Our Religion Guides our Moral Compass

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7 Responses

  1. dr. bill says:

    You raise an interesting set of issues. Let me unpack them into a sequence of views you might increasingly disagree with.

    First, can one be bothered ethically by what the halakha demands?

    Second, can what the halakha demands be viewed as troubling?

    Third, is use by the halakha of different standards (of proof/certainty/doubt) in the cases of mamzerut or agunah, indicative of a value system within halakha based on general notions like ve’asitah et hayashar ve’et ha’tov or kavod ha’briot?

    Fourth, is use by the halakha of different standards in the cases of mamzerut or agunah, or Hillel’s invention of prozbul, indicative of a value system from which notions like ve’asitah et ha’yashar ve’et ha’tov, kavod ha’briot, ve’chai ba’hem, etc. are introduced into the halakhic system?

    I wonder where Rabbi Katz might become uncomfortable. FWIW, I am OK up until the fourth step, where the language would have to be (significantly) modified.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Dr Bill-re your discussion of Prozbul, both R Rimon and R Asher Weiss discuss the relevant sugya and how the same is understood by the Rishonim. I think that a strong case can be made that the Torah empowered the Chachmei HaMesorah to utilize halachos such as Hefker beis Din Hefker and Yesh Koach Lchacachim Lakor Davar Min HaTorah in financial matters in a very strong way, so as to prevent financial imequities and allow for Chesed between fellow Jews.

      • dr, bill says:

        Steve Brizel, We agree that prozbul is the result of intrinsic halakhic principles, although we might quibble over exactly what halakhic principle Hillel employed. Note as well that both the bavli and yerushalmi, reduced shmitas kesafim to a de’rabbanan b’zman Hillel. (happy we finally agree on something; hard to believe but there are people to my left, who would (partially) disagree.)

  2. Bob Miller says:

    There’s apparently a lot of reward (psychic? monetary?) in identifying an outcome one really wants to achieve and then creating or recycling Jewish-sounding theories that could help justify it and make it happen. Heading into Elul, we all need to understand the amazing human power of rationalization. It’s in us ,too, not just in them.

  3. Shmuel W says:

    @ Dr. Bill – Interesting way of expressing it. I agree with 1 & 2 Not sure what you mean exactly in 3 but I possibly might agree.

    @ Bob Miller – R Bleich once said he wanted to be a conservative Rabbi growing up so he could start with a conclusion and work his way backwards, since his mother didnt allow he became a law professor instead 🙂

  4. dr. bill says:

    Shmuel W, I organized it because of traditional sources supporting 1 and 2. The last two are very complex, and I do not have references outside of non-traditional, academic sources. For example, the halakha as practiced unquestionably allows wider attitude in preventing declaring someone a mamzer. Is the basis of that wider latitude strictly halakhic at one extreme or entirely based on ethical concerns, at the other? A number of intermediate positions between those two can be formulated. My read of the post would lead me to believe the author would become uncomfortable earlier than you.

  5. Steve Brizel says:

    http://www.torahmusings.com/2015/08/why-are-young-people-leaving-religion/ The above linked article and R Y Katz’s claim that young people “don’t want answers” are part of a larger issue-Regardless of how you view yourself hashkafically, intellectual honesty requires parents to accept and realize that they are transmitting a Mesorah , a legacy and tradition of Torah, Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim to their children, as opposed to merely providing an expensive private school education with Judaic studies, and “doing Shabbos and the holidays.” If a parent cannot provide an answer to the question to the next generation of “why be Jewish”, and is viewed by his or her children as having either a marginal or worse attitude towards Torah observance and rabbinical authorities , he or she can be seen as simply not fulfilling their obligations of transmitting this legacy to the next generation. I think that a pareve attitude towards passing on this legacy logically leads to an attitude of as long as my children lead a productive and “ethical life”. it should not be viewed as a catastrophe or a failure if they decide not to be observant as adults.

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