Sunday, April 15, 2007

Lo Tosaif Ala'av, v' Lo tigra'ah Meemenu...

[with obvious caveats, I present R. David Weiss Halivni, w/my annotations & emphasis]

"...those who tolerate changes in religious law [to the "Left" of ones ideology as well as the "Right"?...] evoke the concept of 'continuous revelation' [which is a popular conservative phrase; might certain popular conceptions of Daat Torah also fall under this title?] to endow them with religious power similar to that of the ancient Sages, who, in their opinion, also changed laws. Not willing to deny revelation completely - foor that would undermind the basis of religion altogether - those who tolerate change claim that each generation determines the content of revelation, which may at times require a canceling of some old laws [though mostly about Conservative ideology, R. Yuter does present examples where perceives haredi Orthodox as in essence ignoring laws]. That right is given to them because they are also beneficiaries of revelation. Revelation is continuous. The content of revelation, throughout the ages, need not be uniform; indeed it may be contradictory [if some conceptions of Daat Torah as somehow continuations of Nevuah would include retroactive application of the concept of Daat Torah, there has indeed been a supeceding of the Daat Torah of R. Hirsch, R David Tzvi Hoffmann, etc, many of whoms concepts are now not acceptable].

...Classic rabbinic literature knows not of continuous revelation. Its occasional reference to heavenly interventions...are not decisive in halakhic matters [if revelations claimed from heaven were given a vote but not veto, even less so now]. The normative position of this literature is that various forces, historical...religious...were aligned - in a way that will never repeat itself - to bring about a constellation where God encoutered human beings and revealed himself to them [to all Israel; this was an inheritence to all Israel]. The Torah is the legacy of that encounter, and whatever is required for spiritual instruction and well-being is contained therein, either through oral revelations or through exegesis [which, by Rambam's Introduction, was agreed on finally with Raavina, Rav Ashi and the Mishneh Torah]. That legacy is complete. It needs no further intervention...if we do not accept continuous revelation, and do not see the later decisions of endowed with revelatory power, then such decisions have primarily pragmatic value - they foster unified behavior among various constituents [what could better define the completely-explicable sociological norms of the haredi, the 'modern', the "yeshivishe oylam"?...]. By themselves, these decisions add no new divine dimension to the views they expound [does not classic Chassidut discuss itself as a 'new' revelation, as well as certain perspectives in Kabbalah?]. Deciding in favor of one view over another does not affect the revelatory composition, whose source and validation lie solely in the Sinaitic revelation of the Torah (written and oral), and in the interpretation of this revelation. No human act can aspire to that status." (Revelation Restored, .pp 88-89)

Albert Baumgarten of Bar-Ilan University on R. Halivni.


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