Jerusalem – Rabbi Slifikin: A Community Growing With Dissatisfaction Due To Rabbi Bans, Charedi Zealots


    Rabbi Natan Slifkin, a prominent educator and author. In 2005 Slifkin made headlines when several prominent Charedi Orthodox leaders banned his books, calling them works of heresy. In a Jerusalem Post OpEd Slifkin argues as a result, of Charedi bans, many people in haredi society have grown dissatisfied, and are forced out by dissatisfaction with the narrow boundaries of haredi thought.Jerusalem – Seven years ago, three of my books were banned by three dozen leading rabbis from the haredi rabbinic establishment in Israel and the US. This was due to my Maimonidean approach to resolving conflicts between Torah and science – that the account of creation is not to be interpreted literally, and that the sages of Talmud were mistaken in some of their statements regarding the natural world. While I sympathized with the concerns of these rabbinic leaders about the effects that such an approach could have for some members of their communities with simple faith, I could not accept the charge that the fundamental approach was heretical. It became clear to me that in my line of work, I could not continue to lead my life in the haredi community.

    But I was not (at the time) ready to define myself as modern Orthodox or religious Zionist. So when people asked me what I was, I replied with what I thought was an original response: If people who are disillusioned with Zionism are called “post-Zionists,” and people who are disillusioned with Judaism are called “post-religious,” then someone who is disillusioned with Haredism is “post-haredi.”

    To my surprise, my “original” phrase had been used before. The label “post-haredi” (in Hebrew, haredi leshe’avar, abbreviated as harla”sh) is used by many people. Yet this group is little-known and little-understood.

    Post-haredim are not to be confused with the Orthoprax Jews described in a recent Jerusalem Post Magazine article (“Haredi against their will,” October 14). Whereas Orthoprax Jews lack belief in the fundamentals of Judaism, postharedim do not (necessarily) suffer from any such lack of belief.

    Instead, they are regular Orthodox Jews who no longer subscribe to haredi ideology. Some post-haredim remain in the haredi community, either due to inertia or due to their valuing their social ties and community.

    Others secede, changing their manner of dress and moving into different social and cultural frameworks.

    There is no clear line between more moderate haredim (such as many Anglo-haredim) and post-haredim; in Betar and Beit Shemesh, the revolutionary Tov political party rejects the haredi system of rabbinic authority, and is supported by a spectrum of people ranging from moderate haredi to post-haredi.

    What is it that causes post-haredim to reject the haredi ideology? The answer to this question is best understood by analyzing how the haredi approach to Judaism developed.

    Contrary to popular belief, neither Moses nor Maimonides was haredi. Haredi Judaism developed from Orthodox Judaism, which itself differed in small but significant ways from the traditional Judaism that preceded it.

    Orthodox Judaism, as the term is used in the academic study of Jewish history (as opposed to in the colloquial sense of “observant”), arose in the 19th century as a response to the challenges of the Enlightenment and emancipation, and particularly in response to the assault upon traditional Judaism led by the Reform Movement. In the face of systematic and sweeping deviation from traditional beliefs and practices, traditionalists found it necessary to separate themselves into a distinct sub-community within the Jewish people and to develop a more conservative approach to Judaism in general.

    Originally there were a variety of streams of Orthodoxy in Europe, but over time, extreme forms of ultra-Orthodoxy began to overwhelm the other approaches. In the face of the novel phenomenon of Jews organizing themselves politically (such as with the Zionist movement) and the new personal autonomy offered by the modern period, Orthodox Jews created organizations such as Agudath Israel that began to dramatically recast traditional models of rabbinic authority into their modern manifestations.

    THE PROCESS whereby Orthodoxy became ever more withdrawn from the modern world was further assisted after the destruction of European Jewry in the Holocaust and the subsequent re-creation of Jewish communities in Israel and the US, when the structure of the Orthodox community changed. Instead of the synagogue being the focus of religious life and the community rabbi being the main rabbinic authority, the ivory tower of the yeshiva took center stage, and the heads of the yeshivot gradually assumed the reins of rabbinic authority.

    Furthermore, with the increasing laxity and encroachment of modernity, the conservatism of Orthodoxy accelerated to an unprecedented degree. As contemporary culture became ever more antithetical to religious values and became harder and harder to keep out of the home, haredi Judaism responded by building ever higher walls in an attempt to keep it out.

    The resultant problems are well-known to all observers of haredi society. The system of mass open-ended kollels, originally created to recover the losses of the Holocaust, has long since exceeded its original goals and is ultimately unsustainable.

    Increasingly, the extreme conservatism of haredi society results in intellectual and social mores that are often excessive in their restrictions.

    When rabbinic authority is vested in yeshiva deans who are isolated from wider society (and often “handled” by various assistants), abuses of rabbinic power are inevitable. And a siege mentality has developed in which any criticism of haredi society, even coming from the inside, is to be fought or silenced.

    As a result, many people in haredi society – including both those born into that society and those who joined in a spirit of youthful idealism – have grown dissatisfied. Some, myself included, were forced out by dissatisfaction with the narrow boundaries of haredi thought, which stands in sharp contrast to significant classical schools of thought within Judaism. For others, it was dissatisfaction with various aspects of haredi society including its relative indifference to wider national issues of the economy and national security, heavy social pressures regarding even non-halachic lifestyle aspects and the application of rabbinic authority.

    Ironically the post-haredi movement is occurring at a time when the haredi world itself is undergoing a process of reversal from its previous excesses. Many more haredim are entering the work force, and there is even a haredi division in the army. The Internet is radically changing the dynamics of discourse and free speech in the haredi world despite rabbinic attempts to restrict or even ban it.

    Weekly magazines such as Mishpacha feature positive profiles of non-haredi figures and delicately air a variety of criticisms of haredi policies, despite the shrill protests of “establishment” publications such as Yated Ne’eman.

    But for post-haredim, it’s too little, too late.

    The writer is the author of a variety of works on the relationship between Judaism, zoology and the natural sciences. His website is, and he blogs at

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    1. I am a great admirer of rabbi of Rabbi Slifkin. He is a great talmud chahcham and a scientist par excellence. How ever I disagree with his characterization of orthodox Judaism as a rational religion .
      We are nation built on miracles, who believes in the supremacy of prayer and in a plan behind every minute occurrence. From the splitting of the seas through Eliyahu on Mt Carmel; from the sacrifice of Issac through the through the burning of the menora for 8 days when there was only enough oil for one day. We believe in miracles over science in prayer over reason and in fate over chance.
      Many scientist have struggled with the issues Slifkin struggles with namely, science and Torah, yet no one comes to the conclusion that Judaism must be approached from a rational perspective. There is science and there is religion, Those who compromise religion in the name of science are no worse than those who comprise science in the name of religion.

      • Well said. However, everyone needs to accept that we do not know everything about Torah and we do not know everything about science. Things that we see as contradictory are only so because of our lack of understanding, not because they are.

        It is OK to accept that our beliefs could be wrong on the details in some areas. Torah really does allow for it by giving us a process for finding the BEST answer in the time and place it is decided… which may or may not be the RIGHT answer. That is part of the beauty of Torah. We consistently see times where science proves something we learn in Torah. So why can’t the opposite occur? Even our concept of death has been challenged in the last few decades, and rightfully so.

        We should never close our minds to science, in fact, we should look to proven science (not necessarily theories) to ENHANCE our understanding of Torah. That was the approach of the Rambam, the Chofetz Chaim and other gedolim of the past. The only thing that holds us back is fear of realizing that we may have been wrong about something. It is OK if we were. H” didn’t ask us to be all-knowing… but He gave us the power to use what we have in the best ways possible.

        • Once again PMOinFL…. you have outdone yourself with your post! (lol)

          I couldn’t have said it better myself! (:-D

          When my husband & I were in Christianity.,. there were SO MANY questions about science, creation, reality, the “illusion” of reality, etc. And nobody could ever answer us w\a RATIONAL explanation!

          “Oh, the L-rd works in mysterious ways” they’d say, or they’d expect us to accept nonsense, such as the idea that the Universe was created in LITERALLY six, 24-hr days, because “that’s what the Bible says”, and…. I guess that was good enough for them?!?! (lol) I mean, it doesn’t even make sense, and it’s one thing to teach a CHILD that nonsense… but to expect ADULTS to accept it?!?! Come on!

          Anyway, I think we don’t have all the answers, but as far as I’m concerned…. so far, the wisdom of the Torah & the Sages of the Talmud are the CLOSEST to scientific Truth *within* a religious framework, that I have ever seen, and it’s just one of the many reasons my husband & I cling to those works…. and accept nothing else beyond it. (ie: New Testament, etc)

          But again… we don’t know everything! We’re still learning! (:-D

          • There are authentic opinions that the world was created in literally six 24 hour days. Time is not constant but dependent on certain things such as gravity and the expansion of the universe. Gerald Schroeder wrote an interesting book called The Science of God which tries to unify 15 billion years with 6 days.

            • Dear Mr. Bar Daniel,

              Thanks for commenting! I have seen Gerald Schroeder’s explanations for how it looks as though it was only six, 24-hour days to G-d… but to us humans (because we are so small)… it appears as billions of years to US. It was very interesting indeed! And I think BOTH rationals can be correct!

              But to accept six, 24-hr days and nothing else… seems a bit infantile to me. *shrug*

              But perhaps you can lead me to other sources where people comment about the topic? It is very interesting to me!

              Thank you sir! (:-D

            • Exactly, *everything* in creation has a duality. One aspect is concept & one aspect is perception. (The Talmud has many cases of discussion between Beit Hillel & Beit Shammai and the underlying root of the discussion always is Beit Hillel’s path is perception & Beit Shammai’s path is concept).
              Without a doubt the description of creation cannot be understood literally. For starters the Sun was created on the 4th day. How exactly can you have days without the sun?
              The important thing to remember is that both aspects are 100% correct.
              Regarding sources, I’m not really aware of anything in English (although it’s starting to become more popular), if you can read the original hebrew, Midrash Bereishit Rabba with an open mind is a good place to start.
              Good luck 🙂

            • Schroeder’s books are really good of course. Another book I randomly picked up that was awesome was: In the Beginning: Biblical Creation and Science by Nathan Aviezer. He basically goes through each day of creation, bringing the pasuk, and then discusses how contemporary science corroborates that. Best of luck!

      • Nothing against Rabbi Sliflkin, but he’s not exactly a ” scientist par excellence”- I have a bachelors degree in biology, and therefore have more formal scientific training than him 🙂

        • I would like to believe that you don’t equate “formal training” with knowledge. I myself am a college grad and I readily admit that there are laypeople that are far more knowledgeable than I am. I would also imagine that he knows a great deal more than most as he has devoted his life’s efforts to examining the theories and issues he writes about.

      • The Rambam in Morah Nevuchim says that any time we have a stirah between science and Torah, our understanding of one or the other is flawed. He also says that as there was no Mesorah MiSinai about scientific matters, Chazal can be wrong about those matters.

        These opinions were controversial in the Rambam’s times, and many later Rishonim argued with him, while many agreed with him.

        • Your correct, this is why i keep on saying most commentators here are very not educated in facts and history.. all they know is one slogan which is called Dass Torah.. what exactly it means they don’t even know.. to them their Rav is Daas Torah and anyone who disagrees with him is an Apikoras..

      • Miracles are NOT good. The lesson of Purim was that HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s greatest Prescence is in the ‘natural’. The gemara speaks many times how miracles are bad. They were necessary for the newly born nation of Yisrael as they left Egypt but not for us now. אין סומכין על הנס

      • As an admirer of Rabbi Slifkin, you ought to know that the division between rationale and believe that you state so unequivocally is not so clear after all.
        Take Ramban for example from last week’s parasha about the rainbow. He states clearly that he (the Ramban) is “forced” to believe the Greek’s scientific understanding of the rainbow’s evolution (as in development, not as in the theory!) and therefore interprets the psukim accordingly. He goes as far as saying that with the new-found scientific knowledge about how the rainbow occurs the psukim are actually better understood.
        I can sight you countless more examples where the Rishonim placed great emphasis to bring the ‘rational’ to co-exist with the Torah and vise versa, but this is just from last week.

    2. As a person, that owes my Yiddishkiet and beliefs to Rabbi Slifkin, I would like to say, His books may not be for everyone, but for those of us that went through the BY/Yeshiva system and still came out with so many questions, he work is fantastic. They are stimulating and as close to complete as you can get. His books are the ones that I reach for when I need some spiritual rejuvination and intellectual stimulation!

    3. I’m someone who grew up black hat chareidi – and though still frum – I hate the chareidi culture of knee jerk anti-rationalism, hypocrisy and utter ridiculousness. I’ve got a lot of respect for Rabbi Slifkin.

    4. the big problem some have with him is that he is willing to admit that some previous robonum where simply wrong when it came to science in certain case

      and some either cannot handle that or want to admit it

      one example he bring that the Talmud says that wolves have venom in their claws which we know to day is false. (halacha aspect if a cow was clawed by wolves but otherwise healthy)

      are we to say simple that all the evidence we have today is wrong and the robonum are right and wolves do do have venom in their claws? Or do we say if they said it it is true no matter what todays science proves?

      • There is a gemarah that discusses a case where if two cows, one of them pregnant, stand back to back with each other and the fetus jumps from one uterus to the other, to which cow does the calf belong to. For over a thousand years people assumed this gemarah was ridiculous….. But wait, science created surrogacy….the gemarah wasn’t so stupid after all.

        There will come a time when venomous claws in wolves will be applicable to our lives.

      • #10 – “are we to say simple that all the evidence we have today is wrong and the robonum are right and wolves do do have venom in their claws? Or do we say if they said it it is true no matter what todays science proves? ”

        I am not familiar with this Gemorah, however I am positive (not even the slightest doubt!) that there is an answer. I am sure that if a wolf does not have venom in its claw then the Gemorah means something else.

        How did the Gemorah know so much about science (i.e. astronomy geometry, etc.) Men shtarbt nisht funa ksha!!

        Pushut! Pushut!!

        • “How did the Gemorah know so much about science (i.e. astronomy)”

          What do you mean? In Pesochim, daf 94b, Rebbi says mefurosh that the non-Jewish astronomers were correct and the Chachmei Yisroel incorrect about where the sun goes at night. Rabbeinu Tam and many Achronim learn differently, but the majority of Rishonim and many other Achronim learn the Gmara k’pshuto. Rabbeinu Avrohom and Rav Hirsch bring the Gemara to show that Chazal themselves acknowledged that their scientific knowledge was sometimes lacking.

          • You are raising an interesting point. However, where we do not have Reshonim or Achronim writing that by specific Gemorahs, we can not on our own apply that concept – that the Cahcahmim were wrong c”v – to that specific Gemorah.

            • First of all, R. Slifkin quoted Rishonim and Acharonim in each case where he applied it. But why can’t we apply it elsewhere? We are entitled to follow their derech. Rav Hirsch says that it is the first thing that should be taught to students, and that they should apply it as necessary.

    5. I find this article very much in line with my thoughts. While I live and raise my family in the chareidi environment I find myself identifying more with what I would call a post- chareidi mentality. I’m not sure if it’s because the chareidi yeshivas I went to didn’t sell me “the goods” or because I’m tired of all the mishugas that comes with the chareidi community. The charedi community fights tooth and nail against any outside thoughts. This is also a problem for someone considering living in E”Y. If you don’t identify with the ultra-chareidim and you don’t belong to the mizrachistim, where do you go? I guess this is why we need Moshiach so very badly.

    6. Many of the criticsms that he writes about have all or some truth to them. HaShem made all of us different and any time you have many people trying to live by the same derech you will have problems. That being said, Rabbi Slifkin’s disrespect and ignoring of Gedolei Yisroel (that is what comes out from the article)puts him on a very thin line. Our Mesorah is that we listen to the Gedolim of our generation for leadership and to ignore all of them and take your own show on the road is too much. You can identify with chareidi culture but still have your own rebbe and derech which is right for you. Without a Rebbe (either Chassid or Misnaged) you are falling into a dangerous pit. When you can’t find a Rebbe to follow, whether from the Chassidim, Misnagdim, Yeshivish, YU, etc. you are saying that you know better than any gadol. I find that hard to believe.

    7. There is a significant oversight that begs discussion, perhaps even serving as an integral focal point.

      Regardless of the contradictions and logical problems with the Torah that may present itself through the empirical nature of science a Torah Jew does not worry . We are comfortably assured in the absolute truth of the Torah and are not bothered. We understand clearly that what science presented as fact years ago and seemed logically sound and indisputable have since been proven inaccurate and inconceivable. As such science is time dependant and valuable and must be been in that context.

      Therefore the absolute truth and nature of all things can only be clearly ascertained by consulting the source;The Torah. It is also indisputable that our Gedoilom are the most accurate representations of the Torah and its logic. This ability for the Gedoikim to weigh complex issues and to place the proper value to any given variable is due to their selfless non stop devotion to the principles of the Torah,to its laws and to avoiding even excessively all negative and improper interactions. iI think it would be safe to say that our Gedoilim represent all Chareidim and in terms of inflexible Torah mentality and severe attainment of the modern world they are at the forefront. Although we are not all on that level anyone who does acknowledge the Gedoilim and their stature acknowledges that their way is holy, pure and moat desirable.

      This entire article is therefore biased and negative propaganda against the Gedoikim and their philosophies. Purity is painted as close mindedness by one who has no ability to judge and admits his biased nature. When a teenager goes off the direct because of a bad experience we try to bring him back but clearly do not give credence to his hateful comments.

      Even more important and central is the authors admission that these very gedoilim believed his hypothesis and religious model were kfeerah. Clearly the Gedoilim are most able to determine the boundaries of kefeerah according to the Torah and have the ability to explain their true logic to any and all who are receptive to the Torah and its leaders. The very fact that Rabbi slifkin did not discuss his creative ideas and brilliant approach with the gedoilim beforehand shows at the very least that his downfall was of his own doing. After the dozens of Gedoilim who agreed that his approach is against halacha and Torah approach he blatantly disregards their opinion and would rather follow his own version of logic. He chose logic over Daas Torah.

      I am aware of the numerous halachik issues that were brought to bear on the issue of his ideas and their kefira and they are complex and beyond the rubric of this comment however suffice it to say that rabbi lookin chose to follow opinions that our sages do not paskin like…

      The michtav eliyahi , rabbi dessler explain.s very clearly that because god hides his face and works in ponderous hidden way , logic will not always lead us correctly and nay even blind us. He explains this as the rational for the genorroh that requires is to follow our sages when they say black is white and vice versa although our eyes clearly state otherwise. He ties this in brilliantly to purim and to mordechai and haman.

      What is clear from his lecture is that Daas Torah must always be followed and that logic plays no role. Clearly Rabbi slinking does not abide to this philosophy and it is therefore his erroneous belied system that has stimulated this entire discussion and his opinions. They are therefore blemished and inaccurate and are the sad testimony of the destructive nature of the damaged spirit.

      May we all find the strength to follow the Torah and not our hearts.

      • Just because science appears to contradict your version of Torah doesn’t mean that science or Torah is wrong. It means we do not understand how to reconcile the 2 YET!
        Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean it is wrong. Gedolai Yisrael appear to be representatives of Torah. But they are not the Torah.
        You are the biased one and your knowledge of both science and Torah is not as well based as Rabbi Slifikin(without your childish play on his name which says it all about you)

      • It’s so sad that your comments – while being a lukewarm illustration of one side of the argument – resort to pedantic name-calling. Few have respect for that sort of thing, and it casts a shadow over what you have to say. I would suggest you be a bit more mature and then perhaps you’d be taken seriously.

      • I would add to the above that the ban on his books had a very positive effect, in drawing out his negative opinion of the gedoilim. In fact, he appears to contend that there are no gedoilim competant to judge, although he clearly considers himself competent, at least in the field he has chosen to study. I cannot judge his expertise in science, but his lack of Torah values shows through in every line of his article, no matter how much he tries to hang himself on to the Rambam (like his predecessors, the maskilim). The fact that he has distanced himself from the haredi cmmunity speaks volumes, not of his intellectualy integrity but of his pompous opinion of himself and his intellectual prowess. If he reminds me of anyone, I would say Spinoza is the closest.

    8. Thank you for posting this.

      R’ Slifkin’s characterization of Charedi Judaism is accurate, important and should be analyzed and discussed.

      In my opinion, Charedism’s time has come. It’s time to move on…

    9. A thought-provoking essay, from someone whose works were condemned without his being given the opportunity to meet with the rabbis who apparently heard only one side of the issue. It is unfortunate that he was not given this chance, and he is probably understandably bitter.

      • There is a much more serious issue at hand. The Torah orders (Devarim 4:16) that to judge you must hear from both sides. This clearly wasn’t done is his case.

    10. Great article… words from his heart straight to mine. You will note that many of the Rabbonim who jumped on the bandwagon to sign the ban in which was written “we have read his books….” don’t even speak English, and could not possibly have read his books at all. Ahhh…. the “askonim”

    11. Thank u LMSW #18 very wise words! Its a shame reading these negetive comments on das torah! The ones that cant deal with the chariedim r the narow minded
      QUOTE “a jew isnt perfect but judism is perfect”

      • Judaism may be perfect, but unfortunately many Charedi ideals are not in line with the Torah. Where was “שמע בין אחיכם” when they ruled against R Slifkin? Where are mitzvos such as ואהבת לרעך כמך when a yeshiva kicks out boys for having a driving licence?

    12. Not a single commentator here has read Slifkin’s book.. I did read it, and i was not able to find any Apikurses in it, more than a Rambam and other great Jewish philosophers who existed in the the Jewish community in the past 1000 years.

      If any one reads the books of ‘Ramchal’ or ‘Chova Halvoves’ Shaar Habitochen, Morah Nevochim, Yaavetz, would agree with me.

      There is no question this ban was orchestrated by a few Meshgayim, like all bans, and the rabbis say Amen, Amen, Kodosh.

      Remember the ‘Rambams’ Seforim and the Yaavetz’ were also burned.

      • There’s one major difference here,The Rambam didn’t call himself “Post-chareidi”. In fact the Ramabam is probably turning over in his grave as you compare him to Rabbi Slifkin.

        I believe the Rambam was as wise a man as Rabbi slifkin and a better sceientist too but he would never question divrei chazal even if they seemed perplexing.

        • False, the Rambam very clearly says in Morah Nevuchim (ask your rabbi if you doubt it) that scientists can be wrong about science as the mesorah misinai didn’t include scientific matters- its a Machlokes Rishonim

          • The Baal shem tov also sometimes did contrary to what we saw in divrei chazal . So what ? Can we compare this guy to the Rambam or Baal shem tov ? Do u know on what level of wisdom and kedusha one must be to question chazal ?

            A guy who calls himself post chareidi isn’t on my list of kedoshim and tehorim…

            • It’s not a matter of comparing R. Slifkin to Rambam. The point is whether it is legitimate to QUOTE the position of Rambam, Rav Hirsch and many others that Chazal’s statements about the natural world were based on the beliefs of that period.

              For example, Daf Yomi this week discussed a mouse that grows from dirt. R. Slifkin quoted Rav Hirsch that there is no such creature and Chazal were following the mistaken beliefs of their period. This is what many Charedi Gedolim deemed kefirah.

              You don’t need to be on any particular level of wisdom or kedushah to observe that there is no such thing as a mouse that grows from dirt. Or to quote Rav Hirsch saying it.

            • Briskerrav Says:A guy who calls himself post chareidi isn’t on my list of kedoshim and tehorim… ”
              A moron who calls himself the Brisker Rav isn’t on my list, either.

        • It boggles the mind that there are people here saying that Rambam would never question divrei chazal. Rambam says EXPLICITLY in the Moreh that Chazal had no mesorah in scientific matters and were therefore sometimes mistaken. (and he implicitly argues with Chazal in the Yad too, regarding sheidim and other things.) Furthermore Rambam’s view on this was shared by many, many other Rishonim and Acharonim, and is followed by many Rabbonim today, both inside and outside the Charedi velt.

        • Why is that a difference? In the Rambam’s time there weren’t any Chareidim. They were just Jews who trusted the mesora instead of creating chumras that made it so they couldn’t eat in the Rambam’s house.

          And if you think he never questioned divrei Chazal, you’ve never learned the Rambam before.

        • “Yes there are issues in the Chareidi world but to disregard all authority doesn’t help.Who does he turn to when he has a shailiah?”

          Do you really think that there are no Torah authorities outside of the chareidi world?!

        • I guess that the main reason that the RAMBAM didn’t call himself “post-chareidi” is that chareidim did not exist until modern times. As for the RAMBAM never questioning divrei Chazal, what are you talking about? He did it often but, of course, he was a Rishon and they could do that.

        • And you call yourself Brikerrav? For starters the Rambam always questions Agadah that is quoted by Chazal. The difference is that Aggodah can be questioned but Halacha in the Gemarah cannot. I would suggest you open up a Gemorah Brochos and look in he back where the Meforshim are and learn Rav Shmuel HaNagid (Mevo HaTalmud) on Aggadah… and then I’d be happy to discuss further.

    13. Rabbi Slifkin stands taller in Torah knowledge than most of the Rabbis who signed the ban against him..

      He has the same Daas Torah like any of the Rabbis who signed against him..

      • You can agree with Rabbi Slifkin or not, you can like Rabbi Slifkin or not but to say that he “stands taller in Torah knowledge” that the Posek HaDor Rav Eliashiv Shlita is absurd nonsense.

        • Posek HaDor? Except for the YU crowd, the dati leumi, the chassidish, or even quite a number of rabbonim in his own charedi litvish sector of society who don’t rely on him. I guess Dor has a totally new meaning today that I’m unfamiliar with.

          In reality there is no posek hador, just poskim for different kehillas, and R’ Slifkin is not a part of R’ Eliyashev’s kehilla.

      • Calling oneself “post-charedi” doesn’t come from daas torah.It comes from wathching too much “famliy guy,or the simpsons”…

        In my humble opionion…

    14. #10 your statement prooves as mentioned many time your kfireh.many seforim mention the fact that wolves have poison on thier claws as a matter of fact the shlo hakadosh brings such incident that happened . #32 first 2 lines goes to you to. and where do you take YOUR facts or history? from another human being and why is that boser vedom so reliable,huh?

      • I would guess that Chazal said that wolves’ claws had venom because cows died from seemingly superficial wounds following wolf attacks. This was probably due to the tendency of these wounds to get infected (by bacteria or wtvr) for whatever reason. One could claim that Chazal knew about pathogens and just referred to it by ‘venom; which people understood. The other (Slifkinian) approach would be that Chazal didn’t know about these microogranisms as they weren’t discovered by secular scientists for another 1500 years or so.

        • The other (Slifkinian) approach would be that Chazal didn’t know about these microogranisms as they weren’t discovered by secular scientists for another 1500 years or so.

          yes and this is why he is called a kofer by some

      • favish Says: Says:

        yes they saw infections that what it is called and they get from from the dirt that accumulates under the claw and bacteria

        that is no venom

        BTY you just called the rambaam a kofer science he also said when it comes to science they could be wrong.

        when one looks at what chazel says about the natural science one would simply see they where quoting things that where believed at that time by scientist and or the medical field.

        in addition they based their halacha ruling according to that.

        They where not that arrogant and simple minded as many today and throw out scientific facts

        the Talmud never says well science say this but we know differently or they never said we know science said this but we have mesara that it is not so.

        if they did show me please

      • BS”D

        The “venom” mention by CHAZAL is a collection of putrid meat on the claws or between the teeth of predators that infects clawed or bitten victims. Many animals that are mauled by predators but escape immediate death die later from the infections caused by the infected claws or teeth of their attackers. This is also why a human bite is so dangerous and can lead to terrible infections,

        Shalom Al Yisroel, yg

    15. “When rabbinic authority is vested in yeshiva deans who are isolated from wider society (and often “handled” by various assistants), abuses of rabbinic power are inevitable.

      dont know him or his books but he apparently thinks “yeshiva deans” are too dumb to understand wider society and too weak to be independent of their “handlers” (hard to believe he can publish a statement like that. apparently hes the only one that gets it)

      many of the “deans” that i have met are quite worldly and shrewd as well as great scholars and sincere humanists (who are also human and have been known to make some mistakes like the rest of us, i might add). i do think that there are plenty of real bums and small minded people that walk around wearing the black and assuming the mantle of leadership that ought not to and really cause major chilul Hashem. Not that i am a great fan of chareidi society myself but i feel comfortable being part of the community while accepting our shortcomings and keeping an open mind. people need to be anchored in life or the risk of being majorly off on something is very great. i haven’t been put in cherem (yet) so maybe i shouldn’t judge

    16. unfortunately it seems that this rabbi has more understanding than the charadim will permit. A realization that “the way we lived for two thousand years is good enough” philosophy does not work if a person actually thinks or sees beyond the box.
      It maybe take much time before the charadim realize this, but remember that the Rambam and the Ramchal were not accepted in their times either. PS, the Baal HaMeor did like like the Rif’s views on everything either!

    17. Anyone who calls himself the “Zoo Rabbi” sums up everything .Yes there are issues in the Chareidi world but to disregard all authority doesn’t help.Who does he turn to when he has a shailiah?
      The monkeys?

    18. I’ve read two of his books and a couple of his monographs. They are interesting and thought provoking and seem to be honest, from-the-heart attempts by an intelligent man to reconcile the realities of the world with the demands of faith.

      It is not easy. Better men and women than anyone here have broken themselves on those rocks. I have serious doubts about his ultimate success which I have discussed with him. There are fundamental philosophical differences between a scientific approach and revealed religion which may not be reconcilable. He is to be praised for making the attempt.

    19. Slifkin has left Klal Yisroel with a choice: either a blind belief in Chazal, or a blind belief in the science of the minute in which you happen to be standing. Of course, the next minute, the blind absolute belief must change because the scientists have changed their minds. Everyone has a choice.
      The Rambam’s views on science were strongly Aristotlean. There is no discipline of science today that is even remotely connected to Aristotle’s ideas on science. The Rambam scientifically believed in spontaneous generation and derided the non-believers as scientific ignoramouses. Slifkin has less connection to the Rambam than he has to T. Rex.

      • What a black/white view of reality!
        We can have (and should have) Emunas Chachamim in that the Torah they teach us is true and the direction they guide us is what HaKadosh Baruch Hu wants of us. If their view of science doesn’t match with modern science why should that have any bearing on following Chazal?
        Sof Davar hakol nishma et HaElokim yira ve’et mizvotav shmor ki ze kol ha’adam

      • Your line of reasoning doesn’t follow to your conclusion, but it’s confusing enough to convince more simple folk. And specifically, what are you saying about the Rambam ? Spit it out, sailor !

    20. Rabbi Slifkin is soooooooo on target! The current Yeshiva/Chareidi/Chasidish system is so miserably falling on its face, its only real torah and real connection with Hashem without all the conditioning and bans that will get us closer to Moshiach, Hashem is given us a brain to use, not to put away on the shelf of society and let it rod there, because “That’s how its done” or “no questions asked” Judaism has answers for ALL questions, and there’s never a valid reason to prevent someone from asking or searching for the truth.

    21. There is no use in reconciling science and Torah, it only serves the foolish to try and attempt it. Rabbi Miller Z”l was highly adept at debunking the anti-Torah science establishment with the best information they held at the time. Now that science has changed so much, we need someone else of that caliber to debunk the current positions that science takes in order to attack the Torah. Science always changes, the Torah does not.

    22. This article is very self-serving and largely irrelevant. The vast majority of frum yidden are doing fine, thank you, without suffering from the lack of ability to know for certain which is the arneves and which is the shafan, or how to sort out the difference between bereishis and darwin. Someone I know asked Rav Soloveitchik (hardly a right-wing chunyuk) whether he was botheeres by the apparent contradiction between the Torah and science, and he said, sure, and I’m also bothered by the apparent contradiction between Newtonian physics and quantum mechanics, etc, but so what–Torah is what it is and thats what we believe in, and science is what it is and someday someone will figure it out, but it doesnt affect us as yidden.

      Also, what is Slifkin talking about when he says that he’s using the “Maimonidean” approach–as if the gedolim who disagree with him are all arguing on the Rambam, and if the Rambam were alive today he would surely agree with Slifkin? Come on. And the rabbis are telling us what to do? Please. We’re asking for their daas torah on a hashkafic matter, and they’re telling us. Now he’s upset that they gave their opinion, since it’s vociferously opposed to his?

      • “as if the gedolim who disagree with him are all arguing on the Rambam”

        Sure they are. Rav Elyashiv explicitly said that he was arguing on the Rambam and all the other sources that R. Slifkin quoted – in Rav Elyashiv’s words, “They can say it, we cannot.” It’s in Rav Aharon Feldman’s book, “Eye of the Storm.”

      • The idea that Chazal shared the mistaken beliefs of others in the ancient world about various scientific matters is not R. Slifkin’s chiddush. It is found in the writings of Rav Sherira Gaon, Rambam, Rabbeinu Avraham, Rabbeinu Yerucham, Akeidas Yitzchok, Maharam Schick, Rav Yitzchok Lampronti, Rav Hirsch, Rav Dessler, and countless dozens of others. The Gedolim of the Charedi world maintain that this approach is nevertheless forbidden to be taught today. Other Gedolim and Rabbonim feel differently.

    23. So you either don’t want to try to understand science or you don’t want to try to understand Torah or both. Rambam says the way to come to love and fear HaKadosh Baruch Hu is by observing and analysing nature. Without this we cannot fulfil these fundamental mitzvos.
      As our science and Torah grows, each one will help us to understand the other until we reach the stage of ki mala haaretz de’ah…
      R Miller tried to prove that evolution is impossible as it denies God and gives many examples to show how it cannot happen by itself. What is becomming more and more accepted is that evolution may have been the process used by God. This is very clear from the pesukim in chapter 1 of Bereshis such as let the earth bring forth living creatures etc. Ramban 1:26 brings Bereshis Raba saying nefesh chaya zu rucho shel adam harishon and many more places like this.

    24. Is this guy a joke? Scientist are constantly disproving scientific theories and facts that were thought to be truth up to today. Many Physicists believe that the path light travels in our universe is curvy/wavy, and are already saying that the shortest distance between two points is not a straight line anymore. They admit they don’t even have a clue yet as to what is the shortest distance between 2 points. And this shmendrick says chazal was wrong because they didn’t know our modern day science. Scientist are now seriously doubting the absolute of Einstein’s theory of relativity based upon research conducted in modern day particle accelerators. I can go on about this all day, point being– did it ever even enter this guys mind that chazal might be correct and our measly brains just don’t know? The smartest modern day scientist admit they just aren’t sure — but this guy is certain chazal were wrong.

      • AP, if you ever sick chas v’sholom, and you want to try Chazal’s medicines, go ahead. The rest of us will acknowledge the truth of Rav Sherira Gaon’s statement that medicine was not developed in the ancient world, and we will follow modern medicine.

        Likewise, if you want to believe that mice grow from dirt, and salamanders grow from fire, go ahead. The rest of us will follow Rav Hirsch and other Torah giants who believed that modern science knows more about these things than people 2000 years ago.

        • Is it so hard to admit that we don’t fully understand what chazal are saying? From your comments it is evident that you did absolutely no research from the mamarim you are quoting. If you looked up the rishonim/achronim on the sugyos you quote you would find very logical explanations to chazal.
          In short, some meforshim explain that a guf is made of arba yesodim, and in mice the yesod of dirt is more pronounced while in salamanders fire is more pronounced. When it comes to medicine, it is quite possible that teva of different herbs or animal concoctions as well as our bodies reactions to them were different at that time. Or we do not quite understand these days the exact applications of these remedies as was understood by many at that time (exactly why chazal never went into detail about them). Every rav will tell you that chazal believe in changing of teva, just not the way darwinians would like us to believe. I find our diminished emunas chachamim very shocking. The arrogance and ignornace of slifkin is abhorrent. Aren’t we at least smart enough to say we simply don’t know or fully understand what chazal are saying and that further research and learning is necessary.

          • I looked up the Rishonim/ Acharonim on all these sugyos. Until very recent times, they were all very clear that the Gemara was talking about mice growing from dirt, and salamanders growing from fire. Only when people realized that these things are impossible did some meforshim try to claim that this isn’t what the Gemara meant, and some people tried to claim that “we simply.don’t know or fully understand what chazal are saying.” But there were still more honest authorities, such as Rav Hirsch, who followed the derech of the Rishonim and acknowledged that Chazal were simply following the beliefs of their era.
            I find it shocking that you refer to the views of Rav Sherira Gaon, Rambam, Rav Hirsch and many others as reflecting “arrogance and ignorance.” How can you be so disrespectful?

            • In their comments on VIN, many writers are simply following the instructions of the gedollim who they swear to follow ‘until death do us part’, which is also why none of these gedollim loyalists use the internet, unlike you and I who use the internet to read VIN and share our opinions with others who have ignored the gedollim and use the internet.

    25. The readiness of so many people to consider Rabbi Slifkin’s position with an open mind might be the first sign in a long time to offer hope that the tent of Orthodoxy might one day be allowed to re-expand.

      IMHO, too many yiddin have already been shut out or tossed out of the observant groups of klal yisroel.

    26. The readiness of so many people to consider Rabbi Slifkin’s position with an open mind might be the first sign in a long time to offer hope that the tent of Orthodoxy might one day be allowed to re-expand.

      IMHO, too many yiddin have already been shut out or tossed out of the observant groups of klal yisroel.

    27. One can acknowledge his lack of understanding commentaries written by our ancestors, but to declare that they were mistaking, is pure Apikorsos and post Judaism.

    28. The bottom line is that although throughout history we have morphed, changed and devided in to different religious sects, our gedoilim have remained constant.

      Whatever ur preference we all admit that the way of the gedoilim is pristine, pure and beautiful although it may be a path beyond us.

      Rav ashii, rashi, the Rambam, rayved, chazon ish, r chaim Kanievsky, all have followed the same path that our author calls “excessive”.

      Throughout the ages the gedoilim fought modernity and built whatever fences were necessary to protect Jews from sinning in accordance with the directive, ” asey seyug latorah”.

      To argue with the gedoilim, is arrogant and wrong and is clearly a result of personal trauma.

      As for the dissatisfied? The right way is always the hardest and encounters the fiercest resistance.

      All paths have troubles and problems for that is the pattern of life, to use these problems as a basis for rejecting one way is inaccurate and one sided for the other path most certainly has its problems as well.

      All we can do is try our hardest to do what’s right as instructed by the Torah and not dictated by our whims desires or social beliefs.

      As such the only true opinion is the Torah and the only true representation of Torah thought our gedoilim.

      The insinuation that chareidi life which is so enforced by out present day gedoilim is the cause of Jewish dissatisfaction is insane, kefira in its own right and reeks of a personal agenda.

      All in favor of the Torah will be bothered by the authors arrogance and disdain for tradition and mesoirah.

        • True. I stand correctted. It was a manner of writing. I didn’t mean to belittke any one else’s opinion. I am merely passionate about following Daas Torah.

          When the affair was in its beginnings I saw the names of the 36 gedoikim who signed that it was kefira and many were the accepted gedoilim of all standards.

          I have many arguments regarding thus article and regarding his opinions stated in his book which I have read yet have purposefully omitted. I did so because ny arguments are the same as every one else’s. Educated opinions that seem to me to be the most logical .

          I only chose to write what I feel is an absolute truth. That that the Torah states is always correct and only gwdoilim can state with conviction what that is …not me or you or rabbi slifkin.

          • Those gedolim you claim to follow no-matter-what, are they the same gedolim who forbid using the internet? Or do you have a seperate set of gedolim for seperate issues?

          • bravo! a pleasure to converse with civil people.

            i understand your position. i only wish that others would be as as respectful.

            and one interesting point that i really haven’t seen addressed:
            where is the Ahavas Yisroel ? Reb Meir’s wife said Chot’im not Chata’im. why are they attacking the individual with such unmitigated ferocity ? there is something underlying all of this, and it’s not quite as simple as it seems.

    29. R. Slifkin makes some very good points in his article and I believe there is a need to define true B’nai Torah who don’t subscribe to the narrow view of the the general Charedi world. That being said, I don’t subscribe to Slifkin’s approach for many reasons, but what he has done is set back the “True Ben Torah” that has a broader view of the world (The Hirschien approach) by being lumped into Slifkinism. The primary issue that I have with him is that it is a dangerous path to go down when you question Maaseh B’rashis as it has been accepted to a broad audience that doesn’t understand the nuances of when and how to apply these ideas. It is not for no reason that no one less than the Rambam (who Slifkin likes to liken himself to) says that this should not be studied unless with a Rebbi Muvhak and on a one on one basis. I don’t think he is a heretic and he has sources for his opinions, but his style comes off as if he knows better than all of the Gedolai Yisrael that preceded him . Now this may be the case, but it is a rash and confrontational approach. A little Anivus and reverence would have gone a long way in defusing the Slifkin affair.

    30. As someone who -by his own admission- is capable of nuance and sophistication, Slifkin’s inability to accept limitations within the Haredi community is surprising. He is as guilty of the same charges that he lays on the Haredim; being single-minded. Becoming Post- Haredi because they banned his books is throwing out the baby out with the bathwater

      Its seems this is a personal reaction, than an intellectual choice.

      Furthermore, his absolute belief in science is overrated; science changes its mind every year. Former axioms are disregarded, changed or left to lick the dust. The sages may not be 100 percent right on an individual basis on every issue, but as a group they have fared far better in axiomatic principles than science ever has.

    31. The common denominator in all opposing movements in Jewish history – such as Tzdokim, Keroim, Maskilim, and the pre-war youth movements – were all about one thing: The Godolim are at the wrong side (or out of date) and THEY are (were) on the right side.. That’s it.

      Though some of these Maskilim were indeed really smart and highly intelligent people who had made logical points at times, and attracted many people, which then resulted in massive movements sweeping through countries, but these people and their movements are long ago GONE and their grandchildren lost their Jewish roots.

      So something miraculous Happened all these years to FRUM (and CLOSE minded) it was beyond the power of humans that they always managed to stay around , and that’s the answer to everything, that despite that the FRUM world might have their problems, they still don’t loose their legitimacy & Hashem manages to his world and always insures that we never vanish

      V’Yakov Eish Tom Tomim Hoyo B’dorosov, That’s the recipe we got in the Torah directly utilized successfully by Yakov Avinu

    32. It is amazing that not a single commenter has referenced the opinions of numerous halachic authorities who argue against R. Slifkin’s positions. It would be most appropriate to consider the opposing views before so readily accepting his ideas.
      The narrative he presents as to the prominence of the chareidi hashkofa today is highly flawed. He completely overlooks the dramatic resurgence of the chassidische community in this country as if the litvish/kollel model is solely representative of chareidim. Chassidische yungeleit do work and yet are much more insulated from the secular world and secular studies.
      His historical point as to the development of “Orthodoxy” as a 19th century phenomenon is a serious misrepresentation. Rav S.R.Hirsch used the term to differentiate from the Reform, not as a departure from millenia-old traditional yiddishkeit.
      The very fact that R. Slifkin chose the JPost – an outlet known to attract intense anti-religious commentary – as the venue for his essay is highly informative as to his motivations and character.

      • Your facts on Rav Hirsch are far off the mark. Firstly Rav Hirsch was opposed to the term Orthodoxy because it gave credence that there are other “streams” of Judaism. To Rav Hirsch there was only Yahdus (See Collected Writings). Rav Hirsch certainly departed from the “classical” Eastern European and Chassidish approach to Torah Judasim. Rav Hirsch saw Torah Im Derech Eretz and a L’chatchila and not a Bidieved. He say the Chassidik and Litvish approach as a distortion of true Torah Judaism and sought to redefine “Orthodoxy”. I would add that while Rav Hirsch believed with all his soul in the Torah Im Derech Eretz approach he did not seek to export it to other communities where his view was not accepted. That was his Anivus. Just look in the Collected Writings on his disagreement with The Wurtzburger Rav and you will get a glimpse of how convinced he was of the Torah Im Derech Eretz approach as the true Toras HaShem.

        • In fact, towards the end of his life Rav Hirsch worked to organize the “Freie Vereinigung fur die Interessendes Orthodoxen Judentums”, a network of Ortho communities which later became the organizational model for the creation in Europe of the Aguda.
          Germany departed from the Eastern European and Chassidish modes of Yiddishkeit, not just Rav Hirsch. It was not his Anivus that kept him from exporting TIDE, it was the appreciation that “one size does not fit all”. TIDE wouldn’t work in Poland or Russia & he knew that.
          Would Rav Hirsch be considered a chareidi by today’s measures? Hard to say but he was certainly considered to be a peer by such men as R. Yitzchok Elchonan Spektor.

          • I don’t disagree… but with it all Rav Hirsch would have never joined Agudah and Rav Breuer refused to join Agudah or have the K’hilla officially join Agudah. It was Rav Hirsch’s Anivus as he clearly believed that TIDE is the true path as Rav Breuer is quoted being told that it would be M’karev Hageulah. He didn’t want TIDE pushed in other communities because he knew it would not be accepted and didn’t want to Pasken outside of his jurisdiction, not because “one size doesn’t fit all”.

      • I think its pretty obvious that the reason noone mentioned the “numerous halachic authorities who argue against R. Slifkin’s positions”, is because everyone knows about those- that is the opinion that is adopted by the mainstream charedi world today.

    33. if the kanuim would act with complete seriousness and midos tovos, and just react with real pain on the desecration of the torah, they would have much more people agree with them.
      now a days many signators of the isurim just enjoy the fame and power.

      • Your statement represents the REAL reason the kehilla structure and community rabbi is no longer the authority it was and not because, as R. Slifkin promotes, the yeshiva heads have taken over. The manner in which you casually demean rabbonim and impute self-serving motivations to their actions – without a shred of evidence to support your loshon hara – is what has destroyed rabbinic leadership in this country. Sadly your attitudes and actions are all too common and have been present in America for over a century.


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