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.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Meir Hildesheimer - Historical Perspectives on Rabbi Samson Rapha

On the recent occasion of the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888), Dr. Meir Hildesheimer of The Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch Cathedra for the Research of the Torah im Derekh Eretz Movement (Bar-Ilan University), delivered a paper entitled "Historical Perspectives on Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch," at the Jüdisches Museum in Frankfurt (7 June 2008). The remarks below appear with the express permission of Dr. Hildesheimer.

Historical Perspectives on Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch

by Meir Hildesheimer
1. Introduction
200 years ago, on June 20th, 1808 Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch was born. And this year, 2008 – is also the 120th anniversary of Rabbi Hirsch's death; he died on December 31st, 1888. Rabbi Hirsch was an outstanding personality who is known as one of the founders of Neo-orthodoxy and the Torah Im Derekh Eretz philosophy. In orthodox Jewish circles he is remembered above all as an intrepid fighter against Reform Judaism and as an exemplary educator. And theologians, Jewish and Christian, appreciate his creative Bible commentary.
In my lecture I want to deal neither with Rabbi Hirsch's philosophy nor with his exegesis of the Holy Schriptures, as these issues are well known and much has been written about them. I want to concentrate on his deeds and achievements form a historical point of view and to shed light on some aspects of his multi-faceted personality.
2. Biographical sketch
Let's start with a brief biographical sketch. Rabbi Hirsch was born on June 20, 1808 (27th Sivan 5568) in Hamburg as first child of Raphael and Gella Hirsch.[1] His parents named him Samson. Later he used to join his father's name to his own ("Samson Raphael Hirsch"), thus following a widespread custom of the period. Samson Raphael Hirsch had a close relationship with his parents whom he described as "the guardians of his childhood, the guides of his youth, and the companions of his mature years."[2] His grandfather, Mendel Frankfurter, a great Talmudic scholar and serving as Rosh Beit Din of Altona, had a profound influence on his grandson, as had the charismatic Rabbi (Chacham) Isaac Bernays (1792-1849) who was appointed Rabbi of Hamburg when young Samson reached Bar-Mitzva age, and Rabbi Yaakov Ettlinger (1798-1871) whose Yeshiva in Mannheim Rabbi Hirsch attended. Conscious of the new legal requirements from rabbis, the latter advised him to study at an university. Rabbi Hirsch went to the Univertsity of Bonn where he befriended the slightly younger Abraham Geiger, leaving after studying for a year without earning a degree. Consecutively Hirsch served as rabbi of Oldenburg (1830-1841), Emden (1841-1847) and as Landesrabbiner of Moravia (1847-1851) before he accepted the call of a tiny religious association in Frankfurt called "Israelitische Religionsgesellschaft". From 1851 until his death in 1888 he resided in Frankfurt.
3. Personality
Rabbi Hirsch was a puzzle for his contemporaries and has remained so for later scholars seeking to unravel the complex components of his personality. Various people described Hirsch as extremely introverted, some of them even as "remoted" and "cold". His disciple in the Nikolsburg yeshiva Armin Schnitzer (later rabbi of Komorn), for example, wrote in his memoirs: "His demeanor was serious and introverted. He was not talkative." Rabbi Hirsch's following self-portrait, which he wrote as a young man, shows clearly that he was conscious to that perception:
"So it always goes with me when my inner soul is too full. Then it does not spill over the sides as is common in other people – no, inside there can be stormy, turbulent waves but on the outside, with pressures and counterpressures – only silence. I am like a clock whose inner components interact with each other constantly but whose hands are missing, so that on the outside it appears completely still. Superficial people hold a feather to the nose and proclaim it lifeless, but those whose comprehension is deeper sense from the ticking that there is indeed life inside. A wise man knows to attach the missing hands to the face, so that he can read the time ...".[3]
In the eyes of his fellow people – except those of his family and intimate friends who praised his warm and symphatetic heart – he looked not only cold and distant, but also very self-confident. Rabbi Hirsch's tone was rarely conciliatory, whatever his intentions. He used to express himself in such confident terms that made him appear arrogant. His strong commitment to rabbinic Judaism turned him into an active polemicist in the Orthodox camp.
4. Fighter against Reform
Rabbi Hirsch's father had been a merchant. He intended his firstborn son to go into his footsteps. But when growing up, Samson chose for himself another profession – that of a rabbi. According to his own words, the religious controversies waged in his native town Hamburg were of primary importance in the shaping of his career.
At the end of 1817, when Samson Raphael Hirsch was nine years old, a substantial group of Jews in his native town Hamburg joined together to offer an alternative public expression of Judaism and established the "New Israelite Temple Association in Hamburg" and in 1818 erected a house of prayer which they named "Temple". The "Temple" was the first Jewish house of worship in German to use an organ on the Sabbath and a mixed choir in the services. The Temple Association also published a new prayerbook, in which many prayers were in German, and various sections added and deleted at will. The Hamburg rabbinate as well as some of the leading rabbinic personalities issued a prohibition against praying in the Temple or using its prayerbook. The Hirsch home was the venue of meetings and strategy sessions called to combat the threat posed to Torah Judaism by the Temple. Young Samson was apparently deeply affected by the gatherings in his parents' home, and in his later years recalled that it was this struggle which first gave him the impetus to pursue his calling in life.
Rabbi Hirsch's first writings, The Nineteen Letters and Horeb already represented the beginning of his active struggle against the Reformers. At this early stage, Hirsch tried to address the reformers and young people attracted by reform in conciliatory terms, offering a positive alternative to the Reformer's approach. The rebuff he received from the Reformers drove Rabbi Hirsch on to more open opposition. His literary energy in the years immediately following was mostly spent as an active polemicist in the Orthodox camp and emerged gradually its most uncompromising and militant defender.
5. Secession
Rabbi Hirsch's uncompromising stance toward Reform was also the reason for his struggle for the secession of his small orthodox community in Frankfurt called Israelitische Religionsgesellschaft from the main Jewish community.
Neither in Oldenburg and Emden nor in Moravia did Rabbi Hirsch propagate a schism in the Jewish community. On the contrary, when leaving Nikolsburg, he admonished the Jews of Moravia in his farewell letter to stay united. On the other side, he left the Moravian Landesrabbinat because he had received an "appeal from Frankfurt to go to the aid of a tiny group, whose very founding is, in my view, given the goals I had all my life, the most promising development that has occurred in Jewry within the last several decades. For now, for the first time, a Jewish community has been formed, which is openly and proudly dedicated to a most holy principle, in an area which has been successfully conquered by the faces of confusion (i. e. Reform). What can I do! This holy cause is the very one to which I have consecrated my life."
The reason for his different behavior in different places is obvious: in places where Reform gains influence over the Jewish community and its rites, a God fearing Jew must strive to disassociate himself from these "wicked people" and erect his own, Torah true community; in places not endangered by religious innovators taking over Jews should stay united. For the same reason Rabbi Hirsch sided the secession from orthodox Jewry in Hungary in 1868, when the newly constituted Jewish congress was dominated by reformers.
When the Prussian government in 1875 passed a law that enabled the erection of additional Jewish communities at a certain place (called the Austrittsgesetz), and the Israelitische Religionsgesellschaft (IRG) was entitled to form an independent community. The Jewish community of Frankfurt, then dominated by the reformers, did not want a significant number of their members, i. e. taxpayers, leaving, especially not the richer ones like Baron Willy Rothschild who was associated with the Religionsgesellschaft. So the community agreed to provide for all the needs of its orthodox members – a thing it did not do in the past – and exempting them from funding the religious activities of the reformers. A disagreement arouse among the IRG members about accepting this generous offer or to secede and form an independent community. The rabbi of the IRG, Rabbi Hirsch, propagated the last option; he even issued an halachic statement that obliged the members to secede. But a significant number of them did not consent and succeeded in getting the halachic support of one of the most prominent orthodox rabbis in Germany at this time, Rabbi Seligmann Bär Bamberger of Würzburg. Rabbi Bamberger's involvement lead to a sharp literary argument between the two rabbis, resulting in lasting mutual bitterness and a severe blow for Rabbi Hirsch personally: most of the IRG members did not leave the old community.
What motivated Rabbi Hirsch's fierce struggle for secession? In Rabbi Hirsch's opinion Israel is a nation and became a nation only through and for the Torah. Every Jewish community is a microcosm of the people as a whole, and just as Torah is the sole unifying force of the Jewish people, so must it also be the bond which unites each community. Every Jewish individual is not only required to take an active role in the community, but only by being part of a community can the individual fulfill his role as a Jew and find his true meaning and purpose in life. The community exists for the sake of the Torah. A community that does not act according to the Torah forfeits its right to exist. Naturally, it is forbidden to be a part of such community.
At the same time, Rabbi Hirsch felt there was no halachic imperative for Jewish communities to join together in a wider framework. It is not clear whether his later activities for uniting orthodox Judaism in an organization called Freie Vereinigung für die Interessen des orthodoxen Judentums (Orthodox Union) reflexes a change in his beliefs or were only for practical reasons.
6. The orator and writer
Rabbi Hirsch used two main means for disseminating his ideas: the spoken and the written word. Once he said of himself: "All my life I have engaged in thinking more than in speaking, and in speaking more than in writing."[4] But in truth his abilities in all these fields were really masterful. As an orator of rare talent he was seemingly influenced by his rabbi and teacher Isaac Bernays who was one of the most famous Jewish preachers of his time – that means, in the German language. Once asked by his uncle, why he preferred delivering his sermons in German and not in Hebrew, he replied that law in East Friesland required him and the other rabbis to preach in the vernacular, and furthermore the Jewish masses were not proficient in the Holy language. In order to reach them one would have to speak their tongue. His first experience as an orator he had as a student at the University of Bonn, where he and Abraham Geiger established an "association for the cultivation of speech", intended for future rabbis in order to train them to deliver popular sermons.
Besides of speaking in German, a number of additional factors contributed to the profound impression Hirsch made on his audience: the carefully chosen expressions, the fast tempo, originality of thought and cogency of argument. He spoke without a text, occasionally keeping a small Bible in front of him. In his early years he would commit his speeches to writing before he delivered them. By the way, he spoke only in public settings, never at festive meals and private celebrations. His gifts as a speaker do much explain the great influence he had on his contemporaries.[5] In Frankfurt, Rabbi Hirsch's weekly Sabbath addresses was the bond which unified the members of the IRG and left his listeners inspired to put the ideals of the Torah into practice. A visitor to his synagogue commented: "I do not understand one word that was said, but one had the impression that nothing less than the prophet Isaiah was standing up there."
Yet the influence of his writings were even greater for they reached a much greater audience and had also a significant impact on future generations until this very day. Rabbi Hirsch's gifted pen produced a rich and varied output: Halacha, commentaries on the Pentateuch, the Psalms and the Jewish prayer book, articles on philosophy, Jewish weltanschauung and education, polemics, letters and responses. All his writings, including his letters and halachic responses, were stamped with his unique style and characterized by a warmth of feeling and a sense of closeness to God. His skill at capturing the sanctity and sublime beauty of Jewish life remains unparalleled. His style is characterized by long sentences quite typical for this period. It shows his perfect command of German language and literature. Rabbi Hirsch employed his mastery of German prose and modern literary techniques in the cause of classic Judaism. In these times the literary sophistication of this Orthodox rabbi took everyone by surprise. (His Hebrew writings – mostly responses – are written in a very special style too.)
His writings had a particular influence on the younger generation, and continued to affect German Jewry in the decades after his passing. His commentary on the Pentateuch, for example, were found in every home of religious Jews in Germany.
7. Rabbi Hirsch's attitude to German culture
Rabbi Hirsch's attitude toward German was not the same as that of the other traditionalists of his time who were conversant in that language. To the latter, it was a language they knew and employed, but nevertheless a non-Jewish language. Rabbi Hirsch, on the other hand, had a deep emotional feeling for German and a strong attachment to German culture that also went far beyond the modest requirements set down by the conservative Maskilim who advocated practical subjects as necessitated by social and economic considerations. Rabbi Hirsch had been educated in a gymnasium focusing on humanistic studies. Influenced by the atmosphere in his family who encouraged secular studies, he appreciated the humanistic spirit which permeated the German cultural climate as well as the aesthetics. In the first of the Nineteen Letters, Rabbi Hirsch makes his imaginary protagonist remark: "How can anyone who is able to enjoy the beauties of a Virgil, a Tasso, a Shakespeare, who can follow the logical conclusions of a Leibnitz and Kant--how can such a one find pleasure in the Old Testament, so deficient in form and taste, and in the senseless writings of the Talmud?" Before Rabbi Hirsch, no Orthodox Jew had ever expressed such sentiments, even as a prelude to their rebuttal.
Rabbi Hirsch was especially influenced by Hegel and Schiller. In a speech given in his school he founded on the centenary of the birth of the latter, he claimed that the universal principles of Western culture embodied in Schiller's writings are Jewish values originating in the Torah.
Despite Rabbi Hirsch's liberalism in matters of culture and education, he was critical of literature that he considered offensive from a religious or moral standpoint. Thus, while reading "Der Salon" by Heine, he grew so highly incensed by its blasphemous expressions that he wanted to burn the book and compensate the library for its destruction. Nevertheless, the fact that "Der Salon" was written by apostate did not prevent Rabbi Hirsch from reading it.
8. Torah Im Derekh Eretz
But with all his love for German language and culture, Rabbi Hirsch was well aware of the danger of scientific knowledge leading one away from religion. He, therefore, strongly opposed the tendency to simply put Torah and Derekh Eretz side by side for this would implement that both are of equal value. According to Rabbi Hirsch, however, there is a higher and a lower sphere: The Torah is the essential, the standard by which all education is measured, while secular knowledge is secondary or supplementary to Torah. Or in Rabbi Hirsch's own words: "We are confident that there is only one truth, and only one body of knowledge that can serve as the standard... Compared to it, all the other sciences are valid only provisionally".[6]
The totality of Rabbi Hirsch's thinking and teaching has always been regarded as comprehended in the single phrase, Torah im Derekh Eretz. What does it stand for?
The concept of Torah im Derekh Eretz – universal and timeless – in the doctrine of Rabbi Hirsch has been defined as a synthesis of Judaism and modern culture, embracing art and literature to the extent compatible with Halakha (i.e. religious Jewish law). However, this synthesis is to be understood in a Hegelian sense: two contradictory forces contending with each other are reconciled and renewed on a higher level. In other words: Torah and life, Judaism and culture, do not just complement each other, but achieve complete identity. In his old age, Rabbi Hirsch devoted most of his teaching activity in his school to a subject which he called "The Spirit of the Jewish Theory of Laws". In those lessons he strove to implant in the hearts of his students a love of Torah and to inspire them with the consciousness of Torah im Derekh Eretz as the unifying principle of all the religious commandments, molding them into a uniform context of a harmonious Weltanschauung and life-pattern.
9. Political attitudes and activities: the struggle for emancipation
On December 10, 1810 Hamburg, Samson Raphael Hirsch's native town, was annexed by revolutionary France. In 1814 the French were thrown out of the city, but the revolutionary vision of liberty, equality and fraternity remained part of the city's intellectual fabric. Gabriel Riesser, the famous Jewish lawyer and politician, was one of the leading advocates of Jewish emancipation and very much admired by Jewish youths. Rabbi Hirsch was also deeply impressed, despite Riesser's decidedly non-religious attitude.
As other rabbis, Rabbi Hirsch, too, recognized the enormous spiritual threat posed by Emancipation. Nonetheless, he viewed it as both a challenge and an opportunity to demonstrate that the Torah is no less applicable to the new open society than it was in the Ghetto – but of course only on condition that the Jewish people would still be bound to the Torah's laws.
In his Moravian time, Rabbi Hirsch had a first-hand experience of the negative side effects that came together with emancipation:
a. religious indifference;
b. the loosening of the bond between the individual Jew with the community which was expressed by refraining from paying community taxes – an act that brought the Jewish communities on the brink of bankruptcy; and
c. a substantial increase in anti-Semitism.
Seemingly this was the reason that from the time he went to Frankfurt, he did not engage in any more public advocacy to advance the cause of civil equality for Jews. In reevaluating the battle for equal rights, he wondered whether the all-out drive for emancipation at any price had not been grounds for the further deepening of the exile, and if it had not engendered renewed persecution and increased restrictions on Jews.[7]
10. Jewish Nationalism and the Colonization of Eretz Israel
Heaving heard about Rabbi Hirsch's attitude towards emancipation as well as about his embrace of contemporary German culture, we now want to deal with his attitude towards Jewish nationalism and the colonization of Eretz Israel.
Rabbi Hirsch's opinion is probably expressed best in his reply to Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalischer's attempts to persuade him to support his activities concerning the colonization of Eretz Israel. Rabbi Kalischer of Thorn, was a forerunner of Jewish nationalism and the settlement of Eretz Israel. His philosophy connects Jewish nationalism, philanthropic activities and the strive for ultimate redemption. In his book Derishat Ziyyon, he explained his idea of the return to Erez Israel and stated his theory that redemption would come in two stages: the natural one through return to Erez Israel and working on the land, and the supernatural one which would follow. Furthermore, he preached that the first stage should involve a healthy economic foundation for the yishuv, a foundation which could only come about through the development of agriculture on a large scale. Accordingly, he recommended the establishment of an agricultural school for the younger generation.
In his reply, Rabbi Hirsch presented a clear and concise statement of his position concerning settlement of Eretz Israel as a goal in itself in the present era. In his opinion, according to the Sages of the Mishna and the Talmud, Jew's obligation is only to be devout with all the strength he is granted, and to look forward to the redemption each day. Israel possessed land and statehood only as instruments for translating the Torah into living reality; neither is it a goal in itself, nor is it instrumental in bringing the redemption. Furthermore, Jewish statesmen like Disraeli and Cremieux cannot be viewed as harbingers of redemption, for it is impossible to imagine that G-d would choose people who reject the Torah as his agents. Finally, Rabbi Hirsch agreed that is was important to support those Jews who currently lived in Eretz Israel – he himself supported efforts to improve their conditions! – but he expressed concern that mass settlement activity would bring in its wake increased risk of Sabbath desecration and the transgression of the agricultural commandments unique to Eretz Israel. And when Rabbi Kalischer's attempts to persuade him did not cease, Rabbi Hirsch wrote: "In my lowly opinion, there will not emerge from this any benefit for put Torah and Jewish tradition, and it is not fitting for God-fearing people to associate with the Alliance Israelite Universelle, whose leaders lack all commitment to Torah and to God's coventant." And in his letter to Rabbi Lipschitz, the secretary of Rabbi Yitchak Elchanan Spector of Kovno, he wrote that all the effords to bring the redemption in this way is a grave sin. Here again we have Rabbi Hirsch's resentment from cooperation with non-orthodox Jews!
And now, let us see if - and how – Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch's legacy, 120 years after his death, is still relevant. In order to do this we have to relate to Jacob Katz's essay "Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch – ha-meymin veha-masme'il" (turning to the right and the to the left) published in 1987. Katz wrote that Rabbi Hirsch took a decisive right, i.e. conservative, position in issues concerning Judaism and its beliefs (see his fight against Reform), but may be called "left" concerning culture, science and the attitude towards modern society. As nobody after him succeeded to unite these juxtapposite positions, this apparent rift in Hirsch's philosophy led to a selected adoption of his by different group of peoples.
The "right" components were readily adopted by ever growing parts of ultra-orthodox society, that means an uncompromizing struggle against everything that seemed a deviation from traditional Judaism as well as the abhorrence of a cooperation with non-orthodox people or groups, even if the goals are common. These circles will cite from Hirsch's writings the passages useful for their purposes, but ignore other passages speaking, for example, of the need to learn a trade or gain seculat knowledge. It also seems that the ideological opposition to Zionism of Orthodoxy has its roots in Rabbi Hirsch's philosophy (see above), that means many years before the the Munkatcher and the Satmarer Rebbes.
Other orthodox circles, especially Modern Orthodoxy, embraced Rabbi Hirsch's openness to secular culture and science, combining "Torah" (i.e. rabbinic studies) with "Derekh Eretz". But unlike their ultra-orthodox counterparts, they do not refrain from cooperating with non-religious Jews. This is especially right of Religious Zionism which is also – as its name inplies – Zionist.
Rabbi Hirsch stood in the focus of the dramatic intellectual and spiritual transformations that characterized German Jewry in the 19th century. His personality as well as his many-sided and varied activities on the fields of Bible exegesis, philosophy and leadership shaped the face of Neo-orthodoxy to a very high degree and their influence was felt not only in his own generation but also later on until to this very day.
Selected Bibliography:
Breuer, Mordechai, The "Torah-Im-Derekh-Eretz" of Samson Raphael Hirsch, Jerusalem-New York: Feldheim Publishers, 1970.
Klugman, Eliyahu Meir, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Architect of Torah Judaism for the Modern World, New York: Mesorah Publications, 1996.
Liberles, Robert, Religious Conflict in Social Context, Westport (Connecticut)-London: Greenwood Press, 1985.
Rosenbloom, Noah H., Tradition in an Age of Reform, Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1976.

[1] Rabbi Hirsch's genealogy was researched by Eduard Duckesz and published in: Jahrbuch der Jüdisch-Literarischen Gesellschaft (also printed seperately).
[2] Dedication to Horeb (Altona 1836).
[3] Transcript (free rendition) by E.M. Klugman in the possession of the late Prof. Mordechai Breuer.
[4] Nineteen Letters, Letter 19.
[5] For example: Armin Schnitzer from his time in Nikolsburg as cited in English in Klugman, p. 324.
[6] Commentary to Leviticus 18, 4-5
[7] See Collected Writings II, p. 26.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bitul ha-Tamid: the History and Application

Bitul ha-Tamid and Edgar Allan Poe* The Mishna in Tannit records that 5 bad events occurred on the 17th of Tamuz, one being the cessation of the daily sacrifice, the tamid.
The Talmud Bavli offers the background to the other four events. When it comes to the cessation of the Tamid, all the Bavli does is state "Gemara." It is left to the Yerushalmi to fully explain the story. The Yerushalmi, (Tannit, 4:5), records that
the Jews to maintain the tamid worked out a deal with the Romans who were besieging the city. Everyday the Jews would lower down a basket full of
coins, and in its stead, the Romans would return the necessary animals. One day, the 17th of Tamuz, however, after the Jews gave the
requisite money, instead of the correct animals the Romans replaced
them with pigs. Thus, the Jews were unable to bring the tamid and the sacrifice stopped from that time on. As
mentioned, this story only appears in the Yerushalmi and not the Bavli. (Although the Bavli records a similar story, it is about the Hashmonaim and not the Roman's, nor does it mention the bitul ha-tamid.)
Further, Josephus does not record it either (he briefly mentions that the daily sacrifice stopped on the 17th without giving details - see Wars of the Jews, book VI, chapter 2). Although these works do
not record it, Edgar Allan Poe does. Specifically, he has a story
titled "A Tale of Jerusalem" which, more or less, is this story
repackaged. You can read the whole story here. Basically, the story details the two priest whose job it was to lower
the baskets of gold. Poe ends with the pigs being raised instead. Not
only does Poe use this somewhat obscure story, he even injects some
detail that one would need to be versed in the original story to fully
appreciate. The priest in question are who belonged to the sect called
"The Dashers (that little knot of saints whose manner of dashing and
lacerating the feet against the pavement was long a thorn and a
reproach to less zealous devotees–a stumbling-block to less gifted
perambulators)." This is a play on the talmudic description of the
priests - that they are quick - kohanim zerizim hem. Poe assumes familiarity with the Hebrew alphabet to a degree that one would know the letter yud
is the smallest. As he says "thou canst not point me out a
Philistine–no, not one–from Aleph to Tau–from the wilderness to the
battlements–who seemeth any bigger than the letter Jod!" The question is where in the world did Poe get this. According to some it seems Poe got this from another novel from "1828, Zillah, a Tale of Jerusalem,
by Horace Smith (1777-1849). Poe incorporated whole phrases and
sentences from Smith's story: "Poe's story is more than a parody; it is
literally a collage of snatches of the Smith novel, cut out and pasted
together in a new order."
That being said, it seems that Poe was still
more familiar with this story than Zillah
and we are left to wonder did Poe study Talmud? He wouldn't be the
first famous American author to do so. Thomas Jefferson had a copy of a
volume or two of the Bavli. Although, here, it would appear Poe one
upped Jefferson by being a baki in Yerushalmi as well.
Bitul ha-Tamid in Later History Although the actual tamid stopped on the 17th of Tamuz, the phrase "bitul ha-tamid" continues to be used. According to some, Rabbenu Gershom, amongst the many takanot he was involved in, instituted bitul ha-tamid. Bitul ha-tamid as used in this sense means to stop the daily prayers. That is, if a person had a grievance, they could stop the prayers or public torah reading, until the community dealt with the issue. Some rishonim trace bitul ha-tamid to a Yerushalmi that records R. Yochanon telling someone to stop the prayers to have his way. (See Teshuvot ha-Rashba, vol. 4, no. 56). Bitul ha-tamid was a serious and well-recognized device. For example, the Or Zarua records that "on the week of parshat Emor, someone stopped the services, and there was no torah reading. Thus, they had to read both Emor and Behar the next week." (Or Zarua, Laws of Shabbat no. 45). Note that there was no question about the legality of forcing the entire community, in this case Cologne Germany, skipping the torah reading. The only issue was how to make it up. The Sefer Hassidim records the process:
The one wishing to stop the prayers goes up either before barachu (or seder kedusha) to where the Hazan is standing. This person then closes the prayer book of the Hazan and announces "I am the one who stopped - [the word kalu or kalman possibly from clamour] and the hazan immediately stops the prayers. If he wants to stop the torah reading, he goes up to the steps before the ark and announces 'I will not allow the torah to be removed.' Some do this on the torah's return - they stop the return. Sefer Hassidim no. 463.
Obviously, this device could not be used for any minor grievance, the question some deal with is exactly when this can be used. One of the teshuvot ha-Geonim records that in Bavel, they only allowed this to be used when a person refused to show up for bet din. That is, if someone sues someone and the party refuses to come to bet din, one can go to the recalcitrant person's synagogue and make this announcement. In this same responsum, however, it records a different opinion that allows for one to collect on an outstanding debt - but, in the case of a debt collection to only do bitul ha-tamid once. The Sefer Hassidim, however, allows for bitul ha-tamid to collect necessary funds for the poor. As one would expect, it appears that this process became abused. The Sefer Hassidim, the source for much material on this topic also includes a warning to anyone who misuses this that they will have to pay for abuse of the process. Similarly, R. Efrahim Lunschintz in his Amudei Shesh explains that abuse of this process only harms god as he misses out on prayers he otherwise would have received. At base, it is understood that this is a powerful tool to get one's grievances heard, but what is the rationale behind this custom? According to Goiten, and based on genizah materials, he explains that bringing one's grievance before all - is demonstrative of the notion that bet din "were but representatives of the community, which, in principle, was the supreme judge. The biblical concept 'the people shall judge' (Numbers 35:24) was still very much alive." Goiten notes that this process was not limited to men, and instead, the geniza preserves some "eloquently styled and beautifuly written appeals to the community by women." Goiten posits that the women did not actually enter the men's section but had someone reads these on their behalf. See Goiten, A Mediterranean Society, vol. II, pp. 324-26. A very different purpose for this procedure is espoused by a Lithuanian memoir. Basically, by this account, as "the Jewish townlets of Lithuania and Poland did not" have a well-developed press, "what weapon did the poor widow have at hand for calling public attention to the iniquities of, say, the money lender?" The answer, of course, "They delayed the reading of the weekly Portion on the Sabbath!" A story of a poor widow is provided to illustrate this point. She comes Shabbat morning, and is brought in to the main sanctuary on a cot where she moans
My child! My child! You are murderers! Take pity and give me back my child! . . . We children knew this woman quite well. . . All of us knew that this good old woman was now confined to her bed and quite helpless. And we also knew that the cause of her illness was due to the forcible drafting of her only son, Borukke the Tinsmith, into the army. We had also heard frequent comments at our homes on this heartless deed of the Town Elder in taking away this poor widow's only son in exchange for the few hundred rubles he received from David Refoel's for letting his own son - his fourth son- escape his duty, by finding a substitute for him in the son of the widow . . . The entire townlet knew of this iniquity and in the privacy of their homes had denounced it as a great outrage; but publicly they were afraid to speak of it. They were afraid to start a rumpus with the Elder who enjoyed the friendship of the town's Chief of Police. Everyone in the Congregation immediately put aside his Pentateuch and paid the closet attention to the bed-ridden widow's supplication. The only one in the assembly who pretended to be unconcerned in the matter and began to read aloud to himself the weekly Portion, was David Refoel's. This painful scene lasted but a few brief minutes when from behind the Bimah there emerged Honeh the Shoemaker who, with his fists doubled, rushed over to the Elder and yelled out in a voice choking with anger: "If Borukke Tamar's is not freed from military service you will all be sent in chains to Siberia! Do you think we don't know that you have bought substitutes? Take care!" An informer usually was hated by the town folk. But in this case they all gave their approval to Honeh the Shoemaker . . . It took just about one week before Borukke's claim to exemption on account of being an only son was properly recorded and he returned to his mother's home, a free man. Saks, Worlds that Passed, pp. 79-85.
Although I haven't seen this in print, I was told that when R. Solovetchik came to Boston there was no mikveah in Boston (there was one outside). R. Solovetchik instructed the women to stop the torah reading until sufficient funds were pledged for a mikveah. *A portion of this post appeared in a slightly different format a few years back. I have updated that portion and added about bitul ha-tamid generally. Additionally, much material on bitual ha-tamid appears in Simcha Assaf's work, Battei ha-Din ve-Sidreihem (1924), pp. 25-29.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Forgetfulness & Other Human Errors a New Monography by Marc Shapr

As a religion based on tradition, Judaism places great stock in the words and opinions of its early Sages. This is so to the extent that there is great debate as to whether it is even possible that these early authorities could err. In fact, throughout Jewish literature one can find many areas where people argue for deference based on seniority. For instance, there is an extensive debate on the binding authority, and to what extent, with regard to the Rishonim or the Shulhan Arukh. Similarly, there are those who refuse to allow that the Rishonim or earlier authorities erred. Recently, some accused Rabbi Natan Slifkin of allowing that certain statements of Hazal require reappraisal and that those statements are wrong. In the case of Slifkin, his issues with the particular statements of Hazal were not novel and mainly he repeated some of the same arguments that have been bouncing around for the last 400 years or so without adding anything new to that particular debate. A more important case, however, was that of R. Hayyim Hirschensohn in his discussion of whether women are allowed to hold positions of power.[1]

In the early part of the 20th century there was a debate of the appropriateness of women taking part in elections - whether they can vote or run for office. (Of late, this debate has been renewed by the Young Israel stance regarding women becoming a synagogue president.) Most are aware that those who argue that women cannot hold positions of power rely upon the Rambam, hilkhot melakhim 1:5, who in turn in relying upon a Sifre 147 to Devarim 17:15. R. Hirschensohn, however, understood the Sifre in a radically different manner and in doing so allowed that the Rambam erred in his interpretation of the Sifre. Specifically, R. Hirschensohn argues that the Sifre that states "that the verse (Devarim 17:15) 'You shall place upon yourselves a king' limits the placement to a king and not a queen" should be understood that the requirement for a king does not require a queen. That is, should the queen die she need not be replaced; however, should the king die there is a commandment to replace him." Furthermore, according to R. Hirschensohn, the Sifre has nothing to do with the other statement from Hazal (Yevamot 45b) based on this verse, that "any leadership you shall establish should only be from your brethren [they must be Jewish]."[2] Thus, the Rambam erroneously conflated the two statements and thereby misunderstood the Sifre and came to the incorrect conclusion - that women are barred from all positions of power. As R. Hirschensohn explains "that even one as great as the Rambam in his knowledge and wisdom is not immune from error, an which then caused many who followed after him to rely upon and led to other errors. It is without a doubt the Rambam relied upon memory regarding these statements, and did not have time to reexamine them again" (See Malki ba-Kodesh 2:194).

As one would expect, aside from taking issue with R. Hirschensohn's position on women holding power, many took issue with R. Hirschensohn's claim the Rambam erred. R. BenZion Uziel said that although he respects R. Hirschensohn -- in fact R. Uziel ultimate held like R. Hirschensohn on this issue -- R. Uziel "believed that [R. Hirschensohn] erred in hastily writing such things about our master, Maimonides. For, while we may indeed take issue with his position, we may not characterize him as having committed [elementary] errors in understanding the text, or as having been mislead by custom and historical context. [R. Hirschensohn's] remarks to such effect are, no doubt, a slip of the pen." Mishpetei Uziel, vol. 2, Hoshen Mishpat, no. 6 (the translation comes from this article). R. Uziel was not alone in disputing R. Hirschensohn's assessment of the Rambam as is evidenced by the many letters to R. Hirschensohn and his responses on the issue of the Rambam erring. See, e.g. Malki ba-Kodesh 4:131, 6:103-104 (letter from R. Yosef Babad).[3] It is worth noting that R. Hirschensohn seemed to have tired defending this opinion saying in one letter "that any further argument about this point is only repetitive." Malki ba-Kodesh 6:100.

Another more recent example was noted by R. Eliezer Brodt in the magazine Datza, no. 15 (19 Kislev 5368): 4, where he calls to attention the recent edition of R. Yosef Karo's Maggid Mesharim edited with notes by R. Yosef Kohen. In the Maggid Mesharim, amongst the many halakhic statements from the Maggid -- the legendary angel that visited R. Karo and whose remarks are recorded in this work -- is that "on Rosh ha-Shana one should not eat meat or drink beer [wine] and one should be careful about other foods as well. And, although Ezra said [regarding Rosh ha-Shana] 'go eat sweet food' that was only said for the populace, I [the Maggid] am speaking to the special ones." The problem with this specific statement is that, as many commentaries have noted, it contradicts various Talmudic statements - including a Mishna or two - that imply one should eat meat on Rosh ha-Shana. (For more on the topic of eating meat on Rosh ha-Shana see Eliezer's post earlier post, available here, additionally, Eliezer's forthcoming volume on many of the customs of Rosh ha-Shana will also discuss this custom amongst others.)

Amongst the many others who attempted to explain this statement of R. Hayyim of Volozhin explained that the entire power of the Maggid only came from R. Karo himself. Thus, if R. Karo forgot a Mishna or a source then the Maggid wouldn't know it either. Therefore, "it is clear that at that moment the Bet Yosef [R. Karo] forgot the relevant Mishna, or there was some lack in his recollection or understanding, and due to that the light [understanding] of the relevant Mishna was also held back from the Maggid." R. David Luria, Kadmut Sefer ha-Zohar 5:4 (Koenigsberg, 1856), p. 35a (quoting R. Hayyim). Thus, according to R. Hayyim, R. Karo could forget and make mistakes.

R. Hayyim of Volozhin's understanding, however, is completely rejected by R. Yosef Kohen in his new edition of the Maggid Mesharim. R. Kohen commenting on R. Hayyim's explanation says "I am extremely troubled, how is it possible to say that the great Rabbi Bet Yosef, who understood and was completely fluent in the entire Talmud and Mishna, that he forgot a simple Mishna or that he was weak in a particular Mishna." Maggid Mesharim, R. Yosef Kohen ed. (Jerusalem, 2007), 418.

Again, we see the two camps clearly, those who allow for human error and forgetfulness and those who refuse to believe great Rabbis could fall prey to these human frailties. An examination of the relevant sources shows that those in the former camp have the greatest support. To return to the Rambam that R. Hirschensohn argued erred in his understanding of the Sifre. The Rambam himself in his famous answer to the Hakhmei Lunel, admitted that he had made a mistake. Similarly, the Rambam's son, R. Abraham when presented with a contradiction between his father's statement and a Talmudic passage said "it is possible that my father forgot this passage when he wrote this."

Likewise, R. Yair Hayyim Bacharach, author of Shu"t Havvot Yair, explains in a responsum "to one Godol who cast aspersions on [R. Bacharach] for claiming errors in the writings of the great earlier ones. That is, you asked how can I have the gall to dispute the earlier ones which we are much smaller. And, that I went further and said [at times] that they had forgotten the words of the Talmud and the Poskim." R. Bacharach answered "I turn the question back on you, is not this language, that is, 'you have forgotten [אשתמיטתיה]' taken from the Talmud itself and applied to the greatest Amoraim . . . using [forgetfulness] is a respectful way to allege that one didn't remember a relevant passage. Forgetfulness is human nature and affects everyone. Of course, how forgetful one is depends on the person."

R. Bacharach then offers historical examples to support his contention. "Who is greater than Moshe the greatest prophet who forgot two laws (Shapiro notes that Bacharach erred - Moshe made three errors! (Shapiro, 52 n.220)) due to anger . . . and who is a greater Posek than the Rambam who understood the entire oral Torah as is evidenced by his work and who also authored a commentary on the entire six volumes of the Mishna based on the Talmud . . . who also forgot . . . and Rashi, who was a repository of Torah, but who writes in his commentary to the Torah . . . 'I don't know . . . and whom the Ramban wrote that [Rashi] forgot a passage from Midrash Ruth." R. Bacharach continues to list other such examples. He concludes "there is no shame in saying that the Rishonim and the Achronim . . . forgot a Talmudic passage or Tosefot . . . and this position is evident from the writers in all the generations that precede me, they never held back from saying on the great ones before them." R. Yair Hayyim Bacharach, Shu"t Hut ha-Shuni, no. 20.

R. Ya'akov Hayyim from Baghdad, in the introduction to his responsa Rav Pealim, echos R. Bacharach's sentiment. "In truth one can find that many great ones that they made terrific errors, errors that even children wouldn't make, and at times they made mistakes in quoting biblical verse, as was the case with the goan, wonder of his generation the Hida [R. Hayyim Yosef David Azulai, one of the most erudite scholars of his period] . . . on these sorts of errors the verse 'that one is blameless from error' (Psalms 19:13)." By way of example R. Ya'akov Hayyim highlights four such errors R. Yosef Shaul Nathanson, author of the Shu"t Shoel u-Meshiv made in his work. R. Ya'akov Hayyim concludes "therefore, do be surprised to find I disagree with the great ones . . . when I argue they erred because they forgot. Because, such allegations [of forgetfulness] are not unique and in no way take away from their greatness."

It is particularly ironic that the Hida fell prey to this very type of forgetfulness as he wrote an entire book, Helem Davar, [4] showing exactly these types of mistakes in other's works. The title of the Hida's work, Helem Davar is rather instructive when discussing the possibility of sages erring. Helem Davar refers to the sacrifice the members of Sanhedrin would bring should they all err, indicating that even groups of great people are not immune from making mistakes.

With the above introduction we now turn to Professor Marc Shapiro's new book Studies in Maimonides and His Interpreters (Scranton and London: University of Scranton Press, 2008), 205 pages, where one of the three articles is devoted to showing exactly the type of errors that must be attributed to forgetfulness or faulty memory that appear in the Rambam. This volume is an expanded discussion of Prof. Shapiro's two earlier articles "Maimonidean Halakhah and Superstition" (2000) and "Principles of Interpretation in Maimonidean Halakhah: Traditional and Academic Perspectives" (2008), both of which originally published in Yeshiva University's Maimonidean Studies, and includes a Hebrew section of several letters from two twentieth-century Torah giants (R. Joseph Kafih and R. Yehiel Yaakov Weinbeg), as well as from the nineteenth-century-maskil Nahman Isaac Fischmann to R. Samuel David Luzzatto zt"l (ShaDaL).

Shapiro provides many examples of persons who held Maimonides and others could err as well as many who hold that one cannot attribute difficult passages to error. For example, notes that the Hida (contrary to what we have seen above regarding his view of other scholars) held that one can not write off difficulties in Maimonides' statements to error as "[i]f such approaches are adopted every insignificant student will be able to offer them, and what value is there in writing such thing?" (Shapiro, 8)[5]. On the other hand Shapiro marshalls numerous sources, including the Ramabam himself, who allow for the errors in the Rambam. In the letter to the sages of Lunel, the Rambam states that in his old age he suffers from forgetfulness. (See Shapiro 73 n.295, 76 nn. 308, 309 discussing the controversy over the authenticity of these letters). However, even explict statements from the Rambam himself have been disputed by later authorities. For example, although the Rambam condeeds regarding a law in Yad that he erred, the Gra says that the Rambam was erring is saying he erred. The Gra explains that the original law in Yad is indeed right contrary to the Rambam's own position. (Shapiro 69 n.282). The Gra's position is somewhat tenuos, aside from the obvious issue of ignoring the statement of the original author, as "a number of . . . achronim provided what they believed to be better proofs for Maimonides' decisions than he himself was able to supply" but is has been shown "that the aharonim who adopted this approach erred in almost every example." (Shapiro 54 n.227).

Included in the book is a short "Note on Maimonides and Muhammad" following censorship that occurred in his "Islam and the Halakhah," Judaism 42:3 (Summer 1993): 332-343, about which Shapiro writes:

The "Note on Maimonides and Muhammad" found at the end of the English section requires a bit of explanation, as it speaks to the times in which we live and the sometimes precarious state of scholarship when it comes up against larger political forces. In 1993, I published an article in Judaism entitled "Islam and the Halakhah." In the version of the article submitted to the journal, I mentioned that Maimonides referred to Muhammad as a "madman," and in a few lines I also explained the origin of the term. When the article appeared in print, however, I was surprised to find that this had been removed without my knowledge. Naively, I thought that this was an innocent mistake, and I inquired as to what had happened. Imagine my shock when I was told that my article had been censored because the journal did not want to publish anything that could be seen as offensive to Muslims! While some may see this as understandable in the wake of the Salman Rushdie episode, it was nevertheless a betrayal of scholarship, which cannot be guided by political correctness. I would hope that any Muslims who see the "Note on Maimonides and Muhammad" will understand that its intent is not to insult their prophet, but rather to clarify a historical issue.

Studies in Maimonides and His Interpreters is available for purchase here at

The editors of the Seforim blog take great pride in the first post (of hopefully many frequent posts) at this new web address being able to discuss Professor Shapiro's new work. This is so, as Professor Marc B. Shapiro has been (as many others) a frequent contributor to the Seforim blog. It is such contributions that make the blog so much better.


[1] Much of the material on R. Hayyim Hirschensohn was brought to my attention by Marc Herman, "Orthodoxy and Modernity: Rabbi Hayyim Hirschensohn's Malki ba-kodesh," (BA thesis, Brandeis University, 2005), 18-51. For a recent review of the scholarly consensus on R. Hayyim Hirschensohn, see Marc B. Shapiro, "Review of Jewish Commitment in a Modern World: Rabbi Hayyim Hirschenson and His Attitude to Modernity by David Zohar," The Edah Journal 5:1 (Tammuz 5765): 1-6. Additionally, parts of the material on this topic of claiming that people forgot, comes from R. Shmuel Ashkenazi's article "Helem Davar u-Tous Sofer." Ashkenazi's article was originally supposed to appear in the journal Or Yisrael no. 15 (Nissan 5659), but at the last minute the editors decided not to publish it and instead the article was published separately in a run of 25 copies. Ashkenazi, himself an outstanding repository of material - it seems unlikely he forgets but he is human - in this article lists numerous examples of errors that can only be attributed to forgetfulness or printing error. For instance, Ashkenazi notes that R. Yechiel Epstein in his Arukh Ha-Shulhan states "it is surprising that the Rif does not mention the laws of yayin pagum, not in the eigth chapter of berakhot discussing the laws of wine for blessing, or in the tenth chapter of Pesachim regarding kiddush and havdalah." In fact, however, the Rif in the tenth chapter of Pesachim does discuss the laws of yayin pagum.

Or, the case of R. Aryeh Leib ben Asher Gunzberg (author of Shu"t Shaagat Aryeh), who notes in his Turei Even, that "we never find anywhere that the reading of the Bikurim passage is called Vidyu." Turei Even, Megilah, 20, s.v. mihu. Ashkenazi cites R. Yeruchum Fishel Perlow's comments in the journal Noam who notes R. Gunzberg forgot the mishna in Bikurim 2:2 which calls this recitation "viduy" as well as the Rambam in the laws of Bikurim 3:5, who says "it is a mitzvah to preform viduy on the bikurim." Ashkenazi adds the Tosefta in Bekurim chapter one and the Yerushalmi Bikurim, chapter 2 also refer to this process as viduy.

Another example, this one with the Hida. The Hida in Machzik Beracha (O.C. 468:10) and Lev David (end of chapter 10) states the author of the SeMaK is R. Yecheil. But, the real author is R. Yitzhak Corbeil. The Hida, in his own work on Hebrew bibliography, Shem ha-Gedolim, actually gets it right. But, it appears that he forgot that when he wrote these other works.

[2] R. Moshe Feinstein also argues the Sifre is not connected with the Talmudic statement. See Iggerot Moshe, Yoreh Deah II, #44-45. R. Feinstein, however, ultimately comes to the opposite conclusion then that of R. Hirschensohn - the opinion of the Rambam must be followed and women cannot hold high office.

[3] As an aside, one of the many letters to R. Hirschensohn regarding women's voting rights came from Yehiel Mihel Goldberg from Radom. Goldberg attempts to bolster R. Hirschensohn with the (now) well-known statement of R. Shmuel Archivolti in his Ma'ayan Ganim and recorded by R. Barukh ha-Levi Epstein in both his Torah Temimah and Mekor Barukh that supposedly is a halakhic statement which allows for women to study Talmud. As I have demonstrated elsewhere, the Ma'ayan Ganim is not a responsa work or halakhic work. But, Goldberg's use of the Torah Temimah for this point seems to be the earliest. While the Torah Temimah was first printed in 1902 and then reprinted in 1904, it was not reprinted until 1928 and Goldberg's letter was written in 1921. Perhaps Goldberg's use evidences that the Torah Temimah was well received soon after it was published.

[4] This work, Helem Davar was recently printed (Beni Brak, 2006) for the first time in book form from manuscript - it also was printed as part of the lager book Iggerot ve-Haskmot Rabbenu ha-Hida also in 2006. Prior to this 2006 publication, R. Yehuda Leib Maimon published Helem Davar in the journal Sinai 43 (1948): 301-15. The 2006 edition includes Maimon's original article as well as a commentary on Helem Davar, Hokher Davar.

[5] This argument, essentially a slippery slope argument, is also applied to making textual emendations. See, e.g. R. Y. Landau, Noda be-Yehuda Kama, Even ha-Ezer, 32; this issue is discussed by Y.S. Spiegel, Amudim be-Tolodot Sefer ha-Ivri Haghot u-Maghim, Ramat Gan, 2007, pp. 255-56.

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