Thursday, February 10, 2005


Went to YU last night to pick up some books. Maybe I've read too many blogs, but I was sort of surprised that no one was outside protesting the presence of Slifkin books inside. Cynically, I also thought some Yasher book reps might be outside hyping the ban. (K'feerah! Get your K'feerah!) I was wrong about that, too.

Not only that, but the dreaded books were hard to find. No special table. No special display. Not even an anxious Gil Student in a long coat, whispering, "Psss. Hey. Buddy. C'mere."

Instead they were piled, nonchalantly, in the middle of the mussar/hashkofa table. When I picked one up, the skin on my hand didn't peel. No one hissed or booed, or shot a dirty look my way. I mean other than the girl who thought I was staring at her, but that had nothing to do with Slifkin.

Speaking seriously, I was surprised to see how lousy the production values are on these books. The cover art on both Hyrax and Creatures is childish and also bad. The font isn't much better and Creatures designer unfortunately decided to set the page margins at 2.5 inches, rather than the standard half-inch. This is a trick we all used in College when we were short on the page count, but why is it used here? Did someone think it made the book seem weighty? It doesn't. The affect is rather like reading one of those terrible home-made pamphlets that litter shuls on Friday evening.

And what about the content? Well, I understand why the first part of Creatures made Rabbi Wachtfogel's payos curl. This isn't the place for a book review (that's Gil's beat anyway) so let me just say that the rumors are true. He does say that the Sages are falliable, and he does back the point up with copious quotes from Rishonim and Achronim and examples from the Talmud itself.

If you're the sort of Jew who finds this shocking, or even troubling, you really shouldn't be on the Internet. In fact, you really shouldn't be living in this century.