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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776
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Crossing a Line

Yoram Hazony in a YouTube clip from Oct. 2012.

Yoram Hazony in a YouTube clip from Oct. 2012.
Photo Credit: YouTube

As I said, I’m sure that many of my friends on the left will be disappointed in me. But perhaps not all of them. Jewish philosopher, Dr. Yarom Hazony is by any definition a ‘lefty’. He is a founder of the Shalem Center and a champion of Dr. Eliezer Berkovits having re-published many of his works in addition to works of his own. He has recently written an article in Torah Musings about an experience he had at an Open Orthodox event that reinforces my views here. He too questions whether the theological direction in which they are going is indeed Orthodox.

Dr. Hazony attended that event one Friday evening. It took place at an Orthodox Shul that featured among other things a discussion of biblical scholarship. What was alarming to him was the overall unchallenged acceptance by all the presenters that evening of biblical scholarship – denying that anything in it is factual up to the book of Samuel. And the audience seemed to buying it. No one challenged anything they said save for one elderly individual who asked, “Don’t any of you believe that God gave the Torah to Moses at Sinai?”. He was immediately dispatched with the following comment by the moderator who said:

There are some people who think that they can tell God what he can and cannot do. There are some people who think they are so clever that they can know, on God’s behalf, whether he had to give the Torah to one person at one time, or whether he could have given the Torah gradually, in an unfolding fashion, over the course of many generations. And that’s the answer to that question. Next question.”

Dr. Hazony continues:

Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do to recreate the extraordinary degree of condescension, the sheer meanness, with which this answer was used to dismiss the old gentleman’s line of thought as illegitimate and not worthy of consideration.

That there was no Sinai moment and instead we have an unfolding revelation may be a subject worthy of discussion in Academic circles, says Dr. Hazony. Nonetheless I think he sums up the problem with it in the following statement:

But the fact that something has become a constant refrain in certain intellectual circles does not yet make it a good idea, much less a significant theological position. Perhaps I’ve missed something, but I have not yet seen a carefully constructed and systematically worked out version of an Orthodox Jewish theory of “unfolding revelation,” and I doubt that one exists.

I suppose this might actually make Dr. Hazony and Rabbi Perlow strange bedfellows. When both the right and the left have the same problems with a movement, I think it is time for that movement to have some serious re-thinking of just how far they want to push their theological envelope.

Harry Maryles

About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

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Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
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