Wednesday, August 31, 2022

The Kanievskys Blow the Whistle on Daas Torah

My, this is interesting.

Rav Chaim Kanievsky ztz"l was proclaimed for many years to be the authoritative voice of Daas Torah. Countless people would stream to him for advice, on matters of tremendous significance. All the charedi press enthusiastically supported this, and it was unthinkable for anyone to publicly oppose him. For example, during the Covid pandemic, the US edition of Yated Ne'eman reported as follows:
In Praise of Rav Chaim
Opening summer zman for Yerushalayim's Mir yeshiva via conference call, Rav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel spoke to thousands of talmidim about Rav Chaim Kanievsky's greatness and his inimitable guidance of the Torah world during the current crisis.
"Boruch Hashem, the hashgocha has left us nevi'ei emes including the great luminary, the wonder of the generation, the master of the entire Talmud who would be a member of the Sanhedrin if it existed, the prince of Torah whose words are all divrei kabbolah and who has no knowledge of external affairs," he said. "All his words emanate from ruach Hashem and the Torah within him is divrei Elokim chaim vekayomim la'ad."

But on several occasions over the past decade, I argued that this "Daas Torah" was a sham. Rav Chaim was a sheltered and very elderly man, with his mind clearly in cognitive decline, and was being manipulated by his family for power and money.

I was far from the only one to argue this. And when an Israeli satirical TV show produced a skit to this effect, showing him to be in cognitive decline and manipulated by his grandson, there was a furious reaction from the charedi world.

Well, lo and behold, this has now been acknowledged by none other than some of Rav Kanievsky's own children.

One aspect of Rav Chaim's genuine greatness was the simplicity of his lifestyle. However, after his passing, his meager possessions were worth a fortune. A wealthy collector offered his son Rav Yitzchak Shaul (Shuki), who lived in Rav Chaim's home and handled his affairs along with his own son Yanky, seven million dollars for Rav Chaim's handwritten notes on the Talmud Yerushalmi. 

Rav Shuki's two brothers, Rav Avraham Yeshaya Kanievsky and Rav Shlomo Kanievsky, only discovered this after negotiations were underway. Naturally, they were expecting to evenly divide the estate (the five daughters were not expecting anything). But to their surprise and dismay, Rav Shuki revealed a secret handwritten letter from Rav Chaim declaring that Shuki should be his sole heir!

The brothers turned to Beis Din. They argued to the Beis Din that when Rav Chaim wrote this letter - all the way back in 2013 - he was already in cognitive decline and was manipulated by R. Shuki into writing it!

This was indeed a very reasonable claim. First of all, it is extraordinarily unreasonable to propose that he didn't want to divide his estate evenly. Second, he clearly was in cognitive decline and being manipulated - and the sons were in a prime position to be aware of that! 

But R. Shuki and his family countered this claim. They put forward the following argument: How can you say that he was manipulated into making decisions, when he had the role of giving guidance to the entire generation? This argument may not have been logically sound, but it was strategically brilliant. The other sons had always been quite happy to play along with the idea that Rav Chaim was Daas Torah - how could they only now claim that it was a sham?

Nevertheless, the Dayanim and Rabbanim of Bnei Brak forced R. Shuki to divide the estate. It's not entirely clear if this was done as a formal verdict that the letter was invalid. The reported claim was that they insisted this to be done "to avoid a Chillul Hashem," though it's not specified exactly what that chillul Hashem would have been. It hardly seems to avoid chillul Hashem to have a handwritten letter from Rav Chaim that is being overruled.

To my mind, the greatest chillul Hashem already took place, over many years. And there is all the devastation to all those who were given faulty direction in various matters by someone who was unqualified to give it. As I've said on several occasions, the blame and responsibility for this farce is not only with Rav Chaim's family, but with every public figure, rabbi and magazine that endorsed the idea of Rav Chaim being a voice of Daas Torah for people's life decisions. No doubt they all prefer that the truth of what happened with his sons does not receive publicity.

176 comments:

  1. Just a few days ago in Daf Yomi, we learned that Chazal were opposed to disinheriting a son, even from PART of the estate, and even if the son to be disinherited OTD and the other sons were tzaddikim. This itself makes it very unlikely that Reb Chaim ztz"l would have given his whole estate to one son, if he understood what he was doing.

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    1. The opening of next week's parsha is seen as a coded criticism of Yaakov's treatment of his sons.

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    2. Just the opposite. Yakov explains his reason for stripping Reuven of the bechora - - not that he preferred Rachel over Leah, but "ki alita mishkevei avicha az chilalta yetzui alah".

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  2. You have said this many times on your blog

    What indication do you have that he wasn’t of sound mind?

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    1. For one thing, he left his entire yerusha to one son.

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    2. One can be manipulated if one "has no knowledge of external affairs". No need to resort to speculation that the gaon was already senile in his mid 80s.

      "For one thing"
      You're going to diagnose cognitive decline based on one alleged handwritten letter?

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  3. Could you clarify how you have all this information

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  4. Where (on the Internet or elsewhere) can the Beth Din's verdict/decision/advice and its fulfillment be seen and cited?

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  5. Unfortunately the way the charidei world used Rav chaim was truly disgusting. The only way you could become a gadol these days is if you are in the box and controlled by askanim that all they want is money. That’s the way they used Rav chaim in every poster and magazine. Very sad indeed

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    1. Rav Gershon Edelstein doesn't fall into your category?

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  6. And just to add that although not everything in the so called modern orthodox world is good, if you look into large groups of the charidei and yeshives world it’s heartbreaking to see. The גשמיות and the money is out of control. I went to Lakewood and was shocked to see how much people are into the way they look and dress. This is clearly not the way Hashem wanted Judaism to become.

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    1. The Chareidim is Israel don't work. In America they are too materialistic. In Israel they're too poor. In America they're too rich. Whine, whine whine.

      MAKE UP YOUR FRIKIN' MINDS!! WHICH ONE IS IT??

      To paraphrase the מחלל שבת בפרהסיא ובועל נידות Bibi Netanyahu at a UN General Assembly speech a few years ago (I tried finding the quote now but could not, so you'll have to take my word for the gist of it):

      "You hated us because we're poor. You hated us because we're rich. You hated us because we were too self isolated. You hated us because we're too involved in society...

      You hate us because you hate us."

      Pesachim 49b:

      "The hatred of the unlearned towards the Talmidei Chachamim is greater than that of the hatred of the nations towards the Jews"

      So just shut up.

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    2. "I went to Lakewood and was shocked to see how much people are into the way they look and dress. "

      The "Lakewood" brand may still exist, but it's no longer pervasive in Lakewood. That town has become just another suburb of NYC, where people can afford nice sized homes in a Charedi community. It's no longer the bucolic פת במלח enclave it was decades ago. You shouldn't condemn Lakewood because of those changes.

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    3. "The hatred of the unlearned towards the Talmidei Chachamim is greater than that of the hatred of the nations towards the Jews"

      Yes, the unlearned charedim really hate the tzadikim who are the Modern Orthodox and their talmidei chachamim.

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    4. Mekharker:

      "The hatred of the unlearned towards the Talmidei Chachamim is greater than that of the hatred of the nations towards the Jews" Pesachim 49b

      Really?? that's the quote you go for? the same page in context explains the NAZI like attitude of the "talmidei Chachamim" towards the "unlearned" they think of them as vermin, as someone who should be stabbed, cut open like a fish. etc.

      Even if the statement by R. Hiyya in the Gemara is correct that the unlearned hate the talmidei chamaim, the reason is clear as day from the text itself: it is precisely due to the disgusting views the talmidei had for the unlearned.

      Pesachim 49b:
      A person "should not marry the daughter of an unlearned because they are vermin and their wives are similar to a creeping animal... And with regard to their daughters the verse states: “Cursed is he who lies with an animal” (Deuteronomy 27:21), as they are similar to animals in that they lack any knowledge or moral sense...Rabbi Elazar said: It is permitted to stab an unlearned to death on Yom Kippur that occurs on Shabbat. His students said to him: Master, at least say that it is permitted to slaughter him. He said to them: I intentionally used the word stab, as this term, slaughtering, requires a blessing when one slaughters an animal, and that term, stabbing, does not require a blessing in any context. ....Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: It is permitted to tear open an unlearned like a fish. Rabbi Shmuel bar Yitzḥak said: And one may cut him open from his back and thereby cause his immediate death by piercing his spinal cord rather than his stomach... Similarly, he [Rabbi Hiyya] said: The hatred which the unlearned have for a Torah scholar is greater than the hatred that the nations of the world have for the Jewish people." (copied from Sefaria, but using Mekharker's chosen term "unlearned" for apples-to-apples comparison).

      I'll tell you if someone called me "vermin" and my wife a "creeping animal" and said it was halakhically permitted to stab me (with or without a bracha) and gut me like a fish etc., I would probably hate them too. I mean isn't that the kind of stuff the Nazi's said?? to quote Indiana Jones: "Nazis - I hate these guys!"

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    5. To "Meharker", I believe the quote is from Menachem Begin, not Netanyahu. As for the rest of your comment, just exactly what do you mean by "unlearned"? Does having Yoreh Yoreh Smicha count as "learned", or must it be only from a particular yeshiva or rav? Who are you to judge who is learned and who is unlearned? Unless these are just labels you use to insult whole swaths of the frum community (as some learned Rabbanim sometimes do).

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    6. following up on my above comment:
      I mean seriously, what R. Hiyya said is akin to Adolf Eichmann, on trial for organizing the final solution and the vile extermination of Jews like vermin inflicting the most gruesome of deaths, explaining to Israeli Attorney General Gideon Hausner from the witness stand, "but I have a good defense - the Jews hate me." And then the entire court room and everyone watching broadcasts of it around the world just collectively sit dumbfounded and say: "ummm, DUHHHH!!"

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    7. What percentage of chareidim are actually 'talmidei chachomim'? Very low. Having pictures in Hamodia lighting a Menorah, fixing a mezuzah or attending the bris of an einekel of some fellow obscure rebbele no one has ever heard of doesn"t make a talmid chocom.

      As for kollel people, Most of them don't know what they are talking about most of the time. The rest of the time they misquote from memory. Responses like 'The sha'arei tzion says XXX' or 'yes, that's Rabbi Akiva Eiger's question' closes so called torah debates and nine times out of ten if you can actually follow up the quote it says nothing of the sort. It's all talk the talk and wear the wear. Dispite all the talk about emunah and bitachon, chareidim chase money like every other man in the street. Except the man in the street is less likely to defraud governments in getting it.

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    8. @Mekharker, Nahum, Jeffrey

      I started to write a long answer about how this sugya is meant to be understood, but this guy makes those points infinitely better than me.

      https://www.yeshiva.org.il/ask/86598

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    9. Jeffrey, I applaud your courageous admittance that you find the views of chazal to be abhorrent. You might as well make up a whole new reIigion once your'e at it. I only wish others in your community would be as honest, instead of insisting they represent true Judaism.
      Ely

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    10. 1) To Mr. Anonymous at the top of this thread: your point is irrelevant and a distraction. Classic whataboutism. And perhaps that's even part of the setup here: "We know that nebich, the MO society that is steeped in gashmiyus might sometimes have intrafamilial fighting over money, but the heilige mishpachos of Bnei Brak would never do that!"

      2) and to Mekharker's point about comparing to antisemitism, are you comparing wheedling a seven figure disparity in the will from an infirm and dying father followed by intrafamilial lawsuits to "being too rich"?? The argument is not how the administrators of large yeshivos actually draw large salaries and live in large houses, but how supposedly holy people are not acting up to the expectations that we might have of them.

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    11. Do you really think bibi's wife is still a nida?

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    12. I think you meant shaar hatziyun. But I guess I'm a unlearned Kollel guy after all

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    13. Potato head, do you really think she isn't? Nidus magically disappears with menopause? Is this a new psak from modern orthodoxy that I missed?
      Ely

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    14. Ely,

      What I find abhorrent is the statements to exterminate Jews like vermin whether stated by Chazal or Eichmann or Hizbullah or anyone.

      What I find more abhorrent, is your implication that there is something wrong with me for finding that abhorrent. I guess it's okay with you, but it's not for me. and I stand by that.

      If you think it's okay to exterminate Jews like vermin, I think it's you that needs to go make up a whole new religion and get out of mine, because as far as I am concerned, there's no place for you here in Judaism.


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    15. Yes she is
      Until a women goes to a mikvah she’s a full fledged nidda
      Even if she’s long post menopausal or has not experienced her period for whatever reason

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    16. Jew Well,

      Thanks for the link.

      there's a lot to unpack in that linked post; I essentially took home the following, there are a lot of instances in the Jewish sources (talmud and others) about treating each other with love and respect, and this might be an outlier. Also, this case is more about trying to impress upon the nation about the importance of bettering ones self so as not to be an Am-Haaretz (which in this instance is not to be interpreted as simply an "unlearned" person, but rather someone who opposes even basic torah and the authority of the rabbis); and then the last line suggests that its hyperbolic anyway.

      all that is good and fine, but I think my point may have been missed. I was specifically responding to Mekharker who quoted from that particular sugya to make a point. I thought Mekharker's use of that particular page in Talmud (out of the thousands of pages to choose from) to make the point he was making was patently ridiculous.

      I understand hyperbole etc., but why would the statement of R. Hiyya be any different?? why would most of the sugya be hyperbolic, and suddenly the one line that Mekharker chose to quote is supposed to be taken literally???

      Oh and I completely disagree with what the author in the link wrote about R. Akiva and his role in all of this. My reading is that R. Akiva was himself saying how ridiculous, vile, and harmful the statements of the Rabbis I quoted were. R. Akiva was doing a "smack down"; he "dropped the mic" all over them. While they (the rabbis) want to butcher, gut, and exterminate the amei haaretz (however defined), R. Akiva knows (from experience as previously being one) that the worst the Amei Haaretz want to do in retaliation is simply break a few bones. R. Akiva was scathingly rebuking Chazal with his statements. Of course he had to, after all he knows that the great precept of the torah is V'Ahavta L'Reiacha Kamocha.

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    17. Has she been to the Mikva?

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    18. Wow, so many people to respond to here!

      Nachum:

      Uh, when Chazal were talking about learned or unlearned, they were referring to TORAH, not a college degree!


      Jeffrey:

      I find the part of the Gemara that you find disturbing to be so as well. The Rishonim already have many explanations as to what it means, and I doubt anyone is of the opinion that it is to be taken literally across the board (thanks Jew Well for that article!). Your comparison of R’ Chiya to Eichmann is beyond appalling and must be condemned in the strongest terms. But on a theoretical level, Ely is right, Judaism is what is codified in the sources, and not what one feels to be morally just. (BTW about our old fight, please forgive me if I went a little overboard).


      Yehuda:

      1.Thanks for the correction!
      2. I am very proud of that you have semicha, and halevai all chareidim (and MODOX/DL for that matter!) should have semicha as well. I never said that ALL MODOX/DL are ignorant and that ALL Chareidi are learned, but I don’t think it is deniable that the majority of Torah scholarship in our times belongs to the Chareidi world (be it most of the sefarim printed nowadays, most of the Dayanim around the world, most of the prestigious Machons - Mosad Harav Kook, Machon Yerushalaim, Frankel, Zichron Aharon and just about everything else), and Chareidi society as a whole tends to be way more learned and have a bigger awareness of Torah and Halacha then other societies.


      ****:

      Yes, we already know that you are disenchanted that the system did not work for you, and you seem to be quite ignorant despite professing to have spent 20 years in Kollel.



      Yosef R:

      1. Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone ever thought that.
      2. No, I was referring to Anon’s griping that Chareidi Jews in Lakewood are too materialistic. But I get your confusion. Not sure how it’s relevant to the post.

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    19. @Jeffrey

      You're welcome.

      Indeed I addressed my previous comment to Mekharker too, didn't you notice?

      The other rabbis also knew of this precept, and it is clearly implied in the gemara that, just like Rabbi Yochanan's, Rabbi Akiva's statement was carefully worded in order to shock. Therefore I don't really think you're right about this. However it is possible to read that Rabbi Akiva wanted to insist on the ridicule of all this, as if to say: 'see what I was ready to say and where I am today, so it is wrong to speak with such extreme eloquence even as a hyperbole'.
      The gemara doesn't give us the context of his tirade so we can only speculate about this.

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    20. @Mekharker

      You're welcome

      'Uh, when Chazal were talking about learned or unlearned, they were referring to TORAH, not a college degree!'

      'But on a theoretical level, Ely is right, Judaism is what is codified in the sources, and not what one feels to be morally just.'

      You should read the Rambam's introduction to the Moreh. There you will find sentences like:
      '...אשר לא יתכן דבר זה כי אם במדע האלקי, ולא יושג אותו המדע האלקי אלא לאחר מדעי הטבע, כי מדע הטבע תוחם את המדע האלקי וקודם לו בזמן הלמוד כפי שנתבאר למי שעיין בכך...'
      'וראיתי עוד שאותם הדרשות כאשר רואה אותן הסכל מצבור הרבנים לא יקשה לו מהם מאומה כי אין הסכל הפתי הריק מידיעת טבע המציאות מרחיק את הנמנעות. וכאשר יראה אותן שלם מעולה לא ימלט מאחד משני דברים, או שיפרשם כפשוטם ותהיה לו מחשבה רעה על האומר ויחשבהו לסכל, ואין בכך הרס ליסודי האמונה. או...'
      From the Qafih translation

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    21. "You should read the Rambam's introduction to the Moreh. There you will find sentences like:"
      LOL!
      And you deduce from that a license to argue with Chazal and still claim to be a believing Jew?
      You want to interpret a Aggada Gemara in a way the makes more sense to you, totally fine, provided it actually makes sense in the reading and context and not explicitly foreclosed by every commentator in the book. But straight up arguing with Chazal isn't acceptable. Ever. (Not getting involved with science based Chazals which is a completely separate subject).
      Ely

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    22. Not sure what you want from there. That's all very nice if someone has a secular degree AND is a Talmid Chacham, but if someone only has a degree and is an am ha'aretz, that's the icing without the cake!!


      (That's besides for the fact that the simple reading of Chazal in Chulin I believe is that it's prohibited to learn Chachmas Chitzoniyos. There is also a famous Shu"t from the Rashba which decries it, and it's not exactly as if the Moreh Nevuchim has been the flagbearer of mainstream Hashkafa. We all know about the tremendous backlash it had, and even though his general critics such as the Ramban do quote it, they did not buy into it hook line and sinker. How many authorities believe that the Akeidas Yitzchok was a dream?

      Now, obviously, those that DO learn secular studies definitely have what to rely on, but I don't think that you can fairly make the argument that is what has normatively been considered a prerequisite for understanding Torah. Most of the greatest sages throughout the ages knew absolutely nothing about secular studies. That's what we were discussing here. Not if it is permitted to get a degree.

      Also, note that the Rambam is talking about science, so a degree in law would be of no help. Additionally, bear in mind that the Rambam did not live in the information age that we live in, and I think that Kollel people of the 21st century probably have more info about the world at their fingertips than the greatest scientists of the Rambam's time).

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    23. Actually, I think that Gemara is in Menachos. I will try to find it tomorrow IYH

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    24. How do you define the system 'working'? Thats part of my point. Without any clear definition of what 'the system working' means anybody can say what they like. But that sums up the issues with the system. It's full of vageries, shifting definitions, no testing etc. But what we can see clearly that dispite the tens of thousands 'learning' all we get are likut seforim based previous works, very few world recognised poskim below the age of 80, no proper leadership, the limited leadership that does exist communicates through hearsay and corruptible 'yeshivish' channels, plenty of wellfare and financial fraud etc etc. You call that 'working'? Arguing consistently 'the goyim do it to' really shows that we are not different to goyim which is clear proof the system does not work.

      I don’t know if you are familiar with the business world but there is something called 'Zombie Companies'. On paper they look like they are 'working' but they make just enough to cover their expenses and service their debt. In practice they have no fundedmental essence and one something changes they suddenly fail.

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    25. @Ely

      Stop jumping on people's throats without taking time to understand what they are saying. The Rambam doesn't say it's the right way, he says 'it doesn't constitute a breach in the basic beliefs (of judaism)', contrarily to people who are ready to swallow everything as face value, which does make them abandon tenants of religion (in our case ואהבת לרעך כמוך to adopt a מצוה of hating the עמי הארץ). What the Rambam says IS the right way is the next sentence, which was not relevant to my answer to Mekharker, but which I still hinted to by mentioning its first word. But of course you didn't go read the source, you just jumped to attack me like the authorized thinking crusader troll you seem to be.
      And if you mean to disagree with the Rambam, then by all means, say it, instead of talking like you are G.d's only authorized messenger.

      Now on to @Mekharker, who at least can take credit for admitting where he comes from.

      'Not sure what you want from there.' The Rambam clearly held that a person's knowledge of Torah cannot be separated from his knowledge of the world. An עם הארץ knows neither, a true תלמיד חכם learns both. And that's how he understood Chazal as well.

      The גמרא you're looking for is מנחות סד: וארור שילמד בנו חכמת יוונית. But it's basically a mishna in Sotah 9 14 (even though there it looks like the language itself was banned, see the גמרא there). You're reading, however, is not at all 'simple reading of Chazal', but precisely that sort of uneducated, superficial reading the Rambam warns about. Rashi and the Rambam both explain that it was a specific slang (as is clear from the gemara), and the Rivash (45) expands that all other sciences one could even learn in Greek. This גזרה had exceptions and is not in vigor today.

      As for the better known Mishna in Sanhedrin 10 1, the accepted explanation follows the Yerushalmi there that it is permitted to learn other sciences but one should not study them as one does for Torah (רמ"א יו"ד רמו ד).

      The opposition of other Rishonim to the Rambam's attachment to Aristotelician philosophy has nothig to do with the matter at hand. The Rashba himself had extensive knowledge of the sciences of his time, see Minchas Kana'us 40 through 43 (available on Sefaria).

      You want other quotes from mainstream 'chareidi accepted' rabbis? Fine.
      -רבנו בחיי אבות ג יט
      -הקדמה לספר 'יסוד עולם', בשם הרא"ש
      -נתיבות עולם, נתיב התורה יד
      -שו"ת הרמ"א ז
      -מהרש"א הוריות י.
      -יערות דבש ח"ב ז
      -מגלת ספר ליעב"ץ (מהד' מורשת קכה), מטפחת ספרים (לבוב עה), שאלת יעב"ץ מא
      -הסכמת הזכרון יוסף לתרגום חובות הלבבות ליידיש ע"י בנו
      -הקדמת פאת השולחן, בשם הגר"א
      -הקדמת רבי ברוך משקלוב לספר אוקלידוס, בשם הגר"א

      -דרשות חתם סופר, בשלח, קיב ב
      Won't go further in time, there is too much material.

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    26. Jew Well
      Why it so difficult for you concede that it is never ok to argue with Chazal? Where do you see from the Rambam that you can? Did YOU read it?
      The Rambam says it illogical at times to take Chazal at face value. He says the same in פירש המשניות סנהדרין. That is very different from the sentiment Jeffrey was expressing, which is that it is ok to outright argue if you can't understand it! Certainly a crusade worthy travesty, do you disagree?
      You seem to be choosing to ignore that pesky point, and conflating the approach of explaining Chazal in non literal terms and outright arguing, serving me a nice word salad on the side.
      Ely

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    27. Mekharker:

      " I doubt anyone is of the opinion that it is to be taken literally across the board"

      But you were the one who quoted to suggest that the unlearned hate the talmidei chachamim more than the non-jews do, "so just shut up"?? you were the one who seems to be taking this sugya literally?!? that's why I made the comments I did. I was shocked that you would quote from this sugya of all places if no one "is of the opinion that it is to be taken literally across the board". so then what precisely were you trying to say?

      "But on a theoretical level, Ely is right, Judaism is what is codified in the sources, and not what one feels to be morally just."

      I do not necessarily agree. And perhaps this is just semantics, but you seemed to agree with me on this point when you said, you find that part of the Gemara disturbing as well... but you doubt anyone takes it literally.

      We have a religion which teaches us right from wrong. we are expected to know right from wrong. When a seemingly authoritative Braita seems to fly in the face of accepted halakha, the Gemara might say "Lo Salka Daitach" (it cannot enter your mind that this Braita be taken literally, it must be reinterpreted to align with what we know to be right) or something similar.

      Moshe knew G-d was morally wrong when he wanted to destroy the Jewish people so he said "erase me from your book," Avraham knew G-d was morally wrong when he wanted to destroy the righteous of Sodom along with its evil doers, and he said "would the Judge of the whole world not act justly?"

      And why is it that people don't take the Sugya on Pesachim 49b literally??? because it is clearly and plainly morally wrong!! no sources are needed - Lo Salka Daitach. it simply cannot be!!

      "BTW about our old fight, please forgive me if I went a little overboard" no worries, and I apologize as well. I always meant to be arguing the issues, no personal attacks.



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    28. WOOAAAHH Jew Well!! Talk about jumping down people's throats! I think I made it abundantly clear that my issue is with people having a secular education at the EXCLUSION (or at least the expense) of Torah! I said quite clearly those pursuing an advanced secular education "definitely have what to rely on." I think even the Rambam would agree in this instance. I love how people always quote the Rambam, and cite that he was a tremendous philosopher and scientist, yet forget that it did not come at the expense of his Torah! For us mortals, obtaining the type of secular education that the Rambam had without it compromising our Torah education is next to impossible. BTW the same Rambam says that a working man should be learning for 9 hours a day. How many working people do that?

      End of my point.

      Once we are on the topic (but not wanting to get involved in a protracted back-and-forth), the other mareh mekomos that you quoted are not like the Rambam at all, they are about the value of secular studies for learning Torah's sake, ie for the purpose of understanding tekufos, Eiruvin, Kilayim, etc. Case in point, the same Rama whom you quoted in Shu"t §7, in Shulchan Aruch YD 246:4 says ואין לאדם ללמוד כי אם מקרא, משנה וגמרא והפוסקים הנמשכים אחריהם, ובזה יקנה העולם הזה והעולם הבא, אבל לא בלמוד שאר חכמות. So they don't seem to be referring to anything too much beyond what can be discovered with some simple online research. Meaning they are secondary to Torah. They definitely did not advocate devoting years to it's pursuit, and treating it as an ideal. And not at all like the Rambam in Moreh.

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    29. And to quote an anonymous friend of mine whom I met on rationalistjudaism.com and whom I have been in offline contact with:

      "It's important to know that the חכמת הטבע of the Rambam is qualitatively different than our science. The difference is that the Rambam's חכמת הטבע was part of an all-encompassing philosophical system, a theory of everything, that places God at the center. This is what he talking about in the Moreh as חכמת הטבע being a prerequisite for חכמת אלוהות. Up until 100 years ago, there was belief in this all-encompassing philosophical theory of everything (although by that time God was mostly out of the picture). Philosophers were the most highly regarded people.

      However, nowadays there is nothing like that at all. Philosophy has suffered an extreme decline in status vs the hard sciences (and even compared to the soft ones). And there is certainly no theory of everything anymore. Nobody who gets a PHD in physics, or biology, thinks he has a theory of everything. And if he does, he is usually a complete crank, and is ridiculed. And certainly none of the hard scientists include God in the picture at all. Therefore there is no comparison to Rambam's חכמת הטבע. Rambam's "science" is closer to kabbala than it is to modern science.

      You are also correct that this view of the Rambam wasn't exactly accepted, but it's hard to know exactly what was accepted, there were many Sephardi philosophers..."

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    30. She isn't a nida medeoraysa if she went to a pool, as R Moshe Feinstein points out.

      Delete
    31. @Ely

      As I already answered you, the Rambam doesn't say you should argue with Chazal, he says you should understand them another way, but that arguing with them is infinitely better than swallowing everything as face value.

      So when Jeffrey expressed horror at the sugya in Pesachim, he was following the 'not-so-good' path, but you by insisting he should just accept it no matter what where you could have chosen to explain, are defending the absolutely stupid path of obscurantism and exclusion.

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    32. @Mekharker

      I'm sorry if you felt attacked, I was merely suggesting some reading and didn't mean to attack you.

      I see the 'simple reading of Chazal' argument has disappeared from the table (as any other mention of Chazal). Good, we're making progress!

      Now to respond to you, the secular education of the Rambam certainly wasn't at the expense of his Torah since he said it was at the foundation of it! But if you believe anyone's learning of science is at the expense of his Torah, so how come the Rambam was different? Ah, he wasn't mortal, that's it? And you forget that the Rambam himself didn't learn 9 hours a day because of his work.

      For the Rambam there is no difference between 'for Torah's sake' and 'for the sake of understanding the world', they are one and the same. And may others held and still hold like him. That sould be enough by itself to discourage people from making absolute statements against it, but I only brought the other sources to show how ridiculous your new sentence 'Most of the greatest sages throughout the ages knew absolutely nothing about secular studies' is.

      And please, did you not realize this Rama is the exact same one I quoted you? You think I didn't read it? The two sentences go together, the Rama is only wary of people wanting to devote themselves to secular studies without properly knowing basic halakha, or making them an ideal per se.

      I'm happy to hear your anonymous new friend just got declared supreme authority about the Rambam. However I fail to see why the advance of modern science makes it more acceptable to ignore it as a whole, and why it would be better if we did have figured this freaking quantic theory of general relativity.

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    33. @Jew Well
      "As I already answered you, the Rambam doesn't say you should argue with Chazal"
      Right! Thank you!
      "but you by insisting he should just accept it no matter what where you could have chosen to explain"
      HEY! I did no such insisting! Talk about: "Stop jumping on people's throats without taking time to understand what they are saying" !!
      It's totally out of line to talk in terms like "Even if the statement by R. Hiyya in the Gemara is correct", and I was rightfully calling him out for it.

      @Jeffrery
      In all seriousness and respectfulness, it's a slippery slope from that type of talk down to the abyss where @Uriahs Wife is!
      I understand what's bothering you, but lets try more traditional reconciliatory methods to deal with it!
      Ely

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    34. This is an interesting discussion.

      Jew Well, I have a question for you. You say "For the Rambam there is no difference between 'for Torah's sake' and 'for the sake of understanding the world', they are one and the same."

      What do you mean by this? Do you understand that learning modern physics/chemistry/biology is as good as learning אלו נערות? Or perhaps even better? What do you think about the following line from the great authority on the Rambam, Menachem Kellner:

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3678785/#b21-rmmj-1-2_e0013

      "...The consequences of these equations are momentous. Maimonides imports what we today would call science into the heart of Torah. Rabbi Josef Kafih, went so far as to deny the possibility of secular studies (limmudei hol) for Maimonides: if a discipline yields truth, it is not secular....One who has mastered what Maimonides calls (in the Introduction to the Guide of the Perplexed) the legal science of the Torah (i.e. the Talmudist) is thus inferior to one who has mastered the secrets of the Torah, i.e. the person who understands physics and metaphysics...."

      Agree or disagree? If disagree, why?

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    35. Jeff:

      As I mentioned many times, we cannot just disregard words of Chazal. We do however look to the interpretation of the Rishonim. If they say something is not to be taken literally or qualify something, that is one thing. For us to say on our own that now this entire folio of the Talmud is to be disregarded is another.

      Jew Well:

      "I see the 'simple reading of Chazal' argument has disappeared from the table (as any other mention of Chazal). Good, we're making progress!"

      I really do not have the time right now to get involved in a protracted back and forth as I have seen you do many times (and as I myself do during bein hazmanim :) ) but I would like you to please explain what I am not understanding about this:

      תורת כהנים פ' אחרי יג,יא

      את משפטי תעשו ואת חקתי תשמרו ללכת בהם, ללכת בהם, עשם עיקר ואל תעשם טפילה, שלא יהיה משאך ומתנך אלא בהם, שלא תערב בהם דברים אחרים בעולם, שלא תאמר למדתי חכמת ישראל, אלמד חכמת אומות העולם, תלמוד לומר: ללכת בהם, אינך רשאי ליפטר מתוכן, וכן הוא אומר יהיו לך לבדך ואין לזרים אתך, שהכל בה בתורה, וממנה לא תזוע.
      ?!

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    36. And what I meant about 'Most of the greatest sages throughout the ages knew absolutely nothing about secular studies' was they DID NOT have the education that the Rambam held was ideal and that they knew nothing more then what was necessary for their Torah studies. I do not think you would consider R' Menashe Klein to be educated even though he did research women's health for example for certain shaylos, or poskim who research entomology in regards to a specific halacha shayla of infestation. You were referring to a much broader education than that. But if not, I guess we are on the same page.

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    37. @Ely
      I'm done trying answering you, youre selective reading is appalling.

      @happyetc...
      I am not sure you read me correctly. I was speaking of learning the sciences and saying the motivation 'to understand Torah' and 'to understand the world' are one and the same for the Rambam.
      Now let me ask YOU a question first. Lehavdil, what's better between learning Tehilim, Chumash, Mishna, Gemara, etc...? Is it not Gemara? So why should we learn the rest too?
      The obvious answer is that it's all necessary, and the Torah as a whole cannot be apprehended by focusing on one unique approach. So too the sciences being less important than Torah doesn't make them superfluous. I won't develop more here, because the answer to Mekharker below probably is enough.
      On to your second question. I do not agree with all of the article (but I have no pretension to be an expert on Rambam), and especially not with how it makes it appear that the Rambam single-handedly founded, defined, and defended the rationalist school, where it seems to me he was already born in it and was merely the most well-known and outspoken of its defenders. But that particular sentence is clearly evident to anyone who has learnt the Rambam's way of thought.
      Now of course this line about the superiority of the philosopher over the talmudist is one of the most controversial of his ideas, but two things should be understood first about that: first of all, the Rambam himself didn't think it really within human reach to get to his lofty goal without Torah and only meant it theoretically (though his opposition to those who reject trying to understand the world was real). And secondly it is intimately related to his absolute optimistic faith in the Aristotelian worldview, which, as we all know, was since proven wrong on most subjects.

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    38. @Mekharker
      I do not need to write the answer to your question, it was already provided by the Master:
      עוד אמרו בתורת כהנים בעניין תלמוד תורה: ״⁠ ⁠׳ללכת בהם׳ – עשם עיקר ואל תעשם טפלה; ׳ללכת בהם׳ – שלא יהא משאך ומתנך אלא בהם, שלא תערב בהם דברים אחרים בעולם, שלא תאמר למדתי חכמת ישראל אלמד חכמת אומות העולם, תלמוד לומר ׳ללכת בהם׳ – אינך רשאי ליפטר מתוכן״. הווי אומר: תכלית מאמציכם תהיה ״בהם״; הם יהיו מטרתכם, הדבר המוחלט, ואַל להם להפוך לדבר טפל לעיקר או לתלויים בדבר אחר. שכלכם יקלוט אותם וייצור באמצעותם; אסור לכם לערב עמהם דבר זר. אל תאמרו לעצמכם: כבר למדתי חכמת ישראל, ארכוש עתה גם את חכמת אומות העולם. לפיכך נאמר ״ללכת בהם״, אסור לך לפרוש מהתחום שלהם.
      נראה שמשפט הפתיחה של מאמר זה – ״עשם עיקר ואל תעשם טפלה״ – נועד לשמור עלינו מפני אי־הבנה. לבל נבין – מתוך המשך דברי המאמר – שעלינו להעלים עינינו לחלוטין מכל חכמה הנרכשת ממקורות שאינם יהודיים; ושאנו מחויבים להימנע מכל חכמה שאינה נוגעת ישירות לתורה. שכן ״עשם עיקר ואל תעשם טפלה״ משמעו, שהותר לנו לעסוק גם בתחומים אחרים של חכמה – ובלבד שנעשה את התורה לעיסוקנו העיקרי, ושהחכמה שאנו רוכשים מהתורה תיחשב כמוחלטת וכוודאית.
      חכמות אחרות תיחשבנה ככלי עזר; יש ללומדן רק אם בכוחן לסייע ללימוד תורה והן משועבדות לו כטפל לעיקר. אמיתת התורה צריכה להישאר עבורנו דבר מוחלט ובלתי תלוי; אמת מידה למדוד בה את כל התוצאות המתקבלות מענפי החכמה האחרים. רק מה שעולה בקנה אחד עם אמיתת התורה, יוכל להתקבל על ידינו כאמת. נשים את התורה למגמת פנינו היחידה: כל מה שאנו קולטים ויוצרים בשכלנו, צריך להישקל מנקודת המבט של התורה, ועליו ללכת בנתיבותיה. בהתאם לכך לא נקבל רעיונות שאינם עולים בקנה אחד עם ההשקפה הזאת; לא נקבל מסקנות היוצאות מתוך הנחות אחרות ולא נערב אותן בדברי תורה.
      אין לראות את התורה כשוות ערך לשאר המדעים, כאילו התורה אינה אלא ענף אחד בין שאר ענפי החכמה. לא נעלה על דעתנו שכדרך שיש חכמה ואמת יהודיות, כך יש חכמה ואמת לא יהודיות השוות אליהן בחשיבותן ובסמכותן [אוטוריטה]; ושלאחר שנמלא כרסנו בחכמת התורה, נפנה באותה רוח אל חכמת אומות העולם. אם נעשה כן, ונעמיד במחשבתנו חכמה לצד חכמה, ואמת לצד אמת, לא יהיו לנו אמונות ודעות אחידות, ונֹאבד מחמת חוסר ההתאמה של רעיונותינו ותפיסותינו.
      אלא כשם שאנו בטוחים שהתורה באה מה׳, וכל שאר ענפי החכמה שנתגלו על ידי בני האדם אינם אלא מוצרים אנושיים, המכילים את תוצאות הבנתו המוגבלת של האדם במהות דברים; כך אנו בטוחים שיש רק אמת אחת, רק חכמה אחת היכולה לשמש לנו כקנה מידה, וכאמצעי להעריך את כל שאר החכמות, העומדות בתוקפן על תנאי בלבד.
      לפיכך, גם כאשר אנו לומדים ומעסיקים עצמנו בחכמות אחרות, לעולם אַל לנו לנטוש את הבסיס של התורה או לסטות ממטרותיה. כל מאמצינו השכליים יוקדשו אל דברי התורה – ״ואינך רשאי ליפטר מתוכן״. (פירוש הרש"ר הירש על התורה, ויקרא יח,ה)

      'they knew nothing more then what was necessary for their Torah studies' is yet another meaningless sentence. There is no limit as to what can help you understand Torah. I have higher education in History and, to take but one in many examples, learning the different rights of inheritance in feodal Europe and their consequences helped me understand what type of society the Torah wishes to establish with its own laws.
      If you agree it makes sense to research specific areas to understand your learning, why can't you understand that the more you know on any subject, the deeper you can go?

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    39. See also תוספות יום טוב and תפארת ישראל on אבות ג יח and the Yerushalmi in Sanhedrin and the Rama paskening it that I already mentioned.

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    40. Jew Well, if you don't mind me probing a bit deeper. To my question about learning modern physics vs Gemara, you say, what is better learning Tehillim or Gemara? Do you mean to compare modern physics to Tehillim? That just like Tehillim is an important part of limud Torah, so too modern physics (and every other secular field), since as you say "there is no limit as to what can help you understand Torah"? Do you agree with the alleged opinion of Rav Kapach that there is no such thing as secular studies? I don't think you mean that, because you say "Lehavdil". Then you say " the sciences being less important than Torah doesn't make them superfluous". I would also agree that they are less important than the Torah, but are not superfluous. But Kellner (and allegedly Rav Kapach) is very clear that they are the Torah itself, or something more important than the Torah.

      Then you say "And secondly it is intimately related to his absolute optimistic faith in the Aristotelian worldview, which, as we all know, was since proven wrong on most subjects." What does that say about modern physics (and other sciences)? Without having the Rambam here to ask him, do you think that now that Aristotelian metaphysics has been debunked, he might transfer his entire שיטה to Newtonian/quantum physics/chemistry/biology? Would he possibly hold that some physicist in Hebrew University (let's say he believes in God) is superior to RCK, because he occupies most of his day with physics? Would that be the modern day equivalent of the philosopher over the Talmudist?

      Or, am I to understand from your line "it is intimately related to his absolute optimistic faith in the Aristotelian worldview" that it is, for some reason, דוקא the Aristotelian worldview that was consistent with his superiority of the philosopher over the Talmudist, but not modern sciences?

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    41. Mekharker:

      "As I mentioned many times, we cannot just disregard words of Chazal."

      Of course not, I never said we should "disregard words of Chazal;" however I have said that we always have to learn from, engage with, analyze, struggle with, confront head on the lessons of Torah, tanakh, Chazal, Rishonim, etc. not simply accept ANY of same at face value. And as I suggested above, and in other places, sometimes that process includes learning from those sources what NOT to do.

      To the extent that anything in the Pesachim 49a sugya is meant literally, it is certainly in our mesora as a lesson in how NOT to be. to the extent that you (or Ely or anyone else here) suggest it is meant hyperbolically, then I do not really understand your objection (or Ely's etc.) to what I said. you're not taking it at face value either.

      "We do however look to the interpretation of the Rishonim. If they say something is not to be taken literally or qualify something, that is one thing. For us to say on our own..."

      This might be the real point of departure / disagreement between you and I; I believe that Rishonim (or other meforshim) may or may not address a particular issue that is apparent to me. That doesn't prevent me from delving into and being a new link in the chain of torah learning. I don't believe that learning Torah is just about reading what other people wrote (regardless of how great they might have been); it is also about me (and you too) adding to the mesora. but we can agree to disagree, I suppose.

      "...now this entire folio of the Talmud is to be disregarded is another."

      again, not disregarded.... struggled with, learned from. With PERHAPS a lesson being: be extremely careful with your words, because even if I say something hyperbolically (such as "I want to gut you as a fish"), then a real world consequence might just be fomenting the hatred which is suggested the R. Hiyya.


      Ely:

      "In all seriousness and respectfulness, it's a slippery slope from that type of talk down to the abyss where @Uriahs Wife is!"
      I don't know enough about @Uriah's Wife to take much from this. But I do know that I don't think it is a slippery slope "down" towards any "abyss" to say that learning Torah with an eye towards understanding that Torah is nothing if not a blue print toward a better world and MUST be learned from that perspective. It might however be a slippery slope upwards.

      "I understand what's bothering you, but lets try more traditional reconciliatory methods to deal with it!"

      Traditional reconciliatory methods is exactly what I have been using. At first you said "Jeffrey, I applaud your courageous admittance that you find the views of chazal to be abhorrent. You might as well make up a whole new reIigion once your'e at it." but now you SEEM to agree that the CHAZAL were not being literal (but, to the extent they you would agree it has absolutely no place in the Judaism) and therefore you agree with the point I was making. so what's the problem - that I said the language of gutting someone like a fish is vile?? you SEEM to agree that it is meant to shock and should not be taken literally. That I pointed it out using an equally shocking metaphor of Eichmann?? doesn't that just put me in company with exactly what Chazal did? If your answer is "they can say it, we can't" I simply disagree. I think our role is to challenge and be challenged. to really let Torah affect us intellectually, passionately, emotionally, physically, religiously.

      More to the point, I think that Chazal would whole heartedly AGREE with me and WELCOME the my metaphor that anyone who could possibly see Chazal as being serious is simply completely missing the boat and misinterpreting them in a very dangerous way. and that person must have a huge defect in their perspective on Torah.

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    42. Well, I certainly did not intend to have that type of conversation!

      I say Lehavdil because while you asked me to comment on Rambam's שיטה, I do not personnally hold exactly like him, even though I do not feel the difference to be very big as far as encouraging learning sciences is concerned. But yes according to the Rambam there are no 'secular' studies, in as much as -all the world being G.d's creation- everything you learn can only help you understand the world better, and understanding the world better can only bring you closer to G.d.
      RSR Hirsch or Rav Zadoc Hakohen of Lublin's doctrines, among others, differ from this only in that they only give this elevation to studies which really are pursued in order to understand Torah, but not in general, because you could have other motives. If I remember well, the latter goes so far as to say that even the Torah itself can be called 'Hokhma 'hitsonit if not learned with the right motives (and one can for sure find something like this in the former's critic of the Wissenschaft des Judentums).

      I cannot answer in lieu of the Rambam as to what he would hold today, but let's try anyway, just for fun. Disclaimer: what follows is probably utter nonsense and shouldn't in the least be seen as any type of serious inquiry into the Rambam's doctrine.

      -In my opinion the two main differences between modern science and aristotle's science are: 1) Aristotle didn't base his theories on experimental proof, but on logic. The two can seem similar, but there is a world in between. When you dicuss logics uniquely, what makes sense to you is regarded as true, whereas if you need proof, you make sense of the facts you already have. 2) Aristotle created a system in which physics and metaphysics, closely intervowen, cannot be separated (because they follow the same logic see 1). You either accept it as a whole, or you completely reject it.
      So by choosing to accept it as Maase Mekava and Maase Bereshit, the Rambam had to make his own the whole worldview (he changed precious little from textbook aristotelism. Mind you, some rationalists in his own time opposed some of Aristotle's ideas, even sometimes making fun of it, think Kuzhari). And that woldview includes the ideal of the philosopher, towering aloof on top of the world, having attained moral perfection. The addition of the Rambam to this is that G.d gave us the perfect way to practically get to it, where philosophy alone cannot really force the human nature.
      It follows in my opinion that the Rambam didn't think the philosopher is superior because he knows better, but because he can reach a superior moral state of mind, so no, there is no reason a modern physicist should be better than someone who does try to elevate his morals through Torah. However, it doesn't mean he wouldn't still say that Maase Bereshit is what modern Science says about physics and Maase Merkava is some 'revised' Aristotelian Metaphysics, and therefore the philosopher could still theoretically be on top of both. But this is really just speculation, and we could also say that the modern rejection of Aristotle would have made him abandon that idea.

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    43. @Jew Well
      Quite the grandstanding will you?
      Let's recap. I called out the notion of arguing with chazal as completely out line and theologically dangerous. You crashed on scene with a machine gun hollering how I'm "an authorized thinking crusader troll", while absurdly accusing me of insisting Chazal comments are to be taken literally.
      The מורה נבוכים, besides being irrelevant to my point, is talking about accepting nature defying phenomena as described in chazal at face value. It's a gross misapplication to the specific of our discussion, which is the clear disdain Chazal are directing at the Am Haaretz of their time. Projecting a preconceived moral value of peace and love for all, and whining how it can't really mean it because it violates ואהבת לרעיך כמוך is way out of bounds of that Rambam.
      While the quartering of the Am Haaretz on Yom Kippur is clearly not meant in literal terms (and no amount of fantasizing is going to change the fact that I never said otherwise), there is no way around the perception Chazal give us of the Am Haaretz.
      Jeffrey's insistence was and remains out of bounds, his entertaining "pretzeling" of the Gemara to criticize chazals attitude notwithstanding.
      Your attack on what I've said is unnecessarily nasty, completely unwarranted, and more importantly unsubstantiated by the Rambam you point to.
      Selective comprehension seems to be your issue here.
      Time to move on indeed.
      Ely

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    44. Thanks JW, that was very interesting and informative. I agree to a large extent. But here's my problem with the Rambam's idea of science >= Torah. And this doesn't necessarily have to do with how you learn him, or anybody else, rather I have a problem with the Rambam himself. And who am I to argue with the Rambam, but תורה היא וללמוד אני צריך.

      It gets back to the conversation before about the "plain meaning of Chazal." And despite all the interpretations one can give for different מאמרי חז"ל, when they talk about תלמוד תורה כנגד כולם, when they talk about לימוד התורה in hundreds of places, can there really be any הוה אמינא that they include secular studies in this?? That they include anything that makes you understand the world better?? That they include as תלמוד תורה, or better than תלמוד תורה, all the חכמות הטבע that they knew about and practiced themselves?? Such as animal life, plant life, agriculture, medicine, mathematics, magic, demonology, idolatry practices, languages?? That they would include this as equal to or better than תלמוד תורה? Yes, I know about the importance of this knowledge, and we see it in Chazal themselves, but equating it to Torah is a whole new level. Chazal clearly separated them.

      In my extremely humble opinion, and I shudder as I type this, כביכול if the Rambam really held such a thing, then it would just be proof that the Rambam was wrong. It would be exactly as if the Rambam had said מותר להדליק אש בשבת. The only reason why I view the Rambam as an authority in the first place is because (I think) he is faithful conveyor of the מסורה of חז"ל. And if he says something seemingly totally כנגד חז"ל, we try to reconcile it. We don't just say, well, it's seemingly totally against חז''ל, but the Rambam said it, so it's must have validity. Here's a thought experiment: what would have happened if the Rambam had ח"ו denied תחית המתים in his famous letter, instead of confirming it?

      I don't know, maybe this is all just a long-winded way of saying that the Rambam was controversial, which we already knew?

      Delete
    45. Fine. One last try.

      When did I 'absurdly accuse you of insisting Chazal comments are to be taken literally?
      Answer - never. I rightfully accused you of insisting they should be accepted no matter what, which you totally and stupidly did, choosing the path of rejection to someone who so much as expressed his sentiments about this gemara, instead of trying to explain. But I have a scoop for you: No one is ever going to change his sentiments because you told them they're wrong. That's why the Rambam says there are two possibilities for someone who intimately finds Chazal to be obviously clashing with basic tenants of religion. Either he can understand what they really meant, or he won't have any other choice but to formally disagree with them, because you don't chose these things.

      When did I agree with you that arguing with any Chazal is beyond the pale?
      Answer - never. I merely said it's not so good, but better than swallowing it as face value (which I did not accuse you of doing, remember?). And yet you wrote as if I did agree 'it's totally out of line'.
      So for the record, it is NOT beyond the pale according to many authorities (probably most), as long as it does not go against any clear halakha. I am NOT going to discuss this issue with you, but see for example the אבן עזרא in his introduction to איכה.

      'The מורה נבוכים, besides being irrelevant to my point, is talking about accepting nature defying phenomena as described in chazal at face value.' Wrong, he is talking about Chazal deriving impossible things from Pesukim, and saying if you decide not to believe it it's not against the faith (meaning that if you do believe the neviim meant this, then it can be). But either way, I fail to see the difference, especially as here hating every עם הארץ is a איסור מן התורה so taking it as face value is clearly going to make you reject a מצוה.

      Yeah, yeah, I know, peace and love are not in fashion anymore these days, they're so 2019, time has come for war and cynism and all, yeah. The Torah totally wants us to engage in sectarism and civil wars, like in the good old days, sure. No doubt.

      And if you think the gemara does not lend itself to Jeffrey's understanding, then tell him why instead of coming whining to me about it.

      Delete
    46. Jeff:

      I agree that does seem to be the underlying point of contention between us, although I am still waiting for you to show me precedent of Rishonim or Achronim disregarding or modifying Chazal (to be 100% honest, I was able to think of one other instance besides for eating out of the sukkah on shemini atzeres, which does not have any halachic justification. At one point in history, a certain clear rabbinic enactment with great consequence seems to have been completely forgotten in a certain region. Some Poskim ruled that it's tough luck and the locals must suffer the consequences, while others created a very dubious heter (many of the later poskim ruled that this heter is not to be relied on). Although I still don't think that can be considered precedent because they were trying to correct an unfortunate situation ex post facto, not modify the Torah to conform with the times).

      Jew Well:

      Aha! So if you have to go back to R. Hirsch, I rest my case. R. Hirsch was an innovator and similar perhaps only to the Rambam and his talmidim in holding secular studies as an ideal. Being of Yekkisheh ancestry, I do not have the same temerity as my good friend happygolucky does to suggest that they are mistaken, and if one would like to pursue secular studies as an ideal, he definitely has those with broad enough shoulders to rely on. However, the SIMPLE UNDERSTANDING of Chazal in many places, as well as the understanding of the majority of poskim throughout the ages is that other than their use in practical application, there is no inherent value in becoming a scientist/philosopher/historian etc.

      "And if you think the gemara does not lend itself to Jeffrey's understanding, then tell him why instead of coming whining to me about it."

      Actually, unlike the Rishonim, Jeffrey is not offering an understanding. He's suggesting we chuck out the whole gemara - lock, stock and barrel.

      Delete
    47. "So for the record, it is NOT beyond the pale according to many authorities (probably most), as long as it does not go against any clear halakha. I am NOT going to discuss this issue with you, but see for example the אבן עזרא in his introduction to איכה"

      I was quite surprised to see this. Someone who seems to be somewhat of a scholar as yourself surely knows that the Ibn Ezra was an outlier with his tendency to disagree with aggadic statements, and strongly denounced for such by both Rishonim and Achronim:

      First the famous Maharshal:

      ...וגזר עליו ללמוד ספרי החכם ר' אברהם אבן עזרא, אשר לא היה בעל תלמודא. ורוב בנינו ופירושו על דרך התכונה והטבעי, וקבלת חיצונות. והתריס בכמה מקומות נגד דברי חכמי התורה והתלמוד. או מבלי השגחה או מבלי ידיעה. וכבודו במקומו מונח, כי חכם גדול היה, ואין משיבין את הארי. כי אין הולכין אחר פירושיו, לא לחיוב ולא לפטור, לא לאסור ולא להתיר. כי עשה כמה פעמים נגד ההלכה, אפילו נגד חכמי המשנה, ונגד אמוראי התלמוד בלי מספר. ואמת שמעתי אומרים עליו, שכך היה מכריז, והיה מודיע לרבים, שאינו רוצה לישא פנים, אלא לפרש עד מקום אשר שכלו יגיע, לולי הקבלה. כאשר רימז במקצת מקומות בפירוש התורה, לולי הקבלה הייתי אומר כו'. אף על פי כן לא צדקו דבריו בעיני. ולפי דעתי שכבר נתן עליו הדין. כי נתן יד למינים ולצדוקים, ולקלי האמונה...

      And since you quoted earlier from R' Tzadok, I allowed myself the liberty to quote from this Chasidishe sefer as well:

      דרכו [של ראב"ע] לבלתי נשוא פנים גם לחז"ל בכל מקום שלא נראו בעיניו שארי ליה מאריה
      שיחות מלאכי השרת יח:ב

      And you surely know the Ramban in his hakdama to his pirush on the Torah, after writing beautiful things about the commentaries whom preceded him, writes about the Ibn Ezra:

      ועם רבי אברהם בן עזרא. תהיה לנו תוכחת מגולה ואהבה מסותרה. והאל אשר ממנו לבדו אירא.

      Historians (Bernard Septimus, 'Open Rebuke and Concealed Love: Nahmanides and the Andalusian Tradition,' Cambridge, Mass, 1983 ) are of the opinion that the only reason that he was not more overt was because the Ibn Ezra was his teacher in Kabbala.

      However we do at times find him to be more explicit:

      וזהו זהב רותח יוצק בפי החכם הזה רבי אברהם אבן עזרא ממה שהשיב על רבותינו בענין פינחס וזולתו במקומות הרבה.
      בראשית מו:טו ד"ה שלשים ושלש
      And even the Rishonim who seemed more benevolent did not take to highly to his scholarship:

      ...ואף על פי שהחכם [ראב"ע] לא היה רב בקי בדינין אבל כשר היה לעדות ומעדותו למדנו שכך היו הספרים הקדמונים כתובים...
      תשב"ץ ח"א סי' נא

      I could go on [the Chida writes that all things that are arguing on Chazal were forged by Karaite talmidim! Yeah, unlikely I know, but it shows that the general consensus was NOT like the Ibn Ezra. I have other mareh mekomos as well] but I'm really trying to keep my posts short here.

      Delete
    48. @Jew Well
      "That's why the Rambam says there are two possibilities for someone who intimately finds Chazal to be obviously clashing with basic tenants of religion."

      He says nothing of the sort as I’ve been consistently pointing out. See the end of my post.

      "So for the record, it is NOT beyond the pale according to many authorities (probably most), as long as it does not go against any clear halakha."

      I agree the disagreeing with Chazals interpretations isn't heretical in the views of many. I assume that's the point you're laser focused on. That doesn't make it acceptable, especially when it's a moral sentiment, not a dry interpretation. As a matter of fact, it's been absolutely unacceptable to mainstream Judaism for quite some time now.

      "either way, I fail to see the difference, especially as here hating every עם הארץ is a איסור מן התורה so taking it as face value is clearly going to make you reject a מצוה."

      Your failure to see the difference is inexcusable. One more time, The Rambam is talking about scientific impossibilities, as he elaborates on in פירוש המשניות סנהדרין. Your question about ואהבת לריעך כמוך is a standard קשיא on the sugya. It doesn't constitute by any stretch of the imagination the נמנעות the Rambam refers to. It clearly didn't bother the many Rishonim and achronim discussing the sugya, does that tell you anything? What level of brilliance is necessary to think of it? Rendering a sugya untenable from such an elementary q in the face of all its commentarys is completely ridiculous.
      Your insistence at equating the Rambams approach rejecting "impossibilities" to this discussion is irrational, unprecedented, and intellectually dishonest.
      Ely

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    49. @Mekharker
      LOL. So if I write to you what the Sifra meant, it's fine, but because RSR Hirsch said it before me then it's an innovation? His understanding is the clear explanation of this braitha, and if it wasn't, that would mean it's going against the gemara that gets gepaskened by the Rama.
      RSR Hirsch was not at all an innovator in this regard, I already brought sources from leading poskim, and I could go with other examples including the Ramchal in דרך חכמה or the Baal Shem of Michelstadt who both devised learning programs for the youth which include learning science.

      Unless I am terribly mistaken, this is not at all what leads 'your good friend' to the rejection of Rambam.

      'He's suggesting we chuck out the whole gemara'
      It seems we did not read the same thing in Jeffrey's comments, then. I read an explanation of the gemara which, as I told him, doesn't quite fit with the words. He is free to disagree with me though.
      And I'm afraid your current answer to him is a conflates disagreeing with chazal on haggadeta, which like I wrote many Rishonim occasionnally did - once again I do not wish to delve into this topic, I'll just bring the same example of the אבן עזרא in his introduction to איכה), and paskening against them, which I do agree is theoretically beyond the pale (although this occurence or the שיטה of the פחד יצחק ח"י ערך צידה are interesting exceptions).

      Delete
    50. NO, most of the sources that you brought me DID NOT advocate learning other chachmos for the inherent value of the chachma, as I pointed out already. Would you quit distorting them?

      This was Jeffrey's 'understanding' of the gemara:

      "Really?? that's the quote you go for? the same page in context explains the NAZI like attitude of the "talmidei Chachamim" towards the "unlearned" they think of them as vermin, as someone who should be stabbed, cut open like a fish. etc...

      ...Even if the statement by R. Hiyya in the Gemara is correct that the unlearned hate the talmidei chamaim, the reason is clear as day from the text itself: it is precisely due to the disgusting views the talmidei had for the unlearned....

      ...I'll tell you if someone called me "vermin" and my wife a "creeping animal" and said it was halakhically permitted to stab me (with or without a bracha) and gut me like a fish etc., I would probably hate them too. I mean isn't that the kind of stuff the Nazi's said?? to quote Indiana Jones: "Nazis - I hate these guys!"...

      ...I mean seriously, what R. Hiyya said is akin to Adolf Eichmann, on trial for organizing the final solution and the vile extermination of Jews like vermin inflicting the most gruesome of deaths, explaining to Israeli Attorney General Gideon Hausner from the witness stand, "but I have a good defense - the Jews hate me." And then the entire court room and everyone watching broadcasts of it around the world just collectively sit dumbfounded and say: "ummm, DUHHHH!!"

      I do not see any "pirush" of the gemara, rather a belittlement of it together with some pretty shocking comparisons. Am I missing something here?

      In regards to the Ibn Ezra disagreeing with Aggadata, see my comment from last night which was delayed in release from moderation.

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    51. "RSR Hirsch was not at all an innovator in this regard"

      So who came up with Torah Im Derech Eretz (not the mishna's version referring to work, but referring to secular studies), the Vilna Gaon?

      Delete
    52. JW, I'm sure you can find places where the Ibn Ezra and others seemingly argue with Chazal. But תמהתי עליך that you brought the Ibn Ezra in the introduction to Eicha that is a ראיה לסתור.

      אנשי אמת יבינו במדרשי קדמונינו הצדיקים, שהם נוסדים על קשט, וביציקת מדע יצוקים. וכל דבריהם כזהב וככסף...

      If anything, this would suggest that when he seemingly argues with Chazal, he is just saying the pshat is not like their Medrash, but in truth the Medrash is נוסדים על קשט, וביציקת מדע יצוקים. And like the Ibn Ezra is fond of saying in many places where the pshat is not like the Medrash, אולי יש בה סוד.

      This is not to say you're wrong, I have a list somewhere of Rishonim who argue with Chazal in pshat. For one, the רמב"ן על התורה seems to do this a lot.

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    53. @Jew Well, that's a great link.

      Incidentally, the Maharal that he cites about בכח is a good way to distinguish between *some* UOs & *some* MOs, where their general conduct is the same. The UO is attuned to his בכח, while the MO has dismissed it. (Chazon Ish, RY Weinberg, RS Schwab, and even the MO YU president RDN Lamm have said this approximate idea.)

      Delete
    54. B"H, I believe I have evidence that the understanding of the Rambam is not like Kellner and (allegedly) Rav Kapach, that "there is no such thing as secular studies" or that "anything that helps us understand the world" >=Torah. 

      And my evidence is that the Rambam knew many other disciplines besides Aristotelian philosophy. He knew languages, mathematics, history, and most prominently, medicine. These are definitely disciplines that help us understand the world. Yet nowhere does he suggest that these are included in מעשה בראשית or טיול בפרדס or אין דורשין. The חכמת הטבע he talks about in Moreh and in יסודי התורה does not include these, it does not include every discipline that helps us understand the world. Rather, it is exactly what he describes in there in יסודי התורה, Aristotelian physics.

      Now, why דוקא Aristotelian physics? It could be related to your point 1, that this is an inherently logical way of understanding the world. But if I may expand on your point 2, about the connection between physics and metaphysics, I would suggest the Rambam saw a direct connection from מעשה בראשית to מעשה מרכבה to חכמת אלהות. That by understanding how all the parts of the world fit together, ממטה למעלה, this takes us directly to the Prime Mover, to an understanding of Hashem, to the extent we can understand Him. I would suggest that this relationship to the Prime Mover is an inherent feature of Aristotelian physics, but not necessarily of language, medicine, or history, certainly not in the way the Rambam describes in יסודי התורה.

      Delete
    55. @Jeffrey
      No, that isn't the traditional method. That would be to look at the Rishonim and Achronim and see how they explain the Gemara. The problem isn't when you said the gutting isn't literal, it's that you reject Chazals overall message here which couldn't be clearer if they tried, and astonishingly assert that what we are supposed to learn is what not to think! This would be funny if it wasn't sad! The notion this is acceptable is a clear indictment on the non traditional institutions you were educated in.
      Are you aware that aspects of the Gemara in Pesachim are codified להלכה by the Rambam and שלחן ערוך? See אבן העזר סימן ב סעיף ו, specifically be sure to see the Remah.
      In your worldview, what happens to this Halacha? As even your staunch defender @JW asserts

      "So for the record, it is NOT beyond the pale according to many authorities ... as long as it does not go against any clear halakha"

      Well, we have a clear Halakha, do we not?

      Delete
    56. Mekharker:

      you and others here (including Ely) are clearly being intentionally obtuse and misconstruing and outright ignoring my statements.

      you repeatedly accuse me of "disregarding the words of Chazal" I have explicitly stated multiple times that I am doing no such thing. I am doing the exact opposite. I am learning deep lessons from them; which to be frankly honest is much more than you are doing.

      you "do not see any 'pirush' of the gemara, rather a belittlement of it together with some pretty shocking comparisons. Am I missing something here?" (you 9/5/22 2:40pm). Yes, you are absolutely missing something here. You missed an entire potential lesson I raised with regards to this Sugya (my comment 9/4/22 5:52pm): Hatred breeds hatred. If Chazal say they want to gut someone like a fish, it is absolutely human nature that that person is likely going to hate Chazal. and R. Hiyya and R. Akiva might be teaching that point clearly. so what's the message?? change the tone, be careful with your words. But you are stuck in your elitism. Your "disdain" for the Jewish people. you think quoting this Sugya and using it as support for your ridiculous assertion that there's something wrong with non-chareidi Jews ("You hate us because you hate us" your coment 9/1/22 6:26am) is appropriate. you are wrong.

      and Ely uses this Sugya as seemingly saying it is perfectly fine and acceptable (and apparently we should emulate) that there is "clear disdain Chazal are directing at the Am Haaretz of their time." that it is wrong of me to be "[p]rojecting a preconceived moral value of peace and love for all, and whining how it can't really mean it because it violates ואהבת לרעיך כמוך is way out of bounds... [my] insistence [that maybe we should learn from Chazal how not to act] was and remains out of bounds, [my] entertaining "pretzeling" [whatever that means] of the Gemara to criticize chazals attitude notwithstanding. (Ely 9/4/22 9:14pm)

      you are a self-declared "raging, frothing-at-the-mouth Talibanist, stuck in the 18th century!" (your comment to RNS post "Can My Daughter Sing?" 8/19/22 8:19am), and your fanatical statements here just support that. You ignore almost everything I say, and misconstrue the rest.

      You state that you are "still waiting for [me] to show [you] precedent of Rishonim or Achronim disregarding or modifying Chazal." (I above showed that I never said to "disregard" Chazal, you are the only one in this "conversation" who repeatedly says that.) but I did bring repeated examples from the days of Torah, Chazal, rishonim, acharonim. you just always had the same answer.... "not good enough." (and now you dismiss Jew Well and his citation to Ibn Ezra as well). if it doesn't fit squarely into your little box, you don't want to hear of it. Well here's news, I don't have to convince you. I am content in knowing that nearly every (I want to say "absolutely every", but I hesitate to be so borad) psak halacha over the course of the millenia have in one or way or other tried to figure out how to apply Judaism to a real life situation that did not precisely exist in that same way before. that is what it is about. It's fitting Judaism into the real world (you choose to call it the "secular world"), but make no mistake, the world is the world. there is only one world that we live in, and it was created by G-D, warts and all. We have to live in it and we have to bring torah into it and we have to engage with it.



      Delete
    57. ELY,

      "Your question about ואהבת לריעך כמוך is a standard קשיא on the sugya... It clearly didn't bother the many Rishonim and achronim discussing the sugya, does that tell you anything? What level of brilliance is necessary to think of it? Rendering a sugya untenable from such an elementary q in the face of all its commentarys is completely ridiculous."

      IT seems to be your suggestion that anything of value to say about Torah has already been said; but if so, why learn torah???? Nope. wrong again!! Mekharker and Ely, you two really take the cake. You would rather just take freeze dried Judaism off the shelf once in a while and look at it like an exhibit at a museum; well, have fun with that. I'll be busy living it and incorporating it into ever fiber my life and being.

      how much brilliance is necessary to think of it??? clearly just a smidge more than you possess.

      Delete
    58. Ely,

      great quote to Even HaEzer Siman 2 Sif 6.
      That's the same paragraph that says that the Gedolei HaDor are NOT Talmidei Chachamim!! "L'Halakha"

      Thanks, I'll remember that one.

      Delete
    59. Had a very busy day, and now I don’t know where to start anymore.

      I’ll just answer first the subject you all had a problem with (but not the same), my quoting the Ibn Ezra in Eikha to prove that arguing with Chazal over haggadeta is not beyond the pale.
      First of all, there seems to be a misunderstanding with some of you, especially Mekharker, who seems to believe I was trying to show it’s sometimes necessary to argue with Chazal, which the Ibn Ezra is a bad proof of because he’s been very much called on that. But that’s not the case. That could also be argued for, but it’s not necessary for this discussion. Therefore I chose to quote the Ibn Ezra davka, because, as it is a famous cause, no one is going to say I’m wrong, he didn’t do it, he didn’t mean it, whatever, as will be the case if I bring that Rashi in Yeshaya or the Ramban or Radak or Abarbanel (I also have such a list, happy) etc... , and also because, for the same reason, it is obvious that everyone was informed of this. And yet no one ever said the אבן עזרא is beyond the pale for it and no one ever opposed learning his Peirush. I also picked this particular אבן עזרא because it is clear from it that he did know he was explaining against Chazal (not like those who say he didn’t learn much gemara), and also because there he does it on some minor questions, which could not have escaped Chazal and which could easily be explained away, and still he chose to disagree, and still no one ever said he is beyond the pale. I do not read the same thing in those words as you, happy, I read an apology showing he still respects the words of Chazal even when he disagrees.

      Now on to personal answers, and the one to happyetc.. being largely overdue, it shall be the first.
      For your penultimate comment: ‘can there be any הוה אמינא etc…? I guess so. You do not have to agree with the Rambam, but why does it need to be formulated in a ‘right or wrong’ way? I have no answer to your thought experiment, I do not know how he would have done that.

      For your last comment: the Rambam’s medicine is also ruled by Aristotelism (the theory of humors matches the theoy of the four elements). Languages and history were not considered science (but history or linguistics were still necessary to give the matter of work to the philosopher, and as such underly all other sciences), and mathematics are at the core of Aristotle’s physics. So I don’t believe you’re right about that.

      Delete
    60. Next in line: Ely
      You consistently pointing out to something and you proving it are two very different things.
      ‘As a matter of fact, it's been absolutely unacceptable to mainstream Judaism for quite some time now.’ By decision of your gracious majesty? It is not beyond the pale, and I’m not ‘laser focused’ on this, you forced me to write this by assuming I think like you.
      If scientific impossibilities are reason enough to reject Chazal’s Drashot, all the more so for doctrinal impossibilities.
      ‘It clearly didn't bother the many Rishonim and achronim discussing the sugya, does that tell you anything?’ Did you not read the link I sent to either? No less than Rav Sherira Gaon wrote:
      אטו אדם שיש לו מוח בקדקדו סובר שכל עם הארץ מותר לעשות בו כן?!
      The ‘clear halakha’ you mention has nothing to do with accepting or not this whole sugya, there is no need for it to understand one should not marry someone who is notמדקדקת במצוות . Does the verse not say כי יסיר את בנך מאחרי etc…?

      Next in line: Anonymous September 5, 2022 at 5:37 PM
      You’re welcome.

      Last but not least: Mekharker
      I do not understand your objection. I also am not speaking about the inherent value of the chochma, and brought to you a long comment by RSR Hirsch explaining their value is only in as much as they are pursued as subservient to Torah (unless you didn’t even read it and just decided that since it comes from an ‘innovator’, you’re free to just dismiss it).In fact, in the Frankfurt Realschule, secular sciences and German were collectively called ‘Complements to study of the Bible and Talmud’. It seems you’re conflating my defending of learning science with the Rambam’s doctrine, which does match this description (which in my opinion would be enough not to throw around sentences like: ‘Uh, when Chazal were talking about learned or unlearned, they were referring to TORAH, not a college degree!’).

      The innovations of תורה עם דרך ארץ are manyfold. In what interests us, the systematisation of this education was an innovation from the cheder model, but before that many fathers hired private teachers to teach their sons the sciences, and many young men learned them by themselves, including a great proportion of the gedolim of the generations. It’s strange you should dismiss the Gaon of Vilna’s adherence to this. Did he not intend his trigonometry book איל משולש to be read ?

      You seem to have missed all of Jeffrey’s comments since.

      Delete
    61. Jew Well:

      I believe you intentionally or unintentionally completed distorted my comment to Nachum. My point was that some communities pride themselves on their 'education', whilst their Torah education is severely lacking. I was not implying that their is no use for secular education, nor that it is completely irrelevant to Torah. But it seems at this point you agree with me about that and we are just arguing about semantics. Which I actually find many times to be the case after multiple rounds of back and forth with sensible and educated people.

      About Jeff's comments, I don't think that saying that the Gemara is saying what NOT to say is an interpretation at all, especially, as Ely pointed out, R' Chiya is codified l'halacha.

      In all seriousness, and without any facetiousness, can you please send me the list of Rishonim that you have that argue with the gemara. My contact info is on my profile page. The Rashbam in his hakdama says that his grandfather's pirush was al pi midrashei chazal whereas his pirush is al pi derech hapshat, but I don't think that is called being cholek on chazal. אין מקרא יוצא מידי פשוטו, and חז"ל had a message they were imparting with the derech drush but it is not necessarily the poshut pshat. Do you have Rishonim doing more than that? After fighting about this with Jeffrey ad nauseum I would like to perhaps write something on it. I have a few isolated cases that it happens in halacha as well.

      Hatzlacha,

      מכרכר בכל עוז

      Delete
    62. Jew Well
      "if scientific impossibilities are reason enough to reject Chazal’s Drashot, all the more so for doctrinal impossibilities."

      I strongly disagree, regardless, a קשיא of the like of how can you run afoul of ואהבת לריעך כמוך is a far cry from a "doctrinal impossibility"! It is standard question, how can prohibition x be violated to do z.

      "Did you not read the link I sent to either? No less than Rav Sherira Gaon wrote:
      "אטו אדם שיש לו מוח בקדקדו סובר שכל עם הארץ מותר לעשות בו כן?!

      C'mon now. He is discussing killing the עם הארץ, all the Rishonim discuss that and offer different explanations as to why it might be permitted (if he is a real threat to your life), or explain it בלשון גוזמא. We are discussing a disdainful attitude, which is being accused of violating ואהבת לריעך כמוך.
      Try again.

      Delete
    63. Jew Well
      "And yet no one ever said the אבן עזרא is beyond the pale for it"
      Clearly you mean heretical, because as Mekharker showed he was roundly criticized. (I don't see the criticism limited to the notion the you must at times disagree but not that you can disagree, do you?) Did someone call someone heretical here? I must of missed it. What has been happening is that people here are rightfully calling out this idea of outright disagreeing with Chazal as out of line with traditional Judaism.
      True that.

      Delete
    64. JW, you could have brought other Ibn Ezras that argue with Chazal, where he doesn't apologize. His apology in Eicha actually casts a doubt on everywhere else where he argues on Chazal, that he always understood that there is possibly a סוד (as indeed he says in many other places). My preferred mareh makom is the Abarbanel in the introduction to Neviim, where he flat out argues with Chazal about the authorship of the Seforim. There, it is not a question of pshat vs Medrash (I think). And he apologizes by saying that Chazal themselves argued about some of them. Nu nu. But that doesn't mean it was right for him to do that. Somebody says about him regarding that (perhaps you know who, I forgot) שרי ליה מריה.

      About the Rambam, I'm not sure about formulating it in terms of right and wrong. But we can formulate it in terms of valid and invalid as regards our religion. If it is something that seems totally against Chazal להלכה ולמעשה, then the idea is simply invalid. It doesn't get validity just because (allegedly) the Rambam held it.

      About history and languages, whether they were considered "sciences" or not is besides the point, no? The point is that they were always considered things that help us understand the world. Unless somehow, the only things that are considered "things that help us understand the world" are "sciences" according to the idiosyncratic definitions of medieval Greco-Arabic philosophers. In which case, that would not be like Rav Kapach and Kellner at all.

      About medicines, even if that is related to Aristotle's ideas, surely the Rambam didn't include them in the חכמת הטבע that is מעשה בראשית. The Rambam had the vocabulary to talk about medicine, he valued it highly, he wrote books on it, he even brings a whole chapter on it in דעות, yet he doesn't say a word about it in יסודי התורה? You don't really think הדבש והיין רע לקטנים ויפה לזקנים is מעשה בראשית and is supposed to be kept secret, right?

      Delete
    65. @Mekharker

      Hard to me to believe you really agreed with me when you said basic understanding of Chazal forbids learning chochmot chitsoniyot, or when you flat-out dismissed RSR Hirsch as 'innovator', but I'm happy you do agree now. I don’t think Nachum himself meant to say the degree alone makes you superior, so I only distorted your comment if you distorted his before.

      Is the gemara never bringing examples of bad behaviour? I think the gemara in Taanith 24 about Rabbi Yossi Demin Yokrath is a good example (and yes, I know, some believe he was right, no need to turn everything to polemics, the basic understanding is, he was very wrong).

      I have no problem disclosing the full list here. It is not exhaustive, I noted it from different places, and/but I don't have חשק to go through it all to decide if you will understand like me or not (neither do I want to do it later when you'll ask me why I included this or that item).

      @Ely

      No, ואהבת לריעך כמוך is only the most apparent contradiction, because it is explicit, but there is דרכיה דרכי נעם, and a full Torah worldview this gemara seems to reject when learnt superficially.
      Rav Sherira Gaon flatly rejected the potential halachic implication of this gemara, so ק"ו it can't be unacceptable to reject the rest. See also אבן עזרא שמות כ,ב; רד"ק בראשית כ,ו; אורח חיים בראשית כג,ד.

      No, I do not mean heretical, I’m happy with the Rambam’s definition of that. I mean there is no interdiction, contrarily to your statements like: 'out of line with traditional judaism' or ‘totally out of line’, or ‘Straight up arguing with Chazal isn’t acceptable. Ever' or ‘You might as well make up a whole new religion once you’re at it’ (the latter litterally being an accusation of heresy).

      The criticism of Ibn Ezra comes from people who, like you, dislike it (but never said it’s unacceptable, Ibn Ezra was held in very high esteem by no less than Rabbenu Tam (!) and the Rambam), or want to show that they can explain Chazal like the Ramban (who nonetheless publicly declared, and noted it in his works, that he wasn’t compelled to believe every aggadetha of Chazal).

      @happyetc…
      Casting aside that we did not read this the same way, there is functionally no difference between saying ‘I disagree with this Chazal over pshat, but they must have meant some deep secret I can’t understand’, or saying ‘Chazal are wrong here’. Maybe you’re referring to תוספות יום טוב מדות ב,ג criticizing his siding with the christian exegetes and against Chazal in יחזקאל מ.

      I think the Rambam believed most Chazal held like him and most of the places you brin can be explained away and that is the halakha (and the other opinion in the few places clearly in opposition to this, is the one he dismisses in מורה נבוכים ג מח which says in ברכות לג: that מדותיו של הקדוש ברוך הוא אינן אלא גזירות. , which if it is the case, for sure there is no need for science and philosophy)

      You misunderstood my answer. What I meant is that physics is the tip of the iceberg, but of course all that comes with it is also included, just like the Rambam did not explain every verse of the Tanakh in הלכות דעות so too he didn’t go in every scientific detail, having exposed the basic structure of the theory is like ראשי פרקים. The Yad is also full of historic exposes, and certainly does use linguistics.

      Delete
    66. גדולי המפרשים נגד חז"ל
      - אוצר הגאונים חגיגה סז-סט; ברכות לב
      - ר' שמואל הנגיד: הקדמה לתלמוד
      - רש"י: בראשית ח,ד; ישעיה כו,יא; קהלת ח,יד; ע' מזרחי שמות כב,א ובמדבר כט,לט
      - אבן עזרא: יסוד מורא; הקדמת פירוש הקצר; שמות יג,יג; כא,ח; במדבר כז,יא; דברים כה,ו; כה,יב; ישעיה מ,א; איכה א,א; ועוד רבים.
      - רד"ק: מלכים א יז,כח; דה"י א ב,יח
      - רמב"ם: פירוש המשניות סנהדרין י,א, מורה נבוכים הקדמה; ב,ח; ובעיקר ג; הלכות דעות ד,יח וכ"מ שם;
      - רשב"ם: בראשית א,ה; לז,ב, שמות כא,ו ועוד רבים
      ספר המאור: ר"ה ג
      - ראב"ד: השגות הלכות גנבה ואבדה ט,ח
      - רמב"ן: ספר הויכוח בענין יום שנולד בו משיח; אגרת הקדש ב; שער הגמול בענין מדות הגהינם (ומכלל הן); פירוש עה"ת בראשית ח,ד; וכמעט בכל עמוד שם.
      - רבי אברהם בן הרמב"ם: מאמר על דרשות חזל"
      - עקדת יצחק: בראשית כב
      - ר"י אברבנאל: הקדמות כלליות ופרטיות לספרי הנביאים ובעיקר לספר יהושע, שמואל א ח,א (ושם גם בשם הרלב"ג), שמואל ב יא,א, יחזקאל מ
      - שלטי גבורים: עבודה זרה א
      - כסף משנה: הל' ממרים ב,א
      - אור החיים: הקדמה לפירוש בראשית ד"ה דע, ובכמה מקומות

      Delete
    67. Jeffrey:

      I just noticed your comment from September 5, 11:18 PM now. I originally did not see your 'pshat' in the gemara in pesachim (there are so many lengthy posts here back and forth by the same people that I think I can be excused for not seeing all of them!), but I don't think it is a pshat at all! Nowhere does the Gemara seem to reject what R' Chiya is saying, and it is in fact codified in halacha. The Rishonim have two different approaches to it, either that it is referring to an extreme example of an 'am ha'aretz', such as a moser and the like, whom it would be relevant for in its literal interpretation, or that it is indeed referring to a regular ignoramus and just meant as hyperbole. Even if such, Chazal intended to impart an underlying message. If you choose to ignore it, go ahead, but just realize that the sugya is quite clear at its intentions, as well as are all the classic commentaries for the last 1500 years.


      As I've mentioned many times, it is one thing to apply Chazal and halachah to modern day situations. That is indeed what all halachists have been doing since the completion of the Talmud! That is exactly what learning Torah and halachah means!!! It is something entirely different to dismiss Chazal, or to try and think of creative methods in saying that in current times and society, halachah xyz is not relevant anymore. Either you are the one who is being obtuse here, or you do not seem to be learned enough to understand the difference. You keep insisting that this is normal. I have found absolutely NO precedent for it. In fact, this has always been the definition of Orthodox streams vs. other streams of Judaism.

      Still waiting for your proof of 'everyone doing this'!!!


      "you are a self-declared 'raging, frothing-at-the-mouth Talibanist, stuck in the 18th century!'"

      Sheesh!! Have you absolutely no sense of humor??!! Gotta be more careful with what I say around here!!


      The whole discussion about the Ibn Ezra is a different topic, because that is Aggadata, whilst you and I were discussing Halachic practice, but I'm not sure why you're so flippantly dismissing my sources about him. The Rishonim and Achronim seemed to think that he was completely beyond the pale for disagreeing with Chazal!! So it is not I who dismissed him, it was the classic commentaries who did so!!

      Delete
    68. "there is functionally no difference between saying ‘I disagree with this Chazal over pshat, but they must have meant some deep secret I can’t understand’, or saying ‘Chazal are wrong here’"

      I disagree, there is a big difference in respect, and how one relates to people greater than himself. When Tosafos or R' Akiva Eiger says צ"ע or צע"ג or ה' יאיר עיני, that is very different than saying the Gemara is mistaken. So too when saying this Medrash is a סוד.

      "I think the Rambam believed most Chazal held like him"

      I don't see how. Kellner/R' Kapach/JW are making a very strong claim, that there is no difference between לימוד תורה and learning anything else about the world. That means there is no difference between learning Torah and learning Greek, geography, the habits of puffins, cooking, business, fishing, hunting, basket weaving, crop rotation, the weather in Stockholm on Oct 1, baseball statistics (or chariot racing statistics if you live in ancient Rome), the GDP of Ethiopia. All of these are facts about the world and by definition "help us understand the world". The claim that they are equivalent to תלמוד תורה is so self-evidently false, it's like claiming that Chazal held there is no difference between a lulav and a chicken. Since I know you are an intelligent person, I assume I must be misunderstanding the nature of your claim. I do not assume the same of Kellner, I believe he really means this.

      "physics is the tip of the iceberg"

      I still don't understand. Do you really think that somebody who knows lots of Greek and other languages (which helps us understand the world) is equivalent to somebody who knows a lot about מעשה בראשית=Aristotelian physics as described in יסודי התורה? Clearly not. Clearly they are not equivalent, and one who knows a lot of one doesn't necessarily know the other, and vice versa. I'm not sure what you mean by "tip of the iceberg".

      "The Yad is also full of historic exposes, and certainly does use linguistics."

      Agreed, I have no problem with the idea that all sorts of disciplines help us understand the Torah. My problem is with the extreme claim of Kellner/R' Kapach that those on their own >= Torah.

      In general I don't understand your argument with Ely/Mekarker. There is a full Torah worldview of peace and love, but there is also a full Torah worldview of separation from and rejection of bad people. We don't have to start trading מקורות for that, right?

      Delete
    69. Mekharker:

      "but I don't think it is a pshat at all! Nowhere does the Gemara seem to reject what R' Chiya is saying, and it is in fact codified in halacha. The Rishonim have two different approaches to it...Chazal intended to impart an underlying message. If you choose to ignore it, go ahead, but just realize that the sugya is quite clear at its intentions, as well as are all the classic commentaries for the last 1500 years."

      a few short responses:

      1. you are free to disagree with my proposed understanding of the Gemara (I am not saying it is the ONLY potential reading, simply a potential reading with a powerful message).

      2. I do not think the only way to understand Gemara (in general, not just this Sugya) is limited to what great rishonim had to say about it. That's my whole point we are not only free, but expected to (and charged with the obligation) to delve into the Gemara, Tanakh, and other sources and find new meanings that may have eluded earlier generations. It's called finding "Chidushim." It's a very Jewish idea. And inexplicably, in the Charedi world it seems to have unfortunately been left in the dust-bin of history.

      3. "Nowhere does the Gemara seem to reject what R' Chiya is saying" if you actually read what I wrote, I based it explicitly on NOT rejecting R. Hiyya; I explicitly said: "Hatred breeds hatred. If Chazal say they want to gut someone like a fish, it is absolutely human nature that that person is likely going to hate Chazal. and R. Hiyya and R. Akiva might be teaching that point clearly." (me 9/5/22 11:18pm)


      finally: "it is one thing to apply Chazal and halachah to modern day situations. That is indeed what all halachists have been doing since the completion of the Talmud! That is exactly what learning Torah and halachah means!!!"

      well that's essentially all I've been trying to say for our entire conversation, thanks for finally coming around to agree with me. and similarly, that's all that Modern Orthodox Jews want to do and are doing (teenagers acting like teenagers aside)

      looks like we're agreed. Shana Tova!!

      Delete
    70. @happyetc...

      Of course it's different! What I mean by 'functionally' is that at the bottom line he disagrees, however much respect he gives them.

      Now I understand what you mean! I must confess my comments probably don't really address this till here, but I think there are two things we should not conflate. Saying all sciences bring us closer to G.d doesn't mean they are all on the same level.
      So when the Rambam says philosophy and physics are equal or superior to studying Torah, he doesn't include all sciences. But when he says all science is necessary to fully understand Torah and the world and probably does mean there are no 'secular studies', he includes every piece of useful knowledge, but their value is only proportional to their help in actually coming closer to G.d.

      The core of my discussion with Ely and Mekharker is that I think it is very wrong to reject people just because they have difficulties accepting a gemara, and even more so if all they finally do is offering an alternative reading. One of the sources in my list, Rabbi Avraham ben Harambam, says there it's not only against raison to do so, but even Assur because of לא תכירו פנים במשפט, ולא תהדר פני גדול, and brings proof from the gemara in Chullin 124 האלהים אי אמר לי יהושע בן נון משמיה לא צייתנא ליה

      @Jeffrey

      I told you I don't think this is what Rabbi Akiva meant, but in yesterday's daf (כתובות סב:), Rabbeinu Tam does explain that it was a reaction to his being badly treated by Talmidei Chachomim like you suggested, but it seems he held that the TC did not do it out of hatred. That amud also happens to offer an example of criticizing the TC.

      Delete
    71. Jew Well,

      As I said to Mekharker, I don't think you need to agree with my reading. However, thanks for that citation, I'll have to take a look at it. I'm glad I'm not completely off the wall (as some people on this forum seem to suggest), and there is at least a little support (in the Rishonim "sources") for my suggestion - I already knew there was support from the Klal Gadol BaTorah (again, you do not need to agree).

      However, before looking at the source inside, and in light of your description of it, I could modify by suggestion from "hatred breeds hatred" to "acts which the receiver views as hateful, whether or not intended as hateful by the actor, will likely breed hatred" (or something like that - perhaps an even more powerful, if less pithy lesson)

      Delete
    72. Ok JW, I think I understand you better now. I would still say that צע"ג or סוד is functionally different than disagreeing. It's not just politeness. Besides for being an expression of humility, being תולה the טעות on yourself rather than the Sages, as the Rambam says, it also means you are still searching for an explanation of their words. You still want to learn their lesson, but can't understand it. And you are willing to be more open-minded about what explanations you would accept. As the Rambam says ואם יראה לו בו שום הפסד כפי מחשבתו, יפרשהו וידין אותו לכף זכות, ואפילו בפירוש רחוק.

      About science, now I see we mostly agree. I still wouldn't say there is no such thing as secular studies, המבדיל בין קודש לחול, but maybe on a chassidishe level, we can get the נצוצות הקדושה from everything. And since the Rambam distinguishes between different sciences, it leads back to the question of what type of modern science (if any) the Rambam would include in his special category. Which we already discussed.

      Delete
    73. @Jew Well
      "No, ואהבת לריעך כמוך is only the most apparent contradiction, because it is explicit, but there is דרכיה דרכי נעם, and a full Torah worldview this gemara seems to reject when learnt superficially.
Rav Sherira Gaon flatly rejected the potential halachic implication of this gemara, so ק"ו it can't be unacceptable to reject the rest."

      I'm not going to keep going in circles here. It's poor convincing (flat out ridiculous actually) that not accepting the literalistic description of gutting somebody is an impetus to reject the overall message based on the very much non doctrinal idea of דרכיה דרכי נועם. You've been much nicer lately, I won't call you names for this, let's agree to disagree.

      "The criticism of Ibn Ezra comes from people who, like you, dislike it"

      You're missing a crucial point here. I dislike it precisely because the bearers of traditional Judaism have disliked, criticized, and deemed it unacceptable. Not coincidentally so.

      Delete
  7. Where did you see this article from menachem rahat?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Someone please educate me, as my ability to read the news article R' Slifkin linked is limited.

    Were the papers of interest to this Charedi retirement home mogul the manuscript or source of a book that has been published, or just R' Kanievsky's personal notes?

    I'm trying to get at whether this person is a scholar, or a "collector".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The kipa article says it was the source text for his commentary on Yerushalmi. I believe his commentary was published in the Hebrew Artscroll Yerushalmi for the first time. I recall hearing that he wrote it in the first year that his father the Steipler gaon passed away, as notes for a daily Yerushalmi shiur that he gave in Lederman's Shul in his father's merit, and completed the entire Yerushalmi at the shiur in time for the first Yartzeit!

      Delete
    2. Someone made the sociological comment recently that as collecting most other things (art, etc.) is out in the charedi world, what's left is handwritten stuff. Hence the big market for it, even from, say, some guy who never opened a Yerushalmi in his life.

      I think the most valuable thing my parents may own is a handwritten letter from R' Elchanan Wasserman to my grandfather. They keep it on the wall and are not selling.

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    3. So the answer is that he is a collector -- he wants the notes because they're in R' Kanievsky's hand, not because they contain some hitherto unseen hiddushim or something.

      Perhaps not "oisgeveffen de gelt" but I could think of a lot more productive uses of that $7M.

      Delete
    4. Nachum - whoever said that doesn't know what he's talking about. There are Yeshivah-based art dealers I know personally in Jerusalem and Monsey, Mishpacha had a feature article on one of them (Klatzko) not long ago. I also know personally (because I have a small collection myself) guys with large sports memorabilia collections, some of them who have turned them into large online businesses. These are yeshiva guys I'm talking about, not merely orthodox. Unless you want to use a tiny and self-accomplishing definition, these are "Charedim". And I'm just talking about the guys, there are plenty of Charedi girls in the Pinterest world with collections of their own.

      We know ignorant secular Jews think charedim are all monolithic, but among ourselves we have to be better than that.

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    5. Unknown: No doubt. But we're talking about the ones who can lay down millions for one object. They're not buying Van Goghs.

      Delete
    6. Yeah, but not because its verboten, just because few people are interested in plunking down $7mm for anything, art included. And that's assuming the story is even true of course. (Not that it can't be. I happen to know the guy mentioned in the story decently well. His father was a mashgiach in a well known yeshivah, and the son grew up very yeshivish. He got rid of the exterior trappings (beard, payos, etc) in his early twenties, but still retains close ties with the yeshivish world he grew up in. He usually pays for all the food in Uman. Very big baal tzedakah. Maybe he felt he should use the money he's going to save this year on some other other "frum" purchase", like RCK's notes :)

      Anyway, minor point, לא חשוב

      Delete
    7. Or raising BMG kollel budget to $50 mil a year!

      Delete
    8. Joe Q., this guy actually spends his money quite well. As anon 11:09 pointed out, this is the same man who is singlehandedly responsible for raising the kollel stipend over at BMG last year from $350 a month to $1,000 a month, raising the budget by over $30M a year!!

      Hear that RNS??

      Delete
    9. OK, I've investigated, and the Globes story is bogus. The article says LS was planning to spend $7mm to buy RCK's manuscript commentary to the Yerushalmi. It sounded fishy to me, as I noted above (the "unknown" was me) (as if it makes a difference) because, while not impossible, $7mm is a LOT of money, even to a gvir. So I investigated, and read the introductions to the new עוז והדר edition of the Yerushalmi, where the commentary of RCK is already in print. And if you read the intros, you will see that RCK did not write it himself, but rather his son in law R. Braverman did, based on lectures RCK gave (apparently for only one single year of avelus for his father, and then only on shabbos). He also added in quite a bit himself. The only thing written from RCK himself is a single page in Kilayim, representing a commentary he started and never completed. RCK himself also writes an introduction, saying the same thing, that the commentary was written by his SIL based on the chaburah's he gave that year of Aveilus. Neither make any reference to handwritten notes to the Yerushalmi. Neither do the publishers in their own lengthy introduction, who refer to other handwritten marginalia wherever any such notes are extant. They already spared no expense in obtaining such notes, and clearly RCK would have given them to the publishers if he had any. The upshot is, NO SUCH NOTES EXIST. To the extent there is anything there may be a few tiny jottings not even worthy of being mentioned, and nobody, not even the biggest gvir collector, spends an astronomical seven million dollars on such things.

      Moral of the story # 87,342, 000: Don't believe everything you read.

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    10. Lawrence: Very interesting! Does that mean that this whole story is a hoax? I did hear about it 'on the street' a few months ago already. It seems like everyone knows about it. Is perhaps only the detail about the notes on the Yerushalmi inaccurate but the fight really is happening?

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    11. They've sold other things, like his shtender.

      Delete
    12. I dont know enough to say if the whole story is bogus. Most likely they did sell certain items (like his shtender, as Nachum says.) Why not, an item is worth whatever someone wants to pay for it. Some people pay for the undershirts of rock stars or the used sweat socks of athletes. Yes, its a sad commentary that celebrity culture has infiltrated even Charedi society, I agree. But can't blame people for making money.

      But the Yerushalmi angle is 100% bogus, and if so, it stands to reason that probably a lot of other things are wrong too. As if anyone is shocked that the media or this blog has its facts wrong.

      Delete
  9. Not that R Shuki and yanki forged it or manipulated R Chaim, but if they God forbid did, then it’s a kiyum of כל שאינו מלמד את בנו אומנות – מלמדו ליסטות

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good point. I think that in any case it is a type of theft, even if he "only" manipulated the good Rabbi.

      Delete
  10. When I first heard of this Din Torah, I actually had the same reaction as you. Although in all fairness, to many people, especially those of us living in the US, R' Chaim was never really "Da'as Torah" as much as he was a "Tzadik" or "Rebbe" like figure whom people would go to for brachos and yeshuos (I know, that is so 'not-rationalist!' But I happen to have a personal story with him that is nothing short of miraculous). 

    The whole 'R' Chaim the manhig' was a more recent rebranding which happened after the death of R' Elyashiv, and was treated with skepticism by many as R' Chaim's whole essence was completely removed from the going-ons of this world. I am not c"v detracting from R' Chaim's greatness, we can all understand that although the Rogitchover was a giant in Torah, he was not considered worldly enough by his contemporaries to lead the generation, as the Or Someach and R' Chaim Ozer did.

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  11. Also, the fact that they were able to get him to sign this doc is not necessarily evidence that he was in "cognitive decline". As Nahum pointed out, you did not provide any evidence of that. Elderly people, even those who are "with it", tend to be more gullible and easier to manipulate. And all the more so R' Chaim, with all the many papers being shoved in front of him to sign daily probably just trusted those around him with what he was signing and they unfortunately do not seem to be as scrupulous as some people would've liked to believe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And this was the *one* thing he signed on to without knowing what it was?

      Delete
    2. This is *exactly* the issue.

      Delete
    3. Again, I don't think we are disagreeing here! Don't worry Nachum, I'm sure we will still find plenty of things to disagree about!

      Delete
  12. Imagine the audacity of involving himself in peoples life decisions just because they asked him. Obviously knowing the entirety of Torah on his fingertips is no reason at all to consult with him on personal life matters. It's a newfangled Charedi invention you see.

    "And there is all the devastation to all those who were given faulty direction in various matters by someone who was unqualified to give it."

    What makes it faulty? Because you said so?
    Ely

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Imagine the audacity of involving himself in peoples life decisions just because they asked him."

      Untrue. Rav Chaim didn't involve himself. People came to him. He showed no interest in running things. Contrast his approach to the way more activist style of R' Shach.

      Delete
    2. "It's a newfangled Charedi invention you see."

      Indeed it is. Your sarcasm isn't the knock-down argument you think it is.

      Delete
    3. "Indeed it is"
      Except that it's a Mishna
      כל העוסק בתורה לשמה זוכה לדברים הרבה... ונהנין ממנו עצה ותושיה.
      The Mishna obviously is Charedi. When was it written?
      Ely

      Delete
    4. @ely, you are reading into the mishna that which is not there. A. The mishna is a polemic in order to praise learning lishma. B. It says one who learns lishma will be able to give good advice and not, as per charedi ideology, that they will definitely have the right answers (possibly even on all matters, depending on how charedi you are).
      C. Proof being that theought history, until charedism appeared in the last hundred years, noone behaved towards lomdei torch the way you suggest they should on the basis of this mishna.
      D. It applies to all lomdei Torah, not just the godol of the day who has alleged daas Torah.

      Delete
    5. No, not a fan, you cannot do that. You cannot write off a mishna which has been understood literally by the commentaries as 'a polemic in order to praise learning lishma.' Were the Aseres Hadibros also a polemic to get us to behave morally??

      In terms of item C, I'm not sure why you think it is a "Chareidi invention'. There are records of every gadol, from R' Yitzchok Elchanan Spektor, to the Noda B'Yehuda, to the Rambam, Rashba and Ramban fielding not just halachic queries, but personal and communal as well. Yes, in the age of travel and communication, those queries will be exacerbated tremendously, but the concept always existed. I will grant you however that the concept of "Rebbe"-like figure that does not dispense advice as the mishna is referring to, but rather 'himmelishe' statements is something that has not been heard of outside of the Chasidishe world until now.

      And in terms of item D, you are 100% correct, however the thinking is, the BIGGER of lomed Torah one is, the MORE 'alleged daas Torah' one has!! So if communication and travel is so easy nowadays, why not shoot straight for the top??

      Delete
    6. No, the 10 commandments are clearly intended as basic law. It's important to know what genre of text you are reading in order to understand it properly, no?
      With item c you conceded exactly my point.
      With item d it does not follow that the more one learns the more right you are likely to be. First, again, it's polemics but second, the text makes the claim that learning torah makes someone a good person to turn to but (again) not infallible and certainly nothing to do with daas torah. All it says is that learning lishma has benefits. You are misinterpreting it way too widely in order to fit your needs.

      Delete
    7. The 6th chapter of pirkei avos is not a Mishnah.

      Delete
    8. Not a fan:

      "No, the 10 commandments are clearly intended as basic law. It's important to know what genre of text you are reading in order to understand it properly, no?"

      Uh, ya. Of course it is. But nothing about the text or any of the commentaries there suggest that it is anything short of literal. I  took the time today to peruse the Meforshim on that Mishna and they all seem to be taking the Mishna quite seriously. Including the great rationalist Meiri, who spells out openly that one who learns Torah L'shma he gains insight to guide others in both materialistic matters as well as spiritual matters. So still not sure why it's a 'polemic in order to praise learning lishma.'

      With regard to item C, no I did not concede your point. You wrote that "Proof being that theought history, until charedism appeared in the last hundred years, no-one behaved towards lomdei torch the way you suggest they should on the basis of this mishna". My response was that this is nothing new, throughout history the leaders of the generations provided guidance and advice in all matters. My only exception was
      a Gadol answering complex questions with a simple כן or לא or coopting an enigmatic Talmudic statement to fit the context, which to my knowledge in indeed a novelty.

      "but second, the text makes the claim that learning torah makes someone a good person to turn to but (again) not infallible and certainly nothing to do with daas torah. All it says is that learning lishma has benefits. You are misinterpreting it way too widely in order to fit your needs."

      I never claimed that learning Torah makes one infallible. Only a Navi can make that claim. But the mishna does say that it gives one much deeper insight than others, therefore people defer to Da'as Torah with the assumption that the lomed Torah has a deeper understanding than them, even if it really seems to them to be otherwise. The same way one would defer to a world class medical expert, even if he did his own online research and arrived at a different conclusion. Do all mortals make mistakes? Of course! But those with deeper understanding make LESS mistakes than those with a more shallow understanding.

      Besides for the above, I believe there is a Tana d'Bay Eliyohu somewhere that says that a benefit of learning Torah L'shma is that one is granted siyata d'shmaya to provide proper guidance.

      Delete
  13. This is the same as the previous Satmer Rebbe, The Beirach Moshe. His own sons fight over his mental state and claim his will was written not in a sound state of mind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is is not the same because literally no-one ever thought the Beirach Moshe had da'as Torah.

      Delete
    2. I once was requested to translate a person's will from Hebrew to English. I guess there is a legalistic formula that a person adheres to, and then adds details. I remember that the person stated in the will, "I am of sound mind and under no duress".

      Delete
  14. What I find fascinating is that how most people don't even really thing about what they believe in. Many Jews around me will profess belief in Daat Torah, but would be shocked at the application here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many of those might not know what it means, or at least, not what it means to all branches of Judaism. I know that I was surprised when I learned what it seems to mean, and I still am not sure I really get it. (And now I fear that I only know the negatively portrayed version of DT, which sounds extreme and therefore ridiculous, but then I get confirmation that maybe the satiric portrayal is actually not so far off from the truth...)

      Delete
  15. What parent wouldn't give their children an equal share? I love these stories of secret wills appearing after parent's death and giving everything to one party to the exclusion of all the others. Absolute rubbish.
    And when the heilige children start with all this rubbish what do you think frum kids are thinking? "What sort of cult am I in if these people have absolutely no ethics, morality?

    ReplyDelete
  16. “What parent wouldn’t give their children an equal share?”

    Um. All the avos.

    CNS

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    Replies
    1. Funny. Could you imagine that happening today?

      Delete
    2. The first two Avos were excluding some of their offspring entirely. The final Av gave different, but unique (and therefore to some extent, equivalent) yerushas to each son. Are you [CNS] comparing the sons of Rav Chaim to Yishmael and Esav? If that is so, and the comparison is valid, then the exclusion from the will makes sense. But if we accept that all of Rav Chaim's children are nominally chareidi enough, then why such a massive disparity.

      I will say that a small disparity, or a special gift, based on the fact that perhaps some children or grandchildren were present more and helped out more is reasonable. I think the surprise here is the large size of this disparity. [And I am not stating an opinion about the Yanki branch of the family, whether they simply "helped out" vs "manipulated" - I know nothing of this myself. I am working with the face value of the situation and speaking both in general and in particular here.]

      Delete
    3. The Avos did no such thing.
      The Torah says כי ביצחק יקרא לך זרע, Hashem told Avraham Himself that the other children are disinherited.
      And ביצחק ולא כל יצחק tells us that one and only one could be the inheritor of his position. The Torah doesn't tell us what happened to Yitzchok's money, and Yaakov bought the burial plot in Me'aras Hamachpelah.

      Delete
  17. If the will is written in the hand of of the one giving the will. Or in font of 2 witnesses who will attest in court that he knew what he was doing the court can validate the will unless there is evidence to the contrary.(medical records for example.)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Parents often live with one sibling as elderly people and are dependent on them. The siblings have to be on top of things to make sure they are not cheated out of their inheritance.

    ReplyDelete
  19. To Anonymous- It was the accepted custom in the period of the Avot to leave most of the of the inheritance to the future leader of the clan, usually the first born.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Daas Torah is indeed nonsense, that's true. But Liberalism is far bigger nonsense. So Dr. Slifkin's embrace of the latter automatically discounts his criticism of the former.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even if what you say about liberalism were true (which its not), your point is completely illogical (dare I say irrational).

      CNS

      Delete
    2. Indeed, the world is divided into two camps. Da'as Torah on one side, and Liberalism on the other.

      Delete
    3. If I offer good arguments that the earth isn’t flat these arguments are valid even if I believe in Santa.

      CNS

      Delete
    4. Anon - Nah. If you believe in Santa it calls your sanity into question. So הכא נמי. Maybe if you believe in Liberalism it doesn't make you insane. But still - you believe in Liberalism. That's relevant when evaluating that guy's opinions.

      Delete
    5. You're totally missing the point. Arguments are valid or invalid independently of who holds them. If I'm a raving lunatic but know that 2+2 is true, the fact that I'm a raving lunatic doesn't make it any less true.

      Delete
    6. No, anonymous, YOU"RE missing the point. Arithmetic, like 2 = 2, will always be true no matter who says it, but Liberalism is not arithmetic. It's not an ineluctable fact like an equation, it's a mindset, a way of thinking. So someone who believes in it, like Dr. Slifkin, has discredited himself in other avenues of thought, because it shows his thinking to be warped. (Again, maybe not to you or to the Hat.)

      Delete
    7. You misunderstood my analogy.

      Delete
    8. See Wikipedia article “Association Fallacy” under the heading “Guilt by Association”

      Delete
    9. Anonymous, are you still here?

      Lol. Listen, my friend, you're arguing against reality. Say what you want - if a guy believes in cockamamie theories, you're not going to listen to him on anything else, no matter what he says or how he says it. I'm not going to listen to a doctor's theories on medicine by day, if I happen to know at night he believes the world is flat. in You're not going to say "well, the two are unconnected." A kook is a kook, and that's the end of it. (This should be distinguished from *behavior*, of course. One can be a brilliant guy, but also a very bad man. There's room for debate on this, but in general one's intellectual contributions should not be dismissed because of moral failings.)

      PS - don't ever try to convince anyone older than, say, 25, with Wikipeida entries.

      Delete
    10. RDNS (not to publish) I’m sorry to see the level of comments that are being posted. The trolls have taken over. Irrationality has won. I won’t be posting anymore

      Delete
    11. Anon 8:30, if ya can't join em, fight em! :)

      Delete
  21. Everyone seems to be missing the fact that this son moved in and took care of him. That may be not be convincing enough to suggest total exclusion of the other children but it certainly should be considered a factor. Also the fact that RCK probably didn't know the true "value" of his possessions so together with the fact that they were taking care of him maybe it made sense. Wasn't there a similar situation with R Ovadia's sons where the youngest R Moshe received the biggest share because he had moved in?

    ReplyDelete
  22. Every Rav in EY already knew this.
    It's not so much that they allowed the farce to continue when it came to life decisions, but that they stood by while millions of dollars were stolen from yidden, every year, for many years, through Kupat Ha'Ir.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Explain please what you mean by "stole millions though kupat ha'ir"? Can you give full details and any proof?

      Delete
    2. Not a fan, don't worry. You're not missing out on anything. It's just baseless hyperbole.

      Delete
    3. @Not A Fan 9:04PM

      I didn’t do much research regarding theft from Yidden at Kupat Ha’ir but I do d find this from Charity Navigator who didn’t give Kupat a high rating. They got only 2 stars.

      “…This charity's score is 73.11, earning it a 2-Star rating. Charity Navigator believes donors can "Give with Confidence" to charities with 3- and 4-Star ratings…”

      https://www.charitynavigator.org/ein/201523797

      Delete
    4. If you read the reasoning behind Charity Navigator's ranking, you will see that they have no new information. They have a certain system of transparency that they base their rankings on, and the rest of our world has a different one.
      Another seriously low number on their ranking system is actually an advantage. They give a 2.5/10 for Working Capital Ratio. Basically, money doesn't sit around there, it is used and not saved. I think that should push their ranking higher, not so much lower.
      That site in general proves nothing.

      Delete
    5. To those who asked about systematic theft at Kupat Ha'ir, https://www.bhol.co.il/forums/topic.asp?cat_id=4&topic_id=3179524&forum_id=771

      Delete
  23. What is shocking to me about the article in Yated Naaman is that to have faith in the earnest scholarly transmission and development of Torah you have to believe he is one of the "nvei emes", his words are "divri kabalah", "Ruach Hashem"( instead of"Ruach hakodesh",and "divrei elokim emes"(close to a navi from the ." Mikrah "or Moshe Rabeinu

    ReplyDelete
  24. At the risk of sounding (or being?) naive - yes, the din Torah is tachlis about millions of dollars. But it's reasonable to believe that R' Chaim himself never imagined that he was leaving more than a few hundred shekel to his yorshim. In his eyes, maybe some random seforim, a towel, a 20 dollar shtender, maybe a becher. And so it's possible that he was willing to bequeath these pachim ktanim to his doting son, never imagining that his other children would care, because he could not have imagined that it would end up being the million dollar question that it became.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If he thought that, then his understanding of how the world works was somewhat faulty.

      Delete
    2. Menachem,

      I think you are 100% correct

      Delete
    3. Interesting svara however isn't his apartment included?

      Delete
    4. Good point about the apartment, maybe that was sorted out separately? About the manuscripts and subsequent deals, missing the foreseeable is a big deal, and very possibly a consequence of his cognitive decline with age, I'm just saying that it might not have felt as crazy to him even if he was mostly all there. The behavior of R' Shuki, on the other hand, is much harder to justify, and it seems he knew too well what he was doing....

      Delete
  25. “…Naturally, they were expecting to evenly divide the estate (the five daughters were not expecting anything)…”

    Not a surprise. But why should the 5 daughters not expect anything? If you’re a woman deluded to believe your inheritance can be nullified through some Halachic/Daas Torah artifice, it’s your loss. Too bad they’re too oblivious to their rights by not litigating their rightful inheritance through the civil courts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "If you’re a woman deluded to believe your inheritance can be nullified through some Halachic/Daas Torah artifice, it’s your loss."

      Uh oh. Uriah's Wife is back. Looks like the angels guarding Hell fell asleep on the job again!

      Delete
  26. Some many haters of fellow Jews coming out of the woodworks here....sad. Why does this blog bring out so many haters? Nathan, any idea? Could it be that you stoke hatred of fellow Jews for each other? Does it relate to the sour grapes you have from the Book ban?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are haters here because there are, have been and will always be haters in a system built on delusions of moral superiority in turn built on delusions of connections to an infinite almighty source of total truth. Zero place for compromise. So go ahead, hate your fellow neighbor. After all, it’s a mitzva.

      Delete
    2. It seems that those chareidim accusing seculars and non chareidim of hating chareidi religion are nescient of the use of “hate”. Seculars and MO Orthodox don’t hate Chareidim. We may dislike and find great disdain for their religion, but we don’t hate them.
      The word hate should be applied to those deemed worthy of deeds that are hateful like Hitler , Stalin, Pol Pot or Achmedinijad (sp?).

      Delete
  27. What about a double portion for the Bchor?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you know anyone at all who doess this today? Can you name any other Rav who was left a will along those lines in living memory? No, right? Because people just don't do that any more. Ditto all the other comments by people who tried to find justifications by hailing back to practices that may (or may not) have been kept aeons ago.

      Delete
    2. Not sure what you're saying. People do it all the time...

      Delete
    3. Whi? Which leading rabbinfigure do you know of who left a double portion to their בכור?

      Delete
    4. You said "people". Now you've switched to "leading rabbinfigure" (sic). Which do you want

      Delete
    5. Almost all halachic wills leave a not insubstantial amount to be split per Torah law (double to the bechor).

      Delete
    6. @Dave and @refoelzev, apparently I stand corrected I am not aware of people actually using these halachic wills but maybe I am just not in the right age group yet. There is a difference between the wills existing as an option and their adoption in widespread usage. But, ok.

      Delete
  28. If I believed in a single infallible human religious authority I would be a Catholic. I am not a Catholic

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And which sectors of the public follow this as a piece of normative jewish behavior

      Delete
    2. @Tellner 2:14PM

      "All his words emanate from ruach Hashem and the Torah within him is divrei Elokim chaim vekayomim la'ad."

      Sure sounds like infallibility to me.

      Delete
    3. My comment here from 2nd Sept at 2.56 pm was meant for refoelzev in a different thread. Sorry.

      Delete
  29. There are Halachic wills which give the daughters inheritance a minute before the testator's death.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Or wills with conditions for the heir to fulfill, like paying the daughter amillipn

    ReplyDelete
  31. This is gevaldig:
    Rabbi Dr. Slinkin posts something informative which is, as usual, heavily slanted with conjecture and prejudice even if it is accurate. The value of such a public outcry is certainly worth consideration.
    But thennnnnnnn
    The comments section ignores anything potentially significant and instead launches into an all-out Chareidim/Kollel/Lakewood is bad. And of course, Nazis. Cuz why not.
    יצא שכרו בהפסדו

    ReplyDelete
  32. "though it's not specified exactly what that chillul Hashem would have been"

    Presumably there may be a Chillul Hashem if the stories got out why the brothers believed that that Rav Chayim was not aware what was going on in his later years, but reframed from publicizing it so as not to cause a Chillul Hashem

    ReplyDelete

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