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Why We’re Forfeiting Our World Cup Playoff Game
On Orthodox Insularity
Dear Anglicans: Please Check Your Own Shtreimels First
Gratitude Is Good For The Soul
It’s Rabbi Versus Rabbi in $17 Billion Dot-Kosher Battle
Walking Up 45 Flights on Shabbat: Being an Orthodox Jew in Hong Kong
Why Belong to a Shul?
American Jewry at the Crossroads: Isaac Mayer Wise, Solomon Schechter, and now…Avi Weiss and Sara Hurwitz
Treasures of Ashkenaz: Gedolim Welcome Songs
How to approach mental illness
Is Family Decline Behind Religious Decline?
From Intermarried Couple to Observant Jewish Family
500-year-old Jewish skeleton found in Brazil
SALT Friday

R Sacks: If I Ruled the World
R Aviner: Take Away from Tisha Be-Av: There is No “Us” and “Them”
Once again, the Catholic Church Defends the Religious Freedom of Jews –Why Don’t Jews Defend Catholic Religious Freedom?
Mashiach Did Not Arrive — Again
European Jewish leaders hold emergency meeting on Polish ‘shechita’ ban
US State Dept. weighs in on ritual slaughter debate
Would-be chief rabbis line up
R Woolf: What I Would Have Told the New York Times…
From Openness to Heresy
Haredim get free bus ride after Shabbat
Day school tuition hard on your budget? Start couponing
Mothers of Down Syndrome Babies Have Options in Ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem
Landlord’s ‘No Mezuzah’ Rule Sparks Lawsuit
SALT Thursday

Ban on kosher slaughter stirs unease among Polish Jews
Polish PM won’t lift kosher slaughter ban
Halachic Template For Women’s Ordination Isn’t New
On the Claim that Separation Strengthens Religion
Laying the groundwork for a Third Temple in Jerusalem
Pope John Paul II’s Divided Loyalties to Jews
With few Jews left to save, HIAS finds relevance in non-Jewish refugees
Lamm A Great Jewish Leader
Meet the Extreme Kosher Couponers
Unity, Rav Kook Style
A Tisha B’Av Message, Penned in Pain and in Hope
Joint Tisha B’Av Statement From the OU and RCA
SALT Wednesday

In a first, a female spiritual adviser joins an Orthodox synagogue in DC
First Generation of Transgender Rabbis Claims Place at Bimah
An Exclusive Interview With Lipa Schmeltzer
Poland rejects shechitah slaughter
Poland’s chief rabbi threatens to resign over kosher slaughter ban
Halacha Digests and Snippets Rejected
In Barcelona, echoes of long-lost Jews
An Army Chaplain Learns About Jewish Unity, Spending Tisha B’Av on a Base in Kuwait
The last of the Aramaic speakers
Story of Saskatchewan’s Jewish farmers goes to Ottawa museum
In Response to the Proposal Encouraging Our Young Men to Marry Very Young
RCA issues guidelines on sex abuse
Art Exhibit in Brooklyn Examines Hasidic Dress and Culture
Women of the Wall: More Harm Than Good?
Orthodox concern over Welsh organ donor law
A Tisha B’Av Appeal to the Jewish ‘Bottom Line’
Sukkah City: Revisiting the Crazy, High-Concept, Temporary Jewish Huts of NYC
SALT Monday

Prior news & links posts
Rules: link
Hat Tips
Note: Some links were found through other websites/people, some of which are mentioned below:
First Thoughts
Yitzchok Levine
Yair Rosenberg

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 of New Jersey, 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 and as Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He also serves on the Editorial Board of Jewish Action magazine and 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.

267 comments

  1. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/15/nyregion/courting-group-of-voters-with-a-strict-moral-code-weiner-faces-a-challenge.html?ref=nyregion&_r=0

    Fascinating to read how forgiving a community can be.

    She-nir’eh et nehamat Yerushalayim u-binyanah bi-mherah ve-yamenu,

  2. From the article on Aramaic:

    “According to Professor Otto Jastrow, professor of Arabic in the department of Middle East and Asian studies at the Estonian Institute of Humanities of the Tallinn University”

    Oh, wow. I wonder if there’s a relation.

  3. http://matzav.com/rav-edelstein-attackers-of-chareidi-soldier-are-thugs-and-fools-calls-on-eidah-hachareidus-to-condemn-act

    The silence from the leadership is deafening imho, especially on erev tish b’av.

    She-nir’eh et nehamat Yerushalayim u-binyanah bi-mherah ve-yamenu,

  4. Hoffa Fingerbergstein

    http://matzav.com/rav-edelstein-attackers-of-chareidi-soldier-are-thugs-and-fools-calls-on-eidah-hachareidus-to-condemn-act

    HaRav Edelstein Shlit”a of Ponovezh condemns attack on chareidi soldiers, calls the attackers thugs and fools, and doesn’t understand why the Edah has not done the same.

  5. Hoffa Fingerbergstein

    Woops – sorry Reb Joel. I didn’t see you posted this.

    However, when you say leadership here you mean from the Edah, I hope.

  6. If, as is suggested in the link, R’ Chaim Kanyevski shlit”a doesn’t like published halachic snippets, does that mean he doesn’t like that people publish collections of his own teshuvot, which themselves are very short snippets –sometimes just one word?

  7. I wonder if this article strikes a chord more in the dl community in israel than the mo community here. but more and more articles like this are appearing.

    http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/redefining-reform/

  8. “caused great damage to the world of Torah.”

    Oh, *that’s* the main problem with attacking soldiers?

    “What benefit do they believe will emerge from their actions?”

    So if there *was* a benefit…?

    No, I’m still not happy. Noah Roth- who I remember from NCSY- is right. If anything, he doesn’t stress that it’s a chiyuv to serve in the military. Once again quoting R’ Rakeffet, that’s one thing that makes them Reform Jews.

  9. Noah Roth is wrong because we have ikkarei emunah. Only those who lack clear boundaries can ask such questions.

  10. Gil — Noah Roth is simply applying the rules of that old boundaries game to the new situation. Reductio ad absurdum.

  11. Agreed. He just doesn’t seem to understand the boundaries.

  12. So, what is your rightmost boundary, Gil, if you have one?

  13. The 13 ikkarei emunah.

  14. I’ve always wondered why Rambam’s MT is not the preferred halachic code, for those who what made a literal reading of his 13 ikkarei emunah the litmus test of Orthodoxy?

  15. You mean like hilkhos teshuvah 3:8?

  16. Yeah, I know you accept the MT’s aggada/mussar, but what about the halacha?

  17. You didn’t look up the halacha.

  18. >The 13 ikkarei emunah.

    So everyone who believes in sefiros, gilgulim, praying to angels and at graves is out?

  19. These issues have to be brought to poskim to determine. I did that with Chabad Messianism and was told that it is within the 13 ikkarei emunah. I haven’t asked but I recall discussion of how sefiros are also within. Gilgulim are certainly within. Praying at graves is also in (the Abarbanel discusses it in his book on 13 ikkarim). Praying to angels is debatable but the Minchas Elazar makes strong points in its defense.

  20. Gil,

    Here’s something from this week’s haftorah that predates the 13 Ikarrim and tells us what Hashem wants from us. לָמָּה-לִּי רֹב-זִבְחֵיכֶם יֹאמַר יְהוָה, שָׂבַעְתִּי עֹלוֹת אֵילִים וְחֵלֶב מְרִיאִים; וְדַם פָּרִים וּכְבָשִׂים וְעַתּוּדִים, לֹא חָפָצְתִּי. יב כִּי תָבֹאוּ, לֵרָאוֹת פָּנָי–מִי-בִקֵּשׁ זֹאת מִיֶּדְכֶם, רְמֹס חֲצֵרָי. יג לֹא תוֹסִיפוּ, הָבִיא מִנְחַת-שָׁוְא–קְטֹרֶת תּוֹעֵבָה הִיא, לִי; חֹדֶשׁ וְשַׁבָּת קְרֹא מִקְרָא, לֹא-אוּכַל אָוֶן וַעֲצָרָה. יד חָדְשֵׁיכֶם וּמוֹעֲדֵיכֶם שָׂנְאָה נַפְשִׁי, הָיוּ עָלַי לָטֹרַח; נִלְאֵיתִי, נְשֹׂא. טו וּבְפָרִשְׂכֶם כַּפֵּיכֶם, אַעְלִים עֵינַי מִכֶּם–גַּם כִּי-תַרְבּוּ תְפִלָּה, אֵינֶנִּי שֹׁמֵעַ: יְדֵיכֶם, דָּמִים מָלֵאוּ.

    I think that Noah Roth’s point stands.

  21. You didn’t look up the halacha.

    I did (http://www.mechon-mamre.org/i/1503.htm). Calling that “halacha” is arguable. My question stands, why do you not use the Mishneh Torah as the defining halachic code, given that you have elevated the 13 Ikkarim to the status of defining boundaries?

  22. Because subsequent authorities accepted (more or less) the 13 ikkarim. Subsequent authorities did not accept the Mishneh Torah.

    No one claims that the Rambam is the final word on anything.

  23. So it’s not really the ikkarim but rather the poskim which you claim get to decide this. The ikkarim as a set of theological positions that the rambam formulated do not allow most of my list and much more. The fact that achronim can darshen the words of the rambam to allow ideas that would have been anathema to the rambam does not change the ikkarim as a historical reality.

  24. (more or less) is the key. The literalist reading of the 7th and 8th Ikkarim as a (failed) bulwark against modern Bible scholarship is a thoroughly modern affair. Thus using that to define boundaries is dubious.

  25. Chardal: The general set of agreed principles. They might not be to your liking but you’ll have to deal with that in your own way.

    IH: Whatever

  26. So it’s not really the ikkarim but rather the poskim which you claim get to decide this. The ikkarim as a set of theological positions that the rambam formulated do not allow most of my list and much more. The fact that achronim can darshen the words of the rambam to allow ideas that would have been anathema to the rambam does not change the ikkarim as a historical reality…

  27. That is just shifting the goalposts

  28. I think one of the fundamental dividing issues between right and left is over how to decide Halacha. To over generalize, the left prefers Gemara, rishonim, and scientific facts, while the right prefers a list of contemporary poskim and acharonim who hold a certain way. This is manifested in women’s issues(read the sources provided by each side for the halachic arguments), the size of an olive, zecher/zaicher, and most issues at the nexus of science and Halacha including definitions of death. The right argues that poskim create a halachic reality that trumps actual reality, and the left prefers to utilize the concept of halachic reality(as it conflicts with observed reality) as minimally as necessary. The view of the right in fact is not consistent with placing value on madda, since ultimately the facts don’t count, only if you can convince enough of those whose opinions are considered. The opinions, even those based mistakes, triumph over facts.

  29. Speaking of Rambam’s theology — and apropos of Gil’s parallel post Til Death Do Us Part — I am reminded of Prof. Menachem Kellner’s quip:

    “Maimonides did not expect to meet many of his rabbinic contemporaries in the world to come.” (Must a Jew Believe Anything? 1st ed. p. 77)

  30. IH: So, what is your rightmost boundary, Gil, if you have one?

    Gil:The 13 ikkarei emunah.

    Me: A shame this is not the standard you apply to your leftmost boundary as well.

  31. R’NS,
    The question in my mind is which came first, the desired result or the prediliction for a particular approach (and I mean both sides).

    She-nir’eh et nehamat Yerushalayim u-binyanah bi-mherah ve-yamenu,

  32. E’ Joel — You repeat this often. Why is this question so important to you? Do you really think it possible (or even desirable) to approach such matters tabula rasa? Isn’t the whole point of “mesorah” — in its non-political meaning — “buying into a desired result or the predilection for a particular approach”?

  33. (cont.) This is also at the heart of why I find the MO Brisker idolization of Rambam to be so weird — if there is anyone who epitomizes an approach to halacha based on “buying into a desired result or the predilection for a particular approach” — it is Rambam.

  34. R’IH,
    I think it possible (and I’ve gotten flamed for this before) to have a desire to seek some ultimate truth and be self aware to the extent one can be of their own biases. Thus I would expect your MO Brisker who spends years using that methodology (now I’m really outing myself) to become aware of examples where it seems to produce results that don’t seem to be amita shel Torah. Where one goes from there is an interesting question (perhaps much like the one R’ Chaim asked himself before his derech became clear). I would expect a thinking RW and LW to look at some of their results and give it some thought as well.

    At the root I suppose is that my prediliction is the process is more importatnt than the result.

    She-nir’eh et nehamat Yerushalayim u-binyanah bi-mherah ve-yamenu,

  35. “The question in my mind is which came first, the desired result or the prediliction for a particular approach (and I mean both sides).”

    Interestingly, Joel’s comment is exactly what was running through my mind when I read this earlier comment by Gil:
    “These issues have to be brought to poskim to determine. I did that with Chabad Messianism and was told that it is within the 13 ikkarei emunah. I haven’t asked but I recall discussion of how sefiros are also within. Gilgulim are certainly within. Praying at graves is also in (the Abarbanel discusses it in his book on 13 ikkarim). Praying to angels is debatable but the Minchas Elazar makes strong points in its defense.”

  36. Waaaaaiiiit a second. The 13 Ikkarim are all there is to defining Orthodoxy? Last I checked, Orthodoxy also had that little thing called “613 mitzvot” as a requirement as well. I can believe in all 13 Ikkarim from here to San Francisco (to paraphrase Shlomo Carlebach), and if I eat pork and drive on Shabbat, I’m still not Orthodox.

    Noah Roth didn’t mention a word about Ikkarim. He (and others) are talking about mitzvot, plain and simple. And the sad fact is that just like Reform Jews can eat bacon and Conservative Jews can drive on Shabbat, there are certain halachot that charedim choose not to observe. (As pointed out above, there are certain Ikkarim they don’t observe either, but we don’t even have to go there.)

  37. Nachum: Yes. People do aveiros. That doesn’t put them outside of the community. If it did, there would be no community. Or to put it in halakhic terms, a mumar for one thing is not a mumar for the entire Torah.

  38. How convenient. Disagreements to the right are excused (even when clearly not le’shem shamayim); whereas, disagreements to the left (even when clearly le’shem shamayim) are deemed outside the boundaries.

    Thus, Gil’s perverse conclusion that, e.g., R. Sperber is not Orthodox, whereas Chabad messichistim are, even if they have foolish beliefs. Fortunately, more and more people are wising up to this absurdity.

  39. Nobody is excusing anything. One can condemn without dismissing as heresy.

    HAGTBG raised a more serious question. How can we dismiss as non-Orthodox the current deviations from traditional practice when they do not violate the 13 ikkarim? For discussion after Tisha B’Av.

  40. I would be more interested in a serious response to Dr. Stadlan’s astute observation at 1:45 pm.

  41. IH-
    “How convenient. Disagreements to the right are excused (even when clearly not le’shem shamayim); whereas, disagreements to the left (even when clearly le’shem shamayim) are deemed outside the boundaries.”

    Orthodox is not the same as Frum or good person or even non-apikoros. (A mevazeh Talmid Chacham can be unquestionably O and still an apikores.) And Orthodox have perverts and criminals too- that’s a befeirishe exoteric Rambam at the end of Hilchos Issurei Bi’ah. 😉 I don’t deny that there are Charedi jerks (or worse!) and Conservative people (or Reform or Reconstructionist or atheists) that are nice. I just think it’s irrelevant to this discussion

    AGAIN, here’s wikipedia on Orthodox

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthodox_Judaism

    And MO
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Orthodox_Judaism#Comparison_with_other_movements

    (I linked to a specific part)

  42. Shaul — As with Gil, you ignore the 2nd paragraph:

    Thus, Gil’s perverse conclusion that, e.g., R. Sperber is not Orthodox, whereas Chabad messichistim are, even if they have foolish beliefs. Fortunately, more and more people are wising up to this absurdity.

    A new video of R. Sperber speaking about קריאת נשים בתורה ועליית נשים לתורה (in Hebrew) is available at http://youtu.be/8tu-3vgx-d4

  43. Shaul — What’s your view of noam stadlan on July 15, 2013 at 1:45 pm?

  44. IH-

    1)I’m not ignoring anything. R Gil is saying that Meshichists fit the the defintion of O whereas R Sperber does not.

    2) “Thus, Gil’s perverse conclusion…”

    Is this the same IH as…

    https://www.torahmusings.com/2012/06/news-links-99/comment-page-5/#comments

    “IH on June 8, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    I hate to break it to you, but Orthodoxy is not an exclusive club people are desperate to get into ;-)” ?

    So, what exactly is perverse about it- even on your own terms? If C and UOTJ are so legitimate, why are you so adamant that R Sperber (or Hartman or Steven Greenberg or anyone else for that matter) are in fact Orthodox?! esmahah.

    I pointed this out to you a year ago on the thread linked, and as AFAIK you have yet to present ANY response, let alone a coherent one.

    Tzom Kal…

  45. IH- I just saw your latest comment.
    Shaul — What’s your view of noam stadlan on July 15, 2013 at 1:45 pm?

    Short on time. This will have to do for now. In very brief, I disagree:

    http://seforim.blogspot.com/2013/05/partnership-minyanim-and-more.html

    [8] David Berger has recently alluded to Partnership Minyanim in his “Texts, Values, and Historical Change: Reflections on the Dynamics of Jewish Law,” in Michael J. Harris, et al., eds., Radical Responsibility: Celebrating the Thought of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (Jerusalem, 2012). In referring to Haym Soloveitchik’s thesis in “Rupture and Reconstruction,” Berger writes (p. 204): “[S]ome of those who lionize the mimetic society as they savour the anti-haredi uses of Soloveitchik’s analysis are simultaneously impelled by feminist convictions to change generations of synagogue practice on the basis of textual analysis far more tenuous than the considerations that lead the traditionalist Orthodox to their usually more stringent deviations from the practices of the past. Affirmation or rejection of a mimetic ideal can depend very much on whose ox is being gored.”

    I DON’T think “The view of the right in fact is not consistent with placing value on madda, since ‘ultimately the facts don’t count,”. Also, ‘Madda’ is probably a loaded term in this context.

    You may also want to read R Sperber’s chapter on Minhagim based on mistake in volume one of ‘Minhagei Yisrael’.

  46. IH on July 15, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    “Shaul — What’s your view of noam stadlan on July 15, 2013 at 1:45 pm?”

    Posted a reply but seems to have disappeared. Stop. No time to re-type now. Stop. Hopefully Wednesday. Stop.

    http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-News/2013/0715/India-bids-farewell-to-state-run-telegram-service-after-163-years.-Stop.-video

  47. R. Joel, I would like to think that serious Jews accept the result of their halachic process, even if it goes against what they feel is ‘right’. Do people pick an approach based on expected results? I don’t think so, but tzarich iyyun. Excellent question.
    Tzom kal.

  48. “Yes. People do aveiros. That doesn’t put them outside of the community.”

    I would think it does if the violation is blatant, rationalized, and/or formalized by the community, as many of these are. A mechalel shabbat b’farhesia is outside the community. Or to put it another way: It is theoretically possible for a Conservative Jew to believe in all 13 and still drive on Shabbat. Nu?

  49. Here’s a quote from R’ Shnayer Leiman’s website:

    Edwin Markham:

    He drew a circle that shut me out –
    Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
    But Love and I had the wit to win:
    We drew a circle that took him in.

  50. It is theoretically possible for a Conservative Jew to believe in all 13 and still drive on Shabbat. Nu?

    There are many many traditional Israelis who believe in all the ikkarim bPashtut and yet drive on Shabbat, violate the laws of nida, smoke on Shabbat, etc. and don’t consider themselves orthodox.

  51. Shabbos is different, according to the Gemara.

  52. One bright spot on this depressing Tisha B’Av: http://www.news1.co.il/Archive/001-D-333211-00.html

    “בתשעה באב אמור להגיע המשיח. הוא עוד לא בא אך זו בהחלט בשורה”.

  53. Shabbos is different, according to the Gemara.

    The Gemara talks about orthodoxy???

    So we have now gone from the ikkarim to poskim to “agreed upon standards” all of which is modified by the Gemara. Why don’t you just admit that this is all just post hoc justification for basic sociological devisions that are arising and that there is no formula. The only criteria that matters to the right on this matter is the potter Stewart criteria.

  54. The only thing I will admit is that you don’t seem interested in having a reasonable discussion.

  55. I (obviously) don’t think I am being unreasonable at all.

    You first advanced the ikkarim as the definition of the bounds of orthodoxy. To which I reasonable pointed out that much of contemporary orthodoxy would be considered heretical by the Rambam who formulated those ikkarim. You then said that poskim are to decide this. But a review of the psakim you mentioned shows an ahistorical understanding of the ikkarim and allows things that are far beyond that which would be acceptable to the Rambam who formulated said ikkarim. Which would of course mean that the bounds of orthodoxy are to be decided by these poskim and not by the ikkarim themselves. You then claimed that these poskim use certain unspecified agreed upon standards. That is indeed hard to argue about and is sort of nebulous and it was pointed out to you that there are people who fully accept that ikkarim who in no way can be considered orthodox. You zoned in on one subgroup of the example – those who violate shabbat and claimed that shabbat is different (which of course does not really answer the question – someone could believe in the ikkarim in a straightforward way, keep shabbat, but still violate kashrus, nidda, yomtov, etc – and this person would not be reasonably described as orthodox). To all this I responded with a short post showing how the line of reasoning you are employing lacks any structure and suggesting that the entire descusion was revolving around painting the target around the arrow – something that I believe is supported by this thread.

    Now, I am more than willing to have a serious discussion about the bounds of orthodoxy – but that would be hard to do since I think that it is a descriptive term that mainly has sociological significance and from what I gather, you seem to advocate its use as a proscriptive term that can be formulated from gemara and poskim. That is a hard chasm to bridge.

    I will add, that it seems like the purpose of the proscriptive boundaries you are articulating is to simultaneously include your right while excluding your left. That is a tall order for the same level of rigour that was used to kvetch prayer to angels and at graves as being permissible by the Rambam’s ikkarim can very easily be used to kvetch Kugel’s understanding of revelation.

  56. Dr, Stadlan’s comment of 1:45pm yesterday is a good start to reasonable discussion. I look forward to your response.

  57. So you honestly believe that I meant that a gentile who believes in the 13 Ikkarim is an Orthodox Jew?

  58. noam s. – “fundamental dividing issues between right and left is over how to decide Halacha. ”
    “The right argues that poskim create a halachic reality that trumps actual reality, and the left prefers to utilize the concept of halachic reality(as it conflicts with observed reality) as minimally as necessary.”

    I question if anyone believes poskim create halakhic reality (eventhough i agree with your sentiment). is it halakhic formalism vs halakhic realism?

    is halacha something discovered or found by plumbing the sources or is it shaped and molded by the posek? there is a tendency to look at halacha as legal formalism – halachik decisions are determined by halacha – preexisiting rules to be found in texts (e.g. talmud bavli) by logical inference. In addition, the posek is determining Hashem’s will which creates a type of divineness and authority to the decision (see articles written by R’ Gideon Rothstein)- its hashem’s will as oppose to halakha being a product of human activity. This approach of halakhic formalism – shared by many – creates a disposition to conservatism, obedience. compliance and conformity. the more to right the more extreme type of formalism where the needs of the people and social reality (plus science) has little role to play.

    is there room for halakhic realism? where social, economic, political and other interests influence and shape halakha? can solutions be offered to help the masses? or is the CI dictum shvere tizyain ain yid the only thing that counts?

    is there times when desired results (positive or negative)- a priori- in the mind of the posek? there seems to be a few cases in the talmud. to reb joel’s point.
    this topic deserves its own posts with different authors and viewpoints.

  59. So you honestly believe that I meant that a gentile who believes in the 13 Ikkarim is an Orthodox Jew?

    I thought we were talking about Jews.

  60. I’m not sure which ‘left’ Dr. Stadlan is referring to, but, outside of a few ‘hot button’ issues, I’m not sure his demarcation holds water for anyone. Do the ‘left’ have a different method of psak when it comes to, say, hilchos tefillin? Do they refuse to adopt leniences first propounded by Acharonim that go against what a survey of the Rishonim would seem to indicate (yashan, for example)? Are they universally machmir about killing lice on shabbos? Do they refrain from eating anisakis worms in fish? Do they demand DNA tests when adjudicating mamzerus questions?

  61. Sorry, chadash/yashan is not a perfect example (some Rishonim were lenient), although a majority would certainly forbid, but you get the idea.

  62. J. — I’m not sure I follow. Your examples are of decisions, rather than the process. My reading of Dr. Stadlan’s observation was that it was about the process of deciding based on the textual evidence available and not just limited to a particular canon (that, to R’ Joel’s point, may itself be biased to a desired result or the predilection for a particular approach).

  63. The decisions result from the process. If it is true that “the left prefers Gemara, rishonim, and scientific facts”, then that approach should probably lead to stringency in areas where very few people who categorise themselves as belonging to the ‘left’ (to my knowledge) are stringent. If we’re trying to minimize the dissonance between halachic practice and scientific facts, then, besides for ‘hot-button’ issues such as brain death, we should be adopting the stringent position on anisakis and killing lice on shabbos, and we should make a bracha acharona every time we eat a small bite of food. That would be a consistent position, but I’m wondering if there are any who adopt it in practice.

  64. J. — We’re talking past each other — and neither one of us may be reading Dr. Stadlan correctly, but again from my perspective, the difference is in the openness to the variety of textual evidence available when confronted by a halachic challenge.

    Since you mention Hilchot T’fillin… I remember that around the time my age cohort became B’nei Mitzva in our MO Yeshiva Day School in the early 1970s, some of the girls asked whether women were allowed to wear T’fillin. This was well before such things became ‘hot button’ issues and the school’s teachers uniformly took the position that in theory it was allowed, if a woman took on the obligation to put them on each day just as a man.

    In retrospect, this was not a random answer designed to deflect a challenging question, but an answer steeped in knowledge of textual evidence more varied than, for example, defaulting to a particular canon (e.g. the Mishna Brurah which was the default guide to acceptable practice in other schools at the time).

  65. J. – i would think that Noam S. is referring to those on the right that will only look at gemeras and rishonim through the eyes of the achronim (and how they paskened) since they have may think that can’t michadesh on their own from the sources (even though facts on the ground may have changed).
    whereas the left may be willing to reinterpret or michadesh from the sources prior to the rishonim or rely on a daat yachid.

  66. meant:sources prior the achronim

  67. I appreciate the discussion. I am sorry that I am currently not able to elaborate more(b’n later). In brief, I was looking at the hot button issues and generalizing from that. I am not claiming that one has to ignore acharonim, just that the left hold that they are not the last word simply because they are the most recent word. One additional related consideration is looking at psak in context.
    There appears to be a left right consensus vis a vis most of Halacha.
    Regarding worms in fish- saying they are kosher based on mistaken science should not be acceptable to the left(as I recall R Slifkin posted on why it still is ok but I do not recall the details)

  68. I think one of the fundamental dividing issues between right and left is over how to decide Halacha. To over generalize, the left prefers Gemara, rishonim, and scientific facts, while the right prefers a list of contemporary poskim and acharonim who hold a certain way.

    I think there are several distinctions to be made here. There is using vs ignoring science (though the left also does plenty of ignoring, for example treifot and DNA testing; and the right often uses science lechumra). There is paskening straight out of the gemara, vs based on the rishonim, vs based on the achronim, vs assuming that the Mishna Brura and your personal rosh yeshiva’s psak are binding on klal yisrael. The latter is a giant spectrum with Karaism on one end, obvious silliness on the other, and many defensible points in between. There may well be a loose right/left correlation here, but there are many exceptions. Women’s prayer may work out nicely for the right=blind tradition, left=investigation approach. But other issues like insects in vegetables land in quite the opposite direction.

  69. I see J. has given some more counterexamples…

  70. Again, this is an extraordinarily complex topic. But if one was to come up with a useful heuristic, it would likely not focus on issues of objective reality versus halachic precedent (R. Eitam Henkin gives a good justification for maintaining the halachos of tolaim based on outdated science on pages 10 and 11 of the following document: http://www.michtavim.com/EitamHenkin5770.pdf). That just gets you into a myriad of other problems. It would rather be how we deal with questions that have not been asked before. Whereas for, say, R Menashe Klein, the fact that women have not been shul presidents in the past indicates that they should not do so now, for an MO posek this may not necessarily be the case, inasmuch as there is no active mesora forbidding it, and we are essentially asking a different question to the one that was or wasn’t asked in previous generations. Approaches to brain death are related to this dilemma too, and, for almost all poskim who do accept brain death as halachic death, the idea of making the halacha paralleling objective reality and making this work in light of the historical context of the sources only comes into play once we’ve come up with a viable traditionalist halachic approach for accepting brain death as death (R. Nachum Rabinovitch is, as in many other things, an exception).

  71. J. – If the debate here is about the 2nd half of Dr. Stadlan’s comment:

    The right argues that poskim create a halachic reality that trumps actual reality, and the left prefers to utilize the concept of halachic reality(as it conflicts with observed reality) as minimally as necessary. The view of the right in fact is not consistent with placing value on madda, since ultimately the facts don’t count, only if you can convince enough of those whose opinions are considered. The opinions, even those based mistakes, triumph over facts.

    Let’s use another example recently discussed here that is not rooted in a science disputes. Namely, the argument offered by RYBS in regard to Agunot in which, indeed, the Poskim on the right are creating a reality in their minds based on Halachic formalism rather than contemporary empiricism. Whereas those on the left admit to the reality of contemporary empiricism and search for the Halachic formalism that mitigates that reality.

    Both are “biased to a desired result or the predilection for a particular approach” – neither side more than the other.

  72. But again, I’m not sure that holds true outside of this specific example. And I’m not sure which poskim on the left you’re referring to. After all, one doesn’t have to buy into the Rav’s rhetoric to reject the Rackman beis din. You’ll find ‘rightist’ poskim abrogating chazakos all the time for one reason or another.

  73. Ah. Are you then questioning whether the hypothesis “the right argues that poskim create a halachic reality that trumps actual reality” is the overarching issue, or just a symptomatic of a deeper issue (e.g. the socio-politics of how halacha engages with modernity)?

  74. FWIW, I don’t find the worms in fish angle relevant to this debate. The whole domain of kashrut these days is so enmeshed in a business venture that has set its own rules that are independent of any historical Rabbinic divides. As R. Finkelman commented in his letter in the current Jewish Review of Books:

    However, the agencies certify as glatt the meat of cattle with some abnormalities. Thus someone who wants to keep the old standard of plain kosher must accept the additional stricture of glatt, and someone who wants to keep the old stricture of glatt must accept new leniencies pioneered by the agencies.

  75. Both. It is almost certainly not the overarching issue, and it only occasionally manifests itself in questions relating to halacha/modernity. The discussion regarding the role of precedent in psak halacha is a much older one – famously underlying the dispute between the Mishkenos Yaakov and the Beis Ephraim over eruvin. I’m not sure the analysis of ‘leftist’ versus ‘rightist’ approaches to halacha has done much to take that discussion further.

  76. I don’t think there is any claim this is a new phenomenon, but there have been few previous times when the confluence of social changes (in the plural) have so challenged Halachic formalism.

    Another factor to consider is also the increasing comingling of different historically geographic Rabbinic traditions in conjunction with the huge shift in Jewish population centers (82% now in Israel or the US).

    The very semantics of left/right is premised on a highly Westernized socio-political context that did not fit the socio-political reality of pre-Shoah Eastern European Orthodoxy.

  77. Many people on the “left” ARE stringent about Chadsh, for that reason. I know a bunch of them, personally.

  78. I don’t see much merit to Dr. Stadlan’s dichotomy between right and left. The rabbis I know from the Lakewood orbit do not look much at Acharonim and from reading the Frimer article on Women’s Prayer Groups, I would think they look at Acharonim quite a bit.

  79. Chardal: Exactly. You knew I did not mean just the 13 ikkarim but was holding them up as the non-obvious part. I believe Yoreh De’ah 2, including se’if 5, have to be part of the conversation, at least for leaders.

  80. IH-are you seriously contending that Hilcos Teshuvah 3:8 is merely mussar and/or aggada?

  81. the question remains – what is the difference today between major poskim on the right of orthodoxy and the left – in the halakhic process and final psak? the assumption here – there is a difference.
    I am not sure whether R’ Frimer is in either parsha.

  82. IH wrote in part:

    “The literalist reading of the 7th and 8th Ikkarim as a (failed) bulwark against modern Bible scholarship is a thoroughly modern affair”

    Actually the notion that one can reconcilee modern Bible scholarship with the accepted beliefs in Torah Min HaShamayim is at best an exercise in apologetics with preordained boundaries, and at worst rooted in can best be described as Apikorsus and Kefirah.

    I can’t state how depressing it was to read this thread right after Tisha Ba”av. Guess that what could be a YT next year will require a lot more work on our part if that hope is to become a reality.

    Chardal-being a Mchallel Shabbos renders one a Kofer bIkar in the views of the Talmud and Rishonim because one denies Maaseh Breishis and Yetzias Mitzrayim.

  83. Actually the notion that one can reconcilee modern Bible scholarship with the accepted beliefs in Torah Min HaShamayim is at best an exercise in apologetics with preordained boundaries, and at worst rooted in can best be described as Apikorsus and Kefirah.

    http://www.bhol.co.il/forum/topic.asp?topic_id=2916326&whichpage=38&forum_id=1364

    אבל הנסיון שלי הוא לא כזה. ראשית, המושג ‘תורה מן השמים’ הוא בעייתי ביותר, גם בהגות ימי הביניים. יש כאן לדעתי לא יותר מאשר ‘מחויבות פונטית’, כלומר להאמין במשהו מילולי, שלא באמת מבינים, וגם לעולם לא נבין עד הסוף. כמו נוסחה מתמטית. ל’תורה מן השמים’ היה מעמד כזה במשך דורות רבים. שנית, אדם לא מאבד את אמונתו בעקבות כך שעובדת היסוד של אמונתו התערערה. כשם שנכנסים לאמונה כך יוצאים ממנה. איש לא נכנס לחיי מצוות עקב אישור אמונת היסוד, ולכן גם היציאה אינה עקב ערעור של אמונת יסוד. צורת החיים הדתית כל כך מעורבבת באמונת היסוד, כמו גשר דו כיווני, לא כמו יסוד לבנין.

    כשבא אלי מישהו ואומר לי: איני מקיים מצוות כי אינני מאמין יותר במתן תורה. אני אומר לו: מה חשבת קודם? מה התעוררת? יש לנוסחה חסינות מסויימת, שאותה מאבדים כאשר מאבדים ענין בתרבות ובמרקם החיים העוטף את האמונה. כאשר אתה בז לזה, אז אתה מתחיל לברר אם ניתנה תורה בסיני. רק זרות מצורת החיים של המצוות, היא המביאה את הערעור על אמונת היסוד.

  84. >Chardal: Exactly. You knew I did not mean just the 13 ikkarim but was holding them up as the non-obvious part. I believe Yoreh De’ah 2, including se’if 5, have to be part of the conversation, at least for leaders.

    But the very fact that you have to extrapolate hilchos orthodoxy from hilchos shchita shows the anachronistic nature of this conversation. And if you do use this source, then it is obvious that praxis are much more relevant than dogma to the discussion. Any discussion that tried to build a definition of orthodoxy from the texts while ignoring the realities of the groups that call themselves orthodoxy is IMO missing the point of the very term orthodox.

    >Actually the notion that one can reconcilee modern Bible scholarship with the accepted beliefs in Torah Min HaShamayim is at best an exercise in apologetics with preordained boundaries

    Steve, I agree, but it is no less an exercise in apologetics than reconciling prayer to angels and at graves with the ikkarim. The difference is, that you feel that bible scholarship threatens your worldview whereas you obviously don’t feel the same way about other ikkarim.

    >Chardal-being a Mchallel Shabbos renders one a Kofer bIkar in the views of the Talmud and Rishonim because one denies Maaseh Breishis and Yetzias Mitzrayim.

    I am aware of shabbat being different. I am against using texts in a way that is not cognizant of sociological reality. For example, when I pointed out to Gil that there are many traditional israelis who believe in the ikkarim but drive on shabbat (and because they drive on shabbat, they can not be considered orthodox), he pointed out that shabbat is different. Which I presume he meant in that the gemara writes that we treat a mechalel shabbat as a mumar for all practical halachic purposes.

    I happen to think that in the contemporary sociological reality, the chillul shabbat of traditional Jews does not fall into the category of mechalel shabbat beFarhesia but rather into:

    כלל גדול אמרו בשבת: כל השוכח עיקר שבת, ושכח שנצטוו ישראל על השבת, או שנשבה והוא קטן לבין הגויים, או נתגייר קטן והוא בין הגויים–אף על פי שעשה מלאכות הרבה בשבתות הרבה–אינו חייב אלא חטאת אחת, שהכול שגגה אחת היא

    So I am not sure that for THOSE people, shabbat is that much different than Nida or Kashrut. But in the end, my main point (which I never go to) is that praxis is much more important than dogma when discussing orthodoxy. There are probably some few and overarching dogmas that would cause a person to not be able to function within an orthodox community, but the Rambam’s ikkarim do not encompass those dogmas – AND the nature of those dogmas shift with time and place. And while I think it is obvious that there will ever be an orthodoxy that would accept atheism, the boundaries of orthodox theology are still constantly shifting and can not be derived from texts and poskim alone.

  85. fwiw somewhere towards the end of this shiur r’jjs presents a machloket between the brisker rov and r’ Herzog re: holocaust reflection day and specifically notes he feels its basis was in a priori world view:

    http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/796327/Rabbi_Dr-_Jacob_J_Schacter/How_Does_Jewish_Society_Commemorate_Catastrophe-_A_Study_In_Cultural_Memory
    Rabbi Dr. Jacob J Schacter -How Does Jewish Society Commemorate Catastrophe? A Study In Cultural Memory

    KT (if you’re wondering why the switch back from She-nir’eh et nehamat Yerushalayim u-binyanah bi-mherah ve-yamenu, I suggest listening to:
    http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/796248/Rabbi_Aharon_Kahn/Tisha_B-av-_Living_with_Churban
    Rabbi Aharon Kahn -Tisha B’av: Living with Churban
    )

  86. Chardal: But the very fact that you have to extrapolate hilchos orthodoxy from hilchos shchita shows the anachronistic nature of this conversation.

    That is how halakhah works.

    I agree that there are extenuating circumstances today that would prevent most Shabbos violators from being excluded from the community. However, that is a personal exemption which does not justify the acts. Similarly, believers of heresy can be included due to personal exemptions but that does not justify or legitimize their mistaken beliefs.

  87. R’ Joel — And force-fitting Holocaust Remembrance Day to Tisha b’Av is somehow not having “its basis was in a priori world view”?

    Agav, we know there were calamities that were commemorated by the Jewish communities of the middle ages on days other than Tisha b’Av too. See: Carlebach’s Palaces of Time or Yerushalmi’s Zachor.

  88. That is how halakhah works.

    You put your finger on it, Gil. The invention of hilchos orthodoxy out of whole cloth — and then defending it as “THE halachic process” is emblematic of the meshugas you propagate that Modern Orthodoxy is increasingly rejecting.

  89. R’ih,
    Yes- that was r’jjs’s point about the brisker rov’s position.
    Kt

  90. IH: The idea that anyone in our generation invented it is ludicrous. It can be found in halakhic codes throughout the generations–Mishneh Torah, Semag, Semak, Shulchan Aruch, Kitzur, Aruch HaShulchan just to name a few.

  91. ערוך השולחן אורח חיים סימן א סעיף יא

    מיסודי הדת להאמין שתורתינו הקדושה כאשר היא – נתונה לנו מסיני על ידי משה רבינו. ובחסרון אות אחד היא פסולה, ואין הפרש בקדושתה בין פסוק “שמע ישראל” לפסוק “ותמנע היתה פלגש”.

    וכשם שהקדוש ברוך הוא חי וקיים לעד ולעולמי עולמים, כמו כן התורה היא נצחית, כמו שאנו אומרים ב”אמת ויציב”: “הוא קיים ושמו קיים…, ודבריו חיים וקיימים, נאמנים ונחמדים לעד ולעולמי עולמים…”. ולכן מלאכי שהיה הנביא האחרון אמר: “זכרו תורת משה עבדי…”.

    http://he.wikisource.org/wiki/%D7%A2%D7%A8%D7%95%D7%9A_%D7%94%D7%A9%D7%95%D7%9C%D7%97%D7%9F_%D7%90%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%97_%D7%97%D7%99%D7%99%D7%9D_%D7%90#.D7.A1.D7.99.D7.9E.D7.9F_.D7.90_.D7.A1.D7.A2.D7.99.D7.A3_.D7.99.D7.90

  92. >That is how halakhah works.

    That is ONE way that halakhah has historically worked. There are other models and I believe that there are large parts of the MO/RZ community that are trying to integrate historicism into the halachic process and to minimize the instances of anachronism. Looking at the rishonim, we see that our great sages of the past used the best tools at their disposal to arrive at truth. The Ramban, for example, changed his whole opinion about the weight of a shekel when he arrived in EY and got to see an actual shekel. The Gaon and the Alter Rebbe went against virtually all rishonim on the zman of tzeit haKochavim because they looked into the sky and the rishonim were empirically wrong. etc. etc. It is legitimate to for MO people, who are well versed in contemporary wisdoms to expect halacha to conform to the rigorous standards of truth that they demand in other fields of knowledge. See the presentation of David Shatz (http://hsf.bgu.ac.il/cjt/files/sounds/2010%20confernce/davidshatz.mp3) which has been published here: http://www.bialik-publishing.co.il/product_info.php?products_id=1595 where he argues that over the past few decades, modern orthodoxy has shifted from someone who is orthodox and who is knowledgeable in other areas of general knowledge (math, science, literature, etc) to someone who is orthodox and integrates the ideas of wissenschaft into their religious life. If he is right (and I think that he is), then the patterns of halachic decision-making that the MO world expects is also changing – that is an emphasis on maximizing historical and scientific truth in the decision making process.

    >I agree that there are extenuating circumstances today that would prevent most Shabbos violators from being excluded from the community. However, that is a personal exemption which does not justify the acts. Similarly, believers of heresy can be included due to personal exemptions but that does not justify or legitimize their mistaken beliefs.

    The way it is used is pretty much as a blanket exemption. I don’t remember one time in my community that someone was not allowed to daven at the amud because of either lack of dogma or because of lack of shmirat shabbat. I agree that these beliefs/behaviors are tolerated only defacto and not dejure, but they are tolerated nonetheless. Further, I question if “accepting them in the community” is the same as “orthodox”. I know someone, a traditional Israeli, who davens three times a day but will drive on shabbat and eat in non-kosher restaurants. He will only daven in orthdox shuls (not that he has much choice here in Israel) and sometimes davens for the amud and is called up to the Torah. He also believes in all the ikkarim (I presume from the conversations I have had with him). But it seems to be it would be totally inaccurate to call him orthodox although he is “accepted in the community”.

  93. “The great 20th century sage, Rabbi Haim David Halevy, ruled: “Not only does a judge have the right to rule against his rabbis; he also has an obligation to do so [if he believes their decision to be incorrect and he has strong proofs to support his own position]. If the decision of those greater than he does not seem right to him, and he is not comfortable following it, and yet he follows that decision [in deference to their authority], then it is almost certain that he has rendered a false judgment.” (Aseh Lekha Rav, 2:61) Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, in rejecting an opinion of Rabbi Shelomo Kluger, wrote that “one must love truth more than anything.” (Iggrot Moshe, Y. D., 3:88)

    Orthodoxy needs to foster the love of truth. It must be alive to different intellectual currents, and receptive to open discussion. How do we, as a modern Orthodox community, combat the tendency toward blind authoritarianism and obscurantism?

    First, we must stand up and be counted on the side of freedom of expression. We, as a community, must give encouragement to all who have legitimate opinions to share. We must not tolerate intolerance. We must not yield to the tactics of coercion and intimidation.

    Our schools and institutions must foster legitimate diversity within Orthodoxy. We must insist on intellectual openness, and resist efforts to impose conformity: we will not be fitted into the bed of Sodom. We must give communal support to diversity within the halakhic framework, so that people will not feel intimidated to say things publicly or sign their names to public documents.

    Orthodoxy is large enough and great enough to include Rambam and the Ari; the Baal Shem Tov and the Gaon of Vilna; Rabbi Eliyahu Benamozegh and Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch; Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook and Rabbi Benzion Uziel; Dona Gracia Nasi and Sarah Schnirer. We draw on the wisdom and inspiration of men and women spanning the generations, from communities throughout the world. The wide variety of Orthodox models deepens our own religiosity and understanding, thereby giving us a living, dynamic, intellectually alive way of life.

    If the modern Orthodox community does not have the will or courage to foster diversity, then who will? ”

    it seems many in orthodoxy cannot accept this. when is the last time you saw major poskim on the right disagreeing about a psak? last time you saw it at YU? in public.

  94. Chardal: Using historicism to determine pesak. We’ve seen that before and it doesn’t end well. http://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/jewish-law/committee-jewish-law-and-standards

    ruvie: it seems many in orthodoxy cannot accept this. when is the last time you saw major poskim on the right disagreeing about a psak? last time you saw it at YU? in public.

    Every single day!

  95. Gil – i think you misunderstood chardal

    all I see is coercion to conformity – i see no tolerance for others including those that refuse to be on the same panel/conference as others within orthodoxy (of course the claim is that they are not). i think that many in the orthodoxy feel as i do. as i quoted someone above and now more to your point below:

    “Similar cases abound where pressure has been brought to bear on rabbis and scholars who espouse views not in conformity with the prevailing opinions of an inner circle of Orthodox rabbinic leaders. Over the years, I have been involved in the planning of a number of rabbinic conferences and conventions. Invariably questions are raised concerning who will be invited to speak. Someone says: If Rabbi so-and-so is put on the program, then certain other rabbis and speakers will refuse to participate. Someone says: if such-and-such a group is among the sponsors of the conference, other groups will boycott the event. What is happening in such instances is a subtle—and not so subtle—process of coercion. Decisions are being made as to which Orthodox individuals and groups are “acceptable” and which are not.

    This process is insidious and is unhealthy for Orthodoxy. It deprives us of meaningful discussion and debate. It intimidates people from taking independent or original positions, for fear of being ostracized or isolated.

    Many times I have heard intelligent people say: I believe thus-and-so but I can’t say so openly for fear of being attacked by the “right”. I support such-and-such proposal, but can’t put my name in public support for fear of being reviled or discredited by this group or that group.”

  96. I fear it is becoming less and less common. There are very few top tier working Charedi poskim who are publishing volumes of shu’t, and most questions of public policy seem to be decided via fiat (kol koreis ve’chadomeh) as opposed to reasoned discourse. When was the last time you saw a serious correspondence between, say R. Chaim Kanievsky and R. Nissim Karelitz, or equivalent figures, disagreeing over an important halachic question? Three word answers don’t count.

  97. ruvie: all I see is coercion to conformity – i see no tolerance for others including those that refuse to be on the same panel/conference as others within orthodoxy

    You see no tolerance for those on the extreme left. On the right and center, there is plenty of tolerance that is not reported in the media because it isn’t particularly newsworthy.

    J: I fear it is becoming less and less common. There are very few top tier working Charedi poskim who are publishing volumes of shu’t, and most questions of public policy seem to be decided via fiat (kol koreis ve’chadomeh) as opposed to reasoned discourse

    Hasn’t R. Nissim Karelitz published many halakhah sefarim? I see a plethora of published books. Historically speaking, aren’t most responsa published posthumously? They certainly aren’t published with the news cycle.

  98. One of his talmidim has published sefarim under his auspices, but that has little to do with writing teshuvos.

    And I’m not referring specifically to whether responsa are being published, but rather to how questions are being decided in the first place. R. Zivotofsky’s recent article in Hakirah (http://www.hakirah.org/Vol14Zivotofsky.pdf) describes the shenanigans that surrounded the debate over the kingklip’s kashrus in South Africa; whilst there were many pronouncements from various poskim, at no stage did these poskim publish teshuvos explaining both how they understood the metzius and providing detailed halachic rationales for their respective decisions.

    Numerous additional examples could be adduced, but the key point is that it’s becoming less and less frequent for poskim to publicise the theoretical basis for their decisions on matters of communal import. Whether it’s eruvin or wigs, we hear many pronouncements, but the halachic literature is rarely written by those who are officially making the decisions.

    In part this is due to the fact that, for over a decade, a very frail Rav Elyashiv (and/or his handlers) had the deciding vote on many issues, at least as far as Israeli Charedim were concerned. But I don’t see the status quo changing in the near future.

  99. Were the Noda BiYehudah’s or Chasam Sofer’s teshuvos on controversial issues published at the time of the controversy?

  100. R’ Asher Weiss?
    KT

  101. When they were published is a question I will leave to others. But the key point is that they wrote them – and, as one can see from the responsa themselves, they debated in writing, at length, with each other. In many recent controversies, this has clearly not been the case. Hence the constant need to parse kol koreis and records of oral rulings.

  102. GIL:

    “Using historicism to determine pesak. We’ve seen that before and it doesn’t end well.”

    chardal present some specific examples. how did they not end well?

  103. On the invention of hilchos Orthodoxy , Gil, it is your claim that is ludicrous. There is textual support for certain red lines of praxis: Mechalel Shabbat b’Farhesia being the central one. And there is textual support for excommunication of those who publically flout beliefs that are hostile to the community. But, neither was used aggressively to exclude masses of Jews in steady state – and to the extent they were, it often failed (e.g. Chassidim).

    One can make the case that the threat of organized movements of Jews that rejected Orthodoxy in the 20th century was sufficiently serious that it rose to the standard of aggressively excluding masses of Jews. But, that war is long over and you are stuck in the past. And among the FFB Modern Orthodox community there is increasing tolerance of other ways.

    Frankly, I am puzzled as to why you have such a strong need to exclude people from the Modern Orthodoxy that by your own admission you do neither socialize nor daven. If as you admit, your chevra will not daven in R. Riskin’s shul, why do you care who does?

  104. 1) I agree with Chardal that R Gil is conflating O with Yehudi Shomer Torah U’mitzvos (or whartever term you use.) I think Marc Shapiro threw a spanner into the works by calling his book “Limits of ORTHODOX Theology” and then quoting all kinds of Rishonim and early Achronim’s ‘heterodox’ views.

    That said “It is theoretically possible for a Conservative Jew to believe in all 13 and still drive on Shabbat. Nu?” He’d be a very small and odd minority. What makes him C? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservative_Judaism

    “There are many many traditional Israelis who believe in all the ikkarim bPashtut and yet drive on Shabbat, violate the laws of nida, smoke on Shabbat, etc. and don’t consider themselves orthodox.”

    The ‘Yehudi Mikol Ha’Lev’ type is hard to define. I think you could make a case they’re O even if they think they’re not.
    I can consider myself Israeli/non American because I spent 2 years in EY and loved it, but that doesn’t make me one.

    2) I think it’s harder to write Chabad out of Orthodoxy because generally O is perceived to be the most ‘rightwing’. If they aren’t O, what are they? Heterdox fanatic Charedi (which is what elokists are) just sounds weird. That doesn’t make them not apikorsim.

    3) I think it might be a good idea to wait till Dr Stadlan explains himself further (as he said he plans to do) before darshening up his words.

    4) “Frankly, I am puzzled as to why you have such a strong need to exclude people from the Modern Orthodoxy that by your own admission you do neither socialize nor daven. If as you admit, your chevra will not daven in R. Riskin’s shul, why do you care who does?”

    Presumably, for the same reason R Gil wrote polemics against meshichist chabad even if he’s unlikely to daven in one of their shuls. You try fight error where ever possible.

    IH-

    5) Can you respond to my comment ‘shaul shapira on July 15, 2013 at 5:18 pm ?’

  105. Shaul — I could not decipher what you were asking. If there is a serious question, please rephrase it in a standalone and sensible manner.

  106. Some links worth reading IMHO.

    1)R Yona Reiss on the term O:

    http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/749583

    There is both a utopian opportunity latent in postdenominationalism
    as well as a serious danger. The opportunity is of
    reuniting all of the Jewish people under one banner. The danger is that
    this movement also has the potential to result in deeper fragmentation,
    as it paves the way for more individualistic definition of Jewish practice
    in confrontation with Torah tradition and threatens to obliterate
    notions of community. This is why tolerance in our tradition is always tempered with trepidation. The resolution often lies in our ability, like
    Rabbi Feinstein’s approach toward non-observant Jews, to craft an
    approach of pragmatic legalism based on age-old halakhic principles.
    In this sense, we should not be so quick to cast aside the convenience
    of maintaining a defined community of “Orthodox Judaism.” At least
    Orthodox Judaism has come to represent a certain preservation of
    tradition and acceptance of the authority of the leaders of the respected
    yeshivot and established rabbinic institutions that have effectively been
    defining our community for the last number of centuries. While no
    formal alliance was created, it was understood that certain institutions,
    such as Agudath Israel, the Orthodox Union, the Rabbinical Council of
    America, the National Council of Young Israel, Mizrachi, and a wide
    range of yeshivot encompassing both the likes of Lakewood and Yeshiva
    University, belonged in that camp, and that certain practices, such as the
    insistence on having a mechitza in synagogue, were requirements for
    Orthodoxy. I think that there was also an unofficial acknowledgment
    of the legitimacy of the major poskim who rendered decisions for those
    in the “Orthodox” camp, even as there may have occasionally been rifts
    between different Orthodox communities regarding positions taken
    on individual issues (such as secular education and religious Zionism).

    2)R J David Bleich

    http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/726224/Rabbi_Dr._J._David_Bleich/Lomdut_and_Pesak:_Theoretical_Analysis_and_Halakhic_Decision-Making#

    3) There’s also an article by Dr David Berger on the difficulties inherent in writing Chabad out the Torah community, but I can’t seem to find it now.

  107. “Shaul — I could not decipher what you were asking. If there is a serious question, please rephrase it in a standalone and sensible manner.”

    Given that you clearly do not see Orthodoxy as being the only legitimate form of Judaism, and in fact don’t see it as a ‘particularly important club’ to belong to, why are you always the one insisting that certain individuals/movements are in fact Orthodox?! (e.g. I happen to not be Sephardi, but if someone claimed I was, at most I might correct them once and thereafter ignore the issue, since I really don’t consider it all that important/relevant.)

    IN OTHER WORDS:

    What is “perverse” about R Gil defining some groups as Orthodox and others as *not*? Why do you care???

  108. Shaul — the difference is that Gil is on the offense, using the blogosphere to re-write Modern Orthodoxy in his image. And if you really want to play the sand-throwing game, why do you care about Modern Orthodoxy as you’re Charedi and a Zionism-denier.

    As a pluralist, I am happy to engage in sensible discussion with you; and, I might even daven in your shul for the experience. But, I think your brand of Judaism is just as wrong as the current non-Orthodox denominations.

  109. I come back to the halachic issue: There is textual support for certain red lines of praxis: Mechalel Shabbat b’Farhesia being the central one. And there is textual support for excommunication of those who publically flout beliefs that are hostile to the community. But, neither was used aggressively to exclude masses of Jews in steady state – and to the extent they were, the attempt failed more than it succeeded (e.g. Chassidim).

    One can make the case that the threat of organized movements of Jews that rejected Orthodoxy in the 20th century was sufficiently serious that it rose to the standard of aggressively excluding masses of Jews. But, that war is long over and so is the excuse for holier-than-thou heresy hunting.

  110. IH-

    “Shaul — the difference is that Gil is on the offense,”

    As opposed to sweet little you who NEVER goes on the offensive?

    “using the blogosphere to re-write Modern Orthodoxy in his image.”

    Again, so what? Let’s say he is? And now you’re Heterodox. Nu, who cares?
    Of course I think *you’re* trying to rewrite MO in you’re own Conservative/ Conservadox image; and until you spell out where you stand on R Avi Weiss’s three touchstones of where O ends, I’m going to continue to think that- based on other comments you have made.

    “And if you really want to play the sand-throwing game,”

    I’m throwing sand? At who?

    ” why do you care about Modern Orthodoxy as you’re Charedi and a Zionism-denier.”

    I’ll just quote myself from a few minutes ago: “Presumably, for the same reason R Gil wrote polemics against meshichist chabad even if he’s unlikely to daven in one of their shuls. You try fight error where ever possible.”

    Also, what’s a ‘Zionism-denier’?

    “As a pluralist, I am happy to engage in sensible discussion with you;”
    Great! How about giving a sensible reply to my questions!

    P.S. I consider myself O of the Chareidi persuasion. I certainly don’t have an issue with most of MO as Wikipedia defines it. Can I have a pluralist sticker now?

    “and, I might even daven in your shul for the experience.”

    I daven in multiple shuls. See Philosophy Professor R DR David Shatz’s astute observation in R Gil’s O Forum article.

    “But, I think your brand of Judaism”

    Which is…?

    “is just as wrong as the current non-Orthodox denominations.”

    Eyzeh pluralist! Also, what’s wrong (in your opinion) with ‘the current non-Orthodox denominations’?

    [1](That’s R Weiss- of open orthodox fame- for goodness sakes! If he’s too right wing for you..)

  111. R Avi Weiss’s three touchstones of where O ends
    =============================
    which are?
    KT

  112. IH: On the invention of hilchos Orthodoxy , Gil, it is your claim that is ludicrous. There is textual support for certain red lines of praxis: Mechalel Shabbat b’Farhesia being the central one. And there is textual support for excommunication of those who publically flout beliefs that are hostile to the community.

    Earlier, I provided the text of a halakhic source that requires belief in every letter of the Torah. That is certainly more than “textual support for excommunication of those who publically flout beliefs that are hostile to the community”. There are other texts, as well. I’m not saying that people with wrong beliefs are regularly excommunicated. Nor do I think they should be. But when they publicize their beliefs, they are not treated like members in good standing.

  113. Here it is:
    ערוך השולחן אורח חיים סימן א סעיף יא

    מיסודי הדת להאמין שתורתינו הקדושה כאשר היא – נתונה לנו מסיני על ידי משה רבינו. ובחסרון אות אחד היא פסולה, ואין הפרש בקדושתה בין פסוק “שמע ישראל” לפסוק “ותמנע היתה פלגש”.

    וכשם שהקדוש ברוך הוא חי וקיים לעד ולעולמי עולמים, כמו כן התורה היא נצחית, כמו שאנו אומרים ב”אמת ויציב”: “הוא קיים ושמו קיים…, ודבריו חיים וקיימים, נאמנים ונחמדים לעד ולעולמי עולמים…”. ולכן מלאכי שהיה הנביא האחרון אמר: “זכרו תורת משה עבדי…”.

    http://he.wikisource.org/wiki/%D7%A2%D7%A8%D7%95%D7%9A_%D7%94%D7%A9%D7%95%D7%9C%D7%97%D7%9F_%D7%90%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%97_%D7%97%D7%99%D7%99%D7%9D_%D7%90#.D7.A1.D7.99.D7.9E.D7.9F_.D7.90_.D7.A1.D7.A2.D7.99.D7.A3_.D7.99.D7.90

  114. Gil– Show it to me in the Shulchan Aruch and then let’s discuss further. This is like pointing to the Mishna B’rura as proof of something binding across call Orthodoxy.

  115. So if the concept of ikkarei emunah is in the Shulchan Arukh, you will concede?

  116. I am always happy to learn new things and adjust my thinking appropriately.

  117. See Yoreh Deah 268:2 where the Shulchan Arukh quotes the Rambam’s reference to principles of faith. And see Choshen Mishpat 425:5 and Yoreh Deah 158:2 where the Shulchan Arukh quotes the Rambam’s words about those who reject Torah and prophecy.

  118. Will look this evening. Are they represented as Halacha by the Mechaber?

  119. Yes

  120. Gil – re the arukh hashulchan. what happens when you have rishonim that do not have the same view – that every letter given at sinai (ibn ezra,yehuda hahasid..even those that don’t believe given in its entirety) )? don’t want rehash that topic but i don’t see this as proof except what a kosher torah is.

    is there a source in rabbinic literature that claims that hashem dictated to moshe every word at sinai including events that did not take place and his speech to benei yisrael – deverim?

  121. btw, BT Gittin 60 a is debatable what “all” means.

  122. ruvie: re the arukh hashulchan. what happens when you have rishonim that do not have the same view – that every letter given at sinai (ibn ezra,yehuda hahasid..even those that don’t believe given in its entirety) )?

    It’s debatable what they held but that is beside the point. The Arukh Ha-Shulchan is taking a side in a debate. That happens all the time.

    don’t want rehash that topic but i don’t see this as proof except what a kosher torah is.

    His words are clearly not about what a kosher Torah is.

  123. Gil – where is the source for this? mishnah in sanhedrin says you have to believe in torah min hashamayim.

  124. Clearly, he accepts the Rambam’s interpretation of the phrase “Torah Min Ha-Shamayim”.

  125. And while I think it is obvious that there will [n]ever be an orthodoxy that would accept atheism,

    It’s not obvious to IH, at 10:43pm he just argued the opposite.

    On the invention of hilchos Orthodoxy , Gil, it is your claim that is ludicrous. There is textual support for certain red lines of praxis: Mechalel Shabbat b’Farhesia being the central one. And there is textual support for excommunication of those who publically flout beliefs that are hostile to the community. But, neither was used aggressively to exclude masses of Jews in steady state – and to the extent they were, it often failed (e.g. Chassidim).

    Is this the same IH who argues that women should be able to lead prayers, based on the textual support for their doing so, though it has never before occured in practice?

  126. There is both a utopian opportunity latent in postdenominationalism as well as a serious danger. The opportunity is of reuniting all of the Jewish people under one banner. The danger is that this movement also has the potential to result in deeper fragmentation, as it paves the way for more individualistic definition of Jewish practice in confrontation with Torah tradition and threatens to obliterate notions of community. This is why tolerance in our tradition is always tempered with trepidation.

    Well spoken.

  127. IH-

    “Shaul – צא ולמד: http://pluralism.org/pages/pluralism/what_is_pluralism

    Thank you. I will reserve comment on that until you answer my main points, especially :

    Me: “What is “perverse” about R Gil defining some groups as Orthodox and others as *not*? Why do you care???”

    You: “Shaul — the difference is that Gil is on the offense, using the blogosphere to re-write Modern Orthodoxy in his image”

    Me: “Again, so what? Let’s say he is? And now you’re Heterodox. Nu, who cares?…what’s wrong (in your opinion) with ‘the current non-Orthodox denominations’?”

    https://www.torahmusings.com/2012/06/news-links-100/comment-page-1/#comments

    IH on June 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    “So, it looks like outside of Hirhurim others preach the same message that I do. From the linked Bagels, Yiddishisms, and tikkun olam:

    ‘Over the years, Orthodoxy has taken a few lessons from more progressive movements of Judaism. […] I would implore the Orthodox community to continue to do this, and the more conservative streams of Orthodoxy to engage in this exchange as well. […] allowing one’s movement to be influenced by other, more Orthodox streams of Judaism in ways that don’t violate their own principles will benefit the Reform and Conservative Movements in the way that these practices benefit Orthodoxy. Jewish diversity is only valuable if we all cash in on it; it’s strictly detrimental if it only serves to divide us to the extent that we’re more concerned with being disassociated with the other than with using one another’s strengths to be the best versions of ourselves.’

    Amen.”

    ====================
    Rocking Joel Rich-

    “R Avi Weiss’s three touchstones of where O ends

    which are?
    KT”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Orthodox_Judaism#Conservative_Judaism

    “In some areas, Modern Orthodoxy’s left wing appears to align with more traditional elements of Conservative Judaism, and in fact some on the left of Modern Orthodoxy have allied with the formerly Conservative Union for Traditional Judaism. Nonetheless, the two movements are generally described as distinct. Rabbi Avi Weiss – from the left of Modern Orthodoxy – stresses that Orthodox and Conservative Judaism are “so very different in… three fundamental areas: Torah mi-Sinai, rabbinic interpretation, and rabbinic legislation”.[30] Weiss argues as follows:
    Torah mi-Sinai (“Torah From Sinai”): Modern Orthodoxy, in line with the rest of Orthodoxy, holds that Jewish law is Divine in origin, and as such, no underlying principle may be compromised in accounting for changing political, social or economic conditions,[31] whereas Conservative Judaism holds that Poskim should make use of literary and historical analysis in deciding Jewish law, and may reverse decisions of the Acharonim that are held to be inapplicable today.[30][32]
    Rabbinic interpretation: (Modern) Orthodoxy contends that legal authority is cumulative, and that a contemporary posek (decisor) can only issue judgments based on a full history of Jewish legal precedent,[31] whereas the implicit argument of the Conservative movement is that precedent provides illustrations of possible positions rather than binding law. Conservatism, therefore, remains free to select whichever position within the prior history appeals to it.[30][33]
    Rabbinic legislation: Since the (Modern) Orthodox community is ritually observant, Rabbinic law legislated by (today’s) Orthodox rabbis can meaningfully become binding if accepted by the community (see minhag).[31] Conservative Judaism, on the other hand, has a largely non-observant laity.[30][34] Thus, although Conservatism similarly holds that “no law has authority unless it becomes part of the concern and practice of the community” [32] communal acceptance of a “permissive custom” is not “meaningful”, and, as a result, related Rabbinic legislation cannot assume the status of law.”

    R Weiss’s quotes are taken from here: http://web.archive.org/web/20050305235117/http://www.yctorah.org/downloads/articles/aw-open-orthodoxy.pdf , but I can’t seem to cut and paste from there.

    =================
    I hope to take a break from commenting i.e. I plan to shut up for a bit. But I’ll pop up in a few in days if anyone, especially IH, responds to my comments (We’ll see how long my silence lasts, anyway)

  128. Given the current “deeper fragmentation” that is occurring between DL/MO and the Charedi world within establishment Orthodoxy, pointing fingers at potential downsides of post-denominationalism is risible.

    Shlomo — on your comment of 5:30pm you seem to be confused about who said what. And do you really think that arguing that a woman leading Kabbalat Shabbat for which no one has been able to make a halachic case stick is somehow comparable to arguing against heresy hunting? Ready, fire, aim!

  129. obviously should have read “for which no one opposed has been able to make a halachic case stick”

  130. Gil – do you believe the arukh ha-shulchan you posted is halacha? is that your belief – kol ot v’ot was given at sinai and today out torah matches that? and those who do not are not orthodox? otherwise, its another halacha – like some many in the talmud, rambam, sa – many do not perform

  131. Gil has proposed 3 passages of the Shulcha Aruch as proof for hilchos Orthodoxy. I see nothing that we have not previously discussed in this thread.

    YD 268:2 is about Giyur (and as anyone who has bought a Co-op knows…). YD 168:2 (Hilchot Avodat Cochavim) and its analog CM 425:5 (Hilchot Chovel b’Chaveiro) are the enabling legislation, so to speak, for a community to excommunicate someone disruptive/dangerous. In none of the passages is there anywhere near the specificity of Rambam’s 13 Ikarrim – which supports my position more than yours.

    The bottom line remains that while one can make the case that the threat of organized movements of Jews that rejected Orthodoxy in the 20th century was sufficiently serious that it rose to the standard of aggressively excluding masses of Jews [although, in fact, both the Chazon Ish and Rav Kook worked around the enabling legislation in the SA that you cite]. .But, that war is long over and so is the excuse for holier-than-thou heresy hunting.

  132. It must also be highlighted that the SA passages are not limited to the modern denomination of Orthodoxy, but to the subject’s status as a Jew in all respects. This is opens up a can of worms I don’t think that even Gil wants to open!

  133. Ruvie: It is the Arukh Ha-Shulchan’s position.

    IH: You have said nothing to justify dismissing those passages. Yes, one is about the fundamentals of faith for conversion and the other two are about the fundamentals of faith for exclusion from the community. They are precisely relevant! The lack of specificity does not mean that there are no fundamental principles. Only that the Shulchan Arukh does not specify them beyond rejecting the Written and Oral Torah.

    No, not status of a Jew all respects. See the Shulchan Arukh on the validity of kiddushin and to whom you may lend money with interest.

    This is a “can of worms” that many poskim open and deal with responsibly. I am surprised that someone as learned as you is unaware of the literature.

  134. Gil — I’ll leave it there. The texts and history speak for themselves to anyone who cares to read them. Fortunately, many MO have walked away from your self-destructive policies; and your Charedi chevra are no salvation.

  135. I think that R Gil has done the MO community a tremendous public service in reminding the members of that world that Apikoruus and Kefirah have halachic meaning and that one denies either Torah Min HaShamayim and/or the Divine nature of Torah Shebicsav and Torah She Baal Peh as defined throughout Jewish history has placed himelf or herself beyond the pale of traditional Jewish thought. Shaul Shapira’s post at 1:01 PM which contained an extensive quote from R Yona Reiss, was an excellent definition of what constitutes the boundaries of the Torah observant world in North America.

    I note that IH has not responded to my query re his comment re so-called agaggdic or musar sounding passages in the MT.

  136. IH-I think that the AS quoted by R Gil is hardly the chidush of the AS. A Sefer Torah written by someone who does not subscribe to such Ikarei Emunah is Pasul. RYSE ZL paskened that the shechitah of a messsianist was treife bdieved. The fact that the Talmudic concept of a Tinok Shenisha is viewed as a means of understanding how nonobservant individuals act does not render the notion of a Mchalel Shabbos Bfarhesia off the books. It merely underscores the importance of Kiruv as an important mitzvah for the entire Torah observangt world, regardless of their self imposed hashkafic descriptions.

  137. J-ever hear of R ZN Goldberg? How about R Nevenzal? R Joel already mentioned R Asher Weiss. One can find chilukei deos among the RIETS RY on halachic issues any day of the week. The real issue, as RHS is whether what was mutar decades ago is assur today and vice versa. Moreover, it takes a while before the teshuvos and chiddushim of any great Talmid Chacham become accepted and a source for discussion and debate in the Torah world.

  138. I note that R. Yona Reiss, to his credit, participated in Limmud NY 2012. Perhaps Steve and Gil would learn something by participating as well.

    Limmud NY 2014 will take place on Presidents’ Day Weekend, February 14-17, at the Hilton Stamford Hotel and Executive Meeting Center in Connecticut.

  139. R. Yona Reiss, to his credit, participated in Limmud NY 2013 (not 2012)

  140. Ruvie wrote in part:

    “Gil – do you believe the arukh ha-shulchan you posted is halacha? is that your belief – kol ot v’ot was given at sinai and today out torah matches that?”

    If a sofer wrote a Sefer Torah without such Emunah, there is no doubt that what person wrote is Psaul Afilu Bdieved Bshas Hadchak Gadol Meod. Such a scroll is of halachic value whatsoever. Why not learn Chumash with the Gdolei HaMforshim-not with ArtScroll and not as if Rashi never wrote his commentary, and then you just might understand why the Seventh and Eighth Ikarim remain very vital statements of Ikarei Emunah.

  141. IH wrote:

    “I note that R. Yona Reiss, to his credit, participated in Limmud NY 2012. Perhaps Steve and Gil would learn something by participating as well.”

    That was R Eeiss’s call. I would not participate or lend my name to anything that presents Torah observance in Karaoke style as only one of many lifestyle options for a searching Jew.

  142. As a fan of karaoke, I resemble that remark. 🙂

  143. Shlomo — on your comment of 5:30pm you seem to be confused about who said what.

    No, I made the reasonable assumption that if you quoted it without comment, you likely think it legitimate.

    And do you really think that arguing that a woman leading Kabbalat Shabbat for which no one has been able to make a halachic case stick is somehow comparable to arguing against heresy hunting?

    Of course not. One is a pet cause of the right, one of the left. Entirely different!

  144. Steve – I have no doubt that RZNG would be considered one of the ‘poskei hador’ were he willing to ‘play ball’ with the powers that be, but, as far as I am aware, his opinions on the halachic issues of the day have not been particularly influential, at least as far as the Charedi world is concerned. I have never seen a comprehensive teshuva from Rav Nebenzahl on anything, but I may have missed them. R. Asher Weiss may prove to be an exception (I presume you’re referring to his recently publicised volume of teshuvos), and I hope he will be, but it’s still early days in his case.

  145. >Using historicism to determine pesak. We’ve seen that before and it doesn’t end well.

    I can only assume that you are talking about the Conservative movement. And if so, it is not really a fair retort. First, you can not reduce the failure of the halachic wing of the Conservative movement to their use of historicism. Second, in Europe, especially western Europe, there were many orthodox rabbis who employed historicist tools in their decisions. In Israel, where there was no Conservative movement, the right wing of the German wissenschaft movement found a home in RZ and many of the RZ authorities show a historical consciousness in their writings. When, several years ago, the debate about the revadim system of teaching gemara broke out here in Israel, there were rabbis on both sides of the debate and after it calmed down, all sides were still part of the same RZ community. Dr. Nachum Kahane, when he criticized the ahistorical way gemara is taught in high schools, he was taken seriously, not as an outsider, but as a member of the community who has something important to say. BTW, in the most infamous teshuva of the C movement (driving on shabbat), historicism is barely a factor. If anything, it is a great example of scholasticism gone wild.

    And you can not simply hide behind the rishonim. They were definitely not historically conscious in the way we are today – how could they have been?! However they DID use the best tools they had available to find the truth. What has happened in the modern era, is that our knowledge of the world has drifted substantially from the assumptions that underlie much of psak halacha. The has caused large parts of orthodoxy to adopt a coherence theory of truth (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coherence_theory_of_truth) as opposed to the more intuitive (and more traditional from the perspective of the rishonim) Correspondence theory of truth (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correspondence_theory_of_truth). The problem is, that as modern orthodox Jews became more educated, they started developing a bifurcated attitude towards truth, applying one theory in their day to day professional lives and a completely incompatible one in their religious/halachic life. As time has gone one, this tension has become more and more problematic and has created a drift back to historicism in the way modern orthodox Jews approach their texts.
    Now, I am aware (and agree) with the argument that unraveling the historical/scientific underpinnings of halacha can cause damage to the system (which is not geared for quick and radical changes). And many people I know have adopted a sort of compromise. We understand the flawed historical/scientific assumptions of the classic texts but accept that we have no institutions that are capable of updating the halacha appropriately at this time – therefore, we accept those parts of halacha as well so as to not undermine the whole system. This works just fine for things like treifos. It works far less well when we feel that the halacha is ethically in the wrong (like in agunot and mamzerim) – but at this point, many are still of the opinion that the good outweighs the bad.

    However, all this completely breaks down when one starts talking about dogmas. In every other areas of halacha, there is the underlying assumptions on the one side, and the final psak on the other. One can always accept the latter while rejecting the former. However, in the case of dogmas, this is obviously impossible. If reason and research reveal truths that are at odds with a particular dogma – let us say, the authorship of the Zohar, for example – then how can one accept a psak that one must accept that Rashbi authored the Zohar?!? The authority of the posek can never make one believe that which his intellect strongly rejects.

    This same process, as I have pointed out, also happened on the right, where various movements adopted beliefs/practices/liturgies which were at odds with traditional dogmas – in those cases, the poskim generally moved the boundaries of the dogmas to fit that which people believed. The right is just unwilling to do the same to challenges from the left.

    Which brings us back to the definition of orthodoxy. I have already pointed out that you are conflating orthodoxy with “accepted in the community”. I believe that while there may be overlaps, they are not the same thing at all (and almost all examples you have given are often not applied to Jews who are accepted in orthodox shuls/roles but who can not be considered orthodox – or, when a RZ sometimes, nebach, finds himself in a chareidi enclave, he may not be counted as a tenth. I think that it is obvious that orthodox is the best label for that person even though he is excluded from that community.

    All in all, the argument we are having also has a circular component. You say that the texts formulate the halachos of dogmas which are binding and can not be understood historically since that is not how halacha works. I am saying that we should understand all texts historically, and that therefore those texts which deal with dogmas should also be understood historically and that therefore halacha should reflect that historical consciousness.

    You could of course, argue, that people with historical consciousness have no place in orthodoxy, which would, of course, exclude many people who today consider themselves orthodox. Maybe you can scare some into suppressing their intellect and conforming to your understanding of the texts. However, many others would rather follow truth than conform and if that schism comes, we would rather be right than be orthodox.

  146. I see the latest antics of the ‘Open Orthodox’ have succeeded in setting the cat amongst the pigeons:

    http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2013/07/18/from-openness-to-heresy/

    Does anyone have any insight as to why the left in the US seems to have taken a far more radical turn than their colleagues in Israel, who seem to be more focused on building up alternate institutions (Beit Hillel) and deepening women’s opportunities in practice (Beit Morasha) rather than causing a stir with provocative headlines?

    I wonder if this is due to the disconnect between the Charedim (or even Chardalim) and the Dati Leumi, such that the latter are more free to experiment without feeling the need to make a scene. This contrasts with the US where the leadership of ‘mainstream’ MO is more homogenous (and more Charedi influenced) while the ‘left’ is mostly confined to an extreme fringe.

  147. J., I just submitted the following comment to CC on that thread:

    You quote the following part of the article: “The simplest literary approach is the academic one which posits multiple authors with multiple traditions.”

    But you leave out the next part: “How such an approach meshes with traditionalist belief requires serious thought but it is necessary to start by recognizing the simplicity and straightforwardness of the academic approach.
    Finally, it appears to me that being able to accept that there are contradictory perspectives expressed in the Torah allows us to offer meaningful interpretations of each and to address significant tensions in the text without feeling the need to create hollow apologetic explanations. Think of our other holy texts, the Mishna and the Talmud, for instance. They are filled with debates about Torah principles, and yet we say that eilu ve-eilu divrei Elokim chayim – each position is the word of the Living God. We are a religion that loves incongruity and debate and our Torah study thrives on the productive tension inherent in multivocality and conflicting perspectives.”

    All he seems to be saying is that the simplest explanation is the academic one but he does not accept it but rather says that tradition must respond to these interpretations. There is actually nothing new there but rather it seems to be a simple application of R’ Mordechai Breuer’s approach to parshanut. This approach has been around for a while and has created an entire school of orthodox parshanut that has also been around for a while (michlelet herzog, bet morasha, etc). You can disagree with it, but you can not say it is some new level of “pushing the envelope” that did not exist before. It is rather an application of the approach of R’ Mordechai Breuer, possibly the greatest orthodox mefaresh of the past 50 years.

  148. Chardal – That may have been a plausible interpretation of the quoted article taken by itself but given the following statement in another one from the same series, R. Farber seems to be adopting a rather less Orthodox approach:

    “The challenge of learning Torah in the modern world is balancing an attempt to understand the multivocality of a work redacted from disparate sources with an attempt to understand the final product as it appears in the canonical tradition.”

    Now it may well be that there are rabbis within the mainstream of US MO (or Israeli Dati Leumi) who subscribe to similar beliefs, but shouting it from the rooftops (considering his position within Open Orthodoxy) makes it seem like he’s eager to accelerate the schism.

  149. >“The challenge of learning Torah in the modern world is balancing an attempt to understand the multivocality of a work redacted from disparate sources with an attempt to understand the final product as it appears in the canonical tradition.”

    That is taking it a bit farther than R’ Breuer, but not tremendously farther.

    >Now it may well be that there are rabbis within the mainstream of US MO (or Israeli Dati Leumi) who subscribe to similar beliefs, but shouting it from the rooftops (considering his position within Open Orthodoxy) makes it seem like he’s eager to accelerate the schism.

    Maybe, you really think he wants a schism? MO in the US is pretty dependent on the chareidi world for teachers, sta”m, mila, and pretty much every religious service that religious Jews need. In Israel, the RZ world is completely autonomous in these regards. Why would he of all people want a schism? As far as how far these beliefs have penetrated the mainstream of MO. I think that they have to some extent among the elite – less so among the public. Even those rabbis/scholars who hold this way tend to use more traditional language to describe their ideas.

  150. If he (and his chevreh) cared about preventing a schism, they’d be far more circumspect in their writings and activities. I’m sure he would love to be accepted within mainstream MO circles whilst articulating sentiments that go well beyond what that mainstream regards as the accepted boundaries of belief, but he’s not entitled to expect them to tolerate him. It is exactly the ‘untraditional language’ he uses that makes me wonder what he thinks he is likely to achieve beyond giving the right flank of MO further cause to repudiate him and his movement.

  151. Rabbi Farber is also Dr. Farber – a bible scholar in his own right which has nothing to do with YCT. the “untraditional language” is an outgrowth of his academic background. He is obviously trying to find a new synthesis between academic biblical scholarship (with its tools and methodologies) and orthodoxy. whether he succeeds – and we haven’t seen anything written at length- will be debated.

  152. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-18/it-s-rabbi-versus-rabbi-in-17-billion-dot-kosher-battle.html

    “Five organizations have banded together to oppose the sole applicant for dot-kosher, Kosher Marketing Assets, saying it seeks to profit from a sacred tradition that shouldn’t be over-commercialized.”

    (pots meet kettle?)

  153. MO in the US is pretty dependent on the chareidi world for teachers, sta”m, mila, and pretty much every religious service that religious Jews need. In Israel, the RZ world is completely autonomous in these regards.

    I’m not sure how correct this assumption is in areas of Center-to-Left MO concentration. First, the major Co-ed MO schools with which I am familiar have little/no reliance on the Charedi world. Second, to the extent MO do have reliance on the non-MO world, it is Chabad they turn to. And as many like to point out here, Chabad is not “Charedi” in the way in which most people mean it these days.

    On the day schools, look at the Table 2 in http://avichai.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Census-of-JDS-in-the-US-2008-09-Final.pdf

  154. To test 11:01am, it occurred to me to look at http://www.icja.org/pages/faculty/45.php given that Chicago’s MO demographic seems to be more to the right than Manhattan/Riverdale based on what I understand from Harry Maryles’ blog.

  155. J. – To your schism point, irrespective of what one things of R. Farber’s academic views, it seems to me this demonstrates the point I’ve been making for some time: old-fashioned Modern Orthodoxy has found its mojo and stopped in the foolish belief that it should cave to right for the sake of achdus. The threat of schism is over-rated and it’s the Yeshivish Litvish RWMO now in a weak position, stuck, with no place to go, no leadership and dwindling numbers.

  156. Does anyone take these rantings about the demise of RWMO seriously?

  157. Sass — believe what you want, but look at the numbers in the AviChai survey to see where the kids of RWMO are (answer: increasingly in Charedi schools, like Gil’s kids per what he has told us). Who are the leaders of RWMO? And point to any serious thought leadership for the amcha that is not just derivative RYBS (or older material)?

  158. IH,
    Please don’t group centrist MO with LWMO, in my experience centrists have much more in common with RWMO. I really think you need to get out more if you think LWMO is taking over the MO scene.

  159. R’ Farber newest article on devarim – ibn ezra and the secrets of twelve

    http://thetorah.com/devarim-editorial-comments/

    interestingly its under the section of: parsha tabs: Short observations on the weekly portion to intrigue, challenge and deepen one’s understanding of Torah

    thetorah.com is a new website that tries to integrate torah study with the discipline ofmodern biblical scholarship.

  160. R’ Goldimer squandered any opportunity to raise an appropriate issue with R’ Farber’s remarks: the contours and limits of what is acceptable in orthodoxy of the authorship of the chumash with the appropriate sources. instead he squandered his post on hatred of yct – which has nothing to do with R’ Farber’s approach to text or heresy (notice R’ Farber doesn’t deny the divinity of the torah- too nuanced for R’ Goldimer- but neither does ibn ezra). instead of a discussion on an important topic we have a rant that ends in the the dustbin of typical posts on cross currents – lacking intellectual heft but includes nefarious inferences. paging r’ shafran.

    is it possible to have a real conversation on this issue – or is it a waste of time even to try? I don’t think its yesterday’s battle as more in the orthodox world accept some of the findings of modern biblical scholarship.

  161. ruvie: There is no conversation to be had.

  162. Gil – so where are the lines? you post the arukh ha-shukhan but you wouldn’t say that you hold from it.

  163. I put the line at Mosaic transmission of the Torah text. But the universal line–all Rishonim–is the divine source and accuracy of the Torah.

  164. Where does R’ Farber disputes this (although even the talmud questions kol ot v’ot by saying there were discrepancies of 3 torahs). its how you define torah min hashamyaim at the end of the day – r’ farber never disputes torah min hashamayim to my knowledge). either way its not YCT and not what they teach.

  165. He says that the two texts tell irreconcilable histories. And even if we can reconcile them, we are only dealing with the level of the redactor and not the authors.

  166. >He says that the two texts tell irreconcilable histories. And even if we can reconcile them, we are only dealing with the level of the redactor and not the authors.

    So does R Breuer. He says the Torah is above contradiction.

  167. No, he explicitly rejects R. Breuer:

    “To clarify, I only suggest this at the level of the redaction as a kind of modern midrash. At the level of text composition it makes little sense.”

    “I add this caveat since there are a number of contemporary Torah scholars who are excellent darshanim but who try and present their interpretations as an alternative to the modern academic model and as a defense of the traditional understanding of the composition of the Torah.”

  168. There is actually nothing new there but rather it seems to be a simple application of R’ Mordechai Breuer’s approach to parshanut.

    I suspect R’ Farber would see R’ Breuer as another of the “darshanim” who (in his opinion) don’t even believe what they are saying themselves.

  169. A HUGE difference between R’ Breuer and what’s being discussed here is that R’ Breuer won’t consider for a moment that the Torah wasn’t given in one piece by HKB”H to Moshe. He is very clear about this point. So while some might say that R’ Farber is following in R’ Breuer’s path, to whatever extent that is true is only in the method of technical textual analysis, but not in the all-important religious assumptions with which they approach the text. In my opinion, this is one of the problems with R’ Breuer’s approach –people with less emuna than him may adopt it and end up with VERY problematic ideas.

  170. Farber himself says that he isn’t following R. Breuer et al regarding authorship!!!

  171. Gil — Is Prof. Joshua Berman also beyond your red lines? Is using the word fissures somehow more acceptable?

    Particularly Cassuto believed that many of the “fissures” that are apparent to modern eyes could be re-evaluated with reference to ancient writings and modes of thinking. I’ll give one simple example of this: for well over a century scholars held that the presence of two divine names was ipso facto evidence of two authors with differing theologies. Evidence from the ancient world, however, shows that back then people could refer to the same deity with multiple names, even when it was clear that the composition in hand was the product of a single author.
    Not all seeming discrepancies can be resolved that simply, but I do believe that ancient writings and ways of thinking have much to tell about many supposed “fissures” within the biblical text.
    One of the biggest fissures exhibited in the Torah concerns the narratives of Deuteronomy 1-11. In wholesale fashion, these seem at odds with the narratives depicting those same events in the other books of the Torah. I believe that there is an important literary precedent for this type of writing, and it is the subject of my forthcoming article in the Journal of Biblical Literature, “Deuteronomy 1-3 and the Hittite Treaty Prologue Tradition.”

    For more, including his views on R. Breuer see: https://kavvanah.wordpress.com/2012/10/06/prof-joshua-berman-returns-for-a-follow-up-interview-on-biblical-law/

  172. I have no interesting in judging the kashrus of other people. However, I can say that I have never seen anything from Prof. Berman that struck me as objectionable. And I read both of his books and Prof. Brill’s interview.

  173. J-R Nevenzal has sefarim on Hilcos Shabbos, Pesach, Shavuos and Bein HaMetzarim. There is an editiion of the MB that contains his footnotes as well. All of the above sefarim contain ShuT as well as classical Lomdus and Sichos Mussar. R Nevenzal is well regarded as a chavrusa of RSZA for over 40 years, and as a Talmid Muvhak of RSZA’s views as well. RHS once commented that he was very impressed with RZNG’s sefarim. Of course, R Asher Weiss’s recently published ShuT and his sefarim ofs shiurim on the Yamim Noraim, Sukkos, Chanukah, Purim and Tzomos as well as his sefarim on various Masectos of Shas are quite impressive. I would be remiss if I did not mention that there are many Poskim in the Charedi world whose sefarim are well regarded such as R Wosner’s Shevet HaLevi, as well as the many works of R Nasan Gestetner ZL, as well as R Sternbuch’s Teshuvos vHanhagos, a very different sefer in format and style than Moadim UZmanim.

  174. IH wrote:

    “The threat of schism is over-rated and it’s the Yeshivish Litvish RWMO now in a weak position, stuck, with no place to go, no leadership and dwindling numbers.”

    Proof please? when was the last time that you ever ventured out of the protective cocoon of the UWS to either YU, the Beis Medrash , or any major MO community?

  175. Ruvie-perhaps, the next time that you are in WH, you should pop into the Beis Medrash, and introduce yourself to R Gordimer and join him in the course of night seder. I am sure that he would love to learn with you, as he does with anyone else in the Beis Medrash. You just might realize that your critique of R Goldimer, a wonderful mentsch and Talmid Chacham, especially in contemporary YD issues, was essentially an exercise in stereotypes and urban mythology.

  176. R Farber uses terminology such as “the redactor”? IIRC, R Mosheh Lichtenstein, in an article in a Gush publication , was sharply critical of such terms in place of any reference to HaShem Yisborach.

  177. I would posit as a response to R Farber that Chazal understood that Sefer Devarim or Mishneh Torah, was always considered a Cheftzah of Torah Shebicsav, but understood and darshaned by very different rules such as Smuchin, etc, in the sense that it was a form of Torah SheBaal Peh as well. Take a look at the Netziv in many places in Sefer Devarim where Netziv contends that Moshe Rabbeinu is providing the tools of Torah She Baal Peh to the next generation that would not have his presence as it entered the Land of Israel.

  178. I am not familiar with R D Farber’s doctoral advisor at HU. However, R D D Berger once mentioned to me that it is well known that the academic DL world in Isarel has more than a few people who look as observant as any American MO counterpart, but whose views on Torah Min HaShamayim are decidedly not in accordance with traditional views and who view any questions on the subject as something that is beyond the pale of reasonable discourse.

  179. Steve b. – you of course realize that your post at 9:28pm is just apologetics- but shows there is a difference between devarim and the rest of chumash (in halacha as well i believe- which one would question if hashem dictated the whole torah at once at sinai). but one man’s apologetics is another man’s torah (or kabbat hatorah).

    I am sure r’ gordimer is a talmid chacham and a great guy. my critique is based on what he wrote and the heresy hunting of the article towards YCT (which is not really relevant to this story – but once you are bashing – bash away to anything related to r’ farber – even if he did not learn this stuff at YCT). some can not help themselves when it comes to delegitimizing others and heresy hunting. nu, who says rabbis bring peace into this world?

    it seems r” gordimer posted a comment on his post:
    “I also must make it very clear that my intent was to not personalize this issue; it is the ideas, not the person, that are being challenged. No words of disrespect were uttered regarding the person, although the obligation to address the truth about the ideas at hand cannot be shunned.

    It was extremely painful to write this article; the article underwent more bedikos and scrutiny than one can imagine, and was written and published with great koved rosh, care and trepidation.”

    yea, its not personal its just business. yep a hit job. at least define what is heresy- lets not com0licate the amcha.

    on someone’s facebook page the following comment appeared on this article – with many agreeing:
    ” I guess if my morah in first grade didn’t mention it, it must be heresy. Maybe they should study the history of comments made by our own scholars of previous generations before labeling people heretics. He is by far not the first person to say something like this. Also: why are people spending their time looking for ways to create more strife. Let people dedicate just a little more time to mutual respect and understanding. That can go a lot farther. No one is changing their opinions based on this article. All he’s doing is causing more discord among us.”

  180. However, I can say that I have never seen anything from Prof. Berman that struck me as objectionable.

    Good to hear. So, now, can you articulate why “fissures” is acceptable, but “inconsistencies” makes you go haywire? Surely, you recognize this is just semantics.

  181. It seems Prof. Berman’s article has now been published and I downloaded it from the NYPL, but not yet read it. The opening line reads:

    The many discrepancies between the historical accounts in Deuteronomy 1–3 and the parallel accounts in Exodus and Numbers led classical scholarship to conclude that the author of Deuteronomy could not have intended his work to be read together with those alternative traditions.

    Even you wouldn’t seriously try to argue that “discrepancies” is kosher, but “inconsistencies” is treif.

  182. That isn’t his conclusion. That is his starting point.

  183. Understood, but I am trying to understand the parameters of what you find objectionable in R. Farber’s piece getting past the emotive noise of semantics.

  184. Do you have any red lines? What would you consider heresy? If someone said that a great big monkey wrote the Bible, would you say eilu ve-eilu?

  185. Put another way, if R. Farber were as careful as Prof. Berman to use more emollient language, what is objectionable in the substance of his short piece?

  186. Regarding your comment of 12:07am, it seems to me that you’re the one with the problem. One can’t be partially pregnant. If you’re willing to discuss and consider the academic scholarship, then playing semantic games like “fissures” doesn’t fool anyone.

    [FWIW, in this instance my thinking is more in line with Prof. Berman (following Prof. Cassuto), than with R. Farber’s succinct summary of the academic scholarship; but, I think it is just as threatening to the tradition in substance.]

  187. Your assumption is that the difference is semantics

  188. No, I’m asking you (12:09am): if R. Farber were as careful as Prof. Berman to use more emollient language, what is objectionable in the substance of his short piece?

  189. Steve – My apologies for not expressing myself clearly. I am well aware of Rav Nebenzal’s sefarim, as I am of the others you mentioned – I own some of them myself. My point was that decisions on issues of public interest, at least as far as they are presented to the public, seem nowadays to be more dependent on kol koreis and the like than on clearly articulated halachic discourse and debate.

  190. I thought this might be of interest:
    Interview with MK R Dov Lipman on Koshertube. Asks him a lot of the questions coming from the yeshivish community.

  191. IH, it’s really simple. Berman is talking to heretics, and tries to show how non-heretical conclusions sometimes follow from their assumptions. Farber is talking to believers, and introduces them to heretical concepts for the first time. You see no difference there? I wouldn’t recommend Berman’s articles to the masses – they do contain much discussion of heresy without a conclusive refutation of it all – but neither does Berman recommend it. Farber is a whole different story though.

  192. “R Farber uses terminology such as “the redactor”? IIRC, R Mosheh Lichtenstein, in an article in a Gush publication , was sharply critical of such terms in place of any reference to HaShem Yisborach.”

    Chazal, including the Gemara, makes a number of references to not one but several redactors. They don’t use that term, of course, may not explicitly say that’s what’s going on, and of course don’t go as far as Bible critics do, but it’s very clear that they believe that editing of the text took place years after Moshe, and by humans. Ezra is the one who’s actually named as an editor of the Torah, but others are mentioned as well. (The three sifrei Torah is the most famous story.) Rishonim, of course, reference this as well. You can pasel them, I suppose, but it’s kind of hard to pasel a Gemara that explicitly says that Ezra edited the Torah.

  193. Glatt some questions

    Do you have any red lines? What would you consider heresy? If someone said that a great big monkey wrote the Bible, would you say eilu ve-eilu?
    —————–
    Depends whether or not it was the same monkey who RHS said could read the ketubah 🙂

  194. I refer back to – rehash- marc shapiro’s articles on seforim blog:
    “R. Yuval Sherlo was recently asked if it is acceptable to posit post-Mosaic authorship of passages of the Torah, following in the paths of R. Judah he-Hasid and Ibn Ezra.[5] Rather than reject the latter viewpoint, he claims that it is important to stress the ikkar ha-ikkarim, namely, that the authority of the Torah does not depend on who wrote it. What is crucial is that it was given by God. Even if there are verses that were written by someone else other than Moses, as was held by R. Judah he-Hasid and Ibn Ezra,
    this is not heresy, unless one assumes that these portions were not written through Divine Inspiration.

    Sherlo himself acknowledges that there is a good deal of evidence apparently pointing to the fact that some verses are post-Mosaic.”

    is anyone calling R’ Sherlo a heretic? as i said before the key is divinity or divine inspiration.

  195. Ruvie: Sorry if I was unclear in the MULTIPLE TIMES I wrote this, but the issue we are discussing is the Torah being self-contradictory and incorrect. Please keep that in mind when bringing counter-examples.

  196. Gil – i am referring to r’ gordimer’s post. self contradictory – yes even with one author. that one version is correct and the other version is wrong – as opposed to a different perspective – not convinced of your interpretation of what he said.

  197. it’s really simple. Berman is talking to heretics, and tries to show how non-heretical conclusions sometimes follow from their assumptions. Farber is talking to believers, and introduces them to heretical concepts for the first time.

    Shlomo — that is ridiculous. The logo of the site where R. Farber published his piece is:

    TheTorah.com
    A Historical and Contextual Approach

    It is clearly labeled to warn people limited to Emunah P’shuta. That heresy hunters have advertised as a byproduct of their polemic can hardly be blamed on the site or its authors.

    I would expect that R. Gordimer would find Prof. Berman’s work to be heresy as well, and would exploit it too if/when it serves his agenda.

    I challenge those of you on the warpath to a serious discussion as per my question to Gil last night: if R. Farber were as careful as Prof. Berman to use more emollient language, what is objectionable in the substance of his short piece?

  198. This is a nasty tactic you are taking. But I will not take your bait because you have still not offered your answer to my question. Do you have any red lines? Do you consider the view that a monkey wrote the Torah beyond the pale?

  199. In discussing academic scholarship, I have no red lines. I may agree or disagree, but I am open to new theories. When it comes to beliefs, yes I have red lines: anti-Zionism does not fit in an religious institution with which I can associate.

  200. If we’re dogma testing, in regard to Torah min ha’Shamayim, I am with Prof. Halbertal as I have stated multiple times:

    ראשית, המושג ‘תורה מן השמים’ הוא בעייתי ביותר, גם בהגות ימי הביניים. יש כאן לדעתי לא יותר מאשר ‘מחויבות פונטית’, כלומר להאמין במשהו מילולי, שלא באמת מבינים, וגם לעולם לא נבין עד הסוף. כמו נוסחה מתמטית. ל’תורה מן השמים’ היה מעמד כזה במשך דורות רבים. שנית, אדם לא מאבד את אמונתו בעקבות כך שעובדת היסוד של אמונתו התערערה. כשם שנכנסים לאמונה כך יוצאים ממנה. איש לא נכנס לחיי מצוות עקב אישור אמונת היסוד, ולכן גם היציאה אינה עקב ערעור של אמונת יסוד. צורת החיים הדתית כל כך מעורבבת באמונת היסוד, כמו גשר דו כיווני, לא כמו יסוד לבנין.

    כשבא אלי מישהו ואומר לי: איני מקיים מצוות כי אינני מאמין יותר במתן תורה. אני אומר לו: מה חשבת קודם? מה התעוררת? יש לנוסחה חסינות מסויימת, שאותה מאבדים כאשר מאבדים ענין בתרבות ובמרקם החיים העוטף את האמונה. כאשר אתה בז לזה, אז אתה מתחיל לברר אם ניתנה תורה בסיני. רק זרות מצורת החיים של המצוות, היא המביאה את הערעור על אמונת היסוד.

    or, for those who prefer a more expressive form of the above: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHrgn4k7E20 starting at 21:57 for the last 10 mins of his talk (the specific discussion of the phrase Torah min ha’Shamayim starts at 23:06).

  201. Now, let’s have the serious discussion: if R. Farber were as careful as Prof. Berman to use more emollient language, what is objectionable in the substance of his short piece?

  202. No, it is not a matter of language. It is a matter of ideas. If he had used more emollient language, he might have fooled people and avoided the problems.

  203. And isn’t that what Prof. Berman is doing (perhaps even to himself)?

    Why would God transmit to Moshe on Har Sinai, Torah she’b’chtav in the context of Hittite diplomacy/politics, in their literary style? And, if it is because ha’Torah Nichteva b’Lashon Adam, why would the generation of Ma’amad Har Sinai (one generation after 400 years of slavery in Egypt) care either?

  204. IH: I happen to like Prof. Berman’s theory and see nothing wrong with it theologically. R. Chaim Navon also adopts it in his book Genesis and Jewish Thought.

  205. That’s nice, but answer my question.

  206. “anti-Zionism does not fit in an religious institution with which I can associate.”

    Hmm. Large segments of non-Orthodox Judaism may soon be off limits. Same for the left end of politics generally.

  207. Nachum — I see no contradiction with my statement, but let’s stick with the discussion and not with Gil’s attempts to dodge the issue.

  208. Your question is whether it makes historical sense. That’s a good question but is totally irrelevant to the theological issue at hand.

  209. No, my question is about the critical thinking used to evaluate scholarship. In the case of R. Farber, your opposition is based on what you think the next step is beyond what he wrote; but, when it comes to Prof. Berman, you refuse to engage in the reasonable next step. This selective critical thinking allows you to passul one and assur the other. This is intellectually and theologically dishonest.

  210. passul the one and mutar the other.

  211. No, that is not true. I base my evaluation on R. Farber’s words only, not any extension of them.

  212. But, above you said: “it is not a matter of language. It is a matter of ideas. If he had used more emollient language, he might have fooled people and avoided the problems.

    An idea must be evaluated in terms of its logical progression, no? The Gemara teaches us that methodology par excellence.

  213. I don’t understand what you are saying.

  214. Is it the words or the trajectory of the ideas to which you object in R. Farber’s piece?

    If it is the words, the context in which it was published mitigates.

    And, if it is the trajectory of the ideas, Prof. Berman’s are as theologically fraught as R. Farber’s, if one is being honest.

  215. It is the idea as expressed by the words. I’m done with this discussion. I have little interest in crucifying Zev Farber. But the apologetics and misreadings are aggravating.

  216. I’m not apologizing or mis-reading. I am observing that the methodology used to criticize R. Farber is selectively applied. If Prof. Berman would be thought to be representative of some broader movement, I expect he would be crucified (to use your term) as well.

  217. representative of some broader movement

    That might be true of Gil, but it’s not true of me. When I read R’ Farber’s articles and commenced my head scraching, I had never previously heard of him.

  218. scratching

  219. MiMedinat HaYam

    regarding walking 45 flights of stairs, see http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/national/mayor-michael-bloombergs-new-health-push-take-the-stairs. awaiting cllas action lawsuit for shabbat elevator.

    2. why belong to a shul? its a lousy idea, but what about tuition, etc?

    3. 500 yr old body: “But out of respect to the religious issue, we left the body where it was found,” Albuquerque said. i never understood how they do carbon dating, dna, etc.

    4. mazal tov lacrosse team. the charedi (and MO) community of canada should invite them immediately.

  220. R. Zev Farber in his own words, as collected by Prof. Alan Brill: http://kavvanah.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/rabbi-dr-zev-farber-on-faith-and-biblical-history/

    Note in particular:

    “The same is true of the Torah, I believe, which is the prophetic mode at its most sublime. If there are contradictions which cannot be answered by literary readings, this is because they reflect the respective understandings of different prophets channeling the divine message in their own way; each divine encounter refracts the light of Torah from the same prism but in a distinct way.”

    In other words, the Torah was written by multiple people under prophetic inspiration who, in their humanity, contradicted each other. He also denies that the Patriarchs and Matriarchs existed and that the Exodus occurred.

    Ruvie: Ask R. Cherlow whether he would accept this as a legitimate belief?

  221. http://www.wherewhatwhen.com/magazines/August2013/#p=132

    Sounds like the easier solution is to become a chasid.
    KT

  222. Ah, excellent, so R. Farber explains his own views. But, rather than jumping to your own conclusions, Gil, you can read his own Sof Davar at http://thetorah.com/torah-history-judaism-afterword/

    I look forward to reading his whole article, as well as Prof. Berman’s latest article over Shabbat.

  223. I did, indeed, read his conclusion (which wasn’t part of the unpublished version of this that I had seen). Does this seem familiar?

    “Some of us conceive of revelation as the personal encounter between God and human beings. Among them there are those who believe that this personal encounter has propositional content, that God communicated with us in actual words. For them, revelation’s content is immediately normative, as defined by rabbinic interpretation. The commandments of the Torah themselves issue directly from God. Others, however, believe that revelation consists of an ineffable human encounter with God. The experience of revelation inspires the verbal formulation by human beings of norms and ideas, thus continuing the historical influence of this revelational encounter.”

  224. I am not as plugged in as you and have not yet read the article. And, frankly, I don’t trust your selective quotations on matters such as this. Happy to discuss further after I have read it and, in the same vein, Prof. Berman’s now published article.

  225. My quote above is from the Conservative Movement’s Emet Ve-Emunah, p. 19.

  226. ruvie: “He is obviously trying to find a new synthesis between academic biblical scholarship (with its tools and methodologies) and orthodoxy.”

    He is? What would his “new” synthesis be? Orthopraxy?

  227. My quote above is from the Conservative Movement’s Emet Ve-Emunah, p. 19.

    That only illustrates my point that your bias gets in the way. I didn’t grow up Conservative and it has never resonated for me, but nor do I have any animus toward it. Just because A and B may share some properties, does not equate A and B.

  228. Do you agree that his approach is essentially equivalent to the second view in the quote?

  229. As I said, I’ll be happy to discuss after I read his article and Prof. Berman’s. What the Conservative movement does or doesn’t believe is irrelevant.

  230. Since you mentioned it, I looked up http://www.icsresources.org/content/primarysourcedocs/ConservativeJudaismPrinciples.pdf which I had never seen.

    It is amusing that this 1990 work was championed by the JTS Chancellor Ismar Schorsch — who then, and now, davens in an Orthodox shul.

  231. IH: You should know very well that where you daven does not say much about what you believe. It is to a large extent a social choice.

  232. Indeed, the internecine battles of denominational dogma you are still fighting are irrelevant. Let’s judge the essay in terms of its domain, and not get sidetracked in your personal agenda.

  233. I just had a great idea.

  234. Gil – it would seem from the quote of r’ Sherlo – as long as divinity of the Torah was maintained- maybe yes. For sure, r’ Farber is at the edge of the envelope ( maybe beyond).

    I complained about r’ Gordimer on 2 grounds – 1. What r’ Farber said on devarim and 2. His attack ( as well as your insinuation) on YCT via r’ Farber.

    You still refuse to give a topology of what is beyond the pale or whether you believe in Torah m’sinai – kol ot v’ot. The topic is torah min hashamayim which what we need to believe in – which r’ Farber does- althogh in an inconventional way. I assume that when I read the entire document I will not agree with everything. It would be ashame to exclude him from the conversation. But I expect no less from heresy finders.

    Ftr r’ Farber sums up:

    I believe in Torah Min Ha-Shamayim, that the Torah is from heaven, and that the entirety of the book is nevua (prophecy) and represents the encounter between God and the people of Israel.

    I believe in Torah mi-Sinai, meaning the uniqueness of the Torah as being of a higher order than any other work in its level of divine encounter. The story of the revelation at Sinai in the Torah I understand as a narrative depiction of a deeper truth—the Torah is God’s book and the divine blueprint for Israel and Jewish life.
    I believe that the Torah is meant to be as it is today and that all of its verses, from “Timnah was a concubine” (Gen. 36:12) to “I am the Lord your God,” are holy.

    I believe that halakha and Jewish theology must develop organically from Torah interpretation and not by excising or ignoring any part of the Torah or Chazal’s interpretation.

    The sum of the matter, when all is said and done: Every generation has its challenges, both intellectual and social. As committed observant Jews, it is our job to keep the tradition alive by adapting the message of God to respond to these challenges, without fear and without apology, but with intellectual honesty, ethical sensitivity, and spiritual integrity. We must always be ready to face our Creator and our Torah with open minds and open hearts. Only in this way will we succeed in facilitating the growth of Torah observance in our day and allow the Torah and its message to flourish.”

    Lets not play the game of conservative and other name calling devices popular in orthodoxy. Disagree for sure- but let’s do it in the proper manner.

  235. STBO- orthopraxy? Not at all. Please look up the definition first.

  236. Gil – if you do not believe in any of academic scholarship – you shouldn’t care for his approach. As he said:

    “Beyond strict adherence to halakha, part of being a Torah observant—or Orthodox—Jew is believing in the divinity of the Torah, that the Torah is devar Hashem, the word of God. In this essay I have tried to describe how this is possible while still embracing the findings and methods of modern academic scholarship which appear to me to be convincing.”

    I suspect there are many Orthodox Jews like him that may find this approach interesting. If not, not. Like Ross, kugel, Berman and others he attempting to resolve the impossible ( for some).

  237. Why would you suggest that I don’t believe in any of academic biblical scholarship? I quote it quite frequently on this blog!

    However, I also believe in traditional Judaism. Suggesting that the Torah is historically inaccurate, morally inferior and internally inconsistent is not traditional Judaism. That is what Louis Jacobs taught. Show me where in Marc Shapiro’s book there is precedent for anything like that?

    You can call that Torah Min Ha-Shamayim but then you are just playing with words. I’d like to hear what R. Cherlow has to say about this. I’m pretty sure he will avoid giving a straight answer.

  238. Gil – may be I misunderstood your view – but I didn’t think you accepted or place any value on modern Biblical scholarship especially with regards to Chumash and authorship issues – my assumption is that anything close to theological issues is ignored or apologetics in use ( I say that not in a negative tone but that’s is what many Orthodox Jews do including myself).

    With regards to r’ Sherlo I doubt if he will say anything ( or r’ Shlomo fisher). But this r’ Farber on his own and not YCT. Lets talk about the substance of r’ Farber’s monograph ( I fail to see why I need to disregard exodus etc – to me the proof is more speculative than other stuff ) which should be up to critique without invoking kefirah in every other sentence. Can a real discussion be had – or is it – round up the usual suspects.

  239. Ruvie: I disregard it only (mainly?) in regard to authorship issues. That is not a complete dismissal of academic biblical scholarship.

    I have no interest in critiquing R. Farber’s booklet. I have no interest in discussing it at all. But if people are going to start saying that views like his are acceptable in the Orthodox community, I will protest.

  240. that the Torah is historically inaccurate, morally inferior and internally inconsistent is not traditional Judaism.

    There you go again. I have not yet read R. Farber’s article, but I would bet money that none of these accusations can be made to stick in the manner you imply that is not also true of the academic scholarship you claim to accept (e.g. Prof. Berman).

  241. R. Gordimer has since posted new quotes from Farber proving that the latter’s views are not Orthodox, including this one which can’t be any more explicit:

    “Prophecy does not come as a verbal revelation from God to the prophet, but as a tapping into the divine flow. Even while channeling the divine wrath against the injustice of the rape, the Deuteronomic prophet (i.e. the author of Deuteronomy) was still a human being, his scope remains limited by education and social context. The prophet could not reasonably be expected to work towards correcting faults he did not see.”

    Read more: http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2013/07/18/from-openness-to-heresy/#ixzz2ZWliSeE0
    Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

    The issue is that Farber treats Torah as being on the same revelatory level as neviim and ketuvim, which is to say divinely inspired, but not the direct and infallible Dvar Hashem. But Orthodoxy makes that a very clear distinction between Nakh and Chumash. This means that Farber is certainly religious and a man of faith, just as Conservative rabbis are, but he is not Orthodox. These are two separate issues. The argument is not that he is not sincerely religious. It’s that he’s not Orthodox.

  242. Gil- authorship issues with Chumash only or does that include nach too ( that you disregard). My assumption – maybe incorrectly – is that if disagrees with chazal you disregard even when no theological/kefirah issues involved ( please feel free to to prove me wrong). You would never subscribe to the idea of etiological stories in any parts of tanakh ( maybe not even in talmud).

    Thetorah.com plans to publish critiques of r’ Farber’s monograph from rabbis and scholars. I have no idea what you mean by traditional Judaism – for tradition changes thru time. Tradition on its own is a radical/ novel idea that is not static. Many things started out as non traditional and became part of tradition. Time will tell. As to your claim which IH just posted – not sure if that is accurate to morally inferior etc. for if you do not believe in the literal 6 days of creation than you too believe that the Torah can be ahistorical ( yes r’ Farber does take much farther).

    Shabbat shalom

  243. Ruvie: I have no interest in authorship issues — even when Chazal agree — because I don’t believe the methodologies work.

    If “tradition” is meaningless, then nothing is sacred. Maybe your tradition doesn’t include God at all.

    Are you really willing to consider a Judaism that rejects the Exodus and Ma’amad Har Sinai as historical events?

  244. R’ Joel, Yaakov N — Let’s all read the article as a whole and then discuss.

    Do you have any reason to believe that R. Gordimer would find Prof. Berman’s position, from the end if his article, Orthodox?

    To be sure, the author of Deuteronomy did not expect that a broad readership would be familiar with the niceties of Hittite treaty formulation. My assumption, however, is that the practice of retelling accounts in those treaties is a reflection of what was common practice: when an authority figure—a king in a treaty or a bard in a village—retold a story, his audience focused on how the message had changed, not on the strict factual nature of the claims. Nor should it surprise us that Deuteronomy calls on its readers to access accounts that we find today in the other books of the Pentateuch.

  245. Tradition is not meaningless but cumulative. The tzadokim were traditionalist more so than the rabbis which to me were the left wing radicals of their day. Of course God is involved – there you go again.

    On authorship – rashbi and Zohar for example – methodologies don’t work? Far from it. It would be interesting to know what MBS you accept and disregard and why- another time.
    As I said I have issues with r’ Farber’s piece – especially exodus and har sinai. Doesn’t mean that I will disregard everything he has to say. Also, maybe for many in orthodoxy he has a viable solution – I just don’t know enough and haven’t diligently studied it to really say. There will be plenty of heresy hunters out there for this one. Attack the details if you wish but let’s not get into is this orthodoxy or not – I see no upside and that is how the right shut down ideas.

  246. IH – you keep asking if this Prof. Berman’s views are heresy too, but who cares? How is that relevant? You’d have to ask R. Gordimer. We are discussing Farber and not Berman, since Farber advertises himself as an Orthodox rabbi and Dayyan, is one of the stars of Open Orthodoxy, and heads the Vaad Giyyur of the IRF.

    As for R. Sherlo who is also being brought up, R. Sherlo says that whoever the author of any part of the Torah is, it may be separate authors, but each one wrote through the level of “nevuat Moshe”, meaning the text is the direct dvar Hashem and infallible and does not reflect a flawed human perspective. Farber, OTOH, equates Chumash with the level of Nevuah of regular Neviim and not nevuat Moshe.

  247. Ruvie: I agree with you. R. Farber may have some very useful things to say. I use non-Orthodox Torah commentaries like JPS and even Christian Torah commentaries. But I won’t drink from wine they touch or consider them religious authorities. If Gordon Wenham–a great Christian Bible scholar–wrote a get, I would not consider the couple divorced.

    He is offering a way to reconcile Judaism with modern biblical scholarship and I’m saying he gave up too much Judaism. It is an invalid approach to reconciliation for many religious reasons. Not all approaches are valid. I don’t understand where your relativism is coming from.

  248. R’ Ruvie quoted
    “Ftr r’ Farber sums up:

    I believe in Torah Min Ha-Shamayim, that the Torah is from heaven, and that the entirety of the book is nevua (prophecy) and represents the encounter between God and the people of Israel.

    I believe in Torah mi-Sinai, meaning the uniqueness of the Torah as being of a higher order than any other work in its level of divine encounter. The story of the revelation at Sinai in the Torah I understand as a narrative depiction of a deeper truth—the Torah is God’s book and the divine blueprint for Israel and Jewish life.
    I believe that the Torah is meant to be as it is today and that all of its verses, from “Timnah was a concubine” (Gen. 36:12) to “I am the Lord your God,” are holy.

    I believe that halakha and Jewish theology must develop organically from Torah interpretation and not by excising or ignoring any part of the Torah or Chazal’s interpretation.

    The sum of the matter, when all is said and done: Every generation has its challenges, both intellectual and social. As committed observant Jews, it is our job to keep the tradition alive by adapting the message of God to respond to these challenges, without fear and without apology, but with intellectual honesty, ethical sensitivity, and spiritual integrity. We must always be ready to face our Creator and our Torah with open minds and open hearts. Only in this way will we succeed in facilitating the growth of Torah observance in our day and allow the Torah and its message to flourish.”

    ======================================
    I think someone asked earlier if there are any boundaries – is it the case that as long as someone calls themselves orthodox and claims fealty to the halachic process, they must be accepted as orthodox? We’ve certainly argued here that if one sets a boundary, then who is to say that they themselves won’t be written out by someone else “further right”, yet I can imagine these same debates being had when the original Conservative movement positions were taking form. The dance continues.

    KT

  249. R’ Joel — Read R. Farber’s whole piece before judging or comparing. My initial thinking has been posted on Alan Brill’s blog.

  250. Can one fulfill the numerous mitzvos that are “so that you shall remember the time I took you out of the land of Egypt” if you consider the Exodus mythical?

    If you do not believe that the text itself was revealed, then doesn’t derashah become a mere word game? Doesn’t it reduce the entire concept of Oral Torah from being a creative partnership between G-d and man to a human construct? I think that attributing textual abnormalities to human authorship issues is inherently inconsistent with traditional halachic process.

    The question, therefore, isn’t dependent on that of the Rambam’s 13 iqarim or some derivative thereof; the halachic enterprise will not long stand on this foundation.

  251. Glatt some questions

    Some of Rabbi Farber’s statements certainly seem to be beyond the pale of classic Orthodox belief.

    I only wish that the amount of time and energy we seem to spend writing people out of Orthodoxy would instead be spent on showing others the meaning, beauty, and importance of living an observant life. It would certainly be a more efficient way to promote what we believe in.

  252. You don’t mean that. Our community spends huge amounts of time and money on promoting the beauty of Yiddishkeit — outreach kollels, youth groups, interpersonal encounters, open synagogues, etc. We spend very little on writing people out.

  253. I see you don’t read Yated Ne’eman very often.

  254. Ruvie wrote in part:

    “Steve b. – you of course realize that your post at 9:28pm is just apologetics- but shows there is a difference between devarim and the rest of chumash (in halacha as well i believe- which one would question if hashem dictated the whole torah at once at sinai). but one man’s apologetics is another man’s torah (or kabbat hatorah).

    I am sure r’ gordimer is a talmid chacham and a great guy. my critique is based on what he wrote and the heresy hunting of the article towards YCT (which is not really relevant to this story – but once you are bashing – bash away to anything related to r’ farber – even if he did not learn this stuff at YCT). some can not help themselves when it comes to delegitimizing others and heresy hunting. nu, who says rabbis bring peace into this world”

    ruvie-for those of us who view Kabalas HaTorah and Maamad HaR Sinai as sin qua nons of Torah Judaismm, the term “mere apologetics” is not just offensive, but one that shows a refusal to acknowledge that Moshe Rabbeinu received and transmitted Torah Shebicsav and TSBP. For those who view the same as one of the key Yesodei Emunah, terms like “mere apolgetics” reek of Apikorsus and Kefirah-terms that many and myself do not view as mere intellectual relics deserving of inquiry only by historians interested in the same.

  255. Ruvie wrote in part:

    “Tradition is not meaningless but cumulative. The tzadokim were traditionalist more so than the rabbis which to me were the left wing radicals of their day”

    The Tzadukim cannot be viewed as “traditionalist” because they viewed the Torah Shebicav as not being accompanied by a Divinely Revealed TSBP, and viewed Jewish life as solely capable of revolving the Mikdash.

  256. IH-how does Professor Halbertal claim that Torah Min Shamayim is medieveal in origin R”L, when the Talmud in Bcoros 30b assumes otherwise with respect to what Kabalas Gerim?

  257. Glatt wrote:

    “I only wish that the amount of time and energy we seem to spend writing people out of Orthodoxy would instead be spent on showing others the meaning, beauty, and importance of living an observant life. It would certainly be a more efficient way to promote what we believe in.

    As for what R Gil referred to , see the annexed link. http://summer.ncsy.org/summer-2013/story-718/

  258. For those interested in one of the best movies of the year, which we saw today, see http://www.fillthevoidmovie.com/. Halevai that we would all have an ounce of the Yiras Shamayim and Emunah Pshutah of the Yidden portrayed ( and incredibly so accurately by a secular Israeli cast!) in this wonderful movie.

  259. I think that Yaakov N’s quoted excerpt clinches the case that R Farber’s presentation must be rejected as well beyond the pale of traditional Parshanut and further evidence that the same should be viewed as reeking of apikorsus and kefirah. Only a ‘scholar” who rejects the traditional views of Nevuas Moshe Rabbeinu as opposed to every other Navi, and Chazal’s view that Sefer Devarim is TSBP in the form of Torah Shebicsav with unique rules how to derive halachos could write the following:

    “Prophecy does not come as a verbal revelation from God to the prophet, but as a tapping into the divine flow. Even while channeling the divine wrath against the injustice of the rape, the Deuteronomic prophet (i.e. the author of Deuteronomy) was still a human being, his scope remains limited by education and social context. The prophet could not reasonably be expected to work towards correcting faults he did not see

  260. From Dr. Bill at Cross currents:
    i would suggest having read farber article by article, as he veers further from a classically orthodox stance, his latest listing – what he believes, might help clarify his beliefs. i dare say he writes to attract criticism, probably to skewer the attacker as altogether naive and unsophisticated. a few of his sentences appear to be using the brilliant lecture by prof. halbertal at the ben-gurion conference on the relationship between Jewish belief and madaai yahadut, without the background such an approach requires.
    What he is guilty of, reminiscent of chazal, is discussing publically (and without proper or complete context) what requires training and sophistication that ought not be assumed generally present. i have asked multiple unsuspecting orthodox jews to define torah mi’sinai and all their definitions ascribed to God some level of anthropomorphism. i dare say it is hard not to; try it. for what it is worth, his formulation does not.

    —————————-
    Maybe that describes me – I certainly don’t have that training and when I read it, it sounds very questionable. On that note, I’ll let those with the training debate the issue, but would still wonder where the line is (if there is one)
    KT

  261. Given the various comments in this thread regarding R Farber, whether his words are kefira, and whether or not he represents YCT and/or Open Orthodoxy, this blog post from R Nati Helfgot should be included in the conversation:

    http://morethodoxy.org/2013/07/21/torah-min-hashamayim-some-brief-reflections-on-classical-and-contemporary-models-guest-post-rabbi-nati-helfgot/

  262. It would seem that the theological debate between Rabbis Gordimer and Helfgot is actually rather narrow and is restricted to the degree of legitimacy we should accord to those who maintain the attenuated version of Torah Min Hashamayim tolerated by R. Sherlo and, apparently, R. Shlomo Fisher. Even for R. Gordimer, “there is no definitive conclusion on this specific point as to where acceptable belief ends and heretical belief begins”.

    It is slightly odd that, as R. Gordimer notes, R. Helfgot seems not to address the chasm between this position and the one adopted by one of the leading lights of his movement.

    A further question left unaddressed by either disputant is the degree of certainty required to still be considered ‘within the fold’. Can somebody who thinks there’s a 1% chance that R. Farber is correct still be a kosher witness? How about 10% or 40%? I would imagine that very few human beings are absolutely certain about every one of their beliefs every day of their lives. Does halacha require that we exclude people plagued with such doubts (on any given day) from ritual functions?

    It will be interesting to see whether this debate precipitates a broader split between the various segments of Modern Orthodoxy on this question.

  263. IH wrote:

    “In discussing academic scholarship, I have no red lines. I may agree or disagree, but I am open to new theories. When it comes to beliefs, yes I have red lines: anti-Zionism does not fit in an religious institution with which I can associate”

    the above is what R Meri Shapiro ZL, the founder of DY meant when he observed that American Jews know to make Kiddush, but clearly don’t know to make Havdalah.

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