Thursday, December 22, 2005

More thoughts on the Orthodoxy test

I had a lot of difficulty taking it, for often I did not see what I felt was the correct response among the choices offered. Or I thought that the top and the bottom answer were both correct. Thus, it stands to reason that I was labelled "Huh?" and has approximately the average raw score for each label.

Some thoughts on individual questions:
1) Daas Torah is:

it depends here what you mean by Daat Torah. Because of the complexity of modern life, there are many aspects that would fall outside the specialty of certain talmidei chachamim. And it then falls on the talmidei chachamim to familiarize themselves with the issues. (Rava spending so much time studying eye defects of animals is an example.) At the same time, because of the complexity of modern life, there are many aspects that involve halachic and hashkafic issues, and so one certainly should incorporate halacha into it, which involves consulting with an expert. And unfortunately, many cannot determine when an issue requires an halachic/ hashkafic consultation. Torah has a de'ah on many subjects. Howeverly, someone dating should not go to a rabbi, tell the names, and ask "should I marry this girl or not," for it is the guy, not the rabbi who is dating the gal. But that is the extreme some take it to.
Further, exposure to Torah changes a person, and eventually talmidei chachamim become "Torah"-individuals and develop a Torah-influenced perspective on life. They channel Torah. And so, it is a good idea to consult with them to get a perspective which you may not possess yourself.
But no rabbi, even the greatest Rabbi, is infallible. This is true even for halachic statements. There is an idea of tzadikkim being protected from sin, but this did not even extend to Rabbi Zera. There is an idea of divine guidance for some in the sources, but this is not absolute. Error is decidedly possible.

So, among the answers:

an essential component of Orthodox Judaism

Certainly. Especially for some groups in Orthodox Judaism, it is an essential component. It may even be a good component.

important, but not necessarily binding

I would say - in many ways, a good idea. In personal matters, it is not binding as far as a halachic decision goes.

However, there is an idea of shimush of talmidei chachamim, and to develop a personal bond with a Rebbe, such that one develops a Torah-influenced personality, and so perhaps in such situations it should be binding.

based on a real concept of listening to rabbinc leadership but extended too far

Yes. That was my choice. People certainly extend it too far. The question is who is doing this extension.

something rabbis made up to maintain communal control

Probably true for some communities, when taken to an insane extent.

What's Daas Torah?

Good question.

Leave this question out of my results

2) The State of Israel is:
My answer: Reishit Tzmichat Geulateinu.
And many other things, before and after, are as well. This does not mean that as a result I am certain that Moshiach is coming tomorrow, or within the next five years. But this is without a doubt a step in the right direction.
Perhaps this is actually not Reishit Tzmichat Geulateinu, but rather in fact Geulateinu. After all, there is a statement of Chazal (though others disagree) that the only difference between now and Yemot HaMashiach is Shibud Malchuyot. Ben Gurion was the Moshiach. Or at least a much better candidate that some that others are promoting.

3) Higher secular education is: (and the answers are: assur/bad but necessary for parnossa...)

The question is, for whom??
For someone in Meah Shearim or New Square, it probably is not necessary, or even a good idea. For others: where do you plan on going? Yeshiva University? Queens College? Saint Johns?
Different environments will affect different people differently, depending on their mental capacities and personality. Sending someone with an attitude that everything his professor says is absolute truth to a university which tries to indoctrinate (and indoctrination most certainly happens in higher education), where he will develop radical left-wing views and believe that the Torah was typed (or redacted) by 1000 monkeys sitting in a room for a while after they had finished Shakespeare is probably not a good idea.
For someone who will excel in such an environment and become a better human being, and who knows how to take things with a grain of salt, higher education is most likely an excellent idea. Perhaps for some, one cannot become the best possible Jew without having a secular education.
In between - well, there are many different solutions available in the real world, and people should find the one that suits them the best, and gets them to where they want to be in life, financially and spiritually.
To determine which is the best fit, perhaps one should consult Daat Torah. :) I'm serious.
Mine is not an attitude that tries to suppress uncomfortable knowledge. But it an acknowledgement that not everything is right for everyone. A drug that someone needs is good for them, but lethal to those who do not need it.

I compromised and chose "occasionally worthwhile but often full of apikorsus."

Perhaps more thoughts on other quiz questions later.

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