[Avodah] De-Chokifying Arayos

Marty Bluke via Avodah avodah at lists.aishdas.org
Sun Aug 2 01:25:27 PDT 2015

R' Akiva Miller wrote:
""It's a big machlokes - there's gotta be someone who paskens the way I
want, so that's what I'm gonna do." I shudder when I hear
otherwise-observant people saying such things. There are indeed some cases
where there is such a *lack* of consensus among the poskim that one can do
as he wants (one of my teachers paskened this way and for this reason
regarding brachos on dessert), but I do not see Siman 240 in this category.
We seem to be abandoning the consensus of the Shulchan Aruch and Nosei
Keilim, and running to minority rishonim."

R' Lichtenstein was bothered by this point and answered that we need to
rely on our teachers and Gedolim.

"Probably most significant, however, is our reliance upon our own mentors.
Sensing that modern gedolim, “the judge of your era”—for our purposes, most
notably, the Rav, but not he alone—have examined the issue and the evidence
and adopted a positive stance, we, ordinary students of Torah, follow in
their footsteps as we identify with their position. Whether they felt
justified in accepting, out of the depths of their own conviction, a
minority view; whether they held that our topic was essen- tially a matter
of hashkafic proclivity, not necessarily amenable to the nor- mal
procedures of pesak; or whether some other unknown but imagined
element—might, for instance, the hospitable climate of Kabbalistic sources,
have had some impact—is a matter for conjecture. That the authority of our
mentors can inform and sustain our sensibility is not."

I understand that for many of us that is not a very satisfying answer and
leads to many questions about why specifically here we follow minority
opinions as opposed to other places (e.g. wombs issues, etc.) but I don't
think there is a better answer. This is the way the halachic system works.

Even after all of this, R' Lichtenstein himself was bothered by this very

"I am left, nonetheless, with a lacuna. Even while adhering to the Rav’s
position, one may freely concede wishing that he had done for us what we
have been challenged and constrained to do here: examine the various tiers
of tradition and elucidate the basis for his own judgment and commitment."
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