Monday, 8 August 2011

History Shmistory

Harry Maryles just posted on Emes V'Emuna criticizing Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky for refusing to say the bracha "Sh'lo Asani Isha" "Who did not make me a woman" - because nowadays such a bracha is a "chillul hashem".

Of course Chas v'shalom that anyone should change the halacha! It is written it shall be done!
 Harry even admits that this halacha bothers him yet refuses to do anything about it!

And he says such things as:

"It is one thing to question why Chazal instituted something or ask why it was instituted in a specific way – one which seems to contradict our modern day sensibilities. But to reject a mandate of Chazal as recoded in the Shulchan Aruch (OC 46:4) is more than just modifying tradition."

he also says

"It is one thing to not understand the reason Chazal enacted certain things..."

What do you mean "not understand"? What kind of silly rhetoric is this? There is no "question here"! It is more than clear why Chazal enacted this bracha. And I wish Harry would say it straight out. The reason Chazal instituted this bracha was simply becasue they were SEXIST. Say it like it is! None of these vague statements about "offending our modern sensibilities" and "questioning Chazal's reasons". Harry won't even say that one word which explains it all so well - SEXISM.

I don't blame Chazal for being sexist in a sexist world anymore than I blame them for not using antibiotics.

But the fact is that if you follow Chazal in such things you have to admit that you are a modern day man/woman following an antiquated sexist law code.

It is an utterly strange philosophy that would require us to OBEY laws which were clearly legislated in a sexist spirit. It is a symptom of the ridiculous anti-historicism which allows Orthodoxy to continue...

Wake up people! Halacha was not created in a vacuum! It was formed in very specific historical contexts! Treating it like it is some eternal unchanging LAW is the height of stupidity.


Chaynobody said...

Spot on, Shilty!
And may I add that it is absolutely clear that we DO NOT get our current moral code from the Torah - despite the adamant claims of the apologists.
This can be proven from this example: ALL streams of Orthodox Judaism consider child female marriage unacceptable. This is a clear right (zechus) that the Torah MD'Oraysah has unequivocally given to the father of an underage daughter - we have all learned those Gemaras in Kiddushin *at length*. There is no known source that has taken this right away at any point in history (correct me if I'm wrong). And yet, NO ONE today would even remotely think this is morally acceptable (with the obvious exception of extreme fringe cult groups who are rightly considered beyond the pale). Can all these people actually claim that this moral concept came from the Torah?!?
Many other examples can be given, but to me that one is the killer to any notion of morals coming from the Torah.

tesyaa said...

The Maryles post was bothersome on so many levels.  Good analysis.

Josh said...

"Treating it like it is some eternal unchanging LAW is the height of stupidity.

Not nearly as stupid as continuing to practice it in the full knowledge that it isn't.

MO said...

Rabbi Kanesfy committed two cardinal sins of Orthodoxy. 1) He attributed a halachic practice to historical mileau.  That's the sine qua non of haskalah[*]. 2) He advocated for a change in practice for intentional reasons.  You can only change when you don't realize and don't intend to change.

[*] See

Ben Sira said...

I don't think you can call chazal sexist, in the sense that the whole concept of discrimination and bias is very modern. I think you can define bias as treating someone differently based on a criteria we've determined to be illegal. For example, if you deny a job to a ten-year-old, you are comlying with child labor laws, but if you deny a job to a sixty-year-old, you are guilty of ageism. By contrast, the entire world until fifty years ago was predicated on treating people differently based on such criteria as age, gender, race, caste, and certainly religion and ethnicity. Our challenge is in extracting a meaningful message from times where almost anything people said would now be considered offensive.

Chazal were not being sexist with this bracha. They were just happy not to be female (and having seen natural childbirth, I can relate), and were just expressing this happiness in a society where expressing such a sentiment wouldn't get them slapped.

G*3 said...

Nu, I’m thankful I don’t bleed for a week every month.
On the other hand, I think I would have been much happier as a kid had I been a girl. No gemara classes, and school lets out at 4:30 instead of night seder ending at 9:30, followed by maariv.
The real question is on “sheasani kirtzono.” This bracha seems to be appropriate for everyone. Were men NOT created according to God’s will? Why do only women say it? At what point was it instituted, and why?

G*3 said...

That depends on WHY you continue to practice. If one practices out of some fealty to the law despite knowing it for what it is, then you’re right. But most people who are Orthoprax have reasons for practicing that have nothing to do with halacha.

Tayqoo said...

harry has a knack of twisting himself into pretzel.
anyone to the right of him is a fanatic and those to the left are heretics.
he doesn't see that though his stance is more modern it is based on the same need to believe as the fanatics.

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