Rabbi Shlomo Goren – The Last Champion Of A Dynamic Halacha

From Marc B. Shapiro‘s lectures on Torah in Motion:

From Dr. Shapiro’s third lecture on R. Shlomo Goren:

"Rabbi Shlomo Goren was machmir (strict) on many mitzvos. He wouldn’t carry within the eruv in Jerusalem."

"When his term ended in 1983, there was widespread relief that he was off the stage… Even many religious Zionists tired of what they regarded as his grandstanding."

"From the perspective of Torah law, copyright is a different matter. I don’t know that Torah gives anyone authority to copyright their Torah. Even your children don’t own your Torah. Torah belongs to Klal Yisrael… In the Torah world, people usually don’t pay attention to [copyright]."

"You open up an Artscroll and it says you can’t copy it even for personal use. You can ignore that completely. The law in the United States is that personal use is permissable. I’ve never heard anyone say that halacha does not allow for copying for personal use. This is a perfect example of following the custom of the land."

"Rav Hayyim Hirschenson was more radical than Shlomo Goren, but they both had the approach that halacah could solve every problem. They were both of the opinion that it was a galut (diaspora) mentality that doesn’t allow us to solve a lot of these problems."

"Rav Goren was the last advocate for a dynamic halacha. He points out that the halachos of the Rambam will not work today. Ultimately he fails. Even the religious Zionist rabbis would not go along. Following the path of Rav Goren would’ve meant a complete break with the charedim. At the end of the day, the religious Zionists did not want a schism with the charedi world. Rav Goren believed with Hayyim Hirschenson that every halachic problem had a solution. We don’t have to be bound by hundreds of years of halachic decisions in galut. The Charedim regard living in the land of Israel as just another galut."

"The liberal Orthodox have a problem with Rav Goren in that his politics are very right-wing. He does not believe in giving back any land. He believed in Daas Torah — that the rabbis have to have a veto power over politicians."

"In Israel, you don’t have charedim coming in to teach in religious Zionist schools. In America, all of our Mizrachi (religious Zionist) day schools are full of charedi teachers."

"Rav Solveitchik would let Rav Goren speak in his shiurs. Then Rav Goren would leave and the next day the Rav would speak out against him. They did not have such a good relationship."

"Yes, you have to give credit also to this guy from Minnesota who in many ways is a thorn in the side of Orthodoxy. But he has exposed a lot. This Failed Messiah blog. I know him a bit because he emails me. He has exposed a lot of the scandals and a lot of problems. He has done real investigative work. He was quoted in the New York Times. He’s exposed that Rubashkin’s advertising firm  was using phony names on blogs. It is unfortunate that we have to give someone who left Orthodoxy credit for this sort of thing. We should be out in front." (40 minutes into Marc Shapiro’s first lecture on Rabbi Yitzchak Yaakov Reines)

Seventy minutes into his second lecture on R. Yitzchak Yaakov Reines, Marc B. Shapiro talks about his decision to publish excerpts of letters by R. Yaakov Weinberg to Reform rabbi Samuel Atlas: "Would I make the same decision to publish knowing what I know? I believe I would. I would perhaps put more context around the letters… I have other unpublished stuff that I haven’t published. I am afraid of the reaction. Other explosive stuff. Maybe in the future… Some of it is personal. In the book, I took out personal stuff because I didn’t think it was relevant."

Third lecture: "Congregational singing is an American phenomenon borrowed from the Protestants…started by the Young Israel movement… If you go to a yeshivish minyan, they don’t sing. The Hasidim don’t have congregational singing. They will hum niggunim… The Rav opposed congregational singing."

In his second lecture on R. Yizthak Nissim, Marc says that Iranian Jewry hasn’t produced a Torah giant in a thousand years.

In his third lecture on R. Yitzhak Nissim, nine minutes in, Marc says that if the IRS investigated the books of yeshivas, they would likely find a lot of wrongdoing.

Marc says a student of Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik — Rabbi Yehuda Leib Forer — served as the rav of a Conservative and an Orthodox shul at the same time in Holyoke, Massachusetts (about 70 years ago).

Marc says: "Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu (the son of the former Sephardic chief rabbi Mordecai Eliyahu who succeeded Ovadia Yosef) is basically a fascist… R. Mordecai Eliyahu said that God would never allow Gush Katif to be evacuated and that God would not allow him to look like a fool."

"Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is not only the most important rabbi in the world, but the most important rabbi in many generations."

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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