Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Pardon my French! "Bon Matin" and "Franglais" - 2

A follow up from R Micha Berger to my original post on this subject. (See http://nishmablog.blogspot.com/2011/02/pardon-my-french-bon-matin-and.html)

Micha Berger:
Here is how I summarized RMK's position here in the post. This is about absorbing The language of Halachah -
"There are two ways to learn a language: The native speaker doesn't learn
rules of grammar before using them, he just knows what "sounds right". In
contrast, an immigrant builds his sentences by using formalized rules, learning such terms as "past imperfect" and memorizing the forms that fit each category. R' Koppel notes that the rules can never perfectly capture the full right vs wrong. A poet has to know when one can take license. *
He argues that halakhah is similarly best transmitted by creating "native speakers". It is only due to loss of our progressive loss of the Sinai culture with each generation that we need to rely on transmitting codified rules. (RMK notes in a footnote the connection between this idea and some ideas in R' Dr Haym Soloveitchik's essay "Rupture and
Reconstruction", Tradition, Summer 1994.) Earlier cited cases are the
loss of culture that occurred with Moshe Rabbeinu's death, when 300 halakhos were forgotten, and Osniel ben Kenaz reestablished them --
chazar veyasdum.
Similarly the reestablishment of numerous dinim by
Anshei Keneses haGedolah after the return from the Babylonian exile --
shakhechum vechazar veyasdum. Leyaseid, he suggests, is this codification."
Tir'u baTov!

RRW further comments:
The difference between native speaker and rules follower is simple in practice.
Illustration - I have a friend who presumes that the rule of "brachah oveir la'asiyatan" is defined so rigidly that perforce he says the brachah of "al n'tillat yadayim" before washing.
That itself is not the language hangup - because some people do this His language hangup is that he cannot fathom others who DO wash before the brachah- that those people can also STILL fulfill "over la'asiyatan" - simply by means of saying the Brachah prior to drying their hands. IOW he lacks the native "halachah speaker's" flexibility of poetic license and is stuck with just the rules of grammar His insecurity with these rules triggers the kind of ambiguity intolerance native speakers don't suffer.
Therefore he is befuddled.
He would need to internalize this Halachic Language in order to be liberated from a tyranny of grammatical shoulds that are beyond normative practice.


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