Saturday, December 24, 2005

Slifkin: A Political Analysis

The following is a theory I devised to explain some recent developments in the Slifkin Affair. It is entirely conjecture and could be totally wrong. Please take it as nothing more than a fanciful theory.

Here are the facts:

1. About three weeks ago, three members of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of Agudath Israel of America--R. Shmuel Kamenetsky, R. Aharon Schechter, and R. Ya'akov Perlow--signed letters condemning R. Slifkin in somewhat vague terms, almost a full year after the original scandal surfaced and after months of relative quiet.

2. Agudath Israel of America's official magazine, The Jewish Observer, just published an article by R. Avi Shafran on Intelligent Design (available online here). This issue was certainly ready for press when the above letters were released.

3. The Jewish Observer is extremely careful about the articles it prints, requiring careful review by its editorial board and frequently members of the Moetzes. Articles often take months to be published.

4. R. Shafran's article contains a number of ideas that are similar to those that R. Slifkin teaches, albeit much vaguer and less forceful.


1. This article states explicitly that belief in evolution is acceptable and implicitly that belief in a world older than 6,000 years is also acceptable.

2. The article was written, reviewed, and approved before the above letters were signed.


1. The letters from the members of the Moetzes were quite unexpected because those members had privately told many people that they were not opposed to R. Slifkin's ideas.

2. Other members of the Moetzes are very opposed to those ideas, so it is quite surprising that The Jewish Observer would print R. Shafran's article.

The Theory:

A deal was struck. The members of the Moetzes who oppose those ideas would allow this article to be published--and those ideas essentially kashered at least bedi'eved--if the other members of the Moetzes would sign letters opposing R. Slifkin. This way, unity is maintained by opposing R. Slifkin--whose attitude was less deferential than was desired--while those who need such ideas in order to reconcile Torah and science can find them and remain within the Agudath Israel camp.

Note how vague R. Shafran's article is on this. I suspect that it went through very careful editing and many revisions.

Problem with this theory:

I haven't heard a word about this from anyone. Nothing. I usually hear such conspiracy theories but I cooked this one up all by myself.

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Favorites More