Thursday, June 24, 2004

Between Hagiography & Hock

I am reading now, Victor Geller's reminisces disguised as a biography of Rabbi Dr. Samuel Belkin. Though poorly written, it does have interesting nuggets that one cannot find otherwise (as the book, like all Urim publications, lacks an index) such as Rav Shach being invited to give Shiur at RIETS (with Professor Abraham Weiss as the messenger).

While it includes hock about tensions & conflict between assorted Orthodox Jewish Organization, there is a thread of hagiography which runs through the book, papering over the well known flaws of Dr. Belkin to make him seem larger than life.

So my question is why Modern Orthodox Intellectuals feel comfortable bashing frum biographies which cover up certain information, while fan fiction about Rabbi Soloveitchik and Dr. Belkin go unscathed? It would appear to me that the only person who has successfully written Modern Orthodox Biography is Marc Shapiro, though more as an academic than popular endeavor. Therefore I find it problematic to criticize "Artscroll Biographies" when your community can do no better.

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