Thursday, 15 April 2010

Minhag Yisroel vs. Gra : 2 Matzot vs. 3 Matzot

Rav Herschel Schachter states:

. A matter of halacha which has been accepted for centuries can not be overturned, unless one can demonstrate that there simply was an error involved from the very outset.

source:
http://www.torahweb.org/torah/special/2003/rsch_masorah.html


Given:
  1. Rif Rambam paskened 2 matzos at the Seder as per simple read of the Talmud.
  2. Gaonim have a tradition for Lechem Mishnah on Yom tov
  3. Rosh/Tosafos say 3 - that sugya is superseded by the requirement of Lechem Mishneh
  4. Rema says 3 ratifying Minhag Ashkenaz
  5. Bet Yosef says that minhag is like Tosafot and Rosh and paskens 3 despite his stated rule re: Rif/Rambam - Minhag Yisrael prevails nevertheless
  6. Shleah - as cited by kaf Hachayyim says the only way to be yotzei lechal hadei'os is to use 3.
Question: how did the GRA revert it back to 2?
  1. Were Rosh, Rema, Shulchan Aruch, Shelah all beta'us?
  2. If so does this impact their reliability on other matters of Halachah?
  3. Did the Gra feel bound by the norms Minhag Yisrael - or by his read of the Talmud?
  4. For those who have already switched to 2, should they switch back to 3 - since the shita of 2 goes against the norms of Halachic canons as posited by RHS? ""one can demonstrate that there simply was an error" . i.e the error here is going against Minhag Yisroel.
  5. Is there ever a time limit on overturning Minhag based upon error? IOW how many centuries of practice makes perfect or is it ALWAYS subject to revision based upon a better read of Talmud.
  6. How do recently discovered girsaos of old manuscripts play into this? Are they demonstrative of earlier errors and therefore dispositive of minhaggim?
--
Kol Tuv / Best Regards,
RabbiRichWolpoe@Gmail.com

5 comments:

micha said...

"Were Rosh, Rema, Shulchan Aruch, Shelah all beta'us?"

Was the Rambam?

If you believe that the Gra was a bar pelugta, then you can believe that leshitaso, they are wrong. Not that they are outside of eilu va'eilu, but that they are the other eilu.

"Is there ever a time limit on overturning Minhag based upon error? IOW how many centuries of practice makes perfect or is it ALWAYS subject to revision based upon a better read of Talmud."

I don't think there is a time limit. However, after time other things set in. Like an inability to believe one is capable of a better read than the sages of yore. Or the universality of consensus adding weight to a position on grounds other than its specific substance's merit. (An issue you just raised on Avodah.)

-micha

micha said...

BTW, R' Herschel Schachter's position happens to be the one I was mekhavein to a while back when we discussed Maaseh Rav. That there is nothing in there that the Vilna Gaon didn't find to be incorrect.

There are two ways people can be cholqim -- A could be deemed superior to B, or the rav in question could believe he found a flaw in B. RHS is saying (if I am not missing a difference between his position and what I suggested back then) that the Gra only changed his practice in the second case.

You're hitting the limits of thinking without a law of contradiction. We are saying that B is wrong in the single-shitah sense, not that B is outside the range of answers.

-micha

Rabbi Ben Hecht said...

There would seem to be a spectrum of meaning when we express disagreement and/or express that another's argument is flawed. This would be evidenced by the fact that, at times, one would still abide by the observance of the other's view while, at other times. one would not. Even in cases when a gemara concludes in teyuvta, there are times when the one whose argument is broken still maintains his position. How does one know, within the rules of eilu v'eilu, -- when one argues with, disagrees, challenges, finds weakness with another opinion -- the force of this opposition and the extent to which one must express this disagreement?

Rabbi Ben Hecht

micha said...

R' Hecht,

I guess I'm trying to express three levels of disagreement:

1- You are outside the range of valid interpretations.
2- Your interpretation is valid (eilu va'eilu) but flawed.
3- Your interpretation is less valuable than mine. Not flawed, but lacking.

The Brisker position about the Gra's halachic changes is that he wouldn't change practice over a "less valuable" issue. But that doesn't mean he was declaring the accepted pesaq as "invalid", as outside the realm of Torah.

-micha

Rabbi Ben Hecht said...

You are clearly identifying a truth that I believe is often not fully recognized, described and analyzed. There are clearly different levels of diagreement with these levels, in my opinion, not always so clearly demarcated. It seems to me much more of a spectrum of perception rather than clear categorization. The challenge is to find the underlying principles that are applied by someone in defining the level of disagreement. It is, often, I feel quite difficult.

Rabbi Ben Hecht