Audio Roundup Special: Dr. Marc Shapiro

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

by Joel Rich

Dr. Marc Shapiro-A Middle Ground Between Orthodoxy and Reform: Rabbi Zechariah Frankel and the Positive-Historical School

 (Part 1)

There were other responses to traditional orthodoxy besides reform. R Zecharia Frenkel created positive historical Judaism (seen by many as the forerunner of conservative Judaism) which sought halachic change while recognizing that history plays a role. He was accepted by some but opposed strongly by R Hirsch.

Part 2

Starts with Tamar Ross’ halachic argument for women’s minyanim and the thought that piyutim’s works were for the scholars but the music was for all. Main topic is R Frankel’s blend of history and halacha and the key role of the people (religiously committed) in determining practice. (me-J Haidt’s elephant and rider)

Part 3

R Frankel’s position was that if a practice falls out of use organically then it “changes” the halacha. This is not much different than the  kehila kdosha approach and being mlamed zchut. R Dr C Soloveitchik noted how this has changed in our time (we’ve lost that loving feeling? HT – the righteous brothers)

Part 4

R Frankel was controversial not so much because he felt halacha could change based on practice but because he was perceived as saying the oral law started with the anshei knesset hagdola (not sinai).

Part 5

More on the attacks on R Frankel, particularly on whether his position on the oral law was heretical (even if with regard to practical halachic applications it makes no difference).

Part 6


More on Shabbat umbrellas and (unrelated) R Frankel on halacha moshe misinai. He was attacked due to his historical approach. Also discussion of the theory of eidim zomimim.

Part 7

After the attacks of R Hirsch et al R Frankel was no longer considered part of orthodoxy. Prior to that point he was considered in the fold and responded to questions such as the halachic  status of memorials.

Part 8

What was R Frankel’s response to the attacks of R Hirsch et al? He said he hadn’t been discussing principles of faith. He later added that he did believe in halacha moshe misinai (what exactly this term means, especially based on Talmudic data, was debated before his time as well)

Part 9

How was the Breslau seminary viewed by orthodoxy? What about R Graetz and R Hildesheimer?

Part 10

More on the shortcomings of the Breslau seminary. R Frankel saw the (orthodox) community as a form of revelation. This theory later morphed into Solomon Schechter’s concept of catholic israel (me-related to kehila kdosha as a minhag support theory?)


About Joel Rich

Joel Rich is a frequent wannabee cyberspace lecturer on various Torah topics. A Yerushalmi formerly temporarily living in West Orange, NJ, his former employer and the Social Security administration support his Torah listening habits. He is a recovering consulting actuary.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter

The latest weekly digest is also available by clicking here.

Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter