Belief and rabbinic interpretation part 2
(see part I below)
Lets start with not saying amen to a blessing by a heretic.
R. Yosef Karo follows the Rambam and says(S.A. 215.2)
One who hears a Jew recite any of the blessings...must say amen. But if the one who recites the blessing is an apikoros, a Samaritan, or a minor(who is practicing) or an adult who alters the fixed form of the blessing, one does not respond amen.
R. Moshe Isserles adds:
One responds amen to an idolator if one heard the entire blessing from his mouth.
The basis for these statements is in Mishna Brachot:
One responds amen to a Jew who blesses, but one does not respond amen to a Samaritan(kuti) who blesses, unless one hears the entire blessing(this is in response to berachot nehenin("enjoyment bracha") the wording in the Tosefta(3.26) is similar but there the discussion is on the brachot of the Amida)
The Rambam and the Shulchan aruch go against this, but the Tur, paskens according to this mishna. The Vilna Gaon wrote:
These words(or R. Yosef Karo) indicate that one should not respond amen to a Samaritan, even if one heard the entire blessing. All this is simply astonishing. It seems to me necessary to conclude that there is a scribal error in Rambam. For the law is perfectly clear that one responds amen when one hears teh entire blessing from a Samaritan, and even part of a blessing from a Jew. But the ruling of Rambam..simply cannot be explained. (Biur HaGR'A, OH 215.2 s.v. v'onin)
(Most of this is obviously not my scholarly work, I will be happy to provide a reference on request. R. Moshe Feinstein extends the rule of not saying amen to the brachot of conservative and reform rabbis, but that is a discussion for another day)
The conclusion of the Mishna, Gemara, Tosefta, Vilna Gaon, Tosfot Yom Tov, Tur and others is that one does say amen to a bracha of a Samaritan. How can this be? Does the Samaritan not hold heretical beliefs? The answer it seems to me is in the bracha. If you hear the entire bracha, it is the bracha that counts, not the beliefs. The problem with the shechita by a sectarian would now seem to be not that the intent is wrong, but the worry that it would not be done according to code. Therefore, the problem is not that the person is a sectarian, or an apikoros, and his beliefs are non-halachic, rather that his ACTIONS will be non-halachic, and the use of apikoros or sectarian is only a marker for someone whose actions might turn out to be objectionable. In other words, a apikoros/sectarian is one upon whom there is suspicion that they will not perform the ritual act correctly. There is an assumption that one with proper beliefs is not suspect, but one with improper beliefs is a suspect. Theoretically, by this construct, an apikoros who could not(for some reason) do shechita incorrectly would not be banned from performing it.
Part III to follow