Friday, July 15, 2005

Marc Shapiro and cool stuff to be found in the bowels of the Mail-Jewish archives

Now that many people have had the chance to read my new book, The Limitsof Orthodox Theology (if it hasn't been banned from the local bookstore)it is a good opportunity to send out a public message concerningsomething that has been bothering me for awhile.

Since I write about controversial matters and often am in dispute withvarious scholars, I was given mussar from an outstanding scholar andbaal midot some ten years ago. He said that as Bnei Torah it isimportant not simply to write like an academic, and certainly not likean editorialist, but to give proper kavod even to the opinions that youfeel are completely wrong, if they have been stated by someone who isdeserving of respect by virtue of who he is.
Since then I think that I have meticulously kept to this, sittingshiv'ah neki'im for everything I write (even when responding to peoplewho thought it proper to attack me personally). In the latest book,unfortunately, I fell short of this. Although I read it over in proofform, it wasn't until I had the book in hand some two months ago that Irealized that I made a mistake, and by then it was too late. Godwilling, the error will be corrected if the book is reprinted (It mighthave to be, as it has sold out at the YU book sale, showing that thereis an interest, both pro and con, in its argument).
In the book I express my opinion that an argument by Rabbi Parnes(former Rosh Yeshiva of YU) is "ridiculous". Although this type oflanguage is found in academic works, and even in many Torah works (andis only directed at an argument, not a person), it was improper for meto use this expression and I have already apologized to Rabbi Parnes. Ishould have been able to find a better way to register my sharpdisagreement. I say this because Rabbi Parnes has spent a lifetimeteaching Torah, is many years my senior, and has forgotten more Shas andposkim than I will ever know. As such, more respect was called for inattempting to disprove his argument.
Shegiyot mi yavin, ve-ha-shem ha-Tov yekhaper.
Marc Shapiro

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