Tag: Law

Current Jewish Questions

The Halakhic Process

YUTOPIA's 10 Year Anniversary SpecialOne of the main characters of the movie Footnote is a scholar whose most eminent academic accomplishment was a single complimentary footnote in his teacher’s work. Such recognition indicates that not only has a master in a field read your work, but found your contribution significant enough to disseminate to his larger audience. Aside from earning one’s PhD, this can be the academic equivalent of “getting made.”

The closest I’ve experienced this feeling myself was when I shared a graduate school paper on Ramban / Nachmanides (1194–c. 1270) with my father’s teacher Haham Jose / Yosef Faur in his Netanya house in 2002. In particular, I remember his elated reaction at my discovery that Ramban’s commentary on Deuteronomy 17:11 is nearly identical to the Early Church Father Tertullian’s (c. 160–c. 225 AD) justification of priestly authority. Haham Faur referenced this discovery in his article Anti-Maimonidean Demons p. 28 note 110 in his Horizontal Society (vol 2. p. 188).

I rediscovered the original paper among the same pile of documents as my father’s letter of resignation. I believe I kept the original copy of this paper due to the comments I received from Professor David Berger, which made an indelible impression on me:

This is a very intelligent, well written, vigorously argued but unconvincing, tendentious, one-sided, arbitrary, even biased argument. The suggestion that N.[achmanides] invented a tradition so that he could exercise authority i.e. that he did not believe that there was a Kabbalistic tradition that he had studied is unsupport[ed] and even offensive. I will assign a good grade to this paper because of its stimulating qualities, but what they stimulated in me was a combination of fascination and anger.

Despite Dr. Berger’s personal objections, he gave this paper an A-. There is also much more to be said in comparing Dr. Berger’s affinity towards Ramban and his criticisms of Chabad, but that is for another time. 1

Unsurprisingly, the paper itself could stand to use some editing and a few more revisions. Aside from the typos which should be expected at this point, I can see in hindsight imprecise language if not poor word choices. I suppose one reason to pursue advanced education is precisely to improve such skills. At any rate, for those interested in the subject or Hassidim of Haham Faur who are compelled to collect all related data, I am embedding the paper itself, complete with original typos, mistakes, and comments.

And in case anyone is wondering, despite this being a Revel paper, I did in fact submit the paper on time.

  1. Haham Faur was a fan of Dr. Berger’s book on Chabad, though in discussing my paper he said, “if he is a fan of Ramban, then his book makes no sense.”

YUTOPIA's 10th Year Anniversary

Current Jewish Questions

The Halakhic Process

The Halakhic Process

Fundamentals of Judaism Jewish Law / Halakha Jewish Thought, Theology, and Machshava The Halakhic Process

On May 23 2011 several prominent Orthodox Jewish organizations issued a joint statement declaring their opposition to legalizing same sex-marriage. The brief statement is as follows:

On the issue of legalizing same-sex marriage, the Orthodox Jewish world speaks with one voice, loud and clear:

We oppose the redefinition of the bedrock relationship of the human family.

The Torah, which forbids homosexual activity, sanctions only the union of a man and a woman in matrimony. While we do not seek to impose our religious principles on others, we believe the institution of marriage is central to the formation of a healthy society and the raising of children. It is our sincere conviction that discarding the historical definition of marriage would be detrimental to society.

Moreover, we are deeply concerned that, should any such redefinition occur, members of traditional communities like ours will incur moral opprobrium and may risk legal sanction if they refuse to transgress their beliefs. That prospect is chilling, and should be unacceptable to all people of good will on both sides of this debate.

The integrity of marriage in its traditional form must be preserved.

This statement was issued not only by Orthodox institutions considered “right-of center” such as Agudath Israel of America or National Council of Young Israel, but also by more moderate Orthodox organizations such as the Orthodox Union (OU) and the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA).1 Unlike most religious proclamations which are directed towards specific religious communities, this joint statement advocates a political position – though based on religious principles – to the secular world beyond the normal scope of religious influence. To be sure, this joint statement is hardly the first time rabbinic organizations have issued political statements. Across all major denominations, the Orthodox RCA, Conservative Rabbinical Assembly, and Reform Central Conference of American Rabbis have all passed resolutions advocating public polices exemplifying their respective religious beliefs, with few (if any) complaining about the separation of church and state.

But due to the inherent subjective moral arguments against same-sex marriage, I argue that Jews – especially the Orthodox – would be better served in not opposing its legalization.

Jewish Culture Law News & Events Politics Religion

In the Spring Semester of 2011 I had the honor of addressing the NYU Jewish Law Students Association for a weekly series covering Economics and Social Justice in Jewish Law. Below are the links to the specific lectures in the order given with audio and PDF source sheets available. As always, comments are welcome. If there is interest in me delivering any of these lectures or the entire series in person, please contact me directly.

Economics and Social Justice in Jewish Law Jewish Law / Halakha Jewish Thought, Theology, and Machshava Lectures Podcasts Sermons, Lectures, and Divrei Torah

Jewish Law / Halakha Jewish Thought, Theology, and Machshava