The Blogospere has failed!
There was a moment at the beginning of Rabbi Slifkin's lecture in Brooklyn last week that was simply priceless. He said “If there is anyone here today who is not a blogger, please raise your hand”. Everyone started to laugh. Then people started to look around, and in a room of about 30 people, only one of them had her hand raised. Then everyone starting truly laughing – literally ROTFL. It took a full two minutes to quite everyone down.
Now all of you reading this know that I made up that story, because all of you were at the lecture. The very way every one of you can disprove my story only goes to prove my deeper point. The bloggers are talking to themselves. Those who are truly bothered by the ban went to the web to find kindred spirits. After spending enough time disagreeing with the other bloggers they eventually start their own blogs. Nothing though has been accomplished towards ending then ban, and some steps have been counterproductive. “Not the Gadol HaBloggim”, while combining keen insight with crude caricatures, ending up providing the ammunition for Rabbonim to portray the whole pro-Slifkin movement as a Chillul Hashem. Whether that was fair or not (and it clearly wasn't), it played into their hands. Overextend yourself and you only wind up hurting yourself. The harsh responses that have been posted on the web haven't done any good, and many have even backfired. Even Rabbi Slifkin's brilliant and spirited defense hasn't accomplished what the true goal should be, which is to have the ban removed on friendly grounds. Even Rabbonim who may be opposed to it feel the need to protect the honor of the Gedolim from such attacks.
The blogosphere is filled with brilliant, insightful commentators with pens far sharper and wittier than my own will every be. What is lacking though is a strategy. Attacking the competence, mental health and foresight of Gedolim is ludicrous. It simply turns off those who follow them, and allows our movement to be portrayed as anti-Torah and anti-Gedolim. Unfortunately, those who are anti-Torah and anti-Gedolim will be supporting us anyway, and we have no need to recruit them. (I say unfortunately, because with friends like that, who needs enemies. It was reported that one audience member at the Brooklyn Dinosaur lecture asked about “the alleged Avraham Aveinu”. Talk about counterproductive! That Rabbi Slifkin has a vocal supporter who sees questioning the Science of Chazel as a first step towards questioning the veracity of Chamisha Chumsei Torah only makes our task much harder.)
What is needed is a method to get those followers of the Gedolim who would never question them to become involved in the anti-Ban movement. The obstacle that we face is how do you fight a group of people stronger and powerful than you? The answer is an old martial arts trick: use their strength against them. Don't attempt to hit back or even to block their punches. Rather, use their own weight and movement against them. Instead or refuting or mocking their words, take their words even more seriously than they were perhaps originally intended. Use your own slight weight to magnify and exaggerate their motions, until they themselves are forced to retract them.
If the Gedolim say R' Slifkin should burn his books, find out if others should do so as well. Ask shaylos if you can Halakhicly rely on someone who continues to believe Chazel made scientific errors after the psak. What if someone believes in it l'hachis – should he then certainly be considered a kofer? Find out if it is mutar to have the fifth Volume of Michtav Me-Eliyahu or the Moreh Nevuchim in your house. If you burn those seforim, do you have to do Teshuva?
Politically, assume that everything that followed was planned by the Gedolim. After all, they could have first contacted those Rabbonim who gave the Haskamos to R' Slifkin and gotten them to retract. They then could have invited R' Slifkin to meet with them and reach an accommodation, whereby they won't in anyway publicly attack him, but will insist in the future he teach a different approach and tell people his position has changed. From the fact that the Gedolim didn't defuse the situation - as they so easily could have, it is clear they wanted something that was guaranteed to make the NY Times, as has every one of their recent bans. To suggest otherwise is to accuse them of gross incompetence, which would render their judgment (and hence all of their psak) suspect.
Now I have an easier time taking this approach because I truly believe it to be true. With my own personal experience I've seen Gedolim thinking many steps beyond what us mere geniuses are accustomed to. They are the ones who seven moves into a normal looking chess game would say, “Game over, there is no possible way for white to even get a draw from that position”. I have a theory of why the Gedolim wanted things to unfold this way, which I plan to share when I have it all worked out. However, even those who don't believe my contention would do well to follow that approach on purely strategic grounds. Treat the ban as a psak Halachah, and analyze the implications as you would any other area of Halakhah. Flesh out the implications until consistency forces the signers to modify or clarify things. Attacking a Gadol for being a fool will not get a response, for why should they even dignify it. Showing them how their very words can lead an earnest and sincere person to severely violate Halakhah has to get a response from them. It is no longer their Kavod which is being attacked. To the contrary, their very Kavod is leading people to make Halakkhic errors. They then have no choice but to respond and protect the Halakhic system.
Treat the Gedolim and what they say with even more respect and sincerity than their own followers do. It gives the pro-Slifkin movement the high ground, and leaves no obvious way to discredit us. If they didn't properly think things through, as some of you undoubtedly think, this would hang them on their ropes and force them to concede. If I am correct though and they did know what they are doing, this will force them to share their real reasoning, and allow us to progress to the next step. Either way, the dialogue will be more productive, and we will no longer be turning off those who may sympathize with us but can't stand the lack of Kavod HaTorah.