Thursday, 1 July 2010

Cognitive Dissonance - R' Berkovits = Conservative Halacha?

Michael Makovi wrote:
: The topic moved to discussing Rabbi Berkovits's halachic approach,
: compared to Conservative.

Micha Berger wrote:
"Compared to" doesn't mean equated, despite your choice of new subject

RRW: I myself have only read a smattering of R.E. Berkovits

My general impression is that either he is advocating or better yet perhaps some are saying in his name the following:
"So long is one is sincerely a frum ma'amin, halachah is quite plastic" Or iow the problem with Cs playing with Halacha is their lack of emunah in the ikkarim, But Os armed with a solid emunah would comply and any valid interpretation is still Halachic [iow there is no Orthopraxy].

For many years I have been advocating a converse position: Namely:
So long as one is Orthopractic and accepts a minimal set of Emunah Axioms, then belief is quite flexible

This is largely similar to the late Professors Feldblum's defense to me one-on-one on his methodology:

So long as one is loyal to the Shulchan Aruch, one can use all the modern scientific methods to understand the original meaning of the Talmud and not worry that the new conclusions will undermine existing Halachic practice- just the theoretical Torah lishma will be changed.

It is my understanding that Rav David Weiss halivni is more-or-less of a like mind, that scientific method is about being intellectually honest and NOT about altering halachic praxis

It is quite clear to me that [after reading the bio of Rabbiner Hirsch] that RSR Hirsch would NOT buy any sort of cognitive dissonance and I would venture the GRA [and perhaps Rambam] would never accommodate this dichotomy between theory and practice. But I would venture that many WOULD. That would probably include not only many of the Hildesheimer and YU universe but also probably Tosafos and many others in Ashkenaz who lived with a divergence between text and mimetics. Sephardim and the Gra [and many yekkes] seem to find this untenable.

I think R. Berkovits had a point though. Halachah is SO far removed from its origins that some flexibility seems reasonable. Example, explain why does hag'alah require boiling nowadays when a dishwasher with soap will poseil any ta'am absorbed in any kasherable keili [kli cheres exempted]. I cannot give a solid halachic reason except inertia.

[As regarding ein mevatlin issur lchatchila lets' face it: if you are allowed to do hag'al in keilim why should it matter HOW?]

So even I - who is in a sense a polar opposite of R. Berkovits could concur on such an issue.

Kol Tuv / Best Regards,

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