Thursday, October 22, 2009

Interview with Prof. Lawrence Kaplan

Baruch Pelta interviews Lawrence Kaplan at the Seforim blog. Fascinating!


  1. "It was generally used in more of a non-political sense, that is, you study the Torah and you get a great insight into nature and reality and history."

    Interesting indeed,

  2. A good interview but so what?

    Those who believe in the modern incarnation of "Daas Torah" don't care about historical or religious truth. They ask to be told what to think and believe by their "gedolim" and refuse to participate in the process themselves because they're not "qualified."

    Those that insist on thinking for themselves don't need to be told that this is the right way to be.

  3. Although I agree that the concept of "Daas Torah" seems to have been overdone in recent generations, it is worth pointing out to the opponents of the idea that even if we ignore "Daas Torah" altogether, "just" observing Halacha is extremely intrusive into a person's life. After all, it's "only" Halacha which restricts when a married couple may and may not touch each other, for example, without even a dispensation for pikuach nefesh according to many Poskim. Any Halachic Jew has to be ready to give up all his money rather than violate a negative commandment, and this is very likely to have repercussions for career choice, etc. There are endless examples of how "mere" Halachic Judaism presumes to regulate a Jew's entire life, so to a great extent the concept of "Daas Torah" is a straw man.

  4. Garnel asks "so what?"
    No need to have a defeatist attitude. If it influences even 1% of the readers you think "don't think for themselves," then it was a worthwhile interview.

  5. I didn't understand Ephraim's remarks at October 25, 2009 10:43 AM... can he/anyone else restate? Thanks!

  6. I think I was too wordy in my previous comment.

    All I meant to say was that if the problem people have with "Daas Torah" is that it intrudes into areas where religion "doesn't belong", we already find the Halacha doing this in practically every area of life. (Of course, there may be other issues, and I imagine that these are probably the ones that concern Professor Kaplan more.)

  7. Thank you Rabbi Slifkin for linking to my interview.

    To answer Garnel Ironheart: As is the case in hotly contested elections, the people who count the the most and whom one tries to influence are the "undecideds."

    lawrence kaplan

  8. Can anyone direct me to Rav Hutner's article about the Holocaust, or Prof Kaplan's response, or, alternatively, give a summary of what it was that upset Prof Kaplan?


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