July 08, 2005

Haredism = Lies & Deceit

An important piece of disturbing information surfaced during the Rabbi Slifkin Book Ban.

It seems that some haredi gedolim permitted ideas like Rabbi Slifkin's to be taught, but only for 'outreach' purposes in kiruv (outreach) seminars and at ba'al teshuva yeshivot and seminaries, but not in regular haredi yeshivot, seminaries or communities. God forbid their own children should be perverted by such heresy.

In other words, haredim practice a double standard, the use of deceitful tactics to missionize the unchurched, to lure in the unsuspecting, just like real cults.

Learn from this ban.

Haredim will lie to you to get what they want, be it a donation or another 'saved' soul – especially if that soul is yours.

Why The So-Called Gedolim Are Wrong: Truth>Dogma

Haredim have turned belief in the Ari's system of Kabbala into a litmus test for membership in Orthodoxy. This is a shame for many reasons, not the least of which is the misunderstanding of the Ari's place in history inherent in that litmus test.

The Ari lived during the Renaissance, a time of intellectual enlightenment and rationalism. Universities were springing up throughout Europe, and Humanist culture was king.

Judaism had a long tradition of what was then viewed as irrational thought – worlds created and destroyed before this one, 974 generations of men who lived before Adam and the idea that this world was very much older than 5500 years. These propositions were very alien to European and Muslim thought, whose rationalist tendencies were filtered through literal reading of Scripture. Midrashim that spoke of generations before Adam were viewed – and derided – as fairy tales.

The Ari took these midrashim, aggadot and kabbalistic works and rewrote them. He – without Jewish sources to base himself on – turned the 974 physical generations  that lived before Adam into spiritual generations that existed only in God's thought, not in the physical world. In doing so he rectified so-called "primitive'" aspects of Judaism with Renaissance thought. This change was very appealing to young intellectuals, many of whom joined the Ari's circle or the circles that later formed around his disciples. Because it did not involve changing any practical Halakha or abrogating the midrashim and aggadot in question – after all, the Ari's system was simply hashgafic thought, a philosophy of creation, if you will – there was no reason to oppose the Ari's new views. The Ari's new system, a hybrid of mysticism and Renaissance rationalism, took hold.

Fast forward to the Rabbi Nosson Sifkin ban. 'Gedoloim' like Rabbis Elyashiv, Wachtofel, Shapiro and Feldman now mandate belief in the Ari's system even though today's rationalist thought backed up by reams of empirical scientific evidence now knows that the world is in fact billions of years old.

If the Ari were alive today, it is highly unlikely he would construct a system that mandates belief in a 6000 year old world. If anything, he would trumpet the teachings of Yitzhak mi Akko. But today's 'gedolim' know nothing of history, nothing of theology, nothing of pre-Ari kabbala and nothing of science. They are small men in the worst sense of the word, and they are destroying Judaism. Some, like Rabbis Elyashiv and Wachtofel, are truly evil men. Others are simply pious fools. A few, like Rabbi Aharon Feldman, really should know better.

The 'gedolim' have drawn a line in the sand and dared us to cross.

For the sake of our future generations, for the sake of Judaism itself, we must take that dare.

Truth is more important than dogma.

July 06, 2005

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's View On The Age Of The Universe

Because of the renewed controversy over the banning of Rabbi Nosson Slifkin and his works, I thought it would be helpful to again summarize the position of Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, z"l on the age of the universe.

Rabbi Kaplan was both an illui (genius) in Torah and an illui in physics, and was arguably the most qualified individual of the previous generation to discuss the interface of Torah and science.

PART 1: Background.

    1. As long as no halakha is involved, there is no reason to paskin on (decide) an issue.
    2. In his Guide to the Perplexed, the Rambam builds several shitot (philosophies) based on da'at yachid, an individual view of a sage that is not upheld by the majority. As long as this is done for hashgafah (philosophy, outlook) and not for legal issues, this is perfectly fine.
    3. One cannot label an idea heretical until one has surveyed the sources. Perhaps Gedolim from earlier generations held the same view. If so, the view is not heresy.
    4. Sefer Temunah, an early kabbalistic work attributed to the 1st century Tanna Nehunya ben ha-Kanah, is a work that discusses the kabbalistic import of the shapes of the Hebrew letters. Sefer Temunah is quoted in many different Halakhic sources (including the Beit Yosef) that deal with sofrut – writing Torah scrolls, mezuzot and megilot.
    5. Sefer Temunah also comments on the Shmita Theory, the idea that sabbatical cycles existed before the creation of Adam, and that those cycles – those years – were actual physical years.
    6. Sefer Temunah states that we are in the 6th 7,000-year sabbatical cycle and that the world is 42,000 years old.
    7. The Shmita Theory became known as the Shitat Sefer Temunah.
    8. Many pre-ARI kabbalists accepted the Shitat Sefer Temunah, including the Ramban, his close student Yitzhak of Akko, and the RADBAZ.
    9. The Ramban's position is difficult to understand if you have not first learned Shitat Sefer Temunah.
    10. The ARI (Rabbi Isaac Luria) rejected Shitat Sefer Temunah and taught that these cycles were not physical years but were instead spiritual, non-physical years. Rabbi Moshe Cordevero agreed with the ARI.
    11. Because of the spread of Lurianic Kabbalah, Shitat Sefer Temunah became less and less known. For the most part, only those few scholars who studied ancient kabbalistic works were aware of it.
    12. In 1838, when the Tiferet Yisrael wrote his essay on the age of the universe  that advocated a universe much older than 6,000 years, his works were banned by some hasidim. Others simply ripped the essay out of the larger work.
    13. The Tiferet Yisrael's 'crime' ? Not accepting the ARI's opinion as binding. (See #1, #2 and #3 above.)

PART 2: Could The World Have Been Created 'Old'?

    1. No Jewish source exists to support this contention.
    2. To make the world appear to be billions of years old when it is really 6000 years old is problematic:

        a. It makes G-d appear to be deceptive.
        b. If one accepts the idea that G-d created an 'old' world, why not say the world was created 5 minutes ago and we with it, with all of our memories, etc. ready-made?
        c. Again, there is no Jewish source for this idea. [It was invented by the 19th century Christian apologist Philip Henry Gosse.]

    3. One can believe it it one desires. Such a belief – even absent Jewish sources to support it – is not heresy.

PART 3: The Shita of Yitzhak of Akko.

    1. He was a student and a colleague of the RAMBAN.
    2. Was one of the foremost kabbalists of his time.
    3. Investigated and authenticated the Zohar, which was then published in his lifetime.
    4. Is often quoted in the Mussar classic, Reishit Hokhmah.
    5. In his work Otzar HaHayyim, Yizhak of Acco writes that, because the sabbatical cycles referred to in Shitat Sefer Temunah existed before Adam, they must be measured in Divine years, not human years.
    6. Therefore, Sefer Temunah is speaking of Divine years when it states that the world is 42,000 years old.
    7. According to midrashic sources, a Divine day is 1,000 earth-years long.
    8. A Divine year would therefore equal 365,250 earth years.
    9. So, according to Yitzhak of Acco, the universe would be 42,000 x 365,250 earth-years old.
    10. That calculation comes out to 15.3 billion years, very close to current estimates for the Big Bang.

Part 4: Conclusion.

    1. There does not have to be a conflict between science and Torah on the age of the universe.
    2. Pre-Ari Torah-teachings have in fact been confirmed by modern science.

July 04, 2005

Rabbi Aharon Feldman's Letter Embarrassment

Rabbi Aharon Feldman's letter on the Rabbi Nosson Slifkin ban appears below.

Rabbi Feldman – who defended Rabbi Slifkin – has completely changed his postition and now opposes Rabbi Slifkin. He blames Rabbi Slifkin for the shame brought on the so-called gedolim when the blame belongs squarely on their shoulders, not Rabbi Slifkin's. They banned a man without proper hearing, due process or investigation. They refused to hear his point of view. They smeared him. They labeled him a heretic.

Yet Rabbi Feldman now adopts the view of the evil one from Jerusalem:

R. Yosef Shalom Eliashiv, a signatory to the ban, was asked: if he considers Slifkin’s approach wrong how could so many earlier authorities have held it? He answered: “They were permitted to hold this opinion; we are not.” In other words, they were authorities in their own right qualified to decide matters of Jewish law. We are not permitted to do so. We are enjoined to follow the majority opinion and our tradition as to how we are to approach Torah.

Understand this well: Even though major rabbis who lived 700 to 1000 years ago held that the world was very old – far, far older than 6000 years – we are now mandated to believe the world is no more than 6000 years old. Why? We must follow the errors of (some, but not all, of the) more recent rabbis.

What is really behind this coercion? This:

One of the most powerful reasons why R. Avraham’s [and the Rambam his father's] opinion was rejected by most opinions, is the introduction of the wisdom of Kabbalah of the Ari Zal in the sixteenth century. This cast the Sages in another dimension. Before then, many authorities had held that the esoteric wisdom described in the Talmud as Ma’aseh Breyshis and Ma’aseh Hamerkava was science and philosophy. After the introduction of Kabbalah it became clear that these were the Sefer HaYetzira, the Zohar and the Tikkunim. This was accepted by the overwhelming majority of Torah scholars since then. Kabbala made it clear that when the Sages spoke, they based themselves on their knowledge of the mysteries of creation. This would give them an accurate knowledge of matters of natural science as well.

In other words, the Ari held that the Talmud referred to spiritual, not physical, worlds when it spoke of worlds created and destroyed before this one or the generations who lived before Adam. Science has now proven the pre-Ari sages to be correct and the Ari and his followers – the hasidic movement and  much of the haredi rabbinate – to be wrong. But the Judaism of Rabbi Aharon Feldman cannot accept that. In his pathetic world, the Ari must be correct and the pre-Ari sages incorrect. This is the crux of the ban.

Know this well: Science has proved haredi Judaism wrong. Science cannot be rectified with haredi Judaism nor can haredi Judaism be rectified with science.

Rabbis Elyashiv, Wachtofel, Shapiro, Feldman, Barenbaum, etc. have turned Judaism into a cult, a place where one must believe fantasy to belong.

Rabbi Feldman is a perversion, a sick, deceitful, dishonest man and his Judaism is also a perversion, sick and dishonest.

May God save us.

Continue reading "Rabbi Aharon Feldman's Letter Embarrassment" »

July 03, 2005

Gedolim World


And, Gedolim Color War returns! (Funny, you can find it here, too!)

Rabbi Aharon Feldman Sells Out Rabbi Slifkin

Rabbi Aharon Feldman, a one-time defender of Rabbi Nosson Slifkin, has sold out and now backs the ban against Rabbi Slifkin and his books.

GodolHador has written extensively on this.

My thoughts on the duplicity of Rabbi Feldman, the Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Yisrael are made clear in the post above.

As for Orthodoxy, it is moving rapidly into the Dark Ages. For all interested in truth and light, it's time to jump ship.

May 24, 2005

Evolution Meets Judaism – A.K.A., Rabbi Slifkin Gets Mugged By The 'Gedolim'

The Scientist has a piece on the recent controversy surrounding Rabbi Nosson Slifkin:

…  "Intelligent design usually involves arguing that there are structures in living creatures which cannot be explained by naturalistic processes," [Rabbi Slifkin] writes via E-mail. "I think that this is a potentially problematic approach, certainly from a Jewish perspective. Judaism has always focused on seeing God in the design of the laws of nature, not in creating phenomena that can't be explained by natural laws – yet."

… "Jews are generally less insistent than Christians on literal readings of scripture (due to a long tradition of rabbinic deeper interpretations of the Bible). In addition, miracles and supernatural acts are much less significant in Judaism than in Christianity."

Slifkin's views – see more at [http://www.zootorah.com] – have not been without their opponents in the Jewish community.

… "I knew that these ideas were regarded with deep loathing in certain insular circles, amongst people who have had no exposure to modern science," he says. "But I did not think that my books would penetrate these circles ... and indeed they didn't, which is why for years there was no uproar [until] certain troublemakers brought them to the attention of people who would not have noticed them otherwise."

"What was interesting is that those who strongly opposed my books totally underestimated how widely these ideas are accepted in the Orthodox Jewish world," Slifkin says. "The overwhelming majority of the community, including many rabbis and community leaders, were sympathetic to my views."…

Yes, but they are too cowardly to publicly stand up and say so.

May 08, 2005

Rabbi David Orlofsky Continues To Lie

Rabbi David Orlofsky has written a public letter on the Rabbi Slifkin Ban. While blaming those who released his earlier letters, he fails to mention that the first of those letters contained lies about Rabbi Slifkin, and that Rabbi Orlofsky clearly knew those parts of his letter were not true. Yet he circulated the letter to many friends, students and other rabbis. One of them released the letter, appalled by the lies and the viscious tone. Subsequently the second letter was released to show that Rabbi Orlofsky had – under pressure – removed the lies and moderated the tone somewhat.

Why anyone trusts this man is beyond me. He's the worst type of unapologetic party hack and a poster boy for what is wrong with today's Orthodoxy. He should be retired from public life – and teaching life – immediately.

Letter is posted after the jump.

Continue reading "Rabbi David Orlofsky Continues To Lie" »

March 30, 2005

Schneur From NYC Writes – Rabbi Dovid Feinstein Judged A Case In Which He Had A Financial Interest, Stood Gain Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars

Continue reading "Schneur From NYC Writes – Rabbi Dovid Feinstein Judged A Case In Which He Had A Financial Interest, Stood Gain Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars" »

March 29, 2005

The Rabbi Dovid Feinstein Nepotistic Two-Step: What Is Good For R. Slifkin Is Bad For R. Feinstein's Nephew R. Mordechai Tendler

Continue reading "The Rabbi Dovid Feinstein Nepotistic Two-Step: What Is Good For R. Slifkin Is Bad For R. Feinstein's Nephew R. Mordechai Tendler" »

March 28, 2005

********** STRAWBERRIES BANNED! ********** No Joke – British Ultra-Orthodox Ban Strawberries Due To Fear Of Bugs

Continue reading "********** STRAWBERRIES BANNED! ********** No Joke – British Ultra-Orthodox Ban Strawberries Due To Fear Of Bugs" »

March 24, 2005

Ohr Somayach "Luxury" Passover Features Unrepentant Liar, Cultlike Deception

Continue reading "Ohr Somayach "Luxury" Passover Features Unrepentant Liar, Cultlike Deception" »

March 22, 2005

Is This Rabbi David Orlofsky's Letter Smearing Rabbi Slifkin?

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Rabbi Berel Wein: Bans Don't Work In Modern World – If You Want To Do Outreach, That Is

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March 21, 2005

NY Times Reports On Slifkin Book Ban – Agudah Spin Behind The Story?

Continue reading "NY Times Reports On Slifkin Book Ban – Agudah Spin Behind The Story?" »

March 02, 2005

R. Mattisyahu Solomon: Those Who Seek To Reconcile Torah With Science "ARROGANT" – We Must Believe In The Lowest Common Denominator Understanding Of Torah With "Simple Faith"

Continue reading "R. Mattisyahu Solomon: Those Who Seek To Reconcile Torah With Science "ARROGANT" – We Must Believe In The Lowest Common Denominator Understanding Of Torah With "Simple Faith"" »

March 01, 2005

Jewish DIS-Unity: Siyum HaShas Turns Into Anti-Slifkin, Anti-Tendler Battleground

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Tampa Tribune: Katherine Harris Refuses To Return Rubashkin-Balkany $$$ – USDA Report Missing In Action

Continue reading "Tampa Tribune: Katherine Harris Refuses To Return Rubashkin-Balkany $$$ – USDA Report Missing In Action" »

February 28, 2005

Gedolim Color War

Continue reading "Gedolim Color War" »

February 27, 2005

NY State Kosher Food Database Is Up And Running – With A Pregnant Double Standard From Agudath Israel Of America And Nathan Lewin

Continue reading "NY State Kosher Food Database Is Up And Running – With A Pregnant Double Standard From Agudath Israel Of America And Nathan Lewin" »

February 26, 2005

Another J-Blog Down – Bnei Levi, In Forefront Defending R. Slifkin – Disappears Without A Trace

Bnei Levi, a J-blog that was in the forefront of defending Rabbi Nosson Slifkin, has disappeared without a trace. Was Bnei Levi hacked? Was he threatened? Did he simply give up?

So far, we don't know for sure – although it appears that Godol Hador, another J-blog in the forefront of the R. Slifkin scandal, has been heavily pressured to get out of the blog business.

The thugs are winning.

Slifkin Censors Website – Controversy No More

Continue reading "Slifkin Censors Website – Controversy No More" »

February 23, 2005

Yated Ne'eman: Throat-Ripping At Rubashkin, Oral-Genital Contact During Circumcision Both Religious Freedom Issues – Government Has No Right To Tell Us What To Do – Links US Government Action To 'Czarist Russia' , Cooperation With Govt Sin

Continue reading "Yated Ne'eman: Throat-Ripping At Rubashkin, Oral-Genital Contact During Circumcision Both Religious Freedom Issues – Government Has No Right To Tell Us What To Do – Links US Government Action To 'Czarist Russia' , Cooperation With Govt Sin" »

Slifkin Book On e-Bay – Starting Bid $100

Rabbi Nosson Slifkin's banned book, The Science of Torah is being offered on e-Bay with a starting bid of $100.

Bid away here.

(Hat tip: Felicity Lerner.)

February 22, 2005

Rabbi Dovid Feinstein Retracts His 'Retraction' – The R. Slifkin Ban Still Stands

Godol Hador and others in the know are reporting that Rabbi Dovid Feinstein's 'retraction' of the Rabbi Slifkin Ban is not true. The ban stands.

As FailedMessiah.com reported yesterday, this is hardly a surprise.

February 21, 2005

New Letter From Rabbi Elyashiv Translated

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Rav Elyashiv Strikes Back – Ban Still Stands No Room For Questioning


Rabbi Dovid Feinsten "Rescinds" His Ban On Rabbi Slifkin – Has Not Apologized – Will He?

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February 19, 2005

Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch Speaks – You Are Almost Absolutely Without Question A Heretic, A Kofer And A Min – Slifkin Ban Expands To Include Almost All Of Orthodoxy, Including You

Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch, a 'gadol' of note, has declared almost every Torah-observant Jew who believes the world is older than 6000 years to be a heretic: [Hat tip: Bnei Levi.]

Continue reading "Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch Speaks – You Are Almost Absolutely Without Question A Heretic, A Kofer And A Min – Slifkin Ban Expands To Include Almost All Of Orthodoxy, Including You" »

February 17, 2005

BREAKING! Rabbi Elyashiv Makes Entire Kosher Wing Of Judaism Treife By Fiat – No Basis In Jewish Law For His Action – Welcome To The Dark Ages

I received the following from JJ, a reader, who claims this is an e-mail from R. Ahron Feldman explaining his visit last week to Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv on behalf of Rabbi Nosson Slifkin. Read correctly, it means that the 'gedolim' will not be standing up to Rabbi Elyashiv anytime soon:

Continue reading "BREAKING! Rabbi Elyashiv Makes Entire Kosher Wing Of Judaism Treife By Fiat – No Basis In Jewish Law For His Action – Welcome To The Dark Ages" »

February 14, 2005

The Bnei Brak Flat Earth Society Wants You!


But be warned – don't fall off the edge!

[Click on the graphic for an enlargement.]

February 13, 2005

JWB Reports: Slikin Ban Still On, Widening

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February 03, 2005

BREAKING! Bnei Levi Is Exclusively Reporting That The Slifkin Ban Is Off – Rabbi Ahron Feldman Representing The Leadership Of American Haredi Judaism Has Flown To Jerusalem And Confronted Rabbi Elyashiv

Continue reading "BREAKING! Bnei Levi Is Exclusively Reporting That The Slifkin Ban Is Off – Rabbi Ahron Feldman Representing The Leadership Of American Haredi Judaism Has Flown To Jerusalem And Confronted Rabbi Elyashiv" »

February 02, 2005

Everything He Learned About Torah He Learned At The University Of Berlin?

Rebbe_no_yarmulkeChabad Skeptic has posted a telling link to a letter written in 1971 by the late Chabad-Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson to an unnamed member of the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists.

[The scientist is most likely Yehuda (Leo) Levi, who is now rumored to be the subject of Jerusalem street posters calling for his excommunication.]

The problems with the letter?

Bad science and bad Torah:

[F]or example, the attempt to ‘reinterpret’ the text of the first section of Breishis4 to the effect that it speaks of periods or eons, rather than ordinary days, or to apply indiscriminately the dictum the ‘the Torah speaks in the language of man,’ etc., is not only uncalled for, but it means tampering with the Mitzvah [commandment] of Shabbos itself, which ‘balances’ all the Torah. For, if one takes the words “one day” out of their context and plain meaning, one ipso facto abrogates the whole idea of Shabbos as the ‘seventh day’ stated in the same context. The whole idea of Shabbos observance is based on the clear and unequivocal statement in the Torah: “For in six days G-d made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He ceased from work and rested”—days, not periods.

Such attempts at reinterpreting the Torah are, of course, the outmoded legacy of the 19th century and before, when in the face of the dogmatic and deterministic view of science prevailing at the time, a whole apologetic literature was created by well-meaning religious advocates and certain Rabbis, who saw no other way of preserving the Torah heritage in their ‘enlightened’ communities except through tenuous and spurious reinterpretations of certain passages of the Torah in order to accommodate them to the prevailing world outlook. No doubt they knew inwardly that they were suggesting interpretations in Torah which were at variance with Toras Emes[the infallible Torah]. But, at least, they felt they had no alternative. It was conceivable, in those days, that if one approached a student who dabbled in science and told him that according to the Torah-hashkofo [Torah outlook], the sun revolves around the earth, he might well repudiate Torah altogether. So, in an effort to encourage the student to put on Teffilin [ritual prayer boxes], the well-meaning Rabbi did not mind conceding that the earth revolved around the sun. But surely there is no longer any justification whatever to perpetuate this ‘inferiority complex!’ Certainly there is no basis for holding on to views which have come down in outdated elementary and high school textbooks on science.

This matter of the sun and the earth is a further case in point. To declare categorically in the name of science, that the earth revolves around the sun, and not vise versa, is, as noted above, turning the scientific clock back to the 19th century and Medieval science. It is also at variance with the theory of relativity, which has likewise been universally accepted. Science now declares—as categorically as it is permissible for contemporary science—that where two bodies in space are in relative motion, it is scientifically impossible to determine which is at rest and which in motion.

The Rebbe – who, after all, was supposed to be a kabbalist of stature – shows complete ignorance of a major kabbalistic view on the age of the universe and creation.

Known as Shitat Sefer Temunah, this view was first noted by the 1st century rabbi, Nehuniyah ben HaKaneh in his work Sefer Temunah and was held by many, if not most, of the pre-Ari (Rabbi Isaac Luria, 16th century, Egypt and Tzefat) kabbalists.

In a different letter, published in Challenge (AOJS/Feldheim, 1978) the Rebbe accounted for dinosaurs, other fossils, and all other data pointing to a very ancient world by positing that God created the world to look old, with dinosaurs and other fossils already buried in the ground, and with light from distant stars already reaching the earth.

The problem with this view?

There is no source in traditional Jewish texts to support it.

So did the Rebbe invent this idea out of whole cloth?

No. He 'borrowed' it (unattributed, of course) from Philip Henry Gosse, the mid-19th century Christian apologist who invented it.

Where did the Rebbe learn this Christian view on the age of the universe?

At the University of Berlin in a Natural Philosophy class.

For the past forty years, the Rebbe's followers have been pushing this un-Jewish view, preaching it on college campuses and publishing it in newsletters, newspapers and on the internet.

But, if the Slifkin Ban has taught us anything, it is that ignorance – both of science and of Jewish history – is not unique to Chabad.

You can read the entire letter here.

Continue reading "Everything He Learned About Torah He Learned At The University Of Berlin?" »

January 30, 2005

Slifkin Ban – Make Your Voice Heard!

An online petition regarding the R. Slifkin Ban:

To be delivered to those rabbis who signed the ban.

All In The Family

Paul Shaviv has a fascinating post on Sir Isaiah Berlin and Slifkin-gate.

It seems that Sir Isaiah, Yehudi Menuhin and the 7th Lubavitcher rebbe were all equal Schneerson cousins and the rebbe's wife, Chaya Mushka (and daughter of the 6th rebbe, Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn) used to travel to London to see Sir Isaiah's mother and attend the theater with her.

By the way, Sir Isaiah – an infrequent synagogue attendee – inherited from his mother the tefillin of the Alter Rebbe, Shneur Zalman of Liady the founder of the Chabad dynasty. It was not uncommon for Lubavitch hasidim to make a pilgrimage of sorts to Sit Isaiah's home just to catch a glimpse of them.

Does anyone know where they are kept today?

UPDATE: The Times They Are A Changin'?

After two weeks of complete censorship, Aish HaTorah has returned a censored version of Dr. Gerald Schroeder's article, The Age of the Universe to the Aish.com website and made it an Editor's Pick in this week's Aish.com e-mail.

What prompted this 'change'?

Perhaps it was the reduced web traffic, disgust shown by (former) donors, and difficulty conducting Discovery Seminars when participants are aware of the Slifkin Ban and its repercussions.

Or, it could be a sudden fit of altruism.

You choose.

UPDATE: A reader has pointed out that significant changes have been made in Dr. Schroeder's article.

Searching the web, I found the original version. The new, censored version on Aish.com has this added paragraph inserted as the second paragraph:

Let me clarify right at the start. The world may be only some 6000 years old. God could have put the fossils in the ground and juggled the light arriving from distant galaxies to make the world appear to be billions of years old. There is absolutely no way to disprove this claim. God being infinite could have made the world that way. There is another possible approach that also agrees with the ancient commentators' description of God and nature. The world may be young and old simultaneously. In the following I consider this latter option.

In other words, Dr. Schroeder has been forced to add the theory of a 19th century Christian apologist, Philip Henry Gosse to his article without noting its Christian source or the fact that there are no classical Jewish sources that agree with Gosse.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are in a new Dark Age and R. Yosef Shalom Elyashiv is our new black pope. May G-d save us.

Both versions of the Schroeder article can be read after the jump.

Continue reading "UPDATE: The Times They Are A Changin'?" »

January 26, 2005

Burning Books, Ruining Lives, Destroying Truth – The Slifkin Ban In Perspective

Jeffery Woolf of Bar Illan University has this to say about the Slifkin ban:

800 years ago, the kind of witch hunt this ban has generated led 'Frummer Yidn' to invite the Holy Office of the Inquisition to burn the writings of the heretic from Cairo. They did so in the center of Montpellier. That act of fanatical mesira provided the legal precedent for the burning of 24 cartloads of Talmudic Manuscripts in the Place de l'Hotel de Vosges in Paris in the Spring of 1242.

I suggest the 'gedolim' learn some history.

And then, this:

There is, in Jerusalem and New York, a group of highly sophisticated Ba'ale Teshuva who entered the Torah World because they had been shown that one can be educated and Torah observant as well. The vicious attacks on Rabbi Slifkin, which are themselves heretical as they contradict the words of literally dozens of Rishonim and later authorities, are creating an atmosphere which will drive these wonderful people from Torah.…What do we have to offer these fellow Orthodox Jews, when the Roshe Yeshiva they so admire deny them their place in the World to come?

January 22, 2005

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, z"l On The Age Of The Universe

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's, z"l, position of the age of the universe based on early Kabbalistic sources is highlighted after the jump.

Continue reading "Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, z"l On The Age Of The Universe" »

January 21, 2005

Cross-Currents Skewered

The best satire of the thinly-veiled, Pravda-like Agudath Israel 'blog' Cross-Currents can be found here. Enjoy!

January 20, 2005

Ladies And Gentlemen, Welcome To The Dark Ages

Mordechai Plaut, editor of Deiah Vedibbur, the online mouthpiece of the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jewish world, has left a telling comment on House of Hock.


  1. "[T]radition (mesorah) is a much more powerful and better path to knowledge than sensory observation based on induction."
  2. "[S]cience has altogether nothing to do with truth."
  3. "Only Torah can even claim to be discussing truth."

Ladies and Gentlemen, please check your faculties at the door before entering HarediLand.

More Slifkin Censorship

Ohr Somayach has pulled most of Rabbi Nosson Slifkin's work from the Ohr.edu website. (Hat tip: reader Bob.)

How The Slifkin Ban Explains Rubashkin's Rabbis, Part 1

If you want to understand why Rubashkin is (largely) getting a free pass from right-wing Orthodoxy, it is important to understand the right-wing Orthodox view on science.

Scientists and veterinarians have clearly stated that the animals shown on the PETA video suffered unnecessarily. Orthodox rabbis who have made statements on the Rubashkin-PETA issue have disagreed with them:

It's just like "a chicken running with its head cut off," said one prominent rabbi. Another repeatedly claims that the animals are just like a "drunk trying to stand" on wobbly legs, and we all know a drunk does not feel anything.

As several animal scientists have told me, the ignorance of simple biology needed to make these statements is overwhelming.

Here's a primer on science and right-wing Orthodoxy, courtesy of Da'as Hedyot.

As you read this post please remember that in rabbinic eyes, animals walking three minutes after shechita are insensate, do not feel and may very well already be dead.

January 19, 2005

The Forward Reports On Book-Banning

Steven I. Weiss has written a piece for the Forward on the Slifkin book-banning. Strangely, he fails to mention the blogs – Chakira, House of Hock, and Hirhurim prominent among them – who broke this story and have done much of the reporting that SIW (the founder of the now-shuttered Protocols blog) heavily relies on for his report.

To understand the development of this ban, see here and here.

The OU On Slifkin-gate

The  OU's Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb on Slifkin-gate.

January 18, 2005

The Real History Behind The Ban

Luke Ford has an amazing post on Slifkin-gate, essentially a long e-mail from Rabbi Ari Kahn, formerly of Aish HaTorah, now director of the overseas students program at Bar Illan University.

Rabbi Kahn hired Dr. Schroeder to lecture in Aleynu,the Aish outreach program. He describes the process of that hire – and the subsequent Din Torah – this way:

Continue reading "The Real History Behind The Ban" »


Rabbi Yaakov Menken's Torah.org has not intentionally removed Rabbi Slifkin's and Dr. Schroeder's articles from its website.

It appears that the Torah.org search engine does not index features, although it indexes other parts of the site. (Nowhere on Torah.org is this made clear.)

I apologize for any misrepresentation or inconvenience my reporting error may have caused.

Rabbi Menken owns and manages Team Genesis, a webhosting and design firm that does the design and hosting for Torah.org. It should not be difficult for Torah.org to have this apparent technical glitch repaired so its readers can correctly search its site.

Again, I apologize for my mistake.

January 17, 2005

What Else Is Missing From Torah.org?

What else is missing from Torah.org?

  1. Age of the universe.
  2. Billions of years.
  3. Science of Torah.
  4. Science and Torah.

Please see retraction

BREAKING! Torah.org: More Slifkin Censorship – This Time Dr. Gerald Schroeder

Torah.org has also banned all of Dr. Gerald (Genesis And The Big Bang) Schroeder's articles (except for one article they missed that mentions him) from its website, just as they have done with all of Rabbi Nosson Slifkin's work. (Please see the post immediately below this.)

Here is Google's list of the missing articles.

Please see retaction

BREAKING! Torah.org – More Slifkin Censorship?

Rabbi Yaakov Menken's Torah.org has apparently banned all of Rabbi Nosson Slifkin's work from its website.

(Here are the now-censored articles as found on Google.)

The censorship continues.

Please see retraction

The Prophet Of YU?

Chakira has written an insightful post about Slifkin-gate. Most importantly, though, Chakira notes that he was on to the Slifkin book-banning one year ago.

Have we a new prophet at YU?

January 16, 2005

A Few Thoughts On Monkey-gate – Why Was Rabbi Slifkin Banned?

Why were Rabbi Slifkin and his books banned by a large number of Haredi rabbinic leaders?

Rabbi Slifkin's 'crime' seems to be that he takes science seriously. The 'Gedolim' (great rabbinic leaders) involved in the ban do not and find it an affront to the "Honor of the Torah" that any Orthodox Jew would and would publish a work stating so – hence the ban.

Two main questions swirl around this tragic case:

  1. Did the 'Gedolim' agree to hear R. Slifkin or did they refuse?
  2. Did a Beit Din  (religious court) hear the case?

We may never know the truth about the first question, but the answer to the second is resoundingly clear – no Beit Din heard the case.

When you see the statements that got R. Slifkin banned, and you see those very same statements were made by Gedolim of previous generations – from R. Hirsch to R. Yitzhak mi Akko, from the Tiferet Yisrael to the RAMBAN and RAMBAM – it is very difficult to argue that the benefit of the doubt in this case should go solely (or even partially) to the 'Gedolim' who issued the ban.

The facts seem to be uniformly on R. Slifkin's side.

Unfortunately, in today's version of Orthodox Judaism, the facts do not matter.

Rise Of Orthodox Fundamentalism

Da'as Hedyot has a great post on history of the rise of Orthodox fundamentalism in light of the banning of Rabbi Slifkin's books.

How Long Will This One Last?

Here's another article Aish.com may soon ban. (If it's not found on the Aish.com website, you can read it here after the jump.)

Continue reading "How Long Will This One Last? " »

Dr. Gerald Schroeder Banned?

Aish.com has removed all but one of Dr. Gerald Schroeder's articles.


In response to the latest Haredi book-banning / excommunication Aish.com, the highly successful and widely read website of Aish HaTorah, has pulled a number of articles by various authors from its site for "review" by "today's leading [ultra-Orthodox] Torah scholars."

In the spirit of free inquiry, we print one of those now-banned articles in its entirety after the jump.

Continue reading "Banned" »

January 14, 2005

Rabbi Slifkin's Books Banned

Many of you already know that Rabbi Nosson Slifkin's books have been banned by a list of rabbis that includes Dovid Feinstein and Yosef Shalom Elyashiv. Rabbi Slifkin's 'crime' seems to be his argument for the earth being more than 6,000 years old.

You can read about the ban here.

See the best satire on this (if I don't say so myself!) here.