Tuesday, August 3, 2021

From Bais Yaakov to MD, part III

From Bais Yaakov to MD: 

A Post-Charedi Bais Yaakov Graduate Speaks Out 

Guest post by Dr. Efrat Bruck

Part Three (read part one here and part two here)


5. Can you please stop ousting people like Rabbi Dr. Natan Slifkin?

When I was 15 years old, I started reading the books of Rabbi Avigdor Miller. I found them pretty interesting, as he would speak about topics my teachers refused to even acknowledge. The word “evolution” was not mentioned once in my four years of high school, except the story of R’ Yakov Kaminetzky sitting on an airplane next to a gentile and telling him that the reason your children don’t respect you is because you believe that you’re descended from apes so you are one step closer to apes than your descendants. We, Jews, on the other hand, believe in matan Torah and so the older generation deserves our respect because they are closer to that. 

Of course, this story is a complete fabrication, as was verified directly to me by a man married to Rav Yakov Kaminetzky’s granddaughter. He was appalled that people are even able to believe such a story; he knew R’ Yakov very well and said that Rav Yakov would never speak like that to someone. Anyway, Rav Miller’s book were enough for me until at some point, it dawned on me, that it was his life’s mission to make sure no frum Jew believed in evolution. We had just learned in Seminary Rav Dessler’s piece of “negios”, biases, and suddenly it struck me, “Can rabbonim have biases?” 

At some point, I came across Rabbi Nosson Slifkin’s books. This was already after I started taking some college science classes. But then I heard that they were banned. Now I was curious. Why were they banned? I started reading all about it. I wasn’t sure what to do. All the big rabbonim said he was an apikorus. Then again, we also learned about all the great people who, at some point in their lives, were labeled an apikorus. I decided I wouldn’t take a side. I would let the matter percolate.

Once my scientific knowledge solidified a bit (nothing too advanced or drastic, just some basic undergraduate classes), there was no longer a question in my mind about which side I would take. I was happy not to be thrown into some crisis forcing me to choose between the reality in front of me and my faith. While not every question had a perfectly neat answer, Rabbi Dr. Slifkin’s approach gave me permission to continue living a life where my personal observance and career aspirations were neatly synchronized. I didn’t have to think Chazal made ridiculous statements; I could allow them the grace of being limited by the scientific knowledge of their time. By extension, this gave me permission to think that Chazal were not overtly misogynistic; I could look at their statements within the cultural context surrounding them. But the ban. The rabbonim did not agree with all of this. Rabbi Slifkin’s approach was banned precisely for those reasons that were saving my observance and belief. I found myself on the other side of the line without even noticing that I stepped over it.

So here is my question to those of you in the charedi leadership. Did you ever consider this point before? Have you ever stopped to think about how Slifkin’s approach actually helped many people keep their religious observance? Have you ever considered the risk-benefit analysis? Because when you pushed Slifkin out, you pushed me out and countless others. Are you absolutely certain that Slifkin’s approach is so treif that it’s worth alienating all of these constituents?

By the way, a Jewish education that can be collapsed easily by some undergraduate science classes is one that needs a serious overhaul.

6. You need to weigh the risks and benefits of the I-factor.

I’m constantly being asked by colleagues, Jewish and non-Jewish, to explain the difference charedi Jews and other observant Jews. If time is short, I say one of the main characteristics that distinguish charedi Jews from other forms of observance is what I’ve dubbed the I-factor, which stands for Insularity. Much of charedi ideology revolves around the notion that the more isolated you are from society at large, and from Jews who are non-charedi, the better. Of course, there’s an entire spectrum of involvement with the world versus total isolation across charedi society. But it remains a central ideal – something to strive for.  The most revered rabbonim are the ones cloistered away. The ideal lifestyle to strive for is one where the husband is in Kollel and not exposed to anything secular. Business people and professionals are, of course, accepted, but with an undertone that having to work is b’dieved (less so in the US). 

There’s a heavy price paid for this insularity, and I urge you to reconsider if it should so revered. Firstly, there’s no way you can be a “light unto the nations” if you have nothing to do with the nations. Furthermore, when people do venture out into the world, sometimes tremendous damage is done, because they see that many of the things they are taught are not true (see #1 for example). I know – this is the reason you try to keep them in, so that they don’t get “corrupted”. But you have to wonder about a system that tries to keep you in so tightly because it’s so threatened by outside forces. 

I have three friends who applied to medical school around the same time as I did, all from charedi communities, and all religious at the time. Today, I am the only one among the four of us who is observant; I’m fairly certain none of them keep Shabbos. They are each brilliant, talented, and highly driven to help people. I’m friends with all of them and I don’t want anyone reading this to think there is any judgment on my part; that isn’t the point here. But for a community that likes to prevent shedding of its members, this can give you some clues. Isn’t it a shame to have lost all these doctors, soon-to-be leaders in their respective niches?  Among my non-charedi religious friends who went to medical school, every single one left medical school at the exact level of observance with which they entered. Something to think about.


To be continued. If you'd like to subscribe to this blog via email, use the form on the right of the page, or send me an email and I will add you. 

About the Author: Efrat Bruck, MD, graduated from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and is now an anesthesiology resident at the Mount Sinai Hospital. Before medical school, she taught Judaic studies, Hebrew, and Biology to 1000 now-alumni of Be’er Hagolah Institutes, in Brooklyn, NY. Dr. Bruck has worked as a content specialist for Khan Academy and created over 30 MCAT preparation videos on topics in molecular biology, DNA, and genetics that have also recently been translated into foreign languages.  Her videos have been published on the AAMC (American Association of Medical Colleges) website, Khan Academy, and YouTube, accruing millions of views on the latter. Dr. Bruck has published research in Nature, the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, and Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Dr. Bruck founded and leads the JOWMA PreMed Society that aims to advance Jewish women, from all backgrounds, in medicine. Dr. Bruck is a fierce advocate for premed students from insular and underrepresented backgrounds and strives to provide them with the resources and tools necessary to compete. (www.jowma.org/pre-med). She was among two out of 200 graduating MDs, PhDs, and MD/PhDs at Sinai’s recent commencement to be awarded the Patricia Levinson Award for the Advancement and Inclusion of Women in Medicine. Dr. Bruck, along with her colleagues at JOWMA, is also currently in the process of constructing a cultural competency curriculum that will help healthcare professionals in New York City hospitals provide culturally sensitive medical care to Jewish populations across the entire spectrum of Orthodoxy.   

Dr. Bruck’s experiences in education, acceptance to nearly 10 US MD programs, and service on the admissions committee of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have led her to have a highly successful track record helping premeds navigate the medical school application process. She is the founder and CEO of MDInspire, a medical school admissions consultancy that provides professional consulting for fees that are reasonable and a fraction of the standard costs. Dr. Bruck specializes in helping people weave their stories seamlessly through their application, building stellar personal statements and activities sections, interview preparation, and coaching students on how to study smarter, not harder. For more information, please visit: www.MDInspire.com.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not reflect the opinions or positions of JOWMA.


  1. "Among my non-charedi religious friends who went to medical school, every single one left medical school at the exact level of observance with which they entered. Something to think about."

    Can you please provide some more context.

    1. i'm chareidi and leaving medical school with the exact level of observance with which i entered

    2. While I cannot speak for Dr. Bruck's experience, for this aspect, I can agree" all of my Modern Orthodox friends who went into medical school are still MO now that they are physicians, and some are even community leaders in terms of local learning programs, whether creating programs or giving shiurim. I do have one or two friends from more yeshivish families who are doctors and are still generally "more to the right" than the MO folk.

      I have not seen the other side of her setup - the chareidi doctor who goes OTD - but I have not seen really any "true" chareidi/yeshivish/chassid go to medical school at all. AFAIK. I might be wrong.

    3. The No True Yeshivish fallacy. There are plenty of yeshivish doctors. If by yeshivish, you mean people who learned in "yeshivish" yeshivos and kollelim (Is BMG yeshivish enough?) If by yeshivish, you mean in the cosmetic sense (the way the women dress, the way the men dress). If by yeshivish, you mean sending their kids to schools staffed by very yeshivish rebbeim who never stepped foot into college. By all the normal standards of yeshivish, there are plenty of yeshivish doctors.

      If you restrict your definition to people who never pursued secular education, then duh, you won't find any yeshivish doctors.

    4. How about a doctor learning first seder in BMG and opens his office at 2:00 PM! Is that yeshivish enough.

  2. There is somewhat of a survivorship bias in regard to the fact that all non-chareidi friends of yours stayed frum: Coming from such a background, many of the less committed ones go off way earlier, due to the ease of assimilation for them, as they are already acquainted with American culture. Thus, only the ones most committed are the ones who are still frum even before they get into medical school. However, with chareidim, the default is to remain frum, as they are acquainted with nothing else. So even the weaker ones stay frum
    Only once they are exposed to another option do they go off. Thus, it may very well be the opposite - insularity ensures that those who would otherwise go off when exposed do not. Whether it is worth the drawbacks of insularity to me is very debatable.

    Your other point re Rabbi Slifkin is right on target. That is why I am a huge fan of his books. I wish his blog focused more on those issues instead of the chareidi-bashing it seems to be promoting nonstop.

  3. "I have three friends who applied to medical school around the same time as I did, all from charedi communities, and all religious at the time. Today, I am the only one among the four of us who is observant; I’m fairly certain none of them keep Shabbos."

    Very strange. I know many "chareidim" who went to medical school and became doctors, they all remained observant, even "chareidi", and send their kids to "chareidi" schools. (I put chareidim in quotes because I think it's ridiculous to call American Ultra-Orthodox "chareidim". It's akin to calling American MO "Zionists")

    Now, some may invoke the No True Chareidi fallacy, and say that if they received secular education, and went to college, they aren't chareidim. I suspect that this is part of the issue. If Dr. Bruck's friends grew up in the type of society where there is no secular education, and rebelled against that and went to medical school, then they are already selected for risk of going off the derech. So in that case her particular anecdote wouldn't prove anything. All it would prove is that more rebellious kids tend to go off the derech, which we already knew.

    " Are you absolutely certain that Slifkin’s approach is so treif that it’s worth alienating all of these constituents?" This is a good and serious question. Anecdotally, I know many "chareidi" rabbis who are fine with certain elements of the approach. But if I were in charge, I would have banned him anyways.

    "By the way, a Jewish education that can be collapsed easily by some undergraduate science classes is one that needs a serious overhaul." The truth is there are far more serious questions on Judaism that existed long before science (as it is now) was even invented. Questions like tzadik v'ra lo. Question like contradictions in Torah she'bksav and Torah she'baal Peh. Concepts in Judaism that defy logic. Concepts that defy contemporary values. That defy common sense. These are FAR more serious questions than the questions from science. If your Jewish education didn't teach you how to deal with unanswered questions, I completely agree, it needs an overhaul. Fortunately, for myself and I believe for most of us "chareidim", it did.

    1. happy, you are arguing a lot on this blog that "it's ridiculous to call American Ultra-Orthodox "chareidim"". But in this context, it makes total sense. An Israeli haredi could get married to a UO American, not to a MO or a dati leumi, because of the values they share. They have the same rabbonim as their models. When UO Americans make their alyah, most of them send their kids to haredi schools (even when those give a lot less importance to secular education than in America). If a book becomes popular with the haredi general public, it has a good chance of being popular in American UO homes too. They're not the exact same social group, but their beliefs are pretty much shared.

    2. "But if I were in charge, I would have banned him anyways."

      Really!? Then how dare you criticize Rabbi Slifkin on his own blog for not respecting Chareidi viewpoints? After all, you don't respect his.

    3. This is another fallacy of thinking that because two things are similar, they are the same. "Chareidi" is a loaded political term, specific to the Israeli political context. The fact that Israeli chareidim and American UO are similar in many ways doesn't give one license to mislabel them. Any more than one could mislabel French as Italians and vice versa, simply because they share many traits, or could intermarry.

      Again, would you call all American MO "National Religious"? Would you talk about our National Religious schools in Teaneck? Would you talk about the famous National Religious shul in Lincoln Square? The fact that two things are similar does not make them the same, and one should not mislabel them as such.

    4. Anonymous,

      "An Israeli haredi could get married to a UO America"

      Outside chassidism, that is not the case. Outside chassidus, an Israeli chareidi is nothing like a chu'l 'chareidi'. There are no real, non chassidic chareidim outside Israel. Just look at the ads in the chutznik so called chareidi press. Luxery hotels, gourmet recipies, $$$$$ sheitels. You really think Israeli chareidim are into all that? Chu'l chareidim are all wannabies. Sport for Israeli chareidim is picking up old wood for lag b'omer. You telling me chu"l non chassidic kids get as little as that?

    5. the correct terms should probably be charedi vs chareili [ israeli ]

  4. "Of course, this story is a complete fabrication, as was verified directly to me by a man married to Rav Yakov Kaminetzky’s granddaughter...he knew R’ Yakov very well and said that Rav Yakov would never speak like that to someone." Hogwash. I don't know if the story is true but you can't debunk it on the word of a grand son in law who claims to know R' Yaakov's mode of speech. Agav, there is nothing inherently disrespectful in what R' Yaakov supposedly said. Enough with these descendants (or pretend descendants) thinking their personal perspectives on people are the absolute, objective, unvarnished truth and arrogating to themselves the right to dispel all of the supposed myths about Gedolim. If you have facts to contribute fine, but stop confusing your *assessments* with facts.

    1. I thought exactly the same and honestly made me skeptical reading the rest of her piece. Anyone who thinks that a grandson-in-law can "verify" something as a "complete fabrication" doesn't understand what verify means. Sounds more like confirmation bias on her part.

      Other commenters have pointed to the logical fallacies in her final paragraph. I know of two yeshivish people who went to medical school (one female, one male), both of whom are still yeshivish. That shows the limits of anecdotal evidence.

    2. Shkoyech, I was thinking the same thing.

    3. Rabbi Dr. Aaron Rakeffet has repeated this story in his shiurim on several occasions. He said that he was present on the plane when it happened, and that it was in 1980 and the "gentile" was Yerucham Meshel. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeruham_Meshel

    4. Are you by chance able to find the lecture from Rav Rakeffet?

    5. I didn't read the story in the way it was told here. It sounds insulting in this version.

    6. Not to jump on the other bandwagon, but in the name of truth, R' Yaakov's grandson R' Mordechai put this story in his Parsha Parables. Sometimes he would preface his stories with "this might be apocryphal," but he does not do so for this one. Indeed, as Alex above mentioned, the "gentile" was actually a secular Israeli government official.

      REGARDLESS of the "truth" of evolution, or whether R' Yaakov had any actual opinion on evolution, the story can show where one's priorities are. We can "believe" in evolution, from a scientific POV, but we can still behave as if we are Hashem's Chosen People and use Mattan Torah as our guidepost and not the voyage of the Beagle. Again, I see no contradiction.

  5. Charedism has become a classic case of too much preservative poisoning the food. being so sheltered as to disconnect from reality, if faith becomes contingent on denying scientific facts then it crumbles once these fact become too hard to deny.

    a the vastly more resilient non Cheredi approach of reconciling faith with science while not perfect, is not susceptible to this house of cards meltdown

    I know, I am Chasidish Cheredi and most of the damage did not come from science but from ignorant Gedolim insisting on denying reality

  6. So much garbage.

    The fact that you attended some college classes proves that evolution is true?

    Then you found one book to hang your hat on. Now we can dismiss whatever Judiasm has to say on the topic because a professor in college said otherwise, and so did a Jewish book by slifkin.

    Authentic Jews don't sell out so easily. The concept of evolution is a complete joke. How did it happen that everything, meaning millions of organisms, all somehow turned out in the best possible way? Every mammal somehow uses the correct type of milk for its young. Why doesn't one species have to go to another for its milk due to some error in the evolution process?

    And that's just milk. The odds of everything turning out right is 1 in basically infinity.

    Moreover, why is evolution always in the ancient past? Why aren't there plenty of organisms that are currently evolving? You don't find half made creatures that aren't yet fully evolved. Why can't we be in middle of the billions of years?

    Oh, because science said it? It's theory my friend. Theory. Last I checked, many of the ideas of Aristotle have been debunked, despite those ideas being widespread in earlier times. Why? Because it was a theory.

    And what about religion? Hundreds of millions or billions believe in Christianity and billions of others in Islam. And they are mutually incompatible. Which means that mathematically billions of people are mistaken as far as beliefs go. And we say their all wrong. So don't be so impressed by numbers.

    And we include the stupid theories, yes theories, of the evolution of species over billions of years which is a complete joke.

    The problem with you is that instead of going to college to learn what you needed to know to be a medical practitioner, and leaving the unnecessary garbage behind, you sucked up the whole thing, hook line and sinker. Cleary it wasn't worth it.

    You talk about how slifkins approach helped people stay religious. That has nothing to do with the reality that evolution is a joke.

    Finally, and as can be expected, you throw in the light-unto-the-nations business. Ofcourse you do. But it doesn't mean aping the nations of the world.

    A teacher doesn't throw away her books and begin babbling like a child. She teaches the child to talk like an adult.

    You aren't spreading light unto the nations. You are spreading darkness unto the Jewish people like slifkin. (And no this isn't a literal parable, its to bring out a point).

    1. “...Oh, because science said it? It's theory my friend. Theory. Last I checked, many of the ideas of Aristotle have been debunked, despite those ideas being widespread in earlier times. Why? Because it was a theory...”

      Ezra isn’t enamoured with scientific theories.
      I bet he doesn’t believe in Game Theory developed by John Von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern in 1944 or Oxygen Theory of combustion formulated by Antoine Lavoisier in the 1770s. Or Quantum theory formulated by Max Planck, Einstein, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger, Max Born, Paul Dirac, 1900–1926.
      Or The Greatest Theory, The Theory Of Relativity formulated by Albert Einstein.
      How can you believe all those Theories? After all they’re only theories. Except that that all those theories have been tested and proven to be true. I suppose Ezra doesn’t use a GPS in his car because a GPS can only work properly if it incorporates the THEORY of Relativity.
      His attempts at repudiating The Theory Of Evolution is easily debunked. I’m not going to do so here, except to say that if you do a Google search, you’ll easily find scientific responses to his unsound claptrap. Clearly he doesn’t understand the differences between a Theory and Hypothesis. You should take anything he says with a grain of salt.

    2. Ezra - You miss the point. It's not about whether evolution is true or not. It's whether or not it is legitimate within Halachic Judaism to accept the premise of evolution and by extension science and a Rationalist approach to Judaism. And the answer to that is yes. There is a large trend within mainstream Jewish sources that support this approach.

      I don't believe in the Chassidic concept of Tzaddik Hador. But many Chassidic Rebbes and thinkers did. I'm not intimidated by it. And it's fine if they believe in concepts that are foreign to me.
      Dr Efrat never demanded that you believe in RNS's approach. She is demanding that it is wrong to reject those that do.

    3. Um, the point is that evolution is a theory rather than a proven fact AND that it makes no sense at all. ​

      The whole theory is as silly as can be. I explained why although there are ten thousand ways to demonstrate how retarded it is.

      No reason to compare theories that follow or seem to follow logic, with a theory that is so stupid a child can disprove it.

    4. " The concept of evolution is a complete joke. "

      Have you ever read any layperson-oriented books on evolution, Ezra?

    5. Ezra, I have a different approach to Torah and science. To me, there is no reason to deny a scientific theory just because it contradicts the Torah. The contradiction is just another difficulty in the Torah. We already have much more numerous, much more difficult questions on the Torah that are not from science. As adults, we can live with questions. We can live with contradictions.

      As for evolution specifically, I admit I don't find the evidence very convincing, based on what is available online or in my local library. But I'm no expert. Perhaps if I was, I would be very convinced. That said, we should be very careful about teaching it in our schools, the same way we should be careful about teaching anything that seems to contradict the Torah. You would need somebody who is both a yarei shamayim and an expert in biology to come up with an appropriately modified curriculum.

    6. Among Ezra's many errors are simply the result of his ignorance of both halacha and science. His basic error is that he doesn't know what a theory is. For his basic education, I will describe basic scientific method:
      1. A process or phenomenon is observed.
      2. An hypothesis ( what Ezra thinks a theory is) is formulated that appears to explain the phenomenon
      3. Tests are devised to test the Hypothesis against the observable phenomenon. Hypotheses that fail are discarded.
      4. If continued testing confirms the hypothesis, It becomes a Theory.
      5. Testing continues. minor discrepencies my require modification of the existing theory
      6. This process continues. The more accurately the theory explains and/or predicts the observed phenomenon, the more certain we are of its truth.
      Note that we continue to test the theory, even ones that are common knowledge. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS "SETTLED SCIENCE".

    7. Ezra,
      Do you know what a theory is? Hint, it is not some brainstorm resulting from someone contemplating his navel. A theory is a conceptual framework that 1) connects otherwise disconnected facts and 2) makes non-trivial, falsifiable predictions about new facts that would be discovered. All it would take to show that evolution is false is to discover a fact that evolutionary theory predicts should not be the case. And no, saying that something is preposterous is not showing that that fact is false.

      Now to a few incontrovertible facts. FACT: Primates have all the genetic machinery for the production of Vitamin C, except that the gene for the last part of the pathway is damaged rendering it inoperative. This results in primates, including humans, being unable to produce their own Vitamin C and thus getting scurvy if they do not consume Vitamin C in their diets.

      FACT: There are no fresh water fish native to any volcanic islands. This is despite the fact that fresh water fish are capable of thriving once introduced to volcanic islands.

      FACT: Apes have 24 pairs of chromosomes. Humans have 23. Human chromosome 2 has vestiges of an extra centromere and parts of an extra telomere in between the two centromeres. The portions of human chromosome 2 on either side of that extra telomere have substantial overlap with two different ape chromosomes.

      None of this is inconsistent with the notion that Hashem created all species ex nihilo, because nothing can be inconsistent with Hashem creating all species ex nihilo. That doesn't say that ex nihilo creation is true, it says that ex nihilo creation is unfalsifiable.

      On the other hand, evolution does explain all three of those observations. Primates have a broken Vitamin C gene because the first primate inherited a mutation in that gene from an earlier mammal. However, that early primate had a diet that caused the mutation to be non-fatal, preventing that mutation from getting weeded out of the gene pool. There are no freshwater fish native to volcanic islands because fresh water fish diverged from salt water fish before those islands emerged above the ocean surface. At some point in hominid history, two chromosomes fused into one, reducing the number of pairs by one and resulting in an extra centromere and telomere in the fused chromosome.

    8. Ezra,

      Ever heard of the theory of gravity? Just a theory, right?

      Or the theory of genetics? Only a theory? Pure coincidence that clever parents tend to have clever children? And tall parents have tall children?

      The word "theory" is not used in science the way you think it is used.

    9. I'm not going to debate the science here. Ezra misses the point because it is not about whether or not it is a hypothesis, theory or fact. The point is that it is not forbidden to agree with or believe in any of it.
      And that is why most of the arguments against RNS's position are all irrelevant. Including those of R Meiselman, and others (or kornreich). RNS doesn't have to prove the accuracy of anything. He just needed to show that it is a legitimate position within Judaism.

    10. @Ezra

      You seem to know neither what evolution, nor science, nor theories, are.
      I therefore suggest you stop ridiculizing yourself and go read some books.

    11. Calm down. It is often referred to as a theory. Google it.

      If you prefer what you claim to be a more accurate term, knock yourself out. Just don't bust a gut.

      But it is irrelevant to the main points that the theory (or whatever) of evolution is 1) unproven and more importantly 2) utterly insane.

      We wonder how is it that people bowed to wood and stone claiming it to be God. Evolution is even sillier.

    12. Ezra, please explain yourself, why is it unproven and insane? Sar Shalom gave good evidence above, he said evolution can be used to explain three facts (and many more I'm sure). If x can explain a, b, c, d..., that is usually considered good evidence that x is true. Don't you agree?

      And why is it insane and silly? If a butterfly can come from a caterpillar and a tree from a seed, why can't your elter zaide be a fish?

    13. Ezra,
      Paragraph 32 of Horeb says that Hashem gave us the ability to make observations that causes lead to effects and based on those observations 1) to anticipate effects upon seeing causes and 2) to infer causes upon seeing effects. The theory of evolution is a framework to explain the effects we are able to observe both of living things today and the remains of living things from the distant past.

      Calling wood and stone "god" never made a falsifiable prediction. Evolution has made many falsifiable predictions that turned out to be correct. Evolution predicts that if two closely related genuses, such as humans and apes, have a different number of chromosomes, then something must have happened to one of the chromosomes between the species. Sure enough, two ape chromosomes did merge to form one human chromosome. Evolution predicts that there would have at some point have been transitional species between different classes of animals. Sure enough, fossils have been found combining features of multiple classes.

    14. You seem to to deify ignorance. Such עבודה זרה is the ultimate insult to the God you would claim to worship.

    15. Happy,

      It's very nice that X can explain a,b,c, and d. But what if X is mathematically impossible or goes against any form of sound logic? Then the hypotheses is a joke. X meaning Evolution is a joke.

      A butterfly turns into a caterpillar for the same reason an embryo becomes a child. Hashem in his Infinite wisdom and endless power created and maintains the most marvelous world imaginable.

      Evolution hinges on a concept called Natural selection. What it means, when you strip away any fancy verbiage, is accidental mutations.

      The idea that billions of phenomenon could all eventually turn out in the best possible way, not only for themselves but also in how they relate to gigantic ecosystems, is sheer lunacy.

      Evolution resorts to billions of years because they can't explain it at all without tremendous periods of time. But its completely illogical. A billion monkeys typing randomly on a billion keyboards for a billion years may produce some legible writing, but would certainly not produce a complete work of literature such as Shakespeare. That requires intelligence which monkeys do not possess.

      The intricacy of a human being is endlessly more complex than any literature. A single human eye with its millions of cones and hundreds of millions of rods, receiving processing and sending images to the brain could never happen by itself.

      And even if it managed to occur in ten billion years, which would never happen, it wouldn't occur in every eye of billions of humans and species of animals.

      And as luck would have it, according to evolutionists, after billions of phenomenon wiggled and mutated for billions of years, we all appeared on the scene. But pray tell, why can't we find TODAY examples of phenomenon that are still in middle of wiggling and mutating? Where are the animals and reptiles and organisms that are still evolving? After all, we also live in time. Why can't we also be in middle of the billions of years, at least for some phenomenon? Oh no, it must have happened only in the ancient past.

      You must admit to an endless source of intelligence and power. But once you admit to an Intelligence, then there is no reason anymore to insist on trillions of years.

      The fact is that people will do anything to avoid facing the reality of an all knowable G-d. That means He likely requires something of us. That means there is a purpose to this world. That likely means that there is more to life than eating and breathing. That's no fun at all.

      By the way, if you open up a sefer Bereishis, you can read about how Hashem created the world. He did it with intelligence and power, not accidental selection.

    16. Sar Shalom
      Two questions: 1. What is the survival advantage of a combined chromosome allowing it to selectively reproduce? In particular consider that every currently known spontaneous chromosomal abnormality causes survival disadvantage, eg syndromal children, or, more often, spontaneous miscarriage of pregnancy.
      2. What is the purported reporoductive mechanism enabling chromosomal combination? Consider that errors in genetic reproduction are common but are limited to individual genes.

      I'm a physician who does not see the viability of evolutionary theory in explaining the variety of life.

    17. The contradiction between evolution and Torah is a fallacy in my opinion.
      Imagine a person learning Chumash in the early 1800s. He knows that the past affects the future, trees grow according to the influences of the rain, sun, and atmosphere when it was small. People are a product of their past, and their intellect is developed as they experience more things. A person who is deprived of any outside input until the age of 30, will have a baby's intellect.
      Then he sees a newly created world on the Sixth day of creation, as described in the Torah. How is that possible? Fully grown trees, a mere 4 days old?! A fully grown, talking sentient human being, a mere few hours old?! How is that possible? What about all of the influences that make a tree or a person?
      Obviously, Hashem created everything with a back story. He created a tree that looks like it had a childhood, and he did the same with the human. He looked a few hours old, but his mind was 30 years old. The tree looked four days old, but its development was as though it was ten years old.

      So each part of creation was created with a back story of a few years, and although in reality it wasn't that old, it looked as though it was. Think Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.

      Along came a theory of evolution and added a few years to the back story. What's the big deal? There is no conceptual difference between adding ten years and adding a billion years.

      We can deal with the world as though it evolved, because that is the world Hashem created, an evolved world. Science is no problem at all with this viewpoint.
      (I know that this doesn't answer all of the questions on the story of Creation in the Torah, but I don't know how accurate those questions are)

    18. "Why aren't there plenty of organisms that are currently evolving?"

      Currently? They use to, but- you know נשתנה הטבע. :?)

    19. Sar Shalom, I agree with everything you said except your assertion that wood and stone gods are unfalsifiable. They are falsifiable in the same sense as evolution. One could make a falsifiable prediction by praying to them, for rain, for example. If one receives a response (the way many pagan prophets think they did), that is a falsifiable prediction that turned out to be correct. And if one doesn't receive a response, one could "update" his theory about how or when stone gods answer prayer. The same way evolution theory is updated based on new or surprising discoveries.

    20. Sar Shalom - you write
      Evolution predicts that if two closely related genuses, such as humans and apes, have a different number of chromosomes, then something must have happened to one of the chromosomes between the species. Sure enough, two ape chromosomes did merge to form one human chromosome

      How do you know that the two chromosomes merged? That itself is your hypothesis, nobody saw it happening. You are basically using evolution to prove evolution.
      Unless I am misunderstanding something.

      Your appeal to the authority of Horeb is also telling. Why? How is his opinion binding?

    21. who said organims aren't evolving? there is a virus called sars-corona-19, that is documented in India to a form [ called 'delta' ] that evades vaccines and is very contagious. it evolved in a matter of weeks....

    22. @Ezra
      "Evolution hinges on a concept called Natural selection. What it means, when you strip away any fancy verbiage, is accidental mutations."

      Mutations are random. Survival of mutants is not random. The pattern of what mutants survive is natural selection. Your characterization of natural selection as something else betrays considerable ignorance.

      "The idea that billions of phenomenon could all eventually turn out in the best possible way"

      Who says that it is the best possible way? All that natural selection posits is that mutations that confer an advantage get transmitted to future generations. As to the "best possible way," would you say that having the neural connection on the inside of the retina is the "best possible way" to design an eye? Is having a blind spot on the retina better than what would result if the neural connection was on the outside?

      "A billion monkeys typing randomly on a billion keyboards for a billion years may produce some legible writing, but would certainly not produce a complete work of literature such as Shakespeare."

      Completely not comparable. If a monkey types out a few lines of bona fide poetry, it will do nothing to contribute to composing a full poem because that composition of poetic lines is not replicable. With living things, adding genes through mutation is replicable if those genes confer any form of advantage. Thereby, the birth of a single organism with a given mutation can beget millions of organisms with that mutation and therefore millions of chances to get a second mutation as well, thus having a combination of those two mutations. Adding more mutations simply follows the same pattern.

      "A single human eye with its millions of cones and hundreds of millions of rods, receiving processing and sending images to the brain could never happen by itself."

      That has been covered ad nauseum in plenty of sources if you care to look.

      "And even if it managed to occur in ten billion years, which would never happen, it wouldn't occur in every eye of billions of humans and species of animals."

      Your scientific illiteracy astounds me. Once one organism has the genetic code to create an eye, every descendant of that organism will have the genetic code to create an eye. Having the genetic code, they will have eyes. The fact that so many species have that form of eye can happen just by a common ancestor of all those species having had the genetic code for creating an eye.

      "you can read about how Hashem created the world. He did it with intelligence and power, not accidental selection."

      It is also possible that Hashem created the world by shaping the conditions that determined what mutants would survive in every generation. Bereishit is what the generation of mattan Torah was able to understand. Are you saying that if something would have be incomprehensible to the generation of mattan Torah that it could not have happened?

    23. @Ben
      1) A mutation doesn't have to provide a survival advantage to get passed on. It just has to refrain from killing. An example is the loss of the ability to synthesize Vitamin C in primates.

      2) The mechanism is that the end of the telomere from chromosome A bonds to the end of the telomere from chromosome B. Just so long as the end product doesn't kill the organism so created, the merged chromosome will get passed to that organism's progeny.

      "The same way evolution theory is updated based on new or surprising discoveries."

      The notion that praying to idols will bring rain is unfalsifiable because praying to them long enough will have the effect as simply waiting long enough, which is that rain will come. When it does, the believer can simply claim it was the idol.

      The same is not true with evolution. There are findings that evolution predicts will not happen. For instance, finding australopithecines, a transitional genus between apes and humans, from before the time that apes first appeared would disprove evolution. Australopithecine fossils have not been found in such geological strata to date.

      @Zichron Devorim
      "How do you know that the two chromosomes merged?"

      Read my first comment on this thread. Human chromosome 2 has remnants of a second centromere and an extra telomere in the middle. There is no reason to have any part of a second centromere and third telomere other than being the result of the fusion of two chromosomes at their telomeres. The base pair sequence of chromosome 2 has a high degree of match to the base pair sequences of two chimpanzee, gorilla, and orangutan chromosomes.

    24. Sar Shalom, idols are falsifiable in the same way. For example, the priest/prophet says that praying or sacrificing will bring rain in the next month, or in this drought year. Not simply waiting ten years from now. If the rain comes, that is a falsifiable prediction that turned out to be correct. If it doesn't, we need to update our theory about which prayer or sacrifice is appropriate. Just like we update scientific theories based on surprising discoveries.

      Similarly, idol theory could be used to predict negative things, as you did with evolution. For example, the priest could say that the sun god is much more powerful than the storm god. And if a storm would destroy the sun permanently, that would disprove the strength of the sun god, or even the existence of the sun god. And to date, it has not.

      In general, I'm not sure why you are clinging to the notion of falsifiability. There is plenty of evidence for evolution without it, as you yourself have noted. And falsifiability is not even a critical aspect of science, see here:


    25. Sar Shalom - the definition of prediciton is about something that will happen in the future. Nobody predicted two chromosomes merging that afterwards happened.
      They use evolution to explain something that they don't have another explanation for. Why can't a third thing exist that had characteristics of both? I don't know the answer, but you are not persuasive at all

    26. Ezra, the way you denigrate science demonstrates that you are a haughty fool. Do you have a better explanation as to why whales need to come to the surface to breath, rather than being able to breath underwater like fish?

    27. @Zichron --

      In the past, scientists had noted that humans have one less pair of chromosomes than non-human primates, and that based on broad patterns of gene location and chromosome staining, human chromosome 2 carried the same components as two corresponding non-human-primate chromosomes, and appeared to be a fusion of those two.

      They predicted that if this were true, and if it were possible to look at whole chromosomes at the molecular level, they would see the remnants of the chromosomal machinery (centromeres, telomeres) of the non-human-primate chromosomes in unusual locations on human chromosome 2.

      Once whole-genome sequencing became available, they looked at human chromosome 2, and found exactly that. They found the remnants of the non-human-primate chromosome telomeres and centromeres in human chromosome 2, just where they would be if it were the result of an ancient fusion of two common-ancestor chromosomes. The prediction was confirmed.

    28. I should add that the prediction that the chromosomal machinery remnants would be found in human chromosome 2 was made in the early 1980s, and the finding of that machinery happened about 25 years later.

    29. Thank you @Joe_Q for clarifying my points.

  7. I mostly agreed with points 1 - 5.
    I disagree about 6. Three friends is not a trend. In my circles, I see the opposite, many yeshiva boys that go to college, and even those who became Drs kept their religion. Whereas, there are many complaints in the Modox world of college students dropping Shabbos. This is similar to to studies in Israel that about 20% of Dati Leumi soldiers drop religion. The way I view it is it's not the college or the army. Its the lack of background. Eventually most of us will face a world outside of yeshiva/Bais Yaakov. Have we been taught to further their spiritual growth outside of the incubator? For boys - the Yeshiva boy is usually more equipped in understanding the religious texts necessary. It's partially the age gap. Charedi boys (who are not in Touro/Landers/correspondence) tend to go to college after a few more years of yeshiva. Modox boys tend to go earlier (YU boys are in Yeshiva - I'm referring to other colleges). Furthermore, there is a learning level gap. Charedi boys are more likely to be able to read a Mishna Brura or follow along a Gemara shiur. Modox boys are further behind in those skills, and these skills are precisely necessary to remain shomer Shabbos in an outside world.
    For woman, perhaps it's the other way around. The lack of in depth learning is likely to cause problems when entering an outside world. Many Halachos are taught in Bais Yaakov as black and white and a BY grad will come a cross someone who is mekil about stockings and can source it in a Mishna Brura. That's got to surprise someone. They may actually find out that all those hasgacha pratis stories don't check out with many Rishonim. The answer to this is likely your earlier post that pointed out that we should be teaching woman Gemara, and beiyun and it should begin at least in high school. Halacha should be taught in depth, from at least a Mishna Brura and not R Ribiat's books.

    1. Here we have yet another example where Dr. Bruck is cherry-picking unfortunate examples in order to distort the reality that we all see all around us.

    2. To comment on the idea of having a strong background: it sometimes seems that there is an unfortunate internal fear that even ALL OF THE BACKGROUND is not enough. How many years of learning will be enough to inoculate against secular culture? Why is it that after five or ten years of yeshiva gedola (which itself is after a full childhood immersion) the rule is for a whole segment of the community to still stay away? I don't mean frivolous things like movies and music bc one can easily agree with arguments that exposure to pritzus and foreign ideas just for the sake of exposure is wrong. I mean working, of course. Why is the decade of background not enough to protect the precious little boys from going out into the world?

  8. "Of course, this story is a complete fabrication, as was verified directly to me by a man married to Rav Yakov Kaminetzky’s granddaughter. He was appalled that people are even able to believe such a story; he knew R’ Yakov very well and said that Rav Yakov would never speak like that to someone."
    I'm pretty sure this idea is brought down in Emes L'Yaakov, though without the story. Also, we have no idea in what tone RYK told the other passenger that.

    1. It's the third comment or so in Parshas Kedoshim.


  9. But for a community that likes to prevent shedding of its members, this can give you some clues. Isn’t it a shame to have lost all these doctors, soon-to-be leaders in their respective niches?

    I think the chareidi answer would follow Colonel Jessep's logic:

    You have the luxury of not knowing what I know -- that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives; and my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.

    Joel Rich

    1. There should always be a core of forever learners. There should always be baalei treisin. I would even agree that as the population grows, the number of such folk should grow. But to apply this to EVERYBODY is heavyhanded.

      Also, Jessup lost, didn't he? So the movie seems to disagree with him...

  10. Completely and totally ridiculous. In every large city with a frum community you will find frum yeshiva graduates in their late 20's to early 40's who are MD's, DDS's, surgeons, etc. Yeshivos like Ner Israel produce them by the dozens- with the full backing of their their uber-Charedi rosh hayeshiva and R. Slifkin's nemesis, Rav Aharon Feldman- and they go on to become leaders of their communities, making a genuine Kiddush Hashem in how they comport themselves at work and overall.

    Beware of anyone who thinks their derech is the only one.

    Methinks this young lady needs to get out more...

    1. Saddened by the new trendAugust 4, 2021 at 1:04 PM

      When oh when will we finally accept the falsehood that Ner Israel is supportive of bochrim going to medical school under the current administration?
      They provided privately organized classes from instructors from Towson U. to teach the boys enough science to pass their MCATs without having to be exposed to female students or subject matter that was thought to be irrelevant or offensive in the name of "tachlis." This was at great financial cost to the bochrim...they were paying regular tuition but getting minimalized instruction. Meanwhile the administration used all kinds of excuses (too busy, don't worry, we will get to it; oh, the person in charge of accreditation and sending grades is in camp for the summer, don't worry they'll take care of it) to not comply with time-sensitive med school application requirements so that my family member's med school application was delayed by an entire year (because the yeshiva was hoping the bochur would stay in learning rather than go to med school). The yeshiva assured the bochur that they'd talked to admissions and he was "in" so imagine his surprise when he found his application was "on hold." Not accepted, not even rejected, but put "on hold." Distraught he contacted the Dean at U of MD and was told that they didn't approve of the shortcut Towson premed science classes that were offered by NI (despite assurances by NI) and if he wanted to be accepted to med school he would have to retake all the classes (no abridged version) in a true academic setting at Towson (despite his stellar grades and good MCAT scores). My family member did not have the thousands of dollars for this and so had to forfeit his place at U of MD. The other bochur faced with this same situation came from a more affluent family who paid the extra tuition for him to retake the courses and so he was admitted.
      Today this family member is a full fledged MD and a specialist but it is NOT thanks to NI and in fact he not only left to get his smicha elsewhere, he will no longer support NI.
      Are there professionals who are alumni of NI? Sure. But mostly in spite of NI, not because of it. This was not always the case, as NI is indeed renowned for it's baalebatim. But that was then, this is now. The bochrim are discouraged from pursuing college courses, even to the point of sabotage. My family member's story is not unique and we know of others who faced similar experiences who pursued professional careers in other fields.
      You only need to enter the beis medrash to note the change in atmosphere. Whereas once it was a hall of diverse young men sporting all types of kipas/yarmulkas and colored, striped and white shirts, today the white shirt, jacket, black yarmulkas and hat are required with no room for anything else. It's perhaps a superficial thing, but in this case it represents a most different mission than Rav Ruderman's original vision. If NI wants to be known for its limudei kodesh according to a more chareidi style I don't have a problem with it, but please just be honest to the boys who come with the idea of getting a combined yeshiva and professional secular education, that
      other places are better suited for boys who want to combine secular learning with yeshiva studies. This was financially costly and spiritually devastating to those affected. And yes-- this family member remains fully shomer mitzvos today.

    2. There is no difference between the way the yeshiva vis-a-vis its attitude towards college studies is run now versus the way it was at least since the late 1970's, under the aegis of its four very different roshei hayeshiva. Your purported diversely dressed bais hamedrash has not existed since then as well-sure, there were exceptions- I did wear a suede kippa for the first three years I attended in the '90s- but it hasn't looked like what you describe for a long time. To say there are mostly professionals who are alumni "despite" the yeshiva betrays an absolute ignorance of its entire weltansschaaung. Is the system perfect? Of course not. You show me a yeshiva that is 'exactly' the same way its founding Rosh Yeshiva intended it; I'll show you a yeshiva which has stagnated. NIRC continues to thrive. And anyone going there because he wants to "combine secular learning with yeshiva studies"---is indeed going to the wrong place. Rabbis Ruderman and Neuberger zt'l would certainly have told such a person, "This is a yeshiva. We allow, and often encourage, college studies. But make no mistake, the emphasis is on the Torah alone." That, my jaded friend, has not changed.

    3. In every large city with a frum community you will find frum yeshiva graduates in their late 20's to early 40's

      Is that still the case, though? Please provide the names and numbers of shadchonim that have these 20 year old boys on their books (I'm sure RNS won't mind). I'm desperately looking for a boy like that for my daughter....

    4. ******, the boys who are actually in med school are usually already married by that time. But plenty of good single NIRC boys in college, who are pre-med. Just call around...

    5. Living in Baltimore, I can support “too tired”’s observation about the support for college dropping precipitously at Ner. My son spent 4 years in Israel and then went to YAGW instead of Ner to complete his college studies in part because of the issues he would have to deal with at Ner. Spoken to others who had to fight to be able to get college educated unlike the past. R Feldman is a very strong RY, but he has a different view. That said, I have heard that in the very recent past they there has been some movement to fix this a little.

    6. Which yeshiva in Israel did your son attend for FOUR years before going to college, David?

  11. Rabbi Rakeffet says he witnessed the story with R' Yaakov personally, sitting right behind him on the flight back from Israel after the last Knessiah Gedola in 1980. (That probably means that R' Rakeffet is the source of the story, period, because who else would have reported it?)

    Based on his recounting of the story, the entire conversation was friendly (the other person was Yerucham Meshel, head of the Histadrut and the conversation was in Yiddish), the "lesson" was said in an entirely light and good-hearted manner, and of course R' Yaakov was making a philosophical and ethical point rather than a scientific one.

    Sometimes we get a bit too defensive.

  12. From an old blog:

    This is an urban myth, often repeated, with many different rabbis and settings. But after much painstaking research, I have uncovered the original, true version !

    HaRav Wacky was sitting on an EL-AL 747 going to Israel. Seated next to him was none other than Charles Darwin ! Mamash amazing.

    R Wacky's children were being really obnoxious, loud, rude and causing trouble. Darwin's kids however were sitting quietly, like proper english schoolboys.

    Charles turned to Wacky and said "Wow, how come your kids are so obnoxious, yet mine are so polite ?"

    "Aha", said Rav Wacky; "You believe in evolution. Each generation is successively better than the previous one. We however believe in Yeridas Hadoros, each generation is going downhill !

  13. Questions to Dr Bruck:

    Have you encountered any BTLs who got into medical school?
    Do charedi doctors realize their children will be getting a substandard education in the charedi educational system?

  14. "Of course, this story is a complete fabrication, as was verified directly to me by a man married to Rav Yakov Kaminetzky’s granddaughter"

    Interesting, considering it's in his biography, and Rav Yaakov's grandson Rav Dovid (a noted historian) told me the book is one of the best biographies he's ever seen...

  15. The other "I-factor" is Idolatry. The Haredim deify their leaders. They also deify חז"ל and אבותינו.

    1. Why bring religious dogma to it? Is your point your sect are the One True Way to be the Frummest of Them All? If so you simply rebadge the most obnoxiously shallow elements of Charedism under a (Mod Orth?) badge.

  16. Dr. Bruck:
    "Have you ever stopped to think about how Slifkin’s approach actually helped many people keep their religious observance? Have you ever considered the risk-benefit analysis?

    99% of Traditional Rabbis believe that our entire mesorah --Torah shebichtav, Torah shebaal peh, Chazal, Rishonim and achronim--from the rationalist Rambam (See Moreh III:50) to the mystic traditions--all affirm special creation and reject common ancestry. (Outliers excluded, obviously)
    We simply do not have the luxury of making a risk-benefit analysis. Corrupting our mesorah is not an option for those who believe it is an authentic mesorah.

    1. Coming from you, that's ironic. After all, 99% of Traditional Rabbis believe that our entire mesorah --Torah shebaal peh, Chazal, Rishonim and achronim--from the rationalist Rambam to the mystic traditions--all affirm special creation ON AN ONGOING BASIS with insects in fruit, lice, mice, and salamanders. (Outliers excluded, obviously) And yet Rabbi Meiselman is perfectly content to "corrupt our mesorah"!

    2. Well if the good doctor wants to know why Rabbi Slifkin's book is really beyond the pale, I think she got her answer. This was really low-hanging fruit. Chazal and Science is a much more complex topic.
      (And I would imagine it isn't that ironic coming from me, since I dedicated a few posts on my old blog explaining the distinction. Gee, I wonder why Rav Meiselman's book wasn't treated the same way as R.Dr. Slifkin's?)

    3. "Gee, I wonder why Rav Meiselman's book wasn't treated the same way as R.Dr. Slifkin's?" That's easy enough to answer, it didn't have a haskoma from Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky!

    4. "Gee, I wonder why Rav Meiselman's book wasn't treated the same way as R.Dr. Slifkin's?"

      Cuz yankel kalmanawits didn't read it yet. I'm tempted to send him the book as a gift.

    5. 99% of statistics are made up on the spot.

    6. *All* of the Rabbis of the mesorah, up until copernicus, believed that the earth was a stationary object at the center of the universe. Then it was split for a number of centuries and now there are only a few crackpot Rabbis out there who will maintain that view. Those crackpots use the reasoning you mentioned in your comment.

    7. Only 94 percent of statistics are made up on the spot.

    8. You are comparing apples and oranges. Creation is an entire subject in the Torah. The fundamental question is if the Torah's account of creation is a description of events that actually happened or not. Saying, as Rabbi Dr. Slifkin and his cherry-picked sources believe, that the Torah's account is not of historical creation changes the fundamental way we look at what the Torah says.
      It is not a matter of interpreting a verse her or a verse there.

    9. LOL, that's exactly what the Acharonim who were opposed to Copernicus said. It's a fundamental difference in how we look at what the Torah says. No longer is there Shamayim and Aretz - instead, the earth is simply another planet in space like the sun and every other.

    10. 1) OK, so we can dispense with the 99% of Rabbis argument then.

      2) As Astronomer points out, those who objected to Copernicus did so based on Pesukim and their interpretation of the plain meaning thereof.

      3) "he fundamental question is if the Torah's account of creation is a description of events that actually happened or not." Are you recommending some kind of literalist Tzeduki reading of the Torah? Poking out eyes and lopping off hands? The people gazing upon God who has a physical form? You seem to be ignoring the Rabbis of the Mesorah who you call to follow.

      4) "as Rabbi Dr. Slifkin and his cherry-picked sources believe". Missing the point. An old earth (e.g) is just a fact you can see. It is quite traditional to interpret the Bereishis story in line with the understanding of the time. That is many of the Rishonim read the four elements into the Torah as well as the fifth element of the heavens. The only difference is that the antiquity of the earth is much better established than the now falsified theory of the four (or five) elements.

    11. Okay. I see I'm being very misunderstood here, so I will try to be more clear.

      I won't concede my "99% of traditional rabbis". I can't imagine you will find many rabbis to the right of Y.U. agreeing that we have the right to allegorize anything in chumash. When you advocate allegorization to accommodate modern scientific theory, you are crossing a very bright line.

      Furthermore, if you read what I wrote carefully, you will see that I said 99% agree that there is a clear mesorah affirming special creation and rejecting common descent.
      David Ohsie, "oh the irony", and "astronomer" seem to agree with that assessment-- that there is indeed such a mesorah about special creation, but they are countering that that any mesorah can theoretically get overturned when there is sufficient scientific evidence against it.
      You use Spontaneous Generation and geocentrism as examples of this.

      My reply to this is that it is apples and oranges.
      It is one thing to interpret and re-interpret specific pesukim and statements of Chazal to KEEP THEM IN LINE with the scientific understanding of one's time. Everyone agrees you can and should do this in principle because, as believing Jews, you certainly prefer that pesukim and Chazal reflect the truth as you know it!
      2) There is no 'mesorah' here other than that all traditional interpreters try to find ways to affirm that the Torah and Chazal are telling us the truth. If they can be shown to fit with an accurate physical description of the world, that's great. If they can't, we have to overturn the "traditional" understanding and re-interpret it to refer to a non-physical halachic or spiritual reality.
      None of the interpreters are claiming to know for certain what THE interpretation really is. All they know for certain is that it cannot be false.
      For instance, you will not find an traditional interpreter say the pesukim imply geocentrism but Copernicus is right anyway and the pesukim are wrong. All those who interpret pesukim literally only do so because they also happen to think Copernicus is factually wrong!
      (Rav Meiselman makes this point over and over again in his book. It isn't hard to understand this if you don't have an agenda to make him look like a hypocrite by "going against all the rishonim".)

      Rabbi Dr. Slifkin and his cherry-picked sources however, believe it is legitimate to re-interpret Chumash in a way which makes the chumash tell us something FALSE. According to him, the chumash is telling us MYTHS about creation which never happened on any level in any realm.


    12. 3) I'm not advocating a physical literalism about chumash. Chazal never advocated physical literalism about chumash. But there can be different ways of interpreting terms and phrases in loshon hakodesh. The Torah certainly uses certain words as metaphors for non-physical ideas and concepts--like "lev hashomayim". But even with all the metaphorical language being used, even the Rambam agreed that the narrative of Bereishis is describing God's actual acts of creation. Like all the narrative sections of chumash, it was an actual historical event that took place.
      (It certainly did not take place in the physical world as we know it today with an ability to analyze it with the tools of science. This is why Bereishis doesn't contradict the reality we see today-Bereishis is entirely inaccessible to us using the tools of science. The mesorah we have is that chumash is describing events which took place "in the beginning".)

      4) But Slifkin says nothing of the sort took place. It is simply God's "creation myth". And God's "flood story". So in principle, someone down the road who is convinced of the truth of modern archeology is perfectly at liberty to claim the chumash contains an "Exodus myth" and a "Sinai myth".
      Again, this is the opposite of our mesorah which always tries to interpret Chumash and Chazal to be in line with what we think is true.

      It is delusional to think you can find cover for Slifkin's radical approach by pointing to the overturning of SG and geocentrism. Traditional interpretations are only overturned for the sake of affirming that the Torah and Chazal were speaking the truth--not to assert that it's false!
      I can't believe you guys really think there is any precedent for this.
      I hope this was clear.

    13. Dovid Kornreich, if you were able to realistically interpret the "Special Creation" of the "99% of rabbis" such that it totally fit with modern science, would you be able to accept it? And I mean an interpretation that does not result in Chazal or the Rishonim being wrong. Similar to the way you interpret them knowing the earth is round, even though in many statements they sound like it's flat. Is your refusal to accept evolution simply because you cannot abide by Chazal and Rishonim being wrong about Special Creation, or anything else? But if somebody was somehow able to make a synthesis between Special Creation and modern science (and I'm not saying anybody did yet), would you be able to accept it? Or is there some other element to your refusal?

    14. Samson Raphael HirschAugust 6, 2021 at 4:35 PM

      Jewish scholarship has never regarded the Bible as a textbook for physical or even abstract doctrines. In its view the main emphasis of the Bible is always on the ethical and social structure and development of life on earth; that is, on the observance of laws through which the momentous events of our nation’s history are converted from abstract truths into concrete convictions. That is why Jewish scholarship regards the Bible as speaking consistently in “human language;” the Bible does not describe things in terms of objective truths known only to God, but in terms of human understanding, which is, after all, the basis for human language and expression.

    15. It is well to bear in mind that already our ancient sages, to say nothing of our medieval theologians, would not seem to have insisted upon literalness in such transcendental matters as the account of Creation.

    16. Avraham Yitzchak KookAugust 6, 2021 at 4:40 PM

      Every intelligent person knows that there is no relevance to our faith… with regard to the state of astronomical or geological knowledge… it makes no difference with regard to the words of the Torah… It is already adequately known that prophecy takes its metaphors to guide mankind according to that which was then well-known in the language of men at that time, to direct the ear according to that which it is able to hear in its time… The intellectual truths of the depths of Torah are elevated and exalted far beyond these; the human illustrations—whatever they may be—with regard to the nature of existence, certainly also have a particular path in the ethical development of mankind… in each generation, according to his way of framing things, which constantly changes.

    17. @David Kornreich -- It seems a bit specious to cite "a clear mesorah affirming special creation and rejecting common descent", when the first scientific statement of common descent didn't appear until the 1870s -- unless you are specifically referring to writings since that time.

      If not, I can't understand how one can consider mesorah to actively rejecting a concept, if that concept had not yet been enunciated by anyone during the era when said mesorah emerged.

    18. To Happy:
      I personally don't consider those kinds of approaches to be genuine because it is based on the premise that creation was a physical process, but it at least would not be beyond the pale. In my opinion, this is precisely why Gerald Schroder's and Aviezer's books on Genesis did not get (and others like them in the future will not get) the categorical rejection that Slifkin's "creation myth" approach deservedly received.

      To Rabbi Hirsch and Rabbi Dr. Herzog z"l: I made no claim that Bereishis is meant to be a science book. I actually said creation wasn't a physical process discoverable by scientific tools. The metaphysical realm is a real one where real events take place, and it is subject to human understanding.

      As for Rav Kook Z"L, with all due respect, if you mean parts of Chumash are completely mythological, (and I'm not sure that's what you mean) I'll tell Rabbi Dr. Slifkin what a nice looking cherry he picked over here. Great Rabbis are known to depart from our mesorah from time to time.

      And I hope David Ohsie or Rabbi Slifkin can respond directly instead of hiding behind names.

    19. More like a clear mesorah from chazal and (almost) all rishonim that there was special creation and that Adam and Chava were real, literal people. And that they were the first people. As for what the special creation entailed and if it was 24 hour 6 days, not so clear, seems to depend on the source.

    20. To Joe Q.
      It implicitly rejected common descent. Just like the Torah rejects atheism even though no-one in the the times of the Torah (to my knowledge) enunciated such a belief.
      Or do you think the Torah does not reject atheism simply because no-one enunciated it at the time?

    21. Your approach to Torah is to turn it into a complete joke and a guidebook for the idiot. That you can't see this for yourself is not unexpected. המבין יבין

    22. I understand that materialist-minded people will ridicule the traditional approach to creation. It's nothing new.
      I suspect that fear of ridicule by the academic world who have acquired so much undeserved respect in the modern world (and their online groupies who love to ridicule traditional religious beliefs) was the main impetus for Rabbi Dr. Slifkin to devise his approach. this fear has seeped so deeply into his psyche that Slifkin now likes to ridicule the traditional approach himself!

    23. Granted, most rabbis had a certain perspective about how to be mefaresh a certain passage in the Torah. M'heichah teisi they had a *mesoirah* that that's how it should be read?

    24. @Dovid Kornreich -- Could one also not then say that the Torah implicitly rejects heliocentrism, even though no-one in the times of the Torah (AFAIK) enunciated such a belief?

    25. Dovid Kornreich, the reason why you deserve to be ridiculed is that you reject scholars such as Rav Kook, while you are incapable of even addressing some basic facts about the physical world. Like, why are dinosaur bones and mammoth bones always in different layers of rock? How do geologists make a living by predicting which rock layers contain which elements if it was all a supernatural process which did not follow a naturalistic pattern? Etc., Etc.

    26. RNS, that is not a question. Just because it was a supernatural process doesn't mean it can't follow a naturalistic pattern. And that one can't make a living predicting it. Obviously.

      And just because the traditional approach doesn't answer all your questions about dinosaur bones and geology doesn't mean it deserves to be ridiculed. Guess what? Judaism has far more pressing and serious questions than dinosaur bones.

    27. Just as I said.
      Rabbi Dr. Slifkin was so deeply affected by his interaction with online skeptics who viciously ridiculed traditional Judaism that in order to escape it, he himself has become one who ridicules traditional Judaism -- instead of engaging in honest dialogue. How tragic.

  17. Was wondering what agenda was involved....then I saw the tribute to Slifkin, and wondered no longer...

    1. Imposter! I never call actual Rabbi Drs by their surname.

  18. Sounds like a strong dedicated person, who belongs in a MO community. But I don't really get all her complaints. Sounds like she disagrees with some community values and left. From what I understand most people are happy in the community she left. And, lehavdil from the situation in Israel, it sounds like she was basically given the tools to choose her own path and her community doesn't place a heavy burden on the tax payers. What am I missing?

  19. Hat,

    There is no agenda. What I write is simply true. If not for having read Slifkin's books and all about the ban surrounding them, 1. I may have not been religious at all today. 2. I may have never agreed to marry my husband to whom I owe everything in my life, especially my ability to build a family alongside a career in medicine (more on that in part 4). I don't have to tell you about the misogynistic views the gemara; you know all about them. Even more important for me than reconciling science and Torah, Slifkin's approach allows one to view chazal within the cultural context of their days. Without this, the hurt, pain, and frankly sometimes error (error in describing women based on their characteristics/traits resulting from their enforced place in society rather than innate qualities) of reading how chazal viewed women would have been enough for me to ditch religion. But if you take cultural context into account, chazal were actually very advanced in their views and protection of women. As for my personal life, without Slifkin's dissemination of the rationalist approach, I would have thought my husband was an apikorus when we met. The only thing I get in return from Slifkin here is visibility for my business (in bio) and I'm fully transparent about it. Yes, it's a business, but something I'm very good at and thoroughly enjoy.

    1. Hats != The Hat. I have my ideas about which freelancers may wish to indulge their mania in sockpuppeting me in such a corny way.

    2. Efrat,

      The way you denigrate chazal and talmud demonstrates that you are a haughty fool.

      How much time have you spent trying to understand those "mysognisitic" statements by reading commentaries and speaking it over with people who are experts in talmud? Probably little. I bet there are other reasons for why you developed the hate that you have in yoy.

    3. @Ezra
      A bit like the way you denigrate evolution shows you are a foolish ignoramus.
      I don't need to ask you how much tim you have spend trying to understand it, I know you've just tried with all your might not to understand it.

    4. @Ezra

      People who can't distinguish between criticism and denigatration do not have opinions worth considering.

  20. Dear RNS, you are prominent Rambam fan, aren't you?
    Let's have a look then what Rambam says about the insularity:

    "The human nature is to become similar to his/her respective friends and neighbors and follow customs of his/her country. Therefore everyone shall be a friend of righteous ones... and alienate from sinners/wrongdoers..."
    Source: https://mechon-mamre.org/i/1206.htm
    Who disagrees?
    Of course, the insularity from sinners and wrongdoers has its cost, as well as prohibition of beacon, prohibition of interest rate and practically any commandment. I am sorry :-)

    1. You know that I didn't write this post, right? Having said that, I'm not sure what you're trying to convince me of. Of course insularity has its benefits and non-insularity has its drawbacks. At the same time, are you seriously arguing that Rambam completely insulated himself from non-Jewish culture?!

    2. > You know that I didn't write this post, right?
      Yes, but it's too consistent with ideas you are constantly promoting. BTW if you have a chance to contact that lady again, appreciate if you could forward her the link.
      In general, my impression is that the lady has got little understanding of what authentic Judaism is about (although I would blame her seminary team rather than her for that), so she could find a lot of interesting things in Rambam writings.
      > are you seriously arguing that Rambam completely insulated himself from non-Jewish culture?!
      We all are aware that Rambam did not insulate himself from non-Jewish science, non-Jewish wisdom and, I guess, non-Jewish technology achievements. But I am seriously arguing that Rambam would be happy to insulate himself from non-Jewish community, or, at least, to minimize his contacts with it.
      I am not sure what do you mean with word "culture" here. If culture means music, theater, belletristic literature, then yes: I believe Rambam insulated himself from non-Jewish culture, although hardly completely.
      As for my own daughters, I would urge them to learn in a university remotely, using platforms like Coursera, but would never permit them to learn in any of modern universities with a personal presence.

  21. 'I’m constantly being asked by colleagues, Jewish and non-Jewish, to explain the difference charedi Jews and other observant Jews.'

    Is anybody else 'constantly being asked' to explain the difference? Because I'm not.

    'But you have to wonder about a system that tries to keep you in so tightly because it’s so threatened by outside forces.'

    It's a fact that insularity and isolation is what keeps people in line and allows them to survive. Look at the Amish, the Old Believers, the Charedim. Look at the primitive tribes: the one's killing all strangers survived the longest and some are still around. The purpose of the whole body of the Rabbinical enactments is to preserve the people from assimilating. Still, the majority has fallen away one way or the other. This is all very simple.

    1. "Is anyone else "constantly being asked" to explain the difference. Because I'm not."

      No, you are correct. You caught her in a lie. See my comment below.

    2. Eh, when both are in the same territory, one can be asked. I was not asked "constantly," but I WAS asked when we had chassidish patients "hey how are they different from you?"

    3. OK, I can hear such a question - once.

    4. I was asked occasionally, but not constantly, and there is no difficulty in explaining it. I've never seen it as a problem.

  22. Efrat:
    "Even more important for me than reconciling science and Torah, Slifkin's approach allows one to view chazal within the cultural context of their days. Without this, the hurt, pain, and frankly sometimes error (error in describing women based on their characteristics/traits resulting from their enforced place in society rather than innate qualities) of reading how chazal viewed women would have been enough for me to ditch religion.
    But if you take cultural context into account, chazal were actually very advanced in their views and protection of women."

    I don't see what you've gained with Slifkin's approach. You say you would have rejected Judaism entirely if it would force you to conclude that God's Torah is inherently misogynistic. But now, you can accept Judaism because according to Slifkin, God gave His divine authority to human beings who then corrupted His religion with their culturally absorbed misogyny?
    Either way, Judaism contains profoundly erroneous and misogynistic views and ought to be rejected. Unless you feel you aren't bound by Chazal's authority in principle --since they are only human beings with cultural influences after all--and you can ignore them in any area you feel they introduced their biases and errors.
    Well, you couldn't have made a better argument for Slifkin's critics to explain why his views are beyond the pale.

    (Also, you really don't think the written Torah given by God directly is deeply misogynistic--by your standards? I find that strange. There's lots of inequality against women there too-- without Chazal. Or do you believe Chazal corrupted the written Torah as well and we lost the original text from Sinai?)

    1. "Also, you really don't think the written Torah given by God directly is deeply misogynistic--by your standards? I find that strange. There's lots of inequality against women there too-- without Chazal. Or do you believe Chazal corrupted the written Torah as well and we lost the original text from Sinai?"

      Believes that the written Torah was given according to the misogynistic views of the time, and should be updated according to our superior modern values. Make no mistake, it's this attitude all the way down. That explains how somebody could say that contributing to the economy is more important than shemiras Shabbos. But I guess if that's what it takes to keep some people, uh, observant, then maybe it's worth it.

    2. Happy, I'm asking a serious question and I'd prefer Efrat respond directly before people start opining on how she might respond.

    3. Actually, that argument is made, by others. Rabbi Hertz and others pointed out about 100 years ago (in response to Bible Crticism) that the language of the Torah is similar to the the language of the people at the time in part to highlight the differences. "When an ox gores" was a typical case in ancient law codes, so HKBH phrased His Law similarly, just giving us the Divine ruling. Similarly, there is much in the Torah that seems misogynistic by today's standards (and otherwise negative, in terms of slavery and other things) but by the standards of the day was downright progressive. ESPECIALLY with Torah Sheb'al Peh on top of it.

    4. But that just begs the question: why stick with a religion whose morality is profoundly deficient by today's standards-- with no recourse for updating it since it is inherent in the religion?
      Reform Judaism tries to update it, Conservative Judaism tries to update it. But we all know these updates are not what the God of the Torah intended.

    5. "Actually, that argument is made, by others..." Exactly my point. As DK said, "you couldn't have made a better argument for his critics to explain why his views are beyond the pale".

    6. Dovid Kohnreich: The idea that there is "no recourse for updating it since it is inherent in the religion." There are many recourses for updating it, and it was constantly updated throughout history. Unfortunately, the religion becaem fossilized when the primary avenues for updating it, by means of derashos of the pesukim with the 13 middos, was rendered unavailable due to the cessation of the sanhedrin. But we pray for its renewal.

    7. But that just begs the question: why stick with a religion whose morality is profoundly deficient by today's standards-- with no recourse for updating it since it is inherent in the religion?

      Except the morality of Judaism has changed profoundly since its inception. Even in the Chumash itself we see this bear out as Moshe has to be told, AT THE TIME OF THE INCIDENT, that the בנות צלפחד spoke correctly.

    8. To Yehoshua and Avi:
      You are correct that there are theoretical mechanisms that exist for halacha to evolve. And academics take great pleasure in pointing it out whenever it happens.
      But if the feminist demand is for full equality and anything less is considered immoral, then there simply is no recourse to create that kind of equality.

      The way I see it, biblical Judaism--before Chazal--had three major institutions. 1) Prophesy 2) the Priesthood 3) the court system. Only prophesy is available for women as equals with men. But no woman can perform the temple service (or the equivalent in today's shuls), and no woman can be a judge--especially to create new legislation-- (or the equivalent of rendering a novel psak halacha for a community).

      Now, after the churban, there is no prophesy, so the two remaining institutions are exclusively in the man's domain. There is no way to change the fundamental nature of these two institutions.
      While it's true that women can effectively have their voices heard and concerns addressed (stories of rabbis' wives and daughters influencing their husbands and father are well-known and standard fare--going back to Miriam and Amram) the bottom line remains that the men are "making the rules".
      If this lack of equality is considered inherently immoral, then there is no recourse in Judaism to change that.

    9. It's a bit more complicated than that
      Tosfos Nida 50, and chida CM 7 allow a woman to be Moreh Horaah.
      And this is just in leadership issues. There are many other inequalities. Yet, historically, halacha allowed adjustments. Rabbenu Gershom famously השווה את האשה לאיש. Made 2 takanos to level the playing field. Cannot divorce her against her will, and cannot marry a second wife. Of she is stuck, so is he. No one ran around screaming that he's going against hashkafa. He simply made his move as he saw fit. According to some Amoraim, kusuba is mideraban. All Rishonim pasken that way. That means thst a man's responsibility to his wife was barely anything according to Torah Law, then came Chazal and made it difficult for the man to divorce, שלא תהא קלה בעיניו להוציאה. Woman don't get yerusha, yet a שטר חצי זכר became the basic minhag in Europe.
      100 years ago, Bars Yaakov came to be. Later on the Chofetz Chaim endorsed it. There is something lacking in the whole debate about teaching woman. People forget that according to the halacha it is halachicly forbidden to teach תורה שבכתב, not just the Oral Law. Yet, the chofetz Chaim allowed it as of this is what is necessary to strengthen Judaism then it is allowed. Times had changed. Needs had changed. Why can this not be applied to serious gemara scholarship? If thats that people need to be connected to Judaism, then let it be.

      To say there is no recourse, is a stretch. You don't see a reason for a halachic recourse. That's a different story. And you'd attack the agenda of anyone looking for a halachic recourse (I know I'm projecting here).

    10. Dovid Kornreich: You seem to be missing one simple point: Any halacha derived via the 13 middos can be changed by a Sanhedrin. This includes most of what we consider de'oraysa, so I don't know why you think any of that is immutable. Just as one example among many, there is a derasha in the Sifri of מלך ולא מלכה. There is no reason why a future Sanhedrin would be bound by that derasha.

    11. To KolleL nick:
      Two out of three answers in Tosfos says a woman cannot be a judge. Her rulings have no authority unless the parties involved voluntarily accept her judgment. And the Chidah's source only says she can teach Jewish law--not that she can issue binding rulings on a community which is the point I'm making.
      You are completely correct that historically, halacha has tried to make adjustments in the direction of equality for women, and I am all for those adjustments. I have no principled objection to women learning gemara. (But in practice it has shown to be a disaster.)
      So I would not attack anyone looking for a valid halachic recourse for more equality going through a proper, rigorous process. I just happen to think it is not in the realm of possibility to attain the level of equality demanded by feminists to make it a morally just system in their minds.

    12. To Yehoshua:
      You have a point, but I was working under the assumption that feminists are not going to be placated by the promise of a possible future Sanhedrin to fundamentally change these institutions.
      Ask yourself--If you thought Judaism is currently horribly immoral and unfair to women, would you be willing to wait for a future Sanhedrin to maybe get Judaism up to date? Do you think they are?

    13. Kornreich -
      1. Chidah goes with the 3rd answer as do others.
      2. Practically speaking there is no such thing as mara de'asra today with binding halachic decisions n a community. So this point is moot.
      3. For judgements - an ellected judge would likely suffice as kiblu aleihem. R Herzog thoght so.
      4. To be clear, No one has any objection to woman learning. They get reward. The sugya is all about TEACHING woman.
      5. Why has it been a practical disaster? Who? What? When? Are you going to cite a few failures? I can also cite hundreds of Men that studied gemara and used them in all types of ways. Pretty much any Reform rabbi, or any maskil that came out of Volozhin. Please be clear and show why your disaster is worse.
      6. You say that you are all for the adjustments in in the direction of equality for woman. That would mean that the actual search for a way to equalize on solid halchic grounds is legitimate. No hashkafa interferences. Is that your position? Prenups or even tenai bkidushin, the actual search for a hetter is legitimate. This position is likely to be just as controversial as RNS to many people in your circle. You are accepting that an external, non Torah based ideal, is a legitimate ideal, and we are entitled to search for a way to meet it's demands.
      7. Lastly, if the concept of searching to equalize is legitimate, why does it have to be rejected if it is not 100%? Many spiritual goals are achieved with much less.

      Points 6 and could eanswer your question about why she didnt walk out on Judaism over misogynistic mGemaras

  23. You have one objection to insularity, and you call that a heavy price. What is it? The objective of being a 'light unto the nations'. We abdicate our responsibility to the nations by remaining insular.
    If that is your sole objection and reason that we should change our lifestyle and beliefs, you had better be able to source it well.
    What is this objective of being a 'light unto the nations'? Where does it come from? How was it traditionally treated? How do the halachic and ethical sources deal with it?
    You may find that the entire issue is a mistranslation and a distortion of Torah values. A light unto the nations is what we will be when the world will be changed to ומלאה הארץ דעה את ה' כמים לים מכסים and everyone will seek out better ways of serving Hashem. They will know then that 'boich sevaros' are not the way to find Hashem, the only way is in His Torah, and the nation that accepted the Torah will be the light unto the nations, telling them what Torah says.

    Our insularity in Galus is not a contradiction to the concept and we are not paying a price for it, in terms of 'a light unto the nations'.

    Once your basic premise has disappeared, what is left? Where is the heavy price?

    The insularity with which we live was discussed by many for many generations. Ever since the enlightenment allowed us to participate, we have been grappling with it. Have you read what those who promote insularity wrote? Have you dealt with their sources? Sure, yechidim like RSRH are always quoted, but how about those who disagreed with him, which I dare say are the majority?

  24. The whole idea of addressing Rabbinic leadership on a blog of places!
    If you want to take on incompetent leadership, it starts from those who enable it. Namely organizations and Newspapers that disseminate the message of Rabbinic infallibility.

    Try Agudath Israel of America, Yated etc.

  25. Am I also Ezra? So hard to keep up.

    Reb Dovid, please advise.

  26. Ezra, I can assure you I spent more time than *you* trying to understand, speak with experts (mostly men), and read book about the misogynistic statements in the Gemara. We’re talking on the order of years.

    1. So please, instead of talking in blind prejudiced generalities, be specific. List a whole bunch of statements from chazal that despite years of research and speaking with experts, remains unfathomable.

      I mean, I bet the great Rambam and Rashi and GRA and Marasha, at least one of the greats has something to say on any of the many misogynistic statements that you have pondered over for many years. Millions of faithful spent their lives on Talmud without coming to your conclusion, so I suppose there are very good explanations for what bothers you. Swing for the fences.

    2. "Millions of faithful spent their lives on Talmud without coming to your conclusion, so I suppose there are very good explanations for what bothers you."

      Ezra, millions of scientists spent their lives studying evolution without coming to your conclusion, so I suppose there are very good explanations for what bothers you.

    3. The goal of the evolutionist, is to deny the hand of God. Those who wish not to see the hand of God in life, will not see it. This bias will cause millions of people to look at a rock and think that it is billions of years old. The speculation theory behind evolution is more spectacular and believing in God!

    4. In my life in Yeshivos, I have met many people who have spent 'many' hours 'speaking with experts' about evolution and they are sure that the whole thing is nonsense.
      If you can honestly think that 'speaking to experts' is the answer, you are dealing with things in the most frivolous manner.
      The Gemara isn't a list of facts and laws, it is a lifestyle and it's own way of thinking. If you want to understand it, you have to live it. Speaking to experts doesn't cut it. Sit in front of a Gemara for a few years, really try to understand the conceptual underpinnings of the halachos that are discussed, and then go and ask your questions about misogyny and other beliefs that don't fit with the ephemeral liberal way of thinking in the western world of 2021.

  27. "Speaks out..." Is this supposed to be some sort of expose? There's nothing here that anyone frequenting this blog, charedi or otherwise doesn't already know. Totally stale. Please return to rationalist Judaism and away from failedmessiahish posts.

  28. Bruck can have her opinions, who really cares. I just don't believe a word she says. "I’m constantly being asked by colleagues, Jewish and non-Jewish, to explain the difference charedi Jews and other observant Jews." Really? I've been in the workforce more than twenty five years, always with a yarmulke much more noticeable than a shaitel, and I'm extroverted and approachable. NO ONE has ever asked me that question. Jews already know the difference, and Gentiles either dont care, are not cognizant that there is a difference, or have been trained by liberalthink not to ask any question that someone could perceive as offensive. She claims both Jews AND Gentiles ask her that question, and constantly? I know a lie when I see it.

    1. I've been in the work force over 30 years as a tech in the medical field. I've been asked this many times over the years. I usually explain that in pure religious law we both the orthodox & chasidim follow same codes of Jewish law. The differences are primarily in stringincies& customs.

    2. Anything is possible, sure. But some things have the ring of truth and some things don't. Gentiles are not the same as the guy next to you in shul. Once in a blue moon you'll get an inquisitive guy who wants to know what kosher means, or something like that. But asking the difference between Charedi Jews and "other orthodox Jews", as though they were so aware of the differences? Sorry, not buying it. They just don't ask these questions, certainly not "constantly". And Jews already know the difference, you are not the first religious Jew they've ever met.

  29. Dovid Kornreich, that is a good question, will try to answer it. If I don’t get to it soon it’s because I got busy, not bec I’m trying to ignore.

    1. It's unanswerable if you don't acknowledge the sociological, spiritual, historical and other non intellectual reasons why people are actually religious. If you are a rational literalist the whole edifice crumbles under empirical test.

      That crumbling is why I have said "sheosani kirtzono" since age 17. I would be encourage others to avoid religious practices which are actively harmful to others. As meaningful as religion is for non intellectual reasons, your frumkeit identity cannot come at the expense of women, gays, Gentiles, and everyone else who was born that way.

    2. How is saying שלא עשני אשה harmful to others?

      The frumkeit identity is not really the issue. The Torah forbids homosexual relations. Someone who decides that the Torah doesn't say it, is distorting the facts. You can't claim to be a Torah Jew without accepting this issur as a part of the Torah.
      The Torah doesn't clearly tell us, as individuals, how to treat people who sin and have homosexual relations. That is where religious identity comes in.
      But the acceptance of the halacha is in and of itself discomfiting to gays, and the choice is: Torah or gay people's feelings. I chose Torah, because I think God knows better than me how to act and what is moral, and He clearly gave us this Torah.

    3. We don't have tzitzis out in a graveyard because of loeg larosh. Thanking God each and every morning for not making me a woman - not just for being a man, but for not being a woman - is utterly and dismally demeaning.

      Telling a man who is innately attracted to relationships with men that this huge part of his life will be forbidden on the basis of a literal reading of literature that was, on any rational enquiry basis, written by humans around 2,500 years ago is an unreasonable frumkeit in my opinion.

      Because I hold this opinion I try not to be the 10th person in a minyan out of respect for the beliefs of others.

    4. There are so many proofs of the human authorship of tanach I hardly know where to start. I'll start with the most recent one I noticed. The story of the concubine of Binyomin in Sefer Shoftim, in particular 19:22 is an often verbatim copy of the story of the melachim with Lot in Sefer Bereishis 19:4.

      Humans plagiarise, edit, and create artistic mashups. God does not.

    5. How many Gods do you know that you get to talk for them?

      Your ignorance of scripture and its commentators beggars belief. The idea that two similar stories happened, and the Bible shows us the differences never seemed to have crossed your mind.

      And the difference between the Pentateuch and the other books of the Bible seem also to be above you.

      I don't think the reason you cannot be the 10th man in the Minyan is due to your beliefs, I think there is another factor here.

    6. I guess what we have here is an unfalsifiable hypothesis then. Here is another observation. Chickens, which were introduced by the Romans, are common in Mishnaic literature but do not occur at all in Tanach.

    7. What do chickens have to do with anything? Where should chickens be mentioned in Tanach?
      Tanach isn't a history book, or any science book. Why should it mention some bird species?
      If that is your level of proof, it is quite clear that your refusal to accept Torah min Hashamayim is based on something other than the proof. I don't know what it is, but the proof is simply laughable.

  30. "Among my non-charedi religious friends who went to medical school, every single one left medical school at the exact level of observance with which they entered. Something to think about."

    In my experience that happens when there's a solid commitment to Frumkeit stemming from learning and enthusiasm in it and by contrast when it's all in reverse the concessions to the secular world don't change anything as far as their staying Frum. This is an average. People don't usually stay religious or not for philosophical reasons.

    1. Also, the support group matters. While I won't discount the existence of frum trailblazers in new institutions or new locales, the importance of having friends and family nearby with whom one can be oneself - by which I mean be one's original frum self - cannot be overstated.

  31. The Torah is here to teach us how to live in this world.

    The Rishonim that believed that Chazal relied on the science of their times explain their position. The Torah is not a science book, it is a lesson of morals, ethics, laws and how to serve Hashem. It's content is primarily to teach us Jewish law, but also the mussar necessary to become a better person and how to earn Olam Haba. The science is secondary, and they taught us the laws regarding the science they knew.
    You can say that you reject the science Chazal used and still be an Orthodox Jew, because the point of Chazal is not their science, they learned that from other sources. (At least according to those Rishonim)
    I have no problem with that.
    But the idea that the morals and ethics of Chazal are a product of their times has nothing to do with that. Chazal are here to teach us morals. If you claim that their morals are irrelevant, they can be waved away with claims of 'human rights' 'equality' 'fairness' and other current humanist mores, then you are basically waving away the authority of Chazal and Shas.
    There is no way you can claim that you reject the morals of Chazal and are still an Orthodox Jew.

    1. “...But the idea that the morals and ethics of Chazal are a product of their times has nothing to do with that. Chazal are here to teach us morals. If you claim that their morals are irrelevant, they can be waved away with claims of 'human rights' 'equality' 'fairness' and other current humanist mores, then you are basically waving away the authority of Chazal and Shas...”

      Yes, as someone who studied in a yeshiva for the first 18 years of my life, that’s basically what I’ve done - I’ve concluded that other than humanistic considerations, Chazal and Shas have no authority. I was fortunate that the Yeshiva I attended gave me a good secular education and had the academic tools to determine the veracity of Chazal and Shas instruction. I started having my doubts after I graduated high school and it wasn’t all that easy to uncover all the inconsistencies, contradictions and scientific fictions replete in Chazal and Shas. Today, however, all you need is a Smartphone and internet. That’s why banning smartphones and secular studies beyond the 4th grade is verboten in many Chareidi yeshivas.
      One of their biggest whoppers is Yevamot 98b on twins and sperm that splits in two. I’m not going to go into detail out of respect for Rav Slifkin, whom I greatly respect. But if they got all that science wrong for whatever reason, why should I believe any of their unfalsifiable mandates and prohibitions?

    2. Uriah's Wife - then your opinion isn't important over here. The author of this series of articles would like you to believe that Orthodox Jewish belief and current western mores are compatible. That is impossible.
      I personally reject current western mores because of that. But if you reject Orthodox Judaism because of it, you cannot purport to speak for Orthodox Judaism.

      Btw, your comparison of science to prohibitions is quite specious. If Chazal were truly relying on the science of the time for their halachos, what is the issue? What does science, in which they weren't experts, have to do with the halachic decisions, about which they were experts?

  32. "But you have to wonder about a system that tries to keep you in so tightly because it’s so threatened by outside forces."

    From JFK's Ich Bin Ein Berliner speech: "Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us."

    A secure, confident belief system is willing to allow its adherents to be exposed to other systems, which exposure and contrast with their belief system strengthens their commitment by demonstrating the superiority of their system (and/or inferiority of other systems).

    1. Rambam says otherwise at length in the first half of the second perek of hilchos a"z.

  33. If Efrat is a married woman, perhaps she should explain the nature of her picture without any sort of hair covering.

    1. She's not in a reshus harabim

    2. Pictures don't require hair covering.

    3. That really does look like a wig to me. Whatever happened to דן לכף זכות? Your comment comes across as downright mean-spirited.

    4. The doctor clarified below that she IS wearing a sheitel. That's good in more ways than one, but as pertains to these comments, it makes them less emotional since no one is on the defensive.

      So more in the abstract, Avi, I don't think photos are different. Even clothing without the person present has its laws. And koillel nick, if we can assume photos aren't different, then if a non-sheiteled photo is taken in rh"y, and you print 3 copies, one hangs in the rh"y itself, one in rh"r and one in bais acheirim, would there be an allowance for each of them? Also may an actual woman take off the sheitel when she is in bais acheirim? I quickly tried e"h 115 for the last question but didn't find anything.

  34. Mates, Hat is obviously a troll. Maybe it's time to stop wasting time on him?

  35. Like it or not, she is expressing her experience, which is valid for her, and similar to that of others I know. Scientific ideas change with new knowledge. Torah values are forever.

    I Hear You Dr. Bruck!
    Insulation brings some folks frustration
    Alienation, isolation
    Education brings Illumination,
    A sensation of gratification
    Things make more sense, we feel elation
    Curiosity, not condemnation
    Readjustment, accommodation
    To a wondrous view of G-d’s creation
    An expanded, awe-filled variation
    A splendor-laden explanation
    Not a “kochi v’otzem yadi” ovation, but
    Mah na-avu ma-asecha, Hashem!
    Hashem invites our participation
    May He help us to be His cherished nation.

    1. Is it just me or did anyone else read that as a hip-hop rap song like the ones from 'Hamilton'?
      Man, the culture is really getting to me.

  36. Rivka,

    I’m wearing a wig in that picture. Would you like the number of the place I got it? Of all the snarky comments here, yours takes the cake.

  37. As a Charedi, I sometimes think to myself that perhaps my lifestyle is wrong, perhaps I am doing more out of comfort than out of conviction, perhaps those convictions are not based on sources. After all, some smart people concluded differently from the same sources. I guess most people, whatever their walk of life, have these kinds of thoughts.
    I don't mind reading things that contradict my upbringing and society, but I draw the line at Kefira, because Halacha is Halacha, and the Rambam is quite clear about the issur.
    When I sometimes stumble across the kefira claims of those who left Torah, I get a chizuk. I see how weak and frivolous their claims are, based on unfounded premises or circular logic, and although that is not in and of itself proof, it removes the question, "why isn't it obvious to all?" When people don't want to actually spend the time and effort to really figure out what is the best way to live, they will come out with strange ideas. The fig leaf of 'speaking to many Rabbis' helps them assuage their own consciences (barely, in many cases), but truth is not served at all.

    The comments here are a chizuk to someone who wants to stay Charedi. I just need to figure out how to do something about coronavirus.

    1. The issue in your approach is attaining the expertise to be able to identify the "unfounded premises" and "circular logic" that are the sign of weak or frivolous claims.

      I could point to our discussion about human chromosome 2 above as an example.

    2. Anyone can see that the last person to consider their opinion on a chareidi, or even a dati lifestyle is someone who has left Torah - are they going to say "yes, Torah is the truth and the chareidim are right - I've just submitted to my yetzer harah and chosen an easier path....."??
      Everyone wants to present themselves as the most intelligent, the most learned, the most ethical - and take the attitude of of moral superiority, and the only way to do so when they have abandoned the lifestyle which is generally accepted (by people with no axe to grind) as producing morally better people - is to badmouth it and its adherents.

    3. I think that's a fair point and I apologise for pointlessly arguing theology with you in a way that was bound to cause fruitless offence.

      The only occasion I insist on strict historicity is when it concerns others.

      I am sure you will treat a gay man with dignity, and I owe you equal treatment in respect of your religious beliefs.

    4. Joe Q - your claims about the 'prediction' of chromosomes, when nothing predicted actually happened, is one of my points.
      You did not predict something at all, you predicted that you would find proof of something that actually happened.
      I know nothing about the topic, and that is why I don't base my beliefs on it. I just saw the sheker in your argument, where you redefined the word 'predict' for your own purposes.
      It is that sheker that gives me chizuk.

  38. Rivka
    You should be deeply, deeply ashamed. And apologise.
    Just as well you're anonymous isn't it. Unlike Dr Bruck.

    1. Comes to demonstrate some of the issues involved with women being a public spectacle. Devorah the prophetes, specifically met people under a date palm i.e. a open public place so as not to draw chashad. If you put your picture in public, expect to be suspected of violating tznius rules.

    2. You are making a public spectacle of yourself, Rivka.

    3. Rivka: You are one nasty piece. You baselessly accuse someone of acting improperly, and when called out on it, you blame the person you slandered. You can be a case study in hilchos Shemiras Halashon and ona'as devarim.

    4. Typical misogynists', "Yehoshua" and "Mevaseritization." What's the matter - afraid of a woman speaking? She's crashing your little party here? I didn't see any of you attacking male commenters like "the hat". Pathetic. She's 100% right.

    5. Just for the record, I don't believe the individual operating "Rivka" is a female.

    6. Mean-spirited. Personally, I find it hard to understand why Rivka refuses to simply apologize and say she was mistaken.

    7. Rivka - your comment was wrong, nasty, and counter-productive.

      And I wonder about the issur of לא ילבש when a man uses a woman's name online.

  39. Remarkable. You make an public but unfounded accusation of lack of fidelity to halacha from a position of comfortable anonymity, but no attempt to reflect on that and make amends. No awareness of the prohibitions you yourself break by public shaming and making false accusations (did you even think to ask whether your public accusations were appropriate?). Just obfuscation, self-justification, and posturing. But that's all ok, because she posted a (tzanua) picture.
    The minimum you could is apologise. Your upcoming Yom Kippur is going to be a pointless facade otherwise, from a purely halachic point of view.

    1. Utterly unremarkable.

      Even before the internet Rabbis almost never backed down, and instead performatively escalated.

      I've never seen Reb Moshe change his opinions in response to a wide consensus he was wrong, for example, about abortion. The Get of Cleves incident was dominated by pure ego. Rabbi JB Soloveitchik got embroiled in a fight over kashrus revenue with local Chicago Rabbis.

      Rabbeinu Yona admitting he was wrong about the Rambam; and the Rambam admitting he was wrong in various teshuvos - that's actually remarkable by historical standards.

    2. Rav Soloveitchik didn't live in Chicago.

    3. I believe the term for that is whataboutery, in this case particularly irrelevant.
      Do you think that the response of halachic authorities to criticism, however well founded, of their considered halachic opinion, is comparable to the above?
      That said, if only the ridiculous and shameful comments above were as remarkable as they should be.

    4. Absolutely not whatabouttery. It was an observation, not moral comment. I do absolutely think that the most cantankerous Rabbinic controversies are driven by ego and vested interest: certainly the controversies of a self described "Professional Troll" (from Rivka's bio. I, incidentally, am a mere amateur).

      Nachum - correction accepted, I should have said Boston. My information from https://rabbidunner.com/treasures-from-the-rabbis-library-season-2-episode-3/

    5. So The Hat knows the motivations of people from hundreds of years ago. Amazing!
      And he knows that Reb Moshe should have changed his mind because of consensus. How original! Because that's how things get done. By consensus!
      The arrogant ignorance beggars belief.

  40. I think that many in Haredi leadership are quite aware of the trade offs of their insularity. Sure, many good intelligent young persons will be forced to abandon the community and perhaps orthodoxy altogether. But on the other hand, there is good retention amongst the yeshiva elite. With high birth rates, it is OK to lose a certain percentage to attrition. Mah l'asot?

  41. Anyone know if wearing a wig down to one's elbows is modest or is it perhaps showy and attention drawing?

    1. Obviously a hijab or a scarf is a modest covering. Wigs are hard to see as being modest, but my approach has always been to leave it to the women, not something that I need to be involved in. As a whole the life style is superior, regardless.

    2. Also, and this is quite funny, her wig is no different that what's worn in the Charedi society, so why she of all people has to be attacked for it is bizarre.

    3. Mr. Rivka, enough insinuations.

  42. Why do the best of Doctors go to gehinom? Does it have to do with haughtiness i.e. thinking they know better than everyone else? Does it have to do with with negating God, in his role of running the world?
    Do Doctors really heal, or are they just messengers of God, much like farmers who sow, but don't actually create the plants that grow?

    1. Perhaps the phrase 'טוב שברופאים לגיהנום' is suggesting that some traits which are beneficial in the practice of medicine would not be so otherwise. Doctors sometimes need to try to override a patient’s short term anxiety for their long term benefit, especially to give them the psychological strength for a better chance to pull through. This can be done through verbal coercion, even lying if necessary. Examples, “this won’t hurt” , “if you don’t get this procedure you won’t be alive next year” or “don’t worry, you’re strong and will make it”.

      But if used outside of medicine, lying, coercion and posture as knowing-better aka arrogance, become negative - e.g. “I’m telling you, this stock will only go up!”

    2. Why do anonymous internet commentators go to Gehinom? Does it have to do with breaking all boundaries of acceptable interaction due the to lack of social consequences? Does it have to do with haughtiness ie thinking they can publicly judge other people's observance of Judaism?

    3. It is worth remembering that the passuk of "cochi v'Otzem yadi" does not end with a command that one should remember that God does everything, rather with a command to remember the "God gives you the ability to produce wealth" It is a warning against arrogance, not a license to disparage the efforts and accomplishments of those who do things in the world, whether doctors or farmers.

    4. I think of the case of Charlie Gard in connection with this Talmudic phrase.


      I actually happen to think the recent Fixler tragedy is correctly decided because the poor child suffers painful convulsions when touched and the parent's medical experts didn't dispute this finding.

      Charlie Gard, however, could conceivably have been saved if the doctors had acted with more alacrity in providing experimental but cheap and somewhat effective therapy.

    5. I'd point out that the medicine of ancient times was mostly wrong and lots of it was harmful. Modern medicine is an entirely different beast and it's a very recent phenomenon.

      I'm curious though why "Rivka" brings this up wrt to Dr. Bruck. Does "Rivka" say this about all physicians?

    6. I'd point out that the medicine of ancient times was mostly wrong and lots of it was harmful. Modern medicine is an entirely different beast and it's a very recent phenomenon.

      I'm curious though why "Rivka" brings this up wrt to Dr. Bruck. Does "Rivka" say this about all physicians?

  43. "Why do the best of Doctors go to gehinom?"

    There are different opinions on what the phrase means, but one can extract a general consensus.

    "Does it have to do with with negating God..."
    According to most interpretations, no. Why would doctors be more likely to deny God than other professionals? Like lawyers or accountants?

    It's not about arrogance, per se- because why should arrogance be any more applicable to doctors than other professions?

    Basically the interpretations can be summed as follows:
    1) Doctors should be extra careful and diligent because life and death is in their hands. They should consult with their peers, exercise caution and diligence & not make rushed uninformed decisions. Here, arrogance indeeds becomes a sin equivalent to שפיכת דמים. But it's not about arrogance itself, it's about the price of such arrogance.
    2) As such, doctors should always have a vision of gehinom in front of their mind's eye- to ensure their vigilance & prevent negligence. Thus, the doctors who always see themselves at the "gates of hell" because they take their responsibility seriously & professionally are the "best of doctors".

  44. I've been told, there have been incidents of modern Orthodox women, masquerading as chareidi women.


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