Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Slifkin reflections

Once the parties start communicating via wall-posters ('pashkevelim') in Meah Shearim, you know that matters have truly descended into anarchy. (The old Satmarer Rebbe, Reb Yoelish z'l, who came to Yerushalayim for a year or so after the war, before relocating to Brooklyn, had a wicked sense of humour. He commented on his first visit to Meah Shearim that it looked exactly like Eastern Europe - ie a hurvah - a tumble-down ruin. "Only the glue from the pashkevelim keeps the walls from falling down", he pronounced.)
Anyway, now that I learn that I am talking about mishpachah on both sides (see previous post from Miriam 'All in the family') I shall be more guarded in my comments...... Nevertheless, some thoughts on the present situation (as thoroughly documented by Bnei Levi).
1. Those who come out with dignity and integrity in the whole mess include:
--- Rabbi Slifkin himself, whose website remains restrained and factual
--- Rabbi Aharon Feldman of Baltimore, whom I don't know, but alone in the yEshivah community seems to have had the courage to try and right a moral wrong. Kol hakavod.
--- The Blogosphere - yup, the whole gang. Had it have been left to the Jewish print media, the issue would have been left fairly unnoticed (even they fed off the blogosphere).
--- Gil Student, who took on publshing / distributing Rabbi Slifkin's books when 'another publisher' (see category #2, following) dropped them like hot cakes
2. Those who come out with less dignity and less integrity in the whole mess:
--- most everyone else involved who either signed, or backtracked, or equivocated, or who kept silent, or who don't read what they sign, or allow "aides" to sign in their names etc etc etc
--- Feldheim's
3. Those left with most food for thought:
--- fine, good people who are appalled by the behaviour, or the theology, or both, shown by some sections of the frum / Haredi / neo-Haredi sector.
4. Those who stand to gain most from this sorry mess:
--- Link here, here, here and here. Any other nominations welcome.
5. Those who have lost most
--- I believe that the credibility of the Haredi 'Gedolim' has been significantly undermined by this episode, especially in N America. The blog, the internet and email have been important factors in this. There are perhaps historical parallels in the loss of Rabbinic authority in Europe in the early modern age. Most of all, the staggering intellectual shortcomings (putting it politely) of the yeshivah world have been exposed by their own spokesmen. Rav Sternbuch and the anti-scientists, the apologists of 'Cross-currents' ("we accept technology but not science') - all have effectively consigned themselves to oblivion in the engagement of Judaism with the real world. One other side-issue - noted and argued with great erudition by many bloggers, including and perhaps especially Gil Student on Hirhurim - is the lack of sophistication (arising from lack of knowledge? .......) of the anti-Slifkinites in handling earlier rabbinic philosophy and thinking.

That's all for the time being, folks.

PS: In looking for one of the links for this posting, I scrolled through some sections of Rabbi Slifkin's site -- www.zootorah.com --- it is really fascinating, and I suggest all readers of this posting click on it now. And, by the way, as I've already said some weeks ago, I don't actually hold with Rabbi Slifkin's theories.......

No comments: