Tag Archives: Hashkafah

Post-modern Objections to Academic Jewish Studies

R. Walter Wurzburger, “Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik as Posek of Post-Modern Orthodoxy” in Tradition (1994:1), p. 7 The Rav’s objection to the employment of modern historic and textual scholarship to ascertain the meaning of halakha reflects not naive traditionalism but highly sophisticated post-modern critical thought. He insists that halakha operate with its own unique canons of interpretation. According to R. ...

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Studying Heresy

There is a passage in R. Ahron Soloveitchik’s Logic of the Heart, Logic of the Mind (pp. 45-47) regarding the study of biblical criticism and other modern heresies. Because it is a long passage, I will break it up with short comments. The initial story about R. Moshe Soloveitchik: A professor who taught Bible in a college once came to ...

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Civil Rights and the Dignity of Man

Also from R. Ahron Soloveichik’s Logic of the Heart, Logic of the Mind (p. 61): From the standpoint of the Torah, there can be no distinction between one human being and another on the basis of race or color. Any discrimination shown to a human being on account of the color of his or her skin constitutes loathsome barbarity. It ...

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The Democratization of Halakhah

House of Hock very graciously mentioned this blog in a post, and I return the favor. I appreciate both the praise and the publicity, but must comment on something I found troubling in their post. In a democracy, every citizen has a vote. Judaism is not a democracy. Not everyone has a vote over what is the halakhah and what ...

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Morality and Halakhah

A common theme in R. Aharon Lichtenstein’s lectures and essays is that of morality and halakhah. There are many different paths to investigate in the commonalities and divergences between the two, including whether there can be divergences. R. Lichtenstein takes an approach with which I am comfortable, but that I acknowledge is only one of many possible Torah views. In ...

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Kol Ishah II

I came across a good online essay by R. Howard Jachter about the practical aspects of kol ishah in contemporary society. Most of the essay is a discussion of contemporary halakhah, but he concludes with the following important statement: Observance of the Kol Isha prohibition is quite challenging for us as this prohibition runs counter to the prevailing Western culture. ...

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Humrah Society II

Is it permissible to be stricter than one’s parents or grandparents on halakhic matters? The Gemara in Gittin (5b) records a suggested change in the procedure of writing a get that was rejected so as not to cast aspersions on the gittin of earlier generations. Perhaps here, too, we may not be strict so as not to cast aspersions on ...

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Habad Messianism

I think by now we are all familiar with the particular form of Habad messianism that holds the deceased Lubavitcher Rebbe, R. Menahem Mendel Schneerson, to be the messiah. There are some who believe that he is already the messiah and wait for his resurrection, some who even believe that he never died, some who believe that he will definitely ...

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Humrah Society

We are all familiar with the trend towards crazy humros and how some people are going out of control. However, they seem to me to be the extreme and do not represent the norm. I am not implying that the Orthodox community as a whole has not moved towards increased observance and stringency. Rather, I question whether this is a ...

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Guilt by Association

The Shulhan Arukh, Hoshen Mishpat 3:2 writes, “A scholar is prohibited from sitting down to a court case until he knows with whom he is sitting lest he sit with men who are unfit and becomes part of a rebellious group rather than a court.” While this halakhah only technically applies to a religious court, it is important advice for ...

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