How to Deal With Heresy Without Raising Your Blood Pressure

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51 Responses

  1. yechiel reit says:

    in your first footnote you can be understood to be equating the term “emunah peshuta” with “choosing not to ask question”, a dangerous and harmful suggestion. the term “emunah peshuta” refers to a level of knowledge of g-d that is above rational knowledge, approaching the level of prophecy. it greatly demeans the term, and the whole concept of emuna, to treat it as being the same as simple ignorance (“just don’t ask the questions”). one can choose not to question because they find the testimony of the mesorah to be adequate, and that is perfectly legitimate, but that is not the same as simply declining to question, and in any case is far from the sublime (and very rare) level called emunah peshuta.
    this criticism may be based on a misunderstanding of your true intentions, but if that is so, please clarify what you truly mean.

    • Point well taken. I am indeed guilty of using the term as it is used colloquially, which does not do the justice to it that you do. It should be clear, however, that the footnote described emunah peshutah as indeed different from the decision not to question

      • Yaakov Piner says:

        This article was very well written, and did a great job articulating this often subconscious perspective. I, however , have to admit to having a hard time getting behind faith as a declaration of loyalty. Unlike the woman in the case of the weasel and the well, someone who has questions of faith is questioning whether the one to whom he owes loyalty exists. Asking of someone to overcome such questions on the basis of faith seem, to me , circular.

        I’d really love to hear your input on this angle, whether in this forum, or at least by email.

      • It is a great question. For some people, there is no moving beyond it. If the core emunah is not there, there is nothing (and for the benefit of my friends who are into kabbalah, I should say Nothing) to be loyal to.

        My words were directed to those who are struggling with their emunah, not searching for it. I very much accept the notion that there is emunah that is vouchsafed to every Jewish neshama – and there are a heck of a lot of non-Jews as well who sense the existence and presence of HKBH. As my talmid of decades ago, R Leib Kelemen put it when he wrote Permission to Believe, many people want to believe, but have been battered by cultural derision, or have struggled with very legitimate questions. Or, put most succinctly by the Nesivos Shalom, a Yid who struggles with emunah should have emunah that he has emunah! Those in the first group I discussed will meet this suggestion with derision, because that emunah is somehow no longer easily accessible to them. But those in the second group will recognize themselves. For them, loyalty might indeed be a useful tool to keep their heads above the raging waters of kefirah

  2. Bob Miller says:

    “How should we view this new batch of troubled thinkers?”

    As individuals with their own wrong approaches, motivated by their personal life histories and ways of thinking. They also differ in how much danger they and their arguments pose to everyone else.

  3. Steve Brizel says:

    Excellent article . R Gordimer deserves a great Yasher Koach for exposing kefirah and its contemporary proponents
    This article also deserves the same for reminding us of the boundaries that we all need to maintain in this regard and posing some approaches that we can all benefit from using in some manner

  4. anonymous says:

    Nice article. I would only ask that before you include Yeshiva University as a place to avoid heresy, you look into their bible studies requirements.

    • Rabbi Yaakov Lasson says:

      Not really – YU’s Bible dept. does have some of that but most guys (in the full yeshiva program) are not interested in pursuing that material after the class is over. I was in one of them.

  5. dr. bill says:

    I know that it is often assumed that an orthoprax is assumed to go along, at least openly, for primarily social reasons. That, not the standard heresies, raises my blood pressure.

    Like belief in God, the traditional views on revelation and the subsequent Mesorah do not lend themselves to proof, one way or the other. No one credible argues differently. Some try to demonstrate the Bible’s truth by ways more easily shown to be wrong than most heresies. Given forced choice, there is significantly greater support for the various versions of a documentary hypothesis than for “bible codes.” The latter is personally more troubling than the former. Another argument considers the diversity of views as a sign of weakness as opposed to what is common in non-scientific disciplines.

    There have been numerous believers in various heresies who are also medakdaik be’mitzvot. They are not orthoprax even though their observance is based on what most consider heretical beliefs. I for one am outraged by those that dismiss their views, not even having read their attempts at explanation. I wonder how many of the expected commentators have bothered even reading “On being a Jew” or “The Kingly Sanctuary” or “In the valley of the shadow,” the former two long suspected and now confirmed as auto biographical.

    One need not see anything said in any of those three books as important or of any help confronting challenges to revelation and its transmission as traditionally believed. Nonetheless, labeling its author an orthoprax is simply naive. You might call him a fool for his deeply felt beliefs, but telling him that they are not really beliefs and he is but an orthoprax is in my mind incomprehensible.

    Two individuals Rav Mordechai Breuer ztl and Dr. Joshua Berman have been accepted at least in large parts of the orthodox community. I dare say that the former and to a lesser degree the latter have proposed positions that have been strongly criticized. Over time, their acceptance has grown. Where all this will end, I have no idea. And I know is that the academics who tell us the history of deot from Bayit Sheni to modern times are not given anything near the attention I think/hope they might eventually earn. In my opinion, they may provide an avenue to address a knotty problem that will not subside.

    • Comments embedded [in brackets]:

      I know that it is often assumed that an orthoprax is assumed to go along, at least openly, for primarily social reasons. That, not the standard heresies, raises my blood pressure.

      [What? You never heard the famous story of the Vilner Apikorus? 🙂 ]

      Like belief in God, the traditional views on revelation and the subsequent Mesorah do not lend themselves to proof, one way or the other. No one credible argues differently. Some try to demonstrate the Bible’s truth by ways more easily shown to be wrong than most heresies. Given forced choice, there is significantly greater support for the various versions of a documentary hypothesis than for “bible codes.” The latter is personally more troubling than the former. Another argument considers the diversity of views as a sign of weakness as opposed to what is common in non-scientific disciplines.

      [They don’t lend themselves to proof. They do lend themselves to employing mesorah as a yardstick. Kefirah is a halachic category. It has to be defined, and the only ones to do it are the key talmidei chachamim/morei hora’ah of history. Not people we happen to think are fine folks because we daven with them in a shtibel and they daven a long Shemonah Esrei. Among other things, kefirah is assur to study. And to read. There are exceptions. The right people are permitted to study it in order to provide responses. You should not be extrapolating from your experience to developing a public policy]

      There have been numerous believers in various heresies who are also medakdaik be’mitzvot.

      [So was Mordechai Kaplan, at least when it was convenient. So was the Vilner Apikorus. So was Acher, I imagine. And almost certainly Jesus, for that matter. One conception of the 13 Ikarim (which the Rav certainly subscribed to) is that they are the sine qua non of observance. Without belief in them, then nebach (using R Chaim Brisker’s terminology), the kiyum ha-mitzvos simply doesn’t work.]
      They are not orthoprax even though their observance is based on what most consider heretical beliefs. I for one am outraged by those that dismiss their views, not even having read their attempts at explanation. I wonder how many of the expected commentators have bothered even reading “On being a Jew” or “The Kingly Sanctuary” or “In the valley of the shadow,” the former two long suspected and now confirmed as auto biographical.

      One need not see anything said in any of those three books as important or of any help confronting challenges to revelation and its transmission as traditionally believed. Nonetheless, labeling its author an orthoprax is simply naive. You might call him a fool for his deeply felt beliefs, but telling him that they are not really beliefs and he is but an orthoprax is in my mind incomprehensible.

      [You are certainly correct about that. Not sure who used the term in reference to them. I hope it wasn’t me! HOWEVER – there are quite a few Orthoprax, who, when questioned by innocents about the inconsistency of their life-style with the Ikarim, respond that they have too much belief in biblical criticism, or find traditional Orthodoxy unfair to women, etc. Excuses. Jay Lefkowitz’s seminal piece on social Orthodoxy stated this (not the “excuses” part – that was my own editorializing) loud and clear.]

      Two individuals Rav Mordechai Breuer ztl and Dr. Joshua Berman have been accepted at least in large parts of the orthodox community.

      [“Large parts” are words that are ambiguous and not very helpful. It is not (or should not) be the “street” that determines acceptability, but the baalei mesorah. You may be correct about both of them (and personally, I hope you are! It will make my life easier). But you may be wrong.]

      I dare say that the former and to a lesser degree the latter have proposed positions that have been strongly criticized. Over time, their acceptance has grown. Where all this will end, I have no idea. And I know is that the academics who tell us the history of deot from Bayit Sheni to modern times are not given anything near the attention I think/hope they might eventually earn. In my opinion, they may provide an avenue to address a knotty problem that will not subside.

      [Sorry for hassling you. I hope it won’t disturb our forthcoming dinner meeting, to which the Adlersteins look forward!]

      • dr. bill says:

        Not a hassle at all. one thing we agree on and one thing we do/may not. We both agree that only Gedolai baalei ha Mesoreh can make changes as have occurred throughout history. We do/may not agree on how the process starts. I believe bottom-up to which baalei haMesorah eventually apply gedarim and refinements.

        We just got into Yerushalayim late last night and still trying to remember how terisim and heaters and shabbat modes work.

      • I can narrow the disagreement. Many people in the yeshiva world are aware that bottom-up change happened more frequently over the centuries than top-down. The question – and the room for disagreement – is the interregnum between pressure from below and acceptance on top. To
        operatecontrary to a consensus of the baalei ha-mesorah before they get on board with some change (including the conscious attempt to jump-start the process by creating new facts on the ground in the hope that everyone else will go along with it and thus accelerate the change) is wrong. People who try that should rightfully be marginalized. This is true in the arena of ideas and hashkafa as well. OTOH, people who throw out new ideas and proposals, and then try to get the baalei ha-mesorah to buy into them, act properly. But if they are told that those ideas have no merit, or are dangerous to the community, etc., they must accept the decision of a consensus of the einei ha-edah.

      • Aharon says:

        Who gets to decide who gets to read kefirah? How would you know it was kefirah without reading it first?

      • The first one is easy. It is decided like any other halacha. Either learn the sugya sufficiently and pasken, or go the talmid chacham one ordinarily entrusts halachic matters.

        You would not know that something was kefirah unless you either read it, or knew someone trustworthy who had. In this case, I can assure you that both R Gordimer and myself have read the subject matter that we are talking about. It is that kind of generation; I have to admit having spent far more time pondering real kefirah than learning, lehavdil, ספרא דצניעותא of the Gra.

  6. a yid says:

    Perhaps what’s helpful is an emphasis on transcendent emunah as practiced by our avot. Too often as human beings we mistakenly think our reason, our experience sufficiently informs our life; but the great emes is of course there is a power much greater than ourselves. It’s of course one thing to learn about it and another to practice it. Yet, this is what our mesorah is, right? It’s replete with incredible stories of such emunah and bitachon. It may sound naive, but perhaps continued direction in that area will prepare and enable us in the best way; particularly when those stories are applied to modern situations. Certainly “we’ve been there before” whether it’s 19th century Russia or ancient Greece.

  7. mb says:

    I’m surprised you include Chief Rabbi Dr. Hertz zt’l in his countering Biblical Criticism and other heresies.

  8. Shades of Gray says:

    ”It would be futile to try to make these areas part of the curriculum” 

    In the 2015 Klal Perspectives, R. Adlerstein wrote that “in consultation with gedolei Torah, to be more anticipatory in inoculating our children…to recalculate the cost-benefit ratio in addressing issues that might, in some cases, be raising questions in some students where none existed before…consulting with those of the Orthodox world where observant Jews are encouraged to wade into the sometimes murky waters of academic study.”

    Based on both articles, I would say that in the ideal, differentiated education should cater to different people.

    Back in the 1992 issue of the TUM Journal, R. Yehuda Parnes responded to an article in which R. Shalom Carmy responded to him by quoting a private ruling of R. Soloveitchik(“The Nature of Inquiry: A Common Sense Perspective [Reply to R’ Parnes]”).

    R. Parnes wrote in response that  R. Carmy was certainly conducting himself within halachic bounds by following a private ruling of the Rav enabling him to freely study kefirah, but that such conduct was at the same time,  inconsistent with the Rambam’s hora’ah in Hilchos Avodah Zarah. Instead, R. Parnes argued for the need for a “classical format of a she’elah u-teshuvah” from a recognized Torah authority to decide the issue for Torah u-Madda advocates (“Response and Closure [reply to Lawrence Kaplan & David Berger, and to Shalom Carmy]”).

    • dr. bill says:

      In my day at YU, apikursus was taught and apikorsim were professors, all with the Rav ztl’s implicit (and I believe explicit) approval. The Rav wanted the college to provide complete exposure to western thought; that was for all, not just yechidim like my classmate Prof. Carmi.

      The Rav even made jokes during lectures that would obliquely refer to apikorsus that only philosophy majors would appreciate, the funniest was on Haman’s desire to harm Am Mordechai. Frankly, one has next to no chance of understanding Moreh Nevuchim (and its relationship to what Rambam wrote on occasion differently in MT) without such background.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        That presumably was what RYBS viewed as part and parcel of a college education as opposed to the same not being a cheftza shel Torah

      • mycroft says:

        I believe I was once told that the problem in the Rambam is that very few understand the Rambam. Many academics have the philosophical background to understand the Moreh Nevuchim but clearly don’t have the background to understand MT, and certainly RY and many yeshiva students can understand the MT but clearly can’t understand the Moreh Nevuchim.
        Of interest, IIRC Prof Twersky wrote in his book on MT that the 14 sections of the MT correspond to the 14 sections of the Moreh Nevuchim.

      • I’ve heard that the Rogatchover held that one could not understand MT without understanding the Moreh. (Of course, in some academic circles, it is in vogue to speak of multiple Rambams. That way, people don’t have to feel guilty when they work on one, and remain ignorant of the other.)

        Then again, I don’t know anyone myself who understands any of the Rogatchover!

      • dr. bill says:

        With my Partners in Torah chavrusa, I am now almost finishing MT hilkot Teshuvah. I could not have given him a full sense of Rambam without reliance on the Moreh.

        In Prof. Halberthal’s book on Rambam about 8 years ago, he concludes by outlining 4 very different ways to read Rambam assuming broad consistency between MT, the Moreh, his teshuvot and famous letters. I think those who broadly assert a specific POV should exhibit a bit more humility and less certainty. Nonetheless, I myself am biased by what I was taught by the Late Prof. Arthur Hyman and yibadael le’chaim Prof. Warren (now Zev) Harvey.

      • rkz says:

        The MT-MN connection is discussed in MiNofet Tzuf (a two volume discussion of many aspects of MN, written by Rabbi Blass of Neve Tzuf)

    • mycroft says:

      Of interest is that every single person referred to in Shades of Grey has smicha, except for Rabbi Adlerstein who has smicha from Chafetz Chaim,every other person whether or not listed with title R has smicha.
      There is no doubt if one wanted to guess what the Rav believed Prof Kaplan who translated under the Ravs supervision Halachik Man and Prof Carmy who has literally spent decades first with the Rav preparing many of the Ravs prior shiurim etc for publication, even after did a lot involving the Ravs manuscripts. Those two worked with the Rav when he was alive.
      There is certainly no surprise in the private ruling in which the Rav told R Carmy that he could study material that include kefirah, there are others who the Rav encouraged to attend grad school to study such material.
      Of course, the Rav studied philosophy for his Phd.

      • rkz says:

        Unfortunately, smicha is no guarantee that there is no kefira involved (The founders of CJ also has smicha…)

      • Shades of Gray says:

        “Of interest is that every single person referred to in Shades of Grey has smicha”

        I left the last bracketed reference as it is on YU Torah, which lists the rabbis/professors without their titles, to make it easy to Google search.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        The Talmud in Chagigah relates that four of the greatest Tanaim studied What the Gemara calls Pardes and only R Akiva emerged as he entered . Not everyone has a level of Emunah as R Carmy and it is presumptuous to think otherwise

  9. Shades of Gray says:

    R. Yitzchak Berkovits of Aish Hatorah addressed in a shiur a fundamental question about the Rambam in Hilchos Avodah Zarah referred to in this post(”Mitzvah #6 :Lo Sasuru”, 2:25 in shiur, video and transcript available online): 

    “There’s a general sheilah altogether. What’s wrong with entertaining a possibility? What are we so afraid of? If it’s so true, if we’ve got the emes, why are we so insecure? According to the Rambam you’re supposed to stay away from reading questionable materials… There’s a heter if you need it l’hislameid, you have to go and counter those who believe in it, but otherwise you’re not supposed to read it. Doesn’t that sound like insecurity, like we’re afraid? ”

    R. Berkovits understands the Rambam that even though emunah is itself based on strong principles, one nevertheless has to protect from doubt.  

    Perhaps one can add to the above that the answer is implicit in the very same Rambam in Hilchos Avodah Zarah who wrote ואינו יודע המידות שידון בהן עד שיידע האמת על בורייו, implying that there are answers as well. Indeed the Rambam himself wrote the Moreh Nevuchim to seriously engage with challenges to faith. 

     I also think that definitionally, it is incompatible to both argue that there is strong proof or evidence for various beliefs which some kiruv presentations do, while simultaneously forbidding serious engagement with kefirah based on halacha, since “evidence”, by definition, requires an examination of “counter-evidence” ! One can counter, however, that emunah peshutah v. chakirah is not binary, with kiruv presentations falling somewhere on the spectrum.

     A similar definitional or ממה נפשך argument has been made by R. Emanuel Feldman in a response to R. Nisson  Wolpin about the title “Gedolim Biographies” and the prohibition of lashon hara: “And if, in fact, halachic constraints prevent us from relating the crucial inner struggles and conflicts that might have been present in the lives of today’s great Jews, perhaps we should consider finding a name other than “biographies” with which to label [the] genre…”(Jewish Action, Letters, Winter, 2002). 

    • mycroft says:

      Not directly on point but related, in general the Rav would say we have a good product we don’t have to be afraid we must be honest.
      As a pragmatic matter attempting to limit access to information is counterproductive. Everything online and trying to censor material from students merely attracts attention to the material. Mayim genuvim mumtakim

  10. MMBBHK says:

    It is very optimistic to believe that one can avoid exposure to heresy by staying out of Harvard and Bar-Ilan (veyesh omrim YU). These days, the external society tells you constantly that you are not just retrograde or benighted, but a Very Bad Person and untouchable, if you believe certain bits of Vayikra that we leyn on Yom Kippur. The message is so relentless that it will penetrate everywhere. We have no choice but to prepare our children to confront it.

  11. T Hai says:

    Thanks for this well written and insightful article.
    I believe that CG is at its best in discussing and exposing these issues and the Gordimer/Adlerstein combo is very very powerful.
    NB also: the Rav’s Ish Halacha stands as the definitive confrontation with the modern world and his personal example at virtually every instance of 60 years of public life is our truest model for today.

  12. micha berger says:

    The best rebuttal to a heretic is to live according values no one would be motivated to deny.

  13. My recent book (Judaism Reclaimed: Philosophy and Theology in the Torah) contains many chapters which address bible criticism from an orthodox perspective, drawing upon the writings of R Hirsch, Malbim and more recently Rabbi Joshua Berman and Rábbi Amnon Bazak. My introductory chapter (available as part of the free sample on the book’s website, http://www.JudaismReclaimed.com) specifically addresses the question (citing R Shimon Schwab) of whether it is possible to hide away from such questions in the modern era. The book has endorsements from across the Rabbinic perspective including R Jonthan Sacks and Rav Zev Leff).

  14. MK says:

    Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet, a devoted talmid of the Rav ZTL, discusses in a lecture differences
    between the Rav and Rav Hirsch. He says (not exact words) that the Rav was able to live
    with dichotomies. In the morning, he was a Lithuanian Rosh Yeshiva, saying shiurim on the
    highest level. He would say that his best talmidim would have held their own in Volozhin!
    The afternoon was a university with total academic freedom, including professors literally
    teaching kefira. (He gave examples.) The Rav was totally aware of this and, however we understand
    it, was comfortable with it.
    Rabbi Rakeffet went on to say that, to Rav Hirsch, this would have been unimaginable. He would
    never have allowed distortion of Torah, on any level, in an institution under his leadership.
    I think it’s very important to know this, coming from a talmid who is second to none in his reverence for the Rav.

  15. Shades of Gray says:

    According to R. Carmy’s maaseh Rav(excuse the pun) in the TUM journal I referenced, although R. Solveitchik was aware that some students were not up to the experience, he still scoffed at the notion that what to study at college could be decided “like a question in Yoreh De’ah”, with the mechanical straightforwardness suitable to the ” the kashrut of fish”. He told R. Carmy to exercise his own judgment as to which works to include in the curriculum.

    Rabbi Parness, on the other hand, believes that a “classically documented and formulated teshuvah” is appropriate because “the loyalty and commitment of thousands of products of Torah u-Madda are ultimately at stake”. Earlier this year, R. Steven Burg wrote similarly in The Commentator( “Why YU Needs a Rosh Yeshiva”) in response to a problematic article by a Jewish Studies professor, and R. Zev Eleff responded to him there(“Youth and the YU Idea”).

    Personally, I think there is a need for a university that engage with Bible criticism under Orthodox auspices, as kiruv yeshivos, their contributions notwithstanding, are not universities. The $64,000 question is how R. Solveitchik would respond today (even more imponderable would be to ask this about the Rambam).

    On a related note, at the JHC Lights Chinese Auction in early 2018 (38:45 in online video), R. Moshe Bane related that he, R. Weinreb and another person of the OU spent 3 hours with a leading posek asking questions relating to JLIC/NCSY, and then many subsequent hours putting his answers into writing. When they returned to the posek and asked him to sign off, he refused, saying that it was too nuanced to put in writing, and the questions needed to be decided on case by case basis.

  16. Shades of Gray says:

    About fifteen years ago, R. Shalom Carmy spoke at an Aish Das/Avodah event at the Yavneh Minyan in Flatbush . While I had previously thought that R. Solveitchik might have been not so familiar with bible criticism since he is famously quoted as “not even been troubled by the theories of Biblical criticism”, my recollection is that R. Carmy said in his speech that R. Solveitchik was in fact familiar with it, and once asked him, “Carmy, have you read this book on Bible criticism?”

    (R. Micha Berger, who I believe was also at the Yavneh/Aish Das event, may be able to confirm my recollections; I also remember seeing there R. Gil Student and R. Moshe Sokol, the rav of the minyan and now dean of Lander College).

  17. David Ohsie says:

    “First, Torah will outlast them. Heresies have been around since Korach.” Yes, but sometimes this happens by rendering the formerly heretical as non-heretical. Heliocentrism was originally considered heretical by many Jewish authorities (see sources in https://www.amazon.com/New-Heavens-Earth-Reception-Copernican/dp/0199754799). Many (including R Moshe Feinstein) consider(ed) an earth older than 6,000 years and/or evolution to be heretical while others accept these as a commonplace. Eventually, if the evidence for a given theory become overwhelming, the tradition adapts to incorporate it. I make no prediction as to what will happen here.

  18. Shades of Gray says:

    “Yes, but sometimes this happens by rendering the formerly heretical as non-heretical…I make no prediction as to what will happen here.”

    The Rambam was willing to reinterpret pesukim according to the Platonic theory of the Eternity of the Universe, but not Aristotelian, because the latter was in opposition to the foundation of Torah. As the RCA said in the 2013 “RCA Statement on Torah Min HaShamayim”:

    “The very coherence of traditional Jewish discourse concerning the authority of the Torah she-bikhtav and the Torah she-be`al peh rests upon this conviction. When critical approaches to the Torah’s authorship first arose, every Orthodox rabbinic figure recognized that they strike at the heart of the classical Jewish faith.”

    What might change with time is the level of engagement with ideas. If more people have access to heretical ideas, then there is a need to engage with it on a more sophisticated level.

    • David Ohsie says:

      1) You are giving me another good example. Rambam includes the creation of the world in his 13 Ikkarim, but admits that if it could be proven wrong (and he was probably was a little concerned because of his outsized respect for Aristotle), he would accommodate it. (As it turns out the pesukim might actually be most naturally read as asserting creation from pre-existing matter.)

      2) The Rambam gave a logical argument: If God was Aristotelian, then he had no influence on the world and the religion is senseless. You simply provided an polemic from the RCA. The Torah text itself never explicitly asserts that it is Min Hashamayim; in fact, on its face just look at the P’Shat, it is not. It is completely logically consistent to say that the Torah is a human record of what happened to the Jewish people (and pre-Jewish people) over time. The Torah asserts a revelation as part of that history, but the revelation is not identified with the Torah itself.

      That said, I’m not disputing Torah Min HaShamayim or claiming that this is what will happen. I’m merely pointing out that sometime the resolution is via rejection and sometime it is via incorporation and this is not over yet.

  19. Steve Brizel says:

    Simply relying on what you quaintly call the Torah text or Pshat is a limiting argument and ultimately a dry uninspiring and not very compelling reason or rationale to study Torah or observe mitzvos Without Chazal and TSBP you are lost in the wilderness of apologetics and cannot transmit Torah to the next generation

  20. Moshe Averick says:

    I find it impossible to believe that Rav Soloveitchik gave either implicit and certainly not explicit approval to the teaching of apikorsus at YU. I don’t believe he had much influence at all on what was taught there or chose not to mix in for reasons that were known to himself.

    • dr. bill says:

      why do you think you are competent to have beliefs on the Rav ztl? Do you have private conversations with him? given the absurdity of your claims, rational discussion is pointless. spend some time researching the professors teaching philosophy at YU college in the 50s and 60’s when the Rav was in complete control.

  21. Moshe Averick says:

    I strongly disagree with the notion that we are dealing with a “split decision” type situation. It is clear to me that almost anything that is written about Gd/Torah/Judaism in the academic world should be assumed as false, distorted, taken out of context, or shameless secularist propaganda unless proven otherwise. The problem is that we assume way too much integrity on the part of secular academics and “scholars”. The intellectual corruption in the academic world when it comes to these topics is rampant. I am not even talking about the Humanities, where wide options of speculation and interpretation of data and evidence are part and parcel of the various disciplines. I am talking about the HARD SCIENCES.

    Example: I happen to have a real expertise in the current state of Origin of Life research. It’s not difficult to be an expert since the 160 year old quest to find an atheist-friendly Origin of Life (since the publication of Darwin’s theory) has been an absolute, utter failure. Atheist researcher Eugene Koonin calls it the “dirty rarely mentioned secret” of the world of biology and chemistry. Origin of LIfe expert Paul Davies (ASU):”We haven’t a clue”. The notion that there is some unguided pathway from a chemical soup to a bacterial cell, which contains (without exaggeration) the most sophisticated nano-technology in the known universe – technology that would require sophistication which is beyond our wildest engineering dreams – is completely absurd. That life had to be created by a “super intellect” is patently obvious to any objective rational person. LIsten, however, to the way the dilemma is presented by a world renowned chemist and Origin of Life expert, the late Dr. Robert Shapiro, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at NYU: “One favorite analogy of believers involves the discovery of a watch..it would function only if its components had been put together …by a watchmaker. Similarly, the existence of bacteria and other living beings, all of which are much more complex than a watch, implies the existence of a creator…WE WILL NOT TAKE THIS ESCAPE ROUTE IN OUR BOOK, FOR WE ARE COMMITTED TO SEEKING AN ANSWER WITHIN THE REALM OF SCIENCE….WE CAN ONLY RESOLVE [THE PROBLEM] BY INTRODUCING SUPERNATURAL FORCES. WE MUST LOOK FOR ANOTHER SOLUTION IF WE WISH TO REMAIN WITHIN SCIENCE”
    Robert Shapiro (a self declared agnostic) was a world class scientist and strikingly candid about the flaws in Origin of LIfe research. At the same time – without even realizing – he threw the search for truth into the garbage can. He explicitly states that he is COMMITTED to finding a SCIENTIFIC answer, not the TRUE ANSWER.

    If Robert Shapiro shamelessly threw truth under the bus to further his “scientific “(re: Secular) agenda, imagine what others are doing. We need to teach our children that we live in an Alma D’shikra. This is only one example from an endless litany of secularist propaganda and distortion. It’s not a split decision, it is a unanimous decision, if not a knockout.

    • Bob Miller says:

      Some hard scientific disciplines remain that are not pressed into service to buttress denial of HaShem, but make true, useful discoveries when scientific biases are overcome.
      See: https://www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/201703/shechtman.cfm
      https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2Fs11837-012-0328-y.pdf

    • Dov says:

      This characterization is bit unfair – the problem with a supernatural explanation is that there’s no evidence or way to prove it objectively. The idea of “remaining within science” is to be able to explain the process in a rational and measurable way, and by its very nature that can’t be done with supernatural phenomenon.

      • MK says:

        This characterization is also a bit unfair!
        The Multiverse theory, Stephen Hawking’s only answer to the complexity of the universe, is subjected by world class scientists to the same critique. By definition it can not be observed or proven. It requires a “leap of faith”!

    • emet le'amito says:

      among the areas where you might not be an expert are probability theory and/or logic. 1) by simple probabilistic calculation, given the magnitude of the universe, a monkey may have written Shakespeare and a random occurrence created the world we know. 2) scientists like experts in many other fields dispute vast numbers of the details about the evolutionary process; that dispute does not imply any weakness in the general existence of an evolutionary process.

      as traditional Jews, we have a number of fundamental beliefs. while they are beliefs not demonstrated facts, they all should, nonetheless,not condradict rational thought.

      • Bob Miller says:

        1. Do you believe that, in principle, mortal man can account for all phenomena in the universe using reason?
        2. If a “random occurrence” could create the “world we know”, what could create the total situation leading into that event?
        3. Are you sure this comment didn’t write itself?

    • David Ohsie says:

      This comment demonstrates very clearly why it is hard to take accusations of infidelity to Orthodoxy seriously.
      According to this comment, anyone who believes in the evidence-based reasoning is Apikores promulgating secularist propaganda.

  22. MK says:

    Stephen Hawking in “Grand Design” says explicitly that if our universe is the only one, the fine tuning of the our world can not be explained and it would seem to be “miraculous” if it happened randomly. He offers the Multiverse theory as the only way to explain it.

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