Discover more from Rationalist Judaism
The Day The World Changed
Whoops! It's so embarrassing to miss an important anniversary.
Yesterday was the 6th of Tishrei, which was the sixth anniversary of the day that I received that fateful call from Bnei Brak warning me to retract my books or face scandal and humiliation. At the time, people told me that the whole thing would blow over very soon. Little did we realize that it would rage for nearly two years and have permanent effects.
The Science, Torah and Rabbis Controversy (STARC) was a much bigger deal than the controversy over Making Of A Godol, the controversy over One People Two Worlds, and even the controversy over the Lipa Concert (which, to my mind, was far more egregious). The reason for for this was that STARC went much further than just a ban on three books or a condemnation of one person. First of all, it was a ban on views held by thousands of people, not just me. Second, it was a War of the Worlds, a clash of cultures that involved so many issues. It wasn't just about dinosaurs, evolution or the validity of a few statements in the Talmud. It was about the nature of Chazal and our relationship to them, the definition of Gedolim and our allegiance to them, the way in which contemporary rabbinic authority functions, the way in which the Internet affects Orthodox Jewish society, our relationship to science, and fundamentally different worldviews regarding how knowledge is acquired. It took me years to realize that the differences were so fundamental and far-reaching, and that it was truly the case that every single page of my books was unacceptable to my distinguished opponents.
I personally know of many dozens of people who distanced themselves from the charedi world to a lesser or greater extent as a result of STARC, and there are doubtless many more. The ramifications of STARC are still appearing, in all kinds of ways. I therefore don't think that it's "wasteful bringing up of the past" to further explore the issues surrounding STARC, and I plan to do so in future posts. Meanwhile, don't forget that a vast collection of documents relating to STARC can be found at this link.