Monday, June 17, 2019

When People Lose Their Minds

In the past I have sometimes found that my posts are misinterpreted. This post is extremely vulnerable to being misinterpreted. Please read it carefully and do not misinterpret it!

This morning I was a little shaken to see my name appear in a horrific news story about an attempted murder. Even worse, it was in a quote from a comment by the would-be murderer on this very blog.

The breaking story, reported by multiple news outlets, is about the arrest of Matthew Karelefsky on one count of arson and two of attempted murder. Last week, Karelefsky set fire to the house and car of Rabbi Yonasan Max from Yeshivas Chaim Berlin. The fire spread to destroy three homes. Thirteen people were hospitalized, including a baby. Karelefsky made no attempt to hide his role in this, and was pictured today grinning during his arraignment.

Who is Matthew Karelefsky? He used to be called Menachem Karelefsky, before he converted to Christianity. Karelefsky issued allegations about Rabbi Max having abused him, but he admitted to someone that these were fabricated. The underlying source of his grudge is unclear. I spoke today with someone who knows him, and they said that it relates to his divorce. Karelefsky is clearly a deeply disturbed individual, and he needs to be locked up, whether in prison or in an asylum.

But aside from his homicidal actions, there are other issues going on with him. One news site quoted the following comment which Karelefsky wrote on this blog back in January:
“I will say this…One of the MAIN reasons why I started exploring the option to leave Judaism is bec ( at first) Chaim Berlin forced my children to go to secular studies… … And now I am the BIGGEST ORTHODOX JEW HATER …And , if my kids weren’t forced to go to secular studies , I would still be frum and love Jewish people…PS, I ALSO ( even then) was a big fan of Rabbi Slifkin and the ban on Rabbi Sklifkin is one of the BIGGEST reasons why I left Judaism.”

This comment was reposted on this blog yesterday, with the preface: "A Comment from the Brooklyn arsonist."

The first part of the comment is very odd. Why would the yeshiva forcing his children to have secular studies cause him to leave Judaism? It makes no sense.

The second part of his comment, on the other hand, about his leaving Judaism because of the ban on my books, is all too resonant.

Many readers here will recall the turbulent times of 2004/2005. When the ban on my books came out, there was widespread distress. This wasn't like the ban on Making Of A Godol, which was directed against only one person. This was an assault on every religious Jew who accepted modern science. As Jonathan Rosenblum put it: "I woke up one day to discover that my rebbe of thirty years rated me as a heretic."

For decades, while there were differences regarding precisely how to reconcile clashes between Torah and science, the common denominator was that the exercise itself was legitimate. You didn't have to reject something as basic as the dinosaur era in order to be accepted as a good Jew. Now, all of a sudden, the community was being told that if you believe that the universe is millions of years old, "dust in your mouths!" And if you challenged that position, you were an even worse heretic, for going against the all-wise Gedolim.

The consequences for many people were cataclysmic. I have a binder full of letters from people who were enraged, confused, devastated. I've lost count of the number of people who have told me that they left the charedi community as a result, and I know of a few that left religion altogether. Personally, I was at a relatively early stage in life, and it was relatively easy to change affiliations and join the Torah u'Madda community. But for those who were more embedded in the charedi community, it was not so easy. In one particularly traumatic case that I know of, a marriage was almost torn apart, as the husband was put in a state of despair by the ban and tore down the posters, while the zealous friends of his wife urged her to divorce her husband for defying Daas Torah. People underwent existential crises.

Unless you've experienced it, you can't imagine what it feels like to be totally delegitimized. You don't know what it's like to have spent years studying Torah, having developed a deep sense of respect for rabbinic authority, a passionate religious commitment, and then to be told - by the embodiment of rabbinic authority, no less - that you're a bad, disrespectful, failure of a Jew. Rav Chaim Shmulevitz writes about how Amalek's hatred for the Jewish People stemmed from his originally being rejected. When you delegitimize someone, there's no telling what effect that will have on them.

Searching my email just now, I found a single letter that I received from Menachem Karelefsky, back in 2003 - a year before the ban:
Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
        My name is Menachem Karelefsky. I am a rebbi in Yeshiva Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn. This summer I am going to be a rebbi for second grade boys in a bungalow colony. I was very inspired by your book "Nature's Song" and I would like to teach Perek Shira. May I please have your permission to copy some pictures or paragraphs from your book to use in my worksheets ?

        Thank you very much,
        Sincerely,
        Menachem.

A totally normal email, from a totally normal-sounding person. He was not the only person in Chaim Berlin who had reached out to me. I had also been corresponding with someone else, in the kollel. That person had been deeply troubled by various Torah-science issues, and had reached out to me for guidance. He didn't feel comfortable reaching out to the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Aaron Shechter. And with good reason - after the ban on my books, Rav Shechter gave a fire-and-brimstone speech in which he screamed against me for attempting to reconcile Genesis with modern science. Little did he realize that in his very own yeshivah, there were people who were undergoing crises of faith and who relied on my books for their emotional well-being. Can you imagine how they felt when their Rosh Yeshivah gave such a speech?

I must emphasize again that this does not remotely account for Karelefsky's behavior. I don't even know if his leaving Judaism actually had anything to do with the ban - the fact of his claiming it did does not necessarily mean that it actually was connected. And even total delegitimization does not lead one to try to murder somebody! In any case, as noted above, Karelefsky's grudge against Rabbi Max was related to personal issues, and he clearly suffers from severe mental problems.

Still, all this should give people pause to reflect upon the effect that the ban had on people. It was an act with enormous repercussions. And how much thought and research went into it? The signatories didn't know anything about modern science, they were not familiar with the rabbinic sources that I based my approach on, they didn't meet with either myself or the rabbis who had endorsed my books, they didn't do any research as to the likely consequences of their actions.

As someone's uncle once said, "With great power, comes great responsibility." The problem with charedi society is that its leaders wield tremendous power with very little responsibility.


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128 comments:

  1. This is all very disturbing, from start to finish.

    I realize that this ancillary to the main thrust of the post, but I can't help but wonder how many people there are out there in the frum world who are sort of balanced on a knife edge between adherence to Orthodox Judaism (typically of very restrictive, right-wing variety) and... something else altogether.

    The story of this Matthew/Menachem Karelefsky person reminds me of a person I remember a from a frum community in which I used to live (minus the obsessiveness and violence). He was kind of a "nebach", one of those oddball types of which every shul/community seems to have some. Unmarried, not particularly intelligent, never seemed to have a steady job (worked at the local kosher butcher for a time, then tried his hand at being a photographer for simchas, etc.) but was, by all appearances (black hat, black suits, beard, peyos, etc.), fervently Orthodox and always heavily involved in the community.

    I since moved away from that community, but I have heard from friends that this guy is no longer a part of the community/shul(s), and that his social media postings strongly imply that he now considers himself Christian (or at least a Jewish follower of Christianity).

    Really makes one wonder how many poor, unbalanced folks cleave to frumkeit either because it is all they know or because it offers them discipline or fills some kind of void in their lives, but as soon as it "fails" them or lets them down, they stand poised (whether they know it or not) to move on to searching for some other source of meaning in their lives.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There was another torn psycho in Teaneck many years ago who murdered his daughters on Windsor Road while they sat in his car because he was angry with his ex-wife. Divorce really does throw some of these men way over the edge, especially if they were violent at home.

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    2. Ad there was an MD who murdered his wife in Westchester county about the Same time.
      These stories don't really mean much.

      Delete
  2. Honestly you are overdoing the effect that the ban had on people. I know that this story gives you a sense of validation despite it being about a deranged individual, but the ban didn't rock people's lives nearly as much as it did yours.

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    Replies
    1. Honestly, I think that I am in a better position than you to assess this, seeing that countless people have told me about the effect of the ban on them.

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    2. harry - how do YOU know that RNS is overdoing the effect?

      Delete
    3. As a 17-year-old at the time, it had a *major* effect on me.

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    4. Definitely rocked MY world. Suddenly, in young middle age, I was lost. I had to re-invent myself, had to come to terms not only with the fact that I was not and could not be a Chareidi; but also with the fact that I had, in truth, never been one. It had all been an illusion in my head.

      Thank G-d for Rav Hirsch! Following his lead, I could maintain my respect for Gedolim, i.e.their greatness in limud Torah and mitsvos, while completely embracing Rav Hirsch's shitos on pretty much everything.

      Delete
  3. So you are saying that they should surpress what they believe to be true, due to possible consequences.

    Can this argument be flipped to you? Perhaps you should censor your blog, because it is taking people away from orthodoxy by bringing up problematic issues within orthodoxy? Even if you believe you are right.

    What's good for the goose is good for the gander

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    Replies
    1. "So you are saying that they should surpress what they believe to be true, due to possible consequences."
      Not at all! I'm saying that they should take the consequences into account. A lot of the opposition to my books was that they were *dangerous*. They never thought about the dangers of banning them.

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    2. They didn't think there *were* any dangers of banning them--and I don't blame them. Judging from the precedent of banning RNK, they had no reason to believe a young avreich in his 30's would actually try to tear down the entire authority structure of chareidi society in order to defend himself against the ban...

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    3. 1) The catastrophic effects had nothing to do with my defense of my writings.
      2) I merely provided a respectful defense, not "tearing down the entire authority structure." They did that to themselves.
      3) As for me not just capitulating - they should have actually tried to find out how I would respond. Which they could have done by meeting with me.

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    4. 1) One can easily argue that had you retracted the books immediately and without the internet firestorm over the ban (which was a complete novelty in it's time and completely unforeseen) which ensued after your resistance, very few people outside Jerusalem would have even known about it.
      And one can then argue that your vigorous defense online definitely stoked that firestorm. You were definitely feeding information to the bloggers at the time.

      2) How is posting and actively promoting this obviously subversive essay:
      http://www.zootorah.com/controversy/Slifkin,%20Salem%20and%20the%20Senator%20plus%20postscript.pdf
      considered providing a"respectful defense and not trying to tear down the entire authority structure"?

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    5. 'respectful defense' is irrelevant. If you would have ept quiet, this would not have happened, according to your logic.
      I am not saying you were obligated to keep quiet, just that you should turn the logic onto yourself. Remember, when you point a finger at someone else, you are pointing three fingers at yourself.
      And 'respectful defense' may have been your first post. You are dedicated to 'tearing down the entire authority structure' in most subsequent posts. One post after the next denigrates what you consider the tenet of CHaredism, 'daas torah'. (It is not a tenet of charedism at all, but from the outside it looks like that)Again, you may be right, but that tears down the structure

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    6. @just saying, it's incredible how naïve and uninformed you are.

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    7. "to tear down the entire authority structure"

      כל הפוסל במומו פוסל. The Cherem tore down the authority of the Gedolim of the previous generation who gave their warm blessings to the core of RDNS's books as they appeared widely in Kiruv books and oral shiurim. Return to your cave (or palace).

      Delete
    8. He also did it is not an adequate defense. Perhaps the Gedolim were wrong, but the honored blog owner is equally responsible for this part of the problem. Everything in this post is equally valid on him.

      Maybe neither are wrong, maybe neither are responsible for a crazy guy doing crazy stuff. But as it stands, both sides can use this crazy guy as a proof to their opinions.

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    9. @chaim, speaking of uninformed, Natan Slifkin's books crossed so many lines that it threatened the status quo.
      Sure there were kiruv approaches with the core of RND's books. But those were developed and published by laymen and scientists--not chariedi rabbis publishing through Feldheim with haskomos from leading roshei yeshivos!

      The ban was designed to keep those approaches out of the mainstream yeshiva world, and RNS subsequently realized (far too late, after all the damage from his online defense had been done) that they had every right to do this.

      Before the ban, individuals in the yeshivah world who had science/emunah issues would discreetly find their way to the kiruv world to find the approaches which satisfied them.
      When RNS tried to mainstream them with his publisher and his haskomos, that delicate bridge between the worlds was blown wide open and everything was ruined.
      RNS deserves as much, if not more blame than the banners.
      just sayin'

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    10. "The ban was designed to keep those approaches out of the mainstream yeshiva world, and RNS subsequently realized (far too late, after all the damage from his online defense had been done) that they had every right to do this."

      Wow, how wrong can you get?!

      ACTUALLY, I recognized from the outset that they had every right to do this, and I tried to arrange a meeting whereby I would quietly withdraw my books from the charedi market. But the problem was that both the askonim and some of the Gedolim involved insisted on making a big stink about Kefirah Gemura. So I responded with a polite defense about how they are not kefirah, even while acknowledging that it was reasonable not to want them to be mainstreamed into the chareidi world.

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    11. Okay. Change "realize" to "publicly acknowledge", and everything else I wrote stands.

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    12. Okay. So who bears the responsibility for the damage to charedi rabbinic authority? I'd say it's with the rabbinic authorities who screamed KEFIRAH! rather than saying "we don't want this approach in charedi society" and meeting with me to work out a resolution.

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    13. @just sayin'

      Please inform all of the "uninformed" people on this thread by describing the lines that RNS' books crossed
      And please provide for us some approaches of the "kiruv world" that would satisfy those who have "science/emunah" issues

      Looking forward

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    14. I basically outlined them already: getting haskomos from leading roshei yeshivah and publishing with a mainstream chareidi publisher to promote approaches that until then were only to be found in *and acceptable for* the "kiruv world".

      But I'll elaborate: In a nutshell, before Slifkin, the only acceptable approach to science within the yeshivah world is that we take it for granted that the statements of fact in the Torah/Chazal are factually and historically correct, and current scientific theory is constantly shifting, has so many holes, etc. that you need not even be bothered by it.
      Science has to fit the Torah--not the other way around.

      Slifkin presented the "Kiruv approaches" of Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, et, al. to the frum world--an approach which accepted current scientific theory as fact--including human evolution and the 15 billion year age of the universe--and they attempted to shoehorn the Torah to fit them on an ad-hoc basis. This kiruv approach satisfied people who were indoctrinated by the secular educational system and popular media to believe that only scientists have access to all true knowledge about the world. These people were not yet emotionally capable of being critical of the regnant scientific theories of the day, and science posed a obstacle to the belief that the Torah was an infallible Divine work.

      Until Slifkin came along, this kiruv approach was only acceptable to get people into Yiddishkeit with the hope that they would progress to adopt the "Yeshivah world approach" (above) over time.

      But even this wasn't good enough for Slifkin. His dedication to "intellectual honesty" demanded he go even further and advocated that we shouldn't even bother trying to reconcile the Torah with science: The Torah's narratives are simply Hashem's way of propagating anti-pagan myths; the statements of fact in the Torah reflected the superstitious beliefs of the Jews at Har Sinai; Chazal darshened pesukim and paskened halachos under the influence of the primitive science of their times.

      I see lots of red lines being crossed there! Don't you?

      Delete
    15. A correction is in order. The proper title that should have been used in my comment above is "Rabbi Dr. Natan Slifkin".
      I meant no disrespect with my use of "Slifkin"--last names being a common convention in academic circles.

      Delete
    16. the honored blog owner is equally responsible for this part of the problem

      And I had always thought that if a Godol and young man join together and create a problem (or anything else, good or bad), the Godol had more input. And that the Godol knows how to undo the problem. And that the Godol realizes all the simple solutions us shnooks are offering.

      not chariedi rabbis publishing through Feldheim with haskomos from leading roshei yeshivos

      Ok, 3 differences. Let's take one at a time.

      not chariedi rabbis

      RDNS was, if you'll excuse me, a fine young shnook, like the rest of us were back then, (and maybe still are). Basically with as little authority as a layman. So in effect, this makes no difference.

      not ... publishing through Feldheim

      You are uninformed.

      not ... with haskomos from leading roshei yeshivos

      I don't believe that's true. You've seen every book, and know that they don't have Haskamos?

      ---

      Also if you don't mind, find even one pashkevil that says like you. They all say differently. How dare you disagree?

      ---

      When you talk about RDNS's reaction, bear in mind that your whole theory wasn't given to him as an option, only my way or highway -- and decide within 24 hours!

      ---

      In a nutshell, before Slifkin, the only acceptable approach to science within the yeshivah world is that we take it for granted that the statements of fact in the Torah/Chazal are factually and historically correct, and current scientific theory is constantly shifting, has so many holes, etc. that you need not even be bothered by it.

      You are uninformed.

      ---

      Finally, forget about RDNS himself. Like I said before, the core of RDNS's *books* had the warm blessing of the Gedolim. What of it has your warm blessing?

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    17. @chaim,
      I see more hand-waving than actual substantive responses. It kind of reveals the weakness of your critique.

      Delete
    18. @just sayin'

      These are only red lines for someone who is ignorant of earlier commentaries within the rishonim and have fooled themselves into believing that whatever the rabbis in the charedi world (some would call "gedolim") say is the absolute truth and that anything outside of it is kefirah.
      For the fortunate orthodox Jews who have BH been given a more mature, expansive, and honest form of limmudei kodesh, there are no lines being crossed here.

      Furthermore, IMHO, the rationalist approach is less for the unaffiliated Jews "in need of the kiruv approach" and more for the FFB Jews who have finally and fortunately realized they have grown up in a subset of Judaism that is built on ignorance and a poor understanding of chazal.

      Your point about RNS hijacking the Aryeh Kaplan approach (which I would like to see a source for) basically tells everyone that the kiruv world has to rely on lies to "sell a product" to unaffiliated Jews. That's the type of Judaism anyone should be embarrassed about

      Delete
    19. "For the fortunate orthodox Jews who have BH been given a more mature, expansive, and honest form of limmudei kodesh, there are no lines being crossed here."

      You mean the academic approach to limudei kodesh, don't you? If you do, I suppose no red lines have been crossed.
      No argument there.

      And I never said RDNS "hijacked" RAK's approach. But RDNS has in fact accused the kiruv world of routinely employing dishonest approaches which attempt to claim the truth of the Torah has been vindicated by modern science to unaffiliated Jews.

      Delete
    20. "You mean the academic approach to limudei kodesh"

      I'm not sure what you mean by that.
      Earlier commentaries viewing parts of breishit as allegorical, the gemara stating an opinion that Iyov is not a historical account , the Rambam saying that much of divrei chazal should ideally be interpreted allegorically, the Baal Ha'maor viewing the gemara's dating reconciliation of Koresh-Daryavesh-Artachshata as incorrect, or the gemara (cited by RNS) that secular sages can be correct over the sages.... in my mind this is not academic. It's just plain and simple Torah. These are parts of the Torah that are ignored in charedi circles and when they do come up they are often labeled as "fringe" ,"not mainstream" or "mistaken"; but who has the right to make those claims? Of course, each hashkafa is entitled to their own opinion, but that doesn't mean that the opposing view is "kefira" or "crossing red lines". (if you ask me, the "crossing red lines" is more applicable to the camp that hides or dismisses parts of chazal)

      Indeed, you didn't use the word "hijack", but your sentiment was there. Bringing up semantics like that is an indication that you are trying to avoid addressing the point I brought up, which in fact you did ignore.
      You said:
      "This kiruv approach satisfied people who were indoctrinated by the secular educational system and popular media to believe that only scientists have access to all true knowledge about the world. These people were not yet emotionally capable of being critical of the regnant scientific theories of the day, and science posed a obstacle to the belief that the Torah was an infallible Divine work."

      The first part of your statement is insinuating that the kiruv approach basically used lies to bring people in. Do you agree? If so, then rightfully so that RDNS accuses them. Do you have no issue with it?
      The 2nd part of your statement only makes sense if you hold that whatever the Torah says needs to be scientific, but not if one accepts that the Torah is not a science textbook (which IMHO is simple pshat).

      Lastly, you do realize that your point that "These people were not yet emotionally capable of being critical" applies fully to the charedi world that cannot fathom the idea of current gedolim being wrong and that earlier chazal can in fact coalesce with the modern scientific world, right?

      Delete
    21. I think we are talking past each other here.
      I wasn't attacking or defending any position. I am merely trying to describe the socio-religious status quo on the issue of Torah and Science before RDNS came on the scene, and how RDNS's books disrupted that status-quo and threatened to radically change it.
      (Although some people here like Chaim seem deeply offended by this description. Not sure why.)

      I am not having a futile discussion which attempts to ascertain if the red lines drawn by the Yeshivah world and the kiruv world are completely arbitrary and ought to be crossed or not.
      But to address your question, I happen to agree with RDNS's charge that the kiruv world's approach is dishonest and deceptive--although the people who actually present these approaches in the field are completely sincere.

      I also happen to think that the views RDNS espouses in his books, namely:
      "The Torah's narratives are simply Hashem's way of propagating anti-pagan myths; the statements of fact in the Torah reflected the superstitious beliefs of the Jews at Har Sinai; Chazal darshened pesukim and paskened halachos under the influence of the primitive science of their times."
      are objectively and rightfully termed "fringe" and "not mainstream". Furthermore, early authorities that pre-date chareidim and contemporary gedolim have actually labeled these views heretical.

      But you are completely entitled to pick and use among isolated opinions in Jewish history to fashion your preferred hashkafa as you see fit.

      Delete
    22. @just sayin'

      Thank you for clarifying your point. It seems we see more eye to eye with one another than not (and if that wasn't the case, then that's okay too).

      I have to admit I don't know his books that well so I can't really comment without seeing the context of where those sentences are found, but I can see your point of view why it wouldn't be considered mainstream.

      Can you please point me to the early authorities that view it as heretical? The follow-up questions I would ask on this are (1) do all authorities unanimously view these things as heretical? what percentage of authorities express these views? and (2) do you think the opinion of what is and isn't heretical can change as time goes on and the world evolves, or do these earlier opinions remain fully applicable forever ?

      Delete
    23. To just saying 2:18pm
      They never approached RDNS quietly to retract his books (whatever that means), they went straight public ban.

      Delete
    24. @just sayin', would you say our disagreement hinges on a question of history -- if pre RDNS his core ideas were accepted to a significant degree then the Cherem was wrong, if they weren't accepted then it was right? And everything else is only a follow-up to that question of history?

      Ascertaining this would save us a lot of time. Thank you.

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    25. authorities that pre-date chareidim and contemporary gedolim have actually labeled these views [that RDNS espouses in his books] heretical

      Agreed. But this too is secondary to which authorities were being followed before RDNS's books.

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    26. @N8ZL:
      I don't think we can have an intelligent discussion on such a vital topic if you are not thoroughly familiar with the views on both sides.
      But in any event:
      1) Rashba has a well-known set of teshuvos declaring allegorization of Chumash heretical which is considered quite definitive and normative. (Vol I 414-417) Rambam, who is the only mainstream source quoted in favor of allegorization is far from clear on the matter since this not found anywhere in his actual explanation of Bereishis. On the contrary, in Book II Chapter 30, he explains the entire account without resorting to allegory for any part of the narrative.
      The only rishon I've heard of is Ralbag--who is a quite a maverick in Jewish philosophy generally.

      Regarding Chazal and science, Tosafos (Chulin 57b), Rashba (Teshuvah Vol I 98) and Ran (Drashos, #5 2nd version) are quite clear that questioning Chazal's definitive teachings as they pertain to realia is heretical. This is based on an incident between Rav Yochanan and a skeptic found in Bava Basra 75a.
      The only rishon quoted as saying Chazal's drashos and halachos could be mistaken is found in a subsection of Rabbenu Avraham ben HaRambam's maamar al aggados. There is some recent scholarly dispute regarding this passage's authenticity.

      2) I don't think the mainstream view of what is heretical can change with time. The way I see it, Rabbinic Judaism has already seen plenty of conflicts with science in the past and it didn't feel the need to change its red lines.

      I maintain that the tools employed by the mainstream rabbinic literature which resolved all those conflicts can still be utilized today to resolve ours.

      Delete
    27. @MiMedinat HaYam:
      According to RDNS's account, he was called by askanim to retract before they went public with a ban.
      http://www.zootorah.com/controversy/account.html

      @chaim:
      As I mentioned above, it was only the views which fit Torah with the current scientific theories which were viewed acceptable for kiruv-- and only as a last resort for people with a serious pro-science bias.
      Just look at Dr. Schroder's and Professor Nathan Aviezri's books as prime examples of the genre. They are both scientists and both try to read evolution into the pesukim in Bereshis and neither of them have haskomos from leading roshei yeshivah.

      As I mentioned above, RDNS' own views went much further than this (The Torah has false myths--Chazal's halachos were wrong) AND tried to bring them to the yeshivah world!

      Delete
    28. "Rambam, who is the only mainstream source quoted in favor of allegorization is far from clear on the matter since this not found anywhere in his actual explanation of Bereishis."
      Actually, he has an explicit statement to that effect.

      "Regarding Chazal and science, Tosafos (Chulin 57b), Rashba (Teshuvah Vol I 98) and Ran (Drashos, #5 2nd version) are quite clear that questioning Chazal's definitive teachings as they pertain to realia is heretical."
      Absolutely false.

      Delete
    29. "I maintain that the tools employed by the mainstream rabbinic literature which resolved all those conflicts can still be utilized today to resolve ours. "

      The tool used by the Gemara to solve the problem of Chazal saying that the sun went behind the sky at night was to say that they were wrong.

      Delete
    30. @RDNS:
      I see more hand-waving than actual substantive responses. It kind of reveals the weakness of your critique.

      1) So tell us--Which verse or group of verses in Bereishis did Rambam identify as having allegorical meaning? Saying "ayn kulo kepshuto" does not mean allegory.

      2) "Absolutely false"
      Huh?

      3) This tool only works for non-definitive statements of Chazal-- as Maharam Schick you posted recently clearly indicated.
      http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2019/06/the-perfect-solution-for-un-banning-my.html

      Delete
    31. 1) For that, you have to look at the commentaries.

      2) They said no such thing.

      3) "It was taught in a Beraita: Rabbi Eliezer says, the world is like an exedra, and the northern side is not enclosed, and when the sun reaches the north-western corner, it bends back and rises above the firmament. And Rabbi Yehoshua says, the world is like a tent, and the northern side is enclosed, and when the sun reaches the north-western corner, it circles around and returns on the other side of the dome, as it says, “traveling to the south, and circling to the north…” (Eccl. 1:6)—traveling to the south by day, and circling to the north by night—“it continually passes around, and the wind returns again to its circuits” (ibid.)—this refers to the eastern and western sides, which the sun sometimes passes around and sometimes traverses." (Bava Batra 25a-b) There's nothing non-definitive about either of their statements.

      Delete
    32. it was only the views which fit Torah with the current scientific theories which were viewed acceptable for kiruv-- and only as a last resort for people with a serious pro-science bias.

      How do you know? Were you there?

      Delete
    33. Rashba has a well-known set of teshuvos ... which is considered quite definitive and normative.

      Who decided that? Who accepted that?

      Delete
    34. does anyone know like how old dovid was in 2004?

      Delete
    35. @just sayin

      "Rashba has a well-known set of teshuvos declaring allegorization of Chumash heretical which is considered quite definitive and normative"

      What determines normative? Quoting one authority wouldn't be enough for me to be considered unanimous or normative.


      "Rambam, who is the only mainstream source quoted in favor of allegorization is far from clear on the matter since this not found anywhere in his actual explanation of Bereishis. "

      So if there are early commentaries that said that there never was a snake who talked to Chava, that it was her evil inclination talking to her, or that she saw a snake eating the fruit and developed her own line of reasoning, are these commentaries not considered those "in favor of allegorization"?

      "On the contrary, in Book II Chapter 30, he explains the entire account without resorting to allegory for any part of the narrative."

      I will quote one statement within book 2 chapter 30 and please tell me how you are interpreting it as anything other than allegory:

      "אמנם שזה אשר למעלה מן ה'רקיע' נקרא 'מים' בשם לבד לא שהוא אלו המים המיניים
      It has also been declared by our Sages that the portion above the firmament is only water by name, not in reality"

      The Rambam here says that "the waters above the heavens" is not meant to be taken literally and is using chazal as his support. please explain.


      "The only rishon I've heard of is Ralbag--who is a quite a maverick in Jewish philosophy generally."

      What determines maverick or not? And him being "the only rishon you've heard of" doesn't say anything, unless you are saying you are well-versed in all the rishonim's approaches. is that what you're saying?

      "Regarding Chazal and science, Tosafos (Chulin 57b), Rashba (Teshuvah Vol I 98) and Ran (Drashos, #5 2nd version) are quite clear that questioning Chazal's definitive teachings as they pertain to realia is heretical"

      Can you be a little more precise in your quotations. For Tosfos, I take it you are referring to D"H "izzil". For the Ran, here's a Sefaria link that divides #5 into paragraphs. can you indicate which paragraph?
      https://www.sefaria.org/Darashos_HaRan.5?lang=bi
      And can you do the same for teshuvot ha'Rashba

      Furthermore, the gemara in question from bava batra is not at all concerning "Chazal's definitive teachings as they pertain to realia" and is relating to allegorical matters. The Rambam says clearly that chazal is often only understood if their statements are seen as allegorical (I can provide for you the exact quote if you'd like)



      Lastly, if there are clearly verses in the Torah that "mainstream" chazal tell us not to take literally (e.g. Reuven sleeping with Bilhah, us being in Egypt for 430 years) then how does it make sense that when it comes to other matters, they have to 100% be taken literally?

      Delete
    36. @RNDS:
      "There's nothing non-definitive about either of their statements."

      You miss the point. The fact that Rebbi in Pesachim took issue with Chachmei Yisroel makes their definitive statements non-definitive statements of Chazal *as far as we are concerned*.

      Rabbenu Avraham ben HaRambam when a giant step further and declared that even statements of Chazal that are not disputed anywhere and were decided definitively upon in the Talmud can be wrong. He cannot use this Gemara in Pesachim as his basis since it is one member of Chazal disputing another member(s).

      Delete
    37. You miss the point. If Chazal could be wrong about where the sun goes at night (even though this is something very basic, that they even thought could be derived from the Torah), then why couldn't they be wrong about other things (which are arcane and which cannot be derived from Torah)?

      Delete
    38. Sorry for the delay in responding:
      To RDNS on June 30:
      1) I think you just conceded my original point that "Rambam, who is the only mainstream source quoted in favor of allegorization is far from clear on the matter since this not found anywhere in his actual explanation of Bereishis."
      2) Yes they did. (Two can play at this game...)
      3) There is also nothing non-definitive about Rava's statement of ייאוש שלא מדעת הוי ייאוש, but Rava was still refuted at the conclusion of the discussion. Sometimes, the discussion of a certain topic spans many places in the Talmud and a definitive sounding statement in one place is disputed in another.

      To Chaim:
      Yes I was there. I had significant contacts in Aish Hatorah and Ohr Someach throughout the 1990's and was directly involved in campus kiruv at Hebrew University. My finger was firmly on the pulse of the kiruv world and the way they handled Torah and Science at the time RDNS came one the scene.

      To N8ZL:
      All your questions are valid and deserve much more than a comment on a blog. Rabbi Moshe Meiselman devoted numerous chapters in addressing your points in his book, "Torah Chazal, and Science.
      https://www.israelbookshoppublications.com/store/pc/Torah-Chazal-Science-p811.htm

      Additionally, there is a blog with important rebuttals to many of the published and online criticisms raised after the book was published:
      slifkinchallenge.blogspot.com

      Delete
    39. You still failed to address my point. If Chazal could be wrong about where the sun goes at night (even though this is something very basic, that they even thought could be derived from the Torah), then why couldn't they be wrong about other things (which are arcane and which cannot be derived from Torah)?

      Delete
    40. True rationalist JudaismJuly 2, 2019 at 2:46 PM

      Natan, you're a total idiot and fool if your entire ideology and anti-chazal platform comes from one gemarah. This is your mantra same old Chazak didn't know this Chazak didn't know that..
      If you think that you can define chazal from one statement that they made then you are a total idiot.

      Delete
    41. Your statement "if Chazal can be wrong" reveals that you didn't understand my reference to Rava's logic being refuted.
      I'l explain:
      Just because Chachmei Yisroel in Pesachim 94 could have been wrong in a specific instance doesn't mean the definitive statements of "Chazal" which represent the final conclusions of Torah Shebaal peh could be wrong.

      According to your reasoning, since Rava (and numerous individual tana'im and amora'im) were shown to have made logical fallacies in the course of talmudic discussions, doesn't that mean we have the license to discover other flaws in their logic today--and declare they were wrong?

      I guess if you claim to follow the position attributed to Rabbeinu Avrohom ben Harambam, you will have to be consistent and say we do have that license, and then every single conclusion of the talmud can be wrong.

      And you wonder why your books were considered heretical?

      Delete
    42. I had significant contacts in Aish Hatorah and Ohr Someach

      Did Rabbi David Gottlieb of Ohr Someach ever share the email he sent to RDNS with you?

      Did Rabbi Yitzchock Berkovitz formerly of Aish Hatorah ever share with you the story about when the Zealots took Aish to Bais Din for explaining Bereishis in a novel way and how the B"D ruled?

      Did the Aish people share with you which Godol was consulted about teaching Dr. Goldfinger(?)'s approach to Maaseh Bereishis and what his initial concerns were? And under which conditions it was forbidden to teach it to Yeshivah boys and under which conditions it was permitted?

      Delete
    43. @just sayin

      Hey. Thanks for the link to blogspot.com.
      There are dozens (hundreds?) of different articles. Which ones are you referring to that would address my above points.? I would love to read them.

      Sure, I can go ahead and read R Meiselman's book. One quote of his book says "All of Chazal’s (the Talmudic sages') definitive statements are to be taken as absolute fact [even] outside the realm of halakhah (Jewish law)"
      This is an extreme statement and is far from normative (have you or have you not read Rambam's introduction to perek chelek?). How do I trust an author who makes a comment like that?
      Then there's his statements about the holocaust, Israeli army, modern orthodoxy, his yeshiva's stance about YU...

      Then there's the major issue of bias, that anyone should always be asking themselves when trying to learn.
      Answer me this: do you consider yourself charedi? It's ok if you do; I have nothing against it. I don't consider myself charedi (I definitely had the chance to adopt it as my belief system) but I had and have close contact to charedi institutions and definitely know the charedi mindset, which believes that charedi Judaism is the main show in town. They are biased from the get-go. So whenever the whole "Torah and Science" discussion is being addressed, I find that everyone can only refer others to charedi rabbis. Even the blogspot on slifkinchallenge has closed down, but of course he refers you to another charedi guy's blog to learn more about the topic. So, can you refer me to a non-charedi book or Rabbi that has credible stuff on this topic?

      Don't get me wrong, I am not saying I think RNS' stuff is unbiased. I definitely think they are biased. The difference is that his original remarks (from his first book) were certainly not biased nor coming from an underlying desire to preserve charedi Judaism or the rabbis. If anything, his original book was as unbiased as it gets for someone living in charedi society. So even though his current articles are possibly biased, stemming from an emotional response to the ban on his books, his original thought process and beliefs seem to be coming from someone who is in search for the truth. Was R Meiselman's book written out of a sincere desire to get to the truth? I myself just can't answer a definitive "yes" to that question.

      Looking forward!

      Delete
    44. Just because Chachmei Yisroel in Pesachim 94 could have been wrong in a specific instance doesn't mean the definitive statements of "Chazal" which represent the final conclusions of Torah Shebaal peh could be wrong.

      That's exactly what it means. What on earth is your basis for saying that they could not be wrong? Clearly some of Chazal had incorrect beliefs about the natural world, even when they thought that they could derive them from the Torah.

      According to your reasoning, since Rava (and numerous individual tana'im and amora'im) were shown to have made logical fallacies in the course of talmudic discussions, doesn't that mean we have the license to discover other flaws in their logic today--and declare they were wrong?

      You're confusing halachic argumentation with statements about the natural world.

      Delete
    45. Natan, you're a total idiot and fool if your entire ideology and anti-chazal platform comes from one gemarah.

      Actually, you are a total idiot if you think that'm proving it from a single paragraph. There's countless sugyas which demonstrate that Chazal did not have divinely-inspired knowledge about the natural world, and nor did they consider themselves to have such knowledge. This is just the most blatant.

      Delete
    46. True rationalist JudaismJuly 2, 2019 at 10:47 PM

      Actually, Natan in that case your are a total idiot, because there are countless gemarahs that do say just the opposite that chazal did have knowledge of the natural world that was divinely inspired. Take Tana Dbei Rebbe Yishmael in chullin regarding animal signs as one example. You can't take one opinion in the gemarah and pretend the other opinion doesn't exist.

      Delete
    47. To N8ZL:
      Even with all the biases etc, Rabbi Meiselman's book is still the most thorough in presenting the perspective of the lomdei Torah. He takes you through the sugyos in a way that shows the classic methodology of the yeshivah method as it applies to Torah and science conflicts. It was written for people who are interested in how to approach conflicts with science from that classic methodological perspective.
      But even for outsiders to the classic yeshiva perspective (i'm wary of calling it of myself 'chareidi' for fear of tainting it with sociological implications) the book is instructive in understanding why the yeshiva world's reaction to RDNS' books was so visceral and uncompromising.
      Tell you the truth, I really don't understand how after all the work that's been done, people still think the ban was more about preserving 'chareidi' thought control over its ranks than a genuine reaction to what the banners believed to be verifiable heretical red lines being crossed.

      So my final suggestion to you is: get the book, read a section of it at a time and then e-mail the blog author (fkmaniac@gmail.com) for specific questions as you go along. I'm sure he'll direct you to the relevant posts as needed.

      Delete
    48. To RDNS:
      "What on earth is your basis for saying that they could not be wrong?"

      It's not all or nothing. I thought the Maharam Schick you quoted was very clear about the distinction between definitive knowledge from Torah Shebaal peh and mere speculations.
      Why do you keep misrepresenting this position?

      "You're confusing halachic argumentation with statements about the natural world."

      But halachic argumentation uses logic and claims of proof which are subject o disproof-- just like statements about the natural world. If both types of statements of Chazal can be flawed at times, why are you suddenly balking from Rabbenu Avraham's alleged position when he implies we ourselves can determine that either type can be wrong?

      Delete
    49. "Take Tana Dbei Rebbe Yishmael in chullin regarding animal signs as one example."

      Good grief. That's talking about HASHEM'S knowledge, not Chazal's knowledge!

      Delete
    50. True rationalist JudaismJuly 3, 2019 at 7:19 PM

      No! Actually it's referring to chazal's knowledge received from Moses at Sinai. Pull out an atrscroll gemarah and see for yourself. Apparently you're in the business of reinterpreting gamarah as well.

      Delete
    51. " I thought the Maharam Schick you quoted was very clear about the distinction between definitive knowledge from Torah Shebaal peh and mere speculations."

      What does that have to do with anything? Pesachim shows that Chazal's statements about basic science, even when derived from Torah, can be wrong. So why can't they also be wrong about zoological matters?

      "But halachic argumentation uses logic and claims of proof which are subject o disproof-- just like statements about the natural world. If both types of statements of Chazal can be flawed at times, why are you suddenly balking from Rabbenu Avraham's alleged position when he implies we ourselves can determine that either type can be wrong?"

      I personally don't think that it's the same. But if you want to believe that Chazal could make halachic errors too, fine. (But their psak would still be binding.)

      Delete
    52. "No! Actually it's referring to chazal's knowledge received from Moses at Sinai."

      It's a drasha from the word "hu."

      Delete
    53. there are countless gemarahs that do say ... that chazal did have knowledge of the natural world that was divinely inspired

      I didn't hear of too many. Can you provide a sampling of the countless?

      Delete
    54. One can easily argue that had you retracted the books immediately and without the internet firestorm over the ban (which was a complete novelty in it's time and completely unforeseen) which ensued after your resistance, very few people outside Jerusalem would have even known about it.

      The oxymoronic ignorance of simple historic fact is breathtaking.

      Someone from Jerusalem wants people far away from Jerusalem to ignore an unforgettable experience that they themselves experienced and witnessed, and believe his long-distance fabrications?

      And since when aren't pashkevils distributed internationally?

      Delete
    55. It's difficult to accuse me of being ignorant of a historic fact and an unforgettable experience when I'm only describing a hypothetical scenario (which means it didn't actually happen) that I consider likely.

      I'm willing to bet that 90% of people 'far away from Jerusalem' who heard about the ban on RNS' books either read about it online or heard about it from someone who read about it online.
      According to my hypothetical, those people (including this Menachem Karelefsky fellow mentioned in the post) would never have known there was a ban and would not have experienced any crisis of faith.

      Delete
    56. @just sayin

      "Rabbi Meiselman's book is still the most thorough"

      How do you know that? Are there no others like it? And I guess you're not addressing my point of charedi and non-charedi books on the matter?

      "He takes you through the sugyos in a way that shows the classic methodology of the yeshivah method as it applies to Torah and science conflicts."

      Again, if charedi Judaism is most often biased, then how do I know whether or not he is purposely leaving out (or isn't familiar with) many sugyos? And why is the approach that he follows considered "the classic methodology"?

      "It was written for people who are interested in how to approach conflicts with science from that classic methodological perspective... instructive in understanding why the yeshiva world's reaction to RDNS' books was so visceral and uncompromising."

      So basically the book is for charedim who want to bridge the gap of Torah and science, or for people who want to understand why the yeshivah world reacted in the way they did. So in essence... the book is not for me.


      "I really don't understand how after all the work that's been done, people still think the ban was more about preserving 'chareidi' thought control...".

      I agree that I think the ban was about what charedim consider to be heretical, but I think that view came from a poor judgment of what is considered heresy for the overall Jewish world, unless you say it was a ban done specifically for the charedi world, which would either mean that it was indeed "about preserving 'chareidi' thought control over its ranks" or that the charedi leaders truly consider charedi Judaism to be the be-all and end-all of Judaism globally.

      "So my final suggestion to you is: get the book, read a section of it at a time and then e-mail the blog author (fkmaniac@gmail.com) "

      As of now I am not saying no to getting the book (but I will look elsewhere first), but I am definitely not emailing the blog author. I've read one or two of his posts so far (with his comments at the bottom) and he seems extremely narrow minded, shallow tempered, and skirts issues that are brought up to him.

      Delete
    57. I'm willing to bet that 90% of people 'far away from Jerusalem' who heard about the ban on RNS' books either read about it online or heard about it from someone who read about it online.

      You lose. Who used the internet then? Bottom line, the pashkevilles were everywhere.

      Delete
    58. "He takes you through the sugyos in a way that shows the classic methodology of the yeshivah method as it applies to Torah and science conflicts."

      That's hilarious. The "classic methodology" is not to say that all the Rishonim and Acharonim were wrong in the way that they explained various terms in the Gemara!

      (I'm referring to R. Meiselman's claim that Chazal did not believe in spontaneous generation)

      Delete
    59. An ironic thing happened. Someone used multiple names in order to pretend that a plurality of commenters agreed with him; and to recommend himself as if through an impartial outsider. Then the person receiving the recommendation, a fine gentlemen if there ever was one, told the "outsider" that he checked out the recommended item and it was no good. I'll guess that he wouldn't have been so direct in the face of the person himself, he would only say it to an outsider. And he said it honestly and without passion, why be upset with an outsider? So the multiple identity backfired.

      Delete
  4. You can say what you want regarding the impact of the ban but to employ the claim of such a man (evil? sick? crazy? all of the above?) as ANY sort of example is, I think, unreasonable and beneath your intelligence. This is not any kind of emotional response on my part; it is purely logical. I hope you ponder this and it enlightens you to how skewed your thinking sometimes seems to be in regard to the whole sugya of the ban etc.

    ReplyDelete
  5. And i'd like to add that even the preemptive line about how "this does not remotely account for Karelefsky's behavior etc." does not make any room to claim that this incident in any way should "give people pause to reflect upon the effect that the ban had on people" any more than the Gettysburg Address should demand such reflection.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Well said.
    I would add that the struggle isn't really with charedim as much as it is charedi leadership. I have no issue developing my beliefs and sharing them with people in the community - no one really cares. At least thats my experience.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "I've lost count of the number of people who have told me that they left the charedi community as a result, and I know of a few that left religion altogether...People underwent existential crises."

    Another option is to live in the charedi community and keep one's views to one's self(which is what I do). R. Slifkin mentioned this in his 2008 article "In Defense of My Opponents":

    "As for the people in the charedi world who have studied science and grapple with the conflicts, I am deeply sympathetic to their plight, but they will have to accept that if they want to be a part of charedi society and
    reap its benefits, they cannot expect their issues to be legitimized."

    In fact, Prof. Marc Shapiro("Interview by Rabbi Korobkin with Dr. Marc Shapiro", 19:20 in video, online) says that there are a whole group of charedi intellectuals who are his peers and intellectual interlocuters, and who privately appreciate, for example, an intellectual biography such Dr. Shapiro wrote about R. Weinberg.

    I also remember R. Yaakov Horowitz in his article ""Lipa" - Where Do We Go From Here? "(as well as on Zev Brenner radio show)originally mentioned that the Science/Torah ban had reverberations into 2008 in terms of his meeting chareidim troubled by the issue, though he later revised his essay to only focus on Lipa.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Keeping your thoughts to yourself and living in a charedi community only works if you truly don't care what you believe. You basically need to live on autopilot and not think for yourself, because there is no practical way to question charedi practices and beliefs and still live among them and have a fulfilling life. Living among them essentially requires believing the same things they do, because if you question, life will be a living hell for you, especially if you have kids in their schools or want to utilize their shidduch process.

      Delete
    2. Not at all.
      I find myself infinitely more curious than my peers and even my wife. My approach to chazal and science (among other things) is unlike that of my friends and rabbis and I've shared it with them - no-one seems to be so disturbed.

      You write:

      "You basically need to live on autopilot and not think for yourself, because there is no practical way to question charedi practices and beliefs and still live among them"

      This is so untrue. The beliefs one holds in regard to God and torah are between him and God. For one to have emunah, that is it's practical use. It has no real connection to one's relationship with the larger community. Or at least it shouldn't be connected. For example, I have no intention to teach my children that chazal erred in science per se. If they don't ask and don't seem bothered whats the point?

      Delete
    3. What you are saying may be true, but to call Shapiro's work 'an intellectual biography' denigrates the intellect. It is wishful thinking and an attempt to make order out of a chaotic life, in the order that the professor would like to see.

      Delete
    4. Big Mouth: I agree that personal beliefs are between you and God, and that they shouldn't have any relationship with the community as a whole, but it is a fact that charedi communities are built on conformity. If you can successfully avoid becoming a robot or unhappy person, then all the power to you. However, your statement that you don't intent to teach your children that chazal could have erred in science is a charedi belief; if you grow up letting them think that chazal never made a mistake, that shows you agree with charedim enough to feel comfortable living among them. My argument was about people who disagree more or less completely. I don't know how old your kids are or where they go/went to school, but mainstream charedi schools teach theology and ideology from a charedi perspective. If you're comfortable with that, good for you, but I was talking about people who aren't. I wouldn't be comfortable if my kids were taught things I strongly disagreed with, and I wouldn't be able to live in a place where the mainstream thought patterns contradict what I believe.

      Delete
    5. The conformity factor is often spoken of, but not as powerful as people make it on this blogosphere. At least that's been my experience (I come from a haredi light background.)

      Your second point is well put but I really don't agree. I do totally disagree with certain haredi stances, chazal and science among them. I have no moral objection to people believing chazal didnt err, it's fine with me. If my kids and wife believe it, im fine with that too. It's really for my own intellectual satisfaction, nothing more. However, if certain dangerous haredi partylines are showing their face, of course I would object.

      Delete
    6. I speak about conformity from my own experience (I grew up in a charedi environment). Personal expression and opinion might've been slightly more tolerated, but the urge to fit in was very strong. I got out before I got stuck on the typical marriage/kollel path, but my high school/yeshiva years definitely enforced a certain level of conformity.

      Delete
    7. @Not Charedi I'm sorry you had bad experiences that's definitely out there. Didn't grow up in that type of environment at all. My family was highly educated and open minded etc.

      Delete
  8. I know him thoroughly. I live in Pittsburgh.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I agree with "A Yid" that the points developed in this article should not have been linked in any way to the horrible actions of Karelefsky. The points should have been made independently.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Lets not use tragedy to attack opponents. This could be flipped the other way, that he wouldn't have left Judaism if not for your books.

    ReplyDelete
  11. "Unless you've experienced it, you can't imagine what it feels like to be totally delegitimized. You don't know what it's like to have spent years studying Torah, having developed a deep sense of respect for rabbinic authority, a passionate religious commitment, and then to be told - by the embodiment of rabbinic authority, no less - that you're a bad, disrespectful, failure of a Jew. Rav Chaim Shmulevitz writes about how Amalek's hatred for the Jewish People stemmed from his originally being rejected. When you delegitimize someone, there's no telling what effect that will have on them. " Jewish Women

    ReplyDelete
  12. Rav Natan,
    Your conclusion was, "all this should give people pause to reflect upon the effect that the ban had on people. It was an act with enormous repercussions." I agree. But I strongly disagree with your decision to use this incident, the act of a raving lunatic, to make that point. Even with all your qualifications, you chose to make the above point now and in this context. Not a wise decision. One could understand that you are implying that the herem perhaps has a connection to this lunatic's actions.
    Where does this stop? Someone else can claim that your books, having brought about the ban, are the reason this guy became a terrorist/attempted murderer.
    Sometimes it's better not to say anything.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Menachem doesn't use or believe in logic.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I envy you. Noone has bothered vsnning me yet. Rav Riskin famously quipped that if Rav Schach comsidered him in tge same category as the Lubavitcher Rebbe (this eas before the stroke), Rav Lichtenatein and Rav Steinzalz, who was he to argue?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Menachem never had a mind to lose. Truth was dependent on circumstances. I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt and reason with him and was there when he last saw his then close friend our mutual Rebbe Rabbi Max. The next day Menachem was seperated. He felt Rabbi Max was working behind his back to obtain for his wife a divorce.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Menachem did not leave Yidishkeit because of the ban on your books. You could blame any time he didn't get his way eg.threatening to become a Muslim in Chaim Berlin and his son's Bar Mitzvah in Pittsburgh over his objections with his saying in retaliation he will be more cutoff from Judaism.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Menachem left Yiddishkeit because he felt betrayed. Rabbi Max worked behind his back to get his wife a divorce and Menachem was extremely close friends with Rabbi Max up until then when he and his exwife separated.

      Delete
  17. "This was an assault on every religious Jew who accepted modern science."

    Not at all. I am a "Ph.D. Scientist" who became a "religious" aka frum Yid 30 years+ ago. I have most of your early books and have corresponded. There was only an attack on your misplaced ego as sof sof you do not understand the scientific method at all. Sorry for the truth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am a "Ph.D. Scientist" … sof sof you do not understand the scientific method at all.

      How do I as a non-scientist decide to accept that? Is the consensus behind you?

      ---
      Let's say you're right. You're surely aware that countless secular Jews don't see things your way. Is it appropriate to search through Torah sources to find a solution for them even if it isn't scientifically sound?

      ---
      I reread the comment. Is your beef only with the word "every"? But then you write "not at ALL" ….

      Delete
    2. You can read about the scientific method in college science books. 1. Come up with a theory to explain phenomena you notice. 2. Test the theory with experimentation. 3. Repeat the experimentation.

      Example: 1. Theorize that on earth things fall to the ground because of an attraction to the earth. 2. See astronauts and other objects flying in space. 3. Keep doing that.

      Delete
    3. He never said he was a PhD scientist. He is a "Ph.D Scientist". It's like the difference between being a doctor and playing one on TV.

      Delete
    4. @Fred
      Sounds like you're not a "religious Jew who accepted modern science" but "someone who accepted modern science and then became a religious Jew"

      Delete
  18. In any event this all has zero to do with your books being banned.

    ReplyDelete
  19. This post is very misguided:

    1) The individual is a criminally insane lunatic, ואין מביאין ראיה מן השוטים.

    2) Even by his own [deranged] words - tattooed into his arm - his life direction was caused by his allegations against a teacher, not you.

    3) The whole substance of your post could just as easily be turned around against you, i.e., you should stop writing because you might be causing people to lose their faith. [I don't believe that, but it flows directly from your post.]

    4) Your closeness to your own situation causes you to lose perspective. Countless people, from the Rambam down to Dr. Leo Levi and RN Kaminetzky today, have had their books banned. Ands that's without even getting into the Christian world. Its not pleasant, but its part of life in religious publishing. Contrary to the dire apocalyptic tone of this post, the impact of such religious sniping people on the public is quite minimal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Evidently you didn't read the first line of the post.

      >1) The individual is a criminally insane lunatic,

      Which is exactly what I pointed out.

      >2) Even by his own [deranged] words - tattooed into his arm - his life direction was caused by his allegations against a teacher, not you.

      Which is exactly what I said.

      3) The whole substance of your post could just as easily be turned around against you, i.e., you should stop writing because you might be causing people to lose their faith.

      No. First of all, the track record of my books is strengthening faith, not weakening it. Second, weakening someone's faith is not the same as delegitimizing them.

      >4) Your closeness to your own situation causes you to lose perspective.Countless people, from the Rambam down to Dr. Leo Levi and RN Kaminetzky today, have had their books banned.
      Right. But as explained in the post, those had very different effects, because they were different types of bans.

      Delete
    2. Point-by-point refutation attempts may be personally satisfying, but they are not ultimately an effective way of persuading others. It is essentially argumentative, and does not get to the real nub of the issue.

      The real question presented here is: Did it make sense to use this incident, and this event, as a means to draw any inferences towards your story? The answer, I think, is a very clear "no."

      Delete
    3. RNS' reply used the same template as your numbered point-by-point refutation. And his first two "refutations" were actually statements of agreement with you. I think we've discovered the real nub.

      Delete
    4. DF, maybe you could clarify how it is you think debate is properly done? Once we've ruled out arguments and point by point analysis, I mean. Are you picturing guitars and Kumbaya? An asifah?

      Delete
    5. they are not ultimately an effective way of persuading others

      What's this about "persuading"? No one ever persuaded everybody. You say what you think and move on.

      Delete
    6. Israel Coleman - argument is fine, its the attempted point-by-point refutation that fails. It just looks argumentative (which is different than argument.) Someone who wants to persuade someone should stick to one central point or theme.

      Chaim - I was responding to RNS. He certainly wants to persuade, that's the whole point of having a blog.

      Delete
  20. Nathan, don't get too carried away by this mentally unstable individual.
    Got an email from the arsonist about half a year ago.

    "Sex offender alert : I am writing to to the frum world to explain why I left Yiddishkite and converted to Christianity.. I was in an Ohel group home years ago ( I was in foster care too).....Ohel put me in Yeshiva Chaim Berlin ... I became frum in Chaim Berlin and stayed frum for 20 years...I just want to let all frum jews know....The reason why I left Yiddishkite and converted to Christianity is because for years I was sexually molested by rabbi Jonathan Max YEMACH SHMO FOREVER in the Yeshhiva Chaim Berlin dormitory ...The pain was just too much to handle... Now I am healing in church almost every Sunday....Real sad story...But, sexual abuse destroys Jewish Neshomoys .... And there is a long story... And I spoke to Rav A Miller in 1999 durring my engagement and he said it would ruin my marriage if I told ...In fact, he spoke with me for a while and not in the hallway as he normally spoke to others ....
    "יִמַח שׁמוֹ וְזִכְרוֹ שֶׁל רבּיַי מקס מַמָשׁ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He doesn't go to Church. He hasn't gone for years ever since someone in it insulted Rashi. He never believed in Christianity and only converted to annoy the Jews.

      Delete
    2. He also disparaged modern science to his children when he was in Pittsburgh. He did not want them to learn secular studies ideally.

      Delete
  21. When you delegitimize someone, there's no telling what effect that will have on them.
    Is there a line somewhere? Should we legitimize female "rabbis", gay "rabbis", "rabbis" performing gay marriages and intermarriages, etc? By the way, was not Rabbi Eliezer put on herem for not accepting majority view?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Lazar

      I agree there should be a line somewhere and we should not legitimize everyone.
      But what was the point of your R Eliezer reference? Are you quoting it with the understanding of the eventual outcome of that story? If so, then IMHO I think it would work against your point

      Delete
    2. בענין ר"א, אם אין דין סנהדרין היום א"כ המעשה דר"א הוא בגדר אחר לגמרי, והנה אין ב"ד מבטל דברי ב"ד חבירו עד שיגדל ממנו בחכמה ובמנין, ובאשר שכבר הורו זקני דור העבר להתיר דרך הרנ"ס, אין ברור כלל שה"רוב" של הדור האחרון יכול לבטל דעתם. והנה יש לי לחוש שהנכם צעיר לימים ואין לכם ידיעה מדעתם של זקני הדור העבר.

      Delete
  22. Fred what is your email so I can ask some questions on the scientific method ect ?

    Kol tuv
    Z

    ReplyDelete
  23. What the heck is the deal with the Spiderman reference. You've referenced it in the past and it always looks just weird. (It also makes you sound Israeli cause its the kind of cultural reference that was cool 20 years ago but is outdated now.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You sound like a Charedi trying to show off that you 'got' the reference.

      Delete
    2. Did some introspection. I think youre right.

      Delete
  24. Menachem was against his children learning secular studies throughout his years of frumkeit and was not learning anything but Torah and still only does that. He wasn't a fan of science.

    ReplyDelete
  25. With the logic of this article we could use the argument: "Let's blame secular education for what happened since he would not have gone off the derech as he himself says if Chaim Berlin didn't force his kids to learn secular studies and let's say he would not have set a fire if Chaim Berlin didnt force his kids to learn secular studies." His dysfunctional home growing up is what at least started everything off if he wasn't born that way. What he posted about the ban he had told me some years before but after his divorce but it was more of an afterthought. He has become the person he was worried he would become, what he called the other side of him. Both sides have their root in an inability to accept an objective reality. Everything is how he feels he's treated. I wish I could hate him but in essense he betrayed his friends and family despite their caring for him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish I could hate him but in essense he betrayed his friends and family despite their caring for him.

      You're saying that because he betrayed therefore you can't hate him?

      Delete
    2. I'm saying because we were close friends. He had said to me that he has another side to his personality and he didnt want to become that one. I tried my best and so did others but he became his other side.

      Delete
  26. Unfortunately Charedim love to scream out kefira when it involves anything they strongly oppose. My own brother in-law screamed out "kefira" when a family member asked him about the Heter Mechira. They said they never seen him react so violently about anything before. Thats the charedi response. Its all kefira.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If this story is true, all it shows is that your brother-in-law is an idiot.

      Delete
  27. You know, it's not even what you write that turns me off to Chareidi Judaism (and society) the most. It's that even some of the least controversial posts elicit weirdly rabid responses. They almost always are filled with spelling errors, logical fallacies, and fear of individuals freely saying what they think. Who can live in fear of the status quo possibly being rocked all of the time?

    This comment probably will get the inevitable response of, "Oh! Not in my community! We aren't like that at all. That's not my experience with Chareidim." Anyone that can say that after they see individuals like that say what they truly think online is in denial.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anyone posting here is not "mainstream chareidim" rather - those who straddle the modern world and the chareidi one. The conclusion that you draw is not based the facts on the ground.

      Delete
  28. it's not an opposition to modern science, it's an opposition to the theory of evolution which is not modern science, it's science fiction

    ReplyDelete

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