Tuesday, July 26, 2022

The Legacy of Yehiel Jacob Weinberg


In the course of presenting the opinions for and against a lenient ruling, Shapiro informs us that Wein­berg’s opponents were, in large part, motivated by what he calls “meta-halachic” considerations. His use of the term, however, is so unclear as to be misleading.
Initially he characterizes “meta-halacha” as representing wider, subjective considerations, which are normally brought to bear in halachic decision­making: “Because such non-formal considerations are not grounded in explicit texts and cannot be refuted in the fashion of traditional halachic arguments, they may be referred to as ‘meta-halachic’ considerations.” Yet it is not long before Shapiro begins charging the term with a negative connotation: He distinguishes “meta-halachic” considerations, which are essentially “emotional and political,” from “pure halachic analysis.” The reader is left with the impression that Weinberg’s critics manipulated the halacha according to their own agendas, in disregard of the straightforward meaning of the textual sources.

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