Saturday, 26 September 2009

Shabbos Elevators

The present issue in Israel regarding the use of Shabbos elevators is not really about Shabbos elevators but rather the issue is, again, the imposition of a monolithic vision of Torah. There has always been an extensive machloket regarding the use of Shabbos elevators with some poskim allowing their use and some forbidding it. The fact that some rabbis now come out with a declaration that they are assur is not really earth shattering -- but its the language that stands out, both in regard to those forbidding their use and some of those arguing that they are indeed permitted. From what I have seen, there is no presentation of the reality of machloket and that there may be divergent opinions on the subject.
It just seems that the overriding importance in the mind of so many is to maintain this fiction that there is a definite the halacha. This perspective changes the very essence of Torah. Its no longer about the mind and the significance of analysis and decision making in the manifestation of the Torah lifestyle. The reality is that the creation of a new type of Judaism is now being attempted, one that ultimately challenges the very value of Torah study even as it may declare that all males should be solely involved in this pursuit.
The answer is not in promoting Shabbos elevators, thereby challenging the monolithic cry. The answer is also not in passive tolerance of the divergent opinions. The answer is in respectful debate, thereby showing that indeed we must strive to reach the correct halachic view but that process is through confronting an issue in its roots of thought not through avoiding the essence of limud haTorah, halachic debate. Gadol halimud haba lidei ma'aseh.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

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