[Avodah] De-Chokifying Arayos (including MZ)

Kenneth Miller via Avodah avodah at lists.aishdas.org
Sun Jul 26 20:18:25 PDT 2015

R' Zvi Lampel wrote:

> But apparently, had Rav Lichtenstein been giving me the
> "chassan shmuez," I would have come away with the same halacha
> l'ma'aseh regarding attitude. He writes:
>    We cannot, as the author of the /Iggeret ha-Kodesh/ could
>    not, abandon the conviction that so central a component of
>    human nature is not part of the /tov me'od/ of primordial
>    creation. Consequently, impelled by our spiritual instincts
>    and animated by the faith instilled in us by our Torah
>    mentors, we opt for consecration rather than abstinence.

I am very bothered by this attitude. I will explain why.

We have discussed the idea that a posek may sometimes choose a psak based on what "seems right" to him, and then he will find sources to support that conclusion. But if I remember correctly, this is usually done in the case of *new* questions, where there is little precedent to draw upon.

But that's not what's happening here. This is a case where the Shulchan Aruch paskened very clearly in one direction, and this approach went uncontested through centuries of acharonim. Then something changed. And it changed so recently that Rav Lichtenstein couldn't name any seforim that might have explained it to him. Namely, that for some reason, various people (such as RZL's teacher) started paskening - "halacha l'ma'aseh" in RZL's words - that the halacha follows the Iggeret ha-Kodesh (whose author we aren't sure of) rather than the Shulchan Aruch and Rav Yosef Karo.

Why aren't we rejecting these revisionist poskim out of hand? Can we really overturn the Shulchan Aruch simply because "We cannot ... abandon the conviction" that sex is "tov me'od"? When we justify a psak and say we were "impelled by our spiritual instincts", how are we different from Conservative and Reform?

I would not speak this way if the topic was a machlokes rishonim. Can someone please point to another major Rishon besides the Iggeret ha-Kodesh who holds that way?

Akiva Miller
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