Avodah Mailing List

Volume 08 : Number 063

Monday, December 3 2001

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2001 12:45:22 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re:Chabad Customs

At 02:10 PM 11/28/01 -0500, RaphaelIsaacs@aol.com wrote:

>R' Chaim Naeh was a Chabad posek. His shiurim are standard in the Chabad
>world, except for mikveh measurements, which are closer to the Chazon
>Ish's numbers.

I do not think RCN counts as a Chabad Posek - he was the safra d'dyna of 
the pre-State Badatz, IIRC, and recorded Minhag Yerushalayim, which is 
based on the Rambam's measure of an etzba, which in turn was based, IIRC, 
on the size of the Egyptian drachma. The Minhag Yerushalayim was the minhag 
ha'mekkubal b'chol tefutzos Yisroel (well, maybe not Prague, where the Noda 
b'Yehuda introduced the CI shiurim - forgive the anachronism) until the CI 
asserted the NbY to be correct. V'ho'ra'ayah - the bechers of the CC and R' 
Yisroel Salanter were smaller than the CI shiur.

Kol Tuv,

ygb@aishdas.org      http://www.aishdas.org/rygb

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Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2001 18:51:18 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: TIDE and TuM

I wrote:
: An existentialist Jew sees the ideal not in terms of being a good Jew, but
: in constantly striving to become a good Jew. 

Actually, a significant part of existentialism does not fit with
yiddishkeit. The notion that man has no function. This allegedly yeilds
existential dread unless the person can assign one to himself.

So, I guess it would have been better to say:
    An existentialist Jew sees the ideal not in terms of being a good
    Jew, but in constantly striving to become a good Jew given his own
    nature and what he has to work with.

This combines the search for meaning along with Yahdus's absolute purpose.
It also explains why we were given a Torah that has shiv'im panim.


Micha Berger                     Life is complex.
micha@aishdas.org                    Decisions are complex.
http://www.aishdas.org                   The Torah is complex.
Fax: (413) 403-9905                                    - R' Binyamin Hecht

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Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2001 06:03:58 EST
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: TIDE and TuM

In a message dated 11/15/2001 11:35:49am EST, micha@aishdas.org [quotes]::
> The prestigious status of the great Torah scholars even in the outside
> world, added to the pride of the students within. This fact helped
> influence the brainiest youngsters to strive for excellence in learning.
> Even on the social scene, the Talmid Chacham used to be at the top.

FWIW growing up in New England (albeit W. hartford and not Boston) I heard
that Irish Cops in Boston referred to RYBS as "His eminence" - placing
him on par with then Richard Cardinal Cushing. We all took chizzuk over
the fact that the Rav's greatness penetrated such cultural barriers...

> Therefore, those who supposedly see themselves as the guardians of the
> Rav's legacy, by teaching Talmud and Halacha in quasi academic method
> and style, lacking the vitality and old charm of Gemara learning, are
> performing disservice to the great master's true spirit....

I heard this from R, Kanarfogel:
<<In shiur the Rav was very sharp and did not suffer fools graciously
OTOH in grad school he was most collegial and amiable and often took
students '"svaraos" good-naturedly>>

in fact this is how I understood TuM in the RYBS Belkin era:

Torah was taught in aboslutely Yeshivishe style in RIETS in the grad
schools (and in TI/EMC/IBC) it was taught in a more academic
Synthesis could only be acomplished by learning Torah in its pristine
form via the old Masorah. Only after one master a modicum of Torah
ccould one apply scientific academic methods, and even then only in the
confines of the secular lecture hall.

EG Professor MS Feldblum required 200 blatt Gmar learned inthe traditional
method before taking his grad school course. (AFAIK he never enforced
this strctily but that was the stated ideal).

If you were to ask how the Talmudics of BRGS differefed from JTS I would
say this, at BRGS you were expected to be learned in the Yeshivishe
derech first and then you built on that by learning about girsa'os and
historical and/or geographicl trends

At JTS, the yeshivish method was bypassed and novices were taught the
"Parparos ha Chachma" before the "ikkarei Halachah"

Shalom and Regards
Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2001 13:54:03 -0500
From: MPoppers@kayescholer.com
Re: Quantification

In Avodah V8 #62, Akiva Miller writes:
> I would like to suggest some precedent from Chazal which point clearly
towards quantifying a specific facet of the situation because it is the
simplest and most practical solution, even if it is not the most "proper"
or "accurate" solution.

> Namely: the 20-amah height limit for the s'chach of a sukkah, or of a
Chanukah menora. <

As I'm sure you know, in this and in other numerical guidelines, CHaZaL
were guided by our m'sorah (e.g. in this case, Yosaif's brothers couldn't
see the danger at the bottom of the pit they threw him into 'cuz it was
over 20 amos deep). Without getting mired in the materialism issue per
se, is there a m'sorah behind the number 400?

All the best from
Michael Poppers * Elizabeth, NJ

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Date: Sat, 1 Dec 2001 21:22 +0200
Killing a Treifa

Someone on AREIVIM asked about the halachic aspects of killing a treifa.
The Chazon Ish on Hilchot Ishut 27 s"k 3 indicates that nowadays if there
is a possible treatment of the disorder, that person is NOT in the category
of treifa. See also Rambam Hilchot Rotzeach u'Shmirat Nefesh 2:8 "v'yomru

R. Samet who died of a subarachnoid hemorrhage in the incident in Jerusalem
was not in the category of treifa since subarachnoid hemorrhage can be
treated (endovascular occlusion, hypothermia, magnesium).

I think that the docs on this list (R. Meir Shinnar, R. Shaul Weinreb)
would agree with me that there are some situations that would engender
the category of treifa b'adam [traumatic injury to great vessels which
has an immediate 85% mortality rate with another 2/3 dying within 2 days].
I have had a kid with Marfan's syndrome and an alcoholic with Bourhave's
syndrome die on us in the emergency room where nothing could have saved
them even if they had the aortic rupture during surgery with 3 thoracic and
vascular surgeons present.


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Date: Sat, 1 Dec 2001 23:37:56 EST
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: Chazon Ish on Nature

In a message dated 11/30/2001 1:36:30pm EST, Daniel Eidensohn
yadmoshe@012.net.il writes:
> G-d gave the authority to define treifos to Chazal according to their
> ruach hakodesh. It was necessary that this fixing of the definition of
> treifos be done during the 2000 years of Torah. So even though our current
> biology is not that of Chazal - the defintion of treifos is unchanged.

or maybe we sipmly have no methodolgy to fixt it, kind of like being stuck 
with the Julian formula for v'sein Tal Umatar even though our astronmical 
calculations are far more precise than the old Julian Method

AISI, all we are mising is a bona fide Sanhedrin to make the necesary 
Shalom and Regards
Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2001 04:28:00 EST
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: terefah

In a message dated 11/29/2001 6:31:23am EST, gil_student@hotmail.com writes:
> Also, following along the lines of Maharatz Chajes,
> even if the general categories of tereifos are miSinai there can still
> be machloksim on the details.

Reminds me of the Rambam's Ikkarim! <smile> 

Shalom and Regards
Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Sat, 1 Dec 2001 21:49:37 -0500
From: "yosef stern" <avrahamyaakov@hotmail.com>
shiurim and Chabad

Eli Turkel writes:
>I don't think that R. Chaim Naeh quotes Chabad in his work on shiurim.

That is probably because you never learnt his seforim, because he brings
Shitas Chabad (of more than 1 Rebbe) all over the place in his Sefer
Shiurei Torah and Shiurei Mikvah.

>His main argument was based on the size of the Arabic Durham and that Sefardim
>have kept the same shiur throughout their stay in Israel based on the Rambam.

That does not mean that he does not bring Shitas Chabad

>Is it pure coincidence that this shiur is the same as Chabad was using
>from the days of the Baaal haTanya

Actually it is not the same the shiur, as for example Pidyon Haben in
the Ravs' Siddur is a little bit bigger than RCN. The Shiur Etzba (and
subsequently Amoh & Mil) of the Rebbe Rashab were greater than RCN.

>the Baaal haTanya who probably did not know about the Durham.

I would not put anything passed him.

>Where did the Baal haTanya get his size from?

RCN writes in one of the above Seforim that the Baal HaTanya did alot
of research into Shiurim (and even changed from his earlier shito in
many things e.g. the size of a Gris) and he used the help of his Sofer
R. Reuven who had modern (for those days) measuring equipments.

>Or possibly did Chabad in this century accept the shiurim of RCN against
>what had been accepted in previous years because RCN was Chabad?

The reason they excepted his view is because he was a Chabad Chosid who
did extensive research into Shiurim taking into his account the Shiurim
of the Chabad Rebbes.

kol tuv
yosef stern

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Date: Sun, 02 Dec 2001 21:03:27 -0500
From: "Gil Student" <gil_student@hotmail.com>
Re: Chazon Ish on Nature

I found a few teshuvos in which R. Moshe Feinstein discussed this.
It is possible, if not likely, that I missed some (I don't have my copy
of Yad Moshe handy). However, these are the ones I came up with: EH 2:3;
CM 2:73; YD 3:36.

In all three of the teshuvos RMF takes essentially the same position
as the Chazon Ish but expands on it a bit more. He says that since the
treifos were halachos leMoshe miSinai they must apply to all times and
the concept of nishtana hateva cannot remove their relevance. RMF even
asks that if certain death determined what is a treifah, what was the
need for an halachah leMoshe miSinai?

However, there is an interesting (apparent) inconsistency in the teshuvos.
In all three, RMF says that the dinnim of treifos were determined at
Matan Torah. Whatever defect caused death is considered a treifah
even after nature has changed. However, there is a problem with this
because the Mishnah says that the general rule is that anything that
cannot live is a treifah. That implies that still at the time of the
Mishnah the treifos still definitively determined death. In addition
to that, the gemara actually says that Amoraim tested treifos and if
an animal lived, its defect could not be a treifah. Perhaps because of
these questions, the teshuvah in Choshen Mishpat (dated 5742, which some
might find significant; first paragraph in section 4) adds the seemingly
contradictory idea that "there was a rule on the time of the Tannaim,
the sages of the Mishnah, and possibly also the [time of the] Amoraim,
the sages of the Gemara, and whatever was included in the rule then was
prohibited forever as an halachah leMoshe miSinai". Sort of "mesaran
hakasuv lachachamim" like with Chol Hamoed (although many rishonim had
trouble with this).

Gil Student

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Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2001 14:00:34 EST
From: Joelirich@aol.com
Re: aveilut

In a message dated 11/30/2001 1:37:41pm EST, RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com writes:
> It is also said that the kind of leraning that is mishkachas aveilus is
> leraning be'iyyun. If you darshen hilchos Aveilues depl yenough there
> is that sepcial jof of learning. Lich'ora such a joy - i.e. the joy
> of forgetting one's tazroos - is not likely in limmud mishanyos alone
> unless one goes very deeply into it.

Does anyone make this chiluk lhalcha (ie banning deep learning of hilchot
aveilut for an avel)?

Shabbat Shalom
Joel Rich

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Date: Sat, 1 Dec 2001 22:20:09 +0200
From: "Shlomoh Taitelbaum" <sjtait@surfree.net.il>
re: Pregnant Women in Cemeteries

<<R. Shimon Eider in his Hilchos Nidah (single volume edition, p. 272)
"recommends" that pregnant women not enter cemeteries because of
the potential danger to the unborn baby. He cites no source for this

FWIW, I asked Dr. Abraham (Shea) Twerski at a l'vaya about that (k'yadua,
he comes from a rebbeshe/rabbonishe background) and he saw and knew of
no problem with it.


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Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2001 19:01:45 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Shabbos Challah Placement

On Mon, Nov 26, 2001 at 04:09:09PM -0800, Eli Turkel wrote:
: 1. For lechem mishne they say the 2 challot should be side by side covered
: by ones 10 fingers. I always thought that one is on top of the other and
: the order is given by kabbalah with differences between shabbat eve and
: shabbat morning

We do not know the reason for the order. In fact, didn't Menasheh (the king,
not the sheivet) appear in a chalom to tease Chazal for their ignorance of it?


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Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2001 19:04:37 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Rambam on nature of G-d

On Tue, Nov 27, 2001 at 02:47:43PM -0500, Arie Folger wrote:
: Now,  do you think that the logic through which Rambam links unity and 
: incorporeality applies to those who believe in 10 sefirot?

You are assuming that the relationship between the Eitz Chayim and HKBH
biKhvodo uveAtzmo is any closer than that of the Amud haAnan / haEish of
the midbar. If the Rambam did not see the latter as a corporealization
of G-d, I would not assume he would consider the former to be disunity.


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Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2001 15:53:55 EST
From: DFinchPC@aol.com
Re: Avodah V8 #62

> This is important to undrestanding the difference in how Tosfos seems to
> overturn a Gmara and how C do it. Tosfaos strgulles to harmonize the text
> with the practice. He eoes research, he comes up with a re-interpretatoin
> to make pshat better fithte minhag. But he never AFAIK says" Hey who
> cares what the Gmara says, it's not our minhag! <smile>"

I think this comment is exactly right. Tosafos tries to understand Gemara in 
the face of logical inconsistency, apparent self-contradiction, rubbery falls 
down the slippery slope, etc. To accomplish this, it pursues its goal of 
harmonization. It also pursues the somewhat more subtle goal of unification, 
i.e., metaphorically speaking, the sense that all Torah is a reflection of 
one (unreachably complex and elusive) truth, and that all Torah study, 
including the 1900-year-old dialogue of Talmud, is an evolving explication of 
that single truth before an audience of One -- i.e., before HaShem. That 
makes classic Talmudic study a holy act.

Most Conservatives are less concerned with unification of halacha. They see 
the Talmud as a recurring debate over points raised by various historical 
texts, each of which reflect the conditions of its own time, sociological and 
cultural context, etc. To Conservatives, notions of precedence, hierarcy, 
etc., are irrelevant to the nature or holy validity to this debate. Instead, 
they see these notions as largely mechanical. These notions reflect the 
rabbinic process itself, not a Divine order of interpretive understanding of 
Torah. These Conservatives look at Talmud the way, for example, that I might 
look at the debate over the Federalist Papers. 

I recall that one of my literature professors at Cornell once said of T.S. 
Eliot's poetry, "That's cold, cold stuff, man. Understand that you can burn 
yourself on ice."

David Finch

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Date: Sat, 1 Dec 2001 23:48:27 -0500 (EST)
From: "Jonathan Baker" <jjbaker@panix.com>
Hazon Ovadia & RRW

I had a thought about this week's haftarah. The next to last pasuk seems
to encapsulate the bifurcation of tradition in galus that was to happen.
The golus of Yerushalayim in Sefarad, the Bnei Yisrael as far as Tzarfat:

Yerushalayim is associated with golus Bavel, as in the Megillah, "asher
hoglah miyrushalaim, im yechoniah melech yehudah." And the Eastern
tradition went all the way over as far as Spain.

Whereas, bnei Yisrael, the people left in Eretz Yisrael after the Roman
persecutions, went up through central Europe to start the Ashkenaz thing
in Franco-Germany, or Tzarfat.

Loosely, at least, it works, prefiguring RRW's fave theory which he got
from Dr. Agus, and which is the subject of much of I.M. Ta-Shma's writing.

   - jon baker    jjbaker@panix.com     <http://www.panix.com/~jjbaker> -

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Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2001 05:30:49 EST
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: Pregnant Women in Cemeteries

In a message dated 11/30/2001 1:36:55pm EST, gil_student@hotmail.com writes:
> This issue has come up here before. I found that R. Shimon Eider in
> his Hilchos Nidah (single volume edition, p. 272) "recommends" that
> pregnant women not enter cemeteries because of the potential danger to
> the unborn baby. He cites no source for this recommendation.

There are communities that prohibit women from attending burial part of
funerals. I have either heard this or imagined that this was promulgated
to prevent pregnant women from miscarrying CV and was probably enacted
as a result of such a ma'aseh. Unfortunately I have no sources.

If there are no written sources, I would chalk this up to "folk wisdom"
- something that after all I respect. After all Jewish mothers knew
the value of chicken soup long before scientists figured it out! <smile>

Shalom and Regards
Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2001 05:47:08 EST
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com

In a message dated 11/11/2001 7:15:40pm EST, DFinchPC@aol.com writes:
> Because most family minhaggim are rooted geographically in Ashkenazic
> community dynamics that no longer exist. These dynamics developed
> subtly over centuries. Hitler killed them off. They've been replaced by
> such modern pan-geographic phenomena of Da'as Torah, Bnai Brakism, and
> pick-your-favorite Gdolim. Minhag is now often a political statement,
> or the product of political processes. Some of these processes are,
> plainly put, radical. Indeed, one might argue that contemporary Orthodox
> "fervency" is by its very terms radical. This isn't to suggest that such
> fervency is religiously wrong. But it sure isn't truly Right.

I don't fault your logic. Unfortunately, the upheavlas and uprootings may
have damaged the Minhag evolution in favor of more radeical tenchniques

Nevertheless, our points bespeak the wisomd of Minhag as a moderating
process, as well as a solidarity process.

By Moderating, Minhag can stablitize practice by avoiding radical lurches
to the left or to the right. Minhag forms a TSBP that gives us some
flexiblity re: how literally to take a text.

The Solidarity aspect is that communities not only felt bound by location,
but also across generations.

Note that Chabad has maintained its oral traditions re: Shalosh Shudos,
and that other communities have been able to maintain a sense of

Shalom and Regards
Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2001 04:58:24 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: Praying Without Kavana

--- Gil Student <gil_student@hotmail.com> wrote:
> Eliezer Berkovits, Essential Essays, p. 25
> "Such, of course, is not the ideal form of prayer; at the same time, it
> is no small achievement to have taught the lips to 'pray' on their own,
> without the conscious participation of the heart and mind. It shows that
> the human organism, from whose own nature hardly anything could be further
> removed than the wish to pray, has actually submitted to direction by
> the will to prayer... "

Yes Dr. Berkovitz was a profound thinker. The question is did
Dr. Berkovitz therefore want to do away with the formal prayer written
by the AKHG? I'm not sure.

R. Aaron Soloveichik once said that the purpose of Negel Vasser in
the mornong is to wash away the Ruach Ra which he defines as bacteria.
He said that now-a-days we have much better ways of doing it such as
using soap. But he also said we do not have the power today to chandge
thje Halacha proscribed by our sages.


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Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2001 04:37:53 EST
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: R. Eliezer Berkovits

In a message dated 11/29/2001 3:30:42am EST, DFinchPC@aol.com writes:
> By the way, where would the new Sanhedrin, with its power to ignore prior
> rabbinical legislation, get its understanding what did or didn't happen
> at Sinai? Or would the new Sanhedrin be bound by past learning just as
> we are? If so, what would be "new" about it?

AIUI it is based upon Rambam Hil. Mamrim 1:1 Beis din haghadol is
ikkar TSBP...

Having the power to overturn does not necessarily imply that there will
be any significant chnages. It just means that since the Churban,
we have not had a bona fide Sanhedrin and therefore Halachah became
somewhat fixed.

Shalom and Regards
Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2001 05:22:10 EST
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: FW: Rav Berkovits

In a message dated 11/29/2001 3:30:52am EST, ' writes:
> Personally, I have mixed emotions about Dr. Berkowitz. I am both a
> great admirer of his independant type of thinking but, at the same time
> find it difficult to go to the extremes that he suggests. As to casting
> aspersions on Dr. Berkowitz's Status Post Mortem, once again I have only
> asked the question, not labeled him. And most of the responses here on
> Avodah have been very favorable to Dr. Berkowitz.
> It is rather well know that Dr. Berkowitz was considered an Apikores
> in his lifetime by many Gedolei Israel. I saw a Ksav Yad in english
> from R. Gifter clearly labeling Dr. Berkowitz an Apikores. When I asked
> Dr. Berkowitz about it, he of course vehemently denied it and said that
> his positions were misunderstood and he explained why. I believe that
> he WAS indeed misunderstood and that he was likely NOT an Apikores. But
> he was definitely not mainstream. He was radical in his thinking and a
> Daas Yochid, which of course he had every right to be.
> The question still remains as to how radical one has to be before he
> crosses the line into Apikursus.

For me the line is crossed when one agitates changing Halachah based
upon one's ideosyncratic view w/o due repsect for consensus or tradition.

A "frum" radical has a right to propose a new POV, but he should also
have enough deference to allow himself to be over-ruled.

An example of same is the Sridei Eish. The SE did not let his original
thinking get in the way of Halachah lema'aseh nor did his originality
cause a lack of deference for more traditional g'dolim.

Perhaps Ibn Ezra was another case in point. His peirush was quite
original, he did not feel bound by Talmud and Midrash, yet AFAIK he never
attacked Midrashic approaches nor did he use his own interpretations
to abbrogate Halachic norms. OTOH, he did attack some Karaitic

Rashbam's peirush might fit in this mold, too.

Shalom and Regards
Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2001 06:41:32 EST
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: Dr. Eliezer Berkowitz and the Abrogation of the Shulchan Aruch

In a message dated 11/26/2001 4:03:49pm EST, gil_student@hotmail.com writes:
>> Dr Berkowitz further contends that the codification of Torah SheBal
>> Peh (oral law) is an aberration of it's essential nature, an
>> imposition created by historical exigencies, compounded by the
>> destruction of Bayis Sheni.

> The Dor Revi'i says similarly in his introduction to Chullin.  He argues 
> that we are stuck with whatever was codified in Shas.  The Oral Torah 
> cannot progress beyond that point.

> Others, however, argue that this is the natural, historical progression
> that Hashem intended.

AIUI the original process ended with the Churban not with Shas. Shas is
therefore part of a continuum of interpreting and understanding TSBP.
No new legistlation is really possible - except for speical takknos -
but psak and minhag is possible.

Shas, and its cognate texts such as Yershulami, Tosefta, Midrash,
etc. are a prims by which we have received TSBP from the last bona fide
Sanhedrin. Rishonim are a prism by which we receive Shas. The process
flows like a river dowstream with opinions being codified, others being
rejected, and some still in flux.

While many poskim have gone back to Shas and re-constituted Halachah
based upon novel interpretations, I am opposed to this tehcnique. AIUI,
the Ri Migash required factorign in Gaonic opinions. I would similarly
insist on factoring in Rishonim before issuing anything revisionary.
While I accept Brisker derech in lamdus, I reject its application in
Halachah lemaaseh because revisionistic interpretatoins are not valid
unless they have adressed the intervening psak.

EG, if we pasken that techeilles eino me'akkev es halavan we cannot
revisionistically go back to shas and change that psak and start over
again. And if we did, we would need to deal with the Rishonim who AFIAK
universally assume this psak.

There are those who submit that any post Talmudic psak is fair game
for revision. In that case the SA is just another post-Talmudic opinion
and ONLY Shas is binding. I find myself submitting to the Masorah that
brought shas to us. Let's face it, TB was redacted circa 500-600 CE
in Bavel and is a long way off for us. Tosafos, Rambam and SA are much
close in time and geography. Understanding pshat in a sugya is tough,
and furthermore you really need to know all of shas to see if any sugya
is modified by other sugyos.

I don't have a problem when a great Gaon insists on saying a mistake
is made, I have a real problem running with that revision for Halacha
lma'ase. To me that is a rejection of Tradition and puts on on a very
splippery slope.

To take this to an extreme, just read Gmara w/o any rishonim and use it
as a Shulchan Aruch. I find this unwiledly at best, ignroing history,
and codifying the TSBP in a written Canon which is davka agains the
entire concept of an Oral Tradition in the first place.

OTOH, I do not object to original "parshanus" nor other ofrms of
research for adademic purposes. To what end do they serve? Over time
new interpretations may INFLUENCE but not revise the way Halacha is
implemented in fact.

Dr. Berkowitz alludes to the possiblity of the barogatoin of the SA. I
am telling you that this abboragatoin is a fait accompli in many "frum"
circles which advocate {practice} and ignoring Rishonim and Poskim in
favor or original reasearch inot Shas and drawing new conclusions.

AIUI, the churban ended the Sanhedrin and we reverted to a kind of
common law appraoch which - absent a legislature - functions to suplly
an authoriative continuity.

Ironically, any ShuT sysmte that ignores ShuT will invite being ignored.
So if you show me a sefer of Tshuvos that ignores precedent and goes
back to Shas, you can take that as a meta-insturction to ignore HIS
Tshuva and go back to Shas yourself

If you follow the Traditional School, you know that whe nit comes to
Halachah the Talmud has been filtered by Rif Rambam. Rosh, Tur SA Mappah
etc. into a form that is accessaible to us today in such sefarim as MB
or Aruch haShulchan etc.

Shalom and Regards
Rich Wolpoe
Moderator of TorahInsight
"Knowledge without Insight is like a horse in a library" - Vernon Howard    

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Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2001 04:52:02 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: FW: Rav Berkovits

--- RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com wrote:
> > The question still remains as to how radical one has to be before he
> > crosses the line into Apikursus.

> For me the line is crossed when one agitates changing Halachah based upon 
> one's ideosyncratic view w/o due repsect for consensus or tradition.

Perhaps, but Dr. Berkovitz obviously felt that this was precisely the
problem. Tradition had been so codified and evolved to become infallable
which he believed was the antithesis of Torah SheBal Beh.

He told me that he personally believed that courage was lacking upon the
present day generation to effect legitimate change Halacha. He related to
me that he had gone to R. Moshe Feinstien with his proposals to aleiviate
the plight of Agunos (at the urging of the Sridei Eish himsellf, I later
found out). He toiled many years on this project. R. Moshe's response
was that he saw nothing wrong with the solutions Dr. Berkovitz proposed
Halachicly but that since it had never been done before we can't do it
now. At this point Dr. Berkovitz said (almost a direct quote) "There
are no Gedolim today... If he is a Gadol so am I."

It should be noted that Dr. Berkovitz had a disclaimer at the begining
of his controversial book saying that even though he considerd himself a
Talmid of the SE this work was based on his own thinking developed over
many years.


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Date: Sun, 2 Dec 2001 12:15:53 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Dr. Berkovitz

--- RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com wrote:
> I'm not sure the context of R. Gifter's statment  
> 1)I  would not label a person "heretic" etc. for advocating a radical 
> proposal alone.  People are entitle to think out loud, so to speak (or is 
> that so to think? <smile>).
> 2) Ad hominem attacks obscure the issues.  

There was a common misperception about Dr. Berkovitz in the sixties. It
was that he wanted to adapt the torah to fit the times. Many leveled this
accusation at him including R. Gifter. This idea is of course Apikursus
but Dr. Berkovitz never said it. What he did say is that you have to
apply the Torah to todays times. Quite a different statement and one
which is qiute accurate.

Unfortunately, HTC has always been a controversial institution, especially
amongst RW yeshivos. I could go into the long history of the place but
now is not the time. The fact that Dr. Berkovitz was on the faculty was
often cited by many on the "Right" as proof that HTC was not a legitmate
Yeshiva and even Assur to attend.


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