What is a Jewish Belief?

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Many Jews claim to speak for Judaism, offering an assortment of views they assert is a form of the religion. I submit that only a Judaism that honestly emerges from its sources, bounded by its traditional theological borders, can legitimately lay claim to the religion’s title. Distortions of the religion, even if politely tolerated, are historical aberrations.

In a post on the Seforim blog (link), Prof. Marc Shapiro writes:

Today it must be admitted that Judaism and Christianity share a belief in the Second Coming of the Messiah. While this is an obligatory belief for Christians, for Jews it is, like so many other notions, simply an option. The truth of my statement is seen in the fact that messianist Habad is part and parcel of traditional Judaism, and, scandal or not, most of the leading Torah authorities have been indifferent to this.

Just because some Jews believe it, and believe that Judaism teaches it, does not make it a Jewish belief in anything other than a sociological sense. It is as much, or as little, a Jewish belief as is liberalism.

If there is a liberal Christian sect that believes its religion preaches “reproductive rights,” does that make abortion-on-demand a Christian teaching? I don’t think so. Nor does the existence of an aberrant groups of Jews who mistakenly believe in the messiah’s second coming make that a Jewish belief.

If I understand Prof. Shapiro’s position correctly, he contends that any objectionable belief espoused by a large group of Jews that is not sufficiently protested by the mainstream becomes a Jewish belief. The implication this has toward communal tolerance is significant. An obligation devolves on traditional Jews to attempt to eradicate any inauthentic belief because otherwise it becomes not just a tolerated excess but an intrinsic part of Judaism.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

216 comments

  1. Considering other portions of his posting (note: I only skimmed), is it possible that the basis for his statement is almost the reverse of your conclusion?

    It would seem that true contradictions (or beliefs viewed as such) to Judaism have been in the past or are currently shouted down as incorrect. Those that have not been shouted down have survived and eventually joined Judaism, to varying levels. Therefore, those which are not shouted down are clearly accepted as within the realm of acceptable belief, and Chabad’s view on this is therefore acceptable.

    This does not change your conclusion – to keep something from becoming accepted it must be eradicated. It merely gives standing to his point as well.

  2. I’m not so sure Prof. Shapiro is correct that leading authorities have been indifferent to this. They have just been quiet about it. But privately, they have been telling their flocks not to eat Chabad shechita, not to daven in Chabad shuls. I have heard these reports from many people in a variety of different (mostly Haredi) circles.

  3. The only counter-argument to Dr. Shapiro’s contention that I can think of is to point out that Chabad is not “integrated into wider Orthodoxy,” as he claims. They have become very, very segregated from the rest of the Orthodox community.

  4. But privately, they have been telling their flocks not to eat Chabad shechita,

    That runs counter to the fact that until a few years ago the main supplier of kosher glatt meat in American was a Chabad-owned slaughterhouse.

  5. Distortions of the religion, even if politely tolerated, are historical aberrations.

    Except when they aren’t.

    Or, what is a “distortion?”

  6. Prof. Shapiro’s post, by the way, is over 2 years old. Admittedly, relative to Sinai it is “recent” 🙂

  7. Incidentally, the 2nd half of the paragraph Gil quoted is salient:

    “That is, they see it as a mistaken belief, but not one that pushes its adherent out of the fold. In other words, it is like so many other false ideas in Judaism, all of which fall under the rubric “Jewish beliefs.” As long as these beliefs don’t cross any red lines, the adherents are regarded as part of the traditional Jewish community.”

    The key then becomes one of agreeing red lines, but the spectrum of Orthodoxy is such that is very difficult to do in any transparent and objective manner.

    E.g. assuming we all agree that Halacha is the sine qua non: can even mainstream Orthodoxy agree on the Poskim?

  8. Gil postulates “The implication […] An obligation devolves on traditional Jews to attempt to eradicate any inauthentic belief because otherwise it becomes not just a tolerated excess but an intrinsic part of Judaism.”

    Perhaps like Zionism was vociferously rejected as an inauthentic belief by the vast majority of gedolim prior to the State of Israel becoming a fait accompli?

  9. It is interesting to note that the ordination of a Orthodox female rabbi by a LWMO rabbi was loudly protested and roundly condemned by mainstream Orthodox rabbinic organizations including the Agudah and the RCA. And hardly a peep is heard from either about Chabad Messianism. If Prof. Shapiro’s thesis is right, a 2nd coming of a Messiah is then indeed an accepted Jewish belief while the ordination of a female rabbi is not.

    I somehow doubt that this is truly reflective of Jewish theolgy.

    While I don’t think either is acceptable – I would think that the Christological belief in a 2nd coming is far worse than the idea of a female rabbi. And yet the latter gets all the heat and the former none.

  10. R’A Kotler tried to pass a resolution against Chabad in the 1950’s (it was shot down by R’YB Soloveitchik).
    A friend whose father received a rabbinical position in a small European community c.1980 which had only two schools, a non-sectarian general zionist school and a Chabad one. R’ Shach told him to send his children to the zionist one.
    In Making of a Gadol intro. R’ Y Kamenetzky basically says it’s forbidden to marry a Chabbadnik.

  11. Chabad is not accepted by mainstream chasidim, and none would ever contemplate marrying into their families. Even the previous rebbe’s father in law, had opposition from the ‘malachim’ as not being ‘frum’ enough. Considering the ‘malach’ was his ‘cheder rebbe’ he most likely knew more than most. They are mostly made up today by BT’s, which for them who have no real grounding in yidishkeit, a second coming sounds very plausible. The reason one does not hear so much condemnation of them from other rabbis is simply they are ‘not worth it’. Any real FFB knows the truth and is hardly likely to be taken in by them. Its not that any ‘Godol’ has said there will be a second coming. Just because a group or better put a cult made up mainly of BTs have said so, doesnt make it legitimate Jewish thinking.
    About the idea of ‘female’ rabbis, we already have some even in the chareidi section. They may not call themselves that, but they are certainly acting the part. Writing ‘Torah’ thoughts (chiddushim) of their own, which is the real job of a Jewish rabbi.

  12. While I don’t think either is acceptable – I would think that the Christological belief in a 2nd coming is far worse than the idea of a female rabbi. And yet the latter gets all the heat and the former none.

    This is because the Orthodox rabbinic leadership is stuck in the 19th century and views reform as the main threat against Orthodoxy.

  13. There are people who’ve become religious through Chabad, but not chassidim themselves, and remain close to them, who also don’t buy into it. And certainly the non-observant members of Chabad don’t buy into it, along with many other things.

    I think Prof. Shapiro tries to be consistent when he does this, but it risks him looking ridiculous. I suppose I’d one day like him to state his personal beliefs: Fine, so some rishonim thought God had a body. Do you? Do you believe in a second coming? Do you believe that the entire Torah was written by Moshe? If yes or no to some, which are over the line for you, personally? That would help clarify matters.

  14. I submit that only a Judaism that honestly emerges from its sources,
    =============================
    define honestly -aiui meshichists will quote sources as well
    KT

  15. Machon Shilo’s Rabbi David Bar-Hayim (who wrote a well-known psak halacha permitting the consumption of kitniyot on Pesach by all Jews) writes the following q & a on the subject of Habad:

    http://machonshilo.org/en/eng/list-ask-the-rav/31-general/424-the-false-mashiah-of-lubavitch-habad

  16. 1) There are many beliefs held by Jews that do not stem from our sources or even contradict them, and we don’t (and shouldn’t) fight them. For example, I would hope most Jews believe that the solar system is heliocentric and that lice grow from eggs. Regardless of whether one wants to believe that Chazal were speaking of metaphysics rather than physical reality, or one wants to believe they were citing the scientific beliefs of their time, I hope you do not believe we have to prefer sources over facts.

    2) The history of incorrect (in hindsight) beliefs about the Messiah from our sources goes back at least to Bar Kochba. How many Rishonim and Acharonim calculated and published dates for the arrival of the geula that have passed? Are they to be read out of Judaism?

    3) The ikkar emunah is to believe in and yearn for the coming of the Messiah. As the Rambam points out at the end of Hilchot Melachim, Chazal do not have a clear tradition, and the neviim were not permitted to transmit clear prophesy concerning the details; and many have ignored the rabbinic warnings against speculating about the details without becoming heretics. The fact that the belief of many Chabadnikim about this matter happens to overlap with some aspects of Christianity is disturbing but perhaps not over the boundary. Of course, there seem to be some in Chabad who hold their late rebbe is God; that is unambiguous heresy we must fight. That they believe he might be resurrected as the Messiah is merely an erroneous belief that does not cross the line.

    4) I am not at home to look up an exact citation, but I recall that Rav Henkin addressed this question in a tshuvah in Bnei Banim 3 or 4.

  17. It is relevant that there are a number of non-chabad Rabbonim who have also stated that messianists are not a problem. R’ Shlomo Aviner for one stated that there is no reason to avoid a chabad shul simply because they say yechi/are messianist.

    I think there are ways to make the chabad messianic belief fit within Judaism, even if I don’t agree with the principle idea. As some said, it’s not much different than many beliefs that can be found floating in the Rishonim and earlier that the vast majority of us reject today.

    So they want to point to a reading of a Rashi and understand that the Rebbe is/will be Moshiach after techias hameisim because he’s the gilgul of Moshe Rabbeinu. Apparently, the ideas simply aren’t far enough outside the sources/Judaism that the Gedolim and company have anything to disagree with outside of the general dislike of Chabad.

    In another 40/50 years, if there is no appearance of Moshiach, it will be more interesting how they will have to reinterpret their understanding of the Rebbe being Moshiach or the things he said.

  18. It’ll probably only get worse. All evidence shows that the authors of the New Testament thought Jesus’ return was just around the corner. 2,000 years later, they still believe.

  19. Rabbi Slifkin’s wrote that his “only counter-argument to Dr. Shapiro’s contention that I can think of is to point out that Chabad is not “integrated into wider Orthodoxy,” as he claims. They have become very, very segregated from the rest of the Orthodox community.”.

    What is the “rest of the Orthodox community”? Modern Orthodox learn with Lubvitchers, daven in their shul, etc., across the USA. Chabad does not denigrate MO leaders unlike – for example – chareidi rabbonim from Lakewood. They also frequently participate in community panel discussions. Chabad is most certainly less “segregated” than ANY other Chassidic or chareidi group.

  20. Skeptic wrote that “leading authorities have … just been quiet about it. But privately, they have been telling their flocks not to eat Chabad shechita, not to daven in Chabad shuls. I have heard these reports from many people in a variety of different (mostly Haredi) circles”.

    If they are so concerned about Chabad, they should take a stand. As long as they remain quiet about such a serious issue, one can assume that they are acting cowardly and irresponsibly. (Reminds me about their “concern” about sexual abusers in the chareidi community.)

  21. Because they see the MO as kiruv targets. They’re happy to work with non-Chabadniks on an individual basis, in hope of converting them to the One True Faith, or at least getting donations.

    Institutionally, however, they have long avoided associating with other groups. They were asked to join Agudah when it was set up, but turned Agudah down. Gur accepted, so Agudah today is dominated by yeshivish and Gerrers.

    As for the rest of Orthdoxy being reluctant to reject them – well, they’ve made themselves indispensible. Probably half of all shochtim are Chabadniks. If you’re in Kinshasa and you want to do something with other religious Jews, Chabad is it. Also Kiev.

    Chabad Travel Services is indispensible. I went to a science-fiction convention last fall (being an avel, I need to be within walking distance of a minyan on Shabbos) because there was a Chabad-Moroccan shul within walking distance (Chabad Israel Center in Rockville MD). Also a couple of C-nagogues, but that didn’t help me.

    So why bite the hand that provides essential services?

  22. that was in response to “zach 8:44 am”

  23. It could be that they felt it wasn’t worth the public fight as long as people in their communities were not eating Chabad food, marrying Chabad people, davening in Chabad shuls, etc. I’m not sure that is cowardice.

  24. “Today it must be admitted that Judaism and Christianity share a belief in the Second Coming of the Messiah.”

    Perhaps I missed it, but does Judaism believe there was a *first* coming of the Messiah?

  25. The fundamental problem with (Haredi, Chassidic, LWMO, RWMO – even Conservative and Reform – etc.) Rabbis not publicly condemning certain Chabad beliefs is that the overwhelming majority of secular Jews in the world, and also most Ba’al Teshuva Jews, believe that what the local Chabad shaliach espouses is part of traditional Judaism, and is not made wary of their aberrant heretical teachings.

  26. An additional note:

    Unfortunately those Rabbis that have publicly said that it is okay to Daven with a Chabad minyan are indirectly promoting Chabad beliefs. A ban on davening with a Chabad minyan would be much more beneficial in publicizing to the Jewish world how dangerous their beliefs are.

    Of course this would have a huge impact on all those travellers who flock to Chabad houses world-wide. Until a different branch of Judaism is prepared to be as selfless and dedicated in setting up branches in places like India, Thailand, etc., Chabad will continue to thrive.

  27. David Berger’s point, which Marc Shapiro reinforces, is that Judaism changes when Lubavitch messianists are recognized as Orthodox rabbis in good standing.

    The RCA made a resolution against Chabad messianism but it is well known Chabad messianists Rabbis have standing in Modern Orthodoxy. Hamodia features Chabad Rabbis with the clear implication that they belong to Orthodox Judaism. There are excpetions to this pattern but basically Shapiro is correct sociologically and Berger is correct hashkafically.

  28. I don’t know why anyone would be itching for a battle over heresy, or a polemical war in Orthodoxy.

  29. Regarding the position of the RCA on this matter, please note that page 3 of its membership application http://www.rabbis.org/pdfs/ApplicationForm.doc requires an applicant to affirm his agreement with the RCA’s 1996 convention resolution rejecting the idea of a resurrected messiah: http://www.rabbis.org/news/article.cfm?id=101128.

    Rabbi Barry Kornblau
    Rabbinical Council of America

  30. Orthodox Jews don’t share Chabad’s messianic beliefs but they don’t feel threatened by those beliefs. The rest is commentary.

  31. “I don’t know why anyone would be itching for a battle over heresy, or a polemical war in Orthodoxy.”

    Like https://www.torahmusings.com/2010/12/women-and-minyan/?

  32. Even people who don’t itch for a battle recognize the need to sometimes take a stand on important issues. The truth is that there is no need to take a stand on women’s issues. It is self-understood that those who go the egalitarian way can say goodbye to the Orthodox community.

  33. And there’s a need to take a stand on Messianism?

  34. I appreciate Rabbi Kornblau’s posting. It should be pointed out that there are many other ways to grant legitimacy besides RCA membership. Hiring Chabad Rabbis to teach in MO schools is one example. The policy of the RCA organization is different than the policy of many (not all) RCA Rabbis.

  35. Gil, that is the nub of the issue. The Orthodox establishment(s) are inconsistent in what is “outside the pale of orthodoxy”. A Rabba is out, but the second coming of the messiah we can tacitly accept.

    Zalman hits the nail on the head at 10:04.

  36. You are all missing two major points. In most countries of the world, the only halachic Judaism IS Chabad, and outside of the North America, a huge fraction of Chabad rabbis are meshichists. We who DON’T believe that the Rebbe is mashiach are already a geographical minority. Fortunately, the meshichists haven’t declared non-meshichists to be heretical — yet.

  37. “Unfortunately those Rabbis that have publicly said that it is okay to Daven with a Chabad minyan are indirectly promoting Chabad beliefs.”

    What is wrong with non-meshichist Chabad?

  38. “does Judaism believe there was a *first* coming of the Messiah”

    Chizkiyahu or Bar Kochba?

  39. Rabbi Kornblau: The problem with that is that it only addresses Rabbinical leaders. What is the RCA doing to *actively* publicize to the rest of the community that these beliefs are not consistent with Judaism? And I do not think that position statements on a web-site could be considered “active”.

  40. “This is because the Orthodox rabbinic leadership is stuck in the 19th century and views reform as the main threat against Orthodoxy.”

    I’m a big supporter of semichah for women, but I don’t think I agree with your point. The Reform movement started in 1811 and didn’t officially declare a woman to be a rabbi until 1972. There ARE legitimate halachic issues regarding what roles women (and male converts) can take in the community.

  41. Is it:
    – Acceptable to eat Chabad shchitah meat? What if the Chabad shochet believes that Rabbi Schneersohn is divine?
    – Acceptable to drink wine supervised by a Chabad shaliach? What if that same shaliach believes that Rabbi Schneersohn is divine?
    – Do the OU and other Kashrut agencies require their Kashrut supervisors to sign a similar document to the RCA one mentioned above, that there is no place for the belief in a resurrected Moshiach, nor a divine person?

  42. IH: There is no way to politely ignore egalitarianism. Once the genie is out of the bottle, it creates a wedge.

  43. Gil: Yes, the (male) Orthodox establishment is threatened by the changing role of women; but, can wink at a belief in the second coming of the messiah because it is not (yet) threatening to them. This is politcs, not theology.

  44. IH: Are we playing the distort-other-people’s-words game today? I’m all for it!

  45. Hmm. A good start would be to quote Prof Shapiro’s complete paragraph (in the same way as you corrected “recent”).

  46. “If there is a liberal Christian sect that believes its religion preaches “reproductive rights,” does that make abortion-on-demand a Christian teaching?”

    Yes, but not one held by all Christian sects.

  47. “the (male) Orthodox establishment is threatened by the changing role of women”

    I’m also not convinced of this, either.

    Why can’t we just accept that some people we disagree with actually believe what they do for the reasons they say?

  48. “Is it:”

    In response to a shilah my rav paskened that I can trust the kashrut of a meshichist.

  49. I was told by a posek not to drink any wines with the hechsher of a certain CHABAD Rabbi in Europe. This CHABAD Rabbi is a known Meshichist but his hechsher appears on many popular wines, especially of the “bubbly” variety. I follow this psak to the best of my ability.

  50. aiwac — this is just a variant on feeling threatened, no? Should men stop going to universities because they are now majority female? What about Upstate and Connecticut WASPs who felt threatened by the encoaching Jews in the latter half of the 20th century (not to mention the Upper East Side Coops that have Jewish quotas)?

    I go to shul to daven, not to shmooze. Have a Brotherhood for your male chevra.

  51. There is a quote in “The Day After”:

    “It is the social reality of many a religious denomination, Jewish or non-Jewish, which has adopted full, integrative egalitarianism as its policy. ”

    In fact the fastest growing Christian churches are the pentacostal churches, and they were the first to adopt ordination of women with enthusiasm. The Assemblies of God did not exist in 1900 but has almost 60 million adherents in 140 countries today. The Foursquare Gospel Church was actually started by a woman and has 8 million adherents in about as many countries.

  52. Rafael,

    This well known meshichist Rav who supervises the popular wines is approved by the OU, hence the OU which appears on the bottles along with his own hechsher. Does your posek say the OU is therefore unreliable?

  53. More from “The Day After”:

    “There’s far more women there than men at any given time.”

    I davened Shacharit this morning at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. There were about a dozen and a half guys at the minyan. No women. Not atypical.

  54. “What is wrong with non-meshichist Chabad?”

    Personally, I love Chabad and daven there often, but the mere fact that they’re chasidim is problematic for me. I once was at a Chabad and the rebetzin was telling stories about the fifth Lubavitcher rebbe performing miracles. It struck me as avoda zara, and it had nothing to do with meshichism.
    That said, I’m still a huge fan of Chabad.

  55. Nothing to do with OU. OU is certainly reliable and in fact, on many products, its hechsher appears together with other hechsherim. No problem with that. That’s why when I once received a bubbly wine with his hechsher as a gift, I asked this posek what to do. He said once I have it, I don’t have to get rid of it.

  56. “IH: There is no way to politely ignore egalitarianism. – Hirhurim”

    I don’t see how this is true.
    Ignoring meshichism means that as long as no one tries to say yechi after your daavening you ignore that they say so on their own turf, and let them show your kids how to bake matzah, etc. and you don’t kick out guys who daaven at your shul with a yechi yarmulka.
    Ignoring egalitarianism would mean that as long as no woman tries to say barchu from the bima of your shul you ignore the fact that she does so on her own turf. you let people who daaven egal give a chabura like anyone else, and you don’t kick out women who come to shul in tzitzis.
    Both are equally feasible, practically.

  57. Rafael,

    The problem is that the OU approves of this meshicist Rav and they accept him. The OU on the bottle is not an independent hechsher — they are just testifying to the American consumer that he is reliable. The meshichist is, in fact, the only supervision on those popular wines (despite the 2 hechsherim). So if your rabbi says that the meshichist is not reliable, does he then say that the OU’s judgment regarding the meshicist is incorrect?

  58. IH,

    I’m really getting tired of your contemptuous attitude towards anyone you disagree with on your right (which matches with unlimited empathy and constant justification towards those on your left). No, the fact that “people on the right” also do it, even if more, does not justify your hurtful sneering and sarcasm.

    What I talked about is a legit problem in many religious denominations that deserves to be taken seriously, not dismissed because it’s not PC. It has nothing to do with “being threatened” and everything to do with the need for your own space. Telling people to “just deal with it and shut up” is not how a solution.

  59. aiwac: sorry, if I offended. My intention was not to be disdainful or sneering. Perhaps you can summarize the issue within the context of this discussion rather than sending me off to read a more general blog posting. I must have just missed your point.

  60. Since I recently read Prof. Shapiro’s fascinating monograph “Saul Lieberman and the Orthodox”, others may be interested in this passage that relates to my expressed views.

    [I want to be clear the correlation to this thread is entirely mine; and may not be consistent with Prof. Shapiro’s thinking]

    “The tension between the two movements was increased by the fact that many talented members of the Orthodox community were choosing to attend the Seminary to receive ordination, rather than RIETS or attend another yeshiva, and there were no appreciable gains in the other direction. In fact, a survey of applicants to the JTS Rabbinical School covering the years 1946 – 1957, it was revealed that sixty percent came from Orthodox homes and thirty percent were graduates of Yeshiva College. […] Because the Conservatives defined themselves as faithfully following tradition, the Orthodox regarded them as a real threat, and thus more dangerous than the Reform.”

  61. IH,

    The issue is that egalitarianism in many liberal denominations often leads to an “emptying out” by the laity of men. This happens in many places, even though no-one there is “afraid” of female domination since they obviously support egalitarianism in principle.

    So fear that Orthodoxy will suffer the same fate is not just some strange fantasy of the paranoid male establishment. It’s happened before and it can happen again. Even if you support egalitarianism (within the extent of halacha), you need to to do it right, or the damage will outweigh the benefits.

    So what’s the problem of feminization?

    The problem is that it makes men feel redundant and unnnecesary. Also, both genders need their space – “Guys’ time and girls’ time”. Mixing everything and abolishing any kind of gender segregation looks great on paper, but it doesn’t always bring about the desired results.

    Contrary to what you may think, I am not bringing this up to “put women back in their place (i.e. in the kitchen)”. I’m doing it precisely because I see that it might be possible to remove many of the discriminatory rules. I see many well-intentioned people such as yourself who are so hell-bent on tearing down the walls, that they don’t see the ruin it can cause. I see, in short, a complete lack of empathy for the “other side” (in this case being the broad male laity).

    I do not have a solution for this. But I do think it behooves you and all others who are so hot on this issue to get off your high horse and just LISTEN.

  62. What is the “girls’ time” in orthodoxy?

  63. Thank you, Charlie:

    “the (male) Orthodox establishment is threatened by the changing role of women”

    I’m also not convinced of this, either.

    Why can’t we just accept that some people we disagree with actually believe what they do for the reasons they say?

  64. I follow the Gr”a (-generally speaking; I do, however, read the Haggadah on Shabbat Hagadol as per the Rema in OC 430 notwithstanding the Vilna Ga’on’s objection, because this is my ancestral custom, and the Rema is an authority upon whom I can rely on this particular matter). I am also privileged to deliver a shi’ur in a Lubavitch beit midrash here in Montreal, as a token of hakarat hatov to Chabad for the marvelous work it performs. I love Chabad, and at the same time I make it clear to my distinguished Lubavitch audience that they are halakhically obligated to sleep in the sukkah, because of an explicit mishnah in Sukkah 20b – “ha’yashen tachat hamitah, lo yatza yidei chovato”. [To this effect, I am proud to sleep in the sukkah in the Diaspora even on Shemini Atzeret no matter how frigid the weather may be, in accordance with the simple reading of the gemara in Sukkah 47a and the practice of the Gr”a.]

    It is obvious that the Lubavitcher Rebbe was (a) a tzaddik gammur, and (b) not the mashi’ach (-which does not detract from the fact that he was a tzaddik gammur). R. David Berger, R. Gil Student and Dr. Marc Shapiro deserve special credit for being mizakeh et harabim by writing books that publicize this point. Likewise, R. Berger deserves special praise for inspiring the RCA to pass an appropriate resolution that correctly educates the public on this matter. Moreover, R. Berger deserves special praise for evidently inspiring R. Yehudah Krinsky, shlit”a, to tell the New York Times in an interview published on August 8, 2010, that the work of Lubavitch Chassidut is focused on Torah study and mitzvah performance, and is not interesting in identifying any particular candidate as the messiah. That interview was a sparkling Kiddush Hashem – a credit to both R. Krinsky and R. Berger.

    In a telephone conversation on June 6, 2006, I asked RJDB what is the halakhic status of a shochet or sofer who believes that the deceased R. Menachem Mendel Schneerson is the messiah. RJDB responded that such a belief does not disqualify the individual from serving as a shochet or sofer, because the gemara in Sanhedrin 98b espouses the possibility that Daniel Ish Chamudot could be resurrected through techi’at hametim to be the mashi’ach. RJDB explained that as long as a person did not claim to be the mashi’ach in his lifetime, he could still be the mashi’ach after death. The Lubavitcher Rebbe never said he is the mashi’ach, and so it is technically possible for him to be resurrected as mashi’ach. But RJDB regards it as pure silliness to specifically identify the Lubavitcher Rebbe as the candidate to this effect; there have been many wonderful tzaddikim throughout Jewish history who equally fit the bill. [Indeed, the gemara speaks of Daniel, *not* the Lubavitcher Rebbe! It would be hubris to think that one can outsmart Chazal.] Thus, a person who believes that the Lubavitcher Rebbe is mashi’ach is engaging is needless speculation, but he is still an Orthodox Jew and his shechitah and safrut are kosher. This is very good news for Klal Yisra’el.

    RJDB continued that we are not talking about the protagonist of Mel Gibson’s motion picture here. That is certainly avodah zarah (foreign worship from a Jewish perspective) – to create a religion antithetical to the prophecy of Mosheh Rabbeinu. But the Lubavitcher Rebbe was not Mel Gibson’s protagonist. The Lubavitcher Rebbe was a fine “far-frumt” Jew who distributed dollars for charity and who encouraged people to put on tefillin. The Lubavitcher Rebbe certainly believed in the eternal nature of Mosheh Rabbeinu’s prophecy. There’s nothing heretical per se in claiming that such an altruistic individual as the Lubavitcher Rebbe will be eventually resurrected to become the mashi’ach. It’s just totally ridiculous to do so; the equivalent of claiming that Shalom Spira will be the next Prime Minister of Canada. Sure it could technically happen according the Canadian law (-Shalom Spira is a citizen of Canada in good standing), but it’s highly unlikely (-unless someone is willing to install a eighteen-handbreadth-high mechitzah in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill [-per RMF’s standards]; then I might consider accepting such a position).

    In summation, RJDB has ruled that Chabad Chassidut complies with Orthodox Judaism and has much to contribute. It should be encouraged to continue its wonderful good deeds, and – at the same time – to comply with the mishnah which requires sleeping in the sukkah. It should also refrain from speculating who the mashi’ach might be, for such speculation is silly and has no place in the busy mitzvah-schedule of a Jew. R. Krinsky’s recent interview confirms that Chabad Chassidut is headed in the right direction, and this is a credit to R. Berger.

  65. Charlie Hall wrote “What is wrong with non-meshichist Chabad?”

    Nothing, but it doesn’t exist in any meaningful way. Meshichist beliefs are ubiquitous in Chabad; most “non-meshichists” are only overtly so because they feel that it isn’t politically expedient to publicize their beliefs.

  66. emma,

    I’m talking in general. But what would you want “girl’s time” to be (ideally)?

  67. aiwac: as far as I can tell, you are describing a social issue rather a theological one. To you, is this connected to Jewish belief?

    Also, I think the partnership minyanim (e.g. Darkhei Noam in NYC) avoid this “problem” by effectively assigning certain parts of the liturgy to men and to women. This is not fully egalitarian; but, a reasonable compromise between metziut and the conservative nature of halachic change. And, I think it addresses your issue.

  68. I don’t know. probably some communal space where you can do religiously important things.

    My question was an honest, empirical one to which I do not know the answer, and turning it on me as a question of aspirations does not answer that.

    You asserted that “both genders need thier space.” My experience is that in orthodoxy, there is much less (if any) women-only communal space than men-only communal space. By “I was talking in general” do you mean that, when it comes to the specifics of orthodoxy you agree that women don’t have “girls time” the way men have “guys time”? Doesn’t that sort of undercut the general statement that women “need” their own space?

    (Or, if women don’t need it, why not? Or if they need it and are not getting it, why? Or maybe men don’t “need” it either?)

  69. My apologies for a technical inaccuracy in my previous comment. The Kiddush Hashem interview with R. Krinsky in the New York Times was published on August 6, 2010. Thank you.

  70. Mechy Frankel

    “I submit that only a Judaism that honestly emerges from its sources, bounded by its traditional theological borders, can legitimately lay claim to the religion’s title.”

    Unfortunately the humor of this notion is only exceeded by its vacuousness. That “honestly” emerges from its sources? According to whom? and the “honest” extrapolations or inferences from the – presumably – “dishonest” ones? And who gets to decide what are legitimate “sources” ? You?, R. Elyashiv?, R. Avi Weiss? there is not a movement of jews (does that also make it a jewish movement?) to emerge in history that has not claimed to be honestly based on jewish sources, and that includes everything from karaism to frankism to Chasidism and Reform (both 19th century german and 21st century litvish yeshivish varieties). It seems to me that what it really boils down to for such as Rgil is that what stays bounded by “traditional” borders is that which his gut tells him is traditional. Kinda like the no-true-scotsman test or like potter stewart’s test for pornography.

    The poster who mentioned chabad’s travel service is certainly on to something. I prefer to think of chabad as being in the restaurant business. I tagged along the other month on my wife’s trip to Beijing and we appreciated the availability of chabad and their food cum davening services. I didn’t notice any other organized jewish presence and was grateful to them. Incidentally, when they opened the aron for shabbos leining I noticed the mantle of the torah recorded its donation in honor of r. MM Schneerson zt”l, which increased my comfort level immensely. If I’m some places in the US, such as Albuquerque, they’re the only game in town. in silver spring, there are various chabad minyonim, including one started here in kemp mill in a sort of coals-to-newcastle setting, so I find marc shapiro’s assertion of lack of integration rather puzzling, unless he is focused only on the litvish yeshivish part of the spectrum. but jewish life, thank god, is not limited to the peculiar and particular prejudices of that segment.

  71. “you don’t kick out guys who daaven at your shul with a yechi yarmulka”

    I know of one Chabad rabbi who does just that.

  72. “Thank you, Charlie”

    You are welcome!

  73. “on many products, its hechsher appears together with other hechsherim”

    On my spice rack I have a container of Pereg brand mint leaves where the OU is one of five hechshirim. I’ve seen opinions that plain spices don’t require a hechsher at all.

  74. shalom spira,
    whether or not the Rebbe said he was mashiach, his chasidim during his lifetime said he was. By their lights, they now believe in a mashiach who died in the middle of his mission. This is much more than a belief is a resurrected mashiach. It is a belief that contradicts Judaism,

  75. emma,

    No, when I was saying “talking in general”, I meant I hadn’t thought out specifics on gender spaces. It is simply a matter of my not “pounding the pavement” and hearing the word on the street. I simply don’t know.

    Another problem with answering your question is I don’t know what you would consider “religiously important things”. What about Midrashot and Women’s learning groups? Or the phenomenon of yo’atzot halacha? How’s about the increasing phenomenon of women who get to hold the sefer Torah on Simhat Torah &c? Or is it merely “whatever men can do that women can’t”?

    I agree that women have less area in this field than men, and that this probably can be changed in many areas. I just think that not everything should be integrated.

    IH,

    Social policy is very, very important, no less so than religious belief. All halachic authorities recognized this, even the most stringent ones.

    I don’t consider this something to be put in scare quotes; it’s a real issue in C and R circles. Furthermore, while the case of the partnership minyan is interesting, I am concerned not with the unique cases but with the masses. The issue is how the Average Jewish Joseph will respond, not the unique groups.

  76. Shalom Spira: You spell out the names of several people, but you refer to “RJDB” 6 times with no explanation. Who is/was he?

  77. midrashot and women’s learning groups count, but are recent innovations. yoatzot are not a communal space. Women who “get to” dance with a torah together also counts, also recent. what about this “need” before? stever brizel’s favorite, satmar bikkur cholim probably also counts to the extent it is largely done by women in a realtively communal way.

    The quintessential woman-only space, the mikva, is about the least social/communal experience out there. (though my mother tells me back in the day it was different, at least in some places with crowded waiting rooms).

    My point is that if it is true, as it seems empirically to be, that men “need” or want men-only spaces on a very regular basis to be engaged jews, but women “need” or get women-only spaces relatively rarely, we need to think about what that means. Either men and women have different needs, or the community is structured to cater to the needs of one at the expense/exclusion of the other. Perhaps it’s a bit of both.

  78. if you want general criteria, i’d say communal spaces where women get together for the purpose of performing mitzvot and where men are banned or sidelined. I would add that if the only “mitzvah” at play is childrearing, it probably doesn’t qualify.

  79. R D Berger quotes RYSE as stating that the shechitah of a Mesichist is Treife even on a Bdieved level. Regardless of the many Hashkafic/Halachic issues raised by Chabad based Messianism, Chabad serves as a port of entry for many would be BTs , as an outpost for Torah values on many college campuses and communities where there is no MO or Charedi presence.

  80. Like it or not, radical egalitarian theorists and advocates seriously maintain that the only difference between men and women is that of giving birth to a child. A corollary of this theory is the very well known expression and truism that “feminism is the theory and lesbianism is the practice.” MO apologists for feminism attempt to minimize and dilute this argument so to be render feminism more palatable to the MO community, but one cannot ignore the roots of feminist theory nor its inroads in the secular world, where thanks to litigation and legislation such as Article 9, women’s amateur, collegiate and professional sports are viewed and treated with the same seriousness as traditional sports on all levels, and it is considered “sexist”, to maintain that there are differences between the genders that no amount of litigation, affirmative action based legislation and gender theory can change.

  81. aiwac: you asked my opinion, to which I responded. I hear your pain, but can’t empathize. To me, if more females than males want to actively participate, then more power to them.

    The fact is that when given a chance — whether it is learning gemara, or having a women’s minyan for a Bat Mitzva, or having a women’s minyan once a month, or leading kabbalat shabbat, or layning — many women want to be more involved than they were previously able to me. I just can’t see how this is bad for halachic Judaism.

  82. Steven,

    I’m no expert, but as far as I know, there are different strains and attitudes of feminism (e.g. the “three waves” &c.) Don’t you think it’s unfair to paint the entire feminist movement with the same brush?

  83. IH,

    “I hear your pain, but can’t empathize”

    This is unfortunate, and don’t understand why this is so. Surely it is possible to empathize and still disagree?

    In any event, I think you entirely missed the point. I have no problem with the women-specific activities you mentioned, assuming they can be allowed by halacha. My problem is the possible ramifications of full integration a la the LW of C and R. “Halachic Judaism” is not just an abstract concept, it is a community of human beings which needs to be treated as such.

  84. Emma asked:

    “What is the “girls’ time” in orthodoxy”

    I think that one obvious answer is that women, even more so than men, worry about the quality of their friendships, their relationships with their families, spouses and children and excell in all types of Chesed that don’t require the aping of men’s public roles. That’s why the Satmar Bikur Cholim,which is run by the women of the Satmar community, is the paradigm of Chesed. One cannot deny that there is a strong division of roles for the genders that is manifestly obvious from a superficial reading of Chumash which is based on a division of roles between the public and private spheres.

    Acting and living in a private or modest manner has taken a lot of undeserving criticism, but there are so many Halachos and Minhagim that are rooted in and accentuate the private nature of a Jew’s relationship with HaShem and tell us that demonstrating the public dimension of the same is considered inappropriate unless specifically mandated for a greater public need such as Chazaras HaShatz or Krias HaTorah.

    Here is a short list of examples. Think of the covering of the Challah at the Shabbos table, the fact that a Sefer Torah stays in the Aron HaKodesh, is carried out, uncovered solely for a public reading and then placed back in the Aron HaKodesh. In a similar manner, the Shofar is hidden until right before the time of Tekias Shofar. The Torah itself uses Lashon Nekiah to describe many bodily functions and activities of a very intimate nature.

  85. “because the gemara in Sanhedrin 98b espouses the possibility that Daniel Ish Chamudot could be resurrected through techi’at hametim to be the mashi’ach.”

    It does no such thing.

    Also, did I just really read you saying that Parliament requires a mechitza? Really? For a man who claims, in the very same breath, to follow R’ Moshe, you’re really a remarkable bird.

  86. Mechy: I think the statement was vague, not vacuous. I apologize if vagueness makes you uncomfortable.

  87. R’ LI Reader,
    Thank you for asking. RJDB = R. J. David Bleich.

    R’ Ben Dov,
    Thank you for your important rejoinder. I asked this as well to RJDB. Namely, the discourse “Bati ligani achoti khalah” is widely interpreted as a declaration by the Lubavitcher Rebbe himself that he was the mashi’ach. RJDB rejected this interpretation as a pure fantasy. All R. Schneerson actually states in the “Bati ligani achoti khalah” discourse is that our generation is the generation of mashi’ach. “I also believe that!” exclaimed RJDB over the telephone, based on the gemara in Eruvin 43b, that mashi’ach can potentially arrive any day, except for Shabbat or Yom Tov. [Hence the Ani Ma’amin expression “achakeh lo bikhol yom she’yavo”.] Obviously, Lubavitch Chassidim would be well advised to improve their Hebrew reading skills and to interpret their Rebbe’s discourses accurately, but RJDB insists that they are still Orthodox Jews in good standing.

    R’ Steve Brizel,
    Thank you and yi’yasher kochakha for the citation from RYSE. This is indeed significant information of which I was unaware, which ostensibly contradicts RJDB’s pesak halakhah. Is it possible RYSE was only discussing the (thankfully caricature and purely hypothetical case) of a person who actually worships the Rebbe, but that RYSE would validate the shechitah of a normal Lubavitch Chassid (who does not worship the Rebbe)? If so, there would be no dispute between RYSE and RJDB. Thank you and yi’yasher kochakha for verifying this.

    R’ Nachum,
    Thank you for your kind words and important rejoinder. Canada’s House of Commons is a place of prayer. See http://www2.parl.gc.ca/procedure-book-livre/document.aspx?language=e&mode=1&sbdid=AF057BD0-F018-4FB4-BD75-4A2200729F05&sbpid=4A09A55B-E906-41D1-BF23-35A6DBE50354#DD350E4F-FB43-4BA5-8EDC-A028D7C49BD3
    Therefore, for me to attend as an Orthodox Jew, I would need to insist that the prayers be formulated in an Orthodox Jewish manner, which (among other prerequisites) ipso facto requires a partition.

  88. >R D Berger quotes RYSE as stating that the shechitah of a Mesichist is Treife even on a Bdieved level.

    What is the point of that quote, other than to underscore the fact that even most Chareidim in America simply do not listen to R Elyashiv’s piskei halacha (unless they want to)?

  89. Shalom Spira: ” Is it possible RYSE was only discussing the (thankfully caricature and purely hypothetical case) of a person who actually worships the Rebbe”

    I think that you are unfortunately blissfully ignorant if you think that this is a purely hypothetical case. I have personally heard from an ex-Chabadnik that this is at least 10% of Chabad adherents (which is why this particular person is ex-Chabad).

    And even those that say that Rabbi Schneersohn was “just” Moshiach and not devine: Are you saying that the belief that a person can die and be resurrected as Moshiach (a common belief it seems in another religion) is acceptable halachically?

  90. hirhurim: vague? or empty statement signifying it to be meaningless (hence vacuous). i think mechy is correct. its not that its uncomfortable but historically questionable assertion and not follow with what you mean by it.

  91. “Mechy: I think the statement was vague, not vacuous. I apologize if vagueness makes you uncomfortable”

    It’s a strange day when you are defending yourself by claiming the premise of your post is “vague.”

  92. aiwac: the reason I can’t empathize and yet disagree is that I have a moral issue with your proposition.

    To wit, you go on to state “My problem is the possible ramifications of full integration a la the LW of C and R. “Halachic Judaism” is not just an abstract concept, it is a community of human beings which needs to be treated as such.”

    But, unless I continue to misunderstand, you are excluding the female part of the community in that sentence. By definition, if the (self-selected) community has an equal distribution of male and female volunteers, then your issue doesn’t arise. It is only when in the full community there are significantly more female volunteers than male volunteers your issue exists.

  93. Here’s my account of discussions and correspondence with poskim on the issue of Chabad messianism: https://www.torahmusings.com/2004/04/habad-messianism/

  94. AIWAC wrote:

    “I’m no expert, but as far as I know, there are different strains and attitudes of feminism (e.g. the “three waves” &c.) Don’t you think it’s unfair to paint the entire feminist movement with the same brush”

    I disagree. All social trends and political movements have their ideological and social points of origin, which may be dominant, recede or reassess their dominance as any social movement moves beyond its point of origin,but the roots are always factors to be considered in the origins and ultimate direction of the same.

  95. ruvie: There are two parts to the sentence — the issue of honestly emerging from sources and remaining within traditional theological borders. I believe, based on correspondence, that Marc Shapiro would agree with both parts. However, defining the details is difficult and controversial, hence the vagueness.

    See also these two posts (at the end of both) where I report similar ideas in his name, based on correspondence:
    https://www.torahmusings.com/2010/09/dogma/
    https://www.torahmusings.com/2010/08/quick-takes-vi/

  96. IH,

    You do indeed continue to misunderstand. Integration very often LEADS to a situation where there are far fewer male volunteers than male volunteers. The question of the “starting point” is irrelevant. The “self-selected” business is a dodge. Many men will likely opt out of this “self-selection” and lead to precisely the imbalance you’re mentioning.

    Perhaps you will say, let them leave and good riddance! Would you say the same thing for the thousands of Jews who leave Orthodoxy and/or intermarry?

    I think your primary problem is your insistence on viewing this issue solely as a matter of social justice with its attendant clear shades of black and white (a la the civil rights movement you keep referring to). Thus, what is right must be done, and to hell with the consequences.

    In Israel we have a saying – when on the road, don’t be right, be smart. The same goes with women’s standing in Orthodoxy. Even assuming everything can be allowed halachically, we still need to figure out how to ensure the empowerment of one gender doesn’t lead to the flight of another. You may not care, since you are so full of righteous anger and fury, but I think cooler heads are needed for this.

  97. Excuse me, the first paragraph should read “far fewer male volunteers than female volunteers”.

  98. emma: This is the point of the post: “Just because some Jews believe it, and believe that Judaism teaches it, does not make it a Jewish belief in anything other than a sociological sense.” Not a guide to precisely defining Jewish beliefs, although I have definite thoughts on that as well.

  99. “Not a guide to precisely defining Jewish beliefs, although I have definite thoughts on that as well.”

    See Tradition 3:2 “What is Jewish Philosophy” by R. Eliezer Berkovitz, where he writes in his intro:

    “…However, the question as to the authentic criteria of Jewish philosophy cannot be answered by the varying moods of the contemporary Jew…”

  100. I don’t consider R. Eliezer Berkovits to be the posek acharon on anything.

  101. Is that a nice way of saying, if he said it you will disagree with it?

  102. S: No. It was a nice way of asking who cares what he says?

  103. aiwac: I often listen to Galgalatz and am familiar with the road safety advert you quote. So, in that context, perhaps a different analogy might be nusach adot ha’mizrach crowding out nusach ashkenaz in communities where there is only one shul?

    Would that be a fair re-interpretation of your point to a less emotive issue?

  104. hirhurim: many people care what elizear berkovitz says. he was a gadol in the area of philosophy – jewish – and on par with the rav (although he differed) in that area as well as a talmid chacham(as well as a siciple of the sredei aish – no small posek either). just because you disagree with his views – does not make them treif (or dismissive) or of lesser stature. your comment was very disrespectful (Imho).

  105. In my sister’s yishuv there is one shul (modulo the Taimanim). The shul nusach varies with whomever is leading that part of the service: which ranges from Ashkenazis to Sefardi. I’ve not done a demographic survey, but empirically it tends to Adot ha’Mizrach when I’ve been. It took a while to get used to this, but I think its great to have the richness of diversity within a shared context. But, many dyed-in-the-wool J-Dubs may resent it.

  106. >S: No. It was a nice way of asking who cares what he says?

    What if what he says is good?

  107. hirhurim: “I submit that only a Judaism that honestly emerges from its sources, bounded by its traditional theological borders, can legitimately lay claim to the religion’s title.”

    “There are two parts to the sentence — the issue of honestly emerging from sources and remaining within traditional theological borders. I believe, based on correspondence, that Marc Shapiro would agree with both parts. However, defining the details is difficult and controversial, hence the vagueness.”

    what does it really mean – it not that is just vague but structured to connect to “legitimately” – as well as religion’s title – whatever that may be. how often has there be one sole legitimate voice in judaism? ever? and what are those “traditional theological borders” – something you believe today but can be refuted at a look at real historical evidence? in the end, i would be surprised if shapiro would agree with the examples you might provide as outside the bounds today or recent modern history. but i could be wrong.

  108. IH,

    I don’t think one can compare male flight to nusach issues. The ramifications of the former are more severe (religious life, family life &c). But I guess you could call “nusach takeover” a “sugarless version” of what integration could cause – seperatist minyanim, general avoidance of shul and other activities &c.

    Still, nowadays people are far more latitudinarian regarding nusach, so I doubt it would be that big a deal. Gender integration, OTOH, is a far deeper and more powerful move.

    As for being emotive, I believe we both have what to work on in that department…

  109. ruvie: For example — a philosophy of Judaism that excludes God or some sort of revelation.

  110. Hirhurim,

    Where does that place Heschel, for instance?

  111. Ruvie wrote:

    “many people care what elizear berkovitz says. he was a gadol in the area of philosophy – jewish – and on par with the rav (although he differed) in that area as well as a talmid chacham(as well as a siciple of the sredei aish – no small posek either). just because you disagree with his views – does not make them treif (or dismissive) or of lesser stature. your comment was very disrespectful (Imho”

    For a certain generation, REB’s views on Hashkafa were very influential, especially at HTC aka “Skokie”, and his views on Faith and The Holocaust. I would tend to doubt whether one can equate REB’s roles either in Halacha, Hanhagah and overall influence with RYBS, and whether all of his views were agreed to by the SE or reflected his views-especially on Hafkaas Kiddushin. I think that it is obvious that RYBS and REB disagreed as to the influence and role of Halacha and Mesorah on a wide variety of issues.

  112. aiwac: Take the good and ignore the bad (obviously based on the talmudic example I am refraining from mentioning).

  113. Who decides which sources? Before Moshe DeLeon forged/revealed it, the Zohar wan’t a ‘source’, and now it certainly is, unless you are a dardai. Who’s to say who are the legitimate arbiters of traditional Judaism, besides from the rabbis who Gil Student happens to look for guidance from?

  114. I really feel that these discussions about “legitimate Jewish beliefs” run round in circles. Both sides essentially talk past each other. Why don’t we talk specifics? Here’s a few possibles:

    1) Is atheism/agnosticism a legit Jewish belief?

    2) What about the view that TSBP is divinely inspired but not based on unbroken oral tradition but rather religious intuition and hermeneutic principles?

    3) How far can one go in interpreting the concept “Torah Min Hashamayim”?

    Please explain why in your response to each question. You have two hours. Pens only. 🙂

  115. J-Let’s put R Moshe de Leon to the side for a second. Would you concede that one can find Kabbalistic type interpretations in Aggadic passages, Midrashim and in Rishonim such as Ramban? Perhaps, the Zohar had not been revealed in its full text, but I think that you can argue that there were Kabbalistic style means of Parshanut long before the time of R Moshe De Leon.

    AIWAC-Let me offer a short suggetion re your queries.

    1) I think that even those Monei HaMitzvos who don’t count Anochi as a Mitzvas Aseh assume that atheism and agnosticism simply are incompatible with many other Mitzvos that are dependent on one’s Kabalas Ol Malchus Shamayim.

    2-3)The rejection of a TSBP that was transmitted from HaShem to Moshe Rabbeinu and then to the Chachamim of every generation is a highly problematic notion. It is important to realize that TSBP means that Moshe Rabbeinu transmitted the tools of interpretation, as opposed to the verbatim text, and all of the texts that we have since the Chasimas HaTalmud are actually ancillary to the give and take that takes place in understanding the same and discovering new Chiddushim, Chumros and Kulos that occurs on a daily basis. That’s why the Chovos HaLevavos and other Rishonim are very dismissive of a person who has a lot of knowledge but can’t transform what he carries into wisdom .

    TSBP is a vitally alive and dynamic system if one realizes that its purest transmission is via Rebbe to Talmid, and not via books. As a corollary, I would add that the Torah gave the Chachamim in every generation to tell us how to observe a Mitzvah. In that sense, our adherence to TSBP and the Chachamim of every generation is far more important on a practical and educational level and as a means of ensuring our fealty to Halacha than understanding Pshat in the last 8 Psukim of Vzos HaBracha where a number of interpretations exist, but none of which compels our acceptance in the same manner as knowing how to observe any of the Torah’s mitzvos. In that sense, Halacha is a process that depends on our voluntary acceptance of a vertical structure far more so than Parshanut where one can see radically different and equally valid means of interpretation on the same verse in Chumash.

  116. “I don’t consider R. Eliezer Berkovits to be the posek acharon on anything.”

    I thought he was precisely supporting your claim in this post, so I’m puzzled by your negative response.

  117. “one cannot ignore the roots of feminist theory”

    Whose feminist theory? Betty Friedan is very, very different from Mary Daly.

    “nor its inroads in the secular world”

    I consider equal pay and equal employment opportunity to be good things. I’m married to a physician, and my division head (not Jewish) is a woman with an earned doctorate from Harvard. Is that a problem?

    “women’s amateur, collegiate and professional sports are viewed and treated with the same seriousness as traditional sports on all levels”

    And the problem with that is….?

    “strong division of roles for the genders that is manifestly obvious from a superficial reading of Chumash which is based on a division of roles between the public and private spheres”

    I don’t see that it is obvious at all. The major distinctions in halachic Jewish observance between men and women are in *rabbinic* commandments, in particular communal prayer. The number of Torah mitzvot applicable today for which men are chiyuv and women patur is actually rather small.

    “a Sefer Torah stays in the Aron HaKodesh, is carried out, uncovered solely for a public reading and then placed back in the Aron HaKodesh”

    We violate that every Hoshanah Rabba and Simchat Torah.

    “Even assuming everything can be allowed halachically, we still need to figure out how to ensure the empowerment of one gender doesn’t lead to the flight of another. ”

    I’d be more worried if I saw any evidence that such is actually happening.

  118. “nusach takeover”

    I actually see nusach changes as rather important.

    Every colonial era Jewish congregation in America and Canada used the Dutch-Portuguese Sefardic nusach, even though many of the Jews here were Ashkenazic. It is absolutely clear that it was the established nusach. But Ashkenazim were restless and wanted to do it “their way”. The first Ashkenazic synagogue in America was founded in 1797 in Philadelphia — Rodef Shalom, a breakaway from the Sefardic Mikveh Israel. In 1825 the Ashkenazim in New York broke away from the Sefardic Shearith Israel and formed Bnai Jeshurun. In the following 2 1/2 decades dozens of Ashkenazic synagogues would be founded in America.

    Not a single one of those Ashkenazic congregations is Orthodox today. Shearith Israel and Mikveh Israel still are. Am I mistaken in thinking that the “I want MY nusach rather than the established one” attitude might have had something to do with that?

  119. hirhurim: “ruvie: For example — a philosophy of Judaism that excludes God or some sort of revelation.”

    where does berkovitz denies revelation – i must have missed that somewhere. since when does he exclude hashem in the equation of human existence?

  120. steve b. – please reread what i wrote about berkovitz. i only said that in the area of jewish philosophy he was on the same level as the rav – that is the were in the same league eventhough he was lesser known and didn’t have the exposure of thousands of talmidim.
    nothing to do with the role and influence in halacha. he was a gadol no doubt. not sure that he and the rav would disagree about the role of halacha and mesorah.

  121. steve b. – please explain what you mean – on the transmission of tsbp – what exactly do you think it means – are there multiple views and what was given at sinai anyway. i think you are mixing different theories into a steve b. theory – and on what basis do you think its true?
    if its the purest transmission from rebe to talmid then go on and ex[plain innovations, new ideas that didn’t exist before.

  122. A question I’ve asked people insistent upon egalitarianism in shul is: why do you think public prayer is that important? Moreover, why do you think the particular leader of a public prayer is particularly important? Moreover, why do you think who stands next to the Torah while it’s read, an act that according to the right Rishonim has absolutely no more religious significance than reading a Humash in your house, is particularly important?

    IH: you’re losing your credibility. Your responses have stopped being particularly thoughtful, and have become pointless, unnecessary sniping at whoever you think is too “haredi”. It seems as though you’re purposefully playing dumb just to push the left-wing devil’s advocate move. This is a great example (the better one was where you claimed that a shul with one unethical businessperson, and a Reform temple, are equivalent). Aiwac stated, very clearly, that there exists a legitimate concern that increasing egalitarianism will lead to what’s being called “male flight”. You decided that he was just being a backward woman-fearer. And you still haven’t actually responded to his claim.

    Instead of completely unnecessary sniping at whatever strikes you as coming from a “right-wing” point of view, I recommend actually making arguments. While it means you’ll be on the defensive more often than your interlocutors, you might actually contribute to the conversation.

  123. Lawrence Kaplan

    Gil: I too am puzzled and troubled by your dismissive and rather nasty comment about Rabbi Eliezer Bekowitz, particularly when he supported what you said.

    Steve; Read what R. Shalom Carmy says about REB in his review in Tradition. He correctly notes that in the 60s and 70s many YU and RIETS students (including myself) took him very seriously indeed. You also ignore the impact of his book, God, Man and History, his biblical studies, etc.

  124. Joseph Kaplan

    Re alleged “male flight.” Is the argument that if Orthodox women are allowed to play a greater role in, say, shul, that Orthodox men will stop coming to davening? That men who are shomrei Torah and mitzvot come to davening not because it is a religious obligation but because it’s a men’s club? AIUI, and I’ve spoken to one of the leading sociologists on this issue about it, the studies that have shown this “men’s flight” have been in denominations whose adherents are not strongly committed to religious ritual obligation. That is why, as has been pointed out, in evangelical sects, the tremendous influx of women in public religious ritual roles has not caused men’s flight. Why would Orthodox Judaism be different? Or to put it in more personal terms, would those arguing here that increasing women’s roles in public religious practice leads to men’s flight change their own personal practice if that happened in Orthodox Judaism? If so, what would they not do — i.e., how would they flee?

  125. Lawrence Kaplan

    SteveB: I, for one, am not at all convinced that we can find “kabbalah-type” explanations in the classic rabbinic literature. Maybe in Bamidbar Rabbah. Obviously, the Ramban is a kabbalist, something no one ever denied.

  126. Jon: Thanks for the constructive criticism. I will endeavor to save my comments for the productive opportunities. Ring it up to battle fatigue.

    aiwac directly asked my opinion, and perhaps I should have ducked intuiting we would find it hard to find common ground. Mea culpa.

  127. Skeptic: I didn’t see the short excerpt as being for or against my point. It seemed malleable to either position.

    Ruvie: I didn’t mean that R. Berkovits said such a view. I meant that view is something that my post would exclude according to all Rishonim but some theologians today are advocating it as a Jewish view.

    LK: Sorry to offend. I read Not In Heaven and was so underwhelmed that I stopped reading his books or paying him any attention.

  128. “Just because some Jews believe it, and believe that Judaism teaches it, does not make it a Jewish belief in anything other than a sociological sense.”

    “…However, the question as to the authentic criteria of Jewish philosophy cannot be answered by the varying moods of the contemporary Jew…”

    I think it is precisely your point, and I wouldn’t let your past biases against him (for whatever reason) deny you an additional ally for your post today.

  129. OK, I’ll take it.

  130. ‘there exists a legitimate concern that increasing egalitarianism will lead to what’s being called “male flight”. You decided that he was just being a backward woman-fearer.’

    While I do not believe that there is much chance of “male flight” from halachic Judaism, I do not dismiss those who disagree with me as woman fearers.

    “I recommend actually making arguments. ”

    Here is my argument. As long as you need at least ten *men* — not persons — for public prayer, you will still have men coming to shul. And I do think that that makes a critical difference. I davened Shacharit, Minchah, and Maariv today at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. (It happens to be the closest daily minyan to my home.) There were no women at any of the minyanim. And HIR has gone further than just about any other O shul in expanding roles for women.

  131. Gil, what is your response to Emma’s pragmatic suggestion that seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle:

    emma on March 9, 2011 at 11:45 am
    “IH: There is no way to politely ignore egalitarianism. – Hirhurim”

    I don’t see how this is true.

    Ignoring meshichism means that as long as no one tries to say yechi after your daavening you ignore that they say so on their own turf, and let them show your kids how to bake matzah, etc. and you don’t kick out guys who daaven at your shul with a yechi yarmulka.

    Ignoring egalitarianism would mean that as long as no woman tries to say barchu from the bima of your shul you ignore the fact that she does so on her own turf. you let people who daaven egal give a chabura like anyone else, and you don’t kick out women who come to shul in tzitzis.

    Both are equally feasible, practically.

  132. Women rabbis. Relevant to schools, shuls, local councils, wedding-goers, etc.

  133. Charlie: R. Ethan Tucker advocates counting women for a minyan.

  134. It appears to me that R. Gil’s disrespect towards Rav Berkovitz(“It was a nice way of asking who cares what he says”) is a product of a mindset that a rav who doesn’t hold certain views does not deserve to be heard. I have not heard R. Gil write this about even the most Chareidi rav. In other words, there is a catch-22. No worthy rav could hold certain views. Therefore, any rav who holds those views ipso facto is not worthy. In this way, R. Gil and those who think like him can discount certain views and approaches, because no one who ever advocates them can be viewed as a worthy source.

    The uncomfortable truth for R. Gil is that Rav Berkovitz had impeccable credentials. It is true that the board of Tradition placed a disclaimer on one of his articles, but they had the intellectual integrity to write that while they disagreed with the content of the paper, they thought that it was important to publish what Rav Berkovitz had to say. There is a difference between disagreement and deligitimization. Those on the right seem to feel the need to not only disagree with the left, but to attempt to deligitimize their views. However, they are unwilling to do the same with the far right, or the Mesichists.

    As an example, R. Henkin(tradition, also in his recent book on Modesty) showed how R. Falk in oz v’hadar levusha distorted halacha and in some cases simply made things up. I have yet to see anyone write R. Falk out of Orthodoxy, or claim that his approach is not legitimate. But as a counter example, R. Sperber is accused of being outside orthodoxy when he states his source-based opinion on women’s issues.

  135. Charlie: Kew Gardens Hills isn’t as “progressive” as Riverdale, to be sure, but I davened in perhaps the only shul in which women davened during the week. The most we would get would be one older woman on occasion to say Kaddish. I suppose as an experiment, Orthodox women could be challenged to produce daily minyanim at a fraction of the percent that men do, and *then* talk could commence on changes.

    Yerushalayim, by the way, has a number of “egalitarian” minyanim. (I’m not talking about non-Orthodox ones, although the same idea applies.) They can be very popular. On Shabbat. *None* function during the week.

    So while I’m not sure if you meant to exclude the “ten men/ten women” idea, I think it’s a similar non-starter.

  136. Noam: I never wrote him out of Orthodoxy nor questioned his credentials. In his writings about halakhah he was extremely controversial and, in my opinion, so unconvincing as to be unworthy of serious consideration.

    I don’t take R. Falk’s writings on tzenius seriously but his teshuvos are very well done.

  137. Nachum: what the gemara says there is somewhat ambiguous, and Rashi offers two explanations. One of which does entertain a resurrected messiah. I will quote in full (my translation): I will leave out the word “hu” meaning he, because where it fits in the translation is the amibguity defining Rashi’s two opinions.

    Gemara: “Rav said: if from among the living, then like Rabbenu haKodosh; if from among the dead then like Daniel Ish Chamudot.”

    Rashi: If the messiah is from among those who are now alive he is surely Rabbenu Hakkadosh who has suffered great illness and is completely righteous as is discussed in Baba Metzia, and if he was among those who already died, he is Daniel Ish Hamudot who was judged with suffering in the lion’s den and was completely righteous–and the [gemara’s use of the word] ‘like’ is imprecise. Another explanation: He is like Rabbeinu HaKaddosh that is to say, if you want a living example of what he is like that would be Rabbeinu Hakkadosh and if you want an example among the dead that would be Daniel.”

    I believe that Rashi cites two explanations because neither fits the text precisely. The first explanation ignores the word “like (k’gon)” and the second has the word “hu” placed awkwardly in the gemara’s sentence.

    But Rashi’s first explanation is what the Lubavichers say it is, and I don’t think you can thus say that the thought is total heresy. Nor does the Rambam require among his ikkarim any belief concerning the identity of the messiah beyond is being descended from David and Solomon (the latter excludes you know who, according to their scripture.) Believing that the late Lubavicher Rebbe was mashiach is out of the mainstream, foolish, and distracts from our required focus in this world. But speculation about the identity of mashiach, while discouraged, has been practiced at least since the time of the Tannaim.

    By the way the stitch of gemara before this makes very clear that the phenomenon of students identifying their rebbe as mashiach is much older than Lubavich.

  138. “In his writings about halakhah he was extremely controversial and, in my opinion, so unconvincing as to be unworthy of serious consideration.”

    Unfortunately, Gil, this is more negative about you than about RD Berkowitz.

  139. Charlie Hall: “This is because the Orthodox rabbinic leadership is stuck in the 19th century and views reform as the main threat against Orthodoxy.”

    I’m a big supporter of semichah for women, but I don’t think I agree with your point. The Reform movement started in 1811 and didn’t officially declare a woman to be a rabbi until 1972. There ARE legitimate halachic issues regarding what roles women (and male converts) can take in the community.

    I’m against semicha for women or any feminist driven changes in religious practice. But my wife cuts the chalah and is reading a chapter of the megilah, so I guess it works for some people.

    Anyways, my point was the differences in the level of reaction not the relative legitimacy of the positions being reacted to. For a long period the main threat to Orthodixy was deviant religious behaviors (reform, conservative, etc.). That is why relatively minor issues such as whether to place the bima in the middle or the front of the shul became major issues. This mindset persists and that is why the reaction to such things (such as increased women roles) is so harsh to this day. But the main threat to Orthodoxy is no longer reform, it is now apathy and secularism. How many people nowadays leave Orthodoxy to become Convervative or Reform vs. the amount of people who simply cease to bo observant?

  140. “But the main threat to Orthodoxy is no longer reform, it is now apathy and secularism. How many people nowadays leave Orthodoxy to become Convervative or Reform vs. the amount of people who simply cease to bo observant?”

    Orthodoxy accounts for between 5% and 10% of American Jewish adults (the latest study, http://tinyurl.com/38lfjto, seems to be at the low end).

    While many simply cease to be observant, there is a growing trend of committed Jews who silently attend non-Orthodox-affiliated halachic minyanim/shuls. Some still belong to an established MO shul, but that is no longer their primary community. In time, these minyanim/shuls will displace the dual-affiliation that currently exists as happened previously in American Orthodoxy. And, frankly, the more views like Gil’s prevail, the more of this type of silent defection among the elite of learned, but modern, halachic Jews will occur. See also:
    http://morethodoxy.org/2010/11/29/orthodoxy-needs-partnership-minyanim-r-yosef-kanefsky/

    But, there is also another issue brewing that strikes at the crux of this discussion. If it turns out that Chabad becomes more overtly mesichist in the coming years, then a significant amount of infrastructure Chabad provides (as discussed in this thread) could turn into a poisoned chalice for Orthodoxy. And a belief in the Second Coming of the Messiah will be much harder to resist than, say, egalitarianism.

    Despite all the words that have flowed here, no one has articulated a rationale that explains why Orthodoxy can turn a blind eye to a profoundly heretical theological issue, while simultaneously delegitimizing Orthodox Jews of an egalitarian bent.

    As Rabbi Sperber noted in the article accompanying the Torah in Motion debate: The issue is “not about numbers, but about sensitivity to a segment of our community,” he said, adding: “I don’t see myself as a feminist, but as a halachaist” who believes it is important “to permit that which is permitted.” (as per http://www.torahinmotion.org/changing_role_media.htm).

    The lose-lose scenario (normative Chabad becomes mesichist; the best-and-the brightest in LWMO defect) would be a disaster for American Modern Orthodoxy.

  141. re: women rabbis, orthodox communal institutions have in the past been able to relatively silently just not hire people from certain institutions, without proclamations about anything. it becomes known fairly quickly within the institutions in question where graduates are not welcome. All that can be accomplished without a very public war of words. The public war of words, furhter, struck me as mostly not shul rabbis or principles protecting their own institutions, but castigating other institutions. that’s where ignoring comes into play.
    one can ignore when the shul down the block starts after zman tfillah, or has someone teaching impressionable young girls that rabbi falk’s standard is, whether or not r. gil takes it “seriously,” in fact the minimum acceptable level if they do not want their improperly exposed body parts to enter a “special place in gehenom” (yes that is a quote from a real person). one can similarly ignore that the shul down the street hired an educated female in a pastoral position and calls her rabbi, just like people were apparently happy ignoring that shuls hired educated females for pastoral positions and called them things like “community educator.” If there is an orthodox vaad they might have to make a public decision not to include a woman, if she were inclined to apply. but even that could be done quietly, if they wanted.

  142. Joseph,

    While I appreciate your well-reasoned, well-argued answer (the first on point one I’ve had), I don’t appreciate the tone. While I may have overreacted a number of times to sniping at my position (since I am apparently a neanderthal chauvinist and what not…), I don’t see why reacting in kind makes it better.

    No-one would be happier than me if what you say is true, but one cannot dismiss actual social phenomena. That said, let me address two issues:

    1) “That men who are shomrei Torah and mitzvot come to davening not because it is a religious obligation but because it’s a men’s club?”

    This is an incorrect dichotomy. The truth is it’s both.

    Orrthodoxy in particular is a very SOCIAL religion, based as it is along lines of community and tzibbur. This is one of its major attractions. Indeed, public events are considered much more important and of value than private ones (where they stand halachically is immaterial to how they’re perceived by the general public).

    We are not a group of monastics or hermits. Damaging the social aspect of religious life can harm religious commitment even though that shouldn’t be the case. Like it or not, most people’s religious commitments are not solely based on lishma. We are not Leibowitzians (at least most of us).

    I will repeat – if I’m wrong, then that’s fine by me. I just think we need to be aware of the problem.

    2) “the studies that have shown this “men’s flight” have been in denominations whose adherents are not strongly committed to religious ritual obligation”

    A big chunk of MO Jews (also Charedim, though in a different way) are more “socially Orthodox” or “traditionally Orthodox” than fully aware Orthodox. I say this not God forbid as an insult or putdown, but just as a point of consideration if we are to compare Orthodox to Evangelicals.

    Nachum,

    You demonstrated to my mind why discussions of these matters need to focus on the general public, not the unique cases.

    Charlie,

    If you don’t care that only a small portion of men involve themselves in religious life, fine. I happen to think we’re to small a denomination to play that game. BTW, I happen to support greater role for women for precisely that reason.

  143. R’ Nachum,

    I apologize for my insufficiently respectful reply to you yesterday at 3:37 p.m. Namely, I should have noted my appreciation to you that you are entirely correct that RMF does not normally require at a purely secular convention, and it is only if the convention engages in actual prayer that a partition would be required. Thus, my original comment was misleading, and you were correct to prompt me to clarify my words. Thank you and yi’yasher kochakha for doing so.

    RMF’s position on this matter is most clearly enunciated in IM YD 2:109, where he states that there is no need for a partition between ladies and gentlemen when they meet in an executive corporate business hall, and that a partition is only needed when the members decide to pray minchah or ma’ariv.
    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14676&st=&pgnum=178
    Canada’s House of Commons is presumably the equivalent of an executive corporate business hall. [It is noteworthy, though, that RMF adds as an aside “af she’ein yadu’a hata’am shemekilin bemedinah zu befesheetut” – it is not known why in this country we are lenient to not require a partition even at a purely secular meeting. Thus, RMF would apparently prefer a partition at all meetings, even when there is no prayer. This ambiguity on RMF’s part can be traced to his earlier responsa regarding the synagogue partition. In the penultimate paragraph of IM OC 1:39, he states that any public place of gathering (even if entirely secular in nature) should have a partition. Yet, in the penultimate paragraph of IM OC 1:41, he permits a secular gathering without a partition.]

  144. R’ Mike S.,
    Thank you for nicely elucidating the gemara in Sanhedrin 98b.

  145. aiwac: I am not aware of anyone in this forum advocating that Orthodoxy embrace egalitarianism doctrinally across the board. The request is for tolerance for those Orthodox Jews for whom this is part of their religious life.

    How does tolearance for a self-selected minority — who are just getting on with it, in any case, create the risk that you articulate?

    And what societal benefit to the whole of the Modern Orthodox movement exists in shunning them (rather than the Eilu v’Eilu attitude that has always been used to bind socially disparate Orthodox communities)?

  146. aiwac: perhaps you answered this in the bit you added to Charlie:

    “I happen to think we’re to small a denomination to play that game. BTW, I happen to support greater role for women for precisely that reason.”

    But given the trajectory of the discussion, I’m confused about your position in regard to the 2 questions I posed.

  147. IH,

    Then I will try to make myself clearer: I feel that the question of egalitarianism, whether doctrinal or not, whether partial or not, is going to increasingly be discussed as a matter of policy for the broader MO public. As such, I believe it important to bring up the flip side of such policies, if and when they are adopted on a large scale.

    If this were simply a matter of a small minority of ‘self-selected’ minyanim and shuls, I would simply adopt the ‘live and let live’ approach you recommend – you do it your way, I do it mine. This I can live with. As you said, the issue arises only when we’re talking a doctrinal (or social shift). My point was not to snipe at LWMO communities, but rather to ask what happens if it penetrates deeper than that.

    Hope that clears it up.

    Shabbat Shalom

    aiwac

  148. Thanks, aiwac. Shabbat Shalom u’Mevorach.

  149. Further to aiwac’s point (BTW, is your name a reference to the spy plane?) feminism doesn’t accept a live and let live approach to equality, as “eilu v’eilu” might. Certain Western feminists, for example, aren’t satisfied with the progress they have made in NA and Europe. They want to it to extend it to their 3rd world sisters (unless you are a Muslim woman, of course – then its “hands off” and any efforts to spread it in Arab/Muslim lands is colonialism and imperialism). So too, the danger in accepting changes to women’s status in LWMO under the “big tent” is that those who have the more “liberated” status in Judaism will then want to spread the wealth to the Right side of the spectrum, and this evangelism would lead to great strife and strain the big tent concept.

    BTW, I just have to say that I find “eilu v’eilu” so overused today, in the Orthodox community (and heterodox to a certain extent) much like the term “tikkun olam”.

  150. “While I appreciate your well-reasoned, well-argued answer (the first on point one I’ve had), I don’t appreciate the tone.”

    aiwac: While there have been occasions when I have posted something in a tone that, upon reflection, could have, and probably should have, been softer, I reread this post and quite frankly do not understand your problem with its tone.

  151. “R. Ethan Tucker advocates counting women for a minyan.”

    What are his sources?

    I will repeat a story I have shared before: I was present at a minyan at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale a few years ago that had nine men and one woman. The woman was saying Kaddish. Rabbi Avi Weiss would not permit her to say Kaddish until a tenth man arrived. (Fortunately, one did.) One of the men pulled out a Rabbeinu Tam that implied that she might be able to count as the tenth for the minyan but Rabbi Weiss refused to hear of it.

    “I’m not sure if you meant to exclude the “ten men/ten women” idea, I think it’s a similar non-starter.”

    I don’t get this “ten men/ten women” idea. Suppose you have one of those ‘minyans’ and you have ten men and nine women, and someone is saying Kaddish. Do you really prevent that person from saying kaddish?

    “Certain Western feminists, for example, aren’t satisfied with the progress they have made in NA and Europe. They want to it to extend it to their 3rd world sisters (unless you are a Muslim woman, of course – then its “hands off” and any efforts to spread it in Arab/Muslim lands is colonialism and imperialism).”

    Maybe I’m an old-fashioned idealist, but I’d like to see those feminist advances spread past NA and Europe. Muslim women deserve better societal status no less than North American women. (Interestingly, four of the largest Muslim countries in the world — Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Turkey — have had female heads of goverment. As has Israel.)

    “However, they are unwilling to do the same with the far right, or the Mesichists. ”

    I think that the RCA has been rather upfront about what they think of the Meshichists. Rabbi Avi Weiss remains an RCA member in good standing. You can’t join the RCA if you are a Meshichist.

  152. “R. Ethan Tucker advocates counting women for a minyan.”

    What are his sources?

    https://www.torahmusings.com/2010/12/women-and-minyan/

  153. Gil: You still have not articulated a rationale that explains why Orthodoxy can turn a blind eye to a profoundly heretical theological issue (Chabad), while simultaneously delegitimizing Orthodox Jews of an egalitarian bent. The former is tacitly accepted; the latter actively rejected.

    And as Emma correctly observes, the pragmatic solution is to tolerate both, while expecting that neither will try to impose their views when visiting other kehilot that don’t buy into their way.

  154. No, I did. We have responsibility for our own organizations and institutions. Chabad messianists stay out of them so we don’t have to object to them other than once or twice for the record. If egalitarians are in our organizations and institutions we have a responsibility. If not, we can politely ignore them as long as they are not in our face, other than noting once or twice for the record our opposition.

  155. I do not recall reading that response before in this thread.

    Is Rabbi Sperber, an Orthodox Rabbi, in “our organizations and institutions”?

    Is Rabbi Tucker, an Orthodox Rabbi, in “our organizations and institutions”?

  156. Gil: I also have to point out that your earlier response in the thread — “There is no way to politely ignore egalitarianism. Once the genie is out of the bottle, it creates a wedge.” – is not consistent with your current statement – “we can politely ignore them as long as they are not in our face, other than noting once or twice for the record our opposition.”

    My view is that despite the Orthodox establishment’s attempts to delegitimize it, the issue is not going away. As aiwac stated yesterday “I feel that the question of egalitarianism, whether doctrinal or not, whether partial or not, is going to increasingly be discussed as a matter of policy for the broader MO public.”

    Halacha is inherently conservative and it will take more time to work through the revolutionary change in the societal role of women that has occurred in the past 100 years. There is a spectrum of halachic responses (some within mainstream Orthodoxy) that ranges from full egalitarianism (http://tinyurl.com/ykml9dj) to Partnership Minyanim (e.g. http://www.dnoam.org/About.php), Rabbi Avi Weiss and the Rabba controversy, women’s minyanim in Orthodox shuls, etc.

    As Rabbi Sperber noted in the article accompanying the Torah in Motion debate: The issue is “not about numbers, but about sensitivity to a segment of our community,” he said, adding: “I don’t see myself as a feminist, but as a halachaist” who believes it is important “to permit that which is permitted.” (as per http://www.torahinmotion.org/changing_role_media.htm).

    Statements like the one you made earlier in this thread are arrogant and disrespectful; and in my view, ultimately self-defeating.

    Shabbat Shalom

  157. I believe it is entirely consistent with my earlier statement. No one cared about R. Tucker until he spoke at YU. And no one cared about R. Sperber until mainstream O shuls started toying with the idea of calling women to the Torah.

    I agree that the issue of egalitarianism isn’t going to go away. But that doesn’t mean we have to say it’s OK. It means we have to reach reasoned conclusions based on all the evidence and stick to our principles, just like we did in past debates. Yes, there is a cultural and generational shift going on. I don’t mind being less popular with some loud people on the margins. I’m more concerned with what is right than what is popular. And I also don’t confuse the silent majority with the vocal minority.

  158. But I agree with you. Anyone who holds a view different from yours is arrogant, condescending and self-defeating. Would that the world be as principled and saintly as you.

  159. Please re-read my words. I was very specifically referring you your statement “There is no way to politely ignore egalitarianism. Once the genie is out of the bottle, it creates a wedge.” and I stand by my description of that statement.

    BTW, R. Tucker, as I understand it, was disinvited from speaking at YU. http://www.yucommentator.com/yeshiva-university-s-silencer-and-the-loaded-gun-attached-1.1834919

  160. I read your words and was reading further into them.

    R. Tucker eventually spoke off-campus.

  161. >I don’t get this “ten men/ten women” idea. Suppose you have one of those ‘minyans’ and you have ten men and nine women, and someone is saying Kaddish. Do you really prevent that person from saying kaddish?

    Putting aside the issue itself, one person’s obligation/ desire to say kaddish isn’t more important than tefillah be-tzibur itself. If you have 10 men and 9 women, do you really not say tefillah be-tzibur? I think the answer to this question tests how serious a suggestion and solution 10 and 10 is.

  162. “We have responsibility for our own organizations and institutions. Chabad messianists stay out of them so we don’t have to object to them other than once or twice for the record.”

    This is an empirical issue. I am not as involved in rabbinic politics as you to know whether chabad messianists really “stay out” more than would-be orthodox egalitarians. I do think the reality may be different outside of major jewish population centers, where chabad may be one of 2 or 3 (or perhaps the only) orthodox institution. do they really “stay out” then? I just don’t know.

    Also I am not sure that would-be-orthodox egalitarians are really so involved in “our institutions.” I mean, has ethan tucker or sara hurwitz applied for RCA membership, such that the RCA needs to set a policy about not accepting them? What institutions are at play here? As I said, i think most intitutional issues can be dealt with quietly by just not hiring people. Or is the fear that institutions that used to be aligned with “ours,” and their leaders, will go to the “other side?” that fear seems equally aplicable with chabad.

  163. Let me ask you this: How have the issues of Chabad messianism and egalitarianism been treated differently in the Jewish community?

  164. Empirically: almost all commenters on Hirurim would consider an MO Jew who davened in a Chabad shul MO; whereas, many would consider an MO Jew who davened in an egalitarian or partnership minyan as Conservative. Chabad is not stigmatized by establishment MO; egalitarianism, in any substantive form, is.

  165. i assume that was directed at me. are you asking about the wider jewish community or the orthodox community? if the latter, i would say MO rabbis are much less likely to mind if MO college students go to a chabad house that says yechi than if they go to an egal minyan at hillel. not that they think either is great, but at least one still “looks orthodox” except for that one line. chabad hechsherim are relied on by the vast majority of orthodox ppl in one form or another (knowingly or not). there isn’t really an egalitarian-halachic hechsher industry but i can’t imagine the OU knowingly relying on an israeli-rabbanut trained egalitarian the way it does on meshichists. neither would be allowed to teach their “deviant” views in schools, but chabadniks might very well be allowed to teach other things.

    part of this is because the egalitarians are, in fact, not part of a well-formed network designed to interact with, jews of all stripes, including the orthodox, whereas chabad are. which brings me back to my question: what are the threatened inroads of egalitarianism into orthodox institutions that can’t be ignored?

  166. I wouldn’t consider them Conservative. I consider them misguided.

  167. Gil,
    In what sense are egalitarians “in” our institutions whereas Meshichists are not?

  168. (granted, it is easier to go to a meshichist shul and just not say yechi than to go to an egal shul and just not have women in the minyan. but if the whole meshichist project is really heretical, the whole daavening should be “tainted” too, no?)

  169. IH and emma: From your responses, it seems that there is no concrete way in which the two have been treated differently.

    MDJ: If I was a school principal and had to make hiring decisions, or I was on an RCA committee and had to decide who do exclude from membership, or I was an OU or NCYI board member and had to decide what shuls had to be excluded,…

  170. emma: According to the poskim with whom I spoke, the Meshichist project is *not* heretical. See this post: https://www.torahmusings.com/2004/04/habad-messianism/

  171. “If I was a school principal and had to make hiring decisions, or I was on an RCA committee and had to decide who do exclude from membership, or I was an OU or NCYI board member and had to decide what shuls had to be excluded”

    My point all along has been that decisions not to hire certain “types,” or from certain institutions, are made quietly all the time. As to your second two, which “egalitarians” want to be in the RCA? And which “egalitarian” shuls want to be in the OU? (is HIR “egalitarian” now? it’s still an OU member, no?) If you are talking about egalitarians like ethan tucker they are most definitely not interested in the RCA. If you are talking about not-really-egalitarians-but-we-can-call-them-that-anyway like Avi Weiss, well, they are still in the RCA and OU. So what is the answer to MDJ?

  172. emma: It isn’t currently an issue which is why the big organizations aren’t making it into one and this is really only taking place on blogs. but when R. Tucker wanted to speak at YU (or was invited by students), it became a minor issue there. And when an OU shul held a woman-led Kabbalat Shabbat, the OU issued a statement on it. The RCA issued a one-time statement on women rabbis, which is less than it did on Chabad messianists.

    But, as IH wrote, this issue isn’t going to die down quickly and I believe all of the above organizations are going to have to confront it sooner or later.

  173. Neither your first response to me, nor your follow up to Emma, answered my question. You said that we cannot ignore egalitarians as we do meshicists, because the former are in our institutions. Please give some examples of places where egalitarians are in our institutions in ways that require public denouncement, rather than quite action/inaction, as Emma has proposed.

  174. MDJ: I did answer it in the 1:46pm comment. They are not CURRENTLY in our institutions except for a few cases I listed there. But, as IH keeps saying, this is a growing problem, as I explained there.

  175. IH wrote:

    “. There is a spectrum of … responses (some within mainstream Orthodoxy) that ranges from full egalitarianism (http://tinyurl.com/ykml9dj) to Partnership Minyanim (e.g. http://www.dnoam.org/About.php), Rabbi Avi Weiss and the Rabba controversy, women’s minyanim in Orthodox shuls, etc”

    Actually, all of the above are indicative that there are numerous ways to tamper with MinhageiBeis Haknesses and to generate numerous ways of reciting a Bracha Lvtalah.

  176. Larry Kaplan wrote:

    “Steve; Read what R. Shalom Carmy says about REB in his review in Tradition. He correctly notes that in the 60s and 70s many YU and RIETS students (including myself) took him very seriously indeed. You also ignore the impact of his book, God, Man and History, his biblical studies, etc”

    I don’t think that this contradicted my earlier post in any fashion.

  177. Gil,
    If they are not currently in our institutions, then, by your own criteria, we should ignore them. From your 10:10 comment: “If egalitarians are … not [in our organizations and institutions], we can politely ignore them as long as they are not in our face…”
    So your claim must be that they are in our face. How so? Does having one’s own minyan constitute being in someone else face? Does one rabbi’s giving one woman a title that echoes “Rabbi” constitute being in our face. Again, why can’t we, as Emma suggested, simply not daven at those shuls and not hire those women?
    for comparison’s sake, we ignore Chabad shuls, and simply do not hire them if we are not comfortable with them (though I am sure that there must be at least _one_ OU shul with a chabad rabbi).
    You still have not given even a vaguely plausible response to Emma’s suggestion.

  178. Ruvie wrote:

    “steve b. – please explain what you mean – on the transmission of tsbp – what exactly do you think it means – are there multiple views and what was given at sinai anyway. i think you are mixing different theories into a steve b. theory – and on what basis do you think its true?
    if its the purest transmission from rebe to talmid then go on and ex[plain innovations, new ideas that didn’t exist before”

    May I suggest, for a basic introduction, that you listen to RHS’s shiurim on the development of TSBP, especially a shiur that was given pre Shavuous at the YIFH, as well as go through the Kidmas HaEmek of the Netziv to HaEmek Shealah? Then see the words of the Netziv to the Parshas HaTeshuvah in HaEmek Davar and the footnote in the Harchev Davar as to why Talmud Torah BRabim is considered as one of the finest means of Teshuvah.

    New ideas are Chiddushim, Chumros and Kulos-TSBP is a dynamic process that was committed to writing in the cases of the Talmud and codes such as the Yad, Tur and SA solely because of the fear of the basics being lost.Machlokes is a creative dynamic engine in Halacha that leads one hopefully to a Nafkeh Minah LHalacha and arriving to Halacha Aliba DShmattesa. However, one needs a rebbe who knows the ins and outs and represents a guide to the Mesorah as understood by prior generations to get to this realization. RHS was adamant in expressing that Machlokes has nothing to do with forgetting Halachos, but rather was the means of discovering new Chiddushim, Chumros and Kulos.

    TSBP is not like the IRS code- a major issue, especially in areas of OC and YD, is whether a particular action which may have been Mutar or Assur years or decades ago, remains so, in the light of scientific and technological advancements, and whether a particular Chiddush can be seen as within the perameters of any area of Halacha that have been mapped out by Chazal and Rishonim, as opposed to rationalizing a deviation by external criteria. Your often voiced reference to a ShuT HaRosh and similarly expressed views in none less than Rambam would be an obvious example of a Halacha that is on the books, but which would not be considered as valid, binding or having any practical impact, even in the most Charedi quarters.

    TSBP is also not like a secular science, where yesterday’s editions are worthless except for historians. RHS maintained that although SSK is a wonderful sefer, the proper study of Shabbos begins with Talmud and Rishonim so that one sees how the fundamental concepts have their origin and are debated within the Rishonim.

    The notion that one fulfils a Mitzvah in the exact same manner as the prior generation, whether Lkula or Lchumra, is one of the largest obstacles, that we follow the Psak Halacha of the Chachamim of every generation. The validity of Minhagim and determining their bonafides and origins or whether the same is a Minhag Shtus or simply represents what Tosfos say is Osiyos Gehinom.

    As far as what was given at Sinai, it is critically important to understand what Moshe Rabbeinu was given and what Am Yisrael heard from HaShem, the lattter of which the classical Mfarshim all offer their views. Yet, it is assumed that the covenant between HaShem and Am Yisrael was reestablished on YK in the wake of the Chet HaEgel only by the TSBP, and its dissemination. Perhaps, the Kabalas HaTorah on Purim itself was patterned on the Kabalas HaTorah that forms a major part of the Teshuvah of YK, which RYBS pointed out that all of Halachos relating to the Yamim Tovim of Tishrei reflect-a committment to the Bris based on TSBP.

  179. It was asserted earlier in the thread — and not denied thus far –that the OU is providing its hashgacha on certain wines, on the basis of a mashgiach who is a known Chabad messichist who also has his stamp on the wine in question.

    If this is true, it sounds like a concrete evidence of acceptance of Chabad messianism in “our organizations and institutions”.

  180. MDJ: Are you asking about the Orthodox community’s response or my personal response on this blog? If it is the latter, then the answer is that I am responding to both issues similarly, although one can plausibly argue that I responded more to the Chabad messianist issue. This blog addresses and takes stands on a variety of intellectual and social issues. And on the Chabad issue, I actually published a whole (albeit short) book. I thought we were discussing the communal response.

  181. IH: Unproven claims in a blog’s comment section do not constitute proof of anything nor merit response. Additionally, I cannot speak about OU policies because I work there. All I can say is that I think you are barking up the wrong tree on this.

  182. Gil, it would be interesting to see your review Not in Heaven. I wonder if you object to his conclusions or his methodology.

    I think that you come off quite rude in your comments about him – he was a great talmid chachom and perhaps the last real representative of mainstream pre-war German orthodoxy.

  183. Lawrence Kaplan

    Steve: I did not say your post about REB was wrong. I said it was incomplete.

  184. “a chabad house that says yechi ”

    What Chabad Houses in the US say “Yechi”?

  185. steve b. – “TSBP is a vitally alive and dynamic system if one realizes that its purest transmission is via Rebbe to Talmid, and not via books.”
    how do you know this – purest transmission?

  186. steveb. – i think you still either do not understad my question on tsbp or insist on going on to other subjects that i did not discuss.

    what do you think was given at sinai? in the tsbp area? when you answer “As far as what was given at Sinai, it is critically important to understand what Moshe Rabbeinu was given and what Am Yisrael heard from HaShem, the lattter of which the classical Mfarshim all offer their views. ” and continue with chet haegel, yk, to purim – i wonder if you read and create your own questions that you would rather answer or stand up on a soapbox and shout about.

    i still think you keep on mixing concepts that appear contradictory – from different posts on different threads on hirhurim – yeridat hadorot, machloket for chidushim and not transmissions issues, etc.(its my impression although i do not have the time to review all your posts).

    that is simply not an answer. just say you don’t know. i didn’t ask you about chet haegel, yk and purim. you need to answer questions that are posed not what you want to say when you get on that soapbox.

    when you say tsbp – is dynamic – i think you are confusing that word with halacha. halacha is dynamic.

    “The rejection of a TSBP that was transmitted from HaShem to Moshe Rabbeinu and then to the Chachamim of every generation is a highly problematic notion.” the next sentence you say that moshe transmitted tools but here it sounds like a halacha. can you give an example of what you are referring to ? are we talking about halacha moshe m’sinai as recorded in the talmud? or is it some other notion.
    unfortunately, i am out of town and do not have my books to reference but i shall try to clarify these statements.

  187. IH on March 11, 2011 at 3:31 pm
    “It was asserted earlier in the thread — and not denied thus far –that the OU is providing its hashgacha on certain wines, on the basis of a mashgiach who is a known Chabad messichist who also has his stamp on the wine in question.”

    Several years ago, I asked this question to a very senior figure at the OU. He told me that the rabbi in question is actually much more than just a meshichist, but that he is very elderly and it has been many years since he was actively involved in the hashgacha. The hashgacha is run by his son-in-law, who is not a meshichist.
    I do not expect anyone to take my word for this, but Gil can easily verify it if he is so inclined.

  188. steve b – you said “Your often voiced reference to a ShuT HaRosh and similarly expressed views in none less than Rambam would be an obvious example of a Halacha that is on the books, but which would not be considered as valid, binding or having any practical impact, even in the most Charedi quarters.”

    my point was simple – points of view – pov – mater in halacha. the example i gave you was the rosh on allowing a woman to divorce a man that repels her – he denies her that right because he claims not one jewess would stay married to her husband because she would jump into a bed of another if allowed to divorce _ obviously her held women on that famous jewish pedestal.

    while the rambam view was to help the woman -to the point where he reinterprets giving a get of his own free will after the court beats him to a pulp – what man wouldn’t give his wife a get.
    yes we can look at pov in our time and see what works and what abhors us. i will point to the seredei aish’s view on the bat mitzvah celebration where he addresses the girl’s psychological makeup when her brother gets a celebration and she gets nothing. it seems from his teshuvah that pov was important in his deciding the issue.

  189. Hirhurim: According to the poskim with whom I spoke, the Meshichist project is *not* heretical. See this post: https://www.torahmusings.com/2004/04/habad-messianism/

    Obviously I cannot disagree with the poskims opinions. However I am not sure whether they fully appreciate the consequences of that opinion in smaller Jewish communities where Chabad is such a large influence. In making that ruling, they are effectively actively endorsing it.

  190. ON TORAH SHE B’AL PEH – TSBP -many times steve b. uses this term (as do others) and i think we need to define what does it entail what does it not before one can analyze when it was given (e.g. har sinai) and its importance in understanding of jewish thought and law.
    does it include anything that expands on the meaning of the written torah – all rabbinic writings? or is limitd to mishnah/talmud(tosefta and midershei halacha)in understanding the laws of the torah but not all midrashim and other writings? how about books that did not make it into the tanakh? like ben sira – an often quoted text referred to in the talmud? how about philosophy written by heonim and rishonim?

  191. the geonic view of controversy in the mishnah and talmud – the halachik process – here tsbp – was understood as the transmission from generation to genration by scholars – think of that mishnah in perkei avot – of an orally REVEALED body of halacha. moshe received both the ENTIRE written and oral law and it was complete and perfect (divine?). over time due to forgetfulness, harsh political times, and carelessness this vast body of knowledge began to erode. halachic reasoning – through argumentation and other tools – was needed and employed to regain that lost info. since both the written law and oral law were given by hashem – there was no different in authority between the two – both divine. oral law is not human reasoning or creativity – rather ground in divine revelation.
    downside of the theory is the explanation of all the controversies in the mishnah/talmud – that crisis has occurred in the manner of transmission and then who is to say that we have retained is authoritative to any degree. answer given by ibn daud (late geonic) – no controversy exist to any main body of halacha or commandmant only to its detail.

    this view also explains the thought why many say that the earlier the source – tanaim vs amoraim – the closer to divine revelation and the more authoritative and that is why amoraim can’t argue with tanaim and rishonim with amoraim etc. since all halacha erodes through time earlier stages of transmission are more authoritative (as well as the scholar). machloket and halachik reasoning is an attempt to restore the lost knowledge. also, one can connect the concept of yeridat hadorot – that we see mentioned in the talmud (lets not forget there also many times mentioned of the current generation is superior to previos as well) to this geonic viewpoint.
    next – the rambam who comes challenges this viewpoint that was the dominant geonic tradition.

  192. on the prior post – the geonic view of transmission of tsbp – see abaraham ibn daud’s introduction to sefer hakabalah and davi nieto’s mateh dan (ha-kuzari ha-sheni) – 17th century who adopts daud’s view – with some minor changes – and rejects r’ yosef karo’s argument that the authority of the misnahstems from the legally bindingagreement by the amoraim not to argue with the tanaim (kesef mishneh, hilchot mamrim 2:1) saying that the amoraim believed that tanim received the kabalah from an earlier generation and their was no controversy to what they said.

  193. Rambam – is the first to claim that chazal introduced new ideas and inovations in interpreting the torah along with a tradition from moshe. this would mean that the tsbp is a cumulative effect with each generation adding norms derived by their reasoning to the already revealed body of knowledge. machloket comes from newly derived halachot. see the intoduction to the mishneh torah and the commentary on the mishnah.
    rambam rejects the geonic viewpoint. he felt that a faulty tansmission would also cast doubt on the reliability of our mesorah. rambam protects the the purity of the torah by detaching it from revelation and based it on the the authority of the oral law.
    ramabam maintains that while no argument can be asked against the received material of halacha a later generation can in principle debate halachot newly derived from previous ones. when there is any debate then there is no received tradition – btw, the authority of mishnah/talmud is derived from the fact that it was accepted by am yisrael.implications of the rambam’s view is that prior generations are NOT superior by being closer to sinai – all generations theoretically can have an equal claim.therefore, amoraim can argue with tanaim and geionim with amoraim on newly derived halachot.its also implies that the rambam rejected the concept of yeridat hadorot.

    there is one other view of the transmission of the oral law: ramban (ran and ritba understanding of the ramban). their view is that tsbo is open ended where machloket creates norms not new ones like the rambam. also, an analysis of all three views can be found written by r’yair bakhrakh in his book – havot yair.

    i think that is enough( i apologize for the length of the posts but felt that after steve b. numerous posts that some info was needed). the reason for the post is to show different contradicting viewpoints on the transmission of tsbp (oral law) which steve b. insists on throwing different parts of different theories into one or many separate posts.

  194. Ruvie -Your posts work from a different definition of TSBP. TSBP in its most pristine form, is the oral transmission from rebbe to talmid of the means of oral interpretation of Torah Shebicsav. TSBP was reduced to a written form solely for purposes of convenience, but the means of transmission remains oral. It is wrong to assume that every sefer relating to Psak Halacha from the Rambam to the present was given to Moshe Rabbeinu and that Machlokes represents the discussion of what was forgotten. While your survey of the Gaonim and their view is interesting and suits your hashkafic POV, it was clearly not accepted by Rambam and other Rishonim.

  195. Ruvie commented:

    ” i didn’t ask you about chet haegel, yk and purim”

    How anyone can claim to purport to comprehend Kabalas HaTorah and the acceptance of TSBP without discussing the critical roles of Maaseh HaEgel, YK and Purim, boggles my mind.

  196. Yi’yasher kochakhem R’ Steve Brizel and R’ Ruvie for your illuminating discussion. See also the gemara in Berakhot 5a which states clearly that the mishnah and the gemara were given by HKB”H to Mosheh Rabbeinu at Har Sinai. See also my comments on August 30, 2010 (at 4:57, 5:01 and 5:25 p.m.), followed by R’ Ruvie’s response (at 9:47 p.m.) at
    https://www.torahmusings.com/2010/08/rav-lichtenstein-on-academic-trends/comment-page-3/#comments

  197. steve b. -“How anyone can claim to purport to comprehend Kabalas HaTorah and the acceptance of TSBP without discussing the critical roles of Maaseh HaEgel, YK and Purim, boggles my mind.”

    it seems that the geonim, rambam, ran, ritba, bachrakh, and even r’ moshe feinstein discussed this topic of authority and oral transmission -tsbp (and what was given at sinai) without mentioning it. question them.
    your post is appropriate for vertlecht for 3rd graders and under (not even seudart shelkeisheit)

    there is more to said on this topic but i believe that few are interested and have moved on to different discussions.

  198. r’ spira – the gemera that was quoted by the geonim and the rambam was bavli sanhedrin 88b where it discusses the the students of hillel and shammai studied insufficiently that disputes multiplied.
    ritba focused on the gemera of eilu v’eilu. the ran focuses on a gemera in megilah which states that the entire torah both written and oral was transmitted to moshe (similar to the reference you mentioned in berchot). accorfing to this view hashem showed every machloket to moshe but no resolutions. see derashot haran derah 7 and 5. r’ bakhrakh uses your gemera in berachot – he ask does that gemera mean ALL the opinions in mishnah and talmud and their counterparts was revealed?

  199. Lawrence Kaplan

    Rabbi S. Spira: See the Hiddushie Maharatz Hayyot on the Bavli Berakhot 5a. Also see the commentary of R. Avraham ben ha-Rambam on the Torah on the verse ve-etna lekha. Obviously, as Ruvie pointed out correctly, most rishonim did not take this gemara literally.

  200. Ruvie-From the tenor of your response, you obviously did not see or download the sources that I mentioned.You can use whatever epithets you choose, but the Talmud in Gittin assumes that the covenant between HaShem and Klal Yisrael is rooted in the TSBP. I think that your reading of the Ritva in Eruvin on the Sugya of Elu vElu is wrong as well as that of Drashos HaRan, who like Rambam in the Hakdamah to the Yad subscribes to the view that Lo Sasur applies to the rulings of the Chachaming in every generation. In response to your response to R S Spira-noone assumes that the texts with all of their opinions were revealed-just the means of interpretation. Your question is premised in overkill. . I would add that the CI discusses the issue of transmission of TSBP in a Maamar on Matan Torah that is located in one of the CI’s volumes on OC.

  201. Ruvie-WADR, one cannot dismiss the aftermath of the Chet HaEgel, which Ramban views as the basis for a “bris chadash”, YK , which is entirely rooted in TSBP and never existed prior to Chet HaEgel as a Yom Tov, and Purim , which Chazal view as rooted in a Kabalas HaTorah MeRatzon as events that are critical in understanding the willing acceptance of TSBP that are “appropriate for vertlecht for 3rd graders and under (not even seudart shelkeisheit”.

  202. R’ Steve Brizel,
    Thank you for your spirited defense of my comment. At the same time, I thank R’ Ruvie and Mori ViRebbi R. Kaplan for enlightening my eyes with their scholarly responses and the mar’eh mekomot.

    The Chazon Ish in question is available at
    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14336&st=&pgnum=419

  203. steve b. – sorry if me teasing went to far but i think we are talking about 2 different issues (purim where the jews accepted voluntarily vs matan torah where the mountain was above their heads – i view these as nice derashot but not the theory of transmission of oral law). one also should assume that there was always an oral transmission since the written torah always needed an explanation and a clarification of many contradictory and vague sentences. how else could the people follow hashem’s commandments?

  204. Ruvie wrote:

    “steve b. – sorry if me teasing went to far but i think we are talking about 2 different issues (purim where the jews accepted voluntarily vs matan torah where the mountain was above their heads – i view these as nice derashot but not the theory of transmission of oral law).”

    The Baalei Tosfos in Shabbos clearly state that there was a fundamental difference between the element of compulsion at Matan Torah and the acceptance of TSBP at Purim MeRatzon. The Beis HaLevi and RYBS both emphasize that YK also represented a Kabalas HaTorah rooted in the acceptance of TSBP that is represented by the fact that our observance of all of the Yamim Tovim in Tishrei as well as many other halachos follows TSBP, as opposed to Pshuto Shel Mikra.

    FWIW, RHS in Divrei HaRav quotes from RYBS a great drush based Pshat on that passage in Shabbos which states “Sham Tiheye Kvurashchem.” Why didn’t the Talmud say “Poh”” RYBS commented that any community, not just the Yotzei Mitztayim, whose lives were not rooted in Torah observance and study, would perish as a Jewish community.

  205. steve b. – i didn’t write the view of the ramban, ritva, and ran in detail just which gemeraot they used to explain their position (like i showed on the geonim and the rambam) because i didn’t think it was necessary or anybody care. but now i have to explain why your statement is totally incorrect – i am less interested in their gemera support (because anyone can learn them differently) than what they believed in and what authority it held in their view.
    actually its the ran and ritva’s understanding of the ramban’s view that we are dealing with.

    ramban – his rationale of obeying every legal ruling of a court -on the pasuk of la tassur – whether its left or right: ramban interprets this even if the court tells you your right is left and your left is right you must listen (as oppose to the yerushalmi’s interpretation). hashem gave the torah subject to their judgement. the court decides what is left or right and therefore there is none a priori. the court can never maje a mistake about halacha because hashem gave them the right to constitute the very meaning – halachically – of text. see ramban -hasayot le-sefer ha-mitzvot shel ha-rambam, hasagah le shoresh rishon.

  206. steve b – you are talking about acceptance – i am speaking about what was transmitted at sinai and how the rishonim and after understood it in their view of halacha.

  207. steve b – i assume that ALL halachot follow tsbp not just chagei “tishrei and as well as many other halachos”. are there any that dont?

  208. steve b. –
    ritva – chidushei ha-ritva, eruvin 13b -expresses a different view on machlokot (vs geonim and rambam). elu v’elu divrei alokim hayim – the french rabbis asked how is it that both positions-one prohibits and one permits – could be the words of hashem? they answered when moshe ascended to receive the torah hashem told him 49 ways to prohibit and 49 ways to permit each rule. moshe asked for an answer and hashem answered that the sages of israel in each generation wil deal with it and the ruling will be what they decide.
    implication of the above is that revelation was not completed when given to moshe but left open ended.

  209. steve b. – “noone assumes that the texts with all of their opinions were revealed-just the means of interpretation. Your question is premised in overkill.” au contrare mon frere.
    as stated and quoted before the geonim viewed that everything including every future machloket and all its detail was given to moshe and chazal attempted to retrieve it was the view prior to the rambam. also see the ran below.

    ran- derashot ha-ran derash 7 and 5(second version): the entire torah – written and oral – was given to moshe and he quotes a gemera in megilah ” r’ hiya bar abba in the name of r’ yohanan: the verse ‘on them was written according to all the words’ teaches that hashem showed moshe the details prescribed by the torah and by the sages, including the innovations they would later enact – and those concerning the megilah.” the ‘details’ provided by the rabbis are halachik disputes and conflicting views held by chazal ; all of them moshe learned by divine word with no resolution of every controversy in details. yet hashem gave him rules whose truth manifest – like favor the majority position – as the sages of that generation saw fit, for the decision had already been transmitted to them, as it is written ” and you shall come to the priests, the levites, and to the judge that shall be in those days” and ” you shall not deviate (lo tassur).

    ran argues that although from hashem’s view there is a right answer eventhough he revealed with opposing options. this can be seen through a bat kol or a navi’s intuition. but the sages must follow their understanding of it since the “torah is not in the heaven”. see the story of tanur shel achanai.

  210. the ran and the ritva differ on their understanding of the ramban. the ramban is the first halakhist to state a very bold and innovative idea: that the torah was given subject to chazal’s judgement.

    ritva grants greater power to the sages in each generation since the truth is decided by what they say and its open ended. the ran, however, have the sages with limited power but more radical view that the sages can go against hashem’s truth even when they know it for sure. but both agree with ramban’s approach and viewed machloket as rooted in the concept of revelation and give the sages power to constitute the halacha.

  211. steve b. – “I think that your reading of the Ritva in Eruvin on the Sugya of Elu vElu is wrong as well as that of Drashos HaRan, who like Rambam in the Hakdamah to the Yad subscribes to the view that Lo Sasur applies to the rulings of the Chachaming in every generation.”

    i hope the above posts answers your statements that i misread the sources. i would let others to chime in and decide. again, i was interested and spoke to the issue of transmission of tsbp, machlokot, and innovation and not acceptance of tsbp.
    i am not aware of the ci opinion of transmission – if you can give a brief synopsis i would be appreciative (i am out of town with no library). i have left out other opinions (like r’ moshe feinsrein and havot yair and sefer hachinuch) but the all fall into the three categories discuss earlier with some nuances: geonic/ibn daud’s that many halachot were forgotten and we need to retreive them; rambam – torah is evolving and each generation adds to tsbp and that is where machlokot come from; and the ramaban/ritva/ran – torah given subject to the sages and they decide what it is.

  212. Lawrence Kaplan

    ruvie: Your analysis is on the whole correct. One minor correction. For the Rambam laws derived through the middot and subject mahloket are not viewed as being TSBP in the strict sense of the term. See the beginning of the Intro to the MT and many other places in the rambam.

  213. prof. kaplan – how would categorize it? i just assume that laws derived via a middah from the middot constituted it as part of tsbp – an that is part of the halachik process. thanks again for your comment.
    how then would the rambam define tsbp and would it be different than the other models i discussed above?

  214. I think it’s highly inaccurate that the majority of Jewish leaders are indifferent to the messianic submovement within Chabad, as the professor wrote, and most Jews know that there’s something wrong with it. The policy the Rabbi’s seem to have adopted, and it is a wise one, is that lack of attention breeds just that, lack of attention. Meshichists can do whatever they want in their own shuls. Either way, even if there would be a better response, the authority currently doesn’t exist to put that movement in cherem. What do you think?

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