Who is Safeguarding Traditional Judaism?
I'll admit that it's partly my own fault. I wrote a post about the halachic license for my daughter to sing, and then I followed it with a post about the problem of not changing with the times. It was only to be expected that some people would assume that I was saying that an ancient tradition against women singing should be overturned in order to change with the times. Which in turn led some people to claim that I was rejecting Orthodox Judaism and even becoming a kofer. As one person said, the Gedolim were right to warn about me!
(Incidentally, I always find it funny when people make that claim. First of all, they are ignoring the role that the ban on my books had on my development - Rav Chaim Shmulevitz writes that Amalek only became who he was because he was rejected. Second, if I've only now become a kofer, then it means that the Gedolim were completely wrong in saying that what I wrote back then was kefirah!)
Anyway, I do need to make some clarifications. So here goes.
First of all, as I wrote explicitly, I am not comfortable with my daughter singing. I merely pointed out that there is sufficient halachic basis for stating that there is no prohibition of a woman singing.
Second, as I thought I made clear (but apparently did not), this is not argued to be an innovative overturning of tradition as a concession to the times. Rather, the argument that Rav Lichtenstein and others make is that it is something that was never originally forbidden. The Gemara did not address singing, but rather speaking (in inappropriate situations). The primary Rishonim likewise did not make a rule about singing. It was only with the Acharonim that this rule developed. And even then there were Acharonim who were willing to maintain the approach of the Rishonim.
In general, my approach to halacha is very conservative (with a small "c"), much more so than many Poskim. (And probably this is precisely because I'm very aware of the scale of the dangers involved, as well as the fact that I am very British and thus very traditional.) As made clear in my book Sacred Monsters, I strongly endorse the approach of Rav Herzog and others that halachos based on mistaken science are not to be changed. And I don't wear techeles, even though I am convinced that the chilazon is the Murex trunculus. As we see from the Gemara about the oven of Achnai, stability in Judaism is even more important than objective truth, and such stability requires loyalty to tradition.
It's ironic that my charedi critics were accusing me of wanting to forsake tradition. What I've been arguing for in endless posts is to preserve ancient tradition against charedi innovations.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. In charedi society, "tradition" means what is done today. But for the rest of us, tradition means the traditions of Torah and Jews over millennia.
Torah tradition was to acknowledge that Chazal were not omniscient about scientific matters. Torah tradition was that the more a rabbi knows about the world, the more qualified he is to give guidance, not the reverse. Torah tradition was that a man should work for a living. Torah tradition was that a man has an obligation to raise his children with the ability to be economically self-sufficient. Torah tradition was that when you have a country, you need to rise to the occasion and develop it and protect it. And so on, and so on.
Torah tradition was also that when there are changing circumstances and new challenges, Judaism rises to the occasion. Now, in the modern world, this is a very dangerous thing. It certainly can and has been abused, leading to people abandoning halachic observance. And we must be extremely wary of exercising this power, which can have all kinds of unforeseen consequences. But, at the same time, we must recognize that saying that "we don't have the power to make any changes - even undoing the changes made a generation ago" is a very problematic position which likewise goes against tradition.
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