Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A little more in defense of Rabbi Kanefsky

Here are the words that invited the right wing rabbis and bloggers to reach for their pitchforks and go on the march against Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky of Los Angeles:
I suspect, at this point in history, that [saying the shelo asani isha blessing] constitutes a Desecration of the Name, God forbid. In time-honored rabbinic tradition, “better to sit and not do”.
I've already said why I disagree with Rabbi Kanefsky. The blessing is universally given a harmless interpretation; when praying, the way we read the words today matters more than what the original authors had in mind. Also, you won't rid Orthodox Judaism of its de facto discrimination against women by striking these words from the prayer books. Minds that don't give the blessing a misogynistic reading won't be changed if the blessing disappears.

But its worth acknowledging that Rabbi Kanefsky does have a rather obvious line of defense against those who use tradition as a veto.

Rabbi Kanefsky's critics claim that a blessing endorsed by the Talmud can't possibly be a Desecration -- after all its in the Talmud! -  but a little light thinking shows the folly of this argument. Keeping slaves and beating wives are both endorsed by the Talmud, but can anyone doubt that a Desecration would result were Jews to endorse either practice today?

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