Sunday, 16 August 2009

Intellectual Honesty and "Cherry Picking" Quotes

In Tur + SA YD, there is a debate about the "minhag" of excluding women from shechita.

Agur says that women are excluded as no one sees them slaughter.

Bet Yosef protests:
Lo Ra'inu eino raya. Lack of witnessing an event is no proof that it did not happen nor that it could not happen

Shach counters BY
By minhag lo ra'inu is a Raya. IOW granted in the realm of Halachah the BY is correct - but this is about Minhag. In this context construe Minhag as "Policy".
I have heard the BY quoted by some people as proof positive that women may not be excluded from doing "X" simply because women haven't done it. This is true and fair

Q: Is this Fair and "Balanced" to quote the BY and consciously Omit the Shach? Is this type of "Cherry Picking" Intellectualy honest?



Mikewind Dale (Michael Makovi) said...

I think it depends on the purpose. In shu"tim, one can be more biased than in an encyclopedic reference article.

Cf "Rabbi Rosenthal claims that the decisor’s worldview, which is basic to his very existence and with which he approaches every halakhic question he sets out to decide, impels him to find authorized sources on which he can base his practical halakhic determination. This method implies that the decisor knows, more or less, the direction in which he is headed, and that he combs the halakhic sources for the earlier decisor or decisors who are consistent with his general leaning. He does not engage in systematic, comprehensive study of the entire decisional tradition (as one might in an encyclopedia entry); rather, he conducts a focused study that seeks to extract from the inner world of the halakhah the particular voices that comport with his own spirit and to amplify those voices above all the others."

Rabbi R Wolpoe said...

What if the context was a wesite that was "pushing" intellectual honesty!?