From Openness to Heresy

Outright heresy is emanating from the heart of the YCT rabbinic world. No, this time we are not dealing with Open Orthodoxy (as YCT founder Rabbi Avi Weiss refers to his movement) innovating novel practices that can sort of be reconciled with minority or exotic halachic opinions, nor are we dealing with Open Orthodoxy promoting yet another new brand of controversial inclusiveness or further blazing socio-religious trails that mainstream Orthodoxy and its halachic leadership deem as beyond the pale. This time, we are dealing with denial of the singular Divine authorship of the Torah – heresy of the highest order – publicly espoused in writing by one of Open Orthodoxy’s most prominent rabbinic leaders. And we are also dealing with the rest of Open Orthodox rabbinic leadership refusing to condemn this heresy in its midst.

Rabbi Zev Farber, PhD., who holds Yoreh Yoreh and Yadin Yadin semicha from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, is coordinator of the Vaad Hagiyur of International Rabbinic Fellowship and is an IRF board member, and is an Advisory Board member of Yeshivat Maharat. Rabbi Farber recently published a brief article entitled “The Opening Of Devarim: A Recounting Or Different Version Of The Wilderness Experience?” in which he addresses textual differences between the events recounted in Parshas Devarim and the presentation of these events in earlier parts of the Torah. (For example, the Torah in Sefer Shemos refers to Mount Sinai as “Sinai” and in Sefer Devarim, the mountain is termed “Chorev”; the court system in Sefer Shemos is presented as Yisro’s idea, whereas in Sefer Devarim, it seems to be presented as Moshe’s idea, as it is not attributed there to Yisro; Sefer Bamidbar presents the dispatching of scouts to explore Eretz Yisroel as Hashem’s idea, whereas in Sefer Devarim, Moshe attributes this endeavor to the people; Sefer Bamidbar describes the confrontation with Edom following B’nei Yisroel’s request to pass through Edom’s territory, whereas Sefer Devarim omits mention of this confrontation; in Sefer Devarim, Moshe states that Hashem commanded him to fight Sichon, whereas this command is absent in Sefer Bamidbar, where it appears that the battle with Sichon was a consequence of his own belligerence; etc.)


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