Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Picking and Choosing - Setting up new "Batei Din"

The early 20th century presented us with several monumental works on Halachah. The top 3 stars in the firmament seem to be:

1 Mishnah Brurah [MB]

2 Aruch haShulchan [AhS]

3 Kaf haHayyim [KhH]


It may be too late. The ship may have sailed. Many newer posqim probably have superseded the Big 3

What if someone circa 1950 created a new Kitzur using those 3 as his Beth Din? *

And Is it too late NOW to do a modified version?


How about a newer BD that would combine a later generation?


EG

1 R Moshe Feinstein [RMF]

2 R Ovadiah Yosef [ROY]

3 ???


Perhaps we could create a Kitzur based upon the latter BD


Why bother?


It would be nice to synthesize the opinions of the dominant posqim. And at times a synthesis, a blend can produce a balanced outcome


See the R Mordechai Eliyahu edition of Kitzur SA for a sampling of what I am advocating.


Shalom

RRW


* NB RY Caro set up a hypothetical BD of Rif, Rambam, and Rosh

Also Kitzur SA - RS Ganzfried - set up a similar BD of SA haRav, Hayyei Adam, and Derech Hayyim (R Yaaqov of Lisa)


Also note:
How slavishly these authors followed their own rules - is beyond the scope of this post.

1 comment:

Mikewind Dale said...

For your third gadol, how about Rabbi Haim David Halevi? He recorded both Ashkenazi and Sephardi positions, and best of all, he was driven by a flexible, non-dogmatic, humane Judeo-Spanish Sephardi weltanschauung (R' Ovadia Yosef is not a Judeo-Spanish Sephardi). He used to say that Beit Hillel prevailed over Beit Shammai because the former was lenient and knew the human condition, and he would proudly boast how his teacher, Rabbi Benzion Uziel, would rule halakhah based not only on formal technical sources, but on mercy and love.

I was talking to one of my rabbis, a student of Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Berkovits, and my rabbi proclaimed how Rabbi Haim David Halevi was the last of the great poseqim, and that he (my rabbi) makes sure to read three pages of his (Rabbi Halevi's) Meqor Haim Hashalem every day. Rabbi Marc Angel has opined that Rabbi Halevi was the greatest poseq of his time.

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What I'd really like to see, however, is someone who takes the Ashkenazi and Sephardi opinions and weighs them against each other, no holds-bars, without retaining the division between Ashkenazi and Sephardi.

There's no such thing as minhag avot; there's only minhag ha-maqom. It's therefore ridiculous to keep retaining the division between Ashkenazim and Sephardim in pesaq.

Plus, there's a million more minhagim than just those two. There's Hungarian, Polish, Lithuanian, Moroccan, Turkish, Iranian, Yemenite, etc. Somehow, the poseqim distinguish consistently between Ashkenazim and Sephardim, but they ignore the myriads of other divisions. This shows that what they're doing has no halakhic basis; it's all for show. Just to be politically-correct, they divide between Ashkenazim and Sephardim, even though no such clear-cut division exists.

Rabbi Yehuda ha-Nasi said to speak either Hebrew or Greek; Aramaic is no good. I'd say that similarly, one should either make a different pesaq for every division (Moroccan versus Algerian, Lithuanian versus Hungarian, etc.), or one should just throw the attempt out the window and make ONE pesaq.

I'd prefer the latter since, as said, there isn't such a thing has minhag avot anyway. Why should pesaq halakhah take into account such an un-traditional and un-halakhic concept as minhag avot, unless we're prepared to just go the whole way and become Reform?