"Freelance Kiruv Maniac"

A disciple of Rav Meiselman, by the name of Dovid Kornreich, began a correspondence with me. For reasons explained below, I eventually stopped the correspondence. He also penned some anti-science articles in the Bnei Brak edition of Yated Ne'eman.

The reasons why I stopped corresponding with Kornreich and do not respond to the critiques that he raises on his blog are as follows:

1) I believe that intelligent and careful readers of my books do not find his objections to be convincing (and I have been told as such by them). In my new book, The Challenge Of Creation, the topics are discussed in even greater detail which more clearly shows the fallacy of his objections.

2) An anonymous blog is certainly not worthy of being dignified with a response.

3) From the outset, his critiques were laced with gratuitous insults (E.g. "You'll have to try a little harder to make me look uneducated." "Try to be a little sophisticated." "When are you guys going to learn that you can't fool all the people all of the time?").

4) From the outset, he frequently invented fictitious and derogatory "agendas" that he attributed to me. (E.g. "bringing up the fossil issue in the first place by you was also just a ploy to try to show my ignorance about a minor point that I did not at all consider critical and to divert the discussion away from the extrapolation / dating methods which are much more fundamental to which you seem to have nothing to say" - actually I brought it up to directly address this issue; "Correct me if I'm wrong, but the whole structure of the book seems to set up the absolute necessity for the solution that R. Slifkin ingeniously provides." - suggesting that I deliberately contrived the questions in order to give the difficult approach that I wanted to present as an answer; additionally, accusing me of deliberately omitting sources on the grounds that they would prove harmful to my position.)

5) Since his Rosh Yeshivah's reputation was being challenged, it seemed to me that he could never permit himself to acknowledge that his position was wrong. The impression that I and others received was that his goal was to defend the honor of his Rosh Yeshivah, not to engage in honest discussion.

6) His objections were, in my opinion, adequately answered by the people commenting on his blog (although in some cases he deleted the comments), or in my books. I do not have the time to engage in a lengthy and most likely futile debate; it's easier to simply let others do the job.

7) He generally refused to ever acknowledge that he had ever been proven wrong in any matter (and once even admitted to this tendency, acknowledging that he had displayed "false bravado" in claiming that he was winning an argument). In the few cases where blatant facts forced him to admit he was wrong, this was only after he had spent much time trying to avoid this outcome; and then he proudly trumpeted such cases as examples of his openness to admit mistakes!

8) Not only does he almost never admit to being wrong, but he made several comments bragging about (what he perceives as) the brilliance of his critiques and also indicates that if any of his points have not been commented upon, he believes this to prove that nobody could show them wrong. (References coming when I have time to dig them up.)

9) Everyone makes intellectual mistakes. But frankly, I find his way of thinking to be seriously warped. For example, he repeatedly defended Rabbi Meiselman's numerous allegations of my supposedly having declared verses in the Torah to be false, on the grounds that since Rabbi Meiselman did not agree with my way of explaining how these verses are in fact true, it is justifiable to describe me as actively declaring that these verses are false! Aside from it being slanderous to describe me as declaring Torah to be false, his "justification" reveals a very warped line of reasoning.

To make things even more absurd, when challenged about this, Kornreich pointed out that I once made a similar mistake. Yet I instantly retracted when it was pointed out, whereas Kornreich continues to maintain that Rabbi Meiselman was entitled to describe me as stating that Torah is false!!! (And nor has Rabbi Meiselman yet apologized for this.)

10) Kornreich loses all rational judgment in his zeal to attack me. When someone in Stern blogged about a lecture that I gave there, she included a disclaimer that any mistakes should be attributed to her. Included in her report was a mistranslation of a Rambam. Kornreich posted about it, giving it a "classic example" of how I distort sources. The Stern blogger then checked her original handwritten notes and saw that I had translated it correctly, and that she had made the mistake when she was copying her notes onto her computer. She even scanned in the original notes to prove that I had translated Rambam correctly. But even then, Kornreich would not take responsibility for his mistake, and claimed that there was still "lingering doubt" as to what I had said!

As another example of the above, when Rav Leff issued statements against me, Kornreich dedicated two posts to them. When Rav Leff subsequently modified the audio files on his website apologizing and admitting that he had been misled into opposing me, Kornreich first repeatedly claimed that it was an imposter that had hacked into Rav Leff's website!

11) Kornreich has issued false and defamatory statements due to sloppy research. He accused me of engaging in a "cover-up" and "deception" and "implicitly lying" by my citing all my maskimim (the rabbis who wrote approbations) for two years as if they had never revised or retracted anything. But this is absolutely false. I made it clear from the outset that two of the maskimim (Rav Lopiansky and Rav Kornfeld) had withdrawn their approbations (although the latter still personally believes in my basic approach). Even when made aware of his mistake, Kornreich has not apologized or retracted this slander.

(Note: Contrary to popular rumor, while Rav Sholom Kamenetzky has reservations about my work, he never recanted his haskamah - at least, not at the time of my last communication with him. In light of emerging rumors to this effect, and the unauthorized dissemination of his signature against his will, I decided to post a discussion of this. See http://www.zootorah.com/controversy/booksfaq.html for details. This includes the letter of retraction in the exact form that I received it.)

Another example of this is with Kornreich endorsing Rav Meiselman's blatant lie about my being "thrown out of the yeshivah." Note: I do not believe that Rabbi Meiselman was deliberately lying, merely that he was misinformed. However I do believe that people have a duty to investigate such accusations before repeating them, and this is one that can easily be discovered to be entirely false.

Another example: In the comments to this post, Kornreich refers to the "Slifkin approach" as "Those who take all Chazals about science literally and say they got it from their culture and therefore always got it wrong." Someone points out that this is simply not true; I do not take all Chazals about science literally.
Kornreich then says "Listen carefully: I'm discussing one clear group of statements R' Slifkin addresses. He that whenever Chazal are in fact making a scientific statement, they are wrong." First of all, this is clearly not the meaning of his first statement. Second, as someone again points out, this is likewise not true. I do not say that whenever Chazal are in fact making a scientific statement, they are wrong. I make it clear that sometimes, they are correct.
Kornreich then "clarifies" what he meant: "Let me clarify: R' Slifkin said that whenever Chazal make scientific statements, they are either wrong because they followed faulty contemporary science or only got it right because they picked it up from non-Jewish sources. He's basically saying that Chazal, on their own, got nothing right in science." First of all, again, this is clearly very far removed from the meaning of either his first of second statement. Second, again, this is simply not true. Nowhere did I write or even allude to a belief that Chazal got nothing right on their own. (The statement which he provides as a source merely refers to my finding that statements brought as alleged proof that Chazal had supernatural knowledge of science often turn out to be things that non-Jews knew too, and hence are things that Chazal could have figured out on their own without supernatural techniques.)

12) Kornreich does not take responsibility for his damaging mistakes and falsehoods. For example, even when he finally realized that Rav Leff really had apologized and had admitted that he was misled into attacking me, Kornreich did not put up a post about it as he had about Rav Leff's original condemnations. If he thought that Rav Leff was an important enough figure to dedicate posts to his condemnations (and bookmark them), why didn't he dedicate posts to his retractions?

Another example is that, based on a misunderstanding of what another blogger wrote (that Rav Malinowitz had never in the first place written a haskamah - the reference was actually to a different book), Kornreich issued the false claim that Rav Malinowitz had retracted his haskamah on my works. Even when the other blogger told him that this was not true, Kornreich did not correct what he had written, and merely advised readers that there were errors and they should check the other blog for clarifications.

Another example is the above-mentioned case of Kornreich's false allegation about my citing all my maskimim for two years as if they had never revised or retracted anything.

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