American Libertarianism, Orthodox Libertarianism, and Lessons from Shushan

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104 Responses

  1. Ari Heitner says:

    Predicting society’s collapse is a dangerous hobby – the ability to divine patterns from a few scattered data points (which my Psych 101 prof called “uniquely human”) can lead to seeing what we expect to see. R’Yitzchok Berkovits described this as Yitzchok Avinu’s mistake about Esav: he kvetched reality to fit his assumption that his son was a tzaddik.

    Is America crumbling? New York is safer than it has ever been. Technology is allowing society to hold its leaders to greater levels of accountability. Young people are moving back to urban centers, revitalizing blighted neighborhoods.

    Okay, the usual suspects on the left wing of DC rabbinic leadership are up to their standard antics. Will anyone eat their hechsher? Dunno. Will anyone recognize their geirus outside of their local community? Doubt it – not that geirus across the country was better than a crap shoot for the last 100 years. Are they doing a favor to anyone they convert? No.

    And okay, Katz is running his mouth again – entertaining to see how the FB denizens took to his disrespect of Rashi (“A rhetorical flourish,” he claims). Sad really how he gets R’Student’s excellent piece on Kiddushin completely upside-down (was the Netziv, in 19th-century Lithuania, writing apologetics for our 21st-century sensibilities?!). I imagine R’Student is above responding to stupidity.

    Katz and his YCT friends are not kosher and not yosher, but they and their fellow travelers have been making noise on the left for a long time. Nu.

    But my fears fall in line with R’Gordimer’s with respect to the rot in our own מחנה: Freundel, Silver, Rapfogel, the ongoing mess in Ponevezh, the attacks on Rav Shternbuch ….

  2. Mike S. says:

    The Ramba”n also believed that Torah in general and halacha in particular was a means to teach deeper values. And that Rashi’s question is quite puzzling. See his comments at the beginning of Breishit, to “kiddoshim tihiyu” (the full comment) and “v’asita ha tov v’hayashar…” Not that I think Ramba”n would take this where Rabbi Katz does, but it is the idea that Judaism is limited to halacha that is the radical notion, not the idea that Judaism is broader. Why else does the Torah contain narrative portion, and the Gemara contain so much aggadita?

  3. Ysosche Katz says:

    R. Gordimer, I appreciate your incessant criticism of us, it helps crystalize this important debate about the soul and future of Modern Orthodoxy.

    I just want to comment on the two of my posts you quoted, על אחרון ראשון, ועל ראשון אחרון.

    1) As R. Velvel Brisker Z”l used to say, דין אמת לאמיתו means that you fight truth with truth. Therefore, if you’re going to quote my posts, it behoves you to quote it in full. The quote about the Achronim reading the Mishna through a modern and feminist lens was not my own chiddush. I was merely summarizing R. Gil Student’s analysis of the modern reinterpretation of the Mishna by the Netziv, based on a novel idea of the Ketzos. Your readers deserve to know the full context of my comment.

    2) As for my first post, I couldn’t agree with you more. You and I have a fundamental disagreement about how to best cure the ills of our community. I suspect that we both agree that MO is currently broken, we just strongly disagree on how to fix it. I believe neo-chassidut is the solution, you disagree. I believe that infusing our observance with meaning and utilitarian purpose will fix things, you think it will make things worse.

    I strongly believe that our debate is a real מחלוקת לשם שמים, and as such, is סופה להתקיים.

  4. joel rich says:

    The concerns are real. I often wonder what the betting lines were on staying within the orthodox fold for the movements now known as chassidut and Conservative Jewry, I’m not sure which way I would have bet. Interesting would be the current lines on OO and meshichists.
    KT

  5. Bob Miller says:

    While elements of some libertarian thought are as described here, the more apt word might be libertine. From Google:

    lib·er·tine

    noun
    1.a person, especially a man, who behaves without moral principles or a sense of responsibility, especially in sexual matters.
    synonyms: philanderer, playboy, rake, roué, Don Juan, Lothario, Casanova, Romeo; More
    2.a person who rejects accepted opinions in matters of religion; a freethinker.

    adjective
    adjective: libertine
    1.characterized by a disregard of morality, especially in sexual matters.
    “his more libertine impulses”
    2.freethinking in matters of religion.

  6. Gil Student says:

    I do not recognize R. Ysoscher Katz’s summary of my words. If he is going to quote me, it behooves him to quote me correctly. His ideas about “reinterpretation” and “novel idea” are his own and do not accurately represent my views.

  7. Ysoscher Katz says:

    Thanks R. Student for responding. I think this is an important debate. I posit that your suggested read of the first mishna in kiddushin is a reinterpretation and most certainly was not the way it was originally understood by the Rishonim. I have no doubt that until the 18th century, when the ketzos came around and introduced the novel idea of a kinyan issur, the mishna in kiddushin was understood as describing a real and conventional acquisition. האשה נקנית meant that a woman is bought and acquired, in a manner that is similar to any other transaction. Once the ketzos came around, we were able to reinterpret the mishna in a way that resonates with a more modern notion of what Jewish marriage is about. Do you not agree?

  8. Gil Student says:

    I see this is an important methodological difference. Do we see Talmud commentators as creating their own worldviews and reading them INTO earlier sources or do we see them as searching for the original intent of the Sages throughout the generations? I follow the latter approach, which I think takes these scholars seriously and at their words. I do not believe that they reinterpreted anything but attempted to interpret the sources as honestly as possible. While there are occasions when I think later scholars were wrong, and unintentionally misread earlier scholars effectively reading into their writings, I do not consider this the goal nor the overall description of the commentarial enterprise.

    The first approach seems to me overly skeptical and ultimately self-defeating — you can then challenge yourself (or your students can challenge you) that perhaps you are reading your own approach into the Ketzos!

  9. Mike T says:

    R’ Katz – are you suggesting that there was no idea of Kinyan Issur before the Ketzos? Don’t the Ramban (Kiddushin 16a) and other Rishonim there already have it about Eved Ivri? And do you really think there are no indications within the Rishonim that a woman isn’t a regular acquisition?

  10. Ysoscher Katz says:

    I am in the middle, somewhere between your first and second approach. I agree that we ultimately are looking for original intent, but, I nevertheless believe that the impetus for that search is or modern sensibilities. The desire to create a harmonious relationship between ratzon Ha’shem and our contemporary values fuels the drive to reexamine the tradition to see whether our initial read was perhaps wrong. Ultimately, I want to end up the same place as you, trying to decipher God’s will and using modern values to help us do that in the most optimal fashion.

  11. Reb Yid says:

    Wherever one falls on this issue, the comments between the actual individuals involved in these writings should be the model for all future threads.

    Despite the fact that R’ Katz has suffered more than his share of vilification in these forums, his responses have been respectful and on point. There are no ad hominem attacks going back and forth. Here, we don’t have to worry about what someone was actually thinking or saying (or relying on someone else to interpret what others have said, often in unflattering ways). Here, we’re seeing the back and forth from the original posters–this is the way it should be! Kol HaKavod.

  12. Ysosche Katz says:

    Mike T., Eved ivri of course preceded the Ketzos, but he’s the first one to crystalize it and set up as a quasi monotery category.

    As for the indications in the Rishonim about marriage not being an acquisition: that’s precisely my (and perhaps R. Student’s) point. There were “indications” which were overlooked until we went back, reexamined the texts with a fine-toothed comb and realized that it was there all along, waiting for us to be discovered.

  13. Heshy Grossman says:

    Perhaps it’s worthwhile to have Ysoscher Katz explain his position here. In his enthusiasm to see how contemporary values lead us to discover that ‘our initial read was perhaps wrong’, he demonstrates only how to substitute pseudo-lamdanus for true Talmudic scholarship. It may pass msuter in the Talmud Department, but his approach is laughable, were it not so sad, and wouldn’t get past any Shiur Aleph in a Yeshiva Gedola. The Ketzos HaChoshen was not the first authority to understand the Kinyan Kiddushin as different than pure property acquisition, and in fact, the issue is at the heart of many Shittos HaRishonim. This is all explained at length in any Sefer one would open in the Bais Medrash. The Re’ah alludes to this in explaining the first Rashi (long before the Ketzos), and nearly all the Rishonim express in different ways the unique nature of the Kinyan Ishus. Perhaps you could say that the Ketzos was the first to coin this term of ‘Kinyan Issur’, but to be precise, the piece that he refers to is actually the Avnei Miluim (Teshuva 17).

  14. Ysosche Katz says:

    Thank you Heshy for so clearly (albeit a bit too stridently) articulating the opposing view. I of course vehemently disagree with this approach. Superfically blurring nuanced differences is academically wrong and religiously dangerous.

  15. dr. bill says:

    This discussion is touching on a critical issue – how do modern ideas or notions influence our understanding of ancient texts? To argue the goal has always been to only uncover original intent and that one’s cultural milieu should have no impact is difficult to maintain given significant evidence to the contrary. On the other hand, to read current viewpoints into an ancient text, is likely to distort meaning. Even in strictly mathematical/scientific areas, confusion on this point abounds; in social or ethical areas, the argument often becomes politicized with points of view depending on whether the modern viewpoint is judged favorably or not. This is hardly an either/or discussion; reality is much more nuanced.

    That one can find antecedents to the brisker or academic approaches to Talmud amongst Rishonim, is unquestionable. Nonetheless, these methodologies reflect the influence of their environments.

  16. yehudi says:

    As usual, Rabbi Gordimer’s articles are right on target. YCT is such a disgrace and must immediately be exposed to all of Jewry that in no way are they to be considered Orthodox and are definitely, Reform or Reconstructionist or whatever new cult there is out there. They will fit in perfectly (probably are already) with the ‘one new religion’. They should be put into cherem.

  17. Rafael Araujo says:

    Dr. Bill – its one thing to argue influence from milieu that is passive. Its quite another to argue that the Ketzos or the Netziv were reinterpreting to advance an agenda to remake the mishna in Kiddushin in their image- which is exactly what the OO does when in actively and intentionally reinterpreting in light of feminist theory and feminist critiques of Judaism and halochoh.

  18. mycroft says:

    “The concerns are real.”

    I agree the concerns are real but one does not know which way OO wlll turn/

    “I often wonder what the betting lines were on staying within the orthodox fold for the movements now known as chassidut and Conservative Jewry”
    One takes for granted today that Chassidism is a traditional type of Yahadus but it was a revolutionary movement even rejecting clear halachot from the Talmud see eg Eating in Sukkah in Galus on Shmeinei Azeret. Some historians have claimed that Chassidism and the Haskalah were the one two punch that successfully challenged Rabbinic and Halachik authority which led in less than a hundred years from a Jewish population in Europe almost totally observant to one that was substantially non observant.
    Even in my lifetime there have been mainstream arguments challenging Hassidic thought as playing with fire.
    ” Interesting would be the current lines on OO and meshichists”
    Agreed-but it is not clear which way they will turn out and it is certainly not in our interests to increase the odds of their leaving.

  19. Shades of Gray says:

    I heard an interesting story regarding R. Aharon Kotler and “kinyan issur” when speaking with two of my rebbeim who are his students. Apparently, the talmidim in Lakewood were arguing all night about what a kinyan issur was. R. Aharon came in the morning and said, “a kinyan issur is a kinyan issur !”

    The conversations were a while ago, but I think the points they were making were broad ones– that one should not try to fit lomdishe concepts, which are spiritual and metaphysical, into familiar ones(which I found myself trying to do in order to grasp them) but instead, to accept the concept as is. Similarly, one should not “philosophize” about legal, Torah concepts.

    (I wonder, though, how far this can be supported from the incident with R. Aharon, since there is no equivalent of “kinyan issur” in secular thought. Also, what did the different Roshei Yeshiva hold of the intersection of lomdus and philosophy, such as the Rogatochver and the Moreh Nevuchim. In “The Metaphysics of Property Interests in Jewish Law: An Analysis of Kinyan”, R. J. David Bleich uses Western thought, such as that of Plato, to understanding kinyan(reviewed in Cross Currents, September, 2010, “Rabbi Bleich on Kinyan”. R. Bleich briefly discuuses kinyanim in marriage in that article). R. Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer discusses Darchei Halimud in “An Analysis of Darchei HaLimud (Methodologies of Talmud Study) Centering on a Cup of Tea”.)

  20. dr. bill says:

    Rafael Araujo – I fully realize the difference between passive and agenda driven. But, there are examples of passive adoption that can lead to issurei d’oraysah, albeit rarely, and there are agenda driven viewpoints that arguably have become ikrei he’emunah to a majority of orthodox Jews. I wonder if passive adoption, because it is not easy to spot, may be yet harder to examine carefully. It is also necessary to differentiate between passive and agenda driven in a halakhic versus a hashkafic context.

    I would not be so quick to attack without reservation what you label “feminist critiques of halakha.” We have a long tradition of poskim applying different criteria to deal with particular halakhot where the halakha imposes a burden on an innocent individual. Living in a modern society may require use of different halakhic techniques, than were needed before. These are largely meta-halakhic issues well beyond the scope of a short blog comment.

  21. Gil Student says:

    I suggest that R. Ysoscher Katz was too quick to dismiss Mike T’s citation of the Ramban. Elsewhere, Ramban states that a husband does not own his wife. R. Yitzchak Twersky (not the professor) discusses it in an article in Yekara De-Chaim, the memorial volume for R. Chaim Yaakov Goldwicht. I uploaded the relevant page here: http://i1.wp.com/www.torahmusings.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/image1.jpg

  22. Ysoscher Katz says:

    Shades of gray.

    I heard that story somewhat differently. When I was in Brisk they used to tell that story about R. Chaim and the topic was shibud. It’s a long story, but the gist of it is that two students were debating whether shibud is a full kinyan or chatzi kinyan (shitas ha’Ritva.)When they asked R. Chaim, he said to them somehat angrily that it’s neither a whole kinyan nor a half, instead “shibud is shibud.

    My RY (R. A. J.) thought that the chiddush was lomdish/methodological; that instead of always trying to fit concepts into preexisting categories it is important to realize that sometimes concept are new and operate on an internal and self-explanatory logic.

  23. Ysoscher Katz says:

    R. Student,

    This is obviously not a conversation for a blog comments section. In addition to the Ramban you mentioned one would also have to look at shitat harishonim about kinyan chazaka for marriage and also the sugya of terumah and kinyan kaspo (where a surface read clearly seems to suggest that marriage is transactional).

    Thanks for starting this conversation. Hopefully we can pick it up at another time, in a more appropriate venue.

  24. Mike T. says:

    R’ Katz – I respect the desire to not have this conversation in a blog comments section. Just to clarify for myself where things are now at – it looks like the Ramban in Gittin explicitly states the position that you maintain is actually a later insight that is based on modern sensibilities. Doesn’t that end the conversation and make it clear you weren’t correct?
    (I agree Kinyan Kaspo is an important sugyah for this question with a range of shitos in Rishonim. I just think the question of whether this is a modern vs. classical interpretation is now relatively clear.)

  25. Ben Bradley says:

    This disagreement about how to understand the intent of talmudic commentary is not just important, as R’ Gil (under)states. It’s the essential difference between authentic Judaism and the others. If the intent of a commentary is to make a text conform to modern values qua modern values,then it’s no longer an attempt to seek ratzon hashem and must therefore be pasul. This should be obvious from the the basic motivation for learning Torah in the first place, which is to understand divine wisdom (chochmas hashem). If it’s from God it must be a system fundamentally independant of any external considerations, notwithstanding that practical application requires consideration of local conditions.

    R Katz states “Ultimately, I want to end up the same place as you, trying to decipher God’s will and using modern values to help us do that in the most optimal fashion.” And there’s the rub. It simply can not be that the values which happen to be current can help us decipher a system from beyond time and space.

    This insistence on assuming such basic methodological mistakes were made by the great classic commentaries is the hallmark of the whole neo-conservative world.

    There’s much confusion as to what the definition of Orthodoxy is and how that relates to its left fringe, but I think this really is the central issue. I would challenge anyone to find a position anywhere in the classic sources which indicates that current values should used to ‘reinterpret’ Torah sources. This is against the whole idea of Torah and is the dividing line between the kosher and the pasul.

  26. Ysoscher Katz says:

    Mike T. I was trying to be respectful but since you insist I’ll say it: that is a mistaken read of the Ramban. Look again, that Ramban is discussing a single woman (she is divorced and there are now עוררין on the get), so of course she’s not ממונא של הבעל. I fail to see how anyone can think that this Ramban is relevant to our conversation.

  27. Ysoscher Katz says:

    Ben, I strongly disagree with you. What you’re describing is ultra-orthodoxy, what I’m advocating is modern orthodoxy; orthodox but at the same time turning to modernity to help us better serve the ribono shel olam.

  28. Heshy Grossman says:

    This conversation with Ysoscher Katz is reminiscent of what happens when non-Orthodox rabbis meet up personally with a frum group: in their desire for acceptance they blurt out a Mishna or Ma’amar Chazal in some inaccurate way, and don’t realize that their attempt at scholarship exposes them to be frauds. With their own limited understanding of Torah, and so unexposed to Talmidei Chachamim, they never imagined that those familiar with Torah will immediately recognize the farce.

    For Ysoscher Katz, what could prove that he is ‘one of the boys’ more than citing a Ketzos? True, it may be a bit unseemly to use the Ketzos as a prooftext for a rebellion against eighteen hundred years of traditional Talmud study, but he apparently assumed that no one would be familiar enough with the first Perek of Kiddushin to cry foul.

    Well, I doubt that a person who would publicly claim that Rashi’s understanding of Torah (starting with the first Rashi in the Torah, yet!) is mistaken will be swayed by anonymous blog commments, but perhaps we can all learn a lesson from the tragedy of YCT – let us study long and hard, and shudder at the damage done when the Torah is misunderstood. If the Talmud ‘scholar’ at YCT (perhaps due to his own personal issues) needs to declare war on the Mesorah, and the Rosh Yeshiva’s Shiur is peppered with suggestive sexual remarks, should there be any wonder why the products of this new brand of Judaism seem so bent on promoting an alternative Torah?

  29. Ben Bradley says:

    R Katz, the person who mostly clearly, consistently and forcefully expresses the idea that Torah must be understood only with reference to itself, and not to external ideas, is R. SR Hirsch. Hardly a classic ‘ultra’.
    I’m unaware of any gadol b’Torah of the last century, associated with modern or neo-orthodoxy, who has expressed sentiments consistent with your ideas about utilizing modern values or reinterpretation of classic commentaries. Certainly not R Soloveitchik, not Sridei Aish, not R Kook.

    As such, I maintain such ideas are outside of genuine Torah thought, modern, ultra or other prefix.

  30. Ysoscher Katz says:

    Heshy,

    I appreciate your stridency, there are echoes of that in my own community. While it obscures the debate, it is also a sign of passion and vibrancy. It means that the doomsayers are wrong, that we are still a community that cares deeply about ideas. האי צורבא מרבנן דקא רתח אוריתא קא מרתחא ליה, מ״מ מיבעי למילף נפשיה בניחותא

  31. Chai Posner says:

    Heshy Grossman,

    And unfortunately this is reminiscent of what happens any time someone who is not “one of the boys” tries to engage in a serious conversation of the sources. Inevitably someone will attempt to shut them down with ad hominem attacks and delegitimize them – rather than engage in a genuine Torah discussion. You already tried this once, but to his credit, R Katz did not take the bait.

    You don’t know a thing about R Katz’s credentials, only the taken out of context lies in articles like R Gordimer’s most recent piece. For your information R Katz happens to be a first rate talmud Chacham – who can rattle off gemaras, rishonim and acharonim off the top of his head. Why don’t you take a cue from others on this thread and try engaging in a true discussion of the issues rather than attack. Perhaps you are afraid you might learn a different perspective.

  32. dr. bill says:

    Ben Bradley, I am reminded of the expression “do as I say, not as I do.” In the Halakhic Mind the Rav proposed a philosophy of Judaism rooted (purely) in Halakha. However, his own philosophic works often reflect modern Western thought. While, RSRH attacked Rambam for reflecting Greek philosophy, others attack the Kantian influence on RSRH. The letters of the Seridei Aish expressed views in relation to non-Jews that hardly reflect “genuine Torah thought.”

    In reality, adherence to Halakha, not worldview, is a more accurate barometer of authentic Judaism. Modernity, both its radical rejection or adoption, can lead to dangerous changes in halakhic practice.

  33. tzippi says:

    I am way out of my league here as far as trying to participate in this discussion, though I will admit to a visceral reaction to R’ Katz’s FB comment quoted in the article.(And his later response to Ben Bradley on MO and contemporary values.) I can’t access FB at the moment so I can’t read the full context. As such, I may be all wet in finding irony in R’ Katz’s comment above to R. Student, “This is obviously not a conversation for a blog comments section.”

    Going back to the beginning of the article, I have been hoping to see some of these thorny issues tackled so that we can gain clarity:
    – IIRC I heard that the sages said that Rome’s fate was sealed once the government started sanctioning marriage contracts for homosexual unions. If this is so, do we need to fear for America? It seems to be a losing battle at this point and should not necessarily be the deciding voting factor anymore. Is this so?
    – And if so, how do we teach the next generation that opposing gay marriage isn’t the moral equivalency of racism?

    I think we could use discussion about legalized drugs too, but I’m not so worried at the moment. Even Governor Jerry Brown’s gone on record as having reservations about a buzzed constituency.

  34. noam stadlan says:

    The fact that the moderators are allowing comments such as Heshy’s most recent illustrates that in their war against the liberal elements of Orthodoxy they are willing to stoop to depths of ad hominem. That is sad.
    I suggest that it is wrong to conflate non-Orthodox with uneducated. It is probably true that on average the Orthodox spend a lot more time learning than the non-Orthodox, but that does not mean that there is no scholarship outside of Orthodoxy, or that every Orthodox rav is a lamdan.

  35. Pusilanimity says:

    In the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society, in 1982, R’ Herschel Schachter wrote as follows:

    “The halacha forbids public lectures on matters of Gilui Arayot, for fear that some of those attending such Drashot will misunderstand the fine points of the law and do forbidden acts thinking that they are permissible. Many years ago, Rabbi Feinstein ruled in a responsum that the issue of family planning is included under the broad heading of Arayot, and therefore may not be treated in journals available to the public. Nevertheless, over the past twenty years this topic has been dealt with at length in both public forums and popular journals. Its treatment, unfortunately, has been less than satisfactory, with presentations often being incomplete and inaccurate. Several Gedolim felt that a new halachic paper on this subject in English would be appropriate, and it is upon their insistence that this paper is being written.”

    Perhaps Yeshivat Chovevei Torah is applying a similar rationale to their discussions of sexual topics.

    The Seridei Eish writes (Kisvei Hagaon R’ Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg 1:32):
    ואגלה להדר”ג מה שבלבי שמקום שיש מחלוקת הראשונים צריכים הרבנים להכריע נגד אותה הדעה שהיא רחוקה מדעת הבריות וגורמת לזלזול וללעג נגד תוה”ק
    While this is not quite analogous to explaining something in the Torah according to modern values, it does demonstrate that the Seridei Eish felt that modern values should be taken into account when deciding something.

  36. Gershon Pickles says:

    Heshy Grossman’s comments were not “ad hominem” at all, and in fact, I was about to say the same thing before I saw he said it. Yissocher Katz is displaying the very same tendency the insecure immingrant Jews used to show 100 years ago, by being more American than actual Americans. In the same vein, Katz obviously feels the need to show us that he too knows how to learn, and YCT are not the ignoramuses everyone takes them to be. He doth protesteth too much. Lets be honest, whatever description one wishes to apply to yct adherents, “learned” isn’t of them.

  37. Doron Beckerman says:

    Mike T. I was trying to be respectful but since you insist I’ll say it: that is a mistaken read of the Ramban. Look again, that Ramban is discussing a single woman (she is divorced and there are now עוררין on the get), so of course she’s not ממונא של הבעל. I fail to see how anyone can think that this Ramban is relevant to our conversation.

    R’ Katz’ reading of Ramban is entirely mistaken. The Ramban (along with other Rishonim on the sugya) is addressing why we allow a woman to marry based on a get if there are no “orerin” if the husband is not present to affirm its validity. Why should there be any difference between a get and an ordinary monetary shtar, about which there is an automatic claim of forgery on behalf of the party that stands to lose from validating the shtar and acting in accordance with its contents? And the answer that he (along with other Rishonim) give is that the woman is not the property of the husband, and thus the rules of how to relate to a shtar that is to her husband’s detriment are not the same as those of monetary affairs, because the husband does not stand to lose his property.

  38. Ben Bradley says:

    Firstly, I agree that Heshy Grossman’s comments, whether ad hominem or otherwise, are out of order. There was a civilised, potentially constructive dialogue going on until then. I, for one, am moche.

    Back on track, it’s certainly true that R Soloveitchik drew explicitly from Western philosophy, as Rambam drew from Aristotle and arguably RSRH drew from Kant. However there’s a world of difference between drawing on emes where ever it is to be found, which is what these thinkers were doing, and making values currently accepted in the West into a foundation for ‘reinterpretation’ of Torah or halacha. That’s why R Soloveitchik could insist on a purely halacha-based philosophy as well as reflecting Western thought without contradicting himself.

    The difference between kosher and treif is between 50% and 51% of the windpipe after all, a mere’s hairs breadth but a vital one.

    Pusilanimity – The Seridei Aish you quote does indicate a need to acknowledge current mores in determining psak but no suggestion of the kind of reinterpretation associated with YCT.

  39. Ben Bradley says:

    Dr Bill – worldview determines approach to halacha and also the way it’s observed. YCT is a good example of how an a priori approach of accepting modern values leads to changes in halachic methodology and from there to opinions in halacha l’maaseh considered unacceptable by poskim.
    After all Conservative Judaism claims fealty to halacha too.
    As such, I maintain that world view is the vital issue, all else follows.

  40. heshy grossman says:

    serious discussion of talmudic methodology takes place daily in your local yeshiva. were ysoschar katz to have a sincere interest in doing so, he would walk down the street to telshe yeshiva of riverdale and learn the first perek of kiddushin again. that is not happening, and this not a quest for the truth, but rather an organized effort to force the orthodox community to accept kefira as an acceptable and legitimate point of view. the calls to be nice and refrain from ad hominem comments are out of place in this context, for we are not dealing with a bein adam lchaveiro issue but a concerted effort to take advantage of the lack of sophisticated torah knowledge in much of the orthodox community and foment a revolution on the ground.

  41. Steve Brizel says:

    Once again R Gordimer hits the nail on the head and shows why YCT and OO always view modernity as dictating one’s adherence to Halacha and even understanding of Chazal despite readings by Rishonim and Acharonim compeletely to the contrary, in order be loyal to the feminists and their supporters who view Halacha as denigrating women

  42. Steve Brizel says:

    Look at it this way-Weimar Germany and France before WW2 were as libertine and decadent-look at what followed-Nazi Germany.

  43. Steve Brizel says:

    Yisocher Katz wrote:

    “Thanks R. Student for responding. I think this is an important debate. I posit that your suggested read of the first mishna in kiddushin is a reinterpretation and most certainly was not the way it was originally understood by the Rishonim. I have no doubt that until the 18th century, when the ketzos came around and introduced the novel idea of a kinyan issur, the mishna in kiddushin was understood as describing a real and conventional acquisition. האשה נקנית meant that a woman is bought and acquired, in a manner that is similar to any other transaction. ”

    Such a reading can only be justified if one read the Mishna without considering the views of any Rishon or Acharon. If you read the Mishnah that way, that is obviously what the feminists and their choir of suppoprters want, but it is a profoundly incorrect reading-for the reasons set forth in Ramban, Netziv and Ktzos, as set forth herein. The undertanding of that Mishna can only be that a man and woman are wedded to each other , as opposed to the rest of the world.

  44. Steve Brizel says:

    R Gil Student performed a major public service in posting the link to R Y Twersky ZL’s discussion of Shitos Ramban and Tosfos on the Mishnah under discussion. The notion that a wife become the property of her husband simply cannot be sustained by the views of Ramban, Tosfos, to say the least.

  45. Ysoscher Katz says:

    Shavua Tov, Doron

    How could you say that the Ramban is describing her status during her marriage? He writes אשה זו אינה ממונא של בעל וברשות עצמה היא לינשא. Is it possible to argue that this is referring to a married woman; is a married woman ברשות עצמה לינשא?
    אתמהה ?
    He obviously is describing her post-marital status. No?

  46. dr. bill says:

    Ben Bradley, We may not disagree, in theory. I wrote: “In reality, adherence to Halakha, not worldview, is a more accurate barometer of authentic Judaism. Modernity, both its radical rejection or adoption, can lead to dangerous changes in halakhic practice.”
    Modernity, as adopted by the three gedolim we mentioned, unquestionably impacted their decisions about halakhic practice. Those who deny that are either unaware or have a revisionist agenda. And the radical adoption of modernity has had disastrous impact.
    While some of those associated with YCT, have certainly delighted in challenging and crossing halakhic boundaries, we may disagree where and to what extent YCT belongs in the “radical” category. I also suspect that we disagree if the violations of halakha by those who radically rejected modernity are far more consequential than YCT’s (radical) adoption.

  47. Doron Beckerman says:

    The way you are explaining the Ramban would provide no answer as to why there shouid be any difference between a get and a monetary shtar, since the whole point is whether the husband has any monetary rights that need to be protected by the court. Ramban means that the get effects no release of the woman from monetary ownership, because there wasn’t any to begin with; it only serves to release he from her marital bond to her husband which restricts her from marrying another. Having received the get, this bond is severed.

    Take a look in the parallel Ritva, who states simply that the woman is not the husband’s property; an see also Rambam Hilchos Geirushin 7:24 – “Laws of prohibitions are not the same as monetary law.”

  48. Ysoscher Katz says:

    Doron,

    You still haven’t explained how you read the words וברשות עצמה היא לינשא in the Rambam. As a matter of fact your read of the Ramban is further undermined by the next Ramban Rabbi Twersky quotes. The Ramban says that חזקה doesn’t help because אין ״גופה״ קנוי. He should have said it much stronger, that he doesn’t own her at all.

  49. Ben Bradley says:

    R Katz, before we even talk about the six hundred years or so of mefarshei hashas prior to the Ketzos, as central as that is to the discussion,I simply don’t understand your theory about the ketzos in context. You see his view as entirely new and contrary to the original intention of the tanaim and amoraim, contending that this has something to do with his historical context. Yet he lived at the very beginning of the modern era, maturing as a scholar during before the French and American revolutions. Slavery was still an internationally accepted norm with only the beginings of the abolitionist movement being evident. In any case these were events in the West and hadn’t at all impacted on the very different world of Eastern European society in which he lived. Societal values in Eastern Europe had changed little if at all for hundreds of years.
    So what’s the hava amina that he had any any a priori view on marriage other than that of the Talmud?

    Dr Bill – Modernity impacts pask halacha, absolutely agree. Still disagree about adherence to halacha being the best barometer though. Adherence to halacha can be a very grey zone with people choosing random lenient minor opinions with no consistent methodology, also lesser scholars can issue ‘piskei halacha’ with little halachic weight. Also, little appreciated is that everyone, and I mean everyone, has limits on their observance of halacha as hard as they try and as pious as they may be. After all Rambam and Shulchan Aruch require, as a chiyuv, that every single action must be l’shem shamayaim (OC 231).
    In contrast, despite the stirling work on the limits of Orthodox theology in recent years and decades, Torah has characteristic dynamics in its thought processes and it’s quite possible to discern where a school of thought falls foul of this.
    I’m not certain what you mean by ‘violations of halakha by those who radically rejected modernity’, it’s quite possible we disagree here.

  50. Ysoscher Katz says:

    Ben,
    We’re discussing the Netziv who lived one hundred years later, during the height of the Modern era; the Netziv reinterprets the Mishna based a chiddush of the Ketzos.

  51. dr. bill says:

    Ben Bradley, You write: “I’m not certain what you mean by ‘violations of halakha by those who radically rejected modernity’, it’s quite possible we disagree here.”

    I think we might disagree as well. ‘Violations of halakha by those who radically rejected modernity’ include not teaching children a trade by eschewing secular studies, refusing army service in Israel, excessive modesty laws, working 40 minutes or more after sunset on Erev Shabbat in pre-war Europe, a universalization of the kollel lifestyle of yechidai segulah, vicious attacks on gedolim that are perceived as accommodating modernity, fabrication and editing of works of rishonim and achronim and worse, etc. The above is having a devastating effect and violate rabbinic and occasionally Torah law as well.

    And by adherence to halakha I do not mean searching out minority lenient opinions, except where the halakhic process would so dictate.

  52. mycroft says:

    “Casting aside the Divine moral norm in favor of subjective human norms,”
    I think that all on both sides of the argument would agree that we must follow what the Divine wants us to do and that of course includes to the extent that Halacha deals with an issue following Halacha. If one does not accept that premise one is not following traditional Yahadus. Most of us use some independent thought but also go ask various people who we deem to be our authorities questions in this area-thus the issue is who does one trust to ask ones questions to help us follow Divine desires. Some of us choose different people.

    “Still disagree about adherence to halacha being the best barometer though.”
    IMO it is the best individual barometer subject to the keeper of halacha accepts Torah Misinai and the halachik process. We accept today drastically different hashkafas see eg classical Yahadus and Chasidism are both accepted today because both essentially accept halacha despite their drastically different views of the divine.

    “Adherence to halacha can be a very grey zone with people choosing random lenient minor opinions with no consistent methodology,”
    knei lecha Rav and be consistent

    “also lesser scholars can issue ‘piskei halacha’ with little halachic weight.”
    attack the logic and sources of the psak halacha if one disagrees with it-BTW no matter if a universally accepted Gadol Hador states something but if one is convinced that they are wrong one may not be able to follow it-of course it almost always would take a lot of knowledge to be able to do that and I certainly wouldn’t attempt that but the principle is there.

  53. Shades of Gray says:

    “When they asked R. Chaim, he said to them somehat angrily that it’s neither a whole kinyan nor a half, instead “shibud is shibud.”

    R. Bechhofer discusses this in the article I quoted(“An Analysis of Darchei HaLimud (Methodologies of Talmud Study) Centering on a Cup of Tea”):

    “Another, more serious example of the difference between the Brisker and Reb Yosef Leib/Reb Shimon Derachim is in the area of Shee’abud HaGuf (personal liens). The Briskers are satisfied to explain Shee’abud as a “partial acquisition” (a “miktzas kinyan”). They classify all such amorphous transactions in a category known as “chalos” (roughly: “transaction”). They concentrate on defining “What.”

    Reb Shimon, on the other hand, feels compelled to explore the “Why.” He therefore explains that Shee’abud is a logical construct of the social contract between individuals which precedes Halacha. He draws an analogy between Shee’abud and Emuna in the existence of G-d – which also, perforce, must precede the acceptance of Torah, and is based on logical constructs.”

  54. Tal Benschar says:

    I. R. Katz is conflating two or three different issues in an attempt to support a thesis that is, frankly, specious. In an earlier post here, he writes:

    I have no doubt that until the 18th century, when the ketzos came around and introduced the novel idea of a kinyan issur, the mishna in kiddushin was understood as describing a real and conventional acquisition. האשה נקנית meant that a woman is bought and acquired, in a manner that is similar to any other transaction. Once the ketzos came around, we were able to reinterpret the mishna in a way that resonates with a more modern notion of what Jewish marriage is about.

    But as has been cited by several posters here, the Ramban in Gittin 9b and Kiddushin 3b clearly differentiates between ishus and conventional property. The phrase he uses in Kiddushin is ein gufa kanui. The reason he uses that is that it is the exact language the Gemara in Kiddushin (6b) uses to contrast ownership in a slave and marriage. Gufah kanui means the person is owned as property. Ein gufah kanui means she is not. (In Gittin, he uses the phrase ein isha zu mammono).

    The notion, therefore, that Chazal and the Rishonim viewed the marriage relationship as property is absurd. (As I pointed out elsewhere, marriage lacks the two basic characteristics of property — the husband cannot transfer his kinyan to another by sale or gift, and his heirs do not inherit it. No property is ever treated that way.)

    It is clear, therefore, that neither Chazal nor the Rishonim viewed the marriage relationship as one of property. The assertion that this is a 19th Century “reinterpretation” is demonstrably false. (The fact that the term “kinyan issur” was not used until later does not change the fact that the Rishonim viewed the marriage relationship as radically different from all forms of property.)

    II. R. Katz’s argument with R. Beckerman regarding the Ramban in Gittin is shocking in its misreading of that source. The gemara there is discussing a woman who wishes to be freed of her marital status and permitted to marry, and produces a get for that purpose. (The woman’s prior status was that she was known to be married — otherwise, she does not need a get because of ha peh she assar hu ha peh she hittir.) The Mishna indicates that, in the absence of a claim that the get is forged, we do not question its validity.

    The Tosafos Chachmei Tsorfas learned from this Mishna that a creditor who brings a shtar chov may similarly collect on it (from heirs of or purchasers from the debtor) without beis din questioning the shtar. The Ramban forcibly rejects this comparison, because in the case of the mishna, a woman is not property — she is in her own domain. The ONLY issue is whether there is sufficient evidence that the issur of eishes ish has been removed. In the case of a creditor, he is attempting to use a shtar to remove property from the possession of its owners.

    That is the contrast the Ramban is drawing. The creditor is trying to afukei mamona — take property out of the hands of the current possessors. A woman seeking to be permitted to marry is not property EVEN IF SHE WERE MARRIED! The phrase ein isha zu mammono shel baal ela birshut atzma hi linasei means that the woman is in her own domain — no one possesses her, ever. The only issue is whether the prohibition of eishes ish has been removed. The woman claims that is the case, and produces a get to back up her claim. The halacha does not view this as depriving the husband of property (as it would in the creditor case) and hence there is no need to question the get.

    The comparison and contrast are both focused on parties that are trying to affect a change using a shtar. Ramban’s point is that the change in the divorce situation is very different than the change in the creditor situation.

    III. Further proof that the Rishonim viewed marriage as different from property is the Ritva in Kiddushin on 2a and 3b. He points out that the famous gezeira shava (kicha kicha misdei Efron) is NOT a comparison of a woman to a field, but is simply a revelation that kicha means kesef. All that the gemara means is that the same process used to effectuate the purchase of land is used to effectuate a marriage.

    IV. R. Katz writes here: There were “indications” which were overlooked until we went back, reexamined the texts with a fine-toothed comb and realized that it was there all along, waiting for us to be discovered.

    Who, exactly, is R. Katz accusing of “overlooking” these sources? The Rishonim quoted here and above are pretty mainstream, and have been studied for generations. There is no reason to think that their view was somehow buried until in modern times they were revealed for apologetic purposes. The burden of proof lies with R. Katz to prove that any Rishon or Chazal viewed the marriage relationship as one of property. Thus far, the assertion is unproven.

  55. Ben Bradley says:

    Dr Bill – w.r.t. to your whole list of communal ills I’m with you that these are indeed ills. However it seems difficult to me to say they’re violations of halacha, rather mistakes in meta-halacha of varying severity (except working 40 minutes after sunset – not familiar with that episode at all). Don’t think you can point a siman and seif at any of them.
    In a way you’re highlighting my point. What you claim are violations of halacha are advocated, or some of them at least, by rabbonim universally acknowledged to be top rank talmidei chachamim. After all, for example, the chevrei badatz eida chareidis include R Moshe Sternbuch who is undeniably in full command of all the sources. Not saying you have to be a chasid of his, but he is a major posek who advocates positions you think are violations.
    Yet you want to use ‘keeping halacha’ as a benchmark for authenticity? Who’s the judge here? You? Your rabbi?
    And I realise that ‘by adherence to halakha I do not mean searching out minority lenient opinions, except where the halakhic process would so dictate’, except that those who do search them out for their own purposes will continue to claim legitimate process in so doing. So, again, we need to ask who’s judging the process, and we’re walking through treacle again.

    Look, the historical groups considered by the rabbonim of the age to be outside the pale( tzidukim, kara’im, early christians, early reform) were all characterised by specific false hashkafos. These lead to violations in practice but in criticising (and excluding) them the rabbonim consistently focussed on the p’gam in belief, ma’aseh was considered secondary. Thus the practical halachos of an epikorus are based on the problematic beliefs codified in the poskim from perek chelek, which sidesteps the whole debate in the rishonim about ikarei emuna.
    To restate, the whole project of isuk ba’torah and shemiras hamitzvos is predicated on a whole collection of hashkafos which are rarely clearly or explicitly laid out but which are nonetheless evident throughout Torah literaure. To be sure there’s a range of approaches, shivim panim n’all, but the range has borders.

    It seems clear that the sentiments expressed about ‘re-interpretation’ and modern values have no basis in the dynamics of Talmud Torah, quite the opposite, they go against essential features of Torah thought. That seems to me the main objection. Any practical ramifications of such deviant thought will inevitably be pasul.

  56. micha says:

    Side issue: About marriage as qinyan… Qinyan never meant purchase. Underinformed people might think the qinyan I perform when selling my chameitz means that I sold it to my rabbi who then resells it to the non-Jew, but everyone participating in this discussion knows otherwise. And this is why chazal never apply the laws of ona’as mamon (over charging or underpaying) to weddings, allowing the item given to the woman to vary in value from the smallest coin to anything the man could afford (rather than some market value +/- 1/6). If it were purchase payment, the bride would not have to make a qinyan on the item received. The bride pardoning a loan wouldn’t be a valid gift for the sake of marriage. There would be a third party, the seller, receiving the gift, not the “item” being purchased receiving it. In short, the laws do not resemble those of purchase. The idea that qinyan here means purchase isn’t even a plausible original intent. To say so now is a clear example of interpretation, not reinterpretation.

    As to the article, R’ Gordimer writes: “Further bolstering the idea that Halacha is of lesser import than values…” We should be clear we’re speaking of black letter law, as halakhah itself obligates pursuing those values. The Rambam’s first mitzvos in the code include things like loving G-d, being in awe of Him, refining our characters in emulation of Him, who we should build a community with, etc…

    And if understood as I am interpreting his words, I would actually agree with that statement. Values are more important to me than black-letter halakhah. Just because we can spell out the proper size of an esrog doesn’t make that law more central to Judaism, or even to halakhah, than trying to have a constant awareness of G-d or to love all Jews and the rest of humanity. Someone who follows all the laws as meticulously as he is able with no plan to use them to build a relationship with G-d and/or to refine one’s “image” of Him is not just missing a side-issue.

    My own personal discomfort come from the impression that Open Orthodoxy is simultaneously built on the opposite assumption — that Orthodox Judaism is defined by observance of black-letter halakhah, and therefore values can drift with the times while still calling the result Orthodoxy. This can be seen in the internal conversation about feminism, where the only question is what can be accommodated halachically, not what *should*. But to move away from just talking about the one topic, I have the same discomfort with Tav haYosher certification of fair and just labor conditions. Initially, I was thrilled with the idea (as denizens of Areivim can attest). Then I realized how much of the requirements were based on a particular political camp’s dednition of proper work conditions rather than the halakhos on the topic. Admittedly observing the law is one of those halakhos, but that doesn’t justify worker demands beyond both the civil law and halakhah. Values are rightfully moved back to center stage, but is anyone making sure they remain authentically Jewish values?

  57. Tal Benschar says:

    BTW, when I first started reading this article, I thought the main focus was going to be this observation (with which I heartily agree):

    Lately, I have been haunted with the feeling that the moral stability of American society is quickly and quite substantially crumbling. Although moral norms have very arguably declined over time, such decline seems to be astonishingly accelerated at present. One of my clients recently commented the same to me, and my sense is that there is a broad awareness of acute change in the air, as the standards which have formed much of the base of American society are being rapidly chipped away.

    Anyone care to discuss how this will or should impact Orthodox society? Is the response to become more insular? Or some other response?

  58. Ysoscher Katz says:

    Tal,
    I just noticed your comment. You write “The phrase he uses in kiddushin is ein gufa kanui. The reason he uses that is that it is the exact language the Gemara in Kiddushin (6b) uses to contrast ownership in a slave and marriage. Gufah kanui means the person is owned as property. Ein gufah kanui means she is not.”

    This is a tautology. אין גופה קנוי in the context of the woman means he doesn’t own her because that what it means by an eved. Well, it only means that by the eved once we introduce the notion of kinyan issur. Up until then, אין גופה קנוי by an eved meant that master didn’t own him קנין הגוף, but, he still owned him a קנין פירות. Consequently, that’s also what it means in the context of the marriage. The husband doesn’t have a קנין הגוף in her, but, she, nevertheless, still belongs to him and he has in her a קנין פירות.

  59. dr. bill says:

    Ben Bradley, Not everything in halakha is written in the SA, the need for a mechitza being a good example. Explicit texts in the Talmud and Mishneh Torah can be decisive wrt halakha.

    We disagree fundamentally about the role of halakha or hashkafa in being a better determinant of fealty to tradition. But that is a very long conversation.

    Your question how a great Rabbi could encourage the behaviors I mentioned, particularly given his vast erudition, is a good one. Unfortunately, there are many such examples, particularly when circumstances change rapidly. It may derive from the inherent differences between a textual versus mimetic tradition. The example I like to quote is R Dovid Karliner’s psakim about secular education in Russia versus Palestine over a century ago. His deep insight, that contextualized his psakim, is not as common as one would like to assume.

  60. Tal Benschar says:

    R.Katz: No, the comparison in Kiddushin 6b is between a marriage and eved canaani. The latter is property – kinyan ha guf. Neither kinyan issur nor kinyan peiros have anything to do with it.

    Simplest proof is that the Ramban on Kiddushin 3b (Ritva has this too) which has been quoted here repeatedly is answering the question of why the gemara never considered the possibility that a marriage can be effectuated through chazakah. Because, ein gufah kanui. Now if a marriage means a kinyan peiros, then why shouldn’t chazaka work? Chazakah should work to effectuate a kinyan peiros, in, for example, land or a slave.

  61. micha says:

    Tal: The response mod-O has to the moral shift in general culture has been more insularity. That’s history. The question now was whether that was the ideal choice.

  62. Ysoscher Katz says:

    You’re right, Tal, it is talking about eved knani. (I’m writing from memory. I’m at the Limmud conference, away from my seforim.) My point nevertheless still stands, to argue about marriage from eved is tutological.

    There’s also more to say about your arguments about chazaka, but it’s time to move on, we’ve exhausted this issue. I still maintain that R. Student’s read of the Ramban is incorrect and that to argue that marrigae was never considered to be transactional is wrong. There is no doubt in my mind that understanding marriage as a kinyan issur is a modernist retrojection, to argue otherwise is simply wrong.

    Regardless, Yasher koach for the massa u’mattan!

  63. Shades of Gray says:

    “but it’s time to move on, we’ve exhausted this issue”

    How about focusing on the other aspects of Kiddushin such as the Daas, intent, on both sides, and the Amirah, text? Does this make the act less transactional and sui generis ? I haven’t studied Kiddushin for a while, but I recall the following Rishonim:

    –Tosphos(Kidushin 2b)translates “mekudeshes” as “meyuchedes”, designated.

    –Ran explains the Daas of the woman is more passive than usual because of the invalidity of “nasnah hee, v’eamra hee” IIRC, so it’s not a usual acquisition.

  64. ben dov says:

    “‘R. Gordimer, I appreciate your incessant criticism of us, it helps crystalize this important debate about the soul and future of Modern Orthodoxy.”

    No, this is debate about Orthodoxy vs. de facto Conservative Judaism. Why does the author of the above line think YCT graduates are banned from the RCA?

  65. Adam R says:

    Rabbi Katz’s incredibly and unnecessarily strained reading of Ramban and the other quoted rishonim and the Gemara in Kidushin is nothing short of bizarre. Rabbi Katz, your claim that the Gemara’s own contrast of Eved Knaani with marriage is “tautological” makes no sense whatsoever. You seem to be misunderstanding the meaning of the word “tautology” ; To be honest, I’m not even sure what you even mean in invoking that word in this context. The Gemara explicitly contrasts marriage with Eved Knaani, saying that a person owns an Eved but a man does not own his wife. How exactly is this “tautology”?

    Apparently realizing that he’s been demonstrably proven wrong, Rabbi Katz conveniently evades the issue by saying that we’ve now exhausted the argument! How convenient! Tal easily disproved his ridiculous claim that a man has a “kinyan peirot” on his wife (!), an astounding chidush to which no source has ever even hinted. Rabbi Katz, to his credit, then withdrew this argument. And subsequently, not being able to defend himself, he quickly withdrew himself entirely from an unwinnable argument.

    Rabbi Katz, I have a sincere challenge for you: I challenge you to present your understanding of the Gemara and Ramban and rishonim to Rabbis Dov Linzer and Yaakov Love at YCT. I am 100% sure they will tell you, gently, that you are wrong. Say what you will about their hashkafot, but from what I hear, they do at least “know how to learn” and they should easily see through the strained nature of your argument

    I hope that Rabbis Gordimer, Student, or others more learned and articulate than I will weight in to better explain the fallacious nature of Rabbi Katz’s argument.

  66. Rafael Araujo says:

    Interestingly enough, both Rashi and Rashba (cited in a book titled “The Theory of Marriage in Jewish Law” authored by Kopel Kahana) points to the fact that if a woman was in fact property of her husband, then there could be ribbis implications. The fact that marriage is “haramas ribbis”, or the resemblance of ribbis illustrates that marriage is not a transaction involving the purchase of a woman. The Ramban, and both the Ran at the beginning of Gittin and the Meiri on daf 9 of Gittin state explicitly that a woman is not the property of her husband. You see this in Kahana’s book at pages 28 to 30.

  67. Ysoscher Katz says:

    I’d be happy to pick up this debate in person with my Ben Torah counterpart anytime. Blogging leads to childishness and superficiality. Any dabbler could quote a Gemara or a shiur from Rav Twersky. A successful discussion would have to be with someone who knows the sugya and does this full time so that they are aware of the breadth and richness of this topic; the inticiacies of kinyan in shas, the rich history of the ramban in Gittin, ( the sugya of טענינן in Gittin and othe places, the Teshuva of the Rivash, the Chasam Sofer etc.etc. Any bar by rav dechad yoma can make a claim based on a Gemara here or a rishon there but to assert that a woman isn’t נקנית based on a surface read of the Gemara on 6B when the Mishna says explicitly האשה ״נקנית״, or, to argue as one of the comments earlier said, that to say that kinyan in chazal is purchase is “uninformed” is blatantly wrong. מי שתורתו אומנתו would never make such spurious claims.

    If this debate does materialize it would be important to also look at other examples where this sort of “reinterpretation” happens. A very prominent example is, of course, the way R. Tam revolutionized hilchot AZ and yain nesech. That is another example where a contemporary reality has made the gedolim reexamine our texts to determine whether the ancient approach needs to be updated and redefined, by going back to the drawing board and indentifying new elements in the text that were always there but were imbedded beneath the surface.

  68. Shmuel says:

    R’ Katz: I am merely an observer here, and wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to take a position on the kinyan/ownership issue. I never understood that mishna to mean that a wife is her husband’s property, but I regard myself as not sufficiently qualified to take part in this debate. But to this observer, you seem to be arguing in soundbites –throwing out a conclusory statement here, dropping a name there (a famous yeshiva where you apparently were once a student, the name of its rosh yeshiva), declaring that others understand incorrectly, implying that at least some of your interlocutors are “dabblers” because they quote a “shiur from Rav Twersky” (while you yourself started with quoting an essay from R’ Student!) and then when the tide seems to be turning against you, demanding that the issue be addressed exclusively in person because “[b]logging leads to childishness and superficiality.” But you originally made the claim that is being debated on Facebook (which leads to no less childishness or superficiality than a blog does)!

    I have also observed that some (not all) of your opponents have been rude to you, which I don’t agree with. But just as their rudeness doesn’t make them look very good, your apparent slipperiness doesn’t make you look very good.

    Separately, you mentioned that “the gedolim reexamine our texts…” Assuming for the sake of argument that this is an accurate description, can you please identify the “gedolim” who are involved in the reexamination of texts that have led to YCT’s and its affiliates’ innovative ideas and practices?

    Thanks and best regards.

  69. dr. bill says:

    Rabbi Katz,
    I have not commented on the Talmudic discussion, because this is hardly the forum for so fundamental an Inyan as kinyan in various contexts. However, I feel obligated to comment on your last point, Rabbeinu Tam on AZ. The position of Rabbeinu Tam is hardly usual or the example on which I would choose to rely. I urge readers to read Prof. Katz’s “Exclusiveness and Tolerance, especially around pages 47- 48 and more pointedly, Prof. Hayes in her “enabling” / “thanking” rationales, in footnote 61, to chapter 2 of “Between the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmud.” Prof. Hayes – not a charedi – generally limits, but does not deny, examples of social factors impacting (re-)interpretation. However, as her next book will amply justify, the Rabbis, particularly in the Tannaic period, were not shy when dealing with what they perceived as injustice. This is complex topic, particularly in the context you address.

  70. Shades of Gray says:

    The question of “owning” a woman came up when I learned Kiddushin in 8th grade(many moons ago). I think one can learn something from a Talmudic blog discussion, however superficial(also, there is what to discuss regarding the Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus podcast issue, such as what the Charedi community can do in the area of sexual health, and what has already been done).

    One comment on R. Katz’s original post:

    “If YU, Meharat, YCT, JTS, and HUC don’t make sure to graduate solid talmidai chachamim, Rabbis who are well versed in the intricacies of the tradition, the modern enterprise will be doomed.”

    I don’t think RIETs, any more than any of the various Brisks, wishes to be associated with some of these institutions.

  71. Ysoscher Katz says:

    Thanks Shmuel, you really read me closely. 😉

    We can go back on forth on the secondary issues, but, I don’t think it is really kedai. I do, however, want to respond to your last comment.

    I used gedolim colloquially, I meant talmidai chachamim. I don’t believe you need Gedolim to make change, all you need is solid talmidai chachamim-who have courage. I actually believe that people confuse cause with effect on this issue. Gedolim don’t make change. It’s the other way around. Those talmidai chachamim who have the courage to make (legitimate) change eventually become the gedolim.

    The best example of this is the Rav Z”L. Rav Soloveitchik wasn’t yet a gadol when he introduced gemara to women. He did it, and that with several other courageous moves turned him into one of the gadolei ha’Dor of our generation.

  72. Ysoscher Katz says:

    Shades,

    YU belongs on this list because they are part of this spectrum which is comprised of institutions that are dedicated to making yiddishkeit palatable to the modern ear. While we strongly differ on the methodology, there’s a commonality in our goals. The Charedi velt, various reasons, unfortunately chose not to engage in this avodas ha’kodesh and therefore don’t beling in this list.

  73. Shades of Gray says:

    “The Charedi velt, various reasons, unfortunately chose not to engage in this avodas ha’kodesh and therefore don’t beling in this list.”

    Chabad and Aish Hatorah are friendly towards the non-observant; on occasion, Chabad and other Charedi kiruv organizations even get criticized for going too far in being secular-friendly. The difference might be that these kiruv organizations don’t engage non-Orthodox institutions in a way that both sides recognize and learn from each other, as does YCT. The YU world, “k’lapei chutz”, does works with non-Orthodox organizations to an extent, non-theologically.

    It’s an interesting thought what effect a contemporary Saul Liberman would have on Conservative Judaism. Practically speaking, I don’t think JTS, and certainly not HUC, are thinking in terms of producing lamdanim as their laity would have to be able to appreciate them.

  74. Shmuel W says:

    1) If it wasnt offensive it would actually be laughable. Yissochor Katz has tried throughout his comments here has a had a tone tries to portray respect and friendliness. Katz recently attempted to link R’ Gordimer (who wrote the original article) to Barry Freundel from Washington D.C. by calling him “another peeping Rabbi”. Has Katz yet apologized for using such personally inflammatory terminology? Once he does that I think perhaps we can try to return to a discussion on the issues that divide us.

    2) Katz complains that Gordimer misquotes him and then goes to misquote Gil Student. When called out Katz then tries to change the subject and talk about a related issue. It is intellectually dishonesty and verbal sophistry from a person whose movement lays claim to “openness” and intellectually rigorous standards.

    3) Katz then actually argues (with some lovely terminology) that he is trying to fit his notions into the Torah and not the reverse. That is in essence what he himself just argued. R’Rakeffet who is probably Mr. YU (and decidely modern orthodox) has made the point that is the the conservative movement in the 1950’s with all its pseudo theological justifications., as Katz just did. Its almost a chassidish mentality “Katz Gozer V’HKBH mekayem”. Judaism dictates HKBH Gozer V’ani mekayem.

    4) Your factual history on R’ Soloveitchik’s teaching gemara to women is just wrong. The very first gemarah shiur to women in Stern was in 1972 when he was already 69 and a leader of a large part of klal yisroel. Second his shiur was on the last perek in arbei pesachim which is halacha l’maaseh oriented and the R” Soloveitchiks grandchildren have argued that was the extent of his innovation. You will argue that Maimonides in Boston opened in 1937 allowed for a co-educational curriculum but most ppl who understand the era agreed that that was b/c on Boston’s unique issues of the time and it has to be understood within the context of the era and locale.

    5) The “charedi velt” is not monolithic and Katz’s last comment that paints such a broad brush need only be responded to as if he doesnt understand the “chareidi velt” which he clearly doesnt.

  75. Charlie Hall says:

    “I have been haunted with the feeling that the moral stability of American society is quickly and quite substantially crumbling.”

    I don’t know how old Rabbi Gordimer is, but I see the opposite. Some others have already made some of these points:

    The teen birth rate in the US peaked in 1957 and continues to drop; it is at an all time low. The birth rate to unmarried women has dropped for five consecutive years.

    The abortion rate in the US is now lower than it was in 1973 when abortion was legalized in 46 states. (4 states had legalized abortion in 1970).

    Thirty years ago, crack cocaine was ravaging urban America. Today, crack has been replaced with marijuana, the acute effects of which have killed exactly zero people in the entire history of humankind. (Alcohol and nicotine are far more dangerous.)

    One hundred two years ago, Theodore Roosevelt advocated a medical care safety net for all Americans. Bismarck — no liberal — had already accomplished that in Germany. Jabotinsky would advocate it for the eventual Jewish state and Israel would get it 20 years ago; Hayek and Friedman, certainly no liberals either of them, would advocate it for the UK and US. The United States finally accomplished most of that with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, enacted in 2010. Now it is no longer necessary that people die from lack of access to affordable medical care.

    Homicide rates in the US have dropped to their lowest levels in over fifty years. Much of this drop is attributable to New York City’s spectacular drop, but other parts of the US have also shown substantial declines; last year Chicago also recorded the lowest number of homicides in 50 years. Rates of other types of crime have dropped substantially as well.

    50 years ago, it was debatable whether mandatory segregation in education, public accommodations, housing, and employment might be a good idea. Now such ideas are limited to the extreme fringe. Interracial couples are now common; 50 years ago they were prohibited from getting married in much of the US.

    60 years ago, it was totally legal to discriminate against Jews in employment and education. No more.

    I could go on but you get the picture. Morality is higher now than ever in many very important areas.

  76. mycroft says:

    “The best example of this is the Rav Z”L. Rav Soloveitchik wasn’t yet a gadol when he introduced gemara to women.”
    Rav Soloveitchik was known as a gadol certainly since the 1930s when he applied to be CR of Tel Aviv. He gave the top shiur in RIETS starting in the beginning of the 40s-he actually taught Jewish Philosophy in YU before he became a RY

    ” He did it, and that with several other courageous moves turned him into one of the gadolei ha’Dor of our generation.”
    He was a gadol “courageous moves” does not turn one into a gadol.

    “Your factual history on R’ Soloveitchik’s teaching gemara to women is just wrong. The very first gemarah shiur to women in Stern was in 1972 when he was already 69 and a leader of a large part of klal yisroel.”
    But Maimonides always had equal Gemarrah for boys and girls-I have a sister-in-law and a brother-in-law who were chavrusas in Gemarrah at Maimonides. Those two are not related.He taught his girls Gemarrah certainly by the 40s.

    “Second his shiur was on the last perek in arbei pesachim which is halacha l’maaseh oriented”
    So what I went to YU-no women-mesechtas I studied Pesachim-including Arvei Pesachim, Kiddushin, Sanhedrin-None of the “classical Yeshiva
    gemarrahs

    ” and the R” Soloveitchiks grandchildren have argued that was the extent of his innovation.”
    Certainly they are all bright-but they were all young when the Rav was active-the Ravs relatives like others have various understandings of what is required-some of his grandchildren sent their children to much more Chareidi schools than Maimonides-certainly at least one sent their children to a more “modern” school than Maimonides.The Rav’s nephews are different two-one very much chareidi-another MO.

    “You will argue that Maimonides in Boston opened in 1937 allowed for a co-educational curriculum ”
    and kept it coed even when they had enough students to have two classes per grade-enough for a class of boys and a class of girls. The Rav always insisted even in letters to other institutions to have the same education for girls and boys. Note of course that the head of Maimonides school committee for its more than first 65 years was either the Ravs wife or his daughter.

    “but most ppl who understand the era agreed that that was b/c on Boston’s unique issues of the time and it has to be understood within the context of the era and locale.”
    What unique issues? Boston was not a Midbar-who brought the Rav to Boston-Chevra Shas-.
    There were many schuls in Boston-the Rav used to go circuit and speak about twice a year in about each of six schuls. Boston is not just Harvard-there are those who went there-including many of his relatives and students but the vast majority of Boston is a normal US city.Since Maimonides never changed from coed learning even when other Jewish day schools in the area were single-sexed.

    “”That is in essence what he himself just argued. R’Rakeffet who is probably Mr. YU (and decidely modern orthodox) has made the point that is the the conservative movement in the 1950’s with all its pseudo theological justifications., as Katz just did. “”
    One does not have to like YCT and I’d be happier if it never existed BUT it is a gross distortion to compare tthem to the Conservative movement of the 50s-until such time when YCT permits people to be mechalel Shabbos like the Consevative movement allowed by 1950 it is ludicrous to compare them.

  77. Yosef Bronstein says:

    Thank you all for a robust and enlightening discussion!

    Though I agree that this is not the ideal forum for an in-depth halachik analysis of the nature of kinyan in kiddushin, I would like to post a resource with more mekoros and ideas. A few months ago I gave a chaburah to RIETS’ kollel elyon which dealt with this topic in which I argued that the Ramban and his school understood the kinyan of kiddushin as fundamentally different than a kinyan mammon. They use the phrase “אין האשה ממונו של בעל to answer difficulties that arise in several sugyos and also in different set of sugyos refer to the kinyan as a kinyan issur which is contrasted with kinyan mammon (Rishonim on Kiddushin 16a for example). This approach would fit with the simple read of Kiddushin 6b and Gittin 77b that אשה לא קני ליה גופה… (as is noted by להרב נתן געשטעטנר, אור ישראל כא in his article on this topic).

    However, to the best of my knowledge (and I would love to hear mekoros if people are aware of them) the Ba’alei Tosfos do not use the notion of “אין האשה ממונו של בעל” to explain those sugyos and do not refer to the kinyan kiddushin as a kinyan issur (in fact, as far as I am aware the Tosfos do not use the phrase kinyan issur regarding an eved ivri either and explain the basis of the heter bi’ah with a שפחה כנענית differently ואכמ”ל).

    If anyone is interested, the chaburah (which attempts to cover several other related issues as well) and a partial source sheet is available at http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/819255/Rabbi_Yosef_Bronstein/%D7%91%D7%A2%D7%A0%D7%99%D7%9F_%D7%A7%D7%A0%D7%99%D7%9F_%D7%A9%D7%91%D7%90%D7%99%D7%A9%D7%95%D7%AA

    As a first attempt at a complex sugya many of my formulations lack precision. If anyone has he’aros or hasagos please send them my way. Also, there are many good articles on this topic (from both the beis midrash and from scholarship) and if anyone is interested in discussing the sugya further I would love the opportunity!

    Chodesh Tov!

  78. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Mycroft: You write that “Maimonides never changed from coed learning even when other Jewish day schools in the area were single-sexed.” What other schools? When lived in Boston 1972-1975, Lubavitch was co-ed through 5th or 6th grade. There was Shaloh House in Milton, but that was quite far away from the main community of Brookline-Brighton-Newton,and it was a Lubavitcher institution dedicated to taking the non-observant and making them frum. The first separate sex school geared to the Orthodox was Torah Academy, which opened in 1982. As to the unique issues in Boston in 1937 when Maimonides opened, there was a catastrophic lack of interest on the part of parents. Initially, only 10 boys were registered. It was then that RYBS allowed girls to enroll. (I heard the Bostoner Rebbe, who was live and living in Boston at the time tell the story, more than once.)

  79. DavidF says:

    I have very little interest in this discussion simply because I have no wish to debate Y’ Katz on any matter. To do so would grant him legitimacy and I see no reason why anyone who cares about Torah-true Judaism would want to do so. Rav Chaim Shmulevitz zt”l made this point beautifully in his famous vort on Chushim ben Dan. Only Chushim who was deaf and didn’t try to argue with Eisav took appropriate action and solved the logjam. Everyone who sat there and tried to reason with Eisav ended up getting ensnared by his shifty arguments.
    YCT can do as they please, but the rest of us should be secure enough to know that they’re not deserving of the respect that is usually shown toward Talmidei Chachomim who represent other derachim in Torah. Litvaks and Chassidim must show each other respect because our differences don’t touch the fundamentals of Yiddishkeit. YCT unfortunately has trampled on those fundamentals and will do great damage to Jews and Judaism is they ever have a chance to flourish. We shouldn’t be party to that effort.

  80. Ysoscher Katz says:

    Dear DavidF,

    I think it is important to correct your glaring historical ignorance. Chassidim and misnagdim vehemently disagreed on the fundamentals of yidishkeit. They mutually accused each other of heresy and ignorance. While the hotheads at the time tried to create a rift, ultimately the saner voices prevailed and the two communities learned to listen and learn from each other, which, as we now know, led to the betterment of klal yisreal.

    I predict that the same will happen today. The mature voices in MO will learn to drown out the childish noise, and deeply listen to one another with humility and respect. (My community needs to learn how to listen to other voices with more humility while yours needs to learn how to treat others with more respect.) The result will be a healthier Modern Orthodoxy, one that is proudly orthodox and passionately modern.

  81. DavidF says:

    Respect is not a right – it must be earned. Being spoken to politely is a right. I’m happy to politely you inform you that your movement has not earned our respect due to their willful abandonment of fundamental principles of Judaism.
    I am similarly very polite to Conservative and Reform rabbis with whom I have had occasion to interact, but I would never respect them or respect their movements. The damage they’ve caused to Jews and Judaism is immense. YCT is poised to do likewise.
    I love you as a fellow Jew, but I have zero respect for your position or movement.

  82. Reb Yid says:

    DavidF:

    With all due, um, respect…your contentions could not be further from the truth.

    Rabbis like R’Katz and their congregations have attracted many who otherwise would have little interest in engaging in Jewish life and Jewish texts.

    Furthermore, many of the “best and brightest” Jews raised in the Reform and Conservative movements now lead more observant lives and are part of the wider Orthodox community thanks to progressive Orthodox congregations and rabbis.

    Others who make a foolish mistake of conflating this with the Conservative movement of old are badly mistaken. The C rabbis who wrote various takkanot were writing to a community that existed in theory but not in practice. The left wing of Orthodox community, on the other hand, is a movement of both rabbis and laity. This laity is far more Jewishly knowledgeable and observant than the C amcha of decades past.

  83. Shmuel W says:

    I appreciate the return of Ysoscher Katz to the discussion. I repeat the question that you didnt answer (especially in light of the sanctimonious rhetoric that you just espoused) do you apologize for calling R’ Gordimer “another peeping Rabbi”? Its a simple question and until you do answer that please do not lecture ppl on “drowning out the childish noise” or “listen to other voices with more humility”.

  84. Ysoscher Katz says:

    Shmuel W,

    I do not. I fully stand behind that statement. I don’t wish to revisit that debate but people are welcome to read the full post on my FB page to understand what generated that description, and then judge for themselves if it was justified. I personally am very proud that I stood up for the dignity of my students.

    Briefly though. יכנס החץ בי. We at the forefront of the OO movement deserve to be attacked, we are fair game. My students, on the other hand, need to be protected. Using their private lives to score a political point is a breach of gidrei hatzniut and is inexcusable.

  85. DavidF says:

    “Furthermore, many of the “best and brightest” Jews raised in the Reform and Conservative movements now lead more observant lives and are part of the wider Orthodox community thanks to progressive Orthodox congregations and rabbis.”

    I care about each and every single Jew, not only the “best and brightest” and the damage done to the wider Jewish community by the C and R movements is beyond comprehension. The efforts of YCT in bringing back remnants of those movements pales in comparison to what’s been accomplished by kiruv organizations who don’t feel a need to reshape the Torah in their image.

    “Others who make a foolish mistake of conflating this with the Conservative movement of old are badly mistaken. The C rabbis who wrote various takkanot were writing to a community that existed in theory but not in practice. The left wing of Orthodox community, on the other hand, is a movement of both rabbis and laity. This laity is far more Jewishly knowledgeable and observant than the C amcha of decades past.”

    They may be more knowledgeable than the “C amcha of decades past”, but they’re certainly not more knowledgeable than the first generations of Conservative Jews, many of whom studied in traditional yeshivos and had previously been very observant. It didn’t take long however, for the scholarship level in the C movement to rapidly descend into near oblivion. I have little doubt that if YCT proceeds as they wish to, their next generation of followers will be similarly handicapped.

    It’s truly a shame. There are many who are well-meaning among their followers [and possibly even among their leaders]. If they stopped trying to advance an agenda that is so eager to change everything, they’d accomplish an enormous amount and earn the respect and support of most Orthodox Jews, even those like myself who prefer things to be more right-wing. For example – I disagree heartily with Rabbi Riskin on many points, but since to my knowledge, he has not advanced an agenda nearly as objectionable as YCT, I have no problem respecting his accomplishments.

  86. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    “Furthermore, many of the “best and brightest” Jews raised in the Reform and Conservative movements now lead more observant lives and are part of the wider Orthodox community thanks to progressive Orthodox congregations and rabbis.”

    “The efforts of YCT in bringing back remnants of those movements pales in comparison to what’s been accomplished by kiruv organizations who don’t feel a need to reshape the Torah in their image.”

    With all due respect to both of you, “the best and the brightest” of the Conservative movement found their way into Orthodox synagogues strictly on their own. They were taught to observe halacha in some form, and found the only place where there was a community of halachicly-observant Jews. This phenomenon has been noticed by observes for almost 50 years. Trude Weiss-Rossmarin wrote about it in her journal “The Jewish Spectator” around 1967. The problem with many of these “returnees” is that they are practicing their Judaism with a hashkafa that closely approximates that of the Conservative movement of 50 year ago.

    With respect to those who came to us as a result of “kiruv” organizations, I refuse to speculate who or what did more than anyone else.

  87. Rafael Araujo says:

    “The C rabbis who wrote various takkanot were writing to a community that existed in theory but not in practice. The left wing of Orthodox community, on the other hand, is a movement of both rabbis and laity. This laity is far more Jewishly knowledgeable and observant than the C amcha of decades past.”

    Even so, what good is their Jewish knowledge when all it is being used for is the reformation of Orthodox Judaism and Torah as an appendage to a liberal social agenda? You know, Judaism is Not

  88. Rafael Araujo says:

    Cont”d:

    Judaism is NOT feminism nor should it be driven by a feminist agenda, anymore than it should by a pro-homosexual agenda or a socialist agenda. But that is what is happening: ideologies and end goals in social change are what is driving OO and the changes it is making. It means of making Judaism relevant and pertinent to this learned laity is by providing a Judaism that caters to this particular crowd’s own liberal biases. Is that the basis for inspiring people to Torah u’Mitzvos?

  89. Shmuel W says:

    Lol. You dont want to revisit the “debate” but then you do. Please in the future now do not get upset when people use harsh criticism towards you. Even inflammatory language. Also your contention that the Neo-Conservative movement cares about “gidrei tznius” is eminently laughable as R’Gordimer’s post from above demonstrates. Open Orthodoxy reminds me of the term and idea behind “Open Marriages” neither are what they profess to be. But dont worry we have a havtachah from hashem that Torah true judaism will continue and flourish. What is funny is that to the overwhelming majority of the yeshiva world thinks OO/NC is already outside of Torah Judaism (if they even heard of them). I happen to live in Riverdale so thankfully they allow to have a “shul” that I (and hashem) wouldnt step foot into. Look at the growth of Lakewood, Ner Yisroel and the yeshiva communities through the U.S. that is where the most of future lies (though it has some of its own challenges) and I suggest ppl who actually believe in ideas like techiyas hameisim and Moshiach and tznius join the train. YCT (lashon sagi nahar) had the grand total of 2 “musmachim” at their last “chag hasemicha” and they gave an “honorary semichah to a third”. From what I understand YCT’s regular semichah is honorary. Demographically and morally OO/NC is just a very loud but neglible group of ppl. Ysoscher you learned by R’Avraham Yehoshua, you probably viewed a Ner Yisroel man like myself as too modern once upon a time but you dont have to overcompensate and attack ppl like R’Hershel Schachter and others. You can still do teshuvah, you dont have to go back to Brisk but there is a lot of theological space in between that is open to parts of “modernity” that you claim to value so significantly. Side note, I happen to dislike the term neo-conservative only b/c I like Paul Wolfowitz.

  90. Ysoscher Katz says:

    Great shmoozing with you Shmuel W. Since you are שכן טוב, feel free to stop by the yeshivah anytime. I would love to pick up the conversation with you in person. There is so much more to talk about. For starters, I would love to hear more about your optimism about the future of the chareidi world. I am pretty pessimistic about their prospects, things look pretty grim. I wish I could feel as positive as you do, my whole family is there. (I promise not to hold your Ner Israel credentials against you.) 🙂

    Chodesh adar tov,
    Ysoscher

  91. mycroft says:

    “Mycroft: You write that “Maimonides never changed from coed learning even when other Jewish day schools in the area were single-sexed.” What other schools? When lived in Boston 1972-1975, Lubavitch was co-ed through 5th or 6th grade. ”
    Maimonides was coed for ALL grades and all subjects except for gym in which case the sexes were taught separately. Classes were coed even when there when two parallel classes was the average being taught per grade. Thus, any arguments made that Maimonides had coed classes because that was the only way one could have girls attend day school fits in with the viewpoint of Rav Moshe Feinstein-however that is clearly not the viewpoint of the Rav. Not only were Most important from the beginning the Rav insisted that all subjects be taught identically to both boys and girls including Talmud.

    “. As to the unique issues in Boston in 1937 when Maimonides opened, there was a catastrophic lack of interest on the part of parents.”
    There were many other Rabbis in Boston at the time-thus there to say the least the Rav was not universally accepted by many other Orthodox Rabbis , there was the Depression at the time. Of course, 1937 would be the year that the Ravs oldest daughter would become school age-his son would be born 1st day of Succot 1937. I guess one is supposed to believe that the Rav started the school at an age when his daughter who was born in Europe would be school age and not have a day school for his daughter.

    ” Initially, only 10 boys were registered.”
    The schools website states first class of six

    “It was then that RYBS allowed girls to enroll.”
    It should be obvious that is IMO very unlikely.

    ” (I heard the Bostoner Rebbe, who was live and living in Boston at the time tell the story, more than once.)”
    I was not that close as you apparently were to the Bostoner Rebbe- although I did use Nesher Travel for my travel agent needs during the time period you are talking about-and the Bostoner Rebbe certainly knew who I was-but it is clear that the Rav and Bostoner Rebbe had different hashkafot. Tora Vaddas vs YU,one being on the Moetzes Gdolei Hatorah, the other being head of Mizrachi. I disagree with the Rebbes analysis-I believe the facts speak for themselves.

  92. Shmuel says:

    Ysoschor, I immensely appreciate the invite. As a chaver tov I reciprocate the invite and if you really want to shmooze come to the YI of Riverdale where I daven. Though a small shul it is led by the tremendous talmid chacham and manhig R’ Mordechai Willig. It might just restore a little of your lost faith in relatively more “right wing” circles. Or even better I learn in Telz Riverdale on occasion, come there and see where many of your chaveirim from Brisk came from and experience one of the many thriving batei midrashos that believe in Torah U’Mesorah. In 1945 most people thought Torah would never flourish on these shores and look at the revolution that R’Ahron Kotler, R’ Elya Meir Bloch, R’ Ruderman R’Moshe and R’Yakov started. Look at the mosdos of chesed that Lakewood, Monsey and Flatbush are filled with that far surpass what is found even in the mainstream modern orthodox world. Look at the success of Aish Hatorah and Ohr Somayach. Overcome your fears and we will embrace you as the brother that you are.

  93. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Mycroft: I will leave off the debate about Maimonides and how it came to be co-ed for another time. At some time, I want to examine whatever archives and contemporaneous newspaper accounts exist. Let me leave you one little fact. The Bostoner Rebbe sent his three sons to Maimonides school through third grade, when he sent them to Torah Vodaas in NY. His older daughter went to Maimonides through the sixth grade.

  94. mycroft says:

    “The Bostoner Rebbe sent his three sons to Maimonides school through third grade, when he sent them to Torah Vodaas in NY”

    Thanks-I knew that the Bostoner Rebbe sent his kids to Torah Vodaas at a relatively young age-but didn’t know the exact grade. That the Rebbe was more at home with the hashkafa of Torah Vaddas than that of the Rav is obvious. the issues that I believe we were discussing is the Ravs viewpoint of coeducation, teaching Talmud to women.
    I believe that the most important way to tell what a person believed is maaseh Rav-and it is undisputed during a period when the Rav totally controlled Maimonides and they had enough students for non-coed classes in each grade Rav Solovetchik continued to have identical coed Talmud shiurim in coed classes which were coed for everything except for gym. It is also clear that the Rav advocated for other communities that women be taught the identical Talmud as boys see eg his letter to Dr Rosenfeld in the 50s concerning HILI.

    For different perspectives which I found using a simple search engine search which are different than Rav Schachters see eg

    http://beureihatefila.org/2014/10/07/rabbi-joseph-soloveitchik-and-co-ed-jewish-education/

    http://myobiterdicta.blogspot.com/2009/12/rav-soloveitchik-on-coeducation.html

    http://www.jewishideas.org/articles/rabbi-joseph-soloveitchik-and-coeducational-jewish-

  95. dr. bill says:

    Mycroft, Having gone to a co-ed lubavitcher elementary school, (really,) through eighth grade, let me try to explain Maimonides and the Rav’s position, as best as I can tell. I assume the Rav felt that co-education is a bediavad. That decision once made for a community is not re-evaluated for a very (,very) long time. The number of communities where a bediavad position should be taken has declined (rapidly.) See the quote from RAL (I believe from a tape) in an article by Rabbi A Lebowitz in the RJJ journal a number of years ago.

    OTOH, the Rav was very insistent on women’s Talmud torah be at a high level. Migdal Oz, though not the Gush, probably fits the bill.

  96. mycroft says:

    Mycroft, …let me try to explain Maimonides and the Rav’s position, as best as I can tell. I assume the Rav felt that co-education is a bediavad.”
    Even assuming “bediavad”-many decisions are bediavad see eg the Rav believed that one should permit Reform and Conservative the right to use communal mikva’ot for conversions. Does that mean for a second that the Rav would not have been happier had all Jews were practicing Orthodox Jews but that does not take away from the Ravs halacha lemaaseh advice which I suspect is different than those of most the Rebbeim of Cross Current writers. The Rav believed in non theological dialogue with non Jewish religions does that mean that he didn’t wish that kol bnei basar accepted hashem. When we try and determine policy we must determine what we believe is the best for circumstances-the best way is seeing what our models did publicly-not by chakiras that they made in shiur or as part of discussions that they had privately where it is virtually impossible to know the context of the discussion.

    “That decision once made for a community is not re-evaluated for a very (,very) long time.”
    Why-if it is wrong certainly the Rav did not believe that a Rabbi should stay in a non mechitza schul for generations-why the assumption that the Rav would not have changed Maimonides if he thought it was wrong. The Rav had a lot of different viewpoints from most other gdolim- see eg a famous story the Rav came to a wedding with his wife upon being informed that there will be separate seating he asked why we have mixed standing and stated if he couldn’t sit with his wife he’d leave.
    For what its worth my understanding is the Ravs position was on mixed classes was if it was educationally desirable he’d be in favor of it.

    I believe in general you’ll find a fault line among the Ravs talmidim between those who spent some time in Boston post smicha and those those stayed at Yeshiva. Why the assumption that those who the Rav brought to Boston to work in Maimonides or in schuls in the area are less reliable than those who did not routinely deal with lemaaseh questions with the Rav is intriguing.
    When evaluating the Rav and his beliefs one should remember what Dr Tovah Lichtenstein wrote:
    In the United States, I believe that the influence of my father, the Rov, is on the decline, and part of the community which he taught and directed, is moving in other directions. There are those who are turning away from participation in the general culture as part of our tradition, and find their home exclusively in the four cubits of Torah, shying away from general culture and a commitment to Zionism.

    “When the Rov appeared on the American scene, most of the community was inclining toward the left and the Conservative movement; today, the situation is more com-
    plex. The toil and effort which the Rov invested in raising a generation of
    Torah scholars has borne fruit and his students’ grandchildren, men and
    women, are involved in Torah study. And yet, there are former students,
    notable among them a number of faculty members or former faculty
    members at RIETS, who have not only turned their backs on the complex
    worldview the Rov espoused but are anxious to claim that the Rov him-
    self turned his back on this view”

  97. joe36ct says:

    Just a comment to correct a mistake. Mycroft says that Seth Farber rejects Torah MiSinai. You are thinking of Zev Farber. Seth (Shaul) Farber is the director of Itim in Israel and is not guilty of what you accuse him of. You should correct your post and ask mechila from him (and for not reading the author’s name more carefully.)

  98. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Mycroft: You write that, “I believe in general you’ll find a fault line among the Ravs talmidim between those who spent some time in Boston post smicha and those those stayed at Yeshiva.” Which talmidim that he brought to Boston do you have in mind?

  99. mycroft says:

    joe36ct
    “February 25, 2015 at 9:36 am

    Just a comment to correct a mistake. Mycroft says that Seth Farber rejects Torah MiSinai. You are thinking of Zev Farber. Seth (Shaul) Farber is the director of Itim in Israel and is not guilty of what you accuse him of. You should correct your post and ask mechila from him (and for not reading the author’s name more carefully.)”
    Not related to this post but I just googled “Mycroft and geirus” and the first comment listed was from cross-current-of relevance I suspect my comments are in general relatively close to those that Seth Farber would agree with.

    Agreed my mistake Seth Farber wrote “An American Orthodox Dreamer: Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik and Boston’s Maimonides School” If I had the ability to edit I would delete the last sentence of my Feb 22 856 AM post.

    “Lawrence M. Reisman
    February 25, 2015 at 10:21 am

    Mycroft: You write that, “I believe in general you’ll find a fault line among the Ravs talmidim between those who spent some time in Boston post smicha and those those stayed at Yeshiva.” Which talmidim that he brought to Boston do you have in mind?”
    I do not wish to get into discussions of individual Rabbis -but
    read Seth Farber’s book there are examples there. BTW I read it a few years ago in hard copy-it appears available at https://books.google.com/books?id=3RYl3YsJuYgC&printsec=frontcover&dq=An+American+Orthodox+Dreamer:+Rabbi+Joseph+B.+Soloveitchik+and+Boston%27s+Maimonides+School&hl=en&sa=X&ei=-4TuVN6qE8y6ggSf9oGYAw&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=An%20American%20Orthodox%20Dreamer%3A%20Rabbi%20Joseph%20B.%20Soloveitchik%20and%20Boston%27s%20Maimonides%20School&f=false

  100. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Mycroft: I read the book myself a number of years ago as well, and I don’t remember the book discussing any talmidim who joined him in Boston. He did have what was called a “Kibbutz”in Bsoton during the 1930s, but he ended it when he went to YU in 1941. Rav Notte Grunblatt from Memphis was one of his talmidim from that era. By the way, in a footnote, Seth Farber misrepresents what I wrote in a Jewish Observer article in 1991 (he misrepresents what Meir Wikler wrote as well and mentions both of us by name).

  101. mycroft says:

    Lawrence M. Reisman
    February 26, 2015 at 10:39 am

    “Mycroft: I read the book myself a number of years ago as well, and I don’t remember the book discussing any talmidim who joined him in Boston.”
    I guess I wasn’t clear the book to the best of my recollection doesn’t discuss talmidim joining him in Boston-but if you read the book there are people quoted and referred to who came to Boston after they received smicha from the Rav and stayed a number of years and then went on to other cities. The names I recalled were in Boston from the 40s to the end of the 60s

    “By the way, in a footnote, Seth Farber misrepresents what I wrote in a Jewish Observer article in 1991 (he misrepresents what Meir Wikler wrote as well and mentions both of us by name)”
    I had a different experience-even information that he told about people I knew about that I hadn’t heard of-I was able to confirm by 3rd parties-different experiences.

  102. Steve Brizel says:

    I don’t think that arguing about RYBS’s influence re those musmachim who were in Boston as opposed to those who were his talmidim muvhakim in RIETS in NY is a meaningful discussion. RYBS functioned as a rav for the Brookline community and was an active founder and principal of Maimonides. It is also a meaningless discussion to debate over whether Maimonides was viewed as a lchatchilah or bedieved. The facts are the same RYBS who also was the RY of the Heichal R Chaim HaLevi before he was RY in RIETS also was the founder and principal of Maimonides-that was part of the unique Gadlus of RYBS.

    It is not exactly a recently disclosed secret that other great Talmidei Chachamim disagreed with RYBS in the realms of chinuch and hashkafa.OTOH, RYBS was clearly recognized as the RY of RIETS throughout his career there even as he taught philosophy in BRGS. Again, other prominent Talmidei Chachamim disagreed with RYBS in this arena as well. The bottom line and acid test remains whether we can appreciate the Gadlus BaTorah of “the other”, without denigrating or not showing the requisite appreciation of their role as Gdolei Torah and Marbitzei Torah in North America. IMO, that test is a two way street-both for those who consider themselves MO, as well as for Charedim. We could all learn from the views of RSZA and RYSA, whose had great respect for RAYHK , even though they differed with the views of RAYK, and who would not tolerate a lack of respect for RAYHK.

  103. Steve Brizel says:

    Take a look at RYBS’s description of the level of observance of the Baale Batim in Boston upon his arrival, then his Hesped for R Chaim Heller ZL, in which he contrasts the learned worlds of R Chaim Heller ZL and the not so learned MO sector of the UWS, as well as a well known story when RYBS visited a potential donor, and was amazed that the Baal HaBayis lacked a copy of the Yad HaChazakah, as well as his emphasis on drashos and shiurim that would demonstrate the profundity and depth of OC based topics that had been previously confined to Halachic handbooks and shul calendars. I think that RYBS used these shiurim and drashos not just for enabling talmidim to get the most out of the Kedushas HaYom, but also to serve as an educational agenda and challenge to the talmidim to strive for an enhanced Avodas HaShem in their lives and to view the world from the prism of a Ben Torah -if you listen or go through the Noroas HaRav on any of the Yamim Noraim, I think that these goals are present.

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