25 August 2006

Online Printing Press

In a previous post (Book Meme) I mentioned that I wanted to read Darwin but I could not imagine how I'd sneak that ino the house. I must thank SZ for doing just that. He Emailed me files from here .

It's an amazing world. Thousands of books online - all free and even legal.

Of course, there's a glitch. I hate reading on-line. Maybe I'll print off 10 pages at a time.

But theres even another option. I see they even have Darwin on Audio. I got to get myself an IPOD or something. Like this I can read while I commute. If someone asks me what I'm listening to, I'll say, "Just a shiur about the Briah". They'll go right back to their newspaper.

Thanks, SZ.

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    30 Comments:

    At August 25, 2006 10:26 AM, Blogger Kylopod said...

    You must be in a really strict community/family, if they consider it heretical to even read Darwin. I never faced any objections when I read his works as a teenager.

    In addition to his influence, Darwin was a fine writer. For a ninteenth-century scientist, his stuff is remarkably readable.

     
    At August 25, 2006 10:53 AM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    KP, Darwinism is the Epitome of Kefira.

    I leave in a Black Hat community.

    This is just a guess, but I think if I asked a Rabbi, he'd rather I'd read The New Testament. Not many Jews would get swayed by that. But reading Darwin means you've got interest in Evolution, and THAT is dangerous to OJ. If Slifkin is Persona non-grata, I don't think they'd be honoring Darwin at the Yeshiva dinner

    Did you grow up in an OJ community?

     
    At August 25, 2006 2:07 PM, Blogger Kylopod said...

    KP, Darwinism is the Epitome of Kefira.

    I respectfully disagree.

    This is just a guess, but I think if I asked a Rabbi, he'd rather I'd read The New Testament.

    It reminds me of when Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch (Reform) and Rabbi Yosef Reinman (Orthodox) were on tour together, and somebody asked Rabbi Reinman whether it would be better to spend an evening learning Talmud with a Reform rabbi or watching an episode of "The Sopranos," Rabbi Reinman answered, "Watch an episode of 'The Sopranos.'"

    Did you grow up in an OJ community?

    I grew up in Baltimore, which is also where I currently live. It's the "moderate black hat" community which R' Avi Shafran of Agudah recently paid high praise to in an article. I went to Talmudical Academy (fairly Yeshivish) until fifth grade, then Beth Tefiloh (MO), then homeschooling.

    While anti-evolutionism is widespread in this community, by no means is it universal. One of the largest Orthodox synagogues in Baltimore is Shomrei Emunah, whose previous rabbi was Tzvi Hirsch Weinreb, now the head of OU and a big defender of both Slifkin and evolutionary theory. The Etz Chaim center also has offered classes reconciling Torah and evolution. On the other hand, the big yeshiva of this community, Ner Israel, is led by the first prominent American Rosh Yeshiva to write an essay defending the ban on Slifkin. But even he seemed to argue that accepting evolution was not inherently kefirah, only Slifkin's approach was.

    I got into Darwin when I was being homeschooled, and my parents (who are BTs) didn't mind. As a member of the community, I've generally read what I want to read, watched what I want to watch. I've never found the community controlling, which is why I shake my head when I hear stories about Lakewood which make the frum community sound like the USSR or something.

     
    At August 25, 2006 4:49 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    Kylopod, great point.
    Firstly, my community, while availing itself of OU Kashrus, alligns itself with Aguda and Chareidi values. So that's a big difference. Evolution is Taboo here, not even discussed. My community is a Yated Neeman Community; very little Jewish
    Press. Women are referred to as Ladies and Nushim Tsidkuneose.

    And that's also how I grew up in Yeshiva.

    So here's the crux. My community claims its the rightful and sole heir to the Mesora; while at the same time acknowledging we may not live up to it fully. Your version of Judaism is not considered Torah True. Even Chassidim are considered to be slightly off the real path to God. The attitude to Evolution is as stated by R' Avigdor Miller, that it's a lie created by scientists looking to shed servitude of a higher deity.

    So, forget about Archaeological and historical issues. Acceptance of Darwin and ancient earth is Kefira.

    So which version of Judaism does one believe if any? Why should you trust it?
    It's like GH says. the chances of my version of Judaism being true is even less tha Judaism being true as opposed to Gentile religions.

    Shabbat Shalom

     
    At August 25, 2006 5:00 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said...

    Rabbosai, if you're going to read Darwin, it is also worthwhile to read, or read up on, Alfred Russel Wallace.

    Tayare Baal Habos, Wallace too is the very heart and kidneys of kefirah - but his name is far less a red flag.

     
    At August 25, 2006 5:04 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    BOTH, sure they named the Wallace line after him! See my post about Krakatoa. He let Darwin take all the credit.

     
    At August 25, 2006 8:02 PM, Blogger Irviner Chasid said...

    If you read abook by wallace I bet you everyone will think its about Scotland and Mel Gibson.

     
    At August 26, 2006 9:48 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    You mean antisemitic?

    What does Scotland mean?

     
    At August 26, 2006 10:09 PM, Blogger Kylopod said...

    So, forget about Archaeological and historical issues. Acceptance of Darwin and ancient earth is Kefira.

    Nevertheless, attempts to reconcile Genesis with evolution have existed in the Haredi world long before Slifkin, and generally these books did not attract much attention. Slifkin's was the first that rabbis tried to ban, and many people were perplexed as to why Slifkin got singled out. Some critics objected to the "tone" of his books, but that's an after-the-fact explanation and fails to account for the way the rabbis treated Slifkin's claims as if they were something completely unique in the frum world. If they had made a general proclamation against old-earth views, recognizing that a number of Haredi books have advocated such an approach, not just Slifkin, many people would have been disappointed but I don't think they would have been quite as confused.

    According to a recent Jewish Press article, R' Eliyashiv recently was surprised to learn that his name had been attached to a statement describing Slifkin's position as "complete heresy," and he acknowledged that Slifkin's books have kiruv value.

    Now, I'm just as wary about JP's accuracy as I am about Yated's. But making the generous assumption that these claims are true, they are astonishing, the first admission I have seen from the anti-Slifkin camp that they may have overreacted. I am going to make the cautious prediction that this group is not going to try to ban Slifkin's new book, which is simply a revision of The Science of Torah. Maybe I'm naive, but I think they're privately embarrassed by what happened and don't wish to repeat the episode. I also suspect that R' Slifkin is being a bit more cautious in the way he approaches the subject.

    It's like GH says. the chances of my version of Judaism being true is even less tha Judaism being true as opposed to Gentile religions.

    I sure hope we don't have to leave it to chance. Our tradition has survived the squabbles of the past, such as the burning of Rambam's books, and I think that for the most part it is the most reasoned views which have triumphed in the long run.

     
    At August 26, 2006 10:26 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    KP, I haven't read any of Slifkin's work. Does he actually espouse Evolution? or just ancient Earth.

    Be that as it may, the Chareid world does not accept evoltion to th best of my knowledge.

    Is that Jewish Press article on-line by any chance? Are you referring to R' Maryles article? I don't recall reading anything at all like that. LY stance on Evolution is THE Chareid stance.

    IIRC correctly all of Slifkin's works are considered a Heretical. anything a a heretic writes, including Torah, is considered heretical.


    >I sure hope we don't have to leave it to chance. Our tradition has survived the squabbles of the past, such as the burning of Rambam's books, and I think that for the most part it is the most reasoned views which have triumphed in the long run.


    I don't know about that now. I think Chassidus and Chareidism are getting the biggest market share.

    I know little about it, but it seems as if MO is getting very fragmented and is strugling to find itslef.

    The winner is Chareidim and they keep on isolating themselves more and more to get away from having to discuss these issues.

     
    At August 27, 2006 12:58 AM, Blogger Moshe Kappoya said...

    Dear BHB,

    >...Chassidus and Chareidism are getting the biggest market share...
    Are you implying that Chassidus is not reasoned and/or rational? I happen to think that of all the modern forms of Orthodoxy, Chassidus is the most rational and relevent to our times.

    >...to get away from having to discuss these issues.
    Comon, really?! These subjects have been discussed in countless seforim for hundreds of years, from Moshe Rabbenu to Rambam to R' A. Miller.

    I think Darwin is the biggest, stupidest load of BS I have ever heard. I am amazed that any logical, thinking person could believe the nonsense that he spit out. Even if were not to believe in the Torah, cv"s, I still wouldn't believe that @#$%&! stupidity. My only explanation as to why his theories have gained so much popularity, is that the Yetzer Horah is "pushing" it.
    Yea, I hear all you enlightened thinkers snickering at the unlearned hick. Please spare me. My opinon of Darwin's garbage comes not from my Rebbe or any other religous teacher. I may not be as brilliant as some of you skeptics, but I know a peice of crap when I smell it.

     
    At August 27, 2006 1:47 AM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    MK,
    > Are you implying that Chassidus is not reasoned and/or rational? I happen to think that of all the modern forms of Orthodoxy, Chassidus is the most rational and relevent to our times.


    I didn't imply that at all. But now that you mention it, certainly. Chassidus rational? You're kidding, right?

    As far as evolution is concerned,
    Well, read a book on genetics and you may be convinced otherwise.

    If you don't trust science, don't get an MRI. Go to a Faith Healer. After all Vrapo Y'rapeh menas get cured, but why not from a shaman.

    BTW, R' Slifkin will be be on JM in the AM this Monday morning. see hirhurim.blogspot.com

     
    At August 27, 2006 1:49 AM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    MK, many God fearing people of all faiths have no trouble with Evolution and many people who believe in Evolution are God fearing.

     
    At August 27, 2006 11:31 AM, Blogger Kylopod said...

    KP, I haven't read any of Slifkin's work. Does he actually espouse Evolution? or just ancient Earth.

    I haven't been able to get a copy of any of his banned works. I could probably get them from Gil or Amazon, but I haven't bothered so far. I did read two books by him, but they weren't among the controversial ones. They didn't talk much about controversial topics either, and in an appendix he actually attacked evolutionary theory, though hinted at an acceptance of the Big Bang theory.

    From what I understand from second-hand descriptions of the books, he now does accept evolution. Whether he accepts it lock, stock, and barrel or adheres to some form of "intelligent design" I haven't yet determined. The ban primarily concerned two claims of his: (1) that the world is "millions" of years old (2) that Chazal erred in science.

    Be that as it may, the Chareid world does not accept evoltion to th best of my knowledge.

    Not sure how you define "the Charedi world." Sure, the Yated Ne'eman crowd doesn't seem too enthused by the theory, but there are pockets of people who have attempted a reconciliation.

    Is that Jewish Press article on-line by any chance?

    http://www.jewishpress.com/page.do/18988/Slifkin_Launches_Book%2C_Discusses_Ban.html

    Are you referring to R' Maryles article?

    That was the Jewish Observer.

    IIRC correctly all of Slifkin's works are considered a Heretical. anything a a heretic writes, including Torah, is considered heretical.

    I don't think that's exactly the case here.

    I don't know about that now. I think Chassidus and Chareidism are getting the biggest market share.

    I know little about it, but it seems as if MO is getting very fragmented and is strugling to find itself.

    The winner is Chareidim and they keep on isolating themselves more and more to get away from having to discuss these issues.


    I agree, and it is disturbing. We need to win Judaism back from these folks!

     
    At August 27, 2006 11:57 AM, Blogger Moshe Kappoya said...

    BHB,
    My point exactly. Darwin is just a bunch of theories("boach seforis"), without any substansative science behind it.

     
    At August 27, 2006 12:45 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    KP, MK's post immediately after yous proves my point. Evolution is personna non grata in God's little Acre. Sure there are some who understand what's really going on. But that's a smill minority and are generaly not Charedim or even Charedi light. You saw that survey in ORTHOPRAX blog when religious college students (IIRC Brooklyn College, not Touro) were questioned about Evolution. Trust me, its a touchy subject.

    While it would be nicer for a more rational judaism to take hold, what philosophy exactly do you subscribe to? Reconstruction? Young Israel? Ner Yisroel?


    Also, the birth rate of Chassidim & Chareidim somewhat guarantees that they will be the heirs to Judaism at least in the 50 years or so.

    BTW, Slifkin is on JM in the AM tomorrow morning, I don't know if it's aired in your part of the world, but that will prove very interesting. JM in the AM has very mixed demographics including Chassidim.

     
    At August 27, 2006 12:47 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    KP, heres R' Maryles article in the Jewish Press. He briefly discusses Slifkin
    http://www.jewishpress.com/page.do/18622/Evolution%2C_The_Age_Of_The_Universe%2C_And_Rabbi_Aryeh_Kaplan.html

     
    At August 27, 2006 12:49 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    Moshe,

    >Darwin is just a bunch of theories("boach seforis"), without any substansative science behind it.

    Sorry, I didn't realize you are a qualified scientist able to make such broad statements. My hat's off to you. :)

     
    At August 27, 2006 2:25 PM, Blogger Kylopod said...

    While it would be nicer for a more rational judaism to take hold, what philosophy exactly do you subscribe to? Reconstruction? Young Israel? Ner Yisroel?

    What most exemplifies my philosophy is Rambam's statement that if he were convinced of Plato's arguments for an eternal universe, he would reinterpret the Torah to fit this conclusion; but he rejects Plato's arguments on logical grounds.

    In a similar vein, I am inclined to accept almost any scientific theory as long as the evidence for it is sufficiently convincing, even if it appears to contradict traditional beliefs. But I do not accept something simply because it is a consensus among secular scholars.

    Also, the birth rate of Chassidim & Chareidim somewhat guarantees that they will be the heirs to Judaism at least in the 50 years or so.

    Yeah, but who will pay for them?

     
    At August 27, 2006 4:16 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    > In a similar vein, I am inclined to accept almost any scientific theory as long as the evidence for it is sufficiently convincing, even if it appears to contradict traditional beliefs.

    Beautiful! But you elegantly sidestepped my question. I'm not asking what science you accept, I'm asking what Judaism you accept.


    > Yeah, but who will pay for them?

    I ask my kids that. The answer is something along the lines of "Naar Hayeesi V'gam zukonti, V'lo Rueesi Tsaddik Neezav V'zraroh M'vakesh Lachem"

     
    At August 27, 2006 9:28 PM, Blogger Kylopod said...

    Beautiful! But you elegantly sidestepped my question. I'm not asking what science you accept, I'm asking what Judaism you accept.

    Well, first of all, I'm not comfortable with labels. I was raised in the Baltimore frum environment, and that's the language I know best, the point from which I diverge. The Baltimore community, I've found, does not fit neatly into the mold of either Haredi or MO. The big yeshiva, Ner Israel, you might describe as Haredi with a dose of practicality. Most people here have a strong work ethic, whether college-educated or not. I often carpooled with Ner Israel students who took university courses during the day, though the degrees they sought were in fairly uncontroversial fields like math and comp. sci.

    While not everyone here owns a television or watches movies, many do, and overall it's the norm for people to be familiar with the outside culture. But most of these people would be very surprised if you referred to them as MO. You might say that this community is sitting on the fence, and indeed that's the sort of remark I've gotten from people who believe strongly in the two-camp model of Orthodoxy. But this was normative Yiddishkeit to me when I was growing up. It was a fair shock to gradually realize that the lifestyle I'm used to is not even thought to exist.

    I, of course, had to struggle with some issues. From studying science, I moved from young-earth creationism to old-earth intelligent design. The biggest hurdle for me was not evolution but human history: I found it hard to accept that all human beings today are descended from a single couple that emerged from an ark about four thousand years ago. I had to seriously rethink the way I viewed the Torah as a guide to history. It was a relief to discover that my disbelief in Biblical literalism was not unique among frum Jews.

    I also had to deal with the larger question of secular learning in general. My parents are movie buffs like me. They are also somewhat intellectual, both Georgetown graduates. We're all mired in secular culture, and I always found it difficult to imagine myself rejecting it in favor of my nose in a gemara all day. I do learn, but in moderate doses. I didn't have to change much about myself by continuing to be this way. But I wholeheartedly rejected the notion that I should ever feel guilty about it, that books and movies and the like are somehow a waste of time, a weakness to which the more "simple" yidden fall prey.

    In all this, I have probably without realizing it adopted a basically MO outlook. I have not resolved every issue. I am still deeply ambivalent about interaction between the sexes. But overall I'm comfortable in my personal identity, even if it doesn't jibe in every detail with a particular "movement."

    I ask my kids that. The answer is something along the lines of "Naar Hayeesi V'gam zukonti, V'lo Rueesi Tsaddik Neezav V'zraroh M'vakesh Lachem"

    Reminds me of the joke--

    A young woman brings home her fiance to meet her parents. After dinner, her mother tells her father to find out about the young man. The father invites the fiancee to his study for a drink.

    "So what are your plans?" the father asks the young man.

    "I am a Torah scholar." he replies.

    "A Torah scholar. Hmmm," the father says. "admirable, but what will you do to provide a nice house for my daughter to live in, as she's accustomed to?"

    "I will study," the young man replies, "and God will provide for us."

    "And how will you buy her a beautiful engagement ring, such as she deserves?" asks the father.

    "I will concentrate on my studies," the young man replies, "God will provide for us."

    "And children?" asks the father. "How will you support children?"

    "Don't worry, sir, God will provide," replies the fiance.

    The conversation proceeds like this, and each time the father questions, the young idealist insists that God will provide.

    Later, the mother asks, "How did it go, Honey?"

    The father answers, "He has no job and no plans, but the good news is, he thinks I'm God."

     
    At August 27, 2006 9:48 PM, Blogger lakewoodyid said...

    >The winner is Chareidim and they keep on isolating themselves more and more to get away from having to discuss these issues.

    >I agree, and it is disturbing. We need to win Judaism back from these folks!

    Don't think it will be an easy battle. I'll be there to fight you every step of the way (smiley).

     
    At August 28, 2006 10:01 AM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    KP, your upbringing sounds almost identical to mine, except that my parents are holocaust survivors. I call this Chareidi Lite, the only difference is that in my world, the mingling into American culture was not held up as an ideal, but rather as a failing.

    I don't know your age, but I suspect you are almost a full generation younger than me. And that might be important. Because my type of upbringing no longer exists in the my social circles. The yeshivas are much more right wing than they used to be. In some ways it makes sense. TV in our days was educational and entertaining in a wholesome way. but now, it's all trash. I really didn't want my kids to be exposed to that. And this reaction of withdrawing from culture ends up snowballing. I wish I had a crystal ball.



    > The father answers, "He has no job and no plans, but the good news is, he thinks I'm God."


    I know the feeling!

     
    At August 28, 2006 10:19 AM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    LY,
    > Don't think it will be an easy battle. I'll be there to fight you every step of the way (smiley).

    Does it have to be a battle? Sigh. I guess so. Your Hashkofa holds that Chareidi lite is a distortion of the past and I do believe it's the other way around.


    Anyhow, did you catch Slifkin on JM in the AM today? The reason I brought it to your attention was that JM in the AM has a very varied audience, including Chassidim (lite) and even some yeshivish. Then again, maybe not. I know my daughter stoppped listening to it when she moved to Lakewood.

     
    At August 28, 2006 11:35 PM, Blogger Kylopod said...

    KP, your upbringing sounds almost identical to mine, except that my parents are holocaust survivors.

    I'm 29, and my mother's parents are Holocaust survivors who became less religious.

    I call this Chareidi Lite, the only difference is that in my world, the mingling into American culture was not held up as an ideal, but rather as a failing.

    Held up by whom? My parents infused in me a love of the outside culture, but the yeshiva I attended as a kid subtly discouraged it, and even my father has toyed with the idea that we're allowed to watch movies only because it's a weakness to which we succumb.

    The yeshivas are much more right wing than they used to be. In some ways it makes sense. TV in our days was educational and entertaining in a wholesome way. but now, it's all trash.

    I don't watch TV, but I do watch movies. "Trash" is in the eye of the beholder. Many rabbis would think that the movie Pulp Fiction is trash, whereas I consider it art.

    I agree with you that the rightward turn in Orthodoxy is in part a reaction against trends in our culture. The question that needs to be asked is whether it's healthy for Orthodoxy to be driven by a reactionary impulse.

    I really didn't want my kids to be exposed to that. And this reaction of withdrawing from culture ends up snowballing. I wish I had a crystal ball.

    I know what you mean. I don't have a problem per se with the idea of limiting children's access to TV. My parents did to some degree (though I actually learned how to read from a television program), and I consider that to have had a positive influence on me, for I have no abiding attachment to television. I disagreed with a condescending article I once came across which said that "Haredi families--and a growing number of religious ones--have no TV sets or VCRs, which means that it's difficult to keep them from being bored at home when they tire of books and board games." I had to laugh at that statement, since in my experience TVs increase boredom. It's like addiction: you think the cigarettes (or whatever) help you relax, when in fact you wouldn't get so agitated if you weren't hooked on them in the first place. Kids who aren't hooked on TV and videogames are generally better at figuring out how to entertain themselves. One of my childhood friends came from a family with no TV in his house, and he was one of the most inquisitive and resourceful kids I knew.

    The problem is that, as you indicate, the families that withhold TV from their kids rarely stop there. Some of them avoid giving their child any access to the outside world, not even newspapers. They end up raising some of the most ignorant kids you'll ever meet. I knew a family like this as well.

     
    At August 29, 2006 11:48 AM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    > It's like addiction: you think the cigarettes (or whatever) help you relax, when in fact you wouldn't get so agitated if you weren't hooked on them in the first place. Kids who aren't hooked on TV and videogames are generally better at figuring out how to entertain themselves. One of my childhood friends came from a family with no TV in his house, and he was one of the most inquisitive and resourceful kids I knew.



    That is very true. My kids had only limited access to TV, it was very closely monitored, and there was not a boredom problem. Books and friends took the place.

    But with the kids in Lakewood, my grandchildren will definitely have no TV at all.

     
    At September 01, 2006 3:54 PM, Blogger Irviner Chasid said...

    Just to clarify here, what Darwin wrote is Crap, everyone agrees with it. However, what darwin wrote, lead people to do research to find that the basic premise of his had some merrit, and that is what the modern theory of evolution is. The only piece of darwin they kept, was the concept that the environment affected the changes in species.

    This idea that a deer kept trying to eat leaves from a tree, and so its neck started to strech, is crap.

     
    At September 01, 2006 3:55 PM, Blogger Irviner Chasid said...

    >This idea that a deer kept trying to eat leaves from a tree, and so its neck started to strech, is crap.

    Scientific crap... Its not crap if you believe in Gd directing the evolution of creatures in a miraculous way.

     
    At September 01, 2006 3:56 PM, Blogger Irviner Chasid said...

    >That is very true. My kids had only limited access to TV, it was very closely monitored, and there was not a boredom problem. Books and friends took the place.

    But with the kids in Lakewood, my grandchildren will definitely have no TV at all.

    I grew up on television. I still can't fall asleep sometimes without T.V. My fiance and I agreed that when we get a new place we are going to save ourselves $40 a month and not get a T.V.

     
    At September 01, 2006 5:19 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    > My fiance and I agreed that when we get a new place we are going to save ourselves $40 a month and not get a T.V.

    Mazel Tov! When's the wedding?

    Who has Time for TV anyway.

     

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