of time in his home and heard him give over Torah especially Friday nights after dinner, when he would retire upstairs after the meal and then come downstairs and begin to drash. It was like putting your brain on a roller coaster!
    I have a few stories I could share…
    Seth Glass

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