Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I Guessed Wrong – Corrections by the Author

Guest Post by Shmuel Winiarz

Updated on 9/29/14 by the author
Sometimes my assumptions are just plain wrong. As are my misspelling of names. This is one of those times. I received the following comment from Shmuel Winiarz, (…not Winearz as I misspelled it yesterday). He was the author of the Torah Thoughts article upon which I commented yesterday. Although I stand by my analysis of the value of such programs, I accept all of Mr. Winiarz corrections and ask that he grant me Mechila on this day before Rosh Hashana. His words follow. 

Thank you Mr. Maryles for your take on my article. We mostly concur yet allow me to make several points. You wrote "My guess is that most (if not all) of the 17 participants in this symposium never heard of R'David Zvi Hoffman". That is an inaccurate guess b/c I am pretty sure that at least 14-15 of the participants (if not more) knew who he was prior to the event.  R’ Dovid Zvi Hoffman was not actually brought up in the discussion by the presenters themselves but rather I and several others brought him up in conversations precisely about the areas he differed with with R" Hirsch and certain interesting teshuvos in Melamed Lehoil.

You do a disservice by saying "if any goes into a right wing yeshiva .... one would be hard pressed to find anyone there who would be interested in pursuing this kind of thought". Granted you are right about the majority but thre is a significant minority about which your statement is incorrect. Although Ner Yisroel and Shaar Hatorah (center-right) yeshivos were best represented at the seminar, from my own experiences many yeshiva products (though not enough) are interested in these sorts of discussions, people and ideas. 

The "yeshiva world" is not monolithic and painting it with a more nuanced brush would strengthen your arguments. R' Sholom Kamenetsky of Philadelphia Yeshiva and Ahron Kotler (CEO of  BMG, Lakewood) knew of and were supportive of the program. In law school and in other places I often find modern orthodox Jews possess a smarter-than-thou attitude towards the right-wing world in areas such as academic Jewish scholarship. I would strongly argue that such an attitude is misplaced and just wrong.

I should note that someone you are familiar with R' Avraham Kivelevitz was one of the presenters (on R' Kook) and although he is leagues ahead of me  in intellect and knowledge, the group comprised many people with a similar center-right background and interest and some level of knowledge in the world of ideas both Jewish and general.

For more information on what occurred, I am enclosing a link to an article R'Adlerstein wrote, reviewing the program

Finally ,the most important correction of all. I do not possess Semicha but rather a J.D. and my last name is Winiarz not Winearz :)

Shmuel Winiarz


I just received the following note from Mr. Winiarz and thought it should be included in the post. I would just add that his asking for Mechila was not necessary as I was not offended. But in any case I grant it if Mr. Winiarz feels he needs it. As per his request, my e-mail address is:

Dear Mr. Maryles,

First allow me to apologize. Now re-reading what I wrote to you (in the middle of the night) I realize that my tone was too harsh and accusatory. I am sorry and request your mechilah for that. Your original post was not a basis for needing to ask mechilah ,but if of course if you feel its necessary I am mochel. 

What happened was the Tikvah participants have a list serve and someone sent your posting to the group (which I overall liked) pointing out the R' Dovid Zvi Hoffman comment and it’s congruence with what actually occurred. Though we may not have the exact same hashkafos I believe we are kindred spirits b/c we are both passionate about Toras Hashem and believe (perhaps to different degrees) that we must and should embrace the world of ideas both in Jewish Studies and in General Studies. 

You mentioned Dr. Revel and the school named after him is one I will hopefully soon begin attending at night to pursue a M.A. in Jewish History (and not take the Revel classes discouraged by R' Schechter and R' Willig :) something I think you would approve. 

Hopefully this Tikvah seminar will have a positive influence on Klal Yisroel as does your blog (though no need to turn this into a criticism of Lakewood or the Mir, institutions that are tremendous centers of limmud hatorah and yiras shamayim) L'shem u'lisiferes. Kesivah V'chasimah Tovah and a gut gebentched yor.

P.S. We can definitely communicate more about what happened as it was a truly enjoyable and stimulating week. Is there a way I could privately send you my email address?