Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Providence in My Life

Hashgachah pratis - Divine Providence - is a very, very difficult topic. In The Challenge Of Creation, I have a chapter devoted to exploring various aspects of it - the extent to which it operates, and the mechanism via which it works. We see that the Rishonim had a far more restricted view of providence than that which is prevalent today.

But I have to say that in my own life, I see incredible providence in all sorts of areas - marriage, career, health, home. Yes, I am aware of all the psychological explanations of how people are wired to perceive patterns where none exist. But I can't help it; there are so many things in my life that seem incredibly providential.

There is one particular area which some people have commented upon. Beginning nearly six years ago, I was the target of a campaign which caused incredible hardship for my family and myself. Today, several years later, Baruch Hashem I am fine. And where are the people who engineered this campaign and who attacked me? One rabbi, who initiated the campaign, has gone to prison for many years. Another rabbi, who was involved in rallying support for the ban and who emailed me at the time to tell me that everyone is appalled at my "nefarious" behavior, had his career and reputation destroyed when it emerged that he was involved in disgusting abuses of power involving women. The rabbi who called me from Bnei Brak to deliver the ultimatum that I must retract my books or "face scandal and humiliation," has had to flee Bnei Brak and go into hiding as a result of his involvement with a financial scandal. A Rosh Yeshivah in Bnei Brak who was also involved in engineering the campaign has had some of his talmidim renounce him in disgust as a result of his involvement with the same financial scandal. And now a rabbi who viciously attacked me in two shiurim and a public letter, who claimed to be motivated by concern for rabbinic authority, is being publicly condemned, with calls for his employers to disassociate from him, as a result of audio recordings of him insulting a distinguished rabbinic authority and equating Modern Orthodoxy with Conservative Judaism.

A Rav that I know commented on the incredible display of Divine poetic justice here. Indeed! But in this particular category of providential events in my life, I can see how it can be reconciled with a certain view of providence. According to this view, providence does not mean God actually intervening, but rather that He has set things up such that those who engage in evil eventually bring destruction upon themselves, while those who pursue good find peace and tranquility. In this situation, it means that people who engage in vicious acts of kanna'us are usually people who are trying to make up for huge shortcomings in their own life, and/or vicious people who eventually go too far. Either way, they end up with their just desserts.

Approaching the Yamim Nora'im, and the sixth anniversary of that fateful call from Bnei Brak, I find this message not only inspirational, but also very timely.

71 comments:

  1. Binfol oyvecha al tismach.
    As a fan of your work I am glad to see some measure of justice served to those who unfairly harmed you. I believe that in the future you will be vindicated and emerge as the “winner” in this ordeal. However I would suggest you stay far away from displaying even a whiff of what could be misunderstood as gloating. It is beneath you and detracts from your respectability.

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  2. This is something that I have grappled with extensively. The Rav that I spoke to drew a distinction between inappropriate gloating and marveling at hashgachah.

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  3. See too here:
    R. Basil Herring, "Should Jews Rejoice When Their Enemy Falls?" Tradition 32:2 (Winter 1998)

    and
    http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2009/12/rejoice-at-enemys-downfall.html

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  4. I once heard a great shiur from Rav Moshe Shapiro about why revenge is permissible in some cases e.g. the go'el hadam. It has to do with reasserting the value of the life that was lost by restoring the balance - showing that the other person's blood is not redder than his.

    I think that this would apply in this case, too. When a person's reputation has been unfairly damaged by others, it is appropriate for that person to be glad when the balance is restored. He is vindicated when those who sullied his reputation are themselves shown to lack credibility.

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  5. Reasonable folks can disagree. I tend to agree with anonymous, especially since in other cases hashgacha "seems" not always to have worked out in the "poetic justice" perception of human beings. So while an individual who does see that in his life (and "Yes, I am aware of all the psychological explanations of how people are wired to perceive patterns where none exist. But I can't help" is certainly worthy of more general consideration-why did HKB"H hard wire us this way), others might see otherwise in their lives and be tempted to go OTD.

    I prefer the "I do my best and HKB"H has my back no matter what the result" approach to emunah/bitachon.

    Continued Hatzlacha

    KT
    Joel Rich

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  6. The way we can see if these people were/are truly doing everything for Hashem is to see how they carry themselves throughout life. By revealing their debased nature they show that all they really care about is power and money. They would turn oh G-D if it gave them more power and money, it just happens to be they get power and money by "promoting" G-D.

    We can learn a valuable lesson from this that I won't go into here, but the gist of it is that we must always ask ourselves, "why am I doing this?" If
    It is for personal glory, regardless of whether it is right or wrong, it probable shouldn't be done.

    I hope you and everyone who reads this has a meaningful elul.

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  7. Hassidei HaAdmor MeSlifkaAugust 25, 2010 at 4:00 PM

    Yes, it is indeed quite interesting to note the hasgaha pratith in the Slifkin case as well as in the case of the many, many who had a role in the expulsion of over 10,000 Jews from Gush Qatif, e.g., Ariel Sharon.

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  8. Rabbi Orlofsky's reprehensible attack on Rabbi Slifkin and Rabbi Weinreb should indeed be condemned.

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  9. Coincidence?-I see the newest edition of Tradition has an article on the issue I raised - I haven't recieved my copy yet.
    KT
    Joel Rich

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  10. I've been in touch with R. Orlovsky about the recording. I've never interacted with him before. But I'm satisfied that he is both very sorry for the things he said about R. Weinreb and MO, and humiliated in the extreme that they have been publicized. His humiliation stems from a profound disappointment in himself that he lost control to the extent that he said such things on that occasion.

    While that says nothing about the injustice done to R. Slifkin, perhaps there is room for some graciousness in how we will now treat R. Orlovsky.

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  11. Is he also very sorry for the slander that he said about me, or only for the things that he said about Rav Weinreb? I am still waiting for an apology and retraction.

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  12. I wrote him that I am someone who very much enjoys and learns from your works. He didn't take the bait.

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  13. "I'm satisfied that he is both very sorry for the things he said about R. Weinreb"

    So why it did take him FIVE YEARS to apologize? Isn't this a clear indication that he's not really sorry at all - he's just in trouble because it was now publicized?

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  14. Velvel how do you he remembered what he said? The man spoke in anger at a time he felt overwhelmed. Moreover, I never knew there is a time limit on apologies. The issue seems to be is R. Weinreb willing to forgive and forget?

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  15. he is sorry he got caught. not that he said it.

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  16. "Velvel how do you he remembered what he said?"

    It stretches credulity to imagine that someone could speak like that and not remember it the next day. It does not stretch credulity to imagine that he remembered and didn't care, until he got caught.

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  17. check out this link:

    http://ehwhy.livejournal.com/96956.html

    kt,
    josh

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  18. Velvel, you don't have to like him after the dust settles. I'm suggesting that we just let the dust settle, and let the chips lay where they fall.

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  19. Why should we only focus on the insult to Rabbi Weinreb? What about the insult to Rabbi Slfkin? Rabbi Orlofsky must apologize for both.

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  20. Please take this comment in the spirit in which it is given - I am a nobody who is just presenting one man's opinion concerning your post. Let me start by saying that your feelings here are certainly very understandable. You have been severely hurt, and when one gets hurt, one naturally has strong feelings about it. It would be nice to speak about aspiring to be on the level of a lofty tsadik - to be one of the ne-elavim and not one of the olevim. But I know that such a high level is beyond most people, and you are, after all, like all of us, only human. So instead I will say the following - while it is certainly understandable to FEEL the way you do, and even TALK about those feelings with those close to you - your family and friends - it is something else entirely to BROADCAST those feelings to hundreds of people. I would humbly suggest that the "broadcast" - not the feelings themselves - put you in a situation that can be labeled as not taking the high road. I think that as we face the Yom ha Din we should do what we can to promote peace rather than strife. In this case, I am suggesting that this would mean not publicly broadcasting statements that could easily come across as triumphalism and as "gotcha" expressions of superiority.

    I apologize if I have offended. My intentions are pure, and I hope we all can look forward to a ketiva vachatima tova. Thanks for listening.

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  21. A Nobody:
    whatever one thinks of your sentiments, it is less likely to be taken in the manner it was intended when you choose a one-time-pseudonym (as opposed to choosing a pseudonym and sticking to it). i personally find it somewhat obnoxious when people come out of the woodwork with one-time-pseudonyms decrying this attitude or that. it is little better than Anonymous postings, and in some instances makes me suspect sock-puppetry.

    whether or not one agrees with the mussar you have so courageously administered -- one might say al tadun et chavercha -- Rabbi Slifkin posts his reaction with his name attached to it.

    kol tuv,
    josh

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  22. sometimes, what seems to bi kin'as Hashem is realy just kina'h. Rav Shalom Schadron once pointed out that Chazal say that the end of Parshas Re'ey is next to Shoftim because we need police to separate from mingling during the yomim tovim. The rabbi asked so why shoftim, police is enough? he answered to appoint the police and differentiate bet those that have kin'as Hashem and those that have kin'a.

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  23. May Hashem inscribe us ALL with a ketiva vachatima tovah, may we all be given health and success and prosperity. May the smoke of division and hatred be blown away forever revealing that we are one People, one family, with one Father.

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  24. Binfol oyivcha...Yes, it's a passuk in Mishlei. Yes, it's a Mishna in Avos too. But there's another Maamar Chazal that comes into play here. Al tadin es chaveirecha ad shetagia limkomo. Do any of you know what hell Natan Slifkin has been through? His friends turned on him, one by one. Gedolim whom he greatly respected publicly signed on vitriolic condemnations of him and his works (when was the last time you saw Afra L'Pumei on a pashkevil?) None of us have ANY idea what suffering he had endured. Ain adam nitfas al tza'aro. If anything, I greatly admire the restraint he shows when discussing the people who overturned his life and ripped it to shreds.

    Thanks for listening.

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  25. Rabbi Yochanan the son of Berokah would say: Whoever desecrates the Divine Name covertly, is punished in public. Regarding the desecration of the Name, the malicious and the merely negligent are one and the same". Avos, 4:5

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  26. To Josh Waxman,

    I am so sorry that you feel the way you do and that you find my comments to be obnoxious. My goal was to promote some shalom and achdut, but I guess I failed miserably. I apologize most sincerely to you and to whoever else was offended, and I withdraw my comments. May we all have a year of shalom, simcha, and achdut.

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  27. I do not think that Rabbi Slifkin's post needs to be interpreted as expressive of any bad or even "average" middoth whatsoever. Rabbi Slifkin simply is conveying his perceptions, his Torah view of what has happened to those who harmed him.

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  28. Rabbi Slifkin -

    Was there even one person who publicly slandered you who later apologized and retracted? Was there anyone who expressed remorse for what they did to you? And if anyone did so in private, did they do so publicly?

    I must admit that I have no idea how you endured what you were put through.

    And it is very interesting how many of your attackers have fallen into disrepute.

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  29. I'm actually glad that R'Slifkin is announcing this publicly. It does raise questions about Divine Justice, but even more fundamentally serves as an instructive lesson for the types of characters we're dealing with here.

    Based on the intensity of the response to R'Slifkin's books, it is quite clear that many of these individuals billed themselves as some of the primary guarantors of Klal Yisroel's sanctity, and the Torah of Hashem. As such, it is telling to see them meet these fates. It suggests that they in fact did not have the monopoly on Torah, as they had claimed, and that perhaps their motives are not always deriving from the holiest of places.

    I realize that a crook can still be right, but they should generally prove their case. The religion of "daas torah" promulgated by these people seeks to banish the exercise of independent thought, and it's important that these individuals be exposed for who they are before unsuspecting folks follow them blindly off the cliff.

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  30. Michapeset - interesting question.

    "Innernet" (Heritage House) sent out an email to all their subscribers assuring them that all my divrei Torah had been removed from their site. They later apologized privately, but refused to do so publicly. As I told them at the time, a public humiliation requires a public apology.

    Rav Leff condemned my writings, but after I wrote to him and pointed out that he had been misinformed, he publicly apologized and retracted on his website. Yasher koach to him. (One of my opponents claimed that the apology had been faked by one of my supporters and planted on his website!)

    As far as I recall, nobody else apologized either privately or publicly. (I don't consider Rabbi Orlofsky's public "apology" to be anything of the sort; he tried to give the impression that he hadn't actually authored the letter against me that appeared in his name, and he did not retract the false allegations about my books and myself that he wrote in the letter and that he said in the shiur from which these audio clips were taken.)

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  31. I've always been keenly aware and appreciative of hashgacha pratis. It is very nice to know that things are going well for you, and that the shenanigans of the past have been relegated to the history books.

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  32. While I do not expect any repentant Slifkin-bashers to go this far-apologizing is really not quite enough (this just dawned on me.) Those who caused pain to Rabbi Slifkin and harmed him in terms of his reputation in certain circles should not merely apologize. They should also take action to attempt in whatever way they deem possible to restore Rabbi Slifkin's name in those very circles which they had some influence in spreading the slander. One possibility is to arrange for Rabbi Slifkin to lecture in communities over which such rabbis might have influence.

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  33. Thanks. I have to say that my wife just read the post and disagreed. She pointed out that we are still feeling various adverse effects of the ban.

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  34. Another suggestion for those Slifkin-bashers who do not have the courage or strength to do the right thing. Donate funds (anonymously) to Rabbi Slifkin and get others to donate. Financial restitution for the damage done would be a step in the right direction.

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  35. Now we see who the rabble-rousers truly are, as time goes on we will find plenty more of such types in the charadie world the ones that forbid concerts & the like & yes we will find they are human with many faults with the main one being putting their nose into things they don’t understand properly & making rules/laws for the masses that they had no right to make & damaged the good name of orthodoxy & for that no apologies will help as the damage has already been done.

    As i think with rabbi slifkin the apologies & retractions do not undo the damage they caused.

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  36. I would like to say Kol Hokoved to you for withstanding the terrible blackmail that you suffered towards you and your family and that you stood by your principles

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  37. The hashgacha cuts both ways.

    On the one hand, only the low-level kano'im agitators who were ethically challenged are being shown to face humiliation. Not the higher-ups who actually inflicted the damage.

    On the other hand, the twin tragic losses of your mentor and your father in same same period could theoretically be used as a counter-point by proponents of the ban.

    I would consider it beneath contempt if they were to do so publicly, but it does highlight the inappropriateness of this sort of public one-sided "pattern-finding" on your part as well.

    Indeed, this is a time for serious cheshbon hanefesh all around.
    I believe each side needs to routinely contemplate the mistakes that were made in this sad chapter.

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  38. To the nay-sayers.

    The importance or Rav Slifkin's post (and it is an important point) is to highlight the nefarious nature of the people who both pushed this specific ban and others. Once their character is shown to be insincere, surely it calls into question all of their zealous, and hypocritical actions. Especially when they claim "LeShem Shami'im". A reasonable interpretation of this post is that Rav Slifkin is showing the mendacious and tendencious nature of the Bans and proclamations from "that" sector and thus showing their lack of substance and validity. History does need to record that these bans were propagated by disreputable people.

    Rav Slifkin, as a point of departure from the thrust of your post. Each of these individuals were undone by their own hypocrisy. HaShem did not make any of them steal, or pimp, or demonstrate a complete lack of character. They brought this poetic justice upon themselves, through their own free will.

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  39. I tend to look at this issue with a rationalist slant. These people have significant character flaws which caused them to say or promulgate terrible things about R. slifkin, both against his writings and him and his family personally. Such people would tend to do the same about other people as well. So, it was only a matter of time before their words, or actions against others became public and caused others to see their true personalities. Some might see Hashgacha Pratit. A rationalist might simply see cause and effect :)

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  40. David (6:16 AM) - I agree totally with your analysis.

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  41. Isaac, that's a pretty disgusting thing for you to say, you know?

    For all those talking about "bnfol oyivcha," a lesson in the meaning of the pasuk: It's talking about a personal enemy, not causing trouble for anyone else, who has some sort of accident- falling, literally, let's say.

    None of that applies here. These people were quite public (and vicious) in attacking R' Slifkin; they caused damage in quite wider ways as well, and they fell due to some great averiah they themselves did. Not to compare, of course, but we *do* celebrate Purim and Chanukah and say Shirat HaYam every day.

    And yet R' Slifkin, k'darko bakodesh, still doesn't gloat.

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  42. Sweet revenge!!!!

    Seriously, life frequently does work out this way. But its important not to forget-- for some people it doesn't. Some people have bad luck or misfortune one after the other, no fault of their own.

    But is is OK to take some of the credit, for your perserverance, integrity and intelligence.

    Yasher Koach

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  43. I would also like to thank Rabbi Slifkin for holding to his principles and not caving in to the intense pressure of the ban.

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  44. It's great to be makir tov. A great midda. We must be cautious, however, to avoid situations that could arouse jealousy, especially in public, especially when it could appear to be boasting or create an ayin hora - it all depends on how it's said, in what context, to whom, etc. I'm not saying this is the case here. But it's a thought to consider.

    Secondly, and I'm not saying this is the case either, but there's a midrash raba (84:3) that says the following: When tzadikim are dwelling peacefully and they desire to be settled peacefully in this world, the satan comes and prosecutes saying, "is it not enough what is prepared for them in the world to come, yet they seek to dwell tranquilly also in this world?!" Bam, they get slammed. It was said in reference to Yaakov to Avinu, and Rashi brings it down in a similar way in Genesis 37:2

    The suffering of these other Jews could be an example of tzadik v'ra lo, so we must not be necessarily so quick to judge their situation.

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  45. Isaac, that's a pretty disgusting thing for you to say, you know?

    I agree. That's why I didn't say it. I said it would be beneath contempt for someone to actually put that idea forth as an example of Divine providential justice.

    In general I think this topic should fall under the "Not everything thought should be said..." and certainly not blogged about when it will predictably cause a feeding frenzy.

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  46. Hi

    You said:
    "providence does not mean God actually intervening, but rather that He has set things up such that those who engage in evil eventually bring destruction upon themselves, while those who pursue good find peace and tranquility."

    How does this fit in with
    Isaiah 46:10-11?

    10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.
    I say: My purpose will stand,
    and I will do all that I please.

    11 From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.

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  47. >The suffering of these other Jews could be an example of tzadik v'ra lo, so we must not be necessarily so quick to judge their situation.

    You know, no one ever accused the Rabbis Leib of being tzadikim.

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  48. R. Slifkin - you should delete Isaac's sickening comment from your blog, and related comments. This is the first time I can recall myself advising a deletion. But what he said is disgusting. (Stupid, too.)

    I've thought and written that on occasion you appear a little too self-congratulatory or vainglorious. But I thought your post was perfectly appropriate for the reasons you say, ie, it's more of marvelling at hashgacha than gloating. Frun organs engage in such articles all the time when it suits them, and indeed, they often engage in outright gloating. Your post, which is very subdued in nature, is perfectly all right. Addaraaba, Ro'oie l'parsemo.

    DF

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  49. E-man writes: "The way we can see if these people were/are truly doing everything for Hashem is to see how they carry themselves throughout life. By revealing their debased nature they show that all they really care about is power and money. "

    I'm not defending the way they treated R' Slifkin, but I'd like to express my disapproval at your confident logic about what they really care about, and the way you
    decided to use the word "all."

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  50. Isaac, of course you said it. Moreover, you ended by talking about "both sides" making a cheshbon hanefesh, etc. Can you say exactly what R' Slifkin did wrong?

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  51. Isaac, of course you said it.

    Of course I didn't say it. I clearly said that it ought NOT to be said, but conceivably, theoretically, could be claimed by the other side as validating their perspective in kind.
    Why are you insisting I did actually say it? I'm a little confused.

    Moreover, you ended by talking about "both sides" making a cheshbon hanefesh, etc. Can you say exactly what R' Slifkin did wrong?

    Doing so would invite denials and bickering. I am not going there.

    Suffice to say that both sides should not be so self-righteous and too proud to admit that every measure taken to promote their objective in this tragic episode is completely above blame and criticism.
    It is not my place to point out any specific failures or how things should have been done differently by both sides to avoid the mostly negative, even poisonous atmosphere that has been fostered.

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  52. I'm not an expert, but I don't understand why people have trouble believing in the strong version of Divine Providence. I know there are rishonim who say divine providence only applies in certain situations, but did they ever actually say, by this they meant that most things are actually coincidences? That is, were they even explicitly addressing the idea that there is no such thing as a coincidence -- that G-d, without performing outright miracles, arranges things so that every occurrence in our lives happens for the best?

    Doesn't the story of Nachum Gamzu, and R' Akiva's statement that everything G-d does, he does for the good, demonstrate that the no-such-thing-is-a-coincidence view is a legitimate, ancient view in Judaism? Why would David have focused so much in Tehillim on trusting G-d if G-d hardly ever intervenes anyway? If, as the Talmud says, even when we put a shirt on inside out, that seemingly insignificant suffering is sent from G-d to atone for our sins -- that is, if G-d is intervening on that level of detail to punish for transgressions -- why not intervene at that level of detail all the time, ensuring that everything that happens is for our very best, encourages us to do what we need to do to accomplish our mission in life?

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  53. Rabbi Slifkin,

    I found what you said about hashgacha very interesting. There are so many arguments for the truth of God's existence etc., but sometimes it is the hashgacha we see in our own lives (or -- in a related manner -- a miracle story we know about first-hand) that can be more powerful than any argument.

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  54. I clearly said that it ought NOT to be said
    Publicly.

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  55. in this case, to put in terms of another religion, perhaps it is proper to say that your karma ran over their dogma.

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  56. @Thanbo - Great line!

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  57. Pragmatic RationalistAugust 30, 2010 at 6:10 PM

    When a number of the individuals involved in the Slifkin condemnation were publicly humiliated I, too, felt vindicated that they were fighting an unjust cause and were reaping the fruits of their shallowness and empty-mindedness. I believe the issur of "binfol oivecha" is personal gratification over one’s enemies’ personal downfall. Not having one's detractors unmasked for who they truly are with the accompanying sense of vindication.

    At the same time, when I first read some of R. Slifkin's books my immediate reaction, despite agreeing wholeheartedly with his general approach and many conclusions, was "he's going to get into trouble."

    Many books / seforim printed in Eretz Yisroel have a sticker on the cover that says "Lo LaCharedim" because many charedim take a purely literal interpretation to everything in the Torah and Chazal and would be greatly offended and shocked by the contents of those books. It is not dissimilar from someone giving a shiur to a Modern Orthodox group about the importance of covering hair and not swimming mixed or lecturing at a Satmar bungalow about Ahavat Eretz Yisroel. Although the content of the lectures are beyond reproach, the communication medium is somewhat lacking.

    I would like to wish R. Slifkin continued hatzlacha in raising important questions among which many are “d'varim haOmdim b'rumo shel Olam” and showing the true beauty in out Torah and mesorah.

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  58. Just to play devil's advocate, who's to say that this has anything to do with what happened to you?

    What I mean by this is that weren't some / all of these people involved in other public issues such as the mass retroactive nullification of conversions and other heinous acts which go against any reasonable / rational understanding of halachah?

    Maybe they fell because of the thousands of families they wreaked and lives they destroyed with these retroactive nullifications and what they did to you was only a drop in the bucket?

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  59. who's to say that this has anything to do with what happened to you?

    Like many others, you unfortunately missed my point, which was that it need NOT be anything to do with what happened to me.

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  60. Just to clarify - the above comment was from someone other than me. I would never have written that.

    Robert Schneider

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  61. Fotheringay-PhippsAugust 31, 2010 at 8:54 PM

    This post is not worthy of a rationalist. There were a lot of people who were said to be involved in the ban at the time, much in the same way as these people. Some of the other people have gone from success to success.

    Of course, among many people involved some would have a downfall. It's a galgal hachozer ba'olam. You just chose the ones who did and depicted them as representative of your persecutors. But they're not (AFAICT).

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  62. Pragmatic Rationalist said:
    "It is not dissimilar from someone giving a shiur to a Modern Orthodox group about the importance of covering hair and not swimming mixed"

    Gila Manolson and other tzniut promoting figures do this all the time. I don't think there is anything wrong with that, and I don't understand what you think is wrong with it.

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  63. Pragmatic RationalistSeptember 2, 2010 at 7:31 PM

    Student V said "Gila Manolson and other tzniut promoting figures do this all the time. I don't think there is anything wrong with that, and I don't understand what you think is wrong with it."

    I have no problem with and, in fact, strongly advocate spreading Torah and addressing topics that need addressing. I was simply pointing out that some topics need a special sensitivity in order to be successful and even with that sensitivity can result in a backlash from listeners who don't want to hear the message. Similarly, the "Science vs Torah" issue must be discussed with the appropriate sensitivity to those who do not have the questions and to those whose literal viewpoint will not allow them to accept their possible solutions.

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  64. >>His humiliation stems from a profound disappointment in himself that he lost control to the extent that he said such things on that occasion.<<

    This is disturbing. If he didn't actually BELIEVE these slanderous things, then he wouldn't have had to control himself.

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  65. >>HaRazieli said...
    One possibility is to arrange for Rabbi Slifkin to lecture in communities over which such rabbis might have influence.<<

    I disagree and suggest that Rav Natan does as well. The issues involved are substantive and Rav Natan's opponents are certainly entitled to oppose him and his viewpoints. See Rav Natan's own words on this here.

    Rather, what disturbs me is the tendency of the opponents to resort to slander, ad-hominem attacks, and appeals to authority without ever dealing with the issues themselves.

    For instance, let's suppose that it was true that Rav Natan was expelled from this or that yeshiva. So what?! Are they suggesting that the only reason that anyone could possibly entertain the idea that the age of the universe exceeds 7000 years is because he is a derelict? The suggestion is both absurd and insulting.

    The ban itself and Rav Natan's insubordination are not so important to me. I would like for a rabbinic figure with the blessing of the gedolim stand up and tell me what YES to believe and why it is important to do so.

    I made this request to one of Rav Natan's opponents. He sort of shrugged and told me to look at toriah.com.

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  66. Rabbi, you are too Maimonidian:). Why not try Gerundiism for a change? Rabbeinu Yonah had something of a hand in the burning of the Moreh in France. Some years later the Talmud was burned in the same exact place and this inspired Rabeinu Yonah to change his mind, make a public retraction and and apology to Rambam (and even, IIRC, to pen the Shaarei Teshuvah). He didn't say the Rishonim don't mention Hashgachah.

    If Rambam was indeed not attuned to this kind of "Hashgachah", you can imagine him telling Rabbeinu Yonah, you were wrong but the Talmud burning is no proof, and Rabbeinu Yonah saying back, no, it is.

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  67. Dear Natan,
    I think you may have missed the point of this Divine Providence, and if you look at this with a little more depth, I don't think the conclusions you draw hold water.

    Let's look at it this way. You took a certain position in your book, and many people took offense, and stood up against you. Many other supported you. Amongst those people who were against you were people who were kannaim, but apparently fake ones, in that it seems that while they were "throwing stones", not all was clean in their "own house", to say the least. Looking at the events that have befallen the people you mention, here's what I see. When a person is not in the position to be calling out other people, to be criticizing them, and be portraying themselves as holier than thou, Hashem will help show them for the fakers, or overzealous kannaim that they are. That actually says nothing about your position; what happened to them can easily be because they went about it the wrong, and perhaps very wrong, way. Hashgacha is showing that, unless you are in the clear, you can't be running around criticizing and banning other people. But one thing should be noted. It doesn't say ANYTHING about you or your position at all. Would, all of a sudden, you win the lottery, or become very famous and beloved by the entire klal yisrael, then I think you could feel some sense of vindication toward your position. However, being that what happened is really just a rejection and repudiation of people who were really doing inappropriate things and therefore had no business criticizing you even if you WERE wrong, I don't think you should see this is as any vindication of yourself. It's not like anything happened to many of the other Rabbis, whom we don't have to name, but we know are really beyond reproach. I am not writing this to be nasty, but I was a little taken aback by your post, and I think it is very "not muchach" as they say in yeshivish, and very self congratulatory. At this time of year, it behooves all of us to be a little more careful in, G-d forbid, gloating, and a little more introspective in our understanding of events. I welcome your response, and hope you will respond thoughtfully, and not take offense to this.

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  68. It's driving me crazy how many people are misunderstanding/ misreading/ not reading what I wrote!

    Of course the fact that these people went down doesn't prove that my books are correct! I've discussed this previously. Just like if I were to rob a bank, it would not mean that the world is not in fact millions of years old!

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  69. >>It's driving me crazy how many people are misunderstanding/ misreading/ not reading what I wrote!<<

    "If I were to say that atheists say there is no G-d, then the papers would report 'The president says there is no G-d!'"

    I heard this in the name of FDR.

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  70. "It's driving me crazy how many people are misunderstanding/ misreading/ not reading what I wrote!"

    At a certain point this becomes more of a statement about the lack of clarity of the writer than the lack of understanding of the reader. Just something to think about.

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