Monday, May 01, 2006

Super Sanhedrin to the Rescue?

I've heard a number of different Orthodox rabbis and teachers claim that when the Sanhedrin is reconstituted, they will have the power to make broad sweeping changes in halakhic reality. One person, a Jewish legal scholar, identifies the lack of a Sanhedrin (and therefore the lack of a living legal system) as the greatest tragedy of galut (exile). Someone else my brother has expressed this idea as Orthodoxy's ideal being Conservatism — the only practical difference between the two movements is that they believe that they have power over Halakha that we believe you need a Sanhedrin for.

The Arutz Sheva Sanhedrin doesn't seem interested in making any positive changes in the state of Jewish Law. All I've seen them do so far is declare individuals officially Noahides, seemingly so that going around killing all the other, non-explictily Noahide, Non-Jews in the area wouldn't be a 'legal problem'.

A distinguished rabbi I know once claimed that one of the first things a reconstituted Sanhedrin would probably do is improve the status of women in Halakha. I wish that were the case, but I doubt it. So much mental and physical effort has gone on in the Orthodox world to justify inegalitarianism as God's ideal for what Jewish society should look like that I can't see any but the most left-leaning Modern Orthodox Sanhedrin members pushing for such a legal change.

What do you think a reconstituted Sanhedrin should deal with?
(and do you think it's likely?)


Anonymous Mike Koplow said...

I don't know if we're likely to get a sanhedrin, but I shudder when I hear otherwise reasonable people say that's just what we need. I have no reason to think that a sanhedrin would give us anything other than the Jewish equivalent of the Iranian Mo'etzet ha-Gedolim. B"H Israel is a secular state.

5/01/2006 6:42 PM  
Blogger ADDeRabbi said...

where to begin? the entire thing will be reinvented. i can't wait.

5/01/2006 8:05 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

If Israel gets a Sanhedrin, what is the imitative Goyishe equivalent? "The Council of Born-Again Fundy Sages"?

I doubt that I'm alone in prefering the tumult of many voices. On either side of the JuChr. divide.

Iran, however, has religious harmony. Such a blessing.

5/01/2006 8:20 PM  
Blogger Brooklyn Habiru said...

“Orthodoxy's ideal being Conservatism — the only practical difference between the two movements is that they believe that they have power over Halakha that we believe you need a Sanhedrin for.”

Difference being is that the Conservative movement believes that abrogation of the Torah is permissible so long as it is agreed upon - effectively creating a system in which amendments are made to the Torah itself . Within Orthodoxy there is no mechanism nor attempt to do such.

“What do you think a reconstituted Sanhedrin should deal with?”

I think the primary objective initially should be making an attempt to bridge the gaps between Orthodoxies as well as gathering public support. I believe they should also work on creating definitive and final guidelines on:
- Resolving the issue of Agunos
- Deciding wether Sepia officinalis or Murex trunculus is the true heir to being Techeiles
- Organ donation and brain-stem death
- Korban Pesach in the modern state

סנהדרין – בית דין גדול של 71

The Sanhedrin


5/01/2006 10:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to see the take care of the whole, "thou shall not boil a chicken in its mother's milk thing." That, and the ongoing confusion between prepared mustard and bread flour at Pesach.

5/01/2006 11:51 PM  
Anonymous big brother said...

"Somebody" said that Orthodox ideal = Conservatism thing? I wonder who.

I would hope that a Sanhedrin would concern itself with dignity and justice, to bring our calcified Judaism back in line with the injunctions of the Neviim and Torah..

- Women's powerlessness in many areas of law
- Homosexuality and Transgender
- Status of non-idolatrous non-Jews
- Real agricultural and political halachot

5/02/2006 12:04 AM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

I'd love to see them clarify to people that chumros are not halacha. That alone would go a long way to bridging the gaps between sections of Orthodoxy.

5/02/2006 3:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're not quite there yet

"The Nasi has indicated that the Beis din would WAIT until the best scholars of Eretz Yisroel were represented on the Beis din before beginning to fully function halachically as the Sanhedrin of old. Until then the Beis din would be referred to as the nascent Sanhedrin or the developing Sanhedrin, or simply the Beis din of 71."

5/02/2006 3:24 AM  
Blogger BZ said...

They need to not intercalate one out of every ~6000 years, in order to solve the small but significant error in the calendar (1 day every ~200 years) that causes the holidays to drift later and later (so that, in 20,000 years, Pesach will be in July).

(Anything else can be done without a Sanhedrin.)

5/02/2006 7:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can someone clarify the specific types of halachik rulings that one must have a Sanhedrin for?
-sarah m

5/03/2006 11:16 AM  

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