Thursday, July 31, 2008

More on Ma'adane Eretz on Shevi'it

More on Ma'adanei Eretz on Shevi'it

Between the 'Inner Family Circle' and the Published Word

By Yitzchak Jakobovitz

a) In a recent post on the Seforim Blog, Rabbi Chaim Rapoport spoke of the extent to which some disciples of the late Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach have gone in order to disassociate their late mentor from the heter mechirah, a procedure that he defended robustly in his work Ma'adanei Eretz.

To this end, a censored version of the original work was published (bearing the title Kitvei Ma'adanei Eretz), in which Rabbi Auerbach's endorsement of the heter mechirah as a minhag yisroel Torah hee was eliminated. The new version also eschewed citations of, and expressions of reverence for, the late Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook (one of the primary proponents of the heter mechirah and other controversial positions).

In note 10 of his article Rabbi Rapoport wrote: "In the course of time we may yet witness the birth of reports to the effect that Rabbi Auerbach (and/or: the Rabbis who gave their glowing haskamot) regretted ever having published (written approbations for) his Ma'adanei Eretz. Clearly Rabbi Auerbach's regret will have to have been expressed 'be-sof yamav', since in 1972/5732 he was evidently still enthusiastic about the project".

Little did Rabbi Rapoport know that his tentative 'prophecy' had already been 'fulfilled.' A recent publication (dated Elul 5767) entitled Shemittah keMitzvatah, dedicated to a rebuttal of the efficacy of the heter mechirah, documents such a suggestion. This work published anonymously but with an abundance of haskamot (including an approbation from Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv shlit"a), quotes many authorities that expressed their opposition to and disdain for the heter mechirah.

In the preface, chapter 5 (page 19), the anonymous author quotes Rabbi Yitzchak Yerucham Burdiansky, a son-in-law of Rabbi Auerbach, in his eulogy for his revered father-in-law. According to Rabbi Burdiansky, Rabbi Auerbach would say to his family: "You can tell the Rabbis that it (the heter mechirah) is worth absolutely nothing. It is a mere mockery!" [1]

The author does not tell us how Rabbi Auerbach's statements in the inner circle of his family may be reconciled with his own published Ma'adanei Eretz.[2] Indeed, Ma'adanei Eretz is not even mentioned! One may therefore readily assume that Rabbi Auerbach's (alleged) change of mind occurred 'be-sof yamav' (as Rabbi Rapoport had predicted!); in time enough to express this to his family, but too late in the day to publish his revised opinion! Consequently, Rabbi Auerbach's (alleged) ridicule of the heter mechirah was evidently first publicised posthumously, at a hesped.

The Uncensored Edition is Back in Print

b) In the interim a new, uncensored edition, of the Ma'adanei Eretz has been published by "Beit Medrash Halachah, Moriah, Jerusalem 5768." This edition is an exact replica of the original Ma'adanei Eretz as the publishers inform us on the back of the title page:

נדפס מחדש בשנת תשס"ח
שנת השמיטה במתכונתו הקודמת
כפי שנערך ע"י מורנו המחבר זצ"ל
ובהוראתו, במהדורת תשל"ב
בית מדרש הלכה
This uncensored edition has evidently received the financial backing of a generous and zealous English philanthropist (who was disturbed by the attempt to rob the Olam haTorah of part of Rabbi Auerbach's heritage). The same page continues:
מהדורא זו יוצאת לאור
בסיוע "קרן רחל", לונדון
לזכרו של מרן המחבר זצ"ל
להגדיל תורה ולהאדירה

Students who wish to study the Ma'adanei Eretz as authored and published by Rabbi Auerbach himself can now do so without recourse to a library or rare bookshop that still has a copy of the original edition.
On the other hand, students who want to study a censored version of the work, albeit bearing exactly the same title as the original, can also do so with ease. For since the publication of Kitvei Ma'adanei Eretz (and Rabbi Rapoport's post thereon) a 'Friedman edition' of Ma'adanei Eretz has been released (with the blessings of Rabbi Shlomo Zalman's family). This version bears greater similarity to the original work, both in external format and internal structure, but it is still heavily censored and spares the reader from having to confront the truth!

[1] בספר 'שמיטה כמצותה – בענין מכירת קרקע לגוי להפקיע דיני שביעית בימינו', עמוד יט (ההערות בשולי הגליון נכללו בחצאי ריבוע): "הרב יצחק ירוחם בורדיאנסקי שליט"א חתן הגרש"ז אויערבאך זצ"ל [רחוב ויסבורג 4 ירושלים] מעיד שחותנו דיבר בחוג המשפחה אודות ההיתר מכירה (פירסמו בהספד שהספיד חותנו), וז"ל, איר קענט זאגן די רבנים אז ס'איז גארנישט מיט גארנישט, ס'איז א ליצנות (ועשה בידו תנועה של ביטול) – אתם יכולים להגיד לרבנים שזה לא כלום, זו ליצנות – כי אין להם דעת למכור ולא מתכוונים למכור, וכן הרב אביגדור נבנצאל שליט"א מעיד בשמו של הגרש"ז אויערבאך זצ"ל, שאפילו לתלמיד 'מרכז הרב' לא התיר לאכול ירקות מ'היתר מכירה' משום איסור ספיחין, ואין זה סותר למה שאומר הרב בקשי דורון שאמר לו הגרשז"א זצ"ל בנוגע לההיתר מכירה 'שהרי יש מאירי', משום שאם יש אחד מיני אלף שיש לו גמירות דעת אין כאן הפסד במכירה לפי המאירי אלא רק ריווח, אבל עכשיו שנתברר שכל דברי המאירי לא נכתבו אלא מפני אימת המלכות [כמו שביארנו בשער א' פרק ז], בודאי אסור לסדר מכירה"
[2] Rabbi Auerbach's remarks in his Minchat Shlomo 1:44-45 also imply that he did not consider the heter mechirah to be a total mockery.

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