Every Day I Write the Book

So I read about TheTorah.org on Tablet Magazine’s website just now.

On the one hand, I want to be impressed and happy. Really, I do. The idea that modern critical analysis of the Tanakh might finally be bubbling its way through more than just the more secular-academic inclined pieces of the “orthodox” Jewish world is exciting.

But, as the article points out (though in slightly saltier language), talking ain’t doing.

Will this be just talk? Or will this have practical, “normative” results? If the effect of this is to have verbal acknowledgement that the Tanakh has been people all along, but we see no changes in “orthodox” practice and belief, then I’m concerned that it’s empty talk.

The article’s discussion of David Weiss Halivni’s work is, I think, a point to consider. Halivni was a professor for quite a long time at JTS–until JTS decided to ordain women. Why was that the dividing line if the Oral and Written Law are the results of human understanding?

Clearly, of course, I’m not going to agree that there is divine inspiration in our tradition’s core canon; I’m a humanist Jew, after all. But it’s not unreasonable to expect to see change along with the adoption of a new approach, and I think the proof will have to be in the pudding.