Now we have time to post the critique of the Yated’s attack on R’ Dov Linzer.
The Yated writer:
Another of Rabbi Linzer’s written statements warrant mention here. In the
Did Rabbi Linzer, forget that which every simple [sic] knows? Did he forget the words in the Torah on which Rashi (Bamidbar 19:2) cites the Chazal that we have no right to “second-guess” or question those mitzvos whose reasons are not immediately apparent?
What does that Rashi say? From chabad.org:
This is the statute of the Torah.
Clearly, the writer takes issue on the basis of the underlined section. But what is its source? (from the Soncino translation):
Yoma 67b: And My statutes shall ye keep,14 i.e., such commandments to which Satan objects, they are [those relating to] the putting on of sha'atnez,15 the halizah16 [performed] by a sister-in-law, the purification of the leper, and the he-goat-to-be-sent-away. And perhaps you might think these are vain things, therefore Scripture says: I am the Lord,14 i.e., I, the Lord have made it a statute and you have no right to criticize it.
(14) Lev. XVIII, 4.
(15) A web of wool and linen, v. Deut. XXII, 11. All the laws mentioned in this group cannot be explained rationally; they are to be taken on faith, as the decree of God.
(16) The ceremony of taking off the brother-in-law's shoe, v. Deut. XXV, 5ff.
What does this mean?
Let’s ask Rashi on the Gemara:
“Therefore it says ‘I am God’”: this refers to statutes (chukim), that came from Him, He constructed them, thus it is called “Chok” – I God have decreed it.
It is as clear as day. One has no right to second-guess chukim, arbitrary Divine decrees such as the Red Heifer or mixed kinds of cloth. But that tells us nothing about our approach to mishpatim – civil laws. We have every right to try to come to terms with the civil and criminal laws, that we find morally difficult.
To take R’ Linzer’s examples:
- The command to destroy Amalek is not a chok, it comes with a reason – because of what Amalek did to us when we were leaving
. Part of the command to destroy Amalek is to kill Amalekite babies. Would the Yated writer really feel no compunction in killing an Amalekite baby, who by definition could not have sinned? Does the baby possess some kind of , lehavil, “original sin” that allows us to kill it? Egypt
- The death penalty for one who engages in toeivah, and the inability of a woman to terminate a failed marriage, these are mishpatim. And in the latter case, Chazal and the Rishonim went to great lengths to try to even out the balance between the man’s power to terminate the marriage, and the woman’s passive role – allowing hafka’at kiddushin in certain cases, allowing a woman to sue in beis din to initiate a divorce, the Cherem of Rabbenu Gershom – all of these are Chazal and Rishonim struggling with the apparent immorality of one-sided divorce mandated by the Torah text.
In neither case does the stricture in the Gemara and Rashi apply.
From where does our morality spring, other than from the Holy One Blessed be He? He gave us a moral sense, and He gave us law, and we have to make the two of them square.
The Yated, on the other hand, has apparently falsified the Torah (ziyuf haTorah) in its attempt to vilify R’ Dov Linzer.
[Irrelevant pointers to the necessity of tziduk hadin and the incomprehensibility of Divine thought snipped]
It is clear that he made this statement despite his knowledge of the above. This is why the “Open Orthodoxy” of YCT is not Orthodox but resembles something akin to a new “Conservative light” movement.
No. What is clear is that nothing, not even the words of Chazal and the Torah, stand in the way of the Yated writers’ desire to vilify R’ Linzer and his Yeshiva, Chovevei Torah. This claim had also been made against R’ Linzer in an earlier attack on YCT, that time without an attempt to justify the claim from Chazal. Evidently the writers felt that the point was important, and that supporting it from Chazal was important as well. It might have been better had they found a more appropriate source.