Saturday, 4 June 2011

Mussar: On a Different Form of "Texting"

Originally posted 6/4/11, 9:53 pm. Second link no longer works.
From R Micha. Berger - esteemed moderator of the Avodah List
First see this.
" This brings up the meta-issue of how halakhah works. And therefore gives me an opening to re-post what I wrote on the 5 Towns Jewish Times site and RDE's blog.
Rabbi Yair Hoffman writes on 5TJT
which opens:
So what do you do when you open up the newspaper and find two diametrically opposed Kashrus rulings and letters from leading Poskim? The newspaper was Wednesday's issue of the HaModiah and the two ads appear on pages D5 and D14 respectively.
That paragraph frankly scared me.
What a sad comment on the fall of normative halachic process! We apparently have gotten so used to deciding things for ourselves based on English popularizations of the halakhah that the obvious answer is missing. You aren't supposed to decide halakhah from letters in the newspaper. Halakhah is detemined by consensus, not majority. You don't need to find
the one true halakhah -- if there are still conflicting letters from gedolei haposeqim, there isn't one. (And even that's unclear, one of the signatores is also on record refusing to pasqen about anasakis.) So what do you do?
Go to your own poseiq! Yes, that's right, Judaism is supposed to be based on a personal relationship with one's mentor. You get a pesaq from someone whose path in Torah observance is similar to yours, who you know, and who knows you well enough to know where you are holding and what you're capable of.
Pesaqim in newspapers? It just doesn't work that way. The ads have value, informing LORs that there is an issue to research. But you can't decide halakhah for yourself from newspaper ads!
We have become neo-Karaites, we turn to texts. No concept of the value of shimush rabbanim -- the quality that recommended Yehoshua as Moshe's successor and the loss of which created such doubt and confusion in the days of Batei Hillel veShammai. Judaism is supposed to be a living tradition; Oral Torah is after all, oral. "Asei lekha rav"!
Tir'u baTov!

RRW comments:
I have even found such people that have told me that they would trust what's written in a sefer of R Moshe over what R Moshe said to them in person!
Sometimes I wonder if these people really want to do away with Rabbis and Communities and live on a desert island and have a Shas or Shulchan Aruch parachuted from Heaven and call THAT Torah sheb'al Peh!
Well, said R Berger



MIghty Garnel Ironheart said...

Lots of Artscroll and Feldheim books have the line "In cases of actual halachic questions, go ask your Rabbi instead of relying on this book". People pay as much attention to it as the warning about risks to health on packs of cigarettes.
If cigarettes are so dangerous, why are they for sale?
If I'm not supposed to be independent in my halachic decision making process, why are they selling me books in easy-to-ready English on the subject?

Rabbi R Wolpoe said...

Halachic books ideally address simple cases

They are intended to make for a more informed consumer

When I studies for Semicha, our YD taught us that mostly we'd learn how to frame a good question

She'eilat hacham hatzi Teshuvah Hee

The fact that people abuse disclaimers is a fact of life. Adam and Chavaa ate from the ONE tree G-d told them not to. It's human nature. But why blame the tree?

Also some people learn Torah lishma. Learning Halachah usually can help a person make sense out of what is being done by the Community and give a person some perspective. Nishma takes that basic knowledge base further by encouraging introspection ...