Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Slifkin Ban

I'm a little late jumping into the Slifkin fray, but I need to vent.

For those of you living on Mars or Michigan, here's a little background:

Rabbi Noson Slifkin is a lecturer and author who was born in England, learned in Shaarei Torah, Medrash Shmuel and the Mir, taught Gemara and Jewish philosophy at Ohr Somayach Institutions (where he received his smicha) and I'm not sure what he does now. He's popularly know as the "Zoo Rabbi" because he "uses Torah as an aid for wildlife education, and uses wildlife as an aid for Torah education". Some of his books are Mysterious Creatures, The Camel, The Hare, & The Hyrax, Nature's Song and of course, The Science of Torah. The Science of Torah delves into some of the toughest theological issues where modern science seems to contradict the literal understanding of Briyas HaOlam, evolution and . Was it 6 days or a few billion? While I haven't read R' Slifkin's book, I have read Gerald Schroder's "Genesis and the Big Bang" where this is discussed.

Then came the ban (here). While I've spend much time in blogsphere reading up on this, I can't claim to know all the facts. I will try to summarize what I do know.

At some point, someone brought some of Slifkin's books to the attention of some of the gedolim. Most sources indicate that excerpts of some of the books were read or presented to the gedolim (most who don't read or speak English) who them proclaimed that Rabbi Slifkins writings were heretical, were banned from a jewish home and newspaper ads were taken out to publicize this.
The ban also states that R' Slifkin spurned all attempts at discussion and that all the Rabbonim who gave haskomos to the books have since retracted them.

R' Slifkin's site gives another version of the events. He says he received an ultimatum to retract his writings or face humiliation. All of his efforts to contact any of the signers were spurned and he has yet been able to respond to the attacks. None of the Rabbonim have retracted their Haskomos- they continue to hold him in high regard. He also says that he has copies of the excerpts that were sent to the gedolim and that they are all taken out of context. See his site for details.

Now while the blogworld had been having a field day with all of this. Many, many valid and persuasive arguments in support of R' Slifkin and his writings have been posted (some are here, here, here, here, and many others-just look.) Most posters agree that R' Slifkin was not writing anything new. For hundreds (more?) of years, sources in chazal show that creation was not as simple or as short as literally read and that modern discoveries in science do not necessarily contradict the Torah. I haven't come across any defense or explanation of the ban or anything explaining how the gedolei hador (a title I fear will hold less weight after this fiasco) can ruin a man's livelihood and reputation so easily.
"Chazal knew everything and it's apikorsus to think otherwise" just doesn't quite cut it for me. Anyone know of anything online which explains the gedolim's point of view?

Here is a letter written to one of the signers which I think explains most of the feelings I have on this. I don't expect a response.


At 4:25 PM, Blogger Air Time said...

I liked it better when we were talking about skiing and scratching

At 7:59 PM, Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

Holy shit! With all that bottled up inside, I'm surprised your head didn't explode. (keep it coming, though)

At 10:53 PM, Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

By the way, I did read your posting, as well as the various links you included. I've also been reading about this whole brouhahah the last few weeks.

I'm absolutely agog in my disgust with the whole mainstream jewish world. More and more I sense that it's all a bunch of shit. I don't believe any of these jackasses. As far as I'm concerned, they're a bunch of money grubbing pricks hungry to support a broken system predicated on the whims of ignorant supporters and the infinite stupidity and arrogance of their blowhard followers.

fuck 'em all. (that bears repeating) FUCK 'EM ALL

At 7:49 AM, Blogger Just Passing Through said...

SW: For the record, I must clarify that I do not subscribe to such harsh views. However misguided and uninformed, I still believe that they are talmidei chachamim who belive they have clal yisrael's best interest at heart. It's their handlers and those who follow like a bunch of rats after a flute that piss me off. In the spirit of free speech and no bans, I'll keep that comment up.

At 12:21 PM, Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

If the yeshiva world can look down on the Lubavitcher Rebbe for what a crew of delusional handlers created of his legacy of the legacy, then why should I so generously give the yeshiva-elite any leeway.

If you're a gadol and supposedly all-knowing, you should know how to handle a few pompous supporters.

I'll take this closer to home. While I respect and revere a certain shul rabbi, I detest that he has allowed a select few to monopolize his time and identity. Personally, I wouldn't know how to handle it, but then again, I'm not all knowing and seeing.

At 11:45 PM, Blogger Air Time said...

Sounds like some good old fashioned shul politics.


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