Thursday, 11 February 2010

Talmud and Tosafot; Ambiugity and Complexity

A member of Avodah has posted:

«I often prefer non-Ashkenazi rulings, for all these reasons. I
remember studying one sugya, I forget about what, in which another sugya in the Gemara seemed to explicitly contradict it, saying the exact opposite. Tosafot offered several very elaborate oqimtot, but
the Rif simply pasqened by one of the two sugyot and ignored the other. The Ra'avad, commenting on the Rif, made a very tiny change in
girsa to the second sugya, making it agree with the first sugya that the Rif pasqened as halakhah. I very very very much preferred the Rif/Ra'avad solution to the Tosafot one; the Rif's solution resulted in one single very simple straightforward halakhah, while Tosafot's resulted in several elaborate and confusing oqimtot without a clear
bottom-line halakhah

Also in the sense of Occam's Razor from same poster:

«What I meant was, that I prefer the explanation of the Talmud, Rambam,
Shulhan Arukh, etc., that is the simplest, that explains the most number of laws and principles with the least amount of explanation or peratim. The more kelalim that can explain the greatest number of authoritative sources in the simplest way, this I will prefer.»

This is a common theme and one that had me confused until I was enlightened by Professor Irving Agus - more on that later.

The poster has made several pre-supposition.

1. The Bavli is the [primary] source for Halachah

2 The straightest read is the superior read [as per Sir Ockham]

3 The Talmud's read is usually the "straightforward" read.

4 Ambiguity is inferior to a single-minded read.

BEH we will elaborate on each pre-supposition [or premise] one by one


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