Iyov, whose blog I recommend, makes the following statement in a comment to a previous post:
I have yet to ever meet a Jew who "reads Ben Sira with a sympathetic eye."
Iyov should get out a little more. The quotation below the fold proves that Iyov is all wet. It is taken from online teaching on “Miketz Genesis” (Genesis 41:1-44:17) by Yaakov Fogelman. Fogelman directs TOP, the Torah Outreach Program and The Jerusalem Jewish Information Center in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem. He studied at The Rabbinical Seminary of America, and is a graduate of Yeshiva University.
Parallel to false and evil prophets are false dreams (see Jer. 23:25, Zech. 10:2). Rashby, R. Berechia, and R. Hisda note that all dreams have SOME extraneous, superfluous, and unfulfilled material (Ber. 55a-- Yosef's parents never bow down to him!). Yoel 3:1 predicts that all Jews will have prophetic dreams in the world to come. Ben Sira (31:1ff) denounces belief in dreams, which uplift fools. Speaking of Ben Sira, let's depart for
AN INTERESTING DIGRESSION: After the Mishna (San. 11:1 in the Babylonian Talmud, San. 10:1 in the Jerusalem Talmud-- see the Soncino Talmud) proclaims that all Israel have a portion in the world to come (including those executed by the Sanhedrin), it lists exceptions who do not-- he who maintains that resurrection is not a Biblical doctrine, that the Torah was not divinely revealed (cf. The German Documentary Hypothesis, taught at H.U., H.U.C., J.T.S., and R.R.C.), and an epikores, defined in the talmud as one who speaks disparagingly of the Bible and its disciples.
Rebbe Akiva added: "one who reads uncanonical books", sefarim ha-chitzonim, lit. "outside books". Graetz and Weiss claim that this refers to un-Jewish, particularly Gnostic, literature, which impaired pure Jewish monotheism. The Jerusalem Talmud's examples are the Books of Ben Sira and Ben La'anah, while reading Homer and all subsequent books is considered only as the reading of a letter (which doesn't claim Divine origin, eternal relevance; so Esther requests that her "letter" be made into a "book", i.e. canonized, made part of the Tanach, which merges truth and peace-- see Esther 9:29-32). In the Babylonian Talmud (100b), "uncanonical books" are defined by a Tanna as "the books of the Sadducees".
R. Travers Herford, a true friend of Israel and a lover of its Torah, translated and explained Pirke Avot, from a Jewish viewpoint, in 1925; the 6th printing of the 4th edition was published in 1971 by Schocken. He claimed that Sadducees here refers to Judeo-Christians, who propounded the "outside books" of their New Testament. There were no Sadducees after the destruction of the Temple; "Sadducees" is probably a censor's emendation for sectarians or Gentiles; Ms. M. reads minim. Rav Yosef attempted to ban Ben Sira too, except for its good parts, but other rabbis argue with him (San. 100b), showing that Jewish tradition contains the same ideas which he disputes in Ben Sira. Indeed, Yad Ramah and others imply that Ben Sira was once canonized, later removed, by the rabbis (see JQR, 1891, 686 and 700). In fact, Ben Sira's wisdom is frequently quoted in the Talmud. Some say that Rav Yosef prohibits only the public reading of non-canonical works, treating them as Scripture, and expounding them to the community (V. Krochmal, More Nvuchei Hazman, XI, 5).
Rabbi Y'rachmiel Roness, who directs Ulpanot L'giyur, made some interesting comments on this material to me at the beautiful and inspiring religious Zionist wedding of Rom Wahrhaftig and Adina Ben Dov last year; you may call him at 652-7154, to get his full exposition of this ban.
Isn’t that sweet? It’s especially enjoyable to hear Ben Sira quoted with approval by someone who is at pains to point out his disagreement on other matters with those who teach what I imagine he considers to be higher anti-Semitism at Hebrew University, Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, the Jewish Theological Seminary, and – horror of horrors - the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.