Sunday, October 02, 2005

What a hundred halakah committes cannot do

I came across an interesting bit of mussar by Rabbi Joseph H. Lookstein directed toward Conservative rabbis in the Summer 1977 edition of the journal Judaism. The issue was "devoted to an extensive symposium on Conservative Judaism on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Jewish Theological Seminary. Rabbi Lookstein was asked by the journal to give, if not mussar, then an assessment on Conservative Judaism. The article is called 'The View From the Right: A Critique and a Plea.'

An excerpt:

I need not remind my Conservative colleagues what is kavod for a teacher and how the Talmud cautions us against "pronouncing judgement in the presence of one's teacher." A hundred halakah committees cannot overrule one Professor Saul Lieberman! Jewish law is not decided by the raising of hands at a rabbinic convention. Modification and interpretation of Jewish law are vested with acknowledged authorities. These authorities, for the Orthodox rabbis, are in the yeshivah which trained him, and, for the Conservative rabbi is it, and should be, his Seminary.

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