If you want to master Halachic principles, then learn the earliest sources [E.G. Mishnah, Talmud, or Rambam]
If you want to look up a practical p'saq, then consult the most recent publications [E.G. Sh'mirat Shabbot k'Hilcheta]
If you want to master Halachic principles, then learn the earliest sources [E.G. Mishnah, Talmud, or Rambam]
If you want to look up a practical p'saq, then consult the most recent publications [E.G. Sh'mirat Shabbot k'Hilcheta]
It so happens that this son-in-law is none other than Rabbi Harvey Rosenfeld! We have chatted many times and I was quite pleased to see his d'var torah in our local Jewish Paper "The Jewish Standard".
Given R Rosenfeld's background, both the content of the d'var torah and its appearance here on this blog is a bit unconventional. Enjoy it anyway! I'm confident you will.
«I'm sure R G'dalya has a valid point, but the upshot seems pashut to fly in the face of Shas. The only fair way to judge this would be to read R G'dlya's writings w/o his name and ask third parties to render an opinion based upon the content of the writing and not of the author's prominence.»
«R G'dalyah does, b'rov gadluso, claim to understand the Gemara, you claim to understand it better and therefore conclude that he reversed the Bavli?!»
«It appears to ME that he reversed the Bavli because AFAIK there is no precedent in posqim to allow for this hiddush. But, I'm not claiming to be a bigger gadol! I'm just calling it as it I see it!. For a more objective read, use the method above. I fail to see why one should accept every ruling w/o checking it out to see if it holds water or not first!»
«And, of course, you know as well as I do that we do not pasken on the basis of Kabbalah.»
«Well this seems a red herring! Why?
I was not arguing purely on the basis of kabbalah
The Kabbalah simply buttresses the ideal of not delaying the burial which is after all the point of Shas, too! So when overturning Shas here, one is in addition potentially causing the neshamah
Addi tonal suffering by delaying a swift, prompt burial. That just seems obvious and consistent with Shas' stance.»
«And I imagine you know that the Gemara itself limits burial on Yom Tov where there are countervailing issues»
«Understood. But that was bishas persecution where Jews might be coerced to work on YT if the hostile non-Jews saw Jews burying on YT. At any rate, posqim don't seem to make this operative and it is imho a stretch to invoke it here. Using dormant Talmudic principles to alter normative law is a tremendous slippery slope. Better off LFAD if R. G'dalyah had made a hora'as sho'oh that burial on YT sheini should be suspended due to potential Hillul Shabbos issues, than being m'falpeil a novel read INTO Shas itself.
I think it's more "yosher" to do it that way, and would not trigger any "slippery slope" precedents.»
Of course the unarticulated issue is:
"Are g'dolim to be deemed infallible?". If yes, then we must set aside our minds and wills and simply defer to the R G'dalyas and their reads of sources, etc.
OTOH if G'dolim are subject to the same rules and texts that other rabbis are subject to, then they are fair game for upshlugging.
It would seem al pi mussar NOT to make g'dolim or Roshei Yeshiva above the system but subject to it. After all even Aharon made Moshe subject to Torah in Parshas Sh'mini.
OTOH a gadol MAY make a g'zeira as a syag - which I believe is RS's point.
So R Sh'muly seems to protest and suggest
Protest: Blindly following a Gadol's read or decision w/o considering the normative read
Suggest: Let G'dolim make temporary s'yaggim as needed to protect Halachah w/o
resorting to dochaq reads into classical texts.
But lich'ora, tadir v'sheino tadir, tadir qodem and Ner Shabbat should come first
MB 1 says while Mechabeir doesn't really hold that Qabbalas Shabbos starts with lighting Ner Shabbos, rather he is merely chosheish for that Sheetah, [aparently that of the BeHaG as quoted By SA himself 263:10]
Lich'ora this should also mean that the mechaber should pasqen to light Ner Shabbos before the Brachah! IOW not over la'assiyasson.
But then I realized that perhaps the mechaber is only chosheish for the BeHaG that LIGHTING starts Shabbos, but not for the Mordechai who holds the BRACHAH starts Shabbos, so "yeish lechaleiq"
In reading RSR Hirsch on Lech Lecha [my BM Sidrah BTW] I saw an almost timeless description of the dichotomy between the upright individual and the "sleazy government" spanning Jew and non-Jew alike
VIZ. That society is so geared from the time of Avraham henceforth and I quote Breisheet 12:2 [Hirsch New edition p. 292]
«Honesty, humanity, and love are are duties incumbent upon the individual, but are regarded as folly in relations with nations..
Individuals are [punished] for the crimes of fraud and murder, but countries murder and defraud on a grand scale, and those who murder and defraud [in the national interest] are decorated and rewarded.
«Not like these is the portion of Avraham....»
No wonder Israel is levadad yishkon! We as the children of Avraham may not - and almost cannot - play the games that other nations play! Because we do not subscribe to this Machiavellian "deal with the devil" of being an honest individual while being a a corrupt nation!
It is the legacy of the Jewish State to play by different rules, by principles in our DNA and perhaps ingested with our "mother's milk" to maintain a high level of idealism even whilst negotiating on an international level.
Thus, while the individual delegates at a forum such as the UN might contain individuals who in their private lives are quite humane and enlightened, yet on the international stage will be honoured for furthering the most deceptive, corrupt, and evil agenda possible, and even be decorated davka for this behaviour!
I only wish this sunk in to my consciousness when I was in my twenties, but I guess it takes a lot of life experience to realize that R. Hirsch is saying, that he might as well be penning an op-ed in today's newspapers and be current 130 years after the original publication of his magnum opus!
Avraham - Sur Mei'ra 25% (2)
Yitzchak - Aseh Tov 13% (1)
Neither choice is inherently the better one. My specific response would depend on
the personality of the individuals and the circumstances 25% (2)
Both choices are equally lacking 37% (3)
1) It may be interesting to note that the Chazon Ish in Emunah u'Bitachon favours sur mei'ra over aseh tov but whether his words on the subject apply in this case could still be a matter of debate. He was speaking developmentally that the process of sur mei'ra may have a greater long term effect on an individual than a promotion of aseh tov. The fact is, though, that both, in a vacuum, are problematic in terms of expressions of Torah commitment. In terms of determining a first step taking someone further on a path of Torah, the answer may still be that it depends on the individual. (RBH)
2) Imho Yitzchaq has chosen to own mitzvat sukkah and to honour it. His failings AIVI are all too human. He is at worst mumar letei'avon, while aiming to elevate himself spiritually. Avraham is avoiding evil, but avoiding living the Torah. He is like the one who fasts on Yom Kippur while sleeping in bed, technically compliying but failing to grow. He is too inert, too much into avoidance. Hashkafically means to me "heart level". Avraham might be technically superior, but on the rachmana libba ba'ei I see Yitzchaq of putting more heart and soul into his avodah.Eventually, Yitzchaq may outgrow his lazy indulgences, Avraham "ain't going nowhere" it seems. (My 2 cents RRW)
[See Sefer Hareidim 24:51]
2 P. Toldot:
How could Yaakov [ish emet] deceive his own father Yitzchaq?
Answer: In both cases they could rely on Prophecy for heter "b'Torat horo'at sha'ah"
1 Eliezer relied upon Avraham's guarantee:
"Hashem ...yishlach mala'acho ittach". Eliezer knew a Mal'ach was supervising him, so his Nichush was "kosher" only within that context
2 Yaakov was told by Rivkah. And Rivkah had been told by n'vu'ah ...sHein goyim..v'rav ya'avod tz'air. This prophecy enabled Rivkah to "force" the issue with a deception as a ho'or'at sho'oh in order to conform to Hashem's word
New translation P. 288
"A person has 3 protective casings:
The Bassar, the Begged, and the Bayit.
This point dovetails completely with the 3 forms of afflictions listed in Tazria-Metzora viz.
afflictions of the Skin, surface, dermatological
I don't see any explicit connection made by R. Hirsch in Lech Lecha itself, but the parallel is more than skin-deep!
In the cases in Vayiqra, the afflictions [Nega'I'm] proceed from the inner to the outer
When Avraham leaves Haran he is asked to leave
House of your Father
Or from outer to inner which is highly counter-intuitive. And this is a major salient point in R. Hirsch's brief essay
I recall a recent posting on List 1 to the effect that Aggadah contains "Hilchot Machshava" or something similar.
And I saw another posting re: v'Ten Tal uMatar on List 2 citing only Talmud and Rambam, ignoring a key Ro"sh on point.
Permit me to address both issues with a single approach.
Re: Aggadah. IMHO one may legitimately dispute or dissent from an Aggadic principle. But first, at least one MUST consult the sources and any relevant literature. Only then may one respectfully disagree.
Similarly with the issue of v'Ten. One may legitimately take issue with the Ro"sh's position, but it is still obligatory to see it and any related Halachic Literature
One is not obligated to always concur with all relevant sources, OTOH one must consult them first and not intentionally ignore them before arriving at a conclusion.
I could not make sense of the concept of when egotism is a legitimate
Expression of Moral Indignation, vs. when it is the opposite, i.e. The expression of conceit, arrogance, and unholy defiance.
Migdal Bavel is the paradigm of a peaceful co-operative community BUT one that has set itself up in defiance of the Divine. It sought to sacrifice the individual on the altar of the greater whole, foreshadowing both Fascism and Communism. And this suppression of the individual rightfully sparks the ego to rebel. Why rightfully? Because any collective without sanction of the Al-Mighty is inherently evil when it suppresses the individual!
No wonder Ayn Rand's flew from God-less Bolshevism. Her nature impelled her to rebel. And given the frightening parallels between Migdal Bavel and the Stalinistic 5-Year plans, her flight was well-justified! [Whether her alternative passes muster is indeed another matter.]
And so R. Hirsch emphasizes that the praiseworthy community and culture is the one built around preserving and perpetuating Torah Tradition. He himself led a paradigmatic community in Frankfort when he broke with the local Heterodox Community there. It remains functioning today, albeit in reduced numbers, in Washington Heights. B"H it is not the sole community based upon Torah Values. Thus any community whose mission is "Hirschian"
in nature deserves the deference of the individual
OTOH, any community designed to compete against G-d deserves the uprising of the suppressed individual soul.
The gray area today dear reader, is the society that is neither culturally devoted to G-d nor out to defeat G-d leaving us a tricky conundrum.
As North America WAS, say circa WWII, there was no question of a society and culture who opposed Marxist Atheism in favour of a common non-denominational service to the Al-Mighty and compassion for mankind. This society had the common focus of G-d only in the most generic terms, eschewing the barriers between sects.
Now that Secularism is replacing this non-denominational common-denominator service to the Creator, the society is slipping off of its pedestal, teetering ever so closely to a Godless tilt, Heaven Forbid.
It remains to be seen if we can restore a society that supports a common Deity in a compassionate and mutually supportive fashion as we did 60+ years ago.
Should we tilt away too far, the individuals will rise up and break away to form tiny independent communities re-dedicated to the ideals and traditions that once made us a truly "Great Society". A new Austritt Gemeinder will have to appear to preserve a Torah life-style amid the deterioration of what was once the ideal.
Just as Avraham ho'Ivri crossed over to oppose the Dor Haflagah in his own day.
This exchange is from way back in 2003 and I have changed the names to reduce the "personal" aspect and to focus upon the issues instead. No need for adding ad hominem attacks..
We will call the more Dissenting protagonist "R Shmuly"
The more Doctrinaire protagonist "R Binny"
The name of a Gadol is G'dalyah
Response to R Shmuly who states
R G'dalya apparently seems to reverse the Bavli re: burial on YT Sheini by invoking chillul YT as a concern - af al pi that the Bavli asserts that legabei Meisim YT sheini is considered kechol...
Do you really believe that R G'dalya reversed a BAVLI?!
Well, If Rabbi X were to say that the gmara re: burying on YT is not applicable due to modern day refrigeration, the Torah world would be up in arms. While when R G'dalyah says it, it gets a pass. ...
Tell me here and now R Binny, of all the Torah-based and Kabbalistic reasons for not delaying a levaya that have nothing to do with the deterioration of the body! I'm sure you can come up with many more than
I can, and I can think of a few myself.
Point? We are not interested in the methodology of how a Halachah is
derived but WHO says it. This of course obviates the need for a concept of a 'To"eh bidvar Mishnah' which becomes impossible in this system. Because the Gadol trumps the P'shat of any Mishna anyway! So its pointless to ever challenge any Gadol! Yet the SA allows for just such a challenge!»
Excuse me, I am in utter shock. Because R G'dalyah does, b'rov gadluso, claim
to understand the Gemara, you claim to understand it better and therefore
conclude that he reversed the Bavli?!
And, of course, you know as well as I do that we do not pasken on the
basis of Kabbalah.
And I imagine you know that the Gemara itself limits burial on Yom Tov where there are countervailing issues.
Your assertion is staggering.»
«If Chassimas Hatalmud is indeed the last word, then kfiyyas hamitta would
still be a chiyyuv for an an aveil, and kitniyuos and bigamy would be still be optional for Ashkenazim!»
«Aveilus is mostly minhagim, and no ra'ayos can be brought from minhagim.
Kitniyos and bigamy are still options. You will end up in cherem, that's
Chasimas Ha'Talmud IS the last word. Beyond that there can only be
Ad Kahn the original exchange
R Shmuly asked me to add a few points to bolster his arguments and to undermine R Binn's points. Stay tuned for further posts.
Note: Since I cannot readily contact R Binny, I have altered all the names to reduce any potential for personalities to intervene
Jew by birth?
Jew according to Halachah?
Jew despite practicing another religion?
For more on this topic please see:
Rabbi's Corner: Jews in the House, and the Senate
There has been much talk concerning how Major Hasan did not want to go to Afghanistan to kill Muslims, but wouldn't fighting in Afghanistan also involve defending Muslims?
I recently addressed this issue and the events at Fort Hood in my monthly column in the Jewish Tribune (Toronto). It can be seen at
Rabbi Ben Hecht
The specific case is not the issue here. To simplify matters, I took a minority position of a point of view on a Halachic matter. [For the sake of illustration, let's say that I favored saying the brachah of "Al Netilas Yadayim" prior to washing.]
Albert called me on it.
"Wolpoe, you advocate Halachic Consensus! How can you oppose the practice that has been approved by the vast majority? This is inconsistent with your Halachic thesis!"
For a few minutes, I thought Albert had indeed detected an inconsistency, isolated an anomaly!
Then my mind cleared and I realized he overlooked a significant Hilluq, a major caveat.
My position really did not contradict Halachah on the ground - Since I never had publicly advocated my opposition in order for people to alter their practice! Rather I was voicing loyal opposition to the decision rendered by the majority; and am still willing to abide by the consensus position.
Let's take a Parliamentary example.
The Majority Party proposes to require 40 hours of training to earn a driver's license
The Minority Counter-Proposes only 20 hours instead.
And let's say I hold like the minority [the loyal opposition] that counter-proposes the 20 hours.
After the vote [the nimnu v'gamru] the Majority Party wins the vote and the new law has been duly established.
OTOH I loyally abide by the majority proposal as bona fide new law
OTOH in the arena of opinion I still maintain my view that this law is a "bad law"
Albert apparently seems to have missed this distinction! That despite taking an oppositional opinion, I may still allow for deference to the legal process! He seems to be equating opposition in thought to disobedience in deed! But loyal opposition can split this baby! A minority can oppose a decision yet defer to it nevertheless.
This dovetails with the Elu v'Elu [Ev"E] series dealing with pluralism in thought, and yet conformity in deed.
That we PRACTICE Halachah as Beth Hillel, but in the area of learning and thought Beth Shammai is equally "Divrei Elokim Hayyim"
For an illustration of this kind of opposition combined with deference, see the Aruch HaShulchan on the matter of al Neqiyut Yadayim.
1 A man who readily concedes when he's wrong or mistaken
2 A man who readily apologizes when he has wronged his neighbor
Go and see which is the evil way which a man should stand apart
1. One who is too conceited or stubborn to change his mind in the face of all evidence to the contrary
2 One who cannot apologize when he's done harm to his fellow - especially when he is informed of the harm.
R' Shalom points out: At first, the visitors were higher than Abraham because they were angels and he a flesh and blood human being. But when he gave them food, drink and shelter, he stood even higher than the angels.
Without belaboring, those who IMHO were less than generous in their dissent - and at times rude and malicious - include:
• The Ra'avad on Rambam's Mishneh Torah
• The Re'ah on Torat Habayyit
• The entire anti-Maimonidean movement in the 12th and 13th centuries. An episode of mega-embarrassment
Let's let those go and think positive!
Can we find respectful debate and dissent?
YES we can! In preparing a series on Reshut haRabbim and the issue of 600,000
[600K] I found that the Beth Yosef outlines both schools in a fair-minded and balanced way. Despite his Sephardic Background, he reports quite objectively how the schools hold and how-where they differ.
In the Ashkenazic Tradition, 3 Classic supplementary texts were written that embody respectful dissent, or simply complementary information that mitigate the simple read of the text.
Perhaps the finest Gentleman of that Genre was the Rema. His respectful dissent in his Hagahot are not only lessons showing how Ashkenazim disagreed on point, but he accomplished Two tangential accomplishments
1. Rema made the SA an almost universally accepted text. [Not so for Teimanim, but quite so for both Ashkenazim and Sephardim]. [Also note R Mordechai Eliyahu did much the same for the Kitzur SA]. Rema's alternative might have been to either "bash" the Mechabeir, or to author a competing text. He chose not to. [While his Talmid the Levush did that exactly]
2. Second, he acted like his Namesake Moshe and taught us anivut. He made no claims to being a superior poseiq, only a preserver of a Tradition that was being short-changed. And his manner was done with elegance and class in terms of his respectfulness.
The second respectful dissenter is going back in History to the Maharam miRothenburg and his student the Hagahot Maimoniyyot.
The Maharam was enamored with the Rambam's Mishneh Torah's clarity and organization, and so he latched onto to the bandwagon by commissioning his student - the Hagahot Maimonoiyyit - to produce an Ashkenaz-friendly supplement. The Hagahot here did not catch on in big way as did the Rema's Hagahot several centuries later. Nevertheless a path was made towards both admiring Sephardic codes w/o trampling Ashkenazic sheetot.
NB: just as the Darchei Moshe on the Tur was short-shifted into a "kitzur" apparently the Hagahot M suffered a similar fate
The Darchei Moshe is being restored in the new editions of the Tur and the Hagahot Constantine are now in the back of the Frankel edition of the Rambam.
The least obvious is Tosafot. This deserves more than a sound-byte, but to a great extent, Tosafot finessed a reconciliation between the Bavli and Early Minhag Ashkenaz in such a way that made the Bavli the premier text of TSBP and made it more palatable to Observant Jews whose tradition was at times in conflict with the text.
We primarily covered 3 texts:
And their corresponding respectful "hagahot"
The Rif and beyond
Simple. Cover Daf Yomi using Shottenstein with footnotes, or a similar daf yomi tool (Such as other user-friendly editions with comments)
When covering all of Shas with any kind of notes expounding the sugyos, you get a bit of just about everything.
A 7.5 year program
(Note I expect this program to evolve based upon feedback)
Mishna Yomis with Kehatti (or other commentary) (6 year cycle). This is the single most important aspect of the program.
Kitzur SA Yomi (1 year cycle). This covers the bare minimum of Halachah
Sefer Hamitzvos of the Rambam using commentary (EG Rambam l'am or Rav Chavel's vsersion with Ramban) 1 positive and 1 negative a day. When positives run out do the 14 shroshim. This gives a great overview of Taryag by the Master.
Do Humash and Rashi one aliya per day. (1 year cycle). Rashi on Humash is as basic as one can get
Sefer Hamitzvos Hakatzar - a Kitzur of the Rambam by the "Chofetz Chayyim"
SA Yomi (1 year cycle)
The entire range of practical halachah. Tur, Levush, or Aruch Hashulchan are alternatives to be considered.
Sefer Hachinuch about 2 mitzvos a day (1 year cycle)
This expands the Rambam' ShM with a lot of input from Ramban.
Humash and Torah Temima one aliya per day. (1 year cycle). Building upon Rashi's method of connecting TSBP to the Humash.
Rambam Mishnah Torah and commentary (EG Rambam L'am) 1 chapter a day (3 year cycle) Alternative Programs might do 3 chapters a day in one year - EG the 7th year after covering all of Mishnayos.
5 Megillos with Torah Temima (can be completed over 2 years)
Continue Mishnah Torah
Finish Mishna Yomis and any loose ends from previous years
Shmiras Halashon Yomi classic Mussar with a sampling of Zohar and Midrash
Year 8 (half year)
Sefer Chofetz Chayyim Yomi (4 months)
Sefer Mitzvos Hashem
(30 day cycle). Another good review of mitzvos with a Halachic bent.
Give yourself about 15 years and do BOTH!
Yet the Torah's permission to consume flesh is unambiguous
"Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; as with the green herbs have I given you all these" ( Hirsch Breishis 9:3 New Edition P. 222)
The Torah simply equates flesh and herbs! No hierarchy of preference.
R. Hirsch elaborates as to what changed climatically to make this so. Certainly "Eskimos" [Inuit] would be hard-pressed to become vegetarians, and any cold climate could present a similar challenge