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Women and Minyan

 

I. Labels and Methods

A recent paper on women and prayer offers us the opportunity to explore the confusion caused by post-denominational terminology. In particular, the label “halakhic” masks radically different attitudes towards halakhah that yield significantly different religious behavior.

A recent paper titled “Egalitarianism, Tefillah and Halakhah” by Rabbis Ethan Tucker and Micha’el Rosenberg (henceforth “the authors”) addresses women’s roles in public prayer (link – PDF). The authors are essentially post-denominational, although they both have Orthodox ordination in addition to academic training in JTS, and a recent article referred to Rabbi Tucker as “non-mainstream Orthodox” (link). Right now we will examine the second of two parts in the paper, and I think we will find an approach to halakhah that Orthodox Jews would consider radical.

The following elements can be found in this section:

  1. Attributing halakhic positions to sociological and historical attitudes
  2. Relying on minority views
  3. Extending those minority views based on changed sociological conditions
  4. Dismissing lightly the views of prominent Rishonim
  5. Ignoring centuries of unanimous and/or majority halakhic precedents

I am not accusing the authors of being dishonest. To the opposite, they are very explicit about their methodologies and serious about their goals. The only issue is that I reject some of their methodologies.

II. Children and Minyan

With that in mind, let us begin. The Gemara nevers states that women cannot count for a minyan for prayer, except for one place according to some commentaries (Berakhos 45b; see Tosafos, ad loc. sv. ve-has). Rishonim, however, routinely stated that women cannot count for a prayer quorum, and this been repeatedly codified (e.g. Mishneh Torah, Hilkhos Tefillah 12:3; Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 55:1). The Rishonim offer different reasons for this ruling, based on the Talmudic scriptural derivations of the requirement for a minyan. This point is important. Of the various derivations of the requirement for a minyan, all but one (martyrdom) are asmakhta’os, post facto associations rather than derivations (Ran, on Rif, Megillah 23b sv. ve-ein nosim). The law was assumed and the Sages attempted to find a scriptural hint. Rishonim then built on top of these asmakhta’os to further explain the halakhah as they understood it.

The authors focus their attention on a minority view, on which they build their theory of women and minyan. The Gemara (Berakhos 47b) asks a series of questions regarding the tenth member of a minyan. Can we count a child as the tenth? A Torah ark (aron)? The Gemara concludes that we cannot. However, Rabbenu Tam (quoted in the Rosh there and in other commentaries) suggests that the Gemara answers “no” to all of the questions except for the first, regarding a child. Therefore, nine men can count a child as the tenth and recite all prayers that require a minyan. Rabbenu Tam was too hesitant to put it into practice himself but, in theory, allowed it.

III. Two Aspects of Minyan

According to Rabbenu Tam, there are two aspects of minyan. The divine presence descends onto a gathering of ten Jews — anyone commanded in mitzvos, including children and slaves. However, because of “yekara di-shmaya“, honor of Heaven, we only count adult males in the minyan. Counting one child with nine men, Rabbenu Tam suggests, is not a slight to yekara di-shmaya and therefore, in theory if not in practice, is allowed.

While Rabbenu Tam did not allow this practice himself, others did. There is an ongoing dispute whether, in a time of great need, one child may be included as the tenth in a minyan (perhaps while holding a Torah scroll). The Shulchan Arukh (Orach Chaim 55:4) rules that even in a time of great need one may not count a child and most later authorities follow suit (e.g. Chayei Adam 30:1). However, the Magen Avraham (55:5) permits it in a time of great need.

IV. Women and Minyan

The Mordekhai (Berakhos ch. 7 no 158) quotes Rabbenu Simcha who applied Rabbenu Tam’s leniency to a woman, as well. While there are some authorities who allow reliance on Rabbenu Tam’s position in a time of great need, I am not aware of any who follow Rabbenu Simcha.

The Ba’al Ha-Ma’or (on Berakhos 35b) goes further and allows counting multiple children in a minyan, as long as they aren’t the majority. Ramban (Milchamos, ad loc.) argues and, to my knowledge, no authority rules like the Ba’al Ha-Ma’or. If we combine the positions of Ba’al Ha-Ma’or with Rabbenu Simcha, we could count multiple women in a minyan. However, to my knowledge no authority has ever done this.

IV. Extrapolation

The authors do not really go in this direction. Instead, they take Rabbenu Tam’s theory of minyan and apply it to the majority of Rishonim. Rabbenu Tam, the great dialectician, found two aspects to minyan — Jewishness (commanded in mitzvos) and honor of Heaven. The authors suggest that everyone agrees with this duality. They only disagree with the definition of honor of Heaven. According to Rabbenu Tam, counting one child or slave is not a dishonor to Heaven. According to the majority, it is. Therefore, today, when counting women toward a minyan involves no slight to the honor of Heaven, it is entirely acceptable.

This is extremely problematic because there is no hint of this in any writings, even those subsequent to Rabbenu Tam. Furthermore, as mentioned above, many Rishonim offer scriptural derivations for the exclusion of women from minyan. Even if, as is likely, those derivations are asmakhta’os, they demonstrate an inherent exclusion and not an ancillary concern of honor of Heaven. The Rishonim, if you take them at their word, accepted the exclusion of women and others as a rule without exceptions.

V. Dismissal

The authors are fully aware of this. They propose that the Rishonim ruled based on sociological bias: they considered women to be non-citizens and excluded them from minyan for that reason. The scriptural associations? They are weak and cannot be accepted at face value. I would hesitate before dismissing explicit reasons offered by Rishonim, if only because I might be wrong. For example, one reason offered, based on Berakhos 54b and Kesubos 7b, is that minyan requires a kahal and women are not included in it. The authors argue against this idea and dismiss it. However, R. Yehudah Henkin anticipated these questions, answering them and upholding this position (Bnei Banim 4:5: – link).

But even if you reject the argumentation of the Rishonim, that does not mean that they did not mean it seriously. Yet, the authors assert that the vast majority of Rishonim ruled out of reasons that can be explained sociologically and attempted to justify it, weakly, with other explanations.

In doing this, the authors not only invoke non-halakhic methodologies, they also dismiss the vast majority of Acharonim. There is a wide literature about the exclusion of women from minyan. Rabbi Aryeh Frimer wrote a comprehensive article on the subject (link), describing the three different approaches among authorities. The authors not only ignore these approaches but dismiss the authorities who directly address their question. Instead, they quote obscure Acharonim like R. Avraham Chayim Rodrigues (Orach La-Tzadik), R. Nassan Nata Landau (Ura Shachar) and R. Yaakov Emden (OK, I’ve heard of him). Compare that with the Frimer article, which contains a long list of commentators and authorities who serve as the pillars of Jewish law.

For example, the Levush (Orach Chaim 55:4 – link) explains the majority view as requiring full obligation in mitzvos to count for a minyan. He does not say that counting anyone who is not fully obligated is a lack of honor of Heaven. The authors are aware of this (and other explanations) but dismiss them as later distortions of the true view of the Rishonim.

VI. Consensus

It is important to note that the proposal to count a woman as the tenth member of a minyan is over 700 years old. However, while counting a child has been debated, counting a woman has been roundly rejected by a wide consensus of authorities — even when there is otherwise no minyan in a city! According to the authors, the concept of honor of Heaven was considered so vague that the authorities considered counting a woman to be a violation but not a child. However, according to the Rishonim themselves and the Acharonim who followed them, women are inherently excluded on halakhic, not sociological, grounds.

I point all this out because denominational labels have meaning. While every denomination contains a spectrum of views, the labels are still helpful in identifying general approaches. The authors’ historical/skeptical approach — associating halakhic rulings with historical and sociological causes, dismissing the explanations offered by authorities, building on minority opinions and ignoring consensus views — is that typically associated with the Conservative movement. Calling it “non-mainstream Orthodox,” “post-denominational” or simply “halakhic” is unhelpful because it minimizes the important intellectual influences underlying the approach. Please do not misunderstand me. I am dismissing the authors’ position for the reasons explained above, not because of a label. But I ask you whether labels are really as meaningless as some today claim.

 

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Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of Torah Musings.

 
The opinions and facts here are presented solely by the author. Torah Musings assumes no responsibility for them. Please address religious questions to your rabbi.
 

162 Responses

  1. IH says:

    I look forward to a more serious response to the paper in question. This topic is deserving of real debate without hiding behind 20th century denominational politics that are increasingly irrelevant.

    See the recent Brandeis study for evidence that all the movements — including Orthodox — are losing affiliation market share, despite a healthy growth in the demographics of American Jews who self-indentify as Jews by religion.

    One might start, for example, with a comparison of the authors’ analysis to that of Rabbi Daniel Spreber; and others grappling with the most significant societal change — the changing role of women — of the last 100 years (and arguably longer). Halacha will adapt to this change — the question is how and when will that “how” become mainstream.

  2. Ezra says:

    Ironically, this article has left me more in favor of Rabbis Ethan Tucker and Micha’el Rosenberg views on the subject than I was before I read the article.

    Also, their views on the subject are still “halakhic,” you just disagree with them about the limits of meta-halakha, a halakhic discussion in and of itself.

  3. wolfman says:

    Readers should be aware that Rabbis Tucker and Rosenberg both received semikha from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, and studied at Orthodox yeshivot in Israel.

  4. Anonymous says:

    And, given the above fact, the author would do better not to obscure the background of his intellectual adversaries in order to caricature them and simplify a complicated question.

  5. MDJ says:

    You are quick to ascribe sociological (“intellectual”) influences to the present authors and just as quick to dismiss their ascription of the same to Rishonim.

  6. Jon_Brooklyn says:

    It’s interesting that this post got 4 responses from people who never commented here before, all against the post. Personally, I would vote this one for top post of the year.

  7. @Jon_Brooklyn: Oh, are people only allowed to comment when they agree? I wasn’t aware of that rule. Maybe these commenters are occasional readers like myself who don’t usually feel the need to comment.

  8. Jon_Brooklyn says:

    Did I ever say anything like that? I said it was interesting. Are we allowed to put words in someone’s mouth and then attack them for it? I wasn’t aware of that rule.

  9. Jonathan says:

    I have actually read through the entire paper and have many substantive arguments, which hopefully I will get around to publicizing in the future. The paper is full of misquotes, misunderstandings, and bad argumenta. (One need not go past page two – see the end of the Teshuva of R. Uzziel quoted where he explicitly rejects the psak they attribute to him.) However, in the meantime I will suffice with one broad point. The real problem with the paper is that it assumes its answer. The difference between orthodoxy and non-orthodoxy, between the truly halakhically committed and the non-committed is whether you enter halakhic questions trying to hear the voice of God your own. The process of deciding Halahkah is about listening to what God has to tell you – sometimes you get the answer you want and sometimes you don’t. Either way you listen. If you enter the question with the answer already decided, you are worshiping yourself, not God. Post facto justification is a way of deifying yourself, of making yourself into the commander of Torah law. That attitude is a bastardization of Halakhah, and it is that perspective that makes this paper an absolute ziyuf Hatorah.

  10. Jon_Brooklyn says:

    The non-Orthodox would tell you the Orthodox do it just as much as anyone else.

  11. IH says:

    Jonathan, you weaken your position by (again) casting aspirations on the authors. Make your case via halachic disputation, please.

  12. IH says:

    Typo: “aspirations” should be “aspersions”. Laila Tov.

  13. Josh says:

    @Jonathan:

    First, let’s be clear that your “broad point” is not a serious objection to the paper. It is an ad hominem attack on the authors that happens to be couched in meta-halachic terms. If the paper’s halachic argument is strong, then the fact that it also agrees with its authors’ own moral intuition is really beside the point. If you object to the paper on its merits you should be making that case, not trying to discredit the authors by calling them names.

    Second, to ask you a serious question about what you’ve written: If you really think it’s possible to leave all of your own assumptions and intuitions that shape the way you think and interpret halachic texts behind and simply “hear the voice of God” – do you believe this extends to other human experiences as well? Do you think that people can leave all of their assumptions behind when they’re interacting in social situations? When they’re reading a news story about Hamas or Iran? When they’re deciding the legality of health care reform or another contentious legal issue? Do you think people are usually blank slates in this way, or is this special behavior that occurs during a psak halacha? (Again, this is an honest question – your attitude toward how psak works seems pretty strange to me, and I’m trying to understand better how you see this working.)

  14. Jonathan says:

    At IH:
    First of all, it is not again, as that was my first post. Second, the hour is late, and I will not go through all 90 pages now. But, just to prove that I am not making things up, I will suffice with two, and then bid you a good night.
    1)Example of misrepresented quote. Page 2: The authors quote R. Uzziel as saying that nowadays women and children should be allowed to be shat”z. However, I quote later in that same teshuva:
    את זאת אני אומר להלכה, אבל למעשה נראה שלא הגון הוא שקטנים מבני י”ג יעברו לפני התיבה, שהרי מ”ש הרשב”א דיכולים הצבור למחול על כבודם אינו מוסכם.  
    וכמ”ש הטו”ז: שדבר זה הוא כבוד שמים שאין כבודם של הצבור להעמיד ש”ץ שלא הגיע לבר מצוה, הלכך אין הדבר מסור בידם למחול על כבוד שמים שהוא כבודם (או”ח סי’ נ”ג ס”ק מ’, ומג”א ס”ק ט). 
     
    ולפיכך גם כשכל הצבור הם קטנים צריכים להעמיד עובר לפני התיבה גדול שהתמלא זקנו או שהגיע לכלל זה והיינו בן עשרים, או לכל הפחות שיהיה בן י”ג, היינו שהגיע לכלל בר מצוה. 
      
    ולכן נראה לי שחובת מצוה היא על מנהלי בית הכנסת להקפיד שהעוברים לפני התיבה בברכות ק”ש ותפלות ומוספים יהיו אלה שכבר הגיעו לבר מצוה ומעלה. 
     
    והקטנים מגיל זה יתחנכו בתפקיד זה בפסוקי דזמרה שלפני ברכות ק”ש. 
     

    That part was conveniently left out. R. Uzziel himself does not rule the way that imply that he does.

    2)Note footnote 8. One of the arguments in the body of the paper is that the halakhot now are less stringent, as hazarat hasha’tz is merely perfunctory. The implication is that when hazarat hasha”tz serves its classic role, women should most likely be excluded. However, in the footnote, they present what could be a damning argument to their claim – namely that in fact they believe hazarat hasha”tz has not changed roles, bur rather it is “an independent form of public prayer that functions as a mode of communal worship.” However, this argument is conveniently left out of the body of the paper, because it works against them. Instead, they get out of addressing this argument with the useful “this issue is beyond the scope of this paper.”

    So I present to you a misrepresented quote and a purposely avoided argument. I will continue at some point, but not now. I assure you, these are not the only ones I have found. This is only on page 2…

    At Josh – I do not deny that people cannot always leave their assumptions behind. However, we must make an effort. We must be as objective as possible. It is one thing to takes one’s own perspective into account, and an entirely another to assume that one’s own position is correct no matter what. I will openly admit that people’s own assumptions factor in. However, it is late, and I do not want to write extensively on this at the moment.

  15. Jonathan says:

    And @ Josh, as for my “broad point,” I do as well think the argumentation is weak, as I mentioned and began to show in my previous posts. I present it as such because this contention is levied not just at this paper, but at everything they do at Yeshivat Hadar. I have listened to many of their lectures and read other articles/posts, and I am simply noting a trend. It is fundamentally problematic, and the expressions of it are obvious in the fallacious argumentation that is rampant in what they produce.

  16. Jon_Brooklyn says:

    Josh – How about the Rav, who said that the Halakhic Man (an ideal type, right, so you can’t say he’s talking about a metzius) doesn’t approach the Halakha as a blank slate? You’re welcome to disagree with the Rav, of course, but at least acknowledge you’re disagreeing with him.

    I agree with you – I do think they chose their conclusion in advance. But there might not necessarily be anything wrong with that.

  17. Menachem Mendel says:

    “The Ba’al Ha-Ma’or (on Berakhos 35b) goes further and allows counting multiple children in a minyan, as long as they aren’t the majority. Ramban (Milchamos, ad loc.) argues and, to my knowledge, no authority rules like the Ba’al Ha-Ma’or.”

    See the Orhot Hayyim, Hilchot Tefillah, no. 73 for at least one other authority who held like the Ba’al ha-Ma’or.

  18. Zev says:

    From the post:

    “Right now we will examine the second of two parts in the paper, and I think we will find an approach to halakhah that Orthodox Jews would consider radical.

    The following elements can be found in this section:
    1. Attributing halakhic positions to sociological and historical attitudes
    2. Relying on minority views
    3. Extending those minority views based on changed sociological conditions
    4. Dismissing lightly the views of prominent Rishonim
    5. Ignoring centuries of unanimous and/or majority halakhic precedents”

    While the paper itself may in fact utilize these elements in a radical way, as listed by Gil, none of these elements strike me as “radical”.

    Number (1) can be read a number of ways, but I think we would all attribute the Chofetz Chayim’s decision to allow teaching Torah to women as being based on the historical circumstance that he was facing.

    Number (2) is standard halachic practice when there is a sufficient need to do so.

    In regard to number (3): If sociology features prominently in the logic supporting a particular position, (see the first point) then changing sociological factors will almost certainly dictate a change in that position, either extending or restricting it. This reasoning is independent of whether the position is a majority opinion or a minority opinion.

    Number (4) really seems to be an amalgam of numbers (2) and (5).

    Number (5) is only an issue if in fact the opinion is “the undisputed opinion of the Shulchan Aruch and commentaries,” at least according to the Igrot Moshe (YD 1:101), as pointed out by Rabbi Broyde in Jewish Action and on this blog.

  19. curious says:

    Gil,

    It is very unlike you to confuse academic and religious training. If someone has semicha from the Chief Rabbinate and trained in Orthodox yeshivot in Israel, presumably that is the “training” relevant to a Halachic argument. The fact that R. Tucker’s academic training was at JTS and Harvard seems beside the point. Unless you think that somehow JTS and Harvard undid years of Orthodox Torah training? But you didn’t make that argument, which I think would be difficult considering the number of Orthodox Jews who haved passed through both places unscathed. You certainly must understand that JTS is understood as a pejorative by a certain segment of your readership, so perhaps you can find a less tendentious way of referring to their training?

  20. Moshe Shoshan says:

    I think the key question is: given that the arguments are compelling, who has the authority to issue a psak that over turns the simple reading of the shulchan aruch and at least a millennium of universal practice?

    i don’t know the answer to this question, but I think that it is crucial to the discussion.

  21. Shlomo says:

    The best counter-argument to this article is quite simple.

    If we follow the approach of this article, then what conclusions CAN’T we reach?

  22. Hirhurim says:

    IH: This topic is deserving of real debate without hiding behind 20th century denominational politics that are increasingly irrelevant.

    Really? That’s all you got from this post? 5% about denominations rather than the 95% of substance?

    Ezra: Also, their views on the subject are still “halakhic,” you just disagree with them about the limits of meta-halakha, a halakhic discussion in and of itself.

    With that definition, so was the responsum permitting driving on Shabbos and every Reform responsum that rejects the binding nature of halakhah.

    Wolfman: Readers should be aware that Rabbis Tucker and Rosenberg both received semikha from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, and studied at Orthodox yeshivot in Israel.

    I guess they should also be aware that Rosenberg teaches at JTS (at least he is listed as such on the JTs website).

    Curious: First, plenty of Conservative rabbis began with Orthodox training, but that is beside the point. This is about their methodologies and if they came out of Lakewood with these approaches, they would still be invalid in the halakhic process. But the fact that they came out of JTS with them makes a lot of sense.

    Moshe: I don’t find the arguments compelling at all, nor do I accept that halakhah has to change to keep up with the times. That is not how the Rav thought of halakhah.

  23. aiwac says:

    >>The best counter-argument to this article is quite simple.

    If we follow the approach of this article, then what conclusions CAN’T we reach?<<

    My thoughts exactly. It does feel that some, though obviously not all, people who argue for change are essentially "reductionists" a la Peter Berger.

    As someone who tries to self-identify as a Centrist, I often feel caught between deductionist RWers who won't move even when it's called for, and reductionists for whom all boundaries are arbitrary and meaningless anyway (Orthodox puts it here, Conservatives here, Reform more to the left, atheists take away the goal posts – what's the difference?) and the only thing that determines anything are social winds.

    Surely it would be more productive to figure out a path that recognizes change but also that certain boundaries are immutable and real and not just arbitrary whims. Otherwise it would mean we don't really stand for anything (and neither does anyone else, by extension).

    If we don't search for "third ways", then I think these debates are pointless. To those who would argue that a synthesis will arise from these irreconcilably opposite positions without said search, I can only reply with the immortal words of David Hackett Fischer in Historians' Fallacies regarding synthesizing two contrary historical theses:

    "A debate between two raving lunatics is unlikely to issue in a triumph of reason".

    Vd"l.

    Shabbat Shalom

    Avi/AIWAC

  24. Baruch says:

    I am not averse to being open to new moral understandings in our understanding of Torah, but I think we should also keep in mind RSRH’s very apt comment that Judaism, at its inception, was very much not “up to date” and actually represented a rebellion to some of the prevailing ideas at the time.

  25. Stefan says:

    2.Relying on minority views
    3.Extending those minority views based on changed sociological conditions

    I accept Rabbi Student’s assertion that the authors in question were not dishonest in that they were open about their methodology. However, I have repeatedly encountered heterodox/post-denominational people who use points 2 and 3 above to argue all sorts of trendy propositions with the veneer of halachic respectability. It may not be consciously dishonest in some/many/most cases but it is downright misleading for the vast majority of Jews who know little or nothing about the workings of halacha. Stumbling blocks and blind people come to mind.

  26. Moshe Shoshan says:

    Gil,
    Lets not bring the Rav into this. No one here is claiming that he would have even considered the arguments or the conclusion in question.
    Further, I never said that the arguments are compelling nor that they should not be attacked on substantive grounds as you and others have done, quite ablely. (though i am not familiar either with the”teshuva” or the sources it cites to have an informed opinion.)
    Rather I meant to say that EVEN IF you and I were to find Ethan Tucker and Mikhael Rosenberg’s arguments to be compelling, it would not necessarily have implications for our practice or our attitudes towards that of others. First we would need to determine if these fellow have sufficiently “broad shoulders” to bring their ideas from the beis medrash into the realm of halacha lemaaseh.

  27. wolfman says:

    Gil wrote: I guess they should also be aware that Rosenberg teaches at JTS (at least he is listed as such on the JTs website).

    Shkoiyah. So what? Would you like me to list the Orthodox faculty who teach at JTS, who themselves identify as Orthodox, don’t daven egal, and also simultaneously teach at Orthodox institutions? In any case, the question is not what they do now (since it’s clear that they affiliate with and run communities that are outside the Orthodox communal consensus). The issue you raised is with their training. And if you think they’re doing something wrong, take it up with their teachers and with the rabbanut, neither of whom have revoked their affiliation with them nor their semikha.

    It’s true that they don’t play the Orthodoxy game, neither in terms of political identification nor in terms of the self-imposed systemic rules that your segment of Orthodoxy likes to portray are הלכה למשה מסיני. I understand your need to feel like you are a defender of The Truth _and_ intellectually honest/open-minded. But I suspect that (a) no amount of cogent argumentation would convince you that your systemic rules don’t fully explain the data presented by halakhic texts in aggregate and (b) no amount of cogent argumentation would convince you that the full (or, as demonstrated by other posts of yours, even partial) participation of women in davening is permissible, let alone a good idea. דע מה להשיב is fine, but it’s a bit farcical to pretend that you’re rejecting them based on the merits of their case (95%/5% merits:labels as you portray it), when the majority of the demerits have to do with violating what you portray as inviolable premises that, as Zev has shown above, are themselves violable as circumstances warrant (and, perhaps, not really even so helpful in light of the data in the first place). (And you don’t think the circumstances warrant their violation. Again, fine.) And to the extent that your (and others’) counterarguments have substantive merit, I have no doubt that the authors, in possession of quite a bit of intellectual honesty of their own, will respond as they see fit.

  28. Joshua says:

    Hirhurim: “Furthermore, as mentioned above, many Rishonim offer scriptural derivations for the exclusion of women from minyan. Even if, as is likely, those derivations are asmakhta’os, they demonstrate an inherent exclusion and not an ancillary concern of honor of Heaven.”

    This sentence misunderstands the true nature of the asmakhta, which Rambam explains in Moreh Nevukhim, part III, ch. 43 (Friedlander trans.):

    “As regards the Arba Minim, our Sages gave a reason for their use by way of aggadic interpretation, the method of which is well known to those who are acquainted with the style of our Sages. They use the text of the Bible only as a kind of poetical language [for their own ideas], and do not intend thereby to give an interpretation of the text. As to the value of these Midrasbic interpretations, we. meet with two different opinions. For some think that the Midrash contains the real explanation of the text, whilst others, finding that it cannot be reconciled with the words quoted, reject and ridicule it. The former struggle and fight to prove and to confirm such interpretations according to their opinion, and to keep them as the real meaning of the text; they consider them in the same light as traditional laws. Neither of the two classes understood it, that our Sages employ biblical texts merely as poetical expressions, the meaning of which is clear to every reasonable reader. This style was general in ancient days; all adopted it in the same way as poets.”

    Rambam goes on to give examples where Chazal were clearly not deriving their moral message from the biblical text (neither using peshat nor derash), but were merely using the text as a mnemonic by which to convey the message using already familiar biblical sayings (e.g., the ashmakhta linked to “ve-yated tihyeh al azeinekha” in Deut. 24:13, by which Chazal taught that one should put his fingers in his ears whenever he hears lashon hara). Now, if Rambam could say this about Chazal’s asmakhta’ot, why would you assume that the Rishonim’s asmakhta’ot are any different (especially since the Rishonim had no independent power to derive halakhot from the Mikra, and were restricted — at least on the level of p’sak halakha — to the biblical extrapolations previously performed by Chazal)? The Rishonim could very well have generated their views about the admissibility of women to a minyan in light of open-ended halakhic considerations of kavvod tzibbur and honor of Heaven, but simply “hung” them on p’sukim that were familiar to the Jewish public, and by which they could better convey those views. This in no way indicates, however, that the Rishonim’s exclusion of women from the minyan was an “inherent exclusion.” Thus, I think your other arguments constitute a far more cogent critique of the authors’ article.

    Good Shabbos!

  29. MDJ says:

    Joshua,
    IIRC correctly, you don’t have ot go to the Moreh for this. It is in the hakdamah to his peirush. But not adopting the Rambam’s approach is not the same as misunderstanding the concept. His is not the only way.

  30. BZ says:

    Jonathan writes:
    2)Note footnote 8. One of the arguments in the body of the paper is that the halakhot now are less stringent, as hazarat hasha’tz is merely perfunctory. The implication is that when hazarat hasha”tz serves its classic role, women should most likely be excluded. However, in the footnote, they present what could be a damning argument to their claim – namely that in fact they believe hazarat hasha”tz has not changed roles, bur rather it is “an independent form of public prayer that functions as a mode of communal worship.” However, this argument is conveniently left out of the body of the paper, because it works against them. Instead, they get out of addressing this argument with the useful “this issue is beyond the scope of this paper.”

    If you read on in the paper (one page later), you’ll see that they don’t rely on this argument (that the sha”tz isn’t really a sha”tz anymore) anyway: “Nevertheless, situations arise in which there are no prayer books available, or none in translation in a place where some attendants cannot read Hebrew, or where the congregation includes a person who can read neither Hebrew nor the language into which the book is translated. Therefore, we will elucidate the situation of a Sha”tz fulfilling others’ obligations in prayer, and how gender figures into that equation. We will see that the core principle is that only one obligated in a particular mitzvah is fit to fulfill other people’s obligations in it.” So nothing is “conveniently left out”; the rest of this section directly addresses whether women are qualified to serve as sha”tz in the classic role of a sha”tz as fulfilling the obligations of the kahal.

  31. BZ says:

    Jonathan writes:
    The difference between orthodoxy and non-orthodoxy, between the truly halakhically committed and the non-committed is whether you enter halakhic questions trying to hear the voice of God your own. The process of deciding Halahkah is about listening to what God has to tell you – sometimes you get the answer you want and sometimes you don’t. Either way you listen.

    Give me one example where the (non-Modern) Orthodox world doesn’t get the answer it wants.

    (I exclude MO because the Modern Orthodox world says “We wish women/gays could do X, but our hands are tied, halachah forbids it”, whereas the rest of the Orthodox world doesn’t wish women/gays could do X.)

  32. Zev says:

    BZ asked:

    “Give me one example where the (non-Modern) Orthodox world doesn’t get the answer it wants.”

    Agunot.

  33. Hirhurim says:

    Zev: While the paper itself may in fact utilize these elements in a radical way, as listed by Gil, none of these elements strike me as “radical”.

    These are classic arguments that went on for decades between the Orthodox and Conservative movements, before the Conservative movement moved so far away that there was no point in debating.

    Moshe: I apologize for misunderstanding your point. I agree with you although I think some of the Rav’s delineations of the boundaries of Orthodoxy are relevant.

    Wolfman: You’re the one who brought it up. While teaching at JTS does not necessarily imply affiliation or influence, it is a valuable data point.

    Joshua: I think you misunderstand my point regarding asmakhtaos. I am not claiming that they are bona fide biblical derivations. I am saying that they imply a direct and not indirect reason. If women cannot be counted in a minyan because of yekara dishmaya, you wouldn’t bring a pasuk about the definition of minyan. You would bring a pasuk about honor of Heaven.

  34. Not so sure about that says:

    >Agunot.

    Is that why there’s such a קול רעש about agunot in the (non-Modern) Orthodox world?

  35. IH says:

    Rabbi Student: I was a teenager when Rabbi Riskin bravely allowed women to dance with Sifrei Torah on Simchat Torah. Not to mention, the now famous first formal Bat Mizva at LSS of a girl, Elena Kagan, who is now a Supreme Court Justice. In the years since, we have seen many more attempts within Orthodoxy to reconcile halacha with the revolutionary change in society regarding the role of women.

    The founding of Drisha in 1979 — 4 years before women were admitted into the JTS Rabbinical students at JTS – was another enabler of change. Since then we have seen significant acceptance of women’s minyanim and other mitigations that have erred on change within a (small “c”) conservative reading of halacha. But, an increasing number of Modern Orthodox feel this is insufficient – some actively forming independent minyanim and most just bearing the pain.

    And so, today, we have some bold leaders who are absolutely committed to a normative approach to halacha pushing on the boundaries to find ways in which to allow halachic Judaism to evolve to the societal context in which it exists. Pushing boundaries always engenders opposition – and this is right, as long as it is with respect. Your posting was polluted with disrespect, which made your other points suspect.

    The Brandeis study shows a 17% attrition rate amongst Orthodoxy: 6% self-identify as being raised Orthodox; 5% self-identify as currently Orthodox (n.b. Conservative affiliation is even more dire). Some of that attrition is to independent minyanim, but I fear that far more are Jews who have just given up. And since the issue we’re discussing is material to 50% of Orthodox Jews, surely it is worthy of serious and respectful debate.

    Being machmir doesn’t take a talmid chacham. Orthodoxy needs fine minds like yours working through the issues, rather than taking pot shots. I am pleased that you have taken notice of this work (and let others know). But, we would all benefit far more – particularly Orthodox women — from your constructive criticism of Rabbis Tucker & Rosenberg’s draft. Too much is at stake for the survival of Modern Orthodoxy as a movement to do otherwise.

    Shabbat Shalom

  36. joel rich says:

    at the price of scooping myself, here’s a draft entry in next week’s (iy”h) audioroundup – as i’ve said many times before, the real debate is who has the keys (authority)?
    From R’Twersky (reviewed below) concerning first allowance of Beit Yaakov by the Gedolim (chachmei hamesora) – “Not that they rachmana ltzlan overruled the gemara in Sotah. No one said that we feel differently, we say differently. They said that they felt that the mesorah, when it gave the directive of the gemara in Sotah where Chazal opposed imposing learning upon girls who were not obligated in Talmud Torah that Chazal gave that directive at a time when emunah and ahavat torah and yirat shamayim were something that was imbibed in the home through osmosis where the tradition was so strong and so vibrant and in our time Chazal never gave such a direction”
    IMHO the countless trees and ink (now electrons reconfigured on countless computer screens) debating the “issues of the day” outlining countless halachic sources could be replaced by a debate on the 5 words above “they said that they felt”
    Comments?

    KT

  37. Hirhurim says:

    Where was I disrespectful?

    We cannot change Judaism to make it more popular. That’s been tried time and again in the past, to no avail.

  38. curious says:

    Yes, that’s why the non-Modern orthodox world adopted halachic pre-nups to avoid the problem of agunot. Oh wait…

  39. Joseph Kaplan says:

    “’Give me one example where the (non-Modern) Orthodox world doesn’t get the answer it wants.’

    Agunot.”

    I wonder.

  40. Steve Brizel says:

    I agree with R Gil’s analysis and critique of the paper in question as a great example of being aware of the sum and substance of heterodox agumentation masking itself as halachic arguments, despite my own reservations as to whether it should have been ignored in the first place.

    Moshe Shoshan wrote in part:

    “Lets not bring the Rav into this. No one here is claiming that he would have even considered the arguments or the conclusion in question”

    I disagree. When one reads such heterodox interpretations, it is obvious that the concerns voiced about the same in many of the Drashos of RYBS in RHS’s Divrei HaRav remain a great description of the dividing lines between those who follow and those who trifle with the Mesorah of TSBP.

  41. ruvie says:

    gil -“We cannot change Judaism to make it more popular.”

    you are missing the point. its more relevant that is important. nobody is advocating a popularity contest.
    the way i see it is that both the charedei and mo world’s leaders (mo in america) have leaders who do not understand their followers (or their situations) making pronouncements that will cause the flock to go on their own – and seek guidance elsewhere. in the mo community i see more and more people really not caring what rabbis have to say on certain issues. you have probably the most torah educated lay people in jewish history – this rift will be obvious in the next 10-20 years. leaders have lost control over their flock – but they don’t know it yet.

  42. joel rich says:

    Interesting is how full circle we may have come based on Ruvie’s comment – if you get R’HS’s new divrei harav you will see in the 40’s how R’YBS tried to strenghten the musmachim not to cater to the will of the masses but hearken to their mesorah (I don’t at all mean that as an attack on you Ruvie, one can differentiate the situations) Also if you listen to that R’ Twersky shiur (ok, I’ll totally scoop myself now) I was left with the (draft) question:
    basically in past “it wasn’t from outside!” (me – so if Jewish women just started to leave orthodoxy in droves, the system might react, but if they try to work within the system for change, it won’t because it’s viewed as change from the outside?)

    KT

  43. ruvie says:

    joel – my comment may becoming from a different direction – its not the will of the masses that were lacking in torah learning (my add to your comment). its an observation to certain issues that are in the mo and charedei world. my comment has nothing to do with mesorah – as you described it ( but more to do historical view of halacha and its evolution).
    the debate is an old debate – is halacha a self contained system that is hermetically sealed with no outside or other influence (think morals/ethics) or do common sense, moral and ethics – in dependent or co -dependent with halacha play a role in determining it. wee the yerushalmi in horayot (i think 45d)on the story of shimon ben shetach in return a lost jewel to a non jew.

  44. emma says:

    First, I’d just like to say I appreciate that the vast majority of this discussion has been engaging on substance.
    One notable exception is the JTS remark. the issue is not mentioning JTS, which as you point out is eminently relevant, but implying that that is the only source of their training when you know it is not.
    “The authors are essentially post-denominational, although they were both trained in JTS” just implies something different than “The authors are essentially post-denominational, both having received both orthodox semikha and academic training at JTS.” The latter is more accurate, even in context of explaining how they are “post-denominational.” this is a minor point but it muddies the rest of the discussion by being so obviously agenda-driven.

  45. Hirhurim says:

    I changed the post to say that they both have Orthodox ordination and academic training at JTS. I don’t see how that makes any difference but this whole issue is, in my opinion, so relevant that I don’t really care.

  46. Richard Kahn says:

    The sentence still doesn’t make that much sense:
    “The authors are essentially post-denominational, although they both have Orthodox ordination in addition to academic training in JTS”

    First, do either of them self-identify as post-denominational? Second, if they do, does the “although” signify that any training at a denominational institution threatens this identification?

  47. IH says:

    Joel Rich: Go back a little further into YU’s history for an even better sense of coming full circle: “Agudath HaRabbanim supported the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), which after 1897 became the major Orthodox rabbinic seminary in America. But as early as 1908, when students of RIETS went on strike over the issue of instruction in English, the relationship between the two bodies was a stormy one, especially when the question of Rabbinic ordination was involved. […] Finally, a year after the collapse of the unification negotiations with JTS in 1928, Yeshiva College was established. Again, there was opposition from Agudath HaRabbanim which feared the introduction secular subjects into the curriculum. The leadership of the highly regarded Joseph B. Soloveitchik in 1932 did not still the voices of opposition. Viewing the Ph.D. degree that Soloveitchik had earned at the University of Berlin as evidence of dreaded secularism and seeing Yeshiva College itself as a “nest of atheism,” the ultra-Orthodox refused to enroll their children.” From Feingold’s “A Time for Searching: Entering the Mainstream” p. 108. For those interested, the relevant 4.5 pages can be read in their entirety on Google Books (http://tinyurl.com/2bodnrb).

  48. Joseph Kaplan says:

    “The leadership of the highly regarded Joseph B. Soloveitchik in 1932…”

    Obviously that should be 1942. Is this indicative of the research of the book or the copy editing?

  49. joel rich says:

    IH
    Thanks for the quote – the challenge is that it is far easier to argue the black and white extremes rather than try to steer the middle course (and for that matter perhaps that is the true debate here – what is the middle course that HIKB”H desires of us and come to think of it perhaps the debate is who gets to debate)

    We all need an occasional time out to be sure we are really debating lshem shamayim and not for our own purposes and so Shabbat Shalom.
    KT

  50. Ken Bloom says:

    BZ asked:

    “Give me one example where the (non-Modern) Orthodox world doesn’t get the answer it wants.”

    The (non-Modern) Orthodox world tries to go the next step beyond halacha which is to bend their hearts and desires to the will of God. If there’s something like homosexuals or agunot that they can’t fix in the halacha, they don’t raise a big stink about it because they accept that it’s the will of God that the world has to be this way. (So the most you’ll see in that world for dealing with agunot is activisim on particular cases to get the recalcitrant husband to beit din, and acts of kindness and emotional support to help individual agunot cope. Most of this is not particularly newsworthy.)

    Also, in the (non-Modern) Orthodox world, people who aren’t qualified to have opinions about the halacha don’t make a big stink about their view as to whether they feel the halacha is wrong. They have enough respect for the system to defer to those who are more knowledgeable than they are.

    So there are things that we in the (non-Modern) Orthodox world agree can cause painful situations or can be inconveient, but that’s the will of God.

  51. Zev says:

    For all of the cynicism regarding the non-MO world and agunot, I don’t believe that centrist orthodoxy and a large part of the UO world want a husband to be able to deny his wife a get against an order from a Bet Din.

    For example, the (very much not-MO) Rabbanut in Israel will throw recalcitrant husband into jail. And don’t forget all of the rumors about Chasidim resorting to violence to obtain a get. Anecdotally, I’ve heard friends who learn in BMG complain that the cause of the agunah problem is that Beit Din is no longer able to beat up recalcitrant husband.

    The answer that the non-MO world wants is a way to compel the husband to give a get. They are unable to get this result because (a) they take an overly restrictive view on what types of innovation they can implement (i.e. “we never had a prenup before, so we can’t start now”) and (b) they generally don’t have sufficient compulsory power. (Obviously all compulsion must be within the confines of halacha. The current general risk averse attitude towards psak significantly limits the type of compulsion used.)

    (This does not mean that certain elements of the non-MO world would like to empower husbands to abuse women by withholding a get. For example, see http://www.mishpattsedek.com/. However this approach is far from being dominant)

  52. Zev says:

    Gil wrote:

    “These are classic arguments that went on for decades between the Orthodox and Conservative
    movements, before the Conservative movement moved so far away that there was no point in debating.”

    None of that makes the elements you listed “radical.” They are all accepted techniques when used with proper halachic justification. What makes the linked “Tshuva” (and Conservative responsa in general) radical is that these elements are often used in an unjustified and highly non-traditional manner. (The general quality of the “lomdus” used is often very shoddy as well, but that alone doesn’t make a psak radical. It just makes it wrong.)

    By refusing to let Orthodox poskim use the elements listed in a traditional manner, we risk denying them the tools to deal with the challenges we face.

  53. Shlomo says:

    “The (non-Modern) Orthodox world tries to go the next step beyond halacha which is to bend their hearts and desires to the will of God.”

    Luckily for us, Moshe Rabbenu made no attempt to bend his heart and desire to God’s will to wipe out the Jewish people after chet haegel.

    One could make the same point regarding Avraham Avinu/Sedom, or a number of other cases.

    The bottom line of our mesorah is that you SHOULD be distressed by conflicts between halacha/God’s will and your sense of morality.

    “They have enough respect for the system to defer to those who are more knowledgeable than they are.”

    Quite frequently these “more knowledgeable” people are in fact unforgivably ignorant of the metziut and yet decide to rule anyway.

  54. carlos says:

    The problems here are (1) that a couple of 30 year olds who learned for a few years and studied enough yoreh de’ah to pass the rabbanut smicha exams think that suddenly they’re qualified to weigh in on these kinds of issues and for it to have a l’ma’aseh impact, and (2) that there are people out there who are gullible enough to take them seriously. When I was in 9th grade, I had to write an essay for my “law and the citizen” class. I came up with all kinds of arguments why some supreme court decision was wrongly decided and supported it with who knows what and it was great for a 9th grader and the teacher gave me a good grade etc. That doesn’t mean anyone should act as though the law is the way I said it should be. These fellows aren’t closer to being a gadol hador than I as a ninth grader was to being on the supreme court.

    Gil, you shouldn’t take them seriously enough to bother to respond to them.

  55. ruvie says:

    ken bloom -“The (non-Modern) Orthodox world tries to go the next step beyond halacha which is to bend their hearts and desires to the will of God.”

    are you saying there is a step beyond halacha? that we should emulate and disregard halacha’s dynamic and flexible nature? if we are to follow ratzon hashem (not to say anyone really knows what hashem wants) then please explain the oven achanai and lo bashemayim hee story in the bavli – where we do not listen to hashem’s bat kol.

    what you are describing is a fundamentalist approach to traditional judaism that advocates that torah is unchanging and we should bend our wills – no matter what – to hashem’s. unfortunately, that is just historically not true how judaism has viewed halacha over the last 2000 years (at least).

  56. mycroft says:

    ” if we are to follow ratzon hashem (not to say anyone really knows what hashem wants) ”

    We believe that ratzon hashem is followed by obeying the accepted halacha of each generation. To the extent halacha is silent-we trya nd guess what razon hashem is by assimilating in our mind to the extent possible all halacha, midrashim, actions of chazal etc and try and guess what razon hashem is-but we only guess when haalacha is silent. Of course, Halacha changes but the Halachik process is eternal.

  57. mycroft says:

    “From R’Twersky (reviewed below) concerning first allowance of Beit Yaakov by the Gedolim (chachmei hamesora) ”

    It is worthwhile to read Seth Farber’s An American Orthodox Dreamer to see a balanced discussion of the Rav and female education-available on google books read roughly pages 80-85 whole book is worth reading.–

    “Obviously that should be 1942. ”
    I believe the Rav was at YU in 1941.

    “Again, there was opposition from Agudath HaRabbanim which feared the introduction secular subjects into the curriculum. The leadership of the highly regarded Joseph B. Soloveitchik in 1932 did not still the voices of opposition. Viewing the Ph.D. degree that Soloveitchik had earned at the University of Berlin as evidence of dreaded secularism and seeing Yeshiva College itself as a “nest of atheism,” the ultra-Orthodox refused to enroll their children.”
    There were some who sent their children to YU-R E Silvers son R David Silver had smicha from YU-I believe he went to Columbia for undergrad because he was just before the time thatYC started

  58. ruvie says:

    mycroft – “Of course, Halacha changes but the Halachik process is eternal.”

    i believe its – torah is eternal. i guess from your statement that ratzon hashem changes depending on each generation’s halacha practices (when halacha changes)

  59. IH says:

    Thanks Mycroft for the pointer to Rabbi Farber’s book. I thought this quotation from p.84 relevant to the discussion:

    “The creation of a school where boys and girls learned together under Orthodox auspices served as a springboard for an entire movement of women’s education, both in the United States and in Israel. Synagogues such as the Lincoln Square Synagogue (founded in 1964) and institutions such as Drisha (founded in 1979) achieved Orthodox recognition despite their emphasis on women’s Talmud study thanks to Rabbi Soloveitchik’s groundbreaking initiative in Boston.” (http://tinyurl.com/2ubs76r).

    Change to perceptions of what is halachically permissible regarding the emancipation of women are slow. It is important to note, however, they do not come solely from Orthodox leaders. Just as most MO now take women’s Jewish education as an immutable given, so also has the Bat Mitzva ritual become part of Modern Orthodoxy: it being a chidush of Mordecai Kaplan in 1922 at the newly created SAJ.

  60. IH says:

    And further on the history of YU:

    “In 1932, the following anonymous placard was distributed in Orthodox synagogues throughout the east coast: ‘We Jews of New York discovered that in the Yeshiva Rabbi Isaac Elchanan … there is a nest of atheism and Apikursus (denial of God). Therefore we do warn and announce, that you should not send your children or the children of your acquaintances into this Yeshiva until you will find out what is going on in the Yeshiva, who is responsible for the terrible situation, and how it is to be remedied.’ […] Despite the presence of prominent scholars in RIETS, men whose abilities were acknowledged by all who moved within the orbit of talmudic learning, opposition to Yeshiva’s philosophy was constant. Sometimes it was rancorous. When the famed head of the yeshiva in Baranowicz, Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman, visited the United States, he praised the more traditional institution, Mesivta Torah Vodaath, and condemned Yeshiva College. He refused, despite personal pleas by Dr. Revel, to set foot in the building. Rabbi Wasserman’s view was that although philosophy had been studied in the past by gedolim (giants in scholarship) such as the Vilna Gaon, in these times there were no individuals of sufficient stature to study such subjects without risking their faith.” From Helmreich’s “The world of the yeshiva: an intimate portrait of Orthodox Jewry” (http://tinyurl.com/237s8p6).

  61. A Jew says:

    No problem with women being educated at all. No problem with them learning Torah at all. But minyan? Smicha? Rabbis? Torah reading? NEVER!!! Better we should wear a cross around our necks.

  62. mycroft says:

    “i believe its – torah is eternal. i guess from your statement that ratzon hashem changes depending on each generation’s halacha practices (when halacha changes)”
    Ratzon Hashem is to follow halacha as determined in each generation.
    SRH would have said Torah is eternal-others have held that the halachik process is eternal-the halachik applications can change depending on circumstances.

    “IH on January 1, 2011 at 10:53 pm
    And further on the history of YU:”

    My impression REW came to America after 1835-because RAK did speak at YU due to pressure from R Henkin-a couple of years later REW refused to buckle to pressure from R Henkin to speak at YU.

  63. Jon_Brooklyn says:

    FWIW, Ruvie is definitely right. The Orthodox leadership is completely losing track of its constituency. I consider myself a fairly serious and educated Jew, as college-age Jews go, and I don’t think I have a single friend that looks to RHS as their leader in any capacity – in fact, I don’t think I have any friends who would consider anyone besides (maybe) R. Lichtenstein a leader. As much as I wish he was, he simply isn’t MO in America’s leadership. And I also agree with Ruvie that in another 10 years it will be much more obvious.

  64. mycroft says:

    “My impression REW came to America after 1835-because RAK did speak at YU due to pressure from R Henkin-a couple of years later REW refused to buckle to pressure from R Henkin to speak at YU.”

    My obvious typo 1835 should have been typed 1935.

    “don’t think I have a single friend that looks to RHS as their leader in any capacity”

    RHS is certainly one who one would respect and take his word very seriously. Is he MO-probably not despite tolerance and even liking of some MO Rabbonim. Does RHS have the influence of RYBS clearly not-to quote I believe Steve Brizel-we are becoming a generation asher lo yada et Yoseph-.
    Are there current leading halachik , intellectual leaders who are MO-IMHO no. Sadly YU is not producing too many of them anymore. It has been around 30 years since the Rav really was involved in Jewish leadership-even those who learnt from him at the end sadly missed the Rav of his prime.
    The biggest change to the right since the 40s, 50s, and 60s was probably the YU smicha program.
    see eg the following from Prof Waxman:
    “7 This may, in part, help explain the perception of the “move to the right.” It may well be that Modern Orthodox rabbis,
    including those ordained at RIETS in the latter part of the twentieth century, were considerably more to the right
    than were their predecessors. In other words, the move to the right may have been within the RIETS semikhah (ordination)
    program, under the influence of a revisionist approach to the thinking of its revered head, the late Rabbi Joseph
    B. Soloveitchik (“the Rav”), rather than within Orthodoxy as a whole, but is so glaring because rabbis are much more
    visible than the laity. On revisionism with respect to the Rav, see Lawrence Kaplan, “Revisionism and the Rav: The
    Struggle for the Soul of Modern Orthodoxy,” Judaism 48,3 (Summer 1999): 290-311.”

  65. ruvie says:

    mycroft – “Ratzon Hashem is to follow halacha as determined in each generation.
    SRH would have said Torah is eternal-others have held that the halachik process is eternal-the halachik applications can change depending on circumstances.”

    i have heard this statement many times but have a hard time understanding it (maybe due to my limited knowledge). does this mean that that hashem’s will is subject to man’s halachik determination in each generation. is that ratzon hashem has no independent voice – and is only affected by man’s halachik judegement? so specific ideas of ratzon hashem is not eternal because those ideas can be changed by man?
    isn’t ratzon hashem an over used simplification of an idea – that we listen and obey hashem’s commandments eventhough we don’t understand all of them? and ratzon hashem – specific ones – are subject to debate and change?
    its not only when halacha is silent that we guess – but halacha changes due to various reasons so is hashem flip flopping over his own ratzon?

  66. aiwac says:

    I have to say, I’m confused. On the one hand, we have comments railing against a “fundamentalist” approach to halacha that argues aginst change (Ruvie, for instance), and insists that halacha has always been “flexible and dynamic”.

    But what the heck does that mean? Granted we’re not Luddites, but is this flexibility infinite? Conservatives, Reform &c also see themselves as interpreting the Torah and Toshba by their lights and “according to the spirit of the times”? If there are no limits or rules for re-interpretation, then what exactly DO we stand for?

  67. ruvie says:

    aiwac -tell me who said the following in this century:

    “there is nothing so flexible as the flexibility of halakha:

    orthodox, modern ortho, conservative or reform?

  68. aiwac says:

    Ruvie,

    The answer, whatever it is, is irrelevant and indeed only reinforces my problem. I repeat: what do we stand for? Do we have boundaries and/or rules or does anything go?

  69. ruvie says:

    it does matter: its rabbi hayyim david halevi – chief rabbi of tel aviv in 1989 when he wrote this. one would say he is not modern orthodox either. my point is simple- halakha always has been and will be flexible- contrary to many today who advocate a fundamentalist approach of halakha is eternal – its torah which chazal believed was the blueprint of creating the world not haloakha which is the application of torah in the human world.

    the view that both torah and halakha are forever unchanging and stable in nature is contrary to jewish history and the actual practice of torah reveals dramatic changes in halakha.

    there are rules of course. but the key issue is how do we deal with conflicting values that create tensions within the halakhic system. do moral/ethics from outside or inside our religion play a role?
    when people talk about ratzon hashem – i can’t fathom how people divine the divine – i wonder about moshe not going to war against sichon and instead sends messengers – yes its moshe who are we to object to hashem’s will, many wives, acceptance of slavery, only sons inherit land not wives or daughters, my eldest should get a double portion — why aren’t these ratzon hashem? why would we ever not do a levirate marriage and opt out for halitzah if that was hashem wants – we should rush to yibum every chance we get. why the inconsistency?

  70. aiwac says:

    Ruvie,

    You’re breaking down an open door. I agree that halacha is flexible, and I did not say otherwise. But I don’t see how that justifies the opposite – the “anything goes” position (both in halacha and hashkafa) which . Flexibility is not anarchy.

    “Of course there are rules”

    Stating this without defining or elaborating said rules makes this statement feel like lip service and nothing more. Please get specific:

    What are the rules?
    Are they infintely flexible or is there a point where we say “no”?
    What guides those rules and what makes them distinct from other denominations?
    Is it just the speed of change or something else?

    Once you define terms instead of using vague expressions, then we can talk.

    Meantime, my question still stands: what. do. we. stand. for?

  71. ruvie says:

    aiwac – sorry i am not an halakhacist just an am haaretz — and each situation has it own set of rules internally. its how we use those rules and weigh different tensions as well as consequences that are important.
    but i wonder if we have reached a certain point where a quote of rav kook is appropriate to where we are today in the orthodox world:
    “but if it is found that there are things that the law itself would permit but that the rabbis leave as prohibited, showing no concern about the resulting burdens and diffuculties imposed on jews, the result will be a great desecration of hahsem’s name, as many of those who violate halakha will come to say of important principles of torah that if the rabbis wanted to permit them, they could do so; and the law will be perverted as a result.”
    responsa orah mishpat, 112
    i fear we are here in both the mo world as well as the orthodox world

  72. aiwac says:

    Ruvie,

    I fully understand your concern. But please try to understand mine. I don’t think the proper response to the increased rigidity/fundamentalism/what have you is recklessness in the other direction. I believe both extremes are utterly destructive and unacceptable.

    >>aiwac – sorry i am not an halakhacist just an am haaretz<<

    Well, this discussion needs to be conducted very thoroughly by halachists of all stripes on a regular basis(from right to left). Another thing that I think helps contribute to the polarizing of the camps is that they don't even talk to each other – they publish in seperate journals, teach in their own schools and institutions and often live in seperate neighborhoods. Forget 'dialogue of the deaf' – there isn't even a dialogue.

    Always hoping for the best,

    aiwac

  73. Ruvie says:

    Aiwac- agree that it should be discussed and they do not talk to each other…. Just sad and depressing. Some even refuse to be in the same symposium…, there is more hope and choices in israel than the USA. At least in israel there are some leaders in the mo world — here I just don’t see any here.

  74. aiwac says:

    I wonder if the problem is leadership. After all, for all the ‘godol rhetoric’ much of the Charedi world is run by ideologically driven middle-men and kono’im. The Gedolim are only Gedolim insofar as they rubber-stamp an already existing theology and religious weltanschaung. If Rav Elyashiv got up tomorrow and supported calling the State of Israel ‘reshit tzmichat ge’ualteinu’ he’d be banned in an instant.

    So I wonder whether it’s leaders we lack – or activists; i.e. people who will pound the pavement and spread the good word. It’s all well and good to have a general discussion in a comments section or in a chat room. It’s quite another to have people going around fighting for the cause (like old Mizrachi did in Eastern Europe, where activists made the rounds in towns and cities to convince Jews of their cause). However, all this requires that we know what we stand for and fight for, not just what we don’t stand for…Vehadra kashia leduchta, I guess.

    Y’know, this is really starting to feel like a chicken-and-egg dilemma…

  75. IH says:

    Aiwac, as I said on erev Shabbat:

    “Being machmir doesn’t take a talmid chacham. Orthodoxy needs fine minds like yours working through the issues, rather than taking pot shots. I am pleased that you have taken notice of this work (and let others know). But, we would all benefit far more – particularly Orthodox women — from your constructive criticism of Rabbis Tucker & Rosenberg’s draft. Too much is at stake for the survival of Modern Orthodoxy as a movement to do otherwise.”

    The old ~”I can’t be seen to legitimize heterodoxy”~ excuse has worn thing now that there are Orthodox Rabbis stating the halachic cases for different parts of this, whether it be Rabbi Sperber, Rabbi Weiss or now Rabbis Tucker & Rosenberg.

    An increasing number of MO Jews are now voting with their feet. And this will only accelerate as per Ruvie’s observation that: “in the mo community i see more and more people really not caring what rabbis have to say on certain issues. you have probably the most torah educated lay people in jewish history – this rift will be obvious in the next 10-20 years. leaders have lost control over their flock – but they don’t know it yet.”

  76. aiwac says:

    IH,

    To quote Lord Arthur Balfour in a rebuttal to Winston Churchill in parliament, back when Winnie was just an MP (from memory):

    “The Right Honorable Gentelman has powerful artillery, but it is not very mobile. It is attacking a position the government has never occupied”

    I do not advocate denying change just because it “looks like heterodox movements”. I never said that, in any of the comments I made. I do not at all support a fundamentalist stick in the mud approach. Nor do I know who is right in the current debate regarding women, nor is it particularly relevant.

    My question was simply this: Is halacha, according to our interpretation, infinitely flexible? If yes, then what is the difference between us and other denominations? If no, then what are the bouundaries/rules? What do we stand for, if anything?

    I was asking a question of principle (who are we as Orthodox Jews?), NOT a practical question (should we do this – it looks like the Conservatives!).

  77. I wonder if Rabbi Slifkin’s recent pronouncements about why halacha should change and recognize brain death criteria falls into Reb Gil’s category of “Attributing halakhic positions to sociological and historical attitudes”
    see these quotes:
    http://slifkinchallenge.blogspot.com/2010/12/excerpts-indicating-rabbi-slifkin-has.html

  78. IH says:

    Aiwac. Sorry if I wasn’t clear. In response to your point “I wonder if the problem is leadership” I was re-iterating my challenge to Rabbi Student regarding the text of his posting.

  79. aiwac says:

    Hmm,

    Well, if that’s the case, it makes sense. But that means there needs to be more public debate and less mutual shunning.

    Maybe a series of debates on “neutral ground” (i.e. here on the blog), similiar to the debate we recently had regarding brain death (which was quite impressive and in depth)?

  80. Steve Brizel says:

    I agree with Mycroft’s following comment:

    “Ratzon Hashem is to follow halacha as determined in each generation”

    This is not a question of Lo BaShamayim He, but realizing that living and being observant both in accordance with the spirit, word and letter of TSBP requires Poskim in every generation to consider whether that which was permitted 20 years ago is prohibited and vice versa, especially in light of technological and scientific progresss.

    IH’s following comment is merely illustrative of what has always been present in some segments of MO-a refusal to acknowledge that there is such a concept as Ratzon HaTorah that is determined by the Chachmei HaMesorah of every generation:

    “An increasing number of MO Jews are now voting with their feet. And this will only accelerate as per Ruvie’s observation that: “in the mo community i see more and more people really not caring what rabbis have to say on certain issues. you have probably the most torah educated lay people in jewish history – this rift will be obvious in the next 10-20 years. leaders have lost control over their flock – but they don’t know it yet”

    A generation that claims to know Shas, Rishonim and Poskim cold but are unaware of how to read between the lines and views itself as simply not in need of the guidance of Gdolei Talmidei Chachamim on all sorts of Halachic and Halachic issues is really a generation that is lost in a desert of its own making.Viewing oneself as independent from the Baalei Mesorah with respect to Halacha and Hashkafa is a classic example of DIY Judaism. However, as the Meshech Chachmah points out in the beginning of Parshas Vayakhel, DIY Judaism ended with the generation of the Exodus from Egypt as a consequence of the episode of the Golden Calf.

  81. ruvie says:

    steve b – when was the last time the “chachmei hamesorah” made the right call in the last 200 years when it counted? let see – approach to modernity, zionism, holocaust, establishment of the state of israel – what do you think – 0-4 sounds like a good record?
    who are these people? who decides who are the deciders in our fractured world?
    steve please answer the questions before on ratzon hashem as depicted in the torah. i don’t think hashem is a flip flopper on his own ratzon. but hey i am an am haaretz – what do i know?

  82. IH says:

    Steve Brizel. We all recognize there has been a segment of MO that had accepted this Charedi hashkafa. There is little point in debating with that segment, since neither side will convince the other. The debate is amongst the more historic Modern Orthodox constituency which doesn’t buy your summary.

    Are you really that insecure about your position that you need to accuse your brethren engaged in a legitimate halachic discussion with a Golden Calf accusation (couched as a helpful warning)?

  83. Steve Brizel says:

    Ruvie wrote:

    “steve b – when was the last time the “chachmei hamesorah” made the right call in the last 200 years when it counted? let see – approach to modernity, zionism, holocaust, establishment of the state of israel – what do you think – 0-4 sounds like a good record?
    who are these people? who decides who are the deciders in our fractured world?
    steve please answer the questions before on ratzon hashem as depicted in the torah. i don’t think hashem is a flip flopper on his own ratzon. but hey i am an am haaretz – what do i know?”

    Ruvie-R Akiva accused R Yochanan Ben Zakkai of making a wrong decison. Yet, who was right in that context? I think that one can argue that the hashkafic reaction to each of the events was mistaken, but solely from the perspective of hindsight and history. If you had lived in that age, who would you have sided with?

    IH-If you don’t accept Razton HaTorah at least as a valid Hashkafic perspective and view DIY Judaism based on premises that cannot be justified on mainstream halachic premises as a valid Hashkafic perspective, you are indeed part of a generation that has created an intellectual and spiritual desert of its own making that is far more worried about its next generation either going off the derech or flipping out than projecting a message that MO has profundity and depth.

  84. emma says:

    what happens if you see the paper as a limud zechus for the existing practice of many sincere jews? for a limmud zechus a lot of your list of no-nos are more accepted, i think.
    this is a serious question.

  85. Steve Brizel says:

    Ruvie-I think that you are confusing the application of Daas Torah or Ratzon HaTorah in the halachic sense with Halacha. The successful transmission of the Mesorah of Torah demands that we follow the Chachmei HaMesorah in Halachah and Minhagim. I think that one can argue that there are numerous legitimate hashkafic streams that one can follow and be a devotee of-provided that they are within the Mesorah of Hashkafa as well. IOW, I think that while the Mesorah of Halacha requires evaluating whether that which was permitted is prohibited and vice versa in every generation, Hashkafa, in the same manner as Parshanut, is far more horizontal in that one can be a devotee of that stream in Hashkafa that appeals to you. However, to assume that mistakes in meta-historical judgment negates the right of the Chachmei HaMesorah to render Psak Halacha and to provide Hashkafa for their communities, is IMO, mistaken and presumes that such leaders are per se and prima facie prohibited from rendering such decisions because of past mistakes in judgment.

    Here is a classic example.Two of the most vociferous anti Zionist leaders were REW and the SR. Yet, despite their hashkafahs, REW’s Chiddushim are learned in every yeshiva-including RIETS and hesder yeshivos. Similarly,anyone who has learned Hilcos Mikvaos can testify to the vast learning of the SR in this very complex area of halacha.

  86. joel rich says:

    David Kornreich
    Perhaps yes, but as I’ve said all along, the real debate is who has the ability to affirm change. IMHO the real answer is a combination of leadership and a critical mass of people.

    KT

  87. Richard Kahn says:

    emma,
    I don’t think that’s a fair read of R. Tucker and Rosenberg. Hadar is virulently egalitarian. They don’t allow their students to daven elsewhere in the morning. It’s not a limud zechut. They believe that this is the halachic way.

  88. ruvie says:

    steve b. “I think that one can argue that the hashkafic reaction to each of the events was mistaken, but solely from the perspective of hindsight and history. If you had lived in that age, who would you have sided with?”
    how else can one evaluate historical decisions if not in hindsight. since most of their followers believed they are halakhaclly binding i don’t see anything wrong in judging their record to see if we should pay any attention to their decision in a binding way.

  89. ruvie says:

    steve b. – “However, to assume that mistakes in meta-historical judgment negates the right of the Chachmei HaMesorah to render Psak Halacha and to provide Hashkafa for their communities, is IMO, mistaken and presumes that such leaders are per se and prima facie prohibited from rendering such decisions because of past mistakes in judgment.”

    simply no it does not negate their ability to render pesak halacha. if i want to know if my chicken is kosher or treif i do not care of a rav’s opinion on haskafa. if i want a psak halacha that in anyway touches areas of dealing in the modern world or issues of modernity then i may render one’s opinion based on their haskafa as kosher or treif to me. that is the perogative of the mo jew (per my limited understanding of RAL) and choose someone of less learned ability to follow – so one can look elsewhere for their direction.

  90. Uber Mentsch says:

    Any local Rav who makes a psak contrary to any ruling of one of the Gedolei Yiroel, whose names are easily known due to their seats on the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, is deserving of being put in cherem.
    This nonsense of every congregation and every city having their own poskim is onyl valid insofar as if they do NOT differ from Daas Torah, which again is represented by the Moetzes.
    And if you think that your Rav makes his own decisions, you are wrong. He relies on the words, either written or oral, of his Rav and his Rav and his Rav, including the Gedolim, in an unbroken chain of Mesorah back to Moshe Rabeinu. So folks like Sperber and Lichtenstien and whoever else have no say whatsoever in worldwide psak halacha. Only Gedolei Yisroel. How they get there and what constituency you think they answer to is false and irrelevant. To even ponder that they are on the take with askanim is slanderous and evil. Gedolim are PURE Torah min hashamaim. They say, we obey. That’s the law, and it is not debateable.

  91. IH says:

    This is increasingly a discussion of (rabbinic) power and authority rather than (halachic) process.

    The Charedi hashkafa with the code phrases of “Ratzon Hashem” and “Daas Torah” uses power to trump process. To my mind, this is a re-invention of the Papacy in Jewish terms and is heresy (and a dead end). But, this is their affair as long as it is not forced on anyone else.

    The discussion on the role of women is one of halachic process. It is not rational to expect an authoritarian hashkafa to even contemplate any power sharing, which is why I stated earlier than it is not a constructive discussion.

    There is a discussion to be had amongst people who believe in a halachic process that is sensitive to the societal context (e.g. the process that evolved halacha differently in Muslim-controlled vs. Christian-controlled lands) over the course some 800 years of shu”t.

  92. aiwac says:

    Uber,

    Are you for real?

  93. Charlie Hall says:

    “I am not aware of any who follow Rabbenu Simcha.”

    About three or four years ago I was at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale for Shacharit. There was a woman who was saying kaddish, but there were only nine men present. One of the men brought up this as a possibility so that the woman could say kaddish. But Rabbi Avi Weiss was one of the nine men present and he did not allow the woman to say kaddish until a tenth man arrived.

  94. Charlie Hall says:

    Uber Mentsch,

    Nice snark.

    That IS snark, right?

  95. Charlie Hall says:

    “I don’t think I have a single friend that looks to RHS as their leader in any capacity”

    I do. And one of them is my rabbi.

  96. Charlie Hall says:

    “in the mo community i see more and more people really not caring what rabbis have to say on certain issues”

    I hate to say this, but I’m not sure very many MO laypeople in Riverdale care what the charedi rabbinate has to say on anything at all.

  97. aiwac says:

    I’ve noticed an increased cynicism by Charedim as well (at least on forums and comments at Bechadrei Charedim) towards “gedolim statements” and perhaps gedolim in general. Some have, unfortunately, taken the byzantine politics and distortions as cause for doubting the TSBP in general (not out of choice, but rather “ein ladayn ela ma she’eynav ro’ot”).

    So if you think it’s better with the “black hats”, you’ve got another thing coming.

  98. Jon_Brooklyn says:

    “I do. And one of them is my rabbi.”

    -My point is that you’re also approximately 3 times my age.

  99. Uber Mentsch says:

    No it is not “snark”. I am 100% serious. And I believe that a vast majority of the yshivishe world holds the exact same way. At least I hope they do anyway.

  100. ruvie says:

    charlie hall – is your following rhs include issues dealing with women’s status, brain death and modernity?

  101. Uber Mentsch says:

    No, it’s not snark, and it’s the belief of most of the yeshiva world.

  102. emma says:

    “emma,
    I don’t think that’s a fair read of R. Tucker and Rosenberg. Hadar is virulently egalitarian. They don’t allow their students to daven elsewhere in the morning. It’s not a limud zechut. They believe that this is the halachic way.”

    Richard Kahn,
    I am familiar with Hadar and many of its principals and I agree that they are not doing a limmud zechus in the classic way. But, I still think the question is serious because: (1) If the 5 points are OK in some halachic contexts then that changes the debate from “if you do X you are necessarily wrong” to “we disagree about when it’s important to do X,” and I really think the latter is a better description of this dispute, and (2) I think Rabbi Tucker does explicitly want halacha to talk to more Jews than just the Orthodox, including those for whom egalitarianism is non-negotiable. The reasoning is results-oriented at least in part in order to accomodate more Jews. It’s not precisely a limmud zechus but it is similar.

  103. STBO says:

    Uber Mentsch on January 2, 2011 at 11:27 pm:
    >“Any local Rav who makes a psak contrary to any ruling of one of the Gedolei Yiroel, whose names are easily known due to their seats on the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, is deserving of being put in cherem….Gedolim are PURE Torah min hashamaim. They say, we obey. That’s the law, and it is not debateable.”

    I’m pulling the provocateur alarm on this one. The rhetoric is a little too perfect.

  104. Uber Mentsch says:

    It’s not rhetoric STBO. It’s truth. Deal with it.

  105. aiwac says:

    OK, back to the original issue…

    >>I think Rabbi Tucker does explicitly want halacha to talk to more Jews than just the Orthodox, including those for whom egalitarianism is non-negotiable. The reasoning is results-oriented at least in part in order to accomodate more Jews.<<

    emma,

    The purpose is certainly commendable, and it is hard to argue against making halacha attractive to those who will not go all the way, but want to at least keep some mitzvot and rulings.

    However, I have to ask how far one can go with this. What exactly is "accomodation" and what does it entail? Is it the creation of a second, seperate tier of religious observance outside normative Orthodoxy but within its orbit? The opening of a "big tent" community that tries to cater to as many Jews as possible? Or is there a program of permanent religious reform involved here (whether justified by the sources and meta-halachic principles or not)?

    I think the answer to these questions would help a great deal in discussing this issue.

    Theoretically, the possibilities of "accomodation" are limitless; all one needs to do is adopt the (in my opinion) facile and meaningless argument that "Judaism is whatever Jews do" and not judge anyone, ever.

    Even ignoring the religious impossiblity of doing so (even for the non-Orthodox), such a policy would empty Judaism of any real meaning or purpose; a caricature of "Jewish existence" for its own sake, if you will.

    But I digress. IMHO, the question of accomodation is an issue which deserves its own post(s) and discussion. I hope I didn't bore you.

  106. Richard Kahn says:

    Emma,

    I think you’re right, but the converse is also true. He wants to make egalitarianism a valid option for those who want to live a halachic life. I think R. Tucker would see non-egalitarianism as a compromise. But Hadar is certainly a kiruv institution in many ways.

  107. IH says:

    “Accomodation” or “kiruv” sells this issue and serious discussion of it short. The issue is one of halachic process in the integration of societal facts on Halacha.

    It is time for MO to engage on the future of MO on its own terms — rather than those dictated by either the Charedim on the right, or the Conservative on the left — before MO becomes irrelevant as a movement.

  108. aiwac says:

    IH,

    Perhaps you can suggest how we do this in this case?

  109. Bob Miller says:

    “Calling it “non-mainstream Orthodox,” “post-denominational” or simply “halakhic” is unhelpful because it minimizes the important intellectual influences underlying the approach.”

    The influence goes like this:

    Yetzer HaRa: “You know normative Judaism is so yesterday, but you’ll need some good public reason to justify doing what you feel”

    Brain: “Yeah, boss, try this…”

  110. ruvie says:

    aiwac – as ih just pointed religious people are not looking for an “accommodation” – a degrading term if you think about.

    there was a time when rabbis (before the last 100 plus years) wanted traditional judaism to be inclusive and not exclusive – those days are over and we are not better off for that (as a people and as a religion). fear of the outside world (science and ideas) and things not familiar to them have created the consequences that we we today.
    in israel there are leaders like benny lau, yuval cherlow and the rabbis of tzohar – and others – that are dealing with this issue. these folks are talmedei chachamin and have followers as well.

  111. aiwac says:

    ruvie,

    Re: accomodation; I was using emma’s term. I meant no disrespect.

    >>fear of the outside world (science and ideas) and things not familiar to them have created the consequences that we we today.<<

    To play devil's advocate, though, the fear was and is entirely justified. Keep in mind that within less than a century Orthodoxy was reduced to an insignificant minority (always around 10%) in under a century. This was the case everywhere – regardless of whether or not Orthodox Jews practiced Austritt or not.

    To argue that the fault for the present state of Jewry is entirely (or even mostly) the fault of Orthodox Jewry (or just the Rabbis?) is simplistic and frakly insulting – both to us and those who opted out. You underestimate just how powerful the skeptical pull and modernist secular ideologies were back then. You underestimate the often anti-religious, anti-tradition zeitgeist that drove much of the 18th-20th centuries. This is to say nothing of socio-economic pressures and the desire to assimilate and be accepted.

    What's more, comparing Orthodoxy now – a vibrant, if troubled, movement at the crossroads, with the often "just-about-to-die" movement that struggled just to hold on is just wrong. It's like comparing the IDF of the present day to the poorly trained and organized Hanagah of 1948 (something pro-Palestinian advocates are fond of, actually). For Gods' sake, Bnei Akiva-in-Israel even considered shutting dow in 1950 because it seemed that everyone would indeed 'disappear in a generation' (fortunately for all concerned, they decided against).

    Contemporary arguments for a greater inclusiveness must stand or fall on their own merit. Stop trying to assign sole blame for a very complicated situation or use problematic historical analogies that only undermine your case.

  112. ruvie says:

    aiwac – my point was that our leaders did a great job of understanding modernity and zionism that their approach went from trying to be inclusive to exclusive and more stringent than halakha needed to be – chadash assur min hatorah didn’t help – that we are here today is partially (though non exclusively) due to their approach. i do not under estimate the pull of a secular society and the rise of modernity. i do think that the rabbinic response to it – and lack of understanding and underestimating the consequences – help create the small percentage of religious people.
    nobody compared orthodoxy today to “just about to die”
    contemporary arguments do stand on its own halakhic analysis – see the writings of elizear berkovitz as an example of how it can be done. to see creativity of the rabbis of the middle ages read jacob katz’s the shabbos goy. and no i am not in favor of lenient rulings at all times – just wish we were not in the age of the “ethos of the chumrah” (a phrased coined i believe by professor kaplan)

  113. ruvie says:

    aiwac – “Conservatives, Reform &c also see themselves as interpreting the Torah and Toshba by their lights and “according to the spirit of the times”? If there are no limits or rules for re-interpretation, then what exactly DO we stand for?”
    conservative (not sure if reform is that formal on this) or non-orthodox justify change as an ongoing evolutionary process resulting from the continuous encounter between tradition and needs of the individual and/or society. history brings new situations to the jewish people and halakha most evolve accordingly ( i am paraphrasing david hazony’s description). the emphasis is on change as a response to new challenges with out defining clear torah values – there is no clear pattern.

    according to elizear berkovitz – “orthodoxy views change in halacha reflects careful incremental adjustments of legal means to further moral ends that are themselves intrinsic to judaism and unchanging”. as yehuda halevi said – chas v’shalom that anything in the torah contradicts reason.

    so its not anarchy with no rules.

  114. aiwac says:

    Thank you for finally answering my question.

  115. Shalom Spira says:

    Yi’yasher kochakhem to both sides for offering eloquent arguments on this important topic. (Parenthetically, R. Mordechai Willig has recently delivered a series of lectures presenting his insights on the topic, commencing with the first on Nov. 13, 2010, recorded at http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/752234/Rabbi_Mordechai_I._Willig/Women_in_Halacha_#1:_Gender_Differences )
    I note the key point of R. Rosenberg and R. Tucker’s essay is encapsulated on p. 51, where they correctly observe that “we live in a social environment that grants women access to even the highest corridors of power”. Accordingly, I would like to propose that this new reality may pave the way for a new paradigm regarding gender separation in the practice of healthcare.
    Specifically, it has long been regarded as a truism that gentlemen healthcare workers treat married ladies (and vice-versa), since there is essentially no alternative, and it is comparable to the gemara in Sotah 21b which commands a gentlemen to rescue a married lady who is drowning (and vice-versa), as a matter of piku’ach nefesh. Indeed, to this effect, RSZA rules (Shulchan Shelomoh, Erkei Refu’ah III, p. 95) that a gentleman is fully entitled likat’chilah to study obstetric medicine and – once trained – is obligated to practice it.
    However, it was not always so. Teshuvot HaRashba II, no. 182 (cited by R. Student on p. 196 of Posts Along the Way) clearly indicates that – in his time – all the obstetricians were ladies, and that this social norm was so well established that the universal minhag became to accept testimony of ladies in the birthing room (since there would never be a possibility of a gentleman serving as a witness). For the Rashba, it was unthinkable that a gentleman would be compelled to serve as the healthcare worker for a married lady (or presumably vice-versa).
    I would accordingly suggest that nowadays, when “we live in a social environment that grants women access to even the highest corridors of power”, and indeed this is reflected in the fact that well over 50% of medical school admissions in Canada and the U.S. are granted to ladies, our society – illuminated as it is by Torah values – should shift to the Rashba’s paradigm. Namely, we (Barukh Hashem) are blessed with so many capable ladies in the healthcare field that we should train two separate fields of heatlhcare: lady healthcare workers to only take care of ladies, and gentlemen healthcare workers to only take care of gentlemen.
    The idea is so radical (since so many centuries have elapsed since the Rashba’s responsum) that it will take some courage to institute this idea, but I think that a medical school like AECOM, which combines Torah values with medicine, could be the ideal venue for such a pilot project (-of course, assuming government accrediting agencies would be willing to accept such a proposal). Bi’ezrat Hashem, if it succeeds at AECOM, other healthcare schools may follow also.

  116. STBO says:

    >“Gedolim are PURE Torah min hashamaim. They say, we obey. That’s the law, and it is not debateable.”

    Gosh, Uber. I’d used to think that only Moshe Rabbeinu had “PURE Torah min hashamaim”. But now you announce that the late acharonim on the Moetzes also have it….. So how does that work exactly? Do Moetzes members have the PURE product before they join the Moetzes, or only following their appointment? What about Sephardi poskim in Israel?

    >“according to elizear berkovitz – “orthodoxy views change in halacha reflects careful incremental adjustments of legal means to further moral ends that are themselves intrinsic to judaism and unchanging”. as yehuda halevi said – chas v’shalom that anything in the torah contradicts reason.”

    There’s no indication that Judaism has ever viewed the equal occupation of public leadership positions by men and women as a moral desideratum.

  117. mitch morrison says:

    agree with ruvie’s quote of R. Berkowitz, who himself has now been marginalized within mainstream Orthodoxy. Gil, of your 5-pt structure, then the idea of showers of yom tov would be roundly rejected and instead we’d return to ever l’ever… yet, last yr we had a post in which many rabbis today permit showering (with obvious restrictions on soap, towel, etc.) because the nature of bathing and “istenis” has clearly changed in today’s times of daily bathing and running water.
    so i’m not sure the 5-point litmus test is always kept even within mainstream orthodoxy. however, there is a big difference between bathing privately and a minyan, which is the epitome of community. ones 1 woman is allowed as an “exception”, it is too easy imho, to allow women to become part of the regular minyan and the ambituities for the 10th would simply devolve into a flagrant violation of halakha.

  118. Uber Mentsch says:

    This reminds me of an actual event that occurred a few years back in Baltimore. A frum woman wanted to have hakafos for women WITH a sefer Torah. One highly respected Rav said not with a Torah, but the women are welcome to dance themselves behind the mechitza. Another said no and don;t bring it up again. Another said ask the Rosh Yeshiva (Ner Yisroel) who, at that time was HaRav Moshe Kulefsky, zt”l. He said “I can’t tell you why it’s not done, it’s just not done.”

    I think it applies here as well. For whatever reason, it was never done, and is not done, and probably will never be done. And that’s good enough reason as any for us irrational, non-thinking, anti-Slifkin, anti-MO Bnei Torah.

  119. ruvie says:

    stbo – “There’s no indication that Judaism has ever viewed the equal occupation of public leadership positions by men and women as a moral desideratum.”

    it may be viewed as an issue of kavod habriyot. but there have been women leaders in the past devorah for example. not equal but neither immoral – wasn’t women leaving the home (more than 2x a month), learning torah, working, teaching torah (schools and to boys no less), bat mitzvahs all unacceptable (religiously) at one time? why is public leadership roles any different (besides being a monarch)?

  120. IH says:

    The bottom line, though, is that the role of women has changed in a revolutionary manner in the 20th century. We have had a Jewish woman Prime Minister of Israel, we have Jewish women Supreme Court Justices, we have Jewish women CEOs of major corporations; and, we have an increasing number of top-notch Jewish women Talmedei Chachamim.

    The proverbial genie is not going back into the bottle. In civil society, “separate but equal” is not longer possible or desirable. This is fundamental and revolutionary change in human existence. It can only be ignored for so long. Halacha has perfectly adequate mechanisms to deal with such change: think of Hillel’s Prozbol (mipnei tikkun olam), or the Rabbeinu Gershom’s prohibition on polygamy or the democratization of reciting Kaddish by the Chatam Sofer (for Ashkenazim; it has been done for Sephardim earlier as cited by the Yavets).

    If MO is to be relevant, it must boldly deal this revolutionary change in the society in which we live. This requires our best and brightest at YU working with those like Rabbi Sperber, Rabbi Weiss and now Rabbis Tucker & Rosenberg. How many more generations of Jewish women will accept “separate but equal” when everything else that governs their lives is egalitarian?

    Think of the children, to borrow AMIT’s line.

  121. Steve Brizel says:

    Ruvie wrote:

    “simply no it does not negate their ability to render pesak halacha. if i want to know if my chicken is kosher or treif i do not care of a rav’s opinion on haskafa. if i want a psak halacha that in anyway touches areas of dealing in the modern world or issues of modernity then i may render one’s opinion based on their haskafa as kosher or treif to me. that is the perogative of the mo jew (per my limited understanding of RAL) and choose someone of less learned ability to follow – so one can look elsewhere for their direction.”

    I think that you are suggesting that Poskim and Talmidei Chachamim merely serve as walking encyclopedias of Jewish Law. IIRC, none less than RAL rejected that proposition quite vigorously.

  122. Steve Brizel says:

    IH wrote:

    “It is time for MO to engage on the future of MO on its own terms — rather than those dictated by either the Charedim on the right, or the Conservative on the left — before MO becomes irrelevant as a movement.”

    Let’s face reality-all the evidence on the ground would indicate that MO is more interested in protecting the next generation from either flipping out or going OTD than in projecting a message to the unlearned masses of American Jewry.

  123. Steve Brizel says:

    IH wrote:

    “The proverbial genie is not going back into the bottle. In civil society, “separate but equal” is not longer possible or desirable. This is fundamental and revolutionary change in human existence. It can only be ignored for so long. Halacha has perfectly adequate mechanisms to deal with such change: think of Hillel’s Prozbol (mipnei tikkun olam), or the Rabbeinu Gershom’s prohibition on polygamy or the democratization of reciting Kaddish by the Chatam Sofer (for Ashkenazim; it has been done for Sephardim earlier as cited by the Yavets).

    If MO is to be relevant, it must boldly deal this revolutionary change in the society in which we live. This requires our best and brightest at YU working with those like Rabbi Sperber, Rabbi Weiss and now Rabbis Tucker & Rosenberg. How many more generations of Jewish women will accept “separate but equal” when everything else that governs their lives is egalitarian?”

    I would suggest that this is essentially a suggestion for CJ to be revived as MO. R Rakkafet has a great series of lectures on the decline of CJ, and the future of MO,especially on issues such as gender and homosexuality, which I think are must listening on these issues.

  124. IH says:

    Steve B. Actually, the increasing realization is that the Charedi hashkafa (that has infilitrated MO) is the biggest OTD factor. When these Jews eventually hit a reality that doesn’t match the daas Torah they were taught, they completely lose it. I expect we’ll start seeing statistical data in the coming years.

    In any case, as covered earlier in this thread, those that care have been defecting to independent minyanim and will continue to do so.

  125. Steve Brizel says:

    Ruvie wrote:

    ” just wish we were not in the age of the “ethos of the chumrah”

    Please elaborate. We are in a far more technologically advanced age than that of our parents and grandparents. Assuming that Halacha remains static and that which was assur cannot become mutar or the opposite is a faulty assumption that shows little understanding of the fact that the same is the essence of the transmission of TSBP.

    All too often, as Dr CS pointed out, we confuse MeIkar Hadin with what we perceive as a chumrah and ignore the fact that Chumros and Kullos can certainly be founded in many basic halachos that we accept for granted in addition to the view advanced by the Chachmei Ashkenaz that one shows a true love of Torah and Mitvos by being Yotzei Yidei Kol Hashitos, as opposed to doing Mitzvos in as minimalistic a basis as possible. I think that if you will find more kulos and a refusal to adopt “far out chumros” in the works of the CI and RSZA, despite their very different perspectives on Psak Halacha.

  126. Uber Mentsch says:

    “everything else that governs their lives is egalitarian?”

    You mean everything GOYISH, not Torahdikke. You want us all to succumb to the whims of secular goyish society and drop what we have held dear for millenia? For what? So a segment, in this case women, can feel more comfortable? And next whom do we appease? The gay element? Sure, let’s invite them for Shabbos, give an aliyah to their “partners”. After all, society has changed, we dropped the “dont ask dont tell”, so let’s be more tolerant and change for them too! Then let’s just trade in the Torah for something more comfortable, more convenient, more tolerant.
    That’s a hocking load of crap! There is not 1 instance of tolerance in Torah, not 1. God does not care about our comfort or our convenience. Mizvos, thats all. Better a homo should live alone and suffer in silence than to do his thing. Better a woman should have angst over not having hakafos on Simchas Torah. Not everyine is entitled to a piece of the pie. Torah is not a democracy.

  127. IH says:

    “I would suggest that this is essentially a suggestion for CJ to be revived as MO.”

    How soon we forget. CJ didn’t allow women into Rabbincal School until 1984. CJ was considered heretical by Orthodoxy many years before that on theological grounds: namely their doctrine that Torah was divinely inspired, but not literally the word of God to the Jews at Sinai.

    The Rabbis about whom we are talking here have Orthodox smicha and, as far as I am aware, accept Torah mi’Sinai.

  128. IH says:

    Uber Mentsch: how many wives do you have?

  129. ruvie says:

    steve b. -” on the ethos of humra”
    please see lawrence kaplan, “the hazon ish: haredi critic of traditional orthodoxy ” in THE USESES OF TRADITION (1992) pp. 145 – 173

  130. Uber Mentsch says:

    Just 1 but i’m working on building a harem. And fyi, she’s a scientist, who became frum 2 years ago and doesnt understand for the life of her what all the whiny women’s problems are with Haredi or even plain old Orthodox Judaism. To hear her talk u would think she was born into Satmar, and she can barely read Hebrew. But she’s smart as a whip, and believes in very traditional Orthodoxy. She gets a big kick out of MO and CJ women and their laughable nonsense with the wearing a yarmulke and a talis and even tefillin. Thinks its a scream.

  131. ruvie says:

    steve b – “Assuming that Halacha remains static…”
    the whole point is halakha has always been and will be dynamic – on a historical analysis there is no dispute. its a fact.

  132. ruvie says:

    steve b. either you misunderstood or you read a different book – or have different colored glasses – written by RAL than i did – i just paraphrased him on seeking out less learned people because one’s haskafa differs from more learned rabbis.

  133. IH says:

    It seems to me that we’re now iterating on points that have already been covered earlier.

    Personally, I would be interested in post-discussion feedback from Rabbi Student and suggested next steps for mainstream MO engagement with Rabbis Tucker & Rosenberg on their draft paper.

    Kol Tuv

  134. Steve Brizel says:

    Ruvie-thanks for the mareh makom to Dr Kaplan’s article. However, RHS mentions quite frequently that the CI has almost a running critique of the MB for going against what had been the accepted Psak of prior Poskim and that one can find many kulos in the CI ( such as on Hatafas Dam Bris)if one simply looks for the same. The notion that all Charedi Poskim have a monolithically and reflexively Machmir view on Halacha cannot be sustained by a careful reading of their ShuT, Chiddushim, etc.

    As far as RAL is concerned, I have read and reread the essay entitled “Legitimization of Modernity:Classical and Contemporary” in Leaves of Faith, Vol.1 ( Pages 279-308). Please indicate where, if at all, RAL posits that one can seek out a lesser learned person whose hashkafa is more in synch with your own POV. My reading of that essay is that of an analysis of proper Hashkafic electricism , supplementation and secular appendages, as opposed to seeking hashkafic guidance from a person of lower religious stature.

  135. Uber Mentsch says:

    It would be nice if you all would explain a list of all these abbreviations you use. RAL, RHS, CI, CS, IH, etc etc

  136. Steve Brizel says:

    IH wrote:

    “Actually, the increasing realization is that the Charedi hashkafa (that has infilitrated MO) is the biggest OTD factor. When these Jews eventually hit a reality that doesn’t match the daas Torah they were taught, they completely lose it. I expect we’ll start seeing statistical data in the coming years.”

    This statement requires hard data. I would suggest that the real keys to the OTD phenomenon in all sectors of the Torah world, remain the factors of parents, communal expectations and schools. The notion that Charedi hashkafa has somehow “infiltrated MO” requires far more evidence than has been postulated here. Professor Heilman’s book “Sliding to the Right” , IMO, argued, but failed to prove this contention. I would suggest that the flipping out phenomenon in general is overblown, that in large part what we are seeing is that some young men and women are more Mdakdek in their observance than previously, and that the key is not how a young man or woman act in their first year home, but rather how they act five years down the road, regardless of whether they are a kollel couple or having settled as Baale Batim in any major MO or Charedi center, whether as a young married couple or as singles looking for Mr or Ms. Right. The notion that vast numbers of MO have deserted MO for the world of the Kollel is IMO a nice subject for symposia and Shabbos table talk, but hardly justified by the facts when one considers that there are substantial MO communities where one sees many young men and women, both married and single, who are simply more precise in their observance than their parents.

  137. ruvie says:

    steve b. – leaves of faith vol 2 – pages 292-295 ish.

    finding a few kulos doesn’t create a lenient view haskafically as a posek. its assur the permitted that is the issue.
    lets not rehash old arguments.

  138. emma says:

    uber mentsch, i can’t resist:
    “There is not 1 instance of tolerance in Torah, not 1. God does not care about our comfort or our convenience. Mizvos, thats all. … Better a woman should have angst over not having hakafos on Simchas Torah. Not everyine [sic] is entitled to a piece of the pie.”
    please explain “benos yisrael somchos reshus…la’asos nachas ruach le-nashim,” chagigah 16b.

    “And next whom do we appease? The gay element? Sure, let’s invite them for Shabbos”
    I don’t get it. how is inviting someone for shabbos “appeasement.” How many times have i heard kiruv rabbis exhort me to invite completely nonfrum people for shabbos…

  139. Uber Mentsch says:

    Emma: non-frum people who dont know better is a way lot different than those who flagrantly violate the law because they have a “feeling”. We invite all kinds of people who know nothing about Torah. But homosexuals and their partners? No way, no how. That’s like attending or sending a wedding gift to an intermarried couple. In a million years I wouldn’t a shiksa at my table.

  140. Jon_Brooklyn says:

    Emma, STBO, and the rest of you responding to Uber Mentsch need to stop feeding the troll.

  141. Uber Mentsch says:

    There is no troll here Jon, MYOB. I am 100% serious.

  142. STBO says:

    >“it may be viewed as an issue of kavod habriyot. but there have been women leaders in the past devorah for example.”

    It can be framed or re-framed however one wishes. But in the context of Tanach, Devorah is the exception that demonstrates the general rule. Even in the context of Sefer Shofetim, the freewheeling era when “everyone did what was proper in their own eyes”, Devorah was the only female leader of her stature of whom we know.

    But a la the paper’s writers, we can deconstruct and deconstruct again the rishonim and acharonim and poskim, and lead them all to the psychoanalyst’s or sociologist’s couch until we tease out the “real” reasons for why they pasken as they do.

    But then we can do the same to Rabbis Tucker and Rosenberg….and note that they live in a postmodern, cosmopolitan society that is suspicious or hostile towards the concept of differentiated gender roles; and we can note that they come from a social-academic millieu in which the savvy deconstruction of texts and their authors, in hopes of yielding cleverly counterintuitive theses, is rewarded and encouraged.

    Hmmmmmm — so now we’ve wisely and sensitively determined why the authors of the early 21st Century CE text linked above take the positions they do, and how contemporaneous sociological influences pushed them to certain conclusions. Aren’t we clever?…

  143. STBO says:

    So if they want to play the “Society Made Them Do It” Game, we can all descend into absurdity together.

    We can try to deconstruct halacha and Torah into thousands of little spreadsheet cell entries of biases, assumptions and myopias that “explain” why people believe what they believe.

    Like a data-reconstruction algorithm, we can then ‘extract’ the bias and purport to tell ourselves what the rabbonim of yesterday ‘would have’ believed if only they’d breathed our enlightened air.

    But almost every indication is that rishonim and acharonim and Chazal in fact believed the totality of what they say they believed — that differentiated public roles for men and women are deliberate; not accidental and not sociological artifacts of evaporated eras.

    And that such roles fit into an overall vision and structure of Torah; and that trying to deconstruct and dismantle parts of the vision to make it not-so is an indication of the desperation or cleverness of the deconstructors, but not the intent of the original texts’ authors.

    This is the real issue — an intellectual paradigm that claims the right to apply stylish academic poststructuralism to the Torah, and then enact the (coincidentally convenient…) ‘findings’ as halacha.

    This is the latest reprise of Saduceeism and the Conservative movement, back for another round.

  144. Jon_Brooklyn says:

    UM: I know you’re 100% serious. That doesn’t stop you from being a troll. You are actively ruining the discussion that was taking place here earlier by provoking people with your (fairly ridiculous and easily falsifiable) hashkafic posts.

  145. Shlomo says:

    “Uber Mentsch on January 3, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    It would be nice if you all would explain a list of all these abbreviations you use. RAL, RHS, CI, CS, IH, etc etc”

    Interesting how you didn’t ask for an explanation of OTD. That’s one abbreviation your community must already be familiar with…

  146. IH says:

    Thank, STBO, for (again) demonstrating the “anti” position has more to do with politics than with halachic process. One could reflect your words back to you regarding the chumraization of certain minhagim because “Society Made Them Do It”.

    Arguing politics is fine; but, let’s not confuse it with halachic process, or halachic history (as noted earlier in the thread).

  147. carlos says:

    STBO–

    Interesting analysis. In my view, this is a re-enactment (for our times) of the early reform movement. Back then, the idea was that Judaism didn’t fit with the surrounding society so they changed it to be more like German protestantism of the day. Today, Judaism doesn’t fit with the surrounding society, but we live in a society where on some level different ethnic and religious traditions are valued. So Mssrs Tucker and Rosenberg are changing Judaism to fit the surrounding society while attempting to maintain the traditional form.

    Maybe they can justify what they are doing by using their normal mode of analysis — “if the original reformers had lived in our time and knew what we know, they surely would have agreed with what we are doing.”

  148. Hirhurim says:

    IH: The halakhic process issue is very simple. This entire argument is a questionable expansion of a rejected position in order to accommodate changing society. That is not acceptable within the halakhic process. There is a broader context that deserves discussion but you just belittle it as “politics”.

  149. joel rich says:

    This entire argument is a questionable expansion of a rejected position in order to accommodate changing society. That is not acceptable within the halakhic process.
    ==================================
    R’Gil,
    IMHO a more accurate statement would be:
    This entire argument is (a questionable)[an] expansion of a [previously]rejected position in order to accommodate changing society. That is (not) acceptable within the halakhic process [only when validated by the appropriate authorities].

    KT

  150. Hirhurim says:

    Examples?

  151. joel rich says:

    From R’Twersky (reviewed below) concerning first allowance of Beit Yaakov by the Gedolim (chachmei hamesora) – “Not that they rachmana ltzlan overruled the gemara in Sotah. No one said that we feel differently, we say differently. They said that they felt that the mesorah, when it gave the directive of the gemara in Sotah where Chazal opposed imposing learning upon girls who were not obligated in Talmud Torah that Chazal gave that directive at a time when emunah and ahavat torah and yirat shamayim were something that was imbibed in the home through osmosis where the tradition was so strong and so vibrant and in our time Chazal never gave such a direction”

    Now I suppose “yesh lchaleik” but imho its the same story – not that there’s anything wrong with that process, I think it’s essential to have the flexibility that R’YBS attributted to the chachmei hamesora.

    KT

    KT

  152. Hirhurim says:

    But they aren’t relying on a minority opinion. They are following the majority. R. Mordechai Willig covered this in his recent shiur on the subject.

  153. joel rich says:

    Eduyot 1:5
    Introduction
    This mishnah discusses the question why are minority opinions recorded in the Mishnah, if there is a rule that the halakhah (the law) is according to the majority opinion.
    Mishnah 5
    1. And why do they record the opinion of a single person among the many, when the halakhah must be according to the opinion of the many?
    a) So that if a court prefers the opinion of the single person it may depend on him.
    b) For no court may set aside the decision of another court unless it is greater than it in wisdom and in number.
    i. If it was greater than it in wisdom but not in number, in number but not in wisdom, it may not set aside its decision, unless it is greater than it in wisdom and in number.

    KT

  154. STBO says:

    >“Thank, STBO, for (again) demonstrating the “anti” position has more to do with politics than with halachic process. One could reflect your words back to you regarding the chumraization of certain minhagim because “Society Made Them Do It”.”

    I have no sympathy for the chumraization movement and I think it’s indeed mainly driven by sociological forces. Normal halacha provides a stable basis for action and practical living without attempts to portray fringe views or opinions based on special circumstances as mainstream (or obligatory).

    But that same principle also applies pretty well to Rs. Tucker and Rosenberg, doesn’t it?

  155. Hirhurim says:

    We don’t pasken directly from Mishnayos. There is much more to the story than that one quote.

  156. ruvie says:

    gil – there are times the the talmud says the halacha follows a minority opinion. its not always the majority opinion wins the day. sometimes sound reasoning over-rules an authoritative text. a minority opinion i think can beat a majority view based on its sound reasoning – severa.

  157. Shlomo says:

    “1. And why do they record the opinion of a single person among the many, when the halakhah must be according to the opinion of the many?
    a) So that if a court prefers the opinion of the single person it may depend on him.”

    This opinion cuts both ways. If it’s applicable today, then the Badatz Eidah Chareidis would be fully justified in taking on all the chumrot of Beit Shammai and any other opinion mentioned in the mishna/gemara. (And they’d have a motivation to do so, since the Chazon Ish says that halacha is supposed to make you suffer because suffering builds character.) I don’t think that’s the result you’re looking for…

  158. joel rich says:

    R’ Shlomo,
    I’m not looking for a particular result – just clarifying what I understand the halachic process to be and what the debate is based on.
    KT

  159. Reggae Mon says:

    I think Bob Marley has the best psak halacha out of everyone. “No, womam, no cry.”

  160. Reggae Mon says:

    Er, woman, sorry

  161. IH says:

    On the meta-issue of halachic process, it is instructive to systematically track a single issue through all the Rabbinic literature from the Talmud until today to see how how the process worked historically. Leon Wieseltier did just that in his brilliant 1998 book “Kaddish” where one can see the halachic evolution of how we mourn and memorialize our loved ones.

    Wieseltier is particularly adept at highlighting the evolution through Shu”t. Many Orthodox readers will be surprised at the timing and social context for much that we think is from time immemorial, as well as halacha such as Ituf Rosh, that were discarded along the way.

 
 

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