Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The Human and Social Factor in Halacha by Rav Aharon Soloveitchik


Illustrations apart, however, the cogency and legitimacy of a "human"approach to pesak, appears, to many, problematic. They would have us believe that the ideal posek is a faceless and heartless supercomputer into whom all of the relevant data is fed and who then produces the right answer. Should ths standard not be met, the shortfal is to be regarded as a failng, the lamentable result of human frailty-in Bacon's terms, a manifestation of the besetting "idols" which hamper and hinder the capacity for reasoned judgment. On this reading, the process of pesika,properly conçeived and executed, bears no semblance to an existential encounter between seeker and respondent. It entails, rather, the application of text to problem, the coupling of code and situation. This conception does not necessarily preclude reckoning with the specific circumstances of the question and questioner, as these may very well bepart of the relevant objective data. The prevailng tendency, however,would be to dwarf this factor; and as to the human aspect of the meshiv, that would be obviated entirely. He, for his part, is to be animated by the precept that "we do not have mercy in judgment," and hence, to pass on the merits of the issue with imperviously stony objectivity

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