Discover more from Rationalist Judaism
Happy Fifth Anniversay
Five years ago today, three days before Yom Yippur, I received the infamous phone call from Bnei Brak telling me that I had until the end of the day to retract three of my books and publicly apologize or face scandal and humiliation. There's been a lot of water under the bridge since then! I have learned so much about theology, Jewish history and sociology.
I was looking back at my emails and here's one that I sent to R. Gil Student that day. There are some aspects of it that today are quite amusing!
THIS EMAIL IS IN STRICT CONFIDENCE!!!
No, I haven’t been put in cherem. But three of my books have! By some rabbanim, mostly in Israel, that I had never even heard of. Apparently this has been brewing for a while. The letters speak of the terrible kefirah in my books, and give an example, that I speak of the world being millions of years old... My Rav told me to tell them that it is absolutely ossur to condemn someone without meeting them and discussing it with them. If they'll show me where I wrote something wrong, of course I'll change it, my website is full of corrections to my books. On the other hand, with regard to things such as the "heresy" of saying that the world is millions of years old, I might be able to show them some sources that might change their mind (Rav Aryeh Carmell was making efforts to phone them). But 3 of them refused to meet with me (actually one initially agreed but then later mysteriously changed his mind), and the fourth is so far unreachable by phone. One of the letters stated that the rabbanim who gave haskamos to the books have retracted them. So I called them all up to check, and it was absolutely not true! None of them had retracted their haskamos, nor will they do so! I couldn't believe what a lie they wrote. I told them and they said they would take that line out. It might have been better left in, to later expose them.
I'm told that there are some really driven kana'im behind this, apparently the same team that went after Making of A Godol. Most rabbanim have been telling me to pretty much ignore it and just do some limited damage control. I discussed it with R' Shmuel Kamenetzky and he said to ignore it, but that a letter from R' Wolbe might help. So I contacted a close talmid of Rav Wolbe, only to be told that Rav Wolbe has been senile for a while and is now being manipulated.... what a sad world.
Anyway, I would really appreciate it if you didn't blog this. (a), I don't really want all the publicity yet. (b), it makes the charedi world look extremely foolish, or evil, - again! If at some stage you do decide to blog it, I would appreciate it if you would discuss the text with me first. All my rebbe'im said that it should be allowed to just blow over.
PS Please keep this email in strict confidence, ok?