Wednesday, December 21, 2005

An Open Letter to the Israeli Yated Neeman

In your recent editorial about the censorship of R. Nosson Slifkin's books, you wrote:

Many books include ideas mentioned by Slifkin, but only his were condemned. Why? Because of "the impudent and audacious spirit of throwing off the yoke (prikas ol) of the mesorah miSinai and our sages (rabboseinu hakedoshim) who are its bearers (maggidehoh)," that is not found in those others.
I fear that these sentences have raised more questions than they have answered. The implication is that had R. Slifkin written his book with a tone that you would consider more Torahdik but containing the same ideas, the books would not have been condemned. Does this mean that the Gedolim would sanction a book written in a mussardik tone and claiming any of the following:

1. The world is billions of years old
2. While God created everything in this world, man's physical body evolved from lower life forms and only his soul was uniquely created for humans
3. Chazal, despite their unimaginable brilliance and spiritual greatness, might have on extremely rare occasions relied on secular scientists who have now been proven wrong?

If not, I fail to understand the point of your editorial. It does not matter whether the books were written in the spirit of Torah or not. Those Gedolim who objected to the books were condemning the ideas within them and not necessarily their spirit.

Thank you for clarifying your editorial that raised so many important questions.

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