A guest post by Y. Bloch
I say this with a heavy heart, but I think... that I may have to defend... Cross-Currents.
Hush, now, I can hear your boos from the future. This latest controversy over the writings of Rabbi Dr. Zev Farber, yadin yadin, at TheTorah.com has already been addressed on his site by DovBear and Mark Pelta, as well as by Rabbi E. Fink and others elsewhere. Still, I do feel the need to add my two cents, or rather fifty shekels.
About three weeks ago, David Staum posted here: "Devarim 22: a rapist required to marry his victim?" Currently, R. Farber is reworking his own approach to this passage, which originally appeared in his multitudinous survey (Part 4). Cross-Currents still has the original draft (in R. Avrohom Gordimer's "Torah Min-Hashamayim: A Reply to Rabbi Nati Helfgot") though, and it goes like this:
Fine, fair enough. I have argued the same. There are certainly those on the right of Orthodoxy who would differ, but I'm with him so far. Then he goes on:The Oral Torah explanation proffered by the rabbis, i.e. that all of the practices not found in the Bible were either told to Moses directly at Sinai or are derived from midrashic reading of text, does not even begin to realistically address the religious changes Judaism has gone through in a believable way.
Prophecy does not come as a verbal revelation from God to the prophet, but as a tapping into the divine flow. Even while channeling the divine wrath against the injustice of the rape, the Deuteronomic prophet (i.e. the author of Deuteronomy) was still a human being, his scope remains limited by education and social context. The prophet could not reasonably be expected to work towards correcting faults he did not see. Nevertheless, the injustice of the rape and the consequences to the girl and her family were things that he could see. This is what he worked to correct.
The law of the rapist is actually an example of a human mind tapping into the divine flow—albeit in a way limited by his own societally determined biases…