Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Minchas Asher on Vaccinations

"A person is obligated to make sure he and his family are properly vaccinated." the opinion of HaRav Asher Weiss shlita.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

An Arbitrary Patchwork

Originally Posted on Sept. 1, '09:

Please do not point, in reply, to the current efforts to reform Judaism. There indeed, everything that does not harmonize with today's concepts of the destiny of man or the needs of the time is being pared away little by little. But its this not itself a step outside Judaism? Would it not be better, then, to adopt and implement these current concepts consistently, on their own, instead of tying them to ideas that are at variance with them which can only produce an arbitrary patchwork.("Benjamin", The Nineteen Letters, letter 1)

While Reform has become a distinct movement, the reform which Rav Hirsch zt"l dismisses still shows its head in our own communities.

While Orthopraxy is hard enough for me to understand, I find it even harder to understand the mindset of those who identify as believers yet seem un-deterred from rejecting any traditional belief which they find too hard to swallow. As long as the denial doesn't lead to the rejection of one of the principles of faith (or even if it does for many people) then it's fair game. Little thought is given as to whether one is left with a coherent religious philosophy when one is done.

In truth though, while the logic of this approach is dubious, it can serve as a powerful answer to the yetzer hara. One's evil inclination will try to attack one's resolve for learning Torah and doing mitzvos by asking "what if"? What if it's not true, what if you're wrong, etc? One should simply remind oneself of all those yidden who frequent Orthodox blogs which primarily discuss halachic and hashkafic topics yet when the topic comes up they don't really believe the Torah is from Sinai etc. Those people don't believe it is true, yet they still lehrn! Why shouldn't I, who only has fleeting doubts provoked by my yetzer hara, do likewise?

This illustrates the attraction of a Yid's neshamah to Torah. A Yid may have succumbed to heretical or erroneous beliefs c'v, but in the end he is happier at least maintaining an arbitrary patchwork than entirely abandoning Yiddishkeit.

*The Nineteen Letters translated by R. Joseph Elias, page 6.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tvunah: Slavery in the Torah

An interesting question and answer from HaRav Asher Weiss shlita via his interesting new project Tvunah:

Shalom Aleichem,

From a comparative standpoint the laws of the Torah regarding slavery (both those explicitly in the Torah sh’bichtav and those in the Torah shebaal peh) are superior to those of the other nations of the day and even those practiced in the United States less than two hundred years ago. Indeed the value placed on freedom in the Torah helped influence the modern world to prohibit the practice.

Nevertheless while I can understand why the Torah may not prohibit the practice outright (since we see from the Navi even the halachos that were given were not observed and ‘one who grasps too much grabs nothing’) yet I find it very difficult to understand why the Torah allows someone to own another person as personal property the way one would own a kli or a behamah (כי כספו הוא)?

Furthermore I find it difficult to understand why the emancipation of slaves (עבד כנעני) is prohibited, even if there are a variety of leniencies in this regard.

These ideas seem to be very difficult to reconcile with דעלך סני לחברך לא תעביד ? Does the Rav have any thoughts that can help me understand these issues?

The answer can be found here.