The ideology behind halakhic ideology

letter-447577_1280

21 bKislev

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].

Shira Schmidt

Shira Leibowitz Schmidt was raised in an assimilated Jewish home in New York, and became observant while studying at Stanford University in California. In June 1967 she told her engineering school professor she would miss the final exam because she was going to Israel to volunteer during the Six Day War. “That’s the most original excuse I have ever been offered,” he responded. She arrived during the war and stayed, receiving her BSc in absentia. She subsequently met and married the late Elhanan Leibowitz, and they raised their six children in Beersheba. Mrs. Leibowitz acquired a Masters in Urban & Regional Planning from the Technion, and an MSc in Civil Engineering from University of Waterloo. Today she lives with her husband, Dr. Baruch Schmidt, in Netanya. She is on the board of the Charedi College of Jerusalem. She co-authored, with Nobel prize-winning chemist Roald Hoffmann, Old Wine New Flasks. She has co-translated from Hebrew to English (with Jessica Setbon) From the Depths (the autobiography of Rabbi Israel Meir Lau); The Forgotten Memoirs (memoirs of Rabbis who survved the Shoah, edited by Esther Farbstein); and Rest of the Dove (Parashat Hashavua by Rabbi Haim Sabato). She s available to lecture in Israel and in the US.

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5 Responses

  1. Steve Brizel says:

    WADR, this is an academic conference. It is not radical to state that it is very doubtful that a Birkas HaTorah can be recited over such proceedings as if the same was a cheftza shel Torah.

  2. shmuel says:

    Its sort of like the old chicken and the egg question. Which came first the halachah or the hashkafa?

  3. HILLEL says:

    I suggest you join the list of speakers. Your topic can be “Halacha for Halacha’s sake.”

  4. Bob Miller says:

    Shira Schmidt said, “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…”

    Shira might get answers by sending the advance program of this conference to the haredim on her list with a letter/questionnaire to get their reactions to the subject matter and other details, and their indications as to what, if any, changes in focus, subject matter, balance of viewpoints, etc., could increase their level of interest.

    I suspect that most or all would rather avoid any meeting of this type that is not organized by the haredi sector.

  5. joel rich says:

    I wonder if they invited any active poskim (which they may have) would they attend and contribute?
    KT