Monday, January 03, 2011

Rabbi Shlomo Miller of Toronto compares Rabbi Michael Broyde of Atlanta to Rabbi Aron Choriner of Arad.

It's going to be a long year!

180 comments:

  1. hey fred. i assume you know about siman 34 in shut vheishiv moshe ( linked here http://seforim.blogspot.com/search/label/Marc%20B.%20Shapiro?updated-max=2010-04-22T08:47:00-04:00&max-results=20)

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  2. When you live in a bubble surrounded by "yes men", you lose track of reality.

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  3. The rift is growing bigger. Who is going to once and for all cut the rip cord between those who wish us back to the shtetl and those who would advance Judaism into the modern world with pride, faith and yes individual intelligence.

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  4. "those who would advance Judaism into the modern world with pride, faith and yes individual intelligence."

    Sheesh. Seriously?

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  5. For the record, although I can understand if Rabbi Broyde does not himself respond - there needs to be a strident rabbinic defense of him. In ye olde days there was never a blanket denial of the right for there to be liberal Orthodox rabbis who shepherded their own flock. No one ever said that Rav Dovid Zvi Hoffmann had no right to pasken that German children 1) had to go to school and 2) they could carry their books on shabbos to do so and 3) this heter applied to rich kids whose parents could afford a tutor. The Chasam Sofer didn't say "Gosh, these rabbis are clean-shaven, wear Western clothes, speak English, Spanish and Dutch, title themselves Reverend, therefore I shouldn't ask them if it's takka true what Chassidim are attributing to the Sephardic mesorah." This time seems to have entirely disappeared.

    In my view it is an urgent duty of the modern Orthodox rabbinate to respond.

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  6. The Gemara in Berakhot 20a records that it was R. Yohanan’s practice to sit at the
    gates of immersion so that the women would see him on their way home and conceive
    children of similarly lustrous beauty. It hardly needs stating that R. Yohanan did not
    sit by the water where the women immersed but, rather, by the gates where they exited the precincts after dressing; the point is made explicit by Tosafot (Pesahim 110a),
    Tosafot ha-Rosh (Berakhot ibid.) and Tosafot R. Yehudah Hassid (ibid.). The Sefer
    ha-Hinnukh (§188) adds that R. Yohanan certainly did not look at the women even
    when they exited the gates, but only positioned himself so that he could be seen – and
    even so his behavior would not have been appropriate for an ordinary person.
    Ritva (Kiddushin 82a) explains how it was permissible for R. Yohanan to do this:
    “…if he sees in himself that his desires are subdued and under control… he may
    look at and speak to a women who is an ervah to him, or ask after the welfare of a
    married woman… and this explains the conduct of R. Yohanan, who sat at the gates
    of immersion ( ), and was not concerned about his evil inclination…
    and likewise of various rabbis who spoke with [Roman] matrons …” This seems
    straightforward.
    This is how R. Broyde (p. 120) renders the words of Ritva: “…this explains the
    conduct of R. Yohanan, who looked at the women as they were immersing…” (emphasis
    mine). Somehow, “sitting at the gates of immersion,” has been transformed into,
    “looking at the women as they were immersing.” R. Broyde then proceeds to argue
    that just as R. Yohanan could watch naked women (!), since he didn’t fi nd it arousing,
    he would permit women going bareheaded in a context where it is not erotic.
    Later in the article (p. 161), R. Broyde quotes this very same Ritva, but translates it
    somewhat differently – but no more accurately. This is how he renders Ritva’s words
    there: “…this explains the conduct of R. Yohanan who sat at the gates as the women
    were immersing, looking on without any erotic intent” (emphasis mine).
    I leave it to the reader to examine the original and judge just how far R. Broyde has
    allowed his enthusiasm to take him.

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  7. http://www.traditiononline.org/news/_pdfs/0073-0108.pdf

    The above is from there

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  8. >I leave it to the reader to examine the original and judge just how far R. Broyde has
    allowed his enthusiasm to take him.

    Of course people should read it. But it's irrelevant. The Rambam isn't treif-posul because it is possible to write withering hasagos on the Mishne Torah. How far someone's enthusiasm takes them does not mean that they're no longer rabbis and in fact even like an infamous reform rabbi.

    Look where Rabbi Miller's enthusiasm took him.

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  9. Huh, infamous reform rabbi? Most of RA"CH's psakim were less halachicaly acrobatic than RMB's article.

    Is it truly such an insult to be compared to Chorin? R' Broyde would be hardly accepted as orthodox by Hungarian standards.

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  10. >Huh, infamous reform rabbi?

    This is news to you?

    >R' Broyde would be hardly accepted as orthodox by Hungarian standards.

    Neither was Hildesheimer, but Hildesheimer wasn't Chorin, Hildesheimer was Orthodox, and rabbis in Toronto/ Lakewood aren't supposed to be upholding 19th century Hungarian standards.

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  11. "This is news to you?"

    That R' Miller would describe him as such is expected, but that you are using those words is indeed news to me. Is your opinion based on study of his works?

    BTW Standards of Lakewood are in many areas much stricter than those of Oberland orthodoxy.

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  12. Attention should be paid to R. Broyde's statement in response to the criticism of his article (Tradition 43:2): "I think that it is incumbent upon halakhic authorities to search far and wide for Jewish law explanations and justifications for common practices within
    the Orthodox community. It is both unhealthy and unwise to ponder the possibility that the generation of leadership which built Orthodoxy in
    the United States and many other places simply acted without any foundation at all in Jewish law in this or in any other area. I wrote the article to provide some explanation for their practices in a technical halakhic sense... The deep consensus of Ahronim of the last four centuries has been that there is a Torah-based
    objective obligation upon married women to cover their hair, and that remains the normative halakha. It was not my intent to challenge that
    understanding of the halakha, but merely to explain as a limmud zekhut that the conduct of centuries of women fully observant of Jewish law was consistent with the baseline minimum endorsed by a classical code, whether or not it is considered normative by the decisors of the last centuries."

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  13. "In my view it is an urgent duty of the modern Orthodox rabbinate to respond. "

    How much would you like to wager that no such response will be forthcoming? The MO rabbinate will continue sucking RW dick as they always have.

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  14. >How much would you like to wager that no such response will be forthcoming

    I'll save my money.

    But this is why I wrote that it is an urgent duty. Someone has to say it.

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  15. >That R' Miller would describe him as such is expected, but that you are using those words is indeed news to me. Is your opinion based on study of his works?

    Partly, but also partly based on the climate, and I don't mean the Orthodox side. Although he tried to bring about reforms in a halachic way, or at least using halachic language, he didn't really oppose the non-halachic wing of reformists - he differed with them in a few cases. It isn't like he died a tragic figure, and all he wanted was to allow kitniyot and an organ.

    >BTW Standards of Lakewood are in many areas much stricter than those of Oberland orthodoxy.

    That's because Oberland Orthodoxy was a somewhat of a real traditional community, and Lakewood is a hybrid monster. But the reverse is true as well. There's no reason why 19th century flashpoints should be adopted by Lakewood. Without a doubt people not accepted as Orthodox in Hungary would be accepted as Orthodox in Lakewood ihr ha-they-think-in-English, in the Latin alphabet no less.

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  16. Indeed, I'm far from being Chorin's advocate, I'm just saying I wouldn't expect R' Miller and you to agree on this.

    Oberland wasn't a shtetl-land, the Orthodox Jews there spoke German and most of them (including Rabbis)read secular newspaper.

    "There's no reason why 19th century flashpoints should be adopted by Lakewood"

    But it was. Face the reality. Lakewood is an artificially created community and it's architects can implement there whatever they want. They don't care if the rest of the world (except Bnei Brak) will click on the like or dislike button.

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  17. ""In my view it is an urgent duty of the modern Orthodox rabbinate to respond. "
    Interesting. Really? We're talking about 2 totally different communities here, Lakewood and YU, without a lot of overlap. Its not like the average Tradition reading, Rabbi Broyde fan is paying close attention to what Rabbi Miller says, or is likely to change their opinion of Rabbi Broyde or the hair-covering issue based on Rabbi Miller's letter. The same is true vice-versa of course - I doubt the Tradition article made a lot of in-roads in Lakewood (which leads you to wonder why Rabbi Miller felt he had to write the letter - someone should ask him, he's a very smart man. Perhaps he did not intend for it to be publicized?). I can't see how a strong response from the modern Ortohodox rabbinate and the resultant public skirmish would increase kavod Hatorah? I've always wondered why Rabbi's Hirsch and Bamberger made their argument public - did they not think these things were better settled behind closed doors?
    How about a post on Chorin and this whole acher business? Sounds interesting...

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  18. I'm not a fan of either man and so I feel about this issue pretty much the same way I felt about the Iran/Iraq war. Miller is a hard core charedi, symbolic of a morally and intellectualy exhausted lifetyle that has proven to be an unmitigated failure. Anyone who reads this blog, and thus has some degree of intelectual curiosity, should reject the Millers of the world.

    Yet Broyde is not much better. He's a leftist and an academic, and is the liberal mirror image of Miller. He kowtows to feminists to the same degree and extent that Miller bows to the chareidim. His "beis din" for family/divorce matters is a kangaroo court - only a poor fool of a man would agree to its jurisdiction. [By contrast, in pure business disputes it's probably a decent option, though merely one out of many.] I have met the man, and he absolutely reeks of arrogance. In addition, his method of reaching a halachik decision is questionable. That's not to say it should be dismissed out of hand in the repulsive and imperial style of S.Miller, but there's a lot of methodological flaws in his mehalech.

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  19. DF you are way off. I have asked the man numerous shailos in my work, i have met him, spoken to him many times. he has no arrogence. he is a tremendous talmid chochom, a scholar, a yirei shomayim, a gentleman. words dont do him justice. And his bes din is absolutely respected and legitimate. the fact that a woman can get a legitimate shot doesnt make it as you put it "a kangaroo court" would you prefer the chareidi batei din where the psak goes to the highest bidder, or the most yeshivish or politically connected party? Grow up and realize that our leader have to lead us, not repress us. and so you dont get the wrong idea, i went to yeshivish yeshivas, live in a chareidi area, i just think, so my head is not stuck in the sand.

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  20. Shimon S

    >Indeed, I'm far from being Chorin's advocate, I'm just saying I wouldn't expect R' Miller and you to agree on this.

    I'm all for "hey, bet you didn't realize that the truth of history isn't what you were led to believe," but I'm not for doing this where it is. I'm not offering my opinion of whether Chorin was a tzadik or a rasha, and I profess no knowledge of the verdict of his din. But neither should that prevent me from acknowledging that he was a proto-reform rabbi, does not appear to have been even a little dismayed by the form in which reform had already taken in his lifetime - even if I think it was despicable to lie about sturgeon, to shave him and stone him, or that in reality rabbinic Judaism allows prayer in the vernacular, etc.

    >Oberland wasn't a shtetl-land, the Orthodox Jews there spoke German and most of them (including Rabbis) read secular newspaper.

    I'm aware of that, although admittedly my knowledge of Oberland Hungarian Orthodox Judaism is somewhat wanting. But assuming that I am correct about their attitude toward Status Quo, which is the best present equivalent of MOxy, even if in reality today MO is generally to the right on the issue of relations with the non-Orthodox.

    >But it was. Face the reality. Lakewood is an artificially created community and it's architects can implement there whatever they want. They don't care if the rest of the world (except Bnei Brak) will click on the like or dislike button.

    Okay, you're right that they *can*. I'm saying that they *shouldn't.* As someone with personal knowledge pointed out to me, Chareidim in need of psychiatrists -and they will only go to a frum one - often prefer Modern Orthodox ones, since they feel that only then can they trust the confidentiality, and open up and only then is the therapist truly disinterested. If 'they' stop regarding the Modern Orthodox as frum, they'll lose this and other services which are mostly provided by the Modern Orthodox. It is in their interest to accept the existence of a liberal Orthodoxy, even if they'll never care what a modern Orthodox rabbi says.

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  21. Anon

    >Interesting. Really? We're talking about 2 totally different communities here, Lakewood and YU, without a lot of overlap.

    I look at it like it's the broader yeshivish community rather than Lakewood per se, even though in time it will all be synonymous.

    >Its not like the average Tradition reading, Rabbi Broyde fan is paying close attention to what Rabbi Miller says, or is likely to change their opinion of Rabbi Broyde or the hair-covering issue based on Rabbi Miller's letter. The same is true vice-versa of course - I doubt the Tradition article made a lot of in-roads in Lakewood (which leads you to wonder why Rabbi Miller felt he had to write the letter - someone should ask him, he's a very smart man. Perhaps he did not intend for it to be publicized?).

    Although I'm only speculating, it seems clear to me that like most things of this nature he responded to a request. Presumably someone shoved the article under his nose. Heck, maybe some guy's daughter or wife isn't covering her hair the way he wants and she found the Tradition article online and had something to respond to him. Why then he felt the need to respond? Maybe it made his blood boil, who knows. I doubt he intended for it to be publicized, but then he did write it on his own stationary.

    >I can't see how a strong response from the modern Ortohodox rabbinate and the resultant public skirmish would increase kavod Hatorah?

    While I agree that there is little that is pleasant about sectarian squabbling, the hamon need to know that their rabbis 1) stand up for kavod hatorah and 2) have confidence in their hashkafah, as opposed to just go along with a weak bedievedike situation. Indeed, I think reason #2 is likely what motivated Broyde in the first place.

    >I've always wondered why Rabbi's Hirsch and Bamberger made their argument public - did they not think these things were better settled behind closed doors?

    The secret about Rabbi Hirsch is that he was a Pinchas, to a certain degree, but looking for places to throw a spear at. No one seems to acknowledge it, but to me that's what the evidence shows. Similarly, he was taken to task for writing the polemics about Frankel in German rather than keeping it in the rabbinic house and using Hebrew. His response was basically, Sod off.

    >How about a post on Chorin and this whole acher business? Sounds interesting...

    I agree... :)

    DF,

    It's not about being a fan of either. I am mostly speaking here about the symbolism of the attack and the attacked. I think Tradition needs to be defended (even though it is lame), Chakira (the verb) needs to be defended, halacha ve-lo le-ma'aseh needs to be defended, and not only le-chumra, etc.

    As for batei din, a pox on all batei din, but they exist and I'm not going to say that Miller has the right to have one but the RCA doesn't. As for reaching a halachic decision, you and I both know your view on that, so what are you trying to say? He's playing Orthodox rabbi so he needs to be one, even though ultimately you have some pretty strong critiques about pesak?

    Ultimately I don't know Rabbi Broyde, but people say nice things about him. If people say not-nice-things too, I really can't say I know the truth. But surely it is true that he is well-regarded by some. But again, it's about what this represents as much as the man, although goodness knows that it is also unpleasant the way he was insulted in and of itself.

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  22. Insofar as the attack and Miller's dismissal of it - I agree its wrong, unwarranted, foolish, and insulting. Miller should have responded with a detailed teshivah of his own, if he felt the need, or best of all, followed Avos 3:17 and not said anything. Whatver I or anyone else feels of him, Broyde is a human being, an observant Jew, and a talmid chacham, and any one of those criteria is enough to demand some respect from Miller. So we agree there.

    But Broyde qua Broyde cannot be removed from the discussion. Everything I said about him and his joke of a kangaroo court is true. As far as his halachic methodology goes, what I personally feel about it is not relevant. I may personally even agree with his conclusions about wigs. But Broyde is - by definition - writing for people who beleive in that halachic process, and wish to act in accordance with that they feel is "the halahca" as that term is usually understood, not the way anyone else understands it. And in its common meaning, the halacha does NOT consist of looking up obscure opinions in some computer database and bottoming your psak thereupon. Amid other methodological flaws.

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  23. Do you really believe that Broyde is a computer database rabbi? I ask, because I have no idea.

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  24. Fotheringay-Phipps1:02 PM, January 05, 2011

    What makes this whole thing silly is that RSM is simply stating facts that are obvious to all non-ignorami of whatever ideology. R' Broyde's repeated attempts to justify deviation from halacha WRT hair covering are pathetic, dishonest, and no different than the similar convolutions of early Reform rabbis.

    This is NOT to say that none of the charedi-bashing comments have no merit. But they would have merit elsewhere. In this particular case, RSM is spot on, and there's no particular connotation that should be put on his words other than that they are the plain and simple truth.

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  25. Fotheringay-Phipps1:13 PM, January 05, 2011

    "have no merit"

    Should be "have any merit". (Confused by all the negatives.) Sorry.

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  26. Well, yes. I certainly realize that if this is what Rabbi Miller thinks then others will agree. I am not trying to persuade anyone who thinks this not to think it. But I seriously doubt if any modern Orthodox rabbis - even those knocking at the very door of the yeshivishe velt think this. If so, then in my opinion they are obligated to say so.

    As for the substance, the reasons why I don't think that this is early reform Judaism replaying itself is partly because we have the benefit of hindsight. Early opposition to reform argued against innovations that were totally mutar, and in fact over time almost the entire spectrum of Orthodoxy adopted them. Say piyutim much lately? And if your shul does, do you guys think the next shul that doesn't is a bunch of goyim?

    So while the road to patrilineal descent may have been paved with sketchy teshuvos, the environment leading to patrilineal descent was very different, and at the time there was no historical model to emulate or stay away from. In addition, while not knowing him personally, many people say that Rabbi Broyde is a yarei shamayim. Other than this article itself, have you got some reason to say otherwise?

    Secondly, does anyone seriously think that Broyde made up the idea of seeking a zekhus for the practice of a kehillah kedosha that's neged halacha? I would argue that this itself is a major flash point. The yeshiva velt is stridently opposed to the idea that modern Orthodoxy is a kehilla kedosha. Yet can anyone blame a modern Orthodox rabbi for disagreeing?

    Thirdly, the yeshivishe velt in a certain sense has given up the ghost on at least three things taken seriously in the past. One, avoiding yehura. Two, mutav she-yihyeh shogegin and three, hotzaas laaz al ha-rishonim. Yet even so, for certain things the rabbinate does turn a blind eye by and large, namely they are meikel in nichush, kishuf and doresh al ha-meisim. So I think there are certainly grounds for coming together in mutual understanding. If you don't like my example, then we can point out that they ignored the Amen parties and women's Tefilla - I mean Tehillim - groups.

    F-P, don't worry. It's easy to become confused by all the negatives. ;-)

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  27. you got to check out matzav.com now (three oclock.) it makes me want to scream. poor harry maryles. at least fred, marc shapiro et al know how to fly below the radar. PLEASE DONT TELL THIS RIVLIN DUDE ABOUT THIS SITE!

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  28. If they say something nasty I'll get more hits. Those are visitors, not bruises. I don't troll for hits, but I don't mind them.

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  29. I've not read any of Broyde's product lately. But from what I remember they were basically taken straight out of Yabia Omer, plus a few things he found on CD Roms. If he found some makilim somewhere along the way -BOOM- we have a new halacha. Again, my own personal practice may or may not be exactly what he advocates. But he is preaching to the masses, who profess to want to act in accordance with halacha, and should know that this is not the way halacha is decided.

    NOW, that doesnt mean Miller's way is right, either. As I've already said, the two men are mirror images of each other, one right and one left. Miller's approach is to utterly disregard all views contrary to his own, and pretend as though those views are either non-existent or else unreliable. That too, is not the right approach, and I pity the poor fool masses of chareidim who follow him and this approach to life. So sad, they're missing out on a lot.

    So what is the right mehalech? The answer is, you know it when you see it. [Yes, I know.] RM Feinstein definitely had the right approach, which is why you cant always predict how he's going to hold in advance, while with so many others you can. A big part of paskening halacha is shikul hadass, to the extent that whether or not one is considered to have ruled properly or not is often dependent upon whether or not its a matter of shikul hadass. Seems to me that both rabbis Miller and Broyde are sorely lacking in this category.Also missing some of the 48 qualities set forth in kinyan torah, viacm"l.

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  30. Fotheringay-Phipps5:14 PM, January 05, 2011

    S.,

    The problem with your entire approach here is that you're ignoring the crux of the issue in favor of the angle which happens to be your area of interest. Carrying on forever about historical mindsets is ancillary to the issue here. The primary issue is whether what R' Broyde wrote is in fact ignorant and disingenuous claptrap. Because if it is, then RSM is correct in comparing him to the early reform, who wrote the same type of nonsense (& better, IMO) in support of their own reforms.

    But you ignore all that, for understandable reasons.

    This is really the core reason that RSM is correct in not engaging R' Broyde's actual nonsense. The vast majority of those interested in the issue don't have the ability to make a valid judgment on a Torah basis. So RSM would be dignifying R' Broyde's distortions for no real gain. From the perspective of the MO masses, it would just be 2 articles that they don't really understand (if they even read them to begin with) with impressive-seeming footnotes, so it's an eilu-v'eilu draw and an issur d'uraisa has been legitimized.

    Im navor tibor, v'im ikaish titapal.

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  31. >The primary issue is whether what R' Broyde wrote is in fact ignorant and disingenuous claptrap.

    It's not. People write ignorant things all the time. It may be stupid, but it's not criminal.

    I never called upon R. Miller to engage anything. (How could he? Do you really think he read 90+ pages? I sure don't.)

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  32. Fotheringay-Phipps5:24 PM, January 05, 2011

    S.,

    The problem with your entire approach here is that you're ignoring the crux of the issue in favor of the angle which happens to be your area of interest. Carrying on forever about historical mindsets is ancillary to the issue here. The primary issue is whether what R' Broyde wrote is in fact ignorant and disingenuous claptrap. Because if it is, then RSM is correct in comparing him to the early reform, who wrote the same type of nonsense (& better, IMO) in support of their own reforms.

    But you ignore all that, for understandable reasons.

    This is really the core reason that RSM is correct in not engaging R' Broyde's actual nonsense. The vast majority of those interested in the issue don't have the ability to make a valid judgment on a Torah basis. So RSM would be dignifying R' Broyde's distortions for no real gain. From the perspective of the MO masses, it would just be 2 articles that they don't really understand (if they even read them to begin with) with impressive-seeming footnotes, so it's an eilu-v'eilu draw and an issur d'uraisa has been legitimized.

    Im navor tibor, v'im ikaish titapal.

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  33. >The primary issue is whether what R' Broyde wrote is in fact ignorant and disingenuous claptrap.

    It's not. People write ignorant things all the time. It may be stupid, but it's not criminal.

    I never called upon R. Miller to engage anything. (How could he? Do you really think he read 90+ pages? I sure don't.)

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  34. Let's put it this way. You're saying the issue is a claptrappy screed and that Rabbi Miller happens to be right.

    That may be your issue from your perspective, but my issue from my perspective is that apart from the fact that Rabbi Miller is an unpleasant person this is an attack on modern Orthodoxy, and modern Orthodox rabbis (including especially Broyde's rabbeim) should defend modern Orthodoxy, I mean Rabbi Broyde. Preferably this would take the form of an offense rather than a specific defense of what he wrote, because - in my view - that isn't the point.

    Now, if you're right then don't Broyde's colleagues and rabbeim have an obligation to speak out about the reform rabbi in their midst? The way I see it, they don't have a choice to be silent. They'll most likely be silent anyway, but that's certainly not brave.

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  35. Fotheringay-Phipps5:52 PM, January 05, 2011

    S. "People write ignorant things all the time. It may be stupid, but it's not criminal."

    It's just stupid if it's of no consequence. If it's a psak halacha about a very serious issue, and one which many many people are looking for some support for leniency, and one which many many otherwise fine people were unfortunately lenient about until hard battles were fought and won, then it's criminal.

    Chazal say "kol hameigis libo b'hora'a, harei zeh shotah, rasha, v'gas ruach". They meant people like R' Broyde.

    "my issue from my perspective is that apart from the fact that Rabbi Miller is an unpleasant person this is an attack on modern Orthodoxy"

    A lot of right wingers might agree with you. Because if you think that distortions of Torah are what Modern Orthodoxy is all about, then you're right. Question is if that's true.

    "Now, if you're right then don't Broyde's colleagues and rabbeim have an obligation to speak out about the reform rabbi in their midst?"

    Quite possible.

    In general, even well meaning MO rabbis are in a bind here, because they are part of the same group as R' Broyde, and because their constituancy would not support attacks on him. So they're constrained in their ability to freely say their views.

    Personally I tend to think they should tell it like it is and let the chips fall where they may. But I can see another perspective. It's an age-old conundrum.

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  36. "Chazal say "kol hameigis libo b'hora'a, harei zeh shotah, rasha, v'gas ruach". They meant people like R' Broyde."

    If they intended people like RB - and I'm not necessarily disagreeing - kal vichomer they likewise intended people like RSM.

    "... and an issur d'uraisa has been legitimized."

    Rubbish.

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  37. >It's just stupid if it's of no consequence. If it's a psak halacha about a very serious issue, and one which many many people are looking for some support for leniency, and one which many many otherwise fine people were unfortunately lenient about until hard battles were fought and won, then it's criminal.

    Even if I agree with this, his article is not only not a pesak halacha to begin with (it's an article in Tradition after all) he clearly states that the halacha is to cover the hair.

    Believe me, I get it about the hard battles. They were hard, and the sheitels look better now, and now a lot of women cover their hair. I know it. But a lot of Orthodox women also don't cover their hair today. To you they're chopped liver or perhaps harlots, but evidently to Rabbi Broyde they're also righteous women who are deserving of a limud zechus.

    >A lot of right wingers might agree with you. Because if you think that distortions of Torah are what Modern Orthodoxy is all about, then you're right. Question is if that's true.

    They do agree, and that's why I think it should be responded to by those who are themselves being attacked. Make no mistake, it's not one rabbi in one book or on one blog. Tradition is establishment Modern Orthodoxy. The 'official' MO position might be that R. Broyde was wrong and/ or foolish, but it's not that he committed an evil act.

    Out of curiosity, what is your take on the left-wing teshuvos of German rabbonim who not only were aware of Reform, but also battlers of Reform, who neverthless legitimated things that the people were doing or needed to do? Where they mezayfim too?

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  38. Fotheringay-Phipps6:28 PM, January 05, 2011

    S. "To you they're chopped liver or perhaps harlots"

    I wouldn't make a generalization. There's all types.

    "but evidently to Rabbi Broyde they're also righteous women who are deserving of a limud zechus."

    "Righteous women" and "deserving of a limud zechus" don't necessarily go hand in hand. Maybe they're righteous women who deserve to be encouraged to do the right thing and not strengthened in this unfortunate custom.

    By way of example, the Aruch Hashulchan is celebrated in MO circles these days for his propensity to justify the contemporary customs, and he - in his famous discussion of the hair covering issue - does not attempt to justify it at all. He bemoans it at some length.

    The idea of justifying minhagim is, as I think you've noted, an old and respectible one. But that doesn't mean that anything goes. There's also an old saying that "minhag osi'os gehennim".

    The "custom" of uncovering hair was historically accompanied by consistent rabbinic opposition. It's no different than the even stronger and better established "customs" of cheating at business, marital strife, talking during davening etc. etc. etc.

    "Out of curiosity, what is your take on the left-wing teshuvos of German rabbonim who not only were aware of Reform, but also battlers of Reform, who neverthless legitimated things that the people were doing or needed to do? Where they mezayfim too?"

    Along the lines of what I've been saying repeatedly here, it depends on the details of what they wrote. If they wrote ignorant and dishonest claptrap like R' Broyde, then absolutely. If they wrote things that were actually supportable, then not.

    ReplyDelete
  39. F-P

    >"Righteous women" and "deserving of a limud zechus" don't necessarily go hand in hand. Maybe they're righteous women who deserve to be encouraged to do the right thing and not strengthened in this unfortunate custom.

    Say that about anything that goes against halacha which is justified.

    There are many reasons. Mutav sheyehiye shogegim being one; a constant, unrelenting message that women must cover the hair will only influence so many women to do so. The others are basically ignoring a de-oraysa with the knowledge that they're doing so. It may be a little better for those to do it be-shogeg.

    The Aruch ha-shulchan has nothing to do with it - no one says he loved women's uncovered hair, and no one should be saying that Broyde does.

    Basically I think you may have touched upon an issue here, which is that "so much work" went into getting women to just cover their darned hair, and this could be seen as threatening to undo it. Indeed, I myself speculate that perhaps this came to R. Miller's radar by someone who is not thrilled with his daughter or wife's mode of hair covering, and perhaps she printed up this pdf from the internet and tried to give a response. This may or may not have happened, but I think it could.

    If so this is religiously threatening, sure. But Broyde's responsibility isn't only to the righteous women of yeshivish Toronto any more than the Melamed Le-ho'il had to consider the righteous Polish children and whether they went to Gymnasium and whether they did it on shabbos or not - or at least he didn't have to consider it as his primary consideration. A community doesn't only need to hear "You're messing up" from its rabbis, and modern Orthodox Jews don't only have to hear from rabbis that eventually they may be zoche to be Chareidim.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Fotheringay-Phipps7:13 PM, January 05, 2011

    S. "Mutav sheyehiye shogegim being one"

    I'm not completely clear in what you're saying, but mutav sheyehiyu shogegim is not and has never been a reason to say that forbidden things are permitted. Sometimes you just don't say anything.

    "a constant, unrelenting message that women must cover the hair will only influence so many women to do so."

    Of late the trend has been in the right direction.

    "The Aruch ha-shulchan has nothing to do with it - no one says he loved women's uncovered hair, and no one should be saying that Broyde does."

    But there is clearly a huge difference between the AHS's attitude to this issue and R' Broyde's.

    My point here is that R' Broyde's approach is out of the bounds of traditional rationalizations of minhagim that you cited.

    "A community doesn't only need to hear "You're messing up" from its rabbis"

    Agreed.

    "and modern Orthodox Jews don't only have to hear from rabbis that eventually they may be zoche to be Chareidim."

    Not hearing the negative is not the same thing as hearing the positive. If RSM just decided to attack MO women for not covering their hair, you'd have a point. But he's just responding to an "Orthodox" rabbi distorting the Torah. That's something else entirely.
    But FWIW, I doubt if RSM's target audience is MO anyway.

    As with the Slifkin ban and any number of similar situations, the point of declarations like this is not at convincing MO people, most of whom will have negative reactions. The point is that charedim should know that this position is "michutz lamachaneh" and is not a legitimate viewpoint, nor is R' Broyde a legitimate posek.

    There's still a lot of crossover between the MO and charedi worlds these days, and R' Broyde is a pretty prominent MO leader, so it's worth making that position clear.

    ReplyDelete
  41. "Very serious issue".... that's the problem.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Rabbi Miller's father in law was Rivlin

    ReplyDelete
  43. F-P et al

    You are exaggerating the potential damage of RMB's article. He says several times in several ways that he's isn't attempting to change the halacha and that he respects the "great achronim" of our time who say a woman must cover her hair no excuses. Its just an exercise in halachic history cum limud zechus. He's not attempting to overturn established precedents.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Fotheringay-Phipps8:58 AM, January 06, 2011

    That's just a bit of CYA on his part. You have to look at what he writes in the rest of the article. And he knows good and well what the impact of his article is too.

    It's not like this is a one-off article in a vacuum either. R' Broyde has been pushing this line in various forums for years.

    [First time I encountered it was in an early blog - I don't think it's around anymore - run by a guy called "Nisht". R' Broyde was destroyed in the comments section by many commentors. But he's been at it ever since.]

    ReplyDelete
  45. I'm not sure your interpretation is justified, given that RMB says in plain language that he's only trying to show that halacha changes, and not trying to uproot or discredit that change

    ReplyDelete
  46. Why am I not surprised that FP comes along and justifies some Charedi Rov’s despicable actions? You almost always play this card. Justify the action by showing that there is some kernel of truth in the attack, and then presto! We can now compare one Rov because of one view he has held which is questionable to a Reform Rabbi. Is RSM really just saying that because of this one view he is like Acher in one respect? You have to be an honest to God idiot to not see this for what it is. It is an open attack on MO, and now when someone describes RMB in the yeshivish world and says something in his name, the reply will be “That oizvorf who wrote that shtus kineged halacha?”

    Just to explain how this process works, because I spent a zman learning in that ugly “kollel” in TO. Losers and hockers approach RSM all the time to sign some ban and to delegitimize anything they don’t agree with. I have heard them talking and hacking away, this has nothing to do with one view of RMB. It is about MO in general, but “Kahn mutzah bal chov likvot”. And even if it was the issue of just this one academic piece (for crying out loud!), you don’t write a scathing critique like that in a pashkvil form without reading it and consulting the person. It is just not proper midos.

    In Toronto a recent yenta told me that her niece stopped covering her hair (she was so shocked she nearly choked just telling me over this story) and said “well RYBS’ wife didn’t cover her hair”. No mention of RMB’s tshuva. No one in Toronto is going to uncover their hair because of this piece, and the idiots that goaded RSM into signing this knew it too.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Does anyone have R. Falk's "Oz VeHadar Levusha" handy? IIRC, there is a delicious passage about how to deal with pictures of prominent women in previous generations who did not cover their hair. Something along the lines of the women having been in semi-private courtyards (paparazzi?) and it being forbidden to distribute the pics.

    ReplyDelete
  48. House of Hock. The destruction has been lost to history.
    http://houseofhock.blogspot.com/2004/11/here-is-answer-to-my-question-by-r.html
    http://houseofhock.blogspot.com/2004/12/r-broyde-answers-critics.html
    http://houseofhock.blogspot.com/2004/12/more-than-just-reed-cutters-in-swamp.html
    http://houseofhock.blogspot.com/2004/12/i-am-sorry.html

    ReplyDelete
  49. > The idea of justifying minhagim is, as I think you've noted, an old and respectible one. But that doesn't mean that anything goes. There's also an old saying that "minhag osi'os gehennim".

    Absurd. There is very little in R' Broyde's article that is more extreme than (just to give some examples):

    1) achronims' justifications of the wholesale abandonement of Chadash
    2) achronims' justifications of the minhag of even Kohanim praying at the graves of tzaddikim.

    Further, it is not that much different than what mainstream Chareidi poskim do all the time leChumra - making assur that which is muttar. Are you going to tell me that R' Moshe's teshuva forbidding the use of in-ground backyard pools filled with rainwater as mikvaot stands up to any real level of halachic scrutiny? Heck, if it was either not leChumra or not written by R' Moshe, you would probably be mocking in the same extreme manner that you mock R' Broyde's article.

    All in all, it seems that more liberal halachic methods are tolerated as long as they are very very old.

    ReplyDelete
  50. FP - I am absolutely amazed at your moral myopia. For all the absolutely outrageous things that go on in the segment of the Jewish people R. Miller inhabits, you see this hair covering business as the biggest deal in the world, but when whole communities have lost their way on issues of basic human decency (e.g. how Strulowitz was greeted on his return to Lakewood, how notorious Charedi molesters have been sheltered by their rabbis and communities, how tax evasion and using tzedakos for money laundering is common etc. etc. ad nauseum) you choose to see R. Broyde's teshuva as the big deal. Anyone with the slightest bit of human decency would view the issues I have mentioned as the much bigger deal - the very fact that it was Rabbi Broyde who stood up and said 'call the police straight away in cases of molestation' and not (as far as I am aware) any of the Charedi authorities you are defending means that they have automatically lost any moral/religious argument before it has even started.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Fotheringay-Phipps5:15 PM, January 10, 2011

    Chardal,

    Your assertions are ignorant and silly. However, this is a halachic issue and one that does not lend itself to being proved on MBs, so we'll have to leave it at that. If you disagree so be it.

    In general though, people would be better off if they considered halachic issues on their halachic merits and not as sociology. And if they don't, that's not the problem of people like RSM who look at it properly.

    J.,

    What you're saying is also silly. Clearly and FTR, I don't think that R' Broyde's writings on hair covering are the biggest problem facing Judaism. OK. Can we move past that now?

    ReplyDelete
  52. >Your assertions are ignorant and silly

    Please enlighten us how it is so different (other than the fact that one wholesale limmud zechut - re chadash - occured centuries ago and R' Broyde is writing today?

    How was the heter for kohanim to visit kivrei tzaddikim based on firmer halachic ground when it first came onto the historical landscape than R' Broyde's limud zechut is today?

    Can you please give us reasons why these two examples (out of many more we can probably brainstorm) are "ignorant and silly" and don't hide behind the medium of the blog - if they are indeed ignorant and silly, then you should have no problem exposing them as such by pointing out the fundumental halahic strengths of both "limudei zechut/heterim"

    ReplyDelete
  53. "In general though, people would be better off if they considered halachic issues on their halachic merits and not as sociology. And if they don't, that's not the problem of people like RSM who look at it properly."

    Any attempt to divorce sociology from halacha displays a gross ignorance of the latter. The cast bulk of halacha is bottomed upon sociological facts. Part of it is still based upon sociological realia of 5th century Persia. Part of it has developed to acknowledge current realia. The tension between the two is essentially the tension between orthodoxy and convervatism. But it is all based upon social norms. Hence, to claim blithely that one should should look at halachic merits and not sociology, as though the two were separate, is wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Fotheringay-Phipps1:43 PM, January 11, 2011

    Chardal: "Can you please give us reasons why these two examples (out of many more we can probably brainstorm) are "ignorant and silly" and don't hide behind the medium of the blog - if they are indeed ignorant and silly, then you should have no problem exposing them as such by pointing out the fundumental halahic strengths of both "limudei zechut/heterim""

    Sorry, no can do.

    First, spend years and years getting a familiarity with halachic literature, and an understanding of the way of thinking and writing of the halachic authorities through the ages. Then learn through the relevant sources of all three issues. Then you'll have a basis for an assessment of whether the source for the heterim in each case involve ignorance and dishonesty and twisting and misinterpretation. Not something that can be done standing on one foot, sorry.

    DF: "Any attempt to divorce sociology from halacha displays a gross ignorance of the latter. The cast bulk of halacha is bottomed upon sociological facts. Part of it is still based upon sociological realia of 5th century Persia. Part of it has developed to acknowledge current realia. The tension between the two is essentially the tension between orthodoxy and convervatism. But it is all based upon social norms. Hence, to claim blithely that one should should look at halachic merits and not sociology, as though the two were separate, is wrong."

    I'm aware of this viewpoint, of course. As you suggest, what you are advocating is commonly known as Conservative Judaism. I.e. halacha follows sociology and once we have compelling enough sociological reasons we can do whatever we want, and if we want to put a halachic veneer on it, we write up some bogus "responsa" with twisted but impressive seeming sources. That's an aveilus yeshana.

    I'm happy to leave the difference between you and RSM as the difference between Conservative and Orthodox. But you can't blame him for being as forceful about it, in that case. A lot of people don't accept your ideology and think R' Broyde is saying something that might be consistent with classic Orthodox Judaism, and RSM needs to clarify that this is not so.

    I should add though, that considering that this all started with objections to RSM comparing R' Broyde to Chorin, your comments seem misplaced. By your own account, RSM is right about that one.

    ReplyDelete
  55. >Sorry, no can do.

    >First, spend years and years getting a familiarity with halachic literature, and an understanding of the way of thinking and writing of the halachic authorities through the ages. Then learn through the relevant sources of all three issues. Then you'll have a basis for an assessment of whether the source for the heterim in each case involve ignorance and dishonesty and twisting and misinterpretation. Not something that can be done standing on one foot, sorry.

    Only the initiated understand, or those who choose to take their word for it.

    This is great, but it's the very basis for Daas Torah - not Torah. Take my word for it, because there's no logic which can be explained to you. And thus ends the era of sheilos u-teshuvos. The ma'amin has no she'ilos, right?

    And you say that the other group threatens the foundation of halacha.

    ReplyDelete
  56. >First, spend years and years getting a familiarity with halachic literature, and an understanding of the way of thinking and writing of the halachic authorities through the ages.

    I have spent years doing this - though I get the feeling that no one who reaches conclusions which disagree with your viewpoint will ever be seen as "truly understanding the sources" - you seem to see any hisoricist viewpoint of halacha as treif and therefore there is little point in trying to prop up anyone's scholarly credentials - you have reached your conclusion based on labels - orthodox, conservative, etc - not based on argumentation.

    >Then learn through the relevant sources of all three issues. Then you'll have a basis for an assessment of whether the source for the heterim in each case involve ignorance and dishonesty and twisting and misinterpretation. Not something that can be done standing on one foot, sorry.

    I have studied one of these issues very thoroughly - Kohanim going to kivrei tzaddikim. And the basis for this heter is flimsier than anything R' Broyde wrote - but I doubt that RSM would write a letter comparing those who are mattir it to an early reform rabbi.

    You are hiding behind the medium of the blog post in order to not have to defend a very absurd POV which you have staked for yourself. Please take the time to explain to us just 2 or 3 reasons why the heter of kivrei tzaddikim is on such firmer ground than R' Broyde's. Just indulge us, please.

    ReplyDelete
  57. FP-

    I always enjoy your comments; any post is always made better with a comment from ol' Fotheringay. You remind me of many of my lawyer colleaegues: Sometimes right, sometimes wrong, but never in doubt.

    You surely know that - despite the rhetoric of mesorah and minhag yisrael saba - orthodox practices change all the time. Sometimes it's likula, more often its lichumrah. I dont think I need to give examples here.

    So, you would agree with me, I think, that "halacha" most certainly does evolve in the orthodox no less than the conservative world. Are you then saying "it does change, but not in response to sociological facts"? The very existence of beis yakov disproves you. More recently, so does the phenomena of koillel wives working, and I'm talking well beyond little shtetel makolets, but actually working in offices, with menner. These concepts were once just as "forbidden" as not wearing a wig, but they're commonplace today.

    No, halacha does change, and it most certainly changes in response to social stimuli. The chief diffrence b/n the conservative and the orthodox is whether this is done explicitly or tacitly. Though I dislike a lot about R. Broyde and said so, and though I'm not necessarily happy [or unhappy] about this, his position will eventually prevail. It will come about as a combination of 1) the inherent contradiction of women going out to support their husbands yet simultaenously being subject to the concept of kol kevudah; 2) the sheer expense of wigs; and 3) the absolutely moronic idea, which to this day everyone continues to duck b/c of its sheer stupidity, that wearing a $4000 wig can somehow constitute "modesty".

    I agree with your last point, that Miller's comparison of Broyde to Chorin is perfectly legit.

    ReplyDelete
  58. I agree with DF, and see one of the key differences between OJ and CJ as HOW they change, not WHETHER.

    Whether CJ takes pride in change, OJ denies that change occurs and digs up/interprets traditional sources to "Kasher" any change. (For example, see R. Kaminetzky on how intoxication on Purim has ALWAYS(?!?) been forbidden and his reading of LeBesumei. Also, as DF points out, every Bais Yaakov school).

    Think of a group of Rabbis in a moving bus. Just because they paint static pictures on the front and back windshields and Pasken that the bus is in fact stationery, it continues to roll.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Fotheringay-Phipps12:28 PM, January 14, 2011

    You guys are not following the logical sequence here. Even if one grants that sociology influences halacha, that doesn't mean that you can - as R' Broyde did - write ignorant and distorted things and justify it by comparison with other things that are similar sociologically.

    The original context here is my insistance that you can't begin to discuss the validity of RSM's assertion about RMB without focusing on whether it's correct from a halachic standpoint.

    To use an analogy that DF might understand, take secular law, say labor law if you prefer. Sociology undoubtedly influences law. I'm sure we all agree about that. But suppose a leading legal scholar harshly criticizes on legal grounds, the writings of some popular legal issues writer. You can't begin to discuss it until you have competant people assessing whether the critique is correct on legal grounds. You can't just ignore the legal aspect and focus on sociological ones.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Well, Fungi, you have taken the time to come back here and make a number of replies, but you maintained that you don't have the time or inclination to justify your inflammatory comments about R' Broyde('s writing?). To review, "ignorant", "nonsense", "convoluted", "claptrap", "distorted", "pathethic", "dishonest", "disingenuous". Do you get to write that way and just have people take your word for it?

    ReplyDelete
  61. "You can't begin to discuss it until you have competant people assessing whether the critique is correct on legal grounds. You can't just ignore the legal aspect and focus on sociological ones."

    Your comments are predicated on the premise that halachic aspects are severable from sociological aspects, or as I phrased it earlier, you attempt to divorce one from the other. Because I dont share that premise, and in fact because nearly all of shas and shulchan aruch goes againnst that premise, I must disagree.

    ReplyDelete
  62. >You guys are not following the logical sequence here. Even if one grants that sociology influences halacha, that doesn't mean that you can - as R' Broyde did - write ignorant and distorted things and justify it by comparison with other things that are similar sociologically.<

    You are begging the question. The article can only be discribed as "ignorant and distorted" if one accepts your premise that there is a legal/halachic truth that is seperable from sociology or other broader agendas and concerns. RMB is no obligated to prove his limud zechut in the arena of theoretical pure halachic categories than R' Chaim Brisker zt"l would have had to justify his chidushim on historical/sociological grounds. If you want to push this debate to a higher level of abstraction - then by all means - do you think it is justifiable to say that halacha has historically been predicated only on pure categorical grounds and sociological concerns were only of a secondary nature? Do you think you can back this position up from an historical perspective?

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