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R A Gordimer: Belief in Torah Min Ha-Shamayim: Damage Control by YCT
R A Lopatin: Revelation and the Education of Modern Orthodox Rabbis
B Elton: Living by the Word of God
Ask the Rabbi: May one share music or videos on the Internet?
Why are we not talking about animal welfare?
On official trips, PMO doesn’t keep kosher, MK charges
A Brazen Blog About Alleged Child Sex-Abusers in Chabad Community Divides Crown Heights
Polish democracy may make missteps, but its goal of good Jewish relations remains clear
At Western Wall, showdown between two women’s groups
NY landlady sued for removing mezuzah
The Secret Genius of Hasidic Fashion
An open letter to Aharon Friedman
Prof Y Aumann: Where Israel Differs
Confronting and Eradicating Communal Abuse
A Promising Future for Catholic-Jewish Relations
SALT Friday

Protecting Borders and Boundaries
Ultra-Orthodox Candidates Elected as Israel’s Chief Rabbis
R Z Farber: The Torah, TheTorah.com, and the Recent Tumult in Context
R Y Katz: Reflections on Torah Min Hashamayim and its Place in Jewish Thought and Life
The Secret Genius of Hasidic Fashion
A Civil Disagreement About Jews and War
Kosher slaughter ban shows Poland has a Jewish problem
Wedding Dance Banned
Debunking the “Age Gap Theory”…Again
SALT Thursday

Rabbi David Lau voted Ashkenazi chief rabbi; Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef voted Sephardi chief rabbi

Chief Rabbi Sacks: An Assessment
Chief Rabbis, Basketball and Tolerance
Bringing Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox Into Start-Up Nation
Brooklyn D.A. releases names of sex offenders in Orthodox community
U.S. court: Americans born in Jerusalem not from ‘Israel’
OU Critiques Federal Court Ruling in Jerusalem Passport Case
Rabbinical group aims to standardize circumcision in Europe
Kosher Slaughter’s Young Blood
SALT Wednesday

R Adlerstein: Is Heresy Horrible?
When Clarence Darrow Phoned a Talmudist
Rabbi Chaim Rapoport responds to Jewish Chronicle article
Should Churches Stop Sponsoring Boy Scout Troops?
Welcome, Newbies! (ProTips for New Olim)
Eying Orthodox Vote, New York Mayor Candidates Back Aid to Religious Schools
A low attack on same-gender therapy
SALT Tuesday

R Gordimer: Torah Min-Hashamayim: A Reply to Rabbi Nati Helfgot
R Helfgot: Torah Min Hashamayim: Some Brief Reflections on Classical and Contemporary Models
Deuteronomy based on a different Biblical tradition? Simple vs. Simplistic
The Eruv, a Jewish Quantum State | Strange Maps
In appreciation: ‘The Reb,’ R. Moshe Wohlgelernter
America’s Most Saintly City Is New York
Preserving Endangered Jewish Languages Before They Go Extinct
Blood Libel Trial of Century at 100
Jerusalem Gets Very Different Kind of Kabbalat Shabbat
Promising ‘Real Revolution,’ Israeli Jolts Race for Chief Rabbi
Religion & Wikipedia: The ‘Edit Wars’ Rage On
Meet the Hasids: Getting to know the people who scared me
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:

About Gil Student

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

134 comments

  1. The Eruv article is a great find!

  2. Re: Meet the Hasids

    I guess I never thought of asking someone to be a Shabbos Goy as offensive or demeaning – I wonder if this is something we should consider in how we present ourselves to the outside community?

    (Not to discuss the actual halakhot involved…)

  3. r’AJ,
    and if it just makes us look foolish?
    KT

  4. It’s a big issue as well — but I feel like we are generally a bit more attuned to that possibility (at least I am)

  5. Hope nobody minds me pasting my comment to the relevant thread:

    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.

  6. Thank you ye’yasher kochakha R’ J. for the excellent question.

    To answer your question: one who doubts one of the ikkarei emunah would be doubtfully disqualified as a witness, judge, ritual slaughterer and ritual scribe. Since all of these are dinim de-oraita, we would have to invoke the principle that safek de-oraita le-chumra. Shu”t Chatam Sofer, YD 356 (final three paragraphs) writes that the ikkarei emunah requires accepting the historicity of all the events described by Pentateuch, even the events of Parashat Balak which no Jew ever witnessed. See here: http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=1839&st=&pgnum=294
    However, I don’t think that Chatam Sofer would require us to proceed on a police investigation to ascertain that all Orthodox Jews conform to this. “Soklin ve-sorfin al ha-chazakot”, as per the gemara in Kiddushin 80a. Namely, since every Orthodox Jew enjoys a chezkat kashrut, we can simply assume that all Orthodox Jews believe in the ikkarei emunah, and it is not necessary to verify this by personally interviewing every witness, judge, slaughterer or scribe. [I.e. we can have our cake and eat it too, by simply saying “don’t ask, don’t tell.”]

  7. R. Norman Lamm, in his essay (and book) Faith & Doubt, argues that doubt does not constitute denial. I believe R. Yehudah Amital has written similarly.

  8. Shades of Gray

    “Does halacha require that we exclude people plagued with such doubts (on any given day) from ritual functions?”

    Lo shavkis chaya lichol berya. Logically, it could depend on how fused people are with doubts and whether it affects the ritual functions.

    One issue is if its OCD, as I’ve seen R AJ Twerski note in Hamodia. If it’s emotional, aderaba, it may shows an inclination for strong emunah, although it may be unprodocutive in the long run.

    On page 141 of “Religious Compulsions and Fears”(see also review in Jewish Action) Dr. Avigdor Boncheck writes,

    “…As we grow up, we begin to be aware of other perspectives on many life issues…it is for this reason that the Rambam wrote Moreh Nevuchim…so investigating and questioning one’s faith is a natural stage into developing into a faithful believer in Torah and Judaism.”

    Prof. Marc Shapiro discusses this on a Torah In Motion Audio(“Shapiro and Kellner : Are There Things A Jew Must Believe”; 36:56 on tape):

    “We don’t have inquisitions, we don’t try to put people on the stake to find out what they believe…If you live as a Jew, and you are not disturbing the Jewish community, we’ve always welcomed everyone into the synagogue…Plenty of people including, I have no doubt, great sages have harbored doubts about all sorts of things…If you publicly came out preached heresey and especially tried to get people to follow you…it’s no difference than a Zakein Mamre.. that’s a problem for the community…”

    (R YY Weinberg is one example of “great sages have harbored doubts about all sorts of things”)

    Excerpts from notes in “The Modern Orthodox Response to Orthopraxy”(see article in full):

    R. Lichtenstein agreed that “one cannot be yotse [with an Orthoprax Jew’s] Kiddush.”

    “R. Lichtenstein stated that each Orthoprax Jew must be judged individually: one legitimately influenced by the Zeitgeist could be considered a tinok she-nishbah, while one who lived solely in the “Yeshivah World” until his exposure to biblical criticism might not. By the preceding, it seems clear that the vast majority of Orthoprax Jews, at least in the Modern Orthodox community, fall under the former category.”

  9. I discussed R. Lamm’s position here: https://www.torahmusings.com/2007/06/doubt-as-belief/

  10. Shades of Gray

    The challenge perhaps becomes to take a firm stance against ideas while keeping in mind the challenge of the intellectual issues themselves. There is a difference between declearing lettuce with bugs as unkosher and dealing with ideas. The intellectual response of Orthodoxy is the other side of the coin to making statements. That side of the coin can be dealt with directly or indirectly on a public level(as R. Carmy notes re Tanach education), somewhat like as on an individual level(eg, thinking of other things, verus countering an idea).

    Perhaps this is effected by contexts which can change. For example, in “Torah im Derekh Erez in the Shadow of Hitler”, Prof. Marc Shapiro shows how the situation then affected applying RSRH’s ideas to the time(he quotes for example the writings of R. Shimon Schwab). Similarly, there can be various other social and historical contexts(hopefully positive) that can affect the allure of ideas, which are subject to Divine control, therefore it’s impossible to make predictions. Nevertheless, in the present time, my guess is that one needs to be concerned with taking a stance, as well as dealing with an issue intellectually.

    Another part is, many people don’t have a firm grounding in traditional sources as Rabbi David Steinberg noted on the website.

  11. I thank our Rosh Yeshiva R. Student for his kind response. I would understand that Moreinu ve-Rabbeinu Ha-Rav Ha-Ga’on R. Lamm is referring specifically to the pedagogical problem of how to educate high school students who harbor doubts. This is the psychologically natural disposition of teenagers, and Ha-Rav Ha-Ga’on R. Lamm is reassuring high school students (correctly so, of course) that they are not automatically barred from the World to Come just because they entertain doubts. After all, “harbeh yaldut osah”, as per the mishnah in Sotah 7a, viz. teenagers are psychologically pre-programmed by Heaven to behave (and think) in a manner which is unacceptable to Orthodox Jews over the age of twenty. [This is presumably the reason why the Heavenly Court – in its perfect justice – does not judge a person until the age of twenty.] So I think there is no contradiction between the words of Moreinu ve-Rabbeinu Ha-Rav Ha-Ga’on R. Lamm and the words of Chatam Sofer, who writes explicitly that even to be “mistapek” (i.e. doubt) regarding the veracity of the episode of Balak is prohibited.

  12. Gil – thanks.

    I wonder if we can interpret the IRF’s silence at what would seem to be its “Jacobs moment” as acquiescence.

  13. Shades of Gray

    Somewhat related, in ‘We Desperately Need To Get Back To Theology’: An Interview with Rabbi Chaim Miller(Jewish Press 12/09)he was quoted re clarifying beliefs:

    “Maybe in the Modern Orthodox community. To their credit, they’re the only ones who are really thrashing out these issues, trying to get to the bottom of them.”

    See inteview:

    http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/we-desperately-need-to-get-back-to-theology-an-interview-with-rabbi-chaim-miller/2009/12/02/0/?print

  14. “I wonder if we can interpret the IRF’s silence at what would seem to be its “Jacobs moment” as acquiescence.”

    This is silly. Does the RCA respond to everything one of its members posts in a blog? Does YU respond to everything one of its musmachim says in a blog? No one ever suggested that R Farber was representing YCT, the IRF, or anything beyond himself. Note, of course, a blog post from a prominent member of the IRF, who is also a member of the RCA, and chair of the Tanakh department at YCT in the links above.

  15. It’s not silly at all. He’s the Coordinator of their Vaad HaGiyur. If they don’t remove him from his position then they are quite simply no longer an exclusively Orthodox rabbinic organisation.

  16. Shades of Gray

    Obviously, the IRF has to deal with this. However, the IRF geirus is already an issue with the RCA/GPS and with the Israeli rabbinate. How much worse does this make it than before?

    (Personally, I would advise R. Farber to back down from his ideas and say “tazrich iyun” and start his writings again, bringing up the exact same issues which are on his mind, if he likes. Maybe there is something in between ignoring an issue– not acknowledging what you think are the gravity of the challenges– versus kefirah.

    (As an analogy, R. Shlomo Miller wrote re R. Slifkin

    ואם יש קושיא שאינו יודע תירוץ, צריך להודות שלא זכיתי להבין דבריהם
    וכמו שעשו גדולי ישראל בכל הדורות כשהי’ להם קושיא על הגמרא כי לא
    דבר רק הוא מכם, אם רק הוא מכם שאינכם מבינים

  17. MiMedinat HaYam

    ” it is not necessary to verify this by personally interviewing every witness, judge, slaughterer or scribe. [I.e. we can have our cake and eat it too, by simply saying “don’t ask, don’t tell.”] ”

    in the case of a dayan or witness, a (potential) litigant has the right to question this, esp if relevant to his / her case and / or (prob more important) reflect on general acceptance of the psak. (similar with a slaughterer or scribe, if it will reflect on the general acceptance of the hashgacha / shul using such a sefer torah / or the agency certifying such a shochet or scribe.)

  18. he’s also on yeshivat maharat’s advisory board. he’s not considered a stam rabbi/graduate/member in the “open orthodox” community.

  19. I don’t care about R. Dr. Farber’s views one iota, but I wonder what kind of communal -not intellectual- values Chovevei is inculcating in its graduates. Is open orthodoxy a real community or a confederation of individuals with somewhat overlapping left of center viewpoints? I suspect it is the latter, which is disappointing for people like me who wish that it did possess some coherent communal identity.

    To that end I suggest that Chovevei put the following to its prospective students.

    1) If you have views which you know to be completely unacceptable to our community DON’T become a rabbi.

    2) If you value your personal freedom of unfettered inquiry that is afforded by academia more than the value of communal identity DON’T become a rabbi.

    3) If you would like to be able to speak solely for yourself and not for your community, rabbinical colleagues, or alma matter DON’T become a rabbi.

    4) If you happen to find that you have become a rabbi please remember that the virtue of intellectual honesty and free expression does not trump one’s communal obligations.

    5) Being a communal leader means that you cannot have it both ways. Sorry.

    6) The word doxa derives from dokein which connotes seeming or appearing. If you can’t keep to the doxa, try to stick with the dokein.

  20. A few points:

    1. Someone I know recently put a post on Facebook about some Judaism-related accomplishment of his. A friend of his replied “The Rebbe would be proud of you.”

    The original poster happens not to be a Chabadnik, which makes the reply somewhat arrogant in my eyes, but that’s not the major issue.

    The major issue is this: I hope I’m not beating a dead horse when I point out that we’re all agonizing over what are basically minor details of the 8th Ikkar when there’s at least one major body in Judaism which has major issues with numbers 1-5 (which then spills over into almost every other one, with one ironic exception being 8.) Sometimes I wonder if there are Messianic “Jews” (or at aleast garden variety Christians) out there who have *less* issues with these. But hey, they have beards, blacks hats, wigs, and long dresses, and they do so much good, and where are you gonna eat when you’re in Thailand or need kosher meat even back in civilization? So monotheism, that old thing, slides away, and we hairsplit about how things are “stupid” but not “assur,” and wondering if parts of the Torah were written, say, 2600 years ago instead of 3300 becomes the battlefield.

    2. Years ago, I learned most of Neviim with a private rebbe. (My bar mitzvah rebbe, in fact, a perfectly frum and very learned individual.) Nothing too wild, text and Rashi and Metzudot, but invaluable. When we got to last week’s haftarah, he casually mentioned that there are people who say that Sefer Yishayahu, from that point on, was written by someone else, and as we learn it, I’d see why they say that. He never said whether he felt they were right or wrong- for all I know, he *didn’t* agree. Nor did he ever bring it up again, and I’m not sure I saw the supposed evidence as we went on. Nor, at that age, did I really understand what he was saying.

    But looking back on it, I think I pick up his implied statement: “…and if you happen to think that, well, it’s OK to have such thoughts. I’m not going to tell you they’re wrong.” And that has served me well.

    Here’s my point: Believing “heretical” things about Tanach authorship is something people are going to do. They certainly have logical grounds to do so. And try as we might, many of them are not about to reject those beliefs based on the standard, or even non-standard, arguments, and certainly not based on arguments about faith or kefirah. And as Jack Nicholson would say, someplace you don’t talk about at parties, you need people on that wall. People who daven three times a day, teach in universities, at the very least are very well versed in all these theories- far better than the posers on the internet- who may even believe in them- or may not- but who basically say, if not explicitly, “It’s OK for you to think about these things. Maybe even believe in them, maybe not, but you can at least look to me as a religious person who actually deals with these issues.”

    And people *want* someone to look to. I’ve already written here of my discovery of this fact, when Kugel spoke at Stern on the most pareve topic you can imagine and the room was packed with undergrads who basically wanted to see him and know it was OK.

    Anyway, I admit this doesn’t contribute to the whole debate’s substance, and I’m not sure I disagree with anyone here. But it’s worth it to keep it in mind.

  21. By way, as someone who lives not far from the old Jerusalem train station and has even walked through on Shabbat, I have to say it’s a touch of genius. It’s a perfect location- very accessible and yet surrounded by non-residential areas all around- for secular people, and even religious people, to enjoy themselves on Shabbat without getting anyone offended. So far the whole “experiment” seems to be going very well, and the area has been very nicely developed to boot.

  22. [My comment to Rav Gordimer’s latest blog post (which the censors of Cross Currents have seen fit not to publish):]

    Perhaps the commenters do not realize the extent to which some supposedly “fringe” ideas are accepted by leading talmidei hakhamim. My ram at the Israeli yeshiva I attended — a brilliant talmid hakham if there ever was one — noted in one of his many hashqafa shi’urim that it is the Gra’s position that we (Torah-observant Jews) would not be bothered if the stories in Sefer Bereishit — including the mabul and the narratives of the Avot — are not historical, because their core purpose is to convey halakhic and moral teachings. I have never seen this Gra “inside,” and so cannot speak to the accuracy of my Ram’s citation, but the mere fact that he propounded the view is a commentary on where our “mainstream” thinkers really stand on these issues. And I can assure you, they do not knuckle under to ArtScroll theology.

  23. i think that there is a genuine and significant difference between living with doubt and uncertainty to questions that have bothered and wracked the brains of the greatest Rishonim, Acharonim and Baalei Machshavah in Yahadus, and openly and unabshedly arriving at answers to tough questions that show a calculated lack of willingness to live in doubt and without answers to some questions that simply have had no “questions” and probably don’t have answers until the time that Tisbi Yetarez Kushyos vAbayos.

  24. Josh-just curious-how did your RaM understand and explain the Midrash Tanchuma cited by Ramban that Maaseh Avos Siman LaBanim?

  25. Steve Brizel on July 23, 2013 at 8:57 pm
    “Josh-just curious-how did your RaM understand and explain the Midrash Tanchuma cited by Ramban that Maaseh Avos Siman LaBanim?”

    Can’t say I recall him discussing it. His point was not that the stories of the Avot are definitively ahistorical, but rather that our emuna would not be shaken if they were, as the Torah did not include them for their historicity, but rather for their halakhic and moral import (akin to Rambam’s view that some elements of the Gan Eden narrative are allegorical, see Guide II, 29). I agree with you that this does not comport with Ramban’s approach of “maaseh avot siman le-banim”–viz., that the accounts of the Avot are a microcosm of Jewish history, and that the effects of those events reverberate to our very day (e.g., the way that Avraham’s banishment of Hagar and Yishmael resulted in Muslim persecution of the Jewish people). Such an approach is necessarily predicated on the historicity of the Torah’s accounts of the Avot.

  26. Thank you and ye’yasher kochakha, R’ Josh. I examined that chapter of Moreh Nevuchim, and indeed it indicates that the prophecies of Isaiah can be understood allegorically (analogous to the approach to Isaiah that Rabbeinu Nachum presented earlier), but I do not see Rambam allegorizing any events in the Sefer Torah. Thus, it seems to me that there is no contradiction between Rambam and Chatam Sofer, the latter having clearly insisted on the historicity of all events described by the Sefer Torah, including the Gan Eden episode.

  27. Derekh agav, R. Hershel Schachter claims that the Rav zatza”l prohibited attributing dual authorship to Isaiah. However, since the topic is not discussed by Rambam’s Ikkarei Emunah or by Chatam Sofer, I do not feel there is any obligation for me to confirm R. Schachter’s claim. (I don’t deny it either. I am simply not in the parashah…)

  28. Shalom Spira- Using the Friedlander translation, which is available for free online:

    “First, the account given in Scripture of the Creation is not, as is generally believed, intended to be in all its parts literal. For if this were the case, wise men would not have kept its explanation secret, and our Sages would not have employed figurative speech [in treating of the Creation] in order to hide its true meaning, nor would they have objected to discuss it in the presence of the common people. The literal meaning of the words might lead us to conceive corrupt ideas and to form false opinions about God, or even entirely to abandon and reject the principles of our Faith. It is therefore right to abstain and refrain from examining this subject superficially and unscientifically. We must blame the practice of some ignorant preachers and expounders of the Bible, who think that wisdom consists in knowing the explanation of words, and that greater perfection is attained by employing more words and longer speech. It is, however, right that we should examine the Scriptural texts by the intellect, after having acquired a knowledge of demonstrative science, and of the true hidden meaning of prophecies. But if one has obtained some knowledge in this matter he must not preach on it, as I stated in my Commentary on the Mishnah (Ḥagigah, ii. 7), and our Sages said distinctly: From the beginning of the book to this place–after the account of the sixth day of the Creation–it is “the glory of God to conceal a thing” (Prov. xxv. 2).

    We have thus clearly stated our opinion. It is, however, part of the Divine plan that every one who has obtained some perfection transmit it to some other persons, as will be shown in the chapter on Prophecy. It is, therefore, impossible for a scholar to possess knowledge of these problems, whether it be through his own researches or through his master’s teaching, without communicating part of that knowledge to others; it cannot be done in clear words; it must be done sparingly byway of hints. We find in the words of some of our Sages numerous hints and notes of this kind, but mixed up with the words of others and with other subjects. In treating of these mysteries, as a rule, I quote as much as contains the principal idea, and leave the rest for those who are worthy of it.

    Secondly, the prophets employ homonymous terms and use words which are not meant to be understood in their ordinary signification, but are only used because of some other meaning which they admit, e.g., “a rod of an almond-tree (shaked),” because of the words which follow, “for I will hasten (shaked)” (Jer. i. 11, 12), as will be shown in the chapter on Prophecy. According to the same principle Ezekiel in the account of the Divine Chariot employs, as we have stated the term ḥashmal (Ezek. i. 4); also regel egel (v. 7), neḥoshet kalal (v. 7), and similar terms; Zechariah (vi. 1) likewise adopts this method, and says: “And the mountains were mountains of neḥoshet (brass),” and the like.”

  29. I’m not sure about the Torah, but I believe the Gra says that Yonah is akin to Shir HaShirim- that is, both stories (in both cases involving people who actually lived) that are actually allegorical. Of course, the Gemara itself says the same about Iyov, and others extend it to other parts of Ketuvim.

    Shalom Spira: “Paskening” such is problematic on so many levels, both general and specific to that case.

    I think it was while learning the Kuzari, but we openly asked our rebbe in YU about the Torah’s historicity; he said that a general approach is that anything up to Ma’amad Har Sinai can be allegorical. I’m certain he didn’t believe this himself, but was giving us “red lines,” so to speak. (I heard more radical ideas in YU connected to Har Gerizim and Har Eval, but I’m trying to stay as mainstream as possible here.)

  30. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/24/books/a-religious-legacy-with-its-leftward-tilt-is-reconsidered.html?_r=0

    For decades the dominant story of postwar American religious history has been the triumph of evangelical Christians. Beginning in the 1940s, the story goes, a rising tide of evangelicals began asserting their power and identity, ultimately routing their more liberal mainline Protestant counterparts in the pews, on the offering plate and at the ballot box.

    Any parallels within Yiddishkeit?
    KT

  31. “Brooklyn D.A. releases names of sex offenders in Orthodox community”

    a new York times investigation tried to track down arrests that hynes claimed were connected to kol tzedek. it identified half of the arrests and determined that half of them had nothing to do with kol tzedek. so when hynes claims that “Calls to Kol Tzedek have resulted in 25 convictions,” is he cooking the books here too?

  32. MiMedinat HaYam

    israeli chief rabbi vote split between two DL candidates. charedim win. (nachum’s correct argument when electioneering started.)

  33. “The Rebbe would be proud of you.”

    I see no problem here. “The Rebbe is proud of you” would be a problem. But there’s nothing wrong with saying a righteous person from the past would have liked your actions were he still alive.

  34. Thank you and ye’yasher kochakha, Rabbeinu Nachum. I concede to you and fully agree with you that one may allegorize all the books of Nevi’im and Ketuvim. I can’t say the same, though, for the Sefer Torah, because I don’t feel there is sufficient evidence to overturn the Chatam Sofer. Clearly, R. Moshe Feinstein, Iggerot Mosheh YD 3:114, felt that the Ikkarei Emunah do represent a halakhic issue, although R. Feinstein did render several errors in that responsum (e.g. his specious attack on Binyan Yehoshua commentary to Avot de-Rabbi Natan 34:4).

    R’ Jlan,
    Thank you for the complete citation of Moreh Nevukhim. Indeed, this very passage in Moreh Nevukhim serves as the focus of the AIA vs. RCA debate regarding whether evolution can be harmonized with Genesis. See Jewish Observer (May 2006), p. 18. In any event, Rambam’s remarks are limited to Creation, and so would presumably not affect the historicity of events that occurred after Creation. Actually, Chatam Sofer specifically refers to the fact that Adam saw how he was born without parents, although it is a little disappointing that Chatam Sofer neglected to discuss Moreh Nevukhim in this responsum. [It’s not as though Chatam Sofer was oblivious to Moreh Nevukhim; his brain death responsum (YD 338) is chock-full of Moreh Nevukhim!] Tzarikh iyun…

  35. Since not everyone may possess a copy of Jewish Observer (May 2006), responding to the RCA statement of Dec. 25, 2005 [available at http://www.rabbis.org/news/article.cfm?id=100635 ], allow me to quote the Jewish Observer passage. [N.B. I am not presently taking sides on the AIA vs. RCA debate, since ve-amekh kulam tzaddikim.]

    “The RCA statement quotes Maimonides as saying that “what the Torah writes about the account of creation is not all to be taken literally, as believed by the masses”,” which seems to imply that the Rambam could also accept evolutionary theory. This is completely false and misleading. The Rambam states specifically (Moreh Nevukhim II, Ch. 30) that the description of Creation given in the Torah was in logical order and he explains why exactly that order was followed. He also quotes there the Gemara in Rosh Hashana referred to above [viz. 11a (-S. Spira’s editorial comment)], which states that all of Ma’asei Bereishis were created in their full dimensions, in their complete form, and in their most beautiful appearance.
    The quote from the previous chapter in Moreh Nevukhim in the RCA statement is completely out of context. There the Rambam is referring to the secrets of Ma’asei Bereishis, which the Mishna in Chagiga (11b) warns are not to be publicly expounded, but only revealed to a single person at a time. The correct understanding of the Rambam’s statement is not that what it says in the Torah concerning Creation is not to “be taken literally.” What he is saying is that it should not be understood as simply as common people would understand it. There is much more hidden in it. “For if it would be so (simple), wise men would not conceal it, and the Chachamim would not use allegories in order to hide it, and would not have prohibited speaking of it before the masses.” (For a clear understanding of the Rambam’s statement, see Mishna [sic] Torah, Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah IV: 10-13.”

  36. I wonder how many of our Israeli chevrah are happy about the Chief Rabbi results.

  37. Josh wrote in response:

    “Can’t say I recall him discussing it. His point was not that the stories of the Avot are definitively ahistorical, but rather that our emuna would not be shaken if they were, as the Torah did not include them for their historicity, but rather for their halakhic and moral import (akin to Rambam’s view that some elements of the Gan Eden narrative are allegorical, see Guide II, 29). I agree with you that this does not comport with Ramban’s approach of “maaseh avot siman le-banim”–viz., that the accounts of the Avot are a microcosm of Jewish history, and that the effects of those events reverberate to our very day (e.g., the way that Avraham’s banishment of Hagar and Yishmael resulted in Muslim persecution of the Jewish people). Such an approach is necessarily predicated on the historicity of the Torah’s accounts of the Avot.

    It is hard to believe that your rebbe presented only the MN’s views on such a subject without considering the view of Ramban. Take a look at R D Holzer’s Thinking Aloud on Sefer Breishis where RYBS mentioned that Ramban offered a far more Jewish POV on all issues of Hashkafa than the MN.

  38. “The Rebbe would be proud of you.”
    I see no problem here. “The Rebbe is proud of you” would be a problem. But there’s nothing wrong with saying a righteous person from the past would have liked your actions were he still alive.

    I had the same reaction. The statement is akin to saying “Your grandfather/grandmother would be proud [if he/she were alive].”

  39. AJ wrote:

    Re: Meet the Hasids

    I guess I never thought of asking someone to be a Shabbos Goy as offensive or demeaning – I wonder if this is something we should consider in how we present ourselves to the outside community

    I was born and raised in the Catskills, which were then becoming the summer home of the Charedi community. The interaction between the long time local residents , Jewish and Gentile, and the Charedi community, and their acceptance thereto, which was not helped by the use of stereotypes about each other, instances of probematic business conduct, a very different approach to life, and leaving summer residences like a dump was aided by many members of the local, traditional yet not Torah observant community in the area.

  40. I wonder how many of our Israeli chevrah are happy about the Chief Rabbi results.

    For the next 10 years the rabbinate will be about as wasteful and counterproductive as normal. I expect somewhat less scandals with these two than the previous two. The big deal is that R’ Eliyahu’s election and the resulting chilul hashem did not take place. I liked R’ Stav better than R’ Lau, but there’s a reasonable argument to be made that the sooner the DL community realizes that it has to get rid of the rabbinate the better, and another charedi victory will make this happen sooner.

  41. >I wonder how many of our Israeli chevrah are happy about the Chief Rabbi results.

    I fear this maybe the last elections for the chief rabbinate. The chareidim may have finally succeeded in destroying it.

  42. I fear this maybe the last elections for the chief rabbinate. The chareidim may have finally succeeded in destroying it.

    Is that a bad thing? The only thing I’m sure it’s needed for is divorce, and a much smaller organization could handle that.

  43. Shlomo: I think the point you’re missing is that it *could* be much more, and won’t. As to R’ Eliyahu, you know what? I’d take someone the delicate PC souls don’t like over a corrupt political party any day.

    So, Joseph: Not at all. Worst of both worlds. Note they had the exact same number of votes.

    Shlomo and Tal: You’re missing the point. First, as I said, she wasn’t saying this to a Chabadnik. Second, if you hear Chabadniks talk, they say “Do this mitzvah for the Rebbe” or “The Rebbe would be proud” in *place* of God. It’s very troubling.

  44. Shlomo: I think the point you’re missing is that it *could* be much more, and won’t.

    And mashiach could come.

  45. First, as I said, she wasn’t saying this to a Chabadnik. Second, if you hear Chabadniks talk, they say “Do this mitzvah for the Rebbe” or “The Rebbe would be proud” in *place* of God. It’s very troubling.

    So she was a little too enthusiastic about her rebbe, just like us and The Rov sometimes :). Meanwhile, some OTHER Chabadniks have actually theologically troubling beliefs. Beliefs which still in the vast majority of cases, are nonetheless much less problematic than what Farber has openly professed.

  46. Nachum wrote in part:

    “The major issue is this: I hope I’m not beating a dead horse when I point out that we’re all agonizing over what are basically minor details of the 8th Ikkar when there’s at least one major body in Judaism which has major issues with numbers 1-5 (which then spills over into almost every other one, with one ironic exception being 8.) Sometimes I wonder if there are Messianic “Jews” (or at aleast garden variety Christians) out there who have *less* issues with these. But hey, they have beards, blacks hats, wigs, and long dresses, and they do so much good, and where are you gonna eat when you’re in Thailand or need kosher meat even back in civilization? So monotheism, that old thing, slides away, and we hairsplit about how things are “stupid” but not “assur,” and wondering if parts of the Torah were written, say, 2600 years ago instead of 3300 becomes the battlefield”

    Look at it this way-I suspect that many would find the Shechita of a Messianist and R Farber equally objectionable. Yet, when push comes to shove, there is no bigger portal into Torah observance than Chabad in the world. I would clearly recommend that a student on a college campus have a Shabbos meal at a Chabad shliach’s home than in a Hillel house for a first time exposure to Kedushas Shabbos.

  47. I kind of get the impression that pretty much everone respects former Ashkenazi chief rabbi R YM Lau. (Probably because 1: He’s Lulek from Buchenwald 2: he doesn’t say very many politically explosive things.) Is that true? And what’s the matzav with his son?

  48. From R Aviner:

    http://www.ravaviner.com/2013/07/shut-sms-217_24.html

    “Charedi Torah Scholars

    Q: Why are there more Charedi Torah scholars than Religious Zionist Torah scholars?

    A: Because Charedi Torah scholars began 2000 years ago, and Religious Zionist Torah scholars began 100 years ago, but the quantity and quality grows at an incredible pace”

  49. MiMedinat HaYam

    shaul s — not because of your #1, but cause he’s a class act (which is more like your #2)

    the son is not inherently problematic, but he’s too subservient to the charedi powers that be. (and that is one of the potential problems — the upcoming power struggle within the charedi community.)

    as for rav aviner — i respectfully disagree. RZ Torah scholars = Charedi Torah scholars 100 years ago. its the charedim that separated from the norm, not the RZ.

    suggestion for the two newly elected — stake out an independent program, much as what r sacks did. of course, they cant / wont be independent cause of various factors, charedi powers being the most divisive factor.

  50. “So she was a little too enthusiastic about her rebbe, just like us and The Rov sometimes :).”

    I have never heard a Modern Orthodox Jew say “Do this mitzvah for the Rav.”

    “Beliefs which still in the vast majority of cases, are nonetheless much less problematic than what Farber has openly professed.”

    Really? I find pantheism, or whatever it is, much more problematic. God warns us over and over not to worship false gods. He never warns us against Biblical criticism.

    “Yet, when push comes to shove, there is no bigger portal into Torah observance than Chabad in the world.”

    Steve: You just proved my point. They’ve made themselves indispensable, so we turn a blind eye to the mishegas and heresy.

    “I would clearly recommend that a student on a college campus have a Shabbos meal at a Chabad shliach’s home than in a Hillel house for a first time exposure to Kedushas Shabbos.”

    You mean, over R’ Farber’s home?

    “And what’s the matzav with his son?”

    First, the elder R’ Lau has, it’s become clear, made a lot of friends over the years. It’s telling that Netanyahu stayed quiet this whole time and after the election mentioned that he had been his mesader kiddushin. Take that for what it implies.

    Second, his son cut a deal with Shas. Take that for what *it* implies.

    “Because Charedi Torah scholars began 2000 years ago”

    Wow. I have no doubt R’ Aviner believes this, and it’s very telling. Here’s my answer: “Who says there are more Charedi Torah scholars? All of the prominent charedi scholars seem older than charedism itself.”

  51. PS: Making friends does not imply he’s not a class act. I know he is.

  52. I wonder how many of our Israeli chevrah are happy about the Chief Rabbi results.

    i am not crushed by it. rav lau isn’t the chareidi puddle that he was made out to be. i also am not sure that the rabbinate is going anywhere soon. the same people predicting that it is going to end are the ones who predicted or wanted rav stav’s victory.

  53. And what’s the matzav with his son?.

    his son is, according to everyone, a wonderful community rabbi who knows how to get along with everyone (except non-orthodox rabbis).

  54. Because Charedi Torah scholars began 2000 years ago, and Religious Zionist Torah scholars began 100 years ago, ”

    satmar couldn’t have put it better.

  55. >i am not crushed by it. rav lau isn’t the chareidi puddle that he was made out to be.

    Time will tell. He is definitely not going to make any moves that will make the rabbinate anything more than a nuisance for non-orthodox Jews over the next 10 years.

    >i also am not sure that the rabbinate is going anywhere soon. the same people predicting that it is going to end are the ones who predicted or wanted rav stav’s victory.

    I wanted rav stav’s victory but did not predict it (I know that the majority of the voting body is pretty much controlled by shas). Whether the rabbanut will end will only depend one one thing, if the non-orthodox Jews in Israel can get enough political power to either dismantle it or completely reform it. Either way, the status quo make it one of the most hated institutions in Israel, the chilonim hate it because it makes their lives harder and is seen as inherently unjust. The RZ hate it because it is controlled by the chareidim. And the chareidim hate it because they hate the state.

    It may last another 10 years, but by then it may be completely irrelevant. And I say this with sadness.

  56. http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2013/07/25/meet-the-new-chief-rabbi/#respond
    ======================
    Should I be hurt by the disappearance of my comment that R’ Pruzansky not neing interested in the politics was a change of pace?
    KT

  57. “To be clear: I believe in Torah Min Ha-Shamayim, that the Torah embodies God’s encounter with Israel. I believe in Torah mi-Sinai, the uniqueness of the Torah in its level of divine encounter. I believe that the Torah is meant to be as it is today and that all of its verses are holy. I believe that halakha and Jewish theology must develop organically from Torah and its interpretation by the Jewish people. These are more than just words to me. My life is about studying, teaching and living Torah. The divinity of the Torah and the Sinaitic moment pulses through my veins – it’s who I am. Nothing I have said or written should fool the reader into thinking that I have abandoned my deep belief in God’s Torah and the mission of the Jewish people.”

    This is why I think the guardians of the Orthodox boundaries and heresy seekers, those who hurl around accusations of meisich u’meidiach, are so very wrong. My strong personal sense is that most of the alleged Orthoprax (a term I find meaningless and insulting — which is what it is meant to do) have similar feelings; a strong belief in God, Torah, mitzvot and the relationship between them together with some questions and feelings about theological details.

  58. “I believe in Torah Min Ha-Shamayim, that the Torah embodies God’s encounter with Israel. I believe in Torah mi-Sinai, the uniqueness of the Torah in its level of divine encounter.”

    Do you think that this is a meaningful statement? It sounds like something I would say if I believed that the Torah is NOT the word of God but just a human document representing our perception of what God wants.

  59. Hoffa Fingerbergstein

    From Rabbi Katz’s opinion piece:

    “Religious wrestling is in our DNA. That is what our forbearer Yakov did (Genesis 32) and we carry on that torch. Yakov was scarred by his encounter with the angel and we sometimes get scarred as well. We will not, however, let these scars prevent us from responding to our calling to serve God and His people. Ultimately our goal is to reach the day when ומלאה הארץ דעה את ה’ כמים לים מכסים (Isaiah 11:9; Maimonides Kings 12).”

    Wait, how could use Yakov as an example? I thought he never existed? 🙂

  60. “Do you think that this is a meaningful statement?”

    Yes, especially in light of “he divinity of the Torah and the Sinaitic moment pulses through my veins….”

  61. The divinity of the Torah and the Sinaitic moment pulses through my veins – it’s who I am.

    Now I’m confused. Does R. Farber now believe that Revelation at Sinai was an event that actually occurred? His original essay seemed to indicate pretty clearly that he holds it did not.

  62. “the status quo make it one of the most hated institutions in Israel, the chilonim hate it because it makes their lives harder and is seen as inherently unjust. The RZ hate it because it is controlled by the chareidim. And the chareidim hate it because they hate the state.”

    nice way of putting it.
    (although i suspect that the tax authority is *the* most hated authority.)

  63. God warns us over and over not to worship false gods. He never warns us against Biblical criticism.

    How many Chabadniks worship false gods? The Torah expects us to love and respect and look up to our spiritual leaders, and while it’s unhealthy to focus that on just one leader, especially a dead one, it’s not actually idolatry. And while some Chabadniks pray to or otherwise deify their rebbe, that is rare to nonexistent among the ones I know, and its overall frequency is unclear. Remember the Torah’s main source for the prohibition on idolatry: “I am Hashem your God who took you out of the land of Egypt. you shall have no other gods.” A randomly chosen Chabadnik may or may not reject this, but Farber definely rejects it. Biblical criticism is the least problematic of his positions.

  64. The wedding dance banned is a forgery and a farce. A simple phone call could have verified that. Seems that nothing is too is too strange to believe about the charedi community.

  65. you can mentally correct my quote from aseret hadibrot as necessary 🙂

  66. Simply, nothing R’ Farber wrote indicated that he considered Sinai a historical event or that Moshe wrote the Torah.

    It might have indicated that he is not wedded to a view in this regard but interested in a discussion.

    Putting aside whether or not, R’ Farber is right or not or whether his position can be Orthodox or not, its clearly controversial and on the border. I feel that if you are going to be prominent on conversions or divorces you should not do that.

    For the sake of converts to come, he needs to immediately cease being a judge for a conversion. For the sake of converts that were (especially recent ones), he needs to consider whether he should retract what he wrote, even if he feels he is right. Yes, he sacrificed some intellectual freedom for the communal role and now several people’s status may be linked to his publicly-stated beliefs.

  67. “jouziel on July 25, 2013 at 10:42 am
    The divinity of the Torah and the Sinaitic moment pulses through my veins – it’s who I am.

    Now I’m confused. Does R. Farber now believe that Revelation at Sinai was an event that actually occurred? His original essay seemed to indicate pretty clearly that he holds it did not.”

    R. Farber’s “Sinaitic moment” might not be a historical event, but rather an occurrence in the “consciousness” of the Jewish people, akin to a vision. The phrasing is just vague enough.

  68. >(although i suspect that the tax authority is *the* most hated authority.)

    Most people understand the need for taxes even if they don’t like it. Most people (including myself, an Orthodox Jew) do not understand why women can not get devorce and why bastard children are not allowed to marry. And they are forced to use an unfair system which they do not understand and which I, frankly, apologetics aside can not hope to be able to justify based on the basic rules of fairness and justice.

  69. Seems that nothing is too is too strange to believe about the charedi community.

    yes and that says something about the charedi community.

  70. > why bastard children are not allowed to marry.

    Chardal, forgive me if I’m missing something, but as an orthodox jew, why would it be hard for you to understand the enforcement of a clear din in even ha’ezer? I mean, even if you never really learned, it’s a pasuk in chumash!

    Or do you mean that the rabbanut doesnt allow mamzerim to marry eachother? Because I’d have trouble understanding that one also. Please do explain, I’m confused – and genuinely concerned if mamzerim are subject to even worse trouble than they were already born with… That would be disgusting.

  71. Well said, Rabbeinu Nachum. Ve-divrei fi chakham chen, u-sefatayim yishak. I definitely concede to you that we should inspire our Chabad brethren to acknowledge the death (and non-messianic status) of R. Schneersohn, and by their choosing an appropriate successor to him who will continue his spiritual legacy. Satmar Chassidut, for example, currently has two rebbes, each of whom does an excellent job (ye’yasher kocham) for each of their respective kehillot. Mutatis mutandis, if there is no one single disciple of R. Schneersohn who can continue his legacy, it should be divided among several of his disciples. Both the Chabad movement in particular and Klal Yisrael as a whole will be greatly enriched from such a transmission of R. Schneersohn’s legacy to a living disciple (or series of disciples).

    R’ Steve Brizel,
    Ye’yasher kochakha on the citation from R. Holzer regarding the Rav zatza”l’s comparison between Rambam and Ramban. I do have to say, though, I am a bit surprised (and obviously impoverished by the fact that I never enjoyed the privilege to meet the Rav zatza”l), since the very first Rema in Shulchan Arukh is a quotation from Moreh Nevukhim. So, Moreh Nevukhim is apparently glatt kosher. The key question, then, is how much biblical allegorization can be allowed based on Moreh Nevukhim, and – as mentioned – that seems to be subject to an AIA vs. RCA debate [vis-a-vis Ma’ashe Bereisheet.] Note, also, that Tosafot to Zevachim 113a, s.v. lo yard mabul le-eretz yisrael, assume that the Deluge is a real historical event, and so seems to indicate our nusakh ha-tefillah for Rosh ha-Shanah, which posits “ve-gam et Noach be-ahavah zakharta, va-tifkedehu bi-dvar yeshu’ah ve-rachamim, ba-havi’akha et mei ha-mabul le-shachet kol bassar mipnei ro’a ma’aleleihem…” (Zikhronot blessing).

  72. -And, I should add, I see no contradiction to Tosafot and our nusakh ha-tefillah from Moreh Nevukhim, since Moreh Nevukhim’s comments are limited to Ma’aseh Bereisheet, and would not affect the historicity of the Deluge.

  73. Hagtbg: For the sake of converts to come, he needs to immediately cease being a judge for a conversion

    He told me that he is not a judge for conversion.

  74. Is this R. Nati distancing himself from R. Zev Farber?
    http://morethodoxy.org/2013/07/25/torah-and-historical-proof-guest-post-by-rabbi-nathaniel-helfgot/

    “In this context, I note with pain that recent formulations that have been put forward in books and in the last few weeks on websites, by some very sincere, thoughtful and serious individuals and talmidei chachamim, by people who have contributed mightily to am yisrael and Torah learning, did not reflect that struggle. Instead, they expressed ideas in a conclusive fashion that, in my understanding, are beyond the pale of the broadest definitions of what can be considered traditional notions of Torah Min Hashamayim.”

  75. On the other hand, R’ Steve Brizel (and thank you for jogging my memory), I did receive the following e-mail from R. Bleich on May 9, 2013, which seems to confirm your sentiment that Moreh Nevukhim is indeed only a “second-class citizen”. [The e-mail was in response to my protest to his latest Tradition article about Yonatan ben Uziel vapourizing the birds that flew overhead. I remonstrated that it was not Yonatan ben Uziel who should be responsible for tort liability, but rather – according to Rashi’s understanding of the gemara in Sukkah 28a – the angels who were attending Yonatan ben Uziel’s lecture.] R. Bleich answered as follows:

    “Rambam, Intro to Chelek, Fifth Principle, says angels have no free will [We need not address contradictory comments in the Guide]. By their nature angels were compelled to attend the discourse. That is tantamount to a natural effect of a human act.”

  76. R. Gil:

    In truth, the statement below in R. Farber’s response may have been an attempt to mollify R. Nati and YCT on that very point –

    To be clear, my programmatic essay was not—is not—meant to be a final statement, but a conversation starter. If some of my essay came off as a conversation stopper, I deeply apologize; mea culpa, it was not my intention. I am muddling through these complicated issues like many of you. I put my thoughts on the table as a suggestion; maybe I have discovered a way through, maybe I haven’t

  77. Hoffa Fingerbergstein

    Reb Gil – thanks for that link.

    At the end, R’ Helfgot writes the following:

    The words “heretics” and “heretical” have often been invoked on a whole range of issues in the ideological battles within Orthodoxy in the last two centuries. It is important to note that most of the leading lights of the last two generations have rejected the application of the term “apikores” to various people who were led to their conclusions based on sincere reading of the sources. The roots of this perspective are in the famous comment of the Raavad that while the Rambam considered anyone who believed in a corporeal God (a rejection of one of the essential pillars of the faith acc. to Rambam) as a heretic, there were many great people who came to that erroneous conclusion from their reading of Tanakh and Hazal.”

    He mentions “sincere reading of the sources” and “…from their reading of Tanakh and Hazal.” I would assume, not being very informed on what he stated, but aware of this famous Raavad, that reading biblical criticsm would not be considered one of the “sources” or and is certainly not Tanakh or Hazal. Therefore, a sincere reading of modern Biblical Criticism would not meet this patur from being an apikorus.

  78. Hoffa Fingerbergstein

    I find this interesting from my particular POV and not being a member of the MO community, that there is a really fear on the part of certain voices within the MO community to ever actually apply the term “apikorus”. To me, this points to an issue I have, which is that the left-wing of MO, since I became aware of the views and halachic positions it is championing, has no stated redlines. Nobody has said “genugt!” My question is: when is that going to occur. At what point does YCT, and IRF say: “you can’t say that” or “you can’t do that”? So far, I have nothing to suggest that this will ever happen.

    Over and out – Hoffa

  79. Ye’yasher kochakha, R’ Hoffa Fingerbergstein. In defense of R. Helfgot and R. Farber, what they presumably mean is they must address the remarkable statement of Ibn Ezra to Deut. 34:1, that the final twelve verses were written by Joshua, which clearly contradicts the gemara in Bava Batra 15a. Or ha-Chaim chastises Ibn Ezra quite sternly for this. [Astonishingly, R. Yehudah Nachshoni claims that there was no reason for Or ha-Chaim to take umbrage at Ibn Ezra, since once Chazal admit that it is possible that the final eight verses were written by Joshua, what’s wrong with expanding it to twelve? I am surprised at R. Nachshoni’s nonchalance on this matter, because “im ken ein la-davar sof” chas ve-chalilah, in contradiction to the gemara in Megillah 2b that no prophet after Mosheh Rabbeinu can change the content of the Sefer Torah. Equally surprising to me is R. Moshe Feinstein’s total glossing over this issue in Iggerot Mosheh, YD 3:114, a responsum which invokes Ibn Ezra as an *ally* to Rambam’s eighth principle.] Elsewhere I have hypothesized a solution that Ibn Ezra may have seen a different girsa of the Sifrei than ours, which is why he expanded from eight verses to twelve verses. Tzarikh iyun…

  80. Hoffa Fingerbergstein

    R’ Spira,

    With all due respect, there is gigantic leap (like across the Grand Canyon kind of Leap) from what the IE writes to saying that the Avos and Maamad Har Sinai were not historical figures/events. the denial of the historicity of Chumash is a different issue from the authorship of Chumash in any event. How do you get to that from the IE and R’ Yehudah HaChassid?

  81. Hoffa Fingerbergstein on July 25, 2013 at 3:29 pm
    “R’ Spira,

    “With all due respect, there is gigantic leap (like across the Grand Canyon kind of Leap) from what the IE writes to saying that the Avos and Maamad Har Sinai were not historical figures/events.”

    I’d like to add a non-scholarly consideration into this discussion. Last night, as I was singing my five-month old son to sleep with Ha-Mal’akh Ha-go’el, the thought occurred to me: How can someone who doesn’t believe that the Avot existed sing these pesukim with any sort of inspiration, or even simple kavana? What meaning does “b’sheim Avotai, Avraham v’Yitzhak” have to such a person? (This notwithstanding the limmud zechut I tried to offer yesterday on this page.) Not only that, what kavana can one have in reciting the first berakha of Shemoneh Esrei (“Elokei Avraham, Elokei Yitzchak, vEilokei Yaakov”) — which, per the Gemara (Berakhot 34b) and Poskim, is the bare minimum of kavana one is supposed to have for the Amida — if the Avot are simply legends (has v’shalom)? What “hasdei Avot” are we asking God to remember?

    I think these points underscore the key failing with the attempts to integrate the ahistorical approach to Torah into Orthodoxy: the words of tefila that one utters day after day suddenly become meaningless (although I welcome some explanation of how one who adheres to the ahistorical approach can utter these tefillot without suffering cognitive dissonance).

  82. CHardal:

    le-maase, how does it work with mamzerim in Israel? is there some type of database of Israeli mamzerim? how investigates claims of mamzerut? how do olim demonstrate they aren’t mamzerim? is their a blanket issue on mamzerim marrying non-mamzerim and is enforced? do mamzerim all leave the country to get married? do shadchanim help match up mamzerim?

  83. “How can someone who doesn’t believe that the Avot existed sing these pesukim with any sort of inspiration, or even simple kavana? ”

    Maybe this something that you either get or don’t get, i don’t know. To me it is not a big question. Characters have meaning.

  84. lawrence kaplan

    Rabi Spira: you may not feel that you are not sufficiently qualified to comment about the dispute between the RCA and JO re the Rambam on MB. Well, I feel that I am qualified, and in my view, the position of the JO is complete nonsense and apologetics and distortion of the worst kind.

  85. Joseph Kaplan-

    1) I think that Chardal’s comments actually refute yours. All “The divinity of the Torah and the Sinaitic moment puls[ing] through my veins …” cannot possibly justify the fact that sometimes… “women can not get devorce” or “why bastard children are not allowed to marry.”

    Either you believe G-d commanded it or you don’t. All the vitalty of YOUR feelings cannot justify keeping one Agunah stuck or preventing mamzerim from marrying someone they love. This isn’t about heresy hunting or being the “guardians of the Orthodox boundaries” (Although I think I can make a good case for the latter). You have to come clean about where you stand on basic fundamental issues or the the Halachic discussion about whatever sundry ‘Hetter’, is ‘Halacha that doesn’t matter le’maseh’ to begin with. I think R Avi Weiss’s comments about the Conservative movement are quite relevant here. [1]

    2)I think it’s particularly important to be perfecly clear where you stand if you claim to be an O Rabbi. I see nothing wrong with a Tzitzis check when someone is trying to sell you Tzitzis. Do you?

    “Nothing I have said or written should fool the reader into thinking that I have abandoned my deep belief in God’s Torah and the mission of the Jewish people.”

    That is a statement that plenty of openly Conservaive and even Reform rabbis could make. Did God give us the Torah at Har Sinai? Yes or no? Sentimental (however genuine) statements just won’t cut it.

    [1] http://www.yctorah.org/component/option,com_docman/task,doc_view/gid,143/ Starting from the last paragraph on pg 410. I can’t seem to cut and paste.

    ======
    Chardal- On some level I agree with you. I don’t understand why G-d would order the execution of the innocent son of Shimon ben Shetach. Or why He let Shalhevet Pass HY”D be murdered in front of her father’s eyes. Or why He let Hadas Fogel HY”D get brutalized the way she did, either. Harold Kushner concluded that G-d isn’t omnipotent. I can’t presume to judge him- especially after what he went through, but I can declare his beliefs absolute heresy.

  86. Nachum-
    “I have no doubt R’ Aviner believes this, and it’s very telling. Here’s my answer: “Who says there are more Charedi Torah scholars? All of the prominent charedi scholars seem older than charedism itself.”

    I don’t disagree (or agree for that matter; depends on too many defintions and history.) I posted it because I get a special kick out of these types of comments from R Aviner. I was amused by the begining of his answer and enjoyed his unstoppable optimism at the end of it.
    You might like this post from Rav Tzair who occasionally comments here as ‘Benny’. http://www.kipa.co.il/jew/49963.html

  87. http://www.njjewishnews.com/article/18075/a-bridge-too-far#.UfGeSnjD_L8

    Paul Golin, who contributed the essay that appears on page 15 of this week’s issue, is in the second camp. He is associate executive director of Big Tent Judaism/Jewish Outreach Institute, which aims to create “a more welcoming and inclusive North American Jewish community, particularly for intermarried families.” He often points to statistics showing a million intermarried Jews in the United States. He has an aversion to Jewish “red lines,” and insists Jewish institutions have a choice: They can either erect barriers and lose forever the children of these intermarriages, or become more welcoming and create opportunities for these children to express their Jewish identity.

    Interesting that the aversion/lack thereof to red lines seems to be a universal issue.

    KT

  88. Speaking of chief rabbi’s:

    http://www.shaalvim.co.il/uploads/files/13-D-10-lamentation.pdf

    “On the twentieth of Tammuz, 5664 (July 3,1904), Dr. Theodor Herzl
    (Benjamin Ze’ev) Herzl, founder of the Zionist movement, died at the tragically young age of forty-four. Rav Avraham Yitzhak Kook, the newly installed rabbi of the port city of Jaffa, was asked to participate in a memorial service to honor the departed leader. Rav Kook was placed in a difficult situation, for which there was no totally satisfactory solution. On the one hand, the Halakha is quite specific when it comes to those who have deviated from the norms of Torah…

    On the other hand, Rav Kook knew his flock. If in Jaffa itself Rav Kook might find a few individuals capable of relating to the halakhic objection to memorializing a declaredly secular Jew, in Rehovot and the other outlying settler communities, Herzl, with his patriarchal beard and searing eyes, was regarded as nothing less than a modern-day “prophet.” And Rav Kook had been engaged not only as rabbi of Jaffa, but of the recently established moshavot (colonies) as well…

    The solution (if you can call it that) Rav Kook arrived at was the following. He would speak at the memorial gathering, but at no time would he pay specific tribute to the deceased Dr. Herzl. Instead, he would speak in generalities.”

    As a humorous aside, I’ve long found it ironic that after the Gerrer rebbe met Rav Kook, he wrote that based on the propaganda he’d read about Rav Kook, he expected to meet a “rav na’or” (elightened? reform? rabbi.) Instead, he met an “ish eshkolos” who he vehemently disagreed with. Well, fast forward decades later and who but Rav (Betzalel) Na’or is translating Rav Kook’s writings?

  89. Shaul,

    I assume the “you” in your paragraph 1 means “one.”

    “women can not get devorce” or “why bastard children are not allowed to marry.” Where do these quotes come from? They weren’t in the article I was quoting from in my comment.

  90. “I assume the “you” in your paragraph 1 means “one.””

    You assume correctly. Sorry for not being clear.

    ““women can not get devorce” or “why bastard children are not allowed to marry.” Where do these quotes come from? They weren’t in the article I was quoting from in my comment”

    They come from Chardal’s comment. As I said (And as R Avi Weiss said 15 years ago) if you(=’ one’!) don’t believe that mattan torah actually happened that’s the end of any non-gerry-mandered halachic process.

  91. Joseph Kaplan-

    My previous comment was directed to you. Just to provide an example, I’ve previously quoted Gordon Tucker’s proposed responsum http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservative_Judaism_and_sexual_orientation#The_Tucker_dissent

    “When someone says, “What can we do? The Torah is clear on the subject!”, what is being said amounts to a claim of infallibility and irrefutability for the text of the Torah. And that claim ultimately rests on the assumption that the words of Leviticus (and, of course, those of the other four books of the Pentateuch) express directly and completely the will of God. (Indeed, treating a text as infallible on any basis other than on such an assumption would surely count as a form of idolatry.) But that assumption (that the Torah is the direct and complete expression of God’s will) is one that, for all its currency in parts of the Jewish world, is not accepted in our Conservative Jewish world.[12] No, the time has come for a movement that has finally published a Humash commentary that reflects the theology our masters have taught us to “come out of the closet”. It is past time for us to be, in the prophet Elijah’s words, “hopping between two opinions”. If the axiom behind this theological argument is to be accepted, then let us forthrightly admit that we have been misled by the teachers at whose feet we have sat. But if we confess that we do not accept the axiom of biblical infallibility, then let us honor our teachers by abandoning this theological argument, and by no longer permitting ourselves to say, when the matter of gays and lesbians comes up, “What can we do? The Torah is clear on the subject!” Could it perhaps be that critical study itself was given to us precisely so that we would not let the text of the Torah stand as an impediment to the acceptance, fulfilment, and normalization of God’s creatures”

    He wrote that to permit Gay sex. But it holds equally true for Agunos, Mamzerim, women being passul as witnesess, and definitely for intermarriage which might even only be derabbanan as well as anything that one happens to find objectionable. What can Joel Roth or anyone else in the C movement say in response; that their Judaic vitality and mythological torah mi’sinai that’s pulsating through their veins doesn’t allow it???

    R Avi Weiss predicted in 1997 that eventually C Judaism, following Reform, would accept patrilineal descent and Homosexuality. The latter has mostly happened already, and the former probably will eventually happen officially; I think it’s happening on the ground already.

  92. R. Nati has shown himself to be one of the few people who know how to give tochacha in our time. From his blog post published today in Morethodoxy:

    “1. The issues raised in these blog posts and in the discussions that have been taking place in the last twenty five years and most recently on the web and blogosphere are highly charged and touch on sensitive areas of emunot ve-deot and core, foundational elements of our perception of ourselves as avdei Hashem, the claims of the mesorah and the integrity of the Torah. We live in an age when the challenges of modern Biblical study are accessible to all, either on the popular level on the internet or volumes written for the lay public or on the scholarly level in the halls of academia. Thinking Jews are struggling with these issues and we can simply not ignore engaging with these ideas head. At the same time, I urge all those who speak and write on these topics in our community to approach these issues with humility and a sense of yirah. Part of that gestalt is ability to live with a tzarikh iyun and the ability to express the tensions between traditional notions and the academic assertions in a manner, tone and language that is respectful of the claims of traditional notions of ikarei ha-emunah, broadly conceived. Struggle and engagement are the reality of our modern existence and we should never be complacent that the regnant academic theory is the last word on any of these critical issues.”

  93. ▪ Wedding Dance Banned

    1) Where’d they find this pashkevil?

    2) Nothing beats Dr Moshe Koppel’s pashkevillim
    http://www.zeevgalili.com/2009/08/5986

  94. Joseph Kaplan wrote :

    “This is why I think the guardians of the Orthodox boundaries and heresy seekers, those who hurl around accusations of meisich u’meidiach, are so very wrong. My strong personal sense is that most of the alleged Orthoprax (a term I find meaningless and insulting — which is what it is meant to do) have similar feelings; a strong belief in God, Torah, mitzvot and the relationship between them together with some questions and feelings about theological details”

    Torah Min HaShamayim, Kabalas HaTorah and how we “relate” to the Torah are not mere “theological details.” I deplore the term witch hunting. Like it or not, while Joe McCarthy gave anti Communism a bad name, some of the greatest US Senators ( HHH., Sccop Jackson) fought fiercely to rid the Democratic Party of any Communist influences. I would contend that Apikorsus and Kefirah are hardly “theological details” but rather Hashkafic concepts with Halachic consequences.

  95. I agree with R Gil that the following is a hashkafically meaningless statement that cannot be reconciled with traditional Jewish belief:

    “To be clear: I believe in Torah Min Ha-Shamayim, that the Torah embodies God’s encounter with Israel. I believe in Torah mi-Sinai, the uniqueness of the Torah in its level of divine encounter. I believe that the Torah is meant to be as it is today and that all of its verses are holy. I believe that halakha and Jewish theology must develop organically from Torah and its interpretation by the Jewish people. These are more than just words to me. My life is about studying, teaching and living Torah. The divinity of the Torah and the Sinaitic moment pulses through my veins – it’s who I am”

  96. Two simple observations:

    1)Take a look at which Mafrshim R Farber mentions, and then see which ones are rather studiously excluded by silence-no Ramban, Netziv or Meshech Chachmah, no discussion of Midrash as a basis for Parshanut or Hashkafa or even ackowledgement of the Divine Transmission of Torah Shebicsav and TSBP.

    2)I don’t think that I am alone, but I would not want either my children or grandchildren taught Toras HaShem Temimah from such a POV, and I can’t help but wonder what goes thru R Farber’s mind whenever he recites a Birkas HaMitzvah or any other Tefilah that invokes Kabalas HaTorah.

  97. there have been many interesting and thoughtful posts (r’ katz, r’ helfgot 2nd post, r’ yuter and r’ fink) in regards or response to r’ farber’s monograph. to me moshe shoshan post resonates as a constructive framing of the issues and what is at stake to why it matters – its speaks to me and my issues (questions as well) over the decades. btw, the kefirah yes or no and the sources is a sideshow (yes there may be important implications but still a sideshow to the main event). from shoshan:

    “The challenges raised by modern Biblical criticism to Orthodox Judaism cannot be countered merely with “Orthodox Biblical Scholarship” which seeks to disprove the claims of academic scholarship on its own terms. I do not believe that using the tools, methods and assumptions of modern critical scholarship it is possible to produce a compelling academic argument that it makes sense to conclude that the Torah is a unified document produced in the wildernesses of Sinai and Transjordan sometime in the final centuries of the Third Millennium BCE. It may be possible to argue that the Torah is more unified and more ancient than biblical scholars commonly assume, but this approach will never produce a conclusion that is in line with traditional understandings of Torah mi-Sinai.”

    For Orthodoxy, as for most forms of traditional Judaism throughout history, Judaism is first and foremost (thought certainly not exclusively) a religion of mitzvot, of binding norms whose force in rooted not in a constructed social contract or categorical imperatives but in a direct irruption of the Divine Will into human history. This places an extraordinary amount of the weight of Jewish belief on the acceptance of the concept of Torah mi-Sinai. Indeed as I suggested in the last chapter of my book, Stories of the Law, for Chazal, Sinai may be the only truly significant event in human history. As such, Torah miSinai (TmS) is not as malleable as other tradition Jewish beliefs, such as those regarding God’s creation of and ongoing relationship with the natural world.

    For many reasons, this price for abandoning this model is exponentially higher when it comes to Biblical narrative. Farber may find it necessary to classify the Torah as fiction, but he should not under estimate the difficulty of maintaining an Orthodox worldview and practice based on fictions alone.

    As such the most fundamental underlying assumption of modern Biblical scholarship is that Bible must be human document produced through the same processes as other ancient texts, and not a product of revelation. Certainly many individual scholars who believe in the divinity of the Bible accept the principles of critical methodology only provisionally, using its tool to gain valuable insights into the text without accepting its fundamental assumptions. However, the ultimate telos of academic Biblical scholarship can only be the rejection of the very notion of Divine revelation. Once I show that the Bible can be understood using the same tools and categories as the Upanishads or the Koran, why should I view it as being metaphysically distinct from those texts? As such Orthodox Judaism and Biblical criticism would appear to be opposed to each other not only in their conclusions but in their very premises.

    I am concerned that a community that embraces such an approach will not in the long term remain committed to a covenantial life and worldview. Nevertheless, I believe that the search for truth of all sorts using the most compelling tools to which we have access is itself a religious imperative for those of us who believe in a God whose seal is Truth. As such, it cannot be jettisoned because it is not compatible with other divine imperatives. But I have no way relieving the tension that this position creates for the Orthodox Jew.”

    worthy in reading in full: http://morethodoxy.org/2013/07/25/should-we-stopping-worrying-and-learn-to-love-the-documentary-hypothesis-a-response-to-zev-farber/

  98. as for where YCT stands its pretty simple. two new posts:

    http://morethodoxy.org/2013/07/26/living-by-the-word-of-god-guest-post-by-dr-ben-elton/

    r’ asher lopatin
    http://morethodoxy.org/2013/07/26/revelation-and-the-education-of-modern-orthodox-rabbis/

    again, i think moshe shoshan article is the main event of issues that faces modern man. leave the sideshow to the usual suspects and politics.

  99. In other words, YCT thinks Farber’s approach is unnecessary and wrong, but has a policy of never writing anyone out of the camp for pretty much any reason, so as to preserve the spirit of open inquiry.

  100. r’ruvie,
    ty for the links.
    as I posted on cross currents”
    Some might see a contradiction between “2. If its at all effective, a deep education in the humanities and critical methods will p’sik reisha have an effect on a person. That effect in and of itself makes it extremely unlikely that such a person will be deemed a a gadol in the charedi world.”

    and

    Rabbi Baruch 0f Shklov stated that he met the Gaon and he heard from his holy mouth that to the extent that one lacks in understanding the sciences, he will lack 100 measures in understanding the Torah, because the Torah and science are intertwined.

    I was raised to understand to strive for the latter as long as one can do so understanding the supremacy of torah in utilizing all the tools at one’s command to understand it.

    ——–
    btw the yct stance reminds me of a conversation (in the opposite direction) many years ago about riets and r’ yerucham gorelick z”l.
    KT

  101. Shlomo, I’m sorry. The tone used is definitely one of rebbe-worship, if not as a god, then as something uncomfortably close to it. At the very least, responsible Chabad leaders should realize where this can lead- and has led, for many- and discourage it. No letters tucked in books, no readings at weddings, etc.

    I did leave a comment at Cross-Currents suggesting that maybe people who don’t believe in the Chief Rabbinate should refrain from commenting at all. Of course, if that held true, most of the electors in Israel would lose their votes as well.

  102. “I can’t help but wonder what goes thru R Farber’s mind whenever he recites a Birkas HaMitzvah or any other Tefilah that invokes Kabalas HaTorah.”

    I don’t know R. Farber personally so I don’t know. But from his most recent article m y guess is that it is something similar to what most of us think; that God commanded us to do this mitzvah and that the People of Israel have accepted that commandment.

  103. R’ joel rich – it also reminded me of the early days of YU (till 1960) and the complaints and politics of others. in sum: thinking is dangerous. is our only alternative: as r’ weider said (at a private shabbat meal) i am for free inquiry as long as you come to the right conclusions?

  104. Does YU have hashkofic red lines that would cause them kick someone out of the semicha program or not award him semicha after he’s passed the tests?

    (Other than declaring himself non-Orthodox, supporting women’s ordination, or supporting same sex politics?)

  105. r’ ruvie,
    Another reason I like R’ Weider 🙂
    In certain fields of math there are axioms that control what is acceptable in a proof. You can change the axioms, but then you are changing the playing field (e.g. we can argue all day if the shortest distance between 2 points is a line or a curve because I’m talking plane geometry and you are on a sphere). That’s why defining axioms (or ikarei emunah) makes a difference aiui.
    KT

  106. Re “On official trips, PMO doesn’t keep kosher, MK charges”: This is nothing new. See Yehuda Avner’s account in “The Prime Ministers” about how he and Yaakov Herzog were the only ones in Levi Eshkol’s and Yitzhak Rabin’s retinues who insisted on kosher meals at state dinners.

  107. The leadership of ultra-left wing orthodoxy has now repudiated the heresies of Zev Farber (the ideas, not the individual). To those who thought his ideas are okay and defended them as acceptable, where does this leave you?

  108. R Gordimer quoted the following from R Farber:

    “It is important to note that R. Farber does emphasize that he believes in Torah Min Ha-Shamayim and the holiness of the Torah – but we need to then understand what exactly he means:

    I believe in Torah Min Ha-Shamayim, that the Torah embodies God’s encounter with Israel. I believe in Torah mi-Sinai, the uniqueness of the Torah in its level of divine encounter. I believe that the Torah is meant to be as it is today and that all of its verses are holy. I believe that halakha and Jewish theology must develop organically from Torah and its interpretation by the Jewish people.
    These platitudes, caged in elusive language and taken in the context of R. Farber’s clear and unretracted writings that deny the authenticity of the Torah as God’s Word, as God-given, as true and as the source of Halacha from God, are almost identical with the belief tenets of Conservative Judaism”

    At least R Lopatin stated that R Farber’s teachings were purportedly not what talmidim of YCT are taught with respect to Torah Min HaShamayim.

  109. Response to Shmuel:

    The leadership of ultra-left wing orthodoxy, which, knowing what his views were, granted him semicha and thereby enhanced the credibility of his message and the authority with which he could deliver it, has now repudiated the heresies of Zev Farber (the ideas, not the individual), but has not taken responsibility for their role in this, nor have they stated that they wish to disassociate themselves from him.

    To those who thought YCT leaderships’ ideas are okay and defended them as acceptable, where does this leave you?

  110. Moshe Shoshan deserves a huge YasherKoach for exposing the inherent contradiction in using the tools and methodology of academic Bible scholarship as a means of producing “produce a conclusion that is in line with traditional understandings of Torah mi-Sinai.”

    As Moshe Shoshan indicates very cogently:

    “For Orthodoxy, as for most forms of traditional Judaism throughout history, Judaism is first and foremost (thought certainly not exclusively) a religion of mitzvot, of binding norms whose force in rooted not in a constructed social contract or categorical imperatives but in a direct irruption of the Divine Will into human history. This places an extraordinary amount of the weight of Jewish belief on the acceptance of the concept of Torah mi-Sinai. Indeed as I suggested in the last chapter of my book, Stories of the Law, for Chazal, Sinai may be the only truly significant event in human history. As such, Torah miSinai (TmS) is not as malleable as other tradition Jewish beliefs, such as those regarding God’s creation of and ongoing relationship with the natural world.

    For many reasons, this price for abandoning this model is exponentially higher when it comes to Biblical narrative. Farber may find it necessary to classify the Torah as fiction, but he should not under estimate the difficulty of maintaining an Orthodox worldview and practice based on fictions alone.

    As such the most fundamental underlying assumption of modern Biblical scholarship is that Bible must be human document produced through the same processes as other ancient texts, and not a product of revelation. Certainly many individual scholars who believe in the divinity of the Bible accept the principles of critical methodology only provisionally, using its tool to gain valuable insights into the text without accepting its fundamental assumptions. However, the ultimate telos of academic Biblical scholarship can only be the rejection of the very notion of Divine revelation. Once I show that the Bible can be understood using the same tools and categories as the Upanishads or the Koran, why should I view it as being metaphysically distinct from those texts? As such Orthodox Judaism and Biblical criticism would appear to be opposed to each other not only in their conclusions but in their very premises.

    I am concerned that a community that embraces such an approach will not in the long term remain committed to a covenantial life and worldview.”

    Yet, I question that given the above contention why then does Moshe Shoshan advocate the following:

    “Nevertheless, I believe that the search for truth of all sorts using the most compelling tools to which we have access is itself a religious imperative for those of us who believe in a God whose seal is Truth. As such, it cannot be jettisoned because it is not compatible with other divine imperatives. But I have no way relieving the tension that this position creates for the Orthodox Jew”

    WADR, there are times when Teiku is an infinitely preferable answer than “answers” given by either the Charedi world or RZ/MO attempts to “harmonize” the unfathomable events of Maamad Har Sinai and Kabalas HaTorah that can only and shoul only be properly considered as Apikorsus and Kefirah with the demands of the academic world.

  111. Josh –
    “This is nothing new.”

    No it’s not. But there’s a new (albeit disputed) nangle here:

    “On a recent visit to the Polish parliament to discuss the re-legalization of kosher slaughter in the country, “many lawmakers we met said that during the last visit [to Poland] of the prime minister, the Israeli side didn’t insist on kosher meals,” Lavie told Army Radio. “The Polish interpreted that as signifying that kashrut was not a very important issue.” ”

    I’ve heard the same thing when Israeli Archaelogists dig up k’vorim. How can you demand protection of Jewish cemeteries worldwide if the ‘Jewish state’ digs up their own?

    “See Yehuda Avner’s account in “The Prime Ministers” about how he and Yaakov Herzog were the only ones in Levi Eshkol’s and Yitzhak Rabin’s retinues who insisted on kosher meals at state dinners.”

    The account is tragicomic. (FWIW it’s worth, I think that book is awesome. I’m on my second time around reading it.)

    Joseph Kaplan-

    “I don’t know R. Farber personally so I don’t know. But from his most recent article my guess is that it is something similar to what most of us think; that God commanded us to do this mitzvah and that the People of Israel have accepted that commandment.”

    Again, I don’t think that’s relevant, per my comments above.

  112. “Again, I don’t think that’s relevant, per my comments above.”

    I don’t understand; relevant to what?

  113. It is very reasonable and useful to have a discussion about ikkarei emunah and the limits and practical ramifications. It is also reasonable to discuss the position of a prominent person. However, R. Gordimer has used R . Farber’s position as a tool in a broader ideological war against YCT and the left(just look at his first post and the litany of his complaints and links). As such it is not reasonable to expect anyone from YCT or the left to agree with anything that R. Gordimer has put out, no matter how true or not it is. His polemical approach and blanket condemnations just make it another attempt by the right to delegitimize the left. It’s not as if R Gordimer or anyone who thinks like him is going to accept geirim from YCT grads even if they signed pledges of what they believed in. The whole issue is just sad.

  114. Hoffa Fingerbergstein

    Oh come on Noam! What absolute rubbish! Your narrow partisanship is really showing here. You phrase your comment using nice terms like “reasonable and useful”.

    Let’s face facts: these positions absolutely raise questions as the entire YCT enterprise. The ramifications, which seems to escape you, is the R’ Gordimer has in posts provided a service to the rest of Orthodoxy. He has shone a light on very trouble developments in Open Orthodoxy. Just as done, and correctly so, when the light is shone by the on economic malfeasance and silence on terrible molestation of children. You just don’t like it and with all due respect, it appears that the “whistleblower” will not come from the Open Orthodoxy community.

  115. I think that R Gordimer has brilliantly dissected why R Farber’s views and writings are beyond the pale and why YCT obviously is engaged in the equivalent of a two minute drill to avoid the critique that the same are representative of YCT’s views on the issue of how to teach Tanach. Clearly, if both R Helfgot and a student at YCT ( Ben Elton) reject the same, I rest my case upon the same. Like it or not, while the left obviously engages in its share of ideological warfare and charedi bashing, the notion that a RIETS musmach cannot is equivalent to saying that just because Joe McCarthy fought Communism in a wrong manner, then Democrats should have ignored the political, social and intellectual growth of Communism in the Democratic Party and other similarly aligned interest groups and institutions in the US.In all seriousness, I think that we should be able to reject the term “witch hunt” and realize that Kefirah and Apikorsus are real terms with meaning.

  116. is this heresy?

    “Therefore, even if one were to say that small parts of it were not written by our master, Moses, this would not itself be heretical. This claim only becomes heresy at the point where one stops relating to the Torah as being totally of divine origin. Therefore, once people believe that the verses of the Torah stem entirely from a divine origin, there is no prohibition to expand that which our sages said about the final verses of the Torah to other verses, since the essential point that remains consistent throughout is that the Torah stems from the word of the “mouth” of God.”

  117. Ruvie-I think that the Talmud and the Baalei HaTosfos in BB around Daf 14 or 15 discuss the last eight verses of the Torah, and that one answer is that HaShem dictated the same to Moshe Rabbeinu, who wrote the same down word for word with tears, and according to RCS, the same became invested with Kedushas Sefer Torah as a part of Toras HaShem for all generations after the Petirah of Moshe Rabbeinu the Adon of all subsequent Neviim and whose Nevuah was radically different from all subsequent Neviim.

  118. More broadly, the question that some of the verses in the Torah seem superfluously has already been raised in the Gemara (Hullin 60b):

    R. Shimon ben Lakish says: Many verses in the Torah deserve to be burnt, but they contain fundamental truths of the Torah (Devarim 2:23, Bemidbar 21:26 given as examples).

    That is, these verses seem extraneous, but G-d put them there to teach us a lesson.

    I learn two lessons from this:
    1) It’s OK to think at first “this doesn’t belong in the Torah.”
    2) But one should have the humility to strive to understand why it is there.

  119. Hesh-Obviously, as you pointed out, as can be seen on almost blatt Gemara that raises issues as to what a particular verse teaches us, what may seem on a simple level to be a totally extraneous and superfluous verse, has a meaning.

  120. steve b. – read it again- “…. there is no prohibition to expand that which our sages said about the final verses of the Torah to other verses…”

    he is using BB he says “In fact, the Talmudic Sages already began this trend when they wrote that the last eight verses of the Torah were not written by Moses (b. Baba Batra 15a).” in reference to his other quote.

  121. Ruvie-the question remains was BB15a and the discussion therein ever used in connection by Chazal to understand other Torah verses?

    One more point-Let’s take all of R Farber’s statements at face value,and disregard all of the backpedaling by both R Farber and YCT officials, who realized that the mounting criticism over such a POV even as a trial balloon purportedly not representative of YCT’s views was going to blow up in their faces. Why would anyone be a Shomer Torah UMitzvos in light of such views as to key elements of Jewish belief?

  122. The difference, which I shouldn’t be surprised that you missed, is that there is, or should be unanimity regarding the the abhorrence of child abuse or stealing. Whereas regarding ikkarei emunah there is more grey.

  123. Noam Stadlan-any person with a set of human ethics would find child abuse or stealing abhorrent. Yet, a person with a humanly defined set of ethics can rationalize the worst kinds of human behavior. Only a Torah that was dictated by HaShem Yisborach word to word to Moshe Rabbeinu together with the means of comprehending the same for all generations for members of the covenental community that accepted the same at Sinai, in the Ohel Moed and at Arvos Moav amd those Mitzvos that differentiate that community from the rest of the world is the reason why a person would be a Shomer Torah UMitzvos. Like it or not, that is an ikar of emunah, and acting in a mentsch like manner does not differentiate a Jew from a Gentile in acting in a commanded manner.

  124. MiMedinat HaYam

    regarding yesterday’s discussion here about rejecting a clear SA even ha’ezel (or even straight torah) about men issuing divorces, why is there no objection that certain of these women cannot subsequently marry whom they want? (perhaps a cohen, or a giyoret a gerusha, or even a chalutza marrying a cohen, among other objectionables to cohanim, let alone others.) point is, there are lines, and the torah mandated certain lines. which i guess certain ppl dont want to accept (which brings up the farber / gordimer / yct issue i dont want to get into.)

  125. Nachum-Take a look at one of the Orthodox Forum series on Judaic studies in the academic world. One participant clearly stated that he did not see Kiruv as one of his job definitions. OTOH, the average Chabad shliach does not peddle messianism. Rather, the house of any Shliah is a port of entry for anyone who wants to experience Kedushas Shabbos Kodesh in a warm, non threatening manner.

  126. chabad houses work for some and turn off others. (and i know you seem to hate hillel, but it also works as a portal to observance for some, and not others…)

    and while they have figured out that messianism does not sell it is not at all obvious what the average shaliach believes. which gets back to nachum’s point, which steve illustrated so nicely, that if they look right and are useful no one really wants to ask. (I don’t necessarily oppose this policy, ftr.)

  127. Emma-I don’t think that the average person visiting a Chabad shliach for a Shabbos meal anywhere who has a less than mimimal Jewish education has any idea or remotely cares whether his or her host is a messianist. Hillel, even where there is a strong Orthodox presence, is by definition a karaoke/pluralist enterprise. For a good example of how Chabad offers something that Hillel has a long way in reaching, take a look at the Harvard Chabad and Hillel.

  128. I am not saying that the ppl being mekareved care about messianism. I am saying that one might expect the orthodox community as a whole not to rely on people with (maybe) what it considers highly probelmatic beliefs to be its main representatives on campus. They are all serving kesser wine and lubavitch shechita. If there are real questions about those things (which lots of ppl seem to think*), then isn’t that in and of itself an issue, regardless of how warm and fuzzy it makes newbies feel about shabbos?

    (*personally i don’t want to chase chabad out of “orthodoxy.”)

    I know a lot of people who became frum at hillel, is all i am saying, including harvard hillel (though back then the orthodox, and jewish in general, population was much larger). and the relationship of chabad houses to the already-orthodox-but-not-chabad students can be strained. what’s best for whom and where really depends on all the individual circumstances, is all.

  129. Steve B. – obviously you neither understand what you read or do not get it. once the door is open it can get wider according to this RY of a hesder yeshiva. nobody has really define heresy in all the conversation – don’t you find it odd?

    final quote –
    “In all matters dealing with core principles of faith, there is a need to be precise about what exactly constitutes the core principle of faith and what has been left open for debate and allows for a multiplicity of approaches”

    Noam s. – luckily RAG was channeling r’ safran with similar writing style. hence, he is preaching to his own echo chamber and has written a polemic.

  130. Thank you, R’ Hoffa Fingerbergstein (comment on July 25 at 3:29 p.m.) for your kind and insightful response. You correctly point out that I failed to explain how authorship and historicity are interrelated. Inspired by your words, allow me to therefore elaborate. Since one of the 613 commandments is to write a Sefer Torah, and so much as adding/detracting a single word will disqualify the Sefer Torah, therefore Shu”t Chatam Sofer YD 356 – in requiring us to believe that all the mitzvot were already revealed in all their detail to Mosheh Rabbeinu – is requiring us to believe that the same is true for the content of the Sefer Torah. Thus, the requirement to believe in the historicity of the contents of Pentateuch yields a requirement to believe in the authorship of Pentateuch.

    The fact that Ibn Ezra seems to contradict the above merits an honest investigation, and therefore it is permitted [and even a mitzvah of Talmud Torah] for R. Farber and R. Helfgot to investigate how Ibn Ezra can be reconciled with Chatam Sofer’s responsum. Perhaps their investigation will lead to the same hypothesis as mine that Ibn Ezra may have seen a different girsa of the Sifrei quoted by the gemara in Bava Batra 15a. According to this hypothesis, whatever exception can be made for the last eight verses (according to our girsa of the gemara) can be made for the last twelve verses (according to Ibn Ezra’s girsa). On the other hand, reading the books of biblical critics [who do not feel bound by Chatam Sofer’s pesak halakhah altogether] for purposes of inquiry/curiosity is certainly forbidden and has no place at any Yeshiva, Chovevei Torah or otherwise. [The books of biblical critics may be read, though, “le-havin u-le-horot”, viz. not for purposes of inquiry/curiosity, but in order to know how to dismiss the heretics, as per R. Moshe Feinstein’s ruling in Iggerot Mosheh, YD 2:111.]

    I also thank Mori ve-Rabbi R. Kaplan (comment on July 25 at 4:57 p.m.) for providing his expert analysis of Moreh Nevukhim.

  131. Joseph Kaplan-

    “I don’t understand; relevant to what?”

    I meant ULTIMATELY relevant to the issue of tzivuy elokim. But you’re right that you gave a fair answer to the (IMO) tangential question of Farber’s kavanos when he makes a Bracha.

  132. To clarify my previous comment, my remarks serve to recognize the righteousness of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and the acceptability of its disciples as kosher witnesses. Namely, since permission is granted by Iggerot Mosheh YD 2:111 to read books of bible critics “le-havin u-le-horot”, it seems to me that we enjoy the luxury of assuming that any investigation of such materials by Jews who are recognized as Orthodox (and thus possess a chezkat kashrut) is being conducted solely for that purpose. It is true that, as R. Feinstein cautions, we should minimize the “le-havin u-le-horot” authorization as far as possible, but I don’t think we are required to disqualify anyone as a witness on its account, either. (Gerut is a more complicated kettle of fish since, as has been noted, a process of geographically centralized conversion has recently been undertaken in North America, such that the limiting factor in conversion is no longer the righteousness of the three judges, but rather some sort of international consensus whose parameters await further clarification.)

    The term “modern” or “open” has no meaning when applied to Orthodoxy, as R. Bleich writes in his introduction to Contemporary Halakhic Problems, Vol. 4. Rather, as Mosheh Rabbeinu says in the opening paragraph of Parashat Re’eh, either one is following the Torah (which is timeless and eternal) or not. In my opinion, since Yeshivat Chovevei Torah calls itself Orthodox, it is indeed Orthodox, and its disciples are kosher witnesses.

  133. This just got translated on YNet yesterday, about rabbis who’ve lost their faith.

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4406721,00.html

    But from an O perspective (and following much of the recent discussion here) it may be more interesting to differentiate between those who’ve lost faith in Hashem at all and those who believe in Him but not according to O tenets.

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