Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits’s Halakic Vision for the Modern Age

Marc B. Shapiro writes in 2013:

How is Jewish law supposed to respond to the incredible changes that have taken place in modern times, most important of which are the expanded role of women in society and the creation of the State of Israel? For Eliezer Berkovits, these changes require a different approach to halakah than is currently seen, yet this approach should should not be seen as any sort of “reform,” but rather a return to original halakic values that due to historical circumstances were not able to be brought to fruition until modern times. Sharply delineating his approach from traditionalist Orthodoxy on the one hand, and the Conservative view of halakah on the other, Berkovits offers a dynamic approach to halakah that seeks to return the halakic process to the precodification era.

Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits is a figure who provokes diverse reactions. This is especially the case when it comes to his halakic writings. Some advocates see them as the way to a dynamic halakah. On the other hand, his approach has been strongly criticized by those who see it as little different than Conservative Judaism. Much like his teacher, R. Jehiel Jacob Weinberg, who never really found his place after World War II, so too Berkovits, because of his unique halakic vision, was destined to remain isolated from many of his Orthodox colleagues.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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