Einei HaEdah

A collection of sources to help those who don't want to buy into myths about Modern Orthodoxy, religious anti-Zionism, and other matters. NOTE: This is more of a database than a blog. NOTE #2: I refer to HaRabbanim HaGaonim Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Yosef Dov HaLevi Soloveitchik, and Rav Ahron HaLevi Soloveichik, Zichronam L'V'rachah, as "Rav Moshe, "the Rav," and "Rav Ahron."

Monday, October 16, 2006

Academic Jewish Studies

Rav David Feinstein: Academic Talmud Study

I heard from Rav David Feinstein that the Gra never changed a peshat in the Gemara without a manuscript that contained that change.

Rav Ahron, Zatzal: Academic Jewish Studies

“A professor who taught Bible in a college once came to my father, of blessed memory, to ask whether the opinions of Bible critics, with his personal refutation, of course, could be source material. My father said, ‘No.’”

“The Rif explains ‘foreign subject matter’ ["seforim chitzonim"-editor] to include commentaries which interpret the Tanach without the oral tradition of Chazal. The Rif says that ‘afilu d’varim tovim shebahem,’ even the proper ideas found in such volumes, may not be read. At first glance, my father’s response would appear to contradict the dictum, ‘Accept the truth from anyone who utters it.’”

“The intention of the Rif in forbidding ‘even the proper ideas of the writings of the heretics’ is with regard to those apikorsim whose endeavor is to undermine the k’dushas haTorah, the holiness of the Torah…Bible and Talmud critics, whose goal by definition is to undermine the k’dushas haTorah, must be ignored…The untruths within such discourse often appear as emes, truth, in deceptive and misleading fashion…As my father explained, the danger of ‘foreign books’ is the writing which appears salutary on one side, but whose essence is the evil side.” [Hence, there is no uttered truth to accept from them.-Editor]
from Logic of the Heart, Logic of the Mind pp.45-47

I also heard Rav Ahron say in a [tape of a] his first Torah U-Madda shiur [c.1986] that, unlike most negative phenomena in the world, Bible criticism and Talmud criticism have no Nitzotzos of Kedusha.

The Rav, Zatzal: Academic Jewish Studies

In his Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik as Posek of Post-Modern Orthodoxy, in Tradition 29:1 (Fall 1994), Rav Dr. Walter Wurzburger wrote:

The Rav, Zatzal, "object[ed] to the employment of modern historic and textual scholarship to ascertain the meaning of halakha...[T]he Rav completely ignores Bible criticism and eschews the 'positive historical' approach of the 'Science of Judaism.'"

In a shiur, Rav Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff gave over his understanding of the Rav’s, Zatzal, approach to academic Talmud study:

"When it comes to re-creating the Gemara and pasting it up, there I think the Rav was very upset, and he took the point of view [that] it's idiocy to think that we know more than the Noda B'Yehuda, than the Ch'tam Sofer [using these methods]."

The shiur is posted at http://www.yutorah.org/showShiur.cfm?shiurID=709756 and this section starts at around 17 minutes in.

This is a description of the Rav's approach to "new texts" from Rav Hershel Reichman.
The Rav: My Rebbe
An essay on the derekh halimud of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik

Posted: 11/6/06
"One point that was crucial to the Rav in his studies, was that his emunat chachamim was absolute. His colleagues - the chachmei hamesorah - would not deceive him. They were totally reliable and dedicated to accuracy and truth. Therefore, he was very critical of newly surfaced variant texts and manuscripts. I heard him often say, 'If the chachmei hamoesorah did not have this text, then it's probably wrong.'"