There seem to be a lot of arguments, especially within Orthodox circles, regarding what is and isn’t a “legitimate” Torah opinion. I find myself increasingly perplexed in face of these discussions. In a social reality where everyone chooses for themselves what, how, when to do things and the concept of identity so individualized and fluid, what relevance does the term ‘legitimate’ even have any more with regard to religious belief and practice (other than societal association)?
You may say – the discussion is “what is Halachically legitimate”. Here too, the variety of opinions on so many major issue are so great that – (and this is a key element in this argument) without a Sanhedrin or other centralized Halachik authority – the term seems to loose its meaning.
There are attempts to draw general lines between those who are “out” and those who are “in” but that, too, is an illusion – depending on who you ask, the border of the consensus shifts drastically.
If Rav Nachman said that people who learn Guide to the Perplexed “have an image of idol worship on their face”, Rav Elchanan Vaserman said that Religous Zionism is “joint idol worship” (עבודה זרה בשיתוף), Rav Shach called Chabbad a “cult similar to Judaism” and in return was identified as a force of ‘The Other Side’ (סיטרא אחרא) and let’s not even start on what some rabbis – through the ages – said about Kabbala, I find it futile to speak of a consensus.
Even Rambam’s 13 principles of faith have been disputed and interpreted to such extent that make them mute as a binding creed and the Shulchan Aruch expounded upon to the point that we no longer have (if we ever did) a unifying code of normative practice.
One can argue for or against this reality but it does little good to act as if there is still such a thing as “THE Halacha” or “THE Jewish opinion”.
Even if many Torah Jews (think they) have escaped post modernism, Torah and Judaism have not. (250+90)