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Delayed Burial and Modern Orthodoxies

 

History often provides examples that reflect contemporary circumstances. Despite the necessary simplifications in the applications to different circumstances, the past often informs us about the present. A recent news report brought to mind just such a case, a centuries-old debate that sheds light on the current dichotomy in Modern Orthodoxy and offers me insight into situations in which I often find myself, both on this blog and in real life.

I. Premature Death

This past Sunday, a South African man awoke after 21 hours of unconsciousness to find himself trapped in a morgue refrigerator (link). This story fullfills a fear from centuries ago. In the mid-eighteenth century, some governments enacted regulations requiring multi-day delays before burial due to the concern that a live person might be entombed. It was a concern based on then-current medical theories, not actual experience. In 1772, Duke Friedrich of Mecklenburg-Schwerin enacted such a law and made it binding even on the Jewish community within his domain. Concerned about this challenge to the Jewish tradition of quick burial, the Jewish community enlisted Moses Mendelssohn to appeal to the duke. Mendelssohn successfully reached a compromise that satisfied the duke’s concern while maintaining the Jewish tradition: a doctor’s declaration of death sufficed to remove the delay period before burial.

However, Mendelssohn wondered aloud to the leaders of the Jewish community and to R. Ya’akov Emden, a leading halakhic authority of the time, whether Judaism may allow delayed burial. R. Emden strongly disagreed and the two, long on friendly terms, corresponded on the subject (see R. Alexander Altmann, Moses Mendelssohn: A Biographical Study, p. 288ff.). In an insightful unpublished 1984 paper on this correspondence, Prof. Lawrence Kaplan uncovers layers of attitudes that resonate centuries later (“On the Boundary Between Old and New: The Correspondence Between Moses Mendelssohn and R. Jacob Emden”). With his permission to use the unrevised draft, I will apply portions of his study to Modern Orthodoxy today.

II. Abolishing Practices

On first consideration, Mendelssohn’s position seems obviously correct. When there is real concern for preserving life, piku’ach nefesh, the imperative to save a life, should certainly override the obligation of quick burial. Mendelssohn had much more on his side, both from historical and textual observations, but they seem secondary to me when such a no-brainer calculus is involved. Yet R. Emden strongly disagreed. He countered that the danger to life is minuscule. A chevra kadisha, Jewish burial society, would certainly discover any live bodies. Halakhah need not concern itself with the extremely remote possibility, nearly impossible, that a live person would be mistakenly prepared and buried.

There are many elements to this conversation that I am omitting, including important points that Prof. Kaplan analyzes. I want to focus on one specific issue that Prof. Kaplan uncovers, which I think reflects contemporary thinking very well. At one point in the exchange, R. Emden emphasizes that he is personally quick to forcefully oppose improper Jewish customs. However, he did not equate all practices. He only advocated abolishing customs that are 1) late in origin, 2) local, 3) textually unfounded and 4) superfluous stringencies (this is Prof. Kaplan’s list of R. Emden’s considerations – p. 26). Even regarding the Ashkenazic custom of refraining from eating kitniyos on Pesach, about which R. Emden bitterly complained, he felt powerless to abolish it (see this post: link). Mendelssohn, on the other hand, wanted to abolish all practices that are irrational and for which a contrary rabbinic source exists. His fidelity to Divine will as interpreted by the Sages was unwavering. However, he wished to rid Judaism of irrational, and therefore damaging, accretions.

Both R. Emden and Mendelssohn shared this goal of ridding Judaism of improper practices that had arisen over the ages. However, their programs differed significantly in their attitudes toward tradition. R. Emden was part of his contemporary world of rabbinic Judaism, which he wished to preserve and strengthen. Mendelssohn wanted to recover an ancient, authentic rabbinic Judaism that was more in tune with Enlightenment thought. Mendelssohn saw the common ground between the two and mistook it as agreement. He failed to recognize their differing attitudes and was therefore surprised by R. Emden’s strong opposition.

III. Today

To a degree, both of these attitudes exist in contemporary Modern Orthodoxy. I consider myself and my teachers in the right wing of Modern Orthodoxy to be followers of R. Emden (within this typology). We respect traditional practices and wish to strengthen today’s rabbinic Judaism. However, we have little patience for many new practices that have recently arisen and wish to abolish them. Whether segulos, upsherin or any number of new-fangled customs that serve no purpose and are generally based on superstition, we at most tolerate them and at best abolish them, particularly when there is a good reason. To cite one example, R. Hershel Schachter recommends discarding the new practice of a couple refraining from seeing each other the week of their wedding, and instead taking pictures earlier on the wedding day to avoid delays during the celebration. But we hold closely our long-standing customs, particularly those that are universally observed. If it were up to me and I had the power, I would abolish the custom to refrain from eating kitniyos on Pesach. But we don’t have that power and I cannot bear the thought of discarding centuries of Ashkenazic practice.

Some (not all and maybe not even most) to the left of Modern Orthodoxy are following Mendelssohn (let me hasten to add that I am not one who anachronistically equates Mendelssohn with Reform and mean no veiled attack in this; I see nothing wrong with being an intellectual descendant of Mendelssohn). They wish to abolish any custom they consider irrational or counterproductive and will latch onto any source that they believe gives them an ancient foothold on which to do so. They feel comfortable bypassing the consensus of halakhic opinion in order to recover the authentic, rational, compassionate Judaism. We see this in attitudes to conversion and women’s roles, where what are generally considered as at most minority opinions are raised as the necessary paths of the future.

Yet there is a misunderstanding of attitudes. Mendelssohn saw R. Emden as a colleague in his effort but R. Emden had a different program. Similarly, many people on the left see my attitudes toward a number of issues and think I fit within their program. On some issues, where our views intersect, I do. But they are often surprised, and even angry, when they learn that I am on the side of tradition. They also miss the progressiveness of right wing Modern Orthodox rabbis. Seeing their strong stances on issues of tradition, they mistake them for Charedim. Yet rabbis like R. Hershel Schachter and many others believe in change. They have a program like R. Emden’s, which opposes many recent excesses but stays firmly within the traditional world of Judaism.

What lies in the future? How do we overcome these gaps and move together as a community? I have no idea. However, this episode from the past helps us identify some of the differences we face today.

(Please note that any name-calling in the comments, particularly of contemporary rabbis, will be unhesitatingly deleted. Please think carefully before submitting a comment.)

 

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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.
 

213 Responses

  1. Mark says:

    How do we overcome these gaps and move together as a community?

    Well … first we have to become “a community”. Right now we are multiple communities. And I don’t mean only LWMO, MO, RWMO, UO, etc as “multiple”. I mean also within each of those classifications there are multiple communities that aren’t cohesive enough to “move together” anywhere.

  2. Noam Stadlan says:

    My first point would be the obvious one- those(like Rav Schachter and many others on the right) who insist that death is defined by the cessation of respiration and/or circulation have to acknowledge that if indeed the person lacked respiration and circulation(and how long do they have to be without respiration and/or circulation to be declared dead?- no one seemed to be able to answer that question with precision) then he in fact was dead, and his awakening is nothing less then a resurrection.

    More to the general point of this post is the issue of how halacha applies to changing situations. It isn’t a cut and dry distinction between the upholders of tradition and those scouring the talmud for a trace of support. For some of us, is the difference between those who want to canonnize specific opinions versus those who recognize that the application of halacha depends on the facts on the ground, and when those facts change, the results of the halachic analysis sometimes changes as well.

    In response to the specific rabbi mentioned in the post- yes, it is sometimes hard to recognize progressiveness. He is against women’s tefilla groups because he is against them, and then decides the halachic issues accordingly(this is what you wrote in your post on his views). He agrees with the Chazon Ish that modern science and evidence cannot have any sort of influence on deciding issues of death because it is after the close of the 2000 year era of Torah. And if we want to think more deeply about it, what is the boundary line between ‘recent excess’ and ‘time bound tradition’?
    I think all of us who believe in Torah and Mitzvot want to say that we are on the side of tradition- except that our definitions of tradition differ.

  3. Joshua Josephs says:

    I think one of the missing pieces in the halachic thought and evolution is the role of the decline of the generations in causing some poskim to be unwilling to overturn practices that have been established. This is one of the distinguishing features about observant Conservative Judaism is that they effectively have a sanhedrin, the Committee of Jewish Law and Standards, that they feel is empowered to set halacha even counter to previous decisions. For an interesting view of this see Miriam Berkowitz on their decision about Niddah.

    http://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/sites/default/files/public/halakhah/teshuvot/20052010/berkowitz_niddah.pdf

  4. Charlie Hall says:

    “But they are often surprised, and even angry, when they learn that I am on the side of tradition. ”

    I am sometimes surprised but never angry. You are more learned than me and are entitled to differ with me!

  5. Moshe says:

    How do you define “new practices that have recently arisen”? Do you have a set definition or is it a fluid line that wavers? Upsherin (which I am firmly against) is not “new” (unless you mean less than 500 years old), so too dancing around a bonfire like savages on the mistaken yahrtzeit of a certain sage. How about going to Uman on R”H? That is also pretty old for the Breslover Hasidim – but only became a “common” minhag a few years ago.

  6. Jon_Brooklyn says:

    This was probably the most important sentence in this post:

    Some (not all and maybe not even most) to the left of Modern Orthodoxy are following Mendelssohn (let me hasten to add that I am not one who anachronistically equates Mendelssohn with Reform and mean no veiled attack in this; I see nothing wrong with being an intellectual descendant of Mendelssohn).

  7. Shachar Ha'amim says:

    aren’t many of the issues surrounding burial – including not delaying burial, or not agreeing to provide organs for transplants (or even worse – not providing organs, but be willing to accept organs, and now to be willing to lie and claim that you will donate in order to move ahead on the line to receive but knowing that your “rabbi” will never approve your donation) all based on some form of reasoning or practices which “serve no purpose and are generally based on superstition”?

  8. Ben Elton says:

    The different approaches set out here, and in R. Yonatan Kaganoff’s Two Types of Orthodox Judaism, could be traced back to two alternative rabbinic forebears.

    On the one hand there is the Gaon of Vilna, who insisted on going back to the Gemara and as a result uprooted many minhagim, including liturgical practices, and thereby created the recognisably different and non-traditional Nusach haGra. This approach flowed through the students of the Gra to the world of Brisk, which often floated, and sometimes implemented, new practices based on the reading of the Gemara in the face of ancient and established minhagim.

    On the other hand there is Zacharia Frankel. He urged that even if a new practice could be justified by the texts, or an old one could be dispensed with because a full analysis revealed it to be without solid foundation, such enterprises were to be avoided. Charging round Jewish religious life abolishing this and changing that would tear at the fabric of Jewish tradition. It would undermine the sacred continuity of Jewish religious life.

    Frankel beleived in Torah mi Sinai, so he cannot be counted as a forebear of contemporary Conservative Judaism, but he was very much a small c conservative. The Gaon and his disciples were far more radical. Their legitimisation of change on the basis of texts let the genie out of the bottle. Haym Soloveithik and others have shown how a textual approach has led to chumrot. What the current generation of left wing modern orthodox rabbis and scholars are doing is applying the same methodology to see if there is room for movement on the issues that matter to them. The case for aliyot for women is built on texts, and the value of minhag is set aside. Frankel would not have approved, and the Goan would doubtless have been displeased with the outcome, but in the methodological sense they are surely his followers.

  9. J. says:

    A fascinating analysis of how the Gra’s approach to halacha led to the various halachic disputes that have occurred regarding city eruvin over the last two centuries (see further sections too):
    http://eruvonline.blogspot.com/2009/11/part-1-meoz-umekedem-exploring_24.html

  10. joel rich says:

    it sounds to me like we need to define R’ gil’s 2 prong test structure:

    A.abolishing customs that are 1) late in origin, 2) local, 3) textually unfounded and 4) superfluous stringencies

    B.but not those that are:long-standing customs, particularly those that are universally observed AND that we don’t have that power and cannot bear the thought of discarding centuries of practice
    .

    Funny thing is-if you put it all together it sounds like the Gra’s definition of chukat hagoyim – things around for a long time whose origin is unknown and don’t make halachic sense!
    KT

  11. rv says:

    R’ Student,

    Your desire to rid ourselves of the kitniyot minhag is laudable.
    Some rabbis such as Rabbi David Bar-Hayim feel that minhagim rooted in error can and should be nullified. The Tur and Rabbeinu Yerucham were also of this opinion. Why do you feel that this is not possible?

  12. chardal says:

    So basically, on one foot, you are willing to tollerage old nurishkeit but not new nurishkeit.

    >Whether segulos, upsherin or any number of new-fangled customs that serve no purpose

    Such as reading zecher zeicher? There are plenty of recent ridiculous pet minhagim of the right wing which serve no real purpose.

  13. Mike S. says:

    One way to be more united is to be careful how we speak about ourselves and each other. For example, “They have a program like R. Emden’s, which opposes many recent excesses but stays firmly within the traditional world of Judaism.” seems to imply that those who disagree (whether on the right by holding fast to “more recent excesses” or on the left by modifying a wider selection of practices) are outside of traditional Judaism.

    Overcoming gaps and moving forward together as a community are only desirable to the extent we are going toward the same goal. If we limit that goal to serving God as He commanded, we are all going toward the same goal. It is when we narrow our interpretation of “as He commanded,” that we end up with disunity. Yet we must all narrow that interpretation to some extent or it becomes meaningless.

  14. Hirhurim says:

    Dr. Stadlan: I believe everyone requires cessation of respiration and/or circulation to be irreversible.

    But you are correct that no distinctions are evert cut and dry. R. Schachter often says that halakhah has to change based on the facts on the ground (e.g. his TorahWeb lecture on Modern Orthodoxy).

    I’m not going to revisit WPGs. Too many times. I’ve said my piece at great length on this blog and in my book.

    Joshua Josephs: Agreed regarding deference to great previous authorities. The Seridei Eish is probably a stronger example of deference than most poskim today.

    Moshe: I don’t see how a firm definition of “new” helps us here. We aren’t ruling on customs. Just trying to understand trends in our community.

    Jon_Brooklyn: Care to elaborate?

    Shachar Ha’Amim: aren’t many of the issues surrounding burial – including not delaying burial, or not agreeing to provide organs for transplants… all based on some form of reasoning or practices which “serve no purpose and are generally based on superstition”?

    Yes. But why would someone object to them when they are essentially harmful and probably meaningful to many, not to mention ancient?

    Ben Elton: That is an unusual dichotomy that, I think, overstates each person’s position. Most of Nusach HaGra consists of variations of Nusach Ashkenaz. He just chose variants that siddur publishers didn’t when they “canonized” the Nusach without authorization. Frankel rejected halakhah le-Moshe mi-Sinai so I don’t know why he’s in the discussion. You could easily have quoted Hungarian poskim who follow precedents (except when they don’t).

    rv: R. David Bar Hayyim is irrelevant on multiple levels. Please stop mentioning his name at every possible time.

    Chardal: So basically, on one foot, you are willing to tollerage old nurishkeit but not new nurishkeit.

    Klal Yisrael can sanctify practices.

    Such as reading zecher zeicher? There are plenty of recent ridiculous pet minhagim of the right wing which serve no real purpose.

    You don’t have to do them but why oppose something harmless like that?

  15. Nachum says:

    I’ve pointed this out before, but I’ve always found it interesting that Mendelssohn’s own tombstone- the only one still standing in the Berlin Jewish cemetery- takes care to point out that he was buried within one day of his death.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ae/Juedischer_Friedhof_Berlin-mitte_2.jpg

  16. J. says:

    Does Rav Schachter have specific aims in mind? Would he like Orthodoxy to be more ______ (fill in blank), as opposed to simply more punctilious in mitzva observance?

  17. Shachar Ha'amim says:

    Shachar Ha’Amim: aren’t many of the issues surrounding burial – including not delaying burial, or not agreeing to provide organs for transplants… all based on some form of reasoning or practices which “serve no purpose and are generally based on superstition”?

    Yes. But why would someone object to them when they are essentially harmful and probably meaningful to many, not to mention ancient?

    >> I think you meant to say “essentially not harmful…”
    in general you are correct. But when a chevra kadisha INSISTS on performing a burial immediately – even before certain important relatives have been able to arrive – arguing principles of halanat hamet, they are causing harm to people

    when people refuse to donate organs (and even worse, etc… as I noted in my previous post) because of notions surrounding shleimat haguf which are largely based on some form of reasoning or practices which “serve no purpose and are generally based on superstition” they are causing harms to many, many people – if not sentencing them to death as an organ donor regime cannot work withou active participation of the populace. Yes, I know that there are issues about controlling doctors who may “pull the pluf” too early and such, but that is a separate issue. My argument here is raised solely against those who are against organ donations b/c of “Jewish practice” issues surrounding proper burial.

  18. HAGTBG says:

    When I started reading this piece I expected you to take this down the road of who has sufficient knowledge to make a call on an issue that is potentially pikuach nefesh, rabbis or doctors. R’ Emden thought that the possibility of a chevra kadisha burying someone alive was so remote that it was statistically invalid for policy consideration. Mendolsohn wanted to rely on medical expertise. The comparison to the child-abuse issue today to me seemed how you were going, and explained the fact-pattern set out. But that’s not the way you went.

    I am, frankly, taken aback that you could make the remote (but actual) possible horror of being buried alive as secondary to a tradition.

    It was a concern based on then-current medical theories, not actual experience.

    What are you talking about? There are numerous times this has occurred into modern times.

    http://www.snopes.com/horrors/gruesome/buried.asp http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Premature_burial

    And if Judaism has had no cases of it with its quick burial, then that argues as much that there is a problem then the other way around.

    They wish to abolish any custom they consider irrational or counterproductive and will latch onto any source that they believe gives them an ancient foothold on which to do so.

    I do not believe that is the case. They generally want to abolish customs that are irrational AND counterproductive.

    But we don’t have that power and I cannot bear the thought of discarding centuries of Ashkenazic practice.

    I could easily bear the thought. I’d bear that thought while I was
    enjoying normal bowel movements all throughout the chag. I’d bear that thought while I was eating my chumos and peanut butter (not together). Oh, I’d bear that thought. In fact, I believe there are generations of Ashkenazi Jews, who, I believe were in the same boat as me: they wish the community would permit the permissible. But I don’t do it, because then I’ll be accused of violating Pesach by everyone around me. Because at the end of the day, you can’t be in good standing as an Ashkenazi if you eat kitniyot.

    Yet rabbis like R. Hershel Schachter and many others believe in change. They have a program like R. Emden’s, which opposes many recent excesses but stays firmly within the traditional world of Judaism.

    A shame you don’t allow the courtesy of the designation “stays firmly within the traditional world of Judaism” to the detractors. If they are *properly* following the halachic process how are they not following the “traditional world of Judaism,” even if their conclusions differ from normative practice (which you allow even R’ Emden and RHS is not above changing)?

    (And RHS is accused of being charedi as much for his deferral to the charedi as to the output of his responsa.)

    And while I recognized you do not cite Mendolsohn as a precursor LWMO figure to bash them, its obvious others will. As its unlikely that LWMO are inspired by Mendolsohn today, frankly I fail to see what is gained by making think link other then also linking to the canard that he caused Reform.

  19. HAGTBG says:

    But we don’t have that power and I cannot bear the thought of discarding centuries of Ashkenazic practice.

    BTW, can you perhaps care to explain why the kitniyot prohibiition is actually expanding in modern times. (A) Corn does not fall under the traditional view of kitniyot [one rabbi stated publicly by me that if we called it maize instead of corn it would never have been prohibited], (B) Peanuts, (C) now, Quinoa. I’m sure there are others.

  20. HAGTBG says:

    Last post for now, about being buried alive, I have no way of knowing how common or uncommon it is. Nowadays, most people embalm and that would kill those not already dead. However, in the days before embalming was common, 1896, according to the Snopes link (whose accuracy I do not know) a person who supervised reinternment in the last century, T.M. montgomery, estimated that over 1% of those buried were still alive. Wikipedia noted that Mythbusters looked into the issue and concluded it is essentially impossible to get out of a buried coffin alive.

  21. Ben Elton says:

    Gil wrote: ‘Frankel rejected halakhah le-Moshe mi-Sinai’

    No he didn’t. He argued that halakhot referred to by that designation were not necessarily literally so. That position is famously to be found in the Rosh at the beginning of Hilkhot Mikvaot and is adopted by the Talmudic Encyclopedia. Whatever their origin, Frankel never disputed the authority of those halakhot, which are in any case very few in number.

    What ‘halakhah le-Moshe mi-Sinai’ means is a different argument to whether Moshe received a Torah shebal peh. Frankel only wrote about the development of the TSBP from the time of Ezra, but during the dispute with R. Hirsch assured R. SY Rapoport that he did beleive that a TSBP was given to Moshe. That is certainly the logical result of believing that the Written Law was given to Moshe, because without an Oral accompaniment he wouldn’t be able to understand it.

  22. chardal says:

    >Klal Yisrael can sanctify practices.

    I agree – but why does that mean that those practices do not still need to pass the basic tests of reason?

    >You don’t have to do them but why oppose something harmless like that?

    Most of the hocus pocus segula stuff is also “harmless” – except for that zecher zeicher perpetuates a basic ignorance of massoretic studies, encourages an ignorance of the very nature of how we read the Torah. serves no particular halachic purpose – and frankly makes the reading sound like there are extra words that are not really there. See R’ Broyer’s article on the topic to see why it should be viewed as negative.

    But since its the “frum” thing to do – no one opposes it.

    Point is, that new traditions are introduced all the time by the right and old traditions are rejected all the time (how many piutim have you heard on yom kippur at the last yeshivish tefilla you attended?) The only things different between the left and the right are the motivations for changing practice. And much of what motivates the MO right wing is “what will the chareidim say?”

  23. chardal says:

    >Frankel rejected halakhah le-Moshe mi-Sinai

    Frankel’s views are virtually indistinguishable from what the mainstream orthodox academic believes. He was remarkably traditional and his thought and work was acceptable to almost every German orthdox rabbi outside of the narrow and zealous circles of R’ Hirsch.

    Why is the position that not all instances of halacha leMoshe miSinai are historically from Sinai (a position that is found in major rishonim) outside the pale??

    And BTW, in darchei haMishna, he does say that some uses of the term do refer to a tradition that is of sinaitic origin.

  24. Hirhurim says:

    Chardal: I agree – but why does that mean that those practices do not still need to pass the basic tests of reason?

    Because we can assume that they did and even if they did not, we can reinterpret them.

    Most of the hocus pocus segula stuff is also “harmless”

    I think many agree with you but I do not. I consider them hashkafically dangerous.

    except for that zecher zeicher perpetuates a basic ignorance of massoretic studies, encourages an ignorance of the very nature of how we read the Torah. serves no particular halachic purpose

    I believe that all qualifies as “your opinion” or “R. Breuer’s opinion”. Meaning — R. Breuer thinks it is wrong and therefore anyone who does it is ignorant. I don’t know that he has become the final word on the subject.

    Point is, that new traditions are introduced all the time by the right and old traditions are rejected all the time

    Agreed and I think this is where the left and right find common ground. Not all new practices are bad and not all old practices are good.

    And much of what motivates the MO right wing is “what will the chareidim say?”

    In my experience, that is very very rarely the case.

    Frankel’s views are virtually indistinguishable from what the mainstream orthodox academic believes.

    And therefore…?

    He was remarkably traditional…

    He was among the founders of the Reform movement but walked out when they became too radical.

  25. GIL:

    “Klal Yisrael can sanctify practices.”

    1) sounds like fraenkel
    2) can they desanctify them?

    “You don’t have to do them but why oppose something harmless like that?”

    the problem is that today, for various reasons, many people think that anyone who does not practice a particular minhag, no matter how localized, baseless or even wrong, is not frum.

    so if someone wants to do upsherin or zeicher/zecher, that is fine (assuming these are mutar*). but many people who do them then take the next step and assume everyone needs to do them and if they don’t they aren’t frum.

    i guess the simple answer to “why oppose it” is because it’s contagious.
    _________
    *tangentially, i don’t understand why zeicher/zecher which you responded to is so simply mutar? there is a wide range of views of what type of mistakes need to be corrected, but on average zeicher/zecher isn’t a correctable mistake. some will chime in that because it is (possibly) a deoraysa we need to be extra careful. (careful about what?–we know the correct reading.) but to follow up on your previous post, i’m always amazed how most baale keriah are so careful to repeat zeicher/zecher but then butcher the rest of the aliyah. i mean how many who are so concerned about zeicher/zecher only a few words earlier in the very same pasuk actually omit a letter (i.e., the heh in le-rishtah)! and the people who repeat the entire the pasuk (this i have no idea why) omit a letter twice!

  26. Hirhurim says:

    J: Does Rav Schachter have specific aims in mind? Would he like Orthodoxy to be more ______ (fill in blank), as opposed to simply more punctilious in mitzva observance?

    No, he does not consciously promote an agenda. He follows the methodology and worldview he was taught by his various teachers, including but not limited to Rav Soloveitchik.

    Shachar Ha’Amim: But when a chevra kadisha INSISTS on performing a burial immediately – even before certain important relatives have been able to arrive – arguing principles of halanat hamet, they are causing harm to people

    I agree. A rabbi should step in and put a stop to it.

    when people refuse to donate organs… because of notions surrounding shleimat haguf

    I agree. There are good reasons not to donate organs but this isn’t one of them.

    HAGTBG: I am, frankly, taken aback that you could make the remote (but actual) possible horror of being buried alive as secondary to a tradition.
    >>It was a concern based on then-current medical theories, not actual experience.
    What are you talking about?

    That is what the historians say and I am relying on them. Perhaps Dr. Kaplan can offer an opinion on this.

    BTW, can you perhaps care to explain why the kitniyot prohibiition is actually expanding in modern times. (A) Corn does not fall under the traditional view of kitniyot [one rabbi stated publicly by me that if we called it maize instead of corn it would never have been prohibited], (B) Peanuts, (C) now, Quinoa. I’m sure there are others.

    Because poskim are trying to define kitniyos and then applying that definition. Would you rather it remain vague and undefined? I’m not sure what you mean about Quinoa being kitniyos. I’ve eaten it on Pesach. Or maybe you mean the rabbis who take out advertisements in the newspaper to tell people what to do on Pesach (I remember one year my mother-in-law frantically called my wife before Pesach telling her she saw an ad that we can’t use paper towels on Pesach; I said to ignore anything you see in the newspaper). Normal rabbis don’t do that and normal people don’t follow it.

  27. gil:

    “And much of what motivates the MO right wing is “what will the chareidim say?”

    In my experience, that is very very rarely the case.”

    first of all there definately cases and people who are looking over their right shoulders. it happens in silly cases (e.g. when a shul changes it’s name because the old name doesn’t sound frum enough to put on school applications) as well as in more serious cases.

    and even if most of the time looking over the right shoulder at what the charedim will say isn’t conscious or a product of no self-confidence, it is there and for many non-haredim, for various reason, what the RW says/do sets the standard.

    “Frankel’s views are virtually indistinguishable from what the mainstream orthodox academic believes.

    And therefore…?

    He was remarkably traditional…

    He was among the founders of the Reform movement but walked out when they became too radical.”

    right. he walked out because he was remarkably traditional.

  28. GIL:

    “when people refuse to donate organs… because of notions surrounding shleimat haguf

    I agree. There are good reasons not to donate organs but this isn’t one of them.”

    on a popular level i think shelemut haguf is the first thing tat comes up when discussing organ donations.

  29. Hirhurim says:

    Abba: “Klal Yisrael can sanctify practices.”
    1) sounds like fraenkel
    2) can they desanctify them?

    1) Even a broken clock is right twice a day, kal va-chomer a brilliant scholar.
    2) Presumably they can but not consciously

    the problem is that today, for various reasons, many people think that anyone who does not practice a particular minhag, no matter how localized, baseless or even wrong, is not frum.

    On the rare occasion I encounter such people, I tell such people that “it’s not my minhag” and then list universally acknowledged gedolim who did not do it. That shuts them up quickly. And sometimes I ask whether it’s really their family minhag and if not why do they think they can change their minhag.

    tangentially, i don’t understand why zeicher/zecher which you responded to is so simply mutar?

    But this one is mentioned in the Gemara as being a mistake that one of David’s generals (Avner? I forget) made, with disastrous results.

  30. Rafael Araujo says:

    “And much of what motivates the MO right wing is “what will the chareidim say?”

    And much of what LWMO preaches is “what will Gloria Steinem say?”

  31. J. says:

    “No, he does not consciously promote an agenda. He follows the methodology and worldview he was taught by his various teachers, including but not limited to Rav Soloveitchik.”

    Hmm. Would he like to see the rest of Orthodoxy adopting the RCA prenup? Does he think it would be a good idea for all Orthodox youths to have a high-school equivalent secular education? Does he ever criticize groups to the right of him based on his outlook? I think Rav Soloveitchik did that, albeit I can’t remember any specific examples.

    I once remember listening to a shiur in which Rav Schachter poked fun at certain chassidish rabanim who encourage people to have children even when they can’t cope, and also criticized those who have far more children than they can afford, and thus leave the financial burden of their school fees on others. Is this a view that he regards as universally valid or is he merely giving advice to his talmidim?

  32. Noam stadlan says:

    ‘everyone says it has to
    be irreverible’. As long as CPR and artificial hearts exist, the loss of circulation isn’t irreversible until the arteries decompose(it takes days to weeks). Please think about this. If someone had snuck into the morgue and attached a pumping machine to this man, and he was found looking like a corpse( no neeurological function, cold etc) except that there was blood circulating in his arteries because the mechanical pump was moving the blood through the blood vessels, would you call him alive? Even if he actually had mo pulse for 20 hours, and it was only in the last hour that the pump was turned on? I think we would call that nivul hamet. Perhaps the real reason we think this man is alive has nothing to do with his circulation status and everything to do with his neurological status.

    Regarding rav Schachter, it would be helpful to buttress your claim of his progressiveness with specific examples.

    I can see a case that zeicher/ zecher is a hefsek(especially if the Baal Koreh had the Aliya) it is Baal tosif, and also needless repetition( another chumrah that has blossomed beyond it’s original boundaries).

  33. GIL:

    ” I tell such people that “it’s not my minhag” and then list universally acknowledged gedolim who did not do it.”

    not everyone can rattle off those names the way you can. a lot of people will just assume that indeed the minhag is universal.

    how do you explain something like the near universal minhag today of upsherin?

    “But this one is mentioned in the Gemara as being a mistake that one of David’s generals (Avner? I forget) made, with disastrous results.”

    1) the gemara doesn’t talk specifically about zeicher vs. zecher and it is ambigious what the mistake was. (and iirc it is difficult grammatically to assume the mistake was zecher unless one assumes an unattested form on the mishkal of eshen)
    2) even if we assume (and we shouldn’t?) that gemara is talking about zeicher vs. zecher, what in the world does this have to with reading it the “wrong way that produced disasturous results” during leining*?
    3) (btw it was yoav)

    ________
    *another thing i don’t understand besides repeating it in general and besides repeating the entire pasuk in specific, is why we lein the correct way first and then the incorrect way. if i can anticipate your response that the double reading serves a didactic purpose by recalling yoav’s error, i think it does a bad job because i think a lot of people assume that the first we read the wrong way and then the right way.)

  34. GIL:

    “even if we assume (and we shouldn’t?) that gemara is talking about zeicher vs. zecher, what in the world does this have to with reading it the “wrong way that produced disasturous results” during leining*?”

    i mean is there another example where the gemara indicates there is an incorrect way to read a pasuk and yet we davka read it that way to cover all the bases?

  35. RAFAEL:

    “And much of what LWMO preaches is “what will Gloria Steinem say?””

    of course it is fair to say that LWMO is influenced by gloria steinem (if only indirectly). but i don’t think that for most (at least in my experience) it is an attitude of “what will she say”

  36. S. says:

    > If it were up to me and I had the power, I would abolish the custom to refrain from eating kitniyos on Pesach. But we don’t have that power and I cannot bear the thought of discarding centuries of Ashkenazic practice.

    תרתי דסתרי, is it not? If it were up to you you would abolish it. But you cannot bear the thought of discarding centuries of practice.

  37. HAGTBG says:

    Because poskim are trying to define kitniyos and then applying that definition. Would you rather it remain vague and undefined?

    If we are going to continue a tradition simply for tradition’s sake (which is basically all you posit) I presume it should be as narrowly drawn as possible. And while we could debate what that would be, it would certainly approach something like, (i) foods traditionally considered to be kitniyot, or (ii) foods that meet the traditional definition of kitniyot, i.e. legumes. Corn is neither. Quinoa is neither. Peanuts might be the later.

    High fructose corn syrup should not be kitniyot by any classical definition, whatever its other faults.

    I’m not sure what you mean about Quinoa being kitniyos. I’ve eaten it on Pesach.

    I mean that over the last two years there has been a movement against quinoa particularly for the right. You know that full well. I mean your former employers last year not being able to say straight out that quinoa is not kintniyot (much like they unoffically abandoned peanuts in the 1990s).

    Normal rabbis don’t do that and normal people don’t follow it.

    As you note when one rabbi changes his local synagogue practice, these things take on a life of their own. In the 1950′s did most charedi seriously think one day tzanua women would not be considered appropriate to be shown in photographs publicly.

  38. Excellent post! It should be read by anyone who cares about the issues facing modern Orthodoxy today. It describes an important primary difference between the RWMO and LWMO mode of thinking.

    My only criticsm is the title. I think it is misleading and may actually discourage some people from reading it – thinking it is an essay on the Halachic parameters of death as seen by MO rabbis – a subject of limited interest to most people.

    I realize that is the starting point from which you draw your conclusions, but a better title might have been something along the lines of: Differences between the Left and Right in MO as reflected by R’ Emden and Moses Medleshon. Just my 2 cents.

  39. joel rich says:

    If we are going to continue a tradition simply for tradition’s sake (which is basically all you posit) I presume it should be as narrowly drawn as possible
    ————————-
    Or as the poskim who allowed potatos(potatoes) on pesach said – we don’t have the right to make new takkanot (so I really don’t get the quinona thing)
    KT

  40. S. says:

    Gil, various:

    >Frankel rejected halakhah le-Moshe mi-Sinai so I don’t know why he’s in the discussion.

    That’s not true. He cited the Rosh for his definition (great antiquity). Even if it can be argued that the Rosh only meant it in this one case, there is nothing which gave the Rosh a heter to espouse a heretical position in one case. The fact that R. Hirsch found it unacceptable and that R. Frankel refused to jump when R. Hirsch demanded it does not mean that he’s “out of the discussion.” You know as well as I that there are different views of him within Orthodoxy, and you have no right to impose your view as the authoritative one. The converse is true as well, but that just means that it is debatable if he belongs in the discussion.

    >He was among the founders of the Reform movement but walked out when they became too radical.

    He was 10 years old when the Hamburg Temple began, so he was not a founder. Walking out of the conference – under normal circumstances that would be considered an act of heroism. You know who never held it against him that he was there in the first place? R. Hirsch.

    Re zecher/ zeicher

    >You don’t have to do them but why oppose something harmless like that?

    In my opinion it’s not harmless. It makes a mockery of actual knowledge, substituting specious reasoning and inventing doubts where none exist. Furthermore it marginalizes the experience and knowledge of people who are real tamidei chachomim in this particular Torah area, substituting the opinions of amei haaretz in this Torah area. And as Abba said there is a sociological reason why this is bad – people or congregations who want to follow the tradition, which happens to be based on the textual facts, are seen as less frum in this case. To me these are a conglomeration of good reasons to oppose it.

    As an aside I have already seen this expand to the point where I’ve seen ba’al korehs read it twice during the normal shabbos when it’s read. Still unopposed?

    >I believe that all qualifies as “your opinion” or “R. Breuer’s opinion”. Meaning — R. Breuer thinks it is wrong and therefore anyone who does it is ignorant. I don’t know that he has become the final word on the subject.

    Can you make a good case for it? Have you ever seen anyone make a good case?

    >But this one is mentioned in the Gemara as being a mistake that one of David’s generals (Avner? I forget) made, with disastrous results.

    It’s a chiddush that he read “zecher” (seghol); this was R. Meshulam Roth’s explanation. The traditional understanding is that he read “zechar amalek” (sheva). Even see Artscroll ad loc who points it this way. In any case that’s all the more powerful a reason to read “zeicher,” which is the primary reading. “Zecher” is the doubtful one which led to disastrous results, according to R. Roth. Furthermore, first we read “zeicher.” What justifies reading the primary, correct version first only to “correct” it? At the very least it ought to be publicized that “zeicher” is primary.

    I can see the case that it’s not a big deal, but I think that if this would be your opinion you’d at least have to explain why all the points raised against it don’t matter in the face of “well, it’s not a big deal.”

    By the way, readers might be interested on my take of whom Mendelssohn speaks for today

    http://onthemainline.blogspot.com/2010/12/for-whom-does-moses-mendelssoh-speak-on.html

  41. Hirhurim says:

    J: Would he like to see the rest of Orthodoxy adopting the RCA prenup? Does he think it would be a good idea for all Orthodox youths to have a high-school equivalent secular education?

    I thought you were asking about a wide-reaching agenda, not specific issues. Yes, there are specific issues in which he believes. In the next issue of Jewish Action, I interview him about his strong views on giving tzedakah locally.

    Dr. Stadlan: I don’t have the texts or the time right now to demonstrate your misrepresentation of R. Schachter’s views on brain death. I don’t think making others look foolish by misrepresenting them is a positive contribution to the brain death discussion.

    There is no concern of hefsek in Torah reading by repeating a word or sentence.

    Abba: not everyone can rattle off those names the way you can. a lot of people will just assume that indeed the minhag is universal.

    But everyone can say, with a confident tone, that it’s not their minhag.

    Now you are arguing about how to interpret the Gemara re zeikher/zekher (see the Rashba) rather than acknowledging that there is a reason people single out this place.

    S: No, it’s not a tartei de-sasrei. The reason we cannot abolish kitniyos is that is a long-established and legitimate minhag.

    HAGTBG: If we are going to continue a tradition simply for tradition’s sake (which is basically all you posit) I presume it should be as narrowly drawn as possible.

    I’m not sure everyone would agree with it. Some would embrace the custom and try to fulfill it as fully as possible.

    The reason the OU does not give a straight answer on Quinoa is that Rav Belsky forbids it and Rav Schachter permits it. The reason Rav Belsky forbids it is that it falls under some definition of kitniyos he based on an early Acharon (maybe the Taz, I’m not sure). You may disagree with his approach — Rav Schachter does — but I don’t think you have the right to declare it beyond the pale. I know a Lakewood musmakh who permits peanut butter and he’s also OK in my book.

    You are writing about omitting pictures of women and movements to the right but does that mean that people can’t operate outside of that? Meaning, neither as part of that movement nor as a reaction to it. I personally see no need to react to extreme stringencies by denouncing them or being extremely lenient. I just go on my way being as “normal” as I can, occasionally making fun of the extremes so people know where I stand.

  42. Hirhurim says:

    S: I’m no Frankel scholar so I defer to you on this sidepoint. However, I will point out that just about every deviant scholar quotes a source that he claims supports his deviation. He could be just as much a heretic as Louis Jacobs, who had plenty of sources.

    The Hamburg Temple was a local phenomenon. Frankel was at the conference where they organized a movement, although he did walk out. But the radicalism was *very* radical. I hardly call his action heroic.

    Re zeikher/zekher: In my opinion your objections are overly pedantic. I believe many of the old communities read zekher and then added zeikher “just in case”.

  43. S. says:

    >S: No, it’s not a tartei de-sasrei. The reason we cannot abolish kitniyos is that is a long-established and legitimate minhag.

    What I meant is that you expressed a desire to abolish it if you could but at the same time you say that you could not bear the thought of discarding it. I don’t see why you would want to abolish something given the power which you could not bear the thought of abolishing.

  44. S. says:

    >S: I’m no Frankel scholar so I defer to you on this sidepoint. However, I will point out that just about every deviant scholar quotes a source that he claims supports his deviation. He could be just as much a heretic as Louis Jacobs, who had plenty of sources.

    Louis Jacobs openly denied that he was traditional and Orthodox and in fact eventually took pains to show that he is not bound by sources.

    >The Hamburg Temple was a local phenomenon. Frankel was at the conference where they organized a movement, although he did walk out. But the radicalism was *very* radical. I hardly call his action heroic.

    The Hamburg Temple was not a local phenomenon. It became symbolic, true, but the whole of the 1820s and 1830s was about the spread of such Temples and reforms. The point is that Frankel could not have been a founder of Reform. However, I’ll defer the point since I guess that most people would say that Geiger was a founder, although he was born in 1810. I think it’s technically untrue that this generation founded Reform, but I’ll defer on it.

    In any case, how can you not call his action heroic? To publicly repudiate something that is in fashion? He knew that he wasn’t going to get brownie points from the “Chareidim” (to be anachronistic). He was being true – Torah-true.

    Anyway, he was no more a Reformer than Hirsch. And as I said, Hirsch’s beef with him was over doctrine and scholarship. He certainly did not consider him a Reform rabbi. No one in that generation did.

    > Re zeikher/zekher: In my opinion your objections are overly pedantic.

    Even the point about specifically eschewing actual knowledge and expertise? In my view it speaks very poorly of Torah scholarship in our communities that even the rabbonim hardly know that an entire area of Torah exists. I know rabbis who couldn’t tell you what a Masoretic “lamed” means, who in fact never noticed them their entire life. Isn’t this unfortunate?

    >I believe many of the old communities read zekher and then added zeikher “just in case”.

    It’s only attested in the Mishna Berurah and its basis is, evidently, the controversy in Maaseh Rav, which in turn is presumably based on the Radak about “zecher” in Tehillim. Not exactly the makings of an actual doubt – certainly not one which should have swept all of Orthodoxy.

    In any case, there is no question whatsoever that “zeicher” (tzeirei) is the primary reading, not “zecher.”

  45. joel rich says:

    But everyone can say, with a confident tone, that it’s not their minhag.
    ======================================
    They can, as in it is physically possible, but there is a tremendous sociological force towards conformity , so most people imho will not say it at all unless they are 100% confident, and have the self esteem to go aginst the flow (few and far in between imho)
    KT

  46. Noam stadlan says:

    As far as I know I have not misrepresented anything. I have merely pointed out the logical consequences of his position. I look forward to seeing your defense, rather than just the accusations of misrepresentation for which you have not brought any proof. In fact my articles have been out for almost a year and as far as i know there has yet to be a published response. Perhaps the faults in the articles are so glaring that no response is needed. I don’t know. The fact that he looks foolish is the fault of the positions he takes, not mine for pointing them out. I do not want to hijack the conversation so I will not pursue the matter. But I would very much appreciate that accusations of misrepresentation be backed up by facts. You may want to read my article on the RCA blog discussing how to halachically define circulation, and you will see that the problem with rabbi schachter’s position is shared by many in both the religious and secular world.

  47. chardal says:

    >But this one is mentioned in the Gemara as being a mistake that one of David’s generals (Avner? I forget) made, with disastrous results.

    That has nothing to do with the contemporary minhag which was introduced by the Mishna Berurah. And the gemara is about zeicher zachar. zeicher and zecher and exactly the same meaning.

  48. chardal says:

    >I believe many of the old communities read zekher and then added zeikher “just in case”.

    Don’t make stuff up. You have zero evidence of this. There is ZERO massoretic support for zecher.

  49. lawrence.kaplan says:

    Gil: As you yourself pointed out, for R. Jacob Emden (RJE) kiniyyot is NOT a longstanding and legitimate nminhag. In principle RJE believes that “We,” that is the consensus of rabbinic authorities, can and should abolish kitniyot. He did not have the power to do so in his view because he received no support from other rabbinic authorities. Your view is that even a consensus of rabbinc authorities would have no power to abolish this minhag. This is, as you have pointed out elsewhere, the view of the Mahartaz Hayyot, but it is not RJE’s own view. (The Mahratz Hayyot, by the way, advocated allowing certain minhagim,like the recitation of piyyutim, to die a quiet death.)

  50. HAGTBG says:

    The reason Rav Belsky forbids it is that it falls under some definition of kitniyos he based on an early Acharon (maybe the Taz, I’m not sure).

    How do I know how Rav Belsky views the kitniyot issue overall? Maybe he assigns a more affirmative value to the tradition then you claimed to for yourself so he doesn’t mind a more robust definition. Maybe he enjoys being without kitniyot or maybe his family’s diet is such that it doesn’t really affect him. The point is that the “tradition” is affirmatively expanding and that expansion has consequences. Two years ago the news articles stated quinoa was served in all the hotels for Pesach, now its back to matzah barley.

    You cite to rabbis in Lakewood allowing peanut butter as if they are some fringe (“he’s also OK in my book”). But would they be a fringe had the OU kept certifying peanut oil?

    I personally see no need to react to extreme stringencies by denouncing them or being extremely lenient. I just go on my way being as “normal” as I can, occasionally making fun of the extremes so people know where I stand.

    Change is the only guarantee. Once photographs of modest woman was not problematic to the haredi. Once the OU has OU DE. Once matzah was soft. Once meat was not glatt. Once kiddush was said after washing. Once the slaughter knife did not have to be razor sharp. Once the Shabbat candle was only to provide light. And once our forebears did not have a kitniyot prohibition.

    The narishkeit and the “good” changes go hand in hand. The bad things needed to be weeded out to avoid being the new normal.

    Go into a restaurant certified by the VHQ today and order asparagus. You will get it without the tips – the main part of the asparagus. That first arose as an issue anywhere in the late 90′s. I haven’t seen artichokes sold in a restaurant for quite some time. A small thing? To some. Its not a life. There is no risk of death. But is it good?

    The way our community operates stringencies can easily become the new normal if one or two rabbis on a Vaad’s kashrut committee can see some value in it.

    Some of today’s normal will be tomorrow’s fringe; today’s fringe tomorrow’s normal. If there is a negative development in our changing traditions it needs to be called as such lest it be tomorrow’s normal just as the positive changes should be promoted. You have no fear of calling out change when it comes to a woman rabbi. Yet expanding chumrot, that you only mock to the guy sitting next to you (or when some guy pushes you on the point on your blog).

  51. chardal says:

    >Frankel’s views are virtually indistinguishable from what the mainstream orthodox academic believes.

    >And therefore…?

    And therefore he was not as radical as you make out…

  52. lawrence.kaplan says:

    I am surprised that no one has referred here to Dr. Jordan Penkower’s definitive article on Zeiker /Zekher. It totally demolishes any ground for the recitation of zekher.

  53. Shlomo says:

    it is Baal tosif

    Does it make me a Bal Gaiva to point out that it’s בל תוסיף not בעל תוסיף? :)

  54. Hirhurim says:

    Chardal: Don’t make stuff up. You have zero evidence of this. There is ZERO massoretic support for zecher.

    Your assumption that this requires massoretic support (i.e. textual) is itself a chiddush.

    HAGTBG: How do I know how Rav Belsky views the kitniyot issue overall?

    I don’t know but I seem to recall that he wrote a teshuvah about kitniyos in which he used the Taz’s(?) definition.

    The point is that the “tradition” is affirmatively expanding and that expansion has consequences. Two years ago the news articles stated quinoa was served in all the hotels for Pesach, now its back to matzah barley.

    It is expanding in CERTAIN CIRCLES. I guarantee you that if there is a demand, the hotels will serve quinoa. Personally I think it tasted horrible. But the real tradition is not transmitted centrally but through local rabbis and, in my limited experience, plenty do not put up with these expansions. If yours does, well maybe it’s time to get a new one.

  55. Hirhurim says:

    Chardal: And therefore he was not as radical as you make out…

    Or therefore many mainstream academics are not all that frum.

    Dr. Kaplan: I am surprised that no one has referred here to Dr. Jordan Penkower’s definitive article on Zeiker /Zekher. It totally demolishes any ground for the recitation of zekher.

    If you accept his methodology. I suspect that many rabbis do not, albeit not necessarily for good reasons.

  56. S. says:

    >It is expanding in CERTAIN CIRCLES. I guarantee you that if there is a demand, the hotels will serve quinoa.

    The hamon am doesn’t know enough to reject things like this. They don’t know they can demand quinoa. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not important, unless we’re going to say that the group instincts of the masses is always correct. If that’s so then shouldn’t we always approve of them, sexy sheitels, etc? If we are not prophets, etc.

    Sometimes the instinct of the masses, in this case to follow stringent rabbis with a meshugas, should be repudiated.

    In addition, it’s not enough to say that it’s still a valid position to allow peanut butter when in practice you will never find it with a kasher le-pesach hashgacha, or even in the stores altogether. These things are not a case of let the machmirim be machmir, it only affects them. It becomes the new norm and affects everyone.

  57. Rafael Araujo says:

    “I am surprised that no one has referred here to Dr. Jordan Penkower’s definitive article on Zeiker /Zekher. It totally demolishes any ground for the recitation of zekher.”

    No thanks, I think I will stick with the CC on this one.

  58. Jerry says:

    Hirhurim: “I suspect that many rabbis do not, albeit not necessarily for good reasons.”

    Then they’re wrong. And this pretty neatly demonstrates the harm inherent in reading zeicher/zecher.

    By the way, the reference is:מנהג ומסורה: “זכר עמלק” בחמש או בשש נקודות (עם נספחים על קריאת השם ’יששכר’ בתורה, ועל קריאת מגילת אסתר: ’ולהרג’ [ח 11]; ’לפניהם’ [ט 2]), עיוני מקרא ופרשנות ד (תשנז) 71-128

  59. S. says:

    >If you accept his methodology. I suspect that many rabbis do not, albeit not necessarily for good reasons.

    I think you probably realize that the methodology to which you refer has more to do with what Rafael said, “No thanks, I think I will stick with the CC on this one,” than with “many rabbis do not agree with his methodology.” Perhaps this is what you meant by “not necessarily for good reasons?”

    In any case, this example really does illustrate one of the problems in Orthodoxy. Truth be damned. It’s not even about sticking with the tradition, it’s about inventing traditions, and truth be damned too. Tsk.

  60. Hirhurim says:

    Noam Stadlan: As far as I know I have not misrepresented anything. I have merely pointed out the logical consequences of his position.

    R. Schachter’s chapter on this in Be-Ikvei Ha-Tzon makes it perfectly clear that even if blood is circulating in a body, if the heart, brain and liver stop functioning then the person is definitely dead. If only one of the three stops functioning then the person is questionably dead. And he defines stops functioning as the lack of circulation to the organ in a way that it can never return to functioning (p. 244). I can’t see how a corpse with blood artificially circulated in it can possibly be described as alive according to him.

  61. S. says:

    I don’t understand how anyone can say its [only] for such as the the Chafetz Chaim to be machria. See the second teshuva in Noda Beyehuda, which R. Josh Waxman blogged about here. We can see that expressed astonishment that a grammatical query was sent to him, whereas he suggests that it be sent to experts on the text of the Bible. As Josh translates, “And behold, I am astonished that he chose to send these halachic queries to Chachamim and Rabbanim! Go and read his query to experts on Scriptures {baalei mikra}.”

    Interestingly, the person who had sent him the question was a rabbinic figure in the Hamburg Sefardic community, and he wrote a book which, in part, attacks the addition of songs at the end of the seder. He specifically mentions the German song “Nun bau dein tempel schiere,” which is found in siddur ha-shelah and is also sung to this day by some. His attack, from 1770, had absolutely nothing to do with reform. It was simply one of these “what people are doing is wrong” things. Indeed, the NBY responded to the grammatical question by opining that it’s not so important. One could say the same thing about the zeicher/ zecher issue, but the issue itself is about being pedantic, so it’s hard to argue that the opponents shouldn’t be pedantic but the proponents can be.

    The issue of seder songs is something for poskim to decide, not a grammatical or textual question, unless of course they have the advantage of also being up to par on textual issues. But people like R. Mordechai Breuer are precisely the ones who should be consulted on a textual issue – at least according to the Noda Beyehuda. FWIW the Chafetz Chaim hardly endorses it strenuously.

  62. Hirhurim says:

    S: The hamon am doesn’t know enough to reject things like this. They don’t know they can demand quinoa.

    They don’t know enough to ask and follow their LOR?!?

    In addition, it’s not enough to say that it’s still a valid position to allow peanut butter when in practice you will never find it with a kasher le-pesach hashgacha, or even in the stores altogether.

    You are correct that stores, at least in Brooklyn, are crazy. They don’t even use conveyor belts that have had chametz items on them. There are plenty of items without Pesach hashgachah. I know the OU gets lots of questions about things that are not labeled for Pesach — and answers them. I was in the room when rabbis in charge of rice asked R. Hershel Schachter about OU-certified enriched rice for Sefardim or sick Ashkenazim (there’s some possibility of chametz in the enrichment but he was lenient for complex reasons). Just call and ask about OU-certified peanut butter.

    Jerry: Then they’re wrong.

    Well, that settles it.

    S: I think you probably realize that the methodology to which you refer has more to do with what Rafael said, “No thanks, I think I will stick with the CC on this one,” than with “many rabbis do not agree with his methodology.” Perhaps this is what you meant by “not necessarily for good reasons?”

    Agreed. They believe that halakhic determinations need to be made within the system and just because an academic reaches a conclusion doesn’t mean halakhah will change. I don’t think it is about “truth be damned”.

  63. S. says:

    >They don’t know enough to ask and follow their LOR?!?

    How does this apply to hotels? Many people eat gebrokts, but many hotels won’t serve it since they know some people don’t and they want their business too.

    >Agreed. They believe that halakhic determinations need to be made within the system and just because an academic reaches a conclusion doesn’t mean halakhah will change. I don’t think it is about “truth be damned”.

    So basically we’re waiting for a big posek to plagiarize R. Breuer and Prof. Penkower. Got it.

    Re Pesach, my opinion is that you don’t so much disagree with me as have made a cost/ benefit analysis and concluded that crazy Orthodoxy is still better than lenient Orthodoxy, so it’s better not to oppose chumra-creep. Can you confirm or disagree with my assessment?

  64. aiwac says:

    “Agreed. They believe that halakhic determinations need to be made within the system and just because an academic reaches a conclusion doesn’t mean halakhah will change. I don’t think it is about “truth be damned”.”

    Which will never happen because the “system” is hard-wired to accept or tolerate all chumrot and scream down all kulot. The system is impotent.

  65. chardal says:

    >Your assumption that this requires massoretic support (i.e. textual) is itself a chiddush.

    It is a chidush that how we read the Torah should be based on the Massorah is a chiddush?? It is what every sofer and rabbi who was knowlegable on this topic has done since … well, the baalei haMessorah. What is the alternative? To read every variant? Do you have any idea how many pesukim you will have to repeat?

    The chidush was the CC’s baseless innovation to read the text twice and, frankly, it makes us look like ignorant amei aretz to anyone even remotely educated in massoretic studies. R’ Breuer was a recognized expert on these topics and his arguments are strong and pretty much irrefutable. It is an innovation born in ignorance and which is harmful to the extent that spreading ignorance is harmful.

  66. HAGTBG says:

    You know I kind of feel that the possibility people are buried alive is being discounted and I am not quite sure why. I recognize general society does things that make sure a dead person is buried (most especially embalming, which would kill anyone still alive, and extended periods before burial) but I am not so sure why we are positive that Orthodox funerals have not unintentionally buried people who still were alive, if barely.

    But back to the importance of quinoa … if the kosher certifications don’t certify something its not kosher. If R’ Belsky’s position means the OU won’t certify quinoa for Pesach that helps establish a sociological truth that if it is not opposed, will lead to quinoa joining peanut butter and high fructose corn syrup in the really-not-kitniyot-but-we-bar-it-for-five-people’s-formerly-fringe-view category. The OU will not certify it so the hotel’s will not certify it so people will think they should not eat it. Maybe not now but in ten years from now.

    That’s why this fish issue needs to be combated as well. In 10 years I would not be surprised if this “fringe” view will be the norm in Lakewood, Monsey and NYC restaurants. Frankly, it seems to me the only person standing between the OU adopting this position now is R’ Belsky.

  67. Hirhurim says:

    S: How does this apply to hotels?

    I don’t care about hotels. They do not determine what is normative and merely cater to their customers by pretending to be machmir but really relying on every possible kula.

    So basically we’re waiting for a big posek to plagiarize R. Breuer and Prof. Penkower.

    Not plagiarize. Just say “I checked with manuscript experts…”

    Re Pesach, my opinion is that you don’t so much disagree with me as have made a cost/ benefit analysis and concluded that crazy Orthodoxy is still better than lenient Orthodoxy, so it’s better not to oppose chumra-creep.

    I just don’t experience chumra-creep so it doesn’t seem like a big deal to me. It is at most entertainment for me when I come across it.

    aiwac: Which will never happen because the “system” is hard-wired to accept or tolerate all chumrot and scream down all kulot.

    Not in the teshuvah sefarim that I look at.

  68. chardal says:

    >Agreed. They believe that halakhic determinations need to be made within the system and just because an academic reaches a conclusion doesn’t mean halakhah will change

    As far as I know, R’ Breuer had smicha and was an expert on just these topics… probably more so than any rabbi from the past 50 years or so. What are you waiting for, for a Rabbi who is ignorant of massoretic studies and the halachas that flow from them to write a psak halacha on the topic? How does that make more sense than following the stated position of the greatest rabbinic authority on this subject?

  69. Jesse A. says:

    “Agreed. They believe that halakhic determinations need to be made within the system and just because an academic reaches a conclusion doesn’t mean halakhah will change. I don’t think it is about “truth be damned”.”

    But the system requires outside inputs, whether it be scientific, grammatical or otherwise. In general, when dealing with longstanding practice, it may be prudent to ignore new information from outside the system, but it is still, in effect saying “Truth be damned, we’ve been doing this a long time” But when dealing with a relatively new custom, shouldn’t we want to promote a respect for the truth?

  70. Hirhurim says:

    Chardal: I see. Use a strong and confident tone and insult people. Then you’ll definitely be right.

  71. chardal says:

    >Not plagiarize. Just say “I checked with manuscript experts…”

    You do realize that this will be a cold day in …

    Why do people ignorant of the topic have the authority to decide praxis in an area in which they are totally ignorant?

  72. aiwac says:

    chardal,

    That’s the “system”.

  73. Jerry says:

    Hirhurim: “Well, that settles it.”

    The saddest part of this sentence is that you don’t realize that yes, that does, in fact, settle it.

    Hirhurim: “They believe that halakhic determinations need to be made within the system”

    Right. The problem is that this system becomes whatever you want it to be (and no one gets to participate without Gil Student’s say-so) so practically speaking it’s useless.

  74. S. says:

    >I just don’t experience chumra-creep so it doesn’t seem like a big deal to me. It is at most entertainment for me when I come across it.

    It’s a big deal to those who exerience it unwillingly. Is it entertaining to you when girls in certain communities are subject to roving bands of Tznius Police?

  75. chardal says:

    >Chardal: I see. Use a strong and confident tone and insult people. Then you’ll definitely be right.

    Who did I insult? And praytell, where was I wrong? How does one unsupported assertion in the mishna brura trump the well thought out arguments and expertese of people who pretty much dedicated their life to the study of these issues? If you don’t see why this would be slightly maddening to educated people, then you don’t really understand the problem. People want to feel like their halachic authorities are educated people who make informed decisions. Things like zecher/zeicher constantly blow up in our faces and show us how halachic authorities allow themselves to make decisions in a completely uninformed manner – and if they do so in issues such as this, who is to say they do not do the same in more serious issues?

    If the rabbinate wants to gain the respect of educated laypeople, then it must show that its decisions are based on a real understanding of the underlying disciplines and issues, not based on very questionable scholastic sophistry!

  76. Jerry says:

    Hirhurim: “Not plagiarize. Just say “I checked with manuscript experts…””

    But you explicitly don’t care about what the manuscript/masoretic/krias HaTorah experts have to say, since they’ve already said it, and you’ve dismissed it. So even if a big posek came along and said “I think we should just stick with ‘zeicher’ (or ‘zecher’!)” without checking with the “experts” (your term), that shouldn’t make a difference to you. This is a position with some very strange consequences, to say the least.

    You might say, “this psak doesn’t count because he didn’t check with experts.” But you’re just Gil Student and you don’t have the authority to argue with Big Poskim, as you’ve stressed to the rest of us in so many other contexts.

    You might say, “no big posek would issue a ruling like this without checking with the appropriate experts.” We all know that, unfortunately, this often is not the case.

  77. chardal says:

    >I just don’t experience chumra-creep so it doesn’t seem like a big deal to me.

    Yes, seeing women publicly berated and embaraced on “mehadrin” busses is not a big deal.

    The burka lady I saw this week is not a big deal.

    The 28 shekel/kilo “mehadrin” chicken (regular kosher chicken in Israel is about 15/kilo) which preys on the people least able to afford it and makes them think that one actually has to check chicken lungs is not a big deal.

    The total absence of any pictures of women from even “moderate” frum magazines is not a big deal.

    And the list goes on and on. Every chumra in these matters almost ALWAYS comes at the cost of a kula somewhere else. For example, I am learning safrut now – as a hobby, not a career. The reality of the safrut market is that no one buys anything that is even slightly “bediavad” by which I mean things there were wholy acceptable 150 years ago simply can not be sold in todays frum market. Of course, this means that if a sofer makes a mistake on the mezuzah that is correctable but will render the mezuzah non-mehadrin, then he will most likely stop writing and send it to geniza – which in most cases will mean that he is causing shem Hashem to become nignaz for no real halachic reason except for the unwillingness of the tzibbur to be non-mehadrin.

  78. S. says:

    aiwac
    >That’s the “system”.

    Not necessarily. See the Noda Beyehuda I mentioned. Second teshuva.

    re chumra-creep, I would also continue to say to Gil that who says it won’t affect you? Maybe it hasn’t affected you yet, but it’s probably affected some of your friend and neighbors, and may will affect you yet.

    To give one example, from my own extended family, a bochur who will only use a beard trimmer to shave because he accepted the Bnei Brak chumradike position on shaving. It may not seem like the end of the world to you or me that this young man has a five o’clock shadow the second he’s done shaving, but it’s driving his poor mother crazy. It seems like honoring her might be as important as the Chazon Ish’s position on electric shavers.

    So, you’ll say, there are other ways in which young people rebel. True. But you can’t say that she is unaffected by chumra-creep, by the acceptance of something lo haya ve-lo nivra in New York since the days of the Malachim (who were kicked out of Torah V’Daas). Or take the example of someone who had to deal with his newly minted bar mitzvah boy refuse to put away the tefilla shel rosh davka on the right side of the bag, as his father taught him and as his grandfather did before him, because his 7th grade rebbe claims that this isn’t proper. The father isn’t dealing with chumra-creep? Why aren’t these – and of course more major examples – not a big deal? It seems to me that leniency-creep was seen as a big deal. Many people feel estranged from Orthodoxy as it is becoming and also realize that the things are very stringent as it is, so what will it look like when two or three more layers of stringencies are added as the generations continue?

    Even if chumra-creep were really the preferable approach, shouldn’t the calculus also include its effects on those who can’t dig it? It seems to me that the only reason why R. Shlomo Miller lashed out at R. Michael Broyde is because he realized that a paper written for and directed at the religious needs of Modern Orthodox people could also affect his community. Maybe he was right, and maybe we should consider our own needs too.

  79. aiwac says:

    S.,

    That’s the “system” now.

  80. Noam stadlan says:

    The function of the heart is to circulate blood. A body with circulation is the beneficiary of either heart function or a pump. Your interpretation of rav schachter only works if he feels that the function of the heart cannot be replaced by an artificial heart(or possibly a transplant) Otherwise, under his opinion it is the circulation that matters, not what supplies it. His initial premise is that blood is life, and only then does he bring up the issue of three organs. Therefore, The fact of blood circulation is No different from heart function, and the body in question would be considered alive by rav schachter’ s approach albeit a gosses.

  81. Shalom Spira says:

    The important discussion between R. Student and Dr. Stadlan accurately reflects dichotomous messages RJDB has been disseminating on this subject. Sometimes RJDB refers to spontaneous heartbeat as a sign of life (implying R. Student’s position), yet other times RJDB refers even to circulation precipitated by an artifical heart as a sign of life (implying the position Dr. Stadlan attributes to RJDB/RHS). The question becomes particularly cogent in light of Dr. Robert Truog’s statement on the HODS website “you basically cannot die in an intensive care unit if the clinicians are willing to use ECMO, because with ECMO we can keep anybody alive”. Logically speaking, an ECMO machine should be no less halakhically significant than an artificial heart.

    RSZA avoided this problem because he subscribed to the thesis that any artificial machine is external to the patient and not part of the patient. RSZA saw machines like the proverbial woodchopper of the Rema in YD 339:1. Accordingly, he permitted deactivating the ventilator of a gossess (Shulchan Shelomoh, Erkei Refu’ah II, p. 28). Likewise, he held that if a patient was placed on a heart-lung bypass during cardiac surgery, and by the end of the surgery the patient could not regain independent heartbeat, it is permitted to deactivate the heart-lung machine, since the patient [being incapable of spontaneously circulating] was already dead. (Shulchan Shelomoh, Erkei Refu’ah II, p. 33). For RSZA, it is obvious that a patient cannot be considered alive just because he is on an ECMO machine (or could theoretically be placed on an ECMO machine). However, other poskim disagree with RSZA and hold that a machine *does* become part of the patient (as RJDB writes in Contemporary Halakhic Problems IV, p. 348), thus raising the question that Dr. Stadlan poses.

    Perhaps at some time following prolonged circulatory arrest, the blood solidifies inside the patient, rendering return of circulation impossible. If so, that would certainly be proof of death according to RJDB/RHS.

  82. Hirhurim says:

    Dr. Stadlan: I don’t understand how you are reading R. Schachter’s article. He is discussing someone who is brain dead, whose blood is flowing but whose brain is (so to speak) dead. Even though the blood is flowing, if the three vital organs no longer function then the person is dead. If only one of the organs is dead, i.e. the brain, then the person is safek dead. That’s what he writes in his article. There’s no need to interpret it because he’s very clear.

  83. Shalom Spira says:

    Alternatively, if we are not capable of diagnosing when circulatory arrest is irreversible with ECMO, RJDB/RHS might have to concede to delay burial until decomposition, as per Chatam Sofer YD 338. In contect, of course, Chatam Sofer was vociferously forbidding the delay of burial, on the plea that the Chevra Kadisha is competent in the signs of the death, and that only a layman who is not a Chevra Kaddisha expert needs to wait until decomposition before pronouncing death. But perhaps times have now changed and no one today is anymore an expert in the signs of death (-if one should [controversially] interpret Chatam Sofer as granting credence to circulation as a sign of life), thereby necessatating delay of burial until decomposition. [See my comment on Dec. 12 at 12:00 a.m. at http://torahmusings.com/2010/12/death-by-neurological-criteria/comment-page-3/#comments ]

  84. Hirhurim says:

    S & Chardal: The whole point of this post is that it isn’t an either/or. You can be opposed to some chumros and not others. Of course I oppose beating up women who won’t sit in the back of the bus. A parent has to know how to deal with a child or rebbe who fails to show proper respect. That’s a life lesson.

  85. S. says:

    We’re talking about chumra-creep, not the fact that our religion encompasses some chumros and some kulos. Since you already acknowledged that it exists, you know that it’s a big societal thing and can’t be reduced to some chumros are good and some are not, which is a healthy and normal outlook. Nowadays we are talking about an unhealthy thing which you acknowledged exists, only you find it entertaining and it never hit home for you. Yet.

  86. Hirhurim says:

    No, I’m saying that we don’t need to oppose every chumra and taking a reactionary stance like that is unhealthy and probably counterproductive.

  87. Shalom Spira says:

    To our Rosh Yeshiva, R. Student,
    Ye’yasher kochakha. I think, though, what Dr. Stadlan means is that R. Yonatan Eibeshutz (Kreiti Upleiti YD 40, se’if katan 5) held that another organ can take over the function of the heart. Ergo, the heart is fungible, so long as the function of the heart (i.e. circulation) is assumed by another entity. [Parenthetically, in the times of Chazal, it was apparently assumed that the liver circulated blood, but RHS has subconsciously solved that problem by equally endowing the liver with value.] I can’t speak for RHS, of course, but I can say with certainty that this is what RJDB has openly stated (on some occasions [such as Benetivot Hahalakhah III, p. 116], in contrast with others, when he refers to cardiac spontaneity as a necessary precondition for “life”)].

  88. aiwac says:

    “No, I’m saying that we don’t need to oppose every chumra and taking a reactionary stance like that is unhealthy and probably counterproductive.”

    Gil,

    Would you argue the same for kulot?

  89. Rafael Araujo says:

    Chumra creep. Good one. When I see a teshuvah calling for the wearing of burkas, maybe the term will fit.

    WRT to the CC vs. Dr. Penkower: as aiwac points out, its the system. However, I don’t think its illogical the way the system works. Dr. Penkower chose academia and he wrote about the zeicher/zecher issue as an academic. He did not write is as a posek or for the purposes of halochoh l’maaseh. To “nem” on to his theory and therefore go against the CC, who, despite the constant cries from MO, is one of the greatest of the gedolei haposkim of the past 100 years, is ludicrous. In fact, if I, as a layman, not very learned, wrote a chaburah on this topic to present to my Shabbos chumash chaburah, coming to the same conclusions as Dr. Penkower, I would not expect that my contribution would carry any weight in this discussion. But in any event, the halachic process is: 1) pose question; 2) posek researches question; and 3)provides decision. That is the dividing line between a psak halochoh and an in-depth, informative and interesting article.

  90. Rafael Araujo says:

    BTW, I don’t see an issue for Chareidim to follow the CC. This is not even an issue in the makom tefilloh where I daven on Shabbos. However, I can certainly understand the griping among MO if this “chumra” is practiced in an MO congregation and you have every right to protest this practice since it represents a move in practice that offends MO sensibilities and viewpoints on halochoh and its development.

  91. Rafael Araujo says:

    I actually wouldn’t apply the term “creep” to what LWMO wants to do. More like “heter (not kuloh) freefall, since creep implies gradual change, and the recent moves by the LWMO in terms of women’s roles is not gradual but shocking sudden change (even though CJ and Reform set a precedent which may have lead to the recent results).

  92. Hirhurim says:

    aiwac: I’m in favor of certain kulos. I brush my teeth with toothbrush and toothpaste on Shabbos and I shake women’s hands (when appropriate).

  93. chardal says:

    >Dr. Penkower chose academia and he wrote about the zeicher/zecher issue as an academic

    Fine forget Dr. Penkower. R’ Breuer was most certainly a rabbi and he was most certainly writing about it as halacha lemaase. And he most certainly knew much much more about massoretic issues than the CC ever did. So isn’t the logical conclusion to follow the bigger expert? Especially since the CC’s position is not very defensable from a rational perspective.

    I understand your point – chareidm have largely rejected the construct of “accept the truth from wherever it comes” The identity of the person saying the idea is much more important in that world than the merit of the idea itself. But this whole post is about MO, who generally do accept this dictum.

  94. IH says:

    Gil – to complete the analogy in your posting, how did R. Emden publicly treat Moses Mendelssohn after this disagreement? Was this a respectful disagreement on one issue, or one in which the RW (R. Emden, in your analogy) tried to leverage it to generally de-legitimize the LW (M. Mendelssohn, in your analogy)?

  95. Hirhurim says:

    IH: R. Emden continue to speak down to Mendelssohn as a teacher to a student, insisting his view is the only legitimate one.

  96. joel rich says:

    R’ Chardal,
    That’s the system – once you leave the Beit Medrash, your opinion carries no weight – just don’t ask me why.
    KT

  97. IH says:

    “R. Emden continue to speak down to Mendelssohn as a teacher to a student, insisting his view is the only legitimate one.”

    Did the Yavetz attempt to de-legitimize Mendelssohn in public, or even in private?

  98. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    first, the titled topic:

    1. when RAK died in 1962, his levaya was delayed “so as to enable ppl to come to lakewood”. try doing that with a non quote godol unquote. (and i think there was a shabbat in between, making this even more …)

    2. hotels do non gebroxt, even though gebrokts is specificaly a “minhag”, not a halacha. and i have seen a hotel owner throw out the soup bowl that a guest crumpled her (shmura only) matza into.

    the heteirim mentioned (except for gebroxt) are kashrut heteirm that every kashrut agency uses every day, but you and i would never do in our homes. (things like mislabeling like the nyorker article. you or i would have thrown out the package, or given it to a non jewish neighbor, and yelled at the person bringing it in. the kashrut agencies just shrug it off. and that is benign heter. there are out and out heterim we would never do at home.)

    3. kitniyot would have been abolished, if not for the fact that this is one of the items separating O from R. (like the yikum purkan issue.)

  99. Jon_Brooklyn says:

    R. Gil: “Jon_Brooklyn: Care to elaborate?”

    Because you just legitimized the possibility of a left-wing! This may be surprising to you, but that wasn’t obvious to most people. Specifically myself. Now what I’m curious about, is how do the latest political controversies from the left-wing side break away from a Mendelsohnian approach?

  100. Yossi says:

    Is this an example of chumar creep

    Of course I oppose beating up women who won’t sit in the back of the bus.

    Hirhurim on July 28, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Of course the idea of that women should sit at the back of the bus (mehudrin busses) seems completely unremarkable!

  101. Noam Stadlan says:

    I apologize to those who have no interest in this topic, please feel free to skip this.

    R. Gil, I understand that you are taking Rav Schachter’s statement at what you think is face value. However, you have to look at his definition and understand the exact meaning of the terms. Because of advances in technology, there is a difference between anatomy and function, and any definition has to be specific as which it means. Before heart transplants and bypass pumps, the halachic definition of the term heart could mean both the anatomic heart and the pumping action of the heart. However, now it is possible to have blood pumping in the body without an anatomic heart. Therefore, when Rabbi Schacter refers to the heart as one of the three organs that are critical to life, is he referring to an anatomical heart? or the function of blood circulating in the body?

    If he means an actual anatomic heart, then someone with a mechanical heart is safek met/safek chai, and categorized as a gosses. Since he does accept that a transplanted heart is the same halachically as the native(person’s own) heart, he needs to explain why a biological heart can halachically substitute for the heart, but a machine doesn’t. (it also opens up some fascinating questions, such as: can one subject onself to a procedure that results in the person being safek meit? since Rav Schachter says that in this situation all d’oreita’s have to be decided l’chumra, and the din of retzicha is d’oreita….). In addition, all the laws of gosses are going to apply to the person with the mechanical heart- cant touch him except for his own benefit, etc. Furthermore, conjoined twins start off as safek meit/safek chai, since there aren’t three organs for each. Therefore, they cant be in the same room as a cohen since they are safek meit etc. Finally, if one person’s heart is transplanted into a different person, that one person’s heart is still functioning, and there is no reason to posit that the person is dead- his heart, one of the three organs upon which life is dependent, is still beating. The transplant recipient is now two people, the donor isn’t dead, with all the issues of marriage, yichud, etc.

    The other possibility is that the halachic heart refers not to the piece of tissue but just the function- that of circulation. Under this understanding it is the circulation that is key, no matter how or what supplies it. This avoids the problems listed above. However, if an otherwise ‘dead’ body is attached to the pump, the circulation provided means that the halachic heart is functioning, and the person has to be considered a gosses.

    I was going under the assumption that Rav Schachter would consider the function the key, and not the specific biological piece of anatomy. If however, he holds that the biological heart is the halachic definition of heart, then you are correct and I will readily admit that I am wrong. However, Rav Schachter then has a lot of explaining to do with regard to all the ramifications of his position as noted above.

    I think that it is very reasonable to expect that a uniform halachic definition is going to be used in all cases. Otherwise, one is open to claims that one is picking and chosing halacha to suit circumstances.

  102. Hirhurim says:

    There are only two possibilities? I can think of a third and would not rule out others. Perhaps R. Schachter considers a transplanted heart to be a biological heart, in contrast to mechanical devices.

  103. Noam Stadlan says:

    I haven’t ruled out more possibilities. I mentioned the two broad categories and there certainly can be some options within each. The point is that he needs to define with precision exactly what he means and deal with the logical consequences of that definition. He certainly could do as you say, and in fact I mentioned that as a consideration. I would look forward to seeing the halachic justification for that position. However there are ramifications to that position as well. I see that you haven’t addressed yourself to any of the ramifications of any of the positions(and as far as I know, neither has Rav Schachter). His position can make some sense if one assumes that anatomy always goes along with function. Since technology makes that assumption false, his position, as far as I can tell, loses logical coherence. It only can make sense if he stays blurry on the details. If you have a solution that addresses all the problems I raised I would be happy to hear it. Otherwise it appears that my critique is accurate. This issue and Rav Schachter’s approach is discussed in much more detail here: http://www.hods.org/pdf/Problems-Defining-Life-and-Death-by-Circulation.pdf

  104. Hirhurim says:

    All you wrote is that if R. Schachter considers a transplanted heart to be the recipient’s heart but not a mechanical device, then he has to explain the difference. It seems intuitive to me becaus it is naturally and organically a heart. I can’t magine that someone with an arm transplant would be exempt from putting on tefillin just because the arm came from someone else but clearly someone with a prosthetic arm is exempt from tefillin shel yad. But I look forward to R. Schachter’s explanation if that is truly what he holds.

    It certainly avoids some of the counterintuitive implications you assigned to him earlier.

  105. Noam stadlan says:

    Please reread my earlier comment. There are many halachic problems with the solution you suggested. Providing a halachic rationale for the diyyuk is the easiest part.

  106. chardal says:

    >R’ Chardal,
    That’s the system – once you leave the Beit Medrash, your opinion carries no weight – just don’t ask me why.
    KT

    But R’ Breuer never really left the beit midrash. Since he was the biggest expert on this topic, then why should not his rabbinic opinion carry more weight and that of those who are ignorant of the issues involved?

  107. joel rich says:

    R’ chardal,
    Leaving the beit medrash takes many forms (ask r’ j weider)
    KT

  108. chardal says:

    R’ Joel,

    I am afraid I don’t understand what you are saying. What is this figurative leaving of the beit medrash? Does it involve knowing things about history and Torah topics outside of gemara? Please expand.

  109. joel rich says:

    R’Chardal,
    It means imho using or having studied any methodology or knowledge not traditionaly studied or used in the B”M which might inform (of course it will) on your halachic results.
    KT

  110. JOEL RICH:

    “It means imho using or having studied any methodology or knowledge not traditionaly studied or used in the B”M which might inform (of course it will) on your halachic results.”

    did chachmei teveriyah leave the beis midrash? the ohr torah? the minchas shai? wolf heidenheim? all of these are people upon whose authority we rely for fixing our text. r. breuer himself is just one more link in this chain. what has changed that r. breuer “left the beis midrash” but the others didn’t?

    are people even aware that the basis for our mikraos gedolos (incl. some of its errors) is a christian/apostate endeavor? they never left the beis midrash but r. breuer did?

    prof. kaplan mentioned above prof. penkower’s exhaustive article on zecher/zeicher. it is certainly more exhasutive than r. breuer’s earlier treatment of the subject in megadim and other places. but nothing beats r. breuer’s literary flair and this article in particular is worth a read. his point is that we have abandoned chachmei teveriya for the christian mikraos gedolos and this is bizayon for the torah. or as he says it, we have rejected ben maimon (who lent authority to the tiberian tradition, although not clear if maximally or minimally) for ibn adoniyahu (aspostate editor of mikraos gedolos).

  111. joel rich says:

    R’Abba,
    You’re preaching to the converted – I’m reflecting what I see in the world of the beit medrash (where anyone connected with BRGS seems to need to state “I’m not talking lhalacha”)
    KT

  112. 2 years ago i saw a later printing (edition?) of cassutto’s tanach on a shamos shelf. i asked the rav if i could take it. he said he would have to check with his father first. he explained to me that we have to be careful because some editions were published by christians and we shouldn’t use them. i looked around at the “kosher” chumashim sitting on the shevles. i thought to explain to him why cassutto’s tanach–yes, i’m aware of its letteris/ginsburg basis–is more kosher than some of the editions his mispalelim use every shabbos morning. instead i smiled and moved on. i guess cassoutto sounded too christian.

  113. Jerry says:

    Hirhurim: “All you wrote is that if R. Schachter considers a transplanted heart to be the recipient’s heart but not a mechanical device, then he has to explain the difference.”

    But then what about the mechanical heart/gosses problem? I think the issue is that it’s not enough to just explain the difference. There is a logical coherence problem as well.

  114. Hirhurim says:

    Jerry: Who said it’s a goses? That is entirely Dr. Stadlan’s invention. While I would be interested in hearing what R. Schachter has to say on this and many other matters, I don’t see how any of these are anything other than interesting further questions. They certainly don’t imply that R. Schachter considers someone who is walking and talking is really dead.

  115. Jerry says:

    Abba:

    I think one problem is that you’re always going to have people like Gil who pooh-pooh something like this because it doesn’t fit with their agenda. But the bigger problem, I think, is that you definitely have a large group of people – even MO types – who don’t even know that this is a contentious issue. This group won’t necessarily go out and read R. Breuer on its own, but it would have no problem, for example, switching from zeicher/zecher to just zeicher if [a] big posek[im] said so.

    We thereby have a large group of people relying on individuals whom they assume to have mastered a certain body of knowledge. Therefore, if these individuals don’t seem to care, then why should this larger group care? The problem, then, is twofold: A) the large group doesn’t realize that the individuals leaders have not, in fact, mastered the relevant knowledge in order to properly judge an issue like this, and, more importantly, B) the individual leaders themselves do not, to the best of my knowledge, seem aware that they have not mastered the relevant knowledge in order to properly judge an issue like this.

    It’s one thing for S. to quote the tshuvah of the NBY, but that sort of relinquishing of authority, even just from a sociological perspective, is difficult to imagine happening in the current climate where you have an increasingly militant left wing, and a right wing with an ever more vocal and hysterical demographic of askanim encouraging a siege mentality (in both cases we can argue where on the spectrum this begins to manifest).

  116. Jerry says:

    Hirhurim: Maybe he doesn’t. But if he doesn’t, that just creates more problems. How do you allow a mechanical heart to create a fully live body just like a native heart or a transplanted human heart, but then avoid the major problem of Dr. Stadlan’s original hypothetical, namely (as I understand it; correct me if I’m wrong), that you can replicate what the mechanical heart does for an unequivocally dead person for as long as it takes for the arteries to decay?

  117. Jerry says:

    Hirhurim: “They certainly don’t imply that R. Schachter considers someone who is walking and talking is really dead.”

    This is such an interesting sentence, because this is really the only common denominator between all of the cases R. Schachter would rule vaday alive, that would not be shared by any of the cases R. Schachter would rule dead. What does that tell you?

  118. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    the zeicher – zecher issue is only a yeshivish (partialy litvish — only some litvish communities, prob some of the yeshivish ones) custom / chumra. why should everyone in my shul who are not yeshivish, except for the baal koreh, be subjected to this? (and the rules of the shul are not yeshivish.)

  119. Shalom Spira says:

    There is no question that RHS’s analysis from the original 1988 symposium with RMDT (and transcribed in RHS’s Be’ikvei Hatzon no. 36) must be refined, as Dr. Stadlan has praiseworthily demonstrated. When pressed on the point by R. David Berger (who was a member of the audience at the 1988 symposium), RHS said that a patient in liver failure would be considered safek chai safek met, just like a brain dead patient, even though the patient is still conscious. RMDT responded that this is absurd, saying it is incompatible with the verse “rak am chakham venavon hagoy hagadol hazeh” (Deuteronomy 4:6). Dr. Stadlan has proven based on the gemara in Menachot 37a that consciousness is absolute proof of life. Clearly, not all the evarim she’haneshamah teluyah vahem are of equal importance. Or, alternatively, perhaps what Chazal called the “liver” is really for us the combined effects of the heart and liver, since the liver in the time of Chazal was believed to circulate blood. [Source: Medicine's 10 Greatest Discoveries (Yale University Press, 1998) by Meyer Friedman and Gerald W. Friedland, p. 20. "Galen erred, moreover, in in continuing to believe, as had his Greek predecessors, that the liver not only formed the body's blood, it also pumped it to the rest of the body."] According to this alternate possibility, RHS erred in assuming that a patient in liver failure is missing one of the evarim shehaneshamah teluyah vahem.

    More fundamentally, RHS never proved that circulation of blood is – in and of itself – a sufficient sign of life. The sources RHS marshals regarding “ki hadam hu hanafesh” prove that a person cannot live without circulation; but those sources do not prove that a person can live *only* with circulation. Perhaps “ki hadam hu hanafesh” means that *when* a person is autonomously breathing, then the soul is carried in the blood. But if a person is not breathing, who says the blood is carried by the soul?

    The major revolution to vindicate RHS occurred in 1991, when RSZA elucidated Chatam Sofer to mean that circulation alone – even if bereft of autonomous breathing – is a sign that the last breath the patient autonomously took (even if many days ago) is still having a beneficial effect on the patient. Ergo, the patient is still potentially alive, and RHS’s thesis was thereby vindicated. Obviously (or – at least to me it is obvious), RMF did not agree with RSZA on this point, and so we are left with a major confrontation between RMF vs. RSZA.

    Regarding the case of conjoined twins, since they may sometimes share vital organs, they are definitely alive, but one or both of them may be treifah, as RJDB explains in his analysis why RMF permitted Dr. Everett Koop to perform the 1977 Philadelphia case procedure (Bioethical Dilemmas, Vol. 1, and Benetivot Hahalakhah, Vol. 3).

    When a person’s organ (such as his heart) is disembodied, I believe that RHS will concede that the disembodied organ no longer represents the living human being, since a human being needs a minimum measurement of “rosho verubbo”.

  120. S. says:

    MiMedinat HaYam, the procedures of how the laining takes place in your shul are presumably under the auspices of your rabbi, not the ba’al koreh. Why don’t you raise the issue to him.

    It’s also incorrect to say that it’s a yeshivish issue per se. The Mishnah Berurah is not only for yeshivish people. It just so happens that in this case the textual facts do not support the Mishnah Berurah’s contention that there is really some doubt. We can also argue about whether or not it really is proper to repeat it even if there is doubt, but the point is that there really isn’t a doubt, contra to what is reported by the Mishnah Berurah.

    Can anyone confirm that this hakpadah has even spread to some Sefardi shuls, where they don’t pronounce the tzeirei differently from segol at all – except here? I’ve heard that, but can’t confirm it. Of course this is really bizarre since there are a total of 8 tzeireis in parashas zachar, and unless the other 7 are pronounced properly too (as well as three tav refuyahs) the whole thing seems more absurd.

  121. Hirhurim says:

    Jerry: How do you allow a mechanical heart to create a fully live body just like a native heart or a transplanted human heart, but then avoid the major problem of Dr. Stadlan’s original hypothetical, namely (as I understand it; correct me if I’m wrong), that you can replicate what the mechanical heart does for an unequivocally dead person for as long as it takes for the arteries to decay?

    I do not believe that there currently exists a mechanical heart, although people are in the process of making one. In general, this quickly becomes the Bicentennial Man dilemma — what is the difference between a man and a machine? If a person’s major organs and limbs are replaced by mechanical devices, at what point do they become robots? And if a robot’s brain is made sufficiently independent, random and capable of emotions, at what point does he become human? I don’t know the answer but I don’t think Dr. Stadlan’s answer — it’s all in the brain — fully contemplates the technological possibilities.

    Regarding the heart, perhaps this forces R. Schachter to resolve his safek and conclude that death depends on all three organs. Perhaps not.

    This is such an interesting sentence, because this is really the only common denominator between all of the cases R. Schachter would rule vaday alive, that would not be shared by any of the cases R. Schachter would rule dead. What does that tell you?

    That someone in a permanent vegetative state is dead? I don’t think anyone says that.

  122. Noam stadlan says:

    R. Gil. Please read rav schachter’s article on the HODS website pages 39-40.. He clearly states that some one who lacks one of the three organs is safek meit and safek chai and is a gosses. It is there black and white. I haven’t made anything up. If you are going to claim that circulation provided by a machine does not qualify as having a halachic heart, them someone with a mechanical heart is missing one of the three organs, and according to rav schachter’s own words is safek meit safek chai and a gosses. As I pointed out, you can’t have it both ways and you have to accept the halachic ramifications of the position. If you are going to have a definition of death you have to apply that definition to all cases and accept the results. If you are not happy with the results, please don’t accuse me of making stuff up. Perhaps what is necessary is a different definition

  123. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    s — in my shul’s case, its the baal koreh. (the rabbi’s son)

    the MB may not be for non yeshivish, but we dont (really) always follow the MB. (absent known minhagim, other factors.) neither do we necessarily follow the SA. (i want to publish a book “halachot of SA we dont follow.” it will be banned by every yeshiva, but it will be a best seller.)

  124. Noam stadlan says:

    Of course there are artificial hearts. Remember Barney clark? And now there are some that ate totally implantable, and someone lived for 512 days with one, according to wikipedia(I don’t have the scientific articles in front of me). Yes, I have thought out the technical ramifications of my position. I will be happy to send the paper to anyone who wishes.

  125. Noam stadlan says:

    And by the way, rav schachter, in his paper, specifically considers what you suggest(going with all three) and rejects it.

  126. Hirhurim says:

    Dr. Stadlan: You are correct and I had forgotten about that part of the paper. R. Schachter does, indeed, explicitly hold that someone whose liver or heart fails is a goses and that a goses can freely walk around because death is a process. It is not, however, essential in any way to his conception of brain death.

    Yes, I was referring to a fully implantable total artificial heart: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_heart#Total_artificial_heart

    Perhaps we are thinking of different articles or I am remembering incorrectly. In your Meorot Journal article do you discuss artificial brains? I’m still not sure why your thesis does not apply equally to the view of RM Feinstein and the Israeli Chief Rabbinate (that life depends on independent breathing) as it does to RJD Bleich and RH Shachter.

  127. Hirhurim says:

    Dr. Stadlan: And by the way, rav schachter, in his paper, specifically considers what you suggest(going with all three) and rejects it.

    He considers it a safek. He also considered your proposal and rejected it.

  128. Noam stadlan says:

    R gil. You write about rav schachter’s conception of brain death. You have to look at his general conception of death and see how it applies to all situations, including brain death. You will find that he has to apply different rules in order to get the result he wants regarding brain death. I am arguing that the rules have to apply to all situations and the rules he uses o get the results he wants result in problems when applied in other situations.

    The chief rabbinate criteria are based on brain based respiration(among other criteria) therefore a person whose brain doesn’t tell him to breathe is dead and it doesn’t matter if there is circulation in the body or not. So no, the problem doesn’t apply to the chief rabbinate criteria. The topic of r Moshe’s criteria tendler/rosner is interesting but it doesn’t conflict either under the usual understanding.

    I have not addressed artificial intellegence in any published papers so far. I think it is important to focus on the practical, what is technologically feasible, with the understanding that future technology may mandate a reevaluation. The answer to artificial intellegence lies with how you
    answer te most fundamental question- not how you know when someone is dead, but what is the essential element without which a human being is not a human being? My contention at the present is that it is based on neurogical function.

    I get the impression that you feel there is no way that I can be right, matter how cogent the arguments. I ask that you read rav schachter’s article, rav bleich time of death article, and then my meorot and RCA blog article. Think about defining life and death not just regarding brain death, but all situations where you have to decide if a collection of tissue is a human life or not. In return I will not bring up the issue again on your blog(although I may not be able resist the urge to respond if it is brought up by others)

    shabbat shalom

  129. Shalom Spira says:

    Ye’yasher kochakha, Dr. Stadlan. The way I see it, I would summarize your cogent arguments, with my responses, as follows:

    1. Cogent Argument: According to RHS, if a heart is transplanted from Reuven to Shimon, does that means Reuven is “alive” inside Shimon?

    Response: When an organ is disembodied, it no longer has “rosho verubbo” and so it is discounted.

    2. Cogent Argument: According to RHS, shouldn’t conjoined twins who share vital organs be considered doubtfully dead?

    Response: Sharing an organ between two patients renders one (or possibly both) a treifah, though both are still definitely alive.

    3. Cogent Argument: When should a chevra kaddisha bury a dead person according to RHS?

    Response: Seemingly, there are several possibilities due to uncertainty in the writings of the various poskim on this subject: (i) When all three vital organs (heart, liver and brain) have died. Alternatively, perhaps what Chazal called the “liver” is really what we call the heart, so it should suffice for the brain and heart (the two electrical batteries of the human being) to die. (ii) When the blood solidifies after prolonged cardiac arrest, rendering restoration of circulation impossible even by an ECMO machine. (iii) We are no longer experts in the determination of death, so we are like the laymen described by Chatam Sofer YD 338 who must wait for putrefaction.

    Parenthetically, R. Eli Mansour has a tape on Parashat Bo where he suggests that the opening verse “ki Ani hikhbad’ti et libo” means that HKB”H turned Pharaoh’s heart into a liver. [kaved=liver] The above analysis offers a new dimension of meaning to that claim…

    The key question is whether RHS has any basis to claim that circulation is life in the absence of respiration. RMF held not, RSZA held maybe.

  130. Shlomo says:

    Leaving the beit medrash takes many forms (ask r’ j weider)

    I take it the issue isn’t leaving the beit midrash, the issue is leaving MY beit midrash. R’ Breuer’s beit midrash just isn’t considered legitimate by many of his opponents on this issue.

  131. Noam Stadlan says:

    R. Spira- if I may humbly suggest that defining a person as present when there is rosho v’rubo present is quite interesting but brings up problems of its own, including the possibility that a thinking talking head, without the rubo, would be considered dead under your construct.

    Regarding your interpretation of Rav Schachter, he is quite clear that all the organs are needed to avoid the safek meit/safek chai situation. If he means anatomic organs, and the twins do not have the requisite 6 between them, then at least one is safek meit/safek chai(and by Rav Schachter’s extension, a gosses). Of course there may be an inventive halachic way to use sharing that avoids admitting that it is actually the function that is being shared- but I am no aware that argument has been made.

    According to Rav Schacter’s arguement and definitions, the chevra kadisha bury a person when all three organs that life depend on(brain liver and heart) are no longer present(according to his definitioni of no longer present- either no longer function, no longer recieve circulation, or otherwise). Rav Schacter starts with the basis that ‘hadam hu hanafesh’ and then applies the category of ever sh’hanishama tiluya ba.

    R. Gil- yes, Rav Schachter holds that modern science cannot have any influence on the halachic definition of death(something that isn’t exactly progressive, if you ask me, and in fact is based on the Chazon Ish) and therefore rejects my position on the basis of principle. On the other hand, if I understand your suggestion correctly, he rejected what you suggest he may go back to on the basis that it produced results that were somewhat incoherent. Going back to that position is still going to produce incoherent results. Considering my position only requires a re-examination of principles, and does not produce incoherent results.

    In other words, he holds there are three organs upon which life depends. his safek is whether life ends when one organ is gone, or whether life ends when all three are gone. Since he believes that a liver can cease to have circulation but the person still walks and talks, it appears that loss of just one organ is not compatible with death, so he created the category of safek meit/safek chai(and applied the label of gosses to it) to cover the situation where one of the organs is not there. He certainly go back to declaring death when only one organ is not there, but then he has to accept the person without a liver but otherwise ok as a dead person. That does not appear to be a very attractive option, and he rejected it for what appears to be a good reason.

    Bottom line: Take the definition that he proposes at face value. Apply it to different fact patterns. look at the results. If you dont like the results, perhaps the definition needs to be revised. Otherwise, accept the results with all the implications. It is really very simple.

  132. Shachar Ha'amim says:

    “In addition, it’s not enough to say that it’s still a valid position to allow peanut butter when in practice you will never find it with a kasher le-pesach hashgacha, or even in the stores altogether. ”

    “Just call and ask about OU-certified peanut butter.”

    There is NO OU-certified KFP peanut butter. NONE!! if there were we would see them in Israel around Pesach with a KFP leochlei kitniyot on the label (most imported peanut butter in israel is american with OU certification). we simply don’t see those.
    this year a local manufacturer that is normally under the hasgacha of the badatz eidah charedis produced KFp peanut butter that stated “KFP leochlei kitniyot bilvad” on the label.
    forcing a manufacturer to state “leochlei kitniyot” on peanut butter which contains peanuts and salt and nothing else, is onnat devarim and fraud, and adding “bilvad” is certainly, doubly so. everyone knows that peanuts are not kitniyot – there is a tshuva from RMF that says so and even most chassidshe poskim acknowledge this. The OU plays along with this game. if they were intellectually honset to their consumers and straighforward and upright with their clients, they would go to MR. JIF and Mr. Skippy and tell them that by not allowing a KFP label on peanut butter they are losing out to a large consumer base in Israel (over 80% of KFP consumers).

  133. Hirhurim says:

    There is no OU certified KFP peanut butter but there is OU certified peanut butter. Any consumer can call and ask if it contains any chametz or can be eaten by someone who eats peanuts on Pesach. Seriously, it’s one phone call. Not too hard.

  134. chardal says:

    >I take it the issue isn’t leaving the beit midrash, the issue is leaving MY beit midrash. R’ Breuer’s beit midrash just isn’t considered legitimate by many of his opponents on this issue.

    Just on this issue? I guess … after all, above Gil doubted whether massoretic studies should have anything to do with resolving textual issues.

    I guess that third hand speculations on what people might have heard the Gra read are more authoritative than the traditional way of resolving these issues through expertese in the massorah and its texts and commentaries.

    It is so sad that we live in a day and age where ignorance is considered more frum than knowledge.

  135. Shachar Ha'amim says:

    “Hirhurim on July 31, 2011 at 6:45 am
    There is no OU certified KFP peanut butter but there is OU certified peanut butter. Any consumer can call and ask if it contains any chametz or can be eaten by someone who eats peanuts on Pesach. Seriously, it’s one phone call. Not too hard.”

    I’m confused. are you suggested that there are products that while they really are KFP, the OU just doesn’t certify them as such and leaves it up to consumers to call and/or decide on their own??? I have to say that is news to me. I can tolerate (and even understand a bit) that a pure ashkenazic, private hashgacha – such as the badatz eidah chareidis – will certify products year round and state that their certification doesn’t include Pesach b/c of either kitniyot issues and/or certain stringencies, and other national organization will then certify that product accordingly.
    However, the OU is not nominally “ashkenazi”. It is a national certification organization – and I think that Sefardim (and sefardi shuls) are members in the OU (and its satellite orgs such as NCSY). How can the decide that they won’t certify KFP any products that are KFP only for kitniyot eaters?!? what exactly do they tell the manufacturer?!? why won’t they certify coca cola bottlers that have an OU and use corn syrup if the corn syrup is really KFP for kitniyot eaters (for everyone if you hold than corn isn’t kitniyot)?!?

    Behind your “it takes just one phone call” comment lies a whole host of other issues of just exactly what it means to be a national kashrut organization.

  136. Shachar Ha'amim says:

    The central premise of the OU is that one SHOULDN’T have to call the organization in order to determine if a product is kosher (or KFP). It either is and is labelled such – either on the label or on a list (a la UK) – or it isn’t. The whole phone call thing just undermines the whole national kashrut labelling system.
    A product that contains just an OU without OU/P around Pesach is making a statement by the OU – which is saying that it is chametz (or should be treated as such) for ALL Jews.

  137. Hirhurim says:

    Chardal: Where is R. Breuer’s teshuvah on the subject? He didn’t writes teshuvos, just articles for publications. That’s why he isn’t part ofnthe halakhic process.

    Shachar: Mainstream Ashkenazim, for better or for worse, don’t eat peanuts on Pesach. Like you, I want every kashrus organization to follow my personal opinions and standards. But that’s not how it works. They need to have clear and simple labels. If you want more complicated answers or different standards, you have to call.

  138. IH says:

    Gil — I find it incredulous you believe a call to the OU will generate an affirmative answer to eating a food they do not classify as KFP. At best I would expect you would get, ask your LOR.

    E.g. but, perhaps we should all try it next year (e.g. on Peanut Butter and Quinoa). Mass action is all the rage…

  139. Hirhurim says:

    IH: They will tell you whether it contains anything else objectionable, like chametz gamur.

  140. IH says:

    Thanks. I made a note and will try calling them when doing next year’s Pesach shopping.

  141. Þanbo says:

    Abba’s Rantings Re leaving the beit midrash. Look at all the sources you cite as precedents for R Breuer:

    did chachmei teveriyah leave the beis midrash? the ohr torah? the minchas shai? wolf heidenheim? all of these are people upon whose authority we rely for fixing our text. r. breuer himself is just one more link in this chain. what has changed that r. breuer “left the beis midrash” but the others didn’t?

    What changed is the Enlightenment and the relegation of grammar and linguistics/philology to Wissenschaft des Judentums. Before 1800, sure, lots of grammarians. Radak, etc. Wolf Heidenheim, Seligmann Baer in Germany, were about the last of those, and mostly trained up before Wissenschaft/Verklarung became the intellectual arm of Reform.

    I can’t help but think that R’ Breuer may also have shot himself in the foot by quasi-embracing the JEPD distinctions. Note recent writings by RDr Moshe Koppel trying to save himself from a similar fate over the recent computer text-style analysis that distinguishes between a Priestly Source and Everything Else (does it also distinguish between Deuteronomy, supposedly in Moshe Rabbenu’s voice, and the rest?)

    Evidently the 19th-century rejection of grammar in the Beis Midrash (which makes learning gemara that much harder, let me tell you, because you don’t know what they’re saying) is still in force. And, as every chumra comes along with a concomitant kula, perhaps the chumra against grammar necessitates the kula of needing the Artscroll to understand the Gemara.

  142. chardal says:

    >Chardal: Where is R. Breuer’s teshuvah on the subject? He didn’t writes teshuvos, just articles for publications. That’s why he isn’t part ofnthe halakhic process.

    His article on the topic is halachic in its nature and takes a clear stance regarding what should be the normative halachic behavior. Even if you are correct and its format somehow takes it out of the halachic process, then at the very least, it is authoratative for establishing the metzius of whether or not there is a safek of zecher/zeicher and it clearly establishes that there is no such safek – therefore, the very position of the MB on which the current minhag is based, has its origin in an assumption that is simply false.

    Continuing the minhag means creating a safek where none exists. It is based on a methodology that trully undermines the very foundations of our biblical text and all those sages of the past who were moser nefesh – sometimes literally in order to establish authoritative texts and readings. Personally, I will take nurishkeit such as upshernish any day over a minhag that trully undermines the authority of the massoretic text.

    If you are correct that only those who write in the traditional genre of the shu”t literature are part of the halachic process, then we have a huge problem – in that those who are most likely to write in this format, are also the ones least exposed, not just to general knowledge (which is important in its own right), but even to specialized forms of Torah knowledge (dikduk, history, massoretic studies, philosophy, etc) such as the issue we are discussing.

    This creates a somewhat unique situation in the history of halacha in which those charged with the continuations of the halachic process are not just ignorant of whole areas of Torah, but do not have the respect and trust of an educated yet faithful layity. The potential consequences are huge! And the issue we are discussing is just an example (the discussion you are having with Dr. Stadlan touches on many of the same meta-issues).

    In truth, has there ever been a period in Jewish history where a large portion of the faithful layity were able to challenge the rabbinate in such a cogent manner (even if not in the genre of shu”t literature)? I think the answer is no. But the continued willful ignorance of these topics by the traditional rabbinate does not bode well for the future. People such as myself will neither abandon tradition nor will we be willing to subject ourselves to people who either do not have the knowledge or the courage to lead using sensible and educated halachic decisions. So yet another alienated sub-group will be created within orthodoxy. The question is, how many such sub-groups can orthodoxy tolerate before it starts tearing itself apart from the inside?

  143. aiwac says:

    chardal,

    MO/RZ has only itself to blame, for not truly creating a critical mass of knowledgeable Rabbis with the guts to ignore the kono’im and the Charedi Gedolim.

  144. Shachar Ha'amim says:

    “Shachar: Mainstream Ashkenazim, for better or for worse, don’t eat peanuts on Pesach. Like you, I want every kashrus organization to follow my personal opinions and standards. But that’s not how it works. They need to have clear and simple labels. If you want more complicated answers or different standards, you have to call.”

    it is BECAUSE of the kashrut organizations that this happened. 30 years ago nearly every kashrut for pesach publication said that peanuts were OK. my mother went to the frummest of the frummest “women prepare for Pesach shiur” in Brooklyn, given by a scion of zanz and bobov dynastys who always said “pshita, that peanuts are NOT kitniyos”. EVERYONE held like RMF on this issue. It was the kashrut organizations giving into the the strictest common denominator that created the social phenomenon that you describe – not the other way around.

  145. chardal says:

    >MO/RZ has only itself to blame, for not truly creating a critical mass of knowledgeable Rabbis with the guts to ignore the kono’im and the Charedi Gedolim.

    It’s not about blame. And this discussion is happening within the MO world. Further, it would be enough for the rabbis to just acknowledge the areas that they don’t know – instead of pretending that they have some sort of expertese in all areas of Torah.

    Not everyone has to be an expert in everything – they just have to be humble enough to consult experts when necessary and to have a minimum level of healthy skepticism regarding claims made by the sages of the past – some of whom did not have the tools to properly decide these issues.

    The solution is for the rabbis to have proper respect for other disciplines and know the limits of only spending your time on gemara and poskim.

  146. Shachar Ha'amim says:

    “Hirhurim on July 31, 2011 at 7:54 am
    IH: They will tell you whether it contains anything else objectionable, like chametz gamur.”

    this is machshil the tzibbur. if people think that a product which has OU year round doesn’t have OU on pesach is chametz or a chametz derivative when it is really not they are liable to take actions that they normally wouldn’t have to take otherwise – destroying the product, destroying or kashering keilim that do not need to be destroyed or kashered. others.
    the OU should ON THE LABEL (or at the minimum a well advertised circular) advise when products that are OU certified are either not chametz but just don’t have supervsion because the plant didn’t want to kosher the equiopment, or are KFP for kitniyot eaters (and should offer that option of supervision to its customers)

  147. aiwac says:

    chardal,

    That would require admitting that a big part of the present Torah-education system is lacking/broken. There’s too much riding on that (money, prestige, habits) for this to ever happen.

    Besides, if I may play devil’s advocate, it’s not like the attempt to really “integrate” secular knowledge and Torah has been very successful; usually it results in some combo of Orthopraxy and/or compartmentalization, or Po-Mo ducking the issue entirely.

  148. ruvie says:

    r’ gil – as you – and the rw of mo – drape yourself in r’ emdem’s approach to judaism – ” We respect traditional practices and wish to strengthen today’s rabbinic Judaism” – does that include the advocacy of abolishing t’ gershon ban on pologamy? or the advocacy of the piligesh for married ( and i believe unmarried) men?

  149. aiwac says:

    Uh…ruvie, who do you know on the RW who advocates such a thing? IIRC it was the far LWer TZvi Zohar who suggested it.

  150. ruvie says:

    aiwac – it was one of the “customs” he wish to abolish – no? and r’ gil believes he is a follower of his approach to customs. lets not forget he also opposed philosophy and claimed that only a heretic could have written moreh nevuchim – not the rambam.

    “The past may not repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme” – mark twain. sometimes we read into the past what the present believes to be correct and find positive reinforcement therein.

  151. aiwac says:

    ruvie,

    I fail to see the connection (and I have difficulty believing R. Emden really believed that the Rambam didn’t actually write MN).

    I asked you a simple question – who on the RW supports polygamy/sex outside of wedlock?

  152. S. says:

    >Chardal: Where is R. Breuer’s teshuvah on the subject? He didn’t writes teshuvos, just articles for publications. That’s why he isn’t part ofnthe halakhic process.

    This makes no sense whatsoever. By this criterion the Rav never wrote a single teshuva. Last I heard, philosophical lectures aren’t teshuvos either.

  153. Ruvie says:

    Aiwac – I was trying to understand the differences between Mendelssohn and r’ emdem on abolishing customs – r’ gil didn’t offer enough examples for a differentiation between the the two(IMHO).

    The answer to the simple question is no one that I know of in either camp. But that is besides the point. R’ emdem’s advocacy of abolishing this long establish situation – monogamy-runs counter to the claim of abolishing only recent customs. And how does this “strengthen rabbinic Judaism” ? And does not the lw also believe in that as well?
    The phrases in the post are not supported by the evidence in differentiation – but maybe I am missing something when I read the post.

  154. aiwac says:

    Ruvie,

    I don’t know what Gil’s opinion is, but my guess is that it’s not an issue of a blanket abolition of custom or preservation thereof; It’s more nuanced than that – the question is what is removed and why (and what are the consequences).

  155. Ruvie says:

    Aiwac- examples would help to clarify and differentiate. There seems to be no methodology to the phrases quoted which both sides could claim represents them.the details need to be fleshed out for the claim to have any relevance.

    And yes the yavetz did claim that the rambam could not have written moreh nevuchim.

  156. S. says:

    Personally I just think he seized upon a nuance Lawrence Kaplan felt that he found between the two men over a similar issue (minhagim) and took the opportunity to compare himself and his chevra to someone regarded by all as one of the gedolim for all time and to compare a different chevra to someone regarded as a rasha by many if not most, despite disclaimers.

  157. chardal says:

    >Chardal: Where is R. Breuer’s teshuvah on the subject? He didn’t writes teshuvos, just articles for publications. That’s why he isn’t part ofnthe halakhic process.

    >This makes no sense whatsoever. By this criterion the Rav never wrote a single teshuva. Last I heard, philosophical lectures aren’t teshuvos either.

    BTW, Gil, you wrote above that you advocate the “kula” of brushing teeth with toothpaste. (I presume based on the Rav’s position on the matter). When did the Rav ever write a teshuva on the matter? I guess he isn’t a part of the halachic process either.

  158. Ruvie says:

    S. – this doesn’t prevent us from analyzing the post based on gil’s own methodology to see if his analogies stand up to analysis.

    Btw, what differentiates the rw from the lw in regards to women’s roles in society? It’s where they draw the line – for all accept bat mitzvah, women learning Torah even gemara, public roles etc.. All departing from tradition.

  159. Hirhurim says:

    Ruvie: The first paragraph of section III anticipated this question. This was a typology, emphasizing a specific trait and not necessarily someone’s entire worldview. Bsides which, you can follow someone’s general approach without endorsing every specific position he adopted.

  160. Hirhurim says:

    On women’s issues, see this post about the three positions in MO: http://torahmusings.com/2010/03/three-approaches-to-womens-issues/

  161. Hirhurim says:

    S: Rav Soloveitchik was an active posek, answering hundreds of she’eilos every year and leading the RCA’s halakhah commission for decades. R. Breuer was not a posek. He taught Tanakh (excellently and on a high level).

  162. chardal says:

    >R. Breuer was not a posek. He taught Tanakh (excellently and on a high level).

    He WAS a posek regarding texts. Frum publishing houses sought out his opinions constantly and his edition of the tanach is still highly considered in orthodox circles. He may not have been the rabbinic address for hilchos shabbos, but for this special area he was above the rest.

    So since the fact that he didn’t use the genre of shu”t is a non-issue. (R’ soloveitchic didn’t use it either), why isn’t his authority as a posek on textual matters (and he was a phenomenal scholar of the massorah – especially vowels and taamim) not valid?

  163. Hirhurim says:

    That isn’t pesak. That is scholarly consulting, like many academics do. Is Prof. Kaplan a posek on philosophy and history? Is the academic linguist Koren consults a posek on grammar?

  164. Shlomo says:

    Requoting the Noda Beyehuda’s words that someone brought earlier in the thread: “And behold, I am astonished that he chose to send these halachic queries to Chachamim and Rabbanim! Go and read his query to experts on Scriptures {baalei mikra}.”

    This quote sounds rather shocking to me, and I think to many of us – because we are trained to think that poskim, as the word “posek” implies, are the ones who make the final decisions about everything. I mean, is it conceivable that someone other than “the posek” should “be posek” about anything? I think the opposition to R’ Breuer here comes from the exact same source as the modern belief in “daas torah”. R’ Breuer clearly does not have whatever daas torah is supposed to mean, so regardless of the cogency of his arguments, his opinion is irrelevant. Those who do want some sort of gedolic veto on the free marketplace of ideas (which I think includes nearly all of us when it comes to practical halacha, though not the Noda Beyehuda in the case he wrote about) need to find some logically consistent way of justifying R’ Breuer’s idea while ruling out a number of other ideas which we do not find acceptable. I don’t think finding such a formulation is trivial.

  165. chardal says:

    >That isn’t pesak. That is scholarly consulting, like many academics do. Is Prof. Kaplan a posek on philosophy and history? Is the academic linguist Koren consults a posek on grammar?

    So the minchas shai was not a posek either because he was only trying to correct the mistakes in the first rabbinic bible nor were any of the other experts who are the basis for the Torah text we use in shul today. Throughout our history, sofrim consulted scholars who were experts in these matters – not rabbis who were not. The question of whether their authority deserves the title of psak is simply academic. In the end, these experts were the only ones qualified to render an opinion. Regarding zecher/zeicher, the issue is the same, whatever you say about the halachic theory – and I don’t agree with your assertions – R’ Breuer was qualified to render an opinion on the matter and the Chafetz Chaim was most definitly not qualified. It is irrelevant that the CC was a world class posek – he simply did not display knowledge in this area of Torah. Now, someone can be a non-expert and still be right, but in our case, the CC offers no real arguments that there is an actual safek – and our assumptions about his sources for this “safek” are so weak that they are frankly embaracing. So in your view, we can not change this really wrong, harmful and bad minhag until another non-expect who happens to be well versed in other areas of psak renders an opinion regarding something that he knows very little about. Can you see why those of us who respect knowledge, scholarship, and humility in the pursuit of truth, are a bit horrified and disturbed by the underlying assumptions of such a system of rabbinic authority?

  166. Jesse A. says:

    R. Gil,

    “That isn’t pesak. That is scholarly consulting, like many academics do. Is Prof. Kaplan a posek on philosophy and history? Is the academic linguist Koren consults a posek on grammar?”

    I’d like to move the conversation away from the question of how we define a posek, whether in general or in a specific subject area, and towards the broader question that is troubling me, and I think some of your other commentators here. The issue, as I see it, is that empirically, both based on all the opinion of all experts on the topic and historical evidence up until around 100 years ago, there is no doubt as to which is the correct text. This seems obvious to most of us who have examined the question. I haven’t seen anybody mount a counter-argument. What you seem to be responding is that none of this evidence matters until it ends up in a canonized work of halakhic writing, defined amorphously. Not only should it be irrelevant to practice, but it isn’t even admissible as evidence until it makes it into the halakhic discussion.

    This is troubling largely because it seems to have a fundamental disrespect for truth. Facts and arguments don’t matter, what matters is which shelf you pull the book off in the beis midrash, and who wrote it. I recognize that this view derives from R. Soloveitchik’s notion that Halakha is an autonomous system, and as such is ultimately unconcerned with other sources of truth. But I just want to make it clear why this so bothers me, and I think many of your other commentators here.

  167. S. says:

    >S: Rav Soloveitchik was an active posek, answering hundreds of she’eilos every year and leading the RCA’s halakhah commission for decades. R. Breuer was not a posek. He taught Tanakh (excellently and on a high level).

    You are correct. However we were discussing the format of what you considered an acceptable halachic responsum. If your contention is that R. Breuer was only a Tanakh teacher, you might have said so and not mentioned the format. Had he written a teshuva instead of an article, presumably you would have said he wasn’t a posek. You should have just said so in the first place.

    Like Chardal said, was the Minchas Shai a “posek?”

  168. Noam Stadlan says:

    small correction. the starting point actually is in this past weeks parasha- ‘ain lo damm’

  169. Hirhurim says:

    Regardless of whether R. Breuer was or was not a posek, much of the yeshiva world did not consider him one but instead consider him an academic just like Penkower. You can disagree but at least understand with what you are disagreeing.

  170. aiwac says:

    Ah, so now it’s the “yeshiva world” that gets to decide who’s in and who’s out. That settles it. Well, since the overwhelming majority of yeshivot is Charedi, I’d say that also settles how psak is determined nowadays.

  171. aiwac says:

    Forgot to add: according to you, Gil.

  172. Hirhurim says:

    Aiwac: You have to go back to the beginning of this discussion where people objected to anyone not following R. Breuer’s pesak. This isn’t about no one being allowed to.

  173. Ruvie says:

    “Ruvie: The first paragraph of section III anticipated this question. This was a typology, emphasizing a specific trait and not necessarily someone’s entire worldview. Bsides which, you can follow someone’s general approach without endorsing every specific position he adopted.”

    R’ gil- how does r’ emdem’ advocacy of pilegesh and polygamy not contradict the typology? It’s a custom or gezirah – very old btw- that he wish to abolish because of social circumstances of his day. Why is it not also a recapture of ” authentic” Judaism?

  174. Ruvie says:

    ” We respect traditional practices and wish to strengthen today’s rabbinic Judaism.” what does this actually mean in today’s reality. A claim that the lw would also justly claim.

    If you and the rw want to abolish upsherin,segulos, seeing each other before the wedding – we really talking about nariskeit- things that are really unimportant to the gestalt of Judaism on a daily basis. I would not label it progressive – but then again you claim a label if you can. Btw, many if not most in the mo world have eliminated the picture issue without consulting halachik authorities and by just doing it.

  175. Ruvie says:

    R’ gil- “But we hold closely our long-standing customs, particularly those your that are universally observed.”
    Please list said customs that would be in this category ( and which ones lw would abolish)

    How does this next statement:
    ” If it were up to me and I had the power, I would abolish the custom to refrain from eating kitniyos on Pesach”

    Not contradict the previous statement. To make your point cogent you need to elucidate exactly what customs pertain to which list. Your third part first paragraph becomes unclear without more explanation.

  176. Shalom Spira says:

    Thank you, Dr. Stadlan, for your kind response. Yes, I agree with you that the freestanding head question must necessarily emerge as a paradox for RSZA (and hence RHS/RJDB whose position was salvaged by RSZA), as we discussed in our respective comments on http://torahmusings.com/2011/02/symposium-on-the-ethics-of-brain-death-and-organ-donation-i/comment-page-1/#comments . RSZA would be forced to categorize the freestanding head as a golem.

    Just parenthetically, since our Rosh Yeshiva R. Student raised the name of Prof. Kaplan (to me = Mori ViRebbi R. Kaplan), I would like to affirm unequivocally that I have the greatest of reverence for both Mori ViRebbi R. Kaplan and our Rosh Yeshiva R. Student, both of whose Torah insights always carry formidable weight in any matter of pesak halakhah. Yehi ratzon she’yirbu kemotam bi’Yisrael.

    R’ Ruvie, I neglected to thank you several months back for explaining to me R. Aharon Lichtenstein’s nuanced position on the definition of death. Please accept my hakarat hatov (as somewhat tardy as it is).

  177. chardal says:

    >Regardless of whether R. Breuer was or was not a posek, much of the yeshiva world did not consider him one but instead consider him an academic just like Penkower. You can disagree but at least understand with what you are disagreeing.

    I fully understand their position. I just don’t understand how they can justify to themselves such a complete lack of respect for emes all in the name of respect for authority. It used to be, not too far back in our history that the respect for authority flowed from respect from those who enabled our ability to access emet – the bifurcation of the two as symbolized by your continued contention that R’ Breuer’s opinion – no matter how expert or true – is irrelevant because he is not from “anshei shlomeinu” is itself one of the more disturbing innovations and deviations from tradition of the past century+.

  178. Þanbo says:

    Gil vs Chardal: as usual in arguments, the two sides are talking past one another.

    I think a useful distinction might be that there’s a difference between determining WHAT is the correct text, and determining HOW do we read the text. So we can be certain as certain can be that Zeicher has Five Points (or six, or whatever), but if the Chofetz Chaim changed practice from reading one to reading both, and everyone accepted that, then it was the work and the responsibility of a halachist, not of a textual scholar.

    Determining the correct text is the work of a textual scholar, even if they’re Karaites (as many of the Masoretes seem to have been). But that’s OK, we aren’t looking to them for pesak, which is a good thing, since Karaite pesak is in a whole different universe of discourse from Rabbanite pesak. Kal vachomer R Breuer, who is certainly Fun Unzere.

    But determining religious practice is the work of a rav, a posek. Now, we can argue and say that the CC was technically neither, not musmach and a melaket not a posek. But that doesn’t matter – he has been accepted as a Halachic Authority Figure, by people across the board, and even if not everybody goes by everything the CC says, almost everybody today follows him in this.

    Hence, talking past one another.

  179. chardal says:

    I fully understand the position you describe, but as I point out above, find it highly objectionable. Psak should not be disconnected from reality and emet to the extent you describe above. It frankly turns it into a farce. A statement of the CC, whatever his status is as a posek, is powerful to the extent that it is based on a cogent and defensable view of reality. Any legal system, including halacha, can never afford to divorce itself from reality to the extent you propose.

  180. Rafael Araujo says:

    Here is an interesting point to consider. The CC, in MB, paskens that when a mispallel recites Shiras HaYam, he/she should separate between the words “…k’offeres b’mayim” and “adirim.” This, despite the fact that many Rishonim do not learn this pasuk like this. Is the CC divorced from reality? Or, are we to say, as I once saw argued in the Jewish Observer, and it is a point that I agree with, is that the CC was dealing with Jewish practice and minhag, halochoh l’maaseh, whereas the Rishonim were “saying pshat” in the pasuk, but their intention was to interpret, not to formulate practical halochoh. Would you say that the CC is divorced from reality, since he didn’t take the other views into account? I would say: we are bound by what the CC pronounced because he was dealing with halochoh, not scriptual interpretation.

  181. Rafael Araujo says:

    “He WAS a posek regarding texts.”

    I’m sorry, but there is no such thing. That’s like saying an expert academic in the RAMBAM is a posek regarding the RAMBAM. Texts are not something I can pasken, unless the texts raise an issue of practical import ie. did I fulfill my mitzvoh deoraisa of parashas zachor?

  182. chardal says:

    >I would say: we are bound by what the CC pronounced because he was dealing with halochoh, not scriptual interpretation.

    This is not an issue of interpertation. It is an issue of what is the proper vowelazation of the text and preserved in the Massorah – that is the massoretic text that all Jews follow for all our halachot regarding scripture. The CC can no more create a safek where there is no safek than he can “pasken” that the sky is red or that a pig is really a cow – its simply not in his power. Same here, he has no authority to create a minhag out of whole cloth. He can claim that a minhag should be adopted because of a particular pre-existing halachic concern or becuase of a reality which people were previously unaware of but if that reality simply does not exist – then he has no such authority unless one mindlessly gives it to him.

    >“He WAS a posek regarding texts.”

    >I’m sorry, but there is no such thing. That’s like saying an expert academic in the RAMBAM is a posek regarding the RAMBAM.

    Wrong example. An expert in the Rambam can establish the correct text of the Rambam. So for example, if someone creates an entire vort regarding why the Rambam says that kidushei kesef are deRabannan but a scholar comes along and points out that this is a corruption in the manuscripts and indeed the Rambam never had such an opinion – then he has indeed successfuly undermined the whole basis of the vort. This is our case, perhaps the CC has the authority to say that in case of a safek in the vowelazation in parashat zachor, one should read it both ways – this halachic position (weak though it may be and in and of itself undermining the traditional ways of resolving such issues) is only as strong as the existence of that safek. In this case, the CC was way out of his league regarding massoretic studies and thus invented a safek where none exists.

  183. Rafael Araujo says:

    “In this case, the CC was way out of his league regarding massoretic studies and thus invented a safek where none exists.”

    WADR, I don’t believe that you are in a position to make such pronouncement about the CC. Maybe you should try to be more circumspect in giving your assessments on this issue.

  184. Ruvie says:

    R’ gil -” This was a typology, emphasizing a specific trait and not necessarily someone’s entire worldview. Bsides which, you can follow someone’s general approach without endorsing every specific position he adopted.”
    “On women’s issues, see this post about the three positions in MO: http://torahmusings.com/2010/03/three-approaches-to-womens-issues/

    In the link above on 3 approaches to women’s issue – in the mo world- you adopt the ” status quo” for yourself ( and I assume the rw of mo). Unless there is an emergency no changes ( only small evolutionary ones) should be made to our tradition/ religion. I question how this approach – topology – would work at different times in the past 200 years? Certainly, in r’ emdem’s time his idea to abolish monogamy and reinstitute pilegesh etc may be viewed as an etz lasot ( no status quo for him)?Women’s education originally too? But certainly no majority of poskim. But then again, how could you accept bat mitzvah’s in the 1950s – no etz lasot (1927 first teshuva is assur deoraita). And yet you would have to disagree with the Rav in the 1970s to institute advance gemara for women- certainly no emergency then. So how does a ” status quo” approach become an approach in the mo world using your methodology? It doesn’t seem that this approach was ever part it’s gestalt or in the same parsha.
    (

  185. chardal says:

    >WADR, I don’t believe that you are in a position to make such pronouncement about the CC. Maybe you should try to be more circumspect in giving your assessments on this issue.

    Anybody with a slight familiarity with textual studies is in a position to make such a pronouncement. Just because someone is great in one area of Torah does not mean he is even well aware of the opperating guidelines of other areas. Looking for a textual answer in the CC’s works is sort of like looking in the ktzos for an explanation of the Moreh Nevuchim.

  186. Shalom Spira says:

    Ye’yasher kochakha and thank you, R’ IH. This is a valuable reference, which explains in clear terms how the artificial heart works.

  187. Þanbo says:

    chardal:

    >Psak should not be disconnected from reality and emet to the extent you describe above. It frankly turns it into a farce.

    Yeah, tell that to the conservatives in the “e-readers on shabbos” threads.

  188. chardal says:

    >Yeah, tell that to the conservatives in the “e-readers on shabbos” threads.

    You have to give me more context to understand this statement.

  189. mycroft says:

    “And yet you would have to disagree with the Rav in the 1970s to institute advance gemara for women- certainly no emergency then”

    The Rav by the 40s was teaching advanced Gemara to his daughters.Maimonides always had the same curriculum for boys and girls.

  190. ruvie says:

    mycroft – interesting. can you point to communities that had they same curriculum for boys and girls in cheder or yeshiva (that included gemera)…till what age? lets add the rav’s approval of coed schools too to the list.

  191. Steve Brizel says:

    I haven’t commented on this thread, but the following observations IMO seem warranted:

    1) Are there any studies which would indicate or tend to demonstrate the connection between the adoption of the Harvard criteria by the medical and health care establishments and the dates when brain death was first advocated and adopted as a halachic criteria for death?

    2) There is a definite difference between Poskim and academic experts. If Dr Penkower had presented the same in the sense of a Chiddush, or a shiur, etc, I suspect that the yeshiva world would not automatically defend the conclusion of the MB. After all, one can read much of the CI on Orach Chaim and find many instances where he is highly critical of the MB.

    3) There is a process whereby sefarim are viewed as “acceptable” in the Yeshiva world. For instance, despite reservations of many Gdolim, the Meiri is accepted. The Mossad HaRav Kook and Machon Yerushalayim editions of Rishonim, Acharonim and the SA, as well as the Frankel Rambam are all considered as the means of working with these sefarim. One can find good editions of Gaonic works and such works as Torah Shelemah and the Encyclopedia Talmudis in almost any Beis Medrash worthy of the name. I would also note that one can also find the Otzar Mfarshei Talmud as often in a Beis Medrash as one sees the “Kovetz Mfarshim” which cuts and pastes Rishonim and Acharonim, not always in an artful manner, as well.

    OTOH,I happen to love the works of R Kupperman on Meshech Chachmah and Seforno and his son’s work on the Netziv. Yet, I have heard that the same are not “accepted” in the yeshiva world. I suspect that the same may be true simply because R Kupperman has always marched to his own tune on many issues, with Michlala neither an Ulpana nor a BY. From what I have read, one can certainly find RYBS’s shiurim and drashos in many Charedi yeshivos, and I strongly suspect that the tapes of RYBS’s shiurim and drashos, as well as those of RHS and other RIETS affiliated RY and such professors as R D D Berger and R D S Leiman are downloaded by many Talmidei Chachamim , Bnei and Bnos Torah who never stepped foot in their classrooms.

  192. Steve Brizel says:

    IMO, the latest round of discussion re outlandish anecdotal Minhagim and Chumros, not only ignored many well equally shaky Kulos that are deemed Lchatchilah, as opposed to Bdieved, ignores a simple point-being Machmir or Meikil in a reflexive Pavlovian manner should never be confused with being Mdakdek BMitzvos, or being Machmir, especially when one is dealing with a possible Safek on a Torah level. It may very well be that there are acceptable Kulos in safrus, but would you be comfortable wearing Tefilin , fixing a Mezuzah in your house or reading from a Sefer Torah that did not express a sense of Ahavas HaShem by your willingness to go beyond the letter of the law, as opposed to a sense of being just “yotze zayn” ?

    One can also maintain that Dikduk BMitzvos and trying to be careful for the POVs of all mainstream Poskim is an old, honorable and praisworthy idea.

    One can also find a fascinating definition of Charedim at the end of Elu Metzios-a willingness to go beyond the mere letter of the law, the failure to do so which the Baalei HaTosfos equate with Sinas Chinam as one of the causes of Churban Bayis Sheni.

  193. Steve Brizel says:

    MeMedinat Hayam wrote:

    “the MB may not be for non yeshivish, but we dont (really) always follow the MB. (absent known minhagim, other factors.) neither do we necessarily follow the SA. (i want to publish a book “halachot of SA we dont follow.” it will be banned by every yeshiva, but it will be a best seller.”

    FWIW, RHS mentioned that he first obtained a set of MB after he was already married.

  194. Steve Brizel says:

    I think that I once read an article in which the SR traced his well known and vehemently anti Zionist POV to the vehemence of RJE in opposing Shabbsai Tzvi and anyone who could be remotely viewed as a Sabbatean. Perhaps, that explains why RJE could not view Rambam as the author of MN as well as RJE’s antipathy to philosophical works.

  195. Steve Brizel says:

    Chardal-IIRC, R D Leiman strongly critiqued R Breuer ZL and his approach to Tanach. Given that R Breuer ZL was an expert in the Massoretic tradition, but that his Derech HaLimud was by no means universally accepted, even within MO, I would suggest that contesting the views of the MB on an issue such as Zecher or even on issues of more importance, requires broader shoulders.

  196. aiwac says:

    Steven,

    “There is a definite difference between Poskim and academic experts. If Dr Penkower had presented the same in the sense of a Chiddush, or a shiur, etc, I suspect that the yeshiva world would not automatically defend the conclusion of the MB. After all, one can read much of the CI on Orach Chaim and find many instances where he is highly critical of the MB.”

    50 years ago, maybe. Today, never. The gedolim are infallible, doncha know.

    “Chardal-IIRC, R D Leiman strongly critiqued R Breuer ZL and his approach to Tanach.”

    You’re mixing apples and oranges. R. Breuer’s expertise in Masoretic studies is, IIRC, universally acknowledged. His shitat habehinot was, and is, hotly debated. Dr. Leiman’s article critiqued the latter and said nothing of the former. Surely one can accept R. Breuer as an authority in one area while doubting the second.

    After all, many revere the CI; many still reject his fantastic shi’urim and other uber-chumrot. The same goes for the Brisker, Rav Shach and so on.

  197. Steve Brizel says:

    Aiwac wrote in response:

    “There is a definite difference between Poskim and academic experts. If Dr Penkower had presented the same in the sense of a Chiddush, or a shiur, etc, I suspect that the yeshiva world would not automatically defend the conclusion of the MB. After all, one can read much of the CI on Orach Chaim and find many instances where he is highly critical of the MB.”

    50 years ago, maybe. Today, never. The gedolim are infallible, doncha know”

    In Halachic give and take, one can always see huge differences on many areas. How about RSZA and the CI re why we should not use electric appliances,and the like or RMF and RYBS on Chasunas on Leil Shivah Assar BaTamuz?

  198. Ruvie says:

    Steve b. – “I think that I once read an article in which the SR traced his well known and vehemently anti Zionist POV to the vehemence of RJE in opposing Shabbsai Tzvi and anyone who could be remotely viewed as a Sabbatean. Perhaps, that explains why RJE could not view Rambam as the author of MN as well as RJE’s antipathy to philosophical works.”

    Your statement befuddles me. First of all r’ Emdem was born after the death of Shabbtai Tzvi ( I assume you are referring to the r’ ebeyshutz controversy). What does that have to do with the rambam’s moreh and philosophy? Shabbtai Tzvi was not a philosopher. He was a rabbi and a kabbalist (specifically lurianic Kabbalah).

  199. aiwac says:

    “In Halachic give and take, one can always see huge differences on many areas. How about RSZA and the CI re why we should not use electric appliances,and the like or RMF and RYBS on Chasunas on Leil Shivah Assar BaTamuz?”

    An issue which is entirely minor and irrelevant.

  200. Joseph Kaplan says:

    Shortly after Dr. Penkower’s work on zecher/zeicher came out (full disclosure; he’s my brother-in-law), he asked me to ask a well known Bible scholar who is also a well know ba’al koreh what he thought. I did so and he told me that he thought Jordan was 100% correct. I then asked him how he would layn on the next Shabbat Zachor. He answered: I’ll read it two times; that’s minhag Yisrael and what does being factually correct have to do with minhag.

    And I think that’s the nub of the issue. Of course the CC, and not Jordan, has the authority to tell us what to do in shul. But what the CC doesn’t have the authority to do is tell us a fact that is not true; i.e., a posek can say it doesn’t matter that the word is clearly zeicher we have to read it twice, but he can’t say we don’t know what the word is when we do know what it is. BTW, a word about the academic process. Jordan doesn’t just sit in the Bar Ilan library and write his articles. He travels to libraries throughout the world looking at hundreds (at least) of manuscripts and sifrei Torah before he opines on what the correct text is. I wonder how many sifrei Torah and manuscripts poskim on this issue reviewed. But again, I emphasize, they don’t have to see a single one to tell us, authoritatively, how to read the Torah on Shabbat Zachor. But it is Jordan, and not they, who can tell us, authoritatively, what the correct text is.

  201. Joseph Kaplan says:

    BTW, for whatever it’s worth, in addition to his PhD Jordan has smicha from the Rav.

  202. lawrence.kaplan says:

    Joseph: I am not sure I entirely agree with the well known Bible scholar and Baal Koreh. Of course, he should not change the shul minhag on his own. But we now know that repeating is a recent minhag, and it only became widespered because of the ruling of the MB based on a mistake. Certainly the ritual comittees of MO shuls in conjuction with the shul rabbis might– ought to?– decide to follow the correct practice and only read Zeikher once. Any shul which changes the current practice should, of course, explain to the laity the grounds for doing so. Indeed, Jordan told me that in his shul they decided ot read Zeikher once based on his article

    In general I think that Gil and others draw too sharp a line between academic articles and pesak halakhah. It isn’t always so black and white, one and not the other. There is a gray area.

    By the same token, can one always distinguish between Hiddiushei Torah and academic scholarship? For example. Rav Lichtenstein, no great lover of academic Jewish Studies, has often praised and reommended Prof. Blidtein’s books on the Rambam. In what camp do they fall?

  203. Steve Brizel says:

    Can someone provide a PDF link to Dr Penkower’s article?

  204. Steve Brizel says:

    It is interesting to note that so much ink here and eleswhere has been spilled on the proper pronounciation of one word in Parshas Zachor which is a Chiyuv and Kiyum Min HaTorah on one day, unless one has the intention to fulfill the same on Parshas Ki Setze, and that we go out of our way to have multiple leinings of Parshas Zachor. However, if one looks at Hilcos Krias Shema, which involved a Chiyuv Min HaTorah on a daily basis, I would suggest that many of us, myself included, who have to daven at an early minyan, probably do not pronounce and puctuate every word properly. Halevai that we spent as much ink and time on Hilcos Krias Shema as on one word in Parshas Zachor.

  205. Steve Brizel says:

    Joseph Kaplan wrote:

    “And I think that’s the nub of the issue. Of course the CC, and not Jordan, has the authority to tell us what to do in shul. But what the CC doesn’t have the authority to do is tell us a fact that is not true; i.e., a posek can say it doesn’t matter that the word is clearly zeicher we have to read it twice, but he can’t say we don’t know what the word is when we do know what it is. BTW, a word about the academic process. Jordan doesn’t just sit in the Bar Ilan library and write his articles. He travels to libraries throughout the world looking at hundreds (at least) of manuscripts and sifrei Torah before he opines on what the correct text is. I wonder how many sifrei Torah and manuscripts poskim on this issue reviewed. But again, I emphasize, they don’t have to see a single one to tell us, authoritatively, how to read the Torah on Shabbat Zachor”

    Perhaps, the issue is not dependent at all on the proper text in a Sefer Torah, or access to the same in museums,or whether Poskim visit or should visit museums. If one reads the MB carefully, without any sources in the Shaar HaTziun where RHS points out that the CC places many of his chiddushim or elaboration in the Biur Halacha, the MB merely states that different communities had different minhagim, and that one should repeat one word to accomodate both minhagim. There is not a word therein as to the purportedly proper or improper text of a Sefer Torah.

    ( FWIW, RSZA’s view is quoted in Shalmei Moed, quoting Vlaeu Lo Yavol at page 338, that one should only read the words “Timcheh Es Zecer Amalek”, as opposed to either just the word “Zecher”, or the entire verse. See R Harari’s Mikraei Kodesh Hilcos Purim where he quotes R M Breuer ZL, as cited earlier in this thread with approval and Piskei Teshuvah who quotes R Sternbuch and other Poskim who discuss whether Zecher with a Tzere or Segul is the correct pronounciation. )

    If one assumes that each tradition was equally valid, then the issue revolves around the validity of a communal tradition in the pronounciation of a word in a Sefer Torah versus what is the text in a Sefer Torah in a museum.If one assumes as does the Talmud, Ain Anu Bkeim BChaseros uVYoseros, then the issue is reconciling both traditions in a way that one is Yotzei JKol HaShitos-a well known idea in Psak Halacha, especially if the issue is at least a possible Safek on a Din Min HaTorah.

    For those interested, listen to RYBS’s shiurim on Sefer HeMitzvos and Gerus, as to why historical evidence would not have any impact on the aforementioned statement of the Talmud. See also the discussion and debate in Tradition re the CI’s view ( as well as that of RMF) on manuscripts and similar evidence, that may be important from a historical POV, but which were simply unknown and not vetted via the Mesorah.

    I note the reference to a “ritual committee.” WADR, would not Minhagei Beis HaKnesses more properly be the province of a LOR and whichever Baal HaMesorah he consults with on such issues?

  206. Steve Brizel says:

    Ben Elton wrote in PART:

    “That position is famously to be found in the Rosh at the beginning of Hilkhot Mikvaot and is adopted by the Talmudic Encyclopedia”

    Please provide a link to the above cited statement of the Rosh. IIRC, the ET has a very long entry on Halacha LMoshe MiSinai. Are you positive that the ET adopts the Rosh’s view to the exclusion of all other views stated by the ET?

  207. Steve Brizel says:

    Ben Elon-Your reference to the Rosh IMO is not the definition offered by the ET, which cites many sources other than the Rosh as the definition of the same, at the beginning of that entry. See ET, volume 9, Halacha LMoshe MiSinai, S.v. Gidrah. WADR, the Rosh is cited in the ET therein as stating that at times the term Halacha LMoshe MiSinai does not mean a Halacha LMOshe MiSinai in the literal sense of the term. The ET notes immediately after citing the Rosh that other Rishonim, notably Rambam in the Introduction to the Commentary to the Mishnah, and RaSh on Yadayim quoting a Tosefta in the second Perek of Yadayim as well as the Ridvaz on Hilcos Trumos 1:6, assume that wherever the term Halacha LMoshe MiSinai is used, it is used with the full meaning of the term.

  208. chardal says:

    >If one reads the MB carefully, without any sources in the Shaar HaTziun where RHS points out that the CC places many of his chiddushim or elaboration in the Biur Halacha, the MB merely states that different communities had different minhagim, and that one should repeat one word to accomodate both minhagim. There is not a word therein as to the purportedly proper or improper text of a Sefer Torah.

    Of course he does, here are his words:

    דע, דיש אומרים שצריך לקרות זכר עמלק בצירי, ויש אומרים שצריך לקרות זכר עמלק בסגול, ועל כן מהנכון שהקורא יקרא שניהם, לצאת י”ש

    It is an argument regarding the correct reading which is a massoretic question. The CC, who was not a massoretic scholar, read Maaseh Rav on the minhagim of the Gr”a and saw that there were different testimonies as to how he read the parsha so the CC “solved” this supposed massoretic issue my having people read it twice.

    >If one assumes that each tradition was equally valid, then the issue revolves around the validity of a communal tradition in the pronounciation of a word in a Sefer Torah

    There are no multiple traditions. These “traditions” were manufactured by people deciding to listen to the MB on something that should never been an issue to begin with.

    The correft reading was always with 5 dots – and the kind of ignorance that is exhibited in your posts is exactly why the MB’s psak is not harmless as Gil suggested above. It perpetuates ignorance of core areas of study in our Torah.

  209. lawrence.kaplan says:

    Steve: WADR, I specifically said “the ritual committee in conjuction the shul rabbi,” i.e. LOR as you put it. I don’t know what you want from me.

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