Jan 3, 2007

new incident in R' Nosson Slifkin controversy!

R' Nosson Slifkin is scheduled to give a shiur tonight in RBS in the shul I daven in. R' Slifkin is a member of the same shul. R' Slifkin is starting a series of shiurim on the animal kingdom in Torah thought (not the exact title of the shiur, but the idea of it). The topic of tonight's shiur is exotic shofars.

Tonight's shiur is the first in the series, and that is why the newest incident just happened.

Some people among those who oppose R' Slifkin have posted signs around the neighborhood warning people to not go to the shiur. The contents of the letter include the original letters against R' Slifkin along with a new letter. The new letter states:
ZOO TORAH - TELL IT TO THE ANIMALS!
Not long ago, the Gedolei Yisrael came out with an edict that Mr. Natan Slifkin's books should not be read. This is due to various reasons which are well known, including the statement by the Gedolim that some of this thoughts constitue Apikorsus (heresy). The Gedolim also explicitly stated that he is forbidden to teach Torah even in a kiruv program, which is the reason why he is described as "formerly a Rebbe at Ohr Somayach."
Instead of humbling himself to the Gedolei Yisrael and admitting the error of his ways, Mr. Slifkin fought (and continues to fight) tooth and nail like a trapped animal, primarily through postings on his website. Calling himself "post-Chareidi" and other such terms, he has clearly led a battle to discredit the Gedolei Yisrael, becoming popular among those of the same sentiments.
Therefore, one who follows the Torah and admirably wants to attend a shiur at night, should know that by going to Mr. Natan Slifkin's class he is not only sinning by wilfully exposing himself to heretical thought, but essentially condoning and supporting those who do not listen to, and in fact make a mockery of, the Gedolei Yisrael. Leave his teachings where they belong - with the other animals of his ilk.


R' Slifkin has responded and commented within the letter: here it is again with R' Slifkins comments (R' Slifkins comments are in parentheses and in blue):

ZOO TORAH - TELL IT TO THE ANIMALS! (they have a sense of humor!)

Not long ago, the Gedolei Yisrael came out with an edict that Mr. Natan Slifkin's books should not be read (they took away my semichah!). This is due to various reasons which are well known (actually there are numerous disputes as to what the reasons actually are), including the statement by the Gedolim that some of this thoughts constitue Apikorsus (heresy) (apparently they translated the word for the less learned members of the community). The Gedolim also explicitly stated that he is forbidden to teach Torah even in a kiruv program, (this phrase is highlighted by hand with fluorescent pen in all of the dozens of posters) which is the reason why he is described as "formerly a Rebbe at Ohr Somayach." (Are they implying that I was kicked out of Ohr Somayach due to my hashkafos? That's not the case, I left years earlier when I moved to Ramat Bet Shemesh.)
Instead of humbling himself to the Gedolei Yisrael and admitting the error of his ways (I added an explanation on my website as to why I am not halachically required to do so), Mr. Slifkin fought (and continues to fight) tooth and nail like a trapped animal, primarily through postings on his website (I appreciate the plug, but I wish they would have given the URL!). Calling himself "post-Chareidi" and other such terms (what other such terms?), he has clearly led a battle to discredit the Gedolei Yisrael (actually I defended myself in a campaign led by the Gedolim and kannoim to discredit me), becoming popular among those of the same sentiments. (actually I have become popular even with many people who respect the Gedolei Yisrael)

Therefore, one who follows the Torah and admirably wants to attend a shiur at night, should know that by going to Mr. Natan Slifkin's class he is not only sinning by wilfully exposing himself to heretical thought, (they should check their facts, these shiurim don't include kefirah even according to their unusual definition) but essentially condoning and supporting those who do not listen to, and in fact make a mockery of, the Gedolei Yisrael. Leave his teachings where they belong - with the other animals of his ilk. (strangely, the word "animals" has been carefully painted over with Wite-out in every single one of the posters.)

The Rav of Beis Tefilla (the shul involved) was pressured to cancel the shiur. The Rav has been a supporter of Rav Slifkin throughout the whole history of the conflict. Here I present to you the response of the Rav:
Dear ***:
Your "facts" are simply incorrect. Slifkin was never placed in cherem by anyone.
This Shiur is clarifying sugyohs and Rishonim in Maseches Rosh haShanah. I can think of no finer endeavor.
The other classes will be examining nifla'os HaBoray, which, according to Chovohs Halevavohs is imperative and the basis for our avodas haShem.
I indeed recommend Slifkin's book--Nature's Song, on Perek Shirah, and Man & Beast.
His books about science, you takeh shouldn't read. You are not the intended audience. THAT is what the Gedolim said, and it should be adhered to, of course.
R' CZM


Then another letter was put up including a letter from the original controversy from R' Dovid Orlofsky. This letter bashed R' Slifkin in a most demeaning way (I have no intention to post it). R' Slifkin has responded to the new posting with the letter from R' Orlofsky that some of the facts are incorrect, along with the fact that the original letter from R' Orlofsky had been released two years ago. After it had been released, R' Orlofsky issued an apology, saying:

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
Someone is circulating a letter containing personal attacks against Nosson Slifkin purporting to represent me.
I have not authorized ANY letter to be distributed! I am working on a letter relating to this issue. That letter is NOT it. Please send this to whoever has a copy and ask them not to distribute this letter.
I apologize to Nosson and his family for the hurt they must have suffered from this action.
Sincerely,
Dovid Orlofsky


Notice how they use old and outdated information and ignore corrections in their attempts to subdue R' Slifkin.

I am not one to mix into this debate. Many people of greater capacity than me and of greater intellect have debated the subject in blogs, in papers and in other forms in the public sphere. It is not for me to say who is right and who is wrong.

However, the Rav of my shul has given his unwavering support to Rav Slifkin and that is enough for me. Some of the statements he printed that were under criticism, I had already heard from Rabbonim and other sources, so the issue does not bother me. It seems to be more of a personality clash than a fight based on emmes (truth). I therefore support Rav Slifkin and denounce the defaming posters that have gone up around the neighborhood.

I am scheduled to be in Yerushalayim tonight and have to miss the shiur. If I am able to make it though, or if I hear of anything that might occur, I will update you..


6 comments:

  1. all my friends have left brooklyn, where i grew up, and they wonder why i remain.

    now i feel a lot more comfortable having read your comments about life in ramat bet shemesh (here on by harry maryles).

    you must be a real cool headed guy to live there.

    i am sure there must be good things about rbs (there must be, as i knew a great guy who made aliyah there a few years ago), but get very negative vibes from you about the place.

    ReplyDelete
  2. there are very god thigns about rbs, despite the crazies that live here. Maybe I will write a post about it...

    ReplyDelete
  3. nu? did you go to the shiur? how was it? good attendance?

    ReplyDelete
  4. as I mentioned I would not be able to go, I was not. However, I asked somebody who went and also R' Slifkin himself and they told me it was well-attended and uneventful

    ReplyDelete
  5. what a shame that his knowledge that could give a more practical sense to certain Mishnas is not more sollicted.

    ReplyDelete

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