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A Foxman: How to turn around Jewish education investments
Community struggling to meet the needs of Jewish identity surveys’ ‘others’
Washington’s Letter Is Star of Show
France’s Jewish Problem
Olim students face scholarship cuts
Hasidic Jews in Heavy Dress Bear Up in Summer
R H Billet: Facing reality and dealing with the Internet
Rabbi Meir Shapiro and the Daf Yomi Legacy
Yeshivat Maaleh Gilboa journal: VeZot LeYehuda Vol.2
R M Rosensweig: Absolute Emunah as a Test and Prerequisite of National Leadership
Wary of draft, haredim sign up for national service
SALT Friday

The Truth about Religious Liberty
Deportation Dilemmas
Rav HaKolel, A Biography Of Rabbi Yaakov Yosef
Haredi Draft Proposal Offers Few Sticks, Many Carrots
Last Ulpana Residents Expelled
The Marijuana Rabbi
Pr M Shapiro: The Future of Israeli Haredi Society
Poverty in the Orthodox World
Stupid Shabbat
As Britain’s chief rabbi, Lord Sacks is proving a very hard act to follow
Israel is swamped with singles
Conservative rabbis file police complaint against Amar for incitement
SALT Thursday

Klezmer is Finished
Alcohol And Drugs In The Jewish Community: The Problems Few Can See
R Goldin: RCA Complexities
R Telushkin: What The Rebbe Taught
The OU And UJA: Building On Study’s Findings
Reform congregations in Hungary turn to court for recognition
More Jews Opt for Cremation
Jewish foundation creates ‘Jewish Nobel Prize’
Brooklyn DA trumped-up hate crime charges
Conservatives file complaint against Rabbi Amar
Bris Ban Raises Specter of German Hate
R Shafran: [email protected] blogspot.com
SALT Wednesday

Ulpana Neighborhood: Pictures of Quiet Eviction
Nearly one in four Brooklyn residents are Jews, new study finds
Under Pressure From Ultra-Orthodox, MDA Sets Up In-House Rabbinical Panel
Not Your Grandmother’s Grandmothers
Award-winning TV report prompts upsurge in Israeli live organ donations
Bronx tow-truck driver delivers baby
On Writing Gadol Biographies
Israel’s Female Freedom Riders Take On Bus Lines Where Only Men Sit in the Front
SALT Tuesday

Slovak Coin Honors Rabbinical Scholar Chatam Sofer
The Economics of Torah Scholarship in Medieval Jewish Thought and Practice
The Halakhic Spring – Jews Are Doin’ It For Themselves
Beyond Gee-Whiz Figures in Population Study
For Ex-Orthodox, More Than a Game
Menorah on Arch of Titus in Roman Forum Was Rich Yellow
J’lem: 5,000 protest plans to draft haredim
Tel Aviv’s religious renaissance
Social protests turn violent in Tel Aviv
SALT Monday

Prior news & links posts
Rules: link

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.

314 comments

  1. re Titus arch: Techayeh Hamaytim! I never knew the Romans painted their statues and buildings!

  2. “The arch’s menorah is thought to be the image used for the emblem of the State of Israel, though that hypothesis has been debated.”

    “Thought to be”? It’s pretty well established in the historical record.

  3. Avi — about 5 or so years back, this became a big topic as a result of research into what the Parthenon looked like in antiquity. If you Google, you’ll find lots of material.

    Gil — you have a stray bold tag.

  4. On the Slovak coin story, see also: http://www.chatamsofer.sk/ (be sure to watch the short video).

  5. I’m sorry is it just me or did the husband act inappropriately here (i.e. chasid shoteh): http://www.vosizneias.com/108634/2012/06/25/new-york-ny-tow-truck-driver-delivers-orthodox-jewish-baby

  6. ▪ Social protests turn violent in Tel Aviv
    “…12 activists were arrested in social protests in Tel Aviv, including Daphni Leef, a high-profile activist leader.”

    ▪ J’lem: 5,000 protest plans to draft haredim

    Maybe Daphni Leef should go join the Edah protest
    http://www.israelhayom.co.il/site/newsletter_article.php?id=12714
    דפני ליף, ממנהיגות המחאה, אשר לא שירתה בצה”ל, חתמה ב-2005 על “מכתב השמיניסטים” שבו מצהירים חותמיו שלא ישרתו “בצבא הכיבוש”. את דבר חתימתה חשף פורום “רוטר” ובעקבותיו נפתח קמפיין נגד ליף מטעם תנועת הימין “ישראל שלי”, שפרסמה את המכתב עצמו.

    המכתב עורר בשעתו סערה גדולה, כאשר עשרות שמיניסטים, ערב גיוסם, חתמו על מכתב שיועד לראש הממשלה אריאל שרון, ובו הודיעו כי יסרבו לשרת. “לא ניקח חלק בהמשך דיכוי העם הפלשתיני. עם החרפת המצב בישראל ובשטחים אנו מסרבים להיות חיילים של הכיבוש”, נכתב.

  7. MiMedinat HaYam

    shaul — he’ll go if they get a few academics (who continually undermine the state) to join them.

  8. Daphni Leef is a “she.” 🙂

  9. http://www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/why-this-trailblazing-feminist-puts-an-orange-on-the-seder-plate.premium-1.440392

    Ha’aretz interview with Prof. Susannah Heschel, who has strong words that some here may find (pleasantly) surprising.

  10. http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=H-Review&month=1206&week=d&msg=g3ycEl9A4qiQ4F0ESnH/Jw

    The Einleitung — an advanced technical introduction to the field of biblical studies which deals with issues of authorship, history of scholarship, and method and applies these in a comprehensive survey of the contents of the Hebrew Bible — is a familiar staple in the training and practice of any biblical scholar. Classic introductions like those of Otto Eissfeldt, Georg Fohrer, Godfrey Driver, or Brevard Childs assume the Graf-Wellhausen documentary hypothesis, which dominated scholarship until the last quarter of the twentieth century but has since been severely compromised. Even recent efforts to resurrect it acknowledge and aim to address major problems. Biblical studies is now characterized by a diversity of approaches–arguably a positive development — but can sometimes seem adrift without a shared methodological foundation. David Carr’s volume, The Formation of the Hebrew Bible: A New Reconstruction, offers a powerful anchor for this ship as he implores us to ground ourselves in what can be observed about scribal activity and the
    production of literature in antiquity.”

  11. “See also: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/06/terra-cotta-warriors/larmer-text

    I’m starting to think the science isn’t there yet. I’m guessing in 10 years or so they will revise the colors when they recognize that they are only pulling out the strongest of the colors. All these colorizations look too unnatural to me. (i.e., too pure of a color)

  12. Avi: Maybe that’s the best they could do back then.

    “The orange was to be consumed and the seeds spit out – representing the rejection of homophobia.”

    How about the rejection of homosexuality? Nah, too radical.

  13. If the truckdriver in fact “pulled” the baby or anything else “out” mom is lucky she and/or baby didn’t get seriously hurt. Speaking of shomer pesaim… PSA – As one VIN commenter says, if you are ever in this situation, you don’t pull, you catch. Among other details/lack thereof that make the story seem. Incomplete at best.

  14. MiMedinat HaYam

    color was gold since the menorah was made of gold (actually, second bayit had wood “plated” with gold; or what we wolud call gold leaf.) (besides the issue of was this the menorah in the kodesh hakodashim, or just a menorah.)

    2. does she dip the orange in vinegar or salt water (then of course she has to spit out the seeds.) of course, her pc-ness shows, like nachum says.

    3. MDA operates only within the “green line”. will the “charedi board” force the issue? for the benefit of numerous charedim who live across the (arbitrarily drawn) “green line.”

    4. “Biographers must avoid the trap of political correctness. If a certain gadol eschewed, for instance, “the Brisker derech” in learning, the biographer should not be afraid to say so, even if that is prevailing approach today.”

    its not only prevailing approach. its considered heresy to say opposite. so why does he tolerate it?

    5. what was a (messed up) charedi doing in east harlem at such an hour? (at least he took his wife with him.) and why didnt he conference hatzalah into the incident?

    now he has to name the baby “pedro”.

  15. Gil — there’s been another stray bold tag since your update this morning.

  16. interesting review of benny brown’s Hazon Ish by immanauel etkes in haareretz

    http://www.haaretz.com/culture/books/when-rabbis-are-turned-into-saints.premium-1.443787

    one interesting comment:
    “As Brown makes clear, for all of Karelitz’s abilities as a scholar with a deep understanding of Jewish texts, he was not much of an original thinker and was not particularly interested in theological questions. At the same time, the Hazon Ish did have a religious worldview…”

  17. Ruvie,

    OTOH, he was a very innovative, even radical, halachic thinker.

  18. Personally, I’m still waiting for someone to do a proper bio of the Brisker…

  19. The funniest response to Rosenblum’s piece is the person who is shocked that anyone would object to the Brisker derech. 🙂

    “actually, second bayit had wood “plated” with gold; or what we wolud call gold leaf”

    No; the Maccabbim made a temporary menorah out of their wood and iron spears; they replaced it with gold-plated silver as soon as they could, and by the time of Herod it was gold again. There is some ambiguity in Josephus as to whether the Romans took the one from the Kodesh, but it seems likely they did. It was probably melted down eventually, at least when the barbarians came.

    MDA operates across the Green Line (which isn’t so arbitrary); they just don’t want non-MDA ambulances using their symbol anywhere in Israel. Agree or not (I don’t), them’s the facts.

  20. “Nachum on June 26, 2012 at 7:32 am
    Avi: Maybe that’s the best they could do back then.”

    Pure colors are what we are able to produce today because we have great technology.

    Back then, it would be much harder to get consistently pure colors.

  21. MiMedinat HaYam

    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/magen-david-adom-pledges-to-leave-west-bank-haaretz-learns-1.399066

    under EU, other pressure. the uniform issue is just the smokescreen. and its not MDA personnel, its yesha ppl.

    and the “armistice lines” are arbitrary, in the sense that it was just battle lines at the time of the last of the “cease fires”. no historical or geographical justification, short of above. (proof is augustana (?sp?) victoria hospital enclave within an enclave.)

    2. yellow color involves titanium and more importantly (today) lead. not exactly modern technology. (at least we’re combining (aderet) “chemistry” into this discussion.)

    3. iron spears — clearly a (deoraita) problem. wooden spears, prob also. at least in spirit. (single malt, plz)

    4. IH — dr heschel says she got the orange elsewhere, in the article. its still a PC issue.

  22. IH wrote in part:

    “MMhY, Nachum — the Orange minhag dates to the early 1980s”

    That is hardly what we would call a Minhag of old vintage.

  23. IH-Actually, RHS, based on how the Baalei Tosfos in Peachim understand the meaning of Tapuach, suggests that a citrus fruit is preferable to the use of an apple for Charoses.

  24. Ahem, the ancients typically used yellow ochre, a form of iron oxide for long-lasting yellow pigmentation. Titanium in the form of the normal oxide (TiO2), and lead in the form of lead carbonate are white pigments of which the latter was used by the ancients.

  25. Artscroll Talmud KiPshuto – A commentary on the Artscroll Talmud

    I discovered this persuh from the future on the Artscroll Talmud
    (it keeps the original tzuras hadaf of the artscroll page)

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/84555595/Artscroll-Talmud-k-Pshuto

  26. Steve — As discussed Pesach-time, scholarly consensus that I have seen seems to be that Tapuach in Shir ha’Shirim was what we know as an Apricot.

    In any case, I’m surprised no one picked up on the interesting parts of the interview: her comments on the Conservative movement and the “invisible mechitsa in a lot of these Reform and Conservative synagogues”.

  27. IH,

    Interesting interview with Prof. Heschel. Thanks. Some thoughts:

    What is an “invisible mechitza” and why does she find it so objectionable?

    On another note, I’ve heard stories about JTS’ far too academic and dry nature for years. It’s sad that this is the case.

    I like how she concedes that the scholarship on the Bible (at least the 19th century stuff) was problematic not just because of its factual arguments. It’s part of the reason I prefer people – if they already accept MBC – to be Kaufmannites and Greenbergites rather than Kugelites.

  28. “As Brown makes clear, for all of Karelitz’s abilities as a scholar with a deep understanding of Jewish texts, he was not much of an original thinker”

    As opposed to? i.e. is this a CI thing, or Charedi in general? I haven’t read the article since it doesn’t seem to be free.

    “and was not particularly interested in theological questions.”

    I think that’s probably the reason he didn’t bother thinking too originally about them.

    “At the same time, the Hazon Ish did have a religious worldview…”

    Meaning, he had Charedi hashkafos? No kidding!

    What does Benny Brown himself have to say about this? I’m curious, bec (in his reply to R Levene in hamayaan) he’s at pains to prove that the CI was exposed to/influenced by, haskalah.

  29. The title is also sickeningly provocative. Typical Ha’aretz.

  30. Shaul,

    Did you read the bio? Fascinating stuff. As for him not being an “original thinker” – so what? I doubt most halachists in the 20th century cared much for systematic theology/philosophy. Their contribution was the field of halacha.

  31. Shaul. – read the article before commenting. Etkes is a first rate scholar.

  32. Shaul – “The title is also sickeningly provocative. Typical Ha’aretz.”
    maybe – but here’s what alan brill had to say: which explains the headline

    “Etkas has a great line int he review that gedolim tales “do not have the power to transmit true greatness. Readers are meant only to internalize the pat moral lessons derived from these rewritten lives, without doubting their veracity.” Etkes also points out the moral lesson of Brown that people want rabbis to address their halakhic issues and to be sensitive to the world they live in- lenient or strict is less important that sensitive and understanding. Hence, the need for contemporary hagiography to falsify that he was understanding of the need for physical work, an essential part of life in the early years of Israel.”

  33. Ariel – that is hilarious 😀

  34. shachar haamim

    a quarter century long dispute can’t be reduced to two sentences.
    If we take the example of Mesivta Torah Vodaas between the 1950′s and the end of the 1970′s as an example, even if this or that fact is partially in dispute, one simply can’t deny the fact that major power struggles took place which involved shouting, physical attacks by rabbonim against other rabbonim, roshei yeshiva locking other roshei yeshiva out of the beis midrash, and a variety of other such incidents. This dispute had MAJOR ramifications for the direction of the yeshiva – and by extension for contemporary American charedi orthodoxy – which are still felt to this very day. Just as an example, had Reb Yaakov not been “forced” into “retirement” and/or had Rav Zelig Epstein not left the yeshiva and been appointed Rosh Yeshiva, American yeshiva orthodoxy would be VERY different today in many ways. So even if this dispute was “personality” based, it boggles the mind that any biography of the major players involved in it would just omit it entirely.

  35. “shachar haamim on June 27, 2012 at 6:01 am
    a quarter century long dispute can’t be reduced to two sentences.
    If we take the example of Mesivta Torah Vodaas between the 1950′s and the end of the 1970′s as an example, even if this or that fact is partially in dispute, one simply can’t deny the fact that major power struggles took place which involved shouting, physical attacks by rabbonim against other rabbonim, roshei yeshiva locking other roshei yeshiva out of the beis midrash, and a variety of other such incidents.”
    Agreed
    “This dispute had MAJOR ramifications for the direction of the yeshiva ”
    On a personnel matter and certainly for many who attended there at the time-including musmachim-as a frum non practicing musmach from that period told me the RY acted as a bunch of babies don’t believe a word which is written about them.

    “– and by extension for contemporary American charedi orthodoxy – which are still felt to this very day.”

    Please explain the dispute was personality driven-which makes it less excusable-at least devastating actions such as RAKs cherem against the SCA could be charitably explained as based on ideological firmly held beliefs rather than merely acting as a marbe machlokes but the TV can’t be explained that way.

    ” Just as an example, had Reb Yaakov not been “forced” into “retirement” and/or had Rav Zelig Epstein not left the yeshiva and been appointed Rosh Yeshiva, American yeshiva orthodoxy would be VERY different today in many ways.”
    How?
    So even if this dispute was “personality” based, it boggles the mind that any biography of the major players involved in it would just omit it entirely”
    agreed
    see my comments at crosscurrents on this issue which to their credit they printed.
    “mycroft
    June 25, 2012 at 11:45 pm
    ” And in another case, I reduced a machlokes (dispute) of many years to two sentences. Even had I been so inclined, the publisher would surely have excised any treatment of the subject. But I was not so inclined. For one thing, each of the twenty-five or so people to whom I spoke had a different take, and I was incapable of providing an “objective” resolution. Secondly, I would have no desire to meet any of the parties – all great men – in the next world and have to explain why I wrote this way or that. Because the differences were primarily ones of personality, they had no larger significance, and their absence is irrelevant in the long-run”

    We must value truth above all and precisely because differences were ones of personality one could perhaps ignore the machlokes. To imply that these great men had qualities that clearly their machlokes showed that they lacked would be a misleading falsehood. If one can’t trust the accuracy of what one is told when one has spoken to people who know the truth how can one trust what we are told about thousands of years ago. Thus, one can’t mislead in ones biography- if one does mislead it is a challenge to mesorah which depends on good faith accurate history.”

  36. shachar haamim

    mycroft – it wasn’t entirely personality driven. There were ideological positions behind the fights as well. Having to do with traditional chassidish/litvishe disputes, who should nominally be in charge of the direction of a community yeshiva (the RY or the “hanhala”) and other issues. Issues such as should bochurim attend university while they are in yeshiva or not were part of the dispute (or were certainly impacted by it).
    I think it is fair to say that by the time the dust settled the more extreme faction “won out” and bochurim who attended university were slowly pushed out and denigrated. Had RYK, RZE and their supporters remained in the Yeshiva, they probably would have been better able to counteract the influences of lakewood and we would have seen the development of a much stronger, educated cadre of baalabtishe talmidei chachamim.
    While the appointment of the new RY in the early 1980’s would indicate that the moderate camp won out, in reality this was almost a “puppet” appointment as far as the hanhala went and this RY – while eventually being crowned the gadol hador in America in his day, and admittedly a rebbe and mashpia to thousands of talmidim – in reality had little to no influence on the direction of the yeshiva and the yeshia world in America. At best he was able in select instances to enable “exceptions” for children of known alumni who were his talmidim to remain in the yeshiva even though they attended brooklyn college or another university not generally permitted.
    I am not a professional sociologist or historian but I have no doubt that this fight was a major factor in the postponement of the creation of a Lander College type institution for about 40 years. It probably could have been done much earlier, and there is no reason to think that Rav Hutner wouldn’t have tried again along with MTV to set up the college – but in reality there was no one at MTV to speak to as they pushed RYK out and chaos reigned.

  37. If OJ writers of Jewish history would take their cue from Tanach, then they would not be prone to self-censor material that may not reflect well on some prominent personalities. Of course, such a writer would hesitate or altogether refrain from lambasting talmidei chachamim. Yet, controversial issues can be presented in an objective matter. Such treatment is really a requirement for any serious writer of history.

    With regard to Torah Vodaath, I was a student there from 1944 to 1957 and attended the Mesivta through most of the 50s. While prospective college attendance was discouraged for high school seniors, a handful of us were permitted to continue in the bais medrash and to interrupt our seder at 4:00 to leave for college. The menahel, Rav Gedalia Schorr, even gave a special shiur to college students in the Kuzari.

    The leadership of MTV in my days was fragmented. Rav Schorr was the menahel, i.e., the administrative head of the yeshiva, while Rav Ya’akov Kaminetzky was the nominal rosh ha’yeshiva. I say nominal because neither he nor Rav Schorr gave a shiur in the bais medrash and were hardly present there (Rav Schorr gave friday shmuessen, but no shiurim). The only times I saw Rav Kaminetzky were during davening and walking in the hallway. He supposedly gave shiurim to a few semicha students in the small bais medrash. I don’t know the background to this very unsatisfactory arrangement that diminished the influence of the yeshiva on its older students.

    After I left to continue my college studies in the daytime, things appear to have deteriorated further. The Bais-Medrash Elyon in Spring Valley was closed down and sold off, and Rav Kaminetzky and rav Zelig Epstein, who gave the next highest shiur in the Williamsburg bais medrash, left. I, for one, would be most interested to learn what really transpired in the yeshiva. As it is, I knew nothing of Rav Kaminetzky’s engaging personality and expertise in Tanach when I was a student. Nor did I learn of Rav Epstein’s Slabodka background and secular attainments (he had a Ph.D. in chemistry). It’s certainly time that someone wrote a proper history of an American yeshiva which played an important role in the development of Orthodoxy here.

  38. MiMedinat HaYam

    y aharon — “It’s certainly time that someone wrote ”

    would such a book really sell?

    since you were there in 40s/50s, can you confirm that there were several “rebbeim” / gemara teachers there that time period that everyone (certainly the admistration / RY) knew were kofrim, but were hired / allowed to remain cause they worked for low wages.

  39. Ruvie- I’ve read it now (thanx to IH)

    “Etkas has a great line int he review that gedolim tales “do not have the power to transmit true greatness.”
    Agreed fully. (assuming he means Gedolim tales alone.) I don’t need Etkes to tell me that. See here:
    http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/kitveyet/hamaayan/bikoret-2.htm

    This is Professor Zev Lev criticing Charedi hagioraphy-Note his report of R Yackov Kamentetzky’s attitude:
    “לאחרונה התרבו ספרים המתארים תולדות חיי גדולי התורה של הדורות שעברו. ספרים אלו כתובים לפי שבלונה אחת ואינפנטילית (ילדותית)… הספרים הללו מלאים אמת מהולים בשקר… אדגים את זה. לפני שנים יצא ספר של סופר דגול, על הגאון מוילנא… בקשתי מבני לגנוז את הספר משום שהמחבר השמיט במתכוון פרקים על התנגדותו של הגר”א לחסידות וגם השקפותיו של הגאון על לימודים כגון הנדסה… כשהרציתי את דעתי למו”ר הגר”י קמנצקי זצ”ל ענה לי שטוב עשיתי. אסור להעלים דברים מהותיים וחשובים כאלו. סילוף כזה הוא גם מעין שקר”.

    And this is a Charedi talmid of R Shlomo Wolbe responding.

    דברים כדורבנות. מה אשם הרב וולבה בסילופי אותו סופר, לא הסביר פרופ’ לב. לי אישית נזדמן לשמוע מפי הרב וולבה, בכ”ח אדר א’ תשל”ו, ביקורת על הספר הנ”ל בנושא חכמות חיצוניות. הרב ציטט את אחד מגדולי הדור, שהאמור בספר ההוא שהגר”א לא ביקש שיתרגמו את אוקלידס ללשון הקודש, אינו נכון. ויש מסורת ודאית שהגר”א אכן ביקש זאת.
    סלפנים בציבור החרדי צריכים להכות על חטא הסילוף וגם על חטא חילול השם, אבל יש כאן האשמה חד-צדדית. סלפנות היא תופעה המצויה בכל חברה. זכורני שיחה מוסרית ששמעתי מפי מו”ר הרב וולבה לפני כעשרים שנה, בה קבע כי אין היסטוריון בלתי משוחד, וכל היסטוריה אנושית נכתבת לפי נטיותיו האישיות של החוקר או הסופר. והדברים אמורים בהיסטוריונים ישרי-דרך, כל שכן בהיסטוריונים וסופרים מגמתיים.

    See also R Jonathan Rosenblum’s piece linked from yesterday.

    “Readers are meant only to internalize the pat moral lessons derived from these rewritten lives, without doubting their veracity.”
    Ditto. Same for the rest of the quote.

  40. Aiwac-
    “Did you read the bio?”
    I dabbled in it like I dabble in everything else I read. I’m not scholarly enough to read 500 pages of mehalech halimud just for fun. 🙂 Maybe I’ll eventually get around to it. In the meantime, I first want to get through R Zevin’s take on the CI in ishim v’shitos. I note that he stresses on page one of that section, the CI’s closeness to PAI.

  41. One of the most powerful points in this whole debate was made by Dr Brown in a footnote.
    http://www.shaalvim.co.il/torah/maayan-article.asp?backto=21&ed=גליון%20חנוכה%20תשעב&id=594
    71] המבקר לא נתן את דעתו כלל לחלק ההלכתי של הספר (לדבריו ‘כמעט שלא’ נגע בחלק ההלכתי [לוין, על הספר, עמ’ 100, הערה 46], אך למעשה לא נגע בו כלל וכלל). בדומה לו נהגו גם כמה מן המבקרים האחרים שבאו מנקודת ‘ההשקפה הטהורה’ אל הספר, שנגעו בעיקר בביוגרפיה ובחלק הציבורי. ותמהני, מדוע בני תורה העוסקים מרבית שנותיהם בש”ס ופוסקים לא מצאו צורך להיכנס לדיון ההלכתי, שמרבית הספר מוקדש לו?

    I have no doubt that R Chaim Kaniefsky (et al) could do so just fine, but till then, everyone else needs to put up or shut up.

  42. A very interesting piece from Yeedle’s great- but unfortunately spasmodic- blog, where Dr Brown weighs in in a comment b’chvodo u’batzmo.

    http://onthisandonthat.blogspot.com/2012/01/hazon-ish-and-r-shlomo-goren.html

  43. Shaul,

    I highly recommend taking it in doses. Brown is one of the few scholars I know who knows how to do a proper halachic analysis, and the CI was nothing if not ‘halachic’.

  44. Gil, what are your thoughts on this second Daf Yomi Siyum Hashas being organized?

    http://siyumhashas12.com/

  45. I see nothing wrong with people making their own siyum but, given some of the sponsors, I would not participate despite the interesting line-up of speakers (who clearly disagree with my judgment on this). Then again, I won’t participate in the Agudah siyum either, mainly due to lack of desire in being intensely bored for hours.

    I’m pretty sure that the MO siyum will be in English and not Yiddish.

  46. “Bris Ban Raises Specter of German Hate”

    a) if anything, it seems the targets are muslims, not jews (although jews may be inadvertently affected)
    2) i’m not convinced that anti-circumcissions are motivated by hatred (or anti-semitism). seriously, how do you rationally explain bris mila to non-jews?

  47. “Bris Ban Raises Specter of German Hate”

    a) if anything, it seems the targets are muslims, not jews (although jews may be inadvertently affected)
    2) i’m not convinced that anti-circumcissions are motivated by hatred (or anti-semitism). seriously, how do you rationally explain bris mila to non-jews?

    GIL:

    “given some of the sponsors”

    seems like most of the sponsors are not objectionable.
    i hope the agudah siyyum is not as boring as you describe, as i’m probably going.

  48. Should I be suprised Rabbi Sherman will be a speaker at this event? He’s not exactly known as MO. Not that I have a problem with him speaking or the event itself. Just wondering.

  49. MiMedinat HaYam

    some of the speakers / sponsors are impeccable, but bringing in controversial speakers / sponsors introduces controversy incvites criticism. as mentioned above.

    there was a problem with the last siyum of a particular RY who thought he was in his yeshiva, giving a shiur to his talmidim, going on and on, despite being given a time limit. NO ONE (including his talmidim, i am sure) was paying attention, and when i mentioned it to one of the aguda powers that handles logistics for this event, he admitted it was a problem, and he assured me it will not happen again ( = it will be videoed and edited).

    BTW, the last siyum was in english. (meaning few chassidishe participants.) although there already was a power grab in reference to their speakers.

    bris ban — is a prelude to shechita ban. muslim, jewish, who cares. (do muslims use some of certified circumcisers? which we really should tighten up on, internally, before its “compromised” on us.)

    RCA — when is the annual meeting / elections? they used to put it on the website, but i guess less and less tyransparency, despite all the talk.

  50. 2) i’m not convinced that anti-circumcissions are motivated by hatred (or anti-semitism). seriously, how do you rationally explain bris mila to non-jews?

    The same way you explain it to Jews: it is a covenant with God, who commanded it, and Who, as the Creator of Man, knows what is best for man.

    I don’t mean to pick on you, but I am amazed that you think the term “rationally” excludes belief in God and his commandments. That’s a sign of the times. The Rambam sure would not think so.

    (As for any concern for the baby and its health, the short answer is that we have been doing it for over 3000 years and, notwithstanding persecution that has been severe at times, the Jewish people have thrived and contributed greatly to world society. Notably, the vast majority of Jews, even those with little connection to Torah, practice circumcision. Almost all the famous Jews in the world — Einstein, Brandeis, Freud,were almost certainly circumcized, not to even mention the frum ones like Moses, Maimonides. Doesn’t seem to have hurt them any.)

  51. Two thoughts on “Klezmer is finished”:

    1) Having watched my Dad and my sister, I don’t think there’s any way to become a professional musician without going through a non-frum period. You can’t manage conservatory while being frum, so many jobs for starting-out musicians as well as top-flight professionals (like Dad) are on Shabbat. Dad’s audition for Juilliard was on Yom Kippur in 1939, a few days after his beloved teacher Schlossberg died. Dad’s uncles, who played in major orchestras all over the US and Europe, and aunts who were also professional musicians, like most of their generation, wound up non-religious.

    2) Statman’s proclamation of the end of klezmer, in connection with his losing interest in the genre, sounds rather like R Riskin’s Jewish Week editorial shortly after he moved to Israel: this is the death of American Jewry, albeit a death well-catered etc. IOW, he was clearly implying that because *he* had moved away, American Jewry would shrivel up & die. Rather self-centered, are we?

    Afterthought – my wife & Mrs Statman know each other from work.

  52. shaul – “See also R Jonathan Rosenblum’s piece linked from yesterday.’

    which article are you referring to? i saw an article written by him about the failure of chareidi advocacy – as if spin is the answer – although he admits to a hakarat hatov we should feel for the army etc. – the problem the majority of chareidim do not share his view

    now look at marc shapiro’s post on seforim blog today – about what hareidim in writing believe about democracy and the non- chareidim and why the chilonim are either scared or more likely not friendly to the chareidi world and their outlook: really eye-opening and fascinating (i really as a religious jew never thought about it in these terms):

    http://seforim.blogspot.com/2012/06/future-of-israeli-haredi-society-can.html

    btw, etkes’s the gaon of vilna is a first rate and well researched scholarly book (so is rabbi salanter and the mussar movement)

  53. Shapiro’s post, while it has some legitimate points, borders on the hysterical and hyperbolic in its language. I expect better from scholars of his caliber.

  54. aiwac — what are some examples of things you think are “on the hysterical and hyperbolic in its language” in Prof. Shapiro’s post?

    For both, I had a good laugh reading: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4248025,00.html (if you google the author he also has a previous article in ynet from 2009 that is equally hyperbolic).

  55. IH,

    Both the pot and the kettle are black.

  56. Aiwac – i don’t think he over did it. Just pointed to all the facts in writing no less. Of course, they don’t really mean their psak Halacha is what I would expect to hear. But it is disturbing if it’s our future especially for the state of israel….unless you can show where he is n error.
    The other issue is this what they are teaching the yungerlight in Israel these days?

  57. “i don’t think he over did it”

    We’ll have to agree to disagree.

    “Just pointed to all the facts in writing no less”

    More like cherry picked extreme ideological writings with no attention paid to broader (often changing) sociological attitudes including journalists outside the mainstream and internet forum discussions. There is plenty of research on the subject and thus no excuse to ignore it.

    “But it is disturbing if it’s our future especially for the state of israel”

    It is not. In spite of all the overheated rhetoric, the Charedi world has not grown by the leaps and bounds often promised in doomsday scenarios. As a proportion of the Jewish population, they still hover under 10%. The fact that so many younger kids go to Charedi schools is no more “proof” than the many kids who go to MO schools who are not MO (and often leave later).

    “unless you can show where he is n error”

    It would take a whole article to take down what is little more than an apocalyptic online tract similar to the “Black hat takeover” literature of the late 1990s.

    Like I said before, I expected better.

  58. http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/netanyahu-calls-on-shas-to-be-flexible-over-idf-draft-law-1.444459

    “[…] Haredi observers said this is an indication that Haredim are starting to sober up and take the threat being posed by the Plesner panel seriously.

    Haredi activists have held marathon telephone calls and meetings with Netanyahu over the past two days in an effort to reduce the damage to the yeshiva world that would be caused by its students being sent to serve their country, but these encounters have apparently not brought results.”

  59. Aiwac – it is a blog post after all not a dissertation. For cherry picking –
    Shapiro points out to case where in an halachik Sefer concludes one should not save a life of a Russian Jew on Shabbat.
    He mentions he can find similar rulings in other haredei halachik books.

    “Some might assume that this extremist Satmar outlook [6] is not to be found in the non-hasidic yeshiva world. However, this is not the case. I can cite parallels to what we have just seen in non-hasidic authors as well. I will mention just one such text, as it happens to be among the most depressing, and extreme, of the books to appear in recent years.[7] I refer to R. Menahem Adler’s Binah ve-Daat”

    He is not predicting a hareidim takeover – he is answering a question posed to him on what would israel look like – a thought experiment. He is quoting ravs Shach, Meir, Moshe Sternbuch om their view of democracy etc.

  60. “He mentions he can find similar rulings in other haredei halachik books”

    Then let him bring those books and correlate them with differing opinions in terms of number and authority, as well actual policy (say, of Hatzalah & co).

    “He is not predicting a hareidim takeover – he is answering a question posed to him on what would israel look like – a thought experiment”

    His footnote #2 would indicate otherwise.

    “He is quoting ravs Shach, Meir, Moshe Sternbuch om their view of democracy etc”

    I wasn’t aware Rav Shternbuch was the Mara D’Atra of anyone outside of the extremists. As for R. Shach, not everything he said is holy writ in the Charedi community (which is far from monolithic).

  61. The Jewish Press article on the German circumcision ban has attracted a large number of anti-circumcision trolls. Any assistance in combatting them would be appreciated.

    http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/german-court-criminalizes-religious-circumcision/2012/06/26/

  62. Steve: You asked recently if the latest published Orthodox Forum is up on YU Torah. It is now. Looks fascinating. (Can’t really link to YU Torah; look under “Publications.”)

  63. Fascinating article to see self awareness in a new generation.

    http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-EdContributors/Article.aspx?id=275493

  64. Charlie, in all seriousness, I nominate you. 🙂

  65. “2) i’m not convinced that anti-circumcissions are motivated by hatred (or anti-semitism). seriously, how do you rationally explain bris mila to non-jews?”

    Do they have laws against giving children pierced ears?

  66. AVI:

    ear piercing isn’t permanent

  67. Miriam Shaviv’s piece on the CR succession was spot on, although I would have enjoyed a little more focus on perceived tensions with the RW and the impact this has had on the incumbent and will have on (the choice of) his successor.

  68. Alexander Rapaport of Masbia was mostly pleasantly conciliatory in his article on chassidic poverty, although his insistence that the opposition to birth control characteristic of chassidim is absolute is very worrying.

    I actually don’t believe this to be the case because (a) inasmuch as ‘la’erev al tanach yadecha’ is not understood by the classic poskim to impose an obligation to father as many children as biologically possible, the current chassidic stance is clearly hashkafic more than halachic, as pointed out by rabbis Meyer and Messner here: http://finkorswim.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Contraception.pdf (b) I am absolutely certain that were it not for the existence of a welfare state, chassidic poskim would be far less insistent that their followers have as many children as possible – would they give them the same advice if they lived in Somalia? It is all a matter of degree.

    There is also something distasteful in his message that he’s sorry his community imposes costs on others, but, at least as far as the key aspect (i.e. people having more children than they can afford) is concerned, their hands are tied. His claim that the children born to such people (i.e. people with his views) are not guilty of anything is true, but besides the point.

  69. Professor Shapiro likes to portray himself as a staunch follower of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsh, who I admire, but I have learned not to take anything Dr. Shapiro says seriously. He wrote a whole work where he denied the 13 principles of faith. He is very far from the Torah im Derech Eretz which Rav Hirsh Advocated

  70. jo,

    “He wrote a whole work where he denied the 13 principles of faith”

    Prof. Shapiro did nothing of the sort – this is the false interpretation given to his book by people who are already Orthopractic. All Shapiro did was demonstrate that the principles are more flexible than one might think.

  71. “this is the false interpretation given to his book by people who are already Orthopractic.”

    I would say that it is the false interpretation given to his book by people who want to delegitimize Dr. Shapiro.

  72. “this is the false interpretation given to his book by people who are already Orthopractic.”

    ‘I would say that it is the false interpretation given to his book by people who want to delegitimize Dr. Shapiro.’

    Actually, both these groups do so.

  73. JO:

    “He wrote a whole work where he denied the 13 principles of faith. ”

    it’s clear you didn’t read the book

  74. aiwac — how did you conclude Jo was “Orthopratic”?

  75. jo isn’t Orthopractic. But many who say what he said are (at least internet commenters – and I’m talking about people who identify as such).

  76. “Charlie, in all seriousness, I nominate you. :-)”

    I’m honored, but I have a day job. The trolls seem not to.

  77. Y. Aharon – the period you were in MTV and the Bais Midrash in Williamsburg was when R. Reuven Grozovsky had already had a stroke but was still alive. Things were “calm” then. No one said a shiur klali b/c no dared do so while he was still alive. It was after he passed away in 1958 that all the “fun” started. The people to really speak to are people who learnt in the Beis Midrash between 1958 and the late 1960’s when R. Yaakov Kaminetsky “retired”.

  78. Charlie,

    Could you at least provide people with information resources to ward them off (or more likely, convince the undecideds)?

  79. One does not needs scholarly speculation about what Charedi control of the Government would like. We have it here in Beit Shemesh. ITs called rule for the Charedim, by the chareidim and of the Charedim. The Charedim themselves are under the thumb of the most radical among them. Violence against “Zionists” is taken for granted. And no one charedei of any prominence out side of Beit Shemesh is willing to say a word.
    One doesnt need to read shutim to know that even in the america, the Charedi world does not recognize the legitimacy of the secular goverment, accept when it is to their benefit. That it is an authoritarian culture, where even the “Gedolim” cannot publicly disagree and challenging the Gedolim in any way is completely unacceptable.

  80. Moshe Shoshan – “One does not needs scholarly speculation about what Charedi control of the Government would like.”
    that may be true but many will claim its only the extremists and folks like rosenblum will white wash it and say this not what the gedolim believe. here its in your face halacha l’measeh what they think of non chareidim jews as well as non jews. their action is supported by a theological philosophy – it also assumes that the gedolim will rule thru their officials(not advise but via psak of daat torah)

  81. “even in the america, the Charedi world does not recognize the legitimacy of the secular goverment, accept when it is to their benefit.”

    An absurd comment. Everyone, incl. Satmar, recognizes that a foreign govt. outside EY is legitimate.

  82. Depends what you mean by ‘recognize as legitimate’. They certainly don’t believe that US tax laws have a binding claim on their incomes, for example.

  83. R ‘ M Shapiro’s article was well documented but did anyone really think philosophically that there was any other result possible?

    Over at Cross Currents I have a comment in my usual moderation awaiting mode (I apparently require a lot of moderation there) on a R’ J Rosenblum piece where I suggested he give the advice he gave the Plessner group to the chareid leadership:joel rich
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    June 27, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    from R’ JR-The pursuit of perfection – and immediately – is the habitual enemy of the good.

    KT

  84. “Depends what you mean by ‘recognize as legitimate’. They certainly don’t believe that US tax laws have a binding claim on their incomes, for example.”

    Really, what’s your basis for that assertion? AFAIK, everyone holds that dina de malchusa dina applies to taxes. No one denies that if the government takes your money or property as part of its taxing power, that such is legitimate, and the proceeds are not considered stolen funds. That’s what (at minimum) dina de malchusa dina means.

    Whether that further means that you are obligated to give a full accounting of your property to the government is a different question. But I know many “Charedim” who are quite careful about it.

    So I stick by what I said — nothing in Charedi hashkafa denies the legitimacy of the U.S. government to rule the U.S.

  85. I started reading the March Shapiro blog, but stopped after his assertion that the Jewish people historically never lived under a theocracy. Maybe he has a quirky definition of that term, but what would you describe Anshei Knesses ha Gedolah, and the leadership of Ezra at the beginning of Bayis Sheni. For that matter, what would you call the Sanhedrin that ruled during Bayis Sheni and even well after it? (Yes, I know there were Hasmonean kings and then later Herodian ones, not to mention Persian and Roman overlords. But the day to day legislative and judicial control, for the most part, was in the hand of the Chachamim. Maybe that is not the same as the high priest, which Shapiro references, but then so what? Anyone think the Charedim are going to reappoint a Cohen Gadol? The likely result oof a Charedi majority is rule by a Vaad of Chachamim, like the Moetzes. Not that different from what we had in Bayis Sheni.)

    And BTW, what do people think they are davening for when they say “hashiva Shofteinu . . “? (Of course, secular Jews are frightened by that, that much I get. But what do religious Jews think about it?)

  86. I also know many ‘charedim’ who are careful about it, but I don’t think it’s wise to get into an online discussion of the opposite (and far worse, on an institutional scale). For some sources (not Satmar specific), see here: http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=50521&st=&pgnum=128

  87. Tal,

    IT seems to me that the understanding of mesirah as propounded by the charedid community in america, is based onthe fact that they do not recognize the right and responsibility of the State and Federal Governments to investigate and prosecute crimes with in the frum community. They make meager attempts to hide this by trying to get people to think that they old like R. Elyashiv on mesirah, but this is a lie, R. ELyashiv only requires consulting with a rabbi in acase where there is concern that a police report will endanger the child.

    OF course most charedim, reject the very legitimacy of the State of Israel and recognize the fundamental legitimacy of the non-JEwish Governments in Chul. However, there is a common thread of thought in which it seems that charedid leadership continues to view their communities as autonomous entities which have corporate relationships with the the government. In Israel, there is some basis for this in the implicit social contract. In america, a nation of individual citizens, it is unacceptable by any standard. Even Robert Cover, with his anacharchist reading of american constitutionalism could not justify this.

    As for taxes gezel akum etc. certainly not all charedi rabbonim think it is muttar to steal from goyim, but there a certainly are important ones that do, and say so publicly. This does not seem to hurt their standing in the community.

  88. Tal, as has been pointed out, there’s never really been an ideal halakhic state. You are speaking in idealized anachronisms.

  89. Nahum: I am not talking about an “ideal halakhic state.” I am talking about a ruling government run by rabbis. Are you seriously suggesting that the Sanhedrin in Bayis Sheni and even well afterwards did not exercise what we would today call political power (judicial and legislative)? Granted other players were involved (the various Jewish kings, and empires), I still don’t see how you don’t characterize that as a “theocracy,” or more accurately “rabinocracy.” (To coin a term).

  90. Tal — the question is, which type of rabbis can rule a modern state: chareidi rabbis who only look in their daled amot, or dati leumi rabbis who feel a responsibility for the well-being of the entire populace? That is what Prof Shapiro is hinting at.

  91. Tal – ” I am talking about a ruling government run by rabbis’ – you ask a critical question of what is our understanding with regards to history and authority. its no doubt that the jewish people followed the rule of the torah. who ruled and decided will be the issue. with regards to the sanhadrin there is much dispute. again, it will depend if you go by mythology or the facts as we know them (which is incomplete). but rabbis didn’t exist til much later.
    as nachum said anacchronisms – but i would let the scholars here opine on this – as opposed to what we were taught in elementary scholl.

  92. Ruvie,

    OK, but the Kings and later the High Priests ruled based on Torah (at least the good ones) and the instructions of the Nevi’im.

  93. Well, all the Kings and later the High Priests claimed they ruled based on the Torah. So, we’re back to: who’s the posek for the State?

  94. The most ironic thing about Marc Shapiro’s piece is that he relies on stuff from the Eidah Charedis to forecast what a Charedi state will look like. The basic problem with that is that any Eidah’nik will tell you that it’s assur to have ANY Jewish state before moshiach comes and if Satmar Chassidim ran it, it would only make things WORSE. The SR in his intro to Al Hageula V.A.T. made quite clear that (to him) the only acceptable solution to the Jewish state is to give it back to the UN where it came from. Thus, asking what a Eidah state would look like essentially makes for a barber’s paradox
    http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/EWD/transcriptions/EWD09xx/EWD923a.html

    Dr Ravitzky actually made this point quite briefly in his Kahane-bashing piece, and extended it to Charedim in general:

    “In the radical ultra-Orthodox perception (as exemplified by Neturei Karta and Satmar Hasidim), confrontation is the product of the negation and sharp rejection of the secular Jew, and of the very existence of a Jewish state, in pre-Messianic times. The potential for an outburst and a clash is here to be found in the uncompromising rejection of the other Jew and his institutions.

    On the other hand, in the very same perception one will also find the machinery for holding back and for limitation. It is a time of exile, not of redemption. In other words, we are living in an age of non-fulfillment, of imperfection, of “broken vessels”—not in an age of totality, of ultimate Messianic realization. Hence, the meaning of our actions, too, is not a total meaning, nor does it approach the borders of the absolute and the eternal. This awareness has a sobering, restraining effect: We must not try to hasten the advent of the Messiah, the ultimate redemption. The Jew in exile has always known how to accept his fate, wait patiently, subsist and survive under foreign rule and bend under adversity. Even here, in the Holy Land, we have not yet been redeemed from our spiritual exile (and we do not recognize political redemption without spiritual redemption). In the nature of things, therefore, we must expect nonfulfillment, faulty performance and partial solutions. Not everything hangs in the balance awaiting final and absolute decisions.”

    He expands on this in his Ha’ketz Hamegula WRT satmar as well as Charedim in general.
    Put simply: There will never be a Satmar revolutionary guard because there won’t be a draft, because having an army is assur. Period.

    The scariest part for me is that if I hadn’t lived in a dira in Meah Sh’earim myself, I might have bought this Animal Farm prediction. There is still no substitute for actually meeting people if you want to asses their characters.

    Ruvie- I was referring to this piece: ▪ On Writing Gadol Biographies

  95. “Well, all the Kings and later the High Priests claimed they ruled based on the Torah”

    …uh, do you have reason to think they were lying, IH, or do you just like poisoning the well for fun?

  96. Shaul,

    But to play Devil’s advocate – R. Shach & co. are not Edah Haredit.

  97. if I hadn’t lived in a dira in Meah Sh’earim myself, I might have bought this Animal Farm prediction. There is still no substitute for actually meeting people if you want to asses their characters.

    Shaul — you anecdotal sample of one reminds me the oft-quoted “but, he was such a nice and quiet man” when neighbors are interviewed about the murderer arrested down the block.

    When I last looked at the comments on his post, I did not see any objections based on Charedi seforim that demonstrate Prof. Shapiro has cherry-picked sources.

  98. aiwac — very nice.

  99. On a more serious note, the idea of a modern state run by present-day halacha is absurd on its face. Rabbis and thinkers close to RZ tried for decades to square that circle with no success.

  100. aiwac – don’t disagree – but the rabbis didn’t have any power to way after the second bayit – that we do know. and the law of the land prior to that is the torah – but what that means and who decided and how – i am not sure of (its the lack of knowledge on my part at this point).

    but what do you mean by “rule”….what body of jewish law existed at that time? who decided how to interpret it? (again, i have no idea and would appreciate any info or thoughts of what we know or speculate about this issue)

  101. “AVI:

    ear piercing isn’t permanent”

    Neither is a bris. Plastic surgery can do amazing things. 😛

  102. “but rabbis didn’t exist til much later” — Hillel and Shammai were not “rabbis?” Shimon ben Shetach (who hanged, IIRC, 40 witches in one day)? Rabban Gamliel? That’s news to me.

    The gemara in many places discusses the chachamim acting as judges throughout both EY and Bavel, and the Sanhedrin enacting takkanos and even judging major cases (like the servant of Yannai ha Melech in Sanhedrin).

    Unless you want to say all those gemaras are fairy tales, it seems clear to me that some political power was exercized by the chachamim — who are the forebears of our present day rabbis, and indeed many were called “Rabbi” or “Rav” in Bavel. That’s a theocracy in any normal meaning of the term.

  103. “aiwac – don’t disagree – but the rabbis didn’t have any power to way after the second bayit – that we do know. and the law of the land prior to that is the torah – but what that means and who decided and how – i am not sure of (its the lack of knowledge on my part at this point).

    but what do you mean by “rule”….what body of jewish law existed at that time? who decided how to interpret it? (again, i have no idea and would appreciate any info or thoughts of what we know or speculate about this issue)”

    Josephus has some comments about this. He seems to imply, and the story is pretty much backed up by Tanach, that it was pretty much a secular government, as we would call it. Prophets and Rabbis were held in high esteem, but were not directly the ones in charge. Those would be the warlords/Shoftim and Kings. The kings handled their kingdoms the way all kings run kingdoms. However, unlike other Kings, their strong religious convictions were based on Judaism, and the Jewish people. Even the Hashmonayim ruled the country this way.

    It’s really the same way that Israel is run now. However there is a lot more religious baggage in Israeli elite society than there needs to be, to create a nice harmony. There is also way too much power to be lost by anti-zionists, over their own followers, if they change their tune at all.

  104. “Unless you want to say all those gemaras are fairy tales, it seems clear to me that some political power was exercized by the chachamim — who are the forebears of our present day rabbis, and indeed many were called “Rabbi” or “Rav” in Bavel. That’s a theocracy in any normal meaning of the term.”

    There have been beit dinim for centuries all over the world making rulings and enforcing them… that doesn’t mean they had full political power. What it does mean, is that the powers they were subjugated to, allowed them to exercise some power of their own.

  105. I’m struggling to understand Tal’s argument. Jews under foreign sovereignty have often been given responsibility for Jewish communal governance (e.g. “Qahal was the name of the autonomous governments of Jewish communities in Eastern Europe”). But, this is not the same as theocracy: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/theocracy

    The last time during which Jews had sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael – and the form of government was theocracy — was during the early part of the Hasmonean period.

    In regard to the Talmudic period, for example, what (State) power did the Rabbinic institutions have over the early Christians beyond eventually excluding them from the Jewish community?

  106. Tal – the talmud bavli redacted in the 8th? century and the yerushalmi in the 5th are not reliable at all for history – or historical data – as has been shown over the last 30 years.
    stories are stories and have other values besides historical accuracy.

    that there was an unusually close connection between the prescriptions of rabbis and the jews behavior – let alone the ruling authority – is questionable – although assumed until recently by many zionist historians – alon and his followers.

  107. In fairness, Rambam does write in the Yad (http://www.mechon-mamre.org/i/e511.htm)

    אף ישוע הנוצרי שדימה שיהיה משיח, ונהרג בבית דין

    So there is a legitimate reference to a theocracy in Tannaic Eretz Yisrael, but I don’t think this is a normative belief in modern Orthodoxy.

  108. avi – thanks. in the end it will depend how we define torah. and what that meant at that time.

  109. IH: the Latin term you are looking for is imperio in imperium. The chachamim had authority over the Jewish community in many areas, Bavel is a primary case. Granted someone could become an apostate, but within the community they had such authoriy. (The Rosh even has a teshuvah that discusses whether teh local beis din Spain could administer capital punishment for blasphemy at the authority of the local king.

    Ruvie: Sorry, I cannot accept what you write. If Chazal say, for example, that Shimon ben Shetach administered capital punishment, I have no reason to think otherwise. (And if you accept that, then you have an exercise of power.) That may not be the “scholarly” thing, but so be it.

  110. “So there is a legitimate reference to a theocracy in Tannaic Eretz Yisrael, but I don’t think this is a normative belief in modern Orthodoxy.”

    What’s not a normative belief? That they judged and condemned that particular man, or that they had the authority to judge capital cases. The latter is pretty mainstream.

    (In fact, now that I think of it, the gemara that says the Sanhedrin exiled itself 40 years before the churban so as not to have to condemn too many to captial punishment, seems to say pretty clearly that before that that is what they were doing. Not to any particular person, but generally.)

  111. Tal — if you’re going to be condescending, at least get it right. The latin phrase is imperium in imperio.

  112. I do not believe it is normative that Jesus was put to death by a Beit Din, as Rambam writes. Or did the anti-Semites have it right all along!

  113. IH: I am not being condescending. That was the legal theory in the Roman empire, and I think it accurately describes what was happening there and in Bavel (or Parthia as we call it). It did later become a perjorative to imply disloyalty among the Jews to the local kingdom/state.

    The Nasi in the time of the Roman occupation was recognized as a local authority (when, of course, they weren’t persecuting them).

  114. Tal – i understand. shimon ben shetach might have i don’t know. rabbinic literature, it has been argued, is not simply a repository of ancient traditions, but a carefully self selected material that has its own self interests and beliefs of its redactors.
    the documents may not reflect reality of times but rather attempts to reconstruct the past with their own ideology. they may have been would be leaders who never gain the power or authority we assume in antiquity – hence marginal players till much later later on.

  115. Tal — I started off by agreeing that Jews were often given responsibility for their communal affairs. Please re-read my comment of 4:33 pm and address where we disagree (if we do).

  116. I haven’t been following closely but all I can say is that I do not share the critical (some may cynical) attitude that many commenters here have toward Talmudic history.

  117. Ruvie,

    Is the position your stating the unanimous view of scholarship today or simply the dominant one (there’s a big difference)?

  118. You guys (Tal and IH) are talking around the real issue. The fact is that the world has changed enormously since the time when Jews last exercised self-sovereignty, and in ways that are not all bad.

    So, if Jewish religious sovereignty and justice are to be restored, as we all pray for, then either the law is going to have to change (and there is ample mechanism for that) or people are going to have to change–back to what they were 1,500 years ago.

    A simple example: Would a modern Torah-based polity allow slavery?

  119. aiwac — you may be interested in http://www.thejewishweek.com/arts/books/past-imperfect. I just started reading it.

    BTW, I think you misunderstood my reply to you at 3:18 pm. The unstated key is your parenthetical “(at least the good ones)”. No need to re-open, but I wanted to clear the air if it was a misunderstanding.

  120. aiwac – no idea – whats dominant anymore – others here may know. but i think most agree- or has been shown – that the talmuds do not reflect history as we know or understand it.

    r’ gil – never cynical but critical in the technical sense. do you believe that titus and r’ yochanan met as told by the story in kamtza and bar kamtza? is it history or literature or both? again, history is a modern invention. what is your view?

  121. Ruvie,

    Most historical sources don’t reach the level of history as demanded by Von Ranke. That doesn’t mean that we need to summarily dismiss them. There are other options.

  122. Ruvie: History used within literature. Yes, someone named Titus or representing him met R. Yochanan.

  123. Tal – even the talmud yerushalmi never describes the rabbis possessing jurisdiction in the technical sense. rabbis could threaten, plead and cajole but not subpoena or impose a sentence see ymoed katan 3:1,81d; Y nedarim 9:4,41c.

  124. aiwac – i am not summarily dismissing them. but i believe – and you probably know more about neusner and his followers and their work – it has been shown that rabbinic literature is very unreliable for historical data and reflects more the redactor’s message or ideology used in the setting of history. facts are not important to the redactors.
    other options? please explain – but if you are referring to alon and others i believe they have generally proven wrong and have assumptions that are read into the text.

    i have no ideology here – just what the facts bear out from a critical view. i have no problem in believing anything – to me its faith or cultural history not history as we define it in the modern era.

  125. Gil — And Cleopatra (literate in Tehillim) to Rabbi Meir:

    שאלה קליאופטרא מלכתא את ר”מ אמרה ידענא דחיי שכבי דכתיב (תהילים עב) ויציצו מעיר כעשב הארץ אלא כשהן עומדין עומדין ערומין או בלבושיהן עומדין

    And Caesar with his daughter (both speak) to Rabban Gamliel:

    א”ל קיסר לרבן גמליאל אמריתו דשכבי חיי הא הוו עפרא ועפרא מי קא חיי

    Can’t we just recognize that not all aggedeta are meant to be taken literally?

  126. Not all names refer to the people with whom we are familiar from elsewhere.

  127. קליאופטרא מלכתא is pretty specific.

  128. MiMedinat HaYam

    i wanted to stay out of the theocracy debate, but i will note that rabbis do have subpoena power in the united states, in the context of a (momonot; its easy to turn any case into a momonot case, with somwewhat limited implications) bet din case. (article 75 subpeona in NYS).

    the fact that they rarely use it indicates they will be very circumspect in using their “governmemntal” powers in any “modern” theocracy. (most dayanim dont even know they have that power. and its subject to enforcement. but the commissioner of baseball, finra, and amer arbitration assn, among others have no problems enforcing.)

  129. MiMedinat HaYam

    what about nose piercings? (that is protected religious activity under the old testament)

  130. r’ gil – don’t know but we do know its not titus – he wasn’t in area at the time.
    the bavli redacted the story differently from the original source (middrash rabbah or yerusjalmi taanit or both?). they knew titus, r’ yochanan , and the destruction of the temple but unlikely r’ yochanan or any rabbis had the prestige and power ascribe. more importantly, it is the message conveyed not historical details or facts. do you believe all the stories in th etalmud abbout rabbis etc are historically accurate and happened?

    i assume in orthodoxy there is room for those that question the accuracy from an historical perspective. but you never know with the shifts of time.

  131. IH: They even got names of Tannaim and Amoraim confused. It’s certainly possible that an exaggerated title crept in.

    Ruvie: Shifts of time??? This is what got R. Azariah De Rossi in trouble centuries ago!

  132. Ruvie,

    When did Neusner become the end-all and be-all of scholarship?? When I was studying in Bar-Ilan, he was viewed with some disdain (but then maybe there’s a difference between Israel and the US).

    The hyper-skeptical attitude is the easiest (and frankly laziest) route a scholar can take. I don’t have much respect for it, whether in Jewish Studies or the study of other ancient civilizations such as India or Greece (Neusner didn’t invent the “I don’t believe any of it” attitude).

  133. An interesting take on Prof. Etkes’s review discussed here yesterday: http://menachemmendel.net/blog/?p=5982

    “Rabbis, Their Families, and Hagiography”

  134. aiwac – neusner should be disdained in general (for other reasons than scholarship as well )- but in this area which he pioneered in the 80s – followed by students – i believe is correct. its gedalyahu alon’s – i think i am attributing this correctly but can be wrong – assumption – which ruled the day – that the historian needs to separate the wheat from the chaff in these stories to find the historical kernel that i think has shown be incorrect. they assumed the stories reflected described jewish life and deeper social and political conflicts among jews etc. i see from a book i just opened that its only israeli scholars that operate this way today – following the trend from judische wissenschaft.

  135. aiwac – “The hyper-skeptical attitude is the easiest (and frankly laziest) route a scholar can take’

    well, we disagree. its not i don’t believe anything unless its 100% proven. its that rabbinic literature has been shown to be unreliable in regards to historical stories. when facts show up – whether via geniza or other ways – that question assumptions you need to explain it away or your whole premise falls apart. alon at that time had no comparable sources for that period so it was easy and lazy to impose their ideological – read zionist – readings into the text.

    it makes sense that a redactor in the 8th century will reflect an historical story that reflect his views and may not care for its accuracy for any details or rework early stories – which the bavli does – for its on uses. not lazy at all – actually requires more work than your system. you actually have to show why it does NOT reflect history.

  136. “i will note that rabbis do have subpoena power in the united states”

    Rabbis don’t have subpoena power. Arbitrators appointed pursuant to Article 75 who happen to be rabbis (or lawyers, or baseball players, or accountants, or bloggers or…) have subpoena power.

  137. “Rav HaKolel, A Biography Of Rabbi Yaakov Yosef”

    For a more scholarly and critical recent review of the book, see http://tinyurl.com/6n6yp8p

  138. On the subject of Cleopatra in the Talmud, I recently read this short and insightful article by Prof. Joseph Geiger of Hebrew U that was published in Zutot in 2001 (a Hebrew version appeared in “Cathedra” in 1999): http://tinyurl.com/7xk34za

  139. “Shaul,
    But to play Devil’s advocate – R. Shach & co. are not Edah Haredit.”

    That’s exactly my point. People have to stop running together the Agudah and Satmar/Eidah viewpoints. They are as different as can be. The SR in VM claims that the Agudah has become a part of the Zionist movement, and the Minchas Eluzer in Divrei Torah writes that the Agudah caused more damage than their tziyoni brethren because they pretended to be Chareidi. The Steipler in Krayna De-igrisa very politely says that the Satmar shitah amounts to giluy pannim b’torah. (As an aside, the SR actually writes that democratiya is very nice for the Goyim just not for Yidden who have to listen to God’s Torah.)
    Within the Eidah you have to diffrentiate between Brisker opposition which never bothered with the Sitra Achra business because no Halachic Man is going to run around believing that kind of demonology. (In fact Ravitzky classes them with the Agudists, since his chapters are arranged by basic theology.)
    Within the Aguda you have to diffrentiate between Belz which recently hosted some tziyoni to speak about the Mossad, and R Shach who would have recoiled at that.
    Add to that the difference between Todos Aharon/Avrohom Yitchak and Satmar re ivrit, and it gets even murkier. (It doesn’t end there either.) My point: There is no ‘Charedi position’ to speak of, and if you want to make a case that someone is pushing for a theocracy, you’re going to have examine each strand’s collected views separately instead of pieceing together some patchwork like Marc Shapiro did. I recommend reading Ravitzky’s book. You can even take it in one sitting.

    “Shaul — you anecdotal sample of one reminds me the oft-quoted “but, he was such a nice and quiet man” when neighbors are interviewed about the murderer arrested down the block.”

    Not at all. I’m claiming that it’s ridicoulus to claim that half the block I live on, interact with on a daily basis, have exchanged views, have listened in on some of their conversations, spoken to children who likely aren’t old enough to play coy with me etc., secretly hold beliefs amounting to the protocols of the elders of anti-zionism. How would you react if I claimed that a signifigant amount of peolpe who daven with you in HIR (or wherever) hold esoteric Chareidi beliefs and are secretly funneling millions of dollars to Kupat Ha’ir?

    “When I last looked at the comments on his post, I did not see any objections based on Charedi seforim that demonstrate Prof. Shapiro has cherry-picked sources.”

    I haven’t checked recently either. At any rate, I don’t expect any demonstrations to be able to compete with your truisms. I’ll let others judge for themselves.

    For those looking for a far more sympathetic (and I think accurate) assesment of the Charedi viewpoint, here’s another book by Ravitzky:

    http://www.idi.org.il/PublicationsCatalog/Documents/PP_50/האםתתכןמדינתהלכה.pdf

    He’s a heckuva lot more thorough on than anyone could possibly be in a blog post. IH- Start reading. I expect a detailed and reasoned critique by tomorrow

  140. Shaul — Sorry, but could you point me to where in the linked article Prof. Ravitzky discusses the perspective of Charedi thinkers?

    As an aside, in footnote 35, he references Prof. Menachem Friedman whom I didn’t think most Charedim would find sympati (but, maybe that’s just the Chabadnikim).

    That said, it looks like a fascinating article that I have downloaded for a more thorough read at some point.

  141. Aiwac – see rubinstein’s intro to his book – Talmudic Stories for a very good synopsis of the history and development of scholarship in the field.
    http://books.google.com/books?id=ykQSvRqwHbEC&q=Neusner#v=snippet&q=Neusner&f=false

  142. Gil
    However, I agree, Talmudic stories do in many cases contain accurate historical data, theproblem is that in that in most cases we have no reliable tools for figuring out which oparts of the story are historical and which are not. Assuming everything is historical until proven otherwise is bad historical thinking.

  143. Well, one thing we know is that Titus wasn’t killed by a bug in his brain. 🙂

    IH, just want to point out that there was more than one Cleopatra, but they all died well before R’ Meir.

  144. “Assuming everything is historical until proven otherwise is bad historical thinking”

    So is the converse.

  145. aiwac – ““Assuming everything is historical until proven otherwise is bad historical thinking”
    So is the converse.”

    i think it has been shown that moshe is right on this point while the converse – or should we say a healthy cautious attitude towards stories is better for an accurate appraisal. that doesn’t mean i agree that all stories are falsification of the redactors (if so, then you are right that the converse is also less plausible). rather we need to use all the tools available to understand the message of the stories as any historical truths.

    moshe- “…we have no reliable tools for figuring out which oparts of the story are historical and which are not” – isn’t that the same as being skeptical if there is any real historical data if you cannot figure it out. and do you believe multiple stories – many contradicting -can be harmonize like alon and others and explain away the details that are inconvenient?

  146. Nachum – once you show that some stories are historically impossible or factually wrong like titus and how he died what does that say about the whole endeavor? shouldn’t we assume that the stories are messages and not historical reality and serve that former purpose in a shell of what they thought was possible?

  147. Ruvie,

    That same logic can be used to dismiss the historicity of any ancient source, e.g. Josephus. Do we just dismiss all of them wholesale? Alon’s derech (if you will) is to to try to get to the kernel of truth within those stories.

  148. To cut to the chase, the TSBP maximalists won’t make any significant concession beyond comments such as Gil made yesterday at 5:45pm, 6:04pm and 6:24pm. They are entitled to their foolish beliefs, as long as they don’t accuse those who don’t subscribe to their view as non-Orthodox or worse. Eilu v’eilu.

    That said, what I find intellectually dishonest is those who want to be in both camps simultaneously.

  149. to try to get to the kernel of truth within those stories.

    Sometimes that that misses the point. The story is the kernel of truth: i.e. the truth is not in its historicity.

  150. Moshe Shoshan: Talmudic stories do in many cases contain accurate historical data, theproblem is that in that in most cases we have no reliable tools for figuring out which oparts of the story are historical and which are not

    I don’t see why we have to be boxed into an attitude that has reliable tools. History is not a science.

    Nachum: just want to point out that there was more than one Cleopatra, but they all died well before R’ Meir

    I find it highly unlikely that every single woman named Cleopatra or something similar died before R. Meir. Perhaps what you mean is that all the people named Cleopatra whom we know from other sources died well before R. Meir.

    Ih: That said, what I find intellectually dishonest is those who want to be in both camps simultaneously

    You mean like R. Benny Lau?

  151. IH – Sometimes maybe the story is the kernel of truth, but in most cases the story contains kernels of historical truth.

    The way I see it is just like “yeshivishe maysos” today about gedolim in Europe. Many of them may be agenda-driven and partially anachronistic, but the basic storyline about the specific people involved is probably true. (Sometimes the personalities involved are changed too). The same is true of the stories in the gemara about tannaim. The basic storylines are historically true – the agendas and anachronisms not withstanding. That’s why you have parallel but not quite matching stories in the Bavli and the Yerushalmi about the same incident with (usually) the same tanna.

  152. Tzvi – “Alon’s derech (if you will) is to to try to get to the kernel of truth within those stories.’

    true. it has been shown through numerous studies not to be accurate or it doesn’t work. they imposed their ideological readings on the past without adapting to corrective historical evidence. instead as info became available (or was all along) they explained it away. whether it archaeology, geniza or other data.stories were transmitted but the question is how accurate were they to begin with before changes were made.
    i don’t think any historians today believe that the rabbis controlled jewish life to the extent that alon and his school imagined. the problem is one person’s wheat is another person’s chaff. also, what do you do with the contradicting data as well as contradictions within rabbinic literature?

  153. r’ gil – “I don’t see why we have to be boxed into an attitude that has reliable tools. History is not a science.”

    there is no problem in believing stories – is legends a better word? – based on tradition or faith. but it has nothing to do with the “science” or methodologies used in history – hard to call it history at all. that being said when inconvenient facts comes to light must all of be explained away? wouldn’t it be better to say the rabbis had messages that were more important than the story itself and its based on their transmission whether accurate or not. looking at the stories via other methods produces interesting – or less refutable – results.

  154. “inconvenient facts”

    In my experience, those facts are less substantiated than is often claimed. They are more speculation based on tiny bits of evidence.

  155. Ruvie,

    I’m not sure what ideological agendas Alon had, but I’m pretty sure they did not affect his work any more than Neusner’s agendas did his. (And truthfully, I like Alon’s agendas better than I do Neuner’s :)) The point is that there is historical truth in there somewhere and just dismissing the Talmud as a source for historical facts because it has its agendas is no different than dismissing any other ancient source because of that reason.

    Not to mention that dismissing Alon and co. because they have an agenda is no different than dismissing feminist or any other hyphenated historians. Remember that they have an agenda and take what they say with a grain of salt, but sometimes they bring a new and valuable perspective to the table.

  156. I note with dismay the assumption that the soft science of history, which often reflects the bias and historiograpgical POV of a historian, is assumed to be a hard science whenever historical episodes commented by Chazal , who represent the Mesorah of TSBP, are mentioned.

  157. tzvi – alon and his school held that “jews had always constituted what amounted to be a nation even when they lacked political self determination, mainly because judaism always had a national component at its center. and conversely, the jews were always devoted to judaism because of their overwhelmingly powerful national sensibility.”
    the assumption here is there was an usually close relationship between rabbis prescription – ancient jews presumed spiritual leadership – and the jews’ behavior. this has major implications on how these historians would read rabbinic text – presumption of goodwill as oppose to suspicion(the view of most non israeli scholars). therefore rabbinic prescriptions would be able to accurately describe life of the jew during this period. but if alon would be careful for even the yerushalmi shows the rabbis authority was neither absolute or unchallenged during 3rd and 4th centuries.
    its a romanticized view of the past. which is contrasted now to what we know via the geniza and other documents and artifacts.

    i would never dismiss anyone for having an agenda – don’t we all do? its only when the facts – not the tiny ones gil mentions – tell a different story one must relook and reevaluate our basic assumptions. as these facts came about in the 60s and 70s – neusner’s break through turned the discipline in a different direction where literary techniques and form and/or source criticism – as well as linguistics became more dominant.

  158. “Shaul — Sorry, but could you point me to where in the linked article Prof. Ravitzky discusses the perspective of Charedi thinkers?”

    IH- It’s a whole book, but if you’re looking for something tamtziti, it can be found on Pg 27, 2nd paragraph. http://www.idi.org.il/PublicationsCatalog/Documents/PP_50/האםתתכןמדינתהלכה.pdf

    While we’re on the topic of Charedim, here’s a link you might find interesting:
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/yisrael-beitenu-habayit-hayehudi-leave-committee-tasked-with-replacing-tal-law.premium-1.444716

    “Military service for ultra-Orthodox men was the focus of the proposals being drawn up by the Plesner Committee, but it was the issue of drafting Israeli Arabs that led to the latest coalition crisis. Yesterday coalition partners Yisrael Beiteinu and Habayit Hayehudi announced their withdrawal from the committee, which is formulating recommendations for civilian and military service for all Israeli citizens.

    “The parties said their decision was based on the committee’s refusal to accommodate their demand to draft all Israeli Arab citizens when they turn 18.

    “In fact, the Plesner Committee yesterday agreed to adopt a model of universal service that would also include the Arab community, but it did not go far enough for Yisrael Beiteinu and Habayit Hayehudi.”

    So much for shivyonut nonsense. You really can’t make this stuff up.

  159. Looks like it didn’t link to the exact page, but the info is where I said it was.

  160. tzvi – ftr, neusner is a dislikable character – famous story how he blacklisted one of his students after the student found mistakes in the prof. essay (i hope that was acceptable to write since is well known). also, much of his translations of yerushalmi and others were sloppy and lack methodology – per s. lieberman. how can one write 1000 books of real scholarship to begin with (i heard he writes in long hand)?

    that being said, this one area of the historical accuracy of aggadah seems to be accepted by most in the scholarship world – but not his other conclusions.
    you take the emet where you can find it but always with a critical eye that you can be wrong.

  161. “Olim students face scholarship cuts”

    this is a terrible move. for all sorts of reasons the best time to get olim is at this stage in their lives. these students should be getting increased assistance rather than having to face cuts.

  162. steve b – believe whatever you want to believe – just don’t call it history as we refer to it in our common language but maybe history as WE know it. it has nothing to do with mesorah but that is another can of worms.

  163. “A Foxman: How to turn around Jewish education investments”

    provocative

    GIL:

    “Yeshivat Maaleh Gilboa journal: VeZot LeYehuda Vol.2”

    my impression is you’re not fond of yeshivat kibbutz hadati. shkoyach for linking.

  164. The YMG daf lineup seems about as slanted as Ami magazine, just in the other direction…

  165. my impression is you’re not fond of yeshivat kibbutz hadati

    I can’t say that I know what it is.

  166. Gil – You need to spend some more time in Israel. You’ll be able to observe both the Charedim and the RZ in their natural habitats. Makes for better anthropology.

  167. IH wrote:

    “That said, what I find intellectually dishonest is those who want to be in both camps simultaneously”

    Would you mind identifying such persons, as opposed to dealing in innuendo?

  168. >Nachum – once you show that some stories are historically impossible or factually wrong like titus and how he died what does that say about the whole endeavor?

    Ruvie – use caution.

  169. Ruvie-As long as we recite observe some Mitzvos of a Rabbinic nature whose “historicity” has never been accepted outside aside from those who view Mesorah as an integral part of the transmission of TSBP, history, which is one of the softest (and most biased science , depending on the biases of the historian) can never provide a “definitive” answer. Those who trust history over Mesorah are IMO obsessed with a search for certainty where there are no historical or other completely verifiable facts.

  170. s. i hear ya. but i wonder if many – or at least some -in the ortho camp can believe that the 6 days of creation is not literal (“the torah is not a biology book or history book” said by many a rabbi) or the flood should be understood allegorically because of finding in geology then at what point do they scrutinize our aggadatah on a historical basis. don’t we believe that the message and meaning is most important?

    otoh, where does one draw the line is a fair question. just asking to those out there with similar or different views.

  171. steve b. – please explain which mitzvot. do i need to believe that yaakov avinu really fought with the angel to observe the halacha of gid hanasheh? or is the rambam view – i think – of a dream makes the mitzveh any less relevant? i don’t think so.

    no one is looking for certainty – it doesn’t exist. its what is more likely and/or plausible that some of us care about when finding contrary evidence.

  172. GIL:

    “I can’t say that I know what it is.”

    it is what it sounds like. it is the yeshiva of the kibbutz hadati movement, i.e., yeshivat maale gilboa. (the truth i’m not sure what the yeshiva’s relationship is today with kibbutz hadati, although when it was first founded and called yeshivat hakibutz hadati at maale gilboa–to distinguish it from the other branch z”l in ein tzurim–it was the yeshiva of the kibbutz hadati movement.)

  173. steve b. – ” Those who trust history over Mesorah …”

    so i assume you take every aggadatah – our mesorah – as a literal historical fact contrary to any goyish evidence? take nachum’s titus death via a fly as an example.

  174. > don’t we believe that the message and meaning is most important?

    We?

    I think that it is a mistake to sweepingly say that we can and do know nothing about the rabbis of the Talmud. Perhaps all of them were even literally inventions? Maybe there never was a Rabbi Akiva.

    Of course Neusner was on to something when he perceptively pointed out that the Talmudic historians just unquestioningly swallowed everything, even when there were mutually exclusive contradictions. But surely we should not go so far as to say that even with caution we must assume everything is fable, or there is no possible way of ever extracting probable fact from fiction.

  175. s. – ” But surely we should not go so far as to say that even with caution we must assume everything is fable, or there is no possible way of ever extracting probable fact from fiction.”

    agree – sorry that did not come thru. but it is hard to separate fact and fiction. and biographies based on what is written is suspect because of the contradictions. but i am in agreement: the question of what we can gleam is open for debate and needs other methodologies to help figure it out.

  176. Fair enough. But here’s a thought experiment. Rabbi Akiva was originally not from the class of rabbis, but became one. Is it reasonable to believe this is almost certainly true?

  177. s. – “it is a mistake to sweepingly say that we can and do know nothing about the rabbis of the Talmud”

    did i give that impression? if so, that i amend it. one should view what we know on the sole basis of what is written with some suspicion based on contradicting evidence in our own rabbinic literature as well as other outside evidence. But i would submit that the rabbis were more interested in their message via the stories more than historical accuracy of said stories (and they had no issue in filling in the blanks on stories that were handed in skeleton form).

  178. Ruvie wrote:

    “steve b. – ” Those who trust history over Mesorah …”

    “so i assume you take every aggadatah – our mesorah – as a literal historical fact contrary to any goyish evidence? take nachum’s titus death via a fly as an example.”

    I think that your response is a conflated overreaction to my post. I think that one can and should be able to distinguish with some nuance between Aggados that are fanciful, not related to Pshat, and which are a collection of reasons offered by Chazal to explain passages in Tanach ( see for example a passage in Nedarim on why Avraham Avinu was punished) and other Aggados that form Ikarei HaDaas. One need not resort to the extremes of accepting all Aggados with the same seriousness as Halacha, which became popular in the wake of Maharal’s works, or rejecting all Aggados. It behooves anyone who is skeptical of Aggados that Rashi, Ramban, Ibn Ezra and many other Gdolei HaMfarshim advise anyone learning their commentaries that there is a hugs difference between Pshuto Shel Mikra and Aggados.

    I also think that viewing all Aggados as historically unproven can lead the unwary person to adopt far more problematic perspectives vis a vis far more important elements of Hashkafa 101 such as BriasHaOlam, the lives of the Avos and Imahos, Yetzias Mitzrayim, Kabalas HaTorah, and many important fundamentals of the Yamim Noraim, Shabbos Kodesh and the Shalosh Regalim.

  179. S wrote :

    “Fair enough. But here’s a thought experiment. Rabbi Akiva was originally not from the class of rabbis, but became one. Is it reasonable to believe this is almost certainly true”

    Neither was Resh Lakish. The Talmud sets forth much about the lives of R Akiva and Resh Lakish IMO to show how far the mitzvah of Teshuvah can transform a person’s life.

  180. S wrote:

    “I think that it is a mistake to sweepingly say that we can and do know nothing about the rabbis of the Talmud. Perhaps all of them were even literally inventions? Maybe there never was a Rabbi Akiva”

    Chas VeShalom!

  181. s. – on rabbi akiva – yes. i am not saying rabbi akiva didn’t exist but are all the stories historically true or accurate? don’t know. the first real study i believe was on r’ yochanan ben zakai which showed the inaccuracies and inherent contradictions in the stories themselves that questioned the previous methodology as deficient and unreliable.

  182. STEVE BRIZEL:

    “The Talmud sets forth much about the lives of R Akiva and Resh Lakish IMO to show how far the mitzvah of Teshuvah can transform a person’s life.”

    i’m not an expert in talmudic biography, but who says rabbi akiva was a chozer be-teshuva? yes, he emerged from a humble background, intellectually and financially, to become a torah giant and leader, but how is he the paradigm of a chozer be-teshuva?

  183. doesn’t everyone today in the academic world assume that the story of R. Akiva nad his wife is an invented legend?

  184. steveb. – “One need not resort to the extremes of accepting all Aggados with the same seriousness as Halacha…”

    it begs the questions that until the modern era we did believe that all the stories were factual histories of the jews. and if the halacha and the aggadatah were written by the same people and you believe in the divine of tsbp then how can they be inaccurate on a historical basis? does one just pick and choose to the fashion of the times? btw, i am not referring to any aggadatah that explains tanach per se (but that is an interesting differentiation) but rather to stories from pre churban during beit shanei to 700 ce.

  185. >doesn’t everyone today in the academic world assume that the story of R. Akiva nad his wife is an invented legend?

    That may be, but my question is whether the real kernel – Rabbi Akiva wasn’t a scholar and became one, can be presumed to be true. To me it seems more reasonable that it is then that it is not. If not then we truly know nothing of the man, and he may as well be Paul Bunyan. I am curious what others will say.

  186. Ruvie wrote:

    “it begs the questions that until the modern era we did believe that all the stories were factual histories of the jews. and if the halacha and the aggadatah were written by the same people and you believe in the divine of tsbp then how can they be inaccurate on a historical basis? does one just pick and choose to the fashion of the times? btw, i am not referring to any aggadatah that explains tanach per se (but that is an interesting differentiation) but rather to stories from pre churban during beit shanei to 700 ce”

    First of all, don’t conflate this into a subset of the “if the halacha and the aggadatah were written by the same people and you believe in the divine of tsbp then how can they be inaccurate on a historical basis? does one just pick and choose to the fashion of the times” argument. If Rashi , Ramban and Ibn Ezra advised anyone studying their works that they considered more than a few Aggados as not related to or aiding in Pshat, I think that one can easily find many levels of Aggados-which I outlined in my prior post. All it takes is nuance, as opposed to the equally simplistic and objectionable IMO “all or nothing” approach which is argued by the take all Aggados seriously school or the reject all Aggados advocates.

  187. Abba-IIRC, R Akiva prior to becoming a Talmid Chacham, hardly had a positive view towards Torah study. In that sense, both R Akiva and Resh Lakish are clearly viewed as BTs who transformed their pasts.

  188. The conclusion of Yadin’s article is to Steve’s point in a way:

    What matters is that the shift toward scriptural authority entails a new rabbinic ideal type: while extra-scriptural halakhah is authorized by the sages’ scholarly genealogy, midrash is ineluctably textual and requires the ability to read, to study Torah, to learn interpretive techniques—all activities traditionally associated with the priestly elite. In other words, a rabbinic shift to Scripture entails a concomitant shift toward an ideal type who would bea gifted midrashist, but clearly not part of the (priestly?) elite. This is precisely the function of R. Akiva’s aggadic biography, as the two most prominent elements in it, his poverty and his ignorance early on in life, mark him as a new kind of interpreter: a master of midrash who does not—could not—emerge from the elite circles.

  189. steve b. – please reread my posts we are talking past each other. i am not referring to the aggadot you are speaking of – as i mentioned in my previous posts. therefore rashi etc have no impact on this discussion. i would assume that rashi et al would believe that these are historical stories.

  190. R Coffer is going after RNS on RSRH again. Anyone looking for a fun Charedi to fight with may enjoy going at it with him:

    http://slifkin-opinions.blogspot.com/2012/06/what-chazal-knew-and-what-we-know.html

    The previous post to the one linked to appears to have attracted a yeshivishe nutcase with a trangendered internet name. Ah well…

  191. STEVE:

    “Abba-IIRC, R Akiva prior to becoming a Talmid Chacham, hardly had a positive view towards Torah study.”

    source please.

    “In that sense, both R Akiva and Resh Lakish are clearly viewed as BTs who transformed their pasts.”

    yes, they both transformed their lives. this doesn’t make r. akiva a BT.

  192. Ruvie-I have read your posts. IMO, you have a categorical “take it or leave it” to Aggados which is a mirror image of the view that we must accept every Aggadah blindly. I think that anyone who has ever studied Chumash with Rashi or any of the many Aggadic passages either in the Talmud or elsewhere would agree that there are numerous ways of understanding Aggados, as opposed to either accepting or rejecting all.

  193. steve b. – ” you have a categorical “take it or leave it” to Aggados ‘ – you fail to comprehend. all i said is that those that believe there are historical truths or accuracy in aggadot have been shown to be unreliable and contradictory their own other sources (therefore one should read these stories with a skeptical eye and search for meanings that chazal wanted to convey as oppose to history). another interesting analysis is on elisha ben avuya – also known as acher.

    shabbat shalom

  194. R Elyashiv is still writing letters, but only in english.

    http://www.flipdocs.com/showbook.aspx?ID=10002477_985102

  195. Abba & Steve:
    מסכת פסחים מט:
    תניא אמר רבי עקיבא כשהייתי עם הארץ אמרתי מי יתן לי תלמיד חכם ואנשכנו כחמור

  196. GIL:

    thanks.
    although now from the other post you have me in the mood of dan lechaf zechus. maybe r. akiva meant that he wanted to taste and consume torah 😉

  197. S. – on r’ Akiva it seems that only post tannaic sources describe him as an am haaretz. Some have him as a merchant and others claim there is room to believe that he may have studied for the first 40 years based on manuscripts- see ih’s link. Do not know the scholar but as we see contradictory evidence from our own rabbinic sources. What is an am haaretz to do or believe?

  198. Ruvie-did you see R Gil’s citation of Pesachim 49b-is that post Tannaitic? How is a Braissa considered Post Tanatic if we understand that a Braissa is merely a statement of a Tanna that did not make the Mishnah, but was collected by R Oshiya?

  199. Abba wrote:

    “yes, they both transformed their lives. this doesn’t make r. akiva a BT”

    Why not? Why isn’t transformation of a person’s life considered Teshuvah?

  200. IH-Look at it this way-look how R Akiva in the last Mishnayos in Yoma and Makos offers a POV which RYBS viewed as being stated in the aftermath of Churban Bayis Sheni that reassures his contemporaries that there is no need for an Avodas YK because everyone can achieve the Taharah of YK via Teshuva and that the destruction of Bayis Sheni is the guarantee of the ultimate building of Bayis Shlishi

  201. MiMedinat HaYam

    the ” ‘others’ identity survey” category in the second listing refers to the author’s organization for intermarrieds. the article does not state that his advocacy is for intermarrieds.

    while i agree that getting olim through scholarships is important to keep them, jpost should have mentioned a success rate and / or how many take the scholarships and dont stay. also, they dont have a constituentcy to advocate for them, like many of the BT (and other) yeshivot have.

    nytimes article on overdressing for tzniut interview a woman wearing a sweater. that is overdoing the tzniut on her part.

  202. Another taste of Yadin’s JQR article on the פסחים מט reference:

    Aside from the possible but ultimately speculative interpretation of zeh ha-‘am offered above, nothing suggests the Palestinian sources are aware that R. Akiva was an ‘am ha-’arets in his youth, even though two of these passages, yPesahim 6.3 and yNazir 7.1, thematize his beginnings as a rabbinic scholar.

    […]

    Unlike the Palestinian sources, the Babylonian Talmud here provides a clear assertion that Akiva was ‘am ha-’arets as a youth, apparently selfevident background information introduced in order to explain the animosity he harbored toward the sages during that period.

    Whether Yadin’s analysis withstands critical scrutiny or not, I don’t know. But it is a cogent documented thesis in a credible journal and well worth reading.

    For those not aware, NYPL library card holders can access JQR articles (and many other journals) from any location: http://nypl.bibliocommons.com/item/show/19096235052_the_jewish_quarterly_review (select Academic Search Premier when you get to the next page).

  203. steve b. – from ih’s link – on th bpesachim passage r’ gil quotes

    “Unlike the Palestinian sources, the Babylonian Talmud here provides a
    clear assertion that Akiva was ‘am ha-’arets as a youth, apparently selfevident background information introduced in order to explain the animosity he harbored toward the sages during that period. Wald, in his commentary to the Babylonian Talmud’s tractate Pesahim,
    argues that this passage is an interpretation of yNazir 7.1, on the basis of the shared
    element found in both, the saying that ‘am ha-’arets merits death. According to Wald, in the Yerushalmi this notion is implicit in R. Akiva’s statement that whoever does not attend upon the sages—i.e., remains an ‘am ha-’arets—deserves death.”

    also,
    “Surveying the post-tannaitic sources—Bavli, Yerushalmi, and Avot de
    Rabbi Nathan—it is evident they represent different and often incompatible traditions. R. Akiva either was a shepherd who left his wife to study Torah in Jerusalem; or a young father who first went to study with his son at the local school at the age of forty; or perhaps he decided to dedicate himself to the service of the sages after he carried a corpse four mil, unaware of the ritual impurity he was thereby contracting. There are other discrepancies as well: in the Babylonian Talmud,”

  204. steve b. – again, i do not how good this scholar is but as ih said its worthwhile to read:

    “With one important exception (discussed below), none of the motifs concerning R. Akiva’s youth—the shepherd, the late-blooming ignoramus who attends school with his son, the student whose brilliance is not recognized by his teachers, the cadaver-carrying disciple—is attested in tannaitic sources. In and of itself, this silence does not refute the ‘‘historical kernel’’ approach. Tannaitic literature is, on the whole, disinterested in biography, so the R. Akiva traditions may have been known (and perhaps even true) but not recorded in these collections. Only later, after the
    stature of Akiva grew and rabbinic authors gained a new appreciation of biography, were the facts of his life first recorded and then embellished.”

    please do not misunderstand – i am not saying r’akiva wasn’t an am haaretz before studying torah but the rabbinic literature has many contradictory statements in this matter.

  205. Ruvie-None of the statements quoted in your last post take issue with R Akiva’s lack of Torah knowledge as a child and young adult until the age of 40-what they offer are different examples of conduct reflecting ignorance until Akiva Ben Yosef decided to learn Torah and thereafter become R Akiva.

  206. steveb. – read the article. an am haareretz doesn’t simply mean a lack of torah knowledge for you are allowed to kill one on yom kippur that falls on shabbat.

    again i am not advocating anything here. just like many stories in the talmud about our great sages there is contradictory statements throughout our rabbinic literature that makes you question the historical accuracy of many statements (with regards to personal historical facts) – would you agree? at least read some articles before you comment.

    shabbat shalom

  207. what they offer are different examples of conduct reflecting ignorance until Akiva Ben Yosef decided to learn Torah and thereafter become R Akiva.

    Steve — Since both the Yerushalmi and Bavli include stories about Rabbi Akiva, using Tannaim as their source, one would assume some corroboration in the Yerushalmi for the Bavli narrative. Find it.

  208. היו ימים: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3IV7fWGfKI

    The 1984 NRP advertisement that was recently discussed in a ynet OpEd this past week. It is not suitable for those who are makpid about the issues the OpEd highlights:

    “After all these years, I had forgotten how different religious Zionism had been back then. In the clip you see young women in skirts that were above (yes above!) the knee. There were even a few girls in pants, tee shirts with short sleeves.

    You could see teenage boys and girls running together in a B’nai Akiva activity. And, heaven help us, there were even girls standing on a stage and singing.”

  209. “The Nasi in the time of the Roman occupation was recognized as a local authority (when, of course, they weren’t persecuting them).”

    Is there a Roman source for this?

  210. Charlie: Yes, indeed. For example, Roman sources mention the end of the institution, in the course of which they describe the tax that was paid to him.

    Steve: Yes, I view all historical sources with doubt. Of course history isn’t perfect, so let me turn the question around on you and ask why Chazal’s history is. Do you really believe that the Second Bayit was built in 350 BCE? (And if you want to make an accusation about the miracle of the oil, feel free to spell it out. That’s probably the only one you can cite, though.)

    As to Reish Lakish, it’s interesting to point out that the stories are all in the Bavli. The Yerushalmi (which we can safely assume knew him better) knows him only as “Shimon ben Lakish,” with no evidence of any sort of wild past.

    Gil: Of course there were Cleopatras. But no *Queen* Cleopatras, as far I can tell.

    Ruvie: So you go through them carefully. For example, I have no reason to doubt that R’ Yochanan ben Zakai was not on the side of the Zealots and took steps to counteract them. Did he literally meet with Vespasian? Maybe. There are lots of people who spend their time studying this.

  211. Moshe Shoshan

    Nachum
    Actually there are very few people who spend their time studying these sorts of questions because historians today generally agree that it is difficult if nhot impossible to get reliable answers to such specific questions. Historians these days are much more concerned with the wider sweep of the development of the Rabbinic movement not with individual biography. This doesnt mean that the stories dont contain accurate information, only that we have no way confirming or disproving chazal in most cases.

  212. Moshe Shoshan

    Charlie
    The Chruc Father Origin claims that the patriarch actually was dan dinei nefashot, but most historians reject the accuracy.

  213. Nachum- I think it has been shown that it is not possible and the stories should be treated as literature set in an historical setting which changes -details – depending on the final redactor. Scholarship has moved on.

  214. I think Moshe Shoshan’s answer is the most sensible one.

    Just my 2 cents.

  215. Charlie – I think it’s more complicated and depend what time frame. It is doubtful is the nasi had any authority post 70 or 135 ce for a while – til, late 4th century. When the Romans annex an area the locals have no authority and all legal action is decided by roman courts.
    At some point the nasi became legitimate appointed authority but I think it is much later. Doesn’t mean we can’t romanticize about it.
    Some in scholarship today think they and the rabbis were marginal players for around 300 years. You also need to separate the patriarch/nasi from the rabbis.

  216. Ruvie,

    Not everyone is as skeptical and reductionist as the people you read. I recently had the pleasure of reading Prof. Aharon Openheimer’s Hebrew bio of Rebbi Yehuda Hanassi and he is far from being as dismissive of Rabbis and Rabbinic literature as, say, Seth Schwartz.

    You are doing a serious disservice to the field by presenting the most skeptical and iconoclastic people as the sole (or even dominant) people in the field with everyone else being on the sidelines. Jewish Studies scholarship is much more multifaceted than that. It’s not an either-or situation.

  217. Aiwac- I am given a viewpoint that I think is correct and you are correct that is straight from schwartz. But I see no one is even considering that view.
    It’s not dismissive of rabbinic literature at all. I guess there is a real difference from Israeli scholars and everyone else. But it is questionable how much power or even authority the nasi had – even g. Alon admits this from 2nd to 4 th century I believe.
    If rabbinic literature is contradictory how is it dismissive.

    I believe moshe shoshan is correct – and is what I have saying – maybe a little stronger- all along.

  218. “Aiwac- I am given a viewpoint that I think is correct and you are correct that is straight from schwartz. But I see no one is even considering that view”

    And there are others who reasonably disagree and are no less prominent than Schwartz. But they don’t get listed among your many “scholars believe” entries.

    “I guess there is a real difference from Israeli scholars and everyone else”

    Israeli scholars are an important part of the scholarly world, especially Jewish Studies. Ignore them at your peril.

    “I believe moshe shoshan is correct – and is what I have saying – maybe a little stronger- all along”

    No, it is not. You have consistently presented what YOU think to be correct to be the sole (or almost sole) position in the academic world while ignoring or failing to mention many prominent scholars who believe otherwise. This is disingenuous and deceptive.

  219. BTW, for those who are interested, you can read Openheimer’s bio of Rebbi and a whole host of Hebrew language scholarly works for 25 NIS a month here:

    kotar.co.il

  220. Aiwac – “Israeli scholars are an important part of the scholarly world, especially Jewish Studies.”
    No doubt about that. But scholarship has moved away from the assumptions of not only Israeli scholarship of the kernels of truth in the stories- and shown it to be a false assumption conclusively. That was my major point. The work now being done has to do with understanding the stories as literature with meaning as oppose to any history lesson. Deriving history from these stories has shown to be futile.

    As to the nasi – well scholars disagree. But we do know there was a rise and fall in authority over the centuries and the replacement of the nasi eventually but the rabbis.

  221. “But scholarship has moved away from the assumptions of not only Israeli scholarship of the kernels of truth in the stories- and shown it to be a false assumption conclusively”

    To paraphrase Ronald Reagan – “There you go again”, quoting the scholarship that convinced you as conclusive and dominant and dismissing or ignoring those that don’t.

    “As to the nasi – well scholars disagree”

    Nice to see you admit this. We’re making progress. Next thing you know, you’ll be presenting the range of existing opinions and stop presenting one school as all of “scholarship”.

  222. Aiwac – oh aiwac I though I knew you well.

    In rubenstein’s third book on Talmudic stories (stories of the Babylonian Talmud) introduction:
    “Beginning in the 1970s, scholars shifted their understanding of the genre of talmudic stories from historical testimonies to didactic fiction….. A wealth of studies, however, demonstrated that this approach [historical testimonies] was untenable: rabbinic storytellers changed, reworked, and shaped the sources they received, and also invented new ones, to accomplish their didactic goals.”

    http://books.google.com/books?id=NbQK3Yz9F2EC&q=A+wealth+of+studies#v=snippet&q=A%20wealth%20of%20studies&f=false

  223. “Aiwac – oh aiwac I though I knew you well”

    What does that mean?

    “Beginning in the 1970s, scholars shifted their understanding of the genre of talmudic stories from historical testimonies to didactic fiction….. A wealth of studies, however, demonstrated that this approach [historical testimonies] was untenable: rabbinic storytellers changed, reworked, and shaped the sources they received, and also invented new ones, to accomplish their didactic goals.”

    ..and this proves what exactly? That many scholars support your position? We knew that already. I don’t get why you’re so insistent on this.

  224. For this that want to understand the debate about stories in the Talmud see the following link:

    http://thetalmudblog.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/gafni-continues-the-debate/

  225. I have no use for that kind of historical scholarship. I will just point out that Prof. Louis Feldman does not adopt that attitude in hiss recent books.

  226. Aiwac – it seems it proves scholarship has moved on. See moshe shoshan comments.

  227. Ruvie,

    That post supports what I have said time and again – there is a range of positions on this. Nothing more.

  228. “Aiwac – it seems it proves scholarship has moved on”

    No, it proves many scholars have changed their focus, something which I never disputed. It does not prove that the great monolith you call “Scholarship” exists (rather than many scholars with different positions) or that it is as unanimous as you present it. The disingenuity continues.

    (BTW, your mention of the post shows that Rubinstein is not a disinterested surveyor but very much on one side of the debate)

  229. I will just point out that Prof. Louis Feldman does not adopt that attitude in hiss recent books.

    Can you elaborate? I thought his scholarship was primarliy regarding Josephus and Philo rather than Talmud.

  230. Rubinstein is not a disinterested surveyor but very much on one side of the debate

    Who are the comtemporary scholars on the other side of the debate?

  231. IH,

    I already mentioned Aharon Oppenheimer. I imagine Zeev Safrai is too, maybe Gafni also. I’m sure there are others; the trouble is they write mostly in Hebrew…

  232. Although he is more skeptical about details than I am.

  233. Gil — thanks for link to Prof. Feldman’s book. I agree with his principle that “one should start with the premise that statements by the Rabbis in historical matters are deserving of some consideration” but, from a quick perusal it seems to be a side-point rather than one based on Talmudic scholarship.

    aiwac — I’m not so sure that either Safrai or Gafni could be considered the other side of the debate in the sense that neither (as far as I know) advocates that these stories should be assumed to be historically accurate. On the latter, see in particular his review of Rubenstein in Jewish History (2011) 25: 355–375. For example:

    Rubenstein convincingly points to the Babylonians’ repackaging of these Palestinian stories, thereby effectively cancelling their continued role as sources for the history of talmudic Palestine. It is here that the greatest revisions of the historical narratives will be required, and just one prime example is the need for a complete reevaluation of the role of am ha’aretz as indicative of a violent relationship between sages and non- (or anti-) rabbinic Jews of Roman Palestine.

  234. Aiwac – Gafni may be the wrong guy for you-
    “Gafni acknowledges that scholars like Rubenstein and his predecessors have changed the rules of writing the history of the “Talmudic era” irrevocably, “

  235. IH and Ruvie,

    OK, I’ll concede on the point of Talmudic literature but not on Schwartz’s theses which are more debatable. I think Shoshan’s point is well-taken, though – we don’t have the tools for evaluating what’s accurate or not, but that doesn’t mean it’s all wrong.

    Who knows? Maybe someday we’ll have the tools to do so.

  236. Side point:

    “Gafni acknowledges that scholars like Rubenstein and his predecessors have changed the rules of writing the history of the “Talmudic era” irrevocably”

    Acknowledgment of rewriting the rules is not the same thing as accepting every point. This is true in much the same way that the “New Historians” helped re-write and redirect Zionist historiography even though many of their specific arguments are still in dispute.

  237. Aiwac – I do agree that Gafni doesn’t agree on everything but scholarship has shifted. I think schremer is the advocate you are looking for.

  238. R’ gil – Feldman is the wrong one to point to for anything outside of Josephus and maybe philo – even there we wouldn’t agree on his scholarship. He really never touch the Talmud because he viewed it like the Torah – untouchable for scholarship. He was to frum.
    Do you choose your scholarship based on the person’s frum ness and connected to your hashkafa only?

  239. “I think schremer is the advocate you are looking for”

    I’m sure there are others (Safrai is probably more conservative, but I can’t access the articles where he debates Neusner on the point).

    “but scholarship has shifted”

    “Scholarship” is always shifting – and in many directions. That’s neither here nor there.

    In any event, I think this discussion has reached its apogee.

    KT

  240. IH wrote:

    “Steve — Since both the Yerushalmi and Bavli include stories about Rabbi Akiva, using Tannaim as their source, one would assume some corroboration in the Yerushalmi for the Bavli narrative. Find it”

    The Bavli discusses R Akiva’s background in Pesachim 49b which is a direct Tanatic statement in the name of R Akiva. Only a “Judaic studies scholar” as opposed to a Talmid Chacham deserving of that description would find it hard to believe that R Akiva was hardly a Talmid Chacham until he reached the age of 40.

  241. My starting point is that Chazal are correct so of course a frum historian will be more to my liking. Non-frum hisstorians give Chazal the same or less credibility than Romans, so their opinions don’t interest me much.

  242. For what it’s worth, here is a recommendation from Gafni (in the review I previously mentioned): “In his introduction to volume I (pp. 1–33), Rubenstein provides the reader with one of the best introductions to the history and current state of research on the critical reading of rabbinic aggada (since its publication, I have included it as required reading for all my courses on the rabbinic period)” URL for the Google Books view of that chapter (available in its entirety) is: http://tinyurl.com/6ow8c75

  243. My starting point is that Chazal are correct

    Note, though, that Prof. Feldman, in the reference you provided, only goes so far as to say they are “deserving of some consideration” in regard to historical matters.

  244. I agree with R Gil’s views re frum vs not frum historians. For those interested re the background R Akiva, see Tosfos in Ksubos 62b s.v. Dhave Tznea and Ritva to Ksuvos 62b. Ritva specifically notes “Aval Acharei ken Chazar lmutav— Vacharei Ken Kava Atzmo LTorah Kdisa Haca.”

  245. Steve — see also:

    Yerushalmi Sotah 9:15, 24c
    Yerushalmi Pesachim 6.3, 33b
    Yerushalmi Nazir 7.1, 56a

  246. IH,

    I read the Gafni review. I thought it very instructive how he quoted a source as saying there is a substantial divide between Israeli scholars who are more conservative and American and European scholars who are far to the other extreme, thus confirming my suspicions of Ruvie’s monolithic description of scholarship.

    In any event, I find Gafni’s description far more nuanced and middle-groundish than anything discussed here (in either direction).

  247. Ruvie wrote:

    “again i am not advocating anything here. just like many stories in the talmud about our great sages there is contradictory statements throughout our rabbinic literature that makes you question the historical accuracy of many statements (with regards to personal historical facts) – would you agree? at least read some articles before you comment”

    I disagree-what we have been presented with are different statements as to the degree of R Akiva’s Torah knowledge or lack thereof prior to the age of 40-none of the statements posit otherwise. One need not read articles that IMO do not constitute Torah Lishman or a Cheftzah Shel Torah on R Akiva to recognize this fact or to offer theories external to the transmission of TSBP to realize this Davar Pashut UBarur.

  248. He also mentioned Elman as being less extreme than Rubenstein, though I would like to hear from those who are familiar with the former’s work…

  249. aiwac — yes, I prefer the nuanced approach myself. I think we also need to make sure that we don’t miss the forest for the trees. Even if one accepts the changes made by the Bavli redactors (as Gafni has been convinced of by Rubenstein) it was for the purpose of transmitting a truth, which remains truth regardless of its historicity.

  250. Ruvie asked:

    “Do you choose your scholarship based on the person’s frum ness and connected to your hashkafa only?”

    One’s person’s question is another’s Ain Haci Nami. Scholarship that rejects the basic premises of the Mesorah and Kedusha of TSBP should be viewed with a great deal of skepticism whenever it opines on either Halacha, Aggadah and/or Hashkafa.

  251. “aiwac — yes, I prefer the nuanced approach myself”

    Glad to see we agree on something :).

  252. …even if one accepts that changes were made…

  253. Steve — please. The R. Akiva issue is about the difference in the Aggadot as presented in the Bavli vs. Yerushalmi. Is the Yerushalmi outside of your mesorah and/or discussing “do[es] not constitute Torah Lishma or a Cheftzah Shel Torah”.

    C’mon let’s not go backwards in this discussion.

  254. BTW, Safrai himself makes clear that even the old “Jerusalem school” scholars were (very) cautious when it came to using the BT for historical knowledge on EY. Alon, who has been besmirched here quite a bit, argued that the existence of four different accounts of RYBZ and Vespasian’s meeting makes it difficult to extract real historical info.

    So there’s some degree of ‘breaking through an open door’ here…

  255. This discussion reminds me of some vivid and contradicdory images.We now have read all too cavalier posts about the background of R Akiva, one of the greatest of the Tanaim, have cited “scholars” similar to the protagonists and antagonists in “Footnotes”, whose works would not exactly be found in any Beis Medrash, without thinking of the fact that R Akiva’s efforts preserved TSBP ( see Yevamos 62b) as well as the fact that this Tuesday commemorates the date when the RCC burned 24 wagonloads of the Talmud in Paris. Somehow, I think that Chazal, Rishonim and Acharonim had a far greater interest in presenting a Toras Emes than secular academicians whose committment to their historical school of reference long superceded any notion that the objects of their study were Torah, as opposed to early, middle and late Palestinian and Babylonian Jewish legal ethics and folklore-the latter of which I would read in the bathroom, as opposed to the classical definition of a Cheftzah Shel Torah.

  256. Steven,

    I think you, too, are breaking through an open door. The academics’ problem isn’t that (some/many of the) stories necessarily AREN’T true, it’s just that we have no way to confirm they necessarily are. You may have masorah, but academicians need hard evidence and ways of sifting the wheat form the chaff.

  257. Aiwac wrote:

    “The academics’ problem isn’t that (some/many of the) stories necessarily AREN’T true, it’s just that we have no way to confirm they necessarily are. You may have masorah, but academicians need hard evidence and ways of sifting the wheat form the chaff.”

    Who says that which has been transmitted via Mesorah requires confirmation ala history-only someone who is per se uncomfortable with or denies Mesorah? Academicians can write for their intended audiences, but IMO it is wrong for any of their arguments to be considered in the evaluation of the lives of the Tanaim. Somehow, I don’t see secular historians of Judaic studies being overly upset over the burning of the Talmud because they don’t have the proper POV towards TSBP and its transmission.

    IH-did the Rishonim discuss the YT sources that you mentioned? if there is no such discussion, then any such discussion by scholars who lack dedication to TSBP and Mesorah really don’t interest me and can even be read in the bathroom.

  258. “Somehow, I don’t see secular historians of Judaic studies being overly upset over the burning of the Talmud because they don’t have the proper POV towards TSBP and its transmission”

    Whoah, there. I’m not an unabashed acolyte of Jewish Studies and disagree with many of their assumptions and statements, but THIS is overdoing it. Hyperbole like this is far too extreme.

    Sit down, have a cup of coffee and calm down. Seriously.

  259. By the way, Steve, others have asked you this before and I don’t remember a response. What is “the classical definition of a Cheftzah Shel Torah” in plain English?

  260. R’ gil – “My starting point is that Chazal are correct so of course a frum historian will be more to my liking. Non-frum hisstorians give Chazal the same or less credibility than Romans, so their opinions don’t interest me much.”

    Most of the people we are talking about are religious. We are talking mostly about the fact rabbinic literature has contradictory statements and changes depending when it was written or redacted. Most historians look at everything with suspect. I am not sure what history is left for you to read.

  261. 3:41 was Ruvie

  262. IH: Note, though, that Prof. Feldman, in the reference you provided, only goes so far as to say they are “deserving of some consideration” in regard to historical matters.

    Agreed, hence my comment of 12:36pm. I only quoted Feldman as a counter-example to Ruvie’s blanket statement.

    Ruvie: I think it’s been well established that a scholar’s personal religious practices often have no correlation to their scholarly views. Sadly.

  263. “Most historians look at everything with suspect”

    As well they should. But the historians you read generally look at everything not with suspicion but with certainty (in the negative direction).

  264. Gil,

    “I think it’s been well established that a scholar’s personal religious practices often have no correlation to their scholarly views. Sadly”

    True, but often secular historians will give traditional sources more credence than skeptical religious ones. Adam Zertal, Eilat Mazar, Yossi Garfinkel – all archaeologists who tend to see a large degree of historicity in the Bible – are secular.

    So it cuts both ways.

  265. Back to Charlie’s question on the nasi/patriach –
    It seems that their authority was taken away in 429 – roman documents. Interestingly enough there lis no mention of any names of the nasi in rabbinic literature for over 100 years prior to this.

    Does anyone know why? And is my statement above accurate?

  266. “whose works would not exactly be found in any Beis Medrash”

    Pretty much all modern Batei Midrash are full of sefarim that owe a whole bunch to academic Talmud scholars. You do know the Vilna Shas was produced by maskilim, right? That the Meiri was brought to light by a JTS professor? I could go on and on.

    “did the Rishonim discuss the YT sources that you mentioned”

    Most don’t discuss the Yerushalmi, period. Many never even *saw* it. (It goes without saying that the products of many modern yeshivot never do. Ditto the vast majority of Talmudic literature, including most of the Bavli.)

  267. Ruvie: The Sanhedrin ceased to function, at the very latest, under Hillel II, c.350. It probably had ceased to function in any meaningful way about a hundred or more years before that, shortly after the Mishna. (Hillel II may have called it back for one “emergency session” to make a calendar.) So for about a hundred years you had a Nasi without a Sanhedrin, which would explain why they aren’t mentioned much.

  268. “Pretty much all modern Batei Midrash are full of sefarim that owe a whole bunch to academic Talmud scholars”

    Of the first and second generations. I’d be curious to know if anyone’s willing to even entertain scholars like Halivni, let alone Rubinstein.

  269. Nachum – why would a functioning Sanhedrin have to do with knowledge about the nasi – or at least their names. We do know that they reach the height of their power I the late 4 th century I believe. But even before the disbanding of the Sanhedrin do we have knowledge of the nasi – who he was and what he accomplished or did – why no anecdotes?

  270. IH-A Cheftzah Shel Torah is a work of Torah which can be classified as Torah Lishmah, as opposed to being dedicated to being written from a POV which views Torah as just another academic or literary discipline of early, middle and late Palestinian and Babylonian Jewish law and folklore, as opposed to being TSBP Divinely Revealed and transmitted by the Tanaim and Amoraim orally and written down out of historical necesssity.The former view IMO, frequently, if not always deserves the critique offered in Nedarim 81a, and the views of RaN, BaCh and Beis HaLevi thereat.

    Nachum-The Vilna Shas was produced by Maskilim but the text was vetter by one of the Gdolei HaAcharonim R Betzalel HaKohen ZL. Please define what you mean by “modern Batei Midrash”.

    Aiwac-I stand by my comments about the difference between Talmidie Chachamim and secular scholars.

  271. Steve — In other words the ideas of anyone who does not believe the maximalist view of TSBP — that “TSBP [is] Divinely Revealed and transmitted by the Tanaim and Amoraim orally and written down out of historical necesssity” — does not qualify as Torah Lishmah and is, therefore, not a Cheftzah Shel Torah.

    If so, this phraseology has no meaning since there is no agreement this maximalist dogma is essential to Orthodoxy. Believe it if you want, but don’t force it down anyone elses throat.

  272. Nachum: Accepting scholars’ manuscript work is a far cry from accepting their historical speculations. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can, like R. Meir and Acher, take the good and reject the bad.

  273. IH wrote:

    “Steve — In other words the ideas of anyone who does not believe the maximalist view of TSBP — that “TSBP [is] Divinely Revealed and transmitted by the Tanaim and Amoraim orally and written down out of historical necesssity” — does not qualify as Torah Lishmah and is, therefore, not a Cheftzah Shel Torah”

    Ain Haci Nami. When you or anyone else writes from a perspective that denies the transmission of TSBP as Divinely Revealed, such works cannot be considered as Torah Lishmah.

  274. “Nachum-The Vilna Shas was produced by Maskilim but the text was vetter by one of the Gdolei HaAcharonim R Betzalel HaKohen ZL.”

    “Vetted” for what? I mean that in all honesty. What could he be “vetting”?

    “Please define what you mean by “modern Batei Midrash”.”

    Any Beit Midrash in the modern era; that is, any Beit Midrash in the year 2012.

    “You can, like R. Meir and Acher, take the good and reject the bad.”

    Or accept them both as good. Why not?

    “When you or anyone else writes from a perspective that denies the transmission of TSBP as Divinely Revealed”

    The last I checked, *no one* claimed that the “transmission” was “Divinely Revealed,” unless you remove those words from any meaning. It’s certainly possible to believe that TSBP is Divine while acknowledging that these were humans transmitting it. The Gemara is *full* of the statement “X said in the name of Y and some say X said in the name of Z.” You can’t go a half a daf without finding one.

    By the way, Steve, since you accused those you disagree with of not mourning the burning of Talmuds, let me point out a bit of irony here: You are perfectly satisfied with “what we have” as being the be-all and end-all of “Mesorah.” Indeed, you even dismiss huge chunks of Tanaaitic and Amoraic literature that no one else ever has. So why would you be upset, kal v’chomer, over the loss of Rishonim that you never heard of? By your definition, their absence removes them from the Mesorah anyway, and, should they be re-discovered, you wouldn’t want to hear from them. True?

  275. “Or accept them both as good. Why not?”

    Depends what they are and how solid the evidence.

  276. Nachum–AFAIK, R Betzalel HaKohen ZL vetted the accuracy of the Vilna Shas. Are you asserting that the Batei Medashim in Lakewood, Mir and Ponevezh use works rooted in academic Talmud, as opposed to works which represent the best extant manuscripts of Rishonim and Acharonim?

    As far as Divine Transmission of TSBP, see Avos 1:1,and the commentaries in the Mossad HaRav Kook edition.

    Like it or not, as the Kinos point out,we lack Mfarshim on Nedarim and Nazir, and have to break our heads over the Lashon Mshuneh and Lashon Mshuneh Meod in both Masectos and make do with what we have. If manuscripts of Rishonim that noone ever heard of somehow surfaced on Nedarim and/or Nazir, I tend to doubt that they would be used by any serious Talmid Chacham or anyone aspiring to be a Ben Torah or Talmid Chacham in learning those Masectos.

    Once again, referring to how the Talmud quotes a statement has little, if any, relevance to the fact that TSBP and especially the Talmud, in its most classical sense, is not a book or text. What you are referring to is that a statement was uttered , which is not denied, and the Talmud is presenting two sources of the same. Again, one should never confuse the view as voiced by Netziv in Kidmas HaEmek and elsewhere that TSBP is a set of Divinely Given rules of interpretation and the debates as to their application, and the Chiddushim,Chumros and Kulos derived from the same, as opposed to a set of volumes dictated word for word.

    As far as R Meir and Acher are concerned, R Meir was a talmid of Acher and tried to influence Acher to do teshuvah, which Acher viewed himself as beyond the pale, while reserving his own prerogative to accept the best of Acher’s Torah. However, one cannot deny that many times Acher’s other talmidim and their views are mentioned as “Acherim.”

  277. Steve — given your beliefs regarding TSBP, isn’t it incumbent upon us to work out why God gave us two seemingly different versions of the story of Rabbi Akiva’s youth: Talmud Yerushalmi vs. Talmud Bavli?

  278. Steve

    > Somehow, I don’t see secular historians of Judaic studies being overly upset over the burning of the Talmud because they don’t have the proper POV towards TSBP and its transmission.

    I wonder if one day it will occur to you that people who spend most of their time studying something are actually generally quite fond of it. There isn’t a lot of money or fame in academic Talmud or other Judaic studies, you know.

  279. “R Betzalel HaKohen ZL vetted the accuracy of the Vilna Shas.”

    Was he a scholar of the text of the Shas, then? What criteria did he use? Did he consult old manuscripts, or just whatever edition he had grown up with? If the latter, that’s not much of a “vetting.” If (as I strongly suspect) the former, well, that’s straying pretty close to academic Talmud, no?

    “Are you asserting that the Batei Medashim in Lakewood, Mir and Ponevezh use works rooted in academic Talmud, as opposed to works which represent the best extant manuscripts of Rishonim and Acharonim?”

    What’s the difference? Did you see Footnote? The whole point of the movie (well, one of several points) is that there’s academic Talmud (the glamorous kind, in the film) that analyzes Amoraic society, and a very different kind that looks for manuscripts. Yes, indeed, Lakewood and Mir and Ponovezh benefit greatly from it, even if they don’t admit it or realize it. (Mossad HaRav Kook has a whole line that doesn’t have their logo on the spine.)

    “As far as Divine Transmission of TSBP, see Avos 1:1,and the commentaries in the Mossad HaRav Kook edition.”

    Avot 1:1 says nothing of “Divine Transmission.” To the contrary, it says *Moshe* transmitted to Yehoshua, etc. Now, that transmission may have been perfect for 1300 years. (We know for a fact it wasn’t after that, by which point you’re well past the first Mishna.) But it wasn’t “Divine,” certainly not after Malachi. Of course, Avot only takes us a generation or so past Rebbi.

    “Like it or not, as the Kinos point out,we lack Mfarshim on Nedarim and Nazir, and have to break our heads over the Lashon Mshuneh and Lashon Mshuneh Meod in both Masectos and make do with what we have.”

    You use that phrase a lot. I don’t like it. What do mean by “lack?” Why those two in particular?

    “If manuscripts of Rishonim that noone ever heard of somehow surfaced on Nedarim and/or Nazir, I tend to doubt that they would be used by any serious Talmid Chacham or anyone aspiring to be a Ben Torah or Talmid Chacham in learning those Masectos.”

    Define “never heard of.” Certainly people had “heard” of the Meiri and Ritva. And you see giveaway terms in Charedi literature all the time- “Midrash plei’a” and things like that, a code for something like “Something Schechter or Lieberman found, but let’s pretend it was always ‘out there.'”

    “However, one cannot deny that many times Acher’s other talmidim and their views are mentioned as “Acherim.””

    This one really takes the cake. *R’ Meir* was “Acherim.” That’s a simple fact of Talmudic history. It’s a story- a very interesting story- in Horiaot.

  280. Moshe Shoshan

    Gil,
    Whom do you define as a “Frum historian” I know of a lot of excellent historians whose are frum, but none of them work according to your methodology.

  281. Moshe Shoshan

    Steve
    In your ignorance, you have succeed in being mevazeh many Talmidei chachamim. I dont understand why this does not bother a person such as yourself.

    You speak in an idiom that was invented by R. Chaim Volohzoner and his descendants, reject all who do not accept this frame work. On what basis do you do this?

    A person with real kavod a torah would not talk as you do.

  282. Does one’s hashkafa minimizes the possibility of good scholarship? Or does the reader of scholarship determines what is good by his hashkafa and not what he reads? Is there a consensus or any strong opinions on this?

  283. Ruvie, I’m pretty sure it’s not normative. Kabel et Ha-emet and all that.

  284. I know of a lot of excellent historians whose are frum, but none of them work according to your methodology

    I agree. That is why I take everyone’s scholarship with caution, regardless of how long his tzitzis may be.

  285. Great, Gil. So long as you do it for fields apart from history. Like halakhah.

  286. R’ gil – does your hashkafa determines or influences what is good scholarship based on its conclusions? I

  287. Ruvie: To me, the term “good scholarship” signifies whether something meets official academic standards. I’m less interested in that than whether it is true. Yes, my hashkafah influences what I consider true. Although that is based more on its starting point — underlying assumptions — than its conclusions.

  288. Nachum: Great, Gil. So long as you do it for fields apart from history. Like halakhah.

    Of course!

  289. R’ gil – I would have thought consistent methodology and thorough research without any obvious biases to dismiss things would be of paramount importance whether you felt something is plausible ( or more likely) or true – whether it met academic standards or not.

  290. Having no bias is also a bias–toward only provable assertions. There is plenty in life, particularly in history, that cannot be proven.

  291. on the other hand, what can be really proven at all in life? sorry, but at least trying not to be biased seems the only at to go for a rationalist – to be intellectually honest – in most circumstances

  292. I agree but only after laying down your starting assumptions, which in my case includes treating Chazal as a reliable source.

  293. Gil — It seems to me you undermine your positoon when you revert to platitudes. You are not a literal fundamentalist and I’m quite sure there are examples of Chazal’s teachings that you do not accept as literal truth despite that others may.

    So, what is the process by which you are moved from your starting position; and, what are the rules of engagement.

    I’m not suggesting you answer it here on the last dregs of last week’s news; but, sometime it would be edifying to get to the next level of the discussion.

  294. IH: You are correct that I am not a literal fundamentalist but there is a huge middle ground between that and Ruvie’s rejection of all Talmudic history.

  295. R’ gil – please do not mistake my opinion as a rejection of all tamudic history. I am suspect only when there are valid reasons: inherent contradictions and inconsistencies through rabbinic literature plus other markers that my show up. As chazal has said, what happened, happened – showing little concern for accuracy that we today take for granted or demand.

    Ftr, I am just your local backbencher in shul.

  296. Nachum Lamm wrote in part in response to my comment:

    ““As far as Divine Transmission of TSBP, see Avos 1:1,and the commentaries in the Mossad HaRav Kook edition.”

    Avot 1:1 says nothing of “Divine Transmission.” To the contrary, it says *Moshe* transmitted to Yehoshua, etc”

    Obviusly, you did not see the Mfarshim that I referred to. Kindly do so if you wish to continue the discussion.

  297. Nachum Lamm wrote in part in response to my comment:

    ““As far as Divine Transmission of TSBP, see Avos 1:1,and the commentaries in the Mossad HaRav Kook edition.”

    Avot 1:1 says nothing of “Divine Transmission.” To the contrary, it says *Moshe* transmitted to Yehoshua, etc”

    Nachum-did you look at the Mfarshim thereat?

    Obviusly, you did not see the Mfarshim that I referred to. Kindly do so if you wish to continue the discussion.

  298. Moshe Shoshan wrote:

    “You speak in an idiom that was invented by R. Chaim Volohzoner and his descendants, reject all who do not accept this frame work. On what basis do you do this?”

    I see no basis to accept “arguments” by anyone whose views re Chazal are rooted in their own sensibilities, sense of morality and POV, as opposed to revering Chazal as great personae whose POVs are as relevant today as they were during their lifetimes. I saw Footnotes and both the father and son struck me as extraordinarily reminescent of RYBS’s description of Maskilim who would study Gemara with a lit cigar on Shabbos. Like it or not Torah Lishmah should never be confused with academic Talmud. May HaShem always enable us to make Havdalah and keep the boundaries as distinct as possible.

    Nachum-prove to me that Midrash Pleiah was an invented term of the last century in response to RSL’s works.

    The Ritva was known as one of the Gdolei Rishonim. MHK’s editions of Ritva ( even Yevamos which has far too many footnotes), Rashba , etc ensured that we learn from the best text possible. I could care less what Lakewood does with the publisher’s information-the bottom line is that these works are used throughout the Torah world.

    I know that the Meiri is accepted in the Torah world, but it was not always so, and RHS stated that RYBS neither was enamored with the Meiri and viewed it as a crutch for anyone who could make a leining on a Rishon.

    The Kinos refer to the loss of commentaries on Nazir and Nedarim ( See Page 427, Kinos Mesoras HaRav and Page 435), and it is well known that these two Masectos have a Lashon Mshuneh Meod and Lashon Mshuneh.If manuscripts on Nazir and Nedarim which never been heard of or had been secreted away in venues such as the Vatican and not viewed as part of the Mesorah, I strongly doubt that they would be accepted as part of the corpus of Torah on those Masectos.

  299. Thought no one would notice, huh? Mossad Harav Kook’s Pirkei Avot is huge. I have it in front of me. What specific perush, pray, in unilaterally defining the terms of the debate, would you like me to check? I would think hamotzi mechavero applies here.

    Your cavalier attitude toward rishonim you don’t “like” is very troubling. The rest of your posts are missing my point completely.

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