Saturday, June 7, 2008

Another side of R' Avraham Shirman - His shiurim at YU

I was in the Katz Kollel at YU when the now famous/notorious R' Avraham Shirman visited during the fall/winter of 1997 to deliver a series of shiurim. At the time, he was head of Tel Aviv's chief rabbinical court. Today, of course, he is head of Israel's highest rabbinical court, and is now engaged, it sometimes seems, in churning the waters of Israeli jurisprudence by issuing as many controversial decisions as he can before being shown the door.

This past Shabbos I came across the mareh mekomos [source references] from some of those shiurim [I never get rid of anything], and found his choice of topic noteworthy, if somewhat ironic given current events.

The title for the series was:
חוקי יסוד זכויות אדם לאור תורת ישראל ומשפטיה ופסיקת בתי הדין בישראל
The Basic Law of the Rights of Man, by the light of the Torah and its laws, and the decisions of Israeli courts

[Note: You can find the text of the Basic Law here.]

In his series of shiurim, R' Shirman delineates the halachic view of the honor/rights due every person due to his basic personhood, the question of interference with another person's rights, the right to freedom and to not be detained, the power of the government to create laws regarding human rights, and the role of a halachic court which must deal with the Basic Law.

The references are interesting, displaying a fascinating breadth and depth. For example, here is the list for the first shiur (which also referenced an article R' Shirman had written in תורה שבעל פה):
Iyyov 31:13-15, Metzudat Dovid 31:15
Yerushalmi Bava Kama 8:4
Bereishit Rabbah Vayyera 48:3
Hilchot Avadim 9:8
Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah Hilchot Avadim 267:17
Shaarei Yosher of R' Shimon Shkop Shaar Chamishi Perek Aleph
Kehillot Yaakov to Bava Kama 1
Sefer haYereim HaShalem 424
לשון ריא"ז in Shiltei Giborim Succah 3:2
Chiddushei Chatam Sofer to Succah 30b
Magen Avraham 637:1
Chiddushei R' Shimon Shkop to Bava Kama 5:3
And then a psak din of the Beit Din haRabbani of Tel Aviv - which was his court at the time.

I must admit that I was never the best at sitting in a shiur; although I had the chance to learn from many outstanding talmidei chachamim, in my shortsighted youth I much preferred to learn on my own. Therefore, it comes as no surprise to me that I can't remember anything about the shiurim themselves.

Nonetheless, I hope to make some time over the next few weeks to look over these mareh mekomos carefully; I wonder what he had to say on these rather fraught subjects.

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