Sunday, 23 January 2011

Results of Poll on: Parshanut - How Liberal may We Be?

In our last poll, we inquired:

New Poll: Parshanut - How Liberal may We Be?

How liberal may we be when we interpret the Tanach?

1) We must never deviate from the firm parameters of Hazal.
ex. As per Hazal, the statement "Vayaqem Moshe et haMishkan" MUST be taken literally as Hazal explained it -- i.e. that Moshe did it - as opposed to Moshe merely supervising it, even though there is no pragmatic difference in terms of our behaviour.

2) We may deviate from Hazal so long as we
A. do not do violence against any Halachic norms
B. do not transgress any Ikkarei Emunah
C. Do not present our Avot etc. in an unfavourable light
ex. While reading Vayakem as a statement of supervision would be okay, it would be inappropriate to demonize Yaakov as some kind of a "usurper" which is suggested in Non-Orthodox Circles.

3) We may deviate from Hazal so long as we
A. do not do violence against any Halachic norms
B. do not transgress any Ikkarei Emunah
Parameter C from Choice 2 is dropped.
ex. We must accept the story of Mattan Torah as is, but personalities are fair game

4) We may deviate from Hazal so long as we
A. do not do violence against any Halachic norms
Parameters B and C from Choice 2 are dropped.
ex. Since Hazal's understanding affects halacha, "Ayin Tachat Ayin" MUST be seen as monetary damages; Lex Talionis is out of bounds. However, Parshanut of Tanach need not comply with the Iqqarim as we have them now.

5. Parshanut allows total free thinking since it really has no impact on actual behaviour.

Which one do you choose?

Your Responses (total 4)
Choice 1 - 00% (0)
Choice 2 - 40% (2)
Choice 3 - 25% (1)
Choice 4 - 25% (1)
Choice 5 - 50% (2)

Rabbi Hecht
It would seem that all the respondents agree that, in non-halachic matters, we are not totally bound to the parameters on thought developed or presented by Chazal although there is some disagreement on what parameters we are bound by. Half even believe that as long as our ideas do not impact on actual behaviour, we also can even understand, in theory, the thought of a verse in a manner that disagrees with its practical halachic application. To a large extent, this really indicates that to Torah it is not "The Truth" that reigns supreme -- for in many ways Man cannot comprehend "The Truth" -- but rather the focus is on the ideas that Man develops through effort and correct thought. It is this spectrum of ideas that God wishes us to uncover and then use, as indicated by Halacha, in our lives. This makes Eilu v'Eilu not just a statement of tolerance but a reflection of the real knowledge that man must apply in life which is not The Truth but the variance of ideas that emerges from conscientious Torah study.

Rabbi Wolpoe
Agreed! The focus is the development of humanity at large - or the Nation of Israel in particular Whether on a Societal Level or on a personal level - any peirush that undermines one's emunah, middot, or observance must be questioned if not outrightly rejected.
However, given a highly committed audience, more latitude might be allowed because it may be deemed as harmless.
Thus, EG "Bashing Avot" might have the same parameters as "Maaseh B'reisheet" - namely only in private with a committed chaveir
However, publically publishing material that undermines Torah may be an abuse of Parshanut Liberties.
Kein Nireh Li


Mike said...

This is a really interesting discussion/poll. I have pondered this subject before and appreciate very much the added perspectives - Thank you.

Bob Miller said...

Good thing Moshe Rabbeinu did his job without polling.