Textualism and the Mishnah Berurah

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18 Responses

  1. Shimon says:

    Do you have a source that the Chofetz Chaim did not wear his Tzitzis out? Thanks.

    • micha says:

      Grandpa Berger was one of many witnesses. I also confirmed with the local Zakses. R’ Moshe zt”l, in his pesaq against the practice, reports that R’ Mendel Zaks told him the same thing. (Although to be honest, RMF said the shift of the MB to a sefer pesaq was caused by R’ Elchanan Wasserman zt”l Hy”d. I ignored this data point because I think it was R’ Aharon’s efforts that indeed “took hold” among the masses.)

  2. Aron says:

    In Rabbi Menachem Mendel Poliakov’s ‘Minhagei Lita’ – I think I remember reading that “even in Radun – they didn’t wear tzitzith out”
    Also I couldn’t see tziztith on the recently publicized video of the Agudath Yisrael convention which even showed the Chafetz Chaim. As I understand the ‘recomendations’ of the MB and AH – tzitzis should have been visible and proudly openly displayed.

  3. yosef k says:

    hOW COULD tHE Chofets Chayyim have written so strongly about the need to keep the Tztzis out and not do it. It does not make any sense

    • micha says:

      Sense or not, there are too many witnesses to be unsure about this. And Litvaks would certainly note and remember a rav who wore his tzitzis out; they generally considered it yuhara to do so, following the Mahari Bruna (15th cent Germany) #96.

      I also don’t understand the shift in tone between 8:25 and 8:26 (link). In the first s”q the MB records a machloqes, and says that even lechumerah, you could manage with just leaving them out after the berakhah for enough time to walk 4 amos. Then the second s”q (#26) explicitly rejects that. I am open to suggestions.

    • Torah yid says:

      The Mishnah Berurah could be talking about when you have the Beged of tzitzis over your shirt to leave the strings out and not to tuck them in. Not that when you have the beged under the shirt you need the tzitzis out. I have hear some read the M’B this way.It does not make so much sense to me (especially because this does not fit into the Mogen Avraham who the M’B quotes as his source on the bottom) and I wear my tzitzis out but this is a possible explanation that some give.

      • micha says:

        For the point I’m trying to draw, it makes no difference — the author did neither.

        But I don’t think that’s a plausible read of the MB. To quote 8:26:

        יראהו – כמה דכתיב: “וראיתם אותו וזכרתם” וגו’. ואותן האנשים המשימין הציצית בהמכנסים שלהם, לא די שמעלימין עיניהם ממאי דכתיב: “וראיתם אותו וזכרתם” וגו’, עוד מבזין הן את מצוַת השם יתברך, ועתידין הן ליתן את הדין על זה. ומה שאומרין שהולכים בין הנוכרים, לזה היה די שישימו הציצית בתוך הכנף. ואילו היה להם איזה דורון ממלך בשר ודם שחקוק עליו שם המלך, כמה היו מתקשטין בו לפני האנשים תמיד; וקל וחומר בציצית, שמרמז על שם מלך מלכי המלכים הקדוש ברוך הוא, וכדלקמן בסימן כ”ד סעיף ה’ – כמה מתכבד האדם הנושא שמו עליו!

        He’s talking about the tzitzis tassle itself — something otherwise worn in the pants or stuffed in the corner reinforcement. Also, “uzekhartem” doesn’t refer to the beged.

  4. David Zalkin says:

    Regarding giving precedence to the Aruch HaShulchan over the MB, my Rosh Yeshiva, Reb Henoch Leibowitz ztz”l, despite being a great-great nephew of the Chofetz Chaim, also held that the Aruch HaShulchan is to be preferred for Psak Halacha.

  5. shlomo says:

    I would like to point out a couple of things.
    1. Many places in the אגרות ומאמרים of the CC he writes to look in the MB for Psak Halacha. This is also pointed out time and again in מאיר עיני ישראל, if you want sources I can get them. 2. You can also notice that the only times that the Aruch Hashulchan quotes the MB is in the first and 3rd volume of the CC, this is because he did not have access to the others (meaning that the majority of the MB came out after the AH or the same time). 3. A small but incomplete list of where the CC goes with the Minhag and tries to defend it סי’ תקפ”ה מ”ב ס”ק ב, ה, ז, סימן יד ד”ה לא יברך. סימן כז ד”ה והרי נהוג withe many many more. You can also find many times that the AH argues on the minhag. 4. What is crystal clear is that the CC had access to many many more sefarim then the AH had (in fact the only time the AH quotes the Magen Giborim is in the name of the MB, in the first volume.

  6. micha says:

    Shlomo: I am not so much presenting a theory about what the MB as simply reporting how the title page and introduction of the work describes itself. The MB says it’s a survey of comparatively more recent halachic sources for the sake of the poseiq to better reach a conclusion. I think it’s safe to take it as its word.

    If you see problems with that self-description, than you have questions, but you cannot disprove that which the book itself explicitly says.

    That said, it’s unsafe to talk in absolutes…. While the intent of the book is to teach halachic theory, he does say it’s to help the poseiq. The two topics — lomdus and halakhah lemaaseh — are not entirely disjoint.

    I think this addresses your first three items. However, as for #4… What is clear is that the author of a survey collected sources, whereas a typical Litvisher poseiq wouldn’t necessarily bother. We often find the Igeros Moshe say “ein li seifer zeh tachas yadi — I don’t have this book”, the book the questioner mentions, “under my hand”. And yet Rav Moshe’s son was at Beigelesen’s bookstore 5 days a week for most of the decades in question and borrowing a copy was trivial. Litvisher norms in pesaq tend to be more about the few bigger name sources and reason, not breadth.

  7. shlomo says:

    You will forgive me for I do not understand your answer. I showed three points. 1. That the CC himself in the MB many times goes along with the Minhag. 2. The Aruch Hashulchan only predates the MB for the 1st and 3rd volumes.
    My third point regarding the fact that the CC used the MB himself and also intended its use for the many. In Prof. Benjamin Brown article Soft stringency (which I cant claim to agree with at all see last PGH here) he writes on page 7 that it was the CC’s opinion that this is the Halacha and that is what the Haskamos on the sefer MB say and this is what his son wrote. Regarding the vague terminology that he uses in his introduction, the only way to prove anything would be to compare it to the Shach or the Bais Yosef’s introduction’s and see if they wrote anything differently or not. There is much anecdotal testimony that he held like the MB (see Meir Einey Yisrael page 18 and 139 and many more).
    My fourth point that the CC had many more sefarim. I do not understand what LItvish means; the Shach quotes an enormous amount of Sefarim, the GR”A also the Magen Giborim, Artzos Hachaim, and many and most achronim also “survey collected sources”; and if these are not Litvish then who is. Given that some are certainly more important that others, but I think all would agree that having access to more RIshonim and original כתב יד would help you come to the more correct conclusion (you find many times the CC writes in the MB ספר הנדפס מחדש כגון ריטב”א על פסחים וכן מאירי וכן אשכול וכו).
    Regarding how Prof. Benjamin Brown understands the MB’s methodology as soft stringent because he uses stringent terms more often and he proves this with a table in the beginning (this is his whole basis for his article). This in essence seems flawed because the MB is about double the size of the Aruch Hashulchan in words and many fold than the other Achronim, that being the case of course you will find him using those terms more often. The only real way to know would be to go through every single דין and to compare it to the Aruch Hashulchan and see who is stricter (which I am almost done doing now BTW).

  8. micha says:

    Replying pointwise:

    1- Yes, the MB at times does choose minhag. As I said, we cannot speak in absolutes. Those are exceptions to his method; or perhaps cases where minhag buttresses his point rather than creates it. I didn’t do a complete analysis. But in any case, the instances where he does follow minhag doesn’t create a general tendency to his work.

    2- There was no assertion about which came first. Interesting historical point about which volumes of the MB he quotes, for which I thank you. But not really something I thought required an “answer”. BTW, RYME published CM first, so the fact that the two overlapped when woring on OC still places much of the AhS earlier.

    3- You are arguing with the MB itself. I am quoting the original title page and introduction of the book. They can’t be wrong. The MB is a survey intended for study, it tells you that’s what it is for.

    3b- There are no intimation that the AhS would be more lenient. Many times minhag (in the sense of how the din is followed, not of customs) goes way beyond what halakhah mandates.

    4- The CC tells you the MB is a survey, so of course it cites many sefarim. His point was to give a precise of what his many sefarim say. Whether you agree with how his contemporaties (Be’er Yitzchaq or Achiezer) pasqened or not.

    But as I said, my main point is #3. I do not know how one can argue about the intended role of the MB when the book tells you its intended role.

  9. shlomo says:

    2-RYME published CM first on SH”A, but the CC published MCHY and CC before the CM was published, but I dont see any relevance between CM and OCH.
    3- I’m not accustomed to do research for other people. However I looked up the PMG and the Taz’s introduction on their title page (whom the consensus is that they both paskened completely and are not just a compendium of points). They both write not to be סומך on them and that their sefer is just a reference guide for “points”. The MB clearly understood both of these Sefarim to Pasken. I think what Prof Brown wrote regarding this would make a lot more sense; that the CC was an extremely humble person and left things vague on purpose (also see the bio from his son, on why the CC kept the Beer Heitiv in his sefer because he was nervous to take all the credit for himself).
    BTW how he conducted himself (tzitzis out or not and many more examples), his son discuss this. He writes that my father had a Mesora on many things and most of all his Mesora was to follow the GRA (for the average person who does not have this Mesora, he should follow the MB).
    4. What is the Litvish Mehalch exactly?

  10. shlomo says:

    One more point regarding 3.
    In the letters of the CC (I can find which one if you want). He expresses gratitude to Reb Yakov Iskolsky for selling 1000 sets of MB in America. It would be a bit interesting if in נדחי ישראל the CC writes that most (if not all 99 percent) of americans are עמי הארץ and would then send a sefer for them to not know the bottom line Din. We might just have to conclude that the CC was a humble man and wrote accordingly.

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