Letters From The Readers
Hi Rabbi Slifkin,
Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
Please allow me to introduce myself. I'm 24 and I have been religious for about 2 1/2 years or so. The thing is, I've been living with doubts for a long time. In fact, I have stopped to keep the mitzvos except Shabbat and the rest of the 10 commandments. I've talked to rabbis here and gone to... seminars with nothing to show for it. ...I have a hard time trusting Chazal. And it was things regarding the sweat lice, etc. ... and if I am ever to say something... I am held up to contempt for questioning them. I have a very hard time communicated with anyone and expressing my ideas.
Anyways... a great thing happened... I found out that you wrote a book called Mysterious Creatures. So I ran that day and bought it and finished it... I was really amazed by the stuff in there. ...I'm writing this email to you to ask if you can help me find my way back to Torah. I want to thank you for writing that book.
H.D., Los Angeles
As a person who has studied their entire life in the daled amos shel halacha and can't tell you how much I gained from your seforim. When I read your sefer 'Nature's Song', your sefer rouses my neshama with yiras shomayim the same way it does when I read the mussar seforim such as Shomer Emunim, which I am very attached to.
Very few seforim inspired me in that way.
There were matters in hashkafa which had always been troubling me which I had no one to talk to about. Thanks to your sefer 'Mysterious Creatures' you brought to my attention the mekoros from Rishonim and Acharonim which explain matters in a light which was mechazak my emunas chachamim. It was specifically the approach of those Rishonim which I haven't been exposed to in yeshiva, which was helped being mechazak my emunah in a way I could accept.
With hakoras hatov,
Dear R' Nosson,
I finished reading "The Science of Torah" this weekend - it blew me away. I read a good deal on the combined topic of "creation, evolution and torah", both pro- and anti- science - yours was the best synthesis of the topics that I have seen. Some of the footnotes alone were worth the price of the book. It was a very fitting read for the new year.
S.W., New York
Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
I am a high school science teacher and am a big fan of The Science of Torah. It was an essential part of my introduction to a unit on Evolution. My daughter and I so enjoyed Nature's Song. She recites Perek Shirah each day and it makes it so much more meaningful. We thank you for your clear presentation in these beautiful works.
Family C, New York
I purchased this phenomenal book for my 18 year old Orthodox son who loves the study of Talmud and science. As a new student attending MIT it is my hope that he will always feel at peace studying both Torah and science and not feeling that the two are at odds. Your book helps make this possible!
Dear Rav Nosson,
I am writing to congratulate you, and to thank you for your important work, 'The Science of Torah'. I myself work in the field of outreach, and have much experience in re-introducing young Jews across the UK to the world of Torah.
There is no doubt in my mind that the greatest shortcoming we have had, as a Torah community, when approaching young intelligent academically trained secular Jews, is a total lack of sophistication and understanding of the complexity of the challenges posed by our current scientific knowledge.
The mainstream approach within Torah education has often been to denigrate scientific knowledge, to attempt to pick holes in scientific theory (such as evolution) and to pretend scientific knowledge to be inadequate and speculative.
Whilst such an approach can work for those who have grown up with the wisdom and beauty of Torah (and even then it is often an insufficient approach!) it is certainly becomes problematic when trying to communicate it to an intelligent skeptic.
I have personally witnessed prominent Rabbonim, even of the Baal Teshuvah movement, coming unstuck when challenged properly by young students of scientific disciplines, even at undergraduate level! Scientific knowledge is simply too complete, consistent and rigorous nowadays to be shrugged off.
And yet since Torah is the expression of a Creator of the very phenomena that scientific knowledge is revealing, the Torah cannot possibly be unaware of these phenomena!!!
Your book provides a dramatic and critical leap forward. It is thoroughly honest and rigorous, from a perspective that is uncompromisingly Torah - clearly you are a true yirei Shomayim - and yet uncompromisingly intellectually honest. I have not only used the ideas myself - to great effect Boruch Hashem!! - but also use them in training programmes we run for educators and lay people alike in the community.
Recently as I was interviewing a prospective candidate for one such programme, he actually asked me about the book, and recent opposition he had heard to it. He was bothered, because though he had grown up chareidi here in London, attended a chareidi school, loved Judaism, and moved onto a mainstream chareidi Yeshivah in Yerushalayim, he had remained deeply bothered by the conflicts between Torah and science.
Until he too came across your book. Not only he, but apparently many of his friends in a similar boat had also discovered it, and, according to this student, it had helped strengthen their emunah.
May I thank you on behalf of the dozens of people I know personally who have gained so much from 'The Science of Torah'. It is nothing short of a real kiddush Hashem, a critical work that klal Yisroel could have done with long ago. Who knows how many people will be able to find their way back to Hashem because of this book... Who knows how great your zechus... May Hashem help you continue to help all of us gain clarity in understanding His infinite Torah and His beautiful creation.
E.R., London, UK
Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
Hello. I am a yeshiva student in New York... I recently read your book Mysterious Creatures with great interest.
While studying Yoreh Deah this year, I was baffled by the Halachos of Drusah (Y.D. 57). Several times, Chazal state that the problem with Drusah is that the attacking animal has poison in its claws. This sounds as if Chazal believed that the claws of a predatory animal inject venom into their prey thus rendering it a Treifah.
This statement of Chazal presents us with quite a challenge. After all, taken at face value, this statement is clearly in conflict with modern day scientific knowledge. While a snake's bite can inject venom, our knowledge of the natural world tells us that an attacking animal's claws do not.
How are we to understand instances like this where a statement of Chazal conflicts with modern day scientific knowledge? Nearly everyone whom I discussed this issue with insisted that all we could say was - nishtaneh hateva (nature has changed). While I know that there are instances where that approach must be used, I could not believe that a more rational way to solve this problem existed.
I was so happy to have discovered your book wherein you clearly offer sources which show that other ways to deal with this matter do in fact exist, and are firmly grounded in Jewish tradition. I can not accurately describe to you how thrilled I was when you mentioned Rabbi Carmel's footnote in Michtav M'Eliyahu wherein he dealt with this very topic. Thank G-d, a rational route exists with which one can deal with scenarios where Chazal's statements are not in line with what we now know to be scientific fact.
To tell you the truth, before seeing your book, I had suggested a similar structure as Ray Dessler's in order to approach this problem. However, no one I communicated with was willing to grant that such an approach was even a valid option. After reading your book, and especially the piece from Rav Dessler, I felt a sense of vindication, as well as a sense of sadness that more people in a teaching position are not aware of the legitimacy of this approach. I find it most unfortunate that when struggling with this issue, students may often find themselves forced to fall back on nishtaneh hateva or to feel like some sort of heretic. I imagine that so many others' minds would be at ease if they only knew of this approach.
Thank you Rabbi Slifkin for publishing your book. I hope that I am but one of many whose minds your book will help put at ease...
P.A., New York
Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
Dear R' Slifkin,
My 10-year-old son is very bright and interested in all types of things - both this world and other-worldly. He reads science fiction and is constantly discussing and imagining all sorts of creatures. I was thrilled to buy your book about the sources for mystical creatures because it gave us the opportunity to bring sources in the Torah into his whole creative imaginings. It is so important for a boy like him to see that the things he is interested in are mentioned in the Torah and it can be relevant to him. The book is well written, well researched and beautifully illustrated. Thank you and please - if you can - write more about animals and the Torah! We are so grateful to you,
Family R., New York
P.S. He read the book at least three times!
I just read Mysterious Creatures... I enjoyed every page. Being that my background had a more secular and science based thrust, the issues you raised (and dealt with) were particularly troubling to me. Your honest and intellectually consistent search for the amiso shel Torah is refreshing and badly needed in today's tumultuous times.
Rabbi B.G., Los Angeles
Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
I am writing to you to say thank you.
Being that I am trying to be a "Baal Tshuva," I have always had an inquisitive mind. As my Torah Learning grew, however, so did my doubts and questions... Reading two of your works, The Camel, The Hare, and The Hyrax and Mysterious Creatures, I found your research to be exhaustive, honest, and refreshing. I feel that addressing such issues head on, and taking the time to do extensive and honest research is the best and only approach to get a true answer to these questions.
Seeing an Orthodox Rabbi willing to address these questions in the detailed manner which I am used to (being that I am an engineer), rather than an off-the-cuff answer, has given me new found inspiration in my relatively new Torah-Observant way of life. I cannot praise you enough for your work, as I have found it to be a major reason I have decided to continue this way of life. Thank you so much, and hatzlacha raba to you!
A.L., Los Angeles
Dear Rabbi Nosson Slifkin shlita,
I write to congratulate and thank you for your recent book "Mysterious Creatures", which has been a great help to me in trying to understand the occasional instances in which Chazal appear to be contradicting what we know about Nature. As a baal teshuva and a professional biologist, I would think I probably speak for many others like me who were brought up among goyim and schooled in the sciences, and are now finding our way back to Torah and mitzvos.
The problem is exactly as stated in your chapter on Sages and Scientists, that we sometimes get the impression that our Torah teachers are unable or afraid to confront these difficulties. We are required instead to suspend our natural disbelief and trust implicitly that Chazal's knowledge of the natural world was perfect and literal. The first of these requirements is not too difficult for an honest scientist, since that is what science itself often requires of us. But the second is not so easy to believe and can probably (for us) be no stronger than a working hypothesis, albeit strengthened by the occasional cases when new research shows that they did indeed know better. I think you have summed up the various possible solutions honestly and admirably.
I can well believe that your work may not be entirely acceptable to Jews brought up in (or who have achieved) emunah shleimah. Such fortunate Jews have neither taste nor need for your approach. For those of us who are less fortunate, particularly for us professional scientists who spend our lives earnestly seeking to understand the ways of G-d in the workings of His universe, it can be quite trying to discover that we are generally despised by the Torah world to which we aspire. Honest answers to sincere questions are what we need. Your books provide those and a healing balm for the needless and harmful chasm between Torah and science.
Please feel free to show this letter to whomever you see fit. May Hashem grant you the strength and wisdom to continue your excellent work.
Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
It has been a few weeks, now, that I wanted to write this message to you. I have read three of your books ("Mysterious Creatures", the "Science of Torah", and "the Camel, the Hare and the Hyrax", respectively).
I discovered them when my Chavrusa, here at the Kollel of Geneva, Switzerland, where I live, showed me the sugya in Bekhoros 8a to prove to me that mermaids exist; I was having a very hard time to believe that "Dolfinin" can be other creatures than dolphins, but lacked any basis to argue on Rashi's and Tosafos' words. I searched the Web for discussions on the topic, and discovered your website. I acquired the 3 books I mentioned at my first passage in a bookstore with English books.
I found myself enjoying them immensely. Apart from the fact that they are very well written, and that you are obviously extremely proficient in both the Torah and the Science worlds, I value above all your open-mindedness in dealing with these issues.
Too often, unfortunately, I feel that the authors dealing with the vast topic of the relationship of Torah and Science try to avoid, more or less astutely, the questions they are not comfortable with. He is a rare theologian (or, for that matter, scientist) the one who will admit that his personal theory does not solve all problems. You never beg the question and are the first to admit when an issue remains open for discussion at the end of your analysis.
I wanted to thank you for providing us with such masterpieces.
Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
Ever since reading "The Science of Torah" I have eagerly purchased and read all your other books. I very much appreciate your honest approach to dealing with difficult topics and I'm always impressed with the depth and breadth of research that you bring to bear in the subjects that you tackle.
Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
I read the Science of Torah and found it both fascinating and liberating.
No longer do I need to feel uncomfortable with supposed contradictions between science and Torah, and a major barrier to perfect faith in Hashem and His Torah has been lifted.
All the best,
I very much enjoyed your book on Torah and Science... More importantly it helped further synthesize my Torah view of the world with the world of modern science. In fact I greatly recommend your Sefer as the BEST one I have read thus far in its field. It contains no apologetics and is superbly researched...
Dear Rabbi Slifkin.
I have recently finished reading your book, 'The Science of Torah'.
It was a fascinating read and has expanded my understanding of how Judaism views science and how it deals with both the age of the universe and the emergence of life. I have become interested in Judaism over the last couple of years and found most of the apologetics (for the age of the universe and evolution) to be very constricting. After going through a period where I was overly skeptical of scientific works and somewhat blindingly over zealous in my defense of certain apologetic thoughts, I now find, after reading your book, to be free to look at science with an open attitude. This has helped me mature my understanding of the Torah/Science sphere, and although my views are not as clearly defined as they were (I think I have a lot of reading to do regarding this) they are far more sensible and flexible. Thank you for helping me to develop this view.
Hello Rav Slifkin!
I... deeply appreciate your publication of "The Science of Torah."
I am a Baal Teshuva (or on the way)... I grew up with a great deal of appreciation and wonder for the prehistoric past, dinosaurs, and evolutionary theory. One of the toughest conflicts I had when coming to Torah was how to reconcile my fairly broad paleontological knowledge with Torah - especially as I had seen some hashkafic approaches which merely ridicule evolutionary biologists and paleontologists. Your sefer is, in my humble opinion, the best Torah/Science work that I have ever seen in its fairness, balance, and scholarship. In sum, yasher koach!
A.S., Washington DC
Shalom Rabbi Slifkin,
I am writing to tell you about my husband.
Many years ago he was an enthusiastic baal tshuva but the road is difficult and he has veered off course. He is a doctor and he is very smart. However, he could not resolve the conflict of the world's scientific findings with what is taught to his children in Yeshiva. Mainly, he maintained the world must be millions of years old due to the dinosaur bones and the "ancient humans" found in Africa.
After studying National Geographic, and everything he learned in public school and college, he was convinced that evolution had to be where we are from. He seemed to still believe in G-d but that he is remote in his current affairs and the world in general. He was so confused, all of this and he still wears his kippah and tzitzis, but he had a hard time keeping shomer shabbos.
I was desperate to help him find his way back and to find something published that could give him good answers to the reason there are dinosaur bones and ancient humans.
To me the answer is obvious, it is all the hand of Hashem and is renewed daily.
But he wanted an explanation from the Torah.
So I purchased The Science of Torah for him. Wow. That is quite a book. It is excellent and I am now starting to read through it for the second time. There was a lot I did not understand with the first reading. But I told you this was for my husband. That day after he read your book, for the first time in a few months, he was home before candle lighting for Shabbos and he just seemed more at ease about Shabbos. But another thing has happened as well, a bit more shalom bayis, not because my husband may have become more understanding, although I hope so, but I now understand how a type of evolution may fit well within Hashem's divine plan and how the universe and this world and all that is in it unfolded.
I want to thank you for helping me and my husband to grown in Yiddishkeit and to increase our shalom bayis.
I am certain your book will help many others and it will be received and appreciated successfully by the Jewish community.
S.E., New Jersey
Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
I'm writing to extend my congratulations to you on your book "The Science of Torah", which I have recently finished reading. As a scientist and observant Jew I found your book to offer the finest reconciliation between what many see as a conflict between science and Torah. While many scientists see their understanding and explanations of how things work in the natural world as being outside the realm of religion, your book makes it clear that all of nature is part of Hashem's creation and constant supervision, and that the natural laws that scientists have discovered are simply part of the framework in which Hashem operates and interacts with the natural world. One of the most difficult points that most people have in resolving science and Torah is with the time scales invoked by scientists for the formation of the Earth and Universe, in contrast to the six days of creation in the Torah. As a geologist I regularly work with samples that are dated by many different independent methods as being billions (4.5) of years old, and there is not a serious geologist out there who does not recognize the billions of years of history recorded in the stratigraphic record on Earth. Astronomers and Physicists likewise see a 14 or 15 billion-year history of the universe.
In your book I was very pleased at the way you examined this thorny issue at several different levels. On one level, you note that some suggest that Hashem may have created an Earth and Universe that was already old, with features that would later be interpreted by scientists as particularly ancient. While observant Jews can not really discount this as impossible, I like your analysis in which you state that this is unlikely since you don't think Hashem is trying to test or fool us.
You also do an excellent job of discussing the impossibility that the days are referring to days as we currently measure them, since the Earth and Sun were not in existence for the first days of Genesis. You note that parts of the Torah are particularly mystical and not meant to be taken literally, including Bereshis. You mention that the days of creation may be metaphorically referring to spiritual forces and not days as we know them in our physical world. What we know are but a few drops from the ocean, as you quote from one of our early sages.
In my years as a scientist I have often pondered how the scientific and Torah worlds might come together to explain our observations, and have always believed they would and must, and in fact the sequence of events recognized by scientists is now closer than ever to that in the Torah. In your book, you have presented the most clear explanation I have ever read of how these two, the observation of the physical world, and the spiritual world recorded in Torah, may come together, for a greater understanding of Hashem's creation.
Professor T.M. Kusky
Paul C. Reinert Professor of Natural Sciences
Saint Louis University
As a science teacher in a frum girl’s middle school, it is both my pleasure and my privilege to introduce my students to the wonders of Hashem’s creations.
I have found Rabbi Slifkin’s book, The Science of Torah, to be an invaluable resource. The book is divided into three different sections: the first part details the delicate balance of all the “natural” laws, which point to a unique Creator. The second part details questions on the age of the universe, and the third part details different theories of evolution.
Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
When my students ask, “why do we have to learn science, we’re never going to be scientists?” I answer that one can gain in Yiras Shomayim by contemplating Hashem’s creations.
The delicate balance of “natural” laws is such that life could not exist if even one thing were different. Rabbi Slifkin’s book gives many examples of these natural laws, and also shows how they lead to an appreciation of Hashem’s greatness.
Rabbi Slifkin gives a very clear and understandable explanation of the correspondence of the physical world and the spiritual. The universe in which we live is a physical manifestation of the spiritual world simply because Torah was the ‘blueprint’ for creating the physical universe.
Just as there is a concept of ‘histahlshelus’, an unfolding of layers of existence from the spiritual down to the physical, there is a corresponding unfolding of patterns in the physical world that we inhabit, termed fractals by the scientific community.
My administration feels that it is very important for me to cover the topics of the age of the universe and evolution from a Torah viewpoint so that my students have the background of proper hashkafah when exposed to them later. Rabbi Slifkin’s book has a very thorough discussion of the Torah perspective on these issues, presenting ideas from many of our sages.
I tell my students that Hashem created the world the way He wanted it to exist. He could have created it in any way He wanted.
The fact that the world was created with evidence of an old universe, with gradual stages in the creation of animals, seemingly evolving from one to another, means that this is the way Hashem wanted the world to look. As Rabbi Slifkin quotes from the Kuzari, “Heaven forbid that there should be anything manifest or proved which would contradict anything in the Torah.”
It is important that my students learn the difference between actual observations, “that which is manifest”, and vague theories and incorrect pseudoscience, and it is vitally important that they know what our sages have said on these topics.
Too many of our people look at scientific observations and conclude that the Torah is, chalilah, wrong. Too many others look at the Torah and conclude that Hashem’s actual creation is what is wrong. This is also a tragedy.
People come to Yiras Shomayim in many different ways.
There are some who come to love Hashem and realize His greatness from studying Torah. Others come from contemplating the wonders of His creations. The last question I ask my students on the final test at the end of the year is: What did you learn this year that helps you realize ‘Mah rabu maasecha Hashem’? I was very pleased that I had adequately conveyed the miracle of Creation, when one of my students answered ‘evolution’.
I highly recommend Rabbi Slifkin’s book The Science of Torah, for anyone interested in the interface between science and Torah, between the physical world of Hashem’s marvelous creation and the spiritual Truth with which it was created.
I was most impressed by your book "The Science of Torah". It came like a breath of fresh air.
I have been a professional biologist most of my life, now approaching retirement, and having been brought up on modern science of course I experienced some difficulties when I began to do teshuva in my 40's - the age of the world, evolution etc., etc., - the usual difficulties faced by baalei teshuva.
As I advanced in yiddishkeit and got more deeply into the yeshivah world I also became aware that science and scientists - and biologists in particular - are in general derided and despised in the frum world, or at best pitied. On the other hand I happen to know, from personal knowledge, that the greatest biologists are usually highly intelligent, humble, honest truth-seekers, and not dribbling imbeciles as every cheder yingel is taught. Come to that, I myself have taught evolution and I'm not aware of being as subnormal as that. So there's something not quite right here.
For me, studying the workings of the world, and especially biology, is a way of glimpsing the workings of its Creator, a way of getting close to G-d. Pollination by insects, inflammation, cellular communication, the rain cycle - the list is awesome and endless. Your book was a balm to my troubled spirit, showing that Judaism does not have to be anti-science, that faith and intellect do not have to be enemies, and that Torah and science are strikingly similar in many ways, both being ways of approaching Hashem.
The book is honest, well-researched and brilliant. In an ideal world where all Jews were properly Torah-educated from birth there would probably be no need for it, but since that is not the case I strongly recommend your book for all thinking baalei teshuva, especially those with some scientific knowledge. They will probably learn quite a lot of science too!
Please continue with this essential work.
With best regards
Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
It's been a while now since I have completed "The Camel, The Hare & The Hyrax," but I think of it almost every day.
I think of why it took so long for someone to come out and write about this subject.
There are many kinds of Jews out in the world and they have been unsuccessful in coming back to Judaism, due to certain "controversies".
The issue of the identity of the Kosher animals has for a long time been the sticking point for me, and each of the rabbis that I would talk to would always push it aside or give some apologetic answer to it mainly because they are just plain ill informed.
Not you Rabbi Slifkin. Your research into the matter topped with your honesty is a breath of fresh air.
Many Jews need this kind of "intellectual" look into the matter to bring us back into Judaism rather than just seeing it from a "hashkafah" point of view.
I have had many doubts before, regarding this matter.
But through your book I have realized that there is still hope for me.
Many people fear to speak of this subject, because of what we might find out.
In this book, you have shown me that we should not fear to ask questions and that sometimes admitting to not knowing something is not the same as admitting to defeat.
You have shown me that an Orthodox Rabbi is not afraid to tackle this matter in an honest fashion and I am very proud of that.
This book deserves to be in every serious Jewish thinker's home.
Long have people used the subject of the identity of the kosher animals as evidence that the Torah is not from God.
This book gives us all the ammunition to fire back at them...
to show them that they do not own a monopoly on intellectual thought... nobody does.
Thank you Rabbi Slifkin for your great work on this subject.
You have given me, as well as many other people, a reason why we should give Judaism another chance.
H.D., Los Angeles
Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
I can`t tell you how happy I was to have read your book Science of Torah.
I have been a practicing Rabbi for the past 20 years and your book reinforced my understanding of Emunah, and reconciled many dilemmas I had.
It was fulfilling to be reminded of awesome Torah sources which tackled so many issues in such a mature manner.
Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
Dear Rav Slifkin,
As a scientist, a biologist with more than 40 years of scientific research and administrative activity behind him, I am writing to say how much I support your work. I read The Science of Torah and it gave me one of the clearest expositions of the lack of conflict of Torah and science.
In this age of science, we cannot lose an entire generation of young people by forcing them to turn their back on science as they learn Torah in greater depth and show increased commitment to mitzvot.
It says in Masechas Sanhedrin (37a) that “one who saves one Jewish person, it’s as if he saves an entire world.”
Due to my lack of Torah knowledge I am not sure if this is in regards to physically or if it is also regarding spirituality.
Let’s say for now that it is in regards to both.
Before I arrived to yeshiva, I had not learned a word of Torah for almost two years.
I did not care for it and wanted absolutely nothing to do with it.
It was about four months into yeshiva and I had one foot out the door.
I was miserable there. I hated the learning and felt that I was wasting my time.
In a shiur with one of the rebbeim, Perek Shira was mentioned.
To me, that sounded somewhat interesting. So I began to look into it.
I searched a little and was told about your book, Nature's Song.
So I decided to learn it. I must tell you, that it was what I needed to help me.
I was very enthusiastic about the Sefer and did not stop learning it. My copy at home
is completely covered in highlights and notes. Not only that but I have a
family member who was quite sick. She was arrested for drug possession and
was in drug re-hab for 9 ½ months for being addicted to Cocaine. I used
to visit her once every two weeks. She once told me that she would take
walks through the mountains where the re-hab was and loved looking at
Nature. I decided to buy her a copy of Nature's Song and Baruch Hashem, she
had recovered and is frum. She told me that the book helped immensely.
Two lives were saved which means two worlds were saved. If nothing else,
just know that all my future endeavors, the type of girl I will marry, my
children and everything I do in life, will be because of you. There must be
a starting point in everyone’s life. I am not a huge masmid, nor am I a
talmid chacham, but what I am is a Jewish man who learns at least once every
day because of someone who was able to touch my soul when nothing else was
working. Whether Nature's Song opening my eyes to Hashem everywhere I look
at every moment in the day, or The Science of Torah giving me a new outlook,
or even Mysterious Creatures giving me a new insight to a very new and different aspect of Torah,
every one of the books has helped me grow into the person I am today.
I wanted to let you know Rav Slifkin that you have helped me
more than any Rebbeim I have had in all my years. The amount of hakaras
ha-tov that I owe you is immeasurable. No amount of thanks or gratitude can
be given. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for saving my life from a
life off the Derech Hashem.
Dear Rabbi Slifkin,
I am a product of the "black hat" yeshivas both here in the U.S. and in Israel.
Starting in my early 20's, I found the unanswered and/or poorly answered question of seeming contradictions between science & fundamental Torah very troubling.
I found the Yeshiva environment discouraged research in this area and what little literature was recommended, tended to be poorly written, poorly researched, and guided by agenda. This served in reinforcing the sinking feeling that the two worlds could not be coalesced after all.
Ultimately, I was very lucky to have found Rabbonim with real answers and an overall broad vision of Torah that opened new worlds for me. As it turned out, the more information I was exposed to, lead not to a loss in emunah, but rather a newfound sense of what it means to be a Ben-Yisrael in today’s world. So many years later I look back at many of the seeming contradictions between science & Torah – rooted in a naive dichotomization of the two worlds – as childish and silly.
I would like to thank you for writing books dealing with these issues that are truly informative, extremely well researched, and most importantly - honest. I enjoyed your straight-forward style of raising difficult problems, explaining the varying approaches that attempt to address them, and pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of each approach - giving the reader as much information as is available.
Given the nature of our incredibly complex world, it is to be expected that some questions continue to leave us without satisfying answers. That fact however, is not at all threatening if you view yourself as being on the path of understanding. The best we can do is hand what we’ve learned to our children and let them run with it. Armed with new information, future generations will take what we’ve handed them, and take it to places we could only have dreamed of – continually expanding the reach and breadth of Torah’s insights.
It is a shame that some would rather live in a static dead world and have all of the answers, than recognize that we live in a living world, which insists on our never-ending struggle with it. It’s a shame that so many go off the path because they feel trapped in a world that has abdicated that struggle.
Y.S , Brooklyn
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