What’s The Halacah?

Dr. Marc B. Shapiro writes: Yet my point is that the Jewish people didn’t need any specific halakhic justification, because they knew from their intuitive natural morality what was proper. This is what R. Yehudah Amital meant when he said that growing up in Hungary he never heard anyone talk about “halakhah this, and halakhah that”.[9] As R. Amital pointed out, the people who speak like this, who have an endless focus on halakhic particulars, are those who have lost touch with the tradition. In a traditional society there is no need for one to delve into endless halakhic details, as simply by growing up in this society one knows how to conduct oneself. In a traditional society, you don’t need books to tell you, for example, how big the matzah needs to be and how much water you need to wash your hands, and by the same token you don’t need books to tell you what you can and can’t say about the Mets’ leading slugger or whether or not you can give your maid a gift on her birthday. There has been so much discussion about how Haredism is a modern invention, but the truth is that Centrism, with its Pan-Halakhism, is just as much a modern invention as haredism. Looking around, it is actually some groups of Hasidim who are the only real traditionalists, the ones who have a mesorah and who don’t need to constantly look into a book to tell them how they should live. As the great Hungarian scholar Ludwig Blau put it, “A drop of tradition is worth more than a ton of acumen.”

About Luke Ford

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