Misplaced Loyalties: Part IV

Correction: Previously, I had written that the Ohr HaChaim was a 15th Century commentator. He is a seventeenth century commentator. (I subtracted instead of added to the 1600s.) Let’s examine some of the more salient points of the Ramban we mentioned in the last post here. The Ramban claims that the verse in Deuteronomy 17:11 about not straying from the words of the Sages, implies…

Misplaced Loyalties Part III – The Radical Views of Nachmanides

Let’s just come right out and say it! In addressing this conflict between the Sifrei and the Talmud – which says that one could err in his understanding of the commandment to listen to the Sages – we are focusing on something profound. This commandment, to heed the words of the Sages, is different than most commandments. This is not a question of how to…

Misplaced Loyalties: Part II

Now that we have seen the sources here – we can begin understanding when we say it is a liability to rely on the authority of the Sages and when one is obliged to do so. First, we should quickly note, that the Sages we are referring to here are the Sanhedrin. Let’s start with the apparent contradiction between the Sifrei and the the Talmud Yerushalmi…

Misplaced Loyalties: Part I – Sources

First, Some Sources: Regarding translations: The translations of Biblical verses are usually the King James Version The translations of the Bavli Talmud are usually Sefaria.org. (Note that I did not necessarily review or agree with the translation). Since I have not found an open-sourced quality translation of the Rambams, Midrashim, Yerushalmis etc – all such translations are my own. על פי התורה אשר יורוך ועל…

Misplaced Loyalties: טעה במצווה לשמוע לדברי חכמים

A Preface. I’ve often encountered a challenge when writing about topics that interest me – where I start writing without realizing how involved the topic and how much time it will take to write something accessible to a general audience. As such, recently I’ve tried to write really short self-contained blog posts. So it’s with some misgivings that I start writing about an extremely involved…

If It’s A Dig, It Had Better Be Clever!

Some recent talk about whether certain remarks were “uncalled for” or too aggressive – I am reminded of one of my favorite teshuvos from Rav Yosef Trani (16 Century Greece). The question, as I understand it, is about a certain fellow who is upset at several Sephardic communal leaders who had some of the members of their community counted amongst the Romanian community in the king’s…

Jewish Mourning Customs Between Passover and Shavous

Before dissecting it, let’s first lay out what the accepted modern-day understanding of the origins of Sefira and Lag BaOmer customs are according to the classical Jewish sources. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim siman 493) says: נוהגים שלא לישא אשה בין פסח לעצרת עד ל”ג בעומר מפני שבאותו זמן מתו תלמידי ר’ עקיבא אבל לארס ולקדש שפיר דמי ונשואין נמי מי שקפץ וכנס אין עונשין…

Haircuts, Bonfires and Weddings: Lag BaOmer and the customs of Sefira

It is customary for all Jews to observe some customs of mourning during the days of Sefiras HaOmer – between Pesach and Shavous – and to have a festive day on either the 33rd day of the Omer – or for Sephardim the 34th. These customs are binding for all observant Jews as codified in the Tur and the Shulchan Aruch etc. That said, it…

Killing For The Right Reasons: Meseches Zevachim

We’re starting Seder Kodshim in daf yomi beginning with Zevachim. So before I write anything I should first preface that this is my first time through Kodshim – so it’s entirely possible that I’ll say stuff that will be demonstrably wrong on the next page, but I figure I may as well write down my impressions as I go. The mishna starts off saying that…

Horayos: Even The Sadducees Admit

So I have some opinions about this that I don’t have time to write about / fully flesh out, so I’ll just mention some questions and comments. The Talmud says: אמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל אין ב”ד חייבין עד שיורו בדבר שאין הצדוקין מודין בו אבל בדבר שהצדוקין מודין בו פטורין מאי טעמא זיל קרי בי רב הוא Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said –…