Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rav S. R. Hirsch & his contemporary incarnation - Rabbi Slifkin

Rabbi Slifkin recently published an article on the Making of Post-Haredim  which I read and said "so what?" However Thursday night I got a call from a friend who was calling 4 a.m. from Jerusaelm who had just finished reading it and he couldn't believe that any frum person could say such things. In contrast over Shabbos, a relative who is a solidly chareidi thinker and educator told me that the article very accurately described what is happening in the Chareidi world. Coincidentally I noticed the following comment Rav S. R. Hirsh regarding Avraham - which reminded me very much of Rabbi Slifkin's article. Rav Hirsch was not Chareidi and his views were viewed by Chareidi gedolim - such as the Brisker Rav - as merely expedient or useful for a particular time and place. I heard this from Rabbi Bulman who lamented Rabbi Elias' attempt to make Hirsch into a Chareidi thinker in his edition of the 19 Letters.

Rav Hirsch (Bereishis 12:1) [Regarding Avraham being ordered to leave his homeland,  birthplace  and father's house]...It is certainly not meant to be belittleing of this factor if the planting of the first Jewish germ demanded forsaking fatherland, birth-place and the paternal home. It is rather just the appreciation of these factors wherin lies the greatness of the isolation demanded here. This demand itself placed Abraham in the completest contrast to the ruling tendency of his age. Not individualism, not recognition of the worth and importance of the individual, but centralization which makes men lose their personal value, and lower them to mere subordinate workers, mere bricks for the building of the fame of a supposed representation of the community, that was the tendency of the age, which under the slogan of "let us make a name for ourselves" began building the tower of the glory of Man. This tendency begot the erroneous conception of  a majority which has sway in every direction and in every case. So that finally everything is considered the highest by the majority, ipso facto becomes considered and honored as the highest by everybody. It is true of course that the majority of every community should be the representative of all that which is truly the highest and holiest; and it is in the presumption that such is the case, that Judaism, too, values attachment to the community as being supremely important. Nevertheless at the head of Judaism the words לך לך "go for yourself" stand as being higher still; nobody may say: I am as good, as honest, as everybody else is, as is the fashion here today. Everybody is responsible to G-d for himself. If necessary, alone - with G-d - when the principle worshipped by the majority is not the true godly one. this what was demanded from Abraham as the starting point of his and his future people's mission. Our very language teaches, as we have seen, in the word ארץ and בית how strong are the bonds that attach a person both; yet stronger than the bond that attaches us to fatherland and family should the bond be that attaches us to G-d. How could we have existed, how continue to exist, if we had not, from the very beginning received from Abraham the courage to be a minority!

95 comments :

  1. It is comical to compare or reincarnate Slifkin with Rav S.R. Hirsch.

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  2. Sam said...

    It is comical to compare or reincarnate Slifkin with Rav S.R. Hirsch.

    ===========
    You obviously are not familiar with his writings on science, evolution and agada

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  3. I'm familiar with both their writings.

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  4. "his views were viewed by Chareidi gedolim - such as the Brisker Rav - as merely expedient or useful for a particular time and place"

    R' Boruch Ber actually writes as his personal view in his sefer at the end of either masechta Kesuvos or Kiddushin.

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  5. Has anyone seen commentary that might explain Avrohom Avinu's attachment to his Negro concubine and her son Yishmoel? R' Elya Weintraub said it is a tzorich iyun being that Yishmoel was not even related to him lehalocho.

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  6. Hagar wasn't a negro. The Yishmoelim aren't descended (Hagar, Yishmoel) from Negroes.

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  7. I found Slifkin's article quite insightful. I wonder why you originally said, "So what?"

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  8. I don't think the observation he is describing are new. There has always been a disparity between the official view and what individuals believe. For example the view that one needs to follow the majority view of gedolim. Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky told me he disagree with it. Rav Moshe Feinstein disagreed with it.

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  9. What's the status of Slifkin today? Chareidi educational and kiruv institutions don't utilize his works. Some Chareidim read it, but they are the same Chareidim that would read anything anyways. So the ban largely achieved its goal.

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  10. Master said...

    What's the status of Slifkin today? Chareidi educational and kiruv institutions don't utilize his works. Some Chareidim read it, but they are the same Chareidim that would read anything anyways. So the ban largely achieved its goal.
    ==================
    what was the goal? Rav Sternbuch told me that Rabbi Slifkin is not a heretic because he has solid sources in Chazal and Rishonim. He said his view are heretical because the majority of contemporary gedolim don't hold these views. I was told by one of Rav Moshe Shapiro's talmidim that while the views expressed by Rabbi Slifkin were once used for kiruv they had started to infiltrate mainstream yeshivos and beis Yaakov's. Therefore he was prepared to destroy a generation in order to uproot these views from the mainstream.

    What has happened is there there is a lot less thinking in general and a tremendous increase in cynicism and loss of emunas chachomim. The generation in a sense has been destroyed.

    So you are right that his books are less read - but was the the price worth it?

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  11. Daas Torah wrote:

    "For example the view that one needs to follow the majority view of gedolim. Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky told me he disagree with it. Rav Moshe Feinstein disagreed with it."

    "Rav Sternbuch told me that Rabbi Slifkin is not a heretic because he has solid sources in Chazal and Rishonim. He said his view are heretical because the majority of contemporary gedolim don't hold these views."

    I honestly don't understand this:

    1. So Rabbi Eidensohn, what is *your* view? Do you demand in practice that one follow the majority of contemporary gedolim like Rav Sternbuch says, or is that not demanded like Rav Moshe zt"l and Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky hold?

    2. How in the world is someone supposed to determine who the majority of "gedolim" are? There are hundreds of world-class talmidei chakhamim inside and outside of the charedi world, who equal any gedolim in the charedi world and by any charedi measurement should be gedolim themselves, except that they live in a world where people don't care about declaring their teachers "gedolim" or they and their students just don't care to do so. So does the concept of "the majority of gedolim" really have any meaning?

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  12. Regarding what Daas Torah said about Rav Moshe Feinstein's view that one need not follow the majority, the Chazon Ish wrote the same in a letter - quoted in his sefer at the beginning of Kilailm.

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  13. Here's a point Rav Slifkin missed:
    Imagine a guy sitting and shteiging his gemara and poskim books all day long. He davens with fervour, spends all Shabbos refusing to speaking about mundane stuff, etc. Is he Chareidi? Well no. He wears a kippah serugah and is a big fan of Rav Kook.
    Imagine a second guy who barely learns because he stands all day outside a girls' school in Beit Shemesh screaming "shiksa, perutzah" while secretly getting turned on by the sight of little girls wearing sandals. Is he Chareidi? Well yes, he wears the right outfit and thinks Rav Kook was a heretic.
    Being "Chareidi" is a political definition, not a religious one, these days. These post-Chareidim are religiousy fervent in their love of God and Torah but not the politics that seem to go with that.

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  14. Yes, DT, the price was very worth it. No generation was destroyed. And the people who shouldn't be reading Slifkin are largely not reading him.

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  15. "Therefore he was prepared to destroy a generation in order to uproot these views from the mainstream."

    What hubris.

    What's the plan now, to start anew with a teyvah and a handful of unadulterated individuals who will refashion the Chareidi Torah world in the next generation?

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  16. "Therefore he was prepared to destroy a generation in order to uproot these views from the mainstream"

    On a personal note, after the ban, I had an hour-long conversation with a senior, well-known Charedi rav and educator, who is a household name in the frum world but who is also a "moderate"(an admittedly, subjective term, but I would not speak to anyone I considered "extreme")who, I remember, said that there were two issues:

    1) A genuine disagreement with sources such as R. Avroham ben Harambam(and with the Rambam himself). However, he had no problem with me--and I assume anyone else-- "holding" like these sources.

    2) The ban, according to him, was a quasi-psak by the Rabbonim who signed, to the effect that one has no right to harm some people(insular people with a lot of emunah peshutah), even at the expense of not helping others.

    The above seems to support R. Eidensohn's quote.

    In the recently published "Sliding to the Left", Yehuda Turetsky and Chaim Waxman quote an anonymous academic that that "there is a backlash in the haredi community to what is perceived as an over-zealous antagonism to modernity:
    The ban issued in the Slifkin affair troubled even Boro Parkers."

    (I think that one would need to take a survey; for the majority of Haredim in Boro Park and elsewhere this may not be an issue--hence, the ban).

    Turetsky and Waxman continue in note 49:

    "It is more than just interesting to note that although the haredi
    community has been characterized by strict obedience to central rabbinic authority, ‘‘Da’as Torah,’’ today that is much less the case. There is now a significant number of individuals who are haredi in observance but do not accept the ‘‘Da’as Torah’’ to whom traditional haredim look up. This development is, in large measure, a reaction to bans pronounced by prominent haredi rabbis to books, such as those of the previously mentioned Rabbi Natan Slifkin and Rabbi Nathan Kamenetzky"

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  17. There is no less adherence to Daas Torah in the Chareidi world today, then there was 20 years ago.

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  18. Get your book banned and <10 years later you get compared to Rav S.R. Hirsch. In 30 years, Rabbi Slifkin will have the status of Godol by many Jews.

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  19. Samuel Roth said...

    There is no less adherence to Daas Torah in the Chareidi world today, then there was 20 years ago.
    ================
    What is adherence? Does that mean that people vote for political candidates because they were told by Daas Torah - you obviously missed the recent election in Lakewood. Is it buying Kosher phones - about 30% in Israel have them - many of those have a non-kosher phone for actual use.


    My greater concern is the cynicism - "Did Rav Eliashiv say that" Did the gedolim sign that ban or were there signatures photoshopped etc etc.

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  20. betzalel said...

    Get your book banned and <10 years later you get compared to Rav S.R. Hirsch. In 30 years, Rabbi Slifkin will have the status of Godol by many Jews.
    ------------------
    you have totally missed the point. It is not the fact that his books were banned it is how and why they were banned. It is the fact that many kiruv workers did not and do not understand the problem with the books. I spoke to someone at Aish HaTorah shortly after the ban and he said they did not understand the reason for the ban and more important they used his books regularly and weren't sure of what they would say instead.

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  21. "There is no less adherence to Daas Torah in the Chareidi world today, then there was 20 years ago."

    You may very well be right.

    Within the circles of my friends, graduates of mainstream American Haredi yeshivos, the science/Torah issues debated on the Avodah e-mail list at length were and are non-issues. Thus, the Slifkin ban had zero negative effect on them.

    However, Jonathan Rosenblum wrote in an article in Mishpacha in 2008(" More Information, Please") regarding the lack of, and the need for statistics in the frum community; similarly, this was discussed in the recent "Klal Perspectives". A survey on the Slifkin issue, might highlight a minority of Charedim, especially some Baalie Tesuvah for whom it is an issue.

    A major factor is the change in the makeup of the American yeshivish community(the term "Haredi" I don't think was used then). In the Sixties and Seventies many bnei Torah went to CUNY colleges; I once heard a student of R. Yaakov Kamentesky saying on a radio interview with R. Nosson Kamentesky how the former asked about his college philosphy course, and R. Yaakov knew Kant "like Ashrei" ! A ban could not take place in such an environment.

    Fast-forward today, when in some ways, it's "achshera dara". One of the effects of this is that the average yeshiva student knows much less about secular thought than in the Sixties and Seventies. Therefore there was less of a perceived need for R. Slifkin's books, and hence the ban, without creating any crisis for the majority of people.

    As above, a survey would give more information to what extent the minority exists in the Haredi world who were negatively impacted by the ban.

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  22. I agree with Shades of Gray's view. I had a discussion a number of years ago with Rav Belsky in which I asked him about his knowledge of Science. He said when he went to high school the sciences were taken seriously. He noted that because secular subjects have become marginalized the rabbis have become increasing ignorant of these fields - even when it applies to fields such as medicine and kashrus.

    The issue of Rabbi Slikfkin was never an issue for most chareidi Jews. Even today I meet many yeshiva guys who have know idea of the issue or even who R Slifkin. Likewise it astounds mean the total ignorance of who Tropper is and how he corrupted the system.

    This culture of ignorance is what I see as the problem. You can't make an informed choice if you have absolutely no knowledge of the world outside of your gemora.

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  23. It's very good that Yeshiva students have no idea who Slifkin or Tropper are.

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  24. IOW, Rav Belsky told you the extend of his scientific knowledge is High School science. Same as today's yeshiva students. I don't think the gap in knowledge of how well the chareidi yeshiva students in Rav Belsky's day knew their high school science to today's students is that vast. High School science is high school science.

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  25. But I'm not sure that the cynicism is entirely bad. One should be cyncial of a system run by gedolim and their 'minders'. Look how Rav Elyashiv doesn't even know that his daughter has died, because his minders chose not to feed him this information. Cynicism means that a certain very extreme gadol who is considered likely to be the next 'Maran' will not be able to push the entire charedi society in a disastrous direction after Rav Elyashiv goes. I think this is a good thing.

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  26. Of course Hagar was a negro. She was a Mitzri who are descended from Chom ben Noach.

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  27. So the Arabs are negroes?

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  28. Just the facts, manNovember 7, 2011 at 12:36 AM

    Chaim,

    No one said that Rav Belsky is limited to high school science. Speak to him for a few minutes and you will see he has very advanced yedios.

    J.,

    I read that Rav Elyashev was finally told his daughter died. In any case if a frail, sickly, elderly man could have his health endangered by such bad news, I don't understand why you would make your point from there.

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  29. When I read this post, I could not help but think of D. Kahneman's decision making fallacies - one of the antidotes is an outside vs. an inside look. I always propose this thought experiment (not that it "proves" anything since I don't know Kant like ashrei:-)) - give an objective observer a set of talmud or sh"ut in translation and ask him after reading if he thinks 1. chazal knew all of science as we know it today
    2. that they tried to incorporate science that was known in their day to the extent they could.
    KT
    Joel Rich

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  30. No, but the forefather of Arabs 1000s of years ago had a Negro mother and Semitic father. The yichus of goyim goes according to the father so Arabs are considered Semitic.

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  31. HaRav Moshe Shternbuch shlit"a said Slifkin's views are heretical because of what position?

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  32. Volvie said...

    HaRav Moshe Shternbuch shlit"a said Slifkin's views are heretical because of what position?
    ===========
    Regarding an old universe. He acknowledged that there are medrashim and rishonim who support such a view and that is why R Slifkin is not a heretic. However since the majority of gedolim do not accept and old universe it is heresy to have such a position even when supported by chazal. To this Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky and Rav Belsky disagreed.

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  33. "even when supported by chazal"

    Where do Chazal ever support an old universe?

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  34. Master said...

    "even when supported by chazal"

    Where do Chazal ever support an old universe?
    =================
    Both Rav Kaminetsky and Rav Belsky said that the chazal that G-d created and destroyed worlds could be understood to mean that the universe is old. There is a list in Torah Shleima in Bereishis which Rav Sternbuch said can be understood to mean that the world is old.

    They did acknowledge that it is not clear that these statements of Chazal mean that the world is old but they said it is possible to understand them as such.

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  35. "Both Rav Kaminetsky and Rav Belsky said that the chazal that G-d created and destroyed worlds could be understood to mean that the universe is old."

    Even with this kind of understanding of an "old universe", it is very very different than the kind of old universe promoted by Slifkin and the secular scientists. Creating and destroying worlds discussed by Chazal isn't what Slifkin and company are saying.

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  36. Master said...

    "Both Rav Kaminetsky and Rav Belsky said that the chazal that G-d created and destroyed worlds could be understood to mean that the universe is old."

    Even with this kind of understanding of an "old universe", it is very very different than the kind of old universe promoted by Slifkin and the secular scientists. Creating and destroying worlds discussed by Chazal isn't what Slifkin and company are saying.
    ==============
    I asked both of them whether a person who believes in an old universe is an apikorus and they both said no. The Rambam also indicates that he could live with an old universe if it could be proven.

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  37. "The Rambam also indicates that he could live with an old universe if it could be proven."

    Where is that Rambam (source)? What does it say?

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  38. Master said...

    "The Rambam also indicates that he could live with an old universe if it could be proven."

    Where is that Rambam (source)? What does it say?

    If, however, we accepted the Eternity of the Universe in accordance with the second of the theories which we have expounded above (ch. xxiii.), and assumed, with Plato, that the heavens are likewise transient, we should not be in opposition to the fundamental principles of our religion; this theory would not imply the rejection of miracles, but, on the contrary, would admit them as possible. The Scriptural text might have been explained accordingly, and many expressions might have been found in the Bible and in other writings that would confirm and support this theory. But there is no necessity for this expedient, so long as the theory has not been proved. As there is no proof sufficient to convince us, this theory need not be taken into consideration, nor the other one; we take the text of the Bible literally, and say that it teaches us a truth which we cannot prove; and the miracles are evidence for the correctness of our view.


    מורה נבוכים (ב:כה)אבל אם מאמינים בקדמות לפי הדעה השנייה שהבהרנו11, והיא לדעת אפלטון, כלומר שהשמים גם כן מתהווים וכלים, דעה זאת אינה הורסת את יסודות התורה ואינה גוררת הכחשת הנס, אלא את אפשרותו. אפשר לפרש את הכתובים על-פי דעה זאת; ויש פסקאות מסופקות רבות בתורה ובזולתה שניתן להיתלות בהן או אפילו להביא ראיות מהן לדעה זאת12. ואולם אין הכרח שיביא אותנו להחזיק בדעה הזאת, אלא אם כן היא היתה מוּכחת הוֹכחה מופתית.

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  39. Master said...

    "The Rambam also indicates that he could live with an old universe if it could be proven."

    Where is that Rambam (source)? What does it say?

    If, however, we accepted the Eternity of the Universe in accordance with the second of the theories which we have expounded above (ch. xxiii.), and assumed, with Plato, that the heavens are likewise transient, we should not be in opposition to the fundamental principles of our religion; this theory would not imply the rejection of miracles, but, on the contrary, would admit them as possible. The Scriptural text might have been explained accordingly, and many expressions might have been found in the Bible and in other writings that would confirm and support this theory. But there is no necessity for this expedient, so long as the theory has not been proved. As there is no proof sufficient to convince us, this theory need not be taken into consideration, nor the other one; we take the text of the Bible literally, and say that it teaches us a truth which we cannot prove; and the miracles are evidence for the correctness of our view.


    מורה נבוכים (ב:כה)אבל אם מאמינים בקדמות לפי הדעה השנייה שהבהרנו11, והיא לדעת אפלטון, כלומר שהשמים גם כן מתהווים וכלים, דעה זאת אינה הורסת את יסודות התורה ואינה גוררת הכחשת הנס, אלא את אפשרותו. אפשר לפרש את הכתובים על-פי דעה זאת; ויש פסקאות מסופקות רבות בתורה ובזולתה שניתן להיתלות בהן או אפילו להביא ראיות מהן לדעה זאת12. ואולם אין הכרח שיביא אותנו להחזיק בדעה הזאת, אלא אם כן היא היתה מוּכחת הוֹכחה מופתית.

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  40. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  41. Rav Belsky writes in his published commentary to Bereishis

    Time
    It is now an accepted principle among scientsts that a single hour in one frame of reference will stretch into thousands of years in another frame of reference. The concepts of time compression and relativity demonstrate that time id dependent on physical factors such as mass and energy. The significance of time's relativity can be understood in terms of Chazal's statement that "ten things were created on the first day of creation"...Yet despite what is currently known about time it is clear to all that the relativistic behaivor of time is only a tiny fraction of the whole picture. According to our Sages, this is no surprise for time is considered to be one of the secrets of Maaseh Bereishis and is largely beyond the grasp of the human mind.

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  42. Rav Belsky continues:

    HaKadosh Baruch Hu built worlds and destroyed the
    Chazal (Midrash Rabbah Bereishis 3:7; Koheles 3,1:11, Yalkut Shimoni Koehles...) tell us that HaKadosh Baruch Hu built and destroyed many worlds before he created the one that we now inhabit.....The critical analysis of several current scientific theories can aid in understanding what our Sages meant by these often misunderstood statements....

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  43. Could destroying worlds include "the Big Bang"? In one city there is a rabbi who promotes the Big Bang theory as shtimming with Torah. He is the only rabbi in that city who is not allowed to take a rotating turn on the beis din. But that is also because he is a tremendous am haaretz who doesn't know his head from his foot in halacha or much else and has been misquoting his "rebbe" Rav Soloveitchik to put words in his mouth that contradict beferush Gemaras.

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  44. Interesting that the kanoyim came after R' Shmuel K & R' Aron F for supporting Slifkin but left Rabbi Belsky alone.

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  45. La Kosher Nostra said...

    Interesting that the kanoyim came after R' Shmuel K & R' Aron F for supporting Slifkin but left Rabbi Belsky alone.
    ==============
    Rav Belsky is fearless and is in a lot less vulnerable position. He is also relatively isolated because he is ready to follow his principles even against the majority

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  46. Astrophysicist said...

    Could destroying worlds include "the Big Bang"?
    ================
    Yes - Rav Belsky discusses that in the next line of his commentary

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  47. "Regarding an old universe. He acknowledged that there are medrashim and rishonim who support such a view and that is why R Slifkin is not a heretic. However since the majority of gedolim do not accept and old universe it is heresy to have such a position even when supported by chazal. To this Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky and Rav Belsky disagreed."

    Rabbi Eidensohn, I still don't understand where *you* stand. Do the majority of gedolim decide what is heresy or not?

    And if so, then how in the world can it be decided who all of the gedolim are and what their majority opinion is?

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  48. Yossi Goodman said...

    Rabbi Eidensohn, I still don't understand where *you* stand. Do the majority of gedolim decide what is heresy or not?

    =================
    Thought it was obvious - I am clearly in agreement with Rav Kaminetsky and Rav Belsky's view that presenting the minority view or one not held by most gedolim is not heresy.

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  49. How can someone say that something that is apikorsus just because "the gedolim" or "the majority" (whatever that means!) doesn't like it?? Are they just making this up as they go??

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  50. sb said...

    How can someone say that something that is apikorsus just because "the gedolim" or "the majority" (whatever that means!) doesn't like it?? Are they just making this up as they go??
    ==================
    The Chasam Sofer notes that there is a view expressed in the Talmud that Moshiach is not coming. He notes that for someone to make such an assertion today is heresy but when it was originally stated it was not heresy. Thus he notes that views - even those stated by respected sources - can becomes unacceptable and even become heretical.

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  51. How many of the rabbonim who Leib Pinter raitzed on against Slifkin know that Pinter is a career criminal back in jail again who made a velt's chilul Hashem? What Chazal say about chilul Hashem is no small matter.

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  52. I have heard varying opinions from contemporary roshei yeshiva if it is apikorsis to take at face value Rav Saadya Gaon that argues on the Rishonim. The Ramban says that every little thing that happens including banging your pinky is ordained. RSG writes it is not.

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  53. paskunyak said...

    I have heard varying opinions from contemporary roshei yeshiva if it is apikorsis to take at face value Rav Saadya Gaon that argues on the Rishonim. The Ramban says that every little thing that happens including banging your pinky is ordained. RSG writes it is not.
    ==============
    This is basically nonsense - most rishonim held that there is such a thing as accident,tevah and mazel as well as free-will of man. All of these are independent factors which affect man. As the Lubavitcher Rebbe points out - the Baal Shem tov introduced the idea that everything is hashgacha protis. Rav Dessler for example does not hold that every thing is ordained. He hold by the Seforno that most Jews do not have hashgocha protis.

    This is deal with in my book Daas Torah.

    November 7, 2011 2:34 PM

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  54. How can you dare call it "nonsense", when rishonim/achronom say so?

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  55. R'DT,
    But would you agree that an unweighted sample of "orthodox" Jews today would agree with the statement "every little thing that happens including banging your pinky is ordained. "?
    KT
    Joel Rich

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  56. R'DT,
    But would you agree that an unweighted sample of "orthodox" Jews today would agree with the statement "every little thing that happens including banging your pinky is ordained. "?
    KT
    Joel Rich
    ===================
    Yes - and they don't realize how recent this norm is. This is the client I had who had been raped as a child and had one remaining issue left as an adult - all the rabbis told her that G-d had decreed that she should be raped and she couldn't accept that. I told her that there are solid sources which allow for man's free-will to do things and G-d does not stop it even though He doesn't approve

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  57. Benny said...

    How can you dare call it "nonsense", when rishonim/achronom say so?
    ==============
    Don't be an idiot. I was not calling views of rishonim/achronim nonsense. I was referring to the views of the "contemporary roshei yeshiva" who were trying to decide whether the view of the majority of rishonim was apikorsus.

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  58. And how dare a midget refer to the Roshei Yeshiva as nonsense.

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  59. Benny said...

    And how dare a midget refer to the Roshei Yeshiva as nonsense.
    -----------------
    But you have no problem having them declare the majority view of rishonim as heresy?! I'd rather be together with the rishonim in the next world then with roshei yeshiva who view rishonim as heretics

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  60. How disingenuous comment! You yourself earlier said they do NOT consider the Rishonim heretics, much as Hillel is not for saying no Moshiach, even though someone today would be if he said the same.

    So you haven't answered the issue, other than that disingenuous comment.

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  61. Benny said...

    How disingenuous comment! You yourself earlier said they do NOT consider the Rishonim heretics, much as Hillel is not for saying no Moshiach, even though someone today would be if he said the same.

    So you haven't answered the issue, other than that disingenuous comment.
    ==============
    Benny besides your lack of derech eretz you have a major problem in reading comprehension. Perhaps if you could ease off the "how dare you's" and the need to pretend that you are the superior being - you might finally understand what I have in fact answered the question.

    The original assertion that I was responding to is:
    I have heard varying opinions from contemporary roshei yeshiva if it is apikorsis to take at face value Rav Saadya Gaon that argues on the Rishonim. The Ramban says that every little thing that happens including banging your pinky is ordained. RSG writes it is not.
    My response is that it is not simply Rav Saadiya Gaon against the Rishonim. The view ascribed here to RSG is in fact the majority view of the rishonim. Anyone who insists otherwise - even a rosh yeshiva is spouting nonsense.

    The next issue is whether the view that not everything is ordained is the only official acceptable view today - that is also nonsensical. Rav Dessler clearly holds to this view and so did most authorities outside the chassidic world. Even in the chaasidic world I was told that it has only been about 150 years since there has been emphasis that everything is ordained.

    Is the fog lifting yet?

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  62. R' Eidenson,

    With all due respect to you and to R' Slifkin (and I do mean that sincerely), I don't think R' S. R. Hirsch was any more a subscriber to Rationalist Judaism than he was to Chareidi Judaism, if you'll permit me the anachronism. His writings contain both the rational and the mystical; he is in a category all his own.

    I believe Dayan Grunfeld, in his intro to R' S. R. Hirsch's Choreiv (Horeb), makes this point.

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  63. Avi from BM of TIDE said...

    R' Eidenson,

    With all due respect to you and to R' Slifkin (and I do mean that sincerely), I don't think R' S. R. Hirsch was any more a subscriber to Rationalist Judaism than he was to Chareidi Judaism, if you'll permit me the anachronism. His writings contain both the rational and the mystical; he is in a category all his own.
    ==================
    I didn't say that Rabbi Slifkin was a Hirschian - I also don't consider him a rationalist either. But Hirsh was open to rational consideration regarding science. His attitude towards aggadata and Zohar was decidedly non mystical. On the other hand I think that Dayan Grunfeld downplays Hirsh's negative attitude towards mysticism.
    I agree with you that Hirsch would not have been labled as rationalist or chareidi. He basically took an open position which was much more akin to that of the gaonim or rishonim.

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  64. So your title, "Rav S. R. Hirsch & his contemporary incarnation - Rabbi Slifkin", was only meant in the sense that both have certain minority rationalist opinions, is that correct?

    "Dayan Grunfeld downplays Hirsh's negative attitude towards mysticism." From the translation in Light magazine of R' SRH's letter, "Two Giants Speak", page 12: "I tend to think it not at all farfetched that, even in talmudic times, the Holy One performed miracles--in special circumstances--for the greatest and most pious of Chazal...Consequently, I understand the miracles in the house of study about the oven of achna'i to have taken place literally..." (He goes on to validate others who take these as analogies or parables.) Do you remember, offhand, a counter-example in R' SRH's writings that would make your point about Dayan Grunfeld?

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  65. "The Rambam also indicates that he could live with an old universe if it could be proven."

    Um, I think you mean "eternal universe!"
    Big difference, and it just shows how even more radical the discussion could potentially be if we bring up Rambam into the mix. Rambam considered it a form of paganism to even date the creation of the world to a specific date/time point! He believed in true creation ex nihilo, but if there was actual proof (rather than just philosophical - aristotelian - speculation) of an eternal universe, he could stomach it!

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  66. I think you are forcing both Rav Hirsch and Rabbi Slifkin in categories which don't accurately reflect either. I think it is more accurate to say both would fit more comfortably in the world of the Rishonim - then in that of contemporary achronim.

    Not sure why you think belief in miracles is a indication that Hirsch was not a rationalist. Rambam believed in miracles.

    Regarding his negative attitude towards mysticism - He mentions this in the 19 Letters. Dayan Grunfeld tries to mitigate this by mentioning that Rav Hirsch does quote from the Zohar - though he seems to view the Zohar as medrash without kabbalistic significance.

    Rabbi Danziger wrote in Jewish Action Magazine

    http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/rsrh/Danziger.pdf See page 21:

    There is a discernible tendency in Rabbi Elias'commentary to reinterpret Rav Hirsch in conformity with the concepts of non-Hirschian thinkers, whose views are followed in many yeshivos. The nature of aggados is one instructive instance of this tendency. It is a curious fact that the recently published teshuvos of Rav Hirsch omitted the responsa on aggadah.
    Another illustration of this tendency is with regard to Rav Hirsch's attitude toward kabbalah. In Letter Eighteen, Rav Hirsch writes: Presently, a form of learning came into existence about which, not being initiated in it, I cannot venture to pass judgment, but which, if I comprehend rightly what I believe I under-stand, is an invaluable repository of the spirit of Tanach and Talmud, but which has unfortunately been misunderstood.
    What should have been eternal progressive development was considered a static mechanism, and the inner significance and concept thereofwas taken as external
    dream-worlds ... Had it been correctly comprehended, practical Judaism might perhaps have been imbued with sprituality. Since it was misconstrued, however,it became thereby a magic mechanism, a means of influencing or resisting theosophic worlds and anti-worlds.

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  67. And of course the unavoidable conclusion to be drawn from that is that most people do not actually believe in creation ex nihilo as the Rambam defined it because they try to pinpoint the creation of the world to a specific date. So it is not merely that Rambam can be brought for some vague support of an "old" universe - The people who believe the universe is 5771 years old are pagans according to Rambam.

    If the philosophers (or today, scientists) could really demonstrably prove it somehow, Rambam could rest easy with a universe that is actually eternal (meaning, it always existed). Otherwise, it was created ex nihilo and since time was also created, the creation of the world did not happen in time and cannot be pinpointed to a certain "date" or given an age. The "young earthers" definitely do not want to bring Rambam into the discussion, lol. I wonder how they feel about an eternal world?

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  68. Recipients and PublicityNovember 8, 2011 at 2:22 PM

    Can't help but think watching this incredibly well-informed discussion unfold, that if one steps back, thinking of the over-all subjects being discussed here, that in some way or other the debate is essentially moot.

    Why so?

    Rav Hersh lived in era when Jews were still making their entry into the world of the modern sciences in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. At that time there was a cultural debate between adherents of the Haskala (Enlightenment) versus the adherents of strict Halacha (for lack of a better word to describe Torah-observant Jewry).

    Within the world of Torah Jewry new pathways and defenses appeared, stemming from the teachings of the mysticism of the BESHT and the rationalism of the GRA, each in their own way spawning new ways to counter secularism and to resist the secular Haskala. The GRA was not a TID-nik, and the BESHT for sure not. The GRA was open to all true knowledge and wisdom but he was not a proponent to send yeshiva guys to college in Eastern Europe as started to happen in Western Europe.

    If anything the roots to the discussion are in the era of the RAMBAM when the strictly Talmudic Chachmei Tzarfas-France (acting as the "Haredim" of their day) opposed the more Aristotelian Philosophic Chachmei Sefarad-Spain. The struggle was bitter and they burned the works of the RAMBAM in France putting him in cherem. The Rabbeinu Yona mediated in the end, but essentially the strict Torah-world view has remained that of the French rabbis and not of the Spanish, although the latter have had a revival in modern times, especially from Rav J.B. Soloveitchik's tug and pull and the rise of Modern Orthodoxy and only marginally from Rav Hersh even though he had a Ph.D which was the way of the German rabbinate in his days.

    At any rate, what I want to say is that by the 20th century Jews had entered the sciences in full force and overtook those fields by becoming its leaders. Of course they were secular by then but they were still Jews and as such their "conquest" of all fields of secular knowledge is the ultimate "triumph" of Jews (also meaning as an outgrowth of their original Judaic origins) had overtake and subdued the sciences to their will.

    Thus, in a large sense modern day science largely belongs to the Jews, e.g. all the Jewish German, Jewish Hungarian, American Jewish and Israeli scientists, so that debates about how to reconcile Torah views on modernity and scientific knowledge are missing the mark and are coming too late because the question of how to reconcile Judaism with Science is essential moot.

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  69. I spent years in a yeshiva whose rosh yeshiva was a talmid of Rav Dessler. Although every single musser shmuz was based on Michtav MeEliyahu, we never heard this concept. Not only that but the rebbeim pushed the shitas Ramban as if there was no other view.

    Is there any source in the Litvishe velt that takes the position of the Besht or is there a politically correct agenda being made up as they go along?

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  70. R’ S. R. Hirsch (Nineteen Letters #18): [The leaders of Orthodoxy] became at first enemies of this philosophical spirit, and later of all specifically intellectual and philosophical pursuits in general. Certain misunderstood utterances [e.g., Bereishis Rabbah 44:1] were taken as weapons with which to repel all higher interpretations of the Talmud . . . The inevitable consequence was, therefore, that since oppression and persecution had robbed Israel of every broad and natural view of world and of life, and Talmud had yielded about all the practical results for life of which it was capable, every mind that felt the desire of independent activity was obliged to forsake the paths of study and research in general open to the human intellect, and to take its recourse to dialectic subtleties and hairsplitting. Only a very few [e.g., R’ Yehuda HaLevi’s Kuzari and Ramban] during this entire period stood with their intellectual efforts entirely within Judaism, and built it up out of its own inner concept [Drachman translation]…. we are left with two generations confronting each other. One of them has inherited an uncomprehended Judaism, as practiced by men from habit, a revered but lifeless mummy which it is afraid to bring back to life. The other, though in part burning with noble enthusiasm for the welfare of the Jews, regards Judaism as bereft of any life and spirit, a relic of an era long past and buried, and tries to uncover its spirit, but, not finding it, threatens through its well meant efforts to sever the last life nerve of Judaism - out of sheer ignorance [Paritzky translation].

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  71. Could Rabbi Eidensohn put that in more easy to understand terms?

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  72. Prof Simon - a good friend of Rav Solveitchik noted, "The people I can pray with I can't talk to and the people I can talk to I can't pray with."

    Rav Hirsh noted that intellectual discourse and inquiry was systematically stamped out of the religious world. The intellectual excitement and vitality is found amongst the irreligious - but they have an improper understanding of religion.

    This is also similar to Rav Kooks vision of Hebrew University- He viewed it as a potential source of vitality and creativity which was to be subordinate to rabbinical superivision and guidelines.

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  73. "I think you are forcing both Rav Hirsch and Rabbi Slifkin in categories which don't accurately reflect either...."

    I wrote that R'Hirsch is in a category all of his own, with some rationalist and some mystical positions; I'm not sure why you say this is forced. I put R' Slifkin into the Rationalist Judaism category, which is his own self definition.

    "Not sure why you think belief in miracles is a indication that Hirsch was not a rationalist".

    I think it's fair to say that most pure rationalists see most/ all Aggadah that contain miracles as allegories or metaphors, and do not take them literally.

    Even though R'SRH saw the Zohar differently (e.g.inner, not external, olamos), the very fact that he used the Zohar separates him from most pure rationalists. While I too incline toward R' Danziger in the Jewish Action debate (while still greatly respecting R' Elias), I'm not sure that Dayan Grunfeld's position is the same as R' Elias'.

    Question: do you have an authoritative source that explains well the position that most people are not under Hashgachah Protis?

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  74. Slifkin is a nobody. He wrote some animal books, calls himself zoo rabbi, wrote some creation books that got banned. None of that gives him much importance, other than having gotten his 15 minutes of fame for that incident all those years ago.

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  75. Rav Eidensohn, you say that the Lubavitcher Rebbe says that the Besht introduced the idea that everything is by divine providence. Slifkin makes a similar point in one of his books. But I don't think this is accurate, however. The Besht may have been the first to say that every leaf falling from a tree falls the way it does by divine providence, but nearly identical statements had been made centuries earlier.

    For example, Rashi says somewhere that when a kingfisher catches a fish, which fish will be caught and when is preordained from Hashem. Also, Rabbi Akiva's dictum that everything the Merciful One does is for the good, the Nachum Gamzu story, and statements from certain rishonism also express a everything-is-bashert view. Rabbi Avraham ben Rambam says

    "[T]he bitachon incumbent upon all the religious people...is a firmly placed conviction and a genuine, heartfelt awareness that the natural causes and normal channels are directed by God's detailed will for each person, in every time and every situation." (p. 213).

    Even more like the Besht, Rabbenu Bachya (writing nearly a thousand years ago) wrote:

    "We ought to trust in God with the trust of one, fully convinced that all things and movements, together with their advantageous and injurious results happen by the decree of the Eternal, under His authority and according to His sentence."

    Also, a couple hundred years before the Besht, Ramak said there is no such thing as a coincidence:

    "No person who believes should entertain the concept that any action, large or small, takes place by coincidence. Instead, everything is determined by Divine providence" (Ein Kol Tamar, ch. 5).

    Someone asked whether there is anyone in the Litvish velt that holds like the Besht. Well, I'm not an expert, but here's something: Chazon Ish said "nothing in the world happens by chance, and that whatever happens under the sun is all by God's decree." Also, a recent post on this blog showed that Rav Moshe Feinstein agreed with the no-coincidences view ("Whatever is done in the world is only by the hand of G‑d – whether it is for the good or whether it is – G‑d forbid - ! the opposite (Igros Moshe(Y.D. 4:8.2)). There may be earlier sources for the all-is-bashert view in the Litvish world, but I'm not the best person to find it.

    But even if the no-coincidences belief used to be uncommon and now it is common, this does not mean it is some politically correct thing people are making up as they go along, as one commenter said. It's a compelling doctrine (which I believe in myself), but of course, as Rav Eidensohn says, many rishonim disagreed with it so there's nothing heretical about it. It's important that their views are not suppressed, in part because victims of awful abuse may have trouble dealing with the everything-is-divine-providence belief. Even so, there are those who argue that even for those with much pain and difficulty in their past, believing it was all for the best is still important for one's spiritual and emotional well-being (I'm thinking of Garden of Gratitude by Rav Shalom Arush).

    For those who want to see it, the Lubavitcher Rebbe's sefer on divine providence is available in English translation online for free here:

    http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/80723/jewish/Brief-on-Hashgachah-Pratis.htm

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  76. Question: do you have an authoritative source that explains well the position that most people are not under Hashgachah Protis?
    ============

    Seforno (Vayikra 13:47): When a person sins because he follows his lusts and thus turns away from G d’s will or he simply rebels against G d, he will be punished justly according to G d’s justice. When a person sins accidentally, he will typically be punished either financial or physically according to G d’s wisdom in order to arouse him repent. In contrast those who are as insensitive as one asleep and thus have no realization of what is happening and are not motivated to know - this includes all the nations as well as the majority of Jews except for a few exceptions - they are without doubt under the direction of nature or mazel. They do not receive hashgocha protis but rather a general form of Providence which is for the species rather than the individual. Thus they are like the animals and other forms of life which do not have individual Providence. They thus fulfill G d’s will only on the level of the group not as individuals.

    Michtav M’Eliyahu (2:75): … hashgocha clallis (general Providence) is for those who don’t serve G d at all or serve Him in a mechanical fashion without any inner awareness. Therefore their deeds do not reveal G d’s honor in a direct manner. These type of people function simply to provide assistance to the true tzadik in his service of G d. They develop the physical aspects of the world to enable the tzadik to serve G d. Therefore what these people get in this world does not correspond directly to their deeds. That is because their personal accomplishments have no inherent value. They have merit only to the degree they assist the tzadik. Consequently the Providence for them is not direct and that is why it is referred to as clallis (general). That is because it is possible that the needs of the tzadik require that equal portions be given to many people in spite of individual differences in their deeds. This is the Providence that applies to the nations of the world as well as all those Jews whose main occupation is developing this world. It applies also to those who are occupied in Torah and mitzvos in a superficial manner out of habit or for ulterior motivation…. In fact those who slumber and are relatively insensitive to spiritual issues… i.e., all non Jews and most Jews - except for some exception - they are without a doubt under the control of natural laws… This is no different than the animals whose Providence is not for the individual but only for the species - because it as a species they fulfill G d’s will.

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  77. continued II

    Question: do you have an authoritative source that explains well the position that most people are not under Hashgachah Protis?
    ================
    Rambam (Moreh Nevuchim 3:18): We have just explained that Providence exists only for man and not any other creatures because it only applies to intelligent beings… Consequently the degree of providence will depend on how prepared his physical matter is and his level of learning - assuming as I do that providence is a function of intelligence. In other words providence is not the same for all people but rather is directly proportional to their perfection. According to this speculation, providence for prophets should be extremely great and should be a function of their level of prophesy. Similarly the providence for good and pious people should be a reflection of their degree of goodness and piety… In contrast fools and rebels, to the degree that they lack this Divine overflow their status is debased and at the extreme they become like animals He is comparable to the beasts who perish (Tehilim 49:13). That is why it is a relatively minor thing to kill evil people and in fact capital punishment for them is a Divine commandment. This idea that Providence varies according to the level of perfection of the individual is one of the most fundamental principles of the Torah….Concerning the differential providence for pious men and degenerate fools (Shmuel I 2:9): He will guard the feet of His pious ones while the wicked will be silenced in the darkness because a man will not prevail with strength. The verse informs us that the reason that some individuals are saved from disaster while others aren’t is not because of their physical strength and natural dispositions. Rather it depends upon their degree of perfection and deficiency, i.e., their nearness or distance from G d… There are innumerable verses which indicate this principle that providence is proportional to perfection and piety. There are also philosophers e.g., Plato who agree with this principle…

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  78. continue III

    Question: do you have an authoritative source that explains well the position that most people are not under Hashgachah Protis?

    Rabbeinu Bachye (Bereishis 18:19): G d said about Avraham “I have known him.” Saying that G d knows a person means that He observers and directly supervises that person. Therefore G d is saying that He only supervises Avraham but not other people who are not supervised as are the righteous. It is important to be aware that G d’s supervision of man in this lowly world is of two types - general and particular… In contrast in regards to other creatures the supervision is only general - to preserve the species - and it does not extend to each individual animal. The individual supervision of man is of two types. The first is that G d is fully aware of everything about each individual person - his thoughts as well as his deeds. The second type of supervision is to protect and save from all harm. The first type applies to all mankind - both Jews and non Jews while the second does not apply to all mankind and not even to all Jews. It only applies to the tzadikim. G d saves the tzadikim from dangers that the rest of mankind suffer… G d’s supervision of the tzadik is constant and never ending. This explanation that G d’s knowing refers to His special supervision of the tzadikim is the Ramban’s…

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  79. continue IV

    Question: do you have an authoritative source that explains well the position that most people are not under Hashgachah Protis?

    Ramban (Bereishis 18:19): G d’s knowledge - which is His Providence in the lower world - is to guard the collective species rather than the individual creature. Even individual human beings are left to chance until the time of their final reckoning comes. In contrast, with respect to saintly people, He fully attends to them to know every detail of their existence so that His protection is attached to the person constantly. G d’s knowledge and attentiveness does not cease from him at all. This is the meaning of Job(36:7) He doesn’t withdraw His eyes from the righteous. There are many other verses which convey this idea such as Tehilim(33:18) The eye of G d is on those who fear him.

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  80. continue V

    Question: do you have an authoritative source that explains well the position that most people are not under Hashgachah Protis?

    Chinuch (#546): G d supervises each individual and He knows all their deeds as well as all that happens to them - the good and the bad which was caused by His decree - according to their merit or liability as our sages say (Chullin 7b): No one bruises his finger unless it has been so decreed in Heaven. Nevertheless it is necessary for each person to protect himself from accidents that occur in the world. That is because G d created the world and built it on the foundations of Nature. He decreed that fire burn and water extinguish the blaze. Similarly He decreed that if a large rock should fall on a person’s head that it will crush his skull or if he falls off a tall building that he will die. G d created the body of man and his conscious awareness which can guard against harm and placed both of them within the domain of natural processes which both animates and acts on them. Thus G d placed the physical human body within the realm of physical Nature - as His wisdom saw fit. Consequently He commanded man to guard himself from accidents. That is because Nature - which he is part of - will do things to him if he doesn’t take precautions to watch himself. However there are a few people that the King values highly because of their great piety and the fact that their souls are strongly attached to Him. They are the great tzadikim such as our holy patriarchs and many of their descendants such as Daniel, Chananya, Mishael and Azariyah. G d gave them power to control Nature despite the fact that originally Nature controlled them - because of the great loftiness of their spirituality. We know for example that Avraham was thrown in to a great furnace yet was not harmed nor were the four mentioned above. Not even a hair of their heads was singed. However, most people - because of their many sins - have not merited such an elevated spiritual level. Consequently the Torah has commanded us to guard our property and places so they don’t cause death through our negligence. We cannot put lives in danger and rely on miracles for protection. In fact our sages say that whoever relies on a miracle to save himself will not have a miracle done for him. This is the approach that applies in most instances. For example, even when the Jews fought a war commanded directly by G d, they used the best strategies and used proper weapons and in general acted as if they were relying totally on natural powers…

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  81. Continued VI

    Question: do you have an authoritative source that explains well the position that most people are not under Hashgachah Protis?

    Meshech Chochma (Shemos 13:9): Providence is manifest for each Jew according to his spiritual level as the Rambam explains in Moreh Nevuchim (3:18): Providence is not equal for everyone but rather is proportional to their spiritual level. Consequently the Providence for the prophets is extremely powerful each according to their level of prophecy. The Providence for the pious and saintly is according to their level of perfection. In contrast the fools and the rebels lacking spirituality are in essence in the same category as animals… This concept that Providence is proportional to spiritual level is one of foundations of Judaism…

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  82. continue VII

    Question: do you have an authoritative source that explains well the position that most people are not under Hashgachah Protis?

    Ramban (Job 36:7): He doesn’t withdraw His eyes from the righteous. This verse expresses an important aspect of Providence. There are many verses concerning Providence. People of Torah and pure faith believe in Providence i.e., that G d specifically watches over and protects mankind…. There are no verses in the Torah or Prophets that indicate that G d watches over and protects individual creatures that don’t speak. Rather He only guards the general species of other creatures… That is why it is permitted to slaughter animals for the needs of man such as atonement by offering them as sacrifices. The reason for this distinction is clearly known. It is because man recognizes G d that G d watches over and protects him. This is not relevant for the rest of creation since it doesn’t speak and doesn’t know its Creator. It is for this reason that He protects the tzadikim. Just as their hearts and their eyes are always with Him, G d reciprocates and His eyes are on them from the beginning of the year to the end. Consequently the absolutely pious person who clings to his G d constantly and never turns his thoughts from G d to mundane matters will be constantly protected from all accidents even those that are the result of the laws of nature. He will be guarded constantly by miracles as if he were one of the supernal beings who are not affected by natural events. The protection of the individual is therefore directly proportional to the degree that he comes close to G d. To the degree that he is distant from G d in his thoughts and deeds - even if he doesn’t deserve death for his sins - he is nevertheless deserted and forced to face the forces of nature unprotected. There are many verses which make this point. Dovid said: He will guard the feet of the pious while the wicked will be put to silence in darkness (Shmuel 1 2:9). This means (Moreh Nevuchim 3:18) that those who are close to Him are absolutely protected while those who are distant from Him are liable to accidents and have no protection from harm. They are like one who is walking in total darkness whose fall is inevitable unless he is very careful and walks very slowly… Because most of the world is intermediary between the totally righteous and the totally wicked, the Torah commanded that soldiers be utilized for defense and that a priest be anointed for war. This priest is to reject soldiers who are afraid and would therefore undermine the courage of the others. We also find in the Torah and Prophets that battles were conducted on the basis of careful battle tactics. For example Dovid asked G d about the battle and he was told: Do not go up. Rather you should circle around behind them … And draw them to Mt Tabor and take ten thousand men with you. If they really had been meritorious they could have gone out to battle with a few people and been victorious without any weapons. If they had deserved defeat than no amount of soldiers would have helped. In this case they had to fight the battle in a totally natural way. This matter is explained well by the Rambam (Moreh Nevuchim 3:18 and 3:50).

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  83. Do you need more sources? It is obvious that the rishonim - including the Ramban say that HP is related to spiritual level and thus not everyone has it.

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  84. All of the above quoted would seem to agree that there can be no HP at all on a baby, so would they answer the question "how could Hashem allow a baby to suffer such a horrible disease" with the answer "it's random"?

    Also, how does this square with the pasuk in Tehillim "Shomer Pesoim Hashem"?

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  85. Thanks for all of the sources!

    I never doubted that Rishonim held that not all are under HP. I need a good explanation of this, however, because from the ways it has been explained to me a) it sounds as if G-d is being limited, and b)I don't know how to incorpoarate it into avodas Hashem: there's nothing to be learned from anything that happens, unless it happened to a tzadik. As Snag says, it's random.

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  86. Snag said...

    All of the above quoted would seem to agree that there can be no HP at all on a baby, so would they answer the question "how could Hashem allow a baby to suffer such a horrible disease" with the answer "it's random"?
    =================
    Sefer Chasidim (#549): Why do a person’s children die? If you ask this ask why the children of Sedom were struck down? The answer is that danger came and they lacked the merit to be saved. In fact Lot himself was only saved from Sedom because of the merit of Avraham. But we see that Shmuel said that he was afraid that Shaul would kill him in the time of danger and we know he was a tzadik? The fact is one is only saved if he has very great merit...

    Shabbos (33b): When the generation has righteous men, then they die for the sins of the generations. When there are no righteous men, school children die instead.

    Shabbos (105b): Why do a person’s sons and daughters die while they are still young?…Because he did not mourn the death of a worthy person. Anyone who properly mourns the death of a worthy person has all their sins forgiven because of the respect he has shown.

    Shabbos (32b): Children die because of their parent’s unfulfilled vows…Some say because of neglect of Torah study. Others say it is because of the neglect of mezuzahs while others say it is neglect of tzitzis….R’ Nechemiah said as punishment for unjustified hatred - strife increases in a person’s house, his wife miscarries and his children die young.

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  87. Snag said...

    All of the above quoted would seem to agree that there can be no HP at all on a baby, so would they answer the question "how could Hashem allow a baby to suffer such a horrible disease" with the answer "it's random"?
    ===================
    In addition Ramban adds reincarnation
    =================
    Ramban (Shaar HaGemul #118): To conclude the topic of suffering: It is proper for a person who experienced any mishap or calamity to believe that it is the result of his sins. He should repent for the sins that he is aware of and should confess in general for those he doesn’t remember… If he sees a tzadik who dies as a tzadik, he should try to attribute it to the small number of sins that he committed. Similar one should assume that the tranquility of a wicked person is the result of some good deeds he might have done. If that explanation is not satisfactory because of the apparent greatness of the tzadik his outstanding merit, total freedom from sin and pure heart then he should realize that this is not readily answered about another person…. He should assume however that ultimately the righteous person will be justly rewarded for his righteousness…or that it involves the secret of transmigration of souls… In any case he should believe that there is righteousness, goodness and correct judgment in G d’s decisions - even though it might be concealed from him…. All of this is appropriate for every intelligent person to think about in order to understand how G d runs the world and His goodness with all His creatures. It is also critical that everyone understand the need to accept chastisement in the form of suffering. Nevertheless after saying all this, the question of why the righteous suffer still remains because we lack the ability to see events in its full context. In addition we typically don’t investigate the facts fully. We simply focus on the question of how this person got what he deserved in light of the fact that G d gives everyone what he deserves. In fact we see tzadikim who are killed while studying Torah or while they are fasting and praying with great fervor. Some people are born without organs and limbs. Some die before the age of 20 and yet were tzadikim who devoted their short lives to studying Torah and doing mitzvos. How could they deserve the punishment to die at the hand of Heaven which isn’t applicable until after the age of 20?… The suffering of the righteous Job is another case which is difficult to understand. So is the story of Rabbi Akiva whose Torah was so great and yet died in such a horrible way. Much more common are the cases of the wicked who enjoy peace and prosperity. Nevertheless the validity of the problem of suffering of the righteous and the peace of the wicked is independent upon whether it is rare or common. Our concern is not with man per se…but our questions are directed to G d whose deeds are just without any failing. It appears that the Rambam that the issue of the prosperity of the wicked did not bother him since that is simply a manifestation of G d’s kindness. The principle uncertainty concerns the suffering of the righteous. The Rambam asserts that the world is inherently kindness and that the suffering and calamities are typically either part of nature or created by man. He views that the only suffering and death from Heaven is for sin. This is true with the addition of what we have written and alluded to already. Blessed is he who knows the true and righteous Judge

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  88. Back to the question of what constitutes a heretical notion, the position of R Sternbuch et al seems to result in rather a pickle. Because surely it would mean that in fact R Shmuel Kamentsky and R Belsky are guilty of apikorsus, rachmana litzlan, since in this issue they are currently in the minority. In fact, on the shaky assumption that in the last generation most gedolim held like R Sternbuch then R Moshe would also have been heretical by holding that one doesn't have hold emunos like the majority. It creates a real zakein mumar kind of situation, no? R Eidensohn - help?!

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  89. Ben said...

    Back to the question of what constitutes a heretical notion, the position of R Sternbuch et al seems to result in rather a pickle. Because surely it would mean that in fact R Shmuel Kamentsky and R Belsky are guilty of apikorsus, rachmana litzlan, since in this issue they are currently in the minority. In fact, on the shaky assumption that in the last generation most gedolim held like R Sternbuch then R Moshe would also have been heretical by holding that one doesn't have hold emunos like the majority. It creates a real zakein mumar kind of situation, no? R Eidensohn - help?!
    =======================
    You have cogently summarized the issue. I think this has more to do with social control issues than halacha.

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  90. Daas Torah. Have you ever read Rav Hirsch? Are you well acquainted with his writings? Apparently not.

    Did you ever read Rabbi Elias's 19 letters? Rabbi Elias does not make RSRH into a "chareidi" thinker. You would do well to read it without just attributing Rav Bulman's priavte and personal off the cuff remarks.

    If you would read Rav Hirsch you would know Rav Hirsch is no modern day Chareidi but neither is he Nosson Slifkind. Rav Hirsch is a defender of Torah not an apologist. To compare Slifkind to him is just absurd.

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  91. Avrohom said...

    Daas Torah. Have you ever read Rav Hirsch? Are you well acquainted with his writings? Apparently not.

    Did you ever read Rabbi Elias's 19 letters? Rabbi Elias does not make RSRH into a "chareidi" thinker. You would do well to read it without just attributing Rav Bulman's priavte and personal off the cuff remarks.

    If you would read Rav Hirsch you would know Rav Hirsch is no modern day Chareidi but neither is he Nosson Slifkind. Rav Hirsch is a defender of Torah not an apologist. To compare Slifkind to him is just absurd.
    ==============
    You should read Rabbi Danziger's debate with Rabbi Elias that appeared inJewish Action

    Rabbi Danziger wrote in Jewish Action Magazine

    http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/rsrh/Danziger.pdf See page 21:

    Rav Michel Shurkin told me that a gadol (Brisker Rav?)said that to understand Hirsch and the tolerance for his deviations from the mainstream - it was like a customer who breaks the show window in a store. If it done by an unknown customer than you call the police. However if it done by a loyal customer you sit him down and give him a cup of tea and tell him not to worry about it. Since Hirsch did so much in kiruv and keeping his community frum - his deviations were tolerated by the yeshiva world

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  92. Avrohom you might also read Rav Schwab's collected writings where he states that it wasn't until after 20 years of studying Hirsch's writings that he realized that Hirsch actually meant what he said i.e., that it wasn't just kiruv Torah.

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  93. Slifkin in one of his books brings down 5 sources from the rishonim on understanding aggadatas .two of them are the rambams that chazal made mistakes in scientific knowledge.another I believe the rashbam is that they knew all true science but used current beliefs to convey deeper lessons.slifkin then chooses the rambams opinion as the right one.that I believe is, if not apikorses than very close to it.

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  94. Daas Torah, you commented above,
    "I was told by one of Rav Moshe Shapiro's talmidim that while the views expressed by Rabbi Slifkin were once used for kiruv they had started to infiltrate mainstream yeshivos and beis Yaakov's. Therefore he was prepared to destroy a generation in order to uproot these views from the mainstream.

    What has happened is there there is a lot less thinking in general and a tremendous increase in cynicism and loss of emunas chachomim."

    How can a view be good for kiruv but bad for the mainstream? We play games to get someone frum (teaching 'apikorsut') and then need to 'reprogram' them when they go to yeshivah?

    Secondly, you bemoan the lack of thinking and loss of emunat chachamim - unfortunately often there are those who wish to replace thinking with what they define to be emunat chachamim.

    It is interesting that those who tolerate Halachik differences between the Rema and the Shulchan Aruch, for example, are unwilling to tolerate differences in shitot regarding certain issues. On certain "delicate" issues people suddenly negate a da'at yachid, and someone who feels that da'at yachid makes sense becomes an apikores.

    When did all the machlokot throughout our mesorah disappear leaving only the select few 'acceptable' shitot? (I write this particularly referring to those topics that are not Halachah le-ma'aseh.)

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