Tuesday, June 05, 2007

On Expanding the Palace


In the latest issue of BDD, R. Aryeh Frimer published a very harsh review of Dr. Tamar Ross' book Expanding the Palace of the King – Orthodoxy and Feminism (link - PDF). (As a disclaimer, let me be clear that I offered comments on an early version of the article and am thanked in the acknowledgments.) Significantly, R. Frimer accused Dr. Ross of being a heretic, or at least of espousing heresy. A quote from an article by Ilana Saks that R. Frimer cites is helpful (link - DOC):

The ideas that the Torah that was revealed to only through Moshe and that it is unchanging clearly are not accepted by her. It is important to note that while Dr. Ross’ ideas clearly do not follow the normative view, she claims that there is precedence for her ideas in traditional sources.
Prof. Ross has now issued a harsh response to the critique (link - PDF).

Let me be clear. I didn't read the book under discussion and Dr. Ross' defense is so jargon-filled that I can't make heads or tails of most of it. However, if I understand section II.5 correctly, then I think Dr. Ross has confirmed R. Frimer's evaluation and only responded that it isn't so bad. On the prodding of commenters, I reread the section and believe that she is saying as follows: The Torah was initially given to an audience that lived in a male-dominated culture and therefore was written in that style. However, God was capable of including in the Torah all of the laws, hints, meanings, etc. that was necessary for eternity. That doesn't seem like heresy to me, even if I am uncomfortable with it.

Does anyone disagree with my interpretation of her clarification?

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