Avodah Mailing List

Volume 16 : Number 053

Saturday, December 10 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Fri, 09 Dec 2005 02:10:48 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: Just curious...

S & R Coffer wrote:
>>Baruch haShem we agree that Rav Tzadok asserts that kabbala rejects the
>>concept of Yichud HaShem of the Rishonim and that one who now asserts
>>the view of the rishonim on this matter he is asserting kefirah.
>>he is also asserting that HP is a consequence of the reality of Yichud
>>HaShem. Once you understand that HP is not the result of a king ruling at
>>a distance but that G-d is everywhere - it is inherent that HP can not be
>>limited to Man as the rishonim asserted but it must apply to everything. I
>>simply don't understand how you can detach his beginning critique of
>>the rishonim - and all their philosophically derived hashkofa - with
>>his conclusion that now we must accept the kabbalistic viewpoint. 

>Because when he discusses HP, he also is critical but IIRC, not as
>critical as the Yichud Hashem part. Normally I research all my sources
>before speaking but in this case I am too tired to start picking apart
>a R' Tzadok so I'm going from memory here.

I am arguing from the text and you are arguing from what you remember of
the text. Having never claimed infallibility - if you can show me why
you think that he only calls the view of the rishonim regarding yichud
HaShem as kefira and not HP which is inherently part of yichud HaShem -
I would greatly appreciate it. He clearly states, "The essence of Kabbalah
is to show this true yichud. That the entire creation which appears to be
distinct from the Creator is in truth not separated at all. This is in
fact the purpose of creation that everything created should all come to
recognize that they are not separate from G-d." In contrast he states,
"These philosophically oriented rishonim thought by their analysis to
come to understand the true yichud. In fact they distanced themselves
from it. That is because it is the opposite of yichud to think that
creation is separate from the creator and functions independent of
His control. Therefore even though they acknowledge that G-d created
everything and that He runs the universe in a general sense - nevertheless
this is not the proper understanding of yichud. It is wrong to say that
there should be something after creation that interposes in this true
yichud. The essence of yichud is to know that G-d's glory fills the
entire universe. The word kol means that it includes everything without
exception - not even the lowliness creation. Everything is filled
with His glory. Everything is directed and supervised by Him..." He
also states, "It is not necessary to go into great detail for the good
Jews now that the Kabbalah has been revealed and it is accepted by all
the true Jewish scholars. Whoever denies Kabbalah is an apikorus as
has been explained concerning the commandment of lo sasur. And as has
been explained by the Bach (#5). He states that "Who ever ridicules the
words of our Sages and speaks against the wisdom of Kabbalah which is
the source of Torah and its essence and it is entirely yiras shamayim
- it is obvious that there is no greater ridicule of the words of our
Sages than this - he is chayiv nidoi."

Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Fri, 09 Dec 2005 02:16:08 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: Being exposed to minus

Yzkd@aol.com wrote:
>On December 4, 2005 Daniel Eidensohn wrote:
>>We find the term Yeshu mentioned in the rishonim. The Gra poskens that a
>>person who became an AZ and died - it is permissible to mention his name.

>1) Not only in Rishonim but Shaas, see the GR"A  (Y"D 147 [3]).
>2) where is the GR"A about dying?

I did not see it myself but was told this by a talmid chachom. It seems
clear from the Gra you cited that it shouldn't matter whether whether
he is alive or dead - as long as the name was not given for the purpose
of viewing him as a god. I'll ask him for the exact source.

Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Thu, 8 Dec 2005 23:46:46 -0500
From: "Jonathan Ostroff" <jonathan@yorku.ca>
RE: Age of the Universe (R. Slifkin and the starlight problem)

> But if R' Miller really said "regardless of perspective", he 
> doesn't know the relevent science or rejects its truth. (In 
> which case, how does it account for the needed GPS software?)

He knows about it but chukei hateva were not fixed until the end of the
6th day.

When I showed Rabbi Miller the Pioneer 11 and 12 anomalies where
scientists have expressed the serious concern that general relativity is
not working as predicted by Einstein at the outer reaches of the solar
system (other anomalies in GR have also surfaced), he expressed the
opinion (I would say pious hope :-) that the anomalies would be solved
and GR would probably be upheld. But this has nothing to do with the
early-universe-in-formation during the creation period. In an earlier
post I referred to:

1] Barrow, J.D. Cosmologies with varying light speed. Physical Review
D, 59(4): 1999.

[2] Barrow, J.D. Is nothing sacred? (challenging the rule that speed
of light is invariable). New Scientist, 163(2): 28, 1999.

[3] Magueijo, A.A.a.J. A Time Varying Speed of Light as a Solution
to Cosmological Puzzles. Physical Review D, 59(4): 043516-1 to 13, 1999.

[4] Reich, E.S. If the speed of light can change. New Scientist,
183(2454): p6(2), 2004.

[5] Magueijo, J. Plan B for the cosmos. Scientific American, 248
(58-59), 2001.

For example, in [3], Magueijo calculates that the speed of light may have
been 60 orders of magnitude faster than the current value in the early
history of the universe needed to save the big bang theory from various
"pirchas" and as an alternative to the inflation hypothesis. Note that
Magueijo is working within the normal uniformatarian assumptions of
methodological naturalism that natural law always prevailed and that
what we observe now gives us sound and reliable evidence for what
was. Nevertheless, it is instructive that yesterday's "heresy" (this
is how some scientists looked at this proposal originally) is today's
Physical Review D. As Magueijo and Barrow point out, this challenges
Einstein's proposal for the constancy of the speed of light.

R. Slifkin wrote that the evidence for an old universe is vast and
ovewhelming (p90 in Science of of Torah). He says that he will present
evidence that is clear and easily graspable. His first piece of evidence
is what is commonly called the starlight problem (no time for light to
reach us from the distant stars; page 91). R. Slifkin states that the
constancy of the velocity of light is a basic axiom of Einstein's theories
of relativity which have passed every test that physicists have devised
(p91). Unfortunately for R. Slifkin's approach, big bang cosmology has
its own version of the starlight problem called the Horizon Problem. Both
inflation (Plan A) and a speed-up of light by sixty orders of magnitude
(Plan B) are attempts to solve Big bang's own version of this problem. You
cannot very well quote the starlight problem against the Torah when big
bang cosmology has its own problems in this regard, leading Magueijo
and Barrow to challenge Einstein on the constancy of the speed of light.


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Date: Thu, 8 Dec 2005 23:55:39 -0500
From: Ezra Wax <ezrawax@gmail.com>
Re: Age of the Universe (and Rabbi Miller Shlit"a re Bell's theorem and EPR)

On 12/8/05, Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> wrote:
> Relativity was not only experimentally proven, but it stymied early
> efforts at GPS.

Proving one aspect of relativity does not prove the fundamental theory
true. Just as Newton was proven true countless numbers of time and was
superseded by relativity, so too Einstein will be superseded by a more
fundamentally true theory that will be compatible with sheishes yemei
bereishis. I don't know what the theory is, but just like I believe that
mashiach will come, I believe that a true theory will come.

> RNS's discussing Mike the Headless Chicken was a factor in getting more
> rabanim to ban his work.

If there was no problem with what Nosson Slifkin said about the chicken,
then why did Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky have a problem with it? Do you think
that he misunderstood what was said? Then tell him.

Kol Tuv,

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Date: Fri, 09 Dec 2005 12:36:29 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: Rabbinical comments on R. Slifkin's Science of Torah

Samuel Svarc wrote:
>>From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
>>Rav Moshe Feinstein writes in his introduction to the Igros Moshe that
>>the ikkar of psak is sevora. He also said that there is no such thing as

>>a godol today - who can't be questioned on the basis of sevora.

>All this in the introduction?

No - the second comment is found in OH I #109 page 173. See also his
response to R' Binyamin Silber who didn't want to live in Bnei Berak
since he disagreed with the Chazon Ish on some matters YD III #88 page
329. Additional sources are in Yad Moshe page 276-277

>>This idea
>>of respectfully questioning is clearly explained by Rav Chaim Voloshner
>>in his commentary to Pirkei Avos.

>On which Perek and Mishna?

*Taken from Daas Torah page 193

*Rav Chaim Voloshner****(Ruach Chaim 1:4): I*t is prohibited to passively
accept the words of ones teachers if one has questions. Furthermore
sometimes the Truth is with the student and not the teacher." Mishna (Avos
1:4): O/ne should sit in the dust at the feet of ones teachers and drink
with unquenchable thirst what they say/. The word for sitting /avek/ can
also mean struggle or warfare. Therefore, we have the right to question
what they say and not to blindly accept their wordsג€"but one must love
the Truth. Since ascertaining the Truth is the prime concernג€"we must
be very careful not to be conceited and egotistical in the discussions
and to imagine that we are as great as the teacher or author with whom
we are disagreeing. We should be aware in our hearts that we might
simply be misunderstanding their wordsג€"therefore we must always be
very humble. We must have the attitudeג€"ג€˜I am not worthy to argue
but this is Torah and I must know the correct answer'. Furthermore the
Mishna states that the struggle must be ג€˜ /in the dust at their feet/
' which means we must be humble while we argue."

*Seridei Aish****(1:113): *I frequently explain the apparent contradiction
found in Avos (6:5) concerning those factors involved in acquiring
Torah i.e. analysis of the students and faith in our Sages. Furthermore,
what does faith in our Sages have to do with acquiring Torah? However,
the explanation is that if one doesnג€™t have certainty in the truth
of the words of the sages then one readily dismisses them for the
slightest reason. With an attitude of condescension, one proclaims
that they didnג€™t know what they were talking about. Consequently,
one makes no effort to investigate and try to validate what they
said. However, in the end we find that in fact we are the ones who have
erred. Therefore it is characteristic of the truly wise to presume that
the sages have not erred, Gג€‘d forbid! However, weג€”with our limited
perspective and limited understandingג€”have. On the other hand to
blindly believe and not struggle to comprehend with our intellect the
apparent difficultiesג€”saying simply that they knew and we need merely
to mindlessly rely on themג€”that is also not correct. We need to wrestle
mightily with the apparent contradictions and doubts as if they are people
like us. With this approach, we will come to a much profounder and sharper
comprehension. Thus, we see that both factorsג€”emunas chachomim and
pilpulג€”working together to the end bring about the acquisition of Torah.

>This struck me as very strange. You quote R' Sternbuch above to the
>effect that "[t]here is a minimum requirement that a person be allowed
>to defend himself before being publicly condemned." Now you say he tried
>to disseminate as widely as possible that N Slifkin's views are kefira.
>Something does not compute. Are these two different R' Sternbuch's? Did
>R' Sternbuch meet with NS? Is there some fine distinction between
>publicly condemning someone and just calling their views kefira that I'm
>missing? Kindly explain.

Perceptive observation. What follows is my own understanding of events.
Others- including Rav Sternbuch - might legitimately disagree

 Rav Sternbuch had a dual agenda. 1) He was concerned with establishing
that contrary to reports circulating on the internet (which I showed him)
- asserting that the universe is more than 6000 years old is heresy [page
1]. He wanted to establish that Science can not refute Chazal. He also
wanted to establish that one must follow the consensus of gedolim today -
even though there are views in Chazal and the Rishonim & Achronim which
disagree with that consensus. [page 5] Thus independent of the Slifkin
affair he felt it important to publicize his views on the matter. This
idea that views of the mesora can become posul is a major chiddush and
is critical to understanding what is going on. This is in fact is an
extension of the Daas Torah hashgofa.

2) He felt that R' Slikfin was wrong in accepting Science against the
views of contemporary gedolim - and that therefore his writings were
prohibited. However he holds like the Ravad that R' Slifkin is not a
heretic. He was in fact willing to meet with R' Slifkin concerning these
matters. This never came about - due to the fact that poskim involved
felt that it was simply too late and that Rav Sternbuch's involvement
would not undo the damage had been done by the initial campaign.. (Rav
Sternbuch had not been involved in the initial ban). Furthermore at the
stage when Rav Sternbuch offered to meet with R' Slifkin, there were
gadolim who disagreed with R' Sternbuch's position and they asserted
that R' Slifkin's views were not only not heresy - but were legitimate
views. It was a straightforward case of eilu v'eilu. Thus R' Slifkin
accepted the views of his rabbinic authorities that meeting with Rav
Sternbuch would not help resolve the crisis. However, regarding the
latest round of condemnations, he would have been willing to meet with
his former supporter Rav Kaminetsky - prior to his reversal - but he
was not offered the chance. Similarly he was quite willing to meet with
those who issued the original ban - even afterwards - but they refused
to meet with him. Thus Rav Sternbuch's involvement was too late and he
was not in a position to alter the dynamics of the process.

Consequently to answer your question - there is only one Rav Sternbuch -
not two. If the matter had started out with him - history might have been
different.Unfortunately he got involved at a later stage. I am not sure
the damage can be undone. Ultimately we are dealing with the metarules
of hashkofa and it is possible that these are not amenable to reasoned
discourse. Nevertheless It would have been helpful to all concerned
if the whole chain of events had been more governed by halacha and a
greater concern for menshlikeit and truth.

Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Fri, 9 Dec 2005 01:07:57 -0500
From: "Samuel Svarc" <ssvarc@yeshivanet.com>
Re: Rabbinical comments on R. Slifkin's Science of Torah

From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
>S & R Coffer wrote:
>>1) RDE claims that the bans compromised halachic guidelines yet neglects
>>to illustrate his point.
>>2) If one Rav or Rosh Yeshiva signed the ban, I might be comfortable
>>with the above statement. But since a large number of Gedolim signed
>>the ban, the allegation of halachic impropriety seems audacious.

>Again - I am not relying on my own judgment but those of poskim that
>I talked to. Thus your comfort level is not relevant. Why not ask your
>local posek what the halacha requires.

I would imagine, and I'm basing this on times that I've asked poskim
similar questions, that it would break down by what camp the Posek is
in. A posek who understands that R' Elyashiv is the Posek HaDor will
tell you that he imagines that this is what the Halacha requires, but
since the gedolim disagree it appears he is wrong. And they mean it.

>Rav Moshe Feinstein writes in his introduction to the Igros Moshe that
>the ikkar of psak is sevora. He also said that there is no such thing as
>a godol today - who can't be questioned on the basis of sevora.

All this in the introduction?

>This idea
>of respectfully questioning is clearly explained by Rav Chaim Voloshner
>in his commentary to Pirkei Avos.

On which Perek and Mishna?

>This need for rabbonim to explain themselves is why I complied with
>Rav Sternbuch's request to translate and disseminate on the Internet -
>his explanation why he felt R' Slifkin's views are kefira. I did not and
>do not agree with him - but I greatly appreciate the fact that he took
>the time and effort to make sure his views were fully understood. Rav
>Feldman also felt a need for explain his views.

This struck me as very strange. You quote R' Sternbuch above to the
effect that "[t]here is a minimum requirement that a person be allowed
to defend himself before being publicly condemned." Now you say he tried
to disseminate as widely as possible that N Slifkin's views are kefira.
Something does not compute. Are these two different R' Sternbuch's? Did
R' Sternbuch meet with NS? Is there some fine distinction between
publicly condemning someone and just calling their views kefira that
I'm missing? Kindly explain.


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Date: Fri, 09 Dec 2005 02:09:11 -0500
From: "M. Press" <mpress8@optonline.net>
Re: Avodah V16 #49

R' Coffer comments
>On December 5, 2005, M. Press wrote:
>>1. One recent poster has raised the issue of "Lo sosur" with regard
>>to the opinion of the banners. As has been said before, essentially
>>all the rishonim say that "Lo sosur" applies only to Sanhedrin...

>Possibly. But there is the letter of the law and the spirit of the
>law. (see first Ramban in parshas kedoshim). Adopting the opinions of
>gedoley Torah, although not necessarily enjoined by the former, would
>surely be enjoined by the latter.

Nothing is "surely enjoined" except in R' Coffer's eyes. In this
discussion we have seen repeated citations about the dubious relevance
of authority in these issues. I would certainly agree that one would be
wise to consider the opinions of knowledgable authorities very seriously,
but I've already pointed out that the Halakha is quite clear about the
right to disagree even in matters where the right to pasken is much
more explicit.

>>2. Statements by Talmidei Chachomim not on Sanhedrin are not sacramentally
>>binding (that is a Roman Catholic belief) but binding based on their
>>rationality. Anyone capable of understanding has a right to expect a
>>Rov to explain the bases of his psak and to debate those bases if he is
>>so capable... 

>None of this has anything to do with what we are talking about. The ban is
>a united opinion by many gedoley Torah concerning our collective messora
>regarding certain fundamental issues which pertain to Jewish outlook. For
>messora, we go to gedoley Torah. If there is a dispute precisely what the
>mesora is, then one follows his own Rebbi. In this case, a very large
>number of gedoley Torah were disturbed by RNS's opinions and thus, one
>would be foolish to simply disregard there admonition in lieu of ones
>own grasp of the "psak". I personally own all of RNS's books (I bought
>them before the ban) but due to this ban, I would be very careful who
>I lend them to.

A mesora is something which is handed down. Not only is there no mesora
cited in the banners' statements, but as I previously noted their position
is explicitly against the mesora. Chazal were quite clear in stating
that Maaseh Breishis is a sod. Anyone who claims to know that it means
merely a simple literal translation of the first perek of Breishis is
"machchish magideha," with all the implications of that statement.

>>3. We should stop using the term Godol as a blanket authorization to have
>>an opinion in all areas of Torah. Many of those signed on recent issurim
>>are people to whom one would never ask a shaila about a chicken, never
>>show a mar'eh, never expect to be mesader a get, never ask a question in
>>dikduk, etc. Great knowledge of limited areas remains great knowledge
>>of limited areas.

>Not necessarily true. Even some of the Rishonim didn't put their kochos
>into studying kodshim and taharos but you wouldn't say that they weren't
>gedoley Toarh to whom it would be advisable to listen to. Daas Torah,
>although a somewhat elusive doctrine, definitely possesses distinct
>parameters (i.e. it is a real phenomenon) and does not require its
>possessor to know every halacha in shulachan aruch (although obviously,
>the more you know, the greater is your daas Torah).

It would be absurd to listen to a Rishon who never learned kodshim if he
said strange things about kodshim. I don't disagree with the notion of
Daas Torah, though I understand it very differently than does R' Coffer.
Daas Torah has nothing to do with people making pronuncements in areas
beyond their expertise. Only an idiot would be mechallel Shabbos based on
the psak of a brilliant rosh yeshiva whoi had never learned the halacha
le'maaseh of Shabbos.

>>4. Not every error is kefirah. One can be wrong and not be an apikorus.
>>And one can be very learned and be a kofer.

>I've made the following point several times by now. No one is calling
>RNS a kofer. The gedoley Torah are merely protesting his shittos some
>of which, in their opinion, are kefiradic in nature. RNS is not a
>kofer! He can't be; there are too many people, some of them learned,
>that still follow his erroneous shittos. If their will ever come a time
>in our history when there will be an almost universal acceptance of the
>opinions of the banners, we can talk about him being a kofer at that
>time. Hopefully mashiach will come first.

More of R' Coffer's failure to attend to unpleasant realities. Anyone
who has read carefully what has been said about R' Slifkin would find
this last paragraph completely out of touch with reality.

>>5. Those who demand respect for the current rabbonim should think twice
>>before speaking contemptuously of geonim and rishonim. To say that
>>the words of Rav Sherira are apikorsus if uttered today surely requires
>>strong evidence.

>The last person who said that Rav Sherira gaon was dismissing Chazal
>was also banned. (see Maharal's definition for RSG's term umdina in
>Beer haGola).

I won't pursue this, since R' Coffer is clearly unaware of what Rav
Sherira and Rav Hai said on these issues. He is simply wrong about the
clear position of these geonim on the issues under discussion, as will
be evident to anyone who takes the trouble to look.

Melech Press
M. Press, Ph.D., Chair, Psychology Dept., Touro College
melechp@touro.edu or mpress8@optonline.net 

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Date: Fri, 9 Dec 2005 15:53:17 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: Rabbinical comments on R. Slifkin's Science of Torah

On December 8, 2005, Saul Newman wrote:
> you write you own then books , but in light of the ban, you would lend
> them carefully. please explain why you dont burn them b'tzibbur. what
> is your daas tora that allows you to own them?

I don't recall seeing the requirement of book burning included anywhere
in the verbiage of the ban. As far as owning heretical works, I own many
of them. I have dozens of books written by leading palaeontologists and
paleobotanists etc. I also own several copies of the new testament. I
have a heter for reading these things and do it only to be able to fulfil
the dictum in Chazal of "da ma shetashiv l'apikores". It's a dirty job
but someone's gotta do it.

[Email #2. -mi]

On December 6, 2005, Harry Maryles wrote:
>> IMO, it is definitely assur,
>> if not bordering on the profession of kefira, to teach a baal tshuva, or
>> any Jew for that matter, that the physical depiction of MB as described
>> in the Torah never happened as RNS teaches in his book.

> Does he say never happened? That would be incorrect. I would not teach it
> that way.

I'm glad we finally agree. I'm also glad that you seem to finally realize
that there is a problem here. RNS *does* say that MB never happened
(physically) and the whole story in the Torah is just metaphoric, that is,
referring to spiritual infrastructure. In other words, he relies 100%
on his understanding of science as understood by evolutionists (which
he quotes frequently in his book) and therefore reinterprets the Torah
accordingly. BTY, Aryeh Kaplan does precisely the same thing.

 But if he meant that it didn't happen in six 24 hour days but
> instead over a period of millions of years... that used to be considered
> just fine and no one considered it K'fira. There were disagreements. There
> were those who said everything was created to look old. But no one said
> that it was K'fira, until now.

We live in different times now. Even most goyim are by now aware of the
terrible spiritual pitfalls associated with conceding to the evolutionary
chronology of time. Saying that it was guided by Hashem is very weak and
can easily lead to kefira in MB. After all, if all physical signs point
to random forces acting naturalistically without design, can you really
fault someone for believing that the world was not created? Our mesorah
is full of depictions of awe and conviction in the reality of a boreh
by dint of observation of the "natural" world. But if all we observe
is chance, are we now to discard Tehilim, for instance, a sefer full of
depictions of design in MB, because of the avodah zara of evolution? I
don't necessarily think that theistic evolution is kefira but why kow-tow
to academic dogma and teach false doctrines? Why reinterpret the Torah
just to accommodate the shkarim of atheists? The Christians are putting
up a valiant battle to defend the Genesis depiction of MB and all we
Jews can do is cave in to the pressure of eisav. Well, not this Jew.

[Email #3 -mi]

On December 6, 2005, Daniel Eidensohn wrote:
> S & R Coffer wrote:
>>1) RDE claims that the bans compromised halachic guidelines yet neglects
>>to illustrate his point.

> This point has been rehashed many times. There is a minimum requirement
> that a person be allowed to defend himself before being publicly
> condemned. 

Why? RNS didn't ask reshus from Gedolim before publicizing his
questionable views. Why do gedoley Torah, who know what he writes in
his books and how he defends his conclusions, have to "ask his reshus"
before condemning his views? All he will do is repeat what he's written
in his book, nothing more. RNS knew that there was an impending ban and,
despite this, further entrenched himself in his shittos and continues to
do so. He may believe that he is correct but many gedoley Toarh do not
and thus they are obligated to publicize their views. You think that the
Rabbis in Italy provided R' Azaryahu de Rossi a forum for his grievances
before banning his book? Besides, the ban is a public condemnation of
RNS's views, not him. Even if they had granted him an audience, they
would still need to publicize their views to undo the harm caused by
his publicized shittos. Kol zeh nachon upashut.

>>2) If one Rav or Rosh Yeshiva signed the ban, I might be comfortable
>>with the above statement. But since a large number of Gedolim signed
>>the ban, the allegation of halachic impropriety seems audacious.

> Again - I am not relying on my own judgment but those of poskim that
> I talked to. Thus your comfort level is not relevant. Why not ask your
> local posek what the halacha requires.

I only ask poskim regarding sfeikos I have. Besides, my local posek
recently signed on the ban and didn't give RNS a forum for defence. So I
guess he holds you are wrong. But in any case, you haven't answered the
question. Kindly provide me with a source in Halacha (not a conversation
with a current posek who may very well just be making a political
statement regarding his opinion on the ban - unless the posek actually
illustrates his view in a halachic way) for your allegation. Otherwise,
WADR, I have issues with you publicly accusing dozens of gedoley Torah
with halachic impropriety.

>>3) There is an implication that contemporary yiddishkeit should not be
>>defined by gedolim. I find this idea problematic.

> An interesting deduction but in fact the opposite of what I wrote.

> "The attacks are being done by the godolim who define contemporary
> yiddishkeit."

> I did not say nor did I mean to say that gedolim should not define
> contemporary yiddishkeit. If my wording was not clear than I apologize
> for creating a false impression.

And I apologize for taking your words out of context. I am happy to
hear that you are aligned with the idea that gedoley Torah are the
arbiters of contemporary Yiddishkeit. Unfortunately, many Jews do not
share this sentiment. There are gigabytes of blog space alone dedicated
to maligning gedoley Torah by shottim and am aratzim who no doubt have
forfeited their chelek lolam habba Hashem yeshmerenu.

>>4) There is an implication that the only time a ban may be issued is
>>if the entire frum world understands the motivating factors of the ban,
>>an obvious impossibility. There will always be dissenters.

> I discussed this matter in detail with several of Rav Moshe Shapiro's
> when he first issued his ban... 

> Thus while there will always be dissenters - a reasonable effort needs to
> be made to explain what is going on. The efforts so far have been largely
> embarrasing in their contradictions and lack of cogency. Obviously these
> brilliant talmidei chachomim have justification for their views - but
> that doesn't exempt them from teaching us what they are.

The above is a very eloquent argument posed by an obviously sincere
individual but despite that I don't see the issue. The ban is very
clear. The signatories are unhappy with his shittos on MB and they are
unhappy with him undermining the authority of Chazal and taking their
words lightly. You know this. I know this. Everyone knows this. What's
all the confusion about? Examples need not be cited and in fact would
probably have undermined the impact of the ban. No matter what example the
signatories would have cited to support their ban, somebody will find some
issue with it. Rav Sternbach and Rav Feldman who did have the courage to
do so, no sooner had their letters publicly posted when cyberspace was
full of counter ra'ayos to their presentations and denigration to their
personages. We live in a multi-media driven age. The less said publicly,
the less opportunity for leitzanim to ply their trade.

>>5) There is an implication that because rabbinic authority is being
>>denigrated, the Rabbis should not have issued the ban. I find this
>>viewpoint problematic. "ki yisharim darchei Hashem, v'tzadidkim yeilchu

> It has always been recognized that one must persuade in situations where
> people have freedom to listen or dissent. Over the last few years we have
> experienced a number of shocks resulting from bans on books, sheitel,
> zebu etc etc - which have not had a favorable impact on kavod haTorah
> and rabbinic authority. It is additionally troubling because there are
> legitimate issues here that need to be clarified. There are alternative
> ways that these matters could have been handled which would have not
> generated the skepticism and cynicism that now exists.The latest round
> of letters is a further example of a process generating gratuitous
> disorientation. If there was in fact unanimity amongst the gedolim
> then perhaps you are right. However we have witnessed Rav Shapiro
> and Rav Sternbuch declaring R' Slifkin's views as kefira while R'
> Shmuel Kaminetsky has said they are not kefira. We have witnessed R'
> Aaron Feldman switch from defending R' Slifkin to attacking him for
> kefira in a manner that even his talmidim at Ner Yisroel have found to
> be totally disorienting. As I pointed out it is very puzzling why R'
> Shmuel Kaminetsky defended R' Slifkin for so long and now has apparently
> reversed himself - without explaining what new events had caused him to
> see harm in R' Slifkin's works which he had not seen before.

Why don't you call him and ask him? RYGB has noted that the straw that
broke the camel's back was Mike the Headless Chicken. Apparently RSK
finally decided that it seemed RNS was bent on showing the fallibility
of Chazal and that it was time to protest. As far as Rav Feldman, people
change their minds, even gedolim. The reason it may seem disorienting
is because even specific roshey yeshivos who are normally viewed as
being aligned with and sympathetic to mada type approaches categorically
rejected RNS. This may have caused '"disorientation" amongst mada type
people, not Chareidi type people who simply felt further fortified in
their views. Besides, things evolve (so to speak :-) as do bans. Some
people joined on later. Big deal.

As far as the rest of your comments viv-a-vis "shocks resulting from bans
on books, sheitel, zebu etc", you may be right. I don't know enough about
the issue to comment. But I don't think the ban on RNS's book goes into
your geder above. I think the brouhaha here is a direct manifestation of
a distinct polarization in Jewish Weltanschauung between various groups
in klal Yisrael v'hameyvin yavin.

> On a lower level we have seen R' Slifkin going from a superstar in kiruv
> work to being denounced as a heretic. We have seen R' Dovid Gottlieb & R'
> Dovid Orlofsky citing R' Slifkin's works and within a year assert that
> it is kefira. We have seen sincere intelligent kiruv workers suddenly
> discovering that they have teaching kefira for years.

> Yes it is critical that gedolim explain themselves in ways that are
> convincing to sincere and committed Jews!

I have an idea. It's presumptuous arrogance but what the heck. The
next time you meet a sincere and committed Jew who is confused about
the gedolim's issues with RNS's shittos, tell him to jump on Avodah and
search rivkyc@sympatico.ca and read some posts. I think he may find some
of the answers he's looking for, in my arrogant opinion :-)

>>6) There is an implication that the secular press and cyberspace babble
>>needs to affect the decisions of gedolim... 

> I am not suggesting that because of the reaction of the secular press
> that Gedolim refrain from telling us what is kefira... 

> In sum, kavod haTorah and kavod Gedolim requires that the present
> situation be handled differently.

You may be correct but there is no other viable alternative which makes
it a shame because as you say, kavod haTorah is being maligned. I have
much more to say about the lack of alternative lines of defence but I
can't do it publicly. If RDE wishes to pursue this last point with me
privately and hear my two cents, I will gladly comply.

Simcha Coffer

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