…Many books include ideas mentioned by Slifkin, but only his were condemned. Why? Because of "the impudent and audacious spirit of throwing off the yoke (prikas ol) of the mesorah miSinai and our sages (rabboseinu hakedoshim) who are its bearers (maggidehoh)," that is not found in those others.
Are the rabbonim asking or telling us to stop thinking? Do they wish us to be intellectual wimps who cannot and do not evaluate critically what they hear?
What an absurd suggestion! If we close down our minds we will not even be able to understand the Torah that they transmit to us daily, not to mention the holy words of our Sages of previous generations back to Sinai. No intellectually honest person could say that our rabbonim do not want us to think! The often-heard response that pronouncements such as this one are anti-intellectual betray a desire to ridicule us and our rabbonim, not a serious charge.
Free, serious and deep inquiry is our goal, constantly pursued. But — yes there is a "but" — it must be within the spirit of Torah and not in the spirit of the secular world which is deeply, unremittingly hostile to Torah.…
When we faced the Greeks in the time of the Maccabim, the issues were clear and in the open. They said, "Write on the ox horn that you have no part in the G-d of Israel." You cannot get more direct than that. They did not let us learn Torah and do mitzvos. The violated our money and our daughters and our Sanctuary.
Now they leave our daughters alone (except for once-in-a- while attempts in the State of Israel). They shower us with wealth. They allow us to learn and to do mitzvos with hiddurim that were undreamed of by earlier generations.
Yet the spirit of the Western world, in its media, in its science, in its art, in its politics, is a challenge to the authentic Torah spirit from the floor to the rafters.
Just pick up a Mesillas Yeshorim and consider the catalogue of things that the Ramchal lists as inimical to the very first step of the Path of the Righteous (Chapter 5), and it is clear that modern society has raised the difficulty of overcoming them to new heights: 1] Dealing with distractions and necessities of the world; 2] Laughter and ridicule; 3] Pressures of an evil society.
The mass of modern media and communication make the temptations of excess in the first area stronger than they ever were, even as it has increased greatly the amount of information that we really have to deal with. The amount of comedy and ridicule has increased tremendously compared to any previous period, even as its prestige has grown, making it harder to dismiss. Finally, society is so intrusive, even as it is free, that it exerts tremendous pressure to conform to its increasingly decadent values.…
It is hard to know who is for us and who is against us. Our rabbonim do not reject modern society wholesale, but they draw lines for us: This is ok. Stay away from that.
Whoever wants to, is free to go it alone. He or she can plunge in to the treacherous waters of the modern world alone, and try to reach the truth heroically alone. It is a big task for an individual.
The rest of us will take shelter under the banner of gedolei Yisroel. As in the generation of Chanukah, so too in our generation — the gedolei veziknei hador cry out to us all: Mi laSheim eilai!
Whoever wants to reach Hashem should join them!
Rabbi Slifkin had rabbinic endorsement for his works, including the endorsement of at least one gadol who now bans him. But truth has never been an issue for haredim. Neither has decency or respect for the work of others. Rabbi Slifkin's mistake was to try to make the haredi world fit with modern science. That cannot be done. Science is by definition an unrelenting search for truth. Harediism is a constant attempt at hiding from that truth, and is itself a lie.
The time has come to reject the haredi world, to stop "showering" them with money and respect. Do not fund their yeshivot and summer camps. Do not attend their dinners and fundraisers. Do not refer with honor to the men who banned Rabbi Slifkin, and do not follow their halakhic decisions.