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

Inter-faith Dialogue & Exploration

Rav Aharon Lichtenstein: Studying Idolatry

“Study of the former [viz., idolatry (Editor)] is proscribed by the pasuk in Leviticus (19:4): ‘Turn ye not unto the idols,’ and a later analogue in Deuteronomy (12:30): ‘And that thou inquire not after their gods, saying: “How used these nations to serve their gods? Even so will I do likewise.”’…With respect to idolatry, the Rambam states categorically that perusal per se is forbidden, evidently irrespective of the result or the concomitant disposition…[In Sefer HaMitzvot, Neg. Comm. #10,] he speaks expansively of the injunction against dealing with all forms of idolatrous material (ideology, lore, art)…”
see Torah and General Culture: Confluence and Conflict in Judaism’s Encounter With Other Cultures, pp. 279-280

Rav Aharon Lichtenstein: The Rav, Zatzal, on Inter-faith Dialogue

Rav Lichtenstein writes:

"I refer, of course, to the Rav's adamant stand against Jewish-Christian theological dialogue...[T]he policy he enunciated--assent to dialogue about moral or social issues but rejection of discussions of faith and dogma--has stood the Orthodox community in good stead."
from his article in Tradition 30:4 (Summer 1996)

Dialogue with Notzrim

May one dialogue with Notzrim about their religion?

This would appear to be a violation of the Rambam in Hilchos Avoda Zara 2:2-3 as well as 2 teshuvos from HaGaon Rav Moshe Feinstein, Zatzal (Igros Moshe, Yoreh Deah 2:53 & 111). [Rav Moshe only permits the exploration of Avoda Zara to Gedolim who need to answer a shaila. On the other hand, he does allow one to teach ancient myths to students if it's taught Derech Bizui, e.g., "here's a foolish notion they had..."] The first relevant verse, “Do not turn to idols” (Vayikra/Leviticus 19:4) is interpreted by Rashi (Shabbat 149/a, c.v. El MiDa’at’chem) as an interdiction against ANY partaking of man-made culture, but the Magen Avrohom (Orach Chaim 307, #23) states that in common practice, it is limited to the culture of Avoda Zara.

Rav Moshe, Zatzal, on Being Melameid Torah L'Nochrim

Rav Moshe, Zatzal, wrote the following about being Melameid Torah L'Nochrim:

**It is explicit in the Gemara in Chagigah 13/A that it is Ossur
**Tosafos there states that it involves an Issur D'Oraysa of Lifnei Iveir
**It's clear ["Barur"] that it's Ossur to be Melameid Torah to Nochrim
**The Issur only applies when the intention is to be Melameid to the Nochri--not if it happens as an unintended result of being Melameid L'B'nei Brit (e.g., an Orai'ach Nochri HaYosheiv at the Seder)
**The Issur includes Gemara--although there is a way to argue that it does not apply to Tanach
[See Igros Moshe, Yoreh Deah 2:132 & Yoreh Deah 3:89-90 ]

The Rav, Zatzal: Inter-Faith Dialogue

excerpted from his article, "Confrontation," and posted at http://www.bc.edu/research/cjl/meta-elements/texts/cjrelations/resources/articles/soloveitchik/
originally published in Tradition 6:2

"In light of this analysis, it would be reasonable to state that in any confrontation [between the Jewish community and the majority culture,] we must insist upon four basic conditions in order to safeguard our individuality and freedom of action...Second, the logos, the word, in which the multifarious religious experience is expressed does not lend itself to standardization or universalization. The word of faith reflects the intimate, the private, the paradoxically inexpressible cravings of the individual for and his linking up with his Maker. It reflects the numinous character and the strangeness of the act of faith of a particular community which is totally incomprehensible to the man of a different faith community. Hence, it is important that the religious or theological logos should not be employed as the medium of communication between two faith communities whose modes of expression are as unique as their apocalyptic experiences. The confrontation should occur not at a theological but at a mundane human level. There, all of us speak the universal language of modern man."