Tuesday, February 14, 2006

New Book on Rabbinic Authority

A new sefer came out titled Ohron shel Chachomim. This work purports to collect the various laws and philosophy one should have for the Rabbis. The first section is just the basic law applicable to a talmid chacham, standing, not addressing by first name etc. In this section there is also a brief discussion about the "laws" of emunat chachmim. We are treated however to such laws as "not only is one obligated to follow the chachamim but also their children and their secretaries (mishamsheham) one should not question." Or this one: "When a person goes to a tzadik and discusses his problems but doesn't understand what the tzadik responds [I assume it was unintelligible] or it appears the just ignores his request - don't let this blessing be small in your eyes. Rather believe God will send your salvation." For many of these laws, the citations are to either aggadic passages in the Talmud or to Midrashim.

The second section discussion yeridat haDorot the lowering of the generations. This begins by telling the reader the concept of yeridat haDorot is not in relation to the tzadik rather it is to the generation. That is, the tzadik is of course as great as in previous generation rather it us that are unable to appreciate this. But then you may ask, it continues, why then do we hear of the great miracles these tzadikim did in previous generations, why not now? Of course, it is due to us - we have created a situation where the tzadikim can't work their miracles today.

The author then treats us to a discourse on whether the achronim can argue on the rishonim. He explains that this is prohibited. In a footnote he deals with the many achronim that seem to disagree with this. However, he writes these off by noting they are like rishonim. Of course, this then poses another problem (or not) for him as if they are truly like the rishonim then it follows that their peers couldn't argue on them as they are obviously greater. He just says that this doesn't appear to be the case and this is allowed. He extends this prohibition against arguing against earlier ones and says this is applicable to the pronouncements of the Shulhan Arukh and the Rama. He appears to be unaware that R. Hayim Volhzin says the Gra said this is not the case and that ever Rav should just do what they see fit irrelevant of the opinion of the Shulkah Orakh and the Rama. Additionally, he doesn't seem to be aware that R. Moshe Feinstein said the same thing. Or perhaps it is just a case of selective memory.

The next couple of chapters are devoted to the law of a Talmid Chacham today as well as the role of a Rebbi for Chassidim. The chapters include information on "Just Looking at the Rebbi Allows One To Gain In Torah and Avodah," "The Belief in The Tzadik" as well as lesser topics such as "The Trip to the Rebbi," "The miracles of the Rebbi" etc.

All in all, this book presents a rather interesting view into what some consider the laws and customs governing the interaction with the Rabbinic class.

I got the book at Biegeleisen in Brooklyn.

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