Thursday, December 04, 2014

An exchange between the author and myself on my review of “Mah She’elatekh Esther V’Te’as”

Sheilati u’Bakashati: An Exchange - Torah Musings

Read the original review here: link

Rabbanit Idit Bartov responded to R. Yosef Gavriel Behhofer’s review of the volume of responsa she co-authored. Below is her response and R. Bechhofer’s last word -Gil
I’d like to respond to several issues put forth by Rabbi Bechhofer in his review of my Halakhic responsa in “Mah She’elatekh Esther V’Te’as” published this past Spring by Ohr Torah Stone.
1) As I read the critique, I was struck by R. Bechhofer’s observation that on the one hand there was not much new in the responsa that justified their being published as we already have the collection of source material available in the Bar Ilan software. On the other hand, the reviewer claimed that there was too much innovation and not enough deference paid to prior piskei halakha of gedolei Yisrael. Perhaps the reviewer should let us know just what exact formula must be adhered to by all who dare to “pasken” – in the balance between deference and innovation?
2) I was particularly puzzled by the critique of the reviewer concerning my supposed lack of deference for gedolei Yisrael – this false accusation in the same review in which the reviewer levels a sweeping ad hominem attack on the gadol Rav Chaim Hirschenson z’l based mainly, it would seem, on the identity of the publishing house that most recently republished his works! Rav Hirschenson enjoyed a mutual relationship of respect with Rav Kook z’l and is quoted not only in my teshuvot but also in those of Rav Ovadia Yosef z’l and the late chief Rabbi Uziel z’l. Would the reviewer also criticize them for quoting someone who was republished by Machon Schechter? Perhaps we should all stop reading or quoting the Tosefta? While the reviewer may be forgiven for any disrespect for the teshuva he criticizes, it may be more complicated for him to seek mechila from the late Rav Hirschenson.
3) The reviewer criticizes my candid admission that I find puzzling and sometimes hurtful the lengths that are gone to in rereading the plain meaning of scripture thus explaining away the contradiction between what was clearly not their historical reality (i.e. women serving asdayanot) and the verse in Shoftim regarding Devora. He believes that I have shown ignorance of the acceptable style for halakhic writing and worse, have committed the cardinal sin of having an “agenda” in writing a responsum. Let me refer the reviewer to Rav Lichtenstein’s article in Tradition, “The Human and Social Factors in Halakha,” and particularly his quotation there from Teshuvot Mas’et Binyamin – which is only one of many examples of poskim sharing their emotions and dare I say, their agenda. Can any posek or for that matter, anypsak, emerge from an emotional or situational vacuum?
4) As for the teshuva on women’s achieving tahara in advance of ascending to the Temple Mount, it seems to me that the reviewer’s research and knowledge of this area of halakha suffers from a serious time lag. Yes, Rav Kook forbade this. But in the past 75 years many, many poskim have ruled otherwise – mostly based on the changing realities that have ensued – including Rav Goren z’l’s measurements and the ability to know with certainty which precise areas of Har HaBayit need not be restricted by halakha. Many halakhists are also influenced by the fact that since Rav Kook’s time there is a different issue that comes into halakhic play – that of the impact of sovereignty on the application of “Lo Techanem.” The reviewer seems also to be unaware that among the hundreds of rabbanim who allow ascent to Har Habayit are the following gedolei yisrael: Rav Chaim Druckman, Rav David Chai Cohen, Rav Yisrael Ariel, Rav Eliezer Melamed, Rav Dov Lior, Rav Nachum Rabinovitch, Rav Zefania Drori and the aforementioned Rav Goren. Note that many of these are talmidim muvhakim of Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook – who understand that there is no guarantee that Rav A. Y. Kook would have maintained his issur if he lived today. The reviewer should note that the list includes Ashkenaziposkim as well as Sephardi ones. I’d be happy to send him the full list upon request; all this without mentioning the fact that the Rambam went up to the Mount and subsequently celebrated the date of his ascent each year on the 6th of Cheshvan.
5) As for the issue of how much time must pass before achieving “tahara” after intercourse in order to ascend the mount: The Mishna in Masechet Mikvaot Chapter 8 Mishna 4 states that “A woman who had intercourse and did not conduct a cleansing swipe – it is as if she had not immersed…” As understood by the Beit Yosef (YD 196, se’if 13) – “That is to say: It is sufficient to swipe or douche before immersion (instead of waiting 3 days)”. As for the pesak of the Rambam (Terumot 7:7), the reviewer has quoted his words partially and thus incorrectly. The case where the Rambam requires 3 days wait after intercourse and not just cleansing and tevila is a very specific case of התהפכה . All of the mefarshei HaRambam understand, unlike the reviewer, that this halakha in the Rambam begins with the usual situation in which 3 days wait is neither required nor mentioned. Only then does the Rambam move on to the unusual case of התהפכה. This is perhaps why the Shulchan Arukh does not quote this Rambam. It is also clear that the Rema does not base his chumra on this Rambam, but rather upon a presumption that the women of his time may not be effective at cleansing themselves. I believe that, upon understanding these basic sources, the reviewer will realize his own mistake and will understand more clearly why I maintain my position.
6) As for the reviewer’s declaration that it is clear that halakha is more stringent with regard to matters of purity and impurity than with matters of heter l’baal: he would be correct if it were a case of din torah and not a chumra that was first introduced by the S’mak and the Rema at a later time. Chumrot like that of the Rema (who is concerned that the women of his time were not adept at cleaning themselves), were never said with regard to matters of tevila l’shem kedusha. To suggest otherwise is a great chidush on the part of the reviewer and certainly not grounds for his uncharitable attack on my analysis. The idea that one could extend the chumra of the Rema to tahara l’shem kedushawould be tantamount to creating a new gezera which runs counter to the well-known principle that we are not authorized to create newgezerot. See Rosh Shabbat perek 2, siman 15, Beit Yosef OH, siman 13, Har Tzvi OH 2, siman 24 (and in many other teshuvot of Rav Frank z’l), Tzitz Eliezer 8, siman 14, and in many other sources. While I understand that the reviewer might maintain that this would be no new gezera but rather a logical extension of the original one – myshimush with Rav Yehoshua Reich shlit’a who had conducted ongoingshimush with several gedolei hador including Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, leads to the understanding that the extension would be similar to including potato flour in a gezera of kitniyot for use on Pesach. It would be logical but nonetheless inappropriate to extend thechumra.
7) (Yes, we women in the Bradfield program have traditional shimushwith a well-regarded posek. We are in daily attendance as he receivesshe’elot from rabbanim around the world; He then shares his shikulei pesika with us.) With regard to complicated questions that I receive, I invariably seek his counsel.
8) It may interest the reviewer that Rav Shmuel Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of Tzefat (who is known to be very stringent in matters of heter l’baal), heard an oral version of my teshuva with interest and told me personally that I am correct in my analysis and that Ashkenazi as well as Sephardi women may rely on my pesak. I am quite aware of what is happening in this sphere as I receive many she’elot from women who wish to ascend. I know of no Ashkenazi women who purposely wait for three days after “tashmish” before ascending.
9) The reviewer generously offers advice to my teachers at Midreshet Lindenbaum’s Susi Bradfield Institute for Halakhic Leadership that they educate their students toward greater respect for the traditional methods of pesak and for deference to gedolim. I can only comfort my revered teachers that there is a long history of false accusations in the heat of milchamta shel Torah and that they are in good company with the other objects of the reviewer’s scorn – the likes of Rav Hirschenson, Rav Goren and others.
May we be zocheh to argue Torah with mutual respect l’shem shamayim,
R. Idit Bartov
To respond to Rabbanit Bartov, point by point:
1) I certainly did not question the justification for publishing Mah She’elatekh Esther V’Te’as (MSEV). One need have no justification to publish any Torah work other than that it is Torah! I noted that one could not judge the erudition of its authors based on the number of sources mustered and presented. (A side note: The term “innovation” does not appear in my review. I do not regard MSEV as innovative.)
2) To be lomdish, the reference to the current publisher of Rabbi Hirschensohn’s works was as a siman, not as a sibbah. The reference to his heter to use safety razors was more of a sibbah. As to his being quoted by other poskim – many poskim quote works that would not serve them as authorities upon which to base their rulings. As to Rabbi Hirschensohn’s personal honor, I noted the heroic role he played in fighting the good fight for Yahadut in the United States.
3) I thank Rabbanit Bartov for directing me to Rabbi Lichtenstein’s essay – which may be found at Nevertheless, its point is not relevant to this discussion. The Mas’et Binyamin notes how he felt emotionally impelled to research to the utmost of his capacity a matter of allowing an agunah to remarry. As a great posek, once he embarked on that research he restricted himself to intellectual analysis. Rabbi Lichtenstein gives no license for the introduction of emotion into the assessment of the positions taken by great authorities.
4) I am well aware of the differing positions on the ascent to Har HaBayit. My point was not that Rabbanit Bartov was taking a position, but that she did so without reference to the opposing positions. It is not appropriate – and borders on intellectual dishonesty – to write ateshuvah on a controversial issue and not acknowledge the controversy.
5) The Ra’avad (ad loc.) rules that if a woman walks at all between the time of relations and the end of the three day period, then her status is the same as hithapchah. The Mahari Kurkus (ibid.) notes that this is also the opinion of Rashi and the Ritva. The Aruch HaShulchan (Yoreh Deah 196:42) is machmir in accordance with the Ra’avad et al. TheRema is basing his ruling on the Hagahot Maimoniot (Hil. Issurei Bi’ah6:2) and Semak (cited by the Hagahot Maimoniot) which are, in turn, based on the Ra’avad. Be all that as it may, Rabbanit Bartov does not respond to my dismay at the way she describes the Rema’s ruling as “for the Jews of the European diaspora.

6) I cannot follow Rabbanit Bartov’s reasoning here. I do not understand why tevilah l’shem terumah should be more stringent thantevilah l’shem kedushah. Moreover, this is not a gezeirah. It is true that gezeirot are not extended – even logically. We treat the chumrahof kitniot (for reasons beyond the scope of this discussion) as agezeirah, and therefore do not extend its parameters to potato flour. But here we are considering a chumrah based on pre-exisiting d’oraitaand d’rabbanan parameters that, in turn, are based on chashah tumah d’oraita – and, at the same time, contingent on specific behaviors that in themselves are in questions (e.g., hithapchah and halchah) and the relative expertise of individuals involved (e.g. beki’in). Gezeirot are treated as “arbitrary” decrees, chumrot on account of chashashot are not. Again, be all that as it may, both the discussion in point #5 above and this discussion, should have been carried on in the teshuvah, not in a dialogue between the reviewer and the author.
7) I did not use the word shimush in my review. It appeared in comments on the review. I do not question that Rabbanit Bartov didshimush under the auspices of her mentors. Which is precisely why I wrote: “Therefore, this brief critique of the work is, in essence, a critique of the derech that Midreshet Lindenbaum has inculcated in its students. Such critique is gender-blind, and applies to any and all of the instructors who have trained their students to approach issues in the questionable ways that we have touched upon.”
8) I refer Rabbanit Bartov to, in which MK Orit Sitruk notes that she does not ascend Har HaBayit in deference to Rabbi Dov Lior’s opposition to the ascent of women.
9) I wholeheartedly agree that false accusations and scorn have no place in Milchamta Shel Torah. Which is one of the reasons (it is also bad middot!) that one will find no false accusations nor scorn in my review.
B’birchat haTorah,
Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Read the original review here: link

Monday, December 01, 2014

Dvar Hashem Me'Yerushalmi, Lechatchila and B'di'eved in D'oraysa

The Mishnah in Terumos (2:1, Yerushalmi Vilna ed. 8b) states:

 אין תורמין מן הטהור על הטמא ואם תרמו תרומתן תרומה

A classic lechatchila and b'di'eved. One would expect the lechatchila of no separating terumah from tahor on tamei to be d'rabbanan and the b'di'eved that it is effective to be d'oraysa. But that's not what the Gemara (ibid.) says!

אין תורמין מן הטהור כו'.  רבי יוחנן בשם רבי ינאי ונחשב לכם תרומתכם כדגן מן הגורן וכמלאה מן היקב מה גורן ויקב אפשר שיהא מקצתו טמא ומקצתו טהור וזה אע"פ שאפשר למידין אפשר משאי אפשר מעתה לא יהא תרומתו תרומה ממנו כתיב

Both the lechatchila and b'di'eved are derived from pesukim!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Yerushalmi Megillah 12


Dvar Hashem Me'Yerushalmi: Limited Mabul?

Shekalim 6:2 (26a in the Vilna):

המוצאים זה הים הגדול ולמה נקרא שמו מוצאים כנגד שני פעמים שיצא אחד בדור אנוש וא' בדור הפלגה רבי לעזר בשם רבי חנינה בראשונה יצא עד קלבריאה ובשנייה יצא עד כיפי ברבריאה רבי אחא בשם ר' חנינה בראשונה יצא עד כיפי ברבריאה ובשנייה יצא עד עכו ועד יפו (איוב לח) עד פה תבא ולא תוסיף עד עכו תבא ולא תוסיף ופה ישית בגאון גליך עד יפו אשית גאון גליך

The parallel Midrash Rabba, end of Parasha 23:

דרש ר' אבהו אוקינוס גבוה מכל העולם אר"א בן מנחם והלא מקרא מלא הוא (עמוס ה) הקורא למי הים וישפכם על פני הארץ ה' שמו אתמהא כזה שהוא שופך מלמעלן למטן ב' פעמים כתיב הקורא למי הים כנגד ב' פעמים שעלה הים והציף את העולם ועד היכן עלה בראשונה ועד היכן עלה בשנייה רבי יודן ורבי אבהו ור"א בשם רבי חנינא בראשונה עלה עד עכו ועד יפו ובשנייה עלה עד כפי ברבריאה רבי חנניא ורבי אחא בשם רבי חנינא בראשונה עד כפי ברבריאה ובשנייה עד עכו ועד יפו הה"ד (איוב לח) ואומר עד פה תבוא ולא תוסיף ופה ישית בגאון גליך עד פה תבא ולא תוסיף עד עכו תבא ולא תוסיף ופה ישית בגאון גליך ביפו ישית בגאון גליך רבי אליעזר בשם רבי חנינא אמר בראשונה עלה עד קלבריאה ובשנייה עד כפי ברבריאה

'He calleth for the waters of the sea is written twice,
corresponding to the two times that the sea came up and
inundated the world. How far did it come up on the first
occasion and how far on the second? R. Judan, R. Abbahu,
and R. Eleazar in R. Chanina's name said : On the first it
came up as far as Acco and Jaffa, while on the second it
came up as far as the coasts of Barbary. R. Huna and
R. Aha in R. Chanina's name said : On the first, as far as the
coasts of Barbary ; on the second, as far as Acco and Jaffa,
as it is written, And said: Thus far ('ad poh) shalt thou come,
but no further, etc. (Job xxxviii, n): ' Thus far ('ad poh)
shalt thou come ' means as far as Acco : And here shall thy
proud waves be stayed (u-foh yashith) intimates as far as
Jaffa (Yaffa). R. Eleazar said: At the first, as far as
Calabria; at the second, as far as the coasts of Barbary.

The commentary on the Midrash ascribed to Rashi states that these parallel passages have nothing to do with the Mabul. But the Rashash in his commentary to the Midrash asserts that the reference to the second flood in Dor Haflagah is to the Mabul. In evidence, he cites a prior Midrash Rabba, in Parasha 5:

אר"א מתחלת ברייתו של עולם גזר הקדוש ברוך הוא ואמר יקוו המים למה הקורא למי הים הקורא למי הים ב' פעמים אחת בדור המבול ואחת בדור אנוש בשביל (קהלת ג) והאלהים עשה שייראו מלפניו

R. Eleazar said: From the very beginning of the
world's creation the Holy One, blessed be He, issued a
decree, saying, ' Let the waters under the heaven be gathered
together unto one place J Wherefore then [is it written],
That calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out
upon the face of the earthy twice? Once was in the generation
of Enosh, and a second time in the generation of the
Separation [of races]. And God hath so made it (Eccl. in,
14): all that He has done is in order That men should fear
before Him (ib.).


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Har HaBayis Redux

On the other hand...

אם מעיני העדה נעשתה בשגגה

I hope it is b'shegagah. I am afraid not. Several rabbis I respected signed this call. My respect for them is now diminished.

1. Am Yisroel has more pressing issues. Most Chilonim don't understand this (I don't either! - I don't see how this adds to Ahavas or Yiras Hashem). Go expend your efforts and resources on kiruv levavos l'avihem she'ba'shomayim in Tel Aviv, Haifa and secular communities. Certainly do not hazard turning them off by activities that they cannot understand!

2. For every oleh b'taharah there are numerous Israeli security personnel who have no such awareness who are compelled to go up to protect them - not to mention extreme nationalists who put nationalism before taharah. How many chiyuvei kareis are you willing to generate for your agenda?

3. Rav Kook zt"l down to Rav Shapira zt"l - and many along the way - Gedolei Yisroel well above the "pay grade" of any of the signators - have reaffirmed the ban enacted by Rabbonei Yerushalayim on the ascent to HhB. This entire effort is a diminishes the authority of Gedolei Torah and the Rabbinate.

4. Who in their right mind would take the most minute chance of being the proximate cause of the death of a three-month old girl born to childless parents after 13 years of marriage? Of the death of four righteous souls, one of them a Gadol b'Torah v'Avodah in his own right? Who themselves would never have a hava amina to ascend to HhB? You are not putting your own lives (only, if at all) on the line. How can you sleep at night?

Woe to us that THIS is the issue on which so many rabbis find it appropriate and imperative to sign at this point in our history. (And we wonder why we have so many noshrim?)  

ה' בכסלו תשע"ה, 27/11/14 08:16
קריאת רבנים בעד עלייה בטהרה להר הבית
על רקע ההתקפות נגד העולים להר הבית, למעלה מ-50 רבני הציונות הדתית פרסמו מכתב חיזוק לעולים להר.
רעות הדר
על רקע אירועי הטרור בירושלים והאצבעות שהונפו כנגד העולים להר הבית, תופץ השבת בבתי הכנסת קריאת חמישים רבנים מהציונות הדתית לחיזוק העולים להר.
"אחת הדרכים החשובות לדרישת המקדש בימינו היא העלייה להר בית ה'", כתבו הרבנים, ''ברוך ה', רבים העולים כיום להר בהקפדה על ההלכה, גם אנו, החתומים מטה, זכינו להימנות עם התומכים והעולים להר בטהרה", נכתב בכרוז, עליו חתומים בין השאר הרב דוב ליאור, הרב נחום רבינוביץ', הרב צפניה דרורי, הרב יעקב מדן והרב רא"ם הכהן.
בין הרבנים שחתמו על המכתב נמנים גם כאלו שלא הביעו בעבר תמיכה פומבית בעלייה להר הבית, כמו רב השומרון - הרב אליקים לבנון, הרב חיים רטיג מרעננה והרב אליהו בלום מנהריה.

דברי הרבנים מגיעים כאמור על רקע ההתקפות כנגד העולים להר, והאשמתם בהידרדרות הביטחונית. הרבנים קובעים כי עלייה להר הבית לפי ההלכה היא חלק מקיום מצוות "דרישת ציון".
"ניסיון הרצח של ר' יהודה גליק נ"י – ה' ישלח לו רפואה שלמה מהרה – מעורר להמשיך בפעילות לחיזוק העלייה להר הקודש, ולעומת קולות שנשמעו, נאמר: קומו ונעלה ציון אל הר בית ה'", נכתב.
הרבנים מסייגים את דבריהם ומדגישים כי העלייה להר חייבת להיעשות בטהרה ולמקומות המותרים בלבד. "דווקא משום שאנו תומכים ועולים להר בטהרה, מוטלת עלינו החובה להדגיש את הזהירות הנדרשת מכל העוסקים בדבר שלא להיכשל ולהכשיל מרוב חיבת הקודש", נכתב בכרוז. "העלייה להר הבית חייבת להיעשות רק לאחר טהרה כדין, ובשמירה על הלכות מורא מקדש".

לצד קריאת הרבנים שתתפרסם בעלון השבת ''הלבנון'' יהיה צילום אווירי של הר הבית ובו מצוינים הרמות השונות של הקדושה בהר, תוך ציון המסלול המותר על פי ההלכה לעולים בטהרה. "חשוב לדעת שיש מקומות בהר שלפי ההלכה אסור לטמא מת להיכנס אליהם אף בטהרה לאחר טבילה, ולחלקם אף באיסור כרת", הוסיפו הרבנים.
"לכן, חובה על העולה להר לדעת להיכן מותר ולהיכן אסור להיכנס. מובן, שבכל זה אין להסתמך כלל על שמועות והשערות אפילו אם הן נאמרות מפי אנשים דתיים בהר, אלא רק על תלמידי חכמים מובהקים הבקיאים בנושא, או על פרסומים הלכתיים מוסכמים".

רבנים נוספים, אשר אינם עולים בעצמם להר הבית, ובראשם ראש ישיבות בני עקיבא הרב חיים דרוקמן, הביעו תמיכה בעולים בקריאה נפרדת. "אנו מחזקים את ידי רבנן ותלמידיהון העולים להר הקודש בטהרה ובמורא מקדש", כתב הרב דרוקמן. לקריאתו הצטרפו בין השאר הרב יהודה עמיחי ממכון התורה והארץ, הרב אליעזר מלמד רב הישוב הר ברכה, והרב גדעון בנימין מנוף איילון.
דברים אלו מהווים תגובה לדברי רבנים שונים שיצאו כנגד הרבנים העולים להר, וטענו כי הם פועלים בניגוד להלכה. לקריאת הרבנים הצטרף גם שר הבינוי אורי אריאל שבירך שאמר "כ'כהן הדיוט' מצטרף גם אני לקריאתם של מורינו ורבותינו שליט"א לכל מי שרבותיו מתירים לעלות בטהרה למקומות מותרים בהר הקודש - קום ועלה! חובה עלינו דווקא בשעה זו לקום ולפעול,  ו"בלב אמיץ בעזרת ה' – עלה נעלה!".
ערוץ 7
אתר החדשות שלך