Thursday, January 27, 2005


This arrived in the in-box today. I wasn't going to publish it. After all, it isn't a humorous post, and the JIB-voters are looking for funny. Then - and I promise this was a quick decision - I thought: Screw it. This is more important

Dear Dov: Will you please post this letter?
Yes. Here it is, with some edits.

The ban on Rabbi Slifkin's books has far-reaching repercussions. It has caused pain and confusion. For instance, if you are a teacher who has used R' Slifkin, and the Rishonim upon he relies, to strengthen your student's faith in traditional Judaism, you have just been informed that you taught heresy. The students who passed through your classrom were taught kefirah. By you.

If you are a kiruv worker, an NCSY advisor, or even a friendly person who speaks with non-observant colleagues have you, in your attempts to explain or to defend Judaism, been spreading views that are counter to our tradition?

In this group, I include myself and I feel the pain. Rav Dovid Feinstein just declared that I have been spreading heresy, and that is a source of confusion. He has just declared that I, and everyone I have influenced, are outside the pale of Orthodox Judaism. If he is right, then I am guilty of very serious offenses that make me shudder. If he is wrong, or he never intended it this way, then I am even more hurt.

Rav Malkiel Kotler has announced that Rav Aryeh Kaplan and all of the many Jews who were influenced by him are heretics. Everyone who had some contact with him surely feels pain over this. Was Rav Kaplan really a heretic? All those college students who became frum because of him, are they really closet heretics? Is the frum community really so infected by this heresy? Baalei tshuvah, in particular, must be extremely hurt by this declaration that, in truth, they have never become truly frum.

Rav Matisyahu Salomon has disqualified just about every member of the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists. Should the group be disbanded? Every member of AOJS, and every Jew who respects the doctors and scientists who dedicate their lives to Torah and science, has been hurt by this.

Every shul rabbi who has discussed this topic has infected his congregants with heresy. Can that damage ever be undone? Has the rabbi unwittingly harmed the souls of the people who were placed in his charge? The distress many are going through is unimaginable.

It is likely that the roshei yeshiva have not yet heard from people removed from the centers of their communities. Shouldn't they hear from us how much pain and confusion people are suffering? If we want to balance out the personal influence that those within the yeshiva world have on the roshei yeshiva, we need to voice our pain. Let the roshei yeshiva know that we have been hurt. With one fell swoop, thousands of Bnei Torah who have dedicated their lives to Yahadus have been written off. We, our rabbeim and our students have been pushed michutz lamachaneh.

Let us call Rav Dovid Feinstein, Rav Malkiel Kotler, Rav Matisyahu Salomon and the others, and, with all the respect they deserve, express from our hearts how much we have been hurt. Let us pour out our souls, cry over the phone, share our grief over the position in which we have suddenly been placed. Let us express the enormous pain that this ban has caused and beg either for clarifications or at least sympathy.

I ask every reader to forward this message along to anyone to whom you think this may be relevant. Everyone who signed the ban against Rav Slifkin should be called until you personally get through to him and express your personal pain. Be respectful. Be humble. Be honest. And be persistent. Keep calling until you get through to him. Leave specific messages and keep calling until you speak directlywith the rosh yeshiva and relay to him your personal pain. He needs to hear it from each and every one of us.

I do not think it is appropriate to post phone numbers in this venue. Try

Rav Malkiel Kotler is listed in Lakewood, NJ, under the name A M Kotler
Rav Matisyahu Salomon is listed in Lakewood, NJ, under the name M Salomon
RavElyah Wachtfogel is listed in Fallsburg, NY, under the name Eli Wachtfogel
Rav Chaim Stein is listed in Wickliffe, OH, under the name Chaim Stein
Rav Dovid Feinstein can be reached at his yeshiva, listed in NY, NY, as Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem
Rav Meyer Hershkowitz is listed in Stamford, CT, as Meyer Hershkowitz
Rav Raphael Schorr is listed in Monsey, NY, as Raphael Schorr