"Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinski penned an important observation about seeking guidance in meta-halachic and hashkafic areas in particular. They are preserved in a footnote to Shiurei Daas (of Rav Gifter zt”l), pg. 83. R. Chaim Ozer wa asked to comment about his own view on the dispute between R. Samson Raphael Hirsch and R. Selig Ber Bamburger regarding the proper stance to take to Reform Judaism. (R. Hirsch was the architect of austritt, the idea that traditional Jews were required to walk out of the until-then unified Jewish collective, after Reform had made it clear that it was cutting its umbilical chord with halacha. R. Bamburger strongly disagreed, maintaining that it was essential to keep a single strong Jewish front in its dealings with the non-Jewish world.) He first cautions the reader that the question is not a classic halachic one that is answered through the capable analysis of shas and poskim. Rather, the question could only be addressed by a clear perception of the situation and a sense of what methods would be most effective in facing the challenges to tradition. The positions of the the two German luminaries did not owe to their different understandings of established halacha, but to their different essential outlooks and their different personal approaches to avodas Hashem. The following is a free translation of the next lines:
"This outlook is most clear to the chacham who understands the local situation, and who lives in that region and kehilla. He knows the natures of the people of the community in all their details, and is connected to them on multiple levels. He who takes responsibility for supervising their ways has the penetrating eye to properly weigh the spiritual issues that confront them, and to anticipate the impact of developments upon the future. For this reason, it appears to me, they did not take this weighty question to the preeminent Torah luminaries of their day, recognized throughout the reaches of our community, sages like the Malbim, R. Yisrael Salanter, the Maharil Diskin, R. Yitzchak Elchanan, the gaonim of Israel and Galicia. This was not a question that would be best addressed through sources in Shas and poskim, but through proper analysis and an appropriate and clear perspective. Those distant from the location of the question could not involve themselves in the determination; they had to rely on the righteous rabbis at the local level…
"[Rav Gifter continues:] The words of our teacher are fundamental in understanding the difference between matters that require a precise halachic determination, and matters that require the clear perspective of Daas Torah. In our lowly generation we have moved away from this distinction. We suffer from internecine conflict and hatred whose root cause is the blurring of the distinction between these two areas of decision-making."
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