Monday, April 20, 2009

Scrooge and the Ghost of Lag B'Omer Past

Well, at least my previous post drew one solitary comment. But I must admit that much of it is over my head and I am having a bit of a time understanding this fellow. Perhaps it's tit-for-tat because I surmise from the comment that he had a bit of a time understanding me.

Perhaps my post was too long (no smirking out there). But, in a nutshell, these are the points I was trying to make:

  1. Any Halachos or hanhagos that are clearly expressed in Tanach, Shas, and Shulchan Aruch (literal text) represent the normative execution of Jewish living and cannot be deemed chumros.
  2. It is inherently dishonest to represent kulos - paricularly those that deviate from literal text - as normative execution to the point of characterizing literal text as chumros and intimating that upholding these "chumros" (i.e., precepts of literal text) are "beyond the norm".

If we are clear on this, let's have a look at part of this anonymous comment and try to figure it out:

Bah humbug! Any serious analysis has to look at halacha psuka in rishonim and achronim. For example, let's look at the conditions under which it's mutar to walk by a river where women are bathing. Or the discussions in rishonim of jousting (yes, on horses) as wedding entertainment. Or the discussion by even the aruch hashulchan about saying kriyas shma in front of women with uncovered hair.
Thanks, Ebenezer. To be honest, I am not up to date on these particular t'shuvos but I gather that what he is trying to point out is that some very prominent poskim have lenient rulings on these things. Regardless, it goes without saying that every authority holds that if any of these things can be readily avoided - they should be. And one who makes more efforts to do so is praised as tavo alav bracha. There is no posek that says that one can l'chatchila walk by a river that is populated by women in compromised positions, hire jousters for weddings, or say kriyas shma in front of women with uncovered hair. Thus, my post was merely saying that it is hard to consider somebody who goes out of his way to avoid these things, even in cases where they are difficult to avoid and there are valid lenient rulings, as being a machmir.

Further, I really don't know where any of these issues are different than Chalav Akum/Yisrael that was duly discussed (except that some of these are d'oraisa).

The following paragraph was even harder to understand:

But you don't want to go there anyway, or else you'd have to address the fact that it's blatantly against gemorah and shulchan aruch for a father not to teach his son a trade, and against the kesuba that we all sign for a husband not to support his wife. You come up with all the terutzim that the shulchan aruch would never consider, and then try to claim that the shulchan aruch is the yardstick!
Did you get that? Neither did I.

For one thing, I am at a loss to understand how a discussion about "chumros" and "kulos" turned into an issue of "for" and "against". I don't see how he addresses either of my points 1 or 2 above.

Let's go over this again:
If it is in Rambam and Shulchan Aruch, it is to be upheld. If not, it can be called a chumra.

Now Ebenezer brings up the subject about a father not teaching his son a trade. I know this will probably catch him by surprise (it actually even puzzles me) but there is no Halacha in Rambam and Shulchan Aruch whatsoever that obligates a father to teach his son a trade. At least, I have yet to find it. It is a clear braitha in Kiddushin 29a and, for the life of me, I cannot figure out why the Rambam and mechaber omitted it, but it is not there. Despite this, it is indeed in the gemara so I wholeheartedly maintain that one who teaches his son a trade is not being machmir.

Next he mentions something about a kesuba.

The terminology of the kesuba is designed to reflect obligations of she'er, k'sus, and onah that are mandated in the Torah and are discussed in the gemara (Kesubos 47b-48a) and are codified in Rambam (Hilchos Ishus 12) and Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 69). Yet, the kesuba is a contract and, like any contract, it's function is not to overrule the wishes of both parties that they agree on, it's function is to set the standards that are mandated in case both parties do not mutually agree. In other words, the contract states that the husband is obligated to provide his wife with she'er (ana eflach v'ozin v'echalkel), k'sus (v'okir yasech), and onah (u'lme'al l'vasaichi). The gemara and Shulchan Aruch determine the extent of the obligations. Yet, the husband and wife are free to work out their own formulas as long as there is mutual consent.

Thus, Ramabam clearly writes in Hilchos Ishus 12:6:

התנה הבעל שלא יתחייב באחד מן הדברים שהוא חייב בהן או שהתנת האשה שלא יזכה הבעל באחד מן הדברים שהוא זוכה בהם התנאי קיים חוץ משלשה דברים שאין התנאי מועיל בהן וכל המתנה עליהן תנאו בטל ואלו הן עונתה ועיקר כתובתה וירושתה:

And again in 12:9:

ובשאר הדברים תנאו קיים כגון שהתנה עמה שאין לה שאר וכסות על מנת שלא יאכל פירות נכסיה וכל כיוצא בזה תנאו קיים:

This is also in Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer 69:6.

What Mr. Scrooge has taught me in his comment is that he has a hard time with the idea of men committing themselves to long term Torah study while married to wives who voluntarily agree to rough it to maintain this goal. And he supports his position from the "text" of the Kesuba. He calls these things "against the kesuba" and, earlier, "against the gemara", such as the gemara in Kesubos.

Kesubos? Did he ever study masechet Kesubos? Daf Yomi, perhaps?

He must have had the flu at daf 62[b].

Do you know what period this is? This is what we call "Sefiras HaOmer". We do not make weddings or take haircuts during Sefiras HaOmer. Do you know why?

The gemara in Yevamos (62b) explains to us that it all has to do with one man: Rabbi Akiva. The gemara tells us that Rabbi Akiva had 12,000 pairs of students and they all died in one period. And the world was devastated! It was without Torah! The Torah would have been lost from us forever but he managed to rear 5 outstanding disciples: Rabbi Meir, Rabbi Yehuda, Rabbi Yosi, Rabbi, Shimon (ben Yochai), and Rabbi Elazar and they restored the Torah.

Did you hear that? The Romans had effectively destroyed all centers and avenues of learning. Nobody except Rabbi Akiva knew the Torah inside and out. Initially we had 24,000 scholars still available to maintain the flame of Torah, but, suddenly, they all died. And the Torah would have been lost from us forever (and us with it) if not for the erudition, scholarship, perseverence, and mesiras nefesh of this one man. He started over again and brought it all back.

How did he get to be such a scholar, leader, and moser nefesh?

Let's look at the gemara in Kesubos 62b-63a:
Rabbi Akiva was the shepherd of Ben Kalba Savua. He noticed that his daughter was chaste and worthy and said to her, "If you will be betrothed to me, I will study Torah." ...He went to yeshiva for 12 years. He returned with 12,000 students and heard an old man tell his wife, "How long will you accept being a living widow?"...She said, "If he would listen to me, he will stay another 12 years."... He went back for another 12 years and returned with 24,000 students...he sais to his students, "What is mine and yours, is actually hers."
24 years of no she'er, k'sus, and onah to sit and study! 24 uninterrupted years! This was not the YU semicha program. It was the equivalent, if not the superior, of Moshe Rabbenu learning Torah for 40 days and 40 nights. Every minute was needed for him to become Rabbi Akiva. And if he wasn't Rabbi Akiva, we would all be lost!

But wait! Didn't Rabbi Akiva have a wife? Didn't he write a kesuba? Doesn't it say that he must provide for her? Isn't this against the kesuba that we all sign? And he had a well paying job, to boot!

How can he do such a thing? What a skunk! So what if the Jews just underwent a Holocaust and a churban and Torah is being forgotten from Klal Yisroel?! It says in the kesuba you gotta work, remember?? Okay, so all of klal Yisroel will be swallowed up, but at least we won't go with an empty stomach.

This is what my commenter, Ebenezer, seems to think.

Now, of course, no woman is required to forfeit her marital rights and marry somebody who will study and not provide for her. If you don't want to marry somebody who is busy maintaining the Torah and keeping the Jewish people open for business, then don't.

But, then again, nobody will say about you, "What's mine and yours is hers!"

1 comment:

Zadok said...

but there is no Halacha in Rambam and Shulchan Aruch whatsoever that obligates a father to teach his son a trade. At least, I have yet to find it. It is a clear braitha in Kiddushin 29a and, for the life of me, I cannot figure out why the Rambam and mechaber omitted it, but it is not there.Both Rav Moshe Feinstein and the Chazon Yechezkel discuss this question.(Rav Moshe points out the Rambam and SA do say that one may discuss teaching a trade for his son on Shabbos as it is a Mitzvah to do so.)They answer that that is only a Mitzvah Kiyumis and not a Mitzvah Chyivus due to Shitos Rav Neheroi of 'Maniech ani kol umnas s'bolom v'ainey melamed es b'nee elleh Torah'.(IIRC)