Monday, August 13, 2012

The Dark Night Rises

On Shabbos I came across a parsaha sheet from the previous week, Shabbos Nachamu, about its relationship with Perek Shirah and the bat. Referring to the bat's verse in Perek Shirah, of nachamu nachamu ami, it presented a beautiful explanation of how the bat symbolizes perseverance and triumph through exiles. Just as the bat hangs upside-down, so too the world in exile is a topsy-turvy world. And just as the bat navigates through darkness via sonar, so too we can navigate through the dark night of exile until it lifts to reveal the dawn.

But as readers of last year's post entitled "I am the Bat Man," will recall, the source for identifying the bat as being present in Perek Shirah is none other than yours truly - and I made a mistake. I was explicitly very tentative with my suggestion, and eventually I decided that it was entirely without merit, and said so in the second edition. However, the first edition had already been used by ArtScroll in their edition of Perek Shirah. And so the bat entered Perek Shirah, resulting in all kinds of alleged metaphysical ramifications, as described in the earlier post.

There's no real harm done as a result of the error in the parasha sheet that I saw. It's an inspirational piece of writing. Still, it is alarming to see that an error of judgment that I made at the age of twenty-three is being adopted and elaborated upon fourteen years later!


  1. Yet had you suggested something that didn't fit their script, and then backed it up with half a dozen Rishonim, you can be sure no one would go to bat for you.

    Truly a topsy-turvy world.

  2. I wonder how many of the Tosafists, Gaonim, Rishonim and Acharonim experienced similar issues.

  3. Dear Rabbi, I have noticed the last few weeks since you have been in the States, your blog has been more toned down in regards to haredi bashing. Your posts are more thought out and presented in a more balanced way. I was just wandering perhaps this is no coincidence.
    As you are an open minded intellectual, born & bred in the UK, it must have been quite a culture shock for you to live between hundreds of velvet flat hats who spit on girls.....
    I am thinking now perhaps all the haredi bashing you do is coming more from an emotional side of you, as a direct result of you residing in Israel.
    Perhaps if you would move to USA (or back to the UK) your frame of mind would change and you would not feel the need to constantly condemn those that dont think like you.
    If i am correct i seem to recall somewhere on this blog you wrote that Rabbi Feldman advised you many years ago to do exactly that.
    Who am i to tell you what to do but perhaps you may be a happier person if you live amongst people whom share a culture similar to yours.

  4. Perhaps there is a lesson here about what goes into print. Even with things about which we feel strongly and knowledgeable,perhaps it is worth it to be deliberate.

  5. but also you would be someone who left eretz yisrael, therefore commiting an aveira. funny that rabbi feldman thinks he has found a new exception to the rambam's acceptable reasons for leaving eretz yisrael.

    One may make yerida for a) parnassa, b) a wife, c) so flaws in chareidi society will not be discussed openly.


  6. Nooneinparticular, thats exactly my point. Rabbi Slifkin should make yerida for his wife. I would be pretty depressed if my husband would be, day in day out a negative person especially if the negativity is not coming from anything substantial, rather its caused from the place one lives which can be rectified relatively easily.
    By the way before condemning Rabbi Feldman for finding a new exception in rambam for leaving EY "so flaws in charedi will not be discussed openly" can you find me a rambam which allows flaws in charedi society to be discussed openly?

  7. Do we always follow Rambam?

    Nowadays rabbis have left Israel to teach Torah. Would Rambam have permitted that?

  8. (sigh of relief) Thanks nooneinparticular there was a whole comment not chareidi bashing. Why does this website have to be so so negative. Is the only way you could be comfortable with whom you are. I guess now understand the name of the website "Rationalize Judaism" where everyone explains why there not Haredi by knocking them with the most childish innane comments
    Such comments make you look so sad. While Rabbi Slifkin and a few commentors make some good points most things said are so silly. Rabbi Feldman advices that a particular individual would do better with the orthodox community in America and you say Rabbi Feldman is condemning Israel Hareidim. How often do I hear people complain about Rabbanim give cookie cut advice. I guess for our commentator its OK.

  9. Remarkable thought. I echo Michapeset's sentiment.

  10. one of the main reasons I left chul was to get away from the poor level of orthodox religious leadership (mainly chareidi). So, you have to recognize that in Israel (and i hope that RNS has found his place there), you can find decent orthodox leadership. so I can't imagine leaving israel to go back to that dreck in chul. Nor can I imagine that i would complain less there. It's entirely possible that RNS feels the same way.

    Michal, I think that perhaps the rambam was the first blogger to bash chareidim publicly. he does it himself quite effectively in perek chelek when discussing the fools who take certain statements literally, when they are clearly not supposed to be taken literally. RNS has good yichus there.

    alistair, We don't always follow rambam, of course not. Nor was I suggesting it. I was making a joke (obviously it wasn't done well judging by the responses).
    Rambam lists three exceptions (if I recall correctly) allowing one to leave Israel. being happy by feeling less need to bash chareidim wasn't one of them.

    SB, not sure I understood you (or perhaps you didn't understand me). I never said Rabbi Feldman was condemning israeli haredim. How did you get such an idea from my comment?

  11. it is alarming to see that an error of judgment that I made at the age of twenty-three is being adopted and elaborated upon fourteen years later!

    It's interesting that you frame your error in judgment in the context of your age. After all, your age (especially in 2004-2005) is one area that your detractors point to as reason not to support your position. They'll say that even while admitting that they cannot deny the merits of your arguments but hold that you should have deferred to those with age (stated as commensurate with experience) on their side.

    You have a gift for writing. You published more books by the age of 30 than many notable rabbis 2-3 times your age. However, should your age be a consideration when evaluating their content? I've argued that age is irrelevant and pointed out that Albert Einstein was 26 when he published some of his most important papers! (see )

    In light of this error and some of your works you sometimes jokingly distance yourself from (i.e. by some guy named Nosson) - What do you say?


  12. My early errors had more to do with my charedi yeshivah training than my age. In any case, there were always elderly people who checked my writings and endorsed them!

  13. Reuven Schmeltzer is your "bane"? :)

  14. Michal, if one wishes to get away from Charedim, one only has to move away from RBS, Bnei'Brak or Jerusalem. No need to leave Eretz Yisrael.

  15. I had in mind one other person who said something he regretted saying years later: Menachem Begin. He regretted saying, "We fight, therefore we are." I wonder how many people continue to be inspired by his earlier words.


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