Monday, March 19, 2012

More Rejected Comments

Rabbi Shaul Gold issued a follow-up to his post "Trembling Before Rashi" at Cross-Currents. I hope to have time to write a full post on it in the next day or two, but meanwhile, here are some comments that were rejected from the new post:

Koillel nick:
1. Not sure what language this post was written in. Not English, not Hebrew. “Rabbeim” is not a word.

2. It is not true that Amoraim did not argue on Tannaim. R Elchanan Wasserman has a piece on it. Furthermore, R Yisrael from Shklov, in his introduction, cites the Gaon of Vilna that the phrase “chasuri michsera vehachi ke’tanni, [The Mishna] is missing [words] and this is what it should state,” means that the Amora is actually disagreeing with the Mishna. Thus we don’t find that the text of the Mishna is corrected. (Note: R Yosef Karo in Klale Gemara disagrees with this.)

3. Rishonim argued plenty on the Geonim. And plenty of Acharonim argue on Rishonim.

4. Those Acharonim that tend not to argue on Rishonim, it is not because they felt inferior. Rather because part of Halachic process is that certain poskim have been accepted on the masses. Shulhan Aruch went with Rif, Rosh, and Rambam, not because he thought they were better than others, rather because the masses were already following them. Often he disagrees with the Rambam, and still wrote his opinion in Shulhan Aruch. R Moshe Isserlis did the same. He only argues because in Eastern Europe, people were accustomed to Tosfos, Mordechi, Rabbenu Yerucham etc. Their method of accepting precedence, with regards to Halacha is the same. On the flip side, Maharshal, Shach, and other major Aharonim, decided halacha without precedence. To them, there was the decisions of Gemara, and that’s it. Rambam and Tosfos are only in the equation if they agree with Shach’s understanding of the Gemara. See Shach Choshen Mishpat 36:6 for a very revealing opinion on his method of precedence in halacha.
Netanel Livni:
>It is a fundamental axiom that Rashi was on a higher plane than we are, both scholastically and spiritually.

I have looked and looked all around the great ikarim literature that exists and have not found this axiom anywhere. Please enlighten us from where this axiom appears (other than, of course, in your own judgement of what is proper)

>We must submit to Rashi, we must to Ramban, Rosh, Mordchai, et al, just as they submitted to the Amoraim and Tannaim that preceded them.

I must submit to God. I must submit to my own concience that God implanted in me. But to submit to Basar veDam?!? NEVER! THAT is avoda zarah.

>If we aren’t trembling before Rashi and his ba’alei pelugta, if we can see ourselves as judges of their acuity, as equals or, rachmana litzlan, as their betters in some ways, then we have detached ourselves from Torah and Yir’ah.

If we are not triying to understand what the rishonim ACTUALLY meant in their own historic/intellectual context. If we are not using all the tools at our disposal to understand them as great scholars who lived in a particular time and place and therefore need to be understood in the context of their intellectual era. If we transform them from great intellects into oracles. Then we dishonor them as scholars and as anshei emet.

>Such type of pedagogy is no longer in the realm of Torah, Kedushah and Mesorah. It is now merely Bible studies and its instructors merely purveyors of a scholastic discipline rising no more than Bertrand Russell’s triangle as chairman of a department of ethics.

Intellectual honesty, critical analysis, and historical context are the prerequisites to understanding. And understanding is the prerequisite to talmud Torah of any kind. A type of study that does not use the vastly superior tools that are available to us but were not available to previous generations. A type of study that is limited to the intellectual vistas of the past and ignores those of the present. Such a type of study can never be emet nor can it be a conduit of Kedushah into this world.
Amoraim do not argue with Tannoim, and Rishonim do not argue on Amoraim – in PISKEI HALACHAH. In non-halachic matters, and in explanations for the sources of piskei halachah, we do indeed find dispute. See Rav Shlomo Fisher in Derashos Beis Yishai for further elaboration. Rambam most certainly was not of the view that it is a “fundamental axiom” that earlier generations are scholastically on a higher level than later generations.

Furthermore, the Rishonim were never canonized vis-a-vis us in the way that the Gemara was canonized vis-a-vis the Rishonim. That is why Rav Moshe Feinstein explicitly states (Yoreh Deah 1:101) that he sometimes argues with the Rishonim – in halachah!

The article here is still somewhat ambiguous, but it seems to strongly say that it is unacceptable to say that Rashi interpreted Midrashim literally, or that on occasion his explanation was based on scientific information that is now obsolete. Since both these points were made by countless authorities from R. Moshe Abulafiah to Chassam Sofer to Rav Aryeh Carmell ztz”l, on what grounds does the writer state that this is unacceptable, that it contradicts the notion of mesorah, and that it results in “Torah minayin”?

I can't figure out by which criteria these comments were rejected.


  1. I commented (as part of a larger comment) that we don't always follow the Shulchan Aruch and the Rema, and it slipped through moderation.

    I also mentioned Rabbi Avraham Ben Harambam but haven't tried to bring up example of Rabbi Dr. Meiselman questioning Rabbi Avraham Ben HaRambam. I absolutely agree that there is a need to respect our mesorah and that some of what the heterodox movements have does is contrary to that, but the same principle applies to the Right of Orthodoxy as well.

  2. These comments were not allowed in

    I don’t disagree with the main thrust of the piece, but I do have a couple of comments.

    “I don’t believe that Rav Schwartzman ever argued personally on the Ramban or Rashi, nor did he, or any of our renowned Rabbeim, side with one rishon over another.” Regarding the second part of this sentence, I can’t speak for Rav Schwartzman, but plenty of acharonim, even contemporary ones, and plenty of magidei shiurim, side with one rishon over another. It happens in teshuvos sefarim all the time as well as in shiurim. While they always respect the rishonim, this doesn’t mean they can’t bring proofs that one rishon’s peshat makes more sense than another rishon. I don’t know what type of shiurim you have had in your lifetime, but the shiurim I attended often had the magid shiur pointing out that how rishon’s peshat was difficult and he would therefore side with another rishon in explaining peshat.

    You then write: “Briefly, though, what engendered my piece was the intimation in that discussion that Rashi was a medieval commentary who lived with the superstitions of the time and that the “enlightened” moderns know better than him in certain areas.” What you criticize is perfectly correct and not problematic in the slightest. Rashi did live with certain superstitions of his time, and we do know better than him in certain areas (for example, science and medicine).

    You are under the mistaken assumption that if you assume that Rashi had certain superstitions which everyone in his day believed in (for example mermaids and werewolves), that we therefore cannot accept your next point “It is a fundamental axiom that Rashi was on a higher plane than we are, both scholastically and spiritually.”


    One thing has nothing to do with the other. Of course Rashi was on a higher plane than we are, both scholastically and spiritually. But he was also a person of his age, and the fact that he believed in certain things that were generally accepted even though we know now they were incorrect, doesn’t take away from his greatness one iota. I am surprised you are missing this.


    “If one has a question on them, its “I don’t understand”, not “I think they made a mistake.””

    This is correct, but only when we are speaking about Torah matters. If Rashi offers a scientific observation and this is correct, there is nothing wrong with saying that he made a mistake, based upon the undeveloped science of his time.

  3. There should be a reverence for Rashi - his staggering genius, his mind-boggling breadth of knowledge in Torah, the sheer amount of material he put out in his lifetime, the exacting care with which he chose his words. And I have no doubt he was a sensitive, caring, spiritual man par excellence.

    But he WAS a man of his time and place. He WAS flesh and blood. And it's totally, 100% OK if he made mistakes. It's OK if he got something wrong, either in retrospect based on our knowledge today, or even from the perspective of his own time.

    Why should that possibly be a problem?
    Why should we want Rashi to be perfect?
    What's wrong with being human?

    That's my gripe. There's so much room for awe and reverence when it comes to the greatness of Rashi - why do I need to also "submit" to him? Is that what we think he would possibly want?

    Yes, don't scoff at Rashi. Don't be an arrogant boor. Have some respect for one of the greatest Torah teachers of all time.

    BUT RESPECT HIM ENOUGH TO DISAGREE on occasion! THAT is what every truly great teacher wants! (And it doesn't make us "better" than our teacher.)

    Branding Rashi (or any other Torah great) as "untouchable" may feel very pious - but it is ultimately a great disrespect to Rashi, and a supreme disservice to Torah.

  4. Reading Rabbi Slifkin's post, and the comments, remind me of an anecdote related in Chabad circles, concerning the Ba'al HaTanya:
    A father complained to the Ba'al HaTanya (BHT) that his son was too cavalier in his learning. He presented his son to the BHT. The BHT opened up the Rosh, read it to the young man, and raised a difficulty with the Rosh. The young man responded, "So, not like the Rosh." The BHT then resolved the difficulty, and said, "No, it IS like the Rosh." The BHT did this another two times: he read a Rosh to the young man, asked a question on it, the young man said "Not like the Rosh", only to be shown that the conclusion IS like the Rosh.

    The BHT concluded, "You have to realize: to say 'Not like the Rosh' is the equivalent of saying 'Not like HaKadosh Baruch Hu'!

    Although, in this story, the BHT expressed reverence for the Rosh, from the rationalist point of view, is this considered perhaps "overly reverent"? Or is it admissible in this context, seeing that the discussion was a halachic one?

  5. "I can't figure out by which criteria these comments were rejected. "

    Probably because you wrote Abulafiah instead of Abulafia.

  6. About arguing in halacha on those before us, R. Ovadia Yosef has an interesting piece in his introduction to Halichos Olam which goes as follows:

    "...וכמש"כ הגר"ח מוואלוזין בשו"ת חוט המשולש (סי' ט) בזה"ל: ואע"פ שאנכי שמשתי את מו"ר הכהן הגדול ומחוייב אני בכבודו ובמוראו כמורא שמים, מ"מ אני שומר מה שאמרו חז"ל (ב"ב קל:) כד אתי פסקא דדינא קמייכו וחזיתו ביה פירכא לא תגמרו מיניה, שאין לדיין אלא מה שעיניו רואות. וכבר הוזהרתי מפי מורי קדוש ישראל הגר"א מווילנא שלא לישא פנים בהוראה. וכ"כ עוד בספרו רוח חיים (פ"ד דאבות מ"ד) שאסור לתלמיד לקבל דברי רבו כשיש לו מה להשיב עליהם. כי לפעמים תהיה האמת עמו. כמו שעץ קטן מדליק את הגדול. ע"ש. וע"ע להגר"ח פלאג'י בשו"ת חקרי לב (חיו"ד סי' מב), שאין לת"ח לכבוש את נבואתו בפסקי הלכה, וחייב לגלות דעתו, ונכתב בספר, שאין משוא פנים בדבר. ומרן הקדוש בספר אבקת רוכל (סי' קנה) כתב וז"ל: ואע"פ שהריטב"א והריב"ש בקיאים יותר בפירוש דברי הראשונים, מ"מ במילתא דאיכא טעמא ואיכא למותיב מותבינן דלאו קטלי קני באגמא אנן. ע"ש. ובשו"ת נודע ביהודה קמא (חאו"ח סי' לה) ד"ה ומה, כתב, ואף שבתשו' חות יאיר פסק להיפך, אטו כל מקום שמצאנו הלכה בתשובות האחרונום נחליט כן לדינא, הלא חיך יטעם אוכל. ע"כ. וע' בשו"ת רבי ישעיה הראשון (סי' סב) שכ', ומ"ש מר שלא אחלוק על הרב הגדול רבינו יצחק בעל התוס', חלילה לי מעשות זאת, והגם כי מה אני נחשב לפניו, אך זאת אתי, שכל דבר שאינו נראה בעיני, אפילו אי אמרה יהושע בן נון לא צייתינא ליה. ואיני נמנע לומר הנראה לי לפי שכלי, ואדברה בעדותיך נגד מלכים ולא אבוש, וכמשל הפילוסופים בננס על גבי ענק. ומעולם לא נמנעו האחרונים מלסתור דברי הראשונים, וכמה משניות סתרו האמוראים לומר שאינם הלכה, ואין חכם שיהיה נקי משגיאות

  7. "Not sure what language this post was written in. Not English, not Hebrew. “Rabbeim” is not a word."
    Is this an example of a mature well-reasoned comment or a childish attempt at demeaning someone?

  8. Koillel nick said, "Rather because part of Halachic process is that certain poskim have been accepted on the masses."
    The sentence as presented by Koillel nick is a fragment, improperly punctuated, and includes incorrect word usage.
    I assume that "Koillel nick" meant to say, "Rather, it is because part of the Halachik process requires that certain poskim have been accepted by the masses."
    That was just one example of multiple error-ridden sentences by "Koillel nick".

  9. On a similar note to the idea of chesurei mechsera: When Amora'im "clarify" various Mishnayos and Beraisos, especially through okimptos, are they not disagreeing with the literal meanings of those sources? Can anyone really believe that the Amoraim's conclusions are really what the Tanaim had in mind? Also, when multiple meforshim disagree on how to interpret a pasuk or section of Gemara, can't only one of them (at most) actually be right? That would mean that the rest of the meforshim are disagreeing with the correct interpretation.

  10. To add to the first comment: Rav Shreira Gaon also says that amoraim sometimes argued with tanaaim.

    And to add to the last comment: Isn't every late peirush on Chumash (say RSRH, Netziv, Malbim, etc.) implicitly arguing with the Rishonim when they offer new explanations of stories that Rashi and others already explained (and which presumably should be sufficient)?

  11. The following statement from the Teshuvos HaRid is very relevant to the discussion:
    "Should Joshua the son of Nun endorse a mistaken position, I would reject it out of hand, I do not hesitate to express my opinion, regarding such matters in accordance with the modicum of intelligence alloted to me. I was never arrogant claiming "My Wisdom served me well". Instead I applied to myself the parable of the philosophers. For I heard the following from the philosophers, The wisest of the philosophers asked: "We admit that our predecessors were wiser than we. At the same time we criticize their comments, often rejecting them and claiming that the truth rests with us. How is this possible?" The wise philosopher responded: "Who sees further a dwarf or a giant? Surely a giant for his eyes are situated at a higher level than those of the dwarf. But if the dwarf is placed on the shoulders of the giant who sees further? ... So too we are dwarfs astride the shoulders of giants. We master their wisdom and move beyond it. Due to their wisdom we grow wise and are able to say all that we say, but not because we are greater than they."

    When we ask/argue on Rashi it is not because we think we are greater but because we have the benefit of everyone who came before us to help us understand.

  12. I wonder how you would feel if someone made a regular feature on their blog of comments which you did not approve.

    Seems tacky to me. Is there a reason for this "feature" of your blog? Most blogs I see that do this, are often of the type that enjoy engaging in mockery and tabloid posts in general.

    Though I will be honest, I don't read cross currents ever, so I'm not sure why anyone cares what comments are left there. Sometimes I'm mad at the NY times for not having comments, and sometimes I'm rather thankful, especially when I read comments on other news sites.

  13. I wonder how you would feel if someone made a regular feature on their blog of comments which you did not approve.

    I already said that I would be fine with it, as long as they are open about which comments they are posting. There's no way that those who dispute my approach would be comfortable with posting all the comments that I reject.

    The reason for my doing this with Cross-Currents is that they reject a lot of good comments for no readily apparent good reason.

  14. Is there a reason for this "feature" of your blog?

    I think its great. Cross Currents is attempting to thwart the free flow of ideas and I appreciate RNS's efforts to restore the flow.

    I also appreciate RNS's time spent censoring out petty flames and ad-hominem attacks, thereby keeping the area safe for genuine intercourse. Maybe he should just post the flaky posts somewhere else for the purpose of transparency, so that RNS doubters can be certain that his censorship is not ideologically based.

  15. R' Nasan Kamenetzsky wrote the following story about his father in Making of a Gadol, which is very relevant

    His father and R' Aharon Kotler came to be tested by the Rosh Yeshiva of Slabodka, R' Moshe Mordechai Epstein. The Rosh Yeshiva told them to prepare a Ketzos and come back the next day. The next day they came back after preparing the Ketzos and the Rosh Yeshiva asked them, what is wrong with the Ketzo's arguments? R' Yaakov was dumbstruck, how could he argue on the Ketzos but R' Aharon jumped right in and explained the weaknesses of the Ketzos.

    R' Yaakov said that this attitude of R' Aharon was one of the reasons why he ended up being the greater Rosh Yeshiva and that he learned a very important lesson, no one is beyond reproach when it comes to learning Torah.

  16. Meir says
    It seems you havent been learning daf yomi lately. The tiferes yisroel says that chasura mechasra is because it didnt fit in with the tune.

  17. @Mark I'd expect an essay to be written properly. A comment is a comment.
    @Yirmiahu Rabbanim, Rabbosai, Rabboseinu.
    @Rabbi Slifkin, I think there is an apparent reason. Some of the authors on CC aren't really interested in a discussion. Shafran doesn't allow any. That's why I won't read anything he writes. Why should he be accorded the courtesy of being read, if he will not allow a critique.

  18. One can revere and still disagree.

    If Rashi believed the Earth is flat, should I submit myself to his "superior" level of understanding?
    More importantly, would Rashi want me to?
    How often do we deify men and attributed an infallibility to them who would be horrified to discover that this is their legacy?

  19. @Arie,
    Sometimes, the explanation of the Gemara doesn't contradict the Mishna. Similarly, sometimes the added words of 'chasurei michsera' are either obvious, or can fit into the Mishna easily. In those cases, it is not difficult to say that Rebbi was being concise. Other times, the "chasuri mechsera" are in direct contradiction with the plain reading of Mishna. It is difficult to say that Rebbi was concise to a degree that he would contradict the real meaning.
    Ultimately, Peas Hashulchan agrees that the Amora is arguing on the Mishna. He says that there were other oral statements from Tannaim that the Stama of the Gemara was using as a basis. R Y Karo in Klale Gemara 2:14, states otherwise. He states the Mishna was written incorrectly. Rebbi decided not to correct the text that the students were accustomed to. Therefore he did not correct it.

  20. Natan, your reference to avodah zarah is over the top.

  21. It´s interesting to note that this rabbi has a very important position in the OU, which is supposed to be the most important institution of modern or at least "centrist" orthodoxy. How is it possible that a person in such a position holds such views (absolutely haredi)?. I think this is marking the end of modern orthodoxy (sadly in my view), because the people who really hold more centrist views are being sistematically marginalized from the M.O institutions.

  22. shmuel silberman said...

    Natan, your reference to avodah zarah is over the top.

    Where on earth did I make a reference to avodah zarah???!!!

  23. "I think its great. Cross Currents is attempting to thwart the free flow of ideas and I appreciate RNS's efforts to restore the flow."

    Meh, I've gone ahead now and read the comments to the post. Some agree, some disagree.

    It seems that these 3 comments were rejected because of tone, or a desire to keep the discussion directly related to the article itself. Hardly a stifling of ideas.

  24. The following message appears at the top of the article you linked to:

    "[Editors’ note: We received a large volume of comments, which were held up in the queue until Rabbi Gold could pen a response to their general drift. We have still not determined why so many of our readers assumed that “trembling before Rashi” is somehow the equivalent of granting Rashi veto power over interpreting pesukim. Rabbi Gold wrote nothing of the sort. Clearly, many rishonim disagree with many other rishonim; many disagree with Rashi. Rabbi Gold commented upon the tendency of many (and I have heard this myself many times - YA) to be dismissive of Rashi as hopelessly stuck in a primitive, literalist mode that is beneath enlightened moderns, chas v’shalom. Rabbi Gold argued that whether accepting his pshat (from which we always have something to learn, or preferring another, Rashi (as well as other Rishonim, but especially Rashi considering the centrality of his work on Chumash in the life of so much parshanut that followed) must always be approached with reverence. We will let Rabbi Gold explain in his own words.]"

    I guess that means that the 2-3 good questions in the current round of 13 comments will not be addressed directly :)

  25. shmuel silberman said:Natan, your reference to avodah zarah is over the top.

    Rabbi Slifkin: Where on earth did I make a reference to avodah zarah???!!!

    R. Silberman confused Netanel Livni's comment with Rabbi Slifkin's. It wasn't clear where one ended and the next began.

  26. Who has more respect for Rashi...

    Someone who says: "Rashi is a great scholar and I understand why he would believe X. Rashi's belief in X doesn't subtract from my reverence of Rashi at all, because how could he not have believed X then?"


    Someone who says: "Rashi is a great scholar and I cannot believe that he believed X. I must tell others that Rashi didn't believe X because how could anybody possibly respect somebody who believes in X?"

  27. Rabbi Slifkin,
    How about making a montage of the comments you reject for the edification of your readers.

  28. @Yeshivish:
    This might be wishful thinking, but I think I remember R' Slifkin saying that for a time, he was considering doing just that. And every so often, he does post comments that would otherwise have been rejected, just to show how ridiculous and petty his detractors can get. I'm not sure if your comment was supposed to imply that R' Slifkin is guilty of the same thing being done at Cross-Currents, but either way, a compilation of rejected comments at Rationalist Judaism would definitely be enlightening in that readers would get to see what R' Slifkin has to put up with. It might also be good for a couple of cheap laughs.

  29. Dov said.... "וכבר הוזהרתי מפי מורי קדוש ישראל הגר"א מווילנא שלא לישא פנים בהוראה. "

    Isn't this the censored version? I remember R. Zevin says the full version is:
    שלא לישא פנים בהוראה אפילו לרבותינו בעלי השו"ע.

  30. What I find really intriguing about our Talmud is that it's the first (or at least a very early exemplar) of a "crowdsourced" document.

    In the book "The Wisdom of Crowds" the James Surowiecki discusses how, when given a problem, a large number of people motivated to get the answer will get amazingly accurate solutions with surprising frequency.

    Think about how developments by crowds such as Linux have succeeded so well.

    In setting down the Talmud, and asking the question "what should the halachah be?" the crowd certainly seems to have come to the right answers, especially if you have, as your metric of success the proposition: are we constructing/perpetuating a way of life that survive? It also seems extremely likely that we can answer the question "is this what G-d intended the halachah to be?" in the affirmative. After all, the question was being resolved by the wisdom of a huge crowd.

    So, as to the statement that Chazal had unbelievable intelligence compared to ours, I would say that it's likely true, if you take "Chazal" as the collective hive mind behind the construction of the Talmud. After all, they did have the advantages of the "hive mind."

    Is this to say that their program is "bug free"? No. But the fact that Hashem chose to transmit his message to us in that format sort of amazes me.

  31. "אף להכרעת רבותינו בעלי השלחן ערוך"

  32. Yeedle & S. -

    Interesting, I did not know that. Thank you. I was just being מעתיק from the Halichos Olam.

    Of course, whatever the Gra actually told him, anyone who ever learned halacha knows that the the Gra has no problem arguing on the Shulchan Aruch. Truth be told I would have thought that adding the words אף להכרעת רבותינו בעלי השלחן ערוך would detract from the strength of the statement, but maybe that's only because I'm already coming with the premise that the Shulchan Aruch is not the be-all and end-all of halacha.

  33. This may or may not be relevant...

    I seem to recall a Gmarra which resulted in Rabbi Eliezer being excommunicated. If I remember the Gmarra correctly, Rabbi Eliezer insisted the halacha was x, and the Chachamim said it was y. Rabbi Eliezer called upon Simanim from HaShem to prove the halacha was according to his understanding, notwithstading the voice of HaShem insisting the halacha was like Rabbi Eliezer, the Chachamim paskined against him, and excommunicated him in the process.

    Why do I think it is relevant...

    If the Chachamim can say HaShem is wrong on the halacha, why do we assume that the generations that came befor us are automatically correct about anything?

  34. Yossi -

    The chachamim weren't saying that in truth Hashem was mistaken; just that halacha is not established based on what is true or not - since לא בשמים היא. So the point isn't really relevant to this discussion.

  35. "
    Think about how developments by crowds such as Linux have succeeded so well. "

    Linux was not developed by a crowd. Linux was developed by Linus Torvalds.

    He then allowed people to freely add to and modify the OS.

    You now have several organizations which have modified linux in their own unique ways, distributing the OS. RedHat, Ubuntu, etc.

    OpenSource does not mean developed by crowds. Very often, there isn't a crowd of people doing something, but rather 5-10 individuals who are interested in the project doing something.

    Similarly the Talmud was not Crowd Sourced. The names of the Rabbis in the Talmud are the names of the heads of the 2 yeshivot in Bavel, over many generations. As well as some rabbis from Israel, who were the heads of the 2-3 courts and yeshivot in Israel over many generations.

    The Talmud might be more comparible to the collected writings of the various CEOs that Microsoft or Apple will have over the years.

  36. Dov,

    You make m point for me. If the will of HaShem does not determine halacha, then halacha is not absolute.

    i.e. Halacha is relative, thus there is no "right" answer.

  37. Yossi -

    I purposefully didn't use the word "determine," but "establish." Establishing halacha - i.e. taking one opinion and raising it to the level of absolute halacha - is subject to a certain process. When there was a beis din of semuchin they had the authority to rule on a matter, and by the powers vested in them by the pasuk of כי יפלא ממך, they could establish the halacha in accordance with one opinion. Halacha is absolute. Establishing it however, technically has nothing to do with absolute truth.

    Established halacha is not relative. We, who do not have a beis din, are only in the business of determining halacha. We analyze cases and rulings and try to determine the truth. For us halacha is not relative at all.

  38. @Kollel Nick, please clarify: what is the basis and justification of R Nachum’s hesitancy? Thank you.

    Netanel Livni said… I must submit to God. I must submit to my own concience that God implanted in me. But to submit to Basar veDam?!? NEVER! THAT is avoda zarah.
    [shmuel silberman: netanel levi wrote this, not rns.]

    That is true if God never legislated to submit to qualified Basar Ve Dam’s. לא תסור is just that, God’s legislation to submit to qualified Basar Ve Dam’s. Chinuch’s minority opinion is that לא תסור applies today. You don’t submit to the BVD, but to God who commanded you to do so. [See also יבמות ו: שורה עליונה
    "לא משבת אתה מתיירא אלא ממי שהזהיר על השבת אף מקדש לא ממקדש אתה מתיירא אלא ממי שהזהיר על המקדש"]
    R E Wasserman says that חתימת התלמוד has the power of a ruling of Sanhedrin, where, in the area of halachaH, there is לא תסור. Does everyone submit to qualifying BasarVe Dam’s with the proper intent? Perhaps not – but there’s nothing unfounded or amiss with the principle of it.


  39. More of Reject’s Comments: ;)

    What about people who haven’t or can’t come to terms with Chazal being great and at the same time scientifically primitive? IMHO they should only be taught the view of Maharal, Gra, etc. whose opinions were written before the scientific revolution – but with an exceedingly important provision: the only ‘sin’ would be the withholding of truth, i.e. being told only some of the sources. But if such half truths will result in antagonizing and harassing rationalists who go by legitimate rationalist Torah authorities, then such justification would fly out the window. falsehood/half truth, ok; cruelty, no way.

    Before the Cherem, there was little precedent for non rationalists to tell rationalists how to think OR ELSE!. Someone raised on Maharal and Gra wouldn’t think of attacking someone who patiently showed him the Torah sources for rationalist-ism. Today after the @#$*% Cherem, teaching half the sources can effectively create an antagonist to rationalists, so why must rationalists sit quietly and let that happen?

  40. More of Reject’s Comments: ;)

    “R Yisrael Shklov cites Gra that the Amoraim argued with the Tannaim when they said חסורי מחסרא” [paraphrased]

    קול אליהו להגר"א ריש מס' ביצה cites him to the contrary, that the deeper meaning of the words of the Mishnah is in fact what the חסורי מחסרא adds, without needing to add them. This isn’t very rationalist. I wonder if this version of Gra would say the same about all אוקימתות שבש"ס. A few posts ago, one commenter [citing R S Fischer?] said that the Tannaim certainly did not intend the modifications of their משניות וברייתות that the Amoraim made. This non-rationalist Gra might disagree.

    [see hebrewbooks_org_34797[1]pdf page 84 for the piece [too long to quote], and page 107 for the source ["רח) רב פעלים מהגאון מו"ה אברהם בן מרן ז"ל"]


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