[Avodah] : Re: De-Chokifying Arayos (including MZ)

Chana Luntz via Avodah avodah at lists.aishdas.org
Thu Aug 6 15:28:31 PDT 2015

RAM writes:

>And yet, Orach Chayim 240 *IS* "black-letter halakhah and objective rules",
is it not?

In order to have an informed discussion, don't you need to read Orech Chaim
240 in light of Even HaEzer 25 and particularly the Rema in si'if 2 there?
And further read the Tur (and the meforshim on the Tur) in Even HaEzer simin
25 to get a fuller picture of the sources (and the original gemora sources)
- so you can see the history of the machlokus on how to deal with this issue
all the way back.  As Rav Lichtenstein articulated it, the question is not
so much that we differ from the position of Chazal, as our position (and the
one quoted by the Rema) is much more in line with the majority position in
Chazal, but why did the major rishonim - Rambam, Ra'avid etc differ so
markedly from what appears to be the majority position in Chazal and posken
- well like Rabbi Eliezer (shmuti hu?), as then did the Achronim.

I confess there seems to me to be a pretty straightforward explanation - the
influence of the outside world. The same sort of influence that reputedly
led to the cherem of Rabbi Gershom (Jews who are supposed to be the
upholders of morality cannot be seen to have more than one wife in a world
where that is seen as immoral).  In a world which identified relations with
sin and death (standard Xtian theology of the time, and the Muslim theology
in many circles was not that different) - it would have been inappropriate,
and led to general looseness if the general non Jewish world view had been
repudiated to the extent consonant with the positive positions found in
Chazal.  Hence Orech Chaim, the book most accessible to the masses, contains
not a word of the Rema's position, that is buried in Even HaEzer, where it
is more likely only the scholarly will look (or from the point of view of
Maran, go look in the Tur).  But to talk about relations positively in an
open way in Xtian Europe would have created temptations for the non Jewish
world that would have unleashed a level of vengeance (eg from the
priesthood) that could likely not be endured.  There was a lot of censoring
and self censoring that went on in all sorts of areas, it seems to me also
here, especially as there are the minority positions to bring and rely on.

Only in the modern day world which has swung so far the other way is it
possible to honestly and openly evaluate the position of Chazal, and that is
what in effect has been done, by Rav Lichtenstein and others.

>Akiva Miller



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