Thursday, February 24, 2005

Freedom To Interpret?

Hirhurim links to a great essay written by R' Arye Carmell relevant to the current controversy over R. Slifkin's books. A recommended read for those interested.

This again brings me to my problem of trust. The current accepted 'Gedolim' still appear to issue proclomations based on emotion and politics. I say 'appear' because I recognize that intelectually I do not even come close to these 'Gedolim', yet they offer no rational explanation for these actions. Every letter/proclomation/ban/retraction/retraction of the retractions that they issue out seems to weaken the public's faith in their cababilities in 'worldly' matters.

I tried discussing this with a rebbe that I've kept in touch with but got nowhere as he is more of the opinion that the Sages and their views are infallible. The last time we argued about this type of topic a while back, things got out of hand and we didn't speak for a long time. I respect him but think he's the wrong person to talk to about this. Likewise for my LOR (Local Orthodox Rabbi). If I bring these subjects up, he seems very careful to cover himself and not take a position.

Who's there to talk to? I can spend weeks reading blogs on this subject-some rational and intelectual and some with an obvious agenda (yet I can't seem to find any explaining or supporting these 'bans') but come the end of the day, what does one do? If these 'Gedolim' are the Poskim we have today, and yet I can't feel like they will present the facts but rather will follow a political line, what happens with future psak's that will come?? I'm not at a level where I can easily discount something said by a gadol, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who is really confused.


At 3:21 PM, Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

Reread my 'harsh' posts on and you'll have your answer.

But if you're waiting for someone heroic to step up to the plate, don't hold your breath.

If all politics is local (as goes the famous Tip O'Neill quote), then don't expect an apolitical stance from your local orthodox rabbi.

At 3:43 PM, Blogger Just Passing Through said...

I still hold it was 'harsh'. Whatever their shortcomings, they are pious, learned and I believe well-intended. My feelings of politics and superficiality (is that a word?)playing an ever-increasing role in Yiddishkeit is what worries and confuses me. I just wish some rabbainnim would step up to the plate and offer some clarifications.

At 5:34 PM, Blogger Godol Hador said...

They are pious, learned and I believe well-intended.

I agree. But now I realize they are also mis-guided, mis-informed and perhaps a little naive / foolish too.

At 8:06 PM, Blogger Air Time said...

I am still having trouble understanding the relevance to your life.

Lets review the facts. I use a general we here, but perhaps it shuld be "I":

1) We don't have personal relationships with gedolim, so we aren't insulting anyone when we shrug the latest pronouncements off

2) We already ignore almost anything they say regarding the Internet, going to movies, watching TV, reading newspapers and interacting with the world around us.

3) We strongly disagree on key issues relating to Israel (i.e. The t'filla for the Israel, the IDF, Yom Ha'atzmaut)

So they can ban all the books they want, only this will be one that I keep because I can't imagine actually reading a Slifkin book.

At 8:17 AM, Blogger Just Passing Through said...

Gadol: Thanks for dropping by. I'm at your blog everyday. I'll agree on the misguided and maybe misinformed. Although I wouldn't say naive. I think that the chareidi culture today is one with a circle-the-wagon-mentality.

Air Time: while I may not have a personal relationship with any of these people, I still think disagreement/bewilderment needs to be expressed b'kavod. I may not think they're right on this, but they're still talmidei chachamim. It's mainly the 'establishment' I have a beef with. And while I may not do whatever they say, that's not my issue here. The question is not whether I read the book or not-I would, it's the principle of the matter; cheesy, I know. They say something that does not conform to accepted gedolim before their time and have no reasonable explanation. I don't know, I just irks me. Maybe we've beaten this horse enough and it's time to move on, but hey, I need something to keep this blog going!

At 9:00 PM, Anonymous Yitzhak said...

My feelings of politics and superficiality (is that a word?)playing an ever-increasing role in Yiddishkeit is what worries and confuses me.Read a Jewish history book (a reall one, not Artscroll Hagiagrophy).Thank G-d, things have only been improving.

At 1:10 AM, Blogger Air Time said...

Every Sunday night i go to a shuir at the Kollel. The shiur is basically five or six of us from Young Israel, all 30 and older (he also gives a similar shuir to the under 30 crowd who don't want to learn with us old men), and we go through all the Mitzvot that the Rambam says are still relevant to every jewish male today.

The guy who gives the shiur is our age, and very often we find that his has a perspective on hashkafah, education, and other things jewish that are not typical for a kollel yungerman.

Anyway, tonight at the end of the shuir I asked him if he read Slifkin, and what he thought about it. He suggested to the other members of the shuir to read up at, or whatever the site is called, and he will be giving next weeks shuir on the Slifkin saga.

He has read the books, and has discussed them with Rabbi Irons, the head of the kollel here.

Anyway, I will keep you posted on what he says next week. I really like this rabbi who gives the shiur. He is one of the good guys.

At 10:23 AM, Blogger Just Passing Through said...

"Hagiagrophy"- I had to look that one up. Good one.
True. Yiddishkeit was never without the politics, but my feelings are that it's increasingly so in the accepted chareidi leadership.

At 10:28 AM, Blogger Just Passing Through said...

Air: please keep me posted on this shiur of yours. It sounds interesting. I wish I knew of something similar in my area.


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