Finding Fault with Fatwas

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8 Responses

  1. Loberstein says:

    While Islam deals with these issues, people are being murdered every day in the name of Islam. Jews sometimes talk about “mridin velo maalin” putting a heritic in a pit and letting him die. I have yet to hear of anyone who actually did it in modern times. The Muslims kill heretics on a daily basis, Sunnis kill Shiiites just for being Shiites in Iraq ( and our boys are caught in the middle). What good is dialogue with tame Muslims if they have no influence and will be killed if they say anyting not politically correct. I understand that suicide bombers used to be considered heretics, now they are martyrs. The religion changed and the clerics are powerless to stop the murderers in the name of Islam.
    Point number 2: “Without the burden of the hadith, “problematic” passages in the Qur’an could be dealt with in the same manner that most Christian learned to deal with problematic passages in the Gospels – as products of their time and milieu, rather than statements of doctrine.”
    This is exactly what the Conservative Movement says about biblical prohibitions that conflict with current sensibilities.” It may have started with the rabbinic parts but now it includes the torah also. When we see the possibility in other faiths of such reasoniing, we open ourselves to those who tell us to look into the mirror at ourselves. How do you answer that?

  2. Jacob Haller says:

    Points expressed in this article dovetail nicely with the previous one (and its comments) regarding Dar-Al-Islam. There’s definitely a pragmatic element that guides policy. For example, if a mode of deterrance on the part of Israel is coupled with increased suspicion on the part of Islamic Arabs due spurious religious edicts regarding why they’re fighting in the first place then hopefully their morale will entropy and decide it’s not worth it. That paves the way for a cease of hostilities.

    Those words “cease of hostilities” were chosen carefully. The idea of “peace” amongst nation-states should be used with trepidation since in more recent times it’s loaded with a secular ersatz messianism. Don’t mean to be cynical but is it coincidental that groups who repeat the “peace” mantra ad infinitum are the ones less likely to be grounded in Torah, Halacha and Emunas Chachamim?

    On a personal note, during the “Shema Kolainu” section of the Shemona Esrai one can insert a personal tefila before “Ki Atah”. Mine has been “Ribono Shel Olam: May the enemies of B’nei Yisroel be humbled”. For whatever it’s worth, to me it resonates better than requesting for example that they’re blown to smithereens. If that’s what’s meant to be than so be it but it’s likely beyond the pale for a child of Ya’acov Avinu to talk that way.

    Hope the next U.S. president understands the idea of internal implosions amongst radical Islam before embarking on ideas of explosions.

  3. Bob Miller says:

    Comment by Loberstein — May 31, 2007 @ 10:21 am leads into a point that keeps arising when Jews try to interact with non-Jews. That is, we know we have a valid transmission from Sinai and they do not, so we can assert the permanence of our religion’s rules and values and their need to change their religions’ rules and values. When they cynically ask “can’t we play that game ourselves?”, we have to answer in all truthfulness, no! Sometimes we have to tell the truth even when there is zero chance to persuade anyone. Our ability to win hearts and minds really depends on our leading by example, by “walking the talk” to personify Torah virtues—not by claims we make to outsiders.

  4. Steve Brizel says:

    When you read this article, think about that famous Medrash about the two most powerful political forces that have roots in the Avos that rejected the Aseres HaDribos-Yishmael and Edom-and the reasons why they rejected them. OTOH, it is very evident that the Islamic cleric cited in the above article never heard of the halachah of Yichud and or its practical ramifications.

  5. Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

    When we see the possibility in other faiths of such reasoniing, we open ourselves to those who tell us to look into the mirror at ourselves. How do you answer that?

    1) I was not dictating terms to Muslims, but simply describing a scenario for bringing parts of Islam into the modern world. I am not the author of this scenario. It has been proposed by moderate Muslims.
    2) Those who wish to criticize us for tenaciously clinging to the notion of an immutable and Divinely authored Torah do not need any prompting or any excuses.
    3) The question is still a very good one. The answer is what in my mind was the chief point of the piece. As frum Jews, we have a very good idea of where to draw the line between what can change and what cannot. We can easily point to the sources. Skeptics can choose to deny the validity of those sources, but our “road map” is drawn well. We know that Torah law cannot be changed or abrogated; rabbinic law can change if and only if certain criteria are met. In other faiths, much more was left to the imagination, and therefore open to dispute. The absolutely crucial definitions of Christian belief were debated at the Nicean Council in 325, and decided by majority vote. Muslims can fight over which hadith are reliable, and how much weight to give them, precisely because they are not part of a sacred text – like the Qur’an – whose authority is obvious once it is accepted as Divine revelation.

    It reminds me of the passage in Kuzari where the king points out that it is not only the Jews who have passed down a tradition to their children for generations. The chacham responds that the Jewish mesorah begins with a discrete series of events witnessed by an entire people. The Christian narrative, he says, has no real teeth. It is based on a hunch, a belief, an intuition. Christians could pass religion on to their children, but had to acknowledge that they were passing along a wish and will to believe, not the certainty of historical experience. Muslims may embrace 300 or 30,000 hadiths, but deep down they must recognize that they are trying to figure out the best way to add more legal substance to a text that cannot stand on its own, and for which they do not claim any Divinely given interpretive tools.

  6. Baruch Horowitz says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein points to nuance, analysis, and strong parameters as factors that enable halacha to moderate between being static and unchanging on one hand, versus adapting to reality and being “livable”, on the other. An example could be the detailed laws of Shabbos, which are countered by equally detailed laws on how to set them aside when saving a life, to allow the Torah’s laws to “lead to mercy, kindness, and peace in the world”(Rambam, Hilchos Shabbos). The existence or lack of these values among adherents determine how people measure the strength of any religion. Historically, the Torah created(or further developed from the Avos’ attributes) compassion as a national Jewish value, as different sources note. Belief in the mesorah means that this is an innate and original part of the Torah, as distinguished from the Conservative(positive-historical) view, mentioned above.

    On another note, some people have been disturbed upon observing events and trends among some contemporary Orthodox segments, and have been lead to question whether the ability for balance, flexibility, and livableness will carry over into the future, as opposed to the situation of fundamentalist religious groups. I found chizuk(inspiration) in Rabbi Adlerstein’s points elsewhere(I hope I am quoting in the full context and relevance):

    ” What I asserted – and completely believe – is that it cannot and will not happen all over, and even where it does happen it is a matter of time before things return to normal. I have faith on the ability of a text- and protocol- based legal system to eventually self-correct. I see no such restraints built in to the Islamic world today. The moderate Muslims I know do not optimistically expect sizeable numbers of people to rise up and take their religion back, or even to moderate the march of the fanatics by their counterexample…

    …I figured, however, that I was speaking to maaminim bnei maaminim – people who intuited that there has to be a difference between Islamists and frum yidden, even in the most extreme form. Of course I can’t prove that they are different. For those who know in their bones that they have to be different, I hope that the arguments I presented may provide a way for reason to back up the a priori assumption.”

  7. cvmay says:

    A religion lacking divinity, is a bunch of man-made rules glued together with hay (hey this, hey that). The militancy and fundamentalist approach of the Islamic religion ensures that it will never function as a contemporary way of life. This attitude keeps the Muslim people separate & detached from reality,,always primed to spring into armed action against all infidels and western individuals. It is against their religion to negotiate, compromise or “give an inch”. The Imans claim righteousness by pulling the noose tighter & tighter around the necks of their female folks. Discussions & debates are synonymous with Shakespearean monologues, wordy with little sense. It is about time, that we recognize who and what, the Western World is dealing with. Moderates are nil, and when they gain popularity are imprisoned.
    Avrohom Avenu in parshas Lech Lecha davened for Yishmael, “If only Yishmael would live before you”….. we are continuously dealing with this tefila even today.

  8. Shira Schmidt says:

    A small point – I think there is a scene where an adult is breastfeed by a woman (not related to him) at the end of one of the classics of American literature (perhaps Pearl Buck, or This Good Earth, or steinbeck, perhpas Grapes of Wrath). I think the circumstances involved a drought or near starvation and the breastfeeding was to save someone’s life. In any case, it isn’t out of the range of the normal and possible.

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