Thursday, January 27, 2005

Richuk Karovim

I have not read any of Rabbi Nosson Slifkin's books but if I had, I doubt that I would be competent to judge the validity of his science or, for that matter, his hashkafah. I have looked at the overly long defenses of his work that he has posted. Whatever one thinks of his writings, the ban issued against his work is inappropriate and wrongful. Much the same can be said about several other celebrated recent condemnations of books, specifically including Rabbi Nosson Kaminetsky's controversial works. There should be a more balanced and appropriate way of expressing disagreement with writers who are certainly shomere torah v'mitzvos without resorting to cherems and the like. In the present period, bans are counterproductive and not merely because they are likely to generate interest in the works that are being banned. More importantly, they turn off people whom we want to attract and others whom we want to keep. It is no secret that the kiruv movement is not what it used to be, primarily for reasons that arise from the openness of contemporary life and yet it is obvious that resorting to cherems and bans do not help the cause. It is also obvious that the outflow away from Orthodoxy is greater than the numbers whom we are attracting via kiruv. The condemnation of Rabbi Slifkin's work and other works by Orthodox Jews has the collateral effect of turning people away from our religion.

We may not be able to do all that we want on the kiruv rechokim front, but we can do a better job in not being m'rachek karovim.

Cross-posted on Cross-Currents.