After six years, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on a specific aspect of the Slifkin Torah-Science Controversy. R. Natan Slifkin recently commented on the incredible disgrace that has befallen his most active detractors during that controversy, culminating in the least of the shaming, the recent broadcasting throughout cyberspace of a detractor’s childish yet revolting insults of a prominent scholar and leader (unquestionably a lesson that we must always speak with words and tone as if they were widely broadcast). While this cannot compare to the financial, sexual and legal scandals facing other opponents, it still adds to the stunning tales of falls from grace. I would like to examine a different angle — the timing of the ban.

A Time to Ban, A Time to Defer

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I. A Season for Everything

After six years, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on a specific aspect of the Slifkin Torah-Science Controversy. R. Natan Slifkin recently commented on the remarkable disgrace that has befallen his most active detractors during that controversy (link), culminating in the least of the shaming, the recent broadcasting throughout cyberspace of a detractor’s childish yet revolting insults of a prominent scholar and leader (unquestionably a lesson that we must always speak with words and tone as if they were widely broadcast). While this cannot compare to the financial, sexual and legal scandals facing other opponents, it still adds to the stunning tales of falls from grace. I would like to examine a different angle — the timing of the ban.

From a Maimonidean perspective, Judaism is one giant revolt against paganism. But even those with other approaches agree that there are specific prohibitions to distance Jews from idolatry. One of these is to refrain from being a me’onen (Lev. 19:26; Deut. 18:10). The Talmud (Sanhedrin 65b) quotes R. Akiva who explains this rule as prohibiting “calculat[ing] the times and hours, saying, ‘Today is propitious for setting forth; tomorrow for making purchases…'” This is a prohibition against seasonal superstition. You are not allowed to say that a specific time is appropriate for any given activitiy. Time is even and equal, without inherent bias towards particular actions.

This prohibition is quoted by later authorities, including the Shulchan Arukh (Yoreh De’ah 179:1). Medieval scholars debated whether astrology is subsumed under this prohibition. Those who viewed it as a reliable science considered it permissible and those who denied its efficacy, such as Maimonides, forbade it (cf. Beis Yosef, ad loc. – link).

II. A Season of Judgment

And yet, despite this prohibition, Judaism is a seasonal religion. The holidays throughout the year create rhythms and themes. There are times to mourn, times to rejoice, a season for love and a season for repentance. These are not functions of the inherent qualities of the times but of the themes determining how we are expected to act then. The spiritual ups and downs of the year are guides to our own expected behaviors.

The month of Elul is a time of preparation for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a season of repentance. The Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, the ten days of repentance from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur, are not only a more intense period of repentance but also a time when we are being judged by the divine court. We tremble in fear of the life-or-death verdict over the upcoming year. The Rema records a practice that within this period, communities do not enact a ban, a cherem, against deviants (Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 602:1). The Netziv (Meshiv Davar 1:66) explains that when we face judgment, it is improper to judge others. Our fear for our own judgments prevents us from rendering judgment on anyone else. The Magen Avraham (429:8) writes that this custom extends throughout the month of Tishrei, which the Chasam Sofer (Responsa, Choshen Mishpat 77) says is the practice in his region.

III. A Disastrous Ban

This is one of the many surprising aspects of the attempted ban on R. Natan Slifkin’s books. His persecution began, remarkably, during this period of judgment, when enacting a ban is forbidden by custom. As he wrote to me on that fateful day six years ago when he was initially confronted and threatened, it all began three days before Yom Kippur, during the height of the repentance season (link). The blame for that aspect of the controversy lies with the activists/trouble-makers, not with the signatories of the ban, although we must continue to question why great rabbis would give their names to questionable figures, many of whom have now been publicly disgraced.

Looking back, we see a ban that was a disastrous generator of disillusionment. The improper timing demonstrates the angry haste behind the ban, the rush to attack without forethought, the lack of the self-awareness that is a fundamental component of repentance. The personal trajectories of its proponents reveal a ban that was conceived in anger, born in sin, implemented with recklessness and concluded with disgrace.

Related posts:

  • Announcement of the ban: link
  • The Slifkin Torah-Science Controversy link
  • Archives, Major Treatments: link

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

59 comments

  1. perhaps it can be said, to make an analogy from another religion, that in this case, R’ Slifkin’s karma ran over his opponents’ dogma

  2. The personal trajectories of its proponents reveal a ban that was conceived in anger, born in sin, implemented with recklessness and concluded with disgrace.
    ==============================================
    How about “allows me to draw a possible lesson” rather than “reveal”. I’d venture a guess that if one were to look at all the damage done in similar cases in the same way, certainly over a limited time period such as 6 years,that one might conclude that the evil prospers.

    KT

  3. I don’t think that the ban was specifically issued during the 10 days of repentance on purpose. It just coincided providentially. Furthermore, although the initial ban may have been uttered in haste, there were many Roshei Yeshiva who subsequently stood for the ban, issuing new letters of condemnation many months later.

  4. > “Time is even and equal, without inherent bias towards particular actions.”

    I wonder how the teaching that “there is a specific moment each day (which Bilaam knew) when God is angry” fits into this.

  5. “although we must continue to question why great rabbis would give their names to questionable figures”

    –With all due respect Gil, I believe you have it backwards. While I generally agree that one should give talmidei chakhamim the benefit of the doubt, in this case I cannot understand how the we “blame” the activists alone, and only “question” the “great rabbis.”
    Even if we were to grant that these signatories could not have foreseen the outcome of the fiasco (and one could argue, if only via a strawman, that they should have foreseen it), they should have asked a public mehila for the needless pain they caused a God-fearing Jew who sought to act only le-hagdil Torah u’leha’adirah. This is especially true given the respect R’ Slifkin showed them despite their treatment of him. Their ignorance of the current state of communications technology is not an excuse.
    At the time of the ban, I was in my formative years in Yeshiva, and where I might once have cherished their Torah, I sadly cannot, in good conscience, consider the signatories “great rabbis.”

  6. If I put my name on something that gets published, that means I’m responsible for everything in that publication. Every word, every number. I’ve published many dozens of scientific journal articles and I stand by all of them. There have been rare times when I’ve told my co-authors that if something wasn’t changed my name would be removed from the author list. On one occasion a correction had to be made because of a minor error.

    I take this very seriously and I see no reason why it should be any different for rabbis.

  7. Also to the point, if they can’t control use of their names, what can they control? (And how can they ever be trusted anyway?)

  8. I am quite disturbed by the schadenfreude if not down right triumphalism of this post as well as R. Slifkin’s initial post on his blog. Elul is not a time for that either. The Slifkin controversy was about the legitimacy of the rational scientific worldview in Judaism. One important element of this world view going back to the Rambam, is a certain skepticism with the notion that the world works according to a clear and strict, divinely guided moral economy. Advocates of this view should show some humility in their efforts to explain the moral significance of worldly events.

  9. I had a similar condemnation experience as Rabbi Slifkin from a well-known prominent Toronto rabbi who is now “retiring” after being exposed for years of inappropriate “association” with a married woman.

    -Bathurst Boy

    EDITED BY MODERATOR

  10. “””The rush to ban without forethought”””
    If someone suggests a certain medicine is poison one doesnt wait till its proved. One bans it straight away. Even in a time when one is not supposed to ban.
    One can always retract later.

  11. “If someone suggests a certain medicine is poison one doesnt wait till its proved. One bans it straight away. Even in a time when one is not supposed to ban.
    One can always retract later.”

    No, one doesn’t. One first considers whether there is any evidence at all behind the suggestion, and then one considers whether the harm one might do by withholding the medicine outweighs the risk of damage being done by continuing to use it while the matter is studied further. This is especially true if the suggestion comes from a party who has a known ax to grind.

    “I am quite disturbed by the schadenfreude if not down right triumphalism of this post as well as R. Slifkin’s initial post on his blog. Elul is not a time for that either.” Hear! Hear!

  12. “Advocates of this view should show some humility in their efforts to explain the moral significance of worldly events.”

    I’ve often suggested to my students and colleagues that it is appopriate to be a bit less certain in scientific conclusions. We’ve been burned on some pretty big things in my lifetime by over-enthusiastic interpretation of data.

    (That said, the science about which Rabbi Slifkin got banned isn’t going to be one of those things that gets overturned; the evidence is just too strong.)

    “If someone suggests a certain medicine is poison one doesnt wait till its proved. One bans it straight away. Even in a time when one is not supposed to ban. One can always retract later.”

    Acutally, we don’t do that. After Newt Gingrich called the FDA the #1 job killer in America, it got quite lenient in its drug approval process. As a result, there have been several very high profile bans of approved drugs.

    To be fair, though, this is almost an unsolvable problem. Many serious adverse events take place at a rate of 1 in 10,000 or less. If you only give the drug to 3,000 people as part of the efficacy studies, you will likely never see such adverse events. And if you demand 30,000 individuals take part in clinical studies before you approve a drug, you will have few if any drugs ever get submitted for approval.

  13. Although my example is medicine, which as you rightly point out may if not really be poison save someone’s life and there may be some reason for delay. In our case no harm will come if no one meanwhile reads this banned book. There is always the argument why ban books at all? Aren’t people capable of making up their own minds. I personally agree with this principle, and if someone doesn’t like a book he should write a book against it. But it seems we are talking really about people in ‘kiruv’ reading it. I dont believe in ‘kiruv’ at all. It causes more problems than it solves. There is a well known saying that touching holy wont make you holy but that is not the case with ‘tumah’. There is no real way of explaining why judaism is better than any other religion, so kiruv never really works. And i dont believe in learning or teaching Torah till one is a committed Jew. That has to come first. Apart from the fact already mentioned here that men teach women against the Torah. But this is done by ‘great’ rabbis today of the most extreme orthodox circles. Even chasidish schools are staffed by men. The gemoro says one must not look at a nice girl or any married woman. They have their excuses as usual that otherwise who knows what will happen so everything is allowed. The real truth that they enjoy looking at girls never comes across. In their papers homodia yated they dont have pictures of women i cant see why looking at them in the flesh is better.

  14. wellthoughtout: I don’t think that the ban was specifically issued during the 10 days of repentance on purpose. It just coincided providentially.

    That’s precisely the problem!

    Charlie Hall: If I put my name on something that gets published, that means I’m responsible for everything in that publication.

    I think the expectations vary by field. For example, some of the signatories of the Statement of Principles on homosexuality have said that they don’t agree with everything in it but signed it anyway.

    moshe shoshan: I am quite disturbed by the schadenfreude if not down right triumphalism of this post as well as R. Slifkin’s initial post on his blog. Elul is not a time for that either.

    Elul is a time for introspection and reevaluation. If that leads you, at least on some issues, to comfortable conclusions, then why ignore them?

    chaim1:“””The rush to ban without forethought”””
    If someone suggests a certain medicine is poison one doesnt wait till its proved.

    The first rule is to do no harm.

  15. I think it is clear that Hashem decided to punish all of the nasty perpetrators of lies against Rav Slifkin. G-d evidently believes in science.

  16. I think it is clear that Hashem decided to punish all of the nasty perpetrators of lies against Rav Slifkin. G-d evidently believes in science.

    Had this controversy never happened, 2 of the 3 people mentioned here would still have been disgraced (the 3rd’s disgrace was directly caused by statements made in the course of the controversy). For those two, the commonality to the “Slifkin controversy”, at most, would be that common aspects of their personalities or ideologies led to both controversies (and who really knows). Had they not digraced another, then the lessons people would have taken from their own disgrace, I imagine, would be somewhat different.

    I find the further one is from the actual events, the more one looks to big overarching theories to explain them that may or may not bear a correlation to the real circumstances. Not knowing these persons I can not speculate as to their actual causes for their respective crimes/moral failings nor with how they reconciled that with taking central communal roles, with attacking perceived lapses in others or following the proper forms for such attacks as are set out by halacha. I can not say if there was a common trait that caused all these things amongst both persons. I guess that is to say, it would likely be a mistake to see their disgrace primarily through the lens of how they tried to disgrace R’ Slifkin, though certainly that aspect is useful for deriving some lessons learned.

  17. Chaim:

    Banning a book even briefly has negative effects on the reputation of the author. And if one is not willing to retract a ban because doing so will weaken respect for daas torah, the effect is permanent. And if a gadol bans something and then has to admit he was misled and retract, that might be OK once, but if it happens repeatedly it will lessen the reputation of the gadol and thus of the Torah itself, chas v’shalom.

  18. Has anyone actually heard of a temporary ban that worked out well, preserving the author’s reputation and standing?

    Not only that, but in recent memory I can think of only one example of a recognized Godol signing a letter of prohibition and subsequently acknowledging that it may (!) have been a mistake, and this is R. Shmuel Kamenetsky regarding the ban on the Lipa Schmelzer concert at Madison Square Garden.

    “Asked if it is unusual for distinguished rabbonim to sign a kol korei on the say-so of one person, Rabbi Kamenetzky was candid: “Usually we meet together. This time, with time pressing, we did not get together. And maybe it was not the right thing.””

    http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/article.php?p=15005

  19. “Charlie Hall: If I put my name on something that gets published, that means I’m responsible for everything in that publication.

    I think the expectations vary by field. For example, some of the signatories of the Statement of Principles on homosexuality have said that they don’t agree with everything in it but signed it anyway.”

    If this is not made publicly explicit, then they can, should and will be held responsible for everything written in that document. If you don’t agree with all of it, then don’t sign. That’s how real life works.

  20. Being a charedi rabbi means never having to say you’re sorry.

  21. Being a charedi rabbi means never having to say you’re sorry.

    Nice to see that at least one reader of your musser shmooze took the lesson to heart.

  22. really? so the blame lies with “activists” and not signatories? who knew? do let us know what the results of your – i infer from your remark to be ongoing – “questioning” why “great rabbis” might be appearing to do questionable things. i suspect most adults have internalized the proposition that if you sign something you own it. certainly the legal system has done so. but “great rabbis” apparently are different. so go-along-to-get-along signings by “great rabbis” who would seem (naively to an observer, to be sure) to value clubby solidarity over either independence or truth, are to be assessed with a different moral compass (assess with a compass? hopelessly mixed metaphor, but too lazy to untangle just now) than applies to ordinary folk. meanwhile, as i await a more sophisticated explanation to emerge from r. gil’s questionings, i shall continue to think dishonesty about the culpability of the truly culpable ill becomes anyone.

  23. R’ Mechy: I must disagree with your assertion that signatories are also to blame for the *timing* of the statement’s implementation.

  24. I don’t like hirhurim’s response to the schadenfreude accusation. Elul is supposed to be a time for examining the deeds of others.
    That said, I don’t think that the blogs’ observations about the characters of the condemners constitutes schadenfreude. The public shame encountered by these people since their actions against R. Slifkin is more like a gilui milta than a punishment. It is important to know where accusations and ideas are coming from if you want to know how reliable they are. That is definitely the point that Rabbi Slifkin was making.

  25. or perhaps we might seek part of the answer in the insight of the N’tziv, who writes in his intro to the ha’ameq dovor, that being a talmid chokhom – an omeil battorah – does not automatically confer yashrus. explaining that the book of b’resihis was also known as the sefer hayyoshor because our founding fathers A, Y, &Y possessed the additional quality of yashrus and speaking of the destruction of the bais miqdosh, he writes of (of chazal!) “she’hoyu tzaddiqim v’chasidim v’amlei torah, avol loa hoyu y’shorim. ..choshdu es me she’nohag she’lo k’daas b’yiras hashem she’hu tz’duqi v’apikores..vh”q”b”h aino soveil l’tzaddiqim ko’elu..” (‘’they were tzaddiqs and chosids and applied themselves strenuously to the study of torah – but they weren’t y’shorim-straight ones. ..they cast suspicion on anyone who whose practice of fear of god was different from their own, calling them Sadducees and apikorsim.. and god will not suffer such tzaddiqim as these..)

    if we seek to m’lameid z’khus where we can, as of course we should, we may note the extreme age of a number of the signatories to the various bans and appropriately absolve them of any responsibility. after all, luchos u’sh’vorei luchos munochim b’aron. but that still leaves plenty of guilty.

  26. Hirhurim on August 30, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    R’ Mechy: I must disagree with your assertion that signatories are also to blame for the *timing* of the statement’s implementation.

    huh? timing is your chiddush, not an additional piling-on of mine. i did not mean to make any assertions at all blaming signatories specifically about the timing. it was rather the substance i objected to any time, and for which i feel you have given too easy a pass when considering who is ultimately responsible. i imagine timing was was not considered at all, rather than ill-considered.

  27. Timing was the context of this post: “The blame for that aspect of the controversy lies with the activists/trouble-makers, not with the signatories of the ban”

  28. I, like Mechy, have trouble shifting the blame from the Rabbis to the “activists.”

    How many of us who read this blog — and how many people of integrity and intelligence that we know (even non-Jews!) — would have acted as the signatories did, adding our names to a public condemnation of another human being regarding a matter that we had never troubled ourselves to investigate?

  29. Is that the same Mechy Frankel prominently profiled in the YUTODAY (or whatever they call it) that arrived in my mailbox today!
    KT

  30. Am I mistaken, R. Gil, or have you declined to condemn the ban? You write that the ban was “conceived in anger, born in sin, implemented with recklessness and concluded with disgrace.” In other words, its intention wasn’t pure, its timing was terrible, and bad things resulted from it.

    But were its contents incorrect? In other words, was the ban WRONG?

  31. Of course I believe that the ban was incorrect but that was not the subject of this post. See the related posts linked to above.

  32. “some of the signatories of the Statement of Principles on homosexuality have said that they don’t agree with everything in it but signed it anyway.”

    Had I been asked, I would not have signed the statement.

    “G-d evidently believes in science”

    Of course! G-d was the one who created all these inconvenient scientific facts!!!

    “Banning a book even briefly has negative effects on the reputation of the author. ”

    It used to be the case that the best thing for an author’s sales would be to have someone try to ban his book. Everyone would wonder what was so juicy and run out to buy it.

  33. Charlie, I think that’s still the case. But R’ Slifkin’s books are worth it anyway.

  34. The Rema records a practice that within this period, communities do not enact a ban, a cherem, against deviants (Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 602:1). The Netziv (Meshiv Davar 1:66) explains that when we face judgment, it is improper to judge others. Our fear for our own judgments prevents us from rendering judgment on anyone else.

    Straw Man.
    For the record, the ban issued during that time did NOT put Rabbi Slifkin in Cherem. It did not pass judgment on him as a person. It simply banned his books. It was made quite clear by many signatories that Rabbi Slifkin in not deemed a heretic or a “deviant” but only that his books contain heresy.

  35. lawrence kaplan

    David Kornreich:

    I just reread the original ban issued on Erev YK and urge everyone else to do so. Your summary is misleading. Formally, R. Slifkin wa not put into Herem. But he was accused of mocking (mezalzel) traditional Jewish belief and distorting and falsifying the words of the Sages. Twice the phrase “Afra le-pumei” — “May his mouth be stuffed with dust” was used. But hey, Noson, nothing personal.

    Moreover, one letter specically stated that R. Slifkin be barred from engaging in any further kiruv work. If that is not a judgment on the person, one affecting his very livelihood, I do not know what is.

  36. Lawrence Kaplan:

    Moreover, one letter specically stated that R. Slifkin be barred from engaging in any further kiruv work. If that is not a judgment on the person, one affecting his very livelihood, I do not know what is.

    This is no different than the deprivation of livelihood by banning his books.
    I don’t see why you find it difficult to distinguish between passing judgment on a person’s character or sinful behavior, and pragmatically preventing someone from spreading heretical ideas.

    The language of the ban you quote is not polite, but this is completely besides the point. It is not placing Rabbi Slifkin in cherem.
    Rabbi Student’s sources on cherem in Elul/Tishrei are completely missing the target here.

  37. The Rama does not specify that we do not ban people during this time. We do not issue charamim. And even if this is not technically a cherem, it still violates the underlying purpose of the minhag.

  38. What happens to the disputants in this case should not bias us one way or the other regarding the merits of their arguments.

  39. Of course it should.

  40. Hirhurim, do you ever wonder why some Tzaddikim suffer in Olam HaZeh?

  41. Are you equating embezzling millions of dollars with tzadik ve-ra lo??? These are cases where we learn that these opponents of R. Slifkin were lowlifes.

  42. Are you contending that all his prominent opponents are lowlifes?

  43. Not to mention how do you account for R’ Slifkin’s own suffering?

  44. Are you contending that all his prominent opponents are lowlifes?

    No.

    Not to mention how do you account for R’ Slifkin’s own suffering?

    I don’t think you’re following the discussion. But regardless of his suffering, let’s say that it can’t compare to the humiliation of his main detractors.

  45. Does R’ Slifkin really believe that the truth of his assertions about creation, etc., stands or falls based on what happens to people?

  46. No and neither do I. So what?

  47. OK, gloat on.

  48. Bob, things *happened* to R’ Slifkin. The things we’re talking about here were *done by* the people who attacked him. There’s a world of difference there.

  49. Keep on gloating, Nachum. 😉

  50. I reserve schadenfreude only for those who, in my humble and purely objective opinion, deserve it. 🙂

  51. The Rama does not specify that we do not ban people during this time.

    So you concede that the wording of the post distorted the Rema?

    We do not issue charamim. And even if this is not technically a cherem, it still violates the underlying purpose of the minhag.

    Not according to the underlying purpose for the minhag that you cited from the Netziv. The banners did NOT judge Rabbi Slifkin as a person.

    I think you should retract the sources you have marshaled as quoted by you in this post. They simply do not reflect this situation.

  52. Very well, Mr. Kornreich, let’s try a hypothetical: I think that your writings are hate-filled and intolerant, full of falsehoods both as to facts as well as hashkafa. Your actions have led to others making false accusations and have increased machloket and sinat chinam, and in fact led to disrespect for gedolim.

    But hey, I’m not judging you personally at all. In fact, I think your writings in no way reflect your actual views.

    No, wait, I just made it worse. Forget it. I think you are a great person. No personal judgments at all. I didn’t even mention an “afra l’puma.”

  53. You aren’t making a good analogy because heresy cannot be “hate-filled”–which is a character trait.
    All the rest I agree to: it is not judging me personally whatsoever.

    The facts remain that Rav Moshe Shapiro and Rav Eliyashiv explicitly stopped short of condemning Rabbi Slifkin’s motives. They noted that he was writing leshem shomayim and is simply horribly, mistaken in core matters of belief.
    I honestly don’t see any character judgment in this kind of condemnation.
    Do You?
    Where?

  54. I do, at the very least, because we live in a world (or at least charedim do) where being “mistaken” in matters of belief leads to very real shunning and personal judgment. At least that.

    And, of course, someone whose “mahus” and parnassa are both closely tied to his writings will suffer in both if his writings are (wrongly, as it happens) condemned.

    That, again, is the least of it.

  55. The ban said that he can’t teach.

    As to distorting the words of the Rema, I was slightly imprecise. Not the best practice but not a big deal.

    As to the comparison you draw on your blog with Rav Yehuda, Rav Yehuda suffered yissurin. He did not commit aveiros that eventually became public. This is important because the various humiliations reveal that the instigators of the ban against Rabbi Slifkin’s books are abusive lowlifes.

  56. The ban said that he can’t teach.

    I fail to grasp the relevance of this comment.
    Obviously, this refers to the fact that he teaches heresy to others and this must be stopped.
    How does this affect your mis- characterization of the ban as a personal judgment on his character?

    Rav Yehuda suffered yissurin. He did not commit aveiros that eventually became public.

    As a reflection on the validity of the ban itself, the lesson (or lack of) is applicable regardless.

    This is important because the various humiliations reveal that the instigators of the ban against Rabbi Slifkin’s books are abusive lowlifes.

    Had you stopped there, I wouldn’t have objected.
    You went further and said that this turn of events reflects negatively on the ban itself.
    This incident with Rav Yehudah, as understood by the Minchas Elazar Vol.III siman 76, shows that such a connection cannot be drawn.

  57. To open up another front, your statement about the neutral character of time is contradicted by the 8th Drashos HaRan.
    http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=31849&st=&pgnum=53

    You said:
    The holidays throughout the year create rhythms and themes. There are times to mourn, times to rejoice, a season for love and a season for repentance. These are not functions of the inherent qualities of the times but of the themes determining how we are expected to act then. The spiritual ups and downs of the year are guides to our own expected behaviors.

    This is contradicted by his הקדמה שלישית explaining why the Month of Nissan is a time ripe for Geulah. Once a powerful transforming event has taken place in history, that time is inherently more receptive to this type of event later in history.

  58. Perhaps I was unclear. The “born in sin” was about the ban being issued during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah. The “concluded with disgrace” was about the subsequent revelations of the acts of the main instigators.

    The Minchas Elazar’s teshuvah is fascinating but irrelevant, because he also dealt with a macharim who died, not that he was publicly shamed for unsavory activities.

    Banning someone from teaching is a judgment on him, even if he isn’t labeled.

    The Derashos HaRan is interesting but his view is not universal. Acharonim like the Meshech Chochmah take the approach I used.

  59. Banning someone from teaching is a judgment on him, even if he isn’t labeled.

    Why is this more a judgment than banning his books? Books are his teachings in written format. He teaches his books in oral format.
    I believe this is especially true regarding Rabbi Slifkin’s personal style of writing and teaching.

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