Introduction The Questions Question 1 – Torah and History Question 2 – Mosaic Authorship Question 3 – Multivocality Question 4 – Perfection of the Torah Closing Remarks
In every generation new ideas and information force Jewish thinkers to reevaluate traditional principles. For some it was Aristotelian philosophy, for others it was the scientific revolution. In our time, modern academic Bible scholarship and the disciplines of history and archaeology pose serious challenges to traditional interpretations ofTorah mi-Sinai ("Torah given at Sinai") and Torah min Ha-Shamayim ("Torah from heaven"). There are difficulties with the historicity of many of the biblical narratives, with the single authorship of the Torah and even with the morality of some of the Torah’s laws and stories. These problems have spawned much reflection among traditional Jewish thinkers, who wish to follow the path of the great sages of the past like Maimonides, who found ways to bridge the gap between traditional and current thinking in their times.
Beginning with the premise of Torah Min ha-Shamayim—that the Torah is of divine origin—the following piece will explore the following four questions.
Do the stories of the Torah need to be believed as history in the sense of an accurate record the actual past, or can they be mnemohistory, i.e. stories a culture reveres about its past?
Is it essential to believe that the Torah was written by Moses and not any other prophet?
Must the Torah reflect only one story line or one point of view?
Must the Torah’s revelation be perfect as it is, or can it be seen as crafted for the period of time in which it was initially revealed with the intention that it would be enhanced as society progressed?
As early as the classical Rabbinic and medieval period, rabbinic authorities have suggested that certain accounts or parts of certain accounts should be understood in a literary, and not literal, way. The Talmud suggests that the Torah “exaggerates (lashon havay),” quoting the verse in Deuteronomy (1:28) which describes the Canaanite cities as extending all the way to the sky (b. Hullin 90b). Rambam believed that any account that referenced an angel had to be understood as a prophetic vision and not an actual occurrence, and he also claimed that the talking snake in the Garden of Eden and Balaam’s talking donkey should be considered allegory and a dream, respectively (Guide, 2:42). By offering this method of interpretation, Rambam contradicts an explicit statement of Chazal (m. Avot 5: 6), which considers the talking donkey as having existed in fact. The Torah itself never actually says who wrote it. Deuteronomy 31:9 refers to Moses writing down “this book,” but does not make clear what it means by this phrase. R. Ovadiah Seforno (c. 1475-1550, Italy), for instance, believes that it refers to the part of Deuteronomy that the king will read, as described in b. Sotah 41a. Ironically, despite the fact that this is the only verse in the Torah that references Moses writing it, R. Abraham ibn Ezra includes it in his list of verses that Moses didn’t write (Deut. 1:2).
I try to take some steps in this direction in an earlier post, but my goal here is different. In this piece, I wish to outline the questions and show that they have been answered in more than one way by traditional authorities throughout Jewish history, through today.
These four questions have been debated for centuries and pre-modern and modern thinkers have offered varied responses to them. As is the case with many issues, Jewish Tradition (mesorah) does not offer a single definitive answer.
Question 1 – Torah and History
In modern times, the possibility of seeing much larger swaths of the biblical narrative as representing something other than real historical events has been explored. In an article in Tradition, Rabbi Dr. Shubert Spero suggests approaching the stories of the Garden of Eden and the Flood as ahistorical.1 As intuitive as this suggestion may seem to modern readers, it is important to note that, from the perspective of the text, there is no reason to believe that these stories are ahistorical any more than any other stories in the Torah! At no point in the narrative does the Torah have a subheading saying: “Up until now it was folklore, from now on it is history.”
Taking a step further than Spero, Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot, in his Morethodoxy post, quotes Rabbi Jeremy Wieder as arguing that if someone were not to believe in the historicity of the patriarchs and matriarchs — essentially all of Genesis — that this would not be a denial of any Jewish fundamentals.2 To give some perspective on how profoundly novel Rabbi Wieder’s suggestion is, this would mean that all the prayers and biblical claims that speak about a promise to the patriarchs and matriarchs would have to be understood as referring to an allegory or a fictional account.
The position staked out by R. Wieder is quite reminiscent of the position of R. Levi ben Avraham referenced in the responsa of Rashba (1:414, 415, 417) and R. Abba Mari ben Joseph of Lunel, collected in the latter’s Minhat Kanaot. R. Levi was reported to have suggested an allegorical interpretation of Abraham and Sarah as form and substance, and the twelve tribes and the constellations. Whether he meant this as an exclusive interpretation or as an additional hidden meaning was vociferously debated. Some like Rashba, R. Abba Mari and Rosh declared him an apostate. Others, like Menachem ha-Meiri and Yadiyah ha-Penini Bedarshi (Iggeret Hitnatzlut) wrote in his defense.3
The farthest-reaching treatment of this issue known to me is by Rabbi Dr. Amit Kula, who writes in his bookExistential or Non-Essential that historicity is not important.4 He applies this in his introduction to Abraham, and in chapter four he even extends it to the revelation at Sinai! For example, he writes (pp. 131-132; translation mine):
The key to accepting the Torah as binding is believing that it is the Torah of God; this key functions whether the revelation on Mount Sinai occurred or not… This is the root of any faith or apostasy: does the person accept the Torah as the Torah of God or not? The details of history have no bearing on this key question.5
To Rav Kula, historicity of all the stories in the Torah is secondary to the meaning of these stories.6
Question 2 – Mosaic Authorship
Other books in Tanach do make reference to “the book of the Torah of Moses” (Josh. 8:31, 23:6; 2 Kings 14:6; Neh. 8:1, 2 Chron. 34:14).7 However, this term also contains some ambiguity. Is it called this because Moses wrote it or because it contains a record of the laws of Moses? Israel Knohl points out that in the Bible the laws of the Torah are sometimes referred to as being from God’s servants, the prophets (Daniel 9:10, Ezra 9:11).8 It is noteworthy that the references to torah in the Bible that most likely refer to the Torah as we know it all come from books which both tradition and modern scholarship believe are late, such as Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles.
The statement that Moses wrote the Torah can be found in b. Baba Batra 14b: “Moses wrote his book, as well as the book of Balaam and Job. Joshua wrote his book and the last eight verses in the Torah. Samuel wrote his book and the books of Judges and Ruth…” However, it is worth noting that with regard to the assertions about Joshua and Samuel, Don Isaac Abarbanel, in his introduction to the Former Prophets, offers an objection.
When I probed the verses, though, I saw that the opinion that Joshua wrote his book was highly unlikely… because of verses which attest to the fact that Joshua did not write them… The verses indicate that Samuel did not write his book in the very same way.9
Despite the fact that Chazal state explicitly who the author of each book is, Abarbanel argues against some of their conclusions. Apparently, these suggestions were not obligatory traditions/mesorah but reasoned assumptions. For this reason, Abarbanel saw them as open to be challenged. If the list represents nothing more than reasoned suggestions, the first entry in the list may be seen the same way. Nevertheless, Abarbanel does not apply this logic to the Torah at all. In fact, he strongly attacks Ramban and ibn Ezra (the former unfairly perhaps) for implying that there are verses in the Torah not written by Moses (Num. 20:1). In this Abarbanel follows Maimonides in insisting that every verse in the Torah was penned by Moses himself. Although it is true that Maimonides claims the belief that Moses wrote the entire Torah as a dogmatic necessity, it seems clear that many rishonim dispute this point and allow for the possibility of other prophets having a hand in the writing of the Torah.10
The suggestion that other prophets had a role in writing the Torah has been put forth by ibn Ezra, R. Yehuda Ha-Chasid, and some others,11 and goes all the way back to the above mentioned Talmudic suggestion the last eight verses in the Torah were not written by Moses but by Joshua.12 Rabbi Yuval Cherlow wrote a short responsum on this issue where he defends the legitimacy of the claim that someone other than Moses wrote a number of the verses in the Torah.13
[O]nce people believe that the verses of the Torah stem entirely from a divine origin, there is no prohibition to expand that which our sages said about the final verses of the Torah to other verses, since the essential point that remains consistent throughout is that the Torah stems from the word of the “mouth” of God.
An even more radical iteration of this theory is also found in Rav Kula’s book (p. 171, trans. mine).
I think that it would not be considered heresy to say that the Torah was transmitted in a diffuse fashion as part of the Israelite lived experience, over a long period of time, perhaps hundreds of years, by way of great people who knew God’s mind, prophets, judges and leaders, who arose among the Israelites and humanity. This possibility does not detract from the divine status of the Torah. No less important, I believe that this possibility has the potential to carry upon its back the energy of a lively and vibrant religious faith. For if the origin of the divine Torah is not in a historical Mount Sinai event, still all its constituent elements are true.14
When Rav Kula says “true,” he means this in the deep sense, but not the historical-literal sense, as discussed in the previous section.
‘Torah from Heaven’ is mythos not logos, poetry, not prose; romance rather than history (315)… As ‘myth of origin’ it seeks to present Torah as a unified whole… Within this context, the halakhah of Judaism may be seen as emanating from Sinai, and as reaching full expression through rabbinic interpretation and Jewish practice. This is not an historically tenable position, but an interpretation of history through faith; history can neither confirm nor disconfirm a non-physical origin, nor can it make a judgment as to what constitutes the full or ‘authentic’ expression of Torah. Torah, as viewed through ‘Torah from Heaven’, is a unified whole—that is what ‘Torah from Heaven’ is about (317).
Rabbi Solomon views Torah min ha-Shamayim as a spiritual truth, or as a way of expressing the divine nature of the Torah. However, he does not believe in the historicity of the narratives, and thinks such a belief is unnecessary, and even problematic.
Question 3 – Multivocality
The Sages recognized as well that contradictory versions of the same story or law seem to exist in the Torah. In fact, contradictions between biblical texts are one of the main impetuses for midrash. For example, Gen. 1:27 says that humanity was created as man and woman, implying at the same time. However, in Gen. 2 man is created first and woman later on from his rib or side. The Sages are aware of this contradiction and offer various solutions. Rav Yehudah (b. Ketubot 8a) suggests that God originally planned on creating both but then changed plans. Alternatively, R. Yirmiya ben Elazar (Genesis Rabbah 8:1), probably inspired by Plato’s Symposium, solves this contradiction by suggesting that the first human was created androgynously, and was only later split into two humans each with a distinct gender. In several places, the Torah describes Mosaic prophecy as being greater than other types of prophecy (e.g. Num. 12:8; Deut. 34:10). Expanding on this biblical statement, the Sages talk about Moses’ prophetic vision as being clearer than that of any other prophet (b. Yebamot 49b). This would imply that Moses’ understanding of Torah was greater than that of any future Sage. Nevertheless, the Talmud in places suggests that the Torah expands and becomes more sophisticated over time. In his book, The God who Hates Lies, Rabbi Dr. David Hartman suggests that part of the Jew’s service to God is keeping his or her own sense of morality in conversation with halacha.25 These are only some illustrations of the variety of answers on the four central questions that I noted above, indicating that there is significant openness and debate rather than a single, sanctioned, official position. This debate continues today, and it is not surprising given how sensitive these matters are, and how close to the core of the religion, that emotions run high. Those of us who want to live in two worlds of wisdom, the secular and the traditional, must continue to explore these questions in an open and honest fashion. Such exploration enhances, rather than detracts from, serious Jewish commitment and observance.
In the medieval period, some commentaries were willing to state explicitly that sometimes the Torah told two different versions of the same story. For example, Rav Yosef Bechor Shor (12th cent. France) points this out with regard to the two accounts of the quail in the desert, one in Exodus and one in Numbers, each with conflicting details.16 Rabbi Dr. Joseph B. Soloveitchik,17 as well, explored this type of interpretation with regard to the two versions of the creation story, in his book, The Lonely Man of Faith:
We all know that the Bible offers two accounts of the creation of man… It is, of course, true that the two accounts of the creation of man differ considerably. This incongruity was not discovered by the Bible critics. Our sages of old were aware of it (pp. 9-10).
The most developed treatment of this approach among traditional scholars can be seen in the work of Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Breuer.18
When discussing what he calls “the liberal solution” (not his preferred solution), where the Torah is assumed to have been written by a prophet or prophets, similar to other biblical books, Rabbi Mordechai Breuer writes (163):
By this logic, Moses could not have composed all the documents included in the Torah since… their content and style indicate different authors at different times. If Moses is the author of the Torah, as we normally think of an author, it is all the more difficult to believe that he would contradict himself so frequently, as the documents appear to do.
Even according to what he calls “the traditional alternative” (his preferred solution), Rabbi Breuer still admits that the Torah is filled with contradictions, but believes that doing so reflects God’s own multivocality (pp. 170-171):
Let us review the salient positions of Biblical Criticism, as applied to the Torah. First, there is the thesis that the Torah contains discrete documents integrated by an editor whose work is evident throughout the Torah. We must acknowledge these arguments because we too assert that God’s Torah, in its plain sense, speaks “the language of human beings.” When read by the rules that govern human speech, the Torah is consonant with the scholarly evaluation of the text… This is the position we have staked out. God, who is beyond the limitations of time and space, prepared the Torah, declaring in utterance what man can comprehend only as a combination of different sources.19
It is difficult to emphasize sufficiently how novel or “untraditional” R. Breuer’s “traditional” interpretation is. His model goes much further than that of Bechor Shor or R. Soloveitchik, since he accepts the division of the Torah into four distinct documents, following the divisions of advocates of the documentary hypothesis. According to Rabbi Breuer, the Torah is filled with contradictions and multiple perspectives encoded in four distinct documents that were woven together by an editor. It is only that he believes that all of these documents are the word of God and the editor was Moses.
Question 4 – Perfection of the Torah
For example, b. Menachot 29b records a story where Moses goes to the future classroom of Rabbi Akiva and does not understand the Torah he teaches. Moses is so impressed by Akiva that he even asks God why God did not give the Torah to Akiva and not Moses. This story strongly implies that the Sages believed that the Torah Moses understood was something different—even something less—than what the Sages themselves (personified by Rabbi Akiva) understood.
The idea that the Torah can change its meaning and adapt is also implicit in the works of the rishonim who espouse what Moshe Halbertal calls “the constitutive model” of halakha. These major rishonim (Ramban, Ritva, Ran; 13th-14th cent. Spain) believe—with some nuanced differences—that Torah changes and adapts in every generation depending on the interpretation of the Sages.20
The idea that the Torah was designed for its time but would need to adapt and improve over the course of human history has been used to explain a number of mitzvot that different great medieval figures found problematic. One of the most famous examples of this comes from Maimonides’ treatment of sacrifices, where he argues that it would have been better had God abolished them altogether, but they were a necessary form of worship in the biblical period, so God made do with modifying instead of cancelling them (Guide 3:32, 46).21
This position was reiterated by R. Joseph ibn Kaspi as well, in his Gevia’ ha-Kesef,
…most people strive to imitate their forefathers. For this reason Moses in the Torah told us to offer sacrifices, even though in truth they are an abomination.”22
In more recent times, Rav Avraham Kook used this idea to explain the Torah’s sanctioning of slavery. Heargues that the Torah modified slavery to make it as moral as possible, since during biblical times slavery was a key element of society. However, he claims, as the world is perfected over time, slavery will cease to exist (Ein Eiyeh 2, 214-215.). Rav Soloveitchik was purported to have made a similar point with his observation that, “Halacha is a floor not a ceiling.”23
Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm takes a similar approach. In his article dealing with Amalek and the Torah’s requirement to annihilate them all, Rabbi Lamm suggests that Judaism has evolved past that requirement in our day. He calls this idea “developing morality” and suggests that the Torah contains within it the seeds for its own spiritual growth.
It is not, therefore, a matter of judging the Torah from the vantage of our newly acquired “superior” morality. It is not a genuinely novel, historic moral conception that we pit against the Biblical moral tradition, but it is the evolving contemporary consciousness that has encouraged us to rediscover what was always there in the inner folds of the Biblical texts and halakhic traditions. Our moral sensitivity leads us to find warrant in the Torah heritage.24
To continually ask, Which God are we worshipping? Is to introduce a critical catalyst for self-correction. It is to offer a way for individuals and communities to negotiate aspects of the tradition they find problematic, allowing personal subjectivity as a way of both deepening and critically evaluating one’s religious practice. Rather than searching for moral guidance within the legal precedents and exegetical maneuvering of the halakhic library… we must search for it in the image of God our moral conscience desires to learn from and compels us to choose… There is a natural impulse about what is decent and just. We should allow that impulse to surface within our religious system, rather than burying or dismissing it (59-60)…. I hold rather that the more tradition is steeped in the lived reality of the intellectual culture of our time, the more vibrant it becomes, the more it retains our respect (154).
Hartman believes that in order for Torah values to come to light in their purist or most developed form, they must be constantly probed and evaluated by the practitioner’s moral sense. Since ethical norms change over time and differ somewhat from place to place, the morality of the Torah, in Hartman’s system, must by definition adapt.
A similar and perhaps more theologically radical version of the idea that the Torah adapts over time has been put forth by Dr. Tamar Ross, in a theory she calls cumulative revelation.26 In Expanding the Palace of Torah, Ross argues that God’s involvement with the Jewish people is continuous and that the tradition is refined over time (p. 201).
[T]he fluid notion of Torah suggested by these softer conceptions presents the Sinai revelation of God’s word as the initiator of a series of revelations in the form of inspired interpretations throughout the ages. The ideal meaning of the Sinaitic revelation is eked out only with these accumulated interpretations. The various strata are then absorbed as an integral part of the primary text, expanding upon and sometimes even transforming its original meaning…
My approach accepts the Torah in its entirety as the expression of God’s unfolding in history, and revelation as immanent in human activity. Even passages in the Torah which appear problematic to us today, and the historical context which triggers our discontent and moves us to seek new interpretations, are part of that process.
The overall idea of cumulative revelation is that God begins the revelation at the point where the people and prophets can understand it, but the ideas become refined and adapted over time as God “reveals the Torah” to the Jews on a continuing basis.
These are only some illustrations of the variety of answers on the four central questions that I noted above, indicating that there is significant openness and debate rather than a single, sanctioned, official position. This debate continues today, and it is not surprising given how sensitive these matters are, and how close to the core of the religion, that emotions run high. Those of us who want to live in two worlds of wisdom, the secular and the traditional, must continue to explore these questions in an open and honest fashion. Such exploration enhances, rather than detracts from, serious Jewish commitment and observance.
1 Rabbi Dr. Spero received his smicha from Yeshiva Torah Vodaas and his Ph.D. in Jewish thought from Case Western Reserve University. He was the rabbi of Young Israel of Cleveland for many years before moving to Israel and taking a position at Bar Ilan University as Irving Stone Professor of Jewish Thought. See: Shubert Spero, “The Biblical Stories of Creation, Garden of Eden and the Flood: History or Metaphor?” Tradition 33:2 (Winter 1999): 5-18. This idea and other forms of allegorical or ahistorical readings are further explored by Rabbi Dr. Joshua L. Golding, in his article “On the Limits of Non-Literal Interpretation of Scripture from an Orthodox Perspective,” Torah U-Madda Journal 10 (2001): 37-59.
2 “…suppose someone were to come along and say, ‘I suppose they were not history because of x,y,z evidence- would prove they can’t be historical figures’- In this particular case even though I profess a profound degree of uncomfortableness I don’t think the person has crossed the line because I don’t think the historical existence of the avos is compelling or necessary as one of the ikarei haemunah.” Rabbi Nathanial (Nati) Helfgot is a musmach of RIETS (Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary) in Yeshiva University and is the Chair of Bible and Jewish Thought at YCT Rabbinical School. Rabbi Jeremy Wieder is also a musmach of RIETS and is now one of the Roshei Yeshiva there, and holds the Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Chair in Talmud. To be fair, both Rabbi Wieder and Rabbi Helfgot state unequivocally that they themselves do believe in the patriarchs and matriarchs, but are just exploring a hypothetical. Additionally, R. Wieder states that rejecting the historicity of the Sinai event is out of bounds in his opinion, religiously speaking, as well may be rejecting the historicity of the Exodus from Egypt.
3 Much of R. Levi ben Avraham’s magnum opus, the Livyat Chen, has been lost, but large sections exist in manuscripts. Recently, Howard (Chaim) Kreisel has begun publishing the existing pieces, beginning with section three on creation. For more on this debate, see Asher BenZion Buchman’s article “Abraham and Sarah in Provence,” in Hakirah6 (2008): 223-257; Gregg Stern, Philosophy and Rabbinic Culture: Jewish Interpretation and Controversy in Medieval Languedoc (Routledge, 2009).
4 Rabbi Dr. Kula was the Rosh ha-Yeshiva of Ein Tzurim and is currently the rabbi of Kibbutz Alumim as well as the coordinator of Beit Midrash Daroma in Ben Gurion University (where he did his Ph.D. in Jewish thought.) He is a member of both Tzohar and Beit Hillel. For a warm review of his book (in Hebrew), see R. Yuval Cherlow’s post on Musaf Shabbat.
5 המפתח לקבלת התורה כמחייבת היא היותה תורת אלקים; מפתח זה חיוני בין שמעמד הר סיני התרחש ובין שלא התרחש… זהו שורש האמונה ושורש הכפירה: האם האדם מקבל את התורה כתורת אלוקים אם לאו? להיסטוריות המפורטת אין כל השפעה בנקודת מפתח זו.
6 To be fair, Rav Kula states a number of times that he personally believes in all the stories, but that he does not believe that doing so is essential or even important (pp. 75, 171).
7 This last one actually says “The Book of the Torah of God by the hand of Moses.”
8 See Israel Knohl’s, “Between Faith and Critical Scholarship,” originally published in Megadim 33 and available online on Daat.
9 For a translation of Abarbanel’s introduction, see: Eric Lawee, “Don Isaac Abarbanel: Who Wrote the Books of the Bible?” Tradition 30 (1996): 65-73, available here.
10 See the position of R. Shlomo Fisher and others, see discussion in Dr. Marc Shapiro’s post on The Seforim Blog, Torah Mi-Sinai and More.
11 I discuss Ibn Ezra’s views in a post on TheTorah.com, called Ibn Ezra’s Secret. The positions of Yehuda Ha-Chasid, R. Joseph Bonfils, Radak, Ralbag and others will be discussed in future posts.
12 This position is actually debated on the next page of the Talmud (b. Baba Batra 15a).
13 Rabbi Cherlow is the Rosh ha-Yeshiva of Yeshivat Hesder Petach Tikva. He is a graduate of Yeshivat Har Etzion and a retired major in the IDF. After obtaining his smicha, Rabbi Cherlow served as the Rabbi of Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi, and at the Hesder Yeshiva in Chispin. He is among the founders of Tzohar.
14 סבורני שלא תהיה זו כפירה בעיקר לומר שהתורה חלחלה באופן “דיפוזי” בתוך מציאות החיים הישראליים במשך תקופה ארוכה, אולי אף מאות בשנים, דרך אנשי מעלה, יודעי דעת עליון, נביאים, שופטים ומנהיגים שקמו לעם ישראל ולאנושות. אין אפשרות זו מורידה מערכה ה”אלוהי” של התורה, וחשוב לא פחות – אני מאמין שאפשרות זו מסוגלת לשאת על גבה אנרגיה של דת ואמונה תוססת וחיונית. שכן, אף אם אין מקור התורה האלוהית באירוע ההיסטורי של מעמד הר סיני, עדיין כל רכיביה אמת.
15 Rabbi Dr. Solomon was ordained by Jews College and served as a rabbi in a number of congregations in England. He did his Ph.D. in Jewish thought at the University of Manchester, and has taught and done research in a number of academic settings.
17 Rabbi Dr. Soloveitchik (1903-1993), known to many as “the Rav,” was a scion of a rabbinic family and did his Ph.D. in philosophy at Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin. Rav Soloveitchik took over his father’s position as Rosh ha-Yeshiva of RIETS upon the latter’s passing and is considered by many to have been the most influential leader of the Modern Orthodox in the United States.
18 Rabbi Dr. Breuer (1921-2007) was an expert in the masoretic text, and produced the accurate and updated Keter Tanach. He completed his Ph.D. studies at Hebrew University, where he wrote on medieval Ashkenazi yeshivot. He won the Bialik Prize for Jewish thought and the Israel prize for creative research in rabbinic literature.
19 Mordechai Breuer, “The Study of Bible and the Primacy of the Fear of Heaven: Compatibility or Contradiction,” in Modern Scholarship in the Study of Torah (ed. Shalom Carmy; Orthodox Forum; Northvale: Aaronson, 1996), 159-180; Mordechai Breuer, Pirkei Moadot (Jerusalem: Horeb, 1989) [Hebrew].
20 Halbertal’s essays appears in expanded and updated form as the first chapter of his By Way of Truth: Nahmanides and the Creation of Tradition (Jerusalem: Hartman, 2006), 21-76 [Hebrew].
21 Ramban was so disturbed by Rambam’s understanding of sacrifices as a divine concession, that he wrote a lengthy rebuttal in his commentary on Leviticus (1:9), and uses rather harsh language against Rambam, calling his idea foolishness and accusing him of making “God’s table disgusting.”
22 See: Basil Herring, Joseph Ibn Kaspi’s Gevia’ Ha-Kesef (New York: Ktav, 1982), 159.
23 I heard this from a number of people, including a student of R. Walter Wurzberger, in his name.
24 Norman Lamm, “Amalek and the Seven Nations: A Case of Law vs. Morality,” in War and Peace in Jewish Tradition (ed. Lawrence Schiffman and Joel Wolowelsky; Orthodox Forum 16; New York: Yeshiva University Press, 2004), 201-238 [226-227]. R. Dr. Lamm was ordained by RIETS and received his Ph.D. in philosophy from YU’s Revel School. He was the third president of Yeshiva University and served as its chancellor until his retirement in 2013. Rabbi Lamm’s discussion follows in the footsteps of similar approaches such as Rabbi Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein, “Does Jewish Tradition Recognize an Ethic Independent of Halakhah?” in Contemporary Jewish Ethics (ed. Menachem Kellner; Sanhedrin Press, 1978), 102–123; Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn “Legal Floors and Moral Ceilings: a Jewish Understanding of Law and Ethics,” Edah 2:2 (2002); Rabbi Dr. Nahum Rabinovitch, “The Way of Torah,” Edah 3.1 (2003).
25 Rabbi Dr. David Hartman (1931-2013) received his ordination from Yeshiva University and his Ph.D. in philosophy from McGill University. After spending a number of years as a pulpit rabbi in Canada, he moved to Israel and founded the Shalom Hartman Institute. Hartman’s approach is very influenced by that of R. Dr. Emanuel Rackman. See, for example: Emanuel Rackman, Modern Halakha for our Time (Jersey City: Ktav, 1995); Emanuel Rackman, “Halakha: Orthodox Approach,” Encyclopedia Judaica Year Book 1975-76 (ed. Cecil Roth; Jerusalem: Keter, 1976), 134-144 .
26 Dr. Ross is a professor of Jewish philosophy in Bar Ilan University and a teacher in Midreshet Lindenbaum, and is an expert in the thinking of Rav Kook.