[Avodah] Kitniyot

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Thu Mar 28 11:03:41 PDT 2013

On Sun, Mar 24, 2013 at 01:07:28PM -0500, Lisa Liel wrote:
> On 3/22/2013 2:57 PM, Micha Berger wrote:
>> On Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 02:33:38PM -0500, Lisa Liel wrote:
>>> Certainly.  But if he brings sources and they don't, it doesn't matter.
>>> A daat yachid with sources backing him is preferable to a rov that
>>> simply dismisses the issue.

>> I disagree. See my most recent blog post
>> <http://www.aishdas.org/asp/2013/03/tzav.shtml>.
>> The topic is the implications of the difference between a legislative
>> process and a fact-finding one, including the need to think in terms
>> of what gives a ruling authority, not what makes the most sense from
>> a historical or scientific perspective.

> With all due respect, mitzvah isn't passive.  It's factitive, which is
> sometimes consider intensive.  The opposite of passive.

This is tangential, since the notion of mitzvah as a means of becoming
a certain kind of person doesn't require analyzing the word. But even
on the diqduq level, what is important to my note was that it is a
circumlocution compared to the base "tzavah". A biblical mishmar is
a place of confinement or a guardpost, not the act of guarding or the
thing to guard. And that opens space for derashos as to why HQBH picked
this term.

(Blog post updated, in any case. Tnx.)

> And the reason we should correct the mistaken ("evolved") version of
> what a kezayit is is because the current measures lead to violations in
> other areas.  Bal tashchit, for one.  General gasut, for another...

This is a different procedure than the one I'm taking issue with. I have
no problem with the result of a small kezayis. I do have a problem with
conflating archeological data with halachic argument. The halakhah doesn't
have to stay still, so proof that it didn't doesn't mean much to me.
Here, you are making halachic argumment, with which I have no issue.

>                                                                      But
> the biggest reason of all is that the inflated shiurim were obviously the
> best that the poskim could do, lacking the actual olives to compare them
> to.  That being the case, the actual fact doesn't constitute a historical
> argument; it constitutes a reality-based argument.

Except that it presumes that halakhah is reality-based. It's not a
science, it's a legal system designed to change people. Who says it /should/
be reality based?

> I think this is a philosophical issue that has far wider implications. I
> see it as consonant with your argument that the Mabul could have been an
> event that never actually happened in the physical world...

This is a miunderstanding of my -- really the Maharal's and R' Dessler's
position (AIUI). I do not question whether the mabul happened in the
physical world. Rather, the question is how much of what we call "the
physical world" is really out there, and how much is a projection created
by human perception? The mabul really happened in the physical world,
as perceived by a different kind of consciousness than ours.


This is a very Kantian perspective, and R' Aryeh Carmell (in his role
as meivi la'or) believes that REED makes an intentional reference to
Kant. But it's also the worldview of Ernst Mach, to which Einstein
voiced agreement. The reason why the world works in ways that we can
Understand through science and math is that both the observed reality
we are studying and the subsets of science and math we create are shaped
by our being humans. It's not a coincidence.

The two ideas are emotionally linked, but are very different. In both
cases I'm telling Adam I not to get carried away with recent successes
in science and technology and therefore assume that they explain domains
other than their own. Their only connection is that I think my position
would be easier to accept if we didn't live in a point in history where
the Man of Faith, Adam II, were less sociologically lonely. (Existential
loneliness is inherent in the archetype.) A world where people issues
aren't considered more derivative than matters of physical reality.

A third instance, which I think is more logically similar to our topic
of historical olive sizes is my advocacy and elaboration of the shitah
(held by my rebbe among others) that the reason why bugs you can't see
with your eye aren't a kashrus issue, and bugs born from microscopic
eggs might as well be created abiogenically is that halakhah only cares
about the world as directly experienced, not as we can indirectly (eg
through instruments or otherwise confirmed theory) know it to be.

Here I'm saying that our evolution as a community goes hand in hand with
the evolution of halakhah. An accepted practice that was created via
the legal process therefore has redemptive power even if the scientific
assumptions behind it don't match reality. Like the magnifying-glass
sized bugs, because it's not objective reality but subjective experience
that changes people.

Or, to put it another way, the "reality" halakhah exists to address aren't
biological, chemical or physical, they are psychological, existential
and spiritual. We care more about how humans are encountering the world
than how the world is.

Not because of a deprecation of science, but because the harder sciences
a simply exploring a topic less related to changing people into more
extact images of the Divine.

And so halachic authority and communal continuity have the power to
refine the soul. Even if they don't match the old physical basis for the
prior law. A "kezayis" is what halachic process decides is a quantum
of food. Nothing directly to do with olives.

On Mon, Mar 25, 2013 at 02:30:00PM +0200, Ben Waxman wrote:
> On 3/25/2013 3:54 AM, Zev Sero wrote:
>> Really?!  The Rambam didn't have olives?!  All the geonim and rishonim
>> that give shiurim (and there are many listed in RACN's Shiurei Torah and
>> Shiurei Mikveh) didn't have olives?!  How can that be?

> And then if you take this idea to its logical conclusion (Rishonim got a  
> measurement wrong because they didn't have X) you would have to cast  
> doubt on every single explanation that Rashi and Tosophot give when  
> explaining some word, food, structure, etc from the Middle East. In  
> short, you'd have to rewrite the Halacha as we know it.

What scares me about R' Moshe ben Haim's approach is that what you're
proposing (IIUC) as an ad absurdum, an impossibility, he would actually
posit is the right way to go.

I posted a short while ago my opinion of his Nusach EY, which ignores
the weight Seder R' Amram Gaon gets by being the ancestor of the nusach
used by everyone else in the shomer shabbos world.


Micha Berger             Today is the 2nd day
micha at aishdas.org        in/toward the omer.
http://www.aishdas.org   Gevurah sheb'Chesed: What is constricted
Fax: (270) 514-1507                           Chesed?

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