Sunday, 2 May 2010

Lag Ba'Omer Yahrtzeits

Irony of ironies

It is Lag Ba'omer that is associated with a pause in the dying of R Aqiva's students,

Yet it also marks the yahrtzeit of one of his illustrious Talmiddim - VIZ. Rashby!

Rema's career was cut short after only 33 years on the 33rd of the Omer

We salute these 2 great authors whose supplementation to earlier classics stand out as great works on their own


«Sunday, 18 Iyar

Lag Ba'Omer, yahrtzeit of Rav Shimon bar Yochai, author of the Holy Zohar, and a disciple of Rabbi Akiva. After Rabbi Akiva was murdered by the Romans, Rav Shimon bar Yochai, together with his son Rabbi Elazar, he went into hiding in a cave in the mountains near Peki'in in the Galilee, where they stayed for 13 years.There, he wrote the Zohar. This body of mystical knowledge was given orally by G-d to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai. With the passage of Israel's history, these teachings were lost to most people, until R' Shimon fearing a permanent loss of this knowledge recorded them in the Zohar. After being hidden for a 1000 years, the Zohar was rediscovered by Rabbi Moshe de Leon in Spain, in the 13th century».

«Rav Moshe Isserles (the Rema), on the Shulchan Aruch (1520-1572). Born and died in Cracow, Poland. He composed glosses on those paragraphs of the Shulchan Aruch in which he differs from the author, stating the Halacha as it has been decided by the Ashkenazi authorities, which is binding on Ashkenazi Jews. Rema named his glosses Mappah ("Tablecloth"), as a "cover" for the Shulchan Aruch ("the Set Table"). These glosses have been incorporated into the text and are distinguishable in that they are printed in Rashi script. This consolidation of the two works symbolizes the underlying unity of the Sephardi and Ashkenazi communities. It is thru this unification that the Shulchan Aruch became the universally accepted Code of Law for the entire Jewish people. The Rema also wrote Darkei Moshe, a commentary on the Arba'ah Turim. He became a son-in-law of Rav Shalom Shachna, Rosh Yeshiva of Lublin. He was also related to Rav Meir Katzenelenbogen – the Maharam Padua – and to Rav Shlomo Luria – the Maharshal.»



Anonymous said...

Where did those "bios" come from? The information on R. Shimon Bar Yochai's connection to the Zohar, which is stated there with such certainty, is not accurate according to modern Jewish scholarship, but rather represents a "traditional" view contradicted by examination of the historical facts. I thought that this organization was one that favored the application of reason over the blind acceptance of illogical traditional views?

Nishma said...

In reference to your statement that Nishma is an organization "that favored the application of reason over the blind acceptance of illogical traditional views", while I would not necessarily define the view presented as illogical, it should be noted that Nishma's policy is clearly stated in our 'About Nishma' section on our website, There it states that we are "committed to the presentation of the Halachic spectrum." While the exact definition of the Halachic spectrum may also be a matter for discussion, it cannot be doubted that Rabbi Wolpoe's presentation of the origins of the Zohar is clearly within this spectrum. Our commitment does not mean that we will always present the various halachic views on any subject but that, while we will also often present divergent views, any view that we do express is within that spectrum. As such, a challenge that we even presented this view is not really reflective of our mandate.

Now, of course, this policy and mandate may itself be open to challenge, calling upon us to defend this stand. In this regard, as we define ourselves as an Orthodox organization, namely that we wish to operate within the Orthodox community, we inherently must accept this parameter. Yet, our stand may also reflect a challenge against your viewpoint. Within the academic position, there are also assumptions upon which their conclusions are based. Rabbi Sholom Carmy (I believe) in an article in the Torah U'Madda Journal has called this the secular bias. While conclusions that challenge the view that Rashbi authored the Zohar seem to be the fully rational ones and other views are open to be dismissed as "illogical traditional", I have found such views to be based upon certain assumptions that are, in themselves" open to challenge. While acceptance of these traditional views may demand a further recognition of the assumptions that need to be postulated, and the further acceptance of these assumptions, they should not and cannot be dismissed as simply illogical.

Rabbi Ben Hecht