Torah Ethics and Kefira
There is a Rabbi in the Yeshiva I attend who was asked a question regarding the morals and ethics of the Torah, i.e. enslaving people and how the morals of the Torah are against society and how to cope with that…
The Rabbi responded that he has 2 possible answers to the question. (1. We don’t care about society’s morals, the Torah’s morals are all that matter, so it doesn’t bother me that secular morals are against the Torah, it means that they are immoral and wrong. )
*2. He also said that if the Torah were written nowadays, that it’s possible that the Torah would have different laws, ethics and values based on the time is was written in, and the reason is looks exactly the way it does now is because of when it was written.
(I know that in Rambam’s Moreh Nevuchim he writes that the prohibition “not to cook a kid in its mother’s milk” was to combat certain idolatrous practices of the time. So it seems that the Rambam, at least according to what he said in Moreh Nevuchim(which I know there is a debate about how much it is to be relied on for Hashkafah and whether or not the Rambam really held of those ideas completely or it was just for “the perplexed”…) might have this idea that the Rabbi stated.)
I saw in the Tanya that he writes that really the Torah is the “thoughts and views” of God, and its how we get to know God himself, through this description of what he thinks (and what he is through parable).
Based on this I always understood that when the Rambam has in the 13 ikkarim that the Torah will never be changed etc. I thought it’s because it is impossible to change it, because it describes God and his “thoughts,” not that it’s a chok that it just won’t change. Therefore i thought that the Rabbi’s second answer is not correct.
What is the emes here? If it lies with what I said, would that view of the Rabbi be considered kefirah, as it is against the Rambam’s 13 ikkarim?
-The Perplexed One
One of the essential beliefs of every believing Jew is that the Torah is the eternal word of God, and the only true source of what is moral, ethical and just. Unlike society at large which changes with the times. The Rambam seems to be describing one accessible understandable aspect of some mitzvos, but certainly not the end all and say all of that mitzvah. So it is incorrect to say the Torah would have been written differently in our times. There is an idea attributed to great Torah minds, that although the Torah is eternal, Hashem in His Wisdom created a situation where certain Torah laws are not practiced on a practical level [such as slavery], and perhaps this was done because this is what He sees fit for our generation. This in itself is a controversial idea, but does not challenge the absolute truth of the Torah.