Sunday, 7 September 2008

Some Contradictions - Introducing Shloyme

Dear Bloggers,
Amongst my Chevra is a young man named Shloyme who went through the standard MO day School system and then learnt in Israel for several years. Being a highly unique individual he is filled with questions. For some reaons, he has noticed both writings and is obsessed with seeing things as consistent. He probably learned a lot of Tosafos! Anyway he has engaged me in a few discussion and I am at liberty to share them with you becuase Shloyme is not his real name anyway.

Shloyme: I don't get it, isn't the Rav the last word at YU?
RRW: no not necessarily so. They did NOT folow all of his minhaggim at YU when I was there.
Shloyme: But I read in the YU papaers that they did NOT allow Stern to have women lein Megillah for other women because it was against the Rav's p'saq.
RRW: Yes I saw that, too
Shloyme: But Rav Shachter set up an Eruv at YU even though the Rav was opposed to an Eruv there or anyewher in Manhattan as far as I know.
RRW: That is true, what's your point Shloyme?
Shloyme: My point is: when it comes to women NOT leining Megillah, the Rav trumps all of the posqim who DO allow a woman to lein for other owman [see list in Beis Ysoef]. But when it comes to s'fiek Hillul Shabbos, the Rav's Humros are set aside and he is ignored, and poof, up goes the Eruv!
RRW: yes, Indeed one of hte Rav's talmiddim [since deceased] once bemoaned this to me in the Breuer Sukkah how the Rav is "rolling in his grave" about the way his opinions were ignored re: the Eruv. That said, I am really not too familiar with Eruvin to make any comment. BEH I will be spending some time learning more about ERuvin in 5769. *
Shloyme: And re: hilchos Megillah? What is your position there?
RRW: Well I DID researxch this and I read the definite scholarly article by Rabbi Avi Weiss years ago. My take is as follows
  • Rishonim: the dispute is women leingin for men. All Rishonim allow women to lein for women [see Aforementioned Beis yosef]
  • Acharonim: All of a sudden NEW humros abound and the argument morphed to women cannot lein for men at all and it is NOW a machlokes about women leiningn for women!
Shloyme: Nu, so what changed?
RRW: I am not sure. There are a LOT of changes that Acharaonim have made to Halachah and Minhag and many of them seems strange to me. But to be fair, I've been told that the Rishonim changed a lot from the Ga'onim, too.
Shloyme: and So bottom line, what is your position re: a woman leing for a woman?
RRW: I see no problem. I saw the Rav's postion following the Magein Avraham but - since the RAv is a GRAnick - I am surprised that the Rav went into that direction and did not stick closer to the simple Talmudic texts which are far more ligberal. It kinda surprises me, to tell you the truth. I guess I see a bit of inconsistency here after all. Sh'koach Shloyme!


1 comment:

Rabbi Ben Hecht said...

I believe that there is an important other factor that must be recognized in attempting to explain this apparent contradiction at YU. In attempting to understand the views of the Rav or -- perhaps more succintly in cases such as this -- how we are to relate to the presented views of the Rav, it must be recognized that the Rav had to directions towards his talmidim and those who would follow his teachings. One, of course, is the message of the teachings themselves. The second is the Rav's belief that a competent individual with appropriate knowledge of the material can and should make decisions himself (or, I presume within the perspective of the Rav, herself). There were, thus, two parts to a question directed to the Rav. One was his perspective itself. The second was whether, albeit that the Rav would still disagree, the thought presented still is within the pale and/ a logical possibility.

It is with a recognition of these two dimensions that we can possibly understand the difference in approach tothe eruv and women reading the megilla. In regard to the Eruv, the one who set it up was Rav Shachter who clearly sees himself as a talmid of the Rav if not the Rav's foremost talmid. As such, his psak can be seen as a reflection of the other dimension of the Rav -- that he expected his talmidim to disagree, in fact that indicated, if their analysis was within the pale, his (the Rav's) greatest success as a rebbi. As such, with the Eruv, the issue was simply the specific psak of the Rav. Non-continuation of that psak would not be considered a challenge to the lagacy of the Rav -- especially in that his student was the one who formulated the argument to observe the Eruv.

In the case of the megilla, though, the issue, as with all modern issues dealing with women, is not just what the Rav's opinion was but what the Rav also held was within the legitimate spectrum of the Halacha. On this regard there is a further controversy on what the Rav held was acceptable within the pale. Everyone agrees regarding the Rav's personal views on some matters dealing with women but there is great disagreement on what the Rav felt about opposing positions. Some feel that the Rav respected thos opinions as acceptable views of others eventhough he disagreed. Others believe that the Rav felt these positions to be outside the pale. As such, introducing women's megilla readings at Stern is not the same as the YU eruv. Everyone agrees in the latter case, the Rav would see the view of Rav Shachter as within the pale -- the two just happen to disagree. Within the geatalt of the Rav, this is not only not a problem but a reflection of what a rebbi really is. The question in regard to the megilla readings, though, is what did the Rav think was really within the pale. Here there is controversy and in establishing these megilla readings, there are those who would argue not just that it is not the psak of the Rav but that the Rav would never even perceive it as within the pale. That is a controversy over the legacy of the Rav that would be problematic.