Sunday, 17 May 2009

Avot DeRabbi Reuven - Four Halachic Perspectives

There at least 4 perspectives on how to view a halachic norm:
  1. The Rationalist
  2. The Fundamentalist
  3. The Consensus-Finder
  4. The Rebel

The Rationalist sees everything as either making sense or as nonsense. He tends to see that Halachah should not play dice (similar to Einstein - G-D does nto ply dice with the univserse)

The Fundamentalist sees Halachah as a fixed target. Stable, but rigidly unyielding. He sees Halachah as another set of Tablets written in stone.

The Conscensus-Finder relies on peer review. He takes a wait-and-see attitude. Like R Joshua at Tanur Achnai, proofs don't matter, votes do.

The Rebel takes an ipcha mistavra point of view. He sees everything opposite of the common wisdom. He is creative and stimulating, but also divisive and needing to call attention to himself.

Let's play this game with a recent query regarding riding a bicycle on Shabbat:

Rationalists will concur that this is a close analogy to existing principles and equate it to musical instruments: Just as guitars are forbidden lest they be adjusted, so too with bicycles.

Fundamentalists will protest against anything but a rigid narrow construction of the text no matter how mindless. So musical instruments set no precedent re: bicycles even if the analogy were otherwise perfect

Consesus-seekers will see which team above wins the vote and follow THAT. They defer their ego reasoning to the greater whole (somewhat analogous to Catholic Israel). Therefore, If most posqim agree with the Rationalists, so do they.

Rebels will do the exact opposite of consensus seakers no matter how unreasonable that position might be in order to be "original". They will make convincing cases to show that the conventional wisdom is "wrong". Sometimes they serve as a check and balance. At other times they seek attention. Therefore, If most posqim agree with the Rationalists, so they protest it and find the few dissenting voices.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would, as a semi rationalist, test the analogy to see if it is a good one. Most people who can play a musical instrument can make at least minor repars to daid instrument and will do so without a thought. But fixing a bike is a different matter, most people would no know what to do, and would not want to get dirty, even if they did. Since the analogy does not hold water, look at cost/benfit. Can people get to Shul without driving? Does it maximize Shabat consciousness and minimize actual chilull Shabat?