Thursday, August 16, 2012

Eilu V'Eilu!

This past Shabbos, I was "off-duty." At the shul in California where I davenned, the guest speaker was a certain Rabbi B. from Lawrence. Now, I had heard in the past that he is a loyal disciple of Rav Moshe Shapiro - one of the most prominent and outspoken opponents of mine during the great Torah-Science controversy of 2004-5. According to my notes, when I was trying to arrange speaking engagements in Lawrence shortly after that time, Rabbi B.'s name had often been mentioned by people as opposing my being invited. I mentioned this to the president of the shul (a family friend), and he suggested that I have a debate with Rabbi B. I readily agreed, but when he approached Rabbi B., he said that he doesn't like controversy and claimed not to have ever opposed me. So, at seudah shelishis, I decided to simply introduce myself.

Rabbi B. was extremely friendly. He was seemingly happy to meet me, and told me that he had read and enjoyed my book on Perek Shirah and other writings. Naturally, the discussion turned to Torah and science. I first mentioned the notorious book Chaim B'Emunasam, and he responded that he had seen part of my critique on it and fully agreed with me. At this, I began to think that perhaps I had been misinformed about Rabbi B., and perhaps he was actually on the same page as me. I noted that the discussion of the Gemara in Pesachim, regarding the sun's path at night, is really fundamental to the entire issue, especially vis-a-vis Rav Moshe Shapiro. All the Rishonim, without exception, say that when Chazal said that the sun passes behind the sky at night, that's what they actually meant. Maharal, on the other hand, says that Chazal were most definitely not talking about any such thing, and were instead talking about metaphysics - the approach that Rav Moshe Shapiro follows, and claims to be the only legitimate approach.

Rabbi B. agreed that Maharal was innovative, and said that one has to look at the time period in which this took place. Perhaps naively, I thought for a moment that he was going to be agreeing with my assessment of why the 16th century caused great insecurity about Chazal's lack of knowledge regarding astronomy. In fact, Rabbi B. clarified that his point was that it was the revelations of the Arizal's kabbalah, in Maharal's era, which revealed the true metaphysical meaning of Chazal's words.

It was at this point that I realized that Rabbi B. was not in fact on the same page as me.

Rabbi B. proceeded, with several patronizing references to secular scholars, to get into the topic of how to read texts. He argued that instead of looking towards the original intent of texts, we should be employing charitable interpretation. In this case, this means rejecting the explanation of the Rishonim (that Chazal mistakenly believed the sun to go behind the sky at night) and adopting that of Maharal.
"Fine," I replied. "So let Rav Moshe Shapiro say that I am presenting an explanation of what Chazal actually meant, whereas he is presenting what he would like Chazal to mean!"

Rabbi B. claimed that it's impossible for anyone to know what Chazal actually meant. (Apparently, this does not apply to Maharal or Rav Moshe Shapiro.)

"But what about all the Rishonim, who interpret the Gemara according to its plain meaning?" I asked. Rabbi B. responded that he doesn't like the approach of the Rishonim.

I pointed out that while people are free to adopt whatever approach they want, it is somewhat bizarre to insist that the only acceptable approach is to reject the entire body of Rishonim (not to mention to condemn me without admitting that I am representing the approach of the Rishonim).

At this point Rabbi B. said that he did not mean that the Rishonim are to be rejected; instead, he meant that they cannot be learned superficially.

Astounded, I asked him if he meant that all the Rishonim should be read as actually presenting the approach of Maharal. He appeared to claim that this was the case! (I did not ask him how he reconciled this with his claim that it was only due to the revelations of the Arizal that Chazal's true metaphysical meaning was revealed.)

"How on earth can you claim that the Rishonim are actually presenting Maharal's view?!" I asked, dumbfounded. "Let's go through their words, and see!"

"I've been through all the Rishonim," said Rabbi B. dismissively. He did not explain how this answered me, and did not appear willing to actually discuss what the Rishonim write.

Rabbi B. repeatedly told me, in a friendly tone, that it's very important for me to realize that when I get up to Heaven, I am going to have to defend myself to Chazal. Having heard these kinds of warnings/ threats several times before, it did not intimidate me in the slightest, and I responded that I am perfectly ready to do so. I added that aside from defending my approach in the next world, I am also ready to defend my approach in this world - unlike my opponents, who steadfastly refuse to meet me, to engage in discussion, or to explain their position in light of the views of the Rishonim and many Acharonim.

Rabbi B. explained that it's ludicrous for me to think that Rav Moshe Shapiro would engage me in discussion, since he is a Gadol B'Torah and therefore on a completely different level from me. He said that he would like to arrange for me to meet Rav Moshe Shapiro, but only if I do so with the express condition that I am not out to present any arguments at all, just to listen and accept whatever Rav Shapiro says, as a talmid from a rebbe.

"Rav Moshe Shapiro is not my rebbe!" I retorted. "I received my approach from Rav Aryeh Carmell!"

"And is Rav Carmell alive?" asked Rabbi B.

"No," I replied, somewhat puzzled at the question.

"Well, there you have it!" responded Rabbi B. triumphantly!

The argument went on this vein for some time. Rabbi B. claimed that just as a leading scientist will not agree to engage in debate with a layman, Rav Moshe Shapiro need not agree to engage in discussion with me. I pointed out the weaknesses of the analogy. In science, conclusions are only accepted when backed up with arguments, whereas Rav Moshe Shapiro and others are arguing only from their authority, and refusing to ever explain themselves or to deal with the numerous sources that I cite. It is not a case of "Slifkin vs. Rav Moshe Shapiro and other Gedolim" - it is "An entire school of thought, from Rishonim through Acharonim through numerous rabbis and roshei yeshivah of our own era vs. several Acharonim, Rav Moshe Shapiro and many other Charedi Gedolim." But my words fell on deaf ears.

Rabbi B. made numerous condescending statements about how "anyone who knows anything" about how academia works will realize the shortcomings of my approach. He didn't seem to believe me when I said that academics would certainly agree that Maharal was presenting an innovative approach that was not the true meaning of Chazal's words, and which was certainly not the approach of the Rishonim. Eventually, I pointed out to him that I myself am in academia. Somewhat deflated, he asked where. I told him that I am in Bar-Ilan, to which he rolled his eyes and waved his hand dismissively!

Eventually, the discussion had to stop because Rabbi B. was schedule to deliver his guest lecture. Much to my surprise, he spoke about how Torah is not monolithic, about how there are and must be diversity of views within Judaism, about how Torah is like Wikipedia in that it is a community project, about how great people must lower themselves to listen to Torah from lesser people, and about the importance of eilu v'eilu divrei Elokim chaim. The modern Orthodox audience loved it.

After he finished, I asked him if Eilu v'eilu also applies to the debate about Chazal's knowledge of science. "You have to be an 'eilu'!" he replied. "You have to be on a par with the Gedolim in order to have an opinion that counts!"

Which wasn't exactly the message that he conveyed in his speech.

I wanted to ask him if Rav Hirsch and all the other Rishonim and Acharonim that I quote, and all the various roshei yeshivah and rabbonim who agree with my approach, all of whom Rav Moshe Shapiro dismisses in various ways, are an 'eilu,' but I had to leave.

(See too these posts:
"Who Is An Expert in Torah?"
"Rebellion in the Ranks of Rav Moshe")

86 comments:

  1. > He argued that instead of looking towards the original intent of texts, we should be employing charitable interpretation.

    Why?

    > Rabbi B. responded that he doesn't like the approach of the Rishonim.

    Wow. And we on the left get accused of arrogance.

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  2. You definitely won this mini debate.
    This Rabbi B. knows only how to be condescending. His arguments are self contradicting and haughty.

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  3. Was he suggesting, if I'm reading this right, that Rabbi Carmell's approach matters less because he passed away? What a horrible, insensitive thing to say!

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  4. I think he was suggesting that I can't follow Rav Carmell because he isn't alive anymore. Not that I see why that should make a difference, nor why I should have to accept Rav Moshe's views.

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  5. Pathetic. This sounds like the type of arguments I would have back in my high school days with narrow-minded uneducated products of Lakewood.

    It's unfortunate you feel the need to engage yourself in conversation/debate with this type. It's pointless. Their whole ideology is based on sheker and gaava (everything else is rooted to these cardinal 2). They'll never change. If this is how one conducts a (mini)debate, do you honestly thing there's a chance he/she would change their mind even if they are flat out disproved? Why do you bother wasting your time? Why would you entertain the idea of a debate with R. Shapiro? After so long, (aside for the indescribable way he acted throughout this whole controversy) do you really believe it'll be an honest debate? I understand that urge to try to "put an end" to this but still, you must try to persevere and "take the high road". Look, in fifty or a hundred years with even more Torah and enlightened people it won't be R. Shapiro's approach that'll be on people's tongues. Sheker ein lo raglaim. A simple tell sign is the fact that he and his cohorts would never embrace a public debate, and as we know: "kol machlokes she'eno l'shem shamayim einah asidah l'hiskayem".

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  6. Baruch Spinoza was intorregated about his beliefs before they put him under cherem. But nowadays it is not a question of facts but of raw power. Rabbi B's explication of Eilu v Eilu is enlightening. We decide who even gets to invoke texts. The way they are going they are going to have to start banning rishonim wholesale or have a short list of those who are allowed to look at them.

    I think many of the complaints about batein dinim stem from the same habit of relying on power and personal preferences instead of intorregating facts.

    I admire your project, R Slifkin, but I wonder if it is futile because within their system, your knowledge is no match for their willed ignorance.

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  7. BH
    Dear Natan,
    You wrote:
    I am also ready to defend my approach in this world - unlike my opponents, who steadfastly refuse to meet me, to engage in discussion, or to explain their position in light of the views of the Rishonim and many Acharonim.

    IB:
    Please see:
    Latest developments: R. Slifkin’s refusal to debate
    http://slifkin-opinions.blogspot.mx/2010/10/late-developments-on-natan-slifkins.html

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  8. It is nothing less than tragic that this ideology is rampant in the fastest growing segment of Judaism.

    It seems that we are in the midst of a replay of the battle between the Saducees and the Pharasees. Only this time the Saducees might win! Oy.

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  9. On defending yourself in the next world to chazal, i would also like to point out, you will also need to defend yourself to the ziknei hador who you have so arrogantly shamed, eg R Kanievsky who you have decided "is not fit for leadership" or R Matissyahu whose views you deem as "pathetic"
    Nor will it help you to stand in front of God and say Please Almighty, read my piece "in defence of my opponents"

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  10. I think you are missing a fundemantal issue here which may help you understand why Rabbi B was saying one thing to you and then another to his audience.
    Of course there are different approaches to Judaism but the question is do you have an agenda deep down....?
    From your blogs the last few years one notices you are trying to bring down Judaism to a superficial religion where everything has to be understood on our mundane level.Anything that cannot be understood to yourself you often just ignore or say its an error.
    So there were definately those like R Hirch who took that approach because he felt it was truth where as you take it on as thats what your most comfortable with.

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  11. Gerald, I think that the question to be asked here is whether you have an agenda deep down...? From Rabbi Slifkin's blog one notices the desire to reach truth, even when it is uncomfortable. But from your comment one notices that you want Chazal and the Gedolim to be correct. Any sources that say otherwise you just ignore or claim to have an "agenda." Probably you take on that approach as thats what your most comfortable with.

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  12. Rabbi with all due respect to you (i have read all your books and found them facsinating) i feel Rabbi B has a strong point when he says eilu v'eilu is when both are on same level, and a layman arguing with a great Rabbi is just a non starter.
    You see rabbi and correct me if i'm wrong you cant have it both ways, you cannot say as you often do, chazal & rishonim got things wrong as they were no expert in the sciences, yet on the other hand claim yourself as understanding Torah with the same clarity as Rabbi Shapira who i think we can all agree has more expertise in Torah than us laymen.
    Do you get my drift rabbi? you must start being more consistent and if chazal were not experts in science and therefore wrong, you who are not an expert in the shadow of R Shapira (or any other rabbi greater than you) will also very likely be wrong in your understanding of Torah

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  13. correct me if i'm wrong

    Okay!

    Chazal and Rishonim sometimes erred in scientific matters because they were lacking information.

    Here, there is no information that I am lacking, and that Rav Moshe Shapiro possesses, and which enables him to utterly negate my view. Sure, he can disagree with me; however, he must at the same time admit that he is also disagreeing with numerous Rishonim and Acharonim. (Aside from the fact that there is also the matter of explaining why his approach is more correct than theirs.)

    Or, to put it another way: Would you, or anyone, say that nobody today is entitled to disagree with Rambam because he is greater than they? Of course not.

    For a full discussion, see this important post: http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2010/09/expert-in-torah.html

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  14. R Natan you have some explaining to do.
    It seems you have been lying to all of us, as i have read Dr Betech link and it seems it was YOU who refused to debate.
    I feel i cannot trust anyone anymore, we are living in a world where truth is not anymore in fashion, but coming from someone who claims himself as being rational, i would have thought honesty is a vital ingredient.

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  15. What "lie" did I tell?

    It was in fact eventually Dr. Betech who refused to debate me!

    If you want the full story on the bizarre case of Dr. Betech, see these links:

    http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2010/09/case-of-dr-isaac-betech.html
    http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2010/10/summary-of-betech-affair.html
    http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2010/10/i-accept-dr-betechs-proposal.html

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  16. R' Slifkin

    Applying charitable interpretation, perhaps his point was that since R' Carmel is dead, you are in need of a rebbe, and R' Shapiro is available?

    I'm also reminded that it's never wise to draw conclusions about who won an argument when only one side of the discussion has articulated what was said. Not that I'm comparing, but Fray Pul's account of the disputation at Barcelona varied dramatically from the Ramban's true account (and we can easily conclude that the Ramban's account was the true one, since he clearly had effective ripostes to the very arguments Fray Pul claimed had flummoxed him).

    Not that I'm suggesting you would deliberately distort what was said, as Fray Pul did, but as a lawyer and a husband I've learned from experience that there are three versions of every conversation that wasn't recorded:

    What the first party to the conversation recalls being said;

    What the second party to the conversation recalls being said; and

    What was actually said.

    While I'm sure the conversation went generally as you described, I'd withhold full judgment unless and until I heard R' B.'s version of the discussion.

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  17. That's generally a very good idea. I have to say, though, that I am always extremely careful to report such conversations as accurately as possible, and especially in this case since there were people listening in who will be checking!

    I would be more than happy to provide Rabbi B. space to give his version of the conversation, if it differs.

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  18. Chaim L - by the way, when I refer to "my opponents," I generally am referring to Torah scholars, not Dr. Betech. He is, to put it gently - and long-time readers who are familiar with him will agree - rather peculiar.

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  19. > I think he was suggesting that I can't follow Rav Carmell because he isn't alive anymore

    So does that mean Satmar Chasidim can become Zionists now?

    At any rate, I think you should be happy that you were treated courteously and that Rav B deigned to speak with you as much as he did. Now, if you find your self at the same seudas shlishis as Rav Shapiro himself, that I want to know about!

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  20. R Slifkin, obviously the way you refer to Dr Betech "to put it gently" revels you don't know him or that you want to pretend you don't know him, I really doubt you have had an opportunity to discuss with someone of his stature. He’s not only a Torah Scholar, but he has “created” dozens of thousands of Torah Scholars including Roshe Yeshivos, Roshei Kollelim from scratch… but you don’t have to believe me… watch the facts:
    בשתי מילים: "ד"ר בטש"
    http://www.hidabroot.org/ARDetail.asp?BlogID=113819&utm_source=activetrail&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=%d7%94%d7%99%d7%93%d7%91%d7%a8%d7%95%d7%aa%20%d7%a1%d7%95%d7%a4%d7%a9%d7%91%d7%95%d7%a2%20145

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  21. 1. I highly doubt that he has created "dozens of thousands" of Torah scholars.

    2. Even if he has, so what? Lots of people are looking for meaning.

    3. I know Dr Betech extremely well through many years of discussions, both with myself and others here. He constantly and consistently refuses to answer direct questions. He sidesteps, obfuscates, and misleads in an utterly bizarre style that people here have never seen before.

    4. In any case, I did offer to publicly debate Chazal's knowledge of science with him, but he declined, claiming that he is not a Torah scholar and therefore not qualified to discuss it.

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  22. You have convincingly shown his approach to be nonsensical.

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  23. And you can add one more:

    5) In hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of postings, Dr. Betech has never once attempted to share any of his views about any Torah and science matter! (Despite being asked to do so by many people on many occasions.) He claims to be able to answer everything, but clams up when people ask him to share this knowledge.

    Dr. Betech has nothing to say; all he does is posture. It's an utter waste of time to deal with him. Any more comments regarding him can be posted at http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2010/10/summary-of-betech-affair.html, instead of hijacking this comment thread.

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  24. "He is, to put it gently - and long-time readers who are familiar with him will agree - rather peculiar"

    I don't know that much Rabbi, but I don't understand how these comments don't fall all under the prohibition to gossip.

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  25. Michael G. DworkinAugust 17, 2012 at 4:15 AM

    Not specifically pertinent to the incident reported here, but see this wonderful, recent article by R' Nathan Lopes Cardozo touching on the near-epidemic degree of utter mindlessness that characterizes the community at the present time.

    http://cardozoacademy.org/current-thought-to-ponder-by-rabbi-lopes-cardozo/in-search-of-a-new-posek-hador-ttp-306/

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  26. "Rabbi B. claimed that it's impossible for anyone to know what Chazal actually meant. (Apparently, this does not apply to Maharal or Rav Moshe Shapiro.) "


    You really don't understand what he was saying at all.

    There is a movement in literature which says that you can never know the author's intent. You can only know how you relate to the written word.

    You can read all the back and forths here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authorial_intent

    You should really get to understand this type of reading text. It is prevalent all over the world.

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  27. "Here, there is no information that I am lacking, and that Rav Moshe Shapiro possesses, and which enables him to utterly negate my view. Sure, he can disagree with me; however, he must at the same time admit that he is also disagreeing with numerous Rishonim and Acharonim. (Aside from the fact that there is also the matter of explaining why his approach is more correct than theirs.)"

    There is no doubt in my mind that you are in fact lacking information.

    It's easy to see how you are lacking information by the way you dismissed "several patronizing references to secular scholars, to get into the topic of how to read texts."

    This really is the crux of the issue, and you are so obviously lacking in this area.

    You may not like post modern readings of text, you may in your ignorance feel free to mock it, but you are clearly lacking the information to understand what they are saying.

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  28. "He sidesteps, obfuscates, and misleads in an utterly bizarre style that people here have never seen before. "

    To back up Rabbi Slifkin, as a rationally-bent reasonably-intelligent English-speaking participant in these discussions I have always been completely flummoxed by Dr. Betech's style. He makes reasonable points/criticisms but always responds to counter-arguments with complicated but nonsensical language that is difficult to parse and manages to not answer any questions, withdrawing form the conversation while being simultaneously apologetic and confidently victorious in attitude (it's a skill I guess).

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  29. Ok Rabbi, i heard you out but i just dont buy your arguments that you can argue with R Schapira.
    Now hold your horses, i agree if something is truth it has to be upheld at all costs, the question here is if what you guys are saying is truth or perhaps you are the one lacking information...., information on how to understand Rishonim which R Schapira would be so much more competent than yourself.
    As a BT i have been shown by many Rabbis in different yeshivot, how what seemingly seems to be a simple understanding of a Rishon just aint, as their words wont match to what they write elswhere.
    Listen rabbi i know exactly how you feel, a couple of years back i was in your shoes and took everything i read face value, as i thought thats truth, but once you start connecting yourself with them pro's with long white beards, those folk who have pored over the books for half a century, you will come to the realisation that you may have erred in some of your understanding.
    You get my drift Rabbi?
    Shabbat Shalom!

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  30. Cannot help but wonder why this blog touches on this subject over and over again.
    Rabbis Kanievski and Yosef who banned your books do not continuously proclaim their ban. They felt confident in their decision, said it once and yala.
    You seem very unsure of yourself and keep on singing from the same hymn sheet.
    It seems there must be some emotional aspect inside you why you feel the need to keep on repeating the same thing over and over....
    Chill out R Natan, there are 2 paths in Judaism, yours and rabbi Kanievski, he had his turn to say yours was wrong, you have had your turn to say his is wrong so just move on in life.

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  31. There is a movement in literature which says that you can never know the author's intent. You can only know how you relate to the written word.

    It makes no difference. His approach doesn't work with the written word either!

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  32. If such information existed, you'd think that in seven years of arguments, in which the defenders of the Gedolim tried so desperately to reclaim their honor, someone would have offered such information. But they didn't. You know why? Because it doesn't exist!

    once you start connecting yourself with them pro's with long white beards, those folk who have pored over the books for half a century,

    Baruch Hashem, I did. Rav Aryeh Carmell, Rav Herzog, Rav Hirsch, all the way back through the generations.

    You get my drift, Cape Town? Shabbat Shalom! ;-)

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  33. Rabbis Kanievski and Yosef who banned your books do not continuously proclaim their ban. They felt confident in their decision, said it once and yala.

    The rabbis who banned my books (and Rav Kanievski is not one of them) fall into two groups. Some are completely oblivious to the consequences of their actions and are truly ignorant of the disaster and uproar that it caused. Others are painfully aware of it, and are desperately trying to put it behind them.

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  34. It seems that Eilu V'Eilu doesn't apply to those with a dissenting opinion. I live in Lawrence and I think I know who Rabbi B. is and until know I had a good deal of respect for him. This is no longer the case (if I have the right person). Although I do believe Rabbi B. is right for the wrong reason. The people who cast aspersions on Rabbi Slifkin for his views perhaps do not possess the intellectual capacity to debate him. The Ramban won debates with Pablo Cristiani because he knew, perhaps from independent study, all that his opponent knew. This is not the case for Rabbi Slifkin's opponents.

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  35. > i have been shown by many Rabbis in different yeshivot, how what seemingly seems to be a simple understanding of a Rishon just aint, as their words wont match to what they write elswhere.

    That assumes that the writings of each Rishon are a carefully-edited whole that is completely internally consistent. I could understand interpreting a single sefer this way, but all of someone’s work? Isn’t it possible for someone to change their mind, come to a new understanding, or simply forget what they wrote years earlier?

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  36. Natan Slifkin re. to Baruch Gross: "I highly doubt that he has created "dozens of thousands" of Torah scholars."

    No need in tiptoeing, just say it as it is Natan: that's an utter lie. These kinds of exaggerations stem from insecurity (now THAT'S putting it gently). But even so, as you said in #2 in other words, when Hillel and Shammai had a disagreement did they tally up the number of students they each had and base upon that who is right?

    One needs to be familiar with this type to be able to identify this commentator. He's living in a bubble (where Betech blew it up) and therefore has these delusional ideas. "dozens of thousands of scholars" is not even comical, when you realize what creates such illusions, it's more unfortunate than comical.

    Natan, I'll say it again: please be aware that these blind soldiers are not motivated by the truth of our Torah. Statements such as "....as Rabbi Shapira who i think we can all agree has more expertise in Torah than us laymen" demonstrate nothing but sheer ignorance. Speak for yourself and refrain from being the spokesman for "all" (sic) lomdei Torah. If the Torah is a sefer chasum to you (or sadly, you were brought up and educated by the "No. 1 - you're wrong and the rebbi is right. No. 2 - let's see what the gemara actually says." method) no need to put everyone in the same wagon as you. Without dealing with the aforementioned Rosh Yeshiva, the mere assertion that one "has more expertise in Torah" simply because he is a Rosh Yeshiva, or older, or can drei a kup for longer without coming up for air doesn't make someone a bigger expert than the next guy. Granted if the person is older and is learning for more years than the other person chances are he knows more, but of what? A guy who is learning Nashim & Nezikin for fifty years probably knows it more thoroughly than the guy who's only learning it for five years and not focusing on it as much, but that doesn't say that the former person has more authority than the latter on Zeroim & Taharos. Don't be so naive.

    Also the typical comment - albeit usually given by adolescent cop-outs - "you're going to have to defend yourself" is another example of this greatly-uneducated-in-many-aspects-of-Torah and subservient-blind-submissive mentality. By even making such a comment one shows how he is afraid to confront anything past his own position. And you won't have to defend yourself in heaven? Correct Natan won't be able to point the heavenly court to read his article (newsflash: if that's what it takes to get to the truth then , yes, even there the beis din will read it. Sadly, the other side won't have what to produce because it's kinda hard to put half-sentences on paper for the public eye to read) but neither will his oponents be able to get away with "oh come on, you don't know how to learn Chazal/Rishonim" or "what chutzpah from a young academic like you to question my proficiency/qualification, do you know who I am?". Up there those people will see empty arguments such as this don't stand. Even on this world we are witness to how it doesn't stand; Chazal said "lying has no feet" and likewise you don't hear the Slifkin opponents' pshat in the various gemaros, only hype, approaches to no end and of course "mesoros". Always beating around the bush and never answering to the point.

    Continuation below...

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  37. Amateur: You're arguing that Natan doesn't understand that RY from a page on Wikipedia? Wow. Just, wow. Aside from this preposterous take which shouldn't be dignified with a response (a poke 'ill do), might I suggest you create a page on Wiki for "ein l'dayin ela ma she'einav rohos"?

    Natan: is there any hard evidence that R' Yosef (I assume it's R' Ovadia you mean) himself consciously banned your books? I find it very hard to believe because that is extremely out of character for him. Extremely.

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  38. i have a lot to say about this frustrating meeting between you and 'rb' but for now i'll just say that rabbi carmel z"l not being alive is so resoundingly irrelevant. he re-confirmed his haskamah after the cherem and disagreed with r shapiro. you need a rebbi for new questions. if he answered you during his lifetime what's there to discuss? when r shapiro, may he live and be well till 120, is no longer on this world, will his opinion also become defunct?!

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  39. "It makes no difference. His approach doesn't work with the written word either!"

    You keep saying that, but it doesn't make it any more true.

    The Maharal obviously believed it did.

    You clearly have no interest in understanding a view point other than your own.

    "Amateur: You're arguing that Natan doesn't understand that RY from a page on Wikipedia? Wow. Just, wow. "

    I'm doing no such thing. I'm suggesting that he uses wikipedia as a spring board to learn about the ideas, and not to just dismiss them off the cuff.

    He speaks a different language from them, but he should at least know what the language is even if he disagrees with it.

    "If such information existed, you'd think that in seven years of arguments, in which the defenders of the Gedolim tried so desperately to reclaim their honor, someone would have offered such information. But they didn't. You know why? Because it doesn't exist!"

    This comment makes no sense. You haven't spent any time or effort to understand post modern views of literature. It's clear in all your posts.

    How can someone talk to you about it if you don't even know the basics?

    After you understand post modern literature and interpretation, then you can apply those concepts to the Rishonim and other sources as those who connect with the Maharal do. And then you can have a civil conversation on the topic.

    ReplyDelete
  40. "i have a lot to say about this frustrating meeting between you and 'rb' but for now i'll just say that rabbi carmel z"l not being alive is so resoundingly irrelevant. he re-confirmed his haskamah after the cherem and disagreed with r shapiro. you need a rebbi for new questions. if he answered you during his lifetime what's there to discuss? when r shapiro, may he live and be well till 120, is no longer on this world, will his opinion also become defunct?!"

    WOOSH!!! Over your head.

    He was asked to visit R. Shapiro as a Talmid.
    Unless one is claiming to be a rebbe themselves or that they have no need to be a talmid, one needs a live Rebbe to be a Talmid of.

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  41. "There is a movement in literature which says that you can never know the author's intent. You can only know how you relate to the written word.

    It makes no difference. His approach doesn't work with the written word either!"

    Ok, I'll try this another way.

    A person can only read a text based on their own relationship to that text.

    If a person believes that a given text must be relevant to their lives, then they also have the right and duty to read that text given all other information they know about the world.

    That is, if they know the world is a globe, and the text which they find relevant to their own world says the world is a flat square, then it is their right and duty to state that the author of the text meant a flat square world metaphorically. That is, they are correct when they say, that the author really meant and was saying all along, that our world is like a large market square where different corners specialize in different goods.

    Somebody such as yourself might argue that this is insane, and there is no way that is what they meant by a flat square earth. It was the science of the time and they meant it literally. The response to your statement is that you are actually using your own biases about how you treat authors of previous times. You are imposing on the author an intention which may or may not exist. You however believe that you are NOT imposing anything on the text, while the person who read the flat earth as a marketplace, knows and declare their right, to impose their view on the text. Both are imposing views, but only one is aware of it.

    Anytime somebody suggests that they know or are able to discover the original author's intent, they are falling into the "authorial intent" fallacy.

    You may not agree with the position, but at least study and learn where it comes from so you can understand it. Don't pretend that this isn't the #1 method by academics and experts today to study text and literature.

    This is why you will not find academics discussing what the text actually says, but only discussing what they view must be the history and context behind the text itself.

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  42. "It makes no difference. His approach doesn't work with the written word either!"

    You keep saying that, but it doesn't make it any more true.

    The Maharal obviously believed it did.


    It's a stretch to apply it to the Gemara. It's vastly more of a stretch to apply it to the Rishonim, which Maharal did not do, and which Rabbi B. (and probably Rav Moshe Shapiro) claim to do.

    "You are imposing on the author an intention which may or may not exist."

    Not imposing. Deducing.

    "the person who read the flat earth as a marketplace, knows and declare their right, to impose their view on the text."

    You know, I would have less of a problem with this po-mo shtick if my opponents would openly admit that this is what they are doing. If Rav Moshe Shapiro were to declare that he has a right to impose his view on the text, I'd be thrilled.

    "Don't pretend that this isn't the #1 method by academics and experts today to study text and literature."

    I can assure you that academics in departments of Talmud, Jewish Thought and Jewish History around the world do NOT claim that Chazal did not mean that the sun goes behind the sky at night. They absolutely do not claim that they have a duty to read such texts metaphorically (let alone that any other interpretation is heresy!)

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  43. Ameteur said... He was asked to visit R. Shapiro as a Talmid.

    i wasn't there, but i think he was asked to study THIS SUBJECT from r shapiro as a talmid. not necessary, because he graduated under r carmel, whose conclusions were different than r shapiro's. and r carmel's passing didn't mean that his opinions passed away too.

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  44. in general, it is pointless to debate a devoted talmid. the rebbie can concede but the talmid's adrenaline is there to defend the rebbie. an important thing to try to clear up is to get out of the talmid what he understands himself and what he just accepts from his rebbie. [often devoted talmidim don't appreciate the difference.]

    the match-up should never have been rns vs. r shapiro, which conveniently gets rb off the hook. the match-up should be rns vs. rb, ---who is in more command of the subject matter? if rb runs out of what to say and says but i have the authority of my rebbie that i'm right, only then, AFTER he sees that you have the better arguments, only then ask him if r hirsch would qualify as a counter-authority. and don't fall for a red herring that r hirsch never said anything about this, the letter to r wechsler is a fake... the question is if r hirsch in THEORY qualifies as a counter-authority. [if it's a fake we'll get to in a minute.] assuming he says yes [but life is full of surprises!] tell him that you are convinced that the wechsler letters are legit. why haggle with him what the reasons are that you are comvinced of that. let him first show the rishonim before you talk about prof. breuer, r hurvitz, and r shapiro's concession that r hirsch isn't from his beis medrash. the simpler the better.

    and if he says that r hirsch isn't an authority, tell him that he or one of his fellow students of r shapiro [i don't know who 'rb' is] patterned an ENTIRE BOOK after r hirsch, because r shapiro told him to always work with r hirsch'es approach. [i can show this in print at your local Jewish book store, where this appears in the book's introduction.]

    now rb will say that r hirsch was great but in this area we don't follow r hirsch, and you say maharal and r shapiro are great but in this area we don't follow them, especially r shapiro's strong terminology in his letter.

    kt to all

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  45. I'm pretty sure the reason why Rabbi B made that comment about R' Carmel is that he subscribes to a hierarchical Daas Torah. As such, he'd contend that R' Carmel would have recanted his views after discussion with R' Shapiro.

    I can't see any point discussing with Dr Betech. He seeks to not engage in a meaningful written form on this blog.

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  46. "Sheker ein lo raglaim."

    Reminds me of a quot attributed to Mark Twain: "A lie can travel half way around the world before the truth even get's it's shoes on."

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  47. "You know, I would have less of a problem with this po-mo shtick if my opponents would openly admit that this is what they are doing. If Rav Moshe Shapiro were to declare that he has a right to impose his view on the text, I'd be thrilled."

    That is my interpretation of post modernism techniques that they are using. They may and very likely will have a different understanding, since they come from a different culture than me. And further more, they likely ARE saying it, if you pay attention to the names he was dropping. However I imagine that many would argue that you don't need to say it explicitly, since that is what everybody is doing whether they acknowledge the fact or not.

    You often talk about bias, but you should also understand imposition.

    A random example of what I'm talking about: http://publishing.cdlib.org/ucpressebooks/view?docId=ft067n99zv&chunk.id=nsd0e1413&toc.id=endnotes&brand=ucpress



    However, whether the people you talk to have enough self awareness to know that they are using one technique and you are using another, doesn't remove the fact that you should look into the the people which RB mentioned. It took me 4 years of college, and a couple of years after that doing self study to understand that view of text and literature which is otherwise so foreign to us. And the truth is, that Midrash as a genre is actually very post modern, and may actually be the more authentic view of reading Jewish texts. How else can one understand when the Talmud says don't read "bonim" rather read "banim". But the texts say "Bonim", and why would anyone read "Banim"!?!? It takes an understanding of deconstruction and Post modern theory to undo the changes in our understanding of text which happened in the 15th century.

    The Talmud is a text, and what was written and is not the same as zoology or physics which can be truly objectively studied.

    "I can assure you that academics in departments of Talmud, Jewish Thought and Jewish History around the world do NOT claim that Chazal did not mean that the sun goes behind the sky at night. They absolutely do not claim that they have a duty to read such texts metaphorically (let alone that any other interpretation is heresy!)"


    That is true, but only because they recognize that anybody and everybody imposes their own views on to a text, and so they avoid the issue all together. Academics need a basis in which to form consensus.

    There is no true difference between deduction and imposition. There is only a connotational difference which need not exist.

    There are many great people who reject Post modern views of texts, and there are many great people who adhere to it. But you need to know it and understand it (and not just a layman's summary of it) before you can really state your opinion one way or another. It's true that you don't really have to, but your comments and summary of the conversation sound very foolish to me, otherwise. (Both sides of it)

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  48. I dont quite understand Rabbi B.'s argument. The Arizal changed everything therefore, we must accept the Maharal?

    The Maharal didnt know a thing about Lurianic Kabbalah.

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  49. I'm sure the crowd would have reacted much differently to the speech if he said "oh and by the way, I and people who think precisely the way I do decide who gets classified as an Eilu and who doesn't, based on some subjective notion of their "greatness" (which, by the way is partially determined by how close their views hew to the opinions we prefer). Only passing that litmus test allows an opinion to add diversity to the Jewish discussion."

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  50. Go visit rms but don't bring any arguments and don't raise any points - just mindlessly accept what he says. Really, that's the talmid to rebbe relationship? Is rms a chassidic rebbe, or a litvak?

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  51. 1. RNS: Please follow the rules. They are here to protect all of us. DON'T FEED THE TROLLS. Granted, sometimes it is difficult to determine whether a particular commenter is really trolling or is just plain stupid but it is always better to err on the side of caution.

    But it all depends on what is your intended purpose of the comment section...

    2. Argument from authority:

    The strength of this authoritative argument depends upon two factors:

    A. The authority is a legitimate expert on the subject.

    B. There exists consensus among legitimate experts in the subject matter under discussion.

    Fallacious arguments from authority often are the result of failing to meet at least one of the required two conditions.

    [Plagiarized from Wikipedia]

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  52. @James - I was wondering about that based on my superficial reading of Maharal, that he didn't seem to be working with the Ari's system (eg he uses rachamim as a middah instead of tiferes as a sefirah). Could you elaborate please?

    @RNS - I've had this conversation with another prominent talmid. I asked him to explain how this would work with the female anatomy and hilchos niddah is the 'underlying metaphysical reality'.

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  53. I was also wondering in what way the Maharal's explanation reflects back on the Rishonim before his time and invalidates all other views.

    It occurred to me that this is similar to the Rambam's assertion that G-d is incorporeal. Once this opinion was accepted, statements by Chazal that imply otherwise are understood as metaphors, even if other Rishonim had understood them literally.

    It seems that what R' B was saying is that the Maharal's explanation created a similar shift in perception.

    The way people understand Chazal is so influenced by the Maharal that it is almost impossible for them to see it in any other way, even though Rishonim had done so.

    As an intellectually honest person and an academic, you are interested in recreating the world-view that actually existed.

    That is not at all necessary in the world of Yeshiva learning, which has no problem with anachronism.

    It is unlikely that you will ever see eye to eye.

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  54. Its a shame when you became post charedi you threw out the baby with the bathwater.
    You see one compliment we can give the charedi rabbis is at least when they argue they dont get personal and start calling people derogatary names. (even when it came to banning your books the rabbis who used the term kofer only did so as they felt thats what the halacha termed you as)
    Its a shame that whenever you feel threatened you start with name calling, like Dr Betech being perculiar and Rabbi Solomon being pathetic.
    Its time you learnt some derech eretz from the mainstream charedi rabbis.

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  55. 1. I never, ever called Rav Mattisyahu Solomon pathetic. I said that co-opting the siyum hashas for a rant against the rationalist approach was pathetic.

    2. Do you really want to start comparing me with my opponents for derech eretz and ad hominems? I can write a post on that if you like. I would win hands down.

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  56. Brisker off the derechAugust 20, 2012 at 5:26 PM

    RNS i enjoy your posts which are thought provoking and stimulating.
    I wonder if we could explore how to take this important blog to its next level.
    You see most of your followers (myself included) take on the rational approach to Judaism and it is us who keep cheering you on.
    Just imagine if this blog could somehow be implanted in the Mir! imagine the uproar your ideas would create and just visualise how more lively and interesting this blog would become when thousands of yeshiva students tear your ideas to pieces backed up of course by their understanding chazal and rishonim.
    Of course the above is all sandcastles in the air, yeshiva students have the self control and avoid the internet, but it certainly would not make this blog one sided.
    Just a thought.

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  57. D.L., your last comment is both ill informed and unjust. Of course, some leading Hareidi figures have proclaimed various people with non-Hareidi views as wicked. Did the infamous keynote Agudah address naming a leading MO personality as 'soneh Hashem' escape your notice? As far as R' Natan is concerned, he is perfectly capable and willing to defend and justify his writings - a point that his rabbinic detractors failed to consider. They have only themselves to blame for the repercussions of that failure.

    In point of fact, the original proclamations against R' Natan was against 3 of his various books that were deemed by those Hareidi figures to contain 'kefira'. Rav Feldman, the Ner Israel rosh yeshiva, had reported a conversation with Rav Elyashiv in which the distinction between declaring the author a heretic and banning some books because they allegedly contained heretical viewpoints was made clear.

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  58. RNS - When you refer to someone as pathetic you usually mean that their actions are pathetic. You are splitting hairs.

    Rabbi Gary - You are correct. The Maharal lived contemporaneously with the Ari but since the Ari's teachings didnt reach Europe until decades after his death, there is just no way the Maharal was exposed to it. A simple reading of the Ari and Maharal will confirm that.

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  59. James, he didn't say "so and so's actions are pathetic." (Something which would make sense of your comment.

    He described a particular action, then called that action pathetic. Big difference, and not hair splitting IMO.

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  60. Avaraham says
    http://dafyummy.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/brachot-19a-speaking-after-biers-of.html#comment-form

    An excellent post of what happens to academic or rationalist Torah.

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  61. Y Aharon you are right, here and there leading haredi figures did use remarks such as "wicked" and "sonei Hashem", just like R Natan uses derogatary name calling to those he feels deserve it. R Natan will also go that extra mile and show the world his ingenious idea how a picture of R Ovadia can be used as a place for his bats to poop on.
    My point here is that it seems both the bet shemesh flat hats who spit on girls and RNS are both extremists who will stop at nothing to get their message across.
    In my humble opinion, both groups are lacking derech eretz

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  62. The idea put foward by Brisker off the derech to implant your blog in the Mir is an interesting one but i think would limit the life of this blog.
    I personally follow R Slifkin on his ideas he expresses on the animal kingdom as i know he has studied the subject matter for decades.
    However if the mirrer students would start arguing with Rabbi Natan since they have studied chazals works for decades i would deem them as the experts and favour their view over R Natans

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  63. You're not convincing them and they are not convincing you.

    IMO it only helps to talk openly to the people who think like a rationalist but are indoctrinated by the far right against their will in some sense by peer pressure or who just go along in a sense of community attachment.

    In some sense "rationalists" are not practicing the same religion as non-rationalists.

    I highly recommend R. Marc Angles book Maimonides, Spinoza and Us: Toward an Intellectually Vibrant Judaism (2009)

    R. Angle takes on far right ideas and does a great job in laying out the case for rationalism and using our minds vs. blindly following some self appointed Gadol.

    Shalom,

    Rabbi Simon

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  64. "RNS are both extremists who will stop at nothing to get their message across."

    Are you serious? Rabbi Slifkin always puts forth his point of view with careful, calm arguments and 99.9% of the time is extremely respectful of others. He gives the other side full voice, posting their statements on his website and even writing essays in defense of their viewpoint when they fail to do a proper job. He even allowed you to post your accusations and misrepresentations on his blog! There is no comparison between him and his opponents.

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  65. Rabbi Slifkin,

    A little off topic, if you'll forgive, but it's on my mind. I know many Rabbis accused you of heresy. I recall that Rabbi Elyashiv zt"l proclaimed that you were NOT a heretic, but that your ideas are simply not proper for the Haredi world.
    Other than Rav Elyashiv, how many people have declared you "wrong" as opposed to "a heretic"?
    Disagreements between scholars is a long and worthy tradition - bandying about the term "heresy" is another matter altogether.
    Which one do you think Rabbi B. meant vis-a-vis you?

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  66. Akiva M. - why would you conclude Ramban's report was accurate and Fray Pul's was not, based on the fact that the Ramban had effective ripostes? Perhaps the Ramban only thought of them afterwards.

    another lawyer.

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  67. However if the mirrer students would start arguing with Rabbi Natan since they have studied chazals works for decades i would deem them as the experts and favour their view over R Natans

    G Mann said... August 21, 2012 2:52 PM
    And similar comments suggesting that “If X only spent 5 minutes studying “A”, while Z has spent 20 years studying “A”, obviously Z has a deeper understanding of “A” than X.”

    This is a fallacy. 1+1=2. No matter how long I spend studying the phenomena of adding two things together, 1+1=2 will always be true. More time on the problem does not enhance any understanding of that problem.

    As a university teacher, I routinely teach difficult concepts. Such as the actions of a neurotransmitter at a synapse. A student of mine can spend ten years studying action of neurotransmitters at synapses and never get it. They develop no new understandings or depth of knowledge, they simply struggle to understand the basic concepts. Another student might instantly understand it and grasp the implications of the events. That fact that the first student spent much more time on trying to understand the concept is, in and of itself, not evidence of a deeper level of knowledge. Indeed, in this instance it suggest a deficiency in understanding.

    So the argument that Rabbi “X” has spent more time studying “A” than Rabbi “Y” is really just more nonsense.

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  68. Student v -
    Imagine I said "Ploni's books are filled with ignorance and insolence. Furthermore, he speaks like and ignoramus." Is it really fair to say that I said nothing about Ploni, just his works and how he speaks? I think it is clear that I think Ploni is ignorant and insolent.

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  69. My point here is that it seems both the bet shemesh flat hats who spit on girls and RNS are both extremists who will stop at nothing to get their message across.

    This is a classic case of "equivalence", similar to how CNN reports bus bombings and Israeli military reactions.

    Granted, RNS used poor judgement in his story about the bat cage lining, but he was well rebuked for it without recourse to censor.

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  70. @Anonymous
    `In some sense, rationalists are not practising the same religion as non-rationalists`.

    That sentence sums it up as well as anything I`ve seen. Some of us believe that the Chazal could be mistaken in their beliefs of geography,biology , or any of the sciences .
    Others believe that we`ll be cast into the void if we voice the slightest doubt,that we have to disregard any scientific progress,any curiosity or hint of rational thought ( no capital R for rational ).
    I don`t think that this will result in two or more separate religions, but time will tell. Still,these debates seem to have been going on for a very long time.

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  71. Avaraham:

    Thanks for the plug.

    Just to address this tangent, while that post indeed targets one *particular* sort of academic approach to Torah, which treats every derivation as a deliberate pious fiction, the intent was not to entirely condemn all such "rationalist" / academic approaches. (Indeed, at the time I composed that, I was aware of other academics who opposed that particular approach.)

    In other posts on the same blog, I point out the importance of knowing that Chazal regarded the heart as the seat of the intellect. And about Rabbi Yochanan and maternal impression.

    It is surely important to understand the intellectual environment in which rabbinic statements were made.

    kol tuv,
    josh

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  72. אני מצרף בזה לינק לדיון שהתקיים בפורום עצכ''ח על הרמ''ש ושיטתו

    http://www.bhol.co.il/forums/topic.asp?cat_id=24&topic_id=969719&forum_id=1364

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  73. James said... Imagine I said "Ploni's books are filled with ignorance and insolence. Furthermore, he speaks like an(d) ignoramus." Is it really fair to say that I said nothing about Ploni, just his works and how he speaks? I think it is clear that I think Ploni is ignorant and insolent.

    if this is the first time i'm hearing about ploni, you might have an argument. but if you're talking about a well known person who is generally admired, it is understood that there is more to the person than just this blurb. the blurb is in conrext of his overall reputation.

    your example of 'insolence' [and probably also your example of 'ignorance'] is [are] closely related to a person's morals and would refer to the person himself more readily than the words and context of RNSs statements.

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  74. To put it another way... James' point would mean that the Gedolim made far more personal comments about me than I made about Rav Mattisyahu!

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  75. "To put it another way... James' point would mean that the Gedolim made far more personal comments about me than I made about Rav Mattisyahu!"

    Yes. They did.

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  76. Kira said:

    "Just imagine if this blog could somehow be implanted in the Mir!"

    There's not much to imagine. My cousin studies in Mir, and he told me that the Gedolim are infallible, perfect human beings with ruach hakodesh, one gadol can disagree with another, but anyone else who disagrees with a gadol is by definition, "a joker".

    If you disagree with the gedolim, you are by definition wrong, and there is no need to address your arguments -- at all.

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  77. 1. In halacha we decide based on rayos and sevaros, not based on any presumed rabinic hierarchy. See Igros Moshe OC 109 where he writes that a Rav who disagrees with him based on his understanding of a sugya is not only allowed to do so, but mechuyav to do so.

    2. A proof that Chazal literally meant to decribe the path of the Sun is because the were debating with non-Jewish scholars. Did those scholrs alo know Lurianic Kabbalah? Furthermre, Chazal conceded because of what they believed was a proof based on the heating of wells, which seemed to indicate to them that the Sun passes below the Earth. Note that this is an employment of scientific reasoning, not religious reasoning based on psukim. This seems to imply that in the future, scientific reasoning can also be used to establish the emes, and in our days, we are privileged to have better instruments at our disposal due to the collective contributions of many minds since the time of the gemara.

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  78. Kira said... "I was also wondering in what way the Maharal's explanation reflects back on the Rishonim before his time and invalidates all other views... It occurred to me that this is similar to the Rambam's assertion that G-d is incorporeal. Once this opinion was accepted, statements by Chazal that imply otherwise are understood as metaphors, even if other Rishonim had understood them literally."

    ---- Kira, there is a clear difference, for while the Marharal introduced a new method of interpretation, the Rambam did no such thing, rather he merely repeated the traditional interpretation that went way back before him, as evident in the Talmud itself, in the Targum, in the Gaonim, etc., and in all sorts of classical sources well before the Rambam, that Hashem is completely incorporeal and that that was the teaching of Chazal.

    There are extremely few Rishonim who understood any of the sayings of Chazal as implying that Hashem is corporeal in any way. Rabbi Slifkin has argued, incorrectly in the opinion of many, that Rashi was among those very few known Rishonim who ascribed corporeality to Hashem. Nevertheless everyone should be able to agree that it was absolutely not the Rambam's innovation to interpret Scripture and Chazal as teaching that Hashem is completely incorporeal.

    Accordingly your comparison of what has happend with interpretation along the lines of the Maharal to the interpretation along the lines of the Rambam in respect to Hashem's incorporeality is invalid.

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  79. the Rambam did no such thing, rather he merely repeated the traditional interpretation that went way back before him, as evident in the Talmud itself, in the Targum

    Of course, Rav Moshe Taku, amongst other Rishonim, (as well as many contemporary academic scholars), would disagree. You're perfectly entitled to argue with these Rishonim and scholars as to what Chazal held, but it should be acknowledged that you are doing so. But let's not get sidetracked; this is not the topic of this post.

    Rabbi Slifkin has argued, incorrectly in the opinion of many, that Rashi was among those very few known Rishonim who ascribed corporeality to Hashem.

    And by an amazing coincidence, every single one of those "many" who hold me to be incorrect, happen to believe, as a fundamental religious belief, that Hashem is incorporeal!

    But, again, let's not get sidetracked. Still, it's important to note that when has a fervent religious belief, there is a very strong drive to believe that all revered religious figures held the same way. Rav Moshe Shapiro is far from being the only great person to succumb to this.

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  80. James said... “RNS - When you refer to someone as pathetic you usually mean that their actions are pathetic. You are splitting hairs.” [August 21, 2012 1:27 AM]

    Natan Slifkin said... “To put it another way... James' point would mean that the Gedolim made far more personal comments about me than I made about Rav Mattisyahu!” [August 24, 2012 12:10 AM]

    James said... “Yes. They did.” [August 24, 2012 7:00 AM]


    Reject says…
    james, you are very ambiguous. if you are conceding that the gedolim’s comments were less warranted than rns’s, fine. [but your words seem to brief to indeed mean that.] if you mean that the gedolim’s comments were warranted and “YES, THEY DID” make those comments justly, that just begs the question. The gedolim’s comments are an accusation of rns that he wrote books contrary to the torah and its authorities. If that accusation is unjustified then all the personal comments are also unjustified.

    There’s another point here. If you fault one side of this controversy, that doesn’t automatically exonerate the other side. If we grant that rns’s comments weren’t warranted, that itself says nothing to warrant the gedolim’s comments [especially their comments that came before his]. Both sides could be wrong. The thing to investigate is if the gedolim’s comments themselves were warranted. [I do not at all believe that to be the case.]

    Also, relatively[!] speaking, who cares if some youngster makes unwarranted derogatory comments about gedolim? We unfortunately have no shortage of people without respect for gedolim, parents, the jewish people and etc. ok, now there’s one more. But gedolim should make unwarranted derogatory comments about anyone?!? That is certainly a shocker to too many people. [--Although not to some people who comment here.]

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  81. Natan Slifkin said... “The rabbis who banned my books (and Rav Kanievski is not one of them) fall into two groups. Some are completely oblivious to the consequences of their actions and are truly ignorant of the disaster and uproar that it caused. Others are painfully aware of it, and are desperately trying to put it behind them.” [August 17, 2012 6:25 PM]

    Isn’t there also another notable group? This is those who aren’t ignorant at all of what they wrought, and imagine that the terrible consequences are all worth it, to preserve the פח שמן טהור.... This group I think is the most active and aggressive.

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  82. OnlineCommentingGuy said... “Rabbi Slifkin, A little off topic, if you'll forgive, but it's on my mind. I know many Rabbis accused you of heresy. I recall that Rabbi Elyashiv zt"l proclaimed that you were NOT a heretic, but that your ideas are simply not proper for the Haredi world. Other than Rav Elyashiv, how many people have declared you "wrong" as opposed to "a heretic"? Disagreements between scholars is a long and worthy tradition - bandying about the term "heresy" is another matter altogether. Which one do you think Rabbi B. meant vis-a-vis you?” [August 21, 2012 8:38 PM]

    OCG, you can browse here
    http://www.zootorah.com/controversy/default.html

    and particularly here
    http://www.zootorah.com/controversy/ravmoshe.html
    http://www.zootorah.com/controversy/PostscriptToResponseToRavMosheShapiro.pdf
    especially the beginnings and endings of these two articles

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  83. “Rabbis… who banned your books do not continuously proclaim their ban. They … said it once and yala.”

    The Artscroll biography of rsrh pp. 174-6 under the title ‘an unhealed breach’ records jacob rosenheim’s observations of the ‘never to be repaired rupture in Frankfurt’ that occurred when the majority of r hirsch’es kehillah did not follow his lead in ‘austritt’ – official secession from the greater reform-dominated congregation.

    Rosenheim wrote, “The incomplete realization of secession affected rabbi Hirsch for the rest of his life. Indeed, I remember one of his last addresses on Shabbos Shuva sometime between 1886 and 1888. [r Hirsch passed away in 1888, 12 years after secession. -reject] in the middle of his remarks, which were filled with lucidly expressed ethical admonishments, he suddenly stopped and with no transition said, “Even so we must protest incessantly the monstrous outrage that exists in our midst, willful affiliation with a community that represents heresy….” At that point he was overcome with emotion and could not continue. It made an awesome sight.”

    It’s depressing to compare the science-torah-rns controversy to another controversy that remained unhealed and never repaired. But are the people admonishing rns to move on ready to tell rsrh to do the same thing? Do they look with contempt at r Hirsch for being overcome with emotion so many years after the fact? Those who made the cherem would agree that considering the plentiful views of the rishonim to be heresy is a monstrous outrage, but they agree only in other contexts…. Others think so in this context also, even if silently. It does not seem that r Hirsch would fault them for not moving on. Nor does it seem morally responsible or permitted to allow the rishonim to be disgraced and just go on.

    So much from the theological perspective. Then there is the perspective of decency.

    continuing...

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  84. So much from the theological perspective. Then there is the perspective of decency.

    Imagine you [or your friend, parent, sibling, etc.] unfairly hurt someone and then he gets you [or your friend, parent, sibling, etc.] back many times over, beyond what you [or they] deserve. DO YOU ask him to stop, or demand of him to stop, and do nothing else to appease the hurt you gave him---OR DO YOU also apologize? And what if you unfairly hurt him in a most terrible way? And what if you hurt hundreds and thousands in a most terrible way, and some of them haven’t gotten over it—do you walk away without an apology; do you remain nearby and dictate how they should deal with the issue in which you hurt them—without apologizing? A basic of human relationships is to deal with others in their perspective. If you just don’t get it, that r slifkin’s books were legitimately sourced and ‘haskamah’ed, at least get that he assumed so and still assumes so, and thousands of devout jews assumed and assume so, and figure out what that demands of you in terms of mentchlichkeit. And besides, don’t be so sure that you’ll never be asked why you didn’t get it.

    Demanding r slifkin to desist while not recognizing the unfair treatment that he and thousands received from the cherem is, I’m sorry to say, and maybe I shouldn’t be so direct, simply disgusting.

    continuing...

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  85. You credit r slifkin’s opponents for moving on. I don’t, because

    1- they have NOT moved on, or at least haven’t shown that they’ve moved on. There are still anti-rns blogs, and manuscripts waiting to be published. Has anyone come forward with an offer to rns that they’ll stop if he stops? [obviously I’m talking about someone who is capable of getting all of them to stop.]

    2- if they’ve stopped, why assume it’s out of the goodness of their hearts, maybe it’s simply because they were routed and have nothing to say, [or to be unnecessarily charitable, they have nothing to say that is compelling enough to change the minds of rns and those agree with him—but would give anything to be able to shove their opinions on rns and co.].

    3- by and large, they suffered relatively negligible trauma from the whole cherem with all its backs and forths, and their followers and friends still approve of them as before.

    3a- For many of them the whole thing is only of peripheral interest; why give them laurels for walking away from that which doesn’t hold their interest in the first place?

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  86. You have my sympathy. For myself, I can just shrug and say that he / they are wrong and walk away. You have a much harder, maybe even futile, job - trying to change people who are fixed in their ways. Keep up the good work.

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