[Avodah] guessing at history?

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Wed Oct 30 19:13:08 PDT 2019

On Wed, Sep 25, 2019 at 08:16:45AM +0000, Rich, Joel via Avodah wrote:
> I recently heard a shiur where the presenter described the "bad
> scholarship" of the Torah Tmimah when offering the "misread abbreviation"
> explanation (e.g. v'hazmanim really means fill in the holiday name). I
> thought it a bit unkind since ISTM the guessing about the historical
> circumstances of practices is what poskim do all the time (e.g. why some
> women have a minhag not doing mlacha on rosh chodesh)

I noticed that his father also gets very creative. The difference is,
the Arukh haShulchan's creative sevaros are always to try to figure
out how halakhah as practiced could have emerged from the texts. The TT
doesn't have that limitation.

But saying he was wrong doesn't need to be a value judgment.

For example, his theory that saying "Migdol" in (after?) bentching on
Shabbos and Yom Tov came from someone confusing "B"Sh" for "BeShemu'el B"
with "BeShabbos" is provably wrong. The Avudraham refers to the custom,
and yet predates the Christian publishing of Shemuel in two volumes.

Does that make the TT morally wrong for trying his best? Or intellectually
dishonest when he clearly warns you he is theorizing?

It is not unlike rabbanim who make other historical guess in the fact
that he too gueses. What is different is that most don't have as high
of a miss rate. Which means that you should buy into these theories with
a lot of caution and independent research.

Chodesh Tov!
Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 The purely righteous do not complain about evil,
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   but add justice, don't complain about heresy,
Author: Widen Your Tent      but add faith, don't complain about ignorance,
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF    but add wisdom.     - R AY Kook, Arpelei Tohar

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