Monday, March 24, 2014

This Chasam Sofer is Astounding!

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Rabbi Tzvi Liker sent me one of the most extraordinary Torah perspectives I have seen in a long time. It's all the more amazing because of who it comes from. Rav Moshe Sofer, a.k.a. Chasam Sofer (1762–1839), is widely considered to be the "father of Orthodoxy." He was the Rosh Yeshiva of Pressburg and a staunch opponent of any reformations of Judaism, leading to his famous saying, "That which is new, is forbidden by the Torah."

The discussion relates to the well-known dispute in the Gemara between Rabbi Yishmael and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai about learning Torah versus working. Rabbi Yishmael teaches that the study of Torah is to be accompanied by earning a livelihood, as per the verse that we recite in Shema, "Ve'asafta deganecha - And you shall gather your grain." Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, on the other hand, says that one should devote oneself to Torah, and God will ensure that one's needs are provided for. Abaye observes that many followed the lead of Rabbi Yishmael and succeeded in both working and learning, while most of those who followed Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai did not succeed in either.

Enter Chasam Sofer. He cites a view that one should ideally follow Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and dedicate oneself solely to Torah, arguing that when Abaye observes that many people didn't do well in that path, this is because they didn't really devote themselves to it properly, but a special person who is truly dedicated to Torah will manage to succeed. Chasam Sofer himself says that "we" (it's not clear who he's referring to) follow Rabbi Nehorai, who argues with Rabbi Meir's instruction that one should teach his child a trade, and says that he will only teach his son Torah.

So far, this sounds very much in accord with someone representing the right wing of Orthodox Judaism. But now comes the "but." And it's the "but" to end all "buts"!

But, says Chasam Sofer, but, this is only true in the Diaspora. In the Diaspora, there is no reason to work at a trade except to earn a living; furthermore, enhancing the economy of one's host country accentuates the fact that the Jews are in exile. Accordingly, if one can truly dedicate oneself to Torah and succeed that way, there is no reason to work, and this is what Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was referring to (and Chasam Sofer argues that even Rabbi Yishmael would agree).

In Israel, on the other hand, it's entirely different. Here, Chasam Sofer says, one does not only work the fields in order to make a living. There is also the mitzvah of yishuv ha'aretz, settling the land. In the same way as one stops learning Torah to put on tefillin, says Chasam Sofer, one stops learning Torah to farm the land, which is the mitzvah of yishuv ha'aretz. Chasam Sofer explains that yishuv ha'aretz does not just mean living in Israel; it means developing the country. He further says that not just farming, but all industries and professions, are part of settling the land and giving it honor. Chasam Sofer adds that it would be a deficiency in the honor of Israel if a certain profession does not exist there, requiring products to be imported from abroad.

This is staggering! According to Chasam Sofer, there is a mitzvah for people in Israel to leave yeshivah and learn a profession quite separate from the requirement to provide for one's family. It's important for Israel to have doctors and engineers and all the professionals that a country requires in order to have honor (and to counter the brain-drain that currently exists). Likewise, people who make aliyah to Israel and bring their professional skills are fulfilling the mitzvah of yishuv ha'aretz in a much more significant way than merely by living here. (Update - Someone at Machon Lev sent me a photo, at right, of a poster displaying Chasam Sofer's words, which is displayed outside the office of the president of Machon Lev!)

Chasam Sofer states this idea in two places. Don't take my word for it - below is a scan of both passages. Read and be amazed! And share it with those who believe that anyone encouraging people in Israel to leave yeshivah and enhance the workforce can only be a Torah-hating Amalekite!


68 comments:

  1. This is precisely the point that all the arguments we are all having boil down to. What is the ultimate purpose of Torah? What is the ultimate spiritual goal of Am Israel?
    Is the ultimate spiritual experience being a master of Talmud and halacha? Is someone who is not built to be a talmid hacham still capable of spiritual growth and even greatness? Should the goal of every Jew to be to sit and study Torah all the time and is someone who doesn't is to be considered some sort of failure, even if he is successful in some other endeavor?
    What the Hatam Sofer is saying is really found all the way back in the earliest stories of the TANACH--that Am Israel is a TEAM EFFORT. Everyone has a role to play, including the farmer, the soldier, the worker, in addition to the Torah scholar. It is this concept that Zionism came to restore to Am Israel. Unfortunately, during the long Galud (Exile) this was forgottten as everyone struggled mightly to find a niche in which he could simply find enough parnasa to survive. The return to Eretz Israel has upset long-established patters of behavior and thinking which has lead to the current conflict in the religous world. It will take true leadership to lead the Torah community to go beyond the fear that so many have that if the Torah scholars were to admit to this "team effort" view of Am Israel then the good students would end up leaving the yeshivot and kollelim. The only solution is to teach Torah in such a way that people are attracted to it for intellectual and spiritual enrichment (those who are capable of doing this) and not to simply trap young students into that world with no possibility of branching beyond it, which, in the end will be self-defeating.

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  2. I believe it's the Chasam Sofer in Sukkah, at the end of Lulav HaGazul, who said that nowadays any work in the Land of Israel that promotes society here, not just farming, is in the category of the mitzvah of Yishuv Ha'Aretz.

    I remember from years ago that Rav Ovadia made a similar point about Yishuv HaAretz in Israel, related to school choice, although after he said it theoretically, he still advised against it.

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  3. I think that this post really captures an important issue. I actually agree with your sentiment, to a degree. But - and I mean no disrespect to you - this is one of the most famous chatam sofers out there. Anyone who learned in yeshivot knows this piece! In our day and age people become "experts" by knowing how to search with a computer. I cannot accept people who disagree with real Talmidei Chachamim based on doing a little bit of research.

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  4. Did you learn in "yeshivot" or "yeshivos"? Maybe that's the difference... I learned in yeshivoS for 8 years and I never heard this...

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  5. I also refer you to the introduction to the Chasam Sofer on Chumash.

    There he decries the practice of not teaching your son a trade and having him learn full time.

    This, he says, will result in boys marrying only for money and creating issues in Jewish homes and marriages.

    I guess that today he would be called a sonei dos.

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  6. These passages are certainly astounding, coming as they do from the Hatam Sofer. But in spite of how "useful" they may be, I feel compelled to point out that the Hatam Sofer's position -- that R. Shimon b. Yohai's statement against working the land and earning a living does not apply to Eretz Yisrael -- is almost certainly wrong. Rashbi and R. Yishmael were 1st century Tannaim who lived in Eretz Yisrael. It is difficult to imagine that their statements about how one should lives one's life were not intended to refer to the very place in which they themselves lived. Furthermore, the famous story about Rashbi incinerating people with his eyes when seeing them engaged in agricultural work [TB Shabbat 33b] is clearly intended to refer to Eretz Yisrael.

    Still, it's amazing that the Hatam Sofer held this position. And all the more so, given that he obviously knew what I pointed out above very well...

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  7. I have heard that these sections are censored in recent re-publications- can anyone confirm or deny?

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  8. Did the early Mize achieve leaders such as Rabbi Reines cite this Chatam Sofer?

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  9. "and to counter the brain-drain that currently exists"

    What exactly do you mean by this?

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  10. Excellent article. Thanks!

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  11. shmuel said:
    The Israeli Haredi newspaper Hamodia has produced a film video to raise funds throughout the Jewish world for Israeli kollel families.

    The video blamed the State of Israel for the high level of poverty that exists within Haredi society.
    In this next section, you will see parts of the original video together with some perspectives that we think are important to mention.

    Please- Share with people in your community!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1q2b_VaSng


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  12. It looks like the Chasam Sofer is not talking about our current situation. He says Rabbi Yishmael is talking about, "the majority of Jews are living in the land," which is not the case today. And he says that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and Rav N'hora'i are talking about "when we are scattered among the nations," which we still are. No?

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  13. {Sigh}
    First of all, let's invoke the famous statement of Rav Eliashiv, z"l: they could say it, we can't!
    Then let's point out that you've now created an industry of yeshiva bochrim who will be dispatched to every Chareidi yeshiva in the country to find the relevant pages and destroy them! Talk about creating a bal taschis situation!

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  14. Slifkin, nobody is denying the mitzvas kiyyum Eretz Yisrael. NOBODY. They just have problems with the government. The ironic thing is that you want to turn a political issue into a meta-halachik/religious issue. Wait, isn't the term for that thinking.....Chareidi????

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  15. It has been common in the yeshiva-world in recent years that when quoting an opinion or pshat of a contemporary Rosh Yeshiva or Rov, the speaker will say that 'Rav So-and-So' points out that .....

    I find this irritating, as it falsely implies that what the Rov said was a statement of fact rather than his opinion or merely an arguable position.

    R' Slifkin - I think you made a similar error by using 'teaches' and 'instruction' regarding statements by Rabbi Yishmael and Rabbi Meir, respectively, and 'says' and 'argues' with regard to the statements by Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai and Rabbi Nehorai.

    It's a natural mistake, but something which, I think you would agree, we should try to avoid.

    Otherwise, great post!!

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  16. Hi Rabbi Slifkin -

    Not to nitpick, but the Hatam Sofer is usually considered by historians to be the "founder" or at least the first articulator of "ultra-Orthodox" Judaism (see "The Jew in the Modern World). Sofer was even opposed to changes in language and dress that more "modern" Orthodox rabbis like Hirsch would accept and/or have no problem with (speaking/learning German, incorporating German sermons into synagogue services, shaving one's beard, wearing general European clothing, etc.)

    Nice post!
    M. Singer

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  17. Yes, I know about all that, but I think that "Orthodoxy" is usually used as a more accurate label for Hatam Sofer than "ultra-Orthodoxy," which is usually used for the Hungarians, while the Hirschian school is described as "neo-Orthodox."

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  18. Natan Slifkin the Hatam Sofer who lived in Pressburg/Bratislava/Pozsony (Geraman,Slovak and Hungarian names for the same town), which today is in Slovakia, but was then considered part of Hungary, was a "Hungarian" oberlender posek. I assume you mean to contrast him with the Hasidic Transylvanian unterlenders.

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  19. I am contrasting him with northeast Hungarians such as Rabbi Hillel Lichtenstein, Rabbi Haim Sofer and Rabbi Akiva Yosef Schlesinger (who, admittedly, was a complex figure).

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  20. See opening comment on audio roundup earlier this month;
    http://www.torahmusings.com/2014/03/audio-roundup-128/

    KT
    Joel RIch

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  21. When a man writes voluminously, like the Chasam Sofer, it is possible to find all sorts of statements and comments in his writings that are not truly reflective of his persona. You also will find statements that the author chose not to highlight or promote. This statement would appear to be one of them.

    Also, the thing about "chodosh ossur min hatorah" should be taken in context. There are countless folks who personally are very conservative, but in their scholarship they are bold and innovative. People feel free to write things in books they would never say publicly in speech.

    Note also in the Chasam Sofer's day, well before the advent of political Zionism, there was nothing political about this statement. Had he lived 100 years later, his paradigms would likely not have allowed him even to think this way, let alone write it.



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  22. "the majority of Jews are living in the land," which is not the case today

    That isn't clear. While it is commonly stated that that around 43% of Jews live in Israel, the usual figure of 6.1 million figure for the Jewish population of the USA, for example, includes many people whose mother is/was not Jewish.

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  23. The Chasam Sofer lived in Hungary, but he was born and grew up in Germany.

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  24. Check out the update in the post - the photo of the poster from Machon Lev!

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  25. Rabbi Yisachar Teichtal discusses this Chatam Sofer at length in Eim Habanim Semeicha and concludes as follows:

    "These words [of Chatam Sofer] confound all our ideas. How greatly he valued the work of settling the Land, going so far as to conclude and teach that it is forbidden in the Land of Israel to act in accordance with the view of Rabbi Nehora'i [Kidushin 82a] and Rabbi Shimon Ben Yechoi [(Berachot 35b), that one should engage exclusively in Torah study and allow the burden of his livelihood to be borne by others]. Rather, one must act in accordance with the view of Rabbi Yishma'el [ibid.], engaging in settlement of the land [through planting and harvesting], which is itself a mitzvah. His analogy for this -- it is as if one were to say, 'I won't lay tephilin because I am busy studying Torah.' A person likewise may not say, 'I won't harvest the crops because I am busy studying Torah.' This is also the case for other constructive vocations, which are also included in this mitzvah, as the leading decisor rules -- one of the greatest of the later authorities, our master the Chatam Sofer, whose rulings have been accepted like those of Moshe from the mouth of the Almighty. Who would dare or presume and who would have the audacity to make light of this matter, which the Chatam Sofer has valued so very highly, to the point of equating working the Land of Israel with the positive commandment to don tephilin, as a Jewish man does daily, and without which he is scarcely a son of Israel at all ... as explained in Rosh HaShana [17a]? Shame and disgrace should therefore cover the faces of those who, through specious reasoning and arguments, shun and degrade [productive labor in fulfillment of] the positive commandment to settle the Land. Their words are null and void in the face of the words of the Chatam Sofer, and should not be given the any consideration at all."

    This passage can be found in the Hebrew edition of Eim Habanim Semeicha at pp. 215-16. (The translation is mine.)

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  26. I am afraid that you are suffering from a lack of reading comprehension. He does not say that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was referring to only chutz la'aretz (as you claim: "this is what Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was referring to"); he says that Rabbi Yishma'el was referring to only Eretz Yisrael. In other words, in Chutz La'aretz everyone agrees that Torah-only is the sole option, and in Eretz Yisrael there is a machlokes. And by the way, I learned in "Yeshivos," as well, and heard this when I was 19.

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  27. If you read the two pieces from Chasam Sofer carefully, you will see why I wrote what I did. In the first piece, from Sukkah, he indicates (but does not state clearly) that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai would have argued with Rabbi Yishmael in Eretz Yisrael. However, in the second piece, from Shoftim, he states explicitly that "Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and Rabbi Nehorai were referring to when Jews are scattered amongst the nations."

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  28. Thanks for scanning the sources. Kol haKavod.

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  29. So you are saying that there appears to be a contradiction between his position as stated in his chiddushim to Maseches Sukka and his position as stated in his sefer on the Chumash.I guess the proper thing to do would be to research if one was written by him and the other by talmidim, in order to determine which one carries more weight, but hey! Let's just get excited and pretend they say the same thing, instead!

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  30. No, I'm saying that the first piece is ambiguous, whereas the second piece is explicit.

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  31. Was Chatam Sofer referring to a Torah state or to a secular state run by people who may be mechaleley shabbat and baalei niddah?

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    1. He wasn't referring to a state at all. Whether the Jews or another nation are in control of the land has no relevance to his comments. Correct?
      What's the rationale for why that would be relevant to the mitzvah he discusses?

      Delete
  32. I don't understand why this is such a chiddush. Anyone with even a nominal familiarity with Tanach knows that Judiasm is about living in is world, not holing yourself up in the Beis Medrash.

    I know you're surprised to find someone like the Chasam Sofer espousing this view but it's rather obvious to most of us who haven't completely invented a new religion like the Charedim have!

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  33. I don't see what is ambiguous. He writes: Rabbi Yishma'el stated from the passuk of "And you shall gather your grain" only in Eretz Yisrael etc., but when we are spread among the nations etc. Rabbi Yishma'el admits to Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. He gives no indication at all that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai holds his position only in Chutz La'aretz. Please clarify where the ambiguity comes forom.

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  34. There's nothing ambiguous about the first first passage. It's a simple contradiction.
    The second passage, from Torat Moshe, is especially hard to understand. How could R' Yishmael believe that ve'asafta is in chu"l? The passuk is clearly referring to EY! The first passage however, makes sense. The machloket is in EY bacause of the special mitzva of yishuv EY.
    You should be campaigning for more Jews from chu"l to be in kollel.

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  35. Chasam Sofer,seems to say that one should not contribute to ones host country unless it is Israel

    a sad comment

    Or maybe I am reading him wrong

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  36. Ephraim RubensteinMarch 24, 2014 at 5:40 PM

    Was Chatam Sofer referring to a Torah state or to a secular state run by people who may be mechaleley shabbat and baalei niddah?

    I am also a baal niddah (sometimes) but never a boel niddah.

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  37. What of the idea of מצוה שאפשר לעשות על ידי אחרים? How would that play in here?

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  38. The problem is that today, we have a MAJOR yeshiva that does away with chazarat hasha"tz (i.e., do a "hoiche shmona esreah" because of "bitul torah". If chazarat hasga"tz is bitul torah, al achat qama veqama ( = even more so) is kiyum e"y, to them. Not that they believe in kiyum e"y anyway.

    MiMedinat HaYam

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  39. "When a man writes voluminously, like the Chasam Sofer, it is possible to find all sorts of statements and comments in his writings that are not truly reflective of his persona. You also will find statements that the author chose not to highlight or promote. This statement would appear to be one of them."

    If he writes it in two places, it's hard to argue that it's not truly reflective of his thought.

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  40. This is a common falacy that the chatam sofer was what today would be called ultra orthodox. He has many psakimthat today wouls be considered MO. Building homes on shabbat (by non jewish labor), amirah le-amirah to non jews, matza shruya, vocational studies in pressburg, some of many, besides what you mention here.

    And contrary to popular impression (mentioned here) he not only spoke german, he taught it to fre.nch soldiers of napoleon.

    He donated to, and often quoted mendlesohn (though he wrote on his will that his children shouldnt read him.)

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  41. Moshe Dick writes:
    I don 't see any ambiguity at all. The Chassam Sofer declares that ,in chutz lo-oretz, we rely on R"shimon bar Yochai and Rav Nehoroi, negating Rabbi Yishmoel. In eretz yisroel, says the Chassam Sofer, R"Yishmoel holds that it is a mitzvah to till the land and be employed because of "yishuv ho-oretz" This is clear from both pieces. My problem is with the general view. Anyone who knew Pressburg and ahskenazi jewry knows that everyone worked and that kollel was totally unknown in Hungary and Czechoslovakia (as it was unknown in Poland and Lithuania, btw). So, the advice of the Chassam Sofer to act like R"Nehoroi is at odds with what his own kehillah was doing. It also goes against the shulchan aruch (see orach chaim 156). But, in any case, even the Chassam Sofer claims that, in eretz yisroel (regardless of who is in government)it is a mitzvah to be employed.

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  42. "If he writes it in two places, it's hard to argue that it's not truly reflective of his thought."

    I agree, what I meant (and wrote poorly) referred to the second sentence, that though he may believe this, nevertheless he didn't make any efforts towards promoting it. (Unlike, for example, the modern mizrachi movement, which does.)

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    1. Writing it in a sefer and publishing it was promoting it. Isn't that how he promoted all his ideas?

      Delete
  43. "t is possible to find all sorts of statements and comments in his writings that are not truly reflective of his persona."

    Did you bother to study the Chasam Sofer? Have you found a single statement by him that would contradict this twice-quoted statement? Do a little study and you will see that the Chasam Sofer was, to some degree, a proto-Zionist. He promoted development of Eretz Yisrael, and famously blamed the woes of 1834 on the neglect of rebuilding ירושלים. Some of his students became proto-Zionists. Within ultra-Orthodox circles, there was a trend of thought that was highly skeptical of emancipation. They preferred some sort of restoration in Eretz Yisrael over promises of equality among the nations of the world. Now, I'm not claiming that the Chasam Sofer would today be a Mizrachist. I simply don't know, and I don't want to over-emphasize one aspect of his thought. If I would speculate, I would say he would be a quasi-Zionist in the style of R' Menashe Klein.

    "Note also in the Chasam Sofer's day, well before the advent of political Zionism, there was nothing political about this statement. Had he lived 100 years later, his paradigms would likely not have allowed him even to think this way, let alone write it."

    So we can throw away the ENTIRE MESORAH because you can simply reject EVERY statement by saying, "Had he lived 100 years late he would not think this way". The Shulchan Aruch's psak is inconvenient for you? Well, he lived centuries ago- had he lived today he would pasken differently! How is such baseless speculation different than reform or conservative "Judaism"?

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  44. I think most commentators explain that R' Nehorai and R' Meir are not arguing - see the Maharsha for instance (Kiddushin 82a). In fact it is quite hard to say that they are arguing because the Gemara in Eruvin 13b tells us that R' Meir is R' Nehorai.

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  45. So who are the six people that voted "kefirah" on this post? They consider the Chassam Sofer to be a kofer?!

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  46. Lazar,

    it is so intellectually dishonest to pretend that acharonim write about some idealistic perfect future with a 'torah true' state of israel.

    they knew what the score was.
    they knew that even in temple times things weren't so torah true.

    what you are trying to do is to create the impression that the chatam sofer was writing something that he clearly wasn't.

    if you want to make such bogus claims, then go and find some evidence for it.

    good rabbis aren't dumb. stop turning them into dummies.
    it does them no honor whatsoever.

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  47. Am I looking in the wrong place because there seems to be a very different version here (of the second quote)...
    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=35887&st=%D7%9E%D7%99+%D7%94%D7%90%D7%99%D7%A9&pgnum=115

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  48. Interestingly, the coments from parashat Shoftim are not to be found in all editions of Torat Moshe - the Chatam Sofer's commentary to the Torah. I have no idea if the comments were censored or if the sefer was not written by the Chatam Sofer himself and this different editions might have different comments.
    Dovid landesman

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  49. Hi,

    I learned in some of the same yeshivos as Rav Slifkin but there was one difference, I followed the example of Rav Hutner who while learning in Slobodka-Chevron went and learned with Rav Kook.

    So I used off time from Yeshivos to visit other Yeshivot which is where the unrevisionist version of the Chasam Sofer was shared at a Shabbat table of a Rosh Yeshiva in Mercaz HaRav.

    That said I would be much more convinced if this idea was found somewhere in his printed halachic teshuvos which would mean he felt this opinion should be a Psak Halachah. Chidushei Torah aren't always in the category of legal rulings while Teshuvos are.

    By the way Rashbi quite possibly agreed in the end with the Chasam Sofer in Israel as is evident from the conclusion of the Gemara with the man running with hadassim lKavod Shabbos.

    Rashbi then told his son it was enough for the world if he and his son were the only ones totally immersed only in Torah(especially Kabbalah if the cave was where they composed the Zohar). See Rav Kook's peirush ayin ayeh there for more detail.

    Shalom,

    Elisha Paul

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  50. This truly is an amazing find, and I, too, never heard of it before (I also studied in yeshivos).

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  51. Chasam Sofer also did not require Metzitzah B'Peh; he considered the word Metzitzah to mean 'squeeze out' the blood. He noted that Peh is only mentioned by the Mekubalim and we have no involvement in hidden matters. He als considered Metzitzah only a health matter and not part of the Mitzvah.

    Later his authorship of this responsa was denied, of course.

    See http://www.hakirah.org/Vol14Zuriel.pdf page "Zayin".

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  52. On a related note, it interesting to note r. moshe feinstein’s equally innovative understanding of the same Talmud. In the midst of a paean to work, r moshe – conflating a refusal to support oneself by seeking work to one who is someikh al hannes – asserts that even r. nehorai subscribes to that opinion (O”CH 2;111), and r. nehorai's advice to forget about teaching a craft to a child is merely a temporary waiver, as from a pedagogical perspective one may be more readily torah educable in the early years. But as an adult – why, even r. nehorai would of course advise him to go work rather than depend on miraculous economic intervention . While this seems as inventive a reading as chasam sofer’s, it sheds interesting light on the views of the leading poseiq of the recent age – at least in the US – and his possible take on the lifetime kollel ideal, in the days just prior to the invention of charedism as a sociological category. as r. moshe gets re-printed every now and then, we should be thankful this t’shuvoh doesn’t get censored out. or perhaps, od chozone lammoeid.

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  53. " I have no idea if the comments were censored or if the sefer was not written by the Chatam Sofer himself and this different editions might have different comments."

    There are different editions. All you need to know is that the edition published by the grandson of the חת"ס contains this drush. An ancestor of mine studied in the Pressburg Yeshiva under the כתב סופר and he spent his whole life working and learning.

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  54. Once again, those pesky secular zionists (with Rav Dov Lipman along to boot) are contributing to the true fulfillment of G-d's will. First it was zionism itself now it is the saving of those who label themselves charedi (tremblers/quakers in fear of the Lord) from living lives of tiflus. Amen, ken yehi ratzon.

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  55. Probably, the Chasam Sofer did not anticipate a situation in which many Jews lived in Eretz Yisrael under a government dominated by secular Jews who governed according to secular principles. Perhaps, he would have considered such a situation to be a new example of golus, requiring golus behavior by Orthodox communities.

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    1. RAM,
      Probably? I would think probably NOT. He makes no comment about the leadership or ownership over the land. He is talking about Eretz Yisrael and the mitzvot associated with it. Your extremely novel interpretation that somehow if a secular Jew controls the land it loses its status as Eretz Yisrael has no source that I'm aware of. Even satmar accepts that eretz Yisrael is today the same historical land area as described in the Torah and we know where it is, despite their problems with who controls it, or else no satmar would live there. The Chasam Sofer's comments are applicable even if an idol worshiping king controls the land. Where do you see that they are not?

      Delete
  56. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  57. I think that, in the circumstances in which we find ourselves, all authorities would agree with whatever I think, given that the special circumstances which obtain in our time obviously demand it.

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  58. "Probably, the Chasam Sofer did not anticipate a situation in which many Jews lived in Eretz Yisrael under a government dominated by secular Jews who governed according to secular principles."

    Wow. This blog has become a hotbed of radical Reform Judaism! What you're saying is that the existence of a secular gov't frees us from observing certain מצות that were otherwise applicable under the Ottomans.

    Also, if we take your argument to its logical conclusion it would mean that if UTJ were somehow to be the majority or ruling party, then all Charedim would suddenly join kibbutzim!

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  59. While the reference to the view of Rav Moshe Sofer about working vs. all-day torah study in Eretz Yisroel is certainly not new (I read about this view in Rav Maimon's Sarei Hameah and checked the Chatam Sofer on the torah many decades ago), it is important to have the relevant sections of the torah and talmud commentary posted. It is ironic that the view of someone whom the Hareidi Litvish world considers the "rosh shel kol b'nei hagolah" is so willfully discarded by them. If their excuse is that they feel themselves still in galus while living in Israel, and the mitzvot hateluyot ba'aretz aren't deemed relevant to them, then why get aroused about the heter mechirah issue during shemitta? While the Rambam holds that some of those mitzvot, e.g. t'ruma, shemitta, and yovel, are only fully in effect when the majority of Jews live in the land, he doesn't dismiss those mitzvot are pertinent only in future times. Let's grant that the command to work the land is only of rabbinic force today. Why is that different than celebrating Purim - a rabbinic command that takes away from torah study (particularly if you get plastered). In any case, the halacha is like R' Yishma'el in Eretz Yisrael and not like R' Shimon - as per the gemara's comment, "harbei asu k'R' Shimon veloi alsah beyadam, harbei asu k'R' Yishma'el ve'alsah beyadam", i.e., it's possible to both study torah and work - as many have done.

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  60. Elisha Paul wrote: "I learned in some of the same yeshivos as Rav Slifkin but there was one difference, I followed the example of Rav Hutner who while learning in Slobodka-Chevron went and learned with Rav Kook."

    Elisha, I hope you don't follow the example of Rav Hutner too far. Let it not be forgotten that, years later, he conspicuously removed a picture of Rav Kook that had long had graced his sukkah wall, deleted Rav Kook's haskamah from the second printing of his sefer on Mesechet Nazir, and never credited Rav Kook for the derech he followed in Pachad Yitzchak or even for the phrases and ideas he lifted directly from Rav Kook. These were sad milestones in the Agudazation and Chareidisation of the Torah world.

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  61. It does seem like there is a stirah in the two sources from the Chasam Sofer. According to the first source, R'Yishmael is modeh to Rashbi in Chutz L'aretz and we pasken like R'Yishmael.

    According to the second source R'Yishmael and Rashbi are arguing in principle whether someone should work & learn or just learn. However Rashbi would agree that in E"Y a person should work, not because of a need for parnosa, Rashbi holds there is no need, but as a separate mitzva of yishuv E"Y.

    It seems like the Chasam Sofer changed his mind. Do we know which piece was written last?

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  62. I heard of this Chasam Sofer many years ago. A friend of mine asked a Chareidi Rosh Yeshiva in E"Y about it and the Rosh Yeshiva just said "we don't pasken like that Chasam Sofer."

    I think that this Chasam Sofer should still be publicized to combat the disgusting demonization of Mizrachi that has risen to the surface in the struggle over Army participation. It is true however that there are many Chasam Sofer's that we do not follow Halacha L'Mayseh. Prime example: The Chasam Sofer holds that there is no mitzvah of pru ur'vu after the destruction of the Bais Hamikdosh.

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  63. Moshe Dick writes:
    benignuman: I don't think there is a 'setirah' at all. The Chassam Sofer maintains (in both pieces) that , in chutz lo-oretz we should do like Rashbi and R"nehoroi, because others do the work needed but in Eretz Yisroel, we pasken like R"Yishmoel because there is an additional mitzvah of Yishuv ho-oretz.
    BUt i want to refer to the arrogant answer by the Rosh yeshiva you quote. What arrogance! Does he say the same about "metziza bepeh" ? or about the shulchan having to be in the middle of the shul? I think that the present situation and complications can be laid squarely at the feet of the litvishe roshei yeshiva. At least, the chassidische rebbes show a modicum of common sense. Not so, the roshei yeshiva. They pasken against halocho and ,as I write elsewhere, it is all about jobs and control of their flock.

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  64. Moshe Dick,

    According to the first Chasam Sofer everyone agrees that in Chu"l we have to only learn! According to the second Chasam Sofer R'Yishmael holds that one should learn and work in Chu"l. The lomdus is also different in the two pieces.

    I don't think that the Rosh Yeshiva was displaying arrogance. He was merely observing that this is a Chasam Sofer that is not widely accepted by the Chareidim in E"Y. It is not uncommon in the halachic process that some opinions of even widely respected poskim get disregarded as a practical matter outside of the posek's town and talmidim.

    Even R'Moshe Feinstein whose psakim are, in general, widely accepted in the US, has some psakim that are ignored outside of the Lower East Side and R'Moshe's talmidim.

    (As an aside, the Chasam Sofer was meikel to do metziza with a tube and this shitta is widely relied upon in litvishe circles)

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  65. you'll never stop blurting out your take on sources even though it results in showing your ignorance of being able to understand them as you demonstrate here: a fraud is someone who is definitive, and then upon inspection, is absolutely wrong in his definitiveness. you won't stop using cherry picked sources to fill your imagination with ideas that you are vindicated on your position. Sad that you cant get the sources consistently right.

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