Historian Marc B. Shapiro: “Luke Ford reports all of the ‘juicy’ quotes, and has been doing it for years.”

History professor Marc B. Shapiro emails FailedMessiah:

The conversation in my class was not designed to be broadcast all over the world so people can join in and heap abuse on a great Torah sage (and I have to say that Torah in Motion does not permit posting excerpts as you did.) I almost fell off my chair when I saw you describe one of the greatest Torah sages alive as a “sick, evil, vindictive man.” How can you speak about a great Torah sage that way? R. Elyashiv has always struggled with relating to people (this is no secret). There are many people who have this struggle, and some become great sages. Do you have so little understanding of psychology that you refer to such a person as “evil”?

I realize that some people might not like any examinations of the lives of gedolim, and only want hagiography. This was already an issue in my book on R. Weinberg. But as those who participate in my classes know, each figure we discuss, even those who views are diametrically opposed to my own, are treated by me (and the participants) with the great respect, even awe, while at the same time we try to understand their pesonalities and motivations.

I cannot for the life of me understand how even if you disagree with R. Elyashiv you can refer to him this way. Everything he has ever done has been to advance Judaism as he sees it. Of course, you can disagree, but since when does disagreement mean that you can speak about him this way and use what I said to tear down this great sage, especially now when he is need of a refuah shelemah? I was discussing a problematic portrayal in a hagiography, which I thinks helps illuminate some of the ethos in the Israeli haredi world, and you saw it as an opportunity to attack a Torah sage in a very crude way.

I thought that your website was about exposing problems in the Orthodox world (e.g., sexual abuse), and thought that this could be valuable. But this post really crossed the line.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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