Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Rav זצ"ל on Halakhic Change

In light of the recent exchange on the so-called חומרה דרבי זירא and the Conservative movement's imminent "תקנה" to tear more verses out of the Torah and regularize גילוי עריות, I thought I'd post part of Dr. Eitan Fiorino's transcription of the Rav's famous 1975 polemic to the YU Rabbinic alumnii. (I've done some light editing.)

What does kabalas ol malchus shamayim require of the lomeid hatorah, the person who studies Torah?

First, we must pursue the truth, nothing elsebut the truth; however, the truth in talmud torah can only be achieved through singular halachic, Torah thinking, and Torah understanding. The truth is attained from within, in accordance with the methodology given to Moses and passed on from generation to generation. The truth can bediscovered only by joining the ranks of the chachmei hamesorah. It is ridiculous to say "I have discovered something of which the Rashbadidn't know, the Ktzos didn't know, the Vilna Gaon had no knowledge, I have discovered an approach to the interpretation of Torah which is completely new"...

One must not try to rationalize, from without, the chukei hatorah and one must not judge the chukim and mishpatim in terms of the secular system of things. Such an attempt, be it historicism, be it psychologism, be it utilitarianism, undermines the very foundations of Torah u-Mesorah, and it leads eventually to the most tragic consequences of assimilationism and nihilism, no matter how good the original intentions.

Second, we must not yield -- I mean emotionally, itis very important -- we must not feel inferior, experience or develop aninferiority complex, and because of that complex yield to the charm --usually it is a transient and passing charm -- of modern political and ideological sevoros (logic). I say not only not to compromise --certainly not to compromise -- but even not to yield emotionally, not to feel inferior, not to develop an inferiority complex.

The thought should never occur to us that it is important to cooperate just a little bit with the modern trend or with the secular, modern philosophy. In my opinion, yehadus (Judaism) does not have to apologize either to the modern woman or to the modern representatives of religious subjectivism. Thereis no need for apology -- we should have pride in our mesorah, in our heritage. And of course, certainly, it goes without saying one must not try to compromise with these cultural trends, and one must not try to gear the halachic norm to the transient ways of a neurotic society, which is what our society is.


Anonymous said...

what would the rav say about the entire school of thought that makes use of critical texts for halakhic purposes... did you discuss your dissertation topic with the rav?

Ben Bayit said...

what would the Rav have said about the current movement afoot in Modern Orthodox circles to "abrogate" the mitzva of mechiyat amalek?