Friday, November 11, 2005

R-r "R & R" - Re-reading 'Rupture and Reconstruction"

Following the discussion on this blog (here, here and here), and as indicated in one of the Comments, I have just re-read Dr. Haym Soloveitchik's classic 1994 essay "Rupture and Reconstruction". From here, it downloads as 44 pages. I probably have not read it closely, beginning to end, for at least five or six years.

1. On re-reading, it is a truly brilliant, original tour de force.
2. In addition to the central "mimetic vs. text" thesis, the essay is rich in interpretation of socio-religious process.
3. The comments of Dr. Judith Bleich, referred to by several commenters, apply to a page or so in 44 pages - carefully prefaced by the author as the most subjective of his observations, and offered only as personal impressions, rather than documented argument. I do not see that Dr. Bleich's comments (also somewhat incidental to the essay of hers in which they appear) challenge the central theses of the article, still less challenge its credibility in any way. Also, it should be noted that in footnote #19 Dr. Soloveitchik deals with the issue of the influence of baalei teshuvah (which he discounts, and explains why). Some commenters seemed to imply that he does not deal with the issue at all.
4. The essay, written in 1994, cites "the telephone, newspapers and cassettes" as constituting the communications revolution which universalizes the world of halachah! Al achat kama v'chama the internet and today's satellite video links and other far more powerful and far faster communications.
5. I would suggest another quite significant medium - the weekly handouts now universal in synagogues in Israel and throughout N America. Apart from deserving a study in their own merits, as I commented somewhere in this week's discussion, they all contain weekly halachah notes.

Any way, I strongly recommend anyone interested in our discussion (er, let alone thos e who have been contributing to it!) to download 'R & R" and (re-)read it. And thanks to bloghead readers for a very interesting dialogue this week. Shabbat shalom.

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