Wednesday, April 02, 2014

I have read the whole of R' Meyer Twersky's argument against women wearing Tefillin. The Rav writes with passion, vigor and sustained excellence but far too much of what he says rests entirely on a particular premise that he never gets around to proving. 
This is a shame because I suspect that most of his readers, myself included, would be ecstatic to have such a proof.

Here's an example of what I mean
"Acceptance of Hakadosh Baruch Hu's Torah does not simply entail practical compliance. Acceptance also reflects firm belief and evinces a reverential attitude. We accept Torah with a sense of awe, joy, privilege and pride because we perceive it for what it is - Hashem's chochmo, perfect, upright, gladdening, enlightening, true, etc. Accordingly, we accept Torah with humility and submissiveness."
The premise here is that "Hashem's chochmo [which is] perfect, upright, gladdening, enlightening, true" and the contingent, earth-bound interpretations and applications of verses made by 21st century scholars are one and the same.  The Rav, one fears, is not asking us to blindly accept the Torah but to blindly accept the perspetives of his own particular cohort. 
Now the men who make up his cohort may be all scholars, all men of intelelctual attainment, all masters of the Torah, but they are not prophets. They are not incapable of error. They are not inseperable from the Torah itself. To deny this is not to disparage 21st century scholars, but to recognize their humanity, ad the shortcomings and limtations that come with it. The eyes of our generation are not infalliable. And we are not being disrespectful to them or to the Torah when we insist that their shortcomings and limitations must be counteracted with protective measures such as debate, discussion, democracy, and experimentation.

Read the whole thing here:

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