Friday, 28 August 2009

Cognitive Dissonance Pt. 6 - Process vs. Product

I read a recent post by my chaveir Micha Berger

« observation by "Dear Abby" (Pauline Phillips, born Pauline Esther Friedman). She wrote that men are goal oriented, while women are process oriented. This is an alleged gender difference ... probably based on anecdotal evidence, that would fit the roles assumed ..»

Full blog post: »

Back to our subject.

How Product vs. Process can create cognitive dissonances - when comparing original texts [such as Talmud] with more contemporary practice [e.g. Sh'mirat Shabbat k'hilcheta]

Some strict constructionists (including fundamentalists) see Talmudic legislation as the PRODUCT of Talmudic dialectic.

If the Talmud debates X vs. Y, then the matter that is resolved WITHIN the Talmud - or those based upon a strict set of philological guidelines - is the last Halachic word on the subject. Any deviation left or right violates the product!

However, the vast majority of Talmudists, including the Tosafistic Schools and the Schools of Ramban et al. [E.g. Barcelona] See the Hatimat Hatalmud more about Process. The Talmud is not a Shulchan Aruch nor a Kitzur Shuhcan Aruch - rather it is the premier primer on how to use casuistry to arrive at Halachic decision making.

Thus, to strict constructions the Talmud is saying follow my decision [product] ignore my process. Do as I say but not as I do!

To the process oriented dialecticists, the Talmud is saying: I have illuminated your path! Follow my way of arriving at decisions!

Shloymie: But what about Rav Ashi and Ravina - Sof Hora"ah?

RRW: That subject could easily fill a book. Simply said, it means we no longer pronounce hora'ah by means of [apodictic] Statements. But OTOH to Tosafistically cite sources and to engage in dialectic - aderraba. This is the sanctioned Talmudic process as enshrined by Hazal for us to continue using.

By convention, we have restricted ourselves.
Amoraim address Taanaic literature,

Gaonim and Rishonim address Amoraic literature,
Acharonim analyze the Rishonim and Gaonim.

See how Bet Yosef treats Rishonim in much the same manner as the Talmud treats Mishnah and Braitto

Thus the Tur is the functional Process equivalent of the Mishnah of Rishonim, while the BY is the functional equivalent of the Talmud of Rishonim. The Darchei Moshe et al. is the equivalent of the Tosafot on that Talmud

The process as seen as a page in the Vilna Shas has been perpetuated. Perhaps not every decision, rather the functional equivalents have been preserved.

This convention is generally adhered to - except in cases of dire need such as sha'at hadechak or et la'asot. Then exceptions are not only allowed, but welcomed as necessary.


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