Traveling.  So a shorter (and later) post than usual.

 

Torah Portion:Shoftim

Summary

The Torah relates that if there is a debate on a matter of law, that the parties should go to Jerusalem and have the issue decided.  If the scholar whose opinion was not accepted returns to his city and instructs others to follow his ruling, then he should be put to death (Deut 17:12)

The Seforno quotes the Talmud that makes a distinction between on “teaching in order to do” and simply “teaching”.  In other words, the scholar is allowed to continue to teach his opinion, however from that point on he is not allowed to instruct others to follow this opinion.

Questions

What does this law tell us about the ability for a sage to retain his personal understanding of the law?

Is there a purpose to retaining his own opinion, beyond simply keeping track of rejected opinions?

Why is there a distinction between what is practiced and what one is allowed to think?

Answers

I am open to any ideas.  I think that God wants us to have our own personal outlooks, but in terms of practice we need to be unified.  This passage, and its implications, would seem to define the boundaries of Jewish thought.  Enjoy thinking about it!

 

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