Multiple Truths in Halacha and Midrash: Part 2

Delivered at the OU Israel Center, 3 Shevat 5783 / January 25, 2023

Rabbi Manning's series for 2023 has been sponsored לעילוי נשמת ברנה בת בנדית וזליג בן קלמן

In Part 1 we saw some of the foundational sources on the issue of multiple truths in halacha.

  • In particular, we looked at a ‘pluralistic model’ that understands that a multiplicity of truths is inherent in the spiritual reality. This means either that the heavenly world comprises multiple realities which were communicated at Sinai, or that the way in which we received Torah at Sinai was through a prism of multiple and legitimate understandings.
  • This does not of course mean that EVERY understanding is valid, but it does give validity to more than one approach.
  • In this ‘pluralistic’ model, the psak halacha is fixed by the halachic process on earth but this psak could shift to any of the other legitimate multiple truths.
  • In this shiur we will address a very different approach to halachic truth - the ‘monistic model’. This asserts that there is ONE heavenly truth which we try to identify and rule in accordance with. But what if we get it wrong?
  • We will also look briefly at the question of multiple truths in midrashic accounts of ‘what happened’ or ‘facts on the ground’. How can there be more than one truth in such issues?