Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Theological Analysis of Nonsense

R. J. David Bleich, “Lomdut and Pesak: Theoretical Analysis and Halakhic Decision-Making” in Lomdus: The Conceptual Approach to Learning, pp. 106-107:

Elsewhere, I have had occasion to point out that the gross distortion of Halakhah that has been committed in some quarters in groundlessly declaring a state of kiddushei ta’ut [marriage based on error] and issuing annulments is based upon a misunderstanding of the principle tav le-meitav tan du mi-le-meitav armelu (better to dwell as two than to dwell alone).The proposition that women prefer marriage to persons suffering from certain physical defects over spinsterhood is cited by the Gemara, Bava Kamma 110b, in explaining why levirate obligations exist even when the brother-in-law suffers from such a condition.

In recent decades the argument has been made that in the modern era, in light of changed economic conditions making it possible for women to earn their own livelihood, different social attitudes toward single women, the higher regard and dignity in which women are held, as well as women’s own heightened sense of esteem and self-worth, the Talmudic vision of women has been rendered obsolete and continues the argument, halakhic provisions based upon the presumption of tav le-meitav must be regarded as nugatory. Years ago, R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik declared that rejection of Hazal’s application of tav le-meitav “borders…on the heretical.” To my mind, the more fundamental point is that such rejection does not border upon, but is squarely within, the boundaries of am ha’aratzut. Nonsense is nonsense; theological analysis of nonsense can only create an aura of cogency where none exists.
UPDATE: Full article available here: link.

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