The culmination of the seder meal with the Afikoman matzah can, actually should, leave a distinct taste in your mouth. Some people may understandably wish to remove that taste. After the seder, are you allowed to use mouthwash or, if you generally do so on Yom Tov, brush your teeth? The Mishnah (Pesachim 119b) states that one may not take part in an Afikoman after eating the final matzah of the seder. While contemporary terminology labels that matzah as Afikoman, technically the term refers to the activity prohibited after eating the matzah. Prof. Saul Lieberman (Ha-Yerushalmi Ki-Fshuto, vol. 1 p. 521) explains that this term relates to the Greek practice of epikomazein, at the peak of a banquet, going from house to house and forcing others to join the party. After the seder, we are not allowed to act similarly.

After the Afikoman

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I. After the Afikoman

The culmination of the seder meal with the Afikoman matzah can, actually should, leave a distinct taste in your mouth. Some people may understandably wish to remove that taste. After the seder, are you allowed to use mouthwash or, if you generally do so on Yom Tov, brush your teeth?

The Mishnah (Pesachim 119b) states that one may not take part in an Afikoman after eating the final matzah of the seder. While contemporary terminology labels that matzah as Afikoman, technically the term refers to the activity prohibited after eating the matzah. Prof. Saul Lieberman (Ha-Yerushalmi Ki-Fshuto, vol. 1 p. 521) explains that this term relates to the Greek practice of epikomazein, at the peak of a banquet, going from house to house and forcing others to join the party. After the seder, we are not allowed to act similarly.

II. Eating and Drinking

The question is: why not? Presumably, religious Jews could conduct such parties in an appropriate way. What specific obligation prohibits this activity after the seder? Two explanations offered are:

  1. A prohibition against going elsewhere to eat, which includes even eating more in the same place (Tur, Orach Chaim 478)
  2. An obligation to refrain from removing the taste of matzah from one’s mouth. While you will remove some taste with the subsequent two cups of wine at the seder, you may not further remove the remaining taste. (Tosafos, Pesachim 120a sv. maftirin)

In addition to the prohibition against eating after the Afikoman matzah, there also exists a prohibition against drinking anything other than the subsequent two cups of wine. Commentators offer three possibile reasons for this additional prohibition:

  1. The requirement to continue discussing the Exodus and the laws of Passover throughout the night. Too much alcohol will prevent the study. Therefore, you may drink non-alcoholic beverages. (Tur, Orach Chaim 481 in the name of Rabbenu Yonah)
  2. A prohibition against adding to the four (or five) cups of the seder. Therefore, you may not drink even popular non-alcoholic beverages (“chamar medinah“). (Ramban and Ran on Pesachim 119b)
  3. An obligation to retain the matzah taste, as above. Therefore, you may not drink any tasteful beverages. (Tosafos, Pesachim 117b sv. revi’i)

The Taz (Orach Chaim 479:2) follows the first reason in each issue (see Peri Megadim, Mishbetzos Zahav 479:3, 481:1). However, the Magen Avraham (478:1, 481:intro) disagrees and also forbids drinking anything but water after the Afikoman, implicitly accepting the final view (on both issues). According to the Magen Avraham, not just eating but any form of removing the Afikoman taste is forbidden.

III. Beyond Eating

While smoking today is forbidden on Yom Tov because it is no longer very common (and during the week because it is dangerous), in past times it was permitted because its prevalence constituted a near-universal need (and its danger was not yet known). However, for the above reason, the Birkei Yosef (Orach Chaim 481:1), Ba’er Heitev (481:1), Kaf Ha-Chaim (481:4) and others forbade smoking after the Afikoman (drinking “titon” or “tabakmeans smoking cigarettes). Clearly, they considered smoking a removal of the Afikoman taste even though it involves neither eating nor drinking.

In general, halakhic authorities differ over whether to follow the Taz or Magen Avraham on this isssue. The general consensus seems to adopt a strict stance, at least le-chatchilah (e.g. Chayei Adam 129:14; Mishnah Berurah 478:2; Aruch Ha-Shulkhan 478:1,3). If so, rinsing with mouthwash or brushing with toothpaste would be forbidden because doing so removes the matzah taste of the Afikoman.

V. Brushing Teeth All Night

R. Avraham Borenstein (Avnei Neizer, Orach Chaim 382:5) assumes that this rule only applies during the time of the mitzvah to eat matzah. Therefore, according to the view that the mitzvah must be performed by midnight, we may eat other foods (or drink or rinse with mouthwash) after that time. However, R. Borenstein follows a broad consensus in allowing for the other possibility, that the matzah may be eaten all night (see Beis Yosef, Orach Chaim 577, 2nd entry). According to R. Borenstein, you may not brush your teeth until dawn. R. Moshe Feinstein (Iggeros Moshe, Orach Chaim 5:38:8) disputes R. Borenstein’s entire premise and argues that, according to both views, you may not remove the taste of the Afikoman matzah until dawn.

It seems to me that the consensus view would forbid brushing your teeth or rinsing with mouthwash at night. Throughout the past centuries, authorities have permitted more drinks after the Afikoman. At first, only water was allowed. Tea was added, and seltzer and lemon-flavored water and then coffee (according to some) and more. As I understand it, these authorities allowed drinks that may have diluted the Afikoman taste but did not replace it. Brushing your teeth with toothpaste or rinsing your mouth with mouthwash replaces the Afikoman taste. However, perhaps rinsing with just water or brushing without toothpaste is similar to drinking water and would be allowed. Additionally, flossing (with pre-cut string and assuming your gums don’t bleed) would be similar.

(Note that there are grounds for leniency on the second night or if this really bothers you. As always, ask your rabbi.)

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief 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 serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also 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.

52 comments

  1. While smoking today is forbidden on Yom Tov because it is no longer very common…

    Try telling that to the ultra chareidim in Boro Park, among whom I have the good fortune to be spending this pesach. Judging by the ferver with which many of them light up before, during, and after the seder, it wouldn’t be a stretch to conclude that they’ve somehow convinced themselves that smoking is a legitimate stand-in for the korban pesach.

    OTOH, should any of them so much as dream of setting a piece of matzah down on a moist portion of the table, all hell would break loose.

  2. Speaking of which, does saliva pose a risk of turning the afikoman left in the mouth into chametz if left overnight?

  3. On a more serious note, of RHS has now properly titled him Rabbi Lieberman, shouldn’t you. Gil?

  4. A Little Sanity

    “While you will remove some taste with the subsequent two cups of wine at the seder, you may not further remove the remaining taste.

    Is there any room for reality in this analysis? Matzo is not garlic. To the contrary, it is rather bland, taste-wise. Does plain matzo really leave ANY distinct “taste” in one’s mouth for any appreciable time after one consumes it? And especially after one drinks several cups of wine after eating the matzo? I’ve eaten perhaps a dozen matzos today, and including about four a couple of hours ago. I can’t taste a thing now. (I did floss after eating, but note that you indicate that flossing is permissible).

    Thus, the Tur’s explanation seems more palatable. If so, and assuming that your toothpaste is not raui l’achilas kelev, brushing should not be prohibited.

    I realize that a problem with the above approach is the weight of subsequent authority that ostensibly assumes that matzo indeed does leave a distinct taste in one’s mouth for hours, and even after drinking wine thereafter. In defense of this position, one could perhaps posit that, like some hold with the size of eggs, the taste of matza has changed over the years. Or, if you can’t swallow that, perhaps “taste” can be interpreted metaphorically. Or, if one is philosophically inclined, one could use phrases like “ontological categorization of the sages” to support the prevailing analysis. Or, one could hold that what is meant is that the afikoman taste should be the last food taste that you remember,even if it doesn’t really linger physically , and that eating other food afterwards would interfere with such recollection, and is therefore prohibited.

  5. The truth is, the question of whether it is permited for chasidim to smoke on shabbos is an interesting one. It should not necessarily matteer the smoking is assur and that the admorim who permit it are simply wrong. the question is, how do we define shaveh lechol nefesh. does it matter than in chassidic (and some other Orthodox circles) clearly is shaveh lechol nefesh

  6. The truth is, the question of whether it is permited for chasidim to smoke on shabbos is an interesting one.
    ====================================
    actually r’ asher weiss says (jokingly) they are under the rubric of shoteh patur from mitzvot!

    as to “in past times it was permitted because its prevalence constituted a near-universal need (and its danger was not yet known).”, i’m curious if anyonr defends prior practice with nishtaneh hateva (for obvious hashkafic reasons)
    ML

  7. For the historical explanation of this halachah, see Rav Dr. Yosef Tabory’s explanation in the JPS Haggadah.

  8. There are some chareidim who refrain from smoking cigarettes on pesach because of chashash that the paper and filter are made with chumetzdik starch. However no one seems to know who the posek was who first came out with this chumrah

  9. IH –regarding the Professor/Rabbi title, I have a friend who is today a conservative rabbi in a large congregation. I attended a public shiur he gave in a JTS auditorium some time ago at which he repeatedly referred to “Rabbi Soloveichik” and “Professor Lieberman,” and both individuals clearly being referred to with reverence.

    So you might want to stop looking for slights where they may not exist.

  10. Carlos — I could accept that, if Gil also refered to (e.g.) Rabbi Norman Lamm as Dr. Lamm in his posts (without the Rabbi title, as many also do with no slight intended). But, that is not minhag ha’makom.

  11. MiMedinat HaYam

    first of all, many non chassidim are smoking at my pesach hotel this year (and every year).

    “who the posek was who first came out with this chumrah” — its never a posek, its just silly people, who dont necessarily smoke on yom tov.

    (by the way, its prob the same ppl who say paper towel rolls have corn starch in them. no reputable kashrut org says that, and no one came out with a non starch supervised roll, a la aluminum pans.)

  12. IH – Clearly Gil respects Saul Lieberman. All things considered, does this really make a HUGE difference in the grand scheme of things? I mean let’s assume for a second that we could be 100% certain that Gil left out the title “Rabbi” not for some innocuous and totally harmless reason (highly likely), but dafka to make a statement. Then what?

    Well, some would probably get really self-righteous and lecture Gil on how “you called such-and-such ‘Rabbi’ so why not so-and-so!” Fine. Let’s just assume that entire exchange, and just move on to the substance.

  13. Not bothering to respond. I have no problem refraining from showing him full respect since he was the dean of the JTS rabbinical school, but this isn’t an example of it.

  14. I will continue to object when it comes up, because I think it is wrong and is worth standing up about. But, my point here has been missed — those who look to RHS as their pre-eminent living talmid chacham, should accord Rabbi Shaul Lieberman the same respect that RHS now does (as evidenced by https://www.torahmusings.com/2011/04/new-periodical-hakirah-vol-11-spring-2011/).

  15. In the Safrai Haggadat Chazal (5758) they point out quite rightly (and I believe Lieberman makes the same point) that all of this is really post-hoc analysis since the earliest stages of the Seder (and kal v’chomer during the Beis HaMikdash) did not know of an obligation to finish the korban with matzah. The simplest proof for this (and there are others as well) are the two contradictory explanations for the obligation to conclude the meal with matzah (which on the other hand, they note, is relatively ancient, appearing already in the Geonim). Either it’s meant to be a zecher for the korban itself, or it’s meant so that we finish the meal with the taste of matzah in our mouth (and these can’t be harmonized without making them identical reasons, which Safrai, and I believe Lieberman, make clear from the sources they are not).

    The halachic analysis is still obviously entirely pertinent. Once the obligation of eating matzah at the conclusion became accepted (again, this took place at a very early stage) it is binding.

    And besides, the obligation to conclude eating before the “epikomazein” stage may be even older still. In fact, note that Gil asks: “Presumably, religious Jews could conduct such parties in an appropriate way. What specific obligation prohibits this activity after the seder?”

    But this seems to me to be a pretty anachronistic assumption. The epikomazein (and, for that matter, the symposium) was a major cultural institution whose cultural weight we cannot possibly understand well enough to make such a judgment. The same goes for idolatry during Bayis Rishon: children often ask “why in the world would the people of Bayis Rishon worship stones and wood?” The reason we don’t have a good answer to that is because we can’t understand the enormously powerful forces of attraction that were operative then (and are not now). It’s therefore by far simpler to propose that the Tannaim did NOT believe that such epikomazein-like partying could be done in an appropriate way. They therefore prohibited it entirely for that very reason.

    Although this may disappoint those who like the academic stuff to be subversive, I actually think that, on balance, one could make a good case that the original customs underlying the Seder – while perhaps differing here and there with the post-hoc analysis in the post – were geared towards prohibiting people from eating tasteful food/beverages, etc. after the Seder, a la Gil’s discussion.

  16. IH: I have no problem calling him rabbi but professor is more natural for me. You can object until you’re blue in the face and I won’t care because I don’t give in to petty PC pressures. I also will not call him Grash because despite his great scholarship, he was the dean of the JTS rabbinical school and gave semicha to many Conservative rabbis.

    I call him Rabbi Lamm because that is how I refer to him when I speak directly with him. I never refer to him as Dr. Lamm.

  17. Jerry: Also discussed by Bokser, Tabory and in the recent Schechter Haggadah.

  18. r’ gil – “The Mishnah (Pesachim 119b) states that one may not take part in an Afikoman after eating the final matzah of the seder.”
    איו מפטיריו אחר הפסח אפיקומן

    The Mishnah speaks of the korban pesach not matzah.

  19. Hirhurim: Yes, but Bokser’s discussion needed updating, which the later Haggados do. Tabory has a similar discussion but differs from the Safrai discussion in terms of some of his assumptions regarding the Temple period rite (this is true for several other discussions in Tabory). I think the Safrai’s have the better of that argument, but ayen sham. I haven’t yet taken a look at the Schechter Haggadah.

  20. In the English (2009) version of Safrai (p. 148), they state:

    In the Geniza fragments that reflect the Eretz Israel nusah in part or entirely, there is no mention of eating the Afikoman. Even in those fragments containing orderly instructions for the Pesah meal, there is no mention of eating the Afikoman. […]

    The basis for eating the Afikoman is found in various versions handed down in the name of Shmuel. In the Mishna Pesahim 10, 8, it says “Do not serve Afikoman (desert) after the Paschal lamb.” Among the various explanations of Afikoman, Shmuel says that it refers to different types of food. Later in the passage in the BT someone says in the name of Shmuel that “One serves Afikoman after matzah” (120a). In other words, after the destruction of the Temple, in the absence of the Paschal lamb, it is permitted to eat different types of food after eating matzah, and Shmuel calls them Afikoman. However, another version handed down in the name of Shmuel states: “Do not serve Afikoman after matzah” (119b). In other words, even after matzah one does not eat Afikoman.

    The Poskim accepted this wording, which is found first in the passage. And thus wrote the Rif: “We agree with the first version”. In accordance with that, the commentators and the Poskim concluded that at the end of the meal one should eat a “kezayit” of matzah, since after the matzah no other food should be eaten. Some of the Rishonim thought that “the final matzah is the main matzah,” but no blessing is said over eating it, since the blessing over matzah was already said at the beginning of the meal. In the Geonic literature and later as well, there is no mention of the fact that this matzah is the same matzah that was broken and half of which was hidden for the end of the meal. However the books of the Rishonim already emphasize that the third matzah which was broken and hidden for this purpose, is the one that should be eaten, and for this act, one of the signs of the Seder was given: “Tzafun”. In the Mishna, the Talmudic literature and the Geonic literature, the Afikoman is the thing with which one does not end the meal, and the eating of the matzah came to illustrate and emphasize this halacha. However, already even in one Geniza fragment (c51), this piece of matzah is called Afikoman, and the “mitzvah of eating the Afikoman” is observed with it. In the books of the Rishonim there is a lengthy discussion of the question as to what a person should do “if he forgot and did not eat Afikoman.”

    As you can see, the English translation is clunky which is why I will end up buying the older Hebrew version as well. There is no discussion about the subject of this post beyond the instruction in the Haggadah text in the last section of the book that “afterwards, one should not eat, although it is permitted to drink wine in the context of the four cups”.

  21. Gil — your “petty PC pressures” point is belied by the fact that you, yourself, pointed out RHS’ chiddush:

    Women Rabbis? by R. Hershel Schachter – Opposes the ordination of women because of serarah, tzeni’us and following the rules of traditional semikhah (quoting “Rabbi Shaul Lieberman” on this last point).

  22. r’ gil – “While contemporary terminology labels that matzah as Afikoman, technically the term refers to the activity prohibited after eating the matzah.”
    i believe it started in the 13th century – maybe with the ravyah – that we refer to matzah as the afikoman.

  23. Yes, you are being petty by rejecting the title which he always used. In the opening pages of the Zlotnick edition of Greek/Hellenism in Jewish Palestine there is a portrait of Prof. Lieberman by Mrs. Zlotnick which she titled “The Professor”.

  24. Ruvie — see the Safrai quotation above.

  25. IH – sorry but i wrote my post earlier before i saw jerry’s and your post but hit the send button later. i would note that Rav’s position in the gemera is not discussed in your quote which comes closer to the original understanding of the word afikoman – one must not remove (or go from) one company to another.
    and yes the english translation is poor.

  26. Lawrence Kaplan

    IH and Gil: Moreover, Rabbi Zlotnick himself in his laudatory Intro refers to Rabbi Prof. Liebeman as “the Professor.”

    By the way, in the new book Mevakshei Panekha, Rav Lichtenstein refers to Rabbi Zlotnik as “Yehudi yerei shamayyim lahlutin” (p. 154).

  27. Lawrence Kaplan

    IH: Also, RHS referred to RSL as “Rabbi” in the context of referring to a pesak of his, where the title “Rabbi” was certainly called for, while Gil called him “Professor” in the context of referring to a scholarly hiddush of his. So the precedent of RHS you have invoked is not to the point here.

  28. Even his biographers refer to him as Professor:
    http://www.amazon.com/Saul-Lieberman-Man-His-Work/dp/0873341112

    Over twenty years have passed since Professor Saul Lieberman died on his way to Israel. Yet despite his prodigious intellectual attainments and seminal scholarly publications, no full-scale biography of Lieberman has appeared. For many, his life story is simply described by noting his early education in Lithuania’s traditional yeshivot, his introduction to the tools of modern scholarship in Palestine, where he commenced some of his most influential work, and the flourishing of his scholarship in America, where he taught for over forty years. In this volume, we have sought to present a broader and deeper portrait of Lieberman the academic as well as Lieberman the man – a book that we hope will prove to be of interest to the scholar and layperson alike. – From the authors’ Introduction

  29. Ruvie wrote :

    “r’ gil – “The Mishnah (Pesachim 119b) states that one may not take part in an Afikoman after eating the final matzah of the seder.”
    איו מפטיריו אחר הפסח אפיקומן

    The Mishnah speaks of the korban pesach not matzah

    That is correct .

    However, if one does accepts the premise accordfing to many Rishonim ( yes-I know that Rosh and Rashbam differ on this issue) that the Korban Pesach, like today’s Afikoman was eaten at the conclusion of the meal, when was satiated ( Al HaSova), and is viewed as a post Churban substitute for the same and Zecer Lchurban, for which Halachos and Minhagim of a Rabbinc ordinance are derived from and based on a Mitzvah Min HaTorah of Acilas Korban Pesach, a highly common occurrence in the Talmud which is predicated on the idea of Kol Tikun DRabanan Kein D”oraisa Tikun, and which can find examples of in the Seder itself as to Karpas, and many other halachos.

    Let me suggest an idea that is based on a thought of RYBS as well as a Have Amenah discussed but ultimately rejected by R Asher Weiss in his Haggadah. Alternatively, one can suggest as noted by R Asher Weiss in his Hagadah that that Acilas Matzah either is a Mitzvah of a continuos nature, as argued by Netziv in his Hagaddah Imrei Shefer and in HaEemek Sheala, or a Mitzvah with two components like Tekias Shofar. If one accepts the two component comparison with Tekias Shofar, then one can argue that just as RYBS posited that,the Tekios before Musaf are the Maaseh HaMItzvah and designed to wake us up from our slumber, and the Tekios during Musaf have the purpose of Zicron Truah as stated in the Psukim in Malchiyos, Zicronos and Shofaros and are the Kiyum HaMitzva as the internalization of the same, so too, the Matzah before the meal is the raw Maaseh HaMitzvah and the Afikoman followed by Hallel that corresponds to the Geulah HaAsidah represents the Kiyum HaMitzvah and internalization of the ultimate purpose of Leil Seder, and we are prohibited from partaking of anything that will diminish the spiritual heights, and the internalization of that goal that we have hopefully reached on Leil Seder.

  30. IH-I agree with R Gil re use of the term “Professor” in light of RSL’s being a major intellectual force of CJ at JTS and Larry Kaplan’s comments in defense thereof.

    I think that you are looking for a purported lack of Kavod HaTorah with RSL ZL, when , in fact, none has been shown or demonstrated with respect to how RSL was referred to in his lifetime, both in and out of JTS. I am sure that you are aware that R SY Zevin referred to R S Lieberman as the author of Tosefta Pshutah in HaMoadim BHalacha.

  31. Prof. Kaplan’s distinction re: RHS and RSL has some merit, the other comments are not convincing. I have said my piece, until the next occurance: it is Gil who continues to be petty on this issue.

  32. steve b. – my point was simply that r’ gil states what the mishnah said is incorrect. in that part of the post it seemed he was attempting to give some historical or timeline to the afikoman part (and what it means) of the seder (esp. quoting prof. lieberman). it would seem pashut that the meaning of the mishnah change over time to what it meant and referred by the talmud and rishonim. i just thought r’ gil should have been more accurate of what the mishnah said and what is later interpretation.

    “we are prohibited from partaking of anything that will diminish the spiritual heights” like drinking 2 cups more of wine? is it more wine = higher spiritual heights?

  33. Gil,
    lets be straight, a persons preferred appellation is not entirely relevant when referring to a great Torah scholar. No one refers to RSF Mendolovitz as “Mr.”

    Leiberman’s students and some others refer to him in scholarly writings as HaGRaSh Lieberman z(t)”l. These people believe that Lieberman was one of the gedolim of the previous generation. Period. Full Stop. However, like me, I would assume that you view Lieberman as a sort of Gadol with an asterisk, due to his affiliations with heterodox institutions. As such I would wager you seek to refer to Lieberman in way that reflects your ambivalence. “Professor Lieberman” suits you quite well. Nothing to be ashamed of.

    R. Meir Lichtenstein refers to him as “Reb” as opposed to “Harav” I presume for similar reasons.

  34. For what it’s worth, when discussing realia I’d rather see a Prof. than a R. Sure, we have to know whom we are talking about, and in this case we all know the subject being discussed and what his qualifications were. But in terms of who actually does the research and who makes original contributions to the study of Talmudic realia, if you are not looking for a recycled idea, you are probably looking for something by someone usually called Professor or Doctor and not Rabbi. In this case Lieberman was wearing his professor’s hat – if he ever wore a rabbi’s.

    Also, for what it’s worth, there was a time and it was not very long ago, that people with the best of intentions would refer to scholar-rabbis with the title Dr., including Rabbi Soloveitchik, was was almost always called “Dr. Soloveitchik” by faculty at YU (a vestige of this is the way Rabbi Lamm is also often [still] called “Dr. Lamm.”) Likely the reason for this is that it was not so long ago that Doktors were more respected than Rabbis. A professional rabbi did not have to demonstrate much scholarship, and a non-professional rabbi was a bentch-kvetcher, but a doctorate or professorship did demonstrate that the person was a scholar. I know that all of this is not so material anymore; the use of the title and attitudes toward it change. For example, today any 25 year old man who teaches Chumash to 7 year olds will be called rabbi, whether or not he likes it.

    Ultimately Gil has shown on numerous occasions that, unlike many many other Orthodox writers, he is willing to call Conservative rabbis “Rabbi So-and-so.” So I don’t know how this can be a case of refusal on those grounds and I think he can be taken at his word that he calls Lieberman professor because that is what he calls him. Anyway, Godol me-rabbon shemo.

  35. Ruvie wrote:

    “we are prohibited from partaking of anything that will diminish the spiritual heights” like drinking 2 cups more of wine? is it more wine = higher spiritual heights”

    Drinking two more cups of wine per se adds nothing spiritually unless the same, as in the Haggadah, are the anchors for the last two Lshonos Shel Geulah-meaning Bchiras Am Yisrael as the Am Hanivchar and Kabalas HaTorah, and an appreciation of the fact that Hallel after the Seudah relates to the Geulah Asidah.

  36. Lawrence Kaplan

    Interestingly enough, R. Prof. David Novak despite his clean and very sharp break with the Conservative movement (he once, rather mordantly, told me that the happiest day of his life was when the “Union for Traditional Conservative Judaism” dropped the “Conservative”) always speaks of “the Grash.”

  37. That should not be a surprise. To the best of my memory, the change at JTS to move its practice from elitist Orthodoxy to amcha Conservative was not allowed to occur as long as RSL was present.

    What is surprising is that some seem to “punish” him for what he devoted his life (successfully) to prevent. For the record, I am not advocating that he be called Grash — just the common kavod of Rabbi, which is accorded to many with an iota of RSL’s midot.

  38. “In 1940 he was invited both by Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner to teach in the Orthodox Yeshiva Chaim Berlin, and by the JTSA to serve as professor of Palestinian literature and institutions. Lieberman chose the offer by the JTSA. Lieberman’s decision was motivated by a desire to “train American Jews to make a commitment to study and observe the mitzvot.” {Saul Lieberman and the Orthodox} In Chaim Dalfin’s Conversations with the Rebbe (LA: JEC, 1996), pp. 54–63, Prof. Haim Dimitrovsky relates that when he was newly hired at JTSA, he asked Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn of Lubavitch whether he should remain in the Seminary, and the response was “as long as Lieberman is there.””

  39. I think the citation from RHS is also disingenuous. RHS said this in highly polemical context. I doubt he would refer to Lieberman as such in a discussion of Afikomen.

  40. Lawrence Kaplan

    Moshe Shoshan: I already made this point in a more temperate form yesterday at 11:58 pm. I think your use of the term “disingenuous” is too strong and uncalled for. Note that IH in his 1:57 pm comment conceded my point had some merit.

  41. Q: Does anyone withhold the title Rabbi from Meshichist Chabad rabbis? E.g. most of Israeli Chabad

  42. IH: Yes, there are definitely some people who withhold the title “rabbi” from Meshichist rabbis.

  43. On the Prof. vs. Rabbi debate, see: http://thetalmudblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/prof-avraham-goldberg-%d7%96%d7%9c/

    Where he is referred to as Prof. from an academic perspective, but from a kavod perspective is ha’Rav Professor (Emeritus).

  44. I have been thinking about the chiluk Prof. Kaplan made in “RHS referred to RSL as “Rabbi” in the context of referring to a pesak of his, where the title “Rabbi” was certainly called for, while Gil called him “Professor” in the context of referring to a scholarly hiddush of his.”

    It is logical then that those of us who were not Talmidim of RYBS should title him either Prof. (or Dr. as per S.’s comments) given that almost all of his oevre was scholarly rather than psak. But, I suspect that some would feel that would be disrespectful.

    To Moshe Shoshan’s points I would observe that RSL was to the right of Open Orthodoxy (let alone Post Orthodoxy) in terms of what he allowed at JTS. Would you condone the defrocking of Rabbi Dov Linzer because he is the Dean of YCT which arguably is institutionally further to the left than JTS was at RSL’s helm.

    Just to clarify my own view: I think people should be titled (or not) appropriate to the forum. In this forum, Rabbi trumps other titles when showing kavod; RSL, therefore, is deserving of that kavod when quoting his scholarly Rabbinic output in this forum.

  45. Lawrence Kaplan

    IH: Really. Rav Soloveitchik’s hiddushim were in the standard mode of classic Rashei Yeshiva. Perhaps we shou refer to the Rav’s uncle as Professor Velvel Soloveitchik?! Rabbi Prof. Lieberman’s hiddushim, by contrast, are in the standard academic mode. Nevertheless, I believe that in recognition of his great rabbinic learning we should refer to SL as Rabbi Professor Saul Lieberman.

    Imagine if the Rav had ended up spending the bulk of his time, say, lecturing at BRGS on the Guide. Then it would have been in place to refer to him as Rabbi Professor Soloveitchik.

  46. ” I think people should be titled (or not) appropriate to the forum. In this forum, Rabbi trumps other titles when showing kavod; RSL, therefore, is deserving of that kavod when quoting his scholarly Rabbinic output in this forum.”

    I happen to agree with you, IH, and think that Gil’s insistence on NOT using rabbi for RSL is childish. Nonetheless, your beating a dead horse on this issue is not bringing kavod to RSL. You’ve made your point (to which, I emphasize again, I agree); my respectful suggestion is that it’s time to let it drop.

  47. Joseph — I respectfully disagree. First: God knows we do not need any more schisms and I fear the logic that leads to Gil’s insistence on NOT using rabbi for RSL will also be used to “punish” others. And second: one hears complaints of the lack of talmidai chachamim in Orthodoxy’s left wing, yet the narrative of the RSL legacy demonstrates that even – or perhaps especially — if the benchmark is reached, the next battle becomes their kashrut. Who’s next?

    Prof. Kaplan – Really. To the best of my knowledge, the Rav’s written oeuvre was primarily Philosophy; whereas RSL’s was Talmud. Neither considered himself primarily as a posek as far as I am aware. Both were Rabbinic teachers. Each was unique in his generation.

  48. “the next battle becomes their kashrut. Who’s next?”

    If it becomes an issue with someone else, we can take up the battle then. My hope is that it won’t and the position you have taken might have helped that it won’t. But, again, my suggestion is that the horse is already dead so let him rest in peace. (Metaphor; not, of course, referring to a person.)

  49. Lawrence Kaplan

    IH: I still disagree with you. But rather than spell out why, and invite another round of exchanges, I will take my brother’s sage advice and let it rest.

  50. MiMedinat HaYam

    wasnt a certain rav we all know about rejected for a talmud professorship at JTS cause his wilhelm kaiser univ PhD was in philosophy, not talmud?

    irony, in light of this part of the discussion.

    if the story is true.

  51. Lawrence Kaplan

    MMHY: The story has no basis. An urban legend.

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