Sunday, April 26, 2020

On Respecting the Charedi Gedolim

In my previous post, I responded to Rabbi Avi Shafran's claim that I should have accepted the Gedolim's ban on my books. Following my response, I received an email from a prominent person involved with Agudath Israel saying that I "missed the point" of the article, which was that I should have "respected" the Gedolim. I replied as follows:

What is "disrespect"? Issuing personal insults? In my defense against the ban, I was perfectly respectful. The only incidences of such disrespect occurred from the other side - Rabbi Reuven Schmelzer (the Gedolim's "man on the ground") writing to them that I am an "animal" and a "rasha," Rav Moshe Shapiro saying that Rav Hirsch is "not from our Beis HaMidrash" and that his approach can therefore be deemed heretical, Rav Shlomo Miller comparing me to the wicked son of the haggadah and putting me in the category of child abusers, Rav Mattisyahu Salomon's insults of me and my rabbonim at the Siyum HaShas as being "midgets" that are desecrating the emunah for which the Shoah victims died, Rav Aharon Shechter's insults from the pulpit in Teaneck of people who try to grapple with resolving conflicts between Breishis and science, Rabbi Moshe Meiselman issuing slanderous fabrications about my being thrown out of yeshivah, etc., etc.

Unless, by disrespect, you mean the very act of arguing against their positions and disputing their claims to have authority. In other words, you are claiming that I was obligated to meekly accept their condemnation of my approach as being heretical and withdraw my books from publication, and I was not entitled to defend my work and my right to continue publishing it. In which case, my previous post was exactly on point.

Perhaps you'd like to clarify what exactly you mean by "respect." Respect the ban, or respect the Gedolim - and if the latter, respect them as what? Respect them as experts on Talmud (indeed, and I never did otherwise), or as experts on science (surely not)? Respect them as experts on rabbinic perspectives on science? Surely not - they were entirely unfamiliar with the history of rabbinic discussion on these topics and presumed that my sources were forgeries. Respect them as my leaders? But they're not; even though I was charedi back then, my own rabbonim insisted that I defend my works and that the Gedolim are not my leaders. Respect them as paragons of wisdom and professionalism in their leadership responsibilities? Surely not - most of them didn't even read my books, let alone speak with me or my rabbonim, and relied entirely on the most scurrilous zealots for their information about both the content of my books and their effects, and/or issued opinions on matters that were far beyond their areas of expertise, and/or confused their own personal theological approach with being the universal unequivocal approach of traditional Judaism, and issued their supposed wise and learned decision in the form of a hysterical condemnation and ban rather than a reasoned, evidence-based set of arguments. The widespread disrespect that resulted was entirely predictable and entirely on their own shoulders.

And where is their, and your, respect for the rabbonim who actually read my books and actually understand these topics and approved my work and urged me not to back down? Aren't they worthy of respect? And what about the Rambam, Rabbeinu Avraham ben HaRambam, Rav Hirsch, Rav Herzog, and many others whom the Gedolim deemed as presenting approaches that fundamentally pervert Judaism - are they not worthy of respect?

(And for that matter, isn't the modern scientific enterprise, currently saving thousands of our brethren from coronavirus, and for which demonstrating the existence of an age of dinosaurs and the non-existence of spontaneous generation is among the most basic of its achievements, also important to respect? We have seen the lethal consequences of charedim failing to respect the modern scientific enterprise.)

And if you're talking about respect for the general leadership of the chareidi Gedolim, well, has that really been worthy of respect? Whether its leading the chareidi community (and eventually all Israel) to economic ruin by prohibiting secular education and discouraging working for a living, or leading public protests against sharing any responsibility for militarily defending Israel, or not stepping up and implementing responsible leadership regarding child abuse, vaccinations, and coronavirus, or supporting known scoundrels such as Yona Metzger, Leib Tropper, Eliezer Berland, and Elior Chen, or practicing a system of authority which has zero transparency, professionalism, or accountability, the charedi Gedolim have failed to earn respect.

Rabbi Shafran claims that those rated as Gedolei Torah, although theoretically fallible, in practice may never actually even be disputed, let alone criticized. But it's not up to me, or anyone else, to grant respect where it is not earned. Or, to borrow Chazal's phraseology: "Where there is desecration of God's Name, one does not apportion respect to a Rav."

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90 comments:

  1. I think what we're all wondering is if you have managed to burn all your books yet

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  2. You are a very haughty person.

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    1. A haughty person thinks that *he* is special. I don't think that I'm special at all. There's endless people just like me. I think that a particular other group of people is not as special as they are made out to be.

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    2. My son also makes great effort to always make sure his sister isn't deemed more special than she actually is. The therapist said it's due to either childhood trauma, insecurity or lack of self esteem (or a combination thereof)

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  3. Oh yeah, and the part where he makes fun of the pope. Very cute.

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. I believe that shafran is a paid PR guy for the agudah (or used to be) why would you even take him seriously. He's got bills to pay.
    Wasn't he the one who deemed rabbi Jonathan Sachs uncouth and unjewish in that silly condemnation?

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  6. I agree with virtually everything that the rabbi wrote. The chareidi community (but of course not all) generally dislikes rationalism, modernity, and humanism. With this line of thinking, it is no surprise that they would unequivocally agree to ban the books [for no good reason].

    Why, then, should rational Jews respect the ban on these books? Wasn't the Rambam's Guide initially burned and also banned for similar reasons? That is to say, that the book held controversial, often radical views that slightly differed with traditional Judaism at the time. When Jews respected the burnings of the Guide it resulted in the tragic, public burnings of the Talmud.

    I cannot stress enough that people need to read the book fully in order to draw intelligent conclusions. It does not suffice to glean information from a second-hand source, as many of the Gedolim did with respect to your books. One needs to read the full book for himself to understand its content and what's the author is trying to convey.

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  7. Why I hate this blogApril 27, 2020 at 10:44 AM

    Of course you have a right to not accept the authority of the Charedi Gedolim, provided that you leave the community, as you did.

    You do NOT have the right to speak with anything but the greatest reverence toward Chazal, with far more awe than you would about your parents. That means not joining - or even lending credence to - the sensationalist iconoclasts who seem to revel in exposing their errors. You failed in that regard.

    You do NOT have the right to assert that the ideas you espouse are compatible with Orthodoxy. You do NOT have the right to assert that you follow Rambam or any other rationalist Rishonim. The ideas you espouse here are simply your own musings.

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    1. Once more, with feeling:

      Saying that Chazal did not know science well is not bad. For those who follow that position, having great reverence Chazal remains easy. They remain giants in Torah and in history, in leadership and in scholarship.

      Those who disagree with that position, who feel that saying Chazal knew everything, are STUCK with feeling like they are belittling Chazal if they say that modern science was not known. But now we have different questions, such as why Chazal didn't cure cancer or invent the telephone to help kiddush haChodesh or invent gunpowder to fight the Romans? We are forced to say that they hid their knowledge or kinda sorta didn't really know. So now who has trouble with the greatest of reverence?

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    2. There is a right to free speech, so I think RNS does have a right to say what he believes. Or maybe there is no free speech in Israel?

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    3. To Mr. Yosef R
      "They remain giants in Torah and in history, in leadership and in scholarship." Do you think that Slifkin thinks that "they [were] giants...in history?" Do YOU even think that?

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    4. You might want to check this quote from Rabbi Shafran:

      "Judaism has no equivalent to the Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility. There is an entire tractate of the Talmud, Horiut, predicated on the assumption that even members of the ancient Sanhedrin were capable of erring, even in halachic matters."

      Even in halakhic decisions! Let alone science. Maimonides had this to say about Chazal and science:

      "Do not ask of me to show that everything they have said regarding astronomical matters conforms to the way things really are. For at that time, mathematics was imperfect." (Guide, 3:14)

      According to the Rambam, the talmudic rabbis were not experts in science, working only with the primitive science of their day, and as a result, were frequently wrong. Thus, it is no surprise that they were in error in matters of science.

      Make no mistake, Rambam throughout his Guide points to scientific errors in the Talmud. Unlike you, and many others, Maimonides did not wish to sacrifice his intellectual honesty to save the credibility of Chazal in regards to science. Is it belittling Chazal to present the facts? Perhaps not. In any event, Ben Shapiro would say that "facts don't care about your feelings."

      It seems like your stuck. Either way, Chazal could be mistaken, whether its science or halakhic decisions. But it is no surprise since Chazal were only men. In contrast, G-d, who is all-knowing and all-powerful, cannot make a mistake. Since God is perfect, it is impossible that G-d should err. Nevertheless, it seems like your preference is to place men in a god-like status. In which case, I'll refer you to Joseph, “Ha’tachat Elohim ani—Am I in the place of G-d?” (Genesis 50:19).

      Yes, it is your right to live in blind faith and respect the charedi leadership, who lacked responsibility in terms of coronavirus. It is NOT you right to preach and tell people what to believe. You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

      As the Rambam so wisely quotes, "A fool believes everything" (Prov. 14:15).

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    5. The rishonim were not expert in two things that I am aware of. Anatomy especially of a woman which makes a difference to hilchos nidda. There are at least six different views in the rishonim, there are not that many different women so five are definitely wrong,(as it happens they all are). And they also make mistakes in geography.
      and geography.

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    6. Sammy, sorry for any misunderstanding - I meant not that they were historical scholars (though they clearly knew SOMEthing of the the periods that came before them), I meant that they were great men who happened to live at that point in history. Yes, they would be great men had they lived now also, obviously. It is an unwieldy turn of phrase and I tried to cram it all in to one poetic sentence even at the cost of the actual parallelism of the wording. Eh, can't win 'em all.

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    7. "You do NOT have the right to speak with anything but the greatest reverence toward Chazal, with far more awe than you would about your parents."
      Does one have the right to say that Rishonim had a view of Torah that was fundamentally flawed and corrupt?

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  8. You do NOT have the right to speak with anything but the greatest reverence toward Chazal, with far more awe than you would about your parents.

    Is that in the Charedi Torah? I remember Kibud Av v'Eim. I don't remember Kibud CHaZaL.

    It seems like the reason you hate this blog is because it makes you feel uncomfortable. People who hate things they are uncomfortable with are usually called bigots.

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    1. Um actually "you have a right to not accept the authority of the Charedi Gedolim, provided..." goes against the charedi torah, so the comment was a contradiction within itself. Nice to know that @whyihate.. has a monopoly on deciding what people do and don't have the "right" to do.

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    2. That is honestly a very unlucky example that you chose :) we literally learn out the obligation to honor chazal from a similar posuk to honoring parents - see bava kama 41b. מורא רבך כמורה שמים...

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    3. we literally learn out the obligation to honor chazal from a similar posuk to honoring parents

      First, it's only a drasha. Second, two claims were made:

      1) that there's a requirement to revere CHaZaL.
      2) that the requirement is to hold more awe for them than ones own parents.

      In response:

      1) Reverence (kibud) is not the same as awe (mora'a).
      2) One can hardly claim that the drasha can impose a greater requirement than its source.

      Face it, Why I hate... is just giving the standard Haredi line, without any acknowledgement that it's a Haredi minhag, and not an actual Halacha.

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    4. Why I hate this blogApril 28, 2020 at 2:27 PM

      It's hard to have a sensible conversation with someone who seriously advances a claim that an Apikores loses his share in the World to Come (and in the olden days - according to some Rishonim - those who would disrespect the Torah scholars would get bumped off; see Shach YD 158:6) but who says it forbidden. But I'll try anyway - if not for you, for others.


      I hope Shulchan Aruch is a halachic enough source for you:

      שולחן ערוך יורה דעה הלכות כבוד רבו ותלמיד חכם סימן רמב סעיף א
      חייב אדם בכבוד רבו ויראתו יותר מבשל אביו.

      And now you'll say - that's your rebbe, not Chazal. So again, I hope Hasagos HaRamban is a halachic enough source for you (he is discussing why someone who treated netilas yadayim lightly was put into nidui - Berachos 19a):

      השגות הרמב"ן לספר המצוות לרמב"ם שורש א
      והנה זה לא קבל עליו גזרה שגזרו בידים לחולין ולא נתחייב אלא בנדוי והוא על כבוד הרב כלומר על כבוד הסנהדרין בעלי התקנה

      This means that for disrespecting Chazal you get put into nidui because it is a form of disrespecting your Rebbe.

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    5. And now you'll say - that's your rebbe, not Chazal.

      Absolutely. After all, the נושא כלים all point out that this is because his Rav brings him to Olam Habba. CHaZaL do not.


      This means that for disrespecting Chazal you get put into nidui because it is a form of disrespecting your Rebbe.


      That's disrespecting their authority to define Halacha. It is a machlokes whether one has to respect their claims in extra-halachic matters, and Rabbi Slifkin follows the Rambam who stated that one need not do so.

      *By respect we mean follow them or accept them as correct. One should never disrespect any of CHaZaL as people.

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    6. Avi, you are simply mistaken on this. According to Rambam (Teshuva 3:8) - מכחיש מגידיה is referring to Chazal.

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    7. Why I hate this blogApril 28, 2020 at 9:54 PM

      A Gadol HaDor from whom one learned something has the exact same halachah as a Rav Muvhak according to all opinions. Chazal are no less than that and actually more than that since they unquestionably have the law of a Talmid Chacham with regard to laws of Kavod.

      Now here's a question: What would you think of a brother who seems to revel in exposing all of your parents' errors, writing one article after another about things they got wrong. Is that respectful of them as people?

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    8. "Now here's a question: What would you think of a brother who seems to revel in exposing all of your parents' errors, writing one article after another about things they got wrong. Is that respectful of them as people?"

      If my brother believed that my parents are infallible and are making bad, destructive life choices because of it, and if my parents themselves would think my brother is crazy for taking them so seriously because they themselves acknowledge their fallibility, then yes I would write to my brother every day whole books proving that his parents are human just like everybody else.

      Same goes with Chazal. Chazal did not consider themselves infallible. If they knew mainstream Orthodox culture developed how it developed today -- basically rabbi worship -- they would be appalled. Hundreds of thousands of Jews believe the Sages of Mishnah/Gemara and even Rishonim could not have made any errors of any kind on any subject. And this belief comes with a very destructive worldview, causing a lot of bad choices be made by the orthodox, on an individual level and a societal level. So yes, it is a worthwhile investment to write articles and books to respectfully demonstrate the Sages' fallibility, especially when it's their own admitted fallibility, if it can potentially bring some fanatic Chazal worshipers back to their senses and can help them develop a true, meaningful, coherent worldview.

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    9. Why I hate this blogApril 29, 2020 at 9:12 AM

      If you would write books like that without counterbalancing them with manifold more comments on how much you revere and respect their authority and rulings; their personalities; highlighting the respect they had among their peers, contemporaries, and even non-Jewish monarchs; the endless effort one must invest to try and understand their words; and YOURSELF being a PARAGON of such awe and reverence for them and their words, then it both amounts to disrespect of them, and your book is at best worthless to the other brother who excels at all the above, both because you're not a man de'amar and because history has shown what happens to those who play around with respecting Chazal. As a small example, somewhere along the line they often end up denying the value of those who study Torah, and thus being labeled as Apikorsim, as laid out so eloquently by Rabbeinu Yonah (based on Gemara Sanhedrin) that I cited elsewhere on this thread.

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    10. Avi, you are simply mistaken on this. According to Rambam (Teshuva 3:8) - מכחיש מגידיה is referring to Chazal.

      And according to what I can find, that refers to denying Torah Shel Ba'al Peh, which has nothing to do with respect to CHaZaL themselves.

      A Gadol HaDor from whom one learned something has the exact same halachah as a Rav Muvhak according to all opinions.

      Funny how none of the נושא כלים mention that. Did you get that from a self-serving Charedi Rabbi? In fact, I can't recall "Gadol Hador" being a Halachic concept at all. And it's been a really, really long time since we've had someone who would be considered as such by most, never mind, all Jews.

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    11. Why I hate this blogApril 29, 2020 at 11:29 AM

      So let me refresh your memory:

      שולחן ערוך יורה דעה הלכות כבוד רבו ותלמיד חכם סימן רמד סעיף י

      אם הוא מופלג בחכמה, אפילו אינו רבו, דינו כרבו מובהק. (מי שהוא גדול הדור ומפורסם בדורו בכך, נקרא מופלג בחכמה). (ת"ה סימן קל"ח ותוס').

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    12. אם הוא מופלג בחכמה, אפילו אינו רבו, דינו כרבו מובהק. (מי שהוא גדול הדור ומפורסם בדורו בכך, נקרא מופלג בחכמה). (ת"ה סימן קל"ח ותוס').


      So no one alive today qualifies. And who exactly gets to decide who does? The tiny portion of Jews who are Charedim? Or the majority who wouldn't recognize a volume of Talmud if they were hit over the head with one? Or maybe the Chassidim, who each have their own Rebbe? Have you asked the Sefaradim if RCK means anything to them?

      This is the problem with these Halachos and definitions. Jews haven't been united on these matters in ages. If they ever were.

      And for the record, there are great many Jews who don't think people especially knowledgeable in Torah are Gedolim. That's kind of a major point of Rabbi Slifkin's disagreements with Charedism.

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    13. סימן רמד סעיף י

      Context matters.

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    14. No, Avi. מכחיש מגידיה means denying the authority and authenticity of Chazal as personal embodiments and paradigms of their own teachings.

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    15. No it doesn't. Look up the original source.

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    16. כמה טפשאי שאר אינשי דמקמי ספר תורה קיימי ולט קיימי קמי גברא רבא. שהרי התורה אמרה 'ארבעים יכנו' ואתו רבנן ובצרי חדא - מכות כ'ב

      This is one source of the Rambam. I know that it is pointless arguing with you, R Slifkin, but you and Avi are simply wrong on this matter (and I know that you can come back with a sharper line, as well....)

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    17. I have not been following this comment thread so I don't know what you mean. Of course we have to respect Chazal. But Makchish Maggideha does not refer to saying that Chazal erred - Rambam did this himself. Rambam used this term in a very limited sense - to those such as Tzaddok and Baytus who denied the very fundamental nature of the Oral Torah.

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    18. No one here is discussing whether Chazal erred. The issue is whether one can personally disparage and critique the opinions and character of the Sages. It is not limited at all - criticizing the Sages is equal to criticizing the Torah itself, and certainly not as you define it. Rambam here does not explain much, but details this at length in Avos 1,on the Mishne of Antigones.

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    19. Well I'm not sure what exactly you are referring to, but Rambam himself certainly disparaged certain opinions of the Sages, such as astrology.

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    20. If you want to understand the Rambam's position on Tzaddpk and Bytus, which is his paradigm of מכחיש מגידיה, he explains it in the Peirush HaMishna on Avos. They disparage Chazal.

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    21. They rejected the Torah shebaal Peh *in its entirety."
      המכחיש לכל הקבלה מכל וכל כגון צדוק ובייתוס

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    22. Their rejection begins with the statement of Antigones regarding serving G-d without hope of reward. They don't recognize that the sages would do things merely because they are essentially true and just. It is their reduction of the sages to tbis materialistic and instrumental level, where Torah and Mitzvos can only be adopted if one submits to an outside impetus and promise of reward that is the basis of their Kefira.
      Look, this is really not the forum for this type of discussion, but just a place to throw silly one-liners and explain why everyone else is stupid and we all hate each other - but study that Rambam well.

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    23. I hope that Rabbi Slifkin can see the IP addresses of those leaving comments and can tell us whether certain personae here are sockpuppeting or not.

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  9. Why I hate this blogApril 27, 2020 at 3:39 PM

    ספר שערי תשובה לרבינו יונה שער ג
    קנה וענין האפיקורס פירשו בו רבותינו זכרונם לברכה (סנהדרין צט, ב): כי הוא האיש אשר איננו נוהג בדרך מורא והדר בתלמידי חכמים אף על פי שאינו מבזה אותם, כגון שהוא מבזה חבירו בפני תלמיד חכם ולא שם כבוד לתורת החכם, כי אחרי שאין התורה הדורה בעיניו לנהוג בה דרך כבוד אין לו חלק לעולם הבא, כי גם זה במחללי התורה יחשב. על כן אמרו רבותינו זכרונם לברכה (פסחים כב, ב): "את ה' אלקיך תירא" (דברים ו, יג) לרבות תלמידי חכמים.

    קנו והשנית - כי היראה מהם סבה ליראת שמים, כי בהיות דבריהם נשמעים מדרך יראתם הלא הם יורו וידריכו את העם ליראה את השם הנכבד והנורא. ונאמר (שמואל א יב, יח): "ויירא כל העם מאד את ה' ואת שמואל". וכן בכלל האפיקורס - האומר: מה הועילו לנו הלומדים בלמודם? היש דבר שיאמר ראה זה חדש הוא? מעולם לא התירו לנו את כל עורב ולא אסרו לנו בני יונה! ואלה האנשים גם לא שמעו גם לא ידעו גם לא פתחה אזנם על התועלות הנמצאות בעסק התורה, ובעבור זאת עסק התורה שפל בעיניהם, והמה היו במורדי אור מעלתה, ואין להם חלק לעולם הבא. על כן נתחייבנו ללמד לבני יהודה התועלות הנמצאות בעסק התורה, וכתבנו מקצתם בשער התורה בעזרת השם, למען יכספו הלבבות לתורה, ואשר אין כח בהם ללמוד ידעו הדר כבוד עסק התורה ויזכו בידיעתו, ולא תאבד נפשם מן העולם הבא.

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    1. Since he's not saying what you said, I'm going to go with "it's the Torah of Why I hate this blog," and can safely be ignored by Jews who follow Toras Moshe.

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    2. And here's one for your favorite "gedolim":

      אַבְטַלְיוֹן אוֹמֵר, חֲכָמִים, הִזָּהֲרוּ בְדִבְרֵיכֶם, שֶׁמָּא תָחוּבוּ חוֹבַת גָּלוּת וְתִגְלוּ לִמְקוֹם מַיִם הָרָעִים, וְיִשְׁתּוּ הַתַּלְמִידִים הַבָּאִים אַחֲרֵיכֶם וְיָמוּתוּ, וְנִמְצָא שֵׁם שָׁמַיִם מִתְחַלֵּל:

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  10. Avi: I don't understand. The citation from Rabbeinu Yonah is clear and concise, and it seems that the accusation and reproach of Mr. "Why I hate this blog" is accurate and justified.

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    1. He didn't quote from a Halacha Sefer. And R"Y does not state that one's awe must be greater for CHaZaL than for ones own parents. And can you point to an actual source which states that being an Apikorus is itself a violation of Halacha? And awe and reverence are not the same.

      So no, R"Y does not make the claims that "Why I hate..." made.

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    2. Avi,

      Elisha Acher could not get into gehenom because he was an apikorus. And then when he did get in he was there for a long time even though even r'sha'im usually only get a ma of one year.

      I never heard of anyone getting gehenom for doing the right thing.

      Perhaps transgressing any "lo ta'aseh" is not really a violation of halachah either, it's just not following the good eytzah or HaShem. Oh, wait. I think it's Reform that says the mitzvot are just guidelines but not obligatory - sorry, my mistake.

      I think you can find the issurim yourself. You can start with looking in the Mishneh Torah. If you can't find it, you shouldn't be commenting on halachah.


      And as for your earlier comment, Avi, where you said that he didn't quote from a halachah sefer: If you meant that Shaarey Tshuvah is not a halachah sefer you are very mistaken. He says halachot all over the place. There is a halachic definition of who is an apikorus, a min, etc. etc. And one of the thins R"Y mentions in that quote is: ענין האפיקורס פירשו בו רבותינו זכרונם לברכה (סנהדרין צט, ב) כי הוא" and he proceeds to give (at least part of) a halachic definition of an apikorus.

      Delete
    3. There are lots of things which have Halachic definitions, but which are not in-and-of-themselves forbidden to be. A trivial example is a mamzer. There are many opinions for what makes one an apikoros. Many of those opinions claim that lack of belief in Hashem is one such stance which makes one an apikoros. However, it is not against any Halacha to not believe in Hashem. Thus, it seems clear that one could be an apikoros without violating Halacha.

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    4. Avi, without getting into the finer points of what precisely you refer to as 'believe in Hashem'- this is the first Mitzva in Sefer HaMitzvos, so of course it is an obligatory halacha.

      Delete
    5. Avi, without getting into the finer points of what precisely you refer to as 'believe in Hashem'- this is the first Mitzva in Sefer HaMitzvos, so of course it is an obligatory halacha.

      Modern scholars of Rambam's writings believe that the translation for the first Mitzva is incorrect, and should read "to know", not "to believe". The Ramban also does not list belief in Hashem as a Mitzvah.

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    6. Avi, you seem to have just a superficial understanding of these matters, or get your information only from 'scholars'. Translating emunah any way you wish, or finding a different word doesn't change anything here. Perhaps you should go back and study well the Hasagos HaRamban on the first Mitzva. It is the Baal Halachos who doesn't count this as a mitzva, but not because it is not obligatory, but merely because belief is a prerequisite for all the commandments.

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    7. Walt
      "Translate emunah any way you wish." What are you talking about? The question isn't about the word "emunah" but אעתקאד. Did you really not know that?

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    8. It's the idea behind it, not merely the Arabic word in this particular place. There are numerous modern-day sefarim and countless ma'amarim explaining the Rambam's views on faith, belief, aaskad, or whatever term you prefer.. It's not really a matter of much controversy. If you are not familiar, or dont know how to learn well, you can always read the books of Menachem Kellner and then just assume the opposite of whatever he claims.

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    9. Walt
      I was just thrown by your reference to the word "emunah" which is not the discussion. Anyway, regarding Kellner, I find your statement interesting. Can you please reference a few major claims he makes that are totally incorrect?

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  11. I've never understood why some people davka spend time reading your blog so they can be disgusted with what you write. Is this a special form of masochism and self-infliction of pain?

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    Replies
    1. They are desperately lashing out, not just to convince themselves of their own righteousness and self-justify their continued loyalty to "the system" and "the gedolim," but also to prevent others from thinking the way Rabbi Slifkin does because they see it as dangerous to have fewer sheep.

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  12. You should limit your criticism of Charedim to the fundamentals - kollel, engagement with the word and (in Israel) the army. Anything else you (constantly) mention is ticky-tack differences of opinion. It just comes across as small-minded. Red meat for the anti-charedi bigots, perhaps, but not a good strategy for convincing anyone. If anything, they turn me away from your point of view, not towards it.

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  13. NS - I think you need to clarify.
    Do you mean that you have no respect AT ALL for chareidi gedolim? Just those who were involved in the ban? Would that include figures like RSZA, RMF and RYK, who may have reacted the same way if they were living?

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  14. DF, perhaps you don't realize, but the entire edifice of 'rationalist judaism' concocted by Dr. Slifkin exists only as a means to criticize Charedim. This is the fundamental principle of his Torah - all the rest is commentary.

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    1. Your problem is that you have no subtlety. RNS is not criticizing the Harediim as a people. He has no hatred for them. He does not respect their all encompassing philosophy of life which results in the following:
      1. Not participating in national service thus forcing those a greater part of that service on others. That bespeaks a level of selfishness.
      2. Not participating in the economic life of the country which means that the financial burden falls on others. That mans that the Haredim also draw on government social services that could go to others, who do not voluntarily decide to be poor. That too bespeaks a level of selfishness.
      3. Proclaiming that their leaders' expertise, which comes from Torah-based knowledge, trumps all other expertise. This also means that these leaders have an insight on all problems even when they actually have no connection to Torah knowledge. As the COVID-19 crisis has shown this so-called expertise has led to the followers of said leaders to be put at greater health risk in comparison to those who listened to the true experts in this case - the medical authorities. This bespeaks of simple arrogance as well as ignorance.
      So once again it is elements of the Haredi world view / philosophy towards aspects of modern life that RNS rejects as do many who read this blog. You are conflating this rejection to a rejection and even hatred of the people. His philosophy of "rationalist Judaism" is in fact based on an extremeky well-thought-out scientific rationality, combined with deep reading into Jewish sources, backed by experts in Judaism and other fields of knowledge to criticize the Haredi PHILOSOPHY to life and not the Haredim as people. I dare you to find an explicit statement of criticism of hatred the Haredim as PEOPLE on this blog by RNS let alone any of the people who comment on it. You will of course see criticism of the world view / philosophy because as many of the readers of this blog believe this world view is a danger to Israel and its people (which includes the Haredim themselves). And If you find RNS' attitudes so distasteful you can of course go elsewhere for your reading pleasure. There are plenty of blogs where sadly outright hatred to others are explicitly stated.

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    2. UHHMMM...actually I said nothing about RNS hating Charedim, nor anything regarding the long list above. I guess you have been waiting a while to stand on this soapbox.

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    3. I am chareidi and dont agree with your opinion of their philosophy meaning I dont share it. No one claims their 'leaders expertise' in subject they know nothing about. If one is ill one goes to a doctor not to them. A person has to know his limitations and not give an opinion on everything.

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    4. "Your problem is that you have no subtlety." I, for one, cannot tell whether or not Walter has subtlety. What I do know is that he has eyes. That's how he knows that RNS is mainly driven by the need to criticize chareidim.
      "I dare you to find an explicit statement of criticism of hatred the (sic) Hareidim as PEOPLE on this blog..." To paraphrase: "We dont hate YOU as a PERSON! We merely hate what you believe, how you think, what you do, and how you identify!" Subtle indeed.

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    5. Walter, I don't agree the whole edifice of this site was erected to criticize charedim. But if one wishes to promote rationalist Judaism, and if one believes charedim are antithetical to rationalist Judaism, well then the criticism writes itself.

      The problem is one of subtlety, as JD rightly points out. There are huge numbers who think, for example, that the CV19 response of Israel or the US was wrong. Whether they were or weren't is beside the point - its a difference of opinion; both sides can be called rational or, depending how extreme the faith, irrational. But if we include this in the larger issue of "daas torah", then it *does* become a question of rationalism.

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    6. DF: In this case, the creator of this site wanted to criticize, mock and ridicule the Yeshiva world who had rebuked him. Only subsequently did he concoct 'rationalist Judaism' as a means of doing so. It seems that most of his fan club are not talmidei chachamim who can recognize "מי שתולה קרא אילן בבגדו ואומר תכלה הוא". But you seem to be a learned and sincere person, so I assume you understand this allusion.

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    7. Walter - thanks for the kind words. And most certainly I understand the illusion. (I have actually written two seforim and published many Torah articles, in both Hebrew and English.)

      I've been here a long time, probably more than any other commenter. RNS and I have emailed each other. I can attest that his intention in starting this site was NOT to bash or mock charedim. Now, I'm not saying that individual posts are never animated by that feeling - they are, and I have said so when I sensed it. But overall, the blog was established more towards בנין than סתירה. To be precise, it was to promote the views of people like the late R. Aryeh Carmel, who RNS describes as a mentor, all as described in the book Sharei Talmud Torah. (That book, incidentally, which I read thoroughly decades ago as a bachur, was banned by R. Shach, but warmly received by, among others, the Gerrer Rebbe and R. Y. Kamintezky. The latter episode is discussed obliquely in the Artscroll biography of Reb Yaakov.)

      In short, though it clearly slips up at time, the blog was founded על טהרת הקודש

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    8. Its nice that you can judge people favorably.

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  15. to walter: now that I like because there has to be one sane person who declares that the emperor has no clothes. The chareidim have built an edifice on nothing.

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  16. Yes, of course. The thousands upon thousands of Jews who sincerely respect and admire the individuals known as Gedolei Torah are all foolish and brainwashed. Though these Roshei Yeshiva have each been in contact with multitudes of people, for decades, they have fooled everybody. Though many of them are exceedingly humble and modest people, the readers of this blog can see through the sham, though no one else has noticed. This is because nobody in that world thinks, nor is intelligent, though so many spend the best years of their life in study of the Talmud - with diligence, insight and clarity. Wake up, please...

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    1. There is such a thing as too much humility. Signing something because others do is not an indication of leadership.

      Anyway, um, who hasn't noticed? Everyone notices that the Chareidi world is growing yet the money to support it has not. Everyone notices that meshulachim and tzedakah organizations tend to be more to the Right. There have been jokes about being machmir in "V'asafta d'gancha tirosh'cha v'yitzharecha," or "God will provide" - "well, he thinks I'm God" for years.

      Remember, all strawmen argument creators, this blog, Modern ORthodoxy, Rationalist Judaism, etc. is not saying that Gedolim are horrible people who know nothing, but that they should acknowledge that learning Torah does not teach one everything technical that we need to know as a leader. And that perhaps just because the sheer inertia of a social movement might have been carrying it forward for a long time, it may be time to adjust it due to problems with scale or collapsing under its own weight.

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  17. Actually, the Rambam says that those who spend their lives in solitude studying Talmud does not bring a person close to G-d. Jews also need to study philosophy and science, which Charedim sufficiently lacks. To be intelligent means to instil proper and correct thinking habits. Aristotle said that without this a person could not be called appropriately human.

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  18. Yes, Mr.Turkey (do you mind if I call you that?), I understand. Those Charedim who spend their time analyzing each and every Rambam are all far removed from G-d and don't really understand what he has taught. The Jews who go to universities and study philosophy and science, but don't know Mishneh Torah or Talmud are much closer to G-d. Those in Yeshiva are not intelligent and don't think correctly. In fact, according to Aristotle they are not even human, and Rambam praised Aristotle, so according to the Rambam, those learning in Yeshiva are sub-human. And we are all open-minded, tolerant and judge our peers favorably....

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    1. "Analyzing each and every Rambam"? How many charedim do that? Unless you meant specifically Mishneh Torah? (Otherwise, I have no quarrel with your comment; that declaration just jumped out at me is all.)

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    2. Most in yeshiva have never been taught to think and end up only reading daf yomi daily if that. And how many know even how to analyze a rambam let alone do it. Most like lubavich just about read it. At least those who go to university come out with something.There they have proper teachers or pedagogues who dont get the job by being the RYs son or SIL. How many in universities dont attend lectures and then go to BMG and find everyone walks out when the RY comes in.

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    3. I do not think that people who study in yeshiva are sub-humans. I do think that people who isolate themselves from society’s moral deprivation should not be compared with the people who confront it and try to rectify it. This was what the Rambam meant with his parable when he wrote that people who study Talmud, but not philosophy, do not come close to G-d.

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    4. The same way people look around at their Friday night dinner or their Seder and bask in the beautiful setup, the vortlach from the children, and the delicious food, and yet still get it wrong because they have not invited guests (something many of us are guilty of, to be sure), perhaps is the way that those sitting and learning Rambams - with great erudition and understanding - without actually following what he says can be missing the boat.

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  19. Walter,
    You haven’t refuted any of JD’s 10:08 PM comments but you’ve done well validating them with a series tendentious non-sequiturs.
    Indeed, thousands upon thousands of Jews who sincerely respect and admire the individuals known as Gedolei Torah ARE all foolish and brainwashed, the apples don’t fall far from the tree.
    No, although these Roshei Yeshiva have each been in contact with multitudes of people, for decades, they haven’t fooled everybody — not me nor Rav Slifkin nor those whose logical insights refute the deviate theology of Daas Torah.
    Though many of Daas Torah Gedolim are exceedingly humble and modest people, the readers of this blog can see through the sham — but there is no sham, they may be humble and modest but still exceedingly and agonizingly wrong.
    This is because although your world may think or is intelligent — we all think, but intelligence is not synonymous with logical insight and perception, of which many of your so-called Gedolim are severely lacking.
    Though so many spend the best years of their life in study of the Talmud with diligence, insight and clarity — unfortunately their insight and clarity in Talmud do not remediate their terrible malfeasance directed to society in general and their community in particular.
    Wake up, please..., trust me, we have. But it’s unfortunate that we haven’t woken up to your toxic theology a lot sooner.

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  20. there is no doubt that if the Rambam was alive today, he would mock and discard all of aristotles belony non scientific theories. learning philosophy today according to the Rambam is a waste of time.

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    1. Why do you conflate philosophy and natural philosophy? Indeed, I agree that Rambam would embrace modern scientific knowledge. That's because, as Rabbi Slifkin points out over and over, the Rambam did not reject reality in favor of one narrow interpretation of CHaZaL's words, nor a blind belief in their accuracy.

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    2. I'm not so sure that he would abandon philosophy, but rather than Aristotelian metaphysics, He would study physics.
      And biology as well.
      For that is from where the thinking man can best appreciate the intricacy of the created world and HASHEM's greatness.

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    3. There is no doubt that he would embrace modern science. reality, as undestood by science today, would be, for the Rambam, the basis for all commentary and interpretation of the Torah. Any deviation from this reality found in chazal's writting would be rejected or given a new interpretation (where possible). In my eyes' Rabbi Slifkin is a updated version of the Guide. I wish he could expand his scientific interpretation to other fields of The Torah. and chazal.

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    4. Yes, I think he would have accepted modern science over Aristotle's metaphysics. He relied on science. However, I do not think he would abandon the study of philosophy. Although he accepted Aristotle's scientific methodology and rejected Plato's mystical notions, he would today reject much of Aristotle's erroneous beliefs based on false science. But so would Aristotle!

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    5. the study of philosophy us not scientific. what is seemingly logical is not always true. i think that in todays Rambam/scientific perspective, there no real difference between
      the mutkalmim and the philosophers

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  21. I received an email from a prominent person involved with Agudath Israel saying that I "missed the point"


    ...


    Was the email from shafran ?

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  22. Reason from the Talmud for Coronovirus:
    Shabbat: 139aקל״ט א


    תניא רבי יוסי בן אלישע אומר אם ראית דור שצרות רבות באות עליו צא ובדוק בדייני ישראל שכל פורענות שבאה לעולם לא באה אלא בשביל דייני ישראל שנאמר שמעו נא זאת ראשי בית יעקב וקציני בית ישראל המתעבים משפט ואת כל הישרה יעקשו בונה ציון בדמים וירושלים בעולה ראשיה בשוחד ישפוטו וכהניה במחיר יורו ונביאיה בכסף יקסומו ועל ה׳ ישענו וגו׳

    It was taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yosei ben Elisha says: If you see a generation that many troubles are befalling it, go and examine the judges of Israel. Perhaps their sins are the cause, as any calamity that comes to the world comes due to the judges of Israel acting corruptly, as it is stated: “Please hear this, heads of the house of Jacob, and officers of the house of Israel, who abhor justice and pervert all equity, who build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. Their heads they judge for bribes, and their priests teach for hire, and their prophets divine for money; yet they lean upon the Lord, saying: Is not the Lord in our midst? No evil shall befall us” (Micah 3:9–11).


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    1. This is new for you - so you're maskim to Slifkin then?

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    2. In a general way it can also apply to those leading others astray whether in bad advice/direction or causing others to act wrongly such as encouraging Jews to hate other Jews.... Which this blog does a great job at doing.

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    3. "In a general way it can also apply etc."
      That't not what the Gemara says. It says dayanei yisrael - when does that refer to anything but dayanei yisrael? At best you're saying a pshettel. The pashtus of the Gemara would certainly point toward exactly the sort of people Slifkin is himself pointing at.

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  23. As the quote going around the Internet goes:

    Sometimes people use "respect" to mean "treating like a person" and sometimes they use "respect" to mean "treating like an authority".

    And sometimes people who are used to being treated as an authority will say "if you don't respect me I won't respect you" but what they mean is, if you won't treat me like an authority I won't treat you like a person.

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  24. You should have accepted their ban. You aren't part of their system, so it's not fair to keep trying to get into a club that doesn't want to have you as a member.

    ReplyDelete

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