XGH links to the previous post and seems to think I am confused, as I am simultaneously a fundamentalist (his description), yet cannot abide Shafran’s apologetics. I’ve been trying to think of a good way to explain the paradox and I think I’ve got it. Imagine you are brought by a master engineer, the world’s greatest engineer, to see a beautiful new bridge constructed across a river, an engineering feat no one thought possible. “Great”, you say to your engineer buddy, “Let me see the plans to see how you figured this out.” While reviewing the plans you come across an equation crucial to the whole system that boils down to read 2+2=5. Now, you think to yourself, this just can’t be. The bridge is obviously standing, so the plans must make sense. Yet, you know 2+2 cannot equal 5. Your engineer buddy has gone home and left you alone so you can’t ask him. What do you do?
The Shafran et al solution is convince yourself that 2+2 really is equal to 5. If you keep at it long enough eventually you can convince yourself that forcing women to ride in the back of the bus empowers them (article), it is morally OK to cheat on taxes (post), and evolution=belief in randomness, randomness=safeik, gematriya of safeik=amalek, QED that evolution=amalek (article). None of these are part of halacha, but once you are convinced 2+2=5 works in one context, why not in another?
I think a far better approach is spelled out by Rabbi Dov Linzer in a quote trashed in the recent Yated article bashing YCT. Linzer wrote, “As an Orthodox Jew, I have to struggle not just with G-d ’s presence in the world, but with His commandments as well. Some of these do not seem to square with a good, just G-d. The command to destroy Amalek and the Canaanite nations, the death penalty for one who… [engages in toeiva], the inability of a woman to terminate a failed marriage—to pretend that these are not profound problems or that they are consistent with G-d’s goodness is, for me, not an option. I choose to take the path of Yisrael, to face these problems and to struggle with them…”
I’m not a big fan of YCT for other reasons (I’m still a fundie after all), but Linzer gets it exactly right. 2+2 does not equal 5. Period, full stop. Black cannot be white, left cannot be right. I know some of you are going to pull out the old “lo tasur” Rashi that “afilu omrim lecha al yemin shehu s’mol”(to explain why that is a misunderstanding see the Ramban’s hashaga on p. 14 of Sefer haMitzvos for starters, but it would take an entire post to reply in detail.) Yated in their critique accuses Rabbi Linzer of second-guessing G-d, which is ludicrous. Second guessing G-d would be like refusing to cross the bridge until you understood how the engineer worked everything out, or tinkering with things until they met your own design specifications, potentially ruining the original plans in the process. What Yated cannot fathom is the paradox of being able to have enough faith to confidently and unquestioningly cross the bridge, yet intellectually being honest enough to acknowledge questions that elude understanding without resorting to simplistic apologetics or distortions of moral and intellectual truth. Superficial palliatives are no substitute for that type of faith.