Mar 12, 2007

Slifkin lost an admirer

What do you think of his arguments presented here?


  1. "His oversimplifications, and his propensity for only telling one side of the story (his view) is, simply put, poor scholarship. And that's the point – he's not a scholar. "

    i have not followed this controversy nor have i read any of his writings, so i can't comment on the issue of how honest, accurate, etc. he is. (i probably could not comment even if i did read him.)

    but did he ever claim to be writing an academic dissertation or a general survey of the field? did he ever claim that what he writes/says is fact or the only opinion.

    as far his alleged intellectual dishonesty, he is certainly no worse than many other frum writers.

    "takes his opponents criticisms (perhaps somewhat understandably) too personally"

    at this point who can blame him. a yasher koach that he has not caved in, regardless of the merit of his writings.

    "But when someone writes a book or goes on a lecture tour, etc – i.e. he goes out in public to represent Yiddishkeit – that's where things change. It is irresponsible for someone to make statements that aren't carefully worked out and remain quite ambiguous . . ."

    yes, but at the end of the day he is not representing yiddishkeit (whatever that means anyway), but rather his interpretation of it.

    "moreover, it is irresponsible to express an opinion as a fact. A scholar cannot put words in the mouths of others"

    these are very serious criticisms, but i wish the blogger would have given some examples.

  2. is he any more "intellectually dishonest" than Artscroll themselves. They have edited and rewritten the biographies of gedolim for years! Most people have come to expect and artscroll biography to be a joke. Is he any worse?

    I do not know if he's right or wrong, but he certainley has the right to do what he is doing.

  3. Look at what R' Slifkin himself posted in the comments at the end.

  4. you didn't write what your view is?

  5. I agree with Pragmatician. Where are your comments?

    I have an issue with all of this. The more people i meet who knew/know him closely verify that as a person he is a very kind, very smart person, who are suprised that so many people are against this man. More than that, everyone is entitled to a bad interview, i wouldn't judge so quickly based on one interview, although i can understand his frustration. Also, i dont really agree with the two points taken here. I dont think he ever was trying to portray himself on a level with Darwin, as i see more and more people try to attack him. I see him as someone trying to express a view that he feels should be expressed.
    Now, all that being said his continued insistance to maintain an opinion against the gedolim of today and previous generations scares me.
    I happened to come across the story of Rav Eliezer ben Horkanes and Rav Gamliel last week. We all know the story, where even Heaven came out and agreed with him, to which the Yeshiva responded "Torah lo Bashamayim hee". And the followed it up with a cherem on Rav Eliezer. When Rav Akiva went to tell him he was in cherem, rav eliezer tore kriya and sat shiva.
    Rav Eleizer had the walls of the beis medresh, the river, the carob tree and bas kol on his side, and he accepted cherem.

    Rav Slifkin, dont put yourself into cherem, i dont think that is necessary. But please, back down and let your works stand the test of time. If your works are to be respected, trust me people will still read them in 100 years. If not, then that is also Gd's wish.

  6. The conversation continues here:

  7. whats-in-a-name, see

  8. whatsinaname, R' Slifkin is defending the Gedolim of previous generations whose shittos are being condemned by most (but not all) of the Gedolim of today.

  9. basically I did not write my opinion because I thought it was obvious.. though looking at the comments, maybe it was not.

    The guy writing the criticism said nothing other than that Slifkin had a bad interview. He gave no details of bad and incorrect information being transmitted or heresy being taught. He was disappointed by the interview. OK. There could be a million reasons for that.

    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 piece of mind knowing I do not understand age of the universe.

  10. FWIW - the interview was terrrible. It wasn't just a bad interview but displayed something about Slifkin that is hard to deny - he is somewhat reckless. One of the commenters there made this point as well.
    Going on the Dennis Prager show is like Shmuly Boteach debating Larry Flint about the virtues of modesty. It was a cheap publicity stunt designed to boost Boteach's image, not modesty. Slifkin must be aware of how sensitive these issues are [if he wasn't at first - the bans should have accomplished AT LEAST that.] To agree to be intvd. by Prager [a Kofer B'rabbim] and discuss such sensitive matters to an audience that is largely Christian and secular who could never appreciate the nuances of his arguments is beyond reckless.
    I don't know what his motives were for agreeing to it. Perhaps his publisher insisted or whatever. The fact is that he did his cause alot of damage because it was irresponsible. Someone who deals with fundamentals in Emunah needs to be ultra careful in that area.
    Was this his first slip-up? Perhaps. Some of those who oppose feel that this is a long-standing problem with him and his works. Not bad intent but irresponsible and reckless. The Prager interview did nothing to convince me and countless others otherwise.


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