Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Following this Blog

Since my track record for my pace and consistency in posting is, to say the least, erratic, some people have told me that in the slack periods, they stop checking this website, and as a result they miss posts. So I have added a "subscribe by email" box on the right, for those who don't use RSS readers and suchlike. Just type in your email address, and you'll have the posts automatically mailed to you when they appear.

I am also curious to know how many of my readers share my general approach and how many do not. At the right, a little further down, you will see a poll. Please vote! This is not to prove which approach is correct; it's to see whether I am succeeding in attracting like-minded people.

18 comments:

  1. Is it your blogging goal to attract like minded readers? I would think you would want to attract not-like minded people (to your blog and books) to influence them towards your thinking.

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  2. No, I don't want to do that at this stage. I'm not convinced that people are better off being rationalists (even though I think that the rationalist approach is correct).

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  3. I'm not convinced that people are better off being rationalists (even though I think that the rationalist approach is correct).
    And in an evolutionary kind of way, that meme isn't very fit. The Aish style memes that aggressively seek to colonize new minds will naturally find more targets.

    Does this mean rationalism is doomed? No, but it argues that in the long run aggressive rationalism such as espoused by Dawkins and pharyngula is more likely to carry the day than 'the rationalism that dares to speak its name, only quietly and without making much of a fuss.'

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  4. In the (En)light(ment) nowMarch 16, 2010 at 4:37 PM

    I'm not convinced that people are better off being rationalists (even though I think that the rationalist approach is correct).

    I cannot begin to tell you how disgusted I am with that attitude. The truth is for everyone. You don't get to sit like a Machiavellian prince, deciding for whom ignorance and untruth is better. You're not the only one who suffers from this mental malady; James Kugel has said on numerous occasions that he doesn't think that things he thinks are true (e.g. modern bible scholarship) should be taught to everyone. You Machiavellis would choose to leave other people in the dark just so you can have a minyan. Well, I was once that person you would leave in the dark, and I didn't appreciate it.

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  5. "This is not to prove which approach is correct..."

    In any case, how would a majority of opinion "prove" what approach is correct?

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  6. I strongly believe that people would be better off as rationalists (AND that the approach is correct). I also firmly believe that it is preferable for a person to have emuna without rationalism than rationalism without emuna. The delicate challenge, therefore, is to teach people rationalism without harming their emuna.

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  7. On the contrary - you should want to attract not-like minded people so they can debate you and maybe influence you. Isn't that the point?

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  8. "I am also curious to know how many of my readers share my general approach and how many do not. "

    By 'general approach', do you mean rationalism, or do you mean the way you're packaging what you're trying to communicate?

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  9. Anonymous - I think the total number of people who have converted from non-rationalist to rationalist and have been subsequently convinced that non-rationalist is correct, is probably somewhere in the region of zero.

    Pliny - I mean my application of rationalism.

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  10. I follow this blog (and others) with google reader and never miss a posting as you never have to check the website.

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  11. Rabbi Slifkin,
    have you eaten salmon during the last few weeks? I was waiting for a post that deals specifically with the current kashrut problem, but I haven't seen it yet. Here is a link to Rabbi Chaim Goldberg's response. In it he cites Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, one of the main poskim for OU Kashrut. I think that it is fair to assume that it will continue to be the OU position on the issue. http://www.kashrutnews.com/2010/03/whats-going-on-with-bugs-in-fish.html

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  12. Born again ChristianMarch 17, 2010 at 1:06 AM

    "Anonymous - I think the total number of people who have converted from non-rationalist to rationalist and have been subsequently convinced that non-rationalist is correct, is probably somewhere in the region of zero."

    Are you joking?

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  13. Hassidei HaAdmor MeSlifkaMarch 17, 2010 at 9:46 AM

    A possible suggestion-encourage rationalism but also encourage all to strengthen one's emunah and yirat shamayim. Let us encourage the use of the brain while keeping our eye on the ball of avodat Hashem. As rationalist as we get we must remember that there are chovot halevavot such as the mitzvah of yirat shamayim which apply at all times.

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  14. Hassidei HaAdmor MeSlifkaMarch 17, 2010 at 9:50 AM

    I think that a reasonable approach towards the rationalist approach is to make it available for those who are interested while not necessarily pushing it towards those who would be spiritually vulnerable to such an apporach, e.g. certain hard-core Haredi elements.

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  15. In the (En)light(ment) now:

    The truth is for everyone.

    Yes, but I think you're not really disagreeing with Rabbi Slifkin, or at least, not as much as you think. This blog is public (as is zootorah). His books are available, if not in every neighborhood. He makes public appearances.

    As I see it, the disagreement is whether he (as a stand-in for "rationalist Judaism") should actively pursue people who are ignorant/unconvinced, or if he should present his view as best as he can to everyone, and those who are interested will begin to participate.

    Rabbi Slifkin is on record as saying that his approach is not for everyone, but I don't think that he would advocate making his views less accessible than they are now.

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  16. Hassidei HaAdmor MeSlifkaMarch 17, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    I would actually like to suggest that people do let others know about this blog, letting people know that those who are looking for a rationalist approach-have an address. Those who do need this approach should know it exists.

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  17. "Rabbi Slifkin is on record as saying that his approach is not for everyone"

    But why? What reason does he give? The reason he gives is not that his position isn't true, but that it might shake someone's emunah. That is repugnant. That kind of ends-justifies-the-means attitude about keeping other people in ignorance and untruth is despicable. Who are you to say that they're better off in the dark? Maybe, like I was, they're desperate for someone to explain it to them, to tell them what everyone is keeping from them. I bear a deep grudge against people with the attitude evinced by R' Slifkin, deciding for themselves that I was better off being treated like a mushroom—kept in the dark and fed s***—while they get to dine in the light. I should be lied to because you think it'll keep me in line??

    There's a retch-inducing example of this attitude here:

    At the heart of the neoconservative attack on Darwinism lies the political philosophy of Leo Strauss. Strauss was a German political philosopher who fled the Nazis in 1938 and began teaching at the University of Chicago in 1949. In an intellectual revolt against modernity, Strauss focused his work on interpreting such classics as Plato's Republic and Machiavelli's The Prince.

    Kristol has acknowledged his intellectual debt to Strauss in a recent autobiographical essay. "What made him so controversial within the academic community was his disbelief in the Enlightenment dogma that `the truth will make men free.'" Kristol adds that "Strauss was an intellectual aristocrat who thought that the truth could make some [emphasis Kristol's] minds free, but he was convinced that there was an inherent conflict between philosophic truth and political order, and that the popularization and vulgarization of these truths might import unease, turmoil and the release of popular passions hitherto held in check by tradition and religion with utterly unpredictable, but mostly negative, consequences."

    Kristol agrees with this view. "There are different kinds of truths for different kinds of people," he says in an interview. "There are truths appropriate for children; truths that are appropriate for students; truths that are appropriate for educated adults; and truths that are appropriate for highly educated adults, and the notion that there should be one set of truths available to everyone is a modern democratic fallacy. It doesn't work."


    R' Slifkin, you must rethink your attitude.

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  18. In general, I agree with this blog.

    However, I find it comical when R. Slifkin takes what I am now calling the Cheredi Rationalist approach.

    I find the unwillingness to read texts as if they are real people with life and nuance and expressions to be very comical.

    You can see this with the recent Kidney debate, as well as with what was written about Rashi and corporealism.

    Personally, I think the more rational approach would be to compare the various ways different groups interpret the text and not to stick to only the Charedi reading.

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