Drinking Wine During the Nine Days and the Authority of the Shulchan Aruch

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Guest post by Rabbi Aryeh Leibowitz

The Shulchan Aruch records a tradition to refrain from drinking wine during the period of the nine days leading up to Tishah be-Av. In a recent lecture delivered in Teaneck, Prof. Daniel Sperber argued that the entire passage in the Shulchan Aruch is based on a faulty interpretation of a passage in the Talmud Yerushalmi (Sperber’s full analysis of this issue appears in his monumental work, Minhagei Yisrael).In light of this supposed error, Sperber concluded publicly that the Shulchan Aruch’s ruling can be considered a מנהג טעות, although Sperber added that it is advisable to observe this specific מנהג טעות as a mean of identifying with the mournful nature of the time period.

What was the supposed erroneous basis for the ruling in the Shulchan Aruch? A passage in the Yerushalmi in tractates Pesachim and Ta’anit reports the custom of certain women to refrain from certain activity (למשתייא) from Rosh Chodesh Av until the fast of the 9th. Sperber demonstrated that the Shulchan Aruch understood the Yerushalmi to be reporting that these women refrained from drinking wine during this time period, and based on this understanding the Shulchan Aruch codified his ruling. However, Sperber pointed out that the word למשתייא in Palestinian Aramaic means “to weave,” not “to drink,” which would be למשתי. Moreover, he noted that if the custom was to refrain from drinking, it is not clear why this custom would be specifically attributed to women, and not men.

Therefore, Sperber quoted the view of an early North African Talmudist, R. Nisim Gaon, quoted in Or Zarua, who maintained that the custom reported in the Talmud was to refrain from weaving. This understanding explains both the language למשתייא as well as the attribution of this custom to women specifically. The above discussion led Sperber to conclude, quite matter-of-factly, that the Shulchan Aruch’s recording of a tradition not to eat meat or drink wine was faulty and based on a string of errors.

This conclusion is startling for a number of reasons. First and foremost, Sperber failed to articulate clearly that the different explanations of the original custom was due to two separate versions, girsaot, of the Yerushalmi passage. The alternate girsa actually reads, “to drink wine” (למשתי חמרא). In fact, this alternate girsa even predated R. Nisim, and was quoted by no less of an authority than R. Hai Gaon, an older contemporary of R. Nisim.

That an alternate girsa existed is apparent in many Rishonim. Take for example, Machzor Vitri (#263), which states explicitly that the girsa of the Yerushalmi reads, “to drink wine.” The same is true with Ravyah’s recording of this custom (#882). In fact, R. Nisim’s reading was in the minority (Although it is the text in printed editions and in the Leiden manuscript), as most of the major Rishonim had the girsa that reads, “to drink.” This includes significant Rishonim from a wide spectrum of halakhic cultures. From the Baylonian Gaon, R. Hai, to the Spanish codifier, Rambam, to the Ashkenazic codifier, Tur, who records both girsaot, to the Catalonian Talmudist, Ramban, all of the major medieval Talmudists ruled in accordance with the girsa that states “to drink wine.”

Additionally, R. Yosef Karo, author of the Shulchan Aruch, was himself aware of the variant girsaot of the Yerushalmi passage. In the Shulchan Aruch, both the custom to refrain from drinking wine, and to refrain from weaving are codified. The commentators on the Shulchan Aruch note that both customs appear in the Shulchan Aruch due to the fact that the Rishonim quote two different versions of the Yerushalmi text. See, most notably the Be’er ha-Golah, who refers to the version that reads “למשתייא” as a variant text of “some” of the Rishonim (see also Biur ha-Gra). Apparently, R. Karo who was aware of both girsaot, didn’t feel confident enough to conclude that the girsa of the majority of Rishonim was in error. Why then was Prof. Sperber so confident?

Conclusion: The opening question of Sperber’s lecture—what is to be done when the Shulchan Aruch contains a ruling that is based on a mistake?— is not relevant to the issue at hand. The Shulchan Aruch’s quoting of the custom to not drink wine was not based on a mistake. Rather, it was due to two different girsaot in the Yerushalmi. Whereas most Rishonim ruled in accordance with the view that the recorded custom was to refrain from drinking wine, there was a minority view that the recorded custom was to refrain from weaving.

Instead of arguing that the Shulchan Aruch was in error for quoting the view of the overwhelming majority of Rishonim, the opposite could have been argued: Even though the girsa of R. Nisim was only represented in a very small amount of sources, the Shulchan Aruch still included it because of the strengths mentioned by Sperber (such as the fact that the woman were specifically singled out).

In the end, it is appropriate to note that the custom to not drink wine during this period was observed by the Rishonim, and was accepted by the Jewish nation for centuries before the Shulchan Aruch. The very Or Zarua, who quoted the girsa of R. Nisim, rules (2:414 and 415) that one must not violate this important custom. Also the Rashba, in his responsa (1:306, qtd. in Beit Yosef 551:11), has very sharp words to say about one who violates this custom. It is appropriate to end with a quotation from the Aruch Ha-Shulchan (O”C 551:23) who writes that a Biblical prohibition is violated by one who drinks wine during this period:

Hundreds of years ago, our forefathers accepted upon themselves not to eat meat or drink wine from Rosh Chodesh Av until after Tishah be-Av…Nowadays, in our many sins, many people are mezalzel this prohibition. Besides the fact that they are in violation of a Biblical prohibition of neder, for our forefathers accepted this custom upon themselves and it is therefore a neder of klal Yisrael… Their punishment is very great.

As a final note, I would add that the tone of Sperber’s entire presentation was troubling to this listener. What type of message is appropriate for a Shabbat afternoon shiur in a community shul? The material was fascinating and the potential for a positive educational learning experience was ripe. Sperber could have engaged the sources, and used this example to demonstrate the nature of transmission, as seen through the different traditions of the Yerushalmi text. Instead the event contained a tone that likely undermined the authority of the Shulchan Aruch in the eyes of some of the listeners. Indeed, the smirks, and occasional laughs from the audience that accompanied Sperber’s declarations that the Shulchan Aruch erred, and that the “passage in the Shulchan Aruch is based on a faulty interpretation,” were reflective of this lost opportunity.*


* A note regarding censorship. My words here should not be misunderstood as a militant call to “hide the truth from the masses.” When the truth is apparent, we need to reverently address it. However, because in this case it is far from apparent where the truth lies, it appears to me that a bit more prudence and respect could have been exercised.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Editor of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student has served two terms on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and currently serves as the Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

32 comments

  1. Jerry 07/04/2010 10:51 PM
    All of the Talmudists whom Rabbi Leibowitz cites (including the Tur, the son of the Rosh – not your typical Ashkenazic authority to say the least, so that was a little misleading…) could conceivably have simply based their “alternate girsa” on the same tradition from R. Hai Gaon. There is nothing in any of the sources that Rabbi Leibowitz quotes to indicate that they actually possessed a different text. They may simply have been working with the tradition of R. Hai. The issue then becomes, did R. Hai possess an erroneous interpretation of the text (as Rabbi Sperber must contend) or was it a bona fide alternate version. Rabbi Leibowitz’s presentation would have the reader believe that this is simply a matter of conflicting texts, when in reality it may also be (and likely is) an issue of a single text, and an errant tradition based on a misreading of the text (at the Geonic level, rather than the level of the late Rishonim).

    Again, I don’t dismiss Rabbi Leibowitz’s presentation entirely, but I do find it somewhat chutzpadik for him to present a very speculative reading of the sources as the basis for a criticism of the tone of voice of a major talmid chacham.

    I’ve been critical on this very blog of the tone of voice of a major talmidei chacham, and I was quite rightly corrected by Gil. The same standard should apply here.

    llennhoff 07/04/2010 11:13 PM
    I thought that the Separdic custom was to not eat meat or drink wine during the week of Tisha b’av only, rather than for the full 9 days. Is that not correct?

    guest 07/04/2010 11:22 PM
    Gil – can you add a biographical line about Rabbi Leibowitz. The article is fascinating and sure to generate some spirited discussion. I was wondering if we can know who Rabbi Leibowitz is. Thanks.

    Shimon S 07/04/2010 11:23 PM in reply to Jerry
    “Rabbi Leibowitz’s presentation would have the reader believe that this is simply a matter of conflicting texts, when in reality it may also be (and likely is) an issue of a single text, and an errant tradition based on a misreading of the text (at the Geonic level, rather than the level of the late Rishonim).”

    I’m afraid I don’t understand what are you trying to say. Are conflicting texts and errant traditions mutually exclusive?

    Mike 07/04/2010 11:35 PM
    1 person liked this.
    IIRC in the article R’ Sperber makes the case that the original girsa is the one about weaving, as opposed to drinking wine. So it’s not like he’s unaware that the Rishonim were themselves aware that there were two girsaos, just that he thinks that he can show that one of the girsaos is the correct one.

    Menachem Butler 07/05/2010 12:51 AM
    Prof. Sperber has been peddling this shtickel for the past two decades, since it first appeared in print in Minhagei Yisrael.

    Jerry 07/05/2010 12:55 AM in reply to Mike
    Yes. This should be obvious to anyone who has perused Minhagei Yisrael. See Menachem Butler’s comment.

    Jerry 07/05/2010 01:05 AM in reply to Shimon S
    Not always, but sometimes. In some cases you have two texts and it is unclear which is the more reliable, or which is the original. In these cases one often sees Rishonim quoting both texts and trying to hash out the implications of both (and usually picking one version – although interestingly this is almost never done on the basis of which girsa is more “authoritative” or “vetted,” as Steve Brizel, for example, has intimated on previous threads should be the case. It is usually done mi’svara).

    But sometimes one can show (to differing degrees of conclusiveness) that really everyone had one text. The other “version” was not a separate copy of the work that contained a different girsa, but simply the comments of an earlier authority which (for any number of reasons – I try to opt for reverent explanations whenever possible) were responsible for altering the original text. In light of these comments, some mefarshim may assume that an alternate girsa exists, when, in fact, they do not have a copy of such in front of them, and when such may not technically have been the case. There is nothing wrong with this approach, but one should be aware – from a methodological standpoint – that it exists.

    JLK 07/05/2010 01:19 AM
    According to a quick search of his name, Rabbi Aryeh Leibowitz of Teaneck, NJ is a Kollel Fellow and Teacher at Yeshivat Shaalavim in Shaalvim, Israel. He is NOT the same as Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz of Woodmere (http://www.bknw.org/our-rabbi.php).

    For Rabbi Aryeh Leibowitz’ earlier publications, see
    http://www.targum.com/excerpts/hashgachah_prati

    http://www.traditiononline.org/news/article.cfm

    http://www.traditiononline.org/news/article.cfm

    moshe shoshan 07/05/2010 01:31 AM
    Where is this in minhagei yisrael? i dont see it in the index

    Nachum 07/05/2010 02:21 AM
    The question of why it’s limited to women remains, though. For that reason, “weaving” may be better.

    Another question that may help us is, what year did Jews stop speaking Aramaic? Did R’ Hai Gaon speak Aramaic or Arabic? And thus the error, if it is one, would simply carry down the years, since only Kurdish Jews speak Aramaic today, and for many years it’s been that way.

    That we don’t pasken like the Shulchan Aruch is no big chiddush- I remember Marc Shapiro was writing a whole book of examples of where we don’t. (Among other things, that’s why we have nosei kelim.) This is true of Ashkenazim and Sepharadim (as stated above, particularly about the Nine Days), and certainly true of Teimanim who, as always, demolish another line beginning “All Orthodox Jews…” (“…follow the Shulchan Aruch” or “…have the same Torah text”, etc.).

    My favorite example is the order of books in Tanach, which is identical in the Gemara, Rambam, Tur, and Shulchan Aruch and has simply never been followed apart, perhaps, from a few early manuscripts.

    The more “troubling” question, then, is going back to the manner in which the Shulchan Aruch was written (this is where those long-neglected introductions come in handy) and questioning halakhic practice based on that. I guess at a certain point you have to say things are settled, although, as it happens, they aren’t really. I leave that to those more learned than I.

    Shlomo 07/05/2010 03:20 AM
    “Prof. Daniel Sperber argued that the entire passage in the Shulchan Aruch is based on a faulty interpretation of a passage in the Talmud Yerushalmi … In light of this supposed error, Sperber concluded publicly that the Shulchan Aruch’s ruling can be considered a מנהג טעות,”

    The impression I got from the intro of Minhagei Yisrael was that a minhag can only be considered “a minhag taut” if on some level it contradicts established halacha. Just having a non-compelling source is not enough for this categorization.

    Is this understanding correc?

    Michael 07/05/2010 03:49 AM
    Even if the Shulchan Aruch was based on an error (or even a Scribal Error), once something has been established as Minhag Yisrael, do we have the authority to break it.

    For example, many Sfardim are careful not to eat Cheese and Fishm this seems to be clearly based on a scribar erro (Taut Sofrim), but in the communities where this minhag is established, should they have the right to just change the minhag?

    Chaim 07/05/2010 06:29 AM
    Some people seem to be fixated with the term “Orthodox.” This term is gradually losing its relevance as frumkeit no longer has spiritual enemies (other than assimilation) which need to be defended against. As the siege mentality fades frum Jews will not feel the need to judge whether someone like Prof. Sperber is Orthodox. Those who engage in such specualtions are being childish.

    moshe shoshan 07/05/2010 07:13 AM in reply to Michael
    As far as I understand there are sephardi poskim who hold that there is no reason not to eat fish and cheese.

    joelrich 07/05/2010 07:31 AM in reply to JLK
    I would have thought that the writer was an academic given his use of the title prof. sperber and then only R’ Sperber’s last name.

    KT

    jadedtopaz 07/05/2010 08:15 AM
    R Leibowitz,

    “This includes significant Rishonim from a wide spectrum of halakhic cultures. From the Baylonian Gaon, R. Hai, to the Spanish codifier, Rambam, to the Ashkenazic codifier, Tur, who records both girsaot, to the Catalonian Talmudist, Ramban,”

    You consider this a “wide spectrum of halakhic cultures” ?

    Also, you suggested ;
    “See, most notably the Be’er ha-Golah, who refers to the version that reads “למשתייא” as a variant text of “some” of the Rishonim (see also Biur ha-Gra).”

    How did the GRA understand that passage and which version of the Jerusalem Talmud was he in favor of.

    Lastly, so since the women were on a “higher spiritual level” than men, they didn’t have to weave and or drink wine on both rosh chodesh and for nine days. ( is weaving supposed to make one happy, i thought it was knitting and baking ?)

    Did the men also refrain from weaving.
    Can women knit or weave if it doesn’t make them happy.

    One more point
    “The Shulchan Aruch’s quoting of the custom to not drink wine was not based on a mistake. Rather, it was due to two different girsaot in the Yerushalmi. Whereas most Rishonim ruled in accordance with the view that the recorded custom was to refrain from drinking wine, there was a minority view that the recorded custom was to refrain from weaving.”

    Perhaps the shulchan aruch is quoting the wrong talmudic passages .

    I’m curious what the GRA has to say on this.

    Jerry 07/05/2010 08:17 AM in reply to joelrich
    Good point. Given the author’s decision to lecture Rabbi Sperber on the importance of reverence for rabbinic sources, one would have thought he would have decided against referring to him as “Sperber.”

    Steg (dos iz nit der Å¡teg) 07/05/2010 08:49 AM in reply to Chaim
    Seems to me like the term is becoming more important, as various people keep trying to kick others out of the “club” more and more often today.

    Isaac Balbin 07/05/2010 08:58 AM
    Pardon my ignorance, but as I understand it the minhag relates to אבילות. As such, was there a recorded minhag to not weave during any period of aveilus apart from Shiva? We know that אין שמחה אלא בבשר ויין so can readily understand meat and wine being proscribed. Does weaving bring שמחה to women or is it something that takes one’s mind off אבילות? If the latter, one wonders why either other things were also not forbidden OR why new things aren’t forbidden today for the same reason? Surely our mimetic tradition is not relegated to deciding (typically) variant גירסאות of the ירושלמי?
    If there is a ברית מילה or someone has a סיום do we find a tradition of women being allowed to weave. You’d think those who followed only one גירסא would say as much?

    I have to say, that I would have found such a talk more acceptable if it was an investigation into a seemingly curious מנהג as opposed to a determination that it’s a mistake that we keep post facto because we already accepted it upon ourselves.

    I wonder if R’ Shimon Leibowitz is the same person that was learning in כרם ביבנה when I was there many moons ago?

    guest 07/05/2010 09:41 AM in reply to Isaac Balbin
    probably not – both because this author’s first name is not Shimon, but Aryeh. Also, because he learned in Shaalvim, not KBY. There are lots of Leibowitz’s out there (there are even several Aryeh Leibowitz’s out there)

    Steve Brizel 07/05/2010 09:43 AM
    For those interested, see R D Sperber’s articles in Tradition re “The Freezing of Halacha”, .R K Auman’s response and R D Sperber’s article in “Modern Scholarship in the Study of Torah.”

    jadedtopaz 07/05/2010 11:25 AM
    R Leibowitz,

    you suggested
    “First and foremost, Sperber failed to articulate clearly that the different explanations of the original custom was due to two separate versions, girsaot, of the Yerushalmi passage. The alternate girsa actually reads, “to drink wine” (למשתי חמרא). In fact, this alternate girsa even predated R. Nisim, and was quoted by no less of an authority than R. Hai Gaon, an older contemporary of R. Nisim.”

    I just had six super quick additional questions on this vague passage of yours ;
    Are u saying that there are two different versions of the same precise Jerusalem Talmud passage(s) ?
    Are all the Rishonim that are quoting the drinking version using the same Jerusalem Talmud passage(s).
    What did the Gra say.
    When quoting this “alternate girsa”, what precisely did R Hai Gaon say.
    Did he provide footnotes, endnotes and or exhibits.
    Was R Hai Gaon originally quoting from the Jerusalem Talmud?
    Did he generally quote the Jerusalem Talmud when rendering halachic opinions.

    I think your conclusionary opinion should include all of the “discovery documents” , including all communication between your (narrow) “wide spectrum of halachic culture” sages you quote and the extensive “exhibits” with the precise quotes and the documentation each and every rishon used and which particular talmudic passages they were quoting from.

    many thanks in advance and don’t forget to expound on that GRA reference of yours .

    S. 07/05/2010 11:30 AM
    >* A note regarding censorship. My words here should not be misunderstood as a militant call to “hide the truth from the masses.”

    So it’s a soft call?

    The reaction he witnessed, assuming it was of the nature he described, may well be the counter-reaction to the over-the-topness of the way sources are venerated without regard to historical or logical soundness, etc. In other words, he may have witnessed the provoked reaction of adults used to being treated like children. More hagiography prompts the reaction that it’s all hagiography.

    Shimon S 07/05/2010 11:56 AM
    Note to R’ Leibowitz:

    We readers are lazy (not all of us, of course). When you bring a Yerushalmi, please quote the masechta, perek and halacha (or daf and amud). Even better: also copy and paste the sugya in question.

    If you bring an author, quote the name of the work, volume and page numbers.

    Thanks.

    Steve Brizel 07/05/2010 12:20 PM
    Could R Leibowitz address the issue of whether the scribal errror advocated by R D Sperber appears in the latest editions of the SA?

    Richard Kahn 07/05/2010 12:26 PM
    Question for Rabbi Leibowitz: What should we do when it turns out that the Shulchan Aruch and common minhag/halacha is based on a scribal error?

    Steve Brizel 07/05/2010 12:28 PM in reply to moshe shoshan
    See Minhagei Yisrael; Volume 1, Pages 138-146.

    Nachum 07/05/2010 12:30 PM
    Steve, it’s not a scribal error in the SA, it’s the Mechaber misreading a source.

    Menachem Butler 07/05/2010 12:34 PM
    The text in question appears in Daniel Sperber, Minhagei Yisrael, vol. 1 (Jerusalem: Mosad ha-Rav Kook, 1989; Hebrew), 138-146, and also appears in Daniel Sperber, “Prohibition of Eating Meat and Drinking Wine During the Three Weeks,” Why Jews Do What They Do: The History of Jewish Customs throughout the Cycle of the Jewish Year, trans. Yaakov Elman (Hoboken, NJ: Ktav Publishing House, 1999), 128-140.

    Steve, I believe that you mean “Paralysis in Contemporary Halakha?” (and not “The Freezing of Halacha”), available here (http://www.traditiononline.org/news/article.cfm…). In terms of his article that you mention — Daniel Sperber, “On the Legitimacy of Scientific Disciplines for True ‘Learning’ of the Talmud,” in Shalom Carmy, ed., Modern Scholarship in the Study of Torah (Jason Aronson Press: Northvale, 1996), it was expanded and published in a monograph entitled by Daniel Sperber, Legitimacy and Necessity: Scientific Disciplines and the Learning of Talmud (Jerusalem: Beit Morasha of Jerusalem, 2006) and then expanded and translated in Daniel Sperber, Netivot Pesikah (Jerusalem: Rubin Mass, 2008; Hebrew).

    moshe shoshan 07/05/2010 12:38 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    Thanks alot,

    Moshe

    Steve Brizel 07/05/2010 12:45 PM in reply to Menachem Butler
    I saw R D Sperber’s articles in the above sources. I would appreciate anyone posting a copy of R K Auman’s response., which IIRC, was in the form of a letter to the editor to Tradition.

    Steve Brizel 07/05/2010 12:47 PM in reply to Nachum
    Did not R Leibowitz present the issue as to the correct Girsa as recorded by the Gaonim and Rishonim, as opposed to the Mchaber misreading a source?

    B.F. 07/05/2010 12:47 PM
    I did not hear the lecture, but assuming the content was as reported by Rabbi Leibowitz, I’m confused. Did Prof. Sperber add anything? Any previously unknown points? As reported it seems that there are two variant readings in the Yerushalmi as cited by the Rishonim. Eac one is favored by diferrent poskimBeis Yosef, fully aware of these two readings rules in accordance with both of them. Prof. Sperber happens to favor one reading for the same reason others favored it, and now that his name has been attached to one side of the debate the scale has tipped and the Shulchan Aruch’s decision is an error. What did the Prof. contribute other than agreeing with one side? Am i missing something?

    Scott 07/05/2010 01:04 PM in reply to Isaac Balbin
    “We know that אין שמחה אלא בבשר ויין so can readily understand meat and wine being proscribed.”

    Except that mourners are permitted to eat meat and drink wine.

    Further, there’s nothing about eating meat in the Yerushalmi under either girsa.

    “If there is a ברית מילה or someone has a סיום do we find a tradition of women being allowed to weave.”

    Meat and wine are permitted in those cases as part of the se’udat mitzvah, which requires meat and wine. It doesn’t require weaving.

    Guest 07/05/2010 02:09 PM
    I think BF has hit on the main point of R. Leibowitz. This is an old issue. The Shulchan Aruch was aware of both girsas and didnt disregard one as an error. R. Sperber does not contain any more information than R Karo did, yet he allegedly slighted the SA.

    moshe shoshan 07/05/2010 02:23 PM
    I took a quick look at the article in MY. It seems to me that there are two seperate issues at stake.

    The first is the question of the original reading of the Yerushalmi. R. Sperber is not quite arguing that one girsa is right and the other “wrong”. Rather he argues that even the girsa that says “chamar” should be read not as “wine”, but as a variant spelling/pronounciation of “amar” meaning wool. This was misunderstood in bavel to mean wine. This is quite different for the argument that R. Liebowitz presents in R. Sperber’s name. I furthermore dont see how R. Leibowitz citations of Rishonim in anyway undermine R. Sperbers arguments, which are based on the work by none other than Prof. Lieberman himself. If R. Leibowitz want to challenge Prof. Sperber on his own terms, he should engage the technicalities of his his careful philological argument. What R. Leibowitz has done is the equivalent of attacking the Rav by quoting a few achronim but never actuall arguing on his lomdus.

    The second issue thatR. Leibowitz raises is that he reports that on this basis RDS argues the our practice of refraining from wine is a minhag taut. I agree that this is a puzzling if not troubling claim. However, in MY, R. Sperber never makes this claim.

    Given the important discrepancies between what RDS wrote in MY and his alleged statements in Teaneck, I think it is legitmate to ask is there is anyway of confirming what R. Sperber said, through a transcript, recording or a reliable, unbiased witness.

    If RDS did in fact claim that this is a minhag taut, it think that before attacking him, it would be important to read what RDS has written on the concept of minhag taut.

    Finally, I think R. Liebowitz owes it to RDS to contact him and discuss his issues. RDS does not use e-mail, but i hear that he responds quickly to faxes.

    Jerry 07/05/2010 05:31 PM in reply to moshe shoshan
    I think Moshe Shoshan is being to nice. It’s not as if Rabbi Leibowitz understood Rabbi Sperber’s argument and seemingly failed to address parts of it. I suspect that Rabbi Leibowitz didn’t check Minhagei Yisrael (even though he seems aware that the argument originally appears there). If he had, he would have noticed that the issue that Moshe Shoshan raises is not simply a prat in Rabbi Sperber’s argument, but the very title of the essay: “B’Inyan Issur Achilas Basar U’Shesiyas Yayyin B’Bein HaMetzarim’ v’AMR-HMR.”

    Some other points:

    1) Rabbi Leibowitz does not address Rabbi Sperber’s argument that “it is clear beyond all doubt that this custom was not kept [did not exist?] in the Tannaitic and Amoraic eras” (my rough translation) – Rabbi Sperber cites a number of sources where it is clear that people ate meat and drank wine during this time of year (even on Erev Tisha B’Av).

    2) Rabbi Sperber argues on stylistic grounds that the phrase “Lo l’mishta chamra v’lo l’mechal bisra” looks as if the latter clause was tacked on (to account for the strangeness, in light of the mistaken reading of “wine” instead of “weaving,” of there only being a prohibition on wine but not meat). His argument is that in every other place that these two items appear as a unit, meat always appears before wine. He then cites the case of reciting Ashrei “b’chol yom gimmel pe’amim” as another case where the mistaken order tipped off a major talmid chacham that the latter clause was tacked on.

    3) All of the people that Rabbi Leibowitz cites as quoting the “alternate girsa” (in addition to many others) have already been quoted and noted by either Rabbi Sperber or Professor Lieberman, upon whom he relies (Yerushalmi Kifshuto: 430-431).

    4) I still cannot get over Rabbi Leibowitz’s absurd claim that “First and foremost, Sperber failed to articulate clearly that the different explanations of the original custom was due to two separate versions, girsaot, of the Yerushalmi passage.” Maybe he says this because this was true of the shiur that Rabbi Sperber gave in Teaneck, but if he been responsible, and taken the three seconds it took me to look up the original source (and if he has access to any decent library, it would have taken him a day at the most), he would have seen that Rabbi Sperber BEGINS HIS ESSAY by stating that the girsa amongst most Rishonim – drawn from R. Hai Gaon (and he quotes the Machzor Vitri as well) – is “to drink wine” (although he notes that even the Rishonim who quote this version of the ruling don’t all agree on the same text!).

    5) Rabbi Leibowitz states with authority “In fact, this alternate girsa even predated R. Nisim, and was quoted by no less of an authority than R. Hai Gaon, an older contemporary of R. Nisim.” Little does he realize that Rabbi Sperber himself writes (Minhagei Yisrael, vol. 1, p. 143) that this minhag – based on a Eretz-Yisraeli linguistic imprecision (explicitly attested to in the literature of Chazal), and subsequent scribal misunderstanding – likely dates to the Geonic period.

    6) Rabbi Leibowitz doesn’t even pretend to engage the various other arguments presented by Rabbi Sperber in his piece – ‘ayyen sham.

    It seems VERY clear from Rabbi Sperber’s presentation in MY (and I suspect that this was true in his lecture in Teaneck as well, although, like Moshe Shoshan, I am willing to give Rabbi Leibowitz the benefit of the doubt and wait for a transcript of the lecture, or something like that), that Rabbi Sperber does not make any specific claim about the Mechaber, except to say that he – like many, many others – relied for a ruling on a text that is likely in error. But he doesn’t claim that this was an error perpetrated specifically by the Mechaber. The error is much, much older than that.

    All in all, this post by Rabbi Leibowitz is extremely troubling.

    Jerry 07/05/2010 05:31 PM in reply to Jerry
    And by “to nice,” I of course mean “too nice”… Oops.

    ruvie 07/05/2010 06:20 PM in reply to Shlomo
    according to rds – in minhagai yisrael – – he quotes the rivash (on minhag taut) in minhagim that allow things that are assur (assuming no machloket) as well as minhagim assur-ing things that are permissable….examples given by other rishonim – kaparot on erev yom kippur (rashba)
    interseting that he quotes the maharshal – on the custom of women not eating meat meat for 3 weeks and continuing to shabbat nachamu…maharshal calls it a minhag ra and the” minhag nitpashet al yidai shtoot.”

    also, in rds – why jews do what they do – on meat and wine in the three weeks (why did r’ leibowitz leave out the meat?) “..though we have found that this cutom originated in an ERRONEOUS READING (caps are mine not his) of a yerushalmi,it should certainly continued to be observed, as the meiri rules in ,agen avot…” …is erroneous reading a minhag taoot?

    ruvie 07/05/2010 06:41 PM in reply to Jerry
    i suspect that rabbi sperber may have been given a limited time for his lecture and therefore may have truncated his usual details on the issue. what’s more troubling is that r’ leibowit – seems to me – did not read his work in either books (where he would not have made those obvious errors on the other rishonom and gaonim as well as HIS theory of 2 geirsaot). (leiberman seems to be obviously correct on his conclusions and the details are there).

    also, r’ sperber was addressing the issue (in his writings) of how did we go from the time of the gemera where it was possible to eat meat and wine as late as erev tisha b’av to the shulchan arukh claim its assur on shuva sechal bo and some as early as rosh chodesh and others as early as the 17th of tamuz? for which r’ leibowitz has NO answer (would r’ sperber make the mistake in quoting the sa for nine days (instead of shevua schel bo) or r’ leibowitz?

    Guest 07/06/2010 12:34 AM
    As a Teaneck resident who was at the lecture – let me try an clarify what I think bothered R. Leibowitz, as I was also bothered by the lecture. All of the above comments draw from Rabbi Sperber’s article, however the problem was that many of these things were not stated by Rabbi Sperber in Teaneck. and even though he had limited time, his presentation was irresponsible. If one wants to argue with the mechaber it needs to be done respectfully and Rabbi Sperber did not do this. This is the primary problem.

    Jerry 07/06/2010 12:58 AM in reply to Guest
    1 person liked this.
    Let’s be extremely clear about what is going on here:

    Rabbi Sperber gave a shiur in Teaneck. Rabbi Leibowitz (and you) found his tone to be inappropriate. That’s fine (although why Gil, quite rightly does not allow criticism of Rav Schachter’s tone at certain times, but DOES allow criticism of Rabbi Sperber’s tone is beyond me). If Rabbi Leibowitz had simply expressed dissatisfaction with Rabbi Sperber’s tone and left discussion of the substantive issues to another essay or another author, that would have been alright – if not obviously worth of a full-on guest post on a major blog.

    What Rabbi Leibowitz did instead was relegate his REAL critique (about Rabbi Sperber’s tone) to the final paragraph in a long post in which Rabbi Leibowitz spent the lion’s share attempting to weigh the merits of Rabbi Sperber’s arguments. Rabbi Leibowitz claimed, in that post, to have dispensed with Rabbi Sperber’s case, and dismisses him on those grounds.

    It is for this reason that Rabbi Leibowitz must be charged with extreme irresponsibility, at the least.

    In fact, Rabbi Leibowitz seems to have either not understood, or (worse) not even read Rabbi Sperber’s full remarks upon which this shiur was based – even though he made it clear at the beginning of this post that he is aware of the original source’s existence. Neither did Rabbi Leibowitz think it prudent to discuss this with Rabbi Sperber – describing his concerns and requesting an explanation or clarification – before taking to the internet to hurl misleading accusations at a talmid chacham (a class of person for whom Rabbi Leibowitz, in his blog post, demands deference!) whose argument he clearly did not grasp.

    In short: Rabbi Leibowitz’s complaint about Rabbi Sperber’s tone may (or may not) be valid, but it is completely subjective, in the eye of the beholder (or ear of the listener), and I have to assume that Gil would not have allowed a post on his blog consisting merely of that.

    What got Rabbi Leibowitz’s opinion published were his objections against the objective merits of Rabbi Sperber’s arguments. These, however, are poorly researched, ill-informed, and irresponsible.

    Nachum 07/06/2010 01:56 AM in reply to Steve Brizel
    Exactly. You asked if a corrected version of the Shulchan Arukh would be better; I pointed out that this has nothing to do with that.

    Jerry 07/06/2010 02:09 AM in reply to Nachum
    In other words, Steve, Rabbi Sperber acknowledges that the Mechaber – as it stands – is absolutely correct from a textual standpoint. His objection is substantive, and is not directed at the Mechaber any more than at the other Rishonim and Geonim that adopted the same position (based on the same reading of the Yerushalmi).

    mor 07/06/2010 04:07 AM in reply to Jerry
    Rabbi Leibowitz is fully entitled to give a substantive criticism of a shiur that he heard. If Professor Sperber’s verbal expressions seem to contradict his written words that is his problem, not Rabbi Leibowitz’s.

    Nachum 07/06/2010 06:22 AM
    Actually, his objections were to the verbal expressions of the *audience*, not of Prof. Sperber- he makes no mention at all of the latter’s presentation apart from the vague use of the word “tone.” (Hmmm, where have we heard that word used before?)

    In my experience, things have reached such a pass in the Orthodox world that it’s hard to give a substantive shiur that relies on facts such as these *without* provoking such a reaction in the audience. I’ve seen this at shiurim and yemei iyun in Kew Gardens Hills- which, it needs to be pointed out, is not Teaneck, hashkafically- a number of times.

    Now personally, I’m in favor of such things. But whether or not you are, the fault, dear commenter, lies not in Prof. Sperber.

    Jerry 07/06/2010 08:39 AM in reply to mor
    He is entitled to do whatever he wants. Whether or not it is right, and he should be commended for such is a different matter entirely.

    Moreover, since you do not have a transcript of the shiur (if you do, please share!), you have no idea whether or not Rabbi Sperber’s presentation contradicted his written words. In fact, don’t you think it’s more likely that Rabbi Sperber did not flat-out contradict himself (like him or not, he is brilliant so let’s give him a little credit), and instead it is Rabbi Leibowitz who simply misunderstood what he said?

    I would actually be a little more willing (although not much) to give Rabbi Leibowitz a pass on this if not for the fact that Rabbi Leibowitz HIMSELF says at the beginning of his piece that he knew that the shiur was based on a piece in Minhagei Yisrael. The fact that he knew this, and STILL failed to check the original source – even if just to double check that he understood the shiur – is completely irresponsible.

    Furthermore, even if Rabbi Leibowitz had checked the original and concluded that Rabbi Sperber, for some reason, had gone out of his way to completely contradict an argument he has made numerous times (!) in print, then perhaps the first step for Rabbi Leibowitz should NOT have been to attack Rabbi Sperber on the internet by criticizing his tone of voice, failure to choose an appropriate shiur topic, and lack of respect for rabbinic authority, but to contact Rabbi Sperber – by all accounts a major talmid chacham – and seek some clarification or explanation as to why he had contradicted his own words in such a blatant manner.

    Mike 07/06/2010 09:18 AM in reply to moshe shoshan
    I think it’s in Volume 1.

    Zohar 07/06/2010 09:34 AM in reply to jadedtopaz
    GRA favors the “weaving” girsa

    ביאור הגר”א אורח חיים סימן תקנא סעיף ט

    יש נוהגין כו’ ויש שמוסיפין כו’. שי”×’ בירושלמי ×”× “ל דלא למשתי חמרא ולמיכל בשרא וע’ בה”×’ וכ”×” ×”×’×™’ בילקוט סימן תרנ“×’ ותלוי בפלוגתא ×”× “ל דס”×– >>>אבל ×”×’×™’ ראשונה היא עיקרית <<<וכמ"ש הגאון ולכן אמר ×”× ×™ נשי שהיא מלאכתן כמ"ש בכתובות וכל השמעתא דירושלמי שם הכל במלאכה ×¢"ש אבל עיקר הטעם הוא כמ"ש בספ"×’ דב"ב תניא אר"×™ בן אלישע מיום שחרב בה"מ דין הוא שנגזור כו' אלא אין כו' ונהגו בימים אלו שאפשר לעמוד בזמן מועט ומתני' אסר בסעודת עט"ב והוסיפו על עצמן: Zachw 07/06/2010 12:10 PM in reply to Chaim Well many "Orthodox" people would argue that the spiritual enemies of Judaism are the other Jewish "sects" of Reform, Conservative (see R. Ovadia's latest), Reconstructionist, etc etc. shlomo 07/06/2010 03:20 PM Some comments on the article and previous comments: It would appear from the following quotes below that in provence they had the girsah of chamra or chamar and were not copying the gaon. There are a number of variants including the name r. yishmael. In vol. 7, p. 380, rsp quotes the aruch hashulchan. p. 146, fn. 25, of the original article he upholds he custom. Before looking at chachmei provence and their textual version below, see: תורת חיים מסכת סנהדרין דף ×¢ עמוד א ערב תשעה באב לא יאכל אדם בשר ולא ישתה יין. משמע בהדיא דליכא איסורא למיכל בישראל ולמשתי חמרא אלא בערב תשעה באב בלבד ואפילו בערב תשעה באב מפרש בגמרא בפרק שלשה פרקים שאינו אסור אלא בסעודה שמפסיק בה והוא שתהיה אחר חצות. ובירושלמי איתא ×”× ×™ נשי דנהיגי דלא למשתי עמרא מגו דעייל אב מנהגא פי' מנהג יפה הוא וכתב הטור ויש נוסחאות דגרסי נשי דנהיגי דלא למיכל בישרא ולמשתי חמרא מנהגא ומזה נהגו שלא לאכול בשר ושלא לשתות יין מראש חדש וכו' ותימה כיון דמנהג יפה הוא אמאי לא תקנוהו האנשים מעיקרא וכי הנשים יותר חכמות היו מן האנשים ועוד דלא אשכחן בשום מקום שתיקנו הנשים איזה מנהג או דין ואמאי נהגו הך מילתא טפי משאר דברים. לכך נראה דהך גירסא דלא למיכל בישרא ולמישתא חמרא לאו עיקר היא אלא הגירסא האמתית דלא למשתי עמרא הוא והשתא ניחא לפי שתיקון השתי ומלאכת הצמר מלאכת הנשים הוא דאין חכמת אשה אלא בפלך ותנן נמי בפרק אף על פי דאשה עושה בצמר ואפילו הכניסה לו מאה שפחות כופה לעשות בצמר ומפני צער החורבן נהגו הנשים לבטל מלאכתן דלא למשתי עמרא מגו דעייל אב וקאמר בירושלמי דיפה הן עושות וכי האי גונא איתא בירושלמי פרק קמא דתענית הביאו הטור בסי' תי"×– נשי דנהיגו דלא למיעבד עבידתא בריש ירחא מנהגא והיינו נמי לפי שראש חדש מועד שלהן הוא על שלא נתנו נזמיהן לעגל לכך נהגו שלא לעשות בו מלאכה וכ"×› בהדיא הטור שם מפרקי דרבי אליעזר לפי שלא רצו נשים ליתן נזמין לבעליהן במעשה העגל לכך נתן להם הקדוש ברוך הוא שכרן שיהו משמרות ראש חדש יותר מהאנשים ודוקא הנך תרתי מילי דבדידהו תליא מילתא וכיון דנהגו בעצמן למנוע מלאכתן בימים ההם קאמר בירושלמי דיפה נוהגות וכן ראוי לנשים לקיים המנהג אבל שינהגו הנשים מנהג דלאו בדידהו תליא ויסכימו על ×–×” חכמי הש"ס ויאמרו דמנהגא הוא ונכון לעשות גם האנשים כן אין סברא לומר כן דכיון דמנהג יפה הוא אמאי לא נהגו כן מעצמן. ולכך נראה מה שנשתרבב המנהג שלא לאכול בשר ולא לשתות יין מגו דעייל אב אין למנהג ההוא שורש לא בש"ס בבלי ולא בירושלמי דמדינא דגמרא ליכא איסורא אלא בערב תשעה באב אחר חצות בסעודה שמפסיק בה וזה כתבתי לפי שורת הדין אבל מכל מקום כיון שהוכפלו הצרות בימים הללו אסור לפרוץ גדר לאכול בשר ולשתות יין לא מדין הש"ס אלא מפני צער החורבן ×›×™ גם השכינה עמנו בצרה ובכל יום היא קובלת אוי לי שהחרבתי את ביתי וכל המיקל בזה אינו חס על כבוד קונו ולכך יש מחמירין ונוהגין בו איסור משבעה עשר בתמוז כמו שכתב הטור והמחמיר תבא עליו ברכה והרמב"ם ×–"ל בפ"×” מהלכות תענית כתב ומימינו לא אכלנו ערב תשעה באב תבשיל אפילו של עדשים אלא אם כן ×”×™×” בשבת. Everything that rsp said, just frumer! תלמוד ירושלמי מסכת פסחים פרק ד [דף ל טור ×’] נשייא דנהיגין דלא למיעבד עובדא [דף ל טור ד] באפוקי שובתא אינו מנהג עד יפני סדרא מנהג בתרייא ובחמשתא אינו מנהג עד יתפני תעניתא מנהג יומא דערובתא אינו מנהג מן מנחתא ולעיל מנהג יומא דירחא מנהג אמר רבי זעורה נשייא דנהגן דלא למישתייא מן דאב עליל מנהג שבו פסקה אבן שתייה מה טעם ×›×™ השתות יהרסון ספר האשכול (אלבק) הלכות ראשי חודשים דף נו עמוד א וכן מפורש בירושלמי נשיא דנהגין דלא למיעבד עבידתא באפוקי שבתא אינו מנהג, עד דתתפני סדרא מנהג, בשני ובחמשי אינו מנהג, עד דתתפני תעניתא מנהג, בערבותא אינו מנהג מן מנחתא ולעילא מנהג, בריש ירחא מנהג, אמר ר' זעירא אילין נשיא דנהגין דלא למשתא חמרא מן דאב עליל מנהג, שבו פסקא אבן (סתום) <שתייה> מאי טעמא ×›×™ השתות יהרסון.
    בית הבחירה למאירי מסכת תענית דף ל עמוד ב
    ובתלמוד המערב שבפסחים פרק מקום שנהגו אמרו הילין נשיא דנהגין דלא למשתי חמרא מן דאב עליל מנהג שבו פסקה אבן שתיה ויש נשים חסידות
    ספר מגן אבות (למאירי) ענין כ
    וכן הענין במנהג שאין בו שורש ולא טעם, שאין דין מנהג לו אלא א”×› נתלה באיזה צד של צרך מצוה או מורה מוסר וגמילת חסד או חשש איסור או כעור או קלקול. ומ”מ כל שהוא מנהג קדמונים וותיקים מעמידין אותו אף לקולא הואיל ואין שם איסור כמו שבארנו בראשון של ר”×”. והוא שאמרו במסכת סופרים (פי”ד ×”×™”×—) אין הלכה נקבעת עד שישהא מנהג, וזה שאמרו (שם) מנהג מבטל הלכה, במקום שאין איסור, מנהג ותיקין, כלומ’ שאי אפשר שלא יהא לו סעד, אבל מנהג שאין לו ראיה מן התורה ר”ל שאינה נתלה בשום ענין, אינו אלא כטועה בשקול הדעת. וכן הענין אצלי במנהג של התחסדות היוצא מכל גדר, אף על פי שהם מתחסדים בו התחסדות של תפלות ומיחסים אותו לצורך מצוה, וזהו אצלי מה שאמרו בירושלמי (פסחים פ”ד ×””א) נשיי דנהיגין דלא למעבד עובדא באפיקי שבתא, ר”ל כל מוצאי שבת, אינו מנהג, כלומר שאין ×–×” אלא התחסדות ביתר מן הראוי ואין חוששין לו, עד דתיפני סדרא, כלומ’ עד שישלימו סדר מה שהורגל לומר בו במוצאי שבת מנהג, כלומר אף על פי שיש בו תוספת יתר על המחוייב, ואסור לבטלו, בתנינא ובחמשתא אינו מנהג, כלומר שמתבטלות בכל יום תענית של שני וחמישי, אינו מנהג ואין חוששין לו. עד דתתפני תעניתא, מנהג, ר”ל סדר תפלת תענית. יומא דערובתא, ר”ל כל יום ערב שבת וערב יום טוב אינו מנהג. ממנחתא ולעיל מנהג, יומא דירחא מנהג. דלא למשתיי’ חמר מן דאב עליל כלילי, מנהג. וכן הענין בכל מנהג של תפלות אף על פי שבעליו מתחסדים בו וכן הדין במנהג שיש לחוש בו לצאת ממנו חורבא וקלקול כמו שביארנו בענין חלת האורז.
    ספר כלבו סימן סב
    ויש נמנעין מאכילת בשר משנכנס אב לפי שאין שמחה אלא בבשר ואף על פי כן אין צריכין להמנע מתבשיל שנתבשל בו הבשר דלצעורי נפשיה קא מכוין והא אצטער, ועוד דאמרינן בנדרים הנודר מן הבשר מותר בתבשיל, וכתב ×””ר אשר ×–”ל וראיתי נשים יקרות שנמנעות מאכילת בשר ומשתית היין משבעה עשר בתמוז עד עשרה באב ואומרות שכך קבלו מאימותיהן דור אחר דור, ונראה לי משום דאמרינן בתלמוד במשנה בשבעה עשר בתמוז בטל התמיד וכן בעונותינו בטל נסוך היין ויש מן האנשים שנהגו כן, ונהגו בספרד שאין אוכלין בשר מר”×— אב עד תשעה בו, וירושלמי אמר רבי ישמעאל אלין נשיא דנהיגי דלא למשתי חמרא מדעייל אב מנהגא שבו פסק אבן שתיה שנאמר (תהלים יא, ×’) ×›×™ השתות יהרסון ונראה לי אבן שתיה שהיתה שם שתות יין הנסוך ×¢×›”ל, וכתב בעל ההשלמה ×–”ל שמשנכנס אב אין ראוי לכבס ולגהץ למעט בשמחה ואף על פי שאינו אסור אלא אותו שבת לבד.
    שו”ת בצל החכמה חלק ד סימן קנב
    אמנם מצאתי בספר ארחות חיים לרבינו אהרן הכהן מלוניל זצ”ל (הל’ ט’ באב אות ד’) שכ’, ירושלמי א”ר ישמעאל אילין נשיא דנהגי דלא למשתי “חמרא” מדלעיל אב מנהגא שבו פסקו אבן שתי’ שנאמר ×›×™ השתות יהרסון ונ“ב אבן שתי’ שהיתה שם שתיית יין הנסוך ×¢”×›. גם בס’ כלבו (סי’ ס”ב הל’ ט’ באב) מביא גרסת הירושלמי “לישתי חמרא” ופירשו ×›×”× “ל.

    moshe shoshan 07/06/2010 03:47 PM in reply to shlomo
    Shlomo
    great source. Who is the toras chaim?

    moshe shoshan 07/06/2010 03:54 PM in reply to moshe shoshan
    also thanks for citing the key footnote in which RDS states his real opinion about the status of the minhag.

    hirhurim 07/06/2010 03:55 PM in reply to moshe shoshan
    http://hebrewbooks.org/14742

    Jerry 07/06/2010 04:37 PM in reply to shlomo
    Thanks for the quotations. Excellent!

    I’m not an expert in manuscript handwriting, so maybe someone with the relevant knowledge can weigh in, but here’s my guess about the R. Yishmael girsa: a handwritten Hebrew abbreviation R”Y looks like a handwritten R”Z (R. Ze’ira, which is what most have)

    guest 07/06/2010 04:39 PM in reply to Zohar
    You realize that the Gra here says that the mekor of not eating meat/drinking wine in the Nine Days is from a Bavli in Bava Basra, right? This is not at all what Sperber thinks.

    Jerry 07/06/2010 04:42 PM in reply to shlomo
    In fact, you can probably guess that “R. Yishmael” is a corruption of something else (probably because of an ambiguous abbreviation, see above) since the quote is in Aramaic. I don’t think this is typical of Tannaitic quotations, but would be completely normal in the mouth of an Amora. I am wrong about this?

    Jerry 07/06/2010 05:02 PM in reply to guest
    First of all, the point is that the Gra comes to the same conclusion as Rabbi Sperber regarding the text of the Yerushalmi.

    As to the source from Bava Basra (60b, by the way), Rabbi Sperber addresses the larger sugya (of which R. Yishmael’s memra is a typical part) on the very first page of his essay in MY. He actually uses this sugya (specifically R. Yehoshua’s response to certain “Prushim”) as a proof for his claim about the prevailing attitude during the time of the Tannaim and Amoraim. If you look at the source (including the way the Gra uses it), you can see that it easily fits in to Rabbi Sperber’s reading.

    Regarding the Gra’s use of the Gemara: His argument isn’t necessarily that this is the source – he admits that the source was an incorrect girsa – but may simply be that this Gemara is de facto support for the minhag that developed. After all, the Gemara doesn’t say anything at all about the 3 weeks, 9 days, etc. It just says that there was a custom to NEVER eat meat or drink wine (note the order, by the way!), but that Klal Yisrael couldn’t abide by this custom so it was not officially promulgated. The Gra simply argues that Klal Yisrael have proven that while they still can’t abide by the custom all the time, they can at least do so for a short time – and that short time happens to be the 3 weeks.

    Jerry 07/06/2010 05:08 PM in reply to shlomo
    By the way, now that Zohar and “guest” have called our attention to the Gra, and his mention of Bava Basra 60b, it occurs to me that the tradition attributing the line in the Yerushalmi to R. Yishmael may have arisen precisely because of his statement in Bava Basra: תניא, אמר ר’ ישמעאל בן אלישע: מיום שחרב בית המקדש, דין הוא שנגזור על עצמנו שלא לאכול בשר ולא לשתות יין

    Once the reading in the Yerushalmi was misunderstood (at a very early point, mind you), someone may have associated it with R. Yishmael’s memra in the Bavli.

    Just thinking out loud here…

    Shalom Barishansky 07/06/2010 05:29 PM in reply to Jerry
    Did Rav Leibowitz say RDS contradicted himself? He simply said that in the lecture RDS did not properly address that fact that all of the Reishonim had a different girsa and that the minhag was established based on a different girsa. Even if RDS presented irrefutably proofs prove demonstrating that the girsa of R. Nisim makes more sense (and they are great proofs), the fact still remains that the SA had both girsaos were in-front of him and he codified both. As I am young in my Torah journey I must disclaim and make clear that I am nothing in comparison to RDS, and nor do I have the ability to critique the substance of his Drashah or him for that matter . That being said, after having gone over the sugya (which does include seeing MYl) Rav Leibowitz’s account and analysis seems to be on target. Surely, the Mechaber of the SA, the normative source of Halacha, should always be quoted meticulously. Since the SA quoted both Girsas , one cannot disregard his texts. It makes sense that when giving a shiur in a shul, one should clearly state that he is showing the strengths of particular girsa and shouldn’t throw out the accepted minhag based on his own analysis (even if it is very good).
    Even when one argues with the SA, it should always be done respectfully in order to insure the continued respect for the halakhic process. It is this light that I understood Rav Leibowitz’s post.
    Consequently , all of Jerry’s paraphrases of RDS proofs in his article are irrelevant to the discussion at hand. Rav Leibowitz seemingly agreed and didn’t seem to be disagreeing that the girsa of RDS is very strong. Rav Leibowitz was troubled with the way the material was presented in Teaneck, especially to the context in which it was given. RDS was supporting a minority girsa arguing it was correct, and was disregarding the majority girsa. No matter how good the proofs are the fact remains that two girsaos existed and the halakhic process considered both of them. This needed to be stated.

    Jerry 07/06/2010 06:00 PM in reply to Shalom Barishansky
    “Did Rav Leibowitz say RDS contradicted himself?”

    Heh? My whole point is that Rabbi Leibowitz specifically DID NOT make this claim, because in order to have done so he would have had to read the original essay in MY. It is clear to me that he did not do so.

    “He simply said that in the lecture RDS did not properly address that fact that all of the Reishonim had a different girsa and that the minhag was established based on a different girsa.”

    Rabbi Leibowitz first accuses Rabbi Sperber of not “articulating clearly” that the issue is based on two girsaot. Part of the problem is that Rabbi Leibowitz himself is unclear here. Does he mean that he didn’t make any mention of the alternate reading of the Yerushalmi (I find that hard to believe). Did he articulate this, just not “clearly”? What does that mean?

    Again, I don’t have accses to a transcript of what Rabbi Sperber said (was the lecture on Shabbos?), so I don’t know what Rabbi Sperber said. But I can only assume that he presented the basic points that are in his short piece on this in MY: 1) There is a custom not to drink wine or eat meat during the 3 weeks (or from Shiva Asar B’Tammuz), 2) The Rishonim and codifiers, including the SA, that quote this minhag do so on the basis of a text in the Yerushalmi, 3) The text that these Rishonim quote is not the same as the text in our printed Yerushalmis, 4) The text in the printed Yerushalmis is likely the original text, and the other version arose because the original text was misunderstood (“weave” became “drink” and “wool” became “wine”).

    This is the bare bones structure of Rabbi Sperber’s argument, and I would assume that Rabbi Sperber touched on all of them. Rabbi Leibowitz’s seems to imply that he did not explain that the Rishonim that quote the Yerushalmi as a basis for the minhag have a text that reflects the initial misunderstanding of the original text.

    If this is true (leaving aside the likely possibility that Rabbi Leibowitz simply did not understand Rabbi Sperber’s shiur), then one might simply say that Rabbi Sperber did not have time to address all of the pratim of his argument. It is enough to simply point out the fact that at some point “to weave” was incorrectly rendered as “to drink.” Rabbi Sperber may not have had the time to address the fact that in some texts “wool” became “wine.” But this is simply an additional argument in his favor – he certainly already made the essential point which is that the SA used a misreading (albeit an early one) as the basis for a custom that he codifies. And anyone who was interested in pursuing the wool/wine issue could just read MY.

    Jerry 07/06/2010 06:43 PM in reply to Shalom Barishansky
    I don’t think that you actually looked at the MY. (Either that or you didn’t read this post, but I think the former is more likely).

    If you had, you would realize that while Rabbi Leibowitz makes it seem like Rabbi Sperber accused the SA specifically of a mistake. Instead, in MY, Rabbi Sperber doesn’t make a bigger issue out of the SA than he does out of all the authorities who quote the faulty version of the Yerushalmi.

    Also, if you had read MY, you would know that Rabbi Sperber doesn’t “throw out the accepted minhag.” He specifically rules that it should be accepted.

    The idea that “Rav Leibowitz seemingly agreed and didn’t seem to be disagreeing that the girsa of RDS is very strong” doesn’t make much sense in light of the following line from Rabbi Leibowitz’s post: “The opening question of Sperber’s lecture—what is to be done when the Shulchan Aruch contains a ruling that is based on a mistake?— is not relevant to the issue at hand. The Shulchan Aruch’s quoting of the custom to not drink wine was not based on a mistake”

    In fact, the above implies that Rabbi Leibowitz believes that Rabbi Sperber thinks that it is the SA himself who made the mistake. This is incorrect. Even if this is not what Rabbi Leibowitz believes, the fact remains that Rabbi Sperber shows that the “alternate girsa” upon which the SA’s ruling is based is, indeed, a mistake (albeit made during the Geonic period). All of Rabbi Leibowitz’s arguments either have nothing to do with Rabbi Sperber’s argument in MY, or were already addressed there.

    Steve Brizel 07/06/2010 08:42 PM in reply to Nachum
    Obviously, KGH isn’t Teaneck-name another community which has a range of Talmidei Chachamim and Rabboni

  2. Aryeh Leibowitz 07/06/2010 11:21 PM
    Limited internet access and personal responsibilities have prevented me from addressing some of the confusion on this thread. I am enjoying some time in the mountains with family, campers, and friends and have limited time. I must therefore apologize that I cannot respond to every comment at this time, nor am I currently in the position to spend hours on end checking and commenting on this illustrious blog. I will try and formulate some thought at this time, and apologize that my remarks will not be exhaustive.
    Let me first address some of the directed towards me that have repeatedly appeared on this thread. First of all I did speak with Prof. Sperber before posting this essay, and I had the chance to discuss some of my reservations about his presentation. Second, I also did read Prof Sperber’s written material on the subject.

    Let me also clarify that I have never denied the cogency of Prof. Sperber’s arguments that the girsa of R. Nisim is more likely the accurate one. I did not address the many great points he mentions in his articles (English and Hebrew, by the way), because I was never questioning that R. Nisim likely had the more accurate girsa!

    I also never stated (nor misunderstood) that Prof. Sperber said that R. Y. Karo himself made an error (this is actually one of the points I discussed with Prof. Sperber after the lecture). I was careful to write that he claimed that the passage in the Shulchan Aruch was based on a faulty interpretation , but never to say that R. Y. Karo himself made this faulty interpretation. I think its obvious to everyone that Prof. Sperber wasn’t claiming that this error began with the Shulchan Aruch!

    So what was I saying in my essay? I merely wished to note that this “faulty” interpretation was assumed by ALL of the major Rishonim of Ashkenaz, Sefarad, and Catalonia, codified by the Shulchan Aruch, and accepted for generations. This point was stated, to a degree, in his articles, but not in Teaneck on that Shabbos afternoon. Neither was it noted that the achronim take this minhag very seriously, with some even writing that one violates an issur deoreysa by not observing it! I think this is a VERY important point that should not have been left out considering he was discussing a le-maaseh issue, and showing it to be in error.

    Moreover, as I eluded to Prof. Sperber himself after the lecture, R. Yosf Karo himself was aware that there were two traditions of what the yerushalmi was trying to teach, and R. KAro still felt the need to codify both.

    That is, even though he knew about the “obviously correct” and “indisputable” girsa of R. Nisim, he still felt committed to the girsa recorded by ALL the other Rishonim. Since he did not simply disregard it as misinterpretation, I would have expected Prof. Sperber to have at least done so with a bit more respect for the traditional reading.

    I know I might be branded as a fundamentalist, but I have a problem with a speaker standing up in a shul addressing laymen and announcing that a girsa assumed by ALL the major Rishonim, codified by the Shulchan Aruch, and accepted for generations is flat out wrong. I don’t think this adds to the yirat shamayim, or avodat haShem of the audience (for me, these are important criteria). I am not saying that the Shulchan Aruch cannot be argued on, nor do I claim it must be blindly followed without any critical thought. But the process of such criticism must begin with respect for the tradition and halakhic process, and this respect must certainly be voiced when speaking to a crowd. Anything else would seem to be irresponsible.
    Lastly, if my memory serves me correctly, R. Sperber clearly concluded that this minhag can be disregarded, as it is based on an error (this conclusion does not appear in his article, but then again, I remind you that we aren’t addressing his article, but rather his lecture). He did jokingly say that he is a vegetarian, so he won’t outright tell people to eat meat during the nine days. I would welcome someone else to contact him directly and ask him if he truly meant to imply such a far reaching conclusion. I will certainly take back this final criticism if he says that he did not mean to state this. However, if this is the case, I encourage him to use more care in the future as others present have told me that they too got this impression.

    As a final note: The final question raised in this thread is a serious one that needs to be addressed. What do we do when we discover that a pesak in the Shulchan Aruch is based on an error. This is an important issue that addresses the nature of the halakhic process, perhaps the issue of “lo bashamayim he,” and the authority of the Shulchan Aruch. I think the answer to this issue, like many related issues needs to be addressed with a healthy blend of yirat shamayim AND intellectual honesty. I leave it to people far wiser and more knowledgeable than myself to address this issue.

    Jerry Yesterday 12:17 AM in reply to Aryeh Leibowitz
    Thank you for the reply. It is nice to have some clarification to the issues discussed here.

    To address some of your points:

    1) “I merely wished to note that this “faulty” interpretation was assumed by ALL of the major Rishonim of Ashkenaz, Sefarad, and Catalonia”

    While this may be true (did Rabbi Sperber note any exceptions in his article? I don’t have it in front of me right now), this did not prevent a number of Acharonim from nonetheless endorsing the “weaving” girsa. Furthermore, many of these authorities may not have been aware of both traditions, and may simply have made use of the single faulty tradition, which they assumed to be the single, and uncontroversial, version.

    “Neither was it noted that the achronim take this minhag very seriously, with some even writing that one violates an issur deoreysa by not observing it!”

    Do we pasken, l’ma’aseh, like these acharonim who believe it’s a d’Oraysa? I do not think that we do, and in any event there is not even a hint of this in the Yerushalmi, whichever girsa you use. I don’t think it’s a major issue – given limited time during a shiur in Teaneck – to leave out that there are some acharonim who have a very extreme shitah of what this minhag entails.

    “Moreover, as I eluded to Prof. Sperber himself after the lecture, R. Yosf Karo himself was aware that there were two traditions of what the yerushalmi was trying to teach, and R. KAro still felt the need to codify both.”

    It is absolutely crucial at this juncture to distinguish between lomdus and psak. As you pointed out, many, many important Rishonim – for better or worse – endorse the “wine” girsa. The Mechaber may have simply codified both versions for that reason. After all, even if these Rishonim had all erred, the fact is that the Rishonim are part of the halachic process and the SA does not ignore – l’ma’aseh – the opinion of rov Rishonim. Whether or not the SA agreed with the “wine” girsa may have been beside the point. I don’t see this as a proof either way.

    Furthermore – and this is significant – the Mechaber may have only had the following two girsaot: “l’mishtayya” and “l’mishtei chamra.” If that were the case, I can imagine the Mechaber wondering how the word “chamra” got added in if it wasn’t a bona fide separate girsa. Rabbi Sperber’s sources for the ‘AM”R to HM”R to HMR”A insight, which is an important part of his case, may not have been available to the SA. Please correct me if I am wrong about this.

    “Since he did not simply disregard it as misinterpretation”

    This just reinforces my point above about the difference between psak and lomdus. Even those who dismiss the “wine” girsa of the Yerushalmi as completely mistaken do not “disregard” the minhag.

    “I know I might be branded as a fundamentalist, but I have a problem with a speaker standing up in a shul addressing laymen and announcing that a girsa assumed by ALL the major Rishonim, codified by the Shulchan Aruch, and accepted for generations is flat out wrong.”

    I have a problem with the siege mentality of certain yidden who believe that this is simply impossible.

    “I don’t think this adds to the yirat shamayim, or avodat haShem of the audience”

    Has it occurred to you a) that you may be wrong, this being a subjective observation and all, and that b) the “nothing to see here,” “don’t ask questions” mentality that is perceived within certain segments of our community may also detract from yiras shamayim and avodas Hashem?

    “Lastly, if my memory serves me correctly, R. Sperber clearly concluded that this minhag can be disregarded, as it is based on an error”

    As long as we acknowledge that in his article he CLEARLY upholds the minhag, we can move forward. Once that’s out of the way, the fact of the matter is that if a posek determines that a minhag – even one codified in the SA – may not be obligatory because it is based on an error, that is his prerogative. Take the case of the Mechaber at YD 116:2-5. Of the minhagim listed there, we believe that all are based on erroneous information, yet we still keep the one in 116:2, but ignore the ones in 3-5. If someone suggested that perhaps it is okay to not be strict about eating fish and meat together, even though it is a widespread custom, it might be controversial, but I don’t think it would be OBVIOUSLY right or wrong. These are not black and white issues, and I think Rabbi Sperber is wise enough to make a decision.

    One final comment: Rabbi Leibowitz, I think it would have been much more responsible of you, if you indeed read the article in Minhagei Yisrael (and if you say you did, then you did), to note all of the responses that Rabbi Sperber offers in his written work (I wasn’t at the shiur, so all I have is hearsay) to the points you raised in your post.

    Enjoy the mountains!

    moshe shoshan Yesterday 02:25 AM
    1 person liked this.
    R. Leibowitz
    Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedual to respond and clarify your position.

    First, it seems that your original post was written in such a way that is misunderstood by virtualy all of the esteemed readers of this blog, both your detractors and supporters. For this I think an apology is in order.

    Second, I am still unclear as to actual position. on the one hand you state that, “I was never questioning that R. Nisim likely had the more accurate girsa!” on the other hand you persist in placing the the terms “correct” and “faulty” with regard to the girsa in scare quotes, thereby calling RDS conclusions into question.

    Nevertheless, you now suggest that you did not make any attempt to question RDS philological point, which is good because it is still not clear to me that you fully understood his point. This may well be a result of RDS’s brief presentation was aimed at balei batim and, for better or worse may not have communicated is ideas in a thorough manner. But that is no excuse for not checking the full presentation in MY before discussing the issue.

    In either event, it seems to me that you are now saying that you have no substantive argument with RDS but rather a criticizing his method of presentation and the fact that he presented such information to the masses. This is an issue about which we may certainly disagree. We probably agree more than we disagree on this issue in either event. However, before engaging in this issue, I think that some grounding in the modern study of Talmudic MSS and linguistics is in order. In order to decide how to present an issue to the masses, one needs a cogent opinion of one’s own on the matter.

    Finally , you have now made the claim the RDS actually stated that there is no issur against consuming wine/meat during the nine days/shavua she chal bo. this is quite shocking, not only because it overturns an ancient and well attested minhag yisrael, but also because sperber himself previously wrote that this minhag remains in force. This needs to be clarified. I would appreciate it if you would take to time to do so.

    Shlomo Yesterday 03:15 AM in reply to Steve Brizel
    Steve: “I think that your line of comments on this issue borders on being excessively pedantic, defensive, triumphalistic and to use a lay term-over the top.”

    This is certainly the world’s best example of “kol haposel bemumo posel”.

    ruvie Yesterday 08:22 AM in reply to Aryeh Leibowitz
    “Moreover, as I eluded to Prof. Sperber himself after the lecture, R. Yosf Karo himself was aware that there were two traditions of what the yerushalmi was trying to teach, and R. KAro still felt the need to codify both.
    That is, even though he knew about the “obviously correct” and “indisputable” girsa of R. Nisim, he still felt committed to the girsa recorded by ALL the other Rishonim. Since he did not simply disregard it as misinterpretation, I would have expected Prof. Sperber to have at least done so with a bit more respect for the traditional reading. ”

    r’ leibowitz – since you asked prof. sperber the question why didn’t you state his response (why the silence)? if one reads the shulchan arukh closely (which prof. sperber footnotes in minhagei yisrael) you may not draw your conclusion that the SA had both girsaot and recorded both. on the SA – taf-kuf-nun-alef – sieif 8 and 9 – it states women whose practice is not to produce warp of woolen once av has arrived follow an acceptable practice. in the next seief -9- there are people who follow the practice of not eating meat and not drinking wine during this week, others extend from rosh chodesh until fast and others extend from shivah asar be-tamuz.
    the language of both section 8 and 9 are totally different and i would assume – not knowing prof. sperber’s answer – that the assumption is not 2 girsaot. the language of not eating meat follows the erroneous reading/copying/ language in the yerushalmi while the weaving may be tied to the different association with the word of the “even shitiah”. note – there are people that practice – which means it was not practiced by everyone or maybe not even a majority.
    again, i think your assumption that the sa had both girsaot needs better proof than has been given. please tell us prof. sperber’s comment to your question.

    shlomo Yesterday 11:54 AM
    Gil linked the sefer, here is some bio information the easy way:
    תורת חיים
    ר’ אברהם חיים ב”ר נפתלי צבי הירש שור ×”×™×” בן למשפחה מיוחסת של רבנים. שימש כר”מ ואב”ד בערים סטנוב ובלז שבגליציה, ונחשב בין גדולי הדור. בספרו ‘תורת חיים’ נמצאים חידושי הלכה ואגדה על תשע מסכתות: עירובין, פסחים, שלושת הבבות, סנהדרין, שבועות, ×¢”×– וחולין. הספר נדפס בשנת שפ”ד (1624) בלובלין, ומהדורה מתוקנת בת שלושה כרכים יצאה לאור בירושלים תשס”ד (2004). רא”×— כתב גם את הספר החשוב ‘צאן קדשים’ על מסכתות סדר קודשים, ובו הגהות ותיקוני נוסח רבים. הוא נפטר בשנת שצ”ב (1632) בעירו בלז.
    First I thank r. leibowitz for his clarifications. I think that his point that: “I know I might be branded as a fundamentalist, but I have a problem with a speaker standing up in a shul addressing laymen and announcing that a girsa assumed by ALL the major Rishonim, codified by the Shulchan Aruch, and accepted for generations is flat out wrong. I don’t think this adds to the yirat shamayim, or avodat haShem of the audience (for me, these are important criteria). I am not saying that the Shulchan Aruch cannot be argued on, nor do I claim it must be blindly followed without any critical thought. But the process of such criticism must begin with respect for the tradition and halakhic process, and this respect must certainly be voiced when speaking to a crowd. Anything else would seem to be irresponsible.” Should be taken up.
    Even if one uses a “modern” or “critical” approach in one’s research or limud, the question is how is it presented –To clarify a point or an issue? For sake of knowledge for its own sake? To belittle rishonim or achronim that I am smarter than them? to make a revolution in Orthodox Judaism? Is one presenting an academic lecture to trace the development of a custom? Or to poke fun at rabbis who lacked a good grounding in philology? Perhaps to establish the fossilization of halakha?
    In other words, does the person giving the shiur have an agenda that clashes with the agenda of the rabbi and/or the congregants? R. leibowitz assumes the congregation’s agenda should be yirat shamayim, etc, and I tend to agree with him, and I presume the shul rabbi agrees with him (although I don’t either). If this assumption is correct, will the type of shiur or lecture given contribute to this? That depends on who delivers it and how it’s delivered. I presume r. leibowitz would have had no problem with the presentation of the toras haym above, because it would have been delivered to augment yiras shamayim and ahavat hashem. I see that r. leibowiz did have a problem with the delivery last shabbos.
    On a more academic note, please see Yaakov gartner’s gilgul minhag beolam hahalakha (Jerusalem 1995), the 1st 2 chapters where argues that stringency on 9 b’av and the weeks before were a karaite influence on almost all jewry, including Ashkenaz (I am certainly not convinced by his arguments), but, p, 24, fn. 95, and p, 37, fn. 85, where he takes issue with rds on the issue if texual variants or mistakes caused the custom or karaite influences of the Aveilei Zion.

    shlomo Yesterday 12:22 PM in reply to ruvie
    since the beis yosef is a commentary to the tur which has both, i presume he knew of both girsaot. in beit yosef he quotes the mordechai which also has both as well as referencing hagaot maimonides which has both. so i assume he knew of both versions or if he had our text, both explanations. sometimes his SA abbreviates what he discussed at length in by. both be’er hagolah and kaf hahaym reference the tur as SA’s source.
    perhaps you meant something else….

    ruvie Yesterday 12:57 PM in reply to shlomo
    thanks for the correction. he might have had both girsaot but it seems that he rejected one in favor of the other. the language and the wording of the 2 halachot are very different and it begs the question ( no reference in weaving to dates). it seems that other explanations are needed.

    Isaac Balbin Yesterday 01:17 PM in reply to Scott
    ארחות חיים (הל’ תשעה באב, ס”ק ד
    “כתב רבי אשר ×–”ל: וראיתי נשים יקרות שנמענות משתות יין ומאכילת בשר מי”×– בתמוז עד עשרה באב, ואומרות שכך קבלו מאמותיהן דור אחר דור

    Jerry Yesterday 02:14 PM in reply to Aryeh Leibowitz
    I finally got around to checking the Beis Yosef myself. I may have misunderstood him, but I think it is worthwhile for everyone on this thread to take a look.

    Conclusion: the Beis Yosef DOES NOT adopt both customs on the basis of two girsaot, as the Tur does (and as Rabbi Leibowitz claims he does).

    Of the authorities quoted by the Beis Yosef in support of upholding a minhag (there were apparently many different ones) not to eat meat sometime in the period leading up to Tisha B’Av, the only ones where the accompanying reason is supplied are those who DO NOT use the Yerushalmi: i.e. it’s based on the fact that the custom constitutes a communal neder, or it’s mourning instituted for the loss of the korban tammid.

    The Beis Yosef DOES NOT even mention the Yerushalmi, and in fact, quotes a teshuva from the Rashba to the following effect: נהגו אבותיכם נוחי נפש שלא לאכול בשר משנכנס אב ואע”פ שאין כאן איסור כלל מדין התלמוד שאפילו בערב הצום בסעודה שאין מפסיק בה מותר לאכול בשר ולשתות יין אפילו כן מי שאוכל בשר בכל המקומות שנהגו בו איסור פורץ גדרן של ראשונים ופורץ גדר ישכנו נחש

    Notice: “v’af al pi she’ein kan issur klal mi’din ha’Talmud”!

    I think this reinforces my point that the fact that SA codified both customs only has to do with the fact that the SA had respect for the halachic process – but he may indeed have recognized (and this is implied by the Beis Yosef’s presentation of the issue) that the “wine” girsa in the Yerushalmi is mistaken.

    Rabbi Sperber’s extremely convincing arguments to the effect that the “wine” girsa is mistake aside, it looks to me like the SA himself may have agreed (although this is by no means certain, and if I’m totally wrong about this, someone should please correct me).

    ruvie Yesterday 03:40 PM in reply to Jerry
    thank you for looking at the tur. if the beit yosef may have rejected the wine girsa please explain the difference in wording of the two halachot? the weaving had no – some from rosh chodesh some from 17 of tamuz – wording (if he rejected the wine girsa then he would have written it for weaving).
    rabbi sperber’s point was that the sa codified the not eating of meat and wine based on an erroneous/corrupted copying of a text.

    Jerry4040 Yesterday 04:02 PM in reply to ruvie
    I’m not sure I understand your question. If there is a difference, it is likely because – judging from the Beis Yosef – the Mechaber thought one minhag was based on the Yerushalmi and the other was not.

    Jerry4040 Yesterday 04:09 PM
    The above is me, of course, but it’s not letting me post as a guest for some reason.

    – Jerry

    ruvie Yesterday 04:15 PM in reply to Jerry4040
    are you saying if the mechaber rejected the wine girsa then the weaving halacha would be be based on the yerushalmi – or did he based neither halachot on the yerushalmi)? if so the wording for weaving would be similar to meat and wine (which is similar to the way its worded in the yerushalmi).

    Jerry Yesterday 04:23 PM
    I don’t understand. The girsa in our printed Yerushalmi does not include more than one starting point. It just says from the beginning of Av.

    ruvie Yesterday 04:40 PM
    my error – you are correct. its the tur that first records the different timing of the minhag.

    Steve Brizel Yesterday 06:03 PM in reply to Jerry
    You have insinuated that anyone who disagrees with R D Sperber can simply be dismissed as not having read the relevant pages and footnotes in MY, which I can assure you is not the case . WADR, R D Sperber has always been exceedingly well regarded with his discussion of the development of Minhagim , especially in MY. However, to assert that R D D Sperber is regarded as a Posek, and a Posek of a caliber who can state that Baale Batim may disregard a Psak in th Mchaber -Lo Shamati Davar Zeh.

    Jerry Yesterday 09:59 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    “You have insinuated that anyone who disagrees with R D Sperber can simply be dismissed as not having read the relevant pages and footnotes in MY, which I can assure you is not the case.”

    I don’t know where you’re getting this from. The kind of people who I suspect of not having read relevant sources are the kind of people who make assertions that indicate a lack of familiarity with said source. I don’t care if you find Rabbi Sperber’s argument to be unpersuasive, but one needs to be familiar with, understand and appreciate the details of the argument before one dismisses it.

    “However, to assert that R D D Sperber is regarded as a Posek, and a Posek of a caliber who can state that Baale Batim may disregard a Psak in th Mchaber -Lo Shamati Davar Zeh.”

    Don’t be foolish.

    In any event, stop trying to avoid the issues: do you agree with Rabbi Sperber’s argument about the girsa? If not, then what exactly about his argument do you find to be wrong?

    Do you believe that the SA believed in the accuracy of both girsaot? If so, then how do you explain the Beis Yosef that clearly indicates that he does not, and that he paskens like the “wine” tradition on completely different grounds?

    At some point, your pontificating has to come to an end and you need to actually engage the relevant texts.

    Jerry Yesterday 10:00 PM in reply to Steve Brizel
    …And in your answer to my questions do not talk about psak, because, as has been repeatedly noted, Rabbi Sperber upholds the minhag of the SA.

    moshe shoshan Today 04:49 AM in reply to Steve Brizel
    there are a lot of things you have not heard of. As for rejecting this mechaber, I dont see how any posek can simply disregard such a broadly accepted and perfectly logical minhag with out some compelling need. But we are still wiaiting fora confirmation that Sperber actualy said this.

  3. Questions for Jerry:
    Didnt the Tur clearly have two girsaot? Doesnt this at least suggest that there were clearly two girsaot? Dint the Shulchan Aruch see the Tur?
    Didnt Rabbi. Sperber say that the pesak in the Shulchan Aruch was based on a misinterpretation of the Rishonim, implying that Rabbi Sperber also felt that that the Sulchan Aruch knew that there was an alternate girsa?
    If the shulchan Aruch had other sources for this minhag, so then why would R. Sperber say that this minhag was based on an error. It was based on a diferent source according to you?

  4. Guest 3 minutes ago
    Questions for Jerry:
    Didnt the Tur clearly have two girsaot? Doesnt this at least suggest that there were clearly two girsaot? Dint the Shulchan Aruch see the Tur?
    Didnt Rabbi. Sperber say that the pesak in the Shulchan Aruch was based on a misinterpretation of the Rishonim, implying that Rabbi Sperber also felt that that the Sulchan Aruch knew that there was an alternate girsa?
    If the shulchan Aruch had other sources for this minhag, so then why would R. Sperber say that this minhag was based on an error. It was based on a diferent source according to you?
    If the shulchan Aruch had other sources for this minhag, so then why would R. Sperber say that this minhag was based on an error. It was based on a diferent source according to you?

  5. Guest/Hirhurim (is this Gil?)

    1) Yes. And yes there were two versions of what the Yerushalmi said (with multiple versions of each). No one disputes that, and it is the entire raison d’etre for Rabbi Sperber’s essay. Rabbi Sperber’s contention is that one textual tradition developed (probably during the Geonic period – by the time it got to the Tur it was long since established) as a result of a mistaken understanding of what the Yerushalmi originally said. The SA saw the Tur, and seems to have opted for one girsa over the other, but retained both traditions.

    2) Of course the SA knew that there was an alternate girsa. And all indications from the Beis Yosef are that he rejected it, and upheld the minhag on other grounds (i.e. it’s since become accepted anyway so it has taken on the status of a neder even if, as the Rashba – quoted in the Beis Yosef – says, it has absolutely no source in the Talmud).

    3) The SA doesn’t have other sources for the minhag. There is only one source and that source, according to Rabbi Sperber, contains an errant reading. The SA has other reasons for upholding the minhag NOTWITHSTANDING the fact that he doesn’t think there is any basis for it to begin with (just read the Beis Yosef).

    Conclusion: read the Beis Yosef and see what you think!

  6. Jerry,

    One quick question, do you think the GRA is wrong ?

  7. jaded,

    Do you mean with regard to the source being R. Yishmael’s memra? Well…

    First of all, this is not about what I think. I – like everyone else here – am just trying to figure out what Rabbi Sperber thinks. And if that is not clear, I try to figure out what the most likely solution is.

    So to answer your question, why does it matter what “I” think? All I can tell you is what I told someone earlier who asked about the Gra: Rabbi Sperber would probably say that that is not a good source, based on the other memros in that sugya (which he uses to prove that the Amoraim and Tannaim did not have this custom).

    Furthermore, the Beis Yosef – if I recall correctly – also quotes someone who considers that source, and rejects it on the same grounds.

  8. I gave a shiur on this topic several years ago in shul, mostly based on RDS’s essay in MY. I could literally feel the spiritual fervor that everyone felt for the nine days leaving the room. More than a few ballei batim probably lost all their emunos chochomim at that fateful shalosh seudos, and I didn’t even use the words “minhag taut”. MY, far from the benign source of vortlech on where our kooky minhagim come from, MY is clearly dangerous and its contents should be kept from all but the most steadfast laypeople. This clearly excludes anyone living in Teaneck.

  9. Jerry,

    I’m not sure which memras and which passages, you (or R Lebowitz up above) are referring to, in both the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds.

    I don’t have a Minhag Yisrael in front of me( my bais medrash is in the process of being built) but doing a quick google search I came across this piece on YUTorah http://www.yutorah.org/_shiurim/The%20Nine%20days.html.

    According to “Rabbi YUTorah” ( i’m not sure who authored this piece ) the concept of minimizing rejoicing at the beginning of Av is based on the principle in the Mishna, Ta’anit 26b, “mishenichnas Av mema’atin b’simcha,.
    the piece also expounds on related concepts in
    Yevamot 43b,
    Ta’anit 4:6
    Ta’anit 26b
    Tur, Orach Chaim 551
    Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 551:
    Baba Batra 60b
    Biur HaGra, Orach Chaim 551:9,
    and others see here http://www.yutorah.org/_shiurim/The%20Nine%20days.html

    Does the RDS’s Minhag Yisroel address these sources.

    Whether or not Tanaiim Amoraim Rishonim Acharonim,tzadikim,bas levis,karaites or Piloniim refrained from particular activities is irrelevant or besides the point , I think .

    I would think that the focus would be on the underlying basis/common denominator (minimizing rejoicing on temple oriented activities kind of like what the Gra said should be “banned” all year) in the days leading up to the destruction of the temple, for those that miss the temple

    Or maybe its a jurisdiction thing (Jerusalem versus Babylonian).
    Perhaps the laws are different in Jerusalem, I wouldn’t know I’ve never been there.

    I for one miss the choshen.

  10. Jerry,
    I dont get you. I was in Rinat that Shabbat and Rabbi S said clearly that the “entire sif in the Shulchan Aruch is based on a fault.” Forget the article, his point to the crowd was – the Shulchan Aruch followed the Rishonim and they were in error. Isn’t that the problem here?! Wasn’t that the original point of this entire discussion – that Rabbi S advised people that a sif in the Shuclhan Aruch could be disregard as it was based on the error of the reishonim!! Why do you keep steering this discussion into other issues?

  11. guest123,

    Don’t you see what you’re doing? You take a statement (for the accuracy of which I am obliged to take your word) like “the entire sif in the SA is based on a fault” and interpret it as “Rabbi S advised people that a sif in the SA could be disregarded as it was based on the error of the reishonim!!”

    Don’t you see the difference between those two statements? One is descriptive while the other is prescriptive.

    …And in case this was not clear enough, Rabbi Sperber kindly resolves the mystery for us by upholding the minhag in his article.

  12. …My point being that it seems more likely, in light of his unambiguous written work (upon which this shiur was based), that your interpretation of his descriptive statement as a prescriptive statement is incorrect.

  13. i guess it sounds more likely, but too bad thats not what he said

  14. All he said – even according to you – is that the SA’s minhag is based on a mistake. That doesn’t have anything to do with whether we keep the minhag or not (and his article is proof of that). So I don’t really see your point.

  15. well did the SA quote a mistake or did he reject the other girsa as you have been maintaining based on beit yosef (even though earlier in Beit Yosef he quotes both girsas).

  16. The answer to your question is staring you in the face if you read the Beis Yosef. Basically: the tradition is based on a mistake, but it’s a mistake that has become accepted, so we keep it (i.e. it’s become a communal neder).

    Where in the Beis Yosef (give me an exact citation) does he quote both girsaos (not both minhagos…both girsaos)?

  17. Erm…minhagim

  18. In the Beit Yosef he writes both girsas. Although in our version of BY he writes יש אומרים or something like that, the footnoted edition notes that he is quoting from the Mordechai where the correct girsa is גורסין.
    So, yes, he has both girsas.

    here is the quote:

    בית יוסף אורח חיים סימן תקנא

    כתב רבינו שב”ט דהוא הדין כלים חדשים אסור לתקן בשבת שחל תשעה באב להיות בתוכה דגרסינן בפרק מקום שנהגו [ירושלמי] נשי דנהיגי דלא למשתי עמרא וכו’. כל ×–×” במרדכי בתחלת (מועד קטן) [הלכות תשעה באב] (תענית סי’ תרלג) וזה לשונו רשב”ט כתב ופסק דהוא הדין כלים חדשים אסור ללבשן ואסור לתקן ולהניח ובירושלמי פרק מקום שנהגו (פסחים ×””א) ×”× ×™ נשי דנהיגי דלא למשתי מדעייל אב מנהגא ויש לומר דלא למישתי חמרא אבל רבינו נסים גאון לא גריס חמרא ופירש לשון בשתי או בערב וכיון שהשתי אסור כל שכן תיקון בגדים וראוי להחמיר בזה אפילו מראש חדש

  19. Ah, but you’re quoting from the wrong place. In fact, the Beis Yosef here is quoting it only in the context of explaining why the other girsa is the correct one, and what the ramifications of that are for the “weaving” girsa. He doesn’t discuss any defense of that girsa, only those who reject it.

    If you check the proper place (i.e. the seif where he actually talks about the minhag not to eat meat/drink wine), you’ll see that he doesn’t quote it AT ALL. In fact, the only reference to this issue is his quote of the Rashba, who says it has not source bichlal in the Talmud. I’ll quote the entire relevant section:

    כתב הכל בו (שם ×›×”:) יש נמנעים מאכילת בשר משנכנס אב לפי שאין שמחה אלא בבשר ואף על פי כן אין להמנע מהתבשיל שנתבשל בו הבשר דלצעורי נפשיה קא מכוין והא איצטער ועוד דאמרינן בנדרים (נא:) הנודר מן הבשר מותר בתבשיל וכתב בשם ×””ר אשר (סי’ לו) שטעם הנמנעים מבשר ויין משבעה עשר בתמוז מפני שבו בטל התמיד וגם ניסוך היין בעונותינו (×¢×™×™’ ב”ב ס:) ומדברי המרדכי (סו”ס תרלט) שאכתוב בסימן שאחר ×–×” (רעט. ד”×” ומ”ש דבשר עוף) נראה שהנוהגים איסור מראש חדש או משבעה עשר בתמוז בבשר ויין אפילו בשר עוף או בשר מלוח ויין תוסס אסור ומיהו אם כשהתחיל לנהוג התנה שלא יאסר בבשר עוף וכיוצא פשיטא דלא נאסר בהם:

    וכן כתב הרמב”ן (אבילות ישנה ד”×” מתני’ משנכנס) יש מקומות שנוהגין וכו’ עד סוף הסימן. בתורת האדם (מהדו’ שעוועל עמ’ רמה) וזה לשון הרמב”ם בפרק ×”’ (×””ו) כבר נהגו כל ישראל שלא לאכול בשר בשבת זו ולא יכנסו למרחץ עד שיעבור התענית ויש מקומות שנהגו לבטל השחיטה מראש חדש עד התענית ×¢×›”ל וכתב על ×–×” הרב המגיד המנהג ×”×–×” לא פשט בארצות אלו לענין אכילת בשר שאין נמנעין אלא ערב התענית אבל אין נכנסין למרחץ ודבר ברור הוא שבדין גמור אפילו ערב תשעה באב מותרין לרחוץ ×¢×›”ל:

    כתב הרשב”א בתשובה (×—”א סי’ שו) נהגו אבותיכם נוחי נפש שלא לאכול בשר משנכנס אב ואע”פ שאין כאן איסור כלל מדין התלמוד שאפילו בערב הצום בסעודה שאין מפסיק בה מותר לאכול בשר ולשתות יין אפילו כן מי שאוכל בשר בכל המקומות שנהגו בו איסור פורץ גדרן של ראשונים ופורץ גדר ישכנו נחש (קהלת ×™ ×—, ×¢”×– ×›×–:) של דבריהם ×¢×›”ל:

  20. btw, professor sperber will be back in the states and speaking in lawrence (do not know where) in 2 weeks.

  21. Let me clarify a prior post re R D R Sperber, and which I think may explain the tone of R A Leibowitz’s post , especially the comments re his observations of the audience re their reaction to certain perspectives set forth in the shiur at issue.

    A number of years I purchased and devoured R D D Sperber’s Minhagei Yisrael.I found it a fascinating sefer on many issues that I never really considered as to their origins. I then eagerly helped assist in a lecture tour for RD D Sperber in a mumber of shuls in KGH.

    However, I then read how R D D S set forth positions on the freezing of halacha, women’s prayer groups, women’s aliyos and women’s ordination that struck me as very close to espousing and based on the same logic as CJ. The use of arguments such as how Kavod HaBriyos trumps Kavod HaTzibur, which I thought was very similar to the logic in allowing a person to drive to shul on Shabbos for Tefilah BTzibur and the cherry picking of historical exceptions that were based on the exigencies of the time to fashion a psak in favor of women’s ordination led me to very reluctantly and sadly came to a different POV. Namely, both R D D Sperber ( and in the same way Dr T Ross) had evolved from the mainstream of MO and RZ and had painted themselves into a corner where they now were viewed as giving intellectual credibility for otherwise untenable LW MO positions. I think that both of the Frimers would agree that the perspectives set forth by R D D Sperber and Dr T Ross have aided in the marginalization of their perspectives to the extent that they are regarded as representing the LW of MO and RZ in their writings, which is a tragedy for two persons with great knowledge in the area of the evolution of Halacha and Minhagim and Machshavah, but whose views have been coopted by that sector of LW MO that views all gender based differences to be minimalized and that views an academic POV as always superior to a position rooted in Mesorah.

  22. steve – are you now saying that r’ leibowitz comments has nothing to do with substance of r’ sperber’s lecture but on r’ leibowitz’s subjective opinion in where prof. sperber stands in the orthodox world?

  23. I think that R Leibowitz, who was present at the shiur, can tell us whether his comments and concerns were solely with the substance and tone of R D Sperber’s shiur and the comments of the audience. I do think that it is extremely difficult to divorce any Talmid Chacham’s opinion from where he is perceived to be in the Orthodox world, regardless of whether the Talmid Chacham is viewed as representing any sector of the the extreme Charedi POV or RZ/MO world.

  24. …And Steve Brizel has spoken.

    I’m sure you haven’t considered that perhaps reasonable people may disagree.

    I also am shocked with how casually and cavalierly you make these grandiose comparisons to CJ. Sadly it’s not as if this is a NEW low for you, so I guess I don’t have any right to be surprised.

  25. steve – i guess with that view that someone reading about the rav in the late 1970s would say first he went to unversity (what frum person is not influence by secular learning) then it was zionism (against all the gedolei hatorah’s viewpoints), then coed education (against our mesorah) and now teaching woman advanced gemerah (against meforash gemaras) – that all his teachings are now tainted? i guess that would be your pov.

  26. Jerry -Ain Haci Nami.I think that the comparison as to the logical jumps used is comparable to how CJ approached similar issues. You can disagree, but I think that the logic is quite similar.

    Ruvie-Think about which Charedi RY who were of the same age and even younger than RYBS went to college. RYBS was hardly the only RY of his time who went to college. It has been well documented that RYBS felt that what he did in Boston was required by the egigencies of the times and the community . RYBS never demanded that the entire Torah world agree with him on these issues. On Zionism, after WW2, RYBS felt and publicly stated that despite his family lineage the Hashgacha voted in favor of his vision of RZ, which the Charedi world never accepted. Obviously, the personal relationships that RYBS had with the CHaredi RY and for whom he raised funds, etc., did not carry forward to their successors. However, RYBS never bore a grudge with respect to this issue.

    In the real world, Gdolim have disagreed and continue to disagree with each other on matters of Halacha and Hashkafa. I agree that is wrong to engage in minimization of the accomplishments of any Gadol,but it is equally wrong to deny that a person’s evolution in one’s POV occurs over a lifetime.

    R D Sperber is hardly the only Talmid Chacham to have evolved in this way. Think of R D Silber.

  27. For anyone interested in how LW MO has utilized the methodology of CJ, see R G Rothstein’s articles at the RCA blog as well as the Frimers’ articles.

  28. I think Rabbi Aryeh Leibowitz was a bit tipsy when he did his research! 🙂 Article was entertaining … but light years from Emes!

  29. I appreciate R. Leibowitz’s explanation of his earlier comments, as below, but wish to point out that he has made a serious error in reporting R. Sperber’s conclusion:
    “Lastly, if my memory serves me correctly, R. Sperber clearly concluded that this minhag can be disregarded, as it is based on an error (this conclusion does not appear in his article, but then again, I remind you that we aren’t addressing his article, but rather his lecture). He did jokingly say that he is a vegetarian, so he won’t outright tell people to eat meat during the nine days. I would welcome someone else to contact him directly and ask him if he truly meant to imply such a far reaching conclusion. I will certainly take back this final criticism if he says that he did not mean to state this. However, if this is the case, I encourage him to use more care in the future as others present have told me that they too got this impression.”
    As the Co-chair of the Education Committee that invited him to lecture at our shul, I can attest to the simple fact that he clearly stated a different conclusion. He identified this minhag as a minhag ta-ut, but unambiguously stated that it should continue to be followed because it is harmonious with the atmosphere that we are trying to foster during the three weeks. So, in this matter, R. Leibowitz’s memory is somewhat faulty. Had R. Sperber in fact encouraged us to ignore the minhag, this would have indeed been a most contentious conclusion. He did not and therefore I remain very comfortable with the tone, tenor and conclusions reached in what was a most interesting lecture. The fact that several people chose to chuckle over a moment of typically British humor is not cause for a far-reaching critique of what was, in my opinion, an intellectually honest and riveting Torah lecture.

  30. David-

    Didn’t he also state immediately following the above statement that a minhag ta’ut can be disregarded? If so, connect the dots.
    As many of the commenters on this thread have said: it would be very troublesome if he actually stated it is a minhag ta’ut (and quite suprising). We appreciate you confirming this.

    Additionally, you yourself state that he said he it should be continued BECAUSE IT IS HARMONIOUS WITH THE ATMOSPHERE. In other words, even though it CAN be disregarded as a minhag ta’ut, it is a nice thing to continue. This is troublesome indeed.

  31. RIETS Guy: Rabbi Sperber said it in the context of explaining various categories of minhagim. He said: A Minhag Rah is one that contravenes halacha and should be abolished. A Minhag Shtut is simply silly, although perhaps not against halacha, and should probably be ignored. However, a Minhag Taut is neither of these and each such minhag needs to examined on its own merits. As R. Sperber is an acknowledged expert on minhag, I took this on its face value. It seems quite reasonable that this minhag, although based on a taut, be continued because of the atmosphere of the three weeks.

    Frankly, this thread points out how many lack the confidence to look dispassionately at minhagim from an intellectually honest perspective. All orthodoxies are conservative in nature and change is painful. However, intellectual honesty should be foremost and one ought not shrink from seeing things as they are lest they “shtehr” the community’s yirat shamayim. Censorship of intellectually honest facts are quite unlikely, in the short and long run, to increase anyone’s yirat shamayim – rather we run the risk of censorship promoting a decrease in faith.

  32. Four points to share, from someone who was listening closely at Rabbi Sperber’s lecture at Rinat regarding refraining from wine and meat during the Three Weeks:

    (1) Rabbi Sperber did not announce that the prohibition on drinking wine and eating meat was a minhag taut, he quoted both R’ Saadia Gaon and R’ Nissim Gaon as having clearly written that.

    (2) Rabbi Sperber clearly said that the minhag should nevertheless be kept and he noted that he was speaking as an academic researcher rather than as a community rabbi and explained the difference between the two.

    (3) Rabbi Sperber pointed out that the Talmud clearly says that one is allowed to eat meat on erev 9 Av, so there is clearly something funny going on with the evolution of the minhag.

    (4) Rabbi Sperber noted that the Shulchan Aruch also cites the prohibition on weaving.

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