Derashos HaRan

Sages Over Prophets

by R. Gidon Rothstein Drasha 12, part 2 The Talmudic sage Amemar makes a daring comment in Baba Batra 12a that Ran struggles to explain. Scholars, Amemar states, are greater than prophets. Ran explains that prophets have one power only, to communicate what they were told; we’re obliged to listen, even if that command temporarily contravenes Torah law, other than ...

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Three Types of Rabbinic Authority

by R. Gidon Rothstein Drasha 12, part 1 What gives rabbis, or even the Gemara, authority in halachic issues? In this drasha, Ran reviews the sources of rabbinic authority, whom he had set up as the source of ultimate justice, and his view of why the Gemara isn’t open to later disagreement. Preventing Divisive Controversy Prior essays in this series ...

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It’s Important to Be Insecure

by R. Gidon Rothstein Drasha 11, part 3 Ran’s view of batei din, halachic courts, turned them into an institution whose work could have been performed by a prophet. Since, in his view, courts articulate ultimate justice, he wonders why Hashem didn’t leave that to prophets, who could tell us Hashem’s will exactly. They’re Not Steady, They’re Sources of Faith ...

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Courts Aren’t To Keep Society Running

by R. Gidon Rothstein Drasha 11, part 1 Most of us think the purpose of courts is to adjudicate citizens’ disputes and punish evildoers. Devarim 16:18 tells us to appoint people who will judge משפט צדק, righteous judgment. Ran points out that the next verse prohibits perverting justice, so “righteous judgment” must mean something else. For Rashi, it’s selecting judges ...

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