יום שני, ינואר 15, 2007
If we define "halakhah" by the Orthodox definition, then Reform Judaism is obviously not halakhic by that definition; if we line the denominations up on a scale from 1 to Orthodox, then of course Reform will come up short. If, on the contrary, we define "halakhah" as binding religious obligations, then all Reform views would agree that there is halakhah in Reform Judaism...
He then goes on to outline some of the key ways in which the Reform understanding of halakhah differs from that of the Orthodox and others. Key conclusions:
There is a concept called yeridat hadorot (descent of the generations) that informs Orthodox halakhah. The idea is that the Written and Oral Torah were revealed at some time in the past, and each successive generation is farther and farther from the original revelation... Since our generation is farther from revelation than previous generations, we are presumed to have less wisdom, and therefore we cannot supplant earlier halakhic decisions, but can only work within them...
Instead of yeridat hadorot, the operative principle [for Reform] is, in Isaac Newton's words, "standing on the shoulders of giants". By this understanding, we are greater in wisdom than previous generations, because our generation knows everything that they knew, plus everything that we have learned since then.
He has further thoughts on authority, autonomy, and the evolution of tradition.
One of my favorite lines is this:
We shouldn't assume that in the state of nature everyone is Orthodox, and that any difference from Orthodoxy requires justification.
It is a good read. (It is also posted a Jewschool, and the comment threads at both locations have some interesting amplifications and dissents.)
But I am glad you liked it!
But, then, I would never want readership and comment that uniformly agreed with me, so thanks for reading, and for your comments!
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