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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.

517 comments

  1. nahum – Ruvie, you mean using the word “Savoraim” instead of “Stammim?”

    no i meant stamma’im. but in your mind it may be the same thing but in others it may not be. stamma’im is a social construct referring to those who theoretically redacted the talmud in its final form around the 7-8th century and put their stamp and tone in it. i would say we don’t know who they are and if they really existed – but somebody is responsible for 40% of the none attributable layer of the gemera – when we say “zug the gemera”.
    using the term savoraim i am not sure if you would agree with the above – stamma’im is newly minted academic term by halivni – and would probably date the editing process much earlier (rav ashi or ravina or slightly thereafter). we also no very little about these folks as well but assume they were the leaders – at least religiously – post amoraim and pre geonim.

  2. http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/religious-israeli-soldiers-have-found-a-new-form-of-disobedience-1.408057

    refusing to parachute if you have a women instructor in the army: – this will not end well – expect a total distrust of religious folks in the army by the non- religious if this continues. disobeying orders in the field or training should lead to automatic discharge

  3. From the article: “military regulations allow a religious soldier to ask for a male instructor instead of a female one”

  4. Was it Prof. Halivni who coined the term Stamaim? I don’t find it useful but then again I totally reject his approach to the Talmud.

  5. It is always sad to watch the inevitable train wreck caused by hubris. Do these “religious” soldiers (and, more importantly, their RYs) think they are exempt from the backlash that has finally enveloped the Charedi community?

  6. Satmar rabbis from opposing group reject peacemaking efforts with Belz:
    http://www.bhol.co.il/article.aspx?id=37044

  7. From the article on Schechter: “According to Schick, non-Orthodox day school tuition ranges from $12,000 to upward of $30,000 annually. In the New York area, the costs can climb even higher. At the Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan, for instance, tuition ranges between $34,600 and $36,700.”

    IH: I know very well who Prof. Halivni is.

    It is always sad to watch the inevitable train wreck caused by hubris.

    It seems to me that they were just insisting on their rights.

  8. The term “Stammaim” is just basically shorthand for a pretty uncontroversial notion: the Babylonian yeshivos that redacted the Talmud. Until the eventual rise of the later theory (which, by the way, Rav Sherira Gaon certainly was not aware of) that the redaction was a two-man job by Ravina and R. Ashi, this was (and for many still is) the simple notion of what happened. The case that Ravina and R. Ashi were not the redactors – aside from the fact that this idea only appears later (and no, that’s not what sof horaah means, or was understood by early figures like RSG to mean) – has been made empirically by Richard Kalmin.

    This is why harping on the point that “we don’t have any proof that people called ‘Stammaim’ existed, and no one mentions them” is completely ridiculous. No one, including Halivni (whose scholarship has other problems), has ever claimed that people called “Stammaim” existed. The term “Stammaim” is just an easy way of referring to the anonymous members of the Babylonian yeshivos that crafted the “Stamma d’Gemara.”

    That these yeshivos existed during the Talmudic period is beyond question (although how early or late during this period they existed is a hotly debated question in the most recent scholarship), and that they were responsible for redacting the gemara is essentially a sevara: the named amoraim were apparently not involved (Sherira Gaon simply knows this, and Kalmin can demonstrate empirically that this is almost surely the case), and the Gaonim already seem to have had it. This leaves the yeshivos, which, coincidentally (or not), the Stama d’Gemara seems to describe at various points (‘ayyen Jeffrey Rubenstein).

    The REAL question is not “did the ‘Stammaim’ redact the Talmud,” but, “who exactly were the Savoraim and what did they do?” This is a very complicated question, and without more data we really can’t know much. This is why scholars, trying to be as rigorous as possible, generally shy away from this question.

  9. Was it Prof. Halivni who coined the term Stamaim? I don’t find it useful but then again I totally reject his approach to the Talmud.

    When it first appeared, some scholars denounced the Brisk approach as “chemistry”, as it sought to analyze each Talmudic law by breaking it down into components, whereas a traditionalist approach focused more on the entirety of the laws.

    While the Brisker method has won acceptance in almost all yeshivas today, it has its opponents. These include Rabbi Avraham Yishayahu Karelitz (1878-1953) (known as the Chazon Ish […]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brisker_method

  10. Jerry: The term “Stammaim” is just basically shorthand for a pretty uncontroversial notion: the Babylonian yeshivos that redacted the Talmud.

    I disagree. The term “Stammaim” is shorthand for the people who distorted the sayings of Tannaim and Amoraim in order to promote their own views. That is very controversial, at least outside of academia.

  11. IH: When it first appeared, some scholars denounced the Brisk approach as “chemistry”, as it sought to analyze each Talmudic law by breaking it down into components, whereas a traditionalist approach focused more on the entirety of the laws.

    And therefore any new methodology is acceptable? Do you also accept Bible Codes, since the Brisker method met with initial opposition?

  12. The Israel Prize bio was in response to your question (which may or may not have been rhetorical):

    פיתח פרופ’ הלבני את שיטתו המיוחדת בדבר העריכה המסיבית של התלמוד הבבלי בדורות שלאחר האמוראים על ידי חכמים אלמונים – “סתמאים” לפי המונח שטבע הלבני.

  13. And therefore any new methodology is acceptable?

    One should accept the truth from whatever source it proceeds should accept the truth from whatever source it proceeds.

    Halivni’s shita is no less valid than the Brisker. They are both tools to understand the text. [Bible Codes is a different kettle of fish and a disingenuous analogy].

  14. Hirhurim on January 23, 2012 at 9:36 am
    From the article: “military regulations allow a religious soldier to ask for a male instructor instead of a female one”

    Hirhurim on January 23, 2012 at 9:51 am
    . . .
    It seems to me that they were just insisting on their rights.”

    Not so simple. Also from the same article:

    “On the face of it, the IDF’s regulations are vague enough to leave commanders a wide margin of discretion. The General Staff relies on the field officers’ judgment to solve problems that arise and avoid conflict. ”

    So it doesn’t sound like there is any absolute “right” here. Does anyone here have a better understanding of the “vague” rules than haaretz?
    In any case, I know personally (from female friends who were instructors) that religious men have had female instructors without incident for a while. If so, something has changed – either the IDF has stopped acceding to requests for male instructors like it used to, or soldiers have been making those requests more frequently or more inflexibly, or soldiers who used to be satisfied with a “we can’t make that work this time” now engage in disobedience. Or all of the above. Anyone know?

  15. Emma: You have to expect a certain amount of anti-religious spin in a Haaretz article. Not every religious soldier will insist on his rights, whether due to fear of repercussion or lack of concern over the specific issue. Perhaps the army is becoming less flexible, as it has become over soldiers leaving when women sing.

  16. IH: One should accept the truth from whatever source it proceeds should accept the truth from whatever source it proceeds.

    I agree. I am pro-Torah U-Madda.

    Halivni’s shita is no less valid than the Brisker. They are both tools to understand the text.

    I disagree. I think his method is entirely wrong and yields incorrect results.

  17. thank you professor jerry for your response. didn’t mean to set off this argument but rather trying to explain why stamma’im was a better description than savoraim to nahum’s query.

    gil – “The term “Stammaim” is shorthand for the people who distorted the sayings of Tannaim and Amoraim in order to promote their own views”
    i hoped i didn’t imply that. “distorted” is the wrong word and very disparaging. any redaction would including reworking of previous text depending on what form they have it in. certainly when it comes to aggadah one can see reworkings of previous texts and new meanings may occur (intentionally or not)- but distorting is so pejorative and unnecessary.

  18. IH,

    Each method must be judged on its merits and be subject to constant scrutiny. R. Gil has no less right to be skeptical as you are supportive. Saying “such and such” was also considered lousy and later accepted is not an argument – there are also many methods that were never accepted. כל מקרה לגופו

  19. ruvie,

    It may be disparaging, but that’s what a lot of textual scholars believe on this type of issue – not just regarding Jewish texts but other ancient works (Chinese texts, for instance).

  20. “some scholars denounced the Brisk approach as “chemistry”, as it sought to analyze each Talmudic law by breaking it down into components”

    If this refers to רידב”ז’s critic of “new darkei limud”, than it must be pointed out that Prof. Saul Lieberman claimed (and he’s right) that this refers to R. YY Reines’ shita.

  21. The CI was also not a fan of the Brisker method, to put it lightly. Then again, very few have taken up his derekh…

  22. “It is always sad to watch the inevitable train wreck caused by hubris.

    It seems to me that they were just insisting on their rights.”

    I assume that there are some participants on this blog who have served in the IDF. I’d be very interested in their views on the issue of the religious parachutists and female instructors.

  23. Yeedle – Dr. Benny Brown (in his bio of the Chazon Ish) agrees with you, as you probably know already.

  24. BTW, there was a review of Dr. Brown’s book in the latest Akdamot that argued that the CI was nowhere near as influential in his own time as once thought…

  25. Ruvie: Distortion is precisely what R Tucker proposes the Stam did to Rav Sheshes.

  26. “Or all of the above. Anyone know?”

    I don’t know, but I imagine this is a case of someone getting a “clever idea” to see what would happen, and getting paid to do so.

  27. “I disagree. The term “Stammaim” is shorthand for the people who distorted the sayings of Tannaim and Amoraim in order to promote their own views.”

    Heh?

  28. “Distortion is precisely what R Tucker proposes the Stam did to Rav Sheshes.”

    We see this all the time when rabbis say things people don’t understand how they could have said. The most recent Agudah convention was devoted to explaining how we pasken like Rav Elyashiv on reporting child molesters, while in practice doing the exact opposite of what he said. Apparently the sole motivation for this is because they sincerely could not believe that when he said “Go to the police, don’t ask a rabbi” he meant “don’t ask a rabbi,” so instead they say he meant “ask a rabbi if you need to ask a rabbi.”

    Why should we be surprised if in earlier periods this is what well-meaning people did with rabbinic statements they truly could not believe?

    I say that if Rav Sherira and the Rishonim had never told us about the Savoraim, people would be outraged by the suggestion that post-Talmudic sages dared lay their hands on the Talmud and insert their own material.

  29. Distortion is precisely what R Tucker proposes the Stam did to Rav Sheshes.

    You are putting a valence on “distortion” that R. Tucker has made clear was not intended, however.

    “Just because historical sensitivity enables us to give respect to R. Sheshet by fully understanding his view does not mean we should hold any less lofty the honor of the stama de-gemara. The goal is to hear *all* of those voices and to emerge with an appreciation for all the different views.”

  30. “Emma: You have to expect a certain amount of anti-religious spin in a Haaretz article. ”
    OK, so your claim is that the rule is clear and haaretz just said it is vague? But you, who know their bias, can read between the lines to find out what is what? Seems to me that hapeh she-asar hu hapeh she-hitir here, and there’s not much to say unless someone gives more information…

  31. To be more precise, Gil, you’re polemicizing against a very specific application of the notion that the Stama d’Gemara is, in itself, an opinion, similar to an Amora (as opposed to being JUST a “narrator” of sorts). Tosfos already knows this, as I’m sure you are aware (and in fact Tosfos does, albeit rarely, make the case that the Stama d’Gemara misunderstood an Amora – my nephew pointed out to me that this actually comes up in a major sugya in the first perek of Yevamos). And even pointing out that Tosfos knows this is true is actually redundant because EVERY rishon knows this is the case, and it’s really just self-evident.

    You object to a very specific application of this point, and maybe that invalidates that very specific application (or not). But it has nothing to do with the overarching methodological point.

    So I’m not sure exactly what part of my statement you disagree with. Do you disagree that “Stammaim” is shorthand for [the people responsible for the] Stama d’Gemara? Halivni says this b’ferush in several places (and it’s pretty obvious). What he does with that notion (or what R. Tucker does) is a completely separate issue.

  32. “I say that if Rav Sherira and the Rishonim had never told us about the Savoraim, people would be outraged by the suggestion that post-Talmudic sages dared lay their hands on the Talmud and insert their own material.”

    Well said!

  33. aiwac – “It may be disparaging, but that’s what a lot of textual scholars believe on this type of issue – not just regarding Jewish texts but other ancient works (Chinese texts, for instance).”

    if you have a better idea on how to understand and explain the issues with particulars i am open to hear. but i find the use of the methodologies quite useful in understanding aggadatah in the talmud (especially since many rishonim including rashi and tosafot are more or less silent) vs. how we teach it in the religious community (like skipping most aggadatah sections when learning gemera in many schools i attended) – an example would be kamtza bar kamtza story.

  34. I’m sorry, aiwac, but I find this juxtaposition funny:

    aiwac on January 23, 2012 at 10:17 am

    … Saying “such and such” was also considered lousy and later accepted is not an argument …

    aiwac on January 23, 2012 at 10:18 am

    … but that’s what a lot of textual scholars believe on this type of issue – not just regarding Jewish texts but other ancient works (Chinese texts, for instance). …

  35. S: There’s a difference between PR hacks and Torah giants. And frankly I don’t know enough details about the Agudah/Rav Elyashiv incident anyway. I don’t think blog posts are sufficient evidence of what was actually said or written.

    IH: He believes that Rav Sheshes would have allowed a Jew to write a bill of sale on Shabbos in order to purchase land in Israel and the “Stam” distorted that by placing it in the context of asking a gentile to write the bill of sale. Even if you respect both, you are still saying that the Stam distorted the position of an earlier authority.

  36. “– and would probably date the editing process much earlier (rav ashi or ravina or slightly thereafter). we also no very little about these folks as well but assume they were the leaders – at least religiously – post amoraim and pre geonim.”

    Question.

    The Talmud says that when the Mishna does not quote the name then it is the opinion of Rebbe (except when it isn’t), and the same is done with stam bereitot. Is there nobody pre 1970 who gave a name to the stam in the gemora, in the same fashion?

  37. Even if you respect both, you are still saying that the Stam distorted the position of an earlier authority.

    If you use a less dramatic word that “distorted” (e.g. re-interpeted) it is rather obvious this is standard Rabbinic methodology for many chiddushim.

  38. Jerry: My point was that the term Stammaim is closely associated with Prof. Halivni’s methodology. Those who reject his methodology generally do not refer to people who were Stammaim, even though there clearly must have been people who composed the Stama D’Gemara.

    There is a difference between taking an occasional method and turning it into a sweeping methodology that overturns the very text you are studying.

    Emma: OK, so your claim is that the rule is clear and haaretz just said it is vague?

    My claim is that someone can argue for his own rights even when that right is unclear. Doing so does not make him disingenuous or a troublemaker. However, we don’t even know whether that right really is unclear. All we know is that Haaretz has said it is unclear, which tells me that it is AT LEAST vague and may be very clear.

  39. IH: If you use a less dramatic word that “distorted” (e.g. re-interpeted) it is rather obvious this is standard Rabbinic methodology for many chiddushim

    It is certainly not obvious, other than to people who reject rabbinic methodologies and think they are cute mental gymnastics (i.e. outsider to the process). I welcome non-Orthodox Jews into these discussions but they have to understand that “insiders” actually believe these propositions.

  40. “how we teach it in the religious community (like skipping most aggadatah sections when learning gemera in many schools i attended) – an example would be kamtza bar kamtza story.”

    What are you referring to here? i.e, what does the “academic” model teach us about this story that doesn’t exist in a normal reading?

    I see I was greatly privileged to be forced to go to a community day school as a child, as we never skipped anything. Maharal (Malbim?) and Rav Nachman of Breslov have great understandings of the agadtah in many places.

  41. Gil — there you go again. Why can’t you respectfully disagree without de-legitimizing?

  42. “S: There’s a difference between PR hacks and Torah giants. And frankly I don’t know enough details about the Agudah/Rav Elyashiv incident anyway. I don’t think blog posts are sufficient evidence of what was actually said or written.”

    At least one of the relevant speeches was recorded. Furthermore, official Agudah policy is now according to the revisionist interpretation of Rav Elyashiv’s teshuva. Don’t forget that Agudah policy is set by America’s gedolim, not the PR hacks.

    Of course we don’t want to get sidetracked, but why not think about what I said about the Savoraim? If not for the fact that this is what happened, doesn’t it sound wrong that people would add their own material to the Talmud?

    Frankly I don’t know who the non-named voice in the Talmud is, the voice which speaks most of the time. For the sake of argument let’s say they were Torah giants (as opposed to fundraisers, which I’m told is how R. Hershel Schachter thinks of the ge’onim). But do you mean to tell me that you’ve never come across Torah giants explaining other Torah giants in ways which seem forced, seemingly motivated by disbelief that the source means what it says?

  43. IH: We can’t have an honest conversation if we don’t understand basic principles. I believe in Talmudic and halakhic methodologies. It isn’t “obvious” that they are false and I find such a claim to be religiously offensive, bordering on heretical if not crossing the line. As an outsider, you clearly did not understand that so I am explaining it to you. I apologize if you find that offensive. I was initially surprised that R Tucker did not recognize how offensive his methodology is to traditionally trained Orthodox Jews but, then again, neither was Prof. Halivni when he published his article in Tradition in the early 90s. There is a far distance between JTS and the traditional beis medrash.

  44. Gil “I was initially surprised that R Tucker did not recognize how offensive his methodology is to traditionally trained Orthodox Jews but, then again, neither was Prof. Halivni when he published his article in Tradition in the early 90s. There is a far distance between JTS and the traditional beis medrash.”

    That’s a joke. Half of the output of Tradition is offensive in a traditional beis midrash.

    (I think it was 1986, by the way.) – don’t put the blame all on Halivni. Wasn’t Rabbi Wurzburger the editor then (or was it Rabbi Feldman?) Didn’t he realize?

    Also, Halivni knows full well what a traditional beis medrash is like.

  45. S: At least one of the relevant speeches was recorded. Furthermore, official Agudah policy is now according to the revisionist interpretation of Rav Elyashiv’s teshuva

    All I’m saying is that I don’t have enough information to intelligently comment on or learn from the situation.

    Frankly I don’t know who the non-named voice in the Talmud is, the voice which speaks most of the time. For the sake of argument let’s say they were Torah giants (as opposed to fundraisers, which I’m told is how R. Hershel Schachter thinks of the ge’onim). But do you mean to tell me that you’ve never come across Torah giants explaining other Torah giants in ways which seem forced, seemingly motivated by disbelief that the source means what it says?

    Occasionally? Certainly. But is that the standard methodology of later scholars about earlier statements, as found multiple times on every page of Gemara? No. That is not at all how I read their discussions, even after recognizing the multiple layers. Again, Prof. Saul Lieberman strongly opposed Prof. Halivni’s approach to cutting up the Gemara.

    The comment about fundraisers is a quote from Rav Soloveitchik, in a conversation with Prof. Lieberman at, I believe, a bris.

  46. Isn’t it every time two Amoraim have a machlokes how to explain a mishna that one of them got it wrong (as per Rashi in Kesubos on אלו ואלו)? Does it mean that either of them ‘distorted’ the Mishna’s meaning?

  47. “Also, Halivni knows full well what a traditional beis medrash is like.”

    Although I grant that he may have forgotten. Someone told me that he apparently believes that his seforim are used in yeshivishe batei midrash.

  48. Perhaps I’m easily amused by hubris today, but the tone-deafness of Hirhurim on January 23, 2012 at 10:56 am is staggering.

  49. IH,

    I see your penchant for keeping tabs on what everyone wrote, ever, has gotten the better of you. The first quote refers to the attitude of religious students and the other to scholars. Apples and oranges most of the time.

  50. S: That’s a joke. Half of the output of Tradition is offensive in a traditional beis midrash

    Even if that is true, which I don’t think it is, that is entirely beside the point.

    I think it was 1986, by the way

    Yes, you are correct. Spring 1986 – link

    Also, Halivni knows full well what a traditional beis medrash is like

    I don’t doubt he does. The issue is whether he realized how offensive his approach is to the traditional beis medrash. He now knows but did he then? My guess is not, but I could be wrong.

  51. IH: You just don’t like it when I point out that you are Conservative. I’m not sure why you object but I think it is sometimes relevant to our discussions.

  52. Gil — I am less Conservative, than you are Charedi. Nu?

  53. ruvie,

    I was only commenting on what seems to be your unwillingness to accept the often sceptical, and yes, disparaging attitude towards ancient texts among (many, though by no means all) scholars.

    I was NOT commenting on whether the methodology is useful. I don’t know enough to make an informed comment on that issue one way or another.

  54. IH: I am not a Charedi, as I’ve stated and explained many times.

  55. And I’m not Conservative as I’ve stated and explained many times.

  56. Gil “All I’m saying is that I don’t have enough information to intelligently comment on or learn from the situation.”

    Like I said, we should not belabor the point. But extrapolating from what I said, surely this is not the only such example in the history of the world. Would you really disagree that there is a phenomenon whereby people just can’t believe or accept that Rabbi A said B, and they react by saying “Well, he meant B'” rather than saying “I disagree?”

    “Occasionally? Certainly. But is that the standard methodology of later scholars about earlier statements, as found multiple times on every page of Gemara? No. That is not at all how I read their discussions, even after recognizing the multiple layers. Again, Prof. Saul Lieberman strongly opposed Prof. Halivni’s approach to cutting up the Gemara.”

    Maybe I haven’t read enough academic Talmud, but I think that it is incorrect to say that Halivni believes that the entire story of the Stammaim is the story of how it misunderstood (intentionally or otherwise) the Amoraim.

    I also think the fact that you recognize that this happens occasionally is half the battle. Isn’t that enough for some to say that you said something borderline heretical?

    As for Lieberman, Rav Soloveitchik strongly opposed understanding a page of Gemara using the Church Fathers or the investigations in the Monatsschrift fuer Geschichte und die Wissenschaft des Judenthums. We can find people who oppose all kinds of methods, but we can also think for ourselves. I trust that you don’t accept the Halivni method because you’ve thought about it, not because Lieberman didn’t like it or do it that way.

    “The comment about fundraisers is a quote from Rav Soloveitchik, in a conversation with Prof. Lieberman at, I believe, a bris.”

    I don’t know, in the Rakeffet version it doesn’t mention that. But even if so, so what? If this is what someone believes, how do they make the unnamed people who composed the stam into Torah giants while the ge’onim are fundraisers?

  57. No, you’re a religious “hard pluralist”. Is that a better definition?

  58. IH: No, to my recollection this is the first time you’ve said that you are not Conservative. Maybe my memory is failing me here.

  59. aiwac — Jew works find for me.

  60. S: Would you really disagree that there is a phenomenon whereby people just can’t believe or accept that Rabbi A said B, and they react by saying “Well, he meant B’” rather than saying “I disagree?”

    No, I don’t disagree. But I don’t believe that it is particularly common.

    Maybe I haven’t read enough academic Talmud, but I think that it is incorrect to say that Halivni believes that the entire story of the Stammaim is the story of how it misunderstood (intentionally or otherwise) the Amoraim

    Take a look at Mekoros U-Mesoros. He sees it everywhere.

    We can find people who oppose all kinds of methods, but we can also think for ourselves. I trust that you don’t accept the Halivni method because you’ve thought about it, not because Lieberman didn’t like it or do it that way

    My only point is that opposition to the Halivni method is not necessarily a sign of ignorance.

    I don’t know, in the Rakeffet version it doesn’t mention that

    That is the Schachter version. My point there was simply to attribute it properly.

  61. Gil — your memory is failing, I’m afraid. Search in your archives.

  62. I was talking about your principled position, not your identity.

  63. “My claim is that someone can argue for his own rights even when that right is unclear. Doing so does not make him disingenuous or a troublemaker.”

    There is a conversation to be had about when “arguing” for rights can legitimately bleed into disobedience (in this context, essentially taking the “right” by force). There are certainly circumstances under which refusing to cooperate if a “right” is not met is, indeed, troublemaking. (even if its commendable troublemaking to some)

  64. avi – “what does the “academic” model teach us about this story that doesn’t exist in a normal reading?”

    the traditional model would explain the kamtza/bar kamtza as simply as a result of sinat chinam and that is the purpose of the whole long story. the academic model would analyze previous text and difference and wording and emphasis or the reworking of older texts into a sophisticated literary piece that ends up in the bavli (as well as where it ends up vs. yerushalmi). the sinat chinan part seems to be lost after the first couple of lines and has nothing to do with the ending of the story with the disparaging remarks of r’ yochanan by the redactors. its not for everyone.

  65. “Why can’t my girl be called to the Torah?”

    I think he has a valid complaint about the batmitzvah, but the obvious solution is to have her give the talk after the Torah reading or Musaf, and before Kiddush, like most US shuls do.

  66. aiwac — I have no interest in labels, but a Google search of your term did no yield a definition with which I agreed in either principle or identity. But, if you want to play, I can analyze you 🙂

  67. “the traditional model would explain the kamtza/bar kamtza as simply as a result of sinat chinam and that is the purpose of the whole long story.”

    I must have learned it non-traditionally then, because I was taught much more to the story than basic sinat chinam. And the end of the story as it related to the story of the zealots forcing the people to starve to death and fight the Romans seems obvious without any academic approach to me.

    But do you have a link, because I’m be curious to see what the “comparison of texts” can reveal, that the story as written, with some familiarity of agadath in general, does not.

  68. aiwac-“ruvie, I was only commenting on what seems to be your unwillingness to accept the often sceptical, and yes, disparaging attitude towards ancient texts among (many, though by no means all) scholars.”

    ? unwillingness?

  69. Yeah, not interested.

  70. S.: “Would you really disagree that there is a phenomenon whereby people just can’t believe or accept that Rabbi A said B, and they react by saying “Well, he meant B’” rather than saying “I disagree?””

    Which is actually what’s happening every single time in the Gemara when there’s an אוקימתא by an Amora, when that Amora is in dispute with another Amora. (Again, as per Rashi in Kesubos on אלו ואלו). According to the disputing Amora (for example רבא or אביי on יאוש שלא מדעת) the אוקימתות made by the other Amora is a ‘distortion’ of what the Tanna said. Why can’t the same be true for stama degemara?

  71. “Also, Halivni knows full well what a traditional beis medrash is like

    I don’t doubt he does. The issue is whether he realized how offensive his approach is to the traditional beis medrash. He now knows but did he then? My guess is not, but I could be wrong.”

    This discussion is amusing. Halivni, by virtue of his age, birthplace, and early training, has more “traditional beis midrash” street cred than anyone commenting here. If he didn’t “realize how offensive his approach is” (which I don’t know whether he did or not), then it is probably worth at least a millisecond of consideration that his approach is not, in fact as “offensive” as you ssy, and/or that perhaps you have mischaracterized it as more “offensive” than it is…

  72. Yeedle: They are trying to determine exactly what, and in what context, the Tanna made his statement. One or the other might be right. The Halivni approach is that both are wrong and we have to take the original statement at face value without asserting any kind of context that is not immediately apparent.

  73. “The Halivni approach is that both are wrong and we have to take the original statement at face value without asserting any kind of context that is not immediately apparent.”

    Usually, the disputant with the Amora making the אוקימתא asserts no context that is not immediately apparent. If Halivni claims that אוקימתות are ‘distortions’, he is just taking Rashi’s explanation of a Machlokes a bit further, by claiming that an אוקימתא was only a theoratical explanation, not an historical.

  74. An Ukimta is precisely the assertion of a context. In the Rav Sheshes example, it is an assertion that Rav Sheshes was speaking in the context of Amirah Le-Akum, perhaps in the middle of a lecture on the subject, and only his exact words (or an attempt to approximate them) were quoted which do not readily convey the full context.

  75. avi – see jeffrey rubenstein’s books – his first one – talmudic stories has the analysis of kamtza/bar kamtza i think – Talmudic Stories: Narrative Art, Composition, and Culture. his introduction is the best synopsis of the academic history of aggadatah and where we are today – simply excellent and easily readable to an am haaretz like myself). i do not think he does an academic study vs traditional – ala kugel – but its easy to see the difference (see the maharsha i think)

    a powerpoint (not by rubenstein but close enough)
    :www.reutinstitute.org/shiur%2014%20tisha%20beav.ppt

    for a critue of this approach see gafni’s review: http://thetalmudblog.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/gafni-continues-the-debate/

  76. Abba's Rantings

    AVI:

    “the obvious solution is to have her give the talk after the Torah reading or Musaf, and before Kiddush, like most US shuls do.”

    in most US shuls? i doubt it.

  77. “An Ukimta is precisely the assertion of a context.” – and this is precisely what the Amora that’s mechulak doesn’t assert.
    If Ukimtos of Amoraim are not necessarily true, why do we have to posit so for stama degemara? Just because it is without a name? Suppose the Gemara would say (in R. Sheshes’ case) something like “תרגמה ר’ פלוני באמירה לעכו”ם”, would you agree that this is not necessarily the original meaning of R. Sheshes?

  78. “in most US shuls? i doubt it.”

    I’ve never seen a US shul that gives a dvar torah after Kiddush.

  79. Ruvie,
    Thanks, but the
    http://www.reutinstitute.org/shiur%2014%20tisha%20beav.ppt link doesn’t seem to work for me.

    Does that powerpoint talk about kamtza/bar-kamtza? Cause that’s all I’m asking about at this point. I’ve read that aggadatah many times, and study it every year, which is why my interest has been perked.

  80. Yeedle: If Ukimtos of Amoraim are not necessarily true, why do we have to posit so for stama degemara?

    If I can restate, if Rav Papa disagrees with Rav and Abaye, maybe Rav Papa is also wrong and Prof. Halivni is right. Is that what you mean?

  81. aiwac – “disparaging attitude towards ancient texts among (many, though by no means all) scholars.””

    maybe lack of the reverence that is exhibited in some parts (or many) of the religious world. disparaging is for the earlier days – 100 years ago of scholarship not in general today (since many of the folks are religious and are not looking idologically to to do harm). to be an academic one must view it as texts – and just simply that. let the truth shine from whatever it may (or at least this version of perceived truth).

  82. “Yeedle on January 23, 2012 at 10:18 am

    “some scholars denounced the Brisk approach as “chemistry”, as it sought to analyze each Talmudic law by breaking it down into components”

    If this refers to רידב”ז’s critic of “new darkei limud”, than it must be pointed out that Prof. Saul Lieberman claimed (and he’s right) that this refers to R. YY Reines’ shita.”

    I think that what was referred to was the position of the מרחשת re R. Chaim Brisker’s derech.

  83. ruvie,

    I said many, not all. Your response doesn’t obviate this.

  84. “This discussion is amusing. Halivni, by virtue of his age, birthplace, and early training, has more “traditional beis midrash” street cred than anyone commenting here. If he didn’t “realize how offensive his approach is”

    Street cred? You can throw “street cred” away but subsequent life choices and actions. He has no street cred! And if he believes his seforim are found in a traditional bais medrash, well, there was a bridge to sell him but its now somewhere in the Arizona desert….

  85. avi – yes its about kamtza/var kamtza and my apologies for not copying and pasting correctly:

    [PPT]
    Slide 1 – Reut Institute
    http://www.reut-institute.org/shiur%2014%20tisha%20beav.ppt

    or http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CC8QFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.reut-institute.org%2Fshiur%252014%2520tisha%2520beav.ppt&ei=IaIdT_X4G4vwggfgifXkCw&usg=AFQjCNHE7G8xQZCY8-_QLwBk54KpKfEOdA

    or – google jeffrey rubenstein,reut institute

    for a book review and analysis see below plus there is a link to an article by shamma freidman that may be helpful
    http://www.case.edu/artsci/jdst/reviews/Stories.htm

  86. on the academic study of talmud being in used in yeshivas: worth reading before arguing. and i don’t think r’ bingman disparages the talmud text (aiwac and gil)

    David Bigman, “Finding a Home for Critical Talmud Study”, The Edah
    Journal 2:1
    http://www.edah.org/backend/JournalArticle/bigman2_1.pdf

    Rabbi David Bigman, Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshivat Ma’ale Gilboa, writes:

    Our method for learning Talmud can be summarized in the
    following question: “What is it saying, and what is it saying?”.
    Through defining these terms we will see that the method consists
    of 1) identifying the different layers of the Talmudic sugya, 2)
    reading each layer in its own context, and 3) evaluating what
    values are reflected by each particular statement and the larger
    editorial structure of the sugya.
    In the course of identifying original voices, the learner should
    utilize the wide corpus of manuscripts… the linchpins of our
    method are paying attention to the strata of the text and reading
    each stratum in its own context, without the comments or
    qualifications of later voices. Reading an Amoraic source in the
    dressing given to it by the stam prevents the learner from
    understanding the amora himself. It further shrouds perception of
    just what was bothering the stam and what legal or conceptual
    development he heralded. The same is true regarding amoraic
    extensions of tannaitic sources and Rashi’s commentary on the
    “final” text. Reading the Talmud synchronically misunderstands
    the genre and loses the nuances, or even the entire thrust, of many
    of Hazal’s voices.

  87. ruvie, thanks again, worked this time.

  88. R. Bigman makes a good point (I believe R. Brandes does similar work). I’d be interested in seeing what he’s done with this…

    Again, I’m not saying EVERYONE who does this is disparaging or that the method is illegitimate. The potential for contemptuous irreverence or reductionism does exist, though, and it needs to be guarded against if this is to be used in the Beit Midrash, as it is w/R. Bigman and Brandes.

  89. BTW, Prof. Yaacov Katz once made the following quip on the subject:

    כשם שאסר לנו את ביקורת המקרא, כן התיר לנו את ביקורת התלמוד

  90. “If I can restate, if Rav Papa disagrees with Rav and Abaye, maybe Rav Papa is also wrong and Prof. Halivni is right. Is that what you mean?”

    Not wrong or right, just possibilties of interpretation. We must be open to the idea that there can be many interpretations to a statement by an Amora or Tanna, stama digemara notwithstanding. And not just Halivni, but כל מה שתלמיד ותיק עתיד לחדש.

  91. “I think that what was referred to was the position of the מרחשת re R. Chaim Brisker’s derech.”

    I don’t think the מרחשת used the term “chemistry”. The רידב”ז, OTOH, did.

  92. Hirhurim on January 23, 2012 at 11:15 am
    “IH: I am not a Charedi, as I’ve stated and explained many times.”
    IH on January 23, 2012 at 11:16 am
    “And I’m not Conservative as I’ve stated and explained many times.”

    IH- As a chareidi, I can think of a bunch of things that make R Gil not chareidi.
    1) He supports Torah U’mada and -gasp!- actually thinks R Norman Lamm is a good person.
    2) He is not at all a fan of the ‘Kollel for all’ policy.
    3) He is not a big fan of the ‘Gadol Hadol for all of judaism’ idea, as evidenced by his post “Just who do we think we are?”
    4) He’s against bans, and in fact is one of the biggest individual ban-flouters by distributing RNS’s books.
    5)He’s willing to have the “contrivance” inventor (as in controversy or contrivance) R Michael Broyde as an honored guest poster on his blog.
    6) And he certainy wrote himself out of the community by writing the “3 heroic drug smugglers” post, instead of duly participating in the community wide Love Affair with ‘the bochrim in Japan’.

    I’ve read alot of your comments, and it’s hard for me to see any real differences, between you and right wing conservative (possibly due to the fact that I know much less about you and C). Do you mind clearly spelling out some differnces,(or pointing to them)?

  93. So, perhaps R. Tucker picked up his methodology from his RY, R. Bigman, rather than Gil’s guilt by association that led him to assume it was from Prof. Halivni. And perhaps this has all been a wild goose chase…

  94. What is the motivation behind academic-style Talmud study by religious Jews? Why, for instance, do we learn the Bavli at all and not the Yerushalmi or other texts? The most straightforward answer I’ve ever heard is that halacha comes from the Bavli and by learning it we learn facts, attitudes, and methods needed to understand and decide halacha. Academic Talmud methods, so different in assumptions and results from the methods of the rishonim and achronim, would seem to have little relevance to halacha. Academic Talmud would thus be akin to Yerushalmi study – legitimate, perhaps even more “lishma” in a sense than traditional study, but quite low on the list of priorities for almost all Jews. In short, academic Talmud may well be true, but is it really relevant?

  95. Shlomo,

    If you’re talking about text criticism, then it’s only relevant for the really intellectually curious or people who want to enjoy fruit that is forbidden in standard batei midrash.

    OTOH, the historical information and context provided by academic Talmud can make for some very enlightening Talmud Torah.

  96. Shaul — I have never had any association with Conservative Judaism in any way, shape or form.

    As I have relayed before, I was educated in 1970s MO yeshivot and our regular family shul was this Rabbi’s shtiebel: http://kevarim.com/rabbi-moshe-steinberg/#more-1637. My hashkafa is closest to 1970s Modern Orthodoxy as it has evolved into today’s Partnership Minyanim.

    The point of my response to Gil is that while I think he may share ideas/behaviors with Charedim, he does not identify as Charedi. Similarly, you may think I share some ideas/behaviors with “right wing conservative”, but I do not identify as one.

  97. IH: So, perhaps R. Tucker picked up his methodology from his RY, R. Bigman, rather than Gil’s guilt by association that led him to assume it was from Prof. Halivni. And perhaps this has all been a wild goose chase…

    I have no idea where this comment is coming from. There is no guilt and no association. Prof. Halivni’s name only came up in conjunction with the term Stammaim — and you’re the one who demonstrated the connection!

  98. Re academic talmud in its various colors, isn’t it really just self-selecting? Most people don’t know or care or want to know about it, and those who wind up getting into it do so out of curiosity, either of the genuine or morbid kind.

  99. I have no idea where this comment is coming from.

    As a reminder, your response to:
    Ethan Tucker on January 19, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    was:

    Hirhurim on January 19, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    For objections to this approach to the Talmud, see this post (from 7 years ago!): https://www.torahmusings.com/2004/12/academic-study-of-talmud-2/

    As for today’s discussion, it was between S. and yourself.

  100. Which has nothing to do with Conservative Judaism or Prof. Halivni

  101. Which has nothing to do with Conservative Judaism or Prof. Halivni

    Really? That’s the essence of your 7 year old post, no? Or is my Section III different from yours?

  102. IH: Really? That’s the essence of your 7 year old post, no? Or is my Section III different from yours?

    That post does not say anything about academic Talmud study being Conservative.

  103. Let me state that I wasw at conference with some of the leading Talmud scholars in the room and Prof. Halivni started ralking about how the amoraim didnt understand the tanaaim and Stamaim didn’t understand the amoraim. Everyone in the room was trying to contain smirks and smile because no one but him really thinks that. I think most scholars understand this apparent disconect between different layers of the mesorah in terms of the the idea attirbuted to the GRA that the Chazal often usethe tools of frash, not peshat in their interpretation of earlier sources.

  104. R. Shoshan,

    Why is Halivni so strident on this?

  105. IH,

    R. Tucker almost certainly picked up much of his methodology from Rav Bigman, but it’s also the case that Rav Bigman has great respect for Professor Halivni.

  106. moshe shoshan – would you agree that one can use the methodologies of academic study of talmud on its own to understand the talmud (or certain sugyot that are difficult) without saying what halivni said? and hence, its usefulness overall to those want to use these methods alongside their learning? the statemnent of gil’s :

    “The issue is not recognizing layers but saying that the later layer was wrong” is what set off the discussion on academic study of talmud which i think is an incorrect statement as well as his analysis from 7 years ago.

  107. also my use of stamma’im which i only use to refer to the redactors of the talmud since no other words really work for me which nahum objected – and was incorrect (imho) in using savoraim (which may or may not be the same people but who knows).
    i think we are now going in circles and there seems to be a comprehension problem in this area as well.

  108. S wrote in part:

    “I say that if Rav Sherira and the Rishonim had never told us about the Savoraim, people would be outraged by the suggestion that post-Talmudic sages dared lay their hands on the Talmud and insert their own material”

    However, since we know avout the Savoraim via Ra Shereira and the Rishonim ( see Ritva re the initial sugya in Kiddushin), the same is purely hypothetical.

  109. IH wrote in part:

    “My hashkafa is closest to 1970s Modern Orthodoxy as it has evolved into today’s Partnership Minyanim”

    I never realized that the 1970s MO that I also encountered at YU had evolved in such a manner.

  110. AIWAC wrote:

    “OTOH, the historical information and context provided by academic Talmud can make for some very enlightening Talmud Torah”

    Would you recite Birkas HaTorah prior to reading the same? Would you say that it is a Cheftzah Shel Torah that was written Lishmah?

  111. Steven,

    Let me turn that around – would you bring any of the following for your study in a Bet Midrash:

    – An article or book on the social and demographic realia of the Mishna and/or Talmud
    – A scholarly dictionary that explains the root concepts and origins of Aramaic words used in the Talmud
    – An archaeological excavation report of towns and cities mentioned in the Mishna and/or Talmud

  112. I never realized that the 1970s MO that I also encountered at YU had evolved in such a manner.

    Steve — Perhaps your not realizing this is a problem caused by labeling “Conservative” that with which one doesn’t agree.

  113. AIWAC-I would certainly consider the use of
    “a scholarly dictionary that explains the root concepts and origins of Aramaic words used in the Talmud”, if the author was a Talmid Chacham committed to the Mesorah of TSBP.

    The other two categories strike me IMO as akin to data as to what the Amoraim had for breakfast and supper, and would be viewed as wholely external to my understanding of TSBP as formulated by the words of Chazal, and the commentaries of the Rishonim and Acharonim.I would not consider the other two categories as relevant to aiding my Yiras Shamayim, especially if and when the author would suggest that based on his or her understanding of social and demographic realia or archaelogical data, that Chazal, Rishonim and Acharonim were R”L all wrong in their transmission of TSBP, and Halacha.

  114. IH wrote:

    “I never realized that the 1970s MO that I also encountered at YU had evolved in such a manner.

    Steve — Perhaps your not realizing this is a problem caused by labeling “Conservative” that with which one doesn’t agree”

    WADR, CJ has long since ceased to have any allegiance to Halachic observance even in JTS, and you set forth the description of MO as evolving to partnership minyanim. Take a look at your own posts on a wide variety of issues-anyone who is even remotely more RW than yourself, you view as either Charedi or imitating Charedi values.

  115. Steve — 1970s Modern Orthodoxy evolved in multiple directions.

    You are correct that when I first started posting on Hirhurim, I viewed RWMO hashkafa as alien to the MO in which I grew up; but, I have listened and learned from the discussions and I no longer say (or believe) this. Nor do I agree with that hashkafa, though.

    Are you now willing to make the same concession that while you continue to disagree with them, Partnership Minyanim are a legitimate expression of those within Modern Orthodoxy for whom reconciling the role of women in halachic Judaism is a core value?

  116. “AIWAC-I would certainly consider the use of
    “a scholarly dictionary that explains the root concepts and origins of Aramaic words used in the Talmud”, if the author was a Talmid Chacham committed to the Mesorah of TSBP.”

    קבל את האמת ממי שאמרה? If it’s true, and it helps your understanding in Torah – why does it matter who authored it?

  117. steve b. – did you ever have a jastrow dictionary? does that meet your qualifications?

  118. Abba's Rantings

    Yeedle:

    “If it’s true, and it helps your understanding in Torah – why does it matter who authored it?”

    because if the author doesn’t have the right frumkeit credentials how can you be sure it’s true? i mean even assuming no malicious intent, surely the fact that someone isn’t frum indicates there is a disconnect in their hashkafic thought process that could subconsciously infect their scholarship.
    and of course if one does not become there is something lacking intellectually to begin with that renders that work academically suspect

  119. to those who want to understand the implications of academic studies on halacha – whether there are any – please see the footnote from r’ bingman’s article that i posted earlier:

    “The academic Talmudists I know who actively engage the religious question steadfastly deny any applicability of their studies to halakhah. This position seems naive to me. If one thinks of one’s learning at all in truth constructs, it is hard for it not to affect one’s evaluation of halakhic positions, either in the direction of decision-making or, if not, in the direction of dissonance-building. Briskers often maintain the independence of their haqirot from practical halakhah as well, but this is equally illusory. Perusal of Rav Herschel Schachter’s book Nefesh ha-Rav will illustrate this point sufficiently. ”

    i believe that he is correct but it may not happen often and only if a posek (not an academic) picks this derech halimud in a sugya that is critical to applying an halacha (that is different from what previously was believed that the sugya meant). but i think this is why people like gil have an issue with this – afraid of consequences (and maybe for other reasons as well).

  120. Ruvie: but i think this is why people like gil have an issue with this – afraid of consequences (and maybe for other reasons as well)

    Or you can take me at my word — that I believe the methodology is inherently mistaken.

  121. gil – i will believe it when you have some substance to the post and address the subject properly with some detailed analysis. til then we will agree to disagree. there is also nothing wrong in saying or admitting your hashkafa also brings you to this view. i am too tired at this point to go in circles.

  122. I wrote about the subject 7 years ago, ayen sham.
    https://www.torahmusings.com/2004/12/academic-study-of-talmud-2/

  123. gil – i already p[osted about that the other day – not convincing with very little substance – ayain sham.

  124. It was intended to describe, not convince.

  125. It is/was a partial description based on out-dated information. Perhaps time for a new one, including the views of R. Bigman and more inclusive of the breadth of scholarship that makes up “Academic Talmud”.

  126. I don’t see what R. Bigman offers that is different from Prof. Halivni.

  127. A less easy target for those who want to put “Academic Talmud” beyond the pale of Orthodoxy 🙂

    But, more important is the breadth of scholarship — e.g. Rubenstein, Boyarin and the new generation represented on http://thetalmudblog.wordpress.com/

  128. Hirhurim: “My point was that the term Stammaim is closely associated with Prof. Halivni’s methodology. Those who reject his methodology generally do not refer to people who were Stammaim”

    This is demonstrably false. This sounds like the caricature of a field with which you’re unfamiliar. Referring to “Stammaim” is pretty much standard in the field of Talmudics, even for the MANY scholars that disagree with Halivni’s scholarship.

    Again, you’re simply polemicizing against a very specific application of a methodology that by itself is unobjectionable and uncontroversial. As for whether the fact that it’s used more frequently by certain scholars than by Tosfos seems pretty irrelevant. That’s the point of being mechadesh. If they only did exactly what Tosfos did, you’d complain that it’s pointless since the Rishonim already did it.

    As for how often Halivni posits the Stam “distorting” earlier strata in the Bavli, you’re obviously not that familiar with Halivni’s Mekoros u’Mesoros (he does this much less frequently than you imply). Also, you’re reading him very uncharitably. Sometimes he does think the Stam misunderstood earlier amoraim, but Tosfos says this as well. But other times, his point is that the Stam recast an earlier amora’s statement to make a certain point (even if the Stam knew what the original point was). And other times his point is that the Stam is supplementing the earlier amora’s point (even if the supplementary material was not explicit in the original amora’s view). There are other nuances to his position as well. You’re rather crudely amalgamating all of this into one big ball of “distortion” in order to make him look krum.

    I don’t mean to imply, by defending Halivni here, that I agree with his approach or endorse his work. I don’t generally agree with him. It’s important to point out, however, that you are “distorting” Halvini’s approach by characterizing it in a very broad, unsophisticated and uncharitable way.

    You’re right to say that just because you disagree with Halivni doesn’t make you ignorant. But denying that there are strata within the Gemara, or that there is a Stam that is (to the X degree) different from the amoraim is quite simply incorrect.

  129. Moshe Shoshan:

    I’ve had similar experiences when I’ve been at some of Halivni’s academic presentations. This aspect of his perspective is very much out of style in academia. And yet the same people who scoff at Halivni still refer to “Stammaim,” which I think demonstrates that Gil is wrong to state that simply using the term “Stammaim” proves one is a Halivni-ite.

  130. Hirhurim: “I don’t see what R. Bigman offers that is different from Prof. Halivni.”

    Now THIS is ignorant.

  131. Jerry: Thank you for the brief update on the field of academic Talmud. I suggest you are being overly precise. We are having a casual conversation here. Are you suggesting that the term Stammaim is regularly used by those outside of Talmudic criticism? I don’t think that is correct. I don’t know much about the field beyond Halivni and S. Friedman but I have already voiced my approval of identifying layers within the text and my disapproval of building a methodology on disagreeing with later layers.

    I’m not aware of R. Bigman’s significance in the field of Talmud study. Aside from his paper in the Edah Journal and his recent book on the parashah, what has he published that I can read?

    How would you classify R Ethan Tucker’s suggestion in the Forward that Rav Sheshes really permitted buying land in Israel on Shabbos but the Stam changed it to only through a gentile? Is that Bigmanesque, Halivniesque, something Tosafos might say or otherwise?

  132. Sorry, I haven’t been around today so I may have missed it, but when you are learning the gemara and a nameless voice is speaking, what do you call it?
    KT

  133. Jerry – ” I don’t generally agree with him.” – who do you agree with or writings you would recommend for reading. If you do not mind sharing.

  134. Hirhurim: “Thank you for the brief update on the field of academic Talmud.”

    I’m not sure whether this is facetious or not, but you’re welcome (I think).

    Hirhurim: “We are having a casual conversation here.”

    I understand, and I agree that there’s such a thing as too much detail. But you’re dismissing a scholar’s entire life’s work in addition to pasuling an entire field that is MUCH broader (and that is mostly in disagreement with that scholar) on that basis. People generally use the term “casual dismissal” in a negative sense because it’s understood that whatever else might be said about a subject on a casual level, dismissing it wholesale is imprudent.

    Hirhurim: “I don’t know much about the field beyond Halivni and S. Friedman.”

    I know you don’t like Halivni. I’m unconvinced by much of what he says. But Shamma Friedman is a MUCH more careful scholar than Halivni (and also has critiqued Halivni’s views on several occasions – and I’m aware of at least one place where he specifically calls out Halivni’s simplistic characterization of the “Stammaim”). I heard one fellow that Rav Schachter brings into YU on occasion to give shiur speak very approvingly of his work.

    Hirhurim: “my disapproval of building a methodology on disagreeing with later layers”

    I don’t know exactly what this means. I guess you’re referring to Halivni pointing out that the Stam misunderstood the amoraim/tannaim. As Moshe Shoshan pointed out, this is very much not in vogue today among scholars. The field is simply moving in much different directions (ones with which I think you would actually be comfortable if you took the time to get to know them!), and Halivni’s occasionally zero-sum approach to things (either the Stam is right or stupid) doesn’t really appear too much among the current crop of scholars.

    Of course, transmission history is still an important part of the field, but when it’s employed – at least as far as I’ve seen – it’s voiced with much less strident rhetoric than it used to be in the “good ‘ol days,” and it’s also a smaller part of a bigger whole. And there are many more scholars today who are interested more in intellectual history, rather than transmission history (i.e. rather than asking what the Stam got wrong, they ask how did rabbinic ideas and values develop?).

    Hirhurim: “I’m not aware of R. Bigman’s significance in the field of Talmud study. Aside from his paper in the Edah Journal and his recent book on the parashah, what has he published that I can read?”

    I don’t know what R. Bigman has published or where, but I’ve been to several of his Gemara shiurim both in Israel, and when he comes to America. I believe Rabbi Jeremy Wieder asks him to give guest shiurim to his shiur sometimes. Maybe you can ask him.

    I’m not sure he’s significant in academia. In fact I’m sure he’s not. He’s a ram in a yeshivah and that’s pretty much the extent of it. I’m not sure he’s popular enough to be a “force” in Talmud study as someone else suggested. But he’s certainly holding, and neither his style nor content is ANYTHING like Halivni.

    Hirhurim: “How would you classify R Ethan Tucker’s suggestion in the Forward that Rav Sheshes really permitted buying land in Israel on Shabbos but the Stam changed it to only through a gentile? Is that Bigmanesque, Halivniesque, something Tosafos might say or otherwise?”

    I confess I haven’t read it, which is why I haven’t opined on it. My guess would be that R. Tucker has an ideological axe to grind, so I wouldn’t get too bothered by him. If the article is really as objectionable as you say, then my response would be that you shouldn’t judge an entire methodology by the people who abuse it. ‘Ayyen S’s point above about R. Elyashiv.

  135. Ruvie: “who do you agree with or writings you would recommend for reading.”

    Depends what you’re interested in!

  136. Lawrence Kaplan

    I’d read Rav Shagar.

  137. Jerry – i am more interested in the academic study of aggadah than halacha and have enjoyed rubenstein, kalmin and others. Would appreciate who you think is best in both fields( or which articles or books are key). Thanks again.

  138. Maybe you’d enjoy Levinson’s “HaSippur she’lo Suppar.”

  139. Jerry,

    Thanks for a very interesting and enlightening discussion. I feel much more at ease now about the field.

    I’m curious – what’s your take on “revadim” or just the general idea of bringing academic methodologies into the religious classroom?

  140. Jerry: I think you misunderstand my position. As long as the legitimacy of later Talmudic layers is preserved, I’ve got no problem with academic study of the Talmud.

  141. and as a counterpoint on R. Shagar, see here (Hebrew):

    http://old.kipasruga.com/upload/users_files/1061.PDF

  142. The Shagar book is in Hebrew, but has a title page and TOC in English as well. I presume the book will eventually be translated. For those interested, I OCR’ed the English TOC:

    7 Editor’s Introduction
    11 Preface by Rav Shagar ZT”L
    13 Introduction: The Study ofTalmud in the Religious-Zionist Sector: Problems, Difficulties and Challenges.
    25 Learning Torah and the Establishment of a Covenant
    38 Methodology, Motivation and Generating Interest
    46 Torah Study in the Yeshivot in the Pre-Brisk Era: From the Vilna Gaon to the Netziv
    73 Rav Chaim of Brisk: the “Closed Circle” of Torah and Mitzvot
    96 A Different Method of Erudition: Rav Shimon Shkop and the Telz Approach
    105 Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik (“The Rav”): Torah Study – Between Coercion and Identification
    140 Comparing Rav Soloveitchik and Rav Kook: Torah Study, Modern Life and Zionism
    149 Traditional and Academic Torah Study
    181 Torah Study in a Post-Modern atmosphere
    193 Proposing a New Way of Learning: Erudition, Research and Searching for Meaning
    257 Appendix: A young convert (Ger Katan)- a demonstration of the Mode of Study
    270 Rav Yair Dreifuss: Epilogue

    I bought a copy a few months ago in Israel, but have not yet read it.

  143. As long as the legitimacy of later Talmudic layers is preserved, I’ve got no problem with academic study of the Talmud.

    But, no one has denied the legitimacy of later Talmudic layers in this discussion and R. Tucker explicitly addressed this point as I have previously quoted.

  144. Hirhurim: “I think you misunderstand my position. As long as the legitimacy of later Talmudic layers is preserved, I’ve got no problem with academic study of the Talmud.”

    This sounds like a far cry from your earlier dismissals but I’m fine with this. I don’t know exactly what you mean by “legitimacy.” If you mean halachic canonicity, then I’m totally in agreement with you. Furthermore, you should have no issues with academia in this respect since academia doesn’t really have an opinion on this issue. Those academics who do usually hold those opinions for external reasons (e.g. denominational membership, or what have you). Either way, Orthodox teachers using these methods can hold their own opinions on halacha, and display their own yiras shamayim with little to no impact on the rigorousness of the methods themselves.

    If you mean “legitimacy” in the sense of infallibility, in other words, never developing earlier ideas beyond their minimal, original parameters (and this includes ON RARE OCCASIONS misunderstanding earlier opinions – although you can always present it differently if it makes you more comfortable), then not only will you not find me in agreement, but you won’t find Tosfos in agreement.

    If you’re on board with this, then I have nothing further to add.

  145. I second the suggestion to read Rav Shagar’s בתורתו יהגה if you’re interested in the academic study of Talmud in religious contexts. Rav Bigman is supposedly writing a book on the subject now but I have no idea when/if it will come out.

  146. Gil – “As long as the legitimacy of later Talmudic layers is preserved, I’ve got no problem with academic study of the Talmud.”

    can you explain what does that mean? And why isn’t your objections merely ideologically based as discussed before?

  147. Jerry – thank you for the recommendation. He is on my list to find articles written by him as well and comes highly recommended as one of the best in the field. Appreciate your time and knowledge in the discussion (they have been helpful at least to me).

  148. Jerry: If you mean “legitimacy” in the sense of infallibility, in other words, never developing earlier ideas beyond their minimal, original parameters (and this includes ON RARE OCCASIONS misunderstanding earlier opinions – although you can always present it differently if it makes you more comfortable), then not only will you not find me in agreement, but you won’t find Tosfos in agreement.

    If it’s only rare occasions, the. I’m OK with it. It might not be my thing, but it’s not something I would object to.

    I think you were unfair to R. Tucker to assume that he has an ideological axe to grind.

    IH: R. Tucker explicitly addressed this point

    Yes, but not in a good way.

  149. Gil – let me understand you now have no objection to academic studies because …..? And this is not based on ideology ?

  150. “What is the motivation behind academic-style Talmud study by religious Jews? Why, for instance, do we learn the Bavli at all and not the Yerushalmi or other texts? ”

    Some people are tired of the clearly Christian and Muslims influences on Jewish society, and want to get back to the roots, and live Judaism as it is meant to be lived in Israel, instead of how it’s meant to be lived in Galut.

    But you have to be able to tell what is an influence and what is not an influence before you can do that. And then you can evaluate which are the good influences, and which are the negative.

  151. Steve,

    Knowing what the Tannaim and Amoraim had for breakfast and dinner can be quite helpful in learning many sugyot esp. in keizad mevorchim, shlosha sheachlo and arvei pesachim. Your contempt for understanding the reality upon which the Gemara is based is unfortuately common in the yeshivish world. If (some) contemporary poskim exert great effort to understand the scientific, historical or social aspects the issue on which they rule, ehy doesn’t it make similar sense for us to investigate the basis in realia of chazal’s rulings?

    Gil,
    Would you have a problem if I said that according to pshat R. Sheshet was matir even issurei deoreisa but the Gemaras drash is that his ruling refers only to derabbonan’s?We alway paskin like the drash, not the psak.

    Also you need to understand that there are two different but related phenomena being discussed here. The are academic Talmud scholars, who operate in the academic world and then there a Ramim and Rashei Yeshiva, such as Rabbis Bigman, Shagar z”l, Brsndes and Meyer Lichtenstein, who are yeshiva trained lamdanim who have a back ground in academic Talmud studies and try tointergrate their insights into their shiurim.

  152. that should be “no the pshat”!

  153. “not the pshat”

  154. Ruvie: Where did you get the idea that I am automatically opposed to academic studies?

    Moshe Shoshan: Would you have a problem if I said that according to pshat R. Sheshet was matir even issurei deoreisa but the Gemaras drash is that his ruling refers only to derabbonan’s?We alway paskin like the drash, not the psak.

    I don’t really know how to process the statement. It doesn’t represent my belief that the Gemara explained R. Sheshet’s real meaning but I’m not sure what it is.

  155. Hirhurim: “I think you were unfair to R. Tucker to assume that he has an ideological axe to grind.”

    Maybe so. Remember I’m only going on your description.

  156. Gil
    That’s the point you dont have the tools to process the claims of the Talmud critics. They have a fundamentally different understanding of texts and the way they are interpreted than you do. I would argue that this understanding is far more accurate explanation of how texts have been interpreted through much of Jewish history than the approach you advocate.

  157. gil – “Where did you get the idea that I am automatically opposed to academic studies?’

    sorry i meant critical method in academic studies of talmud (from shamma friedman/halivni and onward school and any subsequent methodologies). it seems clear from your old post and the beginning of this post or comments in regard to r’ tucker and the conversation that ensued. is there a change of opinion or can you clarify what your current position is (there seems to be a change after the give and take with jerry – or am i misunderstanding)?

  158. Lawrence Kaplan

    aiwac: Thanks for linking to the article critiquing Rav Shagar. Like the author of the critique, I have alway thought that Rav Shagar’s rather uncritical attachment to post-modernism to be weakneses of his. It, however, in my view, does not invalidate his general approach, particularly in Be-Torato Yehegeh. Note that the article you link to is a critique of Kelim Shevrim, while I and others recommended Be-Torato Yehegeh. I think even Gil would appreciate Rav Shagar’s nuanced critique of the academic approach to the history of halakhah.

  159. abba's rantings

    MOSHE SHOSHAN:

    “Knowing what the Tannaim and Amoraim had for breakfast and dinner can be quite helpful . . .”

    has anyone seen the israeli movie “he’arat shulayim”? it is a drama about contemporary academic rabbinics, specifically talmud at hebrew u.
    i enjoyed the movie in general and understood the context of the debate over the “history of nonsense.” but presumably those with a more intimate knowledge of the subject and its players will pick apart all the real life reflections.

  160. It has been shortlisted for the Oscar’s Best Foreign Language Film (under “Footnote”) which will hopefully mean a more general release.

    http://www.jewishreviewofbooks.com/publications/detail/marginalia

  161. interview in yesterday’s ny times with the director of the movie, footnote:

    http://carpetbagger.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/23/for-an-israeli-director-the-oscar-ceremony-gets-interesting-after-its-over/?ref=movies

    i highly recommend it. wonderful film.

  162. ruvie: it seems clear from your old post and the beginning of this post or comments in regard to r’ tucker and the conversation that ensued. is there a change of opinion or can you clarify what your current position is (there seems to be a change after the give and take with jerry – or am i misunderstanding)?

    Not that I am aware of. I’m not particularly interested in academic Talmud — it’s not how I was trained. I only object when they twist the words of the Talmud to mean something else, such as that later scholars were wrong about what earlier scholars meant.

  163. Prof. Kaplan,

    I tried reading BeTorato Yehgeh, but the language was too dense, flowery and pie-in-the-sky for my taste. It really felt like I was reading the works of a romantic, idealistic darshan and not a pedagogue who was talking “tachlis”. As a counterpoint to him, I found R. Brandes’ discussion refreshing:

    http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/toshba/tochniut/likrat.htm

    http://aiwac.wordpress.com/2011/11/04/how-not-to-teach-gemara-in-high-school-pdf-version/

    Just as an aside, I’m not in favor of enforcing any “one” approach to Talmud study – and that includes academic methodology. The gemara is too big to be contained by any one method.

  164. Not just shortlisted, nominated. Hope it wins- a great movie.

    I actually had a long conversation about it with a current student in Hebrew U.’s Talmud Department over a Friday night meal. (Apparently, there’s a lot to the movie that is true to life, inside jokes and references for those in the know. R’ Rakeffet, who also enjoyed the movie greatly, said he knew and knows a lot of the individuals the film is based on.) One question I had was on the head covering issue- the father does not, the son does. According to the person I met, the people involved all tend to be frum; the previous generation were older yekke types who don’t wear a kippah outside of davening. The younger ones are more culturally Israeli and dati, and do.

  165. ““Knowing what the Tannaim and Amoraim had for breakfast and dinner ”

    I know what the Vilna Gaon had for dinner. In the Rabbi Sherer biography we learn that Rav Shach knew how to cook an egg (and wanted to do so for a 17 year old guest).

    If I would want to know this, why wouldn’t I want to know what the Tannaim and Amoraim ate for breakfast?

  166. “a sorry but common fate for the impoverished and war-torn country’s antiquities.”

    “Sorry”? Thank God. Some countries can’t be trusted to safeguard their antiquities. I fear for the pyramids.

  167. Maybe they should move the pyramids to Israel.

  168. “What if something came along that threatened to permanently dislodge the federations and foundations, with their fetes and fiscal décolletage, as the bookends holding up our sense of collective self, and put the core of Jewish identity back where it was always meant to be — in direct engagement with content?”

    http://www.forward.com/articles/149859/?p=all

  169. “fiscal décolletage”

    Wow, Hazony must have been proud of that one. I would have gone with “dollarous décolletage” myself.

  170. Yesthe kippah thing in Hearat Shulayim is a little confusing. I don’t know of any (retired) professors of Jewish Studies at Hebrew U in their 70’s who are frum but dont wear a Yarmulke. It was suggested to me that Ceder was trying to depict professors of the 50’s and sixties who may not have covered their heads.

    Note that in a key scene Shkolink Jr. removes his kippah while writing the nomination letter.

  171. Lawrence Kaplan

    aiwac: Rav Shagar in Be-Torato Yehegeh gets to tachlis. It just takes a long time for him to do so. But his point is that one cannot isolate teaching methods of Talmud (derakhim), particularly on an advanced level, from more general issues of hashkafah.

  172. Nachum,
    Scores of films are nominated (one from each country) but only a few are shortlisted. “He’arat Hashulaim” was shortlisted. See:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/19/movies/awardsseason/a-separation-and-in-darkness-on-oscar-foreign-shortlist.html?_r=1&ref=awardsseason

  173. I’m nowhere near as sanguine as Hazony. For every involved, interested learner, there are likely two who couldn’t care less. I wish I was wrong, but I doubt it.

  174. Are you sanguine about anything?

  175. Arutz sheva: “militant feminists livid” over custody revision while “pro-family groups” support it. way to keep it classy. (I oppose the tender years presumption, fwiw, though i suspect that even if it is fixed israeli family law will have a long way to go in getting rid of gender biases that end up harming children…)

  176. re: bronx synagogue, i see they closed as a “young israel” and reopened as chabad. tangential to the story itself, how does that work with YI rules?

  177. MDJ, the shortlist is then winnowed down to the five nominees. Those nominees were announced today; “Footnote” is one.

    “Maybe they should move the pyramids to Israel.”

    Or move Israel to the pyramids. 🙂

  178. “Note that in a key scene Shkolink Jr. removes his kippah while writing the nomination letter.”

    If that is the case, then perhaps the movie is trying to use the wearing of the kippah as sign into the motivations and “hat” that the character is currently wearing, in a more literal fashion. While wearing the kippah they are thinking religiously, while not, they are thinking academically?

  179. IH,

    I don’t see why I should be excited about this. This isn’t the first time someone’s trumpeted a “Great Jewish Renaissance” – that happens in Israel all the time. It’s always the same story: A minority goes back towards Jewish identity, and the majority drifts away. Could you perhaps show me why this is different other than sheer optimism?

  180. emma:

    1. Odd; you’d think feminists would be in favor of gender equality. 🙂

    2. I wonder if this was the Bronx shul recently reported as getting “support” in the form of Lubavitchers walking in from Brooklyn every Shabbat. There were murmurs about motivations then. Perhaps they were right, but what’s the alternative?

  181. I agree with Aiwac. These sorts of things only appeal to a tiny minority of Jews. They could have an oversized effect because the people involved become active in the community. But in the end, not much really changes. It’s just a good story because it’s new.

  182. “1. Odd; you’d think feminists would be in favor of gender equality”

    So long as some people remain more equal than others.

  183. “I don’t see why I should be excited about this. This isn’t the first time someone’s trumpeted a “Great Jewish Renaissance””

    I don’t think it’s any sort of Renaissance, it’s going to remain a small group of people who are able to go to shabbatons together. Which is great, but it’s not going to replace anything.

    Howevever it is nice to see other groups getting together and doing what Jewlicious has been doing.

  184. “It’s just a good story because it’s new.”

    New?

    “Since it started in the U.K. three decades ago, it has spread to communities around the world.

    Read more: http://www.forward.com/articles/149859/?p=all#ixzz1kOJBlbMI

  185. Outside of the UK it’s only been going on for about 5 years.

  186. These sorts of things only appeal to a tiny minority of Jews.

    Sure, but the same criticism can also be made for any one of the myriad sub-divisions within Orthodoxy. Despite aiwac’s perennial nattering nabobs of negativity, it is the diversity of engagement with Jewish learning that is the point. [All the more so in a country with fewer than 300,000 Jews, in which people give up their prime vacation opportunity to attend the Limmud weekend].

  187. Before anyone jumps on me for being an “Orthodox triumphalist”, let me just say that the truth is quite the opposite: No-one would be happier than me if things like Limmud became truly mass phenomena.

    Unlike some of my peers, I deeply lament the shrinking of non-O denominations, because I know that most of those who leave are on their way out.

    The greatest challenge of our generation is to turn the am-aretz Jews back into (involved and Jewishly attached) heretics. Thus far, however, all the attempts have been defeated by the Jews’ greatest enemy – apathy.

  188. To me the following paraphrasing of Cecil Roth still rings true, unfortunately:

    “The problem is that the Jews are TOO assimilable”

  189. IH: 2,500 people at a weekend retreat is not quite a revolution. More people show up for a Chasidic rebbe’s grandchild’s wedding.

  190. Which is why we should celebrate and promote every opportunity to counter apathy!

  191. The question is not whether we should celebrate it but whether it is a game-changer for the Jewish community.

  192. IH,

    I DO celebrate it!!! I just lament the fact that its impact is so small.

  193. nachum, re: feminists, as i’m sure you realize i was criticizing the reporting, not the facts, about which i know not so much. but i do know enough to guess that not all “pro-family groups” are primarily concerned with women blackmailing men using the tender years presumption. some of them are, for example, concerned with men blackmailing women using other legal provisions. and some are actually concerned with the well-being of children, and among those i believe reasonable people could disagree as to whether changing this presumption without changing anything else will be better or worse for children overall.
    tal, when it comes to parenting it is often true that one parent is more equal than the other, and in my view that parent is often the mom. just not always.
    re: bronx shul (= chabad in mosque), the article suggests that the chabadniks showed up only at the “farewell service” of the shul, but that could just be dramatic flourish.

  194. The question is not whether we should celebrate it but whether it is a game-changer for the Jewish community.

    It is one more indication of a population of committed Jews who are under the radar and finding their own path outside of institutional Jewish life. Albeit, it may not be your view of what success should look like.

    The notion of a singular “game changer” is nonsense, as we now see from the results of the millions of dollars spent on promoting Jewish Day Schools.

  195. “It is one more indication of a population of committed Jews who are under the radar and finding their own path outside of institutional Jewish life. Albeit, it may not be your view of what success should look like.”

    Yes, for those who care. Who are not the majority.

  196. IH: It is one more indication of a population of committed Jews who are under the radar and finding their own path outside of institutional Jewish life

    Yes, it is another indicator of a small group of committed Jews.

  197. I don’t understand your response, aiwac. Please elaborate.

  198. Nor Gil’s. RWMO (your parlance) is also a “small group of committed Jews”. So?

  199. IH,

    The majority of Jews are on their way out, small groups of committed Jews of any stripe notwithstanding. Limmud doesn’t change that.

  200. aiwac — the demographics don’t support your doom and gloom. We’ve covered this before in previous threads. In any case, even if it were true — is the answer to mope and admit defeat; or to pump up support for non-traditional responses that can (and do) make a difference.

  201. IH,

    “the demographics don’t support your doom and gloom. We’ve covered this before in previous threads”

    Yes, we have. Your evidence refers to specific communities, while I’m talking about overall trends, not just in the US but also in Europe and elsewhere.

    “In any case, even if it were true — is the answer to mope and admit defeat; or to pump up support for non-traditional responses that can (and do) make a difference”

    I don’t see the point. It’s like trying to stop a flood by sticking fingers in a dyke.

  202. gil – to our earlier (and now finished) conversation on academic study (and methodologies) of talmud i commented on your shift in your opinion(at least to me and i think others):
    your response
    Ruvie: Where did you get the idea that I am automatically opposed to academic studies?

    although i think i never accused you of automatically opposed to anything there was an idea of claiming it heretical and totally reject (inherently mistaken) halivni’s approach (i assume that is code for most of the methodologies of halivni/friedman and onwards): see your quotes below in more or less order:

    Used sparingly and cautiously, this is not religiously objectionable. Indeed, there are a number of examples of the classic commentators doing this. However, doing this consistently demonstrates (in my opinion) a lack of faith in the Amora’im and a rejection of talmudic methodologies.

    For objections to this approach to the Talmud, see this post (from 7 years ago!):

    The issue is not recognizing layers but saying that the later layer was wrong. In the linked post from 7 years ago I did not reject all academic study, certainly not from manuscripts. I’m not a big believer in literary evidence of textual layers. Sometimes it’s obvious but usually not.

    Was it Prof. Halivni who coined the term Stamaim? I don’t find it useful but then again I totally reject his approach to the Talmud.

    I disagree. The term “Stammaim” is shorthand for the people who distorted the sayings of Tannaim and Amoraim in order to promote their own views.

    ih – Halivni’s shita is no less valid than the Brisker. They are both tools to understand the text.
    gil – i disagree. I think his method is entirely wrong and yields incorrect results.

    There is a difference between taking an occasional method and turning it into a sweeping methodology that overturns the very text you are studying.

    I believe in Talmudic and halakhic methodologies. It isn’t “obvious” that they are false and I find such a claim to be religiously offensive, bordering on heretical if not crossing the line.

    Or you can take me at my word — that I believe the methodology is inherently mistaken.

    I don’t know much about the field beyond Halivni and S. Friedman but I have already voiced my approval of identifying layers within the text and my disapproval of building a methodology on disagreeing with later layers.

    Jerry: I think you misunderstand my position. As long as the legitimacy of later Talmudic layers is preserved, I’ve got no problem with academic study of the Talmud.

    If it’s only rare occasions, the. I’m OK with it. It might not be my thing, but it’s not something I would object to.

    I only object when they twist the words of the Talmud to mean something else, such as that later scholars were wrong about what earlier scholars meant.

    my apologies for beating a dead horse.

  203. Ruvie: Yes, I oppose Halivni’s approach.

  204. emma: Yes, I realize you were criticizing the reporting. Sorry if it came across otherwise.

  205. For those rooting for Newt due to his comments on Israel, note his more nuanced 2005 article in Middle East Quarterly:
    http://www.meforum.org/729/defeat-of-terror-not-roadmap-diplomacy-will-bring

  206. IH wrote in part:

    “Are you now willing to make the same concession that while you continue to disagree with them, Partnership Minyanim are a legitimate expression of those within Modern Orthodoxy for whom reconciling the role of women in halachic Judaism is a core value”

    IMO, such a comparison is based on a
    i’m Ok, you’re OK” notion, which IMO fails to allow for a critique of the origins of feminism , and the fallacy of the critique of the halachic system.

  207. Review: Daniel Sperber, On Changes in Jewish Liturgy on the seforim blog By Dan Rabinowtiz and Eliezer Brodt and including some analysis of frimer’s arguments as well – interesting and balanced.

    http://seforim.blogspot.com/2012/01/review-daniel-sperber-on-changes-in.html

  208. from the review posted above:

    ” That said, we must note – and this is the essential point of this book – the texts of the prayers have never been static, and they have been constantly evolving. At times this evolution was controversial while at other times the evolution and changes to the liturgy appears to have passed almost without notice.”

    “Sperber does an admirable job distinguishing between permanently fixed language to which change is prohibited, and the lesser fixed portions for which change is permissible”

    “Rather than directly addressing the issue, Frimer attempts to delegitimitize and discredit the manuscripts that Sperber relies upon.”
    “…Frimer’s reliance upon this argument demonstrates a serious lack of awareness of the scholarship in the area of manuscript authentication (a topic which we hope to return to at length in a future post).”

  209. Moshe Shoshan wrote in part:

    “Knowing what the Tannaim and Amoraim had for breakfast and dinner can be quite helpful in learning many sugyot esp. in keizad mevorchim, shlosha sheachlo and arvei pesachim”

    That would be the case if we assumed incorrectly as Ramban points out in the Hakdamah to Milchamos HaShem that Chazal have a Machlokes on a matter of Metzius. When we see shiurim and types of food mentioned in the Perakim of the Masectos that you mentioned, it is so serve as a model for us as to the size and shiur of the food as to whether it constitutes achilah or not, as opposed to investigating what, why and for what purpose Chazal were consuming such food.

  210. S wrote:

    “I know what the Vilna Gaon had for dinner. In the Rabbi Sherer biography we learn that Rav Shach knew how to cook an egg (and wanted to do so for a 17 year old guest).

    If I would want to know this, why wouldn’t I want to know what the Tannaim and Amoraim ate for breakfast”

    Would knowing what the Vilna Gaon, R Shach ZL or the Tanaim and Amoraim had for breakfast enhance your Torah knowledge and/or Yiras Shamayim, if what you were learning had no relationship to the same? Irrelevant detail is irrelevant detail, and is akin to asking why every Perek of every Masecta in Shas is enclosed in a box-it is nice for historical background, but sheds no light on what what you are learning on the daf in question.

  211. “Would knowing what the Vilna Gaon, R Shach ZL or the Tanaim and Amoraim had for breakfast enhance your Torah knowledge and/or Yiras Shamayim, if what you were learning had no relationship to the same?”

    It would enhance my enjoyment of life. It would be interesting. It would be nice. It would be cool.

    Do you disagree, or do you agree only think that this has nothing to do with learning Torah? I might agree, but see below.

    As for details being irrelevant, the most irrelevant details become relevant in surprising contexts.

    You may go on about how irrelevant it all is, but I see how interested people are – including talmidei chachomim and yarei shamayim – in all of this stuff. Maybe it’s crack for the mind, but let me tell you, people are definitely interested in what Rava and Abbaye wore.

  212. Ruvie wrote in part:

    “Review: Daniel Sperber, On Changes in Jewish Liturgy on the seforim blog By Dan Rabinowtiz and Eliezer Brodt and including some analysis of frimer’s arguments as well – interesting and balanced”

    The above is correct, including the reviewers’ conclusion that R D Frimer was correct with respect to the text of the first Bracha of Shemoneh Esreh.

  213. steve b. – yes agree 100% with that but weak on everything else r d frimer wrote which is why i quoted the above. i quoted what was surprising.

  214. ” people are definitely interested in what Rava and Abbaye wore.” true and also it can tell you – sometimes – what they thought as well. things do overlap and not always disparate facts.

  215. S wrote:

    “It would enhance my enjoyment of life. It would be interesting. It would be nice. It would be cool.

    Do you disagree, or do you agree only think that this has nothing to do with learning Torah? I might agree, but see below.

    As for details being irrelevant, the most irrelevant details become relevant in surprising contexts.

    You may go on about how irrelevant it all is, but I see how interested people are – including talmidei chachomim and yarei shamayim – in all of this stuff. Maybe it’s crack for the mind, but let me tell you, people are definitely interested in what Rava and Abbaye wore”

    WADR, and in all seriousness-this proves the irrelevance of the above information to anyone seriously learning such sugyot.

  216. Ruvie wrote:

    “steve b. – yes agree 100% with that but weak on everything else r d frimer wrote which is why i quoted the above. i quoted what was surprising”

    WADR, the review was an example IMO of what is called Ikar Chaser Min HaSefer,namely R D Frimer’s rejection of any attempt to substitute the Imahos into the text of the first bracha.

  217. “WADR, and in all seriousness-this proves the irrelevance of the above information to anyone seriously learning such sugyot.”

    That I find it interesting? Gosh, I would hope that one could find his learning interesting. If you have another reason for claiming that such things are either uninteresting or not Torah (not that I said it is) please tell me.

    As for details, I would remind you that details are often important in surprising contexts. They may be irrelevant when you’re learning a sugya (and I trust that you pay absolutely zero intention to things like place names in the Talmud, since those are obviously irrelevant and bittul Torah) but the only way such details can emerge in another context as of some importance is if you paid attention to them in the first place. Thankfully some scholars do pay attention to the details and try to work out what they mean.

  218. Also, why is it mussar to learn that the Vilna Gaon only ate bread soaked in milk but not mussar to learn the mundane details about the lives of Abbaye and Rava?

  219. Lawrence Kaplan

    I found strange the reviewers’ claim that in almost all shuls thay have davened in “shelo asani ishah” is NOT recited out loud. Obviously, we have been davening in different shuls.

  220. Lawrence Kaplan

    Steve: You mean the review did not focus on what you wanted it to focus on.

    And, more generally, WADR, enough already with the “WADR.” WADR, you can’t imagine how annoying this lterary tic of yours has become, and, I would venture, not only to me. Just get on with it, and make your point.

  221. MiMedinat HaYam

    all the shuls in (lets call it eastern) bronx are dying. they’re not at the stage of south bronx, but apparently, to accomodate old ppl still living there, a decision was made (meaning they dont want to give up the money they still have) to keep them on the life support, instead of referring to tshuvot in igrot moshe regarding east new york / brownville (i.e., sell it off).

    solution — “Bronfman’s gift had a couple of conditions attached: The rabbi had to be willing to perform interfaith weddings and embrace interfaith families, and he had to be able to play guitar and ski” in park city, utah. i guess that wont play in the bronx.

  222. “I found strange the reviewers’ claim that in almost all shuls thay have davened in “shelo asani ishah” is NOT recited out loud. Obviously, we have been davening in different shuls.”

    In yeshivishe places they don’t say brachos out loud. Also, in many/ most places the brachos are said in such a rushed, rapid-fire manner, and most people of the minyan aren’t even there yet, that it can sound like much ado about nothing to some people (I do not agree). But perhaps this, or some combination, is what was intended.

  223. Steve,
    WADR you are dead wrong. This has nothing to do with the question of machloket in metziut. This is question of getting pshat in the gemara, or in the two sides of the machlokes.

    I dont fault yeshivos for ignoring issues like this and the study of manuscripts. ITs not their derech and thats fine. But to criticize the use of tools used by many of not all rishonim is unacceptable.

  224. It’s also like criticizing Aramaic language study or philology because it doesn’t lead to Yiras Shamayim. But someone has to do it! After all, we have to understand what the words mean.

  225. MiMedinat HaYam

    S: “and I trust that you pay absolutely zero intention to things like place names in the Talmud, since those are obviously irrelevant and bittul Torah)”

    shmuel (amora) knew the streets of the skies (constellations, etc) just like he knew the streets of nehardea.

    “Also, why is it mussar to learn that the Vilna Gaon only ate bread soaked in milk but not mussar to learn the mundane details about the lives of Abbaye and Rava?”

    doesnt therambam say its unhealthy to mix bread with liquids. (of course, rambam’s food health rules are not normative medicine today.)

    but the gemara does say (?kezad mevarchim?) that one must not soak bread in liquid.

    on the subject of kezad mevarchim, i originally learned it with someone in the spice business. help tremendously with understanding.

  226. S: In yeshivishe places they don’t say brachos out loud

    In my experience, it varies even among yeshivishe places. For example, R. Feivel Cohen’s shul and the Lakewood Minyan of Flatbush say the berakhos out loud.

  227. Gil: “In my experience, it varies even among yeshivishe places. For example, R. Feivel Cohen’s shul and the Lakewood Minyan of Flatbush say the berakhos out loud.”

    Well of course everything is going to vary. I’m just trying to be a meturgeman for Rabinowitz/ Brodt.

    Medinat HaYam: “doesnt therambam say its unhealthy to mix bread with liquids. (of course, rambam’s food health rules are not normative medicine today.)”

    You mean it’s unhealthy to sit in a room without a window for decades, eating only break soaked in milk and sleeping 2 hours in 24?

    (Putting aside the hermetic tendencies of the Gaon, it is entirely possible that the Gra’s source of sustenance was something distinct, like an actual dish, some kind of bread pudding.)

  228. Abba's Rantings

    GIL:

    “Lakewood Minyan of Flatbush”

    🙂
    is there a flatbush minyan in lakewood?

  229. Abba's Rantings

    STEVE:

    “Would knowing what the Vilna Gaon, R Shach ZL or the Tanaim and Amoraim had for breakfast enhance your . . . Yiras Shamayim”

    to be honest, learning about the halachos of bull goring an ox does nothing for my yiras shamayim

  230. “to be honest, learning about the halachos of bull goring an ox does nothing for my yiras shamayim”

    You sound like the chassidim who the Gra tried to knock down.

  231. Abba's Rantings

    AVI:

    “While wearing the kippah they are thinking religiously, while not, they are thinking academically?”

    actually in the scene in question, the nomination letter he writes was completely based on an emotional imperative, one could even say a religious imperative (kabed es avicha). the letter and the whole context leading to it violated all academic protocol.

  232. Prof. Kaplan, your comment about the shatz saying ‘shelo asani isha’ aloud obviates the need for my intended comment. It is, indeed, strange that the two learned reviewers have, apparently, never heard a shatz saying that beracha aloud. Perhaps they daven only in shuls that start at Yishtabach.

    I note also that some of the support the reviewers marshal as justification for saying ‘shelo asani isha’ is problematic, in my view. R’ Yaakov Emden is cited as giving 2 reasons for the beracha. One has to do with Jewish free males being obligated in more mitzvot. The second is that women are ruled by their husbands (or fathers). The second rationale is in accord the more evident understanding of the relevant gemara (T.B.). However, it corresponds neither to modern sociological conditions, nor to a desirable family dynamic.
    The rationale given by Rav Mecklenberg (author of Haketav Vehakabala) involves a theory about the levels of holiness supposedly inherent in genetics, i.e., a Kohen is holier than a Levi who is holier than a Yisroel, and a man holier than a woman. That speculation would be deemed offensive by more than just women.

  233. Abba's Rantings

    Yeelde:

    i don’t understand you

    S:

    “It’s also like criticizing Aramaic language study or philology because it doesn’t lead to Yiras Shamayim. But someone has to do it! After all, we have to understand what the words mean.”

    the predictable answer is going to be: the mesora instructs us what the words mean not the academics. you think tosfos needed the philologists?

    “As for details, I would remind you that details are often important in surprising contexts.”

    i know zip about academic talmud.
    but last year i very much enjoyed rav steinsaltz’s “talmudic images.” in part he shines light on otherwise neglected biographical factoids, aggadeta, (ostensibly) irrelevant details, etc. to reconstruct the personalities of the rabbis of the talmud in order explain their respective derechs. i found it very englightening. certainly more so than the halachos of a bull goring an ox or different categories of shomrim.

  234. Abba's Rantings

    NACHUM:

    “the previous generation were older yekke types who don’t wear a kippah outside of davening.”

    skolnick sr made aliyah in the 1930s and so i assumed he was yekke

  235. abba’s rantings – “otherwise neglected biographical factoids, aggadeta, (ostensibly) irrelevant details, etc. to reconstruct the personalities of the rabbis of the talmud”

    its questionable what historical factoids one can learn from any aggaditah to reconstruct the real rabbis of the talmud. that would lead you into the area of academic study of aggadah of the last 30 years only.
    a very interesting subject indeed.

  236. abba's rantings

    RUVIE:

    one thing i remember is that rav steinsaltz (RAS) calls attention to shammai having been a builder or architect. (the stick he uses to shoo the man away is a builder’s measure.) according to RAS shammai’s backgroud as a builder made him see things more in black and white. as a builder he could not allow for a margin of error, lest a building collapse resulting in deaths. this aspect of his personality affected his halachik thought process and he was thus generally more machmir.
    i have no idea if this is correct, but i thought it was interesting and gave me more appreciation for the text than stam learning the halachos of a bull goring an ox

  237. “I found strange the reviewers’ claim that in almost all shuls thay have davened in “shelo asani ishah” is NOT recited out loud.”

    Not a single (Ashkenaz) shul in Israel does, so far as I know- they begin with R’ Yishmael and/or Mizmor Shir. I only hear birchot hashachar Yom Kippur morning at Yeshurun.

    Re: Footnote. Skolnik Jr. also doesn’t have his head covered when talking to his wife at the beginning- he’s laying back and eating a cookie or something. Odd. On the other hand, *his* son wears a kippa all the time. In the letter-writing scene, he’s not exactly fully dressed anyway.

    ruvie: This is a major point of R’ Lau, who subscribes to the “if it was written, then it at least gives us insight into the people who wrote it, even if it’s not 100% true” theory. Not everyone agrees with him, of course.

  238. ” the letter and the whole context leading to it violated all academic protocol.”

    Then perhaps orthodoxy and tradition in general? Something like a character taking off a kippah in a scripted movie, obviously means something.

  239. “its questionable what historical factoids one can learn from any aggaditah to reconstruct the real rabbis of the talmud.”

    Throwaway details are the most revealing details. But only if those details differ from your own cultural assumptions.

  240. Abba's Rantings

    AVI:

    yes, it means something.
    as an orthodox jew he is beholden to truth and honesty.
    he writes the letter out of a sense of filial piety and thinks he is fulfilling kabed es avicha, but deep down he knows that by writing the letter he is being dishonest and violating truth, this violating what the kippah stands for. so he takes it off.

  241. Abba wrote:

    “to be honest, learning about the halachos of bull goring an ox does nothing for my yiras shamayim”

    WADR, the Halachos derived from Shor SheNagach Es HaParah and similar Sugyos teach you interpersonal responsibilities, otherwise known as Mitzvos Bein Adam LaChavero. That’s why RMF viewed Elu Metzios as the best perek for beginning Gemara.

  242. “ruvie: This is a major point of R’ Lau, who subscribes to the “if it was written, then it at least gives us insight into the people who wrote it, even if it’s not 100% true” theory. Not everyone agrees with him, of course.”

    My view on that issue generally is that the Talmud certainly “remembers” actual details from earlier periods. The example I always think of is how careful it is with titles. Nowadays you will come across a “Rabbi Shimon ben Shatach” all the time, or a Rabbi Shimon *bar* Yochai, and so forth, but the Talmud doesn’t mess up. Why shouldn’t it have carefully transmitted other details? That’s not to say that details and things aren’t problematic (no, I don’t think Rabbi Yochanan had droopy eyelashes and used golden utensils to see) but lots of things seem to be genuine and make sense.

  243. “WADR, the Halachos derived from Shor SheNagach Es HaParah and similar Sugyos teach you interpersonal responsibilities, otherwise known as Mitzvos Bein Adam LaChavero. That’s why RMF viewed Elu Metzios as the best perek for beginning Gemara.”

    You could do the pin test and pick any daf in Shas and give a good reason why this would be an appropriate place to begin with, as RMF did when he gave a good reason for the traditional beginning point.

  244. Abba’s rantings: “i don’t understand you”

    the early chasidim claimed that learning halachos about goring an ox adds nothing to one’s yiras shamayam. Going to the shabbos seudah of a tzadik does. Therefore, going to a “tish” is holier/more important than learning bava kama.

  245. S wrote in response to my post:

    “WADR, the Halachos derived from Shor SheNagach Es HaParah and similar Sugyos teach you interpersonal responsibilities, otherwise known as Mitzvos Bein Adam LaChavero. That’s why RMF viewed Elu Metzios as the best perek for beginning Gemara.”

    You could do the pin test and pick any daf in Shas and give a good reason why this would be an appropriate place to begin with, as RMF did when he gave a good reason for the traditional beginning point”

    WADR, I tend to doubt that many dafim in Kodashim , Taharos, Brachos or Moed, would teach the average person the importance of Mitzvos Bein Adam LChavero,as well as the aforementioned sugyos of Elu Metzios, which RMF encouraged so that young talmidim would not think that Halacha was soley concerned about Brachos and the Halachos of Shabbos and YT.

  246. “Chabad Synagogue in a Mosque”

    Kosher J%&#@&???!!! 😉 (Is RSB going to follow Kosher J with a Kosher M book? 😉

    IIRC the ‘saviours’ there are from the openly messianic Lubavitcher segment.

  247. Nahum-ruvie: This is a major point of R’ Lau, who subscribes to the “if it was written, then it at least gives us insight into the people who wrote it, even if it’s not 100% true” theory. Not everyone agrees with him, of course.

    Yes it gives us insight to the stammaim of the gemara not necessarily the people in the story. Or whether there is some historical facts one can elicit from the story – but one must compare to all similar stories written in rabbinic lit. about the personality or others who have similar stories. I find this area of academic research nothing short of fascinating.

  248. Steve: “WADR, I tend to doubt that many dafim in Kodashim , Taharos, Brachos or Moed, would teach the average person the importance of Mitzvos Bein Adam LChavero,as well as the aforementioned sugyos of Elu Metzios, which RMF encouraged so that young talmidim would not think that Halacha was soley concerned about Brachos and the Halachos of Shabbos and YT.”

    Rabbi Feinstein was explaining why it is good to maintain the custom of beginning with Elu Metzios. If we customarily began with Kodashim, one could explain why it is good to begin with yesodos that concern the ge’ulah. If we customarily began with Brachos we can discuss the yesod of shemah, etc. If we began teaching Chumash with Mishpatim we can say it teaches the importance of personal relationships, and if we began with Vayikra (as the actual tradition does) then we can state why that is appropriate; just as we can do when we begin with Bereshis as most places do now.

    Frankly if we don’t want our kids to think that Yiddishkeit is overly legalistic, and is concerned with the spirit as well as the letter of the law, there are ways of doing that in a concrete fashion. This sort of thing is an asmachta at most.

  249. S.-“… doesn’t mess up. Why shouldn’t it have carefully transmitted other details? That’s not to say that details…”

    Because I believe it has been shown ( by neusner and students in this area) that all these stories have conflicting similar stories and they are not reliable historically. That is why the direction in academic study of aggadah has shifted from the alon days of separating the wheat from the chaff to what can we learn about the reactors reworking of the stories about their culture, art and narrative. Btw, I am not a general fan of neusner – especially the sloppiness of his yerushalmi translation and later work ( how good can 900 books be and important) but here he change the direction and focus of this area.

  250. Ruvie,

    That attitude seems to me to be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. It may be easier to just junk everything and declare it all allegory (shades of Biblical minimalism), but that seems to me to unnecessarily give up too much potential insight.

  251. “Because I believe it has been shown ( by neusner and students in this area) that all these stories have conflicting similar stories and they are not reliable historically.”

    All of them or the selection that they’ve analyzed?

    I agree that “who says this is true?” is an important contribution from the Neusner school, and he has shown much uncritical criticism, but that’s still a far cry from demonstrating that everything the Talmud says about a rabbi is late, and invented. They knew how to remember things too, back then. I agree that we should test it to the best of our ability with different sources.

  252. S.,

    I couldn’t have said it better myself :).

  253. “WADR, the Halachos derived from Shor SheNagach Es HaParah and similar Sugyos teach you interpersonal responsibilities, otherwise known as Mitzvos Bein Adam LaChavero. That’s why RMF viewed Elu Metzios as the best perek for beginning Gemara”

    Of course, the Rav dusagreed did not believe in teaching Nezikkin in general to HS kids. BTW Nezilin in general teaches what is recoverable in a beis din-not necessarily proper behavior.It is a very tricky modelto learn a few blatt or mesechtos of Nezikin and learn ethical behavior-one has to know the whole system-of misheparahs, midas sdom etc to understand proper bahavior.

  254. selectionS ^

  255. Lawrence Kaplan

    I had a great-uncle, an old-fashoned type of maskil, a dentist who wrote (not very good) Hebrew poetry on the side. Whenever we met at a family affairs he would ask me, “So what are you learning in the Yeshiva? Shor she-nagach et ha-parah? You think that’s Judaism? The nevuot of Yeshayahu; now that’s real Judaism.” Unfortunately, his only son ended up knowing neither Shor she-nagach et ha-parah nor Yeshayahu.

    Nachum: Perhaps where the Shatz begins in Shaharit is function of North America vs. Israel. It’s another good reason for making aliyah.

  256. aiwac – “…but that seems to me to unnecessarily give up too much potential insight.’

    not throwing the baby out – the insights are wonderful. is it important if this is 100% historically factual and its hard to figure out what is? we know r’ yohana never met vespesian and titus didn’t die from a gnat in his brain (if i remember my facts right off the top of my head) so what. there are insights and messages that were important to chazal and its part of our heritage.

  257. s. – ” but that’s still a far cry from demonstrating that everything the Talmud says about a rabbi is late, and invented.”

    not saying its invented but that the stammaim reworked the stories (sometimes the bavli had an earlier version than other sources as well but things were added none the less to make sense to their times)
    and sometimes its not possible to figure what is true – so in the end its not reliable for historical purposes as oppose to this really did happen. obviously, a story was transmitted down the line.

  258. s. – i don’t think we really disagree

  259. An interesting example of rabbinic biography and Talmud scholarship is the article “Rabbi Akiva’s Youth” by Azzan Yadin in JQR Fall 2010. See also http://menachemmendel.net/blog/2011/06/13/a-few-facts-about-rabbi-akiva/ for related links.

  260. 7:13pm was IH

  261. Abba's Rantings

    STEVE:

    “WADR”

    you are allowed to disagree with me. that’s fine and i can live with it. but prefacing your disagreement with “wadr” in the manner you use it comes off as condescending. (just ftr i can live with this too, but i figured i’d point it out with the assumption that your condascension is unintenional.)

    “the Halachos derived from Shor SheNagach Es HaParah and similar Sugyos teach you interpersonal responsibilities”

    or they just turn you off to learning from day 1

    “RMF encouraged so that young talmidim would not think that Halacha was soley concerned about Brachos and the Halachos of Shabbos and YT.”

    maybe it would make more of an impact if these were halachos that are actually relevant and/or observed

  262. Abba's Rantings

    PROF KAPLAN:

    1) what’s the moral?

    2) i’ll bet he had plenty of peers who preferred shor she-nagach over the nevu’os of yeshaya and they too had kids who knew neither.

  263. Lawrence Kaplan

    Abba: Just a story. Perhaps that one should be taught both seriously.

    Your point 2 is valid though. There are no guarantees.

  264. Lawrence! Tsk, tsk. Daddy would not approve (although he’d probably agree).

  265. “Btw, I am not a general fan of neusner – especially the sloppiness of his yerushalmi translation and later work ( how good can 900 books be and important) ”

    BTW_I have read some material by his students. Neusner wrote his books probably at a quicker rate than I could manually copy them.

  266. years before handing in its final report. A majority of the “members voted to repeal the Tender Years Clause and replace it with a more egalitarian model.

    The recommendations abolish the concept of custody and replace it with “parenting arrangements” that seek to maximize the child’s contact with both parents and emphasize parental responsibility toward children”

    Sounds worthwhile

  267. Lawrence Kaplan

    Joseph: Perhaps I should have checked the comment out with you first.

  268. Only a maskil or someone who sees no value in learning either the Masectos of Sidrei Nashim and Nezikin ( or Brachos or Moed) and places undue value on the study of Nach would advocate that learning Nach is more important than learning and appreciating that Talmud and Halacha have a world view that covers all of a Jew’s activities from cradle to grave on a 24-7 basis, regardless of its “practical value”, or lack thereof.

  269. Larry Kaplan-great story!

  270. Undue value on the study of Nach??? How can one understand the Amoraim without approaching a modicum of their understanding of Nach?

  271. What’s your basis for tchiyat ha’maytim, Steve: Az Yashir?
    What’s your basis for mashiach?

  272. Lawrence Kaplan

    Joseph: Now that Steve has praised my story, I have even more reason for second thoughts!

  273. Given current events, your uncle was right. Shame about the execution in his case, but the world is a better place overall with people who truly understand Nach, even without Talmud; than those who think they understand Talmud without understanding Nach.

  274. Sweating the details, without the context of the principle, is a form of Avodah Zara:

    יא לָמָּה-לִּי רֹב-זִבְחֵיכֶם יֹאמַר יְהוָה, שָׂבַעְתִּי עֹלוֹת אֵילִים וְחֵלֶב מְרִיאִים; וְדַם פָּרִים וּכְבָשִׂים וְעַתּוּדִים, לֹא חָפָצְתִּי. יב כִּי תָבֹאוּ, לֵרָאוֹת פָּנָי–מִי-בִקֵּשׁ זֹאת מִיֶּדְכֶם, רְמֹס חֲצֵרָי. יג לֹא תוֹסִיפוּ, הָבִיא מִנְחַת-שָׁוְא–קְטֹרֶת תּוֹעֵבָה הִיא, לִי; חֹדֶשׁ וְשַׁבָּת קְרֹא מִקְרָא, לֹא-אוּכַל אָוֶן וַעֲצָרָה. יד חָדְשֵׁיכֶם וּמוֹעֲדֵיכֶם שָׂנְאָה נַפְשִׁי, הָיוּ עָלַי לָטֹרַח; נִלְאֵיתִי, נְשֹׂא. טו וּבְפָרִשְׂכֶם כַּפֵּיכֶם, אַעְלִים עֵינַי מִכֶּם–גַּם כִּי-תַרְבּוּ תְפִלָּה, אֵינֶנִּי שֹׁמֵעַ: יְדֵיכֶם, דָּמִים מָלֵאוּ. טז רַחֲצוּ, הִזַּכּוּ–הָסִירוּ רֹעַ מַעַלְלֵיכֶם, מִנֶּגֶד עֵינָי: חִדְלוּ, הָרֵעַ. יז לִמְדוּ הֵיטֵב דִּרְשׁוּ מִשְׁפָּט, אַשְּׁרוּ חָמוֹץ; שִׁפְטוּ יָתוֹם, רִיבוּ אַלְמָנָה.

    ישעיהו פרק א

  275. One does not need to be a Rav Neuwirth to guess Kosher Switch would only be acceptable in matters of sickness and defense etc.

  276. President Barack Obama smiles on Capitol Hill in Washington, “Tuesday, Jan. 25, while delivering his State of the Union address. The world listened carefully to President Obama Tuesday night, noticing how many times he mentioned Afghanistan more than any other nation. And to some listeners, by not mentioning other nations – Israel, the Palestinian Territories, or Egypt – Obama may have said a lot.”

    From

    http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-News/2011/0126/World-reactions-to-Obama-s-2011-State-of-the-Union-address

  277. “mycroft on January 24, 2012 at 11:34 pm
    President Barack Obama smiles on Capitol Hill in Washington, “Tuesday, Jan. 25, while delivering his State of the Union address. The world listened carefully to President Obama Tuesday night, noticing how many times he mentioned Afghanistan more than any other nation. And to some listeners, by not mentioning other nations – Israel, the Palestinian Territories, or Egypt – Obama may have said a lot.”

    From

    http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-News/2011/0126/World-reactions-to-Obama-s-2011-State-of-the-Union-address

    Of course,citation shows problem in my sloppy googling-I quoted a 2011 article about 2011 speech-we obviously haven’t reached Jan 26 yet-my mistake.

  278. From this years State of theUnion

    ” But we have a huge stake in the outcome. And while it is ultimately up to the people of the region to decide their fate, we will advocate for those values that have served our own country so well. We will stand against violence and intimidation. We will stand for the rights and dignity of all human beings – men and women; Christians, Muslims, and Jews. We will support policies that lead to strong and stable democracies and open markets, because tyranny is no match for liberty….”
    and
    “Our iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history”

    I am just quoting whatObama said that may be relevant ch-belief in the accuracy of any politician requires abig leap of faith.

  279. Steve — since you’re such a lamdan, I have created an image of Hyman’s marei mekomot in Rabbinic literature for the psukim I quoted in Yeshiahu and made it available at http://tinyurl.com/72crc4k. Do let us know if you discover anything relevant.

  280. Ruvie:

    Titus, true. But Vespasian? Why wouldn’t it be possible? It is true that he became emperor in the middle of the siege- interesting that the Bavli would remember such a detail of Roman history.

    I’m beginning R’ Lau’s fourth volume now. Just this morning, I read his point that he’ll assume things are true (or have a historical kernel), at least to make a point, so long as there aren’t good reasons (such as clear contradictions) not to.

    His main example, coming up in this volume, is Reish Lakish, about whom the Bavli and Yerushalmi tell *very* different stories. He, like many, values Eretz Yisrael versions more (I actually heard the Reish Lakish chapter when he gave it as part of his shiur series), but says the Bavli version is too good to ignore.

    “Only a maskil or someone who sees no value in learning either the Masectos of Sidrei Nashim and Nezikin ( or Brachos or Moed)”

    Yes, because “maskilim” (as I saw in last week’s Chabad parsha sheet) are cartoon villains who weren’t interested in learning. For shame.

  281. That Bronx synagogue story sounds a bit strange the more I read it. Showed up at the closing ceremony? Nu nu.

    “according to a database maintained by Yeshiva University, which keeps historical records of synagogues”

    I’d like to see that! They should put it on-line. Of course, if you’ve wandered the halls of Muss Hall, you see YU’s interest in Bronx synagogues.

  282. r’ abba,
    interesting question on using wadr etc. – what is in the mind of the writer? reader?community standards? imho 🙂 there has been a paradigm shift (especially for internet standards) in this area.
    KT

  283. r’ nachun,
    a bitter gelechter as my mom would say – reninds me of Ozymandias-
    `My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
    Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
    The lone and level sands stretch far away”

    Galut!

    kt

  284. Joel, I once heard that YU got a lot of its Sifrei Torah (remember, there are about a dozen batei knesset, each with at least a couple of Sifrei Torah, some with many more) from shuls that shut down, agreeing in return to put up all those yahrtzeit plaques that line the walls. I don’t think they’re just from the Bronx, by the way.

    My father, who grew up in a no-longer-Jewish part of the Bronx, says that those rabbis who held out did well- when the wrecking balls came for the Cross-Bronx, they were the only ones left to get the eminent domain money. Not that they didn’t deserve it, but still.

    See http://www.bronxsynagogues.org/ .

  285. When I clicked on ruling confuses religious workers-the following was on the page also

    “‘Religion now more dangerous than Arabs’ / Uri Misgav

    Rabbi David Hartman, teacher and rebel, is celebrating his 80th birthday and cannot believe the kind of Judaism developing around him: ‘Instead of creating a new humanity, Religious Zionism leaders are fighting over stones and verses'”

  286. “Nachum on January 25, 2012 at 5:40 am
    Joel, I once heard that YU got a lot of its Sifrei Torah (remember, there are about a dozen batei knesset, each with at least a couple of Sifrei Torah, some with many more) from shuls that shut down, agreeing in return to put up all those yahrtzeit plaques that line the walls”

    Similarly I am familiar with a pseudo chareidi day school/Yeshiva which has plaques from all over Metro NY of schuls/schols from changed neighborhoods and got sifrei Torah and money from those institutions. Of course, money will cause institutions and their leaders to do anything-such institution and leadership will at times attack those like the Rav and his students for dealing with non religious clergy but the owner/RY of such institution could go to annual dinners of local conservative synagogue and praise its Rabbi-challenged one of the controlling families members on that and answerwell for money one can do that what RYBS isdifferent he didn’t get money for doing that and thus is wrong.

  287. Nahum- “interesting that the Bavli would remember such a detail of Roman history.” Not at all. We know there was a churban, r’ yochanan at that time andVespasian also around the same time. I believe ( without looking up) that there are records where Vespasian was around this time and not anywhere near Jerusalem. Btw, I believe the coffin story appears in other literature prior to this – doesn’t mean it’s not true. It’s a sophisticated story with many motifs and messages.
    I have no problem in saying I believe its true unless proven otherwise – just skeptical but optimistic after reading the scholarship in this area after being taught in my youth that I must take midrashim literarily – at mta no less.
    It would also seem that their was a major difference of values and interest between eretz yisroel scholars and the bavli based on the differences in the same stories. Again, this points to what the stories tell us about the redactors more than the historical kernel ( if one can really find it is questionable at this point)

  288. Ah, OK.

    Also MTA- never got told that about Midrash there, but it all depends on who you had, I suppose.

  289. nahum – lets just say mta was the worst educational experience in my lifetime

  290. It would also seem that their was a major difference of values and interest between eretz yisroel scholars and the bavli based on the differences in the same stories.

    Prof. Alyssa Gray gave a shiur at the NY Global Day of Jewish Learning titled “Eretz Israel, Bavel, and Their Talmuds: Did the Story Ever End?” Audio available at: http://www.mechonhadar.org/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=1804ee8c-0bfd-485e-adde-2df6eb186c28&groupId=11401

  291. abba's rantings

    halpern asks, “The first question is whether a book about Trotsky belongs in a Jewish Lives Series in the first place.”

    from his review it seems the answer is an unequivocal “no”

  292. abba's rantings

    “Young Filipinos integrating into Israeli society”

    why, why, why does israel give them permanent residency status?

  293. abba's rantings

    RUVIE:

    “lets just say mta was the worst educational experience in my lifetime”

    but you probably had a lot of fun

  294. >Steve Brizel on January 24, 2012 at 10:16 pm
    Only a maskil or someone who sees no value in learning either the Masectos of Sidrei Nashim and Nezikin ( or Brachos or Moed) and places undue value on the study of Nach would advocate that learning Nach is more important than learning and appreciating that Talmud and Halacha have a world view that covers all of a Jew’s activities from cradle to grave on a 24-7 basis, regardless of its “practical value”, or lack thereof.

    Only a kal would be mevazeh divrei neviei emes to show that he is farfrumpt.

  295. Nice selection of links this morning. Kudos, Gil.

  296. r’ruvie,
    may I ask what years? I am a class of ’69 (really) grad and it was the best educational experience of my life.
    KT

  297. abba – actually yu was fun – mta not all for me

  298. r’ joel – its interesting that i heard the same from others in the 60s (actually at a wedding in israel i sat next to someone who recounted his days in the 60s as the THE best time of his life). mta 1972-1976; yu 1976-1979. didn’t have the privilege or luxury to spend a year in israel

  299. Well, ruvie, it was one of the best experiences for me. Chacun a son gout.

    Ah, Trotsky. Probably just didn’t want to leave a tip and made up a high-falutin’ excuse not to. Meir Kahane had a great line, after telling a story in which Trotsky calls himself a revolutionary, not a Jew. The rav who’s trying to get a favor for the Jewish community from him responds, “The Trotskys make the revolutions and the Bronsteins pay the price. Kahane ends, “Of course, it was the Jew Bronstein who ended up paying the price, with a Stalinist icepick in his head.”

  300. I’m an MTA ’64 grad and I also remember with fondness my time there, both educationally and the friends I made. (YU OTOH) was great re chevrah and lousy re education.) Comparing my education at MTA to the education my daughters received, though, tells me there was lots lacking back then though in some ways I ended HS better educated than they did.

  301. Add a ” after the first “price.”

    MTA 1993 for me. Maybe that’s the difference.

  302. I don’t recall any of the people I knew who attended MTA in the late ‘70s having much good to say about their education there. My wife was at Central Manhattan in that time period and didn’t learn that a term paper required synthesis and not just regurgitation of research until she was in college. (She was a straight-A student in both settings).

  303. abba's rantings

    “Jews and Booze”

    does the book deal with the issue (controversy) of jewish sacramental wine (and its abuse)?

  304. when did the gap year in Israel become pre-college? In my day it wass junior year in Israel which (et chatai ani mazkir hayom) I did not take advantage of.
    KT

  305. “when did the gap year in Israel become pre-college? In my day it wass junior year in Israel which (et chatai ani mazkir hayom) I did not take advantage of.”

    I know that at one school the shift happened in 1997

  306. My recollection is that it took off in the late 1980s. Prior to that it was limited to the highly committed (sometimes bucking parental pressure).

  307. abba's rantings

    “I know that at one school the shift happened in 1997”

    i came of age in the early 90s and by that point every school i knew of save one (ezra acedemy in queens) no longer had the junior year option

  308. Abba,
    Joel was referring to junior year of college.

  309. I went to Israel as a college junior in ’93 and it was considered extremely rare.

  310. It is fairly clear to me that the transition had occured by the early 80’s.Brovender’s for girls has always been a post-HS program, and when it opened in 1984(?) it was not the least bit remarkable for this.

  311. “Pre-slaughter stun less humane than shechita”

    Is that really a fair synopsis of that link?

    I hope this is true, but we have to be cautiously optimistic but always skeptical and critical.

  312. abba's rantings

    MDJ:

    “Joel was referring to junior year of college”

    didn’t realize. but same point. by early 90s it was the year after hs. not jr year of HS or college. (i can think of only one classmate who went for his jr year in college, and in his case it was to HU for a semester)

  313. MiMedinat HaYam

    regarding discussion of lower enrollment in jewish day schools
    http://forward.com/articles/150165/
    (note standard procedure in jcc’s outside new york area for early childhood / child care programs.)

  314. S. on January 25, 2012 at 12:13 pm
    “Pre-slaughter stun less humane than shechita”

    Is that really a fair synopsis of that link?

    I hope this is true, but we have to be cautiously optimistic but always skeptical and critical.

    The actual journal article is entitled: “A perspective on the electrical stunning of animals: Are there lessons to be learned from human electro-convulsive therapy (ECT)?” http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0309174011003950

    The abstract notes only “the negative aspects of unmodified ECT may be present during electrical stunning, further questioning the use of electrical stunning in the slaughter of animals.” Highlights: ► Electrical stunning is a widespread method of commercial pre-slaughter stunning. ► Effective electrical stunning may be difficult to achieve in practical conditions. ► Effective stunning is particularly difficult to achieve with poultry. ► Electrical stunning parallels unmodified human electro-convulsive therapy (ECT). ► Unmodified ECT is considered cruel in humans and is thus prohibited.

    To compare this to kosher slaughter in terms of pain and terror one one would have to find out how often electrical stunning has a failure rate versus that of an imperfect schitah. I also don’t know how one would measure which is more painful or terrifying if things get messed up.

  315. Concerning the two authors of the article on meat stunning. One is Ari Z. Zivotofsky, who appears to be the same as Rabbi Dr. Ari Z. Zivotofsky http://halachicadventures.com/?p=90 He has a PhD in biomedical engineering – I am not sure how relevant that is to the electroshock issue – and if you Google him, it appears his focus is mostly on halacha, including halachot related to animals and the maintenance of kosher food traditions. He also appears to have been the lead plaintiff concerning having US passports be issued from Jerusalem, Israel http://www.rushpassport.com/blog/tag/ari-zivotofsky/

    Rael D. Strous appears to have a focus on psychiatry, including schizophrenia, which would give him an expertise in an related to the use of electroshocks on humans. Not all internet comments on him are flattering but how to tell whats legitimate and whats not?

    What it comes down to is that you have one person interested in this with an expertise on electroshock on humans and an interest n kashrut and another with an interest and possible expertise on kashrut practices related to animals. You can see them as having relevant expertise and interest or of being biased or both.

  316. A good reminder to re-read Temple Grandin’s piece in The Forward last year: http://www.forward.com/articles/137318/ on the issues involved. She also makes

    In another forum, there was a recent exchange about Kosher and Halal in which I learned that some Muslims do not accept kosher slaughter as a replacement. In industrial kosher slaughter, the bracha is only said once by the shochet at the beginning of a shift. as opposed to their ritual which requires a blessing on each discrete slaughtered animal.

  317. She also makes

  318. For those interested in why the learning of the Masectos of Nezikin plays a central part in Parshas Mishpatim,and is representative of the Torah’s focus on everything in human life, see the annexed link and references http://download.bcbm.org/Media/RavSoloveitchik/Parsha/Mishpatim_1981_br.mp3, R Rakkafaet ( The Rav , Vol.2, PP 196-200), and The Rav Thinking Aloud , Sefer Shmos, Pages 167-172,173-178,).

  319. IH wrote:

    “Given current events, your uncle was right. Shame about the execution in his case, but the world is a better place overall with people who truly understand Nach, even without Talmud; than those who think they understand Talmud without understanding Nach”

    Many Talmidei Chachamim have expertise in both Talmud and Nach. I am sure that you are aware of a well known view that when Moshiach arrives, the only sefarim that we will have to learn will be Chumash, Sefer Yehoshua and Megilas Esther.

  320. “Frankly if we don’t want our kids to think that Yiddishkeit is overly legalistic, and is concerned with the spirit as well as the letter of the law, there are ways of doing that in a concrete fashion.”

    Agreed-but the present emphasis on Nezikin and lomdus in most Yeshivas and day schools leads to asuch a belief.

  321. ““The Trotskys make the revolutions and the Bronsteins pay the price. Kahane ends, “Of course, it was the Jew Bronstein who ended up paying the price, with a Stalinist icepick in his head.””

    Of course real trivia that Trotsky’s great-grandaughter Dr. Nora Volkow is the Director of the National Institue of Drug Abuse-she was brought up in the house that Trotsky was murdered in and used to lead tours of the house.
    see
    http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/19/health/conversation-with-nora-volkow-scientist-s-lifetime-study-into-mysteries.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

    I believe the article was in the front page of the Tuesday science section.

  322. “regarding discussion of lower enrollment in jewish day schools
    http://forward.com/articles/150165/
    (note standard procedure in jcc’s outside new york area for early childhood / child care programs.)”

    There are certainly JCCs in the metro NY area that have extensive childhood/childcare programs

  323. MiMedinat HaYam

    mycroft — i mean that the jcc’s accept non jews in their early childhood programs. (actually, its a: an extension of their having non jewish health club members, and b: sometimes, the local school district pays some / all of the kindegarten programs.)

    for the record, i attended a (what today would be called) chassidic mixed boys / girls (jews only) “gan” in my toddler years. (my mother still eats her heart out that i didnt marry one of my “classmates” whose mother she is still friendly with.)

    i often see mixed kindegartens in chassishe locations in boro park / williamsburg. never litvish / yeshivish.

  324. Joel Rich – you asked a while ago about the issue of women speaking before men –

    שו”ת שבט הלוי (ואזנר) חלק ג סימן יד
    בעיקר הדבר הריני מסכים לכ”ת כי אין להכחיש שלשון הרמב”ם פכ”א מאסו”ב הל”ג‚ ואפי’ לשמוע קול הערוה או לראות שערה אסור, משמע אפילו אינו קול זמר, וכפשטות הש”ס דקדושין ע’ ע”א ולית לך דשמואל דקול באשה ערוה, וכפירש”י שם דע”י שתשיב שלום נולד אסור דקול באשה ערוה, ונהי דאין לנו ראיה על קול דבורה ממש וכמ”ש הראשונים בב”י או”ח סי’ ע”ה, מכ”מ יש ענין קול באשה גם מלבד קול זמר, וכבר הרעיש בזה הגאון באר שבע בסוף ספרו בשו”ת באר מים חיים סימן ג’, ועיין גם בחתן סופר בזה, והיינו דדייקו, קול באשה, דחלק הקול גורם תאוה, והיינו משום דכתיב השמיני את קולך, עי’ ברכות כ”ה ע”א, או כהירושלמי פ”ב דחלה הל”א שהביא גם כ”ת.

    This might also be another problem with the Partnership minyanim.

  325. Someone posted the following:

    “Frankly if we don’t want our kids to think that Yiddishkeit is overly legalistic, and is concerned with the spirit as well as the letter of the law, there are ways of doing that in a concrete fashion.””

    IMO, I must dissent from the above comment. A sense of legalistic precision is absolutely necessary as RYBS pointed out to know the difference between knowing that one is either accepting Shabbos in a timely manner, in doubt of whether one has done so and transgressing Shabbos-IOW, knowing that Shkia means means Shkias HaChamah, and that one minute before Shkia creates the obligation for an Asham Taluy, and ten minutes after Shkia sets forth an obligation of a Chatas Kavuah. Thus, fractions of minutes determine Chiyuv or Ptur, just as actions or inactions create chiyuv or patur in Nezikin. It is sad that viewing the same is viewed as “overly legalistic”, which strikes me as having its roots in supercessionist and RJ critiques of Halacha and TSBP.

  326. In the early to mid 1970s, when I was in YU, many students in college, not just at YU and SCW, spent a year abroad. I met a few classmates who had spent their gap year learning, but they were a distinct minority.

  327. Mycroft quoted the following excerpt:

    ““Our iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history”

    Talk is cheap.

  328. Joel Rich – another source – albeit more lenient – is אגרות משה אורח חיים חלק ה סימן יב אות ג
    שאלת אם מותר להניח לאשה להגיד שיעור, בבית כנסת או בית מדרש שלא בשעת התפלה. כגון שבליל שבת נהוג שאיזה בעל הבית נותן שיעור בבית המדרש בפרשת השבוע ובאים לשמוע אנשים ונשים, אם מותרת אשה ליתן השיעור.
    ונראה שעצם מה שיושבים השומעים בתערובת הוא חסרון גדול , אבל לא אכנס לדון בנידון זה למעשה. ועצם הגדת השיעור על ידי אשה מותר, אם הוא באקראי בלבד. וצריך להזהירה שתשב בדווקא בעת אמירת השיעור, שיהיה באופן צנוע ביותר, כמו כן יש לעשות זאת בבית פרטי דווקא, ולא בבית כנסת או בית מדרש.

  329. MiMedinat HaYam

    “IOW, knowing that Shkia means means Shkias HaChamah”

    without getting into the issue at hand, i recall a cnversation with an orthodox sociology dept chairman at a major nyc college (pre touro) abnd the faculty was trying to decide on “yeshiva credits”. the (non jewish) chairman of the committee that recomends to the faculty senate told him he went into the college library, borrowed an english talmud (prsumably soncino, pre rabbi art scroll dats) and started reading.

    he asked the O sociology chairman “what is going on here?” he understands an obligation to say shma, at a certain time, etc, but whats all this about a wedding feast, and princes getting up at 9am, etc.”

    he couldnt understand what is going on. we, however, understand all this perfectly well.

  330. Thus, fractions of minutes determine Chiyuv or Ptur

    Can you provide examples of halacha le’ma’aseh in which there ie universal agreement among all who are shomer mitzvot (Chassidic, Litvish, Adot ha’Mizrach, etc.) in regard to these fractions of minutes?

  331. “A sense of legalistic precision is absolutely necessary as RYBS pointed out to know the difference between knowing that one is either accepting Shabbos in a timely manner, in doubt of whether one has done so and transgressing Shabbos-”

    Tosefes shabbos, tzes hakochavim, kzayis, etc. As a mental or philosophical exercise, sure. Even to be mehader one’s performance. Maybe. As the essence of law, religion and morality? Not so sure.

  332. Thank you for taking down your recent post of “penitential suicide” – it was the responsible thing to do. For many reasons.

  333. >>Talk is cheap.

    So is cynicism.

  334. IH wrote:

    “Can you provide examples of halacha le’ma’aseh in which there ie universal agreement among all who are shomer mitzvot (Chassidic, Litvish, Adot ha’Mizrach, etc.) in regard to these fractions of minutes”

    Halacha LMaaseh, or whether one follows the Gra and the Gaonim, as opposed to the Shitas Rabbeinu Tam on how one defines Shkiyah, is not the issue-Dikduk Bmitzos , as opposed to being reflexively Meikil or Machmir is the key, and one can only be Mdakdek by having an awareness of the issues at hand.

  335. S wrote:

    “Tosefes shabbos, tzes hakochavim, kzayis, etc. As a mental or philosophical exercise, sure. Even to be mehader one’s performance. Maybe. As the essence of law, religion and morality? Not so sure.”

    Sweating the details of such seemingly mundane issues, regardless of the nature of the halacha involved, underscores one’s commitmment to Halacha and the need to realize that attention to detail is the key between a kiyum hamitzvah and an averah. Knowing the details of Hilcos Shabbos certainly provides one with the awareness of whether the issue involves a Melacha or Toldah, a Gzerah or an Issur Muktzeh or Shvus. Again-Ain Am HaAretz Chasid.

  336. In other words, Steve, your hyperbole once again demolished your point.

  337. IH-absolutely not. Regardless of whether one follows the Gra and the Gaonim or Rabbeinu Tam as to how Shekiah is defined-Shekias HaChamah,and understanding that issue as the key between Shemiras Shabbos and Chillul Shabbos is the critical point-not how the same is observed on a practical level.

  338. The overall point was weak, but then you cap it off with the hyperbolic Thus, fractions of minutes determine Chiyuv or Ptur…. How do you expect us to take you seriously?

  339. Re article about book on Rav Amital-R Amital ran for Knesset on a Meimad list-and on the same list one time was Dr. Tovah Lichtenstein.

  340. “Steve Brizel on January 25, 2012 at 8:15 pm
    Mycroft quoted the following excerpt:

    ““Our iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history”

    Talk is cheap”

    Don’t disagree-but remember it was GWBush who refused to give Israel bunker bombs when thye might have had a realistic chance of destroying Iranian nuclear facilities.

  341. “mycroft — i mean that the jcc’s accept non jews in their early childhood programs. (actually, its a: an extension of their having non jewish health club members”
    The JCCs and YU are both non sectarian,

  342. but remember it was GWBush who refused to give Israel bunker bombs when thye might have had a realistic chance of destroying Iranian nuclear facilities.

    And Reagan whose minions accused American Jews of putting Israel’s interests ahead of the US in regard to selling AWACS to Saudi Arabia in Autumn 1981; or Nixon who delayed helping Israel recover from the initial rout of the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

  343. In regard to “sweating the details” — as a goal in itself — I, again, come back to Yeshayahu 1:11-17

    יא לָמָּה-לִּי רֹב-זִבְחֵיכֶם יֹאמַר יְהוָה, שָׂבַעְתִּי עֹלוֹת אֵילִים וְחֵלֶב מְרִיאִים; וְדַם פָּרִים וּכְבָשִׂים וְעַתּוּדִים, לֹא חָפָצְתִּי. יב כִּי תָבֹאוּ, לֵרָאוֹת פָּנָי–מִי-בִקֵּשׁ זֹאת מִיֶּדְכֶם, רְמֹס חֲצֵרָי. יג לֹא תוֹסִיפוּ, הָבִיא מִנְחַת-שָׁוְא–קְטֹרֶת תּוֹעֵבָה הִיא, לִי; חֹדֶשׁ וְשַׁבָּת קְרֹא מִקְרָא, לֹא-אוּכַל אָוֶן וַעֲצָרָה. יד חָדְשֵׁיכֶם וּמוֹעֲדֵיכֶם שָׂנְאָה נַפְשִׁי, הָיוּ עָלַי לָטֹרַח; נִלְאֵיתִי, נְשֹׂא. טו וּבְפָרִשְׂכֶם כַּפֵּיכֶם, אַעְלִים עֵינַי מִכֶּם–גַּם כִּי-תַרְבּוּ תְפִלָּה, אֵינֶנִּי שֹׁמֵעַ: יְדֵיכֶם, דָּמִים מָלֵאוּ. טז רַחֲצוּ, הִזַּכּוּ–הָסִירוּ רֹעַ מַעַלְלֵיכֶם, מִנֶּגֶד עֵינָי: חִדְלוּ, הָרֵעַ. יז לִמְדוּ הֵיטֵב דִּרְשׁוּ מִשְׁפָּט, אַשְּׁרוּ חָמוֹץ; שִׁפְטוּ יָתוֹם, רִיבוּ אַלְמָנָה.

    ישעיהו פרק א

    As Hertz summarizes (Haftarat D’varim, p. 752):

    “The true service of God: obedience to the Moral Law as the prerequisite of all worship.”

  344. >Sweating the details