Friday, July 6, 2012

Witness A Great Posek at Work! Meta Halachik Elements of Psak

This is a great Teshuva.

In this Teshuva Rav Chaim David HaLevi offers advice on how a shul should deal with the existence of members who come from varied backgrounds and therefore have different liturgical customs. Rav HaLevi offers some interesting approaches as well a a fascinating ruling on wether or not Jews who only come to shul occasionally have the same rights as those who attend frequently.

But that is not why I love this teshuva. I love this tsshuva because at the end (see highlighted lines), Rav Halevi says that even though the group of regular attendees is correct in their demand to keep the liturgy as is, it should be changed for the Yamim Noraim (high holidays).
Apparently, the group that only attended periodically threatened to not come at all (even on RH and YK) unless the liturgy was changed to reflect their custom. In the interests of making sure those Jews remained connected to the shul, Rav HaLevi recommends a temporary change of custom!

Such an approach illustrates appropriate  use of what has become known as meta-halachik concerns. All the halachik evidence is in favor of the main group, but, nonetheless, Rav HaLevi recognizes that there is a larger issue and is willing to adopt a bi-dieved (non optimal) position (praying with liturgy that is not one's custom) in favor of maintaing the connection of the the marginally committed.

Follow this link to read the entire teshuva.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Conversion In Israel and In The Diaspora

Over the years there have been a few poskim who see the establishment of The State of Israel and subsequent Zionist achievements as a "game changer" in terms of how we understand halacha - at least on some level.

Rav Chaim David Halevi comes to mind in terms of his Piskei Halacha related to saying Nachem in 9 Av after the Six Day War and on the Halachot of redeeming Israeli soldiers held in captivity.

Rav Unterman's Psak related to Police work on Shabbat in The State of Israel is another example.

More on all of these at another time.

For now, I want to call your attention to an amazing psak from Rabbi Shlomo Goren.

Follow this link to learn how the Establishment of the State of Israel
Rabbi Shlomo Goren
on how Israel changes the notion of Kabbalat HaMitzvot. I have also included a few pages from a wonderful new book by David Ellenson and Daniel Gordis (I highly Recommend it) called Pledges of Allegiance: Conversion, Law, and Policymaking in Nineteenth - Twentieth -Century Orthodox Responsa.

Seeing Halacha this way is one of the clearest ways to show that Halacha is a living entity and that it can respond to changing historical circumstances.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Get A Haircut on Wednesday - Teshuvot For Yom Ha'atzmaut

A collection of Teshuvot from various poskim (Rav Yitzchak Nissim - see footnote 12, Rav Shlomo Goren, Rav Shlomo Aviner and Kolle Eretz Hemdah) all in favor of shaving and haircutting in honor of Yom Ha'aztmaut even though it falls out in the middle of Mourning persiod of Sefirat HaOmer.

The letter from Rav Goren is particularly interesting as it mentions the shaving issue in connection with larger discussion of how a mourner should behave with regards to Yom Ha'atzmaut. It also deals with the issue of what do do in the diaspora when Yom Ha'atzmaut is celebrated earlier becasue 5 Iyar falls on Shabbat or Friday. I think that most America communities do not follow Rav Goren on this one.