Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Phenomenal Disclaimer

Free translation of Haqdamah:

And if in some lands they have a minhag to prohibit some things,
even though that we decide the opposite,
they should remain steadfast in their Minhag
because it has already accepted the Hacham who prohibited,
and it is prohibited for them to have a minhag permitting
as is found in the Fourth Chapter of Talmud Pesachim.

Question: Whose Haqdamah contains this disclaimer?
Surprise answer: The Beth Yosef!

Kol Tuv

Monday, March 28, 2011

Minhag Yisroel vs. Gra : 2 Matzot vs. 3 Matzot

Rav Herschel Schachter states:

. A matter of halacha which has been accepted for centuries can not be overturned, unless one can demonstrate that there simply was an error involved from the very outset.


  1. Rif Rambam paskened 2 matzos at the Seder as per simple read of the Talmud.
  2. Gaonim have a tradition for Lechem Mishnah on Yom tov
  3. Rosh/Tosafos say 3 - that sugya is superseded by the requirement of Lechem Mishneh
  4. Rema says 3 ratifying Minhag Ashkenaz
  5. Bet Yosef says that minhag is like Tosafot and Rosh and paskens 3 despite his stated rule re: Rif/Rambam - Minhag Yisrael prevails nevertheless
  6. Shleah - as cited by kaf Hachayyim says the only way to be yotzei lechal hadei'os is to use 3.
Question: how did the GRA revert it back to 2?
  1. Were Rosh, Rema, Shulchan Aruch, Shelah all beta'us?
  2. If so does this impact their reliability on other matters of Halachah?
  3. Did the Gra feel bound by the norms Minhag Yisrael - or by his read of the Talmud?
  4. For those who have already switched to 2, should they switch back to 3 - since the shita of 2 goes against the norms of Halachic canons as posited by RHS? ""one can demonstrate that there simply was an error" . i.e the error here is going against Minhag Yisroel.
  5. Is there ever a time limit on overturning Minhag based upon error? IOW how many centuries of practice makes perfect or is it ALWAYS subject to revision based upon a better read of Talmud.
  6. How do recently discovered girsaot of old manuscripts play into this? Are they demonstrative of earlier errors and therefore dispositive of minhaggim?

Note: This was posted on NishmaBlog onThursday, April 15, 2010

Apparently some readers previously took my questions as requests for information or opinions. They were primarily rhetorical in nature and I was not expecting any specific answers, just a contemplation of the parameters

In other words, Its' great when A Gadol [EG RHS] pontificates a principle, but what are the realistic parameters of this principle? Do we think this is really a consistent Meta-Principle that applies globally? The rhetorical questions poitn out that such pronouncments may be a nice rhetorical fourish, but what valence do they have in p'saq? It's like Kol Yisra'el Yesih lo Heleq l'olam Habba. A great platitude, but it's meaning is not quite what it says, because along comes several mishnayot qualifying the generlization.


Kol Tuv / Best Regards,

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Qadesh uRechatz - why the Vav? [WOW]

Q:  Why does uRechatz  have the only vav in the 15 steps to the seder?
Given that old Minhag Ashkenaz had washing BEFORE Qiddush
A: Therefore this serves to accentuate this distinction on the Seder night when the order is reversed

Furthermore, it further arouses the curiosity of the children as a result of this out-of-sequence procedure in the Seder

Zissen Pesach

Prev Pub. Wed Apr 8, 2009 12:12 pm

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Zli at the Seder 1

Given in the days of our Holy Temple, we were commanded to Roast a Lamb with some very strict restrictions as to HOW.  E.G. there could be no liquid, a special skewer or spit was required etc.  Roasted had to be 100% roasted without any liquid whatsoever and the meat could not touch anything except its embedded pomegranate skewer.

Since the destruction of the Temple two divergent Minhaggim evolved
  1. To EAT roasted meat in commemoration of the Paschal Offering
  2. To AVOID EATING roasted meat in commemoration of the LOSS of the Temple and the Paschal Offering
This is not such an unusual phenomenon, i.e. that the same event or cause triggered diverse reactions all with the same underlying intent.

These diverse Minhaggim have legal weight wherever there is a bona fide "Minhag Hamaqom"  For someone to eat Roasted Meat where the local Minhag prohibits that can incur Rabbinical lashes - Makkat Mardut!  So this is no trivial matter at all. The Minhag haMaqom is tantamount to local LAW more than it is to be considered a mere custom.

In a future post, we will examine some of the parameters of the this Minhag.

Kol tuv

Previously Published on Yahoo on  Tue Apr 7, 2009 12:02 am

Friday, March 25, 2011

Salting Matazah

Agur 762: many are accustomed not to put salt on the matzah on Passover (while baking) and so we are accustomed in ashkenaz...

And there is no reason in the matter to prohibit it (nevertheless) due to "Al titosh torat imecha" [do not abandon Your Mother's Torah] the  one should not deviate.
Or iow:
Customs can take on a life of their own regardless of the strict letter of the Halachah.

Kol Tuv

Previously Published on Yahoo Tue Apr 7, 2009 12:00 am