As the blogosphere has generated a number of posts about the World Jewish Congress' delegation of about 30 or so cardinals and bishops involving their stop off at YCT, I figured I would hop in, as well (there are three primary sources: the posting at the YCTChevre blog, Steven I. Weiss' posting at the Canonist, and the Forward article and so far, I have found a few other blog references: On The Main Line, who calls it a kiddush haShem, Harry Mayles at Emes ve-Emunah, who thought it stepped over theological boundaries, some Hoffman guy at On The Contrary (this last one is a bit strange, though), as well as "Ricky Ricardo"). My experience of the event wasn't something of a theological or philosophical debate or something of a huge scale, but rather it was significant to me for another reason: I got to brush up on my French. Yeah, I studied French in high school and a semester in college, but have since been doing a lot of forgetting of it (very unintentionally), so this was an excellent opportunity for me to work on it. While I definitely didn't do so well French-speaking-wise, fortunately, there was a YCT guy who had grown up in Montreal who was around to help me. It was also good to learn a few things about these guys, plus, as they don't often interface with Jews, it was good to have a positive meeting with them.
As I've noticed throughout the JBlogosphere, there seems to be a bit of a lack of information about the event. As such, I figured, while I was at Ben's wedding today, that I would ask Rabbi Weiss (who was the מסדר קידושין - organizer of the wedding rituals) about the event. When I asked him regarding the Rav's famous article, he had said that it was a statement on public policy and not on halakhah. As such, public policy issues are to be measured at that time, weighing the various social and other considerations. As far as meeting with them, it certainly wasn't a theological debate, where each side would be trying to convince the other of the correctness of their beliefs. Actually, it was hardly even a theological discussion, but more of a schmoozing, than anything else. So, that takes care of the Rav's article, etc. Rabbi Weiss also shared with me that the Rav was leery of the Second Vatican Council and how sincere they were. He said that things actually got to a shaky point in the eighties, part of which was his fault (he said he had protested the convent at Auschwitz, and he also protested in the Vatican and subsequently got arrested), but since then, things have gotten better. As to the learning Talmud with them (we learned Berakhos 26b, which I have mentioned earlier on my blog), he said that there are some people out there with that שיטה (viewpoint) that one is not allowed to teach gentiles the oral Torah, but that's not how he sees it.
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Tags: Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, YCT, Rabbi Avi Weiss, Jews and Catholics