Sunday, July 15, 2018

Dr Klafter and Rav SHMuEL Kaminetsky regarding SLIFKIN AFFAIR

6) Seeing religious leaders who are ohavei yisroel, moser nefesh for fellow Jews, humble, kind, empathic, and able to listen has a deep impact on all Jews, especially young children. When Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky shlit"a came to Cincinnati for a wedding, he spoke at our day school to all the children. My daughter was extremely young at the time, and whenever she hears the name Kamenetsky she immediately and enthusiastically states, "I met him!". This made an impact on her. 

GOOGLEBOOKSBinyamin Klafter, MD

Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry University of Cincinnati College of Medicine 222 Piedmont Ave, Suite 8500

Cincinnati, OH 45219

Phone: (513)475-8710

FAX: (513)475-8023

Email: From: Nachum Binyamin Klafter, MD

To: The Esteemed Rabbi David Feinstein, l'\11tJ'',W [ address removed]

I am writing this letter to Rabbi Feinstein in my capacity as the head of the Education Committee of the Chafetz Chaim-Cincinnati Hebrew Day School, which is a Torah UMesorah affiliated institution. I am also writing personally, as a Jew who takes seriously Rabbi Feinstein's positions in ;,::,1,;, and ;,::ipw;,. (Rabbi Feinstein may not remember me, but he has spoken to me by phone when I was referred to him by Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky for a very complicated ;,1,~w, and with Rabbi Feinstein's po::i we were blessed with another daughter 3 months ago, ';,"J.)

It has come to my attention that Rabbi Feinstein signed a ban on the books of Rabbi Nosson Slifkin which calls upon him to bum his writings and retract publicly the beliefs expressed in his books. The ban characterizes his writings, among other things, as " t:l'l'\'m mrm ;-ii,::,:, '1:11." The ban also forbids the book from being brought into any religious home. The books referred to are The Science of Torah, Mysterious Creatures, and The Camel, the Hare, and the Hyrax. The ban states that Rabbi Slifkin should no longer be allowed to teach Torah or engage in t:rp,ni :in'j?. The ban additionally states that the Torah scholars who signed approbations to his books have retracted their endorsements.

I am familiar with the contents of The Science of Torah, and Mysterious Creatures, but have not yet read the third book mentioned in the ban. Rabbi Slifkin's writings reflect the same teachings and attitudes to which I have been exposed for many years now by my own rabbis regarding statements by 't"m which appear to be contradicted by contemporary scientific knowledge. In addition, some of the ill11j? '11,'j''; staff members of our day school (who are all rmrc r:rpo,~, 1:mw 'N1') share many of these attitudes. I am very concerned that our school faculty and I espouse ideas which Rabbi Feinstein believes are "mrm ;,-,,~:, '1:11."

I am told by several individuals in close contact with the in;, ,,,,,. that the signatories of this ban were shown only excerpts from Rabbi Slifkin's writings, and that none of them read his books in their entirety. It is obviously very easy when dealing with such delicate issues (like, for example, the limitations or fallibility of our sages) to take Rabbi Slifkin' s statements out of context and create an impression that his remarks were derogatory or disrespectful to ?"m. However, the noted Rabbis who have given their m?JJD;-J to Rabbi Slifkin's books all have the impression that Rabbi Slifkin shows tremendous reverence for ?"m and thirst for their teachings. (See, for example, Rabbi Yisroel Belsky's enthusiastic ;-J?JJD;-J to The Camel, The Hare, and the Hyrax, which indicates that he studied the entire book carefully.) Would Rabbi Feinstein consider examining Rabbi Slifkin's books more thoroughly, or meeting with him for clarification about what his beliefs are? As one can imagine, the personal consequences of this ban for Rabbi Slifkin (now branded by this ban as a p?J and ,~,:,) are quite severe.


  1. In the years since the Slifkin ban, the signatories have been proven prophetic by Mr. Slifkin subsequent to the ban having gone on a lifetime mission of nearly daily attacks against the Torah community and Torah leaders.

  2. That is silly. His attacks are a result from the ban. It is impossible to say what his views would be today if there had been no ban.

  3. I don't necessarily disagree with you that had he not been banned he wouldn't today be attacking the Torah community and Torah leaders. Nevertheless, his behavior over the last half a decade is unacceptable even if one held that the ban was wrong in the first place. His being wrongly banned, if that's what one believes, in no way justifies his subsequent numerous attacks on every aspect of the communities and leaders.

    As such, the banning signatories original statement that "even what is not heretical is expressed in a way only a heretic would speak" has been vividly lived up to by Mr. Slifkin.

  4. Examples of heresy?

  5. "Even what is not heretical is expressed in a way only a heretic would speak."

  6. "daily attacks against the Torah community and Torah leaders."
    He is defending himself form such attacks
    There is nothing heretical about arguing the logic of a matter.

    Just because some of his opponents have had their own sex scandals.

    Like i've said before, some people attack this blog as being heretical, and speaking the way of heretics.

  7. how about speaking actual heresy in a way only a Talmid Hacham would speak?

  8. Nothing to do with defending himself on the ban issue or his books. For years now he's been attacking the Torah community and Torah leaders on many and all topics and subjects completely unrelated to any of his books or the bans thereof.

  9. "he's been attacking the Torah community and Torah leaders on many and all topics"

    Incorrect. he is arguing the case of rationalism, within Torah, since there is a historical tradition of Rationalism, most notably, leaders such as Saadia, Rambam, Ralbag, Meiri, etc and even more recently leaders such as Rav S R Hirsch, Rav Emden, Rav Y Y Weinberg, all ztl.
    Even within the mystical world, there are those who are more notably rationalists, such as Ramchal and the Gra.

  10. That has nothing to do with what is being referred to. Specifically his near daily attacks on a wide range of rabbinical leaders and on Orthodox communities. Attacks from him that have nothing to do with the topic of rationalism or support of other rabbis.

  11. Again, you are projecting backwards from current behavior to the past. People that undergo traumatic experiences, such as being railroaded by dishonest enemies, can change as a result of the process.

  12. Do you understand that there is a difference between "attacks" and "criticisms"? If he sees things that are objectionable, and has a platform to publicize those objections, why shouldn't he? Isn't that 99% of what this blog does?

  13. His subjects are usually rationalism, science, and interpretations of gemara/Halacha. Eg which way does the sun go at night.

  14. Yes. And the vast majority of his broadsides against the frum community and rabbonim are unequivocal attacks rather than mere "criticisms".

  15. That is your subjective assessment.

  16. As opposed to a scientific assessment by religion experts?

  17. Frum community? So modern o are not frum?

  18. How about Mr teitlebaum , Mr gestetner, Mr whoever you follow?

  19. The comments should begin at the root. Was Rabbi S innocent of what the bans accused him of? Some say, and I agree, he was completely innocent, and the entire Kiruv world had been using the same basic ideas as him. You have to search for the shocked reactions recorded on the web at the time, of frum, devout people who were beside themselves in pain at what Manhigim had done (but if that's unthinkable, we can stop the conversation right now. Good bye).

    The ban disguised itself as opposing lonely Rabbi S, but it was actually an indictment (a false one) against the entire Kiruv movement. Later some were pressured to give in; anyway the idea of "Daas Torah" was part of their program so how could they stick it out?

    A leading Rav told Rabbi S that he became, literally, physically sick from the ban. That gives you an idea how just calling the ban "wrong" hardly does justice to what it really was. (Some months later this Rav changed sides and wrote an article defending the ban, based on many Mareh Mekomos, and I accepted it to be true, until others shredded it to pieces. The Rav never responded to them, and it's hard to believe he has any response at all.)

    But I don't want to dwell on whether the ban was stupendously wrong or not, only whether Rabbi S's conduct ever since is rooted in the ban. Well, if so many people far removed from the ban were (correctly or not) shocked out of their minds by it, you can be sure it affected Rabbi S himself.

    Ask yourself, how much of my positive outlook, on whatever ideas, is based on my love of the people who promulgate it? This shouldn't happen to anyone, but whoever is set adrift emotionally and alienated from the very people and society he has been raised to love and revere, is likely to do exactly what Rabbi S is doing. You don't need a prophet to predict that.

    Then there is "בקמים עלי מרעים תשמענה אזני" interpreted by HGREBW and HGRAM to mean that if someone criticizes you, listen up, cause he might be right. If yes, and you are powerless to right society's ills, you as an individual right yourself. If not, study it well and figure out exactly why society's conduct is okay, and dismiss the criticism. Don't engage in sweeping dismissals. Take one at a time and study it.

    So if I may trouble the commenters, please first state your opinion on how correct the ban was, before launching into an analysis of Rabbi S's subsequent conduct.

    (IIRC, RDE did not agree with the ban, even though he translated RMS's letter against Rabbi S.)

  20. I already asked him for examples but they were not forthcoming instead he just repeats his claim either verbatim or slightly differently worded

  21. Whoever didn't familiarize himself how correct/incorrect the ban was
    isn't in the position to decide if Rabbi S's reaction is extreme/wicked
    or is basically natural under the extreme/wicked circumstances that were
    initiated by others. A wealth of information is available at, including the full text of Dr
    Klafter's letter (with the actual Hebrew instead of the gibberprint that
    showed up here) that offers a much more thorough demonstration that
    Rabbi S's books were mainstream, that the great Maskimim judged him far far far from being or even talking like a heretic, and other edifying
    information ... after which one becomes more qualified to offer an

  22. Here is an edited quote from Rabbi S. In the original he's dealing with “Talmidim” of “Rav …”. I edited it so that his thoughts are carried over to “followers” (which happens not to exclude us) of the “Manhigim”. Often I have to change a word such as the singular “his” (=that Rav's) to the plural “their” (=the Manhigim's) to be consistent with the way I edited it. Other things were also changed as necessary.

    “I have seen several (talmidim of Rav …) [followers of the Manhigim], who are apparently overwhelmed by (his) [their] brilliance and ... personality, write about being entirely mevatel their daas to (him) [them]. Unfortunately this seems to place a great strain upon them. Many of (Rav ...’s talmidim) [the Manhigim's followers] come from less-than-yeshivishe backgrounds and work with people who possess a strong secular education. They were attracted to (Rav ...) [them] because of (his broad and sophisticated outlook) [their greatness]. They never discussed the issues of Torah and science with (him) [them], and assumed that (he) [they] would have an openminded approach in these areas. When (Rav …) [they] condemned my books as kefirah, insisted that ... the writings of Rabbeinu Avraham ben HaRambam and Rav Hirsch were forgeries, many of (his talmidim) [their followers] were stunned and shaken.

    "As a result, rather than accept (his) [their] opposition to my work for what it is – a genuine dispute with modern science, and a refusal to accept that many prominent Rishonim and Acharonim took a fundamentally different approach ... – they prefer to reinterpret (his) [their] stance to make it more palatable. Rather than confront questions such as ... “If I respect Rav Hirsch, and (Rav …) [they] claim(s) that he is outside of legitimate Judaism, how am I to relate to that?” it is much easier for them to focus on me, to speak about how I am chutzpadik, or stubborn, or whatever. These claims provide the necessary distraction to avoid dealing with the substance of my arguments.

    "Unfortunately it is all too clear that when (his talmidim) [their followers] read this monograph, the more that it resonates with them, the more conflicted they will become. As a result, some will undoubtedly become all the more driven to further discredit me in all kinds of ways. I can only hope that many of them will have the necessary selfconfidence and level-headedness to be able to accept the points that I have made; ... and to be able to be proud (talmidim) [followers] of (a) brilliant Torah scholar[s] without having to insist that (his) [their] approach to these topics is the only one that exists."



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