Reb Moshe Feinstein was once interviewed by the New York Times where he answered questions like how does Klal Yisroel know who is a Gadol? Does anyone know when it was, and does anyone know where I can get an archived version online if someone can link it It would be a greatly appreciated or even how i could go about getting it?

3 Answers 3


Many library systems have access to PDFs of the historical New York Times. The 1975 interview is an article from May 5, 1975, entitled: "Responsa: The Law as Seen By Rabbis for 1,000 Years", by Israel L. Shenker; pages 33 and 61.

I can see the PDF but as it's owned by ProQuest, I don't think I'm allowed to repost it. There's a picture of Rav Moshe answering a phone call in his study.

The article starts with some material about Rav Moshe, noting the old refrain that a new rabbi would get an ordination certificate and Rabbi Feinstein's number; it also mentions a volume published opposing him (ma'aneh le'igeret) and "handbills of defiance" in Satmar for one of his rulings. The article then goes into describing what responsa literature is and some of its history, then some description of Rabbi Ephraim Oshry's Holocaust responsa; then has some quotations with Conservative and Reform responsa experts on their views.

The only direct quotes from Rav Moshe in the article are, as you'd indicated:

You can't wake up in the morning and decide you're an expert on answers. If people see that one answer is good, and another answer is good, gradually you will be accepted.


A rabbi who replies to people's questions works harder than a doctor dealing with a case of life and death. The doctor is responsible only to the patient, but the rabbi is responsible to God.

His obituary is March 25, 1986. He is described as:

... a towering scholar whose rulings guided the religious practices of millions of Jews around the world. ... Rabbi Feinstein, a short, richly bearded and well-groomed man ... His answer was usually accepted as law. ... His mystique was based on an intelligence and a command of Halakha ... that other rabbinic scholars found awe inspriring. He was said to have studied the 62 volumes of the Talmud ... more than 200 times ... Yet rabbis were also struck by what they described as a remarkable humility.

  • Can you post the link which Library did you access it from meaning how do i go about doing it? can you print it an scan it and put it up? Jan 26, 2011 at 23:11
  • If you have a New York State driver's license, you should be able to use this: queenslibrary.org/…
    – Shalom
    Jan 27, 2011 at 13:50
  • Many, many other libraries should have "electronic databases" including ProQuest Newspapers or ProQuest National Newspapers, Historical New York Times or something like that.
    – Shalom
    Jan 27, 2011 at 13:53
  • I tried looking on the NYT archives, and May is missing from the 1975 archives. spiderbites.nytimes.com/pay_1975/index.html May 20, 2011 at 17:30
  • Link to the article: nytimes.com/1975/05/05/archives/…
    – Harel13
    Feb 21, 2020 at 12:22

The original article is available online: http://docslide.us/documents/ny-times-1975-article-about-r-moshe-feinstein.html

  • If your new here shalom Aleichem! Jun 4, 2015 at 16:04
  • 404 error. Please update the link.
    – Moz
    Mar 20, 2022 at 21:05

Here's a quote from the 1986 New York Times obituary about R' Moshe:

Typical of his modesty was this answer he gave in a 1975 interview as to how he had acquired his standing as a posek.

"You don't wake up in the morning and decide you're an expert on answers," he said. "If people see that one answer is good and another answer is good, gradually you will be accepted."

Here is the 1975 NYTimes article. (h/t to @Etan Berman for sharing it above)


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .