Rabbi Avraham Chaim Carmel on the Slifkin Controversy

Dear Nosson הי"ו

As you realized on your last visit, my father, shlita, is unfortunately no longer in a position to discuss the issue of your books.  I would like to share with you some ideas I have discussed with him in the past. 

I have tried to imagine what would have been Rabbi Dessler’s position with regard to the ban against your books.  The following three points come to mind: 

1)      Rabbi Dessler advocated a healthy skepticism, to the point of contempt, towards the “conclusions” of scientism, in particular where these challenged the beliefs of a Torah Jew.  See the epilogue to Artscroll’s biography of Rav Dessler (p. 365), “Against the worship of Science”. 

He would not have taken kindly to your attitude that anything reported in “The New Scientist” as fact is to be accepted as such. 

2)      Rabbi Dessler, following in the footsteps of the Maharal, taught us to have the greatest reverence for Chazal and the tremendous siyatta diShmaya and divine insight that permeates all their teachings. 

I think that his advice to anyone tackling issues of science and Torah would have been to use their knowledge to discover, or come up with, alternative theories that the bias of scientism may have rejected, but may give more credence to Chazal

3)      As you may have by now discovered, the main opposition of the Gedolim is to your attempt to “re-educate” or reformulate the thinking of the chareidi community.  As one person put it: “your worst crime” was to put haskamos on the books. 

Rabbi Dessler was uncharacteristically outspoken in his criticism of such attempts (see letters vol. 3). 

4)      Finally, regardless whether I am correct in my assessment of Rabbi Dessler’s attitude to the above, one thing is definite.  After the fact, Rabbi Dessler would have accepted the decision of those Rabbanim, Roshei Yeshiva and Mashgichim in whose hands Hashem has entrusted the directions of our generation.  When Hashem showed Adam and Moshe, “dor dor vedorshav… manhigav” these are the names on that list.  We can get no closer to Hashem’s ratzon than by listening to our Gedolim who have spent their entire lives in ascertaining the emes of Torah.  Even if, as a result of all the non-Torah ideas that we have read, their opinion seems to us to be incorrect, Hashem wants us to follow them.  Their siyatta diShmaya in knowing what is good for Klal Yisrael is unimaginably greater than ours.

Wishing you all the best,

Avraham Chaim Carmell

P.s. I saw a statement on your website to the effect that “G-d told you that the mabul never happened.”  I would like to draw your attention to the Radak who writes that a navi sheker may truly believe that he had a Divine revelation about the falsehood he prophesizes about.  He is nevertheless chayav missa, because as a believing Jew, he is required to realize that he has allowed himself to be mislead by his imaginations (or as a horaas sha’a, since he is a danger to Klal Yisrael.)

[Rabbi Carmell is commenting on the following passage:

Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 11:29:05 +0200 From: Zoo Torah <     @zootorah.com> Subject: RE: Basics for Philisophical discussions
Actually, if someone feels that one needs to have a sufficiently qualified authority upon which to rely for the allegorization of the Mabul, then I can provide one. It's a more authoritative source than the Rishonim. More authoritative even than Chazal. It's the Metziyus. Hashem's "diary of history," the physical world, states that there was no global Flood. I think that Hashem is a reliable source (unless, of course, He was deliberately deceiving us...). There is only one metziyus. On the other hand, there are different ways of understanding the Torah....]