Two New Slifkin Supporters
Long-time followers of this blog remember the height of the Slifkin Torah-Science Affair, in which I strongly supported the standard views R. Natan Slifkin adopted in accepting evolution, an ancient universe and the fallibility of the Sages’ science (see these posts, among many: link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4). In two recent books, prominent rabbis adopt the views for which R. Slifkin was castigated.
R. Jonathan Sacks, arguably the greatest living Jewish theologian, recently published The Great Partnership: God, Science and the Search for Meaning, which I hope to discuss at length soon. Chapter 11 of this book is titled “Darwin” and in it R. Sacks accepts evolution of all life, including humans, and the mechanism “survival of the fittest.” In an appendix, R. Sacks defends his position by quoting many of the rishonim and acharonim we discussed in this context.
Interestingly, R. Sacks thanks in his Acknowledgments two dayanim from the London Beth Din “who read the manuscript and made many important suggestions.” Presumably R. Sacks took this initiative to avoid a disagreement similar to what he experienced with The Dignity of Difference (see this post and the links at its end: link). However, I think we can only safely deduce that the London Beth Din feels this book does not rise to the level of deserving condemnation. Anything more is speculation.
R. Yaakov Ariel is the rabbi of Ramat Gan and a leading Religious-Zionist authority. In his recent book, Halakhah Be-Yameinu: Morashtah, Limudah, Hora’asah Ve-Yisumah, his twelfth chapter addresses legal rulings based on mistaken science. Quoting from the Rambam, R. Avraham Ben Ha-Rambam and others we cited here, R. Ariel fully accepts that the Sages of the Talmud utilized the science of their times, which was sometimes incorrect. His interest lies in whether to change such a halakhah, which he is hesitant to do for various reasons he explains.
Years after R. Slifkin was condemned, prominent rabbis continue to publicly adopt his positions, justifying both his and my stand against the unfair and counterproductive ban.
Submit a Response
You must be logged in to submit a response.