MAILBAG: Askan Versus Shtadlan: Recognizing The True Heroes Working For Us

In a world of constant self-aggrandizement and people taking credit for things they had no part of, it was very heartening for me to see a video posted on your website yesterday of Rabbi Avi Schnall of Agudah.

In it, he described the important and difficult day he would be having in Trenton and then asked everyone to say Tehillim. How many times do we hear that from so-called askanim? Almost never. They simply laud themselves and take credit – even when whatever positive thing that happened was in no way, shape, or form thanks to them.

What struck me as well was that both Rabbi Schnall and Agudah’s Legislative Affairs director in New Jersey, Rabbi Shlomo Schorr, were clearly and obviously in it for the klal and not themselves. They sat there from morning until night, sending out numerous updates to let us know back at home whether there was good news to share.

I don’t think I have ever seen any activists do that before. What I’m used to seeing – and what I think everyone is used to seeing – are individuals keeping us in the dark and then foisting upon us whatever agenda they think is necessary, without consulting anyone and without the klal’s input. What a refreshing difference!

Perhaps most importantly, neither Rabbi Schnall nor Rabbi Schorr took an ounce of credit after private schools were included in a bill to provide free lunches for all New Jersey students. Agudah put out a statement announcing the positive news, but in not a single sentence did Rabbi Schnall pat himself on the back, and Rabbi Schorr wasn’t even mentioned in it!

Contrast that with others in the “field of askanus.” Over and again, we see individuals heaping praise on themselves, almost to the point of nausea, and insisting they were involved in things that they didn’t lift a finger to accomplish.

It reminds me of the difference between an “askan” and a “shtadlan.” An askan is a hocker, someone who makes a lot of noise, takes credit for everything, but doesn’t actually accomplish anything on his own other than self-promotion. A shtadlan, on the other hand, does his hishtadlus to help the klal, knowing and maintaining all along that whatever happens is yad hashem.

Rabbis Schnall and Schorr are shtadlanim. We need more people like them.


The opinions expressed in this letter do not necessarily reflect those of Lakewood Alerts. Have an opinion you’d like to see published? Send it for review to 



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