This is my attempt at blogging. I'm still learning about the blogging world, and this is my own personal study hall.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Turning My Stomach

I just read a thread on another blog, which pertained to Da'as Torah. Da'as Torah (lit. knowledge of Torah) is essentially the idea that someone steeped in Torah has an inherent understanding of how the world functions, and therefore is a suitable (and according to some, preferrable) source for advice on one's regular-life issues. In other words, the translation of "Knowledge of Torah" should be understood, not as "the knowledge a person has of Torah" but as "the knowledge that is contained within Torah" or "the knowledge that Torah has".

By the way, if anyone is wondering, no this is not a twisting of what some ancient phrase means. It is certainly something that our ancient ancestors likely did, as do any religious people of any faith. You want to do things in a spiritually wholesome way, and so you see your spiritual leader for advice. This is nothing new and there is nothing wrong with it. The phrase "Da'as Torah", however, to the best of my knowledge, is a modern one, and does mean what it is being used for. But there seems to be a recent push and extension of the principal in certain circles. There is a mindset in certain parts of certain communities that Da'as Torah is the only way to go, and that thinking on your own is dangerous.

I don't like this.

It literally started making me nauseous as I was reading it. I have friends who are very spiritually wholesome people, and who I'm sure rely on Da'as Torah as one of many sources of advice for all sorts of life's issues. I myself rely on it from time to time as one of many sources of advice.

I think Da'as Torah is ultimately valid and worth seeking, as are the opinions of anyone who is experienced and/or wise, however it is not infallible, nor is it always necessary to try to get. People need to make their own choices and decisions, and people are not bound by any advice they get, from any source.

Some sources have earned more consideration than others. My parents' opinion is worth more to me than a drunk college buddy's. An expert in a particular field deserves to be heard over a layman. And a rabbi can offer an opinion worth considering, even about something not related to Torah study or Kashruth, etc. But that doesn't mean I have to listen to what the rabbi, OR my parents, OR the expert have to say. Sometimes the layman can have a spark of inspiration that none of the others had, and sometimes the drunk college buddy can wax philosophic and be insightful.

My point is, you can get advice from any source, and let's not get all worked up over validity of a source of advice, and take every word of advice for what it's worth, and consider it and make your own decision. But that's just my opinion, and you don't have to agree, even though I'm right.


Blogger Jewboy said...

Wise words. You're correct that dass Torah is being extended too far. It's dangerous to allow someone else to totally make a life decision for you, besides for the fact that it erodes a person's ability to think through issues themselves.

9:42 AM


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