[Avodah] Multivalent truth

Zvi Lampel zvilampel at gmail.com
Mon May 6 11:09:19 PDT 2019

On Mon, May 6, 2019 at 11:00 AM Micha Berger <micha at aishdas.org> wrote:

> On Mon, May 06, 2019 at 09:22:40AM -0400, Zvi Lampel wrote:
> : Most rishonim (Recanti may be an exception, and R. Meir ben Ezekiel
> : ibn Gabbai [1480-1540, in Avodas HaKodesh] probably is) do not
> : accept that eilu va'eilu means that something and its inverse can
> : both be true in the same situation, at the same time and place. Look
> : at Rashi on "All [the variant opinions] were given from one
> : Shepherd, one Almighty gave them, one leader said them from the Adon
> : of all maasim (Chaggigah 3b)." ...
> :
> :     "All of them--One Almighty said them": You have no one of the
> : bnei hamachlokess bringing evidence from the torah of any other god
> : besides the Torah of our G d.
> :
> :     "One leader said them": You have none bringing evidence from a
> : prophet who comes to argue against Moshe Rabbeynu.
> Not sure how that denies plurality of truths. He just says that eilu
> va'eilu must both stand on Toras Moshe.

You have to understand what's bothering Rashi. As I described it, he is
dislodging the adage from its naive reading, He's doing that for a reason.
Rashi is telling you the way to understand the adage whose naive meaning
would teach a concept of contradictory truths. The way is not the naive
way. He doesn't have to spell it out for you that he denies the naive way.

The last Rashi I quoted, which is omitted in your response, was

 "Make you ear act as a funnel/hopper": Since  all of them [the baalei
machlokess], their hearts are to heaven (leeban la-shamayim), make your
ear one that listens, and learn, and know the words of all of them. And
when you will know to discriminate (le-havchin) which one of them will
succeed (yichshar), establish that as the halacha.

The phrase, "Aysehua yichshar," is from Kohelless 11:6. ''In the morning,
sow your seed; and in the evening, do not let your hand rest [from doing so
again], because you do not know which [attempt] yichshar, whether this or
this, or if both of them are equally good.''

In Yevamos 55b Rashi explains this posuk's ''yichshar'' to mean

In explaining the adage that others use to promote the concept of
contradictory truths, he explains it not at all as talking about that, but
about determining pesak, and that (since the possibilities under
consideration are all sincere attempts to know G d's Will, and not anyone
else's) through sincere analysis one can decide which side if a machlokess
is correct. According to Rashi this adage is not at all talking about some
suggested truth outside of halacha l'ma'aseh. So according to Rashi, this
adage, used to promote the contradictory truths concept, is not at all
meant to teach that concept, which leaves us without that adage as a source
for that concept.

But in Kesuvos 57a, "ha QML", Rashi says that one side being wrong in
> a machloqes is something specific to two amoraim arguing about what a
> tanna or earlier amora says, "terei amora'ei aliba dechad amora". A limit
> which would seem to be intentionally excludes the gemara's other case
> "terei amora'ei aliba dechad amora".
> The earlier amora could only have meant one of the two. But the Torah
> could indeed mean both.

Again, you're not showing that Rashi holds this, just that he's not saying
he doesn't, and that you wish to impose it upon him.

But if he held it, here is where he would say so. The fact he's going out
of his way to take a statement that would apparently support the concept,
yet explains it to mean something else, indicates he does not support the
apparent concept. Otherwise, he should give that as an explanation ("in G
d's mind, opposites can be true, so both sides of a machlokess are truths")
or say nothing, and let the reader read it naively.

Further, he explicitly says that eilu va-eilu means that each side of a
machlokess will hold true in DIFFERENT circumstances, but not at the same
time and place and situations.

> And  then we have the Ran's haqdamah to haMafteiach leMenulei haTalmud
> (tr. R/Dr Moshe Halbertal):
>     It is a known fact that the entire Torah, written and oral,
>     was transm itted to Moses, as it says in the tractate Meggilah,
>     R. Hiyya bar Abba said in the Name of R. Yohanan: The verse:...and
>     on them was written according to all the words.." teaches that the
>     Holy One blessed be He showed Moses the details prescribed by the
>     Torah and by the Sages, including the innovations they would later
>     enact. And what are those? the reading of Meggila. The 'details'
>     provided by the rabbis are halakhic disputes and conflicting views
>     held by the sa ges of Israel. Moses learned them all by divine
>     word with no resolution every controversy in detail. Yet [God]
>     also gave him a rule whose truth is manifest, i.e., 'Favor the
>     majority opinion'....as the sages of that generation saw fit, for
>     the decision had already been delegated to them as it is written:
>     'And you shall come to the priest the Levites, and to the judge that
>     shall be in those days' and 'You shall not deviate....".

The sentence translated  "Yet [God]
    also gave him a rule whose truth is manifest, i.e., 'Favor the
    majority opinion'..." is crucial and mistranslated. The sentence
actually reads, "Umassar bo klal asher bo yodea ha-emmess, v'hu: acharei
rabim l-hatos. The correct translation, as I've pointed out before, is "G d
gave him a rule through which one knows the truth." Because between the
opinions, one is the truth and the other is not. Why did the author create
a distorted translation? And what in the world does "a rule whose truth is
manifest" supposed to mean, anyway??

> And the Ran, derashah #7:
>    We have been commanded to obey their decision whether it represents the
>    truth or its opposite ...for the power of decision-making has been
>    entrusted to the halakhic authorities for each generation. Whatever
>    they decide is what God has commanded.

Exactly. There is a a truth and its opposite. Not two contradictory truths.
And the Ran goes on to explain that in very rare instances the Sages may
err and reach the opposite of the truth, but the negative effects of our
following a false halacha are mitigated by the overriding positive effects
of our being loyal to the Torah's rule of following the majority.

> The Ritva on eilu va'eilu https://www.sefaria.org/Ritva_on_Eruvin.13b.2
> endorses an understanding of Rabanei Tzarfat (who I think are Baalei
> Tosafos) that HQBH gave Moshe both, saying that it was up to chakhmei
> Yisrael bekhol dor vador... uvderekh ha'emes yeish ta'am sod bedavar

> In short, your position is contrary to both R' Michel Rosenseig and
> RMH's takes, and I've posted source like these in the past.

 The Avodas HaKodesh (Cheilek HaTachlis and chap.23), a rishon, contra
these contemporaries, dismisses the Rabanie Tzarfat in favor of what is as
close to a multi-truths concept you can find (and even he may be speaking
only  hyperbolically). He doesn't understand them to be saying there are
multiple truths. Rabanei Tzarfat are saying HKBH revelaled to Moshe all the
legitimate pros and cons (the various panim, not the various shittos)
involved in situations which are to be weighed by the Sages in each
situation to arrive at the correct pesak.

Zvi Lampel

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