Avodah Mailing List

Volume 14 : Number 102

Monday, March 28 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Fri, 25 Mar 2005 01:32:18 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org>
Toras Purim 5765 part 2

Now we must deal with the Nachal in Nachlah, the word that begins with
Haman's Nun, which min ha'stam alludes to Haman's downfall. The obvious
reference is to Shaul's war against Amalek, concerning which it says:
Vayarev BaNachal (Shmuel I 15:5). The Radomsker, al pi remez, provides
us with an approach (Tiferes Shlomo, Mosdim, Rimzei Purim (27). Much of
what he writes is heavily Kabbalistic, but for our purposes, he notes
that Nachal is the acrostic of N-otzer C-hesed L-iAlafim. This Chesed
is the Chesed that the Tzaddikim need to draw from Hashem's ancient
will ("Ratzon Elyon") -- the will to do Chesed, which was the reason
for Creation ("Nachal Kedumim"). Hence Notzer has the same letters as
Ratzon. Moshe in gematria is Ratzon as well, and Chazal equate Mordechai
with Moshe. In this light, "Veratzui lirov echav" may be taken to mean
that Mordechai drew out the ancient will from the "Nachal Elyon" (which
Shaul should have done, but did not as he failed in his mission), which
taps into the special relationship of Am Yisroel and Hashem and guards
them from Amalek. Thus, indeed, Nachal is the antidote to Amalek. Another
approach may be gleaned from the Yaaros Dvash, Hemshech Derush 8.

But if we may forgiven a Purim gematria, Nachalah in gematria equals
Vayehi Beyemei -- the first words of the Megillah. That could be
enough of a link, but yesh lihosif. Chazal in Meseches Megillah and
in Esther Rabba tell us that anytime Vayehi Beyemei appears in Tanach
it is a language that connotes tzarah. The term Nachalah teaches us
the principle that Hashem creates the cure before the disease, and kol
d'avid Rachamana l'tav. (BTW, kol d'avid Rachamana l'tav is the gematria
of Revach ViHatzalah Yaamod -- that not just will there be a Hatzalah,
but a gain -- a Revach -- from all our travails.) As we have noted in the
past, Amalek in gematria is Safek. He casts doubt on our relationship with
Hashem. We must be secure in our bitachon that Hashem is doing whatever he
does for our ultimate benefit. Then we experience the Simchah of Purim --
Ein Simchah K'Hatoras Ha'Sefeikos. And that leads back to the ultimate,
alternative meaning of the word under consideration -- to our Menuchah
and Nachalah.


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Date: Fri, 25 Mar 2005 02:04:54 EST
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: Eldad HaDani [was: Chasidishe Shechita]

In Areivim Digest V14 #220 dated 2/28/2005  R' SBA writes:
> AIUI  expecting the shochet going to the mikva is a BIG deal amongst  
> chassidim.
> I asked a local dayan about this today and he told me that  he remembered
> a Mordechai [in Chulin] quoting Eldad Hadani saying  the
> shochtim should be makpid on Tevilas Ezra.

Is Eldad Hadani really considered a legitimate source? I know that
Solomon Grayzel's *History of the Jews* is not exactly a frum book,
but here's what he says:

"About the year 875 a very strange man appeared among the Jews of northern
Africa and told a weird story. He spoke a peculiar kind of Hebrew mixed
with Arabic, and introduced himself as a member of the tribe of Dan.
He said that members of his tribe had escaped from the kingdom of Israel
Sennacherib had conquered and that Israelites of other tribes likewise
lived in that same distant land. Not far off, across an extraordinary
river that flowed with sand and stone all week long but ceased on the
Sabbath--hence the name Sambattion--lived the Children of Moses, a tribe
of saintly Levites...

"...The Jews who heard Eldad's story doubted it; they even suspected
him at first of being a tricky Karaite in disguise. But in a responsum
to their question the Gaon of that day assured them that most of the
story might be believed. Some modern scholars argue that Eldad was an
Ethiopian Jews. In his own day Eldad's story was soon accepted literally,
the Jews becoming convinced that mighty Jewish tribes lived in some
far-off land..."

Also see the Encyclopedia Britannica  
> English _Eldad The Danite_ flourished 9th century Jewish traveller and
> philologist who was generally credited with the authorship of a fanciful
> geographical narrative that exerted an enduring influence throughout
> the Middle Ages. This possibly gave rise to the legend of Prester John,
> the mighty Oriental priest-potentate of fabulous wealth and power.

And also the Jewish Encyclopedia: 
> Merchant and traveler of the ninth century. He professed to have been
> a citizen of an independent Jewish state in eastern Africa, inhabited
> by the tribes of Dan (hence his name, "ha-Dani" Naphtali. Starting from
> this alleged state, Eldad visited Babylonia, Kairwan, and Spain, causing
> everywhere a great stir among the Jews by his fanciful accounts of the
> Lost Ten Tribes, and by the halakot which he asserted he had brought
> from his native country. These halakot, written in Hebrew, deal with the
> slaughtering and subsequent examination of animals. They differ widely
> from the Talmudic ordinances....There are no less than eight versions
> with important variations.....

> On "the other side of the river of Kush" dwell the Bene Mosheh (tribe
> of Levi). The River Sambation encircles their land. It rolls sand and
> stones during the six working days and rests on the Sabbath. ....

> ....This fanciful narrative, the origin of which is to be found in
> the haggadic literature, of which Eldad must have had a very extensive
> knowledge, was accepted by his contemporaries as true...

> Talmudic authorities like Rashi, Abraham ben David (RABaD), and Abraham
> ben Maimon quote Eldad as an unquestioned authority; and lexicographers
> and grammarians interpret some Hebrew words according to the meaning
> given them in Eldad's phraseology.

> The influence of Eldad's narrative extended beyond Jewish circles. It
> was the source of the apocryphal letter of the so-called "Prester John,"
> which appeared in the twelfth century. Intending to refute Eldad's
> assertion of the existence of independent Jewish states an assertion
> contrary to the teaching of the Roman Church the Christian writer told
> of a priest who ruled over the great kingdom of Ethiopia, to which were
> subject some Jewish tribes, including the Bene Mosheh who dwelt beyond
> the River Sambation. The only writers of the Middle Ages who expressed
> doubts as to the genuineness of Eldad's narrative and his halakot were
> Abraham ibn Ezra (Commentary to Ex. ii. 22) and Me?r of Rothenburg
> (Responsa, No. 193).

R'SBA also wrote (re shochtim going to the mikva):
> PS A long time ago, I quoted a rebbe of mine who told us about the
> gaon Rav Yosef Engel z'l who once on Erev YK - kad bedicheh datei -
> told those around him - to list any minhag chassidim - and he will
> show the mekor in Chazal...

However, I think that Eldad Hadani cannot qualify as  "Chazal."

 -Toby  Katz

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Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2005 18:51:14 -0800 (PST)
From: "a. adereth" <adereth2003@yahoo.com>
Re: Startling historical beliefs

From "Gil Student" <gil@aishdas.org>
>> 7. God is a physical entity, anthropomorphism in all it's glory. [some
>> of the Chasidey Ashkenaz, Rishonim]

> We know of very few. Historians debate over whether or not this belief
> was widespread among talmidei chachamim.

I forwarded that anonymous blog comment to RMBerger. I didn't see
anything of note in the long list of "startling" positions. The only
point I expected to elicit interest was the quote from R"Y Mitroni, in
which RYMitroni asserts that there were chachmei hagemara who thought
God was corporeal.


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Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2005 22:42:58 EST
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com
Startling historical beliefs

>> 10. Hallal Hagadol was part of the Torah but was taken out and put in
>> Tehilim [R' Yehuda Hachasid]

> R. Menashe Klein has a different explanation of this passage that I
> think is very plausible.

I have unfortunately not been ever able to see the offending passage
inside but I think that it may be understood by referring to R. Saadia
Gaon's view on authorship of tehilim in introduction to tehilim. RSG
writes that all tehilim (even those with other author names) were dictated
directly to David Hamaleach and he draws a direct parallel to the way
the Chumash was given to Moshe Rabbeinu. If R. Yehudah Hachasid also held
this view, his statement becomes intelligible - both Chumash and Tehilim
basically would be of the same type of Revelation and it should not be as
surprising that non-chalachic passages could travel from one to another.

For a long discussion of R. Saadias' view see Four appraoches to the
book of pslams, by Uriah Simon, Magnes Press.

M. Levin

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Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2005 22:59:29 EST
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com
Re: Is Yahadus a 'religion'?

> The point of the catchy title is that religion is generally assumed
> to be about Human-God connection. However, R. Feldman is arguing that
> Judaism is also about the Human-Human connection, which might imply that
> Judaism is not just a religion, or at least not as the term is normally
> (mis)understood

One might suggest in a moshol inspired by Franz Rosenzweig, that the
magen david represents two overlapping triangles. The upper triangle
has three ends - man, G-d and World.

The lower - Torah, human soul and truth of experience, or perception. Man
stands at the center of the overlap. Judaism is the only religion that
locates him in the very middle of this overllap; all other religions
consist more or less of a single one of these lines and only two points.

M. Levin

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Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2005 21:53:19 -0500
From: Russell Levy <russlevy@gmail.com>
Re: schiavo case

I helped my wife write an essay on the Jewish perspective on euthanasia
a couple years ago -- it isn't too detailed since it was for a university
class. I'm going to try to find it somewhere and post it.

I seem to recall that Rav Moshe's pshat was that you could disconnect
for an hour at a time, and see what happens, NOT a week. Also, I think
RTK explained very well that an IV is very different from a respirator,
and even if it wasn't, she wasn't a goses; it's been 7 days! All the
cases that we found (in the gemara, poskim, etc) were all cases of
someone dying within 72 hours (a goses). She's dying of dehydration,
like any person would if you took away their water.


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Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2005 22:58:17 EST
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com
Re. Taanis Esther

In Avodah V14 #100 dated 3/24/2005 "Stein, Aryeh" <AStein@wtplaw.com>
>> Why is it referred to as Taanis Esther and not Tzom Esther? Why is
>> it referred to as Tzom Gedaliah and not Taanis Gedaliah?

> 1) Is there a difference in the meaning between the words Taanis
> and Tzom?

See Malbim to Yoel 2, 12 and 15. It seems that tsom refers to public
prayer and crying while taanis is simply fasting. So it also seems from
Ezra 9,6 and Taanis 12b.

M. Levin

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Date: Sun, 27 Mar 2005 11:54:32 +0200
From: "Prof. Aryeh A. Frimer" <frimea@mail.biu.ac.il>
What to Do when Erev Pesach Falls on Shabbat (5765): A Short Guide

What to Do when Erev Pesach Falls on Shabbat (5765): A Short Guide by Rabbi
Aryeh A. Frimer has been posted on the Website of The Rabbi Jacob berman
Community Center - Tiferet Moshe Synagogue, as follows:
In English:
In Hebrew:

Dr. Aryeh A. Frimer
Chemistry Dept., Bar-Ilan University
Ramat Gan 52900, ISRAEL
E-mail: FrimeA@mail.biu.ac.il

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Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2005 19:32:24 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: kavod hatorah

Shaya Potter <spotter@yucs.org> wrote:
> On Thu, 2005-03-24 at 15:18 -0800, Harry Maryles wrote:
>>> He's
>>> perfectly fine with Eruvim in NYC (for instance, there's an Eruv around
>>> YU that is actually covers the entire campus these days)

>> The campus of YU is not a Reshus HaRabbim D'Oraisa. AFAIK, it covers
>> the Kolel housing and dormitory area and does not cross Amsterdam
>> Avenue. At least this was the case when my daughter lived there about
>> three years ago. If there currently is an Eruv across Amsterdam
>> Avenue, I doubt that RHS supports it.

> wrong. :) as I live in the heights, I know.

I just had a quick look at the YU Eruv site you referenced and noticed
the situation at YU is one of being Koneh Reshus and D'lasos. That takes
the YU segment out of the geder of Reshus HaRabbim and is an entirely
different story.

The truth is that I do not know the exact situation with the Flatbush
Eruv. But it is my understnding that there are no D'lasos and therefore
RMF's Psak that it is a Reshus HaRabbim D'Oraisa still stands.

Perhaps RYGB, an expert in Eruvin, can weigh in on this issue. AIUI he
is familiar with the Pratim WRT to the Eruv in Flatbush and hopefully
as well with the new YU Eruv.


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Date: Sun, 27 Mar 2005 03:45:26 -0500
From: MPoppers@kayescholer.com
Re: Fwd: The 13 Rules and Logic

In Avodah V14 #101, Micha wrote:
> I have therefore started a few discussions here about why qal vachomer
> are...derashah, not sevarah. FWIW, I don't understand his/your
> explanation why qal vachomer is different in kind than a fortiori,
> and we can return to that question if anyone would like.

Not sure which discussions you're referring to, but what you quoted
from RML seems to concur that QvCH is a construct of d'rush (in that
it's based on analysis of p'suqim) and that it's not logic. I don't
understand his apparent equation of syllogism with arguing a fortiori,
but that's probably due to a chisaron in my understanding of one or both.

All the best from
 - Michael Poppers via RIM pager

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Date: Sun, 27 Mar 2005 08:30:24 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: Is Yahadus a 'religion'?

> [RGS:]
> > The point of the catchy title is that religion is generally assumed
> > to be about Human-God connection. However, R. Feldman is arguing that
> > Judaism is also about the Human-Human connection, which might imply that
> > Judaism is not just a religion, or at least not as the term is normally
> > (mis)understood

I've been moderately following this discussion and it seems to me that
a lot of the discussion depends on how one defines religion.

Religion can be said to mean the expression of man's belief in and
reverence for a superhuman power recognized as the creator and governor of
the universe. As such, it seems to me that Yahadus is precisely that. All
actions, therefore, whether pertaining to the Human-God connection or
the Human-Human connection are included.

Perhaps the reason the question is asked at all is because of the way
religion is looked at by the dominant host culture. Chistianity which also
falls into the category of religion as defined above, has always looked at
religion as the relationship between Man and God. As such one need not do
anything much more than go to church once a week. Such people are defined
by the culture as religious people. While it is true that Christians must
practice their religion 24/7, it is only a question of values to them,
not practices, (much like the Reform Judaism). AFAIK there is very little
ritual outside the church. Judaism, OTOH is replete with ritual and our
actions are completely dictated by the Torah... from which shoe to put
on first in the morning to what position to sleep in at night.

So to a Christian one can effectively (if not ideally) cut onseself
off from God and compartmentalize religion into a once a week event.
Christains think little if at all about interation with God in their
daily tasks. Judaism is quite the opposite in that an observant Jew
cannot take a step without the Shulcah Aruch. God should be in the
forefront of every activity we do. Da Lifnei Mi Amod is not only the
directive to a Shliach Tzibur but a motto for life.

All of this fits in quite well with the definition I cited above. So
the answer to the question in the subject line is, yes. Judaism is a
religion as it's every facet recognizes man's belief in and reverence for
a superhuman power recognized as the creator and governor of the universe.


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Date: Sun, 27 Mar 2005 17:52:34 -0500
From: "Jonathan S. Ostroff" <jonathan@yorku.ca>
RE: Startling historical beliefs

> 10. Hallal Hagadol was part of the Torah but was taken out and put in 
> Tehilim [R' Yehuda Hachasid]

I believe that the above quote is a misrepresentation of the position
of R. Yehudah Hachassid on Hallel Hagadol. About a year ago I posted an
article on Dr. Marc Shapiro's treatment (in his book) of the 8th ikkar
which contained a treatment of the above issue (see below for part of
that post).

I have investigated a number of claims of the above type and usually find
that they are flawed, sometimes deeply so. For example, Dr. Shapiro's
treatment of the seminal issue of the 8th ikkar appears thorough. Chapter
7 is impressively decorated with 191 footnotes, and has all the
appearances of impeccable scholarship. However, a detailed examination
shows many of the strong claims that are made to be unfounded (I provide
4 such examples in my original Avodah post, but there are others).

The problem is that these unfounded claims are easy to make -- but
time-consuming to debunk. We are also often dealing with rare sources
and kisvey yad that have not stood the test of detailed scrutiny by
expert talmidei chachamim. Caveat emptor.

KT ... JSO

Posted to Avodah about a year ago:
-- The Tzioni and Rebbe Yehuda Hachasid -- 

In Chapter 7, page 110 Shapiro writes:

<<Returning to R. Judah Hehasid, in addition to pointing to post
Mosaic additions, he makes another fascinating remark [in a recently
discovered manuscipt]. Commenting on Numbers 12:17 ('Then sang Israel
this song'), he claims that the 'song' referred to is the 'Great Hallel'
(Psalm 136). It was only in a later generation that King David removed it
from the Pentateuch, together with all the other anonymous psalms witten
by Moses, and placed them in the book of Psalms... Significantly, both
R. Avigdor Katz and the fifteenth century kabbalist R. Menahem Zioni, who
cites R. Judah Hahasid, quote this opinion without a hint of objection.>>

Shapiro omits to inform us of the objections of R. Moshe Feinstein zt"l to
this understanding of R. Judah Hahasid [IM YD 3, 114]. R. Moshe in fact
held that R. Judah Hachasid could never have written what is attributed
to him, and the manuscript thus had heretical interpolations. The issues
raised by Rabbi Feinstein are surely deserving of attention. I would say
that given the authoritative sources in the Babylonian Talmud [1-4] that
suggest Mosaic authorship of the Torah (except for the last 8 verses) do
we not need to investigate how any Rishon would allow massive tampering
with the text of the Torah (e.g. the removal of whole parshios) without
mustering authoritative counter-evidence?

Shapiro is, of course, aware of the Teshuva as he quotes it earlier:
"Feinstein's rejection of the authenticity of this passage (a midrash)
should be viewed as part of his pattern of discarding sources that do
not fit in with his understanding" [footnote 73, p101].

Thus, according to Shapiro, the Tzioni has no objection to massive
post-Mosaic tampering. One would expect an intellectual historian to
cross-check such damaging assertions with the rest of the published
sefer Tzioni [Zioni]. Unlike some other sources quoted by Shapiro, the
Tzioni is a known work quoted (I am told) in the Magen Avraham and the
Shelah. Let's see what such a check reveals.

In parshas Balak the Talmud [TB BB15a] states that Moshe wrote his own
sefer, parshas Bilam and Job. A question -- parshas Bilam is already
part of Moshe's sefer Torah?

The Tzioni answers: <<It is well-known that the whole Torah from
"Beraishis" until "in the eyes of all Israel" (i.e from the very first
word of the Torah to its very last word) was from the mouth of the
Holy One Blessed be He, to the ear of Moshe as it says "from his mouth
he dictated to me all his words and I wrote them on a scroll with ink
[Yermiyahu 36:18, a prooftext brought by R. Shimon in [3] to show that
Moshe wrote the whole Sefer Torah word for word as dictated to him by
G-d]. Know that here (in the official Sefer Torah) Moshe wrote only a
brief summary of the story of Bilam.. it appears from the Sages that that
Moshe wrote his own (private) sefer in addition to to the (official)
sefer Torah and the (private) sefer (with an expanded description of
parshas Bilam) was lost to us like many others.>>

So we see that the Tzioni (a) should have objected to any tampering
with the text of the Torah. In fact the Tzioni appears to reject the
opinion of R. Yehuda in [3] who held that the last 8 verses (and only
those verses) were written by Joshua. Instead he quotes only the opinion
of R. Shimon that every verse in the Torah, including the last eight,
were written by Moshe. According to the Tzioni we also see that (b)
Moshe had a private sefer (or sefarim).

In fact, (b) perhaps suggests that the Tzioni understood R. Judah
Hahasid to be saying that King David removed Hallel HaGadol from Moshe's
private "chumash" and put it in Tehillim, something that is totally
unobjectionable. Later I found this stated explicitly in the recently
released volume 6 of R. Menashe Klein's Mishna Halochos 102. See there
for more support for this idea than is brought to bear here.

 -- Talmudic sources---

[1] Sanhedrin Perek Chelek Mishna 1: All Israel has a share in the
world to come as it says [Is. IX. 21]: "And thy people-they will all
be righteous, for ever shall they possess the land, the sprout of my
planting, the work of my hands, that I may glorify myself." The following
have no share in the world to come: He who says that there is no allusion
in the Torah concerning resurrection, and he who says that the Torah
was not given by Heaven, and an Apikoros.

[2] TB Sanhedrin 99a: There is another Beraitha: "He hath despised the
word of G-d" means somebody who says that the Torah was not given by
Heaven, and even if he says that the Torah is given by Heaven, with the
exception of this verse, which was stated not by the Holy One Blessed
be He, but by Moses on his own, this too is an instance of "He hath
despised the word of G-d". And moreover if he says that the whole Torah
is by Heaven except such and such a dikduk, such a kal-vachomer, or such
an analogy of expression, this too is an instance of despising the word
of the Lord. [Quoted by the Rif and the Rosh, and also quoted lehalacha
at least twice in the Shulchan Aruch as explained by the commentaries].

[3] TB Baba Basra 15a: There is a Beraitha in accordance with him who
said that the last eight verses of the Torah were written by Joshua;
namely "And Moses the servant of the Lord died" [Deut. xxxvi. 5]. Is it
possible that Moses himself should have written 'and he died'? Therefore
it must be said that up to this verse Moses wrote, and from this
verse forward Joshua wrote. So said R. Joshua, according to others
R. Nehemiah. Said R. Simeon to him: Is it possible that the Holy Scrolls
should not have been complete to the last letter; does it not say "Take
this book of the law" [ibid., xxxi. 26]. Therefore, we must say that up to
this verse the Holy One, blessed be He, dictated, and Moses repeated and
wrote it down; and from this verse forward He dictated, and Moses with
tears in his eyes wrote it down; as thus it is says "Then said Baruch
unto them, With his mouth did he utter clearly all these words unto me,
and I wrote them in the book with ink" [Jer. xxxvi. 18]. According to
whom, then, is the following--that R. Joshua b. Aba, in the name of
R. Gidel, quoting Rav, said: "The last eight verses of the Pentateuch,
when read from the Holy Scrolls, must be read by one person without any
interruption"? Should it not be in accordance with R. Simeon? It may
be also in accordance with R. Simeon; and the reason for the exception
of these eight verses is because, as there was already a change at the
writing by Moses (as said above), the change is made also here. [Note
that even R. Yehuda agrees that everything in the Torah was written by
Moshe except the last 8 verses.]

[4] Megilla 2b: The double letters in the Hebrew alphabet--Mem, Nun,
Zadik, Pe, Kaph--the prophets have added. Is this possible? Is it not
written [Lev. xxvii. 34]: "These are the commandments"; from which we
infer these are the commandments, and no prophet has the power to innovate
any new matter? And furthermore, did not R. Hisda say that the Mem (when
it is the last letter of the word) and Samekh (which is round), which were
chased through the tables of Moses, were held in only by a miracle? This
is so, but it was not before known which letter must be in the middle of
the word and which at the end; and the prophets ordained that the open one
should be at the middle and the closed one final. But even that much had
they then the right to do? Therefore we must say that it was forgotten
and the prophets only restored them. [Thus a post Mosaic prophet did
not even have the right to tamper with the letters of the Torah].

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Date: Sun, 27 Mar 2005 12:52:36 -0500
From: "Samuel Svarc" <ssvarc@yeshivanet.com>
Re:schiavo case

From: "Gershon Seif" <gershonseif@yahoo.com>
>At an "Ask the Rabbi" session that Midwest NCSY ran two years ago which
>I attended, Rabbi Shmuel Fuerst, Dayan of the Agudah in the Midwest,
>was asked the following:

>Are the umos haolom guilty of murder in cases of brain death when they
>pull the plug? He answered they are not obligated to seek out a Jewish
>beis din to determine what is considered being alive. They are obligated
>to use their own legal system to attempt to arriving at truth. Then
>he added, I too, if I were just using common sense, would have told
>you that when someone is brain dead, they are considered dead and you
>could pull the plug. It is only the Torah that teaches us that this
>person is considered alive, and the umos haolam are not obligated to
>follow the conclusions of our beis din. That which for us is murder,
>for them might actually be merciful.

If that was the p'sak by brain death well and good. However, and please
correct me if I'm wrong here, Terry Schiavo is not brain dead just brain
damaged. She is not on a respirator, as I understand would be the case
by a brain dead individual, she just can't eat by herself. In this case
it's murder plain and simple.


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Date: Sun, 27 Mar 2005 13:27:33 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: fallibility or non fallibility of chazal

On March 22, 2005 Daniel Eidensohn 
> S & R Coffer wrote:

>>On Fri, 18 Mar 2005 Daniel Eidensohn wrote

>>>1) Disagreement between amoraim is not inherently related to the issue
>>>of infallibility. See the classic statement of eilu v'eilu in Rashi
>>>Kesubos 57a.

>>Interesting. This is precisely the Rashi that I always quote in defence
>>of my view. I enjoin you to look at Rashi again. He specifically states
>>that when two amoraim are arguing in a sevara, it might be possible to say
>>elu v'elu because although one sevara may make more sense, with a slight
>>change in circumstances the other sevara would gain ascendancy. Thus,
>>there is room for both sevaros (akin to what the Ritva says in chagiga)
>>However, if they are arguing factually, "chad meenayhoo mishaker" that
>>is, one is (inadvertently) misrepresenting the truth and therefore elu
>>v'elu would be impossible to say.

> As I said - disagreement is not inherently related to the issue of
> infallibility.

True, but it is the setting within which it occurs. If no one ever
disagreed, everyone would be infallible, right? :-)

> I think that you will find that the majority of
> disagreements do not deal with history but rather with sevara. 

This may be so but even sevara is fallible. Rashi only said that regarding
sevara, elu v'elu was *possible* to say, not necessary to say. Please
see my elucidation of the Maharal below.

> Rav Moshe
> Shapiro noted that there is a specific and rarely used term - badusa -
> indicating an actual error.

I do not agree with the above statement but will not advance a
counter-argument because I'm not sure in which context R' Moshe was
speaking. (I am loathe to form a superficial argument against such a
great man without being fully aware of the circumstances)

>>>As the Maharal points out in Baer HaGolah - halacha is
>>>something which has to be decided amongst alternatives. The rejected
>>>views are not necessarily mistakes.

>>Although they may be. In fact, the Maharal's shita is that subsequent
>>to Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel, we do not necessarily say elu v'elu in
>>halachic matters at all.

> Maharal has a much more restrictive use of the term eilu v'eilu but he
> is not disagreeing with the basic concept.

> *Maharal( Baer HaGolah 1 page 19 ):* It is important for you to know etc.

I am not sure why you brought down this quote (it's actually on pg 21)
however it is clear from this quote that the Maharal holds that the
concept of elu v'elu does *not* apply to generations after Hillel
and Shamai.

> *Maharal (Derech Chaim 5:17): *The Mishna says that the dispute between
> Shammai and Hillel etc.

Beautiful translation. And once again, you have illustrated from the
Maharal that elu v'elu is *not* applied to all halachic disputes. Perhaps
you mean to say that although elu v'elu does not apply, it is clear that
the words of Chazal, even when they argue, have at least some shiachus
to the truth as illustrated from the Maharal's interpretation. To this
I agree wholeheartedly but regarding fallibility versus infallibility,
this is a very fine distinction. You see, when each Tana/Amora presented
their sevara, they were under the impression that their stated opinion
was categorically correct. No Tana would have told you that his sevara
was only "25% close to Hashem" because otherwise he wouldn't have said
it as he was searching for the *ultimate* sevara that would engender
Halacha L'maaseh. Thus, even though the Maharal has found for us a
wonderful approach to attribute the "chalos din" of limud haTorah to
all of the divrei Chazal, this does not mean that they were not fall!
ible in the sense that they erred in the quality of the strength of their
sevara. In my view, there is no question that Chazal had an enormous
amount of siyata dishmaya (ruach haKodesh?) in their learning but that
doesn't mean that they couldn't err.

At this point, I feel compelled to state that the position I am taking
here is totally uncharacteristic for me as I am firmly in the camp of
Chazal's infallibility. However, everything has its limitations. I just
pray that I haven't overstepped this subject's boundaries.

>>There are different ways to understand this Rambam. R' Elchonon (Kobetz
>>Shiurim chelek beis kuntris divrei sofrim siman beis) contrasts this
>>Rambam to the Rambam in Hilchos mamrim and brings a ra'ayah to his thesis
>>that if ALL of the talmedei chachamim of a generation come together
>>and decide something and it is accepted by all of klal yisroel, it has
>>the same din as a beis din of shiv'im and cannot be contravened. (Rav
>>Elchonon rejects the explanation of the kesef mishna) This is one peshat.

> The above paragrah is not clear. Where do you see that Rav Elchonon
> disagrees with the Kesef Mishna. See the exchange of letters with the
> Chazon Ish.

Please see Kobetz Shiurim 2 Kuntres Divrei Sofrim Siman Beis. Let's go
through it sif by sif.

1) In sif aleph he brings the margenisa tava regarding the strength of
the Beis Din hagadol in Yerushalayim and states that this is the Beis
Din that the issur of lo tassur goes on etc.

2) In sif beis he brings down our Rambam here in hilchos mamrim.

3/4) In sif gimmel and dalet he develops his approach regarding the
halachic similarity between a Beis Din Hagadol that bidavka sits in
Yerushalayim and a kibutz of rov of the chachmei yisroel (which does
not have to be stationed in Yerushalayim) which R' Elchonon holds has
the same din as the Beis Din in Yerushalayim.

5) In sif hey he brings down the kesef mishna's question about chasimas

6) In sif vav he asks on the kesef mishna that what kind of halachic
status does a kabala of all klal yisroel have? From where does this
kabala obtain it's koach to obligate all of future klal isroel to follow
it? And he answers by saying that according to his peshat (in sif gimmel
and dalet) the kasha of the kesef mishna is no kasha! In other words,
he rejects the kesef mishna and offers his own peshat. Not that he is
saying his peshat *in* the kesef mishna. If you continue to read sif
vav, it becomes abundantly clear that R' Elchonon is *arguing* on the
kesef mishna. For instance, a bit later he states that "in hachi nami",
according to this (R' Elchonon's) peshat, it actually may have been
possible for the chachamim at the time of chasimas haTalmud to argue
with the chachamim at the time of the mishna. According to the kesef
mishna, there is no difference between these two eras as in both cases,
it was simply a universal kabala by klal yisroel that obligated us,
nothing more. Thus, there would be no difference between the two eras per
se. Whereas according to R' Elchonon, only the amoraim that came directly
after the Mishna and up until the chasimas haTalmud could not argue on
the Tanaim but theoretically speaking, the chosmei haTalmud could have
been mivatel the halachos of the chosmei haMishna if they had wanted to.

I hope I have clarified the shita of R' Elchonon here.

>>The second peshat is the kesef mishna's peshat. You have differentiated
>>his approach from that of the Chazon Ish's but I believe you may have been
>>hasty in your conclusion. The KM states that klal yisroel collectively
>>undertook not to argue on the ammoraim. TheChazon Ish *appends* to
>>this that this could not have been simply because we were "doing them
>>a favour";

> My text of the Chazon Ish says no such thing.

Sure it does :-)

> He says that the Kesef
> Mishna did not do Klall Yisroel a favor by proposing that authority is
> based upon the acceptance of Klall Yisroel.

Like I mentioned in my last post, I believe you were hasty in your
translation. I have attached both the Chazon Ish al Harambam and the
Igros Chazon Ish that you referred to. Let's learn them together. (For
the sake of clarity, lets use the Chazon Ish al Harambam...it's actually
word for word precisely the same as the igros but it's broken up into
two paragraphs so it's easier to be mitzayen where we're holding.)

Chazon Ish al harambam Hilchos Mamrim perek beis halachah alef

Let's go with your translation up until our point of contention.

> The truth is that the generation after the
> Mishna witnessed a decline in stature relative to the Tannaim. The new
> generation knew for certain that the truth was always with the Tannaim

{actually, the Chazon Ish does not use the word Tanaim, he uses the word
rishonim. It means the same thing but it is important to keep this in
mind as will become clear shortly - simcha}.

> Once they knew the truth of the matter that it was impossible for them
> to comprehend something that had not been understood by one of the
> Tannaimג€”it was no longer possible to disagree directly with the Tannaim
> on their own authority. Therefore, they only taught what they understood
> to be the teachings of the Tannaim. Similarly with the close of the
> Talmud, the words of an amoraג€”who was unaware of the teaching on that
> matter of a tannaג€”were not null. The only exception being Rav who
> because of his greatness his words were not null. All their conclusions
> were reached with Divine guidance and ruach hakodesh which manifested
> itself. Their rulings were in agreement with Gג€‘d as it says in Bava
> Metzia 86aג€”Rebbe and Rav Nachman were the end of the Mishna. Thus, it
> was at the conclusion of the Talmud as it says that Ravina and Rav Ashi
> were the end of horaג€™ah. 

 -Point of contention-

> This that Rav Yosef Karo says that the
> authority came because the Jewish people accepted them as authoritative
> (Kesef Mishna Hilchos Mamrim)ג€”he did not do us any kindness or good with
> the sages. 

This is a mistranslation. Take a look at the opening words of the Chazon
Ish in the second paragraph in hilchos mamrim. He states as follows:
u'mah shekosav rabbeinu shekiblu kein - {and that which our master (kesef
mishna) wrote that they (the people that came after the chasimas haMishna)
accepted thus (to abide by the words of the tanaim)} - lo tova va'chesed
assu im harishonim - {they (the people that came after the chasimas
HaMishna) were not (merely) performing a tova and chesed with the rishonim
(i.e. the tanaim, as the Chazon Ish uses the term "rishonim" above)} -
ela haemes cheeyeiv ossam - {rather, the truth (of the superior greatness
of the tanaim) obligated them (to follow their words unquestioningly)}

In other words, the Chazon Ish should be understood within the context of
a "nesinas ta'am" to the Kesef Mishna's peshat that they were universally
mikabel upon themselves to abide by the pesak of the Mishna. Why were
they mikabel? Because of their awareness of the previous generation's
greatness, not merely because they wanted to do a chesed and tova to
the tananim.

This, I believe, is the proper understanding of the Chazon Ish and thus,
he is not arguing on the kesef mishna.

>>The Doros HaRishonim states that Rabbeinu Hakadosh had special siyata
>>dishmaya etc.

>>My approach is basically a synthesis between the Doros HaRishonim and
>>the KM/Chazon Ish. I have much more to say on this inyan but I won't
>>bore you with the details.

> I am not being bored - just confused - I just don't see how your
> assertions follow from the sources.

I am not sure what is confusing you but I'll try to be a bit clearer. My
understanding of the infallibility of the Chosmei HaMishna/Talmud is, as
I stated in my last post, that there was a special siyata dishmaya that
accompanied the chasimos of these two great compilations. The reason
why I don't go directly with the shita of the Chazon Ish is because
he is mashma that all Tanaim were equally endowed with Ruach haKodesh
(and I guess the same would apply to the ammoraim during tha amoraic
period) thereby making all tanaim and amoraim infallible. The way I
choose to understand it is that the tanaim and amoraim only enjoyed this
spirit of infallibility/ruach hakodesh/special hashgacha/siyata dishmaya
etc. during the respective chasimos for the express purpose of cataloguing
Torah she B'al peh for future generations. To support my understanding,
I have commissioned the historical account of these times as portrayed
by the Doros Harishonim.

I hope this clarifies my position although all this writing tends,
in my experience, to obfuscate rather than elucidate.

A freilichin Purim to one and all!
Simcha Coffer

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