web analytics
September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



The Shafran/Berman Exchange

On several occasions, we have taken Rabbi Saul Berman to task over the distinctively secularist bent of his organization called EDAH, which bills itself as the intellectual engine of
Modern Orthodoxy. Thus, when he convened an EDAH conference two years ago, purportedly to do no less than chart the future course of the Jewish community, it was driven by social scientists of various disciplines, such as political scientists, sociologists and political and social activists. It seemed to us at the time, and we noted so editorially, that the time-honored notion that Judaism was an halachic and rabbinic enterprise, was just not reflected in the agenda or deliberations. In a letter last week in The Jewish Week, responding to Agudah’s Rabbi Avi Shafran’s article on Da’at Torah, Rabbi Berman carried this secularist bent further, but also went well beyond the pale in his remarks.

In his article, Shafran defined Da’at Torah as follows:

What Da’at Torah means, simply, is that those most imbued with Torah knowledge and who have internalized a large degree of the perfection of values and refinement of character that the Torah idealizes, are thereby rendered particularly, indeed, extraordinarily, qualified to offer an
authentic Jewish perspective of matters of import to Jews….”

Shafran then challenged Berman. First he noted that, 
 
At a recent conference, Rabbi Saul Berman, director of the modern Orthodox group EDAH, recounted how encounters with Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveichik had left him with the impression that the elder rabbi made a distinction between religious matters, where “his authority on halacha was binding,” and political or social matters, where they were not.”

He then attempted to link Rabbi Soloveichik, zt”l, considered the religious and intellectual inspiration for Modern Orthodoxy, with the notion of Da’at Torah by referring to some
comments he made:

“The very same priest whose mind was suffused with the holiness of the Torah of Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Eliezer, of Abaye and Rava, of the Rambam and Ravad, of the Beit Yosef and the Rama, could also discern with the holy spirit the solution to all current political questions, to all worldly matters, to all ongoing current demands.

Not to be trumped, Berman responded:

…Rabbi Shafran quotes a translation of a journalistic report of an impassioned eulogy offered by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveichik, of blessed memory, at a convention of Agudath Israel of America in 1940, in support of a broad concept of rabbinic authority in non-halachic matters. A few years later, Rabbi Soloveitchik left the anti-Zionist Agudath Israel, and from 1946 until his death in 1993 served as the honorary president of Mizrachi, Religious Zionists of America.

Perhaps his defection from Agudath Israel to Mizrachi was in consequence of his realization that the Da’at Torah of European Agudah leaders, to remain in Europe and to oppose the creation of a Jewish state, was disastrously erroneous.

Perhaps? How dare Rabbi Berman be so free and easy about attributing motives to someone of the stature of Rav Soloveichik? To say nothing about so cavalierly defaming such luminaries as the Brisker Rav and the Chafetz Chaim among others? Moreover, it is well known that Rav Soloveichik venerated the Brisker Rav, who was his grandfather! This reminds us of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein’s rebuke of Rabbi Berman several years ago in the pages of The Jewish Press following Rabbi Berman’s erroneously attributing certain views to Rav Lichtenstein, favoring certain compromises on the conversion issue in Israel.

Sadly, it also brings to mind the problem of the seeming continuing obsession of Rabbi Shafran to appear in the pages of The Jewish Week. Does he really think that the essentially secular readership of that publication will be swayed by his perforce summary assertions about so profound a concept, which also runs counter to their outlook on life? Does he not realize that
such efforts only invite the kind of unhelpful confrontations such as Rabbi Berman’s?

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Shafran/Berman Exchange”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
ISIS executioner holding British aid worker Alan Henning as a hostage.
Muslims Plead with ISIS for Life of UK Aid Worker Alan Henning
Latest Indepth Stories
IDF lone soldier and  David Menachem Gordon (z"l).

Why has his death been treated by some as an invitation for an emotional “autopsy”?

Starck-091914

SWOT analysis: Assessing resources, internal Strengths&Weaknesses; external Opportunities&Threats.

Kohn-091914

Strategy? For the longest time Obama couldn’t be bothered to have one against a sworn enemy.

Miller-091914

Seventeen visual skills are needed for success in school, sports, and everyday life.

We started The Jewish Press. Arnie was an integral part of the paper.

Fear alone is substantial; without fusing it to beauty, fear doesn’t reach its highest potential.

Fortunate are we to have Rosh Hashanah for repentance, a shofar to awaken heavenly mercy.

Arab leaders who want the US to stop Islamic State are afraid of being dubbed traitors and US agents

National Lawyers Guild:Sworn enemy of Israel & the legal arm of Palestinian terrorism since the ’70s

A little less than 10 percent of eligible Democratic voters came out on primary day, which translates into Mr. Cuomo having received the support of 6.2 percent of registered Democrats.

The reality, though, is that the Israeli “war crimes” scenario will likely be played out among highly partisan UN agencies, NGOs, and perhaps even the International Criminal Court.

Peace or the lack of it between Israel and the Palestinians matters not one whit when it comes to the long-term agenda of ISIS and other Islamists, nor does it affect any of the long-running inter-Arab conflicts and wars.

Rather than serving as a deterrent against terrorist attacks, Israel’s military strength and capabilities are instead looked at as an unfair advantage in the asymmetrical war in which it finds itself.

Sisi:”The religious nature of the Middle East creates challenges for the governing authorities.”

More Articles from Editorial Board

A little less than 10 percent of eligible Democratic voters came out on primary day, which translates into Mr. Cuomo having received the support of 6.2 percent of registered Democrats.

The reality, though, is that the Israeli “war crimes” scenario will likely be played out among highly partisan UN agencies, NGOs, and perhaps even the International Criminal Court.

Peace or the lack of it between Israel and the Palestinians matters not one whit when it comes to the long-term agenda of ISIS and other Islamists, nor does it affect any of the long-running inter-Arab conflicts and wars.

His many articles on education showed great insight into the problems facing Jewish teachers in a changing student environment.

We cannot forget Secretary Kerry’s obsessive and relentless focus on the Middle East peace process.

The Jewish Press endorses Governor Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic Party gubernatorial primary election.

Reportedly, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have formed a bloc that seeks to counter Islamist influence in the Middle East.

One wonders how the IDF could be expected to so quickly determine the facts.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/the-shafranberman-exchange/2003/05/02/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: