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Monday, May 20, 2019

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In his letter, “Context of the Rav Soloveitchik Transcription” (March 20, 2019), Rabbi Dr. Tzvee Zahavy proceeds from describing the ramifications of the Rav’s seminal and history-impacting presentation, to dismissing and deriding the Rav’s message.

Rabbi Dr. Zahavy writes: “But even if we were to grant that the Rav was perspicacious and sagacious in his insights into human nature, the notion that such essential nature should be a bar to a woman from the right to dissolve an abusive or otherwise non-functioning marriage made no logical deductive sense at all. It was a polemical move in a diatribe that was meant to quash dissent and stifle change.”

The Rav most certainly did not state or imply that one’s “essential nature should be a bar to a woman from the right to dissolve an abusive or otherwise non-functioning marriage.” What the Rav did state was that Halacha, which requires a get to terminate a marriage (absent specific exceptional circumstances), is eternal and cannot be reformed or dispensed with, for Halacha (regarding the case under discussion) is a reflection of permanent and inherent qualities of the human persona. The Rav was making a halachic point—that termination of marriage requires a get—by going deeper and expounding upon the profound and unchanging substructure upon which Halacha is built. To submit that the Rav was using a psychological/human nature argument to adjudicate a halachic decision reflects a gross misunderstanding of the Rav’s remarks.

Perhaps worse is Rabbi Dr. Zahavy’s characterization of the Rav’s words as “ma(king) no logical deductive sense at all… a polemical move in a diatribe that was meant to quash dissent and stifle change.” Aside from the great disrespect evinced, Rabbi Dr. Zahavy degrades the Rav’s passionate plea for halachic integrity into a prejudiced political stunt. For shame.

Thank God, the Rav’s words carried the day, and the threat to normative halachic standards in the most weighty of areas was stopped in its tracks.

Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer
Manhattan