Sunday, November 29, 2009

Rav Feldman Writes Back

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Dear Rabbi Slifkin,

Thank you for your e-mail. I do not recall any “factual errors or serious flaws” in my article, “The Slifkin Affair,” which were brought to my attention; otherwise I would certainly have corrected them.

I do not recall having received a letter from you, and I apologize for not answering it. However, I do recall receiving a list of 38 sources which you said supported R.Avraham’s position. However, when I reviewed them I did not find more than several which were substantive (most of them repeated identical sources) and which would convert R. Avraham’s view into a majority view. I have always planned to point this out to you, but because I thought my response would not make a difference, and because I am overwhelmed with my duties, I never did.

I have not tried to “re-ignite” this issue; it is you who have kept the flames of disrespect towards gedoley torah burning. I simply thought (vainly perhaps) that my article deserved wider dissemination.

I apologize for having misspelled your name several times in my book, in the text and in the running heads. I went to large expense to replace the plates so that these errors will not appear in future printings.

Finally, I mailed a letter two weeks ago addressed to your Beit Shemesh address in which I asked you to remove a posting on your website in which literally every sentence has factual errors. Your posting states that I visited Rav Eliashiv together with Rav Berel Weisbord who asked him whether your books could be used for kiruv purposes and that Rav Eliashiv agreed that they could be used for such purposes. Rav Weisbord has, to the best of my knowledge, never in his lifetime visited Rav Eliashiv, certainly not with me, nor was this question posed by anyone at any meeting I had with Rav Eliashiv. On the contrary, Rabbi Moshe Frances of the Chicago Kollel told me that he posed this question to Rav Eliashiv and was told that it was forbidden. Finally, the statement that Rav Eliashiv forbade the books only for “his” community is totally false. I should hope that you keep your website free of such serious flaws in the future.

Very truly yours,
Aharon Feldman

* * * * * * *

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dear Rav Feldman, shlita,

Thank you for responding to my email. I did not receive the letter that you mailed me, but my mailing address has changed: it is now 2/1 Nachal Raziel, Ramat Bet Shemesh 99632.

I will certainly remove from my website the account about Rav Elyashiv telling you that the approach of the Rishonim in my books is legitimate for outreach purposes. I apologize for this error; I thought that my information was reliable, since it came from a senior member of the Ner Israel faculty who claimed at the time that he heard it from you directly.

I likewise will accept your understanding of Rav Elyashiv's statement that the books are "forbidden from entering the community," that he meant the entire Jewish world rather than only the charedi community. I admit that I find it difficult to believe that Rav Elyashiv really did rule that an approach which his own rebbe, Rav Herzog, proclaimed to be the entirely normative approach from the Rishonim, is in fact a heretical aberrant view that is forbidden for everyone, even though countless talmidei chachamim and Roshei Yeshivah in Jerusalem and the US consider it perfectly legitimate.

With regard to your claim that it is I who have tried to keep the flames of disrespect to Gedolei Torah burning - as you yourself told me, five years ago, I have a right to defend myself. You are claiming that your article deserves wider dissemination than that which it has already received. Surely I deserve the right to defend myself before that wider audience? And what about the flames of disrespect towards those Rishonim, Acharonim, recent Gedolim and contemporary talmidei chachamim whose approach is being deemed unacceptable? Could it not justly be seen as disrespectful to claim that their understanding of Chazal is critically flawed and can be deemed heretical? Do they not have a right to have someone speak up on their behalf?

I am pleased to hear that it is certainly your intent to correct factual errors and serious flaws. But along with countless other people, I am at a loss to understand how you did not notice any at all in the point-by-point rebuttal of your article.

For example, you yourself admit that in the list of forty sources that I sent to you, all of which say that Chazal's statements about the natural world were not always correct, you found several that were substantive. Why did you not add them to your article, in your list of such views?

Furthermore, I do not understand your dismissal of the rest of these authorities on the grounds that they were simply repeating identical points. In repeating identical points, they were endorsing their legitimacy! By your logic, there is only one Gadol who opposed my books, since all the others signed on to the same statement!

My latest response included a list of over forty gedolei Rishonim and Acharonim, from the Geonim through to recent Gedolim, all of whom opposed the claim that Chazal were correct in all their statements about the natural world. I simply do not understand how you can maintain that this is an aberrant "minority viewpoint" that has "fallen by the wayside over the centuries" and may therefore not be followed by anyone at all. It is not a minority viewpoint, and it has not fallen by the wayside. When you learn the Gemara in Pesachim 94b that Chazal believed the sun to travel behind the sky at night, is there even a single Rishon that you can name whose approach to this sugya you consider viable? You are certainly dismissing the approach of the overwhelming majority of Rishonim. I do not deny that in recent centuries, many have rejected this approach, but there have nevertheless been significant Acharonim, recent Gedolim and contemporary Roshei Yeshivah who have acknowledged it as a legitimate normative view from the Rishonim. I am still at a loss to understand how anyone can claim that no Jew in the world is entitled to follow such a mesorah.

Respectfully,
Natan Slifkin

100 comments:

  1. I intend to write Rav Feldman personally and remind him that I heard more than once from him personally that Chazal spoke according to the scientific knowledge of their time.

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  2. R' Slifkin, at least he is going to large expense to spell your name correctly, the next time he slams you as a heretic! I'm sure that makes you feel so much better, and it was so very thoughtful of him.

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  3. R' Hertzog was not R' Elyshiv's Rebbe. R' Elyashiv was born in 1910, R' Hertzog first arrived in Israel in 1936. Please correct the erroneous information that appears repeatedly on your website.

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  4. It's not erroneous. Rav Lau writes in his autobiography how he and Rav Elyashiv used to be in Rav Herzog's shiur together.

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  5. I think the broader question is the statement by Rambam (in both Sefer HaMotzvos and Perush HaMishnayos) that there's no psak in hashkafa. I believe that the Chasam Sofer writes this as well. This means that as long as you're not proposing change to halacha le'maaseh, or maybe as long as you're not paskening le'kula on the basis of your outlook, then there's no psak on the issue, and no problem with being in accordance with a minority view in the rishonim.

    Rav Aryeh Kaplan wrote exactly this in his introduction to his chapter on this same topic, where he presents the view of the Drush Or HaChayim.

    If I'm right about this, there's no reason for you to avoid the claim of fitting a minority of rishonim and achronim, as long as you're discussing hashkafa.

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  6. R' Hertzog was not R' Elyshiv's Rebbe. R' Elyashiv was born in 1910, R' Hertzog first arrived in Israel in 1936.


    What is this supposed to mean? Because R. Herzog arrived when R. Elyashiv (who was also born in Europe) was 26, he couldn't be his talmid?

    OTOH, it is worth pointing out that R. Elyashiv is supposed to be mainly self-taught, although R. Herzog got him his job as a dayyan in the Rabbanut.

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  7. Let me understand you correctly. You are claiming by R' Elyashiv attending R' Hertzog's shiur at some point past 1947, when R' Elyashiv was at least 37 years old, and an established rov, that makes him his Rebbe?

    By that logic, R' Moshe Shapiro is your Rebbe. By that logic, if I'd watch your TIM lecture you'd be my Rebbe.

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  8. I guess we have different ways of using the word Rebbe. I don't mean Rebbe muvhak - I mean someone that you learn Torah from on a regular basis.

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  9. R' Feldman: "it is you who have kept the flames of disrespect towards gedoley torah burning."

    Yankelovitch: "it was so very thoughtful of him."

    Perhaps R' Feldman is blaming R' Slifkin not just for what R' Slifkin has been writing but for what many of the commenters have been posting at his site.

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  10. Dov - I'm not sure which Chasam Sofer you are referring to. In Yoreh Deah 356 he seems to say that it is not legitimate to follow the opinion of Rabbi Hillel regarding Mashiach, since it was rejected by all the other chachamim. He likens it to Rabbi Eliezer's p'sak in milah, which was rejected by the other chachamim. If someone would follow that ruling today they would be outside the norms of Judaism according to him.
    Perhaps that only applies to an opinion that was rejected emphatically by Chazal, I don't know. But he certainly thinks there is a concept of 'right and wrong' in hashkafa.
    I'd be keen to see other sources that say differently though.

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  11. Alex, please be dan l'kaf zechus with Rav Feldman. It hardly makes sense that he would be blaming R' Slifkin for what other people are writing. And surely not for giving a platform for free speech.

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  12. "Alex, please be dan l'kaf zechus with Rav Feldman. "

    Funny, I thought I was.

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  13. "And what about the flames of disrespect towards those Rishonim, Acharonim, recent Gedolim and contemporary talmidei chachamim whose approach is being deemed unacceptable? Could it not justly be seen as disrespectful to claim that their understanding of Chazal is critically flawed and can be deemed heretical? Do they not have a right to have someone speak up on their behalf?" - To me, these lines say it all. While the the Rabbaim cited by Rabbi Slifkin offer an approach that differs from the approach taken in certain Torah communities, they are Torah greats and should have someone sticking up for them when their opinions are labeled "heretical." If Rabbi Slifkin's critics stood face-to-face with many of the Rabbaim cited by Rabbi Slifkin, I have a sneaking suspicion that these critics would be engaged in a great deal of back-peddling.

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  14. R. Slifkin,

    Thank you for publishing R. Feldman's response. I, for one, am grateful that R. Feldman, shlita, choose to respond to your e mail(although he did not offer a point by point response to “Meir ben Tzvi’s" letter).

    As is(erroneously) attributed to Voltaire, “I (may) disagree with what you have to say but will fight to the death to protect your right to say it”, and in that spirit, I defend R. Feldman’s right of response, and respect it.

    However, one can question if all of the debate over R. Avroham b. Harambam is “fiddling while Rome is burning”.

    The crux of the issue, as I see it, is that there are forces which have attacked Torah Judaism in ways much more fundamental than anything R. Slifkin or R. Avroham b. Harambam said, as implied, I think, in R. Feldman’s statement, “whose intent was clearly leshem shomayim”, hamevin yavin.

    People may have relied on R. Avroham b. Harambam, and then the rug is suddenly swept from underneath their feet with R. Elayshiv’s position banning R. Avroham ben Harambam for the *entire* Jewish people!

    No doubt the Charedi world would respond that:

    A) The Haredi Kiruv movement is capable of dealing with all challenges to faith from the academia and otherwise

    B) We live in a generation which is not as intellectual as the generation of the Haskalah, and such challenges are therefore not that dangerous

    C) The Charedi world is capable of insulating people from challenges to faith, of providing profound inspiration for Judaism(which I agree with), and therefore the lack of the fallback position of R. Avroham b. Harambam, or of RSRH, is "lo maaleh v’lo morid".

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  15. (Continued)

    Indeed, in a publication of the Modern Orthodox world, I’ve seen a similar argument. In response to James Kugel’s argument that you can’t keep people sheltered from challenges to faith(or that one must reassess theological doctrine), a student in the latest Kol Hamevaser(“Don’t Read this Essay”) wrote:

    “ [Kugel] is wrong. We only need to look at the attrition rates of Reform Judaism
    and liberal Christianity worldwide to realize that enlightenment attitudes lead to an abandonment of religion altogether. On the other hand, America’s Evangelical Christians have created alternative sciences to replace real science wherever it conflicts with doctrine, and they have thrived doing so. Muslim Creationists and, indeed, Haredi Jews have been no less successful.”

    On a personal note, I was thrown into turmoil after reading R. Feldman’s original letter. A very prominent Haredi Rav, while defending the position of the Gedolie Torah on the ban, told me that I have every right to hold like R. Avroham b. Harambam, and he understood the ban as aiming to protect insular people.

    He also defended the actual position of calling R. Avroham b. Harambam “minus”,at least, based on the language of one of the Acharonim, but as above, he said that I, personally, have every right to hold from it.

    As above, none of this takes away from my respect for R. Feldman and his efforts to provide guidance in this, and other thorny contemporary matters. In fact, I have no problem recommending the collection of well-written essays in “Eye of the Storm” to thinking Jews( assuming they will not, as I was, be thrown into turmoil over the Science/Torah issue :) ) .

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  16. Rabbi Slifkin,

    I'm a firm moral supporter of yours, but is it possible that you are not doing the right thing by posting a private email sent from one person to another and presumably not meant to be posted on the Internet?

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  17. Rabbi Feldman's position is that "R. Avraham’s opinion is a minority opinion, one of many which have fallen by the wayside in the course of the centuries and which we do no longer follow" (quote from his original essay).

    R. Feldman's position is not that minority views are ipso facto out of bounds; it is that one cannot follow a discarded minority view. The Achilles' heel in R. Feldman's argument is that R. Avraham's view has not been discarded.

    The list of 38 sources does not disprove that at least among acharonim, only a minority hold R. Avraham's view. (R. Feldman might have to concede that R. Avraham's view was shared by the majority of rishonim, but it is within the realm of possibility that the majority of acharonim disagree with the majority of rishonim on a specific issue.)

    But R. Feldman does not claim merely that R. Avraham's view is a minority opinion; he asserts that it is "one of many which have fallen by the wayside in the course of the centuries and which we do no longer follow." This is where the list comes in handy. It seems implausible that a view shared by such recent luminaries as Maharam Schick, R. Hirsch, R. Herzog, R. Dessler, R. S.Z. Auerbach and R. Z.N. Goldberg can have "fallen by the wayside."

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  18. Resolving and Paskening halacha is not the same as resolving hashkafa. When a halacha issue is resolved,like against Rabbi Eliezer's p'sak in milah, it does not require one to believe that his view is wrong. It is because we must follow the majority.
    Even with halacha a dream or mystical revelation can not be used to resolve an uncertainity.
    We can not pasken how mashiach will come.
    Josh Dallas

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  19. "Natan Slifkin said...
    I guess we have different ways of using the word Rebbe. I don't mean Rebbe muvhak - I mean someone that you learn Torah from on a regular basis."

    I'm sorry, but this strikes me as equivocation. Reffering to someone as "his own Rebbe" implies more than him being "a rebbe" particularly when taken to imply that the talmid wouldn't take strong exception to the "rebbe's" teaching.

    This is not meant to imply anything other than what is directly said.

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  20. I second Ryan's motion above and will up the ante (excuse the mixed metaphors!). I have a sneaking suspicion that if Chazal were here to see us defending their every word even when it contravenes common sense (re: the expanded knowledge base of the natural world), they would scold us for making a near-avoda zara out of their words -- for attempting making gods out of mortals. The Avot themselves are not portrayed as perfect -- anything but. So why the need to project perfection onto Chazal? Greatness, yes -- absolutely!

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  21. “ [Kugel] is wrong. We only need to look at the attrition rates of Reform Judaism
    and liberal Christianity worldwide to realize that enlightenment attitudes lead to an abandonment of religion altogether. On the other hand, America’s Evangelical Christians have created alternative sciences to replace real science wherever it conflicts with doctrine, and they have thrived doing so. Muslim Creationists and, indeed, Haredi Jews have been no less successful.”


    This is the solution? This is the problem!!! Have we really defined success in terms of numbers (or perhaps votes in Israeli elections)? Truth doesn't matter at all? What an embarrassment!

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  22. I'm sorry, but this strikes me as equivocation. Reffering to someone as "his own Rebbe" implies more than him being "a rebbe" particularly when taken to imply that the talmid wouldn't take strong exception to the "rebbe's" teaching.

    "Strong exception"?! You mean denouncing it as bona-fide KEFIRAH. I don't think that Rav Elyashiv would do that even to a non-rebbe muvhak. Hence I don't think that he meant bona-fide kefirah.
    But I apologize if my description of Rav Elyashiv's relationship with Rav Herzog misled some people.

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  23. "I don't think that Rav Elyashiv would do that even to a non-rebbe muvhak. Hence I don't think that he meant bona-fide kefirah."

    Your induction is significantly weakened by his [apparent] willingness to use the term.


    "But I apologize if my description of Rav Elyashiv's relationship with Rav Herzog misled some people."

    This sounds like, 'I'm sorry if I offended anyone' The issue is not "if" your description misled "some" people, your argument was phrased in a misleading way.

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  24. He never received your initital letter?!?!?!

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  25. I'm just curious:

    After you respond that you will remove the statement falsely attributed to R' Weisbord from your site, you supply a link to your site (http://www.zootorah.com/controversy/ravelyashiv.html) that still contains the following:

    Rabbi Beryl Weisbord of Ner Israel, who was present at the meeting between Rav Feldman and Rav Elyashiv, reports that Rav Feldman asked Rav Elyashiv if the books may be used in an outreach context and Rav Elyashiv replied in the affirmative.

    Why don't you remove this already?

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  26. Regarding Whether Rav Eliashiv issued the ban for all of klal yisrael or just his community, and whether or not he allowed the books for kiruv, I am amazed that no one has simply asked him to clarify. He is still alive, albeit 99, so this opportunity may not be around for long. And this time, ask him to write it down so we don't all have to go by hearsay, secondhand accounts, and "he said he said" games. (Maybe someone could convince him to blog? ;-)).

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  27. 1) Rav Kook was mesader kidushin for Rav Elyashiv. One can make the same argument as made for R. Herzog, that R. Elyashiv would not hold R. Kook guilty of kefirah regarding evolution. Supporters of the possibility of R. Slifkin's positions are no worse than R. Kook and R. Herzog.

    2) This quote below in the Jerusalem Post seems to be contradicted by the quote from R. Moshe Frances in the name of R. Elyashiv(unless one tries to be mechaleik between public and individual kiruv) :

    "One of the rabbis who approved Slifkin's books, but who preferred to remain anonymous, said the rabbis who banned Slifkin's books were concerned about the books' impact on the non-intellectual general public.

    "I believe Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv makes distinctions between teaching these ideas on an individual basis and making them accessible to the general public," said the anonymous rabbi.

    "I am sure that if Rabbi Elyashiv were asked if it were permissible to teach these ideas to a newcomer to Orthodox Judaism with a strong background in science to resolve his difficulties with a literal understanding of Judaism, Rabbi Elyashiv would allow it. But to open up the study of evolution to the general public is a dangerous proposition."

    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1130954356471&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter

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  28. (Cont.)

    3)See link from R. Tropper and explanation on "they can say it, but not us", from an anonymous comment(not R. Tropper):

    "People today with their reverence for scientists and their weaker faith in Hashem cannot handle such a concept...We cannot handle them. Our emunah, already weak, and our minds, also weak and lacking the ability to hold two ideas at once, suffer from such conceptions as those appearing in this banned book."

    Similarly, FKM writes in response to Marsha's explanation(see link):

    "It could very well be that the Maharsha's explanation is only valid insofar as Chazal's wisdom will not be negatively portrayed when it is presented. This may have been possible at the time when the Maharsha wrote this explanation. Slifkin is using it as leverage here for a wide-ranging approach to Chazal which makes this type of non-negative portrayal impossible in today's skeptical climate."

    The possible problem with both of the above is that you are making pshat in gemera dependent upon how it will affect people's emunah, the latter, which changes with time!

    http://fkmaniac.blogspot.com/2008/02/on-r-slifkins-latest-his-lengthy.html

    http://rabbileibtropper.com/ejf/real-facts-allegations/

    3)This quote in the JP article from an educator about the "real thinkers" supports my idea, above, that "we live in a generation which is not as intellectual as the generation of the Haskalah", and this affected the decison to ban.

    "The educator at Machon Lev agrees that answers should be provided, but believes the apparent contradiction between science and religion is not a burning issue for most religious youth.

    "A century ago the contradiction destroyed the spirituality of thousands of Jews. But today there are many religious scientists and professors who have refuted supposed inconsistencies.

    "I think what truly bothers contemporary religious youth is a much more personal, existential question. The real thinkers are concerned with why they were put on this earth and what they are supposed to do here."

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  29. "He never received your initital letter?!?!?!"

    See:

    https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=6906205856510467947&postID=7886696130111129895

    time stamp: November 20, 2009 11:43 PM

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  30. What R. Elyashiv and R. Feldman, shlita(following the former's view), hold to be kefirah and unacceptable for *anyone* to hold, R. Hershel Shachter endorses l'chatchilah as reasonable:

    Following, apparently, the Geonim's view on Chazal's medicine, R. Hershel Shachter says in "Segulos and Superstition"(24:15on the recording, Torah Web 9/6/09):

    "in the days of the Talmud, the Rabbis were on the cutting edge, picking up from the scientists what's on the cutting edge of science, the cutting edge of medicine...in the days of the Talmud, that was considered the latest news in medicine"

    The bulk of R. Shachter's shiur is about (unfounded)segulos and superstion, not Chazal and Science. In this context, he start off the shiur by saying that "our religion is based on reality", and contrasts it with a cartoon based on Bertrand Russel that 1+1+1=1, a philosophical critique of a different religion.

    My hope is that the "real thinkers" will not conclude otherwise, G-d forbid.

    To be accurate, one should listen to the entire shiur to understand R. Shachter's views fully in context.

    http://www.torahweb.org/audioFrameset.html#audio=rsch_090609

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  31. "A) The Haredi Kiruv movement is capable of dealing with all challenges to faith from the academia and otherwise

    B) We live in a generation which is not as intellectual as the generation of the Haskalah, and such challenges are therefore not that dangerous"

    A is only true BECAUSE of B. But it's true - someone close to Aish told me that Aish stopped the emphasis on logically proving Judaism, focusing instead on "Judaism feels good" i.e. a beautiful Shabbos experience.

    Nebach, but that's the Dor we live in, and if Aish's goal is Kiruv, they have to do what works.

    But for those of us who DO think...

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  32. Another issue which perhaps R. Feldman needs to deal with is the question of historical anachronism.

    R. Slifkin and others can correct me, but the Chazon Ish in Emunah Ubitachon, if I correctly recall, seems to say that the non-Jewish science in times of Chazal, in general, was better than ours.

    The problem with this approach, intutively, is for anyone who has to deal with the interface of secular history with Chazal. Not only must one reject such when it contradicts chazal and midrashim, but we must also construct a new history of the development of science.

    R. Feldman does not deal with the above issue.

    Of course, that may be a reason to reject R. Avroham b. Harambam, as a "gezirah", so to speak, that one will use it to question Chazal on other issues, as for example, Azzariah de Rossi did.

    However, as has been noted in "Slifin, Salem and the Senator", "one's man bread is another's posion". Or, as noted in the above JP article by one of R. Slifkin's rabbinical supporters:

    "I believe people should be allowed to retain their individuality. They should not be asked to behave like robots."

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  33. Moshe, I've been having severe difficulties with my HTML editing program. I'm going to try and fix it tomorrow.

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  34. one needn't turn to the chazon ish - the gemara itself says that (regarding the issue of earth/sun) the opinion of the umot ha'olam is more correct than that of the jews.

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  35. "I do not recall having received a letter from you, and I apologize for not answering it. However, I do recall receiving a list of 38 sources which you said supported R.Avraham’s position. However, when I reviewed them I did not find more than several which were substantive (most of them repeated identical sources) and which would convert R. Avraham’s view into a majority view."
    Can someone please explain what this means. Why does repeating identical sources make it unsubstantial?

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  36. Yehuda asked: "is it possible that you are not doing the right thing by posting a private email sent from one person to another and presumably not meant to be posted on the Internet?"

    I'm sure Rabbi Slifkin asked either permission from Rabbi Feldman, or he asked a shayla if he could post it.

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  37. A is only true BECAUSE of B. But it's true - someone close to Aish told me that Aish stopped the emphasis on logically proving Judaism, focusing instead on "Judaism feels good" i.e. a beautiful Shabbos experience.


    And what happens as soon as it stops "feeling good", which happens all the time for everyone? Life is full of tests; are any of these products of "kiruv" (or the frum kids whose education is also based on a similar approach) ready to deal with them?

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  38. This sounds like, 'I'm sorry if I offended anyone' The issue is not "if" your description misled "some" people, your argument was phrased in a misleading way.


    The argument itself is not based on any particular relationship between Rav Elyashiv and Rav Herzog. The point is that the two were very well acquainted and that Rav Herzog expressed his views quite openly.

    I have the feeling that many here (as in the Haredi world in general) are not very familiar with who Rav Herzog was. He was universally recognized as one of the great poskim of the time and a genuine tzaddik. Of course, others had differences with him on certain issues, but the idea that Rav Elyashiv would consider Rav Herzog a kofer, ch"v, is just absurd.

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  39. Mir Bochur wrote: "Aish stopped the emphasis on logically proving Judaism, focusing instead on "Judaism feels good" i.e. a beautiful Shabbos experience."

    Ephraim replied: "And what happens as soon as it stops "feeling good", which happens all the time for everyone? Life is full of tests; are any of these products of "kiruv" (or the frum kids whose education is also based on a similar approach) ready to deal with them?"


    Ephraim, maybe you shouldn't have treated Mir Bochur's depiction as 100% accurate. You make it seem that the "feel good" approach is all that Aish does.

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  40. "The argument itself is not based on any particular relationship between Rav Elyashiv and Rav Herzog. "

    He has repeatedly been referred to as his "rebbe", it most certainly was.

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  41. Mir Bochur wrote: "Aish stopped the emphasis on logically proving Judaism, focusing instead on "Judaism feels good" i.e. a beautiful Shabbos experience...But for those of us who DO think..."

    Ephraim replied: "And what happens as soon as it stops "feeling good", which happens all the time for everyone? Life is full of tests; are any of these products of "kiruv" (or the frum kids whose education is also based on a similar approach) ready to deal with them?"

    Ephraim, maybe you shouldn't have treated Mir Bochur's depiction of Aish's approach as 100% accurate. You both make it seem that the "feel good" approach is all that Aish does.

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  42. Yirmiahu, I am trying to be melamed zechus on Rav Elyashiv. If you want to believe that he really believes that a shittah found in dozens of Rishonim and Acharonim and endorsed as normative by Rav Herzog, is actually genuine kefirah - with all the halachic consequences thereof - go right ahead.

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  43. Ephraim:

    I suggest you read the kol hamevaser article that appears to have angered you (cited by Shadeof, available here.)

    As you might guess from the title, the author spends a considerable amount of time playing devils advocate and characterizing views that are not his own. It seems unlikely that any creationist would frame his position in quite those terms.

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  44. "Yirmiahu, I am trying to be melamed zechus on Rav Elyashiv."

    For such a limud zchus all you need to do is say "perhaps he means kefirah lav daka" without resorting to equivocation. Again, I am more interested in how you arrive at your positions than the positions themselves (and would you suggest that this is the "historical truth" of Rav Elyashiv's position?).

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  45. Yes, I think that this is Rav Elyashiv's position. I reach this conclusions based on what Rav Feldman told me personally, 4 years ago, and based on Rav Elyashiv's relationship with Rav Herzog and others.

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  46. Why do we care what Rav Elyashiv says? When did he become a gadol? I never heard of him beofre five years ago or so, and I've spoken to many orinary Orthodox Jews who have told me the same thing -- that they never heard of him before 5-10 years ago.

    I'm sure Rav Elyashiv knows a lot of gemara but that doesn't make him a gadol by any means. What has he actually accomplished? Has he founded any institutions? Has he written any seforim of note (or any at all)? Does he give weekly inspiring lectures? Pray tell, what makes him a "gadol"?

    If you ask me, I think Rabbi Slifkin has done a lot more for Judaism than Rav Elyashiv ever has.

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  47. Yehudah, many poskim consider him the greatest halachist/ posek.

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  48. I suggest you read the kol hamevaser article that appears to have angered you


    I read it and it's very important reading. The part I liked best was where he mentions Rabbi Slifkin:


    As Natan Slifkin prefaces his The Challenge of Creation, those people who have achieved a level of ignorance that would shame a starfish (assuming the existence of starfish poses no theological problems) should maintain their ignorance. They “are not the intended audience of this book and they are advised not to read it.”

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  49. He makes out as though I called such people "stupid." I did not such thing.

    By the way, can anyone recommend a free and simply program that will let me edit the HTML on my website?

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  50. I believe the shiur that R' Elyashiv attended was a special chaburo every Friday morning. It was also attended by R' Shlomo Zalman from memory. That being said, R' Elyashiv seems to have moved a long way from his days at Heichal Shlomo so it's plausible that he might also now reject the views of R' Herzog.

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  51. R' Elyashiv seems to have moved a long way from his days at Heichal Shlomo so it's plausible that he might also now reject the views of R' Herzog.


    There are two problems with this:

    1)As the original post points out, the question here is not what R. Elyashiv himself believes but what he considers to be a "permissible belief" for anyone, if that means anything.

    2)It is in any case practically impossible to even imagine that anyone really thinks that Chazal knew all of modern science or even knew better than modern scientists. Ignoring Rav Herzog, it is a huge embarassment to Rav Elyashiv to say that he believes such an idea.

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  52. Well, with regard to the second point, his grandfather, the Leshem, believed that - he writes that every single statement of Chazal was based on Sod Hashem Liyreyav.

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  53. "every single statement of Chazal was based on Sod Hashem Liyreyav."

    Rabbi Slifkin,
    I do not understand how this statement proves Chazal knew all of modern science or that their statements regarding nature need to be taken as literally true.

    If anything, to my mind this statement strongly urges the exact opposite view.

    Cheers,
    Hillel

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  54. Take a look at this video of an askan with Rav Elyashiv:

    http://qurl.com/4lm5m

    It demonstrates very clearly that things that he's quoted as saying are reflections of askanim, not of Rav Elyashiv himself.

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  55. Hillel, it means that (a) Chazal knew things about nature via ruach hakodesh, and (b) even if they were speaking allegorically, the point is that they were infallible.

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  56. "(a) Chazal knew things about nature via ruach hakodesh, and (b) even if they were speaking allegorically, the point is that they were infallible."

    Rabbi Slifkin,
    Exactly! In other words, even according to this view, Chazal did not 'know' science because of their studies of nature, but knew only what Hashem told them via ruach hakodesh.

    But there is no basis for believing that Hashem told them everything there is to know about science or nature, nor is there any reason to believe we are able to understand the true meanings of the sodot Hashem told to 'reiav', much less that such sodot are to be taken literally.

    Thus, according to the above view, when Chazal say the cure for rabies is eating the liver of the rabid dog (I realize this is a disputed statement), what was meant was "take one dose of HRIG and four doses of rabies vaccine over a 14-day period", bur alas, we are unable to discern the true meaning of what Chazal said. Chazal spoke in such unclear terms, presumably, because they were under orders from Hashem not to directly reveal truths the world was not ready for. (At least, this is how it was explained to my by several people - not big rabbis - who hold of this position.)

    Saying Chazal were wrong when they made a statement and modern scientists are right, or saying Chazal actually meant the exact same thing as modern scientists, but are unable to understand it - this is a distinction without any real difference.

    The nafka mina comes from those who say Chazal were infallible because their statements must be taken literally, and because they knew all of science. However, I see nothing from the words of the Leshem (which I have not seen inside) to mandate such a view. To contrary, by couching it in terms of sodot, the exact opposite seems to be the case.

    Cheers,
    Hillel

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  57. Hillel,
    Infallibility to me means that one cannot make any errors whatsoever.

    So why do you (or others) twist yourselves into pretzels trying to defend the premise of “infallibility of Chazal”, when on nearly any page in the Talmud, chazal themselves, indirectly, admit that they were not without error. By this i refer to Chazal reporting on historical matters. By the very fact that there are hundreds of disputes about details of historical events proves that at least one, if not both sages, reporting on a particular event, were wrong, i.e. fallible.

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  58. Natan Slifkin, It's time that you humble yourself, admit your mistakes and apologize to these sages that you have insulted. Don't blame Tropper or any other Rosh Yeshivas for your unpopularity in the Torah world.
    Shuvah Israel ad Adoshem Elokecha!

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  59. Would you care to specify the mistakes that I made and the insults that I said?

    Incidentally, I am quite content to be popular with the people that I am popular with, and unpopular with the type of people that I am unpopular with.

    (By the way, the policy here is not to allow anonymous comments. I let yours through this time, but I won't again. Why not use your real name - what are you afraid of?)

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  60. I am quite content to be popular with the people that I am popular with, and unpopular with the type of people that I am unpopular with.

    Chazal call that הוי זנב לאריות, ואל תהי ראש לשועלים

    (I'm not anon of 8:07 PM)

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  61. 1) Jewish Worker posted the following:

    "Someone told me that his son came from home school and said that his Rebbe had told him the following. We shouldn't think that we are better nowadays because we have modern technology. In fact, the Rebbe said, Shlomo Hamelech was the wisest man who ever lived and he knew everything the scientists know and he could have created cars, phones, etc., anything that we have from modern technology. Why didn't he do it? He felt that a simple non-technological lifestyle was better.

    I was stunned speechless. I could not respond. After this conversation I definately better understand the reaction to R' Slifkin's books and the Charedi attitude towards science and scientists. "

    http://jewishworker.blogspot.com/2006/01/could-shlomo-hamelech-have-invented.html


    2) The history of the development of science would apparently be another issue that separates the rationalists from mystics.

    The Charedi approach insulates people from challenges to faith, and therefore anything is possible. However, for people who delve into the interface of secular history, maskilic issues, the resolution of which is much more fundamental to basic Jewish belief, the former issue of the history of science becomes more of a problematic issue.

    3) The Kuzari(2, 66) indeed traces the development of science from Shlomo to Chaldaeans, to Persians and Medians, then to Greece, and finally to the Romans.

    Note that the Chazon Ish in Emunah Ubitachon distinguishes between applied and theoretical science, the former, which only the moderns developed.

    There are also sources about Shlomo Hamelech's transcendent wisdom, wisdom of Bnai Yisacher mentioned in the Rambam by Kiddush Hachodesh, Sanhedrin's knowledge(see Kuzari 2:64), Maseh Bereshis as interpretaed by Ramban(see preface to Ramban on Torah), kabbalah sources on Sefer Yetzirah, etc, so I leave the issue, and the need for cogent explanations open.

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  62. (Cont.)

    A few sources on whether Chazal and Rishonim could theoretically have invented modern technology:

    A) R. Leib Ratick in the name of R. Yosef Leib Nandick, Kletsk Mashgiach(see Yated article) held that Rishonim could have invented modern technology.

    http://jewishworker.blogspot.com/2007/07/could-shlomo-hamelech-have-invented.html

    It is interesting to note that De Vinci had plans for a flying machine--see link.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Design_for_a_Flying_Machine.jpg

    B) Mahartz Chiyus, a semi-Maskil held that Moshe/Shlomo Hamelech could have invented the printing press.

    http://divreichaim.blogspot.com/2007/11/could-shlomo-hamelech-have-invented.html

    http://onthemainline.blogspot.com/2007/10/maharatz-chajes-theory-of-true.html

    C) Rabbi Sender Goldberg, in response to R. Aharon Feldman's article, considers the possibility("My personal theory is that most certainly if Chazal wanted to invest the time into scientific research, after a generation or two, they could have invented an atomic bomb").

    D) Some comments in the Divrei Chaim link have said that the Ben Ish Chai and Ohr Yahel held similar views as the Mahratez Chiyus, but they did not give sources; I would be interested if anyone have seen these sources.

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  63. There seems to be an assumption among some that deliberating and opposing the views of other scholars is somehow illegitimate.

    Kol HaKavod to the Admor MeSlifka-the more debate occurs the greater the chances that the truth will float to the surface.

    The intolerant among us should attempt to cease ad hominem attacks on the R' Slifkin and start disucssimg intelligently.

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  64. FYI-The Admor MeSlifka is very popular in rationalist circles. Anybody who promotes truth will ultimately attract many followers, and in the Admor's case, he already has.

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  65. I admire Rabbi Slifkin's efforts to open minds in the hashqafic realm. I admire Rabbi David Bar-Hayim's efforts (www.machonshilo.org) to open up minds in the halachic realm.

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  66. The person who quoted the Ben Ish Chai in the first comment below sounds incorrect, from his opinion in Benayahu, one of the 40+ sources quoted by R. Slifkin.

    RYGB quotes the Benayahu, below, in the comments to second link:

    http://divreichaim.blogspot.com/2007/11/could-shlomo-hamelech-have-invented.html

    https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=20173285&postID=7251478785832599622&isPopup=true

    ספר בניהו להרב בן איש חי, בבא בתרא

    כה ב:

    "דע כי מ"ש ר"א ור"י כאן בענין מהלך החמה אמרו זה לפי השערת השכל מה שנראה להם בחכמת התכונה, ולא החליטו דברים אלו לאמת אותם אלא כל אחד כפי שנראה לו על פי כללים דחכמת התכונה שבידו, אבל לא אמרו דברים אלו בקבלה מרבותם, ולכן עתה בזמן הזה שנתפשטו הכללים של חכמת התכונה ונתחכמו לעשות כלים של ראייה בכוכבים ומזלות ובכדור הארץ הארץ ובמעלות השמש, המה ראו וידעו כמה דברים שנראה להחליט אותם אליבא דאמת והסכמת הכל, שהחמה הולכת בלילה למטה מכדור הארץ בעבר השני של הכדור, וכן נראה מזוה"ק ומדברי רז"ל גם כן במדרשים, ודבר זה מפורש בפסחים פרק מי שהיה... ואם חכמי ישראל אמרו דבר זה מן הקבלה שבידם, איך אומר נראין דברי אוה"ע מדברינו, וגם איך עושה הוכחה מסברא דמעיינות רותחים לדחות דברי קבלה ח"ו, אלא ודאי חכמי ישראל לא החליטו דברים אלו לאמת אלא אמרו שהשערת השכל כן נראה לומר על פי חכמת התכונה שהיתה בזמנם, ולא אמרו אלא בדרך אפשר".

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  67. Shades, you can scratch the Ben-Ish Chai of the Chazal were wrong list.

    ספר בניהו בן יהוידע על פסחים דף צד/ב

    שם ונראין דבריהם מדברינו. פירוש כפי השערת השכל נראין דבריהם בעולם יותר מדברינו,

    אבל ודאי כפי האמת דברי חכמי ישראל הם באמת וצדק. ולכן גם עתה שאומר נראין דבריהם קרי לדברי חכמי ישראל דברינו, כי רק מצד חסרון ידיעה שיש לבני אדם בעניינים אלו אז נראין דברי חכמי אומות העולם יותר,
    ולכן לא אמר תשובה לחכמי ישראל שביום מעיינות צוננין וכו' כי אין זו תשובה וטענה לפי האמת לסתור דבריהם.

    ועיין להרב ספר הברית במאמר ד' פרק יו"ד מ"ש בזה יע"ש, ואופן הישוב אשר עשה יש לעמוד עליו ואין כאן מקום להאריך בו. ואני אומר דמה שאמרו חכמי ישראל חמה ביום מהלכת למטה מן הרקיע ובלילה למעלה מן הרקיע לא קאי על גוף החמה, אלא קאי על כח הנשמה שלה אשר תוקף החום שלה הוא בא מן כח הנשמה שבה, וזה יסתלק ממנה בלילה להיות מהלך למעלה מן הרקיע שלה שעל ידי כן יתרחק מגופה הרבה מאד וממילא יחלש כח החום הבא ממנה, והוא בדוגמת האדם שהוא ישן שיסתלק ממנו כח הנפשיי שבו וישאר בגופו כח נפשיי קצת לצורך חיותו. וחכמי אומות העולם אומרים בלילה כח הנפשיי של החמה מתהלך תחת הקרקע, פירוש תחת קרקע ארץ העליונה הנקראת תבל שאנחנו דרים בה. וכאשר תשכיל להבין איך הוא מצב שבעה ארצות, ואיך הם עומדין בכדור הארץ תבין דברי אלה בטוב טעם. ובמקום אחר כתבתי בזה ואין כאן מקום
    להאריך בו:

    ואיך שיהיה ידוע תדע באמת
    ובאמונה כי דברי חכמי ישראל בכל מקום המה חיים וקיימים שהם אמת ודבריהם אמת,

    ומלבד הסוד אשר כוונו לרמוז אותו בתוך דבריהם, הנה לפעמים תמצא שגם בדרך הפשטי יש להם כונה עמוקה ומחמת שאנחנו חסרים כמה הקדמות גם בדרך הפשט לכך אין אנחנו מבינים כונתם על האמת אפילו כפי הפשט של הדברים,

    ואנחנו מצפים לביאת מורה
    צדק שאז השם יתברך יאיר עינינו ונראה נפלאות מתורתו ונבין דברי חכמים וחידותם ונשיג האמת לאמיתו:b

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  68. Eitan, you have two conflicting positions from the Ben Ish Chai. Why are you sure that your source reflects his true view? In fact, the other source was written later.

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  69. Would someone by chance know whether Rav Feldman is viewing all of these postings? Perhaps it would be productive for defenders of the Admor MeSlifka to send letters to Rav Feldman requesting further clarifications? Perhaps his address should be posted?

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  70. They cancel each other out, and opinion remains unknown.

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  71. "By the way, can anyone recommend a free and simply program that will let me edit the HTML on my website?"

    I use a program called Kompozer.
    It is free and very simple to use and produces very simple editable html code.

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  72. I still have a problem with something being acceptable for one class of
    yidden to learn and be banned from another class.
    Emess is Emess it doesn't change according to the perspective of the viewer.
    I understand the reasons but it still doesn't seem right to me especially now in the age of the internet that anyone can check .
    Oops I forgot the internet is banned

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  73. "Yehudah, many poskim consider him the greatest halachist/ posek." -- Rabbi Slifkin

    My point is that this whole gadol culture is a game. Based on what criteria is he considereed the greatest posek of our generation? And if he's such a great posek, how come most of the world never heard of him until fairly recently?

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  74. Dear Rabbi Slifkin,

    I was disturbed that you posted a private letter on the internet. I asked a Rav if this was Muttar. He replied that it violated the Takanah of Rabeinu Gershon.

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  75. Mike, what is there in Rabbi Feldman's letter that he would not want publicized?!

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  76. the Rebbe said, Shlomo Hamelech was the wisest man who ever lived and he knew everything the scientists know and he could have created cars, phones, etc., anything that we have from modern technology.


    Here is the core of the problem.

    There is nothing problematic at all about saying that Shlomo Hamelech (or Chazal, or whoever) was extremely intelligent (assuming that is what is meant by "wise"). Of course, ancient people were probably just as intelligent as anyone today, and there were certainly many geniuses back then.

    The problem comes with making the baseless inference from that to the idea that they "could have done X". This totally ignores the fact that knowledge depends on previous knowledge and on all sorts of technological inventions, many of which came about by accident or through practically insane amounts of work by people who were basically obsessed with what they were doing (read about the Mount Wilson telescope, for example). One can only suspect that the people making these statements have no real scientific or engineering experience.

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  77. Mike Rose- n one can ask a shaila on someone else's behalf. It is not only rude, but silly. Who are you to assume a prior shaila was not asked by the man involved? On top of that, there are those who say that if you know when you write it that chances are it will be publicized (as anyone with 2 brain cells to rub together should have known in this case as the whole affair is public) there is no thought of it being a private letter.

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  78. "And if he's such a great posek, how come most of the world never heard of him until fairly recently?"

    Maybe you've been living in a cave, but he's been considered the leading posek in EY (along with RSZA) for the last 30+ years.

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  79. "knowledge depends on previous knowledge and on all sorts of technological inventions, many of which came about by accident or through practically insane amounts of work by many people"

    I second Ephraim's comment. This is an important point in understanding how technological progress works. In popular media, the brilliance of individual scientists, and the importance of said brilliance in driving innovation is incredibly overemphasized. People forget that it takes an army of scientists, engineers, and support staff for discoveries to take place, and an even bigger army to transform those initial discoveries into a usable product.

    All new developments and inventions are incremental, and even the most groundbreaking work by the most brilliant people occurs in the context of an existing community working on similar questions or problems.

    It is ludicrous to think that Shlomo HaMelech could have, for example, developed a rocket engine capable of carrying a person into space without the existing collective knowledge of metallurgy, mechanical engineering, fuel chemistry, and other disciplines that was unavailable before the 20th century, and millions of man-hours of very smart people around the world experimenting and working to sort through all the kinks to make it happen.

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  80. Also I thought the Takanah of Rabbeinu Gershom was only in regard to opening a letter addressed to someone else not re publicizing a letter addressed to yourself (Also the Takannah has expired)

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  81. Here is what the Rambam says about those who interpret Torah literally when it is contrary to reason:

    The first group – and they are the majority of those whom I have met, and whose works I saw, and of whom I have heard – understand [the words of the Aggadah] according to their literal interpretation, and they do not explain them at all. For them, all that is impossible has become necessary. They believe this because of their ignorance of wisdom and their distance from knowledge, and they lack the perfection which would have made them aware of this on their own… . This unfortunate groups is to be pitied for their ignorance, because, in their own opinion, they have elevated the Sages, while they in fact lower them to the ultimate depth, and they are unaware of it. I swear by G-d that this group destroys the glory of the Torah and tarnishes its radiance, and they pervert G-d’s Torah into the opposite of what it was intended to be. …

    The second group also numbers many, and they are those that saw the words of the sages or heard them and understood them literally. They thought that the intention of the Sages was only the simple literal meaning of the words, and consequently they made light of it and defamed it, and considered strange that which is not strange. They frequently mocked the words of the Sages and considered themselves wiser than them and possessed of greater clarity of thought. [They considered the Sages] unintelligent and foolish, ignorant of all reality and totally lacking in understanding… They are an accursed group who revolt against people of lofty stature, whose wisdom is known by the wise….

    The third group, by G-d, they are few in number…. They are the people to whom the greatness of our Sages and the excellence of their intelligence is clear, because their words show great truths… Furthermore, the impossibility of that which is impossible, and the existence of that which must exist is also clear to them. They know that [the Sages] did not talk nonsense. It is clear to them that among their words are some that are meant literally and [others] with hidden meaning, and that everything they said which is impossible, is only by way of riddle or parable. Such is the way of the very wise…. Why should we wonder that they composed their wisdom by way of parable, and compared it to lowly, common matters? They themselves interpret the verses of Scripture and remove them from their plain meaning, and turn them into a parable; and [indeed] this is correct. Similarly, one of them said that the entire book of Job is a parable, but did not explain what the moral was. In a like manner, one said that the incident of the dry bones at the time of Ezekiel (Ez. Ch. 37) is a parable, and there are many such instances.

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  82. David T. said...
    "Mike, what is there in Rabbi Feldman's letter that he would not want publicized?!"

    Since when should that be the criterion upon which to decide whether or not to publish someone else's letter?

    Shlomo said: "(Also the Takannah has expired)"

    Let me guess, it ended in about the year 2000, 1000 years after he made the decree. Right?

    Rachel said: "there are those who say that if you know when you write it that chances are it will be publicized"

    Do you mean: "there are those who say that if you know when you write it that chances are it will be ILLEGALLY publicized"?

    (None of these were accusations against you, Rabbi Slifkin. I'm just disagreeing with the way people are stating their case.)

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  83. It is ludicrous to think that Shlomo HaMelech could have, for example, developed a rocket engine capable of carrying a person into space without the existing collective knowledge of metallurgy, mechanical engineering, fuel chemistry, and other disciplines that was unavailable before the 20th century, and millions of man-hours of very smart people around the world experimenting and working to sort through all the kinks to make it happen.


    I'll just add that the people who claim to disagree with this are actually questioning the Ribbono Shel Olam's Hashgacha in arranging history the way He did, with scientific and technological knowledge and prowess growing from generation to generation. They are the ones who lack emunah, and who think they could run the world better than HKBH.

    (BTW, they also seem to agree that there has been much progress in, say, the last few hundred years. There still are plenty of buildings and even tools from the time of the Rishonim around, and we see how what we have today is infinitely superior. What is eating at these people that prevents them from accepting that this sort of thing has been going on throughout history, and that this is part of Hashem's plan?)

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  84. "and contemporary Roshei Yeshivah who have acknowledged it as a legitimate normative view from the Rishonim."

    Who?

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  85. The Roshei Yeshivah of RIETS.

    And Rav Feldman himself, until a few years ago.

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  86. "The Roshei Yeshivah of RIETS."

    There are many, which ones?

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  87. Most and probably all. Certainly Rav Herschel Schechter.

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  88. Pliny- legally one may publish their own mail. You were discussing halachically- do not confuse the two.

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  89. Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
    Why have you not removed the incorrect information regarding Rabbi Feldman's meeting with Rav Elyashiv from your website?

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  90. Dave, I changed it a few days ago.

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  91. Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
    You wrote on your website that a senior member of the Ner Israel faculty said that Rav Elyashiv said it is okay to read your books for kiruv purposes.You also wrote that Rabbi Feldman granted permission for someone to read the books.Who is this senior member of the Ner Israel faculty? Why don't you name him? I don't believe anyone actually said this to you. I believe Rabbi Feldman over you.

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  92. I don't want to name him, because the email from him was probably not supposed to be passed on to me. If you want to consider me a liar, well, there's nothing much for me to say other than to insist that I'm not.

    It's not a matter of choosing who to believe, Rav Feldman or me. I'm not arguing with him. It's a matter of whether you believe this person's claim at the time of what Rav Feldman said, or what Rav Feldman now says happened at the time.

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  93. Yes, I do believe you are a liar. This isn't the first time you have lied.

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  94. Well, if you think that I actually fabricated an email, I guess we have nothing more to discuss.

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  95. Rachel had written:
    "there are those who say that if you know when you write it that chances are it will be publicized...there is no thought of it being a private letter."

    I replied:
    Do you mean: "there are those who say that if you know when you write it that chances are it will be ILLEGALLY publicized"?

    Rachel replied: "Pliny- legally one may publish their own mail. You were discussing halachically- do not confuse the two."

    Actually, I wasn't thinking halachically /or/ legally; I was thinking morally, but I chose the wrong word. Perhaps if I changed "ILLEGALLY" to "WRONGLY" it would help you answer my challenge.

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  96. Rabbi, Slifkin I fail to understand what you hope to prove from the Gemara in Pesachim, 94, and the many sources you bring that take this Gemara at face value. Rabbi Yehudah Hanassi was a prominent member of Chazal ; in fact he is the epitome of Chazal. Just as no one can possibly claim it is permissible to argue on Chazal in matters of Halachah because they argued amongst themselves, so too, it is absurd to suggest that we can argue on Chazal in matters of science because Rabbi Yehudah hanassi did. Chazal can argue on Chazal; we cannot. If we assume that there is in fact no difference between the words of chazal pertaining to Halacha and their words pertaining to science, than we must conclude that the Gemarah in Pesachim is just another example of a machlokes , one of the thousands we pour over in Shas.

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  97. There is no contradiction in the Ben Ish Chai. He says the science may be incorrect (in the BB source) but there is another level al pi nistar in which they are correct (in the Pesachim source).

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  98. "Shortly after Rav Feldman's meeting with Rav Elyashiv, I was forwarded the following e-mail from a senior member of the Ner Israel faculty: 'If I understood the Rosh Yeshivah correctly, he asked Rav Eliyashiv after the Nusach had been written, what the staus would be in Kiruv, and that the answer was that it was OK. I do not know why Rav Feldman did not include this in his letter. It could be that I misunderstood him but I do not think so. You could ask Rabbi Weisbord who was there at the time.'

    "Rabbi Weisbord"... Is it possible that the Ner Israel faculty member meant that Rabbi Weisbord was present at the time this conversation between the faculty member and R' Feldman took place, in Baltimore? Not that he was present at the meeting between between R' Elyashiv and R'Feldman in Israel?

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  99. Someone told me that the Leshem (Rav Elyashiv's grandfather) endorses the view that there was some sort of pre-historic man. Can anyone confirm this?

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  100. George Wynschenk[Gershon]June 21, 2013 at 1:10 PM

    Rav Eliashiv's Z't'l's shver was Rav Reb Aryeh Levine Zatzal. Whether that means he was his Rebbe is something else.
    However,at Rabbimeirbaalhaneis.com[their syntax] ,it says he was close to [quote]:''other great Torah scholars on the Beis Din such as Rabbi Betzalel Zolty, Rabbi Yaakov Ades, Rabbi Eliezer Goldsmidt, and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef''.
    Later on it says that :''1989, Rabbi Elazar Menachem Mann Shach, the famed Rosh Yeshiva of Ponevezh and undisputed leader of Orthodoxy in Israel requested that Rabbi Elyashiv take a more active role in Jewish public life. It did not take very long and Rabbi Shach, who had lost virtually all his vision and hearing, passed the mantle of leadership to Rabbi Elyashiv, who has carried the position to this very day.''
    Whether Rav Yosef,Rav Shach or the others were his Rebbe i also don't know.


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