[Avodah] Mesora only through Rashi

Micha Berger via Avodah avodah at lists.aishdas.org
Wed Sep 16 16:20:10 PDT 2015

On Sun, Aug 23, 2015 at 12:06:16AM +0100, Chana Luntz via Avodah wrote:
:> I intend to write a post on the meaning of the word "mesorah" as developed
:> in RYBS's and RHS's thought as the start of its own thread.

See http://www.torahmusings.com/2015/08/what-does-masorah-mean

: And this is where this slide from discussing one slice of the mesorah - what
: to do in Yeshiva, to a much wider slice of the mesorah becomes problematic,
: because of the implication you have just made which is that what is true of
: the section applies to the whole...

Well, that's sort of it, isn't it? You're making a distinction between
learning in a semichah shiur and learning how to pasqen. I don't think
RYBS would.

IOW, his whole point about needing mesorah is because he denies your
premise. Leshitaso, you pasqen more from lomdus than from codes; or
to put it more clearly -- you need a Rashi and a Tosafos to teach you
how to fill in between the data points of a Yad or SA.

For that matter, this is clearly the AhS's approach to pesaq.

And the entire school which runs from Gemara to Rambam vs Rosh
(at al) to Tur, BY, SA, Rama, Shach, Taz (et al)...

This is how pesaq comes to be. Not from deciding between codes but
from using the flow of mesorah to decide between them. Otherwise,
shu"t would read like surveys; and even ROY doesn't end with his

: RGS comments that he and his father tried to learn meseches Nedarim just
: using the meforash, in the absence of Rashi, and were not able to do so
: (they were then only able to do it using the Ran, a much later commentary) -
: thus demonstrating the point of the post, which is, without Rashi, most of
: the Talmud Bavli would be a closed book to most people of average, and even
: above average, intelligence (like the Talmud Yerushalmi).

Actually, RYBS said that.

: This is unquestionably true.
: The Rambam was also aware of this problem (after all he learned all of
: Talmud Bavli without Rashi and everybody he knew either did so or tried to
: do so).  His solution to RGS's problem was to tell RGS and his father, and
: people like him, not to try and learn Talmud Bavli, but to learn his, the
: Rambam's, Code instead...

Not really. His code is mishnah, not gemara. He tells beginners to do
their shelish bemiqra in his code. And then you should be able to
graduate from it, and from the whole need to divide one's time into

: Our mesorah is like Rashi in this regard and not the Rambam (except when it
: comes to smicha students).  We open up the Talmud Bavli even to children
: using Rashi and hundreds of thousands are sitting in yeshiva following
: Rashi.

Huh? Rashi didn't expect kids to start with Tanakh? Where does this come
into the whole discussion?

: The problem is that people (it would appear including you) then generalise
: from "how we learn" to "how we posken" - which is what really is involved in
: the discussion regarding Open O and feminism.  And they are not the same
: thing at all.  Indeed, the fact that smicha students (those that are being
: set up to posken) are taught in a totally different way to the more general
: way of learning in yeshiva, and one that owes far more to the Rambam than to
: Rashi and Tosphos should alert you to that.

I do not believe the closing sentence. RYBS was giving one shiur to
cover both. But that's RYBS, not my own leanings. I do see lomdus,
in which the goal is to justify every opinion, and pesaq, in which the
goal is to decide which opinion is most justified, to be different.

But again, one doesn't pasqen from codes without the tools learned from

For that matter, if it's a halakhah pesuqah, one isn't pasqening at all.

: What Rashi did was to provide a clear and simple explanation of the words on
: the page.
: What Tosphos did ...

And the Me'iri opened the gemara in a third way. That seems to be a
pretty complete taxonomy of parshanim.
Then there are codes.
Then there is shu"t.
And most recently, encyclopedias / collections.

: On the other hand, RET is correct:

:> Remember that when the SA appeared there were strong objections against
:> the concept.
:> Many felt that a posek should know the sources and make his own
:> interpretation and not rely or be bound by any text.

: Although I would modify that statement not to say "and not be bound by any
: text", as most at that point agreed that they should be bound by the gemora
: (and the Tanach as understood by the mishna/gemora), just not beyond that.

The Maharal's actual objection:
    To decide halakhic questions from the codes without knowing the logic
    of the ruling was not the intent of these authors [Rambam, Tur, SA,
    et al]. Had they known that their works would lead to the abandonment
    of Talmud, they would not have written them. It is better for one
    to decide on thebasis of the Talmud even though he might err, for a
    scholar must depend solely on his understanding. As such, he is beloved
    of God, and preferable tothe one who rules from a code but does not
    know thereason for the ruling; such a one walks like a blind person.

See Nesivos Olam, Nesiv haTorah ch 15.

(I invoked the above thought about shelish bemishnah only being for
beginners [from Hil TT] and the MT only being a replacement for the
hoi palloi to justify the Maharal's statement WRT the Rambam. See
RMRabi's and my months-long discussion.)

Actually, what I think won the day for the SA was that the SA stopped
being a code when they started publishing everyone on the sides. That's
what it seems from the Maharal. Presumably his brother, the Yam shel
Shelomo, would agree.

: And RMB replied:
:> Actualy, it's only those who have an eye on common practice. After all, we
:> discuss machloqesin between Rashi and the Rambam in halakhah lemasseh
:> contexts all the time. And if Ashkenazim accepted Rashi's ruling, or one
:> found in Tosafos, the Rama has no problem limiting his pesaq to that rather
:> than that of the Rif, Rambam or Tur. And had there not been a Rama, then
:> some shu"t or parshan could as well.
: But neither Rashi nor Tosphos gave us any method of limiting where psak
: went, and indeed the Ri can hold one thing and Rabbanu Tam another within
: the same Tosphos.   The Codes are far less open...

But they only cover specific cases. They don't teach how to extent
beyond those cases. So in general, the codes are more open than Rashi,
the Ri or Rabbeinu Tam who help you by providing a why that tells you
how far to take the point. A code is way open except for the cases they


Micha Berger                 Time flies...
micha at aishdas.org                    ... but you're the pilot.
http://www.aishdas.org                       - R' Zelig Pliskin
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