[Avodah] ceremony in halacha

Eli Turkel via Avodah avodah at lists.aishdas.org
Fri Aug 21 02:02:01 PDT 2015

RHS following RYBS insists there is no such thing as ceremony in Judaism.
I am not sure I agree but in any case there are many things that appear as
ceremony to the average layman. Some examples include (inyama de-yoma)

1) Prozbul - while the originial takanah was for individuals that made
loans and meant a trip to bet din today it has become a piece of paper
signed given to the rabbi or some ad hoc bet din (similar to hatarat

2) nonJewish produce during shemitta - whther bought directly from nonJews
or through heter mechirah the end result is that the consumer feels little
difference between a shemitta year and a regular year. Only consumers that
use Otzar bet din have to account for shemitta rules (of course it affects
the farmer)

3) mechirat chametz - In the extreme one goes away for the entire Pesach,
sells everything in the house and returns after Pesach to eat whatever is
around, no need to even put away the chametz. For the rest of us it means
putting what we sell in some closet and for some getting rid of "real"
chametz like cakes

4) heter iska - again originally meant making a document for a specific
loan and allowing a possibility pf loss. Today (in Israel) the banks and
other financial insitutions have the document on the wall somewhere and
most customers are not even aware of it. Because of court cases the heter
iska has been refined so that the possibility of loss to the bank is
essentially zero.

In addition the heter iska today applies to non business loans - eg
renovating a house, buying a car or going on a pleasure trip

In addition to things that appear as cereonies to the average layman there
are halachot called "ha-aramh" which is a trick way of avoiding the usual
halacha. Again some eamples (again including inyana de-yoma"

1) paying the chazan for RH and YK for singing the first night of selichot

2) returning to shemitta - buying the lulav and throwing in for free the

3) R Tarfon "married" 300 women so they could eat termah
In an actual case involving yibum a couple without children and the husband
was senile and near death while the brother-in-law lived in New Zealand.
The solution was for the brother-in-law t "marry" the wife's sister and
then divorce her but now the wife no longer needs a yibum or chaitzah.

Note that pruzbol and heter iska began as ha-aaramah and later became a

I again stress that I am using ceremony in the way that most peopleview it.
Of course RHS would counter that these are halachic constructs and not
ceremonies. This is true in the halachic view but not in the popular view

Eli Turkel
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