Thursday, February 04, 2010

Post Orthodoxy Reconsidered IV: PO in Practice

Hovering over the ongoing discussion of Post Orthodoxy (which, if the comments to Hirhurim are any indication, are getting increasingly nasty) are the issue of Rabbinic Authority and Massorah. I've addressed the former on numerous occasions during the five years that this blog has been functioning (see, though, here). Moreover, it appears to me that the latter is much more critical to an evaluation of Orthodoxy's present challenges. Here again, the knife cuts both ways. Critics of Left-wing innovations, often justifiedly, trumpet their all too often insensitive dismissal of centuries of halakhic practice (סוגיא דעלמא).

However, as I noted in the previous posting, the Left does not have an monopoly on such cavalier dismissal of Hazal, Rishonim, Aharonim and Posqim. The Right is equally able to grossly violate the canons of Halakhic Decising, and embitter thereby peoples' lives.

Consider, once again, the case of concersion. According to information published by Rivka Lubitsch, the Israeli rabbinate now has a policy of not recognizing qualified conversions, and keeping converts on probation forever. Such a policy flies in the face of and explicit Gemora, which is accepted by EVERY MAJOR POSEQ ever since, that after the convert emerges from the miqveh, he is a Jew even if he subsequently worships idols (B. Yevamot 47b).

That's not a violation of סוגיא דעלמא. I'm not sure what it is. Orthodox Judaism, it isn't!


Larry Lennhoff said...

Well, we can solve the problem going forward (much like pre-nups can eventually resolve most agunah issues) if we follow the proposal to <a href=":>stop doing conversions</a>.

Jonathan said...

I would think that the Right-wing interpretation (i.e. increasing chumras) is directly causing a large number of people to *lose* respect for the rabbinical establishment (and thus me more likely to tend towards the autonomic interpretations of tradition they seem to fear). As a concrete example, in a certain town in Israel, Quinoa was considered acceptable for passover. A few years ago, though, the chief Ashkenazi rabbi of the town gave a shiur on it, where he basically went through all the sources showing why it should be OK, but then went on to rule that, for reasons of ma'arit ayin, it should be considered kitniyot anyway (and thus assur)! (It also appears the OU is heading this way, see At least one attendee of the shiur commented afterward that the conclusion was shtuyot, and that based on how the reasoning was presented, he felt inspired to drop the kitniyot restriction altogether!

In general, I would think that any time a prominent Rabbi rules that something previously mutar is now assur, he will drive a certain subset of people (fully Orthodox) to question his authority, as by extension the authority of his entire rabbinical cohort. In particular, if in the future this Rabbi rules something as assur, people would be prone to question whether perhaps this was a another instance of something that should really be mutar!

Shira Salamone said...

Thanks for the information, though it certainly wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

mycroft said...

Sadly when the RCA stopped standing behind geirus that follwed their procedures for decades in an attempt to kowtow the chareidi right the MO lost a lot of its legitimacy. Now MO organizations will do what is politically good for thir members rather standing up for principle.