New Old Torah

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2 Responses

  1. DF says:

    It’s a great passage, and I’ve also heard Dr. Leiman cite it. One does indeed see new insights as he gets older. But, I feel obliged to say, one also learns new approaches and methods, not all of which can be squared with traditional methods. And the pasasge from the Chovos Halevovos itself urges readers to seek the plain sense of the words [in Tanach, but presumably same would apply to Talmud.] Yet, as one grows older and wiser, one sees that much of what he had been taught in the past does not, in fact, accord with the plain sense of the text. The point is, if one TRULY follows this excellent advice of the Ba’al Chovos Helevovos, it may lead to unexpected results.

  2. Dovid Kornreich says:

    “You should do the same with the words of Chazal and our mesorah, contemplating them and judging them favorably. This means appreciating their depth and richness, and therefore not contenting yourself with the formulations you put together when you were younger.”

    I should hope more Orthodox academicians would take this to heart and stop treating Chazal as if they were simpletons who uncritically echoed the conventional wisdom of their time.

    “The wise man has his eyes in his head (Koheles 2:14).” The wise man is always looking back towards where he came, examining his early Torah for the effect it had on him, differentiating between what has been good for his development and what has hindered his growth. He uses this awareness to strenghthen what has been helpful, and to replace what has not. The fool, on the other hand, never looks back. His sole concern is moving on.”

    Interesting how Dr. Menachem Kellner quotes Maimonides as giving the complete opposite message:
    Maimonides says in his letter to the Jews of Marseilles, “For is it not apparent that
    many statements of the Torah cannot be taken literally, but, as is clear from
    scientific evidence, require interpretation that will make them acceptable to
    rational thought. Our eyes are set in the front and not in the back. One should
    therefore look ahead of him and not behind him.”

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