Rav Chaim Brisk and the Rambam
There is a marvelous story told about Rav Chaim Brisk and the Rambam in Olam Habah. Like all such stories it almost certainly fictional - and 100% true.
There are different versions of it, but this is how I heard it.
180 days after entering Olam Habah, Rav Chaim gave a shiur to all the Rabbonim in Olam Habah. Marai Mekomos were handed out in advance so everyone could prepare and get their questions ready for the new Chiddushim the were bound to hear. As expected, Rav Chaim Brisk focused his shiur on solving a difficult problem in the Rambam. His answer though was so sublime, so penetrating yet simple, so revolutionary, elegant, and far-reaching that all the Gedolim in Olam Habah were speechless. Even those who knew Rav Chaim well were shocked and awed beyond belief. There was nothing to ask, no comments to add, nothing to say in response to such a brilliant solution. So the Rabbonim did the only thing they could do, which was to burst out clapping and to wait on line to congratulate Rav Chaim.
When everyone else had left, a Sephardic Rav went over to Rav Chaim and introduced himself as the Rambam. Before Rav Chaim could reply, the Rambam went on to praise the brilliance of the solution. He then added with a touch of sadness, “I wish I had thought of it. Actually though, I had a more pragmatic – almost baal habatish reason for paskening that way” which he proceeded to tell Rav Chaim. As he was speaking, Rav Chaim's face went from awe to disbelief to shock to anger. When the Rambam was done, Rav Chaim waved the back of his hand at him and said in disgust,“What does a Sephardi know from a Rambam!”
Now the person who made up this story clearly meant to criticize Rav Chaim, which is why he had him say something racist. In point of fact though, Rav Chaim in the story is 100% right. Why the Rambam said what he did is irrelevant. Rav Chaim's goal is to explain the internal logic of his position. He is coming up with the severa the Rambam would have come up with - if he were a great Lamdam. The fact remains that Gedolei Yisroel have accepted the Rambam and so their must be a valid reason for what he said.
The reason why I bring up this story is that it has great relevance to the Slifkin Ban. Even if you believe the ridiculous hearsay of how and why various Rabbonim came to sign the ban, they fact remains they stand by it. Even if they didn't know what they were signing at the time (again, I find that too absurd to believe), by now they certainly know what it was they signed, and they clearly agree with it and expect people to follow it. If they thought it was a mistake, they would publicly say so and remove their names from the list. To say otherwise is to accuse them of Rishus! Now there are some Rabbonim who allow social goals and public policy to color their psak a bit. However, for a Rav to allow his signature to stand on a declaration he considers to be false and not in conformity with Halachah is the most serious Aveirah. It would quite literally be megaleh panim baTorah shelo ke-halacha , about which the third perek in Pirkei Avos says “even if you have Torah and Maasim Tovim, you have no chelek in Olam Habah”. To say the Gedolim are afraid to publicly change their minds because of politics and “the kanoaim” is to further accuse them of cowardice. The contention is far too absurd to be taken seriously. In fact, it would be an issur Motzei Shem Rah to accept such a story.
KeBolo Kach Polto – If they disagreed with the statement bearing their signatures, they would take a public action of the same caliber as the original declaration. They wouldn't privately tell a single unknown Talmid of theirs to spread the word onto the Internet, for they wouldn't possible expect anyone to listen to such hearsay.
The fact remains that the Gedolim meant what they said – this is burnable kefirah - or else they would have publicly clarified things. Until you see hard evidence to the contrary, treat the ban as if each and every Gadol meant what he signed. Even if one Gadol clarified or modified his position, it in no way means they all did.
Now some of you may despair, “then how could we possibly fight this thing!”Ironically, treating the ban as legitimate is the best way to counteract it!. When both common sense and your own political self-interest say you should treat something as real, it makes sense to start doing so.