Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Rabbi Slifkin responds

In the interest of equal time we present to you - in the form of a "comment mine" -the response to Zezmir's Natan Slifkin loses an admirer."

Natan Slifkin here. I have to tell you, I myself hated the Prager interview. I was totally unprepared for the rapid pace of the questions and the minimal time that I was given for responses. That kind of topic is way too complex for me to be able to give two-second sound bites off-the-cuff. I did not present my approach accurately and I regret the interview immensely. But I have no idea what you mean about my being intellectually dishonest or presenting my own opinion as fact. Of course I believe the truth of my own opinions, that's why I formed them! But in my books I always make it completely clear that other opinions exist. If you believe that I have done otherwise, please cite examples. And I never pass off my personal interpretation of an authority as his unequivocal position where I am aware of scholars that have a different understanding. If you believe that I have done otherwise, please cite examples.

(Regarding the zoo tour - sorry, Milhouse, if you were disappointed. I can give you a refund. But it's certainly very, very far from accurate to say that all I do is recite a passuk about the animal or the place in Perek Shirah where it is mentioned.)

Something that frustrates me is when people say "But he's not an authority in science etc." I never present my approach on the strength of personal authority, but rather on the strength of the arguments themselves. Yet people seem to be reluctant to actually cite anything from my books to back up their charges. Funny and true story - there was one person who kept on insisting that I speak disrespectfully about Chazal. When he was pushed to actually cite an example, he dodged and dodged, and finally came up with the fact that I accept evolution! I'm glad to listen to criticisms of my work and correct it where appropriate - but some people are clearly trying to dress up their religious objections to modern science as being something else.

91 comments:

zezmir said...

I must admit that I am greatly surprised that R' Slifkin visited here and graced us with a response! I would like to reiterate that I have no personal animosity for you or your approach (who would have thought you’d want to discuss it with some simple blogger!).
In the near future I will try, G-d willing, to write something more detailed and specific, I hadn’t thought that you would be interested, but since you express an interest in discussing it, I will make some time amid my Pesach cleaning.

But just a couple quick points based on your last 2 books that I read and the interview:

* Hashgocha klalis is no more legitimate (and perhaps less so) than the shita of Hashgocha Protis, yet you dismiss it as some minority view held by backward thinking members of the Jewish flat-earth society.
* Reincarnation is a very commonly held view among gedolei Yisroel, especially the Ari and mikubalim, yet you give it almost no credence.
* The Ramabam's positions are more complex than you tend to express them, and you tend to state your understanding of them as if it is the only one.

I have no problem with the attempt to reconcile Torah & Chazal with modern science – any thinking person does this on some level – my problem is that if your going to write a book on science you are thus claiming yourself to be an authority, yet you admit that your not a scientist, at the very least you need to provide more satisfying answers and compelling evidence.

I seriously wonder what the common reader walks away with after reading the books, etc. The message I got is something like this: Rabbi Slifkin wants you to feel comfortable accepting secular thinking and remaining Torah observant – the fact that there are many problems with the way many people generally understand things shouldn’t bother you, just call it a nice story but you only have to believe what you want.

But where do we draw the line? When do we wonder if we have slipped off the solid ground? What about the things that still don’t have good answers? What about the reality that science changes its mind quite often? I didn’t get clear answers from you there.

The positions you take also put major sections of Jewish thought out to pasture. You give virtually no credence to the mystical (sod), nor do you provide a respectable alternative approach when you discuss an issue. Obviously, you have your opinion, but when writing a book as the answer to, or the approach to dealing with, these issues, I would think that it is only honest to provide the reader with more than the singe perspective that you like best personally, unless it’s just supposed to be a personal diary.

Respectfully,
- Zezmir

Natan Slifkin said...

Thanks for being a little more specific, although I would have preferred citations - which would have answered most of your questions.

1. I don't dismiss the notion of universal hashgacha pratis - I state that it was not the prevalent view amongst the Rishonim. As far as I know, this is accurate.

2. Everyone knows that reincarnation is held of by many Gedolim. But not many people are aware that it is not universally held of and that other Gedolim disputed it. I don't "give it no credence" - I merely point out this little-known fact.

3. I present Rambam's positions through the lens of all the meforshim that I am aware of. For example, in the case of the six days, I present it through the lens of Abarbanel, Akeidas Yitzchak, etc. In the case of hashgachah, I mention that there is considerable dispute as to the exact nature of his view.

Your general questions about Torah and science are, I believe, adequately addressed in chapters 6 and 7 of The Challenge Of Creation.

I don't need to be a scientist, because nothing that I write is anything that a scientist would dispute!

I truly don't understand your claim that it would be "honest" to provide the reader with more than one favored perspective. Surely the honest thing to do is to present all the approaches, and explain what I believe to the drawbacks of each one of them, and why I personally favor one over another.

This echoes what I wrote in my previous comment. It seems that very often, when people throw out accusations of "intellectual dishonesty" or "one-sidedness", what they really mean is that they are offended that their personal approach wasn't favored!

It's funny - there are many books discussing hashgachah that don't mention how many Rishonim held it wasn't universal. There are many books presenting belief in gilgulim as a fact which don't mention that many Gedolim disputed it. There are many books on Torah and science which don't mention approaches of Rambam and Rav Hirsch (or dismiss them as forgeries!). Yet the people who protest against my books don't seem to protest these books as being intellectually dishonest or one-sided!

Particularly amusing was one of the last comments to the previous post which said that in defending myself against the condemnations of my work by the Gedolim (which he characterizes as my "fighting"), I "presented things in so one-sided a manner." This is hilarious. Unlike my critics, I give plenty of voice to my opponents. Unlike the books that they promote (e.g. Afikei Mayim), I always acknowledge the existence of other approaches. And yet I get accused of presenting things in a one-sided manner! Why, because I believe my position to be correct?

I don't really have time to spend in the blogosphere, nor do I wish to engage some of its less savory inhabitants. But I wanted to point out how many criticisms of my work are conspicuous by their lack of citations, and how they seem to be transparent guises for a different complaint entirely.

zezmir said...

You said: "It seems that very often, when people throw out accusations of "intellectual dishonesty" or "one-sidedness", what they really mean is that they are offended that their personal approach wasn't favored!"


No, I don't think that is accurate - perhaps replace favored with credibly included.

Slomon A said...

I am troubled by the fact that Rabbi Slifkin does not correct anything he said or did not say in the Prager interview. Since many of his answers in the interview do seem to represent a Non-Torah view, why does he not simply say, that those opinions understood in the interview are not his true opinions and views.

Itzhak Schier said...

Thank you for your response, Rabbi Slifkin. I now see that what I felt all along, which is that your work is empty and therefore too insignificant to get heated up about, is correct. Hatzlocho.

Natan Slifkin said...

Zezmir - always included. If not credibly - I try to give my reasons.

Slomon - My opinions on the matters discussed in the Prager interview were not presented appropriately there - they are stated more accurately and comprehensively in my book The Challenge Of Creation.

A Yid said...

Noson Slifkin:

You didn't answer to the critique, that you dismiss the view of mekubolim, taking the position of philosophers who denied Kabolo. There were those who tried to work in this field of reconciling present knowledge of science with Toyro did so having a deep knowledge of the last, including Kabolo. Such as Reb Avrohom deHirera and baal Seyfer haBris. In recent time - Rabbi Arye Kaplan was such man. He did this work having a very thorough knowledge, and not just picking facts here and there, that some held of gilgulim, and some not. Amongst Gaonim - Rav Saadia Goen is known to deny gilgulim, but other Gaonim considered such view on this issue wrong. Only a very small minority denied gilgulum.

Natan Slifkin said...

Yid - where I did dismiss the mekubollim?

zezmir said...

R' Slifkin,

Please don't confuse me with those who may have an axe to grind, farkert, I have always defended you.

I don't have the books with me here, but the mekubalim are dismissed in the last 2 books, how can you claim otherwise?

Also, the emes is that very, very, few "gedolim" after the Zohar reject gilgul. To my knowledge, Rav Hirsch does not mention it. Nor does the Rambam (as far as I know), but the Ramban, Rabbenu Bachaye, Recanti, Mahrsha, Alshich, Ohr HaChaim, Baal Shem Tov v'talmidav, Vilna Gaon, Brisker Rov, Ben Ish Chai, Kaf HaChaim, etc., sure do! Those who reject gilgul are basically hashkafah-actavists rooted in the philosophical works of the early Rishonim. (I doubt that the Abarbanel rejected gilgul, but am not sure, due to my limited knowledge of his works.)

I am not fan of witch hunts or one-size-fits-all Yiddishkeit, so I applaud diversity in thought; but I find that you are often simply doing the same as your opponents just from the opposite perspective. I don't think I missed it, but please correct me if Im wrong - Where do you cite other perspectives in Man & Beast or Challenge of Creation in a credible way?

Anonymous said...

Reb Natan,

I have to admit that I too was aghast at the interview. Primarily I felt that you had no business discussing such sensitive material in soundbite format. We're talking here Ikrei Emunah and you did so with little caution.
You claim that you were surprised by it as well. That tells me that you are either reckless or naive. You realize of course that your approach has been criticized at least partially because it treads on dangerous territory. You may not choose to agree with that but it is an opinion that has been advanced by more than a few to my knowledge [and I've followed this contr. quite a bit.]
Why didn't you do due diligance and find out what the format of his show was like before agreeing to be interviewed? You can listen to all his show clips online and two minutes of it would have confirmed your fears. Why did not hesitate first?
I've read a few of your books [Seasons of Life was really nice] and don't hold much stake in the controversy either way. The interview was my first serious question on your approach and I know I was not alone in that. A few people I'd spoken to shared similar sentiments as well.
It was rather reckless and unimpressive.

Natan Slifkin said...

Zezmir - I really have no idea what you're talking about. Re. gilgulim, I wrote: "Although the explanation of Rabbi Margaliyos seems to solve many of the difficulties, some will nevertheless find it difficult to accept. The concept of transmigration of souls is not universally agreed upon." I added a footnote listing those who disagree with gilgulim. How is that "dismissing" it? What are you objecting to? To be sure, there were few in recent times who rejected it - but what difference does that make here? What would you have preferred - that I make no mention of the fact that there were those who disputed it? How would that have been honest?

And in The Challenge Of Creation, I don't "dismiss" kabballah either. I present Rav Aryeh Kaplan's approach, based on Rav Yitzchak of Acco, and I show why it has problems and why Rav Kaplan himself ultimately retracted it. What's wrong there?

To say that I am "doing the same as my opponents just from the opposite perspective" seems ludicrous. They either don't acknowledge that other opinions exist or claim them to be forgeries! (this is aside from all the other differences e.g. their reluctance to back up their proclamations with any explanations, their refusal to discuss matters in person, etc.)

Anonymous - it was a mistake, what can I say. As it happens, I was encouraged to do it. And many people felt that it was great. But I personally feel very uncomfortable about it. By the way, have you actually read my book Challenge Of Creation? Also please give your name.

JJ said...

Reb Natan

I too feel that the interview was a terrible format to be asked such questions, especially seeing how fast paced it was. It was more like a game show; asking you opinion about such lofty ideals and issues and wanting a 10 second answer for it. What you could've done was politely refuse to answer such questions, especially ones like "do you believe in the exodus from Egypt?" or "Who wrote the bible." What seemed to me was that Christians seemed to believe more than an Orthodox Rabbi. That cannot be a good thing.

zezmir said...

JJ,
You are surely right, and it is somewhat unfair of me to put so much weight in a single (ill-advised) radio performance.

R' Slifkin,
I hear you. Over the next couple days I'll try to spend some time at home compiling some of the quotes that bothered me.

I must say that I am impressed and surpsed at how accessible and interested you have been.

Natan Slifkin said...

Zezmir - please email me with your quotes and questions. My wife does not like my commenting on blogs!

In future, though, if you are going to publicly criticize me (or anyone else), please be specific. It looks like your initial claim about my being "intellectually dishonest" and "one-sided" is going to transform a lot!

Anonymous said...

Reb Natan,

"Anonymous - it was a mistake, what can I say."

There are "innocent" mistakes and there are "telling" mistakes. I can't say for certain but my sense was that this was a "telling" mistake. Kind of like when my "accidentally" hits his sister. It was a mistake for sure but it still tells me something about him.

"As it happens, I was encouraged to do it."

So what? You make your own decisions I would hope. no? Like I said, the format of the show is no secret at all. You're controversial and you know that everything you do will be scrutinized. You chose to do this. That tells me that you're not as careful as you need to be.

"And many people felt that it was great."

What relevance is that when you yourself agree that it was a fiasco? If anything, that should tell you that "the many people" don't warrant paying much attention to in the future when making difficult decisions.

"By the way, have you actually read my book Challenge Of Creation?"

I read a large part of it as The Science of Torah years ago. I haven't read the revised version.

"Also please give your name."
My name is irrelevant in this discussion. I have many thoughts on the subject but little interest in discussing them in this forum. I happened to have come across this discussion and since I felt so strongly about the Prager interview [BTW - whoever advised you to go on his show did you a great disservice. Dennis is terrible "Machshil Es Harrabim" and while your association with him certainly enhanced your status in the MO world, it was a very questionable move on your part.] I stated my feelings. I'm glad that you recognize that it was a mistake and wish I could shake my feelings about nonetheless.

roy said...

>>Unlike my critics, I give plenty of voice to my opponents. Unlike the books that they promote (e.g. Afikei Mayim), I always acknowledge the existence of other approaches. And yet I get accused of presenting things in a one-sided manner! Why, because I believe my position to be correct?

The writer of the Afikei Mayim (a scholar many times your value) is more entitled to believe his position to be correct than you are in yours. If you don't see why this is, you are being foolish. Your bitterness is palpable. And your words are FIGHTING words, not words in defense. You are too emotional about this if you cannot recognize how your tone is deeply resentful, and full of spite.

mzm said...

Roy
Calm down,please.
I see no spite,or bitterness in Slifkins comments here. I don't know who the author of Afikei Mayim, but what do you mean 'more entitled' to believing he is right?

eli said...

Afikei Mayim:

http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2006/06/afikei-mayim-iv.html

Anonymous said...

He is a genuine talmid chochom. If you cannot see the derision oozing out of Slifkin's posts, you're blind.

Anonymous said...

(or slifkin himself)

Anonymous said...

The posts by Gil Student are three relatively minor and insignifcant little points that he uses to "passively comment" or continue Slifkin's fight against the Gedolei Hador (he is his publisher). Three. Does this mean everything else is completely correct? As far as I can recally, Slifkin made a LOT more mistakes. See FKM's website on this.

Slifkin's hatred toward R' Moshe Shapiro is also palpable. I get it, he has an "excuse," he was "hurt." Too bad. Let him whine to his mother. His only thing over R' Shapiro is that Slifkin is an ideaologue. Rabbi Shapiro is a great talmid chochom.

Ploney said...

If you cannot see the derision oozing out of Slifkin's posts, you're blind.

Funny, I can't see it. I suspect that you wouldn't either, if you upped your lithium dose. You fanatical RMS followers simply can't grasp that people strongly disagree with him... hmmm... who does that remind me of? Even the initials match.

menachem said...

Richard Stallman?

M. said...

The primary goal of Afikei Mayim is to assert that nobody, but nobody, ever said that Chazal erred in science. To achieve this stupendous distortion, the author claims that statements of Avraham ben harambam and Hirsch are forgeries, selectively quotes from R. Yitzchak Lampronti (citing someone that he quotes but not his own view), and pretends that other sources to that effect do not exist. These aren't "small mistakes" - they are a very fundamental distortion. Afikei Mayim pretends that the other viewpoint simply does not exist!

Danny said...

The difference between Rav Shapiro and R. Slifkin is that Rav Shapiro refuses to acknowledge that anyone ever took a different approach from his own. The fact that Rav Shapiro is a big talmid chacham is irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

Danny
The fact that Rav Shapiro is a big talmid chacham is irrelevant.

moron! That stature Talmid Chacham IS everything especially that he excersises phenomonal control in the oilam hamachshava. What are your credentials to blatantly dismiss it as irrelevent.

Ron said...

>>To say that I am "doing the same as my opponents just from the opposite perspective" seems ludicrous. They either don't acknowledge that other opinions exist or claim them to be forgeries! (this is aside from all the other differences e.g. their reluctance to back up their proclamations with any explanations, their refusal to discuss matters in person, etc.)

Oh please. You refused to meet with Gedolim as well. You are not a victim. You are the agressor. Stop whining like a child. The fact is you are very passionate about advocating one position. Quoting other opinions, asking questions on them, and triumphantly concluding that your preferred position is perfect is not much better.

>>The difference between Rav Shapiro and R. Slifkin is that Rav Shapiro refuses to acknowledge that anyone ever took a different approach from his own. The fact that Rav Shapiro is a big talmid chacham is irrelevant.

No it means that he has greater knowledge of the subject. The fact that some kid who likes animals writes a book quite some sources that run counter to the overall substance of what R' Moshe Shapiro writes is irrelevant.

>>Funny, I can't see it. I suspect that you wouldn't either, if you upped your lithium dose. You fanatical RMS followers simply can't grasp that people strongly disagree with him... hmmm... who does that remind me of? Even the initials match.

Slifkin followers, like Slifkin himself, are all about ad hominum attacks, self righteousness, and morally obtuse positions. "People" who strongly disagree with great talmidei chachomim like RMS even they are am hoaratzim just don't matter.

Danny said...

Anonymous - I have no credentials. Can't you judge something based on substance rather than based on who said it (as Rambam recommends)? Fact: R' Slifkin readily admits that there are views that differ from his own. Fact: Rav Shapiro does not. He claims that the letters of Avraham ben HaRambam and Rav Hirsch must be forgeries (!)

M. said...

Slifkin followers, like Slifkin himself, are all about ad hominum attacks, self righteousness, and morally obtuse positions.

That's ironic. Rabbi Reuven Shmeltzer, author of Afikei Mayim, in the comments that he wrote on R' Slifkin's books and sent to the Gedolim, described R' Slifkin as a “thoroughly evil person,” “idiot,” “shaygetz,” “low-life,” “animal,” and “sick man.”

Seems that it's the Rav Moshe Shapiro followers who are into the ad hominems, self righteousness, and morally obtuseness. The above comments by Ron also confirm this.

Anonymous said...

> That stature Talmid Chacham IS
> everything

Totally wrong. The stature is not an excuse to say wrong things at all. THE TRUSTH - is everything. And everything else is already secondary.

Anonymous said...

That's ironic. Rabbi Reuven Shmeltzer, author of Afikei Mayim, in the comments that he wrote on R' Slifkin's books and sent to the Gedolim, described R' Slifkin as a “thoroughly evil person,” “idiot,” “shaygetz,” “low-life,” “animal,” and “sick man.”


Please provide sources. The fact of the matter is that Slifkin and his followers referred or implied the same, if not worse about Gedolei Hador. Frankly, given Slifkin's consistent misrepresentations and excessive self-pity, one cannot help but see that Slifkin is very immature.

Slifkin readily admits views that are different from his own? Maybe. But tangentally. He also pretends some sources mean what he believes (this is discussed at length at FKM) and does not even bother trying to resolve the problems he has on the side that goes against what he is saying. He is just advocating a position in the end. How he does it, and whether his method is better, is irrelevant.

>>Anonymous - I have no credentials. Can't you judge something based on substance rather than based on who said it (as Rambam recommends)?

No kidding. Scholarship IS substance. Please provide source of Rambam (unless you are saying that truth should be found whatever the source is, in which case you lack a sophisticated understanding of the Rambam's view).

yeshivah grad said...

This is what happens with many of these discussions. The Slifkin followers argue from arguments, and the Gedolim followes argue from authority. The two sides are simply talking past each other.

rockofgalilee said...

I don't see any derision oozing out of any of these posts. I also do not see any disrespect for talmidei chachamim oozing out of these posts.

I haven't had an opportunity to read any of his books yet, though recent conversations that I have had with secular Jews at work lead to me to believe that it is very important to examine the issues of Science, practicality and Torah. To completely ignore the issues, as yeshivas typically do, does their talmidim a huge disservice.

Danny said...

Anonymous - Shmeltzer's comments were in the pages that R' Slifkin used to have on his website. Yes, some of the pro-Slifkin bloggers said worse. Are you comparing Rav Shapiro's right-hand man and delegate to the Gedolim to some lowlife bloggers?

R' Slifkin presents the idea that Chazal were infallible as the FIRST position. R' Shapiro/ Schmeltzer doesn't present the R. Avraham ben HaRambam/ Hirschian position AT ALL, denies its existence, and calls it kefirah! Can't you see that there's a world of difference here?

Rambam held that the truth should be accepted WHEREVER it comes from - even from a non-Jew. He accepted much of what Aristotle said. He writes this principle in Hilchos Kiddush HaChodesh. Rav Hirsch reiterates it in accepting that Chazal sometimes made mistakes in science.

Danny said...

No kidding. Scholarship IS substance.

"How to completely distort the message of Rambam's dictum, to its diametric opposite, by Anonymous"! The whole point of "Accept the truth from wherever it comes" is that you IGNORE the credentials and look ONLY at the substance!

chabakuk elisha said...

There is a fundamental problem, which makes these conversations frustrating (and why I avoid them) - This is the conflict of yeridas hadoros vs halacha kibasroi:

The is a progression in Jewish History, and throughout it we have developed ideas differently. In each period there is a "zeitgeist" of sorts, often representing the thinking of the day - therefore, certain figures dominate the discussions of their era, and they represent the common view at the time.

Now, since Judaism is sort of inverted (the older the idea the higher its status) in it's structure, we often lose sight of the fact that there were different time periods with different ways of thinking, and we unconsciously place those older modes of thought ahead of the later.

So, if - let's say - the standard is "Rishonim," well, were going to get a very rationalist slant (which is very congenial to the modern thinker, as our current society and zeitgeist (post-enlightenment) follows this kind of thinking).

But this is terribly flawed, because although we look to Rishonim as higher up the chain of the transmission of Torah, that does not mean that everything they said covers everything that there is to say... If it was, then G-d would not have continued the progression of humanity.

There's too much to say about this, I'll have to leave it for another time.

Origionally posted here: http://asimplejew.blogspot.com/2007/02/fundamental-problem-continuing.html

GoodGuy said...

I guess we can conclude that Natan Slifkin is no different than all others in academia. He forms his opinion based on what he thinks is right, and then builds his case. We can live with that, he just needs to be a bit more forthcoming with us.

Anonymous said...

>>This is what happens with many of these discussions. The Slifkin followers argue from arguments, and the Gedolim followes argue from authority. The two sides are simply talking past each other.

I don't see Slifkin followers giving arguments. They just are arguing AGAINST authority.

Anonymous said...

>>Anonymous - Shmeltzer's comments were in the pages that R' Slifkin used to have on his website. Yes, some of the pro-Slifkin bloggers said worse. Are you comparing Rav Shapiro's right-hand man and delegate to the Gedolim to some lowlife bloggers?

He is NOT Rav Shapiro's rights hand man. Next.

Anonymous said...

>>R' Slifkin presents the idea that Chazal were infallible as the FIRST position. R' Shapiro/ Schmeltzer doesn't present the R. Avraham ben HaRambam/ Hirschian position AT ALL, denies its existence, and calls it kefirah! Can't you see that there's a world of difference here?

He then proceeds to provide scenarios which lead him to conclude in his relatively less educated mind that Hirsch's supposed theory is the only one that works.

Anonymous said...

>>Rambam held that the truth should be accepted WHEREVER it comes from - even from a non-Jew. He accepted much of what Aristotle said. He writes this principle in Hilchos Kiddush HaChodesh. Rav Hirsch reiterates it in accepting that Chazal sometimes made mistakes in science.

The Rambam also writes that one is not allowed to write kefirah. Like I wrote, this is more complicated than some MOs, Slifkins and others who want look first to non-Torah sources as truth present it to be.

Anonymous said...

Slifkin: Quotes all views, discusses their pros and cons, and forms a conclusion.

His opponents: Quote only the views they like and ignore all others or dismiss them as forgeries.

You're right, he is more like an academic than a Chareidi gadol. If only the Gedolim were a bit more forthcoming about why they are ignoring all the sources that disagree with their position.

Anonymous said...

>>The whole point of "Accept the truth from wherever it comes" is that you IGNORE the credentials and look ONLY at the substance!

And you assume that Slifkin speaks the truth. That's the distortion. He also, incidentally, is a child in comparison to those he decuided ti pick a fight with.

Anonymous said...

>>I guess we can conclude that Natan Slifkin is no different than all others in academia. He forms his opinion based on what he thinks is right, and then builds his case. We can live with that, he just needs to be a bit more forthcoming with us.

EXACTLY. Someone got it!!!

Danny said...

Slifkin himself, and his supporters such as Gil Student, consistently give reasoned arguments to support their positions. The Gedolim don't offer any arguments at all, and you just say things like, "But RMS is a gadol! But Shmeltzer is a talmid chacham!"

Anonymous said...

>>Slifkin himself, and his supporters such as Gil Student, consistently give reasoned arguments to support their positions. The Gedolim don't offer any arguments at all, and you just say things like, "But RMS is a gadol! But Shmeltzer is a talmid chacham!"

Completely untrue.

Ron said...

"Completely untrue"

Sounds like another typical Slifkin supporter, lies, lies, lies.

peilisher said...

Gematria Slifkin (340):

* Samech, reish, fey (To burn or consume by fire)

** Nun, eyin, chof, reish (To be troubled or stirred)

*** Eyin, chof, reish, gimmel (Troublesome)

Also:
**** Samech, fey, reish (to write, to shine, scribe)

***** Eiyin, eiyin, reish (to rouse)

Milhouse said...

Peilisher, work on your spelling. There's no such word as סרף, or עכרג, and they certainly don't have those meanings.

Anon #1523.4, the Rambam clearly writes kabel es ho'emes mimi she'amoro. If something is true, i.e. scientifically proven, then it cannot be kefirah. If it contradicts our previously conceived hashkofos, then we must simply rethink those hashkofos, because facts are facts. There is no question that that is the Rambam's derech; he rejected kadmus ho'olom because the "proofs" for it did not convince him, but he clearly wrote that if someone should ever come up with a convincing proof then we would have to accept it, and reinterpret the Torah to fit with it.

peilisher said...

LOL - whoops!
Sorry for the bad job - you can understand what I had in mind.

Danny said...

He then proceeds to provide scenarios which lead him to conclude in his relatively less educated mind that Hirsch's supposed theory is the only one that works

What difference if Slifkin is less educated?! (Again you are talking authority rather than substance!) If he is discussing the case of a mouse that grows from dirt, why shouldn't he quote Hirsch's statement that Chazal relied on the mistaken science of their era?

As great as R. Moshe Shapiro is, he is so firmly entrenched in the Maharal's approach that he apparently can't accept that Hirsch took a different approach, and had to denounce it as a forgery. (Although I heard a rumor that it was finally proven to him that it was authentic, to which he responded that Rav Hirsch "isn't from our Beis HaMidrash.")

Anonymous said...

Gematria 340: http://www.billheidrick.com/works/hgm3/hg0340.htm

Late on the Scene said...

I don't get it. Roy claims that Schmeltzer is more entitled to an opinion than Slifkin, because Schmeltzer is a bigger talmid chochom. First of all, that doesn't mean that Slifkin isn't entitled to an opinion at all! It seems that while Slifkin does not deny Schmeltzer's right to his approach, Schmeltzer denies Slifkin's.

Second, given that Schmeltzer described Slifkin reportedly described R' Slifkin as a “thoroughly evil person,” “idiot,” “shaygetz,” “low-life,” “animal,” and “sick man,” he doesn't seem like a particularly level-headed person. Isn't it a bushah for Rav Moshe Shapiro to have such a person being his shaliach and transcriber of his teachings?

Late on the Scene said...

also, it's not even a matter of it being "Slifkin's approach," it's "R. Avraham ben HaRambam's approach," "Hirsch's approach," etc. So even if Slifkin were to be a five-year-old goy, it doesn't make a difference, he should be allowed to quote these authorities!

Anonymous said...

>>As great as R. Moshe Shapiro is, he is so firmly entrenched in the Maharal's approach that he apparently can't accept that Hirsch took a different approach, and had to denounce it as a forgery. (Although I heard a rumor that it was finally proven to him that it was authentic, to which he responded that Rav Hirsch "isn't from our Beis HaMidrash.")

First, the same can be argued about Slifkin.

Second, some of Rav Hirch's views have not been embraced by the gedolim of the Charedi world close to 100 years ago. See Birkas Shmuel toward the end of Kiddushin for example.

Anonymous said...

>>also, it's not even a matter of it being "Slifkin's approach," it's "R. Avraham ben HaRambam's approach," "Hirsch's approach," etc. So even if Slifkin were to be a five-year-old goy, it doesn't make a difference, he should be allowed to quote these authorities!

Its his application, not the recitation. He applies to heretofore unprecedented levels.

Anonymous said...

>>Second, given that Schmeltzer described Slifkin reportedly described R' Slifkin as a “thoroughly evil person,” “idiot,” “shaygetz,” “low-life,” “animal,” and “sick man,” he doesn't seem like a particularly level-headed person. Isn't it a bushah for Rav Moshe Shapiro to have such a person being his shaliach and transcriber of his teachings?

I would have to see a copy to believe he actually wrote those things. Even if he did, how is he worse than Rabbi Tendler in his condemnation against the writer of RYBS's obituary? If you think something is evil, you call it evil. Or, perhaps, Rabbi Tendler should not be a Ram in YU because he writes far worse than Rav Schmeltzer did--and this was about a talmid chochom, not about a kid with a frighteningly intense fixation on animals.

Danny said...

First, the same can be argued about Slifkin.

Eh? The point is that R' Slifkin should not be personally condemned if he is merely following Rav Hirsch's approach. And that whereas RMS refuses to admit that there are different approaches than his own, R' Slifkin readily admits to it.

Second, some of Rav Hirch's views have not been embraced by the gedolim of the Charedi world close to 100 years ago.

Fine, so the Gedolim should have the courage to publicly condemn Hirsch, don't be a chicken and just attack Slifkin!

Its his application, not the recitation. He applies to heretofore unprecedented levels.

So there is nothing wrong in reciting it? Then why did R Shapiro feel the need to denounce it as a forgery? Why do the Gedolim denounce this view as kefirah?
And where on earth does R' Slifkin apply it to "heretofore unprecedented levels"? He claims on his website that there are only three or four instances where he said that Chazal relied on mistaken science, and each time he was quoting Acharonim. I am beginning to appreciate why he is so frustrated at people throwing out attacks without providing citations.

a kid with a frighteningly intense fixation on animals

LOL. You're really desperate. Endless ad hominems and appeals to authority rather than addressing the issues themselves. Someone should go through the comments and count the number of times where people attacked Slifkin's age or authority or personal interests rather than his or Rav Hirsch's actual words.

hmmm said...

"the gedolim of the Charedi world"

What about by the ketanim of the Charedi world? Or do they not pee, they only crap?

And if you believe this post is childish, I believe it to be the most substantive comment to this post.

Anonymous said...

Danny,

See FKM. It is clear that you have been brought into Slifkin's web of deceit.

Anonymous said...

. . .and i LOVE the way Slifkin says, hey its not me, its everyone else!!! BLAME THEM!!! What a coward.

Roy said...

>>Eh? The point is that R' Slifkin should not be personally condemned if he is merely following Rav Hirsch's approach. And that whereas RMS refuses to admit that there are different approaches than his own, R' Slifkin readily admits to it.

Maybe that's YOUR point. My point was that Slifkin refuses to see another view, his "questions" notwithstanding. The whole premise of the book is to advance only one hashkafa.

>>Fine, so the Gedolim should have the courage to publicly condemn Hirsch, don't be a chicken and just attack Slifkin!

You write with too much chutzpah. Slifkin was discouraged from writing some of the things he has written at least once. He went out with it anyway. He got what he deserved.

>>So there is nothing wrong in reciting it? Then why did R Shapiro feel the need to denounce it as a forgery? Why do the Gedolim denounce this view as kefirah?

What does one have to do with another? You are so bent on in your zeal in saying the gedolim are wrong that you cannot think clearly. Either that, or you have been sucked into Zlifkin's narrow, cunning spin story.

>>He claims on his website that there are only three or four instances where he said that Chazal relied on mistaken science, and each time he was quoting Acharonim.

Lie. See FKM.

>>I am beginning to appreciate why he is so frustrated at people throwing out attacks without providing citations.

Not frustrated, Just childish. He believes in certain problematic things to the exclusivity of all else, fights with and insults gedolim, he should face the consequences like a man or continue to be viewed as a child.

>>Someone should go through the comments and count the number of times where people attacked Slifkin's age or authority or personal interests rather than his or Rav Hirsch's actual words.

Someone should go through all the comments in the web and expose how most Slifkin supporters are in it to insult talmidei chachomim, not because they give a wit about Hirsch's views. As far as Slifkin's cowardly and dishonest assertion, "Blame it one Hirsch," he went out of his way to teach that only way works, was warned, and refused to be chozer. It happens. Stop being a baby about it.

Rafi G said...

A bad interview does not take away his right to come to conclusions that he sees as being correct, and that are supported by opinions of rabbonim of previous generations. It does not take away his right to teach in various venues the Torah as he sees it.

Is he right or wrong in his views - to me it does not matter. The issues and topics he discusses do not disturb me and I do not lay awake at night trying to resolve questions of the Age of the UNiverse, the dinosaurs, the flood, or any other difficult to understand contradiction of Torah and science. The issues I have heard him discuss, and I am sure I have not heard them all, I have heard from rabbonim at different stages in my life.

Do I accept his answers? I do not reject or accept them. I am willing to accept them as being possibly true, just as I am willing to accept other answers as possibly true. The answers just do not interest me. In my eyes, the resolution of torah and science and the various approaches to it remain resolved by saying eilu v'eilu divrei elokim haim and I do not need to come to a clear definitive answer. I have peace of mind knowing I do not understand age of the universe.

Moshe Shmuel said...

Rafi,

That is what sets you apart from Natan.

Welcome to the club.

Danny said...

Roy, you're absurd. You don't have a single citation from Slifkin to support your stance. I doubt that you've actually evaluated anything that FKM writes - it's just a matter of, "The Gedolim are against Slifkin, FKM is against Slifkin, so what he writes must be correct!" I wonder if you've even read Slifkin's books. Can you briefly list all the places where Slifkin says that Chazal erred, to back up your assertion that he is lying when he says that it's only 3 or 4 times?

And whaddya mean, "he refuses to see another view, his "questions" notwithstanding. The whole premise of the book is to advance only one hashkafa." If he has questions on one view, why shouldn't he advance another? The whole premise of Afikei Mayim is to advance only one view AND COMPLETELY DENY THE EXISTENCE of any other view. Slifkin is being infinitely more honest - he cites the other view, discusses it, and explains why he finds it unsatisfactory.

In my above comment you didn't respond to any of my points except to throw out different charges. You have been incoherent about whether Rav Hirsch's view is or is not kefirah. You have been incoherent about why it is wrong to believe that Rav Hirsch's view is actually true. You don't have a single reference to Slifkin's work to back up your assertion that he goes far beyond Hirsch in saying that Chazal erred.

It sounds to me like you are one of those embittered talmidim of Rav Moshe Shapiro, who are so used to adulating him that your worldview is threatened when someone raises the possibility that he is incorrect. Hence all your anger and resentment and ad hominem attacks, in place of an actual discussion of Slifkin's material.

Danny said...

Moshe Shmuel, if you are in favor of accepting various different answers as being possibly true, surely you must be very opposed to the approach of the Gedolim, who firmly reject other answers as even being legitimate to quote as existing.

Anonymous said...

>>It sounds to me like you are one of those embittered talmidim of Rav Moshe Shapiro, who are so used to adulating him that your worldview is threatened when someone raises the possibility that he is incorrect. Hence all your anger and resentment and ad hominem attacks, in place of an actual discussion of Slifkin's material.

It sounds like to me that you are an embittered MO fool, whose poor education and full embrace of all things non-Jewish and its values compel you to think Chazal is wrong (what kind of benefits are there to that? Hm).

I have written that FKM very clearly spells out where Slifkin makes these assertions. The fact that you don't even go there to look at what I refer to is extremely telling of your narrowmindedness and subjectivity (that is, assuming you are not Slifkin himself). Your desparation is palpable. Slifkin has lied on his website and made inappropriate citations, claiming the sources he quotes stands for the propositions he insists is the only view. This is all found on FKM's website. I read through most of Slifkin's books. The seforim on the Torah is nice and cute, but it is very clear why he stays away from more conventional realms of Torah. If he is called out on being wrong, narrow, or not entirely knowing what he talks about, I can just say its not surprising. Not to mention, he is acting inconsistently with some of the hashkafos he propounds in his Focus series, but hey, he is sad and mopey, so he gets to do that.

Your claim that Slifkin is "infinitely more honest" is laughable. His supposes citations are are just brought up as side notes, and are included in an incidental manner, just to highlight the narrow points he insists on being true. You obviously did not read Mysterious Creatures.

I never was asked if Hirsch is kefirah. I don't have to answer that question either. The point is that Slifkin extends his propositions, defied the Gedolim, and now continues to mock and fight with them--a point that is consistent with the spirit of his books, the mockery of our Chachomim and Torah.

Anonymous said...

It also sets me apart from Natan, how insists that there is only one way. Which was my point.

At least the Gedolim know what they are talking about.

Just because you hate the Torah and Hashem does not justify your need to take a cause and pretned that its important to you just to make a point. Go back to your hole, and believe in the empty, inarticulate words of a kid. When you are ready to learn, you can come back.

Anonymous said...

>>If he has questions on one view, why shouldn't he advance another?

That's not why he does it, "Danny"/Natan. He asks questions to highlight why his "view" is so much superior to the gedolei Acharonim (Avnei Nezer) and others who were so stupid and inferior to him that they don't know what they are talking about. Natan's disingenuous questions are absurd and insulting. Plenty of others on this blog have noted this problem too. And they are not using other names, like you, Natan, to try to justify their mistakes.

Hirshel Tzig said...

Would one of you anonymouses be so kind as to link us here to FKM. It took me quite a while to even get the acronym right, let alone the exact place to find where he makes his arguments.

Anonymous said...

Sure. This website is written by an avreich, one who Slifkin has attempted to snob out (obviously, this is justified because he is hurt. The man never did anything wrong. Even if he did, it is ok because he hurt). He does this because FKM rips most of the hype and lies to shreds. He does it with a superior understanding in hashkafa that is respectful to the mesorah--not one which is unaware of the mesorah or chooses to change it because of his pseudo scientific predilictions. Here it is:

http://fkmaniac.blogspot.com/

Danny said...

It sounds like to me that you are an embittered MO fool, whose poor education and full embrace of all things non-Jewish and its values compel you to think Chazal is wrong (what kind of benefits are there to that? Hm).

No, I just don't think that mice grow from dirt. Nor did Rav Hirsch. I wonder if he was compelled to say that because of his embrace of all things non-Jewish and their values, or because of his hatred of Hashem and his Torah?

Your venom is astonishing.

Anonymous said...

>>Your venom is astonishing.

I guess you did not read your own statements.

>>No, I just don't think that mice grow from dirt

That's the point. No one cares what YOU think. This is a question of Chazal. You show that this is all about your lack of reverence for Chazal--one which you exude to all Chachomim, save Rav Hirsch, whose works you probably never read.

Slifkin, your attempts as Danny are pathetic.

Hirshel Tzig said...

here's the "problem" with quoting RSRH 100+ after his passing:

He's seen as the savior of German Jewry, which he was. Most people, including Gedolim never read a single line of his works, all they know is that he reform in Germany and won. So he's OK. Not only that, but they "Charedize" him, and say that his Shittah was only a Horo'as Sho'oh and had he lived now he'd have dropped his idea of TIDE.

Now this young man comes along and claims to base his opinions on RSRH, what should they do, turn back the clock 125 years and declare RSRH a heretic? noooo. So they say that he doesn't understand Hirsh, or he's got other intentions. Are they wrong? G-d knows.

Hirshel Tzig said...

he reform = he fought Reform.

Hirshel Tzig said...

Slifkin posted here as himself, I see no need to accuse him of suddenly going as "Danny." Please stop.

Anonymous said...

http://darklordsblog.blogspot.com/2006/04/sources-indicating-that-chazal-did-not.html

happywithhislot said...

boy,
i see fkm has been busy commenting here as multiple anonymouses.

he is a hateful little man.

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

happy, I am really suprised at you.
You used to be good-natured and much more open to debating with me. What turned you into such a sour-puss? Have you really become a full-blown bitter skeptic-blogger over the months?

Anonymous said...

Happy,

Your comments is wrong on several levels. Manifestly, the most obvious one that ought to concern you is the fact you are wrong, and that you insulted a talmid chochom b'rabim.

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

Anonymous:
Please knock it off. You are tempting pro-slifkin people to think I'm really commenting here as multiple anonymouses!

I sincerely want to hear what Happy has to say about his transformation from happy to grumpy.

Anonymous said...

So I am supposed to stop commenting because pro-Slifkin guys are krum?

Hirshel Tzig said...

Someone here linked to this website where he brings a whole host of sources in Rishonim and Achronim that say that Chazal didn't necessarily posess the knowledge in Science, Medicine etc. that we do today. It looks quite convincing, especially if you're pre-disposed to that opinion. What do the Slifkin detractors say to that?

Anonymous said...

They would say look at FKM's website. Again, Slifkin detractor's is an inappropriate term. Its those who go along with the way Jews looked at things for millenia versus Slifkin.

Yidel said...

HT

I read some of the quotes the guy brings. Here's one: He quotes Rabbi Dessler who says that Chazal maybe didn't know what we know today, and they may have been privvy to incorrect science, but that does not change what we're supposeds to believe!

In other words we can't decide now to believe in evolution if if we can believe that Chazal we're mistaken. I guess his quote hurt his cause more than it helped it.

roy said...

That is not the only statement taken out of context to prove his point.

Anonymous said...

What about the fact that by believing in Creation only, sans evolution, you are making your whole religion to be totally unrealistic and seemingly living in the Dark Ages?

Does that not affect Kiruv, needing to go back to an ancient belief that's been totally disproven by science?

It'll affect it when dealing with intellectuals and students.

Anonymous said...

meaningless strawman argument. you have been drinkin too much mo kool aid

Anonymous said...

You obviously have never dealt with non-frum people, I have. To them not believing in evolution (you can believe in creation too, but you must believe in evolution) Is like telling them that there was a never a holocaust. It's that simple.You can scream "Kool-Aid" all you like, but these are the facts.

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

To anonymous:
I would distinguish between the different levels of evidence for evolution and how far those levels allow the conclusion for common ancestry.

For example, If I would openly admit that micro-evoution is a biological fact proven in the labratory, then I have one foot in the door. Most students and intellectuals think that this is enough to help prove common ancestry. With a little thought, it is easy to understand why it cannot.

I would openly admit that for a scientist whose Professional JOB is to find a naturalistic explanation for everything that exists in the physical universe, evolution may be the best naturalistic theory for the origins of life. It may even be better scientifically than I.D.
But who says all of physical reality has to be boxed into a scientific explanation?

People who aren't mentally capable of making limits on the ability of science to know or not know certain things will never have true emunah. Kiruv on them is basicly cosmetic in nature to get them to outwardly join a religious society.

Glunker said...

SLIFKIN's BOOK
I listened to the interview, it didn't sound so bad. Anyways, I think the best way to discuss these issues is by reading The Challenge of Creation and discussing it.

the blogs need to discuss Slifkin's books more critically, not just defending it against haredi bans.
Important issues that have to be discussed:
What exactly is wrong with ID?
Could all living things have arisen randomly even with perfect laws of nature?
What are miracles?
etc.
I am trying to discuss some of these issues on my blog. (see ID, Evolution & Slifkhoffer and more posts on the side!)