Saturday, 12 June 2010

Traditonal Karasim and Neo Karaism II

Now for a slightly different Flavour of Neo-Karaism

Karaite Korner - Home of the World Karaite Movement!

«Karaism is the original form of Judaism as prescribed by God in the Torah. Karaite Judaism rejects later additions to the Tanach (Jewish Bible) such as the Rabbinic Oral Law and places the ultimate responsibility of interpreting the Bible on each individual. Karaism does not reject Biblical interpretation but rather holds every interpretation up to the same objective scrutiny regardless of its source»

Now for Neo-Karaism type II let's paraphrase the above:

«Neo-Karaism II is the sole proper form of Halachah as prescribed by God found in the Rambam's Mishnah Torah! Neo-Karaite II Judaism rejects later additions to the Talmud (Jewish Canon) such as Tosafot etc. and places the ultimate responsibility of interpreting the Talmud on the Rambam alone. Neo-Karaism II might not reject Various interpretations of the Rambam but rather holds every interpretation up to the same objective scrutiny regardless of its source»

And there you have Neo-Karaism II it in a nutshell



Mikewind Dale (Michael Makovi) said...

But what's wrong with Neo-Karaism? Our obligation is to follow the Oral Law as such, and not any particular interpretation of it by any particular rishonim.

According to the RambaMists and those similar to them, our obligation to obey the Oral Law is best fulfilled by following the Talmud itself alone. Of course, following the Talmud alone is difficult, so they resort to those rishonim they trust with the Talmud the most, viz. the Gaonim, the Rif, and the RambaM.

How can you fault them? Is it really heresy to follow the Talmud? Since when do we have an obligation to obey any particular rishonim? Remember that if we do have an obligation to obey rishonim as such, then you must decide which rishonim! If you say there's an obligation to obey Tosafot, then aren't Sephardim sinning? You cannot obligate someone to obey rishonim without specifying which rishonim. But the RambaMists circumvent this difficulty by positing a loyalty not to rishonim, but to the Talmud. Therefore, they only need to follow rishonim insofar as they explicate the Talmud for us. It's like following Rashi's commentary insofar as it correctly interprets the Humash, because your ultimate loyalty is to the Humash itself, not to Rashi's commentary.

Mikewind Dale (Michael Makovi) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rabbi R Wolpoe said...

How can you fault Karaites? Arent' they loyal to Tanach? And isn't tanach "holier" than Talmud

At any rate making Oral Law into a Text and then making that text rigid is "de-oralizing" it.

Samuel Goldwyn:
A verbal contract isn't worth the piece of paper it's written on [sic]

Similarly, Oral Law on Paper, isn't worth the paper it's written on. Oral text is like a living corpse or a solid gas. It's an oxymoron

If you ever read Yerushalmi you will see it's impossible to read as is. Bavli was better redacted and therefore friendlier.

To Neo Karaites I - The Talmudist - I hereby challenge them to take the Talmud as is w/o any rishonim and learn it, and master it and pasqen from it.

Or submit to the reality that they can't do it. A Vilna Gaon could, but he had an IQ of 200. Anyone less will fail


Mikewind Dale (Michael Makovi) said...

"At any rate making Oral Law into a Text and then making that text rigid is "de-oralizing" it."

Indeed. I very much follow Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Berkovits, and Rabbi David Bar-Haim (one of the "Neo-Karaites") told me that he does as well.

But it's one thing to read the Talmud (with the aid of rishonim to help explain its peshat), re-oralize it (like Rabbi Berkovits tried to), and then let halakhah further evolve on the grounds provided for by the Talmud itself. Rabbi Bar-Haim wants to make a Torat Eretz Yisrael as per Rav Kook, and Rav Kook himself, in his commentary on Bikkurim, said that when we returned to Israel, that the dry preserved fruit of galuti Judaism would return to the fresh and living Judaism of Eretz Yisrael. According to them, the halakhah can further evolve based on its own internal nature.

But it's something entirely else to follow Aharonim who, in the eyes of the Neo-Karaites, entirely pervert the Talmud altogether.

Professor Haim Kreisel, in his essay Interpreting Judah Halevi's Kuzari, tries to steer a middle-ground between fanciful post-modernist interpretation and rigid and desiccated originalism. If you're too originalistic, then you lose the life, and you kill the text. But if you're not originalist enough, then you commit idolatry and subvert someone else's opinion (in this case, G-d's and Hazal's) to uphold your own personal beliefs.

I believe the Neo-Karaites of the Talmud desire the same as Professor Kreisel. They don't want to slavishly obey the Talmud alone, and so they do use rishonim to explain the Talmud's peshat (Rabbi Bar-Haim prefers the RambaM, while others prefer the Gaonim), and they do want the halakhah to be de-textualized and re-oralized, as per Rabbis Kook and Berkovits. But they do not want to go off into the flights of fancy they perceive (rightly or wrongly) in the Aharonim.

Mikewind Dale (Michael Makovi) said...

I would say that ideally, a Modern Orthodox would be a Karaite of the re-oralized Oral Law. Politically, his ultimate loyalty would be to the Oral Law and Hazal as such, and not to any particular interpretation of those, except insofar as they are correct. This would be similar to how the Protestants are loyal to the Bible and not to the invented traditions of the Catholics. (I just finished reading William Tyndall's The Obedience of a Christen Man.) But they'd be loyal to the re-oralized Oral Law, so as to avoid Rabbi Berkovits's criticism of the Karaites of the Oral Law.

Mikewind Dale (Michael Makovi) said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.