When Observant People Perceive Themselves as Not Observing Something…

I’m always intrigued when individuals or groups of people who are meticulously observant of some law system – particularly Halakhah – perceive themselves as not observing something even though they understand it to be the law. They are quite observant in general and they acknowledge that the particular practice is the law, but they just but just don’t do that practice. Often, I find that if these people are really listened to and empowered with legal language, they turn out to possess some insight into that law. It’s not that they randomly disregard it; it’s that they intuit that the law is being misinterpreted or misapplied, that it shouldn’t actually be understood as the law, and that if the halls of interpretational power had better-constructed avenues of access, such that more diverse vantage points and experiences were represented, communal perception of Halakhah would be much different.

Aryeh Bernstein, “Seclusion, Intimacy, and Power: Taking the Laws of Yichud Seriously”, Jewschool (18 August 2013) {http://jewschool.com/2013/08/18/30760/seclusion-intimacy-and-power-taking-the-laws-of-yichud-seriously/}

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