Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Rabbi Jeremy Rosen
I can't agree with everything he has to say, but definitely an independent thinker. There is something to the formulation, "what Halakha permits is permitted - what it forbids is forbidden". But I'd kinda feel a little weird not giving some credence to millennia of organic growth and Halakha without the "intelligent design" of muddling just to see what we can get away with. Ironically, many who articulate the formula will add that history should have a say in whats done today - that contexts change, etc. For example, pilegshim. We are at the 50th Gate of teumah; to allow for pilegshim in this generation (here R. Rosen defends recent discussion) would lead to many broken homes, bitter and jaded newlyweds with a tad too much 'firsthand experience' and far more soap opera caliber drama to the Upper West Side and D.C. In a similar vein, I would suggest we also consider the formulation "transgression is transgression" - where hypocrisy can potentially be a virtue (regretably, a significant portion of affiliating Modern Orthodoxy), if the options include a systematized lowering of standards (as occurs with new movements), to what we know we can meet without having to elevate ourselves or take ourselves from 'places' we know sin will only fractal, levels we can 'attain' without wrestling with our baser instincts (to which I would point to a great C.S. Lewis bit); we may still hold as binding systematically something we transgress occasionally. But to try to defend as halakhic an idea that could only be grasped from within the whole system as deeply unwise, or simply an averah? this there is no virtuous "expanding" of Torah. I do however think single women attending mikveh is distinct from situating it in the context of the institution of pilegshim, countenancing it within the system. There are worse things that could happen than some things that go on among those who use the Jewish System generally but err at times - like not going to mikveh and being chayiv karet.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Toldot - Did the Avot Keep Mitzvot?
R. Menachem Leibtag

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

"The people I talk to I cannot daven with...the people I daven with, I cannot talk to"

This popular adage from German-Israeli Professor Ernst Simon (the exact form of it I have from R. David Weiss Halivni from his "The Book and the Sword" [a picture with heart I just found], where he states he'd heard the wording himself), may be more complex than merely a commentary on historical scholarship and emunah.
I recently found a statement by Zvi Zameret in Winter 1971 edition of Conservative Judaism, that in conversation, R. Joseph Dov Ber Soloveitchik asked of Ernst Simon why he associated with the Conservative movement (I am assuming in Israel?). His response was;

"I can pray with Orthodox Jews, but after services, I can hardly share a word with them. But I can both pray and converse with Conservative Jews".

This adds profoundly to the whole nature of the popularly attributed quote, for which I have found no actual attribution aside from R. David Weiss Halivni. It goes from speaking about his widely-known, but personal and lonely reconciliation with two incommensurate perspectives to say the same individual ultimately found community - and this fact was spoken over to a specific - and renowned - individual.

I offer this only as an historical curiosity, not commentary on the Conservative/Masorti movements as they presently exist - though I think something like the potential-split of the Episcopal Church from the world Anglican Movement will happen, in some sense, with the Conservative movement.

Friday, November 02, 2007

The World Without Us
Interview with Alan Weisman on his new book, "The World Without Us", a "what if" about the world in the event of our disappearance. more to come maybe, but I have no computer at home and little time at work to blog anymore.

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