News and Essays In and Out of Orthodoxy – Parshas Chukas 5776

First Thoughts Upon the Passing of Elie Wiesel

A Debt of Gratitude After 75 Years

Locals absent at ceremony in Poland marking postwar atrocity

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau sheds tears on Auschwitz visit

A Soldier’s Gift: An Amazing True Story

Tefillos for Rav Yosef Rosenblum

Grand Rabbi of Binyamina hospitalized

The Iran deal a year after: There are no benefits

Dallas Jewish Community Mourns Fallen Officers

Manchester Lures British Jews as London Cost of Living Soars

Does Evolution Contradict the Genesis Account? – Excellent presentation, although I fail to understand why the simple approach to understanding Creation, referred to here as the “Christian fundamentalist approach”, is outright rejected and deemed as unsophisticated. In other words, since we have no idea exactly how a lot of this occurred, how can we therefore reject a more literal understanding within Torah interpretation, or any understanding, for that matter, that fits into Torah interpretation?

YU Launches ‘Confronting End-of-Life Issues’ Online Course For Rabbis

Jared Kushner: The Donald Trump I Know – I am not a fan of this candidate – nor of his opponent – and I am disgusted by the recent intra-family public sparring. That said, I think that this article is worth reading.

Just 26% of British Jews Intermarry — Half the Rate of Americans

Mother of Esti Weinstein writes emotional goodbye

Blurring the Differences – What an inaccurate understanding of Halacha on the part of the author whose article is being critiqued by R. Maryles: “This extends even more to phylacteries, or tefillin. I believe, unequivocally, that the obligation for tefillin rests on women as much as on men, and always has. That it is an obligation that was hidden from us for so many years, covered up by the thick heavy tarps of societies pervaded by sexism and misogyny.

How Orthodox Is Open Orthodoxy? – Rabbi Gil Student’s review of the new book about Open Orthodoxy.

Open Orthodox synagogue elects all-female board

Developing a Second Halakhah – I wasn’t aware that we can create new halachic systems.

Avoiding the “Quote War” in Dealing with Difficult Religious Texts – I don’t think that we should be expecting the Torah to reflect contemporary moral values; on the contrary, we should embrace the Torah’s values, whatever they may be. This is what Rav Soloveitchik termed “Surrender”. Rather than wishing that the Torah did not express certain values, or articulating our desire to sanitize what is written, we must accept and lovingly identify with the Torah’s values, maintained the Rav. Furthermore, the Open Orthodox leader who penned this article asserts that Chazal invented stipulations that mitigate the Torah’s original, harsh rules: “(T)he Sages added criteria to limit a difficult law to be effectively non-existent.  They added a good number of criteria to the definition of a rebellious child (Ben Sorer Umoreh) so that in their words it would be “Lo Haya Velo Yihyeh” – there never was a case and there never will be. They did so similarly with the death penalty requiring warnings by witnesses before, during and after an act where the punishment could be death. The ability to put someone to death was so rare that they said a court that executes one person in seventy years is considered a bloody court.” This is largely incorrect. The rules of Ben Sorer U’Moreh, as well as the requirement for warning immediately prior to the commission of a capital offense, are generally Torah rules, as part of Torah She-b’al Peh, the Oral Law. One cannot assert, within Orthodox belief, that these rules were later inventions by the Sages, in an effort to temper the harshness of original Torah decrees.

Last week’s installment of Weekly Digest – News and Essay In and Out of Orthodoxy can be viewed here.


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58 Responses

  1. joel rich says:

    The quote war and second halacha pieces seem to me to be part of a battle to win the hearts and minds of amcha who don’t have the time or inclination to plumb the intellectual depths that would be needed to fully understand this nuanced issue.  One good source is the recently released ” Seeking His Presence” in which R” A Lichtenstein deals with ethics and changes in halacha.

    Perhaps the best point was R’ Herman’s “There are many unanswered questions here and I am not the one to answer them.”  The real debate is who is?



  2. dr. bill says:

    A few comments:
    1)      Rabbi Feitman has neither the right nor the perspective to quibble with the questioning of God by a survivor of the holocaust.  Halevi we can all be mekadaish Shem Shamayim as he did in his life.
    2)    A most noteworthy item at the “assumed” boundary of Orthodox Judaism last week, is the continuing travesty and violation of a Torah prohibition by the establishment rabbis in Israel.  What I have not seen reported is the names of Rabbis who participated in some of Rabbi Lookstein’s conversions.  That becoming widely known would go a long way in helping to clarify the nature of the Israeli rabbinical establishment.  My knowledge is second-hand, but I am sure others have more direct information.
    3)     Rabbi Yankelowitz certainly has a combative way of expressing his POV.  That said, his essay reminded me of RSZA ztl’s response concerning the permissibility to speak to an individual requiring a hearing aid on shabbat.  The extremes  – poskim entirely driven by Torah values and those entirely driven by the zeitgeist – are naive.
    4)    In two of OO pieces, I see the hand of academic study of Talmudic literature.  How that will play out will be interesting to watch.  But if I had to choose between Rabbi Meiselman’s view of the Talmudic sages and that of some academics, the choice would not be that hard.

    • Dan says:

      “Some” and not all.

    • mycroft says:

      “But if I had to choose between Rabbi Meiselman’s view of the Talmudic sages and that of some academics, the choice would not be that hard.”

      Who says the choice is one or the other

      • dr. bill says:

        Certainly not I.  But I can name a dozen academic scholars for which it would not be a hard choice.  Some, all not first-rate, make the choice harder.

      • mycroft says:

        I meant to write who says one has to choose between  RMM and academics-there are other choices.

    • Steve brizel says:

      Dr bill yes eli Wiesel zl was mkadesh hashem yet why did so many charedi survivors in the us and Israel not participate in yom hashoah?

      • dr. bill says:

        I assume for a number of reasons including we memorialize it already on tisha b’av and/or asarah be’tevet, its occurrence during Nissan, its assumed secular provenance, etc.  As survivors dwindle, I worry that we need to do more.  Reading, except on rare occasions, is not as impactful as listening to a survivor describe their personal experiences.

      • Steve brizel says:

        Take a look at some memoirs by charedi survivors and their rescuers such as lieutenant birnbaum. One is hard pressed to find any discussions of theodicy  etc or the need to do anything but rebuild their lives.

    • Steve brizel says:

      IIRC,RSZA who disagreed with the CI on makeh bpatish binyan and defining how electricity was viewed all pi halacha also could not believe thatRAK prohibited the use of a hearing aid on Shabbos. It is also well known that RAK did not accept the views of the CI on eruvin. I don’t see the comparison at all with r s yankelowitz

      • dr. bill says:

        there is more to the story.  RSZA ztl could not believe that a heter does not exist to prevent causing further misery to a deaf person.  what motivated what, what came first, one can argue forever.

      • Steve brizel says:

        We agree re the story re RSZA and RAK. IIrc. RSza had a close relative,possibly his mother who needed a hearing aid. Guess which major Torah center does not have an eruv for all of its residents?





  3. Dan says:

    “The rules of Ben Sorer U’Moreh, as well as the requirement for warning immediately prior to the commission of a capital offense, are generally Torah rules, as part of Torah She-b’al Peh, the Oral Law. One cannot assert, within Orthodox belief, that these rules were later inventions by the Sages”

    The traditional belief, as expessed my the Geonim and the Rambam in Perush Hamishna as well as in Hilchot Mamerim is that the Sanhedrin were empowered to legislate new laws from derashot—that is why there is debate about many (all) of these laws—because they were developed in the academy through the process of midrash.

    • Avrohom Gordimer says:

      The Rambam writes that the details of the laws were presented to Moshe at Sinai, using the example of the five halachos of shechitah. And even though later interpretation could also be done by the Beis Din Ha-Gadol, as the Rambam writes, that was in the form of objective exegesis, rather than value-based enactments, unless specifically noted – in which case it was legislation and not exegesis. Thus, in the case of the proper fulfillment of a Mitvzah Min Ha-Torah, exegesis would not be part of a value agenda.

      • Dan says:

        I never said there was an agenda—that’s above my pay grade. The Rambam clearly states that specific explanations of the laws which have some allusion in the text were given to Moshe Rabbenu or which can be learned out by derashos and about which there was no disagreement, and Halachot leMoshe MiSinai which also have no disagreement (and some Rishonim think are themselves Rabbinic as well—Rash, Rosh, etc.), things which are learned out by derashos and about which there was disagreement are clearly Rabbinic legislation by the Sanhedrin as they were empowered to do.

      • Avrohom Gordimer says:

        Thank you for the clarification. I did not mean that you said that there was an agenda. I meant that the author of that article posited that there was an agenda in mind – that of making the Torah more humane, so to say. When Chazal sought to make an enactment for social welfare or the like, they of course did so. But since the rules of Hasra’ah and Ben Sorer U’Moreh are presented in the Mishnah and Gemara as Min Ha-Torah, based on objective Halacha L’Moshe and objective exegesis, there is no room to consider them enactments to present a new, more humane set of values. That is where the article is at fault.

      • Dan says:

        You seem to be begging the question: Hazal were allowed to make laws with an agenda “for social welfare or the like”—but in a case where you believe them to be acting objectively “there is no room to consider” the possibility that they were in fact not acting objectively.

      • Avrohom Gordimer says:

        Dan: When Chazal specified that they were enacting a social welfare rule or the like, it is clear that such was the case. But the derashos of Chazal which formulate Mitzvos D’oraysa were not social welfare or agenda-based enactments – they were objective Halacha.

      • Dan says:

        Reasserting your statement in a sterner tone does not take the place of evidence and proof. Please explain why you think that Hazal were bound to only legislate “objectively”. What does that even mean—to make a new law obviously requires some motivation or impetus, and the sort of innovation and creativity found in the derashos of Hazal cannot be attributed purely to the attempts to reconcile textual difficulties. Even an originalist agenda (if the analogy to modern judicial parlance can be forgiven) is an agenda.

      • Avrohom Gordimer says:

        I did not mean at all to sound stern; please forgive me if that is how you took my words.

        Chazal can legislate for all types of things, but when engaging in exegesis, they are not engaging in legislation, and they are thus not inventing things or fulfilling a social agenda. Please see Hil. Mamrim 1:1 versus ibid. 1:2, where the Rambam distinguishes between interpretation/sevara and gezeiros/takkanos (legislation). The first Mishnah and the immediately subsequent Gemara at the beginning of Perek Ben Sorer U’Moreh speaks about the age limitations, based on exegesis of pesukim. This is not legislation invented by Chazal in order to be compassionate to children; it is, rather, objective exegesis. The cited article fails to make this important distinction.

    • Steve brizel says:

      The power of the Chachmei HaTorah as opposed to any man DA hu to interpret and add takanos gzeros and mitzvos of a rabbinic level is part of an elastic clause in the Torah that allows for the same and chiddushim on halacha and parshanut

      The notion that we are bound by pshuto she’ll mikra per set in either halacha or parshanut can not be sustained by anyone whose study of Tanach is rooted in how Chazal understood Tanach. See the Encyclopedia Talmudist entry on halacha lmoshe misinai for how that phrase is understood by most Rishonim as opposed to the views that you cited.

  4. R.B. says:

    Rabbi Gordimer,

    You may wish to add the following links:

    This link appears in a large Canadian left-wing paper. It is symptomatic of the culture we are surrounded by today, which transitions from or to the first linked story:


    • dave says:

      Two of the most disturbing articles I have ever read about deeply happily disturbed people.

      Where do I get off this planet….

      • Julie K says:

        The scary thing is that I remember reading about “baby Storm” in 2011, and my reaction now in 2016 is much more blase than it was then. It no longer seems so outlandish.

  5. Eli Blum says:

    “Developing a Second Halakhah – I wasn’t aware that we can create new halachic systems.”

    You’ve never read “Oz V’Hadar Levusha” by Rabbi Falk?

    • R.B. says:

      So Rabbi Falk invoked “tzelem elokim” or some other PC keyword, and presto-change-o, chumros in tzinus were created?

      While I am not a fan of the Oz V’Hadar Levusha either shows you don’t understand Yankelowitz’s argument, or you don’t understand Oz V’Hadar Levushah.

      • Eli Blum says:

        Sure R. Yankelowitz goes way further, but those “Halachos” are the same as the “Ish HaYashar B’einav Ya’ase” Pseudo-Halachos created by others.

        The difference is what R. Yankelowitz really wants to do is not create a second system (like Rabbi Falk did), but an alternative system based on morals, not Torah. If R. Yankelowitz would agree to keep everything officially on the books, but add the ethical component, he wouldn’t be very different than others before him who add to Halacha.

      • larry says:

        Torah is ethics.  The notion that Torah lacks ethics is antithetical to Orthodoxy.

        Perhaps, Torah lacks the ethics that make sense to certain people missing a proper educaton and unable to rationaly deal with their  rampant over exposure to secular culture.  This is not a new challenge.  OO merley rehashes the ethical questions posed by the Romans to the Tanaim.

        Most OO leaders, who are less educated than a C+ Beis Yaacov freshman student, cannot compete with Torah sages when it comes to real learning.  They attempt to invent new areas where they can be at the forefront.  This is more about ego than ethics.

      • mycroft says:

        “Torah is ethics.  The notion that Torah lacks ethics is antithetical to Orthodoxy”

        Certainly the Torah has ethics but the Torah as expressed by halacha does not have the totality of proper behavior see eg theRav “Halacha is the floor of proper behavior not the ceiling”

      • larry says:

        Yes, the Rav’s statement is indisputable.  Pirkei Avot which charges us with reaching the ceiling is entirely divine Torah from Sinai.

      • dr. bill says:

        would you mind identifying “Most OO leaders”? 

      • Eli Blum says:

        To borrow a point from Rabbi Gordimer below, both try to create Halacha based on an agenda. One only adds, the other adds and subtracts.

  6. Shmuel Landesman says:

    Rabbi Gordimer:

    Thank you again this week for linking to such thought provoking articles.

  7. Nathaniel Helfgot says:

    I am not here to argue whether R. Jason Herman’s formulations fall within normative Orthodox thought or not, but if you  are going to condemn his formulation about “ben sorer umoreh”: you also have to put out a condemnation of the writings of Lord Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks who has used similar language in his writings about Hazal reinterpreting straightforward texts because of their concern for justice, morality, the overarching message of Torah etc. To take some examples from his writings (just as an example ) Ch. 12 of his most recent volume Not in God’s Name titled “Hard Texts” -here are some choice quotes (my bolds:)

    pg. 207: “There is for instance , in Deuteronomy, a law about a stubborn and rebellious son who is to be put to death for what appears to us to be  no worse than a serious case of juvenile delinquency. So incompatible did this seem with the principles of justice that the Talmud records the view that this was never put into effect and exists only for didactic purposes”

    pg. 208- For almost the whole of their histories, Jews, Christians, and Muslims have wrestled with the meanings of their scriptures,developing in the process elaborate hermeneutic and jurisprudential systems…Hard texts need reinterpreting…God has given us both the mandate and the responsibility to do just that. We are the guardians of His word for the sake of His word.
    pg. 213- “what of of Joshua’s campaign to conquer the land? Again the Talmud offers a radical reinterpretation…
    pg. 214- (in discussing Amalek and the limitations of Rambam and others)

    “Thereafter in Judaism Amalek became a mere symbol of gratuitous evil, a metaphor…At a stroke, the biblical texts relating to israel’s enemies were rendered inoperative.”
    pg. 218- Living traditions constantly reinterpret their canonical texts…The sacred literatures of Judaism, Christianity and Islam — all contain passages that read literally, are capable of leading to violence and hate. We may and must reinterpret them.

    • larry says:

      What is wrong with disagreeing with Rabbi Sacks? Not to denigrate him, but I have no problem disagreeing with his world view, just as Rabbi Sacks disagrees with the Chareidi hashkafa.

      • Avrohom Gordimer says:

        Larry: Please also see Dr. Alan Jotkowitz’ article in Tradition 44:3/2011, “UNIVERSALISM AND PARTICULARISM IN THE JEWISH TRADITION: THE RADICAL THEOLOGY OF RABBI JONATHAN SACKS” ( Although addressing different points, the article illustrates that no one’s writings, even those of a chief rabbi of the UK, should be immune from scholarly and civil scrutiny and critique.

      • mycroft says:

        I assume that no ones writings should be immune from critique extends to those of recollections of RY of what supposedly gadol in told them or writings of a gadol a israel. Is it cricket to attack behavior of clergy disagreeing with gedolei Israel? If so, is it equally fair to publicize improper behavior by gedolei Israel

      • Jason Herman says:

        Rabbi Helfgot, thank you.  I had not yet read Rabbi Sack’s book, but from what I understand the intent of the book to be, and from the quotes you posted, I believe he is making a point similar to what I intended.  Baruch shekivanti.

        Larry – you are of course free to disagree with Rabbi Sacks and with myself.  I believe that Rabbi Helfgot posted the comment in response to Rabbi Gordimer’s not so subtle insinuation that my article reflected some Open Orthodox novelty (he refers to me as an “Open Orthodox leader” instead of by name despite the fact that I do not use that appellation and my shul could hardly even be described as Open Orthodox.)  Rabbi Helfgot shows another prominent Modern Orthodox thinker with the same viewpoint.  While you may disagree, it is harder to argue that my approach falls outside the bounds of Orthodoxy.  I would further add, that much of my thinking on this subject comes from Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, z”l, albeit from different articles than the one Joel Rich speaks about below.  I am travelling now and don’t have access to my seforim and collection of articles but would be happy to provide citations upon my return.

        I would like to comment that perhaps in his zeal to find a fault with another person he identifies as “Open Orthodox,” Rabbi Gordimer right away jumps to his familiar trope of insinuating a “values driven agenda.”  In doing so, however, I believe he missed the entire point of my article and I believe when looked at from the larger context of the article, I was actually saying something quite the opposite.

        First, I did not ever indicate that chazal were using “contemporary moral values.”  I spoke of them addressing “difficult texts” (or in Rabbi Sack’s terminology from his chapter title, “hard texts”).  These texts were difficult not because they conflicted with some passing fad at the time of chazal, but because they, at least on the surface, seemed to contradict what chazal understood to be the Torah’s own values.

        Second, while I appreciate the discussion that Rabbi Gordimer has with Dan below about the difference between exegesis vs. gezerot/takanot, I am actually in close agreement with Rabbi Gordimer’s distinction between the two, and it is in fact that distinction that is actually at the core of the point I was trying to make.  I will clarify that I am only in close agreement, but not in full agreement, since I don’t believe that exegesis can be 100% objective. If it were, than the results of the exegesis should generally be able to be replicated and one would not find the exegesis to often being such a source of machloket.  That being said, my article concerning chazal’s approach to difficult texts was to place chazal’s exegetical approach next to a different approach which I saw coming frequently from the Muslim community and that is to just quote an alternative text (what I called the “quote war”).  Had I anticipated this debate, I would have also posited that chazal’s approach could also be an alternative to simply “legislating” values onto a difficult text.  Namely, when confronted with a text that contradicted their sense of the Torah’s values, chazal did not just look for an alternate text, nor did they just enact some gezerot.  Rather, they engaged the text more deeply due to the conflict and the resulting exegesis led them to a different understanding than the peshat meaning.  My point was that difficult texts should be more deeply engaged on their own terms – a point I believe to be the polar opposite of what Rabbi Gordimer accuses me of.

        It is worth noting at this point an observation on the objective/subjective point and also the notion of the role of values here.  I will use the Ben Sorer Umoreh example.  It is not just that chazal derived through exigesis some rules about Ben Sorer Umoreh, chazal also made a statement about what they were doing when they said that Ben Sorer Umoreh was Lo Haya, VeLo Yihyeh.  The first part of that statement might in fact be an objective historical observation that until this point there had never been an incident of Ben Sorer Umoreh.  However, the second part that there will never be is clearly subjective and clearly reflects chazal’s understanding that the criteria is so limiting that it is virtually impossible.  I believe that it is that statement is more indicative to my point, then any of their specific interpretations.

        Perhaps Rabbi Gordimer is offended by the concept that a text could be considered difficult in the first place, particularly when the difficulty stems from contradicting a set of values.  With respect to the role values play here, I defer again to the writings of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, z”l.  However, I would like to perhaps flesh out Rabbi Gordimer’s view on the subject by asking him to address the text that I found difficult in writing the article, namely the sugya in Bava Kamma.

        Rabbi Gordimer – do you believe that it is within the Torah’s values that a Jew should not be held liable for damages to the property of a non-Jew and particularly if so, do you believe in fact the reason for that is that God was matir the property of non-Jews?

        If you do, that would be really interesting to know.  If you do not, do you demonstrate that such a concept is against the Torah’s values from citing alternative sources (what I deem the “quote war”) or do you have a different understanding of the sugya in Bava Kamma?  All I am arguing is that if we in fact believe that it is not in the Torah’s values to be matir the property of non-Jews, we can’t just ignore Bava Kamma because it is unpleasant or inconvenient – we have to engage it more deeply.

      • Avrohom Gordimer says:

        Dear Rabbi Herman,

        Thank you for the detailed comment.

        The reason I did not specify your name is in order that my words not be construed as personal; my focus is on the ideas rather than on the individual, as I noted a few months back when responding to a post by Rabbi Ysoscher Katz.

        You did not state that there was a need to reinterpret or restrict the application of certain texts in light of “contemporary moral values”, but you did also not in any way state that the need to reinterpret or restrict the application of certain texts was due to overriding Torah values which Chazal felt they had to preserve. You merely wrote that there are difficult texts, such as “The Torah includes the obligation to wipe out the nation of Amalek. This seems to be a call for genocide”, and “What was more striking to me was that as I was trying to explain the text to myself, to grapple with this seemingly unethical message”, et al. This is hardly an indication that Chazal were seeking to preserve the Torah’s native values; on the contrary, it strikes one as trying to match Torah imperatives with the values of larger society, or with personal values.

        You write that Chazal “engaged the text more deeply due to the conflict and the resulting exegesis led them to a different understanding than the peshat meaning”, explaining how Chazal sought through exegesis to apply the Torah’s overriding values. While there are some derashos and sevaros which are specifically described in the Gemara as being compelled by certain Tanna’im due to specific Torah axioms, such as D’racheha darchei no’am or B’ror lo misah yafah, etc., it is eminently clear from the Rambam’s hakdamah to the Mishnah that the derashos of Chazal were implements to express the objective Halacha as told to Moshe and were not efforts by Chazal to reinterpret. In other words, Chazal were not applying values or anything else; they were reporters of that which was told to Moshe, absent specific mention thereof to the contrary.

        I fully accept and embrace whatever values the sugya in Bava Kama may represent. So too for all other values which may emanate from various halachos, or which were articulated by Chazal specifically. The sugya in Bava Kama is based on possibly elusive ideas in Devarim or Chavakuk (as the pesukim and brief explanation are cited as formal mekoros rather than as compelling sevaros, and they probably have much deeper meaning than meets the eye). But whatever values may be represented, I accept them.

      • Yehoshua says:

        Rabbi Gordimer: You must have a different Rambam than the rest of us. According to the Rambam, most derashos are not trying to “express the objective Halacha as told to Moshe,” but originate new halachos that were not told to Moshe. The Rambam writes that Moshe was given the text of the Torah, its peirush (e.g., what a peri eitz hadar is), a group of halachos known as “Halacha LeMoshe MiSinai,” and the tools of exegesis by which pesukim are analyzed (the thirteen middos). The halachos derived though those tools were not given to Moshe. That is how the Rambam can say that there is no machlokes in anything taught by Moshe.

      • Avrohom Gordimer says:

        Yehoshua: The Rambam writes:
        וזה ענין מה שאמרו כללותיה ופרטותיה (כולם נאמרו למשה מסיני) רצו לומר הענינים שנוכל להוציאם בכלל ופרט ובשאר י”ג מדות והם מקובלים מפי משה מסיני וכולם אע”פ שהם מקובלים מפי משה לא נאמר בהם הלכה למשה מסיני שאין לומר פרי עץ הדר הוא אתרוג הלכה למשה מסיני או חובל בחברו משלם ממון הלכה למשה מסיני. שכבר נתברר לנו שאלו הפירושים כולם מפי משה ויש להם רמזים במקרא או יוציאו אותם בדרך מדרכי הסברא כמו שאמרנו ועל כן כל דבר שאין לו רמז במקרא ואינו נקשר בו ואי אפשר להוציאו בדרך מדרכי הסברא עליו לבדו נאמר הלכה למשה מסיני.

        החלק הראשון פירושים מקובלים מפי משה ויש להם רמז בכתוב ואפשר להוצאם בדרך סברא…

        (Please forgive the ellipsis and period being on the wrong ends of the lines.)

        In other words, that which is learned through exegesis or sevara was said to Moshe at Sinai, but the official category of “Halacha L’Moshe Mi-Sinai” has no supporting text or sevara; it is purely oral. But both categories of Halacha were said directly to Moshe and were not created by Chazal.

  8. Yehoshua says:

    “One cannot assert, within Orthodox belief, that these rules were later inventions by the Sages, in an effort to temper the harshness of original Torah decrees.”

    Before making blanket statements such as this, you might want to read up a bit more on the topic. Specifically, Lenuvuchei Hazman by Rav Kook, in the chapters about vegetarianism. he suggests there that based on the enlightened understanding of animal cruelty issues that will develop in the times of Moshiach, Chazal will apply some derasha to cancel the institution of animal korbaos, and even offers a suggestion for such a derasha.

    • larry says:

      I cannot find a Sefer L’nvuchei Hazman. Are you referring to L’nvuchei haDor?

      • Yehoshua says:

        Yes. Sorry, about that. It is toward the end of the 10th perek.

      • larry says:

        Thanks for clarification.  In his lifetime, Rav Kook did not endorse publication of this sefer.  Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook and the Nazir, Rav David Cohen who edited most of Rav Kook’s works both chose not to publish it.  It was only recently published, without editing or the consent of the Roshei Yeshiva who oversee publication of Rav Kook’s manuscripts.  Rav Shlomo Aviner, Rosh Yeshiva of Ateret Yerushalayim and one of the foremost authorities on Rav Kook refuses to learn the sefer.  Here is a link to his comments in Hebrew.

        I would caution you not to reach any conclusions about Rav Kook’s thoughts from a sefer, never intended for publication, that has been rejected by Rav Aviner and is not studied at any of the Yeshivot HaKav.  Rav Aviner warns specifically that readers could err in their understanding of Rav Kook when they read this book.

      • Yehoshua says:

        That is Rav Aviner’s opinion. We do not know why he did not publish it; many explanations have been suggested. Others took a far less generous view of the censorship of Rav Kook. In any event, he expresses the same idea elsewhere, that was just the easiest place for me to find it.

      • larry says:

        It is not censorship when Rav Kook himself chose not to publish it.  We have no need to speculate why he did not publish it.  The obvious answer – he did not want to publish it – is staring us in the face.  While university scholars may have an academic interest in this book, it has no relevance to Orthodox yeshiva study of Rav Kook.   Given Rav Aviner’s status as the Orthodox world’s leading teacher of Rav Kook (along with Rav Tau) a sincere student of Rav Kook would do well to follow his path.

        While I do not wish to debate the text itself because it is open to misinterpretation, I would point out you are conflating two radically different concepts.  Rav Kook was writing theoretically about the messianic era and we are discussing practically the current era.  There is no logical comparison between the two.  Rav Kook was neither writing halacha nor was he referring to the current era nor did he publish this book, or give any evidence he wanted it published.

      • mycroft says:

        “I would caution you not to reach any conclusions about Rav Kook’s thoughts from a sefer, never intended for publication,”

        I would caution you not to reach any conclusions about the Ravs  thoughts from a sefer, or conversations, written thoughts, shiurim, never intended for publication,

      • Yehoshua says:

        This is a reply to your comment of 11:44, to which there is no reply button.

        1: Rav Kook published very little in his lifetime. Many of his works were selected for publication by his son and the Nazir. They fulfilled the role of publisher in a manner which can certainly be questioned, now that we have the ability to compare what they published with what Rav Kook actually wrote in his pinkasim. They also chose not to publish other works. Their decision to publish some of his works and not others, and even more so the changes they made to tone down some of his more audacious writings, is censorship. Whether one wants to learn Rav Kook directly or Rav Kook refracted through others is a choice people can make for themselves.

        2: I am not conflating anything. I am discussing the role of the Sanhedrin in interpreting the Torah Shebiksav by means of the thirteen middos of the Torah Sheba’al peh, whether in the time of Chazal or in the time of the future Sanhedrin. Rabbi Gordimer asserts that to claim Chazal would use ethical guidelines to interpret verses so as to make them not practicable is counter to Orthodox thought. He was not referring to nowadays; he is referring to attributing the derashos rendering a ben sorer umoreh not practicable, which as far as I know were made quite some time ago. I am pointing out that Rav Kook writes that ethical concerns will lead Chazal to cancel animal sacrifice, and that one avenue they have to accomplish this is by innovating a derasha of the passuk, which would then change the deoraysa halacha.

        If you have a substantive response to this point I would love to hear it.


      • larry says:

        Rav Kook published much in his lifetime and during his lifetime, Rav Tzvi Yehuda edited much of what was published.  Much was unpublished.  Rav’s Kook’s son and closest student chose what to edit and publish.  There is nothing untoward about having the two most qualified people in the world edit Rav Kook’s writings.  A person follows their own path and uses unedited notes never intended for publication to substantiate their world view runs intellectual risks I am not willing to take.  I am not going to argue a text with you that Rav Aviner says is open to misinterpretation.  This book is outside the canon of accepted works of Rav Kook open to study by Orthodox Jews.  Just because it exists, it does not mean it needs to be read.

      • Yehoshua says:

        Rav Kook evidently wrote something that Rabbi Gordimer is asserting is outside the boundaries of Orthodox thought. If you want to offer another interpretation of what Rav Kook wrote, go for it. If you want to make a case that Lenevuchei Hador is a forgery, be my guest. But absent either of those two, one has to conclude either that: A: Rabbi Gordimer is incorrect, or B: Rav Kook wrote ideas that are outside the boundaries of Orthodox thought. You can cover your eyes and pretend that he didn’t, but that does not really change anything.

      • Yehoshua says:

        In addition, the same idea is expressed in the pinkasim published by Machon Rav Tzvi Yehuda (pages 8-10), so even you are allowed to look at it.

    • R.B. says:

      This website presents RAYK’s views totally different from the way you have. In fact, it seems that RAYK’s view was to reject any arguments based on animal cruelty, or the rejection of animal sacrifice.



    • R.B. says:

      Also, see this article from Jewish Action 2014, Ari Zivotofsky.

      • Yehoshua says:

        Rav Kook wrote a lot about the topic. There is a full essay, Chazon Hatzimchonut VeHashalom; there is a section in Talelei Orot; and there are several perakim in LeNevuchei HaDor. I would recommend going through the source material.

      • R.B. says:

        No need to. If I accept that you are correct, which I don’t necessarily, you cannot use this view to challenge R’ Gordimer when RAYK’s view is not clear and settled.

      • Yehoshua says:

        I am not sure what you mean by “RAYK’s view is not clear and settled.” I am not saying to accept that I am correct, or that the other people are wrong. I provided the sources and anyone can look for themselves.

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