What is the ideology behind a conference titled:Halakhah and Ideology?
It looks like it will tilt in the direction of suggesting that most halakhic decisions are ideologically motivated. But I will withhold judgment until I hear some of the sessions that will take place in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 21-23 bKislev (Dec. 12-14) at the Van Leer Institute.[the list of lectures is in Hebrew and English].
It is an academic conference, not many rabbis or halakhists will be speaking. I wonder if they attempted to invite any active poskim. From the titles of some of the sessions, it seems there will be a number of lectures questioning whether what is considered halakhah is not an ideologically driven position. Typical is an opening lecture by David Landes in English with the intriguing title, “The Vision of a ‘Non-Ideological Halakhah’ in the Grip of Ideology” and Shalom Rosenberg, “Implicit Ideology in the Disputes of the Sages.” On Tuesday David Sorotzkin will speak on “The Satmar Rebbe: Reconstruction and Deconstruction of the Halakhah as an Ideological Tool” .
The Orthodox feminist Dr Gili Zivan will speak on “What Remains of Halakhic Discourse when it is Recruited for Ideological Goals?” I am puzzled because Gili pushed through a women’s aliyot mehitza minyan at her religious kibbutz over the objections of the kibbutz rabbi. I wonder if that isn’t halakhic discourse recruited for ideological goals?
The issue of such “shira hadasha” women’s aliyot in Orthodox minyanim will be given a whole evening. The organizers are to be commended for balancing the panel, with Prof. Eliav Shochetman who has written a kuntres against this innovation, and R Mendel Shapiro who wrote an Edah article promoting women’s “qeri’at ha-Torah” [sic]
R. Dr. Dov Frimer, a traditionalist known for his 100-page article with his brother on Women’s Prayer Services in Tradition (Winter 1998) will also be on that panel.
There will probably be few, if any , haredim at the conference, although I would happy to be wrong. I wonder whether the minimal visibility of haredim at such venues is due to the organizers not making an effort to invite people to the “right” of themselves, or to the reluctance of haredim to participate. I have compiled a list of a few dozen haredim in academia and in public discourse who could be presenters, moderators, respondents, or panelists in such conferences (available from me on request).
I couldn’t help chuckle when I noticed that there will be a lecture on R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ztz”l at a session titled “Messianism and Anti-Messianism in Halakhah” given by none other than…. Amir Mashiach[no kidding].