[Avodah] Kitniyot

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Thu Mar 28 14:03:41 PDT 2013

On Thu, Mar 28, 2013 at 01:48:19PM -0500, Lisa Liel wrote:
> Mishmar is a good example.  It is far from passive.  It denotes an
> intensive guarding.  Not merely an incidental one, but one for which
> the mishmar was created.

It denotes something one guards with, not the thing being guarded or
the act of guarding.

DhY I 26: Mishmaros are people doing guarding
Nechemia 4:3: The mishmar is the cohort guarding the breaches in the wall
Nechemia 12: Mishmaros are storehouses.

If mitzvah were exactly parallel, it would refer to Moshe Rabbeinu.

But in either case, it's not tzavah, something defined by its being

>>>                                                                       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?

> We aren't Christians. We insist on the reality that Hashem gave us the
> Torah at Sinai and that what we have now is that Torah. A legal system
> designed to change people is all well and good, though it's much more
> something you'd hear in a shul sermon than in any actual mar'ei mekomot,
> but there's no way the k'zayit was inflated in order to change people...

I'm saying it's a legal process because it evolves as our culture does.

You're saying that the historical size of an olive 2000 years ago helps
"ha'adam nif'al lefi pe'ulaso" more than that continuity. Or than giving
people the power to partner with G-d to find a means of redemption.

And as for mar'eh meqomos... I made a more rigorous argtument at
<http://www.aishdas.org/asp/2013/03/tzav.shtml> than I did here. To quote:
    ... When the Radziner Rebbe concluded that the chilazon, the source of
    the blue tekheiles dye, was the cuttlefish, R' Chaim Brisker wouldn't
    even weigh the quality of his arguments. Rav Chaim would not accept
    external evidence to reestablish the identity of the chilazon in the
    face of halachic silence. I found that a chiddush, but I find the
    overturning of halakhah when it was not silent to be a greater one.

    The Torah Temimah (Maqor Barukh 583) repeats a tradition he received
    from a Rav Eliyahu Goldberg about Rav Chaim Volozhiner. A knife
    takes on the meatiness (or milkiness) of the food it cut in two
    cases: if the food is physically hot, or if the food a davar charif,
    something with a sharp or hot taste. The Shulchan Arukh's examples
    are garlic, onion or leek (YD 96:1). Later on (96:5), the Shulchan
    Arukh discusses turnips among other things.

    But when a woman came to Rav Chaim asking about just such a case --
    she cut meat and turnips with a dairy knife, Rav Chaim didn't simply
    tell her the food wasn't kosher. He instead asked he the color of
    the turnip. She said it was a white turnip. Rav Chaim allowed her
    to eat the food. Why? Because while the Shulchan Arukh said that
    turnips were a davar charif, Rav Chaim didn't believe this to be
    true experientially. Still, R' Chaim wouldn't overturn an accepted
    halakhah in the Shulchan Arukh! So, he drew a distinction between
    the dark skinned turnips the SA's author would have encountered
    in the middle east, with the white skinned ones more common in
    Lithuania, and thereby felt comfortable ruling. In other words, R'
    Chaim Volozhiner was willing to give some authority (at least in the
    case he was undeniably speaking of) to the Shulchan Arukh even when
    it was based on a reality that ran counter to his senses.

Not in that post, but should be... The Rambam, Hil Shemitah veYovel
10:5-6. He reports that the geonim had a mesorah that between the two
batei miqdash and since churban bayis sheini, they only counted shemitah
without counting yovel. And the Rambam said it is incorrect -- that one
can't count the yovel year toward the shemitah cycle, so that counting
one without the other gets you to the theoretically wrong year. Still,
the Rambam says "shehaqabalah vehama'aseh amudim gedolim behora'ah,
uvahen ra'ui lehitalos."

> It was an incidental thing, done without any intent of changing reality,
> but rather of best approximating the reality given what was known.

But once it was rules and followed, it has legal import. The argument
against it should also be legal in form.

> But this is sort of a recapitulation of the Beit Hillel / Beit Shammai
> dispute. Beit Hillel dealt with reality. Real humans, with real heights
> and real abilities. Beit Shammai taught about Adam HaRishon standing as
> a giant, and Moshe Rabbenu leaping ridiculous distances into the air.
> Not out of fancy, but out of a sense of theology. Out of an idea
> that reality wasn't the critical thing; how the Torah affects people
> is the critical thing.

This is more conjectural than our original topic. Nor does the last
sentence follow from what you wrote before. You surmize that Beis Hillel
dealt with real people and real abilities. But then you describe Beis
Shammai dealt with what they believed were the objective realities both
physical and metaphysical.

>> 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.

> Honestly... that's a lot of words.  It's the kind of thing I'd expect to  
> see in a philosophy course in a university. It's theology...

Mach was a theologian? This is handwaving past something you won't bother
to follow. Your argument is an appeal to personal taste:
>                                    Phrases like "how much of what we
> call the physical world is a projection created by human perception" make
> me cringe...

To which there is no response.

> I disagree with your reading of REED, and lacking the text of the  
> Maharal that you're referring to, I can't comment on it.

>> 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.

> I doubt that.  Einstein couldn't even accept quantum mechanics, since it  
> didn't comform to his understanding of concrete reality.

>From the Stanford Encyc of Philosophy
    This does not, at first, preclude one's holding at least to the
    Kantian problematic, as, e.g., Cassirer has done. I am even of
    the opinion that this standpoint can be rigorously refuted by no
    development of natural science. For one will always be able to say
    that critical philosophers have until now erred in the establishment
    of the a priori elements, and one will always be able to establish a
    system of a priori elements that does not contradict a given physical
    system. Let me briefly indicate why I do not find this standpoint
    natural. A physical theory consists of the parts (elements) A, B, C,
    D, that together constitute a logical whole which correctly connects
    the pertinent experiments (sense experiences). Then it tends to be
    the case that the aggregate of fewer than all four elements, e.g.,
    A, B, D, without C, no longer says anything about these experiences,
    and just as well A, B, C without D. One is then free to regard the
    aggregate of three of these elements, e.g., A, B, C as a priori, and
    only D as empirically conditioned. But what remains unsatisfactory
    in this is always the arbitrariness in the choice of those elements
    that one designates as a priori, entirely apart from the fact that the
    theory could one day be replaced by another that replaces certain of
    these elements (or all four) by others.
				(Einstein 1924, 1688 -- 1689)

    It appears to me that the word "real" is taken in different senses,
    according to whether impressions or events, that is to say, states
    of affairs in the physical sense, are spoken of.

    If two different peoples pursue physics independently of
    one another, they will create systems that certainly agree as
    regards the impressions ("elements" in Mach's sense). The mental
    constructions that the two devise for connecting these "elements"
    can be vastly different. And the two constructions need not agree
    as regards the "events"; for these surely belong to the conceptual
    constructions. Certainly on the "elements," but not the "events,"
    are real in the sense of being "given unavoidably in experience."

    But if we designate as "real" that which we arrange in the
    space-time-schema, as you have done in the theory of knowledge, then
    without doubt the "events," above all, are real.... I would like to
    recommend a clean conceptual distinction here.
		    (Einstein to Schlick, 21 May 1917, EA 21-618, ECP 8-343)

>> 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.

> That's a false dichotomy.  Prior to the arrival of a fact, the halakha  
> can be x, due to chazaka or approximation or error.  Subsequent to the  
> arrival of that fact, maintaining the halakha to be x in the face of the  
> contradictory fact is contrary to sense, and is bad halakha.

Halakhah has rules of legislation. Apparently it is not a given that
"corrected to match intended reality" is one of them.


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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