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Technology, Halakhic Change and Yom Ha-Atzma'ut

 

I. Technology and Halakhah

The influence of technology on halakhah offers a fascinating study of flexibility within a framework of conservation. Experts apply an eternal law to new situations, using analogies and abstract principles to fit previously unimagined objects and situations into an ancient framework. Contrary to what some have called a “paralysis” in halakhah, there is a vibrant halakhic literature on new technologies and innovations (see R. Howard Jachter’s letter in Tradition 37:1 – link). But technology can influence halakhah in another way — by changing sociological patterns.

An interesting example came to my attention recently, while paying a shiva call for my friend and mentor, R. Dr. Aaron Levine. R. Levine was a giant of Torah knowledge, particularly well versed in financial halakhah, the complex maze of torts and acquisitions known as Nezikin and codified in Choshen Mishpat. His expertise in academic Economics — he was the longtime chairman of Yeshiva University’s Economics department — was not a separate area of his interest but part and parcel of his Choshen Mishpat activities. He was a paragon of Torah U-Madda synthesis, in which all areas of knowledge unite as varying aspects of a single truth.

II. When Is Yom Ha-Atzma’ut?

R. Levine was also a Religious Zionist and the synagogue over which he presided thanked God annually for returning Jewish sovereignty to Israel by reciting Hallel on Yom Ha-Atzma’ut. While the holiday was initially established in 1949 on the fifth of Iyar, its date was slightly modified in subsequent years. In 1950, when the date fell on Shabbos, the holiday was moved forward to Sunday in order to avoid desecration of Shabbos in the festivities. Later experiences led to more details of changes in the date, with the latest going into effect in 2004 moving the date from Monday to Tuesday, as happens this year (see the details here: link).

In America, where the celebrations can be more easily controlled to avoid the desecration of Shabbos, many authorities did not recognize the change of date, among them R. Ahron Soloveichik and R. Hershel Schachter. They insisted that people recite Hallel on the fifth of Iyar — the day of the miracle of the declaration of the State of Israel — regardless of when Israelis celebrate the day. R. Aaron Levine’s son, R. Efraim Levine, told me that his father had to change his position on this question over time.

Initially, R. Levine followed R. Soloveichik’s ruling on this subject and instructed his congregants to always recite Hallel on the fifth of Iyar. However, the internet forced him to change his position. If I understand correctly from our brief conversation, R. Levine’s reasoning was that, in the past, Yom Ha-Atzma’ut celebrations were local, taking place in synagogues and schools with perhaps some articles in the Jewish newspaper. It was easy for a community to determine its own date to celebrate.

III. The Global Village

Today, however, advances in communications have turned celebrating a holiday into a global event. We not only receive e-mails and newsletters from around the world, announcing when and how others will celebrate the day. We see and hear live feeds from other communities. We join their festivities! We no longer celebrate locally and, therefore, a synagogue cannot determine its own date for the holiday but must observe the international date. Therefore, in recent years R. Levine had his synagogue follow the official Israeli date for Yom Ha-Atzma’ut.

This new form of interaction that technology has engendered yields a changed sociological reality for which halakhah must account. It is not the technology itself that demands halakhic consideration but the way we use it, the way our communities are structured and people interact. I am generally suspicious of exaggerated claims of change due to technology. However, I suspect that other cases of changing halakhic applications due to new sociological realities will slowly emerge with these new technologies.

 

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About the author

Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of Torah Musings.

 
The opinions and facts here are presented solely by the author. Torah Musings assumes no responsibility for them. Please address religious questions to your rabbi.
 

116 Responses

  1. MYCROFT says:

    “, advances in communications have turned celebrating a holiday into a global event. We not only receive e-mails and newsletters from around the world, announcing when and how others will celebrate the day. We see and hear live feeds from other communities. We join their festivities! We no longer celebrate locally and, therefore, a synagogue cannot determine its own date for the holiday but must observe the international date”

    There was instantenous communications for decades before the INternet-Radio, certainly shortwave radio, .telephone, telegraph, certainly since shortly after Telstar live international TV.
    The speed of flying to Israel has hardly changed in over 40 years.
    The awareness of Israel changing its date for its military parades when 5 Iyyar on Friday was known by me as a schoolboy.

  2. Hirhurim says:

    There’s a difference between knowledge of something and participation in it. I remember a time when long distance calls were extremely expensive and had to be kept very short. And when phones were rare in Israel. And when flights to Israel were very expensive.

  3. Baruch Alster says:

    Don’t forget that today, 5 Iyyar, is Yom Ha-Zikkaron in Israel. When Yom Ha-`Atsma’ut falls on Friday or Shabbat, it is celebrated on the previous Thursday, and YhZ on the previous Wednesday. But when it is postponed from Monday to Tuesday, it is inconceivable that American Jewry celebrate YhA on the day we in Israel mourn our fallen soldiers.

  4. Shasdaf says:

    Sometimes the internet does not change the sociological order. Isn’t there a machlokes between the Rav and Rav Moshe Feinstein regarding chazaka ein adam oseh b’ilaso b’ilus znus when we know many people enter a relationship (with duration as short as one night and as long as several years) with no intention to marry? One (I think RMF) says the chazaka can change and the other (I think RYBS) says we follow the chazaka as stated in the Gemara?

  5. Nachum says:

    I think one factor (in a year like this) is that in chu’l, the Yom HaZikaron Tekes is performed right before Yom HaAtzmaut. In Israel, it’s the night before, so there’s a chashash for chillul Shabbat.

    Of course, that’s referenced in this post as the “old” issue. R’ Levine’s “new” issue still holds true.

  6. layman says:

    I just got an email yesterday which suggested we say Al Hanisim Today, but say Hallel only on the day when the holiday is actually celebrated.

    http://machonshilo.org/en/eng/component/content/article/34-featured/554-yom-tqumath-yisrael-when-to-say-hallel-al-hanisim-shehehiyanu-a-sheasa-nisim

  7. MYCROFT says:

    “Nachum on May 9, 2011 at 1:33 am
    I think one factor (in a year like this) is that in chu’l, the Yom HaZikaron Tekes is performed right before Yom HaAtzmaut. In Israel, it’s the night before, so there’s a chashash for chillul Shabbat”

    Isn’t lag baomer on a Sunday-aren’t there people driving to various locations for bonfires-so why not afraid of chillul Shabbos-don’t they change the day of Lag bOMER.
    I attended YU before Hallel on 5 Iyyar was completely acceptable-if I recall correctly Hallel has to be said when something happened-if what one is saying Hallel for is what happened on 5 Iyyar how can one say it on a diffeerent day-could one change the date of Purim because people might drive to attend Purim parties right after Shabbos. This change shows that the date is not crucial but one just picked a date to celebrate a momentous occasion.

  8. ironi burgani says:

    Mycroft:

    The date is changed out of concern for official or communal chilul shabbat, not to prevent individual chilul shabbat.

    You might be interested to know that some RZ rabbis have proposed moving the celebrations at Meiron to Sunday night, because having the celebrations on Sat night involves extensive preparations by the police on shabbat. The proposal is not getting anywhere.

    Also, the mishna does allow people to hear the megilla on days other than Purim.

  9. MYCROFT says:

    ” I remember a time when long distance calls were extremely expensive and had to be kept very short. And when phones were rare in Israel. And when flights to Israel were very expensive.”

    I went to Israel before the first oil crisis when gas was 30 cents a gallon and airfares were not extremely expensive back then. Nevertheless-people were all knowledgeable of Israeli practice which in the past half century has changed American practice-see eg many Ashkenazic schuls sing Yedid Nefesh before Kabbalat Shabbat, now Chazansays alound last sentence of Mizmor shir on Kabbalas Shabbos instead of only at last sentence of hashem malacj geut .

  10. MYCROFT says:

    “Also, the mishna does allow people to hear the megilla on days other than Purim.”

    To the best of my knowledge we don’t follow that mishna halacha lemaaseh today.

    “The date is changed out of concern for official or communal chilul shabbat, not to prevent individual chilul shabbat.”

    So change every Saturday night holiday-9 Bav on Saturday night etc.

  11. layman says:

    Actually, they are asking for Lag B’omer to be pushed off a day.
    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/143928

    I imagine that they are unsuccessful so far with Lag B’omer, but they are able to do it with Yom Haatzmaut because of the Charedim.

    Also, what is done for Tisha B’av that likely violates Shabbat? Are you afraid that people are going to stop eating early? If anything, theres more of a chance of violating Tisha B’av, then there is of violating Shabbat.

  12. MYCROFT says:

    “regarding chazaka ein adam oseh b’ilaso b’ilus znus when we know many people enter a relationship (with duration as short as one night and as long as several years) with no intention to marry”

    how about chazaka that a person would rather marry a mukah schchin than remain unmarried-is that empirically true?

  13. MYCROFT says:

    “Also, what is done for Tisha B’av that likely violates Shabbat? Are you afraid that people are going to stop eating early?”

    Preparation for public gathering places-If I recall correctly the Kotel for starters is a major gathering place on 9 Bav. It wouldn’t surprise me if similar to what I experienced in various camps was done eichah time-certainly as much potential preapartion risk as 4 Iyyar.

    “I imagine that they are unsuccessful so far with Lag B’omer, but they are able to do it with Yom Haatzmaut because of the Charedim”

    INteresting thought that since Chareidim etc have no connection to Yom Hazikaron they don’t care about game playing with dates-while they would complain if tried with one of their holidays.

  14. joel rich says:

    R’Shasdaf,
    similarly the chazakah that a borrower wouldn’t completely deny a loan to the face of a lender. R’ybs made the unchanging claim in the case of tan du(based iirc on a pasuk), i don’t know if he extended it to other chazakahs. i’d love to hear from those more familiar with his torah as to any other statements on the topic.

    does the human condition change-it seems to.

    KT

  15. mycroft says:

    “R’ybs made the unchanging claim in the case of tan du(based iirc on a pasuk), i don’t know if he extended it to other chazakahs”

    Or could his experience affect his judgement-there is no doubt that the Rav had a very close relationship with his wife and thus could hypothetically have thought maybe not everyone has that close a relationship but even the worse relationships are better than non.

  16. Michael Feldstein says:

    I suspect that other cases of changing halakhic applications due to new sociological realities will slowly emerge with these new technologies.
    —————————-
    It’s a little different, and I cannot prove it definitively, but I do feel that the shift in psak where many more rabbis are finding various heterim for those living in Chutz l’aretz to only celebrate one day of Yom Tov is directly based on technological and sociological changes that have occurred, in which many many more people are celebrating Yom Tov in Israel now than generations ago

  17. Joseph Kaplan says:

    Michael, you took the words right out of my mouth. I think what has happened is that over the years, our attitude about Israel has changed. It used to be a really foreign, almost exotic, country where a visit engendered a tzeischem ubo’achem leshalom announcement in shul and a visit over yom tov resulted in a special oneg Shabbat to discuss the experience. Now, people go over a weekend for a wedding, our kids spend a summer in high school and year or more after HS, we skype and so participate in real time with their semachot, many of us have (older) kids living there etc. etc. So we feel at home there. And if we’re at home, we do what the Israelis do. In fact, Mycroft’s argument against I think actually supports this. “I went to Israel before the first oil crisis when gas was 30 cents a gallon and airfares were not extremely expensive back then. Nevertheless-people were all knowledgeable of Israeli practice which in the past half century has changed American practice-see eg many Ashkenazic schuls sing Yedid Nefesh before Kabbalat Shabbat, now Chazansays alound last sentence of Mizmor shir on Kabbalas Shabbos instead of only at last sentence of hashem malacj geut .” Exactly right; it’s a process and as we’ve taken on all these Israeli customs (although I admit I don’t wait for the chazan and say hashem nalach right after mizmor shir) we continue to feel closer and take on more, including celebrating YH when they do and not observing yom tov sheni.

  18. aaron says:

    Of course chazakos change with the times. According to the gemoro a woman would not be able to say to her husband certain things. These dont apply today. ‘ain isha maiz poneho lifnei baalo’

  19. JoshK says:

    >I just got an email yesterday which suggested we say Al Hanisim Today…

    Not familiar with this Al Hanissim, please elaborate.

  20. joel rich says:

    R’aaron,
    Where do you see this change having been certified in a responsa?
    KT

  21. IH says:

    Another example of changing attitudes due to Israel is Kitniyot. The serious discussion alone is a change.

    I second Joseph’s point that Israel has now become personalized for many more American Jews than it was 30 years ago. I think that is more salient than the Internet or economics.

  22. aiwac says:

    R. Gil,

    When experts talk about a “paralysis” in halacha, they’re not talking about the adoption of technological innovations. They’re referring to, among other things:

    1) The hopelessly outdated and antiquated system of financial law.

    2) The utterly ineffective criminal law statutes, which would essentially let almost all criminals stay on the street because it is so hard to convict. This is to say nothing of the laughable punishments in some cases (esp. theft, rape &c).

    3) Women’s status. Forget women rabanim and dayanim for a sec. Women cannot testify. Their rights of inheritance rest on very shaky ground. Furthermore, get meusheh has become such a bugbear that a woman can theoretically be denied all her legit rights even with the ketuba. Halacha is utterly incapable of dealing with the reality of a mixed world where men and women interact outside the home, and remains stuck in the “women are erva” mode.

    4) Actual halachic authority. Put bluntly, most Rabbis and even Gedolim are little more than clerks that simply follow the orders of whatever authority their teachers told them is the binding one (Chazon Ish, Mishnah Berurah etc). Those that actually are innovative are either decried or ignored. Everyone’s afraid of their own shadow or of the change-nothing “Mesorah!” mob to do anything. It is pointless to think they’ll ever do anything that doesn’t jive with the “party line”.

    Very, very few yeshivas encourage halachic boldness or innovation beyond chumras or real understanding of the problems of the Modern world. The result? People either leave that world and come to the conclusion that halacha is irrelevant, or stay in that world and insist that whatever the Gedolim (whom they appointed) say is holy writ.

    5) The general moderate public does not have the guts to simply boycott and ignore the various insane stringencies that come out. What appears to be the acceptance of the public of various stringencies is often just the sheep running away from the zealous wolves.

    The list goes on.

  23. STBO says:

    Michael Feldstein on May 9, 2011 at 6:53 am:
    “….but I do feel that the shift in psak where many more rabbis are finding various heterim for those living in Chutz l’aretz to only celebrate one day of Yom Tov is directly based on technological and sociological changes that have occurred….”

    Where do we see heterim for B’nei chutz l’aretz to only celebrate one day of Yom Tov in chutz l’aretz?

  24. joel rich says:

    R’ STBO,
    Minority opinion of the Chacham Tzvi.
    KT

  25. IH says:

    Well said, aiwac. Thanks…

  26. Aryeh says:

    Rav Moshe Soloveichik of Chicago follows his father on this issue. His shul davened Hallel this morning.

  27. “I do feel that the shift in psak where many more rabbis are finding various heterim for those living in Chutz l’aretz to only celebrate one day of Yom Tov is directly based on technological and sociological changes that have occurred”

    shouldn’t the technological changes obviate the need for yom tov sheni altogether? or is this whole discusson about yom haatzmaut a smokescreen for that discussion?

    in any case the chacham tzvi and (iirc) baal hatanya predate these technological changes

  28. MDJ says:

    Joel,
    The chacham Tzvi was talking about b’nei chu”l _in Israel_. Anyway, STBO wasn’t asking about a source from 300 years ago, he was asking where we see it being more applied now, as Michael implied is the case. And if STBO wasn’t asking this, I am.

  29. MDJ says:

    Sorry, what I should have said is, where do we see a heter being applied to observe one day _in Chu”l_.

  30. IH says:

    BTW From my 1969 Seder Tfilot le’Yom ha’Atzmaut:
    יום העצמאות נקבע ליום ה׳ אייר, והוא חל באותו יום בשבוע כמו שביעי של פסח לפי סימני אתב״ש ז״ע – שהוא שביעי: עצמאות

  31. STBO says:

    MDJ,

    Correct — I may be ‘outta the loop’…but I haven’t been aware of any heter at all for bnei chutz l’aretz to observe only one day of Yom Tov while still in chutz l’aretz.

    R’ Joel, I echo MDJ as I believe the Chacham Tzvi was addressing b’nei chu’l during their temporary visit to Israel.

  32. joel rich says:

    Yes, I thought that’s what R’M Feldstein was asking about.
    KT

  33. Joseph Kaplan says:

    I believe Michael was speaking about bnei chu’l who are in Israel for yom tov. That’s how I read his comment and my response was based on that understanding. As far as the Chacham Tzvi’s position being applied today, I know that’s what the rabbi of my shul tells his congregants who ask hin what to do and I believe there are many other shul rabbanim who do the same. And I keep on hearing about people who have been going to Israel for yomim tovim for many years who have recently changed to observing yom tov in Israel the way Israelis do.

  34. aaron says:

    Joel rich on May 9, 2011 at 8:16 am

    R’aaron,
    Where do you see this change having been certified in a responsa?
    KT

    SA 17:2 In the r’mo. Today where (women) have a lot of chuzpa and prizus she is not believed.

  35. joel rich says:

    R’aaron,
    TY-I thought I remembered that it was a hava amina in the rishonim that was not practiced. I’ll have to review.
    KT

  36. Steve Brizel says:

    Aiwac wrote:

    “1) The hopelessly outdated and antiquated system of financial law.

    2) The utterly ineffective criminal law statutes, which would essentially let almost all criminals stay on the street because it is so hard to convict. This is to say nothing of the laughable punishments in some cases (esp. theft, rape &c).

    3) Women’s status. Forget women rabanim and dayanim for a sec. Women cannot testify. Their rights of inheritance rest on very shaky ground. Furthermore, get meusheh has become such a bugbear that a woman can theoretically be denied all her legit rights even with the ketuba. Halacha is utterly incapable of dealing with the reality of a mixed world where men and women interact outside the home, and remains stuck in the “women are erva” mode.

    4) Actual halachic authority. Put bluntly, most Rabbis and even Gedolim are little more than clerks that simply follow the orders of whatever authority their teachers told them is the binding one (Chazon Ish, Mishnah Berurah etc). Those that actually are innovative are either decried or ignored. Everyone’s afraid of their own shadow or of the change-nothing “Mesorah!” mob to do anything. It is pointless to think they’ll ever do anything that doesn’t jive with the “party line”.

    Very, very few yeshivas encourage halachic boldness or innovation beyond chumras or real understanding of the problems of the Modern world. The result? People either leave that world and come to the conclusion that halacha is irrelevant, or stay in that world and insist that whatever the Gedolim (whom they appointed) say is holy writ.

    5) The general moderate public does not have the guts to simply boycott and ignore the various insane stringencies that come out. What appears to be the acceptance of the public of various stringencies is often just the sheep running away from the zealous wolves

    Chag Sameach and let me offer the following response:

    1) Please specify which aspects of financial law are hopelessly outdated and antiquated.

    2)Try comparing the halachic criminal system with the American criminal system, especially with respect to the number of cases where a guilty plea is accepted in lieu of a trial

    3)Women can testify before a BeisDin on any issue where Edus of 2 male witnesses is not required. In addition, there are numerous kulos that allow women to testify in cases of Agunos, etc. As the RCA PNA has become accepted on a widespread basis in the US, at least within the RIETS/OU world, Get Mesuah is no longer an obstruction to a divorce. The fact that the secular world is a mixed world is praised solely by radical egalitarian feminists,a and their allies who see no need for men in their lives, for a variety of reasons. I would suggest that you read “Manning Up” by Kay Horowitz and “A Return to Modesty” by Wendy Shalit for its effects on post collegiate young men, many of whom are now pre-adults, and the fact that those who provide the intellectual and sociological footing for the “mixed world” mistakenly IMO assume that there are no differences between men and women save for childbirth. I would suggest that the various forms of so-called “Shidduch dating” , without the psychotic elements that have been well documented, are a far better way of meeting one’s Bashert and establishing a Bayis Neeman BYisrael, than what is called “hooking up in the secular world. The shidduch system, whether implemented via a shadchan, parents or friends, goes a long way in ensuring that Ain Bnos Yisrael Hefker LOlam. For that reason, I would argue that in today’s age where the press celebrates the motif of “less is more”, the concept of Ervah, as well as Avizurahu DArayos should not be minimized.

    4)This is an overstatment of how the Halachic process works and how Talmidie Chachamim evaluate Halachic issues, who if they have any awareness of the secular world, recognize that how we fulfil a Mitzvah today is vastly different than decades ago. One could write a doctoral level thesis on the CI’s running critiques of both RCS and the MB. The simple facts are that Poskim evaluate technology, etc, in light of existing Halachic rules-not bending Halacha to accomodate technology.

    5) There is no basis to accept every Chumra blindly, but everyone must have a Rebbe who can help them see the difference between a Shinui and a Chiddush-whether LKula or Lchumra. I would argue that Dikduk BMitzvos is a far better goal than either blindly seeking Chumros or Kulos. One needs a rebbe with great shoulders to help see the difference between seeking hidurim, being Yotzei Lchol Deos ( a wonderful means of demonstrating Ahavas HaShem), Lachtachilah, Bdieved, Kdai R PLoni LSmoch Alav B’Shaas Hadchak, and Shaas Hadchak Gadol Meod.

  37. Joseph Kaplan says:

    “Get Mesuah is no longer an obstruction to a divorce.”

    Really? What about those, including members of the RIETS faculty, who claim that the NY get law has, because of get me’usah, at the very least “cast a cloud over the validity of all religious divorces executed by persons domiciled in New York State” if not invalidated all such divorces? (Guess who the quote is from and which MO institution he is affiliated with?)

  38. aiwac says:

    Steve,

    1) Right back at you, please demonstrate clearly that halacha can deal with the incredibly complicated modern system of finance (incl. futures, different types of loans and property, interest &c).

    2) Hands down, the American system (or any modern Western system) is exponentially better. Unless, of course, you prefer a world in which criminals run rampant just to feel smug about how “ideal” halacha is.

    3) “Women can testify before a BeisDin on any issue where Edus of 2 male witnesses is not required.”

    That’s pretty much all criminal cases (or cases involving criminal punishment), Steven, including assault, rape or murder. That means that if a ben bliya’al went into an all-woman’s shiur, shot up half the classroom and walked out, he’d be untouchable. The issue of agunot testimony is immaterial to the injustice here. So is the issue of “radical feminism”.

    The concept of avizarayhu d’arayot might make sense on the beach or other “revealing” environments. It does not make sense in classrooms, formal workplaces, lectures &c where even in the secular world decorum is required. Don’t mix apples and oranges.

    I noticed you didn’t even address the issue of inheritance.

    Lastly, the get meusheh is a major issue here in Israel since virtually all dayanim become eda charedit wannabies the minute they’re appointed to the bench (see e.g. R. Avraham Sherman).

    4) No, I feel it’s a pretty fair statement of the halachic world today. I lost count of the number of times I heard of major Rabbis who had relatively liberal (and halachic) opinions but were afraid to voice them because they might get lynched.

    The truth is there is no real debate or discourse in O Jewry, just a lot of isolated islands of like-minded people that talk to each other. The institution of the yeshiva itself has turned from a bastion of heated disagreement to monotonic conformity.

    5) Steven, all nice in the abstract. The reality of social bullying of moderates (and Rabbis) by zealots and askanim is far bleaker than you realize. We’re all a bunch of scared sheep.

  39. ruvie says:

    aiwac – nicely done. steve b. – too much to disagree and not enough time or koach to argue on the usual suspects or rants. but having boys and girls interact at a young age through high scholl and college is the best way for men and women to feel comfortable with the opposite sex. the shidduch system you represents seems to abhor men and women mingling – which is a shame. that being said people always set up their friends on dates but its not a shidduch system – unless its the charedei world.
    and not everyone in the secular world always “hooks up” as away of dating seriously.

  40. layman says:

    Sorry, thought it was in the link I posted…

    (To download the Al HaNissim prayer, go to http://machonshilo.org/en/images/stories/files/Al_HaNissim_YA_YY_Revised.pdf)

  41. Steve Brizel says:

    Joseph Kaplan wrote:

    “Really? What about those, including members of the RIETS faculty, who claim that the NY get law has, because of get me’usah, at the very least “cast a cloud over the validity of all religious divorces executed by persons domiciled in New York State” if not invalidated all such divorces? (Guess who the quote is from and which MO institution he is affiliated with”

    AFAIK, the RIETS RY that you quoted is a decidedly Daas Yachid compared to his colleagues on the issue.

  42. Shalom Spira says:

    R’ Aiwac,
    Thank you for raising the important question of how to apply Halakhah to changing financial realities. Your point is well taken and R. Norman Lamm sympathizes with it, and so he wrote the following letter of approbation to R. Bleich’s Contemporary Halakhic Problems Vol. 4 (-one of whose chapters deals with the application of heter iska to loans):

    “Our author’s scholarly efforts and literary productivity… make a statement that is theologically important: that this ancient legal system is capable of dealing with the most complex problems thrown up by the latest technologies and the most recent changes in social perspective…”

    Thus, in the opinion of R. Lamm, the halakhic financial system will always be up-to-date, so long as we investigate sufficiently. Hafokh bah va-hafokh bah dikholah bah. Thank you, R’ Aiwac, for inspiring us to investigate more.

  43. Shalom Spira says:

    R’ Layman,
    Thank you for the suggested text of the Al Hanissim prayer. I am sure those who composed it are tzaddikim gemurim, and when mashi’ach comes and the Sanhedrin is activated (with Moshe Rabbeinu on duty in his resurrected state, as per the gemara in Yoma 5b), we will then ask the Sanhedrin whether this prayer should be actively incorporated into our amidah.

  44. Steve Brizel says:

    Aiwac responded to my comments:

    “1) Right back at you, please demonstrate clearly that halacha can deal with the incredibly complicated modern system of finance (incl. futures, different types of loans and property, interest &c).

    2) Hands down, the American system (or any modern Western system) is exponentially better. Unless, of course, you prefer a world in which criminals run rampant just to feel smug about how “ideal” halacha is.

    3) “Women can testify before a BeisDin on any issue where Edus of 2 male witnesses is not required.”

    That’s pretty much all criminal cases (or cases involving criminal punishment), Steven, including assault, rape or murder. That means that if a ben bliya’al went into an all-woman’s shiur, shot up half the classroom and walked out, he’d be untouchable. The issue of agunot testimony is immaterial to the injustice here. So is the issue of “radical feminism”.

    The concept of avizarayhu d’arayot might make sense on the beach or other “revealing” environments. It does not make sense in classrooms, formal workplaces, lectures &c where even in the secular world decorum is required. Don’t mix apples and oranges.

    I noticed you didn’t even address the issue of inheritance.

    Lastly, the get meusheh is a major issue here in Israel since virtually all dayanim become eda charedit wannabies the minute they’re appointed to the bench (see e.g. R. Avraham Sherman).

    4) No, I feel it’s a pretty fair statement of the halachic world today. I lost count of the number of times I heard of major Rabbis who had relatively liberal (and halachic) opinions but were afraid to voice them because they might get lynched.

    The truth is there is no real debate or discourse in O Jewry, just a lot of isolated islands of like-minded people that talk to each other. The institution of the yeshiva itself has turned from a bastion of heated disagreement to monotonic conformity.

    5) Steven, all nice in the abstract. The reality of social bullying of moderates (and Rabbis) by zealots and askanim is far bleaker than you realize. We’re all a bunch of scared sheep

    1) Take a look at a series of shiurim on Ribis and Oonah on the YU Torah site.

    2)How a system is supposed to work in theory, whether in halacha or the secular legal system, is often not at all related to how it functions on a real basis. Again, check the number of pleas against convictions and settlements against either pretrial dismissals and judgments.

    3) I think that in cases of abuse, etc, many Poskim certainly apply the kulos re Edus Ishah that one finds elswewhere.

    4)When was the last time that you actually saw how women dress “professionally”? The notion of a dress code in the secular world is close to nonexistent, especially during the summer. As far as Yerushah, just as in Gittin, one is dealing with a Gzeras HaKasuv. There are means of providing inheritance within Halacha to women,but one cannot confuse the same with how and what is defined as Yerushah,and one must be cognizant of the relevant tax and estate laws when suggesting a solution.

    5)I think that the bullying that you describe exists in the Charedi world.

    Ruvuie-any system of dating that functions primarily on set ups by a third party and assumes no prior contact between the genders is rooted in part on the notion of a Shadchan, regardless of who is the intermediary. I think that the notion of “men and women mingling” works best at a Shabbos table or a table of singles at a Chasunah, but not in an unsupervised milieu. “Hooking up” is the absolute opposite of going out on dates, however facilitated, Lshem Tachlis.

  45. emma says:

    Steve, what is your prefered alternative to the “mixed” world in which women, even those whose clothes you don’t like, may be admitted to professions, work in offices, etc?
    (I take it you do not think the world should be “mixed” in this way since you are not a “radical egalitarian feminist,” and you state that “The fact that the secular world is a mixed world is praised solely by radical egalitarian feminists,”)

  46. aiwac says:

    1) Using ribis and ona’a to deal with modern finance is like using basic arithmetic to deal with combinatory mathematics.

    2) OK, Steve, I’ll bite. How would a criminal halachic system work without the (de’orayta) two-witness handicap?

    My money says it’d create Gotham City prior to Batman.

    3) Name one posek and the halachic grounding. Also, please explain how the murderer in my previous scenario doesn’t get off scott free.

    4) Whah?!

    Steven, have you ever actually worked in a serious, formal secular workplace (I have)? They don’t walk around in bikinis or tank tops all day long. Unless you work in a strip club or bar, there’s generally a pretty regular dress code. Some girls/women might show more skin than YOU’RE comfortable with, but it’s not one big harem. Please stop comparing places of leisure with other areas.

  47. aiwac says:

    Also,

    5) And the majority of Rabbis and yeshiva students by us are either afraid of them, want to be them, or submit to their diktat in the name of “unity”.

  48. Canuck says:

    aiwac: From your comments, it’s obvious that you have contempt for Torah law and for the rabbis. What are you trying to accomplish with your diatribe? IH: why are you cheering him on?

    Joseph Kaplan: You have suggested that Jews may now take on Israeli customs, because “our attitude about Israel has changed.”
    Who gets to decide on which customs to change or give up, community rabbis or each individual Jew? Why do those who wish to eliminate long-standing customs (e.g. 2nd day Yom Yov outside Israel; restrictions on kitniyos during Passover) tend to choose the less demanding option in each case?

  49. Shalom Spira says:

    N.B. In my comments above at 4:37 p.m. and 4:45 p.m., I was not necessarily arguing on R. Daniel Sperber – whose Tradition “paralysis” article I greatly respect (as well as the valuable responses he received from R. Auman and R. Jachter). I was merely offering some friendly thoughts on the specific topics of finances and Al Hanissim. “I am friend to everyone who fears You, and who observes Your commandments” (Psalms 119:63), including R. Sperber and all the distiguished commentors on this forum.

  50. aiwac says:

    On the contrary, I have nothing but the deepest respect for Torah Shebichtav and Torah Shebe’al Peh, including its suthorities.

    It’s precisely because of this that I am sick and tired of the Rabbinic leadership rendering itself entirely irrelevant by cowering in fear from any challenge or because of what the “zealots” might say.

    In short, I want them to prove Leibowitz wrong, because thus far that hasn’t been the case.

  51. Ruvie says:

    Steve b. -” unsupervised milieu” – what are we in? Kindergarten? I guess you are anti benei Akiva etc. ” hooking up ” is not everything else. I do not think you understand the term. Just because people set up their friends on dates does not equal “hooking up”. Please learn what the terms you use mean.

  52. Steve Brizel says:

    Aiwac and Ruvuie:

    1)Ribis and OOnah are the construct. How the concepts therein can be applied to finance today is the province of a Posek.

    2-3)I am not sure how a halachically rooted criminal system would work. However, viewing the secular criminal system as inherently superior is based on a lack of knowledge of its day to day workings, as opposed to constititional and statutory make up.

    4) I have practiced law as a litigator in NYC for almost 30 years. The notion of what passes for appropriate female attire for professionals ,whether in court or the office and support staff has substantially deteriorated in that time. WADR, it is obvious that you are desensitized to the issue because you accept the same as a fact of life.

    Emma-the mixed world is a sociological reality-however, IMO, that is no reason why we should imitate its worst aspects, or accept the thesis that there is no difference between men and women except for bearing a child.

  53. Steve Brizel says:

    Ruvie-IIRC, putting aside the Charedi negative view towards BA,
    R Aviner and other RZs have never been overly satisfied with the BA social milieu

  54. Steve Brizel says:

    Ruvie wrote:

    “Steve b. -” unsupervised milieu” – what are we in? Kindergarten? I guess you are anti benei Akiva etc. ” hooking up ” is not everything else. I do not think you understand the term. Just because people set up their friends on dates does not equal “hooking up”. Please learn what the terms you use mean”

    I never said that setting up one’s friends Lshem Tachlis was an invitation to a “hook up”, however loosely one uses that term, as set forth in Wendy Shalit’s still superb book. Depending on the child, I can see benefits either in a mixed gender class for the early elementary years. I see no benefits in the same from grades 5-12. It pays to remember what and how the SE approved of mixed gender youth groups and schools-as a very effective kiruv tool in the wake of the Holocaust.

  55. Joseph Kaplan says:

    “Why do those who wish to eliminate long-standing customs (e.g. 2nd day Yom Yov outside Israel”

    As I made clear, I was talking about 2nd day yom tov IN Israel (for bnei chu’l).

  56. aiwac says:

    2-3) Steven, I am well aware of the problems of a modern-day justice system. I still say it is far superior to halacha in terms of criminal code, a fact which you implicitly concede by not even explaining how a halachic criminal system could even work.

    4) Not where I worked. Also, I don’t think “separation at all costs” is the solution.

    “WADR, it is obvious that you are desensitized to the issue because you accept the same as a fact of life.”

    Well, it’s either that or live like a hermit on a deserted island, talking to my pet volleyball.

  57. Ruvie says:

    For those interested in the issue of second day tom tov outside israel please read jacob katz’s article: The
    Orthodox defense of the second dayf the festivals in Divine Law in Human Hands: case studies in halakhic flexibility. P.255
    It deals withe issue as it developed in the 19th century.

  58. Canuck says:

    “Why do those who wish to eliminate long-standing customs (e.g. 2nd day Yom Yov outside Israel”

    As I made clear, I was talking about 2nd day yom tov IN Israel (for bnei chu’l).

    ===> Sorry, Joseph Kaplan; I obviously misunderstood your comments. Is the 2nd day of yom tov for visitors to Israel truly optional, or does one need to obtain permission from one’s personal rabbi? Would the rabbis look favorably on an Ashkenazi Jew’s decision to drop to the custom of not eating kitniyos on Pesach (assuming it’s not a case of switching entirely to a Sephardic community’s customs), or would they actively convince him/her not to do it? Would the answer be different in Israel?

  59. Joseph Kaplan says:

    “Is the 2nd day of yom tov for visitors to Israel truly optional, or does one need to obtain permission from one’s personal rabbi? ”

    Don’t know since my personal rabbi has given that pesak already, and while I haven’t acted on it (yet, because I haven’t been in Israel on yom tov), all of my daughters have. BTW, it’s not simply a kulah; I think bnei EY should observe 2 days when they are in chu’l just like the original minhag.

  60. Joseph Kaplan says:

    “jacob katz’s article: The
    Orthodox defense of the second dayf the festivals in Divine Law in Human Hands: case studies in halakhic flexibility. P.255″

    Anybody with a link or a scan?

  61. IH says:

    Canuck: both issues you ask about are in flux largely as a result of the sociological issues discussed above. To wit: 30 years ago, few Orthodox American Jews had close family living in Israel and there is increasing ethnic admixture among the Dati Jews living in Israel.

    Like the classic product life cycle, there are innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards.

    My guess is that not observing the 2nd day while visiting Israel is early majority; and Israeli ethnic-ashkenazi tolerance of kitnyot (within Israel) is in the early adopter stage. But, I am no expert and extrapolating from my subjective sampling.

    The North American trend on kitniyot is hampered by the lack of mainstream “kasher le’pesach le’ochlai kitniyot”. We can’t even get past Quinoa :-)

  62. Canuck says:

    Thanks for answering my questions, which were theoretical in my case. I realize the questions about customs are complex, and best left to the professionals (i.e. local orthodox rabbis) to decide.

  63. IH says:

    Despite the volume of ideological hot air to the contrary, most of the controversial issues discussed here can be viewed using the lens of the product life cycle.

  64. Michael Feldstein says:

    Joseph Kaplan on May 9, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    I believe Michael was speaking about bnei chu’l who are in Israel for yom tov. That’s how I read his comment and my response was based on that understanding. As far as the Chacham Tzvi’s position being applied today, I know that’s what the rabbi of my shul tells his congregants who ask hin what to do and I believe there are many other shul rabbanim who do the same. And I keep on hearing about people who have been going to Israel for yomim tovim for many years who have recently changed to observing yom tov in Israel the way Israelis do.
    ——————————-

    Sorry, I’m a little late in clarifying my original post, but Joseph Kaplan has my thoughts described exactly right. Sorry if there was any confusion.

  65. emma says:

    I appreciate the point of the post re: technological change creating social chance, and the latter impacting halachah.
    But: It seems to me that yom haatzmaut is rather low-hanging fruit, however, as it is of such recent vintage. I mean, there is really only one generation of rabbis whom one has to disagree with to change the practice. It gets much harder when you have centuries of rabbis living under the old social reality all saying one thing, and then new rabbis under the new reality trying to say something different.
    Also, is social change created by non-technological factors accorded the same consideration? I don’t see a principled difference, but again, it is discursively more difficult to say that the world has changed in a relevant way when there is no physical manifestation to point to (such as twitter or airplanes).

  66. Nachum says:

    “The North American trend on kitniyot is hampered by the lack of mainstream “kasher le’pesach le’ochlai kitniyot”. We can’t even get past Quinoa :-)”

    The OU began to certify kitniyot this year.

  67. “For those interested in the issue of second day tom tov outside israel please read jacob katz’s article”

    and meir benayahu’s book

  68. You wrote, “He [Rav Levine]was a paragon of Torah U-Madda synthesis, in which all areas of knowledge unite as varying aspects of a single truth.”

    I also was privileged to know wonderful man.

    I personally would not classify him as “a paragon of Torah U-Madda synthesis.” For him, Torah was supreme and everything else was to be influenced by Torah. Based on this, I think that although he was not from a German background, his approach was more in consonance with the TIDE views of RSRH than Torah U-Madda.

    There is indeed a difference despite that fact that many want to blur the lines between the two.

    YL

  69. Nachum says:

    ANd many want to libel Torah UMadda with statements like that.

  70. IH says:

    “The OU began to certify kitniyot this year.”

    I saw no such products on the Upper West Side during my Pesach shopping. I would have thought the “low hanging fruit” would be things like Sabra Chumus and Chatzilim salatim (as their Israeli counterparts are there).

  71. Joseph Kaplan says:

    Rabbi Levine, in addition to receiving an MA and PhD from NYU, was a chaired professor at YU, the leading instiution of Torah U’Maddah. His educational background and his professional affiliation fully support Gil’s decription of him.

  72. IH says:

    sp: that is the theory; what was the actual practice? What did you see when you were Pesach shopping?

  73. layman says:

    R’Spira:
    I am curious why the addition of a prayer in the shemonah Esrei requires a San Hedrin now, while it did not require a San Hendrin during the Middle Ages.

    Aiwac:
    I am curious if you have really looked into a “criminal code” system based on Halacha. The requirement of two witnesses is needed for only the harshest of direct punishments. However, the Gemorah discusses many unofficial punishments that could be used where two witnesses were lacking.

    In the time of the Gemorah, these punishments would be reminiscent of Iran or Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan. However, I am sure that today other punishments would be used. (more akin to UN or EU sanctions against people they don’t like, but can’t bring to court)

    I don’t doubt that a system of alimony payments between criminal and victim could be used in lieu of a prison system.

    The philosophical aspect of the halachic criminal system as far as I can tell is three fold: 1. The criminal should not become a burden on the society. 2. The potential for atonement or teshuva must be presented to the criminal, and if not accepted, then forced. 3. The family of the criminal should not be unduly punished as well.
    How that works with Torah given punishments for unquestionably committed crimes is a side issue.

  74. IH says:

    “In the time of the Gemorah, these punishments would be reminiscent of Iran or Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan. However, I am sure that today other punishments would be used. (more akin to UN or EU sanctions against people they don’t like, but can’t bring to court).”

    Of course, the same rationale can be used in regard to the role of women in halacha. But I suspect most advocates of using halacha rather than Western law wouldn’t see it that way.

  75. IH says:

    Since the word keeps coming up, what do we learn from the fact the word Sanhedrin is borrowed from the (pagan) Greek?

  76. aiwac says:

    layman,

    “However, the Gemorah discusses many unofficial punishments that could be used where two witnesses were lacking.”

    Name one. Also, are there cases where women could testify? Or a criminal (state’s witness)? Or forensic evidence? And what of confessions?

    That’s just for starters.

  77. Shalom Spira says:

    R’ Layman,
    Thank you for the important question. My understanding is that the blessings of the amidah – and any insertions to those blessings – were formulated by the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah, and so any modification would have be ordained by a Sanhedrin of greater stature than the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah. R. Hershel Schachter frequently quotes R. Yosef Ber Soloveitchik to this effect. However, your point is well taken, and since the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah themselves allow us to add any extemporaneous prayer in Shema Koleinu, I could see the great value of hakarat hatov in adding a prayer during Shema Koleinu thanking HKB”H for the miracle of the State of Israel.

  78. Shalom Spira says:

    But such a prayer, as noted, would have to be extemporaneous – i.e. each Jew would say it as he sees fit (e.g. “Modeh ani lefanekha Ribbono Shel Olam al kol hachessed she’asita imanu lehakim Medinat Yisra’el”), rather than there being one uniform text for all of Klal Yisra’el. A uniform text to be inserted into the amidah can only be composed by a Sanhedrin which exceeds the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah.

  79. Shalom Spira says:

    [Source in point: gemara in Megillah 2a. The gemara observes that the fact that the 11th, 12th and 13th of Adar are suitable for reading the Megillah (under certain circumstances) must have been originally ordained by the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah when they legislated the holiday of Purim in the first place, for no Sanhedrin following the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah could modify its enactment regarding the details of Purim unless it was greater in stature than the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah.]

  80. IH says:

    R. Spira — My copy of the Koren OU siddur states (pp. 109-110):

    “According to tradition, the Amida in embryonic form dates back to the Great Assembly in the time of Ezra following the Jews’ return from Babylon. Several centuries later, it was canonized in a fuller form by Shimon HaPakuli in the days of Rabban Gamliel II (Berakhot 28b).”

  81. joel rich says:

    Since the word keeps coming up, what do we learn from the fact the word Sanhedrin is borrowed from the (pagan) Greek?
    ===========================================
    It’s all from the same root language? (e.g. we learn 4 tfillin compartments from דברי ר’ ישמעאל ר”ע אומר אינו צריך טט בכתפי שתים פת באפריקי שתים)

    KT

  82. Ruvie says:

    Layman – do we really know how any halachik criminal system ever was practice in reality – not in theory of the Talmud? How it was practice in actually governing a society? Just curious how it worked and if it clash with the concept or practice of something called “mishpat ivri”

  83. IH says:

    “It’s all from the same root language? (e.g. we learn 4 tfillin compartments from דברי ר’ ישמעאל ר”ע אומר אינו צריך טט בכתפי שתים פת באפריקי שתים)”

    Unlikely. Greek and Hebrew are from different language families. And on the totafot example, from another blog I follow: http://www.balashon.com/2007/01/totafot.html

    Doesn’t anyone else find it intriguing that the institution vested with so much power in regard to halacha — until today, as exemplified by R. Spira’s slightly incorrect points above — has a name that is undeniably Greek in origin?

  84. IH says:

    Relatedly, as I asked on Sunday:

    In a recent thread, there was a small debate (not involving me) about whether Devorah ha’Neviah was part of the historical Rabbinate. Looking up something else, I noticed this may not be as far-fetched as some thought. See: Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Sanhedrin 4:1 – 4:3 (http://www.mechon-mamre.org/i/e104.htm)

    Is there any classical text that specifically excludes Devorah ha’Neviah from this mesorah?

  85. Nachum says:

    IH, it’s not like they suddenly created an institution called a “Sanhedrin.” There’d been a council of elders even before Moshe. “Sanhedrin” is just what they started to call it sometime between 300 and 200 BCE.

    R’ Spira, the story of Chanukah happened somewhere between a hundred and three hundred years after the Anshei Knesset HaGedola ceased to exist, and yet we say an Al HaNissim to commemorate it. How do you explain that according to your position?

  86. joel rich says:

    r’IH,
    interesting post – (However there is a lot of apologetics out there, saying that there is of course no way that a biblical word could come from any language other than Hebrew). that was my point-how else do you (if “frum”) explain how we learn halachot from some other language (other than they knew the halacha already and this was an asmachta ben asmachta)
    KT

  87. IH says:

    Of course, Sanhedrin is not a biblical word. As far as I can tell, the Mishna is the tie point for the mesorah and for the post-biblical word we use to describe it. See Prof. Schiffman’s From Text to Tradition pp. 68-70.

    I have no formed view on this, just trying to understand…

    P.S. Nachum, I think the suspected dating is later: 1st Cent BCE

  88. this debate over adding al hanisim on yom haatzmaut is interesting, but why was it brought it up? do any datiyim do it today?

    (al hanisim was originally part of nusach kibbutz hadati for yom haatzmaut, but this was opposed by rav goren and it was later omitted from their mahzor. of course it is of interest that nusach kibbutz hadati in general does not follow the rabbanut for yom haatzmaut and there are various differences, including some biggies)

  89. Shalom Spira says:

    Thank you, R’ IH and R’ Nachum, for your excellent questions, which require me to correct my earlier errors.

    1) Regarding Shimon Hapakuli, this is a dispute in the gemara in Megillah 17b. According to one opinion in the gemara, Shimon Hapakuli coined the formula of the amida before the Sanhedrin in Yavneh. According to the other opinion, the Anshei Kenesset Hagedolah coined the formula of the amidah. Rambam in Hilkhot Tefillah 1:4 rules like the second opinion. [And even according to the first opinion, it was still legislated by a Sanhedrin, even if not as illustrious as Anshei Knesset Hagedolah. Thus, only another Sanhedrin could change the text of the amidah.]

    2) It is true, Chanukah occurred much after the period of Anshei Kenesset Hagedolah [notwithstanding the comment of Rashi in Menachot 64b that at least one of the Anshei Kenesset Hagedolah (viz. Mordechai) survived until the end of the Second Temple, a comment which is challenged by Tosafot]. Presumably, then, R. Soloveitchik’s understanding was that the Sanhedrin which ordained the amidah stipulated that any future holiday which a Sanhedrin will ordain to thank HKB”H over a miracle will merit its own Al Hanissim prayer, with the Al Hanissim to be composed by that Sanhedrin.

  90. Shalom Spira says:

    Here are R. Soloveitchik’s words quoted by R. Jacob J. Schacter in Tradition, Summer 2008, pp. 176-177. R. Soloveitchik, in context, is not addressing Al Hanissim for Yom Ha’atzma’ut, but rather the composition of new prayers to commemorate the Holocaust.

    “The Gemara (Megila 17b) says that “One hundred and twenty elders, among whom were many prophets, wrote our Shemone Esrei.” Only they could write it.
    Prayer is not just a hymn, but a copy of a conversation between HKB”H and a human being. Who can write such a conversation? Only the Men of the Great Assembly and the prophets were able to do it. That is why we are so careful about every word in the nusah ha-tefilla, the text of the liturgy…”

  91. R. Spira:

    could you please elaborate, because our siddur looks nothing like it did 2,000 years ago. who authorized all these changes and additions?

  92. Nachum says:

    R’ Spira, the Sanhedrin ceased to exist, at the latest, in about 450 CE. (Probably well over a hundred years before that.) The earliest siddurim we have are centuries later, and they are not like any nusach today. All nuschaot today are based on those, and any differences between Ashkenazim and Sepharadim (and others) came even later. “Sfrad” (i.e., Chassidish) was basically invented in the late 1700′s if not later. No Sanhedrin, and these differences include many within the Shemona Esrei.

  93. IH says:

    R. Spira — So as not to point you to a source with which you are not comfortable, see Rav Steinsaltz’s (2000) “A Guide to Jewish Prayer” pp. 51 – 53. Or in the (1994) two-volume Hebrew version, Volume 1 pp. 50 – 51.

  94. Shalom Spira says:

    R’ Abba, R’ Nachum, and R’ IH,
    Thank you for the excellent questions. My understanding is that the differences between Ashkenazi, Sefard and Sefardi nus’cha’ot represent a debate among the poskim what exactly the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah ordained. In other words, every community does its best to maintain the original nusakh of the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah, but it is inevitable that with the passage of centuries, a few minor changes evolve here and there, and so a panoply of parallel traditions emerge (-ditto with different dialects in pronunciation of Hebrew). But no one ever consciously inserted a new prayer that the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah did not ordain.
    On a deeper level, one could suggest (as ROY does in Shu”t Yabi’a Omer VI, OC no. 41 – IIRC the idea he references originates with the Arizal) that every tribe was intentionally given a slightly different nusakh of prayer by the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah. RJDB told me he speculates the same is true for different forms of pronunciation of Hebrew: every tribe had a different dialect(contrary to RMF who assumes in IM OC 3:5 that all Jews monolithically spoke the same form of Hebrew until the end of the First Temple).

  95. Shalom Spira says:

    Sorry for my misreference… It’s Yabi’a Omer VI, OC no. 11. Thank you.

  96. R. Spira:

    “But no one ever consciously inserted a new prayer that the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah did not ordain.”

    was about all the piyyutim, yotzros, mi sheberakhs (dozens documented by yaari), unetane tokef, lecha dodi, holocaust kinos, etc.?

  97. mycroft says:

    “(contrary to RMF who assumes in IM OC 3:5 that all Jews monolithically spoke the same form of Hebrew until the end of the First Temple).”

    How about shibboleth?

  98. layman says:

    “layman,

    “However, the Gemorah discusses many unofficial punishments that could be used where two witnesses were lacking.”

    Name one. Also, are there cases where women could testify? Or a criminal (state’s witness)? Or forensic evidence? And what of confessions?

    That’s just for starters.”

    Aiwac: It has been many years since I had my class in highschool about this topic. However, I remember a few instances.
    1. There are cases where 1 single female witness is allowed. I believe this is in Kidushin.
    2. There are a few punishments, such as forcing a man in a box, or starving him and then feeding him oats and water, which are done when 2 witnesses can not be found.
    3. Many instances of Lashes don’t require witnesses. For example, if the punishment requires something harsher, but witnesses can not be found, they might get lashes instead.
    4. I remember a general principle that the courts have authority to do certain things, which are extra and outside the system of strict Torah based punishments. This sort of authority is what allowed for Prozbul etc.

    @IH I’m not so sure that most people who would want a halachic system, would really want to be feeding people dried oats and then water for punishment, or would be digging pits to bury a person up to their head.

    “this debate over adding al hanisim on yom haatzmaut is interesting, but why was it brought it up? do any datiyim do it today?”

    Yes, that was the purpose of the link I provided. It was a halachic ruling by Machon Shilo to say that prayer on 5th of Iyar instead of 6th of Iyar when the celebrations took place.

  99. IH says:

    I’m not so sure that most people who would want a halachic system, would really want the halachic system they claim to want.

  100. Nachum says:

    R’ Spira: With all due respect to those sources, those are post-facto kvetches, as should be obvious.

    The bracha of “Et Tzemach David” was simply not said in Eretz Yisrael; thus it was created not by the Anshei Knesset HaGedola or a Sanhedrin.

  101. Shalom Spira says:

    R’ Abba,
    Thank you for the valuable question regarding piyutim, which seemingly refutes R. Soloveitchik. Clearly, this could not (or at least should not) have escaped R. Soloveitchik’s attention, as R. Soloveitchik commented extensively on the High Holiday piyutim (as becomes apparent from the recently published “Rabbi Soloveitchik machzor”, available for purchase at http://www.ou.org/torah/ravmachzor ). Perhaps there is a difference to be drawn between the silent amidah and chazarat hashat”z. The silent amidah is sacrosanct for R. Soloveitchik and may not be changed, but chazarat hasha”tz – which is tefillat hatzibbur – lends itself to additional prayers beyond that which Anshei Knesset Hagedolah authorized. Of course, even during chazarat hasha”tz, the addition of piyutim is with the greatest of hesitation, as evident by the need for the introductory paragraph “Misod chakhamim unevonim”.

  102. Shalom Spira says:

    That said, R. Soloveitchik’s extrapolation from the gemara in Megillah 17b to refuse to even allow kinot to be composed over the Holocaust is clearly refuted by your excellent question, R’ Abba. If piyutim could be written after Anshei Knesset Hagedolah, why can’t kinot be written over the Holocaust? Okay, HaGa’on HaRav R. Soloveitchik didn’t agree, but I agree with your lomdut R’ Abba more than the lomdut of R. Soloveitchik. Indeed, I do recite a kinah for the Holocaust (following the example of my teacher R. Joshua Shmidman), with all due reverence to Moreinu VeRabbeinu R. Soloveitchik. However, R. Soloveitchik’s reasoning is certainly powerful enough to prohibit adding an Al Hanissim for the amidah (or birkat hamazon) of Yom Ha’atzma’ut until authorized by a Sanhedrin. The blessings of the amidah and birkat hamazon were formulated by the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah, and can only be changed with the assent of a Sanhedrin.

  103. IH says:

    R. Spira — perhap it would be best for you to discuss the matter with R. Sacks or the editorial board at the OU who approved the explicit statement in regard to the amidah that I quoted earlier in the discussion (from pp. 109-110):

    “According to tradition, the Amida in embryonic form dates back to the Great Assembly in the time of Ezra following the Jews’ return from Babylon. Several centuries later, it was canonized in a fuller form by Shimon HaPakuli in the days of Rabban Gamliel II (Berakhot 28b).”

  104. MDJ says:

    IH,
    Perhaps better would be for R. Spira to take up the issue with Ravina and Rav Ashi,who permitted the statement regarding Birchas haminim in the Bavil.

  105. Shalom Spira says:

    R’ Nachum, R’ IH, R’ MDJ,
    Thank you for the important responses. There was a Sanhedrin functioning until the days of Ravina and Rav Ashi. Therein lies the difference.

  106. MDJ says:

    A sanhedrin of Musmachim?

  107. Shalom Spira says:

    Thank you, R’ MDJ, for prompting me to search further. According to Wikipedia, Rav Ashi ascended to the Heavenly Academy in 425 C.E., and the last Nassi of the Sanhedrin (Rabban Gamliel VI) ascended to the Heavenly Academy in 427. Thus, the timing appears perfect. The Talmud was arranged with the final sitting of the Sanhedrin.

    Cf. comments of the Noda Bi’yehudah, Even Ha’ezer II, no. 79:
    “Know, my beloved disciple, and let these words be engraved upon the chamber of your heart for recollection, the great principle that there is no permission for any of the Sages after the Talmud to say any matter against the Talmud…”
    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=1447&st=&pgnum=325

  108. Nachum says:

    Oy. Where to start?

    -”Ravina and Rav Ashi” is shorthand for “closing of the Talmud Bavli,” which happened, at the earliest, in 500 CE, maybe as much as a hundred years later. Ravina, as it happens, died fifty years after R’ Ashi.

    -The Talmud Bavli was finished in, well, Bavel, where there was no Sanhedrin. That much should be obvious.

    -The Sanhedrin had ceased to function by the time of Hillel II, who died over sixty years before Gamaliel VI. Hillel seems to have called it into “emergency” session to set the calendar, and it ceased after that, and likely had for all intents well before.

  109. Jeremy Simon says:

    Nachum,
    Although you are supporting my point, I must say that after having the same reaction you had about the end of the sanhedrin I went on line and found that some historians do believe it existed until it was suppressed under Theodosian II in the time of Gamliel VI.

  110. IH says:

    There must be a modern scholarly go-to paper on the history of the Sanhedrin. Anyone know of one (preferably that has broad support).

  111. Sammy Finkelman says:

    It wasn’t exactly technology but actually the extra contact with Israel that pushed a date change, and this cannot really be called a change in Halacha. It’s not real Halacha anyway. And the change happened because the date was not really well established in the first place.

    You could have had the same situation before had a lot of people listened to Israeli radio. That was not the case. It would be the e-mail and increased travel that maybe did it, and the transition may not yet really be complete by now.

    There are other holidays celebrated on different dates. Not only the extra days outside Ertez Yisroel, which creates a totally different date for Simchas Torah and Yizkor on Pesach, but shushan Purim which is celebrated at a diffeernt date in Jerusalem and a few other places. But we have no tradition for doing this and people apapranetly more or less have decided to follow Israel in this, even though the reason in Israel does not apply here.

    Customs and practices are still informal.

    In our synagague there is somebody who has some kind of striong connection to Israel who brought in some papaer printed from the internet giving the order of service,

    Now what we did is not say tachanun on two days and followed it said for Maariv including blowing a shofar (which happens to be veyr handy) and the person on teh omud who had yahrzeit said the brachah also for Hallel at night – automatically I think. the next day we said Hallel but did nothing else.

    This is actuially only teh sedcond year we have done something like this. before maybe hallekl was said without a Bracha.

  112. Sammy Finkelman says:

    Computerized Jewish calendars I think show Yom Ha-Atzma’ut always occuring on the 5th of Iyar and Yom HaShoah on the 27th of Nisan (which was icked I think becaus ethe 27th of Nisan never comes out on a shabbos and only rarely on a Friday)

    At some point people in Israel realized they could push the date around of both those occasions. I would like to know is theer any place where there is a chronology that tells just when the date changes took place? The only old one is that Yom Ha-Atzma’ut was never celebrated on a Shabbos.

    Yom Hazikoron is not much observed outside of israel except maybe with a Keil Malah Rachamun.

  113. IH says:

    Again, my understanding is the date for Yom Ha’atzmaut in Israel is simply a function of the well understood calendar shita:

    יום העצמאות נקבע ליום ה׳ אייר, והוא חל באותו יום בשבוע כמו שביעי של פסח לפי סימני אתב״ש ז״ע – שהוא שביעי: עצמאות

  114. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    However, I am sure that today other punishments would be used. (more akin to UN or EU sanctions against people they don’t like, but can’t bring to court)

    dont we have such a system today (for civil cases) — its called seruvim by b”d — which everyone ignores. perhaps that should be the (current) solution.

    2. “I don’t doubt that a system of alimony payments between criminal and victim could be used in lieu of a prison system.”

    not practical in cases of stealing more than what one is worth. (and the analogy exists — “eved ivri”.) actually prison system does not exist in halacha (except for conditions not relevant to this discussion.)

    3. to aiwac — your issue with get me’useh, and general pblm of agunot — is very simple, in my opinion. get rid of the pna steve b and others write so highly about, and substitute a completely english written k’tubah, with complete property and child custody provisions. (the pblm is – the document designed to protect women would then be completely invalid under us law. that should be the focus of lobbying, not the controversial get laws of nys)

    4. adding “tachnunim” requests during “shma kolenu” is also halachicaly controversial. practiced by chassidim (generally) and frowned upon by yeshivish / litvish.

 
 

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