103 Comments

Your poll needed a 3rd option: "Sometimes, in very extreme cases". Never say never.

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Thanks for addressing the question of why you put up with such ugly expressions of hostility against you on your own site. Your explanation only confirms and amplifies my respect for you. Keep up the good work!

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my thoughts exactly

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I concur 100%

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Great post.

I guess it's all part of the rough and tumble of the world.

Are you going to convince anyone?

Maybe not. But what this Blog, and others like it, have done in the last few years is coalesce opinion across the World, so that those thinking along the same or similar lines to you, are becoming aware that they are not the only one with such a view.

Since you refer to Sharks in the title of your post, I couldn't resist the urge to mention what I recently heard on UK Radio about a Biodiversity Study on identifying different types of Sharks in waters around the UK:

"So far, we have identified 3 types of Sharks, the Dog Shark, the Ray, and I think we need a bigger boat".

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What a joke to call your detractors sharks, as if to say, they attack without provocation. Oh no! they said something mean! (Like, you don't? YOU do it all the time.)

Most orthodox Jews readily see through your scam. You attacked traditional Judaism in a base way, and you got what you deserved. Saddest part is you were never man enough to own up to it. Call the rest of us (or the smart ones at least) sharks, pigs or doves. You continually post silliness so that you don't go lost into who-cares-land, and you get what you rightly deserve.

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Reading comprehension much? A reader made the shark comparison, not R. Slifkin.

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Breaking!! See the response to this post and the last here!

https://irrationalistmodoxism.substack.com/p/gourmet-shark-food

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Yes, read your long response.

As per your previous comments here, and that of "happygolucky", I cannot see that you have added anything to the סוגיא being discussed. None of the sources in the footnotes there support your contention.

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Uh, did you look what the footnotes were going on? Sorry if you have trouble following these things. And if you want to see where I dealt with all the nitty-grittys of Natan's 'theory', see the comments in this post:

https://www.rationalistjudaism.com/p/defying-chazal-is-not-holy/comment/11413136

And as for Natan's main point in his latest post, see hgl's last footnote.

https://irrationalistmodoxism.substack.com/p/gourmet-shark-food#footnote-3-97335559

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In the words of Abraham Lincoln:

“If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how – the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what’s said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.”

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"It demonstrates that these people either represent a culture that doesn’t care much about bein adam l’chavero, or that they are extraordinarily triggered by what I write - which likely means that they are insecure about their own positions and perhaps deep down they fear that I am correct."

Allow me to apprise you of some other possible reasons that bring these commenters:

1. Being that this blog, even by the admission of its host, is dedicated to vitriol and slander against an entire community, it's only natural that people from said community will come and fight back. So, I know you like to play victim (as you've been a victim in the past), but here you are in fact the aggressor and that's just the nature of the beast. People don't just roll with the punches. And for all those decent 'respectable rationalists' who are so 'horrified' by the comments section, well I guess for some reason they consider the irrationally obsessive hate-filled posts to be normal and they are just as hypocritical. I don't really frequent social media, but the behavior here seems to be the epitome of what is defined as 'woke.' Non-stop assault on traditional society and its values (or in this case traditional Torah observant Jewry), and then snowflake outrage when members of said society fight back. It's like collective narcissism.

2. The hope of showing your cool-aid drinkers the fallacy and duplicitousness of some of your arguments. For the more earnest sharks that hope is stronger and for the more cynical it's a little more jaded, but they all have at least a glimmer of hope. The problem is that in a shark tank (and these guys are not the only sharks) you can't be the nice guy, or you'll get eaten alive. But I personally still try to refrain from unprovoked ad hominem attacks.

As far as me calling you a Soneh Torah U'mitzvos, well, the context was that I was telling you that if you really hate supporting Torah learning as you were saying (despite the tremendous zechus and value that Chazal ascribe to doing so) then I agree that you should not be doing it. So maybe you're not really a Soneh Torah U'mitzvos and are just pretending to be one? If so, I do apologize!

Finally, I agree it's time to ban me. What started as an outlet and some r&r for a guy who likes to argue (and even does so for a living) has devolved into a part-time job and is taking WAAYYY too much of my time.

Adios, amigos! (hopefully)

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author

"this blog, even by the admission of its host, is dedicated to vitriol and slander against an entire community" That's what I mean by misrepresenting me. I do not admit any such thing.

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WOAHHH! I just voted (yes, of course) but it seems I am winning you 76%-24%!!! Don't worry, if I win you can always pull an Elon Musk and say 'na na na kishkes, I'm banning you anyways!'

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Natan, you ought to start a PAC. I think Jeffrey will be happy to fundraise for it!

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Lol, are you Avigdor Miller's ghostwriter or something? Seriously though, you're not helping your case here . . .

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Yeah, I'm thinking of going Kanye West and doing a vitriol binge to see for how long I can defy nature. I'm from the 'mystic' camp after all!

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More garbage.

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???

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My wife says she also votes yes, just she doesn't have a substack account. So you can manually add it.

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Sorry. "Constructive" criticism. Obsessively.

https://www.rationalistjudaism.com/p/the-project-list/comment/11907641

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I just commented there. עין שם.

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Re paragraph 1 - I made the same point before I read this. Yes. Someone should do a study of how the left feels its acceptable for them to name call and hurl insults at everyone under the sun, and then believe themselves victimized when someone has the temerity to actually push back. I would think it's just a deflection tactic, but something tells me they actually think this way. Is it a function of the media being so one-sided that they actually have grown to think themselves immune? Do they really not see the other point of view? What's the pshat?

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Mekharker,

Wow, did you just seriously in that same comment state that a) you argue "for a living" and b) you "still try to refrain from unprovoked ad hominem attacks"?

In actuality, you make ad hominem attacks on over One Hundred Thousand Modern Orthodox Jews (and I would venture you have never met or spoken with a huge percentage of them):

just 3 days ago I pointed out a few examples of your recent attacks, just from the last 2-3 weeks, on these thousands of Jewish people you don't know:

“It's the "shita" of MODOX that's "fake". Most of its adherents are undereducated and just don't know any better.”

“The only evil ones are the MODOX leaders”

“ the vast majority of MODOX society are completely careless and clueless! ”

To RNS “ The fact of the matter is, the ignorance in Torah in the community to which you belong is astounding.”

“ you guys are at large clueless about the most basic things”

“That's the nice thing about being MODOX. You can make up whatever the heck you want. Ignorance is bliss.”

And you responded: "I stand by all the things that I wrote above."

I thought only Kindergarteners argue by insulting people they don't know, haven't met, and never spoke to. Are you a professional Kindergartener?

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Jeffrey, I told you already to start a PAC to vote me out!

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unless you are actually in Kindergarten, you should be able to put in place and utilize appropriate filters because you understand that you can't possibly draw or express (with reasonable expectations of accuracy) such sweeping, indiscriminate conclusions about people you don't know, haven't spoken, and never met. I don't think any bans are necessary.

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Come on, Jeff. I know it's sometimes hard for you to follow our back-and-forths but we've been through this one a bunch of times already. Again, I NEVER said that I am talking about ALL MODOX. In fact, I've been pretty clear many times that I recognize that there are good MODOX people out there. I have a relative who is a right-wing MODOX rabbi and a great guy - talmid chacham, yarei shamayim and medakdek b'mitzvos. And I've given the example of R' Hershel Shachter, Avi Maoz and Betzalel Smotrich as high-profile people from the MODOX/DL camp who are medakdekim b'mitzvos and good Jews. I'm talking about the MODOX in general, exactly the same way that Natan makes sweeping generalizations about Charedim while he knows that there are many exceptions.

For more info, see this post:

https://www.rationalistjudaism.com/p/generalizations-about-generalizations

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Come on, Mekharker.

You know as well as I do that it is absolutely no better to say:

" the vast majority of MODOX society [other than a relative of mine, R. Hershel Shachter, Avi Maoz, and Betzalel Smotrich] are completely careless and clueless!"

or "The fact of the matter is, the ignorance in Torah in the community to which you belong [other than a relative of mine, R. Hershel Shachter, Avi Maoz, and Betzalel Smotrich] is astounding.”

With regards to what RNS does (in most instances) is he talks about the shita, the hashkafa of the Chareidi community; not so much about the individual qualities or characteristics of Chareidim. This is actually why, I specifically left off from the above list of your insulting comments the following (which was on the list from 3 days ago): "The difference between MODOX and all the mesoros (and what makes it similar to the Conservative and the Reform) is that it's attempting to UNDO Judaism through ignorance and apathy by design.” because although incorrect, it is (at least on the surface) an attack on the Modern Orthodox Hashkafa, not on qualities of individual (or even groups of) Modern Orthodox Jews whom you don't know.

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I seriously don't get what's so hard to understand! Natan makes generalizations about 'Charedim' all the time!! He does not mean everyone. I wrote that those people above are EXAMPLES. Not that they are the only ones! Do you know what "examples" means? Google gives the words specimen, sample, instance, case, representative case, typical case, case in point and illustration as synonyms. Yes, I know there are others, but I was giving those people as EXAMPLES! Got it now?

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Jeffrey,

I totally agree.

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C'mon, we all know that this is because you were totally slaughtered in the comments section of your halachic so-called "analysis" of kollel. Neither Mecharker nor I are "vicious", nor do we engage in ad hominems. Rather, we calmly and patiently expose the disinformation and ignorance of your terribly misguided posts, frequently with a much needed dose of humor. True, many times we expose your kefira, but I don't recall labeling you a "kofer", and certainly not an ugly one! You are as handsome as handsome can be. And many times, I complement you for your good posts. So banning is totally uncalled for.

By the way, was the "rabbinic couple" also horrified by your posts legitimizing hatred of Chareidim? Were they horrified by your taking advantage of the tragedy in Meron to attack the entire Chareidi society, even before the shiva was over? Or were they totally fine with that?

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"Rather, we calmly and patiently expose the disinformation and ignorance of your terribly misguided posts, frequently with a much needed dose of humor." Well, there was certainly plenty of humor in that sentence alone!

"Were they horrified by your taking advantage of the tragedy in Meron to attack the entire Chareidi society, even before the shiva was over?" I don't know. Perhaps, like numerous people in the charedi world, they acknowledge the obvious fact that the tragedy was a predictable result of the charedi approach to things.

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4 million people crush together in Buenos Aires to celebrate a world cup win and no one had a problem, but when a few thousand charedim get together in Meron like they do every single year with no problems, then its "predictable.:

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Mass events are inherently extremely dangerous. That's why developed countries now have very, very strict protocols about how to have such events. In Meron, the askanim and politicians ensured that it didn't have to abide by the standard protocols.

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Well that's it, we didn't need an investigation at all.

It's simple, or maybe you are.

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"No! You need to fear being bitten" - doesn't seem to represent the "No" answer in the poll. Its more like - No! You don't need to ban them. You do NOT need to fear being bitten.

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I had the same thought. I think it was a Freudian slip.

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I object to your comparison of your haters to sharks. Sharks are lovely, intelligent creatures who probably make excellent company.

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As Yackums Jan 17 pointed out, "A *reader* made the shark comparison, not R. Slifkin." But now Moshe Jan 17 has your company.

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I'm a regular reader, but I receive alerts through the RSS feed rather than subscribing by email. So I can't vote in the poll - but put me down on the "no" side.

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I totally agree with your reasons. I think reasonable discussion about difficult subjects is vital to healthy relationships. As soon as your interlocutor feels that there is no point to discussion relationship breaks down and extremism ensues. A big problem in Israeli and world politics today. Keep up the good work!

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Breaking News:

Man accuses a whole segment of Jewish society of being the worst thing to happen to Judaism. Then he gets upset when members of group argue back.

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Jan 19, 2023·edited Jan 19, 2023

@Rabbi & cc @your distinguished shabbos guests who will no doubt read this comment:

1- This post, and the Shabbos conversation that prompted it, are based on a logical fallacy. That being that you and your guests ARE HUMAN. A short while ago I told someone praises of his son and he brightened and gave a huge smile. But on another occasion I praised to him someone unrelated and there was no emotional rush. My praise hardly registered at all. Where's the even-handedness? But that's HUMAN nature, to feel happy/sad/etc. only in regards those that you're close to.

Your guests have a friendly and loving relationship to you. It bothers them so much that you're attacked. Why is there no mention of how commenters attack each other? Why is there no mention of people siding WITH YOU on whatever point, lacing in to YOUR OPPOSITION? Because your guests aren't acquainted with them and it's HUMAN not to care about the distant. But it isn't evenhanded. Are you prepared to ban your supporters if they speak viciously? Are you prepared to ban people commenting tangentially who speak viciously? (That would be after you and/or your guests first notice it.) Where would it end, and why should it end?

2- It's also safe to assume that your guests are ideologically close to you. Say you say that X is a myth. Your guests also think so. Comes a commenter and starts yelling. Think your guests, what's he getting excited about? How vicious. While the commenter adjusts the volume as requisite for blasphemy. Are your guests seeing things from both sides?

3- A leading Rosh Yeshiva from prewar Europe said that the various expressions of the Raavad in his glosses are precisely measured to express how incorrect, in his opinion, Rambam is. Is nothing ever worth a scream? Besides, in Yeshivahs it is accepted and expected that there should be screaming. (I'm not defending particular instances, just the idea in general.)

4- Arguments naturally escalate, (as does violence). I recommend people spend a few minutes each and every day with their spouses gently telling them their faults and their relatives' faults. Or that they/the relatives are basically good but let's not get carried away and think that they're special. Being soooo careful to stick to the truth. There won't be a kickback with (unfair!!) harsher language?

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If you were thickskinned you wouldn't want revenge. Instead of viewing the Chareidim as the enemy you could have those who went against you alone be as they alone were. The fact that they could not get the Chareidim to be wall to wall against you (and I know that for a fact) is already the revenge as their goal was frustrated. You develop a thicker skin having revenge be considered mission accomplished and then going on from there. Everyone can be a work in progress on this score but it has to be tried because assuredly you will otherwise need revenge forever as you develop more and more rivalries that by now have gone beyond the Chareidi-you divide. Also making a distinction between personal and sharp philosophical disagreement is important.

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Revenge? I am always fascinated at how some people seek to reassure themselves that the only possible reason that I could be critical of charedi society is because I was personally hurt by the ban on my books. As if there aren't countless people, both in and out of the charedi world, who share the exact same criticisms.

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Do you perceive yourself as seeking revenge? Have you tried to be less sensitive about yourself?

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True, other people (myself often included) also have similar criticism of Charedim, but given your frequent references to it, a fair-minded observers would conclude that your history prevents you from proper judgment. If you were a Judge in any case involving a charedi, you would have to recuse yourself, and no lawyer would ever let you get past voir dire.

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Criticism is ok. Most MODOX have critical opinions about Chareidim and the same vice versa. I think what people laugh at is your OBSESSION about Chareidim. I don't think there are too many 'rational' ways to explain it!😉

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"Most"?

Most people have different opinions.

Some people dislike those who feel the need to group people.

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No. I can see you being critical of the Chareidi community and others too being of it. I'm not Chareidi. I have my critiques too and so do people who lead the Chareidi communities.

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"As if there aren't countless people, both in and out of the charedi world, who share the exact same criticisms."

Criticisms yes. The exact same criticisms? Perhaps if you didn't come up with anything original.

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Many people have told you in comments that they like your blog but don't like the attacking which they felt is you wanting to give back to those who attacked you and therefore Chareidim. By now as I said your revenge is beyond the Chareidi - you divide.

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Do what you want and God bless.

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Jan 18, 2023·edited Jan 18, 2023

"Do what you want and G-d bless."

I strongly disagree with this statement. This is not Yiddishkeit.

Yiddishkeit is: Do what Hashem wants and is pleasing to Him, and He will bless you.

If in doubt, just open the שלחן ערוך.

E.g. אורח חיים ס' קנ"ו about what to do after davening שחרית and setting aside some time to learn.

אח"כ ילך לעסקיו דכל תורה שאין עמה מלאכה סופה בטלה וגוררת עון כי העוני יעבירנו על דעת קונו.

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If you read RNS's ספרים, you will be pleasantly surprised, as I was, by the depth and wide-ranging collection of מראה מקומות that he brings to his discussions of various סוגיות. The perception of his vitriolic criticism, as perceived by some readers of his blogs, is completely blown away in his ספרים. The perception that he is just a lowly curator of a zoo is mis-leading.

It is also apparent that he presents a range of opinions on the subjects he discusses. Often, these opinions are diametrically opposed to each other.

What is also apparent to me is that he does not necessarily feel that he is discussing a subject with a view to supporting his preconceived opinion. Instead, he comes across as someone who is open-minded and willing to change his opinion after further research. Such is the way of writing of the מחברים of שו"ת.

In my little experience of knowing some contemporary פוסקים, they not only prefer to Pasken by quoting directly from an earlier פוסק, but where this is not found, they are excited to find long תשובות that they can use to understand the principles behind פסקים on similar שאלות. Just seeing the text of a פסק, without seeing the reasoning behind it, gives a very shallow understanding for that פסק.

ב"ה, nowadays, we are more and more blessed with the availability of שו"ת Seforim from previous generations, which helps to enrich our understanding of the הלכות.

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Jan 17, 2023·edited Jan 17, 2023

Problem is not rationalists vs non-rationalists, but with certain commentators dominating the discussion.

Limit people to three comments per day.

And expect civility, whether or not your critics consider your post uncivil. It's your blog and you get to decide, not them.

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Recently, I had the privilege of meeting Professor Stefan Reif (of Cairo Genizah fame at Cambridge University for many decades) when he spoke in Manchester about the Cairo Genizah (what a surprise).

Amongst the many things he said was:

"Human Nature hasn't changed over the centuries."

Reading Shlomo Dov Goitein's 6 volume series called "A Mediterranean Society", published in 1970, in which he tries to describe life in the Jewish Community in Cairo in the 11-13th Centuries, he writes:

"As soon as people of different allegiance mix closely, they discover that the invisible republic of decent men stretches beyond the barriers of religious groups, a discovery incompatible with the claim of absolute superiority of one particular group."

I suggest that this website is helping to further that aim.

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