Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Orthodoxy Test #5: The Gedolim

The Gedolim are

a) nearly perfect examples of pious devotion to God
b) holy men, but they have some faults
c) smart rabbis who know Torah but shouldn't be looked at for guidance in other things
d) well meaning scholars often out of their depth
e) crazy old rabbis
f) Leave this question out of my results

Obviously, it depends on whom one is defining as "the Gedolim." I assume that the test intends the connotation the word has in the idiom of the Slifkin debates, namely, the group that signed the ban on the three Slifkin books (see the posters accessible from for their identities), plus some others judged to be in league with them. As I wrote recently to a rabbi with whom I'm corresponding, I know these people not personally, but by reputation only. Their reputation, as it has reached me, corresponds pretty well to (b) and (c): they are holy men, they have faults (that's hardly surprising: I think Tanach tells us to expect that.... Oh, I forgot, we don't learn Tanach; but I'm sure it's in the Gemara anyway), they're smart rabbis who know Torah, and they're not necessarily experts on everything else (like Captain Salamander's example of home renovations). I chose (b), because I got the impression that (c) is intended to imply that these Gedolim are smart, but not necessarily wise or in other ways holy men - basically, just Torah academics. I think there's more to them than just brains and scholarship (many of them, anyway).

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