I don't know why, but I just have not felt in the mood to write lately. Sometimes it seems that sharing divrei Torah on a forum such as a blog is a bracha l'vatala. The anti-torah material on the internet so greatly outnumbers the torah sites that rather than encourage people to read divrei torah on the 'net it is probably better to encourage people to just stop reading any jewish sites to avoid the pitfalls. I remember someone once telling me that his mashgiach told him that if he goes to college, he should go to someplace like Notre Dame. Can you imagine walking around on a campus filled with crosses? Why would a Jew put himself in such an environment? The answer is that the odds of a ben yeshiva falling prey to what he recognizes as treif are slim (which is not to say there is no danger at all!) But when you walk around on a campus filled with yalmukas, where there may even be a beis medrash, and amidst all that there is a "Tanach" lecture by someone who happens to deny the concept of Torah min hashamayim as most of klal yisrael understands it, then the danger is far greater. The ta'aroves of tov v'ra is a much harder challenge to respond to than the challenge of ra in its pure form. "Tocho achal v'klipaso zarak" demands both the knowledge to discriminate between the two and vigilance to engage in a constant war of being boreir.
The Tiferes Shlomo gives a mashal to a king who is locked away in a dungeon somewhere, his palace taken over by despots, his throne in danger of being lost. The king's son manages to sneak into the dungeon to meet his father. So what does the son talk about -- does he have a plan to escape, does he share his father's sorrow and worry, does he offer hope and pledge to get his father out? No, he starts telling over to his father a teirutz to a difficult Rambam!
The Tiferes Shlomo was not talking about the internet, but I'll steal his mashal anyway. You have hundreds of "jewish" sites written by even "orthodox" (or maybe "orthoprax") people which create a ta'aroves and destroy the palace of the king. While the king sits languishing in prison we should sit here writing up answers to difficult Rambams?!
My wife pointed out to me that a real Litvak would not be swayed by this Tiferes Shlomo. Yes, we should davka be saying over difficult Rambams, because that gufa is what strengthens the king and will lead to his release. Point granted with respect to the king, but what of the citizens of the empire who are swayed by the leaders of the coup and lost to their false propaganda?
Some will argue that we should seize the opportunity to engage in debate and prove the truth of our perspective. The Alter of Navardohk has a brilliant insight that shows why such an approach is doomed to failure. Hashem appeared to Avimelech and told him that he will die for taking Sarah; he must return her to Avraham. Hashem was not condemning Avimelech yet -- he was threatening punishment, but Avimelech had a way out by complying with Hashem's request. So how does Avimelech's answer make any sense -- "Hagoy gam tzadik ta'harog", Hashem, will you also punish the innocent? M'mah nafshach -- if Avimelech complies, then G-d will not punish him; if he does not comply, then he is not innocent, is he? The Alter explains in Madreigas ha'Adam that Avimelech was not arguing with the terms of the threat, but he was arguing with Hashem making such a threat in the first place -- since Avraham said Sarah was his sister, she was fair game! In other words, even though G-d himself came and told Avimelech that Sarah was offlimits, Avimelech defended his position based on his own corrupt reasoning and labeled G-d as the unjust one.
What proof are you going to offer to those who have their own agenda? What R' Chaim or R' Akiva Eiger held? But a person can just say that good for them, but I hold differently and I think I am right. What the Rambam said (and we all know that the Rambam is kodesh kodashim of Rishonim)? But who says the Rambam is right and not me? What R' Akiva held, what Moshe Rabeinu held, what Hashem himself holds? But you see, when you are arguing with an Avimelech, even G-d's word itself is not proof enough.
So much for this rant. Maybe a difficult Rashba later this week if I recover the urge to write.