Friday, October 22, 2010

R' Avi Shafran on Mendelsoh, Science & Slikin Affair

On the Main Line


http://onthemainline.blogspot.com/2010/10/interview-with-rabbi-avi-shafran-about.html


Here's a guest post consisting of a very interesting interview with Rabbi Avi Shafran conducted by Baruch Pelta. Below is the interview transcript. I will post another post shortly which will give some of the background info regarding the Mendelssohn article published in the Jewish Observer nearly 25 years ago, which may or may not be known to readers - but see this post for some of that background, as well as links to the relevant articles.[...]

35 comments :

  1. Baruch Pelta became an apikorus.

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  2. slifkin is a massive min and apikoros i would sugjest readers see rav aaron feldman book eye in the storm were he explaines the gedolims stance

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  3. slifkin will never leave gehenom

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  4. Is that what you pasken Hagaon Rav Suri?

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  5. orthodoxjew:
    "i would sugjest readers see rav aaron feldman book eye in the storm"

    heh. plenty have people have responded to that essay, now included in rabbi feldman's book, showing how it is incorrect. indeed, including myself (see here and here.)

    Suri:
    Hashem, I am honored to be in your presence! I didn't know that you took the time to comment on blogs.

    kol tuv,
    josh

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  6. Frum And Still ThinkingOctober 22, 2010 at 10:01 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  7. Frum And Still ThinkingOctober 22, 2010 at 10:01 PM

    The Feldman chapter from Eye of the Storm is a reprint of an earlier 2005 article, itself quite flawed.

    I'm not much of a Slifkin flag-waver; I've always found the whole thing overblown. But on the other hand the stuff that's written against him is so ridiculous & plain wrong that I become a defender by default.

    For one, I don't see how any thinking person could find this editorial of R' Aharon Feldman's remotely compelling or even trustworthy. The most glaring blemish therein is his summary of one of Slifkin's principal objections to the ban as its standing to hurt Slifkin's livelihood. Had R' Feldman believed that to be the substance of anyone's argument, he would have treated it as any thoughtful writer would: with derisive dismissal. None of his audience needs explanation that such a position is not to be taken seriously. But amazingly he actually proceeds to "refute" the Straw Man. Now how could any reader's alarm bells not start going off? Say what you want about Slifkin; I don't know the man, but one thing that emerges unimpeachably is that he is not stupid, and only someone very stupid could have sought to set forth the argument R' Aharon Feldman claims him to have made in his dog&pony show passing of as an essay.

    Quite obviously, R' Aharon Feldman is misrepresenting his chosen baal plugta, and he is doing so, it seems, for ideological purposes to whitewash the gedolim from a huge blunder they implicated themselves in at the thick-headed insistence of some fanatical advisors (Tropper & the like). Basically, he is trying to salvage our collective trust in "The Gedolim" so that American Jewry can happily remain comfortably sucking its thumb blissfully trusting its longstanding illusion that the Israeli Gedolim know best & never falter. (Mai nafkamina? A lifeblood amount of charitable monies to Jerusalem institutions.)

    What to me kills the credibility of R' Feldman's article even beyond
    (1) its glaring failure to represent its subject's arguments accurately
    (2) his neglecting to address/incorporate the many substantive responses & corrections to his article over the last 5yrs
    ARE
    (3) his failure to mention in any way R' N. Kamenetsky's similar difficulties with the same authorities, which difficulties predated Slifkin's and against whom R' Feldman could never had made the same charges* he did against Slifkin--the former being too much a gadol baTorah himself (probably larger than R' Feldman, actually)
    (4) his quietly presuming that rabbinical Daas Torah works in some manner akin to the Pope pronouncing Church dogma, as if hashkafic questions like the age of the universe and the status of science are subject to blanket halakhic pronouncement from rabbonim as clearly as other halakhic issues. Such a question is a large one, far from clear, and most likely not the way R' Feldman presumes it to fall. Of course, he must know that, so the article on this point alone betrays some disingenuousness.

    To sacrifice the factual record w/ some upstart smallfry like Slifkin as korbanos on the altar of ideological unity is hardly new, and at some level one would have to grant that it's even quite understandable. But for someone of R' Aharon Feldman's exalted stature, it amounts to AN ENORMOUS CHILLUL HASHEM.

    * [from Pt3 above] Note that if you want to say the two are not comparable, since R' Nosson's work had nothing to do with science, know that his personal account of his treatment at the hands of Rav Elyashiv (& "his trusted scholars") almost exactly mirrors Slifkin's.

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  8. Frum And Still ThinkingOctober 22, 2010 at 10:02 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  9. Frum And Still ThinkingOctober 22, 2010 at 10:03 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  10. Frum And Still ThinkingOctober 22, 2010 at 10:05 PM

    The Feldman chapter from Eye of the Storm is a reprint of an earlier 2005 article, itself quite flawed.

    I'm not much of a Slifkin flag-waver; I've always found the whole thing overblown. But on the other hand the stuff that's written against him is so ridiculous & plain wrong that I become a defender by default.

    For one, I don't see how any thinking person could find this editorial of R' Aharon Feldman's remotely compelling or even trustworthy. The most glaring blemish therein is his summary of one of Slifkin's principal objections to the ban as its standing to hurt Slifkin's livelihood. Had R' Feldman believed that to be the substance of anyone's argument, he would have treated it as any thoughtful writer would: with derisive dismissal. None of his audience needs explanation that such a position is not to be taken seriously. But amazingly he actually proceeds to "refute" the Straw Man. Now how could any reader's alarm bells not start going off? Say what you want about Slifkin; I don't know the man, but one thing that emerges unimpeachably is that he is not stupid, and only someone very stupid could have sought to set forth the argument R' Aharon Feldman claims him to have made in his dog&pony show passing of as an essay.

    Quite obviously, R' Aharon Feldman is misrepresenting his chosen baal plugta, and he is doing so, it seems, for ideological purposes to whitewash the gedolim from a huge blunder they implicated themselves in at the thick-headed insistence of some fanatical advisors (Tropper & the like). Basically, he is trying to salvage our collective trust in "The Gedolim" so that American Jewry can happily remain comfortably sucking its thumb blissfully trusting its longstanding illusion that the Israeli Gedolim know best & never falter. (Mai nafkamina? A lifeblood amount of charitable monies to Jerusalem institutions.)

    (cont'd....)

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  11. Frum And Still ThinkingOctober 22, 2010 at 10:28 PM

    (...cont'd)

    What to me kills the credibility of R' Feldman's article even beyond
    (1) its glaring failure to represent its subject's arguments accurately
    (2) his neglecting to address/incorporate the many substantive responses & corrections to his article over the last 5yrs
    ARE
    (3) his failure to mention in any way R' N. Kamenetsky's similar difficulties with the same authorities, which difficulties predated Slifkin's and against whom R' Feldman could never had made the same charges* he did against Slifkin--the former being too much a gadol baTorah himself (probably larger than R' Feldman, actually)
    (4) his quietly presuming that rabbinical Daas Torah works in some manner akin to the Pope pronouncing Church dogma, as if hashkafic questions like the age of the universe and the status of science are subject to blanket halakhic pronouncement from rabbonim as clearly as other halakhic issues. Such a question is a large one, far from clear, and most likely not the way R' Feldman presumes it to fall. Of course, he must know that, so the article on this point alone betrays some disingenuousness.

    To sacrifice the factual record w/ some upstart smallfry like Slifkin as korbanos on the altar of ideological unity is hardly new, and at some level one would have to grant that it's even quite understandable. But for someone of R' Aharon Feldman's exalted stature, it amounts to AN ENORMOUS CHILLUL HASHEM.

    * [from Pt3 above] Note that if you want to say the two are not comparable, since R' Nosson's work had nothing to do with science, know that his personal account of his treatment at the hands of Rav Elyashiv (& "his trusted scholars") almost exactly mirrors Slifkin's.

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  12. hum thanks slifkin for your response as frum and still thinking now i belive rav aaron feldman shlita referes to the slifkin affair as the biggest chillul hashem in this generation so thanks slifkin for that enjoy this world because the causer of such a c.h. will never leave gehenom

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  13. excuse me but i heard a shiur from both rav feldman and from n kammenetzky' rav feldman can wipe the floors with n.k in his sleep

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  14. excuse me but i heard a shiur from both rav feldman and from n kammenetzky' rav feldman can wipe the floors with n.k in his sleep

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  15. Suri:
    "hum thanks slifkin for your response"

    where did "Slifkin" respond here? as disgusted as i am by your attitude of stripping semicha from rabbis you disagree, i think i am even more bothered by your writing skills. they never taught you about punctuation and about run on sentences in elementary school?

    kol tuv,
    josh waxman

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  16. Rabbi Eidensohn- I am always amazed by the types of people you attract to your blog. I think you understand what I mean.

    Kol Tov.

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  17. > i belive rav aaron feldman shlita referes to the slifkin affair as the biggest chillul hashem in this generation

    Not pedophlie rabbis. Not Rubashkin. Not Tropper. Not the riots in Meah Shearim.

    You know, there's a Chazal I've always had trouble understanding, the one where they say that Bnei Yisrael during the times of the two kingdoms were all very frum except for Avodah Zarah. Yes they worshipped idols but they were scrupulous about kashrus, niddah, Shabbos, etc. Didn't make sense to me, perhaps because I live in a society where the opposite - people believe in one God but ignore the rest of the halacha - is so common.
    But seeing how some segments of the frum community have become so vitriolic towards anyone who disgrees with their ideology while being medakdek with everything else gives me a new understanding of that Chazal.

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  18. Frum And Still ThinkingOctober 26, 2010 at 3:35 AM

    I am also typically amazed by the nature of this blog's readership, but I mean it in more of a good way. Definitely an eclectic lot.

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  19. Well Josh "frum and still thinking" is slifkin from his style writing.

    as for my writing i dont use spell check when im on my cellphone in a rush.

    So yes I agree my grammar and spelling has room for improvment.

    I love these guys who always complain about the spelling and dont address the issue on hand

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  20. surprisingly, Hocker and OrthodoxJew (here and on his blog) also have similar problems with spelling and grammar. As for the addressing the 'issue at hand', that is just laughable. What 'issue'? That an anonymous person calls names to someone else? But when someone posts *illiterate*, hateful, and ignorant screeds, they shouldn't expect anyone else to take them seriously. Instead, the reaction will likely be that unfortunately, that person must be off his or her meds.

    kol tuv,
    josh

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  21. Frum And Still ThinkingOctober 26, 2010 at 8:09 PM

    JoshW,
    I don't see why my comments would amount to 'namecalling'. For sure I pass judgment, but all the reasons why are delineated explicitly & with clear factual citation as to what was actually written or not.

    Btw, for those who are interested in the content of Rav Aharon Feldman's pronouncement, I do see that Slifkin posted it online.

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  22. "But when someone posts *illiterate*, hateful, and ignorant screeds, they shouldn't expect anyone else to take them seriously. Instead, the reaction will likely be that unfortunately, that person must be off his or her meds."

    That was certainly my reaction, Rabbi Waxman.

    It makes just about zero sense to call the commentator Rabbi Slifkin or any other person - we have no way to know who anyone here is except the blog owner. Unless that person thinks they have nevuah - in which case, they are in need of medication. Does that person perhaps not realize how many people agree with Rabbi Slifkin, are of like mind, and comment on such issues? Does this person not realize that Rabbi Slifkin wrote a response on this issue *In his own name, on his own blog, so he would have no reason to come here under an alias and give a very different response while hiding his identity?

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  23. Frum And Still Thinking:
    "I don't see why my comments would amount to 'namecalling'."

    To clarify, I wasn't addressing you, but rather Suri/HOCKER/orthodoxjew. Indeed, Suri believes you are 'Slifkin' in disguise.

    kol tuv,
    josh

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  24. Frum And Still Thinking is not R Slifkin. I know him personally.

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  25. to further clarify, indeed, i didn't think so either.

    :)

    kt,
    josh

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  26. Mr. Ironheart

    I would like to address the question u had about what constitutes the biggest chillul hashem

    don’t get me wrong ,the tropper scandal ,riots in meah sheorim etc and businesses hiring illegal aliens are all not proper and are a great cause of anguish to torah true Jews, however if we look, yes at the chazal, of the way chazal(I know with slifkin supporters I should not be referring chazal because after all they know better)classify what is considered the worst chilull hashem I believe we will find an interesting thing not common to many amei haraetz from the slifkin group the rambam says the worst chillul hashem is one committed in front of ten Jews not the chillul hashem of the nations laughing at us and I must say the nations laughing at us has always been a problem in golus as the novei says "lag vokeles bagoim"

    So yes we have had embarrassing moments on TV all too often recently, which still may not be in hashems eyes the biggest chillul hashem because goyim etc will always look for reasons to laugh at us

    But when some one gets up in front of thousands of religious Jews and besmirches chazal, our basic trust in the sages, and claims the gedolim don’t know what they are talking about. And with his claim to understanding science undermines the respect many have for the words of the sages from the time of the writing of the Talmud until now. and he h knows better because he has some suto understanding of science that changes every 2 years and there fore chazal just made mistakes etc or were not as educated as he is , yes that is a huge chilul hashem added his gasus and massive ignorance not to be machnia to the greatest minds of our generation. Yes that is a huge chillul hashem because it’s by us by Jews in front of thousands of Jews

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  27. maybe the people during the 2 temples worshiped science but just tried to keep everything else

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  28. Frum And Still ThinkingOctober 27, 2010 at 10:20 AM

    R' Feldman never cited the technical concept of chillul H' per se (al pi haRambam, e.g.); he called the Slifkin Affair "the public issue most damaging to the honor of Torah and to its leaders in recent memory." A chillul H' mammisch--the very first lemaaseh mitzvah the Rambam brings in his Mishneh Torah, and included in which are the bases for sacrificing one's life itself--would definitely be more serious. He's referring, I think, to a popular crisis of confidence in leadership. That's not halakhic, necessarily, but a matter of communal health.

    Anyway, even were one to grant all of R' Feldman's objections to Slifkin, the bigger chillul H' are those who go around asserting Chazal's absolute infallibility, since that is not only keneged the Torah as we understand it (what, we're Saint worshippers now, like the Christians?), but just plain stupid. Learned frum Jews shouldn't have to make pathetically dumb arguments, esp. when they're based on mistakes (as R' Waxman pointed out above via his links).

    When a talmid chakham & Torah leader like R' Feldman goes around preaching Aish-Discovery-type mumbo jumbo arguments as basis for belief, that is a chillul H' (that is, in addition to publically willfully misconstruing his opponent's position.

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  29. "besmirches chazal"
    This has been discussed to death already, elsewhere. I don't see where Rabbi Slifkin has ever besmirched Chazal. And saying that they relied on contemporary science, as poskim are *supposed* to do, and do indeed do until today, is not besmirching them. Rav Shamshon Refael Hirch said as much, explaining that they may get some science wrong but that this does not besmirch them. (Or is he now "Shamshon Refael Hirsch", without the appelation "Rabbi" because you disagree with him?)

    "and claims the gedolim don’t know what they are talking about"
    Some Gedolim certainly don't, particularly in matters of metzius of science. Instead, they rely on others. Dr. Isaac Betech, for example, "showed them" that there is no evidence for evolution, such that there would be no prompting for Rabbi Slifkin's books, for the purposes of kiruv. Is it possible for a Gadol, deliberately not educated in modern science, to err after consulting those he incorrectly considers experts? Well, why otherwise would Rav Chaim Kanievsky assert, on the basis of his medical expert (whom he properly consulted, BTW), that gentiles indeed have a different number of teeth than Jews? (See here.)

    Your argument is essentially one of appeal to authority.

    "not to be machnia to the greatest minds of our generation"
    are you machnia to Rav Chaim Kanievsky that Jews and gentiles have a different number of teeth?

    kol tuv,
    josh

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  30. mr wax man you can check this out

    http://theorthodoxjew.blogspot.com/2010/10/torah-umadah-and-slifkin-affair-and.html

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  31. is this yet another pseudonym? why the use of Mr. instead of Josh, or Rabbi? that, alone, makes you laughable and not worthy of consideration. if you consider Rav Feldman to be your guide, why don't you ask him if he would be in favor of "Mr. Lamm" or "n. kaminetsky". I am certain he would be appalled at your behavior. (See my application of this approach across the board, even with people whose conduct or positions I ideologically oppose.) indeed, the gemara in Sanhedrin 99b labels an apikores one who is mevazeh a talmid chacham. while it is debatable whether my following Rav Hirsch in a respectful manner is this, your stripping semicha of those talmidei chachamim you disagree with is much more clear-cut. are you an apikores?

    that post of yours is just re-assertion of the same exact points. very strong rhetoric. big deal. it didn't even deal with the words of Rav Shamshon Refael Hirsch, who asserted precisely this point that Chazal can err in science, but instead sidestepped this entirely.

    no other even Rishon argued on Rashi, in halacha or in interpretation of a gemara? no Acharon decided in favor of other Rishonim than Rashi? the Vilna Gaon and the Shaages Aryeh never argued against Rishonim in halacha? there were no Rishonim who said Chazal erred in science? quite surprising. no, scratch that. false, rather.

    and if you believe that, e.g., "even thought [sic] scientist [sic] are constantly changing there [sic] thoughts, ideas, hypothesis [sic] etc [sic]" is a strong, albeit illiterate point, then you are just being silly.

    meanwhile, are you machnia to Rav Chaim Kaminetsky who, based on context, was clearly talking about reality? if you do not, then you are clearly a min and a kofer, by your own definitions.

    so, are you an apikores? are you a min and a kofer? inquiring minds want to know.

    :)

    kol tuv,
    josh

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  32. is this yet another pseudonym? why the use of Mr. instead of Josh, or Rabbi? that, alone, makes you laughable and not worthy of consideration. if you consider Rav Feldman to be your guide, why don't you ask him if he would be in favor of "Mr. Lamm" or "n. kaminetsky". I am certain he would be appalled at your behavior. (See my application of this approach across the board, even with people whose conduct or positions I ideologically oppose.) indeed, the gemara in Sanhedrin 99b labels an apikores one who is mevazeh a talmid chacham. while it is debatable whether my following Rav Hirsch in a respectful manner is this, your stripping semicha of those talmidei chachamim you disagree with is much more clear-cut. are you an apikores?

    that post of yours is just re-assertion of the same exact points. very strong rhetoric. big deal. it didn't even deal with the words of Rav Shamshon Refael Hirsch, who asserted precisely this point that Chazal can err in science, but instead sidestepped this entirely.

    no other even Rishon argued on Rashi, in halacha or in interpretation of a gemara? no Acharon decided in favor of other Rishonim than Rashi? the Vilna Gaon and the Shaages Aryeh never argued against Rishonim in halacha? there were no Rishonim who said Chazal erred in science? quite surprising. no, scratch that. false, rather.

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  33. and if you believe that, e.g., "even thought [sic] scientist [sic] are constantly changing there [sic] thoughts, ideas, hypothesis [sic] etc [sic]" is a strong, albeit illiterate point, then you are just being silly.

    meanwhile, are you machnia to Rav Chaim Kaminetsky who, based on context, was clearly talking about reality? if you do not, then you are clearly a min and a kofer, by your own definitions.

    so, are you an apikores? are you a min and a kofer? inquiring minds want to know.

    :)

    kol tuv,
    josh

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  34. I too suspect (for obvious reasons) that our kanoi is posting under multiple names.

    I find it hilarious not only that that post was tagged with among other things "Eidensohn" (relevance?), but also that direct quotes from rishonim and aharonim were pasted into the comments section completely blowing up his argument with the first few comments. Maybe he should take English classes rather than spending his time misrepresenting Jewish history.

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  35. To add one other reason to suspect this, Suri tried leaving a message at my blog about "Slifkin and his fans and fallowers [sic]", while OrthodoxJew in a recent post makes the same spelling mistake about "the fallowing [sic] are my thoughts".

    kt,
    josh

    ReplyDelete

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