I don’t have a blog of my own, but the kind of readers here are most likely the ones that would be interested if I had one. Thus this post will be a little long.

I like to think of myself as a Rational Jew, like Noson. I have carefully learned Moreh Nevuchim and I must thank Noson for opening my eyes on numerous issues of Jewish Thought. I have been close with Rav Aharon Feldman since 1969. I highly respected the fact that he, at one time, tried to plead in Noson’s defense. But I was taken aback when he jumped ship and wrote his ill-founded response in the summer of 2005. He showed me the first draft and I wrote a critique of it. He responded to my critique, seemingly to agree with many of my points and disagree with some. I responded to his response and sent it to him. He then went ahead and published his original article without modifying it by addressing my cogent arguments. I then shared my critique with Noson who published it. After that Rav Feldman broke ties with me for a few years. We have since then sort of reunited.

I have published four Historical/Hashkafa/Halacha novels and one sefer on Torah subjects (in Hebrew). In the past two years I was encouraged to translate a long piece I wrote on Hashgocha from a rational perspective. I added to it three other pieces from my sefer that I translated and rewrote in English and put them together in a 60 page book, Creation and Divine Providence.

When you feel you have come to an understanding of something, often that becomes a springboard for another thought, and that one for another, etc. My thoughts on how Divine Providence works from a rational perspective gave me an insight into a new (for me) conclusion.

We all have heard that Ben Gurion predicted in 1948 that within a few generations there wouldn’t be any Torah Jews left. Hah! Seemingly, there is more Torah being learned today by more Jews than ever before in history.

I asked a question: What is the one most significant factor that has generated the plethora of Torah study, Yeshivos, and Kollelim in Eretz Yisroel as of today?

My answer: The Israel Army Draft! I’m not comparing the phenomena to the upsurge of Yeshivas in America to evade the idiotic Viet Nam war draft. In E”Y, the Gedolim (from Agudah and on right) insisted on exemption from the draft for full time torah learners to create (concomitant with the Zionist state) a “culture” of Torah learning. It was “Zeh L’umat Zeh.” The Zionists morphed the Army Draft into a “national culture,” that has become the “holy grail” of Zionism. Torah learning has always been recognized by the elite stratified class of Torah Sages in past generations as the focal point of Judaism, but now that the Zionist wanted to change that to “Nationalism” it had to be countered in the most effective and extreme manner to prevent Zionism from making Ben Gurion’s erstwhile prediction a reality.

Thus I am contending that it is two way street (in a sense). The ardent Draft as a Zionist cultural artifact, has strengthened the resolve of the Torah world to save, preserve and grow its culture of Limud HaTorah.

On the other hand, the potent opposition to the army draft by the “Torah World” has worked to harden the resolve of the Army culture. That means, the Army must be the most moral army in the world (which I think it is), it must be the most potent Army in the world (for its size) and in successful defense of its people, which I think it has proven to be. Thus, the Torah world in its opposition to the draft has been a major factor, by its cultural war in making the Israeli army so formidable. In that case, it is indeed very true that sincere Torah learning acts to protect Klal Yisroel by its indirect impetus making the IDF the best it can be. Kinas Sofrim Tarbeh Chochmah. The Kulturkampf between Torah and the Draft, has strengthened both.

At this point in history, I think both are highly sophisticated as institutions and have momentum and motivation to continue without the animus of all-out Kulturkampf. That means each should respect the other, and allow this successful formula remain in place as it is.

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No, you got the parable wrong. Here it is:

Once upon a time, in a high-security prison filled with the most hardened of criminals, a group of convicts hatched a plan to escape. They started collecting the wrappers from their prison meals, as one does when they're preparing to break out of jail. After much brainstorming, they decided to use the wrappers to pick the lock of their cell door. It was a brilliant plan, or so they thought.

But there was one prisoner who instead spent his days on the phone, speaking with his mysterious friend named "DA". While the others were busy planning their escape, he was busy schmoozing with this guy. When the big day finally arrived, the other inmates were ready. They had managed to mold the wrappers into a giant key that they hoped would unlock their freedom.

As they inserted their makeshift key into the lock, the door suddenly swung open. The prison warden stood before them and announced that all charges had been dropped, thanks to the DA's intervention. The DA's friend was thrilled, but his fellow inmates were less than pleased.

"Chutzpa!" they cried. "You freeloading ingrate! We worked tirelessly to plan this escape and you just sat there on the phone all day. You should have helped us, instead of just mooching off our hard work."

Natan, it's amazing how much you're lacking in self-awareness not to realize how big a theological fraud you are. You've spent the last 10 years DENYING THAT THE TORAH OFFERS ANY PROTECTION. AT ALL. I can show many posts where you've written that very clearly. Just over a week ago, you were ridiculing R. Zilberstein for telling someone that the Torah protects and he does not need to buy a gun. But now you're saying that the Chareidim don't believe that the Torah protects or else they would not have fled the south. So then why did R. Zilberstein tell the fellow not to buy a gun??

After we showed you the overwhelming evidence from the contrary, you've completely changed your tone. The parable that you wrote above is from a secularist standpoint which denies the essence of Torah and Mitzvos at all. As my friend HGL wrote, you could have replaced "sat down to pray" to "played with toys".

At least you're starting to show your true colors and don't claim to be representing "classic Judaism" anymore. I'm glad we're making progress.

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"This did not go down well with my ideological opponents, who keep the comments section lively and have even started an entire blog dedicated to rebutting this one (the third such anti-Slifkin blog to have been created!)"

Natan, as the proprietor of the aforementioned blog, I can predict with a large degree of confidence that you will outlast our blog as well. Unlike you, the three of us have lives and day jobs and just don't have the same manic hateful obsession over you that you have about us.

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Natan, I'm really in good faith trying to figure out what you're saying (with an ulterior motive of course, I can only argue with you if I understand your position), but I'm completely baffled. You've claimed that:

1. Practically speaking, Torah does NOT protect.

2. Torah in fact does protect.

3. R' Zilberstein is silly for telling a guy not to buy a gun and to rely on Torah protection.

4. Chareidi yeshivos should not have fled the south and should have relied on Torah protection.

5. Saying Torah protects is like the silly old man who 'played with toys' while his friends built a lifeboat.

Now, silly me, of course I thought you were flip-flopping! But you insist that you are not and that I am just putting a 'spin' on things. So maybe you can write a post explaining how this all adds up so I can get back in the ring?

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Can you ever stick to one topic without resorting to your dizzying whataboutism?

Are you kvetching about bitachon, or about the army? Or do you always like changing the subject 10 times within one post?

With regards to the army, it is shameful that Israel has a draft to begin with. They would do just fine with a professional army, like the rest of the civilized world. The only reason they have the draft is to force their way of life on others. It is more of an indoctrination camp than an army. As an aside, I believe they are the only country in the world besides North Korea that forcefully drafts women. Additionally, they well understand that if they have a professional army, it would end up looking more religious. Many DL's would join, but not many chilonim, who don't give a shnozzle about the country. So the entire draft is in reality just in order to keep the country secular. Got nothing to do with sharing the burden.

Sorry, the chareidim will not be joining a secular indoctrination propaganda reeducation facility.

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Like the typical anti semites, jews are too poor, too rich, too strong, too weak, etc.

So now they have too much bitachon, and not enough bitachon, all within one week. Keep it up, Natan!

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Noson has really gone off the deep end. It's a shame. I would compare him to Jesus. He was a man who wanted to bring the message of Torah, that is, love of fellow man to the Am HaAretz, the ignorant, but mostly observant, working class people that did not appreciate the importance of Torah learning. The Torah class of Chachomim, meaning the Prushim, or Chaverim, continually hounded Jesus and admonished him that he was not doing the Am HaAretz any favors by denigrating the Chachomim to them. Jesus continued to reprove the Chachomim and preach to his following that the Chachomim lacked "love". But, in the end, it was Jesus who generated the greatest hatred for fellow man the world has ever witnessed when his movement morphed into Christianity.

Jesus was also originally a talmid of the Chachomim, just as Noson was. And just as Jesus did in his day, Noson publicly and arrogantly finds fault with the "Charedim" and makes up interpretations of Chazal to support his ill-founded animosity toward Charedim.

Noson, my friend, the future does not bode well for you, just as it didn't for Jesus, whom after 2000 years is still boiling in tzo'ah in Gehinom! But you can still do Teshuva!

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You forgot to link the posts



It is not an anti-Slifkin blog, it is anti LW MO and so-called academic "Torah", you were just the motivator. We have plenty of other material.

A response will come soon! Stay tuned!

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There seem to be many confused comments here about R Slifkin's position. He fully supports the idea that the nation observing and learning Torah protects the nation as a whole in a general way. IMO, what he questions is a very specific direct connection between an a group of individuals learning providing protection from military or terrorist attacks. Some people claim that they need not serve in IDF because their specific actions in learning Torah is providing the same or better protection than they would by serving. R Slifkin is questioning that direct connection; he is also questioning whether the proponents of this argument really believe it themselves or are just using it as a cover to avoid IDF service for other underlying reasons. Incidentally, this aligns with the view of Rishonim such as Rambam, Rambam and Ran of how Hashgachah works. A very tiny percentage of people are directly protected by personal Hashgachah -- according to Rambam only when those select people's thoughts are directed towards God. The rest are protected by a general Providence over the nation and are subject to the impact the evil intentions of other people as well as the general tendency of the physical world to decay. Rambam states the overriding importance of putting effort into physical defense in his letter on Astrology: "This is why our kingdom was lost and our Temple was destroyed and why we were brought to this; for our fathers sinned and are no more because they found many books dealing with these themes of the star gazers, these things being the root of idolatry, as we have made clear in Laws Concerning Idolatry. They erred and were drawn after them, imagining them to be glorious science and to be of great utility. They did not busy themselves with the art of war or with the conquest of lands, but imagined that those studies would help them. Therefore the prophets called them 'fools and dolts' (Jer. 4:22). And truly fools they were, 'for they walked after confused things that do not profit' (I Sam. 12:21 and Jer. 2:8)."

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Mar 20·edited Mar 20

Rabbi Slifkin, you're getting me dizzy with your ever-changing stance on this. You went from the Torah not protecting last week and R. Zilberstein should not be relying on it, to the Torah protecting and the Yeshivos should not have fled the south, to the Torah not protecting and those saying that it does are like the silly old man praying on the rock.

When you figure out what your position really is on this, give me a buzz.

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First, don't compare or even talk about Lev Tahor. It is a total outlier, that is on its own. My own assumption about it is that it is not as bad as portrayed and not as "pure" as it purports. The bottom line is that has no involvement outside its doled amos.

I have no problem with a knowledgeable Jewish individual critiquing another Jewish train of thought and as mentioned I did openly critique Rav Aharon Feldman. I also, privately critiqued another member of the Moetzes in a letter. He had endorsed a Torah Mosad that had gone into a particular profit-making business to raise funds, but this was a business that directly competed with many frum Jews that earned a living from that business. I admonished him saying, "a non-profit mosad can legitimately fund raise seeking donations. But a Jew who toils to feed his family cannot, unless he is desperate; he should not have to compete with a mosad that you endorse, because you are telling the public to not give their business to a baal habos trying to earn a living, only to the mosad. The day he received the letter, he called me up and accepted the musar I had given him.

My problem with how Noson goes about it is that he is cynical and even surreptitiously derisive. If my critique of Rav Aharon Feldman is still on Zoo Torah, you will see that I argued on Rav Aharon with respect, only bringing cogent proofs. As I noted in another comment on this post, I compared Noson to Jesus. The Talmud tells us not to be like Rebbe Yehoshua ben Perachia that pushed away Jesus with two hands, only he should have been pushed with the left (weaker) hand and brought close with the right hand. This drove Jesus off the deep end, and Rebbe Yehoshua gets part of the blame. I would concur that the Talmidei Chachomim, and yes even some Gedolei Torah, bear the same responsibility for Noson's transformation. Even Dovid Hamelech was held responsible for the debacle at Nob (San. 95a).

There are many different opinions of Torah thought and Halacha, argue all you want but recognize that there exists a legitimate range of thought (albeit some is outside the range). Rav Aharon Feldman readily admitted to me, even after he had jumped ship from Noson, that the affair was handled poorly by the mainstream Torah world. Before he jumped ship he had gone to E"Y to speak with Rav Elyashiv and came out with a letter stating that Noson's approach was indeed the accepted approach of many Gedolim of the past, and Rav Elyashiv noted explicitly that it was not apikorsus, but it wasn't the best for the Yeshiva world in our day. Rav Feldman told me personally even more than that in defense of Noson. But the day his letter was published, the bottom-feeder kanoyimlach came out that Rav Aharon was a liar! After that he jumped ship. I never found out why. All the while, Rav Shmuel and Rav Shalom Kamenetsky whom I am friendly with, continued to support Noson, and only jumped ship in the following year. As far as I know Rav Chaim Malinowitz never jumped ship. I also never did in terms of the credibility of Rational Frum Judaism, but I recognize it is wrong and counterproductive (for Yiddishkite in general) to cynically castigate "the other approach" as Noson has been doing for years.

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R' Slfikin of course knows way more than me. However this is not a website of truth and objectivity.

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Gut gezugt.

But it seems you're not really adding anything with the parable. This is indeed what chareidim believe - that Torah protects, and armies are often the shliach, so everyone should do their part. The parable puts a negative letzunaus spin on it, but does not seem to address anything substantive.

I thought the discussion was about if the facts are true - does Torah protect? You said no, the people on that blog provided a good deal of evidence that the Torah itself seems to think that Torah protects. Do you have a response for that?

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I can’t believe that I’m sitting here wasting my life reading the comments of a bunch of grown ass men arguing whether reading a book helps protect Israeli citizens from terrorist attacks or Hamas rockets a lot or a little. I’m done with this. 🤦‍♂️

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If Torah and frumkeit truly protects, explain the the destruction of many religious communities or Torah communities during the Holocaust?

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