Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Kezayis Season

Pesach is rapidly approaching, which means that it's nearly time for people to obsess over the size of a kezayis. The monograph that I wrote on the evolution of the kezayis is by far the most popular piece that I have ever published - if you haven't seen it, you can download it at this link. Here are some follow-up posts on the topic:

Matzah/Maror Chart for Rationalists - so that you, too, can have a chart!

The Popularity of Olives - discussing why this paper is so popular and yet hated by some.

Why On Earth Would One Eat A Kezayis?  - discussing the strange notion that one should eat a kezayis of matzah on Seder night.

The Riddle of the Giant Kezayis Defense - wondering why many people would not accept that a kezayis is the size of an olive.

Maniacal Dishonesty About Olives - exposing an error-ridden critique that appeared in the journal Dialogue.

It's Krazy Kezayis Time! - discussing the view that one should eat a huge amount of matzah in a very short time in order to fulfill all opinions.

The Kezayis Revolution - A new sefer by Rav Hadar Margolin presents a wealth of evidence for the smaller size of kezayis, as well as testimonials regarding charedi Gedolim who held this way!

130 comments:

  1. Wonderful blog!Please note that the Sefer by Rav Margolin mentioned in the Kezayis Revolution was republished, in a second edition, last week in Israel and is an excellent Sefer

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  2. Shalom BrestickerApril 21, 2016 at 8:01 AM

    Another reason why this is very relevant today is that many people today do stomach bypass operations that reduce the amount of food they are able to eat to very small amounts. Such people are simply unable to eat the larger shiurim. Remember that there are also 4 cups of wine, maror, korech, and afikoman.

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  3. Rabbi Slifkin, I am a genuine admirer of your work, and I have frequently defended you on multiple occasions to my colleagues and friends. Please take this into account when you read the harsh words that follow.

    Calling the olive-sized shiur for the kezayis the rationalist position is disgustingly disrespectful and betrays an ignorance of the halakhic process.
    First of all, your basic premise that the Rishonim who gave a different shiur for the olive had no personal knowledge of it is faulty. R. Menachem Meiri and the author of the Sefer HaChinuch, both of whom who had access to olives nevertheless adopted a larger shiur. Obviously, both understood that halakhic process incorporates precedence and the legislation of halacha through the discernment and reconciliation of the binding rulings codified in the Gemara, and the clarification of halakhic terms based on these apparata despite what empirical observations might reveal. This is a staple of many legal systems. These Rishonim's approach to the Kezayis question should be considered normative, and is the standard methodology used by Rishonim in all areas of halacha. Concluding that the halakhic shiur we call Kezayit is actualy larger than an olive based on an analysis of the relevant texts in the Gemara is an example of sound halakhic reasoning. Furthemore, the agreement of Rashba and Ritva that the size of an olive is the required shiur for Kezayit should not be understood as two separate confirmations of the opposing stance, since Ritva was Rashba's disciple and generally assumes his approach in such matters. Asserting that the only reason some Rishonim adopted a large shiur is due to their lack of knowledge is clearly unsupported.
    Secondly, even if you were correct, deciding the halakha when you have conflicting sources is not a simple manner. Years of study have been invested and thousands of pages have been written on halakhic methodology. One must take into account one's personal tradition in the matter, the opinion the Rav of the community, - presuming it is applicable - the practice of community, the opinions of contemporary poskim [סוגיא דעלמא], not to mention the various technical legal methods employed, extensively dealt with in the writings of the Shach. Orthodox halakha, its theological nature notwithstanding, is fundamentally a legal system, and as such is determined through systematic legislation. It is not so simple to assume the opinion of the Geonim and some Rishonim here, and the casual dismissal of many Rishonim's opinion is equally dismissive of and disrespectful to the millenia long venture of Tannaim Amoraim and great Torah scholars to craft a halahkic jurisprudence and unify halakhic practice.
    With regard to the olive, there certainly exist justification to adopt a smaller size in the theoretical world of halakhic opinions. Whether or not one adopts this shiur in practice is contingent on many more factors, some previously enumerated, which may require consultation with a personal Rav. Adherence to academic methodology in this endeavour has been eschewed by Orhthodox poskim.
    Adopting a larger shiur for the olive is not anti-rationalist but rather pro-fidelity to halakhic methodology.

    Chag Sameach to all,
    R Stefansky

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    Replies
    1. To be sure, there can be legitimate reasons for adopting the larger shiur, as you mentioned. I never claimed otherwise. I only describe my approach as rationalist in contrast to those who claim that olives used to be bigger.

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    2. "Asserting that the only reason some Rishonim adopted a large shiur is due to their lack of knowledge is clearly unsupported."

      I believe that this statement is false; the notion is well supported. One of the statements quoted in the monograph is from a Rishon who was able to finally understand what a Kezais was when he traveled to E"Y.

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    3. "These Rishonim's approach to the Kezayis question should be considered normative, and is the standard methodology used by Rishonim in all areas of halacha. Concluding that the halakhic shiur we call Kezayit is actualy larger than an olive based on an analysis of the relevant texts in the Gemara is an example of sound halakhic reasoning."

      But practice also has a place and there are lots of reasons to think that the practice was to use smaller Shiurim until recently (not all of which is based on the Kezais question).

      And just to make it clear, I don't disagree with the fact that halacha honors precedent. I also eat the big Shiurim at my Seder.

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    4. David Ohsie wrote: "I believe that this statement is false; the notion is well supported. One of the statements quoted in the monograph is from a Rishon who was able to finally understand what a Kezais was when he traveled to E"Y."
      This is missing the point. The comment was not that there are no Rishonim who stated their shiurim based on unfamiliarity with an olive. The comment was that there are some Rishonim (Meiri, Chinuch) who gave a shiur larger than an olive despite being familiar with the size of actual olives. This is counter to the idea stated by R' Margolin that "all" of the Rishonim who gave a larger shiur were unfamiiar with olives, and it was only due to that unfamiliarity that they gave they larger shiur.

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    5. @Yehoshua: Read R. Stefansky below, he goes farther than that.

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  4. "I believe that this statement is false; the notion is well supported. One of the statements quoted in the monograph is from a Rishon who was able to finally understand what a Kezais was when he traveled to E"Y."
    True. But since the standard approach used by many Rishonim, certainly the Tosafists who gave a larger shiur for the olive, was to determine halacha based on the reconciliation of talmudic texts and not empirical observation, the burden of proof rests on one who maintains that had these Rishonim had access to olives their observations would have trumped the halakhic conclusions they reached through talmudic analysis. I don't believe that the words of an anonymous Rishon constitute sufficient support for this position. Kal v'chomer since Meiri, who is super rationalist, still determined halakha based on talmudic analysis in face of empirical observation.
    I may have overstated, so, asserting that the only reason some Rishonim adopted a large shiur is due to their lack of knowledge has little support.

    R Stefansky

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    Replies
    1. But since the standard approach used by many Rishonim, certainly the Tosafists who gave a larger shiur for the olive, was to determine halacha based on the reconciliation of talmudic texts and not empirical observation, the burden of proof rests on one who maintains that had these Rishonim had access to olives their observations would have trumped the halakhic conclusions they reached through talmudic analysis

      Dear Rabbi Stefansky, please keep posting comments as they are always enlightening.

      I don't think that I agree with the statement above. The approach of the Rishonim is to rely on textual analysis when they don't have another choice. If the size of an olive was known, there is no reason to believe that they would have taken the textual analysis over simply using an olive. It is true that when reality is in direct contradiction with a talmudic text, that the approach of the Tosafists will be to try to reconcile the two rather than simply rejecting the text as being based on the science of the times. But here the size of the Zayis is not well specified by the text, so it appears likely there would be no contradiction to resolve if the size of the olive was known. I have more to say, but I'll need to write it tomorrow. Chag Sameach.

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    2. "It is true that when reality is in direct contradiction with a talmudic text, that the approach of the Tosafists will be to try to reconcile the two rather than simply rejecting the text as being based on the science of the times. But here the size of the Zayis is not well specified by the text, so it appears likely there would be no contradiction to resolve if the size of the olive was known."

      I don't see how this is true. The contradictions about the size of a kezayit raised by Tosafot Yoma 80a are internal to the gemara. External evidence as to the size of an olive would not assist reconciliation. Case in point, Meiri and Sefer Hachinuch.
      Secondly, if both statements about the quantity of food one's throat may retain are to be taken as exacting in measurement, and are not approximations, then the size of a kezayit is pretty precisely specified. It is half the size of an egg.

      Chag Sameach,
      R Stefansky

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    3. It is half the size of an egg.

      What is and was the size of an egg? Go to any supermarket, and you can find (chicken) eggs sold in 2 or 3 sizes. There's reason to believe that only the smaller size(s) was/were available in the times of the Gemara, as we now specifically breed chickens to obtain the larger sizes.

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    4. The contradictions about the size of a kezayit raised by Tosafot Yoma 80a are internal to the gemara. External evidence as to the size of an olive would not assist reconciliation. You assume your conclusion. I would presume that the actual size of olives compared to figs and eggs would play a large role in constraining the possible answers to the contradiction, if known to them. For example, Tosafos Chullin 108b (which I'm sure that you know)

      שנפל לתוך יורה רותחת דמבלע
      בלע מפלט לא פלט. תימה
      ללבר הנראה לעיניס הוא לפליט
      לכשנותנין ירק בקררה רותחת משתנה
      מראית המיס מן הירק וכן בשר שומן
      נימוח לתוכה ונראה השמנונית על
      הרוטב

      I'm not sure why you assume that the throat calculations imply that it must be 1/2. It depends entirely how they are measuring. Suppose that they are referring to cross sections. If the olive cross section is 1/2 that of an egg, then it would be 1/8th the volume. That doesn't account for the shape of an egg being more oblong than an olive. I also don't know why you would assume that the measurement is exact. 1/2 is a surprisingly round number for the size ratio between to unrelated object. If you assume for example, that they rounded between 1/3 and 1/2, then you can get the olive as low as 7.2% of an egg based on a cross section of 5/12 which is halfway between 1/2 and 1/3.

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    5. You're correct that Tosafot does at times introduce empirical evidence into the halakhic process - יומא ע"ז ב' ד"ה משום, מועד קטן י"א א' ד"ה כוורא, עבודה זרה כ"ד ב' ד"ה פרה et al - Firstly however, in many of those instances, Tosafot affirms the halakha of the gemara and proposes that a certain natural change has occurred. Secondly, Tosafot's approach to the Kezayit quandary is another matter. The very premise underlying Tosafot's discussion in Yoma 80 is that the halakhic shiur known as Kezayit is subject to debate, something incongruent with an empirically based olive shiur. (Indeed, the gemara records disputes regarding the relationship between the actual shiur and the size of an olive - v. Yoma 80, Berachot 41a, TY Pe'ah 1:1 et al).

      Your calculations are certainly constitute a possible, if not probable understanding of the Gemara itself, however Tosafot obviously didn't regard them as a possibility, because if they did, they should have introduced them themselves to resolve the contradictions!

      R Stefansky

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    6. I second David's last comment about the implication of egg vs olive sizes from Yoma 80a,b. Tosafot there cites Kritut 14b that the throat (beit habliya) can accommodate 2 olives, whereas in Yoma 80a the corresponding capacity is stated as 1 egg. However, the Tosafot question this equation from Eruvin 9b which appears to say that an egg is equivalent to 3.375 grogrot (figs), while a grogeret is larger than an olive. I don't have time now to review the Yoma and related sugyot in detail, but the implication that the volume of an egg is 2 olives is not supported - as David has pointed out. The swallowing capacity is more related to the diameter (rather than the length) of an egg relative to the sum of the diameters of 2 olives than to their relative volumes. Taking an eqq shape as an ellipsoidal solid gives a volume of pi*L*D^2/6. If D is 2d (olive diameter), then V = 2*pi*L*D^2/3. An egg L is about 5/4 D (conservatively) or 5/2 d. Then V = 5*pi*d^3/3 (compared to v = pi*d^3/6 for Tosafot assumed round olive. Then an egg has a volume 10 x that of a round olive according to this analysis of the sugyot. That value is far more realistic than an assumed volume ratio of 2 or even 3.

      Y. Aharon

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    7. You're correct that Tosafot does at times introduce empirical evidence into the halakhic process - יומא ע"ז ב' ד"ה משום, מועד קטן י"א א' ד"ה כוורא, עבודה זרה כ"ד ב' ד"ה פרה et al - Firstly however, in many of those instances, Tosafot affirms the halakha of the gemara and proposes that a certain natural change has occurred.

      Yes, where there is a clear contradiction, Tosafos will assert that nature has changed. But where there is no clear contradiction, like in Chullin 108b, the facts inform the interpretation.

      More generally, all halacha, and in fact all legal systems, are a meaningless bunch of words without some tie to realia. The words are always implicitly interpreted to align with realia. For example, you simply can't learn Chulin without referencing animals; the words and reasoning will simply make no sense. There are a few rare cases where you try to figure out the realia via the text, but this is very error-prone and much less preferred even among halachic authorities.

      Your calculations are certainly constitute a possible, if not probable understanding of the Gemara itself, however Tosafot obviously didn't regard them as a possibility, because if they did, they should have introduced them themselves to resolve the contradictions!

      Or maybe Tosafos simply didn't think of them. It is very easy to understand the cube relationship between diameter and volume because this is something that can be stated very simply using algebra and also easily looked up in tables or memorized which made Y. Aharon's posting child's play for him whereas it would have been much for difficult for Tosafot.

      Generally, I'm also having trouble reconciling your theory with that of the Chazon Ish as reported by his nephew R Kanievsky (and I think that it is has been reported by others or stated by Chazon Ish himself; you will know this much better than me): using a usual olive is correct M'Ikar Hadin while the other shiurim are L'Chumrah. If so, they seem to saying that the text based calculation is not Ikkar.

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    8. "Or maybe Tosafos simply didn't think of them."
      Or any other reason they didn't propose them. That's precisely my point. We're not discussing possible independent resolutions to a presumed contradiction, but rather how have Tosafot would respond, namely if they would abandon their textual conclusions had they seen an olive. And since they didn't propose algebraic resolutions that would have resolved the issue, independent of empirical confirmation, for whatever reason it may be, there's no reason to assume they would have had they seen an olive. Same as Meiri and Sefer HaChinuch.

      "Generally, I'm also having trouble reconciling your theory with that of the Chazon Ish as reported by his nephew R Kanievsky (and I think that it is has been reported by others or stated by Chazon Ish himself; you will know this much better than me): using a usual olive is correct M'Ikar Hadin while the other shiurim are L'Chumrah. If so, they seem to saying that the text based calculation is not Ikkar."

      Why? Firstly, Meiri and Sefer HaChinuch maintained so. I'm simply saying so did Tosafot. Secondly, I have seen testimony from R. Chaim Kanievsky that the Chazon Ish held it was a matter of Bedieved vs LiChatchila not Ikar Hadin vs Chumra. His father, R. Y.Y. Kanievsky wrote so per the Chazon Ish in שיעורין של תורה.

      The only direct source I know of the Chazon Ish's lenient position re the Kezayit specifically is a letter reprinted in אגרות חזו"א ח"א קצ"ד where he proposes the notion that a kezait is determined based on the contemporary olive as another approach to the issue. However in his rulings, - חזו"א או"ח מועד סי' ל"ט known as קונטרס השיעורים - he rules unequivocally in favor of the larger shiur. Furthermore, he raises the notion there too, and adds that although theoretically it can be perennially contingent on the contemporary olive, it can also undergo codification of a certain size, which he maintains it has, and is therefore today halakhically a larger shiur. (I'm really summarizing a much larger more complicated piece, v. op. cit. ס"ק א - ו specifically).

      R Stefansky

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    9. "But since the standard approach used by many Rishonim, certainly the Tosafists who gave a larger shiur for the olive, was to determine halacha based on the reconciliation of talmudic texts and not empirical observation, the burden of proof rests on one who maintains that had these Rishonim had access to olives their observations would have trumped the halakhic conclusions they reached through talmudic analysis. I don't believe that the words of an anonymous Rishon constitute sufficient support for this position. Kal v'chomer since Meiri, who is super rationalist, still determined halakha based on talmudic analysis in face of empirical observation."

      1) "The Tosafists" do not give a larger shiur for an olive. One of the Tosafists estimated that an olive was the size of half an egg, another estimated it was smaller that 3/10 of an egg. As it turns out, one of these Tosafists was correct and the other was incorrect and that should be case closed for any reasonable person.

      2) Your proof form the ("super rationalist") Meiri and the Chinuch is moot. It is well known that many authorities (though none before Tosefot) took seriously the idea of an olive being half the size of an egg despite the fact that they were familiar with olives. However, this is because they believed either that olives had shrunk in the intervening period or that the olives of EY were different to the olives with which they are familiar. For the Meiri this was an entirely reasonable position, for someone today it is not.

      3) In recent years the position has developed that even though olives have not changed in size, nevertheless we should use the larger shiurim that were developed through textual analysis alone. (Again, for some reason, we are not allowed to use the smaller - accurate - shiurim that were also developed through textual analysis alone). However, this is simply tantamount to saying we should not follow Hazal, who clearly did intend the size of an olive whenever they refer to a k'zayith. One could speculate on the motives of those who believe we should not follow Hazal, but it's not really important. The vast majority of Jews who use the larger Shiurim today do so because they believe that the olives that Hazal referred to were bigger than the ones they are familiar with. If presented with the clear information that (a) average olive sizes have not changed and (b) Hazal were referring to an average Israeli olive, they would simply stop. We don't need to worry too much about a few funny people want to continue shovelling matzah in their mouth because of some abstruse theology of theirs.

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    10. David, thanks for the compliment, but I did have to look up the formula for the volume of an ellipsoidal solid. Perhaps the problem would have been 'child's play' for the late Rav Yisroel Belsky (had he been willing to confront the problem) who was always better at math than the rest of us. In any case, the algebraic manipulations were, indeed, straightforward high school type math once the formula was known.
      More importantly, the ba'alei Tosafot could be strikingly innovative in demonstrating some geometric details such as the area of a circle and the fact that the diameter of a square was a bit more than the Talmudic 7/5 (1.4) of the side (Eruvin 76am, Succa 8b). However, they appeared not to have known the Pythagorean theorem about the diagonal of right triangles and attempted to reduce the problem to dealing with such triangles of equal sides. They are also not expected to have known how to calculate the volume of solids other than cubes or rectangular ones. Nor is there evidence, to my knowledge, that they used algebraic methodology in calculations. For example, calculating the volume of a revi'it from the Talmudic equation relating the minimum volume of a mikvah in cubic amot(24x24x72 etzba'ot) and 40 seah (40x24 lug or 40x96 rev'it) is simple algebra (1 revi'it = 10.8 cubic etzba'ot), while the gemara and a long Tosafot arrive at a 2x2x2.7 etzba'ot rectangular solid volume for the revi'it by slicing and dicing the 24x24x72 etzba'ot mikvah shiur.

      My point is that despite the brilliance of the Ba'alei Tosafot, we are much more advanced in understanding mathematics or the physical world than they. If they could find fault with a leading Amora, Rav Yochanan's geometric knowledge whom they explicitly critique in Eruvin 76b (s.v. Rabbe Yochanan), then we may be excused if we disagree with their ostensible understanding of the volumes of eggs and olives - particularly since other Rishonim and Acharonim are similarly disposed, and reality does have a role to play.

      Y. Aharon

      Y. Aharon

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    11. Y Aharon: you said it better than I did. My comment about child's play was directly related to both the fact that the formulas can be found with a simple Internet search as well as the fact that algebra makes the understanding of such formulas and their implications quite obvious. Tosafos would have had to struggle much harder for the same result despite their collective brilliance.

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    12. I want to add something to the point #2 by Gavriel M. Meiri and others may have taken their position because they were in part secondary authorities who respected the authority of prior authorities. Moreover, while they saw olives, they did not necessarily know (as we do) that the authorities who independently determined the size of the Zayis never actually saw one. To prove your point, you need to find an authority who independently arrived at a large shiur despite what they saw with their own eyes. What the anonymous Rishon quoted by R Slifkin pro es is that in at least one case, the eyes won out.

      I'll provide the quote from R Chaim Kanievsky in a later post.

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    13. @Gavriel M
      1)Actually, they do. An olive is less than 1/3 of an egg.
      As for the reasonable person - maybe a reasonable person ignorant of the halakhic process.
      2)You misunderstand the proof. I am just proving that Rishonim, even with knowledge of an olive, nevertheless adopted a larger shiur. Your contention, "for the Meiri this was an entirely reasonable position, for someone today it is not" is moot. We're discussing whether or not Tosafot would have changed their psak had they had access to olives, not what we would do.
      3)Underlying your comment is a disregard of/ignorance of/disagreement with the methods and apparata of the halakhic process. Halakha, like most legal systems incorporates, among other things, a certain amount of precedence and authoritative texts, both of which remain binding even in a reality the original methods of legislation would no longer hold water. So it is vital that we try to understand what the Tosafists would have done. Yes, at times the halakhic process itself does call for a change based on new evidence, however, this too is internal to the halakhic process, and is governed by meta-halakhic principles. These include ספק דאורייתא לחומרא, הלכה כבתראה etc. We do not turn a blind eye to the innovations and discoveries of modernity , nor do we disregard all precedence in favor of a halakha whose laws are dictated by purely comteporarily congruent notions. It is the job of poskim to balance the two; and, unfortunately, it is due to the inherent ambiguity that halakhic disputes arise., which is why there are two opinions today how to pasken.
      "In recent years the position has developed that even though olives have not changed in size, nevertheless we should use the larger shiurim that were developed through textual analysis alone". Nope. This is not a recent development, just a new application of an old principle. Namely, the adherence to a previously legislated halakha, despite contemporary evidence.
      "(Again, for some reason, we are not allowed to use the smaller - accurate - shiurim that were also developed through textual analysis alone)." Not "not allowed", it's just a matter of dispute, based on halakhic methodology, which approach should be adopted. Yes, there are other shiurim which were also developed through textual analysis, - most of which, including the ones you refernced are still larger than an olive - but there are other halakhic factors to consider as well, and all things taken into account, some maintain that the halakha system calls for these opinions to be adopted. There was no secret meeting of a cabal of anachronistic nefarious rabbis who decided to outlaw the equally viable "smaller - accurate - shiur" in order inflict undue harship on the Jews. And it's not for "some reason". See below.

      (to be cont'd...)

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    14. (cont'd)
      " However, this is simply tantamount to saying we should not follow Hazal, who clearly did intend the size of an olive whenever they refer to a k'zayith." No, what it's saying is, that HALAKHICALLY we, at times, follow the rishonim even when we have a differing, and even more compelling, understanding of Chazal. The commentaries on the Shulchan Arukh are full of great poskim disagreeing with earlier authorities' understanding of Chazal, yet differing to them for practical halakha. This is for multiple reasons, including that the reason that the Gemara itself is binding and the final word on halakha is a matter of dispute - why do you think it is? - , and per the reason some propose, namely that it just due to the JP's acceptance of it, the acceptance by poskim of the rishonim's halakhic authority is similiarly binding. Some maintain that the inherent authority in the gemara is also shaped by the contours of the halakhic process.

      "One could speculate on the motives of those who believe we should not follow Hazal, but it's not really important." Really? Not important? To understand the development of halakha? To understand the philosophy of halakha? We should just discard 1400 years of post-gemara halakhic development.

      "The vast majority of Jews who use the larger Shiurim today do so because they believe that the olives that Hazal referred to were bigger than the ones they are familiar with. If presented with the clear information that (a) average olive sizes have not changed and (b) Hazal were referring to an average Israeli olive, they would simply stop." No. The vast majority of Jews who do so, do so because their Rabbis tell them to. Who, in turn, are generally knowledgable enough about the halakhic process that they wouldn't stop.

      "We don't need to worry too much about a few funny people..." I'm glad that the Chazon Ish et al can be reduced to a few funny people and abandoned in the halakhic wastebasket. "...want to continue shovelling matzah in their mouth because of some abstruse theology of theirs." Abstruse theology or halakhic fidelity?

      Finally, before discarding any opinion, read up on it. Have you read, for instance, the Chazon Ish referenced earlier where he details why precisely we adopt a larger shiur despite contemporary evidence? or is that something "We don't need to worry too much about " or "not really important"? Are you familiar with halakhic methodology that you"re comfortable enough discarding the opinion without a second glance?
      If you have a specfic issue with a specific bit of methodology, then, by all means, we can have an informed discussion about it.
      R Stefansky

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    15. Rabbi Slifkin - please don't post this - I think I submitted my comment on the wrong thread; I'm reposting it above.

      R Stefansky

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    16. (cont'd)
      " However, this is simply tantamount to saying we should not follow Hazal, who clearly did intend the size of an olive whenever they refer to a k'zayith." No, what it's saying is, that HALAKHICALLY we, at times, follow the rishonim even when we have a differing, and even more compelling, understanding of Chazal. The commentaries on the Shulchan Arukh are full of great poskim disagreeing with earlier authorities' understanding of Chazal, yet differing to them for practical halakha. This is for multiple reasons, including that the reason that the Gemara itself is binding and the final word on halakha is a matter of dispute - why do you think it is? - , and per the reason some propose, namely that it just due to the JP's acceptance of it, the acceptance by poskim of the rishonim's halakhic authority is similiarly binding. Some maintain that the inherent authority in the gemara is also shaped by the contours of the halakhic process.

      "One could speculate on the motives of those who believe we should not follow Hazal, but it's not really important." Really? Not important? To understand the development of halakha? To understand the philosophy of halakha? We should just discard 1400 years of post-gemara halakhic development.

      "The vast majority of Jews who use the larger Shiurim today do so because they believe that the olives that Hazal referred to were bigger than the ones they are familiar with. If presented with the clear information that (a) average olive sizes have not changed and (b) Hazal were referring to an average Israeli olive, they would simply stop." No. The vast majority of Jews who do so, do so because their Rabbis tell them to. Who, in turn, are generally knowledgable enough about the halakhic process that they wouldn't stop.

      "We don't need to worry too much about a few funny people..." I'm glad that the Chazon Ish et al can be reduced to a few funny people and abandoned in the halakhic wastebasket. "...want to continue shovelling matzah in their mouth because of some abstruse theology of theirs." Abstruse theology or halakhic fidelity?

      Finally, before discarding any opinion, read up on it. Have you read, for instance the Chazon Ish referenced earlier where he details why precisely we adopt a larger shiur despite contemporary evidence? or is that something "We don't need to worry too much about " or "not really important"? Are you familiar with halakhic methodology that you"re comfortable enough discarding the opinion without a second glance?
      If you have a specfic issue with a specific bit of methodology, then, by all means, we can have an informed discussion about it.
      R Stefansky

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    17. @David Ohsie
      " Meiri and others may have taken their position because they were in part secondary authorities who respected the authority of prior authorities."
      Firstly, no, that's factually not what they"re doing. Look at Meiri inside. Secondly, Meiri is the most innovative of the Rishonim when it comes to proposing novel approaches to the gemara. And, historically, he didn't do that much deferring, (except, maybe to Rambam). Thirdly, he is actually using this position to disagree with prior authorities, namely the Geonim, who adopted the empirical olive! So, nope.

      "To prove your point, you need to find an authority who independently arrived at a large shiur despite what they saw with their own eyes." Yes. Meiri. Look inside. See above. And the Sefer HaChinuch, who was a student of Rashba - and disagreed with him!
      Secondly, excuse me?! I have two Rishonim, one of whom clearly used his own analysis, and one of whom leaves us no reason to assume he didn't, and we have ample reason to assume he did. The burden of proof is on you to show how they thought themselves to be "secondary authorities" - how do you know this? and who is a primary authority? - and were secretly deferring to an unnamed authority. I'm sorry, but it is you that has to show why Meiri isn't doing exactly what he claims to be doing despite having seen an olive. You can't make baseless conjectures and expect the burden of proof to be to disprove them. It's not very rationalist.

      R Stefansky

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    18. Here is an example of what seems to be Chumrot gone wild: R Naeh says that you have to eat an extra 3.2 grams of matza to account for the amount gets stuck in your teeth!? http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=37746&st=&pgnum=14

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    19. The only direct source I know of the Chazon Ish's lenient position re the Kezayit specifically is a letter reprinted in אגרות חזו"א ח"א קצ"ד where he proposes the notion that a kezait is determined based on the contemporary olive as another approach to the issue. However in his rulings, - חזו"א או"ח מועד סי' ל"ט known as קונטרס השיעורים - he rules unequivocally in favor of the larger shiur.

      I need to look more carefully, but he mentions many times there that the shiurim fundamentally are based on what an observer can measure for himself; the only reasons for using the larger egg shiur is that

      1) There is a contradiction between the egg based on egg and that based on thumbs.
      2) He think that it is more likely that eggs have gone down in size than thumbs up in size.
      3) He thinks that the larger egg has been accepted by everyone and that the Rabbis can declare a shiur that will preempt individual measurement.

      He doesn't deal too much with the olive except to quote the M"B.

      So he doesn't really analyze the olive texts, but he does say that using contemporary measurements is actually the right way to do things and that the egg is a problem because of the contradictory contemporary measurement.

      As far as the olive goes, his 3 factors don't really apply. The Talmud doesn't equate olives directly with anything; there is no single accepted value for an olive; and we have no reason to think that olives have shrunk. So it would be perfectly consistent to say that Ikar is to use contemporary olives and his p'sak for matzah is a Chumra. I didn't seem him talk about Bracha Acharona there for example (maybe I missed it as I skimmed it pretty fast). I'll get the R Chaim Kanievsky quote soon.

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    20. R. Chaim Kanievski, in a handwritten letter reproduced on page 81 of R. Margolin's sefer, writes explicitly that the Chazon Ish paskened like R. Chaim Volozhyner (that a kezayis is the size of a contemporary olive) me'ikar hadin.

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    21. Rabbi Stenfansky:

      1) The opinion of Rabbeinu Tam is that an olive is SMALLER than 3/10 or 1/3 of an egg. This is true. The contrary opinion recorded in Tosefoth, namely that is is the size of half an egg, is false. Not only was the opinion that a kezayith is anything larger than an olive held by a tiny minority of Rishonim, for all you know it may have been held by a minority of the Tosefists.

      2) The fact is that the first authority to claim an k'zayith is anything larger than an olive never saw an olive. No-one before Tosefoth ever made such a claim and it is clear that, prior to Tosefoth, every single authority held that an olive is the size of an olive. We all know that subsequent authorities thought that the speculations of Tosefoth based on textual analysis were potentially more authoritative than the evidence of their own eyes. Your citation of the Meiri and the Hinuch only pushes the date back a bit. (Parenthetically, neither the Meiri or the Hinuch are part of the *apparata* of the halachic process you believe in). The important point is that all the authorities who follow the Ri believed that the olives referred to by Hazal were bigger than the olives with which they were familiar.
      Nowadays we know otherwise, not because of the evidence of their own eyes, but because all the evidence from modern botany and archaeology demonstrates that the average olive at the time of Hazal was 3ml. It is not anti-rationalist per se. to believe that olives were once larger. However, it is anti-rationalist to believe that olives were once larger when this is demonstrably false.

      3) Look, you and the tiny minority of contemporary Jews you represent, can have whatever zany orthoprax theology makes you happy. In the rest of the world, mainstream Rabbis tell people to eat large Shiurim because they mistakenly believe that olives used to be much larger.

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    22. " Meiri and others may have taken their position because they were in part secondary authorities who respected the authority of prior authorities."
      Firstly, no, that's factually not what they"re doing. Look at Meiri inside. Secondly, Meiri is the most innovative of the Rishonim when it comes to proposing novel approaches to the gemara. And, historically, he didn't do that much deferring, (except, maybe to Rambam). Thirdly, he is actually using this position to disagree with prior authorities, namely the Geonim, who adopted the empirical olive! So, nope.


      I'm not expert on the Meiri, but he spends a lot of his time quoting other opinions as well as giving his own. In this case, he seems to be quoting the question without attribution, although it is possible he never saw this opinion and asked the question on his own. The quoted Gaonim say nothing about the size of the olive here and they also are not taking an empirical approach; they are deducing the size of the dried fig from the text.

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    23. Here is a translation from the questions and answers to R. Chaim Kanievsky in the beginning of R. Bodner's "Halachos of K'Zayis":

      Question: What is the size of an olive according the Chazon Ish with respect to making a bracha after eating? It is known that the Chazon Ish held that eggs shrunk over time and that one must double halachic sizes in our time. The implication is that when the Chazon Ish says that the size of an olive is one third of an egg then we should double that and measure with 2/3 of an egg in our time.

      Answer: It is a tradition in our hands from the Chazon Ish that one makes a bracha after eating 1/3 of an eggs worth of food. Actually, the Chazon Ish held that "M'Ikar Hadin" we measure with an olive of our time which is less than one third of an egg. However, since there are olives in our time which reach the size of 1/3 of an egg of our time, therefore it is fitting ("Yesh") to be stringent to make a bracha after food on the volume of 1/3 of an egg of our time.

      Q: Should one be stringent like the M"B not to make a blessing until he knows that he ate half of an egg.

      A: The "Ikar" is like the Chazon Ish that one should ("Yesh") make a Berachah on one third of an egg and there is no need to be more stringent; one who is stringent will be blessed.


      So if R. Kanievsky is to be believed, then on can be stringent to make sure to eat 1/3 of an eggs worth before making a bracha after eating; however if one one was not stringent (or he didn't have any more food), then he should make a bracha after eating the size of an average olive. Surprisingly, this undermines the whole premise of the book which quotes the Chazon Ish as requiring 2/3 of the modern egg (on page 26).

      R. Bodner also seems to confuse what being "machmir" means to conclude that if one doesn't eat the large shiur that a Brachah should not be made. It is clear from the R. Kanievsky writes that being "Machmir" means that one should endeavor to eat that much to remove the "doubt" but if that if one didn't eat the larger amount a Brachah should be made. Otherwise his comment about it being meritorious to be stringent to half an egg. It can't be meritorious to simply not make a brachah.

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    24. J - Thanks for the source. I wonder how we can square it with the Chazon Ish's definitive ruling in Chazon Ish, the ruling of R. Chaim's father in שיעורין של תורה, and another letter from R. Chaim?

      R Stefansky

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    25. @David Ohsie
      Yet he does rule definitively like the Mishna Berura! Probably per what he wrote in ס"ק ו that the combination of the rulings of the Noda BiYihuda and the Vilna Gaon et al constitute a binding ruling that supercedes individual evaluation. Which is why he doesn't deal with the olive more specifically; he already covered it!

      R Stefansky

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    26. @Gavriel M
      "The opinion of Rabbeinu Tam is that an olive is SMALLER than 3/10 or 1/3 of an egg. This is true. The contrary opinion recorded in Tosefoth, namely that is is the size of half an egg, is false."
      You're right. The Achronim do understand that R. Tam is saying that it's close to 1/3 of an egg, but it's not clear in Tosafot. So OK.

      "Not only was the opinion that a kezayith is anything larger than an olive held by a tiny minority of Rishonim, for all you know it may have been held by a minority of the Tosefists."
      Not really. There were many Rishonim who ascribed to that position, among them the most prominent in psak. - R. Mordechai B. Hillel, R. Alexander Suslin HaKohen (Ha-Agudah), and R. Yisrael Isserlin (Terumat HaDeshen). It clearly gained prominence in halakha and became the normative halakha. Not to mention that we have the Sefer HaChinuch endorsing it! And v. Beit Yosef 468 who understands that it is the normative stance of Tos. Chullin 103b as well. (And it could possibly have been the intent of the sho'el Teshuvat HaGeonim (Harkavy ed.) 268.

      "(Parenthetically, neither the Meiri or the Hinuch are part of the *apparata* of the halachic process you believe in)."
      You're correct re the Sefer Hachinuch, but re Meiri it's a bit more complicated. Either way, I was only using them to show that Rishonim arrived at the conclusion even with knowledge of an olive.

      ""We all know that subsequent authorities thought that the speculations of Tosefoth based on textual analysis were potentially more authoritative than the evidence of their own eyes. Your citation of the Meiri and the Hinuch only pushes the date back a bit."
      Firstly, Meiri did his own anaylsis - see earlier comment.
      Secondly, you're probably, - not definitely - correct that "all the authorities who follow the Ri believed that the olives referred to by Hazal were bigger than the olives with which they were familiar" at least in regard to the early halakhic authorities. Nevertheless, and this is the salient point, adhering to such a shiur is still a halakhically legitimate position - not the only legitimate position, so don't construct a strawman - since the halakhic process incorporates precedence, even if the rationale for the original ruling wouldn't hold up today. Which is why " mainstream Rabbis tell people to eat large Shiurim because they mistakenly believe that olives used to be much larger" is incorrect. They don't care if it was larger. They just follow halakhic precedent based on an accepted ruling of Tosafot.
      Which, I guess is what the zany orthoprax do. (But really - zany, not sure I disagree, but orthoprax? I don't get it. Did you exhaust your ad hominem dictionary? Let me help. We're a zany antiquated obstinate bunch. Or maybe just עם קשי עורף).
      R Stefansky

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    27. I don't pretend to have the final resolution to all the potential contradictions in the Chazon Ish's and Steipler's positions. But it's worth noting that the Steipler himself, in a handwritten letter reproduced both at the end of R. Moshe Mordechai Karp's Hilchos Hechag Bechag (Pesach) and on page 83 of Hiddurei Hamidos, wrote that R. Chaim Volozhyner can be relied on me'ikar hadin. This is confirmed by the citation from Orchos Rabbeinu vol. 1 page. 89 on page 82 of Hiddurei Hamidos. See also R. Margolin's discussion of the Chazon Ish's position on pages 79 and 169-171.

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    28. @David Ohsie
      Yet he does rule definitively like the Mishna Berura! Probably per what he wrote in ס"ק ו that the combination of the rulings of the Noda BiYihuda and the Vilna Gaon et al constitute a binding ruling that supercedes individual evaluation. Which is why he doesn't deal with the olive more specifically; he already covered it!


      The problem is that earlier in section 6 he only talks about the egg and his reasoning doesn't apply to the olive. I enumerated his reasons above and they don't apply to the olive: there is no consensus, there is no alternative measure (like thumbs) and his belief that thumbs were less like to change size than eggs doesn't apply to olives. Basically all his reasoning points to the notion that we should be using olives of our time.

      In fact where he does talk about the olive, all he does is point out that the M"B is being overly stringent to require 2/3 of an egg with a shell for Pesach, not to endorse the M"B per se as Ikar Hadin as the size of an olive in halacha in general. It seems pretty easy to reconcile with his position as reported by his brother-in-law and nephew: he was writing specifically about Pesach and he was saying that even if we are machmir like the M"B because of the Chumra of Pesach, we don't need to go as big as 2/3 of an egg with shell. But if you want to know what the Ikar is, you go to the reasoning that he repeats many times which is that we go with the sizes that we find today (with the egg sizes assumed larger only because our modern measurements of thumbs gives a contradictory measure).

      Getting back to my original point, he never endorses your idea that we need to stick with those Rishonim who deduced a large olive because of precedent. Nor does he say that text based measurements take precedence over actual measurements. Finally, he endorses the idea that the general principle is to use the empirical measurements of our time.

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    29. @J: I don't pretend to have the final resolution to all the potential contradictions in the Chazon Ish's and Steipler's positions.

      I don't either, except to note that there is no real contradiction to Rav AY Karelitz himself in Chazon Ish. As I pointed out, he only mentions a large olive wrt Pesach and mainly to critique the M"B as listed too large a measure. The rest of the Chazon Ish makes clear that modern empirical measurements are Ikar.

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    30. However in his rulings, - חזו"א או"ח מועד סי' ל"ט known as קונטרס השיעורים - he rules unequivocally in favor of the larger shiur. Furthermore, he raises the notion there too, and adds that although theoretically it can be perennially contingent on the contemporary olive, it can also undergo codification of a certain size, which he maintains it has, and is therefore today halakhically a larger shiur. (I'm really summarizing a much larger more complicated piece, v. op. cit. ס"ק א - ו specifically).

      I'm repeating myself somewhat, but I think that this is mistaken. He only talks about the olive wrt to Pesach; not in general. He never applies his concept that the Rabbis can set a specific Shiur to the olive; that is the egg for the reasons that I mentioned above that don't apply to olive.

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    31. Rabbi Stefansky

      1) Not only is it not clear that according to Rabbeinu Tam that a kezayith is a 1/3 of an egg, it's clear that it is not the case. Rabbeinu Tam calculates that a dried fig is 3/10 or a 1/3 of an egg and therefore an kezayith MUST be smaller than that. Once again, Rabbeinu Tam is 100% correct. I realize that this is of no consequence to you, but for the rest of us it is a consoling thought in the midst of this depressing discussion to know that Rabbeinu Tam correctly estimated the size of an olive from textual data alone.

      2) I'm not sure what you are disputing here. Are you really denying that the vast majority of the Rishonim considered a kezayith to be the size of an olive. Do we have to make a list?

      3) The Meiri clearly was familiar with the Tosefoth in question. He certainly did not come to the position independently. The fact is that it never occurred to anyone to estimate the size of an olive based upon eggs prior to Tosefoth, who did so because they did not know what an olive was. I'm not really sure what you are disputing here.

      4) OK. You are making an empirically verifiable claim and I am making an empirically verifiable claim. I can point to one prominent Posek who, upon becoming acquainted with the pertinent facts, publicly ruled that the size of a kezayith for all halachic purposes is 3 ml: Dov Lior. I would now like you to name one contemporary Posek who states that while the average olive at the time of Hazal was 3ml, the halachic shiur for a kezayith today is nevertheless something much larger.

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    32. @David Ohsie
      I see how you're reading the Chazon Ish. I still think that taken on its own, from the סתימת הלשון in regard to Kezayit, one would surmise that this is the position he takes, i.e. lechatchila vs bedieved, - and assume it DOES fulfill the criterion of halakhic consesus, just like the egg - but if we have definitive testimony, and not just inferences, from R. Chaim and the Steipler regarding his actual position, than I guess you're right.

      R Stefansky

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    33. @Gavriel M
      1) "Not only is it not clear that according to Rabbeinu Tam that a kezayith is a 1/3 of an egg, it's clear that it is not the case."
      Read what I wrote. The achronim interpreted it to mean close to 1/3, i.e. smaller but close to. (R. Slifkin acknowledges it in his monograph.) But, either way, R. Tam himself didn't say it, and it's parenthetical to the depressing discussion.

      2) I'm not sure what you're disputing. It is clear that the accepted position of the Ashkenaz Rishonim was the halakhic shiur of a Kezayit was half an egg, i.e. larger than an olive.

      3) " The Meiri clearly was familiar with the Tosefoth in question. He certainly did not come to the position independently" He was familiar with Tosafot, bec. he knew Tosafot (the writings, not the Tosafists). I can't tell you if he originally had the same problem - he certainly presents it that way, since he doesn't quote anyone like he usually does - or if after he saw Tosafot's question, he agreed with it. And neither do you. So how do you know "He certainly did not come to the position independently"? Either way, he independently agrees with the reasoning even with knowledge of an olive. I brought Meiri to show that Rishonim arrived at the same conclusion even though they knew of an olive. If Meiri thought that the Kezayit must be the size of an actual olive, he should have written that instead.

      " The fact is that it never occurred to anyone to estimate the size of an olive based upon eggs prior to Tosefoth" Again, parenthetical to the discussion, we don't have so many writings of Rishonim prior to Tosafot that would discuss this. For all we know, it was an earlier dispute. For instance, it was possibly the intent of the sho'el in Teshuvat HaGeonim (Harkavy ed.) 268.

      R Stefansky

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    34. @Gavriel M
      4) Is the Chazon Ish prominent enough for you? He employs this principle, i.e. it doesn't matter if the prior authorities were factually wrong, and therefore it could be that olives were the same size and we nevertheless keep a larger shiur, in regard to the egg, in קונטרס השיעורים 39:6

      (Btw, some of of the Poskim I spoke to indeed didn't know, but as I wrote didn't care - which is the salient point -, bec. halakha honors precedent.
      If you want someone alive, not sure if I could help you. Most poskim/rabbis I spoke to you wouldn't know, bec. they aren't well known - they're community poskim. But if you need someone famous, how about R. Sholom Kamanetsky or R. Lopiansky. You can ask them if taking into account that olives haven't changed, is adopting a larger shiur still a legitimate position.)

      R Stefansky

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    35. Rabbo Stefansky
      1) It's not parenthetical at all. Many people are under the impression that there is a mah'loqeth among the Rishonim as to whether an a k'zayith is 1/3 or 1/2 of an egg. You yourself originally implied so. Since both such positions have no basis in reality one might think that there was nothing much to choose from between the two. However, the actual fact of the matter is that the dispute among the Rishonim is whether a k'zayith is 1/2 of an olive or less than 1/3 of an olive. Since one position has no basis in reality and the other is entirely based in reality that provides us with a very good reason to adopt the latter.

      2) Whoever disputed that? All I said is that (a) you don't know that the majority of the Tosafists held the Ri's rather than the Rabbeinu Tam's opinion and (b) the overwhelming majority of Rishonim agree with Rabbeinu Tam.

      3) And once again, it changes nothing. We all know that authorities who were familiar with an olive, nevertheless ruled that kezayith is much larger. The important point is that (a) no-one did so before the suggest of the Ri who, literally, did not have the foggiest idea what an olive was (See Pesahim 36a) and (b) they only did so because they believed that the olives they were familiar with were different to the ones Hazal had.

      4) Please answer the question. I believe this to be the most important part of the debate and if you want to avoid it then please don't respond at all.

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    36. @Gavriel M
      I answered 4) in a previous comment but it wasn't posted until now. Just to be clear though - you believe that if the process used to arrive at a psak would not hold up today i.e. they paskened such bec. they thought olives were once bigger, then the psak has no longer any legitimacy, and we can't honor precedent? And you know this based on an extensive knowledge of the history of the development of halakha and halakhic methodology. Right?
      The Dor Revii, not to mention R. Slifkin himself have written extensively about how halakha remains in effect, - at times, yes, not always - even if the original psak was based on information we now know to be incorrect. Do you have a problem with that too?

      2)And you don't know otherwise. But since Ri's stance subsequently became the accepted opinion in the Tosafist school, it is safe to assume so. (Interestingly, Beit Yosef 486 sees that it is the stance taken by Tosafot Chullin 103b as well, but it's unclear to me how he sees it).
      Overwhelming majority? Really? Please show me.
      3)Why is it important that Meiri lived after Ri? If he lived before him, he presumably would have reached the same conclusion. He wasn't from the Tosafist school. (And, once again, since we have very few writings pre-Tosafot, we're not sure if Ri was indeed the first one to propose it).

      R Stefansky

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    37. 2) Any Rishon familiar with an olive, who doesn't say that a kezayith is not the size of an olive, believed that it was the size of an olive. Therefore you can place on the list, of the top of my head, the Rambam, the Rif, the Ramban, the Tur, the Ran, the Ritva, the Ra'avad and the Ba'al haMaor + Rabbeinu Tam as well as literally every other Rishon from the Spain or North Africa. On the other side of the ledger, we have perhaps half a dozen authorities who never saw an olive and guessed wrong, plus two (if you count the Hinuch) who support your position.

      3) "Presumably", you're just making stuff up now.

      4) I read the Hazon Ish last night and I'm not 100% sure I understood correctly, but this was my reading.
      a) In principle each person in each generation can estimate the size of a given shiur that Hazal give by analogy to a physical object, by themselves referring to physical objects.
      b) A Beit Din can act as a representative of individual Jews in making this estimation, in which case their estimation is binding.
      c) The Noda B'Yhuda, the Hatam Sofer and one other authority who I can't remember right now consistuted such a Beit Din. (I admit I spluttered when I read that, and I would be happy if someone shows me I'm misreading.)
      d) Therefore their estimation is binding even if it turns out they were wrong (which the Hazon Ish doesn't think they were).

      That's a fairly quixotic argument, which is why you don't hear it much, but it's certainly not your argument, since according to the Hazon Ish a future trio of Gedolim could make a different estimation and that would then become binding. The Hazon Ish is not making your precedent based argument and this is hardly surprising given his approach to precedent in P'sak, which, if you were being honest, would lead you to accuse him of "lacking fidelity to the halachic process".

      I am not going to ask Rabbis Kamanetzy and Lopiansky, but I'm pretty sure that they would simply deny that we can know with certainty what the size of an olive used to be. To sum up you can not find a single contemporary authority willing to publicly state that the commonly used estimates for a kezayith are in error, and are not what Hazal intended, but we must follow this error because it has been canonised in the halachic process. There's a good reason you can't find anyone who will say this: because it's orthopraxy.

      As to your other question I believe the following:
      וכן אם למד אחד מן הגאונים שדרך המשפט כך הוא, ונתבאר לבית דין אחר שעמד אחריו שאין זה דרך המשפט הכתוב בתלמוד--אין שומעין לראשון, אלא למי שהדעת נוטה לדבריו, בין ראשון, בין אחרון.

      But of course, according to you, the Rambam just didn't understand the halachic process, and nor did the Gra, or the Hazon Ish, or the Ya'abess, or the Bah, or (for what it's worth) the Ba'al haTanya, or, perhaps, anyone except for some anonymous RWMO community Rabbis who busy themselves creating postmodern defenses of the indefensible.

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    38. 4) Is the Chazon Ish prominent enough for you? He employs this principle, i.e. it doesn't matter if the prior authorities were factually wrong, and therefore it could be that olives were the same size and we nevertheless keep a larger shiur, in regard to the egg, in קונטרס השיעורים 39:6

      R. Stefansky, the Chazon Ish is quite inconsistent with your theory of P'sak, at least with respect to Shiurim. Let's set aside the olive and consider the egg for a moment. In section six, he deal with an obvious question: how could the N"B and others double the shiur of Challah from what was previously accepted. One of his answers is that, wrt to Shiurim, each generation can set its own standard and that this was the way that Shiurim are designed in the Torah system. The N"B and others are not authorities who we accept even if they are mistaken as to the size. Rather they are the authorities currently accepted in our days (in his opinion) who decided to overrule the previously accepted size based on their understanding of the true size of an egg based on the thumb standard.

      Moreover, one of the reasons given in section 5 for accepting the thumb standard over the egg standard is that he thinks it more likely that the egg size has changed than that thumb sizes have changed.

      So with respect to eggs, he feels that

      1) Egg sizes have likely changed.
      2) Currently accepted authorities can override the prior authorities on the subject of standardizing Shiurim.

      Neither of these position of the Chazon Ish support your theory.

      Wrt to olives, if we accept his nephew, then he accepted the larger 1/3 of an egg olive only L'Chumrah and then only because he felt that there are olives of that size in our day so that we could not rule them out as the true olive size referred to in the Talmud. This again doesn't support your theory.



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    39. Btw, some of of the Poskim I spoke to indeed didn't know, but as I wrote didn't care - which is the salient point -, bec. halakha honors precedent.

      This could also mean: "I don't care what the Chokrim say; I follow the Chazon Ish. If he said that egg sizes changed, then they changed." No disrespect intended towards the poskim that you talked to, but if they really "didn't care", then they are not independent authorities to be paid attention to, at least on this subject. Any posek who was really coming to his or her own judgement on the subject would want to know the facts about olives, even if they ultimately decided to follow "precedent", especially given the fact that there are two precedents to choose from here.

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    40. The Dor Revii, not to mention R. Slifkin himself have written extensively about how halakha remains in effect, - at times, yes, not always - even if the original psak was based on information we now know to be incorrect.

      From memory, the Dor Revii doesn't say that. What he says is that once things are "written" then they have the value of precedence even if mistaken (and I think that "written in Talmud" is different from "written in Rishonim", IIRC). In this case, we have contradictory written statements from different Rishonim, so I don't see how the Dor Revii makes a difference here.

      In any case, did the Chazon Ish and other Charedi authorities accept the Dor Revii? I think that their position would lean to "nature changed" or "modern science is wrong" and a rejection of the Dor Revii in general (although Chazon Ish admits that Chazal didn't know modern medicine). This is bourne out by the worms in fish controversy.

      Delete
    41. 2) I'm not sure what you're disputing. It is clear that the accepted position of the Ashkenaz Rishonim was the halakhic shiur of a Kezayit was half an egg, i.e. larger than an olive.

      But they didn't know that! You can't bring any evidence from those who didn't know the size of an olive to say that they held that KZayis is greater than the volume of an olive. Why couldn't they have done what various authorities have done in modern times and revisited the issue once they saw the olive?

      Delete
    42. 4) I read the Hazon Ish last night and I'm not 100% sure I understood correctly, but this was my reading.
      a) In principle each person in each generation can estimate the size of a given shiur that Hazal give by analogy to a physical object, by themselves referring to physical objects.
      b) A Beit Din can act as a representative of individual Jews in making this estimation, in which case their estimation is binding.
      c) The Noda B'Yhuda, the Hatam Sofer and one other authority who I can't remember right now consistuted such a Beit Din. (I admit I spluttered when I read that, and I would be happy if someone shows me I'm misreading.)
      d) Therefore their estimation is binding even if it turns out they were wrong (which the Hazon Ish doesn't think they were).


      @Gavriel M:

      To strengthen your point, I don't think that the Chazon Ish is saying that they are binding even if they were wrong. In fact, quite the opposite. He is saying that the generation before the N"B was right in their estimate of the egg, and nevertheless the N"B can change double estimate based on his own judgement and this judgement is binding on the people because the authorities can override individual judgement (who you accept as your authority is a different question). The point of him quoting the anonymous Gaon was that it is no problem if the shiurim change over time as our judgement changes as this was the design of the system to work autonomously as we moved from country to country in the diaspora.

      So it is not that the N"B is accepted even though he contradicts the usual egg. He is accepted because there is a conflict between egg and thumb based measurements and he accepted the thumb as more authoritative and can bind his community. If another authority disputed the prior ones and said that we should use the usual egg and was accepted, then this would be OK too.

      Delete
    43. @Gavriel M

      (Btw, I was in a supermarket today buying food for Shabbat, and in front of me in line was an older lady trying to convince a younger man to go in front her. After much back and forth, he finally agreed, and the lady turned to me and said: "Everything's a debate in Jewish tradition".)

      2)"Any Rishon familiar with an olive, who doesn't say that a kezayith is not the size of an olive, believed that it was the size of an olive." You don't know that. Meiri didn't address the issue the first time the word Kezayit came up, and write "By the way, even though the gemara uses the word Kezayit, it means something else". He only addressed it when it was particularly relevant to a specific Gemara. Wrt to the remainder of the Rishonim who didn't write commentaries on every masekhta, we can't be sure if they would have agreed with Meiri or not. In fact, wrt Rishonim who do deal with the issue, I believe most of them agree with Meiri.
      I also don't know why you denigrate all the Ashkenazi Rishonim as " perhaps half a dozen authorities". In fact, and you seem to be overlooking this, this opinion later became the norm even in Spain. (See R. Slifkin's monograph).
      3) "Presumably", you're just making stuff up now. Hmmm, so you think that had Meiri lived in the 11th century instead of the 13th century, his logic would have, for some undisclosed reason, changed. Would his question, which led to his subsequent conclusion, which he clearly held of, not have bothered him? In fact, I think "presumably" is too weak of a term. I'd say "almost definitely".

      Before continuing, I'm going to be very clear what my position is, so you know what you're supposed to dislike. If a halakhic opinion has gained a certain amount of mainstream acceptance, and being accepted by all Ashkenazi Rishonim for hundreds of years and being cited in the Shulchan Arukh certainly qualifies, then even if the methods used to arrive at said psak would no longer be viable today, if at the time, the methods were viable, the psak still has legitimacy. (Not that it is the only legitimate opinion, I myself don't instruct people to use such large shiurim, but it nevertheless is a viable opinion). This is what I mean by precedent.
      "since according to the Hazon Ish a future trio of Gedolim could make a different estimation and that would then become binding"
      I never implied this wouldn't be the case. They'd just have to meet the same criteria.
      I can't believe I forgot to mention this, but we have the Beit Yosef, who was born in Spain and lived in Israel and knew what an olive was, and yet cites Tosafot unqualifiedly, without questioning the fact that olives are demonstrably smaller - because that's the way halakha functions!

      "I am not going to ask Rabbis Kamanetzy and Lopiansky, but I'm pretty sure that they would simply deny that we can know with certainty what the size of an olive used to be"
      I have spoken to them and both agreed that even if we could produce irrevocable proof that olives were not bigger, this position would still have legitimacy. Nice try.

      "some anonymous RWMO community Rabbis"
      Fine, I'll give you a name. R. Krupenia, one of the most respected poskim in Lakewood maintains that we follow precedent - if it has reached a certain level of consensus - even if we have empirical evidence contradicting its basis. And, do you really think that all of the YU Roshei Yeshiva, such as R. Willig, who also pasken this way, are unaware of this fact?

      (cont'd)
      R Stefansky

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    44. @Gavriel M
      (cont'd)
      "To sum up you can not find a single contemporary authority willing to publicly state that the commonly used estimates for a kezayith are in error, and are not what Hazal intended, but we must follow this error because it has been canonised in the halachic process. There's a good reason you can't find anyone who will say this: because it's orthopraxy."
      So... this is your argument. The poskim I know don't publicize their opinions on the internet. Aha.

      "וכן אם למד אחד מן הגאונים שדרך המשפט כך הוא, ונתבאר לבית דין אחר שעמד אחריו שאין זה דרך המשפט הכתוב בתלמוד--אין שומעין לראשון, אלא למי שהדעת נוטה לדבריו, בין ראשון, בין אחרון."
      True. But in the post-Rishonim era, many poskim, instead of just dealing with the gemara directly, gave credence to the psak of the Rishonim. Which is probably the rationale of the Beit Yosef I cited.

      "But of course, according to you, the Rambam just didn't understand the halachic process, and nor did the Gra, or the Hazon Ish, or the Ya'abess, or the Bah, or (for what it's worth) the Ba'al haTanya," Very nice. A small list of great Torah scholars. Where they dispute what I wrote, I don't know.

      R Stefansky

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    45. @David Ohsie
      "This could also mean: "I don't care what the Chokrim say; I follow the Chazon Ish. If he said that egg sizes changed, then they changed." No disrespect intended towards the poskim that you talked to, but if they really "didn't care", then they are not independent authorities to be paid attention to, at least on this subject. Any posek who was really coming to his or her own judgement on the subject would want to know the facts about olives, even if they ultimately decided to follow "precedent", especially given the fact that there are two precedents to choose from here."
      Sorry, I should have been clearer. They "cared", only in respect to the legitimacy of the position they said it doesn't matter if indeed olive sizes never changed, since it has become an accepted opinion. And, yes, no one I spoke didn't acknowledge that there is another precedent as well.

      R Stefansky

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    46. @David Ohsie
      "Neither of these position of the Chazon Ish support your theory."
      Neither of those points, yes. But I was referring to when he writes that the psak of the Noda B'Yehuda et al is binding since it has become accepted, even if it was based on incorrect information.

      R Stefansky

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    47. @David Ohsie
      "But they didn't know that! You can't bring any evidence from those who didn't know the size of an olive to say that they held that KZayis is greater than the volume of an olive. Why couldn't they have done what various authorities have done in modern times and revisited the issue once they saw the olive?"

      I apologize again. I don't think I wrote clearly enough. I just meant that the shiur they reached was, factually, bigger than an olive. Not that they knew it was.
      There are two different arguments I was having.
      A) This crazy notion of legal precedent.
      B) I was disputing Gavriel M's claim that a larger shiur for a kezayit was a minority view among the Rishonim.
      With "2)" I wasn't trying to bring evidence that they believed it was larger than an actual olive. For that I have Meiri and Sefer HaChinuch. I was disputing Gavriel M's claim.

      R Stefansky

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    48. @David Ohsie
      "To strengthen your point, I don't think that the Chazon Ish is saying that they are binding even if they were wrong. In fact, quite the opposite. "
      Huh? He clearly says that it is binding even though it may have been incorrectly measured.
      "He is saying that the generation before the N"B was right in their estimate of the egg, and nevertheless the N"B can change double estimate based on his own judgement and this judgement is binding on the people because the authorities can override individual judgement (who you accept as your authority is a different question). "
      And then he says that it is binding even though it may be incorrectly measured. Even R. Slifkin on pg. 18 of his monograph acknowledged this.

      R Stefansky

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    49. I just found this, from R. Dov Linzer, relating to the discussion below about the חמשת מיני דגן:

      "This conclusion actually reflects the basic way that halakha operates. While new information can be integrated and can lead to reassessment, nevertheless, there is a canonization process of certain works (e.g., the Babylonian Talmud) and certain interpretations (e.g., those of the Rishonim), which weigh the most heavily in halakha. In the end, the halakhic truth may diverge from the historical or scientific truth. Nevertheless, halakha is what books, authorities, and interpretations have been accepted as binding by the Jewish people committed to halakha."
      He is more to the left than my "anonymous RWMO poskim", but would you consider him an authority?

      He concludes:"In closing, it is interesting to compare the methodological issues raised here with those raised in our recent post on my daf blog on the prohibition of chadash. There, too, an objective analysis of the sources would lead to the conclusion that chadash is forbidden out of the Land of Israel and that we have to be scrupulous about it even today. Nevertheless, because it had been the practice for hundreds of years in Ashkenaz to not attend to the concerns of chadash, the poskim found various ways to justify the practice. There, as well as here, how halakha is lived, and the lived traditions around halakha, have ultimately more weight than the most technically accurate read of the sources."

      Do you eat chadash?

      R Stefansky

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    50. Neither of those points, yes. But I was referring to when he writes that the psak of the Noda B'Yehuda et al is binding since it has become accepted, even if it was based on incorrect information.

      "To strengthen your point, I don't think that the Chazon Ish is saying that they are binding even if they were wrong. In fact, quite the opposite. "
      Huh? He clearly says that it is binding even though it may have been incorrectly measured.


      @Rabbi Stefansky: IMO, you are misreading the Chazon Ish. I think that you are misconstruing (and reversing the meaning of) the following statement of Chazon Ish:

      "The concepts of 'correct and incorrect' are not relevant here because it [measurement] was given over to the contemporary observation [Daato Shel Haroeh] which [in this case] is the Court of the greats of the generation that establish it [the measurement]. Whatever appears to them [to be the correct measurement] is the truth and this the required measure according to halacha."

      What is he saying here is the precise opposite of your interpretation. In section 5 he mentions that there are two ways to calculate volume (thumbs and eggs) and that the N"B and others noticed that they were different. They resolved this by using the thumb measure and doubling the contemporary egg.

      His question is section six is how to reconcile this with the practice of the previous generation who used the contemporary egg. Were they sinning and if so, doesn't that meant that Chazal, by giving two methods of measurement, left a stumbling block for future generations?

      His answer is that the generations prior to the N"B were correct in using the measurement available to them and they would have been correct to do so even if they thought that the eggs had shrunk. And then N"B and others were free to ignore the precedent of the prior generation and establish the measure based on thumbs which is twice the prior measure.

      Thus his sentence about "correct and incorrect" not mattering means the following: we don't need to try to figure out what Moshe Rabbeinu's Challah measurement was or what his egg or thumb size is. We only need to follow the measures available to us by our observation. Thus we are free to ignore precedent and set up the measures based on whatever we find today. If that was not the case, and we were trying to continue whatever measurement that came before, the the N"B could not just redo the measurements and change things. He would have to consider the precedent as the most accurate tradition on what came before if that is what he was trying to capture. The fact that contemporary observation and not what Moshe Rabbeinu did (and therefore not precedent) is what counts for measurements is what allowed N"B to make the change.

      This also explains why the Chazon Ish quotes at length the anonymous Gaon who justifies using whatever contemporary measure is available. According to your interpretation, the anonymous Gaon is in contradiction to the Chazon Ish's position: we can't remeasure in each time and place; we would have to go with precedent. The correct interpretation means that the Gaon is supporting the Chazon Ish. The size of measures may change based on time and place and this is OK because that is how measures were designed to work. Thus, with respect to Shirium, precedent is less important than with respect to other areas of the Torah.

      Delete
    51. @R. Stefansky:

      1) While I don't agree with the attempt to consider OO to be non-Orthodox. I'm not OO, and if I'm not mistaken, Gavriel M is probably strongly opposed to them based what I understand of his Ur-Judaism position. This is not a left-right issue. It has to do with what make sense.

      2) I personally agree 100% with what Rabbi Linzer says here. Many others have said the same thing.

      3) What R Linzer is saying actually supports the notion that Judaism ignores precedent and changes in response to current conditions.

      4) The result is as follows: if one are arguing to use a current day olive only because that was the olive of Moshe Rabbeinu disregarding everything that happened since then, then you are correct that this is a poor argument.

      5) If on the other hand, one says that it is illegitimate to re-evaluate the shiurim based on present day measurements, needs, and what we know about the history of this halachal, then this is also wrong. It is inconsistent even (actually, especially) with position of the Chazon Ish.

      Delete
    52. Since your response is contained in many posts, I will try to answer your discrete questions properly before stating what my objection is to your position.

      1) No, I do not consider R. Dov Linzer to be any kind of authority, though I think he is very learned and intelligent.
      2) No, I do not eat Hadash, nor did I do so when I lived in England.
      It wasn't all that hard. "Kedassiah" do not give certification to products with Hadash חו''ל and they also produce a list of non-certified products that they have checked are free. I bought my pasta and Shredded Wheat around Rosh Hashannah time and worked my way through until Pesah. In other places, I realise, it's a lot more burdensome to be makpid.
      3) You have made a number of claims about what the halachic process is and claimed that other people *don't understand* or lack *fidelity* to it. I am simply pointing out that many Torah giants of recent generations had a halachic method totally different from what you advocate. I don't deny that your version of the halachic process has no basis, I simply assert that it is not the only one possible as a point of historical fact.
      4) I take your point that one cannot say that every Rishon who mentions a kezayit without saying anything more, and recognized olives, cannot be taken with absolute certainty to have believed a kezayit was ke-zayit (so to speak). However, I think there is obviously a very strong presumption that they did. Further, it is often possible to infer their position. For example the Rambam states that a kemissah is invalid if it does not contain two kezeitim, meaning an kezayit cannot be any larger than an olive.

      5) I think it is very reasonable to assume that if the Meiri did not have the precedent of the Ri and others stating a kezayit was half an egg, that he would not have arrived at the position by independently comparing two unconnected Gemaras. You think he still would have. Neither of us can prove anything, but I can certainly state that there is no record of anyone else having done so. Anyway, it's not important because, as you say, the Beit Yosef himself semi-endorses the Ri's view (see MB on what יש אומרים implies and the related discussion on the need for 600,000 for a reshut harabim). The citation of the Meiri is held up as some sort of trump card by crazy kezayit defenders, but - once again - it only pushes back the date at which authorities started accepting the position that olives had shrunk (or were different sizes in different places) and that estimates had to be made from the Gemara instead.

      Delete
    53. More broadly, I again repeat my central contention. You cannot produce a single example of a prominent Rabbi who has stated in a Teshuvah or recorded Shiur that while there is no reasonable doubt that the kezayit talked about by Hazal was 3ml, we must nevertheless use a larger Shiur based on error since this has been canonised through the halachic process.

      What you can find (and if you can't I'll show you) is the following:
      i) We must use these Shiurim because the Gedolim say so.
      ii) We must use these Shiurim because there is reasonable cause for doubt and ספק דאוריתה לחומרה and/or םפק ברכה לקולה.

      But you cannot bring yourself to make the first argument (though you have tried to fudge the issue and quote the Hazon Ish saying it in support of your own) and you know that there is no reasonable doubt. So you fling around jargon like "apparata" to wow us and try to construct an argument to salve your conscience. The reality though is quite simple.

      1) The leaders of Orthodox Jewry, on the whole, believe that olives used to be much larger than they are today. Some do so because, to be frank, their secular education didn't extend past primary school (at best) and they lack the wherewithal to assess the relevant data. Some do so because they are fanatics who believe science is some evil con to test our faith.
      2) Educational materials, including those aimed at the wider Orthodox audience (such as Artscroll) plainly teach that olives used to be bigger.
      3) The majority of orthodox Jews believe this. Many of them for the same reasons as their leaders and many because they have simply not looked into the issue. (I myself once believed something along these lines).
      4) There are many educated orthodox Jews who know perfectly well that this is all entirely false.
      5) Those who have bravery and emunah, like Rav Dov Lior, say so.
      6) Those who cannot bring themselves to throw off the yoke of the Haredi are stuck. They cannot go against the practice of that world, but they cannot justify it. Therefore they resort to mental gymnastics, of which your efforts are one example.

      The worst part is that you have to convince yourself that this is *real* reason why the Haredi world used larger Shiurim when they keep telling you that this is not the case. (Rabbi Slifkin has wrote on this phenomenon in parallel cases). Your subservience to the dead-end Haredi world not only stops you from having an honest relationship with your creator, it stops you having an honest relationship with yourself.

      This is sad because your intellectual abilities would doubtless be of great service to the Jewish people, were you to put them to better use.

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    54. @Gavriel M and David Ohsie,
      Firstly, let me reiterate that I never said that changing the kezayit shiur based on findings that olives were always the same size is not a legitimate position. I was always arguing that, even considering that fact, a larger shiur is ALSO a legitimate position. I didn't like, what I felt was, disrespect to a legitimate halakhic position. I myself do not instruct people to use the larger shiur.
      Therefore statements such as: "If on the other hand, one says that it is illegitimate to re-evaluate the shiurim based on present day measurements, needs, and what we know about the history of this halachal, then this is also wrong. It is inconsistent even (actually, especially) with position of the Chazon Ish." are irrelevant to the discussion.
      And if, Gavriel M, you believe that, ". I don't deny that your version of the halachic process has no basis, I simply assert that it is not the only one possible as a point of historical fact."
      Then we are in no disagreement, and ignore everything else below. (Although at this point you may wish to do that regardless).
      R Stefansky

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    55. Gavriel M -
      I agree with all six of your points. However, that is not the issue here - the issue is what would the charedi leaders do IF presented with incontrovertible evidence that olives never shrunk, since we are - at least I am - arguing about the halakha in a case where we do have such evidence, the question at hand is what would they pasken with such knowledge, not how scientifically knowledgable they are currently.
      So, yes, the majority of the Charedi world probably eats a larger shiur based on a mistaken belief, nevertheless it is still a halakhically legitimate position. And therefore "The worst part is that you have to convince yourself that this is *real* reason why the Haredi world used larger Shiurim when they keep telling you that this is not the case. (Rabbi Slifkin has wrote on this phenomenon in parallel cases). Your subservience to the dead-end Haredi world not only stops you from having an honest relationship with your creator, it stops you having an honest relationship with yourself." is incorrect.
      (If you thought I was making the argument that this is indeed the rationale of most charedi poskim, then again we are in no disagreement).

      And as for your central contention " You cannot produce a single example of a prominent Rabbi who has stated in a Teshuvah or recorded Shiur that while there is no reasonable doubt that the kezayit talked about by Hazal was 3ml, we must nevertheless use a larger Shiur based on error since this has been canonised through the halachic process."
      If you choose to stubbornly believe that since their opinions are not publicized they do not exist, I can't help you. Obviously, I should tell the rabbis I mentioned that they must start doing so.

      I'm also not sure how you deal with the Beit Yosef's citation of the psak - btw in Beit Yosef he cites it with more definitiveness - since acc. to you he should have raised the issue that olives are indeed smaller. And do you think the YU Roshei Yeshiva are unaware of this fact?
      All in all, I'm a bit confused about your position, do you think such a view has NO legitimacy? After all, you wrote "I don't deny that your version of the halachic process has no basis, I simply assert that it is not the only one possible as a point of historical fact " which seems to indicate we're in agreement.

      Finally, if those Rabbis weren't enough, let me tell you a story I have first hand knowledge of. A rav went to R Elyashiv and presented him with incontrovertible evidence that the original nikkud of mashiv haruach was geshem. R Elyashiv agreed he was correct, yet instructed him to say Gashem, since it has become accepted and has precedent. Which is exactly the point I was making. - once again I am not de-legitimizing the opposing position, I myself say geshem, but it shows that great poskim ascribe to such a methodology.
      R Stefansky

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    56. @david Ohsie
      " What R Linzer is saying actually supports the notion that Judaism ignores precedent and changes in response to current conditions."
      Huh? He says that " certain interpretations (e.g., those of the Rishonim), which weigh the most heavily in halakha. In the end, the halakhic truth may diverge from the historical or scientific truth. Nevertheless, halakha is what books, authorities, and interpretations have been accepted as binding by the Jewish people committed to halakha "
      That's what I said. Btw, I also don’t consider him an authority, I was just curious if you did.
      “4) The result is as follows: if one are arguing to use a current day olive only because that was the olive of Moshe Rabbeinu disregarding everything that happened since then, then you are correct that this is a poor argument.
      5) If on the other hand, one says that it is illegitimate to re-evaluate the shiurim based on present day measurements, needs, and what we know about the history of this halachal, then this is also wrong. It is inconsistent even (actually, especially) with position of the Chazon Ish..”
      As I wrote I never said that it is illegitimate to change halakha, only that keeping it the same is also legitimate. So please stop constructing strawmen. I never said a smaller shiur is illegitimate. I said a larger shiur, since it gained mainstream acceptance, is ALSO legitimate.
      Ill respond shortly re the Chazon Ish

      R Stefansky

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    57. @R Stefansky:

      I would also consider the following counterargument: despite what the Chazon Ish says about Challah, it is hard to believe that people ever consumed the amount of matzah required by the charts until recent times (and in fact the Chazon Ish never asserts that a large zayis shiur was accepted universally).

      To bring out one odd implication of the large measures, the larger matza shiur makes it basically impossible to consume the full piece in one act of eating. A neighborhood Rabbi suggested that it could be done by chewing and then drinking water until the entire piece was chewed up and then swallowed. I have to think that this is nonsense on stilts and is actually evidence for the correctness of a smaller shiur.

      The bare fact that certain sizes are cited in the Shulchan Aruch is not sufficient evidence that they were ever observed in practice, especially in the era before precision measurement was done in the home (this form of argument is actually cited by Chazon Ish in section 6 for his own purposes).

      So, I don't think that the premise of the precedent argument is particularly strong to start with. More likely the precedent is evidence that the large Zayis is too large.

      Delete
    58. As I wrote I never said that it is illegitimate to change halakha, only that keeping it the same is also legitimate. So please stop constructing strawmen.

      I understand that we are arguing the limits and sources of the "precedent" theory and not it's existence. Whenever I say "illegitimate" I mean "illegitimate in the context of the precedent theory being considered".

      Delete
    59. And as for your central contention " You cannot produce a single example of a prominent Rabbi who has stated in a Teshuvah or recorded Shiur that while there is no reasonable doubt that the kezayit talked about by Hazal was 3ml, we must nevertheless use a larger Shiur based on error since this has been canonised through the halachic process."
      If you choose to stubbornly believe that since their opinions are not publicized they do not exist, I can't help you. Obviously, I should tell the rabbis I mentioned that they must start doing so.


      I don't think that this is accidental. Also, I think that you are possibly confusing two things: submission to precedent vs. submission to "greater authorities". Are they saying "the olive is really the right size, but we submit to the precedent" or "the olive is the right size, but we submit to what everyone else does". The fact that they don't publish pushes us to the latter theory.

      Delete
    60. Finally, if those Rabbis weren't enough, let me tell you a story I have first hand knowledge of. A rav went to R Elyashiv and presented him with incontrovertible evidence that the original nikkud of mashiv haruach was geshem. R Elyashiv agreed he was correct, yet instructed him to say Gashem, since it has become accepted and has precedent. Which is exactly the point I was making. - once again I am not de-legitimizing the opposing position, I myself say geshem, but it shows that great poskim ascribe to such a methodology.

      Not the best example. Probably both are completely legitimate and it is a matter of preference. And language evolves over time; we don't pray in biblical Hebrew. Plus you have the desire for everyone to be saying the same prayer.

      Delete
    61. Ill respond shortly re the Chazon Ish

      That is actually the part I'm most interested in. Deciphering his position is interesting to me.

      Delete
    62. " What R Linzer is saying actually supports the notion that Judaism ignores precedent and changes in response to current conditions."
      Huh? He says that " certain interpretations (e.g., those of the Rishonim), which weigh the most heavily in halakha. In the end, the halakhic truth may diverge from the historical or scientific truth. Nevertheless, halakha is what books, authorities, and interpretations have been accepted as binding by the Jewish people committed to halakha "


      Allow me to explain further. When Chadash was disregarded outside of E"Y when the sources say otherwise, and then justified by the Poskim, this itself was a break from the legal precedent. What the Poskim who justified did was to justify ignoring the precedent in favor of a practice that was practical and possibly necessary at the time. So this shows that precedent can actually be ignored in the face the practice of the people. With regard to the olive, I don't think that the practice was to use such a large olive despite what was written by the poskim. So in this case, the argument would cut in favor of a smaller Shiur.

      Delete
    63. Regarding geshem versus gashem it's not a good example for the following reasons.

      1) Ashkenazism (and Sephardim as it happens) pronounce both the segol and the qamass incorrectly, so even if they get it "right" they're still doing it wrong.
      2) There were three vocalization systems in use in the ancient world. The Israeli one had no equivalent of a qamass and the Babylonian did not distinguish between a segol and a ssere. Since the Masoretic system did not become prevalent until long after the nusah of מוריד הגשם was established, it is literally meaningless to ask whether the original nusah was with a segol or a qammass.
      3) As I understand it, a case can be made for both a segol and a qamass being correct according to the rules of the Masoretic system.
      4) You clearly fufill your obligation either way, even if you do it wrong (otherwise we'd be in really big trouble).

      This would therefore seem to me one of the cases where precedent has a good claim to authority.

      I hope to respond to the rest later. Hag Sameah.

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    64. @Gavriel M
      Nice try, but you completely missed the point. We're not trying to decipher a terse statement from a Rishon re geshem, nor are we dealing with an entirely theoretical issue. I was pointing out R Elyashiv's halakhic methodology. R Elyahiv spelled out his rationale clearly to the Rav. He said something akin to "halakha follows the mesora your rov told you". In fact he held that saying geshem is entirely incorrect! He didn't claim that here it's not really such an issue anyway because of the issues of an original vocalization you quite eruditely raised. He made a general statement about halakha.

      R Stefansky

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    65. @David Ohsie
      "Allow me to explain further. When Chadash was disregarded outside of E"Y when the sources say otherwise, and then justified by the Poskim, this itself was a break from the legal precedent. What the Poskim who justified did was to justify ignoring the precedent in favor of a practice that was practical and possibly necessary at the time. So this shows that precedent can actually be ignored in the face the practice of the people. With regard to the olive, I don't think that the practice was to use such a large olive despite what was written by the poskim. So in this case, the argument would cut in favor of a smaller Shiur." You still disregarded where he clearly writes earlier like I said. But either way it's immaterial since neither of us consider him an authority. Although hopefully it'll satisfy Gavriel M's odd desire for someone to publicize such an opinion.

      More importantly, instead of talking to the point I am making - that precedent CAN overrule historical fact - you once again constructed a strawman argument to show that there is legitimacy in ignoring it, something I never disputed. I, once again, claim that both are legitimate, so demonstrating that at tines it has been ignored is immaterial.

      R Stefansky

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    66. @David Ohsie
      (I'm very sorry about the Chazon Ish, I've been very busy lately, I'll comment re that asap).
      "I would also consider the following counterargument: despite what the Chazon Ish says about Challah, it is hard to believe that people ever consumed the amount of matzah required by the charts until recent times (and in fact the Chazon Ish never asserts that a large zayis shiur was accepted universally).

      To bring out one odd implication of the large measures, the larger matza shiur makes it basically impossible to consume the full piece in one act of eating. A neighborhood Rabbi suggested that it could be done by chewing and then drinking water until the entire piece was chewed up and then swallowed. I have to think that this is nonsense on stilts and is actually evidence for the correctness of a smaller shiur."

      Firstly, we have testimony from all the Ashkenazi rishonim that the accepted halakha was a Kezayit is half an egg, not to mention evidence that it had some following in sefard as well. (sefer hachinuch). This, together with the fact that Beit Yosef cites it would lead me to believe that even taking your objections into account, we have sufficient historical evidence to support it.
      Anyway, your objections aren't really a problem. Current matza charts usually use a doubled egg size; the historically accepted half-an-egg shiur wouldn't be of a Chazon Ish of NB sized egg, rather half an ancient 40cc egg, which could easily be eaten in כדי אכילת פרס, which of course also wasn't the tiny brisker shiur.

      "The bare fact that certain sizes are cited in the Shulchan Aruch is not sufficient evidence that they were ever observed in practice"
      Yes, it is. (v. the monograph of a certain historian of jewish intellectual history).
      R Stefansky

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    67. @David Ohsie
      Finally... the Chazon Ish.
      I read section five and section six more or less, like you. And yes, he does allow us to ignore precedent, which once again, I never disputed. Interestingly, your inference that " If that was not the case, and we were trying to continue whatever measurement that came before, the the N"B could not just redo the measurements and change things. He would have to consider the precedent as the most accurate tradition on what came before if that is what he was trying to capture." means that the Chazon Ish was implicitly endorsing precedent other places, although we're not arguing about this. Although it does raise the question: does that mean that if the halakhot of shiurim were did have this contemporary contingency, if at the time of the NB the accepted shiur did not conform to reality, he would still be bound by it - something very similar my argument.
      And, yes, his citation of the Gaon is to lend legitimacy to comtemporary sizes throughout history.
      I was attempting to prove my point an element of his argument that you skipped over - מיהו אחרי שנקבעה הלכה ע"פ הנו"ב וכו' ונתפשטה הוראה הוי כאילו קבעו ב"ד לכל ישראל לפי ראות הב"ד, after this he writes that the concepts of correct and incorrect are inapplicable - which you translated. In other words, first he assumes that a psak of certain number of authorities coupled with a certain acceptance becomes binding on all Jews. Then he shows that the psak itself conformed to internal halakhic principles. I was calling the first part "precedent", and inferring that other places as well, if internal halakhic principles have been followed, precedent holds up. But you're right that it's not a complete support since here the issue of the earlier authorities making a mistake is not entirely analogous to other cases, since here he reasons that there is a concept of ניתן לדעת הרואה.

      Nevertheless, taking the Chazon Ish's argument on its own, it certainly provides a rational basis for a larger shiur.

      R Stefansky

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    68. I was attempting to prove my point an element of his argument that you skipped over - מיהו אחרי שנקבעה הלכה ע"פ הנו"ב וכו' ונתפשטה הוראה הוי כאילו קבעו ב"ד לכל ישראל לפי ראות הב"ד, after this he writes that the concepts of correct and incorrect are inapplicable - which you translated. In other words, first he assumes that a psak of certain number of authorities coupled with a certain acceptance becomes binding on all Jews.

      He is not speaking here of precedent at all. He is referring to what he said earlier, which is that Shiurim are based on estimates, but that the Rabbis have the power to establish standards for measurement (e.g. saying that Agori olive is medium sized). Again, he says that the "standard" established by N"B, GR"A and others may have been a change from the prior standard, but that change is OK. The implication is that if current authorities want to change things, they could. You right that perhaps in other areas, he would consider precedent to be a stronger factor, but in the case of Shiurim, the Chazon Ish does not mention it. In fact, he explains that it is precedent is specifically not be followed, as I've explained.

      Nevertheless, taking the Chazon Ish's argument on its own, it certainly provides a rational basis for a larger shiur.

      On the contrary, it provides the basis for using a regular sized olive which according to testimony from his family, he held was the Ikar.

      Delete
    69. We're not trying to decipher a terse statement from a Rishon re geshem, nor are we dealing with an entirely theoretical issue. I was pointing out R Elyashiv's halakhic methodology. R Elyahiv spelled out his rationale clearly to the Rav. He said something akin to "halakha follows the mesora your rov told you". In fact he held that saying geshem is entirely incorrect!

      We would need to see that in writing from Rav Elyashiv himself. From the story that you mentioned, he could simply have been pushing him off with a reed in a polite way. Also, it is clear that both are "correct" in that they mean the same thing so "incorrect" is unlikely to have been what was meant. E.g. would he say that you need to repeat if you say it "wrong"? Of course not!

      Delete
    70. Firstly, we have testimony from all the Ashkenazi rishonim that the accepted halakha was a Kezayit is half an egg, not to mention evidence that it had some following in sefard as well. (sefer hachinuch). This, together with the fact that Beit Yosef cites it would lead me to believe that even taking your objections into account, we have sufficient historical evidence to support it.
      Anyway, your objections aren't really a problem. Current matza charts usually use a doubled egg size; the historically accepted half-an-egg shiur wouldn't be of a Chazon Ish of NB sized egg, rather half an ancient 40cc egg, which could easily be eaten in כדי אכילת פרס, which of course also wasn't the tiny brisker shiur.


      I'm talking about the preference to swallow it all at once. Again the fact that "half an egg" was written, doesn't mean that it was followed in practice. Here is another example:

      The R"T position on nightfall is nominally 4 Millin which is somewhere around 72 - 96 minutes by the book. Yet the Minchas Cohen, who wrote a book defending the R"T shiur, maintains that nightfall in Amsterdam was around 45 minutes after sunset (I don't remember his exact measurement). He tries to resolve the apparent contradiction based on the low elevation of Amsterdam, but this is not a correct explanation. The M"B follows in his footsteps and maintains that when the stars come out, then it is nightfall no matter what the clock says (and clocks would not have been used in R"T's time, just as measuring cups and laminated sheets were unlikely to have been used for Shiurim). BTW the same applies to the nominal GR"A nightfall; it is too early.

      My point is to show that just because something is written doesn't mean that that it was ever practiced. Especially when there is a contradiction with other direction (swallow it all at once). There is also lots of testimony out there that the Matzah according to the Pesach sheets is a much bigger portion than what people did before the sheets (but that needs to be studied).

      Delete
    71. Just to summarize, I don't contend that precedent has no value. But Gavriel M's challenge is quite interesting. Producing examples of people who don't put their opinion in to writing doesn't really meet the challenge as it is impossible to distinguish between "I submit to the precedent" and "I don't want go up against X". The problem seems obvious and should be addressed in writing if this was really anyone's primary position on the matter.

      Delete
    72. "Producing examples of people who don't put their opinion in to writing doesn't really meet the challenge as it is impossible to distinguish between "I submit to the precedent" and "I don't want go up against X". "
      Maybe just ask them?

      R Stefansky

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    73. "Producing examples of people who don't put their opinion in to writing doesn't really meet the challenge as it is impossible to distinguish between "I submit to the precedent" and "I don't want go up against X". "
      Maybe just ask them?


      Actions (in this case, publications) speak louder than words.

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    74. "He is not speaking here of precedent at all. He is referring to what he said earlier, which is that Shiurim are based on estimates, but that the Rabbis have the power to establish standards for measurement (e.g. saying that Agori olive is medium sized). Again, he says that the "standard" established by N"B, GR"A and others may have been a change from the prior standard, but that change is OK. The implication is that if current authorities want to change things, they could."
      Once again, - hopefully for the final time, because although I enjoy these discussions, I think they've run their course, and after placing our thoughts in the marketplace of ideas, we'll have to let the readers choose whose goods they which to purchase - I never insinuated that we couldn't change the precedent. Only, that precedent CAN establish a standard which the can remain in effect even when the methods used to arrive at the psak would no longer be viable. I was only arguing that precedent in kezayit is ALSO legitimate, in contrast to the tone of the post. That is it. Not that we can't change it, or other approaches are illegitimate. Most - if not all - of your arguments just support the notion that we can change it, not that it's illegitimate to keep it. I think we're talking past each other. I think we're mainly in agreement - even on the kezayit issue - and you keep creating strawmen. So, once again, the line that I quoted is the Chazon Ish saying that the N"B et al paskened a certain way, and through its subsequent acceptance - ונתפשטה הוראה - became the standard for later generations. That is what I was referring to. This halakhic concept. That's all. That even though the methods used would not be applicable in later years, the psak stands. - or, can stand.
      "From the story that you mentioned, he could simply have been pushing him off with a reed in a polite way."
      No, he spoke with him at length and sought a haskama for his sefer, and R Elyashiv refused since he believed he was teaching people the wrong halacha. Look, you're obviously a rational person, and I can't for the life of me figure out why you insist on this silly endeavor of concocting possible understandings for a story that I know first hand, and am quite clear on R Elyahshiv's intent.
      "Also, it is clear that both are "correct" in that they mean the same thing so "incorrect" is unlikely to have been what was meant. E.g. would he say that you need to repeat if you say it "wrong"? Of course not!"
      Aarrgh! He held it was incorrect to say it. That's what happened. Call me a liar if you want, say that I concocted the story, but please give me the courtesy of not ignorantly arguing on my knowledge of happened.

      Whether or not you repeat it is dependent on hilchot dikduk b'tefila.
      R Stefansky

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    75. "On the contrary, it provides the basis for using a regular sized olive which according to testimony from his family, he held was the Ikar."
      Huh? I'm just using the same methodology he used in regard to the larger egg size to kezayit - which had more historical precedent. Yes, it ALSO provides the basis to change it, but it ALSO does so to keep it - see earlier comment.

      "I'm talking about the preference to swallow it all at once. Again the fact that "half an egg" was written, doesn't mean that it was followed in practice. "
      Maybe that was what wasn't followed. And, yes, not EVERYTHING that is written meant that it was followed. And MB and GRA are bad analogies, since they don't reflect what was followed, as opposed to all the ashknazi rishonim and the Beit Yosef. Look, I believe that the fact that all the ashknezai poskim, some spanish and french rishonim cite the half-egg shiur, and the fact that it's the only opinion Beit Yosef cites despite knowing that olives were larger, testifies to its historical acceptance. You obviously don't. Let's agree to disagree and hopefully remain friends.

      R Stefansky

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    76. Re RT's tzeis - this is actually a fascinating historical discussion, that I don't want to engage in now, perhaps R. Dr. Slifkin could do some research on it, see R. Posen's אור המאיר and R. Carp at the back of הל' שבת בשבת ח"ד - but unlike what is assumed by most contemporary poskim that the first shkiya of RT is our shkiya, thereby delaying tzeis until much later, his first shkiya was considered to be before our shkiya and his second one to be actual sunset v. תוס זבחים נ"ט, thereby conforming his opinion to what was actually followed.

      R Stefansky

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    77. R. Karp's mehalech in Rabbeinu Tam is not against contemporary poskim, it is contrary to how Rabbeinu Tam's shita was understood historically too. The fact is that many kehillos did accept shabbos well after shkiah (albeit without waiting for a 16.1 degree tzeis hakochavim).

      As R. Dovid Boorstyn, author of Zemanim Kehilchasam writes on p. 27 of the 5774 edition of his sefer, the approach you describe appears to be contradicted by the Gemara itself.

      As far as I am aware, R. Meir Posen does not interpret Rabbeinu Tam's shita like R. Karp. See, for example, the last paragraph on p. 26 of the 1973 edition of Ohr Meir. The version of Rabbeinu Tam's tzeis that he personally adheres to is later than almost anyone else's. A summary of his approach can be seen here:

      http://roger.stioui.free.fr/images/Rabbenou_Tam.pdf

      See also Dr. William Gewirtz's work on the topic:

      http://zemanim.net/

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    78. Sorry, I meant to write, "R. Karp's mehalech in Rabbeinu Tam is not *just* against contemporary poskim..."

      Delete
    79. Thanks for the summary of R. Posen.
      I'd rather not get involved in this now, so I"ll be brief. Iirc R. Posen didn't interpret that R. Tam himself meant that, due to the way he reads the יראים, but he conceded other rishonim might have.

      "The fact is that many kehillos did accept shabbos well after shkiah (albeit without waiting for a 16.1 degree tzeis hakochavim)."
      Only in later years, i.e. approx. 300 years ago. Until then, the opinion of R. Tam was understood by the majority of poskim - and certainly adopted in practice - to be earlier.
      "As R. Dovid Boorstyn, author of Zemanim Kehilchasam writes on p. 27 of the 5774 edition of his sefer, the approach you describe appears to be contradicted by the Gemara itself."
      I didn't see that edition, but I'm assuming you're referring to his contention that it can't be squared with the Gemara Pesakhim - firstly, it's not so certain, R. Carp iirc deals with it, and R. Boorstyn doesn't cite R. Carp.
      "As far as I am aware, R. Meir Posen does not interpret Rabbeinu Tam's shita like R. Karp. See, for example, the last paragraph on p. 26 of the 1973 edition of Ohr Meir. The version of Rabbeinu Tam's tzeis that he personally adheres to is later than almost anyone else's." I only cited him bec. he also disagrees with the contemporary flat 72 min.
      His late shiur though, is for independent reasons. He uses calculation similar to the opinion of שעות זמניות attributed to R. Chaim Soloveitchik.

      R Stefansky

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    80. "Only in later years, i.e. approx. 300 years ago. Until then, the opinion of R. Tam was understood by the majority of poskim - and certainly adopted in practice - to be earlier."

      If anything, the reverse is closer to the truth - it's only in the last 200 years or so that accepting shabbos immediately after shkiah has become universal. According to R. Meir Posen, even the geonim did not believe bein hashmashos begins at shkiah, and Dr Gewirtz arrives at a somewhat similar conclusion, albeit in a different way. Even if your claim was correct when it came to Rabbeinu Tam, which I don't believe it is, the fact is that a significant number of rishonim held that bein hashmashos begins well after shkiah.

      Delete
    81. "His late shiur though, is for independent reasons."

      The "reason" for it is because that is how he interprets shitas Rabbeinu Tam.

      Delete
    82. This discussion of R"T shita is evading the evidence that I gave: All of the Rishonim interpreted him to mean that nightfall is 72 minutes or more after sunset, but in reality they did not wait 72 minutes or more after sunset to end Shabbos. When the stars came out Shabbos was over and that happens earlier. The same is likely true for Shita of the Gaonim and G"RA; his nightfall is too early. So what is written down in the books is not always a good guide to practice, especially given the fact that measurement in pre-modern times was much less strictly defined than today. All of the speculation about R"T shita is not relevant here.

      Similarly, the fact that the olive was identified with 1/2 or 1/3 of an egg doesn't prove that such a size was used and the recommendation to eat the Matza in one swallow cuts the other way.

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    83. "Also, it is clear that both are "correct" in that they mean the same thing so "incorrect" is unlikely to have been what was meant. E.g. would he say that you need to repeat if you say it "wrong"? Of course not!"
      Aarrgh! He held it was incorrect to say it. That's what happened. Call me a liar if you want, say that I concocted the story, but please give me the courtesy of not ignorantly arguing on my knowledge of happened


      R Stefansky, with all due respect, I'm getting a 3rd hand oral story here (R Elyashiv->friend->you->RJ). I don't doubt that Rav Eliyashiv declined to give a Haskama on your friend's book and disagreed with the conclusion that one should change the standard pronunciation and act at variance with the rest of the congregation, but the rest is mere dicta and thus less compelling (besides the game of telephone). The fact I'd like something a bit more solid doesn't imply anything about your trustworthiness; I wouldn't bother to discuss this topic with you if I didn't think that you knew a lot more than me and were acting in good faith. Given the fact that we can look at the same Chazon Ish and draw opposition conclusions means that we need to be dealing with something that we can both analyze on equal footing.

      Delete
    84. So, once again, the line that I quoted is the Chazon Ish saying that the N"B et al paskened a certain way, and through its subsequent acceptance - ונתפשטה הוראה - became the standard for later generations. That is what I was referring to. This halakhic concept. That's all. That even though the methods used would not be applicable in later years, the psak stands. - or, can stand.

      He goes on at great length in the prior portions to explain his understanding of Shiurim and how they can change, but authorities can set a standard. In fact right after this is were he quotes the anonymous Gaon. It would be quite strange if he suddenly switched gears back and forth like that.

      To summarize my thoughts, while I agree that it is obviously true that precedent plays a large role in halacha:

      1) The Chazon Ish does not support this notion with respect to Shiurim. If anything, he undermines it.

      2) Gavriel M's contention that no authority who admits that the olives were always small based on historical evidence (not available to the earlier authorities) also says that one should maintain the much larger half egg measurement still stands.

      I think that you disagree on both counts and we can let it stand there.

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    85. @David Ohsie
      "All of the Rishonim interpreted him to mean that nightfall is 72 minutes or more after sunset, but in reality they did not wait 72 minutes or more after sunset to end Shabbos."
      No, no. I was pointing out that R. Carp demonstrated that many rishonim did NOT understand RT's nightfall as being so late, and therefore it DID conform to practice.
      (BTW, my "friend" is a respected Rosh Yeshiva who had an extensive discussion with him on the subject, so that segment of the broken telephone is pretty reliable).

      J. - I was referring to tzeis, i.e. that the rishonim didn't understand it to be so late; I wasn't referring to shkiya.

      R. Posen's personal adherence to a late shiur of RT is not due a specific way he understands RT, but an underlying general approach to shiurim.

      R Stefansky

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    86. "All of the Rishonim interpreted him to mean that nightfall is 72 minutes or more after sunset, but in reality they did not wait 72 minutes or more after sunset to end Shabbos."
      No, no. I was pointing out that R. Carp demonstrated that many rishonim did NOT understand RT's nightfall as being so late, and therefore it DID conform to practice.


      I'll admit to not knowing who the many Rishonim are, but you are still evading the question :). The books of halachah on whom we rely (Minchas Cohen, GR"A, M"B, etc) interpreted R"T the "standard" way, yet end Shabbos earlier. (I mention the GR"A for just for his interp of R"T; obviously he had a different Shita).

      Also, if it is true that "first shkiya was considered to be before our shkiya and his second one to be actual sunset", then again no-one follows that version of R"T, because then nightfall would be too early (as it would be too early following the book version of G"RA/Gaonim).

      Delete
    87. Still looking for R Carp's essay, but I at least found his reference to it. His discussion confirms my point: despite what is written, the practice could not be like the book GR"A or R"T because one is too early and one is too late. He tries to resolve how the nominal R"T shita evolved historically, but the point remains that we have to ignore a lot of what was written to know what actually was practiced. The Minchas Cohen makes it quite explicit.

      http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=52786&st=&pgnum=195

      Delete
    88. R. Carp at the back of הל' שבת בשבת ח"ד

      What page is this? Hebrewbooks.com has the sefer, but I can't find the essay.

      Delete
    89. Fix to earlier comment: "an underlying general approach to shiurim" should have been "...to zemanim".

      David - sorry, I couldn't find the essay anywhere online, I've only seen it in the printed editions.

      As for those who interpreted RT as later, but didn't rule that way - obviously, since they cite other opinions as well, as opposed to the kezayit, where they only cite one opinion and declare it normative.
      R Stefansky

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    90. "R. Posen's personal adherence to a late shiur of RT is not due a specific way he understands RT, but an underlying general approach to zmanim".

      You can repeat this as many times as you like but it won't make it any more true. R. Posen repeatedly stresses that his shita of degrees for nighttime is in accordance with Rabbeinu Tam's shita. So that the readers can see how you are wilfully distorting R. Posen's shita, I will quote his wording directly. This is from p. 175,

      "ופה בעיר שלנו (לונדון) באמצע הקיץ בזמן שעה וחצי אחר השקיעה הוה עדיין אור גדול בצד צפון מערבית ואם לא משערינן הזמן של ד' מילין ע"פ אופק אין אנו יוצאים חובתנו בשיטת ר"ת".

      And on p. 178

      וראיתי לאיזה מחברים שרוצים לתרץ שי' ר"ת ואומרים דשקיעה"ח שממנה מחשבין הד' מילין הוא איזה זמן קודם ביאת גוף השמש מתחת הארץ. אבל זה ליתא דא"א להמציא פירוש חדש בשי" ר"ת שהוא כנגד כל רבותינו ז"ל הראשונים והאחרונים"

      "מוכח דמי שמחמיר על עצמו כשי' ר"ת א"א להדליק במוצש"ק קודם השעה שנסתלק האור מכל הרקיע שהוא מתאים לשיעור גמר ירידת השמש תחת האופק שש עשרה מעלות, ומי שמדליק קודם לזה אינו הולך בשיטת ר"ת רק בשיטת הגאונים ז"ל."

      Delete
    91. J.,
      Before you engage in mudslinging by accusing me of "willfully distorting R. Posen's shitta", I'd advise you to read what I actually wrote - although it may be my fault since it was too concise. I never insinuated that R. Posen didn't hold of a late zman for RT; I repost what I wrote: "I only cited him bec. he also disagrees with the contemporary flat 72 min."
      As for what I wrote, "R. Posen's personal adherence to a late shiur of RT is not due a specific way he understands RT, but an underlying general approach to zmanim". I only meant that his own personal later version of RT's zman - as you noted, later than most poskim - is not based just on his reading of RT, but on a general principle wrt to degrees. Of course it's in accordance with RT! - just not limited to him.
      It was mostly parenthetical, and has certainly no relevance to the portions you cite.

      I appreciate you engaging me on this, but I didn't intend on opening a discussion on this issue, so I wrote concisely. My main point was just R. Carp's opinion. I brought R. Posen as another example of someone who disagrees with the accepted view of a flat 72 for RT.

      R Stefansky

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    92. I'll leave it to others to assess whether your semantic ducking and diving holds water, but other than our assessment of R. Karp's view (I believe his approach is unviable), it doesn't appear that we differ substantively here. Good shabbos.

      Delete
    93. As for those who interpreted RT as later, but didn't rule that way - obviously, since they cite other opinions as well, as opposed to the kezayit, where they only cite one opinion and declare it normative.

      Still not connecting. Minchas Cohen declares R"T normative, but goes one step further and publishes actual times for Amsterdam. He then realizes that the times don't line up with the text and tries to resolve it (his resolution is factually wrong, but that is a separate point). It is extremely likely (especially before widespread use of clocks) that the followers of R"T ended Shabbos when the stars came out, just as Minchas Cohen did, and this is well before 4 millin. In fact R. Carp says as much at the link below.

      The olive is exactly the same. We have instruction to eat it on one swallow, we have actual olives in some places, and we have testimony that people were not measuring large matzahs in the past (also we have the "Lost Kiddush Cup"). The fact that a measure was printed doesn't mean that it was in effect.

      http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=52786&st=&pgnum=195

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    94. David - sorry, I couldn't find the essay anywhere online, I've only seen it in the printed editions.

      OK, if you happen to find the volume and page number in הל' שבת בשבת, let me know.

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    95. David -
      It's at the back of ח"ד. There is a קונטרס named משמרת השבת printed, in which the page numbering restarts. It's on pg. 163.

      Look at footnote 8 at the page you linked for a brief synopsis of his position. His goal is to show that RT's shitta is congruent with what was actually observed in practice. He shows that four millin does not end approx. 72 min. after sunset, as is assumed today, but was in fact assumed to be an earlier time by many rishonim, thereby aligning it with actual practice. I.e. there was no discrepancy between what was written and followed. In other words, even though in later years the understanding of RT's shitta evolved to the point that it no longer reflected practice, however, its original "codification" into printed halakha DID conform to practice, and only later did people adopt a different understanding of RT and claim that it didn't reflect practice.
      You're right, if we understand RT as the Minchat Cohen did, then we have a discrepancy we must resolve. However R. Carp endeavors to show that it was NOT understood that way at the time it was originally accepted.

      Furthermore, you can't just procure one case of a discrepancy btw what was written and followed, and infer that nothing that was written is any indication of what was followed. For one thing, the two cases of "what is written" must be analogous. Therefore even assuming you are right, and there is indeed a discrepancy, since I don't think it's analogous to the olive, it doesn't constitute sufficient proof. The vast majority ashkenazi poskim, (some Spanish and French rishonim) only cite the half-egg shiur, and it's the only opinion Beit Yosef cites despite knowing that olives were larger. This testifies to its historical acceptance. However the opinion of RT never reached the same uniform acceptance in works of halakha as this half-egg kezayit. Therefore, it's more understandable why it wouldn't reflect practice.

      R Stefansky

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  5. David, I'm disappointed. Unless you mean that you take a 'kazayit' as 1/3 of a small commercial egg and estimate the volume of matzoh by assembling broken pieces and, say, doubling, to account for the illegitimate inclusion of spaces between the pieces. If you, however, practice using the 'Hason Ish' shiurim for a 'kazayit' and revi'it, then you are, in effect, asserting that recent yeshiva practices trump older traditions and reality. This shitah of doubling egg volumes for a 'kebeitzah' makes no sense in reality for modern large commercial eggs. This was pointed out in the Aruch Hashulchan and in the Biur Halacha commentary of the Chofetz Chaim to his Mishnah Berurah (Unfortunately, it is not reflected in the conclusion of his commentary on Pesach shiurim in the latter.). In any case, have an enjoyable yom tov whether or not you use 'large' shiurim.

    Y. Aharon

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    1. Life is short and I simply stick with what I understood to be Rav Moshe's position when I started to care about trying to eat the proper Shiur. When I was in Yeshiva I did make a measurement with eggs and matza meal, but I didn't pursue it carefully enough to follow it, besides which I really do like the hand Shmurah Matzah. However, I do ask my guests and kids if they want the big sizes or more reasonable ones.

      If it's any consolation, I also follow Rav Moshe's position on peanuts and the traditional position that one can rely on ingredients and bittul for products purchased before Pesach. Thus, I'm only one on my block eating my beloved peanut butter on Pesach.

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    2. The 28.8 cc shiur for a kezayit, (half of an egg), also advocated by R. Chaim Na'eh, is equally based in tradition as the olive-sized kezayit, or the 1/3 of an egg shiur.

      R Stefansky

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    3. Rabbi Stefansky, I am less concerned with the assumption of an halachic 'kazayit' as half an egg volume, despite its deviation from reality, than with the assumption in some circles that the actual volume of modern large commercial eggs need to be doubled to qualify as an halachic 'beitzah'. The former assumption, as you have pointed out, has much halachic precedent - as opposed to the latter. Historically, this was never the practice before Rav Yecheskel Landau's (Tzelach)innovation and has not been the generally accepted practice (except in yeshiva circles) since. It may have had some merit in his time since the eggs then appeared to have been much smaller than the current commercial ones. Rav Yechiel Michel Epstein (Aruch Hashulchan) writing at the turn of the 20th century observed (in hilchot Pesach - revi'it shiur discussion)that the eggs in Lita effectively doubled in volume with the introduction of a new breed of hen. Well, those are the eggs that we now have, and there is no need to double them as well. One could also take issue with Rav Landau's measurement of an ama or etzba since a reasonable value of 20 inches or 50 cm (etzba = 2 com) agrees with an egg volume of 2 fl oz, i.e., there is no discrepancy.

      You raised the issue of Chadash in the diaspora. While the Rishonim, except for the Or Zarua (Rav Yitzchok of Vienna), appear to rule according to the stam mishne at the end of Orlah and the view of Ravina and Mar b' Rav Ashi in the Bavli Menachot that Chadash is forbidden wherever grown, it was not the accepted practice in the colder climes in Europe. The halachic basis for this phenomenon may have stemmed from the Yerushalmi on Orlah which appears to contend with the above stam Mishne, claiming that it follows a minority view and that the majority view is based on a reading of the relevant verses (in Emor) as a whole, i.e., the stricture against Chadash as an eternal decree wherever Jews were to live pertains only to new grain grown in the Promised Land. Nor is this the only instance where the Ashkenazi practice follows the Yerushalmi rather than the Bavli (as understood by the Bavli Geonim), i.e., the order of the parshiot in the shel rosh tefilin. After all, Ashkenazi Jewry appears to stem primarily from Judea following the Roman conquest, rather than from Babylonia. Nor did that Jewry in Christian Europe have much interaction with the Babylonian Geonim from Muslim Iraq.

      Y. Aharon

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    4. " After all, Ashkenazi Jewry appears to stem primarily from Judea following the Roman conquest, rather than from Babylonia."
      Really? I always thought its origins were a little fuzzier than that. I'd appreciate if you point me to your sources on this.

      Thanks
      R Stefansky

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    5. Rabbi Stefansky, I no longer remember where specifically I gained such information other than from some conventional books on Jewish history. It also appears to be a 'natural' deduction from such history. Despite Rashi's assertion near the beginning of T.B. Temura that Jews were in Ashkenaz even before the destruction of bayit sheni by the Romans, it appears agreed that the Jewish presence in Europe is associated with the Romans, having been brought to Roman territories as slaves or through commerce with Roman encampments and towns. The original settlers were augmented by the encouragement of Jewish migration from Italy to the Rhineland and northern France by Charlemagne who ruled all these territories and wanted to bring Jewish urban skills to his less developed lands.

      Y. Aharon

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    6. Continued. There was also a later influx from Spain and Portugal after 1492, but those immigrants likely also stemmed largely from the original Jewish settlers who came with the Romans - rather than those who later came to Spain from North Africa following the Muslim conquest.

      I hope that you're not thinking of that discredited speculation about Jews in Eastern Europe stemming allegedly from the converted Khazars of Central Asia (Black Sea area).

      Y. Aharon

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    7. No, I just thought it didn't primarily originate through the Romans, but rather was the combined product of pre-Bayit Sheni destruction immigration, combined with Roman expansion and later immigration from the East.

      R Stefansky

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  6. This is informative:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSb_EzhLF2Q

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  7. Rabbi Stefansky, I have a question for you. Suppose a person follows the view of Rishon X that an olive is, say, half the size of an egg. Still, why does that mean that a kezayis is larger than a contemporary olive? Maybe it means that a halachic "egg" is much smaller than the egg that we see today? I don't see why one abandon measuring the kezayis in terms of an olive and instead measure it in terms of an egg.

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  8. R. Slifkin,
    You're right, essentially accepting the view of Rishon X doesn't neccesitate a larger Kezayit shiur. But in reality, since the Rishonim that did pasken on the issue - not to mention the Beit Yosef -, paskened that the shiur Kezayit is half an actual egg, this is the halakha that has precedence. There are conceptual differences between the two, and different ways Chazal related to them, but I'm still unsure how they matter here.
    Also, -and not that this is what was actually considered - ספק דאורייתא לחומרא might be applicable.
    R Stefansky

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    1. But did they actually say that the halachic olive is half an actual egg? Maybe they said that the halachic olive is half the halachic egg?

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    2. The Halakhic egg is the actual egg, until further notice.

      R Stefansky

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    3. That is an entirely unsupported claim. The entire discussion begins with resolving two Gemaras about what a person can swallow. Oone passage states that a person can swallow two olives, while another passage states that a person can swallow a single egg. Hence the conclusion that two olives equals one egg. What reason is there to conclude that the olive is being measured in terms of eggs rather than eggs being measured in terms of olives? (Or, better - that this is simply a theoretical discussion, not relevant to actually eating a kezayis of something?)

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    4. Theoretically, yes. However, for the purposes of halakhic precedence, no. I don't think you are doubting that Tosafot et al assumed that the Halakhic egg is the actual egg, and were referring to an actual egg.

      "Or, better - that this is simply a theoretical discussion, not relevant to actually eating a kezayis of something?"
      Look it up, the בית הבליעה discussions are both the halakhic shiurim. But either way, the Rishonim cited above used it for the halakhic kezayit,and based on Tosafot ruled it was half an actual egg.

      R Stefansky

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    5. I don't think that Tosafos was making the egg any more real than the olive.

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    6. Firstly, if Tosafot never saw an olive, it could be that they thought that both were real. But it doesn't make a difference since we have Meiri.
      Anyway, though, this point is moot. The Rishonim and others who paskened based on Ri's reasoning were referring to an actual egg. Which you know. The dispute was the size of the kezayit shiur.
      (For fun, I quote your monograph: "Why did the Ashkenazi authorities relate the size of an olive to the size of an egg, especially since, according to Ri, this results in the error of considering an olive to be half the size of an egg? Why did they not follow the position of the Sephardic authorities, that a kezayis is the size of an olive?")
      R Stefansky

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  9. I think it would be relevant for all to consider the related issue of eating oats on Pesach. It seems pretty clear that as far as the realia go, שיבולת שועל in the mishna does not refer to oats, yet there is many hundreds of years precedent for considering oats to be chametz. Do we now go and change the halakha? Is there a difference between lechumra (for people suffering from celiac to eat oat matza with/without a bracha) and lekulla (for everyone, or at least Sephardim, to eat oats)?

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    1. This is not an issue for Pesach, IMO. There is nothing in the Torah that says that only specific grains can become Chametz. IIRC, the gemara records a dispute over whether or not Rice can become Chametz. Thus, we have simply accepted that Oats can become Chametz, and therefore can be used for Matza. The only question would be about the M'Ein Shalosh berachah afterwards, I think.

      Someone more knowledgeable can correct my errors; I don't have time at the moment for research...

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    2. I think you are correct about Rye (which is not שיפון), since Rye can become hammess and it is reasonable to assume that if Hazal had known about Rye they would have added it to the list.

      However, I cannot agree with you about Oats for a simple reason: they cannot become hammess (since they do not have enough gluten).

      Oats are, in fact, qitniyoth. This raises an interesting question. For those who abstain from qitniyoth on Pesah and are aware of the facts about oats, can you still eat oat massah on Pesah?

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    3. I'm not sure it's obvious that Professor Feliks was correct. See R. Yechiel Goldhaber's recent discussion of the issue:

      http://forum.otzar.org/forums/download/file.php?id=33413

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    4. I don't understand what you mean. It is not that we have accepted that oats can become chametz, it is that we have accepted that oats are what the mishna meant by shibboles shu'al.

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    5. I don't understand what you mean. It is not that we have accepted that oats can become chametz, it is that we have accepted that oats are what the mishna meant by shibboles shu'al.

      You are making an assumption that the primary cause of considering Rye to be Chametz is a (mis)identification with Mishneh. Who says? Maybe the primary cause is that Rye is similar to the grains mentioned halachically in that it can become Chametz, and as a consequence was (perhaps falsely) assumed to match a grain in the Mishnah. If however it didn't match, that would not change the fact that it is Chametz.

      However, I cannot agree with you about Oats for a simple reason: they cannot become hammess (since they do not have enough gluten).

      Based on some further reading spurred by your comment, I think that you may be right about that. It is basically not possible to make Oat bread.

      Oats are, in fact, qitniyoth.

      Are they? Do you think that there is some real consistent rule as to what is and what isn't?

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    6. Depends what you mean. It's my understanding that all edible plant matter is divided by Hazal into 5 categories: דגן, קטניות, ירקות, פירות האילן and פירות הארץ. There are no criteria given, but each species can be classified by analogy to other members of the category that are known. Some things, like coffee beans, are a bit hard to classify, but I don't think oats are.

      As to whether they should fall under the traditional prohibition on eating qitniyoth on Pesah, I don't know. That's why I said it's an interesting question.

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    7. Despite the name "Kitinios", I find persuasive Rav Moshe's argument that the custom seems to be reflect historical acceptance of some kind of Chumra by various groups at various times rather than any carefully considered principle. But perhaps you are right that the "cultural" similarity between Oats and Rice would naturally result in acceptance as Kitinios, just like aluminum is "obviously" a metal.

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  10. Some olives are green, some olives are black
    It’s the size of the olive that’s under attack
    If you look at a garlic head, it is quite small
    But there’s elephant garlic, as big as a ball.
    So elephant olives? Did they once grow so big?
    Or elegant olives, as slim as a twig?
    Whatever the measure you choose for your seder
    Celebrate our cherut, and praise G-d our Creator.

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