Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Keneged Kulam Redux

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled K'neged Kulam!, about how the phrase Talmud Torah K'neged Kulam is an exaggeration and does not actually mean that learning Torah is as important as everything else together. While many people appreciated the post, one reader told me this week that his chavrusa became apoplectic with rage! Anyway, one reader submitted a superb insight, which I subsequently added to the original post, but which many readers may not have seen and which deserves attention.

The version that we say in Shacharis, which has a long list of mitzvos regarding which it is said that Talmud Torah K'neged Kulam, is not the original text. The original text is a Mishnah in Pe'ah, where it lists only three mitzvos, and then says Talmud Torah K'neged Kulam. This text also has a corresponding text regarding sins, which is found in the Tosefta in Pe'ah. It states as follows:
על אילו דברים נפרעין מן אדם בעולם הזה והקרן קיימת לעולם הבא: על עבודה זרה ועל גלוי עריות ועל שפיכות דמים, ועל לשון הרע כנגד כולם.
For these things a person is punished in this world, but the principle remains for the World-To-Come: Idolatry, forbidden relationships and murder. And lashon hara k'neged kulam.
Lashon hara is bad, but is it really worse than idolatry, adultery and murder? Of course not. After all, you don't have to sacrifice your life rather than say lashon hara! (This reminds me of a kiddush I attended last Shabbos, where a speaker quoted something about talking during davenning being like murder. A friend seemingly found it necessary to explain to his son that it doesn't mean that it's actually as bad as murder!) Obviously, Chazal's point is to emphasize the severity of lashon hara, which can be far-reaching in its effects.

So, Talmud Torah is equal to all other mitzvos in the same way that lashon hara is equal to idolatry, adultery and murder. I.e., not really.

46 comments:

  1. So clear and rational.
    If only party slogans didnt control the jewish street. Then this would mean more.

    Maybe in a generation ideas like this will be mainstream. Maybe sooner. one can hope though.

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  2. Good point!!

    But I don't see how you (or any of us) can keep making the point that extensive learning has been over-emphasized in recent generations without coming to the conclusion that this is just a natural extension of the way Chazal seem to have over-emphasized the importance of Torah learning for ANY purpose other than על מנת לעשות.

    It's hard to deny that Chazal throughout the ages felt that learning for learning's sake was of fundamental importance. It's equally hard to find any indication in Torah Sh'Bichtav that this was the intention of the Ribbono Shel Olam.

    I have no satisfactory explanation for any of this.

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  3. I don't agree. Chazal felt that learning was important in order to know how to do mitzvos, and in order to gain knowledge of Judaism. It's only in the last few centuries, with the idea of Torah mystically and metaphysically sustaining the universe, that it became exaggerated out of all proportion.

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    Replies
    1. ah so that's your theory. so i suppose you know better than the Gra, and Chofetz Chaim, and the other achronim.

      in anycase your argument is weak. Loshon Hara kneged kulam is referring to someone who constantly speaks loshon hara, and regarding the damage it causes in the world. obviously at threat of life to speak words of loshon hara is permitted, the real problem of loshon hara stems from the evil intent. when one speaks loshon hara in order to live, it is not as destructive as the other three acts that one does have to give up their life rather than commit.

      i refer you to the Rambam Hilchos Talmud Torah as one reference of a Rishon who clearly learns talmud Torah kneged kulam literally. also the sages never exaggerated, so it's shocking to assert such. is there any such examples you could provide where Rishonim say that Chazal exaggerated?

      but anyway, i don't see how i could respect and talk to someone who is completely dismissive of achronim, like the Gra. how does one dismiss without second thought the words of the Gra? i'm at a loss.

      Delete
  4. "אמר רב יוסף גדול תלמוד תורה יותר מהצלת נפשות"

    "Chazal felt that learning was important in order to know how to do mitzvos"

    There are so many Midrashim which seem to say otherwise. I mean I can see where your coming from, but a little humility is called for. You just take one difficult position, and then you start attacking the other sides as illegitimate.

    I started going through the non-Zoharic sources in Nefesh Hachaim/Aspaklaria and there is much you'll have to answer for. Please bring both sides, and stop with your dogmatic extremism.

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  5. You cut off half of my quote!

    I didn't say "Chazal felt that learning was important in order to know how to do mitzvos". I said "Chazal felt that learning was important in order to know how to do mitzvos, and in order to gain knowledge of Judaism."

    And the quote from Chazal that you bring is simply another example of rhetoric and exaggeration.

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  6. Part of the problem is the persistent reference to "chazal". "Chazal" consists of nearly two thousand figures, across two continents in two empires, over more than five hundred years. As a simple glance in Avos will show you, each one of them had their own ideas as to what was important and what wasnt. They no more spoke with one united voice than "the Achronim."

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  7. "You cut off half of my quote!"

    Sorry, my mistake.

    " I said "Chazal felt that learning was important in order to know how to do mitzvos, and in order to gain knowledge of Judaism." "

    "gain knowledge of Judaism" I think that's just trying getting out of the problem using semantics.

    "And the quote from Chazal that you bring is simply another example of rhetoric and exaggeration."

    Perhaps based on an a-priory assumption. No, see the context proof is brought. Now you can reinterpret, but the clear thread through Chazal, is that Torah study transcends other Mitzvos

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  8. "the clear thread through Chazal, is that Torah study transcends other Mitzvos"

    Of course it does. The question is how much, and why.

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  9. R'Natan,

    That 'to gain knowledge of Judaism' is a nice touch (I'm not being facetious) and I'd like to be able to grasp at it.

    But, really, what does it mean?

    Do Chazal want us to be studying - in order to 'learn about Judaism' - 2nd century civil law procedure?

    Am I learning more about Judaism
    when I learn how Rabbis in the 2nd century felt women should be protected from husbands who might be trigger-happy with divorce papers?

    Or when 2 Amoraim discuss whether if something fell out of someone's pocket, only he doesn't know it yet, that it's mine for the taking?

    How can you explain Rabbi Akiva (leaving his wife for 14 years and being doresh all the אתין in the Torah) or R'Shimon Bar Yochai as learning in order to know how to do mitzvos or to gain knowledge of Judaism.

    When David Hamelech wrote that Torah is עדות ה' נאמנה, מחכימת פתי, what did he mean?

    Sorry for the rant. I realize that there are limits on the things that can be said here while maintaining the respectability of the blog as a frum one.

    Again, I don't disagree with you in terms of your analysis of current society. I'm just troubled by my feeling that the problem goes deeper and farther back in time. Which makes it a problem with the entire frum world and not just 21st century Charedi society.

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  10. The problem is one of lack of insight. The same folks on the other side who will say "Well you're cherry picking to prove your point" do the same thing but think their selectivity is legitimate.

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  11. “Rav Huna said: Whoever engages only in Torah study is compared to one who has no God, as it says: “For a long time Israel was without the true God” (Divrei Ha-Yamim II, 15:3). Rather, [one should be engaged in both] Torah study and acts of kindness (Avodah Zara 17b).

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  12. Dear r. Slifkin,

    Did you notice my comment to the previous post?

    The same idea is here. Lashon ha-ra is not equal to idolatry, adultery and murder. The Tosefta's intention is that a harm of lashon ha-ra in "this world" is equal to the harm of idolatry, adultery and murder.

    Each such statement should be learned according to its purpose.

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  13. The meaning could be that all the other sins are punishable only if a person speaks lashon hara. The Kessin lashon hara tapes talk about this. When a person speaks lashon hara, the midda c'neged midda is that the heavenly prosecutor is now able to speak about him.

    Thus, c'neged means that lashon hara connects to all other sins in a negative way. Torah connects in a positive way.

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  14. So, Talmud Torah is equal to all other mitzvos in the same way that lashon hara is equal to idolatry, adultery and murder. I.e., not really.

    This is not a very strong or convincing result. I think that authors of the Mishnah and Tosefta had something more in mind than "not really".

    The answer to your implied question is pretty straightforward: drinking gasoline is much worse than drinking alcohol, but public health resources tend to emphasize the need to be moderate in drinking alcohol (of course you can find warnings to avoid siphoning gasoline by mouth, but these are less pervasive). That is because very few people drink gasoline but lots drink alcohol and in much greater quantities because it is palatable. As a result, many more people are damaged by alcoholism than gasoline poisoning. (I am not a teetotaler nor am I advocating such).

    I would say that the Tosefta is speaking in that way. Of course an individual murder is much worse than an individual act of Lashon Hara. But few people commit murders and even sexual misbehaviors, though frequent, are much less widely done than improper speech.

    Also, as a previous commenter pointed out, the equivalence is on a particular measure: the possibility of the Mitzvah (or Aveirah) to give fruits in this world, but preserve principal for the next world. In the case of the Aveirah, I assume that this is a measurement of the damage to others in this world and to your own being/soul/perfection which is the principal for the next. One can see how malicious gossip cumulatively causes great damage to others in this world as well as to the person who is spreading it as well as to the person himself in the next world.

    Similarly Talmud Torah (done as you have suggested with teaching as an essential component) brings enjoyment and unity in this world and also improves the person in for the next. So do Chesed and the others listed.

    I can agree with the conclusion that the Mishneh is being used improperly as a "trump" card to the exclusion of other important activities mandated by the Torah, but I think that the analysis of the statements needs a little more depth.

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  15. I have a somewhat tangential take on this.
    Without a doubt, for me, personally, talmud torah is more than keneged kulam.
    I couldn't imagine remaining a practicing Jew if I had only quaint practices and customs to rely on. (shaatnez - are you kidding me?) So many questions.
    Studying Torah sh'b'al peh b'iyun, participating with the brilliant minds that have come before you and engaging your own creativity makes Judaism come alive.
    And It's here that you learn that "you don't die from a question". Despite the questions many of us have we are encouraged and strengthened by our learning to maintain
    ties to traditional Judaism. Well, at least I am.

    Thanks,
    PG

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  16. Blogger brodsky said...
    Dear r. Slifkin,

    Did you notice my comment to the previous post?

    The same idea is here. Lashon ha-ra is not equal to idolatry, adultery and murder. The Tosefta's intention is that a harm of lashon ha-ra in "this world" is equal to the harm of idolatry, adultery and murder.

    Each such statement should be learned according to its purpose.


    Agreed, and apologies for not attributing by name (or pseudonym) in the prior post.

    I think that quantity does play a role as well since one act of Lashon Harah is typically not equal to murder, although there could be egregious instances that could be. For example, those that shame the person so much that they commit suicide.

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  17. That 'to gain knowledge of Judaism' is a nice touch (I'm not being facetious) and I'd like to be able to grasp at it.

    But, really, what does it mean?

    Do Chazal want us to be studying - in order to 'learn about Judaism' - 2nd century civil law procedure?

    Am I learning more about Judaism
    when I learn how Rabbis in the 2nd century felt women should be protected from husbands who might be trigger-happy with divorce papers?

    Or when 2 Amoraim discuss whether if something fell out of someone's pocket, only he doesn't know it yet, that it's mine for the taking?


    You've got a few questions entangled in there.

    1) Yes, depending on the person, understanding impractical things in depth is what they were made for. I think that we can admire astrophysicists or theoretical mathematicians for their work even when they are not practical. This is beside the fact that practicality cannot be predicted and impractical insights in all areas can sometime turn out to be practical.

    That doesn't mean that this is the only thing in the world to value. Was Einstein or Leslie Gordon Percival Shiers (a pioneer of knee replacement according to wikipedia) more important? I don't know, nor it is particularly important to figure it out. We need both.

    I'm sure that the author of this blog has spend much more time understanding zoology than is at all "practical", but this appears to be part of his purpose in life.

    2) There are fully vetted and highly venerated "orthodox" writers who have lamented the emphasis on overly theoretical study. See Rabbeinu Bachya; he emphasizes that too much time is spent on non-practical halacha and not enough on "duties of the heart". (Orthodox is in quotes to avoid drawing the ire of those who would consider applying that word to Rabbeinu Bachya an anachronism :).

    3) This is the era of specialization. If you want to make a contribution anywhere or even to understand any subject in depth, you need to specialize. Some specialties are going to appear impractical.

    The issue is not whether one individual should study a particular subject or how much he/she should do so. The issue is whether that trumps all other traditional concerns such as avoiding poverty, establishing security and peace so that all of societies resources and influence on youth are diverted to that one thing.

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  18. My preferred translation of "knegged" is "corresponds to". If we look at the root of knegged, we see the same word as haggadah, telling. The English word "corresponds" also has this "talking" aspect in its root.

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  19. 1) I like your "I.e., not really." Every once in a while you show a more combatitive side, which is nice. My favorite of yours is in "The Challenge of Creation," where you write (I paraphrase), "If G-d went through so much trouble to make the world appear as if it's 15 billion years old, who are we to disagree?"

    Overall, it's best to keep your moderate voice as I think it's very effective. I do appreciate your occassional slip-up though.

    2) Because of all these posts, I was actually inspired recently to start learning Shulchan Aruch (to know "what to do," as you put it). I was shocked, however, at the disconnect between what's written on the page and practical halacha as it's followed in 2013. We desperately need an update.

    I never thought I would say we need another halacha book, but honestly, the Shulchan Aruch is way out of date. There is no way a person can know what to do based on it. We deperately need a new book that takes into account modern-day minhagim and what poskim have written since 1550.

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  20. Rabois machshavoisOctober 3, 2013 at 3:07 AM

    Attention everyone
    Guys you are missing the point
    Enen if it is keneged kulom there are many many more
    Maamorei chazal that say that you must work and live off your own earnings and not rely on anyone else
    So what rabbinslifkin is saying
    Do not take a few sayings of chazal out of proportion when we see that in all the doirois from the taanuim amoroim the rambam and in europe everyone was self supporting
    So,let us go back to our mesoirah we are not litvakes
    And in lita there were mayy a couple of a hundred bocherim

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    1. Dont put this on the litvaks. Its the chasidim who got the litvaks all mystical. Besides in the alte lita people worked. And shocker most of eveyone only had a cheder education. the only ones who spent extra time learning are those who showed promise(if they could manage to afford), those who came from money who could afford it but might not have been geniouses and all inbetween. and to top it all off the goal of that learning was to be a rabbi of a community/ some sort of rabbinical position.
      Todays yeshivish that people call litvish arent like the older litvaks the proof is in the pudding how many litvaks eat nonglatt kosher? Authentic litvish years ago had no problem with that but have been influenced by other movements. Also american "litvish" have a inferiority complex to israeli "litvish" leaders. Which all leads to all kinds of mayhem in the trend of stringent rulings on stringent rulings.

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  21. Chazal felt that learning was important in order to know how to do mitzvos, and in order to gain knowledge of Judaism.

    As I understand RAMBAM (as filtered through Menachem Kellner, Marvin Fox and yourself) perhaps you should also include "in order to understand the nature of Ha'Shem" in this list.

    Indeed, as explicitly stated by Menachem Kellner (Must A Jew Believe Anything) an intellectual understanding of Ha'Shem is the primary (and only) determinant of entry into Olam Ha'Bah. (Or perhaps I am extrapolating an understanding of the Ikarim to an understanding of Ha'Shem?)

    Of course, if we understand RAMBAM in this way, his position may be closer to the philosophy of limud Torah Kineged Kulum than I am comfortable with.

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  22. Natan Slifkin said...
    "the clear thread through Chazal, is that Torah study transcends other Mitzvos"

    Of course it does. The question is how much, and why.

    October 2, 2013 at 4:20 PM

    Correct me if I understand you incorrectly:

    Transcend: To elevate above, to be more important, to act in place of (as superior to).

    Am I really understanding you as affirming not that Talmud Torah kineged kulum but that infact it is better than all the other mitzvot combined? As others here have indicated Torah without avodah ve'gmilut Chasidim or Torah without derech eretz is worthless.

    On the other hand, I would not say that gmilut chasadim without Torah is worthless.

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  23. @PG

    This is an excellent point. I'll follow up with something that I heard at a dinner for the "Yedodei Hatorah" Kollel in Baltimore where part of the mandate is to teach Gemara to adults who don't have such a background. I unfortunately don't remember who the speaker was, but he testified based on his experience in a different, but similar institution, that when people not previously exposed to "learning" were then exposed, their attitude towards the whole enterprise of religious observance changed. Instead of their prior conception of each Rabbi stating their opinion based on political or other arbitrary factors, they could now view halacha and halachic dispute as an intellectual process.

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  24. "I don't agree. Chazal felt that learning was important in order to know how to do mitzvos, and in order to gain knowledge of Judaism. "

    What about ben sorer umorer, ir hanidachas etc. - drosh vekabel s'char? Or is that what you mean by "knowledge of Judaism"?
    WADR "Knowledge of Judaism" sounds like weasel words to cover statements that don't fit with the idea that the purpose of learning is to know how to do mitzvos - one can always turn around and claim that any merit to learning torah without practical implications falls under the rubric of learning "knowledge of Judaism". The concept of drosh vekabel schar is that there is merit to learning torah even when there isn't - and never was or will be - practical application in fulfilling a mitzva. If the torah itself includes such mitzvos without practical application, then "knowledge of judaism" has to include the knowledge that learning is not only al mnas laasos but also for drosh vekabel schar.

    Note that the argument is whether these mitzvos of ben sorer umorer etc were ever applied in practice - did these events happen or not - but there is no counterargument in principle to drosh vekabel schar

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  25. Yehudah asks: "We deperately need a new book that takes into account modern-day minhagim and what poskim have written since 1550."
    Why do I have a suspicion that you have heard of the Chofetz Chaim? (That was not an implication that his Mishneh Berurah is the be-all and end-all of halachic works.)

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  26. R' Slifkin,

    The obvious point that you seem to be missing is that the very fact that Chazal seemingly exaggerate it's value to such a degree shows it's extreme importance. Sure "Kineged Kulam" may not be literal, but such exaggerated statements show its importance.

    And an objective look at Chazal will see that despite the fact that they do use "exaggerated" language about many things, Talmud Torah seems to be the most common and most extreme.

    Yitzi7

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  27. Yitzi, the point that you seem to be missing is that I never said that learning Torah is not of extreme importance.

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  28. I think the main point of this has been missed, at least regarding the current political struggle in Israel. No one is saying that studying Torah isn't important. The questions are as follows:

    (1) Is someone who defines himself as "studying Torah full time" exempt from other societial obligations, such as military service?

    (2) Is someone who defines himself as studying Torah full time entitled to being supported financially by the taxpayer?

    (3) Is someone who is born into a Haredi family automatically allowed to define himself as someone who studies Torah full time?

    (4) Is anyone registered in a daytime Kollel automatically viewed as studying Torah full time?

    (5) How many hours a day does one have to be involved in actual study of the Torah in order to be considered "studying Torah full time" and to be considered exempt from other societal obligations and to be entitled to be supported by the Israeli taxpayer?

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  29. I don't know if anyone brought this up or not, but Rambam's Mishne Torah was written as a practical guide to mitzvah observance for the average Jew, and was intended to supplant / replace study of the Talmud.

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  30. Years ago, I attended a lecture by Rabbi L. Kelemen in Jerusalem who explained that he learned from his rebbe, R' Shlomo Wolbe zs"l, that there are numerous mitzvot which are referred to as k'negged kulam. And that the common understanding is mathematically impossible and therefore erroneous, since if you place one of those mitzvot on one side of a scale, and the other 612 mitzvot on the other side, then the other side will necessarily include a host of mitzvot which are k'negged kulam as well.
    He went on to clarify that all k'negged kulam mean is simply, "leads one to the observance of the other 612 mitzvot." For instance, tzitzit has the reminder of 613 as the word's gematria equals 600 plus 5 knots and 8 strings. Regarding Tefillin, the pasuk writes, L'maan Tihye Torat H*shem b'ficha, which clearly indicates an attachment to (and observance of) all the mitzvot in the Torah. And similarly with all the other mitzvot referred to as being k'negged kulam.

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  31. Years ago, I attended a lecture by Rabbi L. Kelemen in Jerusalem who explained that he learned from his rebbe, R' Shlomo Wolbe zs"l, that there are numerous mitzvot which are referred to as k'negged kulam. And that the common understanding is mathematically impossible and therefore erroneous, since if you place one of those mitzvot on one side of a scale, and the other 612 mitzvot on the other side, then the other side will necessarily include a host of mitzvot which are k'negged kulam as well.

    Or you can take "brodsky"'s approach of looking at each statement in context. Each might be Keneged Kulam in one particular aspect of the Mitzvah.

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  32. Phil,

    I actually was using the English Mishnah Berurah. There is a disconnect between his rulings and minhag yisrael as well. Besides, he doesn't always comment on rulings of the Shulchan Aruch that rov bnei yisrael don't follow.

    (Take negel vasser as one example. The minhag of the non-chassidish world is to wash negel vasser/netilas yadayim in the kitchen or bathroom, i.e. more than 4 amos away from one's bed. Both the Shulchan Aruch and Mishnah Berurah indicate that this practice is wrong. They both are very concerned about ruach ra'ah.

    (Another example is which way to face one's bed. Is that really halacha le'maaseh? I remember learning that Rav Auerbach said it isn't. You would never know that from studying the Mishnah Berurah.)

    And I've only studied a few pages so far!

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  33. With regard to your claim that lashon hara keneged kulam is not to be taken literally, why exactly did the rambam codify baalei lashon hara among a list of many others who do not have a share in olam haba (hilchos teshuva 3:6)? And don't make the claim that this too is an exaggeration, because the rambam himself at the end of the perek says that certain statements such as these are indeed exaggerations (ibid 14) (i.e. calling people by knickname, embarassing someone in public etc.), but nevertheless counts baalei lashon hara in the actual list of "ein lo chelek laolam haba"

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  34. Why would losing one's share in the World-to-Come demonstrate that something is as bad as idolatry, adultery and murder combined?

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  35. With regard to your claim that lashon hara keneged kulam is not to be taken literally, why exactly did the rambam codify baalei lashon hara among a list of many others who do not have a share in olam haba (hilchos teshuva 3:6)? And don't make the claim that this too is an exaggeration, because the rambam himself at the end of the perek says that certain statements such as these are indeed exaggerations (ibid 14) (i.e. calling people by knickname, embarassing someone in public etc.), but nevertheless counts baalei lashon hara in the actual list of "ein lo chelek laolam haba"

    Do you think that it means that anyone that has said Lashon Harah has lost their Chelek? If so, the idea that all of Israel has a Chelek is cancelled, since we've all said Lashon Harah.

    I don't go as far as R. Slifkin and gave my one opinion (guess?) above, but it seems clear that the Rambam is speaking of someone who is consumed by Lashon Harah (e.g. a gossip columnist), not the act itself.

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  36. By the way, I updated the original post with Rambam's commentary:

    רמב"ם פירוש המשניות - מסכת פאה פרק א משנה א

    וכשתחקור על הענין הזה תמצא ת"ת שקול כנגד הכל, כי בת"ת יזכה האדם לכל זה, כמו שביארנו בתחלת דברינו שהתלמוד מביא לידי מעשה:

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  37. @ David- I do not think that anyone who has ever spoken lashon hara has forfeited his share in the world to come. I said "baalei lashon hara", which as you correctly assume, are people who constantly and intentionally speak lashon hara.
    @ Rabbi Slifkin, do idolators and adulterers forfeit their share in the world to come? the rambam does include murderers on that list, but where are idolators and adulterers? I could imagine that "minim apikorsim etc." include idoators, but adulterers are still missing from the rambam's list.
    so it would seem that consistant lashon hara may be considered more severe than adultery. And although murderers and possibly idolators are included in the same list as baalei lashon hara, it could be that within that list, lashon hara is more severe than the others.
    If what I'm saying is correct than "lashon hara keneged kulam" could be understood literally.

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  38. @ Robert
    see

    http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14405&st=&pgnum=60&hilite=

    where Rambam writes that Mishneh Torah was NOT intended to replace the Talmud.

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  39. This is another contradiction in Rambam. There was a study of it, I forget the reference, which argues that Rambam had to tactically appear back down from his true view.

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  40. yeshivaguy said...
    @ David- I do not think that anyone who has ever spoken lashon hara has forfeited his share in the world to come. I said "baalei lashon hara", which as you correctly assume, are people who constantly and intentionally speak lashon hara.


    Then it does not support a literal interpretation of K'neged Kulam. It means, in some ways or in some respect there is similarity.

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  41. @ Robert
    see

    http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14405&st=&pgnum=60&hilite=

    where Rambam writes that Mishneh Torah was NOT intended to replace the Talmud.


    October 7, 2013 at 6:50 PM
    Blogger Natan Slifkin said...

    This is another contradiction in Rambam. There was a study of it, I forget the reference, which argues that Rambam had to tactically appear back down from his true view.


    People like to say things that that in the Rambam, but I don't see it here. He says that you can study Torah Sheb'chtav and then his book without anything else *in between*. In other words, it is a standalone Sefer and can be understood without learning the Gemara first, unlike a Peirush which requires learning both. And this is absolutely true; when an Am Haaretz such as myself goes to a new Sugya, it is helpful to first go through the Yad first to get an overview so that you don't get lost (with the understanding that the other Rishonim may understand the Sugya differently).

    Also, the Raavad attacks the Rambam for not providing sources for his statements, so that one cannot determine whether or not to agree. He could more easily have attacked him for saying that there is no longer any use for Talmud, but he doesn't, because that is not what the Rambam writes.

    Finally, of course, R. Caro take the same approach Shulchan Aruch and it would be hard to say that this is because he thought you don't need to learn any other Sefer.

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  42. yeshiva guy I mentioned in the previous 'kineged kulam blog" that the chofex chaim in his sefer explains the tosefta the way you are explaining.

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  43. under what basis does the opinion of the rambam have greater significance than the nefesh hachaim and thr gr"a?who told you that chasimas hatalmud is the be all that ends all? The one word answer is MISORA taught it to us.klal yisroel were always guided by the gidolim, and that 'value system' in Judaism has been determined by the gidolim through their tora outlook. Therefore,since for at least 250 years, we have their opinions well documented,we must adhere to them. The only reason why the gidolim had to write about tora in such strong terms was because, up until that era, it was a davar pashut the Talmud tora was so great. It was only to counter the chasidim who wanted to change that notion that forced reb chaim volozhner to express himself that way.

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  44. Rav Asher Weiss touched upon the topic briefly this past Thursday night. The key line - "you can never say something is the 'most important' - it's all important, and we need to find the balance." Listen from 48:00-50;00 at this link -

    http://www.kolhalashon.com/New/Media/MP3JwPlayer.aspx?ID=1084841&PathFile=0007-20131107-213531-%d7%95%d7%99%d7%a6%d7%90-%d7%94%d7%a1%d7%9b%d7%9e%d7%99%d7%9d.mp3&LangCode=Heb&RavName=%d7%94%d7%a8%d7%91%20%d7%90%d7%a9%d7%a8%20%d7%95%d7%95%d7%99%d7%99%d7%a1&Path=Hebrew|HTnc|ParashaShiur|R0007-1|CurrentLessons&Title=%d7%95%d7%99%d7%a6%d7%90-%d7%94%d7%a1%d7%9b%d7%9e%d7%99%d7%9d%20%d7%93%20%d7%9b%d7%a1%d7%9c%d7%95%20%d7%aa%d7%a9%d7%a2%d7%93&ShiurNum=1&NewOrder=New2Old&RavID=0007

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