The Torah/Science Controversy

The Science of Torah Mysterious Creatures The Camel, Hare & Hyrax

In 2004-2005, three of Rabbi Slifkin's books were banned as heretical by a large group of distinguished rabbinic authorities from the Charedi (ultra-Orthodox) community. The ban was rejected by Rabbi Slifkin and his mentors, and prompted a widespread backlash. This webpage links to a collection of resources concerning this controversial ban.


1. About the Books

2. About the Ban

3. The Issues: Torah and Science

4. The Process: Rabbinic Authority and Book-Banning

5. Condemnations, Critiques, and Responses

6. Effects of the Controversy and Related Events

7. Commentary in the Media

1. About the Books

General information about the books and purchasing details

Letters from readers about the books

Endorsements for the books from Rabbi Aryeh Carmell, Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetzky, Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, and Rabbi Chaim Malinowitz

Reiterations of support by Rabbi Aryeh Carmell and Rabbi Chaim Malinowitz

The Books and their Endorsements: Rumor control

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2. About the Ban

An account of events

The original poster (in Hebrew), first put up on erev Yom Kippur (PDF format)

The article that appeared in the Hebrew edition of Yated Ne'eman (JPEG)

The article that appeared in the English European edition of Yated Ne'eman (Please note that much of the information contained therein is false, as described on the "rumors" page.)

The second poster, in Hebrew and in English

Clarification of Rav Elyashiv's position

The Ban: FAQ

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3. The Issues: Torah and Science

General Response

List of Sources

Freedom to Interpret by Rabbi Aryeh Carmell

Letter from Rabbi Mordechai Gifter, late Rosh Yeshivah of Telze, on the age of the universe

"Ma'amar Mevo HaShemesh" - A booklet (in Hebrew) by Rabbi Pinchas David Weberman, editor of Sefer Hatekhuna of R Hayim Vital, which "proves" that heliocentrism is heresy. This is not directly related to the ban on the books, but it is highly relevant to the issues being discussed. The author's argument is that there is no traditional basis for this model and that the consensus of the Acharonim was to reject it as heresy. In this he is quite correct; nevertheless, the heliocentric model of the solar system is valid.

Rabbi Zev Leff (audio recording from 2005)

Rabbi Jeremy Weider (Rosh Yeshivah, RIETS): "When the Torah Doesn’t Mean What It Says: Non-Literal Interpretation of Scripture and the Controversy over the Works of Nosson Slifkin" (Audio recording, 12 meg)

B'Toraso Shel R' Gedaliah - the complete book of Rabbi Gedaliah Nadel's teachings, which include his discussion (and acceptance) of the antiquity of the universe and evolution. 4.2 meg PDF file.

Torah and Science: FAQ and Rumor Control

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4. The Process: Rabbinic Authority and Book-Banning

General Response: Why I am not obligated to follow the ban

Rabbi Berel Wein on Book-Banning

An essay from Rabbi Dr. Leo Levi, printed in the Jewish Observer

"Authority and Wisdom: The Slifkin Affair" by Rabbi Benjamin Hecht

On the Manipulation of Rabbis by Zealots

Slifkin, Salem and the Senator - a sharp sociological analysis of the ban

In Defense Of My Opponents - An essay by Rabbi Natan Slifkin (PDF)

Postscript to the above essay (PDF) NEW

A letter describing a real situation revealing how contemporary rabbinic authority works in the charedi world

FAQ and rumor control

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5. Condemnations, Critiques, Responses, And Apologies

Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch's letter of condemnation in English and in the original Hebrew, and a response by Rabbi Gil Student.

Rav Moshe Shapiro's letter of condemnation and responses

Speech of condemnation by Rabbi Uren Reich at the Agudath Israel convention

Letter of condemnation by Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, and a letter written in response

Letter of condemnation by Rabbi Aharon Shechter, co-signed by Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetzky

Video of Rabbi Aharon Schechter at Bnei Yeshurun in Teaneck, March 2006, addressing Rabbi Slifkin's books and the topic of creation NEW

Letter of condemnation by Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef

An article by Rabbi Aharon Feldman seeking to justify the condemnations, and some responses

Letter of condemnation by Rabbi Shlomo Miller of Toronto, and responses

Creationist Condemnations: Dr. Jonathan Ostroff

Letter from Dr. Nachum Klafter to Rabbi Dovid Feinstein

Response to Rabbi Yaakov Segal's critique of The Camel, The Hare and the Hyrax

Rabbi Moshe Meiselman's critiques, and a response

Responses to the Jewish Observer

Rabbi Zev Leff apologizes for his condemnations of the books and other writings of Rabbi Slifkin (audio file)

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6. Effects of the Controversy and Related Events

Letters received - a very valuable insight into the varied effects of the ban

EJF's Conversion Requirements - an anonymous report on how a new organization, Eternal Jewish Family, which seeks to place all conversion to Judaism under its authority, wishes to disqualify those who accept modern cosmology from converting to Judaism and from serving on a conversion Beis Din. NEW

7. Commentary in the Media

The New York Times: Religion and Natural History Clash Among the Ultra-Orthodox

The Wall Street Journal: Is Darwin Kosher?

The Forward: Orthodox Rabbis Launch Book Ban

Ha'Aretz: The Rabbi who wrestles with crocodiles

The Scientist: Evolution Meets Judaism

Moment Magazine: The Heresy of Nosson Slifkin

The Jewish Chronicle (UK): 'Zoo Rabbi' accused of heresy

Atlanta Jewish Life: Animal Instinct

New Jersey Jewish News: An animal-loving rabbi seeks to reconcile science and Torah

The Canadian Jewish News: The Torah, Science and Intellectual Debate

The Jerusalem Post: Perish the Thought

The Jewish Chronicle (UK): The Rabbi Dangerous Enough To Ban

The Jewish Press: The Slifkin Torah-Science Controversy: An admittedly biased insider's perspective

Articles and Debate in the Jewish Press (Microsoft Word Document)

The Controversy: FAQ and Rumor Control

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