Way back during the Great Torah-Science Controversy of 2004-5, one of the strangest aspects of that entire distressing episode (which a certain rabbi recently likened to "a hundred-car pile-up in the fog") was the role of Rav Aharon Feldman, Rosh Yeshivah of Ner Israel in Baltimore. I had known Rav Feldman for many years. When the troubles began, he somehow found out right away, even before any pashkevillim were posted, and called me to offer encouragement. He told me that "Anyone who reads your books properly knows that you are acting lesheym Shamayim and that you are being mezakeh the public." He also recommended that I move to the US, where I would not encounter opposition to my writings. In the ensuing months, he made extensive efforts to prevent the ban from snowballing, including unsuccessful meetings with Rav Elya Ber Wachtfogel, and flying to Israel for a day in order to personally meet with Rav Elyashiv about it.
However, six months later, Rav Feldman made a complete about-turn. He wrote an extensive and rather bizarre essay in which he attempted to entirely justify the ban.
Immediately preceding the release of this essay, Rav Feldman called me for a long meeting. He told me that he had spent the last few weeks in Israel and that he had come under fire for supposedly supporting me. He wasn't happy with that and wanted to make it clear otherwise. And he was upset that the Gedolim had been painted as fools.
Still, even with his explanation, it was a rather strange reversal. Some people told me that Rav Feldman has two conflicting aspects to him: the Baltimore side, and the Bnei Brak side. It was the Bnei Brak side that had prevailed.
But did Rav Feldman's final stance - that it is heresy to say that the universe is billions of years old, that evolution occurred, and that the Sages were fallible in science - reflect the attitude of Ner Israel?
Many people assured me that it didn't. A number of rabbis who are alumni of Ner Israel told me about conversations that they had had with the legendary late Rosh Yeshivah of Ner Israel, Rav Yaakov Weinberg. He had told them that the world was obviously much more than a few thousand years old. He had also told them that there was no problem in saying that man evolved from animals, as long as one accepts that man is on a higher spiritual plane. A number of people told me that although Rav Feldman had been brought in to Ner Israel as Rosh Yeshivah, he wasn't really representative of Ner Israel.
The reason why I mention all this today is that a firestorm has erupted over MK Rabbi Dov Lipman, who is a member of Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party, the nemesis of the charedim in Israel (although, in truth, probably the best thing that ever happened to them). Rabbi Lipman is a graduate of Ner Israel, from the era when Rav Yaakov Weinberg was Rosh Yeshivah. The Hebrew Mishpachah magazine printed a letter from Rav Aharon Feldman insisting that MK Lipman's positions do not at all reflect the approach of either Ner Israel or Rav Yaakov Weinberg.
Personally, I have absolutely no idea if Rabbi Lipman's positions reflect the approach of Ner Israel or Rav Yaakov Weinberg.
But I know that Rav Feldman's positions don't.