Monday, September 3, 2012
Messianic Halacha: To Codify or Not to Codify...Question 34
It seems to me that the Torah communicated precisely that which could be communicated in writing and nothing more, implying that anything left indefinite was meant to be supplied with a flexible tradition. However, my thinking is at odds with Rabbinic Judaism...sort of. Rabbinic Judaism admits that the Oral Torah, ideally, should've been left alone as a pluralistic, oral tradition. And they'd probably agree with me that, in addition to being an oxymoron, the Talmud has the following WEAKNESSES:
(1) impractical (as evidenced by the presence of law codes such as Shulchan Aruch and Mishneh Torah), an idea best expressed in Ecc 12:12, "My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh";
(2) confusing (as evidenced the genre of endless Talmudic commentaries);
(3) inefficient (as evidenced by the historical fact that the original oral tradition was transmitted orally);
(4) un-democratic (as opposed to the oral transmission method which resulted in each layman being a master of the oral tradition).
But they'd also say that it was necessary to codify due to the overriding threat that all tradition could've been lost post-70 C.E. And they say that since it has been established then it carries the force of law (albeit, a law that is open to interpretation).
Are there any STRENGTHS to having a codified oral tradition? Well, I wouldn't call it a strength but there is a POSSIBILITY that the codification ensured that the oral tradition was not lost. I'm not sure I agree but this is the common understanding. Although, it seems to me that the advantages of a written oral tradition would've been outweighed by the confusion brought on by eliminating the back and forth, give and take, question and answering process of the oral tradition.
However, allowing Messianic halacha to remain un-codified would be a threat. It would mean implicitly allowing the non-Messianic community to have authority over the Messianic educational sphere.
So let's open it up for discussion:
What are the pros/cons of codifying Messianic halacha?
Posted by Peter at 6:07 AM