*CLASSICAL SOURCES FOR THE FLEXIDOXIC RELATIONAL NATURE OF HALACHAH (Jewish Law)*
From a pamphlet Compiled and Translated by Rabbi Gershon Winkler, published by Walking Stick Foundation, www.walkingstick.org/
"You shall not add to or subtract from these words that I instruct you" (Deuteronomy 4: 2 and 13: 1).
The People of the Book always perceived the God Word as fluid, as dynamic. After all, it originates in the Infinite, and
is therefore more like a seed than a final product, more "like wheat from which to derive fine flour, or like flax from
which to create fine garments" (Midrash Tana C'Bei Eliyahu Zuta, Ch. 2). It is not the final word. No one party in a
relationship has the last and absolute word. And as Judaism sees Creator as being in relationship with the Creation, the final
word lies in the mutual dynamics of that relationship: "Even the Celestial Court engages God in dispute over halachah"
(Babylonian Talmud, Baba Mezia 86a).
"There is a time to do for God, they have made void your Torah" (Psalms 119: 126) -- This means that the wise
one, in accordance with what he perceives reguarding his time and situation, has been given authorization to cross over the
boundaries of the norm, and also to overturn some of the precepts of the Torah based on the circumstances of the times and
for the moment, as you see Eliyahu the nah'vee (Prophet) had done at Mount Carmel, offering a sacrifice there when it was
forbidden to do so outside of the Holy Temple, but he did it because "There is a time to do for God" in order to
correct the errors of the Baal-worshippers and to bring the masses back to Torah... And so, in every generation, permission
is granted to the insightful one and to the student of Torah, to bring to the surface a whole new understanding of the teachings
of the Torah, whether this new insight be applicable to him personally or to his disciples, or even for the entire generation
of his time, or even for future generations of other times... (13th-century Rabbi Meir M'iri in his introduction to his commentary
on the Talmud: Bet HaBechirah).
In everything that one might study of matters other than Torah there can be nothing new about it. One will then only be
exploring and discovering that which already existed from the time of the creation of the world. But in studying Torah one
will always be discovering new meanings, as is taught in the Talmud (Eruvin 54b): "It is written, 'Her breasts will satisfy
you each time' [Proverbs 5: 19] -- this means that just like a suckling child will find fresh flavor each time the child nurses
at the breast, so too, will one who pores over the teachings of the Torah" (11th-century Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzchak (Rashi)
on Ecclesiastes 1: 9).
Could Mosheh (Moses) actually have been taught the Torah in its entirety in only forty days? Not at all. Rather, the Holy
Blessed One taught him only general guidelines (3rd-century Rabbi Avahu in Midrash Sh'mot Rabbah 41: 6).
Asked the Sages of France (11th century), how can the ruling of both parties be the Word of God when this one permits
and this one forbids? And they answered with the following midrash (sermon): When Mosheh ascended the mountain to receive
the Torah, the Holy Blessed One demonstrated to him concerning every commandment 49 different angles (literally "faces")
from which a matter might be declared forbidden and 49 angles from which a matter might be declared permitted. And he asked
the Holy Blessed One about this, and God said: "This knowledge shall be transmitted to the spiritual teachers in every
generation so that the decision on any matter shall be theirs" (13th-century Rabbi Yom Tov ben Avraham Isbili (Ritva)
on the Babylonian Talmud, Eruvin 13b).
Had the Torah been given already sliced (Rashi: with its laws already set and absolutized and void of any process of learning
to one side of an issue or the other), no leg would have anything to stand on (Rashi: the world could not survive, because
the Torah requires us to interpret her many faces this way and that, and both these and those are the Words of the Living
God)... Said Moses to the Holy Blessed One: "Teacher of the Universe! Show me how the halachah is determined (Rashi:
so that there will be no question about the application of any of the laws." But God then said to him: "That is
impossible, because the Torah requires us to interpret her many faces this way and that, and if I disclose to you the final
halachah the Torah would then never be interpreted based on her many faces), for there are 49 ways of interpreting the Torah
so that a thing is rendered impure, and 49 ways of interpreting the Torah so that a thing is rendered pure" (2nd-century
Rabbi Yannai, in Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 4: 2).
If a decision of mine shall ever come before you and you find yourself in disagreement with it, do not nullify it without
first consulting me. If I can defend my ruling, I will do so, and if I cannot defend it, I will retract it. After I die, do
not nullify any of my rulings, but neither shall you draw conclusions from them for questions arising from similar situations.
Do not nullify my decisions because if I were alive I could perhaps defend them. And do not draw conclusions from them for
similar situations because the individual judge can only decide based on what his eyes perceive (4th-century Rava, to his
disciples, in Babylonian Talmud, Baba Batra 130b).
When Rabbi Eliezer ben Shamua (2nd century) was being led to his execution, his disciples asked him: "Master, what
do you see?" Said he: "I see the bier of Rabbi Yehudah ben Bava being carried alongside the bier of Rabbi Akiva
ben Yosef, and they are arguing over a question of halachah" (Babylonian Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 23a).
The rabbis decreed that since everyone is obligated to blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah and not everyone knows how, it
may not be blown if the festival falls on the Sabbath, lest people will go about seeking teachers to coach them and thus end
up carrying (the shofar) in the public domain on the Sabbath, which is forbidden... Once, when Rosh Hashanah fell on the Sabbath,
the surrounding communities gathered in Yav'neh. Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai then said to the sons of B'teirah: "Let us
blow the shofar on behalf of the people." Said they: "Let us clarify the law first (because it has recently been
decreed as forbidden)" Said he: "Let us blow the shofar first, and then we will clarify the law." They blew
the shofar all over Yav'neh. Afterwards, the sons of B'teirah came to him and said: "Now let us clarify the law."
Said he: "The sound of the horn has already been heard all across Yav'neh, and it is inappropriate to determine what
the law is after the fact" (Babylonian Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 29b).
Why do we record the opinions of the minority when, after all, the final rulings follow the opinions of the majority?
So that in the event a future rabbinic court sees a need to apply in their rulings the opinions of the minority, they will
have a precedence from which to draw their verdict (Babylonian Talmud, Edi'ot 1: 5 and Tosef'ta Edi'ot 1: 2).
And even though the opinions of the minority were not accepted by the early ones, and the majority did then not rule according
to them, still, if in a future generation a majority will see the need to apply the opinions of the earlier minorities for
their time and situation, the law becomes then like their ruling. For the Torah of Moses was taught with many perspectives
rendering something impure and with just as many perspectives rendering it pure... "and all points of view are the Words
of the Living God" (12th-century Rabbi Shimshon ben Avraham [Tos'fot Shantz] on above).
There will always arise situations in which vetoed opinions will find their place of application (18th-century Rabbi Yaakov
Emden in Mig'dal Oz, Hilchot Yoledet).
The ways of the ancestors do not resemble those of the descendants, nor do the ways of the descendants resemble those
of the ancestors (Babylonian Talmud, Baba Batra 120a).
Every mitzvah and every word of the Torah has its age in which it can and ought to be revealed anew and manifested (16th-century
Rabbi Moshe Cordovero in Shi'ur Komah, Ch. 41).
In the time to come (the Days of the Messiah), the commandments will be abolished (4th-century Rabbi Yosef, in Babylonian
Talmud, Nidah 61b).
In the time to come (the Days of the Messiah) the Holy Blessed One shall permit that which was forbidden (Midrash Tehilim
on Psalm 146: 7).
Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi (3rd-century) tried to abolish Tisha B'Av -- the annual day of fasting and mourning over the Temple's
destruction -- or at least to disregard the day altogether whenever it coincided with the Sabbath rather than make up for
it on the following day (Jerusalem Talmud, Taanit 4: 6 [22b] and Yebamot 6: 6 [30b).
Matters of Torah were revealed to Rabbi Akiva that had not been revealed even to Mosheh (3rd-century Rabbi Yo'see bar
Chanina in Midrash BaMidbar Rabbah 19: 4).
Behold, not every interpretive teaching which the Sages derived from the Torah was a halachah that originated in the Revelation
to Mosheh at Sinai (12th-century Rabbi Moshe ibn Maimon [Maimonides]
in Sefer HaMitzvot L'HaRambam, Shoresh Shey'ni).
Four decrees did Mosheh ordain upon the Israelites. Then came four [later] prophets and abolished them. Mosheh had said:
"[When you do the Will of God, you shall be called] Yisra'el [and you] shall dwell in safety, [but if you do not do the
Will of God] the Wellspring of Ya'acov shall be all alone" (Deut. 33: 28). But then came Ahmos and abolished Mosheh's
decree and said: "How shall Ya'acov withstand [such a stipulation]?" and subsequently it is written: "And God
withdrew [the decree]" (Amos 7: 2-3 & 5-6). Mosheh had said: "And among those nations [where you shall be exiled]
you will find no respite" (Deut. 28: 65). But then came Yir'miyahu and abolished this decree and said: "Thus says
God, 'To the people Yisra'el, who have been driven by the sword, I shall go to them and grant them repose'" (Jeremiah
31: 1). Mosheh had said: "God collects from the children for the sins of the parents" (Exodus 34: 7). But then came
Y'chezk'el and abolished this decree and said: "The son whose father has sinned shall not die for the wrongs of his father;
he shall surely live! Only the one who commited the wrong shall die for it" (Ezekiel 18: 14-20). Mosheh had said: "And
you shall be lost among the nations and the land of your enemy shall swallow you up" (Leviticus 26: 38). But then came
Yeshayahu and abolished this decree and said (Isaiah 27: 13): "And then shall come forth all who have been lost in the
land of Ashur and who have been exiled into the Land of Egypt" (3rd-century Rabbi Yo'see bar Chanina in Babylonian Talmud,
Makkot 24a. Bracketed parts based upon the commentary of the Mahar'sha).
One should not serve God like those who perform out of rote; therefore do not blindly follow in the [religious] ways of your
teacher or of your parents [rather, everyone must find their own Path to God]" (19th-century Rabbi Mordechai Yosef of
Ishbitz in Mei HaShilo'ach, Vol. 2, Yitro 16b).
If a scholar pronounces [an innovation in] halachah, we do not make him retract his opinion; we do not reject him; we
do not admonish him; we do not accuse him of being prideful (Babylonian Talmud, Chulin 6b-7a. Bracketed annotation based on
the commentary of Rashi and Rabbeinu Gershom).
And even though I am not worthy to quarrel with the greats of the earlier sages, nevertheless the Torah was placed at
a corner junction [i. e. within everyone's reach], and proofs that are lucid will stand on the strength of their own evidence
and will be justified. And truth will show its own way (17th-century Rabbi Shab'tai HaKohain [Shach] on Shulchan Aruch, Choshen
Mishpat 91: 33).