Sunday, March 27, 2005

Conversation with a BT

This is an edited version of a conversation I had tonight with someone at whose house I stopped by to drop off some tzedakah money he is collecting for a visitor in need. He's a long-time ba'al teshuvah who has struggled greatly to raise children in the yeshivah community.

Him: Did you see this? I know you're selling his books. (Hands me pashkevil against R. Nosson Slifkin that was put in his father-in-law's house in Boro Park)

Me: Do you know what this is all about? They are saying that believing that the world is millions of years old is kefirah.

Him: But that's not a problem because you can read the Torah that way. I remember in yeshiva...

Me: No, now that's kefirah.

Him: What do you mean? In yeshiva they taught me...

Me: No, they taught you kefirah according to those Gedolim.

Him: So what am I supposed to believe?

Me: Do you remember at the wedding a few weeks ago when I was talking to your rosh yeshiva? I was speaking with him about this. He told me, and I quote, "The Gedolim are wrong on this. Don't listen to them."

Him: What do you mean? I'm supposed to listen to the Gedolim but now they're telling me that I'm a kofer and my rosh yeshiva is saying I shouldn't listen to the Gedolim! Why is this world so crazy? So who am I supposed to listen to?

UPDATE: After further consideration, here is a short and incomplete list of moderate gedolim:

1. The Roshei Yeshiva at YU, including: R. Hershel Schachter, R. Mordechai Willig, R. Mayer Twersky, R. Michael Rosensweig, R. J. David Bleich. If there is anything to learn from this controversy, it is that the moderate yeshiva crowd is less welcome in the yeshiva world. It is time to embrace YU, despite all of it flaws. (I don't quite know whether to list R. Gedaliah Schwartz with YU or not.)

2. R. Yisroel Belsky (he's not listed first because of alphabetical order), R. Dovid Cohen, R. Shmuel Kamenetsky, R. Aharon Schechter, R. Aharon Feldman, R. Yaakov Perlow (to some degree). Granted, they all have their own unique personalities. But they are the voices of moderation, the current representatives of traditional Litvish openness.

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Favorites More