Friday, November 26, 2010

A great comment on Rabbi Yair's Awful Response

Written by 'Jon". Found on R. Harry's Emes v'Emunah

a) The majority of noteworthy Rishonim hold against Rashi - on the minimalist side you have Rambam, Ramban, Ritva, Meiri, Tosafot, Hizkuni, Ibn Ezra, Rashbam, Radak, Seforno, Beit Yosef, Ramah. On the maximalist side you have Rashi, Maharsha (the exception that proves the rule of course) and Aharonim. It's not just that the minimalist position is more rational and compelling - it's also that among the Rishonim, the maximalist view was da'as yachid!

b) R. Hoffman simply makes things up. The video NEVER mocks the Avot, the Mitzvot, or R. Elyashiv, or even the maximalist view itself! It merely quotes R. Elyashiv, and mocks the way the yeshiva guy invokes him to end the discussion. It merely discusses something to do with the Avot and the mitzvot, and the maximalist view, and mocks a certain caricature of the *people* who maintain that view. Does that mean that it, implicitly, mocks Rashi? No - Rashi was never a yeshiva guy saying over a vort! In other words, I'm sure the assumption on the part of the maker of the video - even if he isn't frum - is that Rashi was a serious scholar who would have given serious answers to the questions, and even if they didn't make the view any more digestable, I'm sure the maker of the video, and the video itself, is maintaining a distinction between Rashi and "yeshiva guys."

c) What the hell does "if you're doing kiruv talk about the minimalist position" even mean??? What, tell the BT about the minimalist position so he thinks Talmidei Hakhamim are smart, then once we sucker him in, pull out the rug from under him with the information that his hashkafos are treif??? I know this isn't just from R. Hoffman but from a lot of kiruv people, but it's quite silly - and dangerous. The yeshivish community needs to start applying their tremendous abilities of critical and analytic thought to things besides mahlokos Rishonim in Bava Metzia immediately, or they're going to have a second Haskala on their - and our - hands.

4) the reason the view became so prevalent is easily explainable: Rashi is the only perush on Humash studied! The yeshivish yeshivot REALLY need to start reading perushim besides Rashi immediately, and stop imagining that anything he says has any more significance than the words of the Ramban, Ibn Ezra, Radak, Rashbam, Seforno, etc. If your only intake of Tanakh is Shnayim Mikra and the only perush you look at is Rashi, then you will have a severely limited view of the truth of Humash, any knowledge of Nakh, and vital hashkafic information - of course, if the only "hashkafic" works allowed into yeshivot are actually intellectual mussar works like Mesilat Yesharim, Derekh Hashem, Hovot Levavot, Mikhtav Me'Eliyahu and such - or has anyone met a yeshiva guy learning the Moreh Nevukhim or Abarbanel? - then you aren't going to get much information to begin with. Shas and Tosafot are important - indeed I think they're the most important - but even without spending more time on Humash and hashkafa, the yeshivish yeshivot need to expand their horizons.

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