Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Michael Jackson Method of Halachic Discourse

A few weeks ago, I had a post about the new eruv in Flatbush. I was curious to see where it would go. Well, today I found out.

Apparently there was a great response by the right-wing religious establishment.

Let me recap what happened. There is a new eruv in Flatbush. Because of an old ruling by Moses Feinstein (who people took quite seriously) there could be no kosher eruv in Flatbush. So now, someone took it upon themselves to produce a booklet explaining why the ruling was mistaken, why Feinstein's logic would be different given the actual facts (which Feinstein apparently got wrong), and why we should accept the new eruv.

Naturally this was going to be controversial. The eruv was controversial in Boro Park, and other parts of New York, but this was really controversial because of the weight that Feinstein carries.

The Right wing leaders felt the need to respond. And respond they did. They put out a three page glossy set of pictures of themselves. I am not making this up. They had a full spread of pictures of 10 people all who looked like a cross between Khomeini and bin Laden with little captions beneath their pictures saying things like "don't descrate the sabbath" and other dumb stuff.

I felt embarassed for my people. Apparenlty they felt that the way to respond to a halachic challenge is to give out pictures of themselves. Mine were not autographed. What kind of bullshit is this? Suddenly Orthodox Jews are too stupid to have a debate about a halacha?

Throughout Jewish history, when there was a halachic or hashkafic issue, each side would put forth their best man and each would write a book. They would battle it out in a real forum where scholars and laypeople would judge a case on its merits. Now the establishment sends out pictures?!?

This is insulting. This is how celebreties win favor, they just put their pictures out there, get on TV and sign some autographs. This is what Orthodox Judaism just became. This is sad and pathetic - proof by abundance of facial hair.

I do not remember who the 10 people on the list were. I remember that Dovid Feinstein, the son of Moses Feinstein was one of them. I've met him one many many years ago, and I know many people who know him fairly well. His father would cry if he knew what his son is making of Orthodox Jews. He is making them a nation of sheep, a nation of uncaring unthinking unreflective people who go for the glossy pictures of bearded people over people who are genuinely concerned for halacha.

This is what das torah is now. Das torah is a big "trust us". Well, I don't. I trust a good psak. I trust a good reason, not a glossy picture.

What crap!


bec said...

having just stunned a (conservative) rabbi, possibly into email silence, my only advice is to question, and question, and question loudly. i just questioned this rabbi (he's a good guy and all) regarding what happens to halacha when it's misinterpreted (or, how is driving ever justified on shabbos???) and i'm eagerly awaiting his reply. i think it's all the same thing. people get very comfortable NOT questioning things and are eager to accept what any person with a title, a beard, a degree, etc, tells them. it's easier that way than thinking for yourself. i have problems with this as well. blind acceptance leads to the destruction of the jewish people.

Karl said...

There is not much to question. The mainsOrthodox establishment made an assumption: that Orthodox Jews would be very impressed with a few glossy poictures of other Orthodox Jews with large beards.

What is even sadder then them making that assumption is that the assumption is probably true.

Anonymous said...

Since when does a good psak have to do with anything? If well-reasoned arguments were actually driving halacha forward we would all be using the internet on shabos while drinking “non kosher” wine. The rabbis have an agenda. They use anything at their disposal to push it through. Just read Rav Moshe’s reasons for paskening that pot should be osur, to see that chalacha is the outcome of a preexisting agenda--not rational argument. I too though think that its sad that we aren’t even pretending to be rational anymore.

Anonymous said...

Please read posts by Shiah Director, on this web site, "Just Pasig Through", "E SEFER", "Back Row of the Beis", the picture boklet is a complete fraud. Those for eruvin in Brooklyn, can aso publish a picture book, with pictures of Rabbonim who support them. Many who have lectured, and published detailed literture, supporting euvin.But ,they publicize Torah, not pictures.

Anonymous said...

Holy Jewish children,attendng yeshvos of those in picture book, sent there to learn THE ALMIGHTY'S true Torah,are taught lies

Anonymous said...

Thank you for covering this. I’m still awed by the degree of bitterness and dispute over the eruv. I’ve linked to this post from a piece about making a small eruv in Flatbush. Take care.

AS said...

I feel sorry for you but that "glossy" pamphlet was given out to let others knw that many prominent rabbis who know a lot more about the halchos of eruvin than I either you or I, do not approve of it. It also served to shame those with little or no knowledge to think twice before using them. You are free to disagree with many prominent halachic authorities like Rabbi Feinstien or Rabbi Dovid Cohen ( who is the major halachic authority for all questions for hatzolah) or Rabbi Fievel cohen ( author of badei hashulchan) and many others.

Anonymous said...

Rav Dovid Cohen is not against eruvin. Additionally, a booklet that is purporting halachah should have a little more to say than just pictures.

Anonymous said...

Twenty five years ago, Sefer Eruv Vhotzah, about the eruv in Manhattan in 1908, was republished. Therein, is a detailred discussion, from five leading sages in that generation. Their ruling applies to Brooklyn as well. This book is available by writing P.O.B.786, Woodbourne, N Y 12788,and enclosing $5.00.
Published with this book is Sefer Tiv Yhoshuah, about eruv in Odessa Russia, in 1900.
Rav Briskin, author of this work states, when he was in the Holy City of Jerusalem, he showed his book to Torah scholars living there and to the great gaon Rav Chiam Berlin, rov of Moskow, who went there to live in his later years. They all praised his book and agreed with his ruling.
Rulings in aformentioned books apply to Brooklyn as well: and completely desolve any opposition to eruvin in Brooklyn.

went there to live in his later years.

Odessa Russia, in 1900

Anonymous said...

Last two lines of previous post is an error and should be omitted

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Stating Halacha wthout reasons, or discussion, uproots the basis of our holy TORAH.Every law in Talmud Bavli and Yerusharmi is discussed. Reshonim and Achronim also discuss their rulings.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Cult of students from Yeshiva Chiam Berlin, against the Flatbush Eruv, are not more educated than the undersigned. Thay are stupid because they cannot answer simple questions about eruvin in Brooklyn.No one has to assume they know what they are talking about. They are chronic liars. I can't believe they put out a picture book with open lies. My common sense tells me they never published such a book.