Response by Rabbi David Bigman and others to Elchanan Shilo

Elchanan Shilo’s piece garnered several responses. – teguvot
For the original post of Shilo- see here.

Rav David Bigman, RaM at Maaleh Gilboa stated his reservations as follows:

The problem presented in the article is important and the discussion is critical from a personal, religious and national perspectives. The older common halakhah is fading away before smaller individualized forms of halkhah to which people cannot relate. And we have to get beyond the all or nothing approach.

But Bigman completely disagrees with Shilo’s disregard of halakhah and his wanting to change the status of halakhah.
The religious Zionists who live in a wider society have presented it all or nothing. On the other hand, the totalizing society of Haredim when you observe them first hand don’t actually live according to the halakhah

Our poskim have lost a sense of normal life, work life, army life. They do not relate to the customs by which people arrange their lives and only view things through an ideal halakhic lens. (Bigman relates a story of yihud in an army situation.) We have lost the distinctions of Biblical law, rabbinic law, minhag yisrael, and custom. We need to allow different levels. We should not reject the halkhic norms but maybe seek a more intellectual reading of the sources. We need a more living and relevant halakhah.

We don’t need a new system. We need the new generation of rabbis who will be relevant. We need to train rabbis to confront the other and appreciate any connection to Judaism.

Some letters- praise Shilo. One letter written by a dat”lash, morid kipah said that he found the article just the help for clarifying his life. There was a screed by Dov Landau crediting Shilo with causing all evil in society -supporting the Clash of Civilizations, Post-Modernism, the breakdown of society, and uprooting any and all Torah values. (If he could he would have also credited him with the Asian Tsunami and all disastrous events in Gaza.)

Shilo’s Response to Rabbi Bigman

When you enter the halakhah one can soften the law only here and there and even then only a little bit. There is not as much flexibility in the law as you credit. And that ordinary people cannot wait for new generation of rabbis. Ordinary people work below without waiting for miracles from above.

PS If you are in Teaneck, ir hakodesh this Shabbat

Rabbi David Bigman will be at Davar on Shabbat June 4 & 5, 2010
8:15am schachrit, kiddush after laining, lecture #2, musaf
The Discrepancies in the Law of the First Born: Dealing with Biblical Criticism with Sincerity
7:15pm mincha, seudah shelishit, lecture #3, mariv, havdalah
Changes in the Procedure of Divorce: From Scripture to Talmud

3 responses to “Response by Rabbi David Bigman and others to Elchanan Shilo

  1. Do you have the original text of the back and forth between R’ Bigman and Shiloh? I tried looking through the Makor Rishon website, however I was not able to find it.

    • I will post it from a file. Let me know if you find the original URL
      Done. Let me know what you think of the two sides.

  2. In consideration of ordinary people working below I have to add that I don’t have much patience for anyone who spends more time focusing on mitzvot of the body than on social mitzvot and morality. I wish more hakhamim would spend as much time figuring out how to run a bank without charging ribit, or run a business without exploiting workers, or treating those who are not men, not dati or not Jewish as human beings as they do in mitzvot of the body, or why it is important to separate tsimukum and egozim. This later example is taken from a lecture I actually heard in Hebrew by a rabbi to an audience of Jewish women, some religious, others not, in Jerusalem in the 1980s. The topic was “Women in Judaism”. Given the state of the world today, I have to admit I have no patience with this pilpul.

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