The Afterlife Of Scholarship: A Critical Review Of The Rebbe By Samuel Heilman And Menachem Friedman
Publish Date: 2011-04-15
Author: Chaim Rapoport
The Afterlife of Scholarship is a detailed review of The Rebbe: The Life and Afterlife of Menachem Mendel Schneerson (Princeton University Press, 2010).
Chaim Rapoport, a noted scholar and rabbi, contends that The Rebbe's authors, Samuel Heilman and Menachem Friedman, made serious and sloppy errors in their pseudo-biography of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
Soon after the publication of The Rebbe, Rapoport published an initial essay highlighting some of the flaws in their work. Not long afterwards, Heilman and Friedman answered with a rebuttal essay. Rapoport responded with another essay, as did Heilman and Friedman. This fascinating public dialogue unfolded over three cycles, in which the flustered authors conceded that they made a number of factual errors in their work.
The present volume, The Afterlife of Scholarship: A Critical Review of The Rebbe by Samuel Heilman and Menachem Friedman, is a reworked version of Rapoports original essays, with two new appendixes. The Afterlife of Scholarship is geared toward the layman, and with more than 30 illustrations and over 500 footnotes, it is sure to provide ample material for Schneerson's future biographers. The Afterlife of Scholarship is the perfect companion volume to The Rebbe: The Life and Afterlife of Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
What others have said about these books:
[Rapoport has crafted an] impressively knowledgeable critique -- Adam Kirsch in Tablet Magazine
[Heilman and Friedmans] book is marked by a serious number of factual errors-- Zalman Alpert in the Ben Atlas blog
At times the attempt to find evidence leads [Heilman and Friedman] to errors. Rabbi Chaim Rapoport wrote a lengthy review In the authors response to his critique they admit that they have made mistakes. Greater caution could have prevented this embarrassment. -- Tomer Persico in Makor Rishon (in Hebrew)
Rapoport has gotten the better of the exchange a failure of biographical research and imagination on Heilman and Friedman's part -- Abraham Socher in the Jewish Review of Books
I cannot help but harbor the belief that the authors started with a particular agenda --  and then rummaged through a mountain of arbitrary facts to support their thesis. -- Shmuely Boteach in The Jewish Week
[Heilman and Friedman] unfortunately play trivial pursuit present hearsay as facts and sometimes wade into the cynical end of the research pool with tabloid-style innuendos and suppositions. -- Joe Bobker in the Jerusalem Report
[T]here are peculiar omissions and contradictions [in Heilman and Friedman's book] Readers of this biography may wonder if the authors have failed to grasp their subject-- David Klinghoffer in London's Jewish Chronicle
Readers looking for a thorough exploration of Menachem Mendel Schneerson's thought will not find it in this book. -- Nathaniel Deutsch in Haaretz
Heilman and Friedman rarely manage to unearth anything that exposes their subject's private emotional word they cannot seem to penetrate it. -- Keith Kahn-Harris in the Times Literary Supplement
[He] criticized the book for  ignoring a vast amount of primary material which would frequently contradict its assertions. -- Steven I. Weiss as quoted in the New York Times
Heilman-Friedman's conclusion is based on nothing [It] is more akin to a spitball than to any substantiated academic conclusion, not what you'd expect from a pair of professors who demand to be taken seriously. -- Jonathan Mark in The Jewish Week