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Author:  Not this time!
E-mail:  not available
Date:  6/26/2004 11:43:00 PM
Subject:  Re: Heresy
Message:  Anonymous wrote: Are you familiar with the inroads being made by some "heterodox" modern orthodox rabbis and institutions who emphasize halachic observance but fall short of commiting to the basics of emunah?

For example, the Chovevei Torah Yeshiva headed by Avi Weiss and Dov Linzer teaches halacha b'iyun but conveys a philosophy that questions the 13 principles of faith. They consider Marc Shapiro's book - in which he garners evidence for the corporeality of G-d and the non-Mosaic authorship of Torah, among other things - to be the new "bible" of modern orthodox theology.

Is it OK to be associated and/or otherwise involved with such an institution or with the people supporting it?

First of all, saying that the book is the "Bible" of the yeshiva is way overboard.

Secondly, it's amazing how many people are misreading Marc Shapiro's book! The book does NOT claim that the 13 principles are not important and that Jewish theology is a free-for-all, or that what you believe isn't important. It simply brings the evidence, clear and plain as day, that these principles were not always agreed upon by everyone, not before Rambam and not after him, either. Either great Talmidei Chachamim (often obscure, but often not!) disagreed with one or another of the principles in toto, or they disagreed that one who does not believe in them is automatically a heretic with no share in Olam Haba (the World to Come). This should be no surprise to anyone who has studied Hashkafah, Machshevet Yisrael, Jewish Philosophy, or whatever you want to call it. In fact, the ArtScroll siddur, of all sources, says that Rambam's 13 principles were NOT accepted by everyone. And the Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Yisrael said (this is in the book, too) that Principle #8 is not to be taken literally.

The reason this book was so shocking is because nobody learns this stuff anymore! Now, maybe that's not everybody's derech ha-limmud (way of learning). It's probably not for everyone, and I'm not suggesting we all enroll or go daven there for the Yamim Noraim (High Holy Days). But to ask if one can be associated with people who run a yeshiva that gives classes that ask questions such as "What exactly are the Ikkarei Emunah (Fundamentals of Belief)"...? Raising these questions is not "falling short of the basics of emunah". It's something called "learning Torah".

Simple emunah (faith) is a wonderful thing, if you have it automatically. But not everyone does. The students of this yeshiva are either interested in exploring these issues themselves, or plan to be rabbis in communities where studying this aspect of Torah can be very valuable in building people's faith, not destroying it.

[A related question: the rabbi of my shul said that everyone has to say every line of Yigdal (the hymn that poetically recounts Rambam's 13 principles) instead of alternating with the Hazan, because if you don't say every line it's as if you're showing you don't believe in those principles. Is that as silly as I think it is? Or am I just crazy?]
Reply:  For each his own. I never read this book and I don't know much about it. I'm still up to Gemara and Shulchan Aruch.

On the related question; The alternating works for many things and is considered as if they all said everything. There have been opinions like his, but to carry it to Yigdal is a stretch.

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