The "radical intellectual freedom" of halachah
The positive attitude to controversy so frequently encountered in the halakhic sources, is an acknowledgment, whether intended or not, of the value of free expression and intellectual creativity. It affirms that no substantive constraints should be imposed upon participants in discussions of the law, as long as they are willing to abide by the formal rules of etiquette and procedure. This is by no means a trivial point: respect and reverence, though critical, are not meant to impact the substance of new ideas being put forward, but only the mode of their presentation. The often-heard allegation that Jewish law, in upholding traditional modes of exegesis, and in constantly consulting preeminent texts and authorities, precludes substantive halakhic innovation, is altogether erroneous. Indeed, only by appreciating the role of form in the halakhic dialogue, can participants appreciate, and, it is hoped, take full advantage of, the radical intellectual freedom it embraces.

So say the authors of this book, on which more later.

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