Monday, November 8, 2010

Rabbi Coffer's Magnus Animus

Below I am posting Rabbi Coffer's letter to me verbatim.  He is responding to my objection of his use of gratuitous insult and badgering in response to a question of mine.  The letter provides much insight.

Dear Yitz,

Gut voch and a gutten chodesh. Simcha Coffer here. I have a few minutes now so I am responding to your latest comment to me on the Analysis Blog.

You wrote: Wow. That comment is breathtaking in its sheer cluelessness. [editor's note - these words were penned by RSC]

From the great amount of time and effort invested, it is clear to all of us that RSC cares deeply about this issue. It is a pity that he has defiled this honorable effort with gratuitous insult and badgering.

I’m not sure if you’re interested in what I have to say but here it is nonetheless. Dr. Ostroff and I created this Blog specifically to alert people to what we feel are egregiously erroneous attitudes promoted by N. Slifkin on his, supposedly, “Rationalist” Blog. We are passionate about our “mission” and care deeply about the consequences of adopting what we feel are anti-Torah ideas. At the same time, we recognize the necessity of interacting with all people in a “menchlache” fashion. It is at this point that Dr. Ostroff and I diverge. If someone evinces boorishness and uncouthness, Dr. Ostroff tends to shy away from further interaction. I do not. Initially I respond respectfully. But if the behavior keeps up, I turn into a mirror. It is not done out of vindictiveness. It is pedagogic. Allow me to explain.

The Modern Orthodox world has somehow gotten into their heads that the Chareidi world is populated by a bunch of fundamentalist close-minded backward individuals. Naturally, anytime a Chareidi individual attempts to explain his POV to an eclectic audience, there are bound to be some vocal individuals who relate to him in a condescending manner, at best. This obviously undermines his attempts to convey his point to those who might otherwise be willing to seriously entertain his position. I’m sorry to say but this is precisely what you did!

You came onto my blog and made the following comment.

We can reasonably assume that an individual that has neither intellectual nor emotional prejudice to "Torah truths" will give credibility to the scientific consensus that RSC and colleagues dispute. So why aren't they bringing the issue up? Could it be that they don't aware that there is an issue here? If so, are we doing them a kindness by leaving them to their ignorance?”

This is a highly condescending remark to make in the first place. But in addition, you are making it 1) in public, 2) on a blog dedicated to disseminating Torah-true ideology, 3) speaking as if I am not present to hear your comment!

You are probably scratching your head trying to figure out precisely what was offensive about your comment. You know why? Because you are a victim of this insidious attitude of some MO Jews that Chareidi individuals are incapable of rational thought. Naturally your first instinct is to rid us of our “ignorance”. This attitude of yours has come across in more than one comment. This comment was the straw that broke the camel’s back. My response to you was not insulting. I admit that it was gratuitous but it was done so with a cheshbon. I decided that it was time for me to mirror your attitude in an attempt to reveal to you the inappropriateness of some of your remarks and the apparent bias which attends them.

I’m sure you’re rolling your eyes in disdain but I simply couldn’t let your final comment go without explaining to you the real motivations behind my “strong” response. It’s up to you to accept my explanation or reject it.

In closing, I’d like to mention that I certainly did not mean to insult you and regret any implication my words may have inadvertently conveyed to the contrary.

Be well,

Simcha Coffer

P.S. I hope to see you back on our Blog again. You were the first person to log a comment and, to be honest, Dr. Ostroff and I were very excited that someone bothered to read what we were saying.  


  1. Could it be that they (are not) aware that there is an issue here? If so, are we doing them a kindness by leaving them to their ignorance?”

    I think that RSC misunderstood the intended antecedent here of "they". Replace this with "secular Jews exploring Torah Judaism", rather than "charedi Jews". In the context presented, I don't understand the confusion, but I am sorry in any case that he took offense.

  2. Because you are a victim of this insidious attitude of some MO Jews that Chareidi individuals are incapable of rational thought.

    Could be, I suppose. I actually consider myself to be a Charedi individual, even if RSC certainly does not! In any case, I would suggest that the Rabbi dispel this misconception by engaging in rational correspondence. His attacks only serve to reinforce the perceived prejudice, even if I were to concede that "Yitz started it."

    For the record, from my perspective I made an effort to engage in substantive issues and steer clear of childish tit-for-tat interchanges. Clearly, RSC disagrees. Oh well!