Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Cognitive Dissonance 15 - Rules [that] Are Made to be broken

A proposed "rule" to explain a set of Masoretic patterns was questioned on the MAHPACH list

I changed the name of the proposed rule change to X to make this statement more generic.

« The most logical explanations for exceptions to the X rule is that the X rule is not really a rule, and so the exceptions are not really exceptions.

Let us face it: even the rules proposed by rishonim, which we have to accept are really rules, have exceptions, and exceptions to the exceptions, and in the final analysis are merely guidelines and not inflexible Torah Misinai rules.

So why would we expect a rule newly invented in 5769-5770 to hold, and why should we think it strange that these rules have exceptions that need explanations?»

Indeed in Talmud we have rules that seem MADE to be broken! By way of illustration: let's use the rule of making the Brachah BEFORE doing the Mitzva. [Oveir La'asiyyasan]

Here are some notable exceptions where the bracha is deferred a bit and does not [completely] precede the act.

First 3

Tevilah of a Ger• Tevilah of a NiddahNetilas Yadayim

These 3 on tevillah and netillah AIUI are directly related

In the first case of Ger, the brachah is not possible before the prospective Ger is Jewish - hence the NEED to make the brachah AFTER the initial tevilah, there is no alternative.

The next 2 cases reflect an IDEAL [not a necessity] that it is better to do the brachah whilst "pure" then to do it "on time" before the purifications process. Thus the rule of order is sacrificed, and the precedent of tevilas ger poses as a "fig leaf" to make this adjustment more halachically palatable.

And so these last 2 cases flow from the first case.

[Cont']• Yeshivas SukkahHadalaqas Ner Shabbas• [Magein Avraham even proposes extending this principle of "light first - brachah later" to hadlaqas ner YomTov due to "lo plug"!]

Sukkah - birkas leisheiv follows entering the sukkah

With candle lighting, the concern is that once the brachah is made - that it's too late to light! This is difficult to fathom given that "oveir la'asiyyasan" is a given - so how could the brachah inhibit the hadlaqah?

Yet this is perhaps a perfect mis-understanding.

The word KLAL means a generality - not a hard-and-fast rule.

As such, "oveir "a'asiyyasan" is a default setting - and is readily over-ridable when it conflicts with other concerns - though I do confess the candle-lighting sequence is tough to understand.


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